Chennai First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Chennai, Tamilians and all the People of TamilNadu – here at Home and Overseas
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    What do you know about Campbellabad, I was asked the other day. Thinking I still knew the Political Geography I had once specialised in, “It’s a town in Pakistan,” I casually answered. Only to be told it’s a 300-year-old village in Tuticorin District. When my caller wanted to know whether what the locals had told him, that it was named after a Madras Governor, was correct, I was a little more careful. “I think Governor Campbell was some time later but let me check,” I hesitantly answered.

    So achecking I went. And found Sir Archibald Campbell was Governor from 1786 to 1789, not quite 300 years ago. But I also found that there was another Archibald Campbell, a Madras Civilian from 1896 to 1937. He has been involved with the raising of the Mettur Dam (1925-934), retired as Chief Secretary and had served on the Boards of Revenue and Irrigation. He was more likely to have had something to do with land settlement for which the Muslim settlers could have named their new village after him. But that was just 100 years ago.


    Later that day, who should I bump into but Civilian Campbell — or at least a bust of him in the 1901 banqueting hall of the Freemasons of Madras. He had been an ardent Freemason and started the Sir Arthur Campbell Lodge in Madras in 1930. This was the first Lodge where both Europeans and Indians could be members, on condition each spent at least six months a year in the others’ country (Miscellany, March 11, 2013).

    While the bust and I looked each other in the eye, the voices swirling around us talked of the August celebration of 300 years of English Freemasonry with the consecration of the first Grand Lodge of the English Order in London. There was that number again, but this time the records showed the date was indeed 1717. Thirty-five years later, the Grand Lodge of Madras was consecrated. From then on, till the British left India, virtually every British official who was anyone in Madras was a Freemason, it would seem.

    Two winners of honours

    Two residents of Madras many decades ago whom I met recently were on quick visits to the city. To me the link between them were the honours they’d won, rather more distinguished and national in the case of one, rather more local in the case of the other. But both were greeted with the same warmth and enthusiasm by their former colleagues on the occasion of the 150th year celebrations of their respective affiliations.

    It was while visiting his old school, Lawrence of

    Lovedale, as a distinguished guest that Paul Sabapathy from Birmingham heard that he had been honoured for the third time by the Queen of England. An OBE in 1995 for urban regeneration, a CBE in 2004 for his contribution to business and higher education was being followed by a CVO (Companion of the Royal Victorian Order) for his services as Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands.


    As Lord Lieutenant, he was the Queen’s personal representative in the area from 2007 to 2015. It could well have been a knighthood if an email of his had not been leaked. In it, after a visit to the Pakistan consulate in the city, he was critical of the Pakistani community of Birmingham. Apologising, then stepping down was not enough.

    Sabapathy, who went to Birmingham 53 years ago, soon after graduating from Madras Christian College, had a rather remarkable record in Britain. He was the first non-white to be a Lord Lieutenant (a 550-year-old institution), chairman of a British University (Birmingham City U), and a President of the Walsall Chamber of Commerce.

    Unlike Sabapathy, Demitrius Sarandis was no public figure except in the small world of rowing in India. And in the even smaller world of the Madras Boat Club (MBC) he was welcomed for all he had achieved when he was a member (1958-1962).



    Sarandis, from Greece, came out as a 22-year-old to Madras in 1957 to monitor the machinery that his company in the UK had supplied to the South India Flour Mills. While first living in that legendary chummery Chesney Hall, and then closer to the Club, he established an enviable record becoming the MBC’s Captain of Boats within three years. He’d never rowed in his life till a fellow resident at the chummery made him a member of the Boat Club. There, some thought him too small, others, seeing his scanty hair and luxuriant moustache, thought him more aged than he was and too old (35) to row successfully. But taught by the boat boys, he rowed competitively for the first time in 1959. Beating KR Ramachandran, reckoned till then the best Club sculler, Sarandis went on to team with him and win the Pairs too. In three years, his trophy cupboard was full. But then, faced with visa problems, he had to go back — and greater honours were not to be his.

    The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places and events from the years gone by and, sometimes, from today

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Madras Miscellany> Society / by S. Muthiah / July 31st, 2017

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    Whether it was to celebrate Madras’ August birthday or not, Vikram Raghavan, a regular contributor to this column from the American capital, a Madras history buff, and a collector of Madras memorabilia, has just picked up the Thomas Daniell aquatint of Fort St George seen here. Thomas Daniell and nephew William were in India from 1785 to 1793 (Miscellany, April 21, 2008) and published in Britain between 1795 and 1808 “a monumental work”, Oriental Scenery, with 144 prints of Indian scenes. Of these, half a dozen are of Madras. A few more are of Mamallapuram, Tanjore, Madura and Rameswaram.

