Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gooseberry that got stuck

The Star Gooseberry

I was sucking the tasty juice from the gooseberry pickle kept between the gums and the cheek.
"Ready?" called I before striking the ball. The pickled gooseberry suddenly slipped when I called and nicely settled in my gullet . I dropped my little bat and rushed to the nearest tap (those days were 24x7 water supply, mind you!) at the nearest house, my neighbour's out house. I hoped water would force it down. I swallowed with force. No, it wouldn't move. Discomfort. Panic. Swallowing water had suddenly become difficult.

That was the scene one Sunday evening in February 1970 during a game of what we called "Ready Rocket", a game played much like cricket but also like 'gulli danda'. The tennis ball was struck with a little hand bat by bouncing once on the ground and fielders had to field the ball. Those were days when most of the street boys were on the streets playing, because we did not know the word 'traffic'! Hardly a cyclist or a scooterist plied interrupting our games, much rarely a car.

I think the game stopped when the other boys saw me in trouble. I ran home and informed elders. I could talk but with that 'lump in the throat'. Somebody took me on a bicycle to Mysore Pharmacy, where Dr.Krishnaswamy Rao examined and the condition was beyond his limits. I was brought back to our street's "Liver House", a family of doctors, right opposite our house. Their help in various needs like these will never be forgotten. The Head Lady, Saraswathamma tried banging my back, but the berry would not budge. She summoned her son Dr. Eswer to rush me to KR Hospital where he worked. My mother took me in an autorickshaw (one of few those days). Shivaram (Eswer's nephew, still studying MBBS), taking our bicycle followed Dr.Eswer who came on his Vespa scooter.

Being a Sunday, the KR Hospital OT was locked. Dr.Eswer and Shivaram went on a man-hunt for the person who had the OT key. The obstruction had to be removed in haste as it was already a delay. By the time they returned with the key-man, it was close to 8 p.m. or so. My fingernails were repeatedly examined by junior doctors on duty as we all waited anxiously. They were turning blue indicating that my system was falling short of oxygen. The wind-pipe was luckily only partialy blocked. I was getting tense and struggling to breathe freely due to the blockage. The long wait was as uncomfortable as it was worrisome to those around me also.

There were no nursing homes and the likes in those days at every street corner as we see now. People went to the humble K.R.Hospital for nearly anything or the locality's free dispensary during daytime.

I was taken in to the OT when the door was opened and lights were switched on. I was made to lie down on OT table. Inside, it was a different 'hospital smell'! A brass tube
was inserted into my mouth to keep it open and to enable viewing inside the trachea. Then some hissing gas was let in from a tube - no idea what that odd smelling gas was. There was a Doctor accompanying Dr.Eswer who was doing this using that round concave mirror in front of his right eye to direct light into the tube. The tweezer was inserted through the tube in an attempt to grab the object and pull it out. Probably he saw the pickle there! The obstructing gooseberry, gave a slip to the tweezer. I could not feel it slipping into the belly, but could feel the arrival of a new lease of life with still that odour of that odd gas lingering. I heard them saying that very luckily it followed the alimentary canal and not the windpipe route!

After this simple 'operation' Shivaram took me home on our bicycle (which I still use) after buying me a cavendish banana from a street-side 'box shop' that also sold cigarettes and beedies. I can still remember that journey back home sitting on the carrier behind Shivu and holding the two rings of the saddle for grip.

My grandmother who prepared the pickle was more relieved than anybody when she saw us arriving home. It could be one of her most anxious waits in her spot near the gate, leaning to the pillar in her squatted posture facing the road, praying God. There were no telephones or mobiles to keep track of the goings on. Once out of the house, you stayed disconnected until you returned home! There was hardly one or two in a street that could afford telephones, nor were there any public phone-booths.

