Saturday, 31 August 2013

If the gyrations of twerking didn’t thrill you, then how could fomo?

When a student of mine came up with a newspaper cutting describing the gyrations of twerking, I just put it away for later on, and my eyes fell on the word, “twerking”. Later while mulling over the newspaper cutting, I imagined the word to be related to some form of tweeting! Later when I retrieved the newspaper cutting, I was proved wrong in my assumptions, and came to know that twerking is a new word that has been added into the Oxford Dictionary, and that it refers to a form of dancing!
It is really astonishing how more and more words are getting added to the list of new words in the Oxford dictionary every year! The fact that these strange and new words are getting included in the dictionary means that they are widely used! If twerking per se tires you, literally, then perhaps you could go for a brief rest! A look at some of the new words will show how the virtual world has started making its presence felt in the form of new words being added to dictionaries.
In a virtual world of bitcoins and virtual farms, if being on Facebook tires you too much, then you might as well take a “digital detox”. The term has found its way into the dictionary, and it means staying away from from social networking sites. It has become the trend for everyone to have a smart phone and that too a phone that has a really good camera, used not to send photographs of mountains and rivers, but rather photographs of the self! In such cases, you send a “selfie” to your girlfriend. “Selfie”, yet another new entry in the Oxford dictionary refers to a pouty smart phone self-portrait! Many of our young friends would gladly miss a lecture rather than miss a live performance by Pee Cee, that is if she comes to town! ”Fomo” yet another entrant into the list of new words in the Oxford dictionary refers to the fear of missing out! One can say with a great degree of certainty that today, conformism among young students in schools is the result of fomo, they just don’t want to be left out of the trendiest things in life!
In a world that is still reeling from the aftershocks of recession, it makes good sense in a currency that is inflation proof, and then you have the word, “bitcoins”. Bitcoins refer to a virtual currency that is becoming quite popular among young people who use the internet a lot.Tecnopedia defines bitcoin as a digital crypto currency. So, then, if bitcoins become common usage in English, then surely Lol would be the accepted term for laughing out loudly! The Oxford Dictionaries Online, August 2013 states, “Technology remains a catalyst for emerging words and is reflected in the new entries including, Mooc, bitcoin, Internet of things, BYOD, and Hackerspace” (All of these words would have the red spelling error zigzags on your screen because your word processor has apparently not been updated!).
Fashion also plays an important role in our lives, and this includes their usage in languages. Two words from the fashion industry that have made their entry in the Oxford Dictionary are, double denim and geek chic, while from the linguistic world of gastronomy, we have,  cake pops, blondies and guac! And if these words depress you, then try feeling Nordic noir so that you feel, “as right as rain”! And then when you are feeling lonely and want company, albeit on line, then why don’t you join a hackerspace? It is a “place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment  and knowledge”- Oxford Online Dictionary-August, 2013. When you find ideas that match and friends who gel with you then you ,”squee” with excitement!
Enough said of all the new words- I guess, we need to take a look of all the words that have been added to the dictionary, and perhaps think about phasing out our older dictionaries for one that can be bought with bitcoins, and at least prevents us from feeling embarrassed in the company of nerds!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Are we producing a generation of nerds and wimps?

It is amazing how teachers and parents bandy some of the most technical terms to describe the students they teach! It is somehow as if the term “problem child”, a blanket term used to describe a wide variety of problems in children has let loose a veritable barrage of technical terms borrowed from Psychology to describe each problem more distinctly! The arsenal of terms, more often than not, verbiage are used with impunity to describe problems which in the past would have been solved through a face to face talk, or even a pep talk. It is common to see  parents hiring counsellors to come home and counsel their children, and they are ready to use some of the most technical and often controversial terms to describe the problems faced by their children.
The fact of the matter is that today more than ever, parents are spending less  quality time with their children with the result that a sense of alienation has started creeping into relationships creating gaps that parents think can be plugged through counselling. Parents are fussing around their children, trying to remove the thorns and bumps that might be affecting their lives, and it is this rather exaggerated concern for their children that is making them a generation of rather delicate and fragile children. Added to this is the use of  a rather half baked knowledge of Child psychology to diagnose and treat ailments that might be as common as a mere hiccup or a bout of flue! An obsession for cleaning gels, hand sanitizers, and counselling sessions, are all indicative of parental hyper concern. Add to this concern,  the readiness with which parents and teachers readily use terms such as ADHD, depression,and anxiety, terms which if heard by the child could begin to be manifested in the child through a process of auto-suggestion!
Are we, then as good parents and teachers  to take on the role of Psychiatrists and begin treating our own children at home for disorders that they might not even be suffering from? What would happen to the properly trained professionals? Sure, they would have nothing more to do than to doze off a lean afternoon! No. What is expected from good parenting is the sharing of quality time with children, talking to them, going to their schools on PTMs., knowing more about their friends, sometimes even playing with them, going to the park with them. Parents who are not able to spend enough time with their children might be afflicted with a sense of guilt which might rub off on to their children. Often when parents visit schools on PTMs and talk to the teachers they are ready to share their concerns about their children, often complaining that their child is an introvert, or often depressed! The teacher might reply with another word, probably to show that he or she knows her psychology by suggesting that the child might be slightly “neurotic” to which the “concerned” Parent might nod in affirmation!
Is this  hyped up concern for the mental well being of children and students by parents and teachers really helping them today? Are we not building a society of nerds, wimps and delicate, fragile children today who cannot cope with challenges and competition? What about the scrapes and scratches that children of yesteryears experienced in the past? What about allowing children to mess up in play grounds? What about allowing children to play out door games with friends rather than on the Tablet? How about allowing children to play in the mid day sun instead of dozing in the cool environs provided by the technology of air-conditioning? And when children fight with each other, should we always try to mediate or should we let our children work out differences amongst themselves? Till what age should we babysit (when we have the time) our children? As teachers, should we deal with verbiage to describe common problems affecting students?  Case studies of students being promoted to higher classes which include rather technical data meant for school councillors should not be  read by teachers. Imagine a situation in which a new teacher in a new school shuffling through reports of the previous class is impressed by  an “exhaustive, well-written—and obviously costly—one on behalf of a girl who was already proving among the most competent of his ninth-graders. "She's somewhat neurotic," he confides, "but she is bright, organized and conscientious—the type who'd get to school to turn in a paper on time, even if she were dying of stomach flu." He finally found the disability he was to make allowances for: difficulty with Gestalt thinking. The 13-year-old "couldn't see the big picture." That cleverly devised defect (what 13-year-old can construct the big picture?) would allow her to take all her tests untimed, especially the big one at the end of the rainbow, the college-worthy SAT.”- Psychology Today: Here to Help.
Many of the students studying in some of the up-scale schools in town seem to live in a rather protected world, a bubble waiting to burst. These are students who live in a rather sanitised world, protected from disappointments, difficulties, ups and downs of a real world. Many of these students do not even know what poverty, hunger or suffering means because many of them come from affluent families and have never had to do anything themselves. Parental protectionism seems to have reached an alarming levels of proportion often degenerating into the comic. Many of these parents believe that their child is perfect and without any defects, ideally the most charming and talented children in the world!  What children really need is to mix with other children, so that they might know that there are others who are better than them. For teachers too, it is a matter of importance to ensure that the students participate inter school competitions so that they are pitted against some of the best students in the area and not just within the the school. Many of my students are overconfident about their prowess, and knowledge in different subjects, and it is this overconfidence that seems to be rather frightening! A lack of healthy interaction with students of other schools has probably robbed them of foreknowledge of the challenges they would be facing in the real world, once they step out of school!
Many of the problems that  children and students face today are the result of excess interference by parents and teachers. Today more than ever, parents and educationists have begun to neglect the importance of play in children. Role playing and playing with other children helps greatly in the mental growth of children. Children who play with other children have better coping strategies, and aside from exceptions, most are better adjusted to live a social life than those who have no friends and those who do not play with other children of their age. Parents who believe that play is a waste of time and would like their children to stay at home and study often cajole their children to do so by gifting them computers, PlayStations, tablets and laptops with the result that their children spend lesser time on studies and more on games and chatting on the internet. Many parents will not accept the accusation that they have not given their children sufficient time to play with friends, and they will readily use some of the most sophisticated jargon from Psychology to defend their stance on their children. And the Children,well they are happy the way they are!  While no doubt no one would advocate a free for all competition to fulfil the tenets of “survival of the fittest” but still it is important that we allow our children and students to mess up in play ground, and anyway we should let children be children and not force them into adulthood much before their time! Unfortunately, "Life is planned out for us," says Elise Kramer, a Cornell University junior. "But we don't know what to want." As Elkind puts it, "Parents and schools are no longer geared toward child development, they're geared to academic achievement." (David Elkind has been a Professor of Child Psychology at Tufts University)-Psychology Today: Here to Help. Today parents have very high expectations from their children, the primary expectation is in the form of passing with very high grades and getting admission in one of the highly prized courses (Engineering, Medicine, Chartered Accountancy, M.B.A. Architecture) from one of the world acclaimed college or University. Today it is not enough to seek admission in Delhi University, rather the students and their parents have their sights set on Harvard, Oxford, or  Cambridge, or Cornell, and nothing else will do! What makes things even worse for children who have lived a protected life is that when they step out of school into the big wide world, they are pitted against better, well equipped rivals vying for limited seats in an institution.
Technorati Tags:

