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Thursday, 1 June 2023


Skeleton Lake? That too in India? This was my own reaction when I came to know about this lake. A glacier lake which contains hundreds of human skeletons is known as Roopkund which is situated in the Himalayas.

In fact this lake containing hundreds of skeletons is located in the slopes of Trishul massif, the mountain range of Himalayas, about which I was equally ignorant as in the case of Skeleton Lake.

Trishul I, Trishul II and Trishul III are three mountains in a group in Himalayas known as Trishula. This group of three resemble a trident in looks! Trisula in Sanskrit is a trident which is believed to be the weapon of Lord Siva by Hindus while Himalayas itself is his  abode 

Skelton Lake and Trishula I,II and III


At an altitude of 5000 meters ,the area around the lake is uninhabited and can be reached in the State of Uttarakhand  possibly only by mountaineers. When the water level shrinks and not frozen the skulls and bones can be seen during one or two months a year during summer.

In 1942 a Game Reserve Ranger named Hari Krishna Madhwal discovered the skeletons accidently. Seeing hundreds of skeletons it is reported that his assistants ran away initially! It was thought that the skeletons belonged to Japanese soldiers who tried to invade India during WWII but upon detailed investigation by the British, it was confirmed that the bones were older than that period.

As late as 2004 a professional team of National Geographic magazine made an expedition to the lake and returned with 30 skeletons for their detailed studies. Some of the skeletons had hair and flesh attached to bones! DNA tests were conducted. It was finally confirmed that the skeletons are 1200 years old. Their death might have occurred in the 9th century AD!

In 2013 further studies were conducted and the reason for the death of hundreds of people was found out to be because of gigantic hailstorms especially from the evidences on bones of skulls and shoulders! Although the reason seems to be logical, still the controversies are on.

Some researchers are of the opinion that the skeletons belonged to a Hindu pilgrimage journey called Nanda Devi(a manifestation of Goddess Parvati) Raj Jot Yatra. The skeletons were of male female group belonging to a wide age range.

Roopkund trek...
Last few years an arranged trek by Tourism Dept named as above takes place in favorable season. This trek is considered to be moderate to hard(in terms of difficulty) and one of the most beautiful treks in India. The trail of 53 kms which passes through mountainous rivers, enthralling ridges, lush forests and scenic meadows is divided into 6 days for one to complete from the base camp of Lohajung/ Wan.

It seems the Govt has banned such a trek for the last two years since such treks are disturbing the ecological systems of the area.


Monday, 1 May 2023


It was in 1665 that Isaac Newton formulated his great gravitational theory after watching an apple fall straight down rather than sideways or even upward. The impact of his finding remain as one of the most popular scientific achievements to date.

Much later in 1976, two college dropouts  decided to use the same apple as the name and logo of their company. Their intention was to make small computers for people which are user friendly. The Apple Computer Company so formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak- there was a third cofounder also named Ronald Wayne who left the company after two weeks-   may value more than 2 trillion US dollars or more as of now! Hundreds of millions of people use Apple products everyday world wide- iBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple watch are some of them. As known today Apple Inc. sells through their Apple stores while miles of queues of people emerge in front of them in each town when new products are introduced! Now India has opened multiple Apple stores, produces iphones and expected that in another  five years more than half of apple products in the world will be produced from India- making a shift from China.

Here I am covering the story of the transformation of their first logo which showed Sir Isaac Newton and his apple to what is today- an apple with a byte oops a bite!!Read about Apple Computers which you don't know though you may be using their products for years...including the truth that Steve Jobs was fired by his own company once!

Coloured version of the first logo

The beginning....and why they chose an apple?

Founded on April 1 , 1976, Apple Computers started operations in the garage of Steve Jobs. Their first product Apple I was sold without a monitor the same year. Next year in 1977, they added the monitors. Within 4 years of existence they could make  sales of 117 million when they decided to go public in 1980.

Steve Jobs was a vegetarian , a fruitarian to be exact. He was an environmentalist also. He had spent some time in India as well, to experience Zen Buddhism. Jobs was working as a video game designer with a US firm named  Atari which was founded in 1972.When he named the firm as Apple, Jobs could have had the intention of listing in the phonebook ahead of Atari! This could be the logical reason why he and partners chose an apple to name their company. 

