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Dateline CHENNAI

Dateline CHENNAI

September 24, 2015

IlayarajaI happened to witness a gathering got up by Nalli Kuppuswami Chettiyar to felicitate the Padma Awardees from Tamil Nadu. I was lucky to be in the august company of Isaignani Ilayaraja. His daughter, another genius had accompanied him. In his speech, he narrated the travails, trials and tribulation that he had to pass through to reach where he is now. He had a passion for music right from childhood. In his native village there was no music teacher! His urge took him out of his village and we got a Brahma!

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new. (Rabindranath Tagore)

Smile TrainUntil I read a news story, I didn’t know that one million children in India are having cleft lip and palette problems and are awaiting surgery. The positive side of the story is that the voluntary organisation "Smile Train" has collected Rs 200 billion to provide free surgeries for 2.5 lakh children with such problems. The organisation has fanned out to villages and has been convincing people that cleft lip is not a curse, but a minor problem that could be cured. Their Indian wing, with 170 partnership hospitals and 250 surgeons, has sponsored two lakh reconstructive surgeries in the last 10 years.

Smile Train India has performed 50000 surgeries last year, "the largest number of operations in the world." However the task is enormous.

It is not a case we are treating; it is a living, palpitating, alas, too often suffering fellow creature. (John Brown)

TelevisionAlmost all of us watch TV. A media study has found that television is the most preferred entertainment medium and women have established their supremacy over men in living rooms.

TV sealed the first slot with as many as 92 per cent of respondents voting for it in a survey conducted by commercial consultancy firm Deloitte on 'State of the Media Democracy Survey.'

Among 2,000 respondents across the country, women were found to be watching more TV programmes (93 per cent), compared to men (91 per cent).

Even the senior citizens rate TV as the preferred entertainment medium, with their score being as high as 95 per cent. Newspaper occupies the second position. Indians, unlike the westerners, want to read dailies with their morning cup of tea. This reading habit is more visible in the younger bracket of respondents (those above 26 years), with 68 per cent of them preferring newspaper.

The tech-savvy generation is more inclined to Internet, gaming and cell phones as means of recreation, the survey said. Cell phone came out as the most preferred entertainment device as 64 per cent of the respondents falling in the age group of 14-25 voted for it.

To be happy in this world, first you need a cell phone and then you need an airplane. Then you're truly wireless. (Ted Turner)

LettersHow many of us ‘write’ letters these days? Well, a new survey held in London has revealed that the traditional art of letter writing is fast dying out among today's technologically savvy children who prefer emails and text messages to communicate. One in 10 children between the ages of seven and 14 has never written a letter in their life while one in four youngsters admit they have not written one letter in the past year. In fact, youngsters admitted that their preferred method of communication is to write an email or post a message on a social networking website like Facebook or Orkut. The poll also found children are less likely to write letters as they get older.

However, there is some good news. Manners are not dying out with 70 per cent of youngsters saying they would write a note to say thank you to someone.

The survey has also revealed that many youngsters are leaving primary school unable to set out a letter - almost half of 11-year-olds were unsure of the right layout. Child education expert Sue Palmer says the demise of the art of letter writing was a worrying trend.

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.  (Phyllis Theroux)

Stone inscriptions dating back to 10th and 11th century AD found recently in a village near Kancheepuram have thrown light on the way records of properties were maintained during the Chola times. The stones came to light recently when an earthen mound was dug at the Sirukarumbur hamlet, tucked away from the main road.

Sirukarumbur proved to have been a bustling and active land of cultivation, then named Rajarajaseri, as many fractured stones of architecture and stone inscriptions were discovered scattered around the mound behind twin temples of the village. The stones disclosed the many agreements reached between different groups of people for endowments and upkeep of the temple. The inscriptions also revealed that there were Chola bronze images, consecrated and worshipped in that temple.

One of the stone documents recorded that a bronze idol of Umaparameswari, consort of Lord Nataraja, was installed and worshipped by the villagers in the year 1013 AD, the 28th year of the reign of Rajaraja Chola-I, in the temple.

The stones were spotted by the present junior Kanchi Sankaracharya Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi when he visited the place with the well known archeologist Nagaswami on May 11. Sirukarumbur first came into prominence because of the interest late Mahaswami of Kanchi Mutt Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi evinced in the twin temples. He would walk 20 Kms from Kancheepuram to visit these temples and camp there. The temples were renovated during his lifetime in 1991 by his then junior Jayendra Saraswathi.

Recently there was another discovery. Thirteen rare panchaloka idols and 85 copper inscriptions, believed to date back to the 12th century AD, were unearthed at a temple near Mayiladuthurai.

The idols and inscriptions came to light during the renovation work of an ancient Kamakshi Amman-Kailasanathar temple at Kazhukkanimuttam village. The idols included those of Karaikal Ammaiyar, Vinayakar, Somskandar, Chandrasekar, Appar, Manikavasakar, Sivakamasundari and Sandikeswarar.

As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end. (Michel Foucault)

Plus TwoThe Plus Two results have brought out several fascinating facts. I was flabbergasted by this revelation. Twins from a remote fishing village near Sirkazhi in Nagapattinam district have achieved impressive scores in plus-two examination by appearing as private candidates overcoming several obstacles.

The twins - Sita and Lakshmi (18), daughter of one Pazhani, a fisherman in Annanagar hamlet near Pazhaiyaru in Sirkazhi taluk, were studying +2 as regular students in Pudupattinam GHSS until last year. They had taken Biology group.

Last year, a few weeks prior to the +2 examination, when they were travelling by cycle to school, they were hit by an auto. Sita sustained fractures in the leg, while Lakshmi escaped unhurt. As Sita was receiving treatment in hospital, Lakshmi decided not to appear for the exam alone.

After Sita recovered, both studied together and appeared for the examination this year as private candidates taking Accountancy group. Sita secured 971 marks (80 per cent) with 190 in Accountancy and 172 in Economics. Lakshmi secured 923 (76 per cent) with 185 in Accountancy and 175 in Economics.

The girls did not attend any tuition class and studied all by themselves. They wish to study together during graduation and prepare for Civil Services Examination.

Life is two-riffic with twins.

World Classical Tamil ConferenceWhat has the World Classical Tamil Conference to do with shops? A lot, indeed. The Labour Department in Coimbatore has directed all shopkeepers and commercial establishments in the city to write their name-boards in bold Tamil letters, considering the World Classical Tamil Conference, scheduled there from June 23.

A group of labour officials visited various shops in and around the arterial Avanashi Road and asked the owners to give prominence to Tamil, by writing the names of shop and organisations giving 60 per cent space on the board.

This is a classic(al) case of being more loyal than the king!!

Recently read: Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning.  The great task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life.  Frankl saw three possible sources of meaning: 1) In work (doing something significant), 2) In love (caring for another person), and 3) In courage during difficult times. Frankl often refers to Friedrich Nietzsche's words, "He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How."  Frankl believed that suffering, in and of itself, is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it. (Harold S. Kushner in his Preface to Viktor E Frankl’s book, ‘Man’s Search For Meaning.’ Incidentally, the book was recently presented to me by my good friend R Ganesan of Mumbai.)