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Philately across the centuries; the thrill of collecting rare Indian stamps

A Pre-Independence Elephant Stamp-Notice the word Bharat is missing.
It is true that many of us have the habit of collecting junk, but then what if that junk turns out to be Gold? Of course I am joking! Stamp collecting is not equivalent to collecting junk. It is a hobby that is most fulfilling,j in terms of widening the hobbyist’s social circle, it also makes the hobbyist an expert in his field, it brings about acclaim, recognition and makes him or her better informed about the world.
The best way for schools to promote Philately as a hobby is to set up a Philately Club in the school. Some of the activities organised by the school Philately club could include Philatelic Exhibitions, Participating in the regional Philatelic Exhibitions organised by the Philatelic Society of India, Department of Posts, DENPEX, District Level Philatelic Exhibitions, a visit to the Philately Section at the Post Office at Sansad Marg New Delhi, a visit to the National Philatelic Museum of India in New Delhi which exhibits stamps, first day covers, beautiful Victorian Postal collection boxes and other such postal paraphernalia.. Students who are interested in building up a stamp collection can open a Philately P.D.Account at the Post office in Sansad Marg, New Delhi, and they can book stamps, contact sheets,First Day Covers and other postal stationary, which would be sent to their postal addresses. The amount for the same would be deducted from the amount deposited by them. Recently when I visited the Post office at Sansad Marg, well after lunch time, that too on a Saturday, the people at the counters were gracious enough to accommodate my request to be allowed to make a deposit in my Philately account!
In this Stamp, the word Bharat in Hindi precedes the word India indicating that it is a Post-Independence Issue.
But then, Stamp Collecting is not just about collecting rare stamps, although, that may be one of the many reasons. When I started collecting stamps at the age of nine years, it was because they were colourful, good to look at, and somehow seemed to carry some kind of Magic in them. Later as I grew up, I began to realise that some of the stamps I had were unique, and had a distinct history behind them- my collection grew.In 2008, I came across members of the Philatelic department of the Department of Posts, Sansad Marg, and they encouraged me to open an account with them, and I did, and learned more about stamps and  and first day covers, and one of the philatelists I came across was Mr. Pulak Gupta, and he told me much more about philately. A few years later, people who knew that I was an avid collector of stamps gladly handed over their stamps which would otherwise have been consigned to the dust bin! What had begun as an interest in colourful stamps has now become an active pastime and now besides having lots of colourful stamps, I have many that are really rare! What makes stamps rare depends on many factors, miss-prints, dropping numbers of a particular issue, commemorative stamps that are few in number, the age of the stamp, antiquity,and stamps issued at the end of a regime. From a collector of colourful stamps, I am now a proud collector of stamps of all kinds!
An Indian Stamp dated 1969
A few words about the History of the postal system in India is a must before ending this article! The Indian Post Office was set up in 1837 and Asia’s first adhesive postal stamp, the Scinde Dawke was introduced in 1857 by Sir Bartle Frere, the British East India Company’s Administrator of the Sind Province. In those days there was a parallel postal system where the different principalities had their own postal systems, but for post that was to be sent out of the country, you had to depend on the Imperial post! The East India company took up the responsibility of improving the postal system throughout the country.The Post Office Act XVII of 1837 provided that the Governor-General of India in Council had the exclusive right of conveying letters by post for hire within the territories of the East India Company. Yet another postal act was passed in 1866 to make improvement in the system. This included revision of rates, the setting up of new rates for the steamer routes, and revised rates for inland mail. Today the postal system has undergone a sea change. Gone are the days when each letter came with a set of colourful stamps that drew your attention. Today, the entry of the courier services into the market, and the popularity of the franking machine has meant that you probably will hardly see any stamps being pasted on envelopes. The only stamps you’d probably see are the ones you would get at the philately counters in post offices across the country. The recent phasing out of the telegram service in the country has marked the end of an era! The changes brought in by change in technology-the advent of internet and the E-Mail has somehow spelled doom for postal services all over the world. All this has made the hobby of stamp collecting all the more dear especially for those who have observed the changes across the centuries!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Is use of force the only way for suppressing Dissent?