In 1974, Jobs had reconnected with his high school friend Stephen Wozniak who was with Hewlett Packard Co. They had a third partner named Ronald Wayne who designed their first logo with Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree with a ripened apple looming large about  to fall ! Strangely within 12 days of existence Ronald Wayne left the organization and later sold his 10% share of $800 to his partners!

Evolution of logos....

In 1977,one year after the first logo depicting the apple about to fall on the head of Sir Isaac Newton, with the caption 'Newton: A mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought...alone' they decided to change drastically. This time they went for an apple in rainbow colours. The designer went to include a bite on the apple to differentiate from that of a cherry! The apple with a bite continue to remain as their logo albeit the fact that they have changed the colours and shades from time to time.

How Steve Jobs was fired from his own company?

Strange things can happen in corporate world as I know first hand! As the Apple Inc was getting established and professionally growing, the two co founders thought that they should have a CEO who is senior to them and mature enough to guide the company to greater heights. When Steve Jobs zeroed on John Sculley, the CEO of Pepsico, the later was not interested to join them. "Do you want to sell sugar water for rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Jobs is recorded to have asked Sculley. However Sculley joined Apple Inc in 1983.

Two years later, over two  new products launched -the Lisa and the Macintosh- as they failed to perform in sales returns, Jobs and Sculley had to quarrel. The issue was taken to the Board. In 1985 the Board decided to fire Steve Jobs, leaving the Apple company without the inputs of the iconic founder!

It took another 12 years as Apple company confronted more and more problems without a stalwart like Jobs, the Board decided to call back services of Steve Jobs in 1997! I am not going to  elaborate what Steve Jobs did here. The world would not have been the same but for his contribution!

Saturday, 1 April 2023


Vodka is synonymous with Russia like Alfred Hitchcock with thriller movies. Vodka is more of a symbol of Russia to rival its own brown bears, caviars and Matryoshka! Sure, Vodka is native of Russia with the highest consumption rate among the people for the last many centuries-currently with 17 shots per person per month! Poland and Ukraine are close enough to them in this matter. So also the whole of Vodka belt containing Eastern Europe and Nordic countries.

The word Vodka comes from the translation of water in Russian "Voda".Experts suggest that its use became so common among the people in Russia because it is a quick remedy for the cold they have to face! And vodka is everywhere in Russia, in politics, folk songs, movies, literature, jokes which has become inseparable with social life of people. 

Having narrated about the importance of Vodka in the life of Russia and Russians, there was a time when they ran out of Vodka for a day and had to face disrupted supply for many following days! That was on May 9, 1945, the day Germany had surrendered to the Allied Forces as officially announced by Russia on the radio!! The news broke out on that day by 1.10 am but the Soviet citizens went outside in the middle of the night in their pajamas, embraced each other and wept with joy. Before Stalin could officially announce about the German surrender, the country had run out of Vodka!!

Russia has not changed..
In 2017, much later after Soviet Union had disintegrated to so many countries including Russia, Geetha and I ,were in Moscow along with few other Indians on a tour. As we visited a good restaurant for a buffet dinner, there was a free offer from the owner that either a can of beer or a shot of locally brewed Vodka is free. As expected hardly few fellow Indians had it but those who had ,went for international brands of beer. But I went for the Vodka since I thought it was a good chance to taste the local brew of Moscow. Sure , as practiced I wanted soda or water to dilute it but the bartender asked me to take it as it is in sips.It was a good decision and I ordered for the second shot. Geetha joked that it was a clever ploy of the owner to extract money. But when we wanted to settle the bill I was not charged for the Vodka in spite I had asked to bill the extra shot! The waiter smilingly told me that it was on the house! Their love for Vodka has not changed a bit whether the Govt has become capitalist or communist or dictatorship!!

