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Showing posts from September, 2006

Modernism in Delhi Architecture

Modernism in Delhi, a talk by K.T. Ravindran at the IIC annex, organized by the Attic, Delhi.

This talk focused on Jawaharlal Lal Nehru’s vision of architecture, in Post Independence Delhi, for a fifty year time period. This talk was very well researched and K.T. knew his material well, it was supplemented with photographs.

The ideological frame that modernity functioned in India was, the Gandhi – Nehru clash of visions, in reference to the role of architecture in modern India. Gandhi saw cities as clearing houses for village products. Bapu built Sevagram to highlight this vision. He started the Khadi movement in Wardha, as a protest against the cotton mills of Manchester. Nehru’s vision was more elitist, and he felt individuals should build houses that reflect their personal interest and style. He built the mill owners building in Ahmedabad. Gandhi was against industrialization, and wanted self-sufficient village communities, Nehru wanted industrialization and modernization was the wa…

open heart

The open heart, dharma in everyday life by Tenzin Palmo

Is a cave necessary in order to be a practioner?

In a bodhisattva’s path their are 6 paramitas in order to attain enlightenment. Everything has to be taken on in the path. What happens on the way is important. Retreat centers often became places where we look to see what we gain; it becomes a game of ego. There is always something else. Trunkpa Rimpoche called it spiritual materialism. The only practice is where we are now. All our neurosis is in this moment. It’s important to address the junk that is happening within us. It’s important not to suppress the shadows, and just to look at the light. We need dharma cause we are sick and its like a medicine. The ego loves to feel sorry for itself. The dharma helps us to look at ourselves in a naked open manner. Helping us became real and more conscious and mindful. When we are doing something we should know what we are doing. Often our mind and bodies are disconnected from each other. L…

Tenzin Palmo

Thus have I heard?

I went for a wonderful lecture by Venerable Tenzin Palmo, at the IIC Annex today.
Her manner is casual, simple, eloquent and graceful. Her personality is dynamic and she exudes kindness and compassion.

Here are some of the points that she made.
The purpose of life is to realize our spiritual path. The title thus have I heard, is a basic Buddhist sutra, its historical antecedents was that when the Buddha gave a talk, (when Ananda (his disciple) was not around), he asked him to repeat the teachings so that he could transcribe it.

On Buddha’s passing, 500 Arhats gathered and wrote down the teachings of the Buddha, obvious in that was their inherent bias towards men, setting the tone for the sexist interpretation of the texts. No mention was made of any Arhatis, considering women made up half the population; their complete silence needs to be questioned.

The words written by a unenlightedned monk leads to biases and distortions setting in.
One of the most basic questions that …

Train to Pakistan

An article in NYT about the release of Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan. It contains 66 black and white photographs by Margaret Bourke-White.

Man Pushcart, Sherrybaby & Lage Raho Munna Bhai

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Saw two very bleak movies, in the last week. The first was Man Pushcart and the other Sherry Baby. Here is a review from Cinematical.com of Man Pushcart.

Ramin Bahrani's film, is the life of push cart vendor in New York City. He wakes up before dawn, drags his cart through oncoming traffic to his corner, and then serves hot coffee, tea and bagels till noon. After which he tries to sell pirated dvd movies. He has a son, and his wife seems to have died in suspicious circumstances. He does not have many friends or much of a life, other than the push cart's daily rigmarole.

New York is beautifully filmed, with the most of the movie in black and white, and shades of grey. Ahmad, a former Pakistani pop star, now a push cart vendor’s life seems depressing and unending. The movie did not have much of a story, it was never clear, exactly how his wife died, or why he left Pakistan to come here. It was more a creative exploration of a push cart vendor's daily routine, without fillin…

Type 2 Diabetes

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A scary article on the rapid spread of type 2 diabetes in India, in the NYT.

In its hushed but unrelenting manner, Type 2 diabetes is engulfing India, swallowing up the legs and jewels of those comfortable enough to put on weight in a country better known for famine. Here, juxtaposed alongside the stick-thin poverty, the malaria and the 1. AIDS, the number of diabetics now totals around 35 million, and counting.The future looks only more ominous as India hurtles into the present, modernizing and urbanizing at blinding speed. Even more of its 1.1 billion people seem destined to become heavier and more vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes, a disease of high blood sugar brought on by obesity, inactivity and genes, often culminating in blindness, amputations and heart failure. In 20 years, projections are that there may be a staggering 75 million Indian diabetics.

