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Showing posts from 2017

Happy New Year

Fiction My fingers mistake these days the letters on the keyboard.  I’m growing old and I’m lovin it.  I make mistakes and I forgive myself since the keyboard cannot forgive.  “But why the hell did you kiss the girl?” The keyboard asked. “Because she is going to suffer,” I said.  “Suffer a lot.  Too sensitive, too rebellious, too confused.” “You kissed her in public!” “On the forehead.” “In public?” “In front of a few other students.  Is that public?” “Isn’t it?” “Where two or three people are gathered, is it public?” “Isn’t it?” “Ok, for argument’s sake.  What’s your problem now?” “Isn’t your problem mine?  Your fingers slip and Windows has to keep autocorrecting your errors.  I hate it when Windows interferes.” I laughed.  “Why do you love me so much?” I asked. “Because I know all your secrets.” “Really?” “Hmm. Your touch carries all your secrets.” I stopped typing.  I went to the dining room and poured a whisky on

Educating for life

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Benjamin Bloom’s model (known as Bloom’s Taxonomy) is an ideal approach to the educational process.  It classifies educational learning objectives into three domains: cognitive, affective and psychomotor.  While the cognitive domain is knowledge-based and deals with processes such as memorising, comprehending, applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating, the affective domain deals with the child’s emotions and attitudes.  The psychomotor domain handles the practical side like making use of tools effectively. The education process largely focuses on the cognitive domain and fills the students with theoretical knowledge.  Certain subjects like physics, chemistry and biology have practical classes which take care of the psychomotor domain to some extent, though in a very limited way.  Acquisition of abstract knowledge for the sake of passing written examinations is almost the only purpose of education today.  Even that does not reach the higher levels proposed by Blo

The Great Indian Hero Awards

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Here we are at the close of 2017.  Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, the Bard declared some four centuries ago.  But we now live in a different world where heroes are the happiest people.  That’s all the more reason to celebrate them.  Welcome to The Great Indian Hero Show . The Machiavelli Award of the year goes to Yup, you guessed it right to None other than Our Most Beloved, His Highness, the Gym Chested, the Bravado among the Bravest, the Star among Superstars, the Gulliver among Voyagers, the Chanakya of the 21 st Century, our very own Prayan Mantri, Mr Narendra Modi.  Niccolo Machiavelli, the author of the classical handbook for rulers – The Prince – said: “The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”  Mr Modi has successfully trapped foxes and frightened lions right from the year 2002 till date. 

Religious Sins

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Book Review Order your copy Here There are two types of religion: one which enables us to see the divine in others and the other which is about power, bullying, self-delusion, expediency and psychological consolations.  What we usually see around us is the latter type.  Such religion destroys the genuine religion.  M P Baby’s novel, The Snake Crucified , shows us both the types with a brilliant plot.  Chacko is a Pulaya (low caste) Roman Catholic living in Karuvankode, a primitive village in Kerala.  Though he is Catholic officially, Chacko practises the ancient religion of his caste.  He is a sorcerer and there is a snake which helps him in sorcery.  The snake reveals the truths to him.  The snake is a kind of god for him.  He does not hesitate to give the Holy Communion (the sacred bread and wine from the church) to his snake. It is Father Sebastian Maliyekkal who assists Chacko to give the Communion to the snake.  Father Sebastian is an “oversexed” priest who enjoy

Books and 2017

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My little library 2017 was a relatively bad year for me where books are concerned.  First of all, I couldn’t read as many as I wished.  Secondly, quite a few of the books I read don’t deserve a second read.  Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness disappointed me.  “The socio-political activist in the author has superseded the literary artist,” as I wrote in my review.  I concede that we live a painfully fragmented world and writing fiction is a highly challenging job.  How does a writer fathom the depths where too much debris of fragmented things and people, fragmented gods and legends lie scattered in utter chaos? PaulaHawkins’ The Girl on the Train is thelast book I reviewed in 2017.  “The Number One Bestseller” is a good entertainer and not serious literature.  Evil reeks heavily in every page of the book.  I was left gasping for fresh air by the time I reached the last page of the book.  Once again I was left longing for good literature. Two of the be

