Sunday, February 28, 2010
Capsule Hotel, Netherlands: a hotel made out of a survival pod
Your own survival pod! Escape pod hotel in a city centre dock location. Moored in The Hague , your room is a bright orange survival pod which once saw service on an oil rig platform. Originally built in 1972 they are 4.25 metres in diameter and unaltered apart from the addition of a lock on the outside and an ‘emergency' chemical toilet inside. While not everyone's luxury choice, each pod provides cosy protection from the elements for up to three occupants.
First created for accommodation as an art project in 2004, owner Denis Oudendijk has 8 different models ready for use and is currently working on additional locations in central Amsterdam and Nantes , France .
Everland, Paris: a hotel which parks in unusual places with amazing views
Everland is a hotel with only one room including a bathroom, a king-size bed and a lounge. What makes it so different is that - because it is also an art installation - this hotel travels! The Everland has been ‘parked' in the most unsual places, like the roof-deck of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig, Germany, or the roof of Palais de Tokyo (with a spectacular view on the Eiffel Tower) in Paris.
Considering how unique a night in this hotel is, the price is not so crazy: you can get the only room and the unique view for 333 Euros during the week, 444 Euros during the weekends.
Hôtel de Glace, Canada – an ice hotel opened only during winter
Made entirely of ice and snow, this unique one-story structure has been rebuilt each year since 2000. The 9th season of the Ice Hotel lasted from January 4th through March 29th 2009. The Ice Hotel has become an unparalleled and world-famous winter experience. It takes 5 weeks, 500 tons of ice, and 15,000 tons of snow to craft the Ice Hotel with its ceilings as high as 18 feet, walls covered with original artwork and furniture carved from ice blocks.
Waterworld Hotel, China – an amazing aquatic themed hotel
Atkin's Architecture Group won first prize for an international design competition with this stunning entry. Set in a spectacular water filled quarry in Songjiang , China , the 400 bed resort hotel is uniquely constructed within the natural elements of the quarry. Underwater public areas and guest rooms add to the uniqueness, but the resort also boasts cafes, restaurants and sporting facilities.
Sala Silvergruva, Sweden: a single room hotel inside a silver mine
Picture this A single suite, 155m underground in historic Sala Silvermine, one of the world's best preserved mine settings. (During its heyday, production amounted to more than 3 tons of silver a year and a total of more than 400 tons of silver and about 40,000 tons of lead were extracted - completely by hand!) If you wake up in the middle of the night and have to use the bathroom, make sure you turn right or else you'll end up exploring dark winding galleries, vast caverns and magic lakes.
Das Park Hotel, Austria: a hotel where rooms are made of concrete pipes
A hotel with rooms made of giant concrete sewage pipes might sound a little odd, but this artistic creation can be recreated to provide cheap lodging anywhere. These 9,5 tonne concrete sections are a standard item in near all concrete factories and the oden floors, a really comfortable double bed, minibar and room service through to 1am. For night owls, the reception is open 24hrs. With the amazing view below there is little else needed, except if you're staying in bed past 10am, when pajamas would be a wise thing to wear, as although you can look out - tourists can look in
The De Vrouwe van Stavoren Hotel , Netherlands : a hotel made from recycled wine barrels
The De Vrouwe van Stavoren Hotel in the Netherlands salvaged four wine casks from Switzerland and converted them into rooms. Formerly filled with 14,500 liters of Beaujolais wine from the French chateau, each now holds a modest two-person room with standard amenities and even an attached bathroom and a sitting room.
The one thing that might bother you, if you're not a wine enthusiast, is the smell of wine that the barrels still maintain. All in all the Barrel Hotel, in Stavoren, northern Netherlands , makes for a very pleasurable experience. General rates for a cask room are from 74-119 Euros a night with discounts of up to 75% off depending on season. If you go in the wintertime, a wine cask room can be as low as 18 Euros a night, cheaper than most hostels.
Giraffe Manor , Kenya : a hotel where you dine with a friendly giraffe
This small and exclusive hotel -- surrounded by 140 acres of indigenous forest just outside Nairobi -- is famous for its resident herd of giraffe. It's the only place in the world where you can enjoy the experience of feeding and photographing the giraffe over the breakfast table, at the front door or while you dine, and the giraffes poke their heads through the window.
As well as the giraffe, the property is also home to many species of birds, large families of warthogs and the elusive Bush Buck.
Rising high above Cologne , this international luxury hotel was once the largest water tower in 19th century Europe . In 1990, French designer Andrée Putman transformed it into an elegant 78-room hotel.
Classified as a heritage site, the timeless modern design still manages to preserve the water-tower architecture and a sense of refuge and protection.
Jumbo Hostel ( Stockholm ): World's First Aircraft Inn
Stockholm is the house of this wacky hotel, the first aircraft inn. An abandoned Boeing 747 jumbo jet has been saved from being trashed metal to become a 25-room hotel sited in Stockholm-Arlanda airport. Each room is bare 65 square ft big and furnished with bunk beds, overhead luggage storage and flat-screen TVs. There is a reception area and a cafe with toilets and showers at the rear of the aircraft, which means that you will have to share! The upper deck is a conference room and the best of all, the cockpit, is where the wedding suite is housed. Not a very comfy hotel I would think, but staying there just to get a feel of it might be cool.
