A Short Biography of Famous Soccer Player – Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema was born on 19 December 1987 in Lyon, France. His parents are of Algerian origin. He is a French soccer player who presently plays for the Real Madrid of Spanish club and for his national side of French. Benzema's playing position is as a striker.

Regarded as one of the most absolute strikers on the planet, he describes himself a "forward through and through" competent of making goals, making score within the box or helping his partners.

His soccer is founded on wonderful power, his wicked shifts, limitless ball abilities and an excellent strike. The striker of Madridista is smart and controls every aspect of what his position needs. He is an instinctive winner who has witness his lifelong vision come true. Benzema has mentioned that Ronaldo as a principal influence on his ambition to play soccer.

Benzema participated in UEFA Euro 2008 and became the top scorer in Ligue 1 for the season of 2007-2008, only three seasons after his first professional appearance. This season is also his revolution which made out him receiving lots of honors and a new agreement which caused him turning into one of the highest-paid soccer players in France. It was publicized that On July 2009 Lyon had made a contract with Real Madrid of Spanish club for the transfer of Karim Benzema. The cost of transfer was assessed at € 35 million with the fee uprising to the extent that € 41 million based on inducements.

Karim Benzema got some honors as an individual soccer player. Some of them are Bravo Award: 2008, Ligue 1 Top Goalscorer: 2007-2008, Ligue 1 Player of the Year: 2007-2008, and Ligue 1 Team of the Year: 2007-2008.

Dos equipos españoles que todos conocemos están en ranking de camisetas de fútbol más vendidas del mundo, pero no en primer lugar. Camisetas de fútbol

Impact of the French Revolution on 18th Century Europe and Relevance to Contemporary Christianity

INTRODUCTION

Events of 1789 formed the catalyst that exploded the powder keg of accumulated grievances in France. Indeed «the French Revolution began when Louis XVI called the States-General to provide money for his bankrupt government» (The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol.7, 1991, p.450). The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 produced intense hostility to Christianity because «the Roman church was identified by the people with the earlier government of France and suffered greatly» (Harman and Renwick, 1999, p.170). Lefebvre (1947) observed that in a total population of probably twenty three million, there were certainly not more than one hundred thousand priests, monks and nuns, and four hundred thousand nobles. The rest constituted the Third Estate. This secular event shows the contemporary Church the peril that awaits a nation that rejects God. The point of the observation is that although the French Revolution negatively affected Christianity, the attempt at deChristianization was unable to blot the ‘faith of our fathers living still’.

RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND TO THE CONFLICT

According to Noll (2000), «a number of long-festering conditions had prepared the way for this attack on Christianity» (p.247). Paradoxically, some of these were of Christian origin. Centuries earlier, Augustine had declared that man should not have dominion over man, for he is a rational creature made in the image of God. Bellarmine, the Jesuit Cardinal opined that it depended on the consent of the people whether kings, consuls or other magistrates were to be established in authority over them. He further observed that the people should change a kingdom into an aristocracy if there was legitimate cause. Latourette (1953) therefore referred to the French Revolution as «a secularized version of the heavenly city as perceived by Christians» (p.1007).

Before the outbreak of the revolution in France, bad economic, political, social and legal conditions, the successful example of the English Revolution of 1689 and the American Revolution of 1776 were fused by the development of an ideology that rationalized the right of popular revolution against Louis XVI. This ideology was the result of the teachings of the philosophes. While Rousseau and Montesquieu provided the political atmosphere for revolution, Voltaire criticized the church. Cairns (1981) admitted that there were grounds for criticism of the Roman Catholic Church in France. It owned much land and was as responsible as the secular state in the dealings with the people. The public resented various tithes imposed by the church, rigorous repression of religious dissenters, and the non-productive monkish orders. Nichols (1932) suspected that «the greatest cause of the hostility of the church was its enormous wealth and the selfish use made of it» (p.96) since the masses were ruined by cruel taxation at the expense of higher clergy who were generally lazy, luxurious and immoral.

If the 17th century was the age of orthodoxy, the eighteenth was the age of nationalism, a result of cold orthodoxy and scientific developments. The deadly result was that «revelation tended to take the back seat to reason and knowledge gained by sense perception» (Vos, 1960, p.99). When scientists investigated the form of the universe, they formed the idea of a clockwise universe – God’s world was seen as gigantic, well-ordained giant clock.

