Prabu Deva bringing you some Wacko Jacko moves with “Urvashi” from the film Kathalan

Here’s a little blast from the past…you have to love Prabu Deva…he is a god.

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Desi Monkeys have genes that can block HIV

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A gene in Asian monkeys that may have evolved as a defence against lentiviruses, the group that includes HIV, has been identified by Harvard Medical School researchers.

The gene, TRIM5-CypA, is a hybrid of two existing genes, TRIM5 and CypA. The combination produces a single protein capable of blocking infection by viruses closely related to HIV.

This is actually the second time researchers have identified a TRIM5-CypA gene in monkeys. The other hybrid, called TRIMCyp, was discovered in 2004 in South American owl monkeys.

Normally, evolutionary biologists assume that similar DNA sequences, present in the same location in the genomes of two or more species, evolved only once.

In this scenario, the gene arises first in a common ancestor and is subsequently inherited by all the species that descend from that ancestor. In the case of TRIM5-CypA and TRIMCyp, this does not appear to be the case.

TRIM5-CypA was not found in monkeys closely related to the Asian macaques, and in fact, was not found in every macaque individual tested.

Likewise, owl monkey TRIMCyp was not found in any other species of South American primate. Researchers suggest that the two genes arose independently, once each in owl monkeys and macaques.

More tellingly, even though the protein sequences specified by two TRIM5-CypA genes are similar, at the DNA level it is obvious that the molecular events leading to formation of the two genes were different.

Evolutionary biologists refer to the acquisition of a similar adaptation in different species as ‘convergent evolution’, an example being the independent appearance of flight in both birds and bats.

The Harvard team’s genetic evidence indicates that the two TRIM5-CypA genes constitute an unambiguous and particularly striking example of convergent evolution.

That the process occurred at least twice during primate evolution suggests that the combination of the TRIM5 and CypA genes provided a strong evolutionary advantage to the individuals in which they originally appeared.

The study has been published in the latest issue of journal PLoS Pathogens, suggesting that AIDS is not a new epidemic.

story from link

Monkeys Get Married in Orissa

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Several thousand guests have solemnized an elaborate Hindu wedding ceremony between two monkeys in India’s eastern Orissa state.

At the ceremony Jhumri, the two-year old monkey ‘bride’ sported a crimson red sari, a tiara of flowers and had her forehead smeared with sandalwood paste whilst Manu the ‘groom’ was his swashbuckling self, sporting only a chain and collar at a temple in Ghanteswara village, 125 miles from the state capital Bhubaneshwar.

In keeping with tradition, three-year old Manu accompanied by a band playing raucous music and hundreds of dancing guests was received formally by the bride’s family close to the marriage venue.

Her elaborately dressed ‘relatives’ intoned loud chants normal at a Hindu wedding and to the accompaniment of fireworks showered the brown-eyed groom with flowers as he approached the coy ‘bride’, lounging bewilderedly in her ‘mother’s’ lap to garland her.

Thereafter, a Brahmin priest completed the wedding rituals around a fire, considered sacred by Hindus.

“It was a unique experience for me. It was the first time I conducted a marriage between two animals. But I followed all the rituals that I do in human marriages”, priest Daitari Dash said.

The monkeys were then presented with gifts, mostly bananas and coconuts, but also a gold necklace for the bride donated by a local businessman.

“I feel as if my own daughter is getting married. I cannot bear the thought that she would not be with us anymore” Mamina, the woman who has been looking after Jhumri after her husband found her at a local temple, said.

Her ‘groom’ was caught in a neighbouring mango orchard by a couple who raised him as their pet.

After the wedding the couple, chained till now, were released by their owners and took up residence in a nearby park.

Monkeys are considered holy by India’s majority Hindu community that associates them with the god Hanuman.

Millions of Indians visit Hanuman temples every Tuesday and anyone trying to trap or scare off monkeys is frequently beaten up or chased away.

