Spotting a Suvega Moped or a Motobécane Mobylette

Today morning while walking around in an area which I do not frequent too often, I came across some old two wheelers – motorbikes, scooters, and a moped – rusting away.  The motorbikes, scooter and scooterettes were not of much interest, as they were of fairly recent models.  They all were made during the last 20 years or so, and abandoned as their owners probably upgraded after running them down.

But what caught my attention was the old Suvega moped, the first ever moped to be manufactured in India.  From around 1965 or so till the late 80s, the Indian Suvega, the original of which is the licenced model of the popular Motobécane Mobylette of France, ruled the roost.  I rode my first every motorized two wheeler on one such Suvega in the early 80s.

And an experience never to forget.  The unique feature of those old mopeds was that you had to pedal them like a bicycle to get them started – there was no kick starter. One hot summer day, around 2 kilometres from my home, the Suvega I had gone on a joyride broke down and refused to start.  One very advertised advantage – not actually one, but probably would be of use in those days – of the Mobylette-Suvega was that you can flip a lever / remove a nut in its main drive chain, disconnect the engine and just pedal it like bicycle (being so long ago, don’t exactly remember it, but the approximate location is marked with a circle and an arrow near the pedal).

It was not true, as without a true flywheel and gear arrangement, it could not be driven as easily as a bicycle.  The intention was to flip the lever and make the Mobylette-Suvega easy to push around.  But believing that it can be pedal-driven like a bicycle, it was a huffing, puffing, sweaty, almost a breakdown incident, in that hot summer.

Not easily forgotten.  But the Mobylette-Suvega was one of the most robust, trusted moped even on Indian roads.  Till it folded down, the Mobylette-Suvega, with just a 49cc engine, used to dominate the under 50cc races at the Sholavaram race track. The advent of the TVS-50, especially the later 80s model with kick start put paid to Mobylette-Suvega in Indian roads.  But nice to see one around – that too with the round plastic holder near the front wheel where the road tax copy used to be placed (marked with a yellow circle) almost intact.

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Rajkumar 88th birthday Doodle

Of late, Google has really gone crazy.  For one, my Legacy GSuite is locked up, refusing me access to open and modify, recode the Google Forms, Docs, and Sheets to distribute public information.  Then there are complaints on G+ that there are quirks, and posts and streams do not appear or randomly disappear.  Google, is dragging its arse, if not doing its job – in a way they have become worse than Microsoft.

But the cream of the cake was yesterday’s Doodle.  In ‘honour’ of Kannada language movie star Rajkumar of yesteryears.  That too why? Not for his centenary of birth or death or other such milestone, but on his 88th Birth Anniversary.  Of all the things one could have doodled about, Rajkumar’s 88th birth anniversary is important enough for a Doodle? 

Though the reverence for the veteran actor is such in his home state Karnataka, which saw a situation of near political turmoil when Rajkumar was abducted by sandal smuggler, Veerappan in 2000, who was trying to negotiate the release of some of his men apprehended by authorities, is to be respected, does it deserve a doodle? Rajkumar was released after 108 days.

A Doodle on his 100th birth anniversary is understandable, but on his 88th birthday?  So what are they going to do on his 89th or 90th birthday? Wind up Google?

To my mind, one thing was missing – that of the above referenced Veerappan, who terrorized Karnataka and Tamil Nadu border reserve forests for close to 10 years and held Rajkumar hostage for more than 3 months.  So I put him in the doodle.

Have fun.  Enjoy the modified doodle, or if you think that the doodle was appropriate, put up your own doodle.

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Chitrai Amavasya Tharpana Sankalpam

As recounted in an earlier post, some health issues kept me off for the last six months or so from blogging regularly.  Thankfully, some recovery is on, though not in full, and which allows me to once more try to rebuild the blog in this new Tamil Year of Hevilambi.  In the process I have managed to revive the customized Tharpana Sankalpam for the Chitrai month Amavasya day of day-after (26 Apr 2017), and also the commencing of Vaikasi month on 14/15th of May.

Note that the Bodhayana Amavasya is on Tuesday 25 Apr and not on 26 Apr.  As earlier, an email would be sent with the copy of PDF file.

Here is a screenshot of the test file.  As usual, the GForm can be accessed from Download page (sl. 2).  We are correcting the rest of the downloads, please give us time.

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Asteroid 2014 JO25 ‘The Rock’ safely passes Earth

The big asteroid that safely swept past Earth on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, night India time, is larger than expected as per the astronomers. The asteroid safely passed the Blue Marble at some 1,768,239 km (1,098,733 miles) distance or about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon. The asteroid 2014 JO25 has been nicknamed ‘the rock’.

Astronomers with the aid of the powerful radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico,were able to ping asteroid 2014 JO25 to obtain radar images of the approaching space rock.  They found 2014 JO25 is a contact binary asteroid - two space rocks that were originally separate bodies - and each segment is about 640 meters and 670 meters (2100 to 2200 feet) to total 1.3 km approximately.  It also spins around every 3.5 hours.

