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EXPLORING INDIA : From Kaziranga to the Himalayas to the desert of Jaisalmer to the backwaters of Allepey to the sun baked coral beaches of Lakshadweep....A first hand account of exploring this beautiful country.



Thursday, July 27, 2006

27 August, 2006 - Two moons will be visible!

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An interesting mail had arrived in my offical inbox this morning from a colleague which I will like to share with you all. The text of the mail is reproduced below:
===========
Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting August. It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will ultimate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles of Earth. Be sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am . It will look like The Earth has 2 Moons. Don't Miss it.

The next time Mars may come like this close only in 2287. Share this with your friends as NO ONE ALIVE TODAY will ever see it again.

==========

I could not confirm the veracity of this claim. All that I could ascertain was the fact that Mars will be closest to Earth on 27th and it will be visible all through the night. But contrary to the claim of the mail I had read in one site that for the month of August 2006, Mars is setting in the north-west less than an hour after sunset; we are very unlikely to see the “Red Planet” this month, or indeed for the rest of this year.

Have you heard anything on this or want to offer any coment on this.

Follow up : IT IS NOW CONFIRMED TO BE A HOAX. THANKS FOR ALL THE COMMENTS.

posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 6:02 PM | 3 comments

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bloggers meet at Guwahati on 4th August, 2006

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A bloggers meet is being organised at Guwahati, Assam on 4th August, 2006. All fellow bloggers who will be in and around Guwahati can avail this opportunity to meet new peoiple and make friends. I have received the invitation as I was a chance attendee in the last meet on 11th June, 2006. But this time I will not be able to make it. Let this information be flowed to all you know who will be around Guwahati in the coming week. This they proposes a bigger meet, probably with a self sponsored dinner. My best wishes for the event.
One can confirm his participation by mailing to sivasankar.iitg@gmail.com .

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Killer reality show for children!

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Around two weeks back one of the TV news channel was carrying a report on a suicide. What was shocking that this suicide was committed by a very young girl who Class VIII student of India International School at Jaipur (or may be Jodhpur, I could not recollect). She had hanged herself from the ceiling fan of her room. Everyone was debating as to how such a young girl could, who was may be around 13, think of taking her life. The family claims that she was under lot of stress and depression because of her school and study. Did she really crack under stress?

Came on the heel of this news was a reality show for children named ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs’ by Zee TV. It is a singing competition ostensibly to find the child singing sensation. Commercial success of such other shows involving grown ups is the actual reason behind this rather than finding a genius. We have all seen how grown ups cracked in these shows. So will the kids be able to cope with the stress? The sense of losing can be devastating for the kid and may ruin their confidence for life. This is commercial exploitation of the children and parents are also no less responsible. It was no surprise to when one channel showed this morning when 2 sisters tried to commit suicide at Mumbai following their failure to make it to the show.

I remember watching a talent search show in ESPN sometime back where one top clubs of Brazil was picking potential Ronaldos and Ronaldinhos. The idea is to catch them young. Before the results were declared they conducted some de-stressing session for the aspirants. The clubs had identified the problem that the sense of failure can devastate these young minds and they can take to drugs even at that early stage. It was a very humane approach to deal with the young minds. Well, this was reality. Unfortunately what we have in India is a reality show where most important component is commercialization. This is a country where people jump from cinema hall balconies after watching the Indian version of superman. Will some pragmatic mind come up together to stop such exploitation of children.

posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 3:59 PM | 0 comments

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Price we pay for devotion

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I had the misfortune of driving on the NH-24 and NH-2 this weekend. There were traffic jams everywhere caused by the movements of the Kanwariyas. The NH-58 had been closed for vehicular traffic between Delhi and Haridwar for the last few days to facilitate movements of Kanwars. However, on arriving the outskirts of Delhi, they spread out in all directions and so police loses control on them. Out on the busy streets of Delhi, some of them palys havoc to motorists. One reason cited is the lack of political will to regulate the movement of Kanwars within Delhi as this may hit religious sentiments. The result is that Delhites, got trapped in unexpected traffic snarls at many places, specially on the National Highways. Many motorists like me left cooling ourselves in the car ACs burning subsidised petrol. With oil over $75 a barrel, imagine the massive wastage of fuels on those traffic snarls which could have been avoided.

