Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Say a prayer for Chile’s miners trapped 700 metres underground.

It is with a heavy heart I am writing this article on the fate of 33 miners trapped in a Gold and Copper mine in San Jose, Chile, since 5th August. It is perhaps due to my affectionate association with a coal mining town and its people for 30 years, that this mining accident hurts me more. Roof collapses are the commonest of mine accidents and thousands of miners have died and continue to die all over the world. It was a roof collapse in this mine too at about 1400 Hrs. on 5th August. Immediately after the cave-in there was no contact with the miners and any information about their survival or welfare. Rescue operations commenced immediately and as the rescue teams used heavy machinery to tunnel and reach the depths another roof collapse took place. Then such heavy activity was suspended and tiny bore holes were being made to send in probes and determine the welfare of the miners. On the 17th day after several such trials, that is on 22nd August at 0715 Hrs. a probe reached the place close to where the 33 miners were taking shelter. The miners wrote a note stating that all 33 of them are fine at this shelter and taped the note to the probe for the rescue team to read. This location was at a depth of 700 metres from the surface and 5 Kms. from the entrance of the mine. On seeing the note, the rescue team first, and then the families of the miners, San Jose, Chile, the mining community of the world and all those feeling sorry for the miners rejoiced at this happy news.
Immediately through a camera a thorough contact was established with the miners. The miners were in a shelter of about 50 square meteres with 2 kilometeres of galleries to move around and a tiny tunnel that was a source of fresh air. It is a miracle that the miners survived for 17 days at such a depth with limited food and water. At the time of the accident they had with them emergency food supplies that would last for three days, but by rationing the food they managed to survive. They drank water from the radiators of underground machinery and from small pits they dug to collect trapped water. All the miners are said to have shed about 8 Kgs. weight. They used the batteries of some underground equipment to light their head lamps as and when required.
As of now two more bore holes are made. Fresh food, water, oxygen and medicines are being supplied through them now. Ample lighting has been ensured. There is regular video conferencing and exchange of letters between the trapped miners and their families and experts to keep the miners in good spirits.
Later today, work will commence at the mine to make an escape shaft. One of the three bore holes made so far will be used as a pilot hole to sink a shaft of about 66 centimetres in diameter to a depth of 702 metres. This operation is expected to take 3 to 4 months. The stranded miners also will have a major role to play in their rescue efforts by clearing the heavy collection of mud and rock that will be falling at the bottom of the shaft. Once the tunneling is complete the shaft may be reinforced and then a cage lowered to bring out one miner after another to the surface. Simultaneously other options are also being considered to rescue the miners. I sincerely hope, wish and pray that each and every miner will survive this dreadful ordeal and happily get reunited with his family. Your best wishes and prayers are required too … please. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Beware of Cell Phone - Part II.

In my previous post I wrote about the irresponsible use of Cell Phone while driving, by quite a large number of Hyderabadis. I would like to add that it is just not the drivers but the pedestrians too who are taking risks with their Cell Phones. They can be seen crossing streets and walking in heavy traffic with their Cell Phone to the ear deeply engaged in lengthy conversations perhaps partially or totally unmindful of the traffic signals and conditions around them. From time to time accidents are reported involving such careless persons. A young doctor friend of my nephew died in such an accident. At a railway crossing he was waiting for a train to pass while he was engaged in a Cell Phone conversation. He was standing on an adjacent track and did not hear another train coming on to him nor the shouts of several people asking him to move away as his entire concentration was on his phone conversation and he was crushed to death. People should remember that Cell Phone earlier called as Mobile Phone does not mean ‘you can talk as you are moving’. While on the roads one should stop in safe places to take or make calls or simply avoid the calls until they reach their next destination.
When Cell Phones were first introduced they were expensive, the Phone and the calls too. When I bought my first Cell Phone a very ordinary flap phone with a small mono screen in August 1997 it cost me close to Rs. 30,000/-. The incoming and outgoing calls were at Rs. 8/- a minute for the regular public and Rs. 4/- a minute for Doctors and bulk office users. I got the phone connection on my brother’s name as he is a doctor and availed the concession in call rates. It was Rs. 1.33 for every 20 seconds for incoming and outgoing calls. Today one can get phones for as low as Rs. 1500/- and the call charges since long are only for incoming and it is just One Paisa per second! With the fall in prices it appears as if everyone in Hyderabad owns a Cell Phone including very young persons. It is just not the prices but the technology blessed necessity to keep in touch with family, friends, business associates, internet, music, photography and so on from anywhere has made Cell Phone a part of one’s body! And this has brought about the dangers I have mentioned above and in my previous post. This apart a number of health hazards associated with the Cell Phone are being reported. In conclusion I will write about what I have heard on these health hazards to keep the readers of my blog informed and to take care.
The first one I would like to mention is Cell Phone addiction. It is said that such people would be spending a lot of time with their phone, text messaging and calling contacts and encouraging others to be in touch with them. They would be holding or be close to their phone all the time and even while sleeping. Most of the conversations may be idle talk at the cost of studies, important jobs and relations with the family. I understand that they become restless if they cannot make calls or receive calls. This is called a Compulsive Call Fix. Such people may also suffer from what is called as Ringxiety, Phantom Rings or Fauxcellarm which is a constant feeling that their Cell Phone is vibrating or ringing when that is not the case.
Then other health hazards being reported with prolonged use of Cell Phone are hearing impairment and a forearm pain problem called as Cubital Tunnel Syndrome or more commonly as Cell Phone Elbow.
There are more serious health problems being raised in connection with the electromagnetic / microwave radiation from Cell Phones and the relay Towers but these I think are not yet proved.
To have a better understanding of these problems you may watch the following videos by clicking on the links:
Regarding Cell Phone addiction:
Regarding Cell Phone Elbow / Cubital Tunnel Syndrome:
Regarding Cell Phone Radiation dangers:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beware of Cell Phone - Part I

