Thursday, 1 October 2020

ROAR LION ROAR! ......... a lion keeps roaring for the last 100 years!!

I have been an ardent fan of Hollywood movies from my teenage days,then through adolescence and youth. The curve started coming down thereafter,giving way to Indian - Hindi and Malayalam- last being my mother tongue movies. I still enjoy selective Hollywood movies.But what I have been enjoying without an iota of drop of interest to this moment is while watching the growl rather than roar of the lion of MGM-Metro Goldwyn Meyer- studios!It must be equally amusing to millions around the world all these years considering the fact that it is a century that MGM studios have retained  the famous logo while launching  their movies.  

Along with MGM,few other logos of old Hollywood studios like Paramount,Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox,Dream Works.... with their distinctive signature designs have attracted me.But none like that of MGM! At a time when the logo has already scored a century since it was created, it is more than interesting to know how this was achieved.It is not one lion as you think but seven!!

Popularity of the lion and his roar finally engulfed that of the creator!It was created for marketing purposes but emerged as the best among the iconic  logos!  The lion and his roar have become indispensable for MGM ..or perhaps the whole Hollywood!!


  


Merger of 3 companies-MGM....but why a lion?
In 1924 Morens Loew's Metro Pictures  decided to merge with two other companies of Hollywood.They are Samuel Goldwyn's studio  and Louis B Mayer Pictures.The company thus formed was named MGM- Metro Goldwyn Mayer.The newly formed company MGM obviously decided to continue to use the popular mascot of Goldwyn's studio- a roaring lion designed by Howard Dietz.

Dietz was a product of Columbia University in Journalism which falls in the IVY League,US.After his graduation he had joined an ad firm where he was assigned the job of designing a mascot for Goldwyn Studios. Dietz must have been very proud of his Alma Mater that he decided to honour the athletics team of the University nick named as 'The Lions' ,the mascot of which was a lion. Interestingly even now the mascot of the athletics team of the University continues to be a lion with a caption...roar lion roar! In 1917 he could make the exclusive design with a lion roaring which was trade marked.The motto chosen for the studio by Dietz, who later also became a popular lyricist was 'Ars Gratia Artis' which in Latin means 'art for art sake'! In 1919 Dietz joined Goldwyn studio and continued with them and later MGM till 1957 as Director of Advertising.

Slats,Jackie,Telly,Coffee,Tanner,George and Leo.....
They are the real names of the seven lions which were used in creation and improvisation  of the logo of the MGM albeit most of us think that it is just one named Leo .

In 1917 initially for the execution of the project Goldwyn studio also hired the services of the best known animal trainer named Volney Phizer while the lion was a Dublin born 'Slats'.The lion did not roar for sure since it was an era of silent movies but was asked to look around!Goldwyn studio successfully used this lion till 1928 in black and white movies.In between the bond between Slats and Volney Phizer became so close that when the lion died in 1936,he was buried with honour in the estate of the later.

Jackie was the second lion used for the purpose by MGM but first to roar in the screen which was trademarked including the sound.His trainer was Melvin Kootz. Jackie's head was filmed in a frame while the roar was recorded separately.MGM successfully used this roaring mascot from 1928 in more than 100 movies.When Jackie retired in 1931, he was sent to zoo at Philadelphia.



                                      Paw imprints of Leo, the lion.
Lions Telly and Coffee could stay only a very short period of 7 years between 1927-1934 with MGM.Tanner(1934-56) was the largest among all the lions while  sixth lion named George was with MGM only for a very short period 1956-58.Finally Leo was inducted in 1957 and his roar is what the world hears since then.On walk of fame in Hollywood, along with prominent actors, actresses and directors, Leo was given the honour of impressing his paw prints in wet cement in 2014!

Innovative marketing techniques ....
MGM has successfully experimented allowing several alterations to the studio logo in many contexts. Some of the Tom and Jerry cartoons  released through MGM from 1963-67, in place of the lion, MGM introduced Tom meowing in the style of  the lion to the amusement of the viewers. When MGM did a horror movie in 1967, the lion was animated with blood dripping from the mouth! MGM allowed a crocodile in place of the lion in an animal based movie in 2002-The crocodile hunter-collision course!  
    .

Once the logo of the lion clicked, MGM has perfectly marketed the logo in various other fields than movies. Leo the lion stands out on the front in their luxury resorts at Las Vegas where  we had a chance to stay for few days. Leo the lion also is statued outside Culver Hotel, California.

Courtesy photos:Goggle

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

LUT..LOOT..CLIVE!....................THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY YOU DON'T KNOW!

We all know that the English word 'LOOT' means plunder or rob.But what we don't know is that this word came into English from the Indian language Hindi 'LUT' which means the same.It was the British East India company that facilitated such an introduction of the new word in English vocabulary  in the 17th century.And understandably so!The British East India company was doing exactly that in India in short-looting the Indian people and resources!!

In fact it was not British Govt that seized and colonized India initially but a private company formed in 1600 run by a handful-less than just six permanent staff for the first 20 years and 35 for first hundred years- from a small office building in London.How did that happen?How did a company formed to trade in spices,silk,salt,pepper and the like using few rented ships have security forces double the size of British army? How did a company which made money smuggling opium to China  bring down magnificent empires, some even greater than British Kingdom which existed in India those days?

