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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Aquarium - 'Katsugyo' bags .. .. portable tanks for live fish carriage !!

I realized a bit late that – ‘do you like fish’ can have different meaning depending on the person to whom it is posed !

Are you attracted to ‘fish’ as pets ? – have you raised aquarium at home ?? – it is stated that  smaller fish have shorter lives. Some have less than a year ! While in their natural environs, they are at the mercy of bigger fishes and other predators including humans, most  domestic fish too,  do not live as long as they could. Improper care and poor environment usually lead to early death in many species.  

An aquarium can range from a small glass bowl to immense public aquaria that house entire ecosystems such as kelp forests. It generally has at  least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept and displayed. The term, coined by English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, combines the Latin root aqua, meaning water, with the suffix -arium, meaning "a place for relating to".  For many of us, it is so enchanting to keep looking at fish swimming whether in a pond or in an aquarium.  Fish keeping is a popular hobby which sure would give you lot of mental peace and tranquility.   

the sandy shores of  ‘Marina beach’ known for its  pristine beautiful sandy shores   has a long history, conceived in 1884 and christened by Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant-Duff, the then governor of Madras.  Over the years, lot has changed – the ‘radio beach’ no longer exists – behind the Kannagi statue stood ‘Seerani Arangam’- the Thilagar Thidal place on which so many meetings were held.  Opposite to Presidency College, there was a promenade – a  radio kept on a pedestal, people would gather around to hear ‘maanila seithigal’ – the news in Tamil. There used to be many shops selling sea-shells, conches, and more – and of course lot of food ~from cut mangoes, sugarcane juice, murukku, thenga-manga-pattani-sundal and bajji shops [a particular shop run by an old lady – mami bajji shop  was a great hit]

Of the many missing is the  free water booth maintained by Rajasthani Youth Association, the Mail van that used to collect letters at Marina in the evenings till 06.30 pm, Public library ……………..and….. the aquarium ~not a big one, rather small one – having some 30 odd water tanks and not many exotic fish – have seen star fish, star tortoise and seahorses among other things here.

A few  decades ago, all houses in Triplicane [and other areas like Mylapore, Mambalam, Saidapet] had wells ~ to prevent breeding of mosquitoes, Corporation officials would visit houses and drop some quantity of pesticide in the well. Guppies were bred in temple tanks and other ponds – Corporation official would visit home with an  earthen pond having hundreds of fish – and he would drop a handful of them into the well [everytime, we would take few of them and grow them in Horlicks bottles ! – their tails were attractive]. Interestingly, Guppies would look ugly when viewed from top and beautiful when viewed from the sides of the bottle or tank !

This actually is not an interesting news to ‘aquarium pet’ lovers though it is about an equipment for carefully handling fish (though the intention is far different) – a  new hand-held accessory that doubles up as a portable fish tank is set to launch in Japan. The bonkers new device - known as a 'Katsugyo bag' allows wearers to show off their expensive market-bought fish as they carry it home. The product will launch as soon as it has passed testing.

An Instagram page showcasing the unusual design already as thousands of followers with many asking about the cost. A caption for the handheld tank claims the product is being developed by a company named MA Corporation. The post reads in Japanese:  'Under development - this fish bag, a product that carries fish 'live'.  The portable tank will launch as soon as developers have finished 'verifying' and testing the product with operation checks and the product would enable users carry  around their pet fish or any aquamarine animal bought at a market.  

'Bring the fish you caught and the live fish you bought at the market to your home. We are working to spread live fish.' The handheld fish tank is shaped in a long tube with a transparent middle section to show off the fish with a handle on top and gauge that monitors the oxygen saturation of the water.  Another Instagram post caption reads: 'It is divided into two units of the body, and when you put in fish, you can remove the aquarium, store the fish, then connect it to the main body and turn on the power. 'You can carry the fish, so it is relatively easy to use. Oxygen supply and water temperature maintenance are possible.  

No details were offered of how long the power is expected to last. Users on Twitter were left in stitches at the unusual design and joked they would take their pet fish for a walk in it.  Users were left baffled and amused with by the bizarre design, with one asking if they were a bad fish-owner if they didn't take theirs for a walk.

A translation of 'Katsugyo' refers to a restaurant tank in which live shellfish and lobster are kept in.  .. .. and the intention is to take the fish live and fresh home for .. .. … eating !! 

About a decade and half  or so back, the aquarium at Marina was closed,  may be ravaged by Indian Ocean tsunami – the building in Marina next to swimming pool was  demolished and moved to Zoological Survey of India premises at Foreshore estate. Somehow, I could not visit this as a couple of times found it closed for strange reasons – perhaps its entry timings are more like an office – ‘9 to 5’ and closed on weekends and Govt holidays !!!  - sometime later, Fisheries Minister made an announcement on the floor of the house that Marina would soon have a state-of-art aquarium .. .. obvious, the priorities now is not aquarium.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th May 2021. 

the HERO who put Mathalamparai, Tenkasi on global map .. donates


My brother and co-founder Kumar visited the Honorable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to hand over our Rs. 5 crore contribution to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund, read a tweet of a person whom we must adore, admire and hero-worship !  

Sundarapandiapuram is a panchayat town in Tenkasi district, known for its scenic beauty,  and this became a household name after Maniratnam film ‘Roja’.  Now searching the web about this GREAT HERO, I read that his father hailed from -  Chidambaranathapuram, a small village  around 30 km down the Kaveri, not far from the Kollidam branch of the river.   Our hero was born and spent his childhood here.  

Serious Software, Friendly Company.  ~ reads their Web.  Software is our craft and our passion. At Zoho, we create beautiful software to solve business problems. We believe that software is the ultimate product of the mind and the hands.

