Archive for April, 2009

Love for dogs

Posted: April 29, 2009 in social issues
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When I went to my cousin’s house last week, her sons had to tell me a complaint against their mom. The boys had got a lab pup and mom had allowed it to stay with them even for a day. Morning it came and when they reached home in the evening they found the pup missing. Not that somebody had stolen it, but my cousin had sent it back with the person who had given it to the boys. My mom said desperately: “You could have given it to us.” I wondered how a dog can change our way of thinking and lifestyle.
Yeah, I remember the day when I and my brother had brought a pomeranian pup when we were in school and my mom had sent it back to my uncle’s house. It had stayed with us only for a night. When people were around, it used to be quiet and playful and cried the whole night when we slept and the whole family didn’t sleep that night and in the morning my mom said that she doesn’t allow the pup to stay with us. Times, have changed since then.
We got a dog when I went to Class 9 and since then, we have dogs at home and we love them and treat them like our family members. Doggy was the first dog member, a country street dog, who entered our family and our hearts. Then came, Nimmu, a lab and German Shepherd cross, who was like my daughter till she passed away last year, after staying with us for 12 years. In between came Dinku, a naughty and cute lab, who stayed with us for only 2 months. Even my mom cried when he passed away and it took 2-3 days to convince Nimmu that Dinku was no more. It hurt us to see Nimmu searching for her little playmate around the house. Dinku’s death had coincided with my KPSC results. I had not made through the exams, I cried a lot in the class when I came to know about the death of Dinku and my students thought that I was inconsolable because I had failed in the exam! I couldn’t muster strength to go home and see him. Last year, another black lab entered our family and my mom insisted that he should be called Dinku. Now, only Dinku remains, he loves everybody, especially my mom. Both share a strong bonding and love each other a lot.
Taking care of a dog like a family member is not easy. We can’t go anywhere and someone has to stay back and my mom has done that for years. We bring dogs, but she sacrifices her outings and stays back for them.
I was not surprised when she said that she would have taken care of the dog if my cousin had given it to us. No one addresses our dogs as dogs in our family, we call them by names and he or she. My mom has been grandma, my Dad grandpa, me mom and my brother uncle to them. They are like kids to us and we treat them like that.
Sometimes, I wonder how people abandon their dogs when they become old or sick. Pets are like our own children. When we stand for our children when he or she makes a mistake, can’t the same rule apply to pets? If we decide to bring a dog into the family, we are bound to take lifelong responsibility of the animal. And those owning pets should stand up for their animals when faced with a choice to dispose of the animal.
It hurts to see dogs fully-grown, that have served as loyal companions to their masters for years together, abandoned on streets.
I would love to have dogs around and I want my children to grow up around dogs and be sensible and passionate towards them.
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Television is rightly called as idiot box, not that it is idiot, but makes us idiots. How many times I and Vij have fought over the TV remote control? He wants to watch cricket match and I some serial or movie. When he wants to watch Malayalam movie, I insist on Tamil, Kannada or Hindi. Like us several people might be fighting for that tiny instrument to watch their favourite programmes. Amir Khan’s ad on Tata Sky make it more obvious.

I didn’t find it strange when I read that a Taiwanese killed his mother over a TV remote control.

Su Peng-sheng, 43, was watching television at home  in Nantou City near Taipei on Saturday with his mother, Hsiao Ching-chou, 64. While he wanted to watch a documentary, his mother insisted on watching the news.

In the quarrel, Su’s mother grabbed a wooden stick to hit him. Su pushed his mother, causing her head first to hit the wall and then the corner of a table. He then rushed his unconscious, bleeding mother to a hospital, where she died on Monday Su was charged with homicide which carries a minimum of two-year jail term.

When women in India become mute spectators, seeing their husbands rape their daughters, here comes a woman who gives men a befitting answer. Is there is a lesson for Indian moms to learn from Maria da Silva, who severed her Brazilian boyfriend’s penis for raping her daughter?

The daring lady cut off the penis of Isaias Saturnino, 42, when he was sleeping at his home in northeastern Brazil, with a kitchen knife.

Saturnino, underwent a reconstructive surgery and is reportedly in a good condition, but will stay for at least two months in hospital for observation.

Silva’s teenaged daughter accused Saturnino of raping her starting at age seven, which made her to take the extreme step.

Artist giving life to wood

Posted: April 26, 2009 in others
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Just couldn’t help saying wow after seeing these pics of an artist giving life to a dead log…

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Today, Charan sent a mail on mobile phone and said feel free to try and pass on. There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:

Emergency
The Emergency Number worldwide for  Mobile  is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

Have you locked your keys in the car?
Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their mobile phone from your cell phone.
Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to
drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other ‘remote’ for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

Hidden battery power
Imagine your mobile battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370# Your mobile will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your mobile next time.