    My favourites, one of which I would like to get a real-life glimpse of, are two of the earliest pictorial representations of sport in Madras. A print of the Assembly Rooms on the Race Course at Madras hangs in the Fort Museum. The other is of Cricket in India, an original aquatint which is with a private collector in Calcutta who once sent me a poor transparency of it. As this representation was dated 1792, it was probably done in Madras because that was when the Daniells had left Calcutta and were here. And if that was so, the match was at The Island, the only grounds for the game at the time.

    In the picture, the bowler is shown bowling under-arm, the practice then; the bat is a club-like implement like a baseball bat; many of the fielders wear coloured trousers and the scorer is sitting a little wide off gully. A cow ambles about in a corner of the field in the foreground and at the left, by a few trees, is a tent, probably the pavilion. All this is really recognisable only if the picture is seen large. So take my word for it! It was sailors from East Indiamen, locally stationed British soldiers, and East India Company Writers and younger merchants who introduced the game in India. The first recorded cricket activity in the country dates to 1721, when visiting sailors played a game in Cambay, Gujarat, “to divert ourselves”, according to ship’s captain Nicholas Downton.


    As for the Assembly Rooms, they were a kind of grandstand and clubhouse a little south of today’s racecourse where “entertainments” were held, a ball organised for every race day evening; the races were in the morning, then it was off to work and back again for waltzes and minuets. The first reference to organised sport in Madras, racing at St Thomas’ Mount, is in 1775.

    As for Vikram’s original colour-engraved aquatint, it dates to 1797 and is titled South East View of the Fort St George, Madras. The scene was probably viewed from somewhere near Royapuram. It shows masula and other boats, four men pulling a boat through the surf, and ships well out to sea in Madras Roads. Madras Harbour was many years in the future.


    When the postman knocked…

    Clarifying my Institute of Mental Health (IMH) story (Miscellany, June 26) is my Australian correspondent, Dr A Raman, whose hobby is Madras medical history. His research deserves a book one day. Meanwhile, a more accurate story from him than mine about what began in Purasawalkam in 1794 as ‘The Madras Madhouse’ run by Valentine Connolly. It was a leased building (at ₹825 a month) to which Surgeon Maurice Fitzgerald succeeded, holding charge until 1803. James Dalton took over, rebuilt the facility and ran it till 1815 as Dalton’s Mad Hospital. Its cases included ‘circular insanity’, later described as ‘manic depressive illness’ and today as ‘bipolar illness’.

    Government involvement started in 1867 with approval for a facility to be called the Madras Lunatic Asylum (later called the Government Mental Hospital and from 1978 the IMH). The Asylum, raised in the 66.5 acres of Locock’s Gardens, Kilpauk, opened in 1871 with 150 patients and Surgeon John Murray as Superintendent. By 1915, there were 800 patients, 80 per cent of them civilians. About half the cases were classified as ‘mania’, about 20 per cent as ‘melancholia’ and about 25 per cent as ‘dementia’. ‘Criminal lunatics’ were kept segregated.

    Cycling Yogis will mark Madras Week with a booklet called Cycling Trails. It includes 40 trails with details about what to see on them. Every trail in the booklet has been cycled on by the compilers over the last year. Some of the trails which caught my attention were called ‘Madras the First’, ‘Madras the Oldest’, ‘Historic Residences’, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ and ‘Police Heritage’. For booklets, contact, then make use of them during Madras Month.

    This is not about Madras at all, but strange things happen around us all the time. And the recent strike by our Government medicos drew Don Abey’s attention to it. He refers to the Government Medical Officers’ Association in Sri Lanka calling off their agitation in mid-strike when the National Movement for Consumer Rights threatened “it would stage ceremonies in front of the homes of GMOA executive committee members to invoke God’s curses on them for holding hundreds of thousands of patients to ransom!” Powerful are the threat of death-threatening curses and pleas of consignment to Hell!

