Monday, August 31, 2020

Day out with Boys

 Shankar and Azhar were on their way home. They discovered the waterfalls near Ambeshwar and stopped by. 

Biju, Dyu, Mark, and I went along the road and discovered the falls. "After 8.30, Leopard and Bear walk near to the falls. You can go now," cautioned the locals. 

We went in for a swim. And we called it a day when it began to rain. Up, down water everywhere. A swim after a year! Finally. 











Thursday, August 27, 2020

Lonu and I - Role Play

 Today, Lonu taught me Alphabets. We do role play as we meet. I be the kid, she becomes the adult. Listening to her, I can understand what all did she observe from the adults around her. 

She tapped my cheeks and said, Ro. Abhi. Ro. She is often hit by her sister. She wanted to know what it is to beat other children. 

Sab Bandh. Bacho! Ye Pado. A, B, C, D..... And she draws random lines giving out the sounds. 

She handed out the notes to me and asked me to copy them down. While her favorite past time is to watch some random show on Youtube. 

Youtube has such superficial stuff that's numbing the children. Sad. 

It's interesting to read role play and its importance. 



Short Story- The Shelf has it all

Of the giant size of a book shelf comprising encyclopedia, the fantasy fiction, the chick lit novel that accompanied me in the late teens.

Comprising from childhood enid Blyton, classics, to the full volumes of sherlock Holmes collection.

From Nancy Drew to Percy Jackson, the shelves has it all.

Chick lit novels that accompanies in my lates teens, fifty shades of grey that disappointed in great time to sidney sheldon full collection.

A big no to biographies resulted in no place in the shelf.

From the work related books to finally Bhagavad Git which I chanced upon to gain clarity in my burden some clueless life.

Look at the hard covers, paper backs, in few books, the wraps that are given by crushes are treasured. The proposal rose I recieved stayed but the boy who bubbled with infatuation in teen had left.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Blogging or Vlogging

The medium matters a lot in the sharing of the message. I'm quite comfortable in sharing my views through words but not sounds. I hitchhiked, I did a lot of adventures. I traveled a lot of places. I took out series of events but, the reason I didn't take up vlogging is for few reasons.

One, I do not want to fall into the trap of narcissistic thinking.
I do not want my thoughts to be strayed by appearance.

When you listen, everything matters. Your facial expressions, face, and a lot more. Am I able to afford all that in the timespan I have? NO.

These days, people come up saying, start vlogging. Start this. Start that. Talking about social media and the endless feed. How are we thinking and what are we expecting in a deep sense?

I hope to talk to the YouTubers in person one time and see what goes in their mind during the whole process of recording videos in the experience. 





During vlogging, we need to share our thoughts, reflections to a device. How deeply can we reflect when we are conscious of our appearance, words, the way we deliver it. Can these factors affect our reflection? If so, is that a reflection worth reflecting?



Mad miracles- Fanta Phani and Stories


My friend Fanta Phani showed me a painting with pride. 
"Who painted it?" I asked.
"With pride beaming on his face, he showed his dog to me. His dog drew a painting. Before I come into terms of dog painting, he brought a canvas and brush to show me the miracle. 

"Madness. Absolute madness. How do you enjoy while you train the animals to imitate humans?" I asked. 

"You ever saw a dog capable of painting with its paw?" growled Phani. 

"I see a dog capable of painting it with a paw. Yes, it's something that is unbelievable. But, why do we need a dog to paint?" I pleaded bonkered by mad whimsical wishes. 

Why not?" 

"What next?" I asked Phani wondering what was in his mind. 

maybe dogs are trained but do they need to be trained in these kinda acts where they imitate humans. Next what?

"Dog should be able to walk on two legs!"

"Next, do you want the dog to type on your computer in excel?" I grumbled. 

No, I don't mind it learning all these traits. Why don't you leave animals to the animals? Maybe they've seen it all. Gone through the phase where we're in and they preferred to enjoy what they are in?

As a human, we need to evolve.

Downgrade your memory by making us vulnerable to the networks that's no more a network we need but to exploit us?

That's a 3rd world problem. We're not there yet.

Oh, Yeah. They're evolved. We're yet to be evolved there and then we'll think of all these problems.

Will you stop teaching your dog how it plays music??

It has good music sense, it'll pick it up. I don't see any difference between you and the Facebook.

Facebook habituated humans to use it and now they can't resist being away from the Facebook.

You trained wolf to domesticate it into a dog and now you want to evolve them and bring it what level god knows!!!

Stories from Sirohi- Rejection sensitization.

Engaging with the volunteers for a task, I was trying to learn the new Marwari words from them.  Consistent laugh, teasing giggles, I was not moved by the laughs at all. Surprisingly, it didn't affect at all.

