Monday, July 23, 2007

Democracy in action?

An SMS conversation.
July 22, 2007, 2 pm at VHSC School, PMG.

1. My SMS to Biren, Divya and Baiju Sir :

Am I seeing democracy in action? I'm in ward sabha of kunnukuzhi ward on behalf of my principal. More than 90% here are women.
2. Reply from Baiju Sir :
Its not for nothing that India is hailed as the biggest democracy.
3. Reply from Biren :
Let us not glorify it seeing it as a surprise. In Kerala at least, we know democracy is in action at ground level. It is only that we never participate in it. So its a time to pity on us.
4. My reply to Baiju Sir, Copy to Biren :
I'm hunting in the terrains of my memory to recollect even one meeting that i have seen in which women outnumbered men.
5. Reply to Biren :
Ya true. I pity you. And you can pity me.
6. Reply from Biren to 4 :
Almost all saksharatha classes were like that.
7. Reply from Biren to 5 :
May be its time u are out of that US. Keep it up. I have to go a long way to be out of that. So let me pity myself.
8. From Biren :
BTW, who is the councilor there? Kunnukuzhi Manoharan?
9. Reply to Biren :
Ya. This is some experience da. And I know, this too won't contribute to any action from my part.

And it didn't. My headache defeated my excitement, and I left the place at 4pm after the meeting, but before the group discussions.

For those not familiar with the process of decision making under janakeeyasootranam :- Ward sabha in corporations and grama sabha in panchayaths are the most basic units of democracy. Its a place where direct democracy is supposed to be exercised. All the residents of that ward can attend the meeting and put forward their requirements from the government for the next year. This would include things like road to their place, electricity, water, employment opportunity etc. These requirements have to be made into informal project proposals. The councilor will take all these projects to the corporation where joint projects would me made out of it.

Naga, I know these kind of gatherings will be a routine for you. Thats why I didn't SMS you.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Finishing Skills

I have this odd (or is it?) habit of starting to read a new book before finishing the one that I have been reading then. Its quite usual for me to be reading two or three books at the same time . Usually I'll end up having one book for the lazy mood, one for the alert mood, and one for the inspired mood.

By the way, I'm a very slow reader and sometimes very disloyal to books. I abandon many midway and those which I finish, I take ages to do it. That is the reason why I keep out of bibliophile gangs. Reading never comes to me naturally. Unless it is such a well written book. Classics like Idiot and Love at the time of cholera were abandoned mid way. Thats the kind of a Brutus that I'm.

But this last month or so, I have almost lost count of the books that I have left open on my table.

  1. Hyperspace, A scientific odyssey through parallel universes, time warps and the tenth dimension by Michio Kaku.
    Source : Rajani, my student and hence no due date!
    Genre: Popular Science
    Status: Two parts of the four part book.
    Comment : A very informative and research provoking book.
  2. The Magical Maze by Ian Stewart.
    Source : British Council Library - Already renewed thrice. Due date Aug 9, 2007.
    Genre: Popular Math
    Status: Into the fourth chapter. Out of eight chapters.
    Comment : Informative and easy read.
  3. A Devil's Chaplain - Selected Essays by Richard Dawkins.
    Source : British Council Library - Already renewed thrice. Due date Aug 9, 2007.
    Genre: Essays, Evolution.
    Status: Just a few paragraphs.
    Comment : Not yet.
  4. Chaos - Kramamillayimayil Kramam (കയോസ് - ക്രമമില്ലായ്മയിലെ ക്രമം) by K. Babu Joseph
    Source : Randhir Sir, my colleague and hence no due date!
    Genre: Popular Science, Malayalam.
    Status: Two of eight chapters.
    Comment : An introductory stuff.
  5. The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru.
    Source : British Council Library - Already renewed once. Due date Aug 9, 2007.
    Genre: Politics, History, Philosophy.
    Status: Into fourth chapter. Out of 10.
    Comment : I'm determined to finish this one. The inspiring thoughts in the book which inspired me to dream but failed at inspiring me into action have bred another blog. - Orphaned Dreams
  6. Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. Just got it two days ago.
    Source : College library, GEC Barton Hill.
    Genre : Philosophy
    Comment : Promising.
Classes are beginning. I have lost hope in me now. I don't think I'm going to finish any of the above. How many things do I leave unfinished.

Dear authors, forgive this trespasser.

Friday, July 13, 2007


[I had originally posted this some time during Feb 2007 in my class website (glassroom) under the tag introspection. The server crash there had wiped out this along with so many other articles. But today I stumbled upon an off-line copy of this in my hard disk. So I'm reposting it here.]

Christ Nagar School, my second home during upper primary and high school education, was celebrating her annual day on Feb 9, 2007. It was hard to resist when the present vice-principal, Thomas Mani Sir invited me that afternoon to come to the function in the evening. When I came to know that Vimal was also going to be there, I had no second thoughts in going there.

After the PTA executive meeting at college, in which I somehow managed to stay awake, there was still about an hour left before the function. So I went to Museum compound, made two rounds of brisk walking and then retired to one of the garden chairs. I had timed the second round in my stopwatch and noticed that I could complete one round (which by the way is said to be 700 meters) in 6 minutes 28 seconds, and made a quick mental calculation to satisfy myself that I'm keeping over the 6 kmph mark (100 meters per minute).

While on the chair I was wondering looking at the pigeons there - "I know the mechanics behind how these birds fly, but do I know how they manage to get that forward thrust along with the lift?" Hm, may be it is the shaping of the wings, but I was wondering more on why I did not wonder about this anytime till now.

When I knew Vimal was going to be late, I washed my face at the museum canteen and proceeded to drive to Christ Nagar. After parking my zen on the road, I walked down the lane past the imposing and unforgettable crescent shaped school building and to the ground where the function was happening. The function had already begun and most of the plastic chairs were already claimed. I was infact happy to find the gallery seats vacant, and promptly claimed one.

Watching the kids from there was thought provoking. The small ones, the big ones, the volunteers, the trouble makers, the crisis managers ... How do they all grow up so differently in the same school?

Then I met Rajani and her friends, then Biju Sir and family, then Vimal, then Thomas Mani Sir and also Ouseph Bhai. We discussed lot many things and enjoyed the mega cultural events. The major programs were a big concert by the students and a visualization of Kerala history from Vasco-da-Gama to present. Some factual errors like substituting the "urumi" of Unniyarcha with a "vadi vaal" could be ignored considering the effort that has gone in.

We left at around 8.45 pm, I and Vimal promising to return the next day morning to help Mani sir configure the moodle installation.

Next day morning at 9.15 when I reached the ground, I found the plastic chairs waiting for the truck. I was thinking aloud to Vimal about my days at school. When the volunteers used to assemble at school on the morning after every big function to fold all the steel chairs and stack them back in the go-down. When I told this to Mani Sir, he said :

"Those days are gone. Now parents don't allow their children to volunteer for physical labor"

I was thinking of the orange in the food pack that we volunteers used to get after stacking all the chairs.

Moodle is up and ready in Christ Nagar.