Tag Archives: YouTube

“Marikkar” Ramdas of Komaligal (Clowns)


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Sathyavaageeswara Iyer “Marikkar” Ramdas
Sathyavaageeswara Iyer “Marikkar” RamdasM

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In 1974, Sillaiyoor Selvarajan, a well-known artiste of Radio Ceylon, in charge of producing a radio program sponsored by the People’s Bank, saw a 30-minute comedy play staged by S. Ramdas at D. S. Senanayake College in Colombo.

Enthralled by the play, Sillaiyoor Selvarajan requested Ramdas to lengthen the play for broadcasting as a serial over the radio. Young Ramadas readily agreed and wrote the script and dialogues for the radio comedy “Koamaaligalin Kummaalam” (Hilarious Antics of Clowns) with the message of national unity. Ramdas took hints from the Indian Tamil film “Bharatha Vilas” directed by A. C. Trilokchander starring Sivaji Ganesan and K.R. Vijaya, which emphasised national unity among families hailing from different Indian ethnic groups living in separate portions in a mansion named “Bharatha Vilas“.

Instead of bludgeoning directly into the ethnic amity, and unity in diversity among families belonging to different ethnicities and religions living in separate portions under one roof in a large house, he presented humorously the peaceful coexistence of those people .

Radio Ceylon broadcasted the play continuously for 90 weeks, sponsored by the People’s Bank.

Ramdas, a Brahmin in real life cast himself as “Marikkar”, a Colombo Muslim with the proper enunciation of a Colombo Muslim.

B. H. Abdul Hameed, a Muslim in real life, took on the role a Brahmin named “Iyer”.

K. A. Jawahir (alias Abu Naanaa), another Muslim acted as “Thanikasalam” the villain.

T. Rajagopal took the role of a gentleman of Jaffna origin named “Appukutty”, and S. Selvasekaran took on the role of a Sinhalese named “Upali”.

The play became immensely popular. I too became an enthusiastic fan and listened to the play every Sunday at 4 pm.

In early 1976, Malkar Mohamed, who listened to this weekly radio drama decided to produce it as a film. Ramdas readily agreed when Mohamed expressed his desire.

Ramdas enthusiastically penned the story and dialogues for the film titled “Komaligal” (“The Clowns”).

S. Ramanathan, an experienced personality in the Sinhala film industry consented to direct it under the banner of Amarjothy Movies.

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B. H. Abdul Hameed and S. Ramdas in a still from the film 'Komaligal' (1976)
B. H. Abdul Hameed and S. Ramdas in a still from the film ‘Komaligal’ (1976)

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The original actors of the radio play “Koamaaligalin Kummaalam” – S. Ramdas, B. H. Abdul Hameed, K. A. Jawahir (alias Abu Naanaa), T. Rajagopal and S. Selvasekaran – took on their respective roles in the film. Sillaiyoor Selvarajan and his wife Kamalini Selvarajan acted as lovers in the film.

The film “Komaligal” produced in 45 days and screened on November 22, 1976, at 6 theatres, became a box office hit and ran successfully, better than any other previous Sri Lankan Tamil movie.

Here is a video clip of the song Ennadi Sithi Beebee written and sung by Ramdas in the dialect of Colombo Muslims. This song became an instant hit even though he mimicked “Ennadi Raakkammaa“, a popular song of that period, sung by T. M. Soundararajan in the Indian Tamil film ‘Pattikkaada Pattanamaa’.

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Sathyavaageeswara Iyer Ramdas alias “Marikkar” Ramdas born on May 5, 1947, in Sivagangai, in Tamil Nadu, India passed away on July 13, 2016, at the residence of his daughter Priya in Besant Nagar, Chennai. Though Ramdas is no more with us, the memories of “Marikkar” Ramdas will forever live in the hearts and minds of his numerous fans in Sri Lanka, India, and all over the world.

D. B. S. Jeyaraj, a former journalist of the Tamil daily newspaper “Virakesari” has written an excellent tribute titled ‘“Marikkar” Ramdas: The Brahmin who transformed Into a Muslimwherein he writes about “Marikkar” Ramdas and describes in detail the history and making of the film “Komaligal“.

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The Secret That Makes Us Healthy and Happy as We Go Through Life!


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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If we want to invest in a good life and be happy and healthy as we grow old, how should we direct our time and energy? To answer these questions The Harvard Study of Adult Development at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston started a study of adult life in 1938 and continues it to this day.

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Robert Waldinger, Ted Talk
Robert Waldinger, Ted Talk

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If you think its fame and money that will bring you happiness and good health then you’re mistaken says Robert Waldinger, a Harvard psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest. As the fourth director of the 75-year-old study on adult development, he has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. Waldinger says that he had learned some surprising things about what the good life actually looks like.

In this 12-minutes short video of the talk he gave at a TEDx event, he offers the results of 77 years of studying happiness. He shares with us insights and three important lessons learned from the study, as well as some practical age old wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

In these 12 short minutes, he offers the results of 75 years of studying happiness. Yes, life can be summed up in a very short time.

