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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Computing, Libraries, Tennis, India & other interests of Vikas Kamat

New Year's Links Durable Link to this BLOG
New Year's Links

A card I won't be recieving this year.

"The New Year keeps on comin'" -- a famous New Year's Poem by D.R. Bendre.
(pardon the my translation errors, if you know the original poem

Something I learnt today: Russian Christmas is actually celebrated on New Year's Eve!
After the communists banned (1917) Christmas, the Russians started celebrating Christmas in secret, during the New Years Eve party. It was only since 1992 that Christmas is allowed in Russia.

Lots of new contents already added for the new year at Kamat's Potpourri.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Last Modified: 2/25/2003

America and India Durable Link to this BLOG
India and America

IndiaInfo: It's a Topsy, Turvy World.

Foremost, a bow and  a hat tip to Dr. Vidyasagar for speaking up on an important subject, educating the masses of India on the inside matters of the "American Dream",  and inspiring youngsters in India to pursue their dreams while living in India, even while risking his own reputation as an intellectual, and opening himself to criticism and ridicule, this blog entry being an instance.

Prof. M. Vidyasagar takes on the often discussed, and silly topic of comparing India with USA. If the purpose of the article was to provide hope and motivation to the RRIs (the real Indians), and inspiration to CR2Is (Indians abroad Considering Returning to India), he succeeds. He is right on target about RNIs (Resident non-Indians), people taking loans after loans to maintain legal status at US schools, and advancements in Indian IT/Telcom infrastructure.

However, I feel that the author comes out as an unripe academic without the knowledge of India's greatest problems. -- I am sure all of us in our eighth grade had a Mr. SmartyPants, who'd come up with irrelevant concepts and statistics just not to lose an argument.  For instance, Vidyasagar in an effort to compare standards of living, says that the price a coffee in an air-conditioned room is cheaper in India than in USA. I wonder what percentage of people in India he is talking about (less than 0.001%). He starts his comparison of the currencies at Rs. 50 and not at Rs.4 when my father returned to India, not even at Rs.18 when I left India not so long ago.

He also makes the grave mistake of assuming that everybody leaves India for better economic opportunity. It might be true of many people, but not of everyone. Some people are misfits in India who cannot withstand the hopelessly complex network of  caste, bollywood, mafia, poverty, nepotism, and politics. He forgets that most people's conscience would bother them to come out of five-star hotel to witness a barefooted pregnant woman working on a construction site.

On a recent visit to India, my wife and I were traveling in a friend's car via a polluted area of Bangalore. My wife was appalled by the pollution outside, to which the friend assured "Don't worry Dr. Kamat, my car is air-conditioned". That sentence and attitude summarizes the essence of Vidyasagar's essay. "I am doing well, I do not have a problem, so India is doing well, and India doesn't have a problem!!"

IMHO, until the status of the pregnant laborer improves, all this comparison of India with a developed nation is laughable. I honestly believe that the difference between the rich and the poor is much greater today in India, and the opportunities for the have-nots are much smaller today in India than it was ten years ago.

I end my notes with a profound quote by Basavanna that I often tell people who compare standards of living in different societies in order to consider immigration.

"One who is adequate here, will be adequate there." 
-- Basavanna, 12th century sage, referring to earth and heaven.

See Related Topics:

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, January 06, 2003
Last Modified: 1/8/2003

What's New at Durable Link to this BLOG
New Contents at Kamat's Potpourri

I have added a lot of new contents to Kamat's Potpourri, including about 100 new pictures to the PICTURESearch. The total search-able pictures now exceed 7500!

List of New Contents

Title of the PageMedia
Surya the Sun GodPicture
Geographica Indica: Topics on IndologyIndex
Woman Doorkeeper from a Goan TemplePicture
A Street in MalleswaramPicture
Senior Citizens of MalleswaramPicture
"Take a Peacock Fan Home today"Picture
A Kathak DancerPicture
Temple on Wooden Wheels, GoaPicture
Jewelry Box Carved Out of IvoryPicture
Kannada Researcher and Writer Sham. Ba. JoshiPicture
Portrait of Prof. A. N . Murthy RaoPicture
Unchalli Waterfalls near SiddapurPicture
Krishna and Radha Enjoy NaturePicture
The Burden of BeadsPicture
Muslim Students at a MadrassahPicture
Questions & Answers on the ElephantsFAQ
View of the Nilgiri Mountains, Tamil NaduPicture
Bison Horn Maria DrummerPicture
Kamat Writing a LetterPicture
Electronic Journals Management SystemsWeblog

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Last Modified: 1/9/2003

Vikas on Libraries Durable Link to this BLOG
Vikas on Libraries

I have written an evaluation guide to buying e-journals management systems, and comparing EBSCOhost EJS service plans. It includes many definitions of what is required of a sophisticated electronic journals management system. Read it here.