Origin of Vodka...
Poles claim that they had been making Vodka from 8th century distilling grain and potato spirits. However Russia started it much later in the 14th century. It is believed that an orthodox monk named Isidore of Greek origin had pioneered it in 1430, distilling from Chudov monastery in Moscow distilling products of wheat and hence known as 'bread wine'.

                                                                      Chudov Monastery

In 1472 the Tsar Ivan II institutionalized the first state autonomy of Vodka in the country. All in Russia had to purchase the state produced Vodka except the nobles of the society who were permitted to brew. Thus home brewed Vodka offered infused with herbs, berries and fruits. Peter the Great invented the 'penalty shot'- a shot of Vodka - but in goblet of 1.5 litres- to be gulped by those who came late to his parties!!  The first prohibition was also imposed during the Tsarist reign. Tsar Nicholas did that in 1914.I don't know whether it had any impact with Bolshevik revolution which followed soon!!

When the communist revolution came in 1917 it did not curb the people's interest in Vodka either, since it was a good way of collection of revenue. In fact the production, distribution and sales of Vodka were more professionalized. During the second world war, the Soviet soldiers were supplied with 100 grams of Vodka each day!!

Smirnoff Vodka is not a Russian brand!

Smirnoff who fled Russia during the revolution period established his brand of Vodka made in USA and Canada and many other western countries. Made from grains of wheat, corn and potatoes this brand is the largest selling brand in the world among 130 countries where Vodka is used! Second most sold brand of Vodka is Absolut, a Swedish product!Than the quality of these products, western techniques of advertisements and sales might have helped establish these brands  in the world in popularity, I presume.



Wednesday, 1 March 2023


I had been thinking earnestly that it is in some of the trains and buses in the third world only that passengers are mostly stuffed like sardines in a tiny tin. Though it cannot be compared in the real sense of it, when I saw passengers being pushed inside trains in Tokyo Metro professionally I got a hiccup! And there are professional pushers named as 'Oshiya' employed in Japan!!And why, I was curious to find out?

Tokyo caters for 38 million people! And most of them live in far suburbs as the accommodation is expensive and use public transport systems. While the trains are most modern, fast and passenger friendly in queues, the rush hours are simply maddening- with as much as 200% over capacity crowd. I am sure that the authorities must have reached the dead end of facilitating more trains. Instead they employed passenger pushers to manage the situation.

And I understand that Tokyo is not the first city to deploy them but New York in 1920s! So also Frankfurt ,Madrid and some cities in China use the system to this day! Definitely not on a lighter tone, the youngsters of Kerala state(my home state)where they move around the globe looking for new lucrative jobs, this could be a chance if you happen to be in Japan- "Oshiya" of Tokyo!

Most populated city...the need of pushers

Tokyo is the most populated city in the world to be followed by Delhi and Shanghai. About 57% of total population of Japan live in Tokyo. As the standards of living are higher and costly, most of the common people live in far suburbs. And most of them use public transport systems mainly trains to reach their working places and shopping areas. The complexity of the rail map of Tokyo above reflects the need of such extensive and serpentine rail road systems of metro and other subway trains in that city. At Shin Kunju station in central Tokyo 1.1 million people board or leave trains daily!

During winter as the commuters use warmer and heavier clothes, the spaces get more squeezed practically.

In spite of all the efforts, it seems the authorities might have reached the dead end of introducing more new routes and trains. In peak rush hours some of the stations are run in 200% over capacity! This is when Japan introduced 'Oshiya' or passenger pushers taking a clue from New York from 1964 onwards when Japan staged the first Olympics!

Enter the passenger pushers!
Dressed in full suits and white gloves pushers of Tokyo Metro cannot be missed at all during rush hours. These professional pushers are trained  for few weeks before they are deputized for the job. Generally the Japanese pushers are polite and passengers cooperate with them for being pushed in. They might have learned  a lesson or two from New York rail pushers who were hated by commuters being rude and they were known as 'sardine packers'! At times college students are also employed  to allow them to earn extra monies! Interestingly the train passengers are almost silent despite being pushed in! At the Lost & Found at every station piles of shoes, handbags, tie pins or books are reported to be exhibited soon after rush hours. Not only the passengers but these pushers also contribute their efforts in this matter.

