Posts by vaageesh tnc

14 year old Storyteller, Chennaite, Conservationist, Dhoni & CR7 Fan; Red devils for life

The Science of Stars

We understand the spoken word if we know the language. We understand the silent gestures if we know the mind of the person making the gestures. In the days of yore, the art of communicating ideas through signs was considered a special science & some pundits even did MBA’s on this art form ;). It was called mudra shastra. However, after centuries of improper usage & mismanagement, it fell into disuse & was almost lost to the ages. But as with several other practices, this science witnessed a renaissance as the Legendary Hippie movement swept through the world. But the scale of its comeback was unprecedented. Now mudra shastra is practiced in over 192 countries & of these countries, over 140 attend the GMSE (The Global mudra Shastra expo)  which is conducted over 2 months every year. This year’s fest is set in the birthplace of Mudra shastra – India.

This was the message inscribed in the millions of pamphlets that the eager volunteers of the 40th GSME distributed in the busy streets of the nation’s capital, Delhi.  But all was not well in the tent of the Indian team. Their leader, the illustrious Badai Lama, had suddenly pulled out due to a heart condition!! This sent the entire Indian team into a full-blown panic attack! To make matters worse, he was supposed to go up against the world no.1 Kosuke, who was said to be so brilliant, it was rumoured that he could defeat his opponents with the mere shift of his gaze, in the final of the century!!

Everyone was worried & were perplexed as to what to do. At last, one rather astute pundit suggested “Try as we may, we can’t face Kosuke in debate & win. So let’s try to defeat him with strategy. We have to send a shrewd strategist from our team. Who knows, by his tactics, our man may even win the debate.” The contingent rallied behind the suggestion & soon began to search for their secret weapon. Soon a list of hopefuls was drawn up & strenuous interviews were conducted to weed out the amateurs or cheats.

After intense discussions, they finally chose their cook, Ahmed! The day of the final dawned & electricity filled the air. Furtive preparations were made to accommodate the over 60,000 spectators & set up the live stream in order to cater to the over 3.5 billion people tuning in to watch this most spectacular of contests.

Ahmed, clad in a flowing kurta-pyjama entered the arena to thunderous applause, while Kosuke wore his traditional kimono & was received by silent awe. The two pundits sat face-to-face  & commenced with the discussion. The two contingents & the spectators eagerly looked on.

Kosuke raised his hand & showed one finger. Ahmed was a one-eyed man. He stared hard & slowly raised his hand & showed two fingers. There was an appreciative smile on Kosuke‘s face. He then raised his hand again & showed three fingers. Ahmed didn’t hesitate this time. He closed all his fingers & showed his fist.

Kosuke immediately rose & bowed to Ahmed in great respect. He then proceeded to loudly acclaim Ahmed’s wisdom & scholarship. The entire audience, let alone the judges were astounded. They couldn’t follow anything.

The judges rose & requested Kosuke to explain his words. Kosuke was still in ecstasy. He again extolled praises of the great wisdom of the Indian delegate & said “Ah, what a pundit! I have never seen such an expert in the science, nor such a philosopher.

First of all, I showed 1 finger to say that the mind is the seat of knowledge. Your pundit replied with 2 fingers indicating that the body & mind together can only use this knowledge. I then said with my 3 fingers that without the soul, the mind doesn’t have access to this knowledge, thus making the body useless. The wise pundit closed all his fingers & showed his fist, thus pointing that all three can’t survive without each other. Ah, great indeed, is his wisdom!

The judges unanimously decided to award the victory to the Indian Team, who promptly burst into celebrations!!! The crowd also went wild as India had not won the competition in over 28 years! Soon after the revelry & festivities had died down, the Indian team gathered around Ahmed to hear his side of the story. Ahmed took a deep breath & began his explanation.

My dear Sirs, Kosuke was very rude & insulting, but actually he was a coward. First, he raised 1 finger, mocking me for having only one eye. I crisply retorted with 2 fingers that my one eye was much better than his 2 eyes. But he didn’t stop at this. He again insulted me, showing three fingers to point out that together ours were 3 eyes. I really got angry at his rudeness & showed my fist, indicating that I would break his nose if he further insulted me. Then the coward was afraid & fell at my feet”.