     The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places, and events from the years gone by, and sometimes, from today.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Society> Madras Miscellany – History & Culture / by S. Muthiah / Chennai – July 10th, 2017

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    Several visitors from abroad come every year looking for ancestors — something, meaning lineages, few Indians are interested in. I can only suggest to them the Archives or this church or that cemetery. But, what is a constant surprise is how much information they already have. And, providing an example were my latest visitors, Norman and Gwen Rider from the UK. They were looking for information about Charles Robert MacGregor Ferguson (1847-1920), the second great-grandfather of Gwen. This is what they’d already found:

    Charles Ferguson was the son of Private James Ferguson, 15th Hussars, and Harriet (Chinnema) Chinamal. They had married in Bangalore where Charles Ferguson was born and baptised. James Ferguson died there in 1849. Harriet Chinamal died in Madras in 1903 and was buried in St Andrew’s Kirk. Tracing her family is one of the Riders’ least-likely-to-succeed quests.

    The other quest is trying to trace Charles Ferguson’s career. He married Anne Elizabeth Ward in St Matthias’ Church, Vepery, in 1868. She died in Coonoor in 1878 after bearing him three children. He then married Alice Emmeline D’Abreu and had two daughters before she died the same year he did, when she was 64. Details about his career are scanty, also occasionally fanciful as in: “1861 — Lucknow. Government Survey Department, Post and Telegraph Department and became Postmaster General in Lucknow until 1902 and received a Government pension till the day of his death in 1920.” Joining service at 14? It was possible in those days for Anglo-Indian boys who’d learn on the job. But, Postmaster General sounds like gilding the lily. He was ‘Telegraph master’ in Pudupet in 1868, then, judging by family births and deaths (all listed), in Coonoor, Lucknow and Chittagong.

    The note on Charles’ retirement reads: “Government pension Yelagiri Hills area of South India. Joined a group of Scots families who farmed at Sunnybanks and Bethany where they were self-sufficient growing crops and keeping animals.” He died in Salem and was buried there. Norman Rider added that it was recorded that on his father’s death Charles was left in the care of his godmother, Maria Sandway, in Bangalore in 1849 and that, it was believed, sometime thereafter, that the boy was placed in the Madras Male Orphans’ Asylum (from which St George’s, Shenoy Nagar, grew).

    That’s quite a compilation from church and cemetery records and the British Library’s India: Select Births and Baptisms, 1786-1947 and India: Select Deaths and Burials 1719-1948. Even ‘select’, those must be quite some compendiums. But, for all that, the Riders still wonder whether there are Post and Telegraph and St George’s records to help them.

    The Riders are only a couple of the hundreds of persons from the UK and elsewhere who come in search of roots. With all the modern technology available, can’t some kind of network be established to help these searchers?

    A dance doyenne remembered…

    Kalakshetra and Nrithyodaya recently remembered someone who had made Bharatanatyam a significant part of the Singapore cultural scene for which she was awarded that country’s highest honour for artists, The Cultural Medallion, and was selected for its Women’s Hall of Fame. The remembrance was the passing away of that dance ambassador, 79-year-old Neila Sathyalingam, in Singapore, recently.

    ‘Neila Maami’, to all her students, did post-graduation and, later, taught, at Kalakshetra. She and husband S Sathyalingam, a talented mridangist, an alumni, and a teacher there, moved to Singapore in 1974 with his job and founded Apsaras Arts in 1977. Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music flourished in Singapore as Apsaras grew. That growth included Rukmini Devi-style dance dramas, Kannagi and Sivagami, her last, two memorable ones.


    The wedding of Suntharalingam Sathyalingam and Neila Balendra linked two of Colombo’s leading Jaffna Tamil families. Sathyalingam and I grew up together as neighbours, but none of that family’s love of music and dance rubbed off on me. Instead, I learnt about politics and ethnicity at the knee of that maverick Ceylonese politician, his father C Suntharalingam, a mathematics Tripos, too, who first used the word ‘Eelam’ in Parliament. None of his family was as committed to politics.

    …. and a young hero too

    The ambush of CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh reminded me of a 60-year old action that Capt D P Ramachandran of the Colours of Glory Foundation narrated to me in great detail a while ago. In the 1956 ambush, a 30-plus patrol of the Sikh Light Infantry found itself surrounded by 500 Naga insurgents. Second Lieutenant Polur Muthuswamy Raman of North Arcot District had the choice to surrender or suicidally fight it out. The 21-year-old chose the latter. Four hours later, during which Raman was twice wounded, there was relief. Another patrol of Sikhs at a higher elevation, spotting their colleagues pinned down, fought their way downhill to join them. The link-up broke the insurgents, but Raman and Major Mehta Singh, who had led the other detachment, lost their lives.

