Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The History of Mathematics - Book Review

Maths has always been a hot topic in my household. South-Indian, you see. It is an indispensable part of our life right from the beginning. If Swaraj is the birth-right that Lokmanya Tilak was so fond of, Maths is the birth right of every South-Indian family. If you cannot score centum in Maths means there is some serious mistake in your genetics. Hence, the fact that you need to be a pro in Maths glared so bright that it blinded our vision. If you wanted to move ahead without faltering, you had no choice but to ace the subject.  There is a saying ‘we can hate it but cannot ignore it’. I can see you nodding at this and that is what exactly Maths is all about. The subject is everywhere and you cannot ignore. Right from our accounts, daily grocery shopping, maintaining bills and so many other sundry things, it highlights its glorious visage left, right and center.
I can still hear my mother scream,” Does your one cup rice have 3 cups of water?”, when I was shutting the lid of my pressure cooker. I shuddered with fear. “Oh heavens, Maths cannot stop interfering in my life. It has entered in my kitchen too”, I went on sotto voce.
When did Mathematics take birth? What was the genesis of it? How did it spread across so many civilizations and what was the contribution of each civilization to the rise in the knowledge of this subject? How many of us have tried to find out the answers? Curiosity brought me to Archana Sarat’s “The History of Mathematics” which covers variety of aspects that one wants to know about its origin.
‘The History of Mathematics’ comprises of 26 tales that marks the origin of parts of Mathematics. The author has skillfully crafted the tale surrounding the history and facts through proper research. The book undoubtedly shows that the subject is very close to author’s heart.
Sharing some snippet of the stories I liked from the book:
I liked the story of ‘Tally Marks’ very much. I have often wondered why this horizontal line is drawn across the 4 vertical lines. Tally marks help save time and east out the process of counting. The story narrows the minutest detail of its origin and how the fifth line cuts through making it look like a barred gate.  That’s a brilliant way to put it and teach the children without getting into the point of confusion.
I felt the story ‘Much ado about nothing’ found it quite interesting. It gives an idea about how civilizations were open minded about sharing and accepting the new knowledge that they came across. There was a great amount of sharing new ideas between civilizations like Indus, Mesopotamia, China and India in terms of Mathematics to broaden their horizons and make the life easier than it was. 
The story that I felt little bit exaggerated is Akkad feels cold. As compared to the other stories which flow very naturally, this one offers more fictional air. Nevertheless, it tickles our funny bones by the way the tale is told.
The excerpt I found amusing:
“They don’t know that I have adjusted the strings of my lyre to follow mathematical proportions. It will be too hard for them to accept my explanation that music and mathematics go together. I believe that only mathematics and music can purify one’s soul.”
Music and Mathematics go together. Every harmony that string produces is a work of mathematics and the above lines expressed by one of the finest mathematicians vouch for that.

 The History of Mathematics’ will make you come to it again and again and take in the sweet essence of it. This book is not only for adults but it can also be read and understood by children. It can make an excellent book-club selection as it has the ability to draw deep discussions, bring on more ideas, assimilate them and even regale the tales within. It will also serve as a wonderful collection for teachers to keep in their class library.
You do not need to be a Mathematical genius or a subject matter expert to read this book, as Archana says “you are already a Mathematician”.
Having read author’s previous book ‘Birds of Prey’, which was completely a different genre based on psychological thriller, I picked up this book the minute I set my eyes on it. I love Archana’s way of storytelling as she completely brings life-like images of a particular scene to the reader’s eyes. The story revolves around many civilizations which contributed significantly in expanding the breadth of Mathematics. Our very own Indian civilization has been a pioneer in many mathematical concepts and helped Arabs and the western countries to adapt those concepts. My chest swells with pride having known that so many Mathematicians and Astronomers originated from India but at the same time I feel bad knowing some of them leaned on to the religious beliefs and fabricated the concepts keeping in mind the interests of society.
If you love Mathematics and want to know how its concepts came into existence, with brilliant stories giving a background of each concept, rush to a nearest store and pick Archana Sarat’s ‘The History of Mathematics’. Great content with beautiful expression of thoughts will surely delight you.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Mindfulness - All you want to know

Mindfulness. The word has made a buzz recently because of ever increasing stress on her lives. The busy days, deadlines, meetings, college exams, school projects, extra-curricular classes and what not. The list is endless. The common factor which unites these things enlisted is none other than time. Time is a greatest equalizer and we cannot hold back even one second out of the 24 hours. So where is the time to include mindfulness? Can it exist in our schedule? How does it fit? Time to think, ponder, internalize and put into action.

