Monday, March 30, 2020

Addiction, Obsession ~ Freecell Card game


In a Cricket crazy Nation, the word obsession may not need any lengthy elaboration. I do not have an answer for the Q – whether  the obsession for Cinema is more ?

Beyond the hype, this contest can perhaps be best viewed through the prism of the two captains. Shahid Afridi is the passionate, exhibitionist leader who doesn't mind showing his emotions on the field.  MS Dhoni is the uber-cool captain and, while he can be vocal while dealing with the press, he is almost invisible on the field. Silent nods of appreciation, a quiet word in the ear, calm instructions, a shrug of the shoulder is all you will get from him. And again, it's what this star-heavy team needs. Someone who can be calm and remind them of the basics of the game… so a great India Vs Pakistan match ? -  wondering what ?  - on this day 30.3.2011 occurred the 2nd Semi Finals of WC 2011 between India and Pakistan at Mohali ~ and Espn Cricinfo is brining it ‘retrolive’ .. ..

For those who cannot live without reading on Cricket -  BCCI along with its affiliated state associations will contribute INR 51 crore (USD 6.8 million approx.) towards the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund to help India fight the coronavirus pandemic,  a BCCI release said on Saturday.

Leave aside Cricket or Cinema – how does your day start ?  - for most South Indians, it starts with a steaming hot tumbler of ‘filter coffee’  -  coffee is a comforting ritual that signifies the start of a new day and gives them energy to start that new day.  About 75 to 80 percent of people in the world drink caffeinated beverages regularly. In the United States, the amount of caffeine intake increases by age, peaking in the 50 to 64 age group. Coffee is the main source of caffeine, followed by carbonated soft drinks and teas.


Our neighbouring State is a different mix.  The alcohol ban in Kerala seems to be killing more people than the virus itself in the state, which has one of India’s highest per capita liquor consumption. The state, like the rest of India, was forced to go dry in the wake of the ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown. In the past week, seven people committed suicide out of depression over not being able to buy alcohol in Kerala, while the virus has resulted in one casualty so far ! Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government was mulling the possibility of supplying liquor to alcohol addicts as the closure of bars and state-run beverage outlets during the lockdown period was creating social problems.

Before you ridicule it as addiction – think of your addiction or obsession.  When the average person thinks about addiction, most think about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and maybe shopping or gambling. When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they are chemically dependent on the drug. People who suffer from addiction many times also have other co-occurring disorders, such as obsessive/compulsive disorder. There is a strong correlation between addiction and obsessions.  An obsession is a ritualistic routine that becomes part of your normal life. Medically speaking it is a persistent preoccupation of a feeling or idea, which can be accompanied by anxiety. Obsessions can include excessive hand washing or repetitive counting.

An obsession and an addiction can look the same but the root is different.  For instance, if one is in the habit of playing cards for stakes every week spending approx. Rs. 2000 – is this addictive or obsessive could be the Q ?  - if he cannot remain without playing even for a week and if on a holiday he has the itch of playing and starts quarrelling with everyone when not allowed to – it is addiction.  A gambler would keep playing irrespective of whether he is winning, whether the partners are changing, whether there is change in venue or whatsoever.  If he wants to play every day at the same place and cannot remain without going to that place, perhaps that is obsession.  Addicts will slowly start dreaming on  how the money will be spent, what will be bought, and who will benefit from the winnings.  The dreaming is active, enticing, exciting, and consuming an entire day of thinking about the possibilities.

The adjective ‘obsessed’  would mean :  unable to stop thinking about something; too interested in or worried about something.  One of the common definitions of an obsession is “a idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.” A person can be obsessed with an activity, a thought, a story, another person; the list is almost endless. This can become problematic in some instances when a person only wants to think or talk about one thing.

A diamond solitaire refers to any piece of jewelry with a single diamond. Diamond solitaires can be a ring, necklace, earring or even men's jewelry. This is not on diamond solitaire, but my obsession on a Card game Solitaire –‘freecell’.

Be it a marriage, function, cinema hall, cricket match, office, lecture room, class room or what .. .. people are obsessively involved in touching their mobile screens – checking for social media and playing games ! ~ I claim that I can live without mobile for a day or two – though me too have great obsession for social media.  We also see, people madly playing various computer games, especially on their smart phones -   their impulse control isn’t as strong.   It’s rather humiliating, since I’ve always been someone who adapted well to a disciplined schedule.  Me too am addicted to one particular game ‘Freecell’ – I played almost all the time I open my Computer at home and when I close it ! ~ for sure, have never played it on office machine or on office laptop.   The card games are no doubt interesting and challenging too !

