Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Other Taj - a tribute

I would stop at the glassed enclosure on the wall that contained some of the rarest most beautiful photographs of the Taj's famous guests. Queen Elizabeth and Jackie O , Maharani Gayatri Devi and a breathtakingly , lovely , young Shobha De and so many others...More...

Leadership crunch

Several bigwigs had their bytes prominently relayed by starved reporters. A few channels left their ad space and time intact - the viewer is a consumer after all!
Media gave themselves a free hand, and have assumed that they are beyond regulation...More...

Coping with crisis

Those agitating to keep non-Maharashtrians out of Mumbai would be doing a great service if they instead focus their energy to sanitize the city from terrorists. Those who are so bravely fighting the invaders include many non-Maharashtrians.They come from several parts of the country and belong to different castes and communities...More...

There they go again, ...

In other news, this jerk, a film maker named Rahul Dholakia is angry because when he drives from Lokhandwala to film city, he can't see a single armed policeman. Heard that, guys? Out of the Taj, please. Man the road to Film city. Rahul is VERY upset. . .More...

Laptop is old hat

Laptop is old hat. Keith Bradsher of the New York Times sent updates on the terror strike in Mumbai from his Blackberry. The newspaper correspondent had parked himself on a rooftop close to Nariman House...More...

Friday, 28 November 2008

Mumbai Terrorist Attacks

The whole day has been so depressing, numbers are rattled out as if a mere numbering exercise. When will the political parties stop fighting among themselves and take things seriously?...More...

Media spoiling the surprise ?

Sometimes I feel, the media sensationalism, is probably detrimental to the critical operations. An example is the splashing news on NDTV right now, telling everyone in the world, that 100 commandoes are being air-dropped onto the Nariman House for the final push of the operation...More...

Mumbai

I try to keep away from current affairs on my blog, simply because, there is so much media coverage that you feel who cares about what is written here. But then, I also realize, that this statement holds good for other posts as well...More

Black Day

How many more black days do we have to see before we see an end? Or is this only the beginning?
Where are our leaders? What other issues are occupying their times?
It is time you stepped down from your seats since you have all failed....More

This country needs change

As act after act of terror strikes our country, it certainly feels that we are not safe anymore. Glorification of the acts by the media aggrevates the feeling. One cannot fail to notice the lapse in intelligence gathering. Misplaced priorities of the politicians makes the situation worse than it is already. ..More

Dear Mumbai Police and NSG

I have been watching a program on the Times Now channel where four people - Alyque Padamsee, Farooq Sheikh, Shefali Shah and one guy named Sohail I think - were discussing the situation with the anchor....These people are ANGRY. Not with the terrorists, who they feel are only misguided souls doing what they've been told, and doing it rather well, thank you very much, but with YOU...More..

Somali pirates and our Navy

Many years ago, the architect of India naval strategy, eminent historian and reluctant diplomat KM Panikkar said: "A navy is not meant for the defense of the coast. The coast has to be defended from the land....More.

Deepa: I've no backbone

There I was, watching the History Channel, when they suddenly sprang a programme on the history of Chocolate. Fifteen minutes into the show, my backbone gave way, and I raided the fridge, desperate for anything, just anything chocolatey. . .More

Ouch!

Life without computer

Was quite upset about this. Felt that the doctors were making unnecessary fuss. But they had a point. At the age of 75 one has to be careful about such things. . .More

Sweet Thoughts

We asked these two gentlemen who run the place what the sweet is called. It doesn't have any name, apparently. It is a sort of cham-cham, that's very spongy and sugary...More

Slumdog Millionaire...

It so happens to me that, many books in my personal collection and those that I have read have plots that form the storyline of a major blockbuster later. Be it Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Namesake' or Mariane Pearl's 'A Mighty Heart' or Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code' and many more. . . More

Teamwork

In spite of labels stuck upside down, pages stuck together, all my careful classification of books, the room becoming a terrific mess and total exhaustion, I went to bed rather pleased. Because they did read the books inbetween and asked questions ( is this a volcano) and that is the ultimate aim. . .More. . .

