The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Shiva Tandava Strotram


The Shiva Tandava Stotram describes Lord Shiva’s power and glory, and is supposed to have been created by Ravana.

Hindu mythology has it that Ravana, the King of Lanka, was a person gifted with immense intelligence. He, however, was obsessed with his powers and was highly egoistic. It is said that, to display and prove his indestructible powers, he demanded that Lord Shiva grant him Moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth), failing which he would move Mount Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. Just as he lifted the mountain, Lord Shiva pressed it back with his toe, crushing Ravana’s forearms. Mythology has it that Ravana was immediately humbled, and began singing the Shiva Tandava Stotram in praise of his God, Lord Shiva.

The Shiva Tandava Stotram is complex and has been rendered by many well-known musicians. After considerable search, I came across Shankar Mahadevan’s rendition that is masterly and extremely pleasing to the ear. You can hear it here. Shankar Mahadevan’s articulation of the individual words of each verse is wonderful.

What is especially beautiful is Ravana’s plaintive question about when he, a powerful and learned person, would be finally happy.

This, to all of us, is familiar, considering that we perennially and continuously seek happiness, blessings, joy and contentment.

The question? What do we do to attain that state of contentment and happiness?

Worth thinking about.

Here are the lyrics of the Shiv Tandav Strotram (From Wikipedia) in Devanagari, with the Roman transliteration and English translation.

The stotra is in the Panchachaamara Chhanda. It has 16 syllables per line of the quatrain, with Laghu (short syllable) and Guru (long syllable) characters alternating.

सार्थशिवताण्डवस्तोत्रम्
श्रीगणेशाय नमः

Devanagari
जटाटवीगलज्जलप्रवाहपावितस्थले
गलेऽवलम्ब्य लम्बितां भुजङ्गतुङ्गमालिकाम् |
डमड्डमड्डमड्डमन्निनादवड्डमर्वयं
चकार चण्डताण्डवं तनोतु नः शिवः शिवम् ||१||

Roman Transliteration
jaṭāṭavī-galajjala-pravāha-pāvita-sthale
gale ‘valambya lambitāṃ bhujaṅga-tuṅga-mālikām ।
ḍamaḍ ḍamaḍ ḍamaḍ ḍaman nināda-vaḍḍa-marvayaṃ
cakāra chaṇḍa-tāṇḍavaṃ tanotu naḥ śivaḥ śivam ॥ 1॥

With his neck, consecrated by the flow of water flowing from the thick forest-like locks of hair, and on the neck, where the lofty snake is hanging like a garland, and the Damaru drum making the sound of Damat Damat Damat Damat, Lord Śiva did the auspicious dance of Tandava and may He shower prosperity on us all.

Devanagari
जटाकटाहसम्भ्रमभ्रमन्निलिम्पनिर्झरी
विलोलवीचिवल्लरीविराजमानमूर्धनि |
धगद्धगद्धगज्ज्वलल्ललाटपट्टपावके
किशोरचन्द्रशेखरे रतिः प्रतिक्षणं मम ||२||

Roman Transliteration
jaṭā-kaṭā-hasambhrama-bhraman nilimpa-nirjharī
vilola-vīci-vallarī-virāja-māna-mūrdhani ।
dhagad dhagad dhagaj jvalal lalāṭa-paṭṭa-pāvake
kiśora-candraśekhare ratiḥ pratikṣaṇaṃ mama ॥ 2 ॥

I have a very deep interest in Lord Śiva, whose head is glorified by the rows of moving waves of the celestial river Gaṅgā, agitating in the deep well of his hair-locks, and who has the brilliant fire flaming on the surface of his forehead, and who has the crescent moon as a jewel on his head.

