From China to Chennai, meet three generations of dentists who are as Tamil as Chinese…

Their families moved to Chennai from Hubei province and set-up dental clinics in the Evening Bazaar in the 1930s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The glass doors of the tiny dental clinic swing open to green tiles, wooden panels, lots of dental instruments and neatly stacked bottles and medicine packs. Dr Shieh Hung Sen is inside, dressed in a green linen shirt, attending to a patient with practised deftness, while directing his assistant Nila in flawless Chennai Tamil.

Dr Shieh, who is better known by his Christian name Albert Shieh, is a second-generation Chennaite of Chinese origin. He runs Dr Shieh’s Bright Smile, a 75-year-old clinic, the oldest among the 8 such compact Chinese dental studios dotting the sides of Evening Bazaar Road, Park Town.

“My parents moved from Hubei province in China to Madas some time before the World War II. The Chinese communists were forcibly recruiting people to the army. It was either abscond or die. So my parents along with 8 other families left in the cover of the night to Burma, from where they came to Chennai in boats,” says Albert.

His father, Saw Ma Seng, among others who fled the country, were traditional Chinese dentists who established their business in Park Town in the 1930s. Now, their children and grandchildren are running the operations.

“Dental colleges started in the city only around the 1950s. Yet, our fathers had set up thriving businesses way back in the ’30s and we sons took over when they passed on,” says Albert, who went on to a acquire degree in dentistry from Annamalai University, after finishing his schooling in Bishop Corrie School, Parrys.

Growing up in Chennai

As he reminisces of the Chennai of his youth, Albert, who specialises in denture making, prods open his patient’s mouth and fixes a perfect set of lower front dentures on his gums.

“The best days of my life in Chennai were my school days. We used to play cricket in the Park Town grounds until late evenings. I spoke English and Tamil with my friends group and at home we spoke Mandarin (Hubei dialect),” smiles Albert, who can also read and write Tamil. Albert also understands Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi, and even attempts speaking them occasionally.

“Today is Tamil New Year. You must be celebrating Vishu since you are a Malayali, right?” he asks this reporter with a smile.

Now married with two children, a son and a daughter, Albert reveals that his family speaks Tamil, Chinese and English at home.

“I got married to my wife, Hu Yu Kwan, who is from one of the families in the community itself. However, now the community is not as close-knit as we were, with the older generation passing on,” he says.

In his childhood, the families would get together every Chinese New Year and feast.

“The Chinese New Year’s Eve is a special day for us and the entire community gathers for a feast, which is a grand affair with Wuhan (Hubei cuisine) delicacies of Changyu fish and Sou Chin (stir fry) Chicken. It’s nothing like what you get in the Chinese restaurants in the city,” says Albert, who shares an equal and impartial love for south Indian cuisine too.

“Ïdly, dosa, sambhar and all other dishes I relish. My wife makes the best rasam and kaara kolambu, I feel. In fact, my son’s friends used to ask him if his mum was Tamilian or Chinese after tasting the lunches she used to pack for his school,” he adds with a shy smile.

Albert’s son, Joshua, is a practicing dentist in Canada and, interestingly, is married to a Tamil woman.

“When I was a kid, my mother used to threaten me that if I married outside of the community she would disown me. When I got married, I had a traditional two-day Chinese wedding and a church wedding. Now, times have changed; my daughter-in-law is Tamil and we had a register marriage along with a reception here in Chennai,” says Albert.

The family members are practicing Seventh Day Adventists who had earlier adopted Roman Catholicism. Over the years, many from the community have diverged to different denominations within Christianity.

In the next clinic, David Ma, also known as You Chang Ma, Albert’s nephew, is a Jehovah’s Witness and runs Venfa, a clinic started by his father. Unlike Albert, David belongs to the third generation of the Chinese diaspora settled in the city.

“I don’t have many ties to Hubei. All my life I have known this city. My favourite food is the karuvattu kolambu or the dried fish that you get here. I’m married to an Indian girl, who is from Sikkim. In fact, I had an arranged marriage and went all the way to Sikkim to find my wife, since they look similar to us,” David says with a chuckle.

