Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why doesn’t it rain in Hyderabad, as in the past?

JUNE has come to an end, it is a month since rainy season has started but there have been no rains in Hyderabad, just a drizzle of few minutes, on perhaps five occasions. The monsoon is sometimes showing up in the dark clouds and the cool breeze but without a drop of rain.
I wonder why it doesn’t rain in Hyderabad as in the past. I remember very well the rainy seasons of my school days. We used to have plenty of rains; I am saying this based on many memories of those rainy seasons. It used to rain mostly in the mornings or in the evenings. In the morning the rain used to start before dawn and sometimes last until little over school starting time. In such cases our school along with many other schools used to declare a holiday expecting poor attendance or fearing a school building collapse! If it is raining heavily before school time I used to call up the school to confirm a holiday and if that is not possible call up a friend close to the school and enjoy a holiday. And in the evenings it used to start raining from some time before the school is let off. This was a very regular pattern. I always carried a raincoat in my school bag.  
The past makes me wonder why it doesn’t rain in Hyderabad as before. I have no answer. The meteorological department keeps my hopes high with lots of optimism. The rains may come later, mostly due to turbulence in the Bay of Bengal rather than the South West monsoon. And give us some relief we deserve after a severe summer and fill up our City’s water supply sources to some extent so that we may continue to get 45 minutes water supply! every alternate day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

“Monsoon Rally – 2011”, brings back fond memories of my Car for 18 years!

Yesterday, a Vintage Car Rally – “Monsoon Rally 2011” was held at Hyderabad on Tankbund. The Fiat Classic Club Hyderabad (FCCH) participated in the rally with 11 Fiat Cars of 1950’s and 1960’s. This event brought back fond memories of the “Fiat -Premier Padmini Deluxe Car, ADL 2210” I owned for 18 years.
Those were the days of only two brands of Cars in India, the Ambassador and Fiat. Driving in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad was a pleasure, with just a fraction of the present traffic and no parking problems. Today driving in the city has become cumbersome and irritating with chaotic traffic and high levels of pollution.
The photographs attached to this article speak about the long and memorable attachment we had with this Car. This Car is with a Petrol Engine of capacity 1089 cc, 40 bhp (Ord.) and 48 bhp (S1), Torque of 70.6 Nm at 3000 rpm, a wheel base of 2340 mm, length of 3905 mm and width of 1460 mm. Seating and driving comfort were quite good and more than all the purpose it served for 18 years is excellent and the fond memories it left are forever!

People fume as fuel prices are regularly hiked by a helpless/hopeless government.

The price of Petrol, Diesel and Cooking Gas has increased enormously and specially in the past few months, as can be seen in the above charts. The government says that the rise in fuel price is inevitable as they cannot manage any further subsidy. The import costs and production costs of the State owned oil companies are regularly going up and the government has no other alternative other than passing on the burden to the people. The government’s decision will rein in the fiscal deficit and free up revenues for other programmes and will help our oil companies to make profits. The timing of such price-rise announcements is very interesting; they are made after elections in some States or between scams and problems when life and future of the government/leaders seems comfortable.
Unfortunately our government cannot control the fallout of their hike, an uncontrollable inflation. The direct rise in Petrol and Diesel costs will affect every vehicle owner and the sharp price rise in the case of Cooking Gas will affect every common man’s pocket. All major sectors like Transport, Automobile, FMCG, Textiles and so on will get affected. As a result of every such increase in fuel cost, the price of all items starting from the early morning cup of coffee or tea to a nightcap would increase proportionately or mischievously. That is the price of vegetables, food grains, beverages, fruits, transportation and what not; nothing is exempted from some rate of increase. And unfortunately there is nothing the Government can do in this regard, other than being a silent onlooker to the suffering of its people and taking the blame, of which they are never bothered until next election time!
President Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.”
Naturally the common people of India are fuming!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

“Happy that the officials of a heartless Government are not around…”

