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Thursday, February 22, 2018

South Africa ~ not T20 news - remembering Thillaiyadi Valliyammai

Indian team has been on a surge and fans have been happy following the team’s winning performance in South Africa, but at Centurion it was a different tale.  First Junior Dala priced out Rohit & Kohli cheaply ~ then came a grand 98 run partnership between Manish Pandey and MS Dhoni that set up a target of 189.

Rohit Sharma, who hasn't been in the best of form since his arrival in South Africa, had another forgettable show with the bat as he was dismissed for a first-ball duck  by Junior Dala.   Rohit now has maximum ducks by an Indian batsman in T20 internationals. Prior to the match, he was jointly in the first place along with Ashish Nehra and Yusuf Pathan, who all have scored three golden ducks each in their T20I careers. ~ and in his 3rd over Chahal was torn apart by  JP Duminy and Heinrich Klaasen, who as hit for 23.  Yuzvendra Chahal conceded 64 runs in his four overs.

The worst bowling performance in T2oI  is by BJ McCarthy playing for Ireland against Afghanistan giving 4-0-69-0.  The next 64 has the names of Kyle Abbot, James Anderson, Sanath Jayasuriya, A Tye, BM Wheeler and Yuz  Chahal ~ while all of them gave 64 in 4 overs, Wheeler had figures of 3.1-0-64-0.

Whilst most of you would have read the match report on this day – 22nd Feb – not sure whether you remember to connect this day (South Africa to a small village in Tamil Nadu and a frail woman who died 103 years ago !)  If not read on – connecting the collection of these sarees to that woman – it is a photo taken at Coo-optex,  the Tamilnadu Handloom weavers’ cooperative society. 

This little village  has connection with Gandhiji … hundreds of people from here had gone gone to South Africa in the early 20th Century both as indentured and free labour. Several of them had been deported back after that first Satyagraha movement Gandhiji had launched while in South Africa ~ and one among them was a woman (rather a young girl) who lived for only 16 years.  Tharangambadi also known as Tranqubar is in Nagapattinam from where indentured labour from India, mostly Tamil and Telugu peasantry, left fromMadras aboard the S.S.Truro.

22nd February marks the death anniversary of  Thillayadi Valliammai, the revolutionary, famed to have inspired Mahatma Gandhi in his fight against colonial rule.  Born to Mangalam and Muthusamy Mudaliar, Valliammai was initiated into political struggle by Gandhi, when the colonial State of South Africa declared null and void all marriages forged outside of the South African law or Church law. Thousands of marriages were annulled. Valliammai marched with her mother from Transvaal to Natal protesting against the unjust laws. Valliammai also participated with her mother in protests against exorbitant taxes levied against workers. They were arrested and sentenced to three months of hard labour.

It is recorded that when Gandhi visited a fragile and ill Valliammai shortly after her release, the young girl vowed to be arrested any number of times to carry on the fight for people’s rights. Gandhi cited her as someone who inspired him to stay the course in the fight for equality in South Africa. But the girl’s physical health did not match her mental strength. Shortly after her release, Valliammai, all of 16 years, died on February 22, 1914.

Popularly called Thillaiyadi Valliammai, she had never been to her native village or for that matter to  India. She grew in an environment that was rather hostile to Indians.

A law had been passed that any marriage that is not according to the Church or according to the marriage law of South Africa would be held null and void, which disproportionately affected the Indian community in that country.  Young Valliammai joined her mother in the march by women from Transvaal to Natal – which was not legally permitted without passes. Valliamma, and her mother Mangalam, joined the second batch of Transvaal women who went to Natal in October 1913 to explain the inequity of the three pound tax to the workers and persuade them to strike. They visited different centres and addressed meetings. They were sentenced in December to three months with hard labour, and sent to the Maritzburg prison. Valliamma fell ill soon after her conviction, but refused an offer of early release by the prison authorities. She died shortly after release, on 22 February 1914.

Gandhi wrote in Satyagraha in South Africa about his meeting with Vallammai when she was emaciated and terribly ill.  She reportedly expressed her strength to fight, go to jail again, and even die fighting for the cause.  It is reported that Gandhi spoke about her in his meetings in Marina beach and also spoke at Wenlock park near Marina ground, overlooking the Triplicane MRTS station.

Now a Memorial hall including Public liabrary stands at the Thillaiyadi village. A commemorative stamp on her was released in Dec 2008. The main showroom of Cooptex at Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai – is named after ‘Thillaiyadi Valliammai’………

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Feb 2018.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Indian Coinage ! ~ buzz around Rs.10 coins ..

In the modern World, there are no rules for spending ~ one need not have anything to spend – not even Credit cards (plastic money) ! – people are wary of carrying coins – yet the Rs.10 coin has created so much of buzz that RBI is sending messages ! urging people that it continues to be a legal tender !!

