Once Upon A Time


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-in-the-middle/once-upon-a-time-764291.html

We are often told to keep the child in us alive. I have tried. It does make life lighter. We are also told reading habit can enrich our minds.  I have spent the best part of my formative years curled up with books of all genres. It has lent its wings to my imagination. I can vouch for that. However, these boons of life have a flipside too!

There are certain things which seemed so perfect once upon a time. I would have happily given a limb or two to realise those dreams. Yet when those very fantasies gain physicality today, they render themselves cumbersome.

For instance, the snow! The whiteness of it and its freezing touch which I read so often about in books fascinated me no end. I longed to live in an igloo, under steely grey skies, wearing parkas and making my own fishing hole when I needed amusement.

My fascination for white Christmases, snowstorms and hail seemed to unfold ceaselessly till I actually experienced snow. The cold, wet feeling which not only dampened my clothes and bones besides  my spirits led me to examine my weird wish which was expressed explicitly many times over when I was living in the truly salubrious weather of Namma Bengaluru all those decades ago.

As a child, I would invariably contract a crick in my neck craning at the occasional aeroplane flying in the skies. I would yearn to fly high among the clouds and help myself to a fistful of the toffees that were supposed to be offered by the airhostesses. Today, when I wait indefinitely at airports and get cramped in aircrafts that do not offer anything to soothe the sweet tooth I crave for the magic carpet!

The endless picnics, delightful tuck boxes and midnight feasts described by Enid Blyton in her various series of books left me drooling. A comic book where Donald duck and his three nephews lazed around on sun beds sipping lemonade from a lake which was filled to the brim with the drink was my ultimate food fantasy. I dreamt relentlessly about having orgies of junk food around the designer lake! I knew little about calorie intake, its effects on health and fitness.

One of the large castles, palaces, ranches, country houses, cottages and bungalows which peopled the protagonists of many stories would metamorphose into my dream home for a while till I took fancy to a new one. Those were the days when I had no inkling about real estate market, cost of interior decoration or the multidimensional aspects of housekeeping.

At the end of every fairytale in which began with once upon a time and end with lived happily ever after; I would wonder why all the stories ended the same way. Adult life changed all that and more. When life unfolded its vagaries which were always not pleasant, I long to be a child again and seek solace in the hope of a happy ending!

 

 

The Metaphysics of John Donne


John Donne

I have given the link to my talk please do listen in as and when you can!

http://www.iiwcindia.org/lecture/MetaphysicsOfPoetJohnDonne-24-7-2019.mp3?fbclid=IwAR21bFf7TGdWvPC-JYHZPpE4SjmCbNFLpGsRuDmTlgexIlRFyFIXv3y2ZFU

Musings on a Maidless Morning


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-middle/musings-maidless-morning-721538.html

Every time our maid takes off without compunction or notice for valid and invalid reasons, I promise myself to buy myself an Alladin’s lamp. The genie would solve all my problems. However that has remained in the domains of wishful thinking till date. I have often wondered if the brainy Jeeves could materialize and shimmer in to do my chores with the same élan with which he helps his young master to sail out of troubles. Yet the mere memory of his subtly sly ways to achieve his agenda at any cost makes me think twice about my choice.

I remember what Letitia  Baldridge once said, “ When in doubt look what everyone else is doing.” Since I know that practically everyone in my radar is bearing crosses of different densities on maid miseries, I practically have nowhere to look.  So, I decided to travel down the aisles of history and literature and tried to figure out what has gone wrong collectively with our generation of employers of domestic help? Why is it that we are not able to awaken a spirit of loyalty amongst our helpers like our ancestors did?

We certainly do not expect the likes of the nursemaid like Panna Dhai who quietly replaced her own bundle of joy in the place of the baby prince in waiting of Mewar only to be killed mercilessly. Nor do we expect a reliable slave like Jamal ud din Yaqut who stood by Razia Sultana through thick and thin.  I am sure that none of us expect the cruel alacrity displayed by Malik Kafur in the movie Padmavat when he killed two royals in response to a question that was mouthed in half jest by his brand new master.

Following feudal system or enslaving individuals or practising bonded labour is completely unthinkable, for the law of the land forbids it. Movies, soap operas and novels which showcase “old faithfuls” do not seem to have inspired the blue collared lot, nor has all the entertainment been  able to educate employers on the secret of retaining employees successfully. Common sense quotients like regular increments, generous gifts, timely loans and advance payments do not seem to change their ideas of accountability.

House helps have become a tribe who can be loved or hated but can never be ignored. It will certainly do us a world of good when we accept that they are also people like us and they do need to take off. Never mind if they disappear way too often. So the long and short of it is to just figure out a way to function well in their absence. Then, watch out for Zen like calmness that will ensconce your person once you get into the Swalpa Adjust Madkoli mode!

