Passing a Pachyderm

Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! The T-man lives a life of adventure - even a short walk to the corner shop to get cigarettes seems to land him in an interesting situation. Sometimes, human enhancement he takes pity on me and narrates some of his adventures to me. Some of these, I remember enough to put down. For the sake of maintaining their narrative integrity, and partly because I’m too lazy to create a contextual web, the stories will be told in the first person. So, here are the Amazing Tales of the T-man.

Touch and Go

Passing a Pachyderm

The Tale of the Bloody Hand Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! The T-man lives a life of adventure - even a short walk to the corner shop to get cigarettes seems to land him in an interesting situation. Sometimes, human enhancement he takes pity on me and narrates some of his adventures to me. Some of these, I remember enough to put down. For the sake of maintaining their narrative integrity, and partly because I’m too lazy to create a contextual web, the stories will be told in the first person. So, here are the Amazing Tales of the T-man.

Touch and Go

Passing a Pachyderm

The Tale of the Bloody Hand Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! The T-man lives a life of adventure - even a short walk to the corner shop to get cigarettes seems to land him in an interesting situation. Sometimes, human enhancement he takes pity on me and narrates some of his adventures to me. Some of these, I remember enough to put down. For the sake of maintaining their narrative integrity, and partly because I’m too lazy to create a contextual web, the stories will be told in the first person. So, here are the Amazing Tales of the T-man.

Touch and Go

Passing a Pachyderm

The Tale of the Bloody Hand There I was, symptoms returning from what I wish was a night on the town, asthma but actually turned out to be a long discussion on the disposal of some low-value ancestral property, out of which I would be thankful to emerge debt-free. My ancestors were not exactly like Warren Buffet when it came to making investments. Anyway, there I was climbing the stairs to my modest first floor abode when it hit me. Well, since I didn’t know what hit me, I can’t exactly recall what happened, but suddenly I was crawling up the stairs on my hands and knees. I made it in that fashion to my door, opening which I could no longer keep myself up on my hands and knees. Crawling on my belly, I closed the door and crept into bed - which thankfully is a mattress on the floor. Too tired to work anything out, I went to sleep, hoping I would be able to get up in the morning. Morning came in a blaze of sunshine and the sweet cacophony of birdsong. I woke with a start, passing instantly from totally asleep to fully awake. The sunshine streaming through the open window was hitting me right in the face. I tried to get up and found myself unable to move. My feet were totally useless, while I could move my arms a bit. I was worried now, and by dint of wriggling my body and moving what I could of my arms, got to my mobile phone, which was lying nearby. Not without difficulty, I managed to call a friend and tell him my position. Within the hour, he and a couple of others arrived, all of them doctors, just like me. They tried giving me something to enable me to move so that they could get me to a hospital. Nothing seemed to work, so they bundled me up, put me in a car and took me to a hospital that specialised in treating spinal stuff. “Disk prolapse,” the doctor told me cheerfully. He could have been my junior in Medical College, and had he really been one of my juniors, would not have been so cheerful in conveying the news to me. “It’s really bad. No way you’re going to be able to ride a bike again. Or lift heavy weights. You’ll have to stay here for a week for observation. Then we’ll see what to do with you. We could medicate it. If you don’t respond then it’ll have to be surgery. Either way, you can never return to hundred percent normal.” Maybe this guy had been my junior. And maybe I did some particularly nasty things to him. And this was his way of taking revenge, taking delight in my misery. I told him to give me the medication, and that I’d take it myself at home. There was no way I was going to take this, and even if I had to be hospitalized, it would be in another hospital. And so I found myself at my parents’ house, taking the medication and being subjected to all kinds of curbs. The worst bit was not being able to smoke, or get a drink whenever I felt like it, or just stepping out for some fresh air. Staying home and medicating myself did not work. The pain never went away, and the constant over-the-shoulder watchfulness of my parents did nothing to hasten the healing process. The week was over and it was time to take myself back to the doctor and be subjected to his happy ruminations on my condition. It was at this time that a memory from some distant conversations I had in passing with two different people clicked within me. Both were people I knew, just acquaintances in the way of business really. And both had no reason to lie to me. Both had spoken of having terribly complicated illnesses that had been cured by a visit to a particular traditional doctor who lived under the hill. He was a practitioner of the ancient art of varmam, and was supposedly very good. I resolved to visit him, not really basing the decision on any sound reason. My week was up and I had to do something. Of course my mother wouldn’t hear of it. My father did, and he too wouldn’t have it. Both being doctors didn’t help a bit, and it was after a blazing row that I left home. The person who was to take me to the doctor was not a doctor himself, but nevertheless felt it his duty to tell me that he didn’t really agree with my decision. Thankfully, after that he didn’t say much. I still cannot recall whether I voiced my desire that he shut up or not - you see, I was in too much pain. As the auto rickshaw puttered to a halt in front of the address I was looking for, I was more than a bit disappointed. It was a small independent house, maybe fifteen or twenty years old. The walls were covered with a black moss, and the garden in front was in a state of disuse. In front of this domiciliary disaster sat a small thin fellow in a rickety old chair. He was unshaven and his shirt was open up to his belly. He was smoking a beedi, which he unhurriedly crushed beneath his bathroom-slippered feet before walking up to us. On enquiring about the doctor, he dealt a further blow to my confidence by telling me that he was the varmam practitioner. It was with reluctance that I followed him into his “consulting room.” This was nothing but the sit-out, as it is called in this part of the world, of his house. Now, here I was, having fought with my parents, and discarded the oath I had sworn as a doctor, at this man’s place, and he was not exactly inspiring me. But however, that ego that stands stiff within most of us - well, definitely within me - made me go on. While my friend waited outside, I went in. There was a straw mat spread out on the floor, and the varmam practitioner told me to lie down on it on my belly. I did so not without some difficulty. I was feeling particularly bad because that is the position from which I could not get up. Then he went to work, touch points on my shoulder, my back, my thighs - but never on the spinal column itself. The feeling of his touches was quite indescribable - it was as though he was touching spots deep inside the skin, muscle and bone. While not exactly painful, they were not exactly pleasurable either. After about fifteen minutes of this, he took a bottle of oil and applied it gently on my spine. Then, he stood back, and looking at me, asked me to get up. As I said before, this was the position from which I could not get up, in which I was stuck all night and from which I still could not get up. I turned my head, looked up at him and told him I could not. He just smiled and said that now I could stand up, and all I had to do was just try. Well, well well, one just had to play along and humour this guy. So I tried to get up, and to my surprise, I could get up. I stood up and slowly stretched myself. All the stiffness was gone, and I felt totally recovered. I was so zapped that I could not even ask the varmam guy anything. He himself volunteered the information that I was fully cured, and I could go back to doing anything I was doing before. When I persisted and asked him if I could ride a bike, if I could lift weights, if I could climb stairs, he said I could stand on my head all day if I wanted to. He also told me that usually he only needed a single sitting to cure things, but that my case was a severe one which required one more sitting. I left after promising to return a week later. Now I seem to be fully cured, and feel a lot more agile than I was before. Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! The T-man lives a life of adventure - even a short walk to the corner shop to get cigarettes seems to land him in an interesting situation. Sometimes, human enhancement he takes pity on me and narrates some of his adventures to me. Some of these, I remember enough to put down. For the sake of maintaining their narrative integrity, and partly because I’m too lazy to create a contextual web, the stories will be told in the first person. So, here are the Amazing Tales of the T-man.