There are legal tenders and there are  commemorative notes in coins – for example, in 2015, Reserve Bank of India  issued   10 coins to commemorate the International Day of Yoga - the obverse of the coin bears the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the center with the legend "सत्यमेव जयते" inscribed below, flanked on the left periphery with the word "भारत" in Devnagri script and on the right periphery flanked with the word "INDIA" in English. It also bears the Rupee symbol "" and denominational value "10" in the international numerals below the Lion Capitol. The reverse of the coin bears the logo of "International Day of Yoga", with inscription "सामंजस्य एवं शान्ति के लिए योग" in Devnagri Script and "YOGA FOR HARMONY AND PEACE" around the logo and design.

The  Government of India has the sole right to mint coins. The responsibility for coinage vests with the Government of India in terms of the Coinage Act, 1906 as amended from time to time. The designing and minting of coins in various denominations is also the responsibility of the Government of India. Coins are minted at the four India Government Mints at Mumbai, Alipore(Kolkata), Saifabad(Hyderabad), Cherlapally (Hyderabad) and NOIDA (UP). The coins are issued for circulation only through the Reserve Bank in terms of the RBI Act.   Coins in India are presently being issued in denominations of 50 paise, one rupee, two rupees and five rupees. Coins of  50 paise are called 'small coins' and coins of Rupee one and above are called 'Rupee Coins'. Coins can be issued up to the denomination of Rs.1000 as per the Coinage Act, 1906.

Coinage of India, issued by imperial dynasties and middle kingdoms - Cowry shells was first used in India as commodity money.  Metal currency was minted in India  during the famed  Mauryan Empire.    Coins of the Indian rupee were first minted in 1950. New coins have been produced annually since then and they make up a valuable aspect of the Indian currency system.  After Indian independence, British Indian coins were in use as a frozen currency until India became a republic in 1950. 

The first rupee coins of the Republic of India were minted in 1950. These included 1/2 rupee, 1/4 rupee, 2 anna, 1 anna, 1/2 anna & 1 pice coins, and are referred to as the anna series or pre-decimal coinage. Under the anna series, one rupee was divided into 16 annas or 64 pice, with each anna equal to 4 pice. In 1957, India shifted to the decimal system, though for a short period of time, both decimal and non-decimal coins were in circulation. To distinguish between the two pice coins in circulation, the coins minted between 1957 and 1964 were printed with the legend “Naya Paisa” (“New Paisa”).  The word "naya" was dropped in 1964 and a new denomination, the 3 paisa, was introduced into circulation.  Stainless steel coinage of 10, 25 and 50 paisa was introduced in 1988.  In 2005, the 10 rupee coin was minted for the first time.  On 30 June 2011, all coins in denominations of 25 paisa and below were officially demonetised.

Now it is the 10 rupee coin that is at the centre of controversy making the need for Indian Central Bank to send out   hundreds of millions of text messages   to protect the value of the Indian currency. It's powerful evidence of just how seriously governments take their task of ensuring the illusion that the cash in our pockets actually has value.  The issue is rather  simple: at some pockets especially in rural India,  people don't seem to believe that the 10 rupee coins are real and, as a result, they are unwilling to accept them.

Factually,  14 different kinds of 10 rupee coins have been issued by the bank between 2009 and 2017 ~ social media adding to the confusion circulating stories that a  man on his way to a job interview was forced to get off the bus because the conductor wouldn't accept 10 rupee coins, the only currency he had ! (there can be another movie on what happened to him by not attending the interview or a girl intervening to buy a ticket and a different story thereafter !)

Me too received a text   from the central bank urging me to accept the 10 rupee coins "without fear". The no. when called had a   recorded message, explaining that the Indian government has minted a number of different 10 rupee coins over the years, each with a different pattern, and that all are valid.  Members of the public should, it exhorted, "continue to accept coins of the 10 rupee denomination as legal tender in all their transactions without any hesitation".

Currencies are legal tender  - you take it for some service – and are able to buy anything of its value with everybody accepting it – other than the trouble of carrying coins in bulk, there should be no other impediment.  The worth of money isn't based on the inherent value of the paper or metal - it's forged from a collective act of trust.   The Indian central bank's PR offensive in defence of the 10 rupee coin is an attempt to ensure that the peoples' faith in the rest of the country's cash isn't undermined.

The recent circular issued by Reserve Bank of India reads :  It has come to the notice of RBI  that in certain places there is reluctance on part of traders and members of public to accept 10 coins due to suspicion about their genuineness. It is clarified that the Reserve Bank puts into circulation, the coins minted by mints, which are under the Government of India. These coins have distinctive features to reflect various themes of economic, social and cultural values and are introduced from time to time. As coins have longer life, coins of different designs and shapes circulate in the market at the same time. So far the Reserve Bank has issued 10 coins in 14 designs and the public has been informed of their distinctive features through Press Releases (list appended). All these coins are legal tender and can be accepted for transactions. The Reserve Bank has also advised banks to accept coins for transactions and exchange at all their branches.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Feb 2018.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bhuvi's achievement .. Captain of the Year ~ mating call of Tree Crickets

Everyone wants to present themselves in the best light - especially when it comes to finding a partner. Some rely on supplying honest information about their attributes while others exaggerate for good effect.

