Welcome to Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages On these pages, I present solid information on (currently) 117 different spice plants. Emphasis is on their usage in ethnic cuisines, particularly in Asia; furthermore, I discuss their history, chemical constituents, and the etymology of their names. Last but not least, there are numerous photos featuring the live plants or the dried spices.
"No Toilet, No Bride": Count the number of public toilets for women in India, or the availability of something as basic as low-cost sanitary napkins, and the invisibility of women’s needs becomes apparent." Private toilets may increase in number: "There are signs of change, though, and one of the most surprising may be in the matrimonial market. Four years ago, the Haryana government started its "No Toilet, No Bride" campaign, painting walls across the state with the slogan: 'I won’t allow my daughter to marry into a home without toilets.'
Is India an oligarchy? Late last year, when India's income tax office tapped the phone of well-connected lobbyist, Niira Radia, they were looking for evidence of tax evasion and money laundering. But what they found instead was what many consider evidence of an even bigger problem: "[T]he tapes reveal that the country that prides itself on being the world's largest democracy is really ruled by a small coterie of powerful people." Some of the leaked tapes that sparked the scandal are available online, on the website of the weekly magazine that first broke the story, as well as a few transcripts. [more inside]
Air India (in collaboration with Indian Airlines, the Indian Air Force and Aeroflot) is in the Guinness Book of World Records for their airlift in 1990 when they successfully evacuated 111,711 Indian citizens from Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan by operating 488 refugee flights over a period of 59 days. While they have never quite managed to break that record in the intervening years and subsequent strife, Air India in collaboration with any available merchant ships is at it again after Egypt to deal with the largest evacuation since then ongoing right now from Libya.
For me, this was a first experience of seeing India play at home, and of Sachin Tendulkar playing in front of his own people. I chose a good game with which to start. I can think of few, if any, experiences in sport to match watching Tendulkar succeed in a home game. Roger Federer may occupy a similar status of universally-acknowledged greatness within tennis, but I think it is fair to say that Switzerland is not quite as passionate about tennis as India is about cricket. If Federer were to simultaneously play tennis whilst hoarding gold and providing banking facilities for dubious dictators, perhaps the fervour of his support would match that for Sachin. But the Swiss population is unlikely ever to top the one billion mark.Don't know a thing about cricket? Wouldn't know a wicket from a googly? Don't worry, you won't have to know a thing to enjoy Andy Zaltzman's World Cup Blog. He is traveling around Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka attending various games. Zaltzman is best known to the world for the fabulous podcast The Bugle which he does with John Oliver. Therefore it should come as no surprise that he also does a cricket podcast. And he tweets about cricket too.
ISRO scientists think they have found a horizontal uncollapsed lava tube on the moon, 1.7 km long, 360 m wide, and 120 m high (roughly 1 mile x 1200 ft x 400 ft) which could be used as a lunar base by astronauts for inter-planetary missions. [more inside]
Bikram yoga, popularized in the USA by Bikram Choudhury, is criticized for being overly sexual and as subverting the traditional aims of yoga. The bacchanalian atmosphere at the training clinics held by Choudhury seem to confirm this view.
AP photographer Kevin Frayer moved to New Delhi in 2009. Here he captures a community of coal scavengers who live and collect coal illegally for a few dollars a day in the village of Bokapahari, India
Isaac Kehimkar's entire Flickr photostream is devoted to butterflies, because he's an "ardent butterfly lover".
"Uniforms have been stolen in the past for this kind of thing." An update on the investigation into the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008. (Previously)
"Don't you know the house, the Love God's marketplace of passions, the dusk where the dark clears and yet is not clear?" - Annamayya
Devadasi are women in southeastern India who were dedicated in their youth to the goddess Yellamma. When they reach puberty they are forced into sex work. Once they were women of high status, but now they've been relegated to the outskirts of society. The devadasi practice goes back a long way in history, and was once celebrated in poetry. When God Is a Customer, a collection of translated classical Telugu poems about the devadasi, is free to read online. Their modern life is described by William Dalrymple in The New Yorker and in a video interview with filmmaker Beeban Kidron which includes clips from her documentary Sex, Death and the Gods. The devadasi have been targeted by exploitative Western media for a long time, but have recently started to hit back, using the internet to disseminate their views.
