Dr. J. Jayalalithaa: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Her

  1. Dr. J. Jayalalithaa (hereafter referred to as Jaya for the sake of simplicity) was born in Mandya district, Karnataka (Mysore State) – Not in Tamil Nadu. But she was born to a Tamil Iyengar family.
  2. Her name was a combination of two houses she resided in Mysore Jaya Vilas, Lalitha Vilas. The double ‘aa’ at the end of her name was added only in 2001 for numerology reasons.
  3. Jaya’s father died when she was 2. Her mother Sandhya became an actress after shifting to Madras where her younger sister lived. But her mother’s real name was Vedavalli.
  4. Jaya initially studied in Bishop Cotton Girls School in Bangalore and then in Church Park – Chennai. She was awarded the Gold State Award for coming first in 10th Std. exams in the entire state of Tamil Nadu. It is an understatement to say that she excelled in academics.
  5. Jaya had a brother, Jayakumar, who lived in Chennai until 1995 when he died in an accident.
  6. She initially acted as MGR’s daughter before acting as heroine in his movies later on.
  7. Jaya’s mother acted in the Tamil superhit movie Karnan and it was in a party related to that movie that Panthulu spotted Jayalalitha and offered to cast her as the heroine of his next Kannada film – Chinnada Gombe. That was her first film as a lead actress and she was just 15 then!
  8. Jaya was fluent in several languages including English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, etc. Due to this, MGR selected her to be a Rajya Sabha member from his party.
  9. Jaya acted in one Hindi movie Izzat opposite Dharmendra.
  10. Jaya’s last movie as a heroine was in Telugu, not Tamil. But in 1992, while in power as a Chief Minister, she acted (as herself) in a movie on prohibition – Neenga Nalla Irukkanum. The movie was directed by Visu and was the first movie to be produced by TN Govt.

Destination Infinity

Reference: Wikipedia article on Jayalalithaa.

PV Sindhu wins Silver Medal for India at Rio Olympics – Yoohooo!!

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Yoohooo!! At last, India wins a Silver Medal at The Rio Olympics 2016 in Women’s Badminton through PV Sindhu. Did you know that she’s the first Indian woman to win a Silver medal at the Olympics? We’ve had four bronze medals from Indian women before, but no Silver or Gold.

Until today.

There were a lot of expectations from Saina Nehwal, World No. 5 & the London Olympics Bronze medal winner, but PV Sindhu blitzed into the finals in spite of being World No. 10 & relatively inexperienced. This is her first Olympic appearance and what a fantastic way to end the tournament!

PV Sindhu is no underdog – she was already the first Indian woman to win a medal at the World Championships. Now the first Olympic Silver medal is another feather in her cap. I am sure many more laurels are to follow.

I saw today’s final match – the Spaniard (Carolina Marin) was more attacking and her smashes/drops were better. Somehow she correctly spots the corks that land just out of the court! But Sindhu was cool headed and played longer rallies better. Sindhu was more attacking in her other games and even won the first game in the final, but she was clearly playing a better player – the World No.1 at that! No worries, there is always the next time.

Although this year’s Olympic campaign for India has been a near-disaster, there have been a few brilliant moments – Abhinav Bindra, Sania-Bopanna & Dipa Karmakar came fourth – just one place short of bronze.

The hockey team, although they lost the quarter finals, defeated Argentina — the eventual gold medal winners — during their group match. No small achievement, that. More was expected out of boxers, wrestlers and archers, but tough luck.

Anyway, I am sure the first woman’s silver in the Olympics will inspire more Indians to take up sports professionally and not remain the mug-up-score-marks-get-IT/govt-job-settle-down types. It’s you and me who need to wake up and make a difference – not just the Saina Nehwals and PV Sindhus.

Destination Infinity

Photo/GIF Credit: By Johnlord27 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Veerapandiya Kattabomman

Veerapandiya Kattabomman was one of the first small-time Indian/Tamil Vassal King to rise and revolt against the British. He fought the British during the times of Hyder Ali/Tipu Sultan (end of 18th century), but there was one difference: The Sultans matched the British prowess (and almost won), but Veerapandiya Kattabomman was just a Vassal King controlling a few districts near Tirunelveli, under the Arcot of Nawab.

Kattabomman’s father actually paid taxes to the Arcot of Nawab, the then ruler of South East India. He also helped the Nawab collect taxes from neighboring Kingdoms. After his father’s death, Kattabomman continued the tax paying/collection for a couple of years.

The problem started when Arcot of Nawab handed over the tax collection duties — hence effectively the control of his Kingdom — to the British, as he was unable to repay loans taken from them. Veerapandiya Kattabomman was firm, and remained firm until his last breath, that he will not pay taxes to foreigners.

The British were furious at this and tried to arrest him via trickery through two collectors. In the first case, the collector summoned him (alone) to his palace and tried to arrest him forcefully, but Kattaboman literally fought his way outside and his escape was aided by his commanders and troops hiding in the vicinity.

