Sunday, September 27, 2009



I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Thirukumar Kandasamy Of NYC: The Magic Of Immigrant Charm

By Venkat Srinivasan

The customer, dressed in whites, looks flustered as she stares at the menu on the "NY Dosa" cart at Manhattan 's Washington Square Park . She asks the man behind the cart details about his dosa's ingredients.
"Rice and lentils, only," he explains. She isn't convinced and asks again.
"All vegan, just rice and lentils," he assures her. Hesitant but now a little more satisfied, she gets her dosa packed.

"That lady," he points to her as she leaves. "She's Jewish-American, you know. I've seen her before. It's for Yom Kippur."
It was Rosh Hashanah actually, but that's not the point. Serving a long line of hungry customers at a busy square in downtown Manhattan , Thirukumar Kandasamy, it would seem, knows his constituency. Nobody knows him by that name though.
"I don't care how people refer to me," he says, laughing. "The news guys, they call me Thiru 'The Dosa Man' Kumar!" Then, a little Shakespearan touch.
"For some people, name's a big thing," he reflects. "I am always happy. Nothing's too big a problem."
Every morning, Thiru starts work at 5 a.m., preparing food for the day at a kitchen in Queens . He hitches his cart to his roomy 1986 black Chevy, drives across the Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan and sets up by 11 a.m. at Washington Square . "I completely rebuilt it myself," he says, pointing to his truck (Thiru used to race and rebuild motorcycles). The sign, "NY Vegan Dosas - Price Range Inexpensive", is painted on the Chevy's rear, along with subway directions to his location.
Facing New York University's quaint law school building, Thiru's cart is an icon in this leafy neighborhood. It is frequented by artists, hipsters, students, dogs and their owners, tourists walking off the beaten path, and shutterbugs taking photos of the park's giant squirrels. The cart is a crowd-puller in itself, embellished with a "Little Vegan Monsters" sticker, a label guaranteeing "No Transfat, No Dairy Products, No Animal Products," and at least 30 articles about him from around the world. A movie poster cutout of Kamal Hassan herding a cow is mounted on the side.
And then, there's Thiru and his food. Before he scoops up a cup of batter to make the crisp, thin 'rice and lentil crepes,' he leans over his pushcart to check the number of unsold bottles of water. Then, in a swift motion, he simultaneously pours the batter into a frying pan, spreads it evenly with the cup in his right hand, sprinkles olive oil from a bottle in his left hand, and shouts, "Doll-uh, doll-uh, cold wat-uh."
That's water for a dollar. In reality then, Thiru never really markets his dosas.
"Lots of water left," he tells his new assistant, Maguba. "You set it up?"
"Yea, I did," replies the young girl with soft eastern European accent.
"Then why didn't you push it on the side?" he asks, pointing out that she should have sold a bottle to everyone who bought food. "Gotta be fast, fast!"