This company was earlier known as   AdventNet, Inc. AdventNet expanded operations into Japan in 2001.  In 2009, the company was renamed Zoho Corporation after its online office suite.  It was not only change in the name but a paradigm shift  in geography: While AdventNet Inc was a US company with an India development centre, Zoho Corp is incorporated in India and the company’s Pleasanton, California, centre remains the global headquarters.  Sri Vembu, worked  out of the Pleasanton office which is sales-facing,  then shifted to Chennai and .. .. .. now to Tenkasi, nearer Courtallam.  

‘தேனருவித் திரையெழுப்பி வானின்வழி ஒழுகும்’ is how it is hailed … ‘Thiru Kutrala Kuravanchi’ written by ThiruKooda Rasappa Kavirayar praises the place Courtallam and ThiruKutrala Nathar, the deity at this place.

Zoho Corporation, is an Indian multinational technology company that specializes in Software as a service, software development and cloud computing.It is best known for online office suite named Zoho. The company was founded in 1996 by Sridhar Vembu and Tony Thomas and has a presence in seven locations with its global headquarters in Chennai, India, and corporate headquarters in Pleasanton, California.

One of its branches is located in Tenkasi, situate about 620 kms away from Chennai in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.   Tenkasi, which means ‘Kasi of the South’ is located in the foothills of the Western Ghats, and is dotted by many magical waterfalls, beautifully carved temples, and lush green rice fields. No matter where you go, you cannot escape the sea of greenery, intermittently marked by towering palm trees. In the midst of these beatific green fields, there once lay an abandoned, nondescript fruit pulp manufacturing building. One would still mistake it to be an insignificant structure while passing through this small town but for the small billboard on the gate which reads – Zoho.

What brewed out of this Tenkasi centre is something that will put it right up there on the world map – Zoho’s sixth product – Zoho Desk – the industry’s first context–rich help desk software built right out of rural India. Or as Sridhar Vembu, founder and CEO of Zoho speaks of it – “Made in rural India, Made for the world.”  Nine years ago, a Chennai-headquartered software products firm purchased 4 acres of land in one of the villages, Mathalamparai, to begin operations from the district— roughly 650 km from the Tamil Nadu capital. 

Sri Sridhar Vembu, its  founder, born in a village in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district into a family of farmers, studied at IIT,  went on to study at Princeton University, New Jersey, work at Qualcomm in San Diego, California, and later live in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, had a vision: To take Silicon Valley to the village. 

Zoho today provides cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solutions and over 40 apps for, among other activities, online accounting, human resource and inventory management. A few of those products, including Zoho Desk, a customer service software, were built out of the Mathalamparai office, vindicating Vembu’s vision that you didn’t have to be in the urban hubs to develop world-class products.

Sridhar Vembu has featured few times in Forbes and every other Business Magazine and   awarded India's fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri, in 2021. 

As of now, Zoho has two rural offices, one in Tenkasi and the other in Renigunta in Andhra Pradesh with 500 of its 9,300 employees globally working out of these; the plan is to have many more of its 8,800 India-based employees working out of non-urban India. His motivations to go rural are two-fold: “One, I want my employees to live in these villages because it brings a lot of cross-fertilisation of ideas.  Once some high-earning people come in, they bring in good and bad habits.”  The good stuff, like mentoring and coaching, is what Vembu hopes the city folk can lend to the local youth, who Zoho can then recruit. “So it would be a two-way exchange here... It was a new challenge, but then I decided that if I’m going to start these rural initiatives, I’m going to need to set myself up in the village, too.” A typical day begins at 4 am when he does calls to the US offices. By 6 am, he’s off for a long walk and, on occasion, a swim in the village well. Vembu steps out to the fields to grow paddy, vegetables like tomato, brinjal and okra, and fruits such as mango, watermelon and coconut. Life in Tenkasi opened up new horizons even as the hubs of commerce stayed locked down. 

As India endures a reverse migration of millions, Vembu’s blueprint for a world in which folk get educated in the village and stay back to work there takes on huge meaning.  Even as  Mr  Vembu’s idea of cross-fertilisation begins to play out, he’s also embarked on a mission to build an army of engineers—not those with conventional degrees but those trained in-house. In 2004, the founders started Zoho University, now known as Zoho Schools, to onboard and train students with skillsets and abilities. Students are not charged a fee but are paid a stipend  throughout the tenure of the two-year course.

Building capabilities is Vembu’s idea of wealth creation, not financial valuation. “I am a capitalist and I don’t care about net worth.” He gives the example of Japan to explain (in pre Covid-19 times, of course). “When you go to rural Japan, you can see a wealthy society. Roads are good, infrastructure is great and you don’t see any homeless people, you don’t see any poverty. On the train station, the trains run on time. The trains are clean, high speed trains, all of that. That is wealth. Clearly Japan is wealthy. And to me, wealth actually also connotes resilience. Capital is something that protects you from adversity.”

At dusk, Vembu sets out for another walk in the village, and ruminates: For instance, he observes that farm animals like cows and chicken roam around all day, but they come back at a fixed time—they know what is home. He likes taking long walks and swimming, as these activities allow him the mental space to think. Vembu doesn’t watch TV, but sometimes listens to music. He retires to bed by 8 pm, spending some time reading or online (on Twitter).

(partially excerpted from an article in June 2020 issue of Forbes India).  Go back to read the first para of their donation of Rs. 5 crore to CM’s Fund at Tamil Nadu – and conclude with reading that in Apr 2020, Zoho Corp made a donation of Rs 25 crores to the PM Cares Relief Fund. These are the real heores whom the Society must be admiring !

With great regards to Shri Vembu 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Cheetah .. .. .. to be back in India ... the popular matchbox at home !!