Touch and Go

Passing a Pachyderm

The Tale of the Bloody Hand Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், medicine ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், cialis சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். மஞ்சள் நிற மோட்டார்பைக்கில் காவலர் ஒருவர் வந்தார். பைக்கை வண்டி அருகே நிறுத்தி கடைக்காரரை பார்த்து கையை நீட்டினார். கடைக்காரர் மாமூல் பணத்தை தன் கால்சட்டைப்பையில் தேடினார். தேடத்தேட காவலருக்கு அவசரம். "சீக்கரம் கொடய்யா. கோயிலாண்ட போகணும்," என்று கோபமாக கேட்டார். கடைக்காரர் பணத்தை எடுத்து அவரிடம் கொடுக்கும்போது கேட்டார், "எங்க, அவர காணோம் இன்னிக்கு...?" "பணத்த போய் வாங்கிட்டு வாயான்னு சொன்னா அந்த கைத மதியம் லீவு போட்டுட்டு போய்டுச்சு. பொரம்போக்கு நாயு," என்று தன் சக காவலரை திட்டிக்கிட்டே பைக்கை கிளப்பினார். அவர் சென்றதும் கடைக்காரர் முகத்தில் ஒரு புன்னகை. "அது பொரம்போக்கு நாய்னா இது என்ன பட்டா போட்ட நாயா?" என்று கேட்டு சிரித்தார். அவர் அமைத்த வாக்கியத்தில் அவருக்கே பரம சந்தோஷம்! சிறிது நேரத்திற்கு பின் மறுபடியும், "ஒண்ணு பொரம்போக்கு நாயு, இன்னொண்ணு பட்டா போட்ட நாயு. எடுக்கறது பிச்ச, அதுல இது வேற," என்று சொல்லி, கையைத்தொடையில் தட்டி தலையை தூக்கி வானத்தை பார்த்து சிறித்தார். சுவையான பிரியாணியுடன் இலவச இணைப்பாக ஒரு மினி காமடி சீன்! The T-man lives a life of adventure - even a short walk to the corner shop to get cigarettes seems to land him in an interesting situation. Sometimes, human enhancement he takes pity on me and narrates some of his adventures to me. Some of these, I remember enough to put down. For the sake of maintaining their narrative integrity, and partly because I’m too lazy to create a contextual web, the stories will be told in the first person. So, here are the Amazing Tales of the T-man.

