Nostalgia

February 28, 2007 at 9:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

These past few days I faded away because one thing led to another leaving a blank in my already depleted mind.  My network was down, I had an ulcer in my mouth and I had to remove my lower denture for a week till the doctor permits me the use of my full denture faculty.  I also felt the pangs of nostalgia and loneliness and was disintested in things much.

 I got to thinking how the loss of a close person can leave a big void and how a lot of  links  with people get delinked.  Having been a loner all my life, with so few personal friends whom I can count with just three fengers, I was used to being happy with my personal preoccupations.  However, the passing away of my wife over a year ago meant the loss of contact with all her kith and kin and friends who also were mine by association until she was alive and with me.  Her presence had given a purpose to my life though it is now my children who give me a purpose in life.

My wife was a big draw among her circle of relatives, friends and casual acquaintances.  She could charm people with the mere volume of her volubility and her positive outlook on life and her inborn nature to go out of her way to give solace to people in distress, people who are in sick bed and people who need a moral boost.  The only person  I can remember in her life who didn’t benefit by her association must be me because I never had drive, initiative, imagination, concentration or convictions.  She could make friends with a vegetable vendor as well as a doctor with equal ease and cheerfulness.  She was ramrod straightforward and never minced words.  There have even been instances when people had a dig at me by introducing me to my face to others as Mr. Kalavathi, Kalavathi being my wife’s name.  I had a redeeming quality namely nothing can fluster me normally even though I am really sensitive inside.  It is simply that I am very meek, cowardly and  undecided in any thing where a quick decision had to be taken, that it is a God-send that I had a wife like my consort who had salvaged at least some of my self image and self respect.

She becomes so lively when conversing with people that, once when we visited an acquaintance and she was talking with them and they to her, animatedly, suddenly she stopped talking to them, looked at me and said that she almost forgot I was there with her.  All this without any guile, or affectation, that though I was put off for a moment, I recovered immediately because I know her so well, though strangers may not understand it.

When she left me, her friends in Hyderabad simply vanished from our lives, her close family relatives dropped away becoming involved in their own affairs.  Not just that.  Her absence also took with it a lot of activities like long outings, a lot of conversations, a lot of breathing on my neck, and in all these processes, I have become a better man now. 

I have given up all religious rites and rituals, except the daily morning lighting of the ‘Deepam’ in the puja room, chanting of a few tiny mantras which I have memorised, and remembering her and seeking the blessings of  my parents by just standing before their photograph for a few moments and seeking their  benevolence on our children.

One day suddenly I thought about the futility of things with your daughter staying and pursuing her education so far away and visiting us just once a year, and my son and daughter in law going away to their offices and leaving me alone at home to ponder  alone at home, and all my kith and kin away in Madras.  Those few moments I felt very very lonely.  In the old days Brahmins used to stay together in ‘Agraharams’ in their villages attending to the spiritual needs of  those around them, and all the grand parents, parents, uncles aunts, children, cousins, nephews and nieces, living near each other in a very close community, when  a good or bad event is shared by all and sundry.  Now that we have made even exceptions on religious taboo barring a Brahmin to cross a sea, and the joint family system has all but disappeared, not just from the Brahmins’ay of life but also from all communities of people.  Effectively many youngsters  do not even interact with their cousins and nephews, not even the nearest uncles and aunts.  Life now is in the fast lane and people are more materialistic.  It is not to be construed that religiosity is also disappearing.  The more distant people are from their native land, the more faithful they are to their cultures and traditions and way of venerating God.

Enough of this rambling for one Post.

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Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543)

February 22, 2007 at 1:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have culled the following biographical information from Wikipedia. Copernicus formulated the first modern theory of Solar System, which is often conceived as the starting point of modern astronomy. Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, jurist, physician, classical scholar, Catholic cleric, governor, administrator, diplomat, economist. his conception that the sun (rather than the Earth) at the center of the solar system is considered among the most important landmarks in the history of science.

