Thursday, November 26, 2015

Polarised world

What we are witnessing today is a our constant movement towards polarisation. The whole world is forming its own groups and fighting with the other group. There is "your religion" vs " my religion group" , there is "liberals" vs "conservative" group , there "straight" vs "LGBT" group , there is "Humans" vs "Nature supporter" group , there is "Humans" vs" Animals supporter" group , there is "East" vs "West" group , there "White" vs"Black,Brown etc.." group . In our country we have something like this:
"Your caste" vs "My caste"
"Northies" vs "Southeis"
"North-East" vs  " Rest of India"
"Modi" vs "Anti-Modi"
"Bollywood stars" vs "Social-media group"

The list is never -ending. What is the surprising part is that everybody will belong to every group! Even if we don't people around you will make sure that you take sides. If we draw a venn diagram of the above then we will find something like this :

How do you feel seeing this diagram?  Confused? Frustrated?   Well this is how I am feeling right now? 
What have we all turned to?  Everyday we are all pushing ourselves away from few good virtues which can save this humanity right now.  The moral stories we learnt through Panchatantra, Jataka tales seem stupid right now but they are what we need . We need our moral virtues back. We need  virtues like helping others in need, treating others with humility and being good.
The need of the hour is that we all STOP expressing ourselves and START LISTENING to others.  Start treating others with compassion, show empathy , try to do some good. If the other person is not willing to take your compassion then it his bad luck. Dont get polarised with that. Stick to your virtues always. Be persistent like Gandhi , who stuck to his non-violent vision for almost 50 years!  Dont get carried away by "instant-high" gratifications . Dont get swayed by polarised world and most importantly dont lose hope! If nothing works , just keep doing your duty and fulfill everything that is required for your loved ones. This is enough. There is no need to change the society. At least you wont be tarnishing it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Eternal Fight for woman

Woman had always to fight and she is continuing to do so. Unfortunately ,  I feel , the fight in olden days was with the society. Now the conflict is with herself! In olden times , the pattern was set. Man worked, woman stayed at home and took care of the house and the kids. Please note these works cannot be avoided. They have to be done , if we want a family.  So till our mother's generation , it was natural that it was our own moms who opened the door when we came home. Nothing seemed wrong with that.  The thought that a mother should work never crossed her mind. She already thought her life was meaningful because she was taking care of the ENTIRE house. Not a easy task , right?

Then the trend changed , Western ideas made us realise that woman also should work like men . Our generation , did everything possible to study well and get placed into a good company. It all worked out till we got married and had children.

The one thing which never changed was , taking care of a kid is something ,STILL needs to be done. Even if we are earning lakhs per month.  A strong family support , who would offer to take care of the kid is a welcome decision. Even day care centres are there to help you with that option . A live in maid is another option we can consider. All these are there so that the needs of the child /baby can be taken care of , when both husband and wife can work peacefully at work without any tension . 

But there is another option as well. The option is that , either of the parent decides to QUIT his/her job, stay back home and decide to take care of the baby. Is something wrong with this option? The parents choose to be next to their child, whom they gave birth to and watch her grow. Give the child environment where values and outlook towards life is what they think of(after all the child is theirs) . Is something wrong with this option? The answer is no . 

BUT , why do people ask if they are "working" ? How do we define work anyway? What I can make of the question is , does your job pay?  Taking care of the house and kids doesn't pay. You are right. But is getting paid the only thing which can make a person independent? We never asked out mothers. But why now?  

Also I never ask anybody what they are upto in life in a judgmental way.  I wish everyone else also stopped. Each person in this world has different priorities in life, different aspirations, different ideologies, different idea about how to lead their lives.  And today , I may not go for a paid job, but tomorrow I may change my mind. It is going to be a decision , which my family will take and nobody else.If the family as a whole is able to do that symbiotically  then it is good for that family. Why should any outsider, article writers, woman empowerment ladies  tell me what I should do.

What the world needs desperately at the moment is PEACE. And that is what we all should work for. Whatever it takes. A peaceful family will automatically have a cumulative effect on the country and generate peace.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Five standouts from Hampi

Hampi is one place ,which has fascinated me for a long long time. I always wanted to visit it. Mainly because of my interest in historical places. But Hampi being the World Heritage site (UNESCO) made me feel even more inclined to visit it. After the visiting the place I can only say that I was stumped,bowled ,awestruck and enriched. What a PLACE!  The travel story of Hampi I would like to  write it in a separate piece. Here I would mention some standouts from the place which I found quiet unusual considering its rich history and monuments. 