On an average they are paid an annual salary of $44995 (Rs. 40 lakhs!) for this weird job.

Pushers of China, Spain, Germany...
In China at least in three metros at Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou they use pushers at peak rush hours currently since 2008. At Madrid Metro pushers are known as 'empujadores' and employed since 2017.At Frankfurt Metro especially while the famous trade fair take place there, they seek the help of pushers since 2015.


Wednesday, 1 February 2023


Since we came back from Doha and resettled  in our home town of Kochi, Geetha and I started visiting many states of India which we had not seen so far. So also places within our own state. Travel has been always one of our passions. Soon we could regroup with three more old friends - late Govindan Kutty, Cherian and Venugopal-  classmates of mine at the Engineering College hailing from the same city who have similar tastes and interests. Moreover we all were working initially in India but spent the hey days of our careers in Arabian Gulf states which was another catalyst to make our relationships warm. Along with them and their better halves, we could make a lot of trips within own state, rest of India and abroad. One such trip was specific for Marayoor, the only place in Kerala known for natural sandal wood forests. It is also known for ' Neelakurinji' flowers which blossom only once in twelve years! But we could end up visiting something I hardly knew of -Dolmen  of pre historic days !!

Situated at +5000 ft above MSL, Marayoor can be reached by serpentine roads about 50 kms away from Munnar, the famous hill station. Due to its location and climatic conditions Marayoor is the only place in Kerala where Apples, Oranges, strawberries, Blackberries, Plums and Peaches are grown. Dolmens of Marayoor are locally known as 'Muniyara' meaning dens of sages. The way these dolmen are kept or I would say  neglected by the Govt and public , I am sure that people over here are not fully aware of our own values in history. These dolmen could be the earliest monuments of its kind existing  in the state, or one of such in India and rest of the world!

Dolmen in India...

About these dolmen I had read about years back somewhere but not much. As we walked up the steep hill enjoying the cool breeze  of the afternoon and reached the place, I could find quite a number of such dolmen. Dolmen are burial chambers of prehistoric age meant for people of higher status in the society. They were buried in sitting positions. Even now this practice is continued among certain communities in India. The bigger the chamber the more important the person would have been. They are made of four stones placed on edges with a larger stone used as 'a cap stone' which are called megaliths. With the 'Anamudi' hill in the distant background, hundreds of such stone chambers all around is a scene which we will remember for a long time time to come.

These Dolmen belong to Neolithic age- a term used when man shifted from hunting wild animals to plants for a family style account- 4000 BC to 2000BC.It seems that many anthropologists and archaeologists visit this location from all over the world. But the site is completely neglected by the authorities!

While Kerala remains the state where maximum dolmens are found in India, they are also found in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Dolmen abroad....

Dolmen are known to exist in Japan, Russia, South Korea, Ireland, Israel Jordan and China. In North Africa and European countries too they exist. The maximum number (35000) is found in South Korea where the UNESCO has declared as heritage sites.

In olden times people were superstitious to believe that those dolmen were creations of giants or even devils! Few centuries back some anthropologists shared the view that these dolmen are creations of certain Aegean tribes which is proved to be wrong later. Now that it is proved to be scientifically by 14 C radio carbon method which is available since 1940, the oldest is believed to be in central Europe/Northern Europe. I am not ready to buy this 'historical story' readily since the Europeans will go to any extend to show case that they have a superior past compared to others! More over I simply believe that past history of India and elsewhere in Asia were much superior to those of Europeans although the later happen to colonize and steal all the resources of Asians!

                        One of the dolmen preserved in South Korea

The absence of any metal is an indication of the age of the dolmen. The famous Stonehenge of UK is not a dolmen in the strictest sense of it but definitely it is made of stones including dolmen! Other older megaliths of the world are Gobekli Tepe (Turkey),Alit Yama (Israel), Carnac stones(France) and the Pyramids of you know where they are!


Sunday, 1 January 2023


What's common with Albert Einstein, Learnado Da Vinci and Stephen W Hawking? High rate of Intelligence, of course. They were not known to be subjected to any IQ tests in their lifetime though.IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient as we all know. Intelligence of any individual is difficult to measure it is said. Yet this has not stopped us to get attracted by intelligence tests.