Could still remember that debut ball with which Bhuvi started his ODI career at Chepauk on Dec 30, 2012 against Pakistan  ~ Bhuvneshwar Kumar – a big inswinger from outside off, Mohammed Hafeez thought he was just letting it go harmlessly, as it came back took the Offstump .. .. after his recent success in T20 in SA, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is now the first Indian to have a five-for in each format. The economy rate of a run a ball too matters more - this in turn brings wickets, sometimes for other bowlers but, like on Sunday evening, for Bhuvneshwar himself.

Steven Smith, Nathan Lyon, Heather Knight, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Amir are among the winners of the ESPNcricinfo Awards for the best performances in cricket in 2017.  Knight, the England Women captain, who led her side to the World Cup title, won the Captain of the Year award over Smith, Virat Kohli and Sarfraz Ahmed. It was the first time women were nominated in the category.  The T20I batting award went to Evin Lewis, who made 125 not out, the highest score in a T20I chase, in Kingston against India. Yuzvendra Chahal was voted the T20I bowling winner for his 6 for 25 against England in Bengaluru.  Kuldeep Yadav was adjudged Debutant of the year. Yadav, whose first international wicket was David Warner, in the Dharamsala Test, ended the year with 43 international wickets at 22.18, well ahead of his nearest spin rival on the shortlist, Pakistan legspinner Shadab Khan, who took 34 wickets at 25.35.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith believes Aiden Markram's appointment as interim captain for the ODIs against India was "not the right decision," and hopes that his confidence hasn't taken a dent after the home team was comprehensively beaten 5-1.  Smith, who was himself handed the captaincy as a 22-year old after South Africa's early exit from the 2003 World Cup, said 23-year old Markram, who had only played two ODIs before he was thrust into the role, should have been allowed to "grow, develop and become a strong player." Markram made 8, 32, 22, 32 and 24 in five innings as captain, and finished the series with 127 runs at an average of just over 21.

Cricket is not all about players, statistics, winning and more ~ there could be some more too.   Tree crickets are insects of order Orthoptera. These crickets are in the subfamily Oecanthinae of the family Gryllidae .. .. How do you find a mate when you are just two centimetres in size and there aren’t very many who match your profile?

An old trick is to draw attention to yourself by creating a lot of noise. But the tiny tree crickets have taken this a step further: they amplify their mating calls using loudspeakers that they themselves build using leaves.  The Hindu reports that  scientists have discovered that the loudspeakers they make are almost maximally optimised for the purpose at hand: transform any given leaf into the best ‘amplifier’ it could be.

When these ingenious insects rub their wings together to generate sound, they also engineer a biological contraption known as a ‘baffle,’ which increases its volume. They do this by cutting a neat hole near the centre of a leaf, adjusting themselves within the hole, and flapping their wings against the leaf surface, thereby using it as a megaphone. A group of scientists from the United Kingdom and India studied how these insects (male Oecanthus henryi) selected the leaves and cut the holes. The findings were published recently in the journal eLife.

The team observed that the insects always followed three design rules for making the baffle: use the largest available leaf; make a hole the size of the wings and place the wings at the centre; and make the hole as close to the centre of the leaf as possible. They invariably select the best leaf and modify it appropriately, all in a single attempt. “Brain size is often conflated with intelligence. We ought to look at insects a bit harder and even what we think is stereotyped may not be so. Making baffles is almost certainly an inherited behaviour....and not really studied that much. When given a choice of two leaves, they always pick the bigger. They exercise what we call material selectivity. When it’s hard to find large leaves, they don’t waste time on the small leaves that make poor baffles,” writes Natasha Mhatre, who was part of the team at the University of Bristol, that conducted the study and the first author of the paper.

In an email to The Hindu, Rittik Deb of the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, and co-author of the paper, says: “The discovery that tree crickets can optimise acoustic baffles means we are just about beginning to tap into under-appreciated intelligence of insects.”

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th Feb 2018.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Super rats at Johannesburg and Indian win in T20

“Super rats” are multiplying at a rapid rate across Johannesburg, according to a report by the Sunday Times. The report stated that the rats are becoming bigger and smarter, and a record 661g “Ratzilla” was recently caught by a rat expert in the city.  Johannesburg’s environmental health department said it is concerned by how quickly the rats are breeding, while the report stated an abundance of food for the rodents means their numbers are thriving. “There is evidence that rat-bite incidents in the city are increasing and that is an indication that there are more rodents, which is a huge concern,” the city’s environmental health department told the Sunday Times.  “Reports from city officials show that the rodents were biting residents at a rate of at least a dozen incidents a day,” stated the report. This puts people at risk of contracting rat-bite fever and other diseases.