Heritage Trees: Five, and counting

There are scores of other trees awaiting heritage cerification. Wouldn't it be nice if Prof. Ramalingam and others in the committee share their thoughts on the criteria for identifying a heritage tree?...More

Monday, 24 November 2008

Calcuta Again

This beautiful, ethereal edifice and its surrounding gardens is just a brisk twenty minute walk away from the Club and it is very difficult to resist the temptation to rush off there for a morning walk.......

Stop the bail-out - Let them wake up!

The ‘American Dream’ so far as the automobile went was an imposed nightmare. In Detroit itself, you can see the skeletons of a once alive transport system. All across the country, for decades from the 1920s, they bought up public transport systems and shut them down......

Photos: From the Local Florist


In the Nursery

like visiting the Paul Nursery in Mal Bazaar to pick up seedlings and seeds. It’s a favourite haunt with most tea garden people.......

Where was I?

O, when America was voting I was in San Francisco. Taking time off from the conference, I went to see people lining up to cast the historic vote. When McCain made the concession speech I was at a dinner, but we were all looking at the TV, and there was only one subject of discussion.....

Off With the Old

Or so I thought . . . . When suddenly two days ago I found that I could not connect to the net. I called their Call Centre. The line was busy for very long, and I could not get through at once. But once I did, the person there, without being obsequious, very clearly told me (without any ornamental flourish - no ‘have a great day’, no ‘thanks for calling us’)that my problem would be addressed as soon as possible........

The front page

Some newspapers would do anything to attract attention - even publish a blank page. Provocation for this Bangalore Mirror front page was, presumably, to advertise the Indian Cricket League series starting in Bangalore on Sunday night.....

Gadsisar Lake, Jaisalmer

Gadsisar lake of Jaisalmer is an artificial water tank, built by Maharawal Garsi Singh in 1367 A.D. It was the sole source of drinking water till as recently as 1965.....

Duck For Cover

A woman carrying a duck arrived to see the Vet.
She was crying very salty tears for Cuddles was her pet.
'Doctor! Doctor!' she wept and wailed ' Tell me it's not true!
Tell me that Cuddles isn't dead! I don't know what to do!'

A Walk through the Woods

I took in grateful lungfuls of air, enjoying the smell of Californian redwoods, and the rejuvenating freshness of the air. There was a surreal perfectness to these woods, and they were exactly the way I had pictured them be.......

Friday, 21 November 2008

Arrest of Two Catholic Priests and a Nun for Murder

Since then, several CBI teams have investigated the Abhaya case. The two priests now arrested were subjected to modern tests like narco-analysis earlier. Nothing conclusive emerged from that. A few times the CBI approached the Kerala High Court for permission to close the case stating that the evidence was insufficient to proceed against the suspects......

Jurassic Park and Lost World


Gmail now in colour

Around 12.45 am Indian Standard Time (+5.30 hours GMT), that’s about 15 minutes back, when I switched to the Gmail window, I found there was a strange blue border to my Gmail boxes. For a moment I was zapped. Then, I noticed an announcement on the top saying a variety of colour themes were available.....

Sister Abhaya

Can Sister Abahya’s parents have some peace of mind now? Of course they are the first ones who matters but I think this case matters to many of us too. If one asks why, there are no specific answers. It is not as though this is the only murder case which has been languishing in the court rooms, but it is a case which tugged the conscience of many......

A Lovely Visitor

My sister Viji had met Vyjayanthimala in Mumbai earlier this year, and called her when she came to Chennai recently. Vyjayanthimala immediately invited her to her place for dinner.....

The Musical Conversation

Do you know why the pakkathaathu, neighbour, payyan, boy, has stopped coming to our house? He says that even though you teach him Maths, he cannot manage the extra few minutes of having to listen to your music. Such is the way you have scared people. Even a thief will think twice before coming to our house......

Go Chandrayaan !

Now that the Chandrayaan satellite is also safely parked on the moon. India is one of 4 nations, who have their flag on the moon. Yes, I say that, with my chest swelling with pride.......

