Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Grandchild at the “National Abacus & Mental Arithmetic Competition”, 26/Nov/2011, Bengaluru.

Our six year old granddaughter, Sudhiksha represented her Abacus Class of Secunderabad at the National Abacus and Mental Arithmetic Competition held at Bangalore on 26th November 2011. She fared very well and was awarded the above Certificate and Memento. Her selection and performance has made us all very happy.
A lot of good is being said about Abacus learning these days. The abacus learning program is said to train young students to use both the left and right hemispheres of the brain effectively. One side of the brain is said to be concerned with logical operations and the other with abstract concepts and the training program is said to exercise both sides simultaneously and strengthen brain function in the following areas:
Ø  Fosters the child’s confidence in arithmetical calculation
Ø  Develops mental ability in all forms of calculation
Ø  Enhances self-satisfaction of achievement as one’s proficiency improves
Ø  Enhances left and right brain coordination and ability
Ø  Enhances hidden mental capabilities
Ø  Promotes intuitive thinking abilities
Ø  Enhances problem solving capabilities
Ø  Enhances creativity and thinking skills
Ø  Enhances retention and recall of both short and long term memory
Ø  Enhances psychomotor skills
Ø  Enhances sensory stimulation by increasing brain neuron inter-connectivity.
Ø  Improves concentration spans and mental endurance.
Ø  Energizes the body and mind.
Ø  Helps release mental blocks and emotional stress.
Great many advantages!
In contests held between users of Abacus and Electronic Calculators the Abacus users were much faster than the Calculator users in the case of additions and subtractions and a little slower in the case of multiplication and division. And when it came to mental calculations Abacus students were much faster than an Electronic Calculator! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Today is NCC Day: Me and NCC.

Today is National Cadets Corps (NCC) Establishment Day, the 63rd one. Every year NCC Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of November. While in School I was in NCC for four years, two years with the Air Wing and two years with the Naval Wing. And my brother was in NCC – Army Wing for five years, at School and then at College that is in Junior and Senior Divisions. It is just not my brother and me but several friends of us were in NCC and NCC was active at every School in those days, in the Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Today the scenario is different, I hardly see students joining NCC. There might be several reasons for it, but I feel students are missing all that they could have learnt in NCC, not just the Motto of NCC “Unity and Discipline (Ekta Aur Anushasan)” but much more. We learnt Parade, we learnt to maintain our uniforms in top condition, we learnt about armed forces, their ranks, arms, about Air Force Aircrafts, Naval Ships, we learnt firing, we learnt rowing, and we attended annual NCC Camps and experienced the life there, we learnt to respect our Armed Forces and our Country. All this, by attending classes two evenings a week, with refreshments at the end of every class!
You can see pictures of the NCC Certificates I have earned in the Air Wing and Naval Wing at the top of this article.
I have a feeling that in present times many people do not know about NCC or have forgotten about it. And today the media instead of reporting on NCC Day and the importance of NCC prefers to propagate cheap news. Under these circumstances I thought I should write a little about NCC. NCC – National Cadet Corps is the Indian Military Cadet Corps. It was raised on 15th July 1948. It is open to School and College students on voluntary basis. Cadets are disciplined to obey orders cheerfully, to be punctual, to work hard without fuss and to make no excuses or tell lies.  
The Aim of NCC is to develop qualities of character, courage, comradeship, discipline, leadership, secular outlook, spirit of adventure and sportsmanship and the ideas of selfless service.
I am proud of being a NCC Cadet for four years and having learnt a lot.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A delicious “Nashta” from the Irani Restaurants of Hyderabad – Kheema Roti!