What's the score for an average IQ rating? What is the score the above gentlemen would have scored in such tests or to put it another way how much is given to them each by the scientific community? Which community or countrymen top the list with highest IQ rating in the world? Being an Indian, I was curious to know, where does an average Indian stand in the scale?

The biggest irony is that the first IQ test ever invented  by two professional psychologists of France in 1905  was not to find out the brightest among students but on the contrary the weakest who may require support in their studies!!Read about IQ, the most sought after 'commodity' in the world, which most of us are not aware of!

The first IQ test 

It was in 1905 that two French Psychologists named Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon designed a professional IQ test for  children. It was never known as IQ test then because the abbreviation IQ was coined by German Psychologist named William Stern only in 1912.The intention of Binet and Simon in formulating the test was for school children to find out those who are struggling in studies so that they can be supported! But it so happened that this test became the basis of all modern IQ tests which came thereafter to this day!

 Salient ratings of  IQ tests
Most of the people when tested fall between 85-115, while 100 is considered as the average. It is found that career wise IQ ratings of Managers and Administrators are lower than professional doctors and technocrats. Sales people stand still lower!

What about sex difference in intelligence? Test results show that in certain test batteries males are better while in others females. In overall performance there is zero difference. Also it is found that among races  it varies is a myth! It is also proved that the new generation fares over the old because of better education, better nutrition and better environments. 

Dark history of Tests..
All countries have imperfect history and US or others are no exemptions. While Adolf Hitler is notoriously projected as champion of racisms practiced at its extreme in the world, do you know that Virginia Sterilization Act of  1924 which allowed Sterilization of the feebleminded in US? So also in Nordic countries like Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden in 1930s. 

A poster in US by those believed in Eugenics!
Based on Eugenics- practice of selective breeding of human population based on IQ tests- definitely there was a dark past in history of mankind in conducting such tests. It was as late as 2001 that Virginia General Assembly passed a joint resolution expressing regret over such incidents and offered compensations to the victims expected to be not less than 7000! 

During WWI, US Army used to conduct two type of tests for the new recruits, named as Alpha and Beta tests it is recorded. The first was a written test while the second was for those who couldn't read.

However thankfully intentions and practices of IQ tests improved all around the world over the years which are based on verbal reasoning, working memory and visual-spatial skills.

Which countries top the list in IQ rating..
The best 10 countries in the world in IQ rankings are as below:
1.Japan                           106.48
2.Taiwan                          106.47
3.Singapore                     105.89
4.Hong Kong (China)        105.37
5.China                           104.10
6.South Korea                  102.35
7.Belarus                         101.60
8.Finland                         101.20
9.Liechtenstein                 101.70
10.Germany &Netherlands 100.74

One can notice that there is hardly any difference in scores between the first and second which are Japan and Taiwan! Also one can notice that the first six countries are from Asia and from one region more or less. In spite of this fact the Europeans made Asia their colonies and stole all our resources. Still they do in one way or the other!! I have noticed that some surveys vary in results of the rankings but only in minor nature. Surprisingly- at least for me- India stands in a position of 143 only out of 199 countries!!India unfortunately get lower rankings in almost all the international ranking scales such as Hunger Index, Cleanliness, Pollution etc in spite that we are one of the richest countries in the world currently. The main reason could be the huge disparity in everything among the people but in anther ten years I think India will do much better.

Mensa International and TNS 
There are  few international clubs/societies where the membership is restricted to those having very high IQ ratings. Mensa International is such an organization having 134000 members in 100 countries world wide. Their requirement for membership is a score over 98th percentile on certain standard IQ tests! Another similar organization is Triple Nine Society or TNS. Their requirement for membership is 99.9th percentile as indicated in the name!

Tail Piece
While reading and writing a lot about these blessed people with a lot of intelligence, I find myself solace with words of Socrates and Samuel Goldwyn. Socrates we all know about. Samuel Goldwyn was a poor Polish Jew migrated to US who eventually became a leading business person apart from a film producer and director there. 

