Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tribute to a King

Tribute to a King

That is what the title said and I could think of only two people who fitted that title (in the music fraternity)
The first one is Elvis Presley and the second , Michael Jackson (obviously)

Frankly speaking I liked him ( M J ) when he looked like this, simple and down to earth

I mean his performance on stage did not diminish whenever he put on his dancing shoes but his latest attire did put off many

Coming back to the blog post, I stumbled upon a puppet show by puppeteer Juan Jose Vargas who did an excellent job of creating all the moves that Michael Jackson did while dancing.

He created a perfect Michael Jackson Puppet and made him dance to the song “Blood on the Dance Floor”

It was amazing to watch the video (which is just for 3 minutes) with all the perfect leg and hip movements which was the trade mark of Michael Jackson.

He even tried the moon walk, but that was nowhere close to the moon walk that Michael Jackson did. I think we should give Juan Jose that much leeway, as the Moon Walk is not an art that every one can master. I have been trying it for the last two years, but can’t go more than two and half steps -  then the moon stops rotating for me (or does the moon rotate?)

This short movie was made in Mexico by Mauricio Vargas and shot with a Canon 5D Mark II
Hats off  to Mauricio and Juan and of course Michael Jackson. Long Live the King !
Have a look at the video yourself - click here (it may take some time for the video to appear and play, so one may have to exercise some patience)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Welcome to my Kitchen

Benvenuti nella mia cucina.
That is how Ricardo Costa greets you. The two things that I like about this guy is his body language and his flow of words.  (sigh. . . wish I could talk like that)

Yes there is a slight hint of an Italian accent but that is very slight and negligible.
Benvenuti nella mia cucina simply means Welcome to my kitchen”. 
I don’t usually write blogs on cooking and recipes (unless it’s something made at home) but I like Ricardo’s point of view. He says that we don’t have to always go out for a date. The thrill of preparing something at home right in front of your girlfriend is something different. And then he actually goes ahead and shows you how to put together a delightful Cheese & Basil Pasta.  In his own words “it is not a big and grand dish, it is a simple vegetarian dish”  (does that mean vegetarian dishes cannot be grand?) 
Some words sounded familiar to me like the ingredients: Mascarpone cheese, Sundried tomatoes, Swiss cheese, Gorgonzola cheese, Parmesan cheese and Pecorino Romano cheese. These are some of the words that my wife throws around when she gets excited about cooking. So I was all ears . . . . . . .   maybe I can get hold of some new words and throw it back at her.

"You know Orson Wells once said: the Swiss are good for two things, the cheese and the cuckoo clock”  If you are wondering how Orson Wells came here, that is what Ricardo rambles on in-between his cooking. I also came to know that Basil juice is a good antidote for Scorpion bite. He also has some advice about how to buy good quality pasta.
Well, coming back to the cooking, first let’s start with some sauce, we simmer some milk on a low flame…. I think it is better that you hear it directly from Ricardo click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Marina Beach Chennai

During a short trip  to Chennai recently, I decided to go to the Marina beach early in the morning to get some interesting shots. Though the weather was overcast, I did manage to click some pictures.
The first thing that caught my attention at the beach was the statue of the Italian Tamil scholar Constantine Joseph Beschi. 

I made a mental note about looking up this guy who was here in India three centuries ago. When I read about him later on the net I was dumbfounded.   
He was an Italian who landed in Madurai in 1711 to learn Tamil. This would be putting it mildly when one reads about him in detail. I leave it to you to read more about him in Wikipedia.

As I proceeded towards the sea, I saw these guys playing beach volley ball, only the team looked stronger with five on one side.

This boy with his horse was on the look out for some prospective customers for a horse ride.

There was this unusual sight where people were doing some sort of puja as per the directions of the pundit. They seemed to be at a loss about the sequence of the ritual and  simply followed directions, while I just went on clicking. 

Finally they picked up the banana leaves (on which they were doing the puja), went as close to the water as possible and threw it into the sea. 

Meanwhile another set of people sat down and started the whole procedure again.  
Curious, I asked one elderly man (who just finished the puja) the meaning of the ritual that was taking place. 

The man apparently knew a lot and was happy to explain it to me in detail “Today is Aadi Amavasi - new moon day. It is a day for Pithir Tharpanam, a day for praying for your forefathers.  A ghee lamp is lit, manthras are chanted,  bells toll, these were done for the souls to rest in peace. 

Sesame seeds are considered to be holy and is used in this puja along with grass”  

He went on “Aadi Amavasi is special as it is the first Amavasi in Dakshinayam - Sun’s southward journey"

Well that enlightened me a little, something like the ‘All Souls Day’ observed by the Catholics.
Looking at the bundle of leaves, I was sure that they were all prepared to take in any number of people who wanted to do the puja.

From the corner of my eye, I saw that that the enrollment was in progress for the next batch.  Maybe the picture is out of focus because it is a view from the corner of my eye :-)

I moved on.   The ‘Beach Volleyball’ continued . . . . . . .

 and this boy (horse rider) was still looking for customers.

Two fishing boats were pulled up on the beach. The over cast sky made it a perfect setting for Aadi Amavasi. 

