Category Archives: This is Life

Arrack, the Spirit of Sri Lanka!



By T. V. Antony Raj

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Marco Polo in his 13th-century travelogue, “Il Milione“, commented about Arrack, the wonderful spirit, documenting it as a legendary beverage forever, and the predecessor to nearly every new world spirit.

VSOA

Variations abound, but the purest, single-ingredient spirit remains exclusively handcrafted in the island nation of Sri Lanka, where the country’s oldest and most prestigious distilleries distill Premium, Old and Very Special Old Arrack (VSOA).

700 years of knowledge handed down from generations of master artisans, makes VSOA a spirit unique to the island. Premiere blends of handcrafted refined single and double-distilled spirits stored in Halmilla wood barrels are allowed to mellow for 2 years.

Mendis Ceylon Arrack

Have you tried DCSL VSOA, WHITE LION VSOA, Mendis Special, or IDL OLD ARRACK? If not, I would say you do not have any knowledge or respect for old age!

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“One For Me, One For You…”


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

two-bags-of-oranges

On the eve of All Souls Day, two boys ventured into one of the orange orchards in the village. They saw two bags of freshly plucked oranges lying unattended. Grabbing a bag each, they left the orchard unobserved. They then decided to go to a quiet place to share the lot equally.

While they jumped over the parapet wall of the village cemetery two oranges fell out of one of the bags but they did not bother to pick them at that time.

A few minutes later, the village drunkard Carolis Appuhamy, who looked after the churchyard and the cemetery was returning inebriated from the tavern. While passing the cemetery he heard a monotonous mumbling: “One for me, one for you, one for me, one for you, one for me, …

Frightened Carolis Appu ran as fast as he could to the church. When he saw Father Augustine he blurted “Anéy father, please come, come. I heard Satan and Saint Peduru sharing the dead at the cemetery.

Curiosity taking the upper hand, Fr Augustine followed Carolis Appu to the cemetery. The crouched near the parapet wall and heard the voice muttering, “One for me, one for you, one for me, one for you, one for me, …

Suddenly, the voice stopped counting and said: “FinishedWhat about those two outside the parapet wall?

Fr Augustine and Carolis Appu immediately took to flight. They ran towards the Church shouting madly in unison: “We are not dead, we are not dead…

The Chinese Spring Lantern Festival


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Chinese Lantern Festival at night at ChiangKaiShek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan (Photo: PhiloVivero)
Chinese Lantern Festival at night at ChiangKaiShek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan (Photo: PhiloVivero)

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Nowadays, lanterns are used as general light sources outdoors. Low light level varieties are used for decoration. The term is now commonly associated with Chinese paper lanterns.

The Chinese Emperor Wu of Han the seventh emperor of the Han dynasty of China, ruling from 141–87 BC, employed poets and musicians in writing lyrics and scoring tunes for various performances. He patronized choreographers and shamans for arranging the dance movements and coordinating the spiritual and the mundane. He was fond of lavish nighttime ritual performances under brilliant lighting provided by of thousands of torches. The Emperor directed special attention to the Spring Lantern Festival. In 104 BC, he proclaimed it to be one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.

Though there are many different beliefs about the origin of the Lantern Festival, one likely origin is the celebration of “the declining darkness of winter” and community’s ability to “move about at night with human-made light,” namely, lanterns.

According to Taoist tradition, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, Shàngyuán, corresponds to the “Official of light” who enjoys colourful and light objects.

As early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25), the Chinese Lantern Festival or the Spring Lantern Festival (元宵节)] that marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations had become a festival with great significance.

Emperor Wen of Han (202–157 BC), the third emperor of the Han Dynasty of ancient China after subjugating the insurgency of Zhulu declared the fifteenth day of the first lunar month as the Lantern Festival. It usually falls on some day in February or March in the Gregorian calendar.

The Chinese emperor Wu of Han the seventh emperor of the Han dynasty of China, ruling from 141–87 BC, employed poets and musicians in writing lyrics and scoring tunes for various performances. He patronized choreographers and shamans for arranging the dance movements and coordinating the spiritual and the mundane. He was fond of lavish nighttime ritual performances under brilliant lighting provided by of thousands of torches. The Emperor directed special attention to the Spring Lantern Festival. In 104 BC, he proclaimed it to be one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.