There were still a few more of those washed pickles still in my 'chaddi' (shorts) pocket! We were both ignorant of dust in pockets and stains it would cause keeping foodstuffs like that! I remember emptying those remaining pickles on my way back! Many of the kids used to keep some snacks, peanuts, copra pieces, peppermints, and what not in pockets while playing! It was common. At times we shared with other boys, but mostly it was for self and eaten secretly as they were usually stolen from kitchens!

Things were fine till a few days after. High fever and fetid smell from the mouth laid me down and had to absent from school. My 7th Standard Public Examinations were closing in and my appearing for them were in jeopardy. Such was the sickness and the weakness that was to follow. It was Dr.Eswer again who diagnosed an infection mostly from that brass pipe (most likely, unclean!). The many antibiotic injections and pills (what with our hatred to swallow - we 'yucked' the horrible taste when it got stuck and only water went in!) that followed made me to vomit huge amounts of pus. Health was soon restored but I was too weak to study.

During that time, a silly enmity was in progress (as some children of that age sometimes do) towards my classmate Rajgopal (Gopi) who was living close by. Both of us played together and also went together to school every day almost since our Class 2 days (For Class 1, either a servant maid or my mother or aunt accompanied me!). I would go to Gopi's house on Bajjanna Lane through the short-cut at Marigudi and then we would go, playfully, throwing stones, picking up fallen fruits (Rain-tree and Spathodea) and still reaching on time. While returning, I took a diversion at the fork at Bajjanna Lane. This enemity towards him had been there for a number of weeks and I cannot recall a particular incident being the reason. Probably he had equal enmity or more, I do not know!

Word about my poor health had spread among my classmates and teachers. During the convalescing period it appears that I used to mumble in half-consciousness the name of my other good classmate Zakir Hussain. This was informed to him through someone. I can still vividly recall his visit and me looking at him from my horizontal position. My enemy Gopi also was kind enough to take that opportunity to be behind Zakir to also visit me. I would not look at Gopi properly as he was my 'enemy'! Looking into the eyes of enemies or even touching was taboo that prevailed in those days! But I managed to look at him when he was not looking at me!

Their visit had its silent beneficial effects and I stopped convalescing. It was this visit from Gopi that reconstructed our friendship and further strengthened my bond towards Zakir also. After a few days, I was almost back to normal. But there was another tension at home that also coincided my sickness when my younger brother sat on boiled milk kept on the floor (there was no kitchen platforms in those days) and quite badly scalded the buttocks. It is another side-story altogether.

Both Zakir and Gopi are still in touch with me from different places. We make it a point to meet whenever possible.

Gopi visits from Chennai.

Zakir never misses at least a phone call when he comes all the way from Brunei.

I must not forget to remember all those who stood by me during such a crisis. My gratitude ever remains to Dr.Eswer (no more now), Shivaram (now an orthopaedician in the US) and my teachers at CKC (Christ the King Convent), esp. Hindi Miss Leela, who gave me moral strength. I also remember a girl Rama in the neighbourhood who had given me a list of some 'important questions' on different subjects as it was the practice in schools to provide them before exams. She went to a different school. They were all invaluable.

When the exams came, I was able to prepare to some extent and face them reasonably well. I passed with a 'first class' much to the relief of one and all.

Also during those crucial months before the gooseberry went in, a home tutor had been appointed to help me with my lessons. He was an old man by name Krishnappa. Though this poor man tried to teach well, my mind wavered as it was a binding and strenuous to listen to same old lessons! He came from an old house in Rajarama Agrahara.

We had that star gooseberry tree in our backyard. Fruits used in that pickle were from that. My pampering and sensitive grandmother very soon saw to it that that gooseberry tree was chopped down. It was only after many years that it regrew and bore fruit as if to wait till I got older to relish pickles only during the meals and till my grandmother who was too old to prepare pickles from it!

From thereon, very slowly, both Gopi and I began to view each other differently and began visiting each other's houses again. The enmity spilled over to our 8th class (he went to a different section at Sharada Vilas High Scool) also but it soon vanished. That taste of gooseberry pickle never came back as my grandmother had died (1978), but Gopi came back into the fold. We are also disconnected to that gooseberry tree now but that is yet another story.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The world's first photograph and our oldest

Though our family did not have any camera or fancied photography, my grandfather's library contained many fine books also from his father's time, on varied subjects including this one, The World's Best Photographs.