In Tamil comedy film ‘Kalakalappu’, directed by Sundar C ~ Santhanam will show a portrait of a man attacking a cheetah with sickle. Vimal would remark having seen it elsewhere… Santhanam retorts saying that it was his grandfather attacking the tiger – the photo which they later gave to matchbox manufacturer….. to Vimal’s remark that it does not sound believable – Santhanam would say that his grandfather told him that food would be provided only if he believes and would ask Vimal whether he would like to dine or not  !!!  Wimco Limited is a reputed manufacturer and exporter of Cardboard matches, Veneer Matches, Safety Matches, Match Box, Wax Matches and the more… you would know them better by this single product ‘Cheetah fight matchboxes’…..

Cheetah is a marvel ~ the fastest land animal.  Its  slender, long-legged body is built for speed. Cheetahs are tan in color with black spots all over their bodies. They can also be distinguished from other big cats by their smaller size, spotted coats, small heads and ears and distinctive "tear stripes" that stretch from the corner of the eye to the side of the nose. They eat mainly gazelles, wildebeest calves, impalas and smaller hoofed animals. When cheetahs are running, they use their tails to help them steer and turn in the direction they want to go, like the rudder of a boat.

In 1900, there were over 100,000 cheetahs across their historic range. Today, an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs remain in the wild in Africa. One would be surprised to know that they were found throughout India right from the southern part of the Nation.  Found mostly in open and partially open savannah, cheetahs rely on tall grasses for camouflage when hunting.  Surprised to read that they cannot roar !! – typically they are loners.

Their lifespan in the wild is reportedly 10-12 years only.  As it is happening to many, the sleek, speedy cheetah is rapidly heading towards extinction according to a new study into declining numbers.  Fresh reports suggest that  there are just 7,100 of the world's fastest mammals now left in the wild. They are in trouble mainly because they range far beyond protected areas and are coming increasingly into conflict with humans. According to a study, more than half the world's surviving cheetahs live in one population that ranges across six countries in southern Africa. Cheetahs in Asia have been essentially wiped out. A group estimated to number fewer than 50 individuals clings on in Iran. Because the cheetah is one of the widest-ranging carnivores, it roams across lands far outside protected areas. As a result, the animal struggles because these lands are increasingly being developed by farmers and the cheetah's prey is declining because of bushmeat hunting.

In Zimbabwe, the cheetah population has fallen from around 1,200 to just 170 animals in 16 years, with the main cause being major changes in land tenure. The illegal trade in cheetah cubs has been driven by their status as a fashion icon in the Gulf states. Researchers involved with the study say that the threats facing the fabled predator have gone unnoticed for far too long. The young cats can fetch up to $10,000 on the black market. According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, some 1,200 cheetah cubs are known to have been trafficked out of Africa over the past 10 years but around 85% of them died during the journey.

                                         It is stated that till last century, the Asiatic cheetah was quite common and roamed all the way from Israel, the Arabian Peninsula to Iran, Afghanistan and India. In India, they ranged as far south as the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. The Asiatic cheetah, also known as the "hunting leopard" in India was kept by kings and princes to hunt gazelle; the Moghul emperor Akbar kept them for hunting gazelle and blackbucks.  .. .. blackbucks have been hunted for long !! is also the message.

Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park will get African Cheetahs as part of India’s first inter-country big cat relocation project, a senior state forest department official said after the MP government received a confirmation from the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change. Five male cheetahs and three females will be donated by Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) of South Africa, said Alok Kumar, principal chief conservator of forest (Wildlife).

Cheetah, the world's fastest land animal which was declared extinct in India in 1952, is expected to be re-introduced into the country in November this year at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, state Forest Minister Vijay Shah. The country's last spotted cheetah died in Chhattisgarh in 1947 and it was declared extinct in the country in 1952. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) some years back prepared a cheetah re-introduction project. The Supreme Court had earlier given its approval to introduce African cheetahs to a suitable habitat in India on an experimental basis. "We have started the process of creating an enclosure for around 10 cheetahs, including five females, to be brought from South Africa to Kuno in Sheopur district and it is going to be completed by August," Shah told PTI.  Officials from India will be sent to South Africa for sensitisation and training in June and July this year and according to the plan, the transportation of the cheetahs will take place in October and November, he said.

Kuno, located in the Chambal region, is spread over an area of over 750 sq km and has a conducive environment for the cheetah, he said.  The protected area, comprising a considerable population of four-horned antelopes, chinkara, nilgai, wild boar, spotted deer and sambar, has a good prey base for the cheetahs, he added. "According to the approved timeline sent to us by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change this week, the tentative budget outlay of the 'Project Cheetah' is Rs 1,400 lakh for this fiscal," the minister said. An expert from South Africa visited the Kuno National Park on April 26 this year along with scientists from the WII and inspected the facilities and habitat created there for the introduction of African cheetahs. They approved it and now the final process of bringing the cheetah is underway, a forest official said.

“Managing cheetahs is much easier than large carnivores like tigers, lions, and leopards, which we have been doing all these years, as these big cats enter into least conflict with humans,” said Jhala, who was also involved in all the technical aspects of the NTCA’s Project Tiger in 2002. “The main factor that will impact the success of this translocation project is the central government’s political will and allocation of resources and funding,” Jhala added. However, experts also noted that the lack of a separate sanctuary for cheetahs might be a barrier in establishing a viable population in the India. In Africa, 77 per cent of cheetahs live outside protected areas because of other larger predators, all of which compete with cheetahs for prey and also prey on cheetah cubs.  But the Rajasthan government has already filed a petition in the Supreme Court claiming conflict between lions and tigers in Madhya Pradesh because a natural corridor of movement exists between Kuno in MP and Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan.

In neighbouring Bangladesh - the Bengal Tiger and the cheetah have lived side by side in the forest areas of the country’s three hill tract districts during 1980's. The Bengal Tiger is not seen there anymore and now lives in the Sundarbans only. Cheetahs are barely surviving in the forests of the three hill tracts districts and three another forest areas and the cheetah population has fallen low.  According to wildlife researchers and organisations, there are still 30 to 50 cheetahs in the country. A big portion of them live in the forest areas of Khagrachhari, Bandarban and Rangamati. Cheetahs are occasionally seen in Cox's Bazar, several places of Sylhet division and the northern region including Sherpur, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram and Panchagarh.