That day when my trainer said something which came as a shock to some and surprise to many. The idea of 50 suryanamaskars was standing huge and tall in front of me. It was like a mountain to be conquered. But I thought that as a challenge and accepted it with full might. The day came and we all were looking at each other, smiling, chitter chattering, and giggling among ourselves. Everyone was wondering whether it would be easy or we will leave it right in the middle. But after the warm up, when we started our prayer to commence our task of getting to 50. My mind became one with my body. I brought all my senses together and started to focus on first Suryanamskar. I breathed with every move. And I saw that my body became one with my mind. The heaviness of other 49 got lifted from my shoulders and the thought of one at a time overpowered my senses. I achieved even the 49 suryanamaskars with ease as if I have started the first one. 

The idea of one at a time with all my mind into it excited me. This is what mindfulness is to me. Why should we give so much importance to other 49 if we are starting off with 1? 49 is the mental load that we carry which is helpful enough to increase the stress and build the pressure so don’t bother about it. Think each number as 1 till you get to that number 49. In other words, think each work as this is the one thing which you have to do it now, at this point in time. Put your heart fully into it. Engage yourself in every minute detail of the work. And finish that task efficiently. Slowly you will see the dramatic surge in your productivity and efficiency. Then move on to another task. This will not only get you to finish the task but also you will do it without stress. Anything without stress will always give you satisfaction and that task will be looked at as remarkable achievement.

Mindfulness is nothing but one work at a time minus stress and more of focused thought. This will not only help in your schedule management, work management, and meeting every deadline or striking all the points in your bullet journal but it will help you lead a healthy lifestyle or holistic lifestyle in other words. Your mental health as well as professional health will automatically gain more brownie points.

Mindfulness is the art of embracing the moment and enjoying it wholeheartedly. Our lives are full of tensions and stress which we carry throughout the day and most of the worries are caused by mindlessness. We often forget about pausing the moment, staying in it totally, breathe freely with the task and finish it thoroughly keeping all the minute details into account. By multitasking we just do all the work and take pride in it but often the nitty gritty of the work is left unseen. This is seen in maximum moms be it office going moms or stay at home moms.

Motherhood is beautiful journey but it is surrounded with lot of expectations, responsibilities, judgements, guilt and accountability towards your kids all the time. Being a center point for all these factors often leaves you exhausted, frustrated, vulnerable and further leading to mindlessness. We can try to avoid that by being more alert, more focused and getting things done in our way. Moms are always judged by how they treat or carry themselves. If one is giving some time to their looks or wellness, they are often misjudged as selfish, being more concerned to ones looks or prioritizing self vis a vis the children. This thought is being ingrained in our system and tradition so it takes a village of strongminded women to set it right. So it is not at all bad or wrong to give importance to one’s looks and body as if you look good and feel good, you will be more confident and confidence will help you achieve better, enhance the connection with your babies, improve mood and face each day with a broad smile.

 Also take ‘me time’ often which is the time you give to yourself. It can be 10 minutes of listening to your favorite song, reading books, playing a musical instrument, painting, going for a walk in the garden, socializing with your neighbor or just speaking to your friend. Get your shoes on and walk the path of ‘me time’ every day and see the difference you give to your life. It will only improve the mindfulness and awareness to the everyday situations as they are and your response to it.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Coorg Diaries

Coorg historically known as Kodagu is a place to be definitely placed in the “To travel” list. It is a beautiful place with magical setting situated on top of the hills. The view is breathtaking at all levels. This is one of the alluring place and I am sure it will leave you speechless with its cool climes, historical significance such as ancient monasteries (Tibetan and Buddhist) and the fetching views of valleys. Coorg is 3 hour drive from Mangalore, Print capital of India. It is approximately 145 kms from Mangalore whereas 100 kms from Mysore. Mysore is the closest railway station and you can club the trip visiting most popular Mysore palace and Ooty. While it is run of the mill for the local folks out there, it was exotic for us. One cannot bring the view and experience in one’s camera but one has to truly be in that situation to embrace the magical delight that a place offers. Definitely a no frill village reveling in the basics, but it offered us an exquisite artistic beauty to our thirsty eyes.

