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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

KNOWLEDGE EMPOWERS




                                               
K is for Knowledge
How often do we hear the words “Knowledge is Power”? However, the one who made this seminal statement was Francis Bacon the 16th century essayist. The concept underlying this assertion has generated  deep resonance in thinking minds all along. Ironically, most of us don’t care to mull over the significance of these words which can be life changing.

What does knowledge mean? In simple words, knowledge is what you have imbibed through study, observation, traveling and interaction with different types of people in the course of your life.

In the present times however, internet has acquired the status of a magical wand possessing a colossal reservoir of knowledge at a click away. You marvel at your luck to be around at such a period of history, where internet is the unique wizard and leaves the likes of Harry Potter much behind. In fact, every literate person with internet connectivity has legendary Aladdin‘s lamp at his disposal. Internet opens doors and windows of information to help you explore the depths of the micro world and the expanse of the macro world. Here you go for any topic and lo and behold, the fairy tale treasures of knowledge present their pearls for you to make a pick.

For knowledge to happen good education is fundamental. It feeds imagination and intellect. It enables you to be informed about things, which were never in the radar of your mind scape.  The learning ability empowers you to understand and cope with life situations, think maturely and decide options freely. The awareness which only education imparts, allows you to weigh the multiple choices you have to steer your life. Moreover, the knowledge, acquired by you, is your power with which to influence others and it results in the cycling of information from one to the other. This is how knowledge multiplies.

Education is a prerequisite for success in any field under the sun. In under developed countries people’s participation in the affairs of their nations is possible only if awareness of world is assimilated via relevant education. In this regard, social networking sites are playing a major role in exchange of information, mobilizing people for concerted actions, highlighting causes and enlightening people about their rights and responsibilities.

Knowledge fuels social movements. The surge of Arab spring protests that jolted the entrenched regimes in those countries is the case in point. Wall Street demonstrations in New York against social and economic inequality are an example too.  

In the overpopulated counties like India, educating women shall be able to have control over their bodies, in the sense that they can restrict the number and manage the spacing of their children. Literacy will enable them to take recourse to family planning measures and have better information about nutrition and health issues.

The idea of self-knowledge in improving your chances of a more purposeful life needs attention. No wonder Socrates said, “Know thyself” and much before that Hindu scriptures critiqued the quest for self-knowledge. The desire to ‘know thyself’ is timeless. However, to achieve it is as difficult as it is easy to spell.

The upside is that even the plain consciousness of the need for such knowledge spurs you to make inroads to understand your personality.  In the process, your strengths, abilities, core beliefs and your limitations, which form a part of the knotted jungle within you, take shape as separate entities for you to explore dispassionately. The knowledge of the self will enhance your capacities for self-improvement and service to others. The freshly roused voice inside you will balk at the violation of your personal values at your work place or in numerous other situations in life. The approach boosts self-confidence and cements the validity of the ethics as a way of life.

Plato the Greek philosopher opined that the essence of knowledge is self-knowledge. Yet to deconstruct the psychic layers of the complex human mind is beyond any mortal being. Moreover, this universal search for decoding the mystery of the self has gone on through ages and will continue.

" ......To know the thoughts and deeds that have marked man's progress is to feel the great heartthrobs of humanity through the centuries......"  Helen Keller

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

HI JANUARY!



J is for January.
Ancient Roman God Janus.Image courtesy Google
Who does not want to be the first: be it in academics, sports, or any other field?  The month of January has the wonderful distinction of topping the list of the mighty yearly calendar. It is thus lucky and highly honored the day it heralds itself on the stage of time. The fabulous element is that the whole universe is one in welcoming and celebrating its arrival.

The world has umpteen man made boundaries, but the spirit of exuberance and enjoyment at the dawn of New Year displays the same exciting intensity everywhere. People greet each other warmly and usher 1 January with great pomp and show. In fact, as the clock strikes 12 at night, the celebrations begin with bursting of crackers and display of fireworks by the young. People dance and make merry until the wee hours of the morning and host parties or arrange special community assemblies and dine in hotels and restaurants later in the day. For a couple of days January struts around head held high with colorful plumes tucked in its stylish coiffure.

The month of January, interestingly carries an imposing personality and dares to stand out. It holds itself as a jewel in the firmament of the yearly directory.