• My other blogs on Libraries
• Library Costs in a Real World

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, January 09, 2003
Last Modified: 2/25/2003
Tags: library

List of New Contents Durable Link to this BLOG
What's New

After a long lapse, there're new entries in Amma's Column. Check 'em out.

More New Contents Added in the last couple of days:

Title of the PageMedia
Tree and Plant WorshipIndex
Picture from a Saree CatalogPicture
One Woman Takes on Two MenPicture
Horse Mounted Tiger HunterPicture
Portait of a Muslim BusinessmanPicture
Prehistoric Warriors Picture
The Female of the TribePicture
The Newly Weds in Traditional Wedding AttirePicture
Members of a Joint FamilyPicture

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Saturday, January 11, 2003
Last Modified: 1/12/2003

Sankranti Greetings Durable Link to this BLOG
Happy Pongal/Sankranti

I wish all our friends, advertisers, and readers a very happy Pongal/Sankranti festival.

Sankranti is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India, but essentially it is welcoming of the Spring. See numerous pictures of celebration of this festival in Kamat PICTURESearch.

A common observance in western India is to exchange sweets and say, "Accept this sweets, and utter sweet words". tilgul ghya, ani goad bola.

© K. L. Kamat
Sweetened Oil Seeds Mark  the Sankranti Festival
Sankranti Greetings

Blog Calendar is Back!

My calendar widget for the blog broke after I made the blogging software multi-user. Last weekend I took sometime from laying of hardwood floors, and fixed this bug. Here's the Blog Calendar for January 2003 for AnthoBLOGy.

 January 2003

With this enhancement, as you hover the mouse on a link, it tells the title of the blog it will take you. Also, I can add blog calendars into any blog entry for any blog. For instance, the following is the calendar for the Aperture Photo Blog.

 January 2003

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, January 13, 2003
Last Modified: 1/12/2003
Tags: greetings

Vitriol on Bollywood Durable Link to this BLOG
Pouring Some Vitriol on Bollywood
  • According to this story, only 4% of Bollywood movies are profitable. I'd say that's a percentage one too many, for the quality of movies they make ;-- )
  • Director Govind Nihalani (one of the few people I admire in Bollywood) claims Bollywood cannot make a Titanic or a Terminator. He forgets that you can put a stationary camera in front of a well-directed play of Tagore, Karnad, or Tendulkar, and we'd have a great Indian movie. The problems with bollywood are lack of fresh talent, nepotism, the mafia nexus, and most importantly, unwillingness to change.
  • Every time I deplore Bollywood, some Indians come up to me and say, "Bollywood is not for you, it is for the poor of India who need to escape the misery of their life". These people somehow think they are intellectually superior to the poor. They somehow believe that the poor have no imagination or sensitivity or feelings. They think the poor have no intellect to understand complex plots, and no intellect to appreciate subtle beauty.

My only purpose of criticizing Bollywood is to improve it.

Search more blog entries on Bollywood

Notes to Regular Readers
  • January 2003 Newsletter Secure Site - Requires Login is out to Friends of Kamat
  • I have been planning to build a Timeline of Hinduism for a long time, and finally have a prototype going. Please let me know (Contact Kamats) of important omissions. 
  • Kamat Blog Portal now imports pings from -- so if you have a account, do sign up for their Public Listing option, so when you update your blog, it will reflect in Blog Portal as well.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, January 16, 2003
Last Modified: 1/16/2003

Australian Open Update Durable Link to this BLOG
Australian Open Update

The following is cut-and-pasted entry from my wife's tennis blog.

Link to Australian Open website.