Socrates who lived between 470-399BC philosophically had told " I know that I am intelligent because I know nothing! ". Samuel Goldwyn 1879-1974 was more practical when he concluded that " Give me a smart idiot over a stupid genius any day"! Albert Einstein himself has commented that "I can' is 100 times more important than "I.Q"!


Thursday, 1 December 2022


Which country has the best coffee in the world? I am not an expert in the field but still I would say it is Columbia (arguably) from authentic  statistics and unbiased information available  on the subject. The Columbian landscape provides the perfect natural environments for growing coffee along with its climate among 80 countries which grow coffee. The quality of coffee is influenced also by a variety of factors such as soil, altitudes above sea level etc. making Columbia filling up 15% of world consumption by its own Arabica.

But what interests me are two factors - one historical and the other commercial -which influenced Columbia in its production of Coffee beans. First is about Francesco Romero who was a Jesuit priest visiting Columbia in  18th century. Having convinced himself about what  wonders coffee could do for the people and the country , he used the most unethical religious method to spread coffee plantations among people who were reluctant to plant coffee beans!

Second is how Columbia professionally marketed its coffee to reach the world by inventing and promoting a fictional Columbian coffee farmer named Juan Valdez with his mule since 1959.Both are incredible but true....

Coffee Revolution in Columbia..

It started with a Jesuit Priest named Francisco Romero from Spain visiting the country in the 18th century. Coffee had reached Columbia before that but the farmers were reluctant to plant them considering the fact that it takes not less than 5 years for the coffee plants to bear fruits for the first crop. Pretty long time for the poor farmers.

Having convinced about the development coffee plantations can make in the families and society under the best climatic environments ideally suited for coffee to grow, it is believed that this priest did a trick with the believers. Instead of the usual penance at confession in the church he told them to plant coffee plants!!He promised them in the name of God that the sins will be absolved in exchange!!The penance could go between 100 or 1000  bushes depending on the seriousness of the sin made.

This reminds me of 'sale of indulgences' by Pope Leo X in 1517 for raising funds to build St Peter's Basilica at Rome! While this act resulted in the movement of Reformation by Martin Luther and finally leading to split of the church, the act of Francisco Romero made a positive revolution for Columbia. As a priest he was in all the places of Columbia but he started promoting cultivation of coffee at Salazar de las Palmas. Within a few years after the death of Francisco Romero in 1865, Columbia started exporting coffee!!

What Juan Valdez with his mule Conchita did..

National Federation of Coffee Growers of Columbia as early as 1959 started taking steps to take Columbian Coffee reach the international market. They entrusted the famous US ad firm named Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) for this purpose. Thus the fictional coffee farmer Juan Valdez was born at Manhattan, NY created by William Bernbech, the founder of DDB. Juan Valdez was also given a companion which was a mule named Conchita. Valdez and Conchita shook the minds of American coffee lovers. Just 5 months after the first Juan Valdez commercial was introduced in US, the sale of Columbian coffee there was increased by a whopping 300%, to the astonishment of even DDB. Within few years it became a household name in America!

Initially the role of Juan Valdez- dressed in the classic outfit of Columbian coffee region- was played by a Cuban named Jose Duval. He was succeeded by Carlos Sanchez from Columbia till 2006.Now it is done by Carlos Castaneda , an actual coffee grower from Columbia! Juan Valdez is always seen with his pet donkey Conchita carrying two bags full of coffee beans on its sides. Such animals are favorites in the hilly coffee regions of Columbia as companions of farmers.

There are hundreds- over 335- of Juan Valdez coffee shops in Columbia and around 150 abroad. There is one at Katara Cultural Centre at Doha, Qatar but not in India yet I presume. They may be thinking that all Indians are 'chai' lovers but south India especially Chennai could challenge this belief!

No wonder that coffee became the second most consumed beverage in the world after water!


