Archive for July, 2008

I Myself am Heav’n and Hell :: Omar Khayyam

I found this couplet from Omar Khayyam particularly beautiful and in line with mysticism in nearly all the world’s religions. To create a better world, and find a new spirituality for us, this is a better pursuit rather as opposed to fighting on theology, which is always open to interpretation.


I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return’d to me,
And answer’d “I Myself am Heav’n and Hell :”



Kerala student Jose Lawrence claims world record in memorising

Kerala schoolkid claims world record in memorising

By Ashraf Padanna in Thiruvananthapuram

KERALA SCHOOLBOY Jose Lawrence can memorise up to 250 words within a few minutes and recollect them in the same order, without making a mistake. Lawrence, a Class X student at the Christ Nagar School in Thiruvananthapuram, claims to have broken the world record set by 13- year- old Nischal Narayanam at the World Memory Championship held in Bahrain last year.

Narayanam, a Class VII student of Gitanjali School, Hyderabad, had set the world record for memorising 225 random objects after beating his trainer squadron leader Jayasimha’s record of 200 objects.

Lawrence displayed his skills in front of mediapersons at the Press Club in the state capital on Saturday, in the presence of his parents and teachers. Lawrence was not only able to recall all the names and objects suggested by the journalists but he also remembered the numbers assigned to them. “ Initially, we thought it’s just a kid’s play.

Then he surprised us by excelling in almost every field — inventions at the science fairs, drawing, painting, swimming and driving,”

Jose Lawrence memorised 250 words within a few minutes
said Father Paul Mangat, the school principal. “ We are trying to get his name into the Guinness Book of World Records”. Lawrence practises memory skills for 150 minutes every night before going to bed.

“ I don’t miss an opportunity to prove my skills. I have already performed the memory game on 70 stages,” Lawrence said. “ Now people call me ‘ Memory Jose’,” he added. Son of A. J. Lawrence, a scientist with the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre ( VSSC), he wants to become a computer engineer.

“ He first participated in a state- level memory power competition while he was in Class VI and he came second, remembering 58 out of the 60 words that were given to remember,” recalls his mother Rani, a businesswoman.

He usually memorises the names of objects, film stars and politicians. But at the Press Club, the audience suggested almost all major Kerala newspapers for him to remember and he did not disappoint them.

“ If any word is difficult for me to remember, I would admit it before the show and even ask the organisers if it’s possible for them to change it,” said Lawrence.


Free Muslims Coalition :: a new way forward for muslims

I came across this very good website about Free and moderate Muslims working globally towards creation of a secular and democratic middle east, including Saudi Arabia.

Their website is:

I quote several positions from their website which are very inspiring, healing and I believe progressive, thus leading to steps to create a better a world:

  • The Free Muslims Coalition believes that the Koran only provides general principles of governance which leaves the faithful with substantial flexibility to modernize popular Muslim practices and beliefs.
  • The Free Muslims cautions that imposing democracy on the Middle East without first promoting secularism and destroying terrorism may lead to the creation of Islamic extremist states that will ultimately reject the democracy that brings them to power.
  • The Free Muslims believes that fundamentalist Islamic terror represents one of the most lethal threats to the stability of the civilized world. There is no room for terrorism in the modern world…

We would be happy to help create its first chapter in India.


A “Just” Third Way for economics and business



Indian Heenal Raichura is UK’s youngest doc, at 22 years

At 22 years, Indian is UK’s youngest doc

London: At the age of 22, India-origin Heenal Raichura has qualified to become Britain’s youngest doctor and is all set to practise medicine.

Daughter of Nalin and Shobhna Raichura, Heenal was accepted into university to study medicine in 2002 when she was 16.

Six years later she has passed her degree and is all set to start work at University College London Hospital where she hopes to become a surgeon.

