Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nadaswaram.

In my previous article I wrote about Africa’s popular but unpleasant Vuvuzela horn that is being blown incessantly at all football matches of FIFA 2010 World Cup. In conclusion I wrote that the general opinion among many players, spectators and commentators is that Vuvuzela is annoying, disturbing and unpleasant. Soon after posting that article I was reminded of our own auspicious and melodious Nadaswaram which looks similar to Vuvuzela but is different in every other aspect.
Nadaswaram is very popular all over South India and it is a part of its classical music. It is called as ‘Mangala Vaaidhyam’. Mangala means auspicious and Vaaidhyam means musical instrument. Nadaswaram is played in pairs accompanied by two drums as can be seen in the pictures below. It is played in Hindu temples, at religious processions, festivals and auspicious occasions like Upanayanam ceremony, and all marriage related functions. In Andhra Pradesh it is popularly called as ‘Sannai Melam’.
The music is very melodious and brings about a very pious and festive atmosphere. Several Thyagaraja Keerthanalu, marriage songs and classical carnatic recitations are rendered by the ‘Sannai Melam’ group. I am providing a ‘youtube’ link at the bottom of this article for you to listen and enjoy. This ‘Sannai Melam’ team is from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada performing at a marriage that took place there. This speaks of its importance and popularity among South Indians wherever they may be in the world.  

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Soccer players Love Jabulani!? Hate Vuvuzela?

Jabulani and Vuvuzela are two new names that have become popular all over the world this month with the commencement of 2010 FIFA World Cup. All soccer players love Jabulani and hate Vuvuzela and the spectators at various Soccer stadiums in South Africa seem to love the players they support, the Jabulani and the Vuvuzela too.
Jabulani is the name of the new football being used in the 2010 World Cup Matches. These footballs are manufactured by Adidas, the sports related equipment and gear manufacturer. Jabulani means ‘Rejoice’ or ‘Bring joy and happiness’ in Zulu a South African language. The ball is said to have few technical advantages due to which the players are comfortable and happy with it. However the ball used to play in the Final Match of this World Cup on 11th July 2010 will be called Jo’bulani after Johannesburg or Jo’burg the city’s nickname where the Final Match will be played. While Jabulani has eleven color combinations on it the Jo’bulani will have predominantly gold color. These footballs are made in China but have an Indian connection – the bladders are made using natural latex of Kerala.
Vuvuzela is a traditional horn or trumpet of Africa. The Vuvuzelas are said to be a part of South African football stadiums and celebrations for years. The Vuvuzelas make loud noise of high frequency and high decibel levels which may cause hearing impairment. The constant buzzing sound of thousands of Vuvuzelas in the ongoing World Cup has attracted a lot of criticism from players, team coaches, referees, broadcasters, telecasters and a section of the spectators. It is annoying, disturbing and unpleasant is the general opinion. This World Cup is not just the greatest and grandest but also the noisiest.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

FIFA 2010 World Cup – Round of 16.




The Group Stage of the FIFA 2010 World Cup has come to an end yesterday, after 48 Matches in fifteen days of thrilling Soccer. Most of the matches that I have seen and the Goals scored were extraordinary. In this great battle of 32 Nations for the 2010 World Cup, 16 countries are eliminated and the other 16 have qualified and reached another prestigious Stage of World Soccer - ‘Round of 16’, the knockout stage.
The Countries that have qualified for the Round of 16 are Uruguay, South Korea, USA, Ghana, Germany, England, Argentina, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovakia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Japan, Spain and Portugal.
16 Countries that are eliminated after playing the Group Stage Matches are: France, South Africa, Greece, Nigeria, Algeria, Slovenia, Serbia, Australia, Cameroon, Denmark, Italy (Winners of the last World Cup), New Zealand, Ivory Coast, North Korea, Switzerland and Honduras.
From now on the Matches will be much more interesting. Starting from today - 26th June; 8 Matches will take place until 30th June. 8 Countries will be eliminated in this Stage of the Game and the other 8 will qualify for the Quarterfinals.
I am not taking any side so I enjoy watching the game, the passes, the goals, the saves, the corner shots and the penalty hits of both the teams. Of course it is disappointing when Matches end in Draws with no goals scored. I strongly recommend that you watch the remaining games and enjoy the excitement of the Matches. The schedule of ‘Round of 16 Matches’ is as follows and the timings are as in India (IST):
Uruguay vs. South Korea – June 26, 7:30 pm.
USA vs. Ghana – June 27, 12:00 am.
Germany vs. England – June 27, 7:30 pm.
Argentina vs. Mexico – June 28, 12:00 am.
Netherland vs. Slovakia – June 28 7:30 pm.
Brazil vs. Chile – June 29, 12:00 am.
Paraguay vs. Japan – June 29, 7:30 pm.
Spain vs. Portugal – June 30, 12:00 am.
Happy viewing till final whistle!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Swami Pushkarini, Tirumala.

