Thursday, October 17, 2019

“20-20-20” FORMULA FOR RELAXING EYES:


Computer screen and our eyes don’t see eye to eye with each other. But we can’t avoid their working relationship.
We know, prolong staring rather than looking at the screen is damaging to our eyes. Staring means reduced or no blinking of eyes, while looking involves frequent blinking. The ideal is 12 blinks per minute while on the computer.
Ophthalmologists suggest a “20-20-20” formula to avoid tired or dry eyes. That means taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes, and to look at something 20 feet in distance. This eye break allows both relaxation and plenty of blinks.

GOING TO A MOVIE THEATRE IN THE TURMOILS OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR


 By Promod Puri
It was the early ‘50s, and I still remember going to the Hari Theatre in Jammu. There we were four or five us excited to see the Dilip Kumar starring blockbuster Aan.
The songs of the film still reverberate in my nostalgic moods. Dilip Kumar, teasing actress Nadira and rocking with “maan mera ehsan” number, was the scene I can vividly recall. In that early teenage stage, it was indeed a bundle of joy to occasionally go for a movie and blow about it the next day in the school.
Aan was a thriller where the hero (Dilip Kumar) dominated the screen, singing, romancing, and fighting the bad guy (Premnath). The story, the dialogues, and the rest of the details I don’t remember, but I do know it was a package of entertainment including the refreshments at the film interval break.
After reveling in uninterrupted three hours of enjoyment, we came out of the theatre in spirited feelings of joy.
But as we stepped on to the main bazaar on our way home, the scene was frightening and of complete silence. Shopkeepers downed the shutters, and we could not see the regular hustle and bustle of the city’s downtown area. There were the police all over the main bazaar. We were told not to walk there, and if we dared to do so, we could be arrested.
This was a curfew, a very strict one, suddenly ordered by the authorities without any previous warning.
Curfews were a common occurrence in Jammu in those days. It was due to the often-violent demonstrations by the regional political party called Praja Parishad.
Discrimination by the government, dominated by Kashmiri politicians, including its prime minister Bakshi Gulam Mahammad, was the main complaint of the Praja Parishad outfit. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has always been controlled by Kashmiri leaders since 1947 after the Dogra Raj. Whereas Kashmir has been seeking “Azadi” from India, Jammu is seeking “Azadi” from Kashmir.
The Praja Parishad was at the forefront seeking equal opportunities for the Jammu region. The party always had violent confrontations with the government. As a result, Jammu frequently remained under curfew orders.
It was one of those curfews which were part of regular scenes while growing up in the ever turmoil state of Jammu and Kashmir. But life went on as we ventured out to see the movie, Aan.
Despite the risks involved, we managed to reach our homes, playing hide and seek with the police forces. It was frightening, but an experience fresh in my mind till now.
How other moviegoers reached their homes, ended up being arrested, being shot, or just stayed on in the theatre hall to see the movie again, are the questions revealing the ever-tense situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE: I’M THE CAUSE, I’M THE CURE



By Promod Puri
I’m often bewildered if the flood of climate campaigns and protests worldwide is proceeding in the pertinent direction, hitting the key target causing the environmental damage.
In fact, that overlooked and evading target is me, along with most of us. Seriously!
I’m the one, despite being aware of the deteriorating environment, is contributing significantly to its global degeneration. Rather I’m the root cause. I’m the one who is creating demand for goods and services; cheap and in abundance.
But I blame big businesses, manufacturers, and industrialists in the capitalist community for their greed and irresponsible practices causing the escalating global catastrophe.
I’m the one shouting at the world leaders that they are not taking responsibility. I’m the one telling the conservative folks that they are ignorant and don’t understand the science of the environment.
I’m part of the worldwide cry that enough is not being done.
That is the image I have, or I’m creating for myself, that environment is my greatest concern. But privately, I indulge myself in everything which generates the cause but doesn’t accept the consequence. Both the cause and the consequence apply to “we human beings.” But not me.
I also realize my collective responsibility towards a cleaner environment.
Personally, I do everything contributing to environmental deterioration. I have a firm mindset. What I’m doing is just a drop, and that it does not matter.
My eating habits, my buying habits, my social habits remain intact. But while out on the street and on social media, I’m an environmentalist.
I do know that earth is warming up, seas are rising, and glaciers are melting. As a result, some island countries are soon going to be submerged in their surrounding oceans. The coastlines are being eroded.
Although I do not understand what the guarantees in the business of carbon reduction mean, how does it work, and how it is traded or manipulated. But I do support net-zero carbon-emissions goals.
I’m quite aware of the fact that the international political community has been producing, year after year, tons of environmental accords that do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But at the same time, these lofty resolutions and goals are non-binding. They are easy to get in and easy to get out. And I notice all these conventional wrangles at the global climate actions summits.
In my socialist outfit, I demand zero economic growth where we could stop our economy from growing endlessly, we could stop endless increases in our consumption of resources, and we could take some of the pressure off the environment.
My social attachments and lifestyle conflict with my environmental responsibilities and accountabilities. In a culture of accumulation where the choices galore, the shopping spree is an indulgence. The closets are overflowing, the kitchen cabinets, the refrigerators are loaded, the garage is a big storage container. Getting bargains is a pride achievement of shopping loot.
In this environment of amassment for every need or no need, the industry is ready to flood the market with goods. Otherwise, who would care to buy a banana hanger?
I move on to creating my own environmental footprints. At the same time, I’m kicking those who pollute the planet earth. I do realize environmental cleaning has to start from where it begins.
I’m the cause, I’m the cure.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

