Sunday, 24 November 2013

Has Poetry gone out of our lives?



The answer to the question might vary from person to person. The fact of the matter lies in the nature of the world that we live in; deadlines, shortage of spare time, targets, shortage of time, competition, and competition! No, I guess poetry has not gone out of our lives because poetry is evident in the advertisement jingles and the taglines that have been concocted for the fact that they are lyrical and musical in nature. Rhyme and metre are evident in some of the most successful advertisement campaigns. Whether it is an advertisement that promotes the Sunshine Car, or the promotion of a particular product, every advertisement is built on the premise that the human mind is in any case attuned to music, rhyme, and rhythm!
Poetry is a genre of literature that requires the leisure and space to allow the words of the poet to sink in. Today, unfortunately, time is a luxury that we do not have! If Wordsworth, Keats and Tennyson were favourites of a bygone age it was because people had the time to read a poem. So that then, why is it that poetry is being given a short shrift today? Poetry supposedly belongs to an indolent culture that had leisure and time for  the choice of words and rhymes to sink in! While no doubt, poetry had its heyday in the Victorian era, the beginning of the twentieth has also seen great poets like James Joyce, and Pablo Neruda who had the courage to write of matter mundane!
I for one thing have progressed from writing prose to the writing poetry because I believe very strongly that poetry is a more powerful medium for communicating feelings and emotions! Some of the most powerful literature written in the past has been in the form of poetry! The greatest epics of all times have been written in the poetic style. The  Odyssey, the Iliad, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana were were written in the poetic style because the writers knew that what was written in poetic style of writing were more likely to  live on in the minds of those who had heard them narrated.
To believe that we can do without poetry is to deny the essential human nature of all human beings-believing that we have no time for  the leisure of sinking into the the mood and world of fantasy, if only for gaining a temporary refuge from the stress and demands of a world that looks for instant solutions for the problems of a world that is mired in controversies and issues that need to be solved on a priority basis! The argument for the promotion of poetry might be based on the fact that poetry is a genre of literature  that is based on the need to convey the message in the least number of words. So then, in an age that is dependent on need to save time, can we do without poetry? Prose seeks to convey the message in more words than would be possible in poetry, so isn’t it the need for the day to continue to promote poetry big time?
The greatest challenge before us today is whether we can do without poetry! To deny the importance of poetry in our lives is like ignoring the very fact that we, as human beings are built to recognize poetry and everything which is lyrical! Poetry is something that marks us humans as distinct from machines which are drab and mechanical! If machines are prosaic, can we ignore the fact that human beings are more inclined to poetry in life? The CBSE a board that sets the syllabus for grade twelve in India for students undergoing twelve years of schooling in India has reduced the weightage of marks awarded for the poetry component of the syllabus. This has indicated that for this board, poetry is less important than prose and the so called higher order writing skills component of the syllabus. Is this right? I very strongly believe that the importance of poetry cannot and should not be ignored! Poetry is and continues to be an important part of our lives, and we should not ignore its importance in any way possible!
To deny the importance of poetry of  in our lives is to deny the fact that we are human beings who are attuned to what is rhythmical and musical in life.When a senior leader told me not to take more than an hour to teach a poem to students of class twelve, I replied and told her that the poem was profound and that it needed more time than just one day, and she had the maturity to accept my contention!  Based on my understanding of the profoundness of poetry, I believe that we cannot ignore its importance in every day life! Poetry is here to stay, and to believe that we can do without it is to deny the essential human nature of all of us which marks us as distinct from  all the other creatures that live on this Earth!
A writer writes poems believing that  a few words will help convey to his or her readers the message that he or she means to pass on as accurately and efficiently as possible. It goes without saying that a human being without vision and dreams is dead to all forms of creativity and  growth. Poetry in any case is here to stay whether in the form of advertisement jingles or taglines. Poetry continues to be a favoured genre of literature, and one cannot replace it with prose which is in nature less musical and lyrical in nature. We cannot deny the fact that it is poets who make an advertisement a great hit. So I would like to exhort all creative artist to  go for the poetry as a more successful medium than prose for communicating ideas. 
It becomes a sad moment for the teacher of languages when his students question the need for reading poetry in class! The fact of the matter is that like all the genres of literature, reading poetry helps make us better human beings! Prose unlike poetry is prosaic and often dry and often without that zing or spirit, while poetry has that little extra. Poetry continues to be the best medium for communicating emotions, sensations, and perceptions to another individual. It is as close as one can feel what another has felt at a particular moment. While it is true that technological advancement might have brought us the gifts of social networking sights, the fact is that we are drifting apart emotionally and have little heart to heart communication with each other! In a world that is becoming increasingly mechanical, there is steady degeneration in the quality of human relationships and human bonding. The de-humanization of cultures and societies has made it necessary to promote poetry big time! Those little but significant things like the Sunset, the little yellow flowers dancing in the wind, or the flock of birds winging away in the skies are all important things that we often ignore while rushing to work. It is poetry that brings these forgotten things back to life when you have a few moments to spare. Poetry is music and music is poetry, and one can't deny that music and poetry have the power to remove all that sadness and depression that exists in our lives!
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Friday, 22 November 2013

