Category: the hindu


It’s time for sound intervention | The Hindu.   Excerpt:

Acouple of years ago, 18-year-old Ram couldn’t communicate and was even incapable of making eye contact. Now, after many sessions of Carnatic music therapy, this boy with autism shows expressions on his face and is able to speak a little. Fifteen-year-old Tejas has got over her stammer, while 50-year-old Lalitha has gone back to her cheerful self after undergoing depression following menopause.

This transformation was brought about by Carnatic musician and music therapist Rajam Shanker, who works with various medical and rehabilitation professionals and organisations in India and abroad. A member of the World Federation of Music Therapy, Life Member of NADA Centre for Music Therapy and Research and other organisations, Rajam has made presentations on therapeutic aspects of Carnatic music at prestigious forums such as the European Music Therapy Congress at Cadiz, Spain, and the World Congress of Music Therapy at Seoul, South Korea.

……………Carnatic music has always been acknowledged as a structured art form with a fantastic repertoire of ragas, swaras , shruti and talas . “This structured framework allows for calibrated delivery of music therapy. Its potential for infinite improvisations also allows it to be tailored to suit different individuals, making Carnatic music an effective tool for therapy. Besides, Indian classical music has a spiritual connect,” says Rajam, who uses Carnatic music to treat autistic children and adults, slow learners, those with neurological problems, and those undergoing depression. Based on an individual’s age, health and emotional status, work schedule, colour and food choices, body constitution, etc, Rajam arrives at the precise raga and the right pitch for treatment. She starts by making the person listen to the raga. Those undergoing treatment are gradually made to sing if they can. While singing is more potent, it is not an absolute necessity; lyrics of the song are not sacrosanct; and musical training or knowledge is not a prerequisite either. Rajam employs nada anusandana, the ancient tradition of evoking sound from the body’s energy centres. She explains, “The human body responds to physical and neural communication, and music, deployed in a calibrated dosage evokes a positive response.”While singing is more potent, it is not an absolute necessity; lyrics of the song are not sacrosanct; and musical training or knowledge is not a prerequisite either

 

 

What is your real age?

What is your real age? | The Hindu.

 

Exercise is definitely the closest we have to an anti-ageing pill. Expensive skin creams that promise to make your wrinkles disappear, cosmetic surgery, laser ablation and botox are but superficial solutions. They cannot come close to the benefits attained from a regular heart-pumping, well-planned exercise routine.

There are two aspects to ageing. Your chronological age, which is calculated form the day you were born and the number of years you have lived, and your biological or “real” age, which refers to the current condition of your physiological body at the basic cellular level. The two are not necessarily the same. An individual may chronologically be 30 years old, but have the body and mind of a 45-year-old. She could be overweight or underweight, lethargic, with inadequately conditioned muscles and deficient lean body mass. She may have a poor immune system setting the stage for infection. She may have several degenerative lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes and hypertension. We see more such people these days. Young chronologically, but way beyond their years physiologically.

On the contrary, some individuals may be 45 years old chronologically and have a biological age of 25 in terms of energy, stamina, strength, mind power and pure joi de vivre .

What are the parameters to measure your real or biological age? Factors like blood pressure, blood sugar and other metabolic parameters, eyesight, condition of the lungs, heart, vocal cords, skin turgor, energy levels, physical appearance, condition and tone of muscles, mental acuity, memory, level of independence, fat percentage, lean body mass and fitness levels (cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, strength, agility, reflexes, balance, coordination and so on). Obviously, the advent of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol with the concomitant heart problems ages the body much faster than time.

What determines “real” or biological age? Good genes set the stage for a good or poor quality body. Environment and lifestyle choices, however, are the final predictors of the ageing process. No matter how good your genes, rapid ageing is inevitable if you subject your body to stressors like tobacco, alcohol, drugs and poor lifestyle choices like unhealthy food, lack of exercise and sleep.

The right kind of food is next. Foods with antioxidant properties and fibre like fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, whole unrefined grains and pulses are the best options.

Have a regular fitness routine that includes some cardiovascular activity like, running, speed walking, cycling or aerobic sessions. This should be balanced with adequate strength and muscle building.

