Saturday, 8 August 2020

My tropical apple tree


                                    When I was a toddler, I dreamt of having an apple tree in courtyard of my home. Every morning or whenever I’m hungry, I would climb on it, pluck one or two and eat it then and there. Many times I wondered why my parents are interested in paddy, plantain, tapioca etc and not in apple cultivation. In those days we could purchase apple when go to town which was quite infrequent, and for any special purpose. All the life requirements are met in the village itself.

                                               In those days Soviet Union, and Soviet land magazines from the erstwhile Soviet Union, circulated across the world until the disintegration of the USSR. Those were subscribed at home. India was the mighty Soviet Union’s best friend. Russian magazines and books had some bearing on the reading habits of Indians a great deal, especially in Kerala. These magazines seldom talked about politics but rather focused on life and culture. The colorful photos of apple farms in Soviet Union along with apple coloured girls attracted me those days.

                            When I realized that no apple tree can be grown in the part of my country where I lived,  because  of no  cold and wet climate,   no  cold winter followed by cool spring and summer, I thought of planting another tree  ie guava, whose fruit is packed with vitamin C, and is prized for its delicious flavor. This tropical wonder produces nearly four times the vitamin C of oranges, in fact! The leaves are used medicinally and are aromatic when crushed. And the tree’s bark is fascinating, too.


Now, every morning I can have one ripe guava fruit and after lunch also I take a few. My long cherished dream of having an apple tree in courtyard have come true with a slight change due to tropical climatic condition prevailing in my locality, a Guava tree –The tropical apple tree.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Steet dogs and Covid-19

                                         The worst affected animals due to Covod-19 pandemic are strret dogs .As hotels and shops closed due to locked down in Thiruvananthapuram,their only source of food stopped and the pandemic hit hard on them.In my locale,I could see a a number of street dogs,sleeping infront of hotel expecting it to be opened at any time.Many have gone to skelton type due to starvation.Once in a while,the passers offer them some food even that too is stopped due to triple lockdown,The life of  these animals have moved from frying pan to fire.

                                                  Though the local self Govt in Kerala has a plan to feed stray monkeys and dogs, the effort are seen insufficient as evident from the dogs as many have  become bony only.When I proceed for evening walk,I carry food for 1-2 dogs with water also.By the time I finish my walk,I could see the pakets completely fonished or cleaed and nothing is left.Though they keep a distance to me while offering food, all identify me as they come together on seeing me at a far distance.Yesterday, a street dog come to home in search of me and I found her accidently when I opened the gate,waiting for a long time for food.I fed her and later proceeded for my walk which she followd me till her 'boundary' and waited there till I returned back,Again I gave her some food.It has some small wounds on leg and nose which I think will heal once proper food is taken.Now ,I' ve to invariably carry rice,cream bread,cake and water when I proceed for walk as many are waiting for my presence

Friday, 9 August 2019

From Little boy to Fat man

               On August 6, 1945, the Enola gay bomber flew above Hiroshima and dropped Little boy, a Uranium- 235 bomb. The pilot Paul Warfield Tibbets  pressed the button just 1900 feet above the ground, and  Enola gay  turned out to be the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb.
                      Little Boy was ready for delivery by July 31. On August 2, Hiroshima was specified as the primary target, with Kokura and Nagasaki as alternates. The raid was set for August 6. Kyoto was also in the list but spared as one of US leaders spent honeymoon there!
It was 8.15AM
                         Little boy has 3-metre length and 4400 kg in weight. It took away the lives of more than one lakh people around 13Kms and turned the area to ash. The city, boiled at 2500 degree Centigrade. The half-burnt people rushed in panic and crawled as the city turned to a graveyard.46% people died due to heavy radiation. The bomber turned to a 180° and ran away as fast as it could. The crew could see a bright flash. Shortly after that, the first shock wave hit the plane. It returned to Tinian Island, the base station.
 Three days  later, US again dropped, this time, Fatman  in Nagasaki, the other town in Japan. Boxcar, sometimes called Bock's Car, the United States Army Air Forces B-29 bomber dropped  Fat Man, nuclear weapon over the Japanese city of Nagasaki 