A Teacher’s Farewell

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My children, my students, we’ve spent a year and the time
Has come to bid you farewell, I taught you all I knew and
Learned more from you than you’d ever guess!
When you gave me a citation I was moved to tears, but couldn’t
Show. I have been your teacher for the year past!
And a teacher’s meant to be tough and cool, a reservoir of emotions!

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When you asked me to visit  you from another class while
I taught, I promised five minutes because you compelled me.
 How do I tell you that I have commitments and responsibilities towards others!
When I reached the class I saw you waiting for me, and felt selfish
To have made you wait, but then I have commitments to other
Students who look forward to me to teach them a lesson of life!
My children, I have loved you like my own children, looking in you
My own, and when I reprimanded you, it was because I cared
For you, and when you were down, I was concerned for you!
When the other class indifferent to the subject, I found
Joy when I visited you! The engineers and doctors were
Too full of themselves, proud of their abilities!
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But then, I found joy in your ability to learn and listen patiently,
I thought of quitting when I visited the Doctors and Engineers 
Because they were rude and insulting in their attitude!
God bless you for the patience you showed me,  you will
Go a long way than those who were filled with pride,
Humble yet great, you listened to me with patience!
For pride does lead to disaster, while humbleness
Leads to success! Believe me, you’ve got the makings of success
  Than those who’d be engineers that build bridges that break!

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Sure, doctors you would be, but what would you do if feelings you had not ?
For medicine does teach you that you need to feel another’s pain, but,
  You do think that disease would not you touch, forget the lesson you did learn!
Remember, my children, your faith and trust in the teacher would pay
Greater dividends than those who thought they were too intelligent
To pay attention in class, for pride does ruin intelligent minds.
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Believe me my dear children, I did the best I could, so to make you,
Understand the need to be humble. And sure I found joy in teaching you,
Your support for me formed me so, I learned more from you than you me!
Sure,  I looked at you as my own children and treated
You thus! Others questioned our methods so, but  we will prove them wrong!
For intelligence devoid of  faith is but an empty vessel that makes a hollow noise!
The citation that you gave me was better than any certificate given by my employer,
Your trust in me, gave me all the encouragement that I would ever need!
I thought that I was wrong in my teachings, but you proved me right!
Fare you well dear children, for sure I loved you like my own children.
 I saw my own children in each one or you, your love for me
Did overwhelm me so. You taught me a lesson in trust and faith!
I love you each one of you, and do pray that you may taste
Of  success , for believe me, you are all winners  so great!
If a teacher’s blessings do carry weight, then sure you’ll remember me.

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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Smartphones and HDR Photography-Any takers?

I own a DSLR, and bridge camera, but then I do carry a smartphone too, which is always with me 24x7! I have always scoffed at the ability of the smartphone in replacing the DSLR. As a purist, I would not like this to ever happen, but, the fact is that I cannot carry my DSLR all the time, and my bridge camera too is not with me all the time. My pocket camera, a Cyber shot W30 has limited optics, not worth carrying as its flash is no good! I have pasted a few ‘HDR’ photographs for consideration and I believe that even after some cropping, the quality is passable, considering that you are using a smartphone as a versatile gadget which besides being an instrument for communication, also backs up as a device for taking photographs. The white balance and focus were switched to the manual setting:
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The flash didn’t fire in this case, but the result was fair enough; of course the grains are visible because of the boosted ISO Levels, but then this is admissible considering the tricky lighting conditions that exist at night, especially with the lights flowing into the lens along with the light cast by the moon!
Sunrise
This snap taken on the HDR mode is underexposed, no doubt, but then the resulting image is fair enough! The white balance was selected manually and so was the focus!
 
Sunrise
This is a Non-HDR Snap and the difference is visible- notice the flaring! Also you will notice that the image is over-exposed!
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A Non- HDR photograph taken on the Macro Mode with Manual White Balance and Manual focus on a Smart Phone.
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A Non-HDR photograph taken without a flash, Manual focus, and manual white balance and no flash! Taken in difficult light conditions with the glare coming from the windows and no fill in flash, I would say that the photograph will pass muster.
Note: These snaps were taken with a Micromax Canvass A 110 smartphone.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A World of Words


Sure I’ll build us a world of words, where the sun does glow
And  flowers bloom never to whither! Where love does flow
Like  tinkling streams with silver waves,  never to stop,
Where stars be gemstones to pick for you and me!

