Exploring the Road Less Travelled


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The lakhs of students who have cleared their tenth, twelfth grade and pre university courses from various state boards, ICSE and CBSE streams are presently in the threshold of their future. Some of them do have clear cut ideas as to how to charter their future course of action. Then there are others who   find themselves led by their noses to choose the course they have to pursue. Actually the situation reflects the mental landscape of the normal Indian student, no matter to which class of society, religion or financial bracket he may belong to. Indians as a race feel very secure when they try “the road well travelled” as there is little or no risk involved; moreover they also attach a lot of importance to the assured financial security that certain jobs offer.

Keener observation of this situation reveals that issues have not undergone even an iota of change over a couple of centuries. The value of each course has been determined on the basis of what the possible returns could be in terms of monetary benefit and social status. In an earlier era children were expected to follow the learning and profession adopted by the family. When education became institutionalized by the British most good students were goaded to become professional lawyers as it spelled a lucrative turnover. When we became independent, science courses in professional arenas became the crowning glory of an excellent student. Though the emphasis has been on different courses over the decades the basic idea behind selecting the course has invariably been the same.

The income factor happens to be only one side of the coin. The educational caliber of a person is determined by the stream of study the student opts for. Personal interest and core competency for studying the subject appear to be subject of little or no interest to the general public. What the candidate ends up doing in life is of no consequence as long as he opts for a course that steps up his standing in society.

It is an unwritten and unquestioned decree for students scoring high marks to be absorbed in the main stream or the science stream by the colleges impervious of the fact whether the student has the aptitude for the subject. The cream of the toppers opts or professional courses like medical or engineering leaving the lesser their brethren to take up lesser under graduate courses in science, commerce and arts precisely in that order. This practice has almost become a tradition in our educational system much to the chagrin of the serious students who have opted a particular course out of interest.

Though many youngsters are able to effectively put their foot down and surmount the obstacles that come in the way of choosing their favorite course not everyone succeeds. This is the reason we find a lot of educated people to be thorough misfits in their vocation. Many post graduates in subjects like Physics or Chemistry have settled down as bank managers or have found themselves plush jobs in the corporate sector as administrative staff because the remuneration is high. There are several doctors who have cleared their course in more than a few attempts working as medical transcriptionists because the package is incomparable.

When one tries to understand the underlying psyche of the Indian masses, the apparent reverence towards education and its innumerable virtues appears to be a shameful sham.

 

Education has come a long way from its original objective – an abstract wealth which will stand in good stead to its possessor through the thick and thin of his life. Perhaps that is the reason why we find that by and large most people were literate in the past and had a fairly good idea of the rudiments of language and mathematics. Scholars wrote well researched treatises on a plethora of subjects at great length. Somewhere along the line Indians shied from taking “the road less travelled by” causing a widespread stagnation in the field of education. It is certain that the future of variegated education lies in the hands of the present batch of tenth standard students who are standing at the crossroads of their lives with latent dreams, thoughts and ideas…..

 

Verify for Veracity


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Misunderstandings can cause rifts in relationships. These days such cases are on a prolific rise because the differences and the distance between the virtual world and the real world is closing in. People are losing track of the difference between the two, mistaking one for the other. While the benefits of such development are unarguable so are the drawbacks.

An ancient saying goes thus, “One must not believe anything that hears about or sees perchance. On the other hand one should verify the matter for truth even if the incident happens right in front of our eyes.” Truer words could not have been spoken.

It is during these times one will do well to ruminate on the story of the descent of the divine river Ganga from the heavens. King Sagara performed an Ashwamedha Yajna. Towards the end of the ritual, the ceremonial white horse was lost. Indra, the lord of the heavens wanted to abort king Sagara’s endeavour. Hence he stole the horse and led it to the nether world and tied it near the hermitage of sage Kapila who was deeply engrossed in penance. Since the Yajna could not be concluded without the animal, Sagara sent his 60,000 sons in search of the horse. They scourged the earth and then made their way into the nether world. There they found the sacred horse grazing casually. Alongside they sighted sage Kapila in profound penance.