He was born in Thorin, Prussia. When his wealthy father died, Copernicus was ten years old, his mother having died earlier. His uncle reared him and his siblings after his father died. He pursued aq career in the church and was able to devote much of his time to the study of astronomy. During his education he was fascinated with Astronomy, and his books on astronomy found a place in the Swedish Uppsala University Library. During his further studies he met the famous astronomer Domenico Maria Novara da Ferrara, and became his disciple. He obtained his doctorate in canon law. His future theory started forming in his mind. After ending his studies he started working.

His solar theory was taking form and and was rumoured all over Europe. His book was finally ready and was sent to the publishers.

De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, (on the revolutions of the celestial spheres), his book, was published, and it is rumoured that the first copy of the book was given in his hand while he was in deathbed, and waking from coma, he glanced at the book and died. He breathed his last in 1543. Though his major theory was published in 1543, he had arrived at the theory several decades earlier.

The seven parts of Copernicus’ theory are:

  1. There is no one center in the universe
  2. The Earth’s center is not the center of the universe
  3. The center of the universe is near the sun
  4. The distance from the Earth to the sun is imperceptible compared with the distance to the stars
  5. The rotation of the Earth accounts for the apparent daily rotation of the stars
  6. The apparent annual cycle of movements of the sun is caused by the Earth revolving around the sun
  7. The apparent retrograde motion of the planets is caused by the motion of the Earth, from which one observes.

Catherine Paterson. Bridge to Terabithia

February 21, 2007 at 10:12 am | Posted in Catherine Paterson | Leave a comment

While browsing the web, I got a link from NPR to the website of Catherine Paterson, www.terabithia.com., and her book “Bridge to Terabithia.  HarperCollins Children’s Books published it.  This is the small excerpt found on her website about the story:

“Jess Aarons had to be the Fastest runner at Lark Creek Elementary School, the best, but when he was challenged by Leslie Burke, a girl, that was just the beginning of a new season in Jess’s life. Leslie and her parents were new comers to the rural community where Jess Lived, and were thought to be a bit odd, for they didn’t even own a TV, though their house was filled with books. Some-what to Jess’s surprise, he and Leslie became friends, and the worlds of imagination and learning that she opened to him changed him for ever. It was Leslie’s idea to create Terabithia, their secret Kingdom in the woods where they reigned supreme. There no enemy – not their teacher Monster Mouth Meyers, their schoolmates Gary Fulcher and Janice Avery, Jess’s Four sisters, or even Jess’s own fears and Leslie’s imaginary foes – could defeat them. The Legacy that Leslie finally brought to Jess enabled him to cope with the unexpected tragedy that touched them all.”  You can see this on the following webpage:

http://www.terabithia.com/books/terabithia.html.

If you find Bridge to Terabithia good as a movie, you must know about its author too, logically.  I am going to possess her books one by one, starting with Bridge.  Her synopsis of her biography in her own words  is as gripping and she comes out as a model woman.  In her own words she has four children, two of them ‘home made’ and the other two children adopted, and she has produced books one after the other which are also her children of labour and imagination.  When you read her words, her love for all humanity is evident.  Her life reminds you of  many women, many situations.  If and when she retires from active life and takes life easy in the distant future of her September years, she will not lack for memories and reminiscences and all of them will be pleasant for her.  She is one woman I admire in a platonic way. 

If you want to know in her own words how she came up with the name Terabithia, go to the following link:    http://content.scholastic.com/browse/collateral.jsp?id=1328_type=Contributor_typeId=3555.  This is where you find her responses to an interview.  Asked what was her favourite part in the book is where Jesse’s father comes to him at the creek and they talk about Leslie’s deather together.  This part was left out in the movie.  She says she reads her own books several years after they are published and finds it pleasurable because she feels they appear as if they are written by someone  else.  She adores her parents who were missionaries.  Her own scool music teacher was very kind and thoughtful.  You compare the teacher to the one in the movie and  come to your own judgement.  Her advise to a young author is to read and write.  Her books have been published in 28 languages.  She started writing from the time when she was very young., and she has written about 30 books.  Bridge to Terabithia was inspired by the tragedy of the death of her son’s friend, who was struck and killed by lightning.