From Kung fu to Kollywood

Emphasising that they don’t watch Chinese films but for the occasional Jackie Chan Kung fu movie that is released in Chennai, Albert and David reveal that they enjoy Tamil cinema, especially the songs.

“I love old Tamil songs. There are some beautiful songs from Mudhal Mariyathai,” says David as he hums ‘Poongatre’ from the Sivaji Ganesan-starrer.

While David had no qualms about breaking into song, his uncle is more of a closet musician.

“He is usually singing all the time. He loves SPB and sings very well,” his assistant Nila tells TNM.

Albert is a fan of Suriya too and says he is excited about Kamal Haasan’s entry into politics. Apart from this, the dentist also boasts of a few famous friends from the industry.

“Prabhu, Sarathkumar and drummer Sivamani are all my close friends. I became close Prabhu and Sarathkumar as an athlete in school when we met at an inter-school sports competition. We meet once in a while when I am in town,” says Albert, who migrated to Canada with his wife a few months ago and shuttles between Chennai and Ontario.

The future

The Chinese clinics like Albert’s and David’s cater to the local population in Park Town.

“We have a thriving business and clients who have been consulting us and our fathers before us. They trust us and we have sort of established a brand here in Chennai,” says David.

Although many of their relatives have migrated to the US, Canada and other parts of the world, David and Albert remain rooted to the city.

“Although I keep going to Canada, I can’t let go of my business here and most of the year I’m in Chennai,” says Albert.

And despite this mass migration to several parts of the world, none of the Chinese in Chennai have returned to their home province of Hubei.

“I once visited China on a packaged tour with my wife. We couldn’t visit our native place as we couldn’t break away from the others.I have a few cousins there and I hope to visit them once in my lifetime,” says Albert.

However, Chennai remains in their hearts even as they search for better prospects elsewhere.

“I have never felt like an outsider. Chennai has and will always remain one of the most welcoming cities here. My sentiments for this city, in IPL language would be Namma Chennai-ku oru whistle podu,” David concludes with a grin.

Source…… https://www.thenewsminute.com

Natarajan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the age of 7 , He is the youngest to scale the Mountain Kilimanjaro …

He just wanted to see some snow. But he got much more than that.
Samanyu, all of 7, scaled Africa’s loftiest peak and proved that no dream is impossible.
And that age is just a number.
Rediff.com‘s Divya Nair speaks to the mini mountaineer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE: Samanyu Pothuraju at Uhuru peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
All photographs: Kind courtesy Samanyu Pothuraju/Boots and Crampons

On April 2, 2018, when Samanyu Pothuraju, 7, from Hyderabad, was woken up at 3 am by his expedition leader Bharat Taminneni, he didn’t want to wake up.

He begged, “It’s too cold outside. I don’t want to go. Please let me sleep.”

It was the very last leg of their ascent to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro so Bharat would not give in.

Recalls Lavanya Krishna, Samanyu’s mother, “Finally, Bharat told him that if he reached the summit, his favourite (Telugu film) hero Pawan Kalyan would (surely want to) meet him.”

Mention of Pawan Kalyan did the magic.

Samanyu woke up with a start.

Eight odd hours later that day, at 11.52 am, to be precise, little Samanyu made it to the top of Uhuru, the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. And clinched a world record.

At 7, Samanyu is the youngest person in history to scale this peak, 5,895 metres above sea level.

But the Class 3 student, who “loves karate, computers and math,” did not have the faintest idea about the significance of his journey.

“I was wearing a thick jacket and gloves. My legs were paining, but I was happy,” Samanyu tells Rediff.com from Hyderabad.

Last year he was one of the youngest to reach the Mount Everest base camp in Nepal.

What inspired him to go to Africa?

Mount Everest actually.

Says Lavanya, who accompanied Samanyu till Kilimanjaro’s second base camp and not beyond, “When we reached the base camp of Mount Everest, some months ago, he (Samanyu) was disappointed that he couldn’t see much snow.”

“When I told him about Kilimanjaro, he asked me if there would be snow and if he could touch it. I said yes. He said he wanted to go and see the snow.”

