Friday, August 8, 2008

While moving around Taj Mahal...

Taj Mahal is one among 'New seven wonders of the World’, voted by millions of admirers globally. Many years ago UNESCO has given special status to Taj Mahal among the World Heritage Sites describing it as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”.

July 31, 2008 witnessed a landmark ceremony at Taj Mahal. People offered 250 meters long cloth at the mausoleum of Emperor Shah Jahan on the occasion of his 353rd death anniversary. August 8, ’08 (8-8-8) signifies in my life that has driven me to post this article on Taj Mahal to highlight outstanding relationship between wife and husband.

I had three unique opportunities viewing Taj Mahal and spend time at this architectural marvel signifying love. All those three occasions were exclusive and overwhelming experiences for me.

- Gorgeous Taj Mahal appearing just before dawn on a mild foggy morning is a splendid view. First an outline sketch with hazy appearance... slowly turning into a clear image as if I am watching artist’s work on a canvass.

- Graceful Taj Mahal seen before me during bright day light and slowly fading away through mild orange light of dusk is an eventful experience.

- Taj Mahal... the marble beauty and her special appearance on full moon light is a spectacular show exquisitely experienced.

Every time I visited Taj, apart from appreciating it’s architectural beauty, a significant thought surrounded my mind was all about great intrinsic yet most graceful relationship, that might have prevailed between the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his Queen Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bano Begum). That special bondage might have strongly motivated him to build such a magnificent masterpiece to keep up a promise given to his beloved queen during her last breath. I believe the bondage might be beyond all worldly relations but a profound intimacy and unconditional love emerging from their heart through deep understanding developed between wife and husband. The Queen Mumtaj might have showered close intimacy and true affection that left deep impressions on Emperor’s heart for ever. Such relationship so carefully nurtured over a period of time was a pure human bondage bridging hearts of wife and husband. Such relationship attains special significance of intrinsic love in family life. Personal feelings of happiness, sorrows, etc., if shared among wife and husband are so significant that such perfect bondage formed is inseparable even if they are apart due to any reason.

Cultures might differ, lifestyles might change but, Taj Mahal will always stay in the hearts of people all over the world signifying true love.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008


This unique flower popularly known as "Mayflower", comes to full bloom in the month of May in our home garden. When it is at full bloom, attains typical spherical shape; very attractive and beautiful. Stays fresh for few days and then vanish. I have no complete information about this particular plant except that it is bulb plant with few broad leaves surrounding the flowering stalk. Mayflowers by description are different than this particular plant. Viewers are invited to supplement with further information on this plant.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Value of Friendship

A friend hears the song
in my heart
and sings it to me
when my memory fails
- Athena

True friendship is a valuable relationship that must be regarded forever.

When I think of friendship, my memories go back to those beautiful childhood days I spent with my friends in our native village…. playing in agricultural fields and mango gardens, picking flowers and sweet fruits from wild herbs, flying kites and sharing food items prepared by my grandmother. Those stories we shared, the games we played were all different than present. Momentarily, there were few innocent quarrels too for no sound reasons. Those fights never came in our way of friendship but helped understanding each other in a better way. That was entirely different world. Thanks to all my childhood friends and the friendship I share with them. I still have contacts with them and just we had phone conversations greeting each other and recalling those beautiful memories.

The next phase of friendship was during my college days. I had classmates who are great friends of mine… I like them so much for their intrinsic values. They have supported me in many ways. Some of them have strong influence in shaping up my life too. Some of them emotionally supported me. Some of them have inspired me in studies. Few friends have even financially helped me when I was facing financial crunch for a while during study period. They might have forgotten the help they have extended but I never forget those precious moments. Few weeks ago we had get together of all classmates in Hyderabad after 25 years. It was truly amazing meet after a long gap. A photo album was released on that day filled with college day memories to present family life. It was great piece of work!

The third phase… friends of my family life and career. Some of them are very helpful to my family members as well. This was mutually beneficial. My in-country and international friends are very supportive in my career. Those friendships are at high level of maturity with professional and intellectual caliber.

All my friends are truly remarkable and I owe them for their great support in all walks of my life. Hearty Greetings to all of them on the occasion of Friendship Day!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Glimpses of 1980 Grand Solar Eclipse

As most of us know that a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon comes in between the Sun and the Earth. I just recall one particular solar eclipse in India occurred on February 16, 1980, while I was with my grandparents in our native village. That significant event prompted me to write an article when one more eclipse is just passing on today. That was one of the spectacular events that I have ever experienced under enthusiasm and scientific temper.

