Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

MOUNT RAINIER is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range.  It is a large STRATO VOLCANO and is located 87 km southeast of Seattle.

It is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous Us and the Cascade Volcanic Arc, with a summit of 14,411ft.  Mount Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and is on the DECADE VOLCANO LIST.  Because of its large amount of glacial ice, it could potentially produce massive LAHARS (volcanic mud-flows)that could threaten the entire PUYALLUP River Valley.

Mount Rainier scenery

Mount Rainier was first known as TALOL or TACOMA or TAHOMA by the Native Americans.  One hypothesis of the word origin is that TACOMA means “larger than Mount Baker”.  TA (larger) + KOMA (Mount Baker).  In 1890, the US Board of Geographic Names declared that the mountain would be known as RAINIER.

On clear days it dominates the south-eastern horizon and can be seen from as far as Portland, Oregon and Victoria British Columbia.  But on a cloudy morning, when the cloud-heights are just right, the rising sun can catch the peak from below and cast a long shadow on the underside of the cloud.  This only happens during the fall and winter when the sun rises farther to the south and is in the exact position where Mount Rainier blocks the first rays of morning light.

Mount Rainier lake

With 26 major glaciers and of permanent snowfields, Mount Rainier is the most heavily glaciated peak.  The summit is topped by two volcanic craters, each more than 1,00oft in diameter, with the larger east crater overlapping the west crater.  Geo-thermal heat from the volcano keeps areas of both craters with nearly 3.2km of passages.  A small “crater lake”, about 130 x 30ft in size and 16ft deep, the highest in North America with a surface elevation of 14,203ft, occupies the lowest portion of the west crater below more than 100ft of ice and is accessible only via the caves.

Mt Rainier sunset

The broad top of Mount Rainier contains three named summits.  The highest is called the COLUMBIA CREST, the 2nd summit is POINT SUCCESS and it has a topographic prominence of about 138ft, so it is not considered a separate peak.  The lowest of the 3 summits is LIBERTY CAP, which overlooks Liberty Bridge, the Sunset Amphitheatre and the dramatic Willis Wall.  High on the eastern flank of Mount Rainier is a peak known as LITTLE TAHOMA PEAK, an eroded remnant of the earlier, much higher, Mount Rainier.

Mount Rainier Summit Lake

Mount Rainier is a STRATO VOLCANO and its early volcanic deposits are estimated at more than 840,000 years old.  The early deposits formed a “proto-Rainier” or an “ancestral” cone.  The volcano is highly eroded with glaciers and appears to be made mostly of ANDESITE.  Many years ago, a large chunk of the volcano slid away, and this massive avalanche removed the top of Mount Rainier, bringing its height down to 14,00ft.  Subsequent eruptions of lave and TEPHRA built up the modern “summit cone” until about as recently as 1,000 years ago.

Although Mount Rainier is an a “active volcano”, as of 2010 there was no evidence of an “imminent” eruption.  However, an eruption could be devastating for all areas surrounding the volcano and there could e loss of life and property.
LAHARS  from Mount Rainier pose the most risk to life as about 150,000 people live on top of old LAHAR deposits and such lahars could cause tsunamis capable of producing PYROCLASTIC FLOWS and expelling lava.

Mount Rainier climb

The volcanic risk is somewhat mitigated by “lahar-warning signs”  and “escape route signs” in Pierce County.  5-10 “shallow” earthquakes, over 2-3 days, take place from time to time, in the region of 13,000ft below the summit., and are thought to be caused by the circulation of hot fluids beneath Mount Rainier.  SEISMIC SWARMS are common features at volcanoes and are rarely associated with eruptive activity.  A 2009 “swarm” produced the largest number of events of any swarm at Rainier, since “seismic monitoring” began over 2 decades earlier.  Yet another swarm was observed in 2011.

Mount Rainier climbing routes

Mountain climbing on Mount Rainier is difficult, involving traversing the largest glaciers in the US.  Most climbers require 2-3 days to reach the summit and climbing teams demand experience in glacier travel, self-rescue and wilderness travel.  About 8,000-13,000 people attempt the climb each year.  Mount Rainier is also popular for winter sports —– snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Ascending to 14,410 ft above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an ICON in the Washington landscape.  It is the most glaciated peak spawning 6 major rivers.  Sub-alpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano, while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’ slower slopes.  A LIFETIME OF DISCOVERY AWAITS.

