Issue 08

Home Vol. II Issue 08

Editorial

Be a SOCIAL TRAVELER, not a tourist! This is a message from us in this issue of 1st May 2014.

Today, a traveler is more or less a social traveler who travels to immerse oneself in experiencing the new about places more than experiencing new places per se. A social traveler travels to be with new surroundings, livesin with new cultures, creates timeless memories with new friends, explores one’s fondness for food or even brings-in a new fragrance in romance.

Nowadays social travelers primarily hunt new kind of information about a place and readily share on social media by tweeting, through posting special events and moments, giving information on unknown and unbelievable facts or blogs about experiencing new essence of a place.

As I write, my mind is with Kira Salak, the living lady adventurer who authored the book ‘’The Cruelest Journey’ narrating her wildest trips. Some of us may not be social travelers at times. Travel is also made to heal the turmoil inside us. We travel to create and route life fresh; re-defining by being born again to live another life! While we travel, en route we discover a new self where we let a part of us die to regenerate into a new life-form in profession or in relationships. It is life. We discover self with travel. Yes travel brings back the life we want!

With this thought in mind, this issue, we bring you treasured collections from individuals who have traveled for new beginnings. Read about film critic and documentary maker Utpal Borpujari whose feature ‘Songs of the Blue Hills’’ has been recently selected for five international film festivals.  Previously his feature Mayong Myth/Reality brought a remote magical place to limelight across the globe. Gauarv Mittal, who brings a whole new gamut on photographing special moments of birds in pairs or birds in solitude. Shahwar Hussain rides his bike again through Bhutan bringing before us the journey in a wonderful narrative, the fictitious travel adventure by Manipadma, train journey food catering about travelkhana and much more on travels.

Hope this issue will be special for you. Thank you for being with us.

Keep enjoying the journey with Fried Eye

Sanzeeta

With award winner film critic and film maker Utpal Borpujari….

 

 

Documentaries and short films are useful sources of information and provide evidences. They are a mode of preservation for posterity of images. Utpal Borpujari’s documentaries and short films are to be seen uniquely as preserving forms of knowledge on cultures, beliefs and traditions of an era.

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Utpal Borpujari, a geologist from IIT-Roorkee chose to be a journalist by profession who went on to become a well know critic and film maker. As I sat down to take his interview he shared the happy news of his documentary “Songs of the Blue Hills” being chosen for 5 International film festivals. That was a huge accomplishment for his career as a film maker.  Winner of the Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) Award for the Best Film Critic at the 50th National Film Awards of India, 2003, his Mayong Myth/Reality documentary was the breaking point of his career as film maker.

 

Fried Eye shares some wonderful moments about his experiences, opinion on varied subjects of his films and his plans on forthcoming endeavors.

FE: Utpal da, share something on the recent documentary which you have made; why the documentary? Where all is it going to be screened? 

UB: Songs of the Blue Hills is my recent documentary, it is on Naga music. It is not the usual music but also it is not focused on folk music. Nowadays lots of interesting experiments are going on by mixing all kinds of music practiced in Nagaland. It is all about mixing folk music with different kinds of sounds by fusing western classical, choral, jazz, blues with the folk music. Due to the mixing of music, the inter-tribe mixing is also happening. We know that there are different dialects, where one tribe does not understand the dialect of the other tribe. Taking folk words from one tribe and folk tunes from other tribes….

FE: …. but won’t there be any overlapping or mixing of original lyrics and composition?

UB: No, they (different tribes from Nagaland) say it really promotes understanding and it is the need of time.

FE: This is indeed very inspiring to hear.

UB: Yes, there was a time, when one Naga tribe used to fight against another. The new generation today, everyone whom I met said, their societies have seen so much of violence, so music is such thing which can heal and develop understanding and friendship. They say it is important to do such thing. That is the feeling I got.

The documentary is produced by Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) under Ministry of Culture, Government of India. They usually document lot of things. The Department trains government school teachers from different states so that the teachers can pass on the knowledge to students. The department has taken such step for the first time not only to document but capture the whole thing like a film. This is not only a document but it is like a film

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Baptist Youth Choir Poilwa — at Poilwa village, Peren District, Nagaland

FE: Is the documentary, Songs of the Blue Hills only about songs sung by different musicians from Nagaland?

UB: No, it is 96 minutes feature-length musical documentary with lots of songs and has lots of interviews with musicians, musicologists from Nagaland. The idea is to take the viewer in a journey through contemporary forms of Naga folk music – through 20 songs that feature fully or partly in this film!

The ‘Songs of the Blue Hills’ got selected for 5 International film festivals

  1. Visions du Reel Film Festival (Nyon, Switzerland) in their International Doc market section which showcase the film to  potential buyers,
  2. Gothenburg Independent Film Festival (Sweden),
  3. New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF),
  4. Eyes & Lenses Ethnographic Film Festival (Warsaw, Poland) and
  5. World Music & Independent Film Festival (Washington).

Watch the trailer of the documentary Songs of the Blue Hills at

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9VD8pUCUTw

 

 

FE: Why have you chosen to be a film maker from being a critic?

UB: I am a critic even now. For many years I wrote about films, I wrote about films for 20 years, I still write about films and I felt it is time to do my own thing, instead of writing about others. So I thought whatever I am doing in print media, I can take it to another level, instead of going to electronic media. I want to explore the cinema media although you don’t explore cinematically which is a visual media only but I thought I can explore things in cinema in a much more detailed and artistic manner. So, I thought of going for film making and I do have interest in documentary and feature film. I am working for a feature film; working on some idea; hopefully it should work.

FE: As a documentary and film maker, which was your first breaking feature?

UB: Mayong Myth/Reality.

FE: You are bringing the unknown part of the world to the rest of the world. How would you like to explain your ideas and subjects of choice for documentaries or film making?

UB: I like making films on any subject. As a journalist, I have visited lots of places in India. I have many interesting subjects in my mind. Primarily my idea is to bring the stories of North-East India through film whether in fiction or through documentaries; in whichever languages it would suit. I would like  to do more about North-East India because we have so many strong literatures, so many rich folk traditions. We have no dearth of subjects in making documentaries. In every state of North-East India, there is a subject for documentary. And North-East India is so much unexplored cinematically. Even if there have been good documentaries by Doordarshan or independent documentaries made by individuals, there are huge number of subjects which are yet to be tackled.

There is no fixed subject for me, I would go for ethnic cultures and ethnic tribes, there are socio-political subjects also which I would like to work in future. In political sensitive regions, there has been lots of violation of rights of common people whether by state or the non-state actors. I co-authored a book on Secret Killings of Assam which basically is documentation and it is a very interesting subject. Other than Assam such killings took place in Punjab. There are lots of stories like these waiting to be told.

Another area to look into is urban space which are so beautiful and natural and they are getting destroyed, take Guwahati city for example that can be another subject too.

FE: You have lots of ideas in place in future to showcase in future, how viewers perceive these subject-lines in your documentaries?  

UB: People have started to know more about North-East India, there is more awareness relatively than what it used to be 19 years ago when I started journalism. But still people don’t know much. I would like to call them illiterate; illiterate as far as North- East India is concerned. They have no idea; even among journalists they have no idea as to where Aizwal is. In media, even people did not know about Mayong. At present also many people don’t know about it. The Songs of the Blue Hills, I think  will open a whole world of music to people because in Nagaland, so much rich work is going on  and bringing such a good work to public about mixing of songs is good idea.

Films as a medium, is an effort to bridge the gap in bringing North-East Indian cultures and knowledge more closely to other parts of the world. It is not like that I will involve only myself, but it has to be done together by many. It is a long process. I have developed few of scripts, based on literary works. It can be in Hindi or Assamese or English. There are many rich literature works in Assamese and are also written in English. But it will depend on where I get funds from.

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FE: Do you think the documentary Mayong Myth/Reality was able to send some feelers to the viewers about North-East India?

UB: It is an interesting aspect and it’s a legend with so many stories. Mayong will act as a source of information for people who would like to research and for tourists who would like to visit the land. Whether you believe or do not believe on its myth; it is a different take but there are lots of manuscripts which are magic manuscripts. There are many manuscripts in many houses and there is a museum where these manuscripts are preserved today scientifically. It is a documentary of 53 minutes and in the last 6/7 months after being uploaded in youtube there are more than 9000 viewers. Everyday 50 to 60 people are watching the documentary which is good number for a documentary film. Definitely it shows some people have interest.

And all the more, switching from an established career and taking risk, there would be no meaning until I bring some unconventional stories. Take Mayong, even our people from Assam did not know it, we don’t know about each other in North-East India forget the other parts of India. Leaving journalism aside, how many of the common men have left their state to go to other state. People go to Bangkok, but they don’t go to Nagaland and Mizoram. We ourselves have to know and learn many things from each other.

FE: After Mayong which are the other documentaries that you have done?

UB: I did one documentary for Panchayati Raj Ministry and it would be telecasted by Doordarshan’s Lok sabha TV, or telecasted, I don’t have any idea, as they don’t give any news on such. It is called For a Durbar of the People. It is about local self-governance system called durbar, which shows whether it is relevant or how relevant it is, if any changes are required. It is a television documentary.

I have made another for Rajya Sabha Television also, which I have already finished and will be shown in near future. It is Soccer Queens of Rani where poor girls from Rani are taught to play soccer by a coach who has dedicated his life to the game and its welfare and trains the young girls to be soccer players. The Soccer Queens of Rani is a humanitarian story. Why a person would go to a backward village and teach football to poor girls on his own expense. It is a positive story from North-East India. Why are they learning football, they have aspirations and take for example the Songs of Blue Hills, nobody knows that such beautiful work on music is going on. I discovered a lot of things while shooting that film.

FE: What was that striking experience while making the film Songs of the Blue Hills?

UB: I discovered so many things, there are enormous treasures of musicians, talented young people, old folk singers who have silently documented their music when church had banned the folk songs. Now the young generation reversely is infusing the folk tune in the church chorus. The churches if they make a new folklore in choir, it is new. Folk music is created by communities. It is everybody’s property. It always evolves with new elements.

FE: What about plagiarism in folk songs?