How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
To check your Mobile phone’s serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #
A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

ATM – PIN number reversal
If you should ever be forced by a robber to withdraw money from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your PIN # in reverse. For example, if your pin number is 1234, then you would put in 4321. The ATM system recognizes that your PIN number is backwards from the ATM card you placed in the machine. The machine will still give you the money you requested, but unknown to the robber, the police will be immediately dispatched to the location. This information was recently broadcast on CTV by Crime Stoppers however it is seldom used because people just don’t know about it.

It is unfortunate that the poverty-stricken father of Slumdog Millionaire child actor Rubina Ali planned to become a millionaire by selling his nine-year-old daughter. Rafiq Qureshi had put Rubina up for an adoption, demanding £200,000. He offered the shocking deal to the News of the World’s undercover fake sheik: “I have to consider what’s best for me, my family and Rubina’s future.” He also tried to blame Hollywood bosses for forcing him to put his daughter up for sale and declared: “We’ve got nothing out of this film.”

Rubina with dad Rafiq

Rubina with dad Rafiq

Rafiq clever and knows that his daughter’s success will be soon forgotten and her moment of fame will be over. A Middle East family was moved to tears by the plight of young orphans shown in the film and fell in love with Rubina. They reportedly wanted to adopt children from poor areas and give them a better life. They agreed to come to Mumbai to discuss the adoption of Rubina in May.

The approach by reporters in the guise of sheikhs made Rafiq very greedy and he said that he will consider the highest offer for his child.

Rafiq’s brother-in-law Rajan More told reporters in the guise: “Obviously if you wanted to adopt we could discuss this, but her parents would also expect some proper compensation in return. We are talking of around £50,000 for this to happen.”

In another phone call, Rafiq coolly confirmed: “Whatever you have discussed with Rajan, I agree with. Whatever money is agreed by Rajan, I will accept.”

Poverty haunts India and spares none, especially those who live in slums. Trafficking of poor Indian children to the Middle East, where they are forced to risk their lives as camel jockeys or subjected to sexual abuse, is common in the Mumbai slums. But that did not deter Rafiq. Rubina told reporters in the guise of wealthy people: “I like being famous. Everyone where I live knows me and likes me now. Some people who I don’t even know shout my name wherever I go — ‘Rubina, Rubina’!”

Rubina was completely unaware she was put for sale by the men she trusted, those who should love and protect her.

Rajan even said that no deal could go ahead for a few weeks because the family have been promised a house by the Indian government. If Rubina went abroad they would lose the house. The governing Indian Congress president Sonia Gandhi has vowed to help them find a home.

It is unfortunate but a fact that buying a child in India is almost as easy as buying vegetables and fruits. These  children often end up as child labourers or even prostitutes. It is easy to condemn parents willing to sell their kids but have we ever thought about the circumstances pushing them to sell their children?

I felt very sad for the parents who lost their daughter in New Delhi. Shano, 11, was allegedly punished by her teacher to bend down like a chicken in scorching sun. The teacher didn’t care even when the girl’s nose bled profusely and she fainted. The girl was admitted to Mahrishi Balmiki Hospital and she slipped into coma. After battling for two days in the intensive care unit, she breathed her last today.

My parents still remember that I was punished in the school for going late and was made to stand in the scorching sun for half a day. I had told my parents a lie that my legs were paining as I had participated in a running race at the school. Poor things, they had believed my words and taken me to a doctor and later came to know about the truth. Yeah, punishment was very severe during our school days. We were beaten by our teachers, and they didn’t even care if hurt us and what impact it had on our young minds.

The other day I was browsing through channels and happened to see a few scenes of Kannada serial Muktha, directed by Seetharam. A cop had come in search of a woman, as she had beaten his sister’s kid black and blue. Worried parent had approached her cop brother to threaten the teacher. Poor teacher, in fact agreed in front of the cop and her family members that she had beaten the kid (though the reason was not told by her in that episode). Moreover, her colleagues and headmaster of the school had also told the cop that the teacher was very short tempered and she regularly beats students and police was free to take any action against her!

We wished that our teachers, especially mathematics teachers, to behave and treat us like humans. They never approached us in a friendly manner, they always created a fear psychosis and we dreaded them. Naturally, once we finished schooling, we felt like free birds, set out of cage to fly in open air… Why don’t teachers treat students like their own children? Why can’t they put their own kids in the place of students before punishing them?

Getting married to a Malayali, I get to celebrate the festivals of Kerala as well. This is my second Vishu, though first one which I’ll be celebrating. Unlike Kannadigas Malayalis have very few big festivals and Vishu is one of them. To put it in simple words, it is their Ugadi, the New Year of Malayalis.