Killing the animals is out of the question and most people believe feeding the animals is propitious.

story from monkeys in the news

Desi Ghosts, spirits, and other things that float about in the night…

Some Desi ghosts and spirits share some characteristics with vampires such as having the capacity to drain out a person’s life-force and to generally carry about causing trouble for human beings…although some can be trained to behave…

Djinn:

In Islamic mythology, the Djinn are fiery spirits, one of which was Iblis. From the Arabic junna, “angry, possessed.” The Jinn pre-existed in middle eastern folklore before Islam, and were incorporated into the religion. The djinn are creatures who lived on earth before man; they were made up of ‘smokeless fire’ whereas men were made from earth.

Djinn are often disruptive, but can sometimes be of service to mankind. The Djinn shunned daylight and were responsible for disease and insanity. Unlike other devilish creatures, however, the Djinn are creatures of free will, even having a chance at redemption through Islam. The three classes of Djinn are:

* Ghul, mishchievous shape-shifting spirits associated with graveyards. “Ghul” is the origin of the English word “ghoul.”
* Sila, Djinn who can appear in any form
* Ifrit, evil spirits.

In Middle Eastern magical practice, Djinn are invoked much like the spirits of the Goetia in Western magick.

The word “genie” is a corruption of Djinn. Both ‘Djinn’ and ‘Genius’ probably share a common root. Djinn are said to avoid salt and steel, and to be afraid of the sound of singing.

from link

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The Vetala:

In India, tales of vetalas, ghoul-like beings that inhabit corpses, are found in old Sanskrit folklore. A prominent story tells of King Vikramāditya and his nightly quests to capture an elusive vetala. The vetala legends have been compiled in the book Baital Pachisi. The vetala is an undead creature, who like the bat associated with modern day vampirism, hangs upside down on trees found in cremation grounds and cemeteries. (from wiki) They were also called Punyaiama, meaning pure race, as in the Veda. It looks like an old woman, which was deformed with long slits for eyes, discolored skin, poison fingernails and was known for canabalism. It sucks the blood of sleeping, drunken or mad women. It would enter the home by passing a magic thread down the chimney of the home. The Vetala also had the ability to possess corpses. These corpses would have their hands and feet pointing backwards. (this excerpt and rest of quotes below from theshadowlands)

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The Masan:

from India, is said to be usually the ghost of a child that delights in tormenting and killing children. The Masan was able to curse a child that walks in its shadow. It will also follow a woman home should she allow her gown to drag on the ground over his shadow.
from the shadowlands

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The Bhuta:

from Indian Mythology is the soul of a man who died an untimely death, usually violent in nature. This is an ill-intentioned spirit that wandered around at night animating dead bodies and attacking the living like a ghoul. They can also be found in cemeteries or other deserted places, feeding on excretion and intestines. An attack by one of these creatures would usually result in severe sickness or death. The Bhuta also have a problem that they lack shadows and therefore cannot settle on the earth.

from the shadowlands

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The Gayal:

Is classified as a vampiric spirit that is usually created due to the death of a man who has no one too properly performs the burial rites at his funeral. When he returns the Gayal reeks his revenge upon the sons of others and upon his own relatives. The threat of a relative returning from the grave is usually enough to ensure that proper burial rite are performed.

from the shadowlands

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Vikram Aur Betaal! (retro ghost teleserial)

here’s some childhood t.v. Doordarshan nostalgia for you…personally I never watched this series but I used to read the story-book about the corpse hanging from a tree that King Vikram needs to collect for a tantric to use in his magickal workings… you need to watch the clip halfway to see the ghost flying and don’t miss the special effects skulls at the very end.

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The series was about a righteous king ,Vikram who goes in search of a ghost, Betaal. Each time he succeeds in trapping him but has to listen to a story on his way back. There is also an impending condition set by Betaaal that he would accompany Vikram as long as he kept his vow of silence, never uttering a word. These were simple stories which contained a moral, and a question at the end posed by Betaal to Vikram. Betaal also warned the king that if he knew the answer and failed to answer it, he (Betal) would have his head. The cunning Betal knew that the king was too clever not to know the answer, and each time Vikram fell for the trap followed by the inevitable …tu bola aur main chala…voooooo.

