My Thoughts on the ongoing Pro-Jallikattu Protests

Three Famous Protestors.png

 

My thoughts on the ongoing protests to lift the ban on Jallikattu:

  1. In India thousands of people die in road and train accidents every year. Would the court ask for stringent implementation of regulations and better regulations or would it ban road and train transport altogether?
  2. India is the largest exporter of beef, 7th largest exporter of goat and sheep meat and the 2nd largest producer of footwear and leather garments in the world. Shouldn’t the animal right activists first target these industries before targeting an ancient sport? Isn’t killing animals, de-skinning them and cutting them to pieces more cruel than bull-taming?
  3. Under UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, article 13 specifically calls for national governments to a) adopt a general policy aimed at promoting the function of the intangible cultural heritage in society, and at integrating the safeguarding of such heritage into planning programs and b) designate or establish one or more competent bodies for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage present in its territory. ‘Social practices, rituals and festive events’ is one of the domains under ICH. Shouldn’t India (and its highest court) as a member of the UN protect Jallikattu, a festive event, rather than ban it?
  4. In its observation in January 2016, the Supreme Court observed, ‘in this modern world of computers, it is better to play Jallikattu on computer.’ Shouldn’t the judges of the Supreme Court be value-neutral? Why mock at a tradition?
  5. The Youth of Tamil Nadu protesting peacefully across the state are not questioning the authority of the Supreme Court, but questioning the logic of putting the values of one group (the animal right activists) above the values of another group (people who want to ensure in the continuity of their tradition). People who think that Tamil Youths’ stand is wrong should bear in mind that they are following in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan.
  6. Human Beings are like Trees; just like trees we need strong roots (nationality, religion, language and culture, etc.) and strong branches and leaves (education, experience and appreciation of diversity, etc.). In the end the choice between where to strike a balance between tradition and modernity is each individual’s right and no one has to the right to infringe on it. PETA is at best a Ponzi scheme of the Animal Rights World and no true animal lover should believe in them.
  7. People still don’t get the fact that India is not a Homogenous Nation but a mosaic of cultures and nation of immense diversity. In the way the former British colonies came together to form a new country, India is similar to USA. In terms of a huge population of people, India is similar to China. In terms of the sheer diversity of languages, ethnic groups, religions and group identities, India is similar to the European Union. In terms of the way politicians and rich people embrace each other, India is similar to dictator ruled countries. In short India is a first of its kind POLITICAL and SOCIAL EXPERIEMENT in history. Any individual or institution that is going to treat India as a homogenous nation/ entity and enact/ implement laws based on this assumption is going to create more frictions like the Jallikattu-ban issue. Any such attempt is an attempt to trample the dreams of the founding fathers of this nation, an assault on the foundation of our constitution and an assault on the very idea of INDIA itself.

 

#Jallikattu #Jallikattuprotest #AmendPCA

The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins

The Art of Creative Thinking

A couple of days back I finished reading ‘The Art of Creative Thinking’ by Rod Judkins. It’s a short and crisp book. The book does not have a table of contents and the chapters are not grouped together by broad topics either. In fact at the end of each chapter the authors suggest two chapters from the book for further reading, one about a related idea discussed in the chapter and another about a slightly contrarian idea.

The book is light on exercises on how to increase our creativity. What caught my attention were the inspiring stories and whole lot of powerful one liners. I liked the story about Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist Subramanyan Chandrasekhar and his two Nobel Prize winning students (the only two students to sign up for one of his classes!). The other inspiring story was about Craig Good, who joined Pixar as a janitor but through his efforts and training from the company became a camera artist for such successful films like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.

The book is filled with a lot of good one liners. A few of them:

  • The most common decision at a meeting is to have another meeting.
  • It is more important to be the best version of yourself than a bad copy of someone else
  • Put your personality before practicality and your individuality into everything
  • Doubt is the key to unlocking new ideas
  • Think of nature not as a source of materials to use but as a library of ideas
  • Most are born geniuses and are de-geniused by education and convention
  • Your present circumstances don’t determine your destination, they only determine your departure point
  • The real currency of our time is not money; it’s attention
  • Hierarchies maintain the quo after it’s lost its status
  • Work is a dangerous form of procrastination
  • The history of art is inseparable from the history of money
  • The first spark of inspiration always needs reworking and revision
  • Growth is painful and change is painful, but nothing is more painful than staying in the wrong place

Overall the book is good on the inspiration front but rather shallow on techniques to improve and nurture creativity. However a good book to read just for the countless inspiring stories that it covers.