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Talpade's flight over Chowpathy

Historic documents such as the Vedas and some Indian epics do mention flight and structures termed Vimana’s but nobody seems to have taken them seriously (inspite of claims & rumors that NASA's ion engine is based on the vedic texts). The contents of the book Vimanika Sastra and all the innuendo put together by H Childress and Berlitz, were dismissed as hogwash.....

I Remember Sylma

By the time we got to Sylma
It was dusk
And we were hungry.
We walked the main street
Looking for somewhere to eat.

Karthika

When Karthika approached Ravi’s office for the pension and the job she was asked to come a month later and check on the status of the pension and her son’s induction into his father’s job. Today, ten years later, Karthika still haunts the office for the pension and her son’s job......

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Election and young people

The President-elect is the poster boy of young people in our city.Evidence of this fascination was in plenty at two halls at the Taj Coromandel Hotel where the American Consulate hosted an event where the results of the election to the White House in the USA were broadcast.......

What ? You! It can't be :-(((

guess the reactions take on colour only in the light of the background. Which has been rather bleak, living in a 'C' grade mofussil town for many years. Good movies came to town about 6 months or 1 year after release and disappeared before we even knew they had 'hit' town , rather weakly.......

Draw Your Family Tree

Usually, information is passed down the generations through oral tradition. In the process some details could be lost. Perhaps it is time that you draw your family tree, if it has not been done already, with the information currently available to you......

Sick of Life? Try Well of Death!

The 'Well of Death', when I saw it in my childhood, was a part of the circus. It was a huge hollow globe made of stout iron wire mesh......

Sapgreen Community Plans

This will be a place for all of you who are interested in trees and environment in general to write articles, share thoughts and even plan activities among yourselves. Every one of you would definitely have an idea for making the Earth greener.....

It's Foggy Today

the rhythm's festival is on
someone weaving wet water reeds
today also there is smoke
the mood is laid back

Dr Nayeem’s omission

I hold him guilty of omisssion. Star of Mysore columnist Javeed Nayeem in his Friday piece wrote extensively about the Doctors’ Musical Nite, but he made no mention of Sarah, a local engineering student, who made her debut as stage singer at Kalamandira.....

Babies on the dash !


Patwon ki Haveli, Jaisalmer

The sight of its breathtaking architecture and impressive carvings on the outer walls will leave you gasping with appreciation. Huge corridors, lined with beautifully designed pillars all along will slow your pace.....

Books for Children

Kalyani's idea to set up a chilldren's book library in Ooty has picked up steam. She has mobilised online over 150 people to back Sirukathai project with cash and books donation.The library seeks to help children,with little access to the world of books and other audio-visual material, widen their mental horizon......

Tricky Vicks!

Friend Barbara knows a myriad tricks;
The latest one's concerned with Vicks....
The VapoRub that stops congestion
(But doesn't do much for indigestion!)

My Grandmother


Karamanai Ammai was born in the 1870s. She got married before she was eight years old, as was the custom in those days. What really intrigued me was that she started running her house for her husband when she was barely 11 years old, just a child and not a woman yet.....

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Fair and Lovely: The Mela

The Mela arrives in Banarhat town every October, in time for Durga Puja. This travelling fair has around four hundred and fifty people moving with it.......

HAPPY CHILDREN'S DAY - to the child in you


Kerala Flowers


Sapgreen is NEW

After 7 months of action, we had learnt a great deal of things. How people value trees and how a few detest them!! How important trees are yet how less importance it gets!! How varied are trees from each other and how monoculture is being promoted by the country!!

Pondicherry Again

We told the driver to drive slowly while we drank in the sights of the place, the straight and parallel roads, laid at right angles. The Pondicherry we knew and loved was this one square mile city, called the white town.....


Postcards from Bylakuppe

This is named as the Namdroling Monastery, often called the Golden Temple of South India. The title 'Golden Temple' is befitting because the structures are bathed with a layer of glittering gold, and this make the edifices more conspicuous from a far off distance.......

