My daughter’s Violin

January 31, 2007 at 8:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chitra is the proud owner of a sleek, new violin now and her guitar is now languishing in a corner of her room singing sadly ‘It’s the end of the world’.  Oh, her exotic extracurricular tastes now; she learnt salsa last semester stepping on a hundred toes.  This semester she has elected to learn the gentle martial art of Jujitsu.  She is already into drawing caricature and scaring away people by putting her sketches in Orkut and also in her Blog.  I must admit that her drawing provess has improved because she has been slowly emerging out of her drawing habit of drawing a human face with the help of munerals.  She can draw better eyes now because the right eye and the left eye are the same size nowadays. And her noses are not inverted No.3 anymore.  Shen you read all this, you will surmise she is a moron.  On the other hand, she has done hre Masters in Biotechnology and is now pursuing her research in structural biology (I hope I am correct) at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

A few years back when we were living in West Mambalam, we used to go to Ayodhya Mandapam in the evenings to listen to kacheris.  Raju never accompanied us because he was in his school finals and briskly preparing for his exams.  Chitra however used to accompany Kala and me to the concerts.  She was blissfully unaware of even the names of the instruments though she had a naturally good voice and a good ear for music.  One such occasion, she informed us that the accompanists were playing their ‘Damaram’ and Paanai’ very well, meaning she liked the way they played the Mridangam and Ghatam.  Another time, it was a Mandolin concert by the then boy genius, U. Sreenivas.  We were all supposed to remove our footwear outside the Mandapam but we didn’t notice that little Chitra was still wearing her footwear unawares.  During a break in the concert, all people went to the stage  to congratulate Sreenivas and the young crowds took out their autograph books.  Chitra also  ran to join them for the autograph and when she succeeded to get the autograph, one of the organisers saw that she was wearing her chappals and scolded her royally.  She came back crestfallen, not even feeling happy  she had the autograph.

Chitra has learnt to play single string guitar and practises Varnams and Geethams on it.  Sometimes she plays them to me when we talk on Yahoo Messenger Talk and they are OK.  She likes Western Music too and can sing along many of the tunes when she hears them from Tape or her I Pod.

However she is now the terror of the hostel because she started learning to play the violin.  You know how it sounds when an untutored self-learning violin aspirant starts to put her bow to the villin strings.  However she has promised me that she will try to find a tutor soon, and till then God help  those around her room.  I have confidence in her.  She will slowly learn the rudiments in time, and soon a time will come the violin will go the way of her guitar, giving way to a new fad and fetish.

Seriously, Violin though it is a Western Musical instrument has found a proud place of  in Indian Music arena, both in the North and in the South.  For Karnatic Music Violin and Mridangam are the essential accompaniments for any vocal artist.  The versatility of its utility in Western Classical is equalled amply in Indian too.  Indian Music has found due recognition in the West, Hindustani Classical more so than Carnatic, but our maestros have made a mark internationally too.  For those unaware of the wealth of Indian Classical Music audio available online, the link below will be an eye opener:   http://www.musicindiaonline.com/  There are a lot more Indian classical Music available online as everyone is aware these days.

p.s:  These past three days my mind was blank and so I didn’t dare publish any post.

Conquerers of the Golden City

January 28, 2007 at 12:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A long while ago, I saw a movie called The Conquerors of the Golden City on television.  That must have either been a Turkish or Iranian Production and it told the moving story of a family consisting of brothers and a sister migrating from village to the city with visions of plenty and prosperity, and it turned out that city life dealt them a raw deal, particularly crushing on the girl.  I do not remember the end of the story. The family might have returned to their village a dejected lot or slogged on and braved their new miserable life in the city.

I saw a Movie made in Tamil which was almost the exact replica of this movie, at least in content.  Though I don’t readily recall the name of the movie just this moment, I presume it had something to do with a city or ‘Pattanam’ as the rurals call a city in their slang.  This was directed by a famous Tamil Movie Director, S. Balachandar.  I feel more movie ideas can be copied if they can be presented fittingly with the local flavour so that new awareness is created among people. 