“How can I not be emotional, I am not the Indian Government…” “Happy that the officials of a heartless Government were not around…” These are harsh but true feelings of family members of the six Indian sailors who returned to India yesterday after being freed by Somali pirates after 10 months in captivity. The sailors and their families are disappointed and unhappy with our government as it did not play any role in their release or in bringing them back to India. They said that the government of our great country was as merciless as the owners of their ship.
They profusely thanked Mr. Ansar Burney of Pakistan, a human rights activist who arranged the ransom money of US $2.1 million for their release and that of another 16 fellow crew members held along with them on their Egyptian cargo vessel – M.V. Suez; which the pirates seized on 2nd August 2010. The family members of the sailors requested Mr. Burney, through international media, to visit India so that they can personally thank and honor him. They felt happy that no representative of the government was there to receive them! Had they come; the representatives would enact a funny drama to express their all out support for their countrymen in distress and make tall speeches in praise of their supreme leader and her progeny!
Such harsh feelings about our government and the party in power are very common around me. Tour among the local people of Telangana; in their ten districts, and you will find that 99 out of every 100 persons would say that this government makes false promises to come to power, it cannot solve problems, it postpones decisions with lame excuses, it is heartless, it is timid in acting against the misdeeds of the rich and powerful but it can be very cruel and brutal against those who point out government indecision, inefficiency, corruption, misrule and lawlessness. This is not the situation today but for decades in Telangana.
It is said that: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and that “With great power comes great insanity and inefficiency”. Unfortunately this seems to be always true in our case… I wonder for how long!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tribute to Professor Dr. Jayashankar (6 August 1934 - 21 June 2011):

Deeply mourn the death of Prof. Jayashankar, a great son of Telangana, one who fought his entire life for the betterment of his people. His soul will rest in peace only when Telangana State is formed. Hope the Governments, Political parties and Politicians who have come to power in the last two General elections by promising separate Telangana State would declare it without any further delay.
And if the politicians keep on betraying us, let us intensify our agitation and achieve Telangana State. Today as his body lies in state, this sincere resolve of us would be our tribute to Prof. Jayashankar, immortal son of Telangana.
May he now guide and bless us from heaven to achieve our goal.
Please CLICK HERE for brief details on the illustrious life of Professor Jayashankar.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Unpretentious “Upma” of South India makes international news!

Indian born Chef Floyd Cardoz won Top Chef Masters Season 3 competition at Los Angeles and won US $100,000 by preparing Upma! on 15th June that is 16th June in India. All Newspapers in Hyderabad and TV channels were happy to report this news yesterday.   
South Indians do not need an introduction to this popular and common dish. It is a very popular South Indian breakfast dish and for that matter any time snack. It is a quick and easy to prepare dish. It is a semolina porridge with Indian spices, which can be prepared with a variety of vegetables and cashew nuts and is excellent when eaten hot.
Upma is said to be a boon to the ladies as it can be prepared easily and quickly and a curse to the men folk, if it is prepared too often – ఉప్మా; ఆడ వారికి వరము, మగ వారికి శాపము.
And Chef Cardoz was kind enough to donate the prize money to the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund, in memory of his father. 

Enjoying the good weather on a Motorcycle!

Summer has come to an end, the day and night temperatures have fallen and the rainy season has commenced. Just a few showers, heavy rains haven’t started at Hyderabad. Since three days it is mostly cloudy with a cool breeze in the mornings and evenings and an occasional drizzle. After a long and hot summer there is nothing like enjoying this pleasant weather. What better way than a Motorbike ride in such pleasant weather! With cool breeze around us, the effect of strong wind on our faces and hands, the true feel of acceleration, the roar of the Motorbike engine and close connection with the road is a great feeling but only for short rides.
An early morning ride around Hussain Sagar before the traffic picks up or much better a ride out of the city on Medchal Road any time of a ‘good weather day’ for some hot refreshments along the way would be a highly enjoyable experience. As you must be aware there are a number of Dhabas along this highway. Such an outing in a car with the whole family would be great fun and equally enjoyable and much safer; but the Motorbike experience, I think has an edge when you are alone or with a partner.
Much better way of enjoying the pleasant weather would be a daylong picnic with all your loved ones far from the city; under trees, amidst greenery and along streams surrounded by natural beauty!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Longest and darkest Lunar Eclipse of the century occurred last night.

A much talked about lunar eclipse, unusually long and dark, occurred last night. The eclipse started at 10:50 PM and lasted for 100 minutes. We witnessed the eclipse from our rooftop and over various TV Channels, alternatively. This eclipse will go down in history as this century’s longest and darkest total lunar eclipse. The next such eclipse will only take place after 130 years that is in the year 2141. None of us who had the opportunity of seeing this eclipse would be able to see another ‘over 100-minutes lunar eclipse’, no one alive today for that matter!
As usual all the Temples remained closed due to the eclipse from yesterday evening till today morning. As for us we are following the regular tradition associated with an eclipse. We had our dinner early last night. Today morning the floor of the house is washed and we had head bath with some holy water from Ganges mixed in the bathwater. And now in our Pooja room Thiruvanjanam / Pulikapu is in progress. And only after Harathi and Theertham we would have our breakfast.
The above photograph and video are to illustrate about last night’s eclipse. You may read a detailed article I wrote in July 2009 on eclipses and the traditions and superstitions associated with it by - Clicking Here: "A Lunar eclipse caused the Crescent mark on my forehead."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Predicting rain in the past and present.

