Greetings to all our valued readers,
As the warm sunshine envelops us and the scent of blooming flowers fills the air, we welcome you to our June newsletter. With the arrival of summer, we embark on a journey of new beginnings and exciting adventures. In this edition, we have curated a collection of captivating stories and exclusive updates that will undoubtedly enrich your experience.
We invite you to dive into the captivating stories of remarkable individuals who have left an indelible mark in their respective fields. Their journeys of perseverance and success will surely inspire and motivate us all.
Thank you for being part of our community, and we hope this newsletter brings you joy, inspiration, and a renewed sense of enthusiasm as we embrace the summer months ahead.
(The above introduction was generated by ChatGPT – wanted to give that a try this month)
Father’s Day falls on June 18th this year. Happy Father’s Day, dads! A big shout out to all the dads, uncles, grandfathers, brothers and all father figures who make our lives so much better by being there for us.
— Smitha Nishant
Sreejith Chandran’s Random Ramblings
(One half of his brain has gone nomad and the other has gone in search of the first. Glorifying his random ramblings and packaging it is his main hobby! Otherwise sane and grounded.)
വായിക്കാതെ പോകരുത് പ്ളീസ്… കടുത്ത ഐഡന്റിറ്റി ക്രൈസിസ്, ഡിപ്രെഷനിലേക്കു പോയേക്കാവുന്ന തരത്തിൽ ഉള്ളത്…. പറ്റിയാൽ ഷെയറും ചെയ്യണം. ആരെങ്കിലും രെക്ഷപെട്ടാലോ. ഒരു തരത്തിലും പച്ച പിടിക്കുന്നില്ല. പല വഴിയും പയറ്റിനോക്കിയിട്ടും ഒരു കരക്കടുക്കുന്നില്ല! ഒരു ആത്മീയ ലൈൻ പിടിച്ചു നോക്കി, ഭാരതത്തെ കുറിച്ചും സംസ്കാരത്തെക്കുറിച്ചും ഒക്കെ ഘോരം ഘോരം പ്രസംഗിച്ചു. എന്ത് ഗുണം, ചാണകം ചാണകം എന്നുള്ള വിളികേട്ടു മനസുമടുത്തു!
എന്നാൽ പിന്നെ ഒരു ഗാന്ധിയൻ കോൺഗ്രസ് ലൈൻ നോക്കാമെന്നു വെച്ച് ഫേസ്ബുക്കിൽ കേറിയപ്പോൾ പഴയ പല കട്ട യൂത്തന്മാരു പോലും ഇപ്പോൾ അണ്ണാ ഡിഎംകെ ലേബലിൽ ആണ് പോസ്റ്റുകൾ ഇടുന്നതു! ഒടുവിൽ തിരിച്ചറിഞ്ഞു, കേരളത്തിൽ സോഷ്യൽ മീഡിയയിൽ പച്ചപിടിക്കണമെങ്കിൽ ഒരു യുക്തി, ഫെമിനിസ്റ്റിക്, ബുദ്ധിജീവി ആൻഡ് കമ്മി ലൈൻ തന്നെ വേണം എന്ന്. നേരെ പോയി ഒരു ചുവന്ന ഷെഡ്ഡിയും മേടിച്ചു ഇട്ടു. എവിടെ തുടങ്ങണം എന്നതായി അടുത്ത ചോദ്യം. അമ്മൂമ്മയിൽ നിന്ന് തന്നെ ആകട്ടെ എന്ന് തീരുമാനിച്ചു.
അടുത്ത ദിവസം തന്നെ ഫെഡെക്സിൽ പോയി അമ്മൂമ്മയുടെ പാട്രിയാർക്കിക്കൽ അനാർക്കിയെ (എന്തിരോ എന്തോ?) കുറിച്ച് സംസാരിച്ചു. എനിക്ക് തരേണ്ട ഒണക്കമീൻ വീട്ടിലെ പൂച്ചക്ക് കൊടുത്തത്തിലെ വിവേചനം ചോദ്യം ചെയ്തു. ആളുകൾ കൂവി തള്ളി (അതിലൊരുത്തൻ പറയുവാ, തള്ള ജീവിച്ചിരുന്നെങ്കിൽ വന്നു നിന്റെ ചെവിക്കല്ല് മൂളിച്ചേനെ എന്ന്). കവിത, സാഹിത്യം അങ്ങനെ അങ്ങനെ നോക്കിയാലോ എന്ന് വിചാരിച്ചു ദർബാർ രാഗത്തിൽ ഒരു കവിതയങ്ങു എഴുതി പബ്ലിഷ് ചെയ്തു, കുഞ്ഞമ്മ വിളിച്ചു പെറ്റ തള്ള സഹിക്കാത്ത തെറി! അവരുടെ മോള് രണ്ടാം ക്ലാസ്സിൽ എഴുതിയ കവിതയാത്രെ!
