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2009 ஆண்டு ஜனவரி 15 குளிர்காலத்தின் வியாழக்கிழமை. நியூயார்க் நகரம் எப்போதும் போல இயங்கிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறது. லகுவார்டியா விமானநிலையம் பரபரப்பாக இருக்கிறது. விமானங்கள் வருவதும் போவதுமாக இருக்கிறது. விமானங்களுக்கு ஓடுபாதையில் இறங்க வேண்டிய நேரத்தை சிக்னலாக வழங்கிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறார்கள். லகுவார்டியாவிலிருந்து US ஏர் பஸ் 1549  A320 என்கிற விமானம் நார்த் கர்லோநியாவில் உள்ள சார்லோட்டி விமான நிலையத்திற்குப் புறப்படத் தயாராகிறது. 66 டன் எடை கொண்ட விமானம் இரண்டு என்ஜின்களைக் கொண்டது. இரண்டு என்ஜின்களும் 40000 குதிரைத் திறன் கொண்டவை. பைலட்டின் பெயர் செஷ்லே சுல்லேன்பெர்கர் (Chesley Sullenberger). வயது 57. இவர் அமெரிக்க விமானப்படையில் பைலட்டாக  இருந்தவர். மொத்தம் 19663 மணி நேரம் பறந்தவர். அதில் 4765 மணி நேரம் A320 விமானத்தில் பயணித்தவர்.

ஏர் பஸ் 1549  A320 விமானத்தில் 150 பயணிகளும் ஐந்து விமானச் சிப்பந்திகளும் பயணிக்கிறார்கள். விமானம் கிளம்புவதற்கான ஒப்புதல் நிலைய அதிகாரிகளிடமிருந்து கிடைக்கிறது. விமான நிலையத்தின் நான்காவது ஓடுபாதையிலிருந்து மாலை 3:24:56 நொடிகளுக்கு விமானம் புறப்படுகிறது.

விமானம் 2818 அடி உயரத்தில் 343 கிலோமீட்டர் வேகத்தில் பறந்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறது. விமான முகப்புப் பகுதியில் விமானத்தின் முன்பாக பறவைகள் வருவதை பைலட் பார்க்கிறார். அவை கனடா கீஸ் வகை பறவைகள். 3:27:11  பறவைகள் விமானத்தின் எஞ்சின் பகுதியில் மோதுகின்றன. பறவைகள் மோதியதில் விமானத்தின் இரண்டு என்ஜின்களும் பழுதாகின்றன. விமானம் பழுதானதை உணர்கிற பைலட் உடனே விமான நிலைய கட்டுப்பாட்டு அறைக்குத் தகவலைத் தெரிவிக்கிறார். 3:27:33 வினாடிகளில் “விமானத்தில் பறவைகள் மோதிவிட்டன.  உடனே விமானத்தை லகுவார்டியாவில் தரை இறக்க வேண்டும் ஓடுபாதையை கிளியர் செய்து கொடுங்கள்” என்கிறார். நிலைமையின் தீவிரத்தை அறியாத விமான நிலைய அதிகாரிகள் விமானத்தை நியூ ஜெர்சியில் இருக்கிற டேடேர்போரோ விமான நிலையத்தில் இறக்குங்கள் எனத் தகவல் சொல்கிறார்கள்.

“விமானத்தை டேடர்போரோவில் இறக்குவதற்குச் சாத்தியமில்லை” என பைலட் பதிலளிக்கிறார். விமானம் ஜார்ஜ் வாஷிங்டன் பாலத்திற்கு மேலாகப் பறந்துக்கொண்டிருக்கிறது. பயணிகளுக்கு எந்தத் தகவலும் வழங்கப்படவில்லை. விமானத்தில் இருக்கிற 150 பயணிகளையும் காப்பாற்றியாக வேண்டிய அசாதாரண சூழ்நிலை. நொடிக்கு 18 அடி கீழ் நோக்கி விமானம் சென்றுகொண்டிருக்கிறது. தீவிரத்தை உணர்கிற பைலட் 3:28:10 நேரத்தில் விமானத்தை அட்சன் பகுதியில் இறக்குவதாக விமான நிலையத்திற்குத் தெரிவிக்கிறார். ஆனால், விமான நிலைய அதிகாரிகள் ”அட்சன் பகுதியிலா வேண்டாம்” என்கிறார்கள். காரணம் அட்சன் என்பது ஓடுதள பகுதி அல்ல என்பதே. நியூயார்க் நகரத்தில் இருக்கிற ஒரு ஆறு. ஜார்ஜ் வாஷிங்டன் பாலம் இருக்கிற நகரின் பரபரப்பான பகுதி. மொத்த விமான நிலையமும் பதற்றத்திற்கு வருகிறது. அட்சன் ஆறு ஐக்கிய அமெரிக்காவின் நியூயார்க்கின் கிழக்குப் பகுதியின் ஊடாகச் செல்லும் ஆறு. வடக்கிலிருந்து தெற்கு நோக்கி ஓடும் ஆற்றின் நீளம் 507 கிலோமீட்டர்கள்.

