The Drunkard’s dozen, and one for the road;)

When I visit Kodagu, I not only make a choice to blissfully cut off myself from the gadget civilization, but the erratic Electricity Board practically forces it on me too. So I try to read the local news papers  in Kannada to brush up my language skills. Last visit, I was reading the paper and burst out laughing with tears rolling from the eyes. My husband was curious to learn the reason and I warned him, you are not going to like what I say… but he insisted!

I said have you heard of Drunkard’s dozen? You can use it in your next Bingo session… (actually I made up the word) and started laughing again because my mind went elsewhere, to Pakistan to be precise! He was looking at me with a sort of grin and irritation… then I narrated out the news item from the newspaper dabbed with little spice:

{May 28th 2017, – Virajpet} The way it seems, the Keralites are exceptionally Law abiding(***) citizens of India. The Cops seems to be either busy controlling the striking employees or chasing the drunken brawlers… If you take the Nagarahole road to Mysuru, after the check point of Thithimathi, you can often see many Kerala  registered cars from Mercedes to little Nano parked here and there even braving the elephant crossing. I joke with my husband, guess Mallu’s are scared of their abkari and cops more than the biggest mammal!

Lure of alcohol is more powerful than most, as long as the effect is on, one can be what they want to be… a Maharaja or a Celebrity or a Super being. Moreover alcohol is unbiased, has no religion, no gender or language discrimination, sings lullaby even to the beggar/pauper/criminal alike, teaches punctuality to the believer, and embraces everyone in the same manner including animals. Jokes aside, heard of fermented Marula fruit party of animals in Africa? The animals relentlessly keep coming back for more and more inspite of losing balance while walking. Fortunately (unfortunately for some) there is a limit to Man’s ability to drink and eat… and unlike Mr.FAT there is no storage facility for the alcohol either. The chemical cocktail that runs through every creature called addiction are often difficult to control and in Kerala there are one too many devoted to Ms Madire (alcohol). So what is the easiest path to romance or mate with her?

Simply get into a bus or car and depending where you live travel to Mahe or Karnataka. For example the boarder Taluk of Virajpet in Kodagu district of Karnataka and have a fill. Sadly one State’s restriction is another States boon. Ironically Mahe (aka Mayyazhi locally) surrounded by Kerala on three sides but governed by the union territory Puducherry (Pondicherry) with low taxes!

So during the last week of May 2017, one young genius in Lungi, the traditional attire, came up with a brilliant plan. He brought eleven quarter bottle (usually its flat bottles) and tied them to his sexy legs with white cotton rope, one with six and the other with five. Though seemed a dubious plan, it was the best he could do to avoid being caught by the custom officials at the check posts of Makutta and Perambadi. Perhaps he even would have gotten away fairly easily as the Lungi would cover the bottles and rope without any bulges. But like the famous phrase.. “One for the road”, made the plan famous and colourful.

That day KSRTC, – both the Kerala State government and Karnataka State government transport buses are called KSRTC – was running late.  Poor man in Lungi could not resist the call for the last drink like a snake to the charmer’s Pungi, got another quarter and chugged the shot fearing the arrival of the bus. Already high, as the Ms Madire subjugated, he could not even stand or walk. So under duress just sat on the ground, as the Lungi opened revealing his beautiful sexy legs along with the bottles. Rest is history… someone with the smart phone got smarter and clicked the picture and sent to the media.

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As I finished my narration, my husband burst out laughing but in between he said then what is the Drunkard’s dozen and Pakistani connection?

Well, sorry guys I have to admit its little nasty but that was the thought that came to me… I am not challenging the manhood but it’s just a funny episode in the mundane day to day life. I told him, it’s all about the importance or perception of manhood for certain category of people. I was wondering why only the odd eleven bottles and why not twelve? Then realized that in a drunken state, the man in Lungi must have mistaken or counted his organ as the twelfth bottle! It’s not different from a drunkard thinking he/she can drive in supersonic speed or consider themselves as superman/woman.

And as far the Pakistani connection goes, remember 4 – 5 years ago a suicide bombers’ devise would not detonate because he was wearing a metal shield around his genital area to carry it whole to heaven? Wow, amazingly he thought leaving it whole on Earth would reach Heaven without blemish too. Then there is the failed Christmas day unwashed-underwear bomb too…

My husband did not say anything so I thought it was OK to post it… But I am still wondering who is the smartest of the three? And which addiction is more powerful? Is wearing pant better than Lungi while smuggling?