This and That…

(1) The first pop stars are BELKA & STRELKA, because they returned alive from their space mission. (mentioned in a book by Olesya Turkin).  LEIKA was the first canine to be sent into space, but she died.
(2) PM Modi’s fondness for “alliteration” is no secret.  He extolled the virtues of the 3 DS.  He said India has 3 unique DS ——- Democracy, Demographic dividend and Demand.  The 4th D is Discussion on how to expand the pool of skilled workers in the country, how to retain talented teachers, nurses and others, and how to bring back those who have left the country.
(3) We create our own realities.  Energy becomes intent, intent forms a word.  A word shapes an action and an action creates a reality.  CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WISELY.
(4) Most cultures forbid “cursing”, because words are like PSYCHIC ARROWS, they can cause harm.  Our thoughts and actions have a far greater impact on our lives than we know.  Keep your thoughts pure, keep your words positive.
funny oil painting(5) Intelligence is like “underwear”.  It is important that you have it, but not necessary that you show it off.
(6) I am reading a book on ANTIGRAVITY.  It is impossible to put it down. 
(7) Step with care and great tact.  Life’s a great “balancing act”.
(8) When at last you are sure, you’ve been properly PILLED, a few paper forms must be properly FILLED, so that you and your heirs may be properly BILLED.
(9) I changed my password to INCORRECT.  So, whenever I forget what my password is, the computer will say, “YOUR PASSWORD IS INCORRECT”.
(10) I hate people who use big words just to make themselves look PERSPICACIOUS. 
(11) Never break someone’s heart —– they have only 1……… break their bones, because they have 206 of them.
(12) If a turtle doesn’t have a shell ———- is it “homeless’ or “naked” ?
(13) It  takes “patience” to “listen …… it takes “skill” to “pretend you are listening”.
(14) You have “brains” in your “head.  You have “feet” in your “shoes”.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.  You’re on your own and you know what you know.  And you are the guy who’ll decide where you go.
funny dog art(15) Animal Crackers :
(a) What do you call a dinosaur who only eats the most delicious food ?  CONNOISSAUR.
(b) Where do “snails” avoid eating ”  In FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS.
(c) Why did the kangaroo stop drinking coffee ?  HE GOT TOO JUMPY.
(d) What’s a bunny’s favourite music ?  HIP HOP.
(e) How do you find the gender of an ant by throwing it in water ?  If it “sinks”, it is a girl-ant, if it floats ——- BUOYANT.
(16) German Saying :  When 2 dogs fight for a bone, and a third runs off with it, THERE’S A LAWYER AMONG THE DOGS. 
(17) A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so, if one’s life is “cold and bare”, he can blame none but himself.
(18) Valour is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. —— Michel de Montaigne.
(19) Through love, all that is bitter will be sweet
Through love, all that is copper will be gold
Through love, all dregs will become wine
Through love, all pain will be turned to medicine. —— Rumi. 
(20) What do you get when you cross a “lawyer” with “Godfather” ?  ——- AN OFFER YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND.

Falaknuma Palace

Falaknuma palace front view

FALAKNUMA PALACE is one of the finest Palaces in Hyderabad.  It belonged to PAIGAH, Hyderabad State, and it was later owned  by the Nizam of Hyderabad.  It is on a 32-acre area in FALAKNUMA, 5km from Charminar.  It was built by Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra, Prime Minister of Hyderabad and the uncle and brother-in-law of Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan Bahadur.  FALAK – NUMA means “Like the Sky” or “Mirror of the Sky”.

An English architect designed this Palace.  The foundation for the construction was laid by Sir Vicar on 3rd March, 1884.  It took 9 years to complete the construction and furnish the Palace.

Falaknuma Palace

Sir Vicar moved into the GOL BANGLA & ZENANA MAHAL of the FALAKNUMA PALACE in December 1890, and closely monitored the finishing work at the MARDANA portion.  It is made completely with Italian marble and covers an area of 93,971 sq.metres.

The Palace was built  in the shape of a SCORPION with two stings spread out as wings in the north.  The middle part is occupied by the main building and kitchen.  GOL BANGLA, ZENANA MAHAL and the Harem quarters stretch to the south.  The Nawab was an avid traveller, and his influences show in the architecture.  The FALAKNUMA PALACE is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture.  Its stained glass windows throw a spectrum of colour into the rooms.
The FALAKNUMA PALACE was built and furnished at a cost of 40 lakh rupees.  PAIGAH was referred to as a “State within a State”, due to its sheer size, wealth and income.  The Nizam used the Palace as a Royal Guest House, as it had a commanding view of the entire city.