This apart, January has deep symbolism attached to it to make its persona remarkable with conceptual undercurrents. It derives its name from the two faced Roman God Janus representing ‘exits and entrances’. He had the ability to look forward and backward at the same time. Accordingly, it had both hindsight and fore sight and could reflect about the past and envisage the future.

The idea of the myth,  juxtaposes seamlessly with the nature of our existence on this earth. As is evident, human animal is not here for breaking bread alone but for a much higher purpose. For this, the individual has to have evolving consciousness and the month of January offers ample chance to imbibe that understanding. It entails reflecting on the time gone by and envisioning the time yet to come while positioned equal distance from both. The mechanism is like fusing of the experiences with the vision of the future in a single uninterrupted mental exercise. It means taking measures for improving the future and discarding cynicism, inaction and brooding, which prevented us from utilizing the possibilities of our existence.

Along with this January provokes an ‘inner pilgrimage’. It calls for the need of sustained vigilance so that our pledged personal manifesto stays on track. However, we need to keep striving, shedding negativism and doubts on the way.  The path of pure life is cobbled; however, sincerity of purpose works wonders.

January writes a new chapter of our life. It structures a plot a subplot and unexpected situations and circumstances, which unravel as the time passes. Thus, uncertainties challenge us without letup starting from January.

Though, you take up some personal challenges also. It may be renovating your house, following some exercise regime, or shifting to healthy eating habits, planning some traveling flings or reading good books for pleasure and inspiration, sprucing up your garden or starting to write a book, which has been nestling inside you for years. You do all this arithmetic in your head and succeed in achieving some. Human as we are, we propose but success lies in God’s hands.

In North India January is the coldest month. It is perceived to be long because of its bone chilling weather conditions. The days in January alternate between sweetly sunny and depressingly foggy.  Oddly, foggy days allow you to snuggle in the quilt with your favorite book and munch winter goodies sans disturbance.

Friends: comments  are always welcome!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

MY INDIA



I is for India
Image Internet
India is my beautiful country. Under its blessed blue canopy, I had a wonderful childhood in the loving laps of my parents and grandparents and  a heavenly time playing all sorts of games with my school friends and neighborhood children. My growing up years was a saga of surprises emerging on their own in my little world. 

My adolescence was more stimulating. We classmates indulged frequently in gossip sessions, sharing the intriguing and thrilling information overheard in bits and pieces. Fears, raw secrets, anxieties, mystery of wild rush of hormones and many other disquieting sensations , troubling young impressionable minds  were common topics of conversation.

I grew up and realized that India had a soft corner for me. It provided all the avenues to educate me. My adulthood took me to the corridors of learning. Higher education via college and university matured my thinking and instilled in me a sense of proportion and confidence to take up teaching as a profession. That was a momentous period of great awakening and serious responsibilities as a lecturer at a college and a homemaker at home. Interaction with young minds and colleagues was most fulfilling and nothing less than life changing. For more than three decades, India blessed me with the capability to impart to the young the ability to acquire knowledge and step into the world to make a difference to their own and others’ lives by dreaming big.

Now I'm free and  travel often. However, I may travel to any gorgeous place in the world but feel homesick soon enough. When I return and unlock my house the words ‘home sweet home’ flow out naturally.

My country’s cycle of seasons is incomparable. However, summers are nasty but monsoon rains feel like nectar from heaven. The cool, moist breeze after suffocating summers takes you for a ride on the proverbial cloud nine. During winters, the golden sunshine warms your limbs and promotes their functionality. The sunny and languid afternoons relax the mind and body. To cap it all, winters stand for the endowment of plentiful fresh, green vegetables, citrus fruit and loads of papaya. Spring ushers in riot of color, pleasantly blowing zephyr wafting vitalizing fragrance of flora in its youthful splendor.

India is a vibrant democracy with a unique blend of federalism. In spite of mind boggling variety of cultures, traditions, festivals, religious practices, languages, physical attributes, dress code, eating habits et al, India is a homogeneous nation state, encompassing all differences in its sacred fold.

In the political scene now, India is passing through a very challenging phase. General Elections to elect representatives for Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament) are scheduled for April 2014. The fiercest election campaigning by plethora of political parties is going on to woo the voters by fair means or foul. 