I was determined to learn Marwari. These little rejections didn't bother me for, I got sensitized with a lot of rejections.

In the end, they helped me learn a few songs. 


Du Da Du Da Dhokla..

Stories from Sirohi- Missing the children

 After a long time, I was discussing school children with Dyu. We began our conversation about Geeta. Geeta is the toughest girl in the class. No one dares to mess with her. Not even the most notorious kid in the class. 

From Geeta, we got in with her brother Raju, then her sister Chiku. Thinking of Chiku, I got reminded of Nathu Ram, Chetan, and all the lovely kids of the 8th class. 

Then on with 7th class kids, Gaurav, Mayank, Diva, Mamta, Harshith. Every kid is a gem in his/ her way of own. 

The first class would always get a special mention for the way those kids are. Intelligent. Kind. Smart. Innocent. Full of life. 

Kanishka can talk about anything. She talks well and she also hears you out well. She is expressive and she expresses really well. There's no concept of right, wrong to her. We pollute her by making her feel bad about her learning. 

Miss her. 

And then comes her friends. Divya, Vimla, Chiku, Kushi, Chaya, Rachna, Babla. Such sweethearts!

When do we get a chance to meet all the children in school again? 






Sunday, August 23, 2020

TM Krishna w/ Sheik Mahaboob Subhani & Smt. Kaleeshabi Mahaboob: Jagadod...

Movie- The invention of Lying

In a world where only truth is spoken, a man accidentally invents lies.  Funny. Creative. Good humor. With the lies, are created Gods, religion. 




Movie- Snowden

 I knew Edward snowden as whistle blower. It's interesting how he got out of what he was into, the labyrinth zone. Good movie

Saturday, August 22, 2020

No Man is an Island- Lahari Pendkar

Beautiful smile. Observant looks. I met my senior, Lahari during one of those ragging sessions. She has a mellow voice and her laugh is an exquisite one. 

I know Lahari through the ASME club. She was part of it. Along with her, were Rocky, Sasya. I cherish all the beautiful memories I shared with them. 

During my first year, they were very few seniors whom I approached without any fear. Lahari was one. She never intimidated with the senior tag. With others, I was intimidated. Sasya was too sweet and silent with all the juniors. 

Those interactions with all these seniors helped me in grooming with seniors. Thanks, Lahari, Sasya, Rocky Bhai. 

While I performed at the hostler's freshers, Lahari was surprised by my performance. Her friends were all set to rag me but, she was gracious on me and let me go. 

Soon after the first year, I was into too many things to get on with the club and also the interactions with all my seniors. Occasional greetings at times.  

We are connected through social media but, I never talked to her. Do not know why. I would never fail to speak to her in person though. 





Book- All the light you cannot see

A boy and a girl hail from different places but eventually come across, thanks to world war-2!  Two characters, Werner and Marie Laure hail from Germany and France respectively. 

Marie Laure turns blind at a young age. Her father, a locksmith takes care of her and protect her from the chasing world

Werner, along with his sister Jutta lives in an orphanage and ends up at National Political Institute. 

Most of the story happens in a place, Saint-Malo(check the book  cover)

It's a page-turner. The chapters are short and tight. Well written Anthony Doerr. Pulitzer prize winner for a reason. 



Movie- Bhuvan Shome

 A classic. Thanks, Harry for suggesting Mrinal Sen's gem. 

An old egoistic railway officer goes for hunting. A lady helps him in his endeavor. The movie is not about hunting or help but, the revelation of stories. 

This movie reminded me of the movie, 'Before Sunrise.' Two characters. A lot of dialogue. Simple plot. Well defined characters. The few interludes in the movie are worth listening to again and again. 


Friday, August 21, 2020

Quote of the day

"And somewhere there are engineers
Helping others fly faster than sound.
But, where are the engineers
Helping those who must live on the ground?"

                                                                                                                -Young Oxfam Poster  




Book- The Brave Ant

 Well written. I loved the first lines of the story. Discussing the name of the ant, the writer introduced the ant in a clever way. 


In dialogue with Amol- Comics and artists.

 Amol is an avid reader of comics. DC, Marvel. He goes beyond these two famous series. He reminds me of Mohan. Mohan is an avid reader of Manga. So is Abhinay Munagala. 

Amol picks comics, based on the artist. Looking for artists, he decides to read those comics. A few of his favourite artists are:

Jim Lee

Alan Moore

Frank Miller

Tim Sale



I heard of Alan Moore and Jim Lee. Every artist/writer got their signature style. Will have an eye on comics when I visit the book stores next time. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Short Story- The Freaking Five

The sand danced to the tunes of the wind. The Sun seemed to be in a rush. It left us the darkness that gloomed all over the sight.

