The Origin of 8 Famous Phrases…

We use phrases, expressions, and proverbs on a daily basis when conversing with each other. Whether you’re at home, hanging out with some friends, or at work, chances are that you’ve uttered one of the phrases below more than once in your life. But, do you ever stop to think about what these expressions really mean? Where they come from? The answer to this is probably no, so let’s take a look at 8 common phrases and learn where there came from.

1. It’s Raining Cats and Dogs

Houses used to have thatched roofs. These roofs had thick straw piled together to form a ceiling, but there was no wood underneath.

So how did this phrase come about? Well, according to a popular theory, on cold nights, animals such as cats, dogs, mice, and rats would climb onto these roofs in order to have a warm place to sleep. Unfortunately, when it started to rain, the thatched roofs got so slippery that cats and dogs would slip and fall off the roofs. Therefore, when it rained heavily, it would literally rain cats and dogs (and whatever other animals were on the roofs).

2. Mad as a Hatter

The average person will probably tell you that this famous expression comes from Alice in Wonderland, but they’d be sorely mistaken. The Mad Hatter character isn’t the reason you use this phrase when describing someone who has lost their mind.

The true origin goes back to the days when actual hatmakers used mercury to construct their hats. The mercury poisoned the hatmakers and affected their nervous systems. Mercury causes aggressive, heavy mood swings, and erratic behavior and, as a result, “mad hatter’s disease” became the nickname for mercury poisoning, and the expression has been popular ever since.

3. Cat Got Your Tongue?

This is often used when someone is silent or at a loss for words. Surprisingly though, it has nothing to do with cats. In the English navy, punishments were handed out in the form of a flogging, which was carried out with a whip known as a cat-o’-nine-tails.

This was a formidable weapon, and the pain from being flogged by it was so bad that it caused its victims to go mute. They would often be afraid to speak and would often remain mute for a long time after a flogging.

Drunken navy sailors would then walk around shouting, “Cat got your tongue?” as a way of taunting the victims. So, next time you’re rendered speechless because someone made a really good point, remember that it could be a lot worse.

4. Bring Home the Bacon

There are a number of theories as to where this phrase comes from, but the two most popular include pigs.

According to one theory, this phrase comes from winners at state fairs bringing home the greased pigs they caught in competitions. However, the more popular theory is that highly successful men back in the day would buy pork, cook some bacon, and then hang it on their walls when they had guests over. This showed everyone how successful the men were. Walking into a man’s house and seeing bacon hanging on the wall meant that he was to be respected. In this particular case, bringing home the bacon was the ultimate sign of power and class.

5. Eat Crow

Usually, we have to “eat crow” when we’ve been proven wrong after taking a strong stance on something.

The expression originates from where you’d expect. Crow meat tastes bad and is hard to swallow. The simple connection to this term can start and end here, but there’s an even more interesting origin story.

Back in 1812, an American accidentally went hunting across British enemy lines. The US soldier was caught shooting and killing a crow by a British soldier. As punishment, the British soldier, after praising the American for his accurate shooting, tricked him into giving up his gun.

Now armed, the Brit pointed the gun at the American and forced him to take a bite out of the crow. After the American complied, he was given back his gun. Angered, the American then turned the gun on the British soldier and forced him to eat the rest of the bird.

6. On Cloud Nine

It’s often thought that this is a reference to Heaven, but this is not true.

According to one known origin of this expression, one of the classifications of clouds, defined by the US Weather Bureau in the 1950s, is known as “Cloud Nine.” This is a type of fluffy, cumulonimbus type of cloud.

So, what makes this cloud so special? Well, this cloud is considered to be the most attractive in the cloud community, which is what gives the phrase it’s positive connotation.

7. Crocodile Tears

For those who may not know, this expression refers to someone who is faking crying or pretending to be upset. When they do this, they are said to be shedding crocodile tears.

Did this phrase come about because crocodiles never cry? Well, no, the origin is a lot more interesting than that. In an ancient anecdote, Photios claimed that crocodiles cry to strategically lure their prey closer to them. When the prey is close enough, the crocodiles drop the act and go in for the kill.

8. Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

This strange expression goes all the way back to the 1500s. Believe it or not, but people in the 16th century only bathed once a year, and to make matters worse, entire groups used to bathe in the same water.

The men would go first, then the women, and then the children and babies went last. The water was so dirty by the time the babies got in, that they often came out clouded. Sometimes, mothers had to make sure that the babies weren’t literally thrown out with the dirty bathwater.

The phrase, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” now means that you should make sure you don’t throw out anything valuable while getting rid of unnecessary things. Nothing is more valuable than a newborn baby, so the phrase still rings true even to this day.

Source: listverse  

http://www.ba-bamail.com

Natarajan

Images: depositphotos

 

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The Buddhas of Bamiyan….

 

On the cliff face of a sandstone mountain, visible from the ancient Silk Road near the town of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, are two massive voids left by two monumental statues of Buddha that once stood there. In 2001, the nearly 1,500 year old statues were blown to bits by the Taliban in an act of violence that shook the entire world, and set a disturbing precedent which has been imitated in recent years by Islamic State fighters in the Middle East.

For a long time, Buddhism was an important religion in the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia, having been introduced during the early Kushan period, in the 1st century. Along the Silk Road, on which Bamiyan lies, are several Buddhist monasteries, chapels and sanctuaries constructed inside caves carved into the mountains. In several of the caves and niches, often linked by galleries, there are remains of wall paintings and seated Buddha figures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 175 feet high Buddha statue in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, destroyed in 2001. Photo credit: Afghanistan Embassy

The two most prominent figures were the giant Buddha statues destroyed in 2001. The larger of the two stood 175 feet tall, and was one of the largest standing Buddha carvings in the world. The second figure was also enormous and measured 120 feet in height. Both figures were carved into niches of the cliff side in high relief. The main bodies were hewn directly from the sandstone cliffs, but details were modeled in mud mixed with straw, coated with stucco. This coating had worn away a long time ago, but in the early days, it served to enhance the expressions of the faces, hands, and folds of the robes. Both statues were originally painted—the larger one in carmine red and the smaller one in multiple colors. The area near the heads of both Buddha figures and the area around the larger Buddha’s feet were carved in the round, allowing worshippers to walk around as a form of worship.

Much of what we know about the monumental Buddha sculptures comes from the travelogue of the Chinese monk Hsuan-Tsang, who traveled to Bamiyan in the 7th century. Hsuan-Tsang described Bamiyan as a flourishing Buddhist center “with more than ten monasteries and more than a thousand monks”. He also noted that both Buddha figures were decorated in “dazzling golden color and adorned with brilliant gems”. Historians believe that the monumental Buddha sculptures were carved into the cliffs between the 3rd to 6th centuries A.D. They were perhaps the most famous cultural landmarks of the region attracting numerous pilgrims from all around.

After the Islamic invasion in the 9th century, the presence of a large Buddhist cultural icon in Afghanistan greatly disturbed the Muslim rulers. The 17th century Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, and the 18th century Persian king Nader Afshar, both tried to destroy the statues by using heavy artillery but failed to inflict any noticeable damage. It was the Afghan king Abdur Rahman Khan who eventually managed to destroyed its face.

In 2001, the leader of the Taliban movement ordered that all statues and non-Islamic shrines in the different areas of the Islamic Emirate must be destroyed. Accordingly, in March the same year, Taliban fighters laid explosives at the base and the shoulders of the two Buddhas and blew them to pieces.

Later in an interview, the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar defended his actions by saying:

I did not want to destroy the Bamiyan Buddha. In fact, some foreigners came to me and said they would like to conduct the repair work of the Bamiyan Buddha that had been slightly damaged due to rains. This shocked me. I thought, these callous people have no regard for thousands of living human beings – the Afghans who are dying of hunger, but they are so concerned about non-living objects like the Buddha. This was extremely deplorable. That is why I ordered its destruction. Had they come for humanitarian work, I would have never ordered the Buddha’s destruction.

