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...)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gender Balance - When?

I am no women's lib advocate or activist, neither am I a fanatic feminist. I simply believe that in matters of home and house the husband (father) and the wife (mother) can and should seamlessly ease into the one another's role whenever the need arises.
So I read with interest a very well-written piece in Deccan Herald "The Story so Far", which was forwarded to me by several persons - a banking professional cousin, a mother of two, a dutiful daughter-in-law, an understanding daughter, and a patiently tolerant wife - all rolled into one, (of course!).
The story depicts, very precisely, the typical urban household where the lady pursues a career and manages the home, with nil / half-hearted / reluctant / whole-hearted participation from her life partner (The degree of participation being directly proportional to her good luck).
I quote this line from the article: "It will take time, possibly a few more generations, for the equation to get balanced".
Here is the gist of the messages that we exchanged:
"If You get Deccan Herald read the supplement 'Living'. The first story sounds so familiar"
"Thanks, Just did. Well said! Does that mean we will need 'several rebirths' before we can hope for balance? :("
"Seems so!"
"And that's assuming all are in the 21st century. Some Adams are still.....Adams?"
"...and will always be"

I welcome inputs from evolved Adams and Eves.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Arthur C Clarke's wishes

In December 2007, "marking his 90th orbit of the sun" Sir Arthur expressed three wishes: to see some evidence of alien life, to see "us kick our current addiction to oil and adopt clean energy sources", and finally, peace in his adopted nation.
Continued research on ET's and UFO's may find success sooner or later. Political sanity is the likely solution for Wish No 3.

And for wish No 2? That will require a combination of continued research (into alternate, green energy sources), and exemplary political sanity (including wisdom and will) to reduce our addiction to 'black' fossil fuels. If only, as a visionary, he had given us an indication of things to come, just as he had predicted the use of geosynchronous orbit.
RIP, Sir Arthur. The rest of us will live in hope, and try to live by the message of another environmental visionary Jacques Cousteau - "If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith and we have hope, and we can work".


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vishnu Sahasranamam download

I had earlier posted The Power of Vishnu Sahasranamam. Since then I came across Prof Shivkumar Kalyanaraman's webpage, and he offers a stupendous variety of (carnatic) music resources. You can download Smt MS Subbalakshmi's Vishnu Sahasranamam here, and acknowledge Prof Shivkumar's efforts here. Salutations to the Supreme!

28 Aug 2012: Here are updates to some links above
Prof Shivkumar Kalyanaraman's webpage is now Shivkumar.org and Vishnu Sahasranamam is the link to the audio. Please acknowledge the efforts of this source as directed in feedback.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Of white peoples' machinations and understanding our history

By some coincidence, I came across perspectives on something related to Indian history, from three different sources - the regular morning paper, a quite unrelated Google search, and an e-mail forward.
The Hindu newspaper carries an author's thoughts about whites versus natives, in The aboriginal butterfly. Just as external 'help' harms a pupa from becoming a perfectly beautiful winged creature, so also, white peoples' machinations on (Australian) natives (how they 'teach the ways of the fair-complexioned') have permanently harmed the locals, by breaking the 'rules of natural existence and adaptation'.
An unrelated Net search brought me to Francois Gautier's work 'Rewriting Indian History' (you can read the complete book below too). Coming as this result did in the wake of the above newspaper article, I was struck anew by the blatant machinations of the whites here, at 'home'.
[Here's another powerful message from the same journalist - 'India's self-denial'].
An e-mail forward brought me a slideshow on the world's religions, offered by Maps of War:::Visual History of War, Religion and Government. Does my generation have the wherewithal to unlearn, rewrite and relearn Indian history? Certainly we do, and on us lies the onus of imparting the right attitude to Gen X, Gen Y and posterity.
One dedicated researcher I know who tirelessly does just that is DK Hari of Bharath Gyan who continues to collate 'specific, scientific knowledge of India' and presents it 'the way it is'. Let more of us try to seek the right knowledge.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rafting down the Brahmaputra - a travelogue from pre-blog days

Once upon a time - in a previous century, an earlier avatar, I found myself at Leh, on the Indus, enrolled for a (whitewater) river-rafting course. [Why whitewater? Learn about river rapids here]. And another on the Ganges at Rishkesh, a year later. And very soon - "You are the first Indian woman to raft down the Brahmaputra!"..exclaimed a colleague. Not possible...arguable, I said. Who cared? There was the Brahmaputra, and there were the set of six rafts and a couple of kayaks, and all around me were the team of 21 Americans and 5 Air Force colleagues.
The mission? A self-contained, 12-day, 110+ km, self-contained Indo-US whitewater expedition on the Brahmaputra from Tuting to Pasighat. Team leader JB had a motley crowd of first and old timers to shepherd around, so did his Indian counterpart Sqn Ldr TS. Me? Oh a veteran with a vast experience of 4 days on the Indus at Leh a summer ago, and another 4 days on the Ganges at Shivpuri as a warm up for the expedition.