The princes deemed the sage to be the horse thief for the lack of the knowledge of the truth. They thought it fit to disturb the sage and berate him soundly for his misdeed. The sage, who was completely unaware of what had transpired, was very angry with the arrogant princes who dared to accuse him wrongly and belittle him unnecessarily. He used the power of his penance and reduced them to ashes within moments.

It is obvious that both the parties involved in this unfortunate incident acted on the basis of what they considered to be true and not on the basis of what was really true. They allowed their ego and anger to rule over them. If they had used a little patience and some discretion, they could have completely avoided the debacle.

Here’s Why You Should Go The PVC Way


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THE POWER OF PVC

By S.RADHA PRATHI

Abraham Lincoln once said that the best way to destroy enemies is to make a concerted effort to befriend them and then there will be no enemies left.  When we look around the world the one common enemy of all mankind happens to be plastics. It has been declared as the most destructive villain of the twenty first century. We have been told in all kinds of manners to shun it like plague. So we should. On the other hand if we give the material a fair chance and use it properly then it is quite possible that we can subjugate the villain and use his pluses to serve our purpose.

The concrete jungles are thriving skywards. The imminent need to use light, strong and sustainable materials is becoming increasingly valid.   Nowadays plastic doors are flooding the building marts. To begin with, we Indians have kindly considered the use of these doors as best solutions for bathrooms, toilets, balconies, terraces, door partitions, half door’s for children’s rooms especially in apartment complexes. Novelties like folded or sliding doors have become more feasible because of the enviable nature of the material to mold into any shape and size without ado. Industrial properties are also increasingly considering these plastic doors as a cost effective and low maintenance option.

So Poly Vinyl Chloride aka PVC is the latest buzzword in the world of builders, architects and environmentalists alike.

So now let us take a look at how this labeled baddie can be made out into a hero of sorts and put into use, so that he does not prove to be an impediment to our beloved planet.

Water Proof

The material is longer lasting than conventional wooden or metal doors because it is water proof. Hence it is non corrosive and has very low chances of gathering moss. Since the surface is non porous, it cannot absorb moisture, leading to expansion and contraction of volume during damp and dry weather conditions, even if they are exposed to the elements of nature.

Termite Proof

How many times have we not seen old doors made of lofty wood like sandal, teak oak or rose wood housing termites an other insects as they age. This is because these natural materials have a tendency to reveal crevices which many have been covered during the carpentry. Besides the layers of wood give way to new crevices while weathering and not much can be done about it with the exception of monitoring the door with pesticides from time to time. PVC doors will never give room for such anxieties given its synthetic and non porous nature.

Light Weight

Unlike traditional doors that flaunt their strength in proportion to their weight, PVC doors are opposite by nature. They are strong but they are not heavy. In fact they are about one tenth the weights of regular doors. Their lightness has proved to be a boon in disguise in high rise buildings which have to be super strong without being weighed down by their own mass.

Hassle free Installation

Installation of doors is no mean activity. It takes a skilled carpenter to fix a door that fits perfectly into its frame. As for PVC doors, any novice can do it hands down provided he has all the tools and screws. Even  if you are planning to install new PVC doors on old wooden or metal frames, it is possible to get a door custom made and fit it into the slot without too much trouble.

Scratch Resistant

PVC doors are highly scratch resistant. Since they are not and need not be painted there is no question of them succumbing to abrasions and peeling. Homes with pets and little kids need not worry about pawed doorways when they go with this option. One can happily put up posters, stickers and pin ups on this door without causing any damage.

Acoustics and Temperature

If PVC doors seem flimsy and a tad too loud for your tastes and concerns, it will help you to know that the doors have enough thickness to retain the acoustics and temperature of the premises and control the level of external sounds and air that can seep in like any regular door. As usual, thicker the gauge of the door, more the resistance of sound and heat.

Chemical Resistant

Manufacturers and dealers are often asked whether the doors can take the constant onslaughts of chemicals that are an integral part of the soaps, detergents and sometimes acids that are components of the cleaning materials especially in bathrooms and toilets. The answer happens to be in the positive. In fact  if the cleansers  smudge the door, they can be washed off as well.

