The intention was to get chatty about cheese. But the conversation veered off to reveal how Kodaikanal’s best known family for producing cheese is famous for a lot more
You will never get it wrong while visiting the Manis in Kodaikanal. A visit to their home is invariably greeted with the ‘eat cheese’ welcome! The plate loaded with rusk and toasts topped with the ‘Kodai Cheese’, the brand they are reputed for, lay in front of me temptingly through the interview. And honestly, the ‘cheese content’ of the assignment remained restricted only to eating. For, when you are sitting with the two ladies of the family – Lalitha Mani and Janani Harisanker, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law duo – you can only hear and see how they share their homes, lives and hearts with animals, patients and people in general.
The business of cheese is of course managed by Lalitha’s husband G.S.Mani and her son Harisanker. And both are mostly away at their newly established factory in Batlagundu (see box). But it is this dynamic pair of saas-bahu making news more often in Kodaikanal. They are either chasing tourists who make the Kodi roads dirty or rescuing stray animals from the streets or ensuring good medical care of patients in the hospital started by them.
And when they are not doing social service, they are either landscaping their gardens or playing golf. Lailtha and Janani connect so well that you fall in love with them when they say, you can drop the ‘in-law’ bit from our relationship. “We are like mother and daughter,” they echo, asserting on the beautiful relationship.
When Chennai-bred Janani wedded into the Mani family seven years ago, she was not sure whether her in-laws would be happy with her role as a silent volunteer for the Blue Cross, the 55-year-old animal welfare organisation based out of Chennai. She was even more upset when her mother told her that her adopted stray dog Pebbles, was missing her and refusing to eat. With much trepidation she checked with her mom-in-law if she could bring Pebbles over to Kodaikanal for a few days.
“Pebbles is your dowry we will happily accept,” Lalitha told her newly-wedded daughter-in-law. That one line not only changed the relationship between the two women forever but it also made Pebbles a permanent resident of Kodaikanal.
“Amma has an amazing way of dealing with people and is extremely supportive where she sees something good,” says Janani fondly about her mother-in-law. Lalitha returns it with, “And Janani is very friendly and caring”. But these are not just complimentary words for each other. They go much beyond in action.
Just a few days ago, says Lalitha, while returning from work we saw people in the car ahead of us throwing chips wrappers out of the window. “We stopped and picked up the empty packets, overtook the car, handed over the packets back to them with the request that they should properly dispose them off,” narrates Lalitha. “And we both are pretty well known in the town for doing this,” laughs Janani.
Though they are often referred to as the “dynamites of Kodi”, Lalitha worries about when people will ever learn to be responsible by themselves. The duo distributes garbage bins and bags to various agencies in the hill town and also places them at strategic locations in the heavily crowded tourist hotspot. But look at Kodi, rues Lalitha, how dirty it has become. She came post-marriage in the Seventies and finds it difficult to digest how the idyllic town with flowing streams has been reduced to such a trash spot.
For her own peace, she along with her husband does the landscaping of her properties and much to her delight has found her daughter-in-law sharing the same interest. Janani being the quintessential nature lover and environmentalist is a student of urban architecture and of late has been doing projects in Coimbatore and Kodaikanal, particularly the villa properties. “I never encourage any exotic species of flora or fauna but only promote and integrate the locally known birds, animals and trees for perfect harmony with the territory and environment,” she says.
Both of them are now trying to work out a waste management proposal for Kodi in collaboration with Wasteless from Auroville. While Lalitha feels there is not much hope, Janani says, there is still a chance to save the township.
But it is her animal rescuing mission that sets Janani on a hyperactive schedule. In the last five years she has rescued 45 stray dogs and cats, all of whom have found a place either in her or Lalitha’s home, or in friend’s homes. She has attended 20-odd emergency calls and treated injured dogs, horses and cows. She practices reverse psychology with pony owners and makes them take care of their animals better.
Animal welfare works with care and compassion, not threat,” she underlines.