Networking with non-onliners

Over lunch we mulled over the idea of connecting them with Kalyani’s social contacts who aren’t into online networking; and are not all that inclined to learn the ropes of Internet networking. The idea is to connect Kalyani’s contacts on parallel tracks, by organising, once or twice a year, a weekend family gathering of the like-minded......

Chowringhee

A fascinating study of human character, Shankar takes you into the workings of newly liberated Calcutta, the babu’s, the gora’s and what not. The camaraderie between the staff of the hotel, the dark secrets, all of them are retold in a style with a singular purpose of entertaining you......

A primer on the US financial crisis

The US Financial crisis is something that has been making headlines all over the world. Everyone loves to talk about it on TV and all this because it is a universal phenomenon. But do we really know what we are talking about and reading?.......

Khejarli Village of Bishnois, Jodhpur

From Jodhpur we took a tour to Khejarli village 26 km south-east to the city. This village is a mute witness to the first documented and one of the greatest green movement in India......

A Bee in my Bonnet!

Once washed, my little bit of hair lay limply on my head,
Until the wretched rollers made it wide and high instead.
Then came the awful dryer, and a scalp all burning hot,
But a Beehive would be my reward so I didn't mind a jot.

Livejournal

Since I plan to blog regularly, I thought it would be best to personalize my blog. Moreover, livejournal was not allowing me to post for the past one month. As a result, I decided to purchase my own domain, personalize the whole blog with my own template and write some serious stuff....

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Voice of an Iraqi Girl

Yesterday by chance I came upon a blog said to be written by an Iraqi girl. The last entry on her blog is dated October 22, 2007 when she fled with her family to Syria as a refugee. She has not written again and there are many who wonder what could have happened to that vivacious, freedom loving spirit that was in her....

"Headphones for deaf Ears"

I dutifully forwarded to a cousin - an epitome of ante-1,2,3,4,5,6,7 aboveHe wrote "Superb article….you should have sent it a couple of days back….I would have saved 800 Rs which I spent on a panasonic headphone….

Karnataka: Two Places of Worship


Sodexho!

Even as I looked on amazed, he opened it, and started tearing out sheet after sheet. The girl looked at one sheet and told him that the value of each sheet was Rs. 15. He nodded, and pulled out about 50 of them, one after another, taking his own time. Then he went on to pull out sheets of the next denomination, Rs. 50, as the girl verified......

Id Milan: Let’s have more of Alfie

Snag with the speeches made at any public gathering is that they tend to go on, on and on. And at the end of the day, on reflection, you find most speakers have said nothing that you hadn’t heard before.....

Bond, shames Bond – the review of Quantum of Solace

Being a sequel to Casino Royale, which many swear by as one of the best and most realistic Bond movies of all time, this movie started off with action sequences right from the word GO. All the action scenes were brilliantly choreographed; the visual imagery was mind boggling. Mind you, this is supposed to be a believable human Bond.....

Her Tryst with Marriage

The crowd around was laughing and jeering at her. Her saree was torn and hair disheveled and she was not even conscious of that. She was alternately laughing and crying while shouting ‘Nanna Madve Aagthiyeno?’ (‘Will you marry me?’)......

I begin to understand Mithila painting

The colours were bold, and the flat filling-in of colour made the paintings visually stimulating. Below the painting, the artist had signed her name.....

World War Two Hanger

The British had moved their (by then already obsolete and slow) Aircraft out of Seletar Air Base, further down to Indonesia......

Bracket Creeps

Why does the local press,
Not content with name and address,
Have to state the subject's age
Clearly, on every printed page?

Wedded to a cause than the man!

Soon, wifey in the enthusiasm of a new bride will start putting down the law. No drinking and no smoking. She thinks she will have the eternal devotion and love of her husband with her concern for his health. What happens instead is a stupid battle of the sexes that sours relations and throws the romance out of the marriage forever....

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Hi Obama

But what makes you stand apart is that all the other Presidents had to perform notably to get their names immortal in the US history, whereas you have made history merely by getting elected as the President, given the fact that you are the first Black person to grab that coveted position.....

