Tuesday, 30 March 2010

My blog is carbon neutral

carbon neutral coupons and shopping with kaufDA.de

Just when I was about to delete yet another random email from my inbox, my curiosity got the better of me. The subject line read “Make your blog carbon neutral - 1 Blog, 1 Tree”.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sports: Two girls from Hyderabad

You have probably guessed already that I am talking about the tennis ace Sania Mirza and badminton star Saina Nehwal....

The parents of both moved to Hyderabad. And both have done India proud.....

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Calera’s “CO2-Cement” Claim. Is It Bankable?

I was thrilled to know that Silicon Valley start-up company Calera has claimed that it has invented a way wherein it can capture the carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas power plants, before turning them into cement. More

Bharti’s Zain Deal – Another Shining Feather In India Inc.’s Hat

The $10.7 billion deal (the largest by any Indian company after Tata’s Corpus deal) reflects the emerging strength, confidence and ambition that characterize the present day Indian corporate players. Apart from playing a strong role in promoting Indian telecom sector’s business in the foreign market, this deal will also promote abroad the overall brand of the Indian corporate sector as a whole. In a nutshell, this deal has resulted in an international image enhancement for the already shining image of India Inc., and can be utilized to curve further niche in the global scenario. More

Future Tense!

Ajji, as usual, gave me coffee in the morning. It tasted different. In fact it tasted like Hemlock mixed with ‘Bru’te coffee.

Crocodile comes out of Lake to prevent Human intrusion

Nature’s ways to save other species are really remarkable. If only man could learn little bit of that humility and not arrogantly intrude in to their space…

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A Junkie and a Monkey

Here is the Ramayana on drugs. It is a far cry from the black and white world of the evil Ravana and the squeaky-clean Rama, the pious Sita and loyal Hanuman. A Ramayana where a lustful Ravana, burned out on angel dust, kidnaps Sita, his mind clouded over by passion and desire. Where Rama and Lakshmana, wandering, frustrated and helpless up and down India looking for Sita, dull their pain with endless joints and pipes. And then Hanuman enters the story, a "hardcore ex-con tattooed" Hanuman who rallies his drugged-out monkey army with a big, happy substance abuse recovery-house reunion. What follows is a war - of monkeys and junkies, everybody high, everybody in a fog, in a fuddle, on cocaine, on LSD, a tangled disarray of tarnished minds and bodies. A war of relapsed junkies, and only Hanuman has the cure: the Sanjeevani herb. More

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Our lilies of the balcony

There was a great deal of excitement in our home last week. My wife Annie was ecstatic. The potted lily plant in her balcony garden had flowered. She started telephoning/emailing everyone she could think of to break the happy news. Some of the close ones in Chennai came home to see the beauties. More...

Monday, 22 March 2010

Exploring Pandyan lands

There is an interesting group of people in Madras called the Hayagriva Study Circle, put together by Dr Gita Vasudevan. They come from all walks of life and are curious about filling in the gaps on subjects that interest them. I have attended lecture series on ayurveda, history and art with them, and its history that I've gone back for again and again.

We went on a short tour of the countryside around Madurai, to explore Pandyan history. I came back from this tour with a better understanding of a strand of history that I knew so little of - the Jain influence in Tamil Nadu. I have written about various highlights over a few blog posts, that I have summarised here.

We visited Thenparankundram and Thirupurakunram, rock cut Jain caves from the 7th and 8th century AD.

Then there was the Vettuvan kovil - the most beautiful rock-cut temple I have ever seen.

Did you know there are some hundred Jaina sites in Pandya country? Kazhugumalai was one such. It was a seat of Jain learning in centuries past, and the Jain bas reliefs we saw date to around 800 AD.

After some off-road driving we arrived at Arittapatti village, in Melur taluk. Once again there was the side-by-side existence of old Hindu relics and vestiges of Jainism. Arittapatti has one of the earliest known Tamil Brahmi inscriptions.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Chennai days – Part 2

It is all in the mind, I kept telling myself again, this is free country, there is no problem out there and there is nothing to worry. I do not recall now if it said, ‘private property – keep away, entry by permission or trespassers will be prosecuted (or castrated)’ or some such thing. But I definitely know that there were no skull and bones pictures and the watchman seemed a ‘namke vaste’ geezer, the remains of wealthy days of the Nawab, vestiges long trimmed by the passage of time. But the sharp nag at the back of the neck and chest remained, for I was convinced I was in a place, a place I should not be in – maybe due to everybody else saying I should not go there. At that time I did not know that the Nawab and the people inside were a gentle lot.

It has always been like that with me, some friends may remember my experience with the taxi driver or the jump into the pond, articles published elsewhere. Act first, think later was my motto in those impulsive younger days. So that morning, on my way to the bus stop, on a Saturday, alone and lonesome, I was out planning to go for the Mardi Gras at IIT Adayar, which none of the others in Ambika Nivas were the least interested in, I decided to step into Amir mahal and take a look at the prohibited grounds, the place from where all those burkha clad females and shehenai wadan had emanated. I had to clear the mystery in my mind.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Kerala: Sand from the lakes

Early last month Kerala received shipment of a rare kind. The vessel called at Cochin first and unloaded half the cargo. Then it sailed on to Quilon to discharge the balance. The Captain was welcomed with flowers.

Can you guess what the ship carried? It was not rice.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Headley shall also be "cherished"

One of the major news that we read in the Indian newspapers yesterday was that Headley will be now pleading “guilty” instead of his earlier plea of “not guilty”.

Is there a Sudoku helpline?

Read only if you are a Sudoku addict!

....Giving herself time before the morning paper (with the solution) arrived, and nearly at the cost of the family's hunger, she continued to tax the grey cells even as early birds burped loudly at the windowsill. With extreme hesitation she placed a possible digit in row 4 column 1, and the rest of the grid fell neatly in place, (confirmed an hour later in crisp newsprint). More...