Both the women have also been instrumental in reviving one of the oldest units of SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals) in Kodaikanal. It was established in 1929 by the Americans and continued to work with the help of senior citizens of Kodi. But the association went defunct in 2002 following diversion of Government funds to the Dindigul unit of SPCA. So now it has been renamed Kodaikanal Protection and Care for Animals and Janani is in the forefront rescuing stray pups and kittens.
In the middle of all this when does she find time for golf? With my father-in-law laying the first organic golf course in Kodi, I could not stay away from it for long being a sportsperson, smiles Janani, already on a winning spree in various city tournaments.
Both her’s and Lalitha’s minds are cluttered with ideas to better the environment of their much loved town. “Recycling is the buzzword for everything now,” they say.
The Kodai Cheese
For four decades the “Kodai Cheese” brand has been popular for its special range and nutritious value. “We believe in creating our own brand and identity with value-added quality,” says Harisanker who now controls the business with his father G.S.Mani, who took over Kodi’s famous Cheese Factory from his father in 1977.
The family has a word of mouth reputation to uphold and prides in producing boutique innovative cheese with techniques adopted from around the world.
What started from a rural village as a family-owned dairy with six suppliers in 1972 has grown in magnitude manufacturing 150 metric tonnes of cheese every year. In the beginning horse-drawn wagon collected 50 litres of milk per day, today 4,000 litres of milk goes into the making of Cheddar, Mozarella, Ricotta, the Blue cheese and the latest handmade Cambrie. The entire line is made with fresh antibiotic-free milk, experience and from authentic recipes in eco-friendly way, according to Harisanker. The whey created in the cheese making process is used for making organic compost for the entire vegetation, fodder, flowers, fruit and other trees grown on their property.
The KHMS Hospital
The Kodaikanal Health and Medical Services is a Trust formed by G.S.Mani with six other trustees to cater to the health and medical needs of the residents and visitors to Kodaikanal. The trust runs the 16-bed hospital established in 2009 and is equipped with a pathology lab for basic investigation facilities and essential facilities like the ICU, Operation Theatre, Ultrasound, X-ray machine, pharmacy and an ambulance. “The idea is to stabilise the patient here in case of an emergency before they can travel to a big hospital in Madurai or Dindigul,” says Lalitha Mani, who holds charge of administrative responsibilities. The hospital caters to 25,000 patients in a year and the treatment is highly subsidised.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Soma Basu / Madurai – May 07th, 2015
Some of the country’s distinct arts and crafts awarded the prestigious Geographical Indications (GI) tag have, for the first time, been compiled in a book.
The GI tag, a form of intellectual property right, is distinct from other forms of intellectual property rights (IPR) as it ascribes exclusivity to the community in a defined geography rather than to an individual as in case of trademarks and patents.
Madras high court additional government pleader P Sanjai Gandhi in his ‘Arts and Crafts of India’ has collated and described 64 arts and crafts that have been accorded the prestigious tag.
Thanjavur doll, Madurai Sungudi Saree, Swamimalai Bronze Work, Arani Silk, Salem Silk and Fabrics, Kancheepuram Silk, Kovai Kora Cotton and Bhavani Jamkkalam Carpet are some of the products from Tamil Nadu detailed in the book.
It also describes the origins of Budithi Bell and Brass Metal Craft, Kondaoalli Bommalu (wooden toy), Nirmal paintings, toys and crafts, Pembarthi Metal Craft, Silver Filigree of Karimnagar, Siddipet Gollabama Sarees, Pochampally Ikat Fabrics and Machilipatnam Embroidery from Andrhra Pradesh as well as Karnataka’s Bidriware, Kinhal Toys, Mysore Rosewood Inlay, Ilkal Sarees, Molakalmuru Sarees, Mysore Silk, Kasuti Embroidery and Sandur Lambani Embroidery. Alleppey Coir, Aranmula Kannadi (metal mirror) and Screw pine craft from Kerala are also mentioned .
