Monday, February 27

A 'Rang De Basanti' and A Reflection

There are many good things in life that makes you want to discard your principles just to enjoy it at least once. Sometimes the principles have no meanings. So Bob and I decided to watch the Hindi flick Rang De Basanti over the weekend. I’ve stayed away from Hindi movies for so long, waiting for it, if there are the occasional important ones, to be dubbed into Tamil. Then comes this movie, with our own Madhavan and Sidarth in it and with ARR’s music that you can’t resist. And the reviews were good, so we went to get our weekly life changing dose of mental drugs. Oh…and what principle you ask? Well it’s all about being a Tamil and getting lost in this war for the recognition of my culture stuff, nothing important…

Rang De Basanti is a Hindi movie, or lets say an Indian movie starring Amir Khan, Alice Patten, Sidarth, Atul Kulkarni and others with Madavhan in a guest role. It tells the story of a documentary film maker from England on a trip to India to make a feature on revolutionary Indian youths and their roles in the history of Indian freedom movements. The fast paced cinematography reveals a stylish production in the likes of indie movies with stunning visuals and background music. AR-Rehman created a youthful mood that would have made the story excel in any language or country. Amir Khan and his clan of happy go lucky friends who philosophically challenge modern day India with extremely funny moments and superb dialogues. In a nutshell the movie was magnificent in all aspects and should be watched by all youths seeking a purpose in life.

A few years back Dil Chata Hai came out to revolutionize the Hindi movie scene, changing them from the pretenders they became into a much more modern era and gave the essential identity to Indian youths. It describes how to live your life in this chaotic world, how to find the niche among you and your friends. Rang De Basanti started out in the same direction, at least for the few moments of screenplay before taking the viewers into a ride of their lives, bringing a matured story about youths struggling and successfully engaging us to the very real scenes depicted. Rang De Basanti tells us the real purpose of life, of what to do with our lives. The suppressed voices of freedom movements in the viewpoint of youths who would never have imagined they can change their worlds and others.

In an unfair comparison, I thought the strong moments in the movie, the critical scenes could have been done better by Mani Ratnam. Sometimes you have to try harder to bring out the fierceness in the story to leave a lasting mark among the viewers. In the end the team of Rang De Basanti did extraordinarily well in putting together a movie that would have been hard to digest if any other mediocre movie maker dabbled with it. And to stay away from masala and commercial movie urges is very brave indeed. How Tamil movies would be better if they dared to be different. I guess in the end it all depends on the story you have and how you mould it into the two hours while not loosing the real purpose of the movie. In another reflection too, you wonder whether India or any country out there would welcome a Rang De Basanti styled revolution or live with the reality of a Nayagan styled community.

So do go watch the movie, not only for the southern influence in it, not only for ARR, but for the challenge the movie imposes on all youths out there.
[+] Official site of the movie;[RangDeBasanti]
[+] A Wiki entry for the movie;[RDB]

A Reflection

It rained heavily while we drove back home. The incessant torrential rains flooded most of the streets in KL and in the backdrops are the famous towers illuminated by electric lightning. In darkness this imposing city in a so called multicultural country holds many barred voices struggling for freedom. There are very few powers in modern day politics that can be ruffled by call for freedom or transparency. But all around this time tested system laid youth movements who throughout history have proven that a collective and concentrated effort can conquer governments. But the rain diluted many of the emotions that Rang De Basanti liberated in me, a powerful movie that stands out among the very few Indian movies that spoke of youth politics.

To challenge an establishment we need clear guidance and motives. Any struggle needs a leader to move ahead in any situation to realize the goals that we’re fighting for. Today, what really matters is bringing together the right people who can forge ahead and fight for freedom. And to fight we need to know what we’re fighting for. Everyday we’re slowly loosing our rights to speak and to act. We’re continuously stifled of our true potentials in the name of democracy and tolerance. Our past are being erased and slowly replaced by pretenders who practice violence while everyone knows we’re simply asking for the rights to live. This is not a local problem, if you view it as a problem. This is more of a call for a united voice to prevent racism, violence, terrorism, and anything that would destroy our civilization in the future.

What does the lost youth wants? In reality he or she wants to be heard. We all have dreamed of a utopian future, read somewhere of a borderless world where we can share our thoughts and change the community. It’s the story of making decisions, or the rights to make decisions that’s increasingly fading away from our hands. There was a time when youth movements brought down governments who betrayed the very people who formed them. What is the call of democracy? Democracy means the voice of the people, but why is our voice never heard? In a transcending economy, growing beyond the reach of their neighbors, there is also the little know fact that it also reaches beyond the people. Civil liberty means that everyone should have a voice and also a piece of the dynamics of the country. When every voice is heard, and everyone is involved in building a government, then we can slowly change the arcane system towards a safe and modern society.

In essence the voice of the youth is the key to change to the future. Reflecting on the local scenes, the tyranny of the forces who were armed to protect the citizens, the rubbish attitude of the local governments (whom the people lost touch when they lost the right to vote them in) and ultimately the core of the nation whose chaotic governance can be seen everyday in the media. We have indeed lost our rights to question, and those who try are not getting their desired answers. How do we forge a dynamic self sufficient youth movement who doesn’t get into trouble in the eyes of the laws of the pretenders? We fight for the rights of the people with whatever means we have, the internet and the global call for human rights to be ratified by every government and every single citizen of the world. We start out in our own area of expertise, we gather people and support to immediately change the corrupt system and in the process highlight the malaise that’s eating our community.

Until that one day when we realize behind the makeup lays a system that disables the weak and silences the emergent voices, we will remain complaining and dying on the streets. And no one will be there to ask the questions for us if we forever be complacent of the defects around us and be satisfied with the smallest pleasures that the organized governments preaches. It’s true in every country on earth and it will be default has it not yet everywhere, so that our generation and the generations to come will be puppets of someone else’s false destiny.
-gP2006-
P/s:
[+] And finally, my Thaipusam videos are updated in Google Video!!! (just go to google video and type Thaipusam in the search box and you will find it) or hit this link;[ghostthaipusam]

Wednesday, February 22

Devil's Utopia

It started silently, on a Tuesday evening. The day has no significance. The screen glowed green initially. It changes every week or so. The light was metallic green to be exact. The kind that attracts attention fast, something that makes you want to tell you friends, and then just sit and watch it. He walked into the room, as usual following his mechanically perfect routine, unsuspecting of the change. It took him a good minute to realize the glow from the set echoing on the walls. He was surprised for another minute, stood there thinking, recalling for another minute and then walked near it slowly. It was all new to him, it was not there yesterday. Slow minutes passed as he perfected the dimensions of the thing into his brain. Surely it’s artificial and from the looks of it, it’s certainly modern. It went against his conventions.

The first few programs or moving imagery as he termed it showed vivid images of people killing each other. Lots of blood, screams of pain, carnage and rotting flesh. He dared not touch the thing. But then again he could not move away. He had things to do, projects to finish, his grand experiments. Not that the images did not bring any emotions too him, it’s all too new to him. He never saw anything like that before. He’d seen dead people, but not the kind with open wounds, burning flesh or the ones screaming silently dying.