I think there are more photographs than text in this post, but then, why not let the the photographs speak for themselves for a change.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Protecting the Rhinos

When someone talks of Rhinos, I am reminded of the movie Hatari which I saw when I was a kid. The movie and the tune ‘Baby ElephantWalk’ was a big hit in the early sixties. (Hatari means “Danger” in Swahili )

Who can forget the way Elsa Martinelli walks down with the three baby elephants to the river to have a bath. The movie deals with a group of people who catch Rhinos and sell them to the zoos.

The animals used in the shooting of the movie were live, wild and untrained, a procedure that is banned now as Rhinos are close to being extinct in many parts of the world.
Among the different  species of Rhinos, the Javan, Sumatran and the Indian Rhinos are found in Asia. Last year it was confirmed that the Javan Rhinos were extinct in Vietnam.

Right now there are only 29 of the Javan Rhinos surviving in Indonesia and researchers are working to save these 29 currently living in Ujon Kolong (Indonesia)
The reason for the dwindling figures of the Rhinos is the rampant poaching for its horn.
The demand for rhino horn comes principally from Asia, with the major destination appearing to be Vietnam. The  increasing  demand have been fueled by rumours of Rhino horn being a cure for cancer. It is also used as a recreational drug, such as ‘Rhino wine,’ to improve male sexual performance, and to treat hangovers.  If we can get rid of these misconceptions, then maybe the demand for the horn will drop, thereby saving the Rhinoceros from being extinct. To continue reading, click here

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

India and Olympics

Wifey: ” Wow did you see the papers recently, it is all splashed with the achievements of the  Indian Women”
Me: “ Yes I saw, Rekha’s picture on the front page of Times of India
Wifey: ” Rekha’s picture?  I am not talking about any Rekha. And it is better that you address her as Rekhaji, after all she is elder to you”

Me: “ Shhh… . . . you are not supposed to disclose the age of young ladies. She looks so elegant in that off white kanjeepuram  saree with her tresses flowing down, and she looks so happy having voted Mr Ansari for a second term as Vice President.  Even Sachin Tendulkar looks happy even though his hair is a bit disheveled”
Wifey: ” You better not comment on his hair. It was this hair style of his that helped him finally score his hundredth  hundred. But why are we discussing about Rekha and Sachin and Ansari when we are making a big haul of medals at the Olympics?”
Me: “ Big haul? What have we to talk about Olympics? The only thing that India is getting famous for is loosing all the hockey matches and Who is that girl in red 

Wifey: ” You are not looking at the brighter side. Look at the medals that were bagged by Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar for their excellent shooting not to forget Saina and Mary Kom. 

This is the first time a girl from India has participated in a boxing event in Olympics and won a medal. 

Another first for India is that Amitabh Bachan’s name will be imbibed as the first Indian film star to hold the torch”

Me: “ The brighter side for me was the opening ceremony. I liked Mr Bean running in slow motion on the beach with the theme music of “Chariots on Fire”

Wifey: ” That is British humour at its best, but I found Mr Bond waiting for the Queen to finish her letter writing a bit too much. In this era of e mail, is her royal highness still using the slow mail?”

Me: “ I still feel sad about our hockey performance. Wonder what Dhyan Chand must be thinking from up above there. You know just after Independence we won a Gold in Hockey defeating Great Britain right there in London in 1948”
 Dhyan Chand and Captain Kishen Lal with C Rajagopalachari after winning the Gold Medal in 1948 at London.

Wifey: ” You are always dwelling in the past. This is the present where we have to compete with countries like China who is hell bend on having supremacy in everything”

Me: “ That reminds me, I must write to Saina asking her to have a good look at her medal. I am sure she will find “made in China” etched somewhere in fine print”

Wifey: ” Now that we have bagged so many medals I am just waiting for the wonderful closing ceremony”
Me: “ And I hope that girl comes in a beige coloured T shirt this time (red  was sort of clashing with the yellow of our contingent)”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Indian Elephant

I am always in awe of the elephants and for the giant that they are, their movements are very slow and  gentle.

It is said that an elephant consumes about 150 kg of plant matter per day. This is no mean feat and to keep up with this input they have to constantly munch.
Assam, a state in North India is rich in lush tea gardens and paddy fields. Assam is also home to wild life specially elephants. It is rare that the elephants encroach into the areas that are inhabited by humans.  But of late this has been the cause of worry for many especially the local cultivators. They find that the elephants wander into the tea gardens and paddy fields,  damaging the crops and robing the livelihood of the farmers.

The forest officials and the wild life fund (wwf) are worried about the conflict between the humans and the elephants.
When they investigated, they found out  some startling facts like  the forests in the north has lost about 65 % of its greenery.   
The shrinkage in the habitat has made the elephants more visible and as there is not enough food in the forest they tend to raid the crops in the vicinity there by creating a conflict with the local inhabitants.
The  farmers tried using fire crackers to scare away the elephants. This worked only for some time as they got used to the sound of the crackers
Villagers tried new strategies like using domesticated elephants to drive away the wild ones but this was proving costly.
To minimise the human elephant conflict, the Indian government along with the help of WWF has built Elephant corridors. This helps the elephants to move from one territory to the next through a system of fencing and overpasses, keeping wild life away from the crop fields.
To continue reading, click here.