Short days. Long nights.

“Shailaja didn’t come to college. What’s wrong with her?” asked Aisha.

“She is sick. Suffering from a high fever.” Replied Sapna.

“I am visiting her home. Who wants to join?” suggested Geeta.

Aisha nodded, so did Sapna. “Count me in!” shrieked Elsa, rushing near the group.

Four friends called it a day at college and walked out of the big black college gate. Geeta raised the thumb to stop the auto. The sight of raised thumb, the auto jolted to the spot, picking up the four friends. And thus, began the journey.

The sand danced to the tunes of the wind. The Sun seemed to be in a rush. The girl gang without Shailaja were in revving auto, on the snaking road bordered with the sand all over its sides. “It’s forever long and away from our village,” whispered Geeta in low voice. How do we return? How do we get back to our homes? Everyone mulled in these questions, but no one thought out loud. Together, they held each other’s hands tight. They were in the coupe awaiting for an adventure.

The blue hour strike in. Hundred steps away from the road, flickered alight. The only light in and around the place. Shailaja’s house. Girls walked together being wary of the creatures that would creep in the night. A ten more steps, friends entered Shailaja’s house making themselves at home. Not a thought of worry. Hands are held free. Smiles. Laughs. And the house beamed with joy.

Gang of five. Shailaja was happy to see Aisha, Sapna, Geeta & Elsa as she missed meeting them. “I miss college. “Not that I am studious but, I miss college as I can’t meet all of you.” “That’s the reason, we came here all the way.” Their banter and the gossip got no hold of time. In the cold winter nights, the chilled wind seeped in and they realized, it is the night!

The darkness gloomed all over the sight.

“I am going home now. Who wants to join?” asked Geeta.

Raised eyebrows. Rolling eyes. Everyone nodded but, they were not sure of how they are reaching their homes.

A hundred steps walk to the road, Shailaja along with her mother stared at their friends, realising they made a mistake. We should not have visited home at such late hour.

Geeta led the group of three. She walked ahead while Elsa, Sapna & Aisha held their hands together holding their sweaters tight to stay warm.

A ten more steps away from the house, they reached the road. The single light flickered in the house amidst darkness. On a deserted road, they walked toward their homes. A long journey in the darkness. “There’s going to be no auto. Hardly vehicles visit this route after sunset. How do we walk for such a long distance? Questions were bubbled but, none thought out loud. Faces twitched. Unable to blame on a single person, everyone walked moaning and fussing every two minutes.

Afraid of desert snakes and scorpions, everyone walked on the road. Confidence that no vehicle visits at the odd hour, all the four friends took their place on the road and sauntered.

Elsa shrieked as she heard the rumbling engine sound. Pomp! Honked the truck. It whizzed past them. All the four friends got along the border of the road, jolted by the surprised visit of the truck.

We cannot even ask for help. We cannot trust strangers. Why did we end up doing this stupid adventure? Questions flashed in their minds. None thought out loud. Everyone continued their walk.

The legs turned into lead, and everyone walked at different paces. The four friends took different places on the road walking behind each other freaking out but not out loud!

Buzzing sounds. Flickering lights. Slicing the darkness came the car with it’s fog lights on. Geeta raised the thumb as the speeding car passed them. Startled by the zooming car. Everyone looked at each other. The hand was still raised with thumb struck out. The tyres were screeched. Brakes were hit. The car was on its reverse drive.

Are we getting into the car now?! thought Elsa.

Are we going to get kidnapped? feared Sapna

Are we doing this for serious?!! went bonkers Aisha.

“Need to go the market centre” told Geeta.

Warm air. Soft music. Clean Car. The two youngsters agreed to young ladies’ requests.

The space was too congested to sit freely for four of them. However, they sat tight overlapping each other.

Two boys. Four girls. Ma is going to kill me tonight! Hope papa is not sitting under the tree near the fire. I haven’t even seen Jaipur. Will I be robbed, molested, killed tonight? Everyone sweated. None thought out loud.

The market seemed forever long and road never-ending but, the throttle and a deserted road made the journey short.

The doors were open. “Khamma Ghani,” said Geeta. “Khamma Ghani,” echoed the girls. The darkness is dreary. Silence reinstalled itself after the car doors were shut. The car whizzed again into the darkness to their own destination.

The chilled winters deserted the market centre as well. A person here and there. No one they knew saw them at the market as they stood, getting out of the car.

“Weren’t you afraid?!” asked Aisha. A word that’s spoken after a long silent ride.

“Will you believe me if I tell, more than all of you, I was scared?” replied Geeta raising a thumb to stop the auto this time, to go home.