*** Even though India is one sovereign entity, each State has its own independent rules and regulations within the state. Often it is stretched too thin and hard to comprehend. For decades I lived in a tax free country Kuwait, where there was restriction for very few items like drugs, alcohol, pork. Yet people try to smuggle it not only for quick bucks but also for personal indulgence. Always the modus operandi is exclusive; often mind blowing which could turns funny, nasty or stupid too. Like the drugs carrier mules sorry humans, swallowing plastic bags with drugs or kept in private parts, etc.. I often wondered how it is in a large country with limited restrictions or free movement between the states.

In Karnataka, alcohol sale is a big business… both as money spinner to state government as well as politicians/abkari/police department’s coffer filling golden goose, who are like the mosquitoes sucking out on decomposed mushrooms! Sadly as long as the last alcoholic is standing, demand and supply will continue and the trend will continue. Pathetically, as if the half crack-nasty, ego bound drivers are not bad enough, it is even sold on highways… However, the next door neighbour state Kerala has a different covenant even though they enjoy “Kallapam”, a alcohol based breakfast. Say no to “Kallu” and encourage drinking “Chaya”, the famed Kerala milk-tea,. According to Mr. Google uncle, the state owned Bevco (Kerala State Beverage Corp) has 338 shops, and Bevco will shut down 10% of them every year. Consumer fed, which has 46 shops, will also be closed. However, sale of alcohol will continue to be permitted in 5-star hotels, and there were fourteen 5-star hotels in the state as of August 2014. That means big wigs can still drink, in other words liquor is not really banned; only the location is restricted!!

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Tippu Series Part 7: Force Conversion in Coorg & beyond

Tippu’s Life Mantra was expansion.. & expansion… & expansion by any means… by forcible conversion to ensure loyalty. His first, second & the third languages were barbarism. His world revolved around expansion & would go to any length to fulfill his wishes, sometimes with vengeance.. as if possessed by some satanic powers. He would do anything & everything to conquer the world. At least Alexander the great went to grave as a Wiseman but Tipu’s cruelty was beyond imagination. He was also a man of many passions… blood was his main passion… Out right cow slaughter was yet another passion… His theory of killing the cows was to deprive people of the essential milk, manure for the crops & indirectly indicating you are next if you don’t obey my orders!! What ingenuity!!

Another passion was “penies trimming” (early days in Kodagu Tipu’s nick name was bith..-muripava… (bith = penis) it may sound strange but I remember that when I was young, we used to visit our clan homes (maternal & paternal) during summer holidays. {Clan homes are something like a group of individual homes surrounding the main home which is like the substratum of the clan). Those nostalgic memories even today brings a warm feeling… going to my mother’s “Balyamane” (clan home) was the best.. my Mum’s parents were dead even before I was born but we went to her Uncle Konerira Devaiah Thata’s house. His wife was a very fine woman… She was my favourite among all the older women I knew… a frail & gentle woman with the mental strength of a horse ran the house so well… she always had something nice to offer us kids to eat. I would sleep with her some times to listen to stories. Older men told us stories.. including clan stories.. War stories… Sometimes we heard the discussion among the men… there was no dearth of anything… there was always someone to cater to our requirement of any kind. Women fed us, the ones with bottom less pit for a stomach. All the other older men & women even my Mum’s 50th cousin also treated us like their own. Evenings whichever kitchen sent the best aroma attracted us most!!Evenings after lighting the lamp… all the kids said their ‘Baayepata” (alphabets, tables, counting, etc…) then it would always be story times. Sadly those kind of set up is almost extinct.. It was so much fun… there were no dearth of uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins… we were welcome in every home, could eat or play wherever we wanted… if any elders see a little boy running around without shorts, would yell at them.. odu mummyra pakka chaddi itta baa.. Tippura kuli bandruva.. The terms for the young boys used were “kokmani Murchiruva” or Kokmani katturuva” (muri = cut, katturva = will steal). Go immediately to mamma & wear shorts.. Tippu’s ghost might come. Even his ghost was not trusted. Such was the scar left behind.

I remember hearing the words, “aa nichangu narakatulu jaga ille..” (for that …. even in hell there is no place… I don’t know the equivalent word for nicha in English). Now as I learn more about him I understand what the elders said has some meaning… I am sure his soul wonders on the street after being kicked out of hell for nasty behaior, often catching up with some weak soul & sometimes wonders off to Vidhana Soudha & comes in the dreams of the sleeping politicians. That’s why you can see them coming up with words like “Mannina maga”, Great rulers, etc….

The Captivity of Kodavas at Seringapatam speaks chiefly of the capture & imprisonment of Kodava Hindus by Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, during a number of attempts to suppress their rebellion in the 1780s. These captives were forcibly deported, some of them were converted & some were killed. The estimated numbers of the captives vary according to different sources, from 500 (according to Punganuri) to 85,000 (according to B. L. Rice). During the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789-1792) 5,000 Coorg men along with their families, amounting to 12,000 people escaped from prison in Seringapatam (Srirangapatna) & came back into Coorg.