In this video of the talk, he gave at a TEDx event he shares insights and three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

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Here is a transcript of the speech:

If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and your energy? There are lots of answers out there. We are bombarded with images of what’s most important in life. The media are filled with stories of people who are rich and famous and building empires at work. And we believe those stories.

There was a recent survey of millennials asking them what their most important life goals were, and over 80 percent said that a major life goal for them was to get rich. And another 50 percent of those same young adults said that another major life goal was to become famous.

(Laughter)

And we’re constantly told to lean into work, to push harder and achieve more. We’re given the impression that these are the things that we need to go after in order to have a good life.

But is that true? Is that really what keeps people happy as they go through life?

Pictures of entire lives, of the choices that people make and how those choices work out for them, those pictures are almost impossible to get. Most of what we know about human life we know from asking people to remember the past, and as we know, hindsight is anything but 20/20. We forget vast amounts of what happens to us in life, and sometimes memory is downright creative.

Mark Twain understood this. He’s quoted as saying,

“Some of the worst things in my life never happened.”

(Laughter)

And research shows us that we actually remember the past more positively as we get older.

I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that says,

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

(Laughter)

But what if we could watch entire lives as they unfold through time? What if we could study people from the time that they were teenagers all the way into old age to see what really keeps people happy and healthy?

We did that.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development may be the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done. For 75 years, we’ve tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.

Studies like this are exceedingly rare.

Almost all projects of this kind fall apart within a decade because too many people drop out of the study, or funding for the research dries up, or the researchers get distracted, or they die, and nobody moves the ball further down the field. But through a combination of luck and the persistence of several generations of researchers, this study has survived. About 60 of our original 724 men are still alive, still participating in the study, most of them in their 90s. And we are now beginning to study the more than 2,000 children of these men. And I’m the fourth director of the study.

Since 1938, we’ve tracked the lives of two groups of men. The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College. They were from what Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation.” They all finished college during World War II, and then most went off to serve in the war. And the second group that we’ve followed was a group of boys from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, boys who were chosen for the study specifically because they were from some of the most troubled and disadvantaged families in the Boston of the 1930s. Most lived in tenements, many without hot and cold running water.

When they entered the study, all of these teenagers were interviewed. They were given medical exams. We went to their homes and we interviewed their parents. And then these teenagers grew up into adults who entered all walks of life. They became factory workers and lawyers and bricklayers and doctors, one President of the United States. Some developed alcoholism. A few developed schizophrenia. Some climbed the social ladder from the bottom all the way to the very top, and some made that journey in the opposite direction.

The founders of this study would never in their wildest dreams have imagined that I would be standing here today, 75 years later, telling you that the study still continues. Every two years, our patient and dedicated research staff calls up our men and asks them if we can send them yet one more set of questions about their lives.

Many of the inner city Boston men ask us, “Why do you keep wanting to study me? My life just isn’t that interesting.” The Harvard men never ask that question.

(Laughter)

To get the clearest picture of these lives, we don’t just send them questionnaires. We interview them in their living rooms. We get their medical records from their doctors. We draw their blood, we scan their brains, we talk to their children. We video tape them talking with their wives about their deepest concerns. And when, about a decade ago, we finally asked the wives if they would join us as members of the study, many of the women said, “You know, it’s about time.”

(Laughter)

So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we’ve generated on these lives?

Well, the lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.

We’ve learned three big lessons about relationships. The first is that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to the community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic. People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely.

And we know that you can be lonely in a crowd and you can be lonely in a marriage, so the second big lesson that we learned is that it’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health. High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.

Once we had followed our men all the way into their 80s, we wanted to look back at them at midlife and to see if we could predict who was going to grow into a happy, healthy octogenarian and who wasn’t. And when we gathered together everything we knew about them at age 50, it wasn’t their middle age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old. It was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. And good, close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old. Our most happily partnered men and women reported, in their 80s, that on the days when they had more physical pain, their mood stayed just as happy. But the people who were in unhappy relationships, on the days when they reported more physical pain, it was magnified by more emotional pain.

And the third big lesson that we learned about relationships and our health is that good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains.

It turns out that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your 80s is protective, that the people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stay sharper longer. And the people in relationships where they feel they really can’t count on the other one, those are the people who experience earlier memory decline. And those good relationships, they don’t have to be smooth all the time. Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out, but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.

So this message, that good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being, this is wisdom that’s as old as the hills. It’s your grandmother’s advice, and your pastor’s,

Why is this so hard to get?

For example, with respect to wealth, we know that once our basic material needs are met, wealth doesn’t do it. If you go from making 75,000 dollars a year to 75 million, we know that your health and happiness will change very little, if at all.

When it comes to fame, the constant media intrusion and the lack of privacy make most famous people significantly less healthy. It certainly doesn’t keep them happier.

And as for working harder and harder, there is that truism that nobody on their death bed ever wished they had spent more time at the office.

(Laughter)

Why is this so hard to get and so easy to ignore? Well, we’re human.

What we’d really like is a quick fix, something we can get that’ll make our lives good and keep them that way.
Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s also lifelong. It never ends.