A mad man’s Christmas

Fiction Atami was sick of the blood on his sword.  He wanted to vomit.  That’s why he walked into Helga’s brothel. “Get me some water to wash first,” he ordered when Helga’s nose puckered involuntarily at the stench of blood.  Helga shuddered at the sight of the blood-drenched sword.  “Then send me your best girl,” Atami growled.  “With enough wine,” he added. “Not me, please,” Naomi said when Helga asked her to carry the water. “Why not?” Helga shot an angry glance. “He is Herod’s soldier.” “And he looks majestic,” added Helga.  “Maybe you can please him enough and he’ll marry you.  Think of your future girl.” “I hate Herod and his beasts.” Naomi had reasons to hate Herod and his soldiers.  She was a descendant of the Hasmonean family which was ruined by Herod.  On Cleopatra’s request, Mark Antony had decided to make Aristobulus Hasmonea the king of Judea.  Herod’s beasts killed Aristobulus and haunted Hasmoneans like a vampire.  Naomi escaped into He

My Christmas

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The only religious festival that buoyed up my spirit when I was a boy was Christmas.  The Holy Week with Good Friday dominating it was the antithesis of Christmas.  Easter didn’t really mean anything much to me except interruption of good sleep to attend the predawn church service.  Christmas too fractured the sleep with its midnight church rituals.  But that was fun too with the crib, the stars, the Christmas tree and the Santa.  We would spend the entire Christmas Eve preparing the crib at home.  The festive mood that pervaded the entire atmosphere not only at home but also in the village was ebullient.  My Christmas Tree There was more to Christmas than all that ebullience, however.  There was romance in it: a feeling of mystery, excitement and otherworldliness.  The myth of Joseph travelling with pregnant Mary braving the winter’s chill through the wilderness of Bethlehem, their helpless search for a place to stay, Jesus’ birth in a cave in the company of cattle, th

When the shadow lengthens

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When the shadow lengthens in front of me, I know that there is light behind me.  The longer the shadow, the farther the source of light.  Perhaps I need to pause a while or even walk back a little so that the light draws nearer.  Perhaps there is no going back.  It’s a one way traffic, isn’t it?  The shadow will only grow longer.  We are but dust and shadow, as Horace declared.  What is needed is a discovery of the beauty of the shadow.  Shadows on the Way [Bhatti Mines, Delhi] Not all the ways are smooth, All shadows are not balmy [Bhatti village, Delhi] No shadows: blissful life? [Najafgarh, Delhi] An indelible shadow [Erstwhile Sawan School, Delhi]

Mohan Bhagwat’s Baptism

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In his famous novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover , D H Lawrence predicted the death of the human race where “vitality” is concerned.  He compared the human race to “a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air” and suggested that “we must plant ourselves again in the universe.” Hinduism is a religion which ardently believed in the cosmic roots of the human race.  The cosmos is a sacred place and we are its vital parts, according to Hindu scriptures like the Vedas and the Upanishads.  Philosophically Hinduism is one of the most profound views on the meaning of human existence.  It was never exclusive.  On the contrary, it could easily incorporate anything into its cosmic vision.  The Grand Canyon is as sacred as Mount Kailash in that vision.  The Thames is as holy as the Ganga philosophically.  Mohan Bhagwat’s repeated assertion that all Indians are Hindu s is right philosophically.  But then, why only Indians?  In fact, if we go by the logic of Hindu philosophy, all people