Flexibility decreases with age. Sustaining and improving flexibility of various body parts with modalities like yoga and simple stretches keeps the body limber, prevents pain and poor posture due to muscle imbalance.

Stress is a part of our daily lives. Eliminating it altogether is too much to expect. Managing stress properly, however, is possible with proper training, meditation, relaxing techniques, time management and a basic willingness to make the necessary lifestyle changes.

Simple things like developing a hobby, having strong family ties and/or close friends that one can count on and relate to.

Working at something you love or nurturing relationships, especially those with pets or children, can be enormously rewarding and add meaning to life.

Learning something new or developing a new skill improves neurological function. It appears that keeping the body and mind active slows the ageing process.

People who exercise regularly and make the appropriate lifestyle choices have been found to have not only higher longevity but also a better quality of life. A youthful body and mental attitude along with the maturity and experience that comes with chronological age is something to aspire towards.

There is nothing wrong with ageing. It is the most natural process of the human body and certainly cannot be arrested. It can, however, be done gracefully with every attempt made to remain independent and productive.

Related articles

How young do you feel? | The Hindu.

 

Your answers should shed light on your Real Age.

1. Are you excited, (or at least vaguely motivated) to get out of bed in the morning? Yes/No (Sometimes we are too fatigued to register excitement and just wish for a few more minutes of blissful sleep, but that is a different discussion altogether.)

2. Do you have a purpose in life or are you drifting along wondering what to do next? Yes/No

3. Do you have a cause/hobby you are passionate about? Yes/No

4. Do you enjoy life? Do you look forward to your days/ events? Yes/No

5. Do you have strong, nurturing relationships? Yes/No

6. Do you like the work you do? Yes/No

If your answer is mostly ‘Yes’, you are doing really well on your ‘life experience’ score! Much of how you experience life depends on your attitude. An enthusiastic, nurturing and positive attitude can keep you younger.

From a physical fitness perspective, the following questions are pertinent

7. Do you exercise regularly and eat healthy for the most part? Yes/No

8. Can you run up a flight of stairs and not be completely winded at the end (or middle) of it? Yes/No (Indicates cardio vascular endurance or stamina)

9. Can you touch the floor standing up without bending the knees? Yes/No (Indicates the flexibility of the hamstring muscles at the back of the thighs and lower back, which tend to get tighter with age. Stretching regularly keeps all the muscles limber.)

10. How many proper push-ups and squats can you do? This varies with fitness levels. Increasing the number of push-ups and squats can help improve your strength.

11. How fast can you walk a mile? How quickly do you recover from the exertion? (see box for answer)

12. What is your fat percentage? (see box for answer)

A collection of recycled articles at Jamien Rao's studio Photo: Nagara Gopal         A mirror framed with leftover wood at Jamien Rao's studio Photo: Nagara GopalAll that junk | The Hindu. Excerpt :

At Jamien Rao’s office/studio in Sainikpuri, it’s understandable if you feel like a kid inside a candy store. Except that one wouldn’t be staring at candies but beautiful utilitarian artefacts made of recycled materials. “Recycled doesn’t mean shabby and cheap,” insists Jamien, whose firm has designed the interiors of hospitals, corporates and plush villas. In addition, if one is willing, he will minimise wastage and also turn leftovers in construction material into usable articles. Jamien is the face of the studio that has on board a psychologist and a host of creative minds that specialise in arts and crafts.

An acrylic sheet mounted over a layer of bamboo makes up the roof. The walls are cemented on the outer side while the bricks are bare but for the painting on the interiors. A piece of plumbing pipe has been remodelled to serve as a table lamp. Several pieces of measuring tape, discarded at construction sites, have been put together on a metal surface mounted on a granite stone to make a unique lamp shade.

The tables and chairs in his office and the garden and the wrought iron pot holders are all made of discarded materials. Old LP records and floppy discs have been turned into wall clocks, wine bottles have been filled with Christmas lights to become decorative lamps, leftover wooden pieces frame a mirror, water bottles have been turned into pots and a dish antenna doubles up as a canopy in the garden area.

