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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

floods ... storm Frank .. torment residents of .. .. UK

December 2015 started differently – disastrously for Chennai – it rained and the incessant rains tormented people – killing a few; damaging property of thousands of its residents – putting them to untold hardships.  Those affected parts of Chennai are limping back to normality.  People have suffered all sorts of damage and many are queuing Insurance Companies seeking indemnity.  Vehicles inundated water remain in some places as garages do not have enough space to taken them in – there is dearth of repairers..

.. .. ..  for those of us associated with Insurance Companies – there is much work in the form of assessment, identification, documentation and indemnity.  One striking aspect is ‘Chennai floods 2015’ – perhaps has more uninsured losses !

Miles away, there is trouble in UK as a fresh storm threatens to bring more misery to parts of the UK, including areas already hit by severe flooding. Storm Frank is due to sweep in from Tuesday evening, with Cumbria and south and central Scotland at most risk. There are already nine severe flood warnings - meaning "danger to life" - in England and Wales, mostly centred on York which was flooded on Saturday. David Cameron has defended government spending on flood defences after thedevastation across northern England.

Follow the latest live updates on the flooding  Hurricane force winds of more than 120mph set to smash into Britain tonight in the form of Storm Frank are more powerful than those of the infamous storm of 1987 which claimed 22 lives. Met Office figures say the catastrophic winds which ripped up 15 MILLION trees across the country and left a £5BILLION trail of destruction in their wake peaked at 115mph.  This storm is set to top 120mph.

In tune with my thinking, MailOnline reports that uninsured victims face £1Billion  bill as total cost of floods soars to £5.8billion: Exactly the amount we are giving to the fight against global warming abroad.  Flood-hit residents who were unable to take out insurance on their homes face £1billion in losses, it has been revealed. Experts said prohibitively high costs meant some homeowners and businesses were unable to take out sufficient cover before this month's disaster in Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire.

New estimates suggest the cost of the floods could be up to £5.8billion - the exact amount Britain recently committed to spend helping poorer countries tackle climate change over the next five years. Flood victims have demanded that some of Britain’s £12billion foreign aid budget is used to help them after a catastrophic few weeks.

Small businesses must be offered affordable insurance as part of a long-term plan for flood defences, Labour has warned. Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle said it was wrong to exclude small firms from the new ‘Flood RE’ scheme being established to help homeowners. The scheme works by capping insurance premiums for people in high flood risk areas, funded by a small premium on all other household policies. But it excludes business premises - with ministers justifying the decision in 2014 on the basis businesses would not pay into the scheme. Ms Eagle said: ‘Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and this is an issue of critical national importance, so Labour is ready to work with the Government to come up with a long-term plan which addresses the key weaknesses in our nation’s flood defences and preparedness, including help for businesses in accessing affordable insurance."  She added: ‘Businesses are concerned that a scheme which provides affordable insurance currently excludes small businesses.

Just we saw those areas where houses have been constructed on water bodies badly affected -  over there in UK too,  despite warnings over further episodes of severe flooding, some 10,000 homes are being built on the nation's floodplains each year, according to analysis by the Financial Times.  Accountants KPMG said the £5.8billion in expected costs will include insured losses of up to £1.5billion - the estimated cost of claims made by homeowners and businesses.  But the cost of under insurance - the amount insurers deem not to be covered by a given policy - was likely to be a further £1billion, according to the company.

The limits on many insurance policies mean they are inadequate for covering the full loss.  In addition, given the post-Christmas timing, homeowners will have indirectly increased their contents values with presents and food, and while several policies provide for such an uplift, many do not. As of April, a Government-backed scheme, Flood Re, will help enable flood cover to be affordable for hundreds of thousands of households at highest risk of flooding. However, community leaders have slammed the timing of its introduction, saying homeowners needed this cover available to them months ago.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk, whose Rochdale constituency has been badly affected by flooding, also questioned the Government’s refusal to touch the aid budget. ‘Why do we spend money in Bangladesh when it needs spending in Great Britain?’ he asked.  Some of the overseas projects already funded by UK taxpayers have proved controversial.  Projects to help the thousands of victims of severe flooding in Pakistan and Bangladesh have been hit by complaints of poor administration and governance. Around £200million has been pledged to Jamaica and other Caribbean islands to upgrade their roads and bridges to cope with flooding and build sea and river defences.  Under EU rules, a country has ten weeks from the first damage caused by a natural disaster to make an application for aid. Last summer it paid out £60million to help the recovery effort following floods in Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria in which 60 people died.

Britain has only ever made one claim – after the summer floods of 2007 – and  were awarded £130million.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

29th Dec 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

'unmeltable' chocolate that can survive temperatures up to 38C.

Football legend David Beckham's son Brooklyn posted a photo of his dad sleeping with chocolates all over his face and neck on Instagram.  The photo, which seems to be taken while David was taking a nap, has gone viral. The famous father-son duo have been constantly trying to outdo the other by posting embarrassing pictures of each other on social networking sites.

Chocolates are sweet and the very word  enamours children and elders.  It  is of Spanish origin and  comprises a number of raw and processed foods produced from the seed of tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Its beans after fermentation are dried, cleaned, roasted, shell removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then groun to cocoa mass – pure chocolate in rough form.  Chocolate candy, chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, anything with chocolate is delicious.