Much before the event occurred, newspapers and radio (TV was not popular during those days) were widely publicizing about significance of that rare event occurs only once in a life time. I also heard about how the scientists all over the World coming to India with special equipments to record the event amidst fears that cloudy weather during that moment can spoil all their efforts. According to scientists, those scientific observations provide crucial clues about Sun’s surface. Similarly, I read the news that biologists were also making their own arrangements to record specific observations. The news had created lot of zeal in me. I was 18 years old young boy, just passed class XII, having lot of interest to explore science. My curiosity increased further when the eventful day was fast approaching.

The danger
At the same time, there were severe warnings about total blindness that might happen to people who will directly watch the event without protective measures. The scientific reason they explained was that because it was a total solar eclipse, there will be momentary darkness that creates eagerness to watch the event with naked eye. At that time, the pupil in the eye dilate more, because of low light... allowing harmful rays to pass through and touch retina. Within no time, as the moon slides away, more intensity radiation passing through, while the eye’s pupil would take a moment to adjust itself. This situation is more dangerous than directly watching the bright Sun. Keeping those precautions in mind, I had decided to do something special.
I still remember those stories heard during my childhood about the eclipse that occurs when a big monster snake swallows the Sun.

My objectives
While the people in the village were busy making arrangements for rituals after eclipse, I had my own plans to record each moment of those precious minutes realizing that it will never come again in my life. Though, I had limited knowledge of experimentation, determined to make few observations based on text book knowledge. I set the following simple objectives for my study:
Objective 1: Making scientific observations on the sequence of events during this solar eclipse.
Objective 2: Observing momentary influence on birds, animals, insects, plants etc.

A no-cost observatory
One plain paper was taken and put a pin hole on it and placed on a mirror covering it, projected into a room on the wall. Clearly I could see the full size of sun and watch the eclipse sitting in my room. Used X-ray film (now considered unsafe) having dark portion was taken and covered on a plain goggles. Those were my simple equipments. That how, I avoided direct exposure to Sun but still watching the event.

My Observations
Phase I: As eclipse had commenced, initially there was no much significance.

Phase II: Couple of minutes before full eclipse, I had clearly observed shadow bands appearing on walls like waves on the surface.

Phase III: The time of full eclipse was highly significant. Slowly the light intensity decreased to a stage that all objects were visible in a typical dark gray shade at that low light intensity. All of a sudden, there was phenomenal change in the behavior of birds. Birds were making typical noise as if there was sudden sunset and they failed to reach their trees on time. They were in a hurry to move quickly. At the moment of total eclipse, I could see a ring shape. Few seconds later, I could clearly see a diamond on one side of the ring appeared as the moon was sliding away a little bit. This was spectacular event I never forget in my life.

Phase IV: After the diamond ring, light slowly coming to normal and the behavior of the birds also found normal.

I could not find any behavioral changes on domestic animals as well as insects (particularly ants) with in my vicinity. Human behavior was significant. Every one stopped doing work and curiously watched at the change.

My experiment on plants (iodine test) indicated that there was considerable reduction in starch content on a portion of leaf exposed during the period of eclipse indicating low photosynthetic activity during eclipse.

Years passed. Several eclipse events occurred. Still the 1980 solar eclipse marks special significance in my book of memories.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A poetic expression on flowers

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.

(A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, II, 1)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friendship like a garden of flowers...

Friendship is like a garden
of flowers, fine and rare,

It cannot reach perfection
except through loving care;

Then new and lovely blossoms
with each new day appear…

For friendship, like a garden,
grows in beauty year by year.

- Anon

Monday, July 28, 2008

Scientific description of flowers

Scientifically speaking, a flower is nothing but a bunch of spore-bearing leaves surrounded by whorl of protective and attractive leaves.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Close encounters of flower and insect kingdoms!

More than 130 million years ago, the ‘co-evolution’ process triggered encounters between flowering plants and insects benefiting both. Flowers evolved into attractive shapes and petals with stunning colours… as a center of attraction. Petals also served as a convenient place of landing for insects like bees, wasps to enjoy nutritious nectar offered to them. Insects have adjusted their mouth parts and other organs to accommodate the offers given by plants. Those guests acted as pollinators, helped evolution and spread of flowering plants. Amazing co-existence through evolution!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Amazing Water Lily

Water lily is considered as one of the ancient flowering species on Earth. At the time of origin, water lilies were one among first two branches on the family tree of flowering plants. Their origins go back over 140 million years, while dinosaurs were still living on the Earth. Thus, water lilies became living fossils linking ages of extinct dinosaurs with modern age of human beings.

