Saturday, 31 October 2009

Ole testimonial returns to where it originated, 118 years later

Out of curiosity, I looked up if an old school in Madras that existed in 1889 still survived today. It was because there was a testimonial taken by my great grandfather from that school when he left that teaching job. I am so happy that my curiosity ended up in the documents ending up at a place where it originated 118 years before. More...

Not all dolls are pretty !!

His aunt was telling me that they were more than a hundred years old and they got them for a Rupee or two back then...All this displayed in a 100 yrs old house which Raghav’s granddad bought from a British Officer makes it even more special...More

Friday, 30 October 2009

State-level Conference on Genetic Engineering, Farming & Food

State-level Conference on Genetic Engineering, Farming & Food
Saturday, November 7, 2009

Media have been reporting that genetically engineered (GE) Brinjal (Bt-Brinjal) is to be the first human food item to be introduced into the market in India, following field trials. This has raised discussions regarding aspects of its necessity and safety, and the issue of  enabling the consumer to exercise the right not to buy the GE product. The effect on the farming community who may choose to grow GE-Brinjal and other GE crops, as well as on farmers who do not so choose is also being discussed; there are many who argue against ... continue reading

Is MUDA Aiding Illegal Land Use Change?

Whenever a person wants to change the land use of his site (from residential to commercial, from agricultural to residential, etc.), he has to obtain permission from MUDA. According to law, MUDA places an advertisement in the papers regarding the land use change and calls for objections. The proposal and the objections are then placed before.... continue reading

Will the RTO please clarify?

The RTO of Mysore has recently issued a press release (duly reported in many newspapers) stating that according to a government order, all vehicles must display both English and Kannada licence plates....... Continue Reading

Dereliction of Duty by MCC

According to Sec. 2(1-A) of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, phone towers are buildings and since they are used for commercial purpose, they are commercial buildings. So they can not be built on residential sites.

In a circular (No. UDD 17 Aa Pra Sa 2001) issued on 12-11-2001, the Karnataka Government has clearly reiterated this point. It says that establishment of a mobile tower is a commercial activity and that it is subject to the provisions of zonal regulations of the approved Comprehensive Development Plan for the city... continue reading

Need To Move Away From Big Dams

Recent floods in the Krishna basin have left hundreds of people dead and lakhs homeless. Countless livestock have been destroyed and the total monetary loss ran into thousands of crores of rupees. As a hydrogeologist with 4 decades of experience, these are my observations on this disaster.

1. There are several major dams across the Krishna river and its tributaries and these dams were supposed to prevent such disasters. So the dams have failed in one of their primary purposes. Not just... continue reading

Gerberas and Saddam Hussein in the Forest

We saw a small hothouse with flowering plants and stopped. There was a cluster of buildings belonging to the Forest Department and we didn't want to enter without permission. A little boy was the only person in sight. He looked nothing like a forest officer, but he told us we could go in, and then ran off, shouting that he would call the 'Beat Babu'.

The Tuk Tuks in Bangkok

Just like any other 'new arrival' in Bangkok I was eager to experience the rides in the famous Tuk Tuks of Bangkok. Tuk Tuks are similar to the autorikshaws of India, but are more spacious. The name originated from the sound of the motor of the vehicle and the sound really went tuk tuk tuk tuk... Read more...

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Can Husain return?

I am no artist and if I see a modern painting I would muster all my intelligence and try to match the name of the painting with the artist’s illustration. Most of the time I fail the test. Guess one needs imagination too. Hence personally my adulation would always be for a picture that is straightforward and which can be seen by my own eyes.

I believe an artist sees the world in many different ways and his/her illustrations may or may not strike a chord with the viewers. One may also see something entirely different from what the artist set out to illustrate.

Anyway this is not about paintings. But because of my ignorance about artists and paintings I never knew that 94 year old M F Husain has been living in exile (in Dubai) for the past few years.

Did India really sent an artist away from his country of birth for his paintings?