  • Agassi survived. What a match! How do you like Escude's backhand down-the-line!
  • Too Bad: After the two sets up, Mardy Fish gives in to Ferreira.
  • Capriati's party pooper Weingartner is out.
  • Both Belgian girls, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin look awfully good giving bagels and sticks on the way. If I had a boyfriend/husband like Hewitt, I'd play like that too. ;-- )
  • Stay tuned for Henin and Davenport match-up on Saturday.
  • ESPN Early-round Coverage:
    • Friday 1/16: 1 PM at ESPN and 10:30 PM at ESPN2
    • Saturday 1/17: 2:30 AM at ESPN2 and 9 PM at ESPN2
    • Sunday 1/18: 1 PM at ESPN and 9 PM at ESPN2

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, January 17, 2003
Last Modified: 1/17/2003

Area (STD) Code for Honavar Durable Link to this BLOG
Area (STD) Code for Honavar?

I am told that the STD (area) codes for Honavar are changed. Does anyone know the new ones? Pl. let me know via email (Contact Kamats) or via Yahoo instant messenger as vikas_kamat

It used to be 08387. My mother gave me the new one as 0387 over the telephone, but that doesn't seem to work.8-(

Thank you!

See: Pictures of Honavar, History of Honavar

Update Jan 20, 2003, Noon

I've gotten five different answers from five different sources. The mystery continues....
• Link to Bharat Sanchar Nigam's Search (says it's 0838)
• Link to Google' Search
• 387 instead of 8387
• 8386 instead of 8387
• Info. from a relative: Add a number 7 between old code and the number

Other than the last one, I've tried all, and they don't work.

Update Jan 21, 2003, 8:25 PM

I've finally figured it out. The new area code for Honavar is 83877. For the town of Kumta it is 83866.

Even the residents of this town didn't know their area code was changed. There was no notice, no public posting, not even a message when folks dialed the old area code. Welcome to e-Governance, a pet keyword of the politicians in India.

Update November 21, 2004, 9:21 PM

True to their modus operandi the telephone authorities have changed the area code again! The new area code for Honavar as of November 21 is: 83872

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Sunday, January 19, 2003
Last Modified: 10/24/2004 9:26:12 PM

Thunders and Tremors Down Under Durable Link to this BLOG
Australian Open Update

  • Aynaoui kicked out Hewitt. He aced Hewitt 33 times.
  • From 2 sets down, Roddick came back and defeated Youzhny. Now Roddick will face Aynaoui. Hope Aynaoui won't have a big serving day.
  • Blake lost to Schuettler in 4 sets.
  • In another young guns epic match, Nalbandian defeated Federer in 5 sets.
  • Venus, Serena, Klijsters, and Shaugnessy advanced to quarter finals.
  • Chanda Rubin lost to Myskina. Rubin along with Kournikova also lost in doubles.
  • In Women's doubles, interesting to see 2 matches: Venus/Serena vs. Klijsters/Sugiyama; Stubbs/Pierce vs. Davenport/Raymond
  • In men's doubles, Woodbridge and Lapentti defeated American Bryan twins.
  • ESPN Early-round Coverage Today: 1:30 AM at ESPN and 9:30 PM at ESPN2 (Agassi vs. Grosjean)
  • Link to Full Coverage

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, January 20, 2003
Last Modified: 1/20/2003

Australian Open 2003 Update Durable Link to this BLOG
Australian Open Update

  • Agassi moves on to semis; he quickly disposed tired Grosjean in 3 sets.
  • In a small upset, Ferrero lost to Ferreira in 3 sets. Ferreira will face Agassi in the semis.
  • Venus defeated Hantuchova; Justine Henin is also through. They will meet in the semis.
  • In women's doubles, Venus/Serena defeated Klijsters/Sugiyama; Davenport/Raymond defeated Stubbs/Pierce, which is no surprise; after all, Raymond's got a better partner.
  • In men's doubles, Woodbridge and Lapentti are out. Woodbridge is still alive in mixed doubles with Daniilidou.
  • In mixed doubles, Paes/Navratilova pair will meet Bhupathi/Tulyaganova team. Paes and Bhupathi are former longtime doubles partners. FYI, Navratilova's birth year is 1956 and her career prize money is $ 20,533,074, whereas Tulyaganova's are 1982 and $ 662,074, respectively. Who do you think has a better partner, Paes or Bhupathi? .
  • ESPN Coverage Today: 1/21: 1 PM at ESPN and 9:30 PM at ESPN2

Symbols of India

On account of forthcoming Republic Day of India, I am working on a new section: Indian Insignia.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
Tags: tennis

Konkani and Marathi Durable Link to this BLOG
Konkani or Marathi?