I have had the opportunity to mix and interact closely with hundreds of British nationals and British firms mostly on business during my corporate career in Doha.I have to admit that most of them were good, if not better in business deals comparing to international standards.But why that trait didn't show up in business deals of  erstwhile British East India Company with Indians years back? 

If a single person and single event can be attributed to be responsible for  establishment and success of British East India Company, it is Robert Clive and Battle of Plassey respectively.And how... by treachery.And I would love to share those facts lying in the dustbins of history with my readers which are not much known .....




Robert Clive...the clever sociopath....the meteoric rise of his career!
British historians confirms that Clive was a sociopath. One who is having social personality disorder by medical terms but in simple words a hard core manipulator, a thief.I don't know whether the British are using such decent terminology to white wash those huge treacherous activities he committed or not, but it is a fact that the British got control of India and British Govt ultimately  prospered due to this evil man. 
 
As a student, Clive was a despair to his teachers, it is recorded.He moved from from one school to other for the same reason until at a tender age of 18 he was sent to join in the civil service of British East India company by his family!It was in a junior clerical position as a Writer, at Madras in 1743.He was not a racist.It is recorded in history that he used to enjoy,betel chewing and supari, a practice of native Indians and visited brothels of native girls like most of the junior staff of the company!!To his credit, he also started spending hours in the library of the Governor General and educate himself.In spite of being selfish and unscrupulous, he was credited with good intelligence, fearlessness and excellent managerial traits- ability to get things done and inspire others!!!

Right from the position of a clerk, Robert Clive became Governor of Bengal, Commander-In Chief, and Viceroy in the hierarchy of British East India company in 1757, within a short span of 14 years, nothing short a meteoric rise from the position of a Writer, who was earning just 5 pounds per annum.

It has to be particularly mentioned that Bengal was richer than Britain itself in that time!I still remember my first visit to have a view of Buckingham Palace, London years back.I was terribly disappointed to be honest, because India has innumerable palaces all over the country...many folds grandeur than that.


Clive becomes the richest person in Europe!
Once he was in command in India,he used to regularly ship to Britain the bribes in kind, artifacts he had looted as spoils of wars he fought and won by treachery and betrayal !Along with those, he used to amass wealth in gold, money by huge bribes,gems to become  as one of the richest in the whole Europe by the time he returned to Britain for good in 1767!!

British Govt showers accolades to Clive....
Regardless of the crooked ways, having no parallel in history which  Robert Clive made it possible, British Govt recognized the contributions to make the empire conquer India!

He was made Lord Robert Clive, the Baron of Plassey. A drop out of school, Clive was awarded honorary degree as Doctor of Law- DCL- from none other than Oxford University! He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society-FRS- which is 'dedicated for promoting excellence in Science for the benefit of humanity' to this day!!!! And Mayor of Shrewberry, where a statue of his still stands!!Clive was knighted and made an MP till his death!!There could be more honours...

But.... the tragic end!
Robert Clive was hoping for a peaceful retired life basking in all the glory and wealth he had looted.But destiny had something else in store for him.

Many of British aristocracy never accepted him as equal in spite of his position as Baron, may be because of jealousy that this man became much richer than them.In 1769 and 1773 there was great famine in Bengal during which one third of the population perished.Few in the British parliament criticized that the disastrous ill effects of the famine was due to policies of the British Govt in Bengal for which Clive was directly responsible.The vote which followed in parliament surprisingly  fully exonerated Robert Clive and his actions!But Clive had bouts of depression in the following years.He had become addicted to opium.

On 22 November 1774, Clive committed suicide.British Govt declared about his death without conducting an inquest but not mentioning that it was a suicide !!He died at the age of 49 without a chance to live in a palace he had built with some of the  loot from India!!




Tail piece- British Commonwealth to Commonwealth of Nations
British Common wealth of Nations , created in 1926 is an association of  independent nations which were British colonies except one which is Britain! India joined in 1947.Name 'British commonwealth' was officially adapted to describe such a community and not because Britain took all the wealth from those colonies, though a fact!

In 1949 India decided to be a sovereign republic from following year.By existing laws India should have discontinued being a member.Heads of other member countries and King of England himself wanted India to remain in the group.May be they did not want to loose India which was jewel among the colonies in the crown.In the same year  new rules were set to allow India to continue dropping the tag 'British' from British Commonwealth to simple -Commonwealth of Nations.But India was outwitted, in my opinion, to agree that India , along with other member countries will continue to accept British crown as 'symbolic' Head of the association!!What for I don't know!

Among all the colonists of the modern world-Spanish,Portuguese, Dutch,British,French,Japanese..I am of the opinion that the British are the cleverest.In spite of the fact that they could steal all the wealth of India for 200 years , they could still smile and shake hands with Indians when left for good.And still remain as 'symbolic' boss even after 73 years of independence!!That's a political shrewdness I have to admit!!


Saturday, 1 August 2020

BETTER LATTE THAN NEVER!

Generally Indians love drinking tea.That's one of the few things we could teach the British during the colonial days apart from liking a curry!! There are quite a lot of coffee lovers as well in India especially in south.I am one of those coffeephiles- liking the best coffee but not a coffeeholic. From the  days I remember, coffee in the morning time while tea in the afternoon  had been the practice in my home.My mother had specific brand too - 'Lalitha coffee' which I recap now -  freshly ground Robusta coffee from Coorg hills!These days too when I have a cup of coffee-Arabica than Robusta- along with breakfast each morning at nine, I enjoy it more as it pumps up my cortisol levels when it is needed.And in this matter I don't restrict to Indian brands only.

