Princeton Review's Best 371 Colleges

Princeton Review Best 371 CollegesThe Princeton Review (TPR), one of the top test preparation institutes in the US has released its much awaited “Best 371 Colleges” book, containing rankings of top US universities based on a wide range of factors.
According to TPR’s website, the rankings have been prepared based on a survey of “over 122,000 students and .. tons of information .. including 62 rankings lists”. All this to help you, the student, find “the best college”. The rankings have been prepared based on various major factors like academics, demographics, town life, school type, politics, quality of life, extracurriculars, and social scene. Then there are various sub-factors under each. Some interesting facts:


JK Wedding Entrance Dance is Really Good

This video has gone viral over the internet. At the time of writing this post, the video (embedded below) has been watched almost 2.3 million times and has got 16,618 comments in five days of its existence. Take a look.


What is Omar Bhatti's South Asian Link

Omar Bhatti (also spelt Omer Bhatti on some sites) the 25 year old aspiring rapper from Norway is in the news these days because of his links with Michael Jackson, who passed away last month. Bhatti is being billed as Michael Jackson’s biological son, a love child, although it is not yet clear how. Bhatti himself is reportedly not sure, as he is trying to get a DNA test to verify it, according to this report from NY Daily News. Omer, rumored to be the result of a one-night stand Jackson had with his mom, Pia Bhatti, is reportedly seeking a DNA test to find out. Read more:


Erin Andrews Video Still Top Search

Top Keyword on this site: Erin AndrewsI can’t believe “Erin Andrews Video Peep” is still on the top of Google Trends in the US. Its hotness is still “volcanic” on Google-Trends hotness range. It has been moving up and down between first and fourth positions over last three days, and I think it is disgusting. How can so many people be after a peepshow, when there is otherwise so much porn over the internet? In my defense, I have not been looking for the video, but I have been checking Google trends, and also the webstats for my last post on the subject, and I am enjoying it. At both places, Erin Andrews Video Peep is the top search query. I have been clicking on some top results on the Google Trends page, and I did stumble upon stills from the peep show on If that is what you came here looking for, here is the link: ESPN Hottie Erin Andrews in Peep Shocker


Solar Eclipse Live

Today’s solar eclipse won’t be visible in North America, because it is night here at the time of the solar eclipse. I have been watching solar eclipse live from India on NDTV.
NDTV also streams online. Click here to watch.


Erin Andrews Peep Hole Video

Erin Andrews Peep Hole Video is on top on Google’s hot trends today, and I didn’t even know who Erin Andrews was. Well, that is what you get for being sports TV ignorant in America. Turns out Erin Andrews, according to Wikipedia, is a popular American sportscaster. In 2007 and 2008, she has been voted “America’s Sexiest Sportscaster” by Playboy Magazine.
Now what brought her to the top of search results today? This statement from her lawyer was posted on the web today, and should tell the whole story, or a large part of it:


Kavya Shivashankar beats Jimmy Kimmel too

Jimmy Kimmel, the late night comedian, apparently has this annual routine where he invites the year’s spelling bee winner to his show and goes head to head with them in a weird spelling test. Although he has been apparently winning for last few years, this year Kavya Shivashankar beat him hands down. Watch this video. It is hilarious.


Kavya Shivashankar Becomes Spelling Champ

A bunch of thirteen year old kids of Indian origin ruled the roost at the Scripps National Spelling Bee tonight. Out of 11 finalists, more than half (Ramya Auroprem, Aishwarya Pastapur, Sidharth Chand, Neetu Chandak, Anamika Veeramani, Tussah Heera, and Kavya Shivashankar) had Indian names. That is an astounding 7 out of 11. In each round, anyone making a mistake was out of the competition. It took 16 rounds to crown the champion, in which Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas spelt “Laodicean” correctly to take the trophy. It was interesting how she acted out writing each word on her hand with her finger before finally spelling it out.
The examiners were pronouncing each word for the contestants before they could spell it. They didn’t do badly with pronouncing the kids’ names either, except Anamika’s, which they pronounced as Anna-Meeka.