When the second attempt to extort taxes also failed, the Madras Presidency sent a general with troops to attack Kattabomman’s Fort at Panchalang-Kuruchi, near Tirunelveli.

The attack failed and Kattabomman emerged victorious. The general escaped from the battlefield, but Kattabomman knew the Englishman would attack the fort again with the help of a much larger contingent from the neighboring Palayang-Kottai. He also knew he had no chance of defending his fort this time.

Left with no other option, and still refusing to pay taxes, Kattabomman left the fort and tried to secure the help of his so-called friends. It was three of those very friends who deserted him and enabled the British to arrest him without even a battle.

Kattabomman was hanged in a tree in the presence of all other Vassal Kings. After observing what a single Vassal King was capable of, the British were so afraid of another uprising that they revoked the right of all Vassal Kings to raise and maintain an army.

Kattabomman’s story is inspirational because although he knew he was going to lose the war, he upheld his principles and fought valiantly for what he believed was just. No wonder Kattabomman’s name is synonymous with bravery even now, unlike the Kings who deserted him whose names have become synonymous with treachery!

He was indeed a Freedom Fighter. One of the first. And the bravest.

Destination Infinity

Reference: ‘Nattukku Uzhaitha Nallavar: Veerapandiya Kattabomman’ published by Palaniappa Brothers in Tamil. 

Creating an Impact for the Visually Challenged in India: IAB

Journey of IAB – A 10 minute Movie:

Indian Association for the Blind (IAB) is an organization based out of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India that works to educate, train and rehabilitate visually impaired persons. I met their representatives at the recently concluded Chennai Pongal Book Fair 2016 and was impressed with the books and articles they had in display to help blind people read. They gave me a CD containing the above embedded video – I think all of us should see it. Continue reading “Creating an Impact for the Visually Challenged in India: IAB”


For my #madeofgreat story I choose a couple who are my distant relatives. I don’t want to name them because I didn’t take their permission to write this post. I have not seen them often and don’t know much about them – last time I saw them was in a marriage four years ago. But I keep hearing about them from common relatives.  Continue reading “#madeofgreat”

Steve Jobs in India

Did you know that Steve Jobs, who introduced many innovative products at Apple Inc. briefly worked in Atari – the video game maker – and then traveled to India in 1974, as a 19-year old teenager, after dropping out from college? He stayed for seven months in India wandering aimlessly (as his biographer puts it) across Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh (mostly). But why did a broke Steve Jobs travel to India and what did he (hope to) learn? Continue reading “Steve Jobs in India”

M. Visvesvaraya – The First Eminent Engineer of India

Nowadays, Engineering mostly means time-pass in college, and every second person is an Engineer! But there was a time when Science and Technology was not omnipresent (especially in India) and the few people who studied Engineering were passionate about the advancement of society. One such Eminent Engineer from India was M. Visvesvaraya. Continue reading “M. Visvesvaraya – The First Eminent Engineer of India”

V.O.Chidambaram Pillai – Kappalottiya Thamizhan!

‘Kappalottiya Thamizhan’ means ‘The Tamilian  who Sailed a Ship’. What makes V. O. Chidambaram Pillai’s sailing, a feat, is – he was the first Indian to form a shipping company (and provide commercial shipping services for Indians), breaking the monopoly of the British India Steam Navigation Company in the seas (during early 1900s).

Born in 1872, in Ottapidaram, South Tamil Nadu, V. O. C was a lawyer by education. Being a nationalist at heart, he wanted to do something beyond law, and decided to form a shipping company (Swadeshi Company) to carry people and goods between Tuticorin and Colombo. His main aim was to break the British monopoly in this trade. He tried leasing ships, but the British company blocked it. So he decided to buy ships.  Continue reading “V.O.Chidambaram Pillai – Kappalottiya Thamizhan!”

Amar Singh Rathore & Ballu Champavat: LEGENDS

Legends are people who do extraordinary things, irrespective of the strength of the powers they are fighting against, irrespective of the threat to their lives.

Leaving aside right & wrong, let us read the story of two legends – Amar Singh Rathore & Ballu Champavat – who attempted (and succeeded) in doing the next-to-impossible, but had to pay with their lives.

This is a true story.

Year: 1644 CE. Place: Agra Fort, Headquarters of Mughal Emperor – Shahjahan.

Continue reading “Amar Singh Rathore & Ballu Champavat: LEGENDS”

Can Anyone Travel 100,000 KM across 5 Continents on a Bike?

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Meet Jay Kannaiyan. Of JamminGlobal.com.

Like many, he too left Chennai to pursue the American Dream. But after sometime, he decided to return home. In style.

Instead of taking a flight and coming home in a couple of days, he decided to ride a two-wheeler (Suzuki DR650) across many countries on five continents and finally reached India after 3 years.

Now that’s what I call a journey! 🙂 Continue reading “Can Anyone Travel 100,000 KM across 5 Continents on a Bike?”