Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer

I was taken virtually to 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, where 12 climbers didn’t make home. Jon gave excruciating details on the events unfolded during summit assault and descend. The author, himself a climber, reached Mt. Everest and returned safely was plagued with loss of lives – that includes his guide Rob Hall.

This book gave me a view of ambitious mountain climbers, whose passion and endurance are beyond normalcy. Various stages and journey before the summit were clearly explained – starting from Kathmandu, Namche bazaar, Lobuje, Base Camp at 17,600 feet, Khumbu Icefall, Camp One, Camp Two, Camp Three, Camp Four and summit at little higher than 29,000 feet.

The author gave stories about his fellow climbers and their personalities that clearly helped visualizing the human side of them. I felt I was traveling with Sherpas, the real heroes of Mt. Everest, under-appreciated, hard-working, astonishing, helpful climbers – who setup the tents, setup ladders and ropes on for climbing, cook the food, serve the tea and haul all the goods.

I know I won’t climb any mountain of this caliber, but I’m humbled to learn the grit and perseverance shown by the determined climbers after reading this book.

Songs on Madurai Meenakshi

As a devotee of Madurai Meenakshi Amman and as a music lover, I thought of compiling a list of songs / krithis on Madurai Meenakshi on any genre for my listening. As much as possible I plan to give youtube link to listen the songs, preferring renderings by my favorite M. S. Subbulakshmi. Here it goes.

  1. “Devi Neeyae Thunai” by Papanasam Sivan in Ragam Keeravani – Listen MSS
  2. “Mathe Malaya dwaja pandya sancharthe” varnam by Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavadhar in Ragam Kamas – Listen MSS
  3. “Meenakshi me mudam dehi” krithi by Muthuswamy Dikshitar in Ragam Purvikalyani (Gamakakriya) – Listen MSS
  4. “Mayamma yaninae” krithi by Shyama Sastri in Ragam Aahiri – Listen MSS
  5. “Meena nayana neevu” krithi by Subburaya Sastri in Ragam Darbar – Listen DK Jayaraman
  6. “Nannu brovu Lalitha” by Shyama Sastri in Ragam Lalitha – Listen Nithyasri
  7. “Marivere gathi evaramma” by Shyama Sastri in Ragam Anandhabhairavi – Listen Ranjani Gayathri
  8. “Sarojadhala netri himagiri putri” by Shyama Sastri in Ragam Sankarabharanam – Listen MSS
  9. Meenakshi Navarathinamalika Krithis by Shyama Sastri – Lecture Demonstration by T.N. Seshagopalan — Listen TNS – Actual kritis listed in Carnatica site
  10. There are 8 krithis listed as Madhuramba vibhakthi krithis by Muthuswamy Dikshitar in Wikipedia
  11. There are 5 krithis listed as Meenakshi devi krithis by Muthuswamy Dikshitar in Wikipedia (including one mentioned as 3rd krithi above)
  12. “Meenakshi Pancharatnam” slokam by Adi Shankarar in Ragam Revathi(?) and Kanada – Listen MSS
  13. “Meenakshi Suprabhatam” sung by Sundari Sundaresan – Listen
  14. Collection of Meenakshi Amman Padalgal – sung by L.R.Eshwari and Veeramanidasan – Listen
  15. “En Thaai nee andro Meenakshi” – Listen MSS
  16. “Madurai Arasaalum Meenakshi” sung by Seerkali Govindarajan – Listen
  17. “Kondai mudi alangarithu” – Listen P. Susheela


Bye Bye, Mumbai

I’m witnessing the infamous rainy season in Mumbai and it just pours the water day and night continuously.  But the usual life is moving as expected, with some glitches in transport facilities.  I would like to list the places in Mumbai, that I’ve visited during the past couple of visits to Mumbai.

