SAGGERE RAMASWAMY, editor of India’s first web-based photo syndication service Karnataka Photo News, sends us this picture from the Bangalore Canine Club’s proceedings on Sunday, which says more than a thousand words.
SAGGERE RAMASWAMY, editor of India’s first web-based photo syndication service Karnataka Photo News, sends us this picture from the Bangalore Canine Club’s proceedings on Sunday, which says more than a thousand words.
E R RAMACHANDRAN forwards a forward that should be unapologetically forwarded becaue it is a paragraph by the great Aruthur Ashe that explains one of life’s greatest questions in the simplest way possible.
Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon player was dying of AIDS which he got due to infected blood he received during a heart surgery in 1983. From world over, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed :
“Why does God have to select you for such a bad disease?”
To this, Ashe replied: “The world over 5 crore children start playing tennis; 50 lakh learn to play tennis; 5 lakh learn professional tennis; 50,000 come to the circuit; 5000 reach the grand slam; 50 reach Wimbledon; 4 to semi-final; 2 to the finals, When I was holding a Cup I never asked God “Why me?”. And today in pain I should not be asking God, “Why me?”
Happiness keeps you Sweet,
Trials keep you Strong,
Sorrow keeps you Human,
Failure Keeps you Humble,
Success keeps you Glowing
But only God Keeps you going..
Tongue firmly in cheek, BRAGANZA PICCOLA writes: The campaigning for the bye-election for the Chamundeshwari Constituency is getting hoarser by the hour. The following points emerge out of this:
1. It may be a ‘Bye’ election, but it is already turning into a ‘Bayyao’ Election.
2. It is all about Maths. The one who gets it right will make it. For Instance, among many things, you should know:
Vokkaligas + Kurubas – Lingayaths all divided by Congress = ?
If JD (U) + JD (S) = JD (US) = US, NOBODY could beat them.
3. We will know whether there is any formula, which converts eating and sleeping in villages in to votes. If this works, we can be sure in the next general election, we won’t find a single candidate in the cities!
4. Finally, do you know ‘ ELECTION RESULTS ‘ can also be written as ‘LIES, LET’S RECOUNT’!
I hope it won’t come to that.
Do you have anything to add?
E R RAMACHANDRAN writes: Communist China’s Hu has a Dream Plan for its people for the next 50 years, which is mind-boggling.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences, in its blueprint has estimated that in 2050, they plan to achieve a per capita income of $ 1300 and a lifespan of 80 years for its people. Their capacity to dream big dreams are only matched by actions on the ground as is seen by the miraculous transformation of Shanghai City.
The other day, I ran in to the spokesperson of our Planning Commission near the Yojana Bhavan. Here was a chance to get updated about India’s dreams! Over Upma-Kesri bath at the UNI canteen, I asked about our Plans.
“What you say about China may be true. Here, we have to be realistic! Our Leftist Union will ‘Gherao’ the Foreman of Honda factory and will not let him to go to the toilet for 72 hours, if there is less sugar in the morning tea they drink immediately after they punch in. Even if we line our Airports with marble and chrome and polish it to be an international showcase, our Airport Pourakarmikas will not remove the garbage and clean the stinking toilets till their Union under Karats agree on the Diwali bonus.”
“What about power generation?”
“It is a problem, but, we are at it. We have already approved a candle factory in Dabhol. This will make 1 million candles a day and by third year we even plan to export. In addition, we will also scale up one of our Navaratnas to make Diyaas. We will scout for a good technical collaborator for these projects once the UPA Government gets ‘NOC’ from its Left Partner.”
“What about Plans for rural India?”
“If the weather gods, smile at us, we hope to grow enough paddy and wheat so that the rate of suicide among farmers comes down. We also hope there will be some spin-offs for rural sector from the inventions from the mega project—Chandrayaan—Our Space Mission to Moon.”
“What about interlinking of rivers and desalination of sea water to solve water problem?”