Our Stay – Hotel Le Coorg in Madikeri ( Mercara in English)

Hotel Le Coorg nestles in the foothills of Coorg and stands tall with its modern setting amidst the blanket of nature. The rooms are very well maintained. The building is well planned and serves as a delight to stay with your family. The breakfast here is well thought and prepared with keeping everyone’s interest in mind. To say the menu and the spread is diverse and suitable for north and south food lovers as it is designed keeping both the tastes in mind. The staff is very courteous and goes out of the way to bring you the best. The welcome kit has fruits mainly bananas and pear. You are offered a cup of hot coffee once you land there. The level of hospitality offered by each and everyone here is truly a customer delight in every sense.

Places we saw

1.       Raja Seat

This is located near our Hotel and served as a delight for the days we stayed there. The name Raja seat comes from a story which dates back to centuries and centuries ago. The kings used to take their queens out to this significant place to relax and spend their time with each other. The monsoon adds to the already delicious flavor as the valley is shrouded by fine mists and the rolling clouds take over the green hills. The heaven itself is descended and place its shine on the valley it seems. The lovely sunset view is the most promising view and crowds throng in the evening to get a taste of it. The garden overlooking the valley, huge lawns, the places to click pictures and pose are some ingredients which make this recipe of Raja Seat worth grabbing a bite.

2.       Thalacauvery

Thalacauvery or the birth place of river Cauvery was some 35 kms odd from our hotel. We hired a rickshaw to take us to this place which is 8 kms from Bhagmandala. The small pond which has the Cauvery river water is eneveloped by huge building structure with flight of stairs taking us to the temple. The small temple is placed right in front of the pond and worshippers offer flowers, take blessings, do some puja and sprinkle the holy water on their heads. The weather was lovely. Sun was slighted by the wintry climate but the rays were making their presence felt on us.

3.       Bhagamandala

Bhagamdala is the place where Triveni Sangam( the unison of three rivers namely Kannike, Cauvery and Sujoti) is. The point of confluence is magical and as per the information from local folks, one of the river water is underground and the mouth of that source is unknown. It is called as Gupt Gamini due to its mysterious presence. The temple situated in front of this sangam is Bhagandeshwara. The lord shiva is celebrated and worshipped and the place looks like its dates back to eons ago as the structure of the buildinh, setting and the atmosphere looked very traditional.

4.       Abbeys Falls
      Abbeys falls is the major waterfall and stands tall in the list of important places to see in Coorg. It was raining cats and dogs when we reached this place. It was beautiful and a great deal of excitement surged among us when we had to take a flight of stairs (Huge block of stairs to say) to get close to the falls. It was flooded with people clicking selfies, pictures and videos of the falls. Local folks told that the water from the falls are not conducive to get drenched or wet or bathe as there were many fatal incidents occurred earlier. In William Wordsworth’s words “When water rolls out from the mountain springs, there comes a sweet inland murmur.”  He adds, landscape gets connected with the quiet of the sky. This will not be termed as meddling or an interference but a synergy of two things that multiplies the natural effect in a bigger scale.

5.       Madikeri Fort
The fort is situated on the hills and has a unique structure.  It was founded by Mudduraja in some 17th century as per the local folks. The fort houses a beautiful palace .The Madikeri museum was built right next to it but it was closed that day so we couldn’t get to see the artistic renditions of the artists located in Kodagu.

6.       Omkareshwara Temple

This temple is 2 kms from our hotel. We chose to take a walk to the destination but that was a wrong call. The temple is situated pretty downhill and the path is very steep so you need lot of patience and stamina to engage in the walk. Nonetheless, the temple is very pretty with its presence in the locality close to nature. The pond encircling the river renders a sight that you would want to carry home. The golden doors, the lovely structure of the temple will pull you towards it at least couple of times during your stay. The advantage of walking to this place is you can watch those beautiful houses coming on your way. The huge bungalow sized houses with its quaint feel and setting will serve as an escape from busy urban life.

7.       Raja Tomb

As the name goes, there are three tombs built in this place. A beautiful well planned and maintained garden overlooks the tomb giving it a palatial view. It is some 15 mins from Raja Seat and was very close to our hotel. It is popularly known as Gadhige.