1. The place is absolutely isolated and virginal : Yes, the world heritage site is isolated. The place is 4 km from Hospete , the main town nearest to Hampi. The civilization is quiet sparse and even the Hampi village is very small. And all this is a plus point! You will find yourself in between huge boulders of rocks and hillocks , with thousands of monuments scattered . You would be confused to figure out , where to start first. The ASI does make our life easier with the Hampi map(found everywhere!) . Using the map , you can navigate through Hampi like a treasure hunt in Amazing race contest.  But it is not so easy as you think. We need a guide to help us through the map and places.

2. The place is STILL NOT commercial: Yes , this I found shocking. Because in India , anything "touristy" is definitely a place for business.There are so many monuments in Hampi and yet there are no shops (not many at least) , apart from the cucumber  seller and ice-cream seller near them. The shopping street is not even 100 meters and the souvenirs are not remotely connected to Hampi. There are lots of dresses(which we can find all over India), jute bags(found everywhere)  and brass items. The only souvenir to take home were the Vijayanagara Empire's coins , which are collected from the basin of Tungabhadra river (when the water recedes during summer). No fridge magnets shaped like the chariots, no Virupaksha temple picture, no three headed Nandi statue. Nothing. Hampi could earn so much more but for some unknown reason it is not the case.
3. Food : Hampi is  visited by many foreign tourists as well as Indian tourists and yet the food options available is quiet meager.  We ate at a place called Mango Tree , where the meal was decent enough but nothing great to talk about. The eateries  are also very small. That's why I saw many families actually get their own food and eat on the lawns of Lotus Mahal or Queen's Bath! 

4.  The main transport is a auto or cycle !: In Hampi, the best transport used is cycle or auto. You can see whole of Hampi by hopping onto an auto and asking the driver to take you to places. You can easily get an auto driver's number at the Hospete bus stand.  There will be many touts eager to share their number. You choose one of them and call him wherever you are! The other way is by cycling. This is a favorite option for the foreign tourists(considering their fitness levels) . A map in hand, water and a cycle  and you are ready to conquer Hampi with two wheels and a pedal! The best part about cycling is , you can stop anywhere you want and take how much even time you want , to see the place. 

5.  You need a lifetime to understand and visit whole of Hampi: Yes , this is correct. Hampi is a civilization on its own. It is like exploring a city with thousands of landmarks. Every monument has its own story and its own identity.  You will not feel like leaving any one of them.  The monuments are so many that even ASI have given up. There are some monuments lying in neglect , hidden in some corner(like the Achuytaraya temple , Varaha temple)  and ASI has not done anything to highlight it. I don't blame them. They are simply too many. You will know what I mean when you visit Hampi. 

There are so many more , but whatever is the case, Hampi is one place I will always cherish. The guide told us one interesting thing. He told us that he always thanks the Vijayanagar empire because their foundation in stone in Hampi is still feeding the current generation's stomachs. What a profound truth indeed.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Unit 4: Journal Writing

 Module 1 : Writing Activity

I live in Bangalore , which is known as silicon valley of India, situated in South India's state of Karnataka. My husband , who is a software developer, moved to Bangalore around 1999. Because of its weather, it is also called as post retirement haven. The city , which is ideally situated on a higher plane,  has pleasant weather  throughout the year, making it a people friendly place. The place is full  of gardens , which are usually lush green , and parks. Although the river Cauvery is situated at a some distance , it still is used to supply water to whole of Bangalore. Because of these reasons , Bangalore is one of the best cities of India.

Module 2 : Writing activity .

My place , a beautiful garden city, does have its own disadvantages. My home , down south next to a highway,  is particularly prone to pollution and noise from traffic. Fully armored with mask , I have to leave my home to avoid the pollution .My eyes constantly looking out for errant traffic, tread carefully on the road.  My apartment facing the other side of the road, thankfully escapes the pollution to a large extent. Crossing the highway is another headache. To cross the road, I have to wait almost ten minutes. Exhausted by this entire process, I sometimes avoid going out entirely. Going at this rate, I may soon start suffering from Vitamin D deficiency :).

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unit 3 Journal writing

Module 1 : Writing Subjects
1. Gayatri went to the shopping mall today.

2. Shopping is one activity she enjoys.

3.  To walk in a shopping mall is a therapeutic activity for most of them.

4. Louis Vutton store is also  part of the mall.

5. Children love playing in  a mall.

1. . She shopped for handbag in a shop.