So, Han Dynasty takes credit for the celebration of the Spring Lantern Festival.

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Chinese Lantern Festival at night (Source: chinatravetour.wordpress.com)
Chinese Lantern Festival at night (Source: chinatravetour.wordpress.com)

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During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns.

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Yu Yuan Snake lantern installed at Yu Garden, Shanghai (Source: httpschoolhouse.com.)
Yu Yuan Snake lantern installed at Yu Garden, Shanghai (Source: httpschoolhouse.com.)

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In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones. In modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs many in the shape of animals. The lanterns are made almost always in red to symbolize good fortune.

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People let go the lanterns on Chinese Lantern Festival (Source: schoolhouse.com.tw)
People let go the lanterns on Chinese Lantern Festival (Source: schoolhouse.com.tw)

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When the people let go the lanterns it symbolises their letting go of their past selves and getting new ones, which they, in turn, will let go the next year.

In modern days, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Chinese Spring Lantern Festival is commercialized as the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day.

In Singapore and Malaysia, it is simply known as the “Lantern Festival” and is becoming popular in Western countries also.

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RELATED ARTICLES

Lantern (en.wikipedia.org)

History of Lanterns (1708gallery.org)

Lanterns in Han Dynasty (traditions.cultural-china.com)

Emperor Wu of Han (en.wikipedia.org)

Lantern Festival (en.wikipedia.org)

Commitment in Wedded Life


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Commitment in wedded life is not what everyone imagines it to be.

Commitment is not cuddling together in bed until both fall asleep peacefully.

Commitment is not waking up early every morning to make breakfast and eating together.

Commitment is not to have a spick and span home and a home-cooked meal every day.

Commitment is to love someone who hogs all the bed covers. It is to love someone who disagrees and at times slams the door with a few harsh words to boot.

Commitment is to heal both ruptured hearts by forgiving usually followed by ‘silence’ for a day or two.

Commitment is coming home every day to the same person who loves and cares about you, in spite of what or who you are. It is about still loving someone who at times makes you insane.

Commitment is laughing about the times you inadvertently did stupid things.

Commitment is about dirty laundry and unmade beds without finger pointing.

Commitment is swallowing the nagging words at the tip of your tongue instead of blurting them out loud.

Commitment is helping each other during lean times. It is eating the cheapest meal you can cook and eating it together after a hectic day.

Commitment is when you have an emotional breakdown, and your love holds you and whispers everything is going to be alright, and you believe those words.

Commitment is staying with the person you love who might not be the perfect person of your dreams, and would be hard at times, but is an amazing and comforting person you will ever come across.

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Wishing My Third Grandson Rohan on His Sixth Birthday!


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Selfie by Rohan
Selfie by Rohan

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Dear Rohan,

You are one of the reasons why Appammaa and I look forward to growing older each day.

If there’s one thing your Appamma and I want to do today is to give you a big, wide hug and to wish you a very happy birthday. Unfortunately, the oceans separate us from you, dear one!

There is so much that I want to say about a loving grandson like you. But it would certainly take me awhile to finish. I just want to let you know how much you mean to us.

The day your Appa was born, we thought our life had become full. But when you were born, our life became almost complete.

From that moment we first saw you, a huggable and cute grandson, at Elkridge in Maryland, just before your first birthday, we knew right then and there that you will bring so much joy into our lives.

Most people of our age love to show off their wealth. But for us, we just love to show off our young and smart grandchildren. The last chapter of our lives is sure to be the finest and that is all because we have lovable grandchildren like you,

Excitement and happiness – that’s what we feel every time we get to see you, Rohan. Whoever knew that the few years of being your grandparents would bring us so much joy and happiness than the many decades of our lifetime? We feel so blessed to have you our prince, our hero, our light in our lives. Thank you for coming into our life and for giving us the opportunity once more to become proud grandparents.

