Saturday, February 24, 2007

Planet Earth

When I saw billboards on the TV series Planet Earth from Discovery India across Bangalore weeks back, I guessed something big was coming. It has been four weeks since the series started and it has turned out to be one of the best I have ever watched.

To quote the web site: "Planet Earth is the first natural history series to be filmed entirely in high definition, providing an unparalleled view of awe-inspiring landscapes from across the globe and incredible footage of the rarely spotted, almost mythical creatures that live in these habitats. This is Planet Earth. Come, discover a new Planet."

It is indeed true to the words above! Aerial photography, time-lapse photography spanning seasons (with a panning camera!), never before seen locations and creatures (e.g., migrating birds flying over Mount Everest) make this unique and a pleasure to watch.

Show timings in India:

Thursday nights 8 pm (the most advertised-about slot)
Friday early morning 2 am
Friday morning 9 am
Saturday evening 6 pm
Saturday night 11 pm
Sunday morning 9 am
Sunday afternoon 2 pm
Monday afternoon 3 pm

Saturday, February 03, 2007

La Poste, India Post, and Some Missing Shirts

Will foreign parcels sent to India be ripped apart and items stolen? Read along to find my experience.

I had accumulated several books by the time I was about to return to India from France after a three month stay. La Poste, the French postal service, had a mechanism called Colissimo which allowed me to pack my stuff in a standardized box and send to foreign destinations. The largest box could carry up to 7 kgs. La Poste charged 36 euros per box for delivery to India. This seemed to be a good option for a returning student who needed to send valuable books which cannot be carried along due to airline baggage weight restrictions.

I got four boxes and sent them during the last week of December 2006 from Paris to Bangalore. The first three carried books and documents and the last one carried some clothes. Colissimo tracking web site indicated that the baggages were within the Indian territory customs by the second week of January 2007. Beyond this point, tracking was not available.

I learnt from the local delivery post office that apparently foreign posts end up in a foreign post office. (In Bangalore the FPO is located in Museum Road.) Upon inquiries during January second week the FPO informed me that they have not received the parcels yet. After several inquiries and follow-up, I got the last three parcels delivered in the third week of January and the very first parcel in last week of January almost a month after posting. The FPO was not very clear in explaining the work-flow involving customs once a foreign parcel reaches Indian territory.

The cardboard box parcels were covered with dust and dirt, their sides opened, and tied with jute threads, and sealed. Upon opening, I found out that all the plastic bags within which I had packed the books were partly opened perhaps to see the contents. Fortunately, no books or documents were missing. However, I was shocked when I opened the box carrying clothes. All the plastic covers used to pack were missing and clothes were almost strewn around the box. To add to my disgust, two formal full sleeve shirts and a T-shirt (which carried my B-school logo) were missing. Incidentally, these were the only shirts within the box which were in a shrink wrap cover put by a dry cleaner which might have incorrectly signaled that they are perhaps new.

My hypothesis about the missing shirts is that they were likely stolen by the personnel who inspected the box: perhaps customs, perhaps India Post. If the hypothesis is true (which I would never know), it's quite bad and reflects badly on the professional image these organizations are trying to build in the recent years.

Jim Gray Missing Mystery

It has been over five days since Microsoft researcher Jim Gray has been missing. The US Coast Guard has ended their search operations. There are other search efforts on using satellite imagery.

I asked a friend of mine who is a hobbyist vedic astrologer (not a professional) whether he could offer any clues to the mystery. By using the principles of vedic horary astrology (prasna marga), he made the following predictions yesterday night (2 February 2007, 16:30 GMT):

  • He is alive.
  • He is at a place where land and water meet (perhaps a shore or an island).
  • He is at a place north of where he started from.
  • He will return within 2 or 3 days, that is by February 4th or 5th.
  • He is likely to be with a known lady friend or relative.
I should note here that my friend had never heard of this researcher before and I never told him the circumstances in which he went missing. The only information I conveyed was that a US researcher has been missing since nearly 4 days and that I wanted to know about the chances of his return.

I hope Jim Gray is found soon alive. The search efforts must continue.

For the benefit of the students of horary astrology, I have given below the chart which was set for my question. The planetary longitudes are as per N. C. Lahiri's Indian Ephemeris for 2007. The ascendant (or lagna) was set based on an arbitrary number I said.

The predictions are based on the following observations:

The horary Lagna (Ascendant) Lord Jupiter is in the 12th or the house of loss. The person is alive because the planet concerned (Jupiter) is not afflicted. Further the Lagna Lord Jupiter occupies the 12th house whose Lord Mars occupies Lagna forming a parvartana yoga (exchange of houses). Chandra (Moon) Lagna Kataka (Cancer) is occupied by Chandra in own house with Saturn. These indicate safety and fixity.

Lagna Lord is in a female sign. Hence the missing person is likely to be with a lady friend or a relative.

He must have gone to a watery place or a place which is part land and part water because the Lagna lord is in a watery sign Scorpio (Vrischika).

The Lagna Lord occupies Scorpio which indicates northern direction.

The likely date for his return is based on the lunar transit into Simha (Leo) from Kataka (Cancer).