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A new history blog

I am happy to announce a new blog, The Palm Leaf, devoted to Indian History, hosted here at varnam.org. From now, the regular blog will cover current issues whereas time travel will be done in the history blog. This new blog has been initialized with all the history posts from the original blog.

The word, Palm Leaf, was chosen as it was a popular medium of writing in India for almost two thousand years. Letters were written on a dried, smoothed, smoke treated leaves of palm trees using a stylus. These were then blackened with vegetable juice and lamp black. This site hopes to be the electronic version of those palm leaves.

Even though the tagline says, A look at India’s Past, I don’t plan to cover each and every topic related to our history. So you will not see much mythology or discussions of various religious texts. Instead there will be archaeological news, coverage of development of language, and information on people, places and monuments. There will be more posts about the Mauryan empire, Saraswathi-Sindu civilization and Kerala due to my current interest in those areas.

On the technical side, the new blog runs Movable Type 3.2 with dynamic publishing. This means that only the main page has a physical existence. Rest of the pages are created on the fly based on the request. The style of the new blog is the same as the old one, but it will be changed soon.

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On Vacation

We are in Vancouver & Victoria, Canada for vacation for a week. Blogging will resume on Monday.

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Yanni Again

Yanni is on tour again and this time I saw him in San Jose. It was the same as last year, but an amazing performance as usual.

If he is visiting your city, don’t miss it.

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Dave Barry taking timeout

Starting next year, Dave Barry will not be writing his weekly columns. He is taking an indefinite leave of absence from Miami Herald.

”I’ve never not had a column in a week in all of 30 years, even when I went on vacation,” Barry said. ‘At some point I said, ‘Well, maybe it’ll be OK to not do it for a while.’ And I didn’t want to wait until I hated it and I didn’t want to wait until I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got no more columns to write.’ ”[Dave Barry will take a timeout]

His columns will definitely be missed.

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Shankar, Gingger, Zakir and Sivamani

Last night I attended a concert by Shankar, Gingger, Zakir Hussain and Shivamani and it was one of the best music performances I attended (The others being, Amjad Ali Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, A R Rahman and Yanni).

  • The program which was to start at 5 PM started at 6 PM. At 5 PM the gates were not even open, which means the artistes probably woke up at that time and said “Ghosh! we have a show to do”
  • Even though the show started late, they did not have time to adjust the audio system, and so Shankar and Zakir Hussain were giving instructions to the audio control guys while performing. At one point I thought Shankar would fling his double violin at guy at the controls.
  • The first part was about 45 mins followed by a 1 hr intermission when the artistes probably went to sleep again. But the last 90 mins was just awesome.
  • I had seen Sivamani in two A R Rahman stage programs, but here there was a solo performance by him in which he produced sounds from almost anything he would lay his hands on. But then there was no connection between the various sounds he was producing. It would jump from one rhythm to another without any smooth transision.
  • This was followed by a solo performance by Zakir Hussain and then you know why he is called Ustad. I never knew such varied sounds could come from a tabala. He knows to work the crowd and is an entertainer.
  • Finally, the number of standing ovations: Zakir Hussain: 2, Sivamani: 1, Shankar and Gingger: 0.
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