from nastyworld

so here’s the intro from the t.v. serial with Satish Shah (ghost Betaal) clinging on Arun Govil’s back telling him a story and asking questions at the end and then flying away giggling…

and here’s a new cartoon version of the same…not very good but it gives you some idea of the story…altough I’d kind of like to punch the narrator…who talks about the “strong bodied and fair skinned” Vikram in one of those “for good times make it santori times” whisky commercial accents….anyway…

by the way, because of the trouble with translating Sanskrit into phoenetic english, Betaal can also be read as vetaal, or vetala. Just so as we can be clear on this species of ghost because the Baital, was a supernatural being in india that is half human and half bat, not to be confused with this species of ghost that likes to hang from trees upside down, possess corpses, and has hair like an old woman.

In India, tales of vetalas, ghoul-like beings that inhabit corpses, are found in old Sanskrit folklore. A prominent story tells of King Vikramāditya and his nightly quests to capture an elusive vetala. The vetala legends have been compiled in the book Baital Pachisi.

NRI Skeletons…trading in bones…

You may have noticed the slight skeleton fetish here at ROTD…well, here’s one more story I came across a little belatedly…

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India has long been the world’s primary source of bones used in medical study, renowned for producing specimens scrubbed to a pristine white patina and fitted with high-quality connecting hardware. In 1985, however, the Indian government outlawed the export of human remains, and the global supply of skeletons collapsed. Western countries turned to China and Eastern Europe, but those regions produce relatively few skeletons. They have little experience producing display-quality specimens, and their products are regarded as inferior.

For 150 years, India’s bone trade has followed a route from remote Indian villages to the world’s most distinguished medical schools.

Skeletons aren’t easy to get. In the US, for instance, most corpses receive a prompt burial, and bodies donated to science usually end up on the dissection table, their bones sawed to pieces and destined for cremation. So most skeletons used for medical study come from overseas. Often they arrive without the informed consent of their former owners and in violation of the laws of their country of origin.

Now, 22 years after India’s export ban, there are signs that the trade never ended. Black-market vendors in West Bengal continue to supply human skeletons and skulls using the time-honored method: Rob graves, separate soft flesh from unyielding calcium, and deliver the bones to distributors — who assemble them and ship them to dealers around the globe.

Exports to North America are still small compared with pre-ban levels, but shipments are finding their way to American medical programs. Suppliers have ample incentive — it’s a lucrative business. The skulls on the ground before me, for instance, would fetch an estimated $70,000 overseas.

read more on the Desi business of grave-robbing in a long in depth account by journalist Scott Carney at wired.com

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R.I.P. Appu Ghar and Bhoot Bangla

Well, if you grew up in Delhi this has to come as a big blow. No more bumper cars. No more dragon roller coaster. No more room with the funny mirrors. No more cotton candy and popcorn and thumbs up. No more dangerous ferris wheels. No more spinning tea-cups. And most importantly, no more Bhoot Bangla, riding through the dark tunnel with all the shrieking bats and skeletons. sigh. Watching this clip actually brought tears to my eyes. This place had so much history. This was a landmark in the history of so many New Delhi childhoods. Sure- the rides were cheesy- and the junk food probably made you sick- but for a little kid getting led around by your parents with a hyperactive imagination running rampant- the place was like heaven- full of the thrill of new rides to test your little limbs on and to see how brave you could get yourself to be with adrenaline pumping through your little veins and a maniacal grin on your greedy little face. Can we ride that one again? Well, like Campa Cola Appu Ghar is going to be another one of those phantoms from a landscape that no longer exists…makes one feel prematurely old and nostalgic. I have heard they may rebuild it in a different part of the city or in Rajasthan, but they plan to dump all the vintage theme park gear and opt for more trendy rides. Lets see what happens…The times-they-are-a-changing- too fast for my liking. I’m not ready to think of my childhood as having existed “once-upon-a-time.” Oh and what about the hundreds of Appu Ghar employees who have worked there for their entire lives? One of these days not so far away we’re going to wake up in India and discover we’re living in one giant shopping mall/office building/courthouse/train station – And the rich of this country are in such a god damned hurry to get there, that once they arrive they’re going to realize we’ve lost all sense of where we’ve been. But everyone will have a nice shiny new car so who will really give a fuck if the landscape leads to nowhere.