“Every time we raise this topic between Chief Ministers, the meeting ends with the CMs coming to blows! No state will allow sharing a drop of water with its neighbour! The garland of rivers has become quite a thorny issue. Desalination will take another 100 years before the Prototype developed by our National Labs can be put to any real use.”
“What about infrastructure? Shanghai already has over half a dozen Ring Roads and most of the cities in China would have 4- lane roads encircling them.”
“We too will focus on Ring Roads once we get rid of the potholes which has somehow mushroomed in highways all over the country. Our scientists are working on solution for getting rid of potholes by harnessing Rocket science, Nano Technology and Stem cells. It will be a matter of time before our scientists train our PWDs, Municipalities, their contractors and masons to eliminate potholes forever. But here again the real problem is, the Left might rap us accusing us being Pro-US!’”
“All these look like nightmares to me. When is the big Indian Dream coming up?”
“It will come. First we have to live through the Nightmares of interference from the Left every second day.”
“How come China, a Communist Nation is progressing so well, when our Communists, have become a spanner on every project?”
“Our brand of Communism is more suited for Nightmares than Dreams. That’s the difference!”
Mayazhi Lampard sends us a set of killer quotes to illustrate the cut-throat sledging that goes on between Australians and Englishmen, and asks a very cryptic question:Today’s cricketers may be able to walk the walk, but can they talk the talk?
1 Mark Waugh to Jimmy Ormond on his Test debut, 2001: “Mate, what are you doing out here? There’s no way you’re good enough to play for England.” Ormond: “Maybe not, but at least I’m the best player in my own family.”
2 Merv Hughes to Graeme Hick et al: “Mate, if you just turn the bat over you’ll find the instructions on the other side.”
3 Hughes again: “Does your husband play cricket as well?”
4 Mike Atherton on Merv Hughes: “I couldn’t work out what he was saying, except that every sledge ended with ‘arsewipe’.”
5 Dennis Lillee to Mike Gatting, 1994: “Hell, Gatt, move out of the way. I can’t see the stumps.”
6 Derek Randall to Lillee, after taking a glancing blow to the head: “No good hitting me there, mate, nothing to damage.”
7 Ian Healy, placing a fielder yards away at cover when Nasser Hussain was batting: “Let’s have you right under Nasser’s nose.”
8 Tony Greig, England’s South African-born captain, to the young David Hookes, 1977: “When are your balls going to drop, Sonny?” Hookes: “I don’t know, but at least I’m playing cricket for my own country.” Hookes hit Greig for four consecutive fours.
9 Rod Marsh, late seventies: “How’s your wife and my kids?” Ian Botham: “The wife’s fine – the kids are retarded.”
10 Bill Woodfull, Australia’s captain in the Bodyline series of 1932-33, responding to Douglas Jardine‘s complaint that a slip fielder had sworn at him: “All right, which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?”
It makes you wonder about some of today’s players. They may be able to walk the walk, but can they talk the talk?
E R RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ever since, he became the Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, his phone has been ringing continuously.
The first call came when he was still snoozing.
“Hello! Ambarish Annavra? We are all very happy that Madam has at last recognized your talent. We want to felicitate the Mandyada Gandu. Come as soon as possible.” That was the president of Ambarish Fans’ Association from Mandya.
After a while the phone rang again.
“Hello! Rebel star avara! Namaskara Anna! When are you coming to Mysore? We have already booked the open air theatre in Gangothri for your felicitation. Bega Banni Anna. Aayita?’
There were calls ranging from, asking him to make time for thread ceremony of a 5-year- old to the birth of a calf for which he was called for the naming ceremony.
The Minister hit the ceiling when the next call came.
“Anna! I am speaking from Gandhi Nagar. I am the Secretary of the Kannada Film Workers Artistes Technicians Federation. Because of ‘ Dubbing Experts’, a majority of our technicians are jobless. The famous dialogue of yours, “The river of blood will flow” will start flowing any time now. If dubbing continues, Kannada film industry will be finished. We have started our own company. Muktha-fame Sitaram will direct our first film. As I& B Minister we want you to give clap for the first shot, Anna. Please take the next flight, or, if possible, take PM’s special plane and come down fast. From HAL Airport we will arrange for a helicopter so that you can land in Gandhinagar itself! Bega baa Anna!’
