Auroville, a young city lying around 10 kilometres from the former French colony of Puducherry (Pondicherry), now an Indian union territory, is an important hub of Hindu spirituality, which draws in thousands of people from all over the world. Set deep in the forests straddling the border of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, Auroville’s buildings are laid out in a unique formation reminiscent of the stars of a galaxy. Designed by architect Roger Anger, Auroville takes its name from Sri Aurobindo, a great philosopher and was established in 1968 by The Mother, also known by her birth name Mirra Alfassa, who was a close disciple of Sri Aurobindo and who hailed from France. Auroville came about as a haven from the religious and political strife of the time, and its whole mentality is geared towards serving God and realising the inner self.
One of the main ideas that governs the city is the improvement of personal relations among people, at a time when there was much strife and rivalry, and nowadays it encourages the perfection of people collaborating together as one humanity, and the devotees of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo courageously work together to improve relations between different groups of humanity. Auroville even received recognition in this dynamism from once Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who spoke of the commune’s work in promoting harmony between different cultures and furthering understanding of how coexistence among human beings can help promote spiritual growth.
According to the Census of India 2014, only around 2,300 people live in Auroville, tiny by Indian standards. Around two-thirds originate from India, France and Germany. They are all governed by the civic cardinal rule, unique to Auroville, which states that no political, religious or spiritual organisation should use Auroville as a platform to proselytise for their faith or recruit followers. As a result, there are no political parties or political operations in Auroville, and there is also no concept of private property or money, with the land and homes held under a communal basis, via the auspices of the Auroville Foundation. Auroville also engages with intra-community activities with neighbouring villages and social outreach work.
Unlike the mayor’s office and local councils found in mainstream cities around the world, Auroville is administered by a committee elected by the locals, and residents can support or veto any measures put forward by the committee without having to deal with council red tape. In return, residents are expected to engage in daily programmes of work, for at least five hours a day, seven days a week, either on their own or collectively. When not working, many of Auroville’s inhabitants like to congregate at the Matrimandir to meditate and pray to and honour God, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of Pondicherry.
The English and ex-ChelseafootballerFrank Lampard has announced this past Friday that he is planning to sign up with rivals Manchester City in a short-term contract, reports the Guardian newspaper. The ‘shock’ move could occur within the next week or so and will mean that Lampard could end facing the Blues (Chelsea, his old team) twice while playing in City’s kit. Lampard will then switch nations to play for an American team being developed by the Mancunians. City will be squaring off against Chelsea, and Lampard’s former teammates, at their Etihad Stadium on the 21st September, which he may well feature in if his contract is signed and stamped.
Manchester City currently has an investment in the US soccer leagues, running a team, New York City, who will appear for fixtures in the new Major League Soccer tournaments. However the New Yorker eleven, which will begin kicking about in March next year, may well have Lampard back on their team sheet once his temporary contract with owners City is rolled-up, meaning they can transfer him to their MLS franchise. Lampard signed a two-year contract previously with NYC FC, after vacating Chelsea and English football earlier this year. The former Chelsea midfielder had previously turned down an opportunity to appear in Melbourne, Australia for another of City’s international club ventures, while also becoming a signing priority for Queen’s Park Rangers, who he also declined. The 36-year-old has now made it clear that he favours a spell with Manuel Pellegrini’s side. According to Metro,Lampard has rejected the prospect of playing football in Australia as he had expressed a desire to remain in England,which will seem confusing for many as Lampard will be flying across the Atlantic once his stint in Manchester has run its course. He had also previously stated that he would not want to appear for any other Premier League team apart from the Blues after leaving Stamford Bridge.
The move to New York will see Lampard keeping his levels of fitness up as he nears the end of his active career and will also benefit Manchester City in making him free and available for their Premier League and Champions League squads. He is likely to sign a six-month contract which will run until he begins pre-season training with New York. The Lampard signing also means that City can increase the number of English players on their teams to counteract criticism that English clubs are too reliant on foreign players and not making enough use of home-grown talent. For Lampard, who is only a handful of years from making his retirement from the game, it will also keep him fresh in the eyes of England national team manager Roy Hodgson, who has considered him one of his star players. City hopes to have Lampard on the training field with them before their Community Shield clash against Arsenal, on Sunday 10th August.
