Sunday, 25 March 2018

கிளிவாழை கவிதைகள்

Helionica - கிளிவாழை 

திரு மோகன் ஹரிஹரனும் அவர் மனைவி திருமதி சித்ரா ஹரிஹரனும் மூன்று வருடமாய் எனக்கு நண்பர்கள். தமிழ் பாரம்பரிய அறக்கட்டளை 2015 ஜனவரியில் நடத்திய தென்பாண்டி நாட்டு கலை உலாவிற்கு மோகன் வந்தார். அவர் ஒரு கட்டடகலை வல்லுனர் (ஆர்க்கிடெக்ட் – ஸ்தபதி எனலாமா?), புகழ்பெற்ற ஆர்க்கிடெக்ட திரு ஸ்ரீநிவாசனின் மாணவர்.

திரு சுதர்சனமும் அவர் மனைவி கீதாவும் கிட்டத்தட்ட அதே காலம் பழக்கம். இருவருக்கும் மரபுக்கவிதை புலவர்கள். ஆசுகவிகள். 2014ல் முகநூலில் நண்பர் வி.கே.ஸ்ரீநிவாசன் பகிர்ந்த படத்தை ரசித்து ஒரு கவிதை எழுதினேன். அதை இருவரும் மிகவும் ரசித்தனர். ஆயிரம் கவிதை எழுதும் புலவர்கள் நாலைந்து கவிதைகள் எழுதுபவனின் கவிதையை ரசித்தால் என்ன செய்யலாம்? திளைத்தேன், திளைக்கின்றேன்.

கீதாவும் சுதர்சனமும் சித்ரா மோகன் தம்பதியர் இல்லத்தில் விருந்துண்ண சென்று, தோட்டத்தில் கிளிவாழை பூவைக்காண, கீதா இந்த கவிதையை இயற்றினார்

கிளிவாழைக்கு பொய் வாழை என்றும் பெயர். ஆங்கிலத்தில் ஹெலிகோனியா. 

கிளிவாழை – கீதாவின் அறிவியல் குறிப்பு இந்தப் பூவுக்கு மணம் கிடையாது. அதனால் எல்லாப் பூச்சிகளையும், பறவைகளையும் கவர்வதில்லை. இதனால் மகரந்தம் வீணாகாமல் தடுக்கப் படுகிறதாம். இந்தக் காம்பிதழுக்குள் பத்திரமாக இருக்கும் பூக்கள், தேன் நிறைந்த நீண்ட மகரந்தக் குழலின் அமைப்பு ஆகியவை Humming birds (தாரிச் சிட்டு, தும்பிச் சிட்டு) களுக்காகவே பிரத்யேகமாக உள்ளவை போல் அமைக்கப் பட்டுள்ளனவாம். எனவே மகரந்தச் சேர்க்கை பெரும்பாலும் ஹம்மிங் பேர்ட்ஸ் களால் நிகழ்கிறது என்கிறார்கள். சில வகைப் பூக்களில் வௌவாலாலும் நிகழ்கிறது. மோகன்ஜி வீட்டில் தாரிச்சிட்டுகள் வருகின்றனவா என்று அவர்தான் சொல்ல வேண்டும்.

கீதாவின் கவிதை
(கலிவிருத்தம் -----மா மா மா மா)
வாழை யிலைநீ; வான்புள் ளிலையே;
வாழை யூடாய் வளர்ப்போர் வளர,
பேழை பொதித்துப் பிறப்பைப் பேணும்
ஊழி முதல்வன் உருவம் நீயே!
பொழிப்புரை
பொய்வாழை என்னும் பெயருடையதால் வாழை இல்லை நீ.
False birds of paradise என்னும் பெயரால் வான் புள்ளும் இல்லை நீ (வான் சுவர்க்கம், paradise புள்=பறவை )
பிரளயக் காலத்தில், மீண்டும் உயிர்கள் உயிர்க்கத் தேவையானவற்றை படகில் வைத்துக் (மச்சாவதாரத்தில்) காப்பாற்றிய திருமால் போன்று, இந்த மலரின் bracts எனப்படும் பேழை வடிவில் இருக்கும் காம்பிதழுக்குள் பொதித்து உயிரணுவைக் காத்து, இந்தஇனம் தழைக்கவும், இதை ஊடு பயிராய் வளர்க்கும் விவசாயிகள் வளர்ச்சிக்கு உதவி, அவர்கள் வாழ்வாதாரத்தைப் பேணியும் காத்தல் தொழில் செய்யும் நீ அந்த ஊழி முதல்வனின் உருவமே!
(இப்போது பார்த்தால் மீன் உருவம் போலவும் தோன்றுகிறது).
[பொழிப்புரை முடிந்தது]

