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Showing posts from November, 2007

Rewind to the 70’s

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Telephones – Remember the black rotary dial contraption we started with, the old bakelite phone? Well, that was a real fickle device requiring frequent visits by the telephone’s dept technician to keep it in working order. You screamed through it like it was needed to get the voice through to the other end (to this day we Indians do exactly that, even with mobiles!!) There were local calls and then trunk calls. STD came later on and then dialing was a pain, you had to be sharp eyed, and required an undistracted 5 minutes before you completed dialing all the numbers. Noisy kids who shot by got sharp raps on their ears. Each locality had a benevolent guy who loaned the use of his phone – or in apartments, there would be one phone in the whole building. It would be quite normal practice to call twice within a few minutes. The first call to ask for the person you want to speak to and the second time to speak to that person (some kid will be dispatched to that person’s home to call him to …

Oh, Kabuliwalah!!!

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Kabuliwallah – That one story introduced people like me, living the southern tip of India, to Northerly Afghanistan, many decades ago. Our Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore wrote this powerful story in 1892, a time when the frontier policy was being debated by the British. This was a story that then found its way into our school text books. Tagore was the one who introduced us formally to the Afghan, though we saw Kabuliwalah’s often on the streets. If you have not read the story, please, please read it. It is such a beautiful bit of writing. Here is a link (it is but one translation, there are better and worse, this one is OK).

Then there was the Kabuli Chana (chickpeas or Garbanzo beans) that we all know. Today we have Desi Chana, but in those days, it came from Kabul (so did Badam, Pista, Raisins…) through roving Kabuliwallah’s and it was thus called so. When we eat Chana masala today, with the sizzling Batura, we don’t quite care about its origins, be it from Turkey or Kabul o…

A bomb - Vedic connections

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Just the other day, Paul Tibbet the chap who dropped the first nuclear bomb on human populace died at 92. I wondered, like a fellow blogger Happy Kitten, if he had a single nights peaceful sleep for the six decades after the event that killed 140,000 Japs (and many more years later). But what mystified me was the report that throughout his life, Tibbets seemed more troubled by people's objections to the bomb than by his having led the crew that killed tens of thousands of Japanese in a single stroke. And he insisted he slept well, believing that using the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved more lives than they erased because they eliminated the need for a drawn-out invasion of Japan. In a 1975 interview he said: "I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did... I sleep clearly every night." Some guy that.

After the tests at Los Almos, Oppenheimer the father of the A bomb, said - Quoting from the Bhagavad Gita Now I…

Now what - Kerala special tea!!

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We in India are so fond of drinking tea and spending time doing it. Companies & offices had tea breaks some time ago and thus spending a while drinking that essence from the magical leaf and chit chatting over it, has become a national pastime. For that very reason, we have hordes of tea boys in the national workforce and thousands of tea shops dotted across the country. Most are shacks by the road side, some have now become mobile (Thattu kada’s serving idli’s & dosas as well) and some have graduated to become mini restaurants where freshly cooked snacks & light meals are also served. In Kerala, Tea stalls are very common and have become a meeting point of sorts, where people come to discuss politics, national & international news, movies (and Shakeela), gossip and even the economic situation. I can easily assure you that every Malayali would have sat on one of those wooden benches that are placed outside the tea stall and sipped a tea from one of those characteristic…

Pills, pills & even more pills

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LA times Health section Aug 6th, 07 Under the influence states - FOR many Americans, a doctor's decision to prescribe medication is something of a sacred transaction. A physician considers the patient and symptoms and chooses the best drug for the job, drawing upon years of training and clinical experience. It is an exchange conducted in a hushed sanctuary, far from the heat and noise of the marketplace -- a place where cool judgment reigns. That sanctuary has been breached. Today, drug manufacturers do everything in their considerable power to ensure that their brand-name prescription medications are on the lips of patients and in the minds of physicians every time the two meet across an exam table. In 2006, drug-makers spent almost $5 billion to reach out to consumers with direct advertising. The world's pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $19 billion annually to woo doctors (the US market size itself is 300B$).

The sales strategies are complex and enticements to doct…