Featured Articles Miscellany

Don't Get Your Hindi Tattoo Wrong

Update 7/21/2015:
Due to shortage of time, I am unable to devote time to replying to comments on this blog post. Sorry, the comment box is now closed.

victoria tattoo on david beckham's armBritish soccer star David Beckham has his wife Victoria’s name tattooed on his forearm. But it is spelt wrongly. I am not sure if the error is intentional, but it looks like “vhiktoria”. So, if you have decided to get a Hindi tattoo, or are in the tattoo business, make sure you get a good translation or transliteration (as the case may be) for your planned tattoo.
If you have a Hindi tattoo question, ask it in the comment section of this blog post and I will answer your query for free in the same section as soon as possible. My answer will be in text form. You should copy the text to Wordpad, and increase font size to 20+ to see the image correctly. Make sure the font is “Mangal” or “Arial Unicode MS” or any other Unicode Devanagari font. It is your responsibility to have the correct font on your computer and to copy the text correctly. If possible, send me a picture of your tattoo and I will put it up here. For example, see the pictures of Hindi tattoos that readers of this blog got after asking for translation here.
freedom = स्वतन्त्रता, courtesy Mary ___ Scorpio = वृश्चक, courtesy Corey
Before you ask, please read the following:
1. Computer translations (Google, Bing, etc.) can sometimes be very good, but sometimes very bad. Therefore do not get yourself inked based on a computer translation.
2. Do not ask me to verify if a translation you got from the computer is correct. Just ask me what you want translated. You can check it against a computer, but don’t come back and ask me why it is different. I am a native speaker, and I will do my best to give you a good translation. However, I will be happy to verify another native speaker’s translation for you.
3. Caution about proper nouns like names: If it is a name you want transliterated to Hindi, let me know how you pronounce it, particularly if it is a name not common to English speakers. Hindi is written in a phonetic manner, so I must know how you pronounce it. After I give you the Hindi version, double check with somone who can read Hindi.
4. Please do not ask about translations in languages or scripts other than Hindi. I do not know Sanskrit, Gujarati, Marathi, etc.
5. Do not call Hindi Hindu. Hindi is a language, Hindu is a religion.
6. I do this free of cost as a service to the language I love. Don’t write me long paragraphs to translate. A word or two, even a line or two are fine. Be prepared to wait a day or two (sometimes more, if I am traveling) before you get your answer.
7. Here are some commonly asked tattoo words and phrases. These get asked so often that I decided to include them here. Check here before asking:
Peace = शांति or शान्ति (different spellings for the same word), pronounced Shanti
Freedom = आज़ादी or स्वतंत्रता
Be the change = परिवर्तन बनो
Be the change you want to see in the world = वह परिवर्तन बनो जो संसार में देखना चाहते हो
Never a failure, always a lesson = नाकामी कभी नहीं, सबक हमेशा
Power = शक्ति, pronounced Shakti
Strength = दृढता
family = परिवार
faith = आस्था
hope = आशा
Some phrases/sentences that are frequently asked, but don’t translate well into Hindi:
Be at peace, not in pieces.
Carpe Diem
Important Disclaimer: This service is provided with no warranties and no acceptance of liabilities. While I will do my best to answer your query correctly, do verify it from another source before getting a tattoo.


