ITTF STIGA Trick Shot - Ganapathi Subramanian

The International Table Tennis Federation ( ITTF) is set in search of the world’s best table tennis trick shot. The ITTF STIGA Trick Shot Showdown, challenges Table tennis enthusiasts around the world to send in their best ever table tennis trick shot to prove to the world they have the best trick shot in the world. The 2014 showdown promises to be the best ever. In addition to the prestigious title of owning the world’s best table tennis trick shot, the winner will also walk away with US$4,000, , one-year STIGA Sponsorship, and a 4 day 3 night trip to the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok, Thailand to meet top table tennis stars.

R. Ganapathi Subramanian, a third year B.tech student of NIT Trichy, whirls in his trick as the only entry from India. A blind folded back service to hit a small target that falls as the dot placed upon i in “STiGA”. The trick is performed with all its elegance and tint. Watching him blindfold himself at the start of the trick, in a place away from the TT table, makes the trick interesting and obviously more challenging. To blind fold oneself and yet manage to hit from the right spot is great talent and relentless practice. It is jaw dropping as one watches the ball tip-tap and turn around before it bounce across the net. And it is amazing as the ball skims the coin on its path. To see the coin fall to complete the dot on ‘i’ in “STiGA” is pure elegance.

“A trick that completes STIGA” it can be called.

Being the only participant from India in this international level competition, Ganapathi Subramanian stands taller among other participants and his trick needs encouragement. To watch him perform click here.

Having won the third maximum views online, Ganapathi Subramanian has made it to the finals of this prestigious competition. Fighting among other top 5, this only Indian participant has made the world look upon Indian Table Tennis. Fueled purely by his passion for Table Tennis, Ganapathi Subramanian has steered his way to the finals. The finalist is chosen on a vote basis. To vote for Ganapathi Subramanian click here. For the Indian spirit in you, follow and vote for him.

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Was it my luck or his ill luck?

I cannot control my giggling yet. Flashes of the incident set me on another sequence of laughter. I sit back, still smiling, thinking back the way it had happened.

I had always hated valuables. Be it a gold chain, silver anklets or gold earrings I had always loathed them. Heavier than the ornament was the responsibility of keeping it safe. The happenings in the society had always weighed up on me. Incidents of chain snatching and robbery always sent a shiver down my spine. “I want my neck safe” was my point. But my parents thought different. They were adamant that I should wear at least a gold chain and a pair of silver anklets. “You’re a grown up now! You should take up responsibilities” was the way they put it. All my wailings went in vain.

So, when I stepped into college, I found myself weighing 35 grams extra. It is not that I hate ornaments. Being a girl I do like wearing them. It is just that if I wear gold, everyone around appears to be a thief. Everyone seems to be staring for longer than normal. All passer-bikes seem faster than usual. In short, no mental peace or I am now my parent’s responsible little girl. To aid me out of my fears my mom had given me ideas like, safely pinning my chain along with the dress. Not a day had I stepped out without doing that. Day by day I was getting used to the nagging presence of the chain.

That day, it was my friend’s birthday and we had gone out to the rocky beach. Like always I was being conscious of the people around. But laughing and playing around with my friends cooled me off a bit. I was beginning to enjoy the salty wind when it happened. After playing around a bit, we had started taking photos. We were all sitting on the couple of steps that lead to the beach. I was standing on the second step grinning at the camera oblivious to a pair of eyes behind me. The next thing that I remember was being pulled to my right. I screamed out loud. I had lost my balance and toppled off the step. I would have hit my head on a rock if it hadn’t been for that man who seemed to have fallen with me. He hit his head on the rock and I hit his. I was about to apologize when he rudely shoved me off. I remember wondering why he was in such a hurry because he seemed to be trying to both get up and run. Then I felt something pulling my leg. I looked towards it and to my horror saw my anklets tangled with the man’s pant. The man, trying to get up, has already fallen down twice. He then started shaking his leg (and mine along with his) trying to get free. It was then that I noticed a big crowd had gathered and few uncles were hitting the man. My friends helped me up. While I could still not understand what was going on, I felt something dangling to my right. My chain! My precious chain!