We returned from Tirumala and Tirupati today morning, we were there on 20th and 21st June. We had a very satisfying darshan of Sri Venkateshwara Swamy by attending to his Suprabatha Seva on 21st June, around 3:00 AM. Later yesterday we also went to Srikalahasti and visited Lord Shiva’s, Sri Kalahasteeswara Temple and had darshan of all Gods at this ancient Temple.
In the past I wrote about our earlier pilgrimages to Tirumala and the adjoining temples and posted a number of photographs on these trips:
During this trip I took some pictures at the Swami Pushkarini – the Holy Water Tank of Sri Venkateshwara Swamy Temple and decided to write on it. The above photographs are of us at the Pushkarini and those below are taken at the main Temple and around it.
While some important Temples of South India are along the banks of holy rivers like Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery the rest have a water source close to the Temple in the form of a geometrically spectacular stepped tank or a well. Such a Temple tank or pond is considered sacred and is called Pushkarini (or Koneru) which literally means a pond of Lotus flowers. The water from Pushkarini may also be used for the rituals and cleaning of the temples. Devotees have to take a dip in the sacred waters of these tanks before offering prayers at the Temples. Any Pushkarini is said to have healing and purifying powers.
The Pushkarini at Tirumala is located very close to Sri Venkateshwara Swamy Temple and it is called as Swami Pushkarini. Bathing at Swami Pushkarini is considered equivalent to bathing in the holy River Ganga. It is said that this Pushkarini was originally based in Vaikuntam – the abode of Sri Vishnu and it was brought down to earth by Garuda and set here for Sri Venkateshwara Swamy. On the last day, that is the ninth day of the Grand Brahmotsavam celebrations, the Sudarshana Chakra of the Lord is immersed in the waters of Swamy Pushkarini in a ceremonial way. The Temple priests and several devotees simultaneously take a dip in the Pushkarini along with the Sudarshana Chakra to attain Moksha / absolve one from sins.
The water at the Swamy Pushkarini is maintained very well by treating it scientifically and by a state-of-the-art recycling facility. However as per the ancient practice, water from the nearby ‘Akashaganga waterfalls’ alone is used for the Abhishekam of Sri Venkateshwara Swamy and for all other Temple rituals at Tirumala.  

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Remembering Begumpet Airport.

