Saturday, January 26, 2013

World History - Black Death and Aftermath!

Well.. I started my venture into the world of history with Coursera I must recommend this for all who are in quest for knowledge. A Good beginning for me but not so good end; December work pressure and holidays didn't allow me the complete it. Nevertheless I gained a lot of knowledge and got drawn more into history, which I felt very boring during my school days!!

Posting a few essays I have written under this section and these represent only my views.
Black death is one of the most devastating events in the human history which occurred around during 13th century and is believed to be have its origins in Central Asia and or China and spread it wings to europe via silk route.  this post attempts to explain What changed, and what survived, as a result of the plagues and disasters of the fourteenth-century in Afro-Eurasia?

The Triumph of Death : A painitng Source Wiki
The event of Black Death was indeed a milestone in the world history and has definitely played an important role in shaping the events that defined the world after math. Of course this event would have been an influence to many such events, but I would limit here to a few such events for the scope of this assignment.
Power Vacuum and rise of Ming Dynasty in China: With the barbaric Mangols controlling the entire silk route and Mongolian rule being at its peak before the Black Death, people would have felt better as their rule ended with this dramatic event. This would have also made sure that there is enough void and vacuum created in China for political and military power. As the history goes, ethnic Han Chinese seized this opportunity to liberate China which was under control of non-ethnic Mangols. The Ming dynasty is described by some as 'one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history' [5].

Transportation: With the silk route falling under the most affected zones of Black Death, it would have probably necessitated the need of exploring other forms of the trade route. The desire of directly trading with China and perhaps India, and the disadvantages of travelling by land, the limited consignments that one can carry over the land, the risk and rewards especially after Black Death probably explains the sea voyages that we witness after the Black Death. Necessity is the mother of invention; I would rather believe that this event in the history of the world was a catalyst for new inventions and explorations.

Economic benefits: The deaths of such a size and magnitude with some countries losing 40% of their population [4] would have definitely caused shortage of labor in a hugely agrarian and merchant based economy. The abandoned fields would have been an opportunity for many of those who survived, the wars would have taken a break which would have ensured some peace and stability for some time, the surviving labor force could have demanded more wages, thereby increasing in spending. Collectively above factors could have contributed in rise of capitalism, urbanization and industrialization [2].

Effect on India: Surprisingly, Indian history doesn’t recognize this event of Black Death in a significant manner or at least I haven’t come across those since my school age. But even though the Mangol Invaders in the form of Timur the Lame plundered India and her cities, but it was Timur's great great grandson Babur later in the 1526 founded the Mughal Dynasty in India, who were to most stable rules of Pre-British era in India [7].

Survival of the fittest as the phrase goes in the biological evolutionary theory: With a near wipe out of mankind with most populated, traded route in the world the ones who survived were arguably stronger, had more resistance and were probably the fittest. To put it simply they had the genes that could endure this. And as per the general Darwinian philosophies, it would have helped mankind to evolve further with the best of the available genes, which in turn helped to build a better human race in the long run. The events we see such as Rise of Ming dynasty, Renaissance in Europe are mere testimonials of the race that was left out were more intellectually capable beings who were taking the world towards a better future

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Random Musings

Just like that yesterday
Called my old pals
Who were my kith and kin
Through my thick and thin

It was just for fun
Some I had forgotten,
Some I didn't talk to
For an year or ten

All of us were lost
In our own worlds
due the paths
that we have chosen

I felt joyous
After the talk
For going back
To those years of fun

It was as if
I had discovered the old ways
Of having fun!
I Only wish, If we kind-a
Go back very often!

Penned this down after I talked to some of my old pals after many years, but what's really good about a 'good' friendship is even though you are speaking with your friends after so many years, you will just pick up from whereever you have left and just continue to talk and keep talking!!!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Season's Greetings

 Wishing you all a Merry X'Mas and Fabulous 2013.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Around the Sound (Öresund)

Having watched ‘Dekha ek khwaab to e silsile huye’ while growing up and later DDLJ, travelling in Europe and that too by train has been a fantasy! The very scene of train gushing through snow clad alps or the green fields or the colorful tulip gardens was something that I always wanted to cherish and enjoy!
The Oresund Bridge
‘Around The Öresund’ a ticket valid for two days, provided by ‘Skånetrafiken’ entitles you one round of journey around the Öresund Strait including train, bus and ship journeys. This provided a wonderful opportunity to travel through the ‘Skåne’ county of Sweden, cross to Denmark by a ship, travel through the coastal lines of Denmark, visit Copenhagen and cross back to Sweden via the famous ‘Öresund’ Bridge. All in two days, with a shoe string budget.

Öresund in Swedish and Danish, literally meaning ‘The Sound’ in English is a strait that separates Denmark from Southern Sweden. It has the shortest width of around 4 kms at a narrowest point between ‘Elsinore’ in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden.