IMPLICATIONS FOR 18TH CENTURY EUROPE

The French Revolution is viewed as a turning point because it was seen as an important stage in a succession of movements that later spread across the globe to ultimately affect the life of mankind.

It is observed that the effects were especially serious for Christianity since they brought actions which struck at the privileges and status of the Roman Catholic Church. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen on August 26 1789 held that «the source of all sovereignty is located in the nation; no body, no individual can exercise authority which does not emanate from it expressly» (Noll, 2000, p.247). The peasants were relieved of a burden which had taken about a twentieth of their produce when tithes were abolished. Consequently, the church was deprived of one of its chief sources of revenue. Church land, which comprised about a fifth of the area of France was confiscated and became the property of the state. In July 1790, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy was enacted by the National Assembly. Among other things, bishops were to be elected by the voters who chose the civil officials and the pope was merely to be notified of their choice. Payment of the clergy by the state was no blessing in disguise since the former was to take an oath of allegiance to the latter. [It must be observed that Spener criticized caesaropapism (doctrine of state control over the church) in his significant publication way back in 1675]. The pope’s power was reduced to that of stating the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed «churchmen felt this new act meant secularization of the church and they were violently opposed to it» (Cairns, 1981, p.390).

Unlike the situation in the United States, separation of church and state by the French Revolution and later in the Soviet Union and its sphere of influence was an attempt to totally exterminate the church and to replace it with nationalism. The Roman Catholic Church and the French state were completely separated during the reign of terror of 1793 and 1794 when so many were executed for counter revolutionary activities.

The programme of deChristianization gained momentum when the convention decreed that a commune had the right to renounce the Catholic form of worship. The calendar adopted on October 3 1793 made every tenth day rather than Sunday a day of rest. On November 7, 1793, the Archbishop of Paris appeared before the Convention and «solemnly resigned his Episcopal functions» (Encyclopaedia Britiannica, vol.15, 1989, p.498). A certain Mademoiselle Maillard, an opera dancer, wearing the three colours of the new republic on November 10, 1793 was enthroned as the goddess of Reason upon the high altar of Notre Dame, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Paris, and there she received the homage of the revolutionists. Notre Dame was rechristened the Temple of Reason. Another step adopted by the Convention was the ordering of churches and parsonages to be used as school houses and poor houses thus effectively preventing public and official worship. The Feasts of Reason both at Paris and elsewhere soon «degenerated into mere orgies, disreputable women playing the part of goddesses and enacting bacchanals in the churches» (Martin, 1877, p.552). The precarious situation during the Reign of Terror forced many Christians to renounce their trust in God. Assessing the situation, Kuiper (1964) pointed out that «it is not possible to say how many Protestants as well as Catholics renounced their faith at this time, but the number was large» (p.310). Although the Convention passed a decree reaffirming the principle of the freedom of worship, the Directory and its regime were basically anti-Christian. The interests of Christianity and European civilization were no longer regarded as two expressions of the same reality. In other words, there was a signal of the demise of Christendom.

Kings initially viewed themselves as God’s representatives on earth and considered all disobedience and rebellion to be sinful. A dangerous feeling of infallibility, considerable serenity and moderation therefore gained control of monarchs. The French Revolution completely repudiated this divine right of kings and «asserted the doctrine that the right to rule came from the people» (The World Book Encyclopedia, vol.5, 1971, p.199). Although Napoleon eventually recognized the Roman Catholic religion as the religion of the great majority of French citizens, he did not make it the established religion. The clergy were to be paid by the state but the property taken from the Roman Church in 1790 was not to be returned to it. In fact, Latourette (1953) observed with brutal truth that Napoleon «regarded the church as an institution which must be recognized and used for his purposes» (p.1011).