May every minute and every second of your life be filled with lots of joy!

Happy birthday to you, darling Rohan!

The Tale of the Sanskrit Text “Vaimānika Shāstra”


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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A Vimana of Indian texts (Source : ceifan.org)
A Vimana of Indian texts (Source : ceifan.org) : ceifan.org)

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In 1951, a person named G.R. Josyer founded the “International Academy of Sanskrit Research” in Mysore. In 1952, he came across the Vaimānika Shāstra manuscripts written in Sanskrit. In 1959, a Hindi translation of Vaimānika Shāstra was published.

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Title page of the English translation of Vyamanika Shastra published in 1973.
Title page of the English translation of Vyamanika Shastra published in 1973.

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In 1973, Josyer published an English translation of the text along with the Sanskrit text titled VYMAANIKA-SHAASTRA OR SCIENCE OF AERONAUTICS.

The Vaimānika Shāstra contains 3000 slokas in 8 chapters. The 1973 edition came out with illustrations drawn by T. K. Ellappa, a draughtsman at a local engineering college in Bangalore, under the direction of Pandit Subbaraya Shastry.

 RUKMA VIMANA
Rukma Vimana Profile (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Rukma Vimana Plan of base or pitha (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
Rukma Vimana Plan of top and steering floors (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Rukma Vimana Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 SUNDARA VIMANA
Sundara Vimana Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Sundara Vimana Plan of base or pitha (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
Sundara Vimana Floors (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Sundara Vimana Vertical Section - 2 (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 TRIPURA VIMANA
 Tripura Vimana Cross Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Electrical Power Generator - Sectional Elevation (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 Electrical Power Generator - Top View (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Tripura Vimana Perspective View and Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
SHAKUNA VIMANA
 Shakuna Vimana - Perspective view (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)  Shakuna Vimana - Vertical Section at the Wing Joint (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)
 Shakuna Vimana - Vertical Section (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom) Shakuna Vimana - Horizontal Section - Lengthwise (Source - aryabharati.org) (Custom)

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The book Vymanika-Shastra gained favour among the proponents of theories about space travel by ancient Indians.

In the foreword to the 1973 edition of Vymanika-Shastra, Josyer wrote:

On 25-8-1952 the Mysore representative of the Press Trust of India, Sri N.N. Sastry, sent up the following report which was published in all the leading dailies of India, and was taken up by Reuter and other World Press News Services:

“Mr. G. R. Josyer, Director of the International Academy of Sanskrit Research in Mysore, in the course of an interview recently, showed some very ancient manuscripts which the Academy had collected. He claimed hat the manuscripts were several thousands of years old, compiled by ancient rishis. Bharadwaja, Narada and others, dealing, not with the mysticism of ancient Hindu philosophy of Atman or Brahman, but with more mundane things vital for the existence of man and progress of nations both in times of peace and war.

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“One manuscript dealt with Aeronautics, construction of various types of aircraft for civil aviation and for warfare. He showed me plans prepared according to directions contained in the manuscript on Aeronautics of three types of aircraft or Vimanas. namely, Rukma, Sundara and Shakuna Vimanas. Five hundred slokas or stanzas dealing with these go into such intricate details about choice and preparation of metals that would be suitable for various parts of vimanas of different types, constructional details, dimensions, designs and weight they could carry, and purposes they could be used for.

“Mr. Josyer showed some types of designs and drawing of a helicopter-type cargo-loading plane, specially meant for carrying combustibles and ammunition, passenger aircraft carrying 400 to 500 persons, double and treble-decked aircraft. Josyer showed some types of designs and drawing of a helicopter-type cargo-loading plane, specially meant for carrying combustibles and ammunition, passenger aircraft carrying 400 to 500 persons, double and treble-decked aircraft.
Each of these types had been fully described.

“In the section giving about preparation and choice of metals and other materials that should go into such construction of aircraft, details were specified that the aircraft, (these metals are of 16 different alloys), must be “unbreakable, which cannot be cut through, which would not catch fire, and cannot be destroyed by accidents.” Details as to how to make these vimanas in flight invisible through smoke screens are given in Vimanasastra of Maharshi Bharadwaja.

