Sunday, March 22, 2009

Indian Sarsaparilla to cool Head!

At summer when the afternoons are hot with bright light, an ice cold drink made with herbal syrup and lime is the favorite here in Tamil Nadu, South India, for quenching thirst. The cool drink mentioned here cools your head and the brain as you take it resting under a shadow! The main ingredient in it is the extract from the herb, Indian Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus indica, ‘Nannari’ in Tamil). We identify this herb here in coconut groves, hilly regions where they grow by themselves; it has long and pointed leaves with white striations, and it is a type of creeper. If you uproot it and smell the root you can confirm it: it has a sweet and pleasant smell!
In this modern day of selling newer and the newest cool drinks, this tasty syrup using the wonder herb is being still preferred among all the other syrups available!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jewel Beetles to charm you!

When I was a kid, a pair of pet insects was presented to me by my elders to be brought up! They had dark green and shiny – iridescent wings reflecting light like Compact Discs. The female had creamy white triangular tail end that bore egg that waited there to be laid. They didn’t try to fly away but rather moved slowly inside the pet box here and there, silently. These are the Jewel Beetles (Chrysochora species, ‘Ponvandu ’ in Tamil). My elders had told me that if I fed them with the leaves of Acacia tree, they would lay eggs, which hatch then into tiny insects. As they told the insects laid creamy, rubbery cute eggs! While I was waiting then to see the hatchlings, one day morning I found all the eggs to bear a hole on them with nothing inside; ants had found them to be delicious!

In the Nature these Jewel beetles are found here in South India in the monsoon month, October. At this time the Acacia trees are abound with them. They are wood borers. Another special kind of this beetle that is larger, and that has round and golden iridescent spots on the wings, lives on white Acacia trees. We call it as ‘Raja Ponvandu ’ – meaning ‘the king among the Jewel beetles’!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Beat Frequency Oscillator gave license!

In 1980s, I used to listen to the conversations of Amateur Radio Operators (HAMs) as a Short Wave Listener (
SWL), after tuning in 40 meters band of my transistor radio receiver. While I was able to hear most of the operators, I could not get the voices of some which were heard only as an unintelligible squabble! Later I was informed by an operator that it is a type of radio transmission called Single Side Band (SSB) and that many HAMs can be accommodated in the band by using it. He also gave me an idea to hear that SSB transmission also by using another pocket short wave band transistor radio near that main radio. It worked well and used it with wonder. Next, the operator gave me a circuit diagram for assembling a special device for that. The device’s name is Beat Frequency Oscillator (BFO). I assembled the BFO myself, though in a crude form! With this BFO wonder, I listened to HAMs, and it paved the way for me to take up the examination for getting the Amateur Radio Operator’s License and pass in it!
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