Thursday, 27 March 2014

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

This slim novel of 201 pages by Japan's most well known  novelist abroad makes a fast and engrossing reading .But I will not call it  great.It is good but falls short of being great.What happens when  the darkness (night) arrives?It tells us what happens in the life of  a nineteen year old girl on one particular night  in Tokyo, when she is out on her own  in a coffee house.The first chapter begins at 11.56 pm and the last chapter ends at 6.52 am.
             There is an interesting observation on memory. "The people's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive.Whether those memories  have any actual importance or not, it doesn't matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned.They're all just fuel"
                     Mari has a strange relationship with her sister  Eri Asai.They are very distant , though they want to be close to each other.When they got trapped in the lift of their building ,Eri made up her mind to be the strong big sister for Mari's sake.But over the years , Eri drifted apart from Mari due to their different life styles .She got sleeplessness , but still , Mari longs to be close to her sister."Try to remember all kinds of stuff  about your sister.It'll be  important fuel."
                              The company of strangers can lead to salvation, Murakami seems to believe.And in this book , Mari meets a stranger boy Takahashi , and  they share with each other many things they might not have shared with people whom they know.
 Murakami has an easygoing , captivating and  fluent style of expression , which holds our attention. Jay Rubin of Harvard University has translated it very well from Japanese.The story , though  disconnected in parts , lingers.The darkness leads to morning full of hope  and promise.
                                It is an interesting novel  and  I recommend you to read it , though  Murakami's  some  other books are better written.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Celebrating Forests on International Day of Forests (March21,2014)

We celebrated International Day of Forests  today(March21,2014 in Lucknow , India.The venue was the  auditorium of Indira Gandhi Pratishthan in Lucknow and the event was jointly organized by Forest department of government of UP, India, and UP Forest Corporation .And it was a real celebration .The show was stolen by students and teachers  from all over the state, who had won Paryavaran Mitra Awards and certificates.Dr Preeti Kanaujia and her team from Centre for Environment Education(CEE) deserve all credit , praise and compliments for organizing such a large number of students from different parts of the state so competently and seamlessly .
                 Forests are beautiful.They inspire us with beauty.That is one reason for global celebration of forests..But that is only one reason.There are twenty other reasons why forests are important.
1.They help us breathe.They provide half of Earth's Oxygen.
2.They are home for 80% of bio-diversity on land and 50% of total bio-diversity.
3.30 crore people live in forests.
4.They keep us cool , especially in urban areas.
5.They help n preventing global warming and keep earth cool.
6.They make it rain.
7.They fight flooding.
8.They soak run-off and harmful chemicals.
9.They refill aquifers.
10.They block wind.
11.They keep dirt in place.
12.They clean up dirty soil and prevent soil erosion .
13.They clean up dirty air.
14.They muffle noise pollution .
15.They feed us.
16.They give us medicines.
17.They provide raw materials to make things like furniture , paper and pulp.
18.They create jobs.
19.They help us explore and relax.
20.They preserve culture.
21.They create beauty and majesty.
 But forests can do these things only when they live, are healthy and are cared for.
                     Forests are very finely balanced eco-systems.Any species loss can impinge on its ability to provide services like air and water purification .About 1/6th of green gas emissions can be attributed to deforestation and degradation .Deforestation affects wildlife.Illegal felling/logging adds to the problems.
                    In line with global trends , we can do the following :
1.Better management of forests.Certification and responsible forest management.
2.Conserve forests.Don't divert forest land to non-forestry uses as a routine.Prevent illegal felling and deforestation.
3.Reforestation .
4.Tree plantation .
5.Tree plantation and gardens in the cities.
6.Raise awareness about the importance of forests and trees.Encourage conservation photography.
7.Encourage paper recycling.
8.Encourage forestry research.
9.Promote eco-tourism to conserve wildlife.No noise , no litter and as per carrying capacity.
                  Our goals, our resolves on this International day of forests are:
1.Healthy , pollution free environment.
2.Benign climate , and mitigating global warming .
3.Sustainable economy.
4.Shared natural heritage.
5.Unity of life  - human , animal and plant.All life is united.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Stages of transformation of an individual .