“Further description and method of manufacturing aircraft, which will enable pilots not only to spot enemy aircraft but also to hear what enemy pilots in their planes were speaking, on principles akin to radar, have all been given in elaborate detail with suitable explanatory notes. There are eight chapters in this book which deal with the construction of aircraft, which fly in the air,  go under water, or float on water.

TRAINING OF PILOTS

“A few slokas deal with qualifications and training of pilots to man these aircraft. These ancient types of aircraft are provided with necessary cameras to take pictures of approaching enemy planes. Yet another set of slokas deals with the kind of food and clothing to be provided for pilots to keep them efficient and fit in air flying conditions.

There is an enigma in this tale of Vaimānika Shāstra.

In 1974 five young Indian scientists – Mukunda, S.M. Deshpande, H.R. Nagendra, A. Prabhu, and S.P. Govindaraju – from the departments of aeronautical engineering and mechanical engineering of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore conducted a detailed study of Vaimānika Shāstra. The same year they published a paper titled “A Critical Study of the Work Vyamanika Shastra,” in the journal Scientific Opinion. They gave the reasons why the Vedic airplane theory according to Vaimānika Shāstra was not viable..

The Scientists concluded that the aircrafts described in the text were “poor concoctions” and that the author showed a complete lack of understanding of aeronautics. In fact, none of the technologies documented in the Vaimānika Shāstra would allow an object to lift off from the ground except one. The study stated:

“The Rukma Vimana was the only one which made sense. It had long vertical ducts with fans on the top to suck the air from the top and send it down the ducts, generating a lift in the process.”

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Pandit Subbaraya Shastry
Pandit Subbaraya Shastry

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The young scientists debunked the claim that this text is ancient. They said it was actually written between 1900 and 1922 by Pandit Subbaraya Shastry.

According to the young scientists from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore,  Pandit Subbaraya Shastry was born in a small village in Hosur Taluk. His parents died when he was young. As a destitute, he contracted diseases and wandered from place to place.

One day he met a great saint at Kolar. The saint initiated him into spirituality. He revealed to him several Shastras, including the Vaimānika Shāstra.

After Subbaraya Shastry settled into normal life, he started uttering slokas (verses) when inspired.

Subbaraya Shastry had no formal schooling and learned to read and write only after meeting the saint, so, it is unlikely the text was his own invention.

In the early 1900s, Pandit Subbaraya Shastry dictated the text of Vaimānika Shāstra to his aide G. Venkatachalam Sharma and completed the work in 1923. The Pandit claimed that the text was psychically delivered to him by the ancient Hindu sage Bharadvaja. The Vaimānika Shāstra contains 3,000 slokas in 8 chapters.

Though some described Pandit Subbaraya Shastry as “a walking lexicon gifted with occult perception,” he was unsure of the practicality of the ideas found in the text he had dictated.

Pandit Subbaraya Shastry died in 1941. His aide Venkatachala Sharma kept the manuscripts in his custody. By 1944, the Vaimānika Shāstra manuscript appeared at Rajakiya Sanskrit Library in Baroda.

When a Dr. Talpade of Bombay tried to make models under Shastry’s  guidance, none of them flew.

Now, you be the judge.

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Don’t Be Fooled by Posts about Chinese Plastic Rice on Facebook!


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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I saw the following video posted on Facebook without any description, leaving viewers to speculate.

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As of today, this video on Facebook has 4,310,649 views, 7.7K likes, 8,784 shares and 23 Comments.

The first comment that I saw at the top said, “What the hell is going on.”

This video of a woman stirring the contents in the pot over a fire was followed by a video that shows an easterner recycling plastic using machinery that produces rice-shaped plastic pellets for manufacturing plastic products.

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After the above videos  followed the image of a packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently .

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A packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently.
A packet of Thai Milagrosa Scented Rice with Chinese letters displayed prominently.

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Putting three and three together, almost 95% of the Facebook readers deduced that the woman in the first video was making plastic rice.

