My Strength

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

with Sri GnanaRajasekaran, director of the Tamil films BHARATI & PERIYAR



Me, the director and Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, Principal, KV,Annanagar, Chennai.
on 28.12.2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

KVS QUARTERLY JOURNAL, ZIET, MYSORE

Read my article

"WHY MORNING ASSEMBLY AT SCHOOL?"

in KVS QUARTERLY JOURNAL, ZIET, MYSORE, VOL.II, ISSUE 3,APRIL, 2007.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

MEENA KUMARI KI SHAAYRI ……



Browsing through the pile of books at Connaught place in October 2006,my eyes fell on a book titled MEENA KUMARI KI SHAAYRI compiled by Gulzar. Meena Kumari, the poet, was a surprise and Gulzar, the attraction. I couldn't resist. Going through her compositions, i was able to realise the extent of pain and loneliness she had undergone. She has couched her pain in words so inimitably that i would call her poems "The voice of pain". A few are selected here for you all.

1.Lamhe

Kai lamhe barsaat ki boondein hai
Naakabiley-giraft
Seene par aakar lagte hai
Aur haat badha
Ki is se pehle
Fisal kar toot jaate hai


2. khaali dukaan

Waqt apni dukaan kyon sajaaye baita hai
Mere saamne…?
Who cheezein jinki kharidaar thi mein
Kahan hai..?
Ye masnui masarthon ke khilouney
Shohrath ke ye kaagazi phool
Aur doulat ki ye momi gudiyan
Jo sheeshe ki almaariyon mein band hai
(ki kisi ke chhoo lene se pighal jo sakti hai)
Yeh woh cheezein nahi hai jinhe mein khareedna chaahoon

Pyaar ka ek khubsurat khwab
Jo meri sulagti hui aankhon mein tandak bhar de
Mohabbat ka ek purthapaak lamha
Jo meri bechain rooh ko pursukoon kar de
Bas inhi ek-do cheezon ki mein kharidaar thi
Aur waqt ki dukaan in cheezon se khaali nikli

Chandrolsavam



MEENAYATUM BHAVATI MAANAYATUM JANANI NEE NAAKAVUM NAKAKHAKHAM THAANAYATUM KHARA NADEE NAARIYUM AA NAAKAVUM NARAKAVUM NEE NAAMAROOPAMATHIL NAANAVIDHAPRAKRITHI MAANAYATHENNARIYUMEE NJANAYATUM BHAVATHI,….HEY NAADAROOPINI…AHO….NAATAKAM NIKHILAVUM

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cultural Resistance in Post-colonial literature

A reading of THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY and RANGA'S MARRIAGE

These two stories prescribed for class XI are the finest examples of post-colonial resistance to westernisation.

THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
Khushwant Singh's story of the grand mother and her grandson is an attempt to showcase the transition period in India, the transition from the rural to the urban. Urbanisation, westernisation and invasion of our culture, language,science/medicine and values were undergoing a change in the British and post-British period in India. The spread of English language was one of the obvious signs of the change. One cannot abruptly conclude that the change/shift/transition was without resistance. The two dominant characters in Khushwant Singh's story represent the two ethos. The village education described in graphic detail in the story is nothing short of a microcosmic picture of the Indian ethos and Indian education system. The education system in India was never a dissociated or fragmented concept. It was always integrated with life and nature. It held that there is no point in education if it is not connected to the life and people around. The story clearly depicts how the dogs in the village (representing animals and life around)were always an integral and inseparable part of life and education. Education was mostly based on religion and spirituality where one was expected to learn greater or simpler(simply greater!)aspects of life. The children at the village school learn hymns from scriptures from the priest in the temple. Grandmother's first cultural shock is about the education her grandson receives in the city school. He is being fed upon Western ideas and language and she is just one of those who felt the deterioration of our values and life style in its intense gravity. She finds life so disintegrated in the city(stands for westernized system)where there are no dogs in the city, her grandson is given a room of his own(the western notion of "privacy" sets in family), they hardly meet each other, he repeats English words and talks about the subjects he learns, goes by bus to school etc. She realizes the gradual marginalisation of her significance in moulding his character and life. But she resists the change and the cultural conversion he and his parents have undergone in many ways: use of the spinning wheel(even today it is a symbol of our lost identity), chanting and telling the beads of the rosary, reading the scriptures and feeding the sparrows. She leads a life of resistance instead of just voicing it. In the end of the story, her resistance grows stronger when the invasion is quite obvious and aggressive on her. She spurns the words and medicines of the doctor(the western medical treatment)and devotes herself to prayer.

Khushwant Singh's grandmother,therefore, ceases to be a person and manifests the voices of resistance against cultural invasion.



RANGA'S MARRRIAGE

Masti Venkatesha Iyengar's story poignantly satirizes colonisation and cultural invasion. The first few paragraphs of the story clearly question the politics of mapping. The narrator describes his village and questions the reason for it not being displayed in any of the maps. He triggers a debate on how places find place in maps. He is proud of his village, culture, language and identity and doesn't want any one to take it for granted or impose their superiority over it. Inspite of all the English education in the city and western notions of marriage, Ranga ultimately ends up marrying a village girl in the Indian way. The narrator plays a practical joke on him using the astrologer and discovers that all the claims of Ranga about his urban and western exposure is thoroughly superficial and hasn't made even an iota of change in his psyche. English has influenced Indians as a language but not as a culture. It fails, as the story suggests,to percolate into our psyche.

Both the stories voice cultural resistance in their own unique ways and that is a clear testimony that we did have polyphonic manifestations of cultural and colonial resistance.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MEHDI HASSAN, THE LEGEND

My passion for music scaled new heights the day i listened to Mehdi Hassan sab. His inimitable and profound voice thrills me beyond measure. The first album i listened to was MEHDI HASSAN, THE LEGEND which my elder brother had gifted me in the year 2002 at New Delhi. Since then, i have been cherishing an irresistible desire to meet this great singer and touch his feet, yes, to pay obeisance to Music itself. His voice flows through veins, lights up the innermost corner of my being and fills me with joy inexplicable. I feel, our knowledge of Ghazals is indefinitely incomplete without listening to Mehdi Hassan. Here's a tribute to him and all ghazal lovers from me: I am posting here the lyrics of two songs from the album MEHDI HASSAN, THE LEGEND. If you find anything wrong with the lyrics, kindly correct me.

1. Main hosh mein tha tho phir uspe mar gaya kaise………
Ye jahar mere lahoo mein uthar gaya kaise.

Kuch uske dil mein lagavat zaroor thi warna….
Wo mera haath….
Wo mera haath dabaakar guzar gaya kaise….
Ye jahar mere lahoo mein uthar gaya kaise…………….(mein hosh)

Zaroor uski tavajjon….
Zaroor uski tavajjon ki rahbari hogi
Nashe mein tha
Nashe mein that to mein apne hi ghar gaya kaise…
Ye jahar mere lahoo mein uthar gaya kaise…………….(mein hosh)

Jise bhulaaye kai saal ho gaye kaamil
Mein aaj uski….
Mein aaj uski gali se guzar gaya kaise……
Ye jahar mere lahoo mein uthar gaya kaise…………….(mein hosh)


2. JAB BHI MAIKHANE SE PEEKAR…
Jab bhi maikhane se peekar hum chale…..
Saat lekar saikadon aalam chale………

Thak gaye phir zindagi ki raah mein……..
Hoke maikhane se thaaza dum chale…………( jab bhi)

Baad muddat ke mile hai aaj wo….
Gardishe-dauran zara magdham chale………..

Jitney gam zalim zamane ne diye…………..
Dafn karke maikhade mein hum chale……..

