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Tuesday, 5 September 2023

400,000! 4 LAKHS HITS!!

400,000 ! 4 LAKH.... HITS!!  

In spite of all the differences among us, this world is still small!!


400,000 and going on strong!That's the total number of readers worldwide who have visited my blog MUSINGS FROM DOHA at https://www.jaisonchacko.com/ so far. It is amazing, gratifying and equally encouraging for me to note that the readership has spread to 110 countries in  all the continents as shown above! Most of such countries are well known but quite a few are not that known- no offence meant to them- like Burkina Faso, Kosovo, Montenegro, Moldova or North Macedonia. Then, there are a few from 'unknown countries', classified as such by Google, presumably Cuba, Sudan, Syria, Crimea, North Korea or Iran, details of which is not known.Around 150 articles on various topics- on first of every month- are published so far on this blog. Two books are published based on selective topics namely ' Gandhi? Who's That?' and 'Kaleidoscopic Musings' , still available on Amazon. So far 1700 valuable comments are received from the readers worldwide! I thank each one of my readers , near and far, for your continued support. As far as I am concerned it is incredible but true! It also shows that in spite of all the differences among us, this world is still small!!

The following three articles are in the top of the chart in popularity now :

1.What and How to negotiate business deals.

2.63,Ravipuram Revisited and 

3.Five minutes before closing time......Beyond Lutyens Bakerloo and Chausath         Yogini.

And maximum  number of the readers are from the following 10 countries in that order now...

1.US                                                          6.Ukraine

2.Hong Kong                                               7.France

3.Indonesia                                                 8.Germany

4.India                                                        9.China and

5.Russia                                                      10.Qatar.

Of all, readers from US is 20%,Hong Kong 13%,Indonesia 10%,India 8% and Russia 5% followed by 6- 10 and rest of 100. Thanks to Google technology without which I could not have even dreamed of this feat. Perhaps more than anyone, I myself enjoy writing... keeping my old mind busy, young and creative.Thank you very much for your valuable supports.Namasthe!

Friday, 1 September 2023

WHAT THE LITTLE BOY AND FAT MAN DID TO THE WORLD....

The recent release of the Hollywood movie "Oppenheimer" , brought to my mind an avalanche of related thoughts, not mentioned in the movie, about the dropping of the first atomic bomb.I was not born then.The 'Little Boy'- Thin Man was the original name- and the 'Fat Man' were the names given to the atomic bombs by the Americans which were used in Japan. Why the Americans gave those funny names- which doesn't look funny to me- anyway?

The American bomber aircraft which dropped the bomb at Hiroshima was named as 'Enola Gay'.But who gave this strange name for this bomber? The pilot did.His name was Paul Tibbitts. He chose the name to honour his own old mother! Finally was it a honour or dishonour for her, I don't know.Because Paul who thought himself  to be a hero to his country men finally  decided  not to have an engraved grave fearing backlash from protestors for years to come!

On August 6, 1945 the 'Little Boy' was dropped over Hiroshima!Three days later  on August 9 the 'Fat man' was dropped over Nagasaki! The world was never the same again!!In fact, Nagasaki was not the original primary target but another city named Kokura.But on that fateful day Kokura was in morning fog! As such the pilot mistakenly or otherwise targeted secondary Nagasaki- which culminated a new expression 'Kokura's luck'!! 

I hope this article will enthuse especially the youngsters of the new gen on the subject. Many oldies of my generation as well may not be aware of these historical facts, many of them were classified information once.For example America decided not to include Albert Einstein , one of the their greatest Physicists to chair or even include in the team of ' Manhattan Project' formed to build the first atomic bomb!!  America decided to drop atomic bombs in Japan      in spite it was explicitly clear that Germany didn't have one as they surrendered unconditionally!! Why?

                                            Models of Fat Man and Little Boy on display at the Bradbury Science 

                      Museum Los Alamos National Laboratory. Image courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

From Pupil Hall, Manhattan to Los Alamos desert, New Mexico desert....

On atomic theory, a forerunner of making such a bomb, a number of scientists have contributed.Among them John Dalton and Frederick Sodely, both English scientists of 18th century and Pierre and Marie Currie, French scientists and Rutherford the New Zealand scientist  of early 19th century stand out. There could be others.Interestingly HG Wells, an English scientific fiction writer wrote about  an atomic bomb as early in 1914 in his novel 'The World Set Free'. There were efforts for splitting atom in France, Italy, Japan and Germany from late 19th and 20th centuries.

As the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, many leading Jewish scientists fled from that country for safe havens.In spite of this exodus, German Scientists Hahn and Strassmann could lead an operation there for making an atomic bomb.  Leo Szilard, a leading German scientist came to US and joined University of Chicago in 1942 and joined efforts to make the bomb. Prior to that in 1939 scientists of Columbia University could conduct a nuclear fission experiment successfully in the basement of a Physics lab named Pupil Hall, right in the heart of Manhattan very close to Broadway! Hardly few knew that then, even in US!