The entire team split their sides with laughter over this. They realized their good fortune in getting such a person for their debate!

#Footnote: Above is a fictitious story, there was no GMSE 🙂 

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The different ways we say “Hello”

Hey guys, it’s me your favourite blogger!! I For the past 2 weeks, but I had exams & just couldn’t find the time :(. But now I’m back & I’ve got one amazing post to share with you!!

Do you know why we say the word “hello?” when we answer a call?

Well, we can thank Alexander Graham Bell‘s  & Thomas Alva Edison’s rivalry for that ( I know what you’re thinking, wasn’t Nikola Tesla , Edison’s arch nemesis? Well he was but I guess Edison had a bone to pick with almost every single genius of his time) Bell, the inventor of the telephone felt that the traditional greeting should be “Ahoy!” while Edison championed the usage of the word ” Hello” which was at that time, the equivalent of saying LOL. Due to the rise of phonebooks, which often mentioned Hello as the official word, it soon caught on & the rest as they say, is history . But there’s something even more fascinating than this. Now, the question arises ” What can possibly be more interesting than a grumpy old Edison?” Well the fact that that isn’t the only way we say hello!

Now you’re probably scratching your head wondering ” Hello is Hello! How can it be different?” Well then you’re probably going to get the shock of your life There are over 198 countries in this world & each one & every one of them have an unique way of saying “Hello!” Now I can’t cover all of them at one go but what I can do is give you a glimpse into this crazy reality.

  1. Mongolia- In Mongolia, when two people greet one another during a ceremony, festival or other special occasion, they will offer their snuff bottles in the upturned palm of the right hand, with the lid partially opened. Snuff is a scented, smokeless tobacco made from ground up tobacco leaves. The person receiving the snuff bottle will take out a pinch of snuff by using the small spoon which is attached to the lid. They then place the pinch of tobacco on the back of their hand before “snuffing” it up their nose. Even if you don’t want to sniff any snuff that day, it’s respectful to hold the bottle close to your nose, to smell the fragrance before passing it back. Snuff bottles are always given and received with the right hand.

2.India- My homeland is home to so many different greeting styles that I’ve simply lost count! Now many people think that the quintessential greeting here in India is “Namaste”. Now while the folding of hands & bowing of head is generally widespread, the word used while greeting differs from state to state & even city to city! Now since I live in Tamil Nadu, our word of choice is “Vanakkam”. So the next time you visit India, please do find out what the traditional greeting word used in that region, believe me when I say, it will open doors for you!

3. Middle East-Emirati men greet each other by rubbing their noses! So drop the stereotype that only red Indians do this people! Emirati men, in fact, greet each other by rubbing their noses!  Apparently, this is a traditional Bedoiun greeting and rubbing noses is a sign of deep respect.

4.China- Bowing is to show a sign of respect. By lowering your head below the person you are bowing to, you are showing that they are of higher standing than you are. Traditionally, people would greet each other by putting together the palm of their left hand with the fist of their right hand and say hello. This is also a thing of the past, but some Chinese would still do it on special occasions to bring back the atmosphere.

So as you can see , the different ways we greet each other are as diverse & unique as we are ! Hope you enjoyed this post & are eager for more! Until next time, farewell!

 

Book or E-Book?

Hey guys, it’s me & today’s post is about an issue that’s very close to my heart, The rise of the E-Book. Now obviously this is a debate which has raging on since the dawn of time aka the day Amazon was created. Now some people have a stereotype that this is a battle between the Generation WW2 vs Generation Y. But its actually more of a mixed bag . There are some veterans who have sided with the Kindle faction while some new kids on the block are on the side of paper. Each side have their on signature weapons. The Kindlers say this is eco friendly while the paperbacks say that the charm of a book can never be replicated by a cold hard piece of metal & glass.