In spite of rules and laws prohibiting the usage of a Cell Phone while driving, many Hyderabadis least honor it. Every few feet you will find a Car or a Motor bike driver merrily using it on the move. Especially on the Motor bike the drivers have a habit of talking by awkwardly cradling the Cell Phone between their shoulder and a bent head. These postures obviously impair their view apart from the distractions the phone conversations bring about which are proven to cause accidents.  It is this common observation that has prompted me to write on this potentially dangerous and illegal practice.
Every Cell Phone ‘User Manual’ warns against its usage while driving. And all over India the use of a Cell Phone while driving is an offence under section 184 of the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA-1988). The penalty for this offence is a fine of Rs. 1000/-. I am sure that all drivers using Cell Phones are aware of these rules, laws and fines but are unmindful of scientific research and the statistics of the road accidents that prove that usage of Cell phones while driving cause accidents. For long people know that drunken driving causes accidents and studies now state that Cell Phone driving is much more risky and dangerous. Such drivers are not only risking their safety but are potential danger to the society. My appeal to such over confident offending drivers is to respect the law and the scientific research and refrain from using the Cell Phone while driving. Otherwise they may be responsible for tragic incidents ranging from broken bones to deaths.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rakhi Purnima / Raksha Bandhan Greetings.

Today is the festival of Raksha Bandhan. Warm Greetings, and Good Wishes to all of you on the occasion of Rakhi Purnima. The above photographs are of my sister Hemalatha tying Rakhi to me and my brother Dr. Lakshminarsu and of Sudhiksha our granddaughter tying Rakhi to her cousins Akhil and Prabhas, today.
It is a great festival and we are enjoying it as usual. You may please see my detailed photo-article on how we celebrate Rakhi Purnima / Rakhi Bandhan at Hyderabad by clicking on the following link:
You may zoom into any photograph by clicking on it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hyderabad Twinkles! During Ramzan.

The Holy month of Ramzan began on 12th August. It is an auspicious month for prayers, purification through fasting, spirituality, compassion, charity and all things good. It is a month during which Hyderabad transforms itself into a city of festivity.
In the past I wrote about the grand shopping and delicious Haleem that one can enjoy in Hyderabad during this Holy month.  You may click on the links below to read the two articles:
1. Magnificent shopping scenario! During Ramzan:
2. Haleem Chacha!!!:
The multitude Haleem outlets and the shopping scenario in the city is more or less the same this year too. The prices have gone up on all items as usual. However it is disappointing that at most places Haleem is of a poor quality. I find Haleem from ‘Shah Ghouse–Charminar’, ‘Sarvi–Banjara Hills, Rd. No.1’ and ‘Pista House-Charminar with innumerable outlets all over the city’   to be the best in Twin cities, on any day.  In the last ten days I had Haleem from these places on almost every day!
If you are in Hyderabad this Ramzan, do not miss Haleem and shopping at Charminar.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

“RDS sabotage” is yet another atrocity on Telangana.