Another week went by and he’s still transfixed to the screen. He noticed that the sound actually fluctuates from time to time. Certain shows were much louder than some. Occasionally there would be a pause of an hour or two. After a few hours he learned that it was to be his rest time too. He went ahead fast, to finish his chores, clean himself, and came back to discover more of the thing, always. On the second week the lights were faint orange. Again one of those colors that captures your senses, seeping slowly into your chemical systems, relaxing you and opening up your brain to everything. The shows this week were all of history. He knew history; it was his favorite subject back at the academy. He learned before how his ancestors came to this barren land and built a civilization. Teaching the natives how to use tools and languages and in return they were given land to settle. But the history programs on the thing were different. It did show his people, or what looked like people with his skin color and language, but then it showed his people suffering more and more in lands far away. How his people were made to slave for other people and fight other peoples war. His people were taunted on the streets, suffered in famine and disease while their masters just kicked them away. Killed them, piled them up high in the street corners and burned their corpses, some still alive. He cried for the first time. Some sort of anger builds up in him, together with hatred towards the other people.

(By the time the screen glowed blue, he already made up his mind. He learned enough of it, enough of what he’d seen so far. He wanted to watch more but the message was there right in front of him.)

It was very clear from the start. He was surprised it was that easy to follow since even his field of interest took decades to understand. When the second week ended, he was already taking notes, part habit, partly to decipher the real message from the thing. He noticed too the rest periods getting longer and longer, like an instruction to him to do something. The programs in the third week were mostly on education. Specifically it teaches how to regain their lost glory. They, his people, their lost rights in lands far away. There was a part of him, deep inside his heart that told him to rationalize, but that was suppressed throughout the weeks. Whoever made the thing, created the content was a genius. Much smarter and real than his invisible masters of rationale, he realized he’s been away from reality for so long. His tools changed, morphed slowly at first, then more and more imposing as the month reached its end. What was a clutter of electronics, wires and small tools were now assembled into something powerful. It was his answer, what he perceived as his contribution to his people.

So now, at the end of the month, the blue screen welcomed him from his short sleep. He sat there, in front of his master, the thing with no name while he ate his food. He’s a different person now, thinner, pale and his eyes are red. The blue screen shows were mostly religious. Calming him, teaching him aspects of his religion he never thought existed. How could he not have known them, he read every single religious book back at the academy, but somehow he missed the most important things. He’s going to be a martyr soon. His name will echo in eternity, a salvation to his people, not some hidden agenda, but something everyone will follow openly. He was amazed on how much he could have done if he discovered his peoples suffering earlier. He was too ignorant, stuck into his books; learning preaching’s of wooden saints, of science and materials. Nobody ever talked of humans. He left his room and walked to fulfill his destiny.

In between the rushing paramedics and wailing siren, they found him. What’s left of him at least. His eyes were frozen, like crystal balls, telling some lost story. His other body parts were pieced together later at the pathology table. The doctors had a hard time matching the scattered parts. So many have died, mutilated body parts lined the floor of the mortuary, ice boxes, numbered with mug shots of their faces, if it still existed. From the security camera they saw his ghostly thin figure, making his way towards the school compound. He was dressed smartly, in his best. But no one is there to know this. He shaved and even wore a tie. The occasional parents outside the school must have mistaken him for a father. It ran for another minute before a flash of light, an ear piercing sound and flying metal parts knocked down the camera. The fact that he hid his face with his hand were a surprise, he was smiling warmly to a little boy who walked in front of him seconds before he blew up.

Half a day later in the news, some obscure group from one corner of the globe claimed responsibility of the attacks. Half a day, it took the news to hit the airways, that’s how common this thing has become. The coroner identified the man as a scientist, still single, in his forties. A week later a group of men and women, found trying to escape into the neighboring country were nabbed and proclaimed to be part of the cell whose ultimate plan ware to blow up the whole city. A month later the final piece of report from the lab revealed the bomb to be of some crude pieced together electronics with solid explosives ingeniously home made. The report also stated that the diagram for the bomb were available on the internet. On the concluding page of the report, the casualty toll of the explosion stood at 343 dead, 89 injured with still a couple of body parts unidentified. A few months after, the gang members were released of detention because of international pressure from human rights groups. They were held without trial and somehow they had a self appointed lawyer. They promptly left the country, their final images showing the group leader holding a flag of their movement. A year later a memorial service is held at the site of the explosion, a monument was erected by a prominent sculptor. Thousands of flower bouquets lay along the road leading towards the now closed school and 343 white doves were released to mark the number of dead identified. A peace group held a candle light vigil throughout the week, while internet sites highlighted the event to the world. The nation’s leader gave a moving speech, later made known through the press to be written by his award winning press secretary. Opposition leaders blasted the leader’s lack of respect for the gravity of the situation. The leader banned the newspaper that published the sensational story. The doves were released exactly at the time the bomb went off. The parents of some of the children wept openly. Someone fainted. A few students who survived hugged each other.

That night everyone around the country sat in front of the telly to watch the news of the event. The newscaster began with…” Breaking new, this just in. A bomb exploded in the city of this far away country. Early reports shows it to be a huge explosion and many were feared dead. We’re getting live images now, from the scene…” Everyone sat there riveted to the screen, an angry orange red light from it casts shadows on their walls. A huge mushroom cloud rose over the city…
-gP2006-
(c) GhostParticle, 2006

Monday, February 20

Thaipusam 2006 (Sungai Petani); A Flashback and A Celebration

There are many defining moments in life that we wish we never forget. Some are truly amazing and worth sharing. My earliest memories of the Thaipusam celebrations come from when I was five years old. Well that’s as far back as my grandma helped me remember. (Thaipusam is a grand festival celebrated mainly by south Indians (Tamils) and their Diaspora around the world in the month of Thai in the Tamil calendar. In Malaysia, this colorful and spirited celebration has been continuing for more than a hundred years at the many Murugan temples around the country. Batu Caves in Selangor is one of the most important places in the world where the tradition is practiced by more that a million devotees. The Arulmigu Bala Thandayithapani Temple in Penang and Sri Subramaniar Swami Devastanam in Sungai Petani also sees the gathering of hundreds of thousands of devotees every year.)

Thaipusam for me is a majestic mix of humanity and age old tradition. It brings deep satisfaction just to witness the complexity of the tradition and at the same time continues to intrigue me on how so much have changed or evolved throughout the years. Twenty years back when I started to understand the world, people had more faith and genuine interest in coming to temples in the early hours and paying their penance with unrivaled concentration. It’s something like surrendering to God, letting the soul float to cleanse ourselves or to ‘ask’ for something. Time just drifts past, sometimes frozen to let people view things that are probably so significant in their lives, but in my eyes everything is simply a magical mix of smoke and colors. Imagine a million incense sticks burning, together with brightly flaming camphor tablets and half cut coconuts in front of devotees drenched in water praying deep to get into trance. As the vague image vibrates, the single devotee suddenly erupts into trance, swaying, dancing and no one does anything actually but to watch him. Then in seconds everyone’s in trance, their minds focused into something or towards God, with devotional songs playing loudly around the temple. I escaped the scene, walked to the temple pond to see more devotees in the waters, immersing themselves fully, preparing to take Palkudams, the hundreds and hundreds of pots of milk to be taken to Lord Muruga, and at one corner children being shaved bald following another unwritten rule to present the God with their first strands of hair. Everywhere I pan that image; there are people, walking past, standing, chanting almost in unison, like millions of electrons, carefully going their way, doing their part to offer their prayers to the invisible God. Imagining that one moment in time brings deep happiness being able to relive culture and also sadness as why I’m still confused of this concept of religion.