Two of my aunts are already suffering from diabetes, one has no sensation in her feet and the other has adult onset diabetes. One of th…

Home By Manju Kapur

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I read this wonderful book in two blissful days. It was a quick read, but totally engrossing without being vapid. It centers around a lower middle class business family in Karol Bagh, a colony in Delhi, and encompasses two generations of the women in the family. The first generation are Sona, her sister Rupa and her sister in law Sushila. The next generation focuses on Asha, Pooja and Nisha.

The author, Manju Kapur, handles the politics within the family very descriptively. In the family the seminal values are making money for the men and for the women producing boys, taking care of elders and the men of the household. This is done by arranging marriages to preserve the status quo.

Once the basics are taken care off, jealousies, financial and educational differences in the men the women married came up. Ours and theirs is clearly differentiated. Vicky was Sushila’s son, and since she was a sister, he was always seen more as a burden, then the other children. The child abuse that Nisha…

Pakistan's Hudood Ordinance

It is sad to see that twenty seven years later, the same discussion is going on in Pakistan - their unjust rape laws. Musharaff, has given into the dictates of the Mullahs, who actually control Pakistan. Women's basic human rights are seen as a challenge to the patriarchial control of soceity. Sabiha Sumar, had made a powerful movie, titled Who will cast the first stone, which dealt with the issue of the Hudood Ordinance in Pakistan.

Pakistan to broaden rape laws, but women's groups see setback
Parliament is expected to vote this week to allow evidence in rape cases other than four male eyewitnesses.

By David Montero | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – A bill originally intended to repeal Pakistan's controversial rape laws is likely to suffer a severe setback this week, analysts say, when Parliament votes on a watered-down version designed to placate conservatives.
Under the country's long-standing Hudood Ordinances, a woman who claims t…

Sept 11

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I was in Paris on Sept 11, 2001. I was to leave for New York on Sept 12th. We came back to our hotel room and turned the TV on, and saw replays of the planes crashing into the towers. The broadcasts were all in French. No planes were allowed to leave for America for a week after. So we were stuck in a mid way point. We went downstairs to eat at a Moroccan kabab place and all the men were standing around the TV looking shocked. It was strange being somewhere else and not being able to get back.

Here is an interesting take on the three 9.11's by P. Sainath.

Three 9/11s — choose your own
P. Sainath

There were three 9/11s in history. The New York one of 2001. The neo-liberal one of Chile 1973, and the non-violent one of 1906 — Gandhiji's satyagraha in South Africa. The authors of all three tried to change the world. Two brought bloodshed, destruction, misery, and chaos. But the Mahatma's WMD — Weapon of Mass Disobedience — helped change the world for the better.

FIVE YEARS on,…

Indian women's peacekeeping force for Liberia

India's first women's peacekeeping force for Liberia


January 22 2006 - (NewIndpress) For the first time, a company of 120 Indian women would be deputed to Liberia, west Africa, for a peace-keeping mission following a UN request to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

"We had met some of the commanders of the UN who requested us to send a company of the women's force," said J.K. Sinha, director general of CRPF, adding that this would be for the first time India would send a women's company on a peacekeeping mission.

The issue came up during a meeting with UN officials and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 2005, he said, adding that the CRPF is the lone force in the world that has a special battalion of women personnel."The forces deployed in Liberia were facing difficulty while dealing with women and therefore we were requested to send a company," said Sinha. He said the women's contingent would be sent to Liberia in t…

The Inheritance of Loss Kiran Desai

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This is a wonderful book by Kiran Desai. It describes life, through the eyes of Sai, a teenager living with her uncle in Kalimpong and Biju, a cook’s son trying to make it in New York.

It deals with issues of migration, terrorism, poverty and police brutality. Pankaj Mishra reviews this powerful book here.

THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS
By Kiran Desai.
324 pp. Atlantic Monthly Press. $24.

ALTHOUGH it focuses on the fate of a few powerless individuals, Kiran Desai's extraordinary new novel manages to explore, with intimacy and insight, just about every contemporary international issue: globalization, multiculturalism, economic inequality, fundamentalism and terrorist violence. Despite being set in the mid-1980's, it seems the best kind of post-9/11 novel.