Now every person who knows me , knows that I am a reading fanatic! If you give me an interesting book , I will forget the whole world & basically turn into a statue! Not even the news that Trump got punched in the face wouldn’t break my trance & that’s something impressive. Now I am the proud owner of 250+ books & 75+ e-books on my Kindle.

2 years ago, I was hardliner of the Paperback faction, spending half my day holed up in the corner of a library, flipping through hundreds of books in under an hour. I was simply disgusted by the invention of the e-book & even spent 3 months trying to convince my friends that e-books were as sacrilegious as converting from a Man Utd fan into a Man City fan!!

Now you may be wondering ” Then why in god’s name did you buy 75 e-books , are you a traitor to the Old Trafford warriors!!!!?” . First no, I’m not a traitor, in fact, I’m as crazy about Man Utd as I am about MSD. But to answer your question, the tectonic shift in my stance occurred due to my dad, the one person who you least expect a teenager to listen to.

It all started with my dad buying the very first kindle & uploading the entire collection of Uncle Scrooge comics into it. I was & still am a Donald Duck family fan. So my dad pulled quite the a smart move. Despite the fact that I was extremely peeved about this, the lure of duck without pants was too much to resist. I tried extremely hard to not like the Kindle but Jeff Bezos was way ahead of me. Not only did the Kindle have access to the entire collection of mankind’s books but it’s compactness also allowed me to smuggle several books into my school , just by slipping it into my pocket!(Yes, I have BIG pockets).

This was a masterstroke by the Kindle faction & boy did it work. Soon I was buying so many E-Book’s that Amazon’s servers crashed through out the entire Asia-Pacific area & they had to send a sea gull that had eaten Tostitos to get me to stop! But what shaped my now middle ground stance? The credit for that goes to an unnamed string instrument teacher who lived sometime in the 9th century.

This may prompt you to ask me” Do you secretly own a time machine?” The answer is no! I do not. But what I do own is 5 page pamphlet on the life of Buddha. I found this pamphlet crumpled outside my school gate. Intrigued, I dusted it off & began reading it. And the part which talks about how Buddha attained enlightenment really had a profound effect on me. I then realised that both factions had equal pros & cons & the fact that I was swinging like a pendulum between both sides was basically driving me insane! I also stumbled upon the fact many people where in a similar situation as me! So like Siddhartha, we realised that the middle path was the best one !

And from this was born the Kindle-Paperback federation or the Kindback federation as it is now referred to by the other factions. And do you know what’s the greatest thing about this? Each member can interpret the middle path to suit their needs. My personal stance is that buy E-Books for most series & paperbacks for sentimental series like Harry Potter.  Now this may not work for most people but it does for me.

So why am I writing this post? To make you, dear readers realise that there is an alternative to these two factions which are tearing at each other’s throats. There is a group which acts as a meditator between these 2 goliaths. We basically do whatever the UN does but for books, instead of countries.

I hope this post gave you an insight into the intricate world of modern day literature & it’s multiple factions. But sadly it’s time for me to bid you adieu, so until we meet again, in this website or the next GM of the Kindback, Farewell!

 

The Last Dragon Chronicles- The Book Review

Hey guys, it’s me, your favorite blogger!!! And I’m back with my third book review! Today’s post centers around the brilliant Last Dragon Chronicles by the virtuoso of virtuosos, Chris d’Lacey.

This book is a definite for any lover of dragons & those who miss the good old days of the Inheritance cycle. The book is a fresh breath of air for the of- late repetitive dragon novels, which often portray dragons as creatures of eras long forgotten.

The series centers around a seemingly ordinary family in the suburbs of England & their tenant David(oh & a multitude of clay dragons). However, the story doesn’t stop with just these characters & locations, it instead sprawls over the entire globe, from the Arctic Circle to the savannahs of Kenya. The author even takes a page out of the comic book universe, introducing a plethora alternate timelines & dimensions. This is a story filled with magic & ancient pacts, all set in the modern world(now why does that sound familiar?) & yet never separated from the past.