It was published by some British Publisher (there is nothing mentioned in it - may be the crucial first page is missing), going by the content. I also do not know if it belonged to a set of books on different themes brought out by them. But it seems to have been published in one of the few years soon after 1939. The editor writes in it that they planned two years ahead and he had space only for 400 best pictures of his choice and he had to reject 19 (also equally good ones) and choose one among the lot - that was the amount of pictures which had poured in from kind contributors for this edition. It is a collector's item, on any day.

I grew up with this book. My mother often used to show me pages from it as a bribe to make this fussy little boy open the mouth to let the spoon of boiled rice in. Some of the pictures that impressed me at that raw age are shown here below. I did not know the quality of its content until I grew up to appreciate photography. Though a box camera was around us since 1969-70, taking pictures were not taken seriously, mostly due to the expense in getting them printed. After I grew a little older, the book rested on the shelf.

The man drinking water was the one that always fascinated me while I wondered how this golf picture could have been taken.

Recently I was turning its pages and trying to read for the first time while 'nostalgiating' on those pictures. In this old book, I found this picture (below) supposed to be taken before 1839, by Fox Talbot. At that time, when this book was published, it was supposed (speculated) to be the first picture (by collotype/callotype process) ever taken.

The year 1839 was marked to be the birth of photography and in 1939, exhibitions were held all over the world to celebrate the centenary of this new medium of recording. This book contains pictures up to that year, taken by many famous photographers.

At that time it was really not known which was the one real first photograph taken. Trying to search for details on the above picture on the internet, I found this picture and learnt a new thing!

In fact, the first ever actual photograph (shown above) was something else, discovered and confirmed many years after the above book was brought out. The story behind the world's first photograph and also its finding is very interesting. Its exposure time was as long as eight hours! With present technology, cameras can take a shot in 1/1000th of a second! Imagine the quickness!

One fine day, I found something in our house which thrilled me. They were a set of negatives. I have seen negatives of pictures on plastic in my time, but this is in glass. There were no pictures of them in our albums. So I decided to get them printed at an acquaintance's studio about 15 years back to see who were all in them. They surely were connected to the family. I have heard about our house having a bullock cart and there it was on record. I was able to compare its shutters with the one on the small almirah's in our house. They are one and the same, converted when the cart got old.

In the following six collage-pictures, the left is the glass original and on the right, its print.

This is the cart - the face seen at the window is of a grand uncle. May be before 1920.

This is my great grandparents taken around 1930.

He may be a home tutor. Going by the age of the boy on the right (granduncle, Narayana) this would have been around 1910.

May be another tutor. Same period. The negative has been shown here in reverse by mistake.
This is the horse cart belonging to the same time, again going by the looks on Narayana there.

Now both tutors are together in this picture. Notice the tuft visible beneath the cap. The headgear was a must and part of the attire, typical of Mysore. There are hardly any old picture i our family pictures of that era showing heads of men without any headgear.

So these become the oldest pictures from our family. The common person in this picture Narayana died young after marriage.

Recorded are so many firsts in photography, be it a first photo of a royal ceremony, or one taken during a war or anything. Here is some information about the world's first colour photograph. The present generation children know only colour pictures. They shy away even when a vintage movie in B&W is shown on TV! They do not know how hard it was to take a movie, leave alone a photograph.

Well, this one could be my first ever "click", in 1969, at Gokarna. My elder cousin (in white on the right handed me the box camera and I looked through the very tiny rectangular hole (view finder) and slowly pushed the lever and heard that pleasing sound of the shutter!

After my uncle took my picture that day probably in 1964 or so, I clearly remember asking him if I can take a shot. Of course with just 12 frames in the roll (full capacity was that -- now we shoot in hundreds in the digital era!), experimentation in the hands of an 8-year old was a no-no!