While Cards offer various probabilities – here it is 52! (i.e., 52 factorial), or approximately 8×1067, distinct deals. However, some games are effectively identical to others because suits assigned to cards are arbitrary or columns can be swapped. After taking these factors into account, there are approximately 1.75×1064 distinct games, is how the challenge is described.

For those uninitiated - Freecell game - one standard 52 card deck – there are 4 open cells and 4 open foundations – there are some alternates too.  Cards are dealt face-up into eight cascades, four of which comprise seven cards each and four of which comprise six cards each.

The lure of FreeCell, a highly strategic solitaire game that can be summoned with just a click or two on the desktop is very seductive challenging you to win the deck.  It is winnable but could be challenging.  To me, the challenge is one last single click that arranges all the remaining cards – so of the 52 at what stage do you get that single click possibility is the fantasizing Q.  Today I got it at 46 i.e., only 6 cards stacked  – 46 cards remaining and putting 5 Spades (attached 4 dice)  into 6 possible places, (4 empty top space or below 6 hearts or first empty stack ends the game on a victory note !. 


            FreeCell can be traced back to the mid-1970's, when a version was written by Paul Alfille in Tutor, a programming language designed for the University of Illinois's computer system. Until it was included with Windows 95 as a game accessory within the operating system, it remained relatively obscure. Now it is an integral part of Microsoft operating system. Microsoft has included a FreeCell computer game with every release of the Windows operating system since 1995, greatly contributing to the game's popularity. Nearly every FreeCell game can be won. Only one of the 32,000 deals in the Microsoft Windows version has been deemed impossible: No.11,982 is one bad trip.  Using the basic deal numbering system that virtually all FreeCell games use, game #11982 is the first unwinnable game of FreeCell. ... After that only the games #146692, #186216, #455889, #495505, #512118, #517776, and #781948 are unsolvable out of the first million games. Therefore, unsolvable games of FreeCell are literally eight out of a million.

So how obsessed are you ? after my  #metoo confession !  .. .. Obsession is a 1976 psychological thriller film directed by Brian De Palma, starring Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold.   The story is about a New Orleans businessman who is haunted by guilt following the death of his wife and daughter during a kidnapping-rescue attempt. Years after the tragedy, he meets and falls in love with a young woman who is the exact look-alike of his long dead wife.

Obsession ~ Freecell and .. .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30.3.2020.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Night flight to Venus - clear sky - enjoy the planet nearer Moon


Even during the melee of Covid-19, something else too is happening – we are hearing more birds chirping, animal noises, generally calm atmosphere and night sky is beautiful .. .  tried capturing Moon and Venus together but failed !!

To commemorate the conclusion of Women’s History Month, celebrated annually in the month of March, the U.S. sports network ESPN is dedicating  a full day of programming to historic moments in women’s sports on Sunday, March 29, and both Serena and Venus Williams will play a starring role.  The programming block will begin at 4 a.m. ET on ESPN2, with an airing of Nine for IX: Venus vs., and run throughout the day.   The film, produced by famed American filmmaker Ava DuVernay and released in 2013, chronicles Venus Williams’ fight for equal pay for women at Wimbledon that began in 2005.

Have heard of this song ‘Night flight to Venus’ .. …   the third studio album by Euro-Caribbean group Boney M., released in July 1978. The album became a major success in continental Europe, Scandinavia, and Canada, topping most of the album charts during the second half of 1978 and also became their first UK number one album. In Canada, it received a nomination for a 1980 Juno Award in a category 'International Album of the Year'. Nightflight to Venus includes their worldwide hits "Rivers of Babylon" and "Brown Girl in the Ring".  Boney M. group was  created by German record producer Frank Farian. Originally based in West Germany, the four original members of the group's official line-up were Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett from Jamaica, Maizie Williams from Montserrat and Bobby Farrell, a performing artist from Aruba.

Global leaders, celebrities, individuals and businesses from 190 countries and territories came together on Saturday, 28th March, to lend their support for the planet. A people-led movement, Earth Hour 2020 beautifully exemplified the resilience of the human spirit amid a crisis. At a time when people across the globe are battling a health crisis of an unforeseen scale, and many countries are under complete lockdown, supporters rose to the challenge of marking Earth Hour with online events.