Years go by, the Sungai Petani Thaipusam celebrations is a yearly event, marked in everyone’s calendar. Those three days where Indians take over the sleepy town, turning it into a huge carnival. Almost everyone will be at the temple, from every corner of the town, from the estates from all over the state. Thaipusam also means business, and that would explain why I was at the temple every year when I was growing up as a silent witness of my culture. My grandma would open a food stall in the temple compounds and together with dozens of other stalls offer Indian food everyday for the traveling devotees. Thosai never tasted as good as before, nothing does. Those were the times when everyone is a friend, when everyone is an Indians no matter if they’re Chinese or Hindus. We never do go back during Thaipusam, I slept in the temple hall, occasionally waking up when there’s announcements on the PA system of lost children. I never got lost as long as I remembered, and of course if anyone does, the rational thing is to go home and wait for everyone to come back. But it’s another of those ‘events’ when everyone will rush to see the crying little boy or girl struggling to spell out their parents name amid all the attention. And sadly when the parents do come, it was not happy at all because the kid will get a nice spanking for wandering off in the crowd. How do he or she explains the thousands of people jostling around that excited their brave minds. Those little memories. And do you know the food prices will double or triple during the festival. No one really cares, as long as everyone manages to get something out of it, because it happens only once a year.

Thaipusam also means that every criminal and gangster out there will gather to test everyone’s patience. And every year the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) police force will be stationed there to protect everyone. Well, almost everyone because for every Thaipusam that I remember someone will get killed. My uncle mentioned that the police rounded up all the gangsters before the festival and locks them up for a few days to thwart any incidence. Traffic will be a nightmare because certain roads will be closed to enable the Kavadi and Chariot procession. The original route of the procession was much longer and goes into the center of town from the Muniandy Temple and Vinayagar Temple compounds covering almost 4 kilometers before arriving at the Murugan Temple. Nowadays it’s rerouted as to reduce the traffic jams and also control unwanted tragedies. It also marks the thinning crowd as a lot of people visits Penang which has a bigger celebration. It’s all about the people and the feeling of being in a huge crowd I guess. Nowadays there are no more FRU’s for the SP Thaipusam; nearly all of them are stationed at the Penang and Batu Caves. The large force of policemen and plain cloth officers controls the crowd well, but you do feel the tension sometimes when passing the drunken mobs dancing to everything that comes out of the speaker. Mostly songs from Vijay movies and every year there will that one hit Tamil song played over and over that will resonate in your head for weeks to come.

Palkudams are milk pots normally carried within the Murugan temple compounds early in the morning during the three days Thaipusam is celebrated. The female devotees will carry the milk pots or sometimes small kavadi’s with milk pots tied on them. Then there will be devotees walking miles from different towns and sometimes states in that long journey of faith to either Sungai Petani or Penang. There are even people who walk all the way to Batu Caves, 300 miles away, portraying their undying admiration and love to God. It still amazes me to see them walk braving the elements, sometimes wishing I can join them, something I did once years ago when we walked to Penang and something that I would never do again I guess.

Kavadi’s are structures carried by the devotees on that long procession from surrounding temples to the final stop at the Murugan temple. My family, relatives and friends have been carrying Kavadi's for as long as I remember. In those days, the Kavadi's were bigger and taller and richly decorated. The whole family will build the wooden structure for weeks, and decorate it with paper flowers and peacock feathers. I remembered everyone had a huge magnificent Kavadi out for Thaipusam, all my uncles carrying them together on the first day of the celebrations. I will be left in charge of carrying the chair or the drinks basket for them. A proud job for me back then, being the eldest grandson in the family and also because I get to wear a cool new Jippa every year. The procession will be accompanied by a musical troupe playing traditional Indian drums and instruments and also the not so traditional bongo troupe. Bongos are banned nowadays because it became a place to hide the weapons cache for those planning to start a fight. The music itself will be a mix of everything, from folk songs to the latest Tamil cinema songs. The whole group will march from the temple at the evening hours throughout the night accompanied by family and friends, dancing and singing devotional songs. There used to be hundreds of Kavadi’s last time, every day decorated with flowers and peacock feathers. There would also be the rare Flying Kavadi where devotees will hang nearly 10 meters above ground on steel structures and then pulled to the temples. The whole route will be lined with Tannir Panthals or refreshment booths build by shops or groups to provide free refreshment for the people. It’s a different scene nowadays because more devotees are content in taking Palkudams because it’s much easier and cheaper than carrying Kavadi’s or pulling chariots. Kavadis itself can be rented or bought and most of the times you will see the same ones along the festival. There was even a year when I saw images of kavadi’s by Liverpool supporters in Batu Caves and this year there was a Liverpool Thannir Panthal in Penang. Times are changing indeed.

For the past two years my uncle has been pulling chariots to fulfill his wishes to the Lord. It certainly had been a long time since I actually witnessed anyone in my immediate family take kavadi or pull a chariot since no one lives in SP anymore. Chariots are much bigger than Kavadi’s and brightly decorated with lights and flowers. It’s also a nice feeling to see the whole family get together once a year to make that journey. Bob and Nagin joined in this year to pull the chariot and it was a fun thing trying to control the crowd, protect the chariot troupe and also trying hard to impress the girls. It’s not much of a secret that since reaching teenage years, Thaipusam has turned into a venue to impress the girls, finding soul mates, etc. But that’s for another story another day. Chariots are the current favorite for devotees since you can get the whole family involved and in some instances whole gangs. While all chariots looks nearly alike, there are creative people out there who build amazing structures that dwarfs all others, from giant statues to unique one of a kind creations of football team emblems. There are also hundreds of Chinese devotes who join in the celebration and fulfilling their vows. Kavadi’s bearers and devotes pulling chariots wear sharp hooks, normally the Murugan Vel or Tridents on their face, through their mouth and bodies, each symbolizing something their prayed for before the festival. The current temple management doesn’t allow for dangerous body mutilations that were popular years before. (But there is a festival in Thailand where you can see amazing feats of body mutilation often show in Ripley’s.)

The final day of Thaipusam is extra special because the Murugan Chariot will be in procession around the town. It used to be brought out on the second day but made way to the other chariots. Other temples such as Batu Caves and Penang have different timings for their chariots. The traditional Murugan Chariot is pulled by two bull cows and goes on a 10 hour journey around town accompanied yet again by musical troupes, temple helpers (thondars) and devotes. It will stop at shops and Thannir Panthals to let people perform archanai offerings to the Lord. (Archanai for the chariots are normally silver plates with coconuts, fruit, silk and other things.) Thaipusam chariots also means that hundreds of thousands of coconuts will be smashed along the route in an age old tradition that symbolizes the casting away of ego, the coconut symbolizing the head.

