Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Nature of Swearing

The powerful urge to swear and utter cuss words has its origins deep down in human psyche. They rise out of the swelling cauldron of turbulent human emotions which are in a constant state of friction and tension. When they can no longer be controlled, they spill out through the tongue in the form of swear words. The tongue unleashes a volley of words which, by no means, are sweet to hear, and hurt those to whom they are directed. Not only, do they shake the persons present, but also disturb the calm and peaceful atmosphere. Such is the destructive power of these swear words that their sharp negativity casts a cloud of gloom in the minds of the listeners for a long time to come and portrays a bad impression of the person who utters those words. Though cuss words are in no way acceptable, their increasing use has begun to gnaw the very fabric of a civilized society like a termite, and weaken it from inside.

But it is not only in fits of anger that we utter cuss words. They are spelt in states of anxiety, in jovial moods, and even in utter astonishment. When uttered in those states of mind, they are by no means harmful and offensive in nature. But even those swear words make an indelible mark on people, though for only some moments. Offensive or not, swear words have become not just words, but powerful means of expression and feelings, with numerous connotations and various meanings, when spoken in different social situations. Their negative affects far outweigh the positive aspects and have become widespread in modern conversations and lingo.

Social scientists and psychiatrists studying the reasons behind such liberal use of swear words have come up with results that are nothing but alarming. Curse words, it seems according to research and studies, serve many purposes. Swearing not just releases anger and frustration, but also let other people know how you’re feeling. They channel the emotions inside to flow out as a verbal onslaught and lays bare the hidden anger suppressed within the soul. They also make statements bold and creates a direct and sudden emphasis - statements which otherwise would have been orally spoken sentences.

Whatever the reasons, swearing affects all of us in some way or the other – emotionally, mentally and physically, though the signs are very subtle. Only determined efforts and a cultivated mind will rid us of the habit of swearing and uttering curse words. Let us make a firm resolve not to swear, even if the impulse to swear is very strong. You can always find substitute words and expressions which communicate the same emotions, if you really work around with your language. This is an initiative that will make our language free of cuss words, and it can be an infectious one, if people join hands and swear not to swear.

Deconstructing Swearing

Swearing is so commonplace. We hear it almost every day, in various situations of life. In every single line, every single sentence that is spoken around us, swearing words has become increasingly used in one’s vocabulary. We hear it from friends, family members, strangers we encounter in public places, while commuting in crowded trains, buses, walking or traveling. It seems by the repeated use of swear words that people don’t find it abusive or immoral to use them anymore. Not even adults, children too are using curse words in their day to day language. It is almost shocking to imagine a scenario in the near future, where swearing words are on the tip of every tongue and every thought that crosses the mind comes with its liberal use of swear words. And increasing personal tensions, strife and struggle to etch a decent living, the desire to succeed and difficulty to accept failure, gives rise to an inner turmoil of the mind that acts as a fuel, igniting negativity and hatred among people and spurs them to utter curses and degrade themselves and others.

Such dreaded scenarios are not far off, and if we don’t act today as a community, as a person, and as a responsible human being, we won’t have to wait too long for the day to come. In view of such a disastrous future, let’s delve deep into ourselves and discover swearing in all its ugliness. Since when did we start to swear? Did we hear swear words from someone or did they occur within ourselves on their own? What were the situations that made us swear? Do we swear only when angry, or we swear spontaneously on other occasions too? Questions will make us uncomfortable, for sure. But facing these questions will uncover truths that we fear most and dread to know. It is then that we will see ourselves in a new light. It is this inner cleaning process from which will emerge a new vision of ourselves – a vision that will be pure and devoid of negative forces. This will be the true you and will show you what you were before you wore those cloaks of anger, pride, ego, jealousy and acquired all those negative energies that started to get attracted to you like a huge magnet.

Swearing occurs in the mind. It all begins when we hear and pick up strange sounding words consciously or unconsciously from our peers, elders, friends, strangers and try to comprehend its meaning. Quite often, the meaning or its connotations will become evident from its tone and the situations under which those words were uttered. It gets ingrained in our thinking process unconsciously, over a period of time. Once it takes its hold on our psyche, and when we hear those words again and again, it becomes a part of our unconscious brain and then it does not require any effort on our part to swear. It comes naturally to our tongues and becomes part of our natural conversations. Neither we realize that we are swearing, nor are we able to figure it out why do we utter such words in the first place. We do not find anything wrong in swearing. And when asked the reasons, our mind invents arguments and builds a web of logic to prove why swearing is just no problem at all!! We justify our swearing and transfer the onus on the society and its evils. And it is true to some extent. Isn’t it!!