My last two articles were on some popular snacks from Irani Cafés in Hyderabad; those were about Osmania biscuits, Salt biscuits, Tie biscuits, Lukhmi and Irani Samosas. There are many more Irani Café exclusive snacks like Roat biscuit, Nankhatai, Dilkush, Cream Cones, a variety of Cup Cakes called Round Cakes, Cheese Cakes, a variety of Veg. and Non.Vegetarian Puffs and a large variety of other biscuits like Tutti Frutti, Cashew, Walnut and so on. I thought I should write on these snacks but then I suddenly remembered my favorite breakfast “Kheema Roti” and decided to write about it first.
Most Irani Cafés in Hyderabad have Restaurants attached to them. A large variety of typical Hyderabadi Non.Vegetarian items like Mutton Biryani, Chicken Biryani, Tandoor Roti, Rumali Roti, Naans and a large variety of Non.Vegetarian Kababs, Tandoori Chicken and Curries are available for Lunch and Dinner. And in the mornings starting from dawn; Kheema Roti is available for breakfast.
Kheema Curry is a very rich and delicious minced-lamb meat curry. And the Roti is a typical Hyderabadi Tandoor Roti. This Kheema Curry is prepared in a typical Hyderabadi style using Ginger-Garlic paste, Onions, Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Bay leaf, Green Chillies, Chilly powder, a pinch of Turmeric & Salt, and garnished with Cashew nuts, boiled Egg, Carrot and Coriander leaves. The above photographs are of Kheema Roti. This sumptuous Kheema Roti is very popular in the Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Every morning, at every Irani Café serving Non.Vegetarian food, you will find a mad rush for this delicacy, to have it there or to carry it home.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Popular snacks from Hyderabad’s Irani Cafés – Lukhmi and Samosa.

The Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, specially the main and old areas have Irani Cafés and Restaurants at every Crossroad and on every Street. The most popular item available and sold in thousands at every Irani Café is Irani Chai that is Irani Tea. It is available from well before sunrise to midnight. I wrote about the popularity of Irani Chai earlier, which you may read by clicking on the following link:
Along with Tea; a number of snacks are available at these Cafés. ‘Tea Biscuits’ like Osmania biscuits, Tie biscuits and Salt biscuits are available at all times. Starting from dawn to about 8:30AM Lukhmi is available. Lukhmi; as available at all Irani Cafés is a thick and huge triangular, flat Bhatura / Puri  sort of a soft snack made from Maida (Refined flour), with a very little stuffing of potato curry. Lukhmi’s irregular three sides measure from 7 to 9 inches! You can get an idea of Lukhmi’s large size by comparing it with the size of the tiny Samosa, in the above pictures.
After 8:30 AM, Irani Samosas also known as Tikki Samosas are available at all these Cafés. These Samosas are made by some private persons as a cottage enterprise at some central locations and supplied to Irani Cafés. The Samosa wrapping is with Atta (Wheat flour) and Maida (Refined flour). The stuffing is of Onion, cooked with Coriander leaves, Green Chillies, Chilly powder, Chaat masala, Cumin powder and Beaten rice (Poha). Samosas are available at these Cafés till evening; or until stocks last.
For Hyderabadis away from home and missing Irani Samosas, and those who cannot come down to Hyderabad to taste this favorite snack of Hyderabad; here is the ‘Video recipe’ from my favorite Chef, Sanjay Thumma:

Popular snacks from Hyderabad’s Irani Cafés – Osmania, Salt & Tie Biscuits.

The Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, specially the main and old areas have Irani Cafés and Restaurants at every Crossroad and on every Street. The most popular item available and sold in thousands at every Irani Café is Irani Chai that is Irani Tea. It is available from well before sunrise to midnight. I wrote about the popularity of Irani Chai earlier, which you may read by clicking on the following link:
Along with Tea; a number of snacks are available at these Cafés. While some snacks are available during specific times of the day, biscuits are available at all times. The most popular among these ‘Tea Biscuits’ are Osmania biscuits, Tie biscuits and Salt biscuits. You may identify these biscuits from the above pictures. They are all soft and crispy. People enjoy dipping these biscuits in Irani Chai and eat.
Osmania biscuit is named after the last ruler of the ‘Princely State of Hyderabad and Berar’ (from 1911 to 1948), H.E.H. The Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan. It is named after him as he loved these biscuits! Surely it is food befitting royalty!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Greet Brihaspati and “Make-A-Wish”, it shall be fulfilled!

Today on the auspicious day of Karthika Pournami we were able to see the most beneficial planet Jupiter that is Brihaspati, bright and beautiful. We enjoyed watching the Full Moon and Jupiter from atop the hillock at Keesara the abode of Lord Sri Ramalingeshwara Swamy, a very important place of pilgrimage and also from our house. The above photographs are of these sightings. The photos convey very little of the dazzling views we have witnessed.
It is very strongly believed that when you sight Brihaspati / Jupiter and make a wish; it would be fulfilled! According to Hindu mythology, Brihaspati is the teacher of Gods. Hence in Vedic astrology, Brihaspati is referred as Devaguru or Guru. Thursday is named after Brihaspati the Guru as Guruvar or Guruvaramu. In astrological predictions Brihaspati is a good indicator of fortune, wealth, luck, fame, wisdom, devotion, compassion, spirituality and morality. When one is passing through a bad phase in life several remedies are suggested for pleasing Brihaspati and other planets to bring about good times. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today is the holy day of “Karthika Pournami”.