Peene waalon mauzmon ki kaid kya…………
Aaj to ek daur bemauzam chale…………… (jab bhi)

Friday, October 1, 2010

READER-RESPONSE...When Asokamitran visited KV, MINAMBAKKAM







Reader-Response................ when ASOKAMITRAN visted KV Minambakkam

06.05.10

2.30 p.m. A Sultry Chennai afternoon.
Madam Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, the principal of KV, Minambakkam broke the news that any reader would love to hear--writer Asokamitran is visiting our In-service course venue at K.V. Minambakkam. For the post graduate teachers of English in Kendriya vidyalayas, Asokamitran is a very endearing name for the extract from his book MY YEARS WITH BOSS prescribed for class-xii titled "Poets and Pancakes", a graphic depiction of the life and people at Gemini studios in its days of glory. The extract is very special for the freshness of the language and the subtle humor and wit in the portrayal. The principal sent for me and I stood in her chamber unable to believe my eyes. He was there, the one who brought the life of Gemini studios in such visual clarity and detail that not even a documentary would succeed in doing. I used to tell my students about the spontaneity and the urgency in his writing and had always wished to see the writer.

Madam introduced me,

“He’s Mr. Santhosh, one of the participants for the course. He’s been after me pleading for a meeting with you.”

I shook hands with the writer. The tangibility of words! Holding my hand he walked into the conference hall. I welcomed him on behalf of all the participants, resource persons, associate course director and the course director. One of the participants had already projected on LCD screen a photo of the writer and of Gemini studios. But little did we pay attention to it for long as the writer was there before us. The living presence of the writer made the otherwise drowsy afternoon at once brisk and lively. The writer addressed us about his compelling passion and drive for creative expression in his characteristic humor. He reminisced the days at Gemini as teachers crowded round him with the English textbook for class XII asking him doubts about various aspects in the lesson. His face glowed in and out by the flash of digital cameras. He urged us to read more and more.

Like the Gemini literati, he was flanked by the forty four of us for a group snap. I could see him straining during the tedious task of penning a line in the one-after-another stretched pages before him. I am sure he would never feel writing a strain except for this.

Before leaving, he said,
“follow the tale not the teller. I like realistic approach”.

Age could not wither his passion for literature and writing. He talked a lot about Malayalam literature with me. We shared our liking for Anand and M. Govindan. He mentioned a few episodes of his intimacy with M. Govindan.

He said he was very happy to see such an overwhelming response from teachers. We saw him off with a feeling of incompleteness. A strange feeling of having seen “what lies behind”. Yes, the charm lies in the tale, true sir. I glanced through the pages of the lesson “poets and pancakes”. Yes, the tale remains in its pristine charm and mystery.

I withdrew my request to visit Gemini studios. It’s unnecessary now.

I read the line he had written for me in a page “to my reader…with best wishes”. I knew how much he valued a good reader. No doubt, literature lives by the response from readers.
_______________

By
SANTHOSH KUMAR KANA

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

DID SOPHIE REALLY MEET DANNEY CASEY?

Mrs. Vineetha, PGT-English, KV, KANNUR writes...

Did Sophie really meet Danny Casey?

Never on a one to one basis. Of course she knew him as the star player her brother adored. I think the clue lies in Sophie’s obvious distaste for her working class background; she feels she is born for better things like Maupassant's Mattilda Loisel (diamond necklace). The Danny Casey story is her one stab at escaping -to a world of glamour and sophistication. Then why Danney?

Reason 1- he is the one star she knows, a way from her dreary circle.

2nd- she would like her brother to see her as a woman, not a girl - a girl good enough to be noticed and asked out by men like DANNY CASEY whom he admires.

And now the last part - her meeting him- remember, the place she chose for the meeting? One which she had seen other lovers use- her unconscious ideal rendezvous. Then the whole meeting thing- defense mechanism plus a strong imagination- willingly she goes through the motions of a girl in love- first the joyous anticipation part, then the doubting part, confirmation that he is not coming- she tells “now i am sad”

What I mean, is that she goes through each motion of love, savoring each step. It is as if there are two persons- one who goes through anticipation, doubt, heart-break and sadness life long, while the other looks on enjoying. Many nights of girlhood many through these steps with some boy who catch their fancy and their tears and sighs would be very real. They enjoy it too. I mean, girls love to be the tragic queens!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mayank Mohan Upadhyay says the letter in THE THIRD LEVEL is real

The Third Level
“THE LETTER IS REAL”

Have you seen Farhan Akhtar and Deepika Padukone starrer Hindi movie “Karthik calling Karthik”? It resembles with this story to a great extent.

Of course, the letter was real. It really did exist.

Charley was an ordinary man, who was fed up with all kinds of tensions and worries that plagued his heart. So, he wanted to escape from reality.

He imagined that he was successful in escaping. The intensity of his wish to break free was so high, that he got to believe that it was a reality. In real sense, it was mere a creation of his mind. Thus, the third level was born and existed only in Charley’s psyche.

Human mind is a strange thing. Charley’s mind was divided into two parts. One, that Charley controlled, and other, which controlled Charley. Actually, Charley was ignorant himself of the fact that it was his own creation. Hence, from one part of his brain, he was normal. When the other part of mind made him visualize the third level then Charley felt it to be real. And he wanted to tell others about his experience. He told everyone something, which they found hard to digest.

The dominating part of mind, which was the mother of that unreal world, wanted to make others believe it. Hence, it instructed Charley to tell everyone that there was a psychiatrist named Sam, who said it was just his ‘waking dream wish fulfillment’.

By this, the mind wanted to make others trust that, if Charley talks differently, then at least there existed a person named Sam, who was stable, because Sam said those words, which they had expected and hence they agreed. The mind also instructed Charley to write a letter on the paper, which was inside an envelope of his Grandfather’s first day cover collection, under Sam’s signature.

Moreover, the dominating part of mind made Charley to go and buy more old style currency. Hundreds of people come and go to a shop. How’d a shopkeeper remember who had bought what? He paid the bill under the name Sam.

Many times, when we place a key somewhere and forget, then our sub-conscious mind tells us where to look at, for it. Isn’t it? Like this, when Charley became normal again, i.e., when he gained back control, he saw that mail and was surprised. Also, he went to the shop to find ‘Sam’ had bought old style currencies. His dictating part of mind asked him to do both these tasks. And Charley felt that it was a calling from his sub-consciousness.

Therefore, Charley was himself forced to accept as true that Sam reached that level.

Again he told one and all. They could have easily denied Charley, saying he was crazy. But the mind firstly proved, through Charley, that Sam was an even person. Next, the mind made Sam, the center of scenario. And hence, all were choiceless but to accept that third level was reality.

Nowhere in the story is it mentioned that Sam met anyone personally. Only possibility was at the shopkeeper’s, but it was none other than our Charley.

Hence, the letter was real, all else was just a fake….

---by MAYANK MOHAN UPADHYAY, XII-B, KV,AFS,YELAHANKA

Mayank is very creative. I see a future poet and writer in him. I'm proud to have him as my student.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

THE NEED TO INTROSPECT: Pablo Neruda’s KEEPING QUIET


‘Keeping Quiet’ is a deceptively simple poem by Neruda about the exigency of self-analysis and introspection in building up a new world. An Indian reader with a penchant for spiritual stuff would find the poem offering rich resource for explaining things like meditation, awareness etc.

The poem is a plea for peace from one who has seen the dire consequences of war and and violence.

See the line,
“Let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.”


ARMS can also mean weapons and moving arms (arms-hands)is the stock gesture of dictation and order of any political leader. Remember how Chaplin makes fun of Hitler in “The Great Dictator” esp. in a scene where he sweats and fumes during a speech. The poet pleads people to do self-analysis before doing anything. A person without awareness in action would spread the same ignorance around. It is a vicious circle.