Vishu is free from the usual pomp and show and merry-making associated with other festivities. This one has nothing to do with religion, as the first day for Medam is the unchangeable day of Vishu, whereas other festivals are determined according to the lunar asterisms on which they fall. This day is the astronomical new year day. Malayalis believe that the fortunes for the year depend upon the nature of the object one sees first in the morning of Vishu day. Malayalam month of Medam according to the Kollam calendar usually falls on April 14.

The word ‘Vishu’ in Sanskrit means ‘equal’. Therefore Vishu is more probably denoting one of the equinox days. Although Vishu (first of Medam) is the astronomical new year day of Kerala, the official Malayalam new year falls on the first month of Chingam (August-September).

A reasonably sized Uruli is used to arrange the Kani. Uruli is an open-mouthed shallow circular vessel made out of bell metal. The uruli is made of panchaloham, an aggregate of five metals. Panchaloham being symbolic of the universe, which comprises the five great elements—earth, water, fire, air and space.

In the region of Kollam, Akshatam, a mixture of rice and turmeric, which is divided into halves of husked and un-husked rice, is placed in uruli. While in other parts of Kerala, Unakkalari (raw rice) is the first ingredient that goes into the Kani Uruli to act as a support base for the other items to be positioned.

Placed over that is a fresh white cloth (with golden embroidery), followed by a carefully selected Kanivellari (golden coloured, shapely cucumber), Vettila (betel leaves), Pazhukkapakku (reddish yellow coloured ripe arecanut), golden coloured mango fruit, ripe yellow jack fruit (halved) and a shining brass valkannadi (hand mirror).

A nice, well-starched cloth is then pleated fan-like and inserted into a highly polished brass kindi (a spouted puja vessel used for pouring sacred water). The val-kannadi, a special type of mirror with an extremely long and thin handle, often decorated with gold, is also inserted into the kindi. The kindi is then placed in the uruli on top of the rice.

In many places, Ramayanam or any of the scriptures written on Palm leaves (Thaaliyola) is also added to the auspicious constituents of the Kani arranged in the uruli. After this, a gold coin or gold ornament is placed on top of all. Then a pair of halved coconuts upright, filled with oil along with cotton wicks are kept nearby.

Then in a small flat-bottomed vessel, they keep little rice, a silver coin and some flowers. After the Kanikanal, thinking of a wish, if one takes the coin and check if its top side is head or tail. Depends on this one may know if his/her wish would be realised or not.

Then the Kani Uruli is kept in front of the statue or picture of Lord Krishna (in Northern Kerala, the valkannadi signifies or is the embodiment of Goddess Bhagavathi). Then uruli, picture and the surroundings are decorated with Konnappoovu (Indian Laburnum). A lit Nilavilakku (bronze oil lamp) is placed nearby in such a way as it imparts a golden yellow hue to the Kani-ambience.

Two lamps, which are fashioned from the two halves of a split coconut, are also kept in the uruli. The wicks are made from pieces of starched cloth that are folded into bulbs at the base. These bulbs are placed into the coconut oil that fills the lamps, anchoring the wicks in place. The lighting of the deepam welcomes God into our lives and is also symbolic of spiritual knowledge—the remover of the darkness of ignorance.

Gold, both in colour and in coin, is central to the Vishukkani. Kanikkonna, a golden-yellow flower is used liberally throughout the puja room. This flower only blooms when the sun is in its most exalted position astrologically, the month surrounding Vishu.

In the puja room, the flower verily represents the sun itself, the eyes of Lord Vishnu. Gold coins are symbols of monetary affluence, as well as cultural and spiritual wealth, which the elders of the family must share freely with the younger generation.

The grandmother or mother who arranges the Vishukkani will sleep in the puja room after she is finished and then, waking during the auspicious hour of the Brahma muhurata (4 am to 6 am), she will light the oil-lamp wicks and take in the auspicious sight. She will then walk to the rooms where the rest of the family is sleeping and wake them. Covering their eyes, she will then lead them to the puja room, where she will allow them to take in the auspicious sight.

Upon opening one’s eyes, one is overwhelmed with the glorious darshan of the Lord. The mirror, which is symbolic of Bhagavati (Devi), not only increases the lustre of the Vishukkani via the reflection it offers, but also shows our own face. The mirror also points to the importance of making our mind pure enough to render devotional service with true and unadulterated love to Lord Krishna.

The Vishukkani is not reserved only for those who come to the puja room, but is taken around, for the viewing of the elderly and sick who are too frail to come to the shrine. It is also brought outside and shown to the family cows. As it is brought to the cowshed, it in fact is on display for the birds, the trees, for all of nature to see.

