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Archive for May, 2016

May
25
2016

Little girls rejoice! India will be sending its first female gymnast to the Olympics! Dipa Karmakar hails from the tiny state of Tripura, and she’s a medal contender in Rio.

Watch this amazing video about Dipa:

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May
23
2016

One of the largest railway networks in the world is set to launch a trial run of its first solar-powered passenger train. The trial run is set to take place at the end of this month in Jodhpur – with each coach having 12 panels fitted on the top. Indian Railways hopes to have 10% of its total energy consumption met by renewable energy by 2020.

Go India!

But this begs the question: will there be no more Bollywood song and dance atop trains?

Do note, the UNESCO heritage Himalayan Queen was the first solar charged heritage train in the world back in 2012.

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May
16
2016
Celebrity Dosas
Author: Gnaana

It’s called the Chiru Dosa – apparently a fluffy, zero-oil, steamed dosa “created by” legendary Telugu actor Chiranjeevi. (Note, however, it seems from the reports that Chiranjeevi wasn’t actually slaving away in the kitchen – he directed his chefs to actually work out the details. We’re just saying…).

The story doesn’t just end there – Chiranjeevi didn’t just name a dosa after himself – his son Ram Charan presented a patent application of the dosa to his father at his 60th birthday bash.

Need we comment?

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May
11
2016
Scrabble Fever
Author: Gnaana

It seems that we South Asians are moving beyond The Spelling Bee to another format of word play: Scrabble. Did you know:

1- Desi, Devi, Dosa, Barfi, Halwa, Bhindi, and Bhaji are all now words in the official dictionary for the World English Language Scrabble Player’s Association.

2- India has its very own Scrabble Association of India, and competitive, intense Scrabble classes are now “a thing” among urban elite who want their kids to gain word recognition and vocabulary.

3- The India vs. Pakistan rivalry IS ON: Pakistan has produced a World Champion in Scrabble, and several other players in the world’s Top 10, and India is hungry to match its neighbor. For more on this rivalry, and India’s training efforts, see here.

image via Houzz

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May
9
2016

If you’ve been following the debate over the proposed changes to the way California portrays Indian history in its textbooks, you’ll know that this is an important week. The California State Board of Education takes its final vote on the issue this Wednesday and Thursday. The stakes are high, as the changes are expected to influence textbooks in other states as well. After all, California is one of the largest textbook markets in the United States.

At the heart of the matter is replacing many current references to “India” with “South Asia,” and referring to Hinduism as “the religion of Ancient India.” Although Gnaana won’t take sides, you can read for yourself the proposed changes in this handy chart. Some changes may seem benign, some silly, and some just plain infuriating – which ones fall into which category? You be the judge.

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May
2
2016
May Flowers
Author: Gnaana

Kids: Can you name these 6 flowers? We picked these 6 flowers because of their strong connection to India. Let’s learn a little about them!

1. Jasmine – Jasminum sambac

It’s not just the name of Aladdin’s sweetheart. This flower is also known as the “Belle of India” and the “Queen of flowers.”  It’s native to India, and its fragrance is synonymous with the country. There are over 100 varieties of jasmine, and its season can stretch up to 10 months. Jasmine flowers are worn by women and girls in their hair, used to decorate rangoli, and sometimes used to flavor tea.

2. Marigold – Calendula officinalis

Although marigolds are staple flowers in India – especially at weddings and festival – this flower was actually introduced into India by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It is one of the most cultivated flower in India, with Calcutta being the hub of production.

3. Hibiscus – Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

These tropical flowers are commonly found in household gardens. It is said that the red hibiscus brings good luck. Hibiscus flowers are also used in Hindu prayers – as an offering to Lord Ganesha or the Goddess Kali.

4. Himalayan Blue Poppy – Meconopsis betonicifolia

This flower has quite a story. The rare blue color is so prized that an English botanist named Francis Kingdon-Ward spent nearly 50 years of life in the region, and his crowning achievement was that he was the first to collect viable seeds of this flower. Later, more blue poppy seedpods were collected by George Leigh Mallory in 1922 during a failed attempt at climbing Mt. Everest (he died, but the seeds made their way back to England)!

5. Lotus – Nelumbo nucifera

How can words describe the beauty and symbolism of India’s National Flower? This flower of the gods is also sliced, salted, fried, and eaten as a side dish.

6. Kanakambaram – Crossandra infundibuliformis

Commonly referred to as the “firecracker flower,” kanakambaram is native to South India. The beautiful orange-apricot shade of this flower is hard to replicate. They are often paired with jasmine flowers and worn by women and girls in their hair.

 

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