Some websites directed that after Sunset, we could see  a beautiful pairing of the moon and Venus – and they can be seen without a telescope – generally in cities we don’t get to see clearer skies – due to city light refraction.  Read with interest that the  moon will be very close to Venus both Friday and Saturday evenings. The moon will be 11.4% illuminated Friday evening. On Saturday, the moon will be much brighter at 18.3% illuminated. The two are the brightest objects in the night sky.

Venus is in the sky until nearly midnight! Venus will remain high in the evening sky through April. But then it will drop quickly toward the horizon through the month in May as it swings to a position between us and the sun.  These Venus-moon rendezvous occur on roughly a monthly schedule. If Venus were stationary and did not appear to move against the star background, a Venus-moon encounter would occur every 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes. This is called a "sidereal month," which is the length of time it takes the moon to circle Earth once using the background stars as a reference point.

Venus, the second planet from the sun, is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty and is the only planet named after a female. Venus may have been named after the most beautiful deity of the pantheon because it shone the brightest among the five planets known to ancient astronomers. In ancient times, Venus was often thought to be two different stars, the evening star and the morning star — that is, the ones that first appeared at sunset and sunrise. In Latin, they were respectively known as Vesper and Lucifer.  However, further observations of Venus in the space age show a very hellish environment. This makes Venus a very difficult planet to observe from up close, because spacecraft do not survive long on its surface.

As the second-brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon, Venus can cast shadows and, rarely, is visible to the naked eye in broad daylight. Venus lies within Earth's orbit, and so never appears to venture far from the Sun, either setting in the west just after dusk or rising in the east a bit before dawn. Venus and Earth are often called twins because they are similar in size, mass, density, composition and gravity. The size of Venus is only a little smaller than our home planet, with a mass that's about 80% of Earth's.

Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system. Although Venus is not the planet closest to the sun, its dense atmosphere traps heat in a runaway version of the greenhouse effect that warms Earth. As a result, temperatures on Venus reach 880 degrees Fahrenheit (471 degrees Celsius), which is more than hot enough to melt lead. Spacecraft have survived only a few hours after landing on the planet before being destroyed.  Venus takes 243 Earth days to rotate on its axis, which is by far the slowest of any of the major planets. And, because of this sluggish spin, its metal core cannot generate a magnetic field similar to Earth's. The magnetic field of Venus is 0.000015 times that of Earth's magnetic field.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29.3.2020.

fight against Corona - TN does well; JCT Phagwara achieves ! & China sells and ...


In a month or two – Corona, Pandemic have become common names, read, shared and more so, feared by millions.

US  President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to the “Chinese virus” when talking about the pandemic. Some  of his critics insist the term is racist, echoing official Chinese talking points.  World Health Organization officials warned against calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” saying that it could unintentionally lead to racial profiling.  Since emerging from Wuhan, China, just over three months ago, the new coronavirus has spread to almost every country around the world. To some Western media, the crisis is inherently political because it was caused in part by incompetent, malicious, and corrupt politicians. To ignore the political dimension of the coronavirus pandemic is an excellent way to ensure it happens again. If we do not want another global pandemic, we have to hold accountable the politicians responsible for making it worse, chief among them Chinese President Xi Jinping. He did not create the novel coronavirus, but his government’s missteps are directly responsible for its global transmission and uncontrolled spread, with all its terrible consequences to populations and economies around the world, wrote a popular media.

A global pandemic is not a blind force of nature independent of human agency. It is a failure of governance. An analogy with famines is useful.

For some positive news – TN Govt – CM and Health Minister are doing great job in trying to contain spread of virus.  Health Minister Mr C Vijaya Baskar is virtually everywhere – travelling, being with people, with health officials and personally supervising the arrangements.  Another good news is that Phagwara-based Jagatjit Cotton Textiles (JCT) Mills Limited is all set to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals and frontline workers engaged in testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients.  The PPE suit, also known as hazmat (hazardous materials suit), by JCT Mills has been cleared and certified for production by SITRA (South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) Coimbatore) — an industry sponsored, Union government supported renowned research institute in the textiles sector.

Caveat emptor is Latin for "Let the buyer beware". It has become a proverb in English. Generally, caveat emptor is the contract law principle that controls the sale of real property after the date of closing, but may also apply to sales of other goods. The phrase caveat emptor and its use as a disclaimer of warranties arise from the fact that buyers typically have less information than the seller about the good or service they are purchasing.