Stories on Wheels- Long ride

Satvir called me, "Are you up for a ride?" Pleasant weather, soothing clouds. I said, "Yes." We went to a nearby hill, watching the sunset. Silence prevailed. In the whole town, there's one half-built 6 storey apartment. Except that, all the houses seemed tiny with a sparse green cover. Beautiful sight. 






 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Education- Child Centric correction

Fill the predicates in the blanks, read the heading. Maths is my favourite book, answered the fourth class child writing, ‘Math’

“Do you think, this is right?” asked my friend. “Yes.” I replied. My friend scrolled down the messages showing another message. “Surya, third blank(Maths) is wrong. Math is a subject. Not a book.”


“What do you think of it?” asked my friend for my opinion.

“Logically, teacher is right. Math is subject. It can be written as Mathematics textbook or some other book. Instead of highlighting that the student is wrong, she could’ve explained his thought process and the other ways to think.

“I have an issue” mentioned my friend.

“There are two aspects.

1.Pedagogical

2. Conceptual

 The blank is to assess if the child has the knowledge of predicates. Child got it right. He wrote it well.

As a society, we are so into education that we do not expose our children to any other books but, textbooks. There’s no knowledge of fiction, nonfiction, story books, novels. Growing up in such situations, kid thought maths as a book but not as subject.

Teacher should have taken the opportunity to start a dialogue about various books. “You are wrong,” ends with no dialogue.

Who’s surya? I assumed, my friend was defending his kid’s actions. No, he was observing and reflecting through dialogue.

I was logical in the answer and didn’t bother about the way the teacher corrected the student.

My friend was child-centric, wishing to help the child.

If we are not meant to help children, what are we here for?

Thanks friend for the reflection and dialogue.  

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Give yourself permission to be creative | Ethan Hawke




Art is not a luxury. It is sustenance.

Writing- Word Echoes

Whenever I edit the drafts, I try to read out the text loud, checking if it sounds elegant. Today, I learnt about 'word echoes.' An echo word is a word or phrase that recurs in a sentence or paragraph.

Whenever we have the word repeated, the elegance of the text is dulled. To avoid that, we can use other word and change the sentence structure. I have been omitting the words that repeat more than once but, today, I realised what I have been trying- omitting the echo words. 

Find out the echo words in the above text! 


Holidays with Harry- Emotions and feelings

I was feeling low.  I reacted by staying away from everyone. Didn’t receive calls. Didn’t talk to anyone. After a long time, I called Harry to catch up for a conversation. Hoping I’d listen and he’d talk.

“How is it going Abhinay?” asked Harry.

I didn’t want to give a common response. Good. Nothing much. I told, “Literally nothing is happening. I am feeling kinda low.”

“That’s fine,” replied Harry.

Discussing what’s happening at our places, we discussed the recent article Harry wrote.

“What’s the basic difference between emotion and feeling?” I asked.

‘Emotions are non-conscious, physical reactions. Feelings, on the other hand, are conscious, mental experiences triggered by emotions attached to your memories and thoughts.’

“Emotion is majorly bodily(stimuli). And the feeling is your response. The better you respond to your stimuli, the better you can manage your emotions.

Most of the time, we always delve with these basic emotions (Happy, sad, bad, angry, surprised, disgusted, fearful)  and do not go beyond these. Check the emotion wheel. There are a lot of emotions beyond these basic emotions, We should be able to feel these emotions.



“I never thought of it. How does this help? How does being aware of our emotions help sir?”

“Once you are aware of your emotions. You acknowledge those emotions. You feel it as it is.”

“Does managing emotions can be misinterpreted as being emotionless,” I asked. 

“Yes. A lot of us think the other way. Managing emotions is to feel the emotions completely but, not the other way.”

We never give the attention it deserves. All our life, we are told, not to cry, not to be sad, not to be joyful.”



Emotional Intelligence is an interesting aspect as it is critical in all situations. For example, during the game, we feel pressured. When we do not know that we are in pressure, we associate the emotion to different narratives and that decreases our thinking capacity. When we acknowledge that we are in pressure. We process the emotion and we act. This whole process happens in seconds!"

Woah. That’s pretty interesting to know! There’s a lot about emotional intelligence.   

“Watch Inside Out Movie. A beautiful movie on how we react and respond through emotions. If we do not manage our emotions, the emotions hijack our feelings, our thoughts, our relationships as well."

"How do we practice emotional Intelligence?"

"Keep asking yourself, what am I feeling now? As you are aware of your emotions, eventually, you'll manage them as well!"

Good one. Thanks Harry!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Journal- August Entry


At the end of the day, I sat and wrote all the movies I watched, books I read, short stories I read, dreams I dreamt. Surprised to see the number of movies I watched in a month. 