Recently I had a chance to enjoy  weasel coffee from Vietnam which is similar to Kopi Luwak of Indonesia.Both Cevet coffees.Cevets are fed with selective berries of coffee,the berries are allowed to be fermented along with gastric juices of intestines of the animals.The defecated fecal is collected,cleaned and processed to make it as most expensive coffee in the world! 

Along with the above occasion and a fact that one of my niece has started working in an Australian domestic airport as a Barista also encouraged me to understand more about the world of Coffee.After crude oil, the second most commodity which is traded in international market is coffee!!Apart from cevets I understand that elephants are also used for natural fermentation of coffee berries to make them most expensive coffee!It is called Black Ivory coffee originated in Thailand though I haven't tasted it yet.Many may not be aware that coffee was the driving force to invent the first webcam of the modern world in 1991!


It was coffee which inspired few for inventing the first webcam...
The computer lab of University of Cambridge was named Trojan room in 1991.It had 15 or more researchers then but only one coffee making machine, which was placed at the end of the corridor outside the Trojan room.Many times the researchers- mostly coffee lovers- used to get annoyed to see the empty pot of the coffee machine after walking to the point where it was placed.

Few of the bright lads there wanted to avoid such scenario .A camera was set up focusing the pot and transmitting the live picture to the desktop computers of all in the Trojan room showing the level of coffee!And interestingly it was pre internet days.This was how the first webcam was invented which was connected to world wide web once it was available. The coffee machine was a German one -Kupps which I understand is displayed now in the German Museum of Technology,Berlin!

Kopi Luwak..world's most expensive coffee..
Kopi is Indonesian word for coffee and Luwak for cevet cat which is not a cat but resembles more of a mongoose.Weasel coffee in Vietnam and Coffee Alamid in Philippines are similar products of those countries.

Selective cherries are made to be eaten by cevets. The cherries are thus fermented-passing through enzymes- while passing through the intestines of the cevets!The defecated fecal matter along with the fermented cherries are collected, cleaned and further processed.


Indonesia is one of the best suited places for growing coffee climatically and geographically since the seeds were introduced there by the Dutch colonists in the 19th century.But it was the natives who noticed that the coffee beans eaten and came out of luwaks made the taste even better.Vietnam and certain areas of Philippines also had similar stories.Now an original cup of Luwak coffee costs around$ 35-100 a cup, depending on where you are!


From Ethiopia to Yemen and rest of the world..
Nobody knows for sure how coffee was introduced to the world.It is believed that  Ethiopia is the place of origin where the local shepherds noticed that their goats got excited after eating beans of certain plants! From Ethiopia the beans were introduced in Yemen in 15th century  where it clicked.Coffee traveled all over Arab land which is even now named as 'Qahwah'.Qahwah became 'Kahve' in Turkish and  to 'Koffie' in Dutch, 'Caffe' in Itay and finally 'Coffee' in English.It was in South  that coffee was introduced in 1670 in India from Yemen.We call coffee as 'Kapi' to this day.

It is equally interesting to know that coffee was banned at least three times in the world but thankfully those bans were lifted soon after.Around 1511,coffee was banned in Saudi Arabia since some of the Muslim leaders thought it had unusual stimulating effects.But for Pope Clement VII in the 16th century,coffee would have been banned among Catholics.Some of them thought coffee is 'devil's beverage' and took up the matter with Pope who didn't accept the claim.King Charles II banned coffee shops in 1675 since he thought people gathered there to conspire against him!

It is strange but true that French philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau were ardent coffee lovers while the great Beethoven used to have always coffee with exactly 60 beans!!In 1735 the great musician J S Bach had made a song dedicated to coffee titled 'Coffee Cantata'!

Coffee is traded more than gold!
'Coffee..Better latte than never' is a proverb anonymously related to coffee.I have borrowed it because of the humor sense in it and credit goes to who ever had coined it.

ICO- International Coffee Organisation having 51 members as of now is head quartered in London.Set up in 1963 ICO administers International Coffee Agreement  negotiated under United Nations among the member countries.

As a commodity, coffee is traded globally to the tune of more than $ 100 billion a year next to crude oil,above natural gas and even gold!Like many commodities in such cases, though coffee is grown mostly in poor and developing countries, its pricing and futures are decided in the stock exchange floors and board rooms of the wealthiest nations!It remains a fact that while we enjoy the drink world wide, those coffee farmers mostly remain more or less poor!!

While Brazil,Columbia and Vietnam remain the first three major coffee exporting countries, Europe, US and Japan consumes 65% of world's  coffee!!Finland and Sweden tops as countries in consumption of coffee!

When you visit a Starbucks or Lavazza coffee house or watch a barista doing his or her expertise next time anywhere or when you have a cup of coffee at the leisure of your home, remember that coffee is more than a drink, a culture!

 Photos :courtesy google

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

200,000! NAMASTHE!!




200,000!That's the total number of readers who have visited my blog MUSINGS FROM DOHA as on date.It is amazing and equally encouraging to note that the readership has spread to 103 countries in  all the continents!Most of such countries are well known but quite a few are not that known- no offence meant to them- like Bukino 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. Honestly, than the quality of my articles,excellent technology provided by google and others could be the reason for such a reach everywhere!110 articles on various topics are published so far, while 840 valuable comments are received from the readers world wide- as below- so far!I thank each one of you for your continued support.

