These guys are great:
I am fascinated by all things Indian. A few days ago The New York Times published an obituary for Indian bodybuilder Manohar Aich, who died at the age of 103.
Manohar Aich, was only 4 feet 11 inches tall. A fact that earned him the nickname of “Pocket Hercules.”
I was struck by the similarities between the story of Manohar Aich and the life of Joseph L. Greenstein, a strong man know as the Mighty Atom. Years ago, my brother had given me a biography of Greenstein, which I highly recommend. Greenstein was only 5 feet 4 inches tall and he was the inspiration for the golden age comic book superhero “the Atom.”
Today’s Google Doodle reminds me that today is the birthday of the incomparable Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar:
‘Today we celebrate Pandit Ravi Shankar, who was born 96 years ago today. Shankar evangelized the use of Indian instruments in Western music, introducing the atmospheric hum of the sitar to audiences worldwide. He performed frequently with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and composed a concerto with sitar for the London Symphony Orchestra. Shankar also taught George Harrison of the Beatles how to play the sitar, and widely influenced popular music in the 1960s and 70s.
Shankar’s music popularized the fundamentals of Indian music, including raga, a melodic form. Raga, as Shankar explained, has “its own peculiar ascending and descending movement consisting of either a full seven-note octave, or a series of six or five notes in a rising or falling structure.” The distinctive character of Shankar’s compositions attracted the attention of composer Philip Glass, with whom Shankar wrote the 1990 album Passages.’
Here is some amazing footage of his performance at Woodstock.
As a confirmed Indiaphile, I was fascinated by the possibility that Indian born Sri Srinivasan might be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. The New York Times ran this wonderful story about Sri Srinivasan’s home town, Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram:
“A bare-chested priest sat cross-legged in the temple of this farming village on a recent morning and recited all 1,008 names of Vishnu, the Hindu god, in the hope of soon receiving good news. A junior priest sprinkled the idol, known as Balaji, with shredded tulsi leaves and rose-water. The subject of their prayers was Sri Srinivasan, an Indian-born judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia who is rumored to be a top contender for to nominate to the Supreme Court.”
As we now know Vishnu did not come through. However, the article is still very much worth reading. Some of it is memory relevant:
“Neighbors say Judge Srinivasan’s grandfather, Padmanabhan Iyer, was neither rich nor powerful, but his ability to commit scriptures to memory made him an object of awe: He was capable of chanting mantras for two hours without as much as glancing at a text.”
But the very best part of the article is the correction section. As paper of record the Times did not fail to confess:
“An earlier version of this article misspelled in one instance the name of a village in India where the family of Sri Srinivasan once lived. The village is Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram, not Mela Thiruvenkanathapuram.”