Food stories

We stopped over at BMS on our way to Coorg and on our way back to Mangalore Airport. It is 20 mins from Mangalore airport. The huge building which has a restaurant and lodging is well built and surrounded by palm leaves. The restaurant offers delicious south Indian food. In our stay, the biggest boon came in the form of Swaad Restaurant which is just a stone throw from our hotel.  The food is very child friendly specially if you are travelling with a toddler, it becomes a go to place for lunch and dinner as they offer fully cooked rice, not so spicy sambar, the vegetable( oh they don’t charge for every extra veggie and sambar bowl, at least they did not with us), and a sweet dish. This mentioned menu is for children. For adults, you get a sumptuous thali (full meal plate). There are also other options available but we stuck to this more often. The people here are very nice indeed and go out of the way to bring you the best.

Few delights we came across with while we engaged in our evening walk which became a ritual during our stay.

Colorful flowers adorns every balcony of the rustic houses which are built very strategically. The vibrant blooms peeking out from the window, the climbers flowing out and figuratively blends with the bricks and structure, the plantations of coffee, pepper and rubber, the variety of family run homestays, riverside locales and many more things, all in the lap of nature will push you to believe and wonder if this quaint village is drawn out of a children’s folk tale.

A place generally becomes sought after, for its people, the view, the food and its simplicity. I promise you that these items that I mentioned will definitely be in your plate named as Coorg. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

An Evening at Martin’s Inn Resort

It was a sultry evening. I sat with my cuppa of masala chai in front of the calm view. The nature had painted quite a beautiful view. The flight of birds were heading to their destination and some of the birds were neatly perched themselves in midst of the branches of the tall palm trees. The rustling of leaves of the palm trees added a musical delight to my ears. The sun was hitting my balcony and I was bathing in the warmth of it. The distant sound of waves clashing the edges of the cliffs augmented the existing magic. I strained my neck to see the sun entering the horizon. Like Pablo Neruda says, every evening in the balcony of the sea, a fire is born, wings open. The ball of fire was clearly visible and I could imagine the sweat stewed hours that it put the whole day to shine down on us, to illuminate the dark corners of the world and also acting like a silent admirer of green blanket of nature. Music is the most alive of all forms of art and I heard it through the action of birds, waves, and the tiny tots. The gouged lawn in front of our resort was the eye catching element and I could smell the globe of petals withdrawn from the flowers of the trees even from distance. The local folks were rushing to their own place after finishing their daily chores and duties. The cuckoo sitting on the tree was busy cooing and making a sonorous sound. Such was the atmosphere. Fresh, clean and so virgin ready to lose it all for the mankind. The tryst with nature lasted for few more seconds before I heard a loud cry of my girl. I sat my tea on a chair and went inside to pick her up. Bringing her to the balcony, I showed her the true magic of Mother Nature and her kindness.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The lost art of writing letters

Festive season was here. The city was sparkling and glowing with lights, lamps and candles. Every nook and corner was brimmed with festive atmosphere. The exchange of pleasantries, packing the goody bags for special someone, the sweets and cakes on stores were the highlight. To top it all the events and soirees were pretty much a delight and icing on the cake. The decorations and organizing games took a front seat and not a single life felt isolated and withdrawn. The city was admired for the energy and joie de vivre. 

In the midst of all this, one tends to feel the height of glory and one always gets charged up.  I too felt the tidal wave of varying mixed emotions in my heart and felt the need to express my gratitude to my set of loved ones. So at the end of the day when the year 2016 was on the verge of getting to the point of shutting down its curtain, I ended up writing letters. In the days of social media, a letter may seem obsolete, trash and outdated to many but I can never get rid of the old charm that only a letter offers.

A letter is like opening the eyes of our heart and showing its true essence and nature with a personalized touch. In a world of communication where technology is a breakthrough and has opened up so many doors that a person doesn’t feel distant to their loved ones anymore, letters take a backseat and often seen as a backward means of channeling your thoughts and ideas to the opposite person. But I felt it is the lost art which is worth bringing back. Therefore I wrote. Firstly, it thrilled me to a great extent.

 The prospect of sharing those ideas by bringing it to the pen gave me a joy that knew no bounds. The ink when touches the paper, those scribbling and overwriting few words, making a subtle nuances to the alphabets was unparalleled to the pressing of alphabets in the keyboard or pressing the send key in the messenger.

Going back to literature, letters hold a significant or rather coveted position in bringing two lovers together. A person’s rejection or acceptance depends on the manner in which the letter has been written. Letters were a common literary vehicle used to correspond. Many of the literary works include letter writing as a personal favorite. For example, In Austen’s Emma, the iconic work of the author, when Harriet smith comes running with a letter from Mr. Martin, Emma Woodhouse quickly asks her how great the letter is, and how is the length of the letter. The relationship formed through letters, it was held together through letters and lasted because of those letters.