You can watch a video interview of  Mrs. Paterson in this weblink: http://www.readingrockets.org/books/interviews/paterson

I liked watching the movie : Bridge to Terabithia

February 18, 2007 at 5:56 pm | Posted in Bridge to Terabithia | Leave a comment

Ever since the moment I heard the name of the movie just a few days
ago, I had been racking the internet to get more information and I got
good leads like a good synopsis written by someone which was detailed
and appropriate (I don’t think I read it in IMDb). After watching the
movie today the 18th Feb., I also searched more and first hit upon IMDb
and read all the comments and liked some.

My own impression of the movie was that it is excellent. Linking it
with Narnia I expected more fantasy. It is definitely not expected to
be understood by very young children though Leslie’s death will sadden
one and all, and the final scene will satisfy their appetite for
fantasy.

I liked best the way children’s characters and their psychology were
handled in the movie. Take for instance one of the bullies whom Jess hits him back is surprised, is otherwise quite a passable character. Janice Avery the bully, with a disturbed home life, ends up being isolated when her father is sent to prison, and who eventually bonds normally friendly with Jess. The Teacher is understanding with Leslie. The music teacher, whose character and relation with Jess are not easy for most people to understand. She and Jess are appreciative of each other, and if it is a crush, it is only one-sided on Jess’ part. The teacher is not perturbed by his adoration and admiration. Jess’ father and his little sister are ideal characters. Jess’ parents and his kid sister are like real-life persons.

Jess pines for the love and affection his parents show on his three sisters. It is heightened when he notices how Leslie’s parents bond with each other and with Leslie and warm with Jess too, his longing increases. Only Leslie’s sudden death is pivotal to a lot of things in the movie. For one, Leslie finds his parents’ affection and sympathy at last, he substitutes his kid sister as his companion in his fantastic imaginations. And the audiences who overly and unjustifiably expected fantasies to happen at every frame of the movie and were slightly peeved, are hit as if with a hammer by the pathos of Leslie’s deat. I am sure there was not a soul in the audience, even the dumbest of them, would have been moved to tears or at least a lump in the throat for even the most stony-hearted. It was the most satisfying moment in the movie, and you come out of the movie hall with a heavy heart, and also fantasizing a little yourself when Jess and his kid sister are welcomed into Terabithia by all the magic denizens.

I went to the movie with my family with high expectations and returned fully satisfied. Never for a moment I lost interest in the movie nor did I doze off momentarily now and then like I used to when going to movies these days.

The time now here is 11.30 p.m. on Sunday, February the 18th.

Mass Weddings and Group Marriages

February 16, 2007 at 10:46 am | Posted in Mass weddings | Leave a comment

Group marriage is a dubious term. refer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_marriage. Mass Weddings is nearer to what I propose to talk about. Churches, Hindu religious and philanthropic organisations and Muslim Social Workers and Mosque bodies sometimes conduct mass weddings of couples uniting each couple in holy matrimony according to the respective religious rites and rituals and customs. Some radical social groups also conduct mass weddings and cross culture and cross caste and cross religious matrimonial alliances. I am not writing a researched piece here. I am just writing subjectively because I was also instrumental in my small secretarial way in the conduct of mass weddings.

I will now be more specific to my involvement in the wedding projects of mass weddings conducted by two Social and religious organisations. Around 1980 I started serving as Personal Assistant with an honorary social worker and socialite, a lady who was already in her gradious, dignified, mellow seventies. The wedding projects had already been initiated about a year before I took up this job. A group of like minded philanthropists from all walks of life had come together to form two Social Work organisations. There were industrialists, educationists, Army Officers (retired), Police Officers (retired), lawyers, doctors, as members and office bearers of this organisations. Among the patrons of the organisations were a real Nawab who is equivalent to an M.P. in protocol, a retired U.N.O. high official, a Vice Chancellor of a University, one or two former M.P.s also tossed in. There were members from both the sexes. The two organisations had their separate Chairman or President, Secretaries and Treasurers, and sub-committee Chairmen. The whole show was directed in the capacity of Executive Patron, by Mrs. Osman Ali Khan. The revered lady herself belongs to the family of a leading group of industries headed by her husband. She is generously endowed with sons and grandchildren. Though she was active and honorary office bearer in over 50 to 100 different social and other organisations, she was active in just a few of them and directed all her energies for the mass wedding projects.