I am writing this article in the context of recent rain forecasts mostly going wrong. In mid May, it was announced by the weather authorities and news channels that the South West Monsoon would be reaching Kerala early this year. The news was that Monsoon would reach Kerala by end May and Telangana within a week from then. Two weeks of June are past and it has rained just 9 mm this rainy season at Hyderabad and that too mostly in the outskirts. It is not just this rainy season but even in the last few years the forecasts have been mostly awry, the opposite of the forecasts!
I know that long term forecasts are complicated but with all the scientific data from innumerable sources like satellites and weather stations it makes me wonder why the probability of forecasts being correct is so low. Even the next day and the current day forecasts go wrong. When a depression forms over Bay of Bengal Ocean, rain and rough weather is predicted very emphatically over certain areas, for few days. Then a running commentary commences on the path of depression and when and at which place it would cross the coast. Whatever the predictions the course of the depression is mostly different from the expectations and it would either weaken or pass on to touch a different State or Country hundreds of kilometers away from the first forecast area. As a novice it is not right for me to blame anyone for such forecasts. I have to accept that weather forecasting is a complicated field and total perfection may never be possible. But what I hope is that in the near future the percentage of correct weather forecasts would increase.
During my school and college days, I used to interact with Laxminarsaiah, an elderly night watchman of our house. He was illiterate, he could not read or write Telugu but he had lot of practical knowledge that would make him a wise man in his village. He knew folklore and epics, Telugu months, days, forthcoming festivals and auspicious days and time. He knew how to reach his home at night by looking at the stars, the names of which he knew. He knew of agriculture, cultivation and crops, and coming to our subject he knew very well about weather and climate. In his earlier days and at the time of our interaction, the seasons were very much in order. The seasons appeared like clockwork and were pretty the same every year with minor variations. He was able to forecast an ensuing heat wave, a cool evening breeze in midsummer and of the commencement of rainy season and of rains in advance. Regarding rainy season and rain forecasting he told me that the indicators were building of nests by weaver birds, singing of cuckoo birds, movement of ants and termites in rows, movement of dragon flies, red clouds during sunrise and sunset, sky with tiny clouds in fish scale formation, flocking of sheep, flapping of ears by goats, halo around sun and moon, low clouds, dark clouds, lightning and of course the smell of distant rain in the breeze. His predictions were mostly correct.
Modern scientific methods I am sure are superior to the olden methods of forecasting mastered by our watchman. If we can bring into control the world’s climatic changes, the disharmony in the appearance and intensity of seasons it would be easier for our weathermen to forecast precisely. And if necessary by combining the knowledge of ancient forecasting!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Few recent “facebook photo-posts” by Lalitha, on our children.

Here are some interesting “facebook photo-posts” by my wife in the last three days, on our children:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mrigashira, Monsoon and Murrel!

Today is Mrigashira Karthe, it would begin at 10:15 PM and end tomorrow, 9th June at 9:00 PM. Rain on Mrigashira day is a good omen. Rain on Mrigashira day is considered benevolent; it forecasts a very good rainfall in the current monsoon season.  And luckily it rained today morning and again in the evening and looking at the overcast sky it looks like it is going to rain tonight and tomorrow and the prediction will come true this year!
As I have written earlier we have the custom of eating fish on Mrigashira Karthe day so we are having fish for tonight’s dinner and for all the meals tomorrow! Murrel is the most commonly consumed fish on this occasion but we are also having another delicacy Seer. We look forward to this day for having compulsory fish!
Mrigashira Karthe day is significant for one other reason. It has made Hyderabad popular all over the world for its Fish Medicine or Fish Prasadam which is administered as a cure for Asthma, free of cost on Mrigashira day.
I have written two articles on Mrigashira Karthe earlier, 1) Hyderabad’s “Fish Prasadam” for treatment of Asthma and 2) It is our tradition to eat fish on “Mrigashira Karthe”. You may reach these articles by clicking on the following links:

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...