Friday, August 29, 2008

Game anyone?

We went out and bought Scrabble. And I won the first game by a whisker. This was a result of the obsession with the online word game Scrabulous. The younger one did not approve of it. Something to do with the IP rights (which is her chosen field of study).
But then I enjoy it and like Solitaire, this is another pastime that I can turn to and while away some time. I am glad it is not a part of Facebook anymore and has its own website.
I have always loved word games ever since I can remember. My parents bought the game when I was a kid. I think it went by the name Spell o Fun or something like that! And we played it till the letters got erased by the constant abrasion as we shook the bag vigorously and pulled out the tiles as we played.

With not many entertainment options those days, we had simple games and a lot of participation of adults . This was good bonding time with the elders. Some evenings we would sit out under the stars in the garden and play games like Buzz ( we had to be good with our multiplication tables) and Memory. Everything seemed to be related to learning and sharpening our mind. And it was all fun and the competition was intense.

Even card games had some purpose. There was a game of Etiquette ( or was it Manners?) where we had to source our missing cards but could acquire it only when we prefixed it with Please may I have the six of hearts and a Thank you if it was handed over . If in haste the magic word was forgotten we would have to give back the card and lose a turn!

More recently with my kids we have played Cluedo, Uno, Pictionary, Boggle and had just as much fun.

The irritation of the other occupant of the house (:-) was what prompted me to buy the registered board game so that participation of all inmates(?) was possible. And I hope to have more evenings of fun (and togetherness) and expand my vocabulary.

The online game though had some words which had me stumped - Jo (?) - sweetheart , Xi 14th letter of the Greek Alphabet - Qi - Chinese - circulating life's energy.

And when I am alone I shall continue playing with strangers with stranger names who type in messages like gg, gl, lol, ty. Who knows these words may find their way into the dictionary sometime in future!

Till the matter is sorted out in court, I personally feel that Scrabulous might actually increase the sales of the original Hasbro board game just like it did in my case.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bird Brained

Ever since we moved into our new home in March this year, it has been an ongoing battle with the pigeons. The balcony has a ledge and the birds found it convenient especially in the few days the house was vacant ( before we moved in) to set up a nest. Fortunately there were only twigs and no eggs and I had no qualms about dusting it off the ledge. Besides the mess that was created, they would fly in suddenly and frighten me out of my wits.

I first covered most open niches with newspaper. To some extent it worked. I went online and did some major research. I realised that it was a universal problem.

I read that that the UK Government was also troubled by the pigeons dirtying Trafalgar Square and at one time had four Harris hawks ( the air force - Stripey, Squirt, Nelson and Nathan) to scare the birds away. However some said that the expenses incurred were so high (£28 per pigeon ) that they felt "For that sort of money, you could have got a few MPs to run round the square all day chasing the birds away."

Some troubled souls online offered remedies like guns ( most effective they said) or pin tacks ( however much I wanted to get rid of them, this was a cruel method, I thought), soapy lather so that they would slip as soon as they set their little feet on the surface ( some found it funny!). I chose to hang some Cd's around. The neighbours must have thought I had queer ideas of decoration!! They did reflect bright colours as the light streamed on them. It did seem to work initially but they soon got used to it and on cloudy days they were of no use. Then I finally found some packaging material that fitted into the ledge and there was peace for a while. Since the house is locked for most part of the day the pigeons worked undisturbed and tried their best to dislodge the material. They succeeded partially and then settled to remove the sticks from the top of the broom that was kept out at a corner for their nest.

Not to be outsmarted I took some brown tape and rolled it over the top of the broom. I had a huge smile plastered on my face, but not for long when I found the birds trying to dislodge the sticks from the bottom of the broom!. And so the battle continues.

Well, one thing for sure, if ever you are called bird brained, take it as a compliment. They are definitely smarter and more hard working than some humans I know!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stolen Antiquities ...

A remark by my daughter and the editorial in today’s paper on stolen antiquities prompted this post. The children had been to the Tower of London and they felt that they had paid a stiff entrance fee only to view the crown jewels of which most were from our country!

