Since the last couple days, I have been thinking – why all the hullabaloo around education? What was the original need for education? I am pretty sure it wasn’t for fat paychecks. Seeking education began when a need for knowing more to help more arose . Almost everybody is educated to some extent in today’s world – yet very few show signs of being truly educated.

A recent incident which happened in Bangalore will explain my point. One morning we were held up in a massive traffic jam at Banerghatta Road. A few minutes later, we heard the wail of an approaching ambulance. My sister as well as some other commuters steered their vehicles with great difficulty to make way for the ambulance. To our shock, we see not the ambulance but callous two wheelers and even a couple of cars rush to take up the cleared out space. The ambulance had to wait again.

Where did  the so called education go? Everyone was in a hurry to reach his/her place of work and did not spare a thought to the suffering soul in the ambulance. Who knows, the guy in the car might have been a PhD holder but doesn’t this act of his put him in the hall of shame? How can education obliterate one’s vision and not widen your sense of obligation to humanity?

A couple days back, my father happened to talk about an extremely educated person he knew who advocated high principles and morality to all and sundry. But when push came to shove, this guy called up the local police station asking them not to hassle a friend of his who was caught on the wrong side of the law. I wonder from which angle he sees himself fit for moral education?

Remember the stories that we read as young children – of princes and princesses being sent to gurukul? They not only lived austerely but also served their teachers loyally. Mathematics, sciences, weaponry and the religion weren’t the only classes they took. Lessons in humanity, tolerance and empathy were deeply ingrained in their education too. No wonder, ancient India was far far better – there was no competition and hence people did their best and encouraged their peers to give their best too. Today, if you don’t squash your intelligent subordinate right away, you can be sure as hell he will be your boss tomorrow.

Religion is another perplexing scenario where the well-educated choose to stagnate in the murky waters of ignorance. I am pretty sure none of the religious books of the Hindus, the Christians, the Muslims, the Sikhs or any religion for that matter  have any verses which quote intolerance to other religions. Our Gods weren’t crazy. Yet, somewhere down the way, we started to leave our rational mind right outside the gate when we discussed religious issues. How does it matter what religion we belong to? All of us have 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 hands, 2 legs, one big heart and a brain to use, don’t we? How different can we get?

Education has lost its purpose if it has not made better persons out of us. Thankfully, there are a precious few who by their actions restore some sanity in this insensitive world of ours. I am proud of one particular sunshine who is a world-class professional and a humanitarian to boot. Here is her simple account of how she made a difference. You may not have the inclination to take up a cause but as long as you are humane, I would say you are among the forerunners in the fight for keeping the flailing spirit of humanity alive! And of course truly educated too!

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Munni..

September 27, 2009

Munni

Mother of two: She was a young thing – only 12. Yet, it was rather a common sight to see her play the little mommy to my two girls. The youngest among our brood of 6 and might I add – the prettiest? When she came into our life, it was an unexpected ray of hope. She was the cheer we all needed, she was the shade of a tree from a hot day in the sun. She was our dream, our hope and our step into the light. When I had my own two girls, I had a tough time juggling them, my extended family, and my home. That’s when my sister decided to take some of my weight on her little shoulders. She’d often take the girls to my mother’s home – it was not all that far away but it involved crossing a railway track. Her earnest promises of taking the utmost care and to be extremely cautious at the railway line convinced me that my daughters are in safe hands. With the little one snug on her tiny hip and the older one held tightly by her side, off she’d go to her place. Looking at them go, I thank my God for the little angel He sent to help shoulder my overloaded cart. Years have passed, she has a family of her own yet, she continues to be our cheer.Good times are better when she is around and bad times made lighter by her sweet words. She is among the many reasons I believe there is such a thing as God in this world.

The Two: We were too little then to realize how ludicrous it sounds to call her aunt. She is just 10 and 12 years older than us. When we were kids, we always wondered how nobody could see the devil behind her angelic face. Our mother had given her “mommy rights” and she lost no chance to set us right. She could send us cowering under the bed by making her eyes so big. Thank God, grandma was around, else we thought ” We are definitely her dinner!”. She had this weird habit of keeping  our grandma’s house all dark by shutting the windows. She often forced us to sit along with her when she sang the evening prayers and we would squirm and hasten her to sing faster so that we can get back to our play. As children, we though of her as a bossy creature who had a cherubic faced that fooled anyone but us. Then she got engaged. Her fiance was a true blue romantic – he sent her cards, letters, flowers and all. As you may have guessed by now, we were rather nosy. We wanted to see the cards and letters. Only to hear a big NO! That’s when we started spying on her discreetly and found her stash. Our keen observation skills led us to her red coloured notebook, in which she wrote letters to her fiance in rough draft. She copied it out on nice paper once she was satisfied with her draft. So when she wasn’t around, we two would sneak into her cupboard, read all her letters, her cards and her rough drafts. For months after, we threatened her that her fiance is rather mistaken about what he thinks of her and in his best interest, we should set it right! 😀 She’d laugh it off. Then she got married and really went far far away. As much as we troubled her, we loved her a lot and her absence was bothering us. She had done nice things for us – like taking us to her friend’s homes, teaching us beautiful songs like 10 Green Bottles, Do re mi in her beautiful sing-song voice, dressing us up in saris and false hair. In our teens, whatever she did were our beauty tips. 😀 Now we have all grown older and cherish each other a lot more. Like our mother says above, Good times are better with her around and bad times don’t feel so bad when she is there. We ll always be a pain in the neck but never forget we love you loads!