The projects worked in the following manner. Social Aid Charitable Trust conducted annually the mass weddings of 10 couples each of Christians, Muslims and Hindus,  30 couples in all. Islamic Cultural Trust conducted the mass weddings of 30 Muslim couples every year. The two projects timed the dates of the weddings in a way that when one project is completed for the year the other was initiated, never overlapping the dates.

When the previous year’s project is completed and the accounts audited and approved by a Chartered Account, the committee members convened for the first meeting of the next year’s project. The audited statements were approved, wedding applications were distributed to the members to be passed on to prospective couples. The committee did not undertake matchfixing of the couples which was left to their respective families to finalise. Only very poor girls whose parents could not afford the wedding expenses leave alone procuring the essential articles and utilities they require to set up a modest home, can apply for the wedding when they are already betrothed and are in need of assstance to conduct the wedding. Hence the bridegroom is supposed to earn enough to take care of his core family of wife and parents and the eventual children. When the members give a feedback about the availability of prospective couples, when we have a few couples available, the first interview meeting is held.

The Wedding Interview Sub-committee members sit and interview the prospective couples present. The groom is expected to be over 21 and the bride over 18. They are expected be accompanied by parents or guardians at the interview. Only the couples are interviewed and parents are expected to corroborate with their wards’ responses. Intercaste or inter communal or inter religious alliances are not encouraged as a policy though I cannot vouch for surreptitious conversions because we don’t know. It is made sure that the previous years’ married couples under the project do not get selected and married off once again giving them an edge over the others.

Once the filtering is over and the couples are selected, they are given the choice of choosing a bicycle or a sewing machine among the other common gift items to be presented to them. Those opting for sewing machines, the girls are sent for training in tailoring in the Associations’ own tailoring institute, bus fares being provided for conveyance from their homes to the institute. The interview process is repeated on subseqent occasions as and when sufficient number of other applicants are ready, bringing the total to an exact thirty couples to be married. They all have to wait patiently with their chastity belts firmly in place till the common wedding date is announced. Normally the wait will be a couples of months at least.

In the meanwhile efforts are on to collect cash and gift articles in kind as donations from the regular roll of donors and appeals are distributed through association members to bring in donations from other new sources. The donations also start coming in, from individuals, organisations, and even a foreign contribution rarely. The spectrum of donors is really colourful, from all walks of life transcending religion and caste.

The distinctive feature of gift articles distributed to the couples is that they are specific to respective religions, like Quran for Muslims, Bible for Chriostians and Gita for Hindus. The other gifts are a one gram gold tali for the bride, silver anklets and toerings, cosmetic jewels, mats and pillows, kitchen utensils, bicycle for the groom or sewing machine for the bride, woolen blankets, dhoties, sarees and blouses, shirts, combs, mirrors, toilet items like soap, talcum powder, lunghis, kerchiefs, ladies undergarments, and what not for setting up a modest home on their own. They even include rice, dal, sugar, oil, etc.,

When all the selections are complete, donations and gifts collected, then the committee deliberates a date and fixes a chief guest for the wedding, the venue for the wedding, the religious arrangements likeHafiz to conduct Muslim weddings and Pandit to conduct Hindu marriages. The protestant and Catholic committee members take care of conducting the weddings of the flock from their respective churches to be solemnised in a the churches.