My late cousin (seen here) who was with us at that time was mostly handling the camera (borrowed from a maternal uncle). He allowed me to take this shot when our house was freshly white-washed as part of the preparation for my 'sacred thread ceremony', in April 1970.

A picture is worth a thous..............


Here are many from our albums and photoframes. The ones in photoframes were removed and converted into album some years back. It was a lot of hard work, worth the pain and time.
Vintage pictures from album - 1

Another smaller set:

Vintage Miscellaneous Pictures

Visit my blog on Photo Studios and old photographs.

I had a weird experience behind the camera.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Legendary Carpet

This carpet has seen it all. It has spent its life with our family and seen five generations and numerous family events. It has brushed many soles of great souls that have walked on it.

Nobody discussed about its history in my lifetime as it silently lay beneath our feet, adding beauty with its lovely pattern. We do not know how it came to be part of our family but observing old pictures from the family album gave a hint of how long it has been here.

Belgium is famous for carpets and going by the durability, design and quality, it can only be wildly assumed that someone must have gifted my great grandfather or that it was his big purchase as part of a sofa set to entertain his clients and visitors.

That was at a time when sofa sets were entering homes - 'going British' (not western). It is a popular belief also, that the British brought window and door curtain system to India! I was witness to an old ragged sofa set that was lying in an unused passageway. For repair the set of 3 was handed over in 1975 to a known upholsterer who lived next street and his two young daughters came to our house to learn lessons in Veena from my maternal aunt. Into the cart they went that day and was the last we saw of it. The upholsterer's extraordinary delay and our frequent inquiries resulted one fine day in him asking back to us "which sofa set?"! In the meantime, my grandfather also had died and we were forced to 'write it off as a bad debt'. In all likelihood this carpet during its 'heydays' was kept in the visitor's room (writing the blog from that very room) in front of the sofa set. Straw mats would have been popular then also, as it is now at least with us.

This carpet was popularly addressed as "RathnakambLi".

This is the pattern of our subject. How beautiful it would have looked when it was fresh and new!

The above photo is of K.Srikantaiah and his wife, a nephew of my great grandfather. It must be from the 1930s. Since it was a joint family, he lived together among many others in the same house I write this. The house itself was built in 1911. His job later took him to Bangalore. Their son K.S.Nanjundaiah (find his name in the link) was born in this house around 1917 (he is 92 now, old and frail).

Observe the carpet under their feet and another striped carpet at the back one in the picture. This picture must have been 'modified' in the studio to give that background of a scenery or it must have been a big painting like we see on drama stages, I don't know.

(That was the sofa I referred above.)

The above picture must be from the late 1940s. Notice the same carpets. The couple is unknown - may be some guest visiting the family for an event that must have taken place in our house itself. That open yard has become my garden now.

This is from 1956 when friends and relatives had gathered for my grandfather's 60th birthday celebration.

The carpet was part of my parent's wedding reception at Narasimharaja Sahakara Bhavana at 100 ft. Road (now Chamaraja Double Road) in December 1956.

I have grown with it.
(Above picture - note the wooden toys and empty talcum powder tins as toys!)

I have played on it spending endless hours. Somehow, that pattern has been very attractive to me even from my very young age. The bordering straight lines were imagined as my roads for my toy games - I used to kneel in the centre and 'drive' my cars and buses (often other objects also became cars and even aeroplanes!) and what speed I drove as I swiveled on my knees only to get bruised by the rough carpet! We wore shorts. I did it anti-clockwise because of my right-handedness as it was easier to turn my vehicles to the left! There were no accidents. Purely because there was no violence anywhere. Roads were calm and people drove at leisurely speeds, so typical of Mysore of yore, I can boldly say. The early sixties had no movies to influence driving stunts and destroying cars. The famous Grand Prix movie came later. But the Circus Car impressed me with its jump! It would be driven at great speed up a gradient and then land at the centre of the arena with a thud.. aah, that was an impressive scene prompting my replaying using an examination clip board raised by a few books!

