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Friday, June 4, 2010

Edition 20: Variety

A Town Named Mahatma Gandhi, In US
A part of southwest Houston, Texas, home to a large number of South Asians, including Indians, has been officially renamed Mahatma Gandhi district to honour the leader on his 141st birth year.
An ethnic conclave, Hillcroft was renamed this month, fulfilling the seven-year long demand of over 100,000 strong Indian-American population living in the Greater Houston area.
City Mayor Annise Parker announced the change of name along with Consul General of India in Houston, Sanjiv Arora.
Officials of the India Culture Centre have been working relentlessly for renaming the area that is popularly known as "Little India" due to the high concentration of south Asian shops and restaurants.
"Persistence alone paid off in the end as it was just getting no where, till the culture center and business leaders settled for adding the signs designating it a district, a USD 10,000 expense," India Culture Centre Spokesperson Manisha Mehta said.
Renaming the Hillcroft area required 75 per cent of commercial property owners on a street to sign a petition in its support, according to the municipal law. Only then the City Council can consider the change of the name.
But Indians earlier failed to gather required number of signs as it was difficult to agree the non-south Asians there.
The project was proposed during the tenure of former Mayor Bill White as the Indian Culture Centre and Indian merchants in the area wanted to rename Hillcroft Avenue to Mahatma Gandhi Avenue.
It was a moment of joy for the Indian-Americans in Houston as the change in name brings a feeling of recognition and they hope renaming the area would attract more tourists.

You Can Disco On Shikara Now
The Shikaras (Kashmiri gondolas) and houseboats have been the main attraction in the picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar, a beauteous town set amidst snow-capped mountains, pine forest and verdant meadows of Kashmir Valley.
With an increase in tourists' inflow, houseboat owners are introducing various new facilities to woo tourists and make them prolong their stay here. They provide quality food, good transport, and comfortable accommodation.
To make tourists' stay in the Kashmir valley more enjoyable and fun-filled, some local houseboat owners on Dal Lake have started holding dance parties.
This year, some houseboat-owners have even chosen to entertain tourists with 'DJ nights'.
Local people say that it's a revival of an old local tradition as per which the tourists would dance to various forms of music, including Kashmiri, played on houseboats till two decades ago.
"Such scenes were a routine, when foreign tourists used to visit here before 1989, when the situation was normal. Now, when the normalcy is returning, we have made a small attempt to keep the traditions alive," said Tariq Ahmad, a houseboat owner.ourists are delighted with the new feature of enjoyment.
"It hardly matters whether you are staying at a five-star hotel or a three-star but it's really different when you are on a houseboat...DJ nights on shikaras (Kashmiri gondolas) and's really different," said Chetan Mehta, a tourist from Mumbai.
The houseboats are aimed at providing wholesome entertainment to tourists.

Tipu’s Sword Still Shines…In Auction
Tipu Sultan's 200 year old majestic sword has fetched a record price of 505,250 pounds at an auction at Sotheby's, ten times its estimated price.
The sword was estimated to fetch 50,000 to 70,000 pounds. In 2003, the 200-year-old sword was bought with much fanfare by liquor baron Vijay Mallya. It has now been sold for a record price.

Sotheby's described the item as, "A Very Rare Sword with Tiger-Form Hilt, from the Palace Armoury of Tipu Sultan, India, circa 1782-99, with 19th century silver-mounted Scabbard".

Sotheby's said there were a very small number of sword hilts, such as Tipu Sultan's auctioned sword, which have a pronounced tiger theme that was a mark of Tipu's ownership.

Another highlight of the auction was a rare Indian bronze cannon cast at the Mysore king's royal foundry.

This artefact from around 1790 AD was bought by an anonymous buyer at 313,250 pounds.

The Tipu Sultan collection, comprising of seven lots, included weaponry and other rarities captured after the British stormed the erstwhile ruler of Mysore's palace in Srirangapatnam in May 1799.

An applique and gilt metal-thread embroidered shamiana, from the cloth of gold suite of fabric used by Tipu Sultan in the royal toshkhana, which was estimated to sell for 30,000 to 40,000 pounds went for 21,250.

The auction fetched 15.4 million pounds, compared to the 1.2 million pounds earned at the first part of the Tipu Sultan auction in 2005.

Even Dollar Has Makeover Now

The folks who print America's money have designed a high-tech makeover of the USD 100 bill. It's part of an effort to stay ahead of counterfeiters as technology becomes more sophisticated and more dollars flow overseas, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says.

The makeover, unveiled on Wednesday by Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, may leave people wondering if there's magic involved. Benjamin Franklin is still on the C-note.

But he has been joined by a disappearing Liberty Bell in an inkwell and a bright blue security ribbon composed of thousands of tiny lenses that magnify objects in mysterious ways.

Move the bill, and the objects move in a different direction.The new currency will not go into circulation until 10th February next year. That will give the government time to educate the public in the United States and around the world about the changes.

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