Wikipedia gave the following:

One of the most highly rated artists in the world today, his work sells at astonishing prices and are grabbed almost instantly by international art collectors.

According to Forbes magazine, he has been called the "Picasso of India".[1]

At the age of 92 Husain was to be given the prestigious Raja Ravi Varma award by the government of Kerala.[10]

In early 2008, Husain’s Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata 12, a large diptych, from the Hindu epic, fetched $1.6 million, setting a world record at Christie's South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale.[3]

Unfortunately the higher in stature he grew, the bigger the controversies too. Every religious / patriotic sensibility seems to have been battered by this frail old man.

In the 1990s some of Husain's works became controversial because of their portrayal of Hindu deities in the nude or in an allegedly sexual manner.[12]. The paintings in question were created in 1970, but did not become an issue until 1996, when they were printed inVichar Mimansa, a Hindi monthly magazine, which published them in an article headlined "M.F. Husain: A Painter or Butcher".

Husain's film Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities[26] was pulled out of movie theatres a day after some Muslim organisations raised objections to one of the songs in it.[27] The All-India Ulema Council complained that the Qawwali song ‘Noor-un-Ala-Noor’ was blasphemous.

And now he wants to return to India as per this report.

Centre plans to pave way for M F Husain's early return

Is the stage set for the next political drama?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Pazhassi Raja, the Lion of Kerala

By and large, the history books have bypassed Kerala Simham (Lion) Veera (Brave) Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, the ruler of Kottayam in North Kerala towards the end of the 18c CE and beginning of 19c. This valiant warrior prince took up arms against the taxation policy of the British East India Company. The war between the two, which began in 1790s, lasted till 1805...

Close Encounters of the Herd Kind


The poor elephants were still stranded when we returned down that road around sunset time. The gawping crowds had grown, and now it was like a mela - a fairground - with so many motorbikes, cars, cycles and drifters.

The elephants had stood without a sound and without a drink of water, intent on protecting their young. They showed no signs of wanting to harm the crowds of people. There was no shade where they were standing, and they had been hurling mud on their backs to keep cool. Read on

Monday, 26 October 2009

Memories: A lakeside Travellers’ Bungalow

Vaikom is a small town, but one of the oldest in South India. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Vembanad Lake in Kerala. The Siva Temple there is considered to be the Southern Kashi and the ‘Vaikom Ashatami’ is a very famous festival.

The place is also prominent in history for the Vaikom Satyagraha (1924-25) led personally by Mahatma Gandhi. The objective of the agitation was to secure the right of passage for all sections of people along the roads around the temple. At that time the lower castes were not permitted on those paths....

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Mysore of yore

"Don't ever underestimate the Mysorean, who generally appears contemplative and self-effacing. You will take some time to realize his wit and wisdom, which unfolds slowly and unobtrusively - majjigeyolagina benneyanthe - like butter emerges from buttermilk. There is an unintended artistic expression by the people even in seemingly ordinary matters." Read more....

Saudi Court Orders 60 Lashings For Female Saudi Scribe

We all understand how shocking and outrageous the conservative Saudi society has found the programme to be. And the Saudi judiciary probably cannot be blamed for handing out punishments to the man (named Mazen Abdul-Jawad) and Ms. Rozanna al-Yami.

But was there no way to punish them in a decent and civilized manner, something that would have been in tune with the 21st century? Is the barbaric practice of lashing the only way out to maintain the so called social, cultural and religious purity of the famous Middle-East kingdom? More....

An Ideas 'Mela' in Mysore

As a resident of the host town, my concern, or rather my poser to organisers, is: Shouldn't local residents be allowed to benefit from the proceedings ? In a global event of this nature local enthusiasts tend to get crowded out by those from elsewhere. . .More. . .

Children Of Destiny

In today's Statesman ( October 20) I came across a news item, "Great Escape". The story is how a toddler -- not even two years old -- is safe and well even though he fell down from an open window of his third storey apartment. He landed on some concrete and rocks.He escaped with a cut in his abdomen, a bruised lung and a bump on his head. This happened in California.
More here....