As he was entering Parliament, a call came from the Producers of the so-called dubbing mafia.
“Vanakkam Ambi Saar! After Raj Kumar, you are the Periyanna for all of us. We are forced to re-make hits from Tamil and Telugu because there are no good stories in Kannada. Where do you find authors like Aa. Na. Kru and Ta.Ra. Su. these days? If we don’t make remakes, how will our families survive? We will send our own jet. Since you are the I&B Minister, only you can solve the problem. We will wait for you in Ramoji Rao Studio in Hyderabad as it is a safer place for us!”
Beads of perspiration had formed on the Rebel Star’s forehead as he walked towards the Parliament canteen. “Am I a Central Minister or Karnataka Minister?” was the thought doing rounds in his head when the next call almost startled him.
“Thamma Ambi! It’s Siddu here! I have been trying for you all morning. Ambi, please rush to Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysore. It is all but, taken over by Deve Gowda and sons. Madam Sonia has asked you should visit Mysore immediately and camp in Chamundeshwari constituency till the election is over. She has also asked me to book your accommodation in all huts and houses of villagers in Chamundeshwari hobli. Please do not come in your jeans. Come in the dress you wore for ‘Gowdru’. From Bangalore we will go to Chamundeshwari constituency in ‘Yethhina Gaadi’. We will meet you outside the Airport as HDK has banned yethhina Gaadi inside.”
His head was still reeling as he almost stumbled into the Prime Minister.
“How do you like your new job, Ambarishji?” asked the P.M.
“Sir, I have a request. Do you have a portfolio of “Minister without Portfolio”? If you have, please take away the I&B and give me that!”
T.S. NAGARAJAN writes: This is the photograph of the Nanjangud home about which I wrote in my post “The most memorable home I have photographed”.
I did not attach the picture with my text because I felt that more than the photograph, the philosophy that the simple home taught me was worth sharing.
The house contains our dreams. But it is also contained by the dreams because, after all, our homes take shape and exist in our unconscious.
In the picture are Nagappa and his wife daydreaming while they watch me click the camera. This photograph was taken in 1981.
M GONZOLA forwards what must clearly be another forward: In a California zoo, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to pregnancy complications, the cubs were born prematurely and died shortly after birth.
Mother tiger after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically fine. The vets felt that the loss of her
litter had caused her to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if she could surrogate another mother’s cubs, perhaps she would improve.
After checking with many other zoos, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the tiger mother. The vets decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment.
Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only “orphans” that could be found quickly, were a litter of
wiener pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger. The results…
E R RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Bangalore–Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) is turning out to be a one-way street for fights, affidavits, counter affidavits and stay orders.
Every now and then, the promoter of the project is seen in newspapers hugging villagers in some obscure place at the proposed site and announcing ‘all things have been tied up’ and work will ‘start simultaneously on many fronts’.
On the other side, the Government flexes its muscles determined to stop the project on its muddy tracks. The Supreme Court, on its part, has requisitioned for more gavels, as continuous and ceaseless rapping of GOK softened their gavels and it didn’t seem to hurt them any more.
I wanted to find out from the horses’ mouth where the project was heading assuming there are only two horses, as at present.
First I went and met the promoter in a field eating kadalekai amidst some villagers. He looked more like a cross between a lawyer and a mason and hardly the debonair businessman from the US of A who claimed his love for hometown brought him to this project.
“Sir, ever since you announced the BMIC Project, you seem to be spending your time, mostly in courts,” I started.
“I also practice boxing in my spare time so that I can give back whatever I get in full measure,” said the gutsy promoter sparring with his gloves.
“Despite the Supreme Court coming to your rescue, still the corridor doesn’t seem to get off the ground. What’s your next move?”