Now everything came into the picture. This wicked man had tried to snatch my chain! How dare he? As the chain was safely pinned to me (thanks to my mom), it wouldn’t come off and had pulled me too. The man had given up pulling and started to run. I wonder if it was my luck or his ill luck that he had to dash in the wrong direction. I wonder if it was my luck or his ill luck that I had to topple off on him. I wonder if it was my luck or his ill luck that despite his efforts to run he got caught. He lost to my anklet. My anklet!

The best part is yet to come.

A couple of guards had come and the man was handed over. I was slowly relieving from the shock when something else happened. I heard a voice from the crowd, “How brave of that girl? She actually pounced on a man who tried to snatch her chain..“ “yeah yeah.. very brave of her” went on many. Before I could explain anything, people started congratulating me. I badly wanted to say that I had just toppled off and not “pounced on him” as they had put it. But, they just wouldn’t let me speak. At last, I was left thanking everyone. I was struggling hard to keep a straight face, battling off that ludic grin that kept cropping up.

Now, sitting back in the safe environment of my room, I feel my chain safe around my neck. I look at my anklets that had saved the day. Grinning for the hundredth time that day, I wonder again, was it my luck or his ill luck?

 

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Hand puppetry

Puppetry is one among the traditional art forms of India. Weaved to life by the hands of a puppeteer, a puppet recites a long told epic. The artist moves in the shadows, but speaks out loud through his puppets. It is through the puppeteer that the breath of life is breathed into a puppet. When it comes to puppets like bunraku puppets, which are big wood carved dolls, it requires as much as three puppeteers to handle one puppet. The head puppeteer handles the head, the face and the right hand of the puppet while a second puppeteer operates the left hand and a third one takes care of the legs. Harmonious working of puppeteers is required for the natural movement of the puppet. A puppeteer’s hands are like the spine of a puppet.  This expressive art later developed into many different forms. Puppetry forms like shadow puppetry and hand puppetry are some examples. To know more on shadow puppetry click here!

In hand puppetry, the puppets are in the form of gloves which can be controlled by hands. They are not usually larger than the hand. A glove puppet comes with separate internal divisions for individual movement of various parts of the puppet. The puppets are flexible, fluffy and made of fabric. Decorations like eyes, nose and mouth are also added to make it look lively. Sometimes special variations exist. Eyelids that open and close are some example of such variations. After letting the hand into the puppet, fingers and joints are moved for giving life to the puppet.

The mechanism with which a normal puppet works is very interesting. The head is wooden and hollow. This is placed on the top of a head-grip stick (dogushi) which is in turn placed through a hole on the shoulder board. The arms and legs of a puppet are separately attached to the shoulder board through strings.  But, something interesting is that, as a rule, female puppets do not have legs. The foot puppeteer places his fists at the hem of the puppet’s robe and it look as if the doll is moving. A long wooden armature (sashigane) is attached to the left hand of the puppet using which the left-hand puppeteer operates the left hand.

Puppet shows were an inevitable part of all Indian cultures. Puppet shows were mainly existent as a mode of communication between people of different standards. Puppetry is viewed as an ideal vehicle for propagating moral messages about childhood. It is a safe way for the children to explore their fears. To know more about Indian puppetry and the role of puppetry in the society click here! Hidden deep inside India’s villages are many arts and skills. All these are dying and need to be protected. Always art is what one perceives.

 

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Shadow puppetry

Art was born out of human need to communicate. Various art forms like painting, dance, music and puppetry were prevalent and powerful media of expression. Puppetry being a significant one among them has been pre-dominant for long and overtime it has evolved into many forms. One such form is shadow puppetry. As the name reveals, in shadow puppetry, the messengers are shadows. Unlike the usual form of puppetry, which was prevalent in Rajasthan, shadow puppetry was prevalent in many states of south India. Also shadow puppets are not as whole and colorful as the usual ones; instead they are paper-cut with their joints such that they can be freely operated by threads.

