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Archive for December, 2006

A Girl’s Best Friend

15 Votes | Average: 3.53 out of 515 Votes | Average: 3.53 out of 515 Votes | Average: 3.53 out of 515 Votes | Average: 3.53 out of 515 Votes | Average: 3.53 out of 5 (15 votes, average: 3.53 out of 5)
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A Girl's Best FriendWomen’s attitude towards their best friends, in fact, to intimacy generally is very different from men’s. The difference is so glaring that it sometimes leads to problems in their relationship as it concerns other people. For women, closeness can involve being completely open and honest with their girlfriends. For men, the closest relationship does not have to involve a complete baring of the heart, or a sharing of insights that reveal too much soul.

Which is why men often feel frustrated with the amount of time and attention a woman may shower on her girlfriend. And well they might, because a woman’s girlfriend is likely to hold her most secret, most important feelings about life, love, and her partner… For a man, the presence of his wife or partner’s girlfriend is like a ticking time bomb, ready to explode, particularly if things between him and his woman have not been going too well. Every time he meets the partner’s girlfriend, he feels her silent condemnation, as if the problems between him and his partner are being seen through a huge magnifying glass, and he is looking just like a large green worm!

A man has to be really deep in crisis, close to breaking point, to actually open up to his best friend and say, “I don’t know, yaar…Its become really difficult. My wife’s gone to visit her parents with our son, and this time she says she doesn’t want to come back.” He may be quite close to tears, but he won’t let them fall. The male friend will put his arm round him, and briefly sympathize, perhaps share some horror stories of his own relationship, then both will be ready to go on to a round of billiards and some time in the bar for consolation, with no further reference to the crisis.

An Indian at the North Pole

7 Votes | Average: 3.14 out of 57 Votes | Average: 3.14 out of 57 Votes | Average: 3.14 out of 57 Votes | Average: 3.14 out of 57 Votes | Average: 3.14 out of 5 (7 votes, average: 3.14 out of 5)
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North PoleAs narrated to Ravi Damodaran, by Dr M R Shetty

I had been talking to Dr. M R Shetty for more than 2 days before I caught on that he is an explorer, adventure traveller and wild life enthusiast and has published two books. An oncologist by profession he lived and worked in Arlington Heights, Illinois, before retiring and settling down in Bangalore, where he lives in a sprawling bungalow on MG Road. This is where I met M R S as he will be referred to this article, a very well mannered, soft spoken and humble person who keeps a low profile, typical of old world charm and aristocracy.

Being a writer, naturally the topic turned to writing, but as I took leave of him he ran up the stairs to fetch me a copy of the book ‘North to the North Pole’. Even then I took little note of the facts and it was only while reading the book on the journey back to Chennai that I realised with a start that M R S was on the cover of the book, photographed at the natural North Pole. It is quite revealing that there are three versions of the NP. The Magnetic Pole, geographic North Pole (90 N) and the centre of the ice pack called the Ice Pole.

Until about a decade ago only around 70 trips to the North Pole have been documented in history spanning four centuries of exploration. Shetty evinced more interest in a Polar exploration by air since it was to be made on a Twin Otter built by De Havilland of Canada. DHC 6 the Twin Otter has a cruising speed of 297 kilometres per hour and a range of approximately 1400 kilometres while carrying a weight of 12,500 lbs. Though designed to carry a crew of 2 plus 19 passengers, for this trip only 6-7 passengers can come on board so that extra fuel could accommodated. The production of this particular type of aircraft that could be fitted with skis for landing on ice was discontinued in 1988. Going back 40 years from that date we have the record of the first attempt to land on the North Pole –on April 23, 1948 a Soviet pilot P A Gordienko was the first to land a plane on the NP without any dispute. Others like Byrd in 1926 and Amundsen and Ellsworth also in the same year reached the ice pole which was at 86 N and 157 E. The Russians established ice stations in 1937 and one of their pilots landed on the ice 20 kilometres away from the Pole hoping the drifting ice would take him to 90 N.

Inside Afghanistan, Well, Almost!

