Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Annamma Chedathi Special -Ammachi Returns from Kottayam


Vlog Reviews: Episode 2

The vlog is only fourteen minutes long, and after about six hours of posting, the video had gathered just above 30,000 views. This is a slow beginning for a vlog episode featuring one of the oldest, and vibrant Youtubers in Kerala, Annamma Pulivelil, who hails from Nadavayal in Wayanad district, Kerala. Her channel Annamma Chedathi Special is one of the fastest-growing Youtube channels and is managed by another renowned Youtuber named Sachin, who owns the channel Come on Everybody. The usual treat of Annamma chedathi special is cooking videos reconstructing many traditional delicacies of Kerala. The video released on 28 December 2020 was titled “Ammachi returns from Kottayam” and features an oral summing up of the vastly successful Kottayam journey of Annamma chedathi. 

Since the Kottayam trip started, it is Sachin who appears in the introductory scenes of the videos, a shift from the regular anchors of the show, Babu, Annamma’s son and Annamma herself. For those audiences who have developed a liking for the show in which the septuagenarian cooks her expert recipes and her son Babu acts as a helper and assistant chef, this shift in the new intros with Sachin may appear to border disappointment. This is because the audiences have loved not just the cooking but also the way of speaking and narrative skills of Annamma chedathi and Babu chettan. The new viewers might not give the introductions by Sachin a second thought. Often, it felt that Babu chettan supplements the cooking process wherever Annamma chedathi lapses in her alert, due to her age. And his presence imparts a pleasant effect to the show.

Sachin, though being the funniest anchor in visual media right now, who with his genuinely innocent and quirky humour induces laughter while grasping the attention of the audience, reneges the opportunity to be in his true self and appears quite dull these days when he appears in Annamma chedathi Special. No immediacy rendered his presence inevitable in Annamma Chedathi Special vlogs, in front of the camera. His work best reflects his presence when he is behind the camera and his sweet cameos at the end of the cookery show as a taster of the delicacies cooked by Annamma chedathi. 

After that introductory scene, Annamma chedathi and her son Babu recount their many experiences during the visit to Kottayam. They also exhibited some of the gifts they received from well-wishers and fans. Annamma chedathi and Babu chettan sit on the steps of the verandah of their house. What is noticeable is the pleasant and joyous smile on the face of the septuagenarian. Annamma chedathi, who is in her seventies looks a bit tired from her long trip to Kottayam, as it’s a long journey from Nadavayal in Wayanad to Kottayam. However, it does not seem to tire her spirit and good humour. A very touching reference came up when they spoke about Pazhayidam Thirumeni and his sweet pudding, the payasam, that he made for Annamma chedathi during the visit to his house. The episode with Pazhayidam was certainly a delight to watch, one of the successful vlogs made during the Kottayam visit. The other reference that may strike the audience is the reference to a name, Rebecca. Both Annamma chedathi and Babu chettan were excitedly narrating the experience of their meeting with Rebecca and how she painstakingly drew their portraits on the surface of a bottle. The one disappointment with this event with Rebecca was that the team did not show her or the meeting with her during the many videos from Kottayam trip. Had they shown this wonderfully coincidental meeting, it would certainly have been another unforgettable experience for viewers who would love to take in every bit of Annamma chedathi’s life story. 

Any viewer in the habit of going through the “comments” section of the vlog, would certainly notice a comment from one viewer that this video only features the experiences of the Kottayam journey and no cooking. The commentator had also asserted that she would be waiting specifically for more cooking videos. Combined with this prompting comment, the first mention in this article about the low number of initial views for the video could only hint in one direction, that the niche audiences are not much happy with a video in which Annamma chedathi recounts her experiences of a recent long journey and not cooks. Being a vlog that focuses mostly on cooking, the niche into which it belongs, it always tags the expectations of the audiences along. It will be difficult for vloggers in this situation to try something “else” without offending a large demographic of their audiences. There are two ways to incorporate such a scenario into this vlog. The first one is that Annamma chedathi can make a new food item named after her Kottayam journey. The second one is to play the scenes of the narration intermittently while preparing a salubrious dish. This would have won the audience who are both within the niche and outside. 