Until some years ago, while I was working for Praga Tools Limited I used to fly very frequently from and to Hyderabad. With Hyderabad’s Begumpet Airport in our neighborhood, just 2 Kms. from our house, it was very convenient to reach the Airport or reach home from there. I used to take an Auto rickshaw to the Airport and there were Pre-paid Autos for the return journey with minimum fare to our house at Paradise. And there are many instances when one of my sons dropped me at the Airport or picked me up from the Airport on their Motorbike, when I was traveling light.
After leaving Praga Tools Limited my Air travel got reduced to 2 or 3 journeys a year and in the meantime the Begumpet Airport got shifted to Shamshabad, 35 Kms. away from our house. Even these few trips to Shamshabad have become cumbersome with lot of planning and effort required for reaching the New Airport in time. If short of time I take a Taxi to the Airport at high cost or travel by Auto to Keys High School and take a GMR Aero-express Bus from there to reach the Airport. There is a bus every half hour from Keys High School to the Airport and it takes one and half hour to reach the Airport. And to catch this bus I have to start from the house at least three quarters of an hour before. In short it means, it used to take less than 15 minutes for me to reach Begumpet Airport and now it takes me at least 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach Shamshabad Airport.
Tomorrow morning I and my wife have to board the early morning (6:20 AM) Kingfisher flight to Tirupati. Had the flight been from Begumpet we could have started from the house at 5:00 AM but now we have to start at an inconvenient time of 3:30 AM. Well, what was so convenient to me for several years in the past is perhaps now convenient to those leaving close to Shamshabad. But every time I have to travel to Shamshabad Airport I fondly keep remembering the convenience of flying from Begumpet. May be a very fast Train to Shamshabad Airport from Secunderabad Railway Station would make a difference to my discomfort. 
Shamshabad Airport Photos
Begumpet Airport Photos

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Best way to start a day, Tea in the garden!

“The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.” – Hanna Rion.
From a very large garden in front and backyard of the house at Kothagudem we returned to a smaller garden at our house in Secunderabad. Then as years passed by this garden became smaller due to road widening and then the construction of sheds for shops in front of the house. What remains of the small garden can be seen in the above pictures.
However small, we still enjoy by maintaining this garden. The plants make the surroundings vivacious and attractive. They make us feel fresh and relaxed. We enjoy having Tea in the garden and sometimes breakfast and sometimes parties. The above photographs I am sure would generate some warm feelings. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad.

Mecca Masjid of Hyderabad is one of the largest mosques in the world. It is the second largest in India and seventh largest in the world. Ten thousand persons offer prayers here at a time. This Mosque is a big tourist attraction and it is adjacent to another popular landmark of Hyderabad, Charminar. It is named after the grand Mosque at Mecca in Saudi Arabia as some of the bricks used in its construction are from Mecca. The construction of this Mosque was started in the year 1617 by the then ruler Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah. The construction of the Mosque continued for 77 long years, under the reigns of Abdullah Qutub Shah, Tana Shah and was finally completed in 1694 by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The construction is mostly with Granite. The main hall is 67 X 54 metres and is 23 metres high. The roof is supported by fifteen arches, five on each of the three sides. I have posted above a few pictures of the majestic Mecca Masjid with Srikanth in some of them. One can visit Mecca Masjid from 8 am to 12 noon and 3 pm to 8 pm. You can click some unique photographs here of the grand fa├žade and the hundreds of pigeons.

Friday, June 11, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010, the biggest & greatest show has begun!





The opening ceremony of FIFA 2010 World Cup has just begun at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. The long wait for the tournament has ended and there is all round excitement not just at the Stadium and in Johannesburg and South Africa but in the other 31 participating countries and also in each and every other country of the world. No other game in the world has such high following. As I am writing this article I have received information that the traffic on most roads of Hyderabad is surprisingly low. Obviously everyone is glued to ESPN Channel to watch the World Cup. This tournament would certainly be the highest ever viewed event. South Africa is House full with local and foreign spectators. And the telecasts of these World Cup events and matches across 214 countries would entertain over 26 billion fans of football. South Africa has created the infrastructure to make this event a grand success and is welcoming the world with smiles and warm hospitality to participate in this month long sporting event.
Thirty two teams have finally qualified for this World Cup tournament. And as the host nation, South Africa is automatically qualified and is one of them. These teams from 32 countries are divided into 8 groups of 4 teams each. The 8 groups are formed as follows: Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France, Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece, Group C: England, United States, Algeria, Slovenia, Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon, Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia, Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal, and Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Chile and Honduras. The 4 Teams of each group will play matches against one another in the Group Stage from 11th June to 25th June. Then two winning teams from each group that is 16 teams will progress to the “Round of 16 Stage”. From here on the matches will be played on knockout basis. The Round of 16 matches will take place from 26th June to 29th June. The Quarter-Final matches will be played on 2nd and 3rd July. The Semi-Final matches will be played on 6th, 7th and 10th July. And the Final Match is on 11th July at the Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg. The third picture at the top is the ‘World Cup Schedule’ and the fourth is the list of ‘Past World Cup Champions’. To enlarge these pictures you may click on them.
Though all the teams are playing to win the World Cup for their Country and to be called the World Champions for the next four years I must mention here that the prize money is very attractive in this World Cup. It is US $420 million, 60% more than the last World Cup (2006). Each participating team will receive $1 million. Each team exiting at the group stage will receive $8 million and thereafter the prize money would be distributed as; $9 million for Round of 16, $18 million for Quarter-Finals, $20 million for Semi-Finals, $24 million for runners up and $30 million for the winner.
With live telecast of all the matches in the evening and a few at midnight, all football lovers in India will keenly follow and enjoy the tournament. Hope someday India would qualify and participate in this tournament (As of now India's ranking in the Football world is at 132).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It is our tradition to eat fish on ‘Mrigashira Karthe’.

