A new beginning... part of my universe for 2010

Posted by Tandarin Nike Thursday, December 31, 2009 2:52 AM 0 comments
There are moments when I feel like someone smacked me upside the head and put my priorities in order. This is one of those times.

Nothing major or catastrophic happened. It's just that I woke up today and began to think about a few things differently.

When I think about what stresses me out, it's usually the worry over stability: job, house, money, bills, and on and on and on.

And you know what? None of that should matter as much as we make it so. Yes, we all need to live and pay the bills. But if it all fell apart one day, what is the worst that would happen? It would be rough and there would be tears and then... I bet we'd pick ourselves up and move on.

If I had those things with me that should matter most, that I should worry most about losing, are my family, my friends, then I bet I could make it work in the end.

I try very much to put things in the proper order. I try to focus on what is important. Sometimes I think I am doing such a good job only to realize my energy is spent keeping all the material aspects of my world in perfect order.

From now on, that is just not going to do. For me, it's time to shove the material aside and put more time into an alternate form of currency, make sure that part of my universe is in working order.

For me, I hope to find internal peace and stability through that instead.

Wish you all the same in the coming new year 2010.

It just takes a split second....for everything to go topsy-turvy...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Tuesday, December 29, 2009 10:02 PM 0 comments
Sometimes, on beautiful days like today, where the sun shines high and the sky burns the bluest blue, it is hard for me not to think back to another sunny and perfect day: November 26, 2008. It is not the actual details of that day that haunt me, though of course it is in my mind. It is more the feelings and thoughts in my own life.

On the way to my office that morning, while I admired the breathtaking brightness of the day, I rounded a turn in my Honda Civic and was met with a semi-truck barreling toward me, across the center line, in my lane. At just that minute my breath caught in my chest for that milli-second I wondered if we would collide - and then, the truck righted itself and continued safely past me.

There never appeared a serious threat, only that glitch in time when I didn't know if the truck would veer left or right, to safety or catastrophe. I inhaled in relief and thought, "That's how fast it happens. People die in those seconds. I wouldn't die like that, right? Because I believe I do live a charmed life. But, still, I bet the people who die in those seconds believe they too live a charmed life, right up to the moment of death. Wow. You just never know."

I got to my office safe and sound. Nevertheless, all the death on that day in the news, in the newspaper, reminded me repeatedly of my earlier experience: Right before something really bad happens, in a moment that separates life from the beyond, does everyone think it won't happen to them?

Because they too live a charmed life? When do you realize that, charmed life or not, things are not going to veer back to safety at the last second?

Before I went to sleep that night, I reached for a "dream journal" so that I might recount my thoughts on the day, detail what I learned about the realities of life. But I could not get beyond my own slight scare that morning, eons from where I was that night. I could not rectify what had happened a few hours after that, could not wrap my brain around the things I had seen on television, the stories I had heard, and how it all seemed eerily coincidental.

I still can't, except to say this: How mundane go the days when our reality shifts beneath us forever. Beautiful afternoons like this one are meant to be breathed in deeply and used as reminders to be grateful for the charmed lives we do indeed live.

And never to lose sight that sometimes things do change in a second.

Take care….

The law of Karma and relationships...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, December 27, 2009 1:31 AM 3 comments

In an episode of the movie “Sex in the City,” there was a quote that went something like this: “the person who pays for a bad past relationship is the person in your next relationship.” I agree totally, and I have this theory that your dating life is a cumulative experience i.e it maintains a grade-point average, and follows the Law of Karma.

Not that I strictly believe in the Law of Karma. I just think that the concept of karma is a nice and neat ideal. If enough people believe in karma,especially in present times, then the belief could reach critical mass and become sort of true.

What I’m talking about is if you are nice and respectful in any dating relationship, whether the liaison is turning out well or bad, then the whole cultural dating scene will benefit from ones mindful behavior toward the opposite sex. Hence, being sensitive and tactful even during a breakup can prevent the cycle of bitterness and revenge that you so often see with both men and women who’ve been harshly rejected.

The Law of Karma simply means that your mean behavior could come back at you. Right back at you, in the case of Instant Karma. There’s also Delayed Karma, where your bad (or good) karma catches up with you when you least expect it. I just don’t think that karma is an actual Law of Nature. But I do think it’s a good yardstick for behavior. If you believe that your actions have equal consequences, then you will hopefully take the time to behave counter to your selfish impulses, for your own sake, if not for the sake of others’ feelings and futures too. If everyone is worried about bad karma, then we can all relax our guard a little and trust each other more.

Revenge is much easier than forgiveness when you’re hurt, and (mental, not physical) revenge is often deserved. The problem is that, in the chain of relationships in a person’s life, so often the revenge that another person deserves is instead passed on to an innocent person whom you have just met. Then, that innocent person has less trust and more bitterness in his next relationship, and the cycle of bad dating karma has begun.
 
The Unfinished Business snowballs, and men and women start to hate each other. So, as you change partners, step back and look at the big picture and all the players involved, past, present, and future, before you act or speak.

People are quite fragile. Do handle them with utmost care.

Printers to aid transplants..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, December 26, 2009 3:13 AM 0 comments
We are nearly there. The good old printer technology can create items in 3D mode. And the best part is that the medical world has taken notice now.

Soon the world may see a technology that enables the 'printing' of artificial blood vessels for transplant. A San Diego company has been working on developing this technology with the initial goal being to, create an arterial graft for use in coronary bypass surgery.
"The long-term goal is to solve problems in medical therapy that can't be solved otherwise, especially in organ transplants, where tens of thousands of people are waiting for donated organs," said Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo. Invetech, a design and contract manufacturing firm, built Orgonovo's first 3D medical printer, in conjunction wi th Organovo.

"Building human organs cell-by-cell was considered science fiction not that long ago," said Fred Davis, President of Invetech, in a statement. "Through this clever combination of technology and science we have helped Organovo develop an instrument that will improve people's lives, making the regenerative medicine that Organovo provides accessible to people around the world."

Murphy added, "Scientists and engineers can use the 3D bio printers to enable placing cells of almost any type into a desired pattern in 3D. Researchers can place liver cells on a preformed scaffold, support kidney cells with a co-printed scaffold, or form adjacent layers of epithelial and stromal soft tissue that grow into a mature tooth. Ultimately the idea would be for surgeons to have tissue-on-demand for various uses, and the best way to do that is get a number of bio-printers into the hands of researchers and give them the ability to make three dimensional tissues on demand."

The technology involves using a robot to lay down cells in precise positions in three dimensions, accurate to within 20 microns. "It's similar to the way a laser printer prints by putting solid particles in place," Murphy told InformationWeek. The 3D medical printer puts down objects on 2D layers, one on top of the other. The particles used in the construction are made up of stem cells, formed into tiny spheres and cylinders.

The stem cells are available for research purposes from companies including Life Technologies and Invitrogen. When the device is used for treatment, cells will come from the patient's bone marrow, or fatty adipose tissues, where stem cells can be harvested.

One thing is for sure. This technology as well as other new uses to technology will surface within the next decade or so which will considerably improve the quality of life for very sick people today. The only thing
to do is to survive till then.