Heenal said: “It’s quite a surreal feeling to actually, finally, become a doctor after six years of a degree. To finally come out at the end and say, ‘I’m a doctor’, my childhood dream, is an indescribable feeling. PTI

Extracts from Daily Telegraph

Heenal Raichura was accepted into university to study medicine in 2002 when she was 16, after a school career which had seen her several years ahead of classmates.

Six years later she has passed her degree and is to start work at University College London Hospital where she hopes to become a surgeon.

Dr Raichura said: “It’s quite a surreal feeling to actually, finally, become a doctor after six years of a degree. To finally come out at the end and say, ‘I’m a doctor’, my childhood dream, is an indescribable feeling.

“All I remember from when I was younger is wanting to be a doctor.

“My parents tell stories about how I would come over and put my head against their chest because I didn’t have a stethoscope to play with.

“I was always interested in trying to figure out what was going wrong with the body.”

At just nine-years-old, Heenal joined MENSA with an IQ of 170 and became the youngster person to start secondary school.

She took her GCSEs examinations early at the age of 14 at the France Bardsley School for Girls in Romford, Essex, and got 7A*, 3As and a B – the best results in her school that year.

In 2002 she notched up four grade As and one B at A-Levels at the Coopers’ Company and Coborn School in Upminster.

Her proud father Nalin from Rainham, Essex, 65, said: “She encountered immense difficulty in finding universities that would accept her at the age of 16 because the minimum age at entry is 17 years 6 months.”

She was offered a place to study medicine at St George’s University in London where she six years later she has graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree.

She received her degree at a presentation ceremony at The Barbican Centre in London in June this year (2008) and is believed to be Britain’s youngest doctor.

On top of the normal five years of medical study Heenal also spend an extra year to get a degree in Anatomy and Developmental Biology from the University College of London.


Parsis: Hope at last to increase numbers

UN project gives Parsis hope of swelling numbers

Ketan Tanna | TNN

Mumbai: It was a casual request from Bombay Parsi Punchayat chief Minoo Shroff that resulted in gynaecologist Anahita Pandole taking on the assignment of helping Parsi couples battling infertility.

Three years down the line, she has handled 200 cases of whom 80 women have conceived. One woman had triplets while 10 others bore twins.

Thirty-four-year-old Anahita Hakim is one such mother of twin girls — Katrina and Karina. ‘‘For the last five years, I wanted children. I had even thought of adopting children before I came to Dr Pandole who helped me have Katrina and Karina,’’ says Hakim, 34.

The fertility treatment did not come cheap and Hakim had to spend between Rs 6 and 7 lakh. The initial consultation was free and the treatment tab was picked by the Bombay Parsi Punchayet. For those who cannot pay, donors within the community pay for the fertility treatment.

Pandole’s project is part of United Nations-backed project called Parzor, which is headquartered in New Delhi. The Parzor project, since 1999, has undertaken research in various fields, working towards the promotion and preservation of the Parsi Zoroastrian heritage.

The demography project, under the larger aspect of Parzor, has thrown up interesting facts about the declining Parsi population. According to the 2001 census, India’s Parsi population had fallen to 69,601 from 76,382 a decade earlier. According to the 2001 census, the child-woman ratio, which is a key indicator of fertility, is 578 per 1,000 in India. Among the Parsis, it is 85 per 1,000.

Meanwhile, in Delhi, a study on Delhi Parsis concentrated on Parsis married to Parsis, intermarriages, unmarried and the youth. The demographic profile of the Parsis in Delhi tends to appear more in favour of the 30-50-year working group rather than the ageing picture seen elsewhere. In view of the fairly unique position held by the Delhi Parsis, a study was proposed to inquire into their migratory history, their current situation, and record their views and attitudes pertaining to various issues and problems facing the community.

According to Shernaz Cama, honorary director at Parzor, it was a qualitative study based on interviews.

An interesting aspect of the study revealed that the demographic profile of the Parsis of Delhi tends to appear more in favour of the working group of 30-50 years rather than the ageing picture seen elsewhere.