Miles away, decades ago, there reportedly was organized Cheetah racing in Romford, in UK.   It is alleged that during the late 1930s, cheetah racing took place at a number of venues. Millionaire Kenneth Cecil Gandar-Dower (1908-44), a leading sportsman, aviator, explorer and author, had embarked upon an unsuccessful expedition to Kenya in 1934 to find evidence for the marozi, a spotted lion rumoured to exist there. Returning in December 1936, he brought back to England 12 cheetahs, captured in the woods by farmers.   Rumours abounded that they were for coursing live game and in February 1937, questions were raised in Parliament about his intentions. Public opinion was outraged and two cheetahs were subsequently found dead in their cages by their keeper. Gandar-Dower gave assurances that he was doing nothing illegal or inhumane and set about training the cheetahs to race with the help of Raymond Hook – the anglicised name of Hooku, a ranger from Kenya.

In June 1937, after acclimatisation to their new environment and six months' quarantine at Hackbridge Kennels in Surrey, an Australian.  Ruby Henderson, was enlisted to train and care for the cheetahs at Harringay Stadium. It was stated  that cheetahs responded more readily to females. By the time she became involved, only nine cheetahs remained; these were named Helen, Gussie, Maurice, Luis, Pongo, Sita, Gypsy, James and Michael.  On the first night, three races were included on the race card and the stadium was packed to capacity. The first race, over 265 yards, was between Helen and two greyhounds. She bounded out of her cage leaving the dogs standing, reaching 50mph within two seconds and finishing the tack in 15.86 seconds, breaking the course record.

The astounded audience had never witnessed anything like this before. The national press eagerly published stories about Helen’s success, nicknaming her Queen of the Track. However, the second race, between Gussie and James, was a portent of the shortcomings of racing cheetahs. With Gussie taking the lead, James simply ceased running and lay down, refusing to finish the course.  The earlier excitement generated by the races diminished as predictability of the outcome dawned upon spectators. Although Romford Stadium continued to hold further occasional events involving cheetahs, it was more for spectacle, rather than competition.

With hindsight, cheetah racing had been ill-considered. Cheetahs are solitary hunters and expend a phenomenal level of physical exertion when catching their prey, usually necessitating that they lie down and recuperate afterwards. They will only chase prey where there is a high likelihood of securing their next meal, readily giving up if there is strong competition – they lack the will and doggedness necessary for competitive racing.  By April 1938, bored with the predictability of racing against greyhounds, Gandar-Dower devised another spectacle – racing cheetahs against a motorcycle. In May Harringay Stadium witnessed the first such race with live radio commentary. Not long afterwards the cheetahs were sold to circus veteran Jack Harvey. They continued to tour the country until the outbreak of war, but what became of them thereafter is unknown. As for Gandar-Dower, he lost his life in 1944 on a troopship sailing from Mombasa to Ceylon when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

During a holiday trip to Gir – in an open truck for nearly 2 hours – we could not spot a single wild animal – leave alone sighting majestic Asiatic Lions ! .. .. may be one sights Cheetah in India !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th MaY 2021.
Cheetah photos from twitter page : @HourlyCheetahs 

Refreshing tea ~ positivity of tea vendor


This morning got up a bit early – and took stroll till my compound gate !  - this post is about the man whom I saw with a ‘kattai bag’

Morning as one gets up – it is usual to have a cup of hot drink ie., Coffee for most South Indians – some have tea too !  A cup of piping hot water with a few tea leaves in it, some sugar and a few drops of milk – doesn’t it sound refreshing like anything else in the world? And now if you replace a cup of piping hot water with a cup of iced water and remove milk (which makes the perfect recipe for iced tea), it sounds equally refreshing, right?

The Centre Saturday reconstituted the six empowered groups formed for COVID-19 management to make 10 panels, expanding their ambit to look after issues like availability of oxygen, vaccination, emergency response and economic welfare measures, PTI reported. According to an official order, the issues related to oxygen production, import, establishment of PSA plants will be dealt with by an empowered group, whose convenor will be the Secretary in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and it will have 10 members.

Countries and territories around the world have implemented enforced lockdowns of varying degrees throughout the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organization recommends curfews and lockdowns be short-term so as to assess how to reorganise, rebalance resources and protect health services. has compiled a full list of all the countries in lockdown. India, meanwhile, showed a decline in daily cases and reported 173,790 new Covid-19 cases and 3,617 deaths in the last 24 hours ending 8 am on Saturday.

Keeping the coronavirus situation in mind, the Tamil Nadu government on Friday extended the lockdown restrictions in the state till June 7. Issuing an order, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said that the essential services in the state will be exempted during the lockdown period. The development comes just a day after, the CM  expressed dissatisfaction over the results of the lockdown in the state and said that he would take a decision on whether to extend the curbs later. “The present situation is partially satisfactory but not completely satisfactory. We will think over it and make a decision later,” he had said. While announcing the lockdown, the chief minister also urged the people of the state to get vaccinated and said that vaccine wastage was less than 6% in the state. Last week, the Tamil Nadu government had extended the lockdown for another week till May 31, citing growing coronavirus cases in the state. Notably, this was the full lockdown without relaxation in the state.

The other relaxations extended for this week will continue, including sale of vegetables and fruits using vehicles in all the districts by the departments concerned. From May 31, provision stores will be permitted to sell essentials in vehicles/carts in the neighbourhood after necessary permission from the local bodies concerned. Home delivery can be done between 7am and 6pm in respect to the orders received online and over phone. The government also decided to allow railway, airport, seaport operations, and all activities relating to basic essential infrastructure sectors like, power, water supply, sanitation, telecommunication and postal services. 