                            my blog readers worldwide- darker the more

Please permit me to note down the names of the first 10 countries from where most of the readers of this blog are.

1.USA
2.India
3.Ukraine
4.Qatar
5.China
6.Hong Kong
7.France
8.Russia
9.Israel
10.Japan

The following are the 5 most popular articles read-as on date- along with the easy links for access.

1.63,Ravipuram Revisited.

2.What And how to negotiate business deals.

3.Land of Land Cruisers.

4.Adios......Chatten!

5.Is it Air India company or East India company?

Google Analytics also provides me the feed back that out of my readers, 46% are females and 54% males of all ages from 18 - 65+! The age group can be further fine tuned as: 
18-24 =27.5%
25-44 =49%
45-64 =18%
and my own age group 65+ is 5.5%.

I once again thank you for your time and interest shown in my writings.

Namasthe!Folded hands as above, is an expression of traditional greetings of India used by people for the last thousands of years, let me explain here for those who are not aware of that.It means that-I BOW TO YOU!!I don't find any other word or expression to what I think of you now. NAMASTHE!!

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

FIVE MINUTES BEFORE CLOSING TIME! .......................................BEYOND LUTYEN'S BAKERLOO AND CHAUSATH YOGINI!

The authorities in India are envisaging to have a new parliament building by 2022 at Delhi, on completion of 75 years of independence.The latest design which is in the last stages of finalization includes a new triangular parliament building along with redeveloping the three kilometers long central vista.The current 100 years old unique circular parliament building will be retained as a museum.

It was King George V in 1911 who decided to shift the capital of colonial India-seat of Government- from Calcutta to Delhi.It was also decided to go for new Government buildings as appropriate to show case- for  Indian natives than others- the might of colonial India, the erstwhile  jewel of the British crown!They were eager to impress the Indian public with British superiority in science, art and civilization!Edwin Lutyens emerged as the chief architect of the project who picked up Herbert Baker, another professional architect and friend of his to complete the challenging task. That was in 1912.But strangely enough much before Lord Erwin,Viceroy opened the complex with much fanfare in 1927, the relationship between the two great architects had turned sour!!They were not even on talking terms till their deaths!!

However the giant, ambitious project was executed as per the detailed master plan which made Delhi proud of few magnificent buildings with European classical architecture, designed to outclass existing Hindu and Mughal structures but few years later came the controversy linked with Chausath Yogini, which still lingers with the parliament building.....that it is inspired from an Indian temple architecture!!It would be interesting to scroll down those anecdotes once again which are not known to most when an independent India celebrates her diamond jubilee of freedom.......  



                           Models of parliament buildings- old and new

The background of selection of design team
Immediately after the decision was made to have a new capital at Delhi, a  town planning committee was formed to finalize details on the new city to be emerged.It comprised of Edwin Lutyens as Chief architect,John A Broadie  as Chief Engineer and GSC Swinton, an expert on municipal issues as chairman- limited to three members. This committee was approved by the King of England in 1912 with whom the trio had a meeting before proceeding to India. Shajahanabad, a 17th century Mughal city near Delhi was the site for  initial consideration which was later replaced  to Raisina Hill, a rocky outcrop those days.

It was agreed to pay Lutyens, 5% of the total cost of the mammoth project, which ultimately costed Rupees 13 crores, hundred years back.It was Lutyens who hired the services of Herbert Baker, a professional senior friend of his into the picture.It is understood that the town planning committee had considered Baker  before Lutyens as chief but for some unknown reason-almost a mystery- favored Lutyens as chief architect under  a condition to hire Baker's services by Lutyens so as to bring rich professional exposures of Baker also into the drawing board.

On the drawing board.....
It was agreed between the two architects that Lutyens will design Government House- which later became Viceroy's residence and then Rashtrapti Bhavan(President's palace) as known today and overall layout of the city.Baker will design the twin secretariats- South and North blocks- and Council House   ( parliament building).

Both architects were known to have imperialistic outlook- tastes for European design styles over Indian architecture.I don't know how many Indians know the fact that particularly Lutyens looked down on anything Indian- people,culture or architecture.On persuasion of the Viceroy then Lord Hardinge -more could be a political tact than love for India- the architects finally agreed to add few Indian motifs to the buildings designed exclusively otherwise on western classical architecture.Red stone which was Indian, was decided to be used. Indian motifs were limited to perforated screens,eaves, canopies and the like.Elephant heads were placed on pillars.Even some of the motifs of Buddhist pagodas were used.

Lutyens' Bakerloo..
As the designs progressed, the rift in ideas of both architects started surfacing.Baker was known to have in his mind initially a design of equilateral triangle in plan for parliament building.But Lutyens made him change to circular as it looked now.It is interesting to note that the new proposed parliament building is in triangular in shape!!


Lutyens wanted his Government House to be located at the highest point which was atop Raisina Hill so that it would dominate over other buildings where as Baker wanted his Secretariat buildings instead.Baker convinced Lutyens once and got his agreement but later Lutyens regretted his decision and wanted Baker to revoke it.But it never materialized. 

Thus as the project progressed the major difference of opinion between them continued to reflect on the gradient of the main vista.As one looks at the Raisina Hill buildings from India Gate, only the dome of Rashtrapati Bhavan- not the main building- is seen as in the photo up.Lutyens wanted to avoid such a scenario at any costs while Baker insisted on it in spite Lutyens approached the King himself!It ended up in a professional ego clash which affected their personal relations-Lutyens' Bakerloo as he noted down later!