UB: If Bhupen Hazarika, or Zubin sings based on folk tune that is not plagiarism. It is like using folk elements in different style. Folk music has no creator, there cannot be plagiarism. Now if you take Ravindra Sangeet, it is out of copyright since 10 years, now people sing rock song out of Ravindra Sangeet. It is now open to the people. They experiment with it.

FE: What are your upcoming projects?

UB: I amconcentrating on a documentary on Second World War as it occurred in North-East India. It is produced by Subimal Bhattacharya. We have so far worked only the preliminaries.  It is going to be a big project.

FE: Do you in the long run would like to be a feature film maker?

UB: Yes of course! I guess I am already a film maker. I have plans for fiction films and I am also developing scripts for them where some parts will be in Hindi and some in Assamese.

FE: What would you want to say to your readers?

UB: Come and explore North-East. If you don’t know North-East you are missing out something. If you come and visit, lots of misconception will go. Everybody who has gone to North-East has good story to tell. But unfortunately only bad stories are highlighted in media. We have failed to project ourselves including the political leaders. People outside do not know the history and about our society. We have failed to communicate to outside world. First we have to communicate. Has the political leaders ever tried to get the HRD Ministry to include the North-East history in school curricula? If there are no curricula in school on North-East India, what are our leaders doing?

FE: That was indeed a strong message to all. Thank you Utpal da,  for your time and Fried Eye team wishes you all the best journey in future projects

UB: Thank you !

You can watch the promo of Songs of the Blue Hills at https://www.facebook.com/SongsOfTheBlueHills

and the Documentary on Mayong:- Mayong Myth/Reality at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-fHPRt0LOI

A brief Profile of Utpal Borpujari

As a  member of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), he has served on several prestigious film juries:

 

  1. The Jury for Best Writing on Cinema, 51st National Film Awards of India, 2004
  2. FIPRESCI Jury at the MAMI International Film Festival, Mumbai, 2006
  3. Critics Jury of the Indian Competition section at the 10th Mumbai International Festival of Short, Animation and Documentary Films (MIFF), 2008
  4. NETPAC (Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema)-FIPRESCI Jury at the 11th Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian & Arab Cinema, New Delhi, 2009
  5. Panel of 10 critics & 10 directors whose selection of 20 films each led to the Top 20 of Indian cinema ‘Master List’ for the ‘T20 of Indian Cinema’ event at 40th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa, 2009 (www.t20ofindiancinema.com)
  6. Jury to select scripts at the The Indian Children’s Film Lab (International screen writing lab for Indian children’s cinema 2009), organized by Eleeanora Images (India) and Performing Arts Labs (PAL), UK
  7. Short Film Competition Jury at the 1st Pravasi Film Festival, New Delhi, January 3-6, 2010
  8. FIPRESCI jury at the 34th Montreal World Film Festival, Aug 26-Sept 6, 2010.
  9. Member of the preview committee to select international films as well as the 2 Indian entries (from among the Indian Panorama films) for the Competition Section at the 39th  IFFI (2008), 40th IFFI (2009) and 41st IFFI (2010)

 

His Works

 

  • As a critic and journalist, he has covered Cannes, Nantes, Montreal, IFFI, MAMI, 3rd Eye, MIFF and Osian’s Cinefan film festivals over the years.
  • He has edited the official catalogue of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 & 2008.
  • He has conceptualized and co-scripted the documentary “Resurgent Manas” directed by Gautam Saikia, produced by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
  • His association with the film world extends to being script consultant to the feature film “As the River Flows” (Hindi) / “Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Xhipaare” (Assamese) by Bidyut Kotoky (produced by the National Film Development Corporation) and a consultant to Biswajeet Bora’s documentary “Angel of the Aborigines: Verrier Elwin”.
  • He is associated with Film Trust India, New Delhi (as a trustee); Assam Cine Art Society, Guwahati; Cine Art Society, Asom (CineASA), Guwahati; and Cineman, New Delhi. He has contributed cinema-related essays to various publications, and served as an honorary consultant to the 1st Ahmedabad International Film Festival (2009).
  • He has also curated the first-ever South Asian Film Festival in the Maldives in 2007, a package of Assamese films commemorating 70 years of Assam’s film industry at the 3rd Eye Asian Film Festival, Mumbai, in 2006, and the Guwahati International Film Festival, 2005.
  • He is currently the Artistic Director with Delhi-based filmmaking concern Eleeanora Images (www.eimagesindia.com), whose founder Nila Madhab Panda has directed the highly-acclaimed Hindi feature film “I am Kalam” apart from numerous documentaries, television serials and corporate & ad films. He is also the Artistic Director with the CineASA International Film Festival (Guwahati), and the Director of the Guwahati International Short Film Festival. He is also a member of the editorial boards of the website www.dearcinema.com.

 

  • He writes on cinema and various other subjects in several prestigious publications. He has earlier worked with prestigious media organizations like Deccan Herald, The Sentinel,Press Trust of India, the Sakaal Times.
  • He has co-authored the book “Secret Killings of Assam” (Human Rights Law Network/Nanda Talukdar Foundation) with journalists Mrinal Talukdar and Kaushik Deka, on the spate of killings of many innocent of a bunch of “secret killers” in Assam in the late 1990s, and is also part of a team (as editor/ contributor/ stakeholder) that has brought out the first-ever comprehensive coffee table book on Assam, published by Nanda Talukdar Foundation, covering all interesting aspects about the state (both 2009).
  • He has also contributed an essay, titled “Cinema of Reality”, in the book “Hollywood Bollywood: The Politics of Crossover Films”, edited by Saibal Chatterjee & Anwar Jamal and published by Vani Prakashan, New Delhi (2008).
  • Currently, he is developing scripts for feature films in Assamese/Hindi/English as well as concepts for several documentary films, apart from having completed shooting of a documentary.
  • He lives in New Delhi with his wife and two sons, and is associated with the North-East Media Forum, the platform for journalists from North-East India working in the Indian capital.

 

Find more about him  on  http://utpalborpujari.wordpress.com/

(Interview taken by Sanzeeta, Fried Eye)

 

Tête-à-tête with Avian Photographer Gaurav Mittal

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    He believes in his dream and the journey he treads on. He gave up his lucrative profession and luxury to be with what he loves doing – photographing the most delicate and fragile moments of birds. Gaurav Mittal, an established ‘bird photography artist’ says, ‘his images of birds are not a mere presentation, but a perception of their own reality.’

    Gaurav’s works on bird photography have been highlights of popular journals. His recent work on the two Sandhill cranes entitled ‘In-Harmony’ featured on the cover of the Wildlife Photographic Magazine for the month of March 2014. With passion filled with audacious zeal, he profoundly says ‘it is my re-birth and it seems like I’m into photography for 8 years although it has been 2 and ½ years journey of what I chose to be’

    1. In-Harmony  Sandhill Cranes

                     In-Harmony : Sandhill Cranes

    It is not simple to spot a bird and capture images in its glory, rather Gaurav tries to find a meaning in ‘the whole set-up’ that he sees. For him, they are not only a mere presentation of subject, but a reflection into a photographer’s connection with them. He says, “I do not go out just to shoot bird. I search for a purpose to shoot. Photos should tell a story. I try to find a story to make an imprint. I study bird’s behavior a lot.”

    Many birds in urban surrounding depend on us. I look out for situation to capture them

    -Gaurav Mittal

    Fried Eye took an opportunity to speak about his work, work in progress, his dreams and the moments he cherishes. Avian photography being a niche subject was a bit difficult for us to approach and deal with, especially with the respect and care it deserves. Here we have tried to focus much on Gaurav’s connection with his subject on how his images bring the instinct to be connected to the world of birds.

    FE: How do you give a meaning to a bird photograph?

    GM: I believe one needs to have a purpose for photography, without which one cannot set goals and aim for images to convey the meaning. I consider the “mood” of an image as a good vehicle for conveying the thought vision. Like, one day in a foggy afternoon in Bharatpur, (India) in a dull atmospheric surrounding, I wandered along a trail when I came across a lonely stork. The soft light and a single stork standing in the vast foggy-scape instantly made me think of solitude and somber nature of that particular scene. I then composed the image and placed the stork close to the Rule of Thirds, including enough area on top to convey the overall mood of the scene. So, I feel that paying attention to the light along with the surrounding landscape and the waiting to capture a bird’s behavior; all these components when woven together give meaning to a photograph.

    Eye contact with birds is very special and intimate; it feels as if the bird has opened up its soul. Camera equipments are tools that photographers use to achieve their objectives, it is passion, patience and a desire to succeed which ultimately define success

    – Gaurav Mittal

    2. Black-necked Stork as it slowly walked away into the fog. Keoladeo National Park. Bharatpur, India (Out of camera and unprocessed)

              Black-necked Stork as it slowly walked away into the fog. Keoladeo National Park. Bharatpur, India (Out of camera and unprocessed)

     

    In another instances while photographing Green Honeycreepers which weighs an average of 19 grams and 5.5 inches long, the Green Honeycreeper is a small bird in the Tanager family. It is mostly founds in the tropical climates of countries like Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil. It primarily feeds of fruits, nectar and insects. Photographing in the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica is always a challenge. Given the partially cloudy and sunny conditions most of the times, the ever-changing light requires a constant adjustment to exposure. In order to win in such conditions, it is a must to know to use a flash.  The idea behind using the flash is to try and maintain the natural light while making sure that there is only enough fill flash to give the bird enough light while maintaining a natural feel.

    The difficulty in shooting a Honeycreeper is to know that one is working on a very skittish bird with a strong blue-tinged green, a black head and a bright yellow bill. If one tries to expose for the black head and then it will overexpose the rest of the bird, on trying to expose the rest of the bird then the details are lost in blacks. This is where the flash comes in handy. I first set the ambient exposure and then worked on getting the flash exposure for the bird on the perch it was constantly landing on. From here on, it’s a matter of patience and observing the bird’s behavior.

     3. Green Honeycreepers, Chlorophanes spiza, Costa Rica

                   Green Honeycreepers, Chlorophanes spiza, Costa Rica

    FE: Which one moment during your pursuit, do you remember as ‘The moment’, moment that redefined you and took you to new height?

    GM: (Smile) That was the moment! (showing a picture.) Sandhill Cranes are best known for harmony and their behaviors instill togetherness. They are my iconic birds. The ‘Kiss in the Mist’,( showing the picture), does not it, bring romance in mind? It was taken at Bosque, New Mexico in 2011. Although I look out for special moments, they gave me a new meaning to photography.

