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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"RING OUT THE OLD, RING IN THE NEW."





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'Y' is for New Year: 2018







The beauty below clicked from a park close by!




The New Year is waiting round the corner to usher in love and happiness; strength and courage; kindness and generosity; gratitude  and goodness. In the context of New Year, I  remember a poem titled "RING OUT, WILD BELLS" by Lord Tennyson a popular Victorian poet, who  was also poet laureate of England in his times. His  longings expressed in the lyrics form the basis of this  great poem. It 's during my University days that I read it and enjoyed it immensely. The poem reproduced below is a classic.  It articulates, the wishes, hopes, desires, fears and concerns of each one of us. We may be living in any part of the world  but our hearts beat with same emotions and sentiments.

The poem is so lucid that each word sums up the universal longing for change and rejuvenation.  The poet exhorts every one to banish lies, falsehood, strife and all suffering, which  threaten our  lives every day. The poem's message is in fact, relevant today, more than ever as the  untimely deaths and destruction stare us in the face daily.  Hoping that New Year will be harbinger of peace and prosperity in the whole world. 

Human spirit always wins!

.......

RING OUT, WILD BELLS
     Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)




  Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
......
 
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Thursday, December 21, 2017

WHY IS LETTER "X" SO POWERFUL?







 Wishing all  my Cyber friends  and well wishers A






"X" is a powerful, formidable and pure letter!

Though "X"  the 24th letter in the English alphabet takes the smallest space in the dictionary, its semantics boasts of unusual bearings. Hence, its fascinating imageries are worth exploring. 'X', as the prompt letter for this week needed some brain storming efforts. My attempts bore some fruit. Here it goes….

XMAS:

Let’s take up its sacred or holy connotations first. Luckily, it is in tune with the build up to the coming days of festivities globally. Oh yes, I’m referring to the hallowed festival Christmas. 'Xmas' is its common abbreviation. "X" comes from the Greek word CHI, which is the first letter of Greek word  Χριστός, that in English  stands for Christ. The MAS part is from the Latin, which is old English for Mass. "X" is the accepted representation of the word Christ for hundreds of years.'

 Xmas is the grandest occasion with multiple emotional undertones. It embraces cheer and joy of decorating Christmas trees and houses with fancy lights and trinkets. It represents affectionate reunions, elaborate dinners and shopping extravaganzas. It involves, exchange of gifts and warm togetherness around the fireplace and much more.

THE SWASTIKA SYMBOL:

The hooked cross is the swastika symbol. Traditionally the four arms of the cross represent four seasons. It is a sign of good fortune and well being. It is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In towns, I've seen this sign carved on verandah walls for good fortune and prosperity.

Its presence in German dictator Adolf Hitler’s Party flag has always been intriguing. It is alleged that Hitler regarded the symbol having magical powers, which would help him achieve world dominance.

 WHAT ARE X-RATED FILMS?:

X-rated film are films for adult viewing. Such films are not meant to be watched by the under 18s because of their content showing excessive violence, sex or obscenities.

XENOPHOBIA IS A FORMIDABLE WORD:

Its dictionary meaning terms it as an extreme fear or dislike of foreigners, their customs and their religions. This syndrome is gaining ground fast in some pockets of the world. Hate crimes, cold blooded murders, physical assaults of foreign workers, looting and burning of their businesses, are all manifestations of this malady.

SKULL AND CROSSBONES:
 
It is a symbol of danger, death or fatalities. We often see it on electric installations, poles etc. The image also appears on containers of poisonous chemicals.

X-ray:
 It is a diagnostic machine. The picture taken with this machine helps the physician to pinpoint the cause of trouble.  The chest X-rays aided considerably in the eradication of Tuberculosis in the world.

The X-factor:

X- factor is a special quality a person or thing has, which attracts others.
 Her X-factor is her charm, which makes her the much sought after actor.

XS, XL

In clothing sizes, XS stands for extra small and XL represents extra-large size. It makes our search for the right size a lot easier.

XYLOPHONE

X's musicality:
"A musical instrument consisting of flat wooden bars of different lengths which you hit with a pair of sticks that have hard round ends made from wood or plastic."