If I remember right, more movies on the same strain have been made in Tamil; one with the famous comedian Nagesh in the lead role, as a rural fisherman visiting Madras for the first time and his hilarious encournters there.  There was this very tragic movie whose diagues and story were penned by the literateur-Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi of Tamil Nadu.  This concerned the story of a family which split in their infancy and meet in the city under tragic circumstances in the city.  There is also a humorous episode about a musical group visiting Madras from a famous Tamil movie on the lives of a Nagaswara Vidhwan and a Bharata Natyam Dancer.  My treacherous memory is not helping me recall the title of the movie.  I will come up with it in due course.

In all these movies, Madras is the Golden City which lured people from the villages to come and be bedraggled in the city.

Madras is not that bad really.  The beauty of a thing is in the eyes of the discerner.  Madras is not bad at all.  Madras is the cultural and Carnatic Macca for all Tamilians.  Tamilians from all over want to spend their retiring years in Chennai.  The Chennai Marina still holds its sway over beaches all over the world.   December Music Season in Chennai attracts music lovers from all over the world.  Chennai is still the centre of learning in all of Tamil Nadu.  Though life styles are changing in Chennai as a result of the IT boom, the common man still finds Chennai affordable, and you still get a good cup of tea and hot bajjis in the tea shops, you get a cone icecream still for Five Rupees, and gingery, lemony sugarcane juice is still available on the streets of Chennai.  You get good Madras Meals for affordable rates in Chennai Udipi and Brahmin Hotels and mess rooms.  Chennai is the haven for textiles and gold ornaments, terracotta artefacts.  You witness creativity and beauty in the Government Fine Arts and Crafts College, and the Cholamandalam Artists’ Village.  Chennai still holds annual exhibitions of handloom fabrics, industrial exhibitions,housing exhibitions, Job Melas.  Elecion time is gala time for people to get confused with the promises of politicians, and there are political meetings on street corners.  Though I heard that they have stopped issuing permission for holding public meetings on the Marina.  Marina is also getting a facelift, litterfree sandy expanses of beaches.  If you wish to have a few minutes of peace, quiet and tranquillity, go to any temple on lean days.  Not only will the visit rest your mind, it will also rest your eyes on the exquisite temple sculpture.  You can go to the Ramakrishna Mutt and meditate in silence.

 P.S:  I conclude with a postscript. Just yesterdeay. Madras Government fixed auto fares minimum at 14 rupees, with the meter hurtling at Rs.2/- for every additional kilometer over the minimum fare distance.  Do you think the auto meters will start functioning at least now, or will the automen revert to their old ways of demanding contract rates .

Journeys dont agree with me, or perhaps I am feeling old

January 27, 2007 at 9:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I was away just over a week and I am down with an upset stomach.  From the time I returned home, I was feeling hazy for a day and then the dysentery started.  It drained me for two days and just this morning I feel relieved, though sometimes queazy when my stomach rumbles.  I stayed in bed running to the toilet a dozen times.  That was for two days at a stretch and now I am refreshed.

I am listening now to Serbian Orthodox Spirituality Chantings online which is restful and soulful.  I stumbled upon this website on Mozilla Firefox and promptly saved it to my favourites.  If anyone is interested they can visit this website: http://www.sv-luka.org/

I also like Gregorian Chants and listen to them occasionally.

Two days of strict dieting has whetted my appetitite and sharpened my taste buds.  I chose a big juicy and firm ripe tomato, sliced it, added salt and pepper powder and made short work of it.  I foraged in the kitchen but found nothing  else to crunch and munch.

I haven’t yet made my usual longdistance calls that I used to do after any journey.  They will all be wondering what happened to me.  Of course I talked to Chitra and also contacted her on yahoo messenger.  Chitra is Paplu for us as you might remember, and I don’t have to remind you that she is my daughter.  Chitra said she had been to a Jazz Concert in New York with some friends.

Rupa and Raju possessed themselves of Power Jogging Shoes and started their jogging  from yesterday morning.  And Rupa also started attending her driving lessons from yesterday.  After a month she will be driving expertly through the mazes of Hyderabad.