An Airbus plane landed in Spain on Saturday (Mar 28) carrying a cargo of more than 4 million face masks from China, the European planemaker said, as countries race to source more protective gear as they battle the coronavirus pandemic. Low on supplies or money, traditional American allies like Spain, Italy, France and Japan have had to turn to China for help. "China creates the poison and sells the solution to it," foreign affairs expert Gordon Chang told Fox News. China has used its money, medical equipment and teams of doctors and nurses in a high-stakes campaign to show the world that while the United States scrambles to contain the novel coronavirus within its borders, China is busy moving in on some of America's closest allies.

"Never let a good crisis go to waste," a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center, wrote. "There is no better illustration that the medical supplies and crews of doctors China has been supplying to Italy and other European countries battling COVID-19. Beijing does carry a large share of the blame for the global pandemic... but now it seeks to shape the narrative of the crisis unfolding before our eyes.  China has also been floating the idea that it has donated all of the medical supplies out of concern for the world. That's not the case, Chang said. "A lot of the stuff that China claims has been donated has not been donate," he said. "It's been sold." China has come through for several countries but, in some, it has fallen short of expectations.

People in the United States  and Europe  are wrong not to wear face masks in public during the Covid-19  pandemic, according to the head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. “The big mistake in the US and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks,” Gao Fu, the agency’s director general, said in an interview with Science Magazine, one of the world’s leading academic journals. “This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact,” he said. “Droplets play a very important role – you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth.” Not everyone agrees with Gao’s assessment, however. The World Health Organisation  (WHO), for instance, says that only people showing symptoms of infection or those caring for someone that has Covid-19 needs to wear a  face mask.  The European and US disease control and prevention centres take a similar view to the WHO. But Gao said people should err on the side of caution.

But Beijing’s efforts – which state media has called “China’s solution to fight the pandemic” – have had a mixed response, and analysts say its “mask diplomacy” will do little to convince critics in the West. The US Army Europe said it had delivered medical supplies and equipment – including hospital beds, mattresses and adjustable IV poles – from its base in the Italian port city of Livorno to the hard-hit region of Lombardy. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier that the country had offered more than US$100 million in medical aid to other nations – including long-time enemy Iran.


Spain’s capital has stopped using a rapid Covid-19 test kit made by a Chinese company after research suggested it was not accurate enough.   In Spain, Health Minister Salvador Illa announced Wednesday that the country had bought $467 million in medical supplies from China, including 950 ventilators, 5.5 million testing kits, 11 million gloves and more than half a billion protective face masks. Soon after receiving the supplies, the Spanish government announced plans to return 9,000 "quick result" test kits to China, El Pais reported, because they were deemed substandard, specifically the sensibility of the test was around 30 percent, when it should be higher than 80 percent. China admitted that the kits they sold to Spain were bought from Bioeasy, a Chinese company not licensed to make them. The time and money Spain wasted on faulty supplies could have devastating effects on a country that is now in its second week of a national lockdown after cases of COVID-19 spiked.

The Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC), one of Spain’s leading research institutes, said on its website it had found that nose swabs developed by Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology had an accuracy rate of less than 30 per cent.  It is not Spain alone.   Dutch officials have recalled 600,000 face masks manufactured in China because they did not meet quality standards, the government’s health ministry said on Saturday. The news shocked frontline medical staff in the Netherlands, who rely on high-quality products to protect them from contracting Covid-19, Dutch public broadcaster NOS said. Half of the shipment of 1.3 million supposedly top-of-the-line face masks – known as N95 in the United States and Hong Kong – had already been distributed to doctors and nurses treating the most critical Covid-19 patients, the government said.

Sad – the acts of China seems outrightly  bad and are highly condemnable!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29.3.2020

Saturday, March 28, 2020

do not overstock - leave food items for everyone ! - life is all about sharing


When there is National crisis, the first victim is truth – never hear rumours, never spread them – in fact never post anything without checking its veracity and usefulness.  I have become a great fan of Dr C Vijayabaskar, Health Minister of Tamilnadu.  Just follow him on twitter – such factual updates – he is visiting Hospitals, is found with health-workers and is virtually everywhere – very positive man, energetic and extremely effective.  Appreciate your efforts Sir !

For those at home and those who are unable to move – first concern other than the spread of virus is food.  For us, the staple food is rice.  It is imperative that people do not hoard or stockpile food material thereby making lives of others miserable.  See it as a short-term crisis, this shall pass over in a few days is the hope.  Here is some news on rice.

Vietnam’s rice traders have halted overseas shipments after the customs department ordered a temporary suspension of exports on Tuesday to ensure food security during the coronavirus pandemic. The country is the world’s third-largest exporter, behind India and Thailand.