My favourite toy was the one on the left. It was a gift to me from a relative (C.Srikantia) who had been to Japan for his studies as early as the 1930s. Since his only daughter had outgrown toys, he was kind enough to give it as well as many other items which still decorate our showcase. That car had provision for batteries and had lights (I spoiled all the beautiful little milky bulbs during my experiments), its front wheels could be turned by hand and I found it so thrilling to watch the car turn on its own as I simply pushed! This beautiful car - my Rolls Royce - has run many a mile on my carpet road!

(Posing for this blogpost, I flew back to those days! Cameras were not so easily available to freeze memorable moments then!)

The "London Open Bus" did not run much though it had a steering wheel that turned the front wheels because its tyres had worn out and was running on its rims - could have damaged my roads! We complain of bad roads, but this was a complaint of the bad tyres, much like those steel-ringed bullock cart tyres damaging newly laid tar roads!

In the 1960s I was inspired in my 'carpet driving' by our 'family taxi' bearing number 77, driven by one Khalaq who was often hired to take us to Nanjandud's Srikanteswara Temple. I imitated his actions on my carpet with my toys. There were no plastic toys, but only spring-wound toys shaped from tin sheets. Rubber tyres were making their entry into toy cars. I found those cheap ones fitted with them unsuitable as they were usually ''push back and leave" type. They strayed off my carpet roads!

My two children also have played on it as it used to be spread out on the floor every day, rolled up when the maid servant came for sweeping/mopping. When little kids 'wetted' on it, it was time to dry it out in the sun!

Dust was not a problem in the house in the house we grew up. When I brought it with me about ten years ago to start living my 1911 ancestral house, it was a problem because traffic became heavy.

As such, maintaining our beloved 'RatnakambLi' which is quite adept at collecting dust in large volumes and too quickly made us to think twice for its regular use. So, it was spread out in a small open room which we do not use regularly and it is where it now lies. A vacuum cleaner would have made things easier then, but by the time this machine came home (only this month), the beautiful carpet had already faded and become unfit for regular use in the living area.

The natural aging process and slowly on the way out. It is at a "can't keep, can't use and can't throw" stage.

Even if we throw it out one day, memories of our humble 'RathnakambLi' will linger on for ever.

Spotted an Indian Golden Oriole today

I was taking out my scooter from inside, getting ready for a little errand. Suddenly I heard a screeching call of a bird from the neighbourhood neem tree.

I can recognize calls from Tailorbirds, Sunbirds, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Pigeons, Doves, Indian Gray Hornbill, White-cheeked barbet, Common Myna, Magpie Robin, Black Kites, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Common Crow-pheasant, Koel, House sparrows (now unseen in our locality of Lakshmipuram) and of course the House Crow.
Many of them, I have added in the database here.

That screeching call was unfamiliar to me. I noticed a distinct bright yellow bird on a branch, some distance away, the yellow of its plumage glowing in the fresh early morning sunshine.

I ran in with great speed to grab the camera, the Panasonic FZ8 with 12x zoom. I had seen this bird for a very short while yesterday on the same tree but by the time I ran in and came out with the camera, it had disappeared. A proper glimpse of it, except its colour, was not possible to have.

Today, I did not want to miss. Luckily for me, it hopped from branch to branch, well in my range of vision and then flew over to the other tree where I could still see, thanks also to the winter season when that tree was bereft of leaves.

The sight of this bright yellow bird was striking. I was ecstatic. It was slightly larger than a Barbet and I thought it was another belonging to the same group. I shot a few and chose the best ones to share here.

(Showing off the black and yellow plumage and also the distinctive mark around the eye)

After finishing the errand, I referred the book gifted to me two years back, by a kind friend from Dave's Garden. It is none other than "The Book of Indian Birds, by Salim Ali", a book I had always wanted to buy, but that was a most unexpected gift from the kind lady whom I have known only on the website, from half way round the earth (the USA)! She had e-paid for the book and ordered it to be sent to me. It was as if she had read my mind telepathically!