In his widely read and distributed article The History of Konkani Language, Kamat writes that "..when Konkani language had reached maturity, the Marathi language was not even born." This view has not gone well with the folks who consider Konkani language as a dialect of Marathi language.

The close resemblance of some dialects of Konkani with Marathi has been the source of many a heated arguments and disputes all over India for a long time. It was not until recently that Konkani was awarded recognition as a separate and an official language under the constitution of India.

Today, Ravikant Bhat, a patron from the heart of  Maharashtra wrote to me asking on what basis does Kamat claim that the language of Jnaneshwari as Konkani, when most sources ascribe it as Marathi.

I have not read Jnaneshwari, and I do not have the linguistic depth to comment on what my father has written. However, I point to the following.

I searched through all of published scholarly research databases available to me to determine an approximate date of origin of Marathi literature, and I am not able to find the date of first Marathi manuscript accurately. Most sources attribute the origins to 13th century.

It is said that Sant Jnaneshwar wanted to reach the masses, and he used the language of the masses. If we assume that Jnaneshwar lived in the 13th century, he couldn't have written an epic in a language that was at its infancy, rather one in which that was established and popular. In the course of history, the Marathas claimed ownership of  the masterpiece and Jnaneshwar came to be worshipped as the "...founder of Marathi language and literature" (link).

Let us now move south of Maharashtra into today's Karnataka and back three hundred years to the 10th century. We see numerous instances of established Konkani culture, and art belonging to the Ganga and Hoysala period. In Saraswats of Past, my mother establishes that the very first Hoysala temple that was built, was by a Konkani lady. As a visual proof, I am providing a picture  (of 10th century) here that clearly shows the Konkani words "karavaille" at the bottom of the great Gomateshwara statue (Gomata in Konkani means handsome) at Shravanabelagola. This is in a area far away from Marathi influence, and in the Dravidan heartland.

© K. L. Kamat
Carving at the footstep of Gomateshwara
Marathi or Konkani ?

Again, you might see many people argue that this indeed is Marathi, due to the closeness of the sentence in spoken old Marathi, and the script that's been used. But wait, how can you write in a language that is not born yet?!

IMO, it is possible that Konkani and Marathi both originated and evolved from this intermediately language that Jnaneshwari is written in, as is the above inscription.  But as Kamat has written, due to the tumultuous events of last 700 years the Konkani community has been fragmented and has lost much of its originality and literature, whereas Marathi benefited from patronage under the Marathas & Peshwas, and the homogeneity of its scholars.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Last Modified: 1/22/2003

Feature-Tease Durable Link to this BLOG
Feature-Tease is Bad for Business

What is Feature-Tease?

These days it has become very common for service providers to entice customers by giving glimpses of features (also called premier versions)  that the customers don't have, in the hope that customers would want them, and would pay for them. This is called Feature-tease.

First, a story from India (that's where I learnt most of my lessons): In our family shop where we sell clothes, if  a customer comes in to buy a product, say under ten bucks, he is never shown products that cost more than twelve bucks. The idea is that if the customer likes a product that he cannot afford, then he is not going to be satisfied with the product he eventually buys. I think it is very true.  What is worse is that the customer might not buy anything today.

Now enter consumerism,where every product is available to anyone who wishes to try a hand on it. The critics review them, magazines compare them, and people with bigger wallets buy better products. That's a given, and we understand how it works.

Feature-tease comes in when the vendor tries to seduce the buyer into buying something in the nick of time, or into something that the consumer wouldn't have bought otherwise. It's like selling life insurance at airport check-in counter, or Hotmail asking you to upgrade when your mailbox becomes full, with "See what you are Missing" messages. It has become so rampant that we don't even think about it.

Imagine the car telling you at a stop light, "If you spent $5000 and upgrade your engine you can reach 60 mph in four seconds, instead of the eight it takes right now", or  the wife telling "I should have married Dave". That's feature-tease. It is a reminder of what you don't have.

IMO, feature-tease is very offensive and hence very bad for business. Most strategists don't realize this and engage in aggressive feature-teasing.

Feature teasing is different from impulse-selling.  Catering to impulse-buying habits is indirect marketing;  feature-teasing is a direct approach, and  a lousy one at that.