Here’s how this book stood up to my 3 pillars of a good read!!!

1.Duration– Some people say that more pages mean a better reading experience. I disagree. Sure many of the greatest works in literature are massive, but that doesn’t mean that big is better. A long book, after a certain point in, gets tiresome. It becomes so long that the book seems to drag on forever! Small isn’t the best either, an extremely short book would leave the reader yearning for more detail, for more continuity, would leave them with 101 questions to be answered. There needs to be a balance.

The series hovers around the 450-500 pages mark, which for some people, seem way too much. But trust me, those few extra pages are totally worth it!!! Not a single moment do you feel bored or annoyed, instead of like Happy from Despicable Me 2, it reels you in & gets stuck in your head!

2.Plot– What good is a book, without a great plot?
This series has by far, one of, if not the best plot I have ever encountered!! Every single little event has to be closely analyzed & remembered, but even then, the twists & turns will defy all of your predictions & sometimes you’ll be left stunned by your sheer gullibility! The main plot does not reveal itself until the very end of the series, but I’m sure that this melting pot of subplots & pseudo plots will be more than sufficient for even the most avid bookworm.

3.Artwork– The front & back cover & the images within a book are often what prompt people to buy them.
This series’s signature cover will help you identify it from miles away & the variety of colors used will put a rainbow to shame!

Overall, I feel that the author has delivered a spectacular series that has ushered in a silver age for the floundering genre of dragons. This series can definitely go toe to toe with the Harry Potter series, its only real rival at this point & in some cases, even surpass it. The creativity & ingenuity of Chris d’ Lacey is absolutely sublime & I wish him all the very best for his new series, The Erth Dragons (A spinoff) I really, really hope that someday I may be able to meet this successor to C.S Lewis.

Hope you liked this review & are excited for more, Well, That’s it for today, Until Next Time, hrrr!

Grandpa on mute

Thatha, Virat’s grandfather, a sprightly octogenarian, was rapidly going deaf. However, he refused to admit it. Mundane breakfast table conversation took on the overtones of Judgement Day!

“Looks like its going to rain today” Virat’s father, might say.

“What?” Thatha would shout.

“It’s going to rain today”. Virat’s father would’ve to holler.

To make matters worse, Thatha loved watching the TV. As his deafness advanced, unfortunately so did the volume.

Virat fed up with this audio onslaught, marched into the kitchen. His mom was seasoning the avial they would have for dinner.

“Is it possible to hear anything in this house?!” Virat demanded.  “I’m not able to even think properly, let alone study! He is an environmental hazard!”

“Don’t be rude” his mom said, searching for a ladle in the rack.

“Do Something” Virat begged.

His mom kept the ladle down, turned off the gas & went into the hall with the light of battle in her eyes. “Appa” she screamed. Without much ado, she switched of the TV.

“Face, it, you are hard of hearing” she shouted, “Am not!!I heard you!” Thatha complained.

Virat returned an hour later, with revision complete to see the grim, determined faces of his parents & the glowering one of his grandfather.

“Ask him” Thatha burst out. “My grandson will tell you that I’m not deaf! Just because I am eighty, you think you can force me to wear a hearing aid. Next, you’ll make me wear dentures. Then you’ll pack me off to an Old Age home. It’s a conspiracy to get rid of me. There is nothing wrong with my ears.”

Amma spoke up “You can’t hear unless with shout our lungs out, you have to get a hearing aid, dot.”

The next morning, Amma took leave from office & took Thatha to the E.N.T. specialist at the local Polyclinic. Virat looked forward to the return of a noiseless, peaceful atmosphere. He had underestimated his grandfather. Thatha’s hearing aid was a compact simple device. When Virat queried why he had turned it off, he winked “Your mother insists that I wear a hearing aid. Well, Now I’m wearing one. dot.”

Virat’s mother had almost made up her mind to cancel Thatha’s much awaited birthday party on Sunday (which Thatha loved more than anything else, even more than his TV) Then Virat had a brainwave.

