Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Friday, June 26, 2009

michael jackson - RIP

i like michael jackson, mainly for his dancing.
i never could understand pop music lyrics ever.
but his dancing, i loved. it will live on forever. genius level.

he is probably the most copied performer of all time.

but this eulogy (by saswat pattanayak) is the best of all. saswat is by fave left-leaning commentator.
his analysis is outstanding. please do read.

but for me, MJ = Michael Jordan. period.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

name portability

for those who did not notice.
title of blog is now Fun, yeah.

tired of destruction and annihilation.
time for good times.

name difference

Olga Govortsava (Belarus)
Li Na (China)
played their 2nd round match today (25th June).
Li Na won comfortably.

i think it will be a record for the highest difference in the length of the name of 2 opponents.

p.s.: yes. i am quite free these days...

the four agreements

don miguel ruiz's above titled book has some simple and powerful tenets for each individual:
almost a year ago, jayeshbhai read this beautiful list to a group of us. and i remember
writing it down on a hastily torn out sheet for future reference and safely tucking into a book.
but as usual, it gets consigned to its confinement. but its resoluteness is remarkable. this sheet nicely squirms out of its safe confines and floats into my consciousness to remind me of the agreements and to share.

1. Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally:
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions:
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best:
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

courtesy: someone good at something good

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

crazy - is saar cozy in his suit?

the french are known to be impetuous, imperious, and recently... imbecilious.
the ban on burqas is bumbling, baseless and bacchanalian.

i think it stems from the fact the the hijab was not designed by yves st laurent.

Monday, June 22, 2009

enriching soil - charcoal

charcoal mixed with soil is called terra preta.
and this BBC documentary explains how this technique had a remarkable effect in on of the least fertile areas in amazonian south america.
i was led onto this by a very excited DVS.

am surely going to be making this at within 365 days.
here is how i will go about it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

tolstoy on education

What then must we do?” is tolstoy’s social analysis from the 1870s-80s through his experience to try to understand urban poverty (in Moscow) and solutions.

Am just getting started on it, but it is so rich in its analysis and am totally staggered by some of its imports.

For eg, here is his commentary on education…
What the common folk call ‘education’ is, fashionable dress, refined conversation, clean hands, and a particular kind of cleaniliness. Of such a man in contradistinction to others, they say he is an ‘educated man’.

In a rather higher circle they mean by ‘education’ the same that is meant among the people, but to the conditions of ‘education’ are added piano-playing, a knowledge of French, ability to write a Russian letter without mistakes in spelling, and yet more external cleanliness. In a still higher circle by ‘education’ is meant all this, with the addition of a knowledge of English, and a diploma from one of the higher educational institutions, and yet a higher degree of cleanliness. But the first, second and third kind of education are essentially one and the same. “Education” consists of those forms and that knowledge which will separate a man from others. Its object is the same as that of cleanliness – to separate us from the mass of the poor, in order that those cold and hungry people may not see how we make holiday. But to hide oneself is impossible, and they do see.

And thus I became convinced that the reason it was impossible for the rich, to help the town poor, lay also in the impossibility of coming into close touch with them, and that this impossibility we ourselves create by our whole like and by the whole use we make of our wealth. I became convinced that between us – the rich – and the poor there stand a wall of cleanliness and education that we have erected and reared by our own wealth, and to be able the aid the poor we have first of all to destroy that wall, so that we may apply Sutaev’s method of distributing the poor among us. And from this side, too, I reached the same conclusion to which the course of my reflection on town poverty had bought me: that the cause of that poverty is our wealth.
the range of experiments that tolstoy has indulged in his life is quite amazing. here is his experiences as a school headmaster.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

IIPM - shucks, lies and tapeworms

almost exactly a year ago, IIPM was declared a fake university by UGC.
IIPM fought and won a legal battle against the UGC and got themselves off that list.

a latest scoop by Careers 360 have exposed the lies and marketing gimmickry that is IIPM. for the nth time.