Frank Lampard recently spoke about the importance of keeping fit ahead of making his debut in MLS, scheduled for March 2015 at the earliest.
“I will have to keep fit. I’ll have to train at the very top level, whether that’s on my own or with a club somewhere, I’ll have to see,’ he said at his New York City unveiling.
‘Of course I’ll keep fit and make sure my levels don’t drop too much. When we come here for pre-season I want to be ready to go. I want to fly out of the blocks. I don’t want to come out sluggish.“
The ‘shock move’ by Lampard is bound to raise eyebrows among many in the Premier League, especially at his old side Chelsea, where he became a legend of the team affectionately known as ‘Chelski‘ after thirteen trophy-packed years with them. The move may well be even more of a shock for Chelsea’s fans, who worshipped him in his days playing for the south London side at their hallowed home in Stamford Bridge. Many may well see his joining of one of their biggest Premiership rivals as a Judas move and a betrayal, while others have described it as a chance for Lampard to make his last few years playing professionally a success and an guiding inspiration for the young and fresh-faced American footballers he will encounter in the ‘Big Apple’.
When it comes to creativity and just making things happen, I’m a bit of a ‘night owl’. That doesn’t mean growing feathers, hooting like an idiot and silently divebombing the local drunkards. But it does explain why we have an owl for the blog‘s mascot. What I really mean is that some of my best ideas, thoughts and plans come to me in the dead of night, when everything is quiet and I’ve got me a space to think.
It was exactly such a night only yesterday that an idea that had brewed around in my mind finally took a concrete form. For a while I have mulled over creating another header for the Half-Eaten Mind, especially once I had confirmed that the Mystique theme that HEM uses could support multiple headers. Now don’t get me wrong, the old header with the dawn sky and tower blocks is good as gold. That image and its reincarnations have been there right from the blog’s start and there is no question of ever letting that go. But now and then I’d like to give the blog a small tweak. Try out new things and move the furniture around a bit.
So last night, I had one of my brainwaves after finding I had a lot of spare time suddenly available on a Friday night, so began sifting through the Images of the Internet looking for the perfect ingredients for that perfect header. As the visual idea of my new project churned around and ran circles in my mind like a ferret on LSD, I was chucking stuff into piZap, the photo-editing software (comes highly recommended by our Woodsy the owl) and then after about thirty minutes….my mind (with loyal assistance from my laptop) gave birth to this….
My theme for this header is London, by the way. To give you an understanding of how this design came about, let’s take each of the individual parts in turn and I’ll explain why I used them.
BACKGROUND IMAGE (THE BRIDGE):
The Half-Eaten Mind is based in London, so in keeping with this, I wanted to use an image that is quintessentially all London, but one that both Londoners and people from beyond the M25 motorway would both understand and relate to. I wanted something that would be attractive and bold, yet not liable to get me slammed down with a copyright infringement notice. I found the image I needed on a free wallpapers site. It depicts the Tower Bridge, one of London’s most iconic bridges, a formidable landmark spanning the great river Thames. The bridge looks especially captivating at dusk and night, lit up with floodlights that accentuate the masonry of the structure’s supports. Here the stony hues of the bridge and its yellowish lighting makes a strong, but not overwhelming, contrast with the sky above. Though often a grey concrete jungle when it feels temperamental, London has the ability to really impress with its crown jewels of amazing architecture, where medieval and Victorian rub shoulders with the latest skyscraper project by the Foster Brothers or Zawa Hadid.
The ideal image setting for the Mystique template used in this blog is 940 x 200 pixels. I used a site named picresize, which calls itself the ‘Internet’s best picture resizing tool’ to achieve this. I just uploaded the picture, entered the dimensions, and once the preview was good, downloaded it again before exporting it to the Flash editor in piZap. I did make one minor miscalculation though. I had set the Tower Bridge picture at a length of 960 pixels, 20 pixels overboard. That meant when the final header was done and I uploaded it to the WordPress customiser, I had to crop it a bit, but thankfully without any detriment to the design.
