Sunday, August 21, 2016

Day 311: Can news ever spread joy?

Image Source: Google Images

For once let us imagine if every single news channel only shares headlines and breaking news that invariably talks about positive and happy news that showcases the altruistic and selfless side of people. Imagine reading a headline that talks about the extraordinary capabilities of individuals, the joyous occasions and  simple things in life. Well, I bet the world would be a different place. It is like this 'ripple effect' that will spread only waves of positive thoughts and continue to share only such news. Every time we set to read a newspaper or watch a news (any channel), all we read today is the hate and more hate. Every channel in every part is sharing either news about the natural calamities or most often the man-made ones. Then if none of these happen, then it is politics of religion, the politics of countries, power, and color. It just keeps spreading the 'hate' news more and more and all people are thinking about is how to keep themselves safe. In an information processing paradigm, there is surely a difference in how different genders process the message based on its valence. For instance, women are found to pay more attention and importance to positive news vs. men who can handle negative news too. The media sets the agenda for the kind of news they want to share and that shapes the perceptions of people/viewers. These have been studied for long and there have been significant results that showcase the importance of how news can influence perceptions. If that is the case, why aren't we just focusing on the good news for a little bit and share all good things from around the world. At least change the balance of good vs. bad news. May be it is the easiest way to sow seeds of goodness and joy in the minds of million viewers. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Day 310: Picture Post : The Golden sky

Nature is always the best artist. Most of my evening sky here is like a picture perfect painting. Last week we have been having a lot of rain and of course peeping sun once a while. This is the look of the sky just before a big shower and thunderstorm. This is an iPhone pic - no filter! This was at 8:30 in the evening. 

Image source: Meena Arvind (Personal)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Day 309: Short Film: Oomai Kural

For a movie buff short films are the best way to gauge the pulse of the director and understand the world of films. With that interest I had recently watched a short film called, 'Oomai Kural' by a young and upcoming director, Karthick Naren. Set in Coimbatore it is a crime anthology movie with a subtle style of narration. Very taut storytelling with underlying themes of 'good' vs. 'bad' was totally enjoyable from the very beginning. The movie begins by pushing our curiosity and connects the characters used in the movie carefully.  This is almost a year old but I got to watch it only now (I know! not so much for a movie buff!).

Do watch this if you haven't gotten a chance to see it yet.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day 308: Streetlight Effect

Image Source: Google Images
As a researcher one needs to be careful about what we 'search' for and what we 'find'. As a social scientist, it is a hard job to make sure I am not going just too narrow in my vision than what is required for my focus. These observational biases is not uncommon in the scientific world and is usually called as the 'Streetlight effect'. What it means is that you look only for something at a place where you believe it is found or where it is the easiest to find. Abraham Kaplan, an American philosopher also used an interesting story to illustrate this effect.

I will illustrate this story here in my words. Once a man was searching for something by the roadside. A policeman stopped by and asked him as to what he was looking for. The man told him that he lost his wallet and was looking for it. So, the policeman again checked if he was sure that was the place where he lost it. To this the man replied that it could be anywhere on that street. Now the policeman was surprised and asked as to why was he then just standing in one place and looking for it there. The man replied that that was the only spot where there was light (the streetlight) and hence, he kept looking there. 

This is what is called the streetlight effect where we look for something only at one place just because that is the only convenient place to look for. This story is not only of value to researchers and the scientific community, but makes sense from a philosophical stance too. Let us stop looking at only what is 'convenient' for us. Let us look for the 'truth'. Let us not stick to only where we can see the light. A light should lead us and not just hold us to a place. Let the light lead on..... 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Day 307: Happy Chingam !

Image Source: Google Images
Today is Chingam 1 (to be read as onnu). It is the new month according to the lunisolar calendar. This month is also called as Avani and Shravana. So, why is this month special?  This month marks the beginning of the festival season back home and the it is fun to have small celebrations through the months until  mid- December. It is also the month of Onam (Harvest festival in Kerala).

The first festival we have this month is the 'sacred thread' changing ceremony for men/boys who wear that. This is followed by usually the birthday of little Krishna and then the elephant-head god, Ganesha. Then comes Onam followed by the beautiful month of Navaratri or Durga Pooja. So, the big set of festival season is here and here is a wish to all of you on Chingam 1. Wishing you all blessed and excellent months ahead. Have fun! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Day 306: Most beautiful things in this world

Image Source: Google Images 

"What are the most beautiful things in this world?", asked a little child.
"Ah! well, the list is long, really very long." , said I, 
Do you have the patience to listen and hold on?
"Yes, I do", said she. 
I smiled,  "I will first tell you all that I have been told, 
and then will narrate all that I uphold."