I understood that this Saturday was the last day of this years Kanawariyan season. While the scene of some kanwars with swollen and bandaged foot, yet walking, although gingerly, was heart rendering and one can not stop appreciating their devotion. These are the people who have walked more than 300 kms carrying sacred water of the river Ganga on their shoulders. They have traveled all the way from Haridwar and Rishikesh. The water will be finally offered to Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Somvati Amavasya, falling on this Monday. It appeared to me that kanwars believes that putting more pain on the body may earn them a place in higher echelon in heaven.

Most of the kanwars we met were walking gingerly by road side. Probably dead tired by now, they hardly posed any problem to others sharing the road. Occasionally we met some who seemed to have very little to do with devotion and faith. These are joy seekers for whom religion is just a cover. They bring shame to the religion and faith. Unfortunately, these hoodlums outnumbers genuine devotees and their size is growing by years. They travel in groups and often with vehicles like mini trucks. Loudspeakers on their vehicles were blaring hindi parodies listening to which God really must have gone crazy. Possibilities of them being drunk can not be ruled as being in ecstasy is often associated with Lord Shiva. Their slow moving vehicles are the main culprit for traffic jams. They believe that they had the first right on the busy highways. This year some of them have got indulged in rioting and violence. Few police vehicles were set on fire at Palwal near Faridabad on the NH-2 on last Thursday after some kanawar was hit by a vehicle. Then there was another incident on the Delhi-Jaipur highway following which kanwars jammed the busy highway for hours. Then another incident was reported where such a group hooligan kanwars was brandishing hockey sticks and was hitting any vehicles that tried to overtake them at the busy Dhaula Kuan crossing. This group of kanwars is menace to the society, but no one dare control them. Most of them are young Haryanites, who had bought most of the bad names to Delhi. (But the situation in Bihar is also no better either – the kanwars their will get into your train, including AC compartments)

Fortunately, this year’s kanwariyan season has been over. Hopefully, the Delhi administration will take some concrete steps next year so that such massive loss of fuel and manhours in traffic jams can be avoided.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

How can you access your blog from India

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You can still access your favourite blogs from India. This is how you can get ahead of those mentally bankrupt beaurucrats who has blocked access to blogs.
Go to http://tools.superhit.in and start browsing your favourite blogs from there.
Thanks to this tool, I could open my blog in blogspot.com after 2 days. I have no idea about other domains. Please pass on the message to your friends.

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posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 1:06 PM | 0 comments

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blogspot.com is banned in India!

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Surprised!. I was to when I came to read about it on the Times of India this morning. I have not been able to able to access my blog yesterday and I thought that it may be because of any schedule maintanence, etc. But the cat is out today.
Post Mumbai blast government had issued instructions to block certain blogs. It is understood that list contained about 17 sites. But the end result is that instead of particular blogs whole domains have been blocked. One of the victim is Blogspot.com where may be thousands of Indians like me have their dear blogs. Is it a bearucratic oversight or mental bankruptcy is yet to be known. Some one posted a comment saying that sometimes it becomes necessary to block the whole domain to block some sites. But what is not thought of is that there are many sites that offers free blogs like rediff, CNN, etc. If the government aims to gag blogging they will have to block this site as well. Indian bloggers have been pushed into a China like environment where government decides what you access on the net. The irony is that I can access www.blogger.com to post my articles, but cannot read them in my blog!
The blogosphere and the net is abuzz with protest. We all wish sanity is restored soon and I will be able to see my blog myself.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Update from Delhi

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What is hot today in Delhi
Since morning it had rained really hard, though it had subsided after around 11am. East and South Delhi had received very heavy rainfall while Central Delhi had heavy rainfall. I have no idea about West Delhi where it might not have rained at all. Most of the roads were waterlogged, with the abominable smell of sewer and traffic was slow. The downpour was hardest around 9, the peak office-hour. God save those who had to brave the weather and the stench of sewer water and fathom those knee deep waters that were everywhere till about noon. The places like ITO, which is so important from tourist point of view as this junction connects India Gate, Cannaught Place and Raj Ghat, was one of the worst hit and witnessed heavy water logging and traffic jam. So, guys as long till the rainy season are over, it is better to stay away from Delhi. Anyway, because of the heat this is not the tourist season for Delhi.

