22 October 2009

Specialization is for insects.

Last summer when We were on Route 9, a route with rivers and lakes and a forest of trees in New York, a route where many art studios - sometimes too small that one will fail to notice, we chanced upon a studio. We saw a very elderly man and some sculptures at the entrance and slowed down the car. There were a few minutes left for closing, and he said that we could come in.

We were entering through the back yard - What we saw were bell peppers and tomatoes and zucchinis, many kinds of ornamental plants, an apple tree - flowers every where, a japanese maple and more. He later told us that the backyard was the handiwork of his neighbor, a horticulturist. It so happened that the current studio, which also functioned as his house was a funeral parlour once.

Little did we know whom we were meeting and what was in store. We entered inside. Paintings by artists and sculptures - A-m-az-ing. The place was small. But it was packed. While I marvelled that was sitting at the top shelf and the middle shelf and the bottom shelf, hidden behind paper and wrapped inside fabric - my heart leaped at seeing them. It is not every day that you see the artist and the creations at the same spot. it so happened that his daughter also used this place as her studio and she did oil paintings and so did his current wife.

while I was left to examine everything inside the studio the sculptor and my husband were engaged in conversations. They talked physics and - stochastic calculus and more. I interrupted their conversation by saying, he had beautiful hands. He said - "my hands are under the complete control of my brain".. something to that effect.

He went on to say that he wanted to study physics in college, but since it did not have prospects as a career and getting jobs in Iceland with a degree in physics was difficult, where he was orginally from, he studied medicene. He moved to the United states almost 50 years ago and worked at the Mayo clinic in Minneapolis. But he had retired from a career where he was a Neuro Surgeon in Albany, New York. It so happens that his father was also a sculptor.

Robert Anson Heinlein said…
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Currently I know a couple of friends:

A friend who studied electrical engineering in IIT Bombay plans to go to film school next year. It was her childhood dream. All the best C. Promise me, you will give me a voice over role when you make your movie.

Another friend P who also happened to study chemical engineering from IIT Bombay and a Ph.D at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor wants to pursue music some time later. He hasn't studied music, but married somebody who did. when he was doing his ph.d he would say that he would want a " music room". He plays the piano, and tabla. His wife plays the harmonium.

Another engineering student V, was an all India Radio Singer. She is trained in Carnatic music. My husband always looks forward to meeting her.

Another physics graduate G, studied physics at IIT bombay and later studied at Cornell, sings ghazals - her first performance was sometime in august in delhi.

Another anesthesiologist, could easily pass off as a fashion designer. She knitted, crotched, stitched fabulous clothes for her kids when she was doing her MD at M.S University in Baroda.

Yet another woman, if she would have been born in this generation would have been a physicist - gardened hybrid roses, marigolds (when none of this was heard in india) sewed, knitted, crotched, painted, did metal crafts and played and won chess games with her son (who topped IIT JEE with a 108 rank.

Intelligence is a gift. It is also one of the best kinds of freedom that a human being is gifted with to pursue what she chooses when she chooses to. Isn't that what Leonardo da Vinci did ? And for those fortunate who nurture their freedom and intelligence they contribute much to human kind. For them even sky is not the limit.

I had already written long comments on sraboney ghose's blog and would look like i am spamming her blog if i wrote another one, hence this post.

16 October 2009

Life Style and earth

When We were growing up, my parents used cloth bags to go to the market, canvas bags to carry books to school, cloth instead of kitchen tissues (my mother did not know what kitchen tissue is) in the kitchen, reused tins to grow herbs and plants, used vines of certain plants as scrubbers.

Fullers earth (multani mithi) for a facial, leaves of hibiscus plants for a hair shampoo, earthen wares to cook, recycle old bedsheets into pillow covers, use an earthern pot to cool water, drink sugar cane juice to quench our thirst come summer instead of carbonated drinks, handwash clothes instead of a washing maching, make washing soap, use pestle and mortar to grind until the magic of an electric grinder was found, eat whole grains and use 100% whole grain flour for making chappatis(flat bread), reuse milk plastic bags to store leftovers, have seasonal vegetables and fruits and used ceiling fans to circulate the breeze.

Walking,cycling and public transportation was a way of life.
Food was for the plate and the left overs were not for the trash.
Cakes, Biscuits, Ice cream and Meat was a luxury.

We slept on woven bamboo mats /cotton/coir mattress and had 2 shelves of clothes. The furniture was made of solid wood and they are still strong after 3 decades even when all of us have tested our strength on them. This and so much more.

We lived large in a small space..700 sq feet to be exact.

We did all this, because that was the best way of doing things and those were the only options. ..That was the only way we knew.

Now As I have my own family - I still buy used items, and recycle furniture. Baking soda,and vinegar is used generously for cleaning. I still hand wash my cotton and linen clothes and dry them at night when the heater is turned on during winter and dry them on the line during summer.

But I still have to use a washing machine because shower areas are not convenient enough to wash many clothes at a time.We still hand wash dishes and use libraries vigorously, Use energy star appliances and a pressure cooker for cooking, try and eat seasonal food. I use lunch boxes and not brown bags. Walk and use public transportation. Car is only used for places where we cannot access without public transportation.