வேறு வழியின்றி விமானத்தை பைலட் அட்சன் ஆற்றுப் பகுதியில் இறக்க முடிவு செய்கிறார். பயணிகளுக்கு நிலைமை எடுத்துச் சொல்லப்படுகிறது. விமான ஒலிபெருக்கியின் மூலம் விமானிப் பயணிகளுடன் உரையாடுகிறார். பயணிகள் பயத்தில் உறைகிறார்கள். அடுத்து என்ன நடக்கும் என்பதை யூகிக்க முடியாத சூழல். விமான நிலையக் கட்டுப்பட்டு அறையில் இருக்கிற அதிகாரிகள் நியூயார்க் கடற்படைக்குத் தகவல் கொடுக்கிறார்கள். கடற்படையின் படகுகள் கப்பல்கள் குறிப்பிட்ட இடத்திற்குக் கிளம்புகின்றன. பாதுகாப்பு ஹெலிகாப்டர்கள், படகுகள் என அட்சன் ஆறு மிகப்பெரிய விபத்திற்கு தயாராகிறது

3:30  நிமிடத்திற்கு பைலட் விமானத்தை அட்சன் ஆற்றில் இறக்குகிறார். ஆற்றுக்கும் விமானத்திற்குமான இடைவெளி 500 அடியிலிருந்து தீவிரமாகக் கண்காணிக்கப்படுகிறது. 100 அடி, 50 அடி, 20 அடி, 10 அடி எனக் குறைகிறது. 0.  அவ்வளவுதான். அதிபயங்கரச் சத்தத்துடன் விமானம் ஆற்றில் பாய்கிறது. அட்சன் பகுதிக்குப் பக்கத்தில் இருக்கிற மக்கள் பேராபத்தை உணர்கிறார்கள். விமானம் ஆற்றில் பாய்ந்த அடுத்த நிமிடம் ஆற்றில் மிதக்க ஆரம்பிக்கிறது. நல்ல வேளையாக விமானம் தீப்பிடிக்கவில்லை. விமானத்தின் தானியங்கி கதவுகள் மூடிக்கொள்கின்றன. கதவுகள் மனித முயற்சியில் திறக்கப்படுகிறது. அடித்துப் பிடித்துக்கொண்டு பயணிகள் விமானத்திலிருந்து வெளியே வருகிறார்கள். சிலர் பதற்றத்தில் வெளியே குதிக்கிறார்கள். குளிர்காலம் என்பதால் நீர் ஐந்து டிகிரி குளிராக இருக்கிறது. விமானத்திலிருந்து வெளியே வந்தவர்களை குளிர் வாட்டி வதைக்க ஆரம்பிக்கிறது. விமானத்தின் இறக்கைப் பகுதிகளில் ஏறி நின்று  கொண்டு உதவிக்கு அழைக்கிறார்கள். விமானம் ஆற்றில் இறங்கிய நான்கு நிமிடங்களில் கடற்படையின் படகுச் சம்பவ இடத்திற்கு வந்து சேர்கிறது. பயணிகளில் ஒருவர் மாற்றுத் திறனாளி. விமானம் கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சமாக நீரில் மூழ்க ஆரம்பிக்கிறது. கடற்படை வீரர்கள் பயணிகள் எல்லோரையும் பத்திரமாக மீட்கிறார்கள். படகுகள் மூலம் எல்லோரும் மீட்டு ஆற்றின் கரைக்குக் கொண்டுவரப்படுகிறார்கள். 3:55 நிமிடத்தில் விமானத்தின் கடைசிப் பயணியும் பத்திரமாக மீட்கப்படுகிறார். எல்லோரும் காப்பாற்றபட்டார்கள் என்பதை உறுதி செய்கிற விமான பைலட் கடைசியாக வெளியே வருகிறார். ஐந்து பயணிகள் பெரிய காயங்களுடன் மருத்துவமனையில் சேர்க்கப்படுகிறார்கள். எழுபத்தி எட்டு பயணிகளுக்குச் சிறிய காயங்கள். சிலர் குளிர் காய்ச்சலுக்கு ஆளானார்கள். ஒரு பயணிக்கு விமானத்தின் எரிபொருள் கண்ணில் பட்டதில் பார்வை போனது.