Akshardham Temple: Musical Fountain is closed for repair
I had a second visit to the temple complex, though out of compulsion. This visit being on a non-weekend day was much better as the crowd was very thin. The extra security put in place after the Mumbai blasts last week was that vehicles are checked at the entrance thoroughly. I still do not understood the wisdom behind the reason that one has to take off his belt and wrist watch and travel few feet holding them in a basket. I feel so stupid doing it. However to our utter disappointment we found that the musical fountain show for the evening had been cancelled ‘for today’. But it appeared that the ‘Cancelled for Today’ sign is old and is place from some earlier day. My feelings were proven true when we went to the place to have a look. Some repair work is going on which may last few more days. May be the show remained cancelled till the rains are over. Who would watch a musical fountain getting drenched in rain? So, if you are planning a visit and have the though of musical fountain show in mind, then think again.

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posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 10:43 PM | 1 comments

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Friday, July 07, 2006

On a buying spree

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I had been on a buying spree on the net in the last two months and had accumulated a good number of quality books on photography. Look what I have acquired –

1) The A-Z of Creative Photography: Over 70 Techniques Explained in Full by Lee Frost. (New)
Bought from www.firstandsecond.com for Rs.1238/-. This first buy from this Indian site happened to be the costliest. Inexperience! I could have got this book for Rs.800/-.

2) The Art of Outdoor Photography: Techniques for the Advanced Amateur and Professional by Boyd Norton. (Used)
Bought from www.thriftbooks.com for Rs.528/-.

3) The Photographer's Handbook by John Hedgecoe. (New)
Bought from www.thriftbooks.com for Rs.293/-.

4) John Hedgecoe's Complete Photography Course. (Used)
Bought from www.thriftbooks.com for Rs.284/-.

5) Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) by Bryan Peterson. (New)
Bought from www.alibris.com for Rs.900/-.

6) National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Secrets to Making Great Pictures by Peter Burian. (New)
Bought from www.abebooks.com for Rs.650/-.

7) The Pip Expanded Guide to the Canon Eos 300/rebel by Mathew Dennis. (New)
Bought from www.abebooks.com for Rs.835/-.

I am yet to finish the first book. I hope I will find some time to read all these.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Get paid to read emails!

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This is what was the subject of an email that came to me from somewhere. Out of curiosity I went to the site. There are so many promises. I was a bit sceptic as I do not believe in someone throwing you easy money. But this site ConsumersIndia.com is an Indian site. It is supposed to be operated from somewhere in Kerela. In fact I could find few more such sites afterwards. Can clicking on emails be really productive? The trick followed seems to be easy. They will send you url of some advertisements, like the ones of google adsense. If you click on the ad link, they get paid and a small fraction of this is credited to your account. It seems easy, but the catch is that it may take years for you to get paid. They may get paid in dollars, but you will be paid few rupees, say Rs.5/-. And who knows when the site may close shop! Your comments are welcome.

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posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 11:15 PM | 1 comments

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Monsoon and electricity: where are they?

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While Mumbai and some other places has been experiencing deluge, the clouds have simply vanished from the Delhi sky. There has been no respite from humidity though. To add matter worse, power situation has suddenly detoritated and even my locaility, which till now had been spared of the worst, had witnessed several powercuts over last two days. The Delhi govt. had tried selling tomatoes to bring down the cost, and is again proposing to sell Mung Dal at Rs.38/- per kilo in 70 places in Delhi. However despite scarcity, power is going to be dearer soon. The TOI today ran a news item on the proposed hike in power tariff by the Delhi Govt. It looks so simple in theory --- price is determined by demand and supply.
Will a hike will reduce demand? On my trip to the local mandi last evening, I was wondered as to how the market was glittering in halogen lamps. How the the vegetable vendors on both side, numbering roughly 50 or so, of the road has managed electricity? No wonder, it is free for them, courtsey the ingenious technique of drwaing power from the power line above using a hook. All these are happening right under the nose of BSES and police. As is with income tax, a hike in rate is going to hit hard only those who has no way to steal electricity and pays bills honestly. But who cares for them. For the lawmakers, it is the votebank which is more important than anything else. Whether there is monsoon or not, whether there is electricity or not, they always get opportunities to play politics.

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