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Capt. Lakshmi: From stethoscope to Sten gun

The name of this remarkable lady is Lakshmi Sahgal, nee Swaminathan. She is popularly known as Capt. Lakshmi though her official rank in the Indian National Army (INA) was Lt. Colonel. She commanded the Rani of Jhansi Regiment under Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. That was no ceremonial unit but one which fought on the Burma front for India’s freedom. ...


All of a sudden we have people getting depressed, contemplating suicides and generally apprehensive of what’s going to happen to us on 21st December 2012 when the Mayan long count calendar runs out. I can't believe that NASA is being inundated with people inquiring about this doomsday planet with this doomsday race on it.

Read on:

This Is Too Much, China

Now one of the latest nuisances caused by China is to show Kashmir as an independent country outside India. The journalists who are visiting Tibet are being given media handouts by the Chinese government, which mention Tibet as a piece of land bordered by India, Nepal, Myanmar and Kashmir. The clear implication – Kashmir is a land independent of Indian jurisdiction. More....

When Martin Luther King Jr visited Kerala

It was I think around the year1953, that MLK discovered the light in the teachings of the Gandhi. Many years later he recounted thus – ‘The inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi began to exert its influence. I had come to see early that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhi method of non violence was one of the most potent weapons available to the Negro in this struggle for freedom’. ...

Interestingly King Jr was also one of the few who observed another Gandhi technique, as he observed “Mahatma Gandhi never had more than one hundred persons absolutely committed to his philosophy. But with this small group of devoted followers, he galvanized the whole of India.”

One fine day he came into contact with such a follower of Mahatma Gandhi who was convinced that MLK should visit India to see all of this for himself. After discussions following the unfortunate incident involving the Curry letter opener stabbing, MLK Jr finally decided to tour India. In February and March 1959, the 30 year old Dr. Martin Luther King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, traveled throughout India. King aptly told a group of reporters gathered at the airport, ‘‘To other countries I may go as a tourist, but to India I come as a pilgrim”.

While much of King’s visit to the big cities of India is well remembered and documented, most may not be aware of his days spent in Trivandrum and the glorious weekend that King and his wife spent at Kanyakumari.

Read the full blog post here

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Photos: Leaves, cream & green

How many are too many ?

An obvious question that springs to mind is, how come there were so many travelling in that autorickshaw ? We don’t get an answer in this 12-para news report. In fact, the question remained unasked by the reporter, even in a subsequent report.. .More...

Two facets of Krishna Menon

Anyway I was in the indoor stadium in Calicut named after him to check out the books displayed at an Onam book fair (Now tell me where else in India would you have a book fair during a festive holiday occasion? Only in Kerala!! You will never see a Navarathri or Diwali book fair). Well, there I was, and Lo and behold, I found the very book I had wanted to peruse some time back, but had forgotten about. It was a book titled ‘Not a nice man to Know’ by the writer journalist Kushwant Singh. I wanted to read it only because it had one of those rare articles on the persona of Krishna Menon. Singh had been roundly abusive of Menon in his biography and had done another article in this very book. Strange is it not? Buying a book reviling Menon from the very stadium grounds named after Menon! Well, such is life. I will not write here all that stuff that Singh enjoyed doling out in his book, but I will give you some of the more contentious and salient points.

Click here to read the full blog

Monday, 19 October 2009

42 Years of Mowgli

As long back as I can recall, the jungle book and Mowgli has been part of my life. Rudyard Kipling's enchanting tale of a little boy brought up by wolves, befriended by the friendly but dangerous when provoked Bagheera , the lovable Baloo and the terrifying Sher Khan!