One lesson that the new Youtubers can take home from this study is that to garner a quick growth in the number of views, one must cater efficiently to a niche audience. This may doubtlessly entail a limitation since the content could only be of a certain “type”. However, if one is creative enough, the same niche could be used to tell various narratives in multiple ways. For example, the audience for this blog is largely people who love books and reading, and also students who are looking for essays and answers for their various English courses. This includes an international audience. So I am stuck in this niche, in one way. Then I thought about starting a Youtube channel and doing something similar there, except by using videos. However, upon further investigation, I realized that my niche is even precisely linked with the written word since I am an author. Those are culpable of no error who start a Youtube channel in a different niche, catering to a different set of audiences. But it is never certain that they would want to read my books. I sincerely wanted to do an exploration of the Youtube vlogs, specially made in Kerala, because they have such divergent and vibrant content. So I decided to stick with my existing niche and write about Malayalam Youtube channels. This way, I will be able to incorporate a variety of new content into the existing niche where I operate usually. Therefore, finding a niche, “a position or role, taken by a kind of living thing within its community”, is important. 

The episode of our consideration is clearly an ‘out of the niche’ experience, a style Annamma chedathi never shied away from. Even during the Kottayam visits, she had done videos on her visits to her childhood school, the church where she was baptised, her old paddy fields, where she used to find menial labour as a child during the economically hard days in the past. The cold response to a storytelling video after the Kottayam visits certainly offers an important lesson not just for the owners of the vlog, but also for every audience involved. This lesson is connected with the act of narration itself. Every essay, story, or article should carry an introduction, middle part and conclusion. Annamma Chedathi Special capitalises, like most successful vlogs in Malayalam, on storytelling techniques. Behind every good video, there is good storytelling. Annamma chedathi recounting her stories from Kottayam is a fitting conclusion to a successful trip. In that sense, it perfectly blends with the spirit of the earlier videos of the trip.   

While writing about Annamma Chedathi Special, it is difficult not to mention Sachin and Pinchu. From what one could gather from the vlogs in Annamma Chedathi Special, the ideas and technical support for videos come from this creative couple. 

In another episode, we will review one of Come on Everybody's videos and see what makes them a good vlog to watch out for and as I mentioned, how Sachin became the funniest anchor in Kerala. 

Subscribe to this blog, share your views in the comments, share this post on social media, and support the writer.   

Monday, December 28, 2020

Sujith Bhakthan’s Endeavour Owners Meet-up & Treat: A Review

 Vlog Reviews: Episode 1

This is the first time in my career that I am reviewing a vlog, a Youtube vlog. I haven’t seen a written review of vlogs as a reader either. If cinema, music, and art can be reviewed, why can’t we review vlogs also? Several people might have a taste for words written on a page. More than that, a written review is a confirmation of the value of the product reviewed. More than a video response, a written response often shares several corresponding information in analytical documentation. Recently, a vlogging community was formed, with the coming together of many video content creators of Kerala. However, there has not been serious documentation of the video contents created in Kerala or in India in general. There is certainly a nuance yet to be explored in every video narrative. It is similar to literature, in that sense. 

In today’s review, I would like to focus on the video released by the top lifestyle vlogger in Kerala, Mr Sujith Bhakthan and his vlog titled Tech Travel Eat. There is a reason why I give him the tag of the best lifestyle vlogger, upon which this review might shed light as it progresses. However, I would also like to make it clear that this is only the review of the particular video that was released on 27 December 2020, which was titled, “Endeavour Owners Meet-up & Treat”.

This video starts with a group of people posing for a wide-angle group-shot in front of several Ford Endeavour vehicles parked in a semi-circle. Soon, the shot shifts to the smiling charm of Sujith Bhakthan. To my surprise, Emil, his compatriot was also with him on the episode. His presence certainly brought back memories of the winter expedition the team had had with Ford Endeavour, the previous month. Later, we learn that Sujith Bhakthan and his wife Swetha were in Kochi, visiting a friend. The video on the previous day, which I watched quite curiously, thanks to the storytelling skill of this man, was about this visit.

