Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Does Marvel's transformation make him the most eligible custodian of Griffin's secret to invisibility ?

The only character in The Invisible Man who benefits from his relationship with Griffin is Marvel. He is the only one who undergoes a transformation by the end of the novel. Why Wells decided to make Marvel the only truly rounded character seems to be surprising enough. However, it seems that Wells probably decided to add the Epilogue almost as an afterthought. There is a strong possibility that Wells wanted to add the Epilogue to tie up loose ends, like perhaps what happened to the three diaries? Were the diaries secure? What if they fell into the wrong hands? What happened to the money Griffin had robbed? What about Marvel? He dropped out rather suddenly after the sixteenth chapter!
The transformation that takes place in Marvel at the end is puzzling enough, but then I guess this had to happen because Wells had to make Marvel a credible enough character with whom the diaries could be entrusted. The author portrays Marvel in the Epilogue as someone who has suddenly matured into a 'great thinker', someone who has 'movements [that] are slow' meaning that he is someone who is not likely to make rash decisions. The most radical transformation is perhaps described in the words, 'But he has a reputation for wisdom'. While these changes are related to his attitudes, beliefs, and character, we also see Marvel as someone who has prospered greatly from his association with Griffin. He now runs an inn named The Invisible Man, and on the signboard are images of boots and a hat. The name of Inn is a tribute to Griffin, who ironically was his benefactor, while the pictures on the signboard indicate that he remembers his humble roots! Prosperity has not blinded him from remembering his past! Do his humbleness and maturity make Marvel the best guardian of Griffin's diaries?
The answer to the question of whether Marvel is the best guardian of Griffin's diaries and his secret to invisibility needs to be analysed with reference to the transformation that has taken place in his character. Marvel's prosperity has apparently not blinded him, to the harms that the misuse of the secrets of the diaries might lead to, his own words, "I wouldn't do what he did" suggest that Marvel would never use the secrets of the diaries in a way that would harm the society in any way! It is clear that the harmful secrets of the diaries are safe in the hands of this unlikeliest of characters in the novel!
This brings us to the question of whether he is a safer guardian of Griffin's secrets than perhaps even Kemp! Kemp, it is clear, had ambitions, as innocuous as joining the fellowship of the Royal Society but then ambitions are ambitions, and one wonders if even a man like Kemp might not be swayed into using Griffin's secrets to gain a place in the Royal Society! Wells was aware of the fact that he could not entrust Griffin's diaries to the custody of Kemp, therefore he affected a transformation in Marvel to make him perhaps the most viable custodian of Griffin's diaries.
One wonders if Wells might not be suggesting that the wisdom and maturity of a relatively less educated person like Marvel might not be a better reason for entrusting dangerous secrets than the assurance of the knowledge of a highly educated person like Kemp. The ethics of scientific research might, in fact, be better understood by the less educated and humble person like Marvel than those who are highly educated like Kemp and Griffin! Being highly educated does not condone the lack of maturity and humbleness in those who are highly educated!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A book release of Escape From Athabasca, A Collection of Short Stories and poems

Today, the 28th of August I was glad to get my book, Escape From Athabasca, A Collection of Short Stories and Poems released by Revd. Sunil S. Ghazan, Presbyter in Charge at the Church of The Epiphany, Gurgaon where I am also a communicant member.

A few words about the book were expected on the occasion. I talked about the genre and availability of the book. I told the  gathering that there were a few copies with me which are available at highly discounted rates. For others, the books  are available on amazon.

The picture posted above is that of some of  readers, my patrons who have all the books I have written till date. Their support and prayers have encouraged me to keep writing.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Report writing - Format and Value-points

Report Writing is part of the CBSE syllabus for higher order writing. Reports are factual descriptions and they can also be clubbed until the topic: articles.

 A Check List for Reports:

  1. Reports are of three broad kinds, Newspaper Reports, Magazine Reports and Organisational report. The third kind of report is not however in the CBSE syllabus.
  2. Both forms start with a catchy heading and they have a by-line.
  3. All reports are written predominantly in the simple past tense form when reporting an event that has already occurred.
  4. Reports are most often written in the third person. We generally avoid using first person narration.
  5. Reports are written in three parts, paragraphs or sections.
  6. Reports are written using the inverted pyramid format.

Given below is a graphical representation of an inverted pyramid:

To understand how a report is written, we could start by working on a question.Given below are infographics for three paragraphs of a school annual day report the question for which would be: Draft a report for the school magazine describing the Annual Day Function of The New Era Public school. You are Ankit Pandey, the school Head Boy. Supply the relevant details for the report.