Kodavas are a race, relatively small but close knit community with unique culture. They practice caste endogamy and family exogamy to ensure healthy off-springs. Hence every individual clan is related to all the other clans too. Kodavas are born & conversion is not acceptable. Hence loss of a single member means a lot to the community. To the Kodavas, maniac Tipu’s bigoted dance of death & ethnic cleansing at their homeland remains a wound that will never heal. Like the Kodava proverb goes “Chuttava markalu, chuduchittavangu marivakaiyule” (the one set fire can forget but the one who got burnt can never forget). As a way to remember, many Koadvas had their dogs named as Tippu!! Street dogs in Coorg are contemptuously called Tipu a measure of how intensely he is reviled there. Poor dogs…

Guess he could not tolerate anyone having a happy family life, which irked the malicious Devil’s Advocate Tipu the most… bringing out the worst in him, which eventually shattered the happy families.

Tippu Series Part 6: How did the Tiger became LAME?

In January, 1790 Tipu launched an attack against Travancore but due to certain unexpected turn of events he ended up with a humiliating defeat. Tipu & his army were camping on the banks of the Alwaye River before launching the attack on the Travancore defense lines (Nedunkotta Fort). The Travancore army was no match for the huge Mysore army & the monsoon season was 4 – 5 months away. Therefore, a temporary bund was constructed way up on the stream by a team headed by Mr. Kalikutty Nair under the guidance of Raja Kesavadas, the Prime Minister of Travancore. When the Mysore army launched its assault & Nedunkotta was penetrated, the temporary bund was breached in the midst of heavy fighting, causing an unexpected flood which drowned many Tipu’s soldiers & rendered the gunpowder wet & useless causing panic & confusion in the Mysore army. {Sadly even the valiant Kalikutty Nair was also drowned in the sudden surge of water & became a martyr}. The triumphant Nair forces of Travancore inflicted heavy casualties on the invading army. In the confusion Tipu Sultan fell down from the ramparts of the fort into the ditch below along with his palanquin. The fall made him permanently LAME.

It is recorded in Travancore history & also confirmed by the local folklore that as the wounded Tipu was lying unconscious in the battlefield he was rescued by a Nair soldier who quietly carried the unconscious Sultan to the Mysore military camp during the night & left quickly (p. 518). The brave Nair soldier could have easily killed the unconscious Tipu but unlike power hungry maniac Tipu, killing a wounded was against Nair’s ethical beliefs.

Later on, the Travancore forces recovered from the ditch, the sword, the palanquin, the dagger, the ring & many other personal effects of Tipu & presented them to the Dharma Raja. Some of Tipu’s personal weapons & ornaments were sent to the Nawab of Arcot on his request (Travancore History by P. Sankunny Menon, published by Kerala Bhasha Institute, Trivandrum, pp. 191-92).

According to Mr. Powney, who was the Resident Representative of the English Company in Travancore, Tipu’s attack was not only effectively stopped by the Travancore army, Tipu himself fell down from the rampart, was seriously wounded, & was rendered permanently lame during the counter-attack by the Travancore forces.

Tippu Series Part 5: What’s with Astrology & Tippu?

He was an unusually unpredictable character & a delusional soul… he claimed that he was a Muslim. However, since his passion for expansion weighed greater, he was addicted to astrology. He consulted astrologers, believed in omens, sought answers for his dreams… on behest of astrological predictions observed some Hindu believes to ward of trouble… Even spared some temples from destruction to avoid curse!! Yet he used conversion as a tool… perhaps he must have thought that they would be loyal?

He enjoyed the destruction of temples… His destruction of Hindu temples were innumerable. The intensity of Tipu’s raid was so terrifying that hundreds of temple priests from Kodagu fled to Mangalore along with their families. Many Priests had to dump the idols & the other holy artifacts into temple wells to protect it. Many priests lost their lives. Worship came to a permanent halt in several temples. Like the Maletirike Bhagavati temple at Virajpet some temple were covered with leaves in order to conceal their presence. The famous Omkareshwara (Shiva) temple of Madikeri faced mortal danger. To avert it from Tippu’s wrath the ruler of Madikeri removed the existing tower (Kalasha) of the temple & replaced it with a dome so that it appeared like a Mosque from afar. To this day it stands with its dome as a testament to Tippu’s destruction spree!

