Washington DC: Capital Hill

I visited Washington DC for the first time this week.

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In The Line of Fire

Finally I got hold of the book that I wanted to read since it got published but somehow missed it. It is the In the Line of Fire by Pervez Musharraf. Though I have seen movies made in Pakistan, Theatre shows made in Pakistan and off course music from Pakistan, somehow this is the first time I am reading a book from Pakistan.  It is not really surprising because everything I have seen from Pakistan in India must already be pruned and approved for public consumption, so it never addresses the interesting topics.

India-Pakistan topic will come up in this book but I look forward to seeing the world through Mr Musharraf’s eyes who has, according to New York Times, toughest job in the world.

Snow Pictures

I missed the snow in November since I was not here most of November and December. But Snow did not want to miss me so we finally met. Here are some pictures I took today of snow from yesterday and today.

 

 

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Back in Redmond

Back in redmond after 2 months of vacation. Will post some india pictures later.

Bombay

This time when I was India, I took my nephew to show the parts of Bombay that he has either never been to or rarely seen. We spent almost whole day together going to Gateway of India, Price of Wales Museum etc. These are some of the pictures that we took. Dada gave us a ride going back so some of the pictures are taken from car.

This is Gateway of India. Build for welcoming King George V when he visited India. I have spent many late night hours  here with my friends sitting on the steps that take you to water.

Hotel Tajmahal. Probably one of the first real 5 star hotel in India. When I was growing up, I used to hear stories of how even cup of tea is very expensive here. Still have not had that cup of tea yet here 🙂

Dome of Prince of Wales museum. This building itself is as beautiful as some of the artifacts in this building.

I don’t know the name of this church but the flyover that you see is the longest flyover in Bombay.

Still see bulls pulling  cart full of oil.

 

One way traffic.

Thane at night

Peter, Paul and Mary

I am still reading 1491, I really liked the book so far and I will write another blog about it in few days. I am reading about Mayan Calendar and I had ready about it long time ago but this book has lot more details. Anyway I went to library to stroll around since I had nothing else to do and two books caught my eyes. One is Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend  and other one is  Warlords: An Extraordinary Re-Creation of World War II Through the Eyes and Minds of Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, And Stalin . I don’t if I am going to be able to get through these books before I leave but I would like to. I started reading first one immediately because over last few months I read quiet a few books about Gnostics and subject is still interesting for me.

St Peter (Simon Peter) is the best known of Jesus’s disciple. In the first paragraph of first chapter of this book this book explained how he got the name Peter. Well his real name is Simon and his nickname, said to be given by Jesus himself, was Cephas. Cephas in Aramaic, language of Jesus spoke, means “Rock”. Now when the new testament was written, the language of the era was Greek and Cephas is translated in Greek as Petra (English verb petrify) and Petra became commonly known as Peter. St Peter is really St Simon. Now I knew that he was known as Simon Peter and I also knew that he was known as Simon the Rock but I just did not know Rock part was Peter.

1491

Just started reading this book, ‘1491, New Revelations Of the Americas Before Columbus‘ . Columbus reached Caribbean on October 12th 1992. This is considered such an important event that time before that is considered Pre-Columbian, and in America and  Spain, Columbus day is celebrated. Hence the book name 1491.

This book is about refuting the commonly held view that people who inhabited Americas were mainly in small. nomadic bands and most of the landmass was uninhabited. This is a great books so far. It talks about how in there were more people living in Americas than in Europe at the same time. Though I think, Americas does not only include US but North as well as South America. He talks about Mayan as well as Inca cultures. Anyway I just started reading it but it is certainly is a great book to know the other history of these huge continents.  It claims that cities such as Tenochtitlan had more people that any other contemporary European city, including Paris. This city had running water, gardens and clean streets unlike any other European cities. I do get the claim of street though I don’t know how they knew streets were clean :).

Anyway, I learned some interesting facts that I did not know before…

  1. Massachusett was a cluster of several dozen villages, around Massachusett Bay. All of these people spoke Massachusett, a family of languages. Massachusett was thus the name of the family off language as well as group of people that spoke it.
  2. Pocahontas was actually a nickname that meant something like “Little Hellion” and the girls actual name was Mataoka, who was a princess in training.
  3. Inca culture, who had one of the biggest empires of all the time, had a strange way of writing/memorizing information that was very different than any other thing in the world. Surely Egyptian hieroglyphics as well as Sumarian cuneiform signs are cryptic to us as they are more based on symbols rather than than speech based scripts of most modern languages (what we speak is what we wrote, for a nerd that is a wwsiwww). khipu or Ouipu was a method of conveying the information through knotted strings. There is a primary cord and then there are secondary cords dangling from primary cords. These secondary cords have knots that mean something. Khipukamayuq, “Knot keeper” parsed the knots both by inspecting them visually as well as by running fingers through them. Apparently in 1542, Spanish governor, Cristobal Vaca de Castro, assembly all knot reader to read the strings to assembly the history of Inca empire. When he found out they contradicted  Spanish version, he ordered all Khipu records to be burnt. Only about 600 of records survived the fire. Since no Rosetta stone has been found here yet, scholars still disagree if the Khipu was actually written form of a language or just way to remember things, a mnemonic devices. If the it was really a script then they are the only know intrinsically 3-D written documents. Now that is amazing!