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(This has been crossposted from Kaleidoscope)

All this brouhaha about Commonwealth Games makes no sense. It only betrays our lack of understanding about our own country. CWG preparations have been going on exactly the way any other event is organised. The collective astonishment and shock across the country is amazing, to say the least. O! those pictures of filth in the Commonwealth village? But isn’t that how an under-construction building anywhere else in our country looks? Don’t we all know about that ”final acid wash” which magically brings glitter to the floor tiles and smiles on everyone’s faces?

Since when are we so blind not to see garbage on roadsides and street corners? Litter-free streets of foreign cities always leave us baffled. We wonder as to whether people actually live in those cities. Even when terrorists found that garbage heaps are the easiest, the best and the most unsuspecting of places to keep an explosive, we still are comfortable with rotting, smelly piles of filth on roadsides. The comfort levels of Indians are indeed different from those in the rest of the world. Let us accept that.

We all believe that ceaseless honking is what makes vehicles move on our busy roads. We have an abiding faith in the power of the horn, especially when the traffic light is red. We are so proactive and enterprising with our vehicles, especially at junctions, that patience is an anathema. Even with so much chaos and noise on roads, even with so much litter, even without power and water, our tourism industry is booming. Foreigners keep coming back year after year. India Incredible!

Let us remember that all Commonwealth countries haven’t protested the way all Indians have. Every culture is unique. There’s nothing wrong with the way we do things; what’s wrong is the way others see it. Didn’t John Kenneth Galbraith, former US ambassador to India, once describe our nation as a “functioning anarchy”? So, it’s all about perception. People say we should learn lessons from the CWG fiasco. But when its few critics are now its most vocal admirers, and when CWG is all set to be a huge success, where are the lessons to be learnt!

The hustle and bustle, the clutter and chaos: that’s our USP, that’s the India the world is talking about. Our greatness is: we still deliver success, like pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. Let’s not bow to criticism and change our ways. Then we will cease to be Indians.

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(Crossposted from Kaleidoscope)

They may not be forever emailing, facebooking or tweeting; but they are grateful to the internet. A whole generation that grew up on radio is rediscovering their lost pastime, of listening to faraway radio stations. Thanks to live online streaming, shortwave radio freaks are smiling again. They are bookmarking stations on web browsers and listening in while working on their laptops.

The hobby is called DXing: D for distance and X for the distant radio station. The fun was in tuning into foreign stations, like Radio Cylone, Radio Netherlands, Voice of America, Radio Mosow, apart from of course, the BBC. There was a craze to collect QSL cards. (QSL is an abbreviation for reception reports in radio-telecommunication.)

After listening to a programme, shortwave enthusiasts wrote to the radio station about the programmes mentioning the frequency and quality of reception. As a token of appreciation, the station sent listeners a QSL card. There was competition among listeners for the number and variety of cards they collected. QSL cards are now vanishing. For example, BBC World Service does not send QSL cards. The emails about programmes and reception quality are passed on to the engineers, says the BBC.

The last two decades had put the radio on the death bed. Electromagnetic waves from the overhead mesh of TV cables and the neighbourhood mobile phone towers drowned out shortwave radio signals, and many radio station cut down on their shortwave transmissions. It was depressing, when nothing could be heard on the radio. With internet boom, many radio stations went online, bringing the unmistakably pleasant feeling of deja vu for radio buffs.

LIVE STREAMING

BBC has one of the richest collections of online audio-broadcasts; live streaming of Radio 1 began in 1996. In 2007, BBC iPlayer an online service for listening to previously aired shows was launched. Today, there are as many as 17 BBC stations online — Radio 1, 1extra, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5 live sports extra, 6, 7, Asian Network, World Service, and six regional radio stations like Radio Wales and Radio Ulster. And each of these has a wide variety of programmes. Besides, podcasts, BBC has a rich archive of news reports of landmark events and recordings of famous speeches.

Closer home, there are many Indian radio stations online. All India Radio’s News on Air provides its English, Hindi and regional language news bulletins in an mp3 format for listening in any time. VoiceVibes provides live streaming of VividhBharati programmes. Besides, it provides Hyderabad-based stations like Aakashavani Telugu, AIR Urdu, RadioCity, Red FM, RadioMirchi and Rainbow.

Raj, who administers the site says, “Radio on VoiceVibes is for those who are missing Hyderabad like me. Enjoy and feel at home.” By providing FM stations online, VoiceVibes has broken a technical geographical limitation: being a terrestrial transmission, FM stations can’t usually be accessed on a radio beyond around 50 km from where the station is located. With no such problems, online streaming is a boon for people away from home.

Space For Radio is another unique online venture. With a host of RJs, it provides a variety of Malayalam programmes 24×7: devotional songs, old and new film songs, celebrity interviews etc. Unlike other online radio station, the moment you open the Space For Radio site, streaming starts, there’s no need to click on any link or button, making it convenient for the listener. “This is the first online radio in the world run by women crew; and we have more than 5 lakh listeners all over the world, within one year,” says its administrator. Recently, they enabled access to the online station on mobiles.