    4. Sandhill Cranes, Bosbque New Mexico (Processed in colour Efex Pro)

                   Sandhill Cranes, Bosbque New Mexico (Processed in colour Efex Pro)

    Q. Your blog[1] tells us of many interesting moments at Galapagos. Share us some of your journey capturing moments in that Island.

    GM: Galapagos is one of the least visited parts of the world. For me it was an unimaginable experience. It has restricted visitors and one has to travel with a licensed guide. Visitors to the island must disembark far away from the main island leaving the ecology undisturbed. I travelled to the location by boat and was extremely cautioned by the naturalist to be restricted to the set pathways. Trespassing restricted area meant being forbidden from the island.

    Birds in the Islands do not have much human interaction. In fact they do not know to react with humans. I brought home not only experience but also stock of ideas. One of my experiences was the dark morph Red-footed Booby- I like the shot because of the dynamic wing position and its posture. If your subject isn’t looking at you then look for interesting pose or behavior in it that will draw you in.

    5.Red-footed Booby in Galapagos               

                   Red-footed Booby in Galapagos  

    Canon 5D Mark III, Exposure: 1/800sec, F/4.0, Lens 300mm, ISO 1000. Darwin Bay, Genovesa

    There was this waived albatross which was spectacular to look at. Endemic to the island, it has enormous capability to fly with its formidable wingspan. The sheer beauty and power of bird in flight is on display and when captured well, reveals the grace and elegance with which birds take to the sky and carry out maneuvers which are no less then breathe taking.  (Gaurav at this juncture, literally demonstrated how they fly. He said with one flap they go down for a long distance )

    6.Tropicbird, Galapagos             

                   Tropicbird, Galapagos

    FE: What are the challenges in bird photography ?

    GM: Wildlife photography is a very challenging form of photography.  Elements of nature such as weather; lighting conditions and a cooperative subject are not in a photographer’s hand. Many a times, regardless of all the preparations we make, even if one of these elements goes wrong then the photography opportunities are lost. Birds by far are the most difficult subjects to photograph; they are shy, timid and never stay in one place for more than a few seconds. In these situations reading the light, the background and then framing the shot while getting the correct aperture, shutter speed and ISO is very critical, often we come back empty handed and have to keep trying.  Logistical planning and long travel schedules also add to the challenge of photography.

    Humming bird flutters 5000 per second and it is quite a challenge

    – Gaurav Mittal

     

    Q. Which are the birds you are yet to photograph?

    GM: Painted Snipe, which is one of the gorgeous female species in the world and are larger than male. The other is the Himalayan Monal largely found in the region of Chopta in Uttarakhand.

    FE: What do you aim for being a photographer?

    GM: As a photographer, I would be teaching and training the aspirants in bird photography. I would like to give a new meaning to bird photography.  I see myself as a conservationist too.

    FE: As a bird photographer and conservationist what steps do you take during photography?

    GM: I take extreme care not to disturb the ecology of a bird’s habitat. Sometimes one has to take extreme care to avoid shooting in nesting areas.

    FE: What message would you like to send to our readers?

    GM: Get out and enjoy nature!! Have patience, perseverance, persistence, passion to succeed, not only in photography but in all the fields.

    FE: Thank you Gaurav for sharing some wonderful insights. It was delightful to know about your work in this subject.

    GM: Thank you

    Fried Eye Team wishes Gaurav Mittal very best for his future projects and endeavors in bird photography. He has recently finished capturing images of Marbled Godwitat Morro Bay, New Mexico.

    You can find more about him at www.gauravmittal.com

     

    More Bird Photographs by Gaurav Mittal

    7.Willet

                    Willet

    8. Skimmers

                    Skimmers

    “There is no flash involved in this image. The light you see is from the sun peeking through the clouds. If the overall scene is dark and you flash the scene at high power than the background will get dark. I suggest you take a shot first without the flash and get your exposure right for the ambient light, then adjust the power of the flash till you are satisfied with the result.”

    –       Gaurav Mittal

    9. Sandhill     

                     Sandhill

    “I will always have so much love and respect for Sandhill Cranes, they are the reason I’m a photographer”

    – Gaurav Mittal.

     

    (As shared with Sanzeeta)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    [1] http://gauravmittal.com/bird-photography-trip-galapagos/..

    Bhutan – In Pursuit Of Happiness

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      By Shahwar Hussain

      B6

       

      “Who gave you the bright idea to travel in Bhutan on a bike now?” I was asked this question a number of times as I travelled through Bhutan in January. I never mentioned that it was my “bright idea!”  It was a right question too. We never saw any other biker in those 10 days that we stayed in the tiny Himalayan Kingdom.  It was bitterly cold!

      The snow took a heavy toll on us and the bikes…the lack of oxygen in the higher altitude made breathing a little difficult for the bikes as well as the riders. They were missing and were having a tough time pulling…I could have set things right by adjusting the mixture screw but didn’t have the courage to take off the gloves.

      Well, snow or rain, I decided that I am going to enjoy my tour of Bhutan. It has been almost 25 years since I had been in the Land Of The Thunder Dragon and this time I intended to travel much more than I did all those years back.

      Jaigaon borders the Bhutanese town of Phuntsholing and it is a typical border town – loud, crowded to the brim and chaotic. After the long stretches of open roads, the last 5 kms to Phuntsholing took us an eternity to cover. We shared the road with overloaded truck, buses and impossibly crowded mini buses with the handyman calling for more passengers and honking like crazy, carts pulled by huge oxen, autos, brightly coloured rickshaws, bicycles and people. It is a wonder how crossing a simple gate leads to a different world altogether…literally.

      B3

      As soon as we crossed the Dragon gate, the cacophony ceased altogether. The traffic moved in an orderly manner, there were no three wheeler, no overloaded trucks and buses and certainly no animals on the road. No one seemed to be in any tearing hurry to get anywhere soon. As we walked down to the immigration office, we were pleasantly surprised to see the cars stop whenever we wanted to crossed the street and we never had to lift our hands to signal the cars to stop like we do here!  And I guess we were the only ones who were honking as we rode on the highway.  Some drivers did give us some dirty looks as we overtook and I wondered why.  But then I realised that we were honking even when they readily let us pass as soon as they saw us in the rear view mirror.  After a few days in the kingdom, we also got used to riding without blowing the horn and in a much disciplined manner. The threat of getting hauled up by the police in a foreign land also turned us into extremely decent riders almost overnight.

      It is absolutely amazing that even in this age of high end technology, Bhutan has, to a very large extent, managed to hold on to its tradition and custom.  One is not allowed into government offices without their traditional attire. We had to sit outside as our agent went into the Home Department and Immigration offices at Phuntsholing and Thimpu to get our travel permits.  The people still greet you in the traditional manner, a handshake and a little bow or with a folded hand greeting. Even at busy shopping centers, the shopkeepers will hand over the money with the left hand supporting by the right hand. It is a humbling experience.

      For more than a millennium, this tiny Himalayan kingdom has lived in isolation. Set in between India and China, the country was given the miss by most travelers both due to its geographical position and by govt. policies. Although this has kept much needed development away, it has also saved the country from the ravages that invariably comes with development.

      B5

      Very often, Bhutan is referred to as the last Shangri-la and with very good reasons too. Almost three quarters of Bhutan is still forested and the Govt. has designated about 25 per cent of this as National Parks and other protected area. The natural beauty is all encompassing mist covered hills, ancient pagodas and monasteries perched on high hills with sheer drops, sacred forests, crystal clear rivers and snow covered high mountain passes.

      After we finished our paper works (permits till Thimpu) we hit the road to Paro.  The roads are wide and very well laid and all along the way we could see personals of BRTF working on the highway. Paro is about 160 kms from Phuntsholing but the journey took at least 3 hours more than what it should have. We couldn’t help but stop every few kilometres. The cameras came out and everyone went click! click! click! The mesmerizing landscapes got the better of us and we decided to let it be that way.

      Paro has the only airport in Bhutan with some good hotels too. Since January is an off season, we got some very good bargains. Motorcyclists are always look for cheap stay options. What we can save on accommodation, we can spend on some fuel and travel for some extra miles!

      Roads in Bhutan were not always this good. Till about the 1960s, when the country started opening up to the outside world, there were no roads, no vehicles, no telephone and electricity. Poverty and illiteracy were very high.  But that is all in the past now.

      B1

      King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the father of the present King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, worked hard since his ascent to the throne in 1972 to make the country prosperous. He coined a new and innovative phrase to measure the wealth of his country… ‘Gross National Happiness.’ To outsiders, it might seem a marketing tool but it ain’t.  The men on the street swear by this phrase. Gross National Happiness is after all guided by a set of rules – sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation and good governance. And by the look of it, the monarchy has been able to live up to its own guidelines.

      As we rode ahead of Paro, we saw an example of cultural preservation. We visited the Paro Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan. It was destroyed in a devastating fire many years ago and lay in ruins. It is now a protected monument and the magnificent ruins stand silently atop a hill and look down to the valley below. One look at the ruins and one is sure to think aloud ‘how on earth did they make this huge structure right out of the cliff?’

      Construction is strictly monitored and is not haphazard.  The administration in our hill stations can surely learn the art of sustainable development from Bhutan.  Logging and mining is at very controlled rate and the only natural resource that Bhutan really seems to have exploited is water, there are a lot of hydropower projects and they sell the power to India.

      Tourism is also a big source of income but the Government has managed to keep cheap tourism out. While Indians pay the normal rates, westerners have to shell out USD250 per day. Although it takes care of the accommodation, food, car rental, guide and sightseeing, it is still on the higher side.  But this also keeps out the unwanted backpacking hordes. Just look what the backpackers did to places like Manali.  They come in hordes, stay in really cheap places and they contaminate more than they contribute to the economy.

      Paro to Thimpu is another stretch of great road. As we entered Thimpu, we became very well behaved. I can’t recall the last time when I rode at such controlled speed for such long distances! Cameras along the highway, Police on bikes ….I didn’t want to take any chances in the Land of Happiness. I didn’t want to be the sad one behind bars!