Step by step, he proved himself and got clients to trust him. “There are times even people around you might ridicule you. One needs to be strong and determined,” he says.

Jamien knows it’s impossible to avoid scrap but his team minimises wastage. How does a psychologist fit into his team? “I found a lot of difference between what we communicate and what is perceived by clients. A psychologist can help bridge this void, especially in choosing the right colours and textures and making the interiors an extension of the client’s personality,” he explains.

As he takes us on a tour around his studio, he talks about peculiar problems that crop up: “Hyderabadis are Vastu conscious and don’t want old stuff coming into a new house. But many change their minds seeing how we remake stuff,” he says. One problem he still grapples with is his age. “When people read about our work online, they come expecting to meet an elderly gentleman. Very often I get asked ‘who is your boss?’ I tell them this is my firm and it takes them a while to get to trust me.”

Simple and sublime |

The Hindu. – excerpt :

(T)his book fathoms all.”

The book that eminent modern British poet W.B. Yeats referred to when it was published in 1912 went on to win for its author Rabindranath Tagore (then 51) the Nobel Prize in literature the next year. Gitanjali: Song Offerings thus became the first and, as it happens, the only literary work by an Indian to have won the revered prize. Significantly, this was also the first instance of the Swedish Academy awarding the prize to an Asian.

………………… The first instance of this tremendous impact is seen in Yeats’ reaction. He was among the earliest European admirers of Tagore and also wrote an excellent ‘Introduction’ to Gitanjali . The reason why this ‘Introduction’ became famous in literary history is the book’s powerful impression on Yeats and the candour with which he expressed it: “I have carried the manuscript of this translation about with me for days, reading it in railway trains or on the top of omnibuses, and in restaurants, and I had often had to close it, lest some stranger would see how much it moved me”. It is a measure of the emotional potency of the verses that they could, even in translation, produce such a profound affect on a mind already acquainted with fine literature.

Gitanjali remains to this day among the most popular books in modern India. What explains either the book’s staggering impact on its first readers in the West or its abiding popularity? Is not the highest excellence in art supposed to be inimical to wide currency? Is not a book of “religious” poems of a decidedly “idealistic” inclination not likely to find favour with the masses? Yes, but Gitanjali is a glorious exception. For, this book illustrates those rare instances when the highest excellence in art reside in matter that is also the simplest and the most profoundly human. Tagore’s admirer Yeats, the Nobel jury of 1913, and his readers across Europe were all struck by this genuine greatness that was simple and sublime at the same time.

A consummate artistry of form that seems effortless is here integrated with substance that speaks powerfully to most fundamental and the loftiest elements in human nature. With equal grace the book expresses the emotions of life’s every mood through poems that render, for example, the joys of children at play, the serenity of the boatman playing a lute on a boat in the river, the longings of the heart, the moods of the seasons and the agony of grief. The book partakes of the universally and essentially human and touches all that is above the worldly and the ephemeral in us. Reading these poems, we feel like saying with the poet: “When I go from hence, let this be my parting word/that what I have seen is unsurpassable” ( Gitanjali , 96).

All the myriad notes struck by the book resonate with a devoted love for the Creator, the poems being images of the poet’s heart turning to God with “praise, prayer and profound devotion”. But such is its elemental power that even a non-believer is moved by the pure love of life embodied in them: the reverence, the simplicity, and the naturalness expressed in the appreciation of life in all its moods breaks the barrier of scepticism and fills us with what Yeats identifies as an “insidious sweetness”.

Yeats likens the poet’s voice to St. Francis and to William Blake. It is akin also, we may note, to that of G.M. Hopkins, who resembles Tagore in his fervent admiration in life of God’s “grandeur” and “glory” (cf. God’s Grandeur and Pied Beauty by Hopkins). Yet while the English poet professed the austerity of a Christian saint and was ridden with guilt for being a lover of God’s world, Gitanjali gives no inkling of any such feeling. It is instinct only with innocence and spontaneity that co-exist easily with profound thought and devotion.