Devanagari
धराधरेन्द्रनंदिनीविलासबन्धुबन्धुर
स्फुरद्दिगन्तसन्ततिप्रमोदमानमानसे |
कृपाकटाक्षधोरणीनिरुद्धदुर्धरापदि
क्वचिद्दिगम्बरे(क्वचिच्चिदम्बरे) मनो विनोदमेतु वस्तुनि ||३||

Roman Transliteration
dharādharendra-nandinī-vilāsa-bandhu-bandhura-
sphurad diganta-santati-pramoda-māna-mānase ।
kṛpā-kaṭākṣa-dhoraṇī-niruddha-durdharāpadi
kvacid digambare (kvacic cidambare) mano vinodametu vastuni ॥ 3 ॥

May my mind seek happiness in the Lord Śiva, in whose mind all the living beings of the glorious universe exist, who is the sportive companion of Parvati (daughter of the mountain king), who controls invincible hardships with the flow of his compassionate look, who is all-pervasive (the directions are his clothes).

Devanagari
जटाभुजङ्गपिङ्गलस्फुरत्फणामणिप्रभा
कदम्बकुङ्कुमद्रवप्रलिप्तदिग्वधूमुखे |
मदान्धसिन्धुरस्फुरत्त्वगुत्तरीयमेदुरे
मनो विनोदमद्भुतं बिभर्तु भूतभर्तरि ||४||

Roman Transliteration
jaṭā bhujaṅga piṅgalasphurat phaṇāmaṇiprabhā
kadamba kuṅkuma drava pralip tadig vadhū mukhe ।
madāndha sindhuras phurat tvagut tarīyame dure
mano vinodamadbhutaṃ bibhartu bhūta bhartari ॥ 4 ॥

May I seek wonderful pleasure in Lord Śiva, who is supporter of all life, who with his creeping snake with reddish brown hood and with the luster of his gem on it spreading out variegated colors on the beautiful faces of the maidens of directions, who is covered with a glittering upper garment made of the skin of a huge intoxicated elephant.

Devanagari
सहस्रलोचनप्रभृत्यशेषलेखशेखर
प्रसूनधूलिधोरणी विधूसराङ्घ्रिपीठभूः |
भुजङ्गराजमालया निबद्धजाटजूटक
श्रियै चिराय जायतां चकोरबन्धुशेखरः ||५||

Roman Transliteration
sahasralocana prabhṛtya śeṣalekha śekhara
prasūna dhūli dhoraṇī vidhūsarāṅghri pīṭhabhūḥ ।
bhujaṅga rājamālayā nibaddha jāṭajūṭaka
śriyai cirāya jāyatāṃ cakora bandhuśekharaḥ ॥ 5 ॥

May Lord Śiva give us prosperity, who has the moon (relative of the Cakora bird) as his head-jewel, whose hair is tied by the red snake-garland, whose foot-stool is grayed by the flow of dust from the flowers from the rows of heads of all the Gods, Indra/Vishnu and others.

Devanagari
ललाटचत्वरज्वलद्धनञ्जयस्फुलिङ्गभा
निपीतपञ्चसायकं नमन्निलिम्पनायकम् |
सुधामयूखलेखया विराजमानशेखरं
महाकपालिसम्पदेशिरोजटालमस्तु नः ||६||

Roman Transliteration
lalāṭa ca tvara jvalad dhanañjaya sphuliṅgabhā
nipītapañca sāyakaṃ naman nilim panāyakam ।
sudhā mayū khale khayā virāja mānaśekharaṃ
mahākapā lisam padeśi rojaṭā lamastu naḥ ॥ 6 ॥

May we get the wealth of Siddhis from Śiva’s locks of hair, which devoured the God of Love with the sparks of the fire flaming in His forehead, who is bowed by all the celestial leaders, who is beautiful with a crescent moon

Devanagari
करालभालपट्टिकाधगद्धगद्धगज्ज्वल
द्धनञ्जयाहुतीकृतप्रचण्डपञ्चसायके |
धराधरेन्द्रनन्दिनीकुचाग्रचित्रपत्रक
प्रकल्पनैकशिल्पिनि त्रिलोचने रतिर्मम ||७||

Roman Transliteration
karā labhāla paṭ ṭikā dhagad dhagad dhagaj jvalad
dhanañjayā hutī kṛta pracaṇḍa pañca sāyake ।
dharā dharendra nandinī kucā graci tra patraka
prakalpanaika śilpini trilocane ratirmama ॥ 7 ॥

My interest is in Lord Śiva, who has three eyes, who has offered the powerful God of Love into the fire, flaming Dhagad Dhagad on the flat surface of his forehead, and who is the one expert artist of creation accompanied by Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king.

