If you consider Jammu & Kashmir as a country that has been invaded & occupied by India, then you need to consider that there are 2 other countries, Pakistan (in green) & China (in orange) have invaded and occupied parts of Kashmir as well. Image Source: Wikipedia
Apparently this started when PM Dr M spoke about Jammu & Kashmir in United Nations last week and probably the stinging part of his call for diplomacy between India and Pakistan would be these words – “the country has been invaded and occupied”.
Are we on target to visit the Red Planet? Given the state of the country as at now, you can safely say that when we celebrate the year 2020, this country would not have achieved the status of a “developed country”. So Dr M’s Vision 2020 will remain a vision and will not become a reality, at least in 2020.
For one, religion had taken precedent in key areas of the country and have caused a mismatch of priorities. Instead of us busy with human resource development and preparing the country for a “developed” status, we are busy on which law to use and how holy or religious one must be.
Let’s run through the latest updates on MH370 for the past 1 week. It does not look great but then again, perhaps no news at all could be good news . There’s still hope.
(Summing up the status on MH370 as at today – click on the image to enlarge it. Infographic source: http://visual.ly/still-flying-after-seven-hours)
When we first heard about the missing plane, we were anxious, very worried and feared for the worse. We were practically glued to the TV for days waiting for any positive news. One week down the line, we were still hopeful despite the search & rescue team not finding any clues or wreck of the plane. But the reality is that the longer the plane could not be found, any chances of finding survivors was getting slimmer too. We have been hearing contradictory statements and very few positive updates. The earlier rumored turn about have now been confirmed and the search for the plane have moved from the South China Sea to now the west side of Malaysia and the vast Indian Ocean.
And now, it is entering into the 2nd week, things seems to be going from bad to worse:-
Authorities have said that someone on board deliberately disabled the plane’s Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, at 1:07 a.m. March 8, with the transponder — which identifies it to commercial radar systems — getting shut down about 14 minutes later.
The Government now had confirmed that the plane had indeed turned (earlier it was suspected but was not confirmed) around and may have headed towards one of the 2 possible air corridors. Added to this is the notion that someone had deliberately switched off the transponder. Another security hole at KLIA? The Government is keeping their silence on the notion of the plane may be been hijacked but have not ruled out any possibilities. If it was deliberately turnoff and the plane had not crashed, all signs seems to point to a hijack.
The search & rescue now focuses on the 2 possible air corridors whilst a parallel investigation is on-going on the crew and passengers (they should also investigate the Immigration officers who failed to detect 2 Iranian imposters). And assuming that the plane did not fly off to another country using one of the two air corridors, the Indian Ocean is one huge place to search (it’s possible that we would never find the wreck if it had crashed into the sea). Almost immediately India and Pakistan had come on air, denying that the plane pass through its airspace:-
Indian military authorities have dismissed the possibility that the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, which mysteriously disappeared eight days ago en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, could have flown over India on its way to Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan in Central Asia, the Times of India reported.
“If the jetliner had tried to cross the Indian mainland, our primary radars (which bounce radio signals off targets) would have picked it up despite its transponders being switched off (secondary radars beam signals that request information from a plane’s transponders),” said a top Indian Air Force (IAF) officer. “The five Airports Authority of India radars at Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Mumbai are integrated with IAF’s air defence network. The possibility is far-fetched,” said an officer.
One cannot underestimate the overwhelming web of radars and detection system that India and Pakistan had deployed in, what one had said, one of the potential flashpoint in the world. But if it has indeed had flew undetected, no one is coming forward admitting the shortcoming of their radars. Many too dismissed that it is not possible for the plane to use the northern corridor for a simple fact – there were too many radar installation & tracking system in many countries that could detect the missing plane. It is not easy for a Boeing 777 to simply slip by undetected by so many countries. So was the case until I read this:-
The major roadblock to this theory has been the insistence from India and Pakistan that their radar network showed no such unidentified aircraft entering or traversing their airspace. It would seem highly unlikely given such information that a Boeing 777 could indeed slip through undetected.