Maintenance Free

Once you fit  a PVC door, you can happily forget about it . They don’t,  respond to weather, they don’t creak, they don’t need to be polished or painted from time to time and a little soap and water can have them sparkling clean without much effort. In fact public toilets that have already started using PVC doors can be looked upon as silent advertisements to doubtful future users amongst you.

Aesthetics

Those of you who do not want the door to stick out like a sore thumb, please remember that there are a plethora of colours and designs that are available in the market. As far as India is concerned people go in for wood shades that can pass off for the original. Then there are gaily coloured ones and even printed ones if you care for them. If you want any specific design of your choice, manufacturers are very happy to cater to your needs albeit for a higher price.

Low Cost Options

Apart from being eco friendly, these doors are also considerably cheaper than their usual counterparts. Since they serve the same purpose, the cost of building can come down by nearly twenty per cent. Besides, when your property is being taxed for its assets, the tax on wood will also come down.

 

 

 

Unlearn and Relearn


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Great minds across space and sands of time have always agreed that the cornerstone of society revolves around how it responds to a situation. This, in turn, depends on the domestic, social, economic and educational backgrounds of its people.

An incident in the life of Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, throws the spotlight on this issue effectively. Once, Valmiki was returning after completing his ablutions on the banks of river Tamasa. There he saw a hunter poised with his bow and arrow, ready to bring down a pair of cranes perched on a tree. Almost immediately, one of the birds was shot dead and its companion wailed inconsolably.

Valmiki was disturbed and inadvertently cursed the hunter for perpetrating a heinous crime. That, the expletive of Valmiki, the expression of his “Shoka” which metamorphosed into a “Shloka” is another story.

What needs to be examined here is the fact that as far as the hunter was concerned, he hunted the bird down probably as a part of his routine. Perhaps, he looked upon the cranes as his meat.

Valmiki, who had a violent past as a dacoit, must have behaved like the hunter very many times in the past. Yet, his attitude towards his way of life changed when he realised the futility of robbing others to cater to the needs of his family. Possibly, this enlightenment helped him to see the incident in a new light.

His reaction towards the hunter’s act precipitated as a metric verse, one of the high points of a culturally evolved society.

The contrast in the two reactions to the same incident also serves as a divider in the cultural quotient of the two men.

This incident also serves as an example to people who want to change for the better as sensible and sensitive human beings.

If we tarry a moment and retrospect, it will not be difficult for us to realise that we can weave woofs and warps of changes in the world at large when each of us ready ourselves to unlearn and relearn for the betterment of self and society.

Goodness of Neem Flowers


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Neem flower pachchadiNeem flower pachchadi

The neem flower is a tiny ingredient with stupendous curative powers. From protecting your gut, relieving painful migraines to keeping skin ailments at bay, these flowers are replete with blood-purifying properties.

The neem tree ideally flowers during spring. The best way to harvest these flowers is by collecting them on a clean cloth or a mat from under the flowering tree. You can then rinse the flowers in a large sieve, sundry and store them in a dry air-tight container. Radha Prathi suggests a few recipes using this bitter condiment.

Neem Flower Rasam

Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flowers; 1 tbsp of cumin seeds; 1 tbsp of tur dal; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 red chillies; 1 tbsp of tamarind extract; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 1 tsp of ghee; a sprig of curry leaves and salt to taste.

Method: Grind the cumin seeds, pepper, chillies, tur dal and curry leaves to a fine powder. Add tamarind extract, the powder, and salt to a litre of water and allow it to boil to half its quantity on a low flame. Add another half a litre of water and bring the contents to a boil. For the tempering, add ghee to a pan and toss in the mustard seeds before turning off the heat. Then add neem flowers to the pan and sauté them lightly. Add the tempering to the rasam along with some curry leaves. Serve the rasam hot as it is or with some hot rice and ghee.

Neem Flower Rice

Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of pepper powder; 1 tbsp of ghee; 1 tbsp of lemon juice and salt to taste.

Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the asafoetida and the neem flowers before turning off the heat. Add pepper powder, lemon juice, and salt and allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes. Add the mixture to a tablespoon of freshly cooked rice. Serve immediately.

Neem Flower Podi

Ingredients: A small cup of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of turmeric powder; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 sprigs of curry leaves; a tbsp of ghee and salt to taste.

Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the turmeric powder, asafoetida, peppercorns and curry leaves and turn off the heat. Add the neem flowers to the pan and sauté them. Grind all the roasted ingredients together with salt. Store the mixture in an airtight container. You can mix the powder with rice for a healthy meal.

Neem Flower Pachchadi

Ingredients: Two tbsps of neem flower; 2 tbsps of jaggery; 2 red chillies; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 2 tbsps of tamarind juice; a pinch of asafoetida; 1 tbsp of oil and ½ tsp of salt.

Method: Grind the chillies, jaggery, salt, together and mix it with the tamarind paste. Heat a pan, add oil, toss in the mustard seeds and asafoetida and turn off the heat. Then add the neem flowers and saute them well. Add the previously prepared spice mixture. Stir well and the pachchadi is ready to be served.

Proof of My existence


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We, in the subcontinent, have been told that possessing an Aadhaar card will be an antidote for all regional, national and international identification purposes for about half a decade now.

The multiple uses of this card would prove to be a panacea and offset the need to have and keep track of half a dozen similar cards. It is considered to be foolproof and of world-class,  because it uses biometrics and the latest technology.

As usual, we the Indians, have mixed feelings towards it. The believers, the non-believers, and the in-betweens, who debate vehemently on the subject.

The first group queued up almost immediately at the assigned booths and went through the procedure through rain and shine.

They ranged from babies in arms to senior citizens. Loads of documents were verified and the denizens filled up e-forms. They were asked to wait up to three months to receive the magic wand. The believers encouraged the in-betweens to follow suit.

The ones who thought that it would be better to be uniquely identified, gave it a shot. They expected the serpentine queues in front of Aadhaar booths to have depleted with time. But they did not take our billion-plus population into consideration.

Nevertheless, they stood with the hope that their time and effort would eventually reward them.

Months flit past. The coveted card made its way to the doorsteps of the early birds. It pleased some. Others found that one or all of their details were misrepresented.

Meanwhile, a newspaper report mentioned that somebody in the then Andhra Pradesh received an Aadhaar card in the name of Sonia Gandhi. Pranksters and people with selfish motives had generated the coveted card for the dead.

The arrival of more such news reports made the non-believers gloat. The in-betweens who had by this time decided not to believe, got into the “I told you so!” mode.

Years have passed since then. The dilemma of letting the card be or not, continues. It has not been written off entirely. If technology could be done away with, then we could adapt the philosophy of Rene Descartes. Then, we could circumvent a lot of paper work and save the great Himalayan forests. Then Cogito Ergo Sum, (I think, therefore I am) could ideally become the new mantra and the proof of our existence.

Home is Where the Heart is


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One of the most common aims of people is to build a home for themselves. Though there is nothing wrong in wanting to have one’s own nest, it is necessary to realise the temporary nature of this need. Then, you will not feel like a failure if for some reason you end up not having your own home.

The Vamana Purana proposes a solution to this human need when it documents a very domestic conversation between the divine couple Shiva and Parvathi. Once, the goddess felt like picking on her husband. She declared that she felt inadequate whenever she was referred to as the lady of his house. When Shiva tried to laugh off the comment, his better half expressed her desire to discuss the matter seriously. She pointed out that she had been running her household in the wilderness and snowcapped mountains ever since she threw her lot with him. They had never had a roof above their heads for as long as they had been married, let alone a home.

Shiva wore an expression of helplessness and said that he did not have enough resources to construct a house for them. Nevertheless, he added that he had always ensured that his wife would not be exposed to the elements come what may. After all, during summers they would enjoy the cool shade when they camped under the massive green trees and they would live above the rain clouds to avoid getting wet during the rainy seasons. The caves in the hearts of the mountains would take care of their winter needs. Parvathi could not but agree with her lord. After all, she had enjoyed living in the open without being restricted by borders or walls.

The whole world seemed to be her home when the vast expanse of the earth formed the flooring of her home and the immeasurable star-spangled skies her ceiling. Besides the constant company of Shiva whom she loved with all her heart made the universe the best ever home for her.

They say home is where the heart is. If we learn to love those around us and our environment, we cannot have a better home.