Archive for February, 2006

Help the aged…

February 27, 2006

As part of the voluntary “help the aged and computer/internet-challenged” initiative, amoghavarsha helped one geriatric with the userpic….Thank you, Hungarian/Australian!

An evening with Susmit Bose

February 27, 2006

Those of us who took up Shangon Das Gupta of Communication for Development and Learning on her invitation to an evening of music by Susmit Bose, went there without really knowing what to expect. And the first thing that struck me was the beauty of the little hall that the event was held in. Mrs Ubhayankar, who runs the Smritinandan Foundation in memory of her son, hires out this small, beautifully-done up hall to people in the field of the arts.

The first part of the evening,,which was called “It’s my right to draw” was an initiative by CDL; they had encouraged children to draw cartoons to promote communication through the visual medium.

As we settled down, Susmit Bose, his fellow-guitaritst (and sometimes, banjo player) Deepak Samson, and a lady from the Viveka Foundation who has been interacting with them, took their places, and Susmit explained how, hailing from a family of north Indian classical musicians (his father was a noted Thumri exponent) he took to the guitar, and wanted always to sing of present-day issues which touched his mind and heart. He had brought out an album called “Public Issue”…and he proceeded to give us a real feast of songs from the album. The lyrics were really excellent, and the music was very Simon-Garfunkel- and Beatles-ish…our generation related to it at once! He sang of children working with dimpled fingers on the loom, weaving carpet under forced labour; of the way daily life makes contradictions of us all; of existence and angst in the urban jungle. His songs reminded me of that gem that I love….”Another day in Paradise”…the same social themes running through them, without naming names or having prickly fingers pointing.

For an hour, he and his fellow-musicians kept us beating time to his catchy melodies and enjoying his sometimes poignant, and sometimes funny, lyrics;and he asked us to sing along with the refrains so that we felt completely that we, too, were part of the evening rather than just a passive audience. “There are certain thoughts I want to share with you…” he began, and went on with songs like “Friend of a friend” (indeed, that describes each and every one of us!)…on to Red Ribbon Express, which was written for UNICEF; “River of Life” , and “Public Issue”, which brought smiles to our faces even as it made us think. Occasionally, he played on the mouth organ too. He had a vivid stage presence and his enjoyment of his own songs was infectious. The three of them made a good singing trio.

Finally, he spoke of how he had defined his genre of music as “urban folk music”…only to realize that more than a century ago, the Baul singers of Bengal had perfected this same art, being roving musicians, who, with their ektaras and bells on their feet, sang of issues like emancipation and widow-remarriage. He concluded his recital with a lovely Baul piece, “Niraakaar Noire Bhojon”.

When he finished, we realized that the good times were not yet over….CDL ,Smriti Nandan and the Viveka Foundation had organized some lip-smacking chat, paav-bhaji and puchka (NOT pani puri!) and the softest rosogollas I have eaten since I attended my friend’s daughter’s Boubhaat in Kolkata last year…with our ears full, we made sure that our tummies were,too!

I didn’t get to asking Susmit if he has a website or an email id…but I ran a Google search and found this link, just before he released his album, “Public Issue”, last year:

I do like LJ…

February 24, 2006

You may have noticed that many of my posts are “quotes” from other LJ’s…I love visiting other people’s LJ’s…there is always something interesting, intriguing, fascinating, something I learn, some new ideas that I can mull upon…

LJ takes me into people’s minds and hearts and bypasses all the external stuff (dress, appearance, cultural and age differences, etc.) I thoroughly enjoy my visits.

Long live blogging!

what a lovely thing this is…

February 24, 2006

from the LJ of shortiyergirl

Just amazing….they are expensive in Indian rupees, but what wonderful gifts they would make!