Finally the finished city was completed in 1931.The British could use the new facilities only 16 years out of 200 years of their rule  as India got the freedom in 1947.Later Nikolaus Pevner, the world famous British architectural historian aptly remarked about it as "Five minutes before closing time!"

Chausath Yogini temple....
Did the temple near Gwalior in the state of Madhya Pradesh(MP) inspire the architecture of parliament building by Lutyens and Baker?This temple built in 1055 AD devoted to Lord Shiva by a local dynasty stands loud even today atop a small hill. Chausath means 64 and the outer circular wall has 64 small chambers where as the parliament building has 144 pillars.As it is strikingly similar in looks,many Indians logically think that the temple might have given a spark to the British architects.


I have gone through the historical documents on this issue and found that neither Lutyens or Baker had ever noted down that this temple had inspired them.At the same time European architecture - something Lutyens and Baker had specialized in- never boasted of a circular building of repute other than Colosseum at Rome which was built in  80 AD.

Tail Piece...Edwin Lutyens the racist!Emily Lutyens the India lover!!
A bust of Lutyens was erected  inside the Viceroy's residence by Lord Mountbatten which is kept as it is in Rashtrapati Bhavan to this day.No doubt Lutyens gave India an excellent world class building but at the same time he was a known racist,I repeat,something Indians may not be aware of.An incorrigible India hater but a gifted architect.I don't know whether it is logical to keep a bust of Lutyens there any more.That is one way of looking at it. A good percentage of Indians themselves were racists among our own society hundred years back!That is another perspective.I would have removed his bust there or anywhere in India for that matter given an opportunity but at the same time kept his name written boldly on a plaque!!You may conclude with your own choice!!

In this context, I think I cant but write about Emily Lutyens, wife of Edwin Lutyens. Emily happens to be daughter of  Robert B lytton, Viceroy Of India 1876-80.While Edwin Lutyens hated anything Indian,strangely enough Emily loved India, Indian culture and mixed with Indians!She was an admirer of J Krishnamurthy,the famous Indian philosopher.She was a friend of Annie Besant and joined her Theosophical Society in 1910.From the fact that Emily became a strict vegetarian shows how much India had influenced her!In 1916 Emily was boldly conducting meetings in her London drawing room, favoring Home Rule Movement of India 1916-18 which set the stage of Independence movement under Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak , much ahead of Gandhi who came to  the scene much later.

It is a non pardonable, paradoxical irony that Indians have forgotten Emily Lutyens completely, while the bust of Edwin Lutyens is kept in the President's Palace!!



Photos:courtesy HCP Designs/google







Monday, 1 June 2020

COVID MUSINGS... WATER FREEZES AT O DEGREE AND BOILS AT IOO !

One thing which became very popular among us since the attack of Covid 19 is non contact Infrared thermometer to record body temperature.But why it is calibrated both in centigrade and Fahrenheit?  Recently as I searched more stuff on the subject, I have learnt that US is the only country in the world which doesn't use the metric system.Not left out single,  two more countries -Myanmar(old Burma) and Liberia-are there with US,but they too are on the way to adapt metric system....

The Americans still  love to use the foot, yard and miles mostly than the meter(metre).Weather forecasts there at times is equally confusing.If the weatherman  states that it is 32 degree Fahrenheit outside, it means it is freezing temperature to turn water to ice and not reasonably warm at 32 degree Celsius, as I have learnt!!When it comes to volumes of liquid, Americans bemuse  me with their ounces,cups, pints, quarts and gallons!!

Liberty,Equality and Fraternity is the motto which came into existence at the time of French revolution.The monarchy, nobles and the church who were the rulers of poor people were thrown out of power for the first time in the history of the modern world.The event was an epoch making one which influenced not only France but the rest of the world, then and thereafter.We all know that.But what most of us don't know is the fact that French revolution also gave birth to something we all use everywhere all the time.The meter.Yes, the unit of measurement!How the French derived one unit of meter(metre) is more interesting.One meter is one ten millionth of the distance measured scientifically between north pole and the equator through Paris!!

Welcome to fascinating history of Metric system...



Bi product of French Revolution...
The Metric system is simple, yet efficient to use as we all know.....except the Americans.All metric units were derived from the meter(metre), based on a Greek word Metron which means 'measure'.The French derived one unit of meter(metre) as one ten millionth of the distance measured scientifically between north pole and the equator through Paris observatory!Based on multiples of ten, metric system works...10 millimeters in a centimeter,100 centimeters in a meter and 1000 meters in a kilometer.The gram is used for weight (one cubic centimeter of water at its maximum density) and the litre for capacity is 1/1000 of a cubic meter

The French revolutionaries not only wanted to change the social order but also old traditions and habits wherever possible.They wanted to get rid of thousands of traditional units of measurements, conflicting to each other, used thus far in France and standardize them.The metric system  introduced in 1795 is thus a direct bi product of the French revolution but scientifically evolved.

In 1875 all the major world powers including US signed the Treaty of Metric which gave the Metric system its first official international recognition of Measurements. BIPM-Bureau of weights and Measurements- was created.Despite this the British authorities maintained their traditional English units which was known as Imperial system till 1957,while the US never introduced in their system.



In US....
When the British immigrants settled in US for the first time, they had brought the Imperial system of weights and measures with them.When the Metric system was introduced in France in 1795,US did not show any interest to introduce the system.However in 1866 US made the use of metric system in contract dealings and court proceedings lawful but not mandatory.