Julia Sherman offers us a glimpse into the sheitel industry and the larger global hair trade. [more inside]
The Nation recently interviewed public intellectuals including Noam Chomsky, Bill McKibben (previously), and Dmity Orlov (previously) to produce a series of videos centered around Peak Oil and a Changing Climate. The first video, online now, combines all of the people interviewed while the videos yet to be released will be longer sections featuring them one at a time. [more inside]
Jingle Bells, gujarati/tamil style. A year ago or so, MTV India released two Christmas-themed bumpers/music-videos, each an animated rendition of the Xmas classic "Jingle Bells" in regional dialects and in regional musical styles: gujarati/tamil and punjabi. [more inside]
The Manganiyar Seduction "The Manganiyars are a group of hereditary professional folk musicians from Rajasthan, India.">
Back on August 15, 2010, Aesop Rock kicked off a sprawling collaboration effort, with input by 28 artists, with an eclectic collection of videos spanning from music videos to odd clips and a Kimya Dawson recording studio dance party, works by photographer Chrissy Piper, and lots of music, from unreleased tracks, remixes, and mixtapes. There's even a post about being manhandled by a nude model, written by the Dwarvs front-man Blag Dahlia. Going back to the beginning of the site, the second post was a collection of facts about bats, and the only obvious connection back to the tragic impetus for the title of this ongoing collaboration (900 bats) -- over 900 bats were torched to prevent disruption of work on the ongoing renovations of the historic Bala Quila (also spelled Bala Qila) fort in Alwar, Rajasthan, in north-eastern India. [more inside]
Take Back Yoga : A group of Indian-Americans have ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism. The campaign, labeled “Take Back Yoga,” does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism ... but only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.
Now in its fourth year, CNN Heroes highlights and rewards "Everyday People Changing the World." This year's Hero of the Year (chosen by public poll) is Anuradha Koirala, whose group Maiti Nepal has rescued more than 12,000 women and girls from sex slavery along the India / Nepal border since 1993. [more inside]
The border crossing at Wagah between India and Pakistan has long been host to one of the most bizarre rituals in diplomacy, one which draws massive crowds to witness its daily spectacle. Sadly, all good things come to an end.
Seasonal Poetry in Sanskrit : The blog Sanskrit Literature has been running an excellent series on plants that appear in sanskrit poetry. Some examples : Jasmine (malati), Lotuses and Water Lilies, Mango.
The newest and most exclusive residential tower for this city’s superrich is a cantilevered sheath of steel and glass soaring 27 floors into the sky. The parking garage fills six levels. Three helipads are on the roof. There are terraces upon terraces, airborne swimming pools and hanging gardens in a Blade Runner-meets-Babylon edifice overlooking India’s most dynamic city. There are nine elevators, a spa, a 50-seat theater and a grand ballroom. Hundreds of servants and staff are expected to work inside. And now, finally, after several years of planning and construction, the residents are about to move in. All five of them. [more inside]
The race is on: India by 2020, China by 2025 - will the US get there at all?
Professional ear cleaners are not always popular amongst backpackers in India. Few realize it's an ancient trade, passed down from father to son. It's also one that may be dying in the face of stiff competition from Q-tips and western medicine. How does one recognize an authentic professional ear cleaner? By his red skull cap, of course.
Abdul Karim Khan (1872-1937). Master Hindustani classical musician: Piya bin chain nahi aavat, Raag Natyageet, Bengali folk, Jamuna ke teer, Raag Bilawal
"This is your state! A big country like India is a slave to a small country like Britain. The Indian soldiers should be fighting for their freedom which can only be achieved if England is destroyed. You are only fighting to remain enslaved." A comprehensive account of WWII propaganda campaigns on all sides of the complicated relationship between Axis, Allies, and India. [more inside]
As part of National Geographic's Enduring Voices project, Gregory Anderson, K. David Harrison and Ganesh Murmu travelled to Arunachal Pradesh to document the Aka and Miji languages - and in the process, they found a previously undocumented language, Koro (not to be confused with Koro, Koro or Koro). The NG site has a video and gallery; you might also be interested in this interview given by Harrison to NPR, which includes a small audio selection of Koro words and phrases.
"IN THE COURTYARD OF THE BELOVED is a visual and aural portrait of Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, a Sufi shrine in New Delhi, India. Made from over 18,000 still images and ambient sounds recorded on-site, rapid-fire bursts of kaleidoscopic imagery assemble into fractured collages where a moment expands outwards and then converges back into itself, fleshing out a three-dimensional rendering of place."
He is a balding, middle-aged man with a paunch. "If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth." [more inside]
Europe according to... is a project to map stereotypes of European countries according to other countries and groups of people. [more inside]
Bollywood Radio, the classics l Top 40 Countdown, news, interviews, talk about the music scene in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam l Bonus links: Indian classical music on Radio Live365 and more.