STEPPS TO MAKE ANY IDEA CONTAGIOUS

Contagious

In the book ‘The Tipping Point’ published in 2000, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea of ‘The Law of the Few,’ and stated that, ‘The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.’ Essentially what this means is that when messages or ideas spread in a society through word of mouth, rapidly like an epidemic, it is due to special influential people. Identifying these influential people and getting them on board to support our idea or cause would mean that our idea or cause would spread through the society like unhindered forest fire. However there has been a lot of criticism for ‘the law of the few’ most notably from Duncan Watts, author of ‘Six Degrees.’

In ‘Contagious,’ Wharton Professor Jonah Berger argues that irrespective of who originates or passes along a message, it can be contagious if it has six key attributes. The author has devoted a chapter each for these six attributes.

  • Social Currency – The basic premise of this chapter is ‘We share things that make us look good
  • Triggers – This chapter is built on the central idea, ‘Top of the mind, tip of the tongue
  • Emotion – In this chapter the authors illustrates several cases to drive home the point, ‘When we care, we share
  • Public – This chapter is built on the central idea, ‘Built to show, built to grow
  • Practical Value – The key message from this chapter can be boiled down to, ‘News you can use
  • Stories – The core of this chapter is built around, ‘Information travels under the guise of idle chatter

In the words of Jonah Berger, ‘Harnessing the power of word of mouth, online or offline, requires understanding why people talk and why some things get talked about and shared more than others. The psychology of sharing. The science of social transmission.’  The author uses a number of psychological studies and real world examples to drive home the point that the inherent attractiveness of any message/ idea can be enhanced so as to make it worth sharing in the minds of its recipients.

Just to ensure that Virality is not an end in itself, but a means to an end, the author has this piece of advice for anyone trying to implement his methodology, ‘When trying to generate word of mouth, many people forget one important detail. They focus so much to make people to talk that they ignore the part that really matters: what people are talking about.’

The most important consideration as per the author is that, ‘ensuring the idea not only goes viral but also to make it valuable to the sponsoring company. Virality is most valuable when the brand or product benefit is integral to the story. When it’s woven so deeply into the narrative that people can’t tell the story without mentioning the brand or the product or the company.’

Even if we are not a marketer, ‘Contagious’ by Jonah Berger is a book worth reading just to understand why we hit the ‘share’ or the ‘retweet’ or the ‘forward’ buttons for some messages while ignoring a vast majority of the messages that we receive.

Grouped by Paul Adams

I recently came across ‘UX Week 2011’ talk by former Google User Experience Researcher and former Facebook Product Manager, Paul Adams. I found the talk both fascinating as well as useful. As a result I decided to read his book, ‘Grouped.’ The book essentially builds on the ideas that Paul Adams discusses in the talk. The 10 chapter book is crisp and concise and one can easily finish reading it within a couple of days which exactly what I did. The book draws on a lot of network science, social psychology and sociology research findings and points to how these insights can be used for business success in the web world. Another highlight of the book is the number of simple but powerful diagrams to drive home the point that the author is making.

The book starts by discussing about four key shifts that are shaping our world:

  1. The rise in accessible information
  2. Change in the structure of the web
  3. Our recently acquired ability to accurately map and measure social interaction
  4. The dramatic increase in our understanding of how we make decisions

Towards the end of the introduction chapter, Paul Adams makes the following observation, ‘Humans are social creatures, and an understanding of social behavior on the web will soon be required knowledge for almost all businesses.’ Paul Adams also discusses multiple instances of web 2.0 companies reaping the benefits by putting their understanding of this ‘social behavior’ to good use.

The author points to research studies that divide our family, friends and acquaintances into strong ties and weak ties. The discussion on how we don’t make friends but groups of friends based on different contexts that we are embedded in different stages of our life is fascinating. In his Paul Adams’ own words, ‘Social networks of connected independent groups of friends is the most important observation in this book.’