Why Hiroshima?
                          Hiroshima was selected as the main target since it had remained largely intact by bombing raids, and the bomb's special effects could be clearly calculated. It was believed that bombing an urban area might break the fighting will of the Japanese people. Hiroshima was a major port and a military headquarters, and therefore a strategic target. Also, visual bombing, rather than radar, would be used so that photographs of the damage could be taken! Since Hiroshima had not been seriously harmed by bombing raids till then, these photographs could present a quite apparent depiction of the bomb's damage.
Sadako Sasaki affected radiation at the age of two. She was two kilometres away from where the bomb exploded. Most of Sadako's neighbours died, but Sadako wasn't injured at all. But later developed acute leukaemia after being exposed to radiation during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. There was a belief that making of 1000 paper cranes would get her wishes. In the hospital bed, she could complete 644 only, balance completed by her friends and buried all with her.
                                I had a chance to visit Hiroshima. From my station in Nagoya, it was a long journey passing through Tokyo, by bullet train. Though public transport is excellent service in Japan, it’s also expensive. When I expressed my wish to visit Hiroshima, my host was insensitive and surprised to know that she has never been in there, nor aware of the cause that led to this tragedy. So is the case of many youngsters there. I think Japan has nothing against the other countries they battled in the war and they just want a world of peace.

                          After, Hiroshima-Nagasaki, nuclear weapons are not used for war. However, there are bombs much stronger than Little boy and Fatman with many countries.
Today is August 9
The Nagasaki day

Saturday, 27 July 2019


Acts of unkindness to flora and fauna are not a mere sign of a minor behaviour defect in the abuser; they are indicative of a profound mental illness. Research in criminology shows that the public who commit acts of cruelty to animals don’t stop there—many of them move on to their fellow humans. Murderers very often begin the trial by killing and torturing animals.
Violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused animals as children than criminals who are considered non-aggressive. A survey of psychiatric patients who had tortured dogs found that all of them had high levels of hostility toward the public as well. It is believed that 100% of sexual homicide, offenders had a history of animal cruelty and a variety of serial killers and rapists.
A stray dog is best suitable for the climatic conditions of the place where you live which means they seldom fall sick. They don't require any medical expenses and grooming like brushing, shampooing or special dog food and tonics that a pedigree dog will need. A Street dog is just as much loyal, playful, caring, loving, and just as protective as any other rare breed. They will die protecting your family and will never hurt anyone in your house. For a colony stray dog, that colony is its family.
                      SUNDARAN [Mr. Handsome] and SUNDARI [Ms. Pretty] are the two lovable street dogs in P. SColony at Sabarigiri Hydroelectric Project,Moozhiyar, India, a project conceived by Allis Chalmers  - A Canadian Company- way back in the 1960s. Sundaran and Sundari are two ‘inmates’ of the colony with all residents as their family members. They used to roam everywhere in the colony which adjoins with thick forest inhabiting wild animals and venomous snakes. Occasionally, these wild animals and snakes enter the colony, creating panic among residents. Sundaran and Sundari bark at them with all might and alert their masters about the unauthorized entry. They join us when proceeding on a morning walk and rush on seeing us from far distance. They were omnipresent. They don’t mind coming to quarters for having food and always sleep at the centre of colony road and politely move to the side when a vehicle comes.
             Both Sundaran and Sundari died last week. It is believed that some anti-social elements, who do not like the free will that both Sundaran and Sundari enjoy, might have poisoned them. They had no malice towards anybody, even to their killers.RIP 

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Credit card-A great development of forgetfulness.

Credit cards are everywhere. Almost 70% transaction in Japan is through Credit cards. With the Olympics in the offing, the usage of ‘plastic money’ is getting more popular. The word credit comes from Latin, meaning “trust”. When you sell something to another person, but give them time to pay, you trust them to pay you back.  How did the idea of the first credit card start? Which was the first credit card? How credit cards have evolved? When was the first credit card introduced in India? The modern credit cards we all know grew in popularity in the 1950s, when banks started issuing them, but the concept of creating a physical object whose holder should be extended credit goes back well into the 19th century. The most common pre-plastic credit instruments were ‘charge plates’, celluloid “coins” and ‘charge coins’.