The Human Dimension....

Posted by Tandarin Nike Thursday, December 24, 2009 1:23 AM 0 comments
What kind of crazy messed up world do we live in where the wounded cut themselves, the lonely push people away, and the tired can't sleep?

Where people struggling to live are slowly killing themselves with too much food, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs? Where medicine is a killer.

Where there is more than enough food to go around, but innocent children starve to death daily because of greed. Where those who desperately want to be loved continue to settle for the empty, soul sucking opposite. Where religions cause pain rather than salvation. Where those who have been blessed choose to curse others.

We should be aware that we are all in the same boat, not one of us has a leg to stand on. Our pocket change could save lives, but we still keep it in a jar. We serve our fat stupid selves first, and then we put the pennies we have left over in the box at the McDonald's cash register... and that's supposed to clean our conscience?  Do we ever let our own hypocrisy sicken us?

Our self-serving society, with it's promise of wealth and comfort, has birthed nothing but pain for not only ourselves, but for innocents all over the world.

For ourselves, its in the form of depression, anxiety, addiction, complacency and a variety of mental illnesses. For the world, the pain we sow is in the form of starvation, disease and exploitation. Sure we don't have to see the kids face who makes our shoes. We don't have to see the kids who die of thirst and hunger and preventable disease... so we can live guilt free.

We say we want the truth, but we don't really want the truth. The truth is we are all guilty. Blood is on all of our hands.

Does this bother you? We put money in the hands of murderers, extortionists, and child abusers daily. Most of all, we put money into the greedy machine that forces it all to happen. Who is to blame? What is the source of these monstrosities? The market... the demand. Who is the demand?

We are.

Does this make you uncomfortable?

I hope your anxiety kicks in as you read this. I hope your depression flares... I hope your knee-jerk reaction to reach for a milkshake or a pill will cause you to realize that there is more to life than just you. We all need to learn that insulation is not the answer.

I hope you can't sleep tonight.

Just go out there and give......

Churros.... the taste still lingers on my tongue..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Monday, December 21, 2009 10:44 PM 2 comments
Churro .... try them if you get a chance


During my brief stint early 80's in the Canary Islands, I used to have this wonderful snack for breakfast. It goes so well with hot chocolate.

Churros, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut, are fried-dough pastry-based snacks, sometimes made from potato dough, that originated in Spain. They are also popular in Latin America, France, Portugal, the United States, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. The snack gets its name from its shape, which resembles the horns of the Churro breed of sheep reared in the Spanish grasslands of Castile.

There are two types of churros in Spain. One is thin (and usually knotted) and the other, especially popular in Madrid, is long and thick (porra). They both are normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate.

Preparation

Churros are typically fried until they become crunchy, and then are sprinkled with sugar. The surface of a churro is ridged due to having been piped from a churrera, a syringe with a star-shaped nozzle. Churros are generally prisms in shape, and may be straight, curled or spirally twisted.

Like pretzels, churros are often sold by street vendors, who often will fry them freshly on the street stand and sell them hot. In Spain, Mexico, and Argentina, they are available in cafes for breakfast, although they may be eaten throughout the day as a snack as evident in Nicaragua. Specialized churrerías can be found in the form of a shop or a trailer during the holiday period. In Colombia they can be found in the streets but they are thin and shaped like a ring.

The dough is prepared similarly to Choux pastry; water, butter and flour are heated and stirred into a firm ball, and then eggs are beaten into the hot paste.

Variations

In Andalusia, Spain, churros are made with deep-fried wheat flour and sold in spirals or wheels, which can be broken into edible portions after frying. These are generally called porras and calentitos or calientes, as opposed to the potato dough version made in the rest of Spain, also sold in the region but under the name Papitas or Calentitos de Patatas.

In parts of South East Spain, a much thinner dough is used which does not allow for the typical ridges to be formed on the surface of the churro. The final result has therefore a smooth surface and is more pliable and of a slightly thinner diameter than standard Spanish churros. Another difference is that sugar is never sprinkled on them as the flavour is not considered suitable.

With the increased popularity of Latin American food, today there are a growing number of franchise restaurants that sell fresh churros, both traditional and filled. For example, in March 2006, Australia saw the launch of Chocolateria San Churro, a Spanish chocolate inspired business, which currently has 18 outlets - and true to its name sell a variety of Churros based desserts. In October 2008, San Diego-based chain Jack in the Box added bite-size "Mini Churros" which are filled to its menu, sold in bags of five or 10.

Churros are similar to Youtiao, a type of bread in Chinese cuisine. After the Portuguese sailed for the Orient and returned from ancient China to Europe, they brought along with them new culinary techniques, including modifying the dough for Youzagwei also known as Youtiao in Northern China, for Portugal. However, they modified it by introducing a star design because they did not learn the Chinese skill of "pulling" the dough (the Chinese Emperor made it a crime with capital punishment to share knowledge with foreigners). As a result, the churros is not "pulled" but pushed out through a star-shaped cutter.

It is also a common breakfast dish, but it differs in that it is savoury rather than sweet.

"Churros" are simple fritters that look something like a big “French fry,” but taste nothing like one. They are the Spanish equivalent of doughnuts. Instead of a ring shape, like a doughnut, churros are long straight or slightly curled lengths that usually have ridges. Eaten while warm and sprinkled with sugar or drizzled with honey. They are quick and easy to make.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

• 1 cup white flour

• 1/4 tsp baking powder

• 1 cup water

• 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

• 1/8 tsp salt

• 1 tsp granulated sugar

• oil for frying

• several Tbsp granulated sugar to sprinkle or honey

This churros recipe makes 2-3 servings for breakfast. In case additional servings are needed, prepare in batches so churros are warm when served.

Pour vegetable oil, such as canola or corn oil into a large heavy bottomed frying pan. Make sure there is about 2 inches of oil in the pan to cover the churros. There should be enough oil so that they float freely while frying. Set pan aside.

In a medium sauce pan, pour 1 cup water. Add oil, salt, sugar and stir. Bring water to a boil.

While waiting for water to boil, dry the cup used to measure the water and use it to measure flour, since it is necessary to have equal parts flour and water. Pour flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add baking powder and stir.

Once water boils, remove saucepan and begin heating oil in frying pan.

Slowly pour boiling water from saucepan into flour mixture - stirring constantly with a fork until it is a smooth dough without lumps.

Note: Dough should not be runny like a batter, but rather a sticky smooth dough.

Spoon dough into a churrera (a large cookie press) or pastry bag.

Carefully squeeze dough into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spatula or long-handled fork. Place on a paper towel to drain.

Once drained, cut into manageable lengths. Sprinkle with sugar or drizzle with honey and serve.

The Spanish are known to be locos for chocolate, since they “discovered” it in the New World 500 years ago. As in centuries past, today the Spanish drink rich hot chocolate for breakfast, so thick that you can make a churro stand in it! If the only hot cocoa you’ve ever had is the kind made with powdered envelopes of mix and hot water, you won’t recognize this incredibly rich and flavorful drink. In fact, once you try the Spanish version of hot chocolate, you might be hooked!