I found the fifth chapter of the book, ‘The myth of the influentials’ very interesting. The basic premise of this chapter is that highly connected individuals are not necessarily highly influential and in a sense each one of us influence people around us to varying degrees. Quoting Duncan Watts’ research study, Paul Adams notes that, ‘The most important factor in determining whether an idea spread was not whether there were influential people, but whether there was a critical mass of easily influenced people who were connected to other people who were easy to influence.’

There are individual chapters focused on ‘how our relationships influence us,’ ‘how our brain influences us,’ and ‘how our biases influence us’ each filled with multiple ‘Aha!’ insights. In a way ‘Grouped’ by Paul Adams is an antithesis to Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point.’ Overall the book is a very delightful and informative read and is recommended to anyone who wants to understand social networks and influence in social networks.

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

The Power of Myth

Yesterday I finished reading ‘The Power of Myth’ based on a televised conversation between Comparative Mythologist, Joseph Campbell and TV anchor, Bill Moyers. The book set in the conversational style and makes for an easy read.

The sentence ‘Myths are clues to spiritual potentialities of the human life’ appear in the opening chapter as well as the closing chapter of the book. And that’s one of the key messages that this conveys. The other key theme discussed in this book is the similarity or proximities between myths from different cultures, places and times. The close association, as per Campbell, is due to ‘certain powers in the psyche that are common to all mankind.’ As per Campbell, ‘Every mythology has to do with the wisdom of life as related to a specific culture at a specific time. It integrates the individual into his society and the society into the field of nature.’

Some of the countless nuggets of wisdom from the book:

  • Every religion is true in one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck to its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.
  • If you think that the metaphor is itself the reference, it would be like going to a restaurant, asking for the menu, seeing beefsteak written there, and starting to eat the menu.

 

  • Compassion is the fundamental religious experience, and, unless that is there, you have nothing. (A very important observation given the current series of religion based hate crimes).
  • You get a totally different civilization and a totally different way of living according to whether your myth presents nature as fallen or whether nature is in itself a manifestation of divinity, and the spirit is the revelation of the divinity that is inherent in nature.
  • Life is pain, but compassion is what gives it the possibility of continuing.
  • It’s characteristic of democracy that majority rule is understood as being effective not only in politics but also in thinking. In thinking, of course, the majority is always wrong.
  • Giving birth is definitely a heroic deed, in that it is giving over of oneself to the life of another.
  • Making money gets more advertisement. So the thing that happens and happens and happens, no matter how heroic it may be, is not news. Motherhood has lost its novelty, you might say.
  • Our life evokes our character. You find out more about yourself as you go on. That’s why it’s good to be able to put yourself in situations that will evoke your higher nature rather than your lower.
  • Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical.
  • The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth (just brilliant).
  • A legendary hero is usually the founder of something – the founder of a new age, the founder of a new religion, the founder of a new city, the founder of a new way of life.
  • In order to found something new, one has to leave the old and go in quest of the seed idea, a germinal idea that will have the potentiality of bringing forth that new thing.

 

  • You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning……. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation.
  • The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. (People carrying out the destruction of the ecology in pursuit of a fat bank account, please take a note.)
  • People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
  • What we’re learning in our schools is not wisdom of life. We’re learning technologies, we’re getting information. There’s a curious reluctance on the part of faculties to indicate the life values of their subjects.

When I was watching the movie Troy, based on Greek epic Iliad, I was struck while watching the scene in which Achilles is killed by an arrow piercing his heel which is similar to a scene from Hindu epic Mahabharata, in which Krishna is killed by an arrow piercing his foot. After reading this book, I now realize that there are countless similarities between mythologies from different parts of the world.

There is one striking conversation in the second chapter in which Moyers reads verses from the creation story in Genesis and Campbell gives equivalent verses from other cultures ranging from the Pima Indians in Arizona, the Hindu Upanishads from India and the Bassari People of West Africa.

There is another conversation in the book about a story from Persia that Satan was condemned to hell because he loved God so much. I remember the The parallel episode to this from Hindu stories where the gate keepers of Vaikuntam, the heavenly abode of God Vishnu, are cursed by a group of saints. On the intervention of God Vishnu they are given an option between staying away from Vishnu for six births if they praise Vishnu in each birth or staying away from Vishnu for three births if they denounce him in each birth. Not able to bear the thought of being away Vishnu for six births, they accept to denounce him and are born as Asoora (Demon-like) kings in their next three births.