എന്നാൽ പിന്നെ കലയിലൂടെ നവോദ്ധാനം ഉണ്ടാക്കാം എന്ന ലക്ഷ്യത്തോടെ ഒരു കാക്കാരിശ്ശി നാടക നിശ സംഘടിപ്പിച്ചു. പോസ്റ്ററിൽ പേരും വെച്ചു. അത് അടപടലം മൂഞ്ചി! എന്ന് മാത്രമല്ല അണ്ണാ എന്ന് വിളിച്ച പല തെണ്ടികളും അക്ഷരം മാറ്റി *%#ണ്ണ വിളിച്ചു തുടങ്ങി. താടിയും മുടിയുമൊക്കെ വളർത്തി നോക്കി, എല്ലാര്ക്കും ഒരു ലോഡ് പുച്ച്ചം മാത്രം! ഒരു അവസാന ശ്രമം എന്ന നിലയിൽ പേരിലെ നായർ, മേനോൻ, പിള്ള ഒക്കെ എടുത്തുകളഞ്ഞാലോ എന്നാലോചിച്ചു ഒരു ആത്മ മിത്രത്തിനോട് അഭിപ്രായം ചോദിച്ചു. അവൻ പറയുവാ “അളിയാ സംഭവം പൊളിക്കും, നീയായതു കൊണ്ട് ഒരു കിണ്ണൻ പേരും ഉണ്ട്”! “എന്ത് അളിയാ അത്” എന്ന് ആവേശത്തോടെ ചോദിച്ചു. അവൻ പറഞ്ഞു “ശ്രീജിത്ത് കോണോത്”!!!
Our Epic Grand Canyon Hike – Austin Pereira
(Austin Pereira is a native of Kannur, Kerala and lives in Powell with his wife Deepa and three kids. He has been part of the Central Ohio Malayalee community since 1995. Austin is an avid runner, hiker, and enjoys playing soccer as well as traveling to new and exciting destinations.)
Each year, over 6 million visitors arrive to see the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Fewer than 1 percent of them take the hike down to the bottom of the canyon, termed the Grand Canyon Rim to River to Rim hike. Last summer, myself and 12 other members of our community (Prabhu & Aarti Kumar, Jay & Deepa Menon, Ashish & Sangeetha Muthiraparambath, Shibu & Vidya Nair, Valsan & Vijaya Palika, Binoy Rappai, and Yoga Venugopal) decided to take up this challenge.
The Rim to River to Rim is a 17.5 mile hike completed in one day. The elevation drop to the bottom is approximately 5000 ft. It is an extremely challenging hike, since you have to hike down 5000 ft, and then hike back up 5000 ft when you are already tired. You must endure blistering heat of 100+ degrees F while hiking under direct sun. If a hiker is hurt or unable to walk further, the only way to be rescued from the canyon is through helicopter rescue. Thus the saying goes, “Going down is optional, but coming up is mandatory”. A lot is at stake taking a hike like this. In the ensuing months, we prepared for the hike physically, mentally, logistically, and gear wise.
On June 3rd, 2023, we embarked on this epic hike at 4:20 AM in the morning. As we went down the South Kaibab trail, the views were magnificent, with the early morning sun glistening the rocks, showing the majestic grandeur of the canyon. After 7 miles of hiking, we reached the forcefully gushing Colorado river at the bottom of the canyon and saw the famous Phantom Ranch. Many of us sent postcards from the ranch to family and friends, then ate our lunch, devoured the delicious lemonade at the Phantom Ranch Store, and rested.
As we started our climb back up, the canyon had already reached 100 degrees F, and the sun was blazing at our backs. The climb became strenuous, our bodies were running out of hydration, and the elevation was daunting. We took breaks to rest and hydrate. As we went further, it became even steeper. Looking up was demoralizing, since we saw how much more we had left to climb. It was a brutal and strenuous hike, but we took one step at a time, enjoyed the views in between, and the comradery of the team and the jokes made the hike easier.
Finally, at 6 PM, we reached the top. We were physically beat up and drained. The canyon is unforgiving and it has surely humbled us, but we are awed by the beauty of nature’s art, and at the end, the feeling of finishing the hike was exhilarating. This has been a once in a lifetime experience for all of us!
