Book Review: Buddha  

Posted by Ray in

This is a great book in which Deepak Chopra gives a vivid description of how one Siddhartha became Buddha. It starts from the point where Queen Maya gives birth to Siddhartha and Chopra takes us through the incidents that dot Siddhartha's life that eventually transform him into Buddha. As the title of the book goes, it talks about how Buddha achieved enlightenment. A must read if you are in to philosophy and religious reading.

ஸ்ரீ வெங்கடேச சுப்ரபாதம்  

Posted by Ray in

I don't think I'm going too far by saying that Sri Venkatesa Suprabatham is probably the only song in India that got its identity by the singer and not by the author/ composer. (Another one that comes close is கந்த சஷ்டி கவசம் by Soolamangalam Sisters )I know people who only accept Smt. MS Subbulakshmi's rendition of the Suprabatham.

Though I never understood the meaning of Sri Venkatesa Suprabatham, I understood it better when I heard the Tamil version. One Dr. Parthasarathy has provided both the translation and transliteration. Once you know the meaning, I'm sure you will appreciate it more. Smt. Subbulakshmi renders the tamil version with a divine voice. To read both the translation and transliteration click here.

It has been more than 40 years since Smt. MS Subbulakshmi sang in the United Nations. A very good article can be read here. A remix version of Suprabatham has sprung up on the internet. Though it is nice to hear, there is no divinity in the music.

Doordarshan Time Machine  

Posted by Ray in

Just some classic ads that we had on Doordarshan.
यह जमीन यह आसमान !

कुछ ख़ास है

Taste of India

And finally this one:

Shop @ allthingsblabbered via Amazon and save time and money.

Introducing Shop @ allthingsblabbered  

Posted by Ray

At the new shop@allthingsblabbered (brought to you by Amazon), I'm listing all the books that I've read in the past few months. I will be updating the shop and will add the link to the shop in all my future blog posts. All the books/ DVDs that are listed are mouse-picked by me and I'm sure you will enjoy them.

If you would like to suggest any book that you have read for the shop, please get in touch with me. I will be very happy to list your suggestion. Any sales commission for that particular product will goto a charity of your choice.

100% of all the sales commission from Amazon will go to charity(either CRY or ASPCA).

Shop @ allthingsblabbered via Amazon and save time and money.

The Invisible Tsunami  

Posted by Ray in

None can forget what happened on December 26, 2004. The Indian Ocean Tsunami stuck the coastal towns in Tamilnadu. Cuddalore, my hometown, was badly hit. But there is another tsunami that is hitting Cuddalore everyday. This one is invisible and is having a much severe effect on the lives of thousands of Cuddaloreans.

Cuddalore has recently earned the dubious distinction of being one of the many global toxic hotspots. The stench that emanates from the various industries in the SIPCOT stretch of Cuddalore is unbearable. The chemical plants release untreated water in to the nearby water bodies thereby completely altering the chemical composition of water. A large amount of untreated sewage is released in to the Bay of Bengal.

A recent report from the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute states that, “People living in and around a special economic zone in Cuddalore are “2,000 times more” likely to be affected by cancer than the normal population”. Now this is something that cannot be taken lightly. A few alarming statistics in the report are:

  • Levels of Benzene - a chemical that causes blood cancer among children - were 125 times higher than safe levels.
  • Carcinogens like chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, methylene chloride and trichloroethylene were 881, 553, 32.5 and 21.8 times respectively higher than acceptable levels.
These numbers are very disturbing not to mention the fact that the NEERI states that the results are a “conservative estimate” as “most of the industries are not operating to capacity on days of sampling”.

Just a little bit of googling will tell you how harmful these chemicals are.
  • Eating foods or drinking beverages containing high levels of benzene can cause the following symptoms within minutes to several hours: Vomiting, Irritation of the stomach, Dizziness, Sleepiness, Convulsions, Rapid or irregular heartbeat, Death (at very high levels) (Source: CDC).
  • Exposure to Chloroform may cause liver cancer.
  • Carbon tetrachloride may cause liver and kidney malfunction and in some cases even death.
  • Methylene chloride is known to cause lung, liver and pancreatic cancer.
  • Trichloroethylene is carcinogenic as well.
The TNPCB has decided to turn a blind eye to this issue. The reasoning behind not doing anything about this problem is that the area is already 'spoiled' and hence more industries are being opened in Cuddalore. On one hand, these new industries will bring job opportunities, but at the same time if left un-checked they might very well add more chemicals to the toxic-pool called Cuddalore.

You can help by signing this online petition.

Book Review: Water for Elephants  

Posted by Ray in ,

This is one of the books that you cannot put down until you finish it. The story is set in the 1920s and takes place in and around a circus train. A 'soon to be' vet doctor drops out of his school after his parents' death and jumps on to a circus train. The train journey, the people and the animals on the train shape the rest of his life.

The author has done quite a bit of research about the old circus 'culture'. (She even spent time with a couple of elephants in two different zoos).

The language is easy to understand and the story is gripping. The ending is pretty good with a 'feel-good' factor. For me it is one of the best 'story' books that I have ever read.

The Greatest Moment in Indian Sports  

Posted by Ray

Connecticut K-9 Olympics  

Posted by Ray in

While the entire world is assembled in Beijing for the Olympics, half way around the world and in my own backyard, an Olympics of a different kind was held. The Connecticut Police K-9 Olympics was held at the UConn Campus yesterday. About 39 teams (dog + K9 officer) from all over Connecticut participated. Almost all the dogs were German shepherds. The teams were graded on several areas like tactical obedience, criminal apprehension etc.
It was amazing to see what Man's best friend could do. In the 'criminal apprehension' event, a police officer, who acts as a 'bad guy' shoots in the air twice while the dog is looking. Two cars are parked facing each other and are parked in between the 'bad guy' officer and the K-9 team. So the dog has to jump over the car to get to the 'bad guy' officer. The 'bad guy' officer has a thick pad around his left arm, which the dogs hold on to when the reach the officer. (as shown in the foto)
We also met a sweet Golden Retriever named Cricket. She was a sweet dog who seemed to like us :)

One World. One Dream  

Posted by Ray in

It was a grand night for one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The Chinese showed the world the new China. It was truly China's coming out party. They drummed to the entire world what they are made of. The night started off with the countdown by the drummers. From the plasma membrane on the roof of the stadium to the rolling LED screens on the floor, it was all grandeur. The arrangement of the children from 56 different ethnic groups handing over the Chinese flag to the soldiers and the soldiers raising the flag - it gave me goosebumps. Every minute of the Opening ceremony was breath-taking. It was directed by Zhang Yimou (The director of The House of Flying Daggers) .

The only sore point was the commentary by the NBC team. (On Day 1, they said things like "... the American pair from the United States...."). I wish they speak less in the coming days.

The parade of the athletic teams was also great. As Yao Ming walked in with the Chinese flag, the whole stadium was up in it's feet and it was a moment to cherish for all the 600+ athletes who have been waiting for this time since 2001, when Beijing was awarded the Summer Olympics of 2008. It was nice to see the Indian contingent, but the size was dispropotinately small to the population. Hopefully in the coming years India invests more in Sports infrastructure.

Perhaps, the only blemish of the entire Opening Ceremony was someone had given the 9 year old kid a Chinese flag that was tied upside-down in the small stick. Perhaps it symbolized that the Sichuan Earthquake had turned the country upside-down.

I only wish that the Olympics will be held in India - sometime during our time here on Planet Earth.