Tea, the dried leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, is the most popular beverage, consumed by over two-thirds of the world’s population. Different types of teas available in the market are black (fermented), green (non-fermented) and oolong (semi-fermented). These are classified based on the levels of oxidation that the leaves have undergone. Drinking tea has been promoted to be a health habit since centuries – not sure of the modern scientific research basis for this belief.  

For many of us, the  quintessential office tea round represented a social element in the workplace, boosting  camaraderie as well as healthy and wellbeing. Today we find this has been replaced by Zoom type virtual meetings where you dial in with your cuppa in hand!

To conclude – the man looked ordinary and at first sight could not sight his enterprise.  The kattai bag he was carrying was neatly cut exposing the snout of the tea container enabling him dispose hot cup of tea at ease.  When asked why he was here at his hour (my mind Q was who in this area would come out to buy tea from him ?) – he said, generally securities in building might buy one and to him every cup counts !

A bow to his positivity and innovative thinking – might look simple, but instead of complaining about lack of opportunities in social media, circulating them in WA and FB – here was a man who provided me inspiration with his refreshing attitude! – bought a couple of tea from him for our watchmen.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Turkey invokes Mahatma Gandhi and Sufi poet Rumi - sends relief material to India

The ecstatic poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born in 1207, have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the most popular poet in the US. Globally, his fans are legion. “He’s this compelling figure in all cultures,” says Brad Gooch, who is writing a biography of Rumi to follow his critically acclaimed books on Frank O’Hara and Flannery O’Connor. “The map of Rumi’s life covers 2,500 miles,” says Gooch, who has traveled from Rumi’s birthplace in Vakhsh, a small village in what is now Tajikistan, to Samarkand in Uzbekistan, to Iran and to Syria, where Rumi studied at Damascus and Aleppo in his twenties. His final stop was Konya, in Turkey, where Rumi spent the last 50 years of his life. Today Rumi’s tomb draws reverent followers and heads of state each year for a whirling dervish ceremony on 17 December, the anniversary of his death.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī,  simply  Rumi (1207 – 1273), was a 13th-century Persian  poet,   Islamic scholar, Maturidi theologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan in Greater Iran. Rumi's works are written mostly in Persian, but occasionally he also used Turkish, Arabic,  and Greek in his verse.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  recently sued a nationalist rival for comparing him to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, official media reported. Iyi Party (Good Party) leader Meral Aksener, a conservative nationalist who has been dubbed Turkey's "Iron Lady", said in parliament  that Netanyahu and Erdogan used similar tactics to hold on to power. She said Netanyahu's recent campaign against armed Palestinian groups in Gaza, which Erdogan has furiously opposed, was driven by politics and a desire to gain public support after four inconclusive elections in two years.

Turkey   is a country straddling Western Asia and Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea. Istanbul, the largest city, is the financial centre, and Ankara is the capital. Turks form the vast majority of the nation's population, and Kurds are the largest minority.

Turkey aims to be among the first countries to have an entirely artificial intelligence (AI)-controlled unmanned warplane, with plans for it to take to the Turkish skies in 2023, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. The success of Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the field has produced results that "require war strategies to be rewritten," the president said. Erdoğan was speaking at the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara. The president added that currently a total of 180 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) are operated in four countries, including Turkey. Previously, Turkish drone magnate Baykar's Chief Technology Officer Selçuk Bayraktar said the maiden flight of the prototype of the country's domestically-made unmanned fighter jet is scheduled for 2023.

             Covid aid material, delivered by two Turkish A400M military cargo aircraft on Wednesday, were packed in boxes that bore the words of 13th century Sufi poet Rumi – “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness”.  Turkey invoked Mahatma Gandhi and Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi as it delivered 50 tonnes of relief material, including five oxygen generators, to support India’s response to a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections.

Turkey has joined dozens of countries that have delivered hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies and equipment, including oxygen generation plants, to help India overcome a severe shortage of oxygen and other materials amid the second wave that saw the daily infection rate breach the 400,000-mark. A statement from the Turkish embassy referred to the delivery of the supplies, including five oxygen generators, 50 ventilators, 680 oxygen cylinders, and 50,000 boxes of antiviral medicine, late on Wednesday and recalled the role played by Indian leaders in Turkey’s history.

“The assistance and contribution of Indian people and prominent Indian figures like the Father of the Indian Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who collected funds to support Turkey’s Liberation War [during] 1919-1923, and Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, who led the medical mission to Ottoman Empire and set up field hospitals to treat wounded Ottoman soldiers during the Balkan Wars in 1912, are still very much alive in the memories of Turkish people,” the statement said. Turkish ambassador Firat Sunel said the aid from his country was one of the largest consignments sent out amid the second wave. Foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had offered to send the relief materials during a conversation with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on April 26, and Ibrahim Kalin, special adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, oversaw the delivery of the aid.

The Turkish aid was seen in some quarters as a move by Ankara to put bilateral ties on an even keel after they were hit in recent years by differences on the Kashmir issue and other matters. Erdoğan’s remarks on the Indian government’s handling of the situation in Kashmir had been criticised by New Delhi as interference in internal matters. Jaishankar and Çavuşoğlu met in Dushanbe on the margins of the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan in March, the first such interaction in more than a year. Turkey recently took on a key role in the Afghan peace process as it is set to host US-proposed talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The aid from Turkey  also represents the success of the foreign policy pursued by the present Govt headed by Shri Narendra Modi.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Rolls-Royce introduces ultimate luxury car !

The most eye-catching features centre around the Boat Tail's 'aft deck' – a modern interpretation of a yacht's wooden rear deck in a special grey and black Caleidolegno wood veneer that is 'visually elongated' using brushed stainless steel pinstripe inlays.  At the press of a button this rear deck opens up like sweeping 'butterfly wings' to reveal an intricate 'hosting suite' for alfresco entertaining and displaying 'a treasure chest of moving parts'. To the left is a double refrigerator with special cradles to securely stow two bottles of champagne at a precise temperature. The aficionado owner's favourite Armand de Brignac vintage - which can cost up to £57,950 a bottle - should be stored at six degrees Centigrade for consumption - the exact setting the fridge operates at.  The section also provides space for four glasses, napkins and other accoutrements.