For the last  many years, our country has been facing a surfeit of problems but no redress. The pernicious practice of vote bank politics has blinded the politicians to think of the good of the country. They simply wish to grab power. Forgetting how to walk the talk, they’ve lost all credibility. I hope that minority communities who were hoodwinked all along have understood that they were taken for a ride and made a fool of repeatedly. Either by false promises or by creating nonexistent bogeys or by offering hopeless reservation carrots, they had actually been isolated from the mainstream and made more dependent on the insignificant doles. 

India is a country of saints, sages, holy books, holy rivers, sacred places for pilgrimages, classical music, amazing dance forms, great literary traditions, superb theatrical performances, fine arts, crafts and much more.

All said and done there are palpable signs of the revival of keen interest in the political set-up by the citizenry. Sparks of enthusiasm auger well for the country.

Friends, pl. leave a comment.


Monday, March 3, 2014

HEIRLOOMS




 H is for heirlooms
Pair of jugs,the lace, small bowl and the lace centerpiece. All about 85 years old.BTW I designed the cushions behind.

Heirlooms are antique artifacts, furniture items, furnishings, fancy upholstery, exquisitely crafted decorative articles, kitchen relics and many more cherished family treasures that pass from generation to generation as a way of inheritance. Sometimes such items are of great historical significance, monetary value and are a gateway for revisiting a family’s history.   

They’re a link to our ancestry and fountain of many enlightening tales about our parents' early days and our grandparents' times. If one happens to inherit a few such objects one can be proud owner of a mini museum bonding us to the past. In fact, through these legacies, past, present and future co-exist in a linear unbreakable bond. There is never an absolute break. Heirlooms take us back in time forming a fascinating cradle of oral history lessons thereby familiarizing us with the origin of our cultural traditions, rituals, festivals associated with our parentage.


However, taking proper care of these vintage materials entails effort, yet there is a tacit pride and sense of sentimental belonging, which they evoke with our lineage that is precious.


I consider myself lucky to possess a few entities, which I’ll refer to here.


My mother belonged to a well to do land owning family and received rich gifts as part of her dowry. Since no body was aware of the importance of those valuables, over time, either they were misplaced or sold, being considered old fashioned.  Out of the few I got there are two brass jugs (shown above) purchased by my maternal grandpa, I think around 1920 and gifted to my mom at her marriage. I recall, when I was small my mother used to pour water in our tumblers from that brass jug at dinnertime.  My other memory is that later, a glass jug took its place and my mom demoted it to the upper shelf of the kitchen cabinet. Then there was a circular small brass bowl. Its bottom displays my grandpa’s name carved in Urdu language. It was the youngest sibling’s privilege to have his vegetable dish in that. 

Whenever I look at the jugs, my grandparents images float in my mind scape picturing an  old man of medium stature with a lean frame but large glazing eyes and pearly teeth cracking jokes and playing games with us. My grandma was totally opposite in personality attributes. She was blue-eyed, very fair, tall, strong and  practical. Both of them were the epitome of the purest of the pure love. We their daughter’s children were special for them and they would go out of their way to do our bidding to please us.

During those tender years, we were selfish and took them as ours hundred percent They were sort of our altar ego. In the evenings I'd insist on going with grandma to see her milking the buffalo and the cow at a distance of half a mile; where there was a large shed and a room for the cattle including two pairs of oxen and the farm hand who looked after them. I’d watch raptly grandma pressing the teats and milk came out in thin streaks. One day it so happened that the cow suddenly swept its tail over her body, presumably to drive away flies or some stinging insect, moved her legs, and disturbed grandma so that half the milk was spilled.

On my repeated tantrums, she allowed me one day to sit on a low stool and try my hand at squeezing the teats.  Fearfully I did it and failed. Our short visits were always exploratory, mirthful and educative in the ways of the village life. I can go on and on with the reservoir of cherished memories I treasure in my sub conscious.


I lovingly preserve a fabulously crocheted lace centerpiece, done by my  mother in her young days. After some restoration work, I use it for special occasions.


There is also a beautiful lace I've about three meters long. More than eighty-five years ago, dear mother did it for sewing it on to a mantelpiece. I wonder how she could muster such patience to crochet that superbly looking lace in white cotton thread.Polyester thread came much later.


There are few other objects, which I inherited but that would be the subject matter of a new post some other time.

Friends what do you think of the post? Pl.share.