The scent of  flowers steals the senses, the rainbow bright
Does ride the  sky accompanied by clouds so white!
And sure we’ll walk  pastures  so rich, stained in green, hand in hand,
Drunk with sights  so fine, we’ll climb the skies to reach the stars!

Sure I’ll build us a world of words, where the sun does glow.
Far from a dusty world, we’ll traipse  with the sun aglow.
Where the warm fingers of the dawn, the fog  dispel,
Escorted by  rows of flowers so thick!

If you  grant me a chance to build  a world of words,
I’ll take you  where leaves do dance and  the flower nods,
On to the rainbow bridge to stroll to gardens afar, where
Birds do feed and squirrels reach to hands held out!.

Just let down your hair, while I escort you through, a world of words,
Where scents so float, the moon does sail, for surely words
Do paint canvass for a sky so fair, with blues so mixed with tufts
So white of clouds, blown here and there by a lusty breeze!

Sure, will I walk you to a world  of words, where you and I skip with
Steps so light! For once we’d be like children so free, with
Smiles of joy, where laughter  tinkles like  streams that
Flow. And lusty trout do leap with joy so rich!

If you do allow me, I’ll take you to a world of words, where Sun
And Moon shine, and winter winds don’t bite, a warmth of one
Filled with  trust and love! With laughter loud, we traverse
A Garden so fresh, where roses  nod, and deer  tumble!

To celebrate a love so great we’ll visit my world of words, with
Nature so rich, to celebrate  togetherness, untrammelled with
Cares of a world that rushes off to win a race, as we, a team, will
Walk the race, to greet the world  with languor and grace! 

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A day in the life of a writer

 
I wake up to a day that lies before me,  starting with the moon and the sun,
One in the descendant and the other in the ascendant while I, the traveller look at one
Page in my life, starting with the dawn of a new day. The sun glows with the warmth of
A promise of a day filled with hope and events guaranteed to fill my life with the promise,
A day with events meant to fill me with the joys of one more day filled with the gifts.
 
And then as I travel to work I see the flocks of birds that sail the skies, in the glow
Of the warm glowing sun in the early winter morn, off to their nesting hollow,
While the day does roll by, I approach my place of work and wonder what the
Day would hold for me! So I proceed to my room in the stillness of the morn,
The shadows yet lengthened while the corridors echo with my footfalls!
 
The day moves on and I the silent spectator but an actor in the play of life,
The wide smile of the student handing over his assignment gives me a life
Filled with promises of a day filled with promises of things yet to be, of more to
Come, and while I sit at the workshop, she, sitting with me  on the bench, does
Show off her delicate feet, her bright painted toes, blinking in the day!
 
So I thought of writing of the day gone by, a day filled with the promises or more
Yet to come, for if the morrow does dawn, will I surely glimpse for sure,
At the bouquets of flowers that please me so. For sure, the gifts of one day
Might surely spill to the next, and the scents of the flowers do linger on while the
Woman by my bench does show off her delicate feet and freshly painted toes.
 
The next day will surely bring forth a day coloured by the rising sun so big,
That if I were to reach it would fill my arms to the brim, and I sit at my big
Table thinking of the day yet to come, while the pigeons above flutter and call
Out to each other interrupting my stream of thoughts…Ah! I gaze at the
Scene out of my window at men and women labouring to construct a building.
 
The door opens and I am woken from my reverie of a myriad dreams, a shadow
Leaning forward to me, reaching perhaps into my mind to learn of how
I could be so silent in the midst of all that din! But then not to seem rude, I smile
At her, the fragrance of her perfume lingers on in the room, but then I slip
Into yet another process of thoughts, of what I’d do after I retire.
 
The glow from the burning logs in the fire-place bathe the living room
With warmth, both seen and felt, while I sit pensive, fingers hovering from
There flight on the key-board, a glass of warmth set on the side board, while
She sits gladly knitting a sweater for a grand son. Were life to be so carefree
With no deadlines to meet nor worries about unfinished work!
 
As the brief period of rest ends, I am surprised that hardly have a few minutes
Passed in all that while had I slipped into another world, but do I realize bits
Of my dream as I gaze back at the present. Of the task in hand that need
Be done, and with a light step do I visit a class of eager children, but with one
Who has not submitted his task, and as I turn to him, smiling he hands to me!
 
