Tag Archive: inspiring


Plants …urban jungle and auroville

https://stanflouride.com/2016/11/26/nasa-guide-to-air-filtering-houseplants 

Interesting site about houseplants,greenhouses and interiors – https://www.haarkon.co.uk/explore-blog/

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/heaven-in-the-eyes-of-the-beholder/article19706338.ece
“My biggest inspiration is my life in Auroville,” she says, over a Skype call from the experimental township where she lives and works. The rolling landscapes and unfettered spirit of Auroville are her muse. “Her untamed wilderness often hits my heart. And I always work spontaneously following a mood in my heart.”
Much of her latest collection, “…so many heavens…”, which will open at the Centre d’Arts Citadines, Auroville on September 16, is a paean to Auroville. “We had a bad monsoon last year and lands were starving for water,” she remembers. Her work at that time was dark, “shades of brown and bronze, with pools of blue,” to symbolise “this longing for water”.
Then there would be one shower and in two days, star-like wild jasmines would light up the gritty dryness. “It was glorious; this alternation between seeming death followed by abundance and optimism. And this would make me weep that we are surrounded by so many heavens… each a universe in itself.  “We all carry seeds, many different kinds of seeds,” says Sundaravalli. But like a plant, it needs the right environment to blossom, she smiles.  

Research – http://www.sacar.in/index.php

Doctors For You

Drs Chandani & Anushree Maheshwari, sisters originally from New Delhi, first came to assist us with our relief operations in Uttarakhand. Both sisters travelled unaccompanied by any senior faculty, to Uttarakhand and commenced their work in collaboration with our partners. For over a week, they braved inhospitable and unfamiliar terrain to attend to ailing patients. To visit the more distant villages, there were some days they had to travel over 6-7 km, but even this didn’t deter them. Our senior staff had nothing but the highest praise for these sisters, their dedication and medical expertise.

We commend them for their commitment to the DFY vision, and can only hope they have inspired the youth of our country to come forward and volunteer too.

Drs Chandani & Anushree MaheshwariA big thank you from the DFY family, for your time, and for the lives you’ve touched.

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The shake

Embrace the shake

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pipteinpteron

An artist discovered he could no longer make pointillistic work: instead of nice dots he drew strokes, like those violent, elongated raindrops that strike and hurt your face. When he found his hand trembling he’d used more and more force and the result was a neurological condition called a tremor. He went to see a neurologist and was told he had permanent nerve damage. That hurt. He only ever wanted to become an artist and now he couldn’t draw a straight line or a round dot.

What should he do? Try and learn to draw with his other hand? Get medication to numb the effect? Start all over again and study something different? The neurologist had some advice:

“Embrace the shake.”

You can find the whole story on TED, illustrated with drawings and other works of art. I’d like to look at the advice to embrace his condition…

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The real India – Happy Independence Day

indophilia:Old Delhi Haveli series taken by Lana Šlezić  afp-photo:INDIA, Allahabad : Young Indian commuters sit inside a crowded train compartment at Allahabad junction in Allahabad on June 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / SANJAY KANOJIAthetreesthatsing:Varanasi Ganges Life - Sylvain Brajeul Copyright-35 by Sylvain Brajeul on Flickr.deedeemo:family portrait - Indiadi CF Photographyle-vicieux:Mumbai, India, 2011 (by marc_guitard)randomthoughtsandminealwaysare:I would love to know her story…..porteryates:Spot of Colormy-spirits-aroma-or: An Odisha girl devotee shows her skills in the name of god.Vinay photographyrachelcarbonell:Jodhpur, Rajasthan, (India) 2012 © Rachel Carbonelloochappan:முகபாவம் • Kodikulambengalimonster:An invitation by Catch the dream on Flickr.cud learn so much from her smile - be happy despite whateverstevemccurry:Indiaammiephotographie:#mother feeding her #son in front of the red fort of #Agra #India #blackandwhite #blackandwhitephoto #blackandwhitephotography#streetbwphotographyweek:Sadhu by Mohan Duwal“In Hinduism, a sadhu is a wandering monk. As a sadhu, this man has renounced a ‘normal’ life to focus on pursuing his spirituality.”View more of Mohan’s photography on 500px.Image copyright Mohan Duwal and used with permission.––See the world’s most inspirational images every Thursday in Photography Week. Get five free issues today, risk-free, at http://bit.ly/RHzJmNendilletante:Varanasi, India by Benjamin Ettinger on Flickr.apple-jack5:photographer Steve McCurry
Varun Bhatt, a young artist of slum Jhuggi Jhopri. 