Back in Tamilnadu the Govt headed by Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami is taking lot of measures.  The Govt is providing financial assistance of Rs.1,000 to all ration card holders.  The Govt is also providing free rice, cooking oil, sugar and other essential commodities.  The communique said that these essential items will be issued on a token basis to avoid the long queue.  Those who could not get the ration items in March can get them in April, the CM added. Severe restrictive measures are in place across the State - all the district borders have been sealed. Only vehicles carrying essential commodities are being allowed.


In Hongkong, two people were  arrested for allegedly stealing rice from a supermarket amid fears of a food shortage in Hong Kong due to the coronavirus pandemic  and the government’s social-distancing measures for restaurants. The men, from Nepal and Bangladesh, were stopped by officers outside Aeon supermarket on Tak Hong Street, Hung Hom.  Six packs of rice, weighing 12kg in total, were found on them. Officers believed they had been stolen from the supermarket. The cases came to light as many Hongkongers thronged supermarkets to stock up on rice, amid worries that Vietnamese authorities might ban rice exports to ensure domestic food security.

In Vietnam,  Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc  ordered the suspension of new rice export contracts through at least March 28. The country is the world’s third-largest exporter, behind India and Thailand. The department of state reserves will also stockpile 80,000 tons of paddy rice this year. In 2019, the department put in storage 200,000 tons of rice and 80,000 tons of paddy rice for the entire year, he added.  Vietnam said on Friday it planned to stockpile rice and suspend new rice export contracts by the end of the month to ensure it could feed its own population through the public health crisis. Thailand’s declaration of a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday to fight the pandemic also added to fears over rice supply.

The move comes amid worldwide food security concerns as the virus threat spreads, with some governments contemplating restricting the flow of staple food out of their countries. In Russia, the vegetable oils union has called for a restriction on sunflower seed exports, and Kazakhstan has suspended exports of goods such as buckwheat, sugar, and sunflower oil until the middle of next month. Reuters reported that Vietnam’s export ban would have a significant short-term effect on global rice supply. “If Vietnam maintains the export ban, we will suddenly have about 10-15 per cent less available supply in the world market in the near term,” one European rice trader was quoted as saying. “Africa especially could face disruption from this.”

Concerns have been compounded by India, the top global rice exporter, entering a three-week lockdown  that brought several logistics channels to a halt, disrupting food supply chains. Some critics stated that export ban  would damage Vietnam’s credibility as a reliable supplier of rice in International market, an effect that could outlast the outbreak, undermining Vietnam’s ability to secure international sales well into the year, if not longer.

In all these, what is required is not to resort to panic buying and having stockpile of more than what is necessary.  Data from the US Department of Agriculture shows that combined global production of rice and wheat is expected be 1.26 billion tonnes this year, which would surpass the total combined consumption of those crops. But these projections assume normal crop flows, and prices for rice are already rising due to expectations of a further squeeze on exports.

Let it be a simple logistics issue and nothing farther as we sit at home and fight the dreaded virus.  Here is a citizen Garima Gupta sharing food items to the needy – appreciate noble souls like her.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28.3.2020.

Friday, March 27, 2020

what connects famous Cognac to home grown Veldt grapes ?


Cognac is a variety of brandy named after the commune of Cognac, France. It is produced in the surrounding wine-growing regions.  Over the centuries,  Cognac has been almost universally recognised as the finest of all the spirits that are distilled from grapes. It has many incomparable qualities: fruitiness, subtlety of bouquet, intensity, warmth and, above all, the complexity of the many thousands of styles and flavours.  At least 90% of the brandy must be comprised of those grapes, while an additional 10% can be made of other kinds, such as Semillon, Folignan, & more..  Grapes ! ~ do you like them most?


A grape is a fruit, botanically a berry, of the deciduous woody vines of the flowering plant genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten fresh as table grapes or they can be used for making wine, jam, grape juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, vinegar, and grape seed oil.  Ever heard of ‘veldt-grapes’ ?

An old book on recipe for making appalams read : mix the cumin seeds with the flour, pour in the asafoetida water and the salted pirandai water ! ~ if you are wondering curious what ?  for – veldt-grape – it is pirandai !!