November Medley

A decade from now, this is how I wish to remember November 5 of a certain year."1. The Government announced the award of Bharat Ratna to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. The newspapers gave him a 1/2 inch space. No channel resounded with his music. A kid's voice could be heard - Who is he, mom?.......

Mumbai Taxi Stories

It was such a great relief when the driver handed the camera over to me. He explained that he had been waiting for me for a long time and I should pay him the meter charge. That was about 40 rupees. I gave him 100 rupees......

Free Some Day

New Delhi, March 20th, 1977, early morning: My Dad sitting with his ear close to the old Pye Radio, on which the BBC newsreader's crackling shortwave voice announced the unbelievable, all the way from London. The Emergency was over. Indira Gandhi had lost the election and resigned......

Just like that


America grows up

In India and rest of the sceptical Third World, I belive, Barack Obama has changed the way see America. The Obama win made me feel the same way I did when Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa President. David Frost anchoring the US election coverage for BBC put it in perspective when he mentioned that not so long ago the blacks in the US couldn’t even get to vote. Today, a black has been elected President.....

Shanta P Nair – Kerala’s Nightingale

Born 1930, she spent 79 years in this world and her 200 odd songs (I could list only about 50) for some 100 films are now a testament to fine music, if only in posterity. They were songs from an era when melody was queen......

The Demoiselle Cranes of Khichan

Migratory birds can be seen at many places, but what is special about this village Khichan is that the locals of the village offer quintals of grains to the birds.....

Ad-lined Avenue

Ads may not grow on trees; but they sprout close to them on this tree-lined avenue....

Pity Poor Pollywog!

Very soon two arms are sprouting.
He's amazed by what he's seeing!
He holds them there
Up in the air
Shouting 'I'm a human being!'

The Kal, Aaj aur Kal Tag

My oldest memories are of Kindergarten! The beautiful bougainvillea flowers that abounded everywhere, the swings, the laughter, the fun and the pampering by the Nuns, maids and senior girls.I had chubby cheeks and endured lot of painful moments as people pinched them. Once I declared I would not go to school anymore and my parents had to talk to the teacher.....

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Getting Students to Report and Write

November is the time for young people in local schools to work with us.Our intention is not to get them into journalism but to get them to move out of their homes and colonies and look around. And to learn a little more.We began this programme over a decade ago. In the past, we had dedicated an entire issue to the reportage and pictures of our young reporters and writers.....

Is Your Language Dying?

A New York Times report on September 19, 2007 by JOHN NOBLE WILFORD states that half the 7000 existing languages might become extinct in this century. Does your mother tongue come under this category?......

Vote and Grab a free Coffee

Yesterday, while I was reading the New York Times online (nytimes.com), I found an AD by Starbucks before it could let me read the front page. Later, I learnt that Starbucks is offering a free cup of coffee to anyone and everyone who vote on the 4th of November'08 for the US Presidential elections.....

She sells Sea Shells....

When we were children, one of the thrills of going to the beach was walking barefoot in the sand, allowing our feet to sink into the warmish, wet sand as deeply as possible and curling our toes. And then walk closer to the waves, skirts lifted right up to the knees and pants rolled up, and let the waves come and wash our feet, while we would retreat squealing with delight, asking for more.....

Should Children’s Access To Cyber CafĂ© Be Restricted?

Nobody denies the fact that the Internet is very educative for children, as it is the window for a vast ocean of knowledge. However, we all know that children’s unrestrictive access to the Internet can backfire, as it may expose them to stuff that are harmful for them (for example Porn sites).This explains why parents so closely monitor their children’s Internet surfing....

The Mini CAT

When Guy Negre - Renault F1 engine developer and aeronautical engineer, his son Cyril and his 17 year old company Motor Development International (MDI) completed the designs for an air engine, the Frenchman had finally realized the dreams of Jules Verne In his book ‘Paris of the 20th Century’, Verne had foreseen aero cars driving on the streets of Paris....

Mehrangarh Fort - 3

Not just the fort, the artifacts within the museum are all in good condition and worth spending time over. The various rooms in the palace of the fort are breath taking.....

