Sankranthi Shopping


Published in student edition of Deccan Herald dated 14th January 2019

The ushering in of the “Uttarayana Punyakala” popularly known as Sankranthi, is feted variously across the Indian continent. Yet the concept of the celebration is much the same across the nation. The largely agrarian population is glad that the hard winter days are coming to an end and it is time for them to reap the well deserved harvest of their sweat and toil.

Sankranthi times in our country invariably spell a lot of prayer, fervour and joy not necessarily in that order. The thought of breaking away from the normal routine of life and indulging in a faithful and felicitous celebrations have kept the Indian race on their toes. Preparations for festivals begin days ahead of the red lettered day in order to gear up for the occasion.

Long ago, when supermarkets and malls had still not caught up with large sections Indian population, the barter system was the order of the day. People seemed to personify the essence of Khalil Gibran’s thought process when he said,

“To you the earth yields her fruit and you shall not want if you but know how to fill your hands.

It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied.”

Farmers generally harvest sugarcane, rice, wheat and a couple of pulses besides a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables during this season. In the past they would take stock of their resources and utilize their excesses to get themselves their requisite necessities. Over a period of time bartering gave way to small time trading when people used to sell their goods and buy the things they needed. Usually they indulged in spending their money at wholesale markets which offered them the best bargains.

Then, just like everything else in life the process of shopping metamorphosed from the friendly neighbourhood kirana shops to departmental stores, supermarkets and eventually to massive mall which claim to sell wares for all your needs under one roof.

Though the method of shopping for our needs, comforts and luxuries has come a long way from the days we bartered to the present day credit card culture, the concept of shopping is pretty much the same. There was a time when the ladies of the house would forgo their siestas at least a fortnight before Sankranthi to organise themselves for the big day. They had to shell and roast peanuts, gram and gingelly seeds, slice copra, granulate jaggery and fashion cubes and dolls from sugar syrup and stock them up to be distributed among friends and relatives on the day of the festival.

These days working women in cities find time scarce to indulge in the long drawn process. This certainly does not mean that people do not celebrate the festival in the traditional manner anymore. The milling crowds in the markets and malls during festival season selling the quintessential “ellu bella” in neat packets or little boxes besides variously crafted sugar cubes and dolls is proof enough that tradition is very much alive. If one is willing to shell out a little more money one can actually place orders for customized products which even include neatly chopped sugarcane sticks. Similarly, if one is running short of time or simply does not feel like cooking up an orgy, a horde of restaurants, food courts and smalltime catering units cook and serve the customary Pongal, vada along with the conventional fare.

People shop for the specific needs of the festival besides picking up clothes, furniture, electronic appliances or anything else they fancy during these times as shrewd retailers and dealers cash in on the sentiments of the people by offering discounts, freebies and exchange offers.

This changing trend which has retained the core value of the festivities has been possible because the average Indian likes to be rooted to his culture but does not quite mind the idea of using modern facilities and technology to serve his purpose. Happy Sankranthi!

Accomodating Our elders


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A random study of the civilisations across the globe reveals that mankind as a single unit has certainly recognised the fact that it is inevitable that man grows older and experiences a deterioration of his faculties and general health over a period of time.

In spite of this physical weakening, he grows stronger in spirit and emerges as a wise person which he derives from the various experiences of life.
Perhaps an African proverb which goes, “A library dies when a old man dies” speaks volumes about how the elderly were looked upon in the past.

As each day rolls by we grow older, little realising that old age will be taking toll of us very soon. Yet most young people have a firm belief that they will never age and hence become insensitive to the older people around them.

The ever-growing number of old-age homes in a traditional country like India is an alarming development that needs to be checked as early as possible.
At this point it will be of essence to remember an old fable where a man served his aged father gruel on a cracked plate day after day as he felt that he had no more benefits to reap from the old man.

One day, when the old man left home with disgust and melancholy because of the treatment meted out to him, the young grandson picked up the cracked plate, cleaned it and wrapped it up neatly in a brown paper. When the surprised father asked him to explain his action, the little boy said that he was keeping the plate safely so that he could serve gruel on the plate when his own father became old and infirm.

This answer struck the father like a lightning and he immediately set off to find his own father filled with remorse and guilt.

Even as the world is progressing, old-age homes mushrooming around the world are taking the role of a reliable support system.

Each of us will do well to remember that we must not let the golden chance of showing our gratitude to the elders who shaped our lives slip by. After all did they not spend the best part of their lives caring for us?