PS: Dedicated to my lovely aunt-partner in crimes-the shoulder-buddy-the laughing machine  who turns a year older today! 🙂

Storytime …..

September 18, 2009


Lila’s Happiness

On a bright summer morning, Lila was skipping along on her way to school. Flowers blooming everywhere, the sun smiling down and the glistening leaves after last night’s rainfall added a special charm to that day. “Just perfect for outside fun”- thought Lila. Watching Lila from afar were her parents. Taking care of the 6 year old was a piece of cake – she woke up on time for school, was quick to laugh and brought cheer to anyone who met her. Her cherubic face framed by curly golden locks always gathered in high ponytails, her tinkling laughter, her endless banter made her everybody’s darling cupcake.

Lila loved going to school.. All her teachers were swell and so were her friends. Mrs Johnson gathered all the little girls and boys around her. It is a beautiful day today, isnt it kids? – asked Mrs J. Yes, Mrs J – yelled the children. Mrs J goes quiet for a few minutes and then pipes up – “It is a pity to waste such a day indoors. Lets have a painting competition outside, shall we?” She didn’t have to wait too long for an answer because the kids were out the door already!

Lila was exuberant. She loved to paint. It was a challenge to keep the colours inside the lines but she loved it. More than filling in colouring books, she loved creating characters and bring them to life with her colours. Mrs J asked the class to come up with something that makes them happy. What makes her the happiest? Is it cookies? Pancakes? Swings? Dances? She thought and thought for sometime. The she set to work.

Minutes later, this is what she came up with.

AditiRohanDanushRheaPranaviAyushi

Her friends are her happiness. Though they squabble a lot, they can’t do without each other. Mrs J smiled to herself when Lila explained the picture and the thought behind it. “Very good, Lila. You have done an impressive job. It is a lesson for life too – cherish your friends because they are your happiness.” praised Mrs J. Elated with the golden star Mrs J awarded her, Lila cartwheeled her way home, thinking how happy mommy and daddy will be when she shows them her golden star.

PS: Today my little niece is turning 6. She drew the above picture of her and her friends.Minnie, wishing you a very happy Birthday. May your life be filled with health, happiness and lots of people who love you dearly.

PPS: This is my first attempt at story writing. I do hope it is good!

PPPS: Ok, the story may be a little too sugary for your taste, but my niece is the sweetest!! 😉

Every Wednesday, last period was Bhagawad Gita class. My school was founded by a spiritual leader and hence a period each week was devoted to moral studies. In our primary school days, Gita class was mostly  story time with a cherubic teacher, who had a knack for telling awesome mythological dramas. Other times have the whole class chanting the Bhagawad Gita in unison. It was almost like a free period until we reached secondary school.

We were too old for stories was what we were told. A stern looking Biology sir took it on the burden of teaching us moral consciousness. His Bio classes were extremely interesting but Gita class – how interesting can you make spiritual conscciousness sound to  a class of 14 year olds? It being the last period was also not lost on us – if not for Gita class, we could well be on our way home! Anyways, we had to listen – Sir was strict and could send you to hell with his cold stare. I was a responsible student most times but in Gita class. I have this Endless Yawn Attack syndrome descend on me.

Every two minutes – one yawn! In a thirty minute class, I would have yawned 15 times. And I have a very peculiar Yawn side effect too – when I yawn, I go deaf too. Any noise at the time will not be registered at all! My father tells me I am not the only one with that side effect, but I m yet to meet another with the same peculiarity! Now back to the story – Our Sir knew we were bored out of our minds with all this consciousness talk, so he kept us on our toes err… ears with impromptu questions. If an appropriate answer was not given, we were dead meat! So you can imagine – me with endless yawns and deaf most of the time, chances are I miss more than half of what he says.

