Tuesday, February 28, 2017


VIOLIN MATTERS                            


“If the edges of the sound hole are uneven and there is no clear ringing tone of the adjacent strings- it should raise an alarm bell”


'Sound post' is a cylindrical rod of usually wood which is placed inside the body of the violin . 

It is positioned inside the violin at a level adjacent to the bridge near the E string .

The Soul 

Sound post is placed between the front plate and the back plate of violin supporting the arch of the violin. 

It alters the tone of the violin and is often referred to as ‘the soul’ (ame) of the violin.

Ideal position of the sound post inside the belly of the violin is 1-3 mm behind the bridge position and 1-3 mms inner to the right foot of the bridge.

Fig 1. Position of the sound
(From Andrew Filmer with thanks)

Moving the sound post towards (1) the bridge gives a louder and harsher sound.
Moving the sound post away from the bridge (2) gives a mellow and lesser volume sound.
Moving the sound post to the left (3) or to the right (4) will increase focus on the adjacent strings.

Not only the position but also the make of sound post is important – the grains meaning the lines along the tree growth should  be at 90 degree angle to the grain of the instrument. 

The touching ends of the sound post should also be carved to the shape of the breast of the violin so that the contact is full and complete.

Sound post is generally erect, but can be slightly at an angle

Adjusting the sound post is just not physical, but the tone of the violin should be heard, felt and appreciated to a better one. 

Each violin is different in its temperament and only general principles of the sound can be laid.

Its position can be altered inside the violin via the sound holes with a setting tool by the luthier.

 Fig 2. Sound post setter tool


  • My violin makes a clear ringing tone on the open strings of G and D. 
  • But the clear ringing tone was absent on strings A and E.  
  • To find out the exact nature, I took a picture of the sound holes of the violin from the front which looked apparently normal.

Fig. 3. Apparently Normal Looking Sound holes

I also palpated the body of the violin and found the edges of the right sound hole were at uneven depth. The inner edge of the right sound hole was raised compared to the left sound hole as though the sound post was keeping the front and the back plates of the violin apart.

Pic. 4.  Left Sound Hole - Edges Even.

Pic. 5. Right Sound Hole- Edges Uneven and Apart


So I took this up with the luthier to readjust the sound post.

He confirmed my findings and readjusted the post to an inner position

The front and the back plates of the violin body were no longer under tension.

The edges of the right sound hole became more even.

The price of the pudding was that the sound returned to the A and E string – louder, clearer and what is more , the ringing tone of the open strings A and E had returned!

"There is more to it than meets the eye!"

By the way my age-old bridge had a minute crack on its back surface and we replaced this as well and the sound was far superior. 

So it is important to know that the sound depends on factors far more than just the sound post!!

So keep looking for causes to improve your tone - not only in your playing, but also in the violin!


       “If the edges of the sound hole are uneven and there is no clear ringing tone of the adjacent    strings- it should raise an alarm bell”

Sunday, February 19, 2017



The last mile refers to a gas chamber situated not a mile, but about 30 feet away in Texas State Penitentiary where Melvin Mars the foot ball star is being readied for the death penalty.

At the eleventh hour, he is saved from death as someone else confessed to his crime which was killing his parents and burning them!

Amos Decker is the police detective with  ‘hyperthymesia’ condition with a perfect memory and total memory recall. Decker leads the story with the FBI team weaving through a plot of hidden agendas, federal and police accomplices.

David Baldacci is a renowned Italian born, American lawyer turned writer  aged 56, with at least 33 thrillers , not to mention many others works for children.

He always brings in description of sports or physical fitness in almost all his novels. 

His heros are generally middle aged men who are larger than normal but have been physically fit in the past. The female officers of law are fit, agile women who outsmart the men – and the present story is no exception to this rule!

There is always a take home message from almost all his books about how to remain fit. 

For instance in this book, Mars the prisoner keeps himself physically fit by doing daily for 20 years, in his prison cell –

  • ·         200 pushups first with fist, then on finger tips and finally in backward dog position with his head touching the floor on each pass,
  • ·         300 deep deep squats,
  • ·         Yoga and Pilates for strength, balance, movements and flexibility &
  • ·         1000 stomach and core reps.