‘Charge plates’, often called ‘Charga-Plates’, are the predecessors to credit cards. Used until the early ’60s, charge plates are made of aluminium or white metal plates. They are about the size of a dog tag and are embossed with the customer’s name and address. Charga-plates were issued mostly by department stores, but also by a few oil companies and store associations. They were sometimes kept in the stores and retrieved by the clerk when an authorized user made a purchase. Between 300 and 500 different ones are estimated to exist.
‘Charge coins’ are believed to have been first issued around 1865. At first, they were made of celluloid, which is an early form of plastic. Later ones were made of copper, aluminium, steel or white metal, which is when they became known as charge coins. They came in various shapes and not all were round; some were triangular and others had unique shapes. These credit pieces were also mainly issued by department stores, and usually displayed the customer’s identification number and an image connected with the merchant.
      John Biggins introduced a card that allowed customers to charge purchases from local merchants in his neighbourhood. Customers had to have an account at Biggins' the bank where the charge was forwarded. His bank covered the cost and then got payment from the customer. Customers had to have an account at Biggins' bank where the charge was forwarded. His bank covered the cost and then got payment from the customer. This is a major development in the history of the credit card
Frank McNamara created a Diners' Club card — a small piece of cardboard used to charge entertainment and travel expenses — after forgetting his wallet at a business lunch. This was the first credit card in widespread use. ‘He wines and dines without ever spending cash’ This  was the advertisement of Diners Club in 1960s.Plastic was used to make an American Express charge card, which required payments in full at the end of the month. PVC plastic soon replaced the cardboard or thin, paper-like celluloid used in its contemporaries.
1976As Bank America card expanded to other countries, it adopted the name Visa to reflect its reach. 981American Airlines was the first to roll out a rewards program for frequent flyers. The credit card market in India started out in 1981 when Visa issued the card. Andhra Bank was the pioneer of credit cards in India. The EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) chip was developed and launched in Europe, providing more security. Now the technology has caught on in the World. Today, Card issuers continue to work tirelessly to increase security and protect holders’ personal information. 
The Interbank Card Association worked with banks in Mexico, Europe and Japan. To reflect the global banks involved, the association changed its name to MasterCard. Driven by the prevalence of credit card fraud in the '60s, IBM rolled out the magnetic stripe in a pilot project with American Airlines and American Express. The magnetic stripe, which stored the credit card's data, was unveiled at O'Hare Airport in Chicago

Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Gopher tree

                     "Gopher trees" can be seen in Gavi, Kerala, India and believed to be the only such trees in India. The tree, which is identified as gopher, is known as nirampalli. Gopher wood or gopher wood is a term used once in the Bible for the substance from which Noah's
ark was built. Genesis 6:14 states that Noah was to build the Ark of gofer.
Gopher is the Hebrew word translated “cypress wood”. This is an unknown type of material, although it undoubtedly refers to some sort of coniferous tree thought to possess great strength and durability. Cypress was often used by shipbuilders in the ancient Near East. Similarly, the cedars of Lebanon were prized by the Egyptians for the construction of their barques for transport on the Nile, for instance in the eleventh century B.C
Many modern scholars consider “gopher wood” to be cypress because cypress wood is extremely durable. Modern English versions of the Bible, such as the New International Version, the New Living Translation, and the New English Translation translate it as “cypress wood.” The Smith Bible Dictionary defines gopher as “any trees of the resinous kind, such as pine, fir, or cypress.”
Gopher wood", far stronger than anything we have today. The strength of seasoned timber is related to density. A dense timber simply has more stuff in it, cellulose, lignin etc, built into heavier-walled cells.
There is a Gopher tree near to my workplace in Gavi, Pathanamthitta, Kerala

Friday, 15 February 2019

E-Rickshaw and Power Theft in Delhi

                          It is pitch dark outside.Chotu is riding e-rickshaw through the heart of the city. His destination is clear, though it may differ from that of the previous day’s has been operating this vehicle for a couple of years. As Chotu could not afford the pleasure of having a new one, he hired a repaired one offered to him by a Babu, residing near to his colony. Babu’s men are punctual in collecting daily amount fixed as hiring charge, irrespective of his trips. On lean days, he finds it difficult to meet two end of life after paying hire charges, sundry expenses during his 10-12 hrs of riding etc.His mother is living separately in another thatched attic and Chotu’s income is the lone source of her income also. How he manages to pull on is a wonder to many.
                      He has now reached the destination and slowly removed the almost drained battery and moved to the other side of the park. The street lights are burning as if causing hindrance to his work. He proceeded further to the corner of park, near to a big banyan tree. There appeared a tall man from dark covering his face, exchanged batteries and the cash for charging also. Returned to the e-rickshaw,Chotu  is now moving to the opposite  direction aiming his colony to garage the vehicle.
                                          This is a common scene in Delhi after introducing e-rickshaw. There are more than 125000 e rickshaws operating in the capital city of India but licensed one are just one fifth of it. The charging facility is not adequate to cater the need of all e rickshaws, which needs 7-10 units per day per e rickshaw. How majority of others manages to function? The answer is Power Theft. There are thousands of Chotus in Delhi making the situation alarming. Power theft  is alarmingly high in Delhi.the cost of stolen Power is routinely passed to genuine electricity consumers who pay charges alarmly.Government and Discom should move in tandem to cub this social evil failing which the Discoms will be marching towards bankruptcy.

My tropical apple tree

                                      When I was a toddler, I dreamt of having an apple tree in courtyard of my home. Every morning or whene...