Touch and Go

Passing a Pachyderm

The Tale of the Bloody Hand There I was, symptoms returning from what I wish was a night on the town, asthma but actually turned out to be a long discussion on the disposal of some low-value ancestral property, out of which I would be thankful to emerge debt-free. My ancestors were not exactly like Warren Buffet when it came to making investments. Anyway, there I was climbing the stairs to my modest first floor abode when it hit me. Well, since I didn’t know what hit me, I can’t exactly recall what happened, but suddenly I was crawling up the stairs on my hands and knees. I made it in that fashion to my door, opening which I could no longer keep myself up on my hands and knees. Crawling on my belly, I closed the door and crept into bed - which thankfully is a mattress on the floor. Too tired to work anything out, I went to sleep, hoping I would be able to get up in the morning. Morning came in a blaze of sunshine and the sweet cacophony of birdsong. I woke with a start, passing instantly from totally asleep to fully awake. The sunshine streaming through the open window was hitting me right in the face. I tried to get up and found myself unable to move. My feet were totally useless, while I could move my arms a bit. I was worried now, and by dint of wriggling my body and moving what I could of my arms, got to my mobile phone, which was lying nearby. Not without difficulty, I managed to call a friend and tell him my position. Within the hour, he and a couple of others arrived, all of them doctors, just like me. They tried giving me something to enable me to move so that they could get me to a hospital. Nothing seemed to work, so they bundled me up, put me in a car and took me to a hospital that specialised in treating spinal stuff. “Disk prolapse,” the doctor told me cheerfully. He could have been my junior in Medical College, and had he really been one of my juniors, would not have been so cheerful in conveying the news to me. “It’s really bad. No way you’re going to be able to ride a bike again. Or lift heavy weights. You’ll have to stay here for a week for observation. Then we’ll see what to do with you. We could medicate it. If you don’t respond then it’ll have to be surgery. Either way, you can never return to hundred percent normal.” Maybe this guy had been my junior. And maybe I did some particularly nasty things to him. And this was his way of taking revenge, taking delight in my misery. I told him to give me the medication, and that I’d take it myself at home. There was no way I was going to take this, and even if I had to be hospitalized, it would be in another hospital. And so I found myself at my parents’ house, taking the medication and being subjected to all kinds of curbs. The worst bit was not being able to smoke, or get a drink whenever I felt like it, or just stepping out for some fresh air. Staying home and medicating myself did not work. The pain never went away, and the constant over-the-shoulder watchfulness of my parents did nothing to hasten the healing process. The week was over and it was time to take myself back to the doctor and be subjected to his happy ruminations on my condition. It was at this time that a memory from some distant conversations I had in passing with two different people clicked within me. Both were people I knew, just acquaintances in the way of business really. And both had no reason to lie to me. Both had spoken of having terribly complicated illnesses that had been cured by a visit to a particular traditional doctor who lived under the hill. He was a practitioner of the ancient art of varmam, and was supposedly very good. I resolved to visit him, not really basing the decision on any sound reason. My week was up and I had to do something. Of course my mother wouldn’t hear of it. My father did, and he too wouldn’t have it. Both being doctors didn’t help a bit, and it was after a blazing row that I left home. The person who was to take me to the doctor was not a doctor himself, but nevertheless felt it his duty to tell me that he didn’t really agree with my decision. Thankfully, after that he didn’t say much. I still cannot recall whether I voiced my desire that he shut up or not - you see, I was in too much pain. As the auto rickshaw puttered to a halt in front of the address I was looking for, I was more than a bit disappointed. It was a small independent house, maybe fifteen or twenty years old. The walls were covered with a black moss, and the garden in front was in a state of disuse. In front of this domiciliary disaster sat a small thin fellow in a rickety old chair. He was unshaven and his shirt was open up to his belly. He was smoking a beedi, which he unhurriedly crushed beneath his bathroom-slippered feet before walking up to us. On enquiring about the doctor, he dealt a further blow to my confidence by telling me that he was the varmam practitioner. It was with reluctance that I followed him into his “consulting room.” This was nothing but the sit-out, as it is called in this part of the world, of his house. Now, here I was, having fought with my parents, and discarded the oath I had sworn as a doctor, at this man’s place, and he was not exactly inspiring me. But however, that ego that stands stiff within most of us - well, definitely within me - made me go on. While my friend waited outside, I went in. There was a straw mat spread out on the floor, and the varmam practitioner told me to lie down on it on my belly. I did so not without some difficulty. I was feeling particularly bad because that is the position from which I could not get up. Then he went to work, touch points on my shoulder, my back, my thighs - but never on the spinal column itself. The feeling of his touches was quite indescribable - it was as though he was touching spots deep inside the skin, muscle and bone. While not exactly painful, they were not exactly pleasurable either. After about fifteen minutes of this, he took a bottle of oil and applied it gently on my spine. Then, he stood back, and looking at me, asked me to get up. As I said before, this was the position from which I could not get up, in which I was stuck all night and from which I still could not get up. I turned my head, looked up at him and told him I could not. He just smiled and said that now I could stand up, and all I had to do was just try. Well, well well, one just had to play along and humour this