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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


Milestones Durable Link to this BLOG

I have two milestones to mark today.

First, the number of digitized pictures on Kamat's Potpourri have reached 8000.

Second, the number of monthly page-views on Kamat's Potpourri exceeded 2 million (was 2,300,000 actually for April) for the first time.

Tomorrow is Weigh-in Day

In the Weight-loss contest that I am playing, I have crossed 25% of my original weight. It ends tomorrow, with the winner set to take most of the $1200 pot.

Tomorrow: How to lose 25% of your weight in four months. (Hint: I did it the old-fashioned way)

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, May 1, 2003
Last Modified: 5/2/2003


Tips for Losing Weight Durable Link to this BLOG
Weight Loss Tips

I participated in a peer-to-peer weight loss contest (I came in third after losing 45 pounds or 25% of my weight) and am compiling some first person tips. These suggestions are not revolutionary or new, because they are based on age old wisdom. They surely worked for me - I went from 178.8 lbs (80 Kgs) to 133.2 (60 Kgs) in four months. Also from a waist size of 36 inches to a size of 30 inches.

  • Do not skip breakfast. This is important. If you want to skip a meal, skip lunch or dinner, but not breakfast. I recommend bagels (with cream cheese), cereals, eggs, and fruit. Avoid pan cakes, biscuits, and especially sausage and bacon.
  • Reduce food intake. I wanted to lose 20% of my weight, so I started eating 20% less. If you usually eat five slices of Pizza, just eat four. If you drink four sodas per day, drink only three.
  • Avoid specific items that has high-persistence (read fat)  value. I ate Pizza and Hamburgers during the four months, but not fried chicken or steaks. Eat no fried food.
  • Consume at least one serving of a vegetable and/or fruit per day. Eat more carbohydrates (like oats, wheat), grains (beans, pulses), and low calorie meats (fish, turkey). Avoid butter, ice-cream, alcohol, and sweets as much as possible.
  • Perform thirty minutes of physical exercise everyday. This can include walking, jogging, working out, or sports (I played tennis four to five times a week during the four months).
  • Measure your weight daily, and note it down on a paper. This is very important because it is a daily reminder of your goals.

Some other contestants  tried Protein focused Atkins Diet, Donating Blood often, and Diet Pills.  I don't endorse them, not only because I didn't try them, but also because my way is the healthiest way to lose weight.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, May 2, 2003
Last Modified: 5/2/2003


Charity Dinner Notes Durable Link to this BLOG
Fundraiser for Head Injury Survivors

I attended a fund-raiser for Alabama Head Injury Foundation last evening and admired a segment of what-makes America-great, that I had not seen before.

If I can use the term, it was an upper-society event with "cocktail-dress" code (I didn't know what that was, but guessed correctly), exotic food (catered by Culinard), and a lot of peer networking. We met CEOs and CFOs who control Birmingham's economy, the attorneys and FBI agents who prosecute them, and then run for public office, and the lawyers who defend them. We met surgeons, administrators, ex-sports stars, and many other rich people. The dinner itself was held in a castle-like house -- imagine a house where two hundred people can sit and have formal dinner, and where the guests had to be driven to the house in a taxi from the lawns.

I know that many people would frown upon  partying in the name of charity. In fact my own upbringing taught me to treat charity as a duty and a sacrifice, rather than as merriment.  But my new opinion is that having a grand party for worthy cause is wonderful. Because I feel that complex problems are not merely solved by money, but by meeting of leading minds.

A Hilarious Side Story

Apparently, this fund-raiser is an yearly event and this year there had been a change of the venue.  A donor at the party told us that she assumed that it was in the same castle-like house where it had always been and went there. There was yet another fundraiser going on there for Miss Alabama Pageant, also a formal-wear, rich people's event. Of course, she didn't know that and was welcomed to the party. Soon she realized that she couldn't find any of her friends and called a friend on the cell-phone (these houses are that big, you really need cell-phones to talk to others in the same house) to mingle, and realized that she was in the wrong location when there was "no kissing frogs sculpture at the swimming pool".

So, got a black tie? You can party with the wealthy. Apparently it is very simple. Just show up!

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Sunday, May 4, 2003
Last Modified: 5/4/2003


What's New Durable Link to this BLOG
What's New

SimplyBlog Enhancements

There was a SimplyBlog customer who wanted one blog authored by many authors, but the authors shouldn't be able to over-write/edit each other. Done.

It is implemented via merged blog feature. See an example of merged blog at Kamat's Potpourri.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, May 6, 2003
Last Modified: 5/6/2003


Get TiVO/ Replay TV Durable Link to this BLOG
Upgrade to 21st Century Home

If you have been waiting to upgrade your home to a 21st century home, the deal you've waiting for, is here. 