Highlighting the rich legacy of the products, the book, for instance, explains how the Swamimalai Bronze Icons of Tamil Nadu can be traced to the Chola period (850-1279 AD) and how Kancheepuram’s weavers manufactured silk sarees for the royal families of Chola and Pallava empires. Similarly, Kovai Kora Cotton of Coimbatore dates to the Vijaynagara Empire and the Madurai Sungudi Saree is traced to the 16th century Nayak dynasty. According to folklore, Aranmula Kannadi, a mirror made of metal alloys, was first made by bronze casters of Tirunelveli. Around 400 years ago, a priest from the Aranmula temple in Kerala brought them from Tamil Nadu.
We also learn, through the book, that Puneri Pagdi of Pune was first worn by Justice M G Ranade in the 18th century. Since then, it has been worn by leaders such as Lokmanya Tilak and D D Sathye.
The manufacturing of some products takes into account scientific principles. Thanajvur dolls are made on the concept of gravitational force. Perhaps, the process of making these dolls began long before Sir Issac Newton propounded the theory of gravitation.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Manish Raj, TNN / May 04th, 2015
She has lived the immigrant dream — a journey from a one-room house in Alwarpet and a childhood learning classical dance to becoming a criminal court judge in New York City. The first Indian-origin woman at that.
Chennai-born Raja Rajeswari now hopes to ensure that the multi-ethnic population, the foundation of New York City, is treated fairly, while she also balances her other passion in life — dance.
Having migrated to the US aged 16, Rajeswari, now 43, worked at the Richmond County DA’s Office her entire career before being sworn in as a judge by NYC mayor Bill de Blasio on April 27. Her childhood experiences growing up in Chennai, her career as a prosecutor, her early observations of gender inequality, influences from her mother who was a dancer — Rajeswari believes all these paved the way for her successful career.
“I had a wonderful childhood. We were a low income household, and I was an only child. We did not have a lot of money but our lives were filled with dance and music,” she says, speaking to Express in an e-mail interview. Reminiscing about her mother who was a dance instructor, and her father who was an office clerk, she calls him a ‘gentle soul who resembled Mahatma Gandhi in looks and philosophy’.
Having lost her mother in an accident when she was 18, and her father to cancer in 2013, it was Rajeswari’s promise to her dad during their last conversation that prompted her to become a judge. “My mother bequeathed me her love of dance and the belief that the world can become a better place if there is even one person who cared enough,” she says.
And dance it was, that first brought her to New York.
Rajeswari had started dancing at fundraising events as a toddler, teaching dance at the age of 10, and receiving a government research scholarship at the age of 14. After doing her advanced studies in Kalakshetra for Bharatanatyam and also learning Kuchipudi, she travelled with her mother Padma Ramanathan dance troupe to several countries. In 1988, it was on the last leg of a dance tour she came to the city where she would live her life.
“At 16, I had traversed the planet and realised how the treatment of women made an impact on me. I decided to stay in New York and pursue my education in a country where women got equal opportunities,” she says.
Living The American Dream & How
Her cultural background and multilingualism, is what she believes, greatly helped her career as she dealt with various ethnic backgrounds in domestic violence and sexual abuse cases.
“My personal experience of growing up in a third world country provided me with insight into understanding the social stigma of accusing one’s husband or boyfriend in certain cultures,” she says.
Through her appointment, she hopes to follow in the footsteps of those who brought ethnic diversity to the bench, besides standing by her firm belief that the rights of the defendant are sacrosanct and can never be trespassed.
“I cringe every time I read about another defendant who has been exonerated after spending decades in prison for a crime he did not commit,” she says.
The speed and equal access to justice administered in the US, she says, is something to take note of; though not perfect, it is still much more efficient than the legal system in India.
Speaking about cases like the Delhi gang-rape, she says that unless we deal with ingrained social prejudices and discrimination against women, we will never be able to achieve our potential.