guy. So I tried to get up, and to my surprise, I could get up. I stood up and slowly stretched myself. All the stiffness was gone, and I felt totally recovered. I was so zapped that I could not even ask the varmam guy anything. He himself volunteered the information that I was fully cured, and I could go back to doing anything I was doing before. When I persisted and asked him if I could ride a bike, if I could lift weights, if I could climb stairs, he said I could stand on my head all day if I wanted to. He also told me that usually he only needed a single sitting to cure things, but that my case was a severe one which required one more sitting. I left after promising to return a week later. Now I seem to be fully cured, and feel a lot more agile than I was before. Sometimes there are people who live simply amazing lives. And then there are those who can tell a fine tale. Very rarely there are people who lead interesting lives, capsule and have the turn of phrase to regale you with their adventures. One such person is the T-Man. To talk about his life would be to give away too much - read the stories and find out! Every now and then I remember a tale he has told me, and try to put it down. Of course, my only guide is my memory, with all its shortcomings. I may have added a touch more drama here and there, and the truth might have been twisted a little bit here and there to suit my fancy. But these are the Amazing Adventures of the T-Man, and nothing can take away from that. Starting now, I shall write the tales whenever the fancy strikes me, and whenever I can remember a tale from the great many he has told me. All of them can be found on the Tales of the T-Man page, which can also be reached by the Stories page, to which there is a link at the top of every page! Here's the first of the tales, which I have chosen to call Touch and Go. Christmas thief steals 'Nun Bun' Finished reading False Impression at one shot - well, try almost one shot. It was such a delight returning to what can safely be called vintage Archer. The book was engrossing, hygiene fast-paced, had the usual twists and turns, and in true Jeffrey Archer style, left me feeling good in the end. The blurb on the back of the book is actually quite misleading - and at the risk of playing spolier - seems to hint darkly at things that aren't there in the book. False Impression is a straight-forward, honest-to-goodness thriller, just like A Matter of Honor, which I did finish at one go about fifteen years ago! Jeffrey Archer's recent books have been, to say the least, disappointing. False Impression seems to escape from this and is a "spanking good read!" Maybe I'm gushing this much since I spent the weekend putting down a book in disgust and discovering an old master. The former was David Gibbins' dryasdust Atlantis, and the latter was James A. Michener's Chesapeake. Having a bit of reading time on my hands, I rummaged through the pile of books my father had passed on to me a couple of days ago. Atlantis was slickly produced, and had an interesting blurb. It began promisingly, the prologue's setting in ancient Egypt seemingly making up for the rather lukewarm writing. The main story began, and the principal characters were introduced, and I was struggling with it - my reading slowed down and the text failed to hold me. As I read the description of the first two characters, I was going, "Okay, this guy is Dirk Pitt and his buddy is Al Giordano." That was when I gave up on Atlantis and, quite sensibly (even if I say so myself!), turned to Chesapeake. Michener is not an author I have read, and the sheer size of Chesapeake would have had me putting the book on the backburner. I began reading it rather desultorily, but the first few pages had me hooked. By evening, I was almost two hundred pages into it, and had to put it down to catch a train. And then I get home and Suresh hands me False Impression saying he wants it back in three days and I finish it in one! For now, it's back to Chesapeake! Having changed Blogocentricity under the hood, disorder it was time to give it a new look! Thanks to the new and improved WordPress theme viewer, illness I was able to find Husna. A few modifications here and there, including custom images, a totally different sidebar (the contents, not the style) and a rotating header image, and Blogocentricity's brand new look was ready. I've been using the Random Image Rotator for some time now, using it with my version of Scattered before this. It's easy to use and idiot-proof! I used pictures from my travels, some of which can be found at Imagine, to make my header images - that way, I can show them off, and at the same time have my own images in my header. When we were in school, sick and later when we were in college, ed a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the 'kadi' (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran 'kadi' jokes, with Ananda Vikatan's Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of 'Thathuvams,' forwarded by email and text messages. These thathuvams are a spoof on the elaborate analogies employed by Tamil movie dialogue writers to get across a 'message' to the audience. So, we have the hero's mother tearfully telling the hero's sister, "Selai mullu mela vizhundhaalum, mullu selai mela pattalum, kizhiyiradhennamo sela dhaan." Roughly translated it means, "If the sari falls on thorns, or if the thorns fall on a saree, it is the saree that gets torn." Dialogues like these were all the rage till a few years ago in Tamil filmdom. Today too, there are a few practiontioners who hang on to this. And then you have the "punch dialogues" - kind of like one liners, but not quite. The most famous are Superstar Rajinikanth's punch dialogues, like "Naan oru dhadavai sonnaa, nooru dhadava sonna maadhiri" - "If I say it once, it's like saying it a hundred times (rough translation, again)." Which brings us back to the thathuvams, which spoof both the long-winded analogies that pepper dramatic monologues in Tamil cinema and the punch dialogues. The ubiquity of cell phones and the internet, coupled with cheap SMS rates and hundreds of software engineers waiting for something to do between projects have meant a resurgence of the kadi joke, albeit in a new avatar. My current favourite is this one, forwarded to me by Tilak: If you drink Ethanol, you will dance in front of others; if you drink Methanol, others will dance in front