How comparable is online radio with its good-old offline version? The quality is infinitely better. But Googling a radio station and clicking on a few links is no fun compared to sitting up late in the evening, turning the radio nob, finding a foreign station and even slanting the radio a bit for better reception! Of course, shortwave radio freaks are glad they are able to listen to some of their favourite programmes and their presenters.

LInks:

Foreign radio stations:
BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/
Voice of America – http://www.voanews.com/
Fox Radio News – http://radio.foxnews.com/
National Public Radio – http://www.npr.org/
Radio Netherlands – http://www.rnw.nl/english
Radio Australia – http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
Radio Canada International – http://www.rcinet.ca/
Deutsche Welle (Radio Germany) – http://www.dw-world.de/
Radio France International – English – http://www.english.rfi.fr/

Indian radio stations

All India Radio News – http://newsonair.com/
Vivdh Bharati – http://www.voicevibes.net/
Malayalam – http://spaceforradio.com/

Online radio directories

http://radiotime.com/
http://www.live365.com
http://www.onlinefmradio.in/

Hope tomorrow will be a peaceful day, when people will spend their time — if not in calm spiritual reflection at least — in the comforts of their home or where ever, watching movies, having good food, or in some sort of harmless fun.

Hope no one will try to mess up other people’s lives and also make this world uninhabitable, more than what it already is.

On one side it’s the anniversary of 9/11. And to make matters worse, as if it already is not, some one is planning to publicly insult people’s personal beliefs and faith, in a manner that makes me shudder, thinking of the consequences. How one person can actually mess things up so badly is shocking.

In India, coincidentally, Muslims and Hindus will have their religious festivals of Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi on the same day, tomorrow. Not in the recent past such a thing has happened.

It will be an opportunity to show the world that in India different faiths can live peacefully and in harmony. I hope people keep their religious faiths to themselves, to their private space; and there’s no undue public flaunting of individuals’ personal beliefs and faiths.

Hopefully tomorrow there’s no attempt by anyone to test other people’s tolerance levels. Hope the festive season heralds peace, happiness and prosperity.

The US may be leading in the use of mobile phones. But it is second only to South Africa when it comes to the number of women using the mobile to access internet. South Africa leads the world in the category with 43.4%. It is followed by the US with 35.6%, Russia with 32.4% and the UK with 31.5%.

The number of women world over using mobile web has gone up steeply — a whopping 575% in two years, says the latest Opera’s State of the Mobile Web Report released this week.

India has the least number of women mobile web users, 4%, behind Nigeria (5.4%), China (11.6%) and Vietnam (17.9%). Ukraine and Vietnam have the most users under 18 (34.8% and 23.7%, respectively), while the US and and the UK have a lot of users who are 38 and older (26% and 21%, respectively).

To the question, "Do you have online friends you’ve never met in real life?", the most number of "yes" came from Nigeria (87.3%), Indonesia (83.7%), and Ukraine (83.1%). And the least number of "yes" came from United Kingdom (64.6%), United States (65.6%).
Google and Facebook compete for the top spot in several Southeast Asian countries. Opera Mini users in Southeast Asia tend to prefer Nokia handsets, while the Apple iPhone is the most popular handset used by Opera Mini users in both Singapore and Myanmar.

Commenting on the survey, co-founder, Opera Software, Jon von Tetzchner, said, "Mobile web is all about breaking down barriers to access. Seeing more women on the mobile web is important to ensuring the mobile web remains the rich tapestry of ideas it is. Further diversity can only improve things for everyone."

Bangalore-based former students of Sainik School, Kazhakootam, Kerala, will have a get-together at the Officers’ Mess of 147 AD Regiment (Jet Busters) located near Ayyappa Temple, Banaswadi, Bangalore, from 11 am tomorrow, that is Sunday, July 11. Contact Babu C K on 9342816828.

I am at a speciality hospital in Bangalore. It’s around 11.30 am. A man in late 50s is being wheeled in on a chair. Two women accompanying him are worried and talk alternatively on the mobile and to hospital staff. A couple of relatives or friends too have joined them.

Read the full story here.

Yesterday’s world cup matches were simply among the best so far. The Germany-Argentina one was billed the final before the final. If it was disappointing it was only because it didn’t turn out to be as nail-biting a cliffhanger as many thought it would be.

The popular wisdom was Argentina will win. But I have been swimming against the current and as of now I am floating!

The German goal in the opening minutes was a shocker to many, but set my heart aglow. And quite surprisingly for even German supporters there was a goal rush after that. Not that Argentinians didn’t play well, but simply it was not their day. Poor Maradona. And, I didn’t like the hype around Argentina.

I thought Germany played to a plan. Their tackling and passes stood out and they seemed to be more in control of the wayward Jabulani. Perhaps the only moments of concern for the Germans were in the early part of the second half. May be goal difference might have been narrower, but Germany was the clear winner over Argentina.

Spain just managed to end match decisively against Paraguay, who must have been left cursing that brief moment when the ball found the post. And what a goal that was! That match was more evenly poised than the previous one.

More fun to follow.