July 30, 2009


The wiki says, "An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms. They appear in a range of contexts, from inadvertent errors such as extremely average, to deliberate puns like same difference, to literary oxymorons that have been carefully crafted to reveal a paradox".
Having explained what an oxymoron is, these are my top 50 oxymorons... Enjoy!
50. Act naturally 49. Found missing 48. Resident alien 47. Advanced BASIC 46. Genuine imitation 45. Airline Food 44. Good grief 43. Same difference 42. Almost exactly 41. Government organization 40. Sanitary landfill 39. Alone together 38. Legally drunk 37. Silent scream 36. American history 35. Living dead 34. Small crowd 33. Business ethics 32. Soft rock 31. Butt Head 30. Military Intelligence 29. Software documentation 28. New York culture 27. New classic 26. Sweet sorrow 25. Childproof 24. "Now, then ..." 23. Synthetic natural gas 21. Passive aggression 20. Taped live 19. Clearly misunderstood 18. Peace force 17. Extinct Life 16. Temporary tax increase 15. Computer jock 14. Plastic glasses 13. Terribly pleased 12. Computer security 11. Political science 10. Tight slacks 9. Definite maybe 8. Pretty ugly 7. Twelve-ounce pound cake 6. Diet ice cream 5. Rap music 4. Working vacation 3. Exact estimate 2. Religious tolerance 1. Microsoft Works

July 29, 2009

'Barcode' to help identify plants

Just chanced upon this news item a few minutes ago.. Its really something we all need to put our heads together and do. The news report is still sketchy and I have to read the PNAS article for more clarity.. But I thought I could simplify this and do a post to help many non scientists understand the significance of this news.
All of us are made up of this basic heriditary material called DNA. We all know its possible to study the DNA profile and come to conclusions on forensic analyses and paternity issues. Its called DNA fingerprinting of human beings. Similarly, we can do the same for plants. In plants, many species have similar phenotypes (external features), same structure of leaf, texture, branching etc and the defining feature is often the flower. Hence, its often difficult to identify plants unless they are flowering. To add to this difficulty, taxonomists (those who can identify and name plants based on leaf /flower morphology) are getting rarer and almost extinct:). There is no money to be made in this profession and neither is it glamorous like Biotechnology.
Such barcoding is very handy, as we can analyse the DNA and identify plants accurately and quickly.

Vaastu anyone??

This is not about Vaastu Shastra as is commonly referred to... I would like to make an observation that many of you may have also stumbled upon... Have you noticed that the Southern part of any city is considered more posh as compared to the other places?? Its always South Delhi, Chennai, Bombay, Calcutta, Bangalore that command premium rates as compared to their North, East, or West counterparts. Ever wondered what the reason could be?? I would think its something to do with Vaastu (By the way, its just a hunch, I ain't no Vaastu amateur, leave alone expert). I would like Vaastu experts reading this post to please leave your comments; comments from non vaastu experts are always welcome too!
And within a suburb, its always the West that is more upmarket than the Eastern cousin... Have your observed that?? Its very true of every suburb in Bombay.. Why do you think this is the case?? What's the larger pattern... can we extrapolate this?? No... when it comes to countries, the North is far more developed than the South, we say.. And the West is considered superior to the East (I don't personally agree:-) but I am talking of public perceptions)
Would love comments

What's in a Name?

What's common between Tharangambadi, Kozhikode, Vishakapatnam, Vandavasi, Mangalavaram?? Well, as you might have guessed it, these are the original names of places in India but they are often known by their British/Danish/French names than their old, traditional names. Queer, isn't it?? My dad used to tell me this story of the Hamilton bridge in Chennai alias Madras:-) Apparently, the locals couldn't pronounce the word 'Hamilton' correctly and it got corrupted to Ambattan (means barber) bridge. Later, the English named it Barber's bridge:); its still called Barber's bridge even today!
Similarly, politicians rename streets... its some activity for them! But if you take Chennai for example, people still say Mount Road for Anna Salai, its still Lloyds Road instead of Avvai Shunmugam Salai, definitely Chamiers Road for Pasumpon Muthuramalingam Salai, still Lattice Bridge Road instead of Kalki Krishnamoorthy Road and nobody ever says Uthamar Gandhi Salai for Nungambakkam High Road!!!!!! Most recently, we have an IT corridor that is called Rajiv Gandhi Salai officially but everyone either says IT corridor or OMR, the official name is just a board on the Street beginning.
So, what makes a name tick??