The Reply TV 5040 is only $199 (till May 11th. So Hurry)

They are about to raise the monthly fee for the program guide from $9.95 to $12.95 per month, like TiVO (and they're going from $250 to $300 on the one-time fee). But if you buy the box and register it before May 31st, you'll be "grandfathered in" to the $9.95 rate (or the $250 one-time fee).

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, May 7, 2003
Last Modified: 5/7/2003


Kannada Blog Durable Link to this BLOG
Kannada Language Weblog ?

Recently I wrote an article for my father's memorial volume in Kannada language. I enjoyed writing in Kannada (although it is not my mother-tongue, it is the language I am most proficient with) and since then have been contemplating starting a Kannada blog, and rejuvenating our discontinued Kannada section.

I think I am going to to forego technological innovations, and adhere to our low-tech motif. So the entries won't be search-able, but you wouldn't need any fonts or software to read them either.

Why low-tech? Because I want people to read my blog. See what I get when I try to to read the high-tech Tamil blog.

See Also: Rediff: How to Create Blogs in native languages

Kannada Language Weblog

Bollywood on TCM

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) pays tribute to the largest movie industry in the world by playing tweleve Bollywood movies in June. (See Complete List)

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, May 8, 2003
Last Modified: 5/14/2003


Mother's Day Durable Link to this BLOG
Mother's Day

Amma's Column: Everyday should be Mother's Day. I agree.

Mother and Child - Pictures honoring the motherhood.

Award for Kamat's Konkani Book

Kamat's 2000 book in Konkani language "Konkanyangele Kavikala" has been chosen for Dr. T. M.A. Pai Foundation for an Appreciation Award. 

"...The foundation greatly appreciates Kamat’s rich contribution through this well researched and well written book on the unique subject of Konkani Art which is a source of valuable and useful information to the Konkani community on their art heritage. " -- the communication said.

After hearing the news, I once again browsed through the book (Cover Page). The painstaking research and the efforts behind the book are truly heartwarming. Bappa has cataloged many of the temples on the Konkan coast, determining their date of building. His commentary on the murals is very intersting. Example: how can you tell the woman pictured is the wife of the donor building the temple, or that of Draupadi?!

Konkani Language Book in Kannada Language

How do you write a book in a language that has no script?!

For the aforementioned book, Bappa has used the Kannada script for the text, and you do run into the problem the linguists call impedence mismatch. However, of the 136 pages in the book, 79 are full-page illustrations.

Once an Australian professor complimented Kamat's Potpourri website for "..breaking the linguistic barriers of India by using pictures". I guess, I can say that about the books Bappa wrote too!

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Sunday, May 11, 2003
Last Modified: 5/12/2003


Surf Log Durable Link to this BLOG
Surf Log

  • Outlook India: The Princely Painter who showed us what Hindu gods ought to look like.
  • TopSpring Tennis Blog: Know Your Rules
  • What happens after you drown the Ganapati idol? Prashant Kadkol provides a visual animation in pudchya varshi lavkar ya animation. (link?)
  • Detailed List of Bollywood movies to be shown on TCM in June 2003.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, May 12, 2003
Last Modified: 5/14/2003


Indian Movie Festival at TCM Durable Link to this BLOG
List of Indian Movies on Turner Classic Movies During June 2003

June 5, 2003
8:00 PM Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) A young man follows the woman he loves to India to stop her arranged marriage. Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri. D: Aditya Chopra. C 181m. LBX
11:30 PM Bombay (1995) Religious unrest threatens the marriage of a Hindu man and a Muslim woman. Arvind Swamy, Manisha Koirala, Nasser. D: Mani Rathnam. C 135m. LBX
2:00 AM Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) Three brothers separated at birth come together to track a kidnapper. Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan. D: Mammohan Dasai. C 162m.

June 12, 2003

:00 PM Rangeela (1995) A young actress' rise to stardom is complicated by conflicting affections for her co-star and her childhood sweetheart. Jackie Shroff, Aamir Khan, Urmila Matondkar. D: Ram Gopal Varma. C 143m.
10:30 PM Dil Chahta Hai (2001) Three friends have their lives transformed by love during one marvelous summer. Aamar Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna. D: Farhan Akhtar. C 185m. LBX
2:00 AM Sholay (1975) A vengeful police chief forces two small-time crooks to hunt down the bandit who destroyed his family. Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar. D: Ramesh Sippy. C 162m.