“Unless there is a gruesome death, no one pays attention to the victimisation of women. The woman or children rarely report these crimes because they know they are never going to be taken seriously and would be blamed and shunned by the society.”
Being an immigrant in a bustling city like New York, Rajeswari has worked her way up through several trials and is a firm believer in the American criminal justice system, which she considers the best in the world since it affords every person, regardless of sex, race, colour, sexual orientation and social standing, an opportunity to seek justice.
“As an immigrant you have incredible opportunities in this country but you have to be able and willing to work really hard and constantly prove yourself,” she says.
If a female immigrant from a city in South India can make history by becoming the first South Asian female judge in New York City, Rajeswari believes, there is hope for every female who aspires to higher office in India and abroad.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Archita Suranarayanan / ENS / May 02nd, 2015
April 16th, 2015Amazing Feats, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Inspiration/ Positive News and Features, Records, All, World Opinion
by K R A Narasiah
I recently had a chance meet ing with Durailingam who told me the story of his father, Subedar Subramanian of the Madras Sappers regiment. Subramanian lost his life trying to protect others during mine clearing operations in Italy in World War II. Subedar Subramanian was awarded the then instituted George Cross; the first Indian to get the bravery award for noncombatants.
India was drawn into the Second World War without its ond World War without its consent and in spite of stout protests from the national leaders. Madras SapParis pers’ 4th division was put into operation in the Italian campaign landing in Taranto in December 1943. Two companies of the Madras Sappers joined action 100 miles south of Rome where they were mainly engaged in clearing the mines. In all, about 50,000 Indian troops fought in Italy. Half of them were injured and one in ten lost their lives.
The Madras Sappers were sent there after the allies invaded on September 3, 1943 the Italian mainland, with the invasion coinciding with the armistice made with the Italians who then joined the allies’ side. The objective of the attack was to draw the German troops from France, where an offensive was planned. The allies were facing the Gustav line (German winter defensive position) which extended from the river Garigliono in the west to Sangro in the east. Very soon the allies had occupied the ridge overlooking the river.
The Sangro River Cremation Memorial near Torino di Sangro is one of the memorials erected in Italy to officers and men of the Indian forces whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith. In that memorial Subedar Subramanian’s name is inscribed.
The details recorded in the Sangro river memorial reads, “Subramanian, son of Kannayiram and Thangammal holding the rank of Subedar, with official Number 14069 from the unit Queen Victoria’s Own Madras Sapper and Miners and husband of Shanbgammal of Keelvodivakkam, Chengalpet, India.”
The details show that while Sub Subramanian was operating the mine detector, with Lance Naik Sigamani behind him marking his path with a white tape, there was a small explosion. The subedar realized immediately that the Lance Naik had stepped on an anti-personal mine and within the next four seconds the canister would be thrown into the air and explode causing great damage. Without the slightest hesitation and knowing that this would be fatal, Subramanian hurled himself over the mine knocking the Lance Naik aside. The force of the explosion was neutralized by the Subedar’s body which caused his death. With this action he saved the lives of his comrades, especially Lt Young, who was next to him.
In a rare gesture of gratitude, touching tributes were paid to 5,782 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives fighting for Italy against the fascist forces, on Oct 5, 2007 in Rome. The Memorial Gates in London have been constructed in the Constitution Hill, to pay tribute to the brave men of WW II. Sub Subramanian’s name is included in the memorial list.
Durailingam who did well for himself in his business wanted to perpetuate his father’s memory by giving the ancestral home in his village Keelottivakkam in Kanchipuram district to the Army to run an Ex Servicemen Health Service (ECHS) polyclinic. Durailingam has erected a statue (bust) of his father at the site with a cenotaph. Unfortunately, stating no reasons, the Army has withdrawn from this place after using the same for seven years in 2013. Durailingam says he has no idea why the Army withdrew. He says since he is getting older his only wish is to donate this land of over 700 sq yards to the Army so that the polyclinic can be set up.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / TNN / April 15th, 2015
Fifty years ago, Sivaji Ganesan’s film, Santhi, marked the end of a popular combination in Tamil cinema.