JAGMEET SINGH AND CANADIAN CULTURE


queens-park-u100kAn interesting interaction took place October 2 when a fellow Canadian in Quebec asked New Democratic Leader Jagmeet Singh to “cut off” his turban to look “like a Canadian.”
In a poised and cool manner, which is the image he has created for himself, Jagmeet Singh responded: “I think Canadians look like all sorts of people.”The man tried another approach: “in Rome, you do as the Romans do,.” A polite response from Mr. Singh: “But this is Canada, you can do whatever you like.”
In agreement, the man nodded, “I hope you win.”
The encounter between the two Canadians with different cultural backgrounds, the antiquated proverb “in Rome, you do as the Romans do” has a broader meaning from the Canadian perspective.
The question is ‘what is Canada’s culture’?
The simple and clear answer lies in its multicultural fundamentals, where “Canadians look like all sorts of people.” Canada is not a monolithic society and was never like that since its inception. The culture of multi-culture is an ever-evolving and a developing phenomenon of this nation.
In a contemporary cosmopolitan society “in Canada, you do as Canadians do” is much more contemporary than “in Rome, you do as the Romans do.”
-by Promod Puri

Monday, September 30, 2019

Red Thread Around Wrist

A NEW FAD OF HINDU IDENTIFICATION:

Red thread around the wrist (right for men and left for women) is the new fad of Hindu ritualistic identification. Called Mauli or Kalva, it is tied by a priest or an elderly person after a ceremonial event. The wearer is supposed to keep the thread until it is worn out.

The literal meaning of Mauli in Sanskrit is ‘crown,’ which means, above all. There are several mythological stories about the origin of Mauli, as well as claims of health benefits.

The red cotton thread is often mixed with small colors of yellow or orange. It is supposed to dispense some magical powers of protection and to ward off misfortune as well as to attract good luck.

Many among those who wear the Mauli have a strong feeling that it should not be removed because of a fear that such an act can bring bad luck.

It is the fear factor which dominates all the religions of the world, and Hinduism is not an exception. The sacred thread symbolizes that fear, besides its ritualistic value.
-Promod Puri

Monday, September 23, 2019

A BOX OF TOFFEES


I was 10-year-old when one day I severely broke my right arm. A local pehlwan, as the practice or custom was in those days, was called to fix the arm. His oil massage and turning and twisting the arm to align the broken bones was an extremely painful maneuver. After a few days, the rugged treatment did not produce any improved result. Perhaps, it was more damaging.
Next, I was in an Amritsar hospital where a known surgeon specializing in fixing broken bones finally put the bones close to and in front of each other. This was followed by lying on my back all the time for a week or so. The operated arm was kept lifted up, tied with a string which after going thru a pulley was tied at the other end with solid brick. The heavyweight was meant to bring the two bones together and slowly become one solid elbow joint. It worked.
I don’t exactly remember how did I pass the time during this period on the hospital bed. But I do remember the early morning hours of each and every day. These were the waiting moments. Waiting for my mother’s arrival to take over the night shift from my father at the bedside.
The sound of her chappal, while walking from the entrance door to the long recovery ward and up to my bed, is a revered and treasured memory which is as blissful now as instinctively felt then. For a child a few minutes or hours of separation from the mother is really a long wait. The reunion is a sheer elation.
One day at the hospital my innocent joy was elevated. To my pleasant surprise, my eldest brother was beside my bed. He came to see me from Delhi. What made him undertake that journey! Just simple and wholesome feelings for the youngest sibling in the family.
He sat beside me. I don’t remember what he talked about, but his visit and giving me company must be an exhilarating moment between us.
A caring and compassionate person with love and feel his presence was a cheery treat for me. He presented me with a box of toffees.
Sweet and unforgettable moments. A gleam of the past is in the present.
-Promod Puri

WRITING IS A CONSTRUCTION JOB


By Promod Puri
“Words are the tools of writing.” But not quite so!
Words, in fact, are the bricks and mortars we select and gather to build a structure. Its architecture and construction are based on our thoughts, opinions, and feelings, perceptions and impressions, or sharing of information, knowledge, and experiences.
In our learning faculty, there is a library of words being accumulated from early childhood. We retrieve them from our memory cells to begin the composition of a story, novel, essay, poetry, and all other literary and non-literary works or writing a simple personal diary.
Moreover, comprehensive dictionaries offer thousands of words stacked in alphabetical order.
Just like bricks, words are cast in different sizes, but each is carrying its own identity and impact. It is in this semantic profile that words give an outlook and character to writing.
Words are liberal in their nature. If a word is not the right one or it does not fit into the rigid demand of a writer, it offers a whole stockpile of alternative synonyms choices.
Words are not the writing tools, but when they are put together by the skills of a wordsmith, the whole composition becomes a tool by itself. Primarily, writing is the tool of communication which we need as a complement to speaking. But writing goes beyond spoken words. It stays longer or forever.
Is writing hard work? Not really, so far as there are enough bricks around in different sizes and shapes, along with a sound idea or subject matter, that a structure can be built and redesigned or even renovated.
The technicality of writing lies in its grammar as well as those little but indispensable characters, called punctuation marks, offering control and disciplinary mechanism in this creative development.
However, objectivity, sensitivities, and rationality are the basic guidelines in raising a writing structure which is otherwise stalled when these feelings lack honesty and sincerity.
Under these guidelines, writing offers good companionship. As well as “writing is the only way to talk without being interrupted.”(Jules Renard, novelist, and playwright).