Sometimes memories break through

Rana Pratap Sagar dam I still remember the day, dimly though, when the dam gates were opened; we got a school holiday to go and watch the spectacle. Soon, the torrents of water unleashed by the open gates evaporated, and we had a huge downpour. I always felt scared while passing over this bridge on the few occasions we went to our father’s office. The machinery and rails alongside the dam’s narrow path were too awesome for a kid. The garden built near the dam was our permanent school picnic spot. Here we came to prepare for group singing sessions and had fun. And the small tributary offshoot of this dam flowed through the village where we went every morning, travelling over a small hill for nearly 40 minutes. That’s were we would try to learn to swim and bathe naked! Childhood is a world within itself. How does that world change and grow, till nothing is left but memories? Man is not a forward...
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The good old art of ‘doing nothing’

Imagine this conversation taking place in the office: Boss: What are you doing? You: Mmmm… nothing. 🙂 The smiley is for real. If you don’t smile at the end, get ready for some more action! Our psychology teacher once informed us during a lecture, that it was impossible for one to be doing nothing. Even during yoga, one does something. I am not going to embark on a discourse on the karma theory here. That for some other day! But it is a fine art, this activity of contradictions. They did say, contrary forces and conflicts move the world. The state of doing nothing often results when you are recuperating from an illness. Let me figure out just some of the salient features of what it involves: – It’s a state of repose. Not indolence. Not inaction. A state of observation and rambling thoughts. – The bed becomes the centre of your day’s work. – You observe things that you never found an inclination to do on other days:...
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Old Indian joke

A ship carrying containers full of wild life specimens from various countries sailed over the quiet sea. All containers were securely sealed, except for one. When a surprised sailor inquired why there was one container that was not sealed, the captain told him not to worry: “This one contains wild insect specimens from India. Whenever anyone tries to rise and climb up, the rest of them drag it down.” ...
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Cheap tech gadgets: can they ‘make a difference’?

Technology at its best (Photo credit: Manuel Alarcón) When there is grinding poverty all around, and you flash a  >$500 phone or tablet, the lines of embarrassment steal their way to your face when someone poor inquires about the price. The old game of showing off costly gadgets still goes on in friend circles, neighbourhoods and offices. And never was the scene so hotted up than after the coming of IT gadgets. Surely the prices are coming down as competition makes it way, and we can buy tablets under this budget. But the craze for the ‘latest’ and ‘the best’ continues unabated. The demand is maddening and most casual conversations around us are filled up with the new magic tricks of technology. If everyone was not doing it, we would have thought that the big guys playing silly sling games had not outgrown the child within and needed treatment. Crossing ten levels on Angry Birds by moving your fingers won’t make any difference...
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Another freedom fighter, another death mystery

When famous leaders die or disappear in mysterious circumstances, ordinary lives receive the needed dose of thrill, and roadside or cafe conversations couldn’t hope for a better topic to sip coffee over. Nana Sahib was not the only freedom fighter who disappeared, forever leaving behind a legacy of awe and mystery. He may have been forgotten, but the fate of Subhash Chandra Bose, who disappeared after a reported plane crash involving him, still continues to arouse curiosity. Did Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose end up in Russia? – Hindustan Times   ...
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India, politics and violence

Nehru was an educated politician If there is one thing that has vitiated our lives and minds in this country, more than any other, it is the communion of violence and politics.  It probably began in the 70s. Not that the mass media (bollywood) was clean, or that the Emergency was a peaceful affair. I was born in that year, so my generation can be called the Emergency generation.  But as one corporate czar observed long time ago, as long as Nehru was alive, there was a semblance of unity. After him, it was the era of the regional parties that broke the short lived post-independence harmony. When religion enters the scene, and it did so in a big way in the 90s, it too relies on the power of brawn – how peaceful can we then consider it? Except for the famous chant, it does nothing much to educate us in non-violent ways. It won’t be an overstatement to say that for many,...
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I sympathise with your India experience, O foreign tourist

My first backpack visit to Rajasthan several years ago brought about a revelation. In my own country, and in my own state, I was being perceived as a foreigner. The culprit was my relatively fair skin and brownish eyes which,  coupled with a city-bred look, somehow set me apart in the eyes of the locals. I felt excited with the new found status. Now I could travel with double the self-esteem, or like a born Rajah! What did I know. The first to fall for the deception were the kids who went with the camel rider at Jaiselmer. They gladly took me to their house. Then, agents would single me out from the crowd. At Jodhpur, when I spoke in Hindi at the fort, the man, instead of replying to me, reacted with, “He speaks Hindi!” And how can I forget the hearty laughter let out by the traditionally dressed guard at the Jaiselmer fort, when he learnt that the gentleman standing...
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Review: End of Nana Sahib by Jules Verne

It indeed comes as a surprise that the classic sci-fi writer Jules Verne should have written a story centered around a political figure  of the mutiny of 1857 in India.  Nana Sahib was a much wanted man after the mutiny, and could never be found. The story is made interesting by its other major thread – the steam powered elephant chugging along two full houses to traverse the route from Kolkata to the base of the Nepal hills. The Frenchman Maucler, an adventurer, Colonel Munro, engineer Banks, Captain Hooks who is obsessed with hunting, and three of their subordinates thus take us along their intrepid journey through historical Indian cities of Gaya, Benares, Allahabad, Kanpur and Lucknow. The prime mover of the plot is the strange connection between Colonel Munro and Nana Sahib. It was Munro who killed the Rani of Jhansi, the friend of Nana Sahib. And it was Nana Sahib who was involved in the killing of Munro’s wife at...
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A life that troubles no one! Vote for snail

In your fast and internet crazy life, ever thought about the poor old snail! They are slow, but have won the struggle of existence too. Here are some interesting facts about snails: Snails live both on land and in water. They come in thousands of species. They are hermaphrodites, but mate with each other anyway. Their size can range from the common few centimetres to several feet. Their tongue contains thousands of teeth! A snail can glide over a rajor blade’s edge without injury! They do this with the slime they produce. They have one leg. Snails can live for a couple of years, though some claim it can go up to fifteen Snails can’t hear. Snails are nocturnal creatures. They some times move in circles – hence considered low brained. They have been given a scientific name: Helix aspersa They maintain a home – a site for hibernation They go into the making of some skin creams and gels. Salt and sugar can kill snails. If you like snails, don’t forget to vote for them by...
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