Today is the holy day of Karthika Pournami. Karthika Masam is the name of the current Lunar month and today is Pournami that is Full Moon Day and hence the day is called Karthika Pournami. Today is also called as Karthika Punnami and Karthika Poornima / Purnima. It is a holy celebration to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. It is the day on which Lord Shiva killed Tripurasura a demon king and protected the world. With boons from Lord Ganesha, Tripurasura became indestructible, grew into an evil force and defeated all the kings of Earth and the Gods in Heaven. According to Lord Ganesha’s boon, Tripurasura could be killed only by Lord Shiva. After witnessing the evil deeds and destruction unleashed by Triupurasura, Lord Ganesha approached Tripurasura in the guise of a Brahmin with a plan to eliminate him.  The Brahmin displayed 64 arts to the demon king, and pleased with the Brahmin; Tripurasura offered to grant him any wish he made. The Brahmin asked for the Idol of Chinthamani which is with Lord Shiva. As Lord Shiva refused to part with the Idol, a war took place between Lord Shiva and Tripurasura. The Chariot that Lord Shiva rode in this war is described as Prithvi (Earth) with the Sun and Moon as its wheels and the bow as Meru (the huge mountain) and Lord Vishnu as the arrow. This single arrow from Lord Shiva destroyed all the materialistic boons that Lord Ganesha had offered to Tripurasura in the form of palaces and vimanams (planes). The speed and force of the arrow caused heavy lightening which made Tripurasura faint and ultimately brought about his end.
People in very large numbers bathe in the holy rivers of the country today. They visit Temples and offer prayers. ‘Abhishekam’ is performed to Lord Shiva. As such, Karthika Masam that is the entire month of Karthikam is considered very auspicious. During this entire month and specially today oil lamps are lit at Temples, at holy rivers and houses with hundreds of wicks, sometimes thousands of wicks (‘Karthika Deepa-aradhana’) and in modern days 365 wicks to represent the days of the year. Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi along with all the Gods are said to visit and reside under Amla that is Usiri or Gooseberry trees by the side of Tulisi plants that is Basil plants, in this month. Hence a lot of prominence is given to these plants, prayers are offered to the plants on this day and in this month, and picnics are organized outdoors, preferably under Amla trees. These rituals are called Vana Mahotsavam or Vanabhojanalu. All these actions are considered very beneficial, they are said to liberate us from all sins and bless us with good health, wealth, prosperity, success, longevity and fulfillment of all wishes.
The above photographs are of Karthika Pournami festivities at Sri Ramalingeshwara Swamy Temple, at Keesara Gutta (Keesara hillock), Keesara Village, 30 Kms. from our house in Secunderabad.
You may click on the following links to read articles I wrote earlier on Karthika Masam:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Are people fed up with too much Cricket!? The Cricket crazy crowds are missing!

Are people fed up with too much Cricket!?  The Cricket crazy crowds are missing! It certainly seems so! Yesterday the Delhi Cricket fans stayed away from the first day of the First Test Match between West Indies and India at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium - despite it being a Sunday and tremendous hype created by the media over Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th International century, which has been evading him for months. Only 8,058 people turned up at the 40,000 capacity Stadium! People seem to be losing, ball by ball interest in the game, they just want to know the scores at the end of the day or the final result!
Since long; this situation was seen at most of the international venues but off late it has become common in India. For example, in the recently concluded World Cup Matches, especially those played on 15th, 18th and 20th March 2011, at Calcutta, at the world famous Eden Gardens Stadium having a capacity of 90,000! The turnout was very poor. For the Match played on 20th March, only 15 spectators bought tickets! At the 90,000 capacity Stadium!
Too much Cricket and too often encounters between same countries, frequently and sometimes month after month in the form of Test Matches, County Matches, Limited over Matches and 20Twetny Matches is rather confusing and cumbersome to follow, with some tournaments being played between 8 or 10 Teams, may be 60 Matches over two months to determine the Winner! Added to this, any given time of the day you will find at least three TV sports channels telecasting Cricket Matches from the past or current with unending Cricket analysis, quoting of Match records, Player records, Country records and  unnecessary ball by ball commentaries for TV viewers! Too much Cricket is certainly a waste of time; it is proving to be bad for spectators. More and more people seem to be realizing this fact and losing interest in the game. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

False and biased media, shame on you, we don’t need you.