A shadow puppet theatre consists of a white screen on which the shadows of the puppets are projected using lamps. Wonderful effects can be generated by moving the light source and the puppets. The color of the light source was used to enhance the act. For instance, red color was flashed for war scenes. The interesting part is yet to come. One must remember that all this happened centuries ago. So, they couldn’t have switched on and off multi-colored laser lights for such effects. Where else did they bring color from? How could they have colored their light? This is where beauty surfaces. They had actually flashed white light through colored cloth for obtaining colored light. Not just light but this art form faced many other challenges. In shadow puppetry only the profile of the puppet is visible. To overcome this limitation shadow puppetry was excessively dramatized. They are elegantly sculpted and take as many as 3000 cuts. Beauty of this art form lies in the method adopted for differentiating characters. In shadow puppetry this is achieved using their character wise features. For instance, a peacock feather stuck to the hair implies Lord Krishna, a ten headed image meant Ravana and a woman seated on a lotus flower meant Goddess Lakshmi.

Even though shadow puppetry is different from the usual puppet shows, its use and importance in the society is same as that of the traditional one. Puppet shows were a medium of communication. To know more about traditional puppetry and its importance click here! Shadow puppeteers of India still follow Indian tradition and customs in their acts. Being one among the dying arts, shadow puppetry is prevalent in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu .

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Puppetry

Man requires expressing himself. He had thrived for this freedom. This is when he created art. Art is nothing but another mode of expression. The mode adopted for expression differs. From a painted canvas to a sculpted statue, from a hand written poem to a vocally sung song, from aiming arrows to handling animals, from dance to stunts everything is an art, everything is a human attempt at expression. India is an adobe of such expressive art. Indian villages were home to many traditional practices. One among such expressive practices was puppetry. Puppetry is animating inanimate objects. Beautifully molded and painted dolls were brought to life through strings. They danced about gracefully through a pair of hands, the puppeteer’s. In India puppets are locally known as kathputli, where kath means wood and puthli means doll. Puppet shows were mainly for entertainment while they were also performed during festivals, ceremonies and celebrations.

This ancient practice is believed to have originated about 3000 years ago. The tradition of puppets is based on folk stories and folk believes.  Puppet shows are the oldest form of entertainment.  These string and wire controlled articulated puppets were mainly used for communicating ideas and needs of the villages. Puppet shows during festivals recreated epics, local mythical heroes and allegory of their deities. Extracts from legendary epics were reanimated as a moral message to young children. Puppet shows were also used as a medium to educate the illiterate locals about how to face day to day hurdles. The shows were aimed at creating awareness about dowry, woman empowerment, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and cleanliness. They provided the people with solutions to their problems. For instance, a local recollects a puppet show on how to respond during snake encounter. Another example was the demonstration of first aid during various situations of emergencies and dos and don’ts during natural calamities. Puppet shows had attracted people of all ages.

Seeing a puppet dance about flawlessly in a theatre, one tends to forget that it is being handled by the puppeteer. Puppet shows were enhanced by adding music and giving voices to the puppet characters. Visual aids included curtains and weapons for the puppet warriors. Characteristic to this art form are the shrill voices of the lead puppeteer spoken through a bamboo reed. In India, puppetry is more prevalent in Rajasthan. No religious festival, no social gathering, no village fair and no celebration in Rajasthan can be complete without the kathputlis. Today, kathputli is one of the major performing arts in Rajasthan. The tribes and locals of Rajasthan have been preforming this art since ancient times and it has become an eternal part of Rajasthan culture and tradition.

Art, like beauty, is a matter of perception. It goes beyond mere appreciation because appreciation depends on interpretation which in turn depends on the observer. There are varieties in the form of the puppet show. Shadow puppetry is an example. Puppet shows are a visual treat to the audience. Colorful dolls weave about more colorful stories as they move about the screen. This traditional art has to be protected.

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The art of pot making - part 3

Potters have spun and shaped out many artistic wonders. Their color bound clay ware has never failed to make an impression. As we walk through museums, stacked with these aesthetic picks, we can almost relive the essence of our Indian tradition. Along with the pots, the art has also been locked up. Today, pot making is a dying art. Man has found substitutes for clay and porcelain. Seldom do we find people using earthen ware in their kitchen. Utensils made of steel and aluminium have replaced the traditional ones. Containers made of plastic or metals are used because they are more durable than the pottery which is fragile and breakable. The development of electrical pot making machines have led to more number of pots in a shorter period of time and desired shape can be achieved easily. Also the materials used are long lasting. On the contrary, fired clay used in the pottery tends to be tenuous. To know more about how pots are made click here!

