Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Brindled Clouds at Night







These photographs were taken of the Moon at night. The clouds were of various shapes and they presented fantastic contrasts of dark and light! Also, the Moon seemed to be highlighted by the clouds that ironically seemed ready to devour the Moon. The photographs were taken with the help of a tripod. The camera is a Nikon Coolpix L-100 digital camera!

Photographs of Strange shapes of Clouds


A few days back I was taking photographs of the Moon and the clouds  not aware about the strange shapes being formed by the clouds. I took a sequence of photographs with a gap of a few seconds in between. Since my attention was focussed on the Moon, I didn’t notice that the clouds had formed into an image of an old man glaring at the Moon! When I downloaded the photographs into my laptop, I was amazed by the results! See for yourself what I saw:


Photograph 1 Old Man glaring at the Moon


Photograph 2 Old Man and a bird wheeling across the Moon


Photograph 3 Old Man is disappearing behind the Moon


Photograph 4 Old Man is trying to gobble the Moon


Photograph 5 The Old Man is receding


Incidentally there weren’t any birds in the snaps. The only elements were the clouds the Moon and the sky, and of course the camera! All the above photographs were taken by me with a Nikon Coolpix L-100 Digital Camera. Apparently my obsession for photographing the Moon has paid up! The photographs have not been digitally enhanced or retouched in any way and in fact I haven’t even played with the contrast or exposure on the image saved on my laptop!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Life is but a Shadow!


One Day I woke up and

Realised that life is but a dream!

What we see are shadows!

Someone is dreaming us.


Life is but a shadow of what

Might be the real world, so,

Who are we, what happens,

When the dream comes to an end?

God forbid, for so we die!


If dreams were shadows, and

Shadows dreams, what then,Is reality?

Is perception but A shadow of reality? What we

See is but a shadow of what’s real.

So, dreamer continue to dream

That I might be.


There is one out there who dreams,

So dreamer, continue to dream me,

So that I might live! If life be a dream,

Then the best is yet to come!

Life is a shadow, and a shadow

Of a dream is life!


What, then is  real life?

My dear, it is but what is beyond the

Shadow, a life after death,

A life which is infinite and not

Subject to time and rust.

Why then do you run after things

Temporary? Seek ye first the Kingdom of God,

Then shall ye know what real life is!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Do we need Social Networking Sites?

Although I was computer savvy many years back, (having been trained under the Intel teach to the Future Programme) I started experimenting with Social networking sites quite late. The first networking site I joined was Face book. I was fascinated by Facebook because I was able to contact some of my old friends with whom I had no contact. Just a couple of months back, a pen friend of mine contacted me on Face book! I was surprised because we had stopped writing to each other long ago. She some how recognised my profile photograph on Facebook, and contacted me straight off! I was amazed, I was thrilled! I was re united with another of my friends on Facebook. We studied in school and were classmates. I migrated to India and he remained in Ethiopia! He was pleasantly surprised when out of the blue I contacted him on Facebook!

Today I am able to keep in contact with a large number of friends, relatives, and of course my students! I joined Orkut when I opened an e-mail account with Google. I joined a community of my school and then there was no turning back! I was swamped with friend request from my students. It became difficult to reply to all of them. Besides having a large number of students as friends on Orkut, there are also some colleagues, and some relatives who are my friends on Orkut! It goes without saying that social networking sites have increased my reach and improved my social networking in a way that was never possible earlier! Social networking sites also provide you with suggestions of possible communities which have similar tastes and interests as yours. On face book I have joined the Nikon Digital camera community, and I now plan to join the Philately and Numismatics communities as these are my Hobbies!