To confirm that it was indeed an Golden Oriole, I tele-called up my good friend and ever-helpful expert K.B.Sadananda, an experienced Botanist and an enthusiastic Bird-watcher, much renown in those circles, describing how this bird looks and what the book said. He gave me some information about my sighting while confirming (from the tip of his tongue!) what I had just seen was an Indian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus)- with distinctive and extended black markings around its eye separating it from the Oriole from the European or African parts. In these, he said, the black markings does not stretch beyond the eye.

He told that it was an uncommon visitor not easily sighted in the urban landscapes and that in all probability, HE (that bird, was a male) was a 'winter-visitor', a winter migratory bird from the Himalayan region (December is winter time here). It flies southwards during the winter time and flies back when summer begins here. As such, I consider myself lucky to have spotted it in our locality.

Whether it be a bird or a plant, or anything concerning the environment people look up to Sadananda and he seldom disappoints anyone. When Sadananda speaks, people listen. Such is the authority and knowledge he commands, what with his kindness!

Here he is speaking (at leisure) to an organic farmer recently at a small vegetable market.

In this picture Sadananda is speaking at an awareness camp.

The Oriole flew away leaving its imprint in my mind with its colour and identity. Only if we look around or have an open ear, we come across newer things.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Majestic Monolith

Let's first take a look at how this magnificent monolith looked in the late 1920s in the first picture followed by succeeding pictures of how it looks today. Observe the Doddakere with water in this picture.
(Click on pictures to enlarge).

The following pictures were taken today when I went there unplanned.

Viewed from the adjacent road.

A closer look at the Bull in a couchant posture.

From the other side.

Its rear.

As children, we used to crawl in the gap underneath its left leg upon instruction from the elders and we found it a thrilling exercise. "Those who passed that way would be blessed" was the belief!


I reproduce here from the book "Mysore City" by Constance Parsons (1930) some excerpts about this Sacred Bull.

Descending (by the footpath) past the little lake (where is it now?) of Herekere, constructed 350 years ago (now almost 430 years ago) by Bettada Chama Raja Wadiyar V, you may reach the Bull in a few minutes. (A motor road, branching off from the 'Douglas Rice Circle' also leads to it.) Fashioned, says legend, in one night, out of the basalt of the hill, this recumbent, colossal Nandi (the vehicle of Siva) was a gift of Dodda Deva Raja, who reigned from 1659 to 1672; a valiant and pious king, who defeated enemies on all sides of the little kingdom, which he greatly extended and which he divided into four equal parts.... ...

Over 25 feet long and 16 feet high, adorned with ropes, chains, bells and jewels of stone, the Bull - from the days when in England Cavalier and Roundhead fought for mastery - his lain, massive, calm, instructable; with half-shut eyes which seem, in yogi fashion, to be closing in meditation. The carving, declared by Mr. Rice to be 'in no way extraordinary', is bold and by no means without beauty. It is neither coarse nor finicking, and nothing could be more suitable for its exposed position and the distance from which it must be viewed.

Nearby is a small stone lamp-post, erected by a European and lighted, as part of the daily ritual, by the Brahmin priest in charge.


We had been to the Hill in April 2008. Here are some pictures in the Webshots Album.

A trip to Chamundi Hills


There are a couple of superstitions that have floated around since many decades. There would be doomsday if this sacred bull stands up on its legs or if it opens its mouth and makes a call!

From the crude telescope I had made using torchlight covers, toy magnifying glass and eye-pieces from toy binoculars I used to focus this Nandi Bull from the balcony of our house in the mid 1970s. At that time, the view was clearer as trees had not been an obstruction.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

How I met T.S.Satyan once

~~Above pictures by T.S.Satyan are from the 'net.~~
(Bottom picture, R.K.Narayan is keeping wickets in his backyard)


Read this in the link.

Sunaad Raghuram writes about him in Churumuri.

Another link.

