India”s Most unusual Post Offices….Our Country Celebrates National Postal Day today…

E-mails may have overshadowed the concept of snail mail, yet post offices still hold a special place in the Indian way of life. Having long had a presence in local communities, they have served as exchange posts for news, gossip and much more.

As the country celebrates the National Postal Day today, here’s a look at three of India’s most unusual post offices.

Send a postcard from any of these unique spots, and you are sure to score some travel bragging rights!

1. The Post Office at Hikkim

 

 

 

Perched at 15,500 ft above sea level in Himachal Pradesh’s strikingly beautiful Spiti Valley, the hamlet of Hikkim is reputedly home to the world’s highest post office.

A small hut with whitewashed walls and a red postbox hanging outside, the quaint post office is 23 km from the town of Kaza and has been functioning since November 5, 1983. With no internet and patchy cell phone signal, the facility is the only conduit to the world for Hikkim’s residents.

This inconspicuous little post office is single-handedly managed by Rinchen Chhering, who has been the branch postmaster for over 20 years. He was chosen for the post when he was just 22 because he could run fast and owned a bicycle!

Every day, two runners take turns hiking to Kaza on foot to deliver mail that is then taken by bus to Reckong Peo, onward to Shimla, further by train to Kalka, from where it is taken to Delhi and sent to its final destination. In winter, everything in the valley freezes – the rivers, the lakes, the mountains. As the snow cover cuts off Hikkim from the rest of the world, the village’s post office also shuts down for six months.

2. The Post Office at Antarctica

Dakshin Gangotri Station                                                                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located in Dakshin Gangotri, India’s first scientific base in Antarctica, this post office first became operational on February 24, 1984, after it was established during the third Indian expedition to the frigid ‘White Continent.’ It was a part of the base’s multi-support systems that also included including ice-melting plants, laboratories, storage and recreational facilities.

The Dakshin Gangotri PO was brought under the Department of Post at Goa on January 26, 1988. Scientist G. Sudhakar Rao, who went to Antarctica as a member of the Seventh Indian Scientific Expedition in 1987, was appointed as its first honorary postmaster. Interestingly, in its first year of establishment, nearly 10000 letters were posted and cancelled at this post office.

However, in 1990, Dakshin Gangotri PO in Antarctica was decommissioned after it got half buried in ice. The post office was then shifted to the new permanent research base, Maitri.

Over the years, the unusual spot has become a favourite stop-off for tourists from cruise ships who came to explore the frozen continent and learn about its unique ecosystem. They send out postcards and letters that take between two and six weeks to reach their destinations via Hobart (in Australia).

3. The Post Office on Dal Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built on an intricately carved houseboat, the Srinagar’s Floating Post Office claims to be the only one of its kind in the world. Here you can avail all regular postal services while being afloat on the Dal Lake. A heritage post office that has existed since colonial times, it was called Nehru Park post office before it was renamed by the then chief postmaster John Samuel in 2011.

After a pretty little philately museum and souvenir shop were added to it, the Floating Post Office was formally relaunched in August 2011. Interestingly, the seal used on everything posted from the this is unique, and tourist-friendly post office bears a special design — of a boatman rowing a shikara on the Dal Lake — along with the date and address.

While enthusiastic tourists row to the post office every day to send postcards back home, for the locals, the post office is more than an object of fascination. The islets in Dal Lake are home to over 50000 people (farmers, labourers, artisans and shikaraowners) for whom this state-run facility is the nearest source of postal and banking services.

Source…SanchariPal in http://www.thebetterindia.com

Natarajan

 

Advertisements

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

Hiding in plain sight; Rangoli, Kolam designs and what they mean…

 

Every day, my mother religiously performed a ritual. Rain or shine, she never skipped this ritual even for a day. Every day, she drew enchanting kolam patterns using rice flour.

On special occasions, the white kolam designs were made with wet rice flour paste accompanied by thick strips of earth colored borders made with red sand mixed with water.

My mother is proud of her kolam design skills. She is not alone. It seems no self-respecting South Indian woman will tolerate anyone questioning her ability to conjure up kolam designs at will.

Millions of women from different communities in South India practice this art form every day.

For over 38 years, I considered Kolam to be just another ritual among the long list of rituals Indian women seem to follow. However, when I decided to dig deeper to understand the significance of kolam designs, I was surprised at what I discovered.

The threshold is a key concept in Tamilian culture. Even historical Tamil literature such as the Sangam literature (Tamil literature in the period spanning 300BC to 300 CE) is divided into the akam (inner field) and the puram (outer field).

That’s not all.