The courage of love

Photo: Vipin Chandran

The courage of love – The Hindu.

Social reformer and scholar Asghar Ali Engineer devoted most of his adult life heroically fighting not one but three battles. The first was against religious hatred and violence, for promoting peace and harmony among people of diverse faiths. The second was a painfully lonely lifelong struggle against the oppression of the leader of the Bohra sect into which he was born. And a third was to reclaim ideas of a humane, peaceful, tolerant, and gender-just Islam.

Over many decades, in times of strife and mass violence, his voice steadied us with its compassion and reason. For his beliefs, Engineer routinely suffered death threats, deathly attacks and social boycott. Yet he never wavered. In the years I was privileged to know him, I never heard a word of personal rancour or bitterness. With the passing of this man of extraordinary humanity, dignity, learning and courage of convictions, the country is much poorer.

Engineer inherited a long tradition of social reformers in India — which latterly includes also Gandhi and Maulana Azad — who were simultaneously deeply religious and deeply secular, and saw no contradiction between these two. Instead, Engineer believed that true religion could never teach you hatred, prejudice or violence against people of other faiths.

……………..Another influence was his encounter with Marxist writings, which moved him profoundly. He struggled to reconcile his new Marxist convictions with his religious faith, and found solace in poet Iqbal’s words that socialism along with God makes Islam. He concluded that it was not necessary to be an atheist to be a Marxist, and both Marx and his religious beliefs nourished his values of justice, equality and compassion for the suffering of others. Engineer’s interpretations of Islam, in over 70 books which he wrote, and his life-long practice, represent a creative construction of liberation theology in Indian Islam.

…………………………..The next major riots after Jabalpur were in Ahmedabad in 1969, from where he reported gruesome brutalities. The next year, Bhiwandi burned. Engineer took leave from the Bombay Municipal Corporation, and his friend, actor Balraj Sahni, from films, to spend 15 days in the May heat together touring Bhiwandi town and the countryside appealing for peace. They were devastated by the violence they saw in many villages, in which isolated Muslim families were killed and their bodies thrown into wells. Back in Bombay, actors and poets joined him in appeals for peace. This remained a recurring motif of Engineer’s life right until his death. I doubt if there is another like him, who tirelessly visited every site of communal violence in free India, to tell its story and to appeal for peace.

The second battle which consumed him was against the despotic tyranny of the high priest of the Bohras, the Syedna, who exercises absolute authority over all Bohras in religious as well as secular matters. The Syedna retaliated against Engineer’s calls for reform by declaring him a social pariah, commanding all Bohras to socially boycott him. He was barred even from attending the weddings or funerals of his closest friends or relatives. Even his mother, who could not bear to be cut off from her siblings, relatives and friends, finally moved into a separate house he bought for her and met him only in secret.

He was also assaulted half a dozen times; his face was once slashed, and his house looted and ransacked, including his beloved books. Even in his death, he was an exile: denied a resting place in the Bohra burial grounds. He was buried in a Sunni graveyard.

He spoke to me once about the loneliness of this cruel, lifelong boycott by his extended family and community. He regretted also that none of the country’s political leaders openly sided with his battle for fear of alienating the powerful Syedna. This could well have felled a lesser man. But not Engineer.

In his autobiography, Engineer quoted poet Rumi: “A heart without love is nothing but a handful of dust.” Engineer’s life was one devoted above all to the pursuit of love. Like the Sufis, he derived from his love for God the brave love of all humanity.

 

A lake comes to life – The Hindu. Excerpt

Thousands of ordinary citizens pitching in to revive a 320-acre lake.

It feels like a carnival at Ukkadam, home to the Periyakulam Lake. It is the final Sunday of volunteering, as the monsoons are expected any time now. School children are shrill with excitement, college students jump out of buses laughing and shouting out greetings; picnic umbrellas dot the area. The CRPF, the police and people from the Armed Forces work together in precision, as if performing a drill. Three hundred NCC cadets take up position. A large group of employees from a cement factory talk animatedly, while nearby, the entire team from a Tamil daily has shown up. “Instead of being only the observers who write about events, we unanimously decided to pitch in with volunteer work,” says one of them.

…………….Mud is shovelled into shallow metal and plastic basins (in blue, green and red) and passed from hand to hand. Snatches of IPL talk and loud instructions fill the air. Musicians join the fun. The murasu, melam and thapattam set the pace, and as they vary their pace, from slow to brisk, the tempo of work also increases. There is clapping and dancing. When they are not digging, people are taking pictures on their smart phones. Tempo travellers carrying tea, coffee, biscuits and buttermilk serve free food to the volunteers. Coimbatore’s famous Annapoorna has sponsored upma, khichdi and sweets for everyone.