Sri Ramakrishna used to say,

“First rub your hands with oil and then break open the jack-fruit;
otherwise they will be smeared with its sticky milk.
First secure the oil of divine love, and then set your hand
to the duties of the world."

The poet directs our attention to Nature to convince us that Nature too holds back itself only to come back with better output. The same applies to us.

What is significant about “twelve” in the poem?

There are twenty-four hours in a day in all, with twelve hours for a half a day. The hours are numbered from one to twelve for both the ante meridiem (a.m.) half of the day and the post meridiem (p.m.) half of the day. 12:00 after a.m. and before p.m. (in the middle of the day) is midday or noon, and 12:00 after p.m. and before a.m. (in the middle of the night) is midnight. A new day is considered to start with the stroke of midnight. Furthermore, the basic units of time (60 seconds, 60 minutes, and 24 hours) can all perfectly divide by twelve.

In scripture we find twelve associated with rule. The sun which rules the day and the moon and stars which govern the night move through the twelve signs of the zodiac. The zodiac resides in the great circle of the heavens, which is itself 360 degrees (= 30 x 12).

The Heavenly City of Revelations has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes on them. Twelve angels stand at the gates; the walls have twelve foundations garnished with twelve precious stones, and in them the names of the twelve apostles. The city is twelve thousand furlongs square, and the twelve gates are twelve pearls. The number twelve is used here symbolically of God's perfect government.

The importance of 12 in Judaism and Christianity can be found in the Bible. The Twelfth chapter of the Bible starts with God calling Abram to come out of the land he was living in and go wehre God would tell him. This is the beginning of God’s plan to call out a nation unto him, that would be ruled by God and be a testimony to all the nations of the earth of the one true God. Here we can see the link between perfect government and the number twelve.

There are 12 days of Christmas.

Most calendar systems have twelve months in a year.

At twelve, the hands of a clock are one. It is Oneness that the poem calls for.

Count the letters in the title “Keeping Quiet”, there are twelve.

Or, the poet may have used 'twelve' for no reason.
______________

Sunday, July 11, 2010

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR ASOKAMITRAN?

Hey,

If you have read any of the writings of Asokamitran, please post a question for the writer here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Endless questions-NIGHT OF THE SCORPION

When I asked a few villagers about the practice of keeping a scorpion still, they told me that if a scorpion stings some one, they would catch hold of it and hang it in front of the house so that it doesn't move.

A) "Peasants came like swarms of flies". Why "flies"?

1. It was raining and flies are attracted towards the candle and the lantern light
2. The peasants were buzzing the name of God like the buzzing sound of the flies.

B) Why the world is called “unreal”?

Religion holds that this world is just a preparatory ground for the real world which we enter after death. So, this world will have good and bad in equal proportion whereas the real world has got only good and no evil.

C) Don’t you think the narrator in the poem is very passive, only reporting what goes around and never does anything to change the situation? The narrator is assumed to be a child but is there a mention of his age? So, don’t you think the narrator too must be blamed for not helping his mother?

THE FROG AND THE NIGHTINGALE-creative freedom

The frog in Vikram Seth's poem is a symbolic representation of music or art patrons who thrive at the cost of others' talent. Vikram Seth doesn't have the creative freedom to pin point such people in the society. So he makes animals as characters in his poem. Most of the fables we have read since childhood all contain valuable social messages. The lion that dictates other animals to be his food every day and is fooled to jumping into the well is worth mentioning here. Read the famous novel by George Orwell "Animal Farm". So, the frog and the nightingale are fable versions of people around us. It is our moral duty to identify such frogs and set them right.

Breaking the fetters- A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Do you know that "scrooge" means "MISER" in dictionary?

Scrooge becomes a true christian at the end of the play. The ghosts who visit him are not real. They are all in his mind. They show his deeds in the past, present and what would happen in the future. Future is nothing but an extension of the past. If you want to alter the future, alter the present. To get out of the vicious cycle of sin and punishment, one has to do "mankind's business".ie, charity, mercy,love etc. All the characters in the play are instrumental in bringing about a spiritual metamorphosis in Scrooge. Travelling in time is another aspect of interest in the play-The TIME MACHINE theme.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER AND THE CREATIVE TRAVAIL

Hope you all know that "rime" also means "snow".
Mariner is frantically longing for an outlet. He wants to share his experience with someone which makes him feel relieved. It is like a catharsis or unburdening. This can also be read as the creative travail of every writer or artist.Every artist undergoes a period of extreme stress and tension (almost like the labour pain of a woman)before he is successful in giving vent to his ideas. Mariner longs for creative output.

Mariner's experience or journey is not one man's journey alone. It represents the entire journey of humanity. True to the Bible, every one is a sinner. Or, as per other religions every sinner has to face nemesis. It need not always be a punishment from outside. Our mind carries every experience as memory and it is enough to punish us. As T.S. Eliot says in "The Waste Land",

"Keep that dog far hence which is friend to man"

He refers to our conscience as a dog which would unearth all the sins we have buried in the subconscious of our mind. Read Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment".

The punishment for Mariner is to wander cautioning people against the kind of sin he has committed. He is also like Jacob Marley in "A Christmas Carol" who is doomed to wander in chains. Mariner says he has killed the Albatross for no reason. Yes, Sin is the result of ignorance. The bird he had killed dominates his psyche. That's why he compares the storm to a bird in his narration.

The hardships undergoes is a symbolic representation of the consequences of sin/crime. In crime/sin one may be with a group. But in punishment one is alone. No fellow sailor comes to his support. They,in fact, blame him for killng the bird. They punish him hanging the dead albatross round his neck.

This poem also has hidden reference to the crucifixion of Christ who like the Albatross came to save or help humanity. The same cross we carry round our neck like the albatross.

Read this poem and "A Christmas Carol" side by side. You will get more insights.

‘SPOKEN ENGLISH’ AND THE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT LEARNING A LANGUAGE

SANTHOSH KUMAR KANA
________________________________________________________________

One of my friends once said to me:
“See, I want to improve my English. Hereafter, we will talk only in spoken English”

I couldn’t help giggling.

For me, It is like asking for “egg omelet”.

I feel there is something cardinally defective about the way ‘Spoken English’ is understood and it needs to be discussed in clearing many of the misconceptions about learning a language.

‘Spoken English’ is a popular term familiar to all of us. Many are after it, as it is always in the case of all popular things. What does the term mean? It means ‘The English spoken’. Does it mean that it is different from the English that is ‘written’? Or if someone says that it is and it is so because here grammar is not important, then let me ask how he/she would correct a student who says that “I am going to school” and “I went to school” are the same in meaning. He/she has to make the student aware of Tense and the change in form of verbs in each Tense. It has to be understood that English is not separate from spoken English. To speak a language, we should learn it. Learning does not mean only reading books or learning passive and active voice, gerund etc. Learning requires skills like listening and observation. A waiter in a restaurant may be seen speaking English well. He may not know grammar as we learn it from books. But he has observed and listened to people speaking English and has interacted with them. Yes, he has put in lot of effort.

When my students ask me,
“Sir, how to improve my English?”
My reply is another question,
“How did you learn your mother tongue?”

Let it be Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam or Telugu, the methods to learn are the same. English is not an exceptional language just because it is a foreign language and whatever foreign need not be exceptional. I am afraid that the term ‘Spoken English’ has created, at least among a few, the idea that only English needs such special concern and importance. I have never come across a board saying ‘Spoken Malayalam, Spoken Telugu, Spoken German or Spoken French’.

Learning a language is a long process. In learning a language, we are once again becoming like children. Everything around us starts attracting our attention. For example, when we come across a centipede, we start asking how it is called in English. Or when we eat, we ask what each dish or vegetable is called in English. Otherwise, we take these things for granted. That is why elders are usually annoyed when children keep asking questions about minute and taken-for-granted things.