And the carpenter came to collect his advance to undertake the cupboards work in our Charlapalli house, and hopefully he will complete all the work by the end of February.  We also expect the house to be handed over to us  shipshape by then, and Godwilling, we will be shifting to Charlapalli in March.  I must at least learn to ride Raju’s KB100. Otherwise I will be left without any form of conveyance once we move there.  I am sure Raju will insist that also learn driving.  Just imagine me driving a car!  I have this habit of waiting for people to move ahead of me and I am sure I will be left standing at the same spot letting others move ahead.

I asked Chitra to plan ahead for her visit home.  She has to sit for a qualifying exam., after which she will be free for a few days to come to Hyderabad.  I also told her to wait for my visit to her place at a future date when the three of us, Raju, Rupa and I, can coordinate and make a short trip to the U.S. to be with Paplu for sometime.  That will mean to save enough for the trip and and some more, and that will take some time.

In the meanwhile I am getting tired of travelling.  Perhaps this is a passing feeling because this trip affected me badly.   Anyway I will think twice before undertaking the next trip.  As a matter of fact there are two trips on my cards, one to Delhi to see Kala’s people, and another to Poona.  Sometime later I might travel once again to Madurai.  Anyway these are only plans now.

I am back to my blogging

January 25, 2007 at 11:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As I had adequately advertised with itinerary and all, I was away at Madras, Thiruvannamalai and Pondicherry for a couple of days each, and returned to find that our web connection was off  and I felt handicapped and maimed with my virtual world shut out for over a couple of days.  I was elated to get my net connection back this afternoon, and I promptly emptied my yahoo mail inbox after a peremptory perusal, taking time only to quickly browse the photographs some mails provide.  I sent a few mails and messages and logged into my wordpress account.  I could see that the world has just passed me by, not missing my absence very much at all.  Anyway, a quick report on my trip.

My only new experience at Madras was to catch an intercity bus from the new Koyambedu Bus Station.  I made a few visits to my sisters’ and uncles and aunts’ homes not having enough time to meet more people of my age.  The one interesting person I met was my nephew Deepak’s wife Vidya who expressed horror that I just dumped all my book collections at a second hand shop because she would have preferred to cull some useful books from my collection.  I did have some good biographies, fiction, books  like How to win friends and influence people, and a lot on software, logic, economics, books on exotic subjects like palmistry,  your heart in your hands, women who ran with wolves, etc.  My interest in books is varied and not restricted to any category, and I choose books like an ostrich gobbling up bright objects.  Books on mind games, mathematic puzzles, heart and the palm, and anything. 

This was not the only time I ditched my books.  Earlier too, I had lots of second hand book collections and when they start overflowing, I either gave away to a library, simple let people filch some, and even sold to old newspaper buyers.

I must mention my trip to Thiruvannamalai.  I was feeling jittery about the travel by bus to a temple city which is bound to be crowded with pilgrims and devotees.  As a matter of fact my stay was quite comfortable.  Had I been a few years youngers, I would have preferred to have performed the Girivalam, the act of circumambulating the holy hill on well laid out roads, lit up even at nights by sodium vapor lamps, on foot even alone; but I was not ready to brave such a walking ordeal of about 16 kilometers.

So I performed the Girivalam in an autorickshaw visiting  the five shrines to the Lingams, the Ashrams on the route, and ended up at the Arunachaleswarar Temple.  I defered the visit to the temple for  the next day, and proceeded to Ramanashram and  produced proof of the Ashram letter permission to accommodate me with room and boarding.  That was in the evening, and I had the ashram daily schedule printout with me.  I freshened up and  went round the Ashram and located all the halls, shrines, samadhis and dining hall.  I first spent a few minutes of communion in front of the samadhi of my granduncle,  Sri Viswanatha Swamy, whom we all affectionately called Viswanna in our family circle, who lived and attained samadhi in the Ramanashram, living the life of a celibate ascetic throughout his life.  The samadhi is marked by a small enclosed room with a lingam in the centre, a photograph of Ramana Maharshi and what moved me most, a photograph too of Viswanna, the mere sight of which brought tears to my eyes.  More than to Ramana, I wanted to do penance in front of Viswanna’s samadhi.  I have met him a lot of times in my Periappa’s house.  Sometimes he used to talk to me about lofty things in life though I don’t recall a word of what he said then, nor I would have understood their import, but his simplicity, calmness and a godfatherly attitude  always impressed me.   He was a simple approachable person, and I, having been a student of philosophy, used to ask him questions on philosophy.  I haven’t learnt of his activities in the Ramanashram.  I remember having heard that he was also connected with the Ashram publication Mountain Path publication.