In the early hours of 14th August a crowd of about 1000 saboteurs went to Agasanur village under Kosigi Mandal of Kurnool district and destroyed four sluice gates of the Rajolibanda Diversion Scheme (RDS) - Dam. Using Gas cutters they cut open the gates and flung them into the Dam reservoir to let out water for irrigation to Rayalaseema area. This vandalism would reduce or deplete the water level of RDS and directly affect the farmers of Mahbubnagar District in Telangana to which water was promised some time after 20th August. This is not the first time such sabotage has taken place at RDS against the Telangana region. Unfortunately the electronic and print media do not bother to expose this crime with the intensity that it deserves. For the media, bowling of a No-ball by Sri Lanka to Sehwag when he was on 99 and India needed 1 Run to win the match is a much bigger crime and controversy and that got full page coverage. And to the Government, the local administration, the law and order controllers, the politicians and various other public orators the students agitation in Osmania University for a separate Telangana is of a more serious nature. The University Campus is well guarded or the police battalions are made to camp there. The students are beaten, they are called Naxalites, cases are booked against them and to prevent them from fighting for justice shoot at sight orders are issued. And when it comes to RDS which has been sabotaged earlier also to divert water to Kurnool and Cadapa in Rayalaseema, no one is stationed there to safeguard the project and protect the interests of Mahbubnagar, one of the poorest districts in India.
Twenty five persons have been arrested from that huge mob that instigated and carried out the sabotage to RDS Dam on 14th August. Government has given instructions to repair the damage done, after the water flow from the plugged out gates has stopped. With other area plunderers at the helm of affairs in AP and with timid slave-like politicians of Telangana, Telangana is destined to suffer, as it has ever since the formation of Andhra Pradesh.
Hope the wisdom of Srikrishna Commission will soon pave way for the formation of a separate Telangana State and good and strong Governance for Telangana. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our 4 year old granddaughter Sudhiksha talks on Germination.

On the occasion of Independence Day Celebrations at the School of our granddaughter Sudhiksha, she explained “Germination” to her Schoolmates. We recorded her rehearsal at home on 13th August as recording her actual performance at school would not be very clear due to the distance from where we have to shoot and probable noise in the auditorium. In this blog post, I am presenting the video of her talk and pictures of her chart and plants. Hope her performance will amuse you as much as it has; her teachers, Schoolmates, their parents and of course our entire family.  
Please click on the link below to watch the video:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The festival of Naga Panchami is today.

Today is the festival of Naga Panchami, also known as Nag Panchami and more popularly as Nagula Panchami in Telangana.  It is an important Hindu festival celebrated in most parts of India and Nepal. The festival falls on the auspicious day of Shravana Shukla Panchami that is the fifth day of the first half, Moonlit fortnight of Shravana Masam (means the month of Shravana). Naga means Cobra and the festival is called as Naga Panchami as this festival is all about worship of Snakes on the fifth day of Shravana Masam. 
Snake worship is in practice in India since ancient times. There are inumerable legends explaining the significance of worshipping Cobra Snakes. There are several Cobras mentioned in Hindu scriptures which play an important role. Adi Shesha or Ananta Shesha is the most important among them as it serves as a resting place of Lord Vishnu. Its coils serve as a couch and its multi-headed swinging hood serves as a shelter. On this festival day of Nagula Panchami, people especially women and girls go to Temples having idols or figurines of Snakes or to Snake pits and worship them. Their prayers seek happiness, health and prosperity and safety from poisonous Snakes. They offer milk, paramaannam (a sweet made out of rice, milk and jaggery), popped jowar and Snake shaped rice flour-jaggery rolls and jaggery-sesame rolls at these places of worship and to the Cobras which the Snake charmers bring to the houses. The Snake charmers move from house to house with the Cobras in baskets to enable worship and then in return collect money and old clothes for their service.
Several organizations like PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are trying their best to educate people that the Snake charmers who pick up Snakes on the occasion of Nagula Panchami torture them by extracting the venom by cruel methods, stitching their mouths, drugging them, not feeding them and keeping them trapped in tiny baskets. And that the process of worship by offering milk actually chokes the Snake and that the Kumkuma (Vermilion) and Turmeric powder sprinkled on its hood would blind it. Despite such appeals to prevent cruelty, a majority of the population go by the traditions set by their parents and ancestors. As for me, the above photographs of my family tell a lot, so I do not wish to say anything further. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Curry in a hurry! - Curry Points galore! @ Hyderabad.

