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Saturday, June 27, 2009

First video!

My daughter has just made her first full project with Windows Movie Maker, all by herself - no one showed her how to - and using stuff she had on the computer as well as things she had downloaded from the Net. The subject, as you will see, couldn't be closer to my heart. Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Food for thought

On consumerism and its attendant evils, see this article.
On how you can enjoy more while spending less, see this.
And on how one of my all-time favourite authors, Charles Dickens, has suddenly acquired a new relevance and appeal in this day and age, read this.
Those who like to think about serious issues and find food for thought in this blog will, I am sure, enjoy all this reading. And be able to see the connections...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Looking back again...

My blog’s third birthday is coming up. As any avid reader will have noticed, I have been writing steadily if not too much, and keeping that up over three years without a break in the midst of a seven-days-a-week work schedule and trying to run a family well is not an easy thing to do, especially if you take writing seriously. Now it is once again time to take stock.

What am I getting out of it? To start with, this is not a money-making venture; nor is it designed to get some publicity – I don’t need it either for my pocket or for my ego, and in any case hardly any blog-writer earns much publicity unless he or she is famous in the real world already. My only purpose was to share my thoughts, experiences, feelings and opinions on a variety of subjects with like-minded people, mainly old boys and girls who have liked me all along, and their like-minded friends: a way of keeping in touch more meaningfully than you can do on so-called social networking sites on the Net. And what have I got so far?

Well, on the plus side, writing has always been a form of stress-busting meditation for me, a far better way of enjoying whatever leisure time I have than lots of things I see people doing, so in that regard my blog helps me to pursue my hobby happily. I have always been a diary writer (well, at least since I was seven), and now I write parts of my diary on the internet, that’s all. In addition, my blog has put me back in touch with quite a few old friends and ex-students whom I thought I had lost for good. It has won me a few genuine admirers too, both from those who already knew me (but apparently not well enough) and some complete strangers, whose occasional messages of appreciation, congratulation or thanks truly warm my heart. The best of these people keep sending me ideas about what they want me to write about next, and I am thankful to them. It is always a good feeling, too, to know that someone somewhere has been informed, encouraged or comforted by something that I had written.

On the flip side, this experience has taught me to grow a thick skin. The cyberworld, just like the real world, is filled with a lot of unpleasant people: those who have nothing to say, and lots of time to say it – those who are so much at a loose end and hate you so much that they would post abuse anonymously again and again, or assume silly pseudonyms and create temporary blogger profiles only for the strange pleasure of writing abuse, even though they know their comments will hardly ever be read (because I have said here before that I routinely delete comments from anonymous sources and from people with pseudonyms without opening them), leave alone being published. I have learnt to shrug at this phenomenon and carry on as if I haven’t noticed. After all, in this country you have to turn a blind eye to so many things day in, day out – like people peeing by the roadside! I have also learnt (or rather, re-learnt) that it is very hard to find out what people are really like until you criticize them; anybody sounds nice as long as you are praising him or her to high heavens…

But these are not the people who really irritate me. Those who do are the ones who just send in one-liners, like ‘Hi! Nice post…’ or ‘I don’t agree with you.’ Just that, and nothing else. What I would love is genuine debate, something I have again and again mentioned as ‘feast of reason and flow of soul’. A good debate is like a good game; if you play it in the right spirit, it leaves you with a good sweat, and feeling reinvigorated, no matter whether you have won or lost, and you shake hands with your opponent before parting, without hard feelings on either side. And maybe you are even grateful for having been taught something of value in the course of the interaction. Alas, rare is the comment-writer who either understands a debate in that spirit or is keen and able to participate in one. That is one thing I have decided to accept, instead of lamenting all the time, but it’s hard.

So I guess I shall keep on writing, but, as some well-meaning folks have repeatedly told me, I shall write more for my own sake than for anyone else. If some reader doesn’t like it, I humbly ask him or her to stay away; if someone does like something and tells me about it, I shall be grateful as ever.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A warning and apology

It seems that someone hacked my gmail password, because some people have told me in the last few days they have received emails which I couldn't possibly have written. I am sorry if anyone has been given offence of any kind by the 'ghost' writer. I have since changed my password, but I am keeping my fingers crossed: it seems there's no real security on the Net, after all! If someone close to me gets some strange mail supposedly from me, please let me know: in person or over the phone.
You don't have to post any comments on this. This was for your information only.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Gathering dark...

It would be putting it mildly to say that I was horrified to read this news item in today’s newspaper. It would be better to say that I still keep reading the papers daily to see, in Max Weber’s words, ‘how much more of it I can take’.

A young woman in New Delhi conspired with her clandestine boyfriend to kill her mother in a barbaric fashion. This woman is a schoolteacher, and belongs to a 'normal' middle-class family.

Reflection no. 1: It would be worth pondering over what kind of a teacher she must be.

Reflection no. 2: One psychiatrist, who hasn’t examined her, has dubbed her just a criminal, but the police claim that she had been warped and goaded beyond endurance by a mother who had nagged her too badly for too long. Knowing how badly how many kids are nagged and bullied by their mothers all through their childhood and adolescence, I wonder what is the breaking point for a human being… when do all normal taboos and inhibitions break down? I do, do hope that a lot of mothers would read, or somehow get to know about this incident, and reflect on whether they need to mend their ways a bit.

Reflection no. 3: How many people will read this news item and pass over, glibly assuring themselves – ‘Oh, this was just an unfortunate aberration; we are different, and nice and good people, we’d never do things like that’? How few would like to find out (say, by talking to journalists, policemen and doctors/psychiatrists, as I found out in my youth) how frighteningly common such atrocities are all around us? It’s just like every rash driver thinking ‘an accident will never happen to me’, denying the stark reality that he knows a lot of people who have been killed or crippled in accidents, and hears about more such stories all the time!

Reflection no. 4: If this is what people do to their own families, why should anyone be shocked when they do ghastly things as teachers, or politicians, or whatever? After all, they are the same people still, aren’t they?

Reflection no. 5: Would this problem be neatly and fully 'solved' by hanging the murderer and her boyfriend?