I suppose these crazy trends started with the hippy generation when it became fashionable to wear torn, dirty outlandish clothes with long uncombed hair, unbrushed teeth pots of pot to go with it.
At least the above crazy hotels look decent compared to thsoe and it makes the owners richer by giving cheaphotel rooms.
Sent by Desmond
Eulogising milestone man Sachin Tendulkar for his historic One-Day International double hundred, India's star off-spinner Harbhajan Singh reckons his illustrious team mate is better than Australian great Sir Don Bradman.
Harbhajan could not witness the record-breaking double century as he skipped the first two matches of the series due to his sister's wedding.
"I am short of words to praise Sachin. Some players compared him with Don Bradman. Although I have not seen Bradman playing but I am confident, he (Sachin) is better than him for which his records speak," Harbhajan said on Saturday.
Why do we always get into an argument as to who is better.
Why can't we aceept that every person lives in his time and he is the best under the circumstances.
Situations differ, oppositions differ, crowds differ and these change with time.
So comparing persons living in different ages is unfair to both.
It only give matter to the media to publish and raise controversies and arguments and counter arguments and improve their circulation.
Cheers & a ‘Happy Holi’ ALL (Lots of Colors)!!!
Breakfast at Glenary's is a de rigueur ritual for visitors to Darjeeling, and the aroma of freshly baked croissants lured me in. I recognise a familiar face at one of the tables, Kathmandu musician and RJ Yanni Shrestha with an American friend. "Have you seen the headlines?" Yanni asks, holding up the Kolkata paper which screamed: 'Horror in the Hills: 4 Tourists Die in Cable Car Plunge'. From the photos it looked a bit like the one in Manakamana. "We'd been riding on it just the day before, and we both thought it looked a bit shaky!"
At the time, between Dasai and Tihar, Darjeeling was packed shoulder to shoulder with Indian tourists, mostly boisterous Bengalis. There were very few foreign backpacker types as in Nepal. And aside from Glenary's, there are precious few restaurants catering to Western tastes. Unlike Dharamsala, which sees many foreigners, Darjeeling, despite its more spectacular scenery and trekking trails, isn't quite on the Muesli Trail. Hence, no banana pancakes, cheese toasties, salads, brown rice or brown bread on the menus here.
Later, after breakfast, I meet with Ajay Edwards, the 30-something Nepali owner of Glenary's. He's the main organiser of the upcoming Darjeeling Carnival, 7-17 November. It will feature a Harmony in the Hills music festival. Being a Baby Boomer generation ex-Flower-child, I couldn't help noticing and mentioning that the wavy lettering in the posters resembles what we termed 'psychedelic' back in the 60s. Edwards grins and intimates that they'd welcome a Woodstock-type gathering of bands for which Darj already has a reputation amongst Nepali pop music aficionados.
Despite his English name, Edwards says he is a "pure Nepali" mix of Pradhan and Lepcha. His grandfather, having served in the British army, took on an English name. Edwards tells me with a sardonic grin, "Ironically, the day we invited all the Kolkata media for the carnival press conference was the day of the ropeway tragedy-so we got all this negative press." But unflappable, optimistic Edwards must feel that any publicity is good publicity so long as they spell the names right.
As he pours me a cup of Apoorva Tips tea, he suggests that I write about the Happy Valley Tea Estates, as this year is its centennial, which is being celebrated as part of the carnival. The Darjeeling tea industry has fallen on hard times. "But," he hastens to add, "this is both a curse and a blessing. Although it provided employment, it has always been a hand-to-mouth existence." The average salary for a tea plucker is only IRs 200 per week, less than a spot of high tea with watercress sandwiches at Darjeeling's Windamere Resort, which costs IRs 800.
Even as we sip the finest Darjeeling organic tea, Edwards refers to the tea plantation work as "bondage" to the tea estate. When the British founded Darjeeling, it was totally uninhabited. Like America, it was populated by immigrant labourers: (predominantly) Nepalis, Lepchas, Tibetans and a few Bhutanis as well. So there were no traditional Hindu caste restrictions, and due to the British influence, Darjeeling became more egalitarian than other parts of caste-conscious India and Nepal.
A few days later, I was invited to one of the planning sessions of the carnival. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the organisers-all from the private sector-are mostly hip, young professionals with an enthusiastic sense of civic pride, something which is conspicuous by its absence in Kathmandu. Also absent in Darjeeling is pollution (vehicles are banned from the touristic, pedestrian Mall area, as should be done in Thamel), the streets are swept clean daily and some of the street lighting actually work.
Aside from the Happy Valley centenary celebrations, which begins the carnival, the many events include a kite-festival, pony pageant, dog show, orchid shows, para-sailing, white-water rafting, a Darjeeling Run and a vintage Land Rover Rally which will be covered by the BBC. Each evening will conclude with bands and musical cultural performances on the Mall overlooking (well, not quite overlooking) majestic Kanchenjunga. Visitors will be garlanded with khatas and presented with packets of Darjeeling tea.