thousands of students duped and hard earned parents' money down the drain.
time they are held accountable by the powers that be.

hat tip: abi at nanopolitan

Saturday, June 13, 2009

modakam at madhavashram uphar gruh

madhavashram at girgaum is a lodging hotel which serves simple meals (only dinners).
for over 100 years, this eatery (grade 2 as per the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai - Health Dept) has retained its original design of its founding fathers (check the above link in detail).

tagging along with abodh of straying around, we partook of their special fare last week on the occassion of sankasthi chathurti.

the modakams are legendary and they indeed are divine. the whole meal was just lip smacking.

the good news is that sankasthi chathurti comes every month and i am planning to make this a monthly affair.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

authority destroys

on platform no. 2 at Churchgate station, i read this:
अधिकार विनाशकारी प्लेग के सामन है । जिससे भी छूता है नष्ट कर देता है
adhikaar vinaashkaari plague ke saaman hai। jisse bhi chootha hai nasth kar deta hai.
authority is like the bubonic plague, whoever it touches, gets destroyed.

i fully agree.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

dal switch

may not be an altogether new switch.
while making rasam, we used masoor dal instead of toor dal.
was very good. and masoor cooks much faster.
try it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

the dichotomy of activists

i recently an invitation to a seminar/conference in my mail with this set of facts.
Do you know that,
• closing down of government schools, begun since mid 90s, is now being speeded up?
• government schools are being handed over to corporate houses/NGOs?
• government school system is being demolished, except for elite schools like Kendriya Vidyalayas?
• public finance is being shifted to private capital in the name of ‘promoting’ education?
• Public-Private Partnership is being pushed to set up expensive elite private schools?

Would you believe that the much-hyped Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA),
• promotes a multi-layered school system that exacerbates discrimination among children?
• fragments teacher cadre into parallel layers of varying quality?
• pushes excessive and unsound testing by NGOs at the cost of teaching and learning?
• receives diminishing allocations despite increased mobilization of education cess?
• violates the Constitutional vision of Fundamental Right to Education?
i did not know a few of them. i agree to all the listed items. it is true to the best of my knowledge.
the group was activisting towards a Common School System.
i fully support such a system and i think it is the ideal model for a just and humane society.

i could not attend this seminar, but i heard from a friend on the discussions and deliberations. i was told that rhetoric was the order of the day. that's not the point.

the point is..."How many of these activists send their own children to public schools?"
i would hazard an answer..."None."
For me, this dichotomy is sufficient reason to believe that such activism will fail or corrupt itself.

a story with beautiful irony is here...
Over a decade ago, in June 1997 to be precise, I had covered an agitation of farmers opposed to the acquisition of their lands by the state government to build this very same expressway that would reduce travel time between the cities of Mumbai and Pune. Now, here were the anti-SEZ activists insisting that I use the expressway!
if i had a child, i think i would send her to a government school.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

retraction -> growth ?

till some time ago, i strongly believed that one needs to be a 'local' to work in community development.
this is as opposed to 'imported' workers. it was made in the context of americans doing development work in india.
the following passage was perhaps be my simplistic justification.

Quoted from Bapu Kuti by Rajni Bakshi

The following passage was written by Aruna Roy (IAS officer and then NGO founder at Tilonia and then moving to Devdoongri)
In case of both the government and Tilonia, I saw my role as that of the initiator. I was the ‘catalyst’, the ‘agent for change’, the one who ‘intervened for change’. In other words, the perception was that of myself as the leader,in so much as the action that followed was ultimately traced back to a set of actions for which I was responsible. It may have been an idea or a set of ideas. Gradually I began to understand that the perceptions and ideas exist in different forms in people minds already. What is really needed is the time and space and opportunity for putting them into action. My role was not severely limited in my mind.

If leadership was to be different, then the organisation would also have to be so defined so as to enable the people to manage things themselves. The leadership in people’s organisations has to come from the local areas. The issues, the direction, the priorities must be decided by them. So what in this scheme of things was Aruna’s role?