A Johannesburg man who pretended to be an employee of Johannesburg Water‚ has been arrested for allegedly scamming and soliciting bribes from residents for water services. He was arrested by the Hawks after allegedly attempting to solicit a R2‚000 bribe from a resident in Westdene. “The suspect‚  has been operating for quite some time and extorting monies from residents whose water bills were in arrears in places like Brixton‚ Westdene‚ Aucklandpark‚ Sophiatown‚ Bosmont‚ Riverlea‚ Westbury and Newlands. He reconnected water supply to houses that were cut off after being paid by the residents‚” said a statement from the mayor’s office.  The suspect allegedly approached a chairperson of a sectional title building which houses students after services to the building were cut off due to late or non-payment‚ indicating to the resident that the water supply would be reconnected if he was given R4‚500‚ which the resident paid.

On to the field for first T20 match between India and South Africa, it has been good – unbelievably good run extending from that Test win – to 5-1 in ODIs to win in T20. Christiaan Jonker, Junior Dala and Heinrich Klaasen are the three new faces in South Africa's squad for the three-match T20I series; JP Duminy  is the Captain.  Jonker was not in the squad – other two made their debut – Suresh Raina made a comeback after long years – incidentally India played their first ever T20 at Johannesburg in Dec 1 2006 and do you know the man of the match, who is in the squad now ???

Back home, the Honorable Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (COA) announced cash rewards for the victorious India U19 team that won the ICC U19 World Cup in New Zealand after beating Australia in the final.   Mr Rahul Dravid, Head Coach India U19 – INR 50 lakhs ; Members of India U19 team – INR 30 lakhs each and Members of the Support Staff, India U19 – INR 20 lakhs each

At Johannesburg, the score card reads :  India 203 for 5 (Dhawan 72, Dala 2-47) beat South Africa 175 for 9 (Hendricks 70, Behardien 39, Bhuvneshwar 5-24) by 28 runs.  On a flat pitch, in the thin air of the Highveld, India's batsmen piled up 203 for 5, and that total proved more than adequate against a South African line-up missing a number of its biggest names. A 28-run win, with starring roles for Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, gave India a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20I series, but they may not have left the Wanderers entirely thrilled about their performance, particularly with the bat.

India's batting in T20s often seems more risk-averse than the format demands, built on a platform-setting template borrowed from ODIs. This innings was different. Short and wide bowling from Dane Paterson to Rohit Sharma allowed them to plunder 18 from the first over, but they kept going after the bowling even when it wasn't so charitable. Suresh Raina took it to an extreme, exposing all his stumps and slogging at everything to score a chancy 15 off 7 at No. 3. Dhawan also kept going hard, his top-edged hoicks over the keeper making the same impact on the scorecard as his pristinely-timed flicks over square leg and slaps either side of point.  When SA batted and when there were some hopes of their reaching the target, the prime difference was the class of Bhuvaneswar kumar who had a flattering figure of 4-0-24-5 and naturally winning the Man of the Match.

Back to that India’s first T20 which was won – the team was Virendar Sehwag©;  Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Mongia, MS Dhoni †, KD Karthik, Suresh Raina,  Irfan  Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Z Khan, AB Agarkar &  S Sreesanth. It was not a tall score – still 9 were required off the last with Dinesh Karthik and Raina batting.  DK hit the first ball of Peterson for a 6 – then it was 0,1,1,1 – India winning with a ball to spare.  Though not the top scorer, DK was the Man of the match .. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Feb 2018.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ever tasted Rasam prepared in Eeya Chembu " ஈயச் செம்பு ரசம் " ? -

In this mystic land of Thiruvallikkeni (Triplicane) – there is so much.  The International Tin Council (ITC) was an organisation which acted on behalf of major tin producers and consumers to control the International tin market. It is no longer active.  An International Tin Study Group, which was established in 1947 to survey world supply of and demand for tin, led to the treaty, the International Tin Agreement, signed in 1954, and the formation of the ITC in 1956.

எனது சின்ன வயது நாட்களில் தெருக்களில் ரொம்ப கரகர குரலுடன் ஒருவர்  சைக்கிள் தள்ளிக்கொண்டு ' பழைய ஈயசெம்பு  பித்தளை பாத்திரங்களுக்கு பேரிச்சம் பழம்' என கூவுவார்.  கரகாட்டக்காரனில் இதே டயலாக்  - குள்ளமணி, ராமராஜனின் கார் அருகே வந்து கூவ கௌண்டமணி டென்ஷன் ஆக, செந்தில் உதை வாங்குவது சரி காமெடி.  திருவிழா நாட்களில் (திருவல்லிக்கேணியில் தெப்பம்) ஒரு தள்ளு வண்டியில் அம்பாரமாய் பேரிச்சம் பழம் குவிந்து இருக்கும் ~ இன்றைய சூழ்நிலையில், நாம் அழகாக பேக்கிங் செய்து இருந்தால் மட்டுமே வாங்க விழைவோம்....  இதை தவிர, பழைய பாத்திரங்களுக்கு, நெருப்பு மூட்டி, ஒரு புரியாத செயல்பாட்டில் ஈயம் பூசுவோரும் உண்டு.  அடுப்புக்கரி போட்டு, ஒரு உபகரணத்தை அழுத்தி, அழுத்தி, கற்று மூலம் ஜ்வாலை, கொழுந்துவிட்டு எரிய, பாத்திரங்களில் உள்பக்கம் ஈயம் பூசப்படும். 