Devanagari
नवीनमेघमण्डली निरुद्धदुर्धरस्फुरत्
कुहूनिशीथिनीतमः प्रबन्धबद्धकन्धरः |
निलिम्पनिर्झरीधरस्तनोतु कृत्तिसिन्धुरः
कलानिधानबन्धुरः श्रियं जगद्धुरंधरः ||८||

Roman Transliteration
navīna megha maṇḍalī niruddha dur dharasphurat
kuhū niśīthinī tamaḥ prabandha baddha kandharaḥ ।
nilim panir jharī dharas tanotu kṛt tisindhuraḥ
kalā nidhāna bandhuraḥ śriyaṃ jagad dhuraṃ dharaḥ ॥ 8 ॥

May Lord Śiva give us prosperity, who bears the burden of this universe, who is lovely with the moon, who is red wearing the skin, who has the celestial river Ganga, whose neck is dark as midnight of new moon night covered by many layers of clouds.

Devanagari
प्रफुल्लनीलपङ्कजप्रपञ्चकालिमप्रभा
वलम्बिकण्ठकन्दलीरुचिप्रबद्धकन्धरम् |
स्मरच्छिदं पुरच्छिदं भवच्छिदं मखच्छिदं
गजच्छिदांधकच्छिदं तमन्तकच्छिदं भजे ||९||

Roman Transliteration
praphul lanī lapaṅkaja prapañcakā lima prabhā-
-valam bikaṇṭha kandalī ruci prabaddha kandharam ।
smarac chidaṃ puracchidaṃ bhavacchidaṃ makhacchidaṃ
gajacchidāṃ dhakachidaṃ tamaṃ takac chidaṃ bhaje ॥ 9 ॥

I pray to Lord Śiva, whose neck is tied with the luster of the temples hanging on the neck with the glory of the fully bloomed blue lotuses which looked like the blackness (sins) of the universe, who is the killer of Manmatha, who destroyed Tripuras, who destroyed the bonds of worldly life, who destroyed the sacrifice, who destroyed the demon Andhaka, the destroyer of the elephants, and who controlled the God of death, Yama.

Devanagari
अखर्व(अगर्व) सर्वमङ्गलाकलाकदम्बमञ्जरी
रसप्रवाहमाधुरी विजृम्भणामधुव्रतम् |
स्मरान्तकं पुरान्तकं भवान्तकं मखान्तकं
गजान्तकान्धकान्तकं तमन्तकान्तकं भजे ||१०||

Roman Transliteration
akharva sarvamaṅgalā kalā kadaṃba mañjarī
rasa pravā hamā dhurī vijṛṇbhaṇā madhu vratam ।
smarāntakaṃ purāntakaṃ bhavāntakaṃ makhāntakaṃ
gajān takān dhakān takaṃ taman takān takaṃ bhaje ॥ 10 ॥

I pray to Lord Śiva, who has bees flying all over because of the sweet honey from the beautiful bunch of auspicious Kadamba flowers, who is the killer of Manmatha, who destroyed Tripuras, who destroyed the bonds of worldly life, who destroyed the sacrifice, who destroyed the demon Andhaka, the killer of the elephants, and who controlled the God of death, Yama.

Devanagari
जयत्वदभ्रविभ्रमभ्रमद्भुजङ्गमश्वस
द्विनिर्गमत्क्रमस्फुरत्करालभालहव्यवाट् |
धिमिद्धिमिद्धिमिध्वनन्मृदङ्गतुङ्गमङ्गल
ध्वनिक्रमप्रवर्तित प्रचण्डताण्डवः शिवः ||११||

Roman Transliteration
jaya tvada bhravi bhrama bhramad bhujaṅga maśvasa
dvinir gamat kramasphurat karā labhāla ha vyavāṭ ।
dhimid dhimid dhimi dhvanan mṛdaṅga tuṅga maṅgala
dhvani krama pravartita pracaṇḍa tāṇḍavaḥ śivaḥ ॥ 11 ॥

Lord Śiva, whose dance of Tāṇḍava is in tune with the series of loud sounds of drum making Dhimid Dhimid sounds, who has the fire on the great forehead, the fire that is spreading out because of the breath of the snake wandering in whirling motion in the glorious sky.