Thiru doesn't really need to market his dosas anymore. After being a finalist for two years, he won the 2007 Vendy Award for Best Street Cart Vendor in New York City . He's been covered by Time Out New York and has appeared on Oprah Winfrey's website. A regular wrote a Rastafarian song about him titled ' Dosa Man. ' Another designed an "NY DOSA" T-shirt, and Thiru markets those too, along with his water, for about $15 each. Tourists bearing stories about him from East Asian publications pose with him for photographs. Thiru, a 40-year-old first generation Sri Lankan-American, is a star in his own inimitable way.
He sports a thick moustache, a beige cap with an ' Om ' stitched on it, and a wide smile. He wears a gold chain around his neck, a silver-tinged earring in one ear, and a weathered green apron over his black jeans. And he chats up everyone. "He takes time to chat with each customer," says V.V. Ganeshananthan, an author who recently had Thiru cater the book party for her new novel.
Thiru's dosa lunches cost $6 at the most (a lunch elsewhere in that part of Manhattan will probably cost around $10). By using olive oil and avoiding any milk products, he an lay claim to the healthiest dosas around. By selling them on a street corner in an area of Manhattan known to be favorable to experimentation, he also guarantees himself a market and distinguishes himself from every other Indian restaurant in the city.
Two other recent and unrelated events seem to favor Thiru and vendors like him. The economic recession hit everyone, either directly or psychologically. "The recession is making people cook more," said Ruth Reichl, the editor of Gourmet magazine, speaking in March this year to a group of students at Columbia University 's journalism school. Reichl was also convinced that the American market was going to see a change in food trends. The magazine's March issue had a Korean food spread, and Reichl felt the success of movies like Slumdog Millionaire meant that Indian food would be one of the upcoming trends, to the extent that one believes in them.
The apparent hunger for all things South Asian and the economic recession's ripple effects that tempts people to realize again the value of cheaper food both come at the beginning of another New York summer. Locals flock to the parks, tourists flock to New York . The stars seem to be aligned for South Asian street food in New York .
In the gridlock of graduate students, bankers and entrepreneurs in downtown Manhattan, Thiru stands alone as a street entrepreneur, an immigrant who started with little and redefined success in the restaurant business.
Thiru arrived in New York City in 1995 via the green card lottery -- the U.S. offers 50,000 visas annually to individuals from underrepresented countries. "I applied on a whim," he says, in Tamil. "The future wasn't great in Sri Lanka for me."
He had many jobs in Sri Lanka , including being a diving instructor and working at a travel agency in Colombo . In New York City , Thiru worked a series of jobs, in construction, at a gas station, an iron factory, and then finally, a restaurant. After a lengthy wait for a city vendor license, he set up his dosa cart in 2001.
Krishnaraj Kaviraj Das, a yoga teacher, has visited Thiru's cart since he started seven years ago. "I just didn't find his taste and texture replicated elsewhere," he says. Thiru makes Das a special large dosa and lets him decide how much he should pay for his food. He cuts special deals with other old friends like Kostain, an artist. "I help him set up the stall," says Kostain, "and in return, he gives me food for free."
It hasn't been an easy business for Thiru either. While carts have lower overheads than restaurants, city approval can take three to five years. Thiru estimates that operating his 25 square-feet cart costs as much as $24,000 per year, including licenses, taxes and running expenses. While he does not disclose how much he makes annually, his food remains relatively inexpensive and he is the only earning member in his family. "I have no margins," he says. "I have only once increased my dosa price by $1 over the last seven years."
The city laws are stricter for street vendors than restaurants. "A restaurant that puts up its sign on the sidewalk may be fined a maximum of $100," says Sean Basinski, founder of the Street Vendor Project, organizer for the Vendy Awards. "But a vendor who obstructs a path may be fined $1,000."
But the unfavorable vendor laws don't tempt Thiru to operate a dosa restaurant instead. "Nothing unique about a dosa restaurant," he retorts. "Vegan dosa cart, I'm the only one in the U.S. "
It is a pride that manifests itself when he talks about his daughter, who started freshman year at Columbia University this month. "Hard work pays off," he says, adding that he intends to write a book in 2010 on his story.
It is nearing the end of another busy weekday afternoon. "We have only masala dosa and plain dosa left," he tells an approaching customer.
"Masala dosa," she replies.
"Sure thing. I'm going to add the roti inside the dosa too, O.K.?" He mashes the potato-filled roti appetizer and spreads it within a plain dosa. An unsold appetizer and an unwanted dosa morph into something that leaves both of them happy.
"End of day special," he tells her. "For $4. For you, anytime, miss." It would have usually cost $6.
How does he gauge how much to cook, day after day?
"According to the weather, man. Today's a rainy day, Saturday, no events around here. I bring only one tray of samosas."
The next how brings up a smile on his face. "I've been doing this for seven years," he says.
At 4 p.m., Thiru has his own first bite for the day. "Talk to me, girl. This is New York ," he tells Maguba. He laughs out loud. His food is sold out.
He gets up to clean the cart, and wipes off his running nose, sniffling intermittently in the drizzle. "I didn't wear jacket while cooking," he says. "Got wet in the rain." His black ski pants keep him dry waist down.
"Ready , ready, quick," he says to Maguba, pointing at the cart's metal surface. "Yesterday I did everything, you weren't there. You got to wash it today. You didn't clean underneath."
"I am cleaning, I am cleaning," Maguba says, with some annoyance.
"Did you clean the door?"
"Where, outside?"
"No, inside. Gimme, gimme. I'll clean outside."
"Seri, seri," says Maguba, in Tamil. O.K., O.K.
Thiru and Maguba put all the empty containers on the truck. He drives the truck up to the curb, attaches his cart to the hitch on the rear bumper, and gets in, ready to drive, while Maguba covers the boxes with a tarp and jumps onto the passenger seat. Loud Tamil hip-hop blares from the open windows. Thiru looks at his gas tank.
"Tomorrow got to do gas," he says. He smiles as he pulls away onto the road once more, to get groceries for the next day. "Today's O.K. Fast, fast, faaaast!" [courtesy: The Huffington Post]

If you cannot make it here ; you will never make it anywhere.

Monday, September 21, 2009


It is the month of August, on the shores of the Black Sea .
It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town. He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 Euro note on the reception counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one. The hotel proprietor takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the butcher. The Butcher takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the pig grower.
The pig grower takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel. The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the town’s prostitute that in these hard times, gave her “services” on credit. The hooker runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the 100 Euro note to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there. The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 Euro note back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything. At that moment, the rich tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes his 100 Euro note, after saying that he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism… And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the United States Government is doing business today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009



GOP Rep Taunts Obama: "You Lie!"

You win some, you lose some? South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson threw himself into infamy (No. 1 trending topic on Twitter Wednesday night) by yelling "You lie!" during President Obama's health-care speech to Congress. The heckling was in response to the president's assertion that a public-insurance option would not cover illegal immigrants. Sen. John McCain quickly denounced the outburst while being interviewed on Larry King Live, saying it was "totally disrespectful. [Wilson] should apologize immediately." Looks like Joe was listening: Wilson issued a red-faced apology for his "lack of civility" later last night. "I let my emotions get the best of me... While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable." Politico notes that Wilson's outburst violates House Republicans' rules of decorum, which bars presidential insults "such as referring to him as a 'hypocrite' or a 'liar.'"
Read it at The Political Ticker

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Published: September 1, 2009
OTTAWA — As the high-profile attorney general for Ontario,
Michael Bryant had championed severe and controversial traffic safety laws. On Tuesday, he was charged with criminal negligence causing death and with dangerous driving causing death in an unusually violent episode of road rage involving a bicyclist.
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Tony Smyth/CBC
Michael Bryant, a former Ontario attorney general, in the back of a police car on Monday night.