A google search on ‘Eeyam (ஈயம்) led me to reading the following :  ஈயம் (Lead) ஒரு வேதியியல் உலோகம் ஆகும். இதன் தனிம அட்டவணைக் குறியீடு Pb. இதன் அணுவெண் 82. இது ஒரு மென்மையான உலோகம் அகும். இது தட்டாக்கக்கூடிய பார உலோகமாகும். இது வளியுடன் இலகுவில் தாக்கமடைவதால் இதன் மீது காணப்படும் ஒக்சைட்டுப் படை இதனை அழகற்ற சாம்பல் நிறப்பொருளாகக் காட்டும். எனினும் வெட்டியவுடன் வெள்ளி போல பளபளக்கும். இதுவே மிகவும் அதிக திணிவுடைய கருவுள்ள நிலைப்புத்தன்மையுடைய (கதிர்த்தொழிற்பாற்ற) தனிமமாகும்.

Of the many things that I do not know :  Lead & Tin metal are different. (ஈயம் வேறு காரீயம் வேறு).. .. ..  .. ..   Though the above article shows  Eeyam as Lead, there is world of difference.  Lead is a chemical element with symbol Pb (from the Latin plumbum) and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials.  Before you read anything further,  contrary to popular belief, pencil leads in wooden pencils have never been made from lead. When the pencil originated as a wrapped graphite writing tool, the particular type of graphite used was named plumbago (literally, act for lead or lead mockup).

Tin, on the other hand,  is a natural element in the earth's crust. It is a soft,  an almost silver-white, ductile, malleable, lustrous solid silvery metal that does not dissolve in water. It is present in brass, bronze, pewter, and some soldering materials. Tin metal is used to line cans for food, beverages, and aerosols. Tin can combine with other chemicals to form compounds. Combinations with chemicals like chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen are called inorganic tin compounds (i. e. , stannous chloride, stannous sulfide, stannic oxide). These are used in toothpaste, perfumes, soaps, food additives and dyes.    Tin is a chemical element with symbol Sn (from Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a post-transition metal in group 14 of the periodic table. It is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, which contains tin dioxide, SnO2.

Metallic tin is not easily oxidized in air. The first alloy used on a large scale was bronze, made of tin and copper, from very old days, later came the usage of  pure metallic tin.  Pewter, which is an alloy of 85–90% tin with the remainder commonly consisting of copper, antimony, and lead, was used for flatware from the Bronze Age until the 20th century. In modern times, tin is used in many alloys, most notably tin/lead soft solders, which are typically 60% or more tin and in the manufacture of transparent, electrically conducting films of indium tin oxide in optoelectronic applications. Another large application for tin is corrosion-resistant tin plating of steel.  Web info reveals that the patent for canning in sheet tin was secured in 1810 in England, legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier experimented with a solution for provisioning the French army while in the field by adapting the tin lining techniques used for his cookware to more robust steel containers (then only lately introduced for canning) which protected the cans from corrosion and soldiers from lead solder and botulism poisoning.

Tin linings sufficiently robust for cooking are wiped onto copper by hand, producing a .25–45-mm-thick lining.  For a period following the Second World War, pure nickel was electroplated as a lining to copper cookware.  Till a few decades ago, most households would have ‘eeya chembu (vessel made of tin metal’ – especially for making ‘rasam’ and for curdling.  South Indian meals is not complete without ‘Rasam’ – the liquid made of tamarind, coriander seed, pepper, cumin seeds, red chilie, salt, thoor dal water, asafetida, and smashed tomato.   There are fine variants like – ‘tomato rasam’, ‘inji (ginger)  rasam’  ‘pine-apple rasam’ – ‘lime rasam’, ‘milagu rasam’, ‘paruppu rasam’, ‘veppampoo rasam (neem flower), ‘poondu rasam’ – [besides all these there is always the famous rasam of home, which you always appreciate irrespective of its flavor !]

Have you tasted ‘rasam in eeya utensil’ – or have you seen one recently .. here are some photos of ‘tin metal in billet’ and the utensils made of this tin metal.  Triplicane, [more specifically the area around the erstwhile Sri Parthasarathi Swami sabha in Venkat Rangam Street]  housed some industries – engaged in eversilver ware and tin-ware too.  Slowly most of them have winded down.  Nearer my house, still stands a small shop engaged in making tin-utensils used for cooking, supplying to all shops in Chennai – most of which are made to order and according to its owner, they are still fast moving.  The raw-material is mostly imported from Malaysia and is reportedly around Rs.2600/- per kg – the making is hard and requires strenuous labour.

If you get excited reading this and plan to venture into making rasam on a eeya-paathiram,  beware, it is not easy – it  requires care while using the vessel, - the utensil could melt very easily and if left on hot oven, in a few minutes one may end up seeing a blob of silvery-white metal. 

