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Monday, November 26, 2007

Saanjha Virsa PunjabiaaN Da (The Shared Heritage of Punjabis) - II

The Advanced Centre for Technical Development of Punjabi language, Literature and Culture of the Punjabi University, Patiala, has released two utilities, one of which is meant for transliteration from the Gurmukhi script to the Shahmukhi script, while the other is meant for transliteration from Shahmukhi to Gurmukhi.

The latter is still in the beta stage of development, however.

For the uninitiated, the Punjabi language is mostly written in the Gurmukhi script, in the Indian part of Punjab, whereas, the Shahmukhi script is mainly used for that purpose in the Pakistani part of Punjab.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yet another tag...

I have been tagged yet again. So, let us get down to business, without much ado.

Here we go:

1. Name one person that made you laugh last night?

General Pervez Musharraf. He told me "a joke of the highest order"!

2. What are you doing at 8:00am, generally?

Usually, I am fast asleep, or, at least, that is the way it has been for the past year and a half or so.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?

I was reading the newspaper, while sipping from a mug of hot milk.

4. What happened to you in 2006?

A lot of things, including unemployment.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?

The lyrics of a Hindi movie song, while there was no one at home.

6. How many beverages did you have today?

None. I do not consume any beverages, including tea and coffee, on a regular basis and do not consume alchohol at all.

7. What color is your hairbrush?


8. What was the last thing you paid for?

I paid for petrol, for my motorcycle.

9. Where were you last night?

I was at home.

10. What color is your front door?


(11 is missing from original list)

12. What is the weather like today?

It is bright and sunny.

13. What is the best ice-cream flavour?

Vanilla, with hot chocolate sauce.

14. What excites you?

Different things, at different points of time...

15. Do you want to cut your hair?

No, I am a practising Sikh and intend to remain that way.

16. Are you over the age of 25?

Yes. I am 32, to be precise.

17. Do you talk a lot?

I do, but only with a few people. Most of those who have come across me, know me as an introvert.

18. Do you watch the O.C.?

I have no idea as to what that might be.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven?

Well, not personally...

20. Do you make up your own words?

Not too often...

21. Are you a jealous person?

I used to be.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’:


23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’:


24. Who is the first person on your received call list?

My cousin.

25. What does the last text message you received say?

It says something about passing the message on to ten people or being unlucky for a long time to come.

26. Do you chew on your straw?

No, I do not.

27. Do you have curly hair?

No, I do not.

28. Where is the next place you are going to?

I have no idea.

29. Who is the rudest person in your life?

I suppose that would have to be me (and, no, I do not mean to copy the answer of the one who tagged me!).

30. What was the last thing you ate?

Daal (Lentil-soup) and Roti (Chapatti).

31. Will you get married in the future?

I do not know. I have been unmarried so far.

32. Which is the best movie you have seen in the past 2 weeks?

Mission Impossible III

(33. missing too)

34. When was the last time you did the dishes?

It was a few months ago.

35. Are you currently depressed?


36. Did you cry today?


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Southwards bound: Goan architecture

I had heard and read that Goa has a number of beautiful churches dating back to the colonial era, when the state and some of its surrounding areas were ruled by the Portuguese. I found this to be true when my family and I took a conducted tour of North Goa. The best in terms of architectural splendour, perhaps, is the Basilica of Bom Jesus or the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier.

However, a fact that I had not known of before and one that I realised almost as soon as the train entered Goan territory was that among the most beautiful specimens of architecture, which is nearly ubiquitous in the state, is the Goan villa. Besides the sloping, khaprail (tiles made of clay) roofs, my attention was caught by the ornate glass doors and windows that had designs that were distinctly European (as can be seen in the photograph posted above, which was taken by my brother) and unlike any I had seen elsewhere in India, even in colonial-era buildings. Apparently, the British style of construction in India was much at variance with that of the Portuguese.

The hotel that we stayed in, was located at Panjim. I was glad to find out that several villas there, each of which must have been more than a hundred years old, were still inhabited by descendants of the original owners. Many of them, however, had carried out renovations that included replacement of the original doors and windows with those of the bland, contemporary type. I do wish that this could have been avoided and the houses maitained in pristine state.

One such structure in Loutolim, however, has been preserved for more than 200 years and is open to visitors, in return for a small fee. The place is owned by the sixth generation of the man who built it. Even as they no longer live there, the place is well-maintained and still has the original furniture and fittings. Without the help of the guide that we hired, it might actually have been difficult to understand the utility of several items in the house.

Additionally, pieces of old construction that attracted my attention in Panjim included quaint benches built into the walls along the boundaries of parks and even on some bridges across little streams flowing through the town, besides pieces of sculpture that appeared to be made of porcelain and were part of the fountains in the parks.

Even as I come to know, every now and then, about politicians selling off pieces of Goan land to land-sharks, I do hope very fervently that the immensely valuable Goan architectural heritage shall continue to be preserved for posterity.