June 19 2003

:00 PM Pakeezah (1971) A free-spirited young woman refuses a prince's proposal for love of a man she only met once. Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari, Raaj Kumar. D: Kamal Amrohi. 146m. LBX
10:30 PM Junglee (1961) Young lovers defy the caste system to fight for happiness. Shammi Kapoor, Saira Banu, Helen. D: Subodh Mukherji. C 140m.
1:00 AM Awaara (1951) A bitter young man vows revenge on the two men who destroyed his mother's life. Raj Kapoor, Prithvari Kapoor, Nargis. D: Raj Kapoor. BW 168m.

June 26, 2003

8:00 PM Mother India (1957) A family struggles to survive the machinations of an evil moneylender. Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Raaj Kumar. D: Mehboob Khan. C 174m.
11:00 PM Do Bigha Zamin (1953) Family members risk all in a move to Calcutta to raise money and save their land. Balraj Sahni, Nirupa Roy, Ratan Kumar. D: Bimal Roy. BW 125m.
1:30 AM Pyaasa (1957) A young poet searches the world for pure love. Guru Dutt, Mala Sinha, Waheeda Rehman. D: Guru Dutt. 141m.

Source: Turner Classic Movies

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Last Modified: 5/14/2003


Interview with Vikas Durable Link to this BLOG
Meet Vikas Kamat

That's Kannada : Interview with Vikas Kamat (Kannada Language Content)

In the interview, Pradeep asks me many questions that many people ask me, and I have provided some answers.

My favorite one is:

Q: What are the inspirations or guiding spirits of Kamat's Potpourri?

A: I can't think of anyone other than my parents. Perhaps it was the will of providence. One of the pictures on our site has the caption "If the Kamats don't do it, who will ?" In some way, this has been my guiding principle.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, May 15, 2003
Last Modified: 5/15/2003


XML Feeds for Blog Portal Durable Link to this BLOG

XML Feeds of Blog Portal

Instead of retiring and going away, the Indian Blog Portal just gets better and better! There are a lot more new listings, I have fixed some bugs with the spider (no, it does not understand redirects or JavaScript yet), and now I have added the familiar orange button.

Although I have criticized public XML feeds, I honor desires of our readers and am providing the XML and RSS feeds.

I also hereby announce the first Kannada Blog "Eno Kamti, Helo Sangti"

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, May 16, 2003
Last Modified: 5/16/2003


Smelling the Flowers Durable Link to this BLOG
Smelling the Flowers

I have been taking time off to slow down and smell the flowers. Last weekend we hiked to the Peavine Falls at the Oak Mountain and this weekend, I will be on the Appalachian trail at the Great Smoky Mountains.

© Vikas Kamat
Flowers of Spring, Mountain Brook

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Last Modified: 5/20/2003


History of Butter and Cheese Durable Link to this BLOG
History of  Butter and Cheese Making

Lady Churning CurdsCreaming the Butter

When Sister Noella Marcellino, a Fullbright scholar who is pursuing a doctorate in Microbiology and has been working with naturally ripened cheeses at the University of Connecticut asked me about the above pictures, I was also fascinated by the topic and since been digging our archives for any hints and evidences. I have found a number pictures of milk products depicted in medieval and ancient monuments. Some student of history must go through the period literature to find the ancient methods and techniques, although I believe that most of those practices have been embedded in modern techniques through empirical knowledge passed on to the generations.

FYI: There are several communities (example: Goulis)  in India whose only profession is making and vending milk-products. In some cities like Dharwad, there are these Butter Bazars where milk and cheese is sold on the streets in heaps. These communities have maintained this profession for centuries, sometimes with very little change in their techniques.

See Also:
• Making Butter - Now and Then

On This Day...

Interesting Guest-book Entries

I have two amusing entries in our guest-book today -- one is thanking us for a sexual liberation experienced (I have truncated the entry due to some parts which might not have been appropriate for children). The other one, perhaps by a young student simply asks: "if elephant is a god, why did they chain it to the building?"

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Last Modified: 5/21/2003


Hometown Idol Durable Link to this BLOG
Hometown Idol

Ruben Studdard, the "American Idol" is from Birmingham, where I live.

I've never seen the show, but I do know the buzz that's going around. The clothes he wears (with 205 which is the area code for Birmingham) to the music he makes has sparked quite a few industries. I think Ruben will be good for Alabama. Goody!

Another man from the city where I was born is in news today as well. This gentleman is atleast 125 years old!

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, May 22, 2003
Last Modified: 5/22/2003


Smoky Mountains Durable Link to this BLOG
Back from Mountains

I am back from my enjoyable trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. Still recuperating, and yet to go through my InBox...

Yellow Flowers and Mountains

Green Trees

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Last Modified: 5/27/2003


Keeping Alive Durable Link to this BLOG
I'm Overwhelmed and Humbled

One of the first questions when my father passed away was "What's going to happen to Kamat's Potpourri now?" -- as he was the primary content provider. I didn't know the answer then, and I don't know the answer now. But I must share with you some of the most unexpected things that have occurred the last few weeks.

