Saturday, 25 February 2012

An Indian Bride

 She sits with head bowed ,
A bashful bride,a princess fair,
Hennaed hands with bangles fair,
With Red and White and silver  shine!
Pearls of tears  down a face so fair
Adorn an angel oh so fair!

As parents shed tears so free,
The groom’s friends dance, with joy and glee,
So she sits with hennaed hands,
A bashful bride, a princess fair!
A winsome face that fills with joy,
The heart of one so full of pride!

A bashful glance she casts towards,
A groom so fair, so filled with pride,
With hennaed hands and bangles fair,
A treasure-trove for a groom so fair,
While parents shed their tears so free,
Of life to end and life to start!

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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mrs. Helen Smart's visit to the St.Thomas School, Jagadhri - A warm note by the Principal-Rodrick Rajive Lal

Mrs. Helen Smart, a guest from St.Mark’s Parish in Derbyshire, England on a mission with a commitment to strengthen the on going Partnership Link between the Diocese of Delhi, CNI and the diocese of Derbyshire visited us on the fifteenth and sixteenth. She was welcomed in the St. Thomas School on the fifteenth by the Principal, Mr. Rodrick Rajive Lal and some teachers. On the sixteenth she was welcomed formally during the school assembly. I handed over a Stole to her, and Mrs. E.Y. Masih gifted her a memento on behalf of the St. Thomas School Jagadhri.After attending assembly in the school, Mrs. Helen Smart was taken on a tour of the school and she had a lively interaction with students and teachers.

Mrs Smart is flanked by the Principal, Mr. Rodrick on her left
Mrs. Smart is flanked on her left by the Principal Mr. Rodrick Rajive Lal

The tour of the school was followed by a visit to the C.N.I. Mission Hospital, Jagadhri, where Mrs. Helen Smart was welcomed by Dr. Cecil Harrison and his wife, Dr. Naina Harrison.
After visiting the Mission Hospital, Mrs. Helen Smart visited the C.N.I. Christ Church, and then I along with Mrs. Masih, and Mrs. Vinod Sharma took her on an outing to the Assan Wetlands, and the Dakh Pathar picnic spot. We all had a nice time on the outing, and were able to see so many migratory birds in a natural setting with so much natural beauty! I am sure by the end of the outing, Mrs. Helen Smart would have been thoroughly exhausted but absolutely thrilled!
I am sure that when she returns to England, she will have a lot of wonderful things to tell the Parishioners of St. Marks Church! I would like wish her on behalf of the St. Thomas School all the best in her future endeavors and hope she carries warm greetings from this wonderful missionary school to her Parish!

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A walk on the Path of Life-A Poem

I take a walk on the  path of life,
The morning still with all asleep!
My silent foot falls all the way,
While dogs lie curled and leaves don’t turn!

The cold wind blows, a silent whisper,
Of things to be and things long past.
For none may be to share your walk,
But a cold cold Morn where leaves don’t turn!

I draw my collar close to me, a cold-cold
Wind draws a shiver,  my silent foot falls
All the way! Nor friend nor foe greet me by,
As I walk the  path of life!

The pregnant stillness of Morn clamps down,
A world asleep with dreams a-piece!
For comfort be where togetherness be,
While dogs lie curled and leaves don’t turn,

Sometimes they greet you with miles of smiles,
But sneer at you once they’re done,
Hungry wolves out for kill, wait with baited breath,
While silent foot falls pass them by!

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Sunday, 5 February 2012

How much should we share on social networking sites?