Columbus Tuskers Cricket Team are the Champions of Ohio! – Arun Chand
(Arun Chand hails from Trivandrum and has been living in Dublin, OH since 2010. He is a sports enthusiast, and loves playing sports and games. He currently works for Cardinal Health.)
The Tuskers cricket team (the Malayali cricket team of Columbus) has won the inaugural Kairali Cincinnati Cricket Tournament 2023! The tournament was organized by Kairali Cincinnati, the Malayali organization serving Cincinnati and nearby areas. They have a very strong Malayali cricket community, and have a beautiful facility to conduct cricket tournaments.
Background – Tuskers team was thrilled when our incumbent COMA president and Tuskers comrade, Shibu Nair, told us about the invitation we received to participate in the Cincy cricket tournament. We were a bit concerned when we found out that many of the Tuskers players had already made vacation plans to India during the time. Hence, we reached out to a few of our fellow Malayali players (who play with other teams in Columbus), and all who were available eagerly committed to join us.
Venue – The tournament was well organized in the sprawling Miami Meadows Park cricket grounds near Cincinnati, Ohio. The facility is fascinating, and has four full cricket grounds with prepared pitches. It’s also the home ground of the Cincinnati Malayali teams. The tournament comprised teams from various cities in Ohio.
Tournament day – Columbus Tuskers made travel plans to reach the ground (Miami Meadows) on time for our match. It was bright, sunny, and not too hot – a perfect day for cricket. We were greeted by the host team and spent the initial hour socializing and doing some practice, after our long drive early in the morning.
The tournament bracket was not favorable to the Columbus Tuskers team. Our first game was with the ‘Cincinnati Tuskers’ team (the best Malayali team in Cincy and also the host team). If we were to lose against them, we would have to beat the mighty ‘Cleveland Arikombans’ team next by a big margin to reach the finals.
First match: When the match was about to start, the Cincy captain came to us and introduced himself. He was pleasing and confident, and casually advised us (in Malayalam) – ‘Our team has all professional players, and it’s going to be very tough out there (for you), don’t sweat it’! We were bewildered by that statement and laughed it off; but it indeed provoked us to give our best! The Cincy team won the toss and elected to bowl first. Our team has a strong and deep batting line up, and we made plans to score big. But things didn’t go as planned. The Cincy bowlers were really good (coupled with home conditions), and our batting collapsed. We managed to score a meager 61 runs in 10 overs, which we knew was well below par. We were dreading a humiliating defeat.
The Cincy team started off well by scoring 18 for no loss in 3 overs. Our bowlers fought back very hard, and they lost a few quick wickets. They started to crumble under the pressure. We won the close match by just 4 runs, and got boosted by the result.
Second match: We faced the losers of the other pool in the next round since we won our first match. It was an easy game for us since the opponent team was no match to our strength. We won by a huge margin and stormed into the finals.
Other teams: ‘Cleveland Arikombans’ was a good team and had won their first match by a very big margin. The host, Cincy team, needed a big win over them to qualify for the finals. Their decider match was exciting, and the Cincy team managed to pull off a huge win to face us in the finals.
The FINALS: We had understood the pitch and ground conditions by then, and were well prepared for the finals. The host team tested our grit by serving us with a delicious biryani for lunch, which was hard to resist! We all started a bit dizzy after the break. The Cincy team won the toss and opted to bat first. They scored a decent total of 85 runs in 12 overs, thanks to some power hitting from their middle order batsmen. Our batsmen were better prepared, and chased down the total with a few balls to spare, and were never in any concern.
We had a lot of fun and enjoyment playing the tournament, and also made a few friends. We celebrated the victory after the prize distribution, and came back to Columbus with pride and satisfaction. A day well spent indeed!
About the Tuskers cricket team – The Tuskers cricket team was formed in 2021 after a few years of concerted effort in bringing together Malayali cricket players in the Columbus area who were earlier playing for various other teams. The Tuskers team is now a regular participant in the Columbus area cricket tournaments, and has proven its prowess by reaching the finals of many tournaments, and has already beaten some of the top teams in Columbus!
Char Dham trip – Visit to Yamunotri – Venu Nair
(Venugopalan (Venu) Nair, a native of Kottarakara, Kerala migrated to the USA in 1975. He is currently retired (from American Electric Power in 2009), and lives in Westerville, Ohio with his wife Komalam. He has two sons and four grand children. Both sons along with their families live in Indianapolis.)