Never hesitate…

February 24, 2006

I sometimes hesitate to introduce a friend whom I have met because of one interest, to another interest that I have…I feel that they may come along just to be polite and may not appreciate being dragged into something else. But now I am sure that this is something that I should continue to do. I have found that a friend I have made because of my interest in, say, “A”, is actually very good at “B”, too…and when I thought that a friend was bored when I asked hem (that’s a word to denote him/her) to interest “C”, I find that the interest has really taken off and s/he is spending more time with that interest than *I* am!

One of the best things in life is making new friends….some people you meet may remain acquaintances, and some may become close friends…the handful who do, are well worth the effort.

Friends are a treasure that the tax-man (it is February, obviously!) taketh not away….I hope I have these kind of close friends all my life.

My name in Egyptian heiroglyphics

February 23, 2006

From a link on the LJ of nimatee

My name using Egyptian Hieroglyphs!


Try your name
Script by jackol

My favouritest watch

February 21, 2006

I love this watch…it has a dial that is blue at certain angles and green at others; it is digital, which I love in a watch. It has a large, easily-read number display. It has dual timings (I can see what time it is for my daughter, half-way across the world),a timer, a stopwatch,and five different alarms, and the usual day/date displays too. And it has a light-up display, which makes it so convenient when I am, for example, sitting in a movie or play. AND…it is the only design I have seen till now, for a digital watch to come anywhere close to being aesthetic. The name of the maker is “Armitron” (God knows who that is) and the price? Ten dollars at some mall in Los Angeles!

I time my walks, set myself alarms for lots of activities, and it is an inseparable companion on my wrist…I thank my brother-in-law, who bought it for me, every time I look at it!

Do other women prefer digital watches to analog ones, or am I unusual? My only gripe is that I have never yet found a digital dress watch…or I would wear one with my Kanjeevarams too!

About the kaadupapa…

February 21, 2006

Read an article in today’s Times of India, that the slender loris is being hunted unmercifully, for certain (mythical) properties that its body parts possess….its eyes are supposed to be good for eye infections, some body parts are supposed to be aphrodisiacs, and so on…each animal is valued at Rs.30,000 or more…a dangerous thing to have that value on one’s head!

What an irony…we go to the jungles to try and catch sight of this elusive animal, and we can’t even see it..and here are these poachers who apparently catch it and kill it…perhaps that is the very reason the loris is becoming ever more elusive.

Wrote to kaadupapa that his namesake was in the news….

What justice…

February 19, 2006

Salman Khan has been finally sentenced to one year in jail (which his well-paid lawyers will appeal, of course) and –don’t miss this– fined RUPEES FIVE THOUSAND for killing an animal of an endangered species. For his killing of another species, he is yet to come to trial. But the amount of the fine…..that’s what’s hard to take.

This, after EIGHT YEARS.

I would like to know the name of the judge who handed down this horrific fine. Why not fine him ten rupees and be done with it? Why fine him at all?

The judge could also have acquitted him totally.

Salman Khan is also “alleged” to have run over some slum-dwellers in his SUV. ( I have to use the word “alleged” to avoid libel or slander or whatever.

Don’t forget, Salman Khan is a Bollywood hero….these are the people we revere like gods.

I rarely write about current events…but there are times when my blood boils onto the written page.

MAD had a wonderful cartoon strip where people are going about their work calmly in an office when all of a sudden a few deer burst in with guns and start spraying bullets, and gloat over the “fine specimen” they got at the water cooler. How I wish this would happen!

the Lal Bagh Walk

February 18, 2006

This morning, I decided to do the Lal Bagh walk, as I have always felt I should know more about the beautiful garden that is one of the lungspaces of Bangalore. The three hours I spent there just flew by!

When I got there, I found that I was the sole person going on the walk….the walk started 15 minutes late as Vijay Thiruvady decided that he would give the benefit of the doubt to the group of 4 who had said that they would come. I do wish people would call up if they are cancelling as not calling wastes the time of others who have come puncutally!