As we “fight and make money and fill our head with politics”, and die a little each day Gitanjali promises to renew life in us and to give us the quiet peace of the soul that modern living has made difficult to attain.

 

Boost your spirit with cocoa nibs

Writing on chocolate | The HinduExcerpt:

Although I have been seeing nibs on menu cards for a while, I only took note of them when I tripped upon a bag at an intriguing coffee shop in Auroville. We were in the kitchen with Marc Tourmo, a Spaniard who relocated to India to start one of the country’s first new wave coffee shops in 1995. Determined to be at the helm of what he’s convinced will be a huge food trend, Marc’s been studying Indian cocoa nibs and their uses. He opens a bag and poured the fragrant, jagged little bits into my palm. “Eat this, and you’ll be in heaven,” he chuckles.

What are these mysterious nibs anyway? Well, they’re basically raw chocolate. The cacao bean goes through many stages of peeling, roasting and prepping before it’s ready to be turned into a bar of chocolate. Cocoa nibs are the final stage, before the addition of sugar, milk and flavourings. With a delicate crunchy texture, and a rich, earthy and slightly bitter taste, this the purest hit of chocolate you’ll find. Admittedly, it does take some getting used to. Mostly because our taste buds are trained to expect sweetness from cocoa.

To learn how to enjoy its intense flavour, you can start by sprinkling it over cookies, cakes and granola, so you get used to the flavour, while enjoying the familiar aroma. Then, experiment with incorporating it into regular recipes. Celebrity chef and food writer David Lebowitz makes his Banana Bread with three tablespoons of cocoa nibs, for added texture. His blog also lists recipes for ‘Shallot, Cocoa Nib, Beer and Prune Jam.’ Proving that nibs don’t necessarily have to go into desserts, he also uses them in his pizza, adding the nibs for what he calls a “nice savoury crunch, as well as a bit of chocolate flavour.”

An animated discussion on Chow Hound (the community for the food obsessed) is rife with suggestions on ways to use them — ranging from sprinkling them over brownies for a ‘grown up’ dessert to adding them to cereal, smoothies and ice cream. For people who just want the flavour, you can steep the nibs in panacotta, ice cream or custard and then strain out the pieces. Alternatively, use it as a rub when creating a marinade for meat.

Why bother? Well, if you’re a chocolate addict (and let’s face it, most of us are), this is a great way to get all the benefits of cocoa without the calories of sugar. According to FitDay, an online diet journal, one ounce of cocoa nibs has 130 calories, 13 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates and three grams of protein. They state that it’s “one of the best dietary sources of magnesium as well as a good source of calcium, iron, copper, zinc and potassium.” They add that these nibs also have higher antioxidant levels than blueberries, red wine and green tea.

Marc loves them for their abilities to boost your energy and spirits. (Cocoa is well-known for its ability to release endorphins.) He’s found an easy way to get his fix. “I roast the raw cocoa like peanuts in a pan, then peel the skin and take out the crunchy bean. I take a full date, and put the bean in it. It’s sweet, delicious and healthy. Since the market is still young, Marc’s only selling beans right now, so customers have to do the roasting and peeling themselves. “When you crush cocoa, it begins to oxidise very fast. So it’s safer to sell the bean whole. But it’s quick and easy to roast and peel,” he says, adding with a grin, “just like peanuts.”

(Marc’s cocoa beans cost about Rs. 360 for 250 grams and are available at auroville.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TREND – Book clutches are a good way to wear yourgeek on your sleeve

Accessories are tiny capsules of self-expression. That is their whole purpose; to do what the main outfit cannot. Clutches, that way, have become a good canvas. Jewellers such as Van Cleef & Arpels and luxury handbag designers such as Judith Leiber made famous the minaudieres, the small, beautiful things that are designed to contain smaller things that make you look beautiful but look like they won’t fit in a square of blotting paper. Lulu Guinness brought in the red lip clutch, and the more recent collaboration between Maison Martin Margiela and Swedish high-street giant H&M saw the delicious metallic candy clutches.