Even when there is no carnival, on weekends the Darjeeling Police band, dressed in tartans, plays martial tunes on bagpipes at the bandshell and promenades around the Mall. However, for Raj nostalgia buffs, such as your reporter, it is surprising that with so many historic Raj-era buildings here, there doesn't seem to be any heritage conservation society. One old building near the Planters' Club is slated to be demolished for a new shopping complex.
For expats feeling constrained by Nepal's 150-day maximum annual stay for tourists, more liberal India wisely allows six-month stays per visit and offers five to 10-year visas. For those unable to make the Darjeeling Carnival, the Queen of the Hills is also hosting the Dalai Lama between 3-6 December for dharma talks. That is sure to draw Tibetans and dharmaphiles, as His Holiness will not be giving the Kala Chakra initiations next January in Bodh Gaya, as he usually does.
Friday, February 26, 2010
General Electric's (GE) response:
Thanks for contacting us. I will be happy to assist you. The e-mail that you received is correct. Microwaved water and other liquids do not always bubble when they reach the boiling point. They can actually get superheated and not bubble at all. The superheated liquid will bubble up out of the cup when it is moved or when something like a spoon or tea bag is put into it. To prevent this from happening and causing injury, do not heat any liquid for more than two minutes per cup. After heating, let the cup stand in the microwave for thirty seconds before moving it or adding anything into it.
Sent by Arun Shroff.
You may have read this somewhere else or in our blog itself.
However we tend to forget.
It is better to be safe than sorry and err on the side of caution.
So remember the above the next time when you use a micro-wave.
I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.
'And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'
Remember...Just going to church doesn't make you a
Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.
Every saint has a PAST...
Every sinner has a FUTURE!
Sent by Desmond
Taking a new line to push his son-of-the-soil campaign, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has decided to hit the streets for a new state law which will deny a non-Maharashtrian possession of any land under irrigation.
In a letter written to mark the Marathi Language Day on February 27 — and a copy of which is with The Indian Express — Raj Thackeray stated that following the “successful agitations” for conducting railway examinations in Marathi and making taxi-drivers learn Marathi, he and his party have decided to press for a legislation which will ensure that land under irrigation is not given to a non-Maharashtrian.
His letter to party leaders in Mumbai will be distributed to the public on Saturday.
“Apart from the ongoing Marathi language agitation, my party will begin a new agitation to ensure that land under irrigation is given only to Maharashtrians. The Maharashtra government should pass a resolution to this effect,” Thackeray stated in the letter.
Taking it a step further, he said existing non-Maharashtrian land holders should be compelled to have Maharashtrian partners. “Those non-Maharashtrians who have bought land in the state in the past will now have to have Maharashtrian partners and stakeholders. The legislation should be applicable to all previous transactions as well.”
I have said earlier, this mad man should be put behind bars or better still shot in an encounter.
Such divisive statements which are harmful to the unity of India should be put down with an iron hand.
India is one and anyone should be allowed to own land anywhere in India.
He wants to create small Kashmirs everywhere.
Such type of laws were passed after independence to protect the adhivasis from being cheated.
Trying to get those laws passed for general population is just for self aggrandisement as we know the imbecile is a land broker and he would like to have his fingers in all pies.
LIFE INSURANCE : A contract that keeps you poor all your life so that you can die rich.
NURSE : A person who wakes you up to give you sleeping pills.
MARRIAGE : It's an agreement in which a man loses his bachelor degree and a woman gains her masters..
DIVORCE : Future tense of Marriage.
TEARS : The hydraulic force by which masculine willpower is defeated by feminine waterpower..
LECTURE : An art of transferring information from the notes of the Lecturer to the notes of the students without
passing through "the minds of either"
CONFERENCE : The confusion of one man multiplied by the number present.
COMPROMISE : The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybody believes he got the biggest piece.
DICTIONARY : A place where success comes before work.
CONFERENCE ROOM : A place where everybody talks, nobody listens and everybody disagrees later on.
FATHER : A banker provided by nature.
CRIMINAL : A person no different from the rest
...except that he/she got caught.
BOSS : Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.
POLITICIAN : One who shakes your hand before elections and your Confidence after.
DOCTOR : A person who holds your ills by pills, and kills you by bills.
CLASSIC : Books, which people praise, but do not read.
SMILE : A curve that can set a lot of things straight.
OFFICE : A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.
YAWN : The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.
ETC. : A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.
COMMITTEE : Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.
EXPERIENCE : The name men give to their mistakes.
ATOM BOMB : An invention to end all inventions.
PHILOSOPHER : A fool who torments himself during life, to be wise.
Sent by S K Basu.
I suppose all the definitions are valid.