To escape from the evil clutches of swearing needs a firm focus on moral values and a determined effort on our part to let go of this bad habit. It is an initiative that springs from within ourselves. Force this initiative and give a platform to free India and its population from the vices of cursing words and bring some purity to its languages. It gives a social impetus that eggs us on to develop an India that is free of cuss-words.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Decline of Lions in West Africa


Think of lions and think of Africa and India. Lions have become an integral part of the African culture and ethos. They are so synonymous with Africa, so woven into their cultural fabric that, to think of them becoming extinct from West Africa is news that comes and hits you hard, really hard. With predictions that they can become extinct in some 50 years, it is time to wake up and realize the graveness of it all. We see them in documentaries, in films, in books. Mention of Africa is incomplete without a mention of Lions.

And in the midst of all this, man progresses. Man’s progress is Lion’s destruction. Man builds, farms, usurps land, they do all but do not protect. And when they hear of lion’s sudden disappearance, their extinction, they come up with steps to show that they care.

While increasing farming and cultivating land seems to be the main factor for this, it is also true that West African nations are among the poorest and funding initiatives are hard to get implemented. Radical steps need to be taken and it will need a Herculean effort on the part of Government and communities to do this. Perhaps it will take international communities to see the problem and help the impoverished nations to fund for saving the lions. Or perhaps they can get a cue from the success of Gujarat, where the lion population soared and thrived. It may have been because of local people’s active participation in conservation efforts and tolerance to the lions or better management of local communities and wildlife land, but the results are there for all to see. But, while we are alarmed at this news, the population of lions in South and East Africa is alarmingly healthy and prospering!!

So let’s hope that lions thrive in these West African states and do not get declining with every passing year.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Molcolm Arnold for inspiration

If I want to go on a fantasy dream. When I am in that mood, when I just want to be in some other place. A place full of wondrous mountains, valleys, little cute fairies, green carpet spread everywhere - but with a little mystery added to it. A danger inherent in all of these beautiful things. An unknown danger lurking behind the veils of mist. 
If I am in these mood, when I want to be sensitive to the many enchantments nature has to offer, I listen to Malcolm Arnold’s Symphony No.5. It is simply superb; in fact it is a very very magical kind of symphony. Just listen to the first two movements and you will be spell struck and transported to a magical fantasy world; a world full of magic, fairies, brave knights, dangerous wizards, evil and all of these.
If you want to create fantasy ideas, want inspiration for writing fantasy plots, or just plain - be in a fantasy world of your own - to soothe your nerves and just to be alone - listen to this work. It is simply magical.

Symphony No.5

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Observations in formation of a poem

poem writing ideas, prompts and inspirations
A poem is born in the fertile valley of emotions and it grows on the thoughts, pains, joy, suffering, happiness, loneliness, helplessness experienced by the poet. Sometimes a poem narrates an event and is coloured by the vision of the poet as he sees it. The poem is inborn and lines come to the poet naturally. It can be philosophical in its form, trying to express the nature of the things with a inherent meaning to all things that happen naturally, as the sun rising or the rain falling or a strong wish to sing a song. The poem gives a meaning to all these naturally occurring events and gives it an emotional appeal.

But isn't the world a reflection of our emotions? When we are happy and in a calm mood, the world seems so beautiful. The moon looks beautiful, the bird on the tree sings a joyful note, the world is filled with different colours, even dull, sombre things in nature look bright. Often such thoughts rise because of love for beloved, or when our lover is sitting besides us, or even just mere thoughts of our lover.

But when we are sad or some tragedy has struck us, the world outside seems to reflect the sadness inside. The moon even if it is bright seem to frown upon us, it may even laugh at us (so the poet feels) the winds seem to just pass by, the bird no longer interests us, and the natural elements seem to have wrecked havoc upon our emotions and our minds. It may even be that we feel lonely without our lover, or in the absence of our lover. At such times, overcome with grief, our heart aches and we feel to just be alone with our thoughts and our loneliness. Such feelings can be expressed in poetry and many times natural elements figure prominently in poems. They give the dramatic twist to the poem and makes the poem readable and interesting.