Sunday dawned. No one wished Thatha. No cards or presents. Every time the phone rang, he looked expectantly, but was never for him. Just before noon, Virat & his parents dropped Thatha at his club where he sulked all the way to the game room. He entered the game room, expecting it to be empty, but instead he got the shock of his life.

It was beautifully decorated with balloons & stringers, with a huge cake in the middle, surrounding which stood his friends & family, grinning from ear to ear. As if in a dream, Thatha blew out the candles. Everyone clapped. That was when Thatha got an even bigger shock.

He saw them clapping & singing but not a single decibel reached him. Judging by Thatha’s expression, it looked like he was watching a horror film. He turned on his hearing aid & increased the volume. Still no sound, just that nightmarish silence. How could sixty voices be singing & yet not a word be heard? He turned up the volume to its highest setting.

The gathering took a deep breath & shouted “Happy Birthday to you”.

The sound hit Thatha like a tsunami. He reeled back. It took him only a few moments to grasp that he had been deceived.

“Got a taste of your own medicine, eh?” Thatha’s friends shouted loud enough to raise the roof.

Thatha immediately reduced the volume of his hearing aid,” Don’t shout” he said, calmly reaching for a slice of cake.” I’m not deaf”

“Howl” to “Woof”

Hi guys, its me your favourite blogger on the block who’s back with yet another cool post. There are about 7.4 billion people on Earth today & over 200 million dogs! So exactly when where & why did warm-blooded wolves join our fold? And who trained who? So are you a cat person or a dog person? Me, I’m completely impartial! Yeah right! I love dogs more than anything in this whole wide universe(Well maybe except my family), seriously what’s not to love? No matter on which side of the furry border you are on, it’s plain to see that the histories of mankind & dogs are intertwined, maybe like no other two species.

If we take domestication out of the human equation, it’s estimated that just 1 or 2 million of us would be around today & of all those animal alliances, our relationship with dogs is by far the oldest. But figuring out why, when & where domestic dogs originated is still a bone of contention.

Why is by far the easiest to answer. Every continent is home to wild canids like the dingos of Australia or the dhole of India(Yes I know that India isn’t a continent but come on, you can excuse me for being a bit patriotic, right?) but thanks to genetic research, we know that modern-day pups haven’t descended from these local species. Today’s dogs all trace their origin back to ancient wolves.

You may have heard that wolves & ancient humans were hunting Bros, using teamwork to bring down bigger prey. That’s a nice story but wolf packs can hunt on their own just fine & usually aren’t to keen on sharing! Plus, early humans tended to kill off most carnivorous competition. It’s most likely that humans didn’t adopt dogs, Dogs adopted us!!

Any wolves “gone mild” that were tolerant of humans could have scrounged our scraps. They didn’t need us, but our leftovers would’ve made their lives much easier. This habit is still very much present in modern-day dogs, as every Trash Can will testify & every dog owner will confirm this fact 😉 ! But a tame wolf, isn’t a dog & scientists are still trying to figure when & where that change occurred.

Studying living wolves tells us that the line that led to our puppies is extinct today, but we can see still find their footprints in modern dog genomes. Looking at DNA in mitochondria tells us that dogs split from their wolf ancestors somewhere in Europe between 19,000 to 32,000 years ago but genome from dozens of living dogs puts the split somewhere in South Asia at around 33,000 years ago( seriously, that’s a lot of yrs ago!!)

It’s tough to pin down because dog genes have mixed so much. Fossils don’t tell the whole story either because bones alone can’t tell us when the thing that looked like a wolf started acting like a dog. But by combining both fossils & DNA, we’re able to get some hints. DNA extracted from ancient dog fossils has suggested a new story, the spilt happened in 2 places, at least 12,000 yrs ago. And then eastern dogs followed people west & became the dominant ancestor of our canine compadres.

Dogs became useful herders, sled pullers & guards against predators & neighbouring human tribes and in a pinch ,they could have served as an emergency food supply( I know right, disgusting!! And this still continues, China hosts an annual dog eating festival, it’s simply horrendous!!! Join Avaaz , an organization which is striving to stop such atrocities throughout the world!!)