Event- Sunday Reader's Club

Through Microsoft Teams, I attended the Sunday Reader's Club session. I was invited to read out a short story and talk about writing. I accepted. 

I decided to read a short story from the book, "I am not here to give the speech," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 

I read this story at Forum Mall in Bangalore in 2016. From then on, it stayed with me.  It's a story of a woman in the village who dreams bad in her village and the way, it spreads in the village like wildfire. 

After I finished reading the story, many teachers shared their stories. 

"To listen to more stories, share more stories." 

I shared the story and people were connected to it. They shared their stories, how they believed, and shared the stories without an afterthought. 

I also shared a few of my hitchhiking experiences. Listening to my experiences, a participant Uddam Singh shared his experience. 

In his teenhood, he was traveling home from a village. He had five rupee coin, the fare of the auto. But, it was not his day. No auto was at sight. He walked further and turned back. He could see a jeep. A police jeep. 

He waved his hand. Good for him. The jeep stopped. 

"Where do you have to go?"

I have to go to a place." answered the boy. 

"You have to pay the fare. Come. 

"Okay."

Both the police and the boy started traveling. The police looked at the boy. In the 90s, the police said, "you have a lot of baggage. You need to give 5rs extra. "

"Ouch. I only have 5rs. What if I tell him that I don't have money. Will he drop me? What if he drops me. Okay, Sir." nodded the boy. 

It's a long way. The boy has shared an address but it seemed quite long. It''s not on my way. I have to take another turn for you. It's long. You need to pay 5rs more. ordered the police. 

"Is there a way that 5rs get multiplied into 15rs? No. But still, "Okay sir." said the boy. 

They reached the place. At distant, there's home. Through the sand, they need to walk. The boy got down. 

"Sir. Here's the money and handed  five rupee note."

"What's this?!

I only have this sir. I thought that if I tell the truth, you'd drop me midway. I didn't want to take the risk. 

The face frowned.  It got twitches. 

The boy also gave a concession. If you want money. My home is a bit ahead. I need to walk. If you come with me. I will pay you the extra ten rupees. 

The police were furious with the boy's lies and also the offer. Give it, Plucked the coin from the boy's hand, and hit the pedal cursing his time. 

Bhut ki Gali, Bhut Ped. A lot of stories were shared. 

I enjoyed the session. Many teachers enjoyed it. Good time. 





Friday, August 14, 2020

Favourite Past time - Concert Videos

 I attended my first A.R. concert in the year of 2017. Before that, I used to download the concert videos of A.R.Rahman and watch it on the loop. Chennai concert, Dubai Concert, LA Concert. I used to search for the not-so-famous video footage and listen to them. 


After a long time, listening to the concert video of A.R's footage again. Nostalgic. 


In dialogue with Students- Quit or Not!

“I don’t want to go to school,” shared my student.  I listened to her. 

She finished studying her 8th. Our school is till xonly 8th. She doesn't want to change school. 

"How much work do you do at home?" I asked her. 

"I do every work. I even cook. Roti bana sakti hun. Phone mei dekhe and I cook. Even I can make Khaman," replied my student. 

I changed the question but, both of us know the topic we were discussing. School and education. 

I did not want to solace her by giving vague promises study, you will have a better future!.  I never bought the stories. Didn't expect the bright girl to take it either. 

“I am not going to tell you that study till 10th. Hojayega. 12 th tak pad hojayega!

Pade toh confidence aatha hai zindagi hai. Kaise bhi jee sakthe.  Isliye pado. Jab tak hoga tab tak pado.

Study so that you can get confidence on life. Once educated, we can choose and live in a way possible. Study till wherever is possible."

I also told her, what would happen, if she quits school at such a young age. "Agar padna khatam kar diya, ghar ka kaam bhi karna hai. And if parents see the kids doing all the work nicely. They will get them married. Itna jaldi kyu karna hai Shaadi?"

"Study. Do not get into the mess of sitting idle," I suggested. 

I do not know if she'll continue studying but, it's disheartening to see these children compromising their dreams. 


 

Poem- Quiet and Calm Hours

 Quiet and Calm Hours
Away from the blinking phones

The sight of the phone 
Scares me for taking away my attention

Weak in my knees
I take comfort in screens

Texting Friends. Phubbing them. 
Staying with them to run away from them.  




Book- Fish Friends Three

 Fish Friends Three or Three Fish Friends. 

"What is right?" I questioned.  

Thanks, Kaveri for handing this book. I like Karadi Tales for their creative rhymes, songs, and stories. Fish Friends Three is a Panchatantra classic.  I enjoyed reading this book aloud. It's rhythmic and lyrical. 