But restoring faith, pots can be found being used for one purpose, the very same traditional use – natural water cooling. Yes, water stored in a mud pot gets cooled naturally. This is attributed to the pores present in the clay ware. Science behind it is that water leaks through the pores of the pot, absorbs heat from the water inside and evaporates away cooling the water stored. Exploiting this, some water companies have come up with the idea of fitting these conventional pots with a spigot, a lid and a flat base for easy water extraction. Such pot making technologies are effective in preventing contamination while remaining acceptable to the rural people.

Tracing the origin of pottery in the Indian sub-continent leads us to the Indus valley civilization. For more about the origin of pottery in India click here! Pottery flourished not just in India but also in several other countries like Egypt, China and Germany. Pottery in India is one of the oldest art forms. Handling clay requires skill and this is among the earliest skills known to Indians. Indian potters are locally known as kumhar or kumbhar.Indian potters are famous for the beautiful statues of deities. There are only a few pockets in India where the potter’s wheel is still turning. One of the problems they face is that demand for pottery is seasonal. For instance, clay lamps are on a high demand during Diwali. Due to such irregular income and lessening demand, potters do not want their children to follow their footsteps. This dying art needs to be protected before it vanishes from the future of Indian art forms.

A wonderful piece of art has great healing powers. Art can make one construe life through non-linear narrative. Pottery is a small dot in the wide canvas of art.

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The art of pot making- part 2

Over the years, India has homed a million potters. This art occupies a unique position in the craft tradition of India. The Indian pottery included clay ware, earth ware and porcelain. They stored the agricultural harvest and were among the essentials in the kitchen. These utensils were hard and mostly water resistant. They were made of clay and terracotta.

Clay is finely weathered rock. The color of clay is determined by the impurities it adheres as it flows. The particle size is very small. Clay was found to be highly apt for making utensils because when wet with a proper amount of water it can be easily molded into shapes. The clay could also retain the shape for long. This is known as clay’s plasticity. But potters found that clay was harder when heated. At high temperatures, clay melts to form tightly bound hard rock like substances which were almost indestructible and fairly waterproof. But pottery is not directly made from the clay that is dug out. It is removed off impurities through the process of levigation.

The process of pot making begins with purification of the clay. Repeating levigation softens the clay. This knead clay is then mounted onto the potter’s wheel. As the wheel rotates the potter shapes the pot. The pot is made in 3 parts called as the head, spurt and the foot. The potter uses various positions of hands to shape the clay at various stages of the clayware.

Once the pot is done it is fired to make it strong. Kiln is the most common way of firing. The pottery is stacked into the kiln and heated to 800 degree Celsius. The temperature is changed in between from 950 to 900 degrees. During this process the vents or pores in the clay open and close.  Now the clay ware is hard and moisture resistant. There are various styles of pottery. For more on different styles of pottery click here! The completed pottery is then painted with bright colors. The size and shape of the pottery depends on the purpose it is to be used for.

Exploring the colorful side of clay, potters have shaped this old traditional art. The importance of pottery in useful purposes is declining. However, pottery is still made for ornamental purposes because the designs and the skills displayed by the potter are eye-catchy and are a matter of admiration.

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The art of pot making - part 1

Historically, pottery making is one of the most widespread and oldest of the art. The origin of pottery in the Indian sub-continent can be traced back to the Indus valley civilization. Wonderful artistic pieces of work were found during the excavation of the Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro cities. These include earth ware, stone ware and porcelain. These artistic pieces of works are shaped by a potter’s hands off his wheel. Throughout the ages cultures around the world have used pottery for many purposes. Some of the earliest pieces found were animal and female figurines probably used for rituals and ceremonies. Pottery was mainly for utilitarian purposes like storing grain or dried materials. The earliest pieces were shaped by hand from crude clay dug from the earth, and left to dry in the wind and sun to harden.

Modern day scholars suggest that the first potter’s wheel was found in Mesopotamia. This equipment is used to pull up the clay material as the potter shapes and structures the pot using his hand. Tournettes were the earliest forms of potter’s wheel. They were slowly turned by hand or foot. Later, the fast wheel which operated using the flywheel principle was developed.  The fast wheel enabled a new process of pottery-making to develop, called “throwing”, in which a lump of clay was placed centrally on the wheel and then squeezed, lifted and shaped as the wheel turned. The potter takes different hand positions during throwing depending on the stage of the clay ware. This picture shows the various hand positions..

