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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.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022


   D     E     D      I      C     A     T     I     O    N 

Mr. N.Govindankutty is no more. He breathed his last on 15th August 2022.He was one of the very best among my close friends  and a fine human being. Our friendship lasted over 50 years but while we were in Qatar that it flowered and blossomed the best. A big loss for me!

Mr. Kutty was a senior MEP Project Manager who was a very professional veteran in his field of specialization in execution of infrastructure projects. He was himself an acrophile- having no fear of heights- who had successfully contributed his professional service in high-rise structures of Dubai including Emirates Towers and Burj Khalifa, the tallest in the world!

My tearful bouquet for him🎕. Please rest in peace 'Kuttysaab' as he was called by me fondly. I am dedicating this article to him today - from the conventional date of every first of very month- being his Sapindi day-16th day of his demise. 🙏 -----------------------------------

The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, The Chrysler Building, George Washington Bridge, United Nations HQ, Time Warner Center and a host of others....What is common for all these structures other than that they all are located in Manhattan, NY? Common architects and structural engineers? Construction methodology? Period of construction? None of these.

The common factor is that they are built into record heights by a group of men known as 'Sky Walkers'. But for their nature of having no fear of heights- acrophiles- with their skill in steel construction and riveting ,simply it would not have been possible at a time when techniques and equipment  of construction were not computer aided and modern as today! And fast  they did. The Empire State Building was constructed within a period of one year!!

Again it is not known to the outside world much that majority of those of 'Sky Walkers' belonged to the Mohawks Indians, a tribe of indigenous people of North America from New York State and Canada! Mohawks were there to construct World Trade Centre and also to cart away the debris of the same building after it came down on September 9/11.New York Times once wrote about them that " Like little spiders they toiled spinning a fabric of steel against the sky!


Mannahatta to Manhattan...
Historically Manhattan island belonged mainly to the Indian tribe of Lenape before colonization by Europeans which was known  as 'Mannahatta' meaning 'the place we get bows' in their language. The island was full of Hickory trees considered ideal for bows. Later it was bought by the Dutch from the Indians which was renamed as 'New Amsterdam' and finally emerged as  Manhattan. Henry Hudson, an Englishman who worked for Dutch East India company discovered it in 1609. While Manhattan remains the most expensive real estate in the world and show cases some of the beautifully designed sky scrappers in the modern world, Times Square is the most visited tourist destination of the world- more than 50 million annually! My interest in the skyscrapers of New York never ceases it seems and here trying to dig out more on the subject.

The race for the tallest building in the world!
The race for the tallest building in the world was not between two countries but two cities in the same country if you didn't know -Chicago and New York in the late eighties. American Surety Building in NY in 1895 was the first to be followed by others. However Chicago won the race later with opening of Sears Towers in 1974(now known as Willis Tower).Empire State Building, NY adorned the title to be the tallest for a long period from 1930 to 1970. Later it was dwarfed by Petronas Tower at Kuala Lampur in 1996,Taipie's Taipei in 2004 and current champion is Burj Khalifa at Dubai since 2010.

The first photo above which was clicked in 1932 at RFC Building, NY is iconic. It was on the 69th floor at 850 feet above GL and was publicized as a stunt for the popularity of the building but became symbolic with the period of The Great Depression which was looming large at that time. The same photo is also mistakenly circulated as atop the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Centre! The second photo is what New York looks like from the edge of a skyscraper.

Structural Steel enters as the main building material in US...
Henry Bessemer of Britain in 1856 remains as the father of modern steel making as he could develop a method of producing steel that was quicker and cheaper followed by William Siemens who could develop the technology further. But it was Andrews Carnegie of US who popularized steel as the main construction material for the skyscrapers of NY and elsewhere. Soon in the early 20th century US surpassed the combined production of Britain and Germany!! The huge fire which swept Chicago in 1871 might have surely influenced the designers of high rise at NY.

Enter the Mohawks!
In1880s the Canadian Pacific Railway Company was building a bridge in the Kahnawake Mohawk reservation that the authorities noticed the special talents of the Mohawk Indians- that they are more or less fearless while working at heights. Soon they were employed in the whole of US especially in cases of high rise buildings, that in steel. From 1930s to 1970 on special labour contracts they were employed in Manhattan towers. Those years we were not as modern as today  in safety matters- Safety, Health and Environments- SHE or HSE as known in the professional construction field. Many accidents have happened. But those incidents never altered the outlook of Mohawks towards their dedicated trade!


Monday, 1 August 2022


 The more I read about the history of India especially how the British East India Company (EIC) came to power and colonized the country, it becomes more and more intricate and convoluted to me. New unknown names and characters come to central stage all of a sudden from nowhere which the Indian historians have hardly mentioned, for reasons beyond my comprehension!