After WW 2 due to more and more globalization, US found it difficult to trade with other countries in this respect as all other countries were using metric system.In order to cope up with the situation US companies had to make twin labels while thousands of machines were re-purposed in different factories.This was a costly affair but US did not see any necessity to change to Metric system!

In 1971 US National Bureau of Standards issued a report recommending US to completely switch to metric system in 10 years.But such a proposal was made voluntary.So also in 1975 the Ford Administration passed a Metric Conversion Act in 1975 which was never properly implemented.As of now what I understand is  that US teaches both systems in schools but falls short of going exclusively metric in the country for their own reasons.Thankfully the NASA and US scientists use the Metric system exclusively.

photos/illustrations:courtesy google

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Musings from Doha: COVID MUSINGS...TOILET PAPER IS NOT ALWAYS WHITE!

Musings from Doha: COVID MUSINGS...TOILET PAPER IS NOT ALWAYS WHITE!: As the Corona virus attacked mercilessly, acute shortage of one product reported in US and elsewhere was that of toilet paper.Stores acros...

Friday, 1 May 2020

COVID MUSINGS...TOILET PAPER IS NOT ALWAYS WHITE!

As the Corona virus attacked mercilessly, acute shortage of one product reported in US and elsewhere was that of toilet paper.Stores across the country   were  sold out of toilet rolls within hours!! Some of the stores had to hire security guards to patrol customers.Photos and videos of empty shelves of stores in US in that respect were going on rounds on social media around the world!!It might have got more circulation  to  satisfy sadistic egos of many around the world to see the pitiable and helpless plight of a country on its knees which  always boasts of aplenty in everything.Those rolls with faces of Trump and Obama stamped on them, which I myself had noticed on the shelves a year back on my last visit to US- though I was not amused  - also must have vanished!

In a bid to face the shortage of toilet rolls-I don't know about US- but an Australian newspaper printed an eight page special lift out inside completed with handy cut lines for the use of  the reader as toilet paper!The marketing techniques along with the good intentions of the newspaper has to be appreciated.

Than finding the how and why of this shortage-could be panic buying, I was thinking tangentially.... of options left for an American in this matter.Then  I could find out that it is for the last two-three generations only that the Americans are using toilet rolls-since 1871 to be exact.Until then they were using hay, sticks,stones,wool etc but hardly water !!It is not my business to comment on what Americans want  to do but now toilet paper is big business in US.Musings on something being used everyday there but seldom dare to speak of......




Which is superior?
I used to get mildly embarrassed when I see  toilet rolls in the hotels in US with no other options.While in Europe I don't have that much problem since in many countries either bidet or water sprays are also provided.Being an Indian I am used to rinse with water,the way we have been serving the purpose for the last so many centuries like anyone from Middle East,South Asia, Far East or many other places.... albeit now making use of many new gadgets but all with rinse of water!Many of the Americans and westerners think theirs is the superior way while  Asians are using water only because they can't afford 'luxury' of paper is far from true!In fact it is the other way.Water is the cleanest option as far as I am concerned. If we all use water to clean our face,our teeth and body, why  should we settle the dirtiest part of the body with paper?But as long as Americans and others are happy with their own ways, I don't have any problem either!!

How toilet paper was invented?
It is recorded that China had invented the toilet paper as back as 6th century but hardly practiced.First commercial invention of toilet paper was in US done by JC Gayetty of New York. He commercially produced the toilet paper in 1857 with the purpose as medical tissue for hemorrhoids.He was so confident of the acceptance of the new product that each paper was water marked 'JC GAYETTY NY' which was advertised as 'the greatest necessity of the age'.But it was Seth Wheeler of Albany, US who officially patented perforated toilet paper rolls in 1891.Soon the Americans changed from the 'stone' age to 'new age of necessity' and never looked back.As the Americans loved it as a product with which  they can't live without, many Europeans followed suit but Asians shunned it at large.
      

A National Toilet Paper Day?
Yes, US has a national toilet paper day which falls on 26 August every year!They want to commemorate the day a toilet roll was sold in 1871 which changed their life style thereafter.US has again the distinction of the only single country to have such a national day! It seems Americans are very sensitive to toilet paper.In 1973 there was a shortage in the whole country after one of the jokes of comedian Johnny Carson was  taken seriously by the people.Within hours the shelves of supermarkets were sold out of toilet rolls and it took weeks to normalize the situation!!

An American uses 100 rolls in a year while US spends more than six billion dollars a year on toilet tissues. That's big business by any standards!!Americans  now love the toilet rolls in white color though colored rolls to match the bathroom decor were available until few years back.Other than colors, toilet rolls comes in various textures,scents,patterns and textures.


                                         WEDDING GOWN USING TOILET PAPER


During Desert Storm days, US army is reported to have used coloured toilet paper to camouflage the tanks!!In US, at least in New York, they run even competitions using toilet paper for wedding dress offering big prizes! All sponsored by- you guessed well- manufacturers of toilet rolls!!Toilet paper is big business in US!!




Toilegami....art of folding the toilet paper!
If one is yet to come across a word Toilegami, it is the art of folding toilet paper!  I have observed in a number of hotels world wide esp the edge of the  toilet roll folded like a triangle or V shaped.The hotels gives the message that the cleaning staff was already there after the last guest has left the room.Now that this art has moved to so many shapes from heart to butterfly, there are some Japanese automated machines helping in folding out such images!
Toilet roll is big business in US!!