For the Indians all around the world who prays to lord Muruga as their protector and also guide, Thaipusam is a symbol of cultural genius of humans, a well planned routine that culminates in a fresh soul being born after fulfilling their vows. For the true devotee, Thaipusam means another year of blessing and the ultimate appreciation to God so that everyone will live in peace and happiness. In general Thaipusam means a time when the whole family gathers with friends to ensure that a great tradition doesn’t die off. And for this not so sleepy town, Sungai Petani, the Thaipusam celebration means showing everyone that we respect our culture deeply and passionately and will never let go of this special privilege that makes us Indians. In years to come hopefully there will be more Indians recognizing the importance of this once a year festivals because of the ever changing socio-political landscape trying to undermine our culture, and for those years also the native SP devotes will come back from wherever they are to take part and celebrate culture.

I hope everyone learned something from this post and also do spend time visiting the links below of Malaysians and others who witnessed the unique celebration.
[+] Sungai Petani-[Thaipusam 2006],[Thaipusam Chariot],[Videos-Search in Google Video (just type 'Thaipusam SP 2006' or 'Thaipusam' or 'Chariot' etc, reply in comment if you're unable to locate it)]

[+] Visi-[BatuCaves],[Kavadi]
[+] TvSmith-[Chariot]
[+] Penang Thaipusam-[Photos1] ,[TourismPenang]
[+] Thaipusam Movies -[Movies]
[+] [Singapore]
[+] [Around the world] - A BBC article.
[+] Some excellent Thaipusam Photos-[YoongKhean],[SingaporeThaipusam-Pfong],[Penang06] ,[Liz-Singapore]

Tuesday, February 14

Happy Valentines Day

[updated]
[+] Sanjana is my neighbour babe...and she doesnt like me much. She's about 2 years old and talks to everyone except me...shes not the only one if you're wondering. She's asking for royalties if I upload anymore images of her...but do get them from my photo blog :p
I hate Valentines day, but here goes...


Sanjana wishes everyone a very
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!




[-] I'll be back next week with more posts on Thaipusam and everything else.
[-] There is a post about the Ghost Particle documentary on Nova-PBS below.

Ghost Particle(s)!

(From Stephanie's Email)
Hey there – I thought the info on the exciting premiere of this NOVA show would be great for your site.

NOVA’s “The Ghost Particle”, which is premiering Tuesday, February 21, at 8 PM ET on PBS (check local listings), explores the swarms of invisible particles that fill every cubic inch of space, and just may explain how the universe was created.

I also was hoping you’ll be able to link to this cool package online, in time for the accompanying on-air NOVA premiere on February 21.

The URL is: http://pbs.org/nova/neutrino

Below’s the press release on the show – thanks very much!

Stephanie Houghton Dera, Roslan & Campion PR 212-966-4600, x. 19
stephanie@derapr.com


NOVA CHASES A SCIENTIFIC PHANTOM THAT MAY
HOLD THE KEY TO HOW OUR UNIVERSE WAS BORN


NOVA Presents THE GHOST PARTICLE
PREMIERES TUESDAY FEBRUARY 21, 2006, AT 8PM ET ON PBS
www.pbs.org/nova/neutrino


Boston, MA — NOVA probes the secret ingredient of the cosmos: swarms of invisible particles that fill every cubic inch of space, and just may explain how the universe was created. Trillions of ghostly neutrinos move through our bodies every second without us noticing a thing. Yet, without them, the sun wouldn’t shine and the elements that make up our world wouldn’t exist. NOVA explores the 70-year scientific struggle to understand the neutrino—a tale of mind-boggling disappearances—on The Ghost Particle, premiering Tuesday, February 21, 2006, at 8 pm ET on PBS.

Narrated by British actor Juliet Stevenson, The Ghost Particle is the story of a discovery that altered scientists’ understanding of what the universe is made of and how it was first formed. NOVA accompanies scientists into the laboratory, revealing astonishing footage of bizarre experiments. Computer animation brings to life the neutrino particle that is at once invisible and yet utterly essential to all life. NOVA first takes audiences back to 1930, when Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli wrote to his colleagues about the phenomenon of radioactive decay. The experts were puzzled by a missing bit of energy that could not be accounted for in their picture of how a radioactive atomic nucleus decays. Pauli suggested that a tiny, previously unknown particle had to exist to account for the missing energy. The problem with this theory, however, was that there was no hard evidence of the neutrinos existence.

It seemed to be an impossible investigation. Neutrinos have no electric charge – making them invisible to ordinary detecting equipment. Truly a poltergeist among particles, they can pass directly through solid matter without making so much as a ripple. Yet, every element vital to life, including carbon and oxygen, is made by a chain of nuclear reactions that would be impossible without neutrinos. They are an essential ingredient of the universe, and catching these neutrinos became the ultimate scientific quest. NOVA sits down with Professor John Bahcall and Nobel Prize winner Ray Davis, two men determined to solve of the biggest puzzles in particle physics. In the 1960s, they began their scientific adventure with a daring underground experiment that few believed could succeed.

Their goal was to find neutrinos produced by nuclear fusion within our shining sun. While Bahcall calculated the sun’s theoretical neutrino output, Davis built a neutrino trap nearly a mile underground in a gold mine in South Dakota, consisting of over 100,000 gallons of dry cleaning fluid. Their results were anything but expected, and sparked a raging debate that would take 40 years to resolve. Journeying from Davis’s South Dakota experiment site, to the Super-K detector in Japan, NOVA recounts the neutrino hunt with the world’s top physicists. To all the experts, Bahcall’s prediction method and Davis’s experiment design were both correct – yet the results did not match up! Most disturbing, the possible explanation for the discordance flew in the face of the Standard Model, an underlying theory explaining the basic building blocks of the universe and essential to understanding the Big Bang.

Construction of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) in Canada would finally settle the long debate by revealing the unlikeliest solution of all --- that neutrinos have a bizarre ability to switch identity as they travel from the sun. With its shape-shifting behavior, the “Ghost Particle” turned out to be even stranger than anyone imagined.On an eye-popping tour, NOVA visits this extraordinary laboratory built two kilometers below ground, housing an acrylic sphere containing 1,000 tons of heavy water. The exact center of the SNO detector boasts the lowest level of radiation at any point in the solar system.Join NOVA for one of the great stories of science – a sprawling mystery culminating in what is arguably the most significant discovery of the new century. It is a discovery that challenges convention and continues to open a new world of physics--all due to this ghost particle, the enigmatic neutrino.

# # #

Pressrooms
pressroom.wgbh.org/nova
pbs.org/pressroom

Press contacts for NOVA
Eileen Campion
Dera, Roslan & Campion
(212) 966-4600
eileen@derapr.com
[-] ---> you know Im excited! Pity we dont have Nova anymore in Malaysia...hope it would get into either Discovery or National Geogprahics Soon.

Does your name begin with: S?

For you, it is pleasure before business. You can be romantically idealistic to a fault and is capable of much sensuality. But you never loose control of your emotions. Once you make the commitment you stick like glue. You could get jealous and possessive. You tend to be very selfish often regarding yourself as! The only human being on the planet. You like being the center of attention. You are very caring, sensitive, private & sometimes very passive. Turned on by soft lights, romantic thoughts. When it gets down to the nitty-gritty, you are an expert. You know all the little tricks of the trade, can play any role, or any game, and take your love life very seriously. You don't fool around. You have the patience to wait for the right person to come along. You are very generous & giving, often selfless. You are kind nature & sweet, which is found to be attractive by many. You are a good friend.

>>>sometimes I like forward mails, sometimes I don't...but I think this one describes me best.