I have found Baldacci’s recipe for fitness always fascinating! If only we could do a fraction of these every day, we will all be a lot healthier!

His earlier books ‘Absolute Power’, ‘Total Control’  (disappearing executive in technology conglomerate- wanting the best for his family) and  even ‘The Winner’ ( the corrupt and prefixed lottery system)  have involved a lot of research and intriguing details.

Though ‘The Last Mile’ was released as late as 2016, I found the book not so very well researched on the finer details. 

I would have liked to see more of finer descriptions of people, places and events.

But the story keeps you interested in the book enough to finish it at one go.

Monday, February 6, 2017



'FALL OF THE GIANTS'  by the Welch author Ken Follet is a historical novel which depicts role of the aristocrats and the working class of the early 20th century (1911 to be exact) both vertically and horizontally.

Vertically because the story involves the coal mining community in Aberowen a Welch town , the coal mine and and the aristocrats of the last century. Horizontally it moves along generations and world war 1.

My own trip to the largest coal mine in the world http://lapsurgeon.blogspot.in/2013/08/a-visit-to-largest-coal-mine-in-world.html showed that the Indian mine is 1000 metres deep where the actual miners work. I knew what ‘pitch black darkness’ meant and the importance of lights in the pits.

Follet starts his novel with graphic account of how the make-shift lift takes a young miner, a boy at that, down to the depths, ragged by his seniors who give him a lamp which goes out and leaves him in pitch black darkness!

Simultaneous narration of the owners of the mining town - the exotic Fitzherbert and his Russian wife Bee. Story weaves around the love and hate between lower and upper classes.

Explosion and fire in the mine – with death of many. The puny response of the mining owner to the fire!

True love blossoms not only between the aristocrats and the poor ; adultery,betrayal and denial also co exist among them.

The story goes on to world war 1, the trenches, treachery of the army officials, the stupidity of  the top government bureaucracy in going to war.  The officials despite the death of thousands of young men of the lower social order still proclaimed the (needless) war as a success!

This reminded me of how even after a 100 years, governments still manage to pull wool over our eyes saying how a change is done for our good , when only us, the commoners are made to suffer, leaving the rich to benefit immensely from the exercise !!

The social rights and woman empowerment with voting rights for women are focused in great detail.

The need for the common folks to stand up for what is right and fair - reminded me of 'jallikattu' movement in Tamilnadu!

In the end, the children of the miners who grow up to be bold, decisive young men and women lead a better life and become popular compared to the rich folks who are exposed for their greedy, selfish attitude. 

So there is a morality in the book after all and a source for joy in life.

When my son had bought the large book, I wondering how I’d be able to read it – but this novel depicts life in general and in war, giving hope for us all. 

Thank  you, Pravin for lending it to me!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

ADE KANGAL ( 2017) Tamil Movie

ADE KANGAL (Same Eyes)

ADHE KANGAL  ( Same Eyes)- Tamil movie released on 26 Jan 2017 with new casts. Initially what appears to be a triangle turns out to be a thriller.

Director has paid attention to young new actors who appear to be modern commoners we meet every day!

Blindness and woman empowerment are showcased  well.

Hero is blind initially, but successful as an entrepreneur with culinary skills.  Apart from this he plays no major role.  Most of the movie including the kicking and killing! is dominated by woman power!

Modern woman's mind is revealed aptly when Sadhana rejects the suitor quite abruptly when she finds his mind wandering; she appears practical even when it comes to marriage.

Deepa is also shown in a tough role with independent thinking and plotting while on the run.

The most jovial chap of course  is Constable Panju who makes the whole movie so deliciously palatable. A real 'paavam' police constable from Kanyakumari plays his innocent, comic role to the hilt till the very end.

The style of narration and story line reminds one of Soudhan -  the Hindi TV series of true police diaries!

It is reassuring to see good quality, modern movies in Tamil with novel thinking and showcasing of women empowerment by directors with minimal songs and no fighting!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Water Scarcity in Tamilnadu is Scary!