I would like to quote the piece in New York times which is written by Catherine Field :
“A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.

Following to the above passage, creativity lured in the corners of letters. A good letter was a blue print of an investment of good stationery, pretty piece of paper, and beautiful supplies.

The wait of receiving a letter was always a comfort giving, breathtaking and curiousity driven. There was a rush in our heart and minds when we saw the letters in mailbox. One waited to get back home and read those. The great excitement and thrill were the elements that letters brought out within us. The handwritten words and pictures meant a lot. Often the person’s state of mind was visible through their well- organized words, writings, and striking of a sentence.

In all the BBC period dramas and stories, I have often seen letters prove a great deal. The entire day was spent in answering them with detail, precise, and to the point. There was no way a letter was acceptable when it posed ambiguity, lack of clarity and short in means of length. Women would wait for a proper hour to let themselves alone to read the letters. Also the great power that a well handwritten has is remarkable. Think about the letter of proposal that transpired between Elizabeth and Darcy. It had a power that affected two lives dearly.  When we look back, there was a separate genre for letters in novels. Epistolary indeed! It was wholly engaged in writing a piece of work using letters as a central ideas. To name few of those kind which were exceedingly successful were Bridget Jone’s Diary, Letters to Juliet, The Princess Diaries, The Perks of being a wallflower and Last Days of Summer.

Growing up, I have often seen people write letters in special occasions. We have experienced the joy and anxiety too as our family used to receive letters to the distant cousins and relatives. It talked of happiness, good tidings and good health. Even the marriage preparations were discussed. So ours was an era where letters lived and relished in the comfort of human hands which generation next could hardly get a taste of.

Not only this vintage communication connected war separated lovers, or used for deliver news but every beats of life were unabashedly discussed. Therein, approbation and comfort were sought in one another.

The increasing speed of technology rings a death knell to the sweet sounding literature. They are drifting away slowly from our lives. Today, social media have taken correspondence by storm but not to forget that in this gust of storm, letters serve as a fresh whiff of air coming through a narrow channel called heart.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Indrayani Diaries - Part one

Indrayani Diaries – Scroll 1

Like a blooming flower with fresh morning dewdrops, with wet droplets shining on her hair ends was she. No, they were pearls freshly hatched from oysters. She stood unfazed. The moist lips were luscious, so delicate and feathery. She kept on admiring herself with her tresses let loose in front of the golden mirror in her room’s wall. The mirror hung perfectly opposite the east facing of the room enough to let the light of sun enter. It was early morning and the sun had risen very early that day. The lights filtered the drapes and fell on her hair. The hair shone like a thousand stars blanketing the clear night sky. She wore a golden blouse and very thin see through blue sari. She looked like a mermaid enveloped in silk like fabric. She was ready to pull off the sari from her supple untouched skin. Was it untouched or inhumanly touched? She could not fathom. She touched her neck, face, and her lips. And she felt cheated all of a sudden. The sorrow surfaced slowly and a darkness shrouded in her eyes. The tears no longer felt warm but it became ice cold. She saw herself with those expressive eyes. Those eyes where one could easily drown and would not be able to get up. It was a bottomless pit.
She was Indrayani. A girl who equated pain with pleasure, hut with laughs, mornings with nights and curse with gift. What were her thoughts and disappointments in her life? Who was she? What bothered her? Was she married? Was she a virgin? Was she an independent working alpha woman? She was a culmination of everything yet she was in no man’s land. She was an embodiment of beauty. She was a woman of dreams, desires and hopes who loved to be content. She had so many men behind her yet she searched for one person who defined love. The love which will take her breathe away. The love which will make her connect with herself. The love for which she was waiting for.

