Archive for April, 2012

Small things thrill small minds :)

April 28, 2012

I don’t even remember posting the video, but now…

my video has been mentioned in the editorial

of the Birdwatching magazine!

For a bumbling amateur like me, this is indeed a thrill, and I hope, one day, to write an actual article, too…..:)

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Friend on TV :)

April 27, 2012

My dear friend, Gita Viswanathan, sent this link where her husband Vish, is featured on Bloomberg TV:

An old, dear friend….I am proud of him!

Rain…

April 27, 2012

The sunlight streaming golden through the heavy clouds and the glittering rain and the Gulmohar’s fiery reds. Coolness in the air as the rain goes on. Slowly, the shapes of the scudding clouds change…..how I love rain.

Here’s

Rain in Summer – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And here’s a video of a magnificient thunderstorm that I was caught in:

Rain…the giver of life.

Intelligence Quotient…

April 24, 2012

I was asked what my IQ was and I replied that the IQ test I had taken was, to my mind, not a test applicable to all human beings, it needed a certain kind of culture and upbringing, and so I could not hold such a test as valid. I also intuitively felt that intelligence is of different kinds.

Having said all this, I was then asked point blank what my IQ was rated as. On hearing my answer, the reply was, “But that’s great! Why do you want to say all this about IQ tests, then?”

Intelligence, that has not been leavened by wisdom, maturity and humility, is like the raw clay which can either be fashioned into a better human being…or a figure of raw clay.

WHAAAT?

April 24, 2012

I got this from Dinesh…

it’s not only our hides, but the colour we are “inside”…

When will we learn to accept ourselve as we are?

Swan Lake

April 22, 2012

I’ve watched Swan Lake being performed at Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore, performed by the Kiev Ballet, many years ago, under the aegis of ICCR, Indian Council for Cultural Relations(which seems to be a moribund organization now.)

I just watched this acrobatic version from China.

Of course, those of you who are new here may not know that I already have

a ballerina in the family

One day, I’ll go to Moscow and watch the ballet…one day…one day….

Prose and poetry

April 22, 2012

Jerry Rao writing in the Indian Express:

Christopher Hitchens died a few months ago. Lovers of English prose were dealt a serious blow. Luckily , he leaves behind “the tender graces of a day that is dead”. “Arguably” can be read as a long, classy epitaph written by one who knew that he was being inexorably beaten by malignant cells within his frame. It is a collection of essays published in various magazines between 2005 and 2011. Most of the essays are book reviews. There are some polemical pieces dealing with contemporary issues and some unforgettable ribald pieces including a not-to-be-missed essay on the solemn subject of fellatio and another one on the lasting gifts of the late unlamented British empire.

Hitchens writes mainly on recent biographies of writers and uses the opportunity to give us his own take on the authors and their output. He deftly weaves together the lives and the works of the writers who are the subjects of these biographies. Contrary to his waspish image, he is almost always quite charitable and in the last analysis he urges us to judge individuals by the range, depth and weight of their outputs and forgive as far as possible the foibles, frailties and weaknesses (and they seem to have many) of the writers themselves. The sheer range of Hitchens’ interests, his depth of understanding and his ability to make uncanny connections simply because he has read so much else and has pondered deeply and with sensitivity over what he has read, is awesome. Hitchens’ book can be a prescribed text for any course on Twentieth Century Western Civilization, especially its Anglo-American sub-set. The writers he brings to life for us include Saul Bellow, Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, Gore Vidal, Rebecca West, Ezra Pound, George Orwell, Jessica Mitford, Somerset Maugham, Evelyn Waugh, P.G. Wodehouse, Anthony Powell, Graham Greene, Philip Larkin, Stephen Spender, C.L.R. James, Martin Amis, and J.K. Rowling. There are numerous references to W.H. Auden, V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie although there are no separate essays dedicated to them. Hitchens brings to our notice other writers, who normally do not get that much critical attention, whose importance in my estimation went up not only for what they said but for their importance in the troubled history of the century gone by. I am now convinced that it is important to go back and read or re-read John Buchan, Edward Upward, J.G. Ballard, George MacDonald Fraser and Saki. Hitchens has written a brilliant book on Tom Paine. The history of political ideas, particularly in the Anglo-American world has been a subject of enduring fascination for him. In short essays, he conveys to us why he is fascinated with certain figures and invariably he nudges us towards going back to the original sources. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, the abolitionist John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and Edmund Burke are all part of the menu. His unusual essay on Karl Marx (an honorary Englishman by virtue of his membership of the British Museum library!) is one of the most fascinating pieces I have read. The intrepid and erudite Marx emerges as an extraordinary intellectual who had courage, foresight and intelligence as he supported Lincoln and his war against criticism from a variety of opponents. When he writes about continental writers, Hitchens’ attention is almost always focused on the fight against totalitarianism. There are brilliant pieces on Victor Serge, Arthur Koestler, W.G. Sebald and Isabel Allende. The lampoon-like essay on Andre Malraux is unusual in so far as it is certainly not charitable to the subject.