Wednesday, February 8

A House for Mr. Ghost; Part 7: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

“Only time will forever remain to bear our memories when we’re all gone”

Imagine a band of brothers, a group of rag tag scientists, who march bravely into a mystifying future, grasping knowledge understood only by a few but ultimately describes the dynamics of the universe, and then imagine them to be real. Life has always been a journey of discovery and enlightenment. To know what tomorrow is made up and to value what yesterday taught us is the definite goal of physicists. This small group of friends forever locked in a love hate relationship to answer and reveal the mind of God. And behind them, guiding them and also leading them are a few special personalities, whose character and determination solidly puts them as the greatest ever to walk the earth. This is the story of how this few scientists have peered deeper into the universe as none before and how it affected our lives forever.

The beauty of the night sky is more than that of the twinkling stars scattered, entwined on that canvas; it holds answers and tells stories of moments in our existence. It’s an open invitation for us to observe and explore. The decades of the 20th century heralded a cultural flare-up that threw open the doors of science and humanity to yet again mingle in ways never before imagined. The unstoppable march of information exchange managed to highlight the lives and passion of scientists on their journey to the edge of the universe. It can be viewed as a new beginning, a chance that we humans were given as being a part of the universe to explain and discover our existence. Behind this amazing awareness stood giants who in turn still, stood on the shoulders of their forefathers. They are the ultimate visionaries who choose to do what they thought would be the unmasking of the mysteries of the cosmos. In a world under intense conflict, these people stood as beacons providing paths to the ones whose were determined to lead a lonely life and carry their lonely hearts in turning science into a culture and a religion.

What significance does this revolution have? These are the people and scientist that not many know, or listen to. They seem to be working in the shadows of greater Gods. To believe in something and to achieve its full potentials has always been a struggle between truth and false. The Gods of science such as Newton and Einstein bridged these far extremes and discovered new realms that made it possible for us to ascertain that there is no truth or false but ultimately only reality and non-existence.

Einstein probably was the first ever science superstar. If we look at it from the modern perspective of media, then he’s the first to actually receive much wanted mass media attention and made his diligent followers appreciate the works of physicist and scientist at large. Before him many more legends played equal parts in discovering the very basic pillars of science but rarely became popular cult figures. What Einstein provided was an outlook of genuine interest, a savant of physics, its goals he approached single mindedly, and to the rest of the world, that proved to be a vision of a genius scientist. He worked on ideas discovered by others such as Maxwell and Newton in bringing the universe to us and showing us that we are connected to it in many ways. Never before did humanity feel more comfortable with the infinities of cosmological ideas and also the vastness of the universe with its astrophysical phenomenon’s. When it mattered most and when we direly needed a breakthrough that would lead us confidently into the future, Einstein was there to lead us. Years later after his discoveries and when his master class touch still worked miracles in the fields of science and cosmology, he became the relentless warrior against the very weapon his theories gave birth too. His famous letters to the president to stop the handling of nuclear weapons presented an inspiring character that encompassed so much more than physics. No one can explain why Einstein still adore the rooms of millions of students around the world, maybe its his eccentric looks, but many can indeed understand that he discovered the holy grail of science that seeded the works of millions to come.

On the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo Galilee, Stephen Hawking was born. By that time, the popularity of Einstein overshadowed nearly all other scientists and the world was at war. And science did not stop for war. Hawking is a living legend, commanding the attention that was once given to Einstein himself. In the science-biography of Stephen Hawking, A Life in Science, we get to learn of a scientific genius that rivaled Einstein in the cosmological front. Growing up he listened to classical music, read science books and did everything against the norms of the days (rock n roll was making waves back then). He was the eccentric figure among his close band of friends, both displaying an affinity towards inventing stuff, the occasional philosophical burst and also looked far into the future. He loved to engage in religious conversations with everyone who showed interest and often left them shocked as he will display later in life an image of intense atheist. In his early 20’s he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease, ALS or the Lou Gehrig’s disease. The initial clumsiness in movements ultimately made him paralyzed and wheel chaired for the rest of his life. In an interesting twist of events, he was at that time studying theoretical physics and that would not need much movement at all. He overcame the initial depression of which would continue to haunt him from time to time, but amazingly still he faced the world with a new determination that would change the landscape of cosmology forever. The world silently started to learn of this genius scientist who lectured important scientific works from his wheelchair and in the 80’s his fame reached new heights with the release of his bestseller ‘A Brief History Of Time’. For Hawking, nothing in the world mattered more that to preach what the world needs rather than what it wants. He knew what was important back then, and he did everything exactly his way. He had many critics, a colorful life marred with disease, shortcomings and divorce, but he also taught us how to live. Towards the end of the book A Life in Science, there is a philosophy from Hawking that remains true for all of us. To all his critics and fans alike he said “One has to be grown up enough to realize that life is not fair. You have to the best you can in the situation you are.”

Science has always been the communication of ideas, the sharing of experiences and inspiring lives. This is the path less taken, the journey into the unknown for some of us. Devotion to science and to find the illusive answers matters more than anything else. It will be hard to make people understand our lives, but taking the time to understand it will be the most important tasks any of us would ever take. As I began that journey years ago, I did not realize the complete dynamics of a life in science. But lucky for me I did have the past Gods, the giants of a lonely era who painstakingly walked a new path and left it open for me. I’m not alone in this hard journey into the future, but I choose to build on this pillars, the ideas of science that helped us for better or worst to progress into this future. I’m as eager as anyone else to usher in that new future, a future full of technological inventions and peaceful ambitions, but at the same time I had this chance to understand that not everyone is meant to ride easy into it. The dawn of the 21st century also signaled the end of ages of legends. As I said before Stephen Hawking could be the only remaining star of science. Before him, the legacies of Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Chandra and Feynman inspired generations to love science. Who do we have today?

More than being a scientist, the giants of science were also one of us. They went through life like any of us, faced problems, walls along their journey that would have turned many of us away. But they carried on, and it serves as an inspiration to us. There were many more that did climb the walls but fell of peer pressure and the scrutiny of the political world who doesn’t understand science anymore. It’s true that Einstein or Hawking did not steer billions in public money to build grand experiments, but the reality of this world is that we do need those experiments. More that ever do we need this as an inspiration for the present generation and generations to come to ensure that humanity can survive. When we stood to justify the fallacies of politics, the world war against invisible tyrants, we had not the heart to stand and support science. This is the state of the 21st century science.

What the Sputnik and Apollo generation struggled hard to build and in turn inspired millions of hero’s and heroines to continue their aspirations lay in an uncertain future. We live at a time when the next astronaut would probably remain in office rather than fly to space; we don’t have anyone to continue the dream of Kalpana Chawla and the fallen comrades who risked their lives for us. We continue to tap away into the Internet without appreciating the very people who made all this possible. We’re so obsessed with pop cult figures and business men who sell soft wares rather than the creators of microchips. When did you last stop to learn of the lives of scientists and the less know women scientist. We build this cage where the only superstars were male when women played an equal part in the new age science revolution. The books did justice to them, but humanity did not. We stand to loose everything today, something we can never regain. Our roles are clear, we learned from the best, had the best teachers, and now it’s our turn. We need to answer the cosmiccode, and to build a bright future for everyone we need a new generation of scientists and science superstars alike.