of you! Stinging social satire, if ever there was some! The kadi joke has seen a sort of comeback in the print and electronic media as well - Bosskey's work on Ananda Vikatan, as well as numerous DJs and VJs on FM Radio and local TV ('Blade' Dheena doing both TV and Radio!) continue upholding the strong kadi tradition. Unfortunately, the essence of kadi lies in the multiple meanings of a Tamil word, and the semantic antics of similar sounding Tamil words, and that make it almost impossible to render good kadi jokes in English. There are a few cross language ones, which makes use of English as she is spoken by us Tamils. Here are two: What is common to Communism and Krishna Jayanthi? The answer is Karl Marx - Karl being homophonic with the Tamil kaal, meaning leg or foot. For Krishna Jayanthi, people decorate their houses with small footprints (purportedly Krishna's), and hence the Karl Marx / Kaal Marks joke. See how laborious it is! Nevertheless, I shall soldier on with another. What is common to boxing and Bhadrakali (note the alliteration!)? The answer is knock out, pronounced the Tamil way, naak out. Naakku in Tamil is tongue, and Bhadrakali (none other that that terrible mother goddess Kali herself) is usually depicted with her tongue hanging out. Hence the Knock Out / Naak Out joke. So, with all the forwarding of thathuvams (which by the way means philosophy), what do I do? Like a true wannabe geek, I go and rotate them randomly on my sidebar! After a longish break, nurse Zine5 is back on again! I like the new design - it seems very energetic and fresh, myocarditis and we have three new pieces of writing to kick off! April this year will see Zine5 being online for five years. Vidya and I are racking our brains trying to figure out what can be done to fittingly commemorate this occasion. Yes, view we hear those voices in the back that are screaming, "Shut it down for God's sake!" and choose to turn a deaf ear to them! We also hear the voices, not so far in the back saying, "Just keep it going without a break, will you. That'll be commemorative enough!" To them we say, well, we aim to do that - it's what we need to do more than that that is occupying our thoughts. The publishing of a souvenir, the kicking off of an annual (at least) journal, changing the Zine5 publishing format - all these have been discussed, though not discarded. Over the next few days, a few ideas should be firmly decided upon. This is exciting! This is the comprehensive thathuvam repository. If you come across one that isn't here, troche or make up an entirely new one, send it to me at navin at mail dot com, and I'll include it here! I have credited authors wherever I can - most of these have reached me after being forwarded multiple times, and their authors, brilliant thought they are, have been lost in the mists of internet antiquity! For a short account of what a thathuvam is, see my post "Return of the Kadi." So, here they are, in no particular order! Enjoy! 1 Minnala parthaa kannu poiddum; Pakkalainaaa... minnaley poiddum! 2 Nee evalo periya swimmera irundhaalum, Tumbler thannila neechal adikka mudiyaathu! 3 Ghee roastla ghee irukkum, Paper roastla paper irukkuma! 4 Thanneera Thanninnu sollalaam; Panneera panninnu solla mudiyuma? 5 Cream biscuitla cream irukkum, Ana naai biscuitla naai irukkumaa? 6 Cycle carrierla tiffen-a vechu eduthuttu pogalam; Tiffin carrierla cycle-a vechu eduthuttu poga mudiyathu! 7 Nee evalo periya dancer aa irundhaalum Un saavukku unnaala aada mudiyuma? 8 Kaakka ennadhaan karuppa irundhaalum adhu podara muttai vellai! Muttai ennadhaan vellaiya irundhaalum adhukulla irukka kaakka karuppudhaan! 9 Trainkku ticket vaangi platformla ukkaaralaam; Aana platformku ticket vangi trainla ukkara mudiyathu! 10 Sodava fridgela vacha cooling soda aagum, Athukkaaga atha washing machinela vacha washing soda aagumaa? 11 Iron boxaala iron panna mudiyum; Aana pencil boxaala pencil panna mudiyaadhu! 12 Ticket vangitu ulla poradu cinema theatre; Ulla poitu ticket vanguradu operation theatre! 13 Sirpi kalla uliyaala adicha adhu kalai; Naama sirpiya uliyaala adicha adhu kolai! 14 Nama evalavu vegama nadanthaalum Oru kaal munnadi pona oru kaal pinnadithaan pogum! 15 Quarter adichittu kuppura padukkalaam; Aana kupura paduthuttu quarter adikka mudiyathu! 16 Vaayaala naainu sollalaam; Aana, naayaala vaainu sollamudiyuma? 17 Mandaia mandaia aatradhu disco; Mandaia potta aadrathu dappankuthu! 18 If you drink ethanol, you will dance in front of others. If you drink methanol, others will dance in front of you! 19 Velaya senja soru; Velaya romba senja boru! 20 Car kulla tyre irundha adhu stepney; Adhey namma mela andha tyre irundha, naama chutney! 21 Adayar Anandha Bhavanoda branch neraya edathula irukkum; Aana Adayar aala marathoda branch Adayarla mattum thaan irukkum! 22 Thoonga poradhukku munnala thoonga porennu sollalaam; Yendhirikkirathukku munnala yendhrika porennu solla mudiyumaa? 23 Neenga bikela evlo thaan fasta ponaalum ungalayae neenga overtake panna mudiyaathu. 24 Gold chaina adagu vachu cycle vaangalaam; Aaana cycle chaina adagu vachu gold vaanga mudiyaathu! 25 Ambalainga adi patta ambulance varum; Pombalainga adi patta pombulance varuma? 25 Railway stationla police station irukkalam; Ana police stationla railway station irukka mudiyadhu. 26 Poison 10 naal aanalum payasam aaga mudiyaadhu; Aana, payasam 10 naal aana poison aaidum! 27 Oru erumbu nenacha 1000 yanaya kadikkum; Ana 1000 yana nenachalum oru erumba kooda kadikka mudiyadhu! 28 Puyalala karaya kadaka mudiyum; Aana karayala puyala kadaka mudiyuma? 29 Cellula balance illana call panna mudiyathu; Aaana manushanukku call illana, balance panna mudiyathu! 30 Nee enna thaan costly mobile vachirundhalum, Athula evalavu thaan recharge pannalum, Unnalla unakkae call panna mudiyathu! 31 Enna thaan meenuku neendha therinjalum adhala meen kolambula neendha mudiyadhu! 32 Innaiku thoonguna nalaiku enthirikalam; Aana naalaiku thoonguna inaiku enthirika mudiyuma? 33 Yenna dhaan naai nadri ulladhaa irundhaalum, Adhaala "thank you" solla mudiyaadhu! 34 Yenna dhaan neruppu koliyaa irundhaalum adhaala avicha mutta poda mudiyumaa? 35 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam; aanaalum adhaala kaal mela kaal pottu ukkaara mudiyaadhu! 36 Yennadhaan nagapaambu attagaasama padam yeduthaalum Adha theatrela release panni kaasu panna mudiyuma? 37 Lunch bagula lunch eduthuttu polaam; Aana school bagula schoola eduthuttu poga mudiyumaa? 