The people in our 75-year study who were the happiest in retirement were the people who had actively worked to replace workmates with new playmates. Just like the millennials in that recent survey, many of our men when they were starting out as young adults really believed that fame and wealth and high achievement were what they needed to go after to have a good life. But over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships, with family, with friends, with the community.

So what about you? Let’s say you’re 25, or you’re 40, or you’re 60. What might leaning into relationships even look like?

Well, the possibilities are practically endless. It might be something as simple as replacing screen time with people time or livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, long walks or date nights, or reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in years, because those all-too-common family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold the grudges.

I’d like to close with another quote from Mark Twain. More than a century ago, he was looking back on his life, and he wrote this:

There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.

The good life is built with good relationships. And that’s an idea worth spreading.

Thank you.

(Applause)

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Agent “Max” Smart and the Anonymous Buxom Lady on the Dance Floor


Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Get Smart movie poster (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
Get Smart movie poster (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

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Get Smart is a 2008 American adventure and action comedy film directed by Peter Segal starring Steve Carell as an analyst named Maxwell “Max” Smart who dreams of becoming a real field agent and a better spy, and Anne Hathaway as Agent 99.

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Steve Carell (2010)
Steve Carell (2010)

Anne Hathaway (2014)
Anne Hathaway (2014)

David S. Lee
David S. Lee

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In Russia, Agent Max Smart and Agent 99 infiltrate Ladislas Krstic’s (played by David S. Lee) mansion undercover as guests during a lavish party to find evidence against the host.

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Lindsay Hollister
American actress Lindsay Hollister, a native of Columbus and graduate of Pickerington High School and Miami University.

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In this hilarious video clip attached below, when Ladislas Krstic, the villain, leads Agent 99 to the dance floor Max responds by asking an anonymous buxom lady (played by Lindsay Hollister, the 31-year-old American actress, a native of Columbus and graduate of Pickerington High School and Miami University), to dance after bypassing a row of slim , snobby women.

The two couples – Ladislas Krstic and Agent 99, and Smart and the anonymous bulging lady – try to outsmart each other in a series of elaborate ballroom dance moves, such as spins, lifts, and dips.Then, at the end, there is a nice payoff by Lindsay Hollister who shafts the slim pretty girls, which is kind of fun.

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The International Women’s Day 2016: “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”


Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… – Mahatma Gandhi

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The International Women’s Day 2016 (Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown)
The International Women’s Day 2016 (Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown)

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Every year on March 8th, people around the world celebrate  the International Women’s Day (IWD) which was originally known as the International Working Women’s Day.

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by the Member States.

The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.

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Lakshmi Puri - UN Women Deputy Executive Director (Source - ipsnews.net)
Lakshmi Puri – UN Women Deputy Executive Director (Source – ipsnews.net)

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Today, on March 8, 2016, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in New York at 9 a.m.

The United Nations observance on March 8 will reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It will equally focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.

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Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women (Source: msafropolitan.com)
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women (Source: msafropolitan.com)

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Here is a video bearing a message from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women.

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The Worst Possible Ingredient We Consume Daily Could Be Sugar!


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj
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“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.”
Richard Johnson, nephrologist, University of Colorado Denver

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Sugar (Source - radhuslivet.blogg.se)

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The worst possible ingredient we consume daily could be sugar which everyone knows is detrimental to health and is the root cause of diseases, including diabetes and cancer, among many others.

Worldwide, people are consuming sugar equal to about 500 extra calories per day. That is just about what you would need to consume if you wanted to gain a pound a week. No wonder we have many obese men, women, and children around us.

Dietitians and nutritionists have established that four grams of white granulated sugar are equal to one teaspoon of sugar. In the United States, the American Heart Association recommends a daily allowance of no more than six teaspoons a day for the average woman and no more than nine teaspoons a day for the average male. However, an American consumes an average of 27 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Why do some people add sugar to almost everything they consume? Perhaps they think that the lack of sodium or fat in sugar makes it less harmful or harbor a false notion that the risk of excess sugar consumption is less than that of having too much saturated and trans fat, sodium or calories in their diet. Some even espouse the adage “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

Sugar specifically promotes obesity. In the past 30 years, obesity in children has doubled and the rate of adolescent obesity has tripled. The main factor is fat accumulation in the trunk of the body. One cause may be the wide consumption of fructose-laden beverages. In 2010, a study in children found that excess fructose intake (but not glucose intake) caused visceral fat cells to mature that set the stage for obesity at a young age leading to heart disease and diabetes.

In contrast, there are many who know that excessive sugar in the diet is not good for healthy living and consume it in recommended amounts and place it at the top of their list of “foods to avoid”. They know that sugar specifically promotes obesity.

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Amount of sugar in Coca-cola (Source: tribesports.com)
Amount of sugar in Coca-cola (Source: tribesports.com)

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A typical sugar packet in the United States contains two grams of sugar while all soft drinks have an excess amount of sugar with absolutely no nutritional advantage. For example, Coca-Cola contains 10.6 grams or five sachets of sugar per 100ml. So, a 250 ml can has 26.5 grams or 13 sachets of sugar and a 330 ml can has 31.8 grams or 16 sachets of sugar.