I came across two songs from old Hindi films and their mukhdas (starting lines forming part of the song embodying the spirit of the entire song) just were so wonderful and seeped with strong emotions.

One is from the film Tarana, the 1951 film starring Dilip Kumar and Madhubala. Great songs by Talat Mahmood and awesome music by Anil Biswas.

The mukhda of the song "Ek main hoon ek meri be-kasi ki shaam hai..." sung by Talat Mahmood is drowned in anger, hatred and grief. It goes like this:

The first line -
jali jo shaakh-e-chaman, saath baaghbaan bhi jalaa
This line expresses that as the garden and its trees and branches burned, with it also burned the baaghbaan i.e. the gardener and his family.

The second line -
jalaa ke mere nasheman ko aasmaan bhi jalaa
Though my small nest (nasheman) was burned by the ruthless sky, the sky itself burned with it.

These lines seem to show anger on the elements i.e. sky that conspired against the poet and burned down his nest i.e. his world. It says that though my whole world is burned so will burn the gardener, though my world is burned by the sky, so will the sky burn also.

The second film is the 1952 film Daag, also starring Dilip Kumar and Nimmi. Great songs by Talat Mahmood and music by Shankar Jaikishen. One particular song and its mukhda is wonderful in its content. The lines are as follows :

Chaand ek bevaa ki chuudi kii tarah toota hua
har sitaara besahaara soch men dooba hua

The moon is always beautiful to look at. But here in this song, it is not beautiful. It is a reflection of the grief felt by the poet. It is crescent, but why? Crescent like a broken bangle of a widow.... 
The stars adorn the night sky and are so bright on a dark night. But here the stars are pondering on something and are helplessly twinkling away in the sky.

Gham ke baadal, ik janaaze ki tarah thahare hue
sisakiyon ke saaz par kaheta hai dil rota hua

The clouds are lying still in the sky. They seem to just stand there. But why are they standing. As if attending a procession of the dead. And my heart sings to the tune of my sobs and tears.

The world is a mirror of our joys, grief, sorrow, happiness and the feelings that we feel in everyday life. The poem expresses just that - our emotions.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Favorite List of Western Classical Music works

Favorite list of Western Classical Music works

  1. Symphony No.5 in B flat major - Franz Schubert
  2. Symphony No.9 in C Major (The Great) - Franz Schubert
  3. Symphony No.8 in B Minor (Unfinished Symphony) - Franz Schubert
  4. Symphony No.6 in F Major (Pastorale Symphony) - Ludwig van Beethoven
  5. Symphony No.9 in D Minor (Choral) - Ludwig van Beethoven
  6. Symphony No.5 in C Minor (Fate) - Ludwig van Beethoven
  7. Symphony No.9 in E Minor (From the New World) - Antonín Dvořák
  8. Symphony No.6 in B Minor (Pathétique) - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  9. Symphony No.2 in D Major - Johannes Brahms
  10. Symphonie Fantastique - Hector Berlioz
  11. Symphony No.4 in D Minor - Robert Schumann
  12. Symphony No.1 in D Minor (Titan) - Gustav Mahler
  13. Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor - Gustav Mahler
  14. Symphony No.9 in D major - Gustav Mahler
  15. Symphony No.5 - Malcolm Arnold
  16. Symphony No.40 in G Minor - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  17. Symphony No.25 in G Minor - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  18. Serenade for Strings in C Major - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  19. Symphony No.3 in D Major - Franz Schubert
  20. Symphony No.2 - Sergei Rachmaninoff
  21. Sinfonia Antartica - Ralph Vaughan Williams
  22. Symphony No.1 in C major - Mily Balakirev
  23. Symphony No.1 in E flat major - Alexander Borodin
  24. Symphony No.2 in B minor (Heroic) - Alexander Borodin
  25. Symphony No.3 in F major Im Walde (In the Forest) - Joachim Raff
  26. Symphony No.3 in G minor - Louise Farrenc