2..  Everyone  especially woman love shopping.

3.  Who doesn't want to buy new clothes?

Module 2 : Writing action verbs

1. I shopped to hear's content.

2. The kids ran here and there in the mall.

3. The shops glittered with lights.

4. The escalator rode  quite fast.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

FountainHead - Over my head

As a literature student and a general reader , I had heard a lot about FountainHead.  All the bigshots of the world had this single book as their favorite. To quench my thirst I decided to buy the book and keep it in my bookshelf.  I was so damn intimidated by its sheer size that I refused to touch it! After ten years of buying the book  I finally mustered the courage to read the book.

I truly enjoyed the first few chapters. Howard Stoark really impressed me. Here was a man who knew everything ! He was like God. He was indifferent to everybody . He chose his college, he chose whom he will work for and he decided what he will build.  He wanted a client who will listen to HIM. The client has to live in the house Howard builds.  There are no two ways about it.

There is of course the second character , Peter Keating. He will do anything to go on the top. He will listen to people and build a house according to the client's needs. He will agree to work under a person (Francon) so that he can climb up the ladder. He will even kill a person to claim stake in the company. He will two time his girlfriend  and be oh-so-cool about it. The girlfriend is like doormat who is ok  with everything. She is ok if Peter doesnt visit her for months. She is ok if he agrees to marry her and then says that he wont marry her. She is OK with EVERYTHING! She doesn;t get angry at all!

Then there is a uncle of the girl Elsworth Toohey . He is supposed to represent socialism . He abhors individual success but wants the society to flourish on its own. He hates Howard and loves Peter. He loves his neice a lot. When it comes to his neice he is quite an individual.  He doesn't let her do anything she wants. He forces her to work for him and denies her the permission to go to college.

Then there is the great character Dominique Francon. She doesn't like society apparently. She talks in a mysterious way. And every damn man loves her. Every man proposes to her. She refuses each one of them . She apparently doesn;t feel anything for anybody and even uses all the men to her advantage. She uses everything part of society and refuses to acknowledge anything. Because she is Dominique , born with silver spoon and with lots lots lots of money. She has so much money that she goes for a retreat is Pittsburg (ancestral property) and lives with servants all around her to to take care of her.

After going through such polarised characters , I wondered where this story was going to . Then BOOM, It happens. Our Dominique meets the man of her dreams in a quarry(none other than Howard) . She falls for his muscles and body. They stare at each other. And before they have exchanged a hello, he comes to her at night and forces himself physically on her. And she LOVES it!.She wants it even more. He does the deed and leaves and she is purely satisfied that he is SATISFIED. What generosity.  He leaves and goes back to New York without informing her. He is an individual you see. She doesn't mind it . Because she is an individual too.

Howard finally gets work , oops sorry , finds someone who will let him work for  and gets a contract (Enright house) . Ms Francon meets Howard there again . They act as if they dont know each other(This is normal behaviour) . And in the night , she goes to his place and sleeps with him again. In the morning she does everything to malign Howard(through her News paper articles).  WHY ?  Even I dont know the answer. But Howard and Dominique know.  Because they know everything! Howard keeps saying this ("I know")  to everybody who tells him something.  How does he know everything? He KNOWS.  

Meanwhile our Dominique flirts with Peter and uses him thoroughly. You see she wants to destroy Howard , so she praises Peter to heights so that world notices Peter and hates Howard. Ms Dominique thinks she is the only one who is playing this brilliant game. How she underestimates the world!

Even Elsworth Toohey hates Howard. So he joins with Ms Francon to destroy him. Ms Francon meanwhile continues play Ms Hyde at night. Toohey makes Howard build a temple of humanity through his friend. Howard poor fellow, for the first time doesn;t KNOW. He hires a sculptor by name Steve Mallory and builds the temple. Ms Francon poses nude for the statue to be built in the temple. This is done at night . So NOBODY from the press can ever find that Howard and Ms Francon are having an affair. They are smarter than British Spies. The temple is built and Toohey in his article rejects the temple as an insult to religion!   There is a court case and Howard loses it but stands by his work. Ms Francon , who still wants to act(God knows why) gives a testimony against Howard during the trial.

Ms Francon is so upset that she goes to Peter Keating and asks him to marry her. She even tells him that , it is his last chance to HAVE HER. Peter has no choice(or did he have?)  but to marry her. That too on her terms. Ms Francon marries the puppy sorry Peter and as soon as the marriage is done , she goes to Howard to sleep with him again.  He sleeps . And afterwards she tells him that she has married Peter. Howard offers to marry her if she can take a annulment( so these two great people belive in marriage now???? when they can live-in?) . She says no(dont ask me Why, even I dont know) and goes back to Peter. Howard says that he will wait for her! Why wait dear? She will come to you even if she is married. !