THE BLOG ROAD SIGN:
Again fitting in with the London theme, I decided against using the text normally supplied with piZap and opted to create a logo for the blog which used something that could be customised and look cool. I decided to base the logo on a road or street sign, but not something clichéd. I first thought about motorway signs, but could not find a suitable site to make them on. I changed my focus to road name signs, of which London has plenty, with each borough using its own format/style. During my Google research, I stumbled across this site ‘MyFunStudio‘ by Marijn Kampf. MyFunStudio comes with a special custom ‘London Street Sign’ maker where you can enter your own details and choose font and border colours and create your own take on the iconic central London road nameplate. The style that the customiser uses is the standard used by the city of Westminster and other parts of central London. These street signs, though relatively minimalist in design, have transcended their original purpose and have become synonymous with olde London Towne for many a visitor. Indeed many of the postcard sellers there market cards that simply feature the road sign, usually of a famous throughfare like Oxford Street or Pall Mall.
Using the site’s pre-existing template, I ditched the road name in favour of my blog’s name. The real-life signs carry a set of numbers and letters which are the postal district where the sign is located. The bottom of each sign also displays the issuing authority, the city of Westminster. I changed all that to make the logo geographically relevant to me. So WC2 became E13, the postal district I reside in, and “CITY OF WESTMINSTER” was transformed into “LONDON BOROUGH OF NEWHAM” the borough (local government urban district) where I live. By the way, the Newham road signs look nothing like the sign above. They also show the postal district and use a similar colour scheme, but feature the Newham borough coat of arms on the left-hand side.
THE FLAG ICONS:
They’re a tad on the small side, but if you look to the right of the header, you’ll see three small flags, equally spaced apart. They are in turn, the Union Flag (Union Jack), the banner of the United Kingdom; then in the middle the flag of Mauritius; and lastly the St. George’s flag that represents England in particular. The Union Flag is of course a nod to both my and my blog’s nationality. Please note though that HEM does have an international focus in news stories and a wide-ranging readership from across the globe, so this isn’t an expression of any nationalistic fervour. The Mauritian flag is a homage to my mother’s country of birth and an important part of my personal cultural identity. The English flag was also chosen for similar reasons – as a marker of both personal and a greater regional identity personally, and as a small acknowledgement of respect for the country of my birth. I was in fact born in the Greater London area (the city itself plus suburbs and annexed bits of surrounding counties).
The new header will run concurrently with the old one. When using the site, you will find that if you click on another page or article that the headers change. A third header with a solely news-related theme is in the pipeline, and may be available as early as next week, time permitting.
The pigeon – a humble bird, a symbol of world peace, favoured pet of boxer Mike Tyson, and the scourge of statues and old buildings everywhere. If you happen to live in a decent-sized urban area, you cannot escape the hordes of grey, whirring birds as they flutter from one pavement to another, often leaving behind liberal doses of brown-and-white kack in their wake. Over hundreds of years, the itinerant members of Family Columbidae have become synonymous with city life. The Italian canal city of Venice is believed to have to world’s highest density of feral (wild) pigeons with three birds for every Venetian, each producing on average 12 kilos of excrement a year. A considerable amount of pigeon poo. In London, where 30,000 fat-necked, knobbly-kneed birds draw a nearly equal amount of tourists to feed them every month, bags of bread and stale sandwiches are their order of the day. Here in Stratford, in east London, the local birds have no qualms about even dining on flesh from chicken-wing-and-chip takeaway boxes. Pigeons are practically dustbins with wings, and while traditionally their hand-reared ancestors ate grains, the urban feral pigeons have an indiscriminate “open-door, open-beak policy” when it comes to roadside snacks.
Councils and health-and-safety officers revile the pigeon as a depositary of diseases but in reality they should not be under-estimated. They are smart enough to hop aboard an Underground train to travel to various stations to find a crumb or two, as this BBC video demonstrates. They will wait around outside schools during lunchtime to squabble over chips left behind by pupils. They have a homing instinct more in tune than some London taxi drivers. Indeed one (computer-generated) pigeon has even been enlisted to help sell personalised greeting cards (Funky Pigeon).
With our feathered friends living so close to us, it would only be a matter of time before they flew into the 21st century. Their beady eyes have not only figured out where all the bakeries and burger bars are, it seems they have even acquired our sense of humour.
Meet Jon Pigeon. Yes he is a pigeon, and he has evolved enough intelligence to acquire a laptop…and a Twitter account. His witty, expletive laden comments on life on the wing, and the annoying pestilence of humans he has to put up with, has earned him nearly 68,500 followers on the microblogging site. He has been dubbed the “bluest rat with wings in Twittertown” by Shortlist magazine.