நமது இல்லங்களில் பத்திய சாப்பாட்டிலும், இதர சில சமயங்களிலும் 'பிரண்டை' துவையலை பயன்படுத்துவது உண்டு.   பிரண்டைத் தண்டுகளின் மேல் தோலை அகற்ற்றி, அதில் உள்ள நாரையும் அகற்றிவிட்டு சிறு துண்டுகளாக நறுக்கி நல்லெண்ணெய் அல்லது நெய்யில் வதக்க வேண்டும். அதனுடன் காய்ந்த மிளகாய், புளி, உப்பு சேர்த்து அரைக்க வேண்டும். சுவைக்காக தேங்காய், உளுந்து சேர்த்துக்கொள்ளலாம். பிறகு, கடுகு, உளுந்தம்பருப்பு தாளித்த துவையலை சாதத்துடன் பிசைந்து சாப்பிடலாம்.

பிரண்டை கொடி வகை தாவரம்.  இதற்கு பல மருத்துவ குணங்கள் உண்டு.  பிரண்டை - உடல் சுறுசுறுப்பை அதிகரிக்கச் செய்யும்; ஞாபகசக்தியை பெருக்கும்; மூளை நரம்புகளை பலப்படுத்தும்; எலும்புகளுக்கு சக்தி தரும். ஈறுகளில் ஏற்படும் ரத்தக்கசிவை நிறுத்துவதுடன் வாய்வுப் பிடிப்பைப் போக்கும்.   இதற்கு, `வஜ்ஜிரவல்லி’ என்ற பெயரும் உண்டு. `Cissus quadrangularis’ என்ற தாவரவியல் பெயர்கொண்ட இது, கொடி வகையைச் சேர்ந்தது.

Maharashtra’s grape growers are in a tight spot with the export of about 35,000 tons stuck due to the coronavirus spread.   The maximum number of grape consignments are exported to  Netherlands,  followed by the UK  and Germany.  Due to Covid related issues, it is reported that almost  30 per cent of the grapes are still in the fields. Lockdowns and depleting demand for grapes abroad is  a cause for concern for farmers. The demand in supermarkets in the UK and Germany has gone down drastically, according to exporters.

In France, Cognac makers are considering overturning longstanding tradition and turning to new grape varieties, as the main cultivar required to make the spirit struggles with the effects of global warming. Cognac’s star grape, Ugni blanc, which accounts for 98% of the vines in the Cognac region, is ripening quicker and losing acidity as summers become hotter and drier. The rules that govern the French brandy are among the strictest in the drinks world, and are subject to controlled appellation of origin (AOC) specifications. Each stage of the spirit’s production, including the types of grapes that can be used, is outlined in its AOC.



This is no post on    Brandy, Spirit, distillation, Cognac  or even grapes – it is on veldt-grape !

The Vitaceae are a family of dicotyledonous flowering plants including the grapevine and Virginia creeper. The family name is derived from the genus Vitis.  Though by looks it is totally unrelated cousin, ‘Cissus quadrangularis’ (பிரண்டை)  is a perennial plant of the grape family. It is commonly known as veldt grape, devil's backbone, adamant creeper, asthisamharaka, hadjod and pirandai.  The species is native to tropical Asia, Arabia and much of Africa.

Cissus quadrangularis has been used as a medicinal plant since antiquity.  Cissus has been used in various Ayurvedic classical medicines to heal broken bones and injured ligaments and tendons. In siddha medicine it is considered a tonic and analgesic. The Assamese people and the Garo tribe of Meghalaya and Bangladesh use them for bone fracture.

I never knew that Pirandai too blooms ~ and here are some photos of the pirandai plant in our terrace.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27.3.2020
Pictures of pirandai plant – wife’s terrace garden !!




Thursday, March 26, 2020

man who fashioned famous Indian win ~ now fights Covid on the streets of Haryana


India at home – our Prime Minister has requested us to remain at home for 21 days in our fight against the dreaded Corona.  We are expected to simply follow and be at home ~ yet, some fools go around, forget the need for ‘social distancing’ – they are exposing themselves as also other citizens to Covid-19 threat.  A video showing a Police Office pleading to fall at the feet of people requesting them not to venture out went viral – there are some where police punishes those straying – punishments perhaps work better.

The job of law enforcing agencies and that of Medical fraternity is the toughest now – as they brave the virus and fight to save the Nation.  A top  Haryanvi Police Officer   has posted some photos on Twitter, in which he is seen doing service on roads.  He  has also advised everyone by posting a photo and has written in the caption that ' defending oneself can save us from coronavirus, fight together and help us by staying at home' – can you identify this famous personality ? – here is another photo of the same person with folded hands standing in front of holy Kedarnath.