Devanagari
दृषद्विचित्रतल्पयोर्भुजङ्गमौक्तिकस्रजोर्
गरिष्ठरत्नलोष्ठयोः सुहृद्विपक्षपक्षयोः |
तृणारविन्दचक्षुषोः प्रजामहीमहेन्द्रयोः
समं प्रव्रितिक: कदा सदाशिवं भजम्यहम ||१२||

Roman Transliteration
dṛṣa dvici tratal payor bhujaṅga mauktikasrajor-
gariṣṭha ratna loṣṭhayoḥ suhṛ dvi pakṣa pakṣayoḥ ।
tṛṣṇā ravinda cakṣuṣoḥ prajā mahī mahendrayoḥ
samapravṛ tikaḥ kadā sadāśivaṃ bhaje ॥ 12 ॥

When will I worship Lord SadāŚiva (eternally auspicious) God, with equal vision towards the people and an emperor, and a blade of grass and lotus-like eye, towards both friends and enemies, towards the valuable gem and some lump of dirt, towards a snake and a garland and towards varied ways of the world.

Devanagari
कदा निलिम्पनिर्झरीनिकुञ्जकोटरे वसन्
विमुक्तदुर्मतिः सदा शिरः स्थमञ्जलिं वहन् |
विलोललोललोचनो ललामभाललग्नकः
शिवेति मंत्रमुच्चरन् कदा सुखी भवाम्यहम् ||१३||

Roman Transliteration
kadā nilim panir jharī nikuñja koṭare vasan
vimukta durmatiḥ sadā śiraḥstha mañjaliṃ vahan ।
vilola lola locano lalā mabhāla lagna kaḥ
śiveti mantra muccaran kadā sukhī bhavā myaham ॥ 13 ॥

When will I be happy, living in the hollow place near the celestial river, Ganga, carrying the folded hands on my head all the time, with my bad thinking washed away, and uttering the mantra of Lord Śiva and devoted in the God with glorious forehead with vibrating eyes.

Devanagari
निलिम्प नाथनागरी कदम्ब मौलमल्लिका-
निगुम्फनिर्भक्षरन्म धूष्णिकामनोहरः ।
तनोतु नो मनोमुदं विनोदिनींमहनिशं
परिश्रय परं पदं तदङ्गजत्विषां चयः ॥ १४॥

Roman Transliteration
nilimpa nāthanāgarī kadamba maulamallikā-
nigumphanirbhakṣaranma dhūṣṇikāmanoharaḥ ।
tanotu no manomudaṃ vinodinīṃmahaniśaṃ
pariśraya paraṃ padaṃ tadaṅgajatviṣāṃ cayaḥ ॥ 14 ॥

Divine beauty of different parts of Lord Śiva which are enlightened by fragrance of the flowers decorating the twisted hair locks of angles may always bless us with happiness and pleasure.[14]

Devanagari
प्रचण्ड वाडवानल प्रभाशुभप्रचारणी
महाष्टसिद्धिकामिनी जनावहूत जल्पना ।
विमुक्त वाम लोचनो विवाहकालिकध्वनिः
शिवेति मन्त्रभूषगो जगज्जयाय जायताम् ॥ १५॥

Roman Transliteration
pracaṇḍa vāḍavānala prabhāśubhapracāraṇī
mahāṣṭasiddhikāminī janāvahūta jalpanā ।
vimukta vāma locano vivāhakālikadhvaniḥ
śiveti mantrabhūṣago jagajjayāya jāyatām ॥ 15 ॥

The Shakti (energy) which is capable of burning all the sins and spreading welfare of all and the pleasant sound produced by angles during enchanting the pious Shiv mantra at the time of Shiv-Parvati Vivah may win over & destroy all the sufferings of the world.[15]