Of Epiphany and Catharsis


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/epiphany-and-catharsis-710382.html

I have always believed in the power of destiny. We always meet people for a reason if only for a season. Little did I know that my physiotherapist would initiate a process of enlightenment in yours truly when he became instrumental in arranging a lectu…

Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/epiphany-and-catharsis-710382.html

The Art of Milking


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S.RADHA PRATHI

Survival on earth is becoming a challenge these days because we are being constantly riddled by environmental issues. A little introspection will reveal that we have no one else except ourselves to blame for the dire straits that we have landed ourselves into.

It is interesting to note that the Vishnu Purana documents a story on parallel lines. When our planet was ruled over by emperor Prithu thousands of years ago, there was a severe drought. Lack of water and food killed the flora and fauna without discretion.

Then a group of Rishis called upon the sovereign to find the riches hidden within the bowels of the earth to save the dying. Prithu was livid when he learned that the earth had not been sharing the life-saving resources with her people. He immediately wanted to release a lethal arrow to tear the earth open and release the treasures.

Almost immediately, the earth metamorphosed into a cow and fled the scene. The sovereign chased the bovine till both of them were exhausted. Eventually the chaser and the chased struck a deal. Mother Earth, who had assumed the form of a cow conceded to give the treasures of food, water, precious gems and minerals in a measured manner, if she was milked gently and judiciously by the king.

Prithu agreed and donned the role of the regal milkman and the earth yielded in the capacity of a milch cow. It is said that the earth is also known as Prithvi or the daughter of Prithu post this incident.

The metaphor will reveal that milking is an art which involves patience, knack and the knowledge of when to stop without draining the udders completely so that it can replenish itself over a period of time.

When we reflect on this fable, it is easy to see that the earth faced a drought because of the exploitation of her resources. Prithu, the representative of mankind could not retrieve the resources violently.

If we, the denizens of this earth, imbibe the basic rules of milking, like Prithu did and refrain from stripping our planet of her resources, we will leave posterity its rightful legacy.

TIME AND TIDE WAIT FOR NONE


This story was published in the student edition of Deccan Herald on

18th December 2018

“ I will start studying from New Year”, “ I will clean up my room from the first of January”, “ I will continue with my Guitar classes from 2019”,  “ I  will  stop playing with the smart phone after I check all the new year greetings on Whatsapp”, “ I will not touch chocolates, cakes and chips after the New Year party.” Perhaps one of these or many more such lines are doing the rounds. Are you also making some such promise to yourself? The spirit of festive season can certainly have a very therapeutic and rejuvenating effect on people. Hence it is no wonder everyone is filled with the enthusiasm to make resolutions towards personal betterment. Well, there is nothing wrong with the zeal. After all new beginnings have a way of bringing positive changes and progress.

By the way, do you remember the story of “The Hare and the Tortoise”? Once the two animals were talking to each other and suddenly the hare started making fun of the tortoise for its slow gait. The tortoise laughed with the hare for a while but soon became very angry and upset. Therefore he told the hare that the two of them could enter a race which would decide the winner. The hare laughed at the idea for he was sure that he would win hands down. Nevertheless, he agreed to enter the race because he wanted to snub the tortoise for his overconfidence. On the day of the race, the two creatures set out from the start line. After a minute or two, the hare decided to rest for a while, and catch up later. The pleasant weather made him fall asleep. The tortoise noticed this, but did not stop in his tracks. He plodded on, in his naturally slow manner and reached the finish line a couple of hours later. In the meanwhile, the hare had fallen asleep, when he got up after several hours; he rubbed his eyes and scampered to the post, only to find the tortoise waiting for him at the Finish line. The hare felt very ashamed of his over confidence which made him lose out to someone who was obviously lots slower than him.

Though most of us know this story we fail to realise that we behave like the hare. We might have the right resources, guidance and support but we fail to make use of them to achieve our goals. Instead we waste our precious time on distractions which do us no good. We begin with a lot of eagerness and then it starts fading away. Therefore we are left with a lot of projects that are unfinished, promises that are broken and ideas that are not executed.

If you jog down the memory lane, you will remember that you too were bubbling over with the same kind of energy last December and perhaps earlier Decembers too! You began well, but most of you lost track of your goals like the hare because of several reasons. Some of your resolutions were forgotten or were found to be impractical and then there were some resolutions which bored you to tears and some others which could be done at a later date. If only you had shown some consistency in working on your resolutions like the tortoise, you could have succeeded in accomplishing your plans after all slow and steady wins the race!

Yet your attitude shows that you have neglected your own promises to yourself. If you don’t respect your own words then how can you expect others to do so?