And I gaze at the children with an admiration most profound they should be
Powerhouses of energy. Where do they get their stories, cheer and joy, to be
So excited and noisy? But then do I slip back into my past at a little boy who would
Be as noisy and active as these little children, for children will be children and so
Let them be, and not let the adult in us curb what what was once a child indeed!
 
As gangs we fought, throwing mud balls at enemies, catapults firing pellets
At imaginary aliens from outer space, we climbed the trees my bro and friends,
From imaginary aliens that ranged the ground, snapping jaws at quickly snatched
Ankles! And the Neem tree did sway from our exertions, while the sparrows
Squeaked in alarm lest the careless boys topple the nest with eggs in them!
 
And I wonder if the the boy leading the gang to free the earth of intruders and
The old man by the fire-place be not one and the same, both children and
Adults at the same time? While I the exasperated teacher do try  to bring some
Order to the class with a grim expression, but then the children do see the child
In me and they smile at me with kindred smiles, one child to another child!
 
The bell rings, ending the session with those incorrigible brats
Yet, loved I being with them for they did remind me  of other brats
That lived in another world a world long past in time and space, while
I the fussy one try to herd the restless sheep into a single file that they
Won’t keep for a few moments! Was I like them, these restless kids?
 
Then comes the time to turn back  home the promise of more surprise,
Awaiting  little kids toss and tumble eager to grab my replies
About adventures they’ had at school. And so the day passes on to one
That promises rest and peace, the result of a day filled with events so many.
And as the night does approach, do I thank the child that lives in me!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Price of Discipleship


The price of discipleship is very great and whoever desires to follow in the footsteps of the Lord has to be really strong! Today, many people on  the spur of the moment express their desire to become clerics or to take up ministry in the service of the Lord, but often this leads to disillusionment when they realize that they have taken too big a leap and the hardships and difficulties were not what they had expected!This however does not mean that there have not been any disciples in the past nor will there be none in the future! History has taught us about the great deeds the twelve disciples and how they reached far off lands to spread the good news!
Fellowship and follower ship in the Christian way of life depends on unconditional surrender to the leadership of Jesus and what He stands for: faith, forgiveness, sacrifice, and service. The Book of St. Luke, Chapter 9, Verses 57 to 62 very clearly describes what Jesus expected from his followers. This chapter describes three men who wanted to follow Jesus. To the first man who wanted to follow him, Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the son of men has nowhere to lay his head.” This in itself is a reminder of the hardships that the follower of Faiths might have to undergo, perhaps even having to sleep in the open without the comfort of one’s comfy bed, and the warmth of one’s house! When another man expressed his desire to follow Jesus and Jesus said, “Follow me,” the man developed cold feet and replied, “ Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” The third man would have followed Jesus but then he wanted to be given time to “say farewell to those at my home.” Discipleship, incidentally requires very strong commitment and faith, and any instance of vacillation in Faith could undermine the very basis of follower ship!
Jesus is very categorical about what he expects from his disciples and his followers, and this expectation is clearly stated in the Book of St. Luke, Chapter 9, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” The disciple who wants to follow in the footsteps of The Lord should have the maturity, courage and  strength to press forward on a journey that is bound to be a difficult one, and also guard against apostasy or the abandoning of his beliefs. It is clear that Jesus expects his disciples to be able to rise above the material and worldly bonds that tie us to this Earth, preventing us from taking up the yoke of discipleship. Harsh though it may sound, there can be no bodies to bury, nor people  to bid farewell to at home because these are the stumbling blocks which come in the way of discipleship! Jesus challenges several would be disciples in  the book of St.Luke, 9:57-62 to a deeper commitment to the task in hand.
The question of the the price of Discipleship as unquestioning Faith, has often cropped up through my professional life as an educator and various people have come up with varied opinions about the meaning of faith. The Manager of a Christian Diocesan School in Haryana who has studied the Bible deeply made a distinction between Unquestioning Faith and Faith that is tempered with questions and doubts. It goes without saying that true Followership is dependent on absolute Faith and it cannot be weakened by doubts!  One cannot afford to be a  Doubting Thomas as this could lead to apostasy or the weakening of faith.  This is clearly not for those who want to follow  in Jesus’ footsteps! It was a tough task for the twelve disciples to follow in the footsteps of the Teacher, and many a times they might have stumbled, but then there faith held them upright before they could fall to the ground. Peter’s denial that he knew Jesus three times, Thomas’ inability to accept that Jesus had been crucified and his demand to see the proof are a few examples that show that the disciples were only human! The disciples too had families and friends whom they loved and cared for, and yet they were able to sacrifice everything they had in order to preach the word of forgiveness! The fact that the twelve disciples were only human and were able to fulfil their tasks so well is a matter of encouragement for all those who have put their minds and souls into the role of followership or discipleship. No task should be too great for those who have the conviction and faith in the risen Lord.  So, no  matter how steep the challenges, there will continue to be those who have chosen the path of sacrifice and renunciation as true followers of the good Lord! One should not be daunted by the decision, if one has the required sense of commitment and  trust in the good Lord!
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Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Visit By Ram Gopal Vallath-The Author of “Oops the Mighty Gurgle”