Only when men shall roll up space like a piece of leather,
will there be an end of sorrow apart from knowing god…
-Svetasvatara Upanishad*

* From the book ‘Lonely Hearts Of The Cosmos' by Dennis Overby.

[-] Thus ends another struggle to build a pillar for the house of Mr. Ghost. More of the topic of the Giants of science will come in the future.

[-] Stephen Hawking, A Life In Science by Michael White and John Gribbin is an amazing adventure peering deep into the man and myth, Dr. Stephen Hawking. It’s an interesting and fun read that would inspire all of us and most importantly tells the story of a human and a star scientist who faced destiny and walked on.

[-] I have another post on the movie Constant Gardener below and cross posted it in 2050: A Journey. Below the post is a new poem I wrote.

[-] I won’t be posting until next week as I'm heading to the Funky Town for Thaipusam celebrations. So boys and girls, be nice, be happy, be safe and remember, you are more than you think you are.

Amour.

'A' Constant Gardener


To Yvette Pierpaoli and all the aid workers who lived and died giving a damn.

Not even the mesmerizing music of the movie could hide the dark tragedy that’s been eating away Africa. This would not be the first movie in recent times depicting Africa as the dumping ground of all things evil, or in the case of The Constant Gardener, the testing ground for medicines. (Lord of war showed illicit arms dealings in Africa). Based on the novel by John Le Carré (David Cornwell), TCG depicts a love story in the milieu of illegal pharmaceutical testing in Africa. The movie was shot in Kenya among other places. Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz are magnificent in their roles, with Fiennes slipping in masterfully playing the diplomat husband of Weisz. Something about British actors who never seem to fail on the silver screen. Weisz through some turn of events get into investigating the backroom deals of pharma’s in Africa. She gets killed and it’s Fiennes who traces the rest of the story. The screenplay is absolutely fresh and amazing and the cinematopgraphy is beautifully swift. Find out more about the movie at the official site;[TCG]

The world is a sick place. How do we explain Africa? The basic idea of the movie is this; the following are based on my own theory but basically tells the story of TCG. We have this one hypothetical pharmaceutical company called Orion Pharma which employs about 10,000 employees worldwide or so. Every one of them needs to be supported, amounting to a huge amount of salary every year. We have sick people all around the world. We have pandemics killing millions yearly. In the movie, the ‘future’ pandemic is TB. Testing drugs in develop or developing countries means regulations and years wasted without profit. So take the medicine to Africa and test it there. Africans are poor; they can’t pay for the medicine. In the pretext of giving it free to them, the drugs are tested on the unsuspecting victims clearly represented as sponsored by the Pharma and specially masked as an AIDS drug (while throwing in a free TB test). You test once to find the other disease and the drug is actually meant to be a TB drug. And yes, along with the Pharma workers, throw in arms dealers, Mafiosi styled gangs and a few innocent diplomats, aid workers and local doctors. Test the drugs. Burry the dead in unmarked mass graves, a job done by the local gangs. Finally get the working drug formula after a few tries, patent it, and sell it to the developing world and rich countries for huge amounts of money. The company execs get rich, the local governments get their bribe and the thousands of employees get their salary. That’s how the world works. What happens to the Africans? Who cares? Disposable drugs for disposable people (a line from the movie).

With biotech and medicine becoming more important in the wake of emerging pandemics such as the bird flu, the pharmaceutical field is a hot bed for scientist and industrialists alike. Normally drugs or medicines take no less than four years to enter the market, but of course in serious cases such as the bird flu, the clinical trials took around 6 months to a year. Even then, Tamiflu the destined drug for bird flu is showing signs of weakness in certain cases. While countries are becoming more aware of the fact that any widespread pandemic will badly cripple the world economy, in the case of TCG, an outbreak of TB would paralyze the world market in a short few years. The race to create new drugs takes years and millions if not billions of dollars to be spent on research. Top it up with different licensing regimes in different regions; we have a complex market but not so complex global players. As usual the giants of the industry will want to rake in profits to support its huge operations while maintaining its spotless image. But in the world of medicines there is no spotless image, and one wrong move will cause billions of market capitalization to vanish in seconds in the stock markets. To steer away from any unwanted happenings, drugs are tested in obscure countries, regions namely Africa and to some extent Asia. And if that’s not enough, research publications are withheld and often distorted to minimize the evidence of side effects popping up. By the time people starts dropping on the streets dying, the company would have in its coffers enough money to bail out its CEO’s and paid enough insurance to cover the future lawsuits. That leaves Africa as dead as anyone can imagine. Where is the silver lining in this? Actually the big pharma’s do build clinics and schools and for all its worth, what’s a few thousand African lives compared to millions of dynamic citizens of the rest of the world. 95% of the world economy, industry and research are safely situated outside of Africa. We are safe, high and dry and could thank our African cousins for sacrificing themselves for us.

There is another part to this story. No civilization can remain stupid forever. All civilizations around the world had its own timeline to develop culture and intelligence. The pharma’s must not let that happen in Africa. So comes in arms dealers and oil prospectors. You see, there are a few countries with huge oil deposits in Africa. If they manage to get the oil out and as fast as possible drain the natural resources of the countries concerned, the people will remain poor and uneducated. And to make them more cooperative, supply arms to local gangs and warlords so that manpower would come easily to them. It’s also a tested way to silence those who speak out, the occasional lost social activist and generally blind the UN into thinking the whole scenario is an internal conflict. It doesn’t stop there does it? Africa is also full of diamonds and other resources. Mine them too and to cover the whole operation install a few democratic government in strategic corners of the continent so that the refugees have places to run (and later bring in aid agencies sponsored by the oil industry and big pharma’s). And also to let the tired company execs go on safaris and desert holidays. Surely a roasted lamb meal in the middle of the desert under the clear skies scattered with stars as beautiful as conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone is a holiday not to be missed. And to maintain the momentum, just move around this huge puzzle a few times in a year so that the world is alert that Africa needs help and we all can go to giant concerts to sing songs to dead African children.

Who said all problems have solutions? They might have, but if we just maneuver the problems in certain ways for a certain amount of time, everything will remain as they are as long as we want it to be. No solution. As for Africa, the future has no more stories to tell about this great land we all came from, only the occasional Blogger with a sudden spark of thinking, devising a way to let the readers ponder the situation for a couple of hours. And all along the time, tell them what a fine movie it is. It is.

For walking are the feet for,
and for talking is the mouth for,
and the brain, is not to be restrained anymore…

Ghost Tags:

Familiar Days

The mighty land awakes
far expanses pulsate,
Swarming rays stirring
retracing its paths,
Valleys remain frozen
awaiting its fate,
A new season born
mysterious till tomorrow.

Pockets of smoke
ascend repainting the sky,
Friendly scents accompany
the Copernicans out of bed,
Trumpets and ballads
on early radio shows,
The unseen clock
found counting instances.

Children run out
tumbling on streets of grass,
Their voices floating
exciting the red flowers,
Young shadows in angles
arranged bellow trees,
Older dews fall
gently from oak leaves.

Midday beneath the sun
golden flakes warmer,
My feet wander
counting the footpath squares,
Signs of life reflected
on every direction I turn,
Glass panes flaunting
tomorrows for sale.