Power of Solitude

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“Hell is other people,” as Jean-Paul Sartre said. In his play, No Exit, three characters arrive in the drawing room of Hell.  There is no fire, no torture, no devils in Hell unlike what their religion had taught.  Soon they realise that hell is other people.  “All those eyes intent on me.  Devouring me.  What?  Only two of you?  I thought there were more; many more. So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the ‘burning marl’. Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE!” Human beings, including me, are jealous, greedy, manipulative, crooked and wicked.  We make life hell for others.  We enjoy doing that.  In fact, most of life is precisely that: creating hell for others.  A lot of people who posed themselves as my well-wishers created the hell of my youth.  I lived in perpetual depression for about five years because of my well-wishers most of whom were profe

India and Rodomontade

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My village: the rodomontade is on the way Tapioca was a staple food in Kerala as potato was in Ireland.  It went out of fashion when the Malayali learnt not to trust politicians and decided to make his fortune outside the country.  The public school-educated young generation in Kerala today doesn’t appreciate the pristine tang of tapioca.  My grocer in the village sells a few kilograms of the starchy root every day and I am one of the frequent buyers.  “The price has gone down very much but I am selling it at ₹20 a kg,” he told me as he was weighing one kg for me.  I was silent.  I usually don’t talk much except in the classroom.  “I can buy it for ₹7 a kg from the farmer.  But the poor man won’t even get his transporting charge let alone the cost of cultivating it.  So I bought it for ₹15 a kg.” “You did the right thing,” I said.  “It’s a pity that the farmers have been reduced to this situation,” I added to myself. “Shashi Tharoor’s latest contribution to the Indian

The Girl on the Train

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Book Review Sheer evil perpetrated by a born criminal is not an interesting subject in literature.  But Paula Hawkins’ novel, The Girl on the Train , is not serious literature; it is serious suspense thriller.  The suspense keeps the reader hooked to the end.  The characters are eminently well portrayed too. The story is primarily about two men and three women.  Rachel, the dominant character, is an alcoholic and divorced wife of Tom Watson who is now living with Anna, his present wife.  Scott Hipwell and his wife Megan are the other two characters.  Dr Kamal Abdic, a professional shrink, has a fairly important role too. Megan’s disappearance and the eventual recovery of her dead body forms the crux of the suspense.  Megan was a “bored, mad, curious” woman with a past.  The boy with whom she fell in love at the age of 15 died in accident leaving a vacuum in her heart.  The next man whom she learnt to love abandoned her when their little child died due to Megan’s careles

Yours truly

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I’m celebrating the occasion of my blog crossing a viewership of four lakh.    First of all, thank you reader for being here.  Every writer loves to be read, I believe.  I’m glad you’re here and obliged to you too.  When I began blogging I had no more than a score or two of readers per day.  Today the daily view of the blog averages around 200.  That matters because it encourages me substantially. Secondly, my blog is the place where I have placed all my hopes and despairs, joys and sorrows, thoughts and feelings quite unabashedly.  It is my alter ego, so to say.  It is the place where I have questioned myself as much as the world around me.  It is the place where I learnt some of the greatest lessons of life. It is the place where I realised that I am no more than an insignificant speck in this vast cosmos of millions of galaxies.  It is the place that taught me to chip away my flatulent ego.  My blog enlarged my imagination beyond the constricted horizons gifted by go

Values

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That trickling sweat has more value than all words, words, words The greatest tragedy of evolution is that when the ape descended from the tree its heart refused to evolve.  The brain evolved and continues to do so giving us better and better technology.  The heart remains primitive giving us more and more violence and crimes. Contradictory as it may seem, the solution lies in making people more rational .  The plain truth is that our thoughts determine our feelings and behaviour.  Irrational thoughts produce irrational behaviour.  If I think that my religion is the only correct religion and my god is the only true god, I’ll go around inflicting my religion and god on others.  The solution is to question my thinking.  Is my religion the only correct one?  Is my god the only true god?  That is rational thinking.  Take it at a still more practical level.  My worth depends on the appreciation I receive for the works I do.  This is irrational thinking.  People will love me on