In today’s times of hectic schedules and a busy life-style, it has become a necessity to join a Social Networking site as it helps you to connect with your friends, relatives and other like-minded people! Thus it is clear that today Social Networking sites have become and important part of our lives! People applying for new jobs should have an account in these social networking sites, because employers are likely to check your profile on them. Employers are likely to judge you on the basis of what you do on the social networking site! Used judiciously, and sensibly,in fact, these sites may help further you career!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Definition of a Leader

Today, more than ever we need strong leaders to motivate the youth and instil timeless values. True leaders are the foundation of a culturally sound and deep rooted society. In today’s times of chaos, confusion, violence and insecurity, the role of the leader becomes even more important!
So, then who is the ideal Leader? It is not an easy question to answer! History has shown us that some of the enigmatic Leaders have not always been good Leaders. Hitler was an enigmatic Leader, and through his skills of oration he was able to motivate his men to persecute the Jews. Leaders who incite their followers to resort to violence are not  ideal Leaders! Often it has been seen that Leaders who have been larger than life have themselves been overwhelmed by their own Grandeur! Take for example David Koresh who formed a religious sect called the Ranch Davidians in the United states. He was another enigmatic Leader who incited his followers to commit suicide! Or for that matter, take for example the founders and leaders of the Klu Klux Clan, this was a group of people who incited violence against others, especially the blacks in the United States!
The Leader of today, the ideal leader should be one with whom the rest of the followers are able to identify with. He is approachable, appears to be an ordinary man, and of course he has the ability to bring out the best in his followers. The ideal leader has time for his followers, he is patient, and always gives  rational and balanced advice. This is a man who is not a demi-god, like Idi Amin of Uganda or Stalin of the Soviet Union. Stalin ruled with an iron hand and did not tolerate dissent. Dissenters were incidentally sent to the Gulags in Siberia. Vladimir Illyich Lenin was however a man of the masses and that is why he didn’t have long to live! Mahatma Gandhi was a Leader of the masses, he was approachable! Here was a man whose simplicity was his strength!
Leadership therefore means followership, and for followership to take place, the Leader should have some form of specialisation, some skill which marks him as above others, but not so much as to become a demi-god! Specialisation could be in the form of Communications skills and a good knowledge of his subject. It goes without saying that he is a man with a vision, the ability to look into the future, the ability to foresee, and thereby make necessary adaptations. In schools Leadership is displayed by Principals and Teachers. It goes without saying that the most loved Principals and Teachers are the best Leaders that a student can have! They are after the parents of the child, the most important motivators and moulders of character! It is these Principals and Teachers who should be motivated and appreciated for the role they play. Unfortunately, Sycophancy is appreciated more than the qualities of Mind and Heart. As long as we appreciate flatterers  sycophants, and yes-men we will continue to have Leaders who are demi-gods, and larger than life, inciting people to be violent!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Bhopal-Lessons not Learned

The pain of Methyl-Isocyanide not forgotten,
In Bhopal,the gas that caused untold suffering,
Pours down my throat like hot lead,--
Why, o why, didn’t you heed the warnings?

Chlorine, the toxic gas,
Pours down my throat like hot lead,
Again in Mumbai,
Why o why didn’t you heed the warnings?

Why does History have to repeat itself,
To repeat untold sufferings on
Innocent Man?
When will we learn the lessons of History?

Lethargic Bureaucracy,
You are the reason why
I continue to suffer!
Toxic gases continue to pour down my throat like hot Lead!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Heart of Darkness?

The novella, The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad describes a trip into the heart of Africa, typically, Congo. This trip in fact describes, rather symbolically, a journey into the depths of one’s own psyche.  What emerges is that the protagonist realises that the depth of Darkness exists not without, but rather within the inner self. It is only that the journey into the depths of Congo to build a railway line brings out the worst in the explorers and the people supervising the laying down of the railway tracks. The Journey into the Heart of Darkness exposes the depravity that exists beneath a thin veneer of civility in human beings!

Sigmund Freud’s  description of the human psyche as consisting of the id, the ego and the super ego comes to mind! The Id consists of the baser instincts in Humans, namely: sex, hunger, violence, and the urge to dominate over others. The Ego, on the other hand is the conscious component of the psyche which tries to maintain a balance between our baser instincts, and our conscience which keeps restraining us from breaking moral and social rules or values. The Super Ego on the other hand, is the voice of reason, the voice of conscience, or the guiding voice that exists in our psyche.

Circumstances, and the problems faced by the pioneers in Conrad’s, The Heart of Darkness exposes the id that hides beneath the veneer of civility. Unfortunately, the voice of the super-ego becomes overwhelmed by circumstances and the Id reigns supreme. So, then it becomes clear that an ideal human being is one who has a psyche which is perfectly balanced between the Id and the Super Ego. It therefore  means that  a person with an excessively strong Super Ego would be rather too shy, guilty, constantly washing his hands.  This man would be an introvert, and would have a demeanour that suggests excess subservience, and passiveness. On the other hand the person with an excessively strong id would be a person with a very strong extrovert, he would be aggressive , violent, gregarious and sexually active. However extremes of both would result in and excessively abnormal character.