The only silver lining in the cloud was, that after the destitution, several new caves and wall paintings were discovered, including fragments of a previously unknown 62-foot long reclining Buddha.

Sources: Wikipedia / Khan Academy

Source…. Kaushik in www. amusingplanet.com

Natarajan

Joe Reginella’s Memorials to Disasters That Never Happened…!!!

 

Most remember October 29th, 1929—also known as Black Tuesday—as the day when the New York stock market crashed. However, it was also the day when one of the most horrific tragedy involving human-animal conflict happened at the Brooklyn Bridge.

On that awful day a trio of three circus elephants, including the star attraction—a thirteen-foot-tall African elephant named Jumbo, was to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and into New York. The event was greatly publicized and crowds of people came from miles around to see Jumbo. While crossing the bridge, something caused the animals to panic and what was to be a slow and deliberate cross suddenly became a deadly stampede as the three elephants charged into the cheering crowd. Aside from scores of human casualty, two of the elephants died in the stampede, while Jumbo escaped to freedom through the Holland Tunnel and lived out his days at an elephant sanctuary.

 The memorial to the 1929 Brooklyn Bridge Elephant Stampede. Photo credit: Joe Reginella

When a new bronze memorial to the tragedy was unveiled at the Brooklyn Bridge Park last month, it left visitors scratching their heads because no one ever remembered hearing or reading about the Brooklyn Bridge Elephant Stampede of 1929. That’s because the tragedy never happened. It’s a satirical piece of art by sculptor Joe Reginella.

Last year, the prankster-artist erected another memorial to yet another fabricated tragedy—the so-called Staten Island Ferry Disaster—in Battery Park. The story goes, that on November 2nd, 1963, a Staten Island Ferry with over 400 people onboard was attacked by a giant octopus and was pulled beneath the water resulting in the death of all passengers. According to Reginella, the disaster went almost completely unnoticed by the public because it was overshadowed by another more “newsworthy” tragedy that occurred that day—the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

As part of the hoax, Reginella created a fake documentary, fabricated newspaper articles and distributed flyers to puzzled tourists sending them to a nonexistent museum on Staten Island.

 

 

The memorial to the 1963 Staten Island Ferry Disaster. Photo credit: Ula Ilnytzky

The idea for the hoax came to him when Reginella was taking his 11-year-old nephew on the ferry between Manhattan and Staten Island. To satisfy the kid’s curious questions, such as if the waters were infested with shark, Reginella fabricated the story of a giant octopus attack.

“The story just rolled off the top of my head,” he told The Guardian, and it evolved to become “a multimedia art project and social experience – not maliciously – about how gullible people are”.

In the early few days after the memorial was unveiled, Reginella sat close by with a fishing pole pretending to fish so that he could eavesdrop on the conversations. Sometimes he overheard people wondering why nobody ever heard of it. Others simply stared out at the water and walked away.

While the Staten Island Ferry Disaster never happened, there is actually a bit of interesting history behind Reginella’s latest hoax—the Brooklyn Bridge Elephant Stampede. Elephants belonging to the Barnum and Bailey’s Circus did actually cross the Brooklyn Bridge in 1884, when the circus came to town. One of the elephants, a thirteen-foot and seven-ton African, was actually named Jumbo. He was accompanied by twenty other elephants, seven camels and ten dromedaries in what was known as Barnum’s legendary “elephant walk.”

Neither memorials are permanent, and are displayed only on specific days and times. Consult the memorials’ websites for timing before you decide to visit.

www.sioctopusdisaster.com
www.bbelephantstampede.com

Source….Kaushik in http://www.amusingplanet.com

Natarajan

 

வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை….” காந்திக்கு ஒரு கடிதம் “

 