38 Arisi kottina, vaera arisi vaangalaam; Paal kottina, vaera paal vaangalaam; Aana, thael kottina, vaera thael vaangamudiyumaa? 39 Files naa ukanthu paakanum; Piles naa paathu ukkaranum! 40 Nee evalo periya padipaaliya irundhalum Exam hall la poi padikka mudiyadhu! 41 School testla bit adikkalaam; College testla bit adikkalaam; Aanaa blood testla bit adikka mudiyaadhu! 42 Aayiram dhaan irundhaalum, Aayirathi onnu dhaan perusu! 43 Yennathan ahimsaivaadhiya irundhaalum Chappathiya suttu dhaan saappidanum! 44 Nee yenna dhaan veerana irundhaalum, Kulir adicha thirumba adikka mudiyathu! 45 Kaasu irundhaa call taxi; Kaasu illainaa kaal dhaan taxi! 46 Kovil maniya namma adichaa saththam varum; Aanaa kovil mani nammala adichaa raththam dhaan varum! 47 Meluga vachchu melugu vathi seyyalam; Aanaa kosuva vachchu kosu vathi seyya mudiyathu! 48 Pallu valina palla pudungalam; Aanaa kannu valina kanna pudunga mudiyuma! 49 Idli podiya thottu idly saappidalaam; Aanaa, mookku podiya thottu mookka saappida mudiyuma? 50 Pant pottu mutti poda mudiyum; Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyuma? 51 Yennadhaan yezhu thalamuraikku ukkaandhu saapidara alavukku sothu irundhaalum, Fast food kadaila ninnu dhaan saapidanum! 52 Konjam panam kuduthaa kodai vaangalaam; Yevalo panam kuduthaalum mazhai vaanga mudiyumaa? 53 Hotella kaasu illainaa mavvaatta solluvaanga; Aanaa, busla kaasu illana bus ota solluvangala? 54 Sun TVla sorgam paarkkalaam; Aanaa, sorgathula Sun TV paarka mudiyumaa? 55 Chairman chair mela ukkaralaam; Aanaa watchman watch mela ukkaara mudiyumaa? 56 Lovers' Day annaikku lovera kiss pannalaam; Aanaa Teachers' Day annaikku teachera kiss panna mudiyumaa? 57 Paaku marathula paaku irukum, Thaeku marathula thaeku irukum, Aanaa panamarathula panam irukaadhu! 58 Ennadhan aeroplane maela parandhaalum, Petrol poda keelathaan varanum! 59 Mechanical engineer mechanic aagalam; Aanaa software engineer software aaga mudiyaathu! 60 Tea cupla tea irukkalam; Aanaa World Cupla World irukka mudiyaathu! 61 Evvalo kaasu kuduthu planela ponaalum, Jannala thiranthu vedikkaa paarkka mudiyaathu! 62 Key boardla key irrukkum; Aanaa motherboardla mother irruka mudiyaathu! 63 Brush vachu pallu clean pannalam; Aanaa pallu vachu brush clean panna mudiyathu! 64 Pant Pottu Mutti poda mudiyum Aanaa mutti pottu pant poda mudiyaathu.....!!!! 65 Tool boxla toolsa parka mudiyum; Aanaa match boxla matcha paarka mudiyaathu! 66 Irukkurappa enna dhaan complan, bournvitanu kudichalum Sethathukkappuram ellarukkum paal thaan! 67 South India-la Narthangai kidaikkum; Aanaa North India-la Southangai kidaikkumaa? 68 Pacha milagaile pacha irukkum Aanaa kodamolagaale koda irukkaathu! 69 Nee evlo periya paruppa irunthalum, Unga veettu samayalukku paruppu kadaila than vaanganum! 70 Cyclela poana cycling, Trainla poana training-a? 71 Thel kottina valikkum, Paambu kottina valikkum Mudi kottina valikkuma? 72 Naaikku naalu kaal irukkalaam. Aana adhala LOCAL call, STD call, ISD call, even MISSED call kooda panna mudiyaathu! 73 Gangai aathula meen pidikkalaam Kaavery aathula meen pidikkalaam Aana Iyer aathula meen pidikka mudiyuma? 74 Thiruvalluvar 1330 kural ezhidhirundhaalum avarala oru kuralil thaan paesa mudiyum 75 Enna thaan un thalai suthinaalum, Un mudhukai nee paakka mudiyumaa? 76 Meen pidikiravana meenavan-nnu sollalam Naai pidikiravana naayavan-nnu solla mudiyumaa? I had the wonderful experience of attending Nasscomm's Animation India 2006. I spent two days learning loads of stuff and getting a lot of perspective on an industry about which I had the sketchiest of ideas. There were world beaters at the conference - people who were involved in the Simpsons, capsule Teletubbies, medicine the Rugrats, Shrek, Madagascar, Hanuman... There were also game builders and TV channels. Here are a few quotes I jotted down - these are just sound bites I managed to remember long enough to take down, and are not representative of what the speakers spoke. Again, almost all the quotes are remembered, and therefore may not stand up in a court of law! I quote from memory, and mine is notorious for remembering only what it wants to! So, here goes: Ms. Ratnaprabha, IT Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh:
All villages will have 100 mbps connectivity.
Terry Thoren, CEO, Vibrant Animation:
Animators are like gypsies – they go where the great projects are. They will travel the world for a great project.
Nandish Domlur, Founder and MD (India), Paprikaas Animation Studios:
We need a lot of handholding from western talent – on creatives, not on technology. A key challenge during production is hiring experienced overseas talent – as supervisors and technical directors.
V.G. Samanth, Director, Silvertoons, of Hanuman fame:
Some people tell me there are technical defects in Hanuman. I ask them: Are all Indian movies free of technical defects? Hanuman was made in spare time by Silvertoons.
Vishnu Atreya, Senior Programming Manager, Cartoon Network India and South Asia, displayed a chart showing that Cartoon Network was the third most watched channel by children in India, with 10%. Number one was Star, but the surprise was the number two channel, which had 15%. It was Sun TV! Vishnu Atreya attributed this to Indian homes being predominantly single-TV households and parental control over television. Chris Bateman, Managing Director, International Hobo:
For hardcore gamers, gameplay is a lifestyle engagement!
Tony Garcia, CEO, FXLabs Studios:
When someone said that the budget for a short animated film used to be in the region of one or two million USD: That would be just the Coke budget for the team now!
Cindy Armstrong, VP, Business Development, Sony Online Entertainment:
In Asia, a gamer is a cool guy. In Europe, a gamer is a nerd who can’t find a date on Saturday night. In the US, it falls somewhere between the two. She also said that for Sony Online Entertainment’s Everquest, 83% of members were male, while in the game, only 50% of characters played were male. She said that it could be because of the fact that female characters would be helped along in the initial stages more that male characters!
Theresa Plummer-Andrews, Managing Director, Plum Trees TV