There are two versions below - one that uses baking chocolate and one that uses sweetened chocolate.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

• Sweet Chocolate Version

• 2 8-ounce cups whole milk

• 4 ounces milk chocolate

• 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

• Baking Chocolate Version

• 2 8-ounce cups whole milk

• 3 ounces (3 squares) baking chocolate

• 1/3-1/2 cup sugar

• 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
With either type of chocolate, the process is almost the same:

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and add the cornstarch. Whisk to dissolve the cornstarch. Once the cornstarch is dissolved, heat the milk on medium heat just until it boils, then remove from heat. Add the chocolate squares immediately and begin stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. If the milk cools off too fast, place the pan back on the stove on low heat to melt the chocolate.

If you are using baking chocolate, which is unsweetened, pour the sugar into the chocolate milk mixture and stir until thoroughly dissolved.

Place the pan back on the stove on medium low heat, stirring slowly, but constantly. (Do not cook the mixture over high heat because it may cause lumping.) Taste the chocolate for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary.

The mixture should thicken quickly. As soon as you see it thicken, remove the pan from the heat so the cornstarch will not thin. Ladle immediately into cups and serve piping hot.

Note: Be sure to use a clean spoon every time you taste the chocolate. Enzymes from your mouth can cause a thickened cornstarch mixture to thin.

Yawn!! when you feel like it..

Posted by Tandarin Nike 12:35 PM 1 comments
I like to yawn. ... ... ...

When else do you really get to stretch your jaw muscles and open your mouth as wide as it goes, then inhale, maybe closing your eyes, maybe arching your back, and extending your arms, and even adding sound effects--all for a really satisfying six seconds of relief from boredom?

Why do we automatically cover our mouths when we yawn, at least when we yawn in public? Are we just trying to show the world that we’re not bored when we are bored? Yawning has been given an undeserved bad rap.

We are not supposed to yawn, especially at a meeting, lecture, date, or a performance because it reveals this: “I want to do something else.” I think that yawning is actually a polite way to signal to someone to stop boring you! The boring person is the rude one. Yawning is also, as most people have noticed, contagious.

A yawning “epidemic” can easily spread across a crowded lecture hall as fast as Instant Messaging!

According to a Hindu belief but also attributed to the “Old Wives” (those old wives with their many tales), when a person yawns, it gives his soul an opportunity to escape and go wandering. So you should cover your mouth when you yawn, they say.

And if you observe someone yawning, then, without delay, snap your fingers, and the sound of the snapping will stop the soul from its getaway, and it won’t want to leave the body. (This is similar to when a person sneezes and those around him wish him good health or “God bless you” because they think that during sneezing the soul flies out.)

In the Chicago Sun-Times, April 21, 2005: a juror was cited for contempt and fined $1,000 by a judge for yawning loudly while awaiting questioning in an attempted murder trial. The fine later was reduced to $100. The yawn came after the man had been sitting in a courtroom for two days as part of jury selection.

‘You yawned rather audibly there. As a matter of fact, it was to the point that it was contemptuous,’ Superior Court Judge Craig Veals said April 1.

‘I'm sorry, but I'm really bored,’ the juror said.”
Aside from boredom, tiredness, and “everyone’s doing it,” what really makes a person yawn? Oxygen debt was a popular theory that has been essentially disproven.

An alternative and interesting hypothesis, advanced by Andrew McKenzie of the University of Pretoria in the South African Journal of Science (1994) theorizes that yawning may air out the tonsils, as an attempt to keep them from getting infected; yawning may be the tonsil’s very own cleaning mechanism, similar to the reflexes used to clear other areas such as the nose (sneezing), lungs (coughing), eyes (blinking), and mouth (swallowing).

But what about the specific timing of our yawns? Can we now say “I’m not bored; I’m clearing out the germs from my tonsils.”

An individual can see someone yawn, and then he mimics the yawn without thinking much about it. Researchers recently found that yawning isn’t only contagious among humans but also among chimpanzees.
 
Why? Studies are inconclusive. But yawning does seem to be a basic, primitive reflex that we share with other species; dogs and other mammals do it, infants and even human fetuses do it, birds and reptiles and fish do it. The best idea is that it’s simply like any other stretching but of the face. It feels good.
 
Yawning flexes the joints and prepares you for a change in activity, and it even temporarily increases the heart rate and blood pressure and allows you to take a deep breath and rouse from your stupor. Yawning is your body’s way of suggesting that you change activities.
 
Well, I’d better stop going on and on before I get boring and make you yawn.

San Goan Paolo..... the name of the game

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, December 20, 2009 5:07 AM 0 comments
Two-timing, playing away from home, having a bit on the side, cuckolding, going behind your partner's back, adultery, infidelity... There are a lot of names for cheating on your partner, but most of them have the same outcome: a world of hurt.

Most of us recognise this type of plot: Dilp is married to Ash. One day, Dilp sees Mangy at a club and is attracted to her. Perhaps things haven't been going so well with Ash for some time. Maybe they just had a major fight and Dilp stormed off. Or maybe his marriage is perfectly healthy, and Dilp has no other excuse than his own selfishness/egotism/libido. Whatever the reason, Dilp flirts with Mangy, which eventually leads to a romantic relationship and the various things that entails. But here's the thing: Dilp doesn't tell Ash about it. He doesn't dump her, he doesn't tell her that he thinks the marriage is on the rocks, he doesn't even ask for "more space". He continues to play the part of her husband, and expects her to continue being his wife, hoping that Ash won't notice when he starts coming in late for dinner, or ask him about the mysterious expenditures on their joint account. Sometimes, just to really play Ash for a sucker, their marriage will seemingly start to improve— he buys Ash gifts, pays attention to her and seems much happier, but all the while he's running off to see Mangy.

Chances are he'll eventually get caught; if he didn't, the story wouldn't have the same dramatic impact. A lot of angst and tension will ensue instead.

Way back in the day, when marriage was considered permanent and divorce was a word whispered fearfully by gossiping old ladies, The Affair was a shocker of a storyline, and very often an automatic Moral Event Horizon for the cheating partner. However, it's worth noting that even further back in the day, the gods, goddesses and minor side characters of mythology listed "infidelity" under "Hobbies", didn't particularly care if their new "partner" was willing, and got away with it.

Well, the gods and goddesses did for the most part.

Not so the luckless mortals they seduced — they got the nasty side of the wronged wife's/husband's temper when the affair was discovered.

Nowadays, affairs are almost mandatory in any Soap Opera, and turn up an awful lot in other types of story as well. We don't really expect a fictional husband and wife to stay faithful to each other for forty or so years.

A solid marriage makes a boring story (though some would disagree). Often, a sequence of "get together -> one cheats -> they break up -> they make up -> someone cheats" (and so on) will be followed so often and so tiresomely that it becomes a Yoyo Plot Point.

Interestingly, our attitudes as viewers have changed towards cheating as well. For a start, what we define as cheating has changed. Kissing someone who wasn't your partner/spouse used to qualify, but now many are unsympathetic to a husband or wife who freaks out over "just a kiss" when they find their significant other lip-locked with a stranger; most people maintain that "an affair" has to involve sex.

