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

Public Sector Companies-End of an Era


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/right-in-the-middle/public-sector-companies-end-of-an-era-746322.html

Seven decades ago, India stepped into the path of progress by instituting a large number of public sector companies and factories. Namma Bengaluru has housed several of them. The coming of this sector ushered in a new pattern of work life in our city. New secular communities, colonies and tenements sprouted like mushrooms all over the place. They thrived for a couple of decades lending a vibrant vigour to the ethos of our garden city. As in all things change happens to be the only constant in life. It has not left the public sector untouched, hence we see the phenomenon phasing out ever so quietly from our lives.

The only remnants of the public sector happen to be the senior citizens who dot our city with their unique anecdotes. Though I have been privy to many of them, the one which never ceases to fascinate me happens to be the one I wish to share with my readers.

It is a well known fact that Rama and Lakshmana the protagonists of the Ramayana availed help from Sugriva the monkey- king to fight their enemy Ravana and redeem Seeta. An army of monkeys famously known as the Vanara Sena was instituted to help Rama in his mission. The ocean was crossed and the battle was fought. Rama the crown prince of Ayodhya slew the ten headed demon king Ravana redeemed Seeta. When it was time to return to Ayodhya with his wife Seeta and brother Lakshmana, he rewarded all the leaders like Hanuman, Sugriva, Vibhishana among the others but was at a loss as to how to return the favour of the members of the Vanara Sena. Then the lord said that the Dandakaranya forest would be abundant with fruits to take care of them during the Treta Yuga.

The simian army accepted their gift humbly but did not disperse as expected. So Rama told them that they could serve him as Yadava confederates when he re-incarnated as Krishna. Even as the Vanaras acknowledged the blessing gratefully, Rama felt that he had not been generous enough to see them through the wheel of time. So he said that in the Kali Yuga they would be absorbed as human resources by the public sector!

I have heard this tale regaled in jest, just to mark a merry moment. Of late, the elderly who recollect this tale do it with such a veneration which leaves the listener baffled! If the stories do enough rounds in the new tone, it will probably enter the portals of our mythology by the next half of this millennium!  Only time can tell!

 

When an Option becomes a Choice


Article published in the annual EDUVERSE

supplement of Deccan Herald, bangalore edition

                     WHEN AN OPTION BECOMES A CHOICE

By S. RADHA PRATHI

 Our sub continent boasts of at least two and a half dozen living languages and perhaps a few hundred existing dialects. The statistics are not only true but also very overwhelming to the citizens of other countries who manage to communicate in perhaps two or three languages. All the same when we look at our language skills with reference to our millions in population it is very disproportionate. The number of people who can read write and speak a language well happens to be a small fraction. And the ones who can appreciate the literature, art and culture associated with the tongue happen to be a smaller fraction.

We have no one else to blame for this situation except ourselves. Somewhere along the line, education came to be associated with studying subjects which will earn them a livelihood and perhaps help them scale up the economic ladder. Over a period of time language skills started fading. If we do not pay attention to this loophole in our system it will be no surprise when our languages disappear en masse some day in the future.

As they say, it is never too late to regain anything as long as we apply our minds to it. At this point of time in the year lakhs of teenagers who have completed their pre university examinations are standing on the threshold of new beginnings. Most certainly there must be a section of students who have a flair for languages and would like to explore the vagaries of the tongue and delve deeply into the rich literature of the language. Yet many of them refrain from pursuing a course that is close to their heart because of preconceived negative notions attributed to the arts stream and language learning as an optional subject.

For those of you who are surprised and curious, please be aware that all universities offer undergraduate courses through which students can specialize in language studies which is officially known as “Optional” languages. Just about every university offers “Optional” in English, Kannada, Hindi, Sanskrit and Urdu on a mandatory basis and sometimes throws in a couple of other foreign and Indian languages. Students study their chosen “Optional” for all the three years of their undergraduate period. During this period they are introduced to the linguistics, stylistics, phonetics and syntactical aspects of the language besides getting a panoramic glimpse of its vast literature spanning across the ages. Aspects like history of the language, its development, influences on and of the language on its immediate society, culture and ethos of the people are discovered. Poetry, prose, novels, short stories, dramas ranging from ancient to post modern are brought to the attention of students. A passionate reading never fails to inspire students to ponder and admire the universality of the works leaving them to thirst for more.

Three years of intense study of the language with two other ancillary subjects can boost the intellectual and emotional quotient of the student. The ancillary subjects offered are numerous. One could choose to study any two subjects from an elaborate list that contains History, Sociology, Economics, Journalism, and Psychology among others. Each of these ancillary subjects will help the student to develop a fresh insight into the “Optional” language and the interdisciplinary nature of learning.

One can pursue a teachers training course or a master degree course in the same “Optional” after graduation and top it with a M Phil or a doctoral course.

 The career options for students who pursue these courses can range from teaching at various levels, to becoming well grounded journalists, historians, civil servants to even ambassadors of the language. The rich dividends that one can get by doing these courses do not stop at only monetary remunerations. A sincere dip into the vast ocean of literature will not only help its ardent users to bear the torch  and pass it on to the next generation but will also make the individual a sensible and sensitive citizen.

WHAT OTHERS SAID:

 “Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” –Flora Lewis

Language comes first. It’s not that language grows out of consciousness, if you haven’t got language, you can’t be conscious. – Alan Moore

 

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart. ~Salman Rushdie

 

 

True Love is Immeasurable


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com/

We promise God money, gifts and sometimes harsh penance as a token of our thanksgiving for fulfilling our wishes. We praise, clothe, feed and entertain God as we see fit.

A lot of us who go out of the way to please God simply forget that God – – our creator does not expect anything from us either in cash or kind. We are only expected to extend sincere affection towards our maker and he will take care of all our needs.

An incident from the Bhagavatha Purana reiterates this viewpoint. Satyabhama, the spouse of Krishna, once lost her husband to Narada in a game of dice. The distressed wife beseeched the celestial sage to let go of her husband.

She offered to give gold that equaled the weight of her dear husband. The sage agreed to alter his condition. Accordingly, Satyabhama sheepishly poured out the details of the awkward bet to the king of Dwaraka.

Then she requested him to sit on one plate of the balance. She placed all her jewellery on the other plate of the scale. The gold did not measure up to the weight on the other side. Then she ordered that the gold from the household and then even the treasury.

To her despair, she found that her best attempts failed. At that point of time Krishna gently told Satyabhama to seek help from his senior wife Rukmini. Satyabhama nurtured envy towards the said co-wife and generally steered clear of her. Yet, in the given circumstances, she approached Rukmini in order to redeem their husband.

Though the senior queen was aghast to hear what had transpired, she rushed to the spot. When she saw the scale in a state of gross imbalance, she quickly plucked a leaf from the Tulsi plant and placed it reverentially on the gold uttering the lord’s name.

Lo and behold! The plate holding the lord rose high immediately. Krishna helped himself out with a knowing smile that said it all. Immediately, Satyabhama felt ashamed but also felt enlightened. She realised that true love is immeasurable in worldly ways.

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!

 

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.