A rather interesting article appeared in the The New York Times on 5th.February, 2012 on page Sr.7 of the New York Edition of the Newspaper. The Headline of the Article read,  "Should Personal Data Be Personal?"The article described how an Austrian law student requested his own Facebook File and was astounded to get a file which had, 1,222 Pages! It was a smorgasbord of information, but some of it was unsavoury including things he had not himself entered in his personal file! Personal data on most social networking sites continue to be retained even after we have deleted our accounts, and we have started coming across stories of breakups in marriages, people driven to commit suicide, cases of sexual abuse, and what not, caused by the sharing of personal information on the web. In some cases it is the result of exposing our vulnerabilities to unscrupulous organisations/ individuals out for a killing! In some cases, it is just a case of identifying the web users interests so that advertisements of the best offers in town may be sent to him or her. In any case, in the words of the law student, all that information stored in the social networking sites is, “like a camera hanging over your bed while…!”
People in Europe are worried about this indiscriminate sharing of information on social networking sites and are actively campaigning against indiscriminate use of  “personal” information by  them. Now there are regulations put in by the Governments in Europe which try to introduce an element of control on how this personal information is used, and whether the individual’s permission has been sought. In the United States, people have not yet woken up to the enormity of the situation. We, in India are still to reach the state of affairs in Europe and U.S., but I am sure we will soon overhaul both and reach the point where we too realise that  our private lives are no longer private! The recent scrutiny of some web giants by the Government of India for   allowing the posting of material which causes tension among communities material that derides communities is a sign that the Government is waking up to the problem in hand. For people in India, the Internet, and social networking sites have come like Manna from Heaven and they can’t have enough! It is  means for gaining popularity and fame, and nothing pleases us more than these!
Today, more and more school children in India are logging on to the net, and sharing personal information on social networking sites. Some are smart enough to use aliases while others are innocent enough to use their own personal names! Unfortunately we fall prey to the assurance by the website that our,”E-mail Id will not be shared by anyone,” or that, “personal information will not be shared with anyone!” To see what kind of personal information might be on the web you could also type your name on the search bar of one of the search engines and you would get a list of third party websites carrying information about you. People are however going to continue to use social websites as a means for expressing themselves, including their hopes, desires, disappointments and joys. Social Networking Sites have become an effective means for maintaining contact with acquaintances, friends, and family members. It is cheap, takes little time and doesn’t require long periods of time waiting for the post! You can blame it on our laziness to write letters, our dependence on technology, or perhaps a hectic life style offset by the need to progress. My only advice to the member of the Social Networking Site is to think carefully before submitting his or her personal information, knowing well that it could be used wrongly, if not by the social networking site, then by a third-party website!

Photographing a Pair of Owls

The other day, while in school, during the day off, I was called by my Senior who pointed out to a pair of owls basking in the sun while perched on the branch of one of the tallest trees in the school. They seemed to be so cute sitting there enjoying their afternoon siesta! I didn’t want to intrude (disturbing this happy couple seemed rude), but then I had to take a few shots of them! They seemed so much like a human couple enjoying a moment of togetherness, a moment of bliss, an image of matrimonial bliss.While one dosed off, the other remained watchful and alert! The gestures of affection for each other was evident in some of the photographs! Without saying more, I would like the viewer to look at some of the photographs that I took of this rather venerable couple, the symbol of togetherness, harmony, and compatibility, a message for all human beings!

“Sleep well dear, while I watch over you!”

                                                   “Hey, who’s that?”


 “Looks like he is taking a photograph with his camera!”

“Never mind!Sleep on Dear, for we have to hunt at night! Good Night, oops, good day, sweet dreams!”

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A warm send-off to students of class Twelfth of the St.Thomas School, Jagadhri - A recollection by the Principal

Today, on the fourth of February, 2012, there was a dedication service in the C.N.I. Christ Church, Jagadhri for the out-going students of class twelfth of the school. It was an emotional moment as candles were lit in the church, and the School Chaplain delivered an inspiring sermon encouraging the students to do their level best in the exams. The school choir sang some inspiring hymns.  I reminded them that now they would be stepping into another phase of life. I told the students that we were all praying for them. A few photographs were clicked during the dedication service which I have pasted below:

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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Should the number of working days for school children be reduced?

The following post in the Washington Post on 24/01/2012 reads as follows:Should districts adopt a four-day school week?
A minimum of 292 school districts across the country -- up from an estimated 120 just two years ago -- have switched to a four-day school week to help cut costs and manage budgets, a new survey shows. Districts that adopt the practice often extend instruction during the remaining four days to ensure seat-time requirements are met. Some say, however, the schedule is hard on working families, who must find child care one day each week. The Washington Post (10/28)
This is the result of the impact of recession,  cutting of cost, and managing budgets. What happens in such a case is that the students are made to stay back for a longer period of time to make up for the deficit in the number of hours of learning spent in school. In India Government school follow the six day week, where the number of hours spent in school is less. This is often because as for example in Delhi, the building is shared, so while the first shift is for girls, the second shift is for boys. Public schools are known to follow the five day week, and their students stay on longer to make up for the deficit in the number of teaching hours in place of Saturdays. However, Parent Teacher Meets in Public schools are mostly scheduled for Saturdays.
For a country like India, the implication of having a four day week is quite profound. Where both parents are working parents, and there is a gradual but steady shift from the joint family to the nuclear family, it becomes very difficult to leave the children unattended during the days when school is off. Parents go to work confident that their children are in school safe and sound! On days when school is of it becomes debateable where to send the children where they can be safe and do not cause mischief! In India Government offices generally follow a five day week while private organisations follow a six day week. Parents working in a private organisation thus would be away from home from Monday to Saturday, while a Government Employee, other than a teacher would be away from Monday to Friday. Moreover, for a Country like India having a four day week would cause a disruption in the schedule of students who attend coaching after school. In a country where coaching and tuitions have become the fashion, long hours at school would mean that the time given for coaching would be compromised!
It a well known fact that it is better to keep children occupied in some constructive activity, rather than leave them idle, with nothing to do. What remains to be seen is how the proponents of the four day week in the U.S. plan to make the students utilise the extra free days awarded to them! Just giving students loads of Home Work without any kind of supervision would be rather ineffective in keeping them occupied in their spare time. Another  question that comes to mind is whether or not the gap of three days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday would not make the students get out of sync. with the educational routine, making them perhaps lethargic, and perhaps slow to warm up to the schedule of work ahead?
The use of technology to keep track of the student working from home, online tests, and other such tools while no doubt effective in an advanced country might not work in a country affected by frequent power cuts and connectivity problems. Longer working hours offset by three days of no work would no doubt become a dangerous trend, detrimental to the very basis of a sound educational system throughout the world!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Handwriting does make a difference!