1.Involvement with reality.
2. Criticism and wish to change.
3.Reason and reflection.
8.Action .
9.Liberation and transformation .
                     These stages also apply for the  transformation of groups , though in groups , the process is far more complicated.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The White Castle by Orhan Pamukh

After reading this thin novel of 145 pages , I can say with certitude that Orhan Pamukh is a great author .It is not because he is the first Turkish citizen to have been awarded with Nobel Prize for literature in 2006. Also,not  because in January , 2010 , he publicly acknowledged that he was in a relationship with Man Booker Prize winning novelist author Kiran Desai.It is because it is a Kafkaesque parable , which tries to answer the question:"Why I am what I am?", in a calm , slow and an intriguing way .I don't claim that I have understood this book  fully .That will require a few more readings .But reading this novel is  walking and being  with a great mind .   The White Castle is the third novel by Orhan Pamukh and the first to be translated into English by Victoria Holbrook.

A young Italian is captured by an Italian fleet in the sea  and brought to Instanbul , where he becomes a slave to a man called Hoja.Hoja is his look alike(Doppelganger effect?) .The master,Hoja is convinced that the young slave's European education is superior to his own , and he becomes his disci
ple.The master promises that when he has learnt everything from the slave  , the slave will be freed.The relationship of master and servant keeps changing over the years in terms of one dominating the other .To help the Sultan of Turkey in his war with the Poles, the two develop a war machine .Its failure in the battle proves their undoing .Hoja escapes from the battle into the fog rather than risk being beheaded by the angry Sultan.Hoja goes to Venice to resume there the life of his Italian double and his slave takes over Hoja's life as a Turkish sage.The ultimate fate of Hoja and the slave is left unclear .
                             In the final chapter that was written many years after the main events of the book ,the identity of the narrator is called into question.Who has written this book .. . .Hoja or his slave?Perhaps they were always one person. . .one mind separated into two persons for the sake of narrating a story?The more we try to get into this question , the less certain we become.
                The basic question which Pamuk raises and tries to answer is:Why we are what we are ?What shapes the myriad facts that make up this world?We are what we are because of the way the imagination plays with and shapes our reality .Pamuk successfully demonstrates , through this novel , the power of imagination , the power of fiction to shape the reality of this world .And there lies the greatness of Pamukh and this novel.

         If you like  intellectual and philosophical challenges while  reading a novel , this one is for you .

Friday, 7 March 2014

Cleanliness is Godliness

1.Keep your body clean.Consume clean food , clean air , and clean water.
2.Keep your mind clean.Think clean with pure and honest thoughts.Read clean books , watch clean movies.
3.Keep your home clean.
4.Keep your work place clean .
5.Keep your city clean.Work to make your environment clean and pollution -free.
6.Destroy and weed out clutter , litter and waste.Produce less waste.
7.Consume less.
8.Cleanliness is Godliness.
9.Live a clean life .
10.Let cleanliness become one  non-negotiable guiding principle of your life.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Some thoughts on work

1.Work for the joy of working.
2.Love your work but don't get attached to it.
3.Distinguish between  your work and the organisation  in which you work .
4.Do those things  that you are proud of .
5.Do what you want to do , and don't ask others what they expect you to do .
6.Find out the core content of your work , dwell , reflect and focus on this core content.
7.Don't work with a view to get approval, praise , recognition or reward.Work without concern for getting the reward or fruit or recognition for work.
8.Don't work mainly for money.
9.Don't work mainly for helping others.
10.Keep learning new things about your work.
11.Make work more enjoyable , productive , efficient and cleaner.
12. Don't work only from office room .Go to the field and to the project sites.
13. Practise self- discipline and self-regulation at work .
14.Hold yourself accountable for results -to yourself.
15.Make and keep a CLP(current projects list).
16.Pay attention to people and employees you work with.
17.Document that decisions of all the meetings.
19.Plan your work .
20.Hold fewer meetings and more conversations .