It is my belief that MH370 likely flew in the shadow of SIA68 through India and Afghanistan airspace. As MH370 was flying “dark” without transponder / ADS-B output, SIA68 would have had no knowledge that MH370 was anywhere around and as it entered Indian airspace, it would have shown up as one single blip on the radar with only the transponder information of SIA68 lighting up ATC and military radar screens.
Well, that is one theory that may explained that MH370 may have slip into the northern corridor undetected by the Indians and Pakistanis. That it tail-gated another Boeing 777 and presented itself invisible to the web of radars. Another theory on how it could have gone missing is this – by an AWACS jamming the detection:-
What could make a plane disappear from civilian radar while at 36,000 feet yet still be visible on military radar? ONE THING, and it looks like a UFO (as some have speculated) only it’s attached to a Boeing jet – the antenna on a U.S. Air Force AWACS plane. The fact that this missing jet vanished from civilian radar yet remained visible on more robust military radars proves well enough for me that this indeed was an AWACS hijacking, just like we saw on 9/11 where AWACS planes were seen on video observing if not controlling the crashes into the twin towers.
Once the plane flew far enough West, AWACS was obviously enough to jam both civilian and military radars, probably because they entered a zone where the angle of both incoming signals allowed for their simultaneous cancellation. That is where the plane finally “vanished” forever, an hour after the “official” vanishing act.
And now, the issue of fire on board have resurfaced:-
For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent.
It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations. There is no point speculating further until more evidence surfaces, but in the meantime it serves no purpose to malign pilots who well may have been in a struggle to save this aircraft from a fire or other serious mechanical issue.
Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. There is no doubt in my mind. That’s the reason for the turn and direct route. A hijacking would not have made that deliberate left turn with a direct heading for Langkawi. It probably would have weaved around a bit until the hijackers decided where they were taking it.
These are just some of the speculations circulating on the internet (including this) on what might have happened to the plane (read here for more theories). We still have a missing plane to search for and so far, there has not been any concrete leads.
(The possible 2 routes of the missing plane but one have admit that it is one big area to search. We only have less than 2 weeks before the black box batteries runs out. Image source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk)
There is a growing talk on the internet that there has been indeed an hijack and the Malaysian Government knows what had really happened to MH370 but they are buying time to negotiate for the safe return of the passengers from some secret location. This is a bit far fetched, if you ask me. Even if it was kept in secret by the Malaysian Government, things would have leaked and the foreign press would have reported by now. So, I don’t think there is any negotiations going on in the back ground.
Someone also raised the connection between the pilot and his support for Anwar and that he may have committed suicide when he learned that the court had found Anwar guilty. This was absolutely a nonsense and at the most, a very sickening hit below the belt attempt at Anwar (a very typical line of thought by some politicians – if you don’t support us, then you must be the enemy).
Whilst the search continues, the incident of MH370 reveal the glaring shortcomings with the Malaysian Government dealing with a missing plane. I have covered the point on crisis management last week and the foreign press already had a field day on this (from day one). It also questioned on the capability of RMAF in detecting plane that had deviated from its flight path and the failure to scramble the jets to intercept the plane. If that had been done, we would have known whether MH370 indeed turned about to the west much earlier:-
This aspect of the flight raises other questions. Even without its transponder the plane was clearly seen, though not identified, by Malaysian military radar. Yet nothing was done about it. No aircraft was scrambled to see what this mystery object was. In its long hours of flight to the west of Malaysia, was it seen by other military radar, such as India’s, or if it flew north-west, by Thailand or even China. It is difficult to believe any of these countries, seeing an unidentified aircraft approaching or entering their airspace, would not have done something to find out what it was.
Whilst this may be disputed by those are familiar with the workings of the military SOP and use of military radar, one must remember that anything that touches on military radar and strategy, also touches on national security and I don’t think any military commanders out there would approve a free for all information to be circulated openly in the media. Who knows what really took place. Perhaps it was known that the unidentified plane was indeed MH370 but they needed time and clearance to inform others. Perhaps RMAF did sent interceptors to check on the plane but they could not identify the plane as MH370. We will never know. One would just hope that the Government will think hard again on the weaknesses of the present air surveillance over Malaysia and take immediate actions to address the shortcomings.
