Sunday, May 27, 2012

ADMISSION QUERIES KEEP DU’S HELPLINES RINGING (Hindustan Times (Delhi), 27 May 2012, Page4)




ADMISSION QUERIES KEEP DU’S HELPLINES RINGING
Dhruv A Khurana dhruv_khurana@hotmail.com
Hindustan Times (Delhi)
27 May 2012

NEW DELHI: The Delhi University admission season has the varsity’s helplines buzzing all day long. Students from across the country who want to pursue their higher education at DU have started to ring up the University Information Centre to get their...read more...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review : A Thousand Splendid Suns

Review :  A Thousand Splendid Suns
Dhruv Khurana
Learn this now and learn this well, Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.

Like diamonds and roses hidden under bomb rubble, this is a story of intense beauty and strength buried under the surface of the cruel and capricious life imposed upon two Afghani women. 
Khaled Hosseini, who was born in Kabul and moved to the United States in 1980, writes in straight-ahead, utilitarian prose and creates characters who have the simplicity and primary-colored emotions of people in a fairy tale or fable. The sympathy he conjures for them stems less from their personalities than from the circumstances in which they find themselves: contending with unhappy families, abusive marriages, oppressive governments and repressive cultural mores.
In the case of “Splendid Suns,” Hosseini quickly makes it clear that he intends to deal with the plight of women in Afghanistan, and in the opening pages the mother of one of the novel’s two heroines talks portentously about “our lot in life,” the lot of poor, uneducated “women like us” who have to endure the hardships of life, the slights of men, the disdain of society.
 She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she'd said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.
Book Cover
 The story revolves around two women, Mariam and Laila, born 20 years apart, but whose lives are intertwined through the events of the novel. Mariam (born in 1959) is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy merchant named Jalil who has 3 wives and 9 “legitimate” children. After her mother passes away, Jalil arranges for her to be married to Rasheed, a shoemaker from Kabul who is thirty years her senior.


Hosseini vividly brings home what life is like for women in a society in which they are valued only for reproduction. Once she has suffered a series of miscarriages, Mariam's marriage becomes a prison: 

Mariam was afraid. She lived in fear of his shifting moods, his insistence on steering even mundane exchanges down a confrontational path that, on occasion, he would resolve with punches, slaps, kicks, and sometimes try to make amends for with polluted apologies and sometimes not.

Just as the impatient reader might start to wonder what Hosseini is going to do next with his narrative energy, we switch from Mariam's life to that of a neighbour, the young Laila, who is growing up in a liberal family with a father who believes in her education. In a flash we see, as Hosseini clearly intends us to, how behind every silent burqa in Afghanistan is an individual with a hidden history. 
Series of events lead to the marriage of Rasheed and Laila. Without giving away much of the story, I’d say once Mariam and Laila find themselves together, the story deepens as these two women slowly learn that the only hope of affection or solidarity is with one another, and they survive not just physically but also emotionally by putting their faith in each other and in their love for Laila's children.
While there is much of darkness and pain throughout the book, Hosseini never allows the emotional tone of the story to descend in melodrama. There is little self-pity or wallowing in grief. There is pain, there is loss but there is no surrender. Instead, these women absorb tremendous blows (both figuratively and literally) and continue to live.
One cannot leave behind what Taliban had in store for women during their reign :
1.      You will not, under any circumstances, show your face. You will cover with burqa when outside. If you do not, you will be severely beaten.
2.      You will not wear charming clothes.
3.      You will not speak unless spoken to.
4.      You will not make eye contact with men.
5.      You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten.
6.      You will not paint your nails. If you do, you will lose a finger.
7.      Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately.
8.      Women are forbidden from working.
9.      If you are found guilty of adultery, you will be stoned to death.
10.  Listen. Listen well. Obey.

Once I started reading it, I could not put it down till I reached the last page, and then to ruminate over what it must be like to be an Afghan woman today. This is after all fiction and therefore, in itself, part of the book’s success - if I was pushed to think about the issue because of a fictional story, then there must be others who will be too. And for that, Hosseini must be applauded.