5 Votes | Average: 4 out of 55 Votes | Average: 4 out of 55 Votes | Average: 4 out of 55 Votes | Average: 4 out of 55 Votes | Average: 4 out of 5 (5 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
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Kabul ExpressHaving seen the Arshad Warsi-John Abraham starrer ‘Kabul Express’ twice in the first week, I am reflecting on some of the things that make this Kabir Khan film such a good one. The promo shows John and Arshad singing a song called ‘Kabul Fiza’ but this is completely misleading – there are no songs in the film. The only woman in the film, an American journalist played by Linda Arsenio, does not break out into an item number. And the man playing the villain, Pakistani actor Salman Shahid, playing a member of the dreaded Taliban, does such a good job, that he walks away with a major chunk of the audience’s sympathy!

How does all this happen? The truth of course, is that ‘Kabul Express’ is a story that Indians ought to have heard a long time ago. With historical links to Afghanistan for centuries, Indians also have cultural links to this Central Asian country, whose ‘Kabuliwalla’ character has been immortalized in literature by none other than Rabindranath Tagore. And yet, in the globalized world of today, where American versions of the truth dominate the world media, it is difficult to penetrate behind the facts of the ‘shock and awe’ campaign unleashed in Afghanistan after 9/11. The collective memory of the world is so fickle that the current history being made in Iraq, or in Sudan, or Lebanon, is quickly forgotten while the latest insincere statements by politicians world over, are being reported.

Chitradurga Fort – a medieval wonder

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Chitradurga FortDiscovery route
A tenth century fort that was never conquered, empty highways, green expanses and a sleepy town, hiding this historical and archaeological wonder; just 196 kilometres from Bangalore on the golden quadrilateral that stretches on to Mumbai and beyond- that is the Chitradurga Fort. A chance visit to the town to attend a wedding revealed this less known wonder.

Chitradurga is a city located in Karnataka and gets its name from Chitrakaldurga, an umbrella-shaped rocky hill found here. According to legend the Chitradurga district dates to the period of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The whole district lies in the valley of the Vedavati River, while the Tungabhadra flows in the North-West. The Fort of Chitradurga with seven circumambulations surrounds the seven hills of Chinmuladri range. Though the construction of this fort commenced during 10th Century A.D it was completed only in 18th Century A.D during the rule of Palegars, with the latest additions being in the years leading to the 19th century, during the reign of Hyder Ali and later Tipu Sultan. According to one estimate the total length of the fort is about 8 kilometres. Of the seven lines of ramparts 3 are built at the base of the hill while 4 rows are on the rocky slopes. The inner fort is like a bowl with a cup shaped valley that is more like a plateau, in the middle. There are four main entrance gates with the walls built out of gigantic brown granite stones, and though irregular in size these are cut and placed in such a way that there is hardly any gap – somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle after it is completed. Constructed in a slightly pyramid-like shape ensures its stability. The lower three ramparts are protected by moats guarding the outer approaches. The Fort has never been overrun.

Trust and Suspicion: Where to Draw the Line

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Trust and SuspicionIf there is a single, gossamer thin thread that binds us to the person we love, it is trust. Trust is the only area in relationships where we deal in absolutes. The strongest relationships are where we can trust another absolutely – to be faithful, to be a good provider or fellow parent of one’s children, in short, to be responsible. While trust provides such a strong foundation, it is paradoxically also the most delicate and fragile element in a relationship. A single whisper, an alien perfume on a partner’s clothes, or similarly small out of the ordinary occurrence can make us feel suspicious and destroy the trust so necessary to sustain love.

Trust has to be about several basic issues – love and loyalty, a responsible attitude to money, not being sexually wayward or succumbing to other temptations – all these are equally important in retaining the trust of your partner. When these basic parameters are violated, marriage can become a living hell. “It is only because my daughters are still small and I am not yet financially independent that I am still with my husband,” says S—–, her eyes full of pain and anger. “My husband has betrayed me with virtually every maid servant we have had, with his office staff, his cousin…the list is endless. The first time I found out, it was so hard to bear. I confronted him, and he promised it would never happen again. So I relaxed and decided that it was something too small to spoil our marriage and out life. But it has just become worse. Once he was caught red-handed with a servant when his mother was staying with us. The woman objected, and kicked up a fuss. Yet my husband was embarrassed and ashamed only for a short while. Then, its back to betrayal.”