Tuesday, 1 November 2022


When Americans get a holiday on every 10th October since 1937 to celebrate as 'Columbus Day', why should I doubt? Americans and Europeans can never go wrong in anything especially narration of their own history, don't you think so? Nevertheless that Christopher Columbus never set his foot or discovered North America in any of his voyages is a historical fact. Then who else? Amerigo Vespucci, whose name gave the country and two continents their names -America? He did not land in north America any time either! Was it Leif Ericson, the Islandic Viking explorer who is believed to have reached Newfoundland, Canada some 500 years before Columbus? No, as he too failed to reach America main land.

Interestingly as we all know that Columbus was keen to find a new sea route to reach India for trading its riches along with Indies and China. Finally when Columbus reached the islands like Bahamas and Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic as known today), he sincerely believed that he had reached India and the people over there were called Indians! This fact is too well known to be repeated here.

When Amerigo Vespucci reached South America and Amazon river, he named that spot of Amazon as 'Gulf of Ganges' since he too believed that he had reached India and Ganges! I am sure that this is not well known in history....

This is not history reinvented but revisited. It was there all along but many of us must not have noticed or wrongly observed for obvious reasons!

Columbus makes 4 trips ... but none touched main land of USA! 
During the 15th and 16th century Europeans, esp. Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and others wanted to find sea routes to India, China and Far East. Their main intention was to bring back cargoes of spices and silks to make them quick rich.

Christopher Columbus was from Genova, Italy by birth but moved later to Lisbon, Portugal. Columbus knew that the earth was round unlike the Catholic theologians of those days who insisted that Earth was flat! He calculated that sailing west instead of East and Africa would eventually lead to India. Finally the King and Queen of Portugal, Ferdinand and Isabell agreed to finance the trip of of Columbus.

Columbus travelled in1492 in the ship named 'Santa Maria' and along with another two more- the Nina and the Pinta- similar ships and a crew of 90 from Palos, Spain for sure.  

Between 1492 and 1504 , Columbus made 4 trips of expeditions of discovery to India and Indies, which was later known as the Age of Discovery. Although he didn't touch the main land of America as seen in the map above, these voyages led to the widespread knowledge of the New World! The Bahamas as well as the Caribbean islands are known to this day as west Indies. It  is also to be noted here that Columbus was merciless, brutally enslaving the natives(thinking that they were Indians) in these expeditions! He died in 1502 on the belief  that he had discovered a new sea route to India!

Amerigo Vespucci had made 2 trips but again did not touch America!
Vespucci played a major role in at least two voyages in search of India between 1499 and 1502  reaching the present South America. He was from Italy and by profession a cartographer. In 1499 when he sailed to the Amazon river, he had named that as 'Gulf of Ganges' thinking that he had reached India! In history it is recorded that Vespucci had met Columbus at least once in 1496 and shared the experiences but both never landed in United States Of America!

In 1507 Martin Waldseemuller, a German clergy man and another famous cartographer first used the name of America in honour of Amerigo Vespucci and it got stuck to the two new continents and the country. He was the first to make a new map of the world separating America from Asia. In US every March 9 is observed as Amerigo Vespucci day officially but  much less in fanfare and celebration to Columbus day, I believe.

Voyage of Leif Erikson...
About 500 years early to expeditions of Columbus and Vespucci, an Islandic Viking explorer had surely made a voyage from his home country in search of the New world. It is recorded in history that he had established a settlement at Vinland in Newfoundland, Canada.

It was US President Coolidge who recognized the feat of Leif Erikson in 1925 and declared October 9 as Leif Erickson day.


Saturday, 1 October 2022


Some of the best  moments I have had in my retired life, after settling to my home town eight years back, is the time spent with my grandchildren. Nothing unusual than what the world generally goes with, but still I would consider myself lucky. The moments which are filled up with love and happiness, lighter moments of laughter and a lot more which only such  grandparents and grandchildren will fully understand! It is said that the genes skip a generation, though I don't know whether it is scientifically true or not. Probably that's why grandparents find their grandchildren so likeable!!

One thing which I am exposed to once again  during this period is the nursery rhymes which they went through while they were in play schools. To the best of my understanding a nursery rhyme  in English or any language or vernacular is a poem or song evolved around certain traditions or hearsays. They are  rhythmical and intended to amuse young children. Such rhymes are always imaginary and bear nothing to do with any actual event though for centuries they are passed from generation to generation.