My previous two articles were on ‘Midnight Biryani’ and ‘A la carte vs. Buffet’ at restaurants in Hyderabad. Thinking and writing about food in the recent past I was reminded of the Curry Points at several places in Hyderabad and Secunderabad. And that thought is the reason for this article.
Curry Point is an exclusive outlet, a Take away, selling a few varieties of curries and other dishes like Dal, Sambar, Rasam etc. prepared to taste like home food that is according to the local cuisine. Curry Points may be exclusive Vegetarian or both Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian outlets. These outlets open towards lunch time and are open until stocks last or late night. All dishes are made in advance and ready for sale. The items that are in great demand like some Vegetarian curries – wet and dry, Sambar, Rasam, Pappu, Curd etc. are pre-packed in quantities sufficient for two. It takes less than five minutes to pay and pick up such items and head for home. And may be another minute or two if one chooses some special or Non-Vegetarian dishes on display, as these are not pre-packed. The smaller Curry Points may cater to very common requirements but the rest serve few more varieties and even Biryani. Some of these Curry Points also sell our traditional pickles and powders that go well with rice and can be stored at home.
When not in mood to cook elaborately or there are no vegetables at home or at the end of a long day at work or too tired for a formal dinner out, a quick trip to the neighborhood Curry Point to pick up some curries is a very good solution. Most bachelors and working couples at times prepare rice at home which does not require much effort and depend on a Curry Point for the rest. A Curry Point being a very small establishment; the pricing of items is very attractive in comparison to the Take away of a large restaurant serving similar food. Food is mostly prepared elsewhere and transported to the Curry points.
The popularity of such establishments is obvious from the way they are mushrooming in the Twin cities. Some of the popular Curry points have branches spread over the city. As far as I know no other city in India has such a large scale network of low cost, local cuisine, Curry Points. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

À la carte vs. Buffet @ Hyderabad.

I decided to write on this topic because of the present dining scenario in several restaurants of Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. In the recent past many restaurants have come up here offering different cuisines, giving us several alternatives to choose from. Few years ago it was ‘A la carte’ at all restaurants for Lunch or Dinner. It was only during special occasions or ethnic food festivals that Buffet Lunches or Dinners were being organized. Today a majority of restaurants are offering Buffet Lunches and Dinners throughout the year, besides ‘A la carte’. So every time we think of going to a restaurant we have to decide where to go and whether we have to go for a Buffet or ‘A la carte’!
These days my preference is mostly a Buffet Dinner if the occasion is on week days, and a Buffet Lunch if it is on a Sunday. My Sons also love Buffets and my wife a poor eater will have to accompany us. ‘A la carte’ is my choice when my appetite is not good, when I wish to eat something very specific or it is an afternoon meal on week days. With stiff competition between restaurants the Buffet spread is quite large, with plenty of appetizers, starters, salads, main course items and a variety of items for dessert. With lots of items to chose and taste it is always a fulfilling meal. With most Buffets in the city priced between Rs. 250 to Rs. 600 it is more or less equivalent to ‘A la carte’ prices. The 2nd and 3rd photographs above; list the price of meals for two in few restaurants of the City and the 5th, 6th and 7th pictures are sample menus cards. I have included these pictures to indicate that the price difference between an ‘A la carte’ meal and Buffet is not much.
The general arguments against a Buffet that the food is stale and unhygienic as it is spread well in advance, only re-heated and not freshly cooked and exposed to movements and actions of staff and guests around, is not true these days. The Buffet spread is managed very well, small portions are laid and fresh refills are made and what has to be served fresh and hot like Rotis is served at your table. And when it comes to Kababs they are brought from the kitchen grill to the grill on your table to cook to your requirement and enjoy them in the best way. In this connection you may see my earlier posts and the photographs in them:
In short I like both, A la carte and Buffet meals, as long as the ambience is good and the food is good. And in conclusion I would like to express my feelings on food through two popular quotations:
“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food.”
“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thrill of dining in the middle of the night! @ Hyderabad!