More business advice from the trenches:

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, January 23, 2003
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
Tags: bizwise

Amma and her Blog Durable Link to this BLOG
Happy Birthday Amma!

Amma (my mother that is) is truly a woman of our times. She's the embodiment of  what was good  of the old, and what's good of the new.  A distinguished scholar, an able administrator (she retired as the director of state controlled All India Radio), a humorist, a housewife, a historian, her facets are many. But the strength of her personality is her most inspiring quality.

Indian philosopher Vivekananda has said that a person's achievement must be measured in the obstacles he overcomes, and when I look at Amma's life, she appears as a giant. Loss of mother at a very early age, economic hardships, war-time diseases, frequent relocations, health ailments, the glass-ceiling, and many other problems that shaped her life apparently have only strengthened her. I am amazed by her courage to dispel superstition and myths, as I am humbled by her acceptance of life.

Many people do not know this: it was my mother who made my father. It was she who first saw the elements of greatness in him, and bloomed his character. (Read about it in his own words)

I can go on and on about Amma, but I just wanted to write a paragraph about her on her birthday today. Happy Birthday Amma!

I end with a picture of her, in long braided hair and in a saree, crossing a stream in the deep forest, to visit a remote tribal village in central India, to study the role of women in tribal societies. It might not be great picture, but it has a lot of meaning.

© K. L. Kamat
Finding a New Path
Where there's will, there's way

Lengths People Go to Maintain a Blog

Amma's Column, my mother's blog What's This? , started when she was visiting USA was "perhaps the most low-tech blog" (see her introduction). Upon her return to India it has become even more low-tech! Now she writes her entry, mails to me via postal mail, which is then typed, proof-read, linked, and published. So an entry goes online after a month or so!

There was one blog entry, (an obituary to a great scholar) that was dictated over telephone, sent via instant messenger by a cousin, and then blogged. A blogger has to use all the means necessary!

The wonderful side-effect of the delay in blogging is that my mother is writing about topics that are not dependent on news. Her entries are timeless, in that ten years from now you can still read her blog entries for the first time, and they would be relevant and fresh. One day I hope to pull her best blog entries and compile into a book.

Due to the nature of their creation, my mother's blog entries are devoid of external links, thus defeating all known definitions of what a weblog is.;-- )

Anyway, I feel very proud that fruits of her scholarship are being distributed in tiny slices, via a brand new medium.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, January 24, 2003
Last Modified: 1/29/2003

My Father, about his wife Durable Link to this BLOG

"That Blog was About Me!"

My blog entry about my mother brought tears to eyes of many mothers, because they felt that it was true about themselves, or their own mothers.

I really don't know what to say. Mumble, mumble.

But to substantiate my point (that she made my father), I dug up a letter my dad wrote to me on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary.

Excerpted and translated from a letter my father wrote to me on February 10, 1991

I believe that I must have performed incredible charitable work (punya) in my previous births to have a wife like Jyotsna. She never stopped growing intellectually since our marriage, and has been instrumental  in development of my hobbies and outlook. While I consider obtaining the doctorate was my own achievement, the fruits of my fame as a writer and a photographer entirely belong to your mother.

Every human needs a catalyst or a mentor to recognize and unleash the creativity embedded in him, and I have been lucky to have Amma by my side. In the last twenty-five years, every published work of mine has been reviewed and copy-edited by her in addition to preparing press copies. Had Jyotsna been not supportive or interested in my work, I would have never pursued them to the extent that I did.  

For a top executive at the All India Radio to identify herself as a wife of a mere photographer is no small thing in our society, but she has understood and supported my Scientific Photo business for the last twenty years. Can you imagine my life if I had married someone whose measure of success was the paycheck of her husband ?!

Complete Letter

• Two is a Team
• Kamat Letters Archive -- Table of Contents

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Last Modified: 3/2/2003

Thinking Outside the Blog Durable Link to this BLOG
Thinking Outside the Blog

For the next few days I am going to be thinking outside the blog, watching movies, learning oil painting, and losing my weight (The Software-Firmware Weigh-in is approaching).

Meanwhile, please enjoy these old entries. If you haven't read them, they are new to you!

Personal Stories from India (All on One Page)

Blogs on Blogs (All on One Page)

You can also try my Blog Factory for manufactured entries. AutoBlogs reduce reliance on people, can be cheaply mass-produced, and consumers love them.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, January 30, 2003
Last Modified: 1/31/2003

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