It had all the elements of a block buster, come to think of it, and I remember being enthralled by it. I remember reading the book, coming across abridged versions in English text books, brought to life by my wonderful teachers, who knew just how to modulate their voices to enact the vicious, bitter Sher Khan, the sweet cuddly Baloo, and the cutest of them all, Mowgli! more

Finding Motivation

The last few weeks have been crazy (if you've heard me say that before - believe me - it is usually with good reason :-))

It seemed like a never-ending round of visiting the doctors, diagnostic center for tests and medical opinions - with no real solution in sight. Things then precipitated, probably because I got a bit frustrated. Let me give a bit of a background first.  More...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Once Upon A Diwali..........

Small communities of expatriate Indians , living in far flung small towns in alien land, are always thrilled to seize upon any excuse to have a jingoistic bash where they can wallow in nostalgia and longing for "home", with over- the- top exhibitions of Desi-ness.
Hyper-Desi sentiments, Uber-Desi attire, Ultra-Desi feasts .
Diwali is one such excuse and a grand one at that.

In the ghetto of the factory -campus in a smaller- than -small town of Indonesia, where we once lived, Diwali was always a Big Fat Desi Affaire par Excellence - yeah, Bollywood dances religiously included !

Its reigning men!

I was watching this Malayalam movie the other day. It showed, Suresh Gopi barging into a women’s ashram and demanding to see an inmate. The heroine of the movie who is the caretaker or manager of the ashram refuses citing rules and regulations. A perfectly normal response. What happened next was disgusting. Suresh Gopi tells her to “Shut your bloody mouth” and walks away. I was shocked!!! Does the film maker realize that this is not a standard response of a gentleman in anger? Or as my friend pointed out, this was considered the smart response in Kerala to women who speak up!! How many people must have watched this movie? How many people would it have influenced and encouraged to behave in a similar fashion with ladies? I suspect many!...more.

Hey, rickshaw

Have you ever taken a ride in a hand pulled version of the rickshaw? Or even seen one? Well, may be in Kolkotta. That is the last bastion of the original two wheeled rickshaw. The Government tried to ban this mode of transport which turns men into beasts of burden, but the rickshaw pullers would not agree...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Fascination for the Radio

Did you know listening to the radio is a popular hobby pursued by thousands across the world? The radio is a wonderful instrument that provides entertainment, information and what not. Not every house had a radio some decades back, now everyone has one in their pockets, thanks to FM transmission which has revived the radio listening habit. Read more...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

A Bend in the Ganges

Two cities I visited almost back to back ; two rivers I gazed upon –rivers that wind through several cities and landscapes but I have seen them hug the shores of maybe two at the most three cities. More here......


I could not believe I was in the USA, and that this was not India. Such was the atmosphere that night. The main street had been closed to traffic by 9 pm ...........More


I feel very good and a little proud of myself.

I feel great when I open my mail and send back replies. Me an eighty plus woman sitting at my laptop and typing this note...More here..........

Invoking Goddess Lakshmi

It is Diwali time and I want to share the picture of Goddess Lakshmi I took some time back. I was stunned to see it there and then. More...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A bridge with a life of its own..

The Tower Bridge of London is one of the most well known images associated with London. One which a lot of people mistakenly assume to be the London Bridge. The first time I saw the London Bridge, I was quite disappointed, but as I read more about London, the history behind the bridge enthralled me. The simple, normal looking bridge is one of the most well known bridges in the world, and has a fascinating history, right from the time when London was a Roman Settlement. It is the latest of in a series of Bridges to be called the London Bridge. more..

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The soldier farm

The story is about a village in Tamil Nadu...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Cashew, the nutty nut

The nut of this tree is a bit of a nutty business. What is called ‘cashew apple’ (and is commonly believed to be the fruit of the tree) is actually a false fruit. It is a developed part of the receptacle of the flower of a cashew tree. The real fruit is the kidney shaped drupe that is found on the bottom end of the cashew apple. It is the kernel inside it that is the most valuable part of the cashew tree, ‘the cashew nut’...