                      In making rasam, the liquid content should not be too low in quantity and gas stove should not be on high – keep it just simmering, and you are sure to experience a great taste in the rasam at home. Happy cooking !!  ~  sadly, like many other things that have vanished, these may not be available for the next generation – the Karagattakkaran comedy of Sentil – Goundamani on ‘ Pazhaya eeya pathirathukku perichampazham’ may not be understood as the relevance may not be understood.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Feb 2018.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Eden park massacre ~ Indian men and Women win at South Africa

Long long ago ! ~ the game of Cricket was a match between bowlers and batsmen and bowlers did have an upperhand ??  I have not heard much of ~  D'Arcy John Matthew Short ~ the left handed opener for Hobart Hurricanes who can bowl slow spin too.  He was the man of the match at Auckland. 

The iconic ground's straight boundaries are among the shortest in world cricket, making it sorely tempting for batsmen to attempt belting a six over the bowler's head.  In 1902, Harry Ryan, a young, passionate cricketer, stood on Kingsland Road which strewn with stones, rocky outcrops and cowpats with a low-lying swamp at the bottom.  He saw a cricket ground. This was to become Eden Park.  In 1910 the Park became the home of Auckland Cricket.  Eden Park is New Zealand's largest stadium, located in central Auckland. 

Remember those good olden days when India won a Test in New Zealand in Auckland ~  Test no. 769 in Jan 1976.  Remember reading about the Test in ‘The Hindu’ and partially hearing commentary in the mornings of January 1976 –Kiwis were led by Glenn Turner, a legend those times.  Playing first they were all out for 266 with Chandrasekhar taking 6/94. Sunil Gavaskar led India in the absence of an injured Bishan Bedi.  Gavaskar made a patient 116 and was over taken by Surinder Amarnath who made a fine 124 with 16 fours and 1 six.   It was a time when it was  8 balls per over.   Alongside Surinder – Kirmani and Dilip Vengsarkar were to make their debuts and went on to play much longer than Surinder did.  

First, the happy news ~ India won the ODI series rather easily (5 – 1) – I had never imagined such a result.  The summary reads India 206 for 2 (Kohli 129*, Rahane 34*) beat South Africa 204 (Zondo 54, Thakur 4-52) by eight wickets.  Confidence and form are two of the most influential factors in batting. They often dictate timing and placement - requisites for scoring runs. South Africa have lacked both after their sub-par performances this series.  In  good batting conditions in Centurion, South Africa's batsmen grappled with their own lack of confidence and India's disciplined bowling, resulting in another mediocre total. Shardul Thakur, playing his first match of the series, led another clinical display from India with figures of 4 for 52 as South Africa were bowled out for 204.   On the other end of that form spectrum lies Virat Kohli. With 429 runs in five games prior to the final ODI, Kohli was oozing confidence. Against a jaded bowling attack, and with all that belief, his 35th  ODI hundred was almost a formality. It helped India coast to an eight-wicket win, and take the six-match series 5-1. Kohli finished with 558 runs in six matches, the most by a batsman in a bilateral series.

Away in Eden Park, in Newzealand it was a massacre – in 38.5 overs,  New Zealand and Australia pillaged a phenomenal 488 runs, with Australia  setting a new record by pulling off the highest successful T20 chase.  488 The run aggregate in this match - the second-highest ever in T20Is. The overall record, which this match missed by one run, was set in the India-West Indies clash in Lauderhill in 2016. 32 Number of sixes in the match - the joint-highest in a T20I, equaling the 32 struck by West Indies and India in Lauderhill in 2016. New Zealand's 18 sixes were also their highest in an innings.

The scorecard would never reveal the deathknell of the bowlers .. Australia 245 for 5 (Short 76, Warner 59) beat New Zealand 243 for 6 (Guptill 105, Munro 76) by five wickets.   Martin Guptill's 49-ball hundred - and a host of other records were rendered useless by  D'Arcy Short and David Warner hammering aggressive fifties to set the tone of the reply and Australia's middle order kept the pedal to the metal at a stage where New Zealand had stuttered to seal victory with more than an over to spare. The stands were peppered for 32 sixes -  the sufferers were the bowlers.   AJ Tye conceded 64 from his four overs, soothed a modicum by two wickets, but he could probably spare some sympathy for New Zealand's Wheeler, who was left with 0 for 64 from just 3.1. Perversely, the most economical bowler on either side - Ashton Agar - did not deliver his full quota.

I cannot comprehend how Short was given the man of the match.  Martin Guptill made 105 off just 54 balls with 9 sixers; while Short made 76 off 44 with 3 sixers – Aussie won and Short was the man !!  ~ it is stated that a strong 33692 spectators watched the match at venue.  There were some catches – made as also put down -  Mitchell Grimstone, a 20-year-old student, earned himself NZD50,000 courtesy of a local drinks sponsor when he leaned over the railing at deep midwicket to pluck Ross Taylor's penultimate-ball six out of the air with his left hand. His reaction was priceless (or, well, worth 50K) as he was mobbed by those next to him in the stands. "I'm not left-handed," he said. "But somehow I put it there and it stuck, and then everyone was jumping over me."