      Thimpu is just as clean, beautiful and disciplined. Somehow I felt that life here moves as in a conveyer belt, very orderly and in a straight line. But I was wrong to a large extent. The people are extremely fond of their King, enamoured is a better choice of word.  In this 21st century, absolute monarchy does not exist anywhere else. The monarchy is constitutional everywhere as people want more freedom and democracy. But in Bhutan, when King Jigme Singye Wangchuk abdicated his throne in 2006 and bought in democracy, there were people who mourned. They mourned because they could not imagine a life without their beloved King as the absolute leader and also because they were sceptical of the new system of democracy.

      B2

      We did a day trip to Punakha to see the amazing Punakha Dzong. I had seen picture of the Dzong and forever wanted to visit it. It stands in between two rivers and from vantage points, it looks absolutely riveting. When the water rises, the reflection of the white, yellow and burgundy Dzong on the water is something that one can gape at for a very long time.

      The Dzong is huge and houses some Government departments as well as the religious sections. Exploring the Dzong with the heavy boots, jackets and bags sure works up an appetite and at a lovely eatery along the way, we had some red ride, dal, boiled vegetables, beef with cheese and some large pieces of fried pork.  I forgot that tobacco products like cigarettes and zarda are banned in Bhutan and went to a shop to buy cigarettes. A monk with burgundy stained teeth that matches his burgundy robes, smiled and said that a smoke might be relaxing at that moment but it might get me into a lot of tension if I get caught! One can legally import a limited number of smokes but only for personal consumption and after paying a 100 per cent tax. I decided it is not worth the trouble and I can very well stay without a smoke for 10 days.

      Back in Thimpu, we visited the museum which has a very impressive collection of artefacts from a very early period of Buddhism.

      The sun goes down rather early and after dark, there is not much that you can do although there are some lovely restaurants and bars in the city centre. The place abounds in karaoke bars and snooker clubs. We visited some karaoke bars where young girls and boys sang and if you request a song or dance, you will have to shell out. You can sing in some bars and they have a good collection of songs.

      For all the traditional lifestyle that is evident everywhere, I also saw a whole lot of western culture among the younger generation. The Kingdom allowed TV only in 1999 and with half of the 7 lakh population below the age of 25 years; they took to it like fishes to water. MTV culture reigns. I visited a lot of the pagodas and they were full of elderly people going in circles with their prayer wheels, sitting and chanting prayers and spinning huge prayer wheels and some were prostrating continuously….without a break. There were few young people there.

      It has been 8 years or so of democracy now and although the nation has by and large managed to hold on to King Wanchuck’s idea of Gross National Happiness, some evils of modernisation is bound to creep in. that’s inevitable.

      For me, it has been a very Happy tour of Bhutan and it converted me into a much disciplined road user and a responsible citizen too. Riding a motorcycle in Bhutan in Happiness indeed!!

      B4

      It is an amazingly beautiful country. Travel with a sense of responsibility and you will enjoy it immensely. But if you act in an irresponsible and rash manner, the Thunder Dragon will strike you down…Beware!!

      (Read more at http://chainreactionindia.com/)

       

      Travelkhana: Making travelling experience different

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        Jab Bhi Chahiye Badhiya Khana, Call karien TravelKhana!!

        By Sanzeeta

        As I reclined back lazily, after talking to Monica, the spokesperson for Travelkhana.com, I was amused by the emphasis and effort put on the back-end co-ordination for providing on-time fresh food to the traveling customers. Travelkhana took shape to make journey easy and comfortable for train passengers. It is a one-stop online space for booking food, checking for menu, tracking the order and checking time schedules of train too.

        The service is made through partners with hotels or outlets in different cities and towns. It is a model based on “on-wheel meal” by linking passengers and food serving hotels. Travelkhana has both the non-vegetarian and vegetarian meals which suits the taste of every Indian as well as foreign travelers.

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         ‘Customer’s delight’ is the prime concern of travelkhana.com. Travelkhana tracks the train in real time and makes sure that fresh food is made available to the passenger on seat through its vast variety of restaurants on the Indian Railway network. Travelkhana website is user friendly and has easy to follow instructions. To order food the passenger has to select the date of journey, choose restaurant of specific station of choice after which the orders are accepted. The passengers can opt to pay online or by cash on delivery.

        Travelkhana currently operates in 80 cities and is rapidly expanding across the Railway network. Their mission is ‘not to miss-out any customer’. When an order is booked, both the vendor and the customer are confirmed on his bookings. While selecting food vendors, travelkhana ensures that the vendors adheres to timelines for food delivery and have ability to make quality food delivery. Although there are operation challenges in this niche area of online food booking during train journey, there is huge demand for varieties of food ranging. But, passengers are in fact delighted about the online food booking services

        {Check out for booking at www.travelkhana.com}

         

        EN ROUTE TO CHENNAI

         

        by Col Kanchan Bhattacharya


        This was a poem I wrote before I started for Chennai, on 09 Nov 2010, describing imaginary events en route… though the characters were very real, including the lady, the fat one who usurped my seat, call it premonition! I was dined and wined out of a friend’s place in Nagpur… even that!!!

         

        What if? I am rather apprehensive about my forthcoming trip to Chennai- I do not want to meet this fate in the train!!! Blame it on my BP, Blenders Pride?

         

        At Nagpur, en route to Chennai,
        When I boarded the train, I was rather high…

        I dreamt last night,
        She was sleeping there in jeans rather tight
        Of Blender’s Pride, I had taken my usual dose
        At Nagpur- damn it, Chennai is not too close
        But somewhere in that AC I coach, I knew with a start,
        She stretched, yawned like almost a piece of art,
        I looked at the maiden on my former seat
        One look, and I slinked away upstairs, in defeat!

         

        In the early, or, late morning sometime, the sun was up,
        I was upstairs still, sipping “deep-deep tea” from a paper cup
        I asked my co-passenger down there on the seat below
        Why is the GT Express running so slow?
        But she was manicuring, obvious talons- her nails
        She said hoarsely, paisub- I know nothing of Indian Rails…
        It was inauspicious, and I could see
        To converse, she won’t be free!

        The waiter said breakfastomletcutletbreadbutterrrrrrand-toast
        I grinned at Ms Reluctant – I wished to be her host!
        Miss R got up and said no, then yes
        Things are bad, in fact a real mess
        Do you mind if I adjust my dress
        To wear more, or to wear less
        Or even, the hell with it, just undress
        While your eyes pop out, seeing my flesh?
        What the hell- I could tell,
        This was the first, a warning bell.

        The train rolled on, I stayed in the upper deck,
        Though in the interregnum, I peeped at R, what the heck…
        She was eyeing herself, this and that
        Those things that women usually know
        Ahem, this and that, purse open- purse close, so…
        And she caught me staring, and thus began a minor spat
        She says what’s wrong, you old coot, you brat?
        I asked R, Miss, you in the show biz?
        The answer was just a glum yes, true it is…
        I asked her Miss, do you like this, and showed her The Pride of Blender
        And she smiled, and now, she had broken her moral fender!

         

        The train had reached Ballarshah,
        The platform was littered with kapi and dosa
        The maiden below had failed to oblige
        She in fact sprung a bitter surprise,
        She yelled- you think you are in my swayambar
        I said no, I am the shooting unit’s lowly plumber
        Between the scenes I hose down the audience
        Raring to go at you, I make them see sense…
        She said pah!
        The train rolled out of Ballarshah…

         

        There was a halt, I peeped out,
        Vijayawada, Vijayawada, heard someone shout
        And they clambered down, sixteen members of a family
        A young boy, said, Momma, I wanna do
        He began the proscribed act, rapidly too!

        I returned to my upper abode, another peg,
        I was snoring, and when awake, there was this leg…
        Miss Rakhi was irate, she said, I will blog
        I will tell all you were the obdurate dog
        Snoring above me in the upper berth
        Six hours at a stretch… a fat poet with a massive girth
        I told her, but it is just me here
        And she said did you look at yourself recently dear?
        She asked, am I looking lovely and blinked her eyes
        But I knew better to answers, I swatted at imaginary flies!

         

        But Madam R is a big blogger, and I, just a plastic poet
        I guess you know Miss R, I bet!
        Soon we reached Basin Bridge,
        Miss R grinned, she said excooz me pliz
        She jumped into the basin, and was gone
        As if on her tail was Gabbar, the mafia don!
        I shook my head- I had no way to say
        That I had suffered all the way…
        Hallucinations, in an empty coach, Blenders
        Has made me rather happy, and tender!

        So we meet soon, eh Bloggers?

        No Blending please…

         

         

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        Spring, North East India and sensuality

        When you think of the spring season, what are the things that spring to your mind? Colours! Flowers! Love! Merry making and festivals! Right?

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        Under licence of creative commons
        Photographer -Rajkumar 1220

        There are some words or abstract images associated with the spring season which are universal- earth, fertility, romance, festive thoughts- be it the May pole or even the Bihu tolis (or Bihu grounds). No wonder, spring is usually celebrated with much fanfare in most parts of the globe and in many cultures as the New year, where people ready themselves for the next sowing season. The insinuation to fertility and seeding is palpable in most of the rituals of the spring festivities.

        Even North East of India has an amazing array of celebrations and rituals for this time of the season. After much efforts and promotion, people all over the world have become aware of the Rongali bihu as the mainstay spring time festival of Assam, but are the people aware of Chapcharkut from Mizoram, The Garia puja of the Tripuris, Myoko or Mloko festival of the Apatanis, Moaste and Tsichye from Nagaland, Cheiraoba and Lai Haroba from Manipur? And there are so many more if we consider the sub tribes of the hills too in the same breath.

        Springtime, the beginning of the sowing season has an amazing effect on man as the landscape changes from the dull grey to the fresh green and  symbolizes new beginnings, hopes , newer dreams and urges and is considered the best time for festivities which are marked by rejoicing and merry making.

        Some tribes start early to welcome the spring season, as in the Apatanis who hold a Morom festival in the month of February, in preparation of the season.

        The Tripuris worship their deity Garia after seven days of springtime revelry.

        The Mizos celebrate Chapcharkut with three –four days of merriment.

        The Mloko or Myoko festival is marked by animal sacrifice for the Gods in a flower garden, followed by community feasts and rejoicing.