Chocolates  are made of cocoa bean.... the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted. A cocoa pod (fruit) has a rough and leathery rind about 3 cm thick (this varies with the origin and variety of pod). It is filled with sweet,mucilaginous pulp (called 'baba de cacao' in South America) enclosing 30 to 50 large seeds that are fairly soft and white to a pale lavender color. While seeds are usually white, they become violet or reddish brown during the drying process.  Republic of Ghana,  in West Africa is famous for cocoa beans.  Toblerone  is a Swiss chocolate bar brand owned by Mondelēz International, Inc.,  It is well known for its distinctive prism shape (triangular prism or pentahedron).  Here we have Cadburys and more !

If one were to write down – one trouble with them – it is that trait of  it becoming soft and melting When the chocolate begins to get warm, it will soften and then it will melt and become liquid. The softening point of chocolate is about 85F and the melting point is about 93F.  Like many substances, the natural vegetable fat in cocoa beans – cocoa butter – will crystallize to form as solid as it drops below its freezing point – about room temperature. The invisible molecules of natural cocoa butter fat in the chocolate are arranged in a geometric pattern causing the chocolate to be a solid. When the pattern is properly formed while making the chocolate, then the chocolate will be shiny, smooth and you can hear it snap when it breaks.

Today’s MailOnline reports -  of Swiss firm starts selling 'unmeltable' chocolate that can survive temperatures up to 38C.  In a ‘Sweet edu kondadu’ moment – a Swiss chocolatier claims to have found the technology which stops chocolate from melting .  It is an invention worthy of Willy Wonka - chocolate which does not melt in hot weather.  The Swiss chocolatier claims to have conquered the technology which keeps chocolate solid even when exposed to temperatures of 38C.

Barry Callebaut - the world's biggest seller of wholesale chocolate - has already started selling heat-resistant luxury chocolate, which can survive at 4 degrees higher than normal without disintegrating. The move is in a bid to help the company, which is based Zurich, break into new markets, including the warmer climes of the Middle East and Asia.   Its Chief executive is quoted as telling the Financial Times that a non-melting chocolate which does not sacrifice taste could 'fundamentally change the game'.   According to him – it would remove many barriers : retail stores need not be airconditioned; it can be transported easily !

Western chocolate manufacturers have been trying to perfect the recipe for high-quality temperature-tolerant products for several years.  In the Middle East, African and Asian countries, chocolate remains far less popular than biscuits or cakes, largely because it is expensive and hard to distribute without chilled storage. In 2012, Scientists at Cadbury's research and development plant in Bourneville, near Birmingham, say they had found the technology for 'temperature-tolerant chocolate' to ensure bars of Dairy Milk stay completely solid even when exposed to 40C temperatures for more than three hours. Hershey - which provided 'tropical bars' to troops during the Second World War and Gulf War - has been researching the issue for decades and expect to start selling a similar product outside of the US within two years.

Sweet news indeed !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th Dec 2015.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

When Mark Taylor sludged fellow Oz Dean Jones - asking Ambrose to remove wrist bands !!

At Melbourne, in the Boxing day [2nd Test of the Series] the scorecard reveals : West Indies 6 for 91 trail Australia 3 for 551 declared (Khawaja 144, Burns 128, Smith 134*, Voges 106*) by 460 runs ! ~ another mauling on the cards much to the dislike of Ambrose.

Sir Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose played 98 Test matches took 405 Test wickets at an average of 20.99 and topped the ICC Player Rankings for much of his career to be rated the best bowler in the world. His great height— 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) tall—allowed him to make the ball bounce unusually high after he delivered it; allied to his pace and accuracy. 

 The man known to be totally reticent did speak before the 1st Series egging his team to perform.  Born in Antigua, Ambrose came to cricket at a relatively late age, having preferred basketball in his youth, but quickly made an impression as a fast bowler.  After his retirement, Ambrose has concentrated on music, playing with several bands.  Ambrose was knighted by the Antiguan government in Feb 2014, alongside Richardson and Andy Roberts.

Ask any international batsman plying his trade in the decade or so stemming from the late 1980s and they'll attest that Curtly Ambrose from a distance of 22 yards was a terrifying proposition. So if the blast that he delivered to the current incarnation of the West Indies cricket team from the considerably more intimate confines of a meeting room in the wake of their abject loss to an inexperienced yet irresistible opponent last weekend doesn't rouse a response then the cause is formally lost. Ambrose, has been employed since 2014 as a consultant bowling coach for the once mighty collective of Caribbean nations.  The thumping 10-wicket defeat inside barely three days at the hands of a Cricket Australia XI comprising mainly teenagers of which six were making their first-class debut that brought the former great – known for his brooding, malevolent silence – to his feet in the team debrief that followed.

It can happen only in Australia – Joe Burns given another chance  to cement his position for Australia's crucial looming tour of New Zealand after selectors instead dropped Shaun Marsh for the Boxing Day Test.   Joe Burns retained his place while Shaun Marsh was dropped after scoring 182 at Hobart. Usman Khawaja's return after a month out with a hamstring injury meant that someone had to make way, and Australia's selectors preferred to leave Marsh out rather than split up the opening partnership they believe is the future.  Poor Shaun Marsh during that innings figured in a huge 449-run stand with Adam Voges, the highest fourth-wicket partnership of all time in Test cricket. However, captain Steven Smith said the selectors had viewed the Burns-Warner partnership as important to stick with going forward, given the successful way they had started as a combination this summer.  That is Cricket Australia !!