The electronic and print media in our State is almost entirely owned by anti-Telangana groups, they report against the ongoing struggle and the justified demand for a separate State. The truths, the misrule, the injustices, the broken agreements and promises are not reported. Their approach is always false and negative, supported by interviews and debates with buffoons.  For example yesterday’s news that you can read only in standard and honest Newspapers is not reported by any of these anti-Telangana media. You may click on the clippings below to read the news from an ideal Newspaper. As the agitation is getting prolonged, it is getting stronger but the dishonest media is trying its level best to falsify every aspect of the agitation. But how long can this media or the opportunistic politicians undermine and postpone the truthful, long-pending and promised demand.
Our country’s motto ‘Satyameva Jayate’ (‘Truth Alone Triumphs’) will ultimately prevail and the State of Telangana will be formed with its Ten Districts and Hyderabad as its Capital, in spite of all these villains and their wicked moves. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The saddest day in the history of Telangana – 1st November 1956, gets sadder every year.

Today, as in the past many years, “The Andhra Pradesh Formation Day” will be observed as “Betrayal Day” in entire Telangana region. Black flags will be hoisted at every place, especially at places where the national flag is normally hoisted.  There will be protest rallies and meetings demanding separate statehood for Telangana. Ministers, MLAs and political party members belonging to Telangana have decided to boycott all celebrations and events pertaining to State formation day. Sri Konda Laxman Bapuji, freedom fighter and one fighting for Separate Telangana State for over four decades and who is 96 years old now will be going on a 7-day fast from today morning at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, demanding Telangana State. Former State Minister and Congress MLA Sri Komatireddy Venkat Reddy will commence his indefinite hunger strike at Nalgonda today, demanding the Government to announce and speed up the process of formation of Telangana State.
Andhra and Telangana were merged on 1st November 1956, against the recommendations of the ‘First States Reorganization Commission’ (First SRC) popularly known as ‘Fazal Ali Commission’ and thereafter all agreements made from time to time and corrective actions to safeguard job opportunities and development in Telangana have been diluted. The list of injustices in every aspect of governance is enormous. Protests against these injustices have been made by the people from the very beginning but unfortunately due to selfish politicians from Telangana who turned a blind eye to the local problems to safeguard their personal interests and priorities, the problems of Telangana and the frustration of the people simply grew. The yearlong separate Telangana agitation in 1969 was violent, over 360 agitators were shot dead and the agitation was suppressed politically by luring politicians and with a fresh agreement which was never implemented.
The demand for separate State continued and starting from 2004 every major political party in the State and Center started promising Telangana State during elections and forgot the Telangana issue immediately after winning the elections or gave excuse after excuse for delaying or not fulfilling the promise. This trend continued in the 2009 general elections too, just for the cause of winning elections and coming to power to fulfill their personal agendas. And on 9th December 2009, when the Central Government announced that the process for formation of ‘Telangana State’ has commenced, there were protests by some politicians who all along fooled the Telangana electorate that they have no objection to the formation of Telangana and that they would abide by the decision of the Central Government. With these protests the Central Government buckled and since two years it is saying that it is carrying out discussions to find a permanent solution, narrow discussions, wider discussions, consensus discussions, all party discussions, sub-core committee discussions, core committee discussions, discussions after elections, discussions after results, discussions in the new year, discussions after Ramzan, discussions after Dasara, Discussions after Diwali and now discussions after Bakrid festival. I do not know when these discussions would end and in the meantime over 600 frustrated aspirants of Telangana have unfortunately ended their lives.
The agitation in Telangana is continuing in spite of several tricks and moves to suppress it. I wish it continues until these shameless deceivers bow down to fulfill their promise of a separate Telangana State, exactly as the people are demanding it.
P.S. Dated-2nd November: You may read about the intensity of the Betrayal Day/Black Day agitation in Telangana yesterday, 1st Nov. - I am producing below today’s newspaper clippings; if you read them carefully you will understand the intensity of the agitation. I hope the irresponsible and the deceiving politicians busy with their profiteering activities would take time to read newspapers to understand the ground situation in Telangana.

Welcome Party, Birthday Party and Happy First Ever Meeting of Cousins!

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