With geeky becoming fashionable — librarian glasses, laced up brogues, buttoned-to-the-chin shirts, et al — book clutches by accessory and ready-to-wear designer are suddenly everywhere. Cannes saw at least three versions — based on La Belle Bete by Marie Claire Blais, Tolstoy’s War And Peace , and This Is Jazz by Rudi Blesh — all designed by Paris-based accessory and ready-to-wear designer Olympis Le-Tan. The designer has become a go-to for her book clutches; there are those based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula , Flaubert’s Madame Bovary , Howard Coxe’s Passage To The Sky , and The Uncertain Trumpet by ASM Hutchinson.

BACK TO TRADITION Whole grain and high-fibre millets Photo: P. V. Sivakumar

What’s in your food? | The Hindu.

With lifestyle diseases so rampant today, shouldn’t we turn our attention to clean and safe eating practices, asks GEETA PADMANABHAN

Clean food is a simple concept; it’s what eating was always about, said Dr. David Katz, Director, Yale University Prevention Research Centre. “Food that’s clean is food that’s for the most part real, not encumbered with things that compromise health: artificial flavourings, artificial colourings, sugar substitutes.”

Eat locally-grown, organic food, says clean eating pioneer, chef Ric Orlando in his book We Want Clean Food. This food doesn’t need long commutes, so is less cruel on the environment. Look for natural chicken, sustainable seafood, grass-fed cow’s milk. Fry food with non-genetically modified oils.

Ingredient awareness

Clean eating is also seen as ingredient awareness. It is the antidote to the argument that population is increasing, land for growing food is shrinking; therefore walk into labs to “create” food, or “augment” food that is average in nutrients. So you have cornflakes with calcium, biscuits with protein, beverages with vitamins A-Z, bread with probiotics. We get packaged food with a list of ingredients we have no clue about. Books such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the documentary Food, Inc. and the wide coverage given to Michelle Obama’s healthy eating campaign (grow your own food, buy food at the local farmers’ markets) have tried to check this trend.

You can’t deny clean eating equals good health. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes have all been traced to what goes into what we eat. Ivy Larson, co-author of Clean Cuisine claims her multiple sclerosis symptoms were lessened when she went on a clean diet of whole foods and no packaged items. Start with one “clean” meal a day, she writes. Stock fruits and vegetables — even frozen ones — for a quick and safe meal. Buy food that has the shortest “ingredients” list.

Not a new thought

“Safe eating is a lifestyle, rather lifestyle correction,” is Ananthoo’s explanation. New age, non-communicable diseases are called lifestyle diseases (NCD). Safe eating is correcting one’s alienation and understanding of food and food habits. It is getting close to the production, processing and consumption of food. When you do that, you automatically set right your diet. Not a new thought at all, he points out. Full-length epic books were written about safe eating 3000 years ago. Ashtanga Hrudaya by Vaag Bhatt was one. Ayurveda has dincharyam, ritucharyam and diets for various ailments. Treatment and medication through food was tried by our civilisation long ago.

For forty-five minutes this self-health promoter shocked the audience at a Residents’ Association meet with details of what goes into the processed foods we buy, what is done to keep imported fruits fresh, how fruit/vegetable growers poison their produce to increase shelf life. “I once distributed magnifying glasses,” he said, “and asked the audience to read the ingredients list on packaged food. I try to bring a quick insight into food, diet habits and how industrialisation of food is spinning out of control.” Safe food is a win-win proposition, he said. “Your insistence on healthy nutritious food results in best production practices and better livelihoods for farmers.”

Eat traditional food, go organic, do what you can to consume safe food, was Anantha’s mantra to the crowd. High residues of toxic chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides are left over in the produce. More harm is added through additives, carcinogenic colours and un-named preservatives. “Both sugar and jaggery come from the same cane, but the process makes one harmful, the other safe.”

At the end of the meet, a complete meal of millet dishes — Saamai Kootanchoru, Thinai sweet (jaggery) pongal, Varagu sambar rice, Samai curd rice, Keerai masiyal and paanagam — was served by Nalla Keerai volunteers. Yummy!