There is only have less than 2 weeks before the black box battery runs out. Time indeed running out for the crew and the passengers. Meantime, the comedy in Malaysia continues. At time when the whole of Malaysia is united in praying for the return of the crew and the passengers and being hopeful on the missing MH370, some politicians on the other hand have proven time again that they are still stuck to their 3rd world way of thinking – that Government knows the best, can be highly secretive and can dismiss any questions & oppositions at their whims & fancy:-
Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh today claimed that Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has bypassed Pakatan Rakyat MPs in his invitation for parliamentarians to attend briefing on the missing MH370 tomorrow. “What he is doing clearly goes against the Parliament convention. It is parliamentary briefing, yet were are not invited. “This is very unbecoming of a minister who is also an Umno vice president,” she said when debating the motion of thanks on royal address in Parliament today,
The Acting Transport Minister’s response to this was rather dumb that he did not invite the Opposition MPs because they never ask for it. It is no wonder that Business Week in the beginning of the crisis mentioned that the Malaysian Government is “handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics”. Some things will never change, don’t they?
Western classical music is perspective – look at the number of people involved in a symphony! Our traditional music is lonely – Ilaiyaraja
(My collection cover image – the image of Maestro Ilaiyaraja. Image source: http://www.tamilkey.com)
As long I could remember, I have been listening to Ilaiyaraja music since I was still young and started to have an appreciation of his style of music – all the way from the 1970s (you are aware that Annakili was not his first movie and that he had to impress the producer Panchu Arunachalam by singing a song that his mother sang and using the table as an music instrument?) to his latest flick in “Neethane En Ponvasantham” – thanks to my Dad who was big fan of Ilaiyaraja (Ilaiyaraja means the “younger” Raja – that is because the Tamil music industry already had another music director named Raja – the famed A.M. Raja).
Damn, it is the song that I have been listening all day long for past one week and I can’t shake it off.
I saw the movie Rang De Basanti starring Amir and the duo from the 3 Idiotssometime ago, liked this song (especially the fast guitarist music in the background which later transcend to a haunting tabla music) and this song has been one of the must song that I listen at least once in the morning especially when I am starting on my journey.
A R Rahman is simply brilliant with his composition (the other compositions – Tu Bin Bataye and Roobaroo are brilliant as well) but equally brilliant is the lyrics (I don’t understand Hindi – it is not necessary though, music is an universal language – you can just sense the meaning without you realising it).
It makes the song more touching with the beautiful lyrics is the scene from the movie – where a mother loses her loving son and his friends losing a good friend and they know that he will not be back.
The award winning lyrists, Prasoon Joshin who wrote the lyrics for this song said that the lyrics was developed while discussing with Rahman the scene about a mother losing her son. Joshi wrote the lyrics about the mother and son playing hide-and-seek with the sad reality of the son being hidden forever. He confessed to have been in tears while Mangeshkar was singing the song. The soundtrack won the Filmfare Best Music Director Award, and had two of its tracks, Khalbali and Luka Chuppi, considered for an Academy Award for Best Original Song nomination (Source: Wikipedia)
Luka Chuppi bahut huyi saamne aa ja naa Enough of hide and seek, come before me.
Kahan kahan dhoondha tujhe I searched for you everywhere.
Thak gayi hai ab teri maa Your mother is now tired.
Aaja saanjh hui mujhe teri fikar Its evening and I’m worried about you
Dhundhla gayi dekh meri nazar aa ja na Hazy is what my sight is, come to me
Kya bataoon maa kahan hoon main. What do I tell you about the place where I am, maa?
Yahan udney ko mere khula aasmaan hai There is freedom and independence like the vast sky here.
Tere kisson jaisa bhola salona Like your stories it is innocent and beautiful here
Jahan hain yahan sapno vala Its like a dreamland here.
Meri patang ho befikar udd rahi hai maa My kite (I am) is flying without any worries maa.
Dor koi loote nahin beech se kaate na Nobody to steal or cut my kite’s string.
Teri raah takey aankhiyaan My eyes are waiting for your arrival.
Jaane kaisa kaisa hoye jiyaa My heart is going through various emotions.