Falaknuma Palace night

The FALAKNUMA fell silent after the 1950s.  The last important guest was the President of India, Rajendra Prasad, in 1951.  The Palace was mostly kept closed since then and underwent a huge restoration after it was given on lease to the Taj Group of Hotels.  The responsibility of the restoration, to its original grandeur, was led by H.H. Princess ESRA JAH, the 1st wife of H. E. H the 8th Nizam of Hyderabad.

Falaknuma palace inside

One of the highlights of the Palace is the State Reception Room, where the ceiling is decorated with frescoes and gilded reliefs. The Ballroom contains a 2-ton manually-operated organ, said to be the only one of its kind in the world.  The palace has 60 lavishly decorated rooms and 22 spacious halls.  It as some of the finest collections of the Nizam’s treasures, including paintings, statues, furniture, manuscripts and books.  The JADE COLLECTION at the Palace is considered to be unique in the world.

The famed Dining Hall can seat 00 guests at its table.  The chairs are made of carved rosewood with green leather upholstery.  the tableware was made of gold and crystal to which fluted music was added.  The length of the table is 108ft and breadth is 5.7ft and height is 2.7ft.

Falaknuma palace dining table

The Palace has a library with a carved walnut roof, a replica of the one at Windsor Castle.  The library had one of the finest collection of the Quran in India.  The ground floor of the Palace housed the living quarters.  A marble staircase leads to the upper floor.  It has carved balustrades, which support marble figurines with candelabra at intervals.

Falaknuma palace interiors

There is a Billiards Room.  Burroughs & Watts from England designed two identical tables, one of which is in Buckingham Palace and the other in the Falaknuma Palace.  On the walls of the landing are many oil paintings and photographs of notable personages.  The Falaknuma Palace also has the largest collection of Venetian Chandeliers, with forty 138-arm Osler Chandeliers in the halls.  The telephone and electrical system was introduced in 1883 by Osler and the Palace has one of the largest electrical switchboard in India.  The Palace was the private property of the Nizam family, and not normally open to the public till 2000.

Falaknuma reception

In 2001, Taj Hotels started renovating and restoring the Palace.  The renovated hotel was opened in November 2010.  The rooms and halls were decorated with ornate furniture, handcrafted tapestries and brocade from France.  The interiors have English and Venetian chandeliers and intricate frescoes, and have outdoor terraces with rare artefacts.  There is also a DURBAR HALL, embellished with intricately carved wooden ceilings, parquet flooring, walnut furniture and handcrafted  mirrors.

It is said that the Nizam used to have enough pearls to pave Piccadilly.   

Take it easy


A Yogi walked around the room bare-footed, wearing his white robe.  He was in stark contrast to his audience, who were all executives from a large corporate.

The Yogi looked at his audience benevolently and then took out a stone from his bag.  He asked his audience how heavy they thought the stone is.  The room rang with answers ranging from 2kgs to 8kgs.  A few people asked to hold the stone before they could answer the question.
The Yogi smiled and said they are all correct as the absolute weight of the stone does not matter.  He said,” If I hold it for a minute, it is weightless.  But if I were to hold it for 10 mins, my hand will ache.  If I held for a day, maybe my hand will go numb.”  He then continued, ” The stress that you have is just like that stone.  Think about it for a short while and nothing will happen.  However, if you cling to it all day long, you will go numb and won’t be bale to do anything.  Remember to put that stone down before you go home.”
Yogi meditating paintingThis Yogi’s word rings true for all of us as well.  Stress may be a fact of life, but being stressed is not.  Stress can not only impact you mentally, but can have an effect on your physical well-being.  Eliminating stress from your life is a matter of choice and the good part is, you get to choose.
Effective management of stress requires balancing between work, rest and exercising.  While we do rest to recover from the fatigue, we forget the importance of exercise.  Being physically active reduces the stress hormones and increases your endorphin levels.  Cycling, running, yoga or a work-out in a gym  ——– just choose your favourite activity and get busy.
Practise relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation.  Consciously and progressively work through your body to tense every muscle for ten seconds and then release.  Take your mind to a nice and happy place.  Think about happy thoughts.
Whenever you get extra tensed, remember ———– THIS TOO SHALL PASS. 
—— William James.