காந்திக்கு ஒரு கடிதம்
———————-
விடுதலை பெற்று தந்தாய் என் தாய்
நாட்டுக்கு …உன்னையே விலையாகவும்
கொடுத்தாய் மத பேதம் இல்லா புதிய
பாரதம் ஒன்று படைக்க !
ஆனால் …
விடுதலை பெற்ற என் தேசம் இன்னும்
புது விடியலை தேடுதே …அது ஏன் ?
மதவாத அரசியலில் ஆதாயம் தேடுதே
ஒரு பெரும் கூட்டம் !
அது ஏன் ?
மூலைக்கு மூலை உன் சிலை
வைத்து காந்தி ஒரு பொம்மைதான் எங்கள்
அரசியல் விளையாட்டுக்கு என்று சொல்லாமல்
சொல்லுது ஒரு கூட்டம் !
காந்தியா …அது  யார் என்று கேக்குது
இன்னொரு கூட்டம் …காந்தி உன்னையே
மறந்த கூட்டம் காந்தீயக் கொள்கை கிடைக்குமா
ஒரு விலைக்கு என்று அலைவதும் உண்மை இன்று !
வேற்றுமையில் ஒற்றுமை என்பது வெறும் பேச்சு
மட்டுமா ?  ஒளிமயமான வலுவான பாரதம்
பிறப்பது எப்போது ?  என் தேசம் புது விடியல்
காண்பது எப்போது ?
சிலையாய் இருக்கும் காந்தி நீ இப்போது
எடுக்க வேண்டும் மீண்டும் ஒரு பிறவி !
காந்தி சிலைகள் எல்லாம்  உயிர் பெற்று
பல நூறு புதிய காந்திகளாய் என் மண்ணில்
பிறக்க வேண்டும் இப்போதே !
என் மண்ணின் விடுதலைக்கு ஒரே ஒரு
காந்தி நீ இருந்தாய்.. இன்று
இந்த  மண்ணின் புது விடியலுக்கு  பல  நூறு
காந்தி வேண்டுமே  அய்யா !
மறுக்காமல் நீ பிறப்பாயா அய்யா மீண்டும்
என் மண்ணில் ? ஒரு புதிய பாரதமும்
மலர்ந்து ஒளிருமா என் கண் முன்னால் ?
My kavithai as published in http://www.dinamani.com on 8th Oct 2017
Natarajan

The Fascinating History of the Iconic Mysore Sandal Soap…

A soap that has held a special place in the hearts of Indians for more than a century, Mysore Sandal Soap’s legacy is intricately interwoven with Karnataka’s history and heritage.

There is something beautifully Indian about the fragrance of sandalwood. Sweet, warm, rich and woody, it is a scent that is deeply interwoven with the nation’s history and heritage. This is, perhaps, one of the many reasons why the Mysore Sandal Soap has held a special place in the hearts of Indians for more than a century.

Here’s the fascinating story behind India’s most-loved sandal soap.

One hundred and one years ago, in May 1916, Krishna Raja Wodiyar IV (the then Maharaja of Mysore) and Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya (the then Diwan of Mysore), set up the Government Sandalwood Oil factory at Mysore for sandalwood oil extraction.

The primary goal of the project was to utilise the excess stocks of the fragrant wood that had piled up after World War I halted the export of sandalwood from the kingdom of Mysore (the largest producer of sandalwood in the world at the time).

Two years later, the Maharaja was gifted a rare set of sandalwood oil soaps. This gave him the idea of producing similar soaps for the masses which he immediately shared with his bright Diwan. In total agreement about the need for industrial development in the state, the enterprising duo (who would go on to plan many projects whose benefits are still being reaped) immediately got to work.

A stickler for perfection, Visveswaraya wanted to produce a good quality soap that would also be affordable for the public. He invited technical experts from Bombay (now Mumbai) and made arrangements for soap making experiments on the premises of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Interestingly, the IISc had been set up in 1911 due to the efforts of another legendary Diwan of Mysore, K Sheshadri Iyer!

From the talent involved in the research happening at IISc, he identified a bright, young industrial chemist called Sosale Garalapuri Shastry and sent him to England to fine tune his knowledge about making soap. Affectionately remembered by many as Soap Shastry, the hardworking scientist would go on to play a key role in making Visveswaraya’s dream a reality.