When Sobriety Turns Into Misbehaviour

Actually when you are too much sober, you get extremely conscious about each and every word that you speak, and also about each and every movement and action (like walking, sitting, etc.) that you come up with. You start maintaining a strict control on your words and also gestures and body expressions while interacting with somebody. This makes you sound very cold and indifferent to the other person, thus making you look somewhat proud. More...

Case for Doordarshan Farming channel

Why not a TV channel to address concerns of farmers - about marketing their produce, procurement of seeds, fertiliser, opportunities for agro-business, horticulture, livestock and farm equipment maintenence? A krishi channel would get more ad. revenue for DD than the Lok Sabha channel.. .More...

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Unprecedented deluge in Karnataka and Andhrapradesh. And just the other day, the lament was about Drought. As they say in vernacular : "Athivrishti - Anaavrishti".

The usual post crisis finger pointings are going on , full steam. "Avoidable tragedy" is the unanimous verdict. We do have Disaster Prevention and Management committees. Also, pertinently, Disaster Relief Funds......Even marmosets learn, at least by pavlovian reflex. We never learn.

It was quite eerie to see images of the Tunga flooding the shrine in Mantralayam. Never have i seen the river there being anything more than a thin, sluggish stream, coursing well away from the bank . One always had to cross expanses of hot rocks to get the mandatory holy sprinkle.

.....Now I think of a little girl - is she safe ? Sadly, "Hungry and shelterless" may not be a new situation for her.....

Uprooting And Annihilation – The Only Way To Counter The Maoists

Instead of following a mainly reactive line of action (which it is seemingly following right now), the government must immediately espouse a proactive line of action. It should come down heavily on the rebels, crushing them in the way a mighty elephant tramples a helpless man lost in the jungle.

We must remember that Maoists are mindless people left completely brainwashed by their leaders. The only truth for them in this world is the order from the top brass, which they carry out without any question. In that sense they are no different from the foot soldiers of the Taliban. And so the only way to deal with them is extreme savageness. More...

Friday, 9 October 2009

Azad Hind

During my school days I was a voracious reader of novels and short stories. One day Appan told me that kind of reading alone was not sufficient, that I should broaden my coverage of different subjects.

He gave me an article by Nagavally RS Kurup on Netaji Subash Chandra Bose in a magazine. This was shortly after the trial of Indian National Army (INA) personnel in the Red Fort was over. I found the piece of writing fascinating and read up everything I could about Netaji and the INA....

Sai shrine on Bangalore farmland

It was Mrs Samyuktha Mahesh’s idea to portray the secular sage as a person, not a deified entity placed on a pedestal; as someone with whom the poor and the humble among his devotees can relate. She conveyed her thoughts to an artist who put them on canvas.. .More. ..


Firstly, thanks to GVK and MBP community, now we Bloggers can post directly on Mysore Blog Park using our own google account. What an idea Sirjee!
Now, for the Moon Mania blog:
They've now got people asking if the moon is going to break up and maybe chunks of it will hit the Earth. One tweeted asking if this was going to result in high tides and trigger Global Armageddon like in the movie "Day After Tomorrow". Then we have a female tweeting in despair and wondering if it is going to mess up her periods! One guy now says it's not cool, dude, to bomb the Moon. Back off NASA. One girl asks if we voted for this kind of sh*t? One guy asked a profound question. He says "did we consult other countries before we decided to bomb the Moon? It's their Moon too you know". Wow, I am deeply humbled by this guy's magnanimity. Read all about the latest Moon "bombing" here..

Tales of the Seven Pagodas

For many centuries, there have been rumors and tales of temples submerged in the sea - of which now, just one, the Shore Temple, stands visible, lovely and lonely, gazing out to sea, its stark beauty enhanced by the barren vistas of sand and stone and wispy wind-swept casuarina all around. Marco Polo is said to have visited Santhome (in modern-day Madras) where he was regaled with tales of the lost temples of Mahabalipuram. His descriptions found their way, in part, to the Catalan Atlas of 1375. The Catalan Atlas is one of the most important atlases of the medieval era, and was put together by a Catalan Jew (from Spain) called Abraham Cresques. It shows India in peninsular form, and Mahabalipuram is mentioned there as "Setemelti", which is assumed to be an erroneous version of "Sette Templi" - or seven temples. More

Thursday, 8 October 2009

I am too sexy for your bombs...

