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Basket-making in India

Weaving of baskets in India is an art as ancient as the making of pottery. Even the nomadic food gathering cultures wove reeds together to prepare baskets. Later, different materials and cultures developed a variety of basketry for domestic use, as well as for ritual purposes. They developed special patterns based on local traditions and techniques. Baskets as we know them are made out of twigs, bamboo, cane and the wild monsoon grass, and are covered with golden grass or the golden outer skin of the rice plant....

Is Bamboo a Grass!

Is Bamboo a Grass!

If you look at a blade of grass and a bamboo tree they remind you of a mouse and an elephant. But unlike those animals, the grass and the bamboo belong to the same family. They are brothers! The bamboo is the largest member of the grass family. It grows in Asia, South America and Africa. It has about 500 different varieties. They all have smooth, hollow jointed stems with a strong watertight partition at each joint....

The Last of the Big Ones

The red-and-silver Dragonfly happily flitted across the pool: “Zim, Zim, Zim, Over the water I skim. Now dart in, Now dart out, Dash across And turn about.” The Last of the Big Ones [By Uma Anand] “Oh, bother,” croaked a hoarse voice as with a plop, a large Bullfrog settled himself on a lily pad. “A little less darting and dashing might be better all round. It’s hot and dusty enough without your hovering above my head....

The Making of the Goddess

The Making of the Goddess

On an ordinary day, the names Kumartuli and Krishnanagar would not make much of a difference to a Bengali. But come Durga Puja, and these two ordinary towns near Calcutta, become the focus of great attention. For it is here that the clay idols of Durga are made. This age-old tradition of clay sculpture has been preserved by the community of Pals. Months before the Puja, clay artisans start to breathe life into the images of Durga....

The Taziyas of Old Delhi

The Taziyas of Old Delhi

I was wandering in the crowded streets of Chandni Chowk, the heart of purani Dilli or Old Delhi. Until India gained independence in 1947 and a new Delhi came up, it was the ‘only’ Delhi. For close to 300 years, it had been the seat of Mughal power and culture, especially when it came to cuisine. And that is what drew me to that place! I had taken the day off to savour Chandni Chowk’s famous parathas and the juicy sweet jalebi at the famous 200-year-old sweet shop, Ghantewala....

The Black Hole of Social Weights and Measures

William James Sidis could speak five languages and read Plato in original Greek by the age of five. At eight he passed the entrance for Harvard but had to wait three years to be admitted. Even so he became Harvard’s youngest scholar and graduate in 1914 at the age of sixteen. Frequently featured in ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’, Sidis made the front page of ‘The New York Times’ nineteen times.’ The story defies all conventional norms and may even sound like a joke if you found out that Sidis was born on April 1, 1898....

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