The wedding day is a gala affair. Each couple is expected to bring four elders from their respective families, which includes a witness in case of the Muslim couples, for all of whom lunch and dinner is provided by the committee with the largesse from philanthropists. As a rule children are barred from attending, not the children of the wedding couples of course! The weddings will be over before noon at the latest, and the couple eat their lunch and then the brides get ready for simple make up for the Reception in the evening to be presided over by the Chief Guest. Appropriate music, either recorded or real like the Nadaswaram for the Hindu wedding, is provided in the background.

The Reception Hall is made up brightly and beatuifully and colourfully with festoons and decorations. The thirty sets of gift sets are displayed in proper order around the hall, with the names of couples tagged to each. Towards the evening it is all abuzz with activity, and the signatures of all couples obtained by the Hafiz conducting their weddings in separate Nikahnamas, and the couple also sign separate lists for having received the costly gifts.

Before the Chief Guest arrives the couples are seated in a row on the platform. The invitees start arriving in time before the arrival of the Chief Guest and the meeting starts with a prayer. After the Chief Guest delivers his address and benediction to the couples, other speakers also deliver their speech shortly, and three couples respresentative of the three religions are ceremoniously handed over the gift articles. The whole proceeding is recorded on video and still photographs for records.

When the Chief Guest and others complete greeting all the couples, they adjourn for refreshments and disperse. In the meantime, the couples are called one by one, handed over their gift articles and food packets and seen off, they having made their own arrangements to transport the gifts and themselves. Usually the whole function is over before it is too late for the couples to return to their homes, and thus the function comes to an end.

The Committee and wellwishers sit for their dinner along with the Chief Guest and other invited guests, take leave of each other and wend their way home.

These couples are called for a review when the next year’s project is afoot, to enquire about their wellbeing.

Over a thousand couples have benefitted by the two projects. Many other organisations in other regions of Tamil Nadu and even in Andhra Pradesh, and even individual philanthropists have emulated this noble example and condcuted mass weddings according to their capacity making poor people happy and settled in matrimonial bliss.

I have retired from my service with these organisations over six years ago and I am not in touch with them anymore because of my personal loss of my wife, and I have now settled to a sedanary life taking care of housekeeping for my son and daughter in law. Neither had I been in touch with them nor had I heard about them after leaving Chennai. Theirs was a creditable service and it was my good fortune to have been associated with the projects in my own small insignificant way.

APPRECIATING INDIAN MUSIC

February 14, 2007 at 11:44 am | Posted in Carnatic Music Krithi Audio Archive | 1 Comment

I am a lay fan of Music, Western and Indian Classic  Genre.  I cannot even distinguish Ragas, nor have I learnt Music of any sort from any school or master, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it.  Music is a Godsend for humanity, who are supposed to have the sixth sense, the discerning capacity.  Music elevates to a higher level of experience, both physical and esoteric.  I listen to Western Classical music from the free downloads from Music Archives  website on the internet.  I do have a few audio tapes of classical Western and of music bands. of the Indian and western varieties.  Today I thought I shall refer you to a few websites that tell you about music appreciation and its finer aspects to the best of my capabilities.  I was browsing  Ravishankar.org:

http://www.ravishankar.org/indian_music.html

I found the following web page on the internet, about the music thrapy as listed by the Tamil Movie music maestro Ilayaraja:

http://www.geocities.com/ilaiyaragam/musictherapy.htm.  This site also lists the songs set to Carnatic classical Ragas, composed by him for the movies for which he has set the music and the background scores.

The following is a scholarly presentation by  Silvia Nakkach to be found in the undermentioned website, which gives an exhaustive “into the core of music healing, ancient and new perspectives in musical perception”:

http://www.voxmundiproject.com/recommended_readings_1.htm.  It is a recommended reading of a chapter from Music in Human adaptation (Book) 1997 edited by Dr. Daniel and Judy Schneck, with an opening quoation from Roland Stechel.  This is too exhaustive even to give a synopsis and it is suggested that you open this web page to read it first hand.

