Monday, May 31, 2010

History through Textbooks

The holiday homework for my elder son included learning two poems- one in English and another in Hindi. I searched the web and found him some poems to choose from. And he said he found the Hindi poem a bit too difficult. It was the weekend before the school reopening. The kids and I had gone to my parents place for the weekend. With no net connection, I had no choice but search the bookshelves. Being an old house, there were many books to look through. And I came upon this book on geography published in 1916 and used by my grandfather in Form II.

Hardbound, it was published Longman. The pages were smooth. The book had changed many hands. Grandpa’s younger sisters had read it and so had my dad’s elder brother. My curiosity of how they wrote about regions and people then made me read it here and there. It was a simpler world then on the map. Large unified regions were marked as British Empire, Chinese Empire, Japanese Empire, Persia and Africa. Europe looked different, Middle east and Africa were totally unrecognizable. India looked different with Madras presidency, Bombay Presidency, Calcutta Presidency, Gwalior, Travancore Cochin etc. So much had happened in the last 100 years.

Somewhere between the pages, it was written that the Zulus of south Africa were war like earlier and now( around 1911 when the book was edited) had become law abiding peaceful people( Does that mean some bad leadership allowed the tribe to lose its identity to British occupation?). And that the British had difficulty to control slave trade( human trafficking) done by Arabs off the coast of Africa(Can you believe that?). Another important factor while describing a country was the fact whether it had trains. Maybe trains were the symbol then that modern age had arrived in that country.

The written word, a textbook can so mould a person’s thinking. No wonder governments try to frame minds through these. What are the text books of future going to look like? How will be the world after another 100 years?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A risky job

Come vacations and one team is working overtime – the thieves in the neighbourhood. Their work has to be meticulously planned taking in so many factors – when the wife and kids of a house go visiting relatives, when the guy hangs out late celebrating, when the old couple are leaving for pilgrimage, which guests have to go to church on wedding eve etc etc. But as it is, sometimes calculations don’t work and sometimes its too easy to be called a risky job. Here are few real instances. Read them to have a ringside view of things.

  1. Broad Daylight – Mr. Warrier is seated in living room with the door wide open. Thief walks in and walks out with brand new music system. Stammering Warrier tries to shout but could manage only de, de, wh, wha, hey, hey….
  2. In dead of night, the women of the house hear a loud thud in kitchen. Cautiously, they venture to check out. They switch the lights on. A guy is lying face down. He is dead.
  3. The owner of the house arrives in the wee hours of morning, called to duty early on. He finds two guys who have packed almost anything valuable and are sleeping like babies beside the loot. As they get socked, one thief manages, “ Par, sahib. Aap to raat waali gaadi se aane wale the”( But sir, you were to come by the night train)
  4. A proud father of five grown up sons was always laughing at the stories of local burgularies and said,” None would dare to burgle my house”. And his house was burgled soon- seems that each lazy son thought it was one of family making noise and didn’t care to check out.
  5. The petty thief had jumped into the courtyard to pick some things lying around and was stunned by the scene of the young girl taking an open air bath in the moonlit yard. She sees him after a while and pours water on him, but the poor guy is totally lost and recovers only after she disappears from scene.
  6. The thief gets into house being constructed( in finishing stages). While he is in, the owner comes to show the work progress to friends. He tries getting out through the exhaust hole in kitchen and gets stuck.
  7. A new sofa set was taken off by pair of enterprising thieves from a housing complex. They signed at the entrance and told the security that the sofa set had to be changed as wrong colour was delivered.
  8. A solitary lean old fellow manages to scare of a couple of thieves as he charges towards them- the dhoti fast leaving him.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The feeling of Oneness

The feeling of being one with the Universe, being part of whole Nature, knowing your little stature is perhaps best brought about by the magnificence of Nature as in High mountains, gurgling rivers, the vast seas, the expanses of desert. It just helps us to understand that we are a mere drop in the ocean. Here are few snaps which helped to puncture that bloated ego, that useless sense of 'this is mine' and so on.

On way to Badrinath
Waiting for your turn, Kanyakumari
Wagamon, Kerala