Kaye Jacob, The Principal handing over a memento to the guest speaker
The eleventh of November 2013 finally arrived, and we were all excited to meet Mr. ram Gopal Verma the author of the quirky and funny book titled, “Oops the Mighty Gurgle.” His talk was the high point of the English week that too on the first day! Mr. Vishnu Kartik, the senior program leader had been kind enough to ensure that Mr. Ram G. Vallath was there before us to inspire students and teachers alike with his experiences of life. There was in the chill in the air, and I arrived at seven in the morning to ensure that the Meditation Centre was spick and span. After taking the attendance of the students of my class, I rushed along with my students to the Meditation Centre to see that our speaker had already arrived! Mr. Vishnu Kartik was already there with him and our Principal arrived along with me. The first thing I did was to get my copy of his book autographed by him! He appeared to be an unassuming person filled with humbleness and grace! I further came to know that his children had once studied in our school, and his elder daughter would have been studying in class ten! After the  brief introduction by the compere, a young student of the school, and a brief introduction by me, Mr. Ram Gopal Verma took the stage to enthral the gathered students of classes eight to eleven with his experiences as a successful professional followed by the turn of events that led to his decision to take up writing as a full time commitment.
Mr. Ram Gopal Vallath began his talk by describing how he had grown up in a small town in the South of India, and his experiences as a child, his escapades, and goof ups. He maintained that he had a great interest in reading which kindled an active imagination in him. Later in life he completed his BTech from IIT Chennai and went on to be appointed to prestigious posts in various well known mulit-national companies. However, when he was thirty, “ and on top of the world when the niggling worry started. It was quite a small worry in the beginning. I found that my hand would tremble when I was holding up a spoon, a plate, a glass of beer etc. My original self-diagnosis was that this was caused by work related stress. When one becomes a country manager at 31, apart from being on top of the world, the by-product is stress. And when at 33, I had moved into a telecom operation as head of sales and marketing, the effect was approximately like moving from the frying pan into the fire.” This was the time when he was diagnosed with a rare form of an “auto-immune disorder” which rendered his hands and feet steadily uncoordinated. Preliminary examination “indicated that the condition was not congenital but was an acquired disorder called CIDP.CIDP is an autoimmune disorder- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy. My own immune system was attacking my peripheral nerves and they were losing their conductivity. This in turn was making( his) muscles useless and over a period of time, they were fading away.”The treatment in India constituted of a strong dose of steroids which affected his eye-sight and made him gain a lot of weight. Looking at the complications resulting from the limited treatment offered in India, it was decided that he should travel to the United States of America for a treatment that was still in its experimental stages. “The standard treatment for the condition was to take an intravenous medication called IVIG. A full course was 2mg/Kg of weight which in my case worked out to 160mg. This had to be taken over five days. It cost 6 lacs!! An enormous sum.”
It was while he was recuperating from his treatment in America, and the havoc that the chemicals were playing on his mind that he decided to write his first book, “ – Oops the Mighty Gurgle”. The task of writing this book gave him “a huge mental push. The book was so wacky, funny and totally in the realm of the absurd that writing it kept my spirits soaring high. I jokingly tell my friends that it was a mix of the chemo and the rat and rabbit extracts that were pumped into me that made me write such a crazy wacky nutty novel.” The novel in itself is not simply for children but for those who dare to think differently and out of the box. After the initial success of the Book, “Oops the Mighty Gurgle,” Ram G. Vallath has embarked on the sequel to this book, which is at present in the editing stage and will soon be out on the bookshelves.
RamG Vallath’s creativity and humour are a message that handicaps can be overcome in life, and these handicaps need not affect our ability to celebrate life in its fullest form! Literature is in its highest form therapeutic in nature and the role of poetry and prose cannot be ignored in an age that is highly dependent on technology. It goes without saying that a life without the capacity to dream is a life bereft of colour. RamG Vallath is an inspiration to all of us to dream, and dream big of all the possibilities of life, and never to accept “no” in the face of challenges! Life presents before us numerous challenges but these challenges do not mean that it is the end of the road for us! Literature in all its forms celebrates life in all its aspects, and it endorses the need to enjoy good literature without rationalizing it and just immersing ourselves in the possibilities that can yet be!
In the talk to the students and teachers, Ram G.Vallath attributed his success to the following Mantras:
  • Never ever think of what could have been.
  • Always be cheerful and be the provider of cheer – at home, at work...
  • Actively seek solution instead of moaning about the problem.
  • At work, always do more than what is expected of you.
  • Thank god every day for a wonderful family, great friends, relatives and above all, for my unconquerable spirit.
The whole gathering was spell-bound by his talk, and at times we were moved to tears of sympathy and appreciation at the same time! It was certainly a grand way to start the English week in the school, that too with a motivating and inspiring talk by a man who went through so much, finally rising to the challenge and proving that everything depends on the role of the mind and the spirit of positivism, which can defeat all odds and turn difficult  situations into precursors of success! Ram Gopal Vallath’s story is about conquering difficulties and handicaps against all odds with a positive attitude. I went all the way to the Reliance Times Out outlet in Gurgaon to purchase his book, and sure glad I am to have been able to acquire  his book which I am looking forward to read!
Valuable Inputs and Quotations have been taken from the Write Up sent by the Guest Speaker.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