History has shown how many a times, the  use of force to suppress dissent has  been counter-productive. Some interesting examples that support this statement can be taken from all over the world. If Saddam Hussein in Iraq used chemical weapons to suppress the Kurds, then it did in a way lead to his ouster! Similar examples can be taken from Vietnam, the Korean war, Ethiopia, Ireland, and even South Africa (during the Apartheid regime). In all these cases it has been proved that use of force by a powerful organisation have failed to suppress dissent by a community or group of politically and ideologically motivated people! The recent stories about the alleged use of chemical weapons  by the Syrian army against “rebels” around Damascus bodes ill for the ruling regime!
It seems as if the use of force to suppress discontent is an option that should be used as a last option, especially when all other means, democratic or otherwise have failed! This is an option that has been misused by governments all over the world. The idea of restraint, dialogue,mediation, and referendums have often been overlooked leading to dire consequences! An interesting example can be taken from Ethiopia, where a powerful army that had an impressive weaponry couldn’t prevent the Eritrean Liberation Front warriors and the Tigray Liberation Front  warriors from marching into Addis Ababa in the early nineteen nineties. The Apartheid regime under Botha couldn’t prevent A.N.C. from coming into power. The Apartheid regime incidentally had better equipment  which it used for curbing mass demonstrations, and even armed rebellion! In Vietnam, the less equipped Vietcong regime couldn’t be held back by the world’s most powerful and well equipped army. A rather happier ending to the IRA versus British army conflict was however resolved through dialogue with the Sinn Fein and the British Government laying down weapons in order to settle differences through dialogue.
What is it then that makes dissenters so resilient? It is the sense of oneness of purpose that is fueled by use of force by powerful regimes? The use of force to decimate opposition might in fact have the opposite effect. You might kill a large number of people, but this doesn’t mean that you are able to kill the people fighting for their rights, which in many cases are genuine rights. The use of force to suppress opposition might in fact be the fuel for even greater opposition! It is the fuel that feeds a fire that cannot be extinguished, it is a fire that feeds on violence, aggression, and force! Gandhi  in India, knew very well that confronting the colonial rulers with aggression would be counter-productive, so he experimented with  the tools of non-cooperation and civil disobedience in Champaran with great success during the Indian National Movement. The Landlords in Champaran had to bow down in spite of the fact that they had the backing of a powerful regime. The Landlords in Champaran were confronted by peasants who were poor, uneducated and yet emerged victorious in the end!
The past has repeatedly shown us that you cannot subdue the spirit of a people by using force against them! The spirit of an oppressed people or community is more resilient than all the weapons that can be used against it!  You might kill or maim a person but not his  spirit. Saddam was not able to subdue the spirit of the Kurds, a minority community in Iraq, then how can modern regimes continue to do so with the belief that they can subdue dissent effectively through force? The recent alleged use of chemical weapons against so called rebels around Damascus can only foment greater dissent, garnering greater support for a popular movement against what they think is a dictatorial regime. Tyrants and dictators in the past might have won a decisive battles, but then what followed this decisive battle was invariably a series of small battles that often whittled away their hold on power leading to their defeat in a long drawn battle of attrition!
What then is the message to all dictators, dictatorial regimes, and governments that seek means to curb rebellion and dissent? It is clear that use of power is a strict no, no! Dialogue, discussions,referendums, restraint, and other democratic strategies are the best option today. Giving appropriate opportunities for ventilation of grievances, debates, and opportunities to voice differing opinions is very important! It is very important  for responsible Government organisations to identify safety mechanisms for venting such grievances. The voice of minority communities should never be ignored, and these communities should be given the chance of a hearing during parliament sessions! The curbing of Freedom of speech and Freedom of expression might have the effect of encouraging dissent. The rights to Freedom of determination, freedom to practice one’s religion and freedom to dissent from the accepted and so called popular beliefs should be tolerated. In many cases, conformism is a blanket term that seeks to force allegiance to the accepted beliefs of the majority, which in essence might not be shared by everyone.
Excessive use of force by the government in Tahrir Square in Egypt in 2011 and a similarly excessive use of force to quell demonstrations in Taksim square in Turkey  recently, have led to a situation that led to the ouster of the regime in Egypt and the shaking of the very foundations of the government in Turkey. In many cases, the Democratic system of government which provides sufficient representation to all communities is the best mechanism for handling dissent! Excessive use of power by Governments to quell dissent have often led to an aggravation of the situation which might have been based on a simple voicing of displeasure against the conversion of a people’s park into a site for government offices and commercial complexes!

You could also read the following blogs on a similar topic:

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Epiphany Church Gurgaon–Annual Convention 2013-A glimpse

The Guest speaker for the first two days-Pastor Vivek Masih
The Annual three day convention of the Epiphany Church of Gurgaon took place from the sixteenth to eighteenth of August. The Guest speaker on the first two days of the convention was Pastor Vivek Masih, and on the final day, the gathering was addressed by the Rt.Revd. Bishop Sunil Singh.The theme for the convention was based on the statement, “ Make me a channel of your peace.” The convenors for the Convention were Mr Robin Moses and Mr Noel Chandrekar.
Revd. Sunil Ghazan and his Wife Saroj immersed in the spirituality of the moment!
Mr Vijay Russell introducing the Guest speaker to those gathered on the first day.
Pastor Vivek Masih talked about how the Church is like a training centre for all churchgoers, and how the message of peace should spread through out the world through us. He went on state rather strongly that a man who is not at peace within himself because he feels guilty will never experience peace! Pastor Vivek’s address to the gathering was interspersed with anecdotes and short stories which were very interesting. One was about a tree which had caught fire, and the people could see a bird flying over it. After some time, the bird itself descended on to the burning tree to be consumed by the flames. Later when people gathered at the site, they saw that the bird had been burnt up but beneath its body were two chicks, alive and full of life!
The Rt. Revd. Bishop Sunil Singh delivering the message on the last day
The Right Revd Bishop Sunil Singh on the third day of the convention talked about peace, not just of the individual, the family, the society, but rather the peace of the Lord that encompasses everything. We talk about disturbance in distant lands, but then are we at peace with the Lord? He went on to talk about the importance of reconciliation with each other, reconciliation with Nature as important steps for ensuring that we become a channel for God’s peace in a world which is disturbed by violence, wars, and natural calamities.
Members of the youth fellowship  singing lively numbers on the occasion.
Children of the Sunday School Wing  singing a spiritual song with zest!
A packed church stood testimony to the hunger for spiritual messages.
And the church was packed for the penultimate day-Also seen is Mrs. Rekha Singh, the first lady of the Diocese
Food at the end of each day’s programme was served in the basement hall
Queuing for lunch!
Technorati Tags:

Shopping Slug Fest - A short story

We thought, my wife and I, and of course my two kids, that we would have an outing on the occasion of Independence day and so went to one of the shopping malls in town. We read about the discounts being offered on that day, 50 to 60 per cent discount on books, apparels, electronics, and what not! I let off both of my sons, aged fourteen and sixteen, and my wife at the  main entrance to the Mall and drove on to the parking which was a great distance away. I finally found space about two kilometers away and took the shuttle back to the mall to be re-united with my family. I looked at the passengers in the overcrowded shuttle- a young couple hanging on to each other, whispering platitudes to each other, the girl, in a daring dress, and hair done in a most amazing style which seemed to defy gravity and the man in ripped jeans. I glanced at the front to see yet another couple looking forward to the shopping experience. The woman in her rather tall heels reached a mere five feet while her boyfriend towered above her, a good seven plus feet. and I wondered how shopping seemed to bind together rather disparate couples! On the seat behind me, a little boy of perhaps six or seven years of age kept pestering his mother with some of the most strange questions, “Wow, Mom, this bus has a roof, look, Mom, a Golf Course, look Mom, isn’t that a Golf course?” The boy’s mother seemed embarrassed by his questions! by the time the shuttle bus arrived at the main entrance to the Mall, I had become rather fed up of this conversation! In the past years people went to the Hill Stations to be Far from the Madding crowd, but today, it seemed as if the opposite was happening, rather than going away to an isolated and peaceful tourist location, people were converging at  a shopping mall,the whole populace from the town and nearby towns like flies swarming over leftovers!
The moment I entered the Mall,  I could hear the voices on the loud speakers speaking of the amazing discounts being offered on that day.  I looked at the streams of people thronging the counters to buy their goods, books, clothes, gadgets; bags bulging, people moving as Zombies, shuffling along to get their credit cards decimated. My family and I had been away for months and so we had not had the opportunity of knowing about the offers. I called up my wife and daughters and came to know that they too were rather confused about what to buy and what not  to buy, all the while as the sales men and girls smiled their plastic smiles asking if they had a liking for any thing. I finally rejoined them at the clothes store named, Dare. I hustled them on towards the other outlet. My wife, Anna, said to me, “ I guess I need a new pair of shoes,” and I replied, “Sure, go ahead!” All the while I looked at the eager faces of all the shoppers, eager to buy things just because of the offers, even if they had no need for them! Ridiculous, most of the things being offered would have become outdated and the shops were offloading, clearing their shelves for the latest products!
My eldest son, Mark stood at the display looking at the tablet being offered at a discounted rate of twenty per cent. I knew what would come next, and sighed with resignation. “Dad, I think this is a good offer, can I go for it?” I replied with resignation, “But then, you do have the one you bought six months ago,” I said. He replied, “ But Dad, it is now outdated, and moreover I can hand it over to Sam!” He replied. “All right, Mark,” I replied and he indicated to the salesman to take out a fresh piece. While he got the fresh piece checked, I glanced around to see that my wife was approaching me with a smile, she had two packets in her hand, one was, presumably a package containing the shoes, and the other was a mysterious package. She was followed by my younger son, all of twelve years, and he too was beaming. “Look what I got,” she said with a beam that gave me a sinking feeling-“I got my pair of shoes, and Sam has just purchased a pair of inline roller skates!” I tried to smile back with my best smile, although it was a fact that I knew that he had purchased a pair of inline roller skates just a couple of months back! I knew that the old ones would take space in the already overcrowded store-room. “Fine!” I said with what I hoped was my most pleasing voice.
It was clear that all the people in the Mall, one of the biggest in in Asia, were somehow addicted to the shopping syndrome-they moved around as if they they were were looking for a killing. Offers galore, people were simply thronging the stores eager to purchase things at  “throw away” prices. I said to Anna after a brief pause, ‘ I would like to visit the books section, would you like to accompany me?” She replied, “ Sure, you go ahead, I will visit the clothes section with Mark and Sam!” I replied, “Sure, no problem”, I said gladly escaping to the books section, glad to browse through the books. In the books section I saw books by some of the best writers.  There were titles by Henry Rider Haggard, some  of them being King Solomon’s Mines, She, and Return of She. Looking on, I came across books Emile by Rousseau,  titles by Kant, Hegel, the Republic by Plato and Jane Austin. I couldn’t decide on what to buy and called it a day, especially as the aisles were crowded and the billing counter had a long line of customers.  On the way, I looked at a kindle displayed with an attractive discounted price but then I left it alone.Finally I  left my books where they were,  looking at the long queue at the billing counter. The financial economists kept stating that it was good  for the economy for customers to buy things to buy things!
By the time we reached the car park, having traveled by the shuttle bus our hands were aching with the effort of having bought so many things. All the people around us had a multitude of packets with them which they held close to their chests, important valuables bought as if they had won the day! Somehow it was as if shopping had become an important exercise of the age. So then, shopping is good for the economy, but then what about the debts incurred by some of the shopping addicts? I guess, individuals need to look at their budgets and requirements before going on a shopping spree! As for me, I would have to contend with a surplus of goods bought during the shopping festival. The other shoppers would have bought even more of goods not even required by them. There would be a temporary sense of fulfillment in many of the shoppers for some  time at least, but then this would wear off gradually but surely, for if objects of desire give us satisfaction it soon wears off! Shopping has become an important stress-buster today, what with a laid back life style and the lack of spare time for adventure sports, or even a visit to the hill stations for the week end!
The day for my family would end with a slew of ready-to-cook and take-away meals that would require a minimum of cooking, thanks to the ease of having a microwave oven. I remember the times when the best form of relaxation was a visit to some relatives, or perhaps a visit to the Zoo. But then the new trend is shopping so shopping it has to be! The parcels we carry, seemingly the spoils of the war are indication enough of the times that have changed! I guess trends have changed and we need to move with the times. If shopping is the popular trend today, then we need to shop and shop till we drop need dead with the effort. At least then we would be able to have a sense of accomplishment. The greater the size of the bags of shopping and the greater the number of packets, the greater the sense of accomplishment! I guess in a world of routine life, where everything is predictable, a busy life that doesn’t permit weekend trips to the Hill stations, a shopping trip to the nearest shopping mall has become the only way of relaxing. Shopping has become the most popular stress buster for people living in big towns and cities.
Technorati Tags:

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Moving towards a more Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in India

As a teacher of English who has taught for  almost two decades in a Government Aided School in Delhi, followed by a stint in a Diocesan school in the interiors of Haryana being run under the ISC board, and then back to a Public school in Gurgaon being run under the CBSE, I have felt  a very strong need for educationists and curriculum framers to move towards a syllabus which is culturally relevant. The same is applicable therefore to pedagogy! Pedagogy, per se might be defined as the theoretical framework on which a teacher builds himself or herself up, it is what defines the teacher, his methods, attitudes, and even beliefs as a professional. The crudest definition for Pedagogy is theory of education or teaching!
In a country which is culturally diverse as India, it is very difficult to frame a blanket syllabus that would cover all the sociological, cultural,geographical and even linguistic groups. It is in this context that any competent educationist would have to develop his own teaching strategies to accommodate cultural variations that exist in his class. For example, few students in schools studying in villages would have the ability to  understand the Cultural background of the characters in the Novel Hound of Baskervilles, introduced recently as a “long reading text” at the class twelve level. The novel set during the Victorian era might pose serious challenges for the teacher of English who is teaching the subject to first generation learners. This is also a problem faced by students and teachers in many of the Government Schools in the capital itself. How does the teacher create an understanding in his students about the social context of a novel that has been set in the past and belongs to an unfamiliar society?
If problems are faced while teaching  contextually challenging lessons to first generation learners in Government schools, the same can be said of students belonging to affluent families studying in Public schools but for different reasons.. One of the common questions made  by  students belonging to affluent families and studying in public schools , is about the relevance of reading lessons which have no contextual relevance to their culture or way of life. There is a shared reluctance (both in  first generation learners and learners belonging to affluent families) towards the  reading of classical literature including: poetry,prose and drama which is not contemporary. Some of these complaints are genuine while many more are mere excuses for not putting in more effort, perhaps driven by laziness, complacency, or perhaps even over confidence!
Culturally relevant pedagogy should address  exactly this reluctance to read literature which is is not contemporary, literature which students find it difficult to relate to, or literature which students pass on as being too easy and so  they don’t take it seriously. Appropriate teaching strategies should result in a collective understanding of the themes and issues present in a particular work, it should lead to students achieving academic success and last but not least it should result in the ability to develop critical consciousness-through which they can at least compare and contrast the themes present in the text and relate the same to every day life. This ability to make connection between important themes and those in real life is an important outcome of culturally relevant pedagogy. The student should be trained to understand and identify the common strands that exist between literature which is culturally diverse literature which belongs to the past and his own way of life, his own culture and popular trends.
How then, can teachers modify their pedagogy so that it caters to a  cross-section of the society a cross section of cultures? One way of doing this would be to use the students’ own culture as a means for promoting learning. Identifying suitable tools such as music, plays, and role playing, and perhaps identifying similar works of literature written by indigenous writers as a scaffold to what they have to read as per the syllabus would help a great deal! The reading of the Novel, the Hound of the Baskervilles could be supported by the viewing of a popular detective serial or film even if it has to be in the local language. One popular method used in the teaching of English in the state of Uttar Pradesh till date has been the translation method. Although exact translation of words might not be possible, students, however are better able to grab the gist of the lesson. This strategy would be ideal while teaching literature and sometimes grammar to students who are first generation learners, or those who do not have a very good English Speaking Environment! The reverse translation could produce even better results, such as the teacher writing the poem in Hindi and then asking the student to translate it back into English. For students who already have a fair knowledge of English, teachers can start with the filming of a film with a related story or theme. Teachers can start the lesson by asking students to read contemporary poetry which shares the same themes and concerns as the poem which has been prescribed in the syllabus.
Teachers and educationist who are adept in culturally relevant teaching teaching strategies view teaching as an art and not a skill. For them, somehow, it comes not from the adherence to rigid rules but rather the courage to go around rigid rules. These are the people who think of themselves as those who can make a difference to the society. They have more to give to the society than take from the society. These are the teachers who view themselves as active participants in the process of learning, they are not “Masters” of their subjects, rather they are constant learners, scholars who are equally happy to learn from their students. These are the teachers who draw connections between different lessons, they draw connections between lessons and real life situations, and are always ready to take a detour in order to scaffold or support the lesson with another lesson that has a similar theme and to which the students are able to connect to rather easily!
Culturally relevant pedagogy can benefit a large cross-section of learners both culturally diverse and socially disparate! Culturally relevant pedagogy should be used while teaching students with special needs, students who might be suffering from various mental and physical disabilities. Students who belong to less affluent section of the society, students who are first generation learners, students who do not have a good English Speaking environment will benefit tremendously from this strategy. Children who belong to more orthodox communities, communities which are linguistic, cultural, religious, and even Geographical minorities would benefit a lot if lessons which lack relevance to their culture were to be supported by first exposing them to a story in their own language and then connecting it to the lesson prescribed in the syllabus! But then some of the so called good students, students with a fair understanding of the subject also need culturally relevant pedagogy to help maintain interest in the subject. In many cases such students lose interest in the subject because they don’t find any relevance in the lesson. They believe that the themes in the lessons are out-dated,or that the characters in the lesson are too naive. What they don’t realise that many of the lessons deal with the universal themes of love and hate, loss and gain, evil versus good, spirituality versus materialism, and of course the importance of upholding moral values. For example linking the theme of upholding the higher laws of Humanity in the Class twelve lesson, The Enemy by Pearl S. Buck to those that exist in real life, can make students see the relevance of reading a story that takes place during the Second World War. The benefits of moving towards a culturally relevant pedagogy far exceed a pedagogy which is ossified by written diktats, formulas and processes. The teacher who adopts culturally relevant pedagogy is teacher who believes in globalism, a teacher who is at home while teaching his or her subject in in village school or even a public school. Culturally relevant pedagogy is about student centred learning it is about teaching strategies which are student centred!
Culturally relevant pedagogy should invariably be backed by an accurate assessment of the cultures of the students studying in his or her class. This is the phase in which the teacher learns more about the students with whom he is going to spend the whole year. It is about bonding, it is about getting into each other’s good books, knowing each other better. My favourite strategy is to ask my students to write a few paragraphs about themselves. This is usually in the form of a SWOT analysis, and often this exercise leads to instances where students learn more about themselves; their abilities, their fears, and weaknesses! Giving students the opportunity to write a poem, on a topic like, “Where I come from” or writing a paragraph on “ A History of Myself as an English Student” would be useful exercises! Students can also learn about various cultures through research on the internet, and projects with titles such as, “Life in the Metropolis” or even for that effect, “Life in a Village”. Sensitizing students towards each other’s cultures, taking them on expeditions - students of rural schools to  visit urban areas and students of urban areas to visit villages, and   writing  reports on such exchange programmes can all help make pedagogy more culturally relevant.