Dhire dhire aangan uthre andhera, mera deep kahan Slowly darkness in creeping in the courtyard, where is my lamp(son)
Dhalke suraj kare ishara chanda tu hai kahan The sun is setting and gesturing to the moon, where are you?
Mere chanda tu hai kahan Where are you my moon (son)?
Kaise tujhko dikhaun yahaan hai kya How do I show you what is here?
Maine jharne se paani maa, tod ke piya hai I’ve drunk water from the fountain maa
Guchcha guchcha kayee khwabon ka uchal ke chuwa hai I’ve touched several clusters of my dreams
Chaaya liye bhali dhoop yahaan hai The sunlight along with the shade is here
Naya naya sa hai roop yahan The atmosphere is so different and new
Yahaan sab kuch hai maa phir bhi All that I want is here maa… but still…
Lage bin tere mujhko akela Loneliness is what I feel here without you
(I have done up Part 3 of the trip to Oriental Paris but that post has to wait for this classic – it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in Youtube)
(Watch the video below to see why this judge of a talent show in India goes in shock)
I am sure everyone would have seen some kind of “talent” show in TV – at least at the level of American Idol. In India (through the TV shows over at Astro), we have watched all kind of “talent” shows – singing show, dancing show and once in a while, live stand-up comedy show. But I am very sure that no one would have seen this kind of “talent” show ever!
The link was IM-ed to me by a Singh friend and the start seemed rather harmless but somehow seeing all those guys in military camouflaged pants should have raised some kind alarm. The expression on the judges’ faces was priceless and despite the horror, no one bothered to stop the “talented” guys from continuing. It was a bloody end but at the same time, it was so unbelievably funny.
Just watch till the end and keep a close eye on the judges’ reactions!
(Sathya Sai Baba, one of India’s most influential spiritual leaders, breathed his last at a hospital funded by his organisation in his home town of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh on last Sunday. He was 85. Image source: http://www.kevinrdshepherd.info)
To many around the world, the Great Guru is dead but here’s the troubling news that often associated with modern day, highly commercialized but dead holy men:-
A scramble has broken out for control of the $12-billion empire of an Indian guru with a worldwide following who died Sunday. Sathya Sai Baba’s devotees included actress Goldie Hawn, the Duchess of York and Isaac Tigrett, the founder of the Hard Rock Cafe chain, Pratibha Patil, India’s president, and Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, attended his last birthday celebrations.
As his health deteriorated in recent months, politicians discussed whether the state should seize his fortune. His nephew, R.J. Ratnakar, and Satyajit, a devotee, who cared for him, are among those reported to be jostling for control over the Sathya Sai organization.
Court documents allege that Sai Baba owned many cars, including Mercedes limousines and a Jaguar, and that the roof of his temple was lined with gold.
To be frank, I am not really a devotee of Sai Baba or someone who closely followed his teachings (to an extent I thought that he was already dead many, many years ago) but the name is something I have been hearing since I was still small, often reminded of his name and image by some relatives in the family who consider him as the “Guru”. And who can forget the famous hair-do?
In recent times, other than Rajini’s movie “Baba”, the other “Guru” that made news in recent news was Swami Nithyananda and despite the denial by the Swami, the video evidence was rather overwhelming.
I still recall a long time ago when we were still living in Old Klang Road, my parents would make a short trip to a house situated on a hill along Jalan Morib, just across our housing area (these days things have changed a lot – there is a condominium on the same place now). We kids dreaded the place – not because it was scary but rather it was damn boring. We will walk to the house situated on the house – we loved the walk – the scenery along the road to the house is so tempting. There would be some people waiting at the front of the house, chit-chatting whilst waiting for the Guru (an elderly man with white hair) to be ready.
The Guru would start the session with some words of wisdom which was not so bad but once done, he will get us started on a long mantra session. This is the most boring part for us kids. Whilst the adult comfortably sit down in the hall, lights darken down a bit and everyone then starts the chanting of the mantra – over and over again, we kids would be edging to go out and breathe in some fresh air. We felt like we were drowning in all that chanting. We fought hard to keep ourselves awake – it was not really hard, our parents were by our side to knock us whenever they sense we were falling asleep. And somehow they always know the difference – we falling asleep and we closing our eyes and really chanting.
