The Devil of Calicut - A Misconception

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Varthema in Calicut

In Christian evangelical discussions concerning the advent of the devil, there is frequent mention of the so-called ‘Calicut Devil’, and when I recently came across it, I decided to check a little deeper into what the discussion was all about. As one could imagine, it was something that came out due to a complete lack of understanding of the alien culture which the Portuguese chanced on after Vasco Da Gama landed in Calicut and opened the floodgates to an era of discovery and inventions, as the Europeans called it. The research led me to a lot of things I did not know and helped me put to rest the confusion created by Varthema, the Italian who was led by the Zamorin into a little temple within the precincts of the old palace at Calicut, in 1505.

Ibn Battuta, the Tangerine

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Ibn Battuta’s Rihala – A product of oral history

I have realized along the way, after some 35 years of global travel that – you can never understand an Arab sitting and studying books and power points in Stuttgart, nor can you understand an Afghan by sitting in Zurich. Ibn Battuta’s accomplishments can never be surpassed by any other, for such was the period and the difficulties he faced, going out into the yonder which little to guide him, be it detailed maps, dependable transportation, or finance. How he managed it is a wonder, and like many researchers, one has to admire his sheer grit and personality, for he managed the 70,000-odd miles of travel (by boat, on foot, horse, camel, donkeys, and palanquins), always deploying a charming personality and guile, layered with a thick coat of diplomacy and faith. Easily getting into and out of problems, and facing the adversities of weather, this wonderful person spent 30 years on the road.