Reading, Listening & Living

The great thing about reading, or perhaps even listening, is that you get exposed to different ideas, people, cultures and language styles.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a popular and beautiful story that appears to show the reader that unlimited powers are available to her, if she wills it.

Dan Brown‘s The Da Vinci Code while giving the reader puzzles to solve also brings the divine close enough to touch physically, or so it seems.

Reading or listening to Jiddu Krishnamurti can draw the listener from the mundane to the stillness deep within him.

The Courage to be disliked: How to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness by Ichiro Kishimi has a very long title that tends to turn people off, yet the book contains powerful ideas that have gained following, especially in Asia.

But we should not be surprised when Paulo Coelho’s second (or third) book does not uplift us or if we have trouble completing it; nor if Brown becomes boring or if after a very still and peaceful evening, we wake up to find that we are struggling with the mundane again. Now you may decide to open The Daily Stoic…., by Ryan Holiday which has a meditation for everyday or remember (as Coelho says) to fight the good fight.

The hidden hazard in being an avid reader, or listener is that if you like an idea a lot, you risk being led by the author to places you may not like. It starts with liking ideas from an author, and saying yes to them all, so that you forget that you still have the power to say no. It is important to remain in touch with your own feelings so that you can quickly turn back whenever you notice that you are at the wrong place.

Better to regain faith in oneself and to avoid leaning for support on the author, who is herself on a journey of search and discovery through life. This journey is one of struggle that changes most, if not all.

We struggle at work, on the road and perhaps also at home. Some of us may struggle on the battlefield at national borders. Notice that often this struggle is for (or against) ideas, people and cultures. These are the kind of things that we are exposed to when we read and listen. When we read, we are receptive to the idea, the person and the culture. The challenge is to remain positive during the daily struggle, as during the reading.

Positions of Weakness and Strength

When you want something too much, the first thing you are prepared to give up are your principles, even though you may have held these