“Since Supreme Court is unable to help me, I have now decided to approach the World Court at The Hague, Netherlands, for justice. If I win there, I am told, the UN will give protection to my masons and construction workers by sending their Armed Forces from First World Countries. I will also personally invite Kofi Annanji to do the Bhoomi Pooja.”
That seemed a perfectly normal thing to do when even the hands of the highest court in the land appeared to be tied and sealed with Fevicol.
Next I approached the Official of GOK, who was twiddling his thumbs not sure whether to sit in Vikasa Soudha or Vidhana Soudha. I broke his reverie.
“Sir, I believe, you are handling the ‘BMIC Corridor project’.”
“Tell me, what can I do for you?”
“Even after the Courts have given the project the ‘go ahead’ countless number of times – I forget the last count – still GOK doesn’t give the necessary land for the BMIC project to start work. This is one of the ‘Fast Track’ projects, you are handling, I presume.”
“Indeed. We are still not convinced how much land is required for this project.”
“But GOK itself approved the project in the first place and the Supreme Court has cleared all obstacles for the nth time and wants the corridor work to start in full steam.”
“The Courts underestimate us. We are still not convinced how much land is required. Until that matter is cleared we will do everything to stop the project.”
I had seen officials bending their backs to get companies and investors. Here, it looked the official wanted to chase the promoter away.
“How?” I almost shouted.
“There are ways…. We will impose sanctions against the promoter similar to what U.S did on Iraq. First, we can ask the Builder Association of Karnataka / India not to supply masons, casual labourers. Second, we can make sure see nobody sells cement, sand and construction equipment. Third, we will not allow any lorries to the site; So on and so forth. He just won’t be able to start work!”
There was a note of triumph in his voice.
As I took a last look at the BMIC project, I saw two donkeys at the site.
They were chewing some drawings with the supreme satisfaction, knowing another 50 generations they could do so and multiply there without any worry…
SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: Leafing through Star of Mysore, lounging in my flat’s balcony, through grogginess induced by jet travel across time zones, my eyes lit up as I began reading a letter to the editor, which in my book, should rank as one of the most, hard hitting, forthright and ‘in- your-face’ types that has flowed through the pen of a reader.
Allow me to reproduce it in its entirety. Let the introspection begin.
This is in response to your Abracadabra titled, ‘Who is afraid of America? Not India!’ (SOM, Nov 10) related to the book, ‘The Writing On the Wall: India Checkmates America 2017’ by Gen. S Padmanabhan.
I really think that India or any country for that matter need not be afraid of America. India should really be afraid of India itself.
India’s most fearful current enemies are, to a large extent, its own creation and lie within its borders.
Uncontrolled population explosion, utter disregard and catastrophic destruction of the natural environment, gross disrespect for the rule of law, completely ineffective and partial judicial system, unchecked all pervasive corruption, totally debauched political system, stark poverty and disease, severe socio-economic inequities and large masses of uneducated electorate are just a few of the most potent enemies that India should really be afraid of.
These real enemies are inflicting heavy causalities in India and will continue to do so unless prevented. And yet, India does not seem to be afraid of these real enemies.
Nor has India developed any credible weapons or strategies to combat these enemies. I think these real enemies will checkmate India likely long before India can think of checkmating America by 2017.
God bless America and the whole world.
—Glen Allen (A proud US citizen of Indian heritage) on e-mail.
PS: I couldn’t agree with Glen Allen more. But then, like saint Purandara Dasa said, Illiralaare, Allige Hogalaare which translates in Queen’s English to, ‘Neither can I live here nor can I go elsewhere’!
T S NAGARAJAN writes: Some years ago, I was in Nanjangud, the temple-town near Mysore, photographing a 250-year-old house as part of my project of documenting the interiors of century-old homes in the country. The house was a gift by the then Maharaja of Mysore to the owners’ forefathers.
While I was busy shooting in the home, a frail old man from the neighborhood walked in, curiously watched me work for a while, and invited me to see his own home, which he claimed was also old and even more splendorous—just the kind I was looking for in the town.