I found an article under the heading, “Indian Classical Music – An Appreciation” by Chaitanya L. Koppikar on the following website:

http://www.nirmalbhakti.com/classicmusic.htm.

I will conclude this Post with guiding you to a link on the web, which is exhaustive, downloadable,  has notations,  Carnatic Music Audio Class, and streaming audio of the full Keerthanas in Ragas in alphabetical order.  The author of this website is Mr. Shivkumar Kalyanaraman, an IITian of the Madras cadre, a few years senior batch to my own son, with an highly enviable All India ranking of No.3, and a Full Time Professor.  This is an awesome treasure house for all Carnatic Music Lovers.  Now I have the satisfaction of having ended this Post on a high note.  Please go to the following website to browse and enjoy online:

http://www.ecse.rpi.edu/Homepages/shivkuma/personal/music/index.html.  This is the Carnatic Music Krithi Audio Archive I am referring to.

Mrs. Doubtfire (English) & Avvai Shanmukhi (Tamil)

February 13, 2007 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I never tired of watching the movie Mrs. Doubtfire starring Robin Williams, one of the veterans of English Movies, whose other movie Bicentennial Man is another memorable one.  I was watching this movie today and enjoying every moment of it.  Invariably while watching this movie everytime, I am reminded of the Tamil Movie Avvai Shanmukhi starring Kamal Hassan, one of the most versatile movie personalities of the Tamil Moviedom, who has also made a few remakes of his movies in Hindi too and found wide audience there.

Though both these movies deal with estranged life partners, the father’s affection and devotion for his children, and his cameraderie as a woman housekeeper to take care of the children and be near them.   Mr. Kamal Hassan has acquitted himself so creditably what with the services of a make up expert from the West, adapting the story to the Tamil tastes, and with total commercialism in his approach, acting  superbly and convincingly, that the movie stands on its own merits despite the fact that the central idea is borrowed.  Though the Tamil movie abounds with all the usual frills avidly expected by the target audience, yet you see the special stamp of Kamal Hassan.

I would like to linger on the career of Kamal Hassan in a little more detail.

“Kamal Haasan was born on 7th November 1954. In 1960 he starred as a child artist in ‘Kalathoor Kannammaa’, his first movie. Ever since, he has starred in more than 150 movies, in almost all the major Indian languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. His trajectory in the Indian film industry is one prototypical journey, where he started as a child artist, then continued as a romantic hero, and finally evolved into one of the best actors India has ever produced. As most of his movies are in Tamil, he might not have numbers like Amitabh Bachan or the recent stars like Shah Rukh Khan, but very few actors have given such a wide array of versatile performances over the last two decades like Kamal. He had to occasionally work through the commercial roles and trashy movies to finance the movies he wanted to produce with his heart – but the movies that resulted out of his artistic potential – they were in a class apart. 16 Vayadhinilae, Nayakan, Guna, Mahanadhi, Hey Ram and Alavandaan are some of the must-watch among his movies. Had he been a star in Hollywood, he would now be effortlessly rubbing shoulders with extremely talented actors like Jack Nicholson of yesteryears and Tom Hanks of the present day.”

His innovative acting has earned him the title “the first, and perhaps the last, complete hero in Indian Cinema”

“Kamal’s hobby is magic

On April 27 2002 Kamala Haasan was detained at Toronto airport and denied boarding his flight to L.A. because he had an Arab name/look and was considered a potential terrorist.

Is the only actor to have earned a Best Actor in a Leading Role award and a Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination for the same movie (Saagar (1985)) at Filmfare Awards.

Is a very very strong fan of Ilayaraja and always ropes him as the composer for all his home productions

Has two daughters, Shruti K. Haasan and Akshara.

Gets his wife/girlfriend to do costumes for his films

Three movies that he has starred in have been sent to represent India in Oscars for Best foreign movie category, highest by any Indian.

Trained in the classical Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam.

Has acted in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi films.”

The above mentioned paragraphs in inverted commas are copied and pasted from IMDB.