தமிழில் அறிவியல் கவிதைகள் என்ற முகநூல் குழுவை நான் தொடங்க, சுதர்சனமும் சில நண்பர்களும் அதில் கவிதைகள் சேர்த்தனர். ஆனால் அக்குழு செழிக்கவில்லை, கவிதை மணமோ அறிவியல் மணமோ நுகரா சிலர் ஏதேதோ எழுத, அக்குழு செயலற்று கிடக்கிறது. அதனால் அறிவியலும் அழகியலும் ததும்பிய கீதாவின் இக்கவிதையை மிகவும் ரசித்து நானும் ஒரு கவிதை எழுதினேன்.

இன்று மீண்டும் முகநூலில் வந்ததால், வலைப்பூவில் சேர்க்கிறேன்.
முன்பு விகே ஸ்ரீநிவாசனின் படத்தில் ஆம்பல் மலரை உதயசூரியனாய் கண்டேன். கிளிவாழையில் யாகத்தீயை கண்டேன்.

கோபுவின் கவிதை
மோகனம் நாறுமோ சித்திரம் நாறுமோ
மோகக் கிளிவாழை மகரந்தம் நாறுமோ
யாகத்தீ மணமோ கீதை தமிழ்த்தீயில்
வேகும் நெய்மணமோ விளக்கிச் சொல்லாழி

பொழிப்புரை
மோகனம், சித்திரம் மணக்குமா? இல்லை. ஆனால் அவர்கள் சமைத்தால் சாதித்தால் கைமணக்கும். மகரந்தம் பொதுவாக மணக்கும். ஆனால் கிளிவாழை மகரந்தம் மணக்காதாம். யாகத்தீ போல் சிவப்பும் மஞ்சளும் வீச கதிர்விடும் கிளிவாழையிலிருந்து யாகத்தீ போல் மணம் வருமோ? இல்லை கீதாவின் தமிழ்தான் அதில் நெய் போல் மணக்குமோ

சுதர்சனம் என்ற ஆழி தான் சொல்லவேண்டும்

சுதர்சனத்தின் முதல் கவிதை
பாட்டனிக்குப் போலி மயிற்கொன்றை பற்றிநல்
பாட்டினிக்கத் தந்தார், படித்து
பொழிப்புரை
நன்கு படித்து, (ஆராய்ச்சி செய்து), போலி மயிற்கொன்றை என்னும்
தாவரத்தைப் பற்றி, இனிக்க ஒரு பாட்டு, botany-க்காகத் தந்தார்

சுதர்சனத்தின் இரண்டாம் கவிதை
(கலித்துறை மா காய் காய் காய் காய்)
மணக்கா மோகனமும் சித்திரமும் மணக்குமவர் சாதிக்க;
மணக்கா மயிற்கொன்றை மகரந்தம்; மணக்குந்தான் மற்றெல்லாம்:
மணக்கா சிவந்தமஞ்சள் கிளிமலர்ப்பூ மறையவர்த்தீ போலிருந்தும்

கணக்காய்ப் பாட்டெழுதும் தமிழ்நெய்யோ, கீதாவின்? ஆழிநீசொல்!

சுதர்சனம் சிறப்பாக பாடுவார். மல்லை பல்லவன் கல்வெட்டை சஹானா ராகத்திலும், மகாவீரரின் கணித வாழ்த்தை கமாஸ் ராகத்திலும் பாடியுள்ளார்.

மோகன் ஹரிஹரனின் ஆரணி உரை இங்கே

தொடர்புடைய பதிவுகள்
எடிசன் வாழ்த்து – அறிவியல் 
சலைவன் வாழ்த்து  – குறிஞ்சி, அறிவியல் 

அசோகத்தூண்கண்டெடுத்த காதை (சுதர்சனம் கவிதை

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz


Bertha and Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler
Portrait : New Indian Express

James Watt watched a tea kettle boil, and built a steam engine. This is what we read in school. But England imported tea from China; the Chinese have boiled tea for a thousand years before the English. Why didn’t some Chinese James Watt invent the steam engine?