DOS AND DON’TS
– Buy pesticide-free organic food in your locality.
– Understand the ingredients; reject food with ingredients you don’t understand.
– Avoid pre-processed/canned/frozen foods.
– Avoid refined products such as maida, sugar, refined oils/rice.
– Consume whole grains. Always opt for plant-based, low-fat food.
– Opt for traditional varieties of rice, eat them unpolished.
– Include millets (foxtail, kodo, barnyard, ragi) for balanced nutrition.
– Avoid all soft drinks. Go for fresh fruit juices and tender coconut water instead.
– Most toothpastes have nicotine and even SLS — a proven carcinogen. Move to herbal tooth powders and non-foaming pastes.
– Imported food stuff has genetically modified ingredients. Watch out!

Where’s your gift? | The Hindu.

Excerpt:

Young Hyderabadis are turning events such as weddings and birthdays into a platform for assisting charitable organisations.

You know how a lot of wedding invites come bearing a ‘No gifts please’ tag at the bottom? That seems to be changing these days. A lot of socially conscious youngsters would rather use the special occasion — be it a wedding, a birthday or an anniversary, as an opportunity to do their bit for society, while also encouraging their family and friends to chip in. Take for instance Harshvardhan and Varsha Khemani. When the couple decided to tie the knot, they decided to do things a little differently. Instead of dissuading their guests from giving them gifts, they encouraged their friends and cousins to donate to two NGOs that they closely work with.

However, charity is not only about monetary donations for these socially aware youngsters. Organ donation too tops their list of causes. According to Lalita Raghuram, country director, Mohan Foundation, which works towards organ donation, they have received several requests by youngsters to be enrolled as organ donors. “We have had a lot of young people come forth to pledge their organs on birthdays and New Year. In the recent past we have also had people invite us to be a part of celebrations like weddings or first birthdays. Only 10 days ago we were invited to set up a kiosk at a couple’s wedding. We managed to enrol several organ donors at the event. On another occasion a couple approached us to speak to their guests at their child’s first birthday. By the end of the evening we had nearly 200 new organ donors,” she explains.

Wider awareness can go a long way in inspiring more youngsters to go that extra mile to do their bit for society.

‘Artistic labour is power’

‘Artistic labour is power’ – The Hindu.

Prasanna always had a rebellious streak. He quit IIT to pursue his passion for theatre. Inspired and initiated into theatre by B.V. Karanth, Prasanna joined the National School Drama (NSD). During the Emergency, he returned to Karnataka and founded Samudaya, a radical theatre movement for workers and masses. They staged street plays, protest plays and propagated their political thought in villages. For a while he was a visiting faculty at NSD. For a couple of years, he worked for an independent television company in New Delhi. He gave this up and left the capital.

That was a phase when Prasanna was disenchanted with theatre and almost gave up on his passion. The man who created noted stage productions like Tughlaq , Gandhi , Thai , Neele Ghode , Ek Lok Katha , Shakuntalam , The Ascent of Fujiyama moved to Heggodu, a small village in Karnataka. Here, he started Charaka, a multi-purpose women’s cooperative, while occasionally writing and sometimes dabbling in direction and teaching. A Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, Prasanna is currently a Tagore Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Prasanna recently released his book Indian Method in Acting at the Kulasekhara Theatre Festival in Kochi and talked about theatre, activism, Charaka and more. Excerpts from the interview.

Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

The state of regional theatre today…

There is a huge crisis, what I call machine-induced culture, where cinema and television have taken over entertainment. For the common man, this is theatre. We now have a huge number of artistes and audiences watching television and cinema instead of theatre. The participatory element of theatre is gone. Theatre has also become technology-driven. The actor has slipped into the background.

Is there a deep divide between urban and rural theatre?

People’s theatre is dying because of impoverishment in the villages. Gradually we have been seeing performances in the villages reducing, in small towns too. In the 1940s and 1950s there was this attempt to revive and keep it alive through the Indian People’s Theatre Movement and the like. They went to the people, connected with them and theatre returned. Then in the 1970s and 1980s Habib Tanvir and B.V. Karanth tried. But the situation is still bleak.

How did Charaka, the women’s cooperative, happen?