Other examples that "don't count" include sleeping with someone else during a trial separation or other "bad patch" in the relationship, or one half of the destined Official Couple cheating on The San Goan Paolo with their true love. Don't expect the San Goan Paolo to get any sympathy.

A few rules usually hold true in fiction though: Women who cheat are generally portrayed much more sympathetically than men. The (male) big boss of any given workplace is practically obliged to be two-timing his wife. The protagonist remains sympathetic if they cheat, and becomes an innocent, wronged victim if they are the one being cheated on.

Bisexuals these days are shown as incapable of being faithful (though, it seems to be either that or merely informed sexuality), and men are more prone to having affairs than women.

Unfortunately, adultery is the truth and as many broken hearts.

Sad but True...... times have indeed changed.

Thats my practical side...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, December 19, 2009 2:10 AM 0 comments
I have been struggling with the practical side of perfection.

I have seen so many times having stuff that is too nice at that moment causes more grief than pleasure later on.

When we had two little kids, I concluded that it wasn’t worth getting so upset about all the things they broke or defaced. Sure, they had to learn to take care of things, but I didn’t have to go nuts trying to maintain possessions that are just too nice for kids. I just sighed and concluded that I wasn’t going to have anything nice for the next 20 odd years.

It has been more than 20 years now. I can have nearly any possession I want. During this time I have learned that there are very little additional value to having really fine stuff.

The real value in life is enjoying people and having a dedicated mission.

This philosophy affects my tastes in housing. While some folks around me obsess about imperfections in their finely finished woodwork, my house will be a little more rustic and perhaps a little less finished.

As a place to interact with life, my house will always be a work in progress, so forgive the imperfections please.

I will save obsessing and pursuit of perfection for my dedicated mission. More about it some day....

Uday at his best......

Posted by Tandarin Nike Wednesday, December 16, 2009 8:01 AM 0 comments
My good friend Uday once posed as an Insurance Agent, years ago when we were just out of college.

He was trying to induce a ‘Hard Man to Deal With’ to take out a policy on his house.

After listening to him for an hour, while he painted in vivid colours the extreme danger of fire consuming the house, the ‘Hard Man to Deal With’ said:

"Do you really think it likely that my house will burn down within the time that policy will run?"

"Certainly," replied the Insurance Agent; "have I not been trying all this time to convince you that I do?"

"Then," said the ‘Hard Man to Deal With’, "why are you so anxious to have your Company bet me money that it will not?"

The Agent was silent and thoughtful for a moment; typical of Uday, then he drew the other apart into an unfrequented place and whispered in his ear:

"My friend, I will impart to you a dark secret. Years ago, the Company betrayed my sweetheart by promise of marriage. Under an assumed name I have entered myself into its service for revenge; and as there is a heaven above us, I will have its heart's blood!"

The ‘Hard Man to Deal With’ dissapeared as fast we had found him at the relaxed situp in Juhu.. Mumbai.

Joe Bragenza's last act.....

Posted by Tandarin Nike 6:12 AM 0 comments

Joe Bragenza was dead: his lines in 'the tragedy "Man"' had all been spoken and he had left the center stage.



The body rested in a fine mahogany coffin fitted on the top with a large plate of glass.

All arrangements for the funeral had been so well attended to that had the deceased known he would doubtless have approved.

The face, as it showed under the glass, was not disagreeable to look upon: it bore a faint smile, and as the death had been painless, had not been distorted beyond the repairing power of the undertaker.

At two o'clock of the afternoon the friends were to assemble to pay their last tribute of respect to one who had no further need of friends and respect. The surviving members of the family came every few minutes to the casket and wept above the placid features beneath the glass. This did them no good; it did no good to Joe Bragenza; but in the presence of death reason and philosophy are silent.

As the hour of two approached the friends began to arrive and after offering such consolation to the stricken relatives as the proprieties of the occasion required, solemnly seated themselves about the room with an augmented consciousness of their importance in the scheme funereal.

Then the minister came, and in that overshadowing presence the lesser lights went into eclipse. His entrance was followed by that of the widow, whose lamentations filled the room. She approached the casket and after leaning her face against the cold glass for a moment was gently led to a seat near her son.

Mournfully and low the man of God began his eulogy of the dead, and his doleful voice, mingled with the sobbing which it was its purpose to stimulate and sustain, rose and fell, seemed to come and go, like the sound of a sullen sea. The gloomy day grew darker as he spoke; a curtain of cloud spread in the sky and a few drops of rain fell audibly. It seemed as if all nature were weeping for Joe Bragenza .

When the minister had finished his eulogy with prayer a hymn was sung and the pall-bearers took their places beside the bier. As the last notes of the hymn died away the widow ran to the coffin, cast herself upon it and sobbed hysterically. Gradually, however, she yielded to dissuasion, becoming more composed; and as the minister was in the act of leading her away, her eyes sought the face of the dead beneath the glass. She threw up her arms and with a shriek fell backward unconscious.
The mourners sprang forward to the coffin, the friends followed, and as the clock on the mantel solemnly struck three all were staring down upon the face of Joe Bragenza, deceased.

They turned away, sick and faint. One man, trying in his terror to escape the awful sight, stumbled against the coffin so heavily as to knock away one of its frail supports. The coffin fell to the floor, the glass was shattered to bits by the concussion.

From the opening crawled Joe Bragenza's cat, which lazily leapt to the floor, sat up, tranquilly wiped its crimson muzzle with a forepaw, then walked with dignity from the room.

That was me.... twenty seven years ago.....

Posted by Tandarin Nike Monday, December 14, 2009 8:42 AM 2 comments
The twenty seventh of January was my birthday. I figured the best way to celebrate was to strike up a conversation with someone I didn't know.
That would have been about ten a.m and it was a tuesday.

At the corner of Worli seaface and Century Bazar, I stopped a well-dressed sixty-year-old with a briefcase in his right hand and that certain uppitiness of lawyers and notaries.

"Excuse me, sir," I said, "could you please tell me how to get to the Shivaji Park?"

The man stopped, gave me the once-over, and asked a pointless question: "Do you want to go to the Shivaji Park, or to the Prabhadevi Park?"

"Actually, I'd like to go to the Shivaji Park, but if that's not possible, I'm fine with just about any place else."

"O.K., then," he said, eager to speak and without having paid any attention to me at all, "head that way" — he pointed north — "cross Bengal Chemicals, Prabhadevi, …"

I realized he was having fun ticking off the eight streets I'd have to cross, so I decided to interrupt:

"Are you sure about what you're saying?"

"Absolutely."

"Forgive me for doubting your word," I explained, "but just a few minutes ago a man with an intelligent face told me that the Shivaji Park was the other way" — and I pointed toward the Worlinaka.

The fellow could only reply, "Must be someone who's not familiar with the city."

"Nevertheless, like I said, he had an intelligent face. And naturally, I prefer to believe him, not you."

Giving me a stern look, he asked, "All right, tell me, why do you prefer to believe him instead of me?"

"It's not that I prefer to believe him instead of you. But, like I said, he had an intelligent face."

"You don't say! And I suppose I look like an idiot?"