Pheran, another Blanket with Sleeves

Everytime I watch the infomercial about the Snuggie, a “blanket with sleeves”, it reminds me of the pheran, which was the basic garment and an essential part of my life growing up in Kashmir (North India). Nobody in Kashmir can live without a pheran, and it must have existed there for centuries, if not millenia. And here in the US, I see several companies claiming the blanket with sleeves was their idea. So who thought of it first —
Snuggie, Slanket or Freedom blanket? Did any of them know about the Kashmiri pheran? To me it seems they are reinventing the wheel. While I have seen infomercials only from Snuggie, I saw this interesting post about it, followed by an equally interesting discussion in its comments, and that is how I found out about the other brands – the Slanket and the Freedom Blanket, and the apparent tussle for originality of the idea.
Kashmiri politician Omar Abdullah wearing a pheran. Courtesy Salman Nizami's Flickr photostreamWell, the Kashmiri pheran () is also actually a blanket with sleeves. It can be made out of fleece, wool, or any fabric that keeps you warm. Every Kashmiri person living in Kashmir has to have a pheran. The difference between the blanket with sleeves being marketed in the West, and the pheran is this – while the snuggie appears to be open on the back, the pheran is not. It is closed, and you put it on like you would put on a sweater. Except, it is really long (below knees) and very loose (like a large blanket). In fact it has to be loose enough to create your own heated space around you, which you heat up using a kangri (or kanger, as it is called in Kashmiri).
More on the kanger in a little bit — actually that merits a post of its own. First a little bit about Kashmir’s weather. When you think of India, you think of searing hot weather. But there are pockets of cold weather in Today's weather in Srinagar and New York from iGoogle Weather gadgetIndia along the foothills of Himalayas – Himachal, Uttarakhand, the North East, and Kashmir. The weather in the beautiful valley of Kashmir can be compared to that of New York. Look at the screenshot of today’s weather in Srinagar (the capital city of Kashmir) and New York. The difference is, hardly anyone in Kashmir can afford to have a centrally heated home. That is where the pheran and the kanger come in. The pheran is your personal space that you sit with or move around with, and the kanger is your personal heater with which you heat that space.
The Kangri. Courtesy Farooq Wani's Flickr photostreamThe kanger () is basically an earthenware pot, around which a wickerwork jacket is woven to insulate it and to provide you with a handle. You fill the earthenware pot with wood charcoal, and put some burning embers on top. The heat works through the layers of charcoal, giving you nearly a daylong supply of heat. A good kanger-ful does not need a refill all day long, but most do. It all depends on the quality of charcoal you use, and the way you keep the heat outflow controlled (with a layer of ash forming on top). You keep the kanger within the pheran and heat up the space within. You sit with the pheran and the kangri, traditionally on the floor, which, needless to say, has to be well covered or carpeted. You go out and walk with the pheran, holding your own kanger within.
Obviously, the essential, practical, traditional pheran has also given birth to the fashionable pheran, and that is what has become popular as a feminine apparel in other parts of North India, which has colder winters than the South, but not as cold as those in Kashmir. The fashion pheran is generally embroidered, is not as loose as the essential pheran, and mostly you can’t put your hands in. So, well, it is not much of a pheran.

Indian politician Sonia Gandhi wearing a fashionable pheran. Courtesy Salman Nizami's Flickr photostream
Indian politician Sonia Gandhi wearing a fashionable pheran
A Western tourist wearing a pheran. Courtesy Batschmidt's Flickr photostream
A Western tourist wearing a pheran
Working with the pheran on. Courtesy Mubee's Flickr photostream
Working with the pheran on

With the real pheran, people can go to work, shop, drive, and mostly do everything in a day’s work. During the winter, the pheran does not come off unless you go to sleep, or are going for a job that demands more formal wear. A pheran also generally comes with a potsh (), i.e., a pheran lookalike that is made of plain white cotton cloth and is used as the inner layer for the pheran. The potsh has multiple functions — it increases the amount of insulation given by the pheran, prevents the body’s dirt and odor to get to the pheran (you don’t wash the pheran that often), and gets washed and replaced more often than the pheran does — kind of a pheran liner.
Do you see any similarity between the ‘blanket with sleeves’ and the pheran? One thing is for sure – I vouch for the idea of a blanket with sleeves, and since I cannot buy a pheran in the US, I am going to settle for the blanket with sleeves. And who knows with energy prices going the way they are, one day we may have to rely on the kanger too. Any inventors out there looking for ideas?