Monthly Archives: March 2012

Some Shots From the Nature

Nature never tires of giving us surprises. It is the end of March and the weather is taking a turn for the hot and sultry weather. Presently, the trees which have shed their old leaves are supporting fresh green and brown leaves. A few days ago, the process to shed the inefficient leaves aided by strong winds was in full progress. The roads and avenues were littered with falling dead leaves which were swept here and there by strong breeze. I remembered Kabir whenever I watched this phenomena.

Kabir was a great saint of India. He engaged in a dialogue with the God on a friendly and equal footing as opposed to so many of us who are so awed by the God and always beg for the blessings which He showers without asking. On seeing the dead leaves falling and flying away from the tree which once was adorned by them Kabir sang the song as follows:

Patta Tuta Dal Se Le Gayi Pawan Udaye
Ab Ke Bichade Kab Milenge Door Padenge Jaye
Kabir Aap Thagiye Or Na Thagiye Koi
Aap Thage Sukh Upaje Aur Thage Dukh Hoye

Which can be loosely translated as under.

It is all metaphorical. The dead leave is like a human soul who has separated and drifted away from the the creator. It can be said when these twain shall meet again. The soul will mingle with the creator and shall be released from the cyclic birth and death. So it is not good thing to fall in love of material things but introspect oneself.

Anyway the wise sage things which are easier said than done. But simple conclusion is that we should strive to become better humans. This is the lesson which nature wants to convey to us through several cues daily. Even in the time of so much rough weather, it treats us with good views.

Rib Tickling Scientific Findings

Almost in every news paper, a page is devoted to the current research and studies being carried out all over the world.  Many of these findings are very funny and evoke the laughter. The titles of these new items are even more jocular.

Often as you go through such news, it shall elaborate that study was carried out by a team of researchers from such and such university on 100 or so people. Any person with a moderate knowledge of science and having a logical mind will immediately know about the flimsy claims in these trivial studies.

But these have a positive side also. They provide us with something to laugh about, something which tickles our ribs and help bringing down the tension. These studies instead of calling the scientific studies should be called jokes and humor.

I don’t know who provides the money for such frivolous projects. After all everyone is not Newton or Einstein but at least some logic is expected from the scientific endeavors.

You must have read about the studies claiming to prove the Einstein wrong and report that they had found particles travelling faster than light. After a few days, another group reported that Einstein is still correct and the findings reported are not correct.

Below are some rib tickling headlines.

 

  1. Dark secret: gorge on chocolates to stay slim. Study finds daily consumers thinner than others.
  2. Gel that can stop beard growth.
  3. Life begins at 30. Fun time: we are happiest at 33.
  4. Fatty diet makes brain cells fat too.
  5. Watch what you wear. Girls in skimpy clothes judged as less competent.
  6. Cup of hope. Want baby? Drink 2 cups of tea daily. Beverage ups pregnancy chances by 27%
  7. Brain size linked to how many friends you have.
  8. Dream date? Women fantasize more about sex when they are most fertile
  9. Devil wears prada? No way
  10. Women make better bosses than men.
  11. Bald and beautiful. Protein find raises hope of baldness cure
  12. Silence please. Man-made noise stunts plant growth
  13. Shun mobiles for an evening a week, be happy
  14. A new study has found that ‘time off’ exercise can even help improve a person’s performance at work
  15. People who can speak 2 languages are smarter
  16. Like us, spurned flies too drown grief in booze
  17. The way you type will be your pc’s password
  18. Us defense dept working on tech that allows you to log in straightaway, bypassing secret code
  19. Short cuts. ‘love for babies stems from your brain, not heart’
  20. Even 30 sec of combat can hit memory
  21. Men can’t think straight when women are around
  22. ‘macho’ gene makes men aggressive under stress
  23. A pill to extend life by 20 years? Gene discovery raises hopes of finding fountain of youth
  24. End game: ‘god particle’ sighting just got closer. New data suggests where higgs boson could be hiding.
  25. Birth of new hope. It’s safe to have baby after breast cancer.
  26. Study reveals women who become pregnant after diagnosis tend to live longer.
  27. Indonesian women colonized Madagascar.
  28. Dangerous high women spend 3 hours a week correcting chores done by men
  29. Teething trouble t-rex’s ‘killer smile’ decoded
  30. New discovery.  Can’t stop eating? Blame ‘greedy gene’
  31. The x factor extra ‘girly’ genes boost male sex drive
  32. Daydreaming is good absent-minded kids more intelligent
  33. Healthy drink. Green tea can beat bad breath, cancer
  34. Womb woes. Obesity begins even before birth
  35. New insight. Eyes offer peek into brain health
  36. Killer bite ‘eating red meat could lead to early death’
  37. Short cuts. Promiscuous queens key to healthy bee colonies
  38. ‘the older we get the happier we are’
  39. Drug therapy . Lsd may help alcoholics give up drinking, says study
  40. Typing with left hand can make you sad, says study
  41. Humour in men is linked to aggression