To curb rising obesity, some sectors want beverages having high sugar content taxed in the same way as cigarettes.

In the following video, Jeremy Paxman with his forthright and abrasive interviewing style speaks to James Quincey, president of Coca-Cola Europe about the sugar content in their regular Coke on BBC Two’s Newsnight.

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Gallup Analytics, the publisher of the Gallup Poll,  a widely recognized barometer of American opinion, provides market research and consulting services around the world.  In July 2015, as part of its annual Consumption Habits poll, Gallup asked 1,009 Americans about the foods they try to include or avoid in their diet.

Gallup Consumption Habits Poll, (Source - gallup.com)

In her article “Coca-Cola says its drinks don’t cause obesity. Science says otherwise“, Marion Nestle says:

Sales of sugar-sweetened and diet drinks have been falling for a decade in the United States, and a new Gallup Poll says 60% of Americans are trying to avoid drinking soda. In attempts to reverse these trends and deflect concerns about the health effects of sugary drinks, the soda industry invokes elements of the tobacco industry’s classic playbook: cast doubt on the science, discredit critics, invoke nanny statism and attribute obesity to personal irresponsibility.

In late September 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics ended its partnership with Coca-Cola after evidence emerged that the Coca-Cola company paid for research to downplay the role of Coke in obesity. The academy’s website, healthychildren.org was sponsored mainly by the Coca-Cola company. Of the $100 million the Coca-Cola company gives to various medical and health groups, the academy received $3 million.

Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics were upset after the New York Times looked at financial data that revealed the extent of the relationship between the Academy and the Coca-Cola company.

Many pediatricians aligned to the Academy who saw childhood health problems related to obesity on a daily basis, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension were surprised to find that their organization was aligned with Coke. New York Times reporter Anahad O’Connor said: “Some pediatricians said it was analogous to a major lung association group or university partnering with the tobacco industry.”

Recently I came across the following quote purported to be that of John D. Rockefeller:

Disgusting crap just like the idiots that drink it. More salt than a pizza. More sugar than a wedding cake to cover up the salt. Why salt? Cos it makes you thirsty and what do you do when you’re thirsty? Grab a Coke. The sugar makes you pile on the pounds. I hate this drink and all the other billion dollar fizzy brands that are filled with caffeine and other shit. Drink water for god sake. They did an experiment and took fizzy drink vending machines out of some school and guess what? The kids there were less fat than the ones that kept the vending machines. If you want to be fat, Coke is it! Just avoid it, guys… It’s what the Elites want us to do EAT & DRINK but not THINK.

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School Lunch in Japan!


Myself 

 By T.V. Antony Raj

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School Lunch in Japan

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The lunch period is a learning period in Japanese schools and is used to inculcate the essence of the Japanese culture.

Lunch time is more than just eating. It provides an opportunity for the children to learn discipline, proper manners, hygiene and courtesy before, during and after a meal.

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A Flash Mob for the City of Sabadell in Catalonia, Spain.


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

Banco Sabadell Headquarters in Sabadell, Catalonia
Banco Sabadell Headquarters in Sabadell, Catalonia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Sabadell Barcelona, the second largest city in the south of the comarca (county) of the Vallès Occidental in Catalonia, Spain is on the River Ripoll, 12 miles (20 km) north of Barcelona.

Sabadell and its archrival, Terrassa, in the east-central region of Catalonia, are co-capitals of the comarca of Vallès Occidental. These two cities pioneered the Industrial Revolution in Catalonia with their textile mills.

In the mid 19th century, nicknamed the “Catalan Manchester“, Sabadell became the most important wool city in Spain. Now, Sabadell is basically a commercial and industrial city with no significant agricultural activities.

On December 31, 1881, a group of 127 businessmen and traders from Sabadell Barcelona founded Banco de Sabadell, for financing local industries and providing them with raw materials (wool and coal) under more favourable terms and conditions.

In 1907, Banco Sabadell wound up the non-banking businesses to focus its activities on entirely on commercial banking.

In 1965, Banco Sabadell started its territorial expansion, slowly and steadily spreading to the nearby towns. In 1975, it started to expand beyond Catalonia by opening a branch in Madrid.

Now, Banco de Sabadell is the fifth-largest Spanish banking group with its headquarters in Sabadell includes several banks, brands, subsidiaries and associated banks specialises in serving SMEs (Small or Medium Enterprises) and affluent individuals interested in international trade.

Banco de Sabadell London situated at Sabadell House, 120 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EA (Source: manchesterhistory.net)
Banco de Sabadell London situated at Sabadell House, 120 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EA (Source: manchesterhistory.net)

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In 1978, Banco Sabadell expanded internationally by opening its first branch abroad in the heart of the City of London in the United Kingdom.

Banco Sabadell with its extensive commercial and operational experience and having an in-depth knowledge of the features of the Indian financial system started operating in New Delhi, India in 1994.