    Mehta Singh received the Kirti Chakra, the second highest gallantry award for counter-insurgency action. Raman got the highest award, the Ashok Chakra. Proudly, almost six decades after its alumnus had laid down his life in Nagaland, the National Defence Academy named a new academic building the ‘Raman Block’.

    The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places and events from the years gone by and, sometimes, from today.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Society> Madras Miscellany – History & Culture / by S. Muthiah / May 08th, 2017

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    CLOSER LOOK: Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi. Photo: Special Arrangement

    CLOSER LOOK: Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi. Photo: Special Arrangement

    Jayapal was born in Chennai, Krishnamoorthi in Delhi, while Harris was born in US

    Three of the five Indian-Americans elected to the United States Congress on Wednesday have south Indian connections.

    They include Kamala Harris (52), the first Indian-American Senator; Pramila Jayapal (51) the first Indian-American woman in the House of Representatives; and Raja Krishnamoorthi (43), who became a Congressman in his second attempt. All three are Democrats.

    Jayapal is the only one born in Chennai; Krishnamoorthi was born in Delhi while Harris was born in the United States.

    Understands Tamil

    Krishnamoorthi’s parents, of Tamil origin, migrated to the United States when he was only three. He was elected from Illinois’ 8th Congressional district. Krishnamoorthi is the son-in-law of the sister of T.R. Balakrishnan, who retired as the principal of Presidency College in Chennai.

    “His father, a physics professor, went from Delhi to teach at a University in the U.S. His family speaks Tamil at home, and while he does not speak the language, he understands it,” said Mr. Balakrishnan, adding that Mr. Krishnamoorthi visited his relatives in T. Nagar regularly.

    “He is very devout, calm and organised,” Mr. Balakrishnan said.

    Ms. Jayapal, who traces her roots to a Nair family in Palakkad, left the country aged five and lived in Indonesia and Singapore before relocating to the United States as a 16-year-old.

    She was elected from Washington’s 7th Congressional district. In March 2000, she published Pilgrimage: One Woman’s Return to a Changing India , saying that she had cultivated an emotional attachment with the country and revealing that she held on to her Indian passport during her formative years.

    Harris won from California

    Kamala Harris, who won from California, is the daughter of the late Dr. Shyamala G. Harris, world-renowned breast cancer researcher.

    Ms. Harris left India as a 25-year-old to study at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Her father and Stanford University’s Professor Emeritus Donald J. Harris is of Jamaican descent, which makes Kamala Harris only the second African-American woman senator.

    Harris’ niece Meena Harris has been quoted as saying that her aunt likes shopping at Chennai’s Nalli for sarees and GRT for jewellery.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Deepu Sebastian Edmond / Chennai – November 12th, 2016

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    Chennai :

    IIT Madras celebrated its second AlumNite, a variant of the traditional alumni day, on Saturday.

    Dr Jayant Baliga Distinguised University Professor and Director, Power Semiconductor Research Center, North Carolina State University, was conferred Distinguished Alumnus Award 2016 on the occasion.

    The other recipient of the Alumnus awards were Dr. S. Christopher Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Director General, DRDO and Dr. Aravind Srinivasan Professor, Department of Computer Science and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland.

    Speaking on the occasion, president of IIT Madras Alumni  Association (IITMAA) Ravi Venkatraman, who passed out in 1971 said, “The Alumni Association besides trying to bring together entrepreneurs, was involved in social work. We refurbished schools affected in floods and collected Rs 15 Lakh within a week. We are also engaged with projects in villages and identified two villages in Kanchipuram. An alumni card is on the anvil,” he said.

    Thiru Srinivasan from 1989 batch said, “This year industry has taken a bigger role. Employment to the graduating students has increased. We are starting to reach out to the governing bodies like Anna University and NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). We want to touch 100 colleges and would like to get more alumni.”

    Abhishek Sharma who graduated this year said last year the fund raised from graduating students was Rs 15 Lakh and this year it Rs 35 Lakh.

    V Balaraman who is the former Managing Director of Ponds and under whose name an alumni chair was established in April was officially launched on AlumNite.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / July 24th, 2016

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    June 20th, 2016adminLeaders, Nri's / Pio's
    Karthik Arasuwill be contesting in the Australian senate election

    Karthik Arasuwill be contesting in the Australian senate election

    His pursuit for education and small businesses took him to Australia nearly two decades ago.

    His dream to be the voice of Indian-origin people has now made Chennai-born Karthik Arasu to run for Australian Senate election.