Xerox:

 Xerox machine at one time revolutionized the making of multiple copies of documents. Now we take it for granted.

X is a sign in Roman system meaning number 10.

X is a multiplication symbol in Arithmetic and a powerful algebraic symbol. Plus, minus, multiplication and division are the symbols every child gets initiated into in primary classes.

To keep one's fingers crossed:

I'm sure most  of us keep  our fingers crossed occasionally, while driving or traveling. I for one do it all the time e.g. when driving home, my husband says,'' Within ten minutes,we'll reach home." I always remark," Pl. keep your fingers crossed till we reach home safely."  Moreover we use this idiom repeatedly the days we're expecting some good news.  

There are umpteen number of feats which "X" has achieved in the field of word power but  I'll let it go now for fear of making  the narrative lengthy.

images, courtesy Google

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

WHY I LOVE WINTERS?




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“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”
Helen Keller

 Sunshine smiles- Google image


     
  W is for Winter.


CELEBRATING WINTER!

A nasty bout of flu, notwithstanding, I love winters. If I’s incapacitated for more than two weeks, I’ve no reason to rile winter. The fault lies with my immune system. It played me false.

 In North India where we live, we face extreme weather conditions both in summers and in winters. Yet somehow, the severity of winter is declining as also its duration. Ceaseless construction activity, congested roads, vehicular emissions, burgeoning population   all are the culprits. Let it be for another time!

Winter ushers in fun, frolic, golden sunlight, festivals and delectable cuisines. Winters are famous for providing good things in plenty, be it vegetables or fruits, sweet dishes or crunchy crisp snacking items.

Here is the list of activities, which makes winter special for me.

Early morning picture of the rising sun in the urban milieu.
SUN AND ME:

Basking in the sun is one of the greatest pleasures of my life at this stage.  As the sun rises, our back verandah is lighted up with the mellowed luminosity and sweet raw warmth. Setting aside the curtains of all rooms, and allowing the morning glow to filter through the windowpanes is the most joyful task of the day. It fills me with gaiety and gratitude for being alive amidst such loveliness. My inner being smiles and shakes off inertia. I welcome the new day.

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

I head to the kitchen for  preparing my favorite ginger tea. I itch to go out while sipping the first cup of the day. A stroll in the driveway energizes. A tentative plan for the day emerges in the mind. What to prepare for breakfast and subsequent meals is traced in the mind’s calendar. Mental assessment of other tasks ensues. Things feel doable.   

(Prior planning has helped me all along. It enabled me to strike a balance between my home and professional life. Now retired but the habit stays. Time management helps me to carry on my creative pursuits and indulge in  my hobbies now.)

BREAKFAST IN THE BACK PATIO:

The golden mellow sunshine is so inviting that to eat breakfast inside feels like a sin. Hubby helps in transferring the eatables outside on the tiled  raised platform in the middle of the open yard.  It is a private kingly domain. We linger on enjoying every bite coupled with background music of a different kind. The chirps and peculiar sounds of the members of various avian families converged on our stately NEEM tree, add to the joy.  What a blessing!

ME TIME:

I wait eagerly for this time. Some food for thought. Newspaper is waiting. I savor uninterrupted the columns, I enjoy while the sun goes up wrapping the area in its warm blanket. It is heavenly. Thank you GOD for being so generous. I solve 'SCRAMBLE' and 'SPELLATHON' next. My grey cells need some shaking up after all. ‘THE TIMES OF INDIA’ does cater to the needs of the retirees, ha ha  ha.

WHAT I READ:

Reader’s Digest and my Kindle books provide me enough reading material to be relished in the balmy and restorative sunshine. The poor KINDLE lazed on my computer table for so many days because of my sickness. Dusted and brought to life once again. I’m reading Dostoevsky’s 'CRIME AND PUNISHMENT' for the third time. It describes  tragically life in Russia before the Revolution. Winter sun transforms even dense books into a pleasure reading.

RAINY DAYS ARE WELCOME:

I’ve no complaints even on bad days in winter. In fact, one can have a great time during winter rains and foggy days. You can sit snuggled up in your quilt with a book or pursue some hobby. I’m experimenting with a crochet hook. I’ve already learnt to crochet a circle and a square with left over wool of bygone days.