In 2012, on the 130th anniversary of its founding, Banco Sabadell launched a campaign called “Som Sabadell” (We are Sabadell) to pay homage to its founding city.

For culminating the campaign, Banco Sabadell arranged a scintillating flash mob with 100 people from the Orquestra Simfonica del Vallès, Cor Lieder Camera, Cor Amics de l’Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs.

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Sri Lanka, the Island Paradise with a Colourful Heritage


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sri Lanka map

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The “Island In The Sun” is the title song of the 1957 movie bearing the same name. It was written by Irving Burgie and sung by Harry Belafonte.

Oh island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

As morning breaks, the Heaven on high
I lift my heavy load to the sky
Sun comes down with a burning glow
Mingles my sweat with the earth below

Oh island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand

I see woman on bended knee
Cutting cane for her family
I see man at the waterside
Casting nets at the surging tide

Though this song addresses the island of Jamaica, it is equally applicable to Sri Lanka the pearl of the Indian Ocean and nature’s treasure chest.

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Sri Lanka, also known as India's Teardrop and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is an extension of peninsular India that got separated from the mainland.
Sri Lanka, also known as India’s Teardrop and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is an extension of peninsular India that got separated from the mainland.

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The island paradise, formerly known as Ceylon until 1972,  is in the northern Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.  It is one of the most delightful destinations in the world to visit.

Sri Lanka is the home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Though the island’s documented history spans over 2,550 years, evidence shows that it had prehistoric human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. Its history boasts of planned cities, magnificent palaces, temples, and monasteries, expansive reservoirs, green forests and gardens, monuments and works of art.

Sri Lanka due to its geographic location and endowed with natural harbours has been the cynosure of strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to World War II.

Today, Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system. The capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city.

Sri Lanka is home to many races speaking diverse languages, and following different religious faiths. It is the land of the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils, Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Veddas.

The island has a rich Buddhist heritage spanning from the time of the Indian Emperor Ashoka Maurya (304–232 BC) of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all the Indian subcontinent from circa 269 to 232 BCE. The first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon dates back to the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BCE.

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Stilts or Pole fishermen, Sri Lanka (Source: agmisgpn.org))
Stilts or Pole fishermen, Sri Lanka (Source: agmisgpn.org))

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The island is one of the most beautiful and delightful destinations in the world for tourists to visit. Its historical planned cities, magnificent palaces, temples, dagobas, monasteries, monuments, sculptures and other works of art, expansive artificial reservoirs, green gardens, etc., illustrate the characteristic rich history of its ancient rulers.

Here is a video titled “Heritage of Sri Lanka” produced by The Ministry of National Heritage Sri Lanka, which I enjoyed viewing and I hope you too will be delighted to view it as well.

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Three Years Ago, When Hurricane Sandy Pounded USA, I Was in Ellicott City, Maryland!


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Three years ago, when Hurricane Sandy, unofficially known as the “Superstorm Sandy”, devastated the United States in October 2012, I was in Ellicott City in Maryland.

Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in the history of the United States. It was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It all began on October 22, 2012.

A Timeline of Hurricane Sandy’s Path of Destruction
Monday, October 22, 2012

Developing in the southern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Nicaragua as a tropical easterly wave causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms, The depression strengthened and six hours later becomes Tropical Storm Sandy, with maximum winds of about 40 mph. It moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and gradually intensified.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On October 24, Sandy became a  Category 1 hurricane, moved northward across the Caribbean and made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica with winds of 80 mph.

Although Hurricane Sandy’s eye does not cross the Dominican Republic and Haiti to its east, the storm dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Hispaniola. More than 50 people died in flooding and mudslides in Haiti.

A few hours later, it re-emerged into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. Off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km).

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Detailed map compiled by NOAA on October 25, 2012, that shows the track of Hurricane Sandy (Source: gowally.com)
Detailed map compiled by NOAA on October 25, 2012, that shows the track of Hurricane Sandy (Source: gowally.com)

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Sandy strengthened as it moved from Jamaica to Cuba and made landfall in the historic city of Santiago de Cuba with winds of about 110 mph as a Category 3 hurricane.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sandy caused more devastation as it crossed the Bahamas and made a slight turn to the north-northwest.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sandy moved away from the Bahamas and made a turn to the northeast off the coast of Florida. Sandy weakened for a brief period of time to a tropical depression and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy continued moving northeast on a track parallel to the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As it approached latitude 35 degrees north off the coast of North Carolina, the hurricane’s eye stayed well offshore. Even then, the storm still a Category 1 hurricane with peak winds of about 80 mph sent powerful tsunami-like waves onto North Carolina’s Outer Banks washing out some places in NC Highway 12.

Due to an unusual configuration of converging weather factors meteorologists warned that the storm as it churns northward would likely morph into a powerful, hybrid super-storm.

A high-pressure cold front to Sandy’s north forced the storm to  turn to the northwest toward major cities such as Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and New York. And the meteorologists expected that in conjunctions with the effects of the full moon Sandy’s storm surge to be 11 to 12 feet in some places and a little higher as it made landfall.