First, Amma has taken the task of filling in Bappa's shoes and has been sending me the weekly content updates, just like Bappa used to. The efforts taken by her to prepare these contents are almost painful for me to bear. She's no artist or photographer, and she doesn't have an able assistant like Bappa had her.

My auntie Dr. Sushama Arur also has been sending me content.

D.G. Mallikarjuna, an friend (and a disciple of Bappa, as he has called himself in "My guru that I never met" to be published in the Kamat Memorial Volume) sent me a catalog of birds from India that he himself documented in the remote areas of Karnataka and Orissa. The articles and pictures were specifically prepared for my use, and for possible use in Kamat's Potpourri. He also sent me a fantastic stamp collection from which I can gather so many ideas for new content development.

Today, another friend, Sudhama Shastri (we have never met, all our contacts have been through electronic medium) sent me a carefully compiled list of information, pictures, and ideas for adding to the website. The postage on the packet alone was more than most people can afford. Another friend, Nainil Chheda of, has sent an offer of web-hosting. I can't believe folks love us that much!

I am overwhelmed, humbled, and deeply touched by these gestures to keep Kamat's Potpourri website running and updated.

Yet, I simply do not have the editorial resources or time to live up to the expectations of family and friends, so I am going to do what I can, while thanking them for the support and ideas.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Last Modified: 5/28/2003


Calling SCO Bull Durable Link to this BLOG
Calling SCO Bull

I call upon the customers and users of SCO to protest SCO's recent maneuvers.

Their claim (that they own ideas of parts of Unix kernel) is without merit.

I have read the source code for Unix kernel. The critical and essential ideas of Unix kernel management created by Kernighan and Thompson have been in public domain for a long time, have been the subject of dispute and criticism among scholars and students of computer science for decades, and anybody who claims that they own those ideas are lying.

Things you can do to show SCO their place in the world:

• Sell your SCO Stock
• Buy one (just one) stock of SCO (here's why)
• Switch your operating system from SCO to Linux
• Stop testing your products against SCO's versions
• Advise your customers the evils of doing business with a dishonest vendor.

When a company lets their lawyers dictate their strategies, and doesn't listen when the customers complain, it is destined for trouble. Just ask Unisys what hit them after their GIF patent strategy...


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, May 29, 2003
Last Modified: 5/30/2003


Blog Reality Check Durable Link to this BLOG
Amma's Reality Check

Jyotsna Lost in Thought Mom, Historian, Writer, Intellectual -- features my mother this week.

Answering questions on India and weblogs, Amma says:

"India is a country of illiterates, of poor people, and of lack of infrastructure. Talking about weblogs and relating them to nation building is a meaningless exercise"


"Weblogs are the fancy of a few people and in my opinion, they have no role to play in India at this time."

The interviewer, Ashwini probably was as stunned and surprised as I was upon this declaration. I've thought a lot about it since, and I must say I agree with the opinion. It's not that India doesn't need blogs -- it does, like it needs nuclear weapons, communication satellites, and computers [see why], but their role must be seen with the overall scheme of  nation building.

On a Related Matter...

"I found it distressing that to cater for the fancy of the few, the rest of society was put to so much inconvenience and turmoil." -- that's what my father wrote in 2001 after noticing illiterate refugees laying fiber-optic cables to build the Silicon Valley of India. "These people have never made or received a telephone call in their lifetime!"

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, May 30, 2003
Last Modified: 5/31/2003


Link Recommendations Durable Link to this BLOG
Link  Recommendations

I am busy with tennis (one of the teams I play has made it to the finals; although I am not winning my singles matches, it's great to be part of the winning team), so no blogging for while... but here are some links for your perusal.

  • The latest issue of National Geographic has a feature on the untouchables of India. Includes some graphic pictures.
  • My wife's blog on French Open  Freedom Open Roland Garros created for her tennis buddies has become quite popular.
  • CNN: A terrorist is caught  -- I was on the same block the day be bombed that clinic in Birmingham....

The Lesser Humans

The National Geographic's feature is absolutely shocking and deeply disturbing. As the editor Bill Allen says, "The time has come for the denial and ignorance to end".

He goes on to narrate how graphic pictures of prejudice against Blacks in America aided the civil rights movement and brought about social change.

The defenders of the caste system will be quick to digress into the quota system (India's affirmative action), and customs like food habits. The debate is not whether or not the caste system is necessary or good; the debate is why fellow human beings are discriminated based on their birth.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Saturday, May 31, 2003
Last Modified: 6/1/2003

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