பெரிதாக எந்த அசம்பாவிதமும் அந்த விபத்தில் நிகழவில்லை. பயணிகள் பைலட்டை தூக்கிவைத்து கொண்டாடுகிறார்கள். விபத்து நடந்த இரண்டாம் நாள் விமானம் ஆற்றுப் படுக்கையிலிருந்து மீட்டு நியூ ஜெர்சிக்குக் கொண்டு செல்லப்படுகிறது. விஷயம் நீதி மன்றத்துக்குச் செல்கிறது. விமான நிர்வாகம் விமான பைலட்டை குற்றம் சாட்டுகிறது. விமானத்தை டேடர்போரோ விமான நிலையத்தில் தரை இறக்கி இருக்கலாம்; அதற்கான நேரம் இருந்தது. ஆனால் விமானி அவசரப்பட்டு விமானத்தை ஆற்றில் இறக்கிவிட்டார் என வாதாடுகிறது. விமானி செஷ்லே சுல்லேன்பெர்கர் அந்த நேரத்தில் பயணிகள் உயிர் குறித்து மட்டுமே சிந்தித்ததாகச் சொல்கிறார். அதை ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளாத விமான நிறுவனம் நீதிமன்ற உத்தரவுபடி ஒரு விமானத்தை சோதனை முயற்சியாக விபத்து நடந்த இடத்திலிருந்து டேடர்போரோ விமான நிலையத்தி இறக்கிக் காட்டுகிறது. ஆனால், விபத்துக்குள்ளான விமானத்தின் விமானி ”சோதனை செய்யப்பட்ட விமானிக்கு என்ன நடக்கப்போகிறது எனத் தெரியும். அதனால் அவர் எளிதாக விமானத்தை தரையிறக்கி விட்டார். மேலும் அவர் அதற்காகப் பயிற்சி பெற்றிருக்கிறார். ஆனால் என்னுடைய நிலை வேறு” எனச் சொல்லி வாதிடுகிறார்.

விமான நிர்வாகம் அதை ஏற்றுக் கொள்ளாமல் மீண்டும் ஒரு  சோதனை முயற்சியில் இறங்குகிறது. நடுவானில் விமானத்தின் இரு எஞ்ஜின்களையும் செயலிழக்கச் செய்து டேடர்பெரோ விமான நிலையத்தில் தரை இறக்குகிற முயற்சியில் இறங்கியது. விமானம் பெரிய சுவற்றில் மோதி விபத்துக்குள்ளாகிறது. அனைத்தையும் ஆராய்ந்த நீதிமன்றம் செஷ்லே சுல்லேன்பெர்கர் செய்தது சரி எனச் சொல்லி தீர்ப்பளிக்கிறது. செஷ்லே சுல்லேன்பெர்கர் விமானி பல பதக்கங்களைப் பெறுகிறார். விமான நிறுவனம் பயணிகளுக்கு இழப்பீடை வழங்கியது.

இந்தச் சம்பவத்தை மையமாக வைத்து ‘சல்லி(Sully)’ என்றொரு படம் வெளியானது. டாம் ஹாங்க்ஸ் நடித்திருந்தார்.

Source….George Anthony in http://www.vikatan.com

Natarajan

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Chandrakant Bhide: Here is Why RK Laxman Was a Fan of this Diligent Typist…

A typist is required to be fast and accurate, and while he proved to be precisely that, Bhide was much more too. Throw in artistic to those set of skills, and you have Chandrakant Bhide.

“Sachin Tendulkar’s curls gave me the most trouble!”

Chandrakant Bhide is a typist by profession. In 1967 he joined the Union Bank of India and worked there for 3 decades.

A rather implausible scenario for Tendulkar’s curls to give him grief, right?

A typist is required to be fast and accurate, and Bhinde proved he was precisely that but more too.