This scene, doubtlessly, is the most important scene in the introductory session, as Sujith Bhakthan gives a preface to all the activities related to the meet up that was to happen later on the day. In a neat array, he elaborates on the proceedings- first, he would reach the dealer’s place in Kochi, from there as a convoy, the many Ford Endeavour vehicles present there would march to Grand Hayat Hotel and there they would conclude the event. For those who are interested in creating successful Youtube videos, this is a significant point to note. An introduction into what the remaining part of the video would bring would certainly show that you are in control of the entire situation. A seminal element of Sujith Bhakthan’s videos is the control and narration that he employs. He is a good storyteller and this storytelling skill is reflected throughout all his videos, especially, in the said episode. 

One of the iconic elements in Sujith Bhaklthan’s videos is his humour. In the opening scenes too, he indulges in sarcastic humour targeting the dirty ditches of Kochi. We learn through the scene with Swetha that Sujith would leave her with her elder sister who lives in Kochi and then he would proceed to Kairali Ford, the dealer of Ford vehicles in Kochi, for the meet up of the owners of Ford Endeavour. 

Within three minutes of the starting of the video, Sujith Bhakthan takes us on board a RORO, cargo ships designed to carry wheeled cargo across large water bodies, between two beaches or bays, here from Fort Kochi to Vypin And he travels in his brand new, red-black dual-tone Tata Harrier SUV. Once on board the RORO, he steps out of his vehicle and shoots the scene, following his vocation dutifully. Watching the RORO ride, as an audience, it was a real feeling. I felt like I was on board that RORO, especially, as a person from the North of Kerala, where water body transport isn’t much common. 

Once Sujith Bhakthan reaches Kairali Ford, we learn that Harees Ameerali (aka Harees Ikka), one of the companions who accompanied Sujith and Emil along with Hani Musthafa on the Winter Expedition, was also with them. Later, as they reached the dealer’s office, where the first event was to take place, the many owners of the vehicle were assembled to honour the Tech Travel Eat team. 

“It’s not a big deal,” said Emil George, who spoke on the occasion, hinting at the recent controversy with MG Gloster. The owners of Ford Endeavour interacted in the gathering, narrating their own experiences with the vehicle. In this interactive session, we also learn some subtle controversies concerning the Winter Expedition and the vehicle, Ford Endeavour, which was shared by Mr Shinto, the manager of the firm. We learn also that Harees Ameerali, Emil and Sujith had already planned to purchase a Ford Endeavour vehicle. 

The vlog proceeds with the vehicles moving through the city of Kochi in a convoy and concludes with a dining and photo session. After that session that I mentioned, where the interaction with Ford owners was the event, my mind mostly contemplated the words of Emil, in relation to one of their recent controversies regarding the MG Gloster, and the subtle nuances left by Mr Shinto, the manager of Kairali Ford. One may wonder if both these covert attacks on Sujith Bhakthan were connected. It seems like someone is guilty of schadenfreude. 

The vlog was charged with positivity, as most of the vlogs from Tech Travel Eat. One may feel wanting for an experience with Ford Endeavour, which is a leviathan of an SUV, after watching this video. Those twenty-three minutes were well spent and they inspired me to hope and expect for more from life. 

The purpose of a good review is not to give stars or to count some advantages over the other, especially if the review is in written form. The vlog stands for itself as a testimony for all the facts that it shares.

Dressed in semi-formal attire, Sujith Bkahthan and Emil stole the show accompanied by Harees Ameerali, another eminent vlogger, and filled this episode with memories of their exciting winter expedition. Ironically, it was Harees Ameerali who pointed out that they were going to relive the memories of the expedition. Intermingled with memories, joy, pride, hope, and sincerity, this video was certainly one of the memorable experiences shared by Sujith Bhakthan.    

Watch the video here:

Saturday, December 26, 2020


Photo by Erik Mclean from Pexels

Finding myself at the crossroads of transition not just in a personal space but also in the social space, the writer in me paused for a moment and reckoned with the question of my new identity. 

Even though I published my first book in 2012, when I attended certain gatherings in various colleges, the audiences still addressed me as a blogger, a moniker that irritated me at the time. Being a young and upcoming author, it was certainly a matter of great pride to be addressed as an author on public occasions. This, however, did not change the fact that I enjoyed blogging since the day I started my blog, The Indian Commentator. 