It is not self-pity but way back in mid 1970s when we were studying – many of my classmates would walk to school bare-footed – a good slipper was a luxury those days !   .. .. when we finished our College, our dream aspiration was a Bank clerk job of Rs.1000 pm salary and a two-wheeler as a proud possession.

Life has changed and in the days of Corona, a healthy life is the ultimate luxury !

Before one of the most flourishing industry was Tourism – luxury tourism -  affluent people travelling to exotic locations to spend their money in peace.     Geographic distance never reduced the indomitable spirit of spending money at locations hitherto unexplored.  Perhaps this is not indexed by Nation but by affluence !  - those who have money spend their own money, none can grudge that – and the Communist view of giving it to poor becomes irrelevant as they themselves have modern offices earning lakhs in rent but would preach others to spend for others.  

The dictionary meaning of ‘luxury’ is : 

1: a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort : sumptuous environmentlived in luxury

2a: something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessaryone of life's luxuries

b: an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease

In economics, a luxury good (or upmarket good) is a good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises, so that expenditures on the good become a greater proportion of overall spending. Luxury goods are in contrast to necessity goods, where demand increases proportionally less than income. Luxury goods is often used synonymously with superior goods. The word "luxury" originated from the Latin word luxuria, which means exuberance, excess, abundance.

Luxury goods have high income elasticity of demand: as people become wealthier, they will buy proportionately more luxury goods. This also means, however, that should there be a decline in income its demand will drop more than proportionately. Income elasticity of demand is not constant with respect to income, and may change sign at different levels of income. That is to say, a luxury good may become a necessity good or even an inferior good at different income levels.

For many – a car is luxury – those days, cars with AC were different than its normal ones – now AC in a car is a bare necessity ! A luxury car is a car that provides increased levels of comfort, equipment, amenities, quality, performance, and status relative to regular cars for an increased price. Traditionally, most luxury cars were large vehicles, though smaller sports-oriented models were always produced. “Compact“ luxury vehicles such as hatchbacks, and off-road capable sport utility vehicles, are relatively modern trends.

In case, you are wondering what the first para describes – it is the new luxury car from the stables of Rolls-Royce that is hyped to be the costliest one !

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is a British luxury automobile maker. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited operates from purpose-built administrative and production facilities opened in 2003 across from the historic Goodwood Circuit in Goodwood, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom. Rolls-Royce Motors Cars Limited is the exclusive manufacturer of Rolls-Royce branded motor cars since 2003. Although the Rolls-Royce brand has been in use since 1906, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars subsidiary of BMW AG has no direct relationship to Rolls-Royce-branded vehicles produced prior to 2003 other than being a major engine and other supplier prior to 2003.  

The world's most expensive new car has been unveiled  by Rolls-Royce – and it has an umbrella that extends out of the back! The £20million (INR 20.60 Cr approx. ) Boat Tail convertible grand tourer is the first of an exclusive trio of highly personalised nautically-based limousines. It has been specially commissioned by a wealthy and 'flamboyant' couple with a love of chilled champagne and alfresco meals - hence the vehicle's incredible rear deck housing a dinner set, rotating cocktail tables with matching chairs and a parasol that automatically extends out when they want to dine at the rear of their Roller.

The British car maker has even exclusively modified the cabin to house personalised 'his and hers' wrist watches – either of which can be slotted into the dashboard to become the motor's clock. Reports that the owner may be an American rapper were understood to be 'unfounded' and 'wide of the mark'. It has taken four years of 'mind-boggling attention to detail' to design and manufacture in collaboration with clients who wanted a unique car to 'mark a sense of occasion', says the legendary British marque.

And to put the exclusivity of the commission into context, the £20million price-tag would buy you the equivalent of around 40 personalised flagship Rolls-Royce Phantom limousines costing around £500,000 each (including bespoke extras). It is also double the cost of the previous two most expensive new cars in the world: Rolls-Royce's own £10million coachbuilt Sweptail of 2017 - the car that sparked new Boat Tail project; and Bugatti's one-off £11.5million 'La Voiture Noir' hypercar that was first shown at the March 2019 Geneva Motor Show.  The reason for the vast expense is that the car has been engineered and designed from the ground up as a near one off.

With production cars, the total costs are spread across the number of cars produced – which in the case of Rolls-Royce will go into hundreds and thousands of vehicles over time. With mainstream car-makers those costs will be spread across millions of vehicles. In the case of the Boat Tail, the 'Coachbuild' construction means the chassis, engine and underpinnings may be based on the existing Phantom limo, but everything above that and every detail - from the largest ever hand-made panels, to the most intricate mechanism, and clock - has to be designed and created from scratch.  It is therefore not a 'standard' car with a lot of bespoke extras and luxuries added. It is a brand new car – effectively a one-off model – though in this case the total costs have been shared across three vehicles, each of which is personalised to the owner. In artwork terms, is the difference between hanging a high quality print on your wall, or owning the only original oil-painting. 

When mainstream manufacturers launch a new model, they usually have to invest around £1billion before the first car comes off the line. But that average cost is reduced every time an additional car comes off the line, so the average costs reduce significantly. Rolls-Royce's new Coachbuild arm has been set up specifically to capitalise on the growing number of similar such super-rich customers who want a luxury limousine that they can help to create and is unique to them. It is left-hand drive suggesting it will be driven mostly on the European  Continent. To keep time, two reversible 'His & Hers' two-sided timepieces by Swiss-based 'BOVET 1822' – either one of which can be taken off the owner's wrist and mounted on the dashboard fascia as a clock, while the other is stored in a special tray compartment.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Cricket injuries painful to some .. .. provides opportunity to some !!