At South Africa Indian women too are making merry ~ after the great show in ODIs – they beat SA again in T20.  India women 144 for 1 (Raj 76*, Mandhana 57, Daniels 1-21) beat South Africa women 142 for 7 (Luus 33, de Klerk 26, Poonam 2-18, Anuja 2-37) by nine wickets.  A century opening stand, underpinned by fifties from Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandhana, handed South Africa a nine-wicket drubbing in East London and helped India go 2-0 up in the five-match T20I series with five balls to spare. Steering the 143 chase, Raj became the first woman to score four consecutive T20I half-centuries. 

Smaller grounds, like in Auckland, Napier and Christchurch at present, mean bigger totals as teams struggle to defend the boundaries.  In grounds like Eden Park, bowlers would only run in trepidation as even a mishit could soar beyond the boundary !  ~  the boundary at one part of the oval measured only 51 metres.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Feb 2018.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

brave soldiers risk lives to carry injured to safety & treated ~ not humans but ants ! story..

Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae;  along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. More than 12,500 out of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals.   Fire ants are a variety of stinging ants with over 285 species worldwide. They have several common names, including ginger ants, tropical fire ants and red ants.

Set in the modern times, an elderly veteran visits the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial with his family. Upon seeing one particular grave, he falls to his knees overcome with emotion. The scene then shifts to the morning of June 6, 1944, as American soldiers land on Omaha Beach as part of the Normandy Invasion. They suffer heavy losses in assaulting German positions defended by artillery and machine guns. Captain John H. Miller of the 2nd Ranger Battalion assembles a group to penetrate the German defenses, leading to a breakout from the beach. Elsewhere on the beach, a dead soldier is face down in the bloody surf; his pack is stenciled Ryan, S.

In Washington, D.C., at the U.S. War Department, General George Marshall learns that three of the four brothers of the Ryan family were killed in action and that the fourth son, James, has been parachuted somewhere in Normandy. After reading Abraham Lincoln's Bixby letter aloud for his staff, he orders that James Ryan be found and returned home immediately. Three days after D-Day, Miller receives orders to find Ryan and bring him back from the front. He assembles six men from his company— they  move out to Neuville, where they meet a squad from the 101st Airborne Division,  in pursuit,  they eventually encounter a friend of James Ryan, who tells them that he is defending an important bridge in the town of Ramelle.

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic war drama film directed by Steven Spielberg. M Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is notable for its graphic portrayal of war, and for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which includes a depiction of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings.  The film received widespread critical acclaim, winning several awards for film, cast, and crew, as well as earning significant returns at the box office.

It's a scene familiar from countless war films — the brave soldiers risking their lives to carry an injured comrade to safety, the noble casualty insisting they go on and leave him to die.    But it’s not  human warriors who act so selflessly.  A study has shown that ants do exactly the same in battle.  Live Science has this interesting article that a species of warmongering sub-Saharan ant not only rescues its battle-wounded soldiers but also treats their injuries.

This strikingly unusual behavior raises the survival rate for injured ants from a mere 20 percent to 90 percent, according to new research published Feb. 13 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  These same ants, a species called Megaponera analis, were observed last year bringing their injured back to the nest, but no one knew what happened to the wounded ants after that, said study leader Erik Frank, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Now, it's clear that the ants get extra TLC after being saved from the battlefield.

M. analis is a nondescript-looking species that lives in colonies of several hundred to over a thousand ants. They're skilled raiders, sending out columns of several hundred ants to attack termite nests and drag termite corpses back to their own nests for a feast. These raids, however, often come with a cost: ants with lost or crushed limbs, or even ants limping home with tenacious termites clinging to their bodies.  To find out the real happening, the  researchers  staged raids between the ants and captive termites, observing how the ants responded to heavily injured ants with five limbs crushed or amputated versus lightly injured ants with only two lost or damaged limbs.  They found that in the vast majority of cases, severely injured ants were left to die on the battlefield. This version of ant triage wasn't at the behest of the rescuers, Frank said; instead, ants with five missing limbs flailed, rotated and generally refused to cooperate with their rescuers. Ants with two lost limbs, on the other hand, curled up into easy-to-carry balls and let themselves be taken home.

"If you're able to stand up, you're very likely not too injured and you are still useful to the colony, so you should be able to call for help and be rescued," Frank said. Once back at the nest, healthy ants would attend to the wounded, licking their injuries for sometimes up to minutes at a time. Ants that were prevented from getting this treatment had an 80-percent chance of dying within 24 hours, the researchers found, whereas ants that were cared for had only a 10-percent chance of death. To find out what was killing the injured, untreated ants, the researchers relocated some to a sterile environment and found that only 20 percent died, indicating that infections are probably the biggest risk for injured ants.

