Browsing articles in " Arts and Literature "

Seeking Wisdom in Tribal Storytelling

There was a beautiful girl called Ramenhawii who was famous for her very long hair. All the young men in the village desired her but none could win her favour. One day she was washing her hair in the river, a fish swallowed her hair. A strand of the hair found its way to the plate of the king of the valley as he was being served dinner by the palace cook. Filled with curiosity at the sight of the beautiful hair the king ordered his guards to look for the owner of the hair as he wished to make her his queen. After a long search, the guards at last found the place where the girl lived but they were unable to approach her as she lived protected by barricades around her.

“Oh! Please tell us at least your name” implored the king’s guards.

She replied: ‘No name, no name have I, I live on pure water, I live on pure vegetables.’

Mizo tale of “Ramenhawii.”

“If the end of nineteenth century underlines the distressing effects of industrial revolution and colonialism, the end of twentieth century witnesses the emergence of two paradoxical processes: (i) globalization: a process that cuts across the boundaries of nations, cultures and societies privileging a move towards larger integration of the world and facilitating interdependence moving towards a global culture; and (ii) resistances to globalization: in the form of a vehement articulation of the local  for preservation of indigenous cultures and identities,” writes Kailash C. Baral, Director of Northeast Campus of the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL) at Shillong in his essay Globalization and Tribes of  Northeast India . There is no escape from the emerging reality that the ‘Global Village’ is a community stripped of all heterogeneity of cultural and traditional flows of life – life here is equated with economic aspirations of market that sell a pipe dream of prosperity while hiding the bleak future. And such realization cannot be disposed off anymore as alarmist.

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Simple Elegance to Wonderful Complexity – A journey (Part 1)

Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.
—Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature

When I was a 5 year old kid, there used to be a popular brand of barley sold under the name ‘Purity Indian Barley’. Though barley is a very useful and widely consumed cereal and known for its health benefits, my early memory of it is dreadful because the barley soup that my mother used to feed me tasted like high quality dish washing water.

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Kallenbach Letters – What if Gandhi was Gay?

MY DEAR FRIEND,

I feel like crying out to you ‘Do come  and  help  me!’  Mrs. Gandhi is again down with her swellings. She has lost all power of resistance. She weeps like a child, is ever angry with me as if I was the party responsible for her swellings. I am over head and ears in work. This  institution  costs  me  much  trouble.  I  wish  I  had  the  time  to describe to you the troubles I am passing through. I am not dejected but I feel lonely. You know what I mean. Heaven knows what will happen. There are so many sick people on the Farm. I want hours of solitude and have not a minute of it. Do ‘buck up’ and prepare for the struggle of the spirit when you are able to come here.

I know nothing about some honour  that has been  conferred upon me. I have just received a letter of congratulations. More in my next.

With love,

OLD FRIEND

From the original: Gandhi-Kallenbach Correspondence. Courtesy: National Archives of India

India Government has bought the whole collection of mementos, documents and letters between Hermann Kallenbach and M.K.Gandhi from Sotheby’s in a private deal at $ 1.28 Million fueling  speculation of an attempt to keep the private relationship of nation’s father-head secret, which some say, was homosexual or homoerotic.

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Earth Day 2012 on top of the World

I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests

Pablo Neruda

It was almost 9.30 p.m  as Jan Shatabdi Express from Delhi sluggishly rolled in alongside Dehradun. I left the comfort of the air conditioned chair-car, anticipation eating into me and was breathing the familiar Indian Rail station smell. No, I did not grow up in this town and my poetry is novice. But I am in eternal tug and pull between hill and river; I saw life in great river country of Bengal and fell in love with it. Yet Himalaya with its lofty heights and ancient stories beckoned me all my life. Presently, on this railway platform, I was going to meet a friend whom I have not seen with my eyes. It could not get any more exciting!

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Limits To Growth And Beyond – Part 1

In my post ‘ Darker side of growth ’ in European Journalism Centre I asked a question: In a pond if lotuses grow such that every next minute they double and if this minute the pond is half full, how long will it take for the lotuses to fill the pond?

While it sounded like a quiz to some, I intended to impress my readers about the scary aspect of exponential growth in any finite system. Such growth is certainly runaway and anything designed to grow in that manner is easily unsustainable. I cannot take Kenneth Boulding lightly. Meanwhile I found a more impressive audio visual way to carry the message home.

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A Truth Of Folly

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.

Bhagavad Gita

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When Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900), a Sanskritist at Oxford was speaking of Indians as “our elder brethren”, much to the displeasure of the colonial and missionary authorities who ruled India, he hardly knew his idea could spark off a meme that would, in a span of 100 years, challenge the Nehruvian ideal of a Secular Democracy for India. Many British administrators despised the dark-skinned natives, while Christian priests were horrified by their “idolatrous errors, senseless mummeries… and bloody barbarous sacrifices”. The popular belief of the West had been that the Colonial West represented a racial supremacy over the Indian people in the east but this belief drew strength from a much recent Christian world view and 200 year history of Industrial revolution.

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Darjeeling – The Fallen Queen

Though some British East India Company officials stayed in the village of Darjeeling in 1828 and considered the place suitable for a sanatorium for British soldiers, the remote hilly village might not have turned into a hill city of international repute had the Sikkim Chogyal not imprisoned the British East India Company Director Arthur Campbell and explorer botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1849. This ensured a rescue operation by the British and a renewed interest for this ‘home-like’ territory and by 1866 it came to exist in its present shape and form as a hill station. Read more >>

Wayside Story

The News

Men have always been the ones who are supposedly genetically and psychologically geared for a no-strings-attached sex life. And there’s a reason why ‘getting lucky’ is usually something a guy boasts about in the locker room. But things are changing and today’s Indian woman is slowly moving away from the ‘touch me not’ syndrome, where even if she did indulge in a physical relationship, she had to assuage the ‘guilt’ by assuring herself that the man in her life was there for keeps. “Now, sex is not taboo anymore. Everyone’s indulging in it. In this scenario, young girls, too, are talking about sex and initiating casual encounters quite unabashedly,” notes Mumbai social psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty. Read more >>

A Calcutta Theater Group, Nandikar , is presently staging a drama named ‘ Mulya Ferat’ . This is a Bengali adaptation of the original play ‘Refund’ (1938) by Hungarian  author, playwright, poet, journalist, and translator Fritz Karinthy (also known for his Six Degrees of Separation concept). The main protagonist of the play, Janardan in the Bengali play (Wasserkopf in the original play) is a disgruntled middle aged man who realizes that his education has not taught him anything worthwhile to make a living and he comes back to his school to demand refund of his tuition fees. His seemingly absurd yet justified demand comes to the fore as a self searching question about our education systems in a hilarious mix of the trepidations on the part of the teachers and the protagonist’s strife ends with a cunning scheme by a mathematics teacher who shows that the protagonist has after all attained a skill since he correctly calculated his refund. Read more >>

The Immortality Question

This post is inspired by a talk by Dr. Harvey Fineberg , ex-Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and a medical ethicist (see below for the full video of the talk) and works of Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey but based broadly on the works of Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans, an experienced investor, entrepreneur and scientist who co-founded RxGen, a pharmaceutical services company. These are fascinating men, each can shake your belief system fundamentally – so watch out! Incidentally, Juan calls himself a futurist. Read more >>

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All opinions are solely those of the author. Reader's discretion necessary for using any of the contents of this website. (c) Pabitra Mukhopadhyay 2011
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