Month: December 2010

Karthika Maholsavam at Urakam Ammathiruvadi Temple – 21 November 2010

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Photos provided by urakathammathiruvadiksethra upadeshakasamathi

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TATA Aria – The first Indian crossover – Impressive

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TATA Aria – The first Indian crossover – Impressive

Tata Aria – A new breed. The first Indian crossover. The finesse of a sedan with the muscle of an SUV

Impressive indeed. I got an opportunity to test drive TATA ARIA. Expansive exterior and interiors, great seating comfort, excellent turning radius. It comes with all modern features including reverse camera, Dual HVAC with climate control, Infotainment system, GPS Navigation system, Rain Sensing Auto Wipers and Darkness Sensing Auto Head Lights, Driver’s Seating Electrically adjustable and foldable outer mirrors, Cruise Control, Luggage Compartment light, Sunvisor Extenders, Glove box chiller, Puddle Lamps (Foot step lamps), Follow me home approach lights, Bonnet auto lift, Rear wiper autowipe while reversing, 12 V power outlets, Flexible seating, Roof Centre bone utility bins, Plenty of Storage and stowage options

A great car to drive. The gear shifts in the initial gears (3-2 and then lower) was not very smooth, however, the overall drive was excellent, especially in the top gears. The electronic folding side mirrors could have been little more bigger and wider. These were the only two shortfalls I noticed during my test drive of this new beauty from TATA. The Pearl White color was royal.

TATA ARIA is going to give a tough fight to it’s foreign competitors. Price at Bangalore approximately Rs. 16 lakhs.

For the benefit of those who are visiting Sabarimala this season- if possible, please avoid Swami Ayyapan Road if it is raining

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For the benefit of those who are visiting Sabarimala this season- if possible, please avoid Swami Ayyapan road if it is raining

During a short visit to Kerala, utilising the UAE National Holidays, I had the privilege to visit Sabarimala Temple for a quick darshan. I used to visit the temple every year till 1995 and it was after a long gap, I was able to make a trip to this very important temple and have darshan of Swami Ayyappa. Although, I used to take the 41 days religious rituals during this season, somehow or other visiting the temple eluded from me till this year, which I used to diligent perform from a very small age till the visit in ’95. It was all sudden and as it turned out, and as those who came along with me and all others who were present there conveyed, it was a call on duty with a divine purpose.
Kindly view and listen to the Community Report in full at Mathrubhumi online, please click here

During a short visit to Kerala, utilising the UAE National Holidays, I had the privilege to visit Sabarimala Temple for a quick darshan. I used to visit the temple every year till 1995 and it was after a long gap, I was able to make a trip to this very important temple and have darshan of Swami Ayyappa. Although, I used to take the 41 days religious rituals during this season, somehow or other visiting the temple eluded from me till this year. It was all sudden and as it turned out, and as those who came along with me and all others who were there mentioned that this unplanned visit, especially the descend from sannidhanam to pampa was planned by Swami Ayyappa. The road was extremely dangerous, and since I was not in touch with anyone with regards to the conditions prevailing, and also the fact that there was a kanni ayyappa (who was visiting sabarimala for the first time), I opted to take Swami Ayyappan road, to show the way. As we moved down, it was like, one of the dangerous steps I took in my life. The person who was along with me was aged and found the slippery road too difficult. To add to our woes, there were continuous stream of heavily loaded tractors driving upwards to sannidhanam along with donkeys loaded with goods, and dolly (manual carts in which elderly or physically challenged are carried on shoulders to sannidhanam). The rush upwards was heavy on that day and then the police personnel diverted all those who were coming down to use this road making it really busy.
Everyone who used this road, used the same path and as we moved on, it became more and more difficult and the steep descend for us were equally or more steep for the fully loaded tractors. Any moment a devotee or a donkey cross in front of these tractors, these drivers were left with no option to control the vehicle and hold it without coming down. The wheels rotating and the muddy road with intermittent rain, made it skid and move towards the pilgrims, and all those behind it.
After seeing two such occasions, I couldn’t resist myself from highlighting this issue, as I found no police personnel, no ayyappa seva sangam volunteers or any other helping hands to rescue or direct those affected from this dangerous situations.

The following self explanatory pictures are added with brief narrations for the benefit of better understanding the situation I witnessed.

Rush of pilgrims on that day at Sabarimala

Swami Ayyappan Road – pilgrims descending down to Pampa rush towards any available space as they listen to the sound of horns of the arriving tractor. The space is just enough for a tractor, with loads on both side to pass, with difficulty.
You may see those workers carrying heavy load on their head also resorting to climb upstairs, either wait or continue walk till the tractor pass by.

Here comes a heavily loaded tractor

And here descends a tractor. If you notice, the driver is standing, may be literally on the breaks to control the vehicle to a stop, on the slippery conditions.
This poor driver had to apply break at the corner, eventhough he had continuously alerted those coming down with whistle and horn, someone ran in front and had to apply the break. For nearly 15 minutes, for all those watching from the side and upstairs, it was life and death situation for the driver and for all those behind, as he had absolutely no control on the vehicle as it continued to come down.

Left with few contact numbers that came to my mind, I called up Amrita TV team in UAE, who in turn informed the reporters stationed at Sabarimala and captured the scene. Calls to Mathrubhumi helped me to get the direct number of Kerala Chief Minister Sri V S Achuthanandan and his Personal Assistant , after listening to me from the location, requested me to appraise the situation to the Devaswom Minister. A call to his office and talk with his Personal Assistant, I was assured, necessary measures will be taken with immediate effect.