We started with the age-old rock at the Double Road entrance of Lal Bagh, which, at about 3 billion years old, is about half the age of the earth. Kempe Gowda’s tower sits atop this ancient “rock of ages” and reminds us about recent history…Kempe Gowda hoped that the city of Bengalooru might extend as far as his towers…would that he could see it now!

With that geological introduction, Vijay also mentioned the committed men who have been associated with Lal Bagh… Hyder and Tipu who worked to set up the garden as a reflection of Paradise,based on the Moghul Gardens at Sira, near Tumkur; and others like Wallich and Cameron, Krumbiegel,Javaraya and Mari Gowda who made it a botanical and horticultural paradise…. he then took me towards the avenue of mighty trees( they are, apparently, more than a 100 years old) which line the approach to the Glass House, which is a replica of the Crystal Palace in England. He mentioned that Saint Gobain had recently replaced all the panes with shatterproof glass…and said that he often had walkers who mentioned elderly relatives who had got married in the Glass House! Of course, it is now used only for the Flower Shows, twice a year.

He showed me the many varieties of the fig..Ficus Benjamina, Ficus Bengalensis, Ficus Krishnae (why was a scientific name, “belonging to Krishna”, given to this tree? Answer on the walk)….some of these are well-known trees, and there were some interesting facts about the berries, and how insects and trees cooperate to propogate each other, that he shared with me, giving me some specimens which he had prepared earlier.

We then took a walk down the Juniper alley, and saw various types of Cypress and Yew trees too. On the way, he showed me some remarkable specimens of epiphytes, which grow on other trees without being parasites. A banyan tree had grown all over a fishtail palm and was an amazing sight. He showed me the wonderful diversity of the trees which had been brought by Hyder Ali’s ambassadors from all over the world; he made me see the stature of a man who, in the midst of political turmoil, still had time to set up a garden based on the Seera Gardens, and strove to get specimens from everywhere. There are trees from the Americas, and Europe, and Asia…all growing together here.

I saw the wonderful “leaves” of the monkey-puzzle tree, and we went on to look at the Ashwatha tree, which we know as the Peepul. There were a couple of magnificient silk-cotton giants that we admired. On we went, looking at some Funerary Chinese cypress, and trees which are called “trees that walk” (why? ah, that’s a secret you should learn on the walk!)We saw the candle tree, the Malottus trees, ( I don’t know if I have these spellings correctly!) and Krishna’s buttercup…looked at the Indian cork tree, called Aakaasha Mallige, the “Humming-bird” tree(Amherstia Nobilis), which is very rare and was in flower right now, and the African Tulips….sat under an Arjuna tree for a small break.

We walked through thickets of various types of bamboo, and I was lucky to see one bamboo plant in flower; usually, after flowering, bamboos die. Vijay told me how the bamboo flowering is associated with famine….and how, right now, in Mizoram, the bamboos are beginning to flower, and the authorities are doing nothing about it…. we came sauntering back through a line of Sampige trees, which are actually a variety of Magnolia, and enjoyed the fragrance from their blossoms.

We ended by seeing the real Ashoka trees,which had also blossomed in yellow,and orange/red; these are different from the so-called Ashokas that we normally give the name too. I imagined Sita sitting under one such tree, waiting for Rama to come to deliver her from Ravana…

Alas, perhaps because he thought I already knew about it, Vijay did not show me the most ancient tree in the garden…I do hope he doesn’t miss it out with his other visitors. Do make a point of asking for the “stone tree” if you go on the walk, and find out more about it!

I was also fortunate in my bird-watching, which, however,is not the focus of this walk…I saw some koels, a coppersmith barbet, and a beautiful paradise fly-catcher…we were not fortunate enough to see the snake that has its residence high up in one of the trees!

A great way to learn about the trees that are native to India and the trees which our visionary leaders of old brought from the far corners of the earth to grow and thrive here.

Vijay does this walk for the love of the trees in his beloved city. Do join him when you can!

You can contact him at

and visit the website at