Funny Rib Tickling Scientific Studies

Almost in every news paper, a page is devoted to the current research and studies being carried out all over the world.  Many of these findings are very funny and evoke the laughter. The titles of these new items are even more jocular.

Often as you go through such news, it shall elaborate that study was carried out by a team of researchers from such and such university on 100 or so people. Any person with a moderate knowledge of science and having a logical mind will immediately know about the flimsy claims in these trivial studies.

But these have a positive side also. They provide us with something to laugh about, something which tickles our ribs and help bringing down the tension. These studies instead of calling the scientific studies should be called jokes and humor.

I don’t know who provides the money for such frivolous projects. After all everyone is not Newton or Einstein but at least some logic is expected from the scientific endeavors.

You must have read about the studies claiming to prove the Einstein wrong and report that they had found particles travelling faster than light. After a few days, another group reported that Einstein is still correct and the findings reported are not correct.

Below are some rib tickling headlines.  

  1. Dark secret: gorge on chocolates to stay slim. Study finds daily consumers thinner than others.
  2. Gel that can stop beard growth.
  3. Life begins at 30. Fun time: we are happiest at 33.
  4. Fatty diet makes brain cells fat too.
  5. Watch what you wear. Girls in skimpy clothes judged as less competent.
  6. Cup of hope. Want baby? Drink 2 cups of tea daily. Beverage ups pregnancy chances by 27%
  7. Brain size linked to how many friends you have.
  8. Dream date? Women fantasize more about sex when they are most fertile
  9. Devil wears prada? No way
  10. Women make better bosses than men.
  11. Bald and beautiful. Protein find raises hope of baldness cure
  12. Silence please. Man-made noise stunts plant growth
  13. Shun mobiles for an evening a week, be happy
  14. A new study has found that ‘time off’ exercise can even help improve a person’s performance at work
  15. People who can speak 2 languages are smarter
  16. Like us, spurned flies too drown grief in booze
  17. The way you type will be your pc’s password
  18. Us defense dept working on tech that allows you to log in straightaway, bypassing secret code
  19. Short cuts. ‘love for babies stems from your brain, not heart’
  20. Even 30 sec of combat can hit memory
  21. Men can’t think straight when women are around
  22. ‘macho’ gene makes men aggressive under stress
  23. A pill to extend life by 20 years? Gene discovery raises hopes of finding fountain of youth
  24. End game: ‘god particle’ sighting just got closer. New data suggests where higgs boson could be hiding.
  25. Birth of new hope. It’s safe to have baby after breast cancer
  26. Study reveals women who become pregnant after diagnosis tend to live longer.
  27. Indonesian women colonized Madagascar.
  28. Dangerous high women spend 3 hours a week correcting chores done by men.
  29.  Teething trouble t-rex’s ‘killer smile’ decoded.
  30. New discovery.  Can’t stop eating? Blame ‘greedy gene’
  31.  The x factor extra ‘girly’ genes boost male sex drive.
  32. Daydreaming is good absent-minded kids more intelligent.
  33. Healthy drink. Green tea can beat bad breath, cancer.
  34. Womb woes. Obesity begins even before birth
  35. New insight. Eyes offer peek into brain health.
  36. Killer bite ‘eating red meat could lead to early death’.
  37. Short cuts. Promiscuous queens key to healthy bee colonies.
  38. ‘the older we get the happier we are’.
  39. Drug therapy . Lsd may help alcoholics give up drinking, says study.
  40. Typing with left hand can make you sad, says study.
  41. Humour in men is linked to aggression