I witnessed the Ashram Bhajans, Pujas, and proceedings, paid my respects at the samadhi of Sri Ramana, visited the temple in the Ashram premises, partook of the Ashram foods, made a modest donation, and aborted my stay there by one day. I could find that I was not yet ripe or ready for such austere atmosphere as my mind was swayed by my worldly attachments.  I left the Ashram, checked in to  a hotel near the temple, had my wash etc., and went to the Arunachaleswarar Temple.  As I mentioned just now, austerity and godliness don’t come naturally to me, and hence my visit to the temple was more of an aesthetic value because I admire temple sculpture and this temple is famed to be quite an old one.  The temple was not overly crowded and hence the atmosphere was quite agreeable, and I like peaceful surroundings.  That winds up my long cherished visit to Thiruvannamalai and Ramanashram.  It was still morning hours and so I checked out, took an auto to the Bus Station and travelled to Pondicherry. 

I reached  my son’s in-laws’ house where I stayed for two days.  Raju and Rupa also had left Yercaud to reach Pondicherry late on the same night.  My two days’ eating out had upset my stomach badly, and so I let Raju and Rupa enjoy the culinary delicacies prepared by Rupa’s mother, restricting myself to dietfood.  I missed delicious Poori potatoes, a restaurant binge, and some more delicacies at home, all because of my bad stomach, which to this day hasn’t settled well yet. Raju left for Madras the second day after, to join his team from office, to interview and select candidates from IIT Madras. The next morning I and Rupa travelled by taxi to Madras, took our train to Hyderabad, and here we are back to our routine.

This outing has taught me one thing and that is not to go in search of  outward things.  The moral is to await great moments to happen inside you,  of their own accord. 

Thiruppavai. More information from Times of India

January 15, 2007 at 8:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On December 19th, I posted an article on Thiruppavai, which was totally my own fabrication from unsupported memories.  This morning I read an article in The Times of India, Hyderabad Edition, appearing today the 15th January, 2007, about Thiruppavai.

I have copied the article as it appeared in the Times of India, Electronic Edition, hereunder:

 Times of India, Hyderabad Edition.  Epaper.  15/1/2007.

THE SPEAKING TREE

Eternal Love: Story of Andal’s Devotion

By SUDHAMAHI REGUNATHAN

In south India the month of Margazhi, from mid-December to mid-January, is popular for more than its pleasant weather. The just-concluded month marks the zenith point of spiritual quest when the seeker experiences spirit over matter. Neither long years nor fortunate ancestry is required to become immortal. What is required is the strength of conviction in the oneness of all beings.
   The puranas narrate the story of a devout Brahmin, Vishnucitta, who found a beautiful girl child beneath a tulsi plant. Vishnucitta was delighted and carrying her home, named her Godai or Mother Earth’s gift. Soon Godai was old enough to help her father string the floral garland for the Lord every morning. But she would do s o m e t h i n g else too — she would try on the garland before it was offered to the Lord. Then she would peep into the well in the courtyard to take a look at her garlanded self. Will she make the perfect bride? Every morning when she saw her reflection in the water, she would also see the adorable Supreme waiting to receive the garland. So she would forget about how she looked. She was left admiring the one she wanted to marry.
   One day Andal’s father picked up the dream-filled garland and found a strand of hair sticking to the flowers. He could not believe his eyes. Did this not look like a woman’s hair and who else touched the garland but Godai? He made a new garland and offered it to the Lord.
   That night as Vishnucitta slept, the Lord came to him in his dreams. “Vishnucitta”, he called and the devout man wept with remorse for Godai’s folly. But the Lord was saying something quite different: He was saying that He would like to marry Godai.
   A confused Vishnucitta led his daughter to Srirangam — at the appointed hour — where she ran to embrace her Lord in the sanctum sanctorum. She merged with the Supreme and could no longer be seen. She came to be called Andal for she was one who ruled even over the Supreme Love with her intimate love.
   This story is immortalised in verses (Tirupavai) written by Andal herself. Depicted in sculpture with a parrot perched on one hand and her hair piled high on the left on her head, Andal is remembered for her 30 verses in a compilation called the Tirupavai and 143 verses in the Nachiyar Tirumozhi. In sensitive romance she has couched messages of how life should be lived — including refraining from speaking ill of others, strengthening oneself to overcome obstacles, practising universal amity and not giving in to failure.
   The Tirumozhi begins with a prayer to the lord of love. Using the magic of love and walking the entire gamut of human emotions, Andal gently leads our consciousness towards a love that, by virtue of its unconditional nature, is infinite and blissful.
   In the Tirupavai she imagines herself as a gopi in the time of Krishna. With an ode to the first day of the month of Margazhi, the Tirupavai exhorts us to get immersed in eternal love, the quintessence of spirituality. Margazhi is also the month when very elaborate and intricate artistic patterns are drawn at entrance to homes and the community gets together, sharing experiences and singing songs.