Along with his laddish personality, Jon Pigeon has acquired a taste for the finer things in life. His favourite soup-de-jour is strawberry milkshake, while main course is veggies and mince, with a dash of cider (most likely White Lightning).
He is an accomplished stuntman. His favourite stunt is the one where he flies about a foot from his perch and lands. That is it really.
The victims of his mid-air defecations read like a who’s-who of the celebrity world. Melanie Sykes (Anglo-Burmese television presenter and star of Boddington’s beer adverts), Maria Fowler (soap opera actress; EastEnders), Brian Blessed (booming voiceover artist and erstwhile star of Strictly Come Dancing) and TV presenter Brian Dickson have all had the privilege of been crowned with one of Jon’s nutrient rich guano deposits. Despite being a master of humorous wit, the Twitterati’s most famous airborne legend does not enjoy a cordial relationship with human comedians. He has proudly claimed to have splattered on Alan Carr, Shappi Khorsandi and Danny Wallace of ‘Join Me’ fame.
Jon is also a formidable globetrotter by pigeon standards. He once flew south over the river Thames and landed in Brixton where he noted that the bananas in this far-flung part of the world were called ‘plantains’ and the music was sort of ‘slow’.
His pet peeves are being chased by toddlers and idiot mates who cannot tell the difference between a map of Spain and a chicken nugget on a tissue.
In honour of what could be the United Kingdom’s most notorious flying jokesmith of 2013, this blog brings you the best of Jon Pigeon’s tweets, as chosen by Metro’s TV critic/reviewer Keith Barker-Main and the Half-Eaten Mind’s very own editor and blogger Vijay Shah.
Just be sure to take a strong umbrella when you step outside, after reading this. Avoid trees. And KFC. Any fast food shop more or less…
JON PIGEON on APPEARANCES…
Got a Petit Filous Pot stuck on my head. Feeling a bit self conscious about the situation.
Found a Cravat. Made of Cravat. Wanted to wear it. Yep. Pretend Like I am Jon Downton Abbey Pigeon. The Cravat is F***ing Massive.
Found a Sock. Made of Yellow Sock. The Sock has got a Hole in it. Yep. Wearing it as sort of Tank Top. In Yellow. Very very Sexy. Too Sexy.
Found a Bikini Top. Didn’t put it on. Not wearing it. Yep. Pretending like I am a Jon Kate Middleton Pigeon. Doing the Face.
JON PIGEON on CRAPPING on EVERYTHING…
Shat on a Wedding Dress and basically ruined the Bride’s Whole entire life there.
Shat on a Bouncy Castle and Basically ruined it for everyone there.
Shat on Kate Middleton. Yep. Twice. To protect her modesty.
Shat on Anne Robinson. Yep. The S**t went on her Glasses.
Shat on Chris Moyles and basically ruined his last show for everyone there.
Shat on a Queue of people outside an Apple Store.
I am on the Toilet. Yep. The Toilet is called MITSUBISHI SHOGUN 3.0 V6 GLS.
Shat on a Teenager because he keeps saying BRRRAP. BRRRAP.
Shat on a Teenager because he said he was a Gangsta. Yep. He had just got off a Bus.
Shat on a man because he is wearing women’s jeans.
Shat on a Teenager because he is wearing Pink Jeans.
Shat on a Teenager because he is wearing a White Tracksuit.
Sneezed and Shat at the same time and nearly killed a Cyclist there.
Here’s the Situation. I am at a Petting Zoo. Shat on an Overweight Rabbit. Yep. A Pygmy Goat saw me. He looks quite Violent. I am in a Tree.
Shat on the England Football team and basically improved them for everyone there.
Jay-Z has Got 99 Problems and My S**ts are One.
There will be a Short delay in Tonight’s S**ts while we have some Adverts. Sorry about that.
Shat on Coldplay. Again. And the Piano. And the Drums. Yep. And that Spinning woman. Twice.