        The Moaste and the Tsichye are the spring festivals of the Aos and the Rengmas of Nagaland.

        The Konyaks of Nagaland too celebrate the season with dancing and singing.

        bihu1Even the Bihu from Assam if scrutinized minutely, will be seen incorporating in its rituals, diverse traits of Austric , Mongoloid and Aryan origins.

        Many of the hill tribes of Assam observe their unique version of their own spring festival. Ali –ai-Ligang of the Mishings, Bahgiye vishu of the Deuri , Boisakhu of the Rabhas.

        In fact, many of the features of the ceremony and celebrations are common among the various tribes, as in – ceremonial reception to elders, gifts to friends and relatives, community feasts with money and materials gathered as reward from households by group of singers and dancers, rituals for welfare of cattle and so on.

         

        The spring time festivals are mostly related to the sowing season, as the earth is in its most fertile during spring.

        The people see the fertility of the field usually linked to their own amorous and emotional urges, characteristic of the aura of romance in the air and hence the rituals and the song and dance are heavily influenced by sensuousness.

        “As a women embraces her lover,so may the earth take the seed of the rice into her womb”

        The theme of the music and dance celebrating spring season, in keeping with the connection to fertility is often erotic

        The Apatanis during the Morom festival perform symbolic dances sporting huge bamboo phalli.

        The Tangsas of Arunachal also reportedly perform an erotic dance during their sowing season.

        The Chai dance of the Chap char kut  also “exhibit amorous preponderance”

        The Bihu songs are also mostly expressions of amorous and erotic feelings and as dance and songs go hand in hand in folk traditions, even the dance form is an expression of their ecstasy on being caught in the throes of the spring season.

        Bihu dance is seen in its most intense form amongst the Mishings. A Mishing romantic number depicting the agony of a deserted lover is so full of drama, that it has been said to bring tears to most of the listeners.

        It is the music and love of her beloved that makes an Assamese girl restless during Bihu season which can be seen from the following lines :

        “When you blow your pipe yonder

        And tune your fingers play

        My eyes move for a passing glance

        Beyond the precincts of the gateway

        The shuttle falls, as my hands quiver,

        Though I sit with the loom well nigh”

         

         

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         The entire process of creation is enacted during Lai Haroba through the medium of dance, right from the meeting between the God and the Goddess, sowing of human seed in the womb, birth and growth of a child.

        The North East of India is a colourful land of colourful people and a colourful life.     Not even poverty, natural disasters and insurgency can bog down the spirit of the people here. Come spring and every year people forget their day to day woes, world issues, national and political matters to rejoice as one common spirit.

        Every spring the blue hills and the green valleys come alive with celebrations of life and nature!

        One has to be in the land to experience the throbbing, pulsating, jubilant moments of the festivals.

        So , the coming spring, where do you intend to be?

         

         

        The Luxury of Language

         

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        Part One:

        Have you ever wondered what role language plays in determining the intensity of your life experience? Do you think language can intensify or dilute your experience? Does your experience change because of the words you use in defining it?

        Some of you would be shaking your head. You would be saying that human emotions are not at the mercy of language. Perhaps you’d be saying that even without the words to identify those emotions, the intensity of the human experience would have been as vivid and vibrant. In a way, you would be right.

        But tell me this. Do you not find that your experience becomes a lot more meaningful and deep when it is shared with someone? What happens when it is shared and your listener resonates with you? It was the same experience as before, but does it not feel as if more color and depth had been added to it? Does it not seem more vibrant and alive?

        Even with the use of language, we frequently find communication gaps. Can you imagine the chaos if there were no language at all.?!!

        Our existence would be reduced to a very basic, single dimensional level. We would have to rely entirely on our ability to express through non-verbal methods. At the most, a few inarticulate sounds would limit our expressions. And… you certainly wouldn’t be reading this post. The thought of a world without language would more or less take us back further in time than the Stone age. I don’t know about you, but I am sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself at all. One would more or less be wasting the entire day gathering/ cooking food. And starting off all over again-over and over; Wouldn’t it be unbearably boring? And mind- numbingly silly? One would never be able to rant at all… or be sarcastic…! How pathetically dull that sounds..! I am beginning to feel very ill already…!

        Let us, therefore, veer away from the possibility of that horror and tackle the possibility of a lesser evil. What if our language was much poorer in range and expression than it is?

        Did you know, there are no true synonyms in the English Language? No two words mean exactly the same thing. In Indian languages, we have multiple names for the same thing. For example, in Hindi (the only Indian language I know), there are nine words that mean LOTUS. (If you know Hindi, check it out HERE). The total number of words in an Indian language like Hindi, are unknown.

        In English, there is just one word which means ‘lotus’. There are over three million words in the English language. Most people have anywhere from 3,000 to 50,000 words in their working vocabulary which contains the words your habitually use. If each of those words meant something different, even if they are separated by a slight nuance of meaning, imagine the range of emotions/ experiences that we may express..!

        There are multiple layers to how language can add depth and color to life’s experiences. The experience can be as rich, luxurious and multi- dimensional as a pile rug or it can be flat, meagre and single- dimensional as a bare stone floor.

        To further demonstrate what I mean, I’ll share a longish passage from Anthony Robbin’sAwaken The Giant Within and I quote:

        The experience that first triggered this insight (regarding how words affect the intensity of our experience) for me occurred several years ago in a business meeting. I was with two men, one who used to be the CEO of one of my companies and the other a mutual associate and good friend. In the midst of the meeting we received some rather upsetting news. Someone with whom we were negotiating was obviously “trying to take unfair advantage,” had violated the integrity of our understanding, and it appeared he had the upper hand. To say the least, this angered and upset me, but although I was caught up in the situation, I couldn’t help but notice how differently the two people sitting next to me responded to the same information. My CEO was out of control with rage and fury while my associate was hardly moved by the situation. How could all three of us hear of these actions that should have impacted us all equally (we all had the same stake in the negotiation), yet respond in such radically different ways?

        Quite honestly, the intensity of my CEO’s response to the situation seemed even to me to be disproportionate to what had occurred. He kept talking about how “furious” and “enraged” he was, as his face turned beet-red and the veins in his forehead and neck visibly protruded. He clearly linked acting on his rage with either eliminating pain or gaining pleasure. When I asked him what being enraged meant to him, why he was allowing himself to be so intense about this, through clenched teeth he said, “If you’re in a rage, you get stronger, and when you’re strong, you can make things happen—you can turn anything around!”

        He regarded the emotion of rage as a resource for getting himself out of the experience of pain and into the pleasure of feeling like he was in control of the business.

        I then turned to the next question in my mind: Why was my friend responding to the situation with almost no emotion at all? I said to him, “You don’t seem to be upset by this. Aren’t you angry?” And my CEO said, “Doesn’t it make you FURIOUS?” My friend simply said, “No, it’s not worth being upset over.” As he said this, I realized that in the several years I  had known him, I’d never seen him very upset about anything. I asked him what being upset meant to him, and he responded, “If you get upset, then you lose control.” “Interesting,” I thought. “What happens if you lose control?” He said matter-of-factly, “Then the other guy wins.”

        I couldn’t have asked for a greater contrast: one person clearly linked the pleasure of taking control to becoming angry, while the other linked the pain of losing control to the same emotion. Their behaviour obviously reflected their beliefs. I began to examine my own feelings. What did I believe about this?

        For years I’ve believed that I can handle anything if I’m angry, but 1 also believe that I don’t have to be angry to do so. I can be equally effective in a peak state of happiness. As a result, I don’t avoid anger—I use it if I get in that state—nor do I pursue it, since I can access my strength without being “furious.” What really interested me was the difference in the words that we all used to describe this experience. I had used the words “angry” and “upset,” my CEO had used the words “furious” and “enraged,” and my friend had said that he was “a bit annoyed” by the experience. I couldn’t believe it!

        Annoyed?!

        I turned to him and said, “That’s all you feel, just a little bit annoyed? You must get really angry or upset some of the time.” He said, “Not really. It takes a lot to make that happen, and it almost never occurs.” I asked him, “Do you remember the time the IRS took a quarter- of a million dollars of your money, and it was their mistake? Didn’t it take you two and a half years to get the money back? Didn’t that make you unbelievably angry?” My CEO chimed in, “Didn’t that make you LIVID?” He said, “No, it didn’t upset me. Maybe I was a little bit peeved.” Peeved? I thought this was the stupidest word I’d ever heard! I would never have used a word like that to describe my emotional intensity. How could this wealthy and successful businessman go around using a word like “peeved” and still keep a straight face? The answer is, he didn’t keep a straight face! He seemed almost to enjoy talking about things that would have driven me crazy.

        I began to wonder, “If I did use that word to describe my emotions, how would I begin to feel? Would I find myself smiling where I used to be stressed? Hmmm,” I thought, “maybe this warrants some looking into.” For days after that, I continued to be intrigued by the idea of using my friend’s language patterns and seeing what it would do to my emotional intensity. What might happen if, when I was feeling really angry, I could turn to somebody and say, “This really peeves me!”? Just the thought of it made me laugh—it was so ridiculous. For fun, I decided to give it a shot. I got my first opportunity to use it after a long night flight when I arrived at my hotel. Because one of my staff had neglected to handle the check-in for me, I had the privilege of standing at the front desk for an extra fifteen or twenty minutes, physically exhausted and at my emotional threshold. The clerk dragged himself to the check-in counter and began to hunt-and-peck my name into the computer at a pace that would make a snail impatient. I felt “a bit of anger” welling up inside of me, so I turned to the clerk and said, “You know, I know this isn’t your fault, but right now I’m exhausted and I need to get to my room quickly because the longer I stand here the more I fear I will become a bit PEEVED.”

        The clerk glanced up at me with a somewhat perplexed look, and then broke a smile. I smiled back; my pattern was broken. The emotional volcano that had been building up inside of me instantly cooled and then two things happened. I actually enjoyed visiting for a few moments with the clerk, and he sped up. Could just putting a new label on my sensations be enough to break my pattern and truly change my experience? Could it really be that easy? What a concept! Over the next week, I tried my new word over and over again. In each case, I found that saying it had the impact of immediately lowering my emotional intensity. Sometimes it made me laugh, but at the very minimum it stopped the momentum of being upset from rushing me into a state of anger. Within two weeks, I didn’t even have to work on using the word: it became habitual. It became my first choice in describing my emotions, and I found myself no longer getting in these extremely angry states at all. I became more and more fascinated with this tool that I’d stumbled across. I realized that by changing my habitual vocabulary, I was transforming my experience; I was using what I would later call “Transformational Vocabulary.” Gradually, I began to experiment with other words, and I found that if I came up with words that were potent enough, I could instantly lower or increase my intensity about virtually anything.