  • Jahangir Art Gallery 
    Located near to Gateway of India and it exhibits the recent creations by famous Indian artists and upcoming artists.  Theme based paintings like Contemporary Politics, Dance of Shiva, Industrial imperialism by USA, Dog faces, Nature in East-India, etc were in display.
  • Nehru Science Centre
    Located in Dr. E. Moses Road near Mahalaxmi Railway station.  An informative museum of all scientific developments and inventions including fundamental physics, universe, evolution of life, aerospace, biology and much more.  Regarding the collection and facilities, it is equivalent to the science centre in Bangalore.  One uniqueness is, this centre has a dome shaped (semi-planetarium kind of) visual theatre, which shows wide displays 45 minutes feature film on Climbing Mount Everest mission.
  • Nehru Planetarium
    Yet another informative planetarium which introduces the basic planetary motion, location of Pole star, display of larger brighter stars and identification of Ursa Major (Great Bear), Orion (The Hunter) and Virgo constellations.  I’ve felt this planetarium is larger than that of Bangalore and Chennai.
  • SiddhiVinayak temple
    Most famous temple of Lord Ganesha in Mumbai is located in a walkable distance from our home at Worli.  The small red statue of Ganesh looks cute and the temple is having high security alert always.  One could hear the chantings “Ganapathy Paappa Moriya” from the disciplies inside.  Trivia:  The temple dome is a beautiful lotus-shaped light glowing structure which was donated by Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan.
  • Mahalakshmi temple
    Old and famous temple in Mumbai for Goddess Mahalakshmi located at Breach Candy.  Three idols are present there as Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Kali.
  • Haji Ali
    A small islet present in Southern end of Worli sea is a home for great mosque with a spectacular light-litted face during night. The architecture and view from the road is a good watch for outsiders.
  • Juhu Chowpatty
    One of the famous cheap hang-outs in Mumbai is the Juhu beach. People are spending much time in eating the road-side snacks, which is available at bulk near to this beach. Apart from Juhu, other Chowpatty in Bandra and Worli Sea Face are also quite good to spend evening time.
  • Fashion Street
    An array of more than 300 small shops selling all college-fashion wears especially for youth is nothing but the Fashion Street. People could find cheap and acceptable quality T-shirts, Jeans wears, Salwars, Bags, Footwears, Watches, etc. Sari and formal dresses won’t be available. Whatever price they are quoting needs to be initially reduced to 1/4th of it, to start our bargain. Bargaining is the key to buy items here. Other from Fashion Street in Marine Lines, the shopping hangouts include Chor Bazaar, Bhendi Bazzar and Dadar Sadi Bazaar.
  • Landmarks
    Just made a visit to financial focus Bombay Stock Exchange at Dalal street and terror-stuck Chatrapathi Shivaji Station (Victoria Terminus) for completeness. I’ll see whether I get any chance in upcoming years to visit Mumbai again.

Ulaga Naagariham – Kamala Kandhasaamy

I had a chance to read this Tamil book on World Culture (Complete title: Ulaga Naagariham: Vazhangiya Naadugalum, Varalaarum). It is not a novel or story but a bunch of facts on the growth and evolution of World Culture, substantiated with historical records. The book starts with evolution of mankind from ancient stone-age man and their nomadic lifestyles. Then the proper settlement of people near the banks of river with agriculture as their main work. Initially four major civilizations evolved in various regions of the world: Sumerian culture on bank of Euphrates and Tigirs rivers (i.e. Mesopotamia, modern Iraq), Egyptian culture on bank of Nile river, Chinese culture on bank of Yellow river and Indus Valley civilization at the bank of Sindhu and Ganges river (Aryan settlement).
Then the book talks about Greek, Roman, African, Indian and American cultures and its related history. After that, the role of Religions in the culture of people followed by modern day evolution in culture was given. i.e. the cultural focus changed from Monarchy-based to Democracy-based society. A final touch on recent impact on people culture was discussed including two world wars and UNO formation, etc.
I feel this book is being presented as a form of History subject to students, that could be considered as a short reference book on various cultural and historical topics. But this may not be interesting for people, who read novels and story-telling style of history.

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

A short and sweet philosophical book written in a story-telling style.  I feel this acts a tonic to realize the power lies within oneself.  And everyone need to read some verses again and again in a regular interval to invoke the inner strength and good qualities.  I liked some short stories shared in this book and the lifestyle of people living in desert.  One of the philosophical statements which I liked is “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve:  the fear of failure”.


A one day trip to Lonavala was not so exciting as the season was neither monsoon nor spring.   One thing I liked in the trip is Karla and Bhaja caves which is 2nd century BC Buddhist caves.  It was really spectacular to see the majestic hall carved inside the cave.  The hall is very big with seat for Head Monk and has dozens of elephant statues.  I was just thinking how the people/monks would be standing and behaving in the same hall centuries before.  I wish those elephants to come alive and speak the history and lifestyle of people, they saw in these thousands of years.