For Lavanya, a bank employee who quit her job to take care of her children (Samanyu’s elder sister is 13), sending her seven year old to the top of Kilimanjaro wasn’t an emotional decision.

It was about letting Samanyu have his dream.

She consulted Raji Thammineni of Boots and Crampons, a Hyderabad-based adventure logistics company, to find out how safe the journey was.

“Raji is a friend and she advised I first send Samanyu to a training camp to see if he was fit to go.”

Samanyu passed the camp last year with with flying colours.

“He could climb 50 steps up and down with ease, trek to mountains and even made it to the Everest base camp in October 2017,” says Lavanya.

In November, Samanyu signed up with Boots and Crampons to prepare to scale Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.

In addition to his training, Lavanya helped her son get mountain ready by showing him a video of the terrain daily.

“He saw how people climbed it in different situations — rain, sun, snow, etc.”

Samanyu was keen to see snow. But he also wanted to see East Africa’s famous blue monkeys.”

“He saw three blue monkeys,” Lavanya says.

Lavanya and Samanyu flew to Tanzania on March 27.

“It was supposed to be summer. When we reached it was raining and snowing. My head was paining on reaching the second base camp, so I was asked to rest,” says Lavanya.

The next climb, from the second base camp to the last camp, took approximately 10 hours.

The final stretch from the last camp to the summit was equally long. But Samanyu finished it like a pro, says Lavanya.

‘It required meticulous planning to achieve this mission. We took all the care and precautions to keep the child safe and help him realise (the importance) of his mission to the summit of one of the most challenging mountains in the world,’ Bharat and Raji posted on Facebook about Samanyu’s achievement.

‘Master Samanyu fought bravely with different terrains — rainforest, moorland-rocky landscape, Alpine desert and crater rim — before summiting this wonder of the world. We are extremely proud to support Master Samanyu’s achievement which brought laurels to our country,’ the post added.

The sacrifices

To prepare for Africa, Samanyu had to wake up early and religiously maintain a schedule so he could balance school, extracurricular activities and mountaineering.

“He’d wake up at 5 am and go for his karate classes followed by cycling. After school, he’d train for mountaineering,” says Lavanya.

Samanyu had to follow a strict diet. Not too much sugar. No ice cream.

“I had to eat canned food,” Samanyu tells Rediff.com. “It was tasty though.”

“After we climbed down, they gave me ice cream. I was very happy.”

What’s next

His next challenge?

“I want to do the 10 peaks challenge in Australia.”

Turns out none of this has affected his academic performance: Samanyu, who studies at the Bolton School in Hyderabad, scored over 95 per cent in his last examination.           

IMAGE: Samanyu holds up a printout with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s image at Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro.

Lavanya and Krishna spent Rs 15 lakhs funding their son’s expedition, but they feel helping Samanyu attain his dreams was their most important mission.

Here’s their message to parents: “Never stop your child from dreaming big. You can guide her /him on what is right and wrong. But support their dreams as much as you can.”

Samanyu is now waiting to meet Pawan Kalyan, as promised. His parents have tweeted the Telugu superstar about their son’s wish to meet him.

Hey, Pawan, if you are reading this feature, please do give lil’ Samanyu a call.

http://www.rediff.com

Natarajan

 

 

The Secret of Boxing icon…Mary Kom”s Success….

‘If I am super fit till 2020, I will compete but if I am not fit I will not.’                               

IMAGE: MC Mary Kom celebrates with her coaching staff after winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal. Photograph: PTI

Almost every medal that is there to be taken is in her kitty but M C Mary Kom says she still trains like a maniac, the latest result of the regimen being a gold on debut at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Saturday.

The 35-year-old mother-of-three, who has five world titles and an Olympic bronze medal, is seen as a sporting icon not just in India but also in other countries.

Crowned Asian champion just months ago, Mary Kom added the light flyweight (48kg) Commonwealth crown to her tally.

“The secret to my success is my fitness and I am very quick. I plan well before bouts. I am lucky that I can catch my opponents within seconds, I am able to read them very quickly,” a giggling Mary Kom said at the end of her CWG campaign.