Pros
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns is a great resource for learning about the life of women in Afghanistan
  • The story is well-written and characters are well developed
  • It is a page turner -- you won't want to put it down once you start reading
Cons
  • A lot of violence and difficult situations make it hard to take at points--not light reading.
  • Will surely make tears roll down your cheeks. Not even the hardest of the hearts will fail to get moved.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dastoor by Habib Jalil

Deep jis ka sirf mehellaat hi main jalay,
Chand logon ki khushyon ko lay ker chalay,
Wo jo saye main har maslihat kay palay;
Aisay dastoor ko,
Subh e bay noor ko,
Main naheen maanta,
Main naheen jaanta.

(The light which shines only in palaces
Burns up the joy of the people in the shadows
Derives its strength from others’ weakness
That kind of system,
like dawn without light
I refuse to acknowledge,
I refuse to accept)


Main bhee kha’if naheen takhta e daar say,
Main bhee Mansoor hoon, keh do aghyaar say,
Kyun daraatay ho zindaan ki divar say,
Zulm ki baat ko,
Jehel ki raat ko,
Main naheen maanta,
Main naheen jaanta.

(I am not afraid of execution,
Tell the world that I am the martyr
How can you frighten me with prison walls?
This overhanging doom,
this night of ignorance,
I refuse to acknowledge,
I refuse to accept)

Phool shaakhon pay khilnay lagay tum kaho,
Jaam rindon ko milnay lagay tum kaho,
Chak seenon kay silnay lagay tum kaho,
Iss khulay jhoot ko,
Zehan ki loot ko,
Main naheen maanta,
Main naheen jaanta.

(“Flowers are budding on branches”, that’s what you say,
“Every cup overflows”, that’s what you say,
“Wounds are healing themselves”, that’s what you say,
These bare-faces lies,
this insult to the intelligence,
I refuse to acknowledge,
I refuse to accept)


Tum nay loota hai sadyon hamara sakoon,
Ab na hum per chalay ga tumhara fasoon,
Chara gar main tumhain kiss tara say kahoon?
Tum naheen charaagar,
Koi maanay magar,
Main naheen maanta,
Main naheen jaanta.

(For centuries you have all stolen our peace of mind
But your power over us is coming to an end
Why do you pretend you can cure pain?
Even if some claim that you’ve healed them,
I refuse to acknowledge,
I refuse to accept.)

Courtesy: Mallica Joshi

Friday, September 9, 2011

OSHO : Strange Consequences

"When Friedrich Nietzsche declared, "God is dead," he himself became utterly helpless no consolation, no hope, no meaning. He had to go through a long process of insanity.

Nietzsche seems to me to be the most important figure that has dominated the world in this century. Without any argument his statement has infiltrated into every mind. But he was not aware of the implications. I have no problem if God is dead. There is no need to mourn his death.

The problem is that if God is dead, then you lose the most important word in your language and you will need a substitute. God was one end, one extreme, and when one extreme disappears from your mental vision, the necessary and inevitable is that you will fall to the other extreme.

And that's what has happened, Milarepa. Instead of God, `fuck' has become the most important word in our language. Even if Friedrich Nietzsche comes back, he will be surprised and he will try to resurrect somehow the dead God, because this is stupid. But you will need a whole report on it, a whole research.

One of the most interesting words in the English language today is the word `fuck'. It is a magical word. Just by its sound it can describe pain, pleasure, hate and love. In language it falls into many grammatical categories. It can be used as a verb, both transitive, "John fucked Mary," and intransitive, "Mary was fucked by John", and as a noun, "Mary is a fine fuck." It can be used as an adjective, "Mary is fucking beautiful."

As you can see, there are not many words with the versatility of fuck. Besides the sexual meaning, there are also the following uses:

Ignorance: Fucked if I know.
Trouble: I guess I am fucked now!
Fraud: I got fucked at the used car lot.
Aggression: Fuck you!
Displeasure: What the fuck is going on here?
Difficulty: I can't understand this fucking job.
Incompetence: He is a fuck-off.
Suspicion: What the fuck are you doing?
Enjoyment: I had a fucking good time.
Request: Get the fuck out of here.
Hostility: I'm going to knock your fucking head off.
Greeting: How the fuck are you?
Apathy: Who gives a fuck?
Innovation: Get a bigger fucking hammer.
Surprise: Fuck! You scared the shit out of me!
Anxiety: Today is really fucked.

And it is very healthy if every morning you do it as a transcendental meditation just when you get up, first thing, repeat the mantra "fuck you" five times; it clears your throat too!

Courtesy : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D7rWLzloOI

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A classic twist to A classic tale.