It was the last film in which Sivaji and M.R. Radha shared space on the silver screen.
This snippet was shared by T. Murali of Nadikar Thilakam Films Appreciation Association which organised a function on Sunday to the mark the 50 year of Santhi.
The film that was to be released on April 10 in 1965 was delayed by 12 days as the makers wanted a ‘U’ certificate instead of an ‘A’.
“Earlier, the Central Board of Film Certification thought of giving it an ‘A’. The makers thought such a certificate for those times would deter people from bringing their families to the film. So, it took them a little while to get a ‘U’ certificate,” he said.
Jayanthi Kannappan, daughter-in-law of A.L. Srinivasan who produced Santhi, brought the camera using which the film was shot 50 years ago.
“My father-in-law had the privilege of paying salaries to four Chief Ministers, including M. Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa, M.G. Ramachandran and N.T. Rama Rao, for various films. Not just that, he also introduced five directors, including A. Bhim Singh and K.S. Gopalakrishnan,” she said.
The programme was followed by the screening of the film. The film’s cast included Sivaji, C.R. Vijayakumari, Devika and S.S. Rajendran, and was directed by Bhim Singh.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Staff Reporter / Chennai – April 13th, 2015
Rare symbols have been discovered at the Lord Shiva temple at Alundur in Srirangam taluk in the district recently denoting the Brahmadarshana symbol, Manduka Diagram and Sulastone with plinth.
According to research team scholars headed by T L Subash Chandra Bose, the symbols were found at Shiva temple in Alundur as well as in some of the surrounding areas.
The scholars claimed they also found a trident with a base with the Tamil letter ‘Ka’ inscribed on the right side of one of the pillars in the temple. The symbols could date back to the 16th century BC, they said. Elaborating the significance of the Tamil letter ‘Ka,’ Subash Chandra Bose said that the alphabet refers the first true letter and also the first numerical number ‘one’. The root of letter ‘Ka’ is a cross between vertical and horizontal lines referred to as the ‘causation’.
“Ka represents Lord Param or Brahman (not Brahma). Lord Param is also symbolically indicated as an oblong with a cross at the center. It is a four square matrix (Pecaka diagram) which you can see in the Sulastone at Keezhakuruchi village stating about the Siva Temple — Jambukeswarar Akhilandeswari — in Thiruvanaikoil near Srirangam where the tree, the spider and an elephent attained moksha,” he said.
The Mayamata — the temple architectural manual — says the centermost four square in the 64 square matrix is the heart zone, where the Ka — Lord Param or Brahmam dwells. An interesting reference found in Chaandogya Upanishad (verses 4.10.4-5). Ka and Kha is Brahman. Below is the explanation or interpretation of it, he said.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Express News Service / April 04th, 2015
Amidst the many camera flashes, clicking noises and constant whispers from on-lookers, city-based language teacher, P Aravind, was trying his best to recall the 270 binary numbers being flashed before him from a computer. He finally managed to recall all the 270 digits shown to him in the fifth attempt in a bid to enter the Guinness Book of World Records at the Kasthuri Sreenivasan Trust on Friday morning.
Aravind, 36, who teaches Italian, Spanish and French and has a passion for languages, had been dabbling in memory techniques for more than 15 years to help make learning of languages easier. “Every time I learnt a new language there was always a long list of words, verbs, vowels, nouns, phrases and sentences to learn,” said Aravind. “I initially found it tough and monotonous. I noticed that my students began losing interest when the going got tough,” he said.
That was when Aravind began researching memory techniques which he used to test his memory power from time to time.