Distinct styles of molding evolved over time. Some of the most popular forms of pottery include unglazed pottery, glazed pottery, terracotta and papier-mâché. Unglazed pottery comes in three types namely paper thin pottery, scrafito technique and polished pottery. In Paper thin pottery the pottery is biscuit colored and decorated with incised patterns. In scrafito technique the pot is polished and painted with red and white slips along with intricate patterns. In polished pottery the pottery is strong and deeply incised, and has stylized patterns of arabesques. Glazed pottery contains a white background and has blue and green patterns. Women prepared terracotta clay figures of gods and goddesses during festivals. These are then fired and painted in bright colors. When paper is coarsely mashed and mixed with copper sulphate and rice-flour paste it forms paper pulp. Papier-mâché pottery is made from paper pulp which is given shape using molds. Designs are sketched and polished with bright colors.

Indian pottery has always stood out among other artistic works. It had long been passed on for generations from father to son. But this is now a dying art. Prevalent in only a few part of rural India pottery is now unnoticeably vanishing.

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A Mirror

Hanging long and sleek on a plain wall, the mirror has no hidden secrets. It is something with which one greets oneself in the morning searching far behind what is seen to a wondrous day ahead. Its unmarred speck less surface, unable to give self-sustained definitions shows everything in front of it. This character is so desperate that it never lets go even when shattered. It has eyes unshaken by love or hate. Its unmarred screen has no tendencies to hide. This silvered piece of glass reflects both bad and good oblivious to the feelings of the heart before it. Its sharp edge sometimes does end up cutting across hearts. The childlike innocence reflected in its reflections. This piece of glass serves without expectations.

The mirror’s words ” Believe in what you are.. never try and change for you will end up disappointing yourself.. ” is never heard. Ironically people coat themselves looking through mirrors. The mirror seems to be sticking on to its all-time mount jarring at us to see things as they are.

Sylvia Plath in her poem “The mirror ” describes mirror as the eye of a little god who swallows what it sees, unmisted by like or dislike. She then calls the candle and the moon as liars who hide imperfections.

This ‘ripple less water’ like piece of glass is the ultimate source of surety for the mirror’s images are never blurred. One should learn to clear away the surface of mist from our minds for us to see and accept the actual. It is a wake-up call for day dreamers. Mirror is that piece of glass that ties us with the present pile of truth.

Mirror mirror on the wall,

save us from downfall,

you give us truth as a present,

and help us stay present  in the present..

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The Birth of The Earth

 

The solid surety we feel beneath us was formed nearly 4 billion years ago. The study of geographical records and stars aid us in tracking the birth path of our planet. This perfect ball of life was formed from the gases left after the formation of the sun however it did not have life then. The gravity of the Sun helped to flatten these left over’s into a disk and started to fuse them together. These smaller planet-like disks are called planetesimals and planetoids. These tiny planets combined to form bigger masses. The moon of the earth is a planetoid that managed to be stable. Fusion process led to the formation of heavier elements like carbon which comprised of a major part of young earth.

The earth was molten then. It began to cool down forming crusts. The molten layers that remained became our mantle and the core. The currents of this massive underground ocean of magma caused volcanic activity that released gases. These lead to the creation of the atmosphere and the oceans starting the water cycle. The baby earth then evolved through erosion and plate tectonics.

Another important element, the water, took the play forward after the earth began to cool. Scientist found water inside meteoroids, so they believe that a meteorite shower should have brought this silvery liquid to the earth. Bigger meteorites ended landing deeper forming oceans and seas. It is the oceans and the atmosphere that brought the conditions for life and it is where life first arose.

Origin of life was from the chemical reactions under the extreme conditions of the earth then. Amino acids and nucleobases were formed. These evolved into unicellular organisms. They slowly crawled onto the landforms. The earth then was a lot cooler. These crawlers slowly walked on four and a bit later on two. Now man walks and rules this planet with his finger tip.

The formation of the earth was only the beginning. We still see it changing day by day.

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