Devanagari
इमं हि नित्यमेवमुक्तमुत्तमोत्तमं स्तवं
पठन्स्मरन्ब्रुवन्नरो विशुद्धिमेतिसंततम् |
हरे गुरौ सुभक्तिमाशु याति नान्यथा गतिं
विमोहनं हि देहिनां सुशङ्करस्य चिंतनम् ||१६||

Roman Transliteration
imaṃ hi nityamevamuktamuttamottamaṃ stavaṃ
paṭhansmaranbruvannaro viśuddhimetisaṃtatam |
hare gurau subhaktimāśu yāti nānyathā gatiṃ
vimohanaṃ hi dehināṃ suśaṅkarasya ciṃtanam ॥ 16 ॥

Whoever reads, remembers and says this best stotra as it is said here, gets purified for ever, and obtains devotion in the great Guru Śiva. For this devotion, there is no other way. Just the mere thought of Lord Śiva indeed removes the delusion.

Devanagari
पूजावसानसमये दशवक्त्रगीतं
यः शम्भुपूजनपरं पठति प्रदोषे |
तस्य स्थिरां रथगजेन्द्रतुरङ्गयुक्तां
लक्ष्मीं सदैव सुमुखिं प्रददाति शम्भुः ||१७||

Roman Transliteration
pūjāvasāna samaye daśavaktragītaṃ
yaḥ śaṁbhupūjanaparaṃ paṭhati pradoṣe ।
tasya sthirāṃ rathagajendra turaṅgayuktāṃ
lakṣmīṃ sadaiva sumukhiṃ pradadāti śaṁbhuḥ ॥ 17 ॥

In the evening, after sunset, at the end of Puja, whoever utters this stotra for 10 times sung by the one with the ten heads (Rāvaṇa), which is dedicated to the worship of Śiva, Lord Śiva will indeed bless him with great Lakṣmī (prosperity) with all the richness of chariots, elephants and horses.

Devanagari
इति श्रीरावण-कृतम्
शिव-ताण्डव-स्तोत्रम्
सम्पूर्णम्

Roman Transliteration
iti śrī rāvaṇa-kṛtam,
śivatāṇḍava stotraṃ,
sampūrnam,

Thus ends the Śiva-Tāṇḍava Stotra written by Śrī ′Rāvaṇa′.
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November 16, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior, Spiritual | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The grinding stone


There is an interesting mention made in the Sri Sai Satcharita about the grinding of wheat. It refers to a grinding stone where the lower part is one’s Karma (Fate, destiny) and the upper is Bhakti (path to achieving salvation), with the handle of the device being Jnana (knowledge). The rotation of the upper stone grinds the ego as well as impulses, desires and sins.

grinding-stone

I pondered about the aspect of ego.

It struck me that our entire approach to life revolves around our ego, and our actions and words reflect this state. Every single action or observation invokes the ego, however subtly.

Ego binds and limits, which leads us to refer to ‘I’ and ‘my’, which in turn confines ourselves to the finite. It cares only for its own existence.

If someone smiles at us, our ego is touched; if someone ignores us, the ego gets touched, too. It is like an open wound. And, one is quick to blame anything on anyone else except ourselves.

Ego brings with it a lot of competition, power plays, control, judgment, criticism, testing, even abuse. It also comes to the surface out of fear – that we are at the mercy of the world – when, in fact, we can be the creators of our own destinies.

The ego always tries to grab what it can from the world, in the belief that it lacks, and only what is out there can fill the gaping hole inside.

Breaking this pattern is difficult, since this ego has a million tricks to keep us engaged. We tell ourselves that all our experiences, problems issues etc, are a consequence of what someone else does or does not do. We become defensive, we counter-attack.

It is ego that gives us a sense of incompleteness.

If one delves into the past, many memories come to the surface. It could be scolding from parents and teachers, unkind words that we might have been subjected to, failures of any kind, rejection, etc. These are forgotten incidents, yet they somehow fester. And, such wounds can be opened very easily through other events, as the ego rears its head.

The irony is that we permit this to happen. Sadly, it is this very same ego that prevents us from acknowledging and correcting.

One way out is to try not to react, not to reject, whatever happens. To be accepting.

Ego is not about self respect. It is a lot more. It is very basic and fundamental.