A few glimpses of the Epiphany Church Garden Fete 2013

 
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Once again it was that time of the year when the whole congregation of the Epiphany Church of Gurgaon came together in a big way to join in the festivities presented by the Annual Fete of the Church. The fete had been organized for a noble cause, namely to garner funds for the construction of a bigger church building of the Sadhu Sunder Singh Church at Sohna. On this occasion, we were graced by the presence of The Rt. Revd. Sunil K. Singh, The Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi (C.N.I.), the First Lady of the Diocese, Mrs. Rekha Singh, and their son, Sonal Singh. A special thanks for the efforts of the Convener of the fete, Mr. Noel Chandeker!
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The Chief Guest, The Rt. Revd. Bishop Sunil K. Singh with members of the Congregation
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A test of Strength? It was really difficult to hold the wet brick for more than thirty seconds, but our Chief Guest, The Rt. Revd. Sunil K. Singh was able to better some of the younger contestants!
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The Chief Guest the Rt. Revd. Sunil K.j Singh with a member of the parish
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The Rt. Revd. Bishop Sunil Singh with the presbyter in charge, Revd. Sunil Singh, the Convener, Mr. Noel Chandekar, and Ekta Lal
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Can you hit the earthen pot blindfolded?
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The Stalwarts of the White Elephant Stall
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Releasing the Brochure
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The members of the youth fellowship
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The Presbyter in charge of the church with senior members of the congregation
 
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The Rt.Revd. Karam Masih, former Bishop of the Diocese of Delhi was also with us!
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Gathering for the little babies' contest
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And he sang and sang and won the hearts of the listeners!
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Little kids assembling for the best baby award
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Little kids assembling for the contest
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Sanjay Lal displaying the prize the lucky prize on the brochure
 
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Sangeeta won the prize listed in the sales of the brochure
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Hectic auctioning for the hamper
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Monica won the auction!
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The Holy Trinity Church garnered a huge amount through sales of Chicken biryani!
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Mr.Rakesh also won a prize!
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One of the Hampers for auction held aloft by Mr. Noel Chandeker
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The winner of the Raffle Ticket Prize, Mr. D.D.Lal

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Is Nature to be found only in Sanctuaries?

 
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The beauty of Nature is to be found everywhere, it only requires the discerning eye to see it! The Parrots that congregate together, and the peacocks that pair are proof enough that nature exists within our door steps! The bees that hum and the butterflies that flit can be found right at your doorstep! All they require is that you appreciate the bounty of Nature, all for your pleasure and delight!
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Unfortunately, it has become fashionable to visit a sanctuary and sing praises of the animals and birds we spot, little knowing that there are even more beautiful creatures waiting right by our doorsteps, just waiting to be acknowledged and appreciated! How often do we ignore the sparrows that chirp, welcoming the dawn of the day, and the vine that thrusts its tender tendrils to grasp at the wholesome sky, proclaiming the power of life, all for your appreciation and delight!
And so when I saw this crowd of Parrots sharing a meal together, along with some birds of another flock, I wondered about how nature teaches us to share, and live with mutual respect and tolerance. But then unfortunately,  we humans live within our divided worlds, distinct by the colour of our skins, and the status of our position in the society, while sparrow do chirp to welcome the dawn of a new day! And so I saw these geese, welcome me with a trust so great!
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But then why do we look for nature in sanctuaries when we can find nature right within our souls, for it needs only a time to appreciate the beauty of the rising sun, or the flitting of a gaggle of geese across the sky to remind us that we too are part of nature, a greater creation of God, something made not out of modern technology, but a vision much greater than human minds! So then pause and appreciate nature as it exists, not just in Sanctuaries, but right next to your door step!
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Do you, therefore take time to look at the butterfly that flits across your vision, or listen to the peacock call to its mate, while you think of the day ahead? Pause awhile all you who join the race to the finish line, for wealth or fame, pause awhile to appreciate and drink the beauty of nature that is to be found not just in Sanctuaries, but right next to your doorstep! But then are you so blinded that you search for nature in places far away from your dwelling that you set aside the time and day to take your family to a visit to a Sanctuary!
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Therefore, to show you the beauty of nature have I trapped a few creatures of nature for you to pause and see, how beautiful nature around you happens to be! And if you thought that these belonged to a sanctuary would I prove you wrong! For the rising sun,  and the blooming flowers are there for you to see, if only you could pause and look at the bounty that the Lord has made for you. How can I stop you, who are so keen on winning the race to success and fame that you turn a blind eye to the blooming flower that beckons to you with the love and joy?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Developing Opinion Writing and Persuasive Writing skills in school students