In one of Nammalvar’s (the fifth among the 12 Alwar saints who espoused Vaishnavism) hymns, the God in the poem is the God of the threshold. Of course, every newly married bride formally becomes a part of the household when she steps overs the threshold.

Should we then conclude that kolam designs are a celebration of the threshold?

Different interpretations of the significance of kolam designs

Here are a few explanations I came across in my quest to unearth the real significance of the kolam ritual.

The most common understanding has been that the idea of using rice flour is to provide food to ants, insects and small birds.

If that is the case, what’s stopping men from participating in this noble deed?

While I did not find an answer, a common sense reasoning is that women have traditionally carried the burden of maintaining the home and the kolam ritual automatically became a part of the woman’s domain.

That’s also a reason why my mother and my aunts believe that women see it as a key ritual that helps them improve their concentration and patience, two key components needed to run a household!

Here is another interpretation recorded in Lance Nelson’s study of Kolam.

“Bhumi Devi [earth goddess] is our mother. She is everyone’s source of existence. Nothing would exist without her. The entire world depends on her for sustenance and life. So, we draw the kolam first to remind ourselves of her. All day we walk on Bhumi Devi. All night we sleep on her. We spit on her. We poke her. We burden her. We do everything on her. We expect her to bear us and all the activities we do on her with endless patience. That is why we do the kolam.”

According to Devdutt Pattnaik, author and mythologist –

“A downward pointing triangle represented woman; an upward pointing triangle represented man. A circle represented nature while a square represented culture. A lotus represented the womb. A pentagram represented Venus and the five elements.”

Kolams connects the dots in more than one way.

Cultural practices are common across the length and breadth of India. They also transcend regions.

The concept of Kolam is definitely not unique to Tamil speaking community in India. For example, in the Telugu language, it is called ‘Muggulu’, and it’s known as ‘Rangoli’ in the Kannada language.

But the idea of drawing patterns on the ground transcends India and can be found in other cultures as well!

Anil Menon, a computer scientist, and a speculative novelist has compiled findings from his research on similar practices among cultures separated by oceans. Here are some tidbits from Menon’s work.

British anthropologist, John Layard, found that the patterns drawn on the sand by the tribal population of Malekula (an island that’s a part of The Republic of Vanuatu, situated 1000 miles east of Australia) are similar to the kolam patterns popular in Tamil Nadu!

Here is the proof.

 

 

 

 

 

There is also a possibility that kolam designs were an early form of pictorial language!

Dr Gift Siromani, through his path-breaking work, has proved that it is possible to create any kolam pattern using a combination of strokes.

Rituals and cultural practices are to be cherished

I did not think much of the kolam designs my mom drew every day. But a sudden spark of curiosity led me to unexpected findings and the joy of discovering human beings are connected to each other in more ways than we can imagine.

Physical boundaries, cultural differences, and racial definitions are just imaginary barriers we have erected over a period of time. Our lives are always connected just like the dots of the kolam my mom draws.

SOURCE….Srinivas Krishnaswamy in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

Image of the Day… Amazing Photo of Super Moon on 14th Nov 2016 !!!

 

The lights around the moon are street lights and there is a tree in front of the moon like veins on moon….!!!

Photo Credit  by Senthil Natarajan , Brisbane , Australia

Photograph taken by him on the night of Super Moon Day …14 Nov 2016

Source…Facebook post of Senthil Natarajan

Natarajan

 

15094496_10154788090699630_1663026486696801254_n

Worlds Safest Airlines …Top 20….” Qantas is in Top of the list for the 3rd Year ” …

qantasjessrqst

Nervous flyer?  Just want to know you’re traveling with a reliable airline? Find out who are the world’s safest airlines.

AirlineRatings.com, the world’s only safety and product rating website, which was launched in June 2013, has announced its top twenty safest airlines and top ten safest low cost airlines for 2016 from the 407 it monitors.

Top of the list for the third year is Australia’s Qantas, which has a fatality free record in the jet era – an extraordinary record. Making up the remainder of the top twenty in alphabetical order are: Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airline System, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.

AirlineRatings.com’s rating system takes into account a range of factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline’s fatality record. AirlineRating.com’s editorial team, one of the world’s most awarded and experienced, also examined each airline’s operational history, incident records and operational excellence to arrive at its top twenty safest airlines.

The AirlineRatings.com top twenty have always been at the forefront of safety innovation and launching of new aircraft and these airlines have become a byword for excellence. Responding to public interest, the AirlineRatings.com editors also identified their top ten safest low cost airlines.