India will not be intimidated by Kabul attack says Minister of State for External Affairs Mr. Tharoor

What would you do if you were intimidated Mr. Minister? Go after them?

Then please get intimidated Mr. Minister. Because I am intimidated by these events and more so by your nonchalance!More...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Dasara nostalgia

To me, the Dasara festival is so 'nostalgiating'. Dasara of yore was so different from what we see now. The excitement and participation of people in the festivities is something one cannot imagine these days. It came from within oneself and not through lighted up streets and circles or publicity loudspeakers! On one of the festival days recently, I took a "heritage walk" which is linked in the slideshow widget. Take a dip here.....

Photo studios, old photographs....

Owning a camera was a big deal up to the 1970s. Photography itself was an expensive affair. As such, many people resorted to visiting the photo studios to get themselves or esp. the children in the family photographed. There is one Raj & Bros. (brothers) in Mysore that has served and has been serving since many decades from the same old studio. Read some more memories...

Monday, 5 October 2009

Adieu to a tharavad (ancestral home)

Last week on TV I watched the Malayalam movie Raappakal directed by Kamal, and starring Sharada and Mammootty. A good one. The theme is something that is happening quite frequently in Kerala these days – ancestral homes (tharavads) being sold. The buyers convert them into resorts or residential complexes....

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Public Hooliganism In India In The Name Of Democracy

India is a democratic country, and people always have the right to protest against any government decision or policy that they disagree with. But that protest must be in accordance with the norms of the civilized society. We must remember that our Constitution has given us the right to express our displeasure, and not the right to stoop to the level of hooliganism. More...

Niswarth and Durga Puja

When the music began, Deepa danced with terrific energy, mouthing all the words of the song and enacting all the emotions expressed by the singer. There were four boys dancing with her. Two of them cannot hear at all, and the other two have very limited mobility. Their team work was remarkable.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

But for Jinnah, would ‘Pakistan’ have been named ‘Industan”?

That is an interesting thought from the book Empires of the Indus The Story of a River. My good friend CR Natarajan had gifted me the volume by Alice Albinia when he and his family visited us recently after a pilgrimage from California, USA, to Thirupathi, India.

September Soul

September strums a scarlet rhythm.
Blood red ... fiery red ...
Sensuous, sultry, passionate, scandalous,
Glorious, vibrant, sizzling, sinful red ...

The finer details

I have to tell you at the very outset that I share my home with 2 cricket-obsessed males.
But I suppose you would've guessed anyway by the dirty heap of cricket whites that can be found heaped in various spots of the house at any given time. And the long line of cricket bats, balls, helmets, gloves , etc., etc. that mark the way from the verandah to the bedrooms.

Hear Your Body Talk

I received this fantastic article in an email newsletter and was eager to share it. I loved it and I hope you do, too - because it is so relevant in all our lives.

What business are you really in?

Ever get a great idea, and then you are flying high with inspiration and possibilities? You outline your idea, you mind map it, you buy books on the subject, you easily draft up copy for an email campaign... you take a few steps, and then you share it with a few people close to you and... Bam! You hear "How will you do that?" "I don’t get it..." "Someone else I know has done something similar..."

Next thing you know, your inspired actions have turned to staring at the computer and aimlessly reading tweets.

Then your own psyche joins in the game and pipes up. "You’ve never done anything like that. What makes you think you can do it? Last time you tried a campaign, you didn’t get very many people signing up. Your message isn’t clear enough. Your list isn’t big enough..." Not enough...More

Flying to Samyukta

I have never enjoyed this travelling overseas business, the red tape unnerves me. Filling in forms is a nightmare, and at the other end I dread immigration and customs. And I always wonder why Scottie can’t be around, to beam me up. More ......