November 28, 2005

Danushkodi Ramasamy - A great man

Danushkodi Ramasamy 63, an eminent tamil writer & teacher passed away on Thursday night (24/11/2005).
The Hindu reports his death here.

Danushkodi Sir was from a very humble background, His tamil prowess left people spellbound and his dedication as a teacher was something that the teacher community should emulate.

He was a very good family friend of ours, with the bonding going back to his first posting as a teacher in my native village - kallakulathur, near Tindivanam, in the late 1960s. Over the years he had grown into a close associate of my Grandfather & respectable "Sir" to my parents. I had always looked in awe at his 'kambeera kural'. Tamil definitely sounded 100 times better when he spoke. Even though, he had migrated to Saatur (near madurai) & settled there, the ties were very much strong.

He had spent his last days at our house in chennai, getting treated for Cancer. But alas, nature got the better of him. He is survived by his Wife (a very pleasing aunty) & his son, a doctor (Aram).

I'm sure I'm going to miss his "Vaangha Engineer Madam" ;-(

November 19, 2005

Chola Murals in Thanjavur Temple

Chola murals, which remained hidden for three centuries, can now be viewed at the Big temple in Thanjavar.

Painted on the inner walls of the sanctum sanctorum, the murals, which are at least 1,000 years old, could not be seen because Nayakar paintings were mounted on them about three centuries ago.

Technology lends the helping hand in preserving both the older chola murals & the latter Nayakar paintings.

The Hindu reports that The Archaeological Survey of India digitally documented the Chola murals and mounted them on fibre panels.

BTW, this is World Heritage Week ! Letz see what the ASI is doing abt it.

November 10, 2005

Welcome back - Sunshine

Hurray! Good old Sunshine is back in chennai after three weeks of Rains. Not even in my wildest of dreams, I would have dreamt of this welcome song!
Now I understand West's obsession for Sunshine..& why flatter a girl by glorifying her as sunshine...Unlike our places, where the girl is always linked to the Moon..Nila ;-))

November 09, 2005

Arikamedu archaeological site

Arikamedu has a unique sequence of archeological cultural deposit from Iron Age (300 BC) to French rule in 1800 AD

The 60-acre archaeological site at Arikamedu near Pondicherry will soon get a major facelift. The Hindu covers this development.
"Once the land is leveled, the ASI would start new excavations. For the conservation of the old excavated site and for the new excavations the ASI would spend Rs. 10 lakhs, said T. Sathyamurthy, Superintendent ASI (Chennai Circle),. "HUDCO is expected to start the work by January next year", he added.
I was particularly thrilled to read ""A master plan is also being worked for Senji Fort, near Tindivanam. The idea is to make Arikamedu-Senji-Thiruvannamalai a heritage tourism circuit," he added."
Ideas like this should be encouraged & more such circuits should be developed.

Have a look at, they have a Save Arikamedu Program running. The arikamedu blog gives us more info.

Ahh ..An Article

Comeon...Rediff can post something more worthwhile in its real estate..
If u simply have nothing to do..Read this How to Reycle your Diwali Gifts Article.
The author should be a whizkid of one kind to belt out ideas like
"Distribute the sweets & Gift Hampers to ur neighbours"
"Store the dryfruits in airtight containers & use it later"
"Recycle the gift wrappers"...

I'm sure I can write better columns than this!! Rediff ..are u listening??

November 07, 2005

Vyasarpadi Tragedy

Six women died and several others were injured in a stampede at Dr. Ambedkar Arts College at Vyasarpadi, north Chennai, on Sunday Nov 6th, when flood-affected residents made a dash to a relief distribution centre there.
It happened at the wee hours in the morning ..around 4.30 a.m, Even though the relief distribution was to begin at 8 a.m.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has announced an ex gratia payment of Rs.1 lakh to each of the next of kin of those killed and Rs.15,000 to the injured.
These incidents just make me sad at the sorry plight of affairs.
Hindu reports on this Stampede

Worse..was yet to come. The ruling party starts off to say it was because of a rumour that the incident had happened. And, that the opposite party was the mastermind behind the incident. Jaya TV has started blazing its gun at SUN TV & squarely blaming them for spreading rumours. Obviously, SUN TV is having flash news roll, blaming the government over the deaths.
These people have trivialized the entire issue & are resorting to gain political mileage out of the tragic incident.
"News" always meant "opinion" in TamilNadu's Media.

