Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Few Favorite Quotes

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and
don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless
immensity of the sea. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to
arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. — T.S. Eliot

A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition.
-Jose Bergamin, author (1895-1983)

If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, learning,
etc., beginning from his youth and so go on to old age, what a bundle of
inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last! -Jonathan Swift,
satirist (1667-1745)

Words are the small change of thought. -Jules Renard, writer (1864-1910)

Monday, February 18, 2008

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew -
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
— John Gillespie Magee, Jr,_Jr.

Brain Boosters !

Found this one interesting:
Forget crosswords. If you really want to boost your brain power, eat dark chocolate, consume cold meat and have plenty of sex, if possible every day. A team of international researchers has carried out a study and found that while dark chocolate and plenty of cold meat for breakfast boost grey matter, sex keeps the brain fit in later life, the Daily Mail reported.
According to the study, those wishing to improve their mental ability should also avoid smoking cannabis, watching soap operas and hanging out with those who moan.
Instead, cuddling a baby, cheating at homework, reading out loud and doing a business degree can boost their mind power. The theories of the researchers are contained in the book Teach Yourself: Training Your Brain.
"What we eat and drink, how we learn at school and what type of moods we have are all crucial. People can make lifestyle choices that will constantly increase our cognitive capacity throughout our adult lives. Mix with people who make you laugh, have a good sense of humour or who share the same interests as you, and avoid people who whinge, whine and complain, as people who are negative will make you depressed," the book's author and one of the researchers, Terry Horne, was quoted as saying.
The book also contains mental exercises and radical thinking on how diet, the environment, stress and other aspects of modern life affect our mental capacity.
The researchers have claimed that sex has a very positive impact, listing seven chemical reactions the brain undergoes during intercourse which actually helps in improving its functioning ability.
The books says that sex raises levels of oxytocin or the 'trust' hormone which increases a person's readiness to think of novel or risky solutions to a problem.
Elements in dark chocolate also prove to be beneficial. Magnesium and antioxidant chemicals increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and reduce the chances of brain damage through a stroke.
Ditching a low-fat diet is also recommended to boost performance.
The book suggests a breakfast of eggs, fish or cold meat, a lunch of protein-based foods such as oily fish and dark green vegetables, and carbohydrates for dinner -- but not caffeine, alcohol or red meat. Children should not do homework on their own -- minds function better when working with parents or classmates, according to the researchers.
The book also says that speaking in front of a class helps pupils because of the repetition involved. And adults can boost memory by counting aloud to 99 in threes as fast as they can.
The researchers have recommended that readers should seek a concept known as BLISS -- Body-based pleasure, Laughter, Involvement, Satisfaction and Sex -- which all enable the mind to perform well.

Mumbai Dreams

In the backdrop of Mr. Raj Thackeray's odious offensive against north Indians, this article in The Indian Express by Farah Baria is heartwarming.
Our housemaid Renu is what Raj Thackeray would call an ‘outsider’. I remember her first day on the job, wearing her best red salwar khameez with its frayed gold trimmings, and a smile worth a million bucks. Two scrawny arms reached out to take the blue bundle I had brought home from the hospital, with a confidence that I would take many months to muster.
Barely nineteen, Renu bathed and dressed my newborn with the practised ease of a professional nurse. Her mother, she explained, was the village midwife, and by the age of nine, Renu was Chief Assistant. When they were not delivering babies, the two would work at the local quarry, loading stones onto trucks in the heat and dust. So this 24/7 job as my infant daughter’s nanny was doubtless the cushiest on our maid’s CV.Two months later, she slipped into a pair of blue jeans to fit her new cosmopolitan status. And by four months she had turned out the perfect mushroom quiche — after I casually translated the recipe — and offered to replace our absconding cook, to supplement her salary. It was time to introduce Renu to Mumbai.We drove to Marine Drive and Chowpatty, to the Gateway of India, and the concrete jungle of Nariman Point. “So what do you think of Bombay, Renu?” I asked, rather patronisingly. My maid wrinkled her nose. “Dirty,” she said. “The air here is not good.”But Renu throve on it, this muggy Mumbai oxygen that ignited the fire in her belly. Every week, she would squeeze into a jam packed BEST bus to the Mahalaxmi Temple, and pay her respects to Mumbai’s divine benefactress. And at the end every month, the Devi’s ‘grace’ was meticulously assigned to a growing fixed deposit.Soon the inevitable happened. Renu fell in love with another ‘outsider’, the building sweeper who swept our nanny off her feet with talk of being a businessman. They got married to take a shot at living happily ever after in that ultimate Mumbai fantasy: a 150 sq ft slum house at Rs 1500 per month.Still, it was Double Income No Kids. (He got a job as an office boy with a real estate broker, selling apartments at Rs 35,000 a square foot; she worked in them, making gourmet dishes for memsahibs like me, who can’t boil an egg to save their lives.)Then last year, Renu rashly emptied her entire bank balance —squirreled over ten tireless years — borrowed enough to keep herself permanently noosed to the grindstone, and bought her decade-old dream: a 350 sq ft flat in a remote Mumbai suburb. It has a separate hall and bedroom, a private bath (oh luxury!), and real cabinets in the kitchen. Best of all, the building watchman calls her ‘madam’.Renu has no idea how she is going to repay her loan, honour her monthly outgoings, foot the power bill, or shell out the water tax. But all that is irrelevant, mere tedious detail. Because, you see, for this daughter of a widowed wage labourer, only the dream matters; the dream of being a Mumbaikar. Yet, somewhere in a dusty village hundreds of miles away is a hut she still calls home

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kevin Rudd's Apology

  • Australian PM Kevin Rudd's apology to Australian aborigines is a laudable act. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised in parliament to all Aborigines for laws and policies that "inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss". He especially singled out the "Stolen Generations" of thousands of children forcibly removed from their families. Stolen Generations were young Aboriginal children who were taken from their parents in a policy of assimilation which lasted from the 19th Century to the late 1960s. How nice will it be for our Indian Governement to apologize for Babri Mosque vandalism ! What a nice gesture will it be if Congress apologizes to Sikhs for anti-Sikhs riots in 1984 and in the same way BJP says sorry for Gujarat riots. Yes an apology may not wipe away the tears but definitely it will go a long way in dousing the fires of vengeance and strengthen the hands of peace.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Shakti Gawain

For more information on Shakti Gawain, please visit her website


Evil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it. -Shakti Gawain, teacher and author (b. 1948)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Robert B Parker Again

I picked up Widow's Walk by Robert B Parker from the library. I will post a review once I finish it. It is proving to be a racy read.

Quote of the Week

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Poem of the Month

Just thought of picking a poem I have admired and posting it. Pied Beauty is by Gerald Manley Hopkins.

Glory be to God for dappled things
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.