I am one of the many admirers of T.S.Satyan’s works. We lose a great person with his untimely demise. Untimely, even at 86, because he had been quite normal till the end. He was as good with the camera as with the pen - simple, fluent and effective. I had the good fortune of just one purposeful meeting with him, not about photography but about writing. Having written a longish write-up (to be sent to Star of Mysore, a local eveninger) in 2004, I had got some doubts to be cleared before finalization. To make them clear, I had gone to his house following an appointment, which he kindly gave me at a small vegetable market where he and Mr.Bapu Sathyanarayana used to also frequent. That is the place where we had acquainted ourselves with each other through Mr.Bapu and smiling nods were exchanged on subsequent visits. He always came with a cloth bag in hand to take ‘veggies’.

Patiently, he read those 2-3 pages I gave him as I waited anxiously looking at him. He said the content was okay but if you use difficult words, (there was just one) common readers may find it hard to understand. I realized what he observed and promptly changed it.

He emphasized on simplicity (all of him was personified with it) of language which I had observed from his different writings. Before I left, he gave me his latest Kannada book ‘kaalakke kannadi’ at a well discounted rate after learning my interests. He signed the book in Kannada and handed it over to me. In fact, after all these years, I had picked up from the shelf only last week to browse through it!

In the 1970s, his name circulated more for some reason I am unable to remember. At the same time, there was a house in Krishnamurthypuram with the name board ‘T.S.Satyan’. Each time I passed it, I used to wonder if that was the same Satyan, which was not. My late father used to often mention that HY Sharada Prasad was his classmate in school and I vaguely remember him mentioning the name of Satyan also. My father’s reference to Satyan did not ring any bell in him.

He had said once "They say luck happens when preparation meets with opportunity."

I clearly remember Satyan having said in an interview about young photo-journalists “They are too easily satisfied, overestimating themselves at the first taste of success.” This reflects the high standards he had set for himself. He had gone on to remind an old saying “the art should speak, not the artist.” Indeed, his art will keep speaking for ever. May his soul RIP.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Get Sunlightened!

"The Sun is a big ball of fire." taught my primary Class 1 "Book of Knowledge". I cannot forget repeating the sentence, "The Sun is a big ball of fayah!" My teacher pronounced like that at the Convent and my exaggerated pronunciation of 'fire' irked her to the extent that my mother was summoned. My mother was not familiar with English much, as she had studied in the Kannada medium. When I read the lesson at home, in all likelihood sitting on her lap, she thought what I was uttering was right! When my teacher told her about this 'fayah', she could not believe it. It was then she learnt what was right. Here is the page from that very book which is still preserved to remember this funny little incident!

The Sun also is an important subject for children's drawings. Draw a circle and draw alternately long and short lines along to represent the rays. In imaginary scenery that we children drew, the sun always rose between two sharp mountains!

Watching sunrise is a soothing way to begin the day. It can be inspiring. Sunrises and sunsets never fail to fascinate me. Of course, if the clouds do not hang and obstruct view over the horizon. Thick fog also can prevent the sight. If the sky is clear with a thin fog, we can view a 'cool' sunrise - the glowing orange disk floating up from the horizon. It looks so beautiful and if we continue looking at it, we can see it rise gradually. Taking a glimpse of this can be very energizing!

If there is almost no fog the sunrise will be slightly 'warmer' as it looks brighter.

Here is a photo collage of a series of six pictures taken a couple of years back from our balcony.

A little bit of cloud can add to beauty as the Sun illuminates the cloud to give interesting colours like in the picture below taken of a sunset in Mysore.

Tapping Solar energy is the order of the day and if done on a much larger scale, it can alleviate the present energy crisis. Here in the picture below, the Solar panel on our balcony reflects the morning Sun.

When we tour different places we do not miss the opportunity to watch sunrise or sunset. It is the same Sun, yet we are thrilled to watch this natural everyday phenomenon that is going on for millions of years!