"No, no!" I was shocked. "Who ever said such a thing?"

"Since you said that the other fellow had an intelligent face…"

"Well, truthfully, this man had a very intelligent look about him."

My sparring partner was growing impatient.

"Very well, then, Sir," he said, "I'm rather pressed for time, so I'll say good-bye and be on my way."

"That's fine, but how do I get to the Prabhadevi Park?"
His face betrayed a spasm of irritation.

"But didn't you say you wanted to go to the Shivaji Park?"

"No, not the Shivaji Park. I want to go to the Prabhadevi Park. I never said anything about the Shivaji Park."

"In that case," and now he was pointing south, "take that street and…"

"You're driving me crazy!" I protested. "Didn't you say before that I should head in the opposite direction?"

"Because you said you wanted to go to the Shivaji Park!"

"I never said anything about the Shivaji Park! How do I have to say it? Either you don't know the language, or you're still half-asleep."

The fellow turned red. I saw his right hand grip the handle of his briefcase. He said something that's better not repeated and marched off with rapid, aggressive steps.

I got the feeling he was a bit upset. Hehehehe..!!!!

A ray of sunshine... a gift from God above

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:03 AM 0 comments

For a few decades, exposing one's skin to the sun was seen as inviting skin cancer. But medical science has seen the light, and now recommends sunshine for good health.

Have you heard the concept that you can get Vitamin D from the sun?

Yes, it is true that humans can synthesize vitamin D3 in the skin, when exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from the sun. According to the institute, “sunlight exposure provides most people with their entire vitamin D requirement.” There are actually few foods that contain vitamin D, naturally. Yet, we have so many foods, like milk, cereals, breads and orange juice that are fortified with vitamin D.

Then, why do people still have vitamin D deficiencies if vitamin D is so readily available in the form of sunlight? Well, think of all those people who live in latitudes around 40 degrees north or 40 degrees south, for example Boston, Portland, Seattle,…In these places, from November until March, there is insufficient UVB radiation available for the skin to synthesis enough into vitamin D. Imagine living even 10 degrees farther north of south, where a “vitamin D winter” extends from mid-October to mid-March. Could this be the reason people don’t receive enough vitamin D? What about that people living below 40 degrees north or above 40 degrees south? Why would they have vitamin D deficiencies?

One growing impact on the production of vitamin D in the body is the use of sunscreen. Research says, “the application of sunscreen with an SPF factor of 8 reduces production of vitamin D by 95%.” Wow! What a predicament we have since sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer! Well, it all comes down to the notion of moderation.


According to Dr. Michael Holick, from Boston University, sun exposure of 5-10 minutes three times a week, during the spring, summer and fall, during the mid-day from 11am to 2pm, on the face and arms, will provide enough vitamin D for the individual. This sun exposure will also allow for storage of the excess vitamin D during the winter, when the UVB rays will not reach some areas. This is also recommended by the Linus Pauling Institute, which also advises healthy adults to take a daily multivitamin supplement containing vitamin D.

Vitamin D is important in many ways. Vitamin D helps maintain bone density, healthy bone growth and helps maintain the normal functioning of the nervous system. It is crucially important in aiding the body’s absorption of calcium. Without sufficient vitamin D, calcium supplements are almost useless. Vitamin D insufficiency is a contributing factor of osteoporosis, as calcium absorption cannot be maximized. It has also been found that having a higher intake of vitamin D can help lower certain cancer risks, such as breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.

Vitamin D can also play a role in preventing a more severe case of the seasonal flu. In addition sufficient levels of vitamin D are known to help prevent high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis and more.

Studies have shown that as many as 60% of us are deficient in vitamin D. Some common reasons for vitamin D deficiency are being overweight (vitamin D is fat soluble, it can be taken into fat cells and stored, thus making it potentially less available in our body's metabolism), being dark skinned (it takes more sunlight for your body to absorb the vitamin D) or simply due to your geographic area (you simply are not exposed to as much sun).

Light skinned individuals require 10 - 15 minutes of sunlight 2-3 times per week when the shadow you cast is shorter than you. In other words, the sun is high in the sky. Dark skinned individuals require one hour.

Fish such as salmon, shrimp and cod are an excellent to very good sources of vitamin D. If you are not likely to eat the amount of fish required to maintain a good vitamin D level, you may supplement with cod liver oil.

Eggs are another good source of vitamin D.

The only way to really know your vitamin D levels is to be tested. Your doctor can then interpret your vitamin D level and recommend dietary changes or supplements if necessary.

Here is a good article on the breast cancer/Vitamin D connection...

There's a paradigm shift going on in medicine as new research reveals a far greater role for vitamin D. Vitamin D is not just for kids—or the prevention of rickets. Optimal levels of Vitamin D (40–80 ng/ml) enhance the creation and functioning of healthy cells throughout the body.

In addition to protecting the bones and boosting the immune system, studies show that Vitamin D helps prevent certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, prostate and colorectal. Exciting new research shows that, in the United States alone, thousands of new cases of breast cancer could be prevented every year if more women had optimal levels of vitamin D.

A study conducted by Cedric Garland and other prominent vitamin D researchers determined that women with vitamin D levels above 52 ng/ml have half the risk of developing breast cancer as those with 13 ng/ml!

A simple blood test is all that's needed to find out your vitamin D level. Five years ago, a range of 20–100 ng/ml was considered normal. Just recently, this range was raised to 32–100 ng/ml. Make sure to ask your doctor what your actual vitamin D level is. Too often women are told that their levels are normal, which is not the same as optimal.

If you're deficient, the best way to boost your vitamin D quickly is to supplement with vitamin D3. Initially, you may need to take 5,000 IUs per day. After establishing a healthy level, supplementing with 1,000 to 2,000 IUs per day will suffice. It's hard to get all you need from food alone. Some healthy fish provides 300 to 700 IUs, but milk only provides 100 IUs per glass.

Lets get out in the open some times. Thrice a week 15-20 minutes walks along with supplements is a good bet to ward off any Vitamin D deficiency.

Here's wishing all of you a good sunny walk... stock up on your Vitamin D...

Climate change is a very serious issue and all of us have to do our bit...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Tuesday, December 8, 2009 12:02 PM 0 comments

Climate change has long-since ceased to be a scientific curiosity, and is no longer just one of many environmental and regulatory concerns.

As the United Nations Secretary General has said, it is the major, overriding environmental issue of our time, and the single greatest challenge facing environmental regulators.

It is a growing crisis with economic, health and safety, food production, security, and other dimensions.

Shifting weather patterns, for example, threaten food production through increased unpredictability of precipitation, rising sea levels contaminate coastal freshwater reserves and increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, and a warming atmosphere aids the pole-ward spread of pests and diseases once limited to the tropics.

The news to date is bad and getting worse. Ice-loss from glaciers and ice sheets has continued, leading, for example, to the second straight year with an ice-free passage through Canada’s Arctic islands, and accelerating rates of ice-loss from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Combined with thermal expansion—warm water occupies more volume than cold—the melting of ice sheets and glaciers around the world is contributing to rates and an ultimate extent of sea-level rise that could far outstrip those anticipated in the most recent global scientific assessment.