Our journey started in Helsinborg, a town south of Gothenburg. Helsinborg is a scenic coastal city with many old buildings. ‘Kullagatan’ the main pedestrian shopping street here is one of the attractions apart from historical fortress and many churches. This being the point nearest to Denmark, the ship journey takes you to Denmark in a jiffy. Being first timers in the ship, it was really very interesting to see, the huge trucks, cars along with fellow homo sapiens boarding in the same ship.
Kronborg Castle
The ship was a huge one with bars, restaurants, a deck, a huge parking place to accommodate big trucks, cars, two wheelers and bicycles alike! Quite spacious seating areas and a lovely view of sea!
After the cross over, you will reach Helsingör (Elsinore in English influenced by Shakespeare). This quiet city has ‘Kronborg Castle’ which William Shakespeare has immortalized in his famous play Hamlet.  This city offers quite beautiful views of the sea, the strait and castle!  After spending quite some time here we boarded the trains in Denmark and continued our journey towards Copenhagen. One sharp contrast we noticed between trains in Sweden and Denmark were the Danish trains were quite colorful with colors like purple, orange and pink as compared to their sober counterparts in Sweden!
At Hellerup
With the ‘Around the Sound’ ticket you could get down anywhere in the coastal line of Denmark and hop on-hop off to any bus or train. Got down at Hellerup, got see the some of the modern Danish architecture along with ‘Experimentarium’, a museum and science center which are activity based. With a brief break here, we headed towards Copenhagen!
A stone art in Hellerup
Copenhagen is a harbor town and has a lot of historical significance. This is a crowded city and it just reminded me the port of Bombay! The city has historical, religious and modern stuff as well for a tourist to enjoy.  A couple of days or rather few hours in day cannot do justice to Copenhagen, but in the interest of time we decided to stick to a plan and headed towards ‘The Little Mermaid’.
The little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is a statue near the shore and is one the most visited landmarks in Copenhagen. Based and built on the ‘Little Mermaid’ fairy tale, this statue (or a copy of it) stands (or sits) today with a good deal of history surrounding it.  

The next item on the menu was ‘Gefion Fountain’ featuring the large scale group of animal figures driven by Legendary Norse Goddess ‘Gefjun’ a mythological Goddess of Nordic regions. ‘Gefjun’  is a Goddess associated with ‘Ploughing’ and it is believed that Gefjun ploughed away lake Malaren (now a lake in Sweden) , thus forming the island of Zealand (to which Copenhagen belongs now). Coincidentally I found a lot of striking similarities between our Hindu mythical Gods, Lord Balarama who always has a plough in his hand and Lord Parashuram who reclaimed the land from the Sea. Aren’t the mythological characters similar? 

The Anglican Church
 Next destination was Saint Alban’s Anglican Church commonly referred as English Church, inaugurated in 1887, during which most of European nobility were present including the Prince and Princess of Wales, King and Queen of Denmark and Greece, Tsar and Tsarina from Russia. This church stands tall amidst lot of greenery as well near the harbor.
A street in Copenhagen
The most admiring part of this city is that, if you have a map and you know about the places, you can just walk around if you have energy!  Walking around the streets of Copenhagen you can see a lot of old architectural buildings. ‘Nyhavn’ (New harbor or port) road is one such place, lined by brightly colored 17th and 18th Century houses, bars, cafés and restaurants. 
Sand Art at Nyhavn

Amalienborg Palace
Next pit stop was Amalienborg palace, which is the winter home of the Dutch Royal Family. This consists of the four identical buildings forming a circle. The change of Guard ceremony of the Royal guards in front of the palace is believed to be a real treat to watch! Unfortunately this happens at noon and we had to miss it. Nevertheless we had a pleasure of watching the Royal guards in action doing their duties.
Marble Church
With almost tired and retired legs we headed to Marble Church (Popular Name) also called as Frederik’s church. This church boasts of the largest dome in Scandinavia with a span of 31 meters. It is believed to be inspired from St Peters basilica in Rome. This magnificent church stands tall towards the west of the palace. Needless to say it was all tranquility inside the church and I was really impressed by the large dome and the magnificent interiors of the church.
The dome, from inside
Most of the our Copenhagen, the Sun God didn’t show mercy on us to take good photographs, but nevertheless it was worth seeing a lot of historical places and learn a bit about the European history. Dragging our feet we boarded on to a train towards Malmö. The train passes through the Öresund Bridge. Commissioned in 1999, this 8 Km bridge connects the Danish capital Copenhagen and Swedish city of Malmö and primarily serves as major link for road and rail networks connecting Nordic countries to central and western Europe.
Turning Torso from Malmo Beach
Malmö Capital of Skåne County is known for its Green Initiatives and Good Living. We were really impressed to see that most of the public transport here runs on Bio Fuel and most aptly the buses are colored ‘Green’. It boasts of some excellent parks and also called as City of Parks, which reminds me of our own ‘Bengaluru’, once upon a time. The main attractions are the turning torso and white sandy beaches.
Art at a park in Green city Malmo