Tailpiece...
It was in Tokyo that I came across the 'washlet' for the first time.I have seen the same in South Korea as well. Washlet is a most modern toilet with an auto rinse of water equipped with bidet and air blower to dry! It has a small control  panel on the side which takes commands like pressure of water, speed of blower, deodorizer etc. This also reminds me the fact that unless one is computer savvy he or she cannot use such a toilet!


Photos:courtesy google images.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

COVID MUSINGS......MOUNT EVEREST STANDS HIGHEST,MAJESTIC AND ENIGMATIC....

As the world today remains stunned and frozen over the unprecedented,unexampled,bizarre... attack of Corona virus I was in doubt whether I should skip publishing an article on first day of this month  which has been the practice for the last eight years but decided against it.I am also intentionally skipping any topic related to this virus, the net result of which can be summed up in just three words-we are humbled!Instead I am coming out with a success story of an Indian which is not known to most of us....a name which has to be sung to the world!

Mount Everest stands majestic at 8848 meters.All of us know that the mount got the name after George Everest who was the Surveyor General of colonial British India.Mount Everest was so discovered to be the highest not by George Everest but exclusively by an Indian mathematician and surveyor named Radhanath Sikdar. Kanchenjunga of the same Himalayas range was considered to be the highest peak till then.That was in 1852.

The finding of Sikdar is a fact well chronicled by the British but did not give much publicity for obvious reasons.Read about how the Great Trigonometrical Survey(GTS) was conducted by the British along the length and breadth of India between 1802 and 1871 .And how Sagarmatha (Napalese) Chomolungma(Tibetean) and  Zhumulangma(Chinese) which were the local names of the mount, while the British called it Peak XV,   was named to be Mount Everest....


Professional surveys...professional looting....
By 1799 with the defeat and death of Tippu Sultan,The East India Company knew that they were going to stay and rule India for more centuries, if not for ever.They devised better and scientific methods for collection of revenue, military dominion and systematic loot of the resources of the country. That is how they decided to go for surveys and cartography.They decided to venture into various surveys-Topographical,Geological,Trigonometrical,Marine and Revenue-of the lands they ruled in India.

I think it would be appropriate if I cite an example of professional looting of Indian resources by the British from my own experience.I was a Gazetted engineer in Govt service of Kerala -Public works Department while first posting was at Nilambur in 1975, a small town on the fringes of natural forest full of teak. I was surprised myself seeing good roads and excellent steel lattice girder bridges in the middle of the forests, while Nilambur was well connected by a broad gauge railway in early nineteens.Later only I came to know that the British colonists were regularly stealing the teak wood in bulk and taken to London and other ports as logs!This they had done for many decades.But for the various surveys conducted  which were executed in a professional way, all these loots would not have been possible.

Great Trigonometrical Survey(GTS)
Looking back now, GTS no doubt was a scientific and technical feat which the British could accomplish in India.It would be not fair if I hold the fact that successive Governments of India since independence have benefited from all these surveys conducted by the British, GTS being the most difficult to accomplish for any country, esp as large and complex as India!Many perished during that time due to Malaria and Tigers!


Conceived and led by Col. William Lambton who later became first Surveyor General of India, the East India Company had set only a target of 5 years for completion of this mammoth project which was commenced  at Chennai(Madras) in 1802.Actually it took another 70 years, well past the company rule itself in India which was taken over by British Govt in 1857. Lambton died due to Tuberculosis in 1822 while in active service. His position was taken over by George Everest who had joined the team of Lambton few years earlier.

George Everest and his team could successfully measure the meridian arc from Kanyakumari (Cape Camorin),South India to Dehradun in the north,a distance of 2400 kms!It was during the time of George Everest as Surveyor General that Radhanath Sikdhar joined the team.When Everest retired from service it was Col.Andrew Scott Waugh who succeeded him during the tenure of which Mount Everest was discovered to be the highest on this earth.

"Sir,I have discovered the highest mountain in the world"....Role of Radhanath Sikdar...


During the tenure of George Everest as Surveyor General of India, he was looking for someone who was proficient in Spherical Trigonometry capable to do complex computations of the data collected. Sikdar was a student of 19 at Presidency college(Hindu college),Kolkatta  when he was highly recommended by his  British Maths professor.He joined the great Trigonometrical team in 1831.After 20 years of his service while Col Waugh was the Surveyor General, he  started measuring snow capped mountains near Darjeeling in the capacity as chief computer.In 1852 after compiling the data from six different observations,Sikdar came to the conclusion that Peak XV is the highest in the world and not Kanchenjunga as believed.It has to be noted that Sikdar measured the height of the mount without climbing on it.He did  these surveys  in fact about 100 kms away! He was 39 then.

After reporting the same to Col Waugh about the finding, he did not disclose it to public.It took another 4 years for Col.Waugh to convince himself about the finding and announce it to the world.It was Col. Waugh who named the peak as Everest in honour of George Everest, his earlier boss but who had done a lot for the successful Great Trigonometrical Survey of India.

Both Everest and Col.Waugh used to appreciate the high quality of works carried out by Sikdar.'Mathematician of rare genius' was opinion of George Everest about him but in spite of all this consideration, his bosses did not give the position he really deserved.  India released a postal stamp in honour of Sikdar in 2004.Than keeping his name among the list of those Indians who are unsung and forgotten for the great works done in the past, I am of the opinion that his name is to be sung to the world!! Than blaming the good old colonial masters even now, it is the duty of each Indian to work in this direction.

courtesy photos:google images.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

JACQUES JAUJARD........THE NAME WORLD SHOULD NOT HAVE FORGOTTEN!