 

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 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.

 

Talk and Workshop Topics


Keynotes

T hough this information has already been published in the keynotes section, I am uploading this again in the blog section following quite a few enquiries.

The following topics can be elucidated and discussed at various levels for specific age groups, genders, professions and purposes as per requirement.   Examples from mythology, history and literature will be used to put across the idea effectively. Strategies, solutions and options to deal with problems will be the mainstay of each talk. Games, role play and activities will be included when conducting the sessions as workshops.

note: I am game to exploreother ideas and topics if given enough time.

WOMEN

 

  1. WOMEN IN MAHABHARATA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al. The talk covers a few or all the women in the epic and will highlight their strength of character and its relevance in today’s world. The talk can be exhaustive and spread over two or three sessions.
  2. WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE DESTINY OF HASTINAPURA: Satyavathi, kunti and Draupadi
  3. WOMEN IN RAMAYANA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  4. WOMEN IN KALIDASA: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  5. KRISHNA: Champion of women dignity, security and empowerment.
  6. VALMIKI: Champion of women dignity, security and empowerment.
  7. MEERA AND ANDAL Unrequited love., exposition of Andal’s Vaaranam Aaayiram, and Meera Bhajans Can be treated as individuals or comparative study
  8. ROMANCE IN INDIAN MYTHOLOGY: Brave enterprising women who were ready to claim high stakes.
  9. WOMEN IN UPANISHADS: About women who made a statement domestically, socially, politically et al
  10. PANCHA MAHA KANYA: Modern ills faced by women like honour killing, rape, molestation, HIV aids leading to questioning the character of a women in contrast to Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari
  11. MOTHERS AT HEART: Yeshoda, Radha, Kunti who nurtured children who were not their own biologically
  12. GANGA: Divinity, purity, motherhood, folk belief, epic belief, pollution et al.
  13. SINGLE MOTHERS: The challenges from time immemorial. Sita, Kunti, Jaabali, Jijabai
  14. ALANKARA AND SHRINGARA: Make up, jewelry and cosmetics derived from indigenous herbal Indian sources for the enhancement of facial, physical and mental beauty.
  15. NAVARATHRI: Women Empowerment Ichchca Shakthi, Jnana Shakthi ,Kriya Shakthi
  16. VENI SAMHARAM OF BHATTA NARAYANA: An analysis of self respect, love and revenge.
  17. BHISHMA: The man who wronged women as he was trapped in the web of his own principles.
  18. SUYODHANA OR DURYODHANA: Dual personality who knew what was right but preferred to do wrong.
  19. KARNA: The fallen hero who was admired and dreaded by women.

 

MANAGEMENT 

  1. THANK YOU AND SORRY: These words are the most misunderstood and misused in the name of etiquette. A re-look at these words for building bridges amongst people and our souls.
  2. PRAISEWORTHY PERSONALITY: The Purpose, Path, and Pursuit of the Philosophy of life taking into other P factors.
  3. DEMYSTIFYING THE THREE Ps TO PROGRESS: Positive Thinking, passion and Sense of proportion by themselves have no power unless backed up by dedication and perseverance.
  4. NARADA TANTRAM: Sometimes the hornet’s nest has to be stirred to restore order.
  5. ICHCHA SHAKTHI, JNANA SHAKTHI KRIYA SHAKTHI: Thoughts become actions which can lead to success. In other words we are the architects of our destiny.
  1. COMMUNICATION SKILLS: The example of Hanuman in the Sundara Kanda is used to elucidate the dome thing in communication in the global scene.
  2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS: The essence of conversation is based on truth and compassion. Importance of body language, tone and intention which can far surpass use of language.
  3. ART OF MANAGEMENT: Delegation is only one part of the show. Self reliance, detachment and confidence is the way forward.
  4. KARMA THEORY : It is scientific, therapeutic and cathartic can change the world if each one becomes conscious of what his actions can lead to.
  5. KARMA THEORY :The serpent stories of Mahabharata
  6. LEADERSHIP: Flexibility and firmness, decision making, delegation, team work
  7. TEAM WORK Vs INDIVIDUAL ENTERPRISE: A conflicting ideal between material and spiritual progress.
  8. WORK ETHICS: How to cope with personal beliefs and professional demands without compromising on values.
  9. CRISIS MANAGEMENT: Many of them are under the impression that crisis management can be learnt at a crash course but developing presence of mind and using common sense are lessons of a lifetime.
  10. SUBHASHITAS, DOHAS AND KURALGAL: similarities in the world of wisdom.
  11. SATYAM SHIVAM SUNDARAM: Beauty is threefold, physical, mental and spiritual.
  12. SWOT ANALYSIS: with examples from mythology to suit the nature of different problems.
  13. TIME MANAGEMENT: Multi tasking, priorities, planning, procrastination et al.
  14. SHADOW LEADERSHIP QUALITIES: Bhishma, Krishna, Shakuni