Periyakulam used to be one of Coimbatore’s biggest lakes – spanning 320 acres, with a catchment area of 63 sq km — but it was gradually asphyxiated by water hyacinth, raw sewage and garbage till it became mere shimmers of water in a sprawling, muddy area, with orange specks interrupting the brown expanse. Last year, Siruthuli, the NGO dealing with water bodies in Coimbatore, took up the matter with the Government. The permit to work on the lake came through at the end of April and on May 1, the de-silting operations began under the direction of Coimbatore Corporation, Siruthuli, Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC) and the Vijayalakshmi Charitable Trust. Corporates have also pitched in. And the people of Coimbatore have showed up every Sunday to lend a hand.

In a little over a month the landscape has changed. Where there was once just garbage and undergrowth, there is now clean and scrub-free ground. Round-the-clock work has cleared the humongous mess and made way for bunds. Five Poclain earth movers swing, dip, scoop and dump vast quantities of soil from one place to another. More than 8000 volunteers pour onto the bed of the lake and imitate those actions. Forming a human chain, they bend, scoop, pass and throw pots filled with soil on to a growing mound that is part of a 20-ft wide, six-and-a-half kilometre long bund around the lake. Four islands have been painstakingly created at the centre of the dry lake. Saplings will be planted on them and along the bund. Seventy per cent of the work is complete.The rejuvenated Mookaneri Lake in Salem. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

………………Why do they do it? “I know machines can do the same job we are doing and more efficiently, but the personal satisfaction we get is unmatched,” says N. Thulasidas, vice-president of the Indian National Cement Worker’s Federation, who has come with a 52-strong team. “We came prepared for more than just two hours of work. When people come together for a cause such as this, it will definitely succeed. We hope we will soon be able to boat on this lake.”

Lalit Mahesh, who has just graduated from school, has come here with friends from Pollachi. He says, “People can do what earthmovers cannot. They can inspire. To see the work happening firsthand is very satisfying.” Lalit is well aware of the water situation in Tamil Nadu and the world. “Tamil Nadu faces an 11 per cent water deficit,” he says. “By 2045, that deficit will increase dramatically. Already, one person out of three in the world has no access to potable water.”

For 51-year-old B. Ganesh, the lake represents livelihood. It provided his daily catch for 18 years. But it became progressively difficult for him and his fellow fishermen to eke out a living. “The lake used to be so beautiful in the mornings when I set out with my friends for my daily catch. We used to enjoy drinking the fresh water that was available in plenty even a decade ago.” The fishermen have volunteered with clean-up efforts in the past, and they welcome this drive wholeheartedly as well.

Coimbatore shows up: Volunteers included the CRPF, RAF, students, senior citizens and even newly weds. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

Volunteers included the CRPF, RAF, students, senior citizens and even newly weds.

M. Lukman, a fruit vendor, has spent all his life near the lake. “It teemed with birds, and the greenery and water made it look like something out of an English travel channel,” he says. He hopes this initiative will improve the plight of other wetlands as well, as the livelihood of several fishermen has been severely affected. “Plenty more needs to be done, but I have faith that the lake will be restored to its original glory.”

Many people share this belief. What is happening at Periyakulam is more than just physical shramdaan , or donation of labour, as R. Raveendran of RAAC says. “When the lake comes alive, we will know we had something to do with it. This ownership will ensure that we will never let it come to such a pass again.”

‘It was not urban, or cool, or sexy’ – The HinduExcerpt from an Interview

  Indonesian author Andrea Hirata never dreamt that his debut novel would continue to make waves years after it was first published.

 

   In Indonesia, merely mentioning the name Andrea Hirata seems to transform everyone, from posh society ladies to taxi drivers, into shiny-eyed eulogists.

 ……….Hirata is certainly “nice,” but his greater claim to fame is as the best selling writer of all time in Indonesia, and the only one in recent history to enjoy international success. His 2005 debut novel, Laskar Pelangi (the Rainbow Troops ) has sold over five million copies and was made into a much-awarded movie in 2008, which became the biggest ever box office-hit in the country. Translated into 21 languages, the book is now available in 87 countries, including India.

The unassuming man, sitting in front of me sipping green tea, is thus responsible for having transformed Indonesia’s literary scene. His success has given succour to struggling local publishing houses and hope to other aspiring writers who have long been ignored by the wider world.  But even after seven years of triumph and acclaim, Hirata appears genuinely surprised by the literary twist his life — he was formerly a financial analyst for a telecommunications company — has taken. The Indonesian writer’s personal story — the early years of which form the basis for the autobiographical The Rainbow Troops — has the fairy-tale bookends of rags and riches, and is littered with inspirational characters and unexpected pivots.