        Unquote

        You may call a manwell- behaved or gentlemanly but the word chivalrous depicts something a lot more complex than just good manners and courtesy. The words sadness and sorrow, though used interchangeably, are not the same. The difference is of intensity. You may feel sad that you lost your favourite sweater, but the sadness cannot compare with the sorrow of having lost your best friend.

        The words you use can add or diminish the potency of your emotional responses. An inappropriate word- while it will convey the general meaning- will not accurately portray your exact emotion. A few well- chosen words can contain an ocean of meaning in a sentence.

        To be continued…

        BLUE BUBBLES, RED DREAMS

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        She surfaced from time to time to her real-time world of terror!

         

        She had OD-ied again today, wondering if that would bring her sleep- of any kind, may the long one- she was not afraid. She was staring into the PC screen, wondering if she could talk to someone, unaware of the blank look in her eye!

         

        Damn it she thought, why? What was seeking expression inside her? She wanted her friend to come up on the net- he was another character- rather unusual. He talked, suggested and brought out things that were inside and was gentle with her…

         

        It was with a start that she realized that she was here for the last thirty minutes, in a daze, wondering whether she should hit the key board! She had a turmoil ravaging her soul for the past twenty years, and her “Friend”, as she called him, would have something to say on that!

         

        She was wondering – strangely she resented why recalcitrant Death would not take her- she needed sleep!

         

        My mind rolled fast- I was trying to link up what she had told me from so far away, halfway across the globe. She said I had a solution for everything- I was one who hated chaos in any form, even nascent, baby chaos was abominable to me- I wanted solutions to every problem, even to this lady that I was counseling, she was an anomaly I wanted to solve quickly, and get on to my ways!

         

        “I am not looking for solutions, Friend,” she had said- “I want to live like this”- when I had suggested that she move out to a seaside resort- take long walks and break out of her cocoon.

         

        I thought I would like to bring her out of her melancholy, and walk with her. She was vulnerable and frail… looked so, and definitely felt so…

         

        Inside his mind I could feel the cogs whirling- thinking out fast, trying to fathom my mind. I have this uncanny feeling- how does he know me in just two days of acquaintance- I have a nagging doubt- I have told him so many times, I am not trying to walk out of my life as of now, nor am I looking for a solution. I liked his own saying- nothing lasts, no problem lasts, nor the solution- everything erodes like stone does with the wind.

         

        Dust to dust…

         

        Why then do I worry- is he my savior?

         

        Would he take me on walk, a long one, and recite his poems again- poems of the midnight hues- I just know him by his voice, and his fast typing at the speed of thought

         

        Talk to me,

        Till there is no more to say!

        Walk with me,

        Till we reach the sunset,

        And through the night,

        Into a new day!

        Hold my hands,

        For I am your friend!

        Speak not of love,

        Nor of other chains,

        But of the moment that is,

        Forever now, again and again!

         

        Somehow, I am drifting- I guess it is the OD that is seeping into me, looking into Friend from so far away, wondering why you came into this parched desert awake for an eternity…the days of dreams, the nights of tossing in nightmares

         

        Oh! The roar of the sea

        In my island heights

        The breeze in my face

        Midnight hit me

        On the white sands

        At sunrise,

        I would be asleep

        Adrift

        In my dream

        High above in the sky

        Tossed hard in the winds

        On wings

        I see

        That sleeping near-dead

        Drugged one asleep

        At long last

        I let her be

        In her youthful play

        Gasping for air

        In the blue bubbles

        Spanning the horizon

        Where the clouds meet the sea

         

        I had told her sometime back that she should try to dream, and how to get those through thought control. She has a habit of regressing into negative thoughts- she has not yet told me why she stays with her past. I am thinking hard- what is she up to?

         

        Friend has this habit of analyzing problems, his cogs are fast- he is into his analytics again, 2+2=2, 4, 22! No, fatal error, the 2+2 tablets are not 4,… they are sleep- Friend I have found a solution, right? It hardly matters. Friend you know me- I am my alter ego, I am me… whatever that means, and I am drifting away from my soul- Oh he is here too, am I hallucinating- I cannot see his face, but he is touching me again with his faraway poem again… Friend loves reciting Neruda

         

        I want you to know one thing.

        You know how this is if I look,

        At the crystal moon

        At the red branch

        Of the slow autumn at my window,

         

        Friend, I shriek, why have you stopped, I am lost here staring at the blue sky- living within the pit, I can still see that the sky has you, and you have the sea. The window sill is where the dust settles and I see your foot prints leaving imprints every time you go away. The only thing I know sometime, is when you walk into my world and say- “Wake up J, it’s me” is I see the face of heaven!

         

        If I touch near the fire,

        The impalpable ash

        Or the wrinkled body of the log,

        Everything carries me to you,

        As if everything that exists,

        Aromas, light, metals

        Were little boats that sail

        Towards those isles of yours

        That wait for me!

         

        I hear the bubbles swarming past, I wish my love would come and ask me for a dance, maybe he would take on where Friend left off, oh…

         

        Well, now, if little by little

        You stop loving me,

        I shall stop loving you

        Little by little.

        If suddenly you forget me,

        Do not look for me,

        For I shall have already forgotten you.

        If you think it long and mad,

        The wind of banners

        That pass through my life,

        And you decide to leave me

        At the shore of the heart

        Where I have roots,

        Remember on that day,

        At that hour I shall lift my hands

        And my roots shall set sail for another land.

        But if each day, each hour

        You feel that you are destined for me,

        With implacable sweetness,

        If each day a flower

        Climbs up your lips to seek me,

        Ah my love, my own

        In me all that fire is repeated,

        In me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,

        My love depends on your love, beloved,

        And as long as you live,

        It will be in your arms,

        Without leaving mine

         

        I want to scale the sky, I think Friend’s mathematical skill does not add up to all those things I want, because there is just one me, and two souls, one that was killed of love and one that wants to fly away. Hell, Friend I feel your gentle whispers telling me, yes, I can fly… yes!

         

        Friend can you bring my world back? The rainbows and dreams? I can take on the clouds even as rain wets my wings heavy, the thunder buffets me, the birds plummeting ground wards look for their nests, and I soar with the four seeds of death, racing through my blood.

         

        The phone rang.

        “I am J,” she says, “you know me, I am J, Friend!”

        I am stunned. I said, I would be with you in a jiffy! I ask her to dress up- I would take her for a walk by the white sand beach! She gasps-

         

        It was raining hard when we reached the beach. She was silent- and crying in whimpers. I made no effort to console her- “Friend, why do I have to cry?”

         

        I see it all now, Friend is with me, reading my mind, I want to walk when the rain stops- I would walk into the sea, alone, with only Friend watching, as the sea swallows me. I have found my answers. May be I would be caught by Lucifer- for the sea is a desert too- sand below, water for a sky, am I a mermaid to be?

         

        I dream, Friend is there walking with me too… he never touches my skin, he is inside, like my soul. He knows.

         

        Friend stands still at the edge of the beach, waving me bye! The water is strangely calm- the sky is a bright blue bubble in my red dream.

         

        I walk on!

        PLAYING THE BROKEN HARP

        Relationships: Heartbreak Lane: Bhabana Pathak studies the emotions of a young lady who is undergoing a traumatic experience…

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        I wake up.  Two messages blinking in my cell. Reading them, I carefully chose my words, typing a reply.

         

        I look out of my window and see the rising sun. Somehow I am reminded of a line by Dumbledore, “Oh to be young and to feel love’s keen sting”. I smile in melancholy. I am pulled back to the present by the familiar wails of a neighbor’s kid. It’s like clockwork. Every day at the same time he would wail and I am forced to give up my last minute hassle with sleep. The wall clock warns me that if I do not rise and shine, I am bound to be thrashed in the first class itself.

         

        I was late for my classes. Struggling hardly through the overcrowded bus, I manage to claim a seat.

         

        A window seat.

         

        A fat lady sits by me. I feel myself squeezed between the side of the bus and her tummy and slowly the conductor arrives, “Maina, kotjaaba?”

         

        I am surprised for a brief moment and then fumble into my bag for money. “Guwahati Club”, I sharply reply. I am furious. Who am I? The universal Maina!

         

        I look into nothingness and am reminded of her words. She seemed to be in pain. Maybe I will understand but that will not be enough to soothe the turmoil in her heart. I have practically grown up along her side, matured together. I saw her transforming from an introvert to a love struck teenager.

         

        I have seen her laugh. I have seen her grumpy. But to hear her cry and mouth unclear words between sobs- was unfamiliar territory.

         

        I do not understand the depth of relationships due to my own misgivings. I do not understand how two people, after being so thick, cease to feel the extent of hurt, they are causing to the other. I have memories swirling in my mind of them together…carefree laughter and evening strolls. And how difficult it had been back then for us to meet without him tagging along.

         

        They were like cup and saucer.

         

        I wonder, if I am troubled by them, what state would she be in?

         

        I am engrossed in my lectures. By 1.30 I went down and called her. She was on her way. I meet her down the over bridge. She tells me that she wants to someplace to sit. I suggest we eat something. I take her to a small restaurant you get the best chow mein in Guwahati.  I gesturedto the waiter for the usual and he brought our food with a smile.
        “Do you know him?” she asks me quizzically. I laugh, “Well I get to eat the cheapest chow mein here. Regular customer you see. He ought to know me”. She forces spoonful and I notice her teary eyes. I knew she wasn’t up to eating anymore. I do not push her. I let her be whatever she wanted that day.

        She insisted on going to Dighalipukhuri.  I passed by that pond for two years yet never entered its infamous premises.

         

        “If my father sees me sitting here, I am sure as hell dead’, I comment warningly. “You have a jumper with a hood! You won’t be dead so easily”, she teased me. Pun was intended.

         

        Nevertheless she needed to be heard. And water bodies are calm. I needed to soothe her. Reinvigorate her.