Moving on, Cricket fans know Dean Jones too well.  Jones came into side in 1984 after Graham Yallop had to pull out due to injury . He was not picked in the original XI, but was drafted into the side after another player too fell ill.  Between 1984 and 1992, Jones played 52 Test matches for Australia, scoring 3,631 runs, including 11 centuries, at an average of 46.55.  We remember him well – for he played in that epic Tied Test at Chepauk in 1986 where he made 210  but was frequently vomiting in the ground due to dehydration.  It was stated that he  wanted to go off the field "retired ill" which led his captain Allan Border to say that if he could not handle the conditions, "then let's get a real Australian" (Greg Ritchie, a Queenslander like Border, was the next man in to bat). This comment spurred Jones  !!!!

Have heard him commenting on the box ~ but this interview of his [from & Sydney Morning Herald] makes very interesting read.  Titled  ‘Rags do not come any redder’  - it reports that  Dean Jones always fancied himself as a bit of a matador but he got it badly wrong when, in a World Series final, he asked Curtly Ambrose to remove his white wristbands. "He was definitely trying some form of camouflage," Jones said. "I didn't think much of it at the time." Ambrose did. He took off his wristbands and tore Australia asunder with 5 for 32.

West Indies' weapon of regicide, whose 405 Test dismissals included captains such as Michael Atherton 17 times, Steve Waugh on 11 occasions, Mark Taylor and Allan Border nine each, would hardly concur with his sentiment. He made it his job to knock the head off a team and then the stuffing out of the middle.  Ambrose was a mean bowler, a terrifying prospect to face, capable of inflicting serious injury as the ball sped out of his hand at 90mph plus from a height of 10 feet. He haunted Graeme Hick during the debut series of English cricket's great hope in 1991, dismissing him six times in seven innings.

Here is something excerpted from that Dean Jones interview :  Many people ask me why I was stupid enough to ask Curtly Ambrose to take his sweat bands off. It become a massive international incident in the cricket world back then and completely changed the fortunes of the West Indies on their 1992-93 tour of Australia. Curtly Ambrose was a very difficult bowler to face. Apart from being tall, quick and nasty, his hand, just before release, always moved around a lot and it was so hard to read a bouncer or length ball. His hand action was something similar to the way you would sprinkle salt and pepper over your food.  Then add in the fact that Ambrose wore these white sweat bands, bowling a white ball, and it just caused massive concerns to all batsmen being able to pick the ball properly out of his hand.

Now the date was January 16, 1993, where we played the Windies in a final of the one-day series in front of a full house at the SCG. In the previous match, Wasim Akram broke my thumb with a short one and I was in serious trouble. I couldn't hold a bat properly and I had a young whippersnapper Damien Martyn hunting for my spot. I had to play the final or I might never get back in the team. The only way I could play was to get jabbed up to take the pain away. Once the anaesthetic took over, I couldn't feel my hand and knew I was in trouble. We won the toss and just before the game started, Bob Simpson thought it was a good time to tell the team who was playing in the next Test in Adelaide. I was the only guy not playing. After being unceremoniously dropped after a good tour to Sri Lanka, to say I was pissed off would be an understatement.

I was furious. So I sat in the corner by myself to watch the game and decided that I would make the best hundred and embarrass Simpson and his selector mates. Just a couple of overs into the match, Simmo thought it would be good to talk to me about what Cricket Australia and the team were going to do for the Adelaide Test. The players were going to have their own rooms and CA would pay for all of the wives and girlfriends to go to Adelaide.  Meanwhile, I noticed David Boon and Tubby Taylor were struggling with Ambrose in particular. Ambrose was wearing these massive sweat bands. I don't know if it was the drugs or what, but I thought if I told Ambrose to take his sweat bands off it would create a massive stir within the Windies team and might get Ambrose to bowl a different line and length.

I thought it would be good time to interrupt Simmo, who was rambling on at the time, talking about a wine tour during the Adelaide Test. I wanted Simmo's approval before I went out to bat. I was blown away when Bob agreed, obviously feeling very remorseful on my non-Test selection. Once Simpson agreed, the whole team went hysterical. "You will get us killed," they yelled at me. So when Boony nicked off to Ambrose, I then passed Mark and Steve Waugh going out to bat. Mark then said to Steve, "He is not going to do it, is he?" I then thought, "gee ... they do talk!" I had never heard them speak to each other in the years I have known them. My first ball from Ambrose was a ripper. It was quick and short and flew past my right ear. I then asked politely for Ambrose to take his sweat bands off. Everyone, from the players to the fans, were in a state of shock. I noticed Ambrose starting to froth up around his mouth and you could hear a pin drop it was that quiet. What broke the silence was when I noticed a guy who was carrying four schooners who yelled out, "You bloody idiot, Jones!"

