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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

Some Kamat Family Stories Durable Link to this BLOG
Some Kamat Family Stories

During the 34 hour drive from Birmingham to Mackinac Island and back, Amma (my mother) told us many family stories. Some of them I knew, and some of them were new. I will keep them brief, leaving the details to the reader's perception.

My Mother's Dog Tom

My mother had a dog Tom. He was a brave and a faithful dog, and routinely chased away foxes and other menacing beasts that appeared in the village. One night as the family slept, the cows in the neighborhood sensed a tiger and Tom asked to be unleashed. My mother cursed him for waking her up, and let him go outside.

He never came back.

Since then, my mother hasn't had a dog.

Related Links:
• When the Tiger was Hunted
• My Pet TinTin

My Father's Job Interview

Upon his return to India (from USA, where he obtained a Ph.D.), my father applied for a job in the department of sericulture. The chairman of the selection committee asked only one question to the candidate.

"Are you a Lingayat?"

Lingayat is the name a prominent caste in the state of Karnataka.

The interviewee, of course didn't get the job and later started Kamat.com.

The interviewer went on to become a close associate of Indira Gandhi, and the Chief Minister of the the state, and built an administration known for favoritism, inefficiency and corruption.

Related Links:
• Lingayats and the Vachana Literature
• What I Really Think About Indira Gandhi

Kamat-Joshi Nexus

I once blogged about the contributions of Kamat-Joshi team to India.

Happens that Bhimsen Joshi, one of the prominent Hindustani classical musician is a nephew of G.B.Joshi, who has published many of Kamat's works. He is known as 'Bhimya' to close friends and family.

Bhimsen Joshi's biography by Mohan Nadakarni is dedicated to my grandmother.

Related Links:
• Portrait of G.B. Joshi
• Link to Bhimsen Joshi's Biography
• Ramakant Joshi's tribute to Father
• My mother's tribute to G.B.Joshi


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Last Modified: 3/13/2004

September Updates Durable Link to this BLOG
September is Here!

I know, it has already been six days, but I am trying to play catch up...

The NFL season began today, so did my fantasy league. I have drafted Edgerin James and Peyton Manning. I was the last in the draft order 8-(

The US Open Tennis Championship is in full flow, and I am hoping for a Sampras-Agassi final.

I've added lots of new contents at Kamat's Potpourri. Check them out. "Not tonite dear" is the recommended Picture of the day.

I have also made minor enhancements to the website -- like showing international dates, a better rendering of Pictorial Table of Contents, and stuff like that.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, September 06, 2002
Last Modified: 9/6/2002

Monday Miscelleny Durable Link to this BLOG
Someone Press the Turbo Button!

In the 1980s Intel introduced dual clock-speed CPUs, and to make an application run faster, you'd press the high-speed clock switch, typically marked as the Turbo button.

I felt like calling CBS Sportsline guys yesterday and asking them to press the turbo button. During the Sunday sports extravaganza of yesterday (US-open finals, NFL opener), the site was hardly responding. Finally I gave up on the Live Scoring.

SportsLine is the only online subscription that I pay for, and yesterday, it was certainly not worth it. Can I get my money back?!

Least Used Features at Kamat.com

  • The AutoBlog -- Among other things, it has a festival alert. That's how I know tommorrow is Ganesh Utsav.
  • The Adhika Prasangi Tool -- Find out what other people are searching (kinda like Disturbing Searches, but not so disturbing)
  • Picture Exchange -- I have compiled a few electronic greeting cards, but really, any of the 1100 or so pictures can be composed into a e-card.
  • Remokon -- Our tool to retrieve offline content (content that is not on the web). It is currently disabled due to poor usage, but I'd like to reconfigure an old computer to serve up these requests.

Buy Kamat's Works

  • Amazon has Free-shipping on Kamat's Timeless Theater CD-ROM
  • InfoNiche in India (mail) now has an Indian edition of the CD-ROM. It can be purchased in Indian currency and ships with Kamat PhotoQuilter tool.
  • Two of Kamat's famous travelogues are now available in North America from Sahitya Bhanadar

Elephant Head Greeting Cards

• Mysore Ganesh
• Floral Ganesh
• Vegetable Ganesh
• Stained Glass Ganesh


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, September 09, 2002
Last Modified: 6/6/2006 1:35:16 AM

Coffee Notes Durable Link to this BLOG
Quotes to Chew on

"The only way you can do more things in life is to do them" -- my wife, this morning (as I complained to her that we are too busy)

"Ultimately, Only the Truth Prevails" -- I find this quote from Upanishad (apprx 1400 B.C), used as India's byline, very profound. Since the world still has a lot of falsehood and injustice, one must consider after-life for this quote to make sense. The emphasis, as I see, is both on the Ultimate as well as on Truth.