Reading ‘The Power of Myth’ is the best way to realize that humanity as whole shares the same roots, shares the same resources, shares the same fears and ultimately shares the same fate on this earth. As they say: ‘God is Love and Love is God.’ Love life and let all life forms live and flourish on this beautiful planet. May the power of sanity be with us and lead us to embrace the God within each one of us.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

1984 Book Cover

A while back I had read Animal Farm by George Orwell. I liked the book a lot and even wrote a book review on my blog. I decided to read Orwell’s other famous book ‘1984.’ In Animal Farm, George Orwell narrated about an idealistic revolution gone wrong and a totalitarian regime that arises as an aftermath in an easy to understand form. For people who did not get the message after reading Animal Farm, Orwell has written 1984 with all the gory details. The intensity of the novel was like Earth’s Gravitational Force; I could not prevent my mind from getting sucked into the novel.

Like I wrote in the review on Animal Farm, the brilliance of Orwell stems from the fact that he was able to clearly understand and present to us the pit falls of having a totalitarian regime without proper checks and balances in place. The only thing that he forgot to tell us in either books is that any system, including a democracy, could just be a tool serving only the people in power if there are no proper checks and balances in place. I am not sure if Orwell foresaw and would have written about it, but as the events of the past few years have shown, big business is as dangerous as big government. In a way the term big brother could be used to refer to anyone or any organization with too much of power to influence and control the fortunes of the general public.

For every Edward Snowden who succeeded in exposing the illegal practices of big governments countless many would have failed and would have paid a heavy price for their audacity. For every successful corporate whistle blower, countless many would have been silenced and had their careers ruined. For every media house that fights for the welfare of the people, there are countless many which have become part of the establishment that is oppressing the people. In a way, the protagonist of 1984 is symbolic of face-less, unknown and unsung heroes over the ages who had tried to fight against and change corrupt systems but ultimately got crushed under the weight and the power those very same systems.

A simple blog post would not be enough to narrate the brilliance of George Orwell’s work; Even an entire book would not suffice that purpose. Given the fact George Orwell’s was battling tremendous odds to complete this book, his last one, we would do ourselves a favor if we treat this book not just as a novel but as a ‘sacred text’ that explains the pitfalls of trading off our individual freedom for the sake non-existent stability and security. A few literary gems, nuggets of wisdom, revelations from the book are given below:

  • Nothing was your own except the few centimeters inside your skull
  • It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage
  • The consequences of every act are included in the act itself
  • The immediate advantages of falsifying the past were obvious, but the ultimate motives was mysterious
  • The Heresy of heresies was common sense
  • It struck him that in moments of crisis one is never fighting against an external enemy, but always against one’s own body
  • Accepting the party as something unalterable, like the sky
  • In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on the people incapable of understanding in it – just brilliant.

 

  • In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance
  • The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor

 

  • The consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival
  • The aim of the High is to remain where they are. The aim of the Middle is to change places with the High. The aim of the Low……is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal
  • No advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer. From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters
  • With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end. – The smart phone and the social media are the logical extensions of this phenomenon.
  • It had long been realized that the secure basis for oligarchy is collectivism. Wealth and privilege are most easily defended when they are possessed jointly
  • What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent that yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
  • Power is not a means, it is an end
  • One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

 

  • The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

For all the advancement in science & technology, social sciences, economics and arts in the last hundred years or so, the world of today is much closer to ‘Dystopia’ than ‘Utopia.’ The world of today is a dystopian one where there the focus is on profits and not on people and on earnings per share and not on ecological balance.

I found it every interesting that both in ‘Animal Farm’ as well as in ‘1984’ the ruling class instills the fear about a renegade in general public and uses that fear to safeguard their hold over the public. While the ‘Screen’ mentioned in the book sends out information that not everybody likes, today we all own a Screen (smart phone) which provides us with information (paid news and advertising) that we absolutely adore. Strangely we not only have allowed both big government and big business to snoop on us but have grown to absolutely love the idea (for the sake of a few freebies that we receive in return).

