Science and religion don’t often tread he same path, and when ever they do, there is some astronomy involved in a rather teasing manner.

Practising muslims observe fast in the islamic month of ramadan, in simple words they don’t eat anything while the sun is out on the horizon.  Islamic calender is a lunar one. This means the Islamic months are quite not pegged to the Gregorian calender which owes its allegiance to sun. This results in Islamic months rotating in relation to the gregorian months. For example: The month of ramadan in year X might be in Gregorian october, in X+1 it moves forward by a few days to probably september and after a cycle of N years will be back in October.

While most of practising muslims live in the tropics to lower latitudes, where the length of days and nights is equal through out the year. But for the few, living at higher latitudes, fasting poses a challenge. So a practicing muslim in Northern Europe may only need to fast for 7 hours when Ramadan falls in January (Northern hemisphere winter) , one may have to fast for almost 15 hours if ramadan falls in June/July. When one goes to even higher latitudes north of Arctic circle (or south of antarctic circle), say to cities in northern Norway /Sweden, the sun is on the horizon 24 hours a day in june and never on the horizon in january, bringing the might of religion against more humble geometrical 23.5 degree tilt of earth.

(A curious search on google says there are different views in Islam  to  this problem. The solutions it seem range from following Mecca standard time to following the time of nearest city where sun actually sets / rises to following a swiss made clock instead of solar clock.)


The present escalation of protests in the Indian controlled Kashmir definitely has a lot to do with a seperate identity for Kashmiris. That seems to have been achieved for now, far away here in the English Midlands.

I went to register at a local library run by Birmingham Council a couple of months back ( one of the many free goodies that European welfare states offer) and the registration form had a few questions on ethnic identity of mine:

1.Please state your ethnic identity : I checked the option ‘South Asian’

2. If you checked ‘South Asian’ as your ethnic identity, please state your detailed ethnic identity:

a. Indian b. Pakistani c. Bangladeshi d. Kashmiri

I was not surprised at all with that last option on the registration form, because Birmingham has the largest Kashmiri population outside of Kashmir. A seperate identity that for long has been in demand seems to have been recognised thousands of miles away. Passing through Small Heath, a district of Birmingham with a huge Kashmiri population, I once noticed a massive bill board asserting all Kashmiris to be identified as / identify one self as  Kashmiri and not as Indian or Pakistani.

Food though unfortunately seems to have been left from this identity recognition exercise. Kashmiri delicacies like Roganjosh and sub Kashmiri cuisines like Balti ( a cuisine brought from kashmiri region of Baltistan, under Pakistani control)  simply disappear into the fog of  a more ambiguous term “Curry” or “Indian takeaway”.

Rich man’s olympics

Is it only me who gets a feeling everytime I watch winter olympics, that they could easily be called rich man’s olympics. A sort of a feeling that attaches them to something elite, private schoolish, like rugby, while summer olympics is sort of working classish.

Thats probably, because majority of participation in these games is from rich industrialized nations, or probably, because, third world can’t even afford to fund their athletes for these games, and has to rely on donations from non residents/expats.

Indian central health and family welfare minister recently came up with a wonderful solution for the country’s population crisis. He was of the opinion that India’s population crisis can be addressed with one magic pill – no not the i-pill or unwanted-72, which I am told by the media are two of the best performing products this year, but good old television. He feels TV in every Indian household combined with quality late night programmes would ensure people will watch telly and fall asleep.

I was wondering, who could have inspired Mr Azad. Was it Steve Towers, with his ‘revolutionary’ “Outside In” philosophy ? Eureka !, I found the answer. Its  The Flight of the conchords who inspired him. Well take a look at the lyrics of their song “Its business time“.

Aww yeah
That`s right baby.
Girl, tonight we`re gonna make love. You know how I know, baby? `Cause it`s Wednesday. And Wednesday night is the night that we make love. Tuesday night`s the night that we go and visit your mother, but Wednesday night is the night that we make love. `Cause everything is just right conditions are perfect. There`s nothing good on TV. Conditions are perfect.

‘Leave no stones unturned’. Thats the golden rule when it comes to territorial claims and the related propaganda war.

DD News, the state owned 24 hours news channel, includes Gilgit and Chitral in its city/town weather report in its telecasts.

The blue marble

Upside downBumped into this at a souvenir shop on Swanston street in Melbourne. A map where southern hemisphere is on top, with the prime meridian criss crossing through Australia, Papua new guinea, Japan, Russia etc.  Looks completely different, contrary to our view of the world.  Mercator would be proud of this.

Away from the action down under in Victoria, getting a broadband internet connection to follow the indian general election results, was numero uno on my things to do this morning. Thanks to my hotel, that was easier than making Maggi.

Interesting one, it might be this time, as we may see Dr Singh getting one more shot at premiership, which if he manages would be the first since Jawahar Nehru. Advani, the Karachi born octogenarian probably will have one last shot at premiership. I don’t even want to waste time mentioning the big list of so called prime ministerial candidates who are next to being worthless, the worst of them, a self proclaimed virgin leader of dalits.

Ofcourse, interesting things expected in my two home states – AP and TN. Finally, waiting eagerly for the next trading session in Bombay as am sure there will be quick bucks to be made. Can’t forget May 2004’s trading sessions in bombay.