Sandy expanded into a huge storm covering about 1,000 miles with strong winds.

Monday, October 29, 2012
This satellite image from NOAA shows Sandy on the morning of October 29, 2012 as it was about to begin its approach to the coast of New Jersey (Source: voices.nationalgeographic.com)
This satellite image from NOAA shows Sandy on the morning of October 29, 2012 as it was about to begin its approach to the coast of New Jersey (Source: voices.nationalgeographic.com)

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At 12:30 pm, Sandy made its expected sharp turn. It curved west-northwest (the “left turn” or “left hook”) and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds. The storm also has started interacting with other weather systems, gaining energy in the process. The storm dumped heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

During the afternoon, Sandy brought high winds and drenching rains from Washington, D.C. northward, toppling trees and power lines and cutting off electrical power for millions of people. The storm eventually affected more than 50 million people on the Eastern Seaboard.

At 8 pm, Sandy’s center came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The storm was no longer considered a hurricane, but was classified as a post-tropical Nor’easter. But the storm’s unusual path from the southeast made its storm surge much worse in New Jersey and New York.

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The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is flooded after a tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012 in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 39 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is flooded after a tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012, in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 39 lives in the United States and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

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A high storm surge, a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water occurred in New York City with a high tide of 14 ft (4.2 m),  a new record for a storm surge in the harbor, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. The surge tops the sea wall at The Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and floods parts of the city’s subway system. The surge also floods the Hugh Carey Tunnel, which links Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Spooky gray NYC skyline
Spooky gray NYC skyline

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The wind, rain and flooding from the huge storm pounded New Jersey and New York throughout the night and through three cycles of high tides and low tides.

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Tanker John B Caddell beached on Front Street, Staten Island (Photo: Jim Henderson)
Tanker John B Caddell beached on Front Street, Staten Island (Photo: Jim Henderson)

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Staten Island also was hit very hard by the storm. The Seattle Times later reported that towns such as Oakwood Beach, Midland Beach, South Beach and Tottenville — which lost many residents who were police and firefighters during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — were among the hardest-hit communities.

When I look back, I remember posting several times on Facebook on 29th and 30th October 2012 about Hurricane Sandy to benefit my friends and readers in the United States and to assure my kith and Kin in India that my family was safe:

7:00 am EDT:
From the Carolinas to Maine, Hurricane Sandy will affect 50 million people.

Hurricane Sandy is churning off the East Coast and is expected to join up with two other weather systems to create a huge and problematic storm affecting 50 million people. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening or expected, state by state.
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 CAROLINAS
The storm lashed barrier islands off North Carolina and rendered several homes and businesses nearly inaccessible. About 90 miles off the coast, a tall ship carrying 17 people was in distress; the Coast Guard was monitoring.
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CONNECTICUT
The number of power outages increased quickly in a state where utilities’ response to past weather-related failures has become a political issue. Connecticut Light & Power says hundreds of customers are without power. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked a task force to ensure fuel suppliers are fully stocked. Many residents along Long Island Sound heeded warnings and evacuated.

DELAWARE
Hundreds of people fled to shelters as the rough surf pounded the coast. Water covered some roads.

KENTUCKY
Snow is expected in mountainous areas.

MAINE
Officials predict coastal flooding and beach erosion, and utility crews have been brought in from Canada to handle anticipated power failures.

MARYLAND
Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday.

MASSACHUSETTS
Utilities brought in crews from as far away as Texas and the Midwest to cope with anticipated power failures. Most schools and colleges have canceled classes. The Boston transit authority said it would continue to operate as long it was safe.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Gov. John Lynch put 100 National Guard soldiers on active duty to help with preparations. Two shelters are being set up, and some schools have closed.

NEW JERSEY
Sandy’s center is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday. By daybreak, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying areas, and many inland towns hit by flooding from storm Irene last year issued evacuation orders.

NEW YORK
Many residents left low-lying flood evacuation zones, and the subway system shut down Sunday night. A storm surge of 11 feet is possible, the highest of all coastal areas being hit by Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets shut down for at least the day. Thousands of flights were canceled at the city’s major airports.

OHIO
Residents of low-lying areas and along Lake Erie were told to watch for flooding; utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees and poles. Snow is forecast in some areas.

PENNSYLVANIA
Many schools closed. Philadelphia shut down its mass transit system, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the city’s airport. Dozens of people took shelter at evacuation centers. Thousands of members of the National Guard have been told to be ready for deployment.

RHODE ISLAND
Several communities have ordered mandatory evacuations and many schools closed for the day. Big waves are expected to cause flooding along Narragansett Bay, which bisects the state. Authorities told people to be prepared for long periods without power.

TENNESSEE
Snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. High winds are expected in many areas.

VIRGINIA
About 2,000 customers lacked power, and a utility said as many as 1 million could ultimately lose electricity. Many residents of Chincoteague Island, popular with tourists, shrugged off the idea of evacuation.