Sean Paul Kelley is a travel writer, former radio host, and before that an asset manager for a Wall Street investment bank that is still (barely) alive. He recently left a fantastic job in Singapore working for Solar Winds, a software company based out of Austin to travel around the world for a year (or two). He founded The Agonist, in 2002, which is still considered the top international affairs, culture and news destination for progressives. He is also the Global Correspondent for The Young Turks, on satellite radio and Air America.
Reflections on India By Sean Paul Kelley
If you are Indian, or of Indian descent, I must preface this post with a clear warning: you are not going to like what I have to say. My criticisms may be very hard to stomach. But consider them as the hard words and loving advice of a good friend. Someone who’s being honest with you and wants nothing from you. These criticisms apply to all of India except Kerala and the places I didn’t visit, except that I have a feeling it applies to all of India, except as I mentioned before, Kerala. Lastly, before anyone accuses me of Western Cultural Imperialism, let me say this: if this is what India and Indians want, then hey, who am I to tell them differently. Take what you like and leave the rest. In the end it doesn’t really matter, as I get the sense that Indians, at least many upper class Indians, don’t seem to care and the lower classes just don’t know any better, what with Indian culture being so intense and pervasive on the sub-continent. But here goes, nonetheless.
India is a mess. It’s that simple, but it’s also quite complicated. I’ll start with what I think are India’s four major problems–the four most preventing India from becoming a developing nation–and then move to some of the ancillary ones.
First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don’t know how cultural the filth is, but it’s really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump. Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India. Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight. Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one’s health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads. The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum–the capital of Kerala–and Calicut. I don’t know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India’s productivity, if it already hasn’t. The pollution will hobble India’s growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small ‘c’ sense.)
More after the jump..
The second issue, infrastructure, can be divided into four subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere in India. Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the electricity they actually pay for. With out regular electricity, productivity, again, falls. The ports are a joke. Antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the days of longshoremen and the like. Roads are an equal disaster. I only saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand, much less Western Europe or America. And I covered fully two thirds of the country during my visit. There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed, much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A drive that should take three takes nine. The buses are at least thirty years old, if not older. Everyone in India, or who travels in India raves about the railway system. Rubbish. It’s awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance now, leaving travelers stranded with little option except to take the decrepit and dangerous buses. At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India. 50 million people! Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people are common now. The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the overutilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit. Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia, Israel and the US I guess.
The last major problem in India is an old problem and can be divided into two parts that’ve been two sides of the same coin since government was invented: bureaucracy and corruption. It take triplicates to register into a hotel. To get a SIM card for one’s phone is like wading into a jungle of red-tape and photocopies one is not likely to emerge from in a good mood, much less satisfied with customer service. Getting train tickets is a terrible ordeal, first you have to find the train number, which takes 30 minutes, then you have to fill in the form, which is far from easy, then you have to wait in line to try and make a reservation, which takes 30 minutes at least and if you made a single mistake on the form back you go to the end of the queue, or what passes for a queue in India. The government is notoriously uninterested in the problems of the commoners, too busy fleecing the rich, or trying to get rich themselves in some way shape or form. Take the trash for example, civil rubbish collection authorities are too busy taking kickbacks from the wealthy to keep their areas clean that they don’t have the time, manpower, money or interest in doing their job. Rural hospitals are perennially understaffed as doctors pocket the fees the government pays them, never show up at the rural hospitals and practice in the cities instead.
I could go on for quite some time about my perception of India and its problems, but in all seriousness, I don’t think anyone in India really cares. And that, to me, is the biggest problem. India is too conservative a society to want to change in any way. Mumbai, India’s financial capital is about as filthy, polluted and poor as the worst city imaginable in Vietnam, or Indonesia–and being more polluted than Medan, in Sumatra is no easy task. The biggest rats I have ever seen were in Medan!
One would expect a certain amount of, yes, I am going to use this word, backwardness, in a country that hasn’t produced so many Nobel Laureates, nuclear physicists, imminent economists and entrepreneurs. But India has all these things and what have they brought back to India with them? Nothing. The rich still have their servants, the lower castes are still there to do the dirty work and so the country remains in stasis. It’s a shame. Indians and India have many wonderful things to offer the world, but I’m far from sanguine that India will amount to much in my lifetime.
Now, have at it, call me a cultural imperialist, a spoiled child of the West and all that. But remember, I’ve been there. I’ve done it.. And I’ve seen 50 other countries on this planet and none, not even Ethiopia, have as long and gargantuan a laundry list of problems as India does. And the bottom line is, I don’t think India really cares. Too complacent and too conservative.
Great men think alike.
The above was sent by Viv Goves and Peter Remedios.
I suppose I couldn't fault the author on his observations.
But, yes, we are trying to do something,led by Swami Ramdeo, in his fight against corruption.
One thing Mr Kelley has not mentioned and which is the main cause of the problems mentioned by him -UNCHECKED GROWTH IN POPULATION.
Whatever gains we make in other areas will be nullified by the galloping increase in population.
This our leaders are not realizing - for Vote bank Politics.
In the earlier government we had a minister who had 10 children so we understood the cabinet is ashamed to raise the topic for offending the minister. But, now, with the minister out of the way, I do not understand why the government is not taking action.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
This is from an open letter in a UK paper to a local politician. The writers name was withheld by the paper.
Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London
16 July 2009
Dear Secretary of State,
My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the “not rearing pigs” business.
In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavor in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.
As I see it, the hardest part of this program will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven’t reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?
My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is – until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.
If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding
myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?
Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tones of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don’t rear?
I am also considering the “not milking cows” business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?
In view of the above you will realize that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.
Sent by Prakash Bhartia.
I am sure we in Bengal would outstrip the rest of India in receiving allowance for not working
Thanks to the CPM
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Manohar Lal, TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 09.22pm IST
RANCHI: The transfer of income tax director (investigation) Ujjwal Chaudhary has been stayed by the Jharkhand High Court on Tuesday. He was heading the investigation of the money laundering scam involving former chief minister Madhu Koda and others.
Hearing the interlocutory petition on the public interest litigation filed by Durga Oraon in connection with the disproportionate assets (DA) case of Koda and former ministers demanding a stay on the transfer of Chaudhary, a division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice R R Prasad, ordered a status quo on the transfer for three weeks.
The court also asked Oraon to file another petition challenging the transfer of Chaudhary, who was shifted on February 19 and specify the allegations. Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Reetu Kumar argued that the official was transferred within seven months of taking charge and was responsible for raids in over 140 locations, which unearthed undeclared assets worth several crores.
Claiming that the official's transfer was malicious in design, Kumar alleged that it was done at the behest of those involved in the scam. She said the last director (investigation) S C Jha had served for three years before being transferred and added that Chaudhary's transfer at this stage would certainly affect the probe.
The HC then asked the I-T department counsel to explain why the transfer should not be stayed to which he failed to give a satisfactory reply, merely saying it was a "routine transfer". The Bench observed that it was difficult to digest that the transfer of an official in just seven months was a routine transfer.
Chaudhary was transferred from director (investigation) to commissioner (central) by the Central Board of Direct Taxes on February 19.
It was under his supervision that joint teams of I-T and Enforcement Directorate raided 69 places on October 31, last year, including the residences of Koda and managed to unearth a multi-billion money laundering scam. Similar raids were carried out at over 70 locations of several serving and former government officials, inlcuding chief minitser Shibu Soren's personal secretary Manohar Lal Paul and two former state electricity board chiefs, by the I-T department alone on February 16 this year and undeclared assets of over Rs 100 crore were found. Chaudhary was camping in Chaibasa that day when he was given the marching orders.
Hearing the main petition of the DA case, the Bench asked the ED to file a status report on the findings made so far by March 16 and why the case should not be handed over to CBI for further investigation.
Oraon had demanded a CBI probe into assets acquired by former ministers Enos Ekka, Harinarayan Rai, Kamlesh Singh, Bandhu Tirkey, Bhanu Pratap Sahi and Dulal Bhuiyan as well as Koda and his associates, Binod Sinha and Sanjay Choudhary. He had also demanded a CBI probe into the assets of water resources minister Chandraprakash Choudhary. Oraon had alleged in his petition that all these ex-ministers had amassed huge wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income while holding office.
On the 21st I had posted under the heading "Politicians at their old game" how the government was transferring Ujjwal Chowdhary as he was getting too close for comfort of some of the politicians.
We are now seeing that the High Court has stayed his transfer.
Let us hope he is allowed to investigate thoroughly and have the guilty punished.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I have just received the following message from Br. Beddoe
Kindly Pass on this very important bit of news to ex-GMS boys.
Br. Rigney passed away just yesterday in Ireland.
He taught some of us in class nine in 1964 and later returned as Principal of GMS.
Many of the old boys would have great memories of Brother during his term as Principal.
I am here in Nainital and often read your messages.
With best wishes,
We all should support Raj Thackeray and take his initiative ahead by doing more...
1. We should teach our kids that if he is second in class, don't study harder.. just beat up the student coming first and throw him out of the school
2. Parliament should have only Delhiites as it is located in Delhi
3. Prime-minister, president and all other leaders should only be from Delhi
4. No Hindi movie should be made in Bombay . Only Marathi.
5. At every state border, buses, trains, flights should be stopped and staff changed to local men
6. All Maharashtrians working abroad or in other states should be sent back as they are SNATCHING employment from Locals
7. Lord Shiv, Ganesha and Parvati should not be worshiped in our state as they belong to north ( Himalayas )
8. Visits to Taj Mahal should be restricted to people from UP only
9. Relief for farmers in Maharashtra should not come from centre because that is the money collected as Tax from whole of India , so why should it be given to someone in Maharashtra ?
10. Let's support kashmiri Militants because they are right to killing and injuring innocent people for benefit of their state and community......
11. Let's throw all MNCs out of Maharashtra , why should they earn from us? We will open our own Maharashtra Microsoft, MH Pepsi and MH Marutis of the world .