It is an arduous process yet beautiful as it is natural. At the same time, it is to be noted that language is subjective unlike science. The law of gravitation is the same for Newton, you and me. But the way I speak a language is quite different from the way others speak it. Or, each one has got a unique way of expressing oneself. This uniqueness has to be discovered and polished through constant reading, writing, and speaking, listening and similar practices. This is how a language has to be learnt. I don’t want to say ‘mastered’ because language being subjective and relative in expression always finds ahead of it an infinite horizon to be reached. As Tennyson writes in “Ulysses”,
“Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move”.

Language is subjected to fluctuations too, depending on its use. Language is not something to be mugged up like the names of the parts of a computer in a computer theory class. I have never attended any ‘Spoken English’ class as I found the very concept or the way it is understood, quite absurd. We used to speak English. And that was it. If you speak English in any class, it is an English spoken class. Then, why that tag “spoken”? I can speak Tamil, Hindi, Kannada and Bengali other than Malayalam and English. All of them were learnt by interaction-talking to people, asking them to correct, listening to them, watching movies in these languages. In fact, the subtitles of film dialogues and songs are really interesting and make learning an enjoyable experience. I still do it as learning is a process that has no end. I remember having written a lot of letters to my friends and relatives in English when I was at school. I remember, the first two or three letters were written with microscopic scrutiny and yet with misgivings. The letters written later carried repetitions. Still later, I found myself quite comfortable and at ease when I was writing letters in English. I always tried to incorporate in my letters all the new words and phrases I had learnt by reading or listening. This helped me not only in improving my vocabulary but the effectiveness of my expression. The same I could carry forward in speaking too. The centers for spoken English too are not places where you can learn it without any effort within a limited time. This is where the misconception comes. These centers expose you to different situations and the way English has to be spoken in these situations. But the basic skills and constant effort to polish them cannot be replaced by any short cut.

I would like to mention here a similar problem. I have found in many places boards displaying ‘transcendental meditation’. Meditation itself is transcendental. Or to be precise, what is there to transcend? Or who is there to transcend? We often miss the Obvious.

The following simple and interesting methods can help you improve your learning of a language:

1. Interaction, which includes careful listening and observation.
2. Reading books that interest you, news reports that interest you.
3. Watching movies in English
4. Subtitles of films (For example, a film in Hindi with subtitle in English can help Hindi speakers. Same with any other language). You will come across many new ways of expression. Note them and try to use them in your speech or writing. It is like using a bilingual dictionary.
5. Writing letters to friends or relatives in English even if both of you usually use your mother tongue or a common language. There is lot of mutual learning here.

Try to use the new words and phrases that you have learnt from this. Writing improves your expression the most. And when you are writing, you are speaking too. They are inseparable. Unless one does any of these, improving language and expression are almost impossible. Mere reading of books like “Learn English in 30 days” will not help without a practical knowledge of language by its use. SPEAK IT instead of SPEAKING ABOUT IT and the whole problem is solved.

I am not against centers for Spoken English or Meditation. The misconception that they are end in themselves needs to be dispelled in order to promote a right attitude towards learning a language. If they help you in making your language learning intense, your pursuit serious, then go ahead.

But remember, to learn a language, you have to live with it.
_______________

Friday, February 19, 2010

Painting the Inner Space…..Landscape of the Soul

“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them” -Picasso

The lesson “Landscape of the Soul” deals with a comparative study of European and Chinese paintings. It touches upon various subtleties of reality and art. Art is one of the forms of expression like poetry, music and dance. All these forms of expression have an abstract nature as they can’t be defined and have to be felt or experienced. The lesson has three important areas of discussion: anecdotes related to Chinese and European painting, Daoism and how one of the philosophical doctrines of Daoism called “Shanshui” is reflected in Chinese paintings.


The lesson starts with an anecdote related to Chinese painting where an emperor commissions a painter named Wu Daozi to paint a landscape. Once the painting is ready, the emperor is invited and he appreciates the painting looking at the forests, high mountains, waterfall, clouds and men on hilly paths, birds in flight etc. in the painting. The painter is not satisfied and he invites the attention of the emperor towards a cave in the painting inside which he says dwells a spirit. The painter claps his hands and the entrance to the cave opens. The painter says, “The inside is splendid, beyond anything words can convey. Please let me show your Majesty the way”. The painter enters the cave and disappears. The painting too disappears from the palace wall.

What does this tale mean? Such tales were very common in China’s classical education. It was through such stories great masters made abstract concepts concrete. Such tales reveal that art has an inner life, meaning or soul. Only when one is able to see that inner life, one can understand its true meaning. The emperor had appreciated the painting only from the outer, the external. He could see the body of the painting whereas the painter showed him the soul, the inner life and meaning of the painting. Art and artist are one. Creator and creation are one and there can be no separation. Once a master was asked by a disciple, “Where has the creator gone after creating all these?” The master replied, “The creator is inside the creation”.

Chinese paintings are based on the philosophy of Daoism. Dao means “path or way”-the way into the mystery of the universe. The emperor may rule over territories, but the artist alone knows the way within. Life makes no meaning unless we undertake the inner, spiritual journey. It is said “Those who look out dream, those who look in wake up”. When Wu Daozi said, “let me show you the way”, he meant the way to the inner meaning of art or mystery of the universe. This is the spirit of Chinese paintings. They do not reproduce an actual view, but uses a real landscape to say something more. A Chinese painter, therefore, wants the viewer to take plural view points to enter into his painting and travel in it. He wants our active participation, not only physical but mental. His landscape is not a copy of a real landscape; it is a representation of an inner reality, a spiritual and conceptual space. According to Daoism, this universe is composed of two complementary poles, viz. Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine). The interaction of these two energies makes the universe. Their meeting point too holds great significance though often overlooked. In Daoism, Landscape is called “Shanshui” (Shan-mountain, Shui-water) but it doesn’t represent a real landscape but the Daoist view of the universe. To understand Chinese paintings, one must understand Daoism. A Chinese landscape is based on the philosophical doctrines of Daoism. So, the mountains and water in the Chinese painting is representative of Shanshui and the unpainted space is representative of the middle void where the interaction between Yin and Yang takes place. Man is the medium of communication between the two complementary poles of the universe and you can see his presence too in the Chinese paintings.


European paintings follow delicate realism by reproducing an actual view of realtiy. The more close it is to the real, the better. The landscape in a European painting is a copy of the real landscape. It doesn’t represent an inner reality or meaning. It tries for an illusionistic likeness with the real. A European painter wants the viewer to choose a single view point and it requires no active mental participation of the viewer.


The tales related to European paintings reveal it clearly. In the story of Quinten Metsys, the painting was appreciated as the fly on the panel looked exactly like a real one. The same holds good for the story about the frightening likeness of a dragon to the real which repelled the painter himself from drawing its eye.

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video

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DO YOU FAVOUR BABULI?

Read "Tribute" this way:

Babuli is highly sarcastic and critical of his wife and her plans of investment. Don't you think what his wife did is right? She is the one who runs the family, knows how to balance the expenditure for domestic as well as personal use. If she feels Babuli should buy a scooter, is it a big crime nowadays? She knows life and time are changing. The vicissitudes of economy is first felt in the kitchen. A woman knows it better than anyone else. I feel she is an ideal housewife.

She gives a very practical advice to her impractical and sentimental husband about selling the land in the village and investing that money in the bank. She knows the practical difficulty of looking after it staying away from the village. Isn't it a wise advice?

