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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

30 August 2003

Replica of Earth? :-)

I know I am a bit late for blogging about Mars. But I couldn’t help sharing this strange notion I have. Did you notice the front-page photo of Mars published in Hindu dated 28th August? Unfortunately, I couldn't find the exact photo on online edition, to give a link. The one they have shown doesn't look like the one I saw on hard copy. Meanwhile, just grab the hard copy from your old paper cupboard :-) and checkout my interpretations:-)

At first glance, it so much looked like Earth. And then when I scrutinized the photo more deeply, observing the black dots and the outline of curves, I began to feel that the Planet REALLY looked like earth. The contours of Indian subcontinent, and slightly on the left, the African continent and a little further left the Americas. And on the right, the rest of Asia – only "Australia" looked out of place – hanging too close below Asia, instead of staying far off down under as in real Earth. And on the ice patch in South Pole didn’t it look Antarctica? I do seem to have wild imagination. My son laughed me off when I painstakingly explained to him all the replica of earth’s contours on Mars. But common, why not allow your imagination a free hand – if we can see maps and faces and animals in passing clouds, we can of course see the Earth in Mars. Who knows, one day somebody might really prove that Mars indeed was like earth eons ago. So, in the event of THAT happening in distant future, let Waves be the first to record such “Facts” (!!) Mars certainly is in my list of exotic places to visit in future – may be several lifetimes later J The other place is Antarctica. Long back I met the team which established the first Indian Station in Antarctica. And now after so many years I had the opportunity to speak to another Indian who keeps visiting the ice continent as easily and as often as we visit our neighborhood picnic spots. Meet in this story, Dr. Anandakrishnan after whose name a glacier in Antarctica is christened.

btw, you must have heard that theroy right? that Antarctica and Southern part of India were in one single land mass thousands of years ago? Looking at Mars photo, I was amused to find a huge land mass just below the "Indian Subcontinent":-)

24 August 2003

Nature's Grand Opera

Have you ever experienced the feeling behind the cliché` “ Light at the end of tunnel”?
If not, take a trip down Konkan Railway. From Mumbai to Mangalore or Trivandrum. When you cross each of the 92 tunnels on the famous Konkan railway track, you will realize the literal meaning of this cliché`.

At least I did. As for the beauuuutiful route, I have just one word to describe the breathtaking scenes enroute. Absolutely mind boggling”. – I can go on and on adding all kinds of superlatives to describe the picturesque scenery – complete with all kinds of greens and colours, waterfalls and brooks and forests. As the train – We took Netravati Express from Mumbai - winds through the curves and valleys, you start waiting for the next scene – in the Nature’s grand Opera. Sure, She doesn’t fail you – You are taken on a spectacular tour, full of surprises of Natural bounties.

Konkan Railways is a public sector undertaking. The administration is different from Indian Railways. So the TTE sports different uniform - a navy blue trousers and a paler blue shirt like an airline uniform. The name boards in stations are in blue too. The KR logo beams down at you everywhere. And the drinking water cooler at Rathnagiri station has a sticker telling you that the water served is “U.V. Treated Bacteria Free water”. ( No. The cola bottles don’t wear a label saying they are pesticide free.:-) )

And an important feature I noticed on the Konkan stations is that most of them have convenient ramps along with the traditional stairs to access the platforms. Surely the organization is more “disabled friendly.” ( hmm… who would know better than my aching knees ? :-) )

For more info on Konkan railway and its historical perspectives, log on to this. And if you are comfortable in Tamil, please do check out another version of this trip in my Tamil blog and for pix - please check out my fotolog. btw, anyone can suggest a free photo log site - which doesn't restrict me to upload only one photo per day? !!

17 August 2003

I would be travelling for the next few days. just want to have an idea of the much talked about "Konkan Railways." so no blogging for a week. ( not that i write everyday... ..:-))

let me come back and tell you what it was like :-)

Happiness Indicator.