OLD VERSION...

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long building
his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper
thinks the ant's a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away.
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no
food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

MODERN VERSION...

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building
his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper
thinks the ant's a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and
demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well
fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering
grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with
a table filled with food.

The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that
this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house.
Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding
that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.
Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian
Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the
grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking
support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting
Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-
compliance). Opposition MP's stage a walkout. Left parties call
for "Bharat Bandh" in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial
Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from
working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty
among ants and grasshoppers.

Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian
Railway Trains, aptly named as the 'Grasshopper Rath'.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism
Against Grasshoppers Act [POTAGA]", with effect from the beginning
of the winter.

Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grass Hopper in
educational Institutions & in Govt Services.

The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having
nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated
by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper in a ceremony
covered by NDTV.

Arundhati Roy calls it "a triumph of justice". Lalu calls
it 'Socialistic Justice'. CPM calls it the 'revolutionary resurgence
of the downtrodden' Koffi Annan invites the grasshopper to address
the UN General Assembly.

Many years later...The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a
multi billion dollar company in the Silicon Valley. 100s of grasshoppers
are still starving despite reservation somewhere in India....

 *********


The man who resolves, to stick to the truth at all costs, steadily
rises in virtues. When his virtues raise his reputation and
prestige, he becomes all the more a devotee of truth. This devotion
to truth becomes an unerring source of power and greatness.

- Swami
Dayanand

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

So .. I finally gathered the courage to watch the movie till the very end. *sighs*

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - "It all ends here" ..

How could i miss it? How could i watch it? How DID i watch it? I wanted to run away as soon as it started - Harry with Griphook. I couldn't make up my mind - Am i really going to watch it? Really?

Turns out i watched it till the end. I CRIED! Hell yeah! I did! I'm not ashamed of it. DUH!

So the movie begins (Note : I watched it in 3D). Oh Trailers first.

Yes Yes, Happy Feet 2 looked Promising in 3D (surely going to watch it) .. The Smurfs - Barney :D - 3D part uh huh .. Final Destination 5 - SCARY in 3D.

Dementors patrolling Hogwarts (Awesome in 3D) - Dear Headmaster Severus Snape.

"Here lies Dobby - A Free Elf" - Crying Spot #1.

Harry and Griphook - no difference from the book (not much) Warwick Davis portrayed Griphook as it should have been - clever and cunning.

Harry and Ollivander - Ollivander informs Harry about the rumor regarding the existence of the Deathly Hallows.

(A tiny second showing Hermione holding Bellatrix's Hair)

Swoooooshhh .. Next moment, its disguised Hermione and Ron apparating with Harry and Griphook to the Diagon Alley (Yeah, no leaky cauldron). Here, they cut the scene with Travers. BAMN! (Note : Harry says, " Get us inside gringotts and then Lestrange's vault and the Sword is yours")

3D SUCKED.

Bogrod - Imperius Curse sequence was good. Scene with Clankers - fine. No Description or Mention of "Flagrate" Curse, only Gemino Curse (Note : Hermione still gives them a cream or liquid, probably Dittany). Griphook takes the sword and gives the cup quoting Harry's words (mentioned above). There, burried under the treasure and with security guards outside - phew!

It was Hermione's idea to escape on the Dragon. (Note : DO NOT EXPECT the dragon sequence to be thrilling in 3D coz it SUCKED big TIME)

Harry jumps off the dragon - enters Voldemort's mind - sees the Ravenclaw symbol and Helena Ravenclaw - duh! It confirms his fear that the next horcrux belongs to RAVENCLAW house and is inside Hogwarts.

The Caterwauling Charm sequence was goooooooooooooooood. (Note: Harry climbs stairs in the book whereas he descends the stairs in the movie. LOL :D)

No Ariana side story.

Ginny is already there.

PROF. MINERVA McGONAGALL - \m/

No Prof. Sprout. :( No Pansy Parkinson sequence (it was there but wasn't good enough)

Filch - LOL - Blithering idiot :D

McG to Seamus and Neville :D LOL :D (I believe he has a history with polytechnics)

Okay, i think that is enough! I should write something better now! :|
Snape's Death was touching .. the way it was shown with Blood and thuds - aaargh! You can't stop it - you have got to cry! - Harry collects his tears not memory threads. "You have your mother's eyes" pierced my heart. Crying Spot #2

Hermione and Ron's kiss inside the chamber - *sick*

Harry with the Grey Lady - nicely shot but the storyline was PATHETIC!