Well the next three deliveries were probably the quickest I ever faced! I was thinking, "What the hell have I done?" I have a compound fracture of the right thumb and a hand I can't feel. And when the umpire called "over", I had 11 West Indians and one Australian batsman sledging me! Mark Taylor was furious. Tubby yelled out, "What are you doing? I have two kids. What are you thinking?" I really couldn't care less about Tubby at the time as he was going to Adelaide as well. My poor judgment created quite a stir at the time. Ambrose got so mad he took 5-32 and the Windies went on to smash us. Two days later, in the second final at the MCG, Ambrose was still furious and bowled like the wind and took 3-26 to wrap up a series win.

Well, who would have thought five days later in the Adelaide Test, Ambrose would continue the rage by taking 6-74 and 4-46 to even up the Test series 1-1? Test debutant Justin Langer was hit all over his body by Ambrose. But he had my Test spot so I didn't have a lot of sympathy for him. Who was to know Langer would go on to become one of the great openers. A few days later, in the final Test at the WACA Ground, Ambrose was unstoppable and took 7-25. In one spell he took an amazing 7-1 to wrap up the series. I think I got seven phone calls that night from different Australian players still seething about what I did at Sydney just a couple of weeks back. Talk about carrying a grudge!

Can I take this opportunity to apologise to all the Australian players and fans for asking Ambrose to take his sweat bands off. It was an error in judgment and it won't happen again. "Amby" still won't talk to me and he needs to get over it. No one talks about Steve Waugh sledging Ambrose in Trinidad on the '95 tour. There is no justice in this world as Waugh got away with it, but I didn't. Curtly and Steve later agreed to a memorabilia deal that included a set of wristbands and made them thousands. I always knew Waugh was smarter than me.

… with no Ambrose, no anger – Australians are merely toying with West Indies bowling.  At Melbourne, it is  Joe Burns 128; Usman Khawaja 144; Steve Smith 134* (Oz 551/3]; at Hobart Warner 64; Adam Voges 269* Shaun MZarsh 182 [Oz 583/4] ~ it is only a 3 Test Series !!!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Dec 2015.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

blowing their trauma out - Kottur and those affected by rain !

Blow balloon blow out your stress !

Rains, rains … and more …. Dec 2015 would remain etched in the memory of Chennaiites ~ for the devastation that followed incessant rains.   ~  a few lives were lost, many lost all their belongings – for Insurers claims have been pouring in and by estimates the loss in city alone is put at 4000 crores [no confirmed source though !] – house property; industries, stocks, IT & ITES; hotels and thousands of cars.

Kotturpuram (கோட்டுர்புரம்) is a locality nearer Guindy Park / Adyar / RA puram. Ace carnatic musicians (Late) Shri MS Subbulakshmi and {Late} Shri D.K. Pattammal have made the place proud.  Like many other places, Kottur was once a village – TNSC in its wisdom constructed flats in the river bed, since it was the dead-end at that time.  Puram means exterior in Tamil and hence Kotturpuram.  This area was worst affected in 1977 and now too !

GVK EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute)  is one good thing that happened in 2005.  The organization was incepted with the objective of delivering comprehensive, speedy, reliable and quality Emergency Care Services. This has been done by establishing an Emergency Response System that coordinates every emergency through a single toll free number  108  which when called in an emergency ensures prompt communication and activation of a response that includes, assessment of the emergency, dispatch of the ambulances, along with a well trained Emergency Medical Technician to render quality pre-hospital care and transport of the patient to the appropriate health care facility.  Today, 108 is synonymous with the best-in-class emergency service.

GVK EMRI is operating integrated “104 Health Advice Helpline Services” in partnership with the Administration of the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and the state of Tamil Nadu.  It is SYMA’s fortune that we came to be associated with Mr B Prabhudoss, Head of Marketing and Hospital Relations, EMRI. 

In the recent rains, Kottur too was badly affected.  Many good people were involved in relief and rescue.  Before NDRF and the defence forces were deployed,   City police and the firemen were working in tandem in rescuing the stranded public from flooded localities. It was the fisherfolk of Nochikuppam, Mylapore and others who helped in a big way rescuing people in boats.  DCP of Mylapore Mr V Balakrishnan played a stellar role in rescue. 

For those who underwent suffering, especially young students – the stress of the trauma is unbearable.  Many from Kottur were affected ~ through Mr SR Ragunathan, Chief Photo editor, The Hindu, we came in contact with the HM of Chennai High School, at New Street, Kottur.  EMRI  104 Health Helpline conducted psychological counselling for children assisting them to  overcome stress induced by floods. Mr B Prabudoss and Mr Elaya Raja  conducted the session.  The concern exhibited and the efforts of the Head Mistress of the School and other Teachers in identifying and taking care of those students affected is commendable.  Today’s The Hindu has this news on page 2 : 

Helping them cope with trauma left by floods
A group of students at the Chennai High School in Kottur took a break from regular classes last Saturday, to take part in interactive activities and games. A voluntary organisation took initiative to give counselling session to students affected by the floods, through GVK EMRI services.

B. Prabhudoss, Head of Marketing and Hospital Relations, GVK EMRI, said while they had been offering counselling for people experiencing post-traumatic stress after the floods, this was the first initiative in a school. “Students from areas that were severely affected had been experiencing lack of motivation and high stress levels that we will seek to address in these sessions,” he said.