The part I enjoyed the most about blogging was the reception of comments from readers and also the goodies I received as part of campaigns such as book review programmes. Being a reader of books my whole life, this was the most enticing element that hooked me to blogging and kept me at it for a long time. 

I started The Indian Commentator in 2008. As the first decade of the twenty-first century slowly walked out of the purview, I started getting intuitions regarding the manner of the communication that I had kept going with my readers. It was time to make a drastic shift, I felt, as I had seen Youtube emerging as a major platform for vlogging and it becoming a certain financial success. 

One statement from my favourite Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is relevant here, as I commence the unveiling of my experience with a transition that never actually took place. “The fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself.” The original textual locale of this statement evades my memory. However, the implication of this statement is readily connected to the experience I mentioned. I was afraid to fail in my vlogging efforts since it raised concerns in my mind about how I looked, how I talked, how I scripted my content, etc. not to mention a plethora of other concerns related to the editing of the videos. 

Each time, whenever I contemplated vlogging, these fears have held me, prisoner. In the indictment of my own flaws, I, therefore, succumb to the need to confess for these silly-yet-poignant concerns. The years following my first book have been witness to the publication of my new books, more than one book a year, often. The year 2020, which is trotting to its finale of hope, made me take a bird’s eye view of the literary works I endeavoured in the year. 

The year 2020 started with the excitement of the publication of Life After the Floods, which was published in November 2019 by Kalamos Literary Services, New Delhi. The relevance of the book could not be missed as 2020 slowly evolved into a year of emergencies. The two other ebooks that were published this year brought substantial confidence as an author. Both these books, Save the Teacher and Save the Girl, were fantasies, set in a medieval India where spiritual and material forces collide for reasons we could locate in our immediate surroundings. As a writer, from the nonfiction work of Life After the Floods, a move to the fictional world in these two episodes of short ebooks was gratifying, especially so because these two books are part of a larger series called The Southern Chronicles. The new episodes of Southern Chronicles shall be released, hopefully, in the new year. 

The next book that I published was the much celebrated and discussed, The Notions of Healing. With a Foreword written by one of India’s foremost academics, Dr Arunlal Mokeri, this anthology gave me the opportunity to explore the many phases of the lockdown period following the COVID-19 pandemic. I had the good fortune to associate not just with Dr Arunlal Mokeri but also sixteen writers from across India. Distributed from Kerala to Kashmir, these writers represent the soul of Indian literary legacy in one book. I am sure, this book shall shine in its relevance in the coming year also, especially when pandemic literature becomes a documented and studied discipline once the gravity of the onslaught of the pandemic wanes away. 

This act of looking into the past has filled me with great expectations about my blogging endeavours as well. Now I can see clearly that my first book was a side effect of my blogging attempts. Being at the crossroads of an identity crisis no longer seems to matter. One identity complements the other and therefore not to be shunned entirely, I realize. 

The crisis doesn’t exist any longer. 

What you have to do when you face similar challenges in life is to look back and try to connect the dots. When you connect the various dots in the past, your present will take a graceful new shape that will fill you with confidence and gratitude. 

I am thankful for my blogging platform and my readers here, who have kept their presence all these years. There are new readers as well, most of whom are from the newer generation. With a sense of gratitude, I shower you with my words and my books. 

Please feel free to write to me using the comments section, and please do subscribe to this blog. I am off to writing my next book. See you all soon with another blog post. 

Merry Christmas and Happy new year. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

ANNOUNCEMENT : The Notions of Healing by Anu Lal, with a Foreword by Dr Arunlal Mokeri


Anu Lal here. 

I have news of great joy to share. My new book is released; an anthology titled The Notions of Healing

Renowned scholar Dr Arunlal Mokeri has written a magnificent Foreword that aptly positions the anthology in the broader spectrum of pandemic literature. Sixteen superbly talented writers from Kerala to Kashmir have contributed to make this book a reality. 

Along with sixteen coauthors, we explore the many notions of healing during the times of the pandemic. 

Please support this endeavour with your feedback on the book. I request all my readers, friends, colleagues and students to purchase a copy of your chosen format. Please share the links with your friends, in various groups and also with your colleagues. Kindly notify librarian of your institution and please do not stay back from gently forcing the librarian to purchase a library copy at the earliest. This will make sure that our students would also get a chance to read and enjoy these stories once the lockdown period is over and classes resume. 