    A former resident of Choolaimedu in the city, Mr. Arasu has become the first Indian-born independent senate candidate from Victoria in Australian Federal Elections 2016.

    Techies in campaign

    What’s more interesting is that a team of techies from Chennai are involved in his digital campaign.

    Speaking to The Hindu over phone after a long campaign day in Victoria, Mr. Arasu said: “I started networking with Indian-origin people for my business in Australia and learnt about the issues of migrant population, especially of Indian origin. There was hardly any representation of Indian origin people in Australian politics and I decided to contest as friends encouraged me.”

    Mr. Arasu, a manufacturing engineer, pursued his masters in Swinburne University and opened service station on contract with United Petroleum and also trained people in the small businesses. “Contesting in the election will be an opportunity to put forth issues of migrant population. My goal is to gain respect for the Indian-Australian community and other ethnic communities through better representation and encourage inclusive politics,” says Mr. Arasu.

    The Senate is the upper house of Australian parliament and its representatives are chosen through direct voting. With most of his family members in Chennai, Mr. Arasu visits India every year.

    Dedicated website

    S. Suman Kumar, who is heading the digital campaign, said: “Six of us are managing the campaign online through a dedicated website and reach out to Victorians through social media. We got connected to Arasu through a friend. The only issue is the difference in time at both countries.”

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by K. Lakshmi / Chennai – June 20th, 2016

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    Revathi Balakrishnan

    Revathi Balakrishnan

    Indian-American teacher Revathi Balakrishnan was recently honoured by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House for her work in the education.

    Indian-American teacher Revathi Balakrishnan, who was recently honoured by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House for her work in the education space, said she was open to visiting India to conduct workshops or have dialogues with teachers here.

    “I can teach them how to motivate students to learn, how to teach with rigor and relevance and how to build resilience,” Ms. Balakrishnan toldThe Hindu .

    Native of Chennai

    The Chennai-born teacher was named 2016 ‘Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year’ and will now represent Texas in the ‘National Teacher of the Year’ competition – a programme that identifies exceptional teachers in the U.S.

    Ms. Balakrishnan, who works at Patsy Sommer Elementary School in Texas, did her B.A in economics from Ethiraj College in Chennai. She then did her M.A in economics from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

    “My teaching degree is from Texas State University. I came to the U.S. in the eighties and was a systems analyst for 12 years with Liberty Mutual before becoming an educator. Teaching allows me to be creative in my ways of presenting curriculum to students,” she said. She has been teaching for 10 years now.

    Her role is to teach math and English to students who are identified as Gifted and Talented (GT). That is, the top 5 per cent of students in the school.

    “GT students have the ability to learn fast and they think in a different way, but too often, they are not understood. This leads to boredom, behaviour issues and under-achievement. In my classroom, they are challenged at their academic and creative level through project-based learning and Socratic questioning,” Ms. Balakrishnan explained.

    Quality of teaching

    On the education system in India and why it is so tough to get quality teachers here, she said, “I have never taught in India, so I don’t know much about it. Quality teachers just don’t appear magically, whether it is India or the U.S. In order to ‘grow’ successful students, we must ‘grow’ successful teachers. Higher teacher salaries also attract the best of the best to the profession. There has to be a fundamental shift in the way we view teacher support,” she emphasised.


    On her meeting the U.S. President, Ms. Balakrishnan said, it was a lifetime opportunity to visit the White House and meet the President.

    “The ceremony was supposed to take place in the South Lawn. However, as it had rained, it was moved inside. So, I got to see the fantastic portraits of all the Presidents and the lavish decorations. Imagine all the historical conversations that have taken place in the Red Room and the Green Room,” she said.

    ‘GT students have the ability to learn fast and they think in a different way, but too often, they are not understood’

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Sangeetha Kandavel / Chennai – May 18th, 2016

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    BookCF20mar2016This disturbing book, which almost wrings the life breath out of you, is this year’s best non-fiction so far. Searing, unapologetically noire, inhabiting the cusp of life and death, second generation American doctor Paul Kalanithi’s account of his young life and his progress towards death takes us to the brink of our own lives. Writing till a few weeks before he died of lung cancer, with the concluding description of the days leading to this death written by his wife Lucy, it is a story of life, death, science, the meaning of life, and the various existential queries it throws up as we traipse through life as if we are born not to die.