In today’s times, few remember Freud’s concept of Psycho-Analysis, but fortunately it is still portrayed in numerous films in the form of Hypnosis. Stream of Consciousness is also used as a style of narration in movies and serials.  Free association of Thoughts another Psychoanalytical tool has been popularised by various genres of films and books such as Horror Films and Psycho-Thrillers. Some of the noteworthy films are:” Silence of the Lambs”,”Stigmata”, the Hindi film: “Kartik calling Kartik”, the English T.V. serial: “Seagull Island”,…etc. The Novel, “Skin and Bones”, written by Tom Bale describes an early morning massacre of the residents of a small town by a one man killing machine ( a deranged man with poor self esteem and a poor I.Q.!). The real culprit turns out to be the wife’s nephew of a realtor who wants to turn the town into a modern township by buying out the local residents, and trying to force them to shift out. After the deranged man has almost cleaned out the whole town, the nephew comes to meet him, they greet each other and, the nephew without warning, shoots the deranged man!

Schools today have begun experiencing a sudden spurt in incidents of violence. The U.S. schools have reported incidents involving extreme violence which lead to the death and injury of a large number of students. These were incidents in which a disgruntled student brought  a gun to school and shot indiscriminately at his classmates and teachers. A prestigious school in Gurgaon was in the news when a student got hold of his father’s revolver and shot at the boy who used to bully him! Schools in Delhi too have witnessed their share of violence.

So, then, does this suggest that today, though we are more educated and technologically advanced than the gladiators of Rome, we have not advanced mentally? Is this propensity for violence ingrained within our Psyche? Perhaps it is that, deep within, we are still animals with the animals’ instinct for violence? This civilisation, this culture are all thin veneers which hide a beast called the Id, who is ready to unleash the worst kind of violence on the society! An increase in the number of incidents labelled as Honour Killings, Rapes, kidnappings, Road Rage deaths, rampages, all bear testimony to the fact that deep within us resides this beast ready to unleash destruction everywhere!

Well then, where does this leave us? It is very clear that in order to keep the beast within us shackled and subdued, we need to have a stronger voice of reason. We need to instil Moral, Social, and Spiritual Values in our students. School syllabi should include lessons based on the values mentioned above. These values can be included in the lessons found in the textbooks of English and Hindi, or any other language. The Curriculum framers should ensure that the syllabus exposes students to Moral, Social, Spiritual and  Cultural values.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Epistemology of a Suicide

It baffles me why successful personalities commit Suicide. The death of Anna Nichole Smith from a drug overdose could have been a deliberate attempt at suicide. Marylyn Monroe, too was an accomplished actress, so then why did she choose the easy way out? At home in India we have come across tragic instances of successful models committing suicide. The recently alleged suicide committed by Viveka Babaji surprised everyone. She was a successful model, so why, then did she opt for the easy way out? Then,a few years back there was this rather tragic story about another accomplished model found wandering in Hauz Khaz, Delhi, in tatters and rags!

It seems as though the Philosophy of Existentialism might after all explain this rather disturbing trend of Nihilism in the successful youth of today’s times. Existentialism, a movement associated with Kierkegard, Camus, Sartre, and Heidegger suggests that there is no ultimate purpose to the world. The philosophy  suggests that persons choose and cannot avoid choosing their characters, goals, and perspectives. The Philosophy  of Existentialism further states that the truths about the world and our situation are revealed most clearly in moments of unfocused psychological anxiety or dread. Was it some kind of anxiety or dread that induced these successful models and Film stars to believe that life was not worth living? Albert Camus, a French Existentialist  writer described Nihilism in his novel L'Etranger.Kierkegaard attacked the validity of all the Philosophical systems that existed in his times. Nietzsche developed the idea of the “Overman”. Jean Paul Sartre presented the Existentialist Philosophy in his Novel, L’Etre et le neant; translated; Being and Nothingness.