"Every input in agriculture is a war chemical. Every agrichemical is a war chemical." Physicist Vandana Shiva on monoculture, agricultural imperialism, and protests in Delhi conscribed to the hours of 9-5. [more inside]
"Sure, Bono and Richard Branson can change the world. But there are millions of individuals making a difference who are not rich or famous." The Christian Science Monitor's ongoing Making a Difference section focuses on "that unheralded community – 'to honor the decency and courage and selflessness that surround us.'” [more inside]
The dhol has traditionally been played by men at Punjabi weddings and sufi shrines. Rani Taj, the first professional British-Kashmiri female dholi, trained by the Dhol Blasters and Azaad dhol, plays the dhol at public events.
"Michel de Montaigne, whose essays transformed Western consciousness and literature, was not capable of solving basic arithmetic problems. And most other people would not be able to do so either, if not for the invention of decimal notation by an unknown mathematician in India 1500 years ago." The Greatest Mathematical Discovery? (expanded pdf) a paper written for the US Dept. of Energy makes this assertion based in part on the work of Georges Ifrah. [via] [more inside]
Journeyman Pictures has uploaded nearly 4000 videos to YouTube. Many of these are trailers for the documentaries they sell, but they have also posted hundreds of full-length videos. Most are for short documentarie, but there are a lot of features too. It's somewhat daunting to explore, but the playlists are a good place to start, and so are the shows: Features, Shorts, News and Savouring Europe, a European travelogue series. Here's a few interesting ones: Gastronauts, about French culinary students working to make astronaut food more palatable, Demon Drummers, about student Kodo drummers, India's Free Lunch, about the effects of free school lunches on Indian society, The Twitter Revolution, about YouTube and Twitter's role in the 2009 Iranian uprising, Europe's Black Hole, about Transnistria, the breakaway region of Moldova, Small Town Boy, about a gay male carnival queen in a small town in England, The Vertigo of Lists, Umberto Eco talks about the ubiquity of lists in modern culture and Monsters from the Id, about scientists in the science fiction films of the Fifties.
The Indian government describes their electronic voting machines as 'perfect', but has never permitted an independant evaluation. A team of three academic researchers received access to a machine from an anonymous source, and demonstrated several flaws. Concerns are being expressed in India. At 5:30 this Saturday morning, police arrested Hari Prasad, one of the research team, at his home, transporting him to Mumbai. [more inside]
From 1945 to 1946, Leonard Rudoff served as Apprentice Seaman, 3rd Class on the troop transport USS Gen. H.F Hodge as it made its way to India, Egypt, NYC, and San Francisco. And he took photos along the way..[via mefi projects] [more inside]
An Indian laptop priced at just Rs.1,500 ($30) and touted as the world's cheapest will come as a godsend for students for whom it has been specifically designed. [more inside]
The Agnostic Cartographer : How Google’s open-ended maps are embroiling the company in some of the world’s touchiest geopolitical disputes.
Couples from Western countries, such as Australia, the US, and the UK are turning to surrogates in India to carry their babies. [more inside]
How do you survey a billion people? Since April 1, India has been conducting its 15th decennial census. Unlike in some countries, in India, the data for the census is still entirely collected by enumerators—2.7 million of them—who visit every residence in the country to count the people living there. [more inside]
The Bollywood film "Dear Friend Hitler" has lost its Hitler, Anupam Kher, due to protests from India's Jewish Community. The film was to focus on "Hitler's love for India and how he indirectly contributed to Indian independence...to capture the personality of Adolf Hitler and his insecurities, his charisma and his paranoia during the last few days of his life." Westerners may be puzzled by the project's flippancy towards its subject, but knowledge of the Holocaust is relatively slim in India, where Mein Kampf is a best-seller supposedly lumped in with Who Moved My Cheese. While Hitler may have lent some wispy nominal support to India's independence movement, the fact is most of the people who tried to draw a connection between Hitler's fortunes and that of India were just plain loons. [more inside]
The final report of the bombing of Air India flight 182 from Canada in 1985 has been released. Turns out the Mounties, and others, are to blame.
M-Pesa, the mobile platform based money transfer system launched by Safaricom in Kenya, is changing the landscape of money in Africa, and around the world. Competition is heating up even while the service expands internationally allowing transactions to occur between Africa, UK and Asia. Bankers, regulators, startups and operators all want a piece of the pie as even the phone manufacturers themselves get into this potentially lucrative business.