At times you tend to become inarticulate because of anger and frustration. I lost faith in the arts. When I left Delhi and NSD, I knew I was going to almost quit theatre too. Those were difficult times; I was confused, angry, frustrated. Charaka made me cool down and look at life positively. I have not given up theatre but now I do it on my terms, from Heggodu with either the villagers or someone who wants me to teach or direct.

Intellectual, spiritual or artistic labour is not labour but a power. People in villages tend to leave in search of better pastures. I tried to stop this. Charaka is engaged in producing naturally dyed cotton handloom garments, marketing it under the brand name “Desi”. It is a self-sufficient cooperative in the sense that once raw yarn is purchased, everything else happens in-house. The workers are their own paymasters here and earn handsomely. We have 11 Desi retail outlets across Karnataka. The demand for the products is so high that we cannot start any new outlets. Desi has been very successful, beyond my dreams.

How tough was this initiative for a theatre activist?

Initially there was a lot of resistance. Groups tried to stop me from doing this because I had this Marxist tag. But it was a learning experience. I learned that, in a village, you cannot be a “red rag.” You cannot be branded. A whole lot of changes happened in me ideologically. I still believe in socialism, but I don’t believe in pushing angrily for it.

Fraying threads – The Hindu.

In Pochampalli, none of the sons of the late National awardee Chiluveru Ramalingam, who wove Telia Rumal products, have taken up weaving as their profession. All have chosen alternative professions to weaving as they have seen their father’s struggle for economic stability.

The last stronghold of Telia Rumal production, Puttapaka village still has few practitioners who are mainly youngsters who have undergone training in Telia Rumal process through government training programmes.

Today, the Telia Rumal survives in miniscule pockets in few villages that one can count on one’s hand in Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh. One by one our rich textile traditions are dying out and soon they will be only a figment of memory and part of museum collections. The story of the Telia Rumal of Andhra Pradesh is symptomatic of the fate of the dying textile traditions of our country.

Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

A recent visit to Koyyalagudem village in Andhra Pradesh, one of the known production centres of the exquisite and nearly extinct Telia Rumal, presented only a grim picture of the future of the Telia Rumal. Older weavers dimly recalled having once woven Telia Rumals once upon a time. The younger weavers, in turn, had only heard of the older weavers having woven them and many had not even seen a Telia Rumal.

The stunning Telia Rumal was initially woven mainly in Chirala in Andhra Pradesh in the 19th and 20th centuries primarily as a trade cloth for export to Arab countries where the square 44 inch by 44 inch oil processed cloth was in much demand. Locally, it catered to fishermen and agricultural labourers who wore it, as it kept them warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. It was also woven as sarees and dupattas which were further embellished with embroidery by the niche women clientele of Hyderabad.

One of the most intricate double ikats, Telia Rumal is characterised by a special yarn preparation process which gives its unique character. The preparation of the yarn before the dyeing process involves the treatment of the yarn with sheep dung, castor pod ashes and sesame oil over a month. At the end of the process the yarn has a slight oil smell and sheen which gives its name “Telia Rumal”.

Weavers have shifted to non-weaving occupations due to low remuneration associated with weaving, increasing availability of steady income jobs in Hyderabad such as security guards at malls, ATM centres etc., and changing aspirations. The younger generation in weavers’ families does not want to be involved with weaving. Many are educated and have well paying jobs.

Given this scenario, production is limited, and only due to the persistence of Padmashri Gajam Goverdhan of Murli Saree Emporium in Hyderabad, that limited but continuous production of Telia Rumal sarees continues to this day. Sarees continue to be produced not merely of the traditional Telia Rumal design repertoire but from the modern design repertoire of the Viswakarma exhibitions of Festivals of India. Despite a sustainable niche market demand, there is a highly limited supply which has been made possible by private entrepreneurship, fashion designers, and limited State government support.

Telia Rumal’s re-invention as a significant textile heritage item within the country, is a post-Independence phenomenon, mainly due to the successive government interventions. The building of the brand “Telia Rumal” products has not occurred which in turn, has not created a brand image and new markets.

Due to its limited production for niche markets, it is not commonly available in shops and boutiques. As a result, today’s younger generation is not aware of this textile heritage and there is absence of demand for Telia Rumal products.