In August 1939, Albert Einstein wrote an official letter drafted  by Szilard to then US President Franklin D Roosevelt warning the impending danger of the Germans if successful in making an atomic bomb.Though US took serious efforts only after they entered the WWII, a committee was formed  which eventually gave birth to the secret move named 'Manhattan Project' to make a bomb in 1942 !Leslie Groves, an officer from US Corps of Engineers headed it while the team of scientists was headed by Robert Oppenheimer, another German Jew who migrated to America.  Interestingly Albert Einstein was sidelined by the Govt since he was thought to be left leaning politically and US Army intelligence didn't clear his name!!He was listed as a security risk!!However on July 16 1945 in the desert named Los Alamos near New Mexico,US the first nuclear test took place code named 'Trinity'! Robert Oppenheimer, father of nuclear bomb didn't live long as a hero there!

From Los Alamos desert to Hiroshima and Nagasaki... 

Harry Truman came to the seat of Presidentship in US soon after the death of President Roosevelt on April 12,1945. Team Manhattan was ready with  bombs as they recommended a short list of cities of Japan including Hiroshima and Kokura to be bombed as primary targets.They selected the cities, least affected by bombing thus far, so that the effects of the bombs could be measured better and the world could see possibly the might of a new military power on earth!

Meanwhile it was known that Germany was no more a nuclear threat as the country surrendered to the Allied forces on May 7,1945. As such two petitions signed by Leo Szilard and other 59 scientists involved including Robert Oppenheimer in making the atomic bombs urged the US President , commander-in- Chief in July 1945 not to use the atomic bomb in Japan.Unfortunately such  petitions never reached the President as Leslie Gores, Head of military sat on it!!

Both bombs were were transported to Tinian Island, Japan which was under command of American Forces on the ship USS 'Indianapolis' for assembly on July 26, 1945. Four days later this very ship was torpedoed by the Japanese Forces is another hardly known part of history!On August 6, 1945 at 2.00 AM the American Bomber B29 Superfortress named Enola Gay left the Japanese isle of Tinian and  headed for Hiroshima.At 08.15 AM local time the 'Little Boy' exploded! Three days after on August 9 the second bomber named as 'Bock's Car' dropped the 'Fat Man' over Nagasaki at 11.02 AM local time!The name of second bomber was so given by the pilot Frederick Bock who was selected to drop the Fat Man at Nagasaki.But on that fateful day due to technical reasons another pilot Charles Tweeny did that, could be another twist in the history!

TAIL PIECE...

Enola Gay is 'proudly' exhibited at National Air and Space Museum at Washington DC while Bock's Car is on display at US Air Force Museum,Ohio. I have seen Enola Gay in full sheen which is displayed at Washington but could not appreciate for some reason. But the meaningful funeral  silence maintained by the visitors at Peace Memorial at Hiroshima which I could experience 6 years back, lingers in  my mind to this day!

Before I conclude this article, I have to also mention about the Indian connection of Robert Oppenheimer. He was a German Jew by birth but like many other German scientists and philosophers he was interested in Indian Hindu scriptures especially 'Bhagavad Gita'. After his initial interests in the book reading the translated version, he took all the pains to study Sanskrit, the original language in which the book was written thousands of years back, to know more in depth about the meaning of the verses in the book first hand!!

          _____________________________________________

Tuesday, 1 August 2023

MAN MAKES PLANS...GOD LAUGHS !

We all know the sad plight of the recent Ocean Gate expedition - to explore the wreckage of the sunken ship SS Titanic.In fact for the last few decades wealthy and adventurous tourists have been paying heavily to catch a the glimpse of the wreck of the luxury ocean liner. This reminds me of a novel titled 'Futility' about which I want to share with you.This spins around one John Rowald who was in the US Navy but dismissed from service due to alcoholism.To make a living John joins a  mighty British ocean liner called 'Titan' as a deck machinery assistant.The ship collides accidently with a floating iceberg in North Atlantic Sea. Then only like others in the ship, John understands that the number of lifeboats arranged in the ship is much lower to what is actually required! The ship sinks to bottom of the sea eventually!

Does this story remind you  particularly of the actual story of 'The Titanic', the unsinkable ship ? Yes,it does. But when you note that this novel "Futility" was first published in 1898, fourteen years before 'The Titanic' was launched to sea  in  1912,one will be surprised obviously.

What the American author of many short stories and novels named Morgan Robertson did was exactly that. The poor chap never made a claim to be astrologic when the Titanic hit the bottom of the Atlantic.He always thought that the actual wreck of SS Titanic was just a coincidence to one of his stories!In spite of  this creation in fact he failed to make a living as a professional writer until his death. Believe it, he had given an alternative title to this particular book- 'The Wreck Of Titan' which is getting popular among readers these days! Man makes plans but God laughs...is an Yiddish proverb.

                                      


The 'Titan' and the 'Titanic' - the similarities are more than to be ignored...