Zutphen streets

ZUTPHEN is a town in the province of GELDERLAND in the Netherlands  It lies some 30km northeast of ARNHEM on the eastern bank of the IJSSEL. at the point where it is joined by the BERKEL.

The name ZUTPHEN , 1st mentioned in the 11th century, appears to mean ZUID –VEEN or in English SOUTH –FEN. Zutphen is also twinned with the English town of Shrewsbury, in the Midlands County of SHROPSHIRE.

Zutphen artistic

It is an historic city, and has existed since Roman times, and received its city rights in 1190, making it one of the oldest “medieval cities” in the Netherlands.  The city was voted as having the best city-centre of the Netherlands in the category of small cities in 2006.  It has an untouched historic city-centre that gives you the feeling of travelling 100s of years back in time.  It is also a “car-free” city.


ZUTPHEN is located in a river valley at the River IJSSEL, a side branch of the Rhine known as NEDERRIJN.  The city lies at the border of the hilly forested VELUWE region and the more flat and agriculture ACHTERHOEK.  The language spoken is Dutch and nearly everyone speaks English and German is widely understood.

Zutphen tower

Inside the city everything is within walking distance.  The railway station is located 200m away from the edge of the old city-centre.  Walking from one side of the city-centre to the other side takes about 20 -30 minutes.  In order to see the city, it is best to cycle. ——— The Dutch Tourist Promotion slogan, TORENSTAD, means TOWER – CITY, which refers to the large number of towers.  The largest is the WALBURGKERK located at the square where the city originated.  It is one of the largest Churches in the country.  Guided tours are available organised by the VVV located opposite the railway station.  These tours will also allow you to visit the visit the medieval “chained library” ————-LIBRIJE ——- here books have been kept secure since the 1600s by chaining them to the desks.


ZUTPHEN is also known as an “alternative city”.  There are multiple “alternative grocery stores”, which offer a variety of “organic food”.  The most important ones are the GIMSEL, located in the LANGEHOFSTRAAT, half away between the WIJNHUISTOREN and the new city hall on the western side of the street, and the COEHOOM, located in the NIEUWSTAD quarter, between the Catholic St. John’s Church (SINT JANSKERK) and the Synagogue.


About 300AD, a Germanic settlement was the 1st permanent town on a complex of low river dunes.  Whereas many such settlements were abandoned in the early Middle Ages, ZUTPHEN on the strategic confluence of IJSSEL & BERKEL stayed, and became a local centre of governance under a Count.  The Normans raided and ravaged it in 882.  Afterwards, a circular fortress was built to protect the “budding” town against Viking attacks.

Chocoladefestival Zutphen

In the 11th century ZUTPHEN was a Royal residence for a number of years :  a PFALZ was built, together with a large CHAPTER CHURCH, the predecessor of the present ST. WALBURGIS.  The Counts of ZUTPHEN acquired a lot of power until the line of Counts became extinct in the 12th century The settlement received town rights between 1191 & 1196.  This allowed it to self-govern and have a judicial court.  Thus, ZUTPHEN became the “mother-town” of several other towns.  It also became part of the HANSEATIC LEAGUE, a group of towns with great wealth and this league was the economic centre in that part of Europe.

De kolensteeg in Zutphen op een zonnige dag.

The largest and oldest Church is ST. WALBURGIS, which originally dates back to the 11th century.  The present Gothic building contains monuments of the former Counts of Zutphen, a 14th century candelabrum, an elaborate copper font (1527) and a monument to the VAN HEECKEREN family (1700).  The Chapter House of the LIBRIJE contains a pre-Reformation library which includes some valuable manuscripts and INCUNABULA.  It is considered one of the only 5 surviving Chained Libraries in Europe. (the other 4 being in England and Italy).


The power of your thoughts

One of the greatest regrets is not fulfilling the potential of your own mind.  It is like spending an entire lifetime craving something, only to realise too late that it was always with you, in a package you didn’t care to open.  Such is the power of the mind.  It holds within it all possibilities you can imagine.  However, you do need to peel the wrapping and get a singular focus of what you intend to do with that fearsome power, once unleashed.

power of thoughts

Life, it seems, does not follow the path of our desires and strategies as mush as that of our intentions and beliefs.  To know and accept what you desire of the future, attracts that same reality to you.  The late Dr. Dyer put it thus, ” You have to just be.  You have to let go.  You have to allow.”  That then unleashes the power of your mind and makes dreams possible.