That is the article from Tmes of India, Hyderabad Edition of todays, the 15th.

The above is copied and pasted here, so that you will know about Thiruppavai better through others than through me.  The above is a whole rendering of the subject as opposed to my fragmented, uninformed presentation.  However, I  have reported the article here so that Thiruppavai and Andal are presented in their proper perspective.

With this Post, I will be off to Madras, Thiruvannamalai and Pondicherry, and so I will not be submitting my posts till the 23rd, when I will return with a lot of things to share with the world at large.

In the meantime, I wish all Tamil people a Happy Pongal, All Andhras and Telenganas in A.P. and the world over a Happy Sankaranti, which also goes to all the people in all other parts of North India and South India.  Pongal and Sankaranti are Harvest Festivals and as such this festival applies universally, and so I wish all   Happy Harvest.  Let Mother Earth give of hers abundantly, and let there be peace and prosperity in the world.  

I await my birthday stoically

January 14, 2007 at 8:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have to wait four months for the world to remember my birthday, May 14.  My star sign is Taurus the bull.  I am a descendent of Rishi  Bharadhwaja, and I am of the Brahacharanam sect.  Beyond this I cannot tell anything much to prove that I am of a Brahmin extract, I cannot even say the Abhivadaye.  I wear my sacred thread, to denote that I am twice born, and my religious forehead mark is the viboothi.

  I am a Saivite, our parents accepted the Kanchi Achaya of the Shankaracharya Mutts in the South.  This is distinct from the Mutt of the Sringeri Acharya.  Kanchi Mutt was not established originally by Adi Sankaracharya, but the two mutts are equally venerated by Sankara Devotees, though the allegiances are distinct.

My father may have once been following his religious regulations but as observed by me he had never been very orthodox.  On the other hand my father in law remains totally orthodox to this day.  I have lived with my maternal grandparents for around  10 years, and my father had always been doing his religious observances, having only a tuft of hair at the top of his head, which we call kudumi.  I had never been very comfortable in his company in my early school days though my nephews used to play with him pulling his tuft etc.

I have not seen my paternal grandfather, he having passed away even as early as when my father had been a small boy.    My Madras years were spent in grandmother’s house until my father got his transfer from Chtitaranjan to Madras, when we started to live in our own smaller house.  So I don’t have any first hand information about my grandfather, though I have been told he was an  Engineer, had his own charriot and was a dashing man. 

Now I am running towards my 62nd birthday which only reminds me to take things easy.  So I take everything easy, laughing a lot, ingratiating myself with everyone, sometimes actually feeling that I am laughing a little too much at times.  But my mirth is not forced. Recently I read somewhere that too much happiness is also a symptom for something else, I cannot say what; I didn’t read completely.

I don’t get upset easily these days, but I must say I have almost no tensions aand pressures these days, living a life of ease and comfort.  I dont feel too possessive about things.  Otherwise I would not have disposed off those hundreds of books I sent away for next to nothing.  I should say that I am getting more detached, without losing interest in my own immediate family.  I will count each morning a new blessing, and I will linger and watch a child at play a butterfly flutter by, or an airplane passing at a distance going for a landing at the nearby airstrip.

Actually I am not feeling aged but  my past is catching up with me and sending feelers of small discomforts  to slightly upset me now and then.  I don’t ignore my body’s symptoms and warnings and I consult the doctor once a month regularly.