On the other hand it is on record that the Tipu addressed the head of the Sringeri Math, Sachchidananda Bharati, as Jagadguru (“World Teacher”; Saletore, 1999, p. 127) &, according to an eyewitness account, “went barefoot to [the] . . . Math to receive the Swamy’s blessings & to ask him to pass on a letter to the Marathas requesting them to take his side than that of the British” (Subhan, 2002, p. 43). Tipu patronized the temples of Sri Gandeswara & Sri Ranganatha. Subbaraya Chetty (1999) cites a list of grants from the Sultan to the Hindu temples & priests.

As the an astrology freak he consulted Hindu astrologer to find out right time to travel, start & wage wars, gave Brahmins dakshina to clear any bad omens. So much so, he was wearing a 41.2 gm oval yellow gold ring with the name of the Hindu God Rama inscribed in raised Devanagari given by Sankaracharya of Sringeri Math. He must have hoped that by wearing such a ring, he would reach the status of reverence like Lord Rama & his lies will be covered. {The famous ring was sold in Christie’s auction as part of the Raglan Collection on May 23, 2011 for 1.5 crore rupees. It was taken off the finger of the dead ruler by the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, as his personal spoil of war after the Battle of Seringapatam in 1799.} Astrologers obliged him fearing for their lives, their family & to protect their deities. Because of Tipu’s trust in astrology, astrologers managed to convince him that offering poojas on behalf of him at Sri Ranganath temple will give him immense power that he seeks. That’s one of the reasons few of the temples like Sri Ranganatha is still standing! Not because he was an apostle of secularism, peace & religious tolerant! {Sri Ranga did pay his debt by saving Tipu’s life once… read further!) Also it is said that Tippu used to dream & would seek meanings & solutions for his dreams from both Hindus & Muslim astrologers….. it is not surprising!! How could one sleep in peace after the evil destruction?

In 1960s when there was heavy rains & flooding in Lakshmanathirata River, many artifacts such as lamps washed up from the sand near my cousin’s home. He not only destroyed the two temples (there were very few temples in Kodagu) near my ancestral home in Napoklu, Kodagu but also along with it, set fire to the  homes of Kodavas & burnt everyone inside alive by not allowing anyone to leave. The atrocities meted out on Nairs (in general it is referred as Nairs but it is inclusive of all the Hindus of Kerala), Kodavas, Brahmins, Catholics in Mangalore, is beyond imagination. Interestingly, according to the folk lore, the origin of Badaga community of Coonoor (Tamil Nadu) with their uniquely beautiful culture & songs originated when their revered “Hethai“ managed to escape Tipu’s advances with handful of trusted people from Karnataka. Luckily they managed to make a living & to keep their culture & tradition alive. There are one too many untold tragic calamities befell on so many communities & families.

Tipu’s correspondences with the Sankaracharya of Sringeri Math reveal his scare for the foreboding of doom that he tried desperately to counter (Sharma, 1991). A firm believer in astrology, he often resorted to religious rituals & wore apotropaic objects & trinkets—Hindu as well as Islamic—either to avert a disaster or to attain success in his undertakings. A near contemporary historical account describes how, on May 4, 1799, the day Tipu died in the battlefield, he had ordered for all the ceremonies prescribed by the Brahmins to be duly performed, & having given them several presents, requested their prayers for the prosperity of his government. He also ordered to be slaughtered two elephants with all their golden trappings; . . . & large sums of gold mohurs were distributed amongst the beggars. (Maistre De La Touche & Mohammad, 1855, p. 307)

When the morning of May 4th came, Tipu was told that, the omens were not propitious. Since fighting was inevitable, He tried to ward off misfortune. Perhaps his black soul was so huge, even the elephants souls could not carry it away which stayed behind to welcome the death personally!! He appears to have developed a defeatist mentality of a doomed man several months before the siege of Srirangapatnam. Lieutenant Wilks writes of the Sultan’s apprehension of an impending dissolution of his empire based on a folk tale of cephalomancy he sincerely believed. {Cephalomancy: Divination by the study of the skull or head of a donkey or goat. Sometimes mentioned as the roasting of an ass’s head on hot coals}. According to this tale, the mysterious power of a crushed human skull showing some cracks caused the death of 40 persons. When Tipu noticed some cracks on the mast of the ship the Frenchman Ripaud had taken to the Isle of France, he was convinced that these cracks foreboded the destruction of his empire & thus “he readily made up his mind to throw himself unconditionally in his Lordship’s [Wellesley’s] compassion” after he had read the Governor General’s letter of January 9, 1799 (Wilks, 1810-1817/1869, Vol. 2, pp. 332-333). {Wilks does not mention how he obtained the information on Tipu’s reaction to Mornington’s letter of January 9, 1799.}

It’s very odd to write this… for all his offering to Hindu Gods & God men (Brahmins)… Sri Ranaga did save his life once, in the form of a Nair!!