Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jan 30, "Hey Ram!", 11 am, sounds of silence.

This morning the newspaper & I gently prompted the family to watch out for the 11 O'clock annual remembrance dedicated to martrys. Thanks to a local siren, the symbolic gesture of silence commenced. I paused even as I was setting the table for lunch. The elderly sat with bowed heads. Even the domestic help paused at mid-mop-swipe, albeit with a puzzled look.
The doorbell rang. The highway sounds heard through the window, unsubtle as they are, seemed harsher than usual.
After the call-off siren, I found a couple of power supply linesmen waiting patiently. I mildly enquired whether they had heard the sound of the siren and the reason for it. 'Remembering the Mahatma', they said, but followed that with 'we are responding to electrical emergencies'. They were on duty, after all...
I remember a short story based on the couple of minutes' silence observed on Armistice Day. At the dock in Dover, a customs official could finally place the law's hands on a slippery smuggler; merrily ticking watches, a few hundred of them making up the contraband tucked somewhere in a car, gave themselves away. (Doubtless, the ticking must have sounded loudest to our man's ears, during the public show of reverence to WWI martyrs).
I look forward to the day when all Indians come to a standstill for those couple of minutes whether they are in public places, lush offices, or at home. Would that I had a magic wand that waved everyone to stillness, including the traffic! Just a symbolic gesture?
Remember the GreatSoul, do...Picture sourced from The Hindu

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Friday, January 25, 2008

When will we be a truly "physically healthy and morally decent species"?

Ramachandra Guha's 'India After Gandhi: The History of The World's Largest Democracy' is conducting me through a scholarly voyage inside an independent, 'Unnatural Nation'. As I turn the pages over, I am mindful that my generation is sandwiched between one that was inspired by the likes of Gandhiji and Subramanya Bharati, and another to whom Indian history, whether pre- or post- 1947, is a few pages long every year, or attractively packaged half-hour programs.
When I started to read the book in September, I could not move past the first several sections (on Freedom, on the tragedy of partition, and on the birth of the Republic) without being emotionally touched. After getting used to the style and sequence of the content, I now read with toughts of 'if only...' and 'could have been...' scenarios.
This morning I reached page 223 and read Mira Behn's words of 1949: "The tragedy of today is that educated and moneyed classes are altogether out of touch with the vital fundamentals of existence - our Mother Earth, and the animal and vegetable population which she sustains. This world of Nature's planning is ruthlessly plundered, despoiled and disorganized, by man whenever he gets the chance. By his science and machinery he may get huge returns for a time, but ultimately will come desolation. We have got to study Nature's balance, and develop our lives within her laws, if we are to survive as a physically healthy and morally decent species."
These words were written in the context of ambitious industrialization, dam building, and several other 'concrete' measures aimed at giving an impetus to economic growth.
If at that time even the educated elite didn't find the wisdom to heed those words, where are we headed now? The critisism applies equally well now, to all the world's citizens, as it did then.
I am now proceeding to read why the uniform civil code never came about despite being articled in the Constitution.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

The Chalakudy river in pictures

I had intended to post 'then and now' pictures of the river and the ambience there.
Here they are. (The top three are pics taken in Jan 2008)1. Upriver as it looks now: The view when we get down the steps from the house. (Athirappilly Falls is about 35 km east from this point, by road). It's heartening to see sand deposits building up again, but illegal mining continues under cover of darkness...2. Downriver as it looks now: You can see blue and green upto the next bend.
3. Across the river: Friendly kids out at play4. Six years ago in Aug 2001: Almost a private beach and sands to play on...5. Ten years ago in Aug 1997: There was real beach, where bare legs waded comfortably into shallow water.
Now 'kuzhis' - pits - under water do not let bathers get in confidently. Where once a person could stand at the centre of the river with head out of water, now only confident swimmers can venture, but cannot tread...

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

At the Cantonment Railway Station in Bangalore...

...a series of flat panel TV's greet the waiting passenger. If you are tapping your heels while looking up and down and across the platform, you are bound to go through several sequences of repeated ads, helpful messages from the Indian Railways, pictures of popular tourist spots and some other clips.

One filler that plays out for just over a minute and a half is a real stress buster. Watch it, do, you will find yourself joining the 'artist' happily!
The video clip begins with a message in Swedish, that means "could this be funnier?"
Now if that isn't the right panacea for passengers waiting for delayed, further delayed, and rather unusually delayed trains! (I waited for over 2 hours for a south-bound train).
Whoever planned the content knew his (her) job...
Am I glad I found it on YouTube.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Aamir Khan, you are a sun-among-Taare, Zameen Par!

We started the New Year on an adorably humane note. That's how I'd sum up Aamir's latest offering. Why don't more directors go the Aamir way...showcasing real issues that are comfortably seen together by whole families? Only then would we be able to compare equals...

I have tried to list some of the very good aspects of the movie here
- Aamir's dialogues (despite Aamir's entry rather well into the film)
- The lyrics (& music), and the volumes of meaning that Aamir has attempted to convey through each song sequence.
- The blossoming of interaction between Darsheel & Aamir
- The support cast: who have done just that, and very well too.

And if you have seen the movie, I bet you felt neither ashamed nor sheepish about your wet eyes...

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