Psychologists from the 104 helpline held the session at the school and organised activities and games that touched upon the symptoms of trauma and stress while speaking to students on how to effectively overcome them. Simple breathing techniques and exercises were taught. “Based on the sessions, the psychologists will identify children who might need further one-on-one counselling and we will facilitate the sessions. We are hoping to take this further to more schools in the city,” Mr. Prabhudoss added.

S.  Sampath Kumar of SYMA, the voluntary organisation, said that they had decided to counsel students as part of a rehabilitation process.

with regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Dec 2015.

Friday, December 25, 2015

hundred people killed in explosion in Nigeria

Nnewi is the second largest city in Anambra State in south-eastern Nigeria. This metropolitan city encompasses 4 local government areas, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ekwusigo and Ihiala Local Government. In Nnewi mythology, the 'ewi' (Igbo: bush rat) played a great role in saving the founders of Nnewi during wars. Throughout its history, Nnewi has used its military might to maintain its borders and because of this, the killing or eating of ewi in Nnewi is forbidden to the present day. Nnewi existed as an independent kingdom from the 15th century to 1904, when British colonial administration occupied the kingdom.

Nnewi is in news today, for totally wrong reasons as a  butane tanker truck ignited a huge explosion at a crowded industrial plant in Nigeria killing more than 100 people lining up to refill their cooking gas cylinders in time for Christmas. The disaster took place in Nnewi, a predominantly Christian city in south-east Nigeria. An Associated Press reporter counted more than 100 corpses after firefighters put out the last of the flames.  Some Press reports state that  the fire broke out at about 11am when a tanker truck that had finished discharging fresh gas at the Chikason Group Gas plant left without waiting to observe the prescribed cooling time.  That accident killed upto  100 people as  Nigerian gas plant exploded in ‘huge inferno’

On Christmas eve, the  fireball destroyed nearby buildings and left burned corpses littering the plant in Nnewi, according to witnesses. The blaze consumed victims who had been waiting in line to collect crude oil from the Inter Corp Oil Limited gas plant – a subsidiary of Nigerian conglomerate Chicason Group.  ‘The fire exploded like a bomb, and the whole gas station went up in thick, black smoke amidst an explosion from cooking gas cylinders,’  a witness is reported as saying.  Most of those killed had been in the station queuing all day to get their cylinders refilled.’

Further reports state that most of the bodies and the few badly injured victims were evacuated to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Nnewi. ‘Many of them were burned beyond recognition, and I doubt if many family members of the dead victims would be able to identify the remains of their loved ones,’ it is stated.  Another report puts that the gas plant was completely destroyed and several houses around the scene damaged.

Sad that disaster struck when locals were queuing for their fuel for Christmas Day meals when the fire broke out.  Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, deriving the bulk of its money through the commodity. But accidents are a frequent occurrence in the country, where pipelines are often damaged by people stealing crude oil. The country loses an estimated 300,000 barrels a day to gangs that syphon crude from pipelines in the oil-rich southern states, according to the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th Dec 2015 @ 5.30pm.

Photo credit :

People remember MGR even now !!!

In my school days, I saw only a handful movies – remember seeing “ Nalla Neram” – MGR starrer, directed by MA Thirumugam at a theatre in Dharmapuri in 1974 ! .. for those who are more acquainted with Tamil tinseldom – would well know and remember the song which years after its release was screened in all the theatres of Tamilnadu in 1980s.  It was the song ‘Andavane unthan pathangalil naan kanneeral” from the film Oli Vilakku [ஒளி விளக்கு ] released in 1968. 

Melakkath Gopalan Ramachandran (1917 – 1987) [was that Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran !!], popularly known as MGR, was a legendary film actor who rose to dizzy heights of popularity becoming the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu successively for three terms. Those visiting Chennai from rural parts of Tamilnadu visit Marina primarily for visiting the samadhi of  MGR.  The tomb of MGR was  refurbished a couple of years ago and became a court case for different reasons has nothing to do with this post.

Sathi Leelavathi, released in 1936 had MG Ramachandran in a supporting role but that was to change the fate of the State was not known for sure.  He graduated to leading roles and for the next three decades dominatin the tinseldom as ‘Do Gooder Hero’ who could nothing wrong and who would always care for the poor. In 1972, he  challenged those at the helm; was promptly expelled  from DMK, came out to  form his own party the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK). In 1977 he became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu - the first film actor in India to become the Chief minister of a state. He remained as chief minister till his death in 1987.  He had built a mass following and glorious  reputation for philanthropism idolized by his followers  as Puratchi Thalaivar (revolutionary leader).  MGR was posthumously honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.

In October 1984, MGR was diagnosed with kidney failure, which was further complicated by diabetes, a mild heart attack and a massive stroke.  MGR died on December 24, 1987 after his prolonged illness. He was 70. His death sparked off a frenzy of looting and rioting all over the state of Tamil Nadu. Shops, movie theatres, buses and other public and private property became the target of violence let loose all over the state.  Around one million people followed his remains, around 30 followers committed suicide and people had their heads tonsured.  I had earlier posted an article restating from one in The Hindu of Nov 1984   titled “Flying out MGR safe: an epic effort” which in depth recounts the efforts made in bringing a special plane to take ailing MGR to USA - remember that air traffic was a microscopic % of what it is today. 
You can read that article here :  Flying Out MGR safe

Dr Kanno, a Neurosurgeon from Japan came all the way from Tokyo.  At a time when wire transfers and easy cash availability ~ were not available  even to the Government, finding that huge money , chartering aircraft and logistic were handled exceptionally well.  A refurbished aircraft flew to Madras at 2.45 pm on Nov 4, 1984.  Everything was in place and special efforts were planned to manage the crowds en route to airport from hospital.  Under Federal Aviation Authority rules Boeing 707 was not permitted to land in New York, as it was small and noisy aircraft – a special permission was granted.

