Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tihar Jail Is Overflowing With Scamsters! Now, New Scam Will Be Inside Tihar Jail!


Saw this video just now at 6.30 am...what a morning!

My husband says, 'now all these scamsters will join hands and scam inside the jail. Punishment: They will be let outside!'

Incredible India! This government will go into Guinness Book of World Records as 'the Government with maximum number of scams!'

Monday, April 25, 2011

Now I Know How And Why We Get Tempted To Bribe!


Regional Passport office, Chennai

Now, where shall I start my sob would have been worse if I had written this post as soon as I returned from the Passport office!

We had to renew our Passport and were asked to come there in person. My son had gone there for renewal of his passport just a week back and he spent one whole day over there. So, he kept on pestering us to leave home by 7 am and stand in the queue (he had gone there by 9 am and came back at 4 pm!). My husband told him that since we were senior citizens, we won't face much problem! No, we were wrong! The whole of Tamilnadu was at the Passport office on that day and probably everyday!

Left side of the entrance!

Right side of the entrance!


We had some breakfast in the morning and left home by 8 am. It was very difficult even to enter the office through the front entrance! We had to push ourselves through the crowd. Even the staircases were crowded! Got our applications sealed early (they stamp the room no.!) because we were senior citizens(!) at 9 am itself and the official asked us to come back by 12 pm for verification. The 'senior citizen' lobby was in the II floor! We were watching very old people panting and climbing the two floors. Later on when we came back at 12 pm and while waiting for our turn, noticed the lift door in one extreme corner which was not visible to new visitors like us...we saw only one lady using that lift when we were waiting there! We saw this lift at the first floor, don't know where to look for it downstairs!

The gleaming door at the left side end, is the lift!

We just went for a round and came back and started waiting! After 12, the security person asked us to go to E counter and we were so happy that the waiting time would be over soon! But no, it was just starting!

The room where the actual counters for verification was so crowded that it was more difficult than the entrance door to enter! The security guard was shouting all the time asking the extra accompanying people to leave the place, but to no avail! We really felt sorry for the security guards here...they must be 'managing' this type of crowd each and every day!

Then we somehow entered the room. Many chairs were there near the 'E' counter which was specially kept aside for senior citizens, people with small babies and disabled people! But every inch was full of people! The room had 9 Air conditioners...even some were hanging from the ceiling! But none worked! Just two windows were half open and 6-7 fans were there. A tiny 3-4 month baby was crying all the time...the mother was in purdah with just her eyes visible. She was resting the baby on the satin cloth which must have irritated the baby. Two old men were sitting with closed eyes...they were coming for the 3rd consecutive day because they kept on forgetting to bring some or other papers. I wonder why they need bank statements for issuing a passport!

We got our papers verified at around 1pm and I must mention that all the staff were very polite and we should admire them for being calm and cool after seeing so many people every day!

Then we joined the queue for paying the fee in cash (DD also can be given but should wait in the same queue!)! It was quite long, around 20 people before us. When we were second near the counter, the staff left for lunch! We were worried to leave our place in the queue! It was 1.50 pm. I had taken some Alpenlibe chocolates with me and kept on eating them! Thank god the lady came back at 2.15 itself and at last our ordeal was over!

This much strain was just for the renewal of Passport! We were sweating so much, our legs were aching after standing for such a long time and then my husband said 'now, if anyone is here to take some money and give us the fee receipt as soon as we come here, esp. after waiting for such a long time for verification, we would have definitely bribed them to do so!'

Talking about eradication of corruption is easy, but here, in our country, it is not easy at all! The whole system should change first!

My husband said that TCS (TATA Consultancey) is going to handle issuing of passports in the future! If it is true and a right decision, we can forget about bribing!

P.S.: History of this office:

The Regional Passport Office in Chennai came into being in1955. George Town in Chennai was the place where the Office was initially established. However, Shashtri Bhavan at Haddows Road became the official address of the RPO in 1966. Trichy received an individual passport office in 1983. In the earlier years of its establishment, the Regional Passport Office used to offer services to nearby states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala along with Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. However, all the three adjacent states received individual passport offices in the year 1976.

