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1998 Review

Murali Nair reflects on the year gone by...

This review attempts to have a quick glance at KALA's activities during its second year of existence to remind us about the little steps KALA, as an infant organisation, is puffing forward in its long march towards establishing itself as an institution to fulfil the aspirations of its members.
Annual Meeting

As predicted in the last review, through our First Annual meeting held on 25th October 1997, at the Bushey Mead High School hall, Watford, KALA announced formally its arrival on the cultural scene of the U.K. Malayalees.  The meeting was hailed as a great success by our distinguished guests from various parts of the U.K. who took great troubles to participate in, and grace the occasion.  Under KALA banner we were able to present and informative and entertaining evening for those present, which resulted in an overwhelming number of admirable comments.

The highlights of the evening were an enlightening talk by Professor Jancy James on the Women of Kerala, followed by lively exchange of views with the audience; variety entertainment programme presented by Miss. Sadhana Manoharan (Peacock Dance and Kurathi Dance), Miss. Nisha Nair (Bharatha Natyam), Mr. Ravi Ramdas (Mridangam and Violin), drama "Prabhathathinte Adyarashmikal" by Drisyakala Malayalee Assocation, and Ganamela by S.Sreekumar and his band.  To energise the participants, we all would agree, there was a generous feast, true to Kerala style.  Thus KALA set itself a high standard to live up to in future, notwithstanding the various constraints and limited resources our first Anniversary was celebrated with dignity and decorum.

Spring Meeting
After the Annual gathering in October for months many of us were confined to our homes awaiting the end of bitter cold.  And there we are, invited to meet to mark the beginning of the second year of activities of KALA members.  It happened to be a bright spring afternoon, the 21st of March 1998, at the Orbital Community Centre.  Naturally, it was a gathering with lot of expectations, as many of the members had not seen each other.  There was a General Body meeting, and planning for the activities in the summer.  After the serious matters of discussion out of the way, fortified with snacks and drinks, the members were entertained by the young KALA members — mimicry — an adaptation of the famous British Asian TV serial "Goodness Gracious Me" by Praveen, Prashant and Deepa, followed by singing by Vijay Krishnan, a piece of Bharatha Natyam by Deepa Nair, and a talk on “Journey into Indian Classical Music and Dance” by Miss Leela Sundaresan, followed by singing of Keerthanam, and light entertainment by talented KALA members.

Summer Event: A trip to the New Forest
On 27th June 1998 we organised a day out in the New Forest.  As a treasure hunt was also organised in parallel, in search of an ancient treasure - a 'gold' bar -, several teams were organised, with the youngest member of each family as its captain.  Each team had a name with a wild or adventurous theme.  Teams that took part included, among others, Black Cats, Pink Panthers, Red Devils, and Golden Oldies.

It was a welcome opportunity to many members to breath fresh air after a long time, literally, and to explore the New Forest, which turned out to be not that new looking at the age of the trees there!  Weather gods were on our side as rain stayed away from the New Forest on the day and we did not get stuck in the muddy-barks of New Forest's streams.  As the day progressed our hopes about winning the treasure fluctuated, despite the freshness of the air in the forest.  We had a great picnic lunch, variety of home made goodies, under the huge oak tree.  It reminded some of us of the occasional temple feasts in Kerala we used to have years ago under the banyan tree.

The pursuit of the treasure proved to be more complicated than some had expected, as the complex interpretations of the location clues and codes, was too overwhelming for some of the elder members of the teams, even with the prospect of winning a bar of ‘gold’.  On the whole it was a great experience for the teams.  The efforts put in by the organisers in planning, preparing the directions, codes, location clues for the treasure etc. etc. were commendable.  It was great fun to the young members, who enjoyed the most.

Vayalar Symposium
On the 16th of August 1998, KALA held a symposium on poet Vayalar Rama Varma, under the initiative and chairmanship of Dr. P.M. Ali.  The symposium was held at Leavesden Green Community Centre.  Though convened on short notice, and informally, the symposium generated much more interest than what was anticipated, and it attracted a number of KALA Members and non-members.  The active participants in the discussions and presentations were Dr. Santosh Pillai, Dr. P.K. Sukumaran Nair, Mr. K. Natarajan, Dr. P. Nair, Prof. Jancy James, Mr. Raghavan, Dr. Narayana Pillai, and Dr. Jose.  Famous Vayalar film lyrics were sung by Mr. S. Sreekumar, Dr. Sethumadhavan, Mrs. Indira Menon, Mr. Anthony and Dr. George.  There was good home-made Kerala snacks to keep company, and we all felt that it should have gone on for longer.

Second Annual Meeting
We are looking forward to our Second Annual Meeting on 17th October 1998, and the programmes lined up gives us hope to think that this year, it will be even better than that of last Annual meeting.  Prof. Madhusoodanan Nair, a well known Malayalam poet, has kindly accepted our invitation to be the chief guest, and there will be variety entertainment of dance and music.

The Palm Leaf
KALA activities find life through the Palm Leaf, and becomes vocalised through its pages.  There have been two issues during the year - the Annual issue published in November 1997 and the issue in March 1998.  It is a matter of great pride for KALA members to see that the Palm Leaf has not only found an increasing number of contributors from among its members, but has received support and blessings from some of the outstanding literary figures of Kerala.  This speaks volumes for the vision and hard work put in by the editorial team led by Dr. Santosh Pillai, and the support from the KALA Executive Committee, through providing the resources.

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