    Paul Kalanithi

    Paul Kalanithi

    Kalanithi was the brightest young neurosurgeon that the US medical system produced in recent years. Wooed by all universities, offered jobs that anyone would, well, die for, Kalanithi was consumed by lung cancer despite the best medical treatment available and despite the fact that the victim himself knew how to keep away death.

    Kalanithi was the third son of a Tamil Christian father and his Hindu wife who eloped to get married. In the US, his father became a well-known surgeon. After New York, his father moved the family to the far outreaches of Arizona where “spaces stretched on, then fell away into the distance”.

    Out of there emerged this brilliant writer-doctor on who the US medical system too had pinned great hopes. But science hadn’t accounted for nature’s dark humour.

    In When Breath Becomes Air, the young surgeon deals deeply with issues which confront all of us. First was his passion for literature and philosophy, and he imbibed the larger glories of Eliot, Whitman etc. He found Eliot’s metaphors “leaking into his own language”. And then “throughout college, my monastic, scholarly study of human meaning would conflict with my urge to forge and strengthen the human relationships that formed that meaning”. Kalanithi resolved his inner conflict by finally choosing medical science where the “moral mission of medicine” lent his med school days a “severe gravity”. Here he explored the relationship between the meaning of life and death.

    In his short life Kalanithi achieved greatness in both showing an academic life few can surpass—MA in English literature and BA in human biology from Stanford, MPhil in history and philosophy of science and medicine from Cambridge, graduated cum laude from Yale School of Medicine, inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honour Society, postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience and the American Academy of Neurological surgery’s highest award for research. He was just 36.

    In his death, two of his greatest passions converge—medicine and literature. Even as he groped, incised, cauterised, sutured and brought people back from the jaws of death, he himself was being eaten away by cancer. Often there was hope that the first defence against his lung cancer, Tarceva, “that little white pill” would do the trick. For six months, it seemed the cancer was in retreat. Kalanithi started work, fighting against tiredness and nausea. Then in one of the routing scans appeared a moon-shaped tumour. He couldn’t avoid chemo any longer. He fell back on literature during this difficult phase looking for meanings of death and life. “Everywhere I turned, the shadows of death obscured the meaning of any action.”

    This young doctor on the threshold of death fought bravely. But there is little science can do about determined nature. Detaching himself brilliantly from impending death, Kalanithi takes us through his final weeks of turmoil. Most tearful is the last operation he would ever do as he decides to give up surgery, and go home and wait for death. He watches the soap suds drip off his hands after his last surgery. He saved one more life but his was nearing the end.

    Here there is no redemption. Death is the winner from page one. It is only literature, this book, that outlived him. He has left back a poignant memoir of life and death that many will  find succour in life as well as when they near death.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> LifeStyle> Books / by Binoo K. John / March 19th, 2016

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    An Indo-Canadian trio has put together a video timeline featuring 20 of Tamil cinema’s eternal favourite songs

    Nothing is better than listening to the classics; some hits are immortal, even as pop, rock and hip hop continue to top the charts. It’s the same when it comes to Tamil film songs. No matter what the latest composers dish out, it’s the oldies that bring us together.

    In an effort to pay homage to their roots, Thakshikah Sritharan, Kavistuthy Thavanesan and Saikavin Sritharan, an Indo-Canadian trio, has put together a nostalgic six-minute video called Tamil Mime Express, tracing the history of film music.

    Thakshikah, a classical dancer, talks of the inspiration behind the video, saying, “We were fascinated by a video called Mime Through Time by SketchShe; so we decided to do the same with Kollywood, trying to make it as appealing and innovative as possible. We thought that a timeline of Tamil songs shown through dance would be a fun way for everyone to remember and enjoy some of the songs they grew up listening to.”

    Throughout the video, which is shot entirely in a car, the three of them sport various outfits with élan — shirts with rolled-up sleeves, popped collars, saris, lehengas — which is what has caught the fancy of many viewers. “We invested a lot to acquire the perfect costumes to match each song,” they say.

    Starting from ‘Naan Aanaiyitaal’ from Enga Veettu Pillai, all the way through ‘Chikku Bukku Rayile’ from Gentleman to ‘My name is Billa’ from Billa, the video concludes with the latest ‘Thara Local’ fromMaari.

    “We initially listed about 150 songs, but narrowed down to just 20 spanning all genres,” says Thakshikah. The trio credits their parents, as well as G Design Labs and Yashtra for their support in the video’s production.

    Thakshikah and Kavin have only been to India four times, but concur that, “The food is absolutely amazing. The best trip was our visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal.”