P.S: Sometime back in the North, there was a stampede at a function organized to celebrate Vajpayee B'day & a quite a few ended up giving up their lives for a 200 Rs. Saree..The news had created a ripple then ..& I wonder what happened to the organizers. I dont recall any arrests or any one being convicted in that case...So much for our Legal system!!

November 03, 2005

Hitting the Jackpot with Heritage Tourism

Heritage Tourism is one hell of a Jackpot that promises to be a great potential for generating revenue. India has scores of such sites, just literally being converted in to ugly looking ruins with near perfect programming.

Active Heritage Tourism would serve a dual purpose

- The all-precious past is saved from fading in to oblivion
- Cash cow - with Dollars & Euros pouring in (Rupees will follow)

Problems that are confronting us

- The mighty majority is simply not bothered. Can't blame them, when getting a decent roof over their head itself is a question mark. Atleast people can restrain from vandalizing the monuments.

- That leaves the Government & NGOs to pitch in. The tourism department as such has quite a lot of fund at its disposal, using the money for building the much needed infrastructure around the heritage site would be a straight task for them..But then U know where the money goes...

- Lack of information.

Bright Bulbs from my head

- From the school level, the children should be trained to be responsive to the environment; awareness & a sense of pride should be inculcated.

- The tourism ministry should raise to the occasion & deliver what is expected out of them, that includes - extensive information thro all communications channels( The website is just plain pathetic now), Decent transport & infrastructure should be developed.

- Corporates, NGOs & Government should form a network & work out things. ( For eg., Infosys can sponsor a truly world class accommodation facilities in Bellur)

- Mainstream Media can increase their focus to these areas too..It is a pity that I cant watch History, Discovery channels (Curse the CAS in Chennai). Jaya TV, has a 5 minute slot every day in their news bulletin to showcase forgotten monuments in tamilnadu. A good watch, I must say.

More thoughts would follow!!

Late Tamil Sangam age temple - discovered near Mahabalipuram

Superintending Archaeologist, T. Satyamurthy, (ASI), Chennai Circle) who is the director of the excavation at the site, said the brick temple "definitely belongs to the late Tamil Sangam age. There is no doubt that it is 2,000 years old. It is the most ancient temple discovered so far in Tamil Nadu. I can say that with authority."

According to archaeologists, the temple is dedicated to Muruga. An inscription in Tamil on a rock near the excavated site led to the discovery of the temple. The rock, lodged in sand, was exposed fully by the tsunami that struck Mahabalipuram on December 26, 2004.

Frontline gives the rather long story with some nice snaps

BBC focusses on the Tsunami factor in the discovery.

I look forward to more such excavations to fill in the missing links & clear up the air in tamil history...of which not much is documented and easily available.

Why is that we don't get access to the progress made after the excavations. I'm still in the dark as to what happened to this 'oldest temple' in Tamilnadu.

November 02, 2005

Stanford University wins DARPA race

The Stanford Racing Team was awarded 2 million dollars for being the first team to complete the 132 mile DARPA Grand Challenge course.

The Grand Challenge is an off-road robot competition devised by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to promote research in the area of autonomous vehicles. The challenge consists of building a robot capable of navigating 175 miles through desert terrain in less than 10 hours, with no human intervention.

Stanley, the Car finished in just under 6 hours 54 minutes and averaged over 19 miles per hours on the course.

More info on The Grand Challenge
Awesome stuff behind Stanley : Read it here Techonolgy