MR: Let’s imagine we are at an ancient port. It’s Muziris on the Malabar Coast 2,000 years ago… — Tamil poets extol its marvels — “This noisy Muziris throbs as the Ocean, and showers its merchants with wealth”…
MR: Sacks of pepper are piled up high at the waterfront. Ships from Roman Egypt unload their gold and wine onto local boats, which wind down the Periyar River and inland to the city.
MR: The Romans want India’s pepper.. Black gold. Only the richest Romans can afford it.
Men load the ship Hermapollan, with precious cargo: pepper, Chinese silk, aromatic plants such as gangetic nard and malabathron, ivory tusks, and tortoise shell. It’s a treasure ship bound for Alexandria.
MR: Many people know of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome — but not of Muziris, or for that matter, many other places and stories from the Global South. We will tell you some of these stories in Scrolls and Leaves
MRA: I’m Mary-Rose Abraham
GV: And I’m Gayathri Vaidyanathan.
GV: Each episode explores our present but from a Global South perspective. The first season is called “Trade Winds”. It explores themes centred in South Asia, from the time of Muziris more than 2000 years ago, to the height of European colonialism in the 19th century.
GV: The monsoon winds carried ships across the seas in their quest for the riches of “the East”. The trade — and the plunder — of these riches fueled the present-day wealth of the West. But these were also two millennia of exchange of culture, science, language, literature, and the arts.
GV: The first two episodes have been fast tracked for release and recorded during a lock down. In Episode 1, we learn why nations are shutting down borders in response to COVID-19 by delving into an ancient pandemic. In Episode 2, we explore the wealth that is traditional medicine.
Four more episodes will be released in the coming months.
MR: Sound-rich narratives are at the heart of “Scrolls and Leaves.” This is a binaural podcast, with immersive sound. So please wear your headphones as we begin our journey into the histories from the Global South
MR: Welcome to Scrolls and Leaves.