It is a battle that has to be fought and won from within.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dumbing down on “smartphones”


There was a time when a cellphone was capable (and used) for making/receiving calls and the occasional text message. Life was easier, and more friendly, those days.

My office is located on the 29th floor of a tower and when I get into the elevator along with 15 others, I am always amazed by what happens then. All my fellow occupants whip out their cellphones and there is silence on the way up while each pretends (?) to be totally occupied with what’s on their phones. Some choose just that moment to make that “important” call and bellow instructions to some hapless subordinate and conclude by saying, “I’ll be there in a minute”.

cellphones-in-public

(Note : Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Once upon a time, people greeted one another, even if superficially, when entering that enclosed space. A nod, a smile, perhaps, and occasionally a “hello”. That’s history now.

What’s with these cellphones and peoples’ preoccupation with these devices? Things have reached a stage when you see people sitting around a table, each engrossed in looking at the tiny screen.

public-usage-of-cellphones

No one seems to care if their actions are impolite. Is it because they want to disengage themselves from their surroundings? Is it because they want to convey disinterest? Or a feeling of “don’t invade my space”?

Which is why it is common, nowadays, for meetings to begin with the host entreating everyone to put their cellphones in silent mode. New social conventions. Or, signs everywhere that state that cellphone usage is not allowed – at airport counters, hospitals, government offices, and more.

When I sit across a table with a client or supplier for a discussion, I always make a note of where the other person’s hands are. If they are over the table and in full view, that suggests an openness. Hiding one’s hands under the table is indicative of the likelihood that the other person is not going to be open and reasonable (honest?).

The same applies to cellphones. If I see a device placed on the table, it immediately sends me a negative signal, and I respond appropriately.

 A cellphone, without doubt, is one of the more significant inventions, and has changed how people communicate, get entertained, navigate, and interact.

But, there is also a feeling that, sometimes, it is too much of a good thing. Using that “smartphone” is not always smart.

As someone said, “the future is in your hands”. I wonder if he foresaw the advent of the ubiquitous cellphone.

 

 

November 12, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections …


The final scene in the Guru Dutt film “Kaagaz ke Phool” shows a film director, Suresh Sinha, sitting in semi-darkness in an empty movie studio, his mind reflecting on successes and, ultimately, failures.

His past counted for nothing. He was all alone, a completely broken man. All that remained were memories.

And, his life ebbs away as he sits on a chair in the studio.

This image flashed loudly through the mind, as I reflected on life.

 

October 12, 2011 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Buck stops here !!!


“Don’t mess around on my home turf,” seemed to be the message from this antelope in the savannah of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa.

I am not sure whether to be amused by it all, or feel sorry for the man, the beast, or both.

A 17 year old mountain biker, Evan van der Spuy, was competing in a bike race, and was ambushed by Red Hartebeest buck that charged across the plain right into him. The animal crashed into the unsuspecting biker, knocking him over, and what saved the young man from more serious injuries was his helmet that was badly dented – this will, perhaps, earn the helmet’s manufacturer enormous bragging rights (antelope-proof helmets???)!!!

The Red Hartebeest is a large, reddish-fawn antelope that possesses an excellent sense of smell and hearing, but has very poor eyesight. It can reach speeds of around 50 km miles per hour and males weigh around 150kg. What made this particular animal bring down the hapless biker will never be known.

The incident was captured on video by a fellow cyclist following close behind, who, on spotting the beast, had actually yelled, “”watch the buck”.

The biker escaped with minor concussion and whiplash, while the antelope got up, brushed itself off, and galloped nonchalantly away into the savannah.

I guess this yet another example of the old adage of “The Buck stops here”.

Watch the video of the antelope’s charge here :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2oymHHyV1M

I understand this video has received over two million hits on YouTube.

 

October 12, 2011 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , | Leave a comment

Of various hues …


Watching sports can be fun, be it cricket, football, tennis or athletics. And, apart from the action on the playing field, there are other aspects that add charm and entertainment value – the crowds, the fans, the side-shows, and the atmosphere.

Speaking of fans, there are some who add their unique style and personality, in their own colourful way, that contributes to enhancing the enjoyment.