True Lies

Yeah, the movie by this name was good.. A nice Oxymoron, isn't it?? But this post is about the furore that a talk show has raised as it uses a polygraph analysis to ascertain if the contestant is speaking the truth! I don't understand how people find it entertaining to watch some unknown persons have his or her dark desires/secrets revealed...how does it entertain me?? Somebody's (not even a celebrity) personal life does not interest most people I would think Secondly, these polygraph tests are not foolproof by any standards.. Thirdly, the contestants are well aware of the polygraph test efficiency; they have chosen to participate for fame or money or both.
All this apart, if the producers still want to do such a show, I think such programmes will 'die a natural death' over time... Giving it unnecessary publicity by media is unwarranted, and my post is adding to the noise:-). Having said that, I wanted to reiterate that its time to have some nice entertaining shows back on TV as I wrote a couple of posts earlier.

God's Own Country, indeed!

Had a sudden, amazing trip to God's own Country!! Sure, I've been to Kerala (atleast once a year for over 15 years now!), but my trips were always to Cochin and in and around that part of Kerala and occasionally to Southern Kerala. This time, I travelled north, to Kalpetta in Wayanad district. It is truly beautiful and I now think the tagline for Kerala, "God's own Country" is indeed befitting... Sure enough, the backwaters in outskirts of Kochi are beautiful, so is Kalady etc.. but Kalpetta is truly endowed with Nature in its pristine glory!! The moist evergreen forests of Western Ghats are so beautiful, I was transported to my College days when we made regular trips to the Western Ghats from Bombay.. I saw some lillies and ferns that are so peculiar to this ecosystem.
Our office in Kalpetta is probably the best resort-office one could hope to work in! Awesome view from office and the office itself is so enchanting!! The staff who work here are indeed so lucky!! 'wonder if they realise it though.. Check out some of the snaps I took of our office and the view of the hills yonder.
Even the guesthouse is the best place for a relaxing holiday with lovely, homely food, cooked with great care by a couple.. I am going to look for every opportunity to visit this office as often as possible:-)

July 22, 2009

Complete mayhem!

I was in New Delhi for two days and that explains the title.. And yes, I went after quite a while.. I saw the famed and hyped BRT corridor... its the most insane idea the government can come up with, to spend money!!! All these days, the buses used to be on the left-most lanes and the bus stops were on the left side of the road.. and the cars used to ply in the remaining lanes.. Oh yes, nobody kept to their lanes, strictly, that's true... Surely, it would have been easier to fine and prevent lane crossing instead of dedicated BRT corridors. This BRT system is so crazy, the buses now ply in the middle of the road (like the trams in Kolkata, albeit a trifle faster:)) and the cars take the extreme left lanes... What has this achieved?? Actually, nothing, except ofcourse some jobs and money for those who made a living out of BRT. The car lanes are piling up, so are the bus lanes, they aren't any faster than they were previously..
This BRT has failed to improve public transport and facilitate more citizens of Delhi to use Public Transport! Its the biggest ill conceived idea to be implemented..

July 14, 2009


Yes, I am in a philosophical mood these days... after posting about commitment and dedication, I must also share with you another highly motivated individual who is a personification of the word Responsibility. I visited during the last weekend, a school for the Tsunami victims in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. The school came up as it was the need of the hour for the displaced, shattered families to get back to normalcy. And today, it is teeming with 500 students from LKG to class VIII. No doubt many people got involved to serve in various ways to make this school happen, right from identifying the land to construction, etc., all inspired by the Art of Living Founder, H.H.Sri Sri Ravishankarji.
But one individual who has been with this project right from day one to this day is a person I know personally well, who epitomises the word responsibility. While we embark on such huge projects, there are bound to be challenges of different kinds... from locals to donors... people who have done such projects will have similar experiences. But undaunted in his mission to run the school, he has taken the responsibility to keep the school running, growing in strength and adding new wings. I could feel his passion for the project when he said flatly, "The sky is the limit, there is unlimited potential here, for anyone who has an idea in shaping young minds". I could not agree with him more. I think education and quality education is what is going to help this country get over the poverty trap we are in. And I salute all indiviuals who work towards this in our country!

Commitment and Dedication

These are words we know that will take us a long way and all our teachers, masters have often asked us to inculcate these qualities... I quite thought I knew what they meant till I met one person in a town called Trichy. Talking to this man was a humbling experience... I realised I was seeing a personification of the two words - commitment and dedication... He is a project director for an upcoming orphanage and he took me and my friends around and explained the little details as he went about building the orphanage. Having lived in a hostel right from school days, he has a phenomenal experience of the psyche of a orphan.. He has implemented each and every angle of the life and dreams of an orphan and has taken great care to ensure each child would be grateful to have been an orphan.. for getting to stay in one of the only kind of orphanage, perhaps!!
The whole project is through generous contribution of one individual but often we see the project director is simply supervising the project. But here is a man who lives with the labourers from 7 am till they leave the site each day and attends to each and every detail as the buildings come up. He is about 60 years now and has adopted ~ 6 orphans in his life and they are now settled in a job and family!! I could feel the satisfaction in his voice as he was sharing his life story with me..
You wonder what was I doing there?? Well, he wanted to start agriculture on the 40 acres of land that forms part of the orphanage campus... and I went to suggest some possible crops and methods that he can adopt, as the land has never ever been used for cultivation, as per land records.. This will serve the twin purpose of revenue generation for the upkeep of the orphanage and also teach the orphans the nitty gritty of agriculture.
He took us around the building that will be teeming with orphans from 2010 and showed us the care with which each room, dining area, wash area, rest rooms, corridors, wall colours, etc. etc will be a comforting and pleasing experience for the inmates..
Indeed, the orphans who will be living here are lucky from one angle.
I am so glad to have met such a man who can motivate so many orphans and also visitors like me:-)