After acquiring the required knowledge, Shastry quickly returned to Mysore where the Maharaja and his Diwan were waiting anxiously. He standardized the procedure of incorporating pure sandalwood oil in soaps after which the government soap factory was established near K R Circle in Bengaluru.

The same year, another oil extraction factory was set up at Mysore to ensure a steady supply of sandalwood oil to the soap making unit. In 1944, another unit was established in Shivamoga. Once the soap hit the market, it quickly became popular with the public, not just within the princely state but across the country.

However, Shastry was not done yet. He also created a perfume from distilled sandalwood oil. Next, he decided to give the Mysore Sandal Soap a unique shape and innovative packaging. In those days, soaps would normally be rectangular in shape and packed in thin, glossy and brightly coloured paper. To help it stand out from the rest, he gave the soap an oval shape before working on a culturally significant packaging.

Cognizant of the Indian love of jewels, Shastry designed a rectangular box resembling a jewellery case— with floral prints and carefully chosen colours. At the centre of the design was the unusual logo he chose for the company, Sharaba (a mythical creature from local folklore with the head of an elephant and the body of a lion. A symbol of courage as well as wisdom, the scientist wanted it to symbolise the state’s rich heritage.

The message ‘Srigandhada Tavarininda’ (that translates to ‘from the maternal home of sandalwood’) was printed on every Mysore Sandal Soapbox. The aromatic soap itself was wrapped in delicate white paper, similar to the ones used by jewellery shops to pack jewels.

This was followed by a systematic and well-planned advertising campaign with cities across the country carrying vibrant signboards in neon colours. Pictures of the soapbox were noticeable everywhere, from tram tickets to matchboxes. Even a camel procession was held to advertise the soap in Karachi!

The out-of-the-box campaign led to rich results. The soap’s demand in India and abroad touched new heights, with even royal families of foreign nations ordering it for themselves. Another important turning point for the company was when, in 1980, it was merged with the oil extraction units (in Mysuru and Shivamoga) and incorporated into one company called Karnataka Soaps and Detergent Limited (KSDL).

However, in the early 1990s, the state-run firm did face a rough patch due to multinational competition, declining demand and lack of coordination between sales and production departments. As losses started rising, it was given a rehabilitation package by BIFR (Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction) and KSDL grabbed the lifeline with both hands.

The company streamlined its way of functioning and soon it had started showing profits again. Thanks to rising profits year after year, it had soon wiped out all its losses and repaid its entire debt to BIFR by 2003. The company also successfully diversified into other soaps, incense sticks, essential oils, hand washes, talcum powder etc.

Nonetheless, the Mysore Sandal Soap remains the company’s flagship product, the only soap in the world made from 100% pure sandalwood oil (along with other natural essential oils such as patchouli, vetiver, orange, geranium and palm rose). Due to tremendous brand recall and loyalty associated with the soap, it also bags a prized position on the shopping lists of visiting NRIs.

In 2006, the iconic was awarded a Geographical Indicator (GI) tag — that means anyone can make and market a sandalwood soap but only KSDL can rightfully claim it to be a ‘Mysore Sandalwood’ soap.

Thanks to this near-monopolistic presence in the market for sandalwood bathing soaps, KSDL has also become one of Karnataka’s few public sector enterprises that turns consistent profits. In fact, the company registered its highest gross sales turnover (of ₹476 crore) in 2015-16.

Such is the legacy of sandalwood and this earthy, oval-shaped soap in the state that even Karnataka’s thriving film industry calls itself Sandalwood!

Today, there are a multitude of branded soaps in the market but Mysore Sandal Soap continues to hold a distinctive place among all of them. Its production figures continue to rise, even as the availability of sandalwood is on the decline.

To counter this, KSDL has been running a ‘Grow More Sandalwood’ programme for farmers, that provides affordable sandalwood saplings along with a buy-back guarantee.Working in partnership with the forest department, it is also working to ensure that for every sandalwood removed for extraction, a sandalwood sapling is planted to replace it.

The story of Mysore Sandal Soap and its enduring appeal is an inspiration not just for Indian PSUs but for the entire FMCG sector. Here’s hoping that its future is aromatic as its history!