That picture froze in the minds of Indian cricket lovers ~ an Indian win in the World Cup –  that too the inaugural one ~ and the man in the frame, little known ……….  .. ..  For some life is always difficult ~ one falls quite often but still contrive to stand up tall !  Quite often, we think that some achieve greatness easily and for some greatness is thrust upon.  Tinseldom is one place, where we assume that people rise to the top so easily and sports, especially Cricket is another.  India cricketers go through a grind ~ they play at University level, play league cricket; rise to play for the top teams in 1st Div league; represent their State and Zone and eventually would get to play for the Nation.

Certainly not easy ~ though we hear some rise meteorically – beating their components and getting Indian jersey.  May be a good opener, middle order, good fielder, good wicket keeper, spinner, pacer, swing bowler, all-rounder – you are spotted by a IPL franchisee, play a couple of matches, swing around swivel to the top, earn a lot of money in the process ~ luckier enough if you get an opportunity of an Indian cap ~ perform well in a match, rise to starhood, become a permanent fixture in the squad !! – Sounds so sweet and so easy.

Not many of us would have followed that match at Chinnaswamy stadium on 29th Sept 2004 between India A and Indian Seniors – the Cricinfo caption read “India A take charge despite Ganguly's efforts”.  The score card read : India A 302 and 47 for 1 (Jadhav 27*) lead India Seniors 213 (Ganguly 65, Joginder 3-42, Bhandari 3-56) by 136 runs.  If you read it even now, you may not observe that  unheralded Joginder Sharma, playing as a substitute for Ashish Nehra, who went over on his left ankle again, embarrassed the cream of India's batting talent as India A took charge of the warm-up game against India Seniors. With Amit Bhandari, who removed both the openers, and Murali Kartik providing sterling support, the Seniors were bowled out for just 213 in reply to India A's 302.

At New Wanderers way back on 24th  Sept 2007, that one delivery remains frozen in the memories of all cricket lovers – Misbah bends to play that fatal scoop; ball going high on the air, landing in the hands of Sreesanth ~ the bowler was Joginder Sharma……………. later played for Chennai Super Kings too…….  Surprised to see that the bowler who bowled that last over in the nail-baiting traumatic finals did not play a single T20 after that !!!! ~ that is not all – you have more surprises when you read to follow the Haryanvi all-rounder’s career.  He has played 4 One dayers and 4 T20s for the Nation.  His last match was epochal – the finals of inaugural T20 World Cup; India won by 5 runs.  India scored 157 ; there was Rudra Pratap Singh, S Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan. 

That scoop of Misbah-ul-Haq is history now. Pakistan started the final over needing a manageable 13, though with their last pair at the crease. Dhoni surprised everybody by asking Joginder to bowl that last over.   That became 12 from six after Joginder Sharma bowled the widest of wides, then 12 from five after Misbah played and missed. He played and hit next time, launching Sharma's nervy full toss down the ground. Six from four; one stroke would do it.  Joginder was only of modest pace but  Misbah's shot proved too ambitious ; the Wanderers erupted in deafening ecstasy.

Back home, he was rewarded with a IPL cap, that too for Chennai Super Kings ~ but could not get enough opportunities in the starpacked side.  Eventually, he found himself alongside, George Bailey; Doug Bollinger; Suraj Randiv; Scott Styris; Yo Mahesh; Abhinav Mukund; Sudeep Tyagi; K. Vasudevadas and Ganapathi Vignesh ~ the unfortunate ones to be released by the Franchisee, left out of the squad.

Life was tough for this mentally tough Haryanvi.  In Nov 2011, Joginder was seriously injured when his car rammed into a BPO vehicle in Dwarka in south-west Delhi.  Joginder was reportedly driving, suffered head injuries and was taken to a private hospital in the area. He was later shifted to another hospital in Pashim Vihar where he underwent a surgery. "I had a major head injury, fracture and clotting, was in the ICU, needed head surgery and about 40-45 stitches," recounts the Haryana allrounder Joginder Sharma, talking about his car accident last November which nearly ended his cricketing career.

A year on, he  returned to the Ranji circuit, signing autographs as a knot of kids surround him before the day's play in the cricketing outback of Hubli. It was a difficult journey back to the field for the man who has been the cornerstone of Haryana's Ranji side for several seasons.  Doctors had remarked at that time ‘Kuch bhi ho sakta hain (anything can happen).’ But Joginder was man possessed, determined to play again.  He attributes a lot to  physio Amit Tyagi who has helped him recuperate.  Perhaps more than the stress of the final over, the mental trauma of getting back was a bigger challenge ~  breaking down the psychological barrier was the most important thing. Joginder has had plenty of injury problems in the past couple of years, even before the accident: an ankle problem that needed surgery and a neck injury as well, and there was more trouble on the comeback trail.