July 10, 2009

Mamma Mia

Well, I was most excited to watch the musical live!! Oh yes, I am talking about the desi, Indian production... I must say they have done a good job... Those of us who grew up listening to ABBA had descended on the venue (Music Academy) and the air of expectancy was indeed palpable (to use a cliche). The academy is usually the place I frequent to listen to traditional classical music and I thought the venue will not suit the musical.. I was wrong!!
Right from the moment the musical began, the venue, setting etc didn't matter.. The cast were exremely good, both at dance and song, and the overall effect was excellent. Congrats to the Hot Shoe Dance Company for making Chennai proud! Excellent teamwork and the choreographer, director and producer get full marks... Its Varalaxmi's maiden venture and she has sure started off with a splash!! We were told that more shows in Hyderabd, Bangalore, Bombay and Delhi have been scheduled!! And they then plan to travel to Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore etc. by end of year... Good show

July 9, 2009

Special full moon

For me, of all the full moon days, Guru Purnima holds a special place in my heart. Guru Purnima is the day to feel grateful for the great knowledge you have received from your Master. It is time to review how much knowledge we could ingrain in our life in the past one year. This may bring about a realization for scope of improvement which in turn will bring humility in us. Being grateful for the way this knowledge has transformed us. Just think how I could have been without this. There is a definite change inside us. If we cannot see any change, then we haven't had a good look at ourself. Gratitude and humility together blossom a genuine prayer inside you!

My Guru, H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar goes on to say that although its celebrated as the day of the Guru, its actually the day of the 'devotee':-).... HE very beautifully goes on to add that there are three kinds of people who go to a Master. One is a student goes to learn something, just as we go to school to study different subjects or go to a music college and learn to play a guitar. Second type is a disciple who goes to get something, either knowledge, wisdom, fulfilment of some desires. The thrid type is a devotee who wants nothing, neither knowledge nor enlightenment! He simply rejoices in the presence of the Master and is in complete joy with the divine!!

So beautiful, isn't it?? HE then adds that "Students are many, Disciples are few and Devotees are rare!! I would like to think of myself as a Devotee:-)

We had amazing celebrations in Chennai on this occasion and I will upload some of the pics when I get them.

July 3, 2009

Jai Ho Judiciary!

I am no celebrity, nor an activist, nor an LGBT, but I am proud of this landmark judgement by the Delhi HC, doing away with a century old ruling. For a change, I am proud of the judiciary in our country to have taken this bold step forward. Usually, I have always found the judiciary opting for status quo when an archaic law has to be done with, and make way for new.. But I guess we have some good judges who take bold decisions. And come on, its not just sex that these people want, its about their everyday life.. They can't nominate each other on bank accounts, get property in their names, visas etc.. If two adults wish to spend their life together, why should anybody else have a problem?? Maybe the immediate family can have an opinion but certainly not religious heads!! For the life of me I cannot understand why these so-called religious leaders are up in arms against the scrapping of IPC 377... It simply makes no sense to me.. Can anybody please enlighten me?

July 2, 2009

Beat it

I've been caught by the MJ bug too!! Since 26th June, we've been waking up each morning to listen to new twists and turns on MJ and the circumstances surrounding his death. All controversies apart, he was truly a brilliant entertainer. No two ways about that. All radio stations have been playing his numbers this past week and I must say, he truly desrves the title 'King of Pop'. Its more than 17 years since Thriller, and there's not an album to Beat It:-). I still remember dancing to this album in school and thumping desks in between periods to this song..
But I am shocked how insensitive we are to people, and their lives... no doubt he was a public figure, but can't we just allow him to RIP? Each day, we are subjected to sleaze and gossip on how many prescription drugs he was taking, how many injection marks on his body, that he was bald, that he ate only pills and no food and what not!!!

I am probably adding to the junk that is already being brandished on the net and so defeating my own argument, but I simply wanted to post after reading about a conspiracy theory that MJ is alive and well and all this news about him is a planned ploy to stage a brilliant comeback by the King of Pop himself!!! This simply took the cake, from all the theories I've heard so far!!