Karl Benz built the first petrol engine car in Germany, a hundred years after Watt. Nobody boils tea in petrol, so what inspired Karl Benz?

From Steam to Petrol

James Watt’s steam engine, was NOT inspired by a tea kettle, but by earlier steam engines by Thomas Savery and William Newcomen. But theirs were inefficient engines – Watt’s major breakthrough took twenty years of hard work and several incremental improvements, mainly in measuring devices. His crucial breakthrough was an external condenser. Watt’s stationary engine, powered cotton mills and mechanical presses in the 1780s. The railway steam engine, was invented forty years later by Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson in the 1820s. In the intervening period, scientists discovered several laws of  heat and power – the field of thermodynamics. Petroleum was discovered only in the 1850s. But it was primarily used for lighting lamps or stoves.

But some tinkering engineers saw great potential in petrol, as a substitute for steam engines. Coal was hard to mine, slow to ignite, difficult and dirty to handle and caused a lot of smoke and grime; petrol on the other hand, flowed from oil wells, could be stored in tanks, flowed through pipes and had a much lower ignition point.

The Engine

The petrol engine was invented by Nikolaus Otto, a travelling salesman for a food company! He had been inspired by an engine designed by Lenoir that ran on coal gas; Otto experimented with a copy of a Lenoir engine that another skilled mechanic built for him in 1861. He created an engine fueled with an alcohol air mixture. Eugen Langen, owner of a sugar refinery, invested in a new company that  Otto started, and he built an improved engine. At the 1867 Paris exhibition, his engine won the first prize. He expanded this company, reorganized as Gasmotorenfabrik Deutz AG. This was not a car engine, but more like a mechanical power device for workshops, like printing presses.

Otto hired Gottlieb Daimler and William Maybach to improve it; they made it smaller, quieter, more efficient. But when Daimler proposed fitting Otto’s engine to power a horseless carriage, Otto showed no interest.

Horseless Carriages

So Daimler and Maybach quit Otto’s company in 1882, rented a house in Canstatt and started a car company. Daimler experimented, first fitting a bicycle with a petrol engine – the world’s first motorbike, called the Motoren Gesselschaft. Daimler’s seventeen year old son Paul test drove it – the ultimate teenager fantasy!

This public demonstration provoked amazement and curiosity. But a local newspaper, Canstatt Zeitung was quite critical, calling it a “repugnant diabolical device, dangerous to citizens.” Paul test drove the bike at nights, in secret. He even replaced the front wheel with a skid, and drove it on a frozen lake!

Offended by media criticism, but not discouraged, Daimler then tested the engine on a boat. He disguised it with wires to pretend it was electric. After it proved successful, he revealed he had used a petrol engine!

In 1886, for his wife Emma’s birthday he ordered a magnificent horse carriage – delivered secretly at night. He planned to build a car, with that carriage.

Ringing in a New Era
Parallely, in Mannheim, a nearby city, Karl Benz tried to build a petrol engine. His earlier business failed. But his wife Bertha had great faith in him and her dowry was useful for his experiments. After many failures, he successfully ran a stationary two stroke petrol engine on the last day of 1879.  In his own words:

After supper my wife said, “Let us go over to the shop and try our luck once more.” My heart was pounding. I turned the crank. The engine started to go “put-put-put”, and the music of the future sounded with regular rhythm. We both listened to it run for a full hour, fascinated, never tiring of the single tone of its song. The longer it played its note, the more sorrow and anxiety it conjured away from the heart. Suddenly the bells began to ring – New Years Eve bells. We felt they were not just ringing in a new year, but a new era.

He mounted his engine on a three wheel carriage, calling it the Benz Patent Motorwagen. The local newspaper Mannheimer Zeitung attacked Benz’s idea calling it, “useless, ridiculous, indecent. Who would buy it when there are horses for sale?” But in 1885 he drove the Motorwagen on the streets and it became a sensation! But not many people actually bought his Motorwagen.

Bertha’s Benzene Yatra

Bertha, Karl’s wife is the great romantic heroine of what followed. In August 1888, one morning, she asked her fifteen year old son Eugen “Can you drive it?” 