Hirata was born in an obscure village on an island called Belitong, off the east coast of Sumatra. His family worked as labourers for the state-owned tin mining company that ruled the local roost and were too poor to send him to any school, save a free one, run by an Islamic charity. This school lacked even a toilet and its roof had leaks so large that students studied under umbrellas on rainy days. But it was here that Hirata became a member of the Rainbow Troops, a group of impoverished young village boys (and one girl) who were introduced to the pleasures of education by two dedicated teachers: the veteran Pak Harfan and the 15-year-old Ibu Muslimah.

Unlike his other classmates, most of whom never made it past elementary school, a combination of hard work and luck saw Hirata escape the poverty he was born into. He made it to university where he studied economics. A European Union scholarship led to further opportunities for study in France and the U.K.By 2005, Andrea was living in the city of Bandung, having made good with a middle-level job at a telecommunications company. He was largely satisfied with the direction of his life. But, then one day he heard from a former classmate that his teacher, the inspirational Ibu Muslimah, was very sick and childhood memories came flooding back. Amongst these was a promise that he’d made to his teacher as a fifth-grader, to one day write a book dedicated to her.Hirata began writing that very night and “before I knew it” he had 600 pages worth of memories down on paper. Bentang, an obscure publishing house on the brink of closure, decided to publish the manuscript. The editor liked the story, although he doubted it would sell.

“It was not urban, or cool, or sexy,” explains Hirata, “but about a 15-year-old teacher, the kind of students who had to cycle 80 kilometres every day, to make it to school and set in a place that no one could identify on a map.” For the publishers, the project was meant as a last hurrah. Their previous book, an Indonesian translation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood , had sold a sum total of 500 copies.

Two weeks after the initial 2,000 copy print run of The Rainbow Troops was in bookstores, Hirata received a late-night call from his editor. Against every expectation, the book had sold out. “That was the moment that my life changed forever,” he smiles. Another 2,000 copies sold out within a week. And on it went; the book a seemingly unstoppable force.

The Rainbow Troops is written simply with a straight-from-the-heart feel. As a result it is unpolished in places, but the rough edges almost enhance its emotional appeal. There are several important social and political themes that infuse its narrative but the book carries them lightly, never descending into the pedantic.These themes have a particular resonance for a country like India dealing as they do with a gamut of familiar issues from inequality and corporate rapaciousness, to diversity and syncretism. Hirata writes most touchingly about hope even in the midst of poverty and the tragedy of wasted talent.

The book’s most compelling character is the brilliant Lintang, the son of an illiterate fisherman whose passion for education sees him cycling an 80 kilometre-round trip journey to school every day, past crocodile-infested swamps. Despite his obvious mathematical genius, Lintang is forced to give up his education and take over the role as his family’s breadwinner when his father dies in an accident.

I ask Hirata what had become of Lintang in later life. He sighs, “Lintang is a truck driver. He was a genius, but this is life. This is life.”

Lintang’s story may not end on a happy note, but Hirata’s success has changed the fortunes of many others for the better. His once-nearly-bankrupt publishing company is now flourishing. His teacher, the indomitable Ibu Muslimah, has been awarded one of the Indonesian state’s highest honours for her service to education. As for the village of Belitong, the number of tourists visiting the place shot up by 1,800 per cent the year after the movie based on Hirata’s book was released in 2008.

Since The Rainbow Troops , Hirata has written several more novels, including three sequels to his debut. But it was only in 2011 that he finally quit his job as financial analyst to become a full-time writer. “It took me six novels before I felt confident of my voice as a writer,” he says earnestly and takes another sip of his tea.

The simple , pure life

inspiring

http://www.rd-india.com/newsite/other/facetoface_dec10.asp   My philosophy in life is simple: If doing something makes you worried, then it must be a wrong thing. If it makes you happy, then you must have done the right thing. What others say is not important,” says Chen. She is content with what she has and feels that as long as she lives a life she wishes for and does the things she wants, “that is good enough.”  Has business improved after winning the award? “Business is as usual,” Chen says. “I still need to sell my vegetables, not much has changed.” Advertisers have approached her to film commercials, financial managers have offered to manage her finances and other well-wishers have offered to donate money. Chen rejects these advances politely. “It is easy to return borrowed money, but difficult to return a favour,” she says.
“I have to be very careful in handling money matters,” she adds. Even when customers tip her, she refuses to accept any of it. “Buying from my stall is already a form of support,” she explains.