The French Revolution and Napoleon brought grave embarrassment to missions. The direct result was a sharp decline of the faith in some geographic frontiers. Few missionaries were sent from Europe and it was difficult to render aid to those already in the field. The Society of Foreign Missions of Paris was compelled to seek headquarters outside of France. The Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, the bureau through which the Papacy supervised missions abroad, was driven out of Rome. This led to a marked falling off in numbers and morale of the Roman Catholic community in India. Adverse domestic conditions coupled with the handicaps in Europe threatened the extinction of the church in China. The occupation of Spain by Napoleonic armies and the attack on Portugal greatly affected missions in Latin America. Conditions in Russia were also adverse. Parishes lost the right of electing their clergy, a privilege enjoyed since the era of Peter the Great. In a brilliant summary, Noll (2000) commented that «turmoil from the French Revolution and then the wave of national liberation movements fostered by Napoleon further diminished European concern for cross-cultural Christian expansion» (p.274). The revolution greatly affected Lutherans in the German states. War and suffering revealed that skepticism and infidelity were not sufficient to meet the needs of the human spirit and multitudes turned again to religious faith. The old Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, stimulating the strengthening of independent states like Austria and Prussia. Later in the century, this contributed to the unification of the German people under the leadership of Prussia. Calvinism in Europe also felt the shock of the French Revolution. Skepticism had already weakened this group in France, Switzerland, the German states and the Low Countries. According to Baker (1959), the «political conditions that continued through the Congress of Vienna in 1815 brought disorganization and uncertainty to continental Calvinism» (p.321).

Beyond the dark clouds were shades of silver lining, which several scholars tend to overlook. Perhaps a positive view was that «society was being directed toward the good of the whole community instead of toward the benefit of a tiny elite of kings, nobles and bishops» (Noll, 2000, p.248). Grievous as were the losses suffered by Christianity, «there was ample evidence that the faith was by no means moribund» (Latourette, 1953, p.1012). Indications of vitality (old and new) were evident. These could be found among the Roman Catholics of the eastern churches and in Protestantism. If anything, «secularization of the west was not going to blot out the faith» (Noll, 2000, p.260). Liberal, sectarian and traditionalist responses to the marginalization of European Christendom all had notable vigor though at varying degrees. European thought was skillfully sifted in a new world in order to preserve an intellectually vigorous Christian faith. Groups like the Oxford Movement applied lessons of the early church of the perils of the present. In his stimulating Church History lectures at West Africa Theological Seminary, Lagos, Nigeria, Dr. William Faupel observed that secularization is not inherently evil and argued that there must be a positive interaction, that is, taking the gospel in the mindset of the people.

RELEVANCE TO CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY

Many biblical scholars agreed that the punctuation of papal power in France was a fulfillment of prophecies of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, which they believed predicted the demise of Roman Catholicism. In this light, Faupel (1996) observed that «the French Revolution became the Rosetta Stone by which all scriptural prophecy could be correlated with the events of human history» (p.92). The lessons for contemporary Christianity are significant.

Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is indeed a reproach to any people. Even today, the Wesleys are credited with saving England from a bloody, political revolution such as befell France. While the common people were as oppressed and deprived as the French, the English people could cope with their oppression because of their faith in God and their adherence to Christian principles. The English revival caused the people to look to God for hope whereas the French had only politicians and atheistic philosophers. The lesson is that God can avert destruction in a nation that acknowledges Him as Saviour. The situation in Sierra Leone in May 2000 is a case in point. God miraculously saved the nation at a time when destruction loomed large. The nation responded to the call to shout ‘Jesus’ at 5:00 p.m. on Monday May 9 2000. God honoured this demonstration of faith and reliance on Him as the only hope. The peaceful elections in May 2002 and August/September 2007 could also be attributed to the redeeming work of God in a land where He is exalted. In like manner, Horton (1993) firmly believed that «God brought about a peaceful change in the protestant land of England, in contrast to the turmoil of the Roman Catholic France» (p.72).

Secondly, the church in any nation should not fraternize with the state to oppress masses since the latter could rebel with frenzied violence. In France, the revolutionists demonstrated that «they could break down barriers if they were driven to desperation» (Rowe, 1931, p.420). Furthermore, ideas that glorify man and sentence God to temporary or permanent exile could be dangerous to any nation. The French Revolution shocked Europe and awakened people to the power of ideas and forces that had become part of western culture. For many, «those ideas and forces connoted the disruptions and destruction that could be expected from unrestrained rationalism» (Manschreck, 1974, 298).