You still have some time to redeem your promises before your start making new ones, make sure that you use it wisely and well for Time and Tide Wait for None!

 

 

 

The World of Automation


article published in the student edition of Deccan Herald on 13th December 2018

There was a time when kids like you were fascinated when they heard the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The part where the hero goes to the cave door screened by the waterfall and mumbles “Open Sesame” was the favourite of most youngsters. Today children like you must have seen glass doors in hospitals, malls, high end showrooms and homes which sense that you want to enter and quietly open up without expecting you to say anything at all!

At present, there are several such instances of man’s fertile imagination that have been translated into reality through science. Movies, science fiction and detective novels have acquired a charm of their own, especially as they showcase a lot of plethora of gadgets that function at the push of a button or the mere waving of the hand.

We must thank science and technology for having helped man to realise his fantasies, for now, we have truly arrived because we live in an era of automation. Automation in homes is the latest fad in the world of gadgets. Why don’t you read the rest of the story and check out how many of the gadgets are you using , have seen or heard about?

Simply put, home automation is anything that gives you remote or automatic control of things in & around the home. The systems that you can control include: Lighting, Appliances, Heating and cooling, Security and monitoring systems, Entertainment (home audio and video), Communications (telephones and intercoms, internet), Lawn sprinklers, Curtain movements, Pool filter pump, Spa heater, Filtration unit, Gate/garage door motor, Shade motor control, Roof sprinklers, Electric strikes, Keyless entry etc.

The concept of home automation is to connect all of these systems and devices to a central controller so that they can be controlled from anywhere and react to one another. For example, as you arrive home, your home-automation system can automatically turn off the sprinklers, open the garage door, unlock the front door and disable the alarm, light the rooms as and when you enter, and turn on the TV. Or if you have a home theatre, it might automatically dim the lights, draw the shades, and direct all calls to voicemail so that you can watch your movie in peace.

This central controller can be accessed and controlled through interfaces like keypad, wired or wireless touch-screens (with/without video), universal remotes, mobile devices such as a cell phone or PDA, any PC, at home, in the office, or on the road.

The central controller has various peripheral devices connected to it so that it can receive and send signals to them for appropriate controls. These peripheral devices can be Lighting Controllers,  Switches, Lighting Dimmers, Wireless security transmitters, Door contactors, PIR sensors, Infrared key fobs, Fire/smoke detectors, Sprinklers, Sirens, audio controllers, speakers, temperature sensors, thermostats, cameras, televisions, CCTV, appliances etc.

In other words if any  premise is fitted and wired well with some or all of these devices they can be animated and programmed to be your slave at your will. And the best part is that technology has made all these magical possibilities come alive because some scientific minds have been working overtime on the subject. While it is all right for you to enjoy the fruits of the hard work of scientists, it will do you a world of good if you are able to add on the treasury of inventions and improvisations. Applying your minds and stretching your imagination will egg you on to experiment and explore further. Perhaps, at some later date you might actually end up enlarging the world of automation.

 

Walk Your Talk


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Five centuries ago, a warrior from the Nayaka clan, a scion of the Kaginele town in Karnataka observed the society around him and did not quite like what he saw. He did not approve of the inequalities created by the caste system in our society. He was Kanakadasa, the devotee of Lord Krishna who made the lord turn towards him. It is said that he was forbidden from entering the temple premises in Udupi as he was born of a lower caste so he sadly made his way to the backyard of the temple and stood against the central section of the back wall where he deemed the lord to be standing. Then he sang soulfully in praise of the lord. Apparently, the Lord was pleased for he turned around in his idol form. Not only that, but the Lord also generated a hole in the wall to enable his favourite devotee to have a look at him from the back of the temple. The people in power and the temple authorities realised the purity of his devotion and have ever since maintained the ‘Kindi’ or the window in the temple. The idol remains that way till date.

Kanakadasa was a unique teacher who did not run a school nor prescribe books to be read because he understood that many people around him were illiterates or were very busy with their daily business. Therefore, he chose to compose simple lyrics bearing social and spiritual messages in the local language Kannada and sing it tunefully to attract the attention of the people around him. The homilies presented in the vernacular tongue helped people to reflect and ruminate on the vagaries of life. The lyrics enabled people to evaluate themselves morally and socially. They were able to see the connection between Indian mythology and its relevance to daily life.

The warrior-turned-saint poet walked his talk both literally and metaphorically. He put his heart and soul into what he thought was universally appropriate. The fact that we look up to him through his verses to resolve our problems in this digital age speaks in volumes about the multidimensional social reformer who made a difference to the world, just by walking his talk!