Today the single biggest influence on our lives is not our provincial or national governments but the unified global economic order. Under the influence of the globalization every country is like a conjoined twin with every other country. Free market proponents (read big businesses) have used the free of communism, socialism and the hold of big government to only increase their power and hold over our lives. Just to paraphrase what Orwell wrote in Animal farm, today there is no difference between Big Government and Big Business. They are two sides of the same coin with ‘subjugation of ordinary public’ as their common objective. Today if there is anything that is close to a totalitarian regime, it is the unified global economic order and the hold of capitalism over it.

The Big Businesses have found their ultimate example in the Roman Emperors who provided grand acts in the colosseum for the people to prevent them from thinking for themselves and questioning the emperors’ objectives and actions.  Similarly Big Businesses through their print houses, tabloids, TV channels, movie houses, sports teams are bringing us action and more unwanted and unnecessary action to our cities, our localities, our streets, our living rooms and ultimately to the sacred space in our palms. After exhausting all our time, energy, money and cranial capacity on all these activities, we can hardly think about and act in our own best interests.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm

One of my MBA professors once said, ‘If I have to talk sense, I can make it even in five minutes; I don’t need a whole hour.’ Animal Farm by George Orwell is small book (a novella – 95 pages in Penguin Book that I read) that makes a lot of sense even though seventy years have passed since it was first published. The author wrote this fable/ allegory or fairy tale with Soviet Union under Stalin in mind and yet a vast majority of the situations and observations are applicable even today’s world, even to democracies like India.

Such is the brilliance of Orwell that while reading some of the lines in the book, I was reminded about news items that I have read in the recent past. Take for example this line from the book: ‘Two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, “Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!”’ On reading this line I was reminded of the umpteen number of times how the success of government schemes are attributed directly to the efforts of only the Chief Minister/ Prime Minister. Another one: ‘Squealer always spoke of it as a “readjustment,” never as a “reduction.” On reading this one I got reminded of how Hillary Clinton claimed on TV during a prime time interview that FBI Investigation against her is just a “Security Review” and “not an investigation.”’ Not to forget the barrage of ‘my statement was taken out of context’ or ‘my tweet was taken out of context’ statement that you get to hear these days.

Another brilliant line from the book, ‘Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves richer – except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.’ This line could just be an apt criticism against today’s Capitalism and Globalization. I was also reminded of the growing income inequality and the recent Bernie Sanders campaign which focused a lot on the income and wealth of the richest one-tenth of one percent of Americans.

A gem of a statement from the book, ‘All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.’ On reading this I was reminded of how a loan defaulter billionaire was allowed to leave this country, how the hit and run case of a Bollywood super star has progressed nowhere in over a decade and how even a retired judge was also in favor of clemency for a Bollywood actor convicted of possessing a gun.

Or this wonderful line: ‘Throughout the whole period of his seeming friendship with Pilkington, Napoleon had been in secret agreement with Frederick.’ This line reminded me of how parties that competed against each other in assembly elections become allies by the time the Lok Sabha elections are around the corner, within just a few months.

In the end Animal Farm is about a few simple truths:

  1. No sooner than the objectives of a movement are achieved, the ideals behind the crusade are forgotten
  2. The leaders of the movement who get elevated to power centers soon forget the people and enforce policies that are beneficial only to themselves, which would aid in extend their reign.
  3. Without proper checks and balance any system would fail in the long run
  4. Blind faith and apathy of the people are as dangerous to the people and the country as nepotism, corruption or tyranny.

Animal Farm is a must read for anyone irrespective of their political ideology. It is a short but brilliant book. Hats Off to George Orwell for writing this timeless Classic.

A Country worth Exploring

Which is the closest country to Australia? If you answered New Zealand, you are wrong. If you answered Indonesia, you are wrong again. Papua New Guinea is the closest country to Australia. Papua New Guinea (PNG), is an independent country that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. Papua New Guinea achieved its independence in 1975 following almost 60 years of Australian administration. PNG is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state. The country has a population of about 8 Million people, has a per capita GDP of $2,283 and is classified as a developing nation by the IMF.

