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visarjan

झूठी लोक-लाज से डर के जिसने सीता को दुत्कारा था,
क्यों नहीं राम का चरित किसी अग्नि ने ललकारा था?

जब पांच नपुंसक बना रहे थे नारी का परिहास,
रचा जा रहा था भारत के घर-घर का इतिहास!

अब आस-पास सबको सबके चेहरे काले दिखते हैं,
पर झांके दर्पण में, हम खुद कैसे सारे दिखते हैं!

जहां युधिष्ठिर धर्मराज हो, अर्जुन को वीर कहा जाता हो!
रक्त-पिपासु धर्म-ग्रन्थ हों, मानव का लहू बहा जाता हो!

जहां राम को देव-पुरुष, उत्कर्ष बना रखा हो,
राम-राज्य को नीति का आदर्श बना रखा हो!

साहस का, धर्म का, नीति का फिर क्या पर्याय मिलेगा?
सीता! ऐसे समाज से तुझको कैसे न्याय मिलेगा?

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To Malala Yousafzai, to the girl from Delhi and to every other girl in our part of the world – We’ll murder you in the womb. If you survive that, we’ll stop you from going to school. If you manage to, we’ll track you down with a gun and shoot you in the head. If you still survive that, we’ll gang-up, 6 or more to 1 and rape you till your guts fall out – show you your place in our world! Will you still fight back?

Fireflies (an ode to Hampi)

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The sun begins to set over the Tungabhadra…

A fisherman hurries his boat, adjusts the wind against the sail –
before the night falls, he must return to his clan…

Meanwhile, the ruins begin to tell their melancholy tale –
of the passing of time and the passing of man…

The stones are silent, except, that they sing!
The stones are captives, except, they are free!

And nearby stands a Mango Tree
witness to promises and shared dreams…

Memories are made just as the lanterns glow-
etched in the lovers’ hearts, warm and slow!

The evening melts…

The river’s flow is now a mystic chant;
We meander our way through the banana plants,
watchful- lest a snake should somewhere lie!

Stars are the twinkling lights in the sky
And around us twinkle fireflies…

As a society and as individual citizens we must decide on how we define “development”, nuance the kind of development models we subscribe to and want to pursue and how do we fund any such development. Do we define ‘development’ as merely an economic concept measured by macro economic metrics like GDP / Inflation or do we want to attribute a holistic socio-economic connotation to it that includes social indicators of development (e.g. related to health, education and environment)? Do we have a short Vs. long term perspective and appropriate policies for both?

It is critical we form an informed, critically analysed and thought through opinion and participate directly in the legislative process. Let not “development” become the next political cuss-word (like ‘secular’).

I see several specific areas / issues we can start with immediately. I plan to do my part by (1) Doing my own research, going through the legislative collateral etc. to form a personal opinion (2) Publish my views here and on other social media for constructive debate / criticism (ignoring rhetoric and unsubstantiated opinions) (3) Write / Communicate to the lawmakers and hopefully have a dialogue in some form.

Here are the issues in my radar currently that I plan to spend cycles on.

  • Land and land acquisition reforms and policy
  • Politics and Economics of Subsidies (aka Freebies)
  • Development and Environment / Natural resources

courses

Here is the dilemma – I have a total of 120 ECTS (credits) for my degree. Leaving aside the core IDBM courses and another 30 ECTS for the Master’s thesis, I am left with around 40 ECTS that I can spend more or less freely on the courses that I like. And I like too many of them😛 But how could you not? A taste of things on offer:

The Stanford ME310 design innovation course is making a come back at Aalto next fall (after a successful Save ME310 campaign)! So with a lucrative prospect of traveling to and spending a couple of weeks at Stanford and the rest of the year working in a diverse global team on an industry sponsored design innovation challenge, its at the top of my list.

Then there is the Creative Sustainability minor with an interesting palette of courses on offer including the “City in Transition” series dealing with the issues of sustainable urban development, including a 2-week field trip to a city in a developing country undergoing rapid socio-economic change and a stakeholder development project related to it.

The COINs (Collaborative Innovation Networks) course organized by MIT / Sloan and conducted jointly at MIT, Aalto, SCAD and Cologne, focusing on understanding, analyzing and harvesting social networks, crowd-farming, swarm creativity etc. can’t be missed either, of course🙂

The City Sets course, part of the City Sets project, is about discovering and interpreting the design and culture embedded in the urban landscape and environment of Helsinki through a variety of visual ethnographic methods including videos, pictures etc. The outcomes will be displayed at a pavilion during the World Design Capital’ 2012 events in Helsinki.

The philosophically oriented “Key thinkers at the intersections of Art, Science, Culture and Technology” aims at studying and examining the body of thought and work of such thinkers as Amartya Sen, Semir Zeki, Olafur Eliasson and others. Delicious! Then there is a course titled “License to act differently” with a ‘Failure Resume’ that the participants build during the course as its main assessment method! Sounds worth exploring, doesn’t it ;)?