I hope to see many more of my birthdays to happen to me.

Thinking about Iraq

January 14, 2007 at 7:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I begin with another article taken from the Internet:

History in brief
Dec 9th 2003

From Economist.com


History in brief Iraq

The area of Iraq, known as Mesopotamia in ancient times, was home to a succession of cultures including Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. Divided between Romans in the west and Persians in the east, the Mesopotamian plain fell to the Muslim Abbasid caliphate in the seventh century A.D. The Abbasids made Baghdad (founded 762) into the seat of the caliphate, and the city became one of the world’s greatest repositories of literary and scientific learning.
Invading Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258 and, devastated, the area eventually came under the control of the Ottoman Turks, who ruled Iraq from their capital in Constantinople until the end of the first world war. When the defeated Ottoman empire was broken up, three Ottoman provinces were combined into the British mandate (protectorate) of Iraq. After a short period of British control, Iraq became a fully sovereign kingdom in 1932.In the 36 years that followed, Iraqi politics were unstable, including a series of coups and counter-coups after the death of King Faisal, Iraq’s first monarch, in 1933. In 1958 the political turmoil came to a head, when a coup led by General Abdul Karim Qasim toppled the monarchy for good.

But Qasim’s rule was short-lived too. In 1963 he was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by members of the Arab Socialist Renaissance Party (Baath party). A counter-coup deposed the Baathists nine months later, but the plotters failed to consolidate their power, and the Baathists returned in 1968. General Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, a leading figure in the coup that deposed Qasim in 1963, was named president. His handpicked successor, Saddam Hussein, became president after al-Bakr’s resignation in 1979. In 1980, Iraq invaded the newly formed Islamic Republic of Iran. After early successes (aided by America and Britain, which feared Iran’s militant Islamism), the Iraqi army was pushed back, and the conflict stalled into a devastating war of attrition. When it ended inconclusively in 1988, Iraq’s economy was in ruins.Two years later Iraq, which had largely rebuilt its military machine, easily conquered oil-rich Kuwait in an unprovoked attack. But under the aegis of the United Nations, an American-led multinational force expelled Iraqi troops from Kuwait in February 1991. Subsequent UN resolutions were set up to halt its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programme, and trade sanctions were imposed to enforce them. But Hussein defied the sanctions and weapons inspectors for most of 12 years, and in 2003 another, smaller coalition led by America and Britain ousted him and occupied the country after a three-week war. The coalition subsequently established a provisional authority, charged with basic administration and overseeing the creation of a new constitution for Iraq.

That was from The Economist. 

You see Iraq is an example of an embattled nation, like a number of other regions in the world.  Man is the only creation of God who can rise to the heights of achievement, spiritual advancement, technological development, and even step out into Space.  Man also is the only creature who fights itself to extinction, who creates dissent, resorts to deceipt, diplomacy.  While on the one hand man is endowed with the sixth sense,  on the olther hand he has shortsight, he doesn’t look beyond his nose.

Take any period in world history and you will always find strife.  You will always find wars.  You will always find injustice of man on man, man on other creatures, man on nature.  Man has always been destructive.  God should not have opened to man the gates of some select knowledge.  God left the fate of man and his environs in man’s hands.  God didn’t remember Adam cheated him to taste the forbidden fruit, and so God opened the gates of all knowledge to man with disastrous effects.  What avail is man’s lofty philosophies and religions when they never put him on the right path.  God will interfere in the affairs of man at some stage.  That I am very sure of, because no parent will stand and watch his children to waste themselves to no end. Amen. 

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Iraq

January 14, 2007 at 2:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My interest in Iraq is purely from a historical perspective.  I culled this brief history of Iraq from the Internet:

A brief history of Iraq
Compiled by Jacqueline Maley
April 9 2003
* Mesopotamia was the name for the ancient region where modern Iraq now stands. A Greek word meaning “between two rivers”, Mesopotamia was a “fertile crescent” wedged between the Tigris and Euphrates, which gave birth to some of the most early and advanced of ancient civilisations.* The Sumerians, one of the most ancient civilisations in the world, came from ancient Iraq. The Sumerians are credited with creating the first identifiable written language, sometime around 4000BC. They also were among the first pioneers of agriculture.