Some interesting facts about PNG:

  1. Papua New Guinea is only 3.7 kilometers away from Australian soil at its nearest point
  2. Papua New Guinea and Indonesia share the island of New Guinea which is one of the world’s largest islands.
  3. It is one of the very few places on earth which lie close to the equator where places at higher altitudes experience snowfall.
  4. PNG is one of the most ecologically and culturally diverse countries.
  5. The world’s only known poisonous bird, the Hooded Pitohui (Pitohui dichrous) is native to Papua New Guinea.
  6. Even until the 1950’s cannibalism and headhunting were rampant in Papua New Guinea.
  7. Until 1933 the country used sea-shells as its national currency. Post that, it switched to the Papua New Guinean Kina (PGK).
  8. 852 languages are listed for PNG, of which 12 have no known living speakers
  9. The highest point in the Independent State of Papua New Guinea is Mount Wilhelm (4,509 m).
  10. PNG is fantastic for birdlife with the famous birds of paradise and 750 different species to look out for. There are tree kangaroos, wallabies but no other real mammals.
  11. Many species of birds and mammals found on New Guinea have close genetic links with corresponding species found in Australia (e.g. kangaroos and possums)
  12. The Great Barrier Reef extends from Australia to almost the edge of Papua New Guinea
  13. The Japanese army suffered their first land defeat in the Pacific War (part of WWII) in 1942 in PNG

If you are interested in visiting PNG the following links might be useful to you:

http://www.pngtia.com/

http://wikitravel.org/en/Papua_New_Guinea

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/papua-new-guinea

http://www.papuanewguinea.travel/birdwatching

http://www.tropicalbirding.com/australasia-tours/new-guinea/papua-new-guinea/

http://world.new7wonders.com/?n7wn-finalist=great-barrier-reef-australia-papua-new-guinea

I will leave you with a couple of videos, one of PNG and one on Birds of Paradise.

Sources:

Article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papua_New_Guinea

http://www.traveller.com.au/have-you-visited-australias-closest-neighbour-papua-new-guinea-ghfi04

http://www.10-facts-about.com/papua-new-guinea/id/898

http://www.factsking.com/countries/papua-new-guinea/

https://papuanewguineacasestudy.wikispaces.com/Learn+More+about+Papua+New+Guinea,+Fun+Facts!

http://travelpost.noble-caledonia.co.uk/articles/papua-new-guinea-interesting-facts-travel-tips

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird-of-paradise

Photos:

http://missionpng.com/PNGScene.htm

https://pucpng.wordpress.com/

http://www.globaldivingadventures.com/expedition-papua-new-guinea/

Note: This post has been written for IndiSpire Edition 116: ‘Choose a country you don’t know much about. Now read up/ research about it. And tell us something interesting about it. Can be anything – history, politics, music or whatever tickles your fancy.  #DiscoverACountry’

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the most ritualistic of them all?

Question Mark

It has become fashionable these days to question anything and everything related to beliefs and sentiments of Indians, especially anybody of knowledge or way of living handed to us by our earlier generation. Sadly it’s the Indians who indulge in this activity more than westerners. ‘In this age’…. Wow, I like the phrase, it makes me feel like mortality has been conquered, Planets unknown until recently have been colonized, India has become the richest and the most equitable country in the universe, Elephants and Apes are signing in Opera Houses, Humans have stopped unleashing hell on each other in the name of ideology and men have started giving birth to babies. None of the above have become true and the fact is that this age is not much different from the by-gone ones.

It seems to me that to some us anything that our elders taught us is ritualistic, burdensome and not relevant anymore. Going to a place of worship on an auspicious day…. That’s too ritualistic. Touching the feet of our elders… that is so uncool. Living in harmony with nature…that’s not relevant to this age. We are quick and proud to declare that each one of these is just a solace to fight our fears and insecurities. We are one hundred percent sure that our ancestors were delusional crackpots who made our life miserable by making us dance to the tunes of meaningless rituals. ‘To Hell with the Rituals.’

Well, let’s look at some of the super-cool episodes from the rational life and ultra-modern age of ours. When a bunch of friends want to meet, the place that we choose is most often a bar and we can’t discuss about the happenings in our life without gulping a few glasses of alcohol. Does this not sound like a ritual? When a bunch of youngsters want to travel bike from one place to another, they have to ride without wearing helmets, have to over speed on the roads and honk horns like hell. Does this not sound like a ritual? Any new movie has to be watched on the day of its release and we have to perform abhishekam to the hero’s cutout wasting either our or our parent’s hard earned money. Does this not sound like a ritual?  Smoking has become so integral to the act of colleagues taking a break from work for a chat, that the session is popularly called as ‘Sutta Socializing Session.’ If this is not a ritual what else would you call as a ritual?