Test Cricket will be back – England would play New Zealand at Lords in the test starting on 2nd June 2021.. .. wicket keeper batsman James Bracey is most likely to make his debut !  James Bracey from Gloucestershire  benefited from the fact England were forced to name enlarged squads during the Covid era of international cricket. 

Here are some interesting trivia to the Cricket fan with unquenching desire to know more and more of the game.  Way back in Feb 1976, India played New Zealand in ODI no. 36 -  3 south Indians – R Sudhakar Rao and Pochaiah Krishnamurthy alongside veteran Bhagwar Chandrasekhar made their debuts.   P Kirhsnamurthy a wicket keeper from Hyderabad made his test debut in 1971 WI tour and this match at NZ happened to be his last match, his only ODI.  Years later in Asia cup match in May 2000 India beat Bangladesh at Dhaka – curiously, Ganguly used 8 bowlers – Ajit Agarkar, T Kumaran (!), Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Sunil Joshi, Hemang Badani, Robin Singh & Sachin Tendulkar.  Kumble had ordinary figures of 9-0-43-0 – did not beat the batsman much – but one of his deliveries beat the bat, jumped, and hit the wicketkeeper injuring his eye.  He rushed to Chennai for treatment – did not play any one dayer after that – the sad story of Syed Saba Karim.

In Nov 1974, at Bangalore,  West Indies won by 267 runs – on the last day they  needed to take only eight wickets, as Pataudi (dislocated finger) and Engineer (blow over the eye) had been injured in the field. Badly demoralised, India capitulated before lunch.  H Hemant Kanitkar, Gordon Greenidge and Viv Richards debuted  .. the next Test at Delhi changed the life of Viv and perhaps that of Venkatraghavan too.  It was probably Sunil Gavaskar who would have led India for the first time – but after the Bangalore test and before Delhi Test, Gavaskar played a Ranji match and a bowler by name Pandurang  Salgaonkar who could never play for India hit Sunil Gavaskar on hand forcing him to sit out for 3 tests.

Wriddhiman Prasanta Saha was drafted into the Bengal Ranji side after regular wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta signed up with the Indian Cricket League. He grabbed the chance  becoming the 15th Bengal player to score a hundred on Ranji debut.  In Feb 2010, a  last-minute injury to Rohit Sharma handed Saha an unexpected debut in Nagpur - as a batsman. His second Test appearance - against Australia in Adelaide in January 2012 - was also somewhat accidental, a result of MS Dhoni's suspension due to a slow over rate. In between, Saha played two ODIs against New Zealand.

I remember the present bowling coach, Bharat Arun running in and falling down before delivering his maiden delivery in Test Cricket  - he played 2 tests and 4 ODIs taking 4 and 1 wickets respectively.  Then Shardul Thakur, got  his chance against the visiting West Indies, relatively an easy chance but managed to bowl only 1.4 overs in International cricket on his debut match, after having had to walk off due to a pain in the groin region. When Thakur's front foot landed on the bowling crease as he delivered his 10th ball in Test cricket, it seemed to buckle and the pain was immediate.

The news from UK is - Ben Foakes has torn his left hamstring in a dressing-room accident and will miss the two-Test series against New Zealand, starting at Lord's on June 2, with James Bracey set to debut in his place as wicketkeeper. Foakes, who had been in line to play his maiden home Test series after finishing the recent tour of India as England's incumbent keeper, sustained the injury after slipping in his socks while walking through the Surrey dressing-room following their drawn LV= County Championship fixture against Middlesex on Sunday.

Foakes' assessment and rehabilitation will be managed by the Surrey medical team. However, in a statement, the ECB said that he was expected to be out of action for at least three months, meaning he is unlikely to play any part in the five-Test series against India that starts at Trent Bridge on August 4. In Foakes' absence, Bracey is in line to take over the keeper's role for his Test debut. Bracey has been a part of England's bio-secure bubble since the home series against West Indies last July, and was already widely tipped to make his debut as a batter at some stage in the series. However, the other established wicketkeepers in England's ranks - Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow - are both missing from the current squad, having been rested following their involvement in the IPL, which was postponed earlier this month due to India's surge in Covid cases. As a consequence, Sam Billings has been drafted into the Test squad as cover. Though he was also at the IPL, as a non-playing squad member at Delhi Capitals, Billings' winter was interrupted by a shoulder injury, sustained during his solitary ODI appearance at Pune. He returned to action as Kent's captain last week, making 11 against Glamorgan in his first County Championship appearance of the season.

                     He ended up bowling 27740 deliveries  in Tests and 11202 in One dayers.  Kapil Dev Nikhanj would ever be remembered as one of the greatest All rounders of India scoring 5248 runs in 131 Tests (184 innings) and taking 434 wickets.  In 225  One dayers, he scored 3783 runs taking 253 wickets.  Kapil Dev was supremely fit and  never missed an international game due to injury. He played 66 consecutive Test matches before he was surprisingly dropped from the team for the Kolkata Test against England in 1984 for getting out to an extravagant shot as India were trying to save the Test match.  There was one ODI, whence he played as a pure batsman, not bowling a single delivery in a completed innings.  That was ODI 395 on 7th Oct 1986 against Australia at Rajkot, where he was the captain.  During the time, when delaying the over rate and bowling lesser no. of overs was an approved tactic,  India opening with Krish Srikkanth and Raman Lamba made a healthy 260 for 6 in 48 overs.  Lamba made a century.  Kapil Dev blasted a quick fire 58 off 31 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixers.   But the Indian attack without Kapil lacked the incisiveness.  It was Madanlal, Rudra Pratap Singh, Rajinder Ghai, Ravi Shastri, Maninder Singh.  Krish Srikkanth bowled 2 overs while Azharuddin bowled the last over.  Border’s unbeaten 91 saw them through.