Throw in artistic to those set of skills, and you have Chandrakant Bhide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chandrakant Bhide and a typed out sketch of RK Laxman’s the Common Man

“Art helped me meet important people. How else does a modest typist like me get to meet and be appreciated by people like R. K. Laxman and Mario Miranda,” questions Mr Chandrakant Bhide?

Mr Bhide is anything but ‘just a typist’. His art is indicative of his sheer talent and why the likes of the above-mentioned greats were his fans.

Growing up, he always wanted to join an art school – specifically the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai.

But financial constraints forced him to take a more secure job.

“One day I was asked to type out a list of phone numbers, instead of typing a regular list, I made one in the shape of a telephone instrument,” he remembers. That was the beginning of many more artistic endeavours to come.

 

“I typed out Lord Ganesha using the ‘x’ key and it was published in the Maharashtra Times newspaper in 1975. I slowly started improvising and started using other keys like ‘_’, ‘=’, ‘@’, ‘-’, ‘,’ in my sketches,” recalls Bhide.

His father’s words inspired him to be better and do better. Each sketch takes him about 5-6 hours to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

Bhide’s sketches of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Sardar Patel done on the typewriter

“I hold the paper with my left hand and use the fingers on my right hand to type out the symbols. The different shades in a sketch are added by using a light or a hard touch on the keys. My hands start aching after 10-15 minutes, and so I need constant breaks,” he adds.

One day, Mr Bhide sketched RK Laxman’s, Common Man. It was a time when Xerox machines had just made their appearance. His friend helped him get copies and requested to keep the original.

 

 

 

 

 

A huge fan of RK Laxman’s work, Bhide has made several sketches of Laxman’s iconic “Common Man”, winning him the famous illustrator’s admiration

“I wanted to show the sketch to R.K. Laxman sir. I went to his office without an appointment and showed it to the cartoonist. Laxman sir was so thrilled with it that he said the result could not have been better with a pen and brush. We spent 1.30 hours talking, and I even mentioned my lost dream of studying in Sir J.J. School of Art, and he said, you can be an artist anyway!” he recalls.

Bhide continued to keep in touch with the famed cartoonist and takes great pride in having several original ‘Common Man’ sketches.

Over the years, Mr Bhide has created almost 150 sketches including several of people he admires including Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, Sunil Gavaskar, Dr Ambedkar, Lata Mangeshkar and more.

But it was Sachin Tendulkar’s curls that frustrated the master typer! “I finally used the ‘@’ symbol to get it right,” he recalls.

One of his fondest memories was meeting up with renowned cartoonist and illustrator Mario De Miranda via a common friend, the famous Behram Contractor also known as the Busy Bee. “I was nervous when I rang the bell to Mario’s home, but he soon put me to ease. Once he saw some of my sketches based on his famous characters (Ms Fonseca, Godbole and Boss), he autographed one of my sketches with the words – ‘I wish I could draw like you type.’ That was my biggest compliment,” says Mr Bhide.

Mario De Miranda encouraged and inaugurated Mr Bhide’s first exhibition. He went on to hold several more, including ones in festivals like IIT Mumbai’s Mood Indigo and IIT-Kanpur’s Antaragini.

Mr Chandrakant Bhide retired from the Union Bank of India in 1996. He approached the administration department with a request to buy his beloved companion, his typewriter but was denied it as it was against policy. But on the day of his farewell, the chairman of the Bank allowed him to buy it for just Rs. 1.

Today, the typewriter still holds a place of pride in his household. “It has been with me for fifty years now, I understand it, it understands me,” he chuckles.

Source….Uma Iyer in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

 

 

 

God on the Runway ….

As part of the custom, the idols along with temple elephants are taken to Shangumugam beach for the ritualistic bath.

For two days in a year, the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport halts its flight operations for five hours on the basis of a ‘Notice to Airmen’ (NOTAM).

Respecting a centuries old temple tradition, the airport runway makes way for a grand procession.

Saturday is one of the two days in a year that sees members of the Travancore royal family, temple priests, police, and even elephants walk down the runway, as part of the temple procession. Hundreds of people also escorted the idols past the 3400-metre runway.

Flights have been halted between 4pm and 9pm at Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.

 

The ‘Arat’ procession marks the conclusion of the Painkuni festival and the Alpassi festival. Painkuni and Alpassi are references to Tamil months. While Painkuni is in April, Alpassi is in October.