Today, in the West there is a debate about whether students is school should be made to practice on their handwriting or just plough ahead with their studies. Should teachers work on improving the handwriting skills of their students in the formative years? How important is it to practise Cursive writing? There is one school of thought which suggests that there is no point in wasting effort in practising handwriting in today’s world where everything is done on  Lap-tops, or tablet P.Cs. The older but more  experienced view is that students should be made to practise on improving their handwriting and formation of letters. A child will learn about the difference between p,q,d,j,g, better if he practices them! Repeated handwriting practice helps the child differentiate between confusing letters!
The two main styles of writing practiced in schools of India are script writing and cursive writing. Out of these the prevalent form is cursive writing, while script writing is practiced in a few schools, mine included! Unfortunately, students who have practiced and know only cursive writing find it difficult to read what has been written on the green board if it is in the cursive form. It would be a good idea to expose the child to a second style of writing when he reaches the middle classes, that is the fourth, fifth, and sixth classes. It is during these years that the student takes up his or her distinctive style of writing!
It also makes good sense to take down, or make handwritten notes on a particular topic, as doing so would involve going through everything in your mind, and it would help the student revise the topic while writing notes. Thus when the student revises his handwritten notes, it would be the second time! It might be argued that the same can be done with a keypad, however I strongly believe that writing on paper with a pen brings into play a greater variety of learning skills, like practicing a dance or a song. You learn a tune quicker than a list of thousand names because somehow you become a part of it. Gradually it becomes a joy to take down written notes as you begin to enjoy each letter as it farms, and you become an even more active learner!
I very strongly believe that a handwritten bio-data, or application for a job, indicates confidence, boldness, and straightforwardness! This is because the applicant is being honest by allowing the reader to read his handwriting, not just the facts in the application! Confidence is reflected by a strong and consistent style of writing, when the letters fall backwards and forwards, it indicates confusion. When the letters fall backwards, as if being blown backwards by a slip stream of air, it indicates a recessive, passive, or perhaps an introvert character trait! Letters tilted forward indicate ambition.
A very brilliant student whom I taught in eleventh through part of twelfth is an example that very strongly suggests that handwriting reflects the character of the person. In the beginning of the eleventh class, he was brilliant, hardworking, but a little shy. I noticed that the letters in his handwriting had a peculiar rounded effect, as if they had been bent round to form a circle. He passed, came to twelfth class and became rather irregular. I noticed that he had begun to retreat into himself, and what was most indicative of his problem as I later realised was that his letters had become more rounded and were now indecipherable! The opposite ends of the letters were forced into a peculiar circle, so and i would look like a c, the letter the letter t would be squashed so that  the top tip of the letter and the bottom tip were almost touching each other. Later, when stopped coming to class entirely, I came to know that the poor child had been suffering from Schizophrenia and had stopped eating! He died in the end! It looks to me now that the deterioration in his handwriting was perhaps an indication of the inner turmoil taking place in his mind!
A U.D.C. in the school I was teaching previously has very beautiful formation of letters, and it is a joy to see his handwritten notes which are executed in the script form. Some convent schools in India are still very particular about making their teachers and students practice very hard in script writing or cursive writing, and this hard work made in the beginning of the schooling of a child does pay dividends later in life. What happens when you get the opportunity of a lifetime and you are asked to submit an application along with a bio-data immediately? Would you dare to beg a future employer for his lap-top/desk-top and printer or would you just request his secretary for a couple of sheets of blank paper?