We have heard instances of people healing themselves or psyching themselves out of a difficult patch.  Diagnosed with leukemia some years ago, Dr. Dyer claimed to have cured himself with the power of mind.  The coroner’s report reinforced there was not a trace of leukemia in his body.
There are reports of patients given a few weeks to live, going on to outlive their doctors by several years through the power of “positive thinking” on their bodies.  In one case of “multiple disorder personality”, a lady’s split personalities displayed different health symptoms.  One part of the alter ego was “diabetic” while the other was not.  The patient’s blood sugar levels climbed up or down along with her alter-ego change.
Dr. Bruce Lipton, development biologist, explains the “phenomena”.  He says that with the help of our beliefs, we can manipulate the way cells read our genes and DNA.  The mind’s function to create coherence between beliefs and reality.  If you believe something positive or negative, the mind creates that reality for you.  The boy has reserve cells that will replace or heal anything that our attention is focused on.  And so, a negative belief can hurt or kill as much as a positive emotion can heal and revive.
Medical research has shown that two-thirds of all healing is done through the “Placebo effect”  ——- mind and belief of the patient determines response to treatment rather than the actual medicine or surgery.
Interestingly, many people do not realise that “the mind can only think thoughts we allow it to”.  Thoughts are a powerful tool that travel within to our subconscious levels and influence our behaviour.  But, they also travel to the Universe and determine not just the behaviour of others towards us, but also the events that transpire.
If this is the strength of thinking, imagine the power we retain if we can direct our own thoughts and mind !!  The real challenge lies in unravelling the gift of the mind and then harnessing the force thus unleashed.  Try this.  When upset or depressed, identify the cause and tell your mind to put off thinking about the issue for some time.  Meanwhile, indulge in happy thoughts in a disciplined manner, rooting out negativity from your mind.  By the time you get to refocus on your problem, your mind will be a happier place, and the issue, less threatening.
Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu’s four basic virtues ——– reverence for all  of life, natural sincerity, gentleness and supportiveness —– are the best way to ensure that our mind bridges the gap between our thoughts and reality.

The God of all things

As GANESH CHATURTHI comes up, let us look into the many fascinating stories surrounding the Elephant-Headed God.
GANESH is among the Gods we know the most stories of —– and yet, the one we understand so little about.  GANESHA has so much to teach us.  What is the significance of Ganesha’s Symbol?  Why is an elephant head placed on Ganesha shoulders?  This is because only a rich, fertile eco-system can sustain an elephant.  So, the elephant’s head is a symbol of prosperity.  GaneshaGanesha’s rather rotund body represents not only affluence, but also repose —- in other words, success without too much work.  The rat that Ganesha rides symbolises the pestilence of problems in our lives that he keeps in check.  It is also a symbol of fertility.  The MODAK’S shape is like that of a money purse and its contents represent the sweetness of material pleasures.  At the same time, the triangular form (upward facing) is a symbol of spirituality.
Why is Ganesh’s name chanted before beginning any new endeavours ?  Before the Gods began churning the ocean of milk for AMRIT, they forgot to propitiate Ganesha. To teach them a lesson, Ganesha caused the serpent king Vasuki (which they were using as the churning rope) to vomit out venom.  Choking on the poison, the Gods called out to Ganesha to remove this obstacle to their success.  Pleased, Ganesha asked his father Shiva to drink the poison, thus clearing the air and enabling the Gods to restart churning till the AMRIT emerged.  Ever since, Ganesha’s blessing is always sought before any new task.
In his book 99 Thoughts On Ganesha, Pattanaik explains how our ancestors’ ideas of the “perfect life” are reflected in Ganesha’s unique physiology: “Our ancestors concluded that there are two ways to live life —– as a hermit who steps back and contemplates on the nature of the world and as a householder, who stays in the world and experiences it fearlessly.  They visualised the hermit as SHIVA……. and the householder as SHAKTI.  Shiva does not want to be a father and deal with the trials and tribulations of a worldly life.  Shakti wants to be a mother and engage with all things worldly, and she cannot do so without Shiva’s support.  From this tension between the hermit and the householder, is born GANESHA —– his animal head representing material joys and his human body representing spiritual bliss”.
For Ganesha’s “broken tusk”  too, there are several explanations.  The “tusks” of an elephant symbolises power and aggression.  The “broken tusk” implies that the elephant has been tamed.  The most popular story  about the purpose of the broken tusk is that Ganesha used it as a replacement for his quill while writing down the Mahabharata for Sage Vyas.
——————–  Rohini Nair.