Among many things for which Hyderabad is popular, it is certainly “Hyderabadi Biryani” that stands out at the top. A blend of Telangana and Mughalai cuisine, originating from the kitchens of the Nizam, the Nawabs and the connoisseurs of food in Hyderabad, this delicacy has become very popular and an integral part of the people and culture of Hyderabad and erstwhile State of Hyderabad. It is a recipe mastered by all local households and consumed very frequently.  And no celebration is complete without the spicy, delicious and aromatic Hyderabadi Biryani on the menu. The ancient and original recipe is with Mutton and Basmati rice in the proportion of about 2:1 in two variants called Kachchi Gosh Biryani and Pakki Gosh Biryani. However since several years Chicken Biryani also has become popular. Every nook and corner of the Twin Cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad have Restaurants and Take away joints serving Biryani but not all of them cook it in the authentic way.
Since a few years, a number of Call Centers and Business Process Outsourcing offices (BPOs) are being established in Hyderabad with a large workforce. These offices work for the Western World and hence operate according to their timings that is from an Indian afternoon to early morning hours and some offices round the clock. With many employees returning from work towards midnight, a few restaurants close to these offices or on the main thoroughfares of the City started “Midnight Biryani” Buffet Dinners. Normally Restaurants have to close down by 11:30 P.M., so with special permission these Midnight Biryani Buffets are run from 11:30 P.M. until about 2:30 A.M. With the success of few such restaurants many more restaurants all over the city have started Midnight Biryani Buffet. These midnight buffets have now become popular with late diners, those returning from movies and late night events, families, friends and people like me seeking the thrill of hassle free vacant roads and a midnight dinner with a good spread of food specially Hyderabad’s favorite Biryanies, Haleem and Paaya.  
The Midnight Buffet spread is as good as any lavish Dinner Buffet with Veg. and Non-Veg. Soups, Salads, Snacks, Rotis, Paya (a delicacy made with sheep or goat trotters), Haleem, Biryanies, Dry and Wet Curries with Mutton, Chicken, Fish or Prawns and with different Vegetables and a variety of Desserts. Even Continental and Chinese dishes are included.
Any one visiting Hyderabad must taste its popular Biryani, just check whether the restaurant serves the authentic Biryani or go to a Midnight Biryani Buffet which serves 2 to 3 variants of Biryanies!
Hyderabad has many more exquisite dishes like Bhagara Baingan and Mirchi Ka Salan to go with Biryani, Haleem, Paya, Qubani Ka Meeta, Double Ka Meeta and so on. When in Hyderabad if you get a chance you must taste as many as possible local dishes. In conclusion, I request you to watch this humorous song on Hyderabad’s Paya! Sorry that the video quality is not good but the Audio and the Song in typical Hyderabadi Urdu is too good: 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Godavari River is in spate.

Enjoy the above video. It is a melodious song on the magnificent Godavari River, from the movie Godavari.
Click on the following link to view photographs of River Godavari and Papikondalu – the hills along Godavari:

Following heavy rains in Maharashtra and Telangana in the past few days, Godavari River touched the 39 feet mark at Bhadrachalam 14 hours ago, and now it is at 52 feet. This is well above the Second Danger Level of 47 feet. With added heavy inflows from all its tributaries in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, River Godavari and its tributaries are swelling by the minute in Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam Districts. With more rains forecast in next two days, the situation might turn out to be grim. The official machinery has swung into action in all these districts and warned people living along banks and in low lying areas to remain alert. Boats are kept ready as standby for rescue operations at various places. They are gearing up to arrange relief camps in case the flood situation becomes grave and people have to be evacuated.
All the local TV News channels are full of reports on rising Godavari levels in all these districts.
My association with River Godavari and Bhadrachalam is for almost 30 years. I take great interest in any news originating from these places. I have written few articles on these places in my Blog. You may click on the links provided below to read those articles, I hope you will find them interesting.
Anxious to visit Bhadrachalam:
Papikondalu Cruise on Independence Day:
Sri Rama Navami:
Children love boats and boating … Me too!:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

National honour is at stake, helpless let us pray for the success of Commonwealth Games.

Most of the infrastructure and arrangements were to be ready by 31st July for the XIX Commonwealth Games to commence at New Delhi from 3rd October 2010. Unfortunately the situation seems to be very grave. According to large scale media reports and analysis much is to be done and whatever has been completed is having innumerable flaws. Simultaneously several scams involving large scale corruption, favoritism and compromise on quality by the organizers are being exposed every day. And the media is covering these scandals in depth and coining rhyming phrases, acronyms and jokes as presented below. These comments I hope will certainly help the organizers of CWG to correct them and work on a war footing in the next few weeks to become great hosts, ready for a grand inauguration and conducting all the events successfully. I am confident they would succeed and bring honours to the country, God Bless.

On a breezy morning…

On a breezy morning, Amidst plants and flowers, As the Sun was rising, The feeling was joyous! Happily as we strolled, Pic...