These are just a few examples and they are already worth over 65 ECTS. And even though I can technically take some extra credits, at times these have conflicting schedules😦 So I’ll have to let go of some of these courses and I can’t decide which ones to pass! This is going to be quite a task, I sense😀

On a side note, I really love the culture and philosophy of “writing your own study plan”, the flexibility of picking the courses that one likes and, of course, the assortment of some wonderful courses on offer. What’s more? Here at Aalto (and I guess in most other Finnish universities) you can register for a course, see if you like it and choose to drop it midway if you don’t with no repercussions whatsoever (except the core courses, which you need to complete, of course). Further, a lot of courses don’t have a formal exam and in those that do, you can decide when you want to appear for the exam within a year, sometimes more, of taking the course. Also, you can sit for the exam as many times as you like (up to a certain number) and only the best grades show up on the transcript with no mention of the number of ‘attempts’. (Unlike back home where you are forever stamped as having ‘FAILED’ the exam or having passed it on a ‘supplementary attempt’)

There are so many things that are refreshingly different about the education here but I guess those deserve a couple of dedicated posts😀

381078_268358646544561_267808496599576_724181_78238512_nAdvent is here. Jemina is building her Gingerbread House and it’s awesome! Her mission is to “bake world a better place – one gingerbread house at a time!” – A deliciously noble cause, I say🙂

The sketch is just out, check it out –>

I must admit though – I didn’t know what “Advent” was until a few days back! So, for those of you who are in the same boat as I was and were / are too lazy to click on the link – Advent is the “season of expectant waiting & preparation” starting on the 4th Sunday before Christmas and leading up to it. The progress of the preparation (such as building gingerbread houses) is tracked using Advent Calendars.

By the way, I didn’t know what a gingerbread house was, either😛 I knew about the gingerbread man though!

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It is an autumn afternoon, a Saturday, perhaps. Sitting by the balcony of the first floor apartment, one looks over the kids who have just come out and are trying to agree on a game they’d all like to play. It has just stopped raining. The scent of the moist earth evokes memories of the times bygone and one is suddenly teleported to a world where scenes from the past – distant and recent, real and imagined – come to life and serenade the senses.

It is the same poignant magic that Kazuo Ishiguro’s stories create as they meander through labyrinths of mementos. Mementos carved not out of extravagance or flamboyance but out of the monotony of everyday life. Not in Technicolor but in sepia! A cup of tea turned cold. A conversation oft’ imagined and rehearsed but never performed. Things left unsaid or undone because they seemed too out of place in the grind of the passing of days.

Almost nothing of significance ever happens in these tales. Nothing that can not be dismissed as ordinary. At least when put into perspective through the lenses of the ordinary man – a distant observer who considers it not his place to philosophize over the political, historical, ethical, or moral repercussions of what goes on in the world at large. There are no heroes in these stories and no villains. Just ordinary people going through their lives as ordinary people should. They don’t put up a fight – not in any obvious manner, at least. They don’t strive to change the world or even their own lives but carry on, accepting things the way they are. And there is nothing to suggest that this is not a good way to lead one’s life. The characters are not ashamed of who they are, not ashamed of their insignificance, happy to play their parts according to the script that has been handed out to them.

The stories celebrate melancholy. The passage of time. Twilight. Reflections. Experiences. Memories. Regrets. What ifs. Rued chances. Opportunities not taken. Potentials not reached. Promises not made, nor kept. Yet, lives well lived with simplicity, restraint and honesty! Like Mr. Stevens, when he remarks about the English landscape (in The remains of the day),

“I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.”

Or like Kathy, when she describes her fantasy (in Never let me go),

“as I stood there, looking at that strange rubbish, feeling the wind coming across those empty fields, that I started to imagine just a little fantasy thing, because this was Norfolk after all… and I half-closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it… The fantasy never got beyond that –I didn’t let it– and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing or out of control. I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.”

These are worlds we can all easily imagine to live in. The world we all live in, the vignettes of a people we all are! Like Kathy and Tommy, we all look for our Norfolk – a place where everything we have ever lost in life is washed ashore and gathered for us to find! And like Kathy sums up,

“We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”

P.S.

Nocturnes – a collection of five stories of “music and nightfall” was my introduction to the worlds and stories of Kazuo Ishiguro. ‘The remains of the day’ and ‘Never let me go’ followed (both of which won the Booker prize and have also been made into movies with ‘The remains of the day’ being one of the finest adaptations I have ever seen). I’m currently reading ‘An artist of the floating world’ & ‘A pale view of hills’.

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शमा को रोशन करे, वो लौ नज़र आती नहीं
अटकी है सिहर के साँस यूँ – आती नहीं, जाती नहीं
सर्द है मौसम कहाँ आलाव तापे जिंदगी?

नम है लक्कड़ आस की, ख़्वाबों की लपटें बुझ रहीं!
पाला पड़ा है ज़ोर का, नियति से तेरा ज़ोर क्या?
पर जब तलक चिंगारियां धू-धू के सुलगती रहे,
राख बनके भी सनम, जलते रहो, जलते रहो!

रात का काला पहर, तम् और गहराने लगा;
जबकि था जिंदा अभी, कोई मातम मनाने लगा!
मोम के इन होंसलों से कैसे कटेगी रात ये?

सोच के, “होगा सवेरा कोख में ही पल रहा”
देखो सूरज, है क्षितिज पर, डूब के भी लड़ रहा!
बाकी है जब तक आत्मा में तेल की इक बूँद भी,
दीप बनके ख़ुद तिमिर में, बलते रहो, बलते रहो!

पथ पे रिश्ते टूटते और पथ पे ही जुड़ते रहे
थे चले जो हमसफ़र हो, हर मोड़ पर मुड़ते रहे!
हर दिशा से हर दिशा यहाँ हर दिशा में मिल रही!

छुट चुके उन साथियों की याद लेकर साथ में,
स्वप्न और संवेदना की मशाल लेकर हाथ में,
खत्म जब तक हो ना राहें, मक्का मिले न सामने,
रुकने की सोचो नहीं, चलते रहो, चलते रहो!

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