Upon return, I thought of highlighting it further and a timely video news coverage on Amrita TV channel and a Community Journalism Video report in Mathrubhumi online and a few emails to concerned authorities have made sure that the road conditions prevailing at Swami Ayyappan road will be improved for the benefit of devotees visiting Sabarimala this season and in future.
I thank all concerned especially Amrita TV team at Abu Dhabi and Sannidhanam and Mathrubhumi Online team for timely assistance and willingness shown to highlight this problem with importance.
As satisfying it may be for a person who value the safety of those around and also from a Non-Resident Indian working in the gulf who rarely get to see heavy rain, it started raining heavily as we drove away from Pampa. I enjoyed the rain, heavy rain, and all along was thinking of the thousands of devotees who were either climbing up or down, or stationed at Sannidhanam and Pampa.

With this community report, I kindly request those who read to circulate it amongst those who benefit from it on the dangers of using this road, when it is raining, and till the time the authorities define appropriate safety measures, for the tractor drivers, the dolly operators, the donkey operators and the poor animals and of course thousands of pilgrims visiting Sabarimala this season.


I also:


– request the authorities to kindly install necessary sign boards informing devotees not to rush and run down on the slopes as it is dangerous for them as well as those elderly or children who may be on their way.


– request the authorities to kindly place necessary police and ayyappa seva sangam volunteers on Swami Ayyappan Road to control the smooth passage of devotees and load carrying vehicles or animals till the time appropriate measures are in place for improved safety.


– request the authorities to kindly install ropes or other type of support system for devotees to hold and grip while they descend, especially on the numerous shortcuts which are extremely dangerous, and deceptive.


– although a repeat, I humbly request all young and regular devotees to patiently descend without rushing, as it is extremely dangerous for all those who use the same road for journey up and down.

More to be done and my personal efforts in this will be continued in this direction in the near future.

Ramesh Menon,
Abu Dhabi
12.12.2010

Latest update as on 15.12.2010

The above is the print screen shot of a news reported in Manorama Newspaper online and print dated 15.12.2010.  Kerala Government have now approved a 5.5 crore budget to increase the width of the road from present 3.5m to 5 mts and build a wall on the dangerous edges enroute this road. There are plans to have additional or sufficient path for walking. It will be a concrete road. Since any expenditure above 10 lakhs needs special permission from an ombudsman and his approval is required, the proposal will be submitted to him shortly by the concerned authorities. I sincerely hope this will be approved and the road work will get done before the next Sabarimala Season.

Community Report – GULF NEWS – Dt. 06.12.2010 – A solution to the poster menace around Abu Dhabi

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Community Report – GULF NEWS – Dt. 06.12.2010 – A solution to the poster menace around Abu Dhabi

  • Gulf News reader Ramesh Menon proposed the installation of notice boards around the city, in order to discourage residents from pasting ads on building walls, bus stops and other areas.
  • Image Credit: Ramesh Menon/Gulf News reader
    • A solution to the poster menace around Abu Dhabi

     Municipality could install notice boards at prominent places and charge fee

    In recent times, the authorities have come up with various initiatives to keep Abu Dhabi’s streets neat and clean. These include action against putting up posters and littering.

    Sticking posters on walls and public bus stops has been an issue that spoils the image of cities all around the UAE. Motivated by the authorities’ new initiatives, I went around Abu Dhabi and decided to highlight a few cases.

    I found that putting up bills and posters is not a one-off issue. They are pasted in all possible places at junctions and areas frequented by the public. A closer look brought out the content of most of the posters on display. They are either rooms for rent, tuitions or baby sitting jobs that are available.

    This shows the need for a common, convenient and economic platform for the public who wish to advertise locally.

    The same platform could also be used as an advertisement board to exhibit what is happening locally, within a short time frame.

    Through this community report, I therefore call on the municipality and development departments to install simple notice boards at prominent corners in each neighbourhood.

    People who wish to advertise could then do so after paying a fixed amount to the municipality or relevant authority. Inspectors could then monitor and also penalise those who post indiscriminately in non-designated places and spoil the beauty of our city.

    A section of these notice boards could be used to post advertisements of programmes happening within the city, organised by the authorities as well as private parties. This option would bring in added revenue.

    I sincerely hope this proposed system would help reduce the problem.

    The reader is a technical officer based in Abu Dhabi

    Be a citizen reporter. Tell us what is happening in your community. Write to us and send us your videos and pictures at readers@gulfnews.com

    To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online

    Short Take – GULF TODAY – Dt. 04.12.2010 – On ‘write’ path

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    Short Take – GULF TODAY – Dt. 04.12.2010 – On ‘write’ path

    On ‘write’ path

    I was with a friend the other day. As we walked discussing several topics, we passed a post box. Suddenly, our topic changed to the tradition and forgotten art of letter writing.

    It is Christmas and New Year time and we remembered and talked to each other about the olden days when we used to anxiously wait for the greetings from relatives and friends. Those days have gone and the tradition is already extinct.

    What made me interested was the fact he told me about his parents. For the past 20 years, he regularly writes to them every week. Once in a month, he takes a demand draft for their monthly expenses and posts it along with a small note discussing the small things happening with him and at the same time curiously asking what’s happening in their world.

    This happens without fail, even though he calls them frequently. He was telling me how happy his parents were when they received his letter and when he gets their thank-you note acknowledging and detailing the smaller things, which gets past their usual phone calls.

    I wish I could emulate him. I am sure many others who read this will also envy him.

    Ramesh Menon