From the study, the researcher realizes that pagan religions and ideas could penetrate areas once dominated by Christianity as a result of the state of the church. During his lectures, Dr. Faupel lamented that an impending doom could await the church in North America because of inherent weakness including racist Christian policies. As Rodney observed (1972), «racism…[was] a set of generalizations and assumptions, which had no scientific bias, but…rationalized in every sphere from theology to biology» (p.99). Contemporary Christianity should realize that it should not be the cold impotent ash (like the church in France before the revolution) but a vibrant church fulfilling the Great Commission. Sumrall (1980) caustically dismissed refusal to spread the gospel as «reckless spiritual homicide» (p.8). The contemporary church must be willing to sacrifice like Christ and the saints of old if the earth should be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. Houghton (1980) hoped that the contemporary church would be mindful of the fact that «when the church goes astray, denying Him who had bought His people with His precious blood, the Lord [sends] trials and afflictions to correct His unfaithful children» (p.34).

CONCLUSION

The above notwithstanding, the blood of a martyr is seed for the church. After the French Revolution, Christianity, probably to the dismay of the revolutionaries, did not die. Truth (Jesus) was in the grave for three days but eventually resurrected. Persecution, in the history of Christianity, could be regarded as a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block. Fire did not beget cold and impotent ash. After the French Revolution, the church became much more involved in speaking on relevant issues of the day. Christianity was viewed from a different perspective. Evangelism was given a thoughtful consideration. In spite of all the negative effects of the French Revolution, the brand of Christianity that emerged transformed itself by positively interacting with the philosophical mindset of the day.

LIST OF REFERENCES

Baker, Robert A. 1959. A survey of Christian history. Nashville: Broadman Press.

Cairns, Earle E. 1981. Christianity through the centuries: a history of the Christian Church. 2nd ed.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1989 ed., s.v. «French Revolution».

Faupel, William. 1996. The everlasting gospel: the significance of eschatology in the development of Pentecostal thought. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Harman, A.M. and A.M. Renwick. 1999. The story of the church. 3rd ed. Leicester: Varsity Press.

Horton, Beka. 1993. 1980. Sketches from church history. Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth.

Kuiper, B.K. 1964. The church in history. Michigan: The National Union of Christian Schools.

Latourette, Kenneth S. 1953. A history of Christianity. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.

Lefebvre, George. 1947. The coming of the French Revolution. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Lewis, C.S. 1970. God in the dock: essays on theology and ethics. Michigan: William E. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Manschreck, Clyde L. 1974. A history of Christianity in the world: from persecution to uncertainty.

New York: Prentice Hall.

Martin, Henri. 1877. A popular history of France from the first revolution to the present time, Vol.1.

Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Noll, Mark A. 2000. Turning points: decisive moments in the history of Christianity. 2nd ed.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Rodney, Walter. 1972. How Europe underdeveloped Africa. London: Bogle L’Ouverture Publications.

Rowe, Henri K. 1931. History of the Christian people. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Sumrall, Lester. 1980. Where was God when pagan religions began? Indiana: LeSEA Publishing Co.

Vos, Howard F. 1960. Highlights of church history. Nebraska: Back to the Bible Publishers.

The World Book Encyclopaedia, 1971 ed., s.v. «Divine rights of kings».

The World Bank Encyclopaedia, 1971 e.d., s.v. «French Revolution».

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Kottayam – The Land of Latex & Letters

Kottayam is located in central Kerala in India. The town is an important trading center of spices and predominantly known for its commercial crop rubber. Rubber trees are extensively cultivated in central Kerala, especially in vast areas of Kottayam District, in plantations, both large and small. It is also known as the base of important print media majors. It has also emerged as the pioneering centre of modern education in Kerala with the city becoming India’s first municipality to achieve over 100% literacy in 1989. The city of Kottayam is also called as «Akshara Nagari» which means the «City of Letters» considering its contribution to print media and literature. In keeping with its education, it also became the first tobacco free district in India.

Kottayam is bordered by Pathanamthitta district on the south, Alappuzha district on the west, Ernakulam district on the north and Idukki district on the east.

Etymology:

It is believed that the name Kottayam originated from the Malayalam words ‘Kotta’ meaning fort and ‘akam’ meaning ‘inside’, giving the word meaning ‘interior of the fort’.