The lazy evening
unwillingly approaching,
Lakeside motions begin
wanting not to end,
Ripples on deep waters
gradually wipes out daylight,
Clouds drift away into memory
revealing the early stars.

Flickering light bulbs
drawing gypsy moths,
Chattering townsfolk
feasting daytime conquests,
Over the hills
telescopes search the sky,
Constellations emerge
silently observing us.

Once she said
days doesn’t end at midnight,
And I replied
you cant preach that to the stars,
We continued
deep into the forever night,
Imagining a new tomorrow
to replace the familiar days.

-gP2006-060106-

* Wrote this to picture what I want to be, how I want to live and how I want tomorrow to be. The places, culture and names each have meanings for significant accomplishments in science, life and philosophy throughout the years.

Thursday, February 2

A Lunar New Year / The Mugs Strike Back! / A Statue / My Swiss Miss / The Oscars / The Biggest Thaipusam? / The Holidays / And Today.

A Lunar New Year Story.

The Chinese New Year was celebrated on the 29th of January this year. Festivals have always been the cultural centerpiece of our civilization. In a nutshell festivals mark points in our lives that we endure to change ourselves and the surrounding to fit the dawning of each age in time. The colors and soul that goes into ushering in a new age symbolizes the spirit of each culture and also the struggles of the people to ensure the continuity of it all. Most importantly it means that we can gather as a family and also with friends to observe the success of the past year, and reflect on everything that we achieved. (the snap is from Midvalley MegaMall in KL)

I grew up in a village, near to the city, but still laidback with a concoction of everything. There were people of all races and religion and it my eyes decades ago all I recognized back then was only colors. I understood the colors and labeled them to my understanding which of course is a mix of emotions, ranging from fear to happiness. My introduction to the Chinese culture was not of the best start. Our immediate neighbors were Chinese and I still vividly remember when an elderly passed away. The funeral went on for a week, per their custom and honestly it scared me. Initially curios of the gathering of people and also their chatters day and night, I ventured near and discovered a huge box in the middle of the hall draped in red clothes. There were strips of yellow paper with writings on them. Red and yellow, oranges and incense sticks, tea cups and strange men in tall white pointed hats. I stood affixed there wondering of the movements and my friends back then did not know anything either. The day passed and that night I asked my grandma what it is all about, and to which she explained that the neighbor grandma has died. Probably I was sad for a few seconds because she was very nice to us and then realizing the whole scenario was horrified after that. Weeks passed and months, only then I had the guts to go back and play with my neighbor friend.I still remember finding new routes to go somewhere on my bicycle incase there's a funeral near my house, trying to stay as far away as possible from the place and if I had to take a ride on my dad's bike I'll close my eyes and cover my ears being trully scared. Till today I still have those moments of fear whenever I see a Chinese funeral, but I learned a lot all this years. Such elaborate staging symbolize the respect to a person and I believe non show more respect to their departed family members than the Chinese.

Chinese New Year back then was a grand occasion mainly because we get all kind traditional cakes and sweets. Normally my neighbor would give us a generous amount of Kuih Bakul made of flour and thick brown sugar , and also Kuih Kapit which is a thin brittle biscuit made into the shape of a fan, and also oranges. I don’t remember oranges being such a craze back then but nowadays you can’t miss them anywhere. The Chinese traditional food doesn’t stop with the New Year; during the Moon Cake festival they make incredible varieties of moon cakes for offering during the Hungry Ghost month and festivals.

Chinese New Year also signifies cleansing and ushering in a new year and the whole household will be blessed with a staging of the lion dance. It’s another encounter with an unfamiliar culture that left an important mark in my early ages. During my first ever recollection of the New Year, I remember loud drum sounds which crept near ever so boldly, and with a fusion of instruments it produced a rhythm that will forever remain etched in my soul. I ran out of the house to watch what it was, or I could say I discovered a magnificent new ethnic performance. I wish I knew back then what it was, probably the drums at that time did not scare me as much as when I saw the lion dance. I ran inside and hid and my grandma said I cried the whole time. It kept getting worst year after year. I kept on seeing new forms of the ‘lion’ (which of course is just a costume). There was a year when a longer version of the lion came to the local Chinese store and climbed a ladder to get the Ang Pow packets hung on top of a tree. From my viewing point, I did not see the ladder, and you could imagine a seven year old watching a ‘flying’ lion. (Ang Pow packet are small red paper packets containing money, which now is present during all festivals of all the cultures in Malaysia). From those memories still prevalent now whenever the Chinese new year comes, the first thing that would come to mind would be the lion dance, and I still sometimes try to trace any sound of drums during the festival and it does still create a rush inside me if I hear the occasional ones. There are many types of lion dance or dragon dance. The big performance would certainly be the dragon show performed in a celestial dance routine chasing a ball symbolizing the moon. I personally like the smaller performances of lion dances because there are a lot of young kids who take part showing their commitment in this display of culture and also a respect to their tradition. It’s hard to learn the drums but I know there are champion troupes in Malaysia. There are even lion dance troupes comprising of Indians and Malays.

The festival will always be shared among the people of all races and what makes my country more unique is that we love to visit each other during festivals and have open houses. Celebrating friendship and family gatherings signify happiness and the general togetherness that we must all appreciate for a peaceful future. I believe unity is the core value present in everyone who wishes to share each others life. It’s a gratifying experience in seeing that everyone has a reason to celebrate and also welcome everyone into their hearts. While in many countries the presence of the Chinese and Indian people are visible only in China Towns and Little India, the whole of Malaysia celebrates our unity no matter what evil, politics impose on us each day. Sadly also, sometimes I see that the younger generation doesn’t appreciate the cultural differences of other races and to a large extent their own race. Maybe in some ways we have failed to educate the younger generation of the importance of our true ‘colors’. But not letting it be a step backwards, our responsibility remain and will remain forever to ensure everyone shares a part of our culture to build a community capable of living together in this world.

Our greatest achievements will always be the continuity of our culture. Way before science or religion came to existence; our simplest forms of acts or routine have evolved into the grand celebrations of today. We have immense roles to ensure that every detail of the magnificent colors, sound and magic be passed on to the next generation and into the future. Along the way, people must understand that the significance of any culture is to show our uniqueness and the ultimate mission will always be to bring together humanity to appreciate our differences and celebrate our ordinariness. It’s just another reason to love life and others.

The Mugs Strike Back!

It’s been a great tag week and a successful one too. A lot of Bloggers jumped in and posted their mugs. I thank everyone who took part in the first ever International Post A Mug Week. This tool we call blogging provides us with a stage to share and communicate to people around the world. The idea is to create something unique periodically to contribute to the gathering of the minds and to let the readers appreciate what we did. Tagging have always been present in the Blog circles, and even before if you consider chain letters as tags, but I believe we get sick of it after a few million times. Why waste so much time on insignificant lists of equally insignificant things when we can create so much interesting stuff here. The whole idea of the Mug tag is to let Bloggers appreciate something that is present in their daily lives, something ordinary and common yet something that has stories to tell.

I loved all of the mugs that the Bloggers posted, be it simple, with pictures and or if it’s posted with their loved soft toys on their work tables. We see so many varieties and stories. I was touched by the mug post of Tarun Jacob. Tarun is suffering from cancer and successfully going through chemo therapy. He posted his chemo mug, as he calls it and I was struck by how such a simple thing could be a tool so important for some of us. It makes us think of the significance of our surroundings from the people we meet to the things we use. You can read his Blog here; [Tarun].