Edmund Albius: Inventor of the Manual Method of Vanilla Pollination

Vanilla is rated as the second most valuable spice after Saffron. One of the reasons for their being the most valuable species in addition to right kind of climate is its labor intensive farming. Vanilla is famous for essence and find used in numerous food items.

The flavor is imparted by a organic compound Vanillin which has chemical having the name 4-hydroxy-3 methoxy benzaldehyde. Some other compounds also make contribution. Vanillin is not present in the beans. Beans contain odorless compoumd vanillin glucoside which when fermented releases the oil.

Vanilla is a native of Mexico. The pollination is possible due to the symbiotic relationship of the plant with a Melipona bee which is endemic to Mexico. The crop takes a long time of nine months to mature. Due to this reason Mexico was the only place where vanilla was found.

The vine was brought to other regions to be cultivated. The vines grew very well but were sterile because of the absence of the pollinating bee. Particularly the vine was brought to Reunion near Mauritius. Now can you believe that creativity is God gift. There on one of the farms was a slave labor whose name was Edmund Albius. At the time he was a 12 year boy, he hit upon a method of pollination by hand dusting which made it possible to pollinate the flowers and yield the crop. This was in 1841.

After this the monopoly of of Mexico was broken and due to the method developed by Edmond Albius the Madagascar and Mauritius region has become the major producer.

After the abolition of the slavery, he left the farm where he worked as a kitchen servant. He was arrested and accuse of stealing jewelery and other valuables and was jailed but was pardoned and released on account of the immense contribution made by him in making it possible for the vanilla cultivation at other places in addition to its origin location of Mexico.

Rupa Ganguly: The Multifaceted Woman

We know her as Draupadi, the stellar role she played in the epic series “Mahabharata” on Doordarshan India. That was the role which has many shades of positive and negative. Draupadi was a complex woman who was the wife to five Pandava brothers. The legend had it that she wanted a complete man like Narayana as her husband. But in the mortal world, such a person was impossible to exist. So God gave her five husbands who had been endowed with limited qualities. Combined they became a person very near to what is wanted to be her husband. It is even said by scholars that whole epic of Mahabharata was propelled by three women namely Satyavati, Kunti and Draupadi.

She had travails also and became the pawn in the quarrel between two cousin families. She was ogled by many lecherous kings and was rescued from their vices by Bhima who loved her more than all the brothers, although it was another matter that she liked Arjuna most. She was pawned by her mighty husbands in the game of dice among the hostile cousins. They lost her to Kauravas, who insulted her in the presence of elders. She then vowed and plotted to take revenge.

So this difficult role was performed by Rupa Ganguly. After that, she acted in some Bengali films. I also saw her in a TV serial Krishankali which was based on the novel of same name by famous Hindi writer Shivani. After that she also appeared in many TV soaps.

But now her another talent has been revealed. She is a singer. That she is a very good singer is attested by the Best Female Singer National award she has just bagged for lending her voice to two Rabindra songs in the movie “Abosheshe” released in 2011. She has rendered two Tagore’s songs -“Dure kothao” and “Bijon ghore” . Besides these two songs, she has also recorded an album of 10 songs. It is called “Anek Diyechho Nath”.

God knows why was she reluctant to reveal her singing talent to the public. It has been immediately appreciated. May be it is her turbulent life which has been filled with many painful incidents as revealed in the press. She has to move between Mumbai and Kolkata which shows that how unsettled her life had been.