  1. Piano Concerto No.1 in B Flat Minor - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  2. Piano Concerto No.1 in D Minor - Johannes Brahms
  3. Piano Concerto No.1 in E Flat Major - Franz Liszt
  4. Piano Concerto in A Minor - Edvard Grieg
  5. Piano Concerto in A minor - Robert Schumann
  6. Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor - Sergei Rachmaninoff
  7. Piano Concerto No.3 in D Minor - Sergei Rachmaninoff
  8. Piano Concerto No.5 in E Flat Major (Emperor) - Ludwig van Beethoven
  9. Piano Concerto No.1 in E Minor - Frédéric Chopin
  10. Piano Concerto No2 in F minor - Frédéric Chopin
  11. Cello Concerto in B Minor - Antonín Dvořák
  12. Violin Concerto in D Major - Johannes Brahms
  13. Violin Concerto in D Major - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  14. Violin Concerto in A Minor, opus 53 - Antonín Dvořák
  15. The Four Seasons - Antonio Vivaldi
  16. Cello Concerto in A Minor - Robert Schumann
  17. Concierto de Aranjuez - Joaquin Rodrigo
  18. Horn Concerto No.4 in E Flat Major - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  19. Piano Quintet in A major "Trout" - Franz Schubert
  20. Violin Concerto in B minor - Edward Elgar
  21. Cello Concerto in E minor - Edward Elgar
  22. Violin Concerto No.2 - Béla Bartók

Waltzes & Ballets
  1. The Blue Danube - Johann Strauss II
  2. Swan Lake - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  3. The Nutcracker Suite - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  4. Sleeping Beauty - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  5. Boléro - Maurice Ravel
  6. Romeo and Juliet - Sergei Prokofiev
  7. The Rite of Spring - Igor Stravinsky
  8. The Firebird - Igor Stravinsky

  1. The Ride of the Valkyries - Richard Wagner
  2. Prince Igor - Alexander Borodin

  1. Serenade for Strings in C Major - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  2. Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No.13 for strings in G major) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  1. 1812 Overture - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  2. Carnival Overture - Antonín Dvořák
  3. Oberon - Carl Maria von Weber
  4. William Tell Overture - Gioachino Rossini
  5. Barber of Seville - Gioachino Rossini
  6. Carmen - Georges Bizet
  7. Shéhérazade, ouverture de féerie - Maurice Ravel
  8. Froissart Overture - Edward Elgar
  9. Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave) - Felix Mendelssohn

  1. Peer Gynt - Edvard Grieg
  2. Holberg Suite - Edvard Grieg
  3. The Planets - Gustav Holst
  4. Lemminkäinen Suite - Jean Sibelius

Independent Pieces
  1. Night on Bald Mountain - Modest Mussorgsky
  2. In a Monastery Garden - Albert Ketèlbey
  3. The Lark Ascending - Ralph Vaughan Williams
  4. Flight of the Bumblebee - Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

  1. Scheherazade - Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  2. Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) - Richard Strauss
  3. Má vlast - Bedřich Smetana
  4. Isle of the Dead - Sergei Rachmaninoff
  5. Finlandia - Jean Sibelius
  6. In the Steppes of Central Asia - Alexander Borodin
  7. Falstaff: Symphonic Study in C - Edward Elgar

  1. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor (Moonlight Sonata) - Ludwig van Beethoven
  2. Piano Sonata No.11 in A Major, K 331 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  1. Hungarian Dance No.5 in G Minor - Johannes Brahms
  2. Polovtsian Dances - Alexander Borodin

  1. Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 - Franz Liszt
  2. España Rhapsody for Orchestra - Emmanuel Chabrier

Organ Music
  1. Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 - Johann Sebastian Bach

Fantasy for Orchestra
  1. Capriccio Italien - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

  1. Pomp and Circumstance Marches - Edward Elgar
  2. March Slave in B Flat Minor - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

  1. Enigma Variations - Edward Elgar
  2. Variations on a Nursery Tune - Ernő Dohnányi

Folk Songs
  1. Fantasia on Greensleeves - Ralph Vaughan Williams

Incidental Music
  1. The Wasps - Ralph Vaughan Williams

Monday, May 28, 2012

Life finds a way....