The 2017 flyby is the closest by an asteroid this large since the encounter by 4179 Toutatis at 4 lunar distances in September 2004. The next known flyby by an object of comparable size will be the 800-meter-diameter asteroid 1999 AN10 approach within one lunar distance in August 2027.

So why is the asteroid 2014 JO25 nicknamed ‘the rock’?  The straight obvious connection is with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.  But the real reason is that initially, the asteroid was described as the size of the Rock of Gibraltar. So the rock nickname stuck.  Shame since this asteroid has not come this close to earth in 400 years and will not do so until 2500 CE.

Last time we had an asteroid near miss was on 15 February 2013, when the much much smaller, 30 meter diameter 2012 DA14 whizzed by at just 30,000 km distance from earth.  Google initially released a Doodle, but withdrew it when a meteorite stuck in Russia and caused causalities on the same day.  Since there has been no such misfortune yesterday (or today), here is the Doodle, modified of course by me, for your fun.

Have a safe upcoming weekend.

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Happy Tamil New Year and Vishu 2017 with a Doodle

Today, 14 April 2017 is the Tamil New Year called Puthandu (புத்தாண்டு) in Tamil and also the New Year for the people of Kerala called Vishu.  The people of Punjab also celebrate their New Year on this day as Vaishaki, while the people of Bengal did it one day earlier, as Pohela Boishak.

So ends the past Tamil year of Durmukhi, literally meaning ‘Bad Face’, and it proved in combination with 2016 to be so.  Health of my mother and my own suffered during the period.  The 70 weeks or so commencing in the aftermath of Chennai Floods have been really terrible.  In this period I saw/heard of the passing away of at least 75 odd people – friends, associates, casual acquaintances, and almost strangers – including some half-dozen relatives.  Another 100 odd people have suffered inexplicable health issues. Thus was the sufferings during the past Tamil New Year.

So today, with this fresh start on Tamil New Year and Vishu 2017 may the Gods bless us with health, peace, joy and wealth.  As usual Google has not made up a Doodle for the Tamil New Year or Vishu 2017.  So here a made up Doodle for the occasion.  It is the modified version of the 2017 Nowruz Doodle from Google.  I have added more tulips, neem flowers, and the mango leaves.

May the gods bless us with plenty this new year.

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The Crow and the DTH

The relationship between the pigeons and the statues is well known.  In fact, whenever I see statutes of leaders, which are like daffodils in spring in Madras, now Chennai, I feel both grief and glee.  Grieve to see the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, with a fair bit of ‘work’ by the pigeons.  Gleeful to see the statues of some politicians (who shall remain unnamed), and wish there were more pigeons in the area.

Where there are less pigeons, and traditionally Chennai was a pigeon free territory till 15 or 20 years ago, the crows used to fill in.  The crows are seen not as pests, but as a insect control and clean-up worker.  If not for them, the rats, the cats, and et. al, which die off on the roads would stink the town down.  There is also a tradition in some families of feeding the crows every morning with a spoonful of fresh cooked food, in memory of the ancestors.

You may wonder where this ramble about the pigeons and crows is leading to, and how it is connected with the modern DTH broadcast.  DTH is Direct-To-Home broadcast of usually TV signals from satellite, and also called satellite TV.  The terrace equipment consists of the parabolic dish antenna of around 1-1/2 feet diameter, with a contraption on a bracket at its focal point called LNB.  That contraption is a wave guide and a LNB (Low Noise Block downconverter) and the waveguide side which faces the dish has a plastic like cap of special material.

My DTH installation is around 10 years old.  After cyclone Vardah in December 2016, me and my bro found a wooden twig which had pierced the cap leaving a hole of 1 inch or so.  We removed the twig and did not cover the hole, and there has been no problems till now.

Yesterday early morning, my mom switched on the TV and found that there was no reception.  Surprised, I checked up the connections which were all OK, including a cursory inspection of the dish antenna, and raised a complaint with the service provider.

After brunch, once again, I investigated the antenna.  And the culprit was a Crow.  A neighbour is in the habit of feeding the crows early in the morning around six.  He usually scatters bits of bread, biscuits, wafers, savouries, or whatever is in hand.  Yesterday, he had scattered a savoury called ‘Ribbon Pakoda’ – a rice & gram flour fry shaped like a ribbon.

A crow had taken a piece of that ribbon pakoda and stuffed it into the hole in the LNB assembly.  Whether it got stuck there, or the crow had stuffed it there deliberately for later retrieval is not known.  But that ribbon pakoda made my mom’s life miserable for about 6 hours, disrupting the DTH TV.  Here is the image of the ribbon pakoda, partially out from the hole in the LNB.  I removed it, and made my mom happy.


BTW, the technician did turn up today, and after seeing the condition of the old LNB, I had it replaced with a new one.
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