All those interviewed realized that the community is in flux and that someone must do something. However, very few were willing to be that someone, the study rued.

The study’s findings include:
— 40% of those interviewed had intermarried.
— Since 25 years, there has been an attempt at inclusiveness in the Delhi Parsi Anjuman.
— Youth of mixed marriages are predominantly closer to customs and lifestyle of the father’s faith.
— Among children of mixed marriages, the study found cultural differences caused confusion and led to contradictory religious identities.
— The exclusion of the non-Parsi parent from the Agiary has led to a decline in the zeal about their Parsi roots.


Jesus with beer and cigarettes in church journal sparks row

It is obvious that there has been a slip up.

The church has apologised and that should end the matter.

But will it?


Jesus with beer and cigarettes in church journal sparks row


Thiruvananthapuram: In what seems like a big faux pas that may snowball into a controversy, the official journal of a Catholic diocese in Kerala carried a picture of Jesus Christ with a beer mug in one hand and a cigarette in the other on the cover page of its June issue.

The picture, which has invited strong reactions from the Christian community in the state, appeared in the June 5 edition of ‘‘Vachana Jyotis’’ — the magazine published by diocese of Neyyattinkara, on the outskirts of the state capital.

Pushed on the back foot, the church has withdrawn the issue and stopped publication till further notice. Vincent Samuel, secretary to the local bishop, said ‘‘the mistake’’ had crept into the magazine as an oversight. ‘‘It happened without the knowledge of the clergy.

Both priests and laymen constitute the editorial board of the journal, but the former are concerned only with the content. Design and layout are done by laymen,’’ said Samuel. He added that no such error had ever occurred in the past 12 years of its existence.

‘‘The picture in question seems to have been downloaded from the internet and blown up,’’ he said, adding that ‘‘the publication of the journal has been suspended indefinitely’’. Asked if any action had been taken against any employee, he said since the magazine has stopped publishing, the employees are naturally out of job.

Fighting hard to hide the embarrassment, church officials refused to reveal the name of the magazine’s editor. As protests intensified, the diocese issued an apology and promised to look into the issue.


Child sold by a desperate mother

Boy sold for dad’s last rites

Woman sells infant to childless couple for Rs 10,000 to pay for ‘shraadh’

By Giridhar Jha in Patna

IT WAS a classic tale of poverty, ritualism and desperation. The tragedy was it was areal- life story. Awoman in Bihar sold off her son to a childless couple so that she could perform her husband’s last rites and take care of her remaining two children.

But police intervened and arrested all three, as well as a middleman, before the shraadh (obsequies) could be performed to bring peace to his soul. A resident of Chhotki Nawada in Gaya, Sudha Devi lost her husband Raj Kumar Shah in a train accident a few days ago. Sudha, who works as a domestic help, found it difficult to feed her two sons and a daughter. Extreme poverty forced her to borrow money for Shah’s cremation.

She was approached by Noormani Surdas, avisually- challenged man from a neighbouring locality. Surdas and his wife offered to pay Sudha Rs 10,000 for her youngest son —who is one- and- a- half months old. Sudha initially hesitated, but agreed when the couple promised to take good care of the child and bring him up as their own.

She thought the deal would help her clear the debt, conduct her husband’s shraadh, and bring up her eight- year- old son and three- year- old daughter. All three reached the local court to legally adopt the child on Monday.

But before they could formalise the procedure, officials from the Civil Lines police station in Gaya took them into custody. Officer- in- charge Chandrashekhar Prasad Sinha said child trafficking was illegal and arrested Sudha, the couple and amiddleman, Mithilesh Prasad. Sinha said all of them were produced before the court of the chief judicial magistrate from where they were taken to alocal jail on Tuesday. Sudha confessed to having sold her child.

