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The First Notes of Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived just 35 years. But he filled those years so totally with 626 musical works that the world today recognises him as one of the greatest composers ever. Among his works were 50 symphonies and 19 operas, including much-loved works like The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute. Mozart was born in the Austrian...

Who or What is a Gladiator?

It all started in ancient Rome. The most brutal sport that has ever existed in the history of the world was the fights between gladiators. The 'sport' traces its roots to the custom among the Etruscan people, a civilisation in Italy that existed before the Roman civilisation. At the death of the master of the house, servants would duel...

A Sojourn in Venice

Venice is one of Italy's major seaports, and capital of the province of Venezia in northern Italy. It was the greatest seaport in late medieval Europe and Europe's commercial and cultural link with Asia. It is also one of the world's oldest tourist and cultural centres. Aditi De writes of her visit to this most romantic of cities. Venice...

Albert Einstein

German-American physicist Albert Einstein contributed more than any other scientist to the 20th-century vision of physical reality. In the wake of World War I, Einstein's theories, especially his theory of relativity, seemed to many people to point to a pure quality of human thought, one far removed from the war and its aftermath. Seldom has a scientist received such...

The Best Storyteller in the World

Bajai," as we called grandmother, was the best storyteller in the world. Her tales of jewelled ladies and brave warriors, of civilisations that ended due to famine, floods, war or volcanic eruptions, filled our young lives with fantasy. Nestling in the foothills of Mussoorie is a tiny village called Johri Gaun (Johri village) where we spent part of our summer...

Why is the Bridge of Sighs so Called?

The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte de Sospiri), is in Venice, Italy, and connects the inquisitor's room in the east side of the Doge's palace with the state's prison or prigioni over the Rio de Palazzo. Work on the Doge's palace (residence of the Duke) or Palazzo Ducale was begun in the 14th century and got its present shape only...

How the Gorkhas Came to Dehradun

Some time ago, Madhu Gurung wrote about her grandmother who was the best storyteller in the world. Once 'Bajai' as she was called, told a different kind of a story - a real story of how the Gorkha warriors of Nepal came to settle down in Dehradun. Among them was Bajai's grandfather, the chieftain of a clan. Bajai...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Roosevelt served longer than any other president and held office during two great crises: the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II (1939-1945). Roosevelt was born in Hyde Park, New York. In 1899 he entered Harvard College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1903. In 1904 Roosevelt moved to New York City, where he entered the Columbia University...

What are Truffles?

Every year, between November and March, people in southern France and Italy are busy trampling the woods, sniffing the air and peering under the roots of elm and oak trees looking for truffles. Truffles? Hey, its no trifling matter - there are organisations in France and Italy which let you take part in truffle hunts! Truffles are a rare and...

Finding a Match for an Elephant

Where: Rome, Italy July 1, 2000 : Calimero, a twenty-year-old African elephant, who has been pining for his lost love, may soon find a new love. But romance may not come easy for this lovelorn jumbo because he will have to travel across the Alps in order to find his dream girl. Calimero was brought to the Rome Zoo when...

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Which is the Oldest Church in India?

In 52 A.D. Thomas Didaemus, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ is believed to have landed at Musiris (Cranganore) in Kerala. He...

How Far Away are the Stars?

The sun is a star, just like the thousands of others we see in the sky each night. But it looks so very big....

Magic of Kondapalli Toys

Did you know that animals, birds, reptiles and humans learn the lessons of life through play? Any object can be used as a toy....

Lonely Kalu

Kalu was the only son of a farmer and his wife. "I wish I had a brother or a sister, to play with," he told...

How Do Fish Survive in Icy Waters?

In cold winter months, lakes and rivers freeze over forming ice. Yet, fish and other aquatic animals manage to survive. Animals like seals, penguins, walruses...