    They’re currently working on a couple of projects but are keeping them under wraps. A timeline of Bollywood music, perhaps?

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Justin Dominic / Chennai – March 12th, 2016

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    March 8th, 2016adminNri's / Pio's


    Padma Lakshmi with Salman Rushdie in Calcutta in 2004, the year they got married

    Padma Lakshmi with Salman Rushdie in Calcutta in 2004, the year they got married

    London :

    Padma Lakshmi has written an “autobiography” in which she has revealed she slept with Salman Rushdie on their first date but eventually could not satisfy his insatiable sexual appetite after they were married.

    When she could not have intercourse with him because of an operation for a painful medical condition, called endometriosis, the author apparently turned surly and commented sarcastically: “How convenient!”

    Each year when the Nobel Prize went to another writer, Rushdie took it hard. Padma would console him, she claims.

    Padma’s book is in the shops in the US tomorrow but ahead of its release, the most salacious aspects of Love, Loss, and What We Ate (HarperCollins; $26.99) have already been picked out from early review copies sent to the American newspapers – and also given general coverage in British newspapers as well.

    Padma, a TV cook and one-time model and actress (she starred in the Bollywood movieBoom), married Rushdie in 2004. The marriage ended in acrimony after three years.

    He was unkind to Padma in his autobiography, published in 2012, and now she has got her revenge.

    In his memoir, Joseph Anton – the pseudonym Rushdie assumed in hiding by mixing “Joseph” Conrad and “Anton” Chekov – the author wrote about himself, somewhat curiously, in the third person.

    “Then he went to Paris for the publication of La terre sous ses pieds (The Ground Beneath Her Feet) and she (Padma) joined him for a week of intoxicating pleasure punctuated by hammer blows of guilt,” he said.

    “‘You saw an illusion and you destroyed your family for it,’ (his third wife) Elizabeth would tell him, and she was right,” Rushdie acknowledged

    “She (Padma) was capable of saying things of such majestic narcissism that he didn’t know whether to bury his head in his hands or applaud,” he continued. “When the Indian film star Aishwarya Rai was named the most beautiful Indian woman in the world in some glossy magazine or the other, for example, Padma announced in a room full of people, that she had ‘serious issues with that’.”

    “She was ambitious in a way that often obliterated feeling,” he said of Padma. “They would have a sort of life together – eight years from first meeting to final divorce, not a negligible length of time – and in the end, inevitably, she broke his heart as he had broken Elizabeth’s. In the end she would be Elizabeth’s best revenge.”

    Padma is now 45 and Rushdie 68. It wasn’t like this when it began.

    This is the New York Daily News on Padma’s revelations: “Lakshmi was 28 and single, Rushdie was 51 and married to his third wife. A bit part in Mariah Carey’s disastrous 2001 movie Glitter was the apex of Padma’s big screen acting career. The pair first met in 1999 at a party. On their first real date – Rushdie initially wooed her by phone since she lived in Los Angeles – the pair fell into bed.”

    “At 3am, I woke with a start. I’m naked in a married man’s bed,” the good south Indian girl thought before sneaking out of the hotel room.

    Today’s Daily Mail is a little more direct: “Rushdie initially pursued her by phone since she lived in Los Angeles, and on their first date they ended up in bed together.”

    The Daily News is rather taken with Padma: “The stunningly beautiful Padma Lakshmi, in her new memoir, Love, Loss, and What We Ate, serves up the hot, steaming dish about the egotistical writer.” The strap reads: ” Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi recalls her years with author Salman Rushdie as a once beautiful meal that ultimately left her with mood poisoning.”

    And: “The ever-demanding Rushdie needed constant care and feeding – not to mention frequent sex, according to the book.”

    Padma “wrote that Rushdie was callously insensitive to a medical condition that made intercourse painful for her”.

    Rushdie once became so enraged by her rejection of his overtures that he denounced Padma as a “bad investment”, she alleged. “When her undiagnosed endometriosis diminished Padma’s sex drive, the unsympathetic Rushdie became furious that she was unavailable for the fevered, urgent intimacy they’d once enjoyed, according to the book.”

    The marriage was initially blissful. And then it wasn’t.

    At one point, Newsweek put her on the cover illustrating a story about the “New India”.

    “The only time Newsweek put me on their cover was when someone was trying to put a bullet in my head,” came Rushdie’s less-than-enthusiastic reaction.

    “Rushdie was often away. After one five-hour surgery, Lakshmi came home with stitches in four major organs and stents in both kidneys. Rushdie left the next day for a trip.” “The show must go on, after all,” he said on his way out of the door, according to Padma.