He has acted in lead roles in over 140 movies, has produced 14 movies, scripted 12 movies,  as miscellaneous crew in 11 eleven movies,  directed three movies (statistics from IMDB).

You must know fluent Tamil to appreciate his nuances and subtle humour.  In dubbing most of these subtleties will not be lost.  His movie “Anbe Sivam” is a classic example.  You need a more than average intelligence to critically appreciate the finesse of this movie and  it must have  gone overboard for the common man.

 

 

Retirement has whetted my appetite

February 12, 2007 at 10:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Retirement has brought me a lot of benefits beyond my merit. I have only looked at PCs while in service and I was really scared even to go near one; like the telephone whose rings used to startle me when I had a phone near me in the beginning. But when we acquired our own PC exclusively for our use, it used to be my domain when my son and daughter-in-law leafe for their workspots. in the beginning I simply freaked out generally browsing, and when I was initiated into the simple operations and controls, it opened a great vista of knowledge for me, though I must confess I haven’t become a great intellect with its use.

One thing in which I became an expert was in collecting my fvourites which have grown beyond 1,500 number of sites, at a modest count; over a hundred files most of them containing 50 or more sites on an average. Again the analogy of an ostrich gobbling up bright objects compares with this activity, because I have spent most time, only saving to favourites and finding new ones to save, distributing my time chatting on Messenger, browsing my webmails, listening to music, and darting now and then to my TV, making my coffees at least a half dozen times, warming up my lunch and having it, downloading movies and watching them, listening to online music, online radio, browsing paintings and photographs, scanning an occasional travel essays, writing my Posts for my blog, browsing other Blogs, etc. I usually squeeze in my morning prayers and a few minutes of communion in our Puja room, seeking blessings from my parents from their photographs, and locking eyes with my wife’s photo and seeking her approval for my activities and condonements for my transgressions.

One of my most favourite saved files contain Recipes online, and also the sites saved under the file name of Cooking. My wife’s long convalescence and hospitalisation have given me occasions to take care of the kitchen for a few months. I have not become a great cook, not even a moderate cook, but I have learnt making a few breakfast varieties, prepare rice and sambar and some curries. Most of all, I have almost perfected the art of cutting vegetables with a handy serrated knife which has become my most favourite kitchen utility.

Though most of the Recipe websites are familiar to web-surfers, I feel I must share some of my finds with others.

http://www.nandyala.org/mahanandi/. This is one of my most precious finds on the net. Though this site links to a lot more Recipe sites, most of which ought to be as good as this, I never tire of this find because of its highly graphic presentation, and the very warm way these recipes are presented therein.

http://www.hemant-trivedis-cookery-corner.com/. This site belongs to Mr. Hemant Trivedi. You should read his “About Me” to learn the warm type of a person he is and his love for cooking and his broad-mindedness in sharing his culinery expertise with one and all. Just by looking at the person in the photograph binds you warmly to him and his recipes are time tested blend of his vast experience. He is no ordinary person, he has travelled widely, gaining first hand knowledge from the world at large and his family upbringing at the core. I have experimented some of his recipes in my own small way.

http://www.tarladalal.com/. The lady is the best selling cookery author. This is one of the earliest cookery sites I came across because I had been subscribing to their newsletter.

Another great name in the South Indian Recipes Scene is Mrs. Mallika Badrinath. Though I could not find her own website nor her Blog Posts on the web, there is ample mention about her if you search for her on the net. She is widely known in Tamil Nadu and also presents her cooking show every week on some Tamil TV channel.

http://www.ammas.com/ar/home.cfm?r=b_arec&topicid=2. This is another great source of South Indian Recipes. Apart from their own recipes, there are a lot of contributed recipes, and other services too on this website.

When you learn about cooking and recipes you must also know the names of vegetables, grains and pulses as well as fruits and nuts in various tongues. The internet is so handy for all these searches.

One side effect of the internet on me is that I have been weaned out of reading from the print media, with the exception of the daily newspaper. So much so, I have sacrificed all my collected books at the altar of the internet. Though on a long rail journey a book is a very handy companion, be it a periodical, novel or a book of crosswords.