Violet glory

Photogenic hibiscus

The spark that ignited that ‘explosion’ was the petal. Petals created much more diversity. This is now a widely accepted notion.… -Friis

Bird of Paradise

If all Earth's history were compressed into an hour, flowering plants would exist for only the last 90 seconds. But once they took firm root about 100 million years ago, they swiftly diversified in an explosion of varieties that established most of the flowering plant families of the modern world. - Michael Klesius

Flowers for Human Race

"If it weren't for flowering plants, we humans wouldn't be here."
- Walter Judd, Botanist, University of Florida

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flowering Philately

Philately is one of the most delightful hobbies giving immense value and pleasure to admirers of postage stamps. Theme based collection of stamps narrate interesting stories of the subject chosen for study. The collection also improves understanding and in-depth knowledge on the subject of study. Good research being done around the World on various stamp collections and meaningful conclusions drawn based on subject, history and antique value.

The first theme I have chosen in my collection is ‘flowers’, as a mark of aesthetic sense in our lives. Presenting flowers is one of the universal forms of expressing greetings and show our affection. Flowers in philately might draw ones attention and show how various nations acknowledge their love for flowers and spread the message across continents through stamps. Orchids for instance are rare to find and expensive but they are reaching millions through postal stamps. In this e-mail era, use of postal stamps has considerably reduced hence philately gains historical importance over time. Thanks to internet communication that it is allowing to exhibit our collections and improve our understanding on the subject at length.

There are number of philatelic societies operating around the World. Few philatelists have exclusive collections with themes like flowers, animals, events, monuments, persons and so on. Literature is also available on philately. Some enthusiastic collectors organize exhibitions too. Changing perception on philately is a matter of study for academicians.

Those who have not started philately yet, it is not too late to start collection. Postal system is fully operative in many parts of the world. The art of presentation also gains importance besides simple collection. One can create their own personal museum with minimum costs. Few might take up philately as a profession too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grandmother’s communication technique in a new land

Imagine you are in a new place where language, cultures and people are different. How to deal with that situation? Here is my grandmother’s way of S-S communication!

Nearly 21 years passed when I got my first employment in a public research and development institution, stationed in the foothills of Himalayas called Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, India. Palampur is 2000 kilometers away from my native place and situated in cold region at 2000 meters above mean sea level. I was hesitant to go there from south but my grandmother (nearly 65 years at that time) stood up my side and came forward to accompany me.

The place, climate, culture, traditions, language and people were all new. Nothing bothered her at all. She managed to communicate with this new group in a new environment with her own S-S communication technique and soon became favorite grandmother for all.

The communication technique she adopted was “Smile and Sign”; I named it “S-S communication”. It is quite simple. In a friendly gesture, she used to affectionately smile at the new person and instantly communicate with him/her in self-styled signs and intermittent laughs. Though she had no formal higher education, soon she became popular among youngsters, children and even intellectuals of the society. Education and generation gaps did not bother her much. Her next step was to help people with her extraordinary skill of preparing tasty south Indian foods and share among her friends. Among those, egg omelet was famous. Often, our family and friends used to mention that grandmother must patent her formulation. Her caring skills were outstanding.

Time passed, we left the place. Recently when I visited the place after long years, every one enquired about my grandmother. They were sad knowing that my grandmother is no more. But she is alive in every ones heart through her S-S communication and caring skills. She was successful in establishing ‘bondage’ with new people through S-S communication and caring skills.

When I visited Germany, China, Ecuador where languages and cultures are new to me, I tried my grandmother’s S-S communication technique. It worked very well. Don’t hesitate trying this when you are in a new place. It is lot more enjoyment too! No wonder, if this technique works well when you encounter an alien!


Know about flowering plants

Nearly 80 percent of green plants flower.

Official estimates indicate existence of 250,000 to 400,000 flowering plants on earth.

Evidences shown that flowering plants existed 130,000,000 years ago.

Agriculture almost depends on flowering plants.

Grass, legume and night shade families among major flowering families feed the world.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wild Yellow Ray

Flowering plants were categorized into over 46o families

Lovely Twins

Origin of flowering plants was described as “abominable mystery” by
Charles Darwin