Let us hope that her future be bright and she enthralls the audiences with her acting as well as singing.

Sitting under a Banyan Tree

More than 70% population lives in villages. In the olden days, when there were no facilities like television, radio etc, then people in the villages devised ways to entertain them. The menfolk sat under the cool shade of the trees, smoke the hookah and converse with each other. They would talk about all the things under the Sun like their family matters which in any case were not private matters, about the condition of crops and irrigation water, untimely rains which visited to damage their crops. It was a culture in which individuality was a second priority and collective or commonality was the norm.

Women on the other hand slogged all day and night in the homes tending to hearth, rearing multitudes of children, milking the animals, and so many other things. Only time they were together was when they gathered at the village well for fetching the water in the pitchers. There they will banter about their travails and amorous things and other scandalous things like who had run away with whom and illicit liaisons. They spent long time there. Another activity which brought them together was washing the clothes on the stones or steps of the shores of rivers,  tanks and wells.

Most important of the trees where the menfolk whiled away their time was Banyan tree which almost every village had near a temple or any other religious place. Mostly elderly people sat there. The name Banyan is derived from the “Bania” which is trading community and they used to take rest under these trees while going from village to village.

Banyan is a very large tree, spreading by aerial roots which as they age eventually become additional trunks and help in sucking the nutrients and thus expanding the girth of the tree. In fact the secondary  roots act like its feet and the tree can over the years walk from its original location. They have a very long life span. Older trees can reach more than 200m in diameter, covering an area of some hectares with a height of 30 meters.

In contrast to its huge size, the fruits – called figs are only about 1.8cm in diameter orange-red turning scarlet when ripe. They have hardly any stalks so grow very close to the branches. The ripe fruits are very popular with birds and monkeys and are eaten by humans in times of famine.

The tree is commonly found in south east Asia and venerated particularly by Hindus and Buddhists. It is known by many names like Banyan in  English, Bahupada, vata in Sanskrit, Bar, bargad, bor in  Hindi, Bar, bot in  Bengali, Vad, vadlo, vor in Gujurati, Vada, wad, war in Marathi, Marri, peddamarri, vati in Telugu, Al, Alam in Tamil, Ala, alada mara, vata in Kannada, Alo, vatan in Malayalam.

Its botanical name is Ficus benghalensis and it belongs to the fig family Moraceae.Generally, it cohabits with another sacred tree called Pipul.

The tree features in many myths. The tree represents eternal life because it supports its expanding canopy by growing special roots from its branches. These roots hang down and act as props over an ever widening circle, reflecting the Sanskrit name bahupada, meaning ‘one with many feet’.

In Hinduism, tree represents immortality and there are many stories about it in ancient literature. In a song called the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ or ‘Song of the Lord‘, Krishna uses the banyan tree as a symbol to describe the true meaning of life to the warrior hero Arjuna. Banyan is viewed by Hindus as the male plant to the closely related peepul or bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa). It is regarded as a sin to destroy either of these trees. It is commendable for a person to plant a young banyan close to a peepul, and this is done with a ceremony similar to that of marriage. It is customary to place a piece of silver money under the roots of the young banyan.

Banyan is mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka tales. In the tale of Satyavan and Savitri, Satyavan lost his life beneath the branches of a banyan. Savitri courageously entered into a debate with Yama, the God of Death, and won his life back. In memory of this couple, in the month of Jyestha during May and June, the tree is celebrated. Married women visit a banyan and pray for the long life of their husbands.

The tree is associated with the life of the 15th century saint Kabir. A giant tree is said to have sprung from a twig he had chewed. People of all religions use its great leafy canopy to meditate or rest. It is said that the wise Markandeya found shelter under it during a torrential downpour.

Minor deities such as yakshas (tree spirits), Kinnaras (half-human, half-animal) and gandharvas (celestial musicians) are believed to dwell in the branches on banyan trees. Ghosts and demons are also associated with its branches. Because it is believed that many spirits are harboured in the banyan, people do not sleep under it at night.

The tree parts like stem and leaves are used to make many medicine in India.