Elsewhere mugs started appearing from around there world. The influx of ceramic wonders as many calls it happened almost in unison and some great mugs were spotted. Nayan had funny funny mug here, and Lorena was among the first with her mug along with Bailey the dog. Still had an elegant blue mug, and Saty pickep a mug from Google...NOT FAIR bro!, Miladyssa had a nice tall mug, IcyBlue with a beautiful Pieces mug, Vanathi had some mugs from the net, Vidya had 2 excellent mugs...I liked the NY mug alot, a superb Nascar mug from Kerry...I love the indy500 race, Mike with his duck-mug...you gotta love it!, Senthil with funny mug, loved Maruthams mug and hand shot :p, Jeevan with a nice glass mug, Tamilan with the classic tumbler!...I wondered who will put it, and thanx buddy for posting the great Indian drinking tumbler..., Frap gurl had a nice noir shot of a mug, Madelyn had a cool jack p toersons mug, Divya with a nice sunflower mug, and finally Ponnarasi with a nice Disney mug...thanx! I missed Scribz mug! She had a cool scary Halloween mug! Amutha, another blogger from Malaysia had a nice mug with a story.
And also I thank everyone who thought this idea was great and all the new bloggers who came to my blog and everyone that I might have missed...THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Till next year folks, if you see any good mugs out there, GET IT!

A Statue.
(Maybe I'm a bit carried away in my harsh critism for this issue, but then it is an issue thats worth being critisized! Sorry if I offend anyone.)
Malaysian Hindu’s unveiled the world tallest Murugan statue in Batu Caves last Saturday. Costing nearly RM 2.5 million (USD 650,000), the statue took 3 years to complete and is covered in gold paint. Read the whole story here;[TheStar].

I’m completely dumb struck by how stupid the Indians in this country can be and this certainly won’t be the first time. I wonder how by building a statue could lift the living standards or status of a community that remain trashed in this country and at the same time having unsolvable internal conflicts among ourselves. The millions spend on building this one simple statue could have been used for so many important purposes. I refuse to believe that the local Indians have suddenly discovered they had excess money to use for such a grandiose effort while in some part of the country, in plantation estates Indians still suffer under bonded labor!

The money could have been used to fund scholarships for students who loose out under the sick quota system imposed in the local universities. In recent years we have seen an almost 80% drop in the intake of Indian students to critical university courses such as engineering and medicine. They simply don’t allocate seats for us anymore, and the very few educational funds pick and choose the ‘special’ person to support. Mostly or almost all the time politically well connected rich! people will get the scholarship to study. What or who will help the poor and underprivileged. Why keep on shutting the doors of opportunity in the name of madness such as this. The amount used to build the statue could have sponsored 8 to 9 students to study medicine in local private institutions or nearly 80 medical seats in public institutions. Allocated fairly many would have had a golden chance to further their education or helped the dire need of medical patients. Imagine the future we could have shaped.

I sincerely hope more stupid efforts such as this would end. I don’t believe that God asked us to build his statues to glorify his creations. What I understand of religion is that God is everywhere, he choose to be everywhere so that we can reach him instantly when we need him. Why travel hundreds of miles to witness a statue when inside everyone is greedy and sick. Why still after this many ages of scientific enlightenment and cultural development, we still throw insane amount of money to concrete houses of ‘God’ who I’m sure would have always wished for humans, his creation, his children to enjoy a healthy happy life. Now I understand why so many wish to stay away from religion. Religion is just a sick excuse to shy away from our original purpose.
My Swiss Miss.
Martina Hingis is back back back...okay maybe she came out of retirement a couple months ago, but it's great to see her playing. Those were the golden years of tennis watching Sampras, Aggasi (still excellent), Hingis and the 90's gang break all sorts of records. Tennis has never been cooler and her age commanded her to be a sports idol back then. Hope she will scale back to her glory days by winning a couple more grand slams.
The Oscars.
As predicted, the powers that be shied away from nominating Syrianna for the best motion picture category, and even Constant Gardener missed the cut, but then politics is the game in the American movie industry. Suprised to find Munich in the best picture category? Well even SS mentioning that its the second most hard movie he made could not stop it from being a conspiracy theory material for movie buffs. Its so obvious why a movie depicting the Jews re-terrorizing the Palestinians get high mention, maybe its a sign. Then why miss out in letting Syrianna which seems to be more real and portrays real issues from missing the nomination? George Clooney deservedly landed his Best Supporting Actor nomination and also the best director nominations for Good Night and Good Luck which is a valid contender for the best movie slot unless President Bush suddenly becomes soft on the gay issue and Brokeback Mountain wins it. Ofcourse Munich could have won it for sentimental reasons of which if it doesnt, then SS will make another movie of Israel, or Arial Sharon or ... (I'm not against any race or religion, the real issue is different from this, theyre fighting for dirt for God's sake!). My personal wish would be that Ang Lee gets the best director award, and Brokeback to win the best movie. The rest, we'll just have to wait and see, the awards will be staged live on Sunday the 5th of March.
Read the full nomination here;[Oscars78].
The Biggest Thaipusam?
Tourism Malaysia had a full page ad mentioning Malaysia celebrating one of the biggest Thaipusam in the world with 1.2 million devotees paying respect to Lord Muruga at the Batu Caves temple complex. And it's so nice to read that my hometown Sungai Petani coming 3rd in the list of having a large celebration after Penang. I wonder...India should have a bigger Thaipusam right?
You can view my past year Thaipusam photo's from my hometown here;[2004],[2005].
The Holidays.
It was a long weekend break over here covering the CNY, Hijrah and the Federal Territory day. We have so many holidays in Malaysia and maybe we do have the most amount of public holidays in the world! The last I counted it reached over 20 days. Bob got me this nice set of wheels...its the original Shelby Cobra...and yes...its a miniature Hot Wheels car.
And Today.
This is another long post, I had so much to say, but no net anywhere! Nothing much happened over the holidays other than the insane amount of oranges I ate. The only interesting thing happened a few hours ago, there was a fire in the library. We all ran out, but then luckily it was a smll incident maybe a short circuit. The funny thing is the alarm did not go off...I ran out fearing the sprinkler might burst. Neither happened. Worst still, only the floor with fire evacuated, the users on the other floors did not move at all. So much for warnings and all...come to think of it...even my buddies old lab burned down last year! Does any fire security measure work here?!
Another wedding season is here and I'm practising the fine art of NOT picking up phone calls and not answering SMS's. So anyone out there who knows me, dont bother, I dont make special appearances, unless forced too by my grandma or mother. In any case, I would like to wish Roslan and Prof. Meen a happy married life. I really want to attend but I cant buddy, hope you could forgive me. Roslan is my best buddy at uni, helped me alot during my undergraduate years and we did/ doing our MSc together.
Thank you for everyone who did the MUG-tagg...you can still do it i you want, the week ended yesterday, but hey, its a cool tag!
Amour!
[+] OrionFaktory is updated!
[-] Maran from UmaiPadam is backpacking in India right now...wish him all the best and a safejourney!

when

it rains around the world sleep welcomes the dream, and  enigmatic souls awaken along the eternal shores of destiny