One wise person popped up the question, “What is happening in the world today?” and another, weak in geography said, “Read your labels at all times. If it was made in China leave it on the shelf.” And a ‘know-all’ person from Oba, Nigeria wrote a lengthy comment on “How to Identify Plastic Rice or Fake Rice“.

By the way, not all Facebook members are fools. A woman from Nassau City, New Providence, Bahamas, said, “There is fake plastic rice, however, that’s not what the lady is doing in this particular video… Yall so silly I would explain what that is but nah it’s so hilarious. ” But she never revealed what she knew. Maybe she herself did not know what it really was.

Finally,  a comment by Shana Wiltshire from Brooklyn, New York who said, “Lol.. this is how rice goes from brown to puffed white rice… nothing wrong with this… and it’s an Indian method not Chinese“, assuaged  my curiosity.

Yes. The woman in the first video was making popped puff rice.

Here is a video showing the indigenous method of making popped puff rice for sale in India.

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30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

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Hank Williams Sr
Hank Williams Sr

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The greatest American country music artist of all time, Hiram Hank Williams Sr., a singer-songwriter and musician, was country music’s first superstar. He earned fame with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshine boy and selling peanuts on the street.

Along with this early success Hank’s behavior became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of “Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

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Hank Williams Memorial
Hank Williams Memorial

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Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. With five of the 35 songs released posthumously, he earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

As an ardent fan of Hank Williams, I used his song “30 Pieces Of Silver” to create the following video clip as a tribute to him.

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Lyrics – 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

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Mother, Motherland, and Mother Tongue


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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mother-feeding-child

When someone else feeds you, then you will realize the worth of your mother.

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motherland

When stranded in a foreign land you will recognize the worth of your motherland.

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mother-tongue-3

When you struggle to make yourself understood in a foreign language then you will realize the worth of your mother tongue.

Black Friday and the United Stupids in America (USA)


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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People in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a national holiday in the United States and people celebrate the day with religious fervor.

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Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo: oldstrathcona.ca)
Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo: oldstrathcona.ca)

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People get together with their loved ones, invariably devour large amounts of food centered around an enormous roasted turkey, and like angels and saints praise and thank God for all that they have.

Traditionally, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season starts in the United States on the following day, the Black Friday. Most major retailers open their sales outlets extremely early on Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season and offer promotional sales.

The name “Black Friday” originated before 1961 in Philadelphia, after the disruptive movement of pedestrians and heavy vehicle traffic on the day-after-Thanksgiving Day and used broadly in other regions around 1975. Later, a new explanation of the term started circulating: “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit and are back in the black.

Though Black Friday is not an official holiday, many non-retail employers give their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.

Earlier, retailers opened shop on Black Friday at 6 am. However, in the late 2000s, many retailers opened their retail outlets at 5 am, and some opened at 4 am. Big names including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc. open at midnight. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, broke the Black Friday tradition in 2011 by opening its store on Thanksgiving evening.

Four years ago when I was in the United States, a week before Thanksgiving Day, a friend from India called me over the phone . He said that he had heard that on Black Friday electronic goods could be bought at bargain prices in the United States and requested me to buy a laptop for him. Little did he know about the madness that inundates the United Stupids of America (USA) on Black Friday.

On Black Friday, the American people unitedly become stupids by transmogrifying  from angels to demons.

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Black Friday - People waiting outside a mall.
Black Friday – People waiting outside a mall.

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They stubbornly gather outside malls, some from midnight on chattering and shivering, undaunted by the bitter winter cold, and wait for the shops to open.

When the shops open their doors, the stampede begins.

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall (isource)
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall (isource)

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Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.

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They behave like crazed animals. They barge into the malls like raging bulls. They trample and maul one another to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need; just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they already have.

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Black Friday: Only in America, you find people, who just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they already have behave like crazed animals frenziedly trampling each other to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need.
Frenzy buying on Black Friday (Photo: telegraph.co.uk)

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That is Black Friday for you in the United States of America. No other country in the world can boast of such a frenzied day.

Here is a video clip depicting the madness of the United Stupids of America for you to decide whether you too want to join these berserk folks and avail bargains on Black Friday.

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