Srinivasa Ramanujan: A Life in Infinity

Opened in 1901, the Victoria Students Hostel in Triplicane, Chennai, is an Indo-Saracenic structure designed in the style of residences at Oxford and Cambridge by Henry Irwin, Consulting Architect for the Madras Presidency. It was built in memory of Pundi Runganadha Mudaliar, Professor of Mathematics at Presidency College, who had died at the age of 45. The hostel housed students of Presidency College, and nearby colleges including the College of Engineering. Continue reading “Srinivasa Ramanujan: A Life in Infinity”

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Forgotten musicians: Mysore B.S. Raja Iyengar

My earliest recollection of listening to a music concert was sometime in 1966 or 1967. I was about five or six years old. The occasion was the inauguration of a temple built by FACT, which was set up in 1943 and is the oldest fertilizer company in India. My father was there on deputation for a second term, this time to set up the Ambalamedu Division of the company, near Kochi. When the land was acquired, one or two villages were displaced, which became the subject of a famous short story, Sakshi, by T. Padmanabhan, celebrated Malayalam celebrated short story writer, who wrote the story after six years of enigmatic silence. Continue reading “Forgotten musicians: Mysore B.S. Raja Iyengar”

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A Case of Two Lullabies

This article was first published in Business Standard on 16 March 2013. It is a comment on the controversy around the lullaby in the film Life of Pi. It was alleged that the lullaby was plagiarised from a 200-years old lullaby in Malayalam, composed by Irayimman Thampi in 1813 on the occasion of the birth of his nephew, Swati Tirunal, already anointed the ruler of Travancore. The original lullaby continues to be very popular even today in the State of Kerala, India, where Malayalam is spoken. Continue reading “A Case of Two Lullabies”

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The Victoria Students Hostel

“In great cities, the great buildings tell you things you don’t know and remember things which you’ve forgotten. It’s a collective wisdom, an engine superior to your own intelligence. Architecture is the biggest unwritten document of history.”

—Daniel Libeskind, We mustn’t forget the deep emotional impact of the buildings around us – Special to CNN – 7/1/2015

“One century’s building is another century’s useful aberration.”

— Jane Jacobs, The Life and Death of Great American Cities

When great cities forget their great buildings, it evokes images of falling giant trees, burning libraries, blue whale victims losing their grips over ledges, abandoned parents, distant wails of unborn children, and wasted memories. A visit to the Victoria Students Hostel was one such experience, aberrations from the past. Continue reading “The Victoria Students Hostel”

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Menon and Menon

Against the background of two recent biographies, of V.K. Krishna Menon, by Jairam Ramesh (A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon, Penguin, 2019) and of V.P. Menon by Narayani Basu, I wrote an article in OPEN magazine titled “A Tale of Two Menons”. You can read it at the link below. Continue reading “Menon and Menon”

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