 

INDIACENTRIC

  1. INDIAN WAY OF LIVING AND ENVIRONMENT: Makes an attempt in exploring certain age old traditions and separates the wheat from the chaff that is tradition from superstition.
  2. GLOBALISATION THE INDIAN WAY: Concept of Vasudhava Kutumbakam-the world as one family.
  3. GURUS IN MAHABHARATA: Ideas, ideals and inspirations that can be drawn from the epic teachers. It is also a session on the essential human flaws that interfere in the functioning of a complete teacher.
  4. STORY TELLING: Most effective teaching methodology since Panchatantra
  5. RANGOLI: The esoteric and educational value of the Vedic tradition in today’s world.
  6. THE MIDAS TOUCH OF INDIANISATION : Much against the popular belief that we are westernised, we actually Indianise whatever comes in our way.
  7. FOOD AND FESTIVALS OF INDIA: Food is more about region while festivals construe to religion, it is the spirit of celebration which is important.
  8. PAGAN INDIA: Worship of the forces of nature, which automatically makes us eco friendly
  9. UNDERSTANDING EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE TRADITIONAL INDIAN CONTEXT
  10. HIMALAYAS THE SPIRITUAL UNIFYING FACTOR OF INDIA: A take on what keeps India together despite diversity.
  11. UNITY IN DIVERSITY: Universal unity of mankind in terms of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Ekam Sat.
  12. THE NEED TO CONSERVE INDIAN LANGUAGES: promote use of mother tongue to salvage tradition and culture.
  13. SANSKRIT THE MOTHER OF LANGUAGES: Underlying unity in eastern and western languages.
  14. THE GREAT INDIAN MIDDLE CLASS ECONOMICS AND ENVIRONMENT: Old wine in new bottle, Swachch Bharath.
  15. SAVE WATER: Water does not disappear, it gets evaporated/polluted or displaced.
  16. SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT: recycle, reuse, recharge
  17. COLOUR OF CORPORATE IS GREEN: Corporate social responsibility.
  18. MEDICAL KIT IN A MASALA DABBA: Discuss spices and their benefits
  19. YOGA: Physical, mental and spiritual benefits
  20. GREEN BUSINESS IDEAS: Based on Indian resources catering to Indian way of life.
  21. TOURISM AND GLOBALISATION: Being aware of the History and geography of a place can go a long way in making the world a global village.
  22. MUSIC MATHEMATICS AND SANSKRIT: The interrelated aspects of the three subjects.
  23. CHARACTERS IN OUR EPICS AND MYTHOLOGY: metaphorical representations of the myriad shades of human thought, behaviour and actions.

ART

  1. WORLD OF ART: Different art forms can help man imbibe both discipline and creativity. Work both left and right brains.
  2. LEISURE ARTS FOR NORMAL BLOOD PRESSURE: The impact of embroidery, crochet, knitting, rangoli weaving et al
  3. ART OUT OF WASTE: (PPT aided)
  4. MUSIC AND MATHEMATICS: Similarities in the two subjects with respect to discipline and creativity.
  5. SKYLARK AND NADABRAHMA: Western and eastern exploration of music as a quest for eternity based on the contemporary works — Shelley’s poem and some Thyagaraja Kritis
  6. HARIDASA TRADITION: A take on Bhakthi tradition in Karnataka. Social and spiritual dimensions.

Workshops on the following topics can be conducted over two sessions of ninety minutes each followed by half an hour of interaction or open house discussion as per requirement.The sessions will be a combination of talk and activities.)

  1. Individual life long development. (Physically, mentally and spiritually).
  2. IT and English language teaching. ( Developing games to hone grammar and usage)
  3. Creative writing. ( Touches on fantasy, imagination and story writing.)
  4. ( Practical and economic aspects of Greek and Indian Drama aimed at helping oneself to available resources).
  5. Developing a green thumb. ( Creating green space around living and working spaces with available resources.)
  6. Green practices. (Practical and economic aspects of avoiding pollution and conserving resources).
  7. Teachers Training. (Practical and economic aspects of teaching using games and puzzles to introduce topics or revise them.)
  8. Women Empowerment. (Physically, mentally and spiritually)

10.Team building and leadership. (SWOT analysis of colleagues and employees and learning to build a healthy competitive atmosphere.)