Indrayani Diaries – Scroll 2
The night was silent and calm. The silence disturbed her. She opened the window to see if her husband has arrived from his workplace. With no hint of arrival, she closed the floral curtains and switched off the light. She couldn’t sleep and turned and twisted. Indrayani got up and leapt from her bed. She opened the chest of drawers and rummaged through the papers and sheets that were carelessly kept inside. She was searching for a letter from her dear friend. A friend who kept on sending her letters but got no reply from the other side. Indrayani did not write to her because of the past which caused a tumult in her heart. Vindhya and Indrayani were best friends right from childhood. They always confided in each other and had stood with each other even in the times of adversity. Especially when Vindhya’s father lost his job and finding very difficult to make the ends meet, Indrayani quickly asked her father who is an industrialist to offer her friend’s father, a job. Vindhya‘s family were forever grateful for Indrayani’s perspicacity and kind heart. Hours and hours pass in a jiffy when they are together and both did not find any need to make any new friends. They were content with each other. The news of wedding came as a delight to Indrayani’s ears. The boy was well educated and of good background and loved her very dearly. Vindhya too was very happy and excited with the arrangements and happenings. For once she thought all this was tantalisingly beautiful and she was in a state of incredulity. Indrayani was with her side throughout the event and stood as a maid of honour for her beloved friend. Everything went smoothly and both the families hugged each other in merriment. But a quick turn of situation arose and the friendship of Indrayani and Vindhya started to take a rough path.
Ashok, Vindhya’s brother has an eye for Indrayani. She never liked him more than a brother and often politely dismissed his thoughts with a smile or a laugh. But he pursued her with all his might. Vindhya noticed the two of them and her brother’s thoughts and chided him saying that Ashok should not trouble her by going after her and he should focus on his medical career. Vindhya had high expectations from his brother and hoped one day that he would become a respectable doctor in the whole town. Vindhya tried with her polite talk and being an elder sister, she even reprimanded and asked him to behave properly but Ashok knew his mind. He wanted Indrayani badly and he loved her and lusted for her. But Indrayani tried very hard to convince him that he meant nothing more than a brother and cannot revert to his feelings. She pitied him sometimes but more than that his ill-mannered ways roused her with anger and frustration.
One day, when Indrayani was sitting alone and waiting for Vindhya in Vindhya’s marital home, She dozed off. And that’s when Ashok entered. He saw her in the sofa. He made advances on her and tried to molest her and assault her. Indrayani’s temper flare and she made a tough attempt to escape from the monster. He was drunk and was not in his senses.
After reaching home, Indrayani locked herself in her bedroom and cried profusely. She was aware of his wayward ways but did not expect him to droop to this level. She was flabbergasted and bewildered, all at the same moment.  Cheap. Holy shit. Non sense. She spew curses on Ashok. The thoughts of his act came to Indrayani like waves. One by one gushing heavily and sweeping her dignity in a second. She thought she will narrate the entire incident to Vindhya.

Present day:

The memories haunted her lie a nightmare. A thick, dark cloud formed in her mind everytime she thought about that day in Vindhya’s house. Storm came the very next day in the form of Ashok’s suicide when he left the note saying how he loved Indrayani and how her wish was not answered. All hell broke loose when Indrayani got to hear about it after she herself suffered from a major trauma of Ashok making advances on her. The incident left a acrid taste on her heart and mind. Vindhya got to know from her and she thouroughly understood and heard everything in equanimity. But Indrayani took every blame on her. Vindhya lost her brother but slowly she was losing her best friend to the guilt that she had not committed. Indrayani shut herself from Vindhya completely and came back to Mumbai after marriage. None of the letters were answered and calls were received. But today, as she was flipping those letters, the words and expressions brought back to her the feelings unknown. She tightly pressed each and every written word on the pages and took in the moist feelings they once shared.  She was swamped with the surge of sadness and happiness by seeing those letters. The handwritten letters had that effect that it could stir even a stone hearted man.

She took out the paper and pen and started writing a detail letter to her friend. She spoke about her life, family and her desires. The happiness which she was searching was not mentioned as she does not want to disappoint her friend. 

Part 2 coming soon

Friday, April 1, 2016

Summer Vacations and the gifts to my students

                  The month of exams have started and is making a huge rush in the blood stream of both students and teachers. Assignments, revisions, reviews, test series and what not. We all wait for this deadly month to get over and wait to welcome the spring of April and the months ahead till June. You know why? To talk about summer vacations is super fun indeed. The way the exams unfold and get over, the way the new month brings in more possibilities, opportunities and wishes. I, as a teacher, crave for this 2 month super fun where only the list of fun activities have a special place. Some children love to travel, some join few activity and skill development classes, and many others stay at home and enjoy the sunset and sunrises. Whatever it is, the calmness and soothing experience of the vacation cannot be unmatched to any other fun in life. Nowadays, technology has taken a priority over anything and children don’t want to get out of the zone of computer, videogames and mobile games. I really miss those days when we used to play outdoors, go to the woods, read library books, tell stories to each other, sit on trees and eat grapes. Such were our days. But the children have forgotten the act of playing outside and want to get trapped inside within the walls that technology has built.