Friday, 9 August 2013

What Ails the Government Aided Schools of New Delhi ? Part II

In an article written on similar lines many years ago I  highlighted some of the problems that afflicted Government Aided Schools in New Delhi such as delayed grant of salaries to employees. Salaries were often delayed by fifteen days, and sometimes even a whole month! Now at least that problem has been addressed by the Directorate of Education. Unfortunately problems continue to plague Government Aided Schools of Delhi, because it seems as if the Directorates of Education continue to give these schools less importance than Government schools when it comes to releasing Pension funds, Earned leave encashment and other funds due to the employee.
The case in point relates to a case where an employee who had served a Government Aided school in Roop Nagar, New Delhi for more than seventeen years and thereafter resigning from his post of a Post Graduate teacher in English on March 31st 2011 is yet to get his pension, Earned leave payment, gratuity, and arrears relating to a pay fixation that should have been done many years back. The only fund that this employee has received till date is his provident fund! When contacted, the school authorities resorted to a litany of excuses starting at first with the claim that the employee didn’t deserve to get his pension since he had resigned before completing twenty years of service.Then the excuse was that the file had been sent to the Directorate of Education of Zone Seven which is located in Lucknow Road, New Delhi. The complaint made by the Principal of the school was that the Directorate of Education was deliberately withholding the employees file as they wanted a bribe from the employee and that since they were understaffed, nothing could be done. When the employee contacted the Management and put forth his case before them, there was no reply! Repeated queries by E-Mail, and even written representations have simply fallen on deaf ears. It has been more than two years since the employee left his job and all he has received is his provident fund whereas, as per rules he deserved to get his gratuity, pay fixation arrears, and his pension with arrears for a whole two years!
What ails Government Aided schools in New Delhi is that their is a blurring of rules for  them. What is required is a separate Directorate of Education for them, and a different act branch which can look into problems related to timely disbursal of Pension funds, gratuity, and other arrears that may be due. The lack of accountability of responsibility for disbursing of funds and other matters is affecting the credibility of Government Aided schools of New Delhi. While some officers of the Directorate of Education take active interest in the appointment of teachers in Government Aided Schools, understandably because of the funds involved in buying the post, the same officers ignore matters relating to the release of pension funds and gratuity of employees of Government Aided Schools. It appears strange how  avidly the Directorates of Education demand detailed lists of employees , seniority rosters and lists of vacancies in Aided Schools.
This partnership between Managements of Government Aided Schools of New Delhi and their Government counterparts in the Directorates of Education is a rather unequal and lop-sided partnership with either partner ready to blame the other for lapses that can prove costly. In many cases it is the employee who suffers from this tussle between Managements and Directorates. While Principals wash their hands off their responsibilities of giving their employees a golden handshake with timely disbursal of Pension Funds, Directorates claim that Aided Schools don’t come under their jurisdiction since they have different rules and regulations. So called “Babus” feign ignorance about the working of Government Aided schools often sending the aggrieved employee on a wild goose chase to the Act Branch in the Old Secretariat in Civil Lines.
Now these is talk about a private-public partnership in forming new schools in the capital and other areas. However we label them, schools run under the private-public partnership will be similar in working as the Aided Schools of Delhi. Can we say that it is new wine in old bottles. It is high time the authorities looked into the problems affecting Government Aided Schools in New Delhi before even thinking of launching these new schools under the Private-Public Partnership scheme. Setting up of a specific directorate of education for such school including Aided Schools, and the formation of an improved document of rules and  acts, and fixing of specific responsibilities will go a long way in improving employee satisfaction. As for the employee who has not received his pension, well the name will be revealed shortly along with the name of the School!

Please feel free to check out the link of an earlier article written by me :

For Tomorrow does dawn- a poem

Drink and be merry for tomorrow never comes!
“Grab, oh grab the  moment as it comes!
Spend, oh  spend  all you’ve got lest the
Morrow never comes! Dance oh dance,
Grab  oh grab the moment as it comes!

Enjoy for the morrow might never dawn!
Drink, oh   drink  to never end  the  time
(And  the  present  moment  slips  away).
Enjoy for the morrow might never dawn!”

For so teaches you the present times,
That to savour each breath one takes
As though one of the last one for ages
Might be the best way to live our lives!

“Spend, oh  spend  a one  night   stand!”
For  so,  you    never   did   value   what
Life  does teach, of relations to last and
Love,   kindness,  sympathy  and  care!

And  so  advises   me a  friend of  mine,
“Live for  the  moment, live to the fullest,”
For so does he live just for the moment-
True foot-soldier of the carpe-diem is he!

But I, the stubborn, old timer would rather
Wait  for  the morrow  to dawn, for me, I’d
Rather grab another moment, if it comes,
Than   waste   a  life  in  a  puff  of  smoke!

So, wait oh, wait !Dear friend of mine, for who
  Does know what the dawn might bring, as
You sigh of a life of smoke, so to drown in
Glass of wine as the dawn does smile of hope!

Tarry and wait, leave some for later, for the morrow does dawn!