MGR was  taken to Brooklyn Hospital – then returned back to Madras, won the elections and ruled the State for some more time, eventually died on Dec 24, 1987 is history.  There are thousands of his followers who adore, admire and remember him still ~ it is almost 30  years since his death, this year too saw people especially rickshawmen placing his picture and offering their obeisance on his death anniversary.

Here is a photo taken near NKT Girls High School Triplicane, on 24.12.2015.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Dec 2015. 

Chennai city traffic ~ caring for life saving 108 Ambulance

The word ‘Pilot’ – would first take our mind to an aviator, someone  who operates the directional flight controls of an aircraft while it is in flight.  There are other Pilots too !

We have reasons to feel proud of our land of Chennai aka Madras aka ~ Chennapatnam – deriving its name from Chennappa Nayak dating back to 1637 !  Safety is everybody’s concern ~ accidents unfortunately do occur – lot many of them avoided by observing safety and many lives saved by immediately attending to them.   All  users of a road including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, passengers in vehicles, its drivers and others face risk on road. 

Struck in the Chennai traffic, you hear the siren – that of an ambulance – many a times, wonder what to do – feeling helpless – with no space to move.   In the past week, experienced more than once on the arterial Mount Road – save a couple of fools, most vehicles swerved immediately to give way to the emergency vehicle.  Felt happy in seeing that !   Many would try to show off their travels stating that emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and fire engines, would move on designated lane without losing time in foreign countries.  Chennai, like any other Indian city lacks road width and most roads are congested allowing no place to move.  Perhaps Chennai drivers are more human on hearing the siren – giving way …..    For all our friends - When we hear the siren of an ambulance, we should always move to the left and come to a complete stop.  Stop and do not move till the ambulance finds it was and surges through, irrespective of honking vehicles and overtaking vehicles.  At signal, if ambulance asks for way from behind, move front, move to left and stop……………and never tailgate an ambulance – it is no heroism, rank foolishness and idiotic.

In a city where accident statistics are alarming, the  good thing that happened is ‘108 free ambulance service’ – the farsighted initiative of Ramalinga Raju and now operated by the  Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project,  the nodal agency that sponsors the 108 emergency response service along with GVK-EMRI, which is a private partner. It is one social intervention that has resulted in literally saving lives by attending to accident / ailment victims in the 'golden hour' when safe and knowledgeable transportation is critical. The city’s utilisation of 108 has been increasing but emergency care managers say the ambulances were mostly sought for accident cases as against pregnancies and other emergencies like chest pain.  People can avail the services for accidents, pregnancy, chest pain, medical emergency including respiratory problems, oral poisoning, insect, snake and animal bites.

Recently, when the deluge brought down the entire Cuddalore district to its knees, the place still bore witness to the spirit of selflessness that makes us humans. An ambulance driver and a group of persons put their lives on the line and braved flooded roads and unforgiving rains to help a pregnant woman reach hospital to deliver her baby got reported widely in print media, specifically Indian Express.  At EMRI 108, the ambulance drivers are called “Pilots”.  It is needless to reiterate :   All of us can wait – nothing in life is so important – than allowing the life saver to reach the destination at its earliest.  But this one in Indian Express makes a sad reading.

An ambulance carrying a heart patient was allegedly stopped on Thursday to make way for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s convoy, even as the police denied any such incident taking place on Kona Expressway in Howrah. While police have denied the allegation, the Trinamool Congress has claimed that Mamata didn’t travel via road and any such interruption of traffic was “absolutely unnecessary”. It said Mamata flew into Kolkata in a helicopter from Digha and her convoy did not cross the area.

However, the patient’s family member, Meherjan Begum, alleged that the police had stopped their ambulance on Kona Expressway for half-an-hour to make way for the chief minister’s convoy. He added that the family had to plead with senior police officers present at the spot to allow the passage of the ambulance.

Trinamool national spokesperson Derek O’Brien, in a statement, said: “On December 23, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee flew by helicopter from Digha to Kolkata. No CM’s convoy was passing by. The traffic interruption, and the inconvenience shown to citizens in Howrah was absolutely unnecessary… Mamata Banerjee travels with minimal fuss and frills, without the usual cavalcade of VIPs. She is the last person to disrupt traffic.” “As of now, we’ve done a preliminary analysis of CCTV footage and found that at least five ambulances had passed through Kona Expressway during that period and the particular ambulance, which was allegedly stopped, was never stopped.

“We are still looking into the matter but such allegations are needless and our priority has always been to let ambulances to pass because it is matter of life and death,” said a senior police officer.  Never sure which version is correct.

Back home in Chennai, the traffic police created their first green corridor in 2009, when a heart had to be taken from Teynampet to Mogappair. “Back then, the heart was taken in a police vehicle” – in later times,  a police vehicle goes ahead of the ambulance to ensure the road was free of traffic and pedestrians.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Dec 2015.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Squad to Australia ~ Raina dropped from ODI, Brainder Sran in ....