12. Let's stop using cellphones, emails, TV, foreign Movies and dramas. James Bond should speak Marathi
13. We should be ready to die hungry or buy food at 10 times higher price but should not accept imports from other states
14. We should not allow any industry to be setup in Maharashtra because all machinery comes from outside
15. We should STOP using local trains.... Trains are not manufactured by Marathi manoos and Railway Minister is a Bengali
16. Ensure that all our children are born, grow, live and die without ever stepping out of Maharashtra , then they will become true Marathi's
Sent by Arun Shroff
Now, using a name such as Udhav for Bal Tahckeray's son is an insult to the original Udhav who was Lord Krishna's emissary who went to explain to the Gopis in Brindavan the long absece of Krishna from among their midst.
While one was a minstrel of peace, the other is a rabble rousing politician rousing enemity between races.
Sent below by Ashok Mirchandani is Rajdeep Sardesai's letter written to Udhav.
Of course, politicians being so thick headed and thick skinned, I have my doubts whether it will have any affect on him, his father or his cousin.
It is in the Congress's interest to keep them divided so that it gains electorally.
It will just encourage them to be more virulent to expose them.
At the very outset, my compliments for the manner in which you've literally 'stolen' the headlines from your cousin Raj in the last fortnight. After the assembly election defeat last October, there were many who had written you off as a weak, namby-pamby politician, who would be better off doing photography. But now, it seems that the 'fire' which burns inside Bal Thackeray is alive in the son too. After years of struggling to establish yourself, you have finally discovered the mantra for success as a Shiv Sena leader: find an 'enemy', threaten and intimidate them, commit the odd violent act, and, eureka!, you are anointed the true heir to the original 'T' company supremo.
Your cousin has chosen to bash faceless taxi drivers and students from north India, soft targets who are totally unprotected. You've been much braver. You've actually chosen to target national icons: Sachin Tendulkar, Mukesh Ambani, Sharukh Khan, powerful figures who most Indians venerate. Sharukh is no surprise since the Sena has always been uncomfortable with the Indian Muslim identity. Forty years ago, your father had questioned Dilip Kumar's patriotism for accepting an award from the Pakistani government. You've called Sharukh a traitor for wishing to choose Pakistani cricketers in the IPL. That your father invited Javed Miandad, the former Pakistani captain and a close relation of Dawood Ibrahim, to your house is a matter of record that we shall not go into today.
I am a little surprised that you chose to question Ambani and Tendulkar though. The Sena has always enjoyed an excellent relationship with corporate India. Why then criticise India's biggest businessman for suggesting that Mumbai belongs to all? After all, no one can deny that Mumbai's entrepreneurial energy has been driven by communities from across India. The diatribe against Sachin is even more strange. He is, alongwith Lata Mangeshkar, Maharashtra's most admired and recognized face. Surely, you will agree that Sachin symbolizes Maharashtrian pride in a manner that renaming shops and streets in Marathi never can.
Of course, in-between some of your local thugs also attacked the IBN Lokmat office. I must confess that initially the attack did leave me outraged. Why would a political outfit that claims to protect Maharashtrian culture attack a leading Marathi news channel? But on reflection I realized that we hadn't been singled out: over the last four decades, the Shiv Sena has targeted some of Maharashtra's finest literary figures and journalistic institutions. That you continue to live in a colony of artists while attacking artistic freedom remains one of the many tragic ironies in the evolution of the Sena.
Just before the assembly elections, you had told me in an interview that you were determined to shake off the Shiv Sena's legacy of violence. You spoke of the need for welfarist politics, of how you were saddened that rural Maharashtra was being left behind. I was impressed by the farmer rallies you had organized, by the fact that you had documented farmer suicides in the state. I thought that Udhav Thackeray was serious about effecting a change in Maharashtra's political landscape.
I was obviously mistaken. Farmer suicides still continue, the after-effects of drought are still being faced in several districts, but the focus is now squarely on finding high profile hate figures. You claim to have a vision for Mumbai. Yet, on the day the Sena-controlled city's municipal corporation's annual budget revealed an alarming financial crisis, your party mouthpiece, Saamna, was running banner headlines seeking an apology from Sharukh Khan. You asked your Shiv Sainiks to agitate against Rahul Gandhi's visit to Mumbai, but why have you not asked them to wage a war against the water cuts that have made life so difficult for millions in the city?
At one level, I can understand the reasons for your frustration. The Congress-NCP government in the state has been thoroughly incompetent: the last decade has seen Maharashtra decline on most social and economic parameters. Yet, the Shiv Sena has been unable to capture power in the state. Your war with cousin Raj has proved to be self-destructive. The assembly election results showed that a united Sena may have offered a real challenge to the ruling alliance. In fact, the Sena and the MNS together garnered around 43 per cent of the popular vote in Mumbai-Thane, almost seven per cent more than what was obtained by the Congress-NCP combine. Yet, because your vote was split, you won just nine of the 60 seats in the region, a result which proved decisive in the overall state tally.
Your defeat seems to have convinced you that the only way forward is to outdo your cousin in parochial politics. It's a strategy which has undoubtedly made you a headline-grabber once again. Unfortunately, television rating points don't get you votes or goodwill. There is space in Maharashtra's politics for a regional force, but it needs to be based on a constructive, inclusive identity.