JON PIGEON on CRAP LYRICS…
My Biscuit brings all the Birds to the yard. And They’re Like, It’s Bigger than Yours. Damn Right. It’s Bigger than Yours. It’s a Hob Nob. (après Kelis)
Some people think I’m Biscuits But I just think I’m free Man, I’m just livin’ my life There’s nothin’ crazy about me. (après Dizzee Rascal)
It’s not about the Biscuit, Biscuit, Biscuit We don’t need your Biscuit, Biscuit, Biscuit We just wanna make the Hob Nob. (après Jessie J)
Mamma mia, here I go again Biscuits, how can I resist you? Mamma mia, does it show again? Biscuits, just how much I’ve missed you. (après ABBA)
Don’t stop me now I’m having such a Good Time. I’m having a Biscuit, Don’t stop me now If you wanna have a Biscuit just give me a call. (après Queen)
I have Written a Song about Shoes. Yep. The Song goes SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOES. SHOE.
Loop de Loop. Barrel Roll. Loop de Loop. Barrel Roll. Barrel Roll. Loop de Loop. Barrel Roll. Lose my Bearings. Bounce off a Caravan.
JON PIGEON on FERAL PETE…
Feral Pete has been Shat on in a Friendly Fire incident.
Feral Pete told me he Had Illegally Downloaded Ed Sheeran. Yep. He had Stolen a Carrot from Tesco.
Feral Pete has Convinced a pair of Bats that the Police needs help solving Crimes. Yep. I’m not entirely sure they can even use a Computer.
Feral Pete told me he had found The Moldovan National Football Team. Yep. He showed me a Dead Badger by the roadside.
Playing Hide and Seek with Feral Pete. Yep. He is Probably going to regret it in the Morning though. He is on the Eurostar. I am in a Tree.
Trying to explain to Feral Pete that the ParaOrchestra do not actually play on Broken Instruments.
Having an argument with Feral Pete. Yep. He is saying How can Andy Murray get the American Open if it was never Closed in the first place?
Feral Pete said he wanted to go Raving. Yep. Then he ate a Lemsip and fell asleep in a Hedge.
Feral Pete has been sat on an Egg all day long. Yep. It Hatched into a Racecar and he has to put the stickers on. He is F***ing Livid.
Feral Pete has done a sort of Tribute to the Cabinet Reshuffle. Yep. He was on a Shed over there and now he is in a Tree over here.
Feral Pete has Sellotaped Spoons onto both of his legs. Yep. Said he wanted to be a sort of Feral Pete Pistorius. So far he just Falls over.
JON PIGEON on HELPFUL ADVICE for HUMANS…
If you do not want to be a Target for Pickpockets, do not Put anything in your Pockets. Pickpocket Safety Advice there.
If you are at a Party but do not know how to Dance, just sort of Wave your arms around and occasionally move your legs. Party Advice There.
For a Long and Successful Marriage, Never tell your Wife she looks like a Truck. Unless she actually is a Truck. Marriage advice There.
JON PIGEON on LEARNING about HUMANS….
Turns out that a Smear Test is not actually an Exam for Window Cleaners. Frankly Livid about this.
Turns Out Sky News actually has very little news about The Sky. Frankly livid about this.
I am on a See-Saw. It is S**t.
There is a Pensioner talking to me. I have literally no Idea what he is saying. I think he is Australian. Or Welsh.
I am on a Lorry. Yep. Wanted to pretend like I am a Notting Hill Carnival Pigeon. F***ing Regret it now Though. I am on the M1.
JON PIGEON on INTER-SPECIES RELATIONS…
Just watched a Cat fall out of a Tree. It was f***ing brilliant.
F**k Yeah. Landed on a Cat.
Having an Argument with a Swan. Posh Bastard.
Having an Argument with a Peacock. Poncy Bastard.
Convinced an entire Flock of Sheep to start Digging a Hole. Yep. The Hole is f***ing Massive. The Farmer is going Mental. I am in a Tree.
There is no f***ing way a Cow can jump over the Moon. I have seen Cows.
Teaching a Goat how to Skateboard. This could be F***ing Incredible.
Ginger Pigeon! Ginger F***ing Pigeon! F***ing Ginger F***ing Pigeon! Trying not to laugh.
JON PIGEON on STUFF HE FOUND….
Very Exciting News! I have Found an iPhone 5! It is Smaller than I thought. And Lighter. Yep. And is called NATURE VALLEY OATS ‘N HONEY.