About: The story of the world this week-fascinating, with many firsts.


Smoke in my Eyes

Some news refuses to vacate the front page headlines-hogs it-and the Myanmar saga is one. This week 38 people protesting the military coup were killed and the retaliation against the pro-democracy demonstrators is becoming more brutal and deadly, with every new day of the strife. More than 50 people have died, and many wounded, since the coup began.

Where does Myanmar go from here? There was another thought channel-and I think it made sense-which believes that the ‘Aung San Suu Kyi Moment’ has passed, and Myanmar needs the next crop of leaders to step-in and make radical changes, especially in the Constitution. But then, clearing the military minefield would be the biggest challenge.

The World has been ‘shot and wounded’ by the incidents in Myanmar and should apply more pressure on the Military Junta to release leaders, hand over power to the people-elected Government-like it or not-and step behind. And watch from the shadows of their barracks.

The Pope in Iraq and the Rivers of Babylon.

Iraq is a war-torn country and healing is required in every dimension. It is also a land steeped in ancient biblical history. With this in mind perhaps Pope Francis decided to make a first-ever papal visit to Iraq, this week, and the first overseas visit by the Pope, since the pandemic caged all of us.

His Holiness was invited by President Barham Salih in 2019 and when it actually happened was received at the Baghdad Airport by Prime Minister Kadhimi.

On landing in Iraq, the 84 years old Pontiff said he comes as a pilgrim of peace and called for an end to acts of violence and extremism, factions and intolerance.

Babylon, in Iraq, is the birthplace of Abraham, patriarch of the Jews, Christians and Muslims: it has been the dream of every Pope to make a visit. Pope Francis should be realising this dream.

Remember the Music Group, Boney M’s famous song, ‘Rivers of Babylon’, which lyrics are adapted from the Hebrew Bible and has a history stretching back to thousands of years. It’s about a time when Jerusalem has been conquered, the Temple destroyed and Israelites exiled in Babylon. They weep and mourn their fate sitting on the banks of the River Tigris and Euphrates remembering Zion- Jerusalem. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? The Pope will surely find answers.

The visit will also be the first meeting in history between the head of the Catholic Church and the head of the Shia Islamic Establishment-the Hawza-now led by the 90 years old Grand Ayatollah Ali-al Sistani, one of the most influential religious authorities in the Muslim World. They met in the holy city of Najaf and probably exchanged ‘religious views’.

Great minds are at work: hope peace and progress of humanity occupies the largest space.

Roaming on Mars

America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Perseverance Rover which successfully touched down on Mars, on 18th February, at the Jezero Crater took its first drive this week, traveling about 21 feet and doing a little spin across the Crater. NASA says that it all went ‘incredibly well’. Once the mission begins exploring Mars, in a more ‘whole-hearted manner’, it will go on drives averaging about 656 feet or more.

Meanwhile, Perseverance has been soaking itself in the Martian weather hoping to get a Martian tan: it deployed wind sensors to set up its own weather station, flexed its robotic arm-carrying a muscle of instruments-and even received a software update. And has sent about 7,000 images back to Earth.

Wow, the Rover seems to be enjoying the holidays! I’m still waiting for the Ingenuity helicopter to be dropped so that it can start preparing for its own test flights. Lots to look up to!

Chicks of the Old

A Laysan Albatross named Wisdom, regarded as the oldest know wild bird in history, aged at least 70, has hatched another chick in the Midway Wildlife Refuge-home for the largest colony of Albatrosses in the World-in the North Pacific Ocean. Though the chick was hatched in February it was only this week that it was reported.

Albatrosses mate for life, rarely cheating on their partners, during a normal life span of about 40 years. Wisdom having lived up to 70 must have outlived mates, and picked up new partners, probably through ‘dance parties’, which is an elaborate pair-selection ritual in the Albatross clan. Her present long-term, steady companion, since 2010 is a guy called Akeakamai-the father of the new chick-with whom Wisdom shares incubation duties and chick feeding duties, while she forages for food-a part of the Albatross culture.

Typically, Albatrosses hatch eggs every few years and Wisdom must have brought about 35 chicks into the World.

Laysan Albatrosses are large sea-birds with wingspans of about 2 metres. They are spectacular gliders, able to stay aloft in windy weather for hours without ever flapping their extremely long narrow wings. They drink seawater and feed on squid, fish, and crustaceans. Like most seabirds Albatrosses breed on land where they appear clumsy compared to their majestic, soaring flights in the air.

In the Bird World, only parrots, especially cockatoos, are known to live beyond 70 years and into the hundreds. Most animals are productive right up to old age, and this Albatross is indeed a magnificent old bird.


The fourth test match between India and England in underway at the ‘freshly named’ Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad, India, and England is finding the going awfully tough. Call it a name swing.

Vaccination Tracking, COVID-19.

More than 291 million doses have been administered across 111 countries at about 7.23 million doses per day.

Israel is continuing to lead the vaccination marathon with 95 doses given per 100 people; about 54.2% of the population has received at least one shot, and 40.4% are fully vaccinated. The United States (US) has given 26 doses per 100 people, while the United Kingdom has done 34 doses per 100.

India has given about 1.80 crore vaccine doses till date, at 1.4 doses per 100, with only 0.2% fully vaccinated. India needs to scale-up, quickly.

With the rollout of the second phase of the vaccination drive, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took his first dose of a made-in-India COVID-19 Vaccine, Covaxin, at the, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, early this Monday and appealed to Indians to get themselves inoculated. Setting an example is the finest point in leadership and this should give the much-needed momentum to Vaccinating India.

Please Yourself: The Oscars

I’ve always been fascinated by the Oscars, the Red Carpet dresses-often leaving so much to the wildest possible imagination with haunting colour, sparkle, ‘transparency’, revealing hidden treasures, and unbelievable curves-a reflection of the fantasy of movie making. And the fantastic stories, song, music, and sheer brilliance of make-believe. Along with watching movies nothing compares to sitting back and watching the best movies of the year gone by and living the creative world of man’s mind.

This year, in the list of 366 movies, released by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences eligible for consideration at the 93rd Oscars, in various categories, three Indian Films have earned a place. One is, ‘Mmmmm’ (Sound of Pain), a film in the Kurumba language spoken by the tribal community in Attapadi, Kerala’s Palakkad District, South India. The film tells the story of a person from the Kurumba Tribe, who ekes out a living by collecting honey, and trials and tribulations in making his life ‘honey sweet’.

The second is, Tamil movie ‘Soorarai Pottru’ (hail the brave) which is a fictionalised true-story based on the start of India’s first low-cost airline-the struggle to lift and fly the common man. The theme being, everybody can afford to fly!

The third is ‘Bittu’ shortlisted in the Live Action Short Film category, which is set in rural India and revolves around the close friendship between two little girls, eclipsed by an accident of food poisoning at School.

Indian movies have not it made to holding the golden statues at the prestigious Oscars-though many Indian Artists and Actors have-and the only films that came close to being nominated are, Mother India (1957), Salaam Bombay (1988), and Lagaan(2001). India should get its act together. And it has fabulous stories to tell!

The voting will start on 5th March, and the official nominations will be announced on 15th March.

More golden stories, with ‘lots of span’, coming up next week.