P.S.: We noticed 3 persons sitting on separate chairs and tables and verifying the applications for a nominal amount, outside the main entrance on the left side. This will help people missing some papers and running here and there, after standing in the queue for hours, reaching the counter and then knowing that some extra copies were needed of the documents. These men put some initials in a corner of the application, it seems, which will help the counter people to finish off verification fast!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1000 Year Old Brihadeeshwarar Temple (Tanjai Peria Koil), also called Dakshina Meru!


This type of gopuram/tower/vimaana/shikhara, is found only in this temple which was built by King Rajaraja chozhan I (985 - 1014 AD) and in Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple, built by his son, Rajendra Chozhan (1014 - 1044 AD), in the whole country!

I still remember the pen sketch of the 'Big Temple' in my school history book....right side page! I remember some of the details of the temple too, like 'the shadow of the gopuram never falls on the floor on any side of the temple at any time of the day', how a sloping road for so many miles was erected for rolling the huge stones to the temple site, etc.! I wanted to visit this temple, mainly to see the architecture, for many years now. At last, we planned to attend my niece's college fest in Tanjavoor and we stayed for an extra day and visited the famous Brihadeeshwarar Temple, which is also called Peria koil in Tamil or Big Temple.

First, we visited Oppiliappan koil, which has got a beautiful Venkateshwara deity and it was not crowed too! The gopuram is an ordinary dravidian type with colourful sculptures.

Then we visited Bangaaru Kaamakshi amman temple which is an ancient temple. The deity, Kaamakshi amman, is made of pure gold and we can see the gold one during navarathri time and on the day of the yearly festival, we were told. On other days, it is covered by 'punugu' and the priest told a story to why the deity is covered by punugu! But this post is about the Big temple, I should remember not to divert from this topic!

I was more fascinated by the gopurams of this temple, Brihadeeshwarar koil, than the deity, which is Shiva, a huuuuge one (Brihat means huge, Eashwara)! The front gopuram is of Dravidian culture, but the main gopuram inside is different, kalash type! Have a look:

You can see the Dravidian type of gopuram in many temples like Meenakshi, Chidambaram Natarajar and many others in Tamilnadu. I noticed the sculptures on the gopuram are not in different colours, but just in mud colour. Wikipedia says 'The entire temple structure is made out of hard granite stones, a material sparsely available currently in Thanjavoor area where the temple is located. The temple is made up of 130,000 tons of granite. The 60-metre tall vimana is the tallest in South India. If you are interested in serious architecture, you can read in the wikipedia link given above and others which I am going to quote later, here.

Some say that this place had a temple of goddess Varaahi (this deity is still there in a small sannidhi) and the King was asked to built a temple for Shiva in his dream. His priest, Sama Varma designed this shrine and I saw a small sannidhi for this priest also, inside the temple compound.

This link says, 'The Brihadeeswarar Temple was built to display the emperor's vision of his power and his relationship to the universal order. On the 275th day of his 25th regal year (1010 A.D) Raja Raja Chola handed over a gold-plated kalasam (copper pot or finial) for the final consecration to crown the vimana.

1000th year celebration was conducted in September '10 and the Tamilnadu CM conducted the event. Myth is there that whoever entered the shrine through the front gate, would lose his leadership/his top position, soon, in life! So Karunanidhi entered through the side entrance and did not enter the garbha gruha (sanctum sanctorum) of Shiva (Karuna hates gods!)! Will he lose in this election?!

Now let me show some pictures I had taken which show how our Kings took interest in minute details in building temples.

The ancient temples, mostly, were built like forts with 2-3 layers/compounds, which were used as shelters when enemies invaded.

This moat (agazhi) used to be full of water which surrounded the fort/compound of the temple. Even crocodiles were bred here, to scare the enemies!

The Outer!

Notice the Nandi figures/sculptures on top of the compound here, which can be seen at Chidambaram Natarajar temple too!

Notice the distance to the next compound! Dwarapalakas (security guards) can be seen here! The temple elephant (check my earlier post about this!) with Shaivaite marks on the forehead is on the left side here - not in the picture, though! The Vaishnaite elephant in the post is from Oppiliappn Koil - Venkateshwara koil!