He waited patiently till I finished work and then led me to his abode at the end of the road, briefing me all the way about his house.
On reaching his home, I was in for a big surprise. It was a dilapidated structure with most of the roof gone. Even the walls were missing. Only the door in front somehow managed to stay in place like a lone sentinel.
I entered the home and looked up. I saw the sky covered with clouds. There were no rooms. Two lean teak pillars held up the tiled roof of an unpretentious residue of the house in a corner, possibly what was once the kitchen. It was in this surviving portion of the house the couple lived. His wife, standing next to the pillar, welcomed me.
The old man spoke with much pride and love about his home, describing its moments of glory and all the good things that had happened there; not bothering about the present plight of the house. Not once did he feel bad. The couple appeared happy and contented. They gave me the impression that they had everything they wanted. They needed nothing more. All was well with their home.
“What do I photograph?” I asked myself. But the old man stood next to me urging action on my part, giving me enough hints that I take a picture of him in his loved home. I did not have the heart to disappoint him. I clicked a shot, just to please him. To my surprise, the picture later became a favourite in my exhibitions and was even acquired by some famous galleries and collectors.
All homes are built in the mind. Not built of brick and mortar, but built of fond memories, of events, of births, deaths and celebrations. The house contains our dreams.
The image of the old couple in their much-loved home kept coming back to me, especially when my wife and I began dreaming a home of our own. After much thought and discussion, we arrived at a plan—a plan which reflected adequately all our dreams.
Building on paper was indeed effortless and enjoyable. We demolished walls in a jiffy and built storey after storey. We even grew a garden and positioned flowering trees uprooted from the famous avenues. Ultimately, we did build a brick and mortar house for ourselves.
Our dream home? That is another story.
ASHWIN KRISHNA writes: We are a bunch of youngsters [from NIE and SJCE] who are volunteering for an organization called Divyadeepa Trust in Mysore.
Divyadeepa is a nonprofit irganization started with the aim of transforming physically, emotionally,
economically, educationally or socially challenged children (PESC children) into self reliant citizens of India by
giving them food, shelter, care, love, empathy and quality education.
After its inception, Divyadeepa is also involved in community development, youth and women empowerment, environmental awareness.
Inspired by the ideals of Sri Aurobindo & Swami Vivekananda, Divyadeepa initiated its service activities in a
small village called Srirampura on the outskirts of Mysore during 1992.
Kaliyuva Mane [a Kannada word which means “Learning Home”], an alternative school, is a logical sequel to Divyadeepa’s initiatives.
Children who fail to reach the desired educational standards due to illiteracy, ignorance and poverty of parents, lack of infrastructure in the village schools are given a new hope of life, by providing value based education including yoga, arts, crafts, music, drama, environmental awareness programs.
At present 22 children[8 residential and 14 day scholars] found love, empathy but also brothers and sisters.
If you wish to help us please click on http://divyadeepatrust.org/monetaryhelp.html
Please visit http://divyadeepatrust.org for more info. We
request you to please spare your time and go through the web site and contribute, It could be in the form of money or otherwise, could be one time or periodically but please do help. Even if one of you contributes it would be a great help for those kids.
Lets us join hands in this noble task of giving a new life to those shattered dreams of abandoned kids.
NARAYANAN MURALI KRISHNAN forwards yet another forward that has been getting forwarded for years now:
(Statutory Requirement: All those who have read this forward before, proceed no further, please stop right here. Yes, here.)
This test only has one question, but it’s a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision. Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous.
Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line.
You are in Florida, Miami to be specific. There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions.
You are a photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you’re caught in the middle of this epic disaster.
The situation is nearly hopeless. You’re trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water. Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.
Suddenly you see a man floundering in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer… somehow the man looks familiar.
You suddenly realize who it is. It’s George W. Bush! At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to pull him under.
You have two options—you can save the life of G.W. Bush or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world’s most powerful men.
So here’s the question, and please give an honest answer:
Would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?