I enjoy being in the midst of trees and now go hiking more frequently.

Our added baggage - Computers, cell phones, TV, a car. I need to unplug them when not in use. I am still persuading my Greek grocer to sell his earthen ware (in which he cooks his stuffed grape leaves )to me. There is room for progress, but I am happy with what I am doing..

Edited to add on 10/17/09:

A Note to the Political leaders:
Slow and steady emission of poisonous gases due to the consumption of plastic, oil and gas will make this earth hell on earth. And Our kids will ask us "Why didn't you do something" ?

On a global level Countries wouldn't agree on a commmon level of emissions, therefore laws without loopholes should be made so that nobody will escape. And that includes YOU. Will you frame such policies at the cost of receiving campaign funds from Industries who will compromise to increase production?

Is your seat in the senate more worthy than trying to save the earth? Trying to achieve a balance between political ambitions, who elected you to serve as leaders and to look after the welfare of the earth which you are equally responsible is challenging, but doable.

You can choose your pick - you can be known as the leader of climate change that helped to decrease carbon emissions or go down in history as gluttonous, greedy and a conspirant in the destruction of the earth.

11 October 2009

The President of America , NOT Obama and the Nobel Goody Bag.

A shocked Colleague,Steven:Lehman has filed bankruptcy.

An: Steven,It is time to get your coffee.

Colleague : Look at the screen. - pointing to the rolling banner of news.

October 8,2009
A friend called in : An, the Swedish have gifted the Americans. Guess the gift ?

An: gift or prize ? - ?

Friend: Obama got the Nobel prize for peace

An:OMG– So the American government has pulled an “Al. Gore” again for a gift, Nobel Prize ! Let me get back to work. Catch you later.

So Is the nobel prize for peace a cliche .. ?

A prize, A scholarship, A trophy marks an achievement or should mark an achievement. We all know too well by now that for coveted prizes such as these marketing is key.

So whom did they award the Nobel prize : Obama, the man or the president of America. Newspapers, bloggers and all man and sundry have put it gracefully, the prize is 'aspirational.'

If it is so, there are many aspirants in many fields – why have they not been given ? Why is it exceptional for only one 'aspirational' candidate. Doesn’t it smell “fishy” all over ? Needn’t it be any more clear that the prize was given to the President of America and not Obama, the man. That means even if Sarah Palin would have been the current president of America, She would have bagged the prize.

It does not require much thought to deduct that Obama was strategically placed by the democrats to win this election. A muslim,that would warm the hearts of many Islamic countries, that held a sour taste of America. Obama balmed every religious fanatic, and race in every country on earth. There was a song and a dance.No,he had not done anything concrete.Yet Obama got a celebratory dance because he was purely 'aspirational'.

Another thought that seems to cross my mind is this – Was this prize given to add a bigger and extra “Halo” to the position of president of America, who was seen as the leader of world? Was this prize given to indicate that America has taken a U turn to establish peace. ( Just like all the Ms Universe’s want to establish peace after they win the award ) –Isn’t America the only country that has attacked more than 20 countries so far after world War II, and after the establishment of the UN ? And the on going wars iraq, afghanistan, next in line, perhaps Korea, Iran, – Was this prize a way of marketing American president to the world as the embodiment of peace, when all actions belie the talk?

I know that India is worried about the increasing aid to Pakistan. Guess What ? America is always playing the two edged sword here. They give Pakistan AID to make the Islamic extremists happy and let all the Islamic world know that it is supporting them but in reality the Americans are creating an insurgency. There is more than what is said in the media. Don’t we all know that Taliban was erected by America themselves to create havoc on the Russian border. American sword is always ready to strike and it also pretends to provide a
“Tiger balm”.

Coming back to the Nobel prize. In order to establish a new legacy to the position of president of America, have the American strategists deemed it necessary and twisted the Nobel prize committee’s arm to give the prize to the current president of America.Thus it will be announced to the whole world that American government is correcting itself from being a monster and trying to play cherubim.

On the other hand Republicans are going to have a field day every time the current president of America sinks in its diplomatic duties or have to sign an international policy. Is Obama going to be a sitting duck ? Now the republicans can see themselves clearly back in office after 4 years. This prize has done more harm to the democratic party now and for a long time,since officially speaking – Obama receiving the Nobel prize is like democrats getting the iced cake and the pie with extra cream before doing anything concrete. Because if it was not a democratic election win, the president of America would not have got the Nobel goody bag.

Sometimes I wonder Was this the Clintons & Co’s way of having sweet revenge. Have the Clintons influenced the Nobel prize committee in giving the prize to the President of America ? So that they can make the sitting president squirm every time he sits on the presidential seat and the candidate would have wished that Hillary Clinton should be the rightful candidate. Anything is possible in politics and this may not be far off either. The Clintons have always had an extra sugary way of presenting the sword.

To:Barack Obama,Who sits at the highest seat in the land despite all Odds. May you prove your mettle. My good wishes always.

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