The Final Report will read as follows:


    To understand subtle difference between the School Magazine Report and the Newspaper   Report, let us start on a new question:You are Sonia Sharma, a Special Correspondent with the newspaper, New Delhi Times. Draft a report for your newspaper describing a train accident that took place at Kalaghat, New Delhi between the Green Star Express and the Orient Zone Express Recently. The infographics given below include notes based on the value points allotted to each paragraph. The final report is to be drafted out of these value points.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Celebrating seventy years of Independence in School - A Photo Essay

This is how we celebrated Independence Day in school, let the pictures tell the story:

Everyone wore Nehru caps!

And ethnic footwear was in!

The spirit of independence could be seen in the eyes of all!

Of course, I was there too!

A candid snap for the birthday boy.

The change-makers were quite active!

We had our own version of the daredevils!

The tattoos were based on the colours of the flag!

Deft brush-strokes created some of the best tattoos ever seen!

United we stand!

A debate over snacks.

After the selfie!

Of course, the kids too had fun!

The toys we once had decades ago!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Sikandra, Akbar's final resting place

A couple of hundred kilometers from Delhi, and just before the town of Agra is Sikandra, a monument that is, probably more important than perhaps the Taj Mahal or even the Red-Fort. Sikandra is not only important because of its historical significance as the final resting place of Akbar The Great, but also because once can see in its architecture and art forms, precursors of the architectural splendour of other Mughal monuments. The minarets or towers of Sikandra have been replicated in The Taj Mahal. The central Cuppola of the Tomb is replicated in later Mughal buildings.

The inscriptions, and the inlay work on sandstone is of the finest quality! The intricate details and use of geometrical patterns on the facade will put into awe even the most modern designers! Notice also how the designers paid attention to perspective and the fact that the figures and patterns look uniform irrespective of the height of the building.

The details in the wall paintings and frescos are so intricate that you would have to look at the whole piece by piece! I had to crop this picture because the details were overwhelming!

Intricately designed screens such as the one pictured above act as one-way screens adding to the privacy of people, especially women from prying eyes.

The actual tomb which is the resting place of Emperor Akbar has art work that is somewhat more subdued and sombre as befits the resting place of  an emperor who was also a highly religious person. People even today visit his tomb and pray for blessings and make wishes which they believe will be fulfilled. While stepping into the actual tomb, everyone has to duck under a low Lintel, thus automatically, obeisance to the departed soul, a once great Emperor!

Sikandra is also known for its lawns, gardens that is  home to pheasants and deer. An ideal resting place for a great man and a Saint for some, Sikandra is like an idyllic garden!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Room Service-A Short Story

Robin King was glad that he had got a placement in one of the well-known hotels in Delhi. Initially at least he knew that he would have to do menial jobs, before getting on in the job. He was a resident of Gurgaon and had managed to get  admission in one of the premier institutions in Hotel Management in Karol Bagh Delhi. In fact he had managed to achieve a very high merit position in the entrance test conducted by the institute. His parents had berated him for taking up Hotel Management as a career option, but then he somehow felt that he had an interest in the same. As it was, Robin had managed to pass his exams with very good marks and so he was given one of the choicest five star hotels in Delhi as the preferred hotel for his internship. What made the proposition attractive to him was the possibility of being absorbed in the hotel as a floor manager. The hotel, a unit of a prestigious chain of hotels across the world was named, The Vincent Hotel of Delhi. He was also glad to join the hotel because his senior by one year  Mukesh was already serving at the hotel. He was however working for the room service.

Robin soon got the hang of the demands of his job, whether it was answering calls in the middle of the night for coffee or alcohol, or for that effect cigarettes, or even emergency pills! It was a twist of fate that Robin was always given the night duty, but then he accepted the night duty because he got better bonuses. He was in any case planning to buy a good vehicle, and in order to do that, he needed to collect funds for the down payment. The tips moreover were generous in the night shift, what with desperate men asking for emergency contraceptives and alcohol to smoothen the time they spent with their women. Some of the demands that the men, and sometimes the women made of him included fresh towels, and, well toys. Robin was, however was a mature man of twenty-two years, and he turned a blind eye towards some of the bizarre demands made by the residents of the hotel. There were, incidentally visitors of all kinds, youngsters who were spending their first nights with their girl-friends men who were finding time with their legally wed wives, and then there were the clandestine linkages between men and women who were cheating on their marriage obligations. However, Robin had been advised to, ‘Mind’ his own business in such circumstances and service the needs of the clientele.