Geography:

Kottayam town is located in central Kerala at a location of 9°35′N 76°31′E9.58°N 76.52°E. It has an average elevation of 3 meters (9 feet) from sea level. It is situated in the basin of the Meenachil River that is formed by the confluence of several streams in the Western Ghats in Idukki district. The river flows through Kottayam district and joins the Vembanad Lake. Kerala geographically is divided into Highlands, Midlands and Lowlands based on altitude with Kottayam falling within the Midlands. The general soil type is alluvial soil. The vegetation is mainly tropical evergreen and moist deciduous type.

The climate in this District is moderate and pleasant. Kottayam’s proximity to the equator results in little seasonal temperature variation, with moderate to high levels of humidity. Annual temperatures range between 20 to 35 °C (68-95 °F) From June through September, the south-west monsoon brings in heavy rains as Kottayam lies on the wind-facing side of the Western Ghats. From October to December, Kottayam receives light rain from the northwest monsoon, as it lies on the leeward side. Average annual rainfall is 315 cm.

Brief History:

Kottayam was ruled by the Rajas of the independent little kingdom of Thekkumkoor who ruled from Thazhathangadi till the mid-18th century. Marthanda Varma, the hero king of Travancore annexed Thekkumkoor and surrounding areas of Kottayam to the Kingdom of Travancore. During the British rule of India, Kottayam continued to be ruled by the Princely State of Travancore.

The Travancore State under royal rule consisted of two revenue divisions viz., the southern and northern divisions, under the administrative control of a ‘Diwan Peshkar’. Later in 1868 two more divisions Quilon (Kollam) and Kottayam were constituted. A fifth division, Devikulam existed for a short period but was then added to Kottayam. At the time of the integration of the State of Travancore and Cochin in 1949, these revenue divisions were renamed as districts and the Diwan Peshkars were replaced the more British «District Collectors». Thus Kottayam district came into being in July 1949. Later it became a part of the Kerala state and the headquarters of the district bearing the same name when the state was formed in 1957.

Economy:

Kottayam as already mentioned is a major trading center of natural rubber in India. The Rubber Board, a body set up by the Government of India for the development of rubber industry, is located at Kottayam. A number of small and medium sized enterprises in and around the town are engaged in the processing of rubber latex and manufacturing of rubber products. Besides rubber, Kottayam is a trading place of other commercial crops like spices cultivated widely in the surrounding areas. The Plantation Corporation of Kerala also has its headquarters at Kottayam.

Religion:

Kerala has a history of being a magnet for traders’ predominantly from the Arab world as well as Europe. They not only brought along business opportunities but their culture and more importantly their religions along. Considering that the Hindu religion had been practiced here for ages, the negative practices of it were implemented in its harshness too-this included the feudal system supported by the caste system. Some of the religious beliefs that «offered» equality and a sense of self esteem was a welcome change for many suffering communities. One of the enticements of new religions was the opportunity to attain «nirvana» without social barriers. Christianity is supposed to have reached the shores of Kerala way back in the first century. According to unconfirmed beliefs, St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ was also reputed to have landed in Kerala to spread the good words of the lord.

Reflecting the religious make-up of the population, a large number of Hindu temples and Christian churches along with Mosques dot the townscape. Apart from the native Hindu population, Kottayam in particular has a large no. of Christians along with substantial no. of Muslims too.

Christianity- Kottayam is a major center of Syrian Christians of Kerala. Followers of Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Jacobite Church, Knanaya, Marthoma Church, St. Thomas Evangelical Church, CSI Church, Pentecostal Churches, and Brethren form major Christian sects.

The St. Mary’s Church, or the Valia Palli or the Big Church, built in 1550 by Knanaya Syrian Jacobite Christians who emigrated from West Asia, is considered as the first Christian church in Kottayam town. This church is famous for its two granite crosses known as Persian crosses. There are rare antique carvings and mural paintings behind the main altar and on the ceiling.

There is another St. Mary’s Church known as Cheria Palli or the Little Church, belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Church was built in 1579 by the Raja of Thekkumkoor for his Christian subjects. These churches feature temple architectural influences. The interior murals, painted using vegetable dyes, depict Biblical themes.