Source….www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

 

A Garden In A Sinkhole…

The region in the southeast of South Australia, near Mount Gambier, is littered with many volcanic and karst features such as volcanic craters, lakes, limestone caves, water-filled caves and sinkholes. One particular sinkhole, located just off Jubilee Highway East, is particularly worth visiting. What was once a typical limestone cave formed by the corrosion of limestone rocks by seawater, and the subsequent collapse of the chamber’s roof, has been transformed into a beautiful garden.

The Sunken Garden in the Umpherston Sinkhole was built by James Umpherston in the 1880s, after he purchased the property about twenty years prior. Being retired, Umpherson wanted to create a place where the people of Mount Gambier could come to relax and escape the heat of summer. He carved a path in the side of the rock and erected a set of wooden steps so people could descend into the sinkhole and to his sunken garden, where he planted all sorts of ferns, shrubs and flowers. The sinkhole even had a small lake within where visitors could take boat rides.

The garden became an immediate success and very popular among the residents of Mount Gambier. After James Umpherston died in 1900, his garden fell into disrepair, and it was only about forty years ago that the garden was rescued from a rubbish dump that it had become. The garden was restored by the employees of the South Australian Woods and Forests Department in 1976. They removed the rubbish and cleared the weeds, and planted hydrangeas and other species along the terraces.

Once again, the garden has become a popular recreation spot. In 1995, the garden was added to the South Australian Heritage Register.

Source….kaushik in http://www.amusingplanet.com

Natarajan

The Stockholm Telephone Tower….

 

By the late 19th century, the miracle device called the telephone had been invented but the simple concept of undergrounding telephone cables had eluded engineers. Clumps of telephone wires strung from monstrous towers hung above the heads of pedestrians in all major cities with a sizable number of subscribers.

Telephone service was expensive at that time, and only the wealthy could afford it. In Sweden, the first public telephone exchange was opened in the capital city Stockholm, in 1880, by the Bell Telephone Company. It originally had only 121 subscribers. The telephone company charged subscribers between 160 and 280 Swedish Krona, depending on the subscriber’s location and distance to the exchange. This was equivalent to paying a subscription fee of 9,000 to 16,000 Krona (USD 1,100 to USD 1,966) in today’s value, which was a very high rate.

The Bell Telephone Company with their high rates soon got a competitor in Stockholm General Telephone Company (SAT), which was founded in 1883 by the engineer and businessman Henrik Tore Cedergren. His mission was to put a telephone in every household. Cedergren’s charged very low fees for a connection and monthly subscription, and the number of subscribers increased rapidly. By 1886, Stockholm had more telephones than any of the major cities in the world, with 4,832 subscribers, including about 1,600 at Bell Telephone Company. In 1887, SAT became the world’s largest telephone company, large enough to buy out Bell Company’s business in Stockholm in 1888.

In this early days of telephony, there were no substations and every subscriber was physically connected to the central exchange with an overhead wire. The Stockholm telephone exchange had thousands of wires converging in from every direction. A massive tower held these wires together.

This iconic Phone Tower, or Telefontornet, was opened in 1887, and had over 5,500 telephone lines whose collective length came to around 5,000 kilometers. As you can see from these pictures, it was quite a mess, and the network was extremely vulnerable to the elements. The locals thought the tower looked hideous and even complained that it darkened out the sun.

With the public and the press lambasting the tower at every opportunity, the telephone company decided that the tower needed a makeover. A decoration competition was announced, and in 1890 the tower got the four corner turrets. At all major events in Stockholm, the city’s flags were hoisted there.

However, by the turn of the 19th century, the tower was already on its path to obsolescence. The telephone company realized that laying cables underground was a far more elegant solution than stringing them from towers. By 1913, the entire network had gone underground and the Telefontornet lost its function. The remaining shell stood as a landmark for the several decades. At one point, the telephone company hung advertisement banners from the tower. In 1952, the tower caught fire which weakened the structure, and was demolished the following year on safety grounds.

Source….Kaushik in http://www.amusingplanet.com

Natarajan