Tragically, the Shiv Sena has never offered a serious social or economic agenda for the future. Setting up the odd wada pav stall in Mumbai is hardly a recipe for addressing the job crisis . Why hasn't the Sena, for example, started training projects to make Maharashtrian youth face upto the challenges of a competitive job market? Why doesn't the Sena give regional culture a boost by supporting Marathi theatre, literature or cinema? The wonderful Marathi film, "Harishchandrachee Factory", nominated for the Oscars, has been co-produced by Ronnie Screwvala, a Parsi, who like millions of other 'outsiders' has made Mumbai his home. Maybe, I ask for too much. Tigers, used to bullying others for years, will never change their stripes.
Post-script: Your charming son, Aditya, who is studying English Literature in St Xaviers College, had sent me a collection of his poems. I was most impressed with his writing skills. Lets hope the next generation of the T company will finally realize that there is more to life than rabble-rousing!
Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra
Monday, February 22, 2010
Though we always enjoy goodhearted banter, sometimes urban legends become so popular that they are taken for facts. Just last week I sent out the following after so many people kept sending me the julie Andrews thing, that I actually began to feel old!
Thanks for your posts.
Here is one for your boys:
A Little Poem Regarding Computer Spell Checkers...
Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.
Subject: Why English
Teachers Die Young
Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit
their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found
in high school essays.
These excerpts are
published each year to the amusement of teachers.
Here are last year's
1. Her face was a perfect
oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking
alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience,
like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse
without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes
around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers
of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and
he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound
a dog makes just before it throws up.
6. Her vocabulary was as
bad as, like, whatever.
7. He was as tall as a
six-foot, three-inch tree.
8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had
disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as
a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.
9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly
the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a
Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene
had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on
vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots
when you fry them in hot grease.
14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers
raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight
trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55
mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket
fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.
16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two
hummingbirds who had also never met.
17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap,
only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil.
But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get
from not eating for a while.
22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck,
either, but a real duck that was actually
lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended
one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids
around with power tools.
25. He was deeply in love.
When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were
a garbage truck backing up.
Comments: If most of these fractured bon mots seem too clever to have been accidentally conceived by high school
essayists, that's because they weren't. They were entries in a
long-running Washington Post contest launched in 1993 called
"The Syle Invitational. "
Among other literary challenges, readers have been invited to
compose intentionally humorous similes and metaphors, often c
entered around particular themes. Most of the examples above
were published in 1995 and 1999.
Parody of the song 'My Favorite Things' targeted to elderly
people was allegedly sung by Julie Andrews at an AARP benefit
on the singer's 69th birthday in October 2004.
Description: Poem parody
/ Email hoax
Circulating since: 2001 (or earlier)
Status: NOT performed by Julie Andrews
Fwd: Favorite Things
To commemorate her 69th birthday on October 1, actress/vocalist
Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio
City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP. One of the musical
numbers she performed was "My Favourite Things" from the
legendary movie "Sound Of Music."
However, the lyrics of the song were deliberately changed
for the entertainment of her "blue hair" audience....
Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.
Cadillacs and cataracts and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.
When the pipes leak,
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.
Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,
These area few of my favourite things.
Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.
When the joints ache,
when the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.
Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that
lasted overfour minutes and repeated encores.
Analysis: This parody of Rodgers and Hammerstein' s "My Favorite Things" from the Broadway musical and screen
adapation of The Sound of Music was never sung by
Julie Andrews --indeed, it is quite possible she is not even
aware of its existence. The actress/singer turned 69 on
October 1, 2004, but she did not perform at Radio
City Music Hall that year, nor at any publicized benefit
for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Composed anonymously, the parody itself dates back to 2001
(at least), when variants popped up on the Internet
(example #1, example #2) prefaced with statements like
"Imagine hearing Julie Andrews singing this."
It appeared in a Dear Abby column dated March 10, 2002
accompanied by the claim that Andrews had altered the
lyrics herself and sang them at a concert for AARP,
though the column predated the alleged 69th birthday
performance by two years. "The rewritten lyrics
are a hoot," replied Abby, "but I doubt that Julie Andrews ever
More to the point, Andrews lost her singing voice after
undergoing throat surgery in 1997 and has rarely sung live in public since.
Ashok R. Mirchandani, Consul Gen. Hon.de l'Inde 081BP7100.COTONOU. BENIN. +229-21385220 , 21380724 http://www.consul. cc/consul. php/749/HCG- IN-BJ www.hicomindlagos. com
Well, it does make you feel deflated, doesn't it?
But it was a pleasure to watch the young children who had grown up to be handsome and beautiful.
Of course the pictures could also not be a joke.
You never know, with these computer playing tricks.
But thinking about it, more than 90% of the jokes puported to be the dialogues of famous personalities may not have been said at all. It may just have been the imagination of the joke composer who wanted to add the name of some famous personalities just to attract people.
Have you ever noticed the personalities in the joke change with
the persons reciting or listening to the jokes?