Roller Coaster drives on roads of the Delhi and the NCR Region

The experience of driving on the roads of Delhi and Gurgaon would be for many discerning drivers an experience guaranteed to raise goose bumps, but then, isn’t every drive meant to imitate a roller-coaster ride what with the stop, go, skip, slide, twist and curve? And then add to that roller-coaster ride, the surprises that await you around every corner, spiced up by that gentleman behind you adding to the cacophony of a busy road by pressing on the horn expressing his displeasure at the slow moving traffic, if only I could sprout wings and fly out of the way!
The kind of traffic you would find on the roads of Delhi and Gurgaon could be composed of a wide assortment of modes of transport which would cause any road planner in the west nightmare! More often than not the driver would have to confront, slow moving bullock carts, mopeds, tractors, cycle rickshaws, bicycles, buses,trucks, sports bikes, sports cars, Beamers, Mercs, SUVs., and so on (The list could be longer than this sentence!). And yet…I guess we are doing fine! The presence of all modes of transport on the roads of Delhi and Gurgaon points out towards the  high level of integration that exists in our society today! I guess we could give the whole world a lesson in road management-especially in terms of the cliché-“Unity in Diversity!”
The skills developed by a veteran driver who drives on the roads of the NCR region would match those developed by formula one racers all over the world, and perhaps even those who batter stock cars to pieces! The art of stopping and going, twisting and curving, corkscrewing(I guess even that!) and accelerating from the inside lane (giving that old doddering slow-coach a shock) are all skills that are developed over time by the driver in Delhi and Gurgaon! I guess, the engineers have calculated the camber and curves of the roads so well that the centripetal and centrifugal forces of zig-zagging vehicles is  well taken care of (preventing these overtaking vehicles from flying off into space on curves).
On these roads, it is a plain fact that opposes all laws of physics that, smaller vehicles with smaller engines are Formula 1 racers as they have the ability to zip and zoom into the distant horizon, only to be caught, ahem, at the traffic light, revving and barely controlling their impatience. The more costly the car, the more careful the driver is lest his expensive car be scratched by one of the Formula 1 cars racing on the road! Well, and then you have those motorcycles, many of them with 100 cc engines managing incredible feats of acceleration often burning the tarmac, leaving strips of burnt rubber smouldering over the track leaving the more powerful and “faster” vehicles behind to burble in embarrassment. Many of these 100 cc motorcycles and scooter can manage amazing feats of acrobatics thrown in your face as their riders pull out the most amazing twists, a curves accelerating from right under your noses! “Caught napping?”-The statement belted out from those tiny exhausts.
Having a loud horn covers up for all the inadequacies of a smaller engine and cheaper engineering. Often while driving down a relatively empty road rather peacefully you would have been suddenly shaken by the blast of a powerful horn, often glancing at the side mirror to allow the huge vehicle to pass you, only to realise that it was a moped or a hundred CC motorcycle!  In many such cases you are likely to be confronted by the vehicle behind you whose driver seeming to have the idea that pressing on the horn would help to clear the traffic head of him does exactly this! The effect of that loud blast of noise is to drive the other drivers crazy! Somehow some drivers never grow up from that childhood stage when children resort to role-playing and drive imaginary motorcycle and cars with much “Vrooming” and “peep-peeps!”
Many cases of road accidents in the NCR region of Delhi result from rash driving, lack of a sound road sense, and lack of respect for other drivers on the roads. The culture of respect for other road users seems to be lacking in most of the drivers on the roads of the capital and the surrounding townships! While no doubt, stickers carrying the words “Don’t Honk!” on the rear bumpers of cars abound in large numbers, but then drivers continue to use loud horns continuously! Pedestrians who account for the largest number of the victims of road accidents require an understanding of safe road rules. Somehow many of us road users need to grow up from that childhood phase when we drove imaginary cars on imaginary roads!
Technorati Tags:

Monday, 5 August 2013

A Tryst with Socialism

As a student studying in a State run school in Arbaminch, Ethiopia, I snacked on a veritable range of Communist Ideology( although I was an Ex-Patriot, an Indian student). My parents were both teachers in the same school and they were employed by the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia. The Communist Ideology was invariably propagated by young and rather dynamic teachers who taught Political Science. At the school level, all the students had to study Political Science as a subject which mainly dealt with  the philosophy which expounded the ideals of an egalitarian society. The high point of this school of thought dealt with concepts dealing in the idea of the withering of the state, a rather Utopian society  where the gap between the haves and the have nots was reduced  to a great extent. As a young and impressionable child, I found this school of thought to be full of good things, a philosophy which I believed at that time was the solution to all the problems in life! My exposure to the Socialist philosophy  lasted from 1976 to 1984.
What seemed to be an all encompassing solution to all the ills in the society associated with the gap between the rich and the poor however didn’t explain why there continued to be people who were growing richer and richer while the poor continued to languish in ignominy. Somehow those who were members of the socialist party, the youth members, and the secret agents seemed to be exploiting there powers to exploit the others. Yes, you couldn’t own more than two properties, although there was a solution to it, your wife could be made the legal owner of one house while you remained the owner of another. Everything else was nationalised by the state. In those days, I didn’t notice these discrepancies in this rather Utopian philosophy, but now when I look back on those times, it seems as if the state far from being a benign state was in fact more of a Police State. Freedom of speech was frowned upon, and in a state of paranoia, anything you said would have been interpreted as being disruptive to the Socialist Ideology!
It was a rather claustrophobic world that a young child like me lived in! It was as if each individual didn’t have an individual identity, and in fact each individual belonged to the state, period! But then, it seemed as if this was not a great price to pay if it meant social security and the guaranty that you would not starve especially as you were the responsibility of the state. The truth was that the Philosophy which promised equal opportunities to all didn’t in fact translate into reality! The reality was that the Philosophy that promised such grand possibilities of the withering away of the state in fact promoted and environment of paranoia, mistrust, and fear! It didn’t in any case create an environment of security.
In one instance, my father who was driving my brother and I to school was stopped at one of the bus stops where the bus had been delayed, and one fine gentleman demanded that my father should give him a lift to his destination. When my father asked him why he should do so, the gentleman said there it was a Socialist society, and there could be no private ownership, and that my father had the duty of ferrying him to his destination as a service to the state! This seemed to be a rather  lame excuse for getting a lift, that too without having to pay for the fare, and so my father rather tactfully refused to oblige the gentleman.
The images of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Lenin adorned posters and books everywhere. They seemed to be benign presences who promised a Utopian state which would ensure that everyone was equal. Somehow, Darwin’s idea of “Survival of the Fittest” seems to have been in direct contravention of the very tenets of Socialism and Communism. In those days we were told that Communism would follow Socialism especially after there was the withering away of the state, the extinction of the Capitalist and the extinction of the bourgeoisie. The emancipation of the Proletariat would finally lead to a state which would be the perfect state! In times when there was side scale condemnation  of Capitalist America, few wondered why Coca-Cola continued to be a popular drink, why Boeing Aircraft continued to be the mainstay of Ethiopian Airlines and why aid for drought victims continued to pour in from the United States of America!
Mother Land Call was a call to all the able-bodied citizens of Ethiopia to lend a helping hand in clearing forests for further plantation, and the plucking of Cotton grown on state run farms. As a school student, I accompanied my friends on such excursions where we hacked and cut trees and bushes to clear land for further plantation. people living in the town were also given the Mother Land Call to help in the harvest of Cotton, and entire townships left home en mass to cultivate cotton, often leaving homes unprotected for thieves to have a filed day. No one was spared, and often entire families composed of young children, young adults and grandparents would go out to the farm to do their share of duty towards the Mother Land! Even though we were ex-patriots, my parents, my brother and I were not spared.
When I returned to India for further studies, I was surprised by the greater freedom of expression that was exercised by all the people. People could talk relatively more freely about the failure of the ruling Government in those days, and they could voice there opinions without fear of any form of punishment from the state. The five year programmes seemed however to be a common feature of the Indian polity, and before the advent of Rajive Gandhi, the country seemed to follow a closed market policy. The memories of Emergency however continued to haunt the minds of people in India. In spite of the fact that India was aligned to the USSR, the relative freedoms enjoyed by the people of India was a heady mix for me by the time I joined college for further studies. It is clear that the tenets of Democracy are better than the tenets of an oppressive philosophy which deals with greater state control over the minds of people of the state. The very concepts of dictatorship, and oppressive regime seem to have been promoted by the philosophy of  Socialism. Today, when I think back to the times when I lived in a Socialist state, I realise that the very concept dealt with conformism forced though it may be. One had to conform to the philosophy of egalitarianism and any divergent beliefs were dealt with harshly.If the state curbs creativity and divergent thinking, then it is oppressive in nature and the leadership can in no way be absolved of dictatorial tendencies! In many cases, the atmosphere of paranoia ensured that political dissent was stifled at the outset. The oppressive consequences meted out to dissenters, and so called enemies of the state from time to time ensured that there was little or no opposition to government policies. Often, innocent people were punished on trumped up charges. Some of the people I knew including teachers and highly educated people were thrown into prison where they were subject to intensive indoctrination about the benefits of the Socialist Ideology. Some of the people I knew, including a neighbour, a teacher in the elementary school spent four years in prison on trumped charges. He underwent the so called, “Re-education” in Socialist Ideologies. But then, the end result was that his wife had to fend for herself and her two children for all those years. One can hardly imaging the hardships she would have had to face all those years. Some people disappeared during those times, never to be heard of again.
The tenets of Socialism seem to be rather good in theory, but in practice they seem to be rather oppressive. The concept of Utopia, derived in many ways from the idea of Heaven as expounded in the Bible and many other scriptures can only exist in an ideal state which is more idyllic than real given the facts of life. While egalitarianism is a most desired state of life, it is a misnomer to believe that it can exist in a situation where human beings exist as one single entity. It is a fact that in real life, no two human beings can arrive at a consensus of opinions. In a world where each human being exists as a distinct individual with  with unique qualities and abilities, it is wishful thinking to believe that egalitarianism can be easily achieved. Rebelliousness and thinking differently from others will always pose a challenge to the very thought of bringing human beings to one single platform of thought, philosophy or ideology. On Earth at least, Utopia is a rather far fetched albeit, a wishful   thought. Some of the most corrupt regimes including some of the worst dictatorships have existed in the so called Socialist regimes. I have observed that very few of the Chairmen  of  Socialist regimes can be absolved of nepotism, corruption and dictatorial tendencies. In some socialist societies that exist even today, it has been observed that the onus of leading the “glorious revolution” has been vested in a leadership system which passes the responsibility of doing so from father to son.It is rather like an aristocratic  or feudalistic system of governance where the rule of the state is inherited by the descendants or heir apparent of the titular figure-head of the revolution. It is so like the family rule that existed in many countries in the past!
The Glorious Revolution heralded by Mengistu, Teffari Banti and others came to end by the late nineties in Ethiopia. The entire facade on which a lie was built collapsed when the Northern rebels entered the capital, Addis Ababa. Overnight, the entire political structure built on the ideals of Marxism and Leninism collapsed, and to add ignominy to the ruling elite was the fact that Mengistu and his entourage fled the country well before the rebels entered the capital. USSR, which had its own upheavals starting with the fall of the Berlin wall and the introduction of Glasnost could not help Mengistu and his regime any further. Today, the Socialist era continues to haunt the people of not only Ethiopia, but also those countries that were once upon a time  staunch allies of the Soviet Union. The failure of Socialism in the erstwhile allies of the Soviet Union might be ascribed to the very rebellion of people who could no longer  bear a rather claustrophobic and overwhelming system of governance. Today, increased centralisation of powers, challenges posed to various freedoms enjoyed by people in different countries all over the world, issue of unique identification numbers, increased monitoring of individuals, tapping of telephones seem to suggest that we might once again be heading towards the rather fallacious beliefs in the possibility of building a Utopic society based on egalitarianism.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Dusty World-A Poem

On  bright early morning the sun shines strong, as  flowers spill scents,
And clouds do dance! Swept by  merry currents two lusty trout, on spumes
Do slide to meet the sea. Great branches sway gently in the breeze,
As vast green fields stretch afar!
And Nature bids the birds to sing, while insects hum and buzz
All day. As vast green fields do  stretch afar, a crystal stream flows
Apace! All animals graze and sleep all day, Nature at peace,
The world its Grace!
Another day  would I gladly spend, for  scent of spring for sure to come,
Of twinkling stream none remains, but a sad brown stream gurgles and
Groans. Of bright blue sky only dust remains. Covered by fug
  So Chokes the world!
Of all the  birds  none remain, the flowers alas, have faded long,
Brown as paper burned by Sun, while the animals wake and
Moan aloud! Another day I’d gladly  spend, to see
The  trout and birds a flight!
So wander I,  eternal wanderer, to see a world so fair so fresh!
Where Nature  bids the birds to sing and flowers to blossom in
Colours so bright! But then, my weary feet do lead across a field
Of grass Burnt brown!
Gurgaon Skyline
Of scents so sweet, but  how I smell, the stink of smoke and diesel
Fumes. And so, I plod across a pond, of brackish water, of fish
Long gone! The green’s turned brown, the trees in tatters,
The blue’s up turned in greys and browns!
And so I seek, a world of green, and blue, and crystal whites,
And to see the clouds that drift across a clear blue sky.
A world so filled with songs of birds, of scents so sweet,
The sense does reel!
Bunch of Flowers