“I don’t have injuries, all I have is minor issues like cramps sometime,” she added.

And the secret to her fitness levels and to an extent her calm demeanour in the ring is a training regimen that she refuses to let go even one day.

“When I decide something with my head and heart than even my husband cannot stop me. He sometimes tells me to take it easy after competition but I can’t help it,” she said.

“I have to train to keep myself calm. It’s a a strong urge, it’s a habit and training makes me happy. When I don’t train I feel sick sometimes,” she added.

But despite the high fitness levels, she wouldn’t commit on whether the outlandish possibility of a 2020 Olympic appearance is on her mind.

“2020 is difficult to say, but I will try my best. 48kg is not there and I will have to put on weight to be in 51kg which is never easy. If I am super fit till 2020, I will compete but if I am not fit I will not,” said the accomplished boxer.

Elated at being India’s first woman boxer to claim a Commonwealth Games gold, Mary Kom said scripting history makes her happy.

“I have won everything and all of my medals are very important. Do I need to say more? Which other boxer can claim that, now I would not be scared of anyone. I am very happy that I created history. I have got everything,” she said.

“I still think about Olympics gold but other than that I have got everything. Even in Olympics, I do have a medal. I haven’t left out anything,” she signed off.

Source……..www.rediff.com

natarajan

        

 

Meet the Ex-IAS Officer Who Left America to Head the Swachh Bharat Mission…

 

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) promised to bring open defecation in India down to zero, and the government had also guaranteed that it would build enough toilets in every village and city to completely eradicate the problem of open defecation.

Many of us will agree that open defecation leads to the proliferation of diseases, and it is thus, advisable, to make India completely open-defecation free.

However, one man working for the Swachh Bharat Mission knows that the subject of open-defecation is not as black and white as it seems. For many, it is a part of their lifestyle, that they cannot change overnight. The problem of maintaining toilets that were built by the authorities also keeps people outside the washroom walls.

Meet Parameswaran Iyer, a former IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer who currently leads the Swachh Bharat Mission  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Iyer had worked with World Bank from April 1998 to September 2007 in Hanoi, Vietnam. From 2012 onwards he was the lead water and sanitation specialist for the World Bank and was instrumental in bringing two leading programmes on the ground there.

Before taking up a specialisation in Vietnam, Mr Iyer had also worked in Washington on Egypt and Lebanon and in the Bank’s Water Anchor.

When he realised that he had to accept that many people prefer to defecate in the open rather than in toilets, Mr Iyer brought his experience in Vietnam to practical use. In 2014, he had written about the need for behaviour change before a lifestyle change, on the World Bank’s site.

“The biggest lesson learned so far in Vietnam, and other countries is that eliminating open defecation is not driven by the construction of toilets.

It is driven by changing the behaviour at the community level based on quality, evidence-based interventions. What is also clear is that approaches must be tailored to be the specific context with careful consideration of local factors such as ethnicity,” he wrote.

Mr Iyer’s experience with the World Bank, across several countries, will certainly help India, to go a step further in the cleanliness mission.

This is a rare case of the Indian government appointing an IAS officer working with the World Bank for their initiative, and Mr Iyer has certainly upped the hopes of Indian citizens. He was appointed as Union Secretary for the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2017 on a two-year contract basis.

A senior government official told Livemint, “It is clear from the two-year fixed contract, that the government has decided to give him a free hand to steer the programme. It also gives a clear signal that if the government does not get the desired results from the internal talent pool, it will not hesitate in getting them from outside.”

With a combined experience of about two decades in this sector, Parameswaran is sure to be a beaming light of hope for the dream of a clean India!

Featured image source: Twitter.

Source….Tanvi Patel  in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

 

How Sivalingam battled pain to snatch another C’wealth gold….

‘I had no hopes of winning a medal after I injured my thighs during the National Championships while attempting 194 kg in clean and jerk. ‘

‘Even now I am competing at less than ideal fitness, but I am glad that was enough to get me a gold.’                                                                                                                                       

Defending champion Sathish Sivalingam (77 kg) claimed India’s third gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday, emerging triumphant despite having given up podium hopes after his injured thighs made even routine things like sitting painful.