In Jan 2016, India will play 5 One dayers and 3 T20s in Australia  ~ the squad has been announced and it has many surprises ! ~ are we back to 2003 in some ways ?
When it rained and rained in Chennai, Tamil Nadu played a Ranji match against Punjab at Dindigul.  On day 1, the victim was the Umpire - a blistering shot off the bat of Punjab’s Brainder Sran struck the back of the head of visiting Australian umpire John Ward, who immediately clutched the back of his head and collapsed onto the ground.   He is out of danger – but how many of us would have read about this Sran at at that time ? – now this left-arm seamer, left hand bat is in news.

Reportedly, Brainder, as a teenager, was once not just another boy pursuing a career in boxing, but was honing his skills at the country’s punching nursery – Bhiwani before joining the Punjab team. He was honing his skills under the same coach who produced famous  Vijender Singh. In fact, Brainder, weighing 75 kilos back then, found himself in the same weight category as the India’s most famous pugilist.  Brainder was bought by the Jaipur franchise Rajasthan Royals in the 2015 auction in the 8th  edition of the Indian Premier League at his base price 10 lakh.

T20I squad: MS Dhoni (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Harbhajan Singh, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra.

ODI squad: MS Dhoni (capt), R Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Brainder Sran.

Sadly, the man who has played 18 tests (768 runs); 223 ODI (5568) and 46 T20 (983) is out of ODI squad. Way back in May 2010 at the island country in the eastern Carribean sea founded in 1886 by Sir Arthur Sidders - St. Lucia  against South Africa, he made a century in a T20. SK Raina walked in of the fourth ball of the first over with score reading 4/1 and achieved what only 2 players [Gayle & Mccullum] had done at that time.  In over no. 18 Raina plundered 25 off Kelinveldt and reached his century in the last over.

Suresh Raina and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been dropped from India's ODI squad for the upcoming tour of Australia, following a poor home series against South Africa.  A rejigged ODI squad includes a maiden call-up for Punjab's 23-year-old left-arm pacer Brainder Sran, as well as a recall for Manish Pandey, who made his international debut against Zimbabwe in July.

How many of us predicted this side ?  ~ and that of Ashish Nehra – who last played a Test at Rawalpindi in Apr 2004; last ODI at Mohali against Pak in Mar 2011; and last T20 at Durban in Jan 2011.  He made his test debut against Sri Lanka at Colombo playing alongside : Sadagopan Ramesh, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohd Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly, Nayan Mongia, Anil Kumble, Venkatesh Prasad & Harbhajan Singh.  Except Bhaji, all have retired from all forms of cricket ~ and Nehra is in the squad !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Dec 2015.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Police raid a brothel ~ arrest a woman for keeping a lamb !!!!

In the film Gambeeram, Vadivelu would raid a hut from which a woman bootlegger would be operating – despite other cops asking him not to go, Vadivelu would daringly enter – the woman would capture him, remove his dress, leave him nude and run away wearing his dress…. One often reads about rides on brothel houses and arrests made ~ miles away in Germany, Police raided a brothel, found something amiss and arrested a person …. Can you imagine what this could be all about !!

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" is an English language nursery rhyme of 19thcentury American origin.  The nursery rhyme was first published by the Boston publishing firm Marsh, Capen & Lyon, as an original poem by Sarah Josepha Hale in May, 1830, and was inspired by an actual incident.   As a young girl, Mary Sawyer (later Mrs. Mary Tyler) kept a pet lamb, which she took to school one day at the suggestion of her brother. A commotion naturally ensued.

The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott Glenn, the film is based on Thomas Harris' 1988 novel of the same name.  It won Academy awards in all 5 top categories.  The film is considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the U.S. Library of Congress and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry in 2011.

Lambs are ruminants and eat grass.  Elsewhere in Surrey, UK, a flock of sheep that were bound for abattoir got high on cannabis plants worth £4,000, after the drugs were ditched in a  field.  The stash of marijuana plants, which were each roughly three foot tall, were dumped at the edge of Fanny's Farm in Markedge Lane, a newspaper reported.  The sheep being inquisitive had an interesting feast on it !!

Police who raided a brothel in Munich got more than they bargained for when they discovered a three-week-old lamb living there. Officers had been tipped off that a prostitute was in possession of contraband but did not expect it to include livestock. Unlike the wooly situation in the UK, prostitution is legal in Germany, and tourists are known to flock to Munich's red light district for the shear thrill of purchasing the affection of women.

The woman, who has not been named, but the lamb is named as ‘birke’- the woman tried to defend herself by claiming the lamb followed her to the brothel – which the German police have decided is against the rules, after examining a letter the woman provided, in which a vet established the conditions in which a lamb should be raised. The prostitute was handed an immediate ban against keeping animals.  Birke was alter handed over to an animal protection group, according to the police statement.

In another interesting incident, a Moscow psychiatric facility that earlier made the headlines for strapping its child inmates to the beds is now at the center of another scandal after it showed children with psychiatric disorders the film "The Silence of the Lambs."