               I even remember when I asked my student that what she does at home as her parents are working. Does she go out to play after school hours? Or does she invite her friends at home and play together? She said I don’t do any of those things as I like being alone. Now this is a serious disorder that our young minds are developing. In this tender age, they want to be alone and feel comfortable with the virtual world. Alone means they are only physically alone but there are many virtual games and friends who keep them engaged. The human to human interaction and being one with the nature have lost their game already. The text and social networking world have tied the young minds and adult minds so tightly that they feel comfort in this new form of captivity. But I don’t want to digress from the topic I thought to write.

Summer vacations give one an opportunity to explore different set of books. The bibliophile find it a best time to indulge in more and more amount of books. The book exchanges, writing blogs on those read stories, building a piece by yourself brings in more fun to the table. So every year as a set tradition by myself, I purchase books for my students. This is a small effort from my side to encourage them to read and involve their time productively. The fiction world is super awesome when he or she feels it. You can travel to many places at the same time, know many things, think new perspectives, and talk on those things with your family members or your peer group. Such is a beauty of books. So this year I chose to give ‘Little women’, ‘To kill a mockingbird’ and ‘Sudha murthy’s short stories.’

There are books which talk of human literature in a humorous way and there are some which give a serious thought to our grey cells through a plot based on children. So I would like to talk about these books which has an interesting theme and all these are plotted differently with a great style.

1.       Little Women – Louisa May Alcott:

 Author Louisa May Alcott has written this novel with a purpose of bringing out her own childhood story. The story is based on a family called March. The family which consists of 4 daughters and a mother and father. The mother takes care of the 4 children while the father serves the army. As I told this story is loosely based on the author herself and her three sisters, the passage from childhood to womanhood is strongly depicted with some sorrowful moments in between. The four daughters are special and talented in their own way. While one is a great and budding artist, the other sizzles in playing music. While one is a bibliophile and immerses and finds bliss in the company of books, the other is a dreamy eyed with a profession of governess. They all get into fights and little wars but manage to get through skilfully. The ending can come as unexpected as you might have expected a different end to the theme but you will not get disappointed as author has mixed drama and reality with elan. Author narrates a gripping tale and values comfort, literature, and the beauty of natural world. Some of the learnings that Mrs. March provides them with speaks the reality of the outer world. Some sorrows bring a sense to their existence and they become a strength for each other like Beth’s illness and the bird’s death. For a writer in me, I find the following quote amusing and inspiring which is I want to do something splendid, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I am dead. I think I shall write books.”

2.       To kill a mockingbird – Harper Lee:

Another one which I gave my students is this yet another brilliant novel which went on to win Pulitzer prize for Harper Lee, the brilliant author of all times. This is set in a sleepy southern town and throws a light to the southern literature. The author draws a parallel between compassion, idealism, and conscience and portrays a novel mixed with childhood, drama and serious element. I love the character Atticus and how the character has a deep seated meaning in this whole novel. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. The above said quote hits a nail and talks more on empathy. In fact the whole novel which talks about how to kill the notion of racism and other social evils that has stuck to our blood and flesh goes beyond the word empathy. Mockingbirds spread joy and are not to be caused harm is a thing which we always knew. An undisputed classic with a message is what this this novel is and surely can qualify to find a coveted place in your book shelf.

3.       How I taught my  grandmother  to read and other stories – Sudha Murthy:

Having gone back to classics and discussing serious aspects, we come to an easy read of a well-known and established author of this generation. This book has total 28 stories and portrays the tiny aspects of humanity and its importance. It is a book written keeping in mind the likes of children and also serves a good company for adults. Here she stresses on hardwork, humility, and sacrifice. The stories which I loved are “Hassan’s Attendance problems”, “Who is Great”, “Gowramma’s Letter”. All in all, an inspiring book for the younger lot and a thought provoking aspects for the older lot.
As everyone knew this that we all are judged by the books we read and the company we keep, the books shape our life and our mind set as does our friends do. Summers are the best way to pamper ourselves with fun, laughter, friends and immense reading. So a tiny motivation from my side to my students and future torchbearers always have helped them to connect with me and their minds at large.