Book- The Bicycle

This is the story of a youngster and a child living their dreams. A youngster wants to travel and get on a cycle trip. He meets a boy and boy wishes to ride like him. Will his dream come true? Need to read the book to know the story. 

The story is beautifully illustrated!. This story has an act of kindness and also adventures! 

I loved the way the writer ended the story. A lot of other stories can be woven through this story.

I tried reading the pictures without reading. Later, I read the book. Enjoyed the experience of picture reading.


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Book- The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

“I am unable to read books these days. I can’t concentrate beyond a page,” complained my friend.

“Do not stop reading. One page at a time.” I suggested.

“What’s stopping her from focussing on? What’s changing her habits?” I reflected.

“Using the internet has rewired your brain and turned you into a flibbertigibbet,” shouts Nicholas Carr. Is it so?

Way before the Internet era, Marshall McLuhan highlighted the influence media exerts over us.

“Medium is the message. In the long run a medium’s content matters less than a medium itself in influencing how we think and act. As our window onto the world, and onto ourselves, a popular medium molds what we see and how we see it- and eventually, if we use it enough, it changes who we are, as individuals and society.”

This book is about how does a medium(internet) effect the way we think, read & remember.

The book is not a decry to go back to the pre-internet era but, shifts our perspectives and give us food for thought and help us to reflect on our acts over the medium.  

Before the author discusses how internet affect our lives, he discussed the ‘neural plasticity’ and few stories on how internet has changed our reading habits.

Internet makes you feel smarter. Because of the ease of access to the information, we prefer the tit bits of information rather than the whole piece.

Duke University professor Katherine Hayles confessed, “I can’t get my literature students to read whole books anymore.” e can understand seriousness of the issue where literature students prefer skimming and scanning on the internet to reading the whole books.

Thinking and Writing.

 

Plato wrote ‘Phaedrus.’ The tale in which, Socrates and Phaedrus take a walk having a dialogue. They discuss the ‘writing.’

“Should the Egyptians learn to write, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls: they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of  external marks.”

People ridiculed writing and were critical of it. It is interesting to study the oral tradition before we discuss the literacy and its culture.

Oral Culture:

Before we were into writing, communication was through oral traditions. The knowledge was transmitted through speech, lore, verse, ballads, chants. Oral culture got emotional and intuitive depths that we can no longer appreciate.

·         It was more of sensuous involvement.

·         In this culture, thinking is governed by capacity of human memory.

·         Knowledge is what we recall and what we recall is limited to what we can hold in our mind.

·         Then came the writing.

·         Writing on stones, bits of cloth, earthen pottery, scrolls, wax tablets.

 

Books:

Before books, were the wax tablets lashed together with the strip of leather or cloth. The concept of flipping the pages or break in the writing was not present in scrolls and other forms.

Even after the technology of books progressed, the oral world influenced the way the pages were written.

There was no word separation. “Words ran together without any break across every line on every page, in what’s now referred to as scripture continua.”  The lack of word separation reflects the style of speech. It was written as it was spoken.

·         No spaces. No pauses. How do people comprehend. What’s their reading speed?

·         In the past, the absence of word order conventions, placed an “extra cognitive burden.”

·         Living in the rich oral culture, most Greeks and romans were more than happy to have their books read to them by slaves.

·         It was not just a book. It was used more as audio book!

·         With the collapse of Roman empire, the written language got a break from oral tradition. As time progressed, ‘the reading was becoming less an act of performance and more a means of personal instruction and improvement.”

By the end of 12th century, we were done with the style of Scripture Continua. There was word separation and there was change in the pace of reading. During this period, there was a transition from loud reading to silent reading. “Writing, for the first time, was aimed as much at the eye as the ear.”

“The placing of spaces between words alleviated the cognitive strain involved in deciphering text, making it possible for people to read quickly, silent and with greater comprehension. Such fluency had to be learning. It required complex changes in the circuitry of the brain, as contemporary studies of young readers reveal.”

 

“Readers become more attentive. To read a long book silently required an ability to concentrate intently over a long period of time, to lose oneself in the pages of a book, as we now say. Developing such mental discipline was not easy. The natural state of the human brain, like that of the brain of most of our relative in the animal kingdom is one of distractedness.”

 “To read a book, was to practice an unnatural process of thought one that demanded sustained, unbroken attention to a single static object.  It required readers to place themselves at what T.S. Eliot, in Four Quartets would call, “the still point of the turning world.”

We were learning to be attentive.  We were teaching ourselves to focus and concentrate.

“The ability to focus on a single task, relatively uninterrupted is a strange anomaly in the history of our psychological development.”