All Shiva temples have the statue of Nandi which is his Vaahana (mode of travel). This Nandi measures 6m in length and 3.7m in height and faces the inner garbhagruha. This monolith (single stone) weighs 25 tonnes and is the largest Nandi statue in India! You can notice the beautiful murals on the ceiling!

This is one of the beautiful murals on the ceiling of the Nandi statue!.

The main deity, the Shiva Lingam is here, a huge 2-storey garbhagruha. The inner wall of the garbhagruha or the sanctum sanctorum has sculptures of 108 dance poses called karnas performed by Lord Shiva himself. The detailed description is here.

I feel, for such a huge temple with such beautiful architecture, the entrance to the main deity, looks very simple!

Side view of the Temple.

The left gopuram was built in the 16th century by the Nayak Kings and the deity inside is Subrahmanya, Lord Shiva's second son. The carvings on the gopuram is unique and the sculpture inside the temple also is beautiful. The contrast between the two gopurams, is clearly visible!

The above sculpture of Dwarapalaka, was inside the Subrahmanya temple. This has got intricate designs of jewels too! Polished granite!

One more picture of the gopuram from a different angle!

Another view of the gopuram...(link)

Old Tamil letters! This link says that the Cholas' history (actually, Chozha is the right word, in Tamil) is written in many walls here, in this temple, even about their lifestyles, clothing, art, etc.

This video about the Big temple is interesting, here, it is. You can see how huge the temple area is, in this video and the guide explains more details of the temple.

I am sorry, this post is too long...I wanted to post more pictures, but had second thoughts later!

Edited to add on 21.4.11: The towering vimanam is about 200 feet in height and is referred to as Dakshina Meru. The octogonal Shikharam rests on a single block of granite weighing 81 tons. It is believed that this block was carried up on a specially built ramp, built from a site 6 kilometeres away from here.

Wikipedia: This temple remains as one of the greatest glories of Indian architecture. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples".

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday!

Shaivaite and Vaishnavaite elephants!



Monday, April 4, 2011

The Whole World Is Admiring Our Cricket Champions Now, Esp. Tendulkar!


The Tendulkars
(Picture courtesy: Outlook magazine)

I was just wondering whether to write about/be happy about, our winning of World Cup Cricket Match '11 or become selfish and write about my sky rocketing statistics just for one post about the Tendulkars! I became the second one...thank you, Tendulkars!

I had been checking my blog statistics/status for sometime now and noticed that for the past 2-3 months, the most popular post was about Anjali Tendulkar! It is always on the top at the right side of my page! Other posts were changing places! A post about Corporation School children also stands out all the time, but Tendulkar always came first! Have a look at today's statistics:

Pageviews today 290

Pageviews yesterday 674

Pageviews last month 3,704

1,389 Pageviews

United States 994
India 402
United Kingdom 123
United Arab Emirates 37
Australia 29
Russia 22
France 21
South Africa 19
Canada 16
Singapore 14

The above page views are for the past week. I used to have just 2 or sometimes 3 digit views per day and mostly from India. Now the picture has changed and I know it will be for a few more days! Still, I am happy! I 'copy-pasted' the statistics, so it is a bit distorted, sorry!

(Picture courtesy: Outlook magazine)

My husband and son are crazy about cricket and now cricket is transmitted in the TV in some channel everyday and I don't watch much cricket...overdoze! But even I watched the matches between India-Pakistan and India-Sri Lanka! Both were thrillers, thanks to these boys! Bless you, BOYS!

P.S.: Here, one great man, Tendulkar, praising the other great man, Dhoni....

"He(Dhoni) is the best captain I have played under", Tendulkar said in Mumbai. "He is very sharp and always alert. He reads the situation well and is open to sharing ideas. He always has discussions with bowlers, batsmen and senior players separately".

Edited to add on 5.4.11:

Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar: Arguments for and against!

This photo of Sachin in the Outlook magazine shows his true self...yes, he is one of India's greatest personalities! Very down to earth person!

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