The Inheritance of Loss" opens with a teenage Indian girl, an orphan called Sai, living with her Cambridge-educated Anglophile grandfather, a retired judge, in the town of Kalimpong on the Indian side of the Himalayas. Sai is romant…

Monkeys vs Langoors

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I dislike monkeys and langoors, they are aggressive creatures, who seemed to attack women more than men. In school, it was scary to walk down passages that had a family of monkeys who used to bear their teeth at us. We heard stories of Langoors tails scaring students.

Sanawar hires langoors to chase away monkeys
G. S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Sanawar, September 7
Udham, Ramu and Chunia are new entrants in Lawrence School, Sanawar. They are not students but langoors who have been engaged by the school authorities to chase the monkeys away who are creating havoc on the campus.

“The monkey menace has been bothering us, especially in the mornings when the students come for breakfast. The monkeys get infuriated on seeing the packets of food in the hands of the children and end up attacking them, grabbing at the food,” explains the sports teacher and House Master of Shivalik House, Mr Daljinder Singh.

This is their way of getting rid of this nuisance. “Instead of shooting them with a gun or …

Shakira Shakira

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I think Shakira is fantastic, she moves great and she sings with passion.
Here is a review of her concert from the NYT

When people call a pop star fearless, they're usually talking about something milder than that: a willingness to record a song full of weird noises, or to say something gently provocative in an interview, or to wear an outfit that may have looked better on the hanger.

Shakira performing Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Shakira, the half-Lebanese singer and writher from Colombia, is fearless in a more literal and more absolute sense. She faces big audiences without betraying the slightest hint of anxiety. It's not that she doesn't appreciate all the adulation, it's just that she can't imagine why it would stop. Who doesn't love Shakira?

During her sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, Shakira seemed more invincible than ever. If she hasn't — yet — matched Madonna's triumphs, she also hasn't had to deal with Madon…

The First Screen Versus a Quad Test Prenatal testing

I have heard of four women who this has happened to, and one woman who died while undergoing an amniocentesis as her doctor ruptured her intestine.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, deals with this issue when she describes the two different systems of care- the midwifery model and the techno-medical model. The midwifery model is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events. The techno medical model is a male derived framework of care. Pregnancy and labor are seen as illnesses, which in order not to be harmful to the mother and baby, must be treated with drugs and medical equipment.

Thanks for your concern now. But I feel that my case was not handled properly by your office. I was made to do tests that I should not have had to go through.

I had a first screen, which was clear. But I was told to go for a Quad, which was not necessary, I should have just been tested for Spina Bifida but I was again checked for down syndrome. The test did not have my correct week of pregna…

Martina Navratilova

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I want to be as fit as Martina, when I am fifty..

Elizabeth Spelke

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I read an interesting article in the New Yorker, by Margaret Talbot, titled The Baby Lab: How Elizabeth Spelke peers into the infant mind.

Spelke is a fifty seven year old cognitive psychologist whose focus is on the idea that babies come into the world mentally equipped with certain basic systems for ordering it. She wonders what distinguishes us from other animals? How do we make sense of what goes on around us? What are the core notions that all of our systematic knowledge is based on?

Her research has challenged the view held by William James of a baby’s mind as a “blooming, buzzing confusion”. She believes that there are some forms of knowledge that humans get for free. At two and a half months infants understand certain laws of the physical world. They know that objects are cohesive and distinct and cannot pass through solid surfaces, and they move along expected trajectories unless something obstructs them. This challenged the view of Jean Piaget who said that infants lack a sens…

Guyana Elections

Global Voices Online discusses the Guyana Elections. They seem to have been relatively peaceful.

On Monday 28 August, an estimated 300,000 Guyanese turned out to vote in elections for the unicameral National Assembly. Elections in Guyana have historically been fraught with public anxiety and violence. The two leading parties, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/Civic) and the People’s National Congress (PNC/Reform) have traditionally drawn their strength from Guyana’s two main ethnic groups — respectively, Indian and African — and most Guyanese vote along ethnic lines. The ruling PPP/Civic has held power since the 1992 elections, widely considered the first relatively free and fair elections in almost thirty years.

More recently, the 1997 and 2001 elections were occasions for significant inter-ethnic violence, and — with the murder rate soaring, and after recent incidents such as the assassination of agriculture minister Satyadeo Sawh in April and the murder of five Kaieteur News employ…