Hitchens is first and foremost an upper middle class Englishman of the twentieth century. A counter-productive relationship with one’s parents; predictable suffering in the bullying atmosphere of that peculiar institution—the English boarding school; a fascination with homosexuality; an inability to love the totalitarian political traditions of the continent (the Prussian or the Russian variety), an equivocating attitude towards the empire which their great-grandfathers created and which their generation proceeded to lose and a cockamamie sense of humour which is “interiorized”—-a word I have coined to describe a class of humour that can be appreciated only if there is some empathy with an ecosystem of books, manners, histories, institutions, anecdotes and so many other unsaid, unwritten conventions—-all of these Hitchens has in full measure. Hitchens is however not a believer in racialism and eugenics like so many of his intellectual forebears have been, either explicitly or in numerous subterranean ways. In fact, his coverage of Islamism within the larger context of his dislike for organized religion, has earned him some unwarranted criticism. His position is based on the defence of the autonomy and freedom of every individual including the average Tunisian or Iraqi Muslim who is oppressed as much by his/her own culture as by any other force.

Some forty years ago when I was in college and was drooling over Prufrock and Byzantium, a Tambrahm friend of mine gave me good advice. Why was I wasting time on poetry? English prose is God’s gift to all of us. I should spend time on Hazlitt, Boswell and Lamb—so went the advice. Hitchens is a lover of English prose; he overcomes his dislike of religion when he writes a brilliant panegyric on the English Bible (the authorized King James version which as Hitchens points out was largely based on the brilliant work of Tyndale—- not the grubby editions that are now popping up!). As I reached page 749 of this thick volume of essays, I too concluded that there are few pleasures in the world more delightful than reading well-written English prose. Please buy this book. Read it and then leave it by your bedside so that you can re-read bits and pieces at leisure. Sooner or later malignant cells or some insidious viruses are going to get all of us. In the days left to us on this planet, let us savour that which by some stroke of fortune has been granted to us!

My response:

Very interesting….the elegance of good prose being as good as, if not better than, poetry. But Jerry, in general, the appeal of the two is very different. One address the readers’ rational self, and the other, the readers’ emotional self (like all generalizations, this one, too, is sometimes not true.). So why does one have to reject one for the other? Enjoy both!

Shoes….and walking in them

April 20, 2012

To understand a person, walk a mile in their shoes, goes the popular saying.

Children take that seriously….

shoes 3  jngr 9 170412

Try to step into others’ shoes…

shoes 1  jngr 9 170412

and do a few adjustments as well!

shoes 2  jngr 9 170412

Creativity….arts and crafts

April 13, 2012

It’s wonderful to see things of beauty growing from nothing but a length of string (or wool). Knitting, crochet and tatting have always held a fascination for me. I liked knitting, but thanks to my myopia, the other two were beyond me. But when I saw my friend Savita engaged in tatting while she was helping out at our friend’s sadAbhishEkam (80th birthday ceremony of her father, when vows are renewed) I could not help trying to document that….

tatting small 110412

A little closer:

tatting big 110412

Savita makes these flowers and pastes them on cards, and her mother (who is 80 and living with fierce independence, in an old-age home in Koramangala in Bangalore) adds the paint, to make really beautiful greeting cards. Some of the tatting also ends up as earrings and other jewellery. Savita and her mother’s creations sell like hot cakes!

Politics and politicians…both are jokes

April 10, 2012

The problem with political jokes is
they get elected.
~ Henry Cate, VII
We hang the petty thieves
and appoint the great ones to public office.
~ Aesop
If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us
in these acceptance speeches
there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.
~ Will Rogers
Those who are too smart to engage in politics
are punished by being governed
by those who are dumber.
~ Plato
Politicians are the same all over.
They promise to build a bridge
even where there is no river.
~ Nikita Khrushchev
When I was a boy I was told
that anybody could become President;
I’m beginning to believe it
~ Clarence Darrow
Why pay money to have your family tree traced;
go into politics and
your opponents will do it for you.
~ Author Unknown
If God wanted us to vote,
he would have given us candidates.
~ Jay Leno
Politicians are people who,
when they see light at the end of the tunnel,
go out and buy some more tunnel.
~ John Quinton
Politics is the gentle art of
getting votes from the poor
and campaign funds from the rich,
by promising to protect each from the other.
~ Oscar Ameringer
I offer my opponents a bargain:
if they will stop telling lies about us,
I will stop telling the truth about them.
~ Adlai Stevenson
Campaign Speech, 1952
A politician is a fellow who
will lay down your life for his country.
~ Texas Guinan
Any American who is prepared to run for president
should automatically, by definition,
be disqualified from ever doing so.
~ Gore Vidal
I have come to the conclusion
that politics is too serious a matter
to be left to the politicians.
~ Charles de Gaulle
Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession .
I have come to realize that it
bears a very close resemblance to the first.
~ Ronald Reagan
Politics:
[Poly “many” + tics “blood-sucking parasites”]
~ Larry Hardiman
Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city,
it might be better to change the locks.
~ Doug Larson
Don’t vote, it only encourages them.
~ Author Unknown
There ought to be one day
— just one —
when there is open season on senators.
~ Will Rogers