They are in alphabetical order: Aer Lingus, Flybe, HK Express, Jetblue, Jetstar AustraliaThomas Cook, TUI Fly, Virgin AmericaVolaris and Westjet.

Unlike a number of low cost carriers, these airlines have all passed the stringent International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and have excellent safety records.
Of the 407 airlines surveyed, 148 have the top seven-star safety ranking but almost 50 have just three stars or less. There are 10 airlines with only one star and these airlines are from Indonesia, Nepal and Surinam.

In selecting Qantas as the world’s safest airline AirlineRatings.com editors noted that over its 95-year history the world’s oldest continuously operating airline has amassed an extraordinary record of firsts in operations and safety and is now accepted as the industry’s most experienced carrier.

The Australian airline has been a leader in: the development of the Future Air Navigation System; the Flight Data Recorder to monitor plane and later crew performance; automatic landings using Global Navigation Satellite System as well as precision approaches around mountains in cloud using RNP. Qantas was the lead airline with real time monitoring of its engines across its fleet using satellite communications, which has enabled the airline to detect problems before they become a major safety issue.

Last year was a disturbing year for airline safety with some tragic and bizarre accidents such as the high profile GermanWings and Metrojet disasters. However according to Aviation-Safety.net data, the 16 accidents in 2015 with 560 fatalities were below the 10-year average of 31 accidents and 714 fatalities. Last year was also a significant improvement over 2014 when there were 21 fatal accidents with 986 fatalities.

Balancing these numbers the world’s airlines carried a record 3.6 billion passengers on 34 million flights in 2015.

Flashback 50 years and there were a staggering 87 crashes killing 1,597 when airlines carried only 141 million passengers – 5 per cent of today’s number.

– See more at: http://www.airlineratings.com/news/630/who-are-the-worlds-safest-airlines-for-2016#sthash.d2MKORhu.dpuf

Source….www.airlineratings.com

Natarajan

Image of the Day… Lunar shadow across Earth..

Lunar shadow moves across Earth

This is way cool. Watch the moon’s shadow move across Earth during the March 9 total solar eclipse. A first ever animation from deep space.

March 9, 2016. Image credit: NASA
March 9, 2016. Image credit: NASA

A camera aboard the DSCOVR satellite captured a unique view of this week’s solar eclipse. On March 9, 2016, residents of the Western Pacific looked up in the early morning hours to observe the only total solar eclipse of 2016, while DSCOVR looked down from a million miles away and captured the shadow of the moon crossing the planet.

In the animation above, the shadow of the new moon starts crossing the Indian Ocean and marches past Indonesia and Australia into the open waters and islands of Oceania (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia) and the Pacific Ocean. Note how the shadow moves in the same direction as Earth rotates. The bright spot in the center of each disk is sunglint — the reflection of sunlight directly back at the satellite’s camera.

NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite is the Nation’s first operational satellite in deep space. DSCOVR hovers between the sun and Earth at all times, maintaining a constant view of the sun and sun-lit side of Earth.

Adam Szabo is NASA’s project scientist for DSCOVR. He said:

What is unique for us is that being near the sun-Earth line, we follow the complete passage of the lunar shadow from one edge of the Earth to the other. A geosynchronous satellite would have to be lucky to have the middle of an eclipse at noon local time for it. I am not aware of anybody ever capturing the full eclipse in one set of images or video.

The animation above was assembled from 13 images acquired on March 9, 2016, by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four-megapixel charge-coupled device (CCD) and Cassegrain telescope on the DSCOVR satellite.

Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite also captured a series of images showing the procession of the shadow during this eclipse, which you can view here.

Bottom line: On March 9, 2016, a camera aboard the DSCOVR satellite captured the shadow of the moon crossing Earth from a million miles away during the only total solar eclipse of 2016.

Source…..www.earthsky.org

Natarajan

That Time an Olympic Rower Stopped to Let Some Ducks Swim By and Still Won the Gold Medal…

Born in Sydney Australia in 1905, Henry Robert Pearce, better known as Bobby Pearce, dominated the world of competitive rowing throughout the 1920s and 1930s and was extremely popular with fans of the sport due to a combination of the ease with which he seemed to best opponents and his affable personality. Perhaps the greatest example of both of these things in action was the time Pearce stopped mid-race to allow a duck and her ducklings to pass in front of him and still won.

This particular anecdote from Pearce’s life occurred at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam during the quarter final of the single sculls event in the Sloten canal. For anyone unfamiliar, the single sculls is essentially a race between individual opponents along a body of water and it has been a staple of the Olympic program since 1896.