The right answer was “No, mother, my Dad put an engine with a steering rod on a horse carriage. Nobody knows how to drive it.” 

But Eugen said, “Of course!” 

With Eugen’s brother Richard, the family drove to visit Bertha’s family in Pforzheim. There were no petrol bunks then. So they refueled with benzene, sold at apothecaries (pharmacies!). Bertha fixed a short circuit in the engine, with her hairpin. Eugen repaired the chains when they slipped. Karl was annoyed, but when Germans realized that a mother and children could safely drive a car a hundred km, they became national celebrities. Bertha’s drive is as famous in Germany as Gandhi’s Dandi yatra is in India.

Teenage drivers, dowry money, media critics, a daring cross country journey, ushering in a new era – sounds like a mega serial, but this is real history!

Shoulders of Giants

Darwin and Wallace, independently discovered evolution while living on different continents; Wallace’s letter to Darwin forced the latter to publish; after this they became friends and mutual admirers. Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler independently invented the petrol based car, but never met each other, even though they lived in the same country! Oddly, several years after Daimler died, the companies they started would merge as Daimler-Benz.

But they shared history, by standing on the shoulders of giants who came before them. Otto’s engine, was inspired by Lenoir, who  was inspired by James Watt, who was inspired by Newcomen and Savery!

Note Today, March 17 is Gottlieb Daimler's birthday. This essay was originally published in New Indian Express under the title Changing History's Gears as part of a series about scientists.

If you liked this essay, you might also like reading these

How Diesel and Benz changed agriculture
The Art and Aesthetic of Driving 
Emile Levassor - architect of the car

Monday, 5 March 2018

The Parsis of Chennai


I attended an excellent, informative, sweeping, humorous lecture on the Parsis of Chennai, by Tehnaz Bahadurji, on March 4, 2015, under the auspices of INTACH, at Alliance Francaise in Chennai. I posted this on Facebook, but not yet in my blog. Here are my notes.

For context,  Iran is modern Persian word for Arriana (Land of Aryans). Pars is a town in Iran, which gave them the name Persians - like the word Madrasis used by North Indians collectively for South Indians. The Iranians consider themselves Aryans - as a race. Parsis are Iranians of Zorastrian religion who refused to convert to Islam when Iran was conquered by Arabs in the 7th century. Some Zorastrians stayed in Iran, the group that sought refuge in and settled in Gujarat were called Parsis. A later group of Zoroastrian Iranians immigrated to India in the last few centuries, and they are called Iranis.

Sheer pride in the accomplishments of the Parsis through history, especially in the last two hundred years shone through. So did the wistful longing for good times gone past and a community fading as rapidly as the credibility of opinion polls. Only about 60000 (Sixty thousand) remain in India today - the Government of India has a special program attempting to increase their population. (Let's just say that Parsis still are doing better than original natives of the Andaman Islands.)

Dadabhai Naoroji and Feroz Gandhi were the only politicians she named. Apparently Parsis do better in business. And law. And the military. And sports. And social service. And hoteliering. And...

Names of industrialists like Tata, Wadia, Godrej, lawyers of distinction Nani Palkivala, Fali Nariman, the much beloved Field Marshal Manekshaw, cricketers Farokh Engineer, Polly Umrigar, Nari Contractor, the Iranis and the Screwvalas of the cinema world were all mentioned. Haridas, the superhit Tamil movie of the 1940s, starring the first superstar of Tamil cinema, MK Thyagaraja Bagavathar which ran for three Deepavalis, was produced by a Parsi!

She covered everything from the origins in Persia with the prophet Zarathushtra, their holy text, the Zend Avesta, the first monotheistic religion with their God Ahura Mazda, the three basic principles :
Humata - good thoughts,
Hukta - good words,
Huvarashta - good deeds,
the Navjoth ceremony and its attendant costumes, rituals, feasting and drinking, the emigration of a large group of Parsis to Gujarat, the legend of sugar in milk, the Parsi love for food - with strong and repetitive emphasis on their irrepressible carnivorous tastes. The thread ceremony - Navjoth - is for both boys and girls. Also, with beer mutton and chicken served afterwards, the feast is quite different from Hindu functions. Their "gathas" and "Avesta" their holy books in the Avestan language are only understood by a small minority.