After a day of visits to some holi places in Haridwar (Dakheswara Mahadeva temple, Swami Abhedananda ashram, glass temple complex, to name a few) and puja at Kankhal, we started the Himalayan tour on four buses. Our tour manager Mr. Krishnan Nair and tour guide Mr. Rajan gave us the protocols to be followed throughout the tour. Each bus could seat 30 people. Big buses can’t handle the narrow roads in the Himalayas. Rajan read the names allocated in each bus. All seven of us were in the same bus so we could be together for the rest of the trip.
We started the journey after a brief prayer. We found roads through the Himalayas were much improved compared to the last time we traveled through there a few years ago. We would stay in Barkot, which is 190 km away from Haridwar. We were following the Yamuna river most of the time.
On the way, we stopped a couple of times to stretch our legs and have breakfast and lunch. These were prepared by the kitchen staff early morning.
We passed through Dehradun, the capital city of the state of Utharkhand. On our way, we saw so many small shops carrying fresh fruits and vegetables on the road side. The beauty of the mountains started to show from there on, and we felt we were really in Devabhumi which is what the place was called. Since we started early morning, it was still dark outside. As sun started to show, the green foliage and deep valleys started to show. The river Yamuna could be seen as a silver tape at the bottom of the valley. We would cross it a few times as the road takes us from one hill to the next.
We reached Barkot in the evening around 5 pm. Barkot is a popular hill station near Uttarkashi, about 4000 feet above sea level. This is a town in the middle of thick forest and is a tourist place. This place is known for its natural beauty and challenging trekking trails. We stayed at a hotel in Barkot for the night.
The next day we started for Yamunotri. We traveled by bus up to a place called Janki Chatti. It’s elevation is 8700 feet. This place provides a panoramic view of the Himalayas with snow capped mountains. This place is 6 km form the Yamunotri temple.
From here, we were to go to the temple by either walking, on horse back, or some one carrying us. As soon as the bus stooped, a throng of people surrounded us. They were trying to get us to go with their horses. It was all chaotic, I wish they had a better way. After some bargains, we selected a person who seemed very reasonable and friendly. He brought seven horses for the seven of us and four people to handle the seven horses. The pictures show us on horseback going up to the Yamunotri temple from Janki Chatti. It is 6 kms each way.
After a long climb on the horseback, we reached the temple by noon. The ride on the horseback was very uncomfortable, more when we were coming down. It becomes more so when there are steps. There are two hot water pools, one for ladies and the other for men. We took a bath in the pool and got refreshed.
There is also a small pool near the temple where the water is much hotter. One can cook potatoes and rice in it and offer to the Devi and receive it back as prasad. The picture below shows us in front of the temple. It was taken after Darshan.
On the way back, we got down near a restaurant on the roadside and partook the packed lunch we carried with us. We also got down from the horse in between and walked some distance, which was good for both us as well as the poor horse. We came back to Barkot by evening and stayed there for the night.
Yashoda Murali wins National Gold Medal
Congratulations to New Albany High School Junior and COMA Youth Wing member Yashoda Murali for winning a National Gold Medal in the 2022 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her colored pencil drawing “Lady Hazel”. She is the daughter of Brinda and Murali, members of COMA since 2013.
The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers is the nonprofit organization that presents the Scholastic Awards. More than 100,000 students submitted more than 260,000 works of art and writing to the 2023 Scholastic Awards. Yashoda’s work was selected by some of the foremost leaders in the visual and literary arts for excellence in originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision. Less than 2,000 works received a National Medal, which places Yashoda within the top 1% of all submissions!
There will be a National Awards Week from June 7-9 in New York City with a National Ceremony held at Carnegie Hall on June 8th. Her work will be published both virtually in the Scholastic Art Online Galleries at artandwriting.org as well as physically in a gallery space in New York City.
Yashoda’s digital art work titled “Shattered” recently got published in the “Celebrating Art” magazine (see artwork below).
Sumitra Thampy-Norton wins medals in Jujitsu
Sumitra won two bronze medals at the Fuji Jiujitsu championship in Brownsville, Indiana. She is the daughter of Chris Norton and Gayatri Thampy. She is in 7th grade and goes to Metro Early College Middle School. Her teacher is Coach Travis from Matlab, Reynoldsburg.
Nandana Presanth wins Bautista Memorial 2023
Nandana Presanth won the finals of the 2023 Bautista Memorial Youth – Foil & Saber in Columbus, Ohio. This is her last Y14 match as she is turning 15 this August, and from next season, she will be playing Junior and Divisional matches. She is a 9th grader at Dublin Coffman High School and the daughter of former COMA President Presanth Krishnan.