People thronged at the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula at Kanyakumari to watch Sunrise. At the same spot people gather in the evening to watch sunset. This is one of the few places in the world that can offer such a natural 'facility'! This picture (below) was taken at 5.54 AM, a few seconds after much excitement and hand clapping (!) when the first ray was seen over the horizon. Somebody in the large crowd in front of me is still exited.

In May 2009, I was able to watch this scene (picture below) of the sun rising at Interlaken, Switzerland. How I wish the sky was cloudless!

At Darjeeling, people gather at a place called 'Tiger Hill' to watch the spectacle of sunrise and the rays of of the sun falling on the Kanchengunga mountain range. Below is an image from the Net. This visitor has been lucky that it was cloudless. He would have watched the red changing to yellow and brighter.

When we were on that Hill in November 2008, clouds were hanging low. We could watch sunrise and turning to the left, we saw more clouds obscuring the Kanchengunga. Temperature was about 5C. There was a large crowd.

This is all what we could view of the Kanchengunga range. That was our luck. Those who went the previous morning had a clear view but then that is how unpredictable the 'hilly weather' is. It was chilly weather alright.

In lands of 'midnight sun', the sun never sets for many months. The multi-exposure picture below is from Britannica.

The Sun that is the main index of daily activity pattern of the entire life on earth. Birds and animals rise and rest according to the movement of the sun. It sets the rhythm of life. During total solar eclipses they have studied how confused animals become at that short period of near darkness in between dawn and dusk. The Sun's influence on Earth, the tides at seas, climatic rhythm and almost everything are too well known. In the present time, the world is talking much about 'global warming', ultra violet radiation...

Click on these links to get further insight about the Sun:

Facts about the Sun are here in a nutshell.

Sun Website gives much details.

The Wikipidea has these to show us.

The Sun also is meaningfully symbolized.

There are many temples dedicated to the Sun God. The Sun is being worshiped since centuries!

The Temple at Konark, Orissa is dedicated to the Sun God.
Sun Temple at Mesa Verde.
In Gujarat, there is also a Sun Temple.
The famous Machu Picchu Inca Temple of the Sun in Peru.
Yet another temple at Santo Domingo, Peru
One ancient temple was excavated in Egypt.

Surya Namaskar is a much practiced set of yoga postures for health and well being.
This Sun Salutation is described by Stephen Knapp.

Did you know that looking at the Sun can trigger a sneeze! You can try it!

Aditya Hridaya is a hymn dedicated to the Sun God. You can download it in MP3 here. Uttering it daily has many benefits. In fact, all 'mantras' and 'shlokas' in Sanskrit are based on 'sound keys' the sound vibrations produce beneficial effects on the human mind and body on a different plane.

Aditya Hridaya explanation in English is in this link.

English language has many uses of the 'Sun'. Just take a look at this list.

Both boys and girls are named after the Sun. So are many business establishments like this for a small example.

We think we are big! Just look at this one:
How big is the Earth, how big is the Sun in comparison to other objects in the Universe? How small are we?

Former President of India, Dr.A.P.J.Adbul Kalam is fond of answering about is age this way:
"I have made 72 trips around the Sun."

People from the West love 'Sun tan'.

Sunbathing is another of their pastime given the cold winters they experience.

The Sun is an important component in Astrology. We have "Sun Signs" of the Zodiac.

There is so much about this amazing Star called the Sun, the centre of our Solar System. As the Earth rotates, sunrise signals the beginning of the day. Some of the late risers miss the sight and joke "I have never seen a sunrise."! They miss something. The enlightened say that about half an hour before sunrise is the most precious time when the cosmic energies are flowing in at its best. It is why they advise students to keep this time for their study. I remember my grandfather doing it when he had a legal case to handle in court. The mind will work at its best at that hour.

I found the word 'Sunlightenment' impressive. So I adapted it to my blogpost.

(You get this "Alt code" Sun symbol by holding the Alt key and pressing + 1 5 and release the Alt key)

The 'Big ball of fire' will continue to burn for another five billion years!