After this , I STOPPED reading the book. I was so disgusted by Howard, felt so pukish when I thought of Ms Francon' character that I couldn't go on further!.

I do not want to Judge anybody  but such inconsistencies in characters? One moment you give lectures on society ,hating society and then you use the same society to the hilt(Ms Francon).
You talk about individualism , work , about not taking help from anyone and yet you dont respect others individualism?  You build a house where YOU would live in with other's expenses?  You force yourself on women and walk away without regret? You should be jailed for it( Mr Howard).

I am sorry , I think I am not so strong hearted to read the book. I saw somewhere in a review that Ms Francon marries Gail Wynad (leaving Peter, thank God) and leaves him and fianlly marries Howard. What mockery of institution of marriage.  What a mockery of lower classes.  What a mockery of colleges.

The dialogues are also told as if the main characters know everything. This is sickening. Howard is NOT GOD.  He is a human and yet he makes humans look so small through his talk, work.

Sorry , I dont think I will every complete the book.

Monday, March 30, 2015

World Cup 2015 : Australia vs Rest of the world

Another world cup comes to an end.  Except six matches all the matches were one sided. The domination coming from the bat. But if you see at the end, the real winners were bowlers! The team which bowled well (batting is expected thanks to the batting tracks) finally won the world cup.  The whole Australian win can be summed up in two names which sound the same. Yes you got it, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Jhonson.  Pakistan had the bowlers who could swing but unfortunately their team doesn't work in unision.   The rest of the teams showed bowling brilliance in spurts but not consistently. Tim Southee , Trent Boult  performed well but did not perform on the most crucial day!

Mitchell Starc had come with a plan for Brendon and boom ! Executed to perfection!  Captains can make thousand plans, it is the players who need to execute the plan. Starc rose to the occasion many times and saved Australia. Even in the match against NZ in knock out stage , it was Starc who gave Australia a glimmer of hope to win (Their batsmen had failed!) . Hats off to him.  Congrats to team Australia , they have shown to the world that it is planning , execution which matters. Extreme passion for the game wont help unless you perform on the field with precision.

In NZ and SA match , that is what seemed to happen. SA seemed to be all over the place in the last ten overs. They missed all their golden chances , thanks to their fixation with the result. If they had just given merit to each moment of the game instead of thinking of the result , it would have been good.  But one thing is for sure, there was not one person in the world who would not have cried seeing AB, Morkel cry. They deserved better :(.

In India and Australia match , it was totally one -sided. What shocked me was not that India lost. But with the way India went about the whole game. They  seemed to have resigned to fate the moment the toss was won by Australia. They way they chased the target was very poor. Dhon1 was the only man left whom India could rely on. First the bowlers disappointed him and next the batsmen .  But of course India should be given credit for performing well throughout the tournament , given that they had lost a test series, tri series in the same conditions.  I only wish they had tried harder in terms of planning etc. Maybe they did and could not execute it.  But Team India , you made us proud :)

All in all , the world cup was good.  Till next time then . In the British Isles.

Here is a link to make you laugh( It is unrealtimes)

Monday, March 09, 2015

The last day

Another semester ends. Another batch moves on.  Sigh!  But at the end of it all , I feel as if I could have done much better . But it was difficult for me to get myself motivated because my students were not so into the subject. Which is ok because not everyone gets moved by literature. But here are my observations(no judgement) of my experiences with the current student generation.

  • Students are  constantly distracted by their phones that they hardly listen to the class. Which reduces their productivity by half. Because of which their attention span is only half an hour.
  • Once the students get used to scoring low marks , they continue the trend with a resigned attitude. 
  • All the students just aim for pass marks and nothing higher than that! 
  • The only motivating factor for  the students to attend the classes is attendance percentage. 
  • Sometimes company of friends may distract you to no end. It is better to stay away from such company.
  • They  write assignments sorry copy assignments. Clearly assignments is futile concept . Why not adopt innovative teaching methods?
  • All the students lose continuity of the classes because they attend one class and dont come the next class.
  • Testing them only makes them run away more college . They DO NOT want to be tested.
  •  Even if they attend the test , they are totally OK with giving away blank sheets. How is this possible.
  • I tried open book test. Even that failed.
  • Even if they are interested in the class , it need not translate to marks.