I began training a year ago with just 40 numbers, and slowly kept increasing it by 20 every two months,” he said. “The earlier record was set in 2011 by a Mr Jayasimha with 264 digits. I decided to use the memory palace technique developed by Greek Poet Simonedes in 2500 BC which involves imagining a palace where you place numbers in various corners, place the rest in any way, leave the palace and continue your journey. When you return and start looking at the palace you start finding the numbers as you walk through it,” he said. He practiced at least three hours a day.
He managed to memorize 270 numbers in a minute and repeat it within eight minutes, practicing in front of many locations. “I did it in a crowded bus stop, Brookefields Mall and at the location on Thursday evening to get used to distractions,” he said.
While he looked nervous during the first attempt on Thursday evening, he looked more confident during the second attempt and was close to reaching the target before failing at the 240th digit. After a five minute break, he began all over again and succeeded in his fifth attempt.
Aravind dedicated the achievement to all his students. “I want this to be an example to all students who think they can’t memorize anything. They just need to zero in on the right technique,” he said.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Coimbatore / TNN / April 04th, 2015
Seventeen students from VIT University calling themselves ‘Team Vimaanas’ has been awarded the first position in the Asia-Pacific Region, in the Micro Class of airplanes category at SAE Aero Design international competition held at Lakeland, Florida, USA, competing with 25 other teams from prestigious universities across the world.
Teams from IIT Kanpur, NIT Jamshedpur, Manipal Institute of Technology, McGill University, University of Western Ontario, Polytechnic Institute of NYU and other European and American universities competed in the international competition. VIT chancellor G. Viswanathan while complimenting the VIT team for their achievement, said VIT University encourages students to take part in technical events as they provide a platform for them to broaden their horizons while gaining rich and practical experience.
SAE Aero Design competition is conducted by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers)International.
“The contest was to design a micro-class category light aircraft that could hold a cylinder of a six-inch diameter and we began to work on this since September last year,” said Rushat Gupta Chadha, the VIT team captain who is in his fourth year Mechanical Engineering.
Weighing just 330gms the micro plane is capable of lifting a weight almost three times its weight with both wingspans measuring 36 inches and also measuring 36 inches from the tip of its nose to its tail. Although the team from VIT University was adjudged the sixth best team overall, they stood first in the Asia-Pacific Region. With several categories on which the micro planes were judged, the team was awarded the second prize for Highest Payload Lifted, fourth prize for the Highest Payload Fraction, and the sixth prize for Design.
“We got three returns on our investment of hard work. First, we learnt to apply technical knowledge and test them practically. Second, this competition acted as a booster to our morale and confidence. Finally, it is an achievement that probably no other Indian student team has achieved so far,” Chadha said. The team now plans to compete in the Advanced Class category in the same competition.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Express News Service / April 02nd, 2015
New Delhi :
Tarun Vijay has become the first north India to get famous Kamban Academy award.
The BJP MP from Uttarakhand received the award from Justice Rama V Subramniyam at Karaikudi — the samadhi place of Kavi Chakravarty Kamban, the immortal author of Tamil Ramayana.
This is the first time that the highly prestigious ‘Aruntamizh Aarvalar Award’ is given to any non-tamil person by Kamban Academy.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / TNN / April 02nd, 2015
Here’s a question for the nerds… what do Roger Federer, Jesse Owens, Arsene Wenger, Donald Bradman and India’s Viswanathan Anand have in common?
Well, apart from all of them being connected to some sport, they all have minor planets named after them. The former World Chess Champion joined this unique club when a minor planet (4538), located roughly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, was named after him.
The newly-named minor planet, (4538 Vishyanand), was discovered by Kenzo Suzuki of Toyota, Japan, on October 10, 1988.
A staff members of Minor Planet Center, Michael Rudenko, was invited to name the object as it remained unnamed for more than 10 years. “The idea of naming a minor planet for Anand was entirely my own,” Rudenko told Express exclusively. “After careful consideration I selected him because in addition to being a great chess player he is also a gentlemen and astronomy enthusiast,” Rudenko said.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Swaroop Swaminathan / April 03rd, 2015