Soliciting strength and support from you, 

Your humble friend,

Anu Lal


Now available in Paperback -

and Kindle -

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Challenges Faced by an Author


Editing is perhaps the most challenging of all activities in the life of an author. Once the author realises that the story is complete, she is ready to set up a scaffold of indifference towards whatever comes up in the manuscript. Although one, has assuredly enough written the draft, it is out of one's control to face the words and lines that come up in the reading process. 


The reading process endows its inbuilt challenges upon the author. The act of reading what one has written is often a process full of wonders- wondering who wrote these lines or, wondering when I wrote this crap. 


Those authors who are experienced in their craft know that only a scaffold of indifference can help us. First, they stand upon this scaffold and then observe the writing with a degree of distance and with an ample dose of indifference. Whatever comes up in this manuscript, I don't bother appreciating or criticising the author of this stuff. 


This indifference can be identified with that earlier form of abstinence or ascetic zeal that we often read about in mythologies. 


The first step in an editing process is reading the manuscript, which is always a process, filled with wonders, let me repeat. 


If you are wondering why I am, suddenly coming back to one of the oldest questions that my blog dealt with in the past, the answer is that I am editing the new anthology that I am publishing. 


The title of the said anthology is not revealed yet. It will be soon. 


So what do you think is the second stage in the editing process? Do let me know in the comments below.   

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

How I Successfully Remained Unnoticeable?

When you are reading this title, you might even think that I am referring to my personal life. Those who know me personally are bound to think on those lines. If you are not thinking in those lines, then it’s certain that you don’t know me enough. Before moving further with this post, please subscribe to this blog by using your email id. I assure you that it will be worth it because you’ll get all the updates first hand. 

About getting noticed or grabbing people’s attention, I never had a real problem. This is because I am taller than the average Indian. Even if I am standing in a crowd, you might notice me from a distance. I am six feet two. 

The story that I am going to tell you is not about one of those occasions when you’d have discovered me in a crowd. This is about the post that I made on my Instagram page a couple of days ago. 

I went to Mattannur, a municipality which neighbours Kannur International Airport with my father a couple of days ago. My visit was mostly necessitated by the need for a vehicle for my father to travel. My father wanted to do an important business there. So he asked me if I could drive him. I was all for it as the day was getting weary and certain matters were getting on my nerves. 

The driving felt like a fresh splash of water on my face. Once we were in Mattannur, my father got off near the bus stand. I had to wait for him for the next thirty minutes. I went ahead and looked for a parking space. On the Mattannur- Iritty road, I found a place marked as “Car Parking by Mattannur Municipality”. It felt like a first of its kind step by the Municipality. Mattannur town always struggled to find enough space for vehicle parking and long traffic snarl-ups were a recurring reality, especially when the planes were flying. 

The car parking board was a relief. I found a space there. I had seen a newly opened bakery nearby as I was pulling over. I decided I would go there and see if there was anything I could buy for my nephew. 

As I was about to open the door, the noise intensified. A bunch of street dogs surrounded my vehicle. One of them went under the WagonR that stood in front of me. The rest of the dogs that followed him started a ruckus that made me jump. There were many. It was an intimidating scene, with their bare teeth and eyes full of rage.

I made an Instagram video to tell my friends about it. I couldn’t show the dogs in it. So I thought I would write a blog post about the incident. Here it is!

The biggest challenge was to let go of the desire to purchase something. I had to remain in my vehicle. When the dogs changed their location slightly, the owner of the WagonR came back and drove the car away. 

I saw that the dog was still hiding underneath the car. A swarm of dogs surrounded that one just as the car drove away. As he ran for another cover, the other dogs followed. I couldn’t make sense of the event. Perhaps, it was an initiation ceremony or some form of concerted attack. 

Until I returned from the parking space, the fear of dogs lingered in me. 

My Instagram link: 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Buying Groceries and Poverty Line: The Life of Someone Above the Poverty Line

Have you read all the other posts about my day out after Onam to do Three Tasks? These three tasks are included in four blog posts, which is a single long post that I broke into four parts for the less patient lot of you. 