When the session is finally over, a small meal would be served, some chit-chats among the adults and finally we can walk back home. Thank God!
These days, the closest encounters with holy men would be at the temples and even this is kept to a distance. If one starts talking about religion in a rather passionately way, it merely signals the time to take our leave. Everyone have their sense of commitment when it comes to religion.
(The main entrance to the 300 plus years old temple – Click for higher resolution photo here)
A trip to India will not be complete without a trip to the majestic and historical temples, right?
So, even though our mission in Chennai was purely for shopping and other non-religious activities, we decided to visit at least one temple so as to “complete” the trip to India. We decided to visit the nearby Kapaleeshwarar Temple which was “walking distant” from the apartment.
It was rather a historical temple as per the entry below:-
The age of the temple is the source of much debate. The commonly held view is that the temple was built in the 7th century CE by the ruling Pallavas, based on references to the temple in the hymns of the Nayanmars (which however place it at the shore).
It is an example of the beautiful architecture of Pallavas. Further, the architecture of the temple appears to be 300–400 years old.
The scholarly view that accounts for the discrepancies is that the original temple was built on the shore at the location of the current Santhome Church but was destroyed by the Portuguese, and the current temple (which is 1-1.5 km from the shore) was built more recently. A small minority of people believe that the original temple was indeed on the beach, but that the sea has receded over centuries.
The Vijayanagar Kings rebuilt the temple during the 16th century. The original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese.
(The door in the interior part of the temple certainly looks old…very old. I was afraid to touch it)
An inscription at the entrance of the temple states this:-
Ptolemy, the great Geographer (AD 90-168) has referred to Mylapore in his books as Maillarpha, a well known sea port town with a flourishing trade. Saint Tiruvalluvar, the celebrated author of Tirukkural, the world-famous ethical treatise, lived in Mylapore nearly 2000 years ago.
The Saivite Saints of the 7th century, Saint Sambandar and Saint Appar have sung about this shrine in their hymns. St.Thomas, one of the Apostles of Jesus, is reported to have visited Mylapore in the 2nd Century A.D
Mylapore fell into the hands of the Portuguese in A.D.1566, when the temple suffered demolition; the present temple was rebuilt 300 years ago. There are some fragmentary inscriptions from the old temple, still found in the present shrine and in St.Thomas Cathedral
The temple was indeed old and historical and since we are already staying nearby and it is “off-peak” season, we decided to visit it despite busy with shopping.
(The sun was not that high but who want to walk bare feet on hot rocky floor? The “mat” helped a bit but we had to run, not walk to get to the other part. Malaysian temples fared better with proper roofing and beautiful cooler tiles)
We started early in the evening when the sun is not high and there was a cold breeze. Just when we were about to enter the temple, my son wanted a drink. We looked around and found that 5 – 6 shops that were facing the temple were selling nothing but religious things. None of them was enterprising enough to sell bottled drinking water. I had to walk all the way to a small sundry shop near the main road just to get couple of mineral water bottles.
We walked in after “surrendering” our shoes to the shoe guardian at the front – no token was given and the shoe guardian was busy chit-chatting with his friend. We were expecting our shoes to go missing when we returned. We realised that there was no place to wash our feet – people just walk in (from whatever place they had stepped on earlier) and start doing their prayers. We felt it was odd since in Malaysia, every temple would have a place to wash up before we can start with the prayers. Here we have one of the famous temples in the area and no place to wash our feet before doing prayers. It was no wonder the temple ground looked dirty especially those surrounding the deities. Clearly someone has missed the part on cleanliness but then again, we remember that this was India where anything goes.
With no place to wash our feet, we used some of the mineral water that we had and we opted to wipe our feet on a sorry looking rag and with a heavy heart, proceeded to do the prayers.