The movie 'Titanic' of 1997 is one of the all time high box office hits ever made.Based on the actual story of one of the worst but biggest shipwrecks we ever had, I am not going to elaborate it once again since it is too well known. Commencing the maiden journey from Southampton, UK on April 10, 1912, the liner hits an iceberg on April 14 culminating in the drowning of 1517 passengers out of 2224.The main reason was that there were not enough lifeboats in the ship for safety although the ship is believed to have the best ever of that time!

Quite interestingly Robertson has written in his story a lot of similarities about the actual ship Titanic 14 years before it took the maiden journey.The very name of the ship was 'Titan' which was closer enough to the actual 'Titanic'! Both are described as the biggest ships of that time and could take a speed of 20 knots. Both were 'unsinkable'! The mishap was taking place in North Atlantic. Though Robertson is an American writer he envisaged the story to take place in a British liner. Hitting on an iceberg and shortage of lifeboats are the other two close similarities- one story and the other factual history. 

                    
                                                                                                    
                      Morgan Robertson                                                       Periscope
Once the tragic end of the 'Titanic' came out in the press,Robertson got a lot of publicity.He was more known as a clairvoyant- one who claims to predict the future, which Robertson strongly denied.It was a strange coincidence according to him. And Robertson being an expert on maritime trends might have influenced him while writing the stories.

Inventor of Periscope ?
Periscope is an instrument fitted in a submarine which allows the vessel to see targets when submerged, if you don't know.Robertson is believed to have claimed to have tried for the patent of a Periscope.In any case he has described about a Periscope in his novel named 'The Submarine Destroyer' in 1905 and also in other few fictional creations.

                                        _______________

Saturday, 1 July 2023

"BE SURE TO PUT YOUR FEET IN THE RIGHT PLACE , THEN STAND FIRM!"

We cannot comprehend who people were once, by looking at the best of their careers. The best living  example is the current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, who was once selling tea but recently seen by everyone making an unforgettable and impressive address in Joint session of US Congress, a week back! Coming to US presidents there is no single career path to the white house and American Presidentship although most of them were lawyers.

Americans seem to regard Abraham Lincoln not only as one of their great Presidents but also a great man! I am fully with them in this matter. Emancipation Proclamation he had issued on  1 January, 1863 against all odds stating that ' all persons held as slaves are and henceforth shall be free " itself is enough to make him great.

But how many of us know that Abraham Lincoln did varied jobs before he became a President? He  was a licensed bartender for some period- a part owner of a small store in Illinois named Berry & Lincoln! He was a wrestling champion as well! Most interesting of all is that he was the only President to receive a patent though he was a self made person in Education!!! Here I am to share three of his earlier jobs which are less well known- a bartender, a patent holder and a wrestler.


A bartender.....
Abraham Lincoln had served in the Black Hawk war, the war between United States and native Americans. It was after that he had met his friend William F berry. Abraham Lincoln joined him to open a  store in Illinois at New Salem where he lived from 1831 to 1837. Co owned with his friend Berry, it was  a general store which was licensed to sell alcohol in quantities greater than a pint for off premises consumption.

Berry was an alcoholic and used to sell goods while Lincoln was dealing with customers and reading. As they fell into debt in 1833 Lincoln sold his interest to his partner. Lincoln joined as a post master. Lincoln remained at New Salem and he studied law and earned a legal license.

A Patent holder....
Abraham Lincoln had a brief experience as a ferryman. His invention" adjustable buoyant air chambers" could be attached to the sides of the boat. They could be lowered into water and inflated to lift the boat over obstruction in the water. On May 22,1849 Lincoln got a patent which was numbered as 6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals as below.

A wrestler........
Wrestling was already an established sport among native Americans in the 15th and 16th centuries when the first Europeans began arriving in North American continent. Abraham Lincoln started wrestling as early as in 1830 at the age of 21.Strengthened by physical hard work in the fields Lincoln had an impressive physical specimen who was 6' 4" tall.



He had completed 300 wrestling matches for more than a decade and lost only once. He was wrestling champion of his county in Illinois. While working in the store he had a famous bout with Jack Armstrong also a wrestling county champ. I am sure that only few know the fact that Lincoln was enshrined in the national wrestling Hall of Fame along with few others who became US Presidents! See what all jobs Lincoln did before he became a great emancipator who said in his later life "Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm"!

                               ____________________


Thursday, 1 June 2023

INDIA'S LAKE OF SKELETONS

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

HOW, WHAT AND WHEN IT WAS DISCOVERED...

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

THIS APPLE IN HAND KEEPS ME AWAKE !

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

THE DAY RUSSIA COMPLETELY RAN OUT OF VODKA!

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

OSHIYA- THE PROFESSIONAL PUSHERS OF TOKYO METRO !

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

DOLMEN OF MARAYOOR!

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!

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Sunday, 1 January 2023

"I CAN" IS 100 TIMES MORE IMPORTANT THAN "I.Q"!

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"!

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