E R RAMACHANDRAN writes: The meeting started exactly one minute after Rahu Kaalam at Keraleeya Samajam in Mumbai. The meeting was necessitated by the expansionistic tendency of Karnataka.
After gobbling up Belgaum, its greedy eyes were on Kasargod. Hence at the behest of the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, officials of both Government of Maharashtra and Kerala Government were meeting to discuss ways and means to curb Karnataka’s growing imperialism.
“Karnatak is behaving like North Korea. We have to stop it now before it becomes another Hitler,” started the Deputy C.M.
“I agree. Karnatakam is a combination of Iraq and Iran. We have to start imposing sanctions just like US did for Afghanistan before liberating it from Taliban.” That was the Kerala Minister.
“We have decided not to export potato and onions with immediate effect. If you stop exporting banana chips, Karnataka will be dead. Their Bisi Bele Bhath will be finished.”
“I have asked all our teashops across the State not to make ‘Chhaya’ any more. They just can’t get up in the morning without bed-tea.”
“We will also make sure no trains cross over and come to our States. Mahalakshmi Express and Kurla Express will stop well before Miraj. You make sure Kanyakumari Express and Island Express do not enter your State. We will isolate them.”
“Very good idea. We should also ask Tamil Nadu to join us in imposing sanctions. They too have problem with Karnatakam about Cauvery waters. Karnatakam people are crazy about Carnatic music. We will ask Tamil Nadu not to allow its musicians to perform in Karnatakam.”
“Super idea. We have some influence in Dharwad and Hubli. We will make sure no Hindustani singers enter Karnataka and starve them of Gharana music also.”
Kerala Chhaya and Vada-paav was served every hour throughout the meeting.
“I have one more idea. We will ask Sharad Pawar to take way the captaincy from Dravid. But the question arises who should lead the team?”
“Naturally either our Sreeshanth or your Powar.”
“Good. Any other areas we can think of?”
A junior member of GOM raised his hand.
“Karnataka has become a global player now. All the top companies of the world have moved their offices there. It has the best scientists pool. It exports 37% of country’s software and has 50% of sales in BT. Major Banks and publishing houses have moved their offices there. It has become the largest exporter of flowers recently……’.
The Deputy Chief Minister cut him short.
“What do you want to say?”
“How do we stop their progress?”
“We will take the help of Patil and Antony from Government Of India (GOI), to stop them at National / International Level. There is one more way. If we can ensure poor roads, terrible infrastructure, then they cannot grow,” said the Deputy Chief Minister triumphantly.
The junior minister replied, “There is no need to do that, sir. The Government Of Karnataka is already doing it for us!”
H R Gopalakrishna writes: The cricketing fraternity has a very sad piece of news. We have lost a very good statistician in the country, Ashim Kumar Sarkar from Kolkata. Sarkar was on an assignment for All India Radio for the Champions Trophy at Jaipur, where he was not feeling too well. On his return to Kolkata he was hospitalized. He died last night. Doctors say it was a rare viral infection, the exact details are yet not known. He was only 44 years old.
Sarkar was attached to All India Radio for several years, besides he used to contribute to local newspapers in Kolkata like The Times of India, The Statesman, Cricket Quarterly, Annual like ACS Yearbook, ACSSI Yearbook, Anka and go4cricket.com. He was the co-compiler of RG’s Book of World Cricket Records along with Mohandas Menon and D.N. Mukherjee. He was a permanent fixture with All India Radio Commentary team in Kolkata
In September, he attended the First ACSSI Workshop for Statisticians at Nagpur, were he read a paper on ‘Statisticians for the Radio’ and gave a very impressive speech. He interacted with co-statisticians at Nagpur and came up with some excellent suggestions for statisticians. He worked with United Bank of India at Kolkata and left behind a wife and a five-year-old son.
I, on behalf of the statisticians from Bangalore, C Keshavamurthy, KR Gururajaja Rao, B Ravindrananth, Jayapal, and Arun Gopalakrishnan, condole his death and pray Him to give his family enough strength to bear this lost and may his soul rest in peace.
CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY forwards a self-explanatory piece of prose from Paul Coelho’s “Like a Flowing River: Thoughts and Reflections”, marked for him by Madhavan Nambiar, additional secretary, Ministry of Information Technology:
A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter.
At one point, he asked: “Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?”
His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson: “I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’
Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special. “But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen”
“That depends on how you at look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on to them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.
“First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.
“Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpener. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.
“Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps us to keep us on the road to justice.
“Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.
“Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. In just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action.”
SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes from New York City: It’s the Big Apple, they say.
New York City.
Where buildings are spoken about in terms of how many thousand tons of steel and concrete have gone into them.
Where skyscrapers don’t scrape the sky but seem to take a peek at the stratosphere.
Where cars of all shapes and sizes buzz around like bees that have something monumental to achieve in ten minutes flat!
Where people run, almost, and not walk the sidewalks.
Where the colour and the glitz shows not just in the neon signs on buildings but also in the clothes that people wear. And in the languages they speak. And in the accents. Where dreams drive the human spirit and aspirations propel break neck action. Where tomorrow is there to be lived to the full and yesterday was just a trailer. As for today, who has the time to think of it!
New York, they say is the melting pot of the world. In fact home to small portions of the world itself.
From Mandya to Melbourne, from Spain to Port of Spain, from Wembley to Wollongong, you’ll find them all here. Immigrants who landed in the city that never sleeps. A city that is a testament to the combined spirit of enterprise of the citizens of the world who’ve made it their home. Some permanently and some others probably.
Sirens wail, bells clang, and the klaxon is sounded every now and then. A big red fire engine hurtles past the many blocks, to douse some fire, somewhere. But surely not the one that burns in the hearts of men and women who live here, feeding off its vibrancy and lending to it some of their own.
In the midst of the hubbub, the noise, the clatter, the rush and rhapsody, New York also hosts the Om!
Soothing, soulful, calm and clear.
A balm to the mind, a song to the soul, a pursuit of the infinite.
It’s an Indian export surely. One that came in much later than silk. But has stayed on and spread its poses, as it were. Yoga. Among the favoured pursuits of New York, not to speak of most other parts of the United States, it has its ardent believers, the unshakeable faithfuls.
Waking up at five in the morning. It doesn’t matter that the temperature outside is 27 degrees. Farhenheit! Marichasana on Madison Avenue! Trikonasana on 34th Street! There aren’t many streets, by the way, where you don’t find a sign that says, ‘yoga’.
It could be Bikram yoga or Ashtanga yoga of which Mysore’s own Pattabhi Jois is the beacon. Or BKS Iyengar’s. Different methods, different styles. They all have their aficionados.
An eclectic bunch of men and women who lead lives so different from the rest of New York. No Dunkin’ Donuts. So what if the ad says America runs on it. Not them for sure. Only the traditional nuts and fruits, not to forget lentils and cilantro will do. Coconut water instead of Carlsberg beer.
The pursuit of Adhyatma through many accents!
A display of amazing self-control in their lives for sure. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to do the same when they practice the many asanas definitely. A love of a concept, a method of living, a manner of being. Yoga that is practiced much more sincerely and studiously for sure than in any part of the country of its birth itself: India.
Frequent visits to India to learn from the great masters themselves. To Mysore especially, where the legendary nonagerian, Pattabhi Jois lives and teaches Ashtanga yoga. Conversations with his students here tell you that they know as much about Gokulam and Lakshmipuram and Nalpak and the Lakshmi Janardhana Iyengar’s bakery in Saraswathipuram as Broadway and Times Square and Central Park and the Chrysler building!
The world as someone said, is fast becoming a global village. Where would you find the pundits of both ‘papa’ and ‘punya’ than on the busy, bumpy, boisterous and at times, mean streets of New York.
Where for some, the day begins with Surya Namaskara, with a faint sun peeping out from between the 56th and the 69th floors of two behemoths on Fifth Avenue while for most others, it’s with Subway sandwiches with cold cuts and mayonnaise or bagels and coffee at Starbucks!