It was not that Robin was a freak or a strange case in such circumstances, he had a girl friend whose name was Sophia, and they shared a wonderful relationship which included grand meals at various hotels and restaurants, for which they saved, and the nights that they shared, that is whenever Robin could wheedle a night off from his employers. Robin was, in all ways street smart, and he always kept a stock of contraceptives in his wallet, for those stolen moments that he looked forward to share with Sophia, his girlfriend. Sophia, incidentally belonged to a family from Goa, who were very broadminded about what their daughter did, as long as she didn’t get pregnant. Sophia as it was, was getting ready for a job in a public sector bank, and she had, as it was a few lucrative offers form some of the well-known banks in Delhi. Robin and his girlfriend Sophia had shared numerous escapades when they had barely missed being caught by their respective families when they decided to spend the night together in some obscure hotel in Gurgaon or Delhi.

One day however things happened in a way that would change his life forever. That day, Robin was on night duty, and he had just completed his round of duty which ended at 5:00 a.m. when Mukesh, who was supposed to take over from him from 5:00 a.m. onwards requested him to pitch in for another half an hour till 5;30 because he had to go home to check on his sick mother. Robin acquiesced, although not before Mukesh told him to be careful about the calls he took.

‘Just be careful about the guest in room number 225.’ He said. ‘She is Mrs. Sonia Kumar, the estranged wife of the industrialist,  Mukesh Rawat.’ He went on. ‘She will ask for a flask of bed tea. Just ensure that she is dressed up, and knock on the door before entering her room!’

‘Of course, I will do exactly that!’ Robin responded.

‘Moreover,’ continued Mukesh, ‘just don’t let her shut the door on you.’

‘OK, Ok, I got your point,’ Robin replied even as he attempted to convince his friend that he would be able to ensure that everything would be alright.

It was past five in the morning when Robin got a call from room number for a flask of tea. The woman at the other end of the phone said, ‘Please ensure that you don’t put in too much sugar into it,’ she said.

‘Sure Ma’am your tea will be there in a few moments!’ Robin replied.
He got the tea in the flask from the Pantry and placed it on a tray along with a couple of tea-cups and then proceeded to the room. On reaching room 225, Robin rang on the bell a couple of times. On getting not response, Robin knocked on the door. On getting no response, he pushed on the door, and was amazed when the door slid open. Seeing that the door was not locked from inside, Robin pushed the door open and stepped indoors. He called out before entering the room, ‘Room service, Ma’am, your bed tea is here.’ He looked around and saw that the it was a suite with a living room and a bedroom beyond. On getting no response from the occupant, Robin edged forward into the apartment. It was with a sense of foreboding that he looked beyond the living room. Looking  into the bedroom, Robin paused as he called out, ‘Ma’am, your tea is here.’ He saw the occupant sitting rather quietly on the bed staring out into space. There was something that was very touching about the woman, a beautiful woman, who was somehow sunken in the depths of despair. He could see all of this in a flash. The room was lit by a couple of table lamps that showed the ruffled bed clothes next to the woman, and the shape of mound on the farthest edge of the bed, her child, perhaps. Somehow, he had to say something and so  he called out in concern, ‘Ma’am, is everything OK?’

Interrupted by his voice, the woman, Mrs Sonia, as he knew her to be stirred out of her reverie and said, ‘Please leave the tea on the centre table and lock the suite door behind you!’ Robin was somehow too mesmerised by the woman’s posture of vulnerability. There was a sadness about her, the way she had sat so still on the edge of the bed. His heart went out to her, he wanted to comfort her, and perhaps tell her not to be so sad, for Mrs Sonia was indeed a very beautiful woman, and he wondered what might have made a husband abandon  such a graceful  woman. She had appeared to be so vulnerable  while sitting on the edge of the bed, lost in her thoughts, forlorn and sad, it was indeed a sight that would tug the heart strings of any well-meaning man.

It was therefore with a heavy heart that he turned to the centre table in the bedroom and placed his tray on it. He turned  go out of the suit, when she called out to him, ‘Please shut the door to the suit.’ Without thinking he did the unthinkable! He had shut himself inside the suite with a guest who was probably undergoing emotional and mental turmoil! Professional ethics dictated that he should not have peeped beyond the living room into the bedroom, nor should he have even shut the main door to the suite!