Even as the list of endangered species is increasing and the rampant industrialization and environmental dangers are posing a great threat to the wildlife habitats over the world, new species have also been discovered. This is both remarkable and amazing because, it shows and reflects the resilient nature of life on earth. It also shows how species adapt themselves to the environmental changes in spite of the great dangers posed by factors such as global warming, ozone depletion, pollution and other man made factors. 
Recently many new species have been found in remote and inaccessible parts of the world and also many new types of life have been discovered in the ocean depths in conditions regarded by many as impossible to live. For instance, Tubeworms have been found feeding on the chemicals emitted by the hydro-thermal vents in the Atlantic ocean floor, where temperatures are very hot. Recent explorations to the deepest point on earth, The Challenger Deep, in the Pacific Ocean, revealed many types of single-celled organisms called Foraminifera, organisms that construct shells. They were found in the sample of dirt from the ocean floor, where the water pressure is equivalent to 50 Jumbo jets piled on top of you. 
These new forms of life shows optimism that life finds a way to blossom and to spring itself, as the legendary Phoenix, the mythical firebird that rises from the ashes, to be born again. In 2008, over 1,25,000 western lowland gorillas have been found in the tropical dense forests of Congo. Recently 12 new frog species were discovered in the ecologically fragile, western ghats of India. Every year, the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University along with an international committee of taxonomists scientists who classify and describe new species choose their 10 favorites. These includes :

Sneezing monkey - A snub-nosed monkey found in the mountains of Myanmar, Rhinopithecus strykeri is named in honor of Jon Stryker, founder of the Arcus Foundation. Believed to be critically endangered, it has mostly black fur and a white beard, and it sneezes when it rains. 

Bonaire banded box jelly - This strikingly beautiful but highly lethal jellyfish looks like a box kite with a colorful long tail. Found on the Dutch island of Bonaire, it is named Tamoya ohboya because a teacher in a citizen science project thought a victim might scream "Oh boy!" when stung.

Devil's worm - Only 0.02 inches long, these nematodes were discovered at a depth of 0.8 mile in a South African gold mine and are the deepest-living multicellular organisms on the planet. It was named Halicephalobus mephisto from the Faust legend because it survives at high pressures and temperatures.

Night blooming orchid - This rare orchid from Papua New Guinea has flowers that open around 10 p.m. and close early the next morning. Named Bulbophyllum nocturnum, it is the only orchid known to bloom at night.

Parasitic wasp - This tiny parasite from Spain cruises at just a half-inch off the ground looking for ants, into which it inserts an egg in less than 1/20th of a second.

SpongeBob SquarePants mushroom - This new species of fungus, named Spongiforma squarepantsii, looks more like a sponge than a typical mushroom. From the island of Borneo in Malaysia, the mushroom is unusual in that its fruiting body can be squeezed like a sponge and still bounce back into shape.

Nepalese autumn poppy - This tall, yellow poppy from Nepal lives at altitudes above 19,800 feet. Named Meconopsis autumnalis because it blooms in autumn, it is thought to have been collected before, but not recognized as a distinct species.

Giant millipede - This giant millipede from Tanzania's Eastern Arc Mountains is about the length of a sausage and is called the "wandering leg sausage," hence the name Crurifarcimen vagans. At 6.3 inches long, it is the world's largest millipede; it has 56 rings, each bearing two pairs of legs.

Walking cactus - This fossil of an extinct group known as Lobopodia looks more like a cactus than an animal, with its wormlike bodies and multiple pairs of legs. Named Diania cactiformis, the 520-million-year-old specimen was found in Cambrian deposits in southwestern China.

Sazima's tarantula - This iridescent hairy blue tarantula is the first new species from Brazil to be named to the top 10 list. It is called Pterinopelma sazimai and is found on "island" ecosystems on flattop mountains.

All these reminds me of the conversation that takes place in the Hollywood movie Jurassic Park, between a group of leading scientists sitting together in a scene. The park is made by genetically engineering the DNA of dinosaurs and then to clone them so that people have a glimpse of how life was, billions of years ago. They are discussing ways to make the park a leading attraction on earth, but one scientist, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) objects to such a idea, saying it a "rape of the natural world." He could not figure out how such a genetically engineered dinosaur species can be controlled by a park. He is of the view that we do not have the power to control the dangers posed by such an act. Because the dangers are not foreseen by us. This conversation itself, summarizes the whole theme of the movie.

The movie also makes clear the fact that nature has a way to amaze and trick even the most advanced technology available to man. It has a way to protect itself and to reproduce itself in the most remarkable, even hostile conditions.

So protect nature, respect it for what it gives you. Save it, save life itself.