Such a name is Dr. William Hamilton, a surgeon who came to India in 1717.How come a doctor played a crucial and decisive role in the affairs of EIC which captured the control of India ultimately? Such a reflection can be still seen on the grave inscriptions of the doctor at the St John's church, Calcutta which is given below. It ends with 'he made his own name famous at the court of the Great Monarch; and without doubt will perpetuate his memory as well in Great Britain as all other nations of Europe'!

Here is  another episode on how Britain became 'great' at the expenses of oppression of Indians and systematic loot of  resources for centuries, one of the biggest benefactors of his country. How EIC became the bellwether of the British Economy? What's the roles of surgeons in the establishment of the domain of EIC in India? And at least in one instance EIC reps were forced to prostrate in front of the Indian Emperor asking for forgiveness in Child's war!!

EIC... Coat of Arms

1600....EIC is born...
It was in the year 1600 that Queen Elizabeth I of Britain granted a petition signed by over 200 merchants of London allowing them to trade with the Eastern world. Thus East India Company (EIC) was formed on 31 December 1600, the first Joint Stock Company in the world. It was during the reign of Akbar, the Mughal emperor in India that this incident happened which was hardly noticed in many parts of even Britain or Europe, forget about India. After all having trading relationship with India was existing from time immemorial by Romans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Venetians, Egyptians, Chinese, Arabs...'Red Dragon' the first ship owned by EIC set sail to the East Indies(Indonesia) under the command of James Lancaster soon. Medical Officers were employed as ship surgeons who were qualified to treat the crew of the ships initially and later the staff of EIC at shores as they were not sure of the quality of medical service available on the lands they will trade.

'Red Dragon' docks in India... the first EIC factory
It was in 1612 that 'Red Dragon' came to India for the first time which was under the command of Thomas Best, who could get trading rights at Surat. In 1613 the first EIC factory in India was established there. Gabriel Boughton, the ship's surgeon is said to have saved Princess Jahanara, daughter of the reigning Mughal emperor Shah Jehan, from injuries due to  burns. The emperor was pleased and the incident acted like a catalyst for giving the trading rights and eventually to award duty free rights to EIC. By 1647 EIC had 23 factories in India. Money started pouring to London in leaps and bounds, in spite of few Anglo Dutch wars!  

Initial humiliating set back for EIC... Child's war 
When it was thought that everything is in order for a thriving business in India, the relationships with the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb soured. In 1689, a Mughal fleet under command of Sidi Yaqut defeated the forces of EIC at Bombay when Sir Josiah Child was their Governor at London. The Company was forced to seek pardon with the Emperor by sending their representatives to prostrate in front of the Emperor for forgiveness. I don't think EIC had to do such an act before or after in the history of India! And I wonder myself why I did not know that all these years!

Soon after the company decided to concentrate at Calcutta to continue the business.

William Hamilton's role commences....
He reached India as a surgeon in the ship named 'Sherborne'. Later he was appointed as second surgeon to the British settlement in India in 1711.When the British Embassy started operation at Calcutta in 1714, he was reappointed as Medical Officer.

It was Farrukhsiyar, the tenth Mughal ruler who reigned in north India between 1713 and 1719.He also happened to be Aurangzeb's great grandson who came to power after assassinating his own uncle. He was a handsome man but lacked the brightness to rule his kingdom on his own, more depending on his advisors!

 In 1715 EIC decided to send a delegation to the Emperor at Delhi asking for major grants for the establishment of the company affairs in India further. They were mainly (1) to purchase 38 villages surrounding the headquarters of the company in Bengal (2) Trading privileges in Bengal and (3) further fortifications of Calcutta. Why EIC decided to include William Hamilton who is a medical officer at the Embassy in such a delegation is not known. Could be that they remembered about the services of Gabriel Doughton in 1613 or might have heard about the decease the Emperor had which was kept as a state secret.

How William Hamilton succeeds in the getting the grants ...'Magna Carta' of EIC leading to British Raj!
Farrukhsiyar's second marriage was fixed with princess Indira Kanwar, daughter of Maharaja Ajit Singh, Rajput of Jodhpur. The conquered Rajput king wanted to make a treaty with the Mughals by submission to Delhi. But the marriage had to be postponed many times due to a very bad ailment the Emperor had on his groins. He had a bad swelling there and no indigenous medicines of Vydhyas and Hakims were effective. That's when William Hamilton reached Delhi and was consulted by the Emperor. The surgeon took a chance and made an operation which was successful.Needless to note that the Emperor was more than pleased!

The surgeon was honoured by gifting a lot of valuables including an elephant! But the unexpected bonanza was for the East India Company as the Emperor sanctioned the requests of the company in full issuing a Farman! This in hindsight turned out to be the 'Magna Carta' of EIC, eventually making the company loot India high and dry!

After the grant, Farukkhsiyar expressed his wish to retain the surgeon at Delhi but Hamilton refused. Dr. Hamilton died in 1717 at Calcutta, the same year of the grant while Farrukhsiyar was assasinated in 1719 at Delhi! EIC played the right trump card at the right time!!