Listen, oh, little girl, 
I was told it was in places to go by a long way, 
Like the light blue shores in the Caribbean isles, 
and the beautiful Icelandic summer nights. 
It was also in the streets of Tokyo, 
and the serene charm of Canadian winter snow. 
Some said it was the street food in Bangkok, 
and yet others claimed that it was the chaat masalas of India. 
The haute couture in Milan fashion show, 
or for a few, the royal palaces of big Europe. 
I was confused just like you, for,
all these are places afar very distant from my present home .
But what if I wanted to enjoy a few beautiful things,
should I go this far or are they just within my reach?

I shared with her all about the beautiful
and divine ones I found at home.
For me it was her innocent smile,
and the laughter of that little child.
That joyful hug of my dear mother,
and the soft kiss from my significant other.
The beaming face of my dad in my presence,
and my sibling's hugs are always pleasant.
That smile and chatter of my family and friends,
all in that little cozy nest we call our den.

I also love the sudden rains lashing my patio,
and the first rays of sun touching my windows.
That one text message from a good old friend,
and the happy voices of my dear loved ones.
The hardworking farmer by his farm,
and the smile of that stranger that works like a charm.
The joy of seeing a newborn in hand,
be it puppies, kittens, or the humans and all.
I love the smell of a home cooked meal,
with a book in hand and a singing heart .
Those happy sleeps and grateful thoughts,
and love that is sweet like a honey spot.

I think it is really hard to choose just one,
as we are blessed with a lot under sun.
This world itself is a delicate creation
that the simplest of things are like a song set in tune.
Little girl, I tell you,
Always remember what lady Keller once said,
the most beautiful things cannot be seen or heard,
they can only be felt by a true good heart.

© Meena Arvind 2016

This poem is dedicated to my hubby 'A' who is my best friend and soul mate. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Day 305: Happy Birthday India

Image Source: Google Images

Dear India,

Happy birthday. How wonderful it is to say that you turn 70 today. However, I'm not sure if I should only celebrate your birthday as 70. Yes, it makes you young, younger than many other countries around on this big blue world. But aren't you an old soul? Haven't you lived long enough to have seen the rise and fall of many civilizations, many empires, and culture? Haven't you gone through the seasons and eras with so much grit and calmness that you are now the wisest in this world? You are young to be 70 but you are wise to be the oldest living country in this world. 

The new birthday that you celebrate is like a second birth/chance. This is an entirely new India which is completely 'confused' about its own identity as a place. The seeds sown by the wily British East India has really held its place in this ground. How can it not? Isn't your land so fertile and quick to offer space and life to anyone who seeks refuge? Isn't your land so beautiful and vast that you let cultures blend to form new ones and still retain the old? But the seeds sown by the 'trespassers' hasn't gone in vain. It has gone ahead and grown to form the various 'evils' in our society. A society that is now lost in the vagaries of social norms. A society that is now lost to the facades of distressed souls. A society that is divided in things that cannot be told. I'm sure you want to calm your folks down. Well, I know it is not just the fault of the these trespassers. It is also the fault of your own 'children' in the past who watered and harvested the 'evil' plants. May be, your leaders could have played a different game and stopped it all. Or may be not. 

You want to let people know that we are only lost for we are soddened in problems around. But it is hard to make your folks understand.  Your folks are pushing you to lead a new race, a race where the fastest survive, the pompous stand out, the shrewdest outlive. I know that you truly don't like this race. I know you don't need to win this race. You are certain about what it takes to be a leader. But your great great..... grand children today don't understand that. They are after that philosopher's stone that is nowhere to be found. They are chasing a wild dream that is selfish and rooted to the seeds sown by your trespassers. 

Your children and grand children are young, able, and determined. I'm one of them but just like the many others, I'm living in that land that was wrongly assumed to be India at one time. Yes, the land Columbus mistook to be the land of spice and riches. I am celebrating the joy of 'being Indian' by being away from you. I surely miss you and miss the beautiful place where even chaos is orderly. I miss my beautiful family and the vibrant colors you spread around with your vastness and majesty. But I recognize the true sense of being Indian by being far away from you. I not only recognize your beauty but also the crudeness by living this far. It is similar to how I experience the coarseness of this land as much as I seem to enjoy its charm. 

It tells me one thing. Every country is struggling. We are in such times now and every country is evolving. It should not be a race to see who leads up to be the first. It should not be a race to see who is wielding the highest power. It should be a united stand on how this world can progress, how its people can thrive, and how each of us help to blend and exchange the good from each other. I know you agree with that as that is what you have been doing for long.  I know you are trying to shake away the evils planted by a few overstayed guests, guests who now look up to us for what we are and what we will become.  Happy birthday to you once again. Wishing you a beautiful journey ahead and may the billion hearts that live there work to discover that India that you long to become. I promise, I will play my part even if I am far away from you. 

An Indian who thinks of herself to be a global citizen.