“Ineeded money to clear the debt and observe my husband’s shraadh ,” she said. Sudha said she had been finding it difficult to feed her children after her husband’s death. “Iagreed to give away my child because Ithought he would lead abetter life in his new home,” she said.

Surdas and his wife said they decided to adopt the child as they had none to turn to in their old age. “We thought it would help both families,” Surdas said.

Though the police action evoked asharp reaction from local residents, the officials lauded themselves for performing their duty.
giridhar. jha@ mailtoday. in


DDA to cut 1000 trees in Chitaranjan Park in Delhi

Locals say DDA sports facility to cost 1,000 trees

By Mausam Sharma in New Delhi

THE RESIDENTS of NRI Complex colony near Jahanpannah Club are locking horns with the Delhi Development Authority, which is constructing a sports complex in DDA- owned Chittaranjan Park.

The park, say the residents, will be built at the cost of at least 1,000 trees. The ambitious DDA project involves a sports complex with world- class swimming pools, a cricket ground, squash and badminton courts, restaurants and other facilities.

The construction work for the Rs 753- crore project started one week ago. But the agitation of the residents had started when the foundation stone for the sports complex was laid in January last year. The residents of nearby colonies such as NRI Complex and CR Park are so attached to the park that they are not ready to swallow the idea of it being turned into asports complex.

“The park provides an essential green cover. We don’t want that green cover to be eaten up,” said Nanita Sharma, an advocate in the Supreme Court who stays in NRI Complex. She added that the residents will soon file aPIL in this regard in the high court. “We will file the PIL because this is aserious environmental issue and must be taken care of,” Sharma said.

“We are not against the sports complex. But that doesn’t mean we want our green cover to be taken away. And if the project is as ambitious as they say it is, trees are bound to be felled,” she said. Sharma added that they have asked the DDA officials time and again to try and construct the sports complex somewhere else.

The residents said the greenery in the area was the main reason they chose to settle down there. “We used to live in Shalimar Bagh, but shifted here last year. It was the peaceful and green environment that pushed us to buy ahome here. But what are we going to do now?” said Usha Sharma, a 60- year- old resident of NRI Complex.

he residents further feel there is another problem apart from the green cover –the ground gives children an opportunity to be close to nature when they play there in the evenings. “If a sports complex is built, it will cater only to elite children. And the children from middle class families who play there now will lose their .place,” said Jyoti Jain, who stays in NRI Complex.

The residents also point out that recreational centres such as the Siri Fort complex and other sports clubs are there nearby, so the felling of trees is uncalled for.

But when asked about the issue, the director of public relations in the DDA, Neemo Dhar, said, “There are no trees in the park. It has only shrubs.”
mausam. sharma@ mailtoday. in


Kerala Temples: Holiday Rush: Waiting for Darshan

Kerala Temples: Holiday Rush: Waiting for Darshan

Waiting for Darshan can be up to 4 hours in major temples like Guruvayoor.

Please make programs accordingly.

Holiday Season

Summer when the schools and colleges are closed.

Dusserah: when schools may close for a week or more

Chrismas and New Year: When schools may close for up to two weeks.

Waiting time for darshan at temples like Guruvayoor can last as much as 4 hours. Devotees should take note of this delay when making their program. Possibility of a second darshan is remote unless you stay over night.

In many temples like Guruvayoor there is a separate Que for ladies. Even so it can take up to an hour even for ladies.

Rush of pilgrims during the holiday season, has resulted in a massive number of devotees thronging to visit temples.

When Schools and colleges are  closed, and parents think it is an excellent time to take their children out. Movement of Keralite families especially from the north to south is at a peak during the summer holidays, when a visit to ‘native place, is a must.

Obviously a visit to Guruvayoor, Chottanikkara, Vaikom, etc are considered a must by most.


(The above is based on the personal experiences of Guruswamy SA Padmanabhan, and Shri Mohan Krishnan the Ed and their families who are regular visitors to Kerala)