That led me to seek more creative ways to draw Oxygen. Keeping my lips tight and fill my cheeks, drop a book and when picking it up yawn quickly, when someone behind me is answering a question – turn to look back and yawn, wait for Sir to turn his back to us. 😀 It sounds so ridiculous and stupid, but what could I do! 😀 Mercifully, my yawns were never sighted and nor was I pulled up for questioning! Maybe my track record in Bio class had him confident about my classroom presence! 😀

Now I bet those who read this till the end, would have yawned atleast once?? 😉 Yawns, like the need to drink water when you see others drinking it, are extremely contagious!

Have a good day folks!

To be a Ghost!

September 4, 2009

Our grandma’s home was just 10 minutes walk from our then house. The way to Granmas was dotted with several interesting places – a wood saw mill, our old nursery school, our family jeweler,  a railway track,  and such. Not to mention  my parent’s friends who also live around there – and for half hour or so, my folks will be talking to them over their wall or gate. Why not come in inside, they ask? No, we have to hurry to Grandmas. 😀 As I wait for the adults to “hurry up”, I look around. And I imagine how it would feel if I were a ghost so that I can go inside and just watch them do their everyday stuff? I find mundane life very interesting – especially if it is not my own! 😉 That is how I got addicted to people watching.

I just love it. Everytime we are at the cash counter, S does all the paying while I feast my eyes on what people around me are doing. 😀 Maybe that is also the reason why I never remember directions – I am always looking at people on the road! The umpteen times I have been elbowed by my sister or cousins when I am out with them, have left me with a  permanent dent!  They furiously whisper – stop staring!! I am quite taken aback – I don’t stare, I only observe!!! Well, if you are “observing” someone who is not in your field of vision, it makes us uncomfortable!! 😀

Can you blame me though?? People are so interesting – even when they do what they think are boring stuffs. The expressions on their faces, their body language, their gait and so on. But oh, they saw me watching them. Now, I can’t look again! Oh, what wouldn’t I do to be a ghost without dying!!

Since, I mentioned Ghost couple of times, I can’t but help treat you all to an all time great song. Unchained Melody, though created by Alex North and Hy Zaret, was eternalized by the Righteous Brothers. The song was also featured in the movie, Ghost, starring the charmer Patrick Swayze and a young Demi Moore at her best. 🙂 See the singer at work here.

“Lawyers are liars” I am pretty sure every lawyer seethes when they are stereotyped thus. I know, because as a Psychology student (studying doesn’t end with degrees, right?), I have often been asked, “So, can you read my mind? “I better not talk to you lest you find everything about me” and such. I have had quite enough of this misunderstanding, thank you very much. Freud humor doesn’t sit well with most psychologists too!

I don’t blame them for such lame comments because people can’t fathom what is it that we study. In fact, it is difficult to even begin explaining. So let me just dive in and begin with one of the most revered experiment in social psychology.

Dr. Solomon Asch  was a professor who revolutionalized the field of social psychology. One of his most noteworthy works are his Conformity Studies. He devised an experiment to measure the effects of social pressure on conformity. It goes as follows:

Dr Asch got groups of students to take a vision test. In each group, all but one were confederates of the experimenter. That is they posed as participants but knew the purposes of the experiment and were told to give answers in a certain manner. There was effectively just one participant in each group.

The experimenter showed every member in the group 2 cards: first one with a single line on it and the second one with 3 lines on it, one of it is identical to the line on the first card. The participants had to say aloud which one of the 3 lines matches the single line. This was done 18 times with varying lengths. The real participant was made to give his answer  the second last so that he will hear other’s answers before giving out his own. In the first two trials, the confederates and the participant give the obvious right answer. The participant is always at ease at this time. However from the third trial on, all the conferedates begin to give same wrong answers. In fact, among the 18 trials, all the confederates give same wrong answer for 12 trials. These are the critical trials because it is at this point, social pressure is being examined. How will the participant react? With him (all males in this experiment) being the last to answer and everyone else around him giving obvious incorrect answers, will he conform with the majority?

Dr Asch’s hypothesis ( a prediction/guess) at the time of drafting the experiment was that participant will not conform to the majority when it is obviously wrong. After noting results from several such groups, it was noted that participants conformed to atleast 37% of the critical trials, 25% did not conform to any critical trial, 75% conformed to atleast one critical trial and 5% conformed to all critical trials!!

This is a sneak peak into the wonderful world of Psychology. For more details on the above experiments, click here. If  you need still more, google “Solomon Asch Conformity Experiments”.