Tamil nadu (TN) has less of water and much scarcity of the same.

This will soon lead TN to become a desert if corrective steps are not taken.

These steps are not only the duty on part of the government, but also of every citizen. 

All of us have to be aware of the shortage of water and the corrective steps to avert disaster in TN.

The reasons for shortage of water in TN are many. A few are outlined as below:
  • ·         Rainfall Jan to April in Tamil Nadu is only 15.52 percent of the normal.
  • ·         So ground water table is reduced to a deficit of 84.48 percent
  • ·         Water level in the major reservoirs are drastically reduced
  • ·         Storage capacity of water tanks are reduced considerably and should be desilted.
  • ·         Systems of water bodies also need major repairs in maintenance.
  • ·         Lack of trees and soil erosion are important reasons for water scarcity

The problems of water shortage are many. Some of them are:
  • ·         Agriculture is most affected by water scarcity.
  • ·         No water and the crops die.
  • ·         People cannot and should not rely on rain all the time
  • ·         Water in ground level is insufficient for use by people      

Preventive steps to avert disaster in TN at the home level:

·         Water conservation. Use water with caution and don’t squander it
·         Rain water harvesting’ allows rain water to fall directly on the ground
·         Fallen rain water raises ground level water. Every house should do this.

Preventive steps to avert disaster in TN at the government level:

·         Roads and houses not to be elevated more to avoid erosion of water to lower zones
·          Planting of the trees prevent evaporation of water due to sun
·          In flats remove the cement and change it for sand – so the water reaches ground
·          State government should use satellite images to find underground water
·         Celebrate March 22 World Water Day in a big way to create awareness among public
·         University research,competitions,incentives-to use science to prevent water erosion

·         Educate younger generation on prevention,after all they are going to inherit the earth from us.

“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure”  - Justice Holmes

Wednesday, January 18, 2017



Dilemma by definition is 

a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially ones that are equally undesirable.

Though common in adolescence, one often experiences ‘dilemma’ in most phases of life.

It may be a question of  

‘Should I become a business man or a university professor?’
‘Should I marry or remain single in life?’ or
‘Should I change my job or start my own enterprise?’

So, depending on our culture and personality, some remain confused. Some folks ask all around for advice. Some resort to divine intervention by asking religious heads.

Some people take advice from friends, parents and relatives.

The best person to decide is you – as there is no one other than you who knows the whole truth.

Rubber Band Model is useful to decide. What is pulling me to the right  (PROS) and what is pulling me to the left (CONS)?

It is best to put the Pros and Cons on a piece of paper and sleep over it before deciding

Sometimes you have to take a quick decision and sometimes a slow one.

“A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one” – Rita Moe Brown

Monday, January 2, 2017



‘The old people tell you what they were doing; the young people tell you what they are doing. Only fools tell you what they are going to do.”

As the book of life has unfolded another chapter 2017, it is a sobering thought to be alive and kicking. I remember with gratitude the fellowship of friends, patients well-wishers and relatives who made my life worthwhile.

I am very grateful for the arrival of the new grandson in the family who dictates life at home.

As a child I have always loved the song ‘Que sera sera- Whatever will be will be’  sung by Doris Day. A little girl asking her mother what she will be- and the mother replying that 'whatever will be will be'. The girl then grows up to be a mother and her children ask her the same question!

But when it comes to work situation, we have ups and downs. Many of our work situations involve decisions and these depend on our experiences. Experience is related to knowledge and results of our past actions (good and bad). This is true be it a bus driver, cricketer or surgeon.

Reminiscing in the past – either gloating or regretting varies in different communities, cultures and regions.

How much you are thinking about the past and the future .... affects what you do in the present. Are you concentrating enough at the present on the work at hand ? ….is the main issue.

There are 3 examples of cultural divisions of nostalgic - Europe, dream - driven USA and reality - driven industrious Asia.

Examples also apply to if you wish to live in the past thoughts, live in the dreamy future or live in the reality of the present!

Live in the present and be reality driven

To reminisce in the past

Or live in the dreamy future

“You cannot change the past. But you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.”