Any uninjured ant seems capable of providing the licking treatment — there's no indication of dedicated ant "medics," Frank said — but it's not yet clear whether the treatment prevents infections or actively treats them. Either way, the behavior is exciting to see because it's extremely rare to observe any individual animal treating another's wounds in any species, Frank said. It's especially counterintuitive in ants, because the tendency is to think that ant individuals are easily replaced cogs in the machinery of the colony, he said. But in M. analis, colonies aren't that large, and only a dozen or so baby ants are born each day, Frank said.

Interesting !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Risk ~ insurance - and the ones photographers take !!!

Photographer’s enthusiasm knows no bounds when they are trying to take pictures – and I was more than a bit worried in the two photos that I am posting here.

Risk is the potential of gaining or losing something of value. Values (such as physical health, social status, emotional well-being, or financial wealth) can be gained or lost when taking risk resulting from a given action or inaction, foreseen or unforeseen (planned or not planned). Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction with uncertainty.   Every  human endeavour carries some risk, but some are much riskier than others.  There are many risk classifications such as :  Pure, Speculative, Particular, Fundamental, Static, Dynamic, Financial and more .. ‘not all risks are insurable’ – though the fundamental of insurance is risk coverage !

The Winter Olympics is on – and its concluding smoothly without a hitch will provide the Organisers a toast of success and Insurers would be celebrating with profit.   The Games are being staged about two hours' drive from one of the world's most heavily militarised borders, in a host country that is technically at war with its neighbor (yet participating as one Unit !!)  and with teams that include two nations -- the United States and North Korea -- which have swapped nuclear threats. There are also concerns among Olympic organisers and sponsors that the Games, at the ski resort of Pyeongchang, could become a target of cyber hacking, a threat that could disrupt competition in the event of a major cyber attack.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reportedly taken insurance  protection for around $800 million at each Games, which covers the vast majority of the roughly $1 billion investment it makes in each of the host cities.  The coverage includes  pay out for a range of mishaps, ranging up to declarations of war, actual war, or acts of war.   The IOC declined to reveal the premium it has paid for the Pyeongchang, but insurers said it was likely to be around 2-3 percent of the total cover.   At the IOC's coverage of about $800 million, this would represent a cost of around $16-24 million. One underwriter said this would be relatively high and could reflect the greater security risks surrounding the Pyeongchang event. At the summer Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, when worries were centred on an outbreak of Zika virus, and at London in 2012, the IOC paid premiums of about $13 million.

Getting back, there are moments whence photographers break conventional methods, trying for great angles and rare photos.  First is to get out of their comfortable zone ! trying out something new, warding off stagnation.  Though having a good mentor helps in having your basics right, there is no stopping when it comes to innovation

in the first friend Rajagopal Madhavan standing on a truck covering purappadu at Thiruneermalai  (Pic Keshav Rajagopalan)
~ the one above was taken from mid sea in a catamaran during masimagam by Thirumalai Vinjamoor Venkatesh.

Elsewhere in UK, MailOnline reports of the  moment a driver risked his life and stood in the middle of a busy motorway so he could take some photos.  It appears that the man had just been involved in a collision and had decided to risk traffic for some photographic evidence.  The footage, filmed on the A45 near Northampton, shows the brazen man standing in the middle of three lanes of traffic and almost getting hit by two cars before having to jog away. In what could be termed as negligence, the man in the video looks to be in danger of being hit from two sides as he plants himself in the centre of the road to snap the photo.  Video of the incident also shows that one of the motorists involved in the collision stopped in the fast lane of the 70mph dual carriageway in Northampton without his hazard lights on. It describes the scene as  the shocking moment a man was almost hit by two cars as he stood in the middle of a busy road in order to take a photo - the one who uploaded captioned the clip: 'It's not a good idea to stand in a live lane to take a photo.'

The footage begins with Karl's vehicle in the middle lane as he approaches a busy roundabout. As he gets closer to the roundabout, two black vehicles in front of him have slowed down - and a man wearing a black jacket can be seen standing in the middle of the road taking a picture.  This forces the first car to swerve to the right to avoid the man while the second vehicle has to weave around him too.  The footage, captured on a dashcam, shows the man standing brazenly in the middle of three lanes of traffic on a busy motorway.  The man finally gets himself off the road realizing the danger , and approaches another man wearing a white shirt and tie, who appears to be the other motorist involved in the collision.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Feb 2018.
Tailpiece :  Risk is a 2017 American documentary film written and directed by Laura Poitras about the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  The film's original premise was to address the life of Julian Assange, documenting scenes showing "motives and contradictions of Assange and his inner circle, focusing on the risks taken by persons involved in the well-known Wikileaks website, the most notable risk being taken by Assange himself. The film then presents documentation of Assange's asylum claim, and the disguising of himself to sneak into the Embassy of Ecuador in London for refuge.  Originally titled "Asylum", the film becomes a journey into the perception of Poitras, who, in the re-cut of the film, altered the film's focus on the experience of risk-taking left-leaning media work, towards a critique of Assange as a flawed character under attack, including for his alleged mistreatment of women.