It is through Babuli's words we get a picture of his wife. His opinions are no doubt that of the male-dominated society's perception of women. He tries to make his wife appear cruel (remember he compares her to a butcher!!!see the extent of male ego?)and money-minded. Think what moral commitment and integrity Babuli has...and you will feel shocked. Remember him saying how a “stranger” all of sudden can influence his life than his brothers. He treats his wife like a stranger who has no right to advise him or check him. He blames his sisters-in-law for initiating the family feud underlining that women are responsible for domestic splits.

Now look at Babuli's second brother. Again it is through Babuli we know him. How can you call it immoral or cruel if his second brother asks for his property? Don't you see that he is ready to pay for the land he demands from Babuli? I hope you all would call it absolutely sensible to have a legal and practical approach in matters related to property. It makes relationships smoother and stronger even or specially between brothers/sisters. No wise or matured man would call it selfishness or greed.

Second brother is a very modern and practical person. He knows that the times ahead are not what used to be. One has to be straightforward and not merely emotional or sentimental. No joined family is going to last when private property and family welfare, good education, good facilities etc. become one's priority. Moreover, what is the point in having a joined family of suppressed wails and grouses compared to a nuclear family of less inteference, the optimum in relationships and better facilities for new generation?

How can we trust the narrator Babuli who holds others responsible for his family’s downfall? Imagine what would have been the story had it been written from the point of view of Babuli’s wife or second brother? Babuli’s narrative is prejudiced and he paints many dark out of his own guilt.

Think and see the change in your understanding of the text. No text is a finished product. It gets life and meaning only with the reader. Every text is a social and political conTEXT.

The writer is a medium-THE LABURNUM TOP

Do you know why Ted Hughes compares the laburnum tree to a machine?

It is a clear example of the profound influence of industrial revolution where villages/countries are slowly giving way to cities and the natural bounty, agriculture etc. are replaced by concrete buildings, machines, industries etc. The poet too gets the picture of a machine in his mind since he lives in a world of machines. You can't expect a poet to compare the tree to a computer in Shakespearean age as there were no computers.

AILING PLANET

These are slogans prepared by me on the topic "Global warming/environmental pollution/sustainable development"

AILING PLANET, WAILING LIVES.
DEARTH OF TREES, EARTH OF WORRIES.
EARTH IS THE FOUNDATION FOR ANY BUILDING.
PLANT A TREE FOR EVERY STOREY,LIFE IS NO MORE A MISERY.
CONCRETE JUNGLE, ABSTRACT DEVELOPMENT.
EARTH IS A COSY WOMB,DON'T MAKE IT A SCARY TOMB.
EVERYTIME ICE MELTS IT IS NOT FUN.

THE VOICE OF THE RAIN

Whitman's poem "The Voice of the Rain" is not only about the cyclic process in nature but also about the cyclic nature of creative process. Every writer,poet or artist gets experience,ideas or motive from the land,ie, the world/society. He combines it with imagination(which is considered heavenly.so from the sky)and it gets a new form in writing or painting and returns to the world/society or people. So every "Oliver Twist" or every "Animal Farm" or "Gitanjali" is the result of this cyclic process. See how they beautify the world, our lives and thoughts!!

Music is nothing but noise/sound harmonised. One of the music albums of the genius musician Ilayaraja is titled "How to Name it? Nothing but the Wind". A Musician converts the common soounds into melodious music. The sound of a moving train is familiar to all of us. But when A.R.Rahman made it "Chik Puk Chik Puk railey.." or another musician made it "Dhadak Dhadak.." in Bunty aur Bubli, it became melodious music. Kamal Hassan film "Guna" has an excellent and brilliant example of how a conversation can be made a melody. "Kanmani anpode kaaathalan..." That is creativity.

Rain is the creative output of the earth.

My mother at sixty six

This poem by Kamala Das in class XII english textbook depicts the silent pangs of separation encountered by an aging woman, the mother as well as the daughter who knows the truth but is helpless due to changing life and times.

Separation from mother and the search for security starts from the day the umbilical cord is cut and a baby is separated from the most cosy and secure world,ie,the womb to a world of struggle and hurry. In a way everyone is searching for this cosy womb like security throughout their life.

It is also said that every girl likes a man who resembles her father and every boy a woman who resembles his mother. If you observe you would also find that most of our romantic songs are lullabies. For example, the song in the film "Bombay".."Tu hi re..."

INFLUENCE OF TRADITION IN FORMING AND REFORMING A NATION

Tradition has been so deep rooted in the Indian psyche that any reform it has undergone is seldom uninfluenced by tradition and myths. Of course, religion and religious texts represent tradition to a larger extent. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have a considerably profound influence in our psyche that the very character of the Indians is rooted in the morals these texts have left behind. Every incident or issue, the solution to be sought for an issue etc. is referred back to these texts. What would have been the history of this nation if the course of events in the epics would have been different is a food for thought. Rama and Krishna are not characters for the Indians but people of immaculate character and perfection who form their role model and ideal and this gives these characters the stature of god. Though spiritual masters have tried to create awareness about the need to worship or comprehend the formless, they have not been able to do it but with a reference to religion or these gods. Take any book of a spiritual master, or the questions asked to such masters, you would be surprised to see that all of them centre on the discussion of religion and morality based on the epics. No attempt has been made successfully to break the pattern directly. Swami Vivekananda while talking about idol worship doesn’t say it is to be given up straightaway but puts it more cleverly without disturbing the pattern saying, “Start from the temple, but don’t end/die there”. Raja Rammohan Roy is credited with the abolition of Sati and widow burning but is said to have done it under a religious-compromising garb. He is reported to have said that Sati can be abolished as it is not mentioned to be mandatory in the Puranas. When Puranas do not recommend it as mandatory one can easily give it up! As a result, it invited less protest against him.

Jiddu Krishnamurthy and U.G.Krishnamurthy have been the only spiritual reformers who have tried to tread a fresh path but their influence, without surprise, remains confined to a negligible minority.

They blatantly condemn any attempt to generate a discussion on religion and the epics and bravely (it is a brave attempt as the Indian psyche won’t tolerate such insults to their beliefs) said that their belief system is their enemy.

Though Osho tried to speak the same thing, he made it more ornamental with religious pedantry and wise anecdotes making it more of an entertainment. Even he ran into trouble when he said that sex is one of the doors to God. It explains the limited perimeters of the belief system. You can’t come back alive if you make it to a rural religious festival in India commenting on the futility and the non-existence of God.

Literature of a nation is the psychological history of the nation, the thoughts it houses, the way it reacts to the external and the way it is trying to evolve. Here too the picture is not so different. The so-called modern or avant-garde writings have been speaking about the plight of modern man, his existentialistic quests and disillusionment from the framework of tradition. There have been umpteen writings on redefining epics and mythical characters in the modern context. But the base is tradition and it does the same thing what spiritual and social reformers have tried to do. The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor is another such attempt to depict the Indian independence movement on the basis of the characters and plot of the Mahabharata. The same trend has been widely seen in the regional literatures of the country. Innovation or revolution in literature has often been such bold (as it questions the credibility of the morals and stature of the characters in the epics/religion) rewriting or redefining of the so-called evil characters in the epics. Indian psyche has hardly undergone such ground-shaking changes like the West as reflected in Western literature. This explains why novel as a medium has hardly advanced in India and existentialism and absurd theatre do not make any significant impact on the Indian psyche. Indian psyche, it appears, has moved from solutions to problems and that diluted the intensity of problems. The Indian psyche always draws solutions galore from tradition and therefore no problem appears new. The spiritual and religious philosophy of the country has from time immemorial stressed the immortal significance of eternal truths and shrugged off worldly issues as too small to be taken seriously. It has been a reverse journey compared to the West. Tradition stands like an inexhaustible reservoir of life values offering constant solutions, being the eternal source of reference and thus unfortunately it curbs the scope of path-breaking reforms.
_________

By
Santhosh Kumar Kana

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

FATHER TO SON

THE ONGOING CONFLICT BETWEEN FATHER AND SON
An insight into the poem FATHER TO SON by Elizabeth Jennings

The poem revolves around a conflict between father and son who are in a serious communication gap. Though they live in the same house/globe, they are like strangers to each other. The father broods over this and this forms the centre of the poem. He introspects with an agrarian imagery where he feels he has sown his seed in a stranger’s land that forbids him from owning it. He admits that he cannot share what his son loves and expects him to come back home like the Prodigal/lost son in the parable of Jesus in the Bible. He is ready to forgive him and develop a new love from sorrow. But his son feels anger growing out of sorrow and admits the vain efforts of both in understanding each other.