Room of Requirement - Nice :) But i missed a scene here - i had gone to buy popcorn :S *sorry* *ashamed*

Fred's Death - was it even there? :| A disgrace in the name of the character. Just a few bloody seconds. :| Crying Spot #3

The Prince's Tale - The plot looked forward to by everyone (except a few :D) - It was okayish - I mean if we are to credit Sir Rickman - i don't have anything to say - he was just at his best - Snape crying all over - Young Harry was way cutee - They tripped down his memories - DISAPPOINTING. But Sir Rickman stole the show. Seriously? it was the best they could come out with? I mean SERIOUSLY? For instance, the scene when Snape tells Dumbledore that Harry is as arrogant as his father - fame seeking n all - The book - Imagine Dumbledore sitting in his chair reading "Transfiguration Today" and not even taking his eyes out of the book and saying "The other teachers have found the boy reasonably talented" "Keep an eye on Quirrel, will you?" It clearly shows that Dumbledore did not bother what Snape felt about Harry. So? Obviously it gives you something better to watch.

"You have got the emotional range of a teaspoon" - quite right actually. Ron doesn't say a word to Harry when he says, "I'm off to the forest" Hermione hugs him and cries and even says "I'll come." Ron just stands there staring at them - maybe thinking - "That's my GIRLFRIEND, you are hugging, Potter"

"I'm ready to die" / "I'm about to die" - Lovely. Crying Spot #4

Scene in the Limbo - it was SHORT .. Dumbledore doesn't EXPLAIN ANYTHING to Harry. yuck! DISAPPOINTING AND IRRITATING AT THE SAME TIME.
Obviously, i was expecting something better at this point - Dumbledore does not answer ANY of his questions - WAIT - Harry does not ask ANY - Dumbledore does not explain anything - for instance, how he wanted Snape to end up as the master of the elder wand - If they had gone by the book just for christ's sake for atleast once - it would have yielded a master piece to us. (Harry : Prof., Prof. Snape's patronus was a doe just like my mother's - huh?!?!! - Didn't you see that in the penseive, Potter?)
“That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.”
--------------------------
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love. By returning, you may ensure that fewer souls are maimed, fewer families are torn apart. If that seems to you a worthy goal, then we say good-bye for the present.”
--------------------------
“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?”
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on EARTH should that mean that it is not real?”
^^ What about that huh? DO NOT SAY THAT IT WOULD HAVE INCREASED THE TIME LIMIT - IT WOULD HARDLY TAKE 5 minutes to include that.

Forbidden Forest -Harry nods to Narcissa instead of breathing out a 'yes'.No problem, no one could have seen - Covered by Narcissa's back

Entrance Hall - Neville is waiting with the HAT(just a phrase). #wtf. Voldemort arrives with the death eaters. Neville switches to his BADASS Version. Boo yeah! EFF you, Voldy. As soon as he ends, Harry jumps off casting 'confringo' and runs away. A few Death Eaters disapparate (I think they did! :D). Narcissa and Draco bid Tata Bye - Bella keeps on shouting - come back! LOL - Join the yelling/screaming/enthusiasm - HARRY! HARRY! HARRY! - Tears of Joy! :')

Bella's demise - "Not my daughter, you bitch" - soothing! :D nicely done but was over in a fraction of seconds.

Then, Ron and Hermione try to kill Nagini but all in vain. Neville slays her. Good! Harry and Voldemort in the clock tower - Harry explains the story about the allegiance of the elder wand and then jumps off with him - awesome scene, man!

Then Voldemort's Avada Kedavra and Harry's Expelliamus. Voldemort is blasted off into pieces (paper :/) - 3D effect - try to catch some!

IRONICALLY, Harry doesn't use "Expelliamus" - he doesn't cast it / pronounce it. Voldemort uses Avada Kedavra only once in the forbidden forest. After his fall, Harry does what he should not have which apparently is PREPOSTEROUS.

NO PEEVES.