Arat is the ritualistic bath procession of temple idols at Sree Padmanabha Swami temple in Thiruvananthapuram. The procession, which began at 5pm, crossed the runway at 6.30 pm.

As part of the custom, the idols along with temple elephants are taken to Shangumugam beach for the ritualistic bath. The procession sees royal family members wearing traditional attire and carrying swords. All priests along with royal family members take a dip into the sea three times. The idols are also given a ritualistic bath.

The procession returns to the temple on the same route, accompanied by people carrying traditional fire lamps.

They have to, however, ensure that they clear the runway by 8.45pm.

“The ritual was started centuries ago when the Travancore royal family ruled here. Even after the airport was established, the procession continued to pass through the runway. When the airport was established in 1932, it was under the Royal Flying Club. Since then, the runway was open for these processions. Even after it was converted into an international airport in 1991, the practice continued as the tradition is very important to this place,” an airport official told TNM.

Since the runway is part of traditional arat procession route, the Airport Authority of India issues passes to those who participate in it. Only those who have a pass can enter the route and cross the runway to head to the beach.

“There are strict restrictions inside the airport area. CISF officials guarding the area allow only people with passes. We issue the pass only to people in the list given by temple authorities,” he added.

NOTAM is issued a week before these two dates in the year, so that all the international flights can change their schedule. NOTAM is a notice issued to pilots or airline operators before flights, alerting them of the circumstances or changes in aeronautical facilities or about local procedures that affect safety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source….Haritha John in http://www.the newsminute.com

Natarajan

 

 

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

 

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

 

Meet the Kerala family that has been creating ‘Onavillu’ for Onam for centuries …!

The Vilayil Veedu family is the only family entrusted to make the ‘Onavillu’ that is offered to the deity at Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

For the Vilayil Veedu family at Karamana it is a busy time of the year. The family of traditional craftsmen is the only family entrusted to make the ‘Onavillu’, a ceremonial bow that is offered to the deity at Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple here as part of the annual rituals during the Onam festival season.

Their house wears a festive look, as all the five male members of the family, including a 12-year-old, immerse themselves in the task of crafting these colourful bows.

“In these bows, we paint all the avatars of Vishnu. 12 of them are offered in the temple as a part of the ritual. Nowadays, even more, numbers are being offered at the temple. They consider it holy and keep it in their pooja rooms as well,” Binukumar, one of the craftsmen from the family, told TNM.

The bow is a broad piece of wood, tapering on both sides, on which miniature paintings of the Ananthasayanam, Dasavatharam, Sreerama Pattabhishekam and the Sreekrishnaleela are portrayed.

Earlier the ‘villus’ were 3.5-4.5 feet long and 4-6 inches wide. But, now the family have introduced 1.5 feet long small bows that can be used by everyone.

The making of the Onavillu is an age-old tradition that has continued over the years from the 16th century. The family members observe a 41-day penance prior to the commencement of the work.

“We have to be pure while we make this. We are vegetarians and follow certain other norms while making it. There are certain mantras to be chanted while carving and drawing each Onavillu,” he added.

Earlier the making would take place only during the Onam season but now with people buying for their home, the craftsmen work throughout the year.

The red tassels used to adorn the ‘villu’, which is known as ‘Kunjalam’, are made by the convicts of the Central Jail at Poojappura here.

Last week the jail authorities handed over this year’s required ‘Kunjalam’ to the Vilayil family.

“Kunjalam making was started decades ago by the jail inmates. There is a weaving unit in the jail.  The Kunjalam was prepared under the guidance of the instructor. We make it as per the order given by the temple,” S Santhosh, Poojappura jail superintendent told TNM.

He also says that even the prisoners observe penance before and while weaving the Kunjalam.

“They don’t take any non-vegetarian food, make themselves clean before starting the work and also do certain prayers,” he added.

Binukumar said that at prison these ‘Kunjalams’ are made by the inmates irrespective of caste or religion. “People belonging to all religion are involved in the making of Kunjalam. Surprisingly they all observe the penance so that the Onavillu’s holiness is not lost,” he added.

The ‘villus’ are first offered to the family deity at the Valiya Veedu for three days. They are then taken to Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple on Thiru Onam day and displayed at the Natakasala before being offered to the deity.

Edited by Kannaki Deika

Source….Haritha John in http://www.thenewsminute.com

Photos : Sreekesh Raveendran Nair