There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed. Ecosystems as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra, for example, may be approaching thresholds of dramatic change through warming and drying.

Mountain glaciers are in alarming retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have repercussions that transcend generations. Climate feedback systems and environmental cumulative effects are building across Earth systems demonstrating behaviours we cannot anticipate.

The potential for runaway greenhouse warming is real and has never been more present. The most dangerous climate changes may still be avoided if we transform our hydrocarbon based energy systems and if we initiate rational and adequately financed adaptation programmes to forestall disasters and migrations at unprecedented scales. The tools are available, but they must be applied immediately and aggressively.


If you've ever imagined or tried to imagine a tonne of CO2 in the atmosphere, now's your chance to see a visual depiction.

As the UN Climate Change Conference kicked off in Copenhagen this week, a giant multi-media art installation, intended to show what one metric tonne of carbon dioxide looks like, was unveiled on a lake in the Danish Capital.

Measured and stored at standard atmospheric pressure, one tonne of CO2 occupies a cube the size of a three-story building: 8.2m x 8.2m x 8.2m (27ft x 27ft x 27ft). This is the amount of CO2 the average person in an industrialized country emits each month.

The cube is constructed of 12 shipping containers stacked in an interlocking pattern on a custom engineered floatation barge. Two sides are covered with an architectural mesh fabric for video projection, while the other sides remain as open exposed shipping container surfaces and red, green, and blue (RGB) LED lighting system.

The use of shipping containers as the building blocks of the CO2 Cube reflects the idea of long term sustainability and recycling and re-use.

Mia Hanak, Executive Director, Millennium ART, which built the installation, explained that the project was twofold. "Carbon emissions are invisible to the human eye," she said. "On average a person in industrialized countries emits one metric tonne of CO2 per month. When people see what it means, it opens their minds," she said.

Every day 80 million tonnes (cubes) of CO2 are emitted worldwide. In one year, the average American releases 22.9 tonnes of CO2, the average European releases 10.6 tonnes of CO2, the average Sub-Saharan releases 4.5 tonnes of CO2 and the average Indian releases 1.8 tonnes of CO2.

The UN Climate Change Conference kicked off today in Copenhagen with a very strong sense of confidence that countries can seal this time around a comprehensive, ambitious and effective international climate change deal in Denmark.

Hope and pray an earnest effort is made by our representatives to seal a deal which will in course of time, reverse the greenhouse effect. This is the least we can do to ensure our survival for times to come.

The Incredible Solar Eclipse ... a lesson in humility..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Friday, December 4, 2009 3:32 AM 0 comments
A total *eclipse of the sun occurred on the 18th of February 1980.

Its greatest depth of shadow fell upon the Indian continent, somewhere about the latitude of 13 deg. I was then on a visit to my grand parents, at the home of my paternal family, among the Highlands of Chickmagalur, in that part of the country where the eclipse was most impressive.

My recollections of the great event, and the incidents of the day, are as vivid as if they had occurred but yesterday.


Hemavati river, the headwaters flowing from the Western Ghats***, lies as nearly as possible in latitude 13°0'59" North and 75°53'9" East.

Banakal, the village, which is the home of my ancestral family, is beautifully situated close to the river, in a valley lying between two nearly parallel ranges of heights, quite mountainous in character. The village is situated atop the Charmadi hills in the Western Ghats section. Banakal is surrounded by coffee estates and paddy fields and known for its pleasant weather throughout the year.

Throughout the belt of the country to be darkened by the eclipse, the whole population was in a state of almost anxious expectation for weeks before the event.

On the eve of 18th of February 1980, our family could think or talk of little else. We paced the broad hall of the elegant house, or sat about the front verandah, our conversation turned almost entirely upon the movements of planets and comets, occultations and eclipses. We were all exulting in the feeling that a grand and extraordinary spectacle awaited us. A spectacle which millions then living could probably never behold**.

There may have been a tinge of selfishness in the feeling that we were thus favored beyond others, and yet, I think, the emotion was too intellectual in its character to have been altogether unworthy.

Many were the prophecies regarding the weather that day, the hopes and fears expressed by different individuals, on this important point, as evening drew near. A passing cloud might veil the grand vision from our sight; rain or mist would sadly impair the sublimity of the hour. I was not myself among the desponding. The old antique barometer in the hall was carefully consulted. It was propitious. It gave promise of dry weather. Our last looks that night, before sleep fell on us, were turned toward the starlit heavens.

And the first movement in the morning was to the open large window, again to examine the sky. When I rose from my bed, in the early morning, I found the heavens serene, and cloudless. Day had dawned, but the shadows of night were still lingering over the valley. For a moment, my eye rested on the familiar view, the limpid river, with its setting of luxuriant woods and farms, its graceful bay and varied points, the hills where every cliff and cave and glen had been trodden a thousand times by my boyish feet along with my cousins, all this was dear to me as the face of a friend. And it appeared as if the landscape, then lovely in summer beauty, were about to assume something of dignity hitherto unknown.

Were not the shadows of a grand eclipse to fall upon every wave and branch within a few hours! There was one object in the landscape which a stranger would probably have overlooked, or might perhaps have called unsightly, but it was familiar to every eye in the village, and endowed by our people with the honors of an ancient landmark, the tall gray trunk of a dead and branchless jackfruit tree, which had been standing on the crest of the eastern hill, at the time of the beginning of the village, and which was still erect, though rocked since then by a thousand natural rains. To my childish fancy, it had seemed an imaginary flag-staff, or, in rustic parlance, the identity of some former generation; but now, as I traced the familiar line of the tall trunk, in its peculiar shade of silvery gray, it became to my eye the mast of some phantom ship. I remember greeting it with a smile, as this was the first glance of recognition given to the old ruin of the forest since my return.

But an object of far higher interest suddenly attracted my eye. I discovered a star, a solitary star, twinkling dimly in a sky which had now changed its hue to a pale grayish twilight, while vivid touches of coloring were beginning to flush the eastern sky. There was absolutely no other object visible in the heavens, clouds there was none, not even the lightest vapor. That lonely star excited a vivid interest in my mind. I continued at the window gazing, and losing myself in a sort of day-dream. That star was a heavenly body, it was known to be a planet, and my mind was filling itself with images of planets and suns. My brain was confusing itself with vague ideas of magnitude and distance, and of the time required by light to pierce the apparently illimitable void that lay between us, of the beings who might inhabit an orbit like that, with life, feeling, spirit, and aspirations like my own.

Soon the sun rose into view. I caught a glimpse of fiery light glowing among the branches of the forest, on the eastern mountain. I watched, as I had done a hundred times before, the flushing of the skies, the gradual illuminations of the different hills, crowned with an undulating and ragged outline of trees, nearly two hundred feet in height, the golden light gliding silently down the breast of the western ghats, and opening clearer views of grove and field, until river, valley, and village lay smiling in one cheerful glow of warm sunshine.