Prior to taking part in the quarter final event at the 1928 Olympics, Pearce had already made quite a splash with locals by beating his previous two opponents by nearly 30 seconds each, winning his first event with such a comfortable lead that, according to a contemporary report from the Sydney Morning Herald, he pulled up before the finish line to wait for his opponent to catch up a little.

Pearce’s opponent on the fateful duck match quarter final was a Frenchman called Vincent Saurin, a powerful rower who during his career would win nine national titles and medal at three European championships. Despite his opponent’s pedigree, Pearce was able to effortlessly pull away and secure himself a near half-minute lead before the half way mark of the 2000 metre race.

In an interview with historian Henry Roxborough in 1976, Pearce recounted what happened next.

“I heard wild roars from the crowd along the bank of the canal. I could see some spectators vigorously pointing to something behind me, in my path. I peeked over one shoulder and saw something I didn’t like, for a family of ducks in single file was swimming slowly from shore to shore. It’s funny now, but it wasn’t at the time for I had to lean on my oars and wait for a clear course…”

“Had to lean on my oars…” isn’t quite accurate.  He could have simply plowed through them, but chose to pull up. While all this was happening, Saurin made up the lead Pearce had secured and, showing far less concern for the welfare of the ducks than Pearce had, capitalised on his opponents’ unlikely stint as a duck crossing guard and blew past him, stealing himself a five length lead before Pearce started rowing again.

Remarkably, in the final 1,000 metres of the race, not only did Pearce catch up to the Frenchman, but he was able to once again get far enough ahead to secure an almost 30 second lead by the finish line. In the end, Pearce finished the race with a time of 7:42.8 vs. Saurin’s 8:11.8.

This, in of itself would be impressive, but it should also be noted that not only was Pearce able to beat Saurin by nearly half a minute after coming to a complete stop in the middle of the race, but in that race he also finished with the fastest time of any of the eight competitors that round.

We should also probably mention that this was during the elimination portion of the competition meaning Pearce had risked his chance of winning an Olympic medal for his country in his first Olympics to let the ducks pass.

Unsurprisingly, Pearce ultimately won the gold medal for that event, beating out the previously undefeated American Kenneth Myers with a new world record for the 2,000 metre event with a time of 7:11.0. This record stood for an astounding 44 years, finally beaten in 1972 by Yuri Malishev of the Soviet Union.

As for the formerly undefeated Myers, his time in that face-off was a nearly equally remarkable 7:20.8, which would have been a new world record, beating the old by almost 15 seconds, if not for Pearce’s time.

(For reference, today the world record is currently held by Mahé Drysdale of New Zealand with a time of 6:33.35, which he set in Poland in 2009.  As for the Olympic record, it was recently set in 2012 in London by Tim Maeyens of Belgium with a time of 6:42.52 in the first heat. However, the gold medal in that Olympics went to Drysdale with a time of 6:57.82 seconds in the final.)

Despite his incredible talent, as Pearce was barred from competing for money if he wished to continue competing in the Olympics, he struggled to make ends meet for much of his early life, even being unemployed during the early 1930s, scraping a living by collecting scrap paper at the Sydney Showgrounds. His fortunes turned around, however, when he met Scottish whisky magnate Lord Dewar, who happily offered Pearce a job selling his whisky as his official Canadian representative, prompting Pearce to move to Canada, where he lived the rest of his life.

Despite the move, Pearce continued to compete for Australia in the 1932 Olympics, in which he defended his title, winning the gold by narrowly beating out American William Miller by a mere 1.1 seconds in the final.  While that was a close finish, it should be noted that the nearest competitors behind those two finished a whopping 30 seconds back.

Shortly after the 1932 Olympics concluded, Pearce decided to turn pro, barring him from future Olympics, but at least allowing him to earn some money at his greatest skill while his body was still up to it.

Pearce’s professional career was decidedly uneventful… by which we mean he won every event he took part in and none of his races involved ducks. He eventually retired undefeated as an adult in 1938. That same year, he even managed to win a title defense race in Toronto just a few days after his wife unexpectedly died. In fact, while we know he must have lost several matches before his first competitive victory at 14 years old, the only definitive record we could find of Pearce ever losing a sculling match was his first one when he was six years old, which was a 16 year old and under youth competition.  He finished second in that race.
After retiring from the sport, Pearce tried his hand at being a professional wrestler before joining the Canadian war effort during WW2 as part of the Naval reserves. He served in the navy until 1956, retiring as a lieutenant commander. He subsequently spent the rest of his life selling whisky on behalf of Lord Dewar in Canada, later dying of a heart attack at the age of 70 in 1976

Source………..www.today i foundout.com

Natarajan