* The ancient city of Babylon, capital of the region of Babylonia, lies in modern-day Iraq, its ruins found about 80 km south of Baghdad.

* The most sophisticated legal code of the ancient world came from Iraq. Introduced by King Hammurabi, whose dynasty ruled Babylonia from about 1793 – 1590BC, it is the first known legal code that takes into account whether a crime was committed intentionally or not. This makes it the precursor of the mens rea principle upon which our modern criminal legal system is based.

* The biblical Tower of Babel is believed to have been in ancient Iraq. During the 6th century BC, Babylon was the site of an imposing “Ziggurat”, a graded temple-tower which many believe was the site of the infamous tower.

* During the reign of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar the Second (604-562 BC), Babylon became the biggest city in the world.

* In 586BC Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Judea and sacked Jerusalem, destroying King Solomon’s temple and carrying off thousands of Jews to Babylonia. This period is known to Jews as the “Babylonian Captivity”.

* BBC Online reports that Saddam Hussein sees himself as a modern-day Nebuchadnezzar, “fit to assume the mantle of leader of the Arabs and of the strongest power in the region”.

* There are many bible stories set in Babylonia, for example in the Old Testament we are told that Daniel once worked as a soothsayer interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams.

* The great biblical patriarch Abraham came from the city of Ur in ancient Iraq.

* Nebuchadnezzar II is also said to have built the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

* In the Old Testament, God sends Jonah to the ancient metropolis of Nineveh, near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, to warn the people to change their wicked ways.

* In the New Testament’s Book of Revelations, the destruction of Babylon is foretold.

* In ancient times, Baghdad was built on western bank of the Tigris and was also known as Madinatu s-Salam or “City of Peace”.

* Many stories in the legendary Arabian Nights tales are set in and around 8th century Baghdad, where the Abassid caliphate of the Ottoman empire established its capital.

* The Baghdad of Haroun al-Raschid, who features in many Arabian Nights tales, was a very cosmopolitan city, where foreigners from Cathay (China), Hindustan (India) and Nubia (sub-Saharan Africa) mingled in the souks (market-places).

* In its prime, Baghdad was famed as the wealthiest and most dazzling city in the world. Before the sea route between India and Europe was discovered in 1497, it was a great centre of trade, full of caravanserais (caravan inns).

* The legendary warrior Saladin, who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in the 12th century, was born in Tikrit, near Saddam Hussein’s native village. Saddam has made comparisons between himself and Saladin.

* In 1258, Genghis Khan’s grandson, Hulagu, led an invasion which utterly destroyed the Islamic capital of Baghdad. The Mongol army made a pyramid of the skulls of Baghdad’s scholars, religious leaders and poets. Saddam Hussein recently called President George W Bush “the Hulagu of this age,” and warned the US that “the people of Baghdad have resolved to compel the Mongols of this age to commit suicide on its walls.” (from BBC Online)

* Iraq is an Arabic word for an Arabic settlement in the area in the 7th century. The British formed the modern state of Iraq when they amalgamated the three disparate provinces of Basra (in the south), Baghdad and Mosul (in the north) in the aftermath of WWI, when the ruling Ottoman empire collapsed.

* The modern state of Iraq became independent in 1932.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/09/1049567734303.html

I will linger on the subject of Iraq in some more future posts also.  As a student of History, I had a few brushes with the History of the Middle East, and we were prescribed to consult a big tome of work by Prof. K. Hitti.  I have not done full justice to my studies, yet I remained fascinated by History all the time.   Ancient civilizations held my attention because we have been hearing about Mesopotamia, Mohenjodaro, Harrappa during our school days.  I was always thinking about the time in History before the advent of the three world religions, viz., Judaism, Christianity and Islam which all sprant from the same region.  I  liked to know more about the ancient Sumerian, Arcadian, Egyptian, and American Indian Civilizations, and the Chinese and Japanese as well.  It goes without saying that I was interested in ancient Indian History, being an Indian by birth, culture and  attitude.