The arrest of Mr. Bryant stemmed from a collision between a bicycle and an automobile in Toronto’s most prestigious shopping district late Monday evening. The episode started off as minor but swiftly escalated, leading to the death of Darcy Allan Sheppard, 33, who was identified as a bicycle courier.
After the collision, Mr. Sheppard apparently grabbed the driver’s side door and held on. Within moments, the police received reports of a
Saab convertible racing past the fashionable shops of Bloor Street with a man clinging to its side. Two construction workers doing repairs along the road told CTV, a Canadian television network, that the car accelerated, its tires squealing, before veering into oncoming traffic on the left side of the street.
The workers said that the motorist repeatedly mounted the sidewalk and drove near lampposts in what seemed to be an attempt to brush off the man hanging onto the side.
One of the workers said the driver was “yelling pretty loud and he sounded very, very angry.” The other worker said, “He meant to knock him off.”
Several witnesses said that the clinging man flew off of the car after striking a mailbox. Sgt. Tim Burrows of the Toronto police traffic division said Mr. Sheppard died shortly after arriving at a hospital.
The convertible raced into the covered driveway of a nearby luxury hotel, the witnesses said. Not long after, Mr. Bryant was filmed by television crews sitting in the back of a police cruiser. A black Saab convertible near the hotel entrance had extensive damage on its driver’s side.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bryant left a Toronto police station after being charged. He made a
brief comment, offering his “deepest condolences” to Mr. Sheppard’s family.
Until he quit politics this spring to start an economic development agency for the city of Toronto, Mr. Bryant, a Liberal, was among the highest-profile members of Ontario’s government. In his last role, as economic development minister, Mr. Bryant negotiated the province’s participation in the bailout of
Chrysler and General Motors.
But it was as the province’s top law enforcement official that he produced the greatest controversy and acclaim of his 10-year political career.
Among his targets were street-racing motorists. In 2007 he gave the police the power to seize and destroy cars modified for racing even if no charges were lodged against their owners.
After describing such cars as being as dangerous as explosives, he said, “We will crush your car, we will crush the parts.”
Later that year the province
passed a bill to deem any vehicle traveling more than 50 kilometers an hour, or 31 miles an hour, faster than the speed limit to be racing. The legislation, under which more than 10,000 charges have been brought, allows the police to immediately seize vehicles and suspend licenses.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Sri Lankan reporter named winner of Peter Mackler Award

August 31, 2009

Sri Lankan prison officials escort Tamil journalist J. S. Tissainayagam to a prison bus
J. S. Tissainayagam, a Sri Lankan reporter sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison, has been named the first winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism."We are happy to reward J.S. Tissainayagam in 2009, a terrible year for Sri Lanka," said Jean-Francois Julliard, secretary-general of the Paris-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF)."This country needs journalists who are determined and concerned with finding the truth," Julliard said in a statement issued hours after Tissainayagam was jailed for 20 years on charges of supporting terrorism."J.S. Tissainayagam is one of those and should never have been imprisoned," he said. "Sri Lankans have the right to be informed about what is happening on their island."They have the right to read words written by men like J. S. Tissainayagam."Tissainayagam was selected for the Peter Mackler Award, named for a 30-year veteran of Agence France-Presse who died last year, by the US branch of RSF and Global Media Forum (GMF), a company founded by Mackler to train journalists and non-profit organizations to use the media as a tool for social change.The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also announced Monday that it will honor Tissainayagam with a 2009 International Press Freedom Award at a ceremony in November."We are announcing this award today to highlight the depth of outrage at this unjust sentence," said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.Tissainayagam, who has been cited by US President Barack Obama as an "emblematic example" of a persecuted journalist, was sentenced to 20 years of hard labor.He was found guilty on charges of receiving money from the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and causing racial hatred through his writings about Tamils affected by the LTTE war for a separate homeland.Tissainayagam contributed to Sri Lanka's Sunday Times and ran a website,, that focused on the island's minority Tamils.RSF condemned the "extremely severe" sentence imposed on Tissainayagam saying it "suggests that some Sri Lanka judges confuse justice with revenge."With the help of confessions extracted by force and information that was false or distorted, the court has used an anti-terrorism law that was intended for terrorists, not for journalists and human rights activists," it said.RSF said Tissainayagam will be formally awarded the Peter Mackler prize at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington on October 2. Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Washington Post, will be the keynote speaker.The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was founded in June 2008 to honor the memory of Mackler, who died of a heart attack that month at the age of 58.Mackler covered wars, elections and other notable events around the world during his career at AFP and was key in transforming the agency's English language service into the international competitor it is today.The Peter Mackler Award rewards journalists who fight courageously and ethically to report the news in countries where freedom of the press is either not guaranteed or not recognized.AFP