There are two faces that regular cricket watchers would surely recognize – Chaudhry Abdul Jalil (affectionately known as Chacha Cricket) and Percy Abeysekera.

Chacha Cricket, with his distinctive white beard and green shalwar kameez, can be seen waving the flag at cricket stadia all around the world. He has been following the Pakistan team from the days when matches were held at Sharjah, and is now a regular presence wherever the team plays. Having given up his job, he has now been hired, I understand, by the Pakistan Cricket Board that sponsors his travels all over the world following the national team.

Percy Abeysekera, who is a one-man cheering squad for the Sri Lankan cricketers, has been following the team for sixty years. He has always been known for his distinctive way of holding the national flag above a batsman as he walks to or back from the wicket.

There is another familiar body/face I have noticed on television over the past couple of years – one who has his entire torso, face and head painted in the colours of the Indian flag, and also has the name “Sachin Tendulkar” painted on his chest.

His name is Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary, he hails from Muzaffarpur in Bihar State, and is an ardent fan of Sachin Tendulkar and the Indian team.

Chaudhary does not have a job, I understand, but regularly receives match tickets from his idol Tendulkar, which ensures that he is able to watch matches everywhere in India. He has been a regular feature in the IPL, as well.

I was amused to learn that this die-hard fan has been travelling to Bombay each year since 2004 to present 1,000 litchis to Tendulkar. “Sachin has promised me that he would provide me with the tickets of all international matches played in the country, and he is living up to his words. He is like a god to me,” says Chaudhary.

He has now begun presenting the fruit to some other cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh.

Considering the state of Indian cricket at the moment, the team needs more fans like Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary.

 

October 8, 2011 Posted by | About this and that, Cricket, Human Behavior | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing a will


“You must write a will,” I have often been told, the logic being that it will make things smooth when I make my final departure, and there will be no ambiguities. Makes sense.

On the surface, legal aspects apart, it should not be too much of an issue, especially when what you leave behind is not worth so much as to cause problems for those who will be the recipients.

“Alright, let me understand how a will is written,” I told myself and started doing some research on the net. That’s when I came across some interesting and, sometimes wacky, wills.

I read about a childless Canadian lawyer and investor named Charles Vance Millar who willed the residue of his estate to the Toronto, Ontario woman who bore most babies in the decade after his death. In what appeared to be a closely fought contest that got known as the Great Stork Derby, there emerged four women who bore nine children apiece, each pocketing $125,000. Not bad at all, since his riches gave at least 36 children a head start in life.

Not all people have been as philanthropic, however.

The poet Heinrich Heine married Eugenie Mirat, a lady who was uneducated, boorish, and vain. While affectionately leaving his entire estate to his wife, he placed one condition – she had to remarry once he was gone, to be able to claim her inheritance. The reason? “Because then there will be at least one man,” he explained, “who will regret my death.”

And, after being banned by his wife from smoking his favourite cigars, a gentleman named Samuel Bratt got even with her later. He left behind a princely sum of £330,000 for his wife. There was one condition, though – she had to smoke five cigars a day.

The search for tips on how to frame a will goes on.

 

October 5, 2011 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Fantasy rolling out …


A Lego set is a child’s plaything, but I have observed adults, too, patiently spending hours, and enjoying putting together the little, precisely moulded, bricks to form various shapes – houses, cars, animals, bridges, etc.

Which is why I was fascinated when I read that Lego bricks have been used to put together to form a replica of a full size Ford Explorer SUV that will be transported to Orlando, Florida in time for the opening of the new Legoland.

The red Lego-Explorer took 22 designers 2,500 hours to build, weighs about 1,200 kg (more than half of the real car), and is supported by a 350 kg interior aluminum base.

It took 380,000 bricks to build the Lego-Explorer which would, at current cost of Lego sets, work out to almost US$ 40,000, more than the price one would, perhaps, pay for an actual Ford Explorer.

As it travels in a trailer with transparent sides from Ford’s Chicago assembly plant to Orlando in tme for the park’s opening on 15th October 2011 , there will be thousands of curious eyes following this amazing creation.

Child’s play? Perhaps, not. But, it is certainly something that brings out the child in an adult.