One heartening fact to take away is that, this is one city where whole of sustainability is preached and practiced right from eco buildings, waste management, public transportation, use of renewable energy etc etc. I hope other cities will draw some lessons from it and start going green.
With an unfulfilled desire to spend a evening or morning watching the Öresund bridge we left from Malmö for a 3 day birding trip towards southwestern tip of Sweden and guess what? Our two day ‘Around the Sound’ was still valid!!! Till we reached the Town of Falsterbo. Read more about Birding experience at Falsterbo here!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fluttering by Pondi

This post is from archives of our trip to Pondicherry and Point Calimere during October/November 2011.  We didn't spot any other butterflies in Point Calimere other than Roses but Pondicherry had lots to offer. Here is the butterfly post, birding post yet to come.
Do enjoy the pics, comments and corrections are welcome as always. And Thanks Rohit for helping out in correcting the ID's.

Common Bushbrown

Common Wanderer  Common Gull
Small Cupid   Plain Cupid

Three-spot Grass Yellow

Common Emigrant

Common Jezebel

Blue Tiger

Plains Cupid  Small Cupid
Jewel Bug amongst the butterflies
Tawny Coster
Blue Tiger

Common Crow

Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekend Getaway: Malavalli and Shimsha

As we started early on a Saturday morning, we didn't really know where we were heading to :-) I guess Balu wanted that to be only felt. As we called Balu near Malavalli, we were told to wait near a temple on the out skirts of Malavalli. Our first pit stop was a 11th Century Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple @ Marehalli near Malavalli.
Kalyani near the Temple
Waiting was never boring in the premises of such a temple. This temple is within a massive compound that has various trees within and a kalyani just infront of it. With a water body and fauna nearby , this was a nice habitat for birds and for us too :-). As I understood later, if we could have gone little ahead, we would have come across a kere (tank)  I really appreciate the wisdom of our forefathers in building such a temple complexes and water bodies in the vicinity of these. I guess this really promoted co existence :-).
Green in Glory
After a spending considerable time here, we moved in to our destination Abbies wilderness Camp. This place has few huts and is has very basic accommodation but truly wonderful hosts. More than this, its the surrounding where its located makes your visit worth your penny. As soon as we checked in , we headed in to the wild and it was time for afternoon trek :-) Yes.... we trekked in the afternoon and came back by evening. Guess we were tired and so the birds too, we just had the luxury of watching nature from vantage view points. 
Two Twigs
Nest of  Social Spider
Giant Wood Spider??
Next day, we were up early for birding had a quite time. After birding as we returned for breakfast we  nature unraveled itself with this. Just a few feet away from the camp, this pangolin's body was all around, fresh , blood dripping in at few places. As I was taking the pictures , the camp's staff informed that its a leapords kill and pangolin must have fallen prey the same morning. As I scavenged the surroundings for any more drama found this lever? of the pangolin lying few meters away. There was no other trace left over there and the killer had done his job perfect!  As we headed for our breakfast, I am sure the killer leopard had his sumptuous breakfast for the day.
Pangolin  in pieces !
Next destination was to visit the other side of  Asia's first Hydro Electric Power Station near Shimshapura. As we descended down the valley in the rocky terrain, an Indica which accompanied us had a flat tyre!. As we were changing the tyre this DRONOG and Black eagle made their appearance. Nothing is for free for sure!

We drove some distance and then it was the time for "Nataraja Service" (Walking). As we walked further in the forests, our destination was Benki falls  as the locals call it, we had to walk quite a distance. There was this temple in the midst of the jungle added lot of color to lush green surroundings. A few  brahminey kites were doing great acrobatics and catching fish in the water. As we cameback, I was not sure whether my dear ALTO will keep its breath till we comeback up hills, but I must say, it held on and did a fantastic JOB!
Benki Falls - I am sure this will turn glorious during monsoon!
Liked the creators Idea of filling these steps up in all possible colors!
Check out Birding report here and Butterflying report here

Friday, October 07, 2011

Butterfly-ing near Malavalli

Early days of butterflying in our lives, we had a good time with butterflies in between birding near Malavalli, Shimsha :-) A post on birding will come soon. Enjoy the pics. Comments welcome.
Blue Pansy - Wings folded

Blue Pansy - Wings folded

Blue Pansy

Common Pierrot

Plain Orange Tip

Tiger in Malavalli :-)


Another Tiger- This is Striped ......

Pioneer :-) - A perspective (Thank you Rohit Rohit Girotra) 

Baronet Wings folded
And, finally this one! Sum called me to watch this interesting thing as she was taking video. An emigrant was struck in the spider web and soon the spider came, it quickly encircled its prey and I am sure this fella would have enjoyed his lunch for the day. Watch this video and a couple of shoots.

Spider (ID needed) munching on its prey - An emigrant 

Emigrant struck in a spiders web

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