 

What is Opinion Writing?

–It is a form of writing that encourages careful word choice, the development of logical arguments, and a cohesive summary. Young children can be guided through a series of simple steps in an effort to develop their persuasive writing skills.
–In lower grades ( 1-6), it can take up the form of the “What if….” question based on reading texts delivered in class. For example, after a reading of the story of the Shepherd who cried wolf when there was none, an opinion based paragraph could start with, what if the shepherd had not lied before, would the village people have turned up when he sighted the wolf and called for them?
–At the senior grade levels, (10 to 12) Opinion writing can take up the form of a research paper based on specific research techniques. Invariably, the research paper could start with a Hypothesis or a question which the ultimate research would prove correct or incorrect, or for that effect answer a question.
–Research Writing is in most cases based on the Socratic Method of teaching through the introduction of carefully selected questions. The Dialectical approach should be introduced early so that the student develops skills that lead to the expression of Opinion in a logical and rational manner!

Why should we teach our students Opinion Writing skills?

As children grow as mature writers, it's important to give them the opportunity to write extensively using a variety of formats. Persuasive writing helps students formulate specific strategies for expressing their opinions effectively, and provides them with an opportunity to research facts that will support their opinions. As students develop an insight about how writing can influence or affect the thoughts or actions of others, they can begin to appreciate the persuasive nature of the marketing strategies they are exposed to through television, the Internet, and other media.

How should we teach students skills in Opinion Writing?

•Have students listen to or read examples of persuasive writing. Together, listen and look for words, phrases and techniques that helped the writer persuade the listener.
•Brainstorm something that is important to an individual child or the group. Is it extra recess? Another chapter of the read aloud? The potential closing of a library? The more authentic the issue, the more passionately your students will write.
•Once the important privilege is chosen, have the child (or class) start to list reasons why they should be allowed this privilege. "Just because," and "because I like it" should not be considered valid reasons. Students can work together to generate at least three good reasons to support an argument. A list of persuasive words can be prepared before hand by the teacher and then given to the students ( It will benefit the community, for the better good, the need of the hour, urgently required, It is the only alternative,  …etc.).
•Have students do some research to gather facts or examples that support their reasons.
•Have students summarize their position.
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Interesting Topics for Research Grades X-XII

•Having a good vocabulary can ensure a successful career! • Education is the only way for eradicating poverty!  •How does literature help us better understand ourselves? • A life devoid of art is a life without taste! •Can all the events around us be anticipated and explained? •I am not responsible for what my friends do around me? •What does the past tell us? •How is information power? •Whose responsibility is it to create the conditions that promote equal rights for all? •Learning of  rules of formal grammar is essential for fluency in languages.

 