The editorial in The Hindu was about the reinstallation of the 1,700-year-old Aksum Obelisk that was recently completed at the world heritage site of Aksum in Ethiopia. The Italians returned the obelisk that was taken to Rome by the Italian troops. After successful mediation by UNESCO, the Italian Government returned the obelisk and also paid for the transportation and the reinstallation. The article states that not all stolen properties would have such happy endings.

On our visit to London we spent time at the British Museum and browsed the different galleries where some of the priceless antiquities that were seized from the different colonies where the British ruled are on display.

As the value of the antiquities is being recognised it is not surprising that illegal smuggling of some of the stolen treasures is on the rise and these find their way into private collections and shockingly into some renowned museums. Laws are thus being put in place to put a check to this. There are some like Michael Kremer, a Harvard economics professor and Tom Wilkening, a graduate student at MIT who suggest that instead of flatly banning the export of antiquities they should allow them to be rented. Their argument is that a poor country may not have the money or the know how to dig up, catalog and store the artefacts. And this might further encourage the smugglers to gain easy access to them. And they feel a leasing arrangement might infact protect the treasures! Interesting thought!

That aside, in our very own neighbourhood we have the Salar Jung Museum , where we have the largest one man collection in the world on display. The amazing collection is worth a view. It has been rumoured that when the collection was shifted from the original building which was in a dilapidated condition a lot of artefacts went missing. The Museum is one of the better maintained ones in the country. In comparison the Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur is a let down. The building itself is beautiful and imposing. Alas, the maintenance so poor. The beautiful collection of exhibits have no adequate lighting, birds fly at will and dirty the place, there are layers of dust on the glass counters, the description boards are pathetic.

All that taken into account, I know it may seem unpatriotic but some of our treasures are infact taken care off in a befitting manner and admired by so many at the British Museum. And to top it all entrance to the Museum is free! Until we learn to respect and take care of our heritage, we can leave it to the British to do this for us.
In return maybe they should give us a concession on the entry fee at the Tower of London.

A year ...

My daughter and son in law celebrate their first wedding anniversary. We wish them years and years of good health and happiness.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Photography not permitted.

This is a signboard that greets tourists at most Indian tourist spots. Most strange!. At some places they have an extra charge for a camera and a heavier fee for a handy cam. I can understand if you do not permit photography for security reasons at defence areas, airports etc. But at popular tourist spots? Most other places do not have any restrictions on photography at their international airports

It was most annoying when we had been to Jaipur. The forts were so beautiful and just waiting to be captured on camera. And you had some toughie checking bags for cameras being smuggled in. In the era where most mobile phones have built in cameras it seems so illogical. When you are trying to woo the tourist to India this is one rule that can be done away with. I have tried looking for sites where I can make a suggestion/feedback to the authorities concerned.

With wiki maps for the general public and satellites that can photograph all minute details on ground, it is time for those in the Tourism Department to wake up and abolish rules that were perhaps made in the 18th Century.

Monday, August 11, 2008

India gets her first gold medal!!

Abhinav Bindra brings home India's first gold medal in the individual events. A proud day for all of us. And once again the media has gone berserk. True the lad deserves it but before long he will have the MNC's at his doorstep with ad contracts and there will be award ceremonies in quick succession. We hope that unlike our cricketers the young man, who has had his emotions in control, will not succumb to the all the hype and remain focused on the sport and serve as an inspiration to youngsters.
We hope there will be a lot of introspection and pave way for better coaching of our sports persons ( he had a foreign coach) and facilities ( his father provided shooting facilities of olympic standard at home!!). Not all can afford that at an individual level and that is the least the nationals sports body should provide talented sports persons.
There's more to sports in India than just cricket!! Cheers!

The Howrah Bridge

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breaking News

I read this interesting article in Campaign India. The author asks 'Why should TV channels outdo Perry Mason'?. He goes on about news that followed the bomb blasts in India. The TV channels instead of reporting news were busy trying to solve the case.