The man in uniform at the start is, none other than ‘Joginder Sharma’. a Deputy Commissioner with Haryana Police.  The man who bowled India to victory is now fighting fit in khaki uniform, fighting the Corona virus on the streets. 

Salute the indomitable spirit of Joginder ji.  Hats Off to you Sir

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26.3.2020.

#Socialdistancing - Lockdown - Vijayawada shows the way !!


One picture seen on twitter made me post this ~ and am really moved by this thoughtful act by the people and Govt.   River Krishna,  is the fourth longest river which flows entirely in India, after the Ganges, Godavari and Narmada. One for sure would not miss the long bridge on this river nearer Bejawada [Vijayawada station]. 

Covid-19 – imperative that you stay at home ! ~ no reasons are good enough. Just be at home.   BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has come forward in support of those affected by the 21-day lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, pledging to donate rice worth Rs 50 lakh for the underprivileged.  Ganguly along with Lal Baba Rice will provide for the needy people who have been put in government schools for safety and security, the Cricket Association of Bengal announced in a statement.

"Inspiring to see people across India coming together despite being physically apart to applaud workers on the frontlines combatting COVID-19," Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells said in a tweet on Monday.  The UN has expressed solidarity with India in its fight against coronavirus, with a top official at the world body's health agency praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 21-day nationwide lockdown as a "comprehensive and robust" response to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

In one country after the other, lockdowns have emerged as the key response against the coronavirus pandemic. There are, however, significant differences between lockdowns across the countries, and these variations have an impact on a nation’s ability to contain the spread of Covid-19 and reduce fatalities.  China, the epicenter of the coronavirus, implemented the harshest form of lockdown in Wuhan after nearly 30 deaths had occurred. In about two months, China  managed to bring down the number of daily new cases to single digits.  In contrast, Italy — the new epicenter — implemented a gradual and less stringent nationwide lockdown that began only after 800 deaths. As a consequence, Italy is nowhere close to China when it comes to bringing the outbreak under control.

At least 3,700 persons were arrested on charges of violating the island-wide police curfew currently in effect in Sri Lanka as a preventive measure against the coronavirus pandemic, according to the senior officer on Thursday. A total of 702 vehicles, including motorcycles and three-wheelers were also seized by the police, he further added. On Friday, the Sri Lankan government had announced a nationwide curfew until March 23 as a preventive measure against the coronavirus pandemic.

We the citizens of India must abide by all the instructions and ensure that our Nation emerges unscathed – winning the dreaded Corona Virus and here is how one city shows us the way .. if our city is not so, we should feel ashamed !


Bezawada (as Vijayawada was known then) was founded around 626 A.D. by Paricchedi Kings. Vijayawada was ruled by King Madhava Varma  of Vishnukundina dynasty).   Chinese  traveller Xuanzang stayed a few years in Bezawada in around 640 A.D.

Earlier known as Bezawada, Vijayawada is a Commercial city with a hot climate – you can feel the heat as the train enters this region ~ Indian Railways has assigned the station code - "BZA".  This politically active city is well connected by road, air and more specifically by rail.  It is a major Railway junction located in South Central Railway.  Trains from Tamilnadu towards Hyderabad pass through ~ trains to Howrah & beyond; the National Capital and beyond – all have to compulsorily pass through this Junction.  The station has 10 platforms and is one of the busiest with more than 250 express and 150 freight trains passing through it.  The station was constructed in 1888 when the Southern Maharatta Railway's main eastward route was connected with other lines going through Vijayawada. By some accounts, an average of 70,000 people board different trains each day and an equal number of commuters exit trains at the station.

This is not about the history or of the culture of the people but how the people of Vijayawada and the Govt has reacted positively to lockdown announced by the Govt.  The ever busy Railway station, the city streaming with visitors from neighbouring State and districts – all appeared a thing of the past – as lockdown was announced.

Andhra Pradesh Govt has swiftly shifted Rytu bazaars (Govt run vegetable markets) where farmers directly sell vegetables in Vijayawada to nearer open grounds to ensure Social distancing among people.  Photos on twitter show demarcations clearly made to keep distance between people while they stand and people faithfully following them.

Hail thy people; hail their discipline – Vijayawada is a shining example.  Let us follow them.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26.3.2020.
PS  :  In 2011 a Telegu film based on vijaywada gang war - directed by Vivek Krishna and produced by Ram Gopal Varma, featuring  Naga Chaitanya and Amala Paul was released.  It reportedly was a disaster in box office.