Then she moved on to their arrival in Chennai, the contributions of Mary Clubwala Jadhav, a very active socialite and philanthropist of the early 20th century, and the centenary celebration of the Chennai fire temple with President Abdul Kalam as chief guest.

Most remarkable to me was her mention that Cyrus Poonawala heads Serum Institute of India, whose products vaccinate two-thirds of all children in the world! That is indeed astounding.

Thank you, marvelous Parsis. May your tribe increase.

Related Blogs
Ravichandar Krishnamurthy on Zoroastrian religion
Like Sugar in Milk The Legend
Like Sugar in Milk – a Goodreads Book Review

Like Sugar in Milk – link in Amazon.com


Madras Blogs
Robert Caldwell - discoverer of Munda language family
Francis Whyte Ellis - discoverer of Dravidian language family
An Englishman's Tamil inscription

Friday, 2 March 2018

Political Situation in Nepal



These are my notes from a lecture by Kanak Mani Dixit at Roja Muthiah Library, Taramani, Chennai on March 1, 2018. His talk was titled “Nepal turns a corner

-----
The priest of Pashupathinath temple is a Namboodiri. The soldiers in Nepal are called Telinga. The Karnataka people have a strong connection to Nepal. The Nepalis left to various parts of India and became Gorkhas in Indian and British armies.
The rath yathra of Katmandu makes the Puri rath yathra look staid in comparison. The murthi Matsyendranath is from Kamarupa, is also called by Bundeo and has another name associated with Vajrayana Buddhism.
Nepal is deeply connected to India, more so to the south than the Gangetic plain. There is very little trade now between India and Tibet via Kathmandu but it used to be high volume.
Jesuit priest Ludwig Steller in his book Silent Cry, listed the exploitation of Nepal by Katmandu government and resultant poverty. Ranas and British became richer, but people became poorer. But Nepal maintained autonomy as princely state.
Jang Bahadur in 1800 went to London, his portrait is central in the hall of Indian Potentates in the India Office library. He supported British in 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, but allowed refuge for Nana Sahib and Begum Hazrat (??) as a way of displaying his autonomy.
Koiralas fought with Indian freedom fighters, went to prison with Rajendra Prasad, hoping to overthrow the Ranas, which was only possible if British were overthrown. After 1947, Koirala had a chat with Nehru, when he realized he was no longer talking to a fellow freedom fighter but to a Prime Minister
First election in 1959. Nepal has altitudinal diversity which no other countries have. And this affects its polity. It has the ravines of Afghanistan and the forests of Vietnam.
Koirala had the most inclusive cabinet, but he was overthrown by king Mahendra in a coup supported by the army, then exiled.
In nineties, when the Maoists realized they were getting no support at the voting booth, they exploited the romantic delusions of the youth, and brought in physical violence never seen in Nepal’s history. Local government was killed off. Army was violent by day, Maoists by night. In earlier eras, murders were confined to the courts.
After the formation of republic, GP Koirala gave Maoists equal seats as formal communists UML. Maoists never picked up gun against monarchy, only against democratic government. They were more opportunists rather than fighters. The gora sahibs, western activists, entered under UN auspices, and turned every Nepali who could speak a few sentences in English into a consultant. The Maoists try to impose a North Korean style constitution for a while.
Maoists and Dalits were funded, so there was a functioning workshop and seminar economy for them, but the Madhesis were totally ignored. And they rose up against that neglect.
Nepal had not suffered partition and 1971 and such trauma as India or Bangladesh, but all of it telescoped from 1996-now. Insurgency, foreign intervention, Communal tension, blockades, economic hardship, earthquakes.
Largest community in Nepal is Hill Kshatris sixteen percent, next is hill Brahmins is twelve percent. All are micro communities, so no serious communal violence. Nepal has both castes and ethnic groups, and castes within the ethnic groups.
I think Nepal has turned a corner, but I have said that before, many times, and been wrong, so you can take it with a pinch of salt.

My blogs on Politics

Gurumurthy on Demonetization
Marriages and Divorces – some statistics
Margaret Thatcher – in memoriam

Some other lecture notes

Science

Manjul Bharagava on Sanskritam and Mathematics

Economics

Literature

Siddharthan book on Samrat Asoka

Law

Experiences of a lawyer and judge