The film is viewed as a dark and gruesome U.S. thriller about a murderous cannibal and a serial killer. A court ruled that in showing the Oscar-winning grizzly tale at the facility, the hospital had broken the law on distributing information to children that is harmful to their health and ordered the hospital to pay a fine of an undisclosed size.  In the U.S., the 1991 film was given an R rating upon its release, meaning that viewers under 17 had to be accompanied by an adult. "The Silence of the Lambs" placed seventh on a list of "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments" compiled in 2004 by the U.S.-based Bravo television channel.

Ending Lamb’s silence,  Mary Sawyer's house, located in Sterling, Massachusetts, was destroyed by arson in Aug 2007.  A statue representing Mary's Little Lamb stands in the town center. The Redstone School, which was built in 1798, was purchased by Henry Ford and relocated to a churchyard on the property of Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts.  The rhyme [Mary had a little lamb]  is also famous for being the very first thing recorded by Thomas Edison on his newly invented phonograph in 1877.  It was the first instance of recorded verse. In 1927 Edison re-enacted the recording which still survives.The earliest recording (1878) was retrieved by 3-D imaging equipment in 2012.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th May 2015.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sri Parthasarathy Koil Post Office reopens - Thiruvallikkeni is cheerful

Some things have changed in life.    Some  have lost their sheen for no fault of theirs.   I had earlier posted a poignant tale of this building that once stood majestically and bustled with activity and was brought down in Jan 2011.  This was the property on the  Big Street [do you know it is Veera Raghava Mudali Street], Triplicane, Chennai 600 005.   ” Not sure whether it was named after the famed blind poet ‘andhakak kavi veeraraghavar’.

Nearer  Singarachari Street side of the  Big Street was that once majestic building which housed residential quarters also.  It had ample space in the front for parking of cycles and then bountiful mango tree.  The spacious stairs in curvature lead to two resting place (thinnais) – a porch.  There were two counters,  a makeshift room housing another counter – rest were not accessible to common public.  If you could spend a few hours there, you would perhaps meet all the people in the locality who would have some vocation to be there..

It was the most sought after one of yesteryears –‘the post office’.  This one was officially known as “Parthasarathy Koil S.O” –  a bigger one has been in existence at Triplicane High Road for long.  The modern day youngsters might not know the cost of a Post card; may not even know that such thing exists !  For none of the younger generation are in the habit of writing letter by hand to parents / spouse / brother and sister / loved ones / friend / teacher or somebody else ?  In fact many are not even in the habit of sending / responding personally to e-mails in the age of FB but have lots of time for sending forwards………   Pongal was the time for sending printed messages (pongal vazthukkal). Shops and some on platforms would have a heap of greeting cards, from which one would select sweetly worded for the intended recipient – friends, relatives, teachers and others. Write their names neatly and legibly and post them by affixing postal stamp.  It would give loads of happiness to receive such Greeting cards, a feeling that one is being cared for. 

Do you know that besides the Communication Address viz., Postal address that consists of Door No., Street Name, Area, City …. .. ..there existed something known as PO Bag No. ?   History reveals that it was way back in 1712, Governor Harrison first started a Company Postal Service in Madras to carry mail to Bengal by dak runner. By 1736, a postal system of sorts was in place with a somewhat greater vision. In 1774, a system of charging postage on private letters began. Decades later the postal rules were in place  ~ Chennai General Post Office was initially opened in Fort St. George Square, just outside the Sea Gate, on 1 June 1786. 

Once that Big Street building was demolished – Sri Parthasarathy Koil PO suffered.  It functioned for sometime from the premises of Triplicane PO ~ for sometime it was in the near dilapidated structure at Hanumantharayan Street – for many years residents of Thiruvallikkeni had been waiting patiently, moving mountains in the fond hope that seemingly endless wait of Sri Parthasarathi Koil PO at Thiruvallikkeni would dawn into a reality !!!  ~ not all nursed the hope !

It was of sentimental importance too.  Any search on  Sulekha pages or elsewhere would reveal the names of Post Offices as [certainly not the exhaustive list]:  Adambakkam PO; Adyar PO; Alandur PO; Alwarthirunagar PO; Ambattur PO; Aminjikarai PO; Annanagar PO; Annasalai PO; Mylapore PO; Mandaveli PO; Sholinganallur PO; Sowcarpet PO; T Nagar South PO; Tambaram PO; Taramani PO; Triplicane PO; West Mambalam PO ……….. simply there could be hundreds of post offices but to those residents of Triplicane – the building that housed Thiruvallikkeni Thapal Nilayam is a monument and many would have green stories kindling nostalgia ~ and its name is unique for it is ‘Sri Parthasarathi Koil Post Office’  ….. only one of its genre named not after the locality but after our presiding deity Sri Parthasarathi. 

Today dawned differently as with the concerted efforts of citizens of Thiruvallikkeni, Sri Parthasarathy Koil PO  stands reopened this day 16.12.2015 at North Tank Square Street, in a premises belonging to the Temple.  Thanks are due to many – specifically Mr MGR Vasan, Councillor 116 Ward, Sri Parthasarathy Swami Temple Devasthanam DC and officials, associations of Triplicane including SYMA [special mention of TJ Ramani]  and Friends Association; Brahmins Welfare Association, Triplicane – specific for contributing the advance amount from their funds.  With the efforts of many many people, the Post Office today is a reality bringing cheers to all  here at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Dec 2015