I was going to an area where I was an outside. I would never be able to understand the area quite as well as a local person. But I also had a special set of experiences and a critique of development processes born out of varied experiences. I was born in to a class which still remain powerful and dominated decision making. I provided links with an understanding of that class. So I was useful to the local people.

I had developed a personal preference for simple ascetic living. I felt that one could not work with the poor unless one lived with them as one of them. It was important for me to share the lifestyle physically too. It was important for me to lead a life in harmony with myself. So see the work and living as a continuum. This kind of lifestyle facilitates a different communication, where the people see you as more accessible. Finally when the people who you work with see the mutual dependencies for living and security there is a much greater sense of equality that permeates relationship.
i entirely agree with aruna roy. she simply states that the 'import' has to assimilate themselves into the locality to start being meaningful.
it is possible.
it has not happened very well in the past and even in the current contexts i used. but that cannot be any justification for the earlier stance.

so in a progression of sorts(!), i have retracted my earlier position and believe that anyone, irrespective of their race and religion and language, can be meaningful in any community, as long as they are able to follow aruna's example.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

focus on the battles within

the media has been over the top with the shrill coverage of the indian students attacks in australia and the release of the hafiz sayyed of the JuD.

most of the same shrill seekers of justice and fairplay in the legal system mutely ignore the excesses happening in our own courtyard.
the crimes against our very own brothers and sisters by our very own elected governments.
since binyak sen was released on bail a few days ago, tehelka cover storied the rampant injustice meted out thus in dantewada.
THIS IS Dantewada, a remote district in the south Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. The man in white is Himanshu Kumar, a Gandhian human rights activist from Meerut who has been working in Dantewada for 17 years. And the war is an old triangular one: between the State, the Naxals, and the tribals — cleft violently from within by the infamous government-sponsored Salwa Judum.
himanshu is crushed mercilessly.
On 17 May, a day after the Lok Sabha election results, a police force of over 500 surrounded Himanshu’s Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, ten kilometers from Dantewada town. He was given half an hour to wrap up two decades of work. Then, the bulldozers moved in. They broke everything: home, dispensary, dormitories, training halls, kitchen, telephone towers (sanctioned by the government itself), swing, even a lone hand-pump that was the only source of clean water for the villages around.
Demolished is a poor word. Erased is more accurate: erased with an implacable anger: an obscene violence. There is nothing there but crushed cement and strewn papers. A tiny pink crocus that has escaped the bulldozers droops in the heat. For 17 years, Vanvasi Chetna Ashram had functioned as a kind of fine nerve connection between the tribals and a forgetful State. Come from distant Meerut and Delhi, painstakingly learning Gondi, Himanshu and Veena had focused on teaching tribals about their entitlements, traveling on foot into villages deep inside the forests, slowly tugging isolated communities into the democratic system. Building concepts of community monitoring: what government schemes had been announced in their name, how were they to access them, how were they to hold corrupt officials to account, how were they to file FIRs and applications, how were they to demand teachers in their schools. “Our work was to strengthen democracy at the roots,” says Himanshu,
and their strength is continue in the face of such odds is just staggeringly awesome.
His father, 82, a dignified old man (Prakash Kumar had given up college in 1942 to join the Quit India movement; he met Gandhi in Sewagram in 1945. Later, he joined Vinobha Bhave’s Bhoomidan movement. “My father helped give away over 20 lakh acres of land in Uttar Pradesh,” says Himanshu, “but he and I do not possess one acre between us.”), has come to give him moral support. He sits calmly, uncomplaining, amidst the heat and mess. “I fought in the freedom movement. I know truth always prevails, but it takes time and much sacrifice. Himanshu is my only son. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know the road he is on is right. The more consciousness he generates among the tribals, the more they will be able to claim their right to life.”
such battles are perhaps best fought silently with a dignity that defines dignity and with a love that defines love.