         

        I have always held a fascination for water bodies. I listened as my eyes followed the ripples in the pond. She took long pauses between her words. I could feel her pain but the breeze brought calmness around. I didn’t say much. I couldn’t.  She needed to let out her words. The mind must get rid of troubled thoughts for if harbored, they cause harm. To both the owner of the thoughts and the one thought about. It was a cleansing ritual.

         

        It happened to be a chilly afternoon. She told me that she was getting cold; the flag flutteringvigorously above the High Court indicated that the wind was getting stronger. While returning I asked her if she would be ok. She wanted to commute alone. I argued but in vain. I knew the reason but didn’t say anything further. Commuting had never been a lone job for her; she had been dependent on him for so long. I let her be. Another aspect of the ritual- to let go of old habits. I silently laughed at myself. Was I turning into a Shaman to follow such rituals?

         

        As I began retreating my way back I kept thinking. How long does love last? Or it’s the beckoning of a charmed affair that perishes with time?

         

        I notice two men hurling at each other. A familiar lunatic in the streets of Ganeshguri (sometimes I wonder where does she collect different clothes after every few days) and a horde of beggars by the temple. I get up in a waiting rickshaw and as I look at the drowning sun, some thoughts float in my mind –“There are many battles to be fought- many hurdles in the way. The future is uncertain. Yes, it hurts to have your heart broken. But then isn’t it part of the bargain when we fall in love? We rise again. All is not yet lost.”

         

        BhabanaPathak

        bhavnapathak123@gmail.com

        The IPL Till Now And Further

        Pepsi-IPL-2013-Match-Ticket-Booking-Process

        The Indian Premiere League season 6, owned now by Pepsi started on 2nd April with the inaugural function hosted at Kolkata’s Eden Garden.
        Performances from the prettiest faces of the country brought the atmosphere alive. The captains of all the IPL teams then made their way for the face-off for the trophy of this IPL. Four Indians, Three Sri Lankans, Two Australians form the captains team for this season of IPL.
        We have a new owner for the team of Hyderabad this season and hence a new name. The Deccan Chargers are now the Sun Risers Hyderabad; pretty same team to play with though. The champion team of IPL season 2, but has not been performing well enough to its standards following that.
        The rest of the teams, apparently pretty well balanced, too start the new season with a new zeal.
        The talk of the town however was Ponting leading the Mumbai Indians side having Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar. All of whom were involved in the Monkey-Gate case which involved huge controversy in cricket throughout the world.
        About the teams:
        Chennai has always played like a team who will be the safe bet for a man who does not follow the IPL. Amazing IPL record!
        Kolkata are doing very well under Gambhir and currently the defending champions.
        Rahul Dravid is leading Rajasthan for the second season this year and he is one reason the foreign audience watches the IPL.
        Delhi led by Jayawardene without KP looks a little weak-The dark horses this IPL?
        Pune Warriors have the comeback man, Yuvraj Singh who will hog the entire limelight away from this team.
        Gilly leads Punjab XI side. He hasn’t been doing very well but he was an IPL winning captain of Hyderabad team in IPL – 2.
        Hyderabad led by a new captain and a new owner, have a fierce pace attack which can create tension in the oppositions.
        Mumbai Indians is the controversy filled team this season. Ponting led, they also have a million dollar boy, Glen Maxwell-The only million dollar buy this season.
        Last but not the least, RCB-The Royal Challengers Bangalore have been the only philanthropist team in the IPL. They promote a green Bangalore and take initiatives to do good to the city and the stadium. Owned by Vijay Mallaya, they are the most glamorous and flamboyant team with the much loved, Chris Gayle.
        So this was an insight to the teams.
        Catch this space for IPL updates and know about stories making the rounds.

        MIRACULOUS VISION

        This story by Kunal Borah, Assam Engineering College, was an entry in the Sci Fi Eclat contest held by IIT Guwahati for Techniche’ 2012

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        ABSTRACT      

        What initially seemed to be another dull scientific conference with her parents, soon manages to intrigue the protagonist. She listens with rapt attention to the girl Mauli Vashisht, who was once blind and now narrates how nanotechnology, a fledging science, has helped her regain her vision. As intricacies of this new and exciting field of innovation are laid bare by an imminent scientist, Dr. Jayanth Ramanarayan, who invented a technology that would allow a blind patient to see the world again, one wonders the possible impact it can have on human life. Was the technology used on Mauli worth a try or did it lead to serious implications later? In what way did this sophisticated science, not short of being a miracle, have an effect on the life of the protagonist? This story on the bliss of Nanotechnology is a heart-warming tale of how this new-age science can restore sight in blind people, and help one realise their dreams. As the story reaches its end, one is greeted by a dramatic twist.

         

        The conference hall was buzzing with scores of people, most of them in well-pressed formal wear and sporting an air of brilliance with their looks. In fact, most of their scientists and people were connected with the realm of science. The organizers were busy making the last amends on the stage and the VIP enclosure. It was a big day today. My father told me that we were about to be part of a new dawn in the field of science. A new chapter in medical research would be scripted today! I wondered what the fuss was all about.

        I was seated in one of the rows with my parents, coming all the way from Coimbatore in a somewhat tiring four hour journey. My parents have never missed an opportunity to attend conferences related to the field of science and bringing me along every time. They both loved science and felt that I would be influenced and inspired by the discussions that happened in such events. But, today, I was not in the mood of attending the event. I wished to eat out at the Chilli Snack with my parents.

        “Papa, don’t you think we could have eaten out today instead of coming here?”

        My father seemed a little startled with my question and replied, “Well it seems you don’t like being here. Should I get you a cold drink? It’s getting a little hot in here.”

        I realised I shouldn’t have put up the question in the first place. He had made plans to attend this event two weeks ago and I did not want to upset him with my irritation.

        “It’s ok, papa” I said, a little embarrassed. “I hope the event offers something special.”

        “You will see beti.” My father whispered softly into my ear.

        Suddenly, I heard the microphone come to life. A confident voice caught the attention of the audience. The event had finally started. It was about how an upcoming science, nanotechnology has been used to find out a path-breaking cure to blindness. I decided to give ears to the emcee. The conference finally gripped my interest!

        As the guests were introduced, I clearly heard the name of Jayanth Ramanarayan, professor of Nano-technology at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and one of the pioneers in developing nano-cells to cure blindness in human beings. He was one of the few persons my father looked up to as a role-model and spoke to me in the leisure hours how he felt that this great person would one day stir up a revolution in medical diagnosis in our country. There were several other names of different scientists being called, but my ears skipped the detail.

        The next moment the hall suddenly erupted with thunderous claps. I was not paying attention at that moment, so I could not make out the reason behind it. I gently poked my mother and asked her about the sudden applause. Amma said that the emcee had just spoken about the main attraction of the event. She was Mauli Vashisht, a blind person since birth, she could now see due to a certain invention churned out of nanotechnology by Dr. Jayanth Ramanarayan. A sheer wave of thrill ran through my body!

        I then heard the girl speak, her voice brimming with joy and a sense of achievement. The speech she gave changed my life completely…

        Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I still find it tough to accept that I’m actually standing here to see all the people gathered here, admire the myriad of colours in this hall which would not have fit into my reality a few months ago. What nanotechnology has given me today is more than just a gift and I am overwhelmingly grateful to Ramanarayan sir for believing that his nano-cells could actually return sight to a blind person. Sir, thank you for giving me a new lease of life. As already mentioned by the host, I was born blind and the journey to this day has not been easy…

        I still remember my school days when my best friend, Geeta and I used to sit in the school park and she would describe the scenery to me – beautiful nature, the different hues of hills, grasses, flowers and butterflies. She believed that even if I could not see anything, I could still picture the scene mentally. She would drag me to the local pond and recite the tales of the fishermen as if I could visualise them throwing their nets for a bountiful catch. Sometimes, she was unstoppable during a TV show; I barely managed to hear a word. After all, she was the commentator. She was, in fact, my sight, my guide to a world that I could only feel.

        Years passed on. My days at school were soon to be over and I began to accept the harsh reality that being a blind girl, I couldn’t stand up to this world. My mother often lamented that no boy would want to marry a blind girl. I was in despair for some time.

        Then one day, Geeta ran up to me and proclaimed in elation that her father had finally found a way to restore sight in blind individuals using nano-science. And I feel so thrilled to say that Geeta’s father is none other than Mr. JayanthRamanarayan. Sir, I would be really happy if you could brief everyone here about your breakthrough discovery. I am sure it will cause a sensation!

        I heard the scientist walk up to the stage and tap the microphone. Amma mentioned that my father had moved to occupy the first row. I guess he was extremely excited to hear him speak. Mr. Ramanarayan finally released the details of his path-breaking research to the media and the world. And I was all ears to his speech…

        Thank you Mauli, I feel so proud of you. Ladies and gentlemen, a big round of applause for this brave girl who never lost hopes and had faith in me that my discovery would allow her to see this world one day.

        The hall thundered with the sound of clapping hands. I too joined in.

        I had always been fascinated by the nano-world and the magic at the atomic level. During my days at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the year 2007, I was fortunate to be considered for the team that would work on restoration of blindness using nanotechnology. A group of scientists from the Hong Kong University had arrived at the institute and in collaboration with our team, successfully managed to cure blindness in hamsters using this science, an area that involved the manipulation of atoms and molecules.

        First, they cut the optical nerve tract in hamsters to imitate the effect of a traumatic brain injury. Next, they injected the hamsters with a fluid containing synthetically made peptides. These peptides spontaneously bridged the gap between the nerves; restoring sight to the hamsters. I was mesmerised by the observation and imagined the limitless possibilities it could offer!

        When I returned to India in 2009, my daughter Geeta asked me once, “Daddy is there any way you can help my friend Mauli? You know she is blind and from what I’ve figured out these days is that she doesn’t feel quite hopeful of her future due to her disability.” At first, I ignored the proposition; I had just returned from the States witnessing the restoration of blindness in hamsters, and I had not quite envisioned the application of the discovery on humans. But my daughter insisted that I at least make an effort and I had to oblige.

