ROHINI RAMAKRISHNAN

Happy hundred

The Coonoor-Udhagamandalam (Ooty) mountain railway train,which was featured in Bollywood blockbuster song “Chhaiyya Chhaiyya” in the film “Dil Se”, turned 100 on October 15. A star attraction for tourists, it offers a breathtaking view of the enchanting flora and fauna of the Nilgiris. It was on October 15, 1908 that the first train chugged into Udhagamandalam (Ooty) from Coonoor, much to the delight of the local people. This 18 km long line is part of the 46-km long Mettupalayam-Udhagamandalam Nilgiris Mountain Railway (NMR), which has been accorded UNESCO world heritage status. While the NMR, an engineering marvel which uses a rack and pinion system, was thrown open to the public on June 15, 1899, it was extended upto Udhagamandalam only in 1908. In 1882 Swedish inventor Riggenbach came up with the idea of a ‘Nilgiri Railway’.

India’s first

A Catholic nun, Sister Alphonsa, has been made India’s first female saint, at an event presided over by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. The canonisation was greeted with delight by Christians in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where Sister Alphonsa lived until her death in 1946. Sister Alphonsa said that she was completely devoted to Christ by the age of seven. Sister Alphonsa endured successive bouts of illness and died in her mid-30s.

MOMENT IN HISTORYThe first commercial train in Kashmir chugged on the tracks of the valley recently with thousands of people turning up at the eight railway stations to experience the ride. People were seen at almost all railway stations between Rajwansher in Budgam district and Anantnag district from very early in the morning to get the tickets and be among the first ones to witness the historic moment.

Vote right

A 106-year-old American nun living in a convent in Rome could well be the oldest person to vote in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. Sister Cecilia Gaudette, who last voted for President Eisenhower in 1952, has registered to vote and says she will vote for Democrat Barack Obama. Although hard of hearing, she keeps herself informed by reading newspapers and watching TV at the convent.

Only English

Rwanda’s cabinet has decided that all education will be taught in English instead of French. Officially the Rwandan decision is a result of joining the English-speaking East African Community. But relations between Rwanda and France have been frosty following the 1994 genocide, when France was accused of supporting Hutu militias. Rwanda has applied to join the Commonwealth, the loose association of ex-British colonies and territories.

White wedding

Welcome to Chocolate Week which is the biggest, most indulgent, chocolate celebration in the U.K. which is celebrated from October 13 to 19. Chocolate Week is pure chocolate indulgence with talks, tastings, demonstrations, launches of new chocolates, chocolate fountains, sculptures and so on. Foodies will be able to find out more about chocolate, it’s origins, cocoa beans, how it is made and also taste the finest chocolate in the world. A wedding dress has been created that besides being an eyeful is good enough to eat — as it is made out of white chocolate.

Rules rock!

Traffic restrictions have been re-introduced in China’s capital Beijing, in an attempt to bring back the clear skies seen during the Olympics. Each car must spend one day a week off the road, in a scheme based on registration numbers. Beijing residents miss the clean air and quiet streets they enjoyed throughout the Games.The new rules are expected to take some 800,000 cars off the road every day, according to the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications.