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Showing posts from May, 2023

Warrior of Light

Book Review  Title: Manual of the Warrior of Light Author: Paulo Coelho Publisher: HarperCollins, 2002 Pages: 268 [Content only one side, however]   You can work miracles if you wish. Miracle is a change of attitude. Miracle is a matter of changing your way of looking at reality. Paulo Coelho’s book, Manual of the Warrior of Light , is a kind of handbook for those who wish to perform miracles. But if you are looking for some shortcuts to miracles, or even some practical psychological tips for self-improvement, this book will disappoint you. How do you transform your attitudes? How to change your perspectives? Sit down and do some serious meditation. Probe within. Probe deep. Question yourself, your thoughts and feelings, your beliefs and convictions. This book can help you do that by giving some starting points. Each page of the book carries a particular thought meant to stimulate your contemplation. Many of these thoughts may not be new to anyone who has read a lot

Bob’s Martyrdom and My Redemption

Bob, before his adventure Bob’s body is punctuated with wounds and scars. Most of them are inflicted by Modiji. A couple of them are knife wounds which only humans could have inflicted. Bob is my beloved cat. Modiji is possibly Bob’s father because he is the only male cat that comes from somewhere and imposes his Mann ki Baat on my females, Dessie and Brownie. Bob resembles Modiji physically. Beyond the physical similarities, however, they have nothing in common. Modiji was harmless until Bob grew up to adulthood and started courting Dessie and Brownie. Now Modiji and Bob are rivals. And Bob is the invariable loser in their countless encounters. I named the marauder Modiji only because of his unexpected onslaughts on my beloved Bob. Modiji emerges from nowhere at totally unexpected hours – even in the middle of the night – and pounces on Bob. The assaults remind me of: ·       the farm laws which led to a yearlong agitation ·       demonetization which was nothing more than

Silence of the within

  Pablo Neruda ascended the podium and said: Brothers and Sisters of the world, lend me your ears for a moment. We can still save the earth if we wish to. All that we need to do is slow down a bit. All this rush, all this single-minded pursuit of so-called development, is not going to take us any further because the earth is dying. We are killing the planet. With all the wars we fight day in and day out. Green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire. Our skies are dying unable to breathe. We have sent too much gas and smoke up there. Our rivers are dying. And so are our seas. Death is our primary contribution. To the planet. And to fellow human beings as well. To all the creatures on the planet. We are a belligerent lot. We love to fight. If there is nothing to fight for, we will create new idols and fight for their sake. We arm our gods with deadly weapons. There is poison in our hearts. And our hearts overflow profusely into our rivers and forests and oceans and the skies.

Modi’s Lions in India’s New Caste System

Ashoka's lions More and more opposition parties are choosing to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building by PM Modi. The four lions of the national emblem that Modi unveiled atop the building on 11 July 2022 will snarl even more furiously now, I believe. The 9.5-ton representation of Ashoka’s lions is a stark contrast to the graceful gentleness of the Sarnath lions which were inspired by the Buddha. What Modi’s lions represent is a paradigm shift. India is making a decided transition from the Buddha to the Modi. From compassion to aggression. From mutual coexistence to subjugation of the other. Modi’s lions mark the subversion of the Buddha as much as Buddha himself was a subversion of the ruthless Brahminical system of his time. Buddha could not accept the heartlessness of the Brahminical system with its untouchability and all the brutality that went with it. Modi is now taking India back to that brutality, so to say. In the ancient India, the sages left hum

Retirement Homes in Kerala

Three years ago, Kerala was declared the fastest ageing state in India. In the past 60 years, the percentage of people aged 60 and above in Kerala has shot up from 5.1% to 16.5% - the highest in Indian states. I am also one of those booming sexagenarians of Kerala. On top of that, Kerala’s youth are leaving the state for foreign countries. They study whatever course is available to them in those foreign countries, take up some job and settle down there. Their parents will live in Kerala. And grow old. So old age homes and retirement homes and others of the type are in great demand in the state. There are some remarkably good retirement homes available in the state already. I’m sure more such will come up sooner rather than later. Let me present just a few here. I took an interest in them because Maggie and I are likely to end up in one of those in not too distant a future. Bless Homes in Kochi Let me start with one from the city nearest my village, Kochi. “Some call it Retire

The Problem of Ego

I have struggled with my ego for a very long period. In fact, right from childhood. I had an irresistible need to be always right. Every argument had to end with my word as the last. When people corrected my mistakes, I felt offended. I could never accept defeats with even the slightest of grace. These are all signs of an inflated ego. Somewhere in the middle of my life my ego was hammered into pulp by certain committed benefactors in Shillong. They did a good job because for years after that my ego didn’t raise its head. When your ego is under control, you are more aware of yourself. You know that you are wrong sometimes and you can admit your weaknesses and frailties without making a fuss about them. You make amends when you err and you wish to avoid errors as far as possible. You have the courage to apologise when errors still happen as they do invariably. When others hurt you, you learn not to take the hurts to the heart. You try to understand why others did it to you. You are

Age of Vice

Title: Age of Vice  Author: Deepti Kapoor Publisher: Juggernaut, 2003 Pages: 548 If you want to meet some of the vilest characters in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, Deepti Kapoor’s Age of Vice is just the novel for you. The novel opens on Delhi’s Inner Ring Road in the year 2004. Five pavement-dwellers have been run over by a Mercedes car at 3 o’clock in a cold February night. The man found in the driver’s seat, Ajay, is not the real killer. He is a convenient proxy for carrying a rich man’s sins. Ajay is originally from Eastern Uttar Pradesh, the crime-hub of India. Back in 1991, when Ajay was only an eight-year-old boy, his father was killed by the goons of the upper-class landlords who rule the roost in the villages. Ajay was sold by his mother as a slave. The boy reaches Himachal Pradesh. A few years later, he finds himself in Goa from where Sunny Wadia takes him to Delhi as his right-hand man. Delhi – the city of “con men, criminals … ugly and dirty … no good, (where) only ri

Science and Language

From the time I started teaching English in school, I’ve been hearing complaints from science teachers and also a few mathematics teachers that their students got poor grades in the final exams because of their students’ limited knowledge of English. I usually don’t take such complaints seriously. I take them as convenient excuses, the normal human tendency to pass the blame on to somebody else for one’s own inefficiency. In the first place, my students score excellent grades in English which means their knowledge of English is good enough as far as the Education Board’s standards are concerned. Secondly, I started my career as a maths and science teacher and got brilliant results from my students whose knowledge of English was not particularly great. Those who know mathematics well will also know that mathematics is a language by itself, a language that has almost nothing to do with the normal human languages like English or Chinese or whatever. Mathematics is the language of ab

Karnataka election

I didn’t celebrate the victory of Congress in the Karnataka assembly elections. I celebrated the BJP’s defeat. Congress lost its charm long ago. It is now a party without a vision, without a leader, and without a worthwhile purpose. People might have voted for it because they don’t have any other choice. Until his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi was a toddler in politics. The Yatra did bring a lot of sense and maturity to his personality. He may emerge as a great leader one day. He does have certain qualities which most Indian politicians don’t have. He has genuine concern for people. He is capable of reaching out to people unlike most political leaders who surround themselves with their chelas and security personnel. And he is willing to learn. He has much more to learn, however. Congress had become an utterly corrupt party and that is why it was thrown out by India in the last many elections all over the country. Will the new Congress government in Karnataka provide a clean go

Kattadikadavu: forbidden tourist place

  How about walking into a forbidden forest? Welcome to Kattadikadavu in the district of Idukki in Kerala. The following prohibition welcomes you quite majestically. There is a well-trodden path lying ahead beckoning you, especially if you are a lover of forests and mountains. And this is India where signboards don't mean anything much. You choose to follow the trail which soon becomes a concrete path assuring you that you are not on any illegal land. The signboard must be about some forest lying somewhere ahead. You are a good citizen and you decide not to enter that forest. You will abide by the path strictly. Go on.  The concrete path will end soon. You are now walking on boulders. And the climb is quite stiff. Go on. It's good for health. And the forest is beckoning you seductively. Somewhere ahead lies the forbidden forest, which you won't enter because you are a good citizen. You will only watch it from the cliff ahead.  You are a good citizen. You won't enter for

Saffron Movies

From PM Narendra Modi , 2019 - More to come soon The textbooks of our children have been saffronised already. Now it’s the turn of Bollywood. All efforts are being made to shift the Hindi movie kingdom from Mumbai to somewhere in Uttar Pradesh. The Khans of Bollywood are being sidelined and Kanganas are gobbling the limelight. The Kashmir Files and The Kerala Story are just the beginning of a catastrophe that is descending on the Bollywood. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] is all set to celebrate the centenary of its foundation [1925] with a year-long programme beginning in 2024. About twenty Hindi movies are on the anvil as part of the celebrations, the prominent of which being the history of RSS whose script is written by no less a personage than Vijayendra Prasad, father of Bahubali director Rajamouli. It is rumoured that the budget for this film is greater than the sum spent on the Chandrayan Mission. You have a lot more on RSS coming your way. Biopics are being made on a

The Kerala Story

I wanted to watch the movie, The Kerala Story , on the day it was released. But none of the theatres near my home screened it for various reasons. Now, a day after the release, I don’t want to watch it at all. Reason: I read a dozen reviews and none has a good word to say about the movie. Every review I’ve read so far, including Adani’s NDTV one, condemns the movie as substandard and crude. The NDTV review asserts that the makers of this movie have no idea about Kerala whatsoever. “The writing is consistently cringeworthy,” says the review. “The acting is no better.” It goes on to rubbish the movie judging it as pathetic without a single saving grace. The only purpose of the movie seems to be “to vilify a state of India on flimsy grounds.” The Indian Express awards one star to the movie and says that even propaganda requires skills. “A poorly-made, poorly-acted rant” is what the Express calls The Kerala Story . The movie is mala fide in intention. It does not seek to interrog

Add Sheen to Your Story

Milton's Satan as imagined by Gustave Doré Bernard Shaw said with his characteristically acerbic wit, “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach.” Though I have written a few dozen short stories, I don’t consider myself a good story writer. And I think that others don’t think any better either. So I am one of the right persons to teach how to write stories. No, don’t take all that too seriously. I just thought of responding to the week’s Bloghop prompt: “ 3 ways you can add diversity to your stories .” After all, I’ve been a teacher all my life. So, here we go. How to add diversity to your stories? 1. Bring in some evil. I’m sure you know that Satan is the most interesting personality in Milton’s classical Paradise Lost . The all-too-good characters like God and the angels are utterly boring in that poem. Satan towers over all of them as a grand and majestic figure with his eloquence and glamour. Even Adam and Eve are most interesting when they are marked by flaws. Evil

Call of the Forest

Book Review Title: Dattapaharam: Call of the Forest Author: V J James Translated from Malayalam by: Ministhy S Publisher: Penguin, 2023 Pages: 164 The forest is an enchanting place for many people including me. The chief reason why this book drew my attention is that the forest plays a vital role in it. We live in the forest through this novel. We move in the forest, climb its rocks, bathe in its streams, and sleep in its caves. The smells and sounds of the forest envelop us. The hero of the novel, Freddie Robert, vanishes right in the beginning. He is somewhere there in the deep forest living with all the wild animals because the call of the forest is far sweeter to him than the allures of human civilisation. His friends begin a journey into the forest to find him. The novel is about that journey. The novel is about forest, rather. About the need to merge into nature. The human world is replete with hypocrisy and deceit. The animals are far better. They turn out to b