"Only Bill Clinton can distract the attention from a sex scandal by making another sex scandal!" -- Jay Leno in 1999. I remember this often because these days on television, they are interrupting one advertisement with yet another advertisement! Have you noticed?!

Who baby-sits the baby-sitter's children?

Those in USA won't find this amusing, but cultures like Indian, fragmented by class and status structures, will.

I've known a friend who babysat the children of a doctor-couple for many years. Now the friend has a child, and the doctors are baby-sitting so that the baby-sitter can take a vacation.

Links for the day

• Amma's Column: The Smell of the Elephant Dung
• Health News Network:In 1966, US Army distrubuted bacteria in New York subway -- unbelievable!
• Many new entries in the Kamat Blog Portal that lists Indian blogs.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Thursday, September 19, 2002
Last Modified: 9/19/2002

Looking Back Seven Years... Durable Link to this BLOG
Traffic Stabilization of Kamat's Potpourri

For the first time in seven years, in September 2002, the month-to-month traffic for Kamat.com is going to be less than its previous month. This might indicate that our viewership has stabilized at around 1.6 million page views per month.

Update: The viewership exceeded 2 million pages in April 2003. (May 1, 2003)

I think the traffic growth from month to month consistently for seven years is quite phenomenal. Unlike most sites, whenever there was a spike in traffic, the increased level has continued to the next month.

FYI: The money we've spent on traffic generation is zero. Most people find out about the site via a search in Google, and subsequently type our URL for repeat visits. About 65% of readers surveyed (about 500 of them, take it anonymously -- it will help us find new advertisers) said that they have book-marked the site.

Chronology of Kamat.com

  • Started as a home page on AOL in Nov. 1995. The first attraction was tour of India in photo stubs.
  • Registered the domain Kamat.com at the behest of B.G.Mahesh in Aug 1996.
  • Moved to a new location at IAOL in Nov 1997. Added a search engine. Popularity jumps to over hundred accesses/day.
  • Due to delay in publishing of the KalaRanga CD-ROM, started to publish the contents online. Accesses jump to over a thousand a day. (June 1998)
  • We add a Kannada Section (Aug. 98) in Kannada Script, by popular request.
  • The popularity of the site increases to over 2000 page views/day (October '98) and we decide to keep the site free of advertisements.
  • A review by the Arts and Letters daily, more listings at Yahoo! and a Editor's Pick Listing at Bharat-Ek-Khoj propel daily readership to above 5000. Thank you viewers and reviewers! (January 1999)
  • CHIP magazine names Kamat's Potpourri as one of India's best websites. (February 1999)
  • Moved to new hosting provider HostPro, and added PICTURESeach
  • Kamat's Potpourri's monthly viewership exceeds 150,000 (February 2000) after the popularity of our Rangoli section
  • Added banner advertising (Sept. 2000)
  • Number of pictures in Kamat House of Pictures crosses 4000 (February 2001)
  • Monthly page views cross a million (June 2001)
  • Number  of pictures in Kamat House of Pictures crosses 6000 (October 2001)
  • The capacity of the server is increased ten times (December 2001) due to increased traffic and content
  • Number of pictures in Kamat House of Pictures crosses 7000 (May 2002)
  • Rediff, Wired, BBC, ScriptingNews link to Kamat.com registering our highest traffic -- 1.65 million page views during the month (August 2002)
See Also:
• The Sixth Anniversary Blog


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, September 20, 2002
Last Modified: 5/30/2003

Agenda for the Week Durable Link to this BLOG
Plans for the Week

  • I am working on many new articles and pictures to be published in October 2002. Some peeks: Saint Madhvacharya, Prehistoric Hunters, Roberto Nobili, and over 200 newly scanned pictures.
  • At last, I have decided to watch the Hindi movie Lagaan. Let us see what the commotion is about.
  • Use of Blogs in Enterprise -- I am going to meet the people who are using our blog-software as a knowledge distribution mechanism, and listen to what changes they've had to make for use in the corporate world.
  • I have to proof-read the manuscript of the forthcoming book "Putranige Patragalu" (in Kannada language). It is a collection of letters written by my father to me, and painstakingly edited by my mother. It is a wonderful example of letter writing as a form of literature.

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, September 23, 2002
Last Modified: 9/22/2002

Links to Today's News Durable Link to this BLOG
Lots of News Today


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Last Modified: 9/24/2002

Obituary Durable Link to this BLOG
Obituary

My grandmother, Ramabai Kamat passed today in my native place of Honavar. She would have been 90 next week.