EPILOGUE :
No affinity between Albus Severus Potter and Harry James Potter even though they do the whole book sequence.
NOT EVEN A SINGLE DIALOGUE by RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY (i think he only said - look here they come)
I was looking forward to his jokes with Hugo.
No one in the "children" lot says anything except A.S.P.
The last shot was good (The trio - Hermione
No Teddy Lupin or Victoire
I was on the edge of my seat when it was happening and it all came out to be -- yuck! Is that what you call an EPIC end? -- Hermione obviously stole the show in the Epilogue -- The least they could have done was showing Harry touching his scar -- Excluding Ron's jokes was way more disappointing than anything else.

"All in all, the movie was incoherent(Mark my words here, please - the movie IS INCOHERENT. The 'plots' had no beginning or ending NOT the movie) - the plots - more like HBP - no beginning no end - just jumping off from one shot to another - "There was no stability". Just like in HBP there was no stability, we kept on jumping from one scene to another -"ye kaha se aaya" was an obvious reaction. For instance, in HBP we are standing in the potions class with slughorn and the next scene comes out to be - Headmaster's office - Harry says, "Prof., you called me?" . I mean "dude" I blame it on the editing deptt and nowhere else. If you have not read the novel, it is difficult to cope up with the plots (Not Impossible). 3D SUCKED big time. A real Potterhead will cry. The movie bags 4.9 on a scale of 5. Obviously, i'm biased! DUH!"

More on this later on. Stay glued. I need to add a few more points. But before that, i am gonna watch it again.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mysticism

'"Mysticism'" refers to beliefs and practices that go beyond the liturgical and devotional forms of worship of mainstream faith, often by seeking out inner or esoteric meanings of conventional religious doctrine, and by engaging in spiritual practices such as breathing practices, prayer, contemplation and meditation, along with chanting and other activities designed to heighten spiritual awareness. For example, Kabbalah (based in Judaism) seeks out deeper interpretations of the Torah and other mystical works, and may conduct spiritual practices based in Meditation, Theurgy, or Alchemy, as well as song, dance, prayer, and talmudic study, accordingly, as is done in many other mystical traditions. Sufism (in Islam) extends and amplifies the teachings of the Quran in the spirit of universal love, most famously through their devotional musicians dancing Zhikrs and singing Qawwalis. Vedanta reaches for the inner teachings of Hindu philosophy encapsulated in the Vedas, and many students of both Shaivite Tantric schools within Hinduism, as well as Shakta Tantrics, along with usually more mainstream-oriented Vaisnaivas, will use the symbolism and mythologies of their gods and goddessess, to take the initiate home to their highest awareness, via mystical practices designed and proven for these purposes. Mystics hold that there is a deeper or more fundamental state of existence beneath the observable, day-to day world of phenomena, and that in fact the ordinary world is superficial or epiphenomenal. Often mysticisms center on the teachings of individuals who are considered to have special insight, and in some cases entire non-mystical (doctrine-based) faiths have arisen around these leaders and their teachings, with few or no mystical practitioners remaining.
Different faiths have differing relationships to mystical thought. Hinduism has many mystical sects, in part due to its historic reliance on gurus (individual teachers of insight) for transmission of its philosophy. Mysticism in Buddhism is largely monastic, since most Buddhists consider jhana (meditation) to be an advanced technique used only after many lifetimes. Mysticism in Abrahamic religions is largely marginalized, from the tolerance mainstream Muslims grant to Sufism to the active fears of cultism prevalent among western Christians, with Chasidic Kabbalists of Judaism being the notable exceptions. Mysticisms generally hold to some form of immanence, since their focus on direct realization obviates many concerns about the afterlife, and this often conflicts with conventional religious doctrines. Mystical teachings are passed down through transmission from teacher to student, though the relationship between student and teacher varies: some groups require strict obedience to a teacher, others carefully guard teachings until students are deemed to be ready, in others a teacher is merely a guide aiding the student in the process.
Mysticism may make use of canonical and non-canonical religious texts, and will generally interpret them hermeneutically, developing a philosophical perspective distinct from conventional religious interpretations. Many forms of mysticism in the modern world will adapt or adopt texts from entirely different faiths - Vivekananda in Vedanta, for instance, is noted for his assertions that all religions are one. As a rule, mysticisms are less concerned with religious differences and more concerned with social or individual development. What mysticism is most concerned with, however, is having the most effective set of practices to attain enlightened consciousness and union with God. Not much else beyond this matters to a dedicated mystic, who focuses on the inner realms: mind-breath, non-thinking awareness, and so on. Mystics are not too concerned with the opinions or the religious tools of their more conservative religious compatriots.