Our family assembled early. We were soon joined by friends and connections, all eager and excited, and each provided with a colored glass for the occasion. By nine o'clock the cool air, which is peculiar to the February nights in the village, had left us, and the heat of the sun filled the valley. The heavens were still absolutely cloudless, and a more brilliant day never shone in our own bright climate. There was not a breath of air, and we could see the rays of heat quivering here and there on the smooth surface of the river. There was every appearance of a hot noontide.

Me and my cousins left the house, and passed beyond the open grounds into the narrow and grassy street which lay between the numerous bricked houses and the river. Here there were no overhanging branches to obstruct the view; the heavens, the wooded mountains, and the limpid sheet of water before us, were all distinctly seen. As the hour for the eclipse drew near, our eagerness and excitement increased to an almost boyish impatience.

The elders of the village were discussing the details of some previous eclipse: leaving them to revive their recollections, I strolled away, through the small streets of the village. Scarce a dwelling, or a face, in the little town, that was not familiar to me, and it gave additional zest to the pleasure of a holiday at home, to meet one's townsfolk under the excitement of an approaching eclipse. As yet there was no great agitation, although things wore a rather unusual aspect for the busy hours of the day. Many were busy with their usual tasks, women and children were coming and going with pails of water, the broom and the needle were not yet laid aside, blacksmith's hammer and the carpenter's plane were heard in passing their shops.

Loaded lorries, and travellers in buses, were moving through the streets; the usual quiet traffic at the village counters had not yet ceased. A farm-cart, heavily laden with hay, was just crossing a small bridge, coming in from the fields, the driver looking drowsy with sleep, wholly unconscious of the movement in the heavens. The good people in general, however, were on the alert; at every house some one seemed to be watching, and many groups were passed, whose eager up-turned faces and excited conversation spoke the liveliest interest. It was said, that there were not wanting one or two philosophers of the skeptical school, among our people, who did not choose to commit themselves to the belief in a total eclipse of the sun, simply because they had never seen one.

I had scarcely returned to the family party, left on the watch, when one of my brothers, more vigilant, or with clearer sight than his companions, exclaimed that he clearly saw a dark line, drawn on the western margin of the sun's disc! All faces were instantly turned upwards, and through the glasses we could indeed now see a dusky, but distinct object, darkening the sun's light. An exclamation of delight, almost triumphant, burst involuntarily from the lips of all. We were not to be disappointed, no cloud was there to veil the grand spectacle; the vision, almost unearthly in its sublime dignity, was about to be revealed to us. In an incredibly short time, the oval formation of the moon was discerned. Another joyous burst of delight followed, as one after another declared that he beheld with distinctness the dark oval outline, drawn against the flood of golden light. Gradually, and at first quite imperceptibly to our sight, that dark and mysterious sphere gained upon the light, while a feeling of watchful stillness, verging upon reverence, fell upon our excited spirits.

As yet there was no change perceptible in the sunlight falling upon lake and mountain; the familiar scene wore its usual smiling aspect, bright and glowing as on other days of February. The people, however, were now crowding into the streets, their usual work was abandoned, forgotten for the moment and all faces were turned upward. So little, however, was the change in the power of the light, that to a careless observer it seemed more the gaze of faith, than positive perception, which turned the faces of all upward.

Gradually a fifth, and even a fourth, of the sun's disc became obscured, and still the unguarded eye could not endure the flood of light, it was only with the colored glass that we could note the progress of the phenomenon. The noon-day heat, however, began to lessen, and something of the coolness of early morning returned to the valley.

I was looking upward, intently watching for the first moment where the
dark outline of the moon should be visible to the naked eye, when an acquaintance passed. "Come with me!" he said quietly, at the same moment drawing his arm within my own, and leading me away. He was a man of few words, and there was an expression in his face which induced me to accompany him without hesitation. He led me to the village bus stand and from thence into an adjoining building and into a room then occupied by two persons. At a window, looking upward at the heavens, stood a figure which instantly riveted my attention. It was a man with haggard face, and fettered arms, a prisoner under sentence of death. By his side was the jailor.

A painful tragedy had been recently enacted in our little town. The schoolmaster of a small town closeby had beaten a child under his charge very severely, and for a very trifling error. The sufferer was a little girl, his own niece, and it was said that natural infirmity had prevented the child from clearly pronouncing certain words which her teacher required her to utter distinctly. To conquer what he considered the obstinacy of the child, this man continued to beat her so severely that she never recovered from the effects of the blows, and died some days after. The wretched man was arrested, tried for murder, condemned, and sentenced to the gallows.

It produced a very deep impression. The general character of the schoolmaster had been, until that evil hour, very good, in every way. He was deeply, and beyond all doubt unfeigned, penitent for the crime into which he had been led, more, apparently, from false ideas of duty, than from natural severity of temper. He had been entirely unaware of the great physical injury he was doing the child. So great was his contrition, that public sympathy had been awakened in his behalf and powerful petitions had been sent to the chief minister of the state, in order to obtain a respite, if not a pardon.

No dispatch was received, and there was every appearance that there would be no reprieve. The day arrived, throngs of people poured into the village, to witness the painful, and as yet unknown, spectacle of a man to be taken for execution.

In looking down, from an elevated position, upon the principal street of the village that day, it had seemed to me paved with human faces. The hour struck, the prisoner was taken from the jail. His look of utter misery was beyond description.

I have seen other offenders expiate for their crimes with life, but never have I beheld such agony, such a clinging to life, such mental horror at the nearness of death, as was betrayed by this miserable man. When he approached the gallows, he rose from his seat, and wringing his fettered hands, turned his back upon the fearful object, as if the view were too frightful for endurance.

The last prayer was offered, and his own fervent name of his god was still sounding, hoarse, beseeching, and almost despairing, in the ears of the crowd, when the respite made its tardy appearance. A short reprieve was granted, and the prisoner was carried back to the miserable cell from which he had been drawn in the morning.

Such was the wretched man who had been brought from his dungeon that morning, to behold the grand phenomenon of the eclipse. During the twelve-month previous, he had seen the sun but once. The prisons of those days were literally dungeons, cut off from the light of day. That striking figure, the very picture of utter misery, his emotion, his wretchedness, I can never forget. I can see him now, standing at the window, pallid and emaciated by a year's confinement, stricken with grief, his cheeks furrowed with constant weeping, his whole frame attesting the deep and ravaging influences of conscious guilt and remorse.

Here was a man drawn from the depths of human misery, to be immediately confronted with the grandest natural exhibition in which the Creator deigns to reveal his Omnipotence to our race. The wretched criminal, a murderer in fact, though not in intention, seemed to gaze upward at the awful spectacle, with an intentness and a distinctness of mental vision far beyond our own, and purchased by an agony scarcely less bitter than death.

It seemed as if, for him, the curtain which veils the world beyond the grave, had been lifted. He stood immovable as a statue, with uplifted and manacled arms and clasped hands, the very image of impotent misery and wretchedness. Perhaps human invention could not have conceived of a more powerful moral accessory, to heighten the effect of the sublime movement of the heavenly bodies, than this spectacle of penitent human guilt afforded. It was an incident to stamp on the memory for life. It was a lesson not lost on me.