The Syro-Malabar rite of the Roman Catholic Church has an archeparchy based in Kottayam. Some of the important Catholic churches in Kottayam include Lourdes Forane Church, Good Shepherd Church, Vimalagiri Cathedral and Christhuraja Cathedral. The previous Pope John Paul II visited Kottayam, during his visit to India in 1986. He announced the beatification of Father Kuriakose of Chavara and Sister Alphonsa, who hails from Kottayam. The mortal remains of Saint Alphonsa, who was elevated to sainthood in 12 October 2008, are kept in a chapel next to St. Mary’s Church, Bharananganam. It is a popular Christian pilgrimage center.

Islam-The most prominent among mosques seem to be the Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid, situated in the banks of river Meenachil. It is reputed to be one of the oldest mosques in India and according to legends is more than 1000 years old. It is famous for its architectural beauty, and rich wood carvings. This mosque was constructed by the followers of the Islamic prophet Muhammad during one of their first voyages to Kerala.

Hinduism- The native religion has a significant influence in the socio-cultural fabric of Kottayam. One of the most important temples is the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Kshetram, at the heart of the town. It is dedicated to the destroyer among the Hindu trinity- Shiva and is built in the typical Kerala style of temple architecture, with interior murals depicting themes from the Hindu epics. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century by the then Raja of Thekkumkoor. The annual temple festival is a grand affair and culminates with the Aarattu ceremony that attracts large number of devotees.

Despite the presence of various religions and a large no. of each faith, in keeping with its reputation for peace, various sections of Christianity, Muslim and Hinduism co-exist harmoniously.

Tourism:

It has been a major contribution to the economy of Kottayam. Many tourism related businesses thrive in the town. Kumarakom, one of the most famous tourist destinations in Kerala, is only 14 km from the town. Wagamon is another prominent place worth a visit, and borders the districts of Kottayam and Idukki. Kottayam has a vast network of rivers, backwaters, hill stations & ancient religious places. Just a few prominent places have been highlighted here:

Places to visit:

Vembanad Lake: It is a great water-body which is part of Kerala’s famous interconnected Kerala Backwaters that run virtually the length of the state. Vembanad Lake is 52 miles (84 km) in length and 9 miles (14 km) in width. Traditional cargo boats called Kettuvallams have been modified into luxurious cruise boats and house boats for the convenience of the tourists. These boats gracefully move around the back waters, enabling its passengers to enjoy the beauty of the Vembanad Lake in a relaxed pace.

Pathiramanal: Translated as the midnight sands, Pathiramanal is a small yet beautiful island located within the Vembanad Lake that is accessible only by boat.

Kumarakom: Located on the Coast of Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is a village made picture perfect by mangroves and coconut groves, lush green paddy fields, gushing waters snaking through the dense forests. Kumarakom bird sanctuary is home to migratory birds like the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal. Local birds like the water fowl, cuckoo, owl and water hen and other common varieties like the woodpecker, sky lark, crane and parrot can also be spotted here. Approximately 91 species of local and 50 species of migratory birds are found here making it a bird watchers paradise. The best time to watch local birds is June-August and the best time for migratory birds is November-February. House Boats and motorboats are available on hire for bird watching cruises in the Lake.

Vagamon: is a hill station in the Kottayam-Idukki district.

Other attractions close by:

o Thekkady Periyar Tiger Reserve – 104 kilometers away, located in the Idukki District.

o Peerumed- Roughly 75 Kms away, located in Idukki district

o Munnar- The famous hill station, about 80 km away

o Vaikom- Located about 50 km from Kottayam.

o Kottayam is also a gateway to the pilgrim centers like Sabarimala, Mannanam, Vaikom, Ettumanoor Siva temple, Thirunakkara, Bharananganam, Erumeli and famous Manarcaud church. Kottayam town is linked by rail to other prominent cities in Kerala and also linked to the waterways for scenic travel.

During the months of August and September, the rivers in and near Kottayam transform into race tracks. The serene backwaters come alive during the popular malayali festival of Onam when the spectacular water regatta -the snake boat races. Oarsmen, at least a hundred in each boat, slice their way through the waters to the fast rhythm of their own full-throated singing. Thazhathangadi boat race in Kummanam is over a century old. Boat races are conducted at Kavanar and Kottathodu rivers in Kumarakom. These vallam kalis have about 50 boats participating, including Chundan, Churulan, Iruttukuthi(ody) veppu, and canoes.