Before the advent of the books, we were attentive but, with the books, as we read deeply, we thought deeply. There was a shift in consciousness as people immersed themselves in the pages of a book.

 

What’s next?

There are various factors that played in the advancement of books. Papyrus. Paper & printing!

So many books- so much confusion!

All around us an ocean of print

And most of it covered in froth.

There’s a bit romanitcism of reading as well.   Here’s the poem written by Wallace Stevens, “The House of Quiet and the World was Calm

The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

                                                                             -Wallace Stevens

 

How does reading affect the reader’s brains?

Liker painters and composers, writers were able “to alter perception” in a way “that enriched rather than stunting sensuous response to external stimuli, expanded rather than contracted sympathetic response to varieties of human experience.

While, we celebrate the reading rage and reading culture, in late 17th century, inventor lee dee forest invented the audion, the device “for amplifying feeble electric currents.”  It became the foundation of the electronics and used to amplify electric signals, audio transmissions, revolutionise the telephone and radio usage.”

Thinking of the future application of electronics, Dee forest believed, “electron physiologists would be able to monitor or analyse thought or brain waves. He concluded, “a professor may be able to implant knowledge into the reluctant brains of his 22nd century pupils. What terrifying political possibilities may be lurking there!”

 

The world of Internet

Charles Babbage. Alan Turing. Analytical Engines. And much more. The computer story goes beyond Babbage. Ada Lovelace, daughter of poet Lordy Byron had an important role to play in the field of making the computer.

From computer, we cruised through World Wide Web. We are on our way to virtual reality, artificial intelligence anything but reality!

At the beginning, the web was progressed by imitation of Gutenberg’s press. In fact, the very term we came to use to describe what we look at online- pages- emphasized with printed documents.

With the words on the net, there was a rapid adoption of e-mail, preparing the grave for the personal letters!

Soon after the text, came photographs and audio, subsuming the telephone technology, radio. Then came the videos online, subsumed the technology of cinema and television. 

“The NET differs from most of the mass media it replaces in an obvious and very important way: it’s bidirectional.  We can send messages through the network as well as receive them. That made the system useful.”

There’s a lot of text on the NET. We read more than ever. Anywhere and everywhere there’s text but still, it’s not the same.

“A new medium is never an addition to an old one. It oppresses the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them.”

Books and the types

There is a lot of advancement and changes in the way books are read. We have digital books, kindle, vooks(videos in the digital books)

Books with a lot of hyper texts. People celebrate the hyper texts and cross referencing but, there’s dark side of it. There is a lot of distraction and cognitive burden for constant distraction while we read.  Reading a paper back or a book in kindle, is it all the same?

“A page of online text viewed through a computer screen may seem similar to a page of printed text. But scrolling or clicking through a Web document involves physical actions and sensory stimuli very different from those involved in holding and turning the pages of a book or a magazine. Research has shown that the cognitive act of reading draws not just on our sense of sight but also on our sense of touch. It's tactile as well as visual. "All reading," writes Anne Mangen, a Nor wegian literary studies professor, is "multi-sensory." There's a crucial link" between the sensory-motor experience of the materiality of a written work and the cognitive processing of the text content." The shift from paper to screen doesn't just change the way we navigate a piece of writing. It also influences the degree of attention we devote to it and the depth of our immersion in it.”

The internet is no more just words but a lot of audio and visual content. And everything is in abundance. So much in abundance that “whenever we turn on our computer, we are plunged into an ecosystem of interruption of technologies.”

Interactivity, hyperlinking, searchability, multimedia- all these qualities of the Net bring attractive benefits.

“Their value as navigational tools is inextricable from the distraction they cause.”

“When access to information is easy, we tend to favour the short, the sweet, and the bitty.”

Changes in reading style has also brought changes in writing styles as authors and their publishers adapt to readers’ new habits and expectations.

The effect of Net on brain is more interesting than the history of books, reading, and a lot more. We get to learn about ‘neural plasticity’ ‘Working memory’ ‘long term memory’ and few concepts on how mind works.

The Juggling

With the Net, we celebrate multi-tasking and we interrupt ourselves in every task we do.

Our heavy use of net has neurological consequences.

How mentally taxing is it to be on internet?

“Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle; that’s the intellectual environment of the internet.”

“The depth of our intelligence hinges on our ability to transfer the information from working memory to long-term memory and weave it into conceptual schemas.”

We are disrupting the transfer of those information by being distracted at big time.

“The division of attention demanded by multimedia further strains our cognitive abilities, diminishing our learning and weakening our understanding. When it comes to supplying the mind with the stuff of thought, more can be less.”

How does these interruptions affect our memory?