VERMONT
Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a state of emergency to provide access to National Guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Culverts and storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The capital area’s transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003, and the Smithsonian Institution closed for the day.

WEST VIRGINIA
As much as 2 to 3 feet of snow were forecast in mountainous areas, and flooding was possible in some areas. Several shelters were put on standby, and power crews were mobilized to handle potential failures.

3:30 pm EDT:
Here in Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed is 41 mph NW. Not menacing at the moment.

3:40 pm EDT:
Landfall for Sandy within 3 hours time near Atlantic City, New Jersey shore with a wind speed of 90 mph in the center. The system moves at 18 mph.

8:40 pm EDT:
In Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed has risen to 49 mph WNW.
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8:54 pm EDT:
Sandy landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm.
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9:00 pm EDT:
Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 11.87 feet high. Water might enter NYC subway. Trains and buses won’t run on Tuesday (tomorrow).
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9:30 pm EDT:
Waters from Hudson river has breached the Manhattan Broadwalk. Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 13.7 feet high. MTA confirms that the subways are flooded.

1.5 million homes experience power outages in many states. In Maryland, 195,000 homes are without electric power. We have still not been hit by a power cut.

9:45 pm EDT:
Power surges, outages and flashes being experienced in the New York City area. Everything is dark over there. Manhattan is in darkness as well as the Statue of Liberty.

10:47 pm EDT:
All bridges were closed for traffic. Chesapeake Bay Bridge that connects Baltimore-DC area with the northern parts of Maryland such as Kent Island too was closed for traffic around 4 pm.

10:55 pmEDT:
Sandy is still on its way towards us playing havoc with everything in its path.

Sandy had its landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm. Ellicott City, MD is about 210 miles from the landfall area. The system is moving around 20 to 25 mph and I expect it to come here on Tuesday (tomorrow) morning around 6 am EDT.

Tuesday , October 30, 2012

2:10 am EDT:
Hurricane Sandy plays havoc: Widespread Power outages have occurred in all the north-eastern and eastern states. In Maryland, 391,005 homes are experiencing power cut.

2:15 am EDT:
Sandy is 10 miles southwest of Philadephia, PA.

10:50 am EDT:
Sandy has passed us. We did not incur any damages. We did not lose any power.

I thank all of you for praying for us.

However, my heart bleeds for those who have suffered and are undergoing hardships due to the havoc created by this “Frankenstorm” called SANDY.

11:00 am EDT:
Sandy: The loss to properties has been assessed between 10 and 20 billion dollars.

11:30 am EDT:
Sandy slammed New Jersey last night and early morning today. At least 16 deaths reported. Massive flooding, high winds, and widespread power outages hit the East Coast as Sandy moves inland.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy dissipated over western Pennsylvania, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its final advisory on the storm: “multiple centers of circulation in association with the remnants of Sandy can be found across the lower Great Lakes.”

Aftermath

Click on this line or the photo below to see photos of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. 

People scavenging for food in a dumpster where a Key Food supermarket has discarded spoiled food, due to power outages after Hurricane Sandy hit New York (Photo: Mr. Choppers)
People scavenging for food in a dumpster where a Key Food supermarket has discarded spoiled food, due to power outages after Hurricane Sandy hit New York (Photo: Mr. Choppers)

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Paintings of “Along the River During the Qingming Festival”


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The era of Song dynasty (宋朝) that succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in Chinese history began in 960 and continued until 1279. There are two distinct periods in the Song dynasty  – Northern and Southern.

During the Northern Song (北宋) period from 960 to 1127, the dynasty controlled most of China proper with the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) as its capital.

During the Southern Song (南宋) period from 1127 to 1279, the Song dynasty lost control of northern China in the Jin–Song Wars to the Jurchen Jin dynasty.

The Song dynasty was the first in world history to issue national bank notes or true paper money, the first Chinese regime to establish a permanent navy, and the first to use gunpowder. It was during the Song dynasty that the Chinese found the true north using a compass.

The Qing Ming Shang He Tu (simplified Chinese: 清明上河图; traditional Chinese: 清明上河圖) or “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” is a scroll painting created by the famous Chinese painter Zhang Zeduan (1085 – 1145) alias Zheng Dao who lived during the transitional period from the Northern Song to the Southern Song and was instrumental in the early history of the Chinese landscape art style known as shan shui.

This painting considered the most renowned work among all Chinese paintings dubbed as “China’s Mona Lisa” has a theme of the worldly commotion and the festive spirit during the celebration of the Qingming Festival. It encapsulates the landscape of the capital, Bianjing, today’s Kaifeng and the life of its people.

This scroll painting is 9.76 inches (24.8 cm) in height and 17.35 feet (5.287 metres) long. It depicts the bustling and lively life and beautiful natural scenery on both sides of the river that meanders through Kaifeng, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty during the Qingming Festival. The two main portions in the painting are the countryside and the market in the densely populated city. It has more than 170 trees, 30 buildings, 814 humans, 8 sedan chairs, over 60 horses and other animals, 20 vehicles, and 28 boats.