Bottomline, Kottayam is a beautiful part of the gorgeous Kerala. Visit it to believe it.

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May in Rome is Football Time

Winning the Champions League Final is now seen by Europe’s top teams as the ultimate prize. No longer is winning the domestic title enough for the likes of the big four in the English Premier League, or the leading clubs participating in Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe.

Much is at stake, reputation, glory and money and this season’s Champions League has been nothing if not controversial. Now the climax that most neutrals have wanted is imminent; Manchester United will take on Barcelona in Rome on May 27th in the 2009 Champions league Final.

Barcelona’s spectacular last-gasp semi-final, second-leg added time winner denied Chelsea the chance to make the Final an all-English affair for the second year in a row, leaving the London-based team to lick their wounds and a certain Norwegian referee, embroiled in controversy to hurriedly exit the UK.

However, Manchester United’s place in the Final never looked in doubt from as early as 10 minutes into the semi-final, second leg when they stormed to a 2-0 lead on the night, eventually steamrollering Arsenal 4-1 on aggregate and breezing into the final berth. Now, the reigning Premier League champions are aiming to return the Champions League Cup to their trophy cabinet with a win over Barcelona. But, having lost their appeal to UEFA, United will face the Spanish giants without key defender Darren Fletcher who was sent off during the second-leg semi for a foul on Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas. Rio Ferdinand is also a big doubt as he struggles to overcome injury, but that won’t stop as many Manchester United fans as possible attempting to book their ticket to Rome.

Advice to non-football fans planning a trip to the Italian capital – avoid the last week of May! While in town both sets of supporters will no doubt be taking the opportunity to see what else the beautiful city has to offer, meaning that Rome hotels, restaurants and bars will be packed with tens of thousands of Mancunians and Catalonians. So, unless you can stand frenzied football fans all teetering on the edge of anticipation then it may be best to avoid Rome until the start of June.

Although no trouble is anticipated, travelling football fans do tend to get quite boisterous, especially in the final 24 hours before the game kicks-off. So, there will be no quiet contemplation at the Trevi Fountain, or rest and relaxation in Rome’s piazzas during the run-up to the final, and unless you are willing to be part of that atmosphere, steer clear of Rome until the football circus departs!

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Landlords, Do You Know the Importance of Keeping Your Property Safe?

With the winter season well underway, domestic gas and electricity usage is on the up – and it’s your job to ensure that your property and tenants are as safe as possible by checking all the electrical and gas appliances in use.

Hiring a fully qualified, registered professional to tackle any gas and electrical jobs, whether large or small, is of the utmost importance.

A good lettings agent should be able to organise electrical tests and gas safety checks for you, whether in house or by recommending trusted contractors.

Electricity

You’re legally obliged to ensure that all electrical items and household appliances supplied as part of your property letting are safe. Look out for:

  • Badly frayed or damaged insulation
  • Old or exposed wire
  • Poorly fitted or cracked plugs
  • Scorch-marked or damaged sockets
  • Plugs without sleeved, insulated pins

Be sure to repair or replace any equipment or appliances that are past their best with new equipment that meets current BS and EC standards.

If you have a property requiring a house of Multiple Occupation License from the Local Authority, by law you will need to provide confirmation of electrical safety. But it will give you and your tenants real peace of mind if you arrange for on-going checks anyway. A qualified electrical engineer should test every appliance and help you to keep a log of:

  • Item make and serial number
  • Item condition
  • Dates of Portable Appliance (PAT) test

Remember, some insurance companies won’t pay out if untested electrical items cause damage.

Gas

Any gas appliances and systems can pose a great risk if they are not fitted and maintained properly.

As a landlord, you are legally obliged to comply with the Gas Safety Regulations 1994 for any equipment that uses mains or liquid gas in your rented property.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a real danger that can cause severe illness and even death. Carbon Monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas, so you and your tenants may not even be aware of its presence until it’s too late.

And any kind of gas leak can have catastrophic consequences, from gas poisoning to risk of fire.

A fully qualified GasSafe engineer should carry out an annual full check at any properties that you rent out.