(All this was 13 years ago, I intend taking swimming lessons very soon).
The equipment (rafts, tents, cooking) was provided by AK's Mercury Himalayan explorations; his team had a Kashmiri cook and two more raft guides.

The schedule: Set off early from Tuting on Day 1, traverse the Upper Siang till about 2 pm, then pull out at a convenient beach, camp the night and set off next morn, till on Day 12, we reach Pasighat around mid-morn. (The schedule reads similar to the day by day itinerary given here).

Our low-budget red-coloured wet suits consisted of pants & jackets. (Every morning after the first spray from a good white water stretch, we got used to feeling wet and cold, and would spot-jog or munch on peanut candy to keep warm),

We had windy days when tents were uprooted; then there was some hard work portaging, or heaving, but there were intangible rewards too... a view of lovely golden showers at Yembung, pristine white sands, water, water everywhere...

What a welcome we got at Pasighat!

And it felt very nice to call long-distance to Chennai to convey kushal-mangal. Get chance, will go back!

[I had put this in Swarna's travel jottings, but I felt that it was languishing there. That's the place I visit often when I notice the travel bug peeping out of my camp kit and patiently asks for a bite, and I turn the other way...]

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Friday, March 07, 2008

A tribute in appreciation to our garden companions...

We are 'nomads', we move with our stuff every couple of years once marching orders reach us. Nature appreciators like me probably prefer this kind of campus life, mainly for the comfortable green ambience and the minimal traffic. And best of all are the winged creatures who make the huge banyan trees their home. Come 6 of the evening, you can hear their symphony at a decibel that blissfully drowns highway sounds - a different concert everyday at that!
See what we will be 'carrying' from our front and backyards when we leave this place later this year... I invite you to help yourself too!


Monday, March 03, 2008

A tree that offers shade - and shades

You can see this tree when you visit the Amaravathinagar Dam.
Try naming the shades of green, do.


(Why) Should we fast-forward so?

One minute is 60-seconds long, isn't it? Not any more...not since we let technology rule our world. Days seem short, years speed by. And more often than not, by habit, or as a convenient excuse we shamelessly say 'I don't have time', when we actually mean 'Quality time? What's that?'
Why do we insist on fast-forwarding into the future? Taking our kids along (sometimes letting them lead us) as we hurtle headlong into next year, next decade? No one seems to talk of leisure, actual 'free time' is still consumed by the likes of the internet and the tv, and not by a good book, or by simply doing nothing while grey cells get a chance to refresh themselves.
What is wrong with slowing down - so that we age at a graceful pace, and let our kids be just kids for a good number of years? Seen the Snoopy sequence titled 'How did one survive' (pps)? Those are the kind of days that kids anywhere in the world need to remember, and not regret.
Perhaps we are staunch followers of Kabir. (kal kare so Aaj kar, Aaj kare so Ab, Pal Mein Pralaya Hoyegi, Bahuri Karoge Kub). The pralaya too, will be man-made, and brought on too soon for our own good.
I thought of some recipes for slowing down. My pesonal, proven one - a weekend at home in a village, where the cable has not reached yet, the cell-phone picks up only at a certain West-Northwest corner, one can do without transportation, one can run down barefoot to the river-banks... sadly though, in a sense, all this actually means 'running away'.
We need to slow down in place, as is, and not have to seek out a place and a time to do that. To that end, we could try these other recipes, without cheating ourselves.
Net-less weekends
Car-less Mondays
TV-less Tuesdays (I'd far prefer TV-less evenings, also)
cell-phone-less Wednesdays
PC-less Thursdays
Flight-less Fridays!
So - which recipe would you like to start with?


Saturday, March 01, 2008

More kittens in more cupboards!

From majestic Aanas to domestic Poonas. Recollect the 1-Sep born Virgo-kittens? To veterinarians and the animal-wise, the statistic may be hardly worthy of note - that the same domestic four-paw has deposited her next litter exactly 6 months after the earlier lot...

The Cat-Adorer and the budding C-A (who is thrilled that this time it is his cupboard) have already marked 1-March vermillion in the calendar, and are purring, along with the proud mom-cat, over the Piscean future fish-eaters...