Education and culture  and higher thoughts existed before the advent of  the great religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  Some religions state that  the world has gone through birth, growth and death repeatedly.  This is distinct from the theory of Arnold J. Toynbee which is restricted to  a continuous evolution,, peaking and petrification of civilizations.  The concept of The Great Flood according to Christians and  Jews, and Pralaya according to the Hindus, is  a momentous discovery of the human mind. 

I will continue my loud thinking in my next post.

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A song remembered

January 13, 2007 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have packed my bags, got my tickets confirmed and ready, and I got my presents cash and kind  secured in niches inside my tote bag.  This is Saturday and it is past 8.30 in the evening.  I am drowsy on a full stomach, sitting in front of my pc on the edge of the chair uncomfortably.  I was just browsing some latest posts and suddenly had this urge to write the post this moment.

Even for one in the weary evening of one’s life, a trip is always invigorating.  You meet interesting strangers with different mannerisms, hear the sounds from inside the compartment and from the Railway Stations with their hawkers, stalls, the announcements, and the hustle and bustle of activity.  The slow acceleration of a train leaving a station, settling to a steadyclickety-clack, the Train Ticket Examiner on his rounds, the brief  interesting bonding with fellow passengers, eating your supper with nobody to serve if you are travelling alone.

Long long ago, I learnt a few songs from my guitarist room mate, and a few of them I knew the lyrics too.  I recall one of those songs now, and the lyrics go like this:

Going home, I can’t wait for the day when I’ll be on my way

Coming home; pack my bags, buy tickets for my trip,

Put presents in my grip, comin’ home.

It’s age since I left for this far off land

When we said our goodbyes and I held your hands;

when you tried to smile and hide your tears;

when you meant to be brave and conceal’d your fears.

And I long for the things I left behind, these pictures in my mind

are the same; are the same; are the same.

There is this other song, a mood song, which I was fond of humming once in a while:

Sitting in my loneliness as happy as can be;

Thinking of the world, how happy they can be.

Why can’t they feel the way I feel;

it’s just the same, dont be a fool.

I care not the world to see, I’ll be just me;

no loves  no troubles; I’ll be as I feel.

No sadness and worries by my stone;

I don’t want the world, I’m alone.

Sitting here and lonely, as happy as can be;

sad as sad can be, but I’m happy still.

How to publish your works even if you are mediocre or uninitiated

January 13, 2007 at 12:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Well.  That is what I am doing and I am grateful I have a random readership, at least by those that gawk at how such ramblings and unconnected material find their way into published domain.

See, God created The Web for the sake of people like me and scores of others, who have been hesitating all their life wondering how to make a start, without really making any effort.  You cannot just dream and wait for things to happen.  Intellectuals have urged us to dream on, but they didn’t tell us work towards realising that dream.  When your food put on a platter before you, you have to make yourself eat it up.

They say that if anything can occur in a dream, then it can become a reality.  Take for instance flying.  Man had always dreamt of flying like a bird.  The dreaming man still dreams on, but it is only the achievers and go-getters who accomplish and achieve these goals.  So much so, man doesn’t just fly like a bird, he flies far far better, faster, safer, more comfortable.  Man wanted to make machines work for him.  The dreamers dreamed on, and the go-getters have made the dream possible.  We are in the machine age, and we are moving into automotion age very very fast.  Space travel is a fait accompli and man had set foot on the moon, which some people still don’t believe possible.

All writers are not scholars.  Most people haven’t even been to school, or were school drop outs, or those who started their formal education later in their life.  It is life’s experience and a desire to tell others what is working in your mind, what is already written about by others, and what you see, hear and experience subjectively over a period of time, all these give one the urge to start putting his ball pen to paper or punching the keyboard or talk into a voice recorder.

Once you start writing, it is shaky in the beginning, directionless and even meaningless, and it emerges in fits and starts.  As you go on, the urge becomes an obsession, you gain confidence and a steady tempo, and then you start researching new avenues to collect material for your writings. I do not know and haven’t made the effort to know how a successful writer must compile his material for the abstract, develop details, add anecdotes and incidents, digress and return  without losing the thread, etc.  I feel that if it is in your mind you can record it in writing and publish it – all with a little self confidence and an occasional pat on the back  from sympathetic passers-by.

Moral:  Dream on.  But wake up and work towards realising the dream.

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