One is here

Two is here

Three is here

Before reading the fourth part Subscribe to my blog by using the box to the right. Give your email id so that all new updates and the latest information regarding the many necessities of life shall be delivered directly to you, first hand through your email inbox!


Distribution of Kerala's free Onam kit to begin on Thursday | Kerala News |  Manorama

There are Alternative and Allopathic medicine centres that give free treatment and supply free medicines to the public, irrespective of your social class. 


After waiting for about half an hour, the ration shop keeper was able to distribute the kits. Between seeing the kits with our eyes and receiving them, there were several phone calls that the shopkeeper placed to some officials in the government to update their system with the number of kits received. This was because everything has to run through the database of the supply chain. Satisfactory it was and worth the wait, when I received the bulky free kit in a white cloth bag, with a coconut oil pack served separately along with the bag. I presume that the kits that were supplied in our ration shops did not have the coconut oil inside the cloth bag. The ration shop people added the coconut oil additionally to the pack.  


The third reason for getting out on the road on the day was to go for some grocery shopping. It doesn’t mean that the free grocery kit from the ration shop wasn’t enough for me. I needed some other items that were not in the kit, like rice. So I went to the nearby town of Chalode. The car was still burning like an oven. It was parked under the sun for a long time near the ration shop. 


By the time I reached home, I was tired, but the VPP and the free kit was enough to cheer up my spirit. So even though the body was tired, my mind was in high spirits. 


I hope you also received your free Onam Kit. I heard some people criticize that Onam Kits are being distributed after Onam. It is true. But it’s free and it looks like it’s good quality material. Does it matter anymore, now that it is being served and is fulfilling the purpose? The beneficiaries of the kit differ in the categorization of social class based on income. Based on the type of ration cards many others have already received the kits before Onam. That’s condescending for me to say that. But these categorizations are based on some census data, I think, which might not always reveal the truth about our financial matters. For example, even though my family owns a white ration card (Above the Poverty Line, according to the government), I was bankrupt during the COVID-19 lockdown period, which means even now. The money that I used to buy groceries is borrowed money. So you can imagine the reality behind the different kinds of ration cards. 


If you received your Free Onam Kit, please comment YES below. 


Subscribe to my blog using your email id. Write it in the box on the right side of the blog. Every blog post and update will be delivered to your email inbox for free. You’ll be notified of all the adventures, first hand. 


Stay safe. 


Visit me on Instagram @authorlal

Comment if you like this post. 

Onam Free Kit in Detail: See what Happened!

 If you are reading the continuation of the previous post, you can subscribe to my blog right away- that is, if you haven't subscribed yet! See the box on the right side? 

Ration sugar will not be so sweet any more in Tamil Nadu - The Hindu

I moved towards the bottle of gum. The bottle of gum in post offices is well known in India to have adhesive qualities only slightly better than pure water. So I hesitantly took the gum with an old pen sticking out of the bottleneck. To my utter surprise, the gum looked great. I pasted the opening of the cover using the gum and it worked.  


If it is my ignorance that caused me the confusion regarding the sealing of the cover in Book Post VPP and if you know the details about this service, please comment below so that others reading this might be able to make use of the information. 


I came out of the post office and went to the ration shop near the locality. It was also the day when food kits for Onam festival were delivered at the ration shop. It was the free Onam food kit for ‘White ration cardholders’. 


A big supply of the said food kit had just arrived and the information regarding the number of kits was to be updated in the distribution software. The shopkeeper told me to wait until his machine is updated. I waited in front of the shop with a couple of others. The free Onam kit was the second reason I went out on that day. 


In Kerala, you get a lot of free stuff, that includes food. The state of Kerala basks in the somewhat utopian spirit of socialism in its cultural outlook. The Free Onam Kit was sponsored by the government of Kerala and it contained eleven items from packed coconut oil to Pappadam, the wafer that Keralited eat with any feast. For a small family, the items would suffice to eat lavishly for at least one week. 


If you are not from Kerala and visited the state in the past, you might have noticed that in restaurants, small or big, you’ll get free drinking water. This would be good quality, boiled water, in most cases, depending on the total hygiene of the restaurant in consideration. This is one of the examples of how the state of Kerala implements the distribution of goods in public. This ideal is blended with the spirit of the ordinary people, rather than being a political ideology.