This poem doesn’t merely depict a domestic conflict but touches upon the Creator-creation conflict/god-man conflict which gives an entirely novel dimension to the poem. Remember the Frankenstein story.

Had the poem been written from the point of view of the son, it would have brought in new scopes for discussion and debate.
“Your children are not your children…” from the Prophet can be recounted in this context.

Monday, February 1, 2010

CHECKLIST FOR CBSE ENGLISH-CLASS X,XI & XII


CHECK LIST FOR CLASS-XI

THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
The character of the grandmother (Physical description + Nature)
Village/Rural Education Vs City/Urban Education
Turning point in the relationship between grandmother and grandson
Return of grandson from abroad

WE ARE NOT AFRAID TO DIE IF WE CAN ALL BE TOGETHER
Sea voyage-main incidents (date wise)
Qualities/Values necessary to overcome adversities
Crewmen
Ile Amsterdam
Children (Suzanne & Jonathan)
The ship-Wavewalker

DISCOVERING TUT: THE SAGA CONTINUES
Study of Tut’s Mummy (Three phases)
C.T. Scan
Archaeology-changes over the years
Tut’s family line
Egyptian Mummy Project
Tut’s funerary treasures

LANDSCAPE OF THE SOUL
The difference between Western and Eastern Painting (European & Chinese)
Tales from the East
Tales from the West
Outsider Art
Shanshui
Daoism
The Emperor and the Artist

THE AILING PLANET: GREEN MOVEMENT’S ROLE
Green Movement
Sustainable development
Zoo at Zambia
Brandt Commission
Four Principal biological systems
Article 48 of Indian Constitution
Population Explosion (consequences, the best contraceptive etc.)
Era of Responsibility

BROWNING VERSION
Character of Crocker Harris
Character of Taplow

THE ADVENTURE
Rajendra’s rationalization of Gaitonde’s strange experience
Azad Maidan incident
Changes in Mumbai the Professor comes across

SILK ROAD
Darchen, Hor, Lake Manasarovar
Norbu
The journey-main incidents

SUPPLEMENTARY READER (SNAPSHOTS)

THE SUMMER OF THE BEAUTIFUL WHITE HORSE
Garoghlanian Tribe-characteristics
Character of Mourad and Aram
Character of Uncle Khosrove
Character of John Byro

THE ADDRESS
Pre-War and Post-War experience
Mrs. Dorling’s character
Character of Mrs. S
The way things were arranged at Mrs. Dorling’s house
The address


RANGA’S MARRIAGE
Narrative Style
Narrator-Shyama
Ranga’s character
Character of Ratna and Shastri
Ranga’s return to village-the reception
Ranga’s views on Marriage
English and Indian society
Hosahalli-description

ALBERT EINSTEIN AT SCHOOL
Einstein’s philosophy of education
Character of Yuri
Slum violence and Einstein’s disgust with it
Ernst Weil and Mr. Koch’s character

MOTHER’S DAY
Character of Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald
Summary of the play


THE GHAT OF THE ONLY WORLD
The title
Character of Agha Shahid Ali
Shahid as a poet (The Country without a Post Office)
Kashmir and Shahid
Shahid and repartee
Shahid as a teacher
Shahid-national poet, not nationalist poet
Shahid and Shahid (witness and martyr)
Death, Kashmir and Shahid
Narrative style of Amitav Ghosh
James Merrill and Shahid
Shahid’s gregariousness
Shahid’s ability to transmute the mundane into the magical
Diaspora

BIRTH
Character of Joe Morgan
How did the doctor save both the mother and the baby?
Doctor’s views on love marriage.


CHECK LIST-class X

Julius Caesar
1. Calpurnia’s nightmare
2. The Assassination of Caesar
3. Brutus’ speech
4. Antony’s speech
• How he proves Caesar was not ambitious
• The will of Caesar
5. Roman citizens

A Christmas Carol
1. character of Scrooge(before transformation, after
transformation)
2. The Three Ghosts 3. Jacob Marley’s character

The Night of the Scorpion
1. father’s character 2.villagers 3.Indian motherhood 4.Humour

Ode to the West Wind
1. Activities on land, sky and sea 2.poet’s request to west wind


The Frog and the Nightingale
1. Character of frog/nightingale
2. the titled crowd 3.creatures of the Bingle bog
4. response from creatures of the bingle bog to frog/nightingale

Mirror
1. the qualities of the mirror described
2. comparison with lake 3.the feelings of the lady

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
1. wedding guests
2. character of the Mariner(physical description+nature)
3. the two reactions of the sailors to Mariner’s act
4. supernatural elements


The Tribute
1. Character of Babuli, wife, elder brother, second brother.
2. partition scene 3. Title

The Letter
1. character of Ali, Miriam, Lakshmi Das, postmaster 2. Miriam’s letter

Cutie Pie
1. character of Cutie Pie, scientists
2. experience in glass prison and escape
3. feathers and whiskers
4. How media is after sensational news and people have very short memory
5. Cutie Pie’s communication with C.H. Winters
6. racial memories

The Ultimate Safari
1. Title 2.character of the narrator, grandmother, grandfather 3.Kruger Park
4.Refugee Camp

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CHECK LIST-Class XII

SUPPLEMENTARY READER-VISTAS

THE THIRD LEVEL
1. What is Third level? 2. How could Charley realize that he was in the Third Level? 3. Sam’s letter 4. Intersection of time and space

THE TIGER KING
1. Prediction of the astrologer 2. The Prince’s passion for English 3. Tiger hunt 4. Steps to retain his kingdom 5. Hunting the hundredth tiger 6. Conceit of those in power 7. Humour and satire 8. Dramatic Irony

JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE EARTH
1. History of Antarctica 2. Human Impact 3. Life-changing experience 4. Study of past, present and future

THE ENEMY
1. Sadao in America 2. Wife, Hana 3. Sadao’s father 4. Harbouring enemy 5. Moral dilemma of Sadao 6. Reaction of servants
7. General Takima 8. Who is our enemy? 9. The American soldier

SHOULD WIZARD HIT MOMMY
1. The common pattern of Jack’s stories 2. Other possible endings for the story 3. Jack feels in ugly middle position-reason 4. Adult’s perspective Vs Child’s perspective

ON THE FACE OF IT
1. Character of Lamb, Derry 2.Title 3. Lamb’s garden 4. Derry’s change in perspective after the association with Lamb

EVANS TRIES AN O-LEVEL
1. Character of Evans, the governor(good- for- a giggle, gullible) 2. Preparations for the exam 3. Evans’ plot to escape-detail 4. Battle of wits

MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD
The Cutting of My Long Hair-Zitkala Sa
1. The discipline at the Carlisle Indian School 2. Prejudice against Native American culture and women 3. Judewin’s warning to the narrator 4. Cutting of the hair-the hardest trial 5. The narrator’s mother’s words about shingled hair 6. Indignities faced by the narrator

We Too are Human Beings-Bama
1. The fun and games that held the attention of Bama way back from school
2. A man carrying vadai to landlord 3. Untouchability/Caste discrimination
4. Her elder brother’s(Annan) experience with landlord’s men
5. Her elder brother’s advice

FLAMINGO

THE LAST LESSON
1. Linguistic conquest 2. Changes in the school
3. Bulletin board 4. M.Hamel and his inspiration
5.French language

LOST SPRING
1. Saheb’s story 2. Ragpickers of Seemapuri 3. story from Udipi
4. Garbage-meanings 5. Mukesh’s story 6. Bangle makers of Firozabad
7. Hurdles in becoming cooperative 8.Two distinct worlds.