Volunteerism: Corporate initiative

More recently, nearly 60 Mphasis employees with brush in hand painted the premises of the National Association of the Blind, as part of the company's Global Volunteer Day. Mphasis volunteers were there last October as well, when they painted a class-room.....

A walk around the lake

Nearly three years back I wrote about a stench from the lake and Kukkarahalli mo(u)rning walkers. Three days back we took a walk along the lake.....

Masala Chai in Jaipur

It was literally a hole in the ground, a small shop sunken below street level. But Mr. Sahu was something of an artist. I watched him make our tea with a delicate hand, adding just the right amount of tea, spices, sugar and milk. He had an elaborate yet unhurried technique of stirring the tea as it brewed - perhaps he was watching over it for some secret sign?.....

Poor Puppet!

A puppet's like a person but he isn't really real.
A puppet's just like people but he cannot think or feel.
He can look like a policeman or a man who bakes the pies,
Or the pilot of a jet plane as it flies around the skies.

Your vote counts for many kids!

Make A Difference (M.A.D) is a youth volunteer network that currently functions in the three cities of Cochin, Pune and Chennai… 312 volunteers teach more than 1200 underprivileged kids English and computer skills in these three cities to enable them to have better career prospects....These children live in street shelters and orphanages.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Heron's Pool

Mundakayam is just starting to come on the tourism map of Kerala. It is a flourishing town on National Highway 220, almost halfway between two popular tourist spots – Kumarakom and Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.Many places of great interest to travelers are easily accessible from Mundakayam......

Our Cha Bagan Diwali

Diwali is a fusion of many elements in the Dooars. The Dooars is like a mini- India, and the political climate is not exactly idyllic these days. Yet, its people have a long-standing history of harmonious coexistence, and that has survived here through turbulent times in past years.Diwali celebrations in the Dooars are spread out over four to five days....

Weekend at Kabini

Kabini is a river in Karnataka that passes through a picturesque terrain before joining the Kaveri near Mysore. The Kabini Jungle Lodges and Resort (KJLR) has been rated among the top five wildlife resorts in the world by Tatler's way back in 1995...

Dr. Rama, Dr. Uma and Ananda Lahiri

It was one of the occasions where almost everyone is a Sanskrit scholar, or at least a lover of Sanskrit.The occasion was the book release of a translation of Adi Sankara’s ‘Sivananda Lahiri’ by Dr. Rama Venkataraman* and Dr. Uma Krishnaswamy. The book, a bilingual translation, has been published by Vidya Vrikshah......

This Time They Strike At Assam

The terrorists are continuing with their disruptive activities in full swing. After a brief break they have struck again – this time at the beautiful state of Assam in the picturesque North East.The postmortem of the situation has already started, with the usual constituents like blame gaming and scapegoating.....

Of Fahrenheit9/11 and Kissa Kursi Ka

A scathing indictment of the Bush presidency, Fahrenheit9/11 is so provocative that one wonders how the movie came to be screened at all. As I watched film maker Michael Moore taking the mickey out of the Bush administration, I wondered if such blatantly anti-establishment movie would be possible in India.

Mehrangarh Fort


The Mehrangah Fort at Jodhpur is one of the most impressive, colossal forts of Rajasthan. Rudyard Kipling called it “the work of giants”......

Diwali at a Bangalore orphanage

Some 30 techies of HCL, Bangalore, chose to carry gifts and also spend Diwali with children at a local orphanage.Their company contributed towards purchase of tiffin boxes, bags, sheets and towels for the children. The Visitors, many of whom came with families, had a fulfilling day; and the children,lots of fun. Bangalore Mirror wrote that when the time came for the visitors to leave,they were escorted to the gate by the grateful children, who wantewanted them to come again next Diwali.....

Psst!

To think that snooty Poppy Slatt
Would lose her self-control like that!
Little-girlish and demure!
Just a cover that's for sure.

Monsoon Memories

I remembered that evening. The day was done for the most part, and we watched the people worm their way homewards, through the muddy roads, dressed to evade the rains. The rains had been especially torrential, and many had grown weary of them. But we didn’t mind, my cousin and I, we loved the monsoons.....