Oh let’s not forget our trips to malls and shopping therapies every single weekend. How about evening after evening spent watching IPL, ISL and Pro Kabbaddi matches? How about a ‘Facebook Like’ for every random post by our friends and ‘Updates on Twitter’ for every trivial action of ours? How about compulsory selfies at get-togethers? What about the mother of all modern day rituals – Valentine’s Day Celebration? Isn’t showering lover or spouse with cards, gifts, flowers and lavish dinners at upscale restaurants on one particular day every year a ritual?

The fact is Beer Bash, Valentine’s Day Celebration and Over Speeding on Roads are as much ritualistic as visiting a place of worship or fasting for religious reasons. The last two are rituals that have been handed down to us and the first three are the ones that we ourselves have added to the list. Nothing more and nothing less. The reasons attributed to each one of them may vary. The demographics of the population indulging in each of these activities may vary as well. Value systems, aside each of these rituals is a method to the madness for traversing through the chaos called Life. The Indian way of life is very flexible. After all we are not a nation that restrict our political sphere to only two political parties. We have hundreds of languages and multiple religions. We have as much choice possible in most issues that are important to us. What matters is that each one of us rationally chooses a way of life that is meaningful and provides satisfaction to us. What is even more important is not to mock, ridicule or look down upon the way of life that is suitable to another person. Let’s make ‘Mutual Respect to Each Other,’ the foundation for our ‘Indian Way of Living.’

Note: This post is written for IndiSpire – Edition 115: ‘We Indians give too much importance to rituals…visiting a temple on a particular day, fasting for religious reasons…are these relevant in this age? Or they are just a solace to fight our fears and insecurities? #rituals

My Blogging Story

I created my first blog on ‘Blogger’ platform and named it as ‘Eastern Sputnik.’  Sputnik means ‘travelling companion,’ since I was interested in travelling and am from the eastern world I gave the above said name to my blog. A colleague of mine mentioned to me at that time that the name does not make much sense; however in order to avoid going in a tangent, let me skip that discussion. My first post was ‘Religion – Should we Believe in it or not!’ I continued publishing posts on this blog though only very sporadically; in all I published only 11 posts from March 2007 to May 2010 and I had only 2 followers, both of them my friends. Then I completely forgot about blogging.

After a long hiatus I decided to get back to blogging. But instead of continuing at my blogspot blog, I decided to create a new one at WordPress (based on the advantages that WordPress offered over Blogspot). I named the blog as ‘Yogi’s Blogosmos’ a combination on Blog and Cosmos. I posted my first post ‘Success’ on October 19, 2014. I use this as a personal blog to post personal narratives, book reviews, free-verse & haiku poems and photos. I have posted 105 posts including this one and so far I have 91 followers. One of the biggest motives of starting a blog is to get into a habit of writing. But soon I realized that not everything that I write is fit to be posted. Hence I started maintaining a journal to scribble whatever comes to my mind and then I decided on which ones to post to my blog.

Based on a friend’s advice, I enrolled in IndiBlogger to popularize my blog. At the start of the year I decided to use the prompts posted in ‘IndiSpire’ to write blog posts. After religiously writing based on these prompts, I found that some of the prompts are not to my liking and are not in my interest areas. These days I check the IndiSpire prompt every week and if I find that interesting then I publish a post based on the prompt like this post which is based on IndiSpire edition 114: ‘Tell us your blogging story. When did you start? Why did you start? Everything.’

At the beginning of the year I made a resolution to publish at least two blog posts a week. I have been falling back on that target. Discipline is still a big issue when it comes to blogging or maintaining my journal. I am happy with the progress that I have made so far but I also realize that there is a long way to go. Blogging has given me a platform to publish my thoughts and helped me to improve my writing skills. As a result of trying earnestly to improve my writing skills, this year I had my first piece of published work in an anthology. I have come a long way on my writing journey which has been an enjoyable and exciting one so far.