Outsiders having been fed upon a rich diet of textile books about the glorious textile traditions of our country wander into the villages hoping to see and buy one of the pieces. But sadly, neither is there the production of the original Telia Rumal, nor there is enough production of the Telia Rumal products for them to buy and appreciate the intricate weave and stunning designs. In an era, where the young generation within India and overseas is discovering its rich textile tradition, and where there is the possibility of an increasing niche market for expensive niche products, it is ironic, that instead of a revival, the Telia Rumal appears to be on its way out. Would its future lay in being a studio product and practiced by professional designers?

Translating or transcending – The Hindu.

We are a polyglot nation, and we have knowledge of at least two languages: we have a mother tongue and a language in which we have been educated at school and college, which is often different from the mother tongue. Often this second is English. Every language you learn has its own sensibilities and its own idiom. It has its own registers, value systems, class distinctions and levels of the acceptable and the unacceptable. Each language that we know sensitises us differently to different things, and develops in us different personalities with different sensibilities.

Each time we switch to another language, we subtly shift to being another person. Our gestures and facial expressions also alter accordingly. A language is not simply about words and sentences, it is also about pauses, emphasis, intonation, cadence, pitch, silences; the appropriate use of these in sentences and words is what creates the meaning of what we say, and conveys nuances.

In translation of texts, the non-verbal aspects of language are hidden until the text reaches the reader. But to get the text to reach the reader in a way that the reader interprets the semantic signals to create the same meaning is the job of the translator. A translator of literary texts especially has to be acutely conscious of the different personalities he/she has developed in different languages. The moment of translation is the moment when the translator’s two personalities in two different languages are in dialogue with each other. It is the moment of interlocution between the two personalities of the same person. Only then can the eternal argument of ‘faithful’ and ‘beautiful’ be resolved in translation, because it is then transcended, and we reach another level of understanding about translations. Faithful and beautiful are no longer opposed to each other and are no longer even players.

In the knowing of another tongue, which maybe indigenous or foreign, in therefore developing of an alternate personality, we create space for the understanding of Another. Translation, comparative literature and writing in a second language all constantly pose the question of rapports with Another.

If we take as a preliminary truth that all societies are based on some Universal Human Values, it becomes extremely limiting. We then narrow ourselves down and choose texts and subjects that we feel represent those universal values which we understand also as our own. In such a case we close doors to understanding the Other. The Other cannot be Another unless he/she has Otherness. If we do not acknowledge the otherness of the other, if we think we know their truths already, then we close our minds and do not go out in search of their otherness. In such a case in translation we are actually just searching for mirror images of our own selves and we are not transcending ourselves or the texts. What would be the value of translation when we do not want to know why someone/something represents or IS another?

Translation and work between languages also fulfils the ambassadorial function of creating empathy and understanding between cultures, but only when we are ready to acknowledge and value the differences, (Otherness) to accept them for what they are, to see how these very differences enrich and strengthen societies.

Repository of memories – The Hindu.

When we revisit favourite songs, books and movies we encounter our earlier selves and experiences.

That episode set me thinking of the role art plays in our lives. As we age, our favourite songs, books and movies become a repository of our memories. When we revisit them, we encounter our earlier selves, the people we knew then, the experiences that shaped us… Since I have spent a good part of my life with books, I have several memories stashed away in them.

When I began the book, I would often speak to my grandfather about it. He hadn’t read it, but the movie was one of his favourites. I remember how he kept referring to Scarlett as Vivien Leigh and to Rhett as Clark Gable. He wanted me to enlighten him about the parts of the book that were edited out of the movie version. As the months passed, however, we stopped talking as tuberculosis took possession of his body. He was bedridden for several months before he died. By the end, he was unable to speak or comprehend, and barely had any flesh on his bones. To this day I retain some of the horror of watching the life seep out of him. You don’t really know death until it happens to a loved one, and there is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the experience. ( reminds of my GF )

A character in the Argentinean movie classic The Secret in Their Eyes says: “Memories are all we end up with. At least pick the nice ones.”