Monday, 15 March 2010

BBC on Kerala’s drinking

On the 12th of this month Davey Jones was kind enough to, in a comment on my post Merry Mallus and mosquitoes, give the link to a recent BBC news article on the heavy drinking by Keralites...


Sunday, 14 March 2010

The invisible gifts in our lives...

The car was traveling fast through the familiar country side. As soon as we left Kottayam, it felt like we had entered the home stretch. Familiar buildings, trees and fields flashed by like wave upon wave of soothing familiar-ness. I knew I was enjoying the scenery due to the air conditioning in the car. It wouldn’t be so comfortable outside.

We took a bypass and were on a narrow road. I used to come this way as a kid very often. My favorite grand aunt lived here. She was called Ellaimma (because she was junior to other aunts), the youngest sister of my grandfather...more.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

One Family Affair To Avoid - Chronic Kidney Disease

Today is World Kidney Day.

I am writing a post because my mother suffered from CKD and one of the reasons she passed away was because of the complications of CKD. I am probably at risk for it, with a family history of diabetes.Here are some facts about this scary disease.

CKD = Chronic Kidney Disease
CKD is the permanent loss of kidney function. Possible Causes: physical...More

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Discovering Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Have read Love in the Time of Cholera... and must say that overall, I liked the book. More than the story, which I thought is marred by incidents of passion used as a stop-gap arrangement, I loved reading Garcia's description of places and people.

The chapters on the Paramaribo parrot and Fermima's varied pets are entertaining. That the parrot got excited seeing the pretty maids amused me no end. Dr. Juvenal Urbino's patient lessons to teach the bird Latin and French were also impressive, given my personal indulgence with all things animal. Marquez writes in a splendid style, extremely detailed and full of the darker sides of human character.

Celebrating Spring

Today Mumbai is lolling in the aftermath of an overdose of celebration, trying to wash off lingering traces of colour from hair turned electric blue and ears dyed shocking pink. Executives struggle to cover up neon green noses and school kids scrub at violently purple fingers.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

This rot needs to go....

As we all know, corruption is the bane of any society or country and enough and more has been written about it. I am only adding a little more after reading the 2009 Global Corruption Barometer report, published by Transparency International.

Monday, 8 March 2010

The maiming of Munnar

Munnar-Devikulam area in Kerala’s tea country is, or, rather was, a beautiful hill station, undoubtedly one of the best in India. It is said that Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington was the first white man to visit Munnar. That was in 1790.....

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Charition Mime and Udyavara

The heading would be mysterious to most people save a few from the Manipal or Udupi region of Karnataka, or those favoring Kannada & Tulu literary discussions. Most others may have heard a passing snippet referring to this in the middle of an uninteresting conversation, and so I thought it a good effort to cover this subject, for it is remarkable in many ways...............

This story takes us down to a place some 100 miles south of Alexandria and today’s Cairo, to an ancient Nile river city called Oxrynchus .......

Among the fragments they discovered at Oxyrynchus was what we now know as fragment 413 or POxy 413. Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 413 (P. Oxy. III 413) is a manuscript of an adaptation of Euripides' Iphigeneia in Tauris (Iφιγένεια Ταύροις). The setting however is shifted from Greece to India. The anonymous adaptation is known as Charition after the main character. The manuscript is held by the Bodleian Library as Ms. Gr. Class. b 4 (P).

Ok, so what is great about it? We do have writing samples from Greece, but this one was a very interesting play. This Papyrus 413 and the whole play was what they termed a ‘farce’. It was a farce with plenty of farts, a princess, devadasi’s, booze, a king and many big bodied amazons with bows and arrows and so on. OK, that is also familiar, at least some of it. What is unique?

The interesting part was that the entire play was set in a Malabar coastal kingdom and the ‘Greek’ play has liberal doses of an ancient South Indian language. When it was first discovered by Western historians, nobody had much of a clue. Then word spread around, Indologists were involved who eventually determined it was a Dravidian language. But as you can imagine, experts were divided in opinion. Some said it was an ancient Prakritic language, while most others agreed that it was Tulu or Kannada. The Tulu and Kannada factions have been discussing ever since on which one it is. But I will get to all that eventually. Let us get back to the play and the situation.....................

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The vacuum within

The Swami Nithyananda scandal has ripped the society apart. On one side we have people who say that he has every right to sleep with women and on the other side there are people who say that having taken the vow of brahmacharyam or celibacy and exhorting his followers to do the same, he should not have cheated on their faith and belief in him.

I am not here to defend him or run him down. But I feel that religion has become big business now and mega bucks are for the taking if you know a few prayers; posses’ good oratory skills and tones of hypocrisy and know how to harvest people’s insecurities and weaknesses...more.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Iron Maiden: part two

Iron Maiden have about 2000 live shows to their credit. Their sets have always been full of vigour and much veracity in the singing department by the great Bruce Dickinson.
Dickinson's interests include literature, writing and fencing. He was a member

A temple for Sant Surdas

You would know absolute peace, were you to visit this temple for the sightless 15th century poet Sant Surdas. More

I closed my eyes to try to make out the letters - but failed. Pre-formed mental images were poor assistants to overcome the challenge. My salutations to Sant Surdas...

Royal Mysore Walks

What is the connection between Mysore and Dan Brown’s favorite secret society? How did the Maharajas of Mysore plan the city? Why does NASA, in its Virginia facility have a painting of Tipu and his soldiers of the war at Srirangapatna? These and hundreds of interesting facts plus an energetic presentation by Vinay plus a morning walk at the pleasant city of Mysore make up the experience called Royal Mysore Walks.