Now please do me a favour – Next time you see a psychology student/ practitioner, grill him/her about Solomon Asch’s experiment and he/she will hold you in high esteem!!! 🙂

PS: If you liked the above article and want more, please rate the post. To rate, click the title of the post and then click on the star according to how you liked the article. 1 for very boring to 5 for very interesting. Those of you lazy to comment, pretty please with cherries and sugar on top, rate!!

Have you seen anything like this? A touching story told through a sand animation. Wow!!

Telling Tall Tales …

August 13, 2009

As I have mentioned in several posts earlier, my little sister is the living doll that I had always wanted. She played her part pretty well too. Every little thing I told her, she took it to be God’s truth. Well, being the affectionate older sister that I am, she didn’t any other choice.

Sometime in the X’mas hols of my ninth year in this world, our family friends dropped in for a few days. They had kids our age and days were filled with making merry. As is the custom in Kochi, holidays with kids are spent in Children’s Park. It was the amusement park of the 80’s. Show animals, gigantic globe that can be turned if all of us put our might together, rides, swimming pool, chaat guys, ice cream, cars/scooters that you can drive,  and even a traffc policeman!! The guests and us had a rollicking time doing all the stuff that kids do – letting our hair down and going nuts! Soon enough, it was getting dark and parents started herding us all back in. That is when I saw the bookseller with the latest children’s magazine! I got my dad to buy the book. I couldn’t wait till I reach home – no sireee, I had to read the book as I walked to the exit.

Suddenly I was gasping for air. Why, what ehh ?? Why the hell am I wet? Because the dummy was too engrossed in the book to realise that she is stepping into a fountain! Luckily the traffic policeman, pulled me out of the water. I don’t think I have to tell you what shade of beetroot I went. My folks quickly rushed me home. As mom was helping me dry off, my poor little sister, came in all concern writ over her sweet face. “Are you okay, did you get hurt?” By now I have had enough being embarassed at my stupidity. I thought some bravado should help me get back to normal.

So this is what I said, ” You should thank God that I am here, you know. When I fell, an alligator dragged me down and I thought I will be her dinner! Lucky for me traffic policeman uncle was nearby!” I can still picture my sister’s eyes going wide and round. And my dear mom, she got to add another story to the Book of Cookie’s Quirkiness!! 😉

A couple days back, my hands were itching to draw a potrait. So here is my little sister when she was 3 years old. When I sent her a mail asking her to guess who the picture is of – she replied it is of her drawn by me when I was in primary school!!  😀

P1000942

Sleeping Child copy

Creating this post took me back to one of my all time favourite music – Sleeping Child by MLTR. Click here for the video and  the beautiful lyrics. I loved playing this song softly while I looked over my sister sleep back when we were kids. She definitely wasn’t a baby then but slept like one. 🙂

Having been recently gifted a Photoshop CS3 by my sweetheart, I P’shopped the original B/W pic (sourced from PhotoBucket) into the above.  The words in the picture are  inspired from our recent visit to see a newborn boy. 🙂

PS: Had totally forgotten about Friendship Day! I am so glad to have known you all. Here’s wishing our friendship grows with each passing day and gives us the joy, fun, strength and courage to deal with life’s mischief! 🙂 Happy Friendship Day!!

10 Items Or Less ..

July 22, 2009

Love Morgan Freeman? I did after watching this endearing movie called Ten Items or Less. Freeman plays a well known aging actor who hasn’t taken on a project for the past four years for lack of good scripts. He comes to a poor Latin neighbourhood to research on a role that he is considering. He meets  a fiery young Spanish “10 items or less” cashier and is quiet taken by her attitude. She on the other hand wants him off her back. Due to unfortunate events, the young lady is stuck with this guy for the rest of the day.  End of the day, she is no longer pissed, rather cherishes her one day with the goofy old man.

The movie takes a microscopic look at how people connect. And amazing as it may be, our lives can change drastically after spending sometime (or maybe no time) with someone we hardly know. I can imagine a situation where I pour out my joys/troubles to a dear friend but it is a random stranger who happened to  hear it it all who offers a fresh perspective. As filmy as the thought may sound but the logic is that the uninvolved folks are objective and can immediately spot whatever is amiss. Morgan Freeman is at his charming best in the movie – watch out for the scenes where he imitates people doing their jobs – its spectacular! And the ones where he charms the ladies! 🙂

Here is a clip showing a beautiful sing along between the actor and the shop girl. The actor attempts  at settling the cashier’s nerves on her upcoming job interview is what leads to this “smile puller”.

Video is bad as is the singing  but the human emotion shines through it all – dont you think? 🙂

PS: Those who enjoy the hit sitcom Big Bang Theory are in for a little treat towards the end of the movie. 🙂 Those of you who know what I am talking about – please don’t do a spoiler here!