Is it possible that in a moment of lucidity these successful personalities realised that there was no further purpose to life, since they had achieved the highest success in the materialistic world? Maybe they had realised that there was no further challenge left to overcome, and this plunged them into a state of despair? They say that life becomes very lonely for those who have achieved success in life. They had realised that life had no further success to give them?

Perhaps they greatest motivator in life is the realisation that there are more goals yet to achieve! Thus, to be alive you need to have a purpose to live! What matters is that you have still a long way to go!You should be one step before success and it is this which gives you the impetus to live! You have to have the belief that you are not yet perfect! So then, what is the meaning of life? Does life mean living to achieve success, moving towards success and goals which keep changing as we live? It all boils down to the idea that to continue to have the will to live, we need to have more to do in life! Often we live in a world of dreams, and when these dreams are exposed to be illusions, we are heart-broken. People are driven to suicide when they realise that they have no further goals to achieve and so they have no further purpose in life!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Palika Bazar, A Rip Off?

On the first of July 2010 I visited Palika Bazar in Connaught place and was greatly disappointed by the state of things there! I remember,  very many years back when I used to visit India with my parents, Palika Bazar in Connaught Place, Delhi was an important destination. We used to visit India during the Summer Vacations, and the Air-conditioning in Palika Bazar brought a welcome relief. My Parents had an NRI account at the Grandlays Bank at 10-E Connaught Place. After completing their work at the bank, we would all proceed to Palika Bazar.  In 1984, business in Palika Bazar was flourishing. There were so many things in Palika Bazar, that it was a Shopper’s Paradise. My brother broke his heart for a sound-remote controlled car, and I settled for a UNICEFF Walkman (which incidentally served me many years!) My parents would buy lot’s of things to take back to Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. After the shopping in Palika Bazar, and perhaps Janpath, we would return to my grandmother’s house in Gurgaon, tired, but satisfied with our shopping!
Those memories were subjected to a great shock when I visited Palika Bazar on the first of July. Gone was the ambience of the past, the scent of ether and aggarbattis was absent, there were signs of construction and renovation everywhere, the air-conditioning ducts had been stripped down, and worst of all I noticed that the traders had a weary and tired expression on their faces. Their body language was some how wrong, it was as if they were helplessly looking for customers to turn up! While the ladies in our group drifted towards the shops selling garments, my brother and I drifted towards the counters selling pen drives, digital cameras, and various other electronic items. My brother was interested in one of the pen drives of a popular brand which had a label claiming it to have a capacity of 32 GB! I helplessly cast a warning glance at my brother, but he was hooked on to the pen drive. The shop-keeper brought down the price to Rs.200/- and my brother was the triumphant owner of a 32 GB pen drive! I was incredulous and requested the shop keeper to test the pen drive  on a laptop. The laptop showed that the pen drive was indeed of 32 G.B. space! Well, we then proceeded to the camera market on the first floor. There, I was stumped to see a digital camera that I had bought for Rs.17000/- selling for Rs. 9000/-! (I had bought my camera from a proper Nikon show-room.) The price left me with a very bad taste in the mouth! I tried to hurry my brother away from the market!
After our return home, my brother went on to load data into his newly acquired pen drive. The total data loaded was of 4 G.Bs. He tested the pen drive, it showed that the data had been loaded. He breathed a sigh of relief, and I cursed my self for not having bought a similar pen drive! We forgot everything, and, the next day after returning from work, I asked my brother in the evening about how well the pen drive was working, and he replied, “The pen drive I loaded yesterday is blank, and the Data has vanished into thin Air!” We could barely stop ourselves from breaking out into laughter upon having been duped by the shop-keeper in Palika Bazar! How he must have been laughing at us, for thinking that we could buy a 32 G.B. pendrive for Rs.200/-!
Wherever I went, I could hear traders complaining about the Market being bad! I noticed that of all the visitors in the Bazar, very few were indeed buying anything. Traders seemed resigned to the fact that nobody was interested in buying anything at all!
It looks that the glory of Palika Bazar is now gone. The traders have lost good will among visitors by ripping off customers by selling them fake products. The only visitors to this once famous market seemed to be gullible and innocent Tourists! I thank my stars for not having thrown Rs.200/- on a 32 G.B. pen drive!