What students really want.
  • I feel students want more chance of expressing themselves in the class.
  • If the class is one way they tend to lost interest.
  • They want more media .
  • They are interested in innovative methods of teaching.(at least it catches their attention)

All in all for me some students made all the difference. They came up with such lovely ideas and thoughts that I was bowled and believed that India is in safe hands. 

I wish them all the best! Our education system needs a re-visit. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

God of Small Things

I finally read Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things".  The book was very very engaging although it was going back and forth in time. And Roy doesnt inform us which time zone she is in. Which is Ok. Because this switching back and forth created some sort of suspense and building of a crescendo for the reader to look forward to. They keep talking about the "incident". We dont know what. We know that. this "incident" caused  the death of a small girl Sophie. It is her funeral the story starts with . 

The story itself runs on the multiple themes. Roy jam packs mutiple problems ( We face in Indian society) into  one single book and she is quiet successful in pushing her thoughts across to the readers. The first theme she  has worked on is the rules of Love. According to her Love does not know whom to love and how much to love. Love just loves.  This love she shows between the twins and  their mom's love for Velutha.  Rahel and Esthappen are nonidentical twins  and their mom Ammu is a rebel.   Velutha belongs to a so-called lower caste and Ammu a Syrian Christian.  They both fall in love and consequence of which the little girl Sophie faces.  Sophie is Ammu's brother's daughter.  Ammu's brother Chacko and Baby Kochamma(Ammu's aunt) blame Ammu and her kids for their recklessness and indirectly hold them responsible for Sophie's death.  

This scar remains with Esthappen for ever , so much that he never speaks again. Rahel feels lonely. Ammu dies. 

The final  scene is how the twins become one again through their consummation. They both assuage each others souls that way. 

The second theme is a political one with lots of communism in it . It typically depicts Kerala of of 1960s. How Velutha ( a communist) is not given any support when he needs by his own mentor is haunting. Velutha's fate is sealed with this act of his mentor.

The book has many descriptions. And I will be very honest here, I was not able to comprehend everything. I  would definitely want to know what Roy meant. 

Roy's depiction of Kerala is beautiful. I could constant feel the wetness of the rain and the back waters of Kerala :).

I also want to ask Roy one more question. Was consummation the only way for Esthappen to get peace? Was there no other way?  Did Ammu have to suffer so much? She was a rebel. She could have found another job and looked after her children well. Why listen to Baby Kochamma and "return" Estha?

All in all the book was a fine read. 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Few people I admire

There are some people whom I have always admired

First  is AR Rahman. His music is amazing no doubt. He is world class. But what makes him stand apart from the rest is his heart. What a human being he is. Wherever he goes he spreads love. His speeches are all about love and nothing else.  They are hardly about music. Somehow I feel , for him music just a medium to reach God. And when he composes music with such a good intention , only the best will come out .  He is always smiling, humble and most of all looks like a normal person. I never feel he is a star. He has won an Oscar(which we Indians feel is the benchmark for achievement)  and yet I never see any swagger in him . To see what I mean look at this video:

He  downplays the whole oscar thing and convinces us that music is great everywhere . He requests his fans not to abuse anybody nor spread hatred. What a man!

Second one is Sachin Tendulkar : His  farewell speech tells all about this little gentleman of cricket. Not once have  I seen him behave in a snooty way. His extraordinary work in helping the cancer patients shows what a great human he is . His simple , unassuming way of speaking has bowled me over. In his farewell speech, he makes sure to pass the message that he has not got there alone. He thanks all the important people of his life . Hats off Sachin. You  are indeed India's gem.

Third is Bill Gates. I mean that man never gives up! Whatever you say about Microsoft, it is still used extensively. And Bill Gates is the sole reason. But what is Bill Gates known for now. He has surpassed his previous entrepreneur skill to become the biggest philanthropist we know now. He is still relentlessly pursuing the Ebola virus spread and is spreading awareness all over the world. His silent visits to India (When media is reporting if Kim K's visa is approved or not) is a testimony of his honesty and genuineness.

I also admire the Army,Navy and Air Force who are protecting our country day and night. When we lose a loved one , we cant get over it for life. And yet when we hear the headlines like " three BSF jawans killed"  , for us it is merely a number. How callous of us. Each Jawan is a human being who had the guts to choose this profession and stand  at the border and protect our country. Each Jawan has a family. He has children too. But we downplay their lives so easily. Here is my respect to each and every one of them . Without you we are nothing.