TEACHING

  1. GOLDEN TRIANGLE: The inter relationship among, expectations from and disillusionments in the triangle of parents students and teachers
  2. THE GURUS OF MAHABHARATA: Guidelines on about how to be and how not to be a good teacher by analyzing the student teacher relationships in the epic.
  3. CLASS ROOM CONTROL: The discretion to take stand on when to be firm and flexible and concentrate on content.
  4. VOCABULARY : Using games based on vocabulary to sensitize the use of spellings, syntax, phonetics and grammar.{ Note: Vocabulary can be used a tool to develop teamwork qualities, understand common fallacies and even philosophize depending on the age, ability and interest of the participant}
  5. HANDLING DIFFICULT STUDENTS: The session will progress from generic to specific discussing the expectations, psychology and the environment of the student.
  6. PREPARING FOR BOARD EXAMINATIONS: The dos and don’ts of examination rules, preparation and performance {Note: this session will be conducted differently at the head and the tail end of the academic year}
  7. PREPARING FOR ENTRANCE EXAMINATIONS: Overcoming the challenge to excel and make a mark when comoeting with dark horses of varied calibers.
  8. EXAMINATION AND EVALUATION: A session for teaching staff on the validity of the necessary evil. Will be mostly conducted on the lines of a debate.
  9. THE GOAL OF LEARNING: Knowledge, exposure and reflection as against rote learning.
  • LEARNING BASICS: Importance of getting the concepts right , the need for bridge courses
  • USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN CLASSROOMS: The pros and cons of using technology will be discussed on lines of a debate.
  • THEATRE AND CINEMA: Role play, playing clips of relevant videos to put across a point. Examples using prescribed textbooks will follow.
  • USE OF MUSIC: Rote learning of multiplication tables formulae, poetry, periodic table etc
  • MUSIC MATHEMATICS AND SANSKRIT: The interrelated aspects of the three subjects.
  • POETRY AND POETICS: helping students to enjoy and experience the essence of poetry.
  • TESTING TECHNIQUES: Suggestion of various methods of immediate and periodic testing of what has been learned to make learning more effective.

 

Traversing with Technology


p7

Published in the school edition of Deccan Herald

By S. RADHA PRATHI

Mankind is zooming forth on the technological path paving new possibilities and discovering unseen horizons. So how can the field of education be left behind?

The digital era has dawned in the classrooms of urban India in a very subtle way. The black board has been displaced by an interactive monitor. The daily attendance is marked on an electronic pad; information about the absentees is communicated in real time to the parents and guardians. Circulars regarding timetables, holidays etc curriculum updates, mark sheets, fee receipts and even homework or project instructions are sent via Whatsapp messages. Teachers use power point presentations and show relevant videos found on You Tube to elucidate a point. Students are also encouraged to surf the internet and research on topics suggested by teachers and make power point presentations. Studying the theoretical and practical aspects about the world of computers has become a mandatory feature of Indian academics right from the Primary school.

Ever since the ministry of education has made it imperative to fix cameras in all the feasible areas of the schools with the exception of the toilets, it has become easier to monitor any kind of defaulting behaviour or heinous activity.

High end schools and colleges have already introduced customised notepads in which text books, summaries, notes, worksheets, sample question papers and reference material have been uploaded. Unit Tests and surprise tests are conducted in the multiple choice question pattern and results are declared immediately to apprise students of their performance levels. Digital libraries and prolific use of Kindle in educational institutions have emerged like silver linings in a time when we are desperately trying to conserve trees. Some schools even record class room teaching hours and relay them in real time or leave them as library records so that absentees and other students can have access to them as and when necessary. School and college day functions, farewell parties, ethnic and sports day celebrations are being recorded and saved on clouds for posterity. More recently a news buzz about several rural schools in India going digital is a clear indicator that we are stabilizing on the digital track.

A bird’s view of the digital scene can fill one with a sense of fulfillment.  We have reached a state where we can rub shoulders with the developed countries of the world. A lot of clerical work has been circumvented. Records are being maintained and are easy to reckon with as and when necessary. Teachers do not have to do repetitive work. They can save diagrams, charts, graphs, maps and such other teaching aids as soft copies and use them several times over and conserve their effort and time. Students and teachers find it convenient to compare past performances with the current scores. Interaction among the three arms of the golden triangle namely the student, teacher and student has become smoother and transparent.

No less than a hundred schools in India have introduced subjects like animation, robotics, gaming and three dimensional recording in their syllabus.

We have reached a point where the members of the arms of the golden triangle are under the impression that equipping oneself in the latest technology can be a protective shield for a sparkling career and a tinkling bank account.

For all eyes to see, it would appear that we are on velvet and the only way from this is forward.New aspects of learning are always welcome. All the same one has to take the age, aptitude and the requirement of the same to be imbibed in young minds at an impressionable age. Besides one must remember that learning is an art and it can be best inculcated orally, visually and by writing or working it out. Perhaps further studies or revision can happen digitally.

If we chose to overlook this dimension of education, it is quite possible that we might end up raising future generations of students who will shirk any work which cannot be done without technology. The path of progress cannot and need not be reversed but we must traverse it mindfully!