He had lost his presence of mind, apparently and did according to her bidding. He had barely turned the key to the door when he saw that the lady had left her bedroom and crossed into the Living room. She lay on the couch covered by the sheets she had brought with her from the bedroom. Startled by the new development, Robin turned towards her with surprise. But then the invitation was clear, she wanted him to make love to her. She lay on the couch with no clothes on, and she had on her face that vulnerable look that demanded the attention of any well-meaning man. It was then with a sense of helplessness that Robin began stripping off his clothes, for the situation demanded exactly this. Before going ahead, however, he said to her, ‘Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?’

‘Yes, I need it!’ She replied, even as she snuggled into the sheets she had brought with her.

Somehow, it seemed as if the clothes were reluctant to come off and after what seemed an age, Robin was able to get off his clothes. Before he went to her on the couch.

What happened next happened as if in a state of trance. The woman somehow needed the physical proximity, it was as if she had never been loved by a kind human being. She had asked for it and he gave her what he could. There love making was frenzied and harsh, it was fuelled by desire and sadness. The woman wept and wept throught, but then he didn’t feel guilt or shame at what he was doing.

They ended up exhausted lying in each other’s arms like lovers long lost who had come together. Robin, however knew that he would be soon missed at his workstation, so he stirred out of her embrace and told her that he had to go. Somehow both of them felt surprisingly cleansed. It had been a rather cathartity moment for her, and Robin had somehow fallen into the scheme of things!

‘Thank you!’ She replied with gratitude, even as he stepped into his clothes... and that was it!

Robin wore his clothes that were lying on the floor, and then closed the door quietly behind him as he proceeded to his work station. He had been caught by the turn of events over which he had had no control.

He walked out of the room in a trance, half believing that what had happened had happened in a dream. When he talked about the incident with some of his best friends, they had told him that incidents such as this were part of the occupational hazard that was the result of serving in the hotel industry!

What had taken place that day would change his attitude towards life in a way that he would never have expected in the normal course of time. He would later tell his girlfriend about what had happened that morning. Of course she broke off their relationship then and there, but then Robin had gained a lot in terms of understanding how complex life is. Of Mrs Sonia, well she was able to get the divorce she had wanted from an abusive husband. She went on to get married to a more considerate man who would give her more security than first husband had. Whether she remembered her escapade with Robin, well he couldn’t say for sure. All he knew was that it was part of his profession, to give comfort to those in distress! 