We were lucky that not one Brand Manager, not one Sales Manager, interfered in any way with the creative process of Bob the Builder. We do not have too many American pre-school programmes on British television. They are too worthy, too yucky, too educational and too sentimental. There are presently 22 kids’ channels in the UK, with two more set to be launched. It does not matter whether it is stop-frame, claymation, 2D, 3D or CGI – only the content matters. Keep your own myths for your local markets.
Sudhish Rambhotla, Chairman and MD, Color Chips India Limited:
Forget the world animation map – we [the Indian animation industry] are not even on the Indian animation map.
Jyothirmoy Saha, VP, Animation and New Media, UTV Software Communication:
On major animation players bemoaning the lack of government support in India: There is no governmental support in Japan and the US, and yet their animation is among the best in the world. We have to wait a little bit for the industry to mature before asking for trade barriers and similar governmental support.
Tapaas Chakravarti, MD, DQ Entertainment:
Amazing quality is coming out of India. Creative abilities must get priority over any other production decision. In 2005, the animation industry was worth 51.7 billion USD globally. In India, it was worth a mere 387 million USD. It is expected to grow by 30% in 2006.
Mark Lorenzen, Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School
Denmark has a great storytelling tradition. It’s not about bringing home Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes. It’s about telling a good story. State support usually contaminates industry. Education and infrastructure are not support – they are basic.
Joan Vogelesang, President and CEO, Toon Boom Animation Inc.:
Japanese homes are very small, with many rooms being multifunctional. [Explaining the popularity of Gameboy and similar handheld gaming devices in Japan.] On the Indian animation industry: Strengths: Technologically strong Enthusiasm to do good work Rich local content to connect with local Indian audiences Weaknesses: Lack of unity Undercutting prices Need for creative training Opportunities: Use technology to make games more appealing and interactive Take advantage of broadband and cellular phone network growth Develop new user experience Threats: Rapidly evolving technology demands constant upgradation of skills and knowledge Lack of creative talent
Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO, Contests2win.com This guy’s presentation was titled “Animated Characters and there role...[sic]” In spite of this, his presentation was quite engaging, and the thoughts he came up with were quite cool. Mainly, they had to do with the uselessness of traditional advertising media – print, television and radio – and the advent of what will replace them – engaging online promotions where the consumer chooses to be advertised to. Rajiv C, Director, Green Gold Animation This person’s presentation was peppered with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and a lot of rhetoric. Excerpts [My comments in square brackets]:
India requires 2000 hours of content every year. The UK is a smaller country with a smaller population. So they require only about 500 hours of content. [He was referring to the hours of animated content required, assuming there are three children’s channels broadcasting animated content for two hours a day in India. What makes this exceptionally ridiculous, never mind the fact that hours of content required can never be a function of the size or the population of a country, is Theresa Plummer-Andrews’ mention, just a few hours before, that there are 22 children’s channels in the UK!] We need to outsource to countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangaldesh, and maybe 20 years later, back to the US and Canada. [Does this even need an explanation!!!]
Ashish Kulkarni, Founder and CEO, Anirights Infomedia Private Limited:
“Skillsets” is the biggest single item on any animation company’s P&L statement. You can teach technical skills to an artist, but you cannot teach artistic skills to a technician. [In India] Talent with skills, even though they haven’t proved themselves, are being absorbed by studios at higher and higher rates. Skills of existing talents need to be enhanced continuously.
Sanjay Mistry, Worldwide Trainer, Electronic Arts, UK
Internal training at EA: between projects, a couple of weeks are spent learning new or upgraded tools. Development Teams consist of:
    Production, art, engineering and game design Artists include modellers, character modellers, character animators, texture artists, technical artists and art directors Level builders
Game development takes large teams building complicated products. Communication skills and team-working skills are essential.
Manu Ittina, Managing Director, Ittina Animation Studios
It’s all about the people. Indian animation houses need to realise this. It’s not about the machine; it’s not about the tools. You can’t rush art.
Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late - only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. Murugan also took out his spotting scope – a very powerful monocular that took us right into the farthest nests. We were able to see clearly the spoonbills as well as the painted stork chicks. Stumbling upon Murugan was a stroke of luck. Like Natarajan in Top Slip, Murugan is a wonderful person to have with you while watching wildlife. So, if you’re in Vedanthangal, ask for Murugan – he’s sure to add a lot to your visit! Sunday before last, diabetes and Pregnancy I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is a largish irrigation tank with a lot of Barringtonia trees, which provide a lot of nesting spots for pelicans, herons, storks and ibises. The south western shore of the tank is a raised bund on which is a paved pathway and several viewpoints from which one can see the nesting birds. At one point there is a watchtower, whose top is gained by a dizzying spiral staircase. From the top, there is a fantastic panoramic view of the tank, and you can look right into the nests of the birds. At times when there are a lot of people, a forest department staffer usually stands there with a pair of battered but powerful old binoculars fixed to a pole mounted in the concrete. Those unfortunate souls who do not carry binoculars are condemned to a quick peek through them. The fellow manning it is usually a firm socialist, and will insist that you give up your place once you have seen through the binoculars for whatever length of time he believes is appropriate for each person.