When I left from there, a great change had taken place. The trees on the distant heights had lost their verdure and their airy character; they were taking the outline of dark pictures graven upon an unfamiliar sky. The lake wore a lurid aspect, very unusual. All living creatures seemed thrown into a state of agitation. The birds were fluttering to and fro, in great excitement; they seemed to mistrust that this was not the gradual approach of evening, and were undecided in their movements.

Even the dogs, honest creatures that they were became uneasy, and drew closer to their masters. The eager, joyous look of interest and curiosity, which earlier in the morning had appeared in almost every countenance, was now changed to an expression of wonder or anxiety or thoughtfulness, according to the individual character.

Every house now gave up its occupants. As the light failed more and more with every passing second, the children came flocking to their mothers in terror. The women themselves were looking about uneasily for their husbands. The Indian wife is more apt than any other to turn with affectionate confidence to the stronger arm for support. The men were very generally silent and tense. Many a laborer left his employment to be near his wife and children, as the dimness and darkness increased.

I once more took my position beside my family, before the gates of our own grounds. The sun lay a little obliquely to the south and east, in the most favorable position possible for observation. I remember to have examined, in vain, the whole dusky canopy in search of a single cloud. It was one of those entirely unclouded days, very rare here. The steadily waning light, the gradual approach of darkness, became the more impressive as we observed this absolutely transparent state of the heavens.

The birds, which a quarter of an hour earlier had been fluttering about in great agitation, seemed now convinced that night was at hand.

The usual flood of sunlight had now become so much weakened, that we could look upward long, and steadily, without the least pain. The sun appeared like a young moon of three or four days old, though of course with a larger and more brilliant crescent. Looking westward a moment, a spark appeared to glitter before my eye. For a second I believed it to be an optical illusion, but in another instant I saw it plainly to be a star. One after another they came into view, more rapidly than in the evening twilight, until perhaps fifty stars appeared to us, in a broad, dark zone of the heavens, crowning the heights of the western mountain. This wonderful vision of the stars, during the noontide hours of day, filled the spirit with singular sensations.

Suddenly one of my brothers shouted aloud, "The moon!" Quicker than thought, my eye turned eastward again, and there floated the moon, distinctly apparent, to a degree that was almost fearful. The spherical form, the character, the dignity, the substance of the planet, were clearly revealed as I have never beheld them before, or since. It looked grand, dark, majestic, and mighty, as it thus proved its power to rob us entirely of the sun's rays. We are all but larger children. In daily life we judge of objects by their outward aspect. We are accustomed to think of the sun, and also of the moon, as sources of light, as etherial, almost spiritual, in their essence.

But the positive material nature of the moon was now revealed to our senses, with a force of conviction, a clearness of perception that changed all our usual ideas in connection with the planet. Darkness like that of early night now fell upon the village.

I was recalled by a familiar and insignificant incident, the dull tramp of hoofs on the village road. A few cows, believing that night had overtaken them, were coming homeward from the wild open pastures about the village. And no wonder the kindly creatures were deceived, the darkness was now much deeper than the twilight which usually turns their faces homeward; the dew was falling perceptibly, as much so as at any hour of the previous night, and the coolness was so great that the thermometer must have fallen many degrees from the great heat of the morning. The lake, the hills, and the dwellings of the little town were swallowed up in the darkness. The absence of the usual scarce lights in the dwellings rendered the obscurity still more impressive. All labor had ceased, and the hushed voices of the people only broke the absolute stillness by subdued whispering tones.

We distinctly heard from the eastern bank of the river the wild, plaintive note of that solitary bird of night, slowly repeated at intervals. The song of the birds, so full in February, had entirely ceased for the last half hour. A bat came flitting about our heads. Many stars were now visible, though not in sufficient number to lessen the darkness. At one point only in the far distant northern horizon, something of the brightness of dawn appeared to linger.

At twelve minutes past eleven, the moon stood revealed in its greatest distinctness, so nearly obscuring the sun that the face of the great luminary was entirely and absolutely darkened, though a corona of rays of light appeared beyond.

The gloom of night was upon us. A breathless intensity of interest was felt by all.

A group of silent, dusky forms stood near me; one emotion appeared to govern all. My father stood immovable, some fifteen feet from me, but I could not discern his features. Three minutes of darkness, all but absolute, elapsed. They appeared strangely lengthened by the intensity of feeling and the flood of overpowering thought which filled the mind.

Thus far the sensation created by this majestic spectacle had been one of humiliation and awe. It seemed as if the great Father of the Universe had visibly, and almost palpably, veiled his face in wrath. But, appalling as the withdrawal of light had been, most glorious, most sublime, was its restoration! The corona of light above the moon became suddenly brighter, the heavens beyond were illuminated, the stars retired, and light began to play along the ridges of the distant mountains. And then a flood of grateful, cheering, consoling brightness fell into the valley.

I can liken this sudden, joyous return of light, after the eclipse, to nothing of the kind that is familiarly known. It was certainly nearest to the change produced by the swift passage of the shadow of a very dark cloud, but it was the effect of this instantaneous transition, multiplied more than a thousand fold. It seemed to speak directly to our spirits, with full assurance of protection, of gracious mercy, and of that Divine love which has produced all the glorious combinations of matter for our enjoyment.

It was not in the least like the gradual dawning of day, or the actual rising of the sun. There was no gradation in the change. It was sudden, amazing, like what the imagination would teach us to expect of the advent of a heavenly vision. I know that philosophically I am wrong; but, to me, it seemed that the rays might actually be seen flowing through the darkness in torrents, till they had again illuminated the forest, the mountains, the valley, and the river with their glowing, genial touch.

There was another grand movement, as the crescent of the sun reappeared, and the moon was actually seen steering her course through the void. Planet Venus was still shining brilliantly.

This second passage of the moon lasted but a moment, to the naked eye. As it ceased, my eye fell again on the scene around me. The street, now as distinctly seen as ever, was filled with the population of the village. Along the line of road stretching for a mile from the valley, against the side of the mountain, were twenty busses bearing travellers, or teams from among the hills. All had stopped on their course, by unconscious reverence, as much as by curiosity, while every face was turned toward heaven, and every eye drank in the majesty of the sight. Women stood in the open street, with streaming eyes and clasped hands.



Even the educated and reflecting men at my side continued silent in thought. Several minutes passed, before the profound impressions of the spectacle allowed of speech. At such a moment the spirit of man bows in humility before his Maker.

Men who witness any extraordinary spectacle together, are apt, in after-times, to find a pleasure in conversing on its impressions. But I do not remember to have ever heard a single being freely communicative on the subject of his individual feelings at the most solemn moment of the eclipse.

It would seem as if sensations were aroused too closely connected with the constitution of the spirit to be irreverently and familiarly discussed. I shall only say that I have passed a varied and eventful life, that it has been my fortune to see earth, heavens, a river, and man in most of their aspects; but never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly manifested the majesty of the Creator, or so forcibly taught the lesson of humility to man as a total eclipse of the sun.

***The Western Ghats is one amongst twenty-five identified hot spots for biodiversity conservation in the world.
**The last similar total solar eclipse was witnessed on 22nd January 1898.
*This article is part fiction and is inspired by an english novel on the same subject.