    Her first post-op trip out of the house was to a divorce lawyer.

    It’s unlikely that Rushdie will take his ex-wife’s revelations lying down.

    The New York Post has offered some insight. Apparently, Pia Glenn, a new girlfriend of Rushdie, gave an interview after they split up to the Post, saying he was “cowardly, dysfunctional and immature”, and that he kept talking about Padma.

    It was claimed that Rushdie then rang the newspaper to label Glenn “an unstable person who carries around a large, radioactive bucket of stress wherever she goes”.

    There was a period when Padma was having sex with two men.

    The Daily News reports: “The troubles in her next serious relationship were all of her own making. Ted Forstmann, the billionaire CEO of the global sports and media empire IMG, had previously dated Princess Diana.

    Life with Forstmann was definitely an upgrade for Lakshmi. In 2009, for example, he asked where she would most want to travel on a fantasy food tour. Lakshmi named the two most exclusive restaurants in the world. Soon after, the couple was dining at the legendary elBulli in Rosa, Spain, followed by Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark.”

    Padma says she had some lesbian experiences in Europe. She “didn’t want to settle down so soon after her marriage ended. Back in the day, when modelling in Milan and Paris, she indulged in some bacchanalian evenings where she ‘acted out my curiosities and fantasies’.”

    She adds: “Some I regret, but not all, like knowing what it’s like to touch and be touched by a woman.”

    The Daily News adds: “While those days were in the past, Lakshmi didn’t see her future in an exclusive relationship with another much older man. Forstmann was 30 years her senior.

    “While still seeing Forstmann, Lakshmi took up with Adam Dell – a venture capitalist and brother of Michael, the founder of the eponymous computer company. It was only after Dell returned to Texas that Lakshmi learned she was pregnant with his child. She had wanted a baby for so long, but this wasn’t entirely happy news.

    “Forstmann, who had waited out her affair with Dell, became enraged when Lakshmi told him he might not be the father. She was terrified that she might have squandered his love. When a paternity test proved the baby wasn’t his, Forstmann pleaded with Padma not to involve Dell, she wrote. The lifelong bachelor, who had adopted two boys he met in a South African orphanage in the ’90s, promised to support the child as his own. But Padma felt Dell had a right to know. She writes that she was fully willing to involve him, but Dell kept his distance through much of her high-risk pregnancy.”

    More drama followed. “Forstmann was in the room for the C-section, and handed Padma her baby daughter, Krishna, on Feb. 20, 2010. Dell appeared to stage a scene in Padma’s room. She remembers crying and asking him not to yell. He was furious that his name wasn’t on the birth certificate, pacing ‘ominously’ at her bedside for hours. Hospital security subsequently escorted the infant to another room to visit with her father.”

    The story goes on: “Later, when Dell came to New York, Lakshmi sent Krishna to visit her father in the arms of her own mother – accompanied by a security guard. A custody battle ensued. Forstmann warned Padma that things would get ugly, but offered his unending support. Not long after, he started exhibiting symptoms that would lead to an eventual diagnosis of glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. Forstmann suddenly had only months to live.

    “On her last visit before his November 20, 2011, death, the toddler crawled on his bed while dressed as a lion for Halloween. Forstmann could barely open his eyes, but their last words to each other were, ‘I love you’. She soon settled the custody issue by agreeing to amend Krishna’s last name to ‘Lakshmi-Dell’. The three have since shared some lovely times together. According to news reports, Forstmann’s will established a trust for Krishna – and so he, too, remains a part of their lives. It’s not a perfect ending by any measure, but certainly a new beginning for Lakshmi and her little girl.”

    Padma has told People magazine: “Nobody is responsible for my actions except me. There were a lot of difficult things I went through in a very short intense period under very public circumstances. It was something that affected my family who are very private and it affected people I love, who probably didn’t deserve it. And so I needed to be honest and forthright about that.”

    She has also been “honest” about her romance with Rushdie. While their early years were full of passion (and a lot of great meals) he bristled as her career blossomed. “I just wanted my own identity. I was making the transition out of one stage of my life and into another. But in order to do that, it required that I wasn’t everywhere that he needed me to be.”

    Rushdie will probably point out that the world had not heard of Padma Lakshmi until she had met, married and divorcced him. For her, he was a good career move.

    source: / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> Story / by Amit Roy / Tuesday – March 08th, 2016

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