After the cave dharshan, went to Lonavala lake, Rajmachi point, Shivaji Udyan and Kandala.  Lonavala is famous for the eatable ‘Chikki’, which is nothing groundnut pies mixed in jaggery (Kadalaimittai in Tamil).  A two hour journey in train from Mumbai could make a good weekend trip, but it has to be made on correct season.

First sight of Mumbai

I was bit excited to live in Mumbai, like first onsite abroad visit.  The thriving
city of Mumbai welcomed us with fighting taxiwalas in Airport to grab us.  The
yelllow-and-black taxis which I saw in hindi movies are ubiquitious in Mumbai, and its pretty cool that these meter fares are reasonable though (Rs. 9 per km).  The city’s first look always shows the dirt and uncleanliness everywhere.  Some of the best maintained buildings and complexes are surrounded by dirty outfits, which looks awkward.  Life in Mumbai is quite different from Chennai and Bangalore majorly because of its fastness.  No one have an inch patience on the road and mind.
I had the city-staple food Vada-Pav and Chai.  On the weekend, made a visit
to Gateway of India and had a glimpse of terror-struck Taj Mahal Hotel.  In that hotel, still renovations are going on even after a year.  Then made a visit to Bandra by travelling on the recently opened Bandra – Worli Sealink bridge (which is about 5 km in length on sea).  Expecting some good days in Mumbai.

Rock Show at Saarang

IIT Madras’s annual cultural fest Saarang was in its own colours on this year 2010. I had an opportunity to witness the last day celebrations of it.  Have attended Light music finals at Central Lecture Theatre and Dance finals competitions at Students Activity Centre, which are participated by jubilant students from many colleges. In between as a parallel activity, spent hour an half at ICSR auditorium to attend lecture by Bharathanatyam artist Padma Subramaniam on theory and practise of dance.  As the ultimate programme on the evening a Rock show was presented at Open Air Theatre by internal Rock Brands ‘Skid Row’ and ‘Hurricane Bells’.  This is the first rock show I’ve attended but unable to appreciate it fully, which might be because of lack of interest and knowledge.  I was wondered how a person could sing continuously in base-voice for an hour.  Dozens of high-sound huge speakers were on the stage along with 3 guitarists, one vocalist, one drumist and one keyboard player.  The artists usually had long hair and intentionally shaking their hairy-heads wildly to energize the audience;  its quite disgusting act though.  Anyway, a different experience for folks like me.

Bombay Jayashri’s carnatic concert at Madurai

I thought I have missed to attend any carnatic classical concert on this musical year (Dec 2009 – Jan 2010), but it was refuted by this last programme organized by Sathguru Sangeetha Samaajam in Madurai.  Bombay Jayashri at her own melodious voice soothed everyone with classic numbers.  It was apt for her to present in green saree to sing about Goddess Meenakshi in “mayammayani ne pilacite”, a Shyama Shastri kriti.  I’ve liked the rendering ‘Nee paadamae gathi, nalina kaanthimathi’ and other niravals.  Due to time constraint, I was unable to attend the complete concert but enjoyed an hour and a half musical show.

Two (too) good movies on a day!

Went to INOX to watch the spectacular 3D show ‘Avatar’ with my friends.  Indeed a mind-blowing film for some of its creativity and imagination on the new species of a different planet.  The technology is the actual protagonist of this film and a good message to us is to save the nature and protect the natural beings.
Followed by that, watched the latest Hindi blockbuster ‘3 idiots’.  Impressed by the screenplay and the core message of the film, which is obvious that ‘freedom of education in choosing the career’.  Have read already ‘five point someone’ novel and I agree that many incidents are similar but the movie stands on its own in many aspects.  Also I agree that Aamir Khan’s portrayal of inherent intelligence, love to machines, absconding from the material world to establish his own science empire would be comparable to the character John Galt of ‘Altas Shrugged’ novel by Ayn Rand.
As a whole, I’ve enjoyed completely my ‘last bachelor weekend’ with friendly
Nammaveedu guys in Bangalore.