Dogs probably saved us more times than we can count & we’re paying them ,pups now have access to insurance , healthcare, some even have more Instagram followers than you or me! From a wolf mould, we’ve crafted over 340 or so dog breeds, even a few weird ones. It’s hard to believe that every domestic dog is still part of the same species, one whose story is so tightly wound to our own ,that we still can’t quite tell where it begins.

That’s it for today, I hope you liked today’s post. Till next time folks, Adios or as Scooby doo would say “Scooby Dobby dobby Doooooo” !!!

State of emergency-A Book Review

Hi guys, I’m back & welcome for a change, to a book review! So I was casually wandering around one of Chennai’s innumerable Book fairs(yes that’s a real thing!)when a book with a soldier on it caught my eye. I glanced at the first few lines of the summary & was instantly hooked! I just had to have this book!! So I took a look at the price tag & was delighted that it was a steal of just 150 Rupees! 12 hours later under the cover of my blanket, I continued to be enthralled by this masterpiece created by Sam Fisher.

The book focuses on a top-secret team called E-Force whose main agenda is to help save people in disaster zones. Now you may be wondering ” Don’t we have the police & the Fire fighters to take care of such things?” Well to find out the answer, buy & read this book. This book is a must buy for anyone interested in fast paced, thrilling adventure novels which at the same time are highly relatable. The characters(note the word characters) are often confronted with several real world problems from their conscience to the slothfulness & mind games of modern-day bureaucracy.

Here’s how this book stood up to my 3 pillars of a good read!!!
1.Duration– Some people say that more pages mean a better reading experience. I disagree. Sure many of the greatest works in literature are massive, but that doesn’t mean that big is better. A long book, after a certain point in, gets tiresome. It becomes so long that the book seems to drag on forever! Small isn’t the best either, an extremely short book would leave the reader yearning for more detail, for more continuity, would leave them with 101 questions to be answered. There needs to be a balance.
Coming in at 376 pages, “State of Emergency” has slotted itself into, in my opinion, the ideal number of pages any book should have. Why? Not only do such a number of pages keep the reader interested, they also don’t take up much space, thus greatly adding to its ability to be stuffed inside my math textbook, allowing me to smuggle it into school 😉
2.Plot– What good is a book, without a great plot?
“State of Emergency” comes equipped with a plot that is simply sublime!! It appears to be highly straightforward but in reality, coupled with its sub-plots(of which there are several) this book will bamboozle, surprise, delight, enrage & sometimes make you pause & ponder over its subtle but weighty messages.
3.Artwork– The front & back cover & the images within a book are often what prompt people to buy them.

State of Emergency’s front & back covers compliment the words within to the fullest!! Blacksheep-UK, the team who designed these fantabulous covers deserve an Oscar or at the very least, an Emmy!!

Overall, I feel that the author has delivered a power-packed novel that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. The plot twists at first appear to be the same tired & tested ones but they reveal their depth & significance only much later in the story. The explanation of high-tech instruments is lucid & isn’t hampered by lack of detailing nor is it straitjacketed by the use of too much technical jargon( Case In Point, Apple products, they use high fangled terms to trick us into thinking that the new iPhone is better but in reality, it’s worse!! I’m on to you Apple!!, you can’t-fool me!!!)
The book is a beautiful symphony created by a maestro whose name we will all hear more about in the coming years! I’m definitely not qualified to critique this book but I do have one suggestion. A touch more mystery could have launched this already mind-blowing plot into the stratosphere but it isn’t something that has to be considered, it’s just my opinion. I seriously recommend this book as a worthy successor to the vacuum left by the books of Wilbur Smith. Plus, this book isn’t a stand-alone, its part of an ongoing, yes ongoing series!!!!! And you know that means for me, more books to smuggle into to school!!!!
Hope you liked this review & are excited for more, Well, That’s it for today, Until Next Time, farewell!