The 25-year-old Indian lifted a total 317 kg (144+173) and was so ahead in the competition that he forfeited his final clean and jerk lift.

“I had no hopes of winning a medal after I injured my thighs during the National Championships while attempting 194 kg in clean and jerk. It’s a quadriceps problem; even now I am competing at less than ideal fitness, but I am glad that was enough to get me a gold,” said Sathish, after the medal presentation ceremony during which he was accorded a warm applause from the packed arena.

“I was in so much pain that even sitting was very painful for me. Everyone took care of me, gave me hope but I was not very confident. I had not trained that hard and my body was not at its best, and so how could I hope for a medal,” added the Tamil Nadu lifter.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 07: Gold medalist Sathish Kumar Sivalingam of India poses during the medal ceremony for the Men’s 77kg Weightlifting Final on day three of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 7, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fascinating contest of one-upmanship between Sathish and eventual silver-medallist Jack Oliver of England in the snatch competition.

The two kept upping the weights before their attempts but Oliver kept his nose ahead at the end of snatch as he lifted 145 kg in his second attempt. It was a kilogram more than Satish’s final attempt.

However, Satish had the last laugh in clean and jerk after Oliver failed two attempts of 171kg and settled for a total of 312 kg (145+167).

The bronze medal went to Australian showman Francois Etoundi, who lifted 305 kg (136+169) and collapsed clutching his injured shoulder after his final lift.

“I got lucky there, had he (Oliver) not dropped those weights, I would have had to go higher and I am not sure how my body would have taken that. I am quite relieved actually.”

At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Sathish won the gold medal with 149 kg snatch and 179 kg clean and jerk lifts, totalling 328 kg. His lift of 149 kg in snatch continues to be the Games record.

“I didn’t want to touch that level because I still need to undergo rehabilitation. The fact that the access to our physio was limited made it all the more difficult. I just hope that we get a physio with us at the Asian Games,” said Sathish, once again highlighting the problems the weightlifters are facing due to the lack of accessibility of their physios in the competition area.

Sathish is also the reigning Commonwealth Championships gold-medallist.

“I hope to do even better in the Asian Games because there is a gap now. Earlier, the Asian Games used to come within 20-25 days of the Commonwealth Games, which didn’t give us enough time to prepare. But this time I have got time to prepare and be fully fit now,” he said.

Tags: Jack OliverKumar SivalingamSathish SivalingamFrancois EtoundiIMAGE

Source:   www.rediff.com

Natarajan

வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை …” நிழலில் தேடிய நிஜம் “

 

நிழலில் தேடிய நிஜம்
…………………
நிழல் என்றும் ஆகாது நிஜம் !
பதவியும் பணமும் வெறும் நிழல்தானே !
அந்த நிழலில் தேட வேண்டும்
நிஜம் என்ன என்பதை ?
நிழலில் தேட தேட நிஜம்
என்ன என்று புரியும் !
நிழல் நிஜம் ஆகாது
என்னும் உண்மையும் தன்னால்
தெரியும் !
நிழல் எல்லாம் நிஜம் என்று
நம்பினால் நிஜம் என்ன என்று
தெரியாது கண்ணுக்கு !
நிஜத்தை தொலைத்து விட்டு
இல்லாத நிழலில் தேட முடியுமா
நிஜம் எங்கே என்று ?
K.Natarajan  in http://www.dinamani.com
Dated 8th April 2018

Meet Gururaja…CWG 2018 Medallist…

‘His victory is our victory,” said his family as they watched him bag the silver medal in weightlifting, in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 7.30 am on Thursday morning all eyes in the Poojary household in Vanse, a tiny village near Kundapur in Karnataka, were glued to the television.

One of their own, Gururaja Poojary, was taking part in the men’s 56-kg weightlifting competition in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. After failing to lift the weight of 138 kg in his first two attempts, it appeared as if Gururaja’s medal prospects were slipping away

The 25-year old weightlifter, however, was the very picture of strength in his final attempt to take his final tally to 249 kg and clinch the silver medal.