Monday, 1 August 2016

Musings about a new world order

I was wondering after a meeting in school, where colleagues suggested that the theme for the General Studies paper for a senior should be based on terrorism. Their premise was that we have entered an important era in world history that is marked by fragmentation and regionalism, and that terrorism is an important phenomenon that needs to be analysed carefully. One of my colleagues mentioned that she was so disturbed and disheartened by the stories of suffering and death caused by terrorist activities that she had stopped reading newspapers. Another colleague suggested that we might perhaps have already entered the initial stages of the Third World War, a sentiment that finds a strong echo in my heart and many others besides.
The rise of terrorism, all over the world, accompanied by the overthrow of governments, change of regimes, and mass protests as seen at Tahrir Square in Egypt, Taksim Square in Turkey, the recent coup attempt in Turkey, and before it, Brexit, are all indications of mass dissent against Governments and their policies.  The Jasmine revolution swept across the Middle East led to the toppling of  Hosni Mubarak and his regime. The rise of ISIS, has been fuelled by the anger of a disgruntled  youth that has seen unemployment and a perceived  prejudicial treatment of their community by mainstream governments.
The Third World War is going to start because of a group of people who are fed up of the differential treatment they have received from governments that have turned a deaf ear to their grievances. Their grievances are fuelled by a sense of discontent fuelled by lack of employment, lack of representation, and an assumed effrontery suffered by them at the hands of governments that hearten to the voice of a majority community.
The age of the internet, and Information Technology has helped disgruntled elements in the society to come together, bound by a sense of injustice meted to their communities by Governments that have been elected by a majority of people who might not even be aware of the  grievances of the minority.
Dissent is the root cause of revolutions, and revolutions are the by products of dissent. If we are indeed headed towards the Third World War then surely it is because we have by-passed or drowned out the clamour for equal rights of the minority community. When demands are not met, and voices are not heard, it leads to resentment and a sense of injustice. Dissent is probably the greatest unifying factor today and it is something that cannot and should not be ignored by people who make decisions! 
Unfortunately, trends of fragmentation are evident today in the form of a breakaway from popular beliefs and enforced ideals. In many cases, the popular belief might not take into consideration the expectations of a marginalised community. This would lead to a sense of being left out from the decision making process. In many cases, this feeling of being left out of the decision making process, and the feeling of not having a voice might lead to a sense of being ignored as a viable community as a whole!
Factionalism, regionalism and communalism are all driven by a sense of not having a voice that can be heard. Many years back, the world was divided between the eastern bloc countries and the western bloc countries. Today, the breakup of the eastern bloc has resulted in a single bloc that propounds the benefits of a democratic philosophy of governance. Unfortunately, the democratic system of governance which  is based on populistic beliefs that give more importance to the popular trends which does not take into consideration the needs of the minority sections of the society.
The Third World War is going to be fought between the mainstream community and the marginalised community. The Third World War will not favour might, rather it will favour intelligence and wit. Dissent and a sense of injustice will be a  stronger driving force than a sense of fighting for accepted popular beliefs. The Third World War will be a battle of wits between the defenders of populistic beliefs and those who fight for personal and communal convictions.
However, to say that dissent is a new phenomenon would be fairly wrong because History has shown how resentment and dissent have often fuelled revolutions and civil wars causing massive changes in the demography, and re-drawing of Geographic boundaries of nations. One much more recent example of dissent and resentment against the established Government took place in the form of The Great October Revolution that transformed Imperial Russia into a conglomerate of a large number of Geographically linked states and nations. The Bolshevik Revolution was fuelled by the growing disparity between the rich and the common man. The impact of the First World War, the Crimean War, the war with Japan, all took their toll on the resources of the Tsarist regime. But perhaps the greatest factor that lead to Leninist revolution was the mismanagement  of resources, and the government's tardiness in making changes to the constitution. So while the common man was struggling to make both ends meet, the Aristocracy continued to maintain lavish life-style insulated from the harsh reality of the rest of the country. The seeds of dissent were planted much earlier during course of the French Revolution when the common man overthrew his oppressor who was also the Aristocratic Ruler of the country. The oft bandied slogans during the French Revolution were of course based on the concepts of, Liberty, Equality, and Enfranchisement. When all three of these components, or even one of these is missing then it is bound to lead to resentment.
Somehow, what has changed since the times of the French and Russian Revolutions is that the world is not merely divided on the basis of economic standards, rather it is becoming divided on the basis of religion, cast, language, and Geography. When the Democratic system of governance fails to address the grievances of a particular group of people which might not be a majority, it leads to resentment and a rankling and festering hatred in the hearts of the aggrieved members of a particular community. The brutality and violence of terrorism is in fact intentional. When people explode a bomb, they make important people stop what they are doing, they grab their attention! When some people kill a large number of other  people they draw the world's attention towards their demands. When Democracy fails, it leads to chaos and violence. Unfortunately, the violence and brutality caused by terrorists  will only draw the anger and hatred of the rest of the world, not sympathy!
It is high time we overhauled the concept of Democracy so that it becomes a more equitable tool for representation of all communities, the majority and the minority included. The belief that the majority opinion is the best opinion would perhaps be equivalent to accepting the opinion of the crowd, or the mob! We have moved on from Feudalism to Imperialism and from Imperialism to Socialism and Communism. All of these systems of governance served their terms and were discarded for better forms, in this case, Democracy. One wonders, if perhaps Democracy has not outlived its usefulness having reached its sell by date or shelf life! If Democracy has not been able to prevent the world's disintegration into the chaos of regionalism, and factionalism, then it means it has failed as a concept of governance! One frightening thought is that if we don't have a better school of thought, than Democracy, then could it be possible that we have come a full circle, and are moving back to where we started from, a polity based on Feudalism or even Imperialism, or perhaps even some kind of a 'Matrix' like polity?
What has made things more difficult today is that we are not fighting a enemy  from without, rather we are fighting the enemy from within. Fighting an enemy from within makes it difficult to distinguish between enemy and foe. The disintegration of the world into tiny Republics will make things really difficult for our future generations. There are, as it is distinct signs that we are moving away from  globalisation to localisation, and the days when we looked at the whole world as one global village have long passed away into the distant past. The Utopia of the global village that we have known for quite some time has passed away even as we find a new meaning in a dystopia that defines the world as we now it.