Painted Storks in Vedanthangal

Anyway, since we were carrying our own, we were spared the hassle. The trees were crowded, but the waters were well nigh empty – and with good reason. The morning sun was unforgivingly scorching, and almost blinded us with its reflection off the water. All the ducks, garganeys, shovellers, coots and all others of their ilk had taken shelter in distant shades. On the trees however, it was a different story. Every little perch had been taken – painted storks, grey pelicans, spoonbills, white ibises, grey herons, night herons, paddy herons, egrets and open-billed storks crowded around noisily. Every now and then one would step on some other’s toes and there would be a cacophony, fluttering wings and clattering bills. Presently, order would return, and all would be calm. We could make out painted storks patiently incubating their eggs, while their partners stood silent guard by their sides. On the other side of the bund were rolling green paddy fields. In the sea of green, we could spot glossy ibises, walking around slowly and picking out worms, frogs and small fish from the flooded rice paddies.

Glossy Ibis in Rice Paddy

After some time, we walked back to the entrance for a tea, and that was when we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker! From Vedanthangal, we drove to Karikili, about ten kilometres away. It’s a smaller tank, and the walkway is still not built. There were no birds because of the sun, but the breeze made it quite pleasant. We could make out a few birds on a distant shady shore, but that was all. We made it back to Chennai in time for a late lunch at Dhabba Express - the sixty rupee buffet was just right! Vasumathi was telling us about traditional water management systems that have existed for centuries in agrarian India. She was talking mainly about south India, asthma and the way water management was institutionalised. This is especially important as the vast majority of cropped area is dependent on rains for irrigation. Since there is only one rainy season, lasting for about two months, a network of irrigation tanks is maintained by the farming communities. These tanks have a two-fold purpose: one is to store rainwater for irrigation till the next rains, and the other is to act as groundwater recharging stations. The tanks are located in such a way that at a higer elevation is a large mother tank, the water from which flows to one or more baby tanks located at a lower elevation. It is in the course of this flow that the water can be diverted and used for irrigation. Traditionally, each village had three major civic officials: The Thalayari was a sort of policeman, seeing to it that the edicts of the village council or panchayat were carried out. He also saw to the maintenance of law and order in the village. To an extent, conflict resolution to maintain the peace too was within his purview. The Maniakarar was the revenue official. It was his responsibility to see that everyone paid their taxes and dues to the village council or panchayat. Within a larger framework, the Maniakarar was taxed with the duty of collecting revenues to be passed on to the king, emperor, or whichever feudatory lord the village paid tributes to. Within the village, the Maniakarar was often called upon to perform certain religious rituals too. The other official in a village was a Kaavaai Maniam. This was the post of a water manager – very important, as this was the only post that had to do with the sharing of available resources. The duties of the Kaavaai Maniam were clearly defined. His main responsibility was to see that the farthest fields (from the irrigation tank, or the mother tank) were irrigated the first. Once the farthest field had enough water, the next field would be irrigated, and so on till the one nearest the tank was irrigated. The reason for doing this is that nearer the tank, the water table is much higher, and ground water is readily available. So, in the case of there not being enough water in the tank for the nearer fields, ground water could be used for irrigation. This was achieved by using a pair of bullocks to pulling a large leather bag of water from a wide well. This water could be channelled into the fields, much the same as water from the irrigation tank. While the duties of the Thalayari and Maniakarar have been passed on to the police and the revenue officials within the modern framework, it is interesting to note that the role of Kaavaai Maniam has been largely left unfilled. Vasumathi told us that in many villages she visited in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, no one had heard of the role of the Kaavaai Maniam. When we were talking about this to Murugan, he said that in the area surrounding Vedanthangal, the post of Kaavaai Maniam was called Kambukatti, and was still functional. Like all traditional posts, that of Kambukatti is also hereditary, and passes from father to son among five families. The five families take annual turns so that each family has a Kambukatti for a year, once every five years. Having the kambukatti from the local populace has a lot of benefits, least of which is an inherent understanding of how local affairs work. Also, since he too has fields to be irrigated, he has a stake in keeping the system well maintained. Sheetal, who has done a bit of work on water conflicts in India, tells me that in many places, control of irrigation has been taken over by government-appointed officers. These people are not from the local community, have no understanding of or respect for local circumstances, and most important of all, have no stake in the maintenance and functioning of the irrigation system, leading to a breakdown of the traditional water-sharing methods. Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, page one feels that a bit of explaining is in order. I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood! However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman - everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get - after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared - the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic! So, Tamil was the language of speech during my childhood. But the schools made sure that English was the language in which I read and wrote. A succession of none-too-good Tamil teachers, who poured scorn on those who weren’t able to rattle off the classics by heart, and meted out punishments like kneeling in the corridor and sitting on the floor in front of the class, made sure that my interest in Tamil was effectively killed. Fear and loathing for the language were what these teachers inspired in me. By the time I had a Tamil teacher who could kindle any interest in the language and its literature, it was too late - French offered an easy way out that I instantly took. It remained my defense against Tamil till I no longer had the threat of having to study a second language looming over me. Much later, very slowly, I came in to contact with people who could show me the beauty and richness of the language. Who could show me how accessible it really was, and what I’d been missing all these years. But alas, the childhood language abuse has taken its toll - my reading speed in Tamil is appalling, and I am yet to finish reading a Tamil book fully. My progress in reading Tamil has been painfully slow. Hopefully, I’ll find it in me to actually stick to it - the rewards are great indeed. Along the way came to urge to blog in Tamil. The main reason for this being some wonderful things I experienced which can only be explained to the fullest in the tongue in which it was said. Spoken Tamil is a language in which it is relatively easy to pun, and native speakers do so all the time. In urban contexts, the spoken tongue is peppered with Tamilized words from other languages, English and Hindi being notable contributors. This gives rise to a whole new world of punning, sometimes even unintentional! That said, navigating the cultural cake-mix that is today’s Chennai is an exciting affair, especially if you are a language gourmand like I’ve become. And that is one of the reasons why the thought of blogging bilingually excites me. Of course, the immediate trigger was the incident of the cop and the biriyani-seller! தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, ophthalmologist மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் - புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் - ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். "அதெல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்… ஏன் நீங்க தமிழில் தட்டச்ச கூடாது?" என்று கேட்ட ரஜினிராம்கிக்கு ஒரு வணக்கம் போட்டுவிட்டு, திருக்குற்ளை கரைத்து குடித்து ஏப்பம் விட்டு எல்லோருக்கும் முன்பாக தமிழில் blog செய்ய ஆரம்பித்த ரெக்சுக்கு மற்றொரு வணக்கத்தை போட்டுவிட்டு இந்த முயற்சியில் இரங்குகிரேன். Things I did, here and want to write about, viagra buy but just can't fit into my schedule: Two trips to Hyderabad - one on business and one for pleasure Three days amongst the temples of Kanchipuram A half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili Buying a new mobile phone Planning a trip to Masinagudi Sigh! At Vedanthangal, abortion we met Murugan, injection the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it. He told us that this year was extremely