Last Ride at Appu Ghar:

Anyway…here are a few last pictures…

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Appu Ghar, the country’s first amusement park, was opened on November 19, 1984. It got its name from the ‘Appu’ the mascot of the 1982 Asian Games. Beginning with 10 rides, it graduated to 24.

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NEW DELHI: Nostalgia was the theme on the last day at Appu Ghar as people queued up to enjoy one last ride in the speeding roller coaster, amazing giant wheel, swinging Colombus Ship, Eerie Tunnel and the ghoulish delights on offer at the “Bhoot Bangla”.

Inaugurated on November 19, 1984 by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Appu Ghar, named after “Appu”, the dancing baby elephant mascot of the 1982 games, was dubbed the first amusement park in the country. At the expiry of its lease, it is now making way for a section of the Supreme Court that will house a library, lawyers’ chambers and offices. A part of it will be used by the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) to extend its metro station at Pragati Maidan as ordered by the apex court.

After Chanakya cinema, Appu Ghar is another landmark in the city closing down to pave way for new infrastructure. Visitors, especially kids and youngsters are heartbroken at the very thought of bidding farewell to their favourite haunt.

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”I can’t believe they are closing down Appu Ghar. It is really sad because this is my favourite place and I always love to freak out here with my family. Even today, I have come here to celebrate my birthday.” Puja Gautam, a manager in an export house said.

”First it was the Chanakya cinema and now Appu Ghar. These are the places we associate our childhood with. We have grown up in these places. They are a part of Delhi’s charm, its history,” she added.

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Five-year-old Tanvi, who came to the park with her parents, was surprised to know that Appu Ghar will be closed forever. ”Why is it closing Papa? This is such an entertaining place. Ask them not to close it.” she said innocently holding a pink candyfloss stick in her hand.

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Dhruv, a student of Holy Heart School at Vijay Nagar said, ”though I am coming here for the first time I really like the place. It should not be closed. I am enjoying all the rides here especially the Bhoot Bangla and if today is the last day I want to spend whole day here.”

The closure of the park was long in coming, ever since the lease of International Amusement Limited (IAL), under whose aegis Appu Ghar is running, expired in 1999. The company had got 14.74-acre land from India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) way back in 1984 to run the park.

The park, which started with few rides such as “Bhoot Bangla” and bumping cars, gradually gained popularity across the country that it became imperative to have something similar in other cities.

Apart from the 250-odd-employees who will be losing their livelihood with the parks closure there are professionals from outside who will be seriously affected.

Sahil Bhatt of Patel Nagar is not an employee of Appu Ghar but he has been entertaining the crowd here from past one and a half year with his puppet show. ” I earn 1,000 to 1500 Rs daily by my puppet show. Now as the park is closing it will be a loss for me,” he said ruefully.

K Raj, a magician said,” I get Rs 400 per day for my magic show but from tomorrow I have to look for some other place.”

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”There are about 300 employees in Appu Ghar – the people at the ticket counter, guards, those manning the rides. But nearly 1,000 people will be affected because the vendors here are dependent on Appu Ghar for their livelihood. What will we all do?” Ram Kumar, one of the guards at the entrance gate, said.

Nishant Misri, Assistant Manager at the Reebok outlet inside Appu Ghar said closure of this park will be a huge loss for them. ”With this outlet our income on week days is more than one lakh and on weekends it is between 30-40 thousand. Now, as we have to close this outlet we are offering a flat 50 per cent sale for clearing our stock.”

From the candyfloss being sold outside to the fearsome dragon rollercoaster to the swings of ‘My Fair Lady’, Appu Ghar forms part of fond memories for many a child and parent. Farewell, Appu Ghar.
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from DNA

oh and here…well you can’t really see what it looks like inside but you can hear the familiar clatter of the tracks and catch one last glimpse of the neon painted goblins on the last legs of the bhoot bangla ride….I wish this was a better clip or that I’d managed to get back to Delhi for one last ride…