The painting reveals the lifestyle of all levels of the society from rich to poor in successive scenes and offers glimpses of the architecture and clothing of the Song period.

For centuries, the scroll painting was a pride of the personal imperial collections of the Chinese emperors.

Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the Last Emperor (Source - Japanese magazine 'Historical Photograph,' March 1934 issue published by Rekishi-Shasin Kai)
Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the Last Emperor (Source – Japanese magazine ‘Historical Photograph,’ March 1934 issue published by Rekishi-Shasin Kai)

The original Song dynasty painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” was a favorite of Puyi (February 7, 1906 – October 17, 1967), also known as Henry Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing dynasty. At the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1945, he took it along with him when he left Beijing. It was then re-purchased and kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.

The following video describes how the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” painting showcased the best of life in the Song Dynasty – one of the golden ages of China.

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Remakes of the painting

Revered as a work of art, the scroll painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” inspired the creation of several works of art during subsequent dynasties. Court artists made re-interpretive versions of the painting by reviving and updating the style of the original. Even though each of these later paintings follow the composition and the original theme, they differ in details and painting techniques.

The Yuan version
Zhao Mengfu (1254 - 1322)
Zhao Mengfu (1254 – 1322)

During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) made a remarkable remake of the original,

The Ming version

Another notable remake painted during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) is 22 feet (6.7 metres) long and is longer than the original Song version.

Based on contemporary fashions and customs the Ming version replaced the scenery from the Song dynasty to that of the Ming dynasty with the costumes worn by the people updated and the styles of vehicles (boats and carts) changed.

The bridge scene in the original Qing Ming Shang He Tu painting - An oncoming boat is in danger of crashing into the bridge.
The bridge scene in the original Qing Ming Shang He Tu painting – An oncoming boat is in danger of crashing into the bridge.

In the original Song painting,  the crew of an oncoming boat have not yet fully lowered their sails and are in danger of crashing into wooden the bridge.

Men ashore guiding a boat by pulling ropes tied to it in the Ming version.
Men ashore guiding a boat by pulling ropes tied to it in the Ming version.

In the Ming version, a stone bridge with a taller arch replaced the Song wooden bridge, and men ashore guide the boat under the bridge by pulling ropes tied to it.

The Qing version

On January 15, 1737, the Qianlong Emperor received a present of a version painted by five Qing dynasty court painters (Chen Mu, Sun Hu, Jin Kun, Dai Hong and Cheng Zhidao). This Qing remake is much larger – 36 feet (11 metres) long and  1 ft 1.68 inches (35 cm) high – and has over 4,000 people in it.

While in the original Song version, the leftmost side contains images of the busy city, the leftmost third of this Qing version depicts life within the palace, with buildings and people appearing refined and elegant. Most people within the castle are women along with some well-dressed officials.

The Qianlong Emperor in his study, painting by Giuseppe Castiglione, (1688 - 1766).
The Qianlong Emperor in his study, painting by Giuseppe Castiglione, (1688 – 1766).

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In April 1742, a poem composed by the Qianlong Emperor was added to the rightmost end of the Qing remake.  The poem reads as follows:

蜀錦裝金壁   – A wall of gold has been mounted on Shu brocade.
吳工聚碎金   – Craftsmen from Wu collect spare change
謳歌萬井富 – To pay tribute to the abundance of a myriad of families.
城闕九重深  – The watchtowers of the city rise to great heights.
盛事誠觀止  – The bustling scene is truly impressive.
遺踪借探尋 – It is a chance to explore vestiges of bygone days.
當時誇豫大 – At that time, people marveled at the size of Yu,
此日歎徽欽 – And now, we lament the fates of Hui and Qin.

In 1949, the National Palace Museum in Taipei received the Qing version along with many other artifacts.

Over the centuries, many affluent Chinese treasured the original Qingming scroll. Eventually, it returned to public ownership.

The original Song dynasty painting now kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the Qing version in the Taipei Palace Museum, are both considered national treasures and are exhibited every few years for brief periods.

The following video with narration in Chinese shows the different versions of the remakes of the “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” but uses the Ming version to explain the life of the Chinese then, in the near past, and now.

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Digital version

Logo of Shanghai World Expo 2010.

From May 1 to October 31, 2010, China hosted Expo 2010, a major World Expo,  officially known as the Expo 2010 Shanghai China in the tradition of international fairs and expositions.

A 3D animated, viewer-interactive digital version of the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” titled “River of Wisdom“, screened for three months was the primary exhibit at the China Pavilion. This elaborate computer animated mural about 30 times the size of the original scroll had moving characters and objects that made the painting come to life. It presented the scene in a four-minute day to night cycles. Those who reserved in advance had to queue up to two hours to see the 3D animated version.

After the Expo, the digital version was on display at the AsiaWorld–Expo in Hong Kong from November 9 to 29, 2010; at the Macau Dome in Macau from March 25 to April 14, 2011; and at the Expo Dome in Taipei, Taiwan from July 1 to September 4, 2011.

From December 7, 2011, to February 6, 2012, a digital reproduction was exhibited at the Singapore Expo titled “A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art“.

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