Before concluding there have been some freak injuries which have denied players opportunities - .. .. West Indian Jimmy Adams was a dour customer.  In 1998 tour to South Africa, he reportedly injured himself, cutting the tendon in his right hand trying to cut the bread with a plastic knife !  .. ..   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

shameful attack on culture - biblioclasm - burning of Jaffna Library - 40 years ago !

Jaffna (யாழ்ப்பாணம்)   is the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna District located on a peninsula of the same name.  .. .. and this post is on a sad event that occurred this day 40 years ago !  In 1884, per the OED, William Lewer wrote, of the Spanish conquerors in the new world “made bonfires of the Maya and Aztec manuscripts..  May these bishops expiate their crimes in the purgatory of biblioclasts!’’ 

Ever heard of ‘the Battle of North’ – unlikely that you would ever find this in any History related searches – clue is – it relates to Sri Lanka !!

The inaugural flight by Air Ceylon on 10 Dec 1947 was from Ratmalana Airport to Madras via Palaly.  After independence the airport provided domestic flights to Colombo (Ratmalana) and Trincomalee, and international flights to south India (Madras and Tiruchirappalli.  Now there is - Jaffna International Airport   (IATA: JAF, ICAO: VCCJ), formerly known as Palaly Airport,  also a military airbase The airport is located in the town of Palaly near Kankesanthurai, 7 nautical miles (13 km; 8 mi) north of the city of Jaffna.  The airport was originally built by the Royal Air Force during World War II, after which it functioned as the country's second international airport.  

Mallakam Sri Baskaran Cricket Ground, Jaffna also known as Mallakam Cricket Ground,  has been constructed recently and the  ground has been  named after late philanthropist Sri Baskaran as a tribute for donating his land on a 60 year lease.  The cricket ground was officially declared open on 14 March 2021 with the motive of developing interest in cricket among the youth in the Jaffna peninsula.  On that day, an exhibition T20 cricket match was played  between two intra Jaffna based teams. 

The burning of the Jaffna Public Library  took place on the night of June 1, 1981, when an organized mob of Sinhalese individuals went on a rampage, burning the library. It was one of the most violent examples of cultural attacks, of  ethnic biblioclasm (burning of books)  of the 20th century . At the time of its destruction, the library was one of the biggest in Asia, containing over 97,000 books and manuscripts.

It was a priceless treasure-trove,  built in many stages starting from 1933, from a modest beginning as a private collection. Soon, with the help of primarily local citizens, it became a full-fledged library. The library also became a repository of archival material written in palm leaf manuscripts, original copies of regionally important historic documents in the contested political history of Sri Lanka and newspapers that were published hundreds of years ago in the Jaffna peninsula. It thus had become  a place of historic and symbolic importance to all Sri Lankans.  The first major wing of the library was opened in 1959 by then Jaffna mayor Alfred Duraiappah. The architect of the Indo-Saracenic style building was S. Narasimhan from Madras, India. Prominent Indian librarian S.R. Ranganathan served as an advisor to ensure that the library was built to international standards. The library became the pride of the local people as even researchers from India and other countries began to use it for their research purposes.

Alas – that had a sad ending !  ..  on Sunday, May 31, 1981, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), held a rally in which three Sinhalese policemen were shot and two killed. That night police and paramilitaries began a pogrom that lasted for three days. The head office of TULF party was destroyed. The Jaffna MP V. Yogeswaran's residence was also destroyed. Four people were pulled from their homes and killed at random. Many business establishments and a local Hindu temple were also deliberately destroyed.

On the night of June 1, according to many reports, police and government-sponsored paramilitias set fire to the Jaffna public library and destroyed it completely. Over 97,000 volumes of books along with numerous culturally important and irreplaceable manuscripts were destroyed.  It was reported that  several high-ranking security officers and two cabinet ministers were present in the town of Jaffna, when uniformed security men and plainclothes  mob carried out organized acts of destruction. After 20 years the government-owned Daily News newspaper, in an editorial in 2001, termed the 1981 event an act by "goon squads let loose by the then government". .. ..and few more years later, in 2016, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the leader of the United National Party tendered  an official apology in Sri Lankan Parliament too – but the damage done is irreparable.   

The library housed documents of invaluable worth, such as the only existing copy of the Yalpanam Vaipavama, a history of Jaffna written by Tamil poet Mayilvagana Pulavar in 1736. The library held miniature editions of the Hindu Ramayana epic, yellowing collections of extinct Tamil-language newspapers, microfilms of important documents, and records of the Morning Star, a journal published by Christian missionaries during the colonial rule of the island. Moreover, it housed close to 100,000 Tamil books and rare, old manuscripts and documents. Some of the precious documents were written on dried palm leaves and stored in fragrant sandalwood boxes. Documents in the library included historical scrolls on herbal medicine and the manuscripts of prominent intellectuals, writers, and dramatists – and they wound up in ashes.

For Tamils, the devastated library became a symbol of "physical and imaginative violence". The attack was seen as an assault on their aspirations, the value of learning and traditions of academic achievement. The attack also became the rallying point for Tamil rebels to promote the idea to the Tamil populace that their race was targeted for annihilation.    

Jaffna Public Library being rebuilt, with partly burned right-wing. At the front is a statue of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning, as it stood earlier too. 

Thus the burning of the Jaffna Public Library was not a simple arson attack. It was a ferocious harbinger of the coming devastating war, which started in 1983 with the so-called Black July and ended in May 2009, resulting in approximately 200,000 deaths and what is still the second highest number of enforced disappearances in the world. The library burning was an attempt to rob the Tamil community of pride and dignity. It aimed at wiping out their heritage.  

It is insignificant – the Battle of the North is an annual cricket match played between Jaffna Central College and St. John's College, Jaffna, two schools in northern Sri Lanka, from the year 1904 !  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st June 2021.
Pictures from twitter.