Though I am a loner all my life, I think I can get along with people a lot more easily these days in my September years, all because of the introspection at leisure these days. I had very few friends throughout my life and books have been my companions and how wise and instructive and non-intrusive they were. The microchip will rule the world but the printed media will never disappear from the face of the earth.

Here is an add on to my list of recipe websites

http://isouthpotpourri.blogspot.com/.  I feel this is a good weblink.  I will keep updating on this post as and when I find good tips.

Grave of the Fireflies

February 10, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This is the title of an animation movie as well as a biography of a man who lost his sister due to starvation and the privations as a result of war.  I have not read the biography but I watched the animation this afternoon.  It is a really poignant story of a boy and his kid sister, and the story is placed at the time when Japan was defeated towards the end of the Second World War.  It is a deeply moving story told very well, a story told from the view point of those two children, without elaborating on the war or its devastation.  It is also a very depressing and disturbing story.  This is not a critical appreciation of the story, but about its moral lesson.  I searched for more information on the net by searching in Google on “Grave of the Fireflies”, and it opened a fund of information for me to browse.  The characterisation of the two children are perfect, and I doubt if any other director can portray a small gir-child’s nature as well as in this movie.  The way the child’s death is  shown in painful and heartwringing detail, reminds me of a short story by Jack London, where he picturises the slow death of a man trappen in an icy expanse.

When you watch this movie, you wonder why for some people life is not a spinning wheel bringing happiness and misery in repetitive circles, but it is a one way ticket of suffering and more suffering till death intervenes.  When you watch the movie you vibe with the suffering humanity, and not a proud nation brought to heel and made to eat humble pie.  You experience the separation from parents when the mother dies in bombing and the father away in the  Navy on the high seas, the neglect, loneliness suffered by the children, the affection and love needed by them most, the stray kindness from strangers when the police official rescues the boy from further persecution, the agony of the boy when he witnesses the slow sinking of his kid sister into death due to sickness, disease and malnutrition, and the forlornness when the boy himself dies and is abhorred by passers-by, and we experience the final ecstacy when the two are united  in a joyful reunion in the hereafter.

The children could have lived on had he swallowed his humiliation and gone back to the shelter of unmindful kin and apologised and tried to find  work and wages.  The children were too sensitive and preferred a fate of their own choice.  The news that their proud  nation  had lost the war and their father was in his watery grave, was the last straw  and the final blow.

If you get to lay your hands on this animation, don’t miss the opportunity.

You don’t need to understand Russian to listen to music

February 8, 2007 at 8:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I was searching for Russian Folk Music. Audio, on the internet  and a search page opened and the very first listed was a good find.  I found the website:  Russia-in-us.com/music.  I opened the “Collection of  Russian Music contributed by our Readers” and then I clicked on “Nostalgic  Music Collection by Gregory Ofman”, and then I went to the “Great Songs from the Soviet Past”, and what a great vista of Russian songs it opened for me to listen to.  I have saved these to my Audio Favourites.

Internet is a great treasure house of information, written, oral and visual.  I am just now listening to a song from the Movie, Love Story rendered in Russian and I like it immensely.  It is a great educator, as well as corrupter.  Like they the beauty is in the eyes of the discerner.  If you go after good things, you will be satisfied.  If you go astray, then you will first be satiated and then engulfed and drowned.

Once I was downloading a movie with a familiar title which I had already seen on the Television.  When it was completed  i opened to play the movie and found it was hardporn.  As I have no need for any stimulus and as I am already in my sixties having lived a full life, I promptly deleted the file without seeing the trash.  You see, sex and romance are beautiful things but pornography is gross, a thing to be abhorred.  It is  abasement of womanhood and its sanctity.  

I browse a lot of paintings, listen to a lot of internet audio, read a lot of online topical essays, play an occasional  solitaire, do a crossword online now and then, send and receive mails, chat and do that kind of thing with my computer and internet. 

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