A country's economic growth is evaluated by GDP. Fine. But how do you know they are happy too? so a few years back the guys in the developed world started evaluating the "Happiness" index too :-) and in the first such evaluation in 1998, you know who topped the list of countries in Happiness Indicator? No, not the US of A, nor the Scandinavian countries. It is our own small nation in our neighbourhood. Bangladesh!! And India came close too. So, the research proved that there is no co-relation between wealth and happiness!! ( Now, don't tell me that we knew it long ago. .. even from the Vedic Period:-)
Now here is the latest from the research. Shankar had sent a link from economist which made interesting reading. I was really amused to read about how "Pleasure at your own pay rise can vanish when you learn that a colleague has been given a much bigger one."

Human mind, I tell you, is strange indeed :-)

10 August 2003

Pesticides and insecticides found in MNC soft drinks sold in India.

News of the Week.

About the cola controversy – I have a lot to say – both for and against. Sum up: I was very furious at the MNC cola makers. How – dare – they- take- us for a ride… kind of rage. If found guilty, they deserve to be banned. And to think only a few days back “Waves” had discussed at length about insects in cola bottles. Suresh and Mathy had given some alarming inputs on this subject.

At the same vein I also felt why we are making such noise only now – only when CSE comes up with a shocking report? I also want to know if CSE ( centre for Science and Environmet - a NGO based in Delhi) could conduct similar surveys on the quality of all food items sold in so many food courts / restaurants and the wayside trolleys? The level of contamination and unhygienic content in them? The number of flies and mosquitoes on the sweets, show cased in the glass cases of sweet shops? The “gol goppa and pani puri” trolleys making brisk business standing beside a overflowing drainage? – washing the plates several times in soiled water? The unhygienic conditions found in the cooking spots of any wedding or any gathering? The amount of contaminated and poisonous content found in many of the food items sold? The precariously unhygienic conditions at many private and government hospitals – where safety norms are thrown to winds?

If CSE made such a survey and brought out a report, would we have the honesty to react in this same way? But then, we are privilaged as citizens of this country to do as we like. How can we allow outsiders to do this on us? well..?

The bottom line is - business and business alone matters today. No one cares for public health or the general safety norms. But, as I have always said, we need a shock treatment to jolt us out from an inertia now and then. So, according to press reports, we will soon have safety norms for foodstuffs in our country. And the die-hard optimistic in me says that the norms and laws will not be floated by unscrupulous people for their own commercial advantage.

Btw, I went out for a shopping this weekend. Was extremely thirsty. And the soft drink counter was very inviting. For a moment I stopped. And then I walked away. Interestingly I found that the counter was literally empty – no shoppers hanging around, quenching their thirst! Not bad. Long live CSE :-)

06 August 2003

Do writers' affluence change the face of Literature?

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Iyer – the Times of India group economist – thinks so in his Swaminomics column. He has made an interesting observation. He draws a direct correlation between the increasing trend of novels and TV serials revolving around the rich, famous and the business class, and the increasing trend of writers getting rich themselves. Iyer’s news peg for this theory is Vikram Seth’s 1.3 million pounds contract for his new book.

Iyer argues that writers’ affluence has changed the face of literature. While he cites authors like Harold Robinson who weaved their stories around rich businessmen, Iyer compares TV serials like Nukkad and Buniyad telecast on the DD in the late eighties before the advent of the satellite channels ( stories revolving around lower middle class and middle class neighbourhood and families) with the current ones, where the households and the characters reflect affluence where they wear gleaming attires and always looking “party-dressed” even at middle of night.

Well anyone likes to join issue with Iyer? Do writers reflect the reality of the society? Or do they portray the society from their own perception from a high socio economic pedestal? I am curious to explore also.

02 August 2003

"The ultimate luxury is being able to do with as little as possible." Pico Iyer

"Fifteen years ago, I went to Kyoto to live in a Zen temple for a year. When I returned to California, a forest fire destroyed my house and everything in it. The day after, the only thing I had in the world was the toothbrush I’d just bought (and, of course, my memories and friendships and beliefs–all my invisible assets). I’ve always regarded that fire as something of a blessing, both in showing me how perishable and fragile are all material things, and in reminding me that, even with no possessions, I have a life that 98 per cent of the people on the planet would envy."

I have always enjoyed Pico Iyer's writings. One of the few writers, who, I feel, writes straight from the heart. The prose is usually simple, devoid of any phony language. Read his view about money in Outlook Money.