Now friends, this is just a tiny part of the trailer of my life. Like every other householder, there is always a lot in the work basket to be performed in the lapse of a day.  Yet this is how I feel on my cherished days in winter.
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

WRITING VIVIDLY


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“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World




V is for WRITING VIVIDLY

   
   It is amazing to come across writers, who are masters of the art of expressing themselves vividly. They narrate an event or incident so vividly that the entire scene swims before your mind’s eye. Like a painting formed of words. It results from a near perfect skill in choosing the right visual words. Their wordplay resonates. The visual quality of the language wakes you up. You enjoy the images.They stir your senses. You are able to conjure them up in your mind. The sentences carry passion and power. The read becomes rejuvenating intellectually. You revisit those wonderful pages repeatedly. They acquire the power of a delicious dish where the taste stays until the next sampling.
   
   Intense imagination and great word power are the tools of vivid descriptive skills.  The enviable evocative quality entails acute sensitivity to observable facts.The ability to visualize is a magical gift. It attracts the reader's attention. William Wordsworth’s "The Daffodils'' evokes beautiful visual images, which become part of his emotional self. The scene, gets embedded in his inward eye. In an hour of solitude he recollects those impressions. He  recreates the effects, which host of daffodils growing on the banks of the lake had on his mind.

  Descriptive scenes saturated with emotions, provide sheer pleasure to the reader. Reading this poem  feels like, accompanying Wordsworth in his inspiring walk near the lake.  One get wings to one's perceptions.
   
   Here is the original poem:


           THE DAFFODILS
                       
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


  • Wordsworth's use of similes, metaphors ( I wandered lonely as a cloud/ Ten thousand saw I at a glance/Tossing their heads in sprightly dance/ And then my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with the daffodils.’’) turn this poem into a lyrical marvel of word imagery describing movement.



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Friday, November 24, 2017

TUNE IN TO YOURSELF



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 Guru Nanak Dev ji, founder of Sikh religion said: If you conquer the mind, you can conquer the world. ( "Man jeetei jag jeet.")





        T is for   'Tune in to yourself.'

Hassled as we are by the increasing pressures of modern life, we are 
forgetting to make our life purposeful and joyful. In fact, the mad race for living has bound us in its shackles. We have lost the inclination to think about life at a deeper level.  However, our inner growth depends on imbibing human values and righteous Karma.  There are well-defined parameters of living a meaningful life outlined in our scriptures. They abound in gems of wisdom, which can show us the right path.

Our willful alibis give us umpteen reasons to avoid looking within. That is the uncomfortable truth. We wrongly presume that wearing tinted glasses to escape unpleasant ground realities will work.   Experience confirms that shortcuts eventually harm our progress as human beings.

The enormity of distractions, technology has gifted us, has taken away our discerning power. We are afraid to face ourselves. Sitting in solitude has become an anathema. Unceasing action and noises have robbed us of calmness and composure. We hanker after instant gratification. Our world is limited to four walls of our house. We run away from questioning ourselves. We avoid introspection and reflection. Self-awareness becomes a casualty.

Yet, tuning in to yourself is as important as earning your livelihood. Listening to the voice  of our conscience, assessing the flow of our lives on a daily basis, constitutes the essence of life. While being busy in inanities of mundane life, time for meditation and mindfulness has to be squeezed out.
....
Here are a few suggestions based on personal experiences and gleamed from spiritual reads to help in tuning in to yourself:

Spending just fifteen minutes in gardening daily is a great stress buster. Tending plants teach patience, connects you to your inner self.  Consider it your ‘me’ time.

Nothing can beat a short walk in a park all alone. You feel the wind caressing your body, trees talking to you and flowers wreathed in blissful smiles. Optimism you garner via stimulating environment makes you take right decisions. Your day comes out to be more productive.

Mindfulness helps in focusing on your mind and actions.  It wakes up the forces of moral reasoning, reducing self-serving tendencies. The practice generates compassion for others and thoughts of doing larger good.

Develop a silent mental calendar to help in rationing time for main tasks. 


Disciplining the monkey mind is a tough job. Yet one should continually strive to achieve it.

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