According to the Telugu almanac the rainy season commences every year from the day of Mrigashira Karthe. This year’s Mrigashira Karthe commenced yesterday (8th June) evening and would continue until today evening. Surprisingly on most Mrigashira Karthe days it rains for a while in Hyderabad. This year too there was a light drizzle for about an hour at dawn today.

And according to a very old tradition we eat fish on the day of Mrigashira Karthe. With no questions asked we follow this family and local tradition. Even if someone questions, the simple answer would be “eating fish today is good for health”. This year; as Mrigashira Karthe is extended over two days we have been having fish since yesterday. It was ‘Seer fish’ yesterday and ‘Murrel fish’ today.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

DXing was a thrilling and rewarding experience.

DXing is a hobby. It is the art and science of listening to distant Radio Stations. ‘D’ is said to mean distance and ‘X’ refers to the unknown distance / distant reception. The hobby springs out of interest in Radio. It is an opportunity to listen to radio programs of different countries and gain knowledge and wisdom. It is for learning Radio wave propagation and about Radios and antennas. It is for the enjoyment on accomplishing contact with distant Radio Stations thousands of miles away. And it is to correspond with the Radio Stations giving them reports on the quality of their transmission and about their programs and to seek any further information regarding their country. The technical report on the quality of transmission is furnished in what is known as SINPO code. In SINPO, S stands for Signal strength, I for Interference with other stations, N for Noise ratio in the received signal, P for Propagation that is ups and downs in the reception and O for Overall merit. This grading is done on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means Very poor and 5 means Excellent. The technical report and correspondence from the hobbyist is confirmed by the Radio Station with a QSL Card. The QSL card will have a picture on one side and the reception data on the other side as you can see in the pictures of some of my QSL cards furnished above and below. QSL means “I confirm receipt of your transmission report”. QSL has its origins from the Q codes of the Morse code era. Any other information sought from the Radio Station is also supplied through appropriate replies, pamphlets, catalogs and books. Once on their mailing list, you are posted their schedules, newsletters, pennants and amulets.
I took to the hobby of DXing while studying Engineering. I pursued the hobby for 7 years though very intensely for 4 years. While at college I was using a powerful Communications receiver set for DXing and while at home I was using our 6-Band ‘Jhankar’ Valve Radio with a very powerful outdoor antenna erected by me.  Much of the DXing is done in the nights so it was not affecting my regular day time activities. The pursuit of DXing was very rewarding from several view points. It helped me in understanding Radio communication and by constantly listening to various Radio Stations and their programs it improved my general knowledge and understanding international politics, problems and similarly about many important events and subjects.
With the advent of TV and now Internet Radio this hobby of DXing is almost extinct. Many International Radio Stations are shutting down their transmissions and choosing to operate on the Internet.

Today, 10th December is Human Rights Day.

December 10th is Human Rights Day, a United Nations (UN) campaign that calls for people to know and push for their rights no matter ...