https://i0.wp.com/www.rdasia.com/files/sg-en/attachments/pictures/4836.jpg

Chen’s ability to give away such large sums of money has led many to ask, How can a mere vegetable seller earn so much?
“Spend only what you need, and you’ll be able to save a lot!” says Chen. Since 1996, she has been donating NT$36,000 to help three children in the Kids Alive International organization. To achieve this, Chen explains that she empties her loose change into three little cardboard boxes at home every night. “This is a simple act that can be done by anyone, isn’t it?” she says.
Chen leads a very simple life without any luxuries. Neither does she have any desire for material gains or any form of enjoyment. Work, she says, is her enjoyment. “I love my work. If I didn’t, would I be able to work 16 hours a day?”
All she needs is food and a place to sleep. Everything else is a luxury. She does not buy expensive clothes. “I do not socialize much, hence there is no need for beautiful clothes. The clothes from the roadside stalls are good enough for me, and even then, I like to bargain.” Her daily meals cost little: a vegetarian rice dish and a bowl of noodles. Freeze whatever cannot be finished, buy a can of gluten and add that to the rice with some hot water. “This becomes porridge and is very tasty,” says Chen.
She also sleeps on the hard floor, a habit from her younger days when she first started working at the vegetable stall. The comfort of her warm bed made getting up early to go to the wholesaler very difficult, especially during the cold winter months. Hence Chen made up her mind to sleep on the cold floor, where she would not run the risk of being late.

“I have done nothing extraordinary and everyone who wants to can do it. There are many other charitable people; we just don’t know about them.” Chen, who is unmarried, adds, “I do not place great importance on money. When I donate to help others, I feel at peace, I’m  happy, and I can sleep well at night.” She also feels for the poor, having experienced hardship in her younger days.

After the morning hustle and bustle, the atmosphere at Central Market in Taiwan’s Taitung county quietens as every stall shuts for the day and the owners return to the comfort of their homes. A lone lamp shines on a vegetable stall. With head bowed, Chen Shu-Chu, who turns 60 this month, silently sorts vegetables as she waits for the occasional afternoon customer. Decades of hard work has caused the fingers on her right hands to look gnarled, its joints swollen; her feet are slightly deformed.
Chen has a daily routine—waking up at 3am, she makes her way to the vegetable wholesaler and sets up her stall, which she tends till seven or eight in the evening. The first to arrive in the dark, damp market and the last to leave, other stall-owners have fondly nicknamed her ‘market manager.’
Chen holds the stall her father left her dearly. Yuan-Jin Vegetables is her everything. Selling at “a bundle for 30 dollars*, three bundles for 50,” Chen earns only marginal profits. Yet, her frugality has allowed her to donate about NT$10 million (nearly Rs1.5 crore) towards various charitable causes, including helping schools, orphanages and poor children.

http://www.thequietman.org/?p=79

Luis Barragán

Escalera
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Architecture Pritzker Prize: Luis Barragán’s Acceptance Speech

It is alarming that publications devoted to architecture have banished from their pages the words Beauty, Inspiration, Magic, Spellbound, Enchantment, as well as the concepts of Serenity, Silence, Intimacy and Amazement. All these have nestled in my soul, and though I am fully aware that I have not done them complete justice in my work, they have never ceased to be my guiding lights.

“It is impossible to understand Art and the glory of its history without avowing religious spirituality and the mythical roots that lead us to the very reason of being of the artistic phenomenon. Without the one or the other there would be no Egyptian pyramids nor those of ancient Mexico. Would the Greek temples and Gothic cathedrals have existed? Would the amazing marvels of the Renaissance and the Baroque have come about? …”

“In the gardens and homes designed by me, I have always endeavored to allow for the interior placid murmur of silence, and in my fountains, silence sings.”

“Only in intimate communion with solitude may man find himself. Solitude is good company and my architecture is not for those who fear or shun it.”

“Serenity is the great and true antidote against anguish and fear, and today, more than ever, it is the architect’s duty to make of it a permanent guest in the home, no matter how sumptuous or how humble. Throughout my work I have always strived to achieve serenity, but one must be on guard not to destroy it by the use of an indiscriminate palette.”

“The certainty of death is the spring of action and therefore of life, and in the implicit religious element in the work of art, life triumphs over death. ”

“It is essential to an architect to know how to see: I mean, to see in such a way that the vision is not overpowered by rational analysis. … And it may not be out of place to quote another great friend of mine and of the Arts, the poet Carlos Pellicer: Through sight the good and the bad / we do perceive / Unseeing eyes / Souls deprived of hope.”