But only recently I came to know that at least one among hundreds of such old nursery rhymes is based on an actual event. That's to do with Mary and her lamb. There was a Mary who lived in Sterling, Massachusetts, US around early 18th century. And she had a little lamb too which accompanied her wherever she went including the school! But the actual history of the authorship   of this popular rhyme is not kid stuff including legal battles in which even the Automobile icon Henry Ford was involved at one stage! And this rhyme was the first recorded human voice in the first Phonograph invented by Edison in 1877!

This article is dedicated to my grandchildren Maria and Serah. Maria will be completing her ninth birthday next month while Serah does her fifth today. Yes, Mary had a little lamb in true life!     


                                                                       Maria & Serah

1806 -It starts with Mary Elizabeth Sawyer.....
Mary Elizabeth Sawyer was born in 1806 on a farm in Sterling, Mass. When she was nine years old in 1815,while helping out her father in the farm, they discovered a sickly new born lamb that had been abandoned by her mother. Mary persuaded her parents to allow her to hand raise the lamb. Although they didn't expect the baby to survive for long, against all odds  Mary could nurse the poor lamb to health. And where ever Mary went this lamb just followed keeping a special relation with her! And as the lamb grew up she had a fleece as white as snow!

The lamb used to follow Mary and her brother to the one room school they attended which was known as Redstone School. In the class also Mary had very embarrassing moments due to the lamb.
      Redstone one room School which Mary and the lamb attended

One day One John Roulstone a student of the same school but senior to Mary wrote three stanzas of a poem based on the special relationship Mary and lamb had as we all know.

                                         Mary had a little lamb;
                                  Its fleece was white as snow;
                                  And everywhere that Mary went,
                                  The lamb was sure to go.
                                  It followed her to school one day
                                  Which was against the rule;
                                  It made the children laugh and play
                                  To see a lamb at school

                                  And so the teacher turned it out;
                                  But still it lingered near,
                                  And waited patiently about
                                  Till Mary did appear.

The lamb mothered three lambs of her own before she died. John Roulstone too suddenly died in 1822 at his age of 17 while he was at Harvard!

The controversy starts...
In 1830 Sarah Josepha Hale, a renowned writer hailing from Newport, published her book titled 'Poems for Our Children' which included a version of the poem penned by John Roulstone! Sarah didn't make it clear how she could include a poem about Mary's lamb. And Mary didn't have any idea how Sarah had gotten Roulstone's poem!!All the more Mary didn't have any proof to show than her testimony. Mary had lost his hand written poem but she didn't loose the socks she had knitted from the wool of the very lamb that followed her to school.  According to Mary Sawyer the lamb was a female while Sarah Hale's poem says it was a male!

Soon the residents of Sterling, Mass and those from Newport, New Hampshire were arguing about the the poem's provenance for years. The fight did not stop when Sarah died in 1879 followed by Mary who died in 1889!

The first recording of human voice..
When Thomas Edison invented the Phonograph for the first time in 1877, it was this poem that was recited for the first time! Yes. The first recording of human voice ever made was recitation of the poem 'Mary had a little lamb'!
                                          Mary Sawyer

Henry Ford comes to picture...
Henry Ford openly sided with Mary Sawyer by 1920.It was he who bought the old school building where the lamb incident took place and moved to Sudbury, Mass. The city authorities also made sure of preserving the house of Mary Sawyer to this day where it is erected now. He also published a book on Mary and the lamb!
                                Mary's house as seen today

It is interesting to note that a 2 feet tall statue of Mary's lamb stands in the town centre of Sterling!

Still an outstanding mystery....
It may be noted that I could not find anywhere the mention of the name of the lamb! After all this lamb was a pet and it is very likely that Mary had named it. But I could not find anywhere in the records the name in spite of the fact that the story of the lamb later became controversial. May be Maria or Serah  later, or any of my readers can find it and inform me...Always remember that no topic is trifle. Interestingly there is a lot to learn and understand in the world though many look silly apparently.

Be imaginative, creative and inquisitive...life is altogether different with these virtues.