 

October 3, 2011 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , | 1 Comment

Home-made barista coffee


“Would you like to have a coffee?” asked my host at a company that I was visiting.

We were standing beside a small table that had a coffee machine and a box that contained several small foil packages that came in different colours, each denoting a different taste variant.

He then took one of these, popped it into a small receptacle in the machine, pressed a switch and a few seconds later, I saw steaming hot coffee dispensed into a cup.

I have heard of, seen and tasted various barista style coffees, but this was something new.

It was a capsule or pod system of coffee making. The concept appears simple enough. The aluminium foil capsule contains a precise amount of ground coffee. When this is inserted into a compatible capsule system machines, the top is pierced to allow water to flow through. Hot water is forced through the capsule at high pressure, and the final beverage is extracted to the cup.

Specialty coffee shops such as Starbucks popularized and standardized coffee house culture, and offered gourmet-style variants to clientele across the world. It was Nestle, through its brand Nespresso that brought premium coffee into the workplace and into homes. With huge margins for themselves, needless to say.

The whole idea of bringing gourmet coffee into the home is based on aspiration – buy the product, taste the lifestyle (George Clooney is the brand spokesman), and with global sales in excess of US$ 3 billion, Nestle haven’t done too badly with this.

Nestle is not a monopoly – there are others such Sara Lee with their Senso brand who are selling large numbers in the U.S. What differentiates Nestle, however, is that the Nespresso pods can only be used on Nespresso machines unlike many other brands that work on “universal” machines.

There are several varieties to choose from and they carry exotic names such as Ristretto, Arpeggio, Livanto, Capriccio, Volluto and Vivalto Lungo, amongst others. Caters to individual taste, and comes handy when guests who drop in have different preferences, since all one has to do is drop in a different variety of pod into the machine.

The pod comes with a hefty price tag, though. The machine itself costs upwards of US$ 150 for the basic model, going up to US$ 600+. And, each pod costs approx. 55 cents, which is steep.

However, if one does not wish to stand in line at a barista, and wants to have different varieties of one’s choices at call, within the convenience of the home, the coffee pod is a must-have.

As for my first experience with this concept? Well, the coffee tasted good.

And, I asked for a second cup.

September 30, 2011 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For the Record …


I read recently that a 46 year old Brazilian-born lady got married to a 60 year old, balding, retired civil servant in Edinburgh. Nothing unusual about the alliance except that Elaine Davidson holds the Guinness record of being the world’s most pierced woman with 6,925 piercings (with 192 on her face alone).

Speaking of which, one has read about the various records that are certified by Guinness. There are records for the tallest, shortest, fastest, slowest, fattest, thinnest, and what have you.

For instance, a huge pumpkin, all of approx. 822 kg, grown in Wisconsin, U.S.A., weighed in as the world’s heaviest. Fair enough. What’s next? The largest melon (current record – approx 122 kg)?

There is the record for the family with the largest number of living generations (7). And a dog with the longest ears (left ear – 31 cm, right ear – 34 cm)

However, some of the “records” defy logic, and makes me wonder why they should appear at all, and if people do things just to gain their moment of fame.

A Japanese man, Kenichi Ito, holds the record for the fastest 100 metres race, running on all fours (a man is supposed to run on two legs, by the way). An American named Ashrita Furman holds the record for the fastest mile running in swimming fins (why would anyone want to do that on terra firma?).

Krunoslav Budiseli, a Croatian, holds the record for wearing 245 T-shirts at the same time – the T-shirts weighed 68 kg (why didn’t anyone offer him a sweater if he was feeling so cold?). Italy’s Vittorio Innocente set a world record in underwater cycling, pedaling to a depth of 66.5 meters (maybe the cycling tracks in his home town were too choked).

Setting records and breaking them are all fine. But, some of them surely test one’s reasoning. And, verge on the absurd, to put it mildly.

As for the happy 60 year old groom on his wedding day, he said, “Elaine looked astonishing. People see the piercings but I see the amazing personality underneath.”

Indeed. That’s what love is all about, I suppose.

Is that a record, too?

September 29, 2011 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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