How  we teach opinion Writing from K.G. to grade Six

K.G. Grade Level
At the K.G. Grade level, students came up with very different and interesting opinions based on the story of Goldilocks and the three bears when they were asked what they would like to be, Goldilocks, or the bears, and why? After reading the story, “Jack and the Beanstalk,” the students were asked whether they thought Jack was right to kill the giant, or, they were asked who they liked most, Jack, or the Giant? Students came up with amazing opinions! Some of them believed that Jack was not entirely innocent, in fact they thought that he was guilty of trespassing into the giant’s home!
Grade Two Level
At the Grade two level students are made to differentiate between Fact based writing and Opinion writing with the help of anchor charts based on prompts like “I feel…, I want to share… In my thought”.
Grade Three Level
At the grade three level students are given prompts like, “If both of you and your sister were fighting, would both of you have the same story to tell your Mom?” An anchor chart is then given to them with statement like, “I think potato chips are the best snacks.” The other child has another statement like, “I think Ice cream is the best snack!” Students are given writing prompts/sentence starters and an organiser to fill in. After reading in story of The wolf and the three pigs, students were asked to narrate the story from the wolf’s point of view. They were asked whose point of view they supported and why. This would be based on the scenario where the wolf was arrested by the police and asked to defend himself.
Grade Four Level
Grade Four students had an expedition based opinion writing task on the importance of pairing in the world of nature and the man made world. Picture prompts like those of hooves and shoes, parrot’s beaks and nut cracker, scuba diving flippers and duck’s feet, the wood pecker and the hammer, bombardier beetles beetle and the machine guns. Students were given time to do some research on the net. Students were supposed to observe these picture and then write their opinions.
Grade Six Level
Grade Six the Story The Wild Duck was read in class then the students were given questions which probed their opinions like for example, “What if the boy hadn’t taken care of the duck, would the father have stopped hunting?” The students can then frame their opinions on the topic. Complaint letters in grade six, and letters to the editor in grade seven are exercises and units which help students develop skills in opinion writing and skills in persuasion.

Important questions on research skills at the Grade XI-XII Level:

•How do I write and develop a research question? •How is research conducted? •How can I generate my own research? •What is primary and secondary source information? •How is information organized? •Why is information organized in different ways? •What is the research journey? •Why is research an important 21st century skill?

Important Skills for the Student to Master by  Grade Twelve

•Independent and Dependent research designs - • Articulate and defend information, conclusions, and solutions that address specific        contexts and purposes • Use information technology effectively • Develop 21st. Century Skills • Work as a community of scholars i.e., collaboration • Reach out to a global audience

How to write a Bibliography

It goes without saying that the art of writing a Bibliography is an integral part of any Research paper, and students should be encouraged to practice writing Bibliographies in the accepted format. Before we go further, we should try to understand what a bibliography is besides being a Citation or your sources!
•A bibliography is a list of the sources you used to get information for your report. It is included at the end of your report, on the last page (or last few pages).
•You will find it easier to prepare your final bibliography if you keep track of each book, encyclopaedia, or article you use as you are reading and taking notes. Start a preliminary, or draft, bibliography by listing on a separate sheet of paper all your sources. Note down the full title, author, place of publication, publisher, and date of publication for each source.
•Also, every time a fact gets recorded on a note card, its source should be noted in the top right corner. When you are finished writing your paper, you can use the information on your note cards to double-check your bibliography.
•When assembling a final bibliography, list your sources (texts, articles, interviews, and so on) in alphabetical order by authors' last names. Sources that don't have authors (encyclopaedias, movies) should be put into alphabetical order by title. There are different formats for bibliographies, so be sure to use the one your teacher prefers.
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Accepted Formats

The two main formats,  accepted worldwide have been given below:
•There are two main types of bibliography formats: MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association).
MLA format is typically used by those writing in the liberal arts or humanities community. It focuses on the author of the cited source material, in order to help the reader place him or her in the appropriate historical and philosophical context. 
APA format, on the other hand, is used more often in the social sciences and is useful for citing from journals and other such publications. Its focus is more on the research presented in the source and when it was released, rather than the individuals who conducted it.
•Regardless of the format used, every bibliography citation has to have a minimum amount of identifying information. The source matters when it comes to formatting the entry — book titles are underlined, article titles are in quotation marks — and determines what information is needed (for example: a book's publisher vs. a web page's URL).
 

Examples of the Bibliography

  1. Broome, Ken (1997), ‘Life at the top!’ The Herald Sun, Nov 21, 1997
  2. Davis, Heather: ‘Guidelines to writing’ [Online] Available    &lt.http://www.usa.net/~hdavis/home.html> Jan 7, 1999
  3. ‘Mammals’ World Book Encyclopedia (1996) vol. 12 World Book Inc., Chicago
  4. Smith, Kate (1998), Life in Asia, Collins, Melbourne
  5. Choi, C 2003, 'Cleaner living' Scientific American, vol. 289, no. 5, p. 32.
  6. 'Germany' The world book encyclopedia 2004, World Book, Sydney, vol. 8, pp. 114-116.
  7. ' Jupiter' Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition 2006, viewed 10 November 2006, <http://www.school.eb.com.au/all/comptons/article-9345009>.
    Oakley, V 2003, 'The tragic trade', Australian, 15 November, p. 29.
  8. Ward, C 2004, Australian bush fires burn on, Disaster Relief, viewed 10 January 2007, http://www.disasterrelief.org/Disasters/020104Ausfires4/

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