This medal in the Gold Coast is not only Gururaja’s first taste of success on the international stage right on his debut, but is also the product of a journey where he overcame poverty and personal setbacks to reach where he is.

But for his family members, it came as no surprise.

He comes from a sporting family – all five of his brothers dabbled in Kabaddi and were athletes. “But it was Gururaj who was always going to achieve his dream,” says Manohar Poojary, Gururaja’s elder brother.

Gururaja’s father, Mahabala Poojary, is a goods-truck driver, who struggled to make ends meet to take care of his six sons. “Poverty is something we have lived in all our life. If we were a little bit well-off financially or received the necessary support and encouragement, maybe all of my sons could have made our country proud,” says Mahabala, speaking after his son’s success in Australia.

But due to poverty and unforeseen circumstances at home, Gururaja’s older brothers – Mohan, Manohar, Udaya and Rajendra – had to drop out of school and, with that, from sports. Only Gururaja and his youngest brother, Rajesh, completed their studies amongst the six sons.

His mother, Padhu Poojarthi, is a homemaker.

But his family was not willing to let Gururaja tread the same path. “Our father worked extra hard to ensure that Gururaja strove to achieve his dream. Seeing my father’s and brother’s struggles, even we chipped-in, taking on extra work to help in whatever way we could. Today, his victory is as much our victory,” says Manohar.

While studying at Sri Dharmastala Manjunatheshwara (SDM) College in Ujire, in Dakshina Kannada, Gururaja was looking for a wrestling coach rather than a weightlifting one. This was around the time Sushil Kumar had won his first Olympic medal in wrestling in 2008. While his search for a wrestling coach proved to be fruitless, he met powerlifters at the local gym and was soon representing his college in powerlifting.

It was here he met his coach Rajendra Prasad, who gave him his first lessons in weightlifting.”I still remember, in 2011, Gururaja was a young boy who had just joined a graduation course. He was a Kabaddi player and a wrestler, and did not have any idea about powerlifting. We selected him for the club and, seeing his talent, guided him in powerlifting,” says Rajendra Prasad, who works as a coach at the SDM Sports Club.

He added that Gururaja was proficient at the University level and even broke a record set by him in 1999 by lifting 193 kg (total in snatch and knee jerk) in 2012. He improved to 243 kg in 2015, a record which still stands to this day.

It was only in 2013 that he became a national-level athlete and in 2014, after a gold medal at the national-level, he started becoming a serious contender for a Commonwealth Games berth.

With his superlative rise in the sport, Gururaja also enrolled in the Indian Air Force three years ago, after which the Air Force took care of all the training expenses. “Until then, it was the family, college-mates and generous philanthropists who gave wings to his dream, hoping he would bring glory to the region,” says Manohar.

By the time the financial strain on his family was eased, 25-year-old Gururaja was ready to take on the world stage.

With the win in Australia, he has now vaulted straight into the national limelight and Pramod Madhwaraj, Karnataka Minister for Youth, Fisheries and Sport, who also hails from Udupi, said that Gururaja is likely to get a government job as a group-B officer and also a cash prize for his achievements.

When TNM caught up with Gururaja, he was, understandably, elated. “I am very happy that I have represented India in the Commonwealth Games and won the first silver medal for India (this year). This is my first Commonwealth Games and I want to thank my parents, family, my weightlifting coach Rajendra Prasad, SDM institution and everyone from my village who supported me,” he says.

His family members, who were nervously watching from home, was over the moon. Although his mother says she doesn’t quite understand the world of sport, she adds she is overwhelmed by the media visits.

But Gururaja’s family was quick to add that the journey is still not over. “We want him to make our country proud. Our biggest dream is that he participates and wins in the Olympics,” says Mahabala.

There is still some way to go before Gururaja can qualify for the Olympics. His final tally of 249 kgs will have to improve closer to 300 kgs. But throughout his journey, he has broken barriers and after his latest success in Australia, Gururaja will no doubt be willing to go the mile to chase his Olympic dream.

Source…….Harsha Raja Gatty and Prajwal Bhat in https://www.thenewsminute.com

Natarajan