He says quote -Why do news channels feel that they need to “crack” each case before the official investigative agencies do? Why can’t they limit their coverage to accurate and timely reportage of the news and of the facts?I find it an insult to my intelligence if a reporter, within minutes of the first blasts, propounds a theory on why the terrorists selected locations a,b and c. I find it an insult to my intelligence if a reporter, within minutes of the first blasts, tells me who is responsible for the attack.I’ve used the first person singular, but I refuse to believe that I’m alone. I think it’s time someone said to the news television channels:“You are not the Home ministry. You are not the Central Bureau of Investigation. You are not the Director General of Police. You are not even a beat constable.” unquote.

News channels seem to have forgotten their objective of reporting facts. They seem to be eager to create news and sensationalise their report. In a recent case, they even proclaimed an innocent man a murderer
With the number of news channels that are available, it seems that they are trying their best to outdo the other. There are many instances when news on TV leaves one very disturbed. The channels do not seem to have any respect for privacy and treat subjects with little or no sensitivity.

It is therefore of no surprise that I turn to what are termed 'mindless programs' on TV for a little entertainment. And wait for the newspaper the next day, partly to read the news and more for the daily crossword.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Friendship Day

The first Sunday in the month of August has been declared Friendship Day. For almost the last 7-8 years a friend religiously calls to wish me even when she is overseas. My children were very amused the first time she called ( after all wasn't this supposed to be for their generation only) .
Even though we do not believe a day be proclaimed for friendship, yet the list of those who call or exchange mails has increased over the years. As a friend wrote in a mail I received today- fond memories always treasured keep our bonds strong despite time and distance.
That speaks volumes.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Sunday Breakfast

Breakfast on a Sunday ( on most days ) is the dosa. Sometimes the plain dosa and on other days the rava dosa, adai or pesarattu.
The tradition started when we got married. We started our home only with basic necessities. And the mixer-grinder did not figure in that list. We however received a tiffin carrier of dosas from my dad's place. We had a household help who would come on his bicycle each week with a tiffin carrier of dosas and accompanying items like chutney and sambar.
Soon I learnt the art of dosa making and this was replaced by dosa batter which we picked up each weekend. Dosas were restricted to Sunday mornings, since these were days we got up late and had breakfast leisurely without having to rush to work.
It was almost a year later that we bought our first mixie. The Sumeet mixie was the most popular brand those days. And the dosa making began at home in real earnest. Soon we had friends coming over for breakfast on Sunday . I had to wake up earlier than the rest so that breakfast was served at a convenient time .

I had a family with a healthy appetite which meant that I was in the kitchen making the dosas for almost an hour. And it is because of the Sunday breakfast that I never ever got to watch the popular TV serial of Mahabharat that was shown from 9 to 10 am. All that I watched were glimpses of each episode as I kept walking from the kitchen to the dining area serving hot dosas and waiting to hear the magic words I have had enough. After a while the reputation of the dosas slowly spread and we had friends (the bachelor kind) who landed up each week. More recently my (then) son in law- to -be who used the dosa breakfast as an excuse to spend time with my daughter . :-)

With the move from the traditional iron tawa to the non stick pan, the quality of my dosas did get affected. The oil usage was also reduced on health grounds. But without any doubt this is still the favourite breakfast snack at home.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ma (oh) thoughts on the Olympics

Olympics time here again. Nothing much to look forward to. It is sad that a nation of a billion cannot produce a gold medal winner. We would probably end up with a paltry tally of bronze medals ( if we are lucky). Who is to blame - the lack of coaches and facilities, the corrupt sports bodies. Considering this, those who even qualify in the heats deserve appreciation. The sheer grit and determination to have seen them through obstacles in their training should be applauded.
On the flip side, I have wondered if talent is going unnoticed. The person who jumps across the road divider would be ideal for the hurdles event, then the guy who sprints across in front of your car could well be in the 100 metres track event, the guy who pedals furiously and tries to overtake should be in the velodrome.
A sheer waste of talent!
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