(Sorry for low resolution, poor quality photo but those f@#kers at the front insisted us on paying a load of money before we can take photos. A load of rupees may mean nothing to wealthy Western tourists but not for budget concerned Malaysians. Good thing that hand phones these days comes with a reasonable quality built-in camera)
There were plenty of signboards forbidding people from taking photos in the temple grounds. There were also signboards that stated that if one pays x amount of rupees, photography is allowed. We smell sham miles away and I instead opted to snap the interior on my mobile phone (I only took out my DSLR as we were walking out and even so, got into an argument with a guy who insisted us to pay. Thankfully a holier looking man came to our rescue and told the guy off. He too questioned the notion of charging people for taking photos. He then smiled at us and we thought an angel had come to our rescue).
The architecture of the temple structure is simply brilliant and there was an aura of mystery and historical. I loved the carvings on the wall and ceiling and wondered how craftsmen hundreds of years ago have worked on it. Most looked too ancient especially the part when it is said that made from the older structure. There was a feeling of a magical aura surrounding us when we stepped into the interior. When we walked in, we thought we were already been transported to ancient India.
(The very interior of the temple – I was speechless when I saw the sunlight rays beaming in from the small opening in the roof. The interior air smelled ancient but it was not that bad. It was not that crowded as well – thank God! If it has been during major religious season, the crowd inside this small area would have been lethal – there is only one small entrance for way in and way out)
We walked around, completing our prayers and felt somehow fulfilled. Since the ground is not clean to sit down and take our breath (and say silent prayers), we decided to leave the temple earlier. We walked out and noticed a couple of souvenir shops – we decided to hop over and check it out (some prayer items in Malaysia can be too expensive, so better to buy cheaper ones in India). We bought some items – it was cheap but not as cheap as we found out later – the fact that we were foreigners meant the prices of the items to increase immediately.
(The story of the lifeline of a saree shop and story of lovers all in one neat package. Image source: IndiaGlitz)
I wonder why really good Tamil movies always seem to have tragic endings.
Just take Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu for example – brilliantly made movie but the ending was tragic, despite the underdogs winning the final match, the main character ends up dead and the beautiful heroin is left looking for her love for the rest of the life. Tragic indeed!
Then we have Angadi Theru – story of youngsters working in a saree shop in Chennai. And the story made more sense to us especially after we had returned from a shopping trip in Chennai. I regret not smiling and saying kind words to the tired looking saree sales people. Life is not as rosy as it appears to be – work is tough, getting on to the next day is tougher.
Acted by a rather unknown people, Angadi Theru is one well made movie, revolving in the usual activities of the saree sales people and their life outside the work. The director, Vasanthabalan executed the right moves to bring the story from the village where the hero loses his father to a tragic accident and had to cut short on his studies and forced to work in a saree shop to ensure his family gets enough money to survive.
Veiled within the main story is the side stories which is interesting too – the story about the people who make their living selling small items around the saree shop, the policemen who takes bribes from the people around shop, the saree shop owner who maintain a iron claw on things that is happening in and outside his saree shop and sadist like section leaders who is kind to customers but harsh on the workers.
One thing I like about Mahesh who plays the main character, Jyothi is on how simple and natural he is. He can be mistaken for a real saree sales person. Pandi playing the lovable character, Marimuthu provides the bulk of the laugh in the movie and also acts as the main character’s close friend. Anjali plays the heroin, Kani in this movie – she first dislikes Jyothi and gets him in serious trouble and this causes Jyothi to take revenge, only to realise that the punishment that Kani got was too severe. Jyothi stands up for Kani and both ends up loving each other. But love is the dirty word in the saree shop especially after Kani’s friend commits suicide in front of the saree shop.
Angadi Theru also features 2 well known music directors – Vijay Antony and G V Prakash. Although in general, quality of music is nothing to shout about (unlike Yuvan’s Paiyaa), the movie has one good composition (by Vijay Anthony) titled “Aval Appadi Onrum” – well picturised and with thoughtful lyrics. You need to listen to the words carefully to appreciate the meaning of the song.
In short, Angadi Theru packs a strong storyline (which make sense) even though, I must admit that some of the scenes are shown at the extreme but we will never know how true it is.
The plus points: Storyline, realism, moral of the story, camera work
The negative points: The ending (even though both characters are alive and working on getting back on their feet)