DEEP WATER
1. Aversion to water-beginning 2. Experience at Y.M.C.A. pool
3. Steps to overcome fear 4. Narration of fear

THE RAT TRAP
1. The idea of the world being a big rat trap 2. Crofter at Ramsjo Ironworks
3. Stealing of thirty kronor 4. Meeting with the Iron master 5. Mistaken identity-Captain Von Stahle 6. Edla Willmansson 7. Christmas Eve
8. Christmas present & the letter 9. Essential goodness in a human being can be awakened through understanding and love-Selma Lagerlof

INDIGO
1. RajKumar Shukla 2. Problems of Indigo sharecroppers/peasants of Champaran 3. Gandhiji’s arrival at Champaran-measures adopted to help the peasants. 4. Cultural and social reform in Champaran


POETS AND PANCAKES
1. Description of Gemini Studios 2. National integration at Gemini Studios 3. Hierarchy at Gemini 4. Kothamangalam Subbu 5. The boss-S.S.Vasan 6. Story Department 7. Poets at Gemini 8. MRA’s visit 9. Visit of Stephen Spender –an unexplained mystery 10. Anti-Communist feelings at Gemini and South India 11. The God That Failed 12. Spender’s visit-no more a mystery 13. Humour& narrative style of Asokamitran

THE INTERVIEW
1. Various views on Interview 2. Umberto Eco’s versatility 3. Narrative
style-marked departure from regular academic style/good story teller 4. Interstices

GOING PLACES
1. Adolescent hero worship 2. Character of Sophie, Jansie, Geoff 3.Title
4. Fantasy Vs Reality 5. Sophie’s family background
_____________________________________

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Adventure by Jayant Narlikar


The Adventure-Simplified for you
By
Santhosh Kumar Kana, KV, Donimalai.

Unconventional narrative style- mixture of history and science.

Professor Gaitonde, a historian, is going to give a lecture on the implications of Catastrophe Theory in the Third Battle of Panipat. On the way his car collides with a truck and he goes into coma. But he experiences another world where history is different from how we know in the real world- in the Third Battle of Panipat, in reality, Afghans defeated Marathas killing their leader Viswas Rao. But in the parallel world, Marathas win the war as Viswas Rao escapes narrowly from the bullet. The victory of Marathas brings about diverse changes and reforms in the country. He gains consciousness and his friend Rajendra Deshpande rationalizes his strange experience on the basis of two scientific therories, viz. Catastrophe Theory and the lack of determinism in Quantum Theory.

The Parallel world

Professor Gaitonde is on his way to Bombay from Pune. It is the pre-independent Bombay where he finds Anglo-indians and Union Jack. He goes to a library and reads four volumes of history starting from the period of Asoka upto the Third Battle of Panipat. The fifth volume of the Book (Bhausahebanchi Bakhar) tells a different story where Marathas win the war against Afghans in the Third Battle of Panipat. After their victory India moved towards democracy. Absent mindedly, he tucks into his pocket a copy of the book. He reaches Azad Maidan where a lecture is going on. The absence of the chairman for the meeting makes it strange but the crowd doesn’t want one though the Professor protests. He gets on to the stage, snatches the mike and starts speaking. The crowd showers eggs and tomatoes on him and finally throws him out. He is lost in the crowd.

This is where the Professor’s strange experience ends. Next we find him talking to his friend Rajendra in the real world.

Rajendra’s explanation

Rajendra explains the bizarre experience of the Professor on the basis of two scientific theories, viz. Catastrophe Theory and the lack of determinism in Quantum theory.

Catastrophe theory states that a small change in circumstance can bring sudden shift in behaviour. If we apply this theory to the battle of Panipat, we can find that there was a crucial moment when the Marathas lost both their leaders-Viswas Rao and Bhausaheb. So, the Marathas lost their morale and lost the battle. But in the parallel world Prof. Gaitonde saw the bullet missing Viswas Rao and Marathas winning the battle. A crucial event gone other way can change the course of history(the bullet missing/hitting the leader). The Professor produces a torn page of Bhausahebanchi bakhar from his pocket. This is nothing but the notes he had prepared for his lecture where he had imagined the fate of the battle to be otherwise. The bullet hitting Viswas rao was the catastrophic incident in the battle. The present state of affairs has been reached because of such catastrophic incidents in history. We can apply this theory to any other battle or historical incident and see how history takes a different course.

Lack of determinism in Quantum theory

The behaviour of electrons orbiting the nucleus in an atom cannot be predicted. There are different states of energy-higher and lower. It can make a jump from high to low energy level and send out a pulse of radiation or a pulse of radiation can knock it out of state no.2 to state no.1. These states can apply to the world too. The transitions are common in microscopic systems. If it happened on a macroscopic level, it could be an interesting food for thought.

Professor Gaitonde made a transition from the world we live in to a parallel world. One world has the history we know, the other a different history. He neither traveled to the past nor to the future. He was in the present but experiencing a different world. At the time of the collision with the truck, he was thinking about the catastrophe theory and its implications in war. He was probably wondering about the battle of Panipat. Perhaps the neurons in his brain acted as a trigger.

Like the electron jumping from one state to another, he made a jump from this world to the parallel world. Any catastrophic situation will provide various alternatives for us to proceed. But only one can be accepted by us at one time as we live in a unique world with a unique history. But why did he make such a transition? An interaction is must for any such transition. The collision and the thoughts at that moment brought it about.

The incident at Azad maidan is just to show how meetings can be arranged without chairman unlike in the real world.

Keep reading…………….all the best.

__________

Friday, January 15, 2010

O.V.VIJAYAN’S VIEW OF HISTORY AS REFLECTED IN “THE INFINITY OF GRACE”

Vijayan’s view of history is not different from that of the present age where history is not accepted as a mere pedestrian account of incidents in their proper order. It aims at a scientific estimation of historical events and the exploration of human values. The writers of the present age are not ready to accept the common notion that history deals with the past and it is futile to rummage in those details. Instead they bring into light the sufferings of individuals and other ideals which were thrown into oblivion in the hands of those writers who did it for catering to the tastes of power and also for protection. The present day writers scrutinize the dangers hailed at the existence of the individuals and their inner struggle in the search of their “self” and substantiate their arguments on the basis of this observation that these are not of the past only but of the present and is sure and more dangerous to be of the future. Thus the division of time or place vanishes and everything takes place in a stagnant time. In Malayalam literature, O.V.Vijayan and Anand are the notable writers who have dealt with this exhaustively along with other serious matters of concern.


As in his previous novel, “The Saga of Dharmapuri”, this novel also tells us something about his view of history. The present novel deals with the predicament of human beings caught in the whirlpool of “karma” and the realization that comes to them from different incidents and persons. Thus the whole world is replete with the presence of grace. Vijayan juxtaposes many historical incidents to prove this and also points to the pitiable state of man who repeats his deeds ignorantly. He criticizes the ways of history and says that it is nothing but a tale of murder and rape:

“Olga was upset.
‘Muder and rape’, she said, ‘will men never be sated with these dark rites?’
……………………………………………………………………………………….
‘look at these ruins; they are the insatiety of history’

History is an ensemble of various battles fought by men and their ignorance. ‘The hollow realization’ comes only to a few while the rest are indulging in more sinful actions.