First Picture of Ramabai Kamat
(1913-2002)

The ups and downs experienced by Ramabai Kamat in her long life make for very interesting reading and provide details of status of women at the turn of 19th century in rural India. She was born into a poor family, and was named beggar ("Bhikki") after a vow taken by her father, who had lost infant children successively. She was educated only till 2nd grade, and was married at the age of  eleven into the joint family of Kamats. She raised eleven children, and many many grand children. She has been the senior most member of the family since the 1960s, and enjoyed respect, love, and adulation by all.

We called her Kaki (literally meaning Aunt -- one of the banes of the joint family was that the children referred to adults by their established titles. By the time Kaki bore children, her title was established in the Kamat household as 'Auntie'), and Kaki was an expert housewife, a famous cook, a tender citizen, and a village pharmacist. In my childhood (in the70s) when the healthcare was not yet easily available in India, people from far way neighborhoods would come to our house seeking Kaki's medicines. All those medicines were home-made, a skill passed on to Kaki from her mother. Kaki would grow many of the herbs in our garden, and keeping the cows away from them was one of our responsibilities as children.

Kaki's many recipe's will live, she having passed them on to her daughters. Her huge vocabulary of Konkani language words, sayings, and songs  (India has a very strong tradition of oral education; Konkani is a spoken language anyway;) have been documented by my mother and will be published soon (the book has been dedicated to Kaki). While it is not obvious, Kaki is the model of many of our photographs on this site -- using a stationary knife, using a coin-sized mirror to apply kumkum, churning the butter, and as the center of a joint family.

Goodbye Kaki. Thank you for serving the family for seventy-five years. Like Bappa once said, "we are happy, safe, and prosperous today, thanks to the divine credits (punya) earned by you!"

Related Links

• Obituary of Ganesh Burde, my grandfather who passed away earlier this year.
• Obituary of my father, who also passed away this year.
• Konkani Woman at Work

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Last Modified: 9/27/2002
Tags: obituary

Review of Movie Lagaan Durable Link to this BLOG
Notes from the Lagaan (Hindi) Movie

When I bitched about Indian movies (see Why I hate Bollywood) in this space, I received a lot of angry pushback from movie fans. "Just watch Lagaan, and then talk" they wrote, as if one movie can undo the damage caused by thousands of bad movies. And as promised, I did watch Lagaan this week with my wife (who doesn't understand Hindi) and my mother (who doesn't understand the game of Cricket). My notes, in the form of questions and answers, as they happened.

Q: Does Lagaan mean "Once upon a time in India" ?
A: No, and I don't understand why the byline appears only in English.

Q: Do people really dance for the rains in India?
A: In some states of India they sing and celebrate the arrival of the monsoons. But they never dance in temples as shown in the movie.

Q: The movie shows such unreal things as the hero fighting injustices of  untouchability, trying to protect wildlife by disturbing the hunting etc. Why then does it try to be real by showing the hero's widowed mother clothed only in white?
A: It is only a movie darling. Don't read too much into it.

Q: What does this Wicket  mean?
A:  Wicket has multiple meanings in Cricket. The Wicket sometimes means "the pitch" (as in "The wicket is slow"), it indicates the number people who have gotten out ( as in "India lost three wickets"), or has gotten out ( as in Kapil Dev has 434 wickets). In addition, the wooden stumps on either sides of the pitch are also called wickets (hence the name Wicket-keeper).

Q: Why is this movie so long ? (the movie is four hours long)
A: Perhaps because poor people in India want a long-entertainment for their buck  Perhaps the makers of the movie thought they were producing an epic.

Q: Were all the Indian kings as weak as the movie portrays?
A: More or less, at the time the movie is set in (1893), the Indian kings had become weak due to infighting, and lack of leadership. At the time of India becoming free, there were 700 such good-for-nothing princes.

Q: Did you like the movie?
A: No.

Honestly, I didn't like the movie. But I enjoyed explaining  the game of Cricket to the ladies.

Laggan perhaps captures the imagination of the Indian movie goers very well, but didn't do it for me.Sorry.


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Friday, September 27, 2002
Last Modified: 1/23/2003
Tags: bollywood, review

Marking Kamat's Birthday with a Photo Blog Durable Link to this BLOG
Announcing New Photo Blog at Kamat.com

My father, had he lived, would have turned 68 today. We mark the occasion by creating a new blog at Kamat's Potpourri. See Introduction.

My Father's Pen Friend

We were especially touched to receive a card from  Mrs. Jeanne Roth of Sweet Home Oregon today.  She's been my father's (and the entire family's) pen friend for the last forty years! The warmth and the friendship of the Roths is beyond the words. They have taught us the meaning of durable pen-friendship, and the art of keeping in touch for decades and decades, and across continents.

Message from a Pen Friend

To remember the birthday of a pen-friend, even after he's gone is truly amazing. Oh! the joys of friendship!


(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Sunday, September 29, 2002
Last Modified: 9/29/2002

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