It is important to be aware that a standard annual service offered by many tradespeople does not comply with the legal regulations for landlords and may leave your tenants and property at risk – so be sure that your engineer is GasSafe registered.

To comply with the regulations you must:

  • Hire a GasSafe registered engineer who is qualified to work on the particular appliances and systems in your property
  • Ensure a full gas safety check is completed both prior to a let and every year thereafter
  • Ensure all gas fittings and flues are maintained safely at all times
  • Repair or replace any defective gas appliances or pipework as soon as possible, ensuring any damaged items are not used until made safe
  • When all checks have been completed, you must:
  • Give a copy of the gas safety check certificate to your tenants

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MLS Team Chicago Fire Sign Mexican Soccer Player Nery Castillo

Major League Soccer has been trying for years to gain traction in the heart of American sports fans, but they’ve re-amped their efforts following a wildly successful World Cup. The South African games had more viewers than any previous Cups. Major League Soccer managers and players are hoping that the soccer fever had more to do with the sport than the vuvuzelas, and that excitement for the game will carry into their current season.

With this new American understanding of the sport and its power players, MLS teams are scurrying to sign some of those names to their rosters. Thierry Henry was one of the first players to accept the trade or loan to MLS. The newest player to come to the land of the free is 26-year-old Nery Castillo. The Mexican will be joining the Chicago Fire.

Fire managers say they’ve been working to acquire the star attacker from Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk for about two years, and are excited to finally have him as a designated player on the team. Shakhtar had previously loaned Castillo to Manchester City (in the Premier League) and to another Ukrainian Team, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

Castillo was left off of the World Cup team roster, though he has been playing with the Mexican national team since June 2007. The Chicago Fire is hoping that Castillo can help turn the team around. Their MLS record is 4-5-5 and they have yet to win a non-MLS game this year.

Though Castillo’s deal with Shakhtar and the fire is currently a loan, he is hoping to make the move permanent.

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Best Football Teams In Bulgaria

Football is religion for this small country. Throughout its communist times, the Bulgarian nation managed to preserve its nationality and freedom exactly through supporting the country’s favourite football club – Levski Sofia named after the apostle of Bulgarian freedom from Ottoman rule, established in 1914. Known under many different names throughout the years, broken down and dissolved in an attempt to subdue the enthusiasm and empower the communist motto «If you’re not with us, you are against us» and stomp on the basic human rights to support a team they love, Levski Sofia football club has managed to perservere and come out on top in today’s society. It has won 26 Bulgarian Championship titles, only beaten by its rival CSKA Sofia. Famous football icons such as Gundi and Gonzo who played internationally have captained the team and have taken it to worldwide fame. Gerena stadium is the main stadium of Levski Stadium with capacity of 19,000.

The other mostly supported Bulgarian team is CSKA Sofia. Its history is a little different to Levski’s as they were the Army’s team in the past – supported by the government in power and managed by the very same. Considering they have won 31 title in the shorter history, founded in 1934, it is only fair to consider the fact that during communist times they were pushed to victories in order to maintain the control of the governing party by proving to the ordinary citizen that the leading party is the almighty powerful tool that is to lead them. If we put that aside, CSKA has provided one of the top quality footballers on a worldwide level, including Hristo Stoichkov and Dimitar Berbatov, one playing for Barcelona, reaching 4th place with Bulgarian national team and winning the Golden Ball award and the other playing for top clubs like Tottenham, Manchester United and Monaco and winning the Champions League, respectively. CSKA Sofia has a great academy for youngsters and is known to promote young footballers and develop them to become great professionals.

The most famous, risen to infamousy football club recently is Ludogoretz. It’s owner is Kiril Domuschiev, a wealthy businessman that funds the club and supplies it with a budget nearly 5 times as large as the second to it in terms of finance. Their main strategy is to acquire footballers from abroad, primarily African regions and Brazil and use them to dominate in the local championship. Results speak for themselves, Ludogoretz has been a champion for the past 4 years since it emerged in the Group A of the Bulgarian football league. They played in the Champions League groups last year narrowly losing to Liverpool and Real Madrid and beating Basel on home turf. The team resembles Manchester City and Real Madrid in terms of management and is the top club in Bulgaria at the moment.

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