        In those days, one of my scientist friends in Chennai was working on the prospect of preventing degeneration of the human eye using nanotechnology in combination with chemistry.  I contacted him and paid him a visit in his sprawling lab at Chennai. He told me that age-related blindness, cataract and other retinal diseases can be prevented and cured with the help of nanoparticles that carry therapeutic agents. All these days, people take medicines either orally or intravenously and seldom anyone knows how much of the medicine actually reaches the targeted tissue. However, with nanotechnology it is possible to create a nanoparticle that can sort of impersonate the medicine and easily reach the concerned tissue. As nanoparticles can permeate any membrane like the eye lens they would easily reach the tissue.

        One of the journalists suddenly popped up a question to Mr. Ramanarayan, “Sir, so you actually worked on a medicine which can restore sight. But would it not have side-effects?”

        JayanthRamanarayan perhaps did not like the interruption. Fumbling in a grunted tone over the mike, he resumed his speech, giving a reply to the curious journalist.

        I suggest you allow me to complete my speech. I haven’t even arrived at my actual research. The application of nanotechnology to the field of medicine had bright prospects but a serious problem haunted the scientists at the Chennai laboratory. You see, each cell in the body had a marker, which needed to be identified for the affected cells and tissues to be treated. The nanoparticles carrying the therapeutic material would be administered intravenously into the patients’ blood system. The nanoparticles would embed themselves to the red blood corpuscles and be transported to different parts of the body. The specific cells which have been marked, would then accept the therapeutic agent on coming in contact with the RBCs. However, identifying the correct marker in the retinal cells in a blind person was a problem, on which a lot of research is still going on.

        I realised that use of nanoparticles in this form was a futile endeavour. The focus should be on making something that could be permanently grafted in the eye so that there was no chance of it getting damaged or functionless. I thought of the idea of developing a nano-camera that could be implanted in the cornea or the retina in the eye, so that it could take in the rays and send a visual to the brain through nerve receptors. I took it as a challenge to work on such a possibility and help Mauli and other blind people like her get back their sight. After getting her parents’ consent on taking her with me to America for treatment, I finally left Indian soil in February 2010 with my daughter and Mauli.

        Another journalist stood up and asked the scientist, “Sir, if I am right, the pair of glasses Miss Mauli is wearing now is your invention, isn’t it?”

        Oh, you guessed it correctly. These glasses are a gift of nanotechnology and I have been able to develop it, thanks to my fellow scientists at the University of Utah in America. When I landed there with the two girls, I got quick news that the scientists at the institute had discovered that electrically stimulating the brains of blind patients generates small spots of white light called “phosphenes.” One of the scientists, Dr. Patrick Vaun did a lot of research on this field and made a tiny digital television camera mounted on eyeglasses. He called it the Nanotube. This device could relay information to a portable PC, worn on the patient’s belt. There, the information is translated into electrical signals which are sent via wires through a small incision in the skull to a plate of electrodes attached to the surface of the patient’s visual cortex. When equipped with the full unit, a patient sees a display of phosphenes, which gives the visual representation of the object or objects the eye focuses on.

        Without any delay, I met Dr. Patrick and discussed with him the possibility of using nanoparticles that would repair damaged retinal and cortical cells in the blind patient, and then using his invention to help the person regain sight. He at first expressed doubt over the success of rebuilding damaged cells as it would be time-consuming and economically unfeasible. Mauli, however, implored us to give it a shot. I really thank her for at that moment, even I seemed to give up hope but her words spurred me to move ahead.

        For around two weeks, we experimented in the university lab. I had called in a few scientists from the Hong Kong University too to aid us in our work. In the end, we managed to develop an electrode device which, rather than interfacing with the brain’s surface, penetrates the brain’s visual cortex, and is capable of stimulating individual neurons. Mauli volunteered for the surgery. I must say I had sweaty palms at that moment; I had a fear- what if the promise I made to my daughter and Mauli backfired?  The surgery went on for a tense four hours.  Using specially designed pipes, we had administered the peptide-rich nanoparticles into her optical tract the day before along with sending a tiny probe to analyse and see the particles getting into work. This probe was another invention made in the lab using a certain biomaterial enveloping a nano-sized camera that could focus to the cellular level. And we were overjoyed to find out that the optic nerve had been repaired! We then implanted the electrodes into the visual cortex and stimulated it with a minute electric charge. The rest of the procedure involved general eye surgery steps to close the incisions. After almost a day, Mauli regained her senses and I was a witness to this miracle. I asked her how she felt, to which she replied that she was eager to see the world.  I handed her the special glasses as they were the most essential part of the entire setup. And the rest is what you all can see now. Mauli can not only see today, but can perform like every normal human being. She soon plans to make my portrait in colour and I am looking forward to that day.

        The sound of loud applause echoed throughout the hall. I wanted to meet both the scientist and Mauli. What I heard in the past two hours had literally driven me crazy!

        My father rushed to me and took me by my hands. I asked him where he was taking me.

        Beti, I talked with the organisers and they have allowed me to meet JayanthRamanarayan”, my father exclaimed in sheer joy. I knew where this was leading to and I too felt a raw sense of excitement.

         

        Today I work as an independent wildlife photographer, getting to visit places where I wouldn’t have dreamt of twenty years back. I can now admire nature, the different hues of hills, grasses, flowers and butterflies. I still remember the night I met Mauli didi and Ramanarayan sir. What happened in the following years was no less a miracle for me. For a girl who was born blind, the only child of the parents who brought her to a conference that gifted her bliss of Nanotechnology.

        Grooming oneself: Wearing A Watch

         

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        A watch is a necessary part of daily life. More important is the fact that one should have the right watch to match one’s appearance. A watch does have an impact on the personality and one should choose the same with care and vision.

        Some key reasons as to why wearing the right watch improves your appearance:

        1. Compliments the Wrist

        Believe it or not, it is a reality that wearing the appropriate watch compliments the wrist in a perfect way. Be they men or women, the condition applies to both and a watch chosen with care does have a deep impact on the personality of the person. So choose your watch to wear, with care, and make you day better.

        2. A Fashion Statement

        It is true that watches for men and women alike have the capacity to make a fashion statement. If you choose a formal watch, people will take you to be a very sober person and will behave accordingly. If in case you decide to go in for a sports watch, you will appear as someone who can take things in their stride. Thus besides making a fashion statement, watches do have a binding effect on your personality and make others derive perceptions about you. Therefore, choose your watches with care and wear them with pride.

        3. Tells about Status Too

        Watches are status statements too… expensive watches reflect the financial well-being of a person and without saying a word they make others know of one’s financial and social worth. When one is thinking about going into some high end party or gathering, the best way to make one’s presence felt is to wear a matching watch that helps reflect the status. Without saying much one will be able to make their presence felt and be appreciated in the gathering.

        4. Compliments the Dress

        Watches compliment the dress too. Not only they add beauty to the dress but having a right watch makes heads turn in market and other social gatherings. People will appreciate your dress too, all thanks to the elegant watch that you have been wearing. Watches can also be used to tone down the dress in case the same is too loud or formal for the occasion.

        5. A Professional Necessity

        Watches can be a professional necessity too. If one has to appear for job interviews or attend some training related to some professional matter, watches can make all the difference. In fact having a appropriate watch has such a lasting effect that even if one is low in confidence, the appearance will over shadow this weakness and people present in the gathering will appreciate the efforts being put in by the person concerned to explain his or her position.

        A perfect watch can make all the difference between success and failure. Choose your watch with care and ensure that you make for a perfect person, be you be attending a personal gathering or some professional exercise.

        Choose the right watch and see the difference it makes to your appearance. The benefits will be for you to realize.

        About The Author: Kate is a writer/blogger. She loves writing, travelling and reading books. She contributes to Hydroxycut

        Editor’s Note: Tempted? Girls, wear the thinnest platinum strap watches… and no jewelry- you would be the toast of the party. And you guys, we know a fake Rolex too!

         

        Black pepper laced khichdi

          2

          It started with a facebook post where Sanzeeta ( our regular food desk editor ) asked of my favorite spice. And that’s black pepper. Not the finely powdered one but a little coarse crushed one . For better aroma , try roast the seeds before crushing.

          So , black pepper is a must for me with three things I love – Papayya , Curd ( specially Raita) and Khichdi .

          Today , I would share the recipe for khichdi which happens to be my and my mother’s favorite weekend lunch.

          You would need :

          DSCN5649

          (For 2 people)

          1 cup rice
          3/4th cup Pulses: I use moong daal(split green gram) mostly. But this one is with chana daal(split bengal gram). Add a little of masoor daal ( split red Lentil) ’cause it completely dissolves when you cook and give a good consistency to the dish.

          For seasoning – 1 tbsp salt , 1/2 tbsp crushed black pepper, 1/2 tbsp Jeera , 1 big tbsp grated ginger , 2 green chillies cut small , 2 tbsp oil ( or Ghee if you like )
          I also like some onions for seasoning.

          DSCN5652

          Wash & soak the pulses and rice for about an hour.
          In a cooker, heat half tbsp oil and add the rice and pulses.
          Add 5 cups of water and stir well.
          Close the lid and let it cook for 3 whistles.
          turn off the gas and let the cooker cool down on its own.

          Seasoning :
          In a pan, heat the oil.
          Add jeera , onions , green chillies and cook till the onions turn brown.
          Add all the spices and mix them well with the onions.

          Add the seasoning to the khichdi while its hot and mix well.

          DSCN5657

          Serve with curd (seasoned of course with Black Pepper) and pickle and paapad.

          Lamentation from an Unprivileged Land!

          by Meenu Joshi

          13688_wpm_lowres

          In this land of smoke and fire, the deathly stench of blood soaked mire.

          Demonstrations in a land far away,

          Effigies burnt down, voices frantic: “Love Peace” they say.

          Here I lose an arm, my friend an eye…all the demonstrations, the peace a lie.

          My sister raped, my children lost…raging war here, their peace’s cost.

          The armless boy’s brother lying face down in dust…he was run over today, ground the colour of rust.

          The friendly faces curse those mines,

          Who’s to win as liquor overflows..blood for us, for them wines.

          I kill, I murder, I shoot them blind…where’s my humanity, where’s humankind?

          Her cloak in tatters, her life forlorn…a thirteen year old mother with a forced unborn.

          As millions die, with eyes closed they pretend.

          Is it the end of the war, or the world’s end.

           

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