Like you will hear the same jokes and dialogues with situations
of Akbar/Birbal in Hindi and Gopal Bhanr and Raja
Krishnachandra in Bengali and Tenaliram in Tamil.
Or say GBS, Mark Twain or Winston Churchill or our own Sardar
Ballabh Singh or Santa and Banta are all interchangeable.
The scotsman, Irishman and Jewish jokes are interchangeable
with the Sardarji, Marwari and Bengali jokes,
Jokes have no barriers or language.
One famous jokester on hearing a very good joke from another jokester remarked,"Laurel, I wish I had said that"
Laurel replied, " You will,Bob, you will"
Now, in the above, I have just added the name of Bob and Laurel and given a personality to the joke. The personality of Laurel of Hardy fame and Bob Hope.
See, how simple, it is?
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Feb. 20: Bengal police have blackened their own face, leaving the chief minister with little option but to pick up the broom.
An officer as senior as a special inspector-general of police today sought refuge behind a veil of black cloth and appeared before the media to blame a junior officer over the Maoist massacre of policemen in Shilda.
“I had repeatedly told the superintendent of police about the poor infrastructure at the camp and the need to shift it to a better place. But he paid no heed…. The EFR personnel could not retaliate properly because many civilians could have died,” Eastern Frontier Rifles special inspector-general Benoy Chakraborty said.
That the location of the camp hampered the policemen is no secret. But never before has a police boss appeared in public the way Chakraborty did — apparently to ensure that the Maoists did not recognise him when he ventured out — and rarely has such a senior officer spoken out in public against an officer lower in rank.
Television channels across the country beamed the masked face, below which his uniform and EFR epaulettes were visible, drawing sniggers and making the police leadership look ridiculous, especially in the wake of the Shilda fiasco.
Late tonight, sources close to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was in Birbhum during the day, said he had decided to take action against Chakraborty.
The first step is expected to be suspension. “An IPS officer cannot be suspended at night. Besides, the papers need the signature of the home minister (in this case the chief minister as he holds the home portfolio, too). Otherwise, action would have been taken this evening itself,” a source said.
Senior officers said they were not aware of any formal orders to take action against Chakraborty but they also conceded that punishment appeared unavoidable.
The EFR special IG’s accusation came soon after another blame game over Monday’s massacre of 24 EFR policemen. Yesterday, Bengal police chief Bhupinder Singh had exploded in anger after the home secretary’s statement that he had intelligence regarding a rebel build-up near the camp. The home secretary today sought to downplay that incident.
But the special IG opened another flank in West Midnapore. Sitting in his office at the EFR headquarters in Salua, near Kharagpur, Chakraborty said the camp was set up “unprofessionally in a crowded place, making it extremely difficult” for EFR personnel to function.
“CRP jawans came here to stay a few months ago, but they left the camp the next day because of the unprofessional location of the camp,” added the officer, his eyes visible above the black cloth.
With a black bandana complementing the veil, Chakraborty said that though he had visited EFR camps in Bankura and Purulia, he couldn’t go to a single one in West Midnapore as “the SP did not spare the time” to accompany him.
West Midnapore SP Manoj Verma refused to comment but some senior officers took exception to Chakraborty’s outburst.
“Why did he need the SP to accompany him to visit the EFR camps?” asked one. “He could have done it on his own. What stopped him?”
Chakraborty also accused the district police of not being “bothered” about how the EFR policemen were living in the camp in a hostile terrain. “Our EFR personnel are the best force in Bengal, but they have been misused in an unprofessional manner,” he said.
Despite the drawbacks, Chakraborty said, his men had managed to kill five of the attackers. “I feel proud of them, they fought bravely,” he said.
The sources said the chief minister and other senior officials had found three grounds to act against Chakraborty.
One, the IG was wrong in claiming that the SP had to accompany him. Two, no officer can blame a junior in public. Three, it was unbecoming of an IG to hide behind a veil as he is not an undercover officer.
Have you seen such a sight?
We have heard of criminals hiding from the police but here we have an officer of the rank of IG hiding his face so that the Maoist do not see his face and attack him.
Such is the situation in Bengal has landed after 40 years of uinterruped rule by the Left Front and CPM.
The CPM has reduced the police force to a wing of the party which is used to only put down the opposition. No qualification was required to join the police force only you have to be a supporter of the party.
They did not have to undergo any training. Only training given was to stand outside the rooms of Ministers and see that the common man did not come very near them. For Jyoti Basu, the distance was 100 metres. Nobody was allowed to go within 100 meters of his house.HE WAS THE ULTIMATE PEOPLE'S LEADER.
We have been seeing the result.
Outside the American Embassy they ran away with tails between legs to save their skins when it was attacked.
In Lalgarh they could not enter until the central forces came.
Now in Shilda, where they were massacred like sitting ducks with their pants down.
And to top it all, this interview of the top police officer of the state, wearing a protective cover to hide his face.
It is not the IG who should resign but the government of Buddhadev Bhattacharya who have reduced the police to such a pitiable state.