There are also beliefs that if you do not see a proper Vishukani, then you will lose a year from your life or have bad luck, depending on how much you see.

Next, comes the Kaineettam (token amount of money). The eldest member of the family takes some silver coins and gives them to all junior members with some raw rice and Kanippoo (flower of cassia). Vishukkaineettam should be given freely and accepted with reverence. On Vishu, the highly affluent families will not only give money to their children but also their neighbours, perhaps the entire village. After this the children begin to fire crackers.

According to legends, the Kollam era is said to have begun on the day Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, created Kerala by making the waters of the Arabian Sea recede. Parashurama had vowed to exterminate the Kshatriya caste from the face of the earth. In keeping with this oath, he went to war with Rama, who was a Kshatriya. During the battle, he realised that Rama was none other than the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. He realised that the purpose of his own life had come to an end and decided to spend the rest of his life in meditation. For this, he wanted a place where he could meditate in total peace. The gods granted him a boon according to which, he was to throw his battle axe into the sea and land would rise along the distance it covered. This is how Kerala was created.

Vishu is also a day of feasting, wherein the edibles consist of roughly equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include Veppampoorasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazhapachadi (a sour mango soup). Saddhya is a major part of all Kerala festivals. But for Vishu, Vishu Kanji and Thoran are more important. The Kanji is made of rice, coconut milk and spices. For the side dish, that is Thoran also there are mandatory ingredients.

Ayyan

Posted: April 7, 2009 in movie
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I was curious to see Ayyan not just because my friend Usman resembles Surya in every angle, but also because of global popularity it got even before its release. Usually the posters of the world’s top films are displayed at the metro station in New Jersey. For the first time Ayyan achieved this honour, as the film posters were displayed at a metro station in New Jersey.

ayan2The film brings the scenario behind the lives of smuggling groups and their daily activities, besides giving a visual treat with scenes shot in various countries like Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia.

ayan3Pursuing a postgraduate course, Deva (Surya) a typical youth lives with his mother (Renuka) who aspires him to join the government service one day. Instead, he works as a courier for Das (Prabhu), who brings in smuggled articles from abroad to Chennai without getting caught by customs officials. Their rival Kamalesh (Akashdeep Saigal) goes to extremes to defeat them, thus leading to a bloody confrontation as they go for each other’s throats. Meanwhile, Deva falls in love with his friend’s sister Yamuna (Tamanna Bhatia).

ayan4Surya and Tamanna’s romance is funny and enjoyable, giving a comic relief. The car chase and action sequences are excellently shot, especially those done on the streets of Congo. Though storyline sounds familiar, the well-made narration and captivating visuals are the plus points.

ayan52The two touching scenes still haunt me. Drug addicts and peddlers should be made to sit and watch the movie, where Surya’s friend goes under knife to get the drugs removed and loses his life. Smugglers do not show any mercy and cut his belly, in fact his intestine to remove drugs!

ayan6Another scene where Kamalesh seduces his own employee’s daughter by drugging her and the plight of the father after seeing the pictures of the duo.

Surya’s fans will enjoy the movie and the locations are simply superb…

Sri Rama Navami

Posted: April 3, 2009 in Festivals
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According to legends, Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, had three wives — Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Their greatest worry was that they had no heir to the throne. Rishi Vasistha suggested him to perform Puthra Kamesti Yagna, through which he can have a desired child. He also told him to bring Maharshi Rushya Shrunga to perform the yagna for him. King Dasharath goes to Maharshi Rushya Shrunga’s ashram to get him. Maharshi agrees and and performs the yagna. As the result of yagna, Yagneshwar appears and hands Dasharath a bowl of Payasam and asks him to give it to his wives. Dasharath gives half of the payasam to his elder wife Kausalya, and another half to his younger wife Kaikeyi. They both give half of their portions to Sumitra. After few days, all three queens conceive. On the ninth day (Navami) of Chaitra Masa (first month in Hindu calendar), at noon Kaushlya gives birth to Lord Sri Rama, Kaikeyi gives birth to Bharatha, and Sumitra to twin boys, Lakshmana and Shatrughana. This day is celebrated as Sri Rama Navami.

Hindus normally perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) with small idols of Rama and Sita at their houses, and at the end of the day the deity is taken to a procession on the streets. This day also marks the end of the nine-day utsavam called Chaitra Navaratri, celebrated in Maharashtra, or Vasanthothsava,  celebrated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which starts with Ugadi or Gudi Padwa. For the occasion, Hindus fast or restrict themselves to a specific diet. Temples are decorated and readings of the Ramayana take place.