Sitting under a Banyan Tree

More than 70% population lives in villages. In the olden days, when there were no facilities like television, radio etc, then people in the villages devised ways to entertain them. The menfolk sat under the cool shade of the trees, smoke the hookah and converse with each other. They would talk about all the things under the Sun like their family matters which in any case were not private matters, about the condition of crops and irrigation water, untimely rains which visited to damage their crops. It was a culture in which individuality was a second priority and collective or commonality was the norm.

Women on the other hand slogged all day and night in the homes tending to hearth, rearing multitudes of children, milking the animals, and so many other things. Only time they were together was when they gathered at the village well for fetching the water in the pitchers. There they will banter about their travails and amorous things and other scandalous things like who had run away with whom and illicit liaisons. They spent long time there. Another activity which brought them together was washing the clothes on the stones or steps of the shores of rivers,  tanks and wells.

Most important of the trees where the menfolk whiled away their time was Banyan tree which almost every village had near a temple or any other religious place. Mostly elderly people sat there. The name Banyan is derived from the “Bania” which is trading community and they used to take rest under these trees while going from village to village.

Banyan is a very large tree, spreading by aerial roots which as they age eventually become additional trunks and help in sucking the nutrients and thus expanding the girth of the tree. In fact the secondary  roots act like its feet and the tree can over the years walk from its original location. They have a very long life span. Older trees can reach more than 200m in diameter, covering an area of some hectares with a height of 30 meters.

In contrast to its huge size, the fruits – called figs are only about 1.8cm in diameter orange-red turning scarlet when ripe. They have hardly any stalks so grow very close to the branches. The ripe fruits are very popular with birds and monkeys and are eaten by humans in times of famine.

The tree is commonly found in south east Asia and venerated particularly by Hindus and Buddhists. It is known by many names like Banyan in  English, Bahupada, vata in Sanskrit, Bar, bargad, bor in  Hindi, Bar, bot in  Bengali, Vad, vadlo, vor in Gujurati, Vada, wad, war in Marathi, Marri, peddamarri, vati in Telugu, Al, Alam in Tamil, Ala, alada mara, vata in Kannada, Alo, vatan in Malayalam.

Its botanical name is Ficus benghalensis and it belongs to the fig family Moraceae.Generally, it cohabits with another sacred tree called Pipul.

The tree features in many myths. The tree represents eternal life because it supports its expanding canopy by growing special roots from its branches. These roots hang down and act as props over an ever widening circle, reflecting the Sanskrit name bahupada, meaning ‘one with many feet’.

In Hinduism, tree represents immortality and there are many stories about it in ancient literature. In a song called the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ or ‘Song of the Lord‘, Krishna uses the banyan tree as a symbol to describe the true meaning of life to the warrior hero Arjuna. Banyan is viewed by Hindus as the male plant to the closely related peepul or bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa). It is regarded as a sin to destroy either of these trees. It is commendable for a person to plant a young banyan close to a peepul, and this is done with a ceremony similar to that of marriage. It is customary to place a piece of silver money under the roots of the young banyan.

Banyan is mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka tales. In the tale of Satyavan and Savitri, Satyavan lost his life beneath the branches of a banyan. Savitri courageously entered into a debate with Yama, the God of Death, and won his life back. In memory of this couple, in the month of Jyestha during May and June, the tree is celebrated. Married women visit a banyan and pray for the long life of their husbands.

The tree is associated with the life of the 15th century saint Kabir. A giant tree is said to have sprung from a twig he had chewed. People of all religions use its great leafy canopy to meditate or rest. It is said that the wise Markandeya found shelter under it during a torrential downpour.

Minor deities such as yakshas (tree spirits), Kinnaras (half-human, half-animal) and gandharvas (celestial musicians) are believed to dwell in the branches on banyan trees. Ghosts and demons are also associated with its branches. Because it is believed that many spirits are harboured in the banyan, people do not sleep under it at night.

The tree parts like stem and leaves are used to make many medicine in India.