Beliram says,
“All this war, just to impart a child’s lesson to us!”
This is the knowledge that the Editor also shares:
“The editor had seen the revolutions he had been part of in his youth become govts. and his comrades become men of power”
…………………………………………………………………………..
“He had seen multitudes rise up to overthrow empires, and become new empires themselves; he had seen other multitudes rise and traverse the sterile wastes of history”

Vijayan’s criticism of the vulgarity that history deposits on the sands of time becomes sharp and pungent when he points to its continuation in the present. For instance, Allah Bux says that he has decided to have no cabaret in his hotel. He is a symbol of tradition. The cabaret that he finds around him reminds him of the molestation that the women of his country face.

He says,
“In my Dacca, Pakistani soldiers strip the girls naked, and parade them in the streets. The only difference between that and cabaret is one of location and circumstance”

Kunhunni also says the same,
“We have not grown enough to stop the violent dance which signifies the birth of nations”

In their blind and unscrupulous advancement, men have drifted away from the spirit of their nation and what it has gained.

“They pulled down the ivory mansions and in their place built dismal apartment blocks like catacombs. The chaste spirits of Ram Mohan Roy, the Brahmo Samajis, and Tagore stripped bare and whirled in a dance of submission before the immigrant trader. The invasion.”

The agonies of men are thrown into dark corners and pass onto the next generation unhealed.
“Man, in his fleeting existence, takes upon himself millennial agonies”.
Vijayan satirises the age old notion regarding history that it tells about what is gone and has nothing to do with the preent.

Kunhunni says,
“You may not have heard, comrade. It is the story of 1948. Prehistory. Forget about it.”

His flak is also directed against the way the historians report incidents twisting facts and without proper analysis.

“As I write this, all around me the machine-guns chatter…….or wait, make it the bazookas boom”.

It is only a child’s game for them and they pay little attention to the fact that it is upon this that the coming generation has to base its existence.

Vijayan is dissatisfied with the balance sheet of the historical incidents which are nothing but the stripping of women and murder. He looks for a realization which is abiding and would clear the future ways. Kunhunni tells about the Mahabharata war but emphasizes the greatest document it brought about:

“I was wrong Alla Bux. After this Mahabharata, it was not only the memory of the stripping of Draupadi which survived. Something else remained’.
‘What was that?’ asked Allah Bux.
‘The Bhagavad Gita’
‘May this war also leave us a Gita’. Allah Bux smiled”
...............
By
Santhosh Kumar Kana

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TITANIC

                                          TITANIC AND THE UNSEEN ICEBERG



The reassertion of the fact that man is nothing before Nature irrespective of the magnitude of scientific discoveries and inventions.

The sinking of the Titanic has many things to tell us. Just as the ship is nothing before the vast ocean, the relationships in the ship are nothing before death. It is not the conflict between whether to die or live but how to die that is dominant in the tragedy.
All the attempts of man that defied Nature faced setbacks. Titanic, though the name implies unequalled power, also fails pathetically before Nature where human beings clamour for last breath. Problems like the preference demanded for the first class passengers and the consequent protest by other passengers etc. show us the helpless condition of humanity.

What happens inside Titanic is life, what comes in the form of iceberg is death. Death is a clown that has no stage manners.
“We think of life not when we live, but when someone dies”.

What is Titanic? An example for all of us to think about life and its impermanence. The merry ship quite unexpectedly turns out to be a tale of sorrow, sorrow in every nook and corner of it. The meaninglessness or money, prayer etc. before death is shown clearly in the film.

No doubt that the philosophy like existentialism flourished in Europe. Prayer, music etc. are some sort of consolation to humanity without which it would go mad. A mind without stability or anchor should either prefer death or madness. That is the nature of the mind. How religion, god etc. came into existence is clear from this. We all are in search of psychological anchors lest the ship of our mind should be lost or wrecked in the rough waves of life.

Thinking about the tragedy of Titanic makes every one unstable for a moment. It is like thinking about life after death or reducing the number of days of hope. But soon we harbour our ship.

Sea or the thought of it brings a sort of uncertainty or unstability. And if it is during night, it is more. Now imagine what must have gone through the minds of the passengers of Titanic on that doomed night?

Many immoral things would have happened at that time. Man is instinctual and the suppressed desires would have bursted out when death was certain.

If the ship remained on water, their minds wouldn’t have undergone a trauma. But the ship disappeared; everything was wiped out, leaving no footprint even on water but on history and in the minds of generations.

Santhosh Kumar Kana

ROBERT FROST'S "MENDING WALL"

ATTEMPTS TO CONVINCE AND CONSTRUCT:
ROBERT FROST’S ‘MENDING WALL’

The Poem ‘Mending Wall’ by Robert Frost is centered around all the possible attempts made by the speaker in the poem to convince his neighbor about the futility and the insignificance of building a wall or mending the gaps in the wall where according to him, Nature itself doesn’t prefer one. The wall can be said to symbolize religious, caste, racial, political differences or discriminations, social prohibitions, division of private property, border issues etc. But the focal point of the chief argument in the poem seems to be referring to diverse attempts of the speaker who by way of his arguments reveals or constructs himself to be more scientific, rational, broad and humane like his neighbor who is a closed individual. The contrast gets magnified when the speaker fails to convince his neighbor who sticks firmly to/within his built-in prejudices and notions.


The neighbor’s persona constructed thus by the speaker is of an uncompromising orthodox. The poem shows how one constructs the other-racial, linguistic and cultural constructions. The neighbor is constantly trying to resist cultural intrusions or conquests. The speaker’s attempt is not to transform his neighbor or to transfer him to his side or views but to make him rationalize his convictions. He seeks a justification for his deeds or beliefs. The neighbor is urged throughout to do a self-analysis. The speaker lays before him facts to facilitate this:

1. My apple trees will never get across and eat the cones under your pine
2. There are no cows here to trespass into each one’s land
3. Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out and to whom I was like to give offence.

These arguments fail and the neighbor repeats, “Good fences make good neighbors”. The speaker wants the neighbor to say if nothing but “elves” typical to his beliefs and unscientific outlook. The speaker implies it when he says “I’d rather he said it for himself”. The neighbor is all notions built on irrationality. The speaker even says overtly that if only he could put at least his views like a “notion” in the neighbor’s head implying notions could facilitate a change in his views. The neighbor is referred to in the rudest terms as an ignorant, irrational, uncivilized Stone Age man. The speaker tries to avoid rhetoric throughout the poem. It is clear when he says, “Not of woods only and the shade of trees” (line No.41). He wants to put the notion in his head without a garb of pretence, jargons or rhetoric. The contrast is clear in the impervious neighbor’s repetition which is pure rhetoric “Good fences make good neighbors”.

The poem thus speaks less about the wall but more about forming a conviction, an attitude or ideology. The speaker intends to convey that ignorance persists in spite of his repeated attempts and down-to-earth logic. Like in Edward Albee’s ‘The Zoo Story’, the ‘you’ and ‘I’ divide gets stronger here.

The wall can be a symbol of Ego. It is ego which creates divisions; divisions are for possession and possession satisfies the ego and keeps it strong. Ego is born out of narrow conclusions and ignorance like the unwanted wall built in which one loses one’s true perception of self or reality. The wall of ego gets broken by the reality of life and the ignorant keep mending it. Rabindranath Tagore writes in the Gitanjali

“He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon. I am ever busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up into the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow. I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it with dust and sand lest a least hole should be left in this name; and for all the care I take I lose sight of my true being”.
(Passage No.29)

The poem can also be read as a poetic version of Reader-Response criticism. A text is no finished product and it is the reader who breaks the built-in conclusions about it and gives it new meaning. The conventional reader keeps mending the gaps and resists any new reading. The basis of deconstructive reading is expanding the gaps in a text.

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