As we keep shifting our attention from different landscapes of multimedia, psychological research proved that, “frequent interruptions scatter our thoughts, weaken our memory and make us tense and anxious. The more complex the train of thought we’re involved in, the greater the impairment the distractions cause.”

Why multi-tasking is not so cool as it looks?

Navigating the Web requires a particularly intensive form of mental multitasking.

Flooding our working memory with information, the juggling imposes what brain scientists call,” switching costs” on our cognition. Every time we shift our attention, our brain must reorient itself, further taxing our mental resources.

“Brain takes time to changes goals, remember the rules needed for the new task, and block out cognitive interference from the previous, still – vivid acidity.”

Of course, with the internet, we have a lot of advantages. It makes our life simpler.

With the case of London cab drivers it is explained how our brain changes, becomes good at few activities and mediocre at the other activities. “Our internet usage is impacting on our creative thinking, reflective thinking,” says the author.

Nielson, a consultant on the design of web pages, wrote in 1997 after his study of online reading. “How do users read on the web?” he asked then. His succinct answer: “They don’t.”

“We shouldn’t allow the glories of technology to bling our inner watchdog to the possibility that we have numbed an essential part of our self.”

What can be done?

Be attentive.

The sharper the attention, the sharper the memory.

“For a memory to persist, the incoming information must be thoroughly and deeply processed This is accomplished by attending to the information and associating it meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory.”

The shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read, and remember reminds us to reflect on our humaneness. Interesting read. If one is interested in psychology and neuroscience, give it a read! Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Movie- Samskara

Funeral rites. 

Based on  U.R.Anantmurty Novel, this movie, 'Samskara' is directed. It deals with the rituals and conflicts of life. One believes in scriptures, another doesn't believe in it.  Girish Karnad as a protagonist did a commendable job.  I  got a chance to know about the customs during the previous era. 





Monday, August 10, 2020

Book- The Talkative Man by R.K.Narayan

The Talkative Man is the shortest book written by R.K.Narayan I am told.  The story is set in the town of Malgudi, with the narrator, TM, the talkative Man who is talkative to the readers but not in the story. His name is called out only once in the whole book. ‘Madhu’ he is called. I assumed the book is about the talkative man but it’s not! Besides TM, Rann, Roja, and several characters were sketched out well in the story. Characters worth remembering for a long time. Varma at the Boardless Hotel, the librarian, Guffar Taxi, the station master, and Munni. I enjoyed reading this small book. Looking forward to reading the other works of R.K.Narayan.

Well written and the postscript triggered me to imagine different ends to the story.  



Saturday, August 8, 2020

Stories from Sirohi- Dyu and I

Different cultures have different customs. Always up to interact with locals and attend to their customs, Dyu and I heartily accepted Hansram's  lunch invitiation. The family was celebrating Guru Purnima. They have their family Guru. We rode to village Paldi M, through spacious highway and further dusty roads. 

We arrived at the temple that had a vast premises. In the premises were the crowd and the lunch. We sat for the lunch. At first, we were offered Churma on our plates and were left to oursleves. Five minutes, no one bothered to serve anything else as we haven't finished the Churma.  Dyu and I looked at each other wondering when they'd serve us Dal Bati. "Hansaram ji, Baati laaona?" Dyu asked. "Finish the Churma first, you can have Bati later," suggested a locale in a casual tone.  Rajasthanis start their lunch, breakfast dinner with sweets, we reminded ourselves and requested for the main course.  


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Festival of Bands- Raksha Bandan

"There's an auspicious time. There are rituals," said Shankar. 

Saket and Khusboo invited us to celebrate Rakhsha Bandan with them. Biju, Shankar and I headed to their home. 

Away from my home, we relaxed a bit and got into the rituals. We were given special seat and tied the Band. 

There were a lot of sweets to eat. Heavy with south Indian breakfast, I was put with a lot of sweets and dishes. Food with love, I couldn't resist. 

Over the conversations on art, and some food, we ended it  a  day. We spent a day discussing how we had memories of Raksha Bandan. 

This year, Akhila decided to gift me a diary rather than Band. I am glad that she gifted the book rather than the band. Akhila is good at expressing. I remember receiving a greeting card at young age from her. 

I took it as granted. We never expressed each other that we are there. But, Akhila  always tried. I was terrible. I took a lot of things granted. I never expressed what they mean to me. 

Right from birthday gifts to a lot of gifts, I was pampered with a lot of things. This time also, such a thoughtful gift. Thanks a lot Akhila. 

Italo Calvino- The Black Sheep

https://blog.aladin.co.kr/common/popup/printPopup/print_Paper.aspx?PaperId=742005 Interesting story. Once lived a country full of thieves. E...