I distinctively remember having seen an English movie titled 'The Train' during early seventies at Kochi. It was a fantastic one which I keep close to heart even after almost 50 years because of a nice theme and acting talents of Burt Lancaster.The film is made around French resistance fighters trying to stop the Nazis taking a train load of paintings and art treasures to Germany.It was a box office hit.But I never gave a serious thought to such thefts of art works albeit a number of films with similar stories I have seen .....

When I could visit the Louvre at Paris many years later,I was impressed by the museum, one of the best of its kind in the world. But then also for some reason it didn't register in my mind that those valuable art treasures exhibited were kept  hidden from plundering of Nazis only because of the forethought and determination of one man....

Jacques Jaujard....It is most likely that you haven't heard this name before.Neither did I until recently.To introduce him in one sentence -he is the man who successfully masterminded and executed safe evacuation of thousands of art objects from the Louvre and other parts of France -Mona Lisa included-just 10 days before second world war broke out!What he and his aides did was an unprecedented adventure of extreme secrecy which will outshine any thriller story.

Jacques Jaujard...the man who saved the Mona Lisa and the Louvre!...the name world should not have forgotten!!



The Louvre....mostly plundered or loot but exhibited majestically!                                                                                 
The Louvre stands majestic at Paris.With the iconic glass pyramid-designed by American Chinese architect Leoh Ming Pei- at the entrance,who also designed Islamic Museum at Doha later,the museum is home to more than 35000 most famous art objects of the world.From 1973 to this day millions of visitors-six million people each year as of now- have been visiting the place where Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo and Grand Sphinx of Tans are exhibited among thousands of others.I think more than by donations or buy outs, most of these art objects are collected by plundering and loot, right from days of Napoleon's army!Being an Indian I am not surprised.Many most valuable art objects exhibited in British museums are thus taken from India,the most adorable adornment on British Royal crown- Kohinoor jewel included!!

France falls to Nazis....
Paris fell to Nazis in 1940.One of the earliest decisions Adolf Hitler took soon after was to dispatch his man in charge of art objects,Count Franz Wolff Metternich to The Louvre to repossess invaluable collections of the museum.As he entered the museum he could see only empty walls and halls, all the art objects-paintings, sculptures gone...Contrary to expectations-Jaujard had noted in his diary-Count Franz looked relieved than angry or perplexed to see that the art objects had been taken care of not to fall into the hands of Nazis.Count Franz, a German aristocrat,happened to be a true art lover above  his love for Nazism!


Fuhrer museum...uncompleted dream of Hitler!
Hitler had plans to build a massive and the biggest museum to be named as Fuhrer museum at Linz,Austria where he was born.He sincerely believed that the finest art belonged to Germany which were looted by Napoleon and during the first world war.He had made the blue prints ready by leading architects.One of the objects of the occupations of German forces was the collection of world renowned art objects.

Empty galleries!!

How Jaujard did it....
As second world war was getting imminent, Jaujard was more concerned about the safety of the art objects of France including those at The Louvre.At that time he was Director of French National Museums who silently but meticulously was planning a mass evacuation of those art objects in case France falls to Nazis. Interestingly nobody asked him to do that.And after all he was just an Govt employee.But in spite of these shortcomings he decided to put his secret plans to action with the help of hundreds of his loyal employees of the museum.

Jaujard categorized the art objects in order of importance. Yellow, green and red labels were allocated to them- yellow for major works,green for very valuable art pieces and red for world treasures.Mona Lisa was decided to be marked with three red circles!! He closed the museum for three days officially 'for repairs'.That was on 25 Aug 1939.Three days and nights Jaujard and his team masterfully packed up thousands of pieces of art.He had arranged a convoy of trucks, cars even ambulances to whisk these art objects to safe homes, mostly chateaux which were located in the French countryside which would escape damage of bombing.Though some of those locations where these art objects were hidden were revealed after the war,Jacques Jaujard kept the whole information to himself until his death!! 

Mona Lisa....
It was recorded that Learnado Da Vinci's Mono Lisa, was moved five times during the war time till it was returned back. Jaujard didn't want to take any chances.After the war, a new Louvre was opened to public with all of the museum's major masterpieces returned to safety. Miraculously not even one piece of art was damaged during the whole operation.


Jacques Jaujard was awarded with accolades by the French Govt.Main entrance of the Ecole du Louvre, an institution of higher learning in archaeology, art history, was named after him.He died of an unexpected heart attack in 1967.He had written a book of his philosophy titled 'Feuilles' which was posthumously published in 1974.

And Rose Valland.....
When I write about Jaujard, I cant but mention of Rose Valland as well.Jeu de Paume is a museum in Paris.There the Nazis stored the stolen art objects from private collections esp from Jews or Jewish collectors during the occupation period. In fact it was a transit point to send the art objects to Germany.It so happened that Rose Valland was the curator of the museum.She was a member of the French resistance which the Nazis never knew.She made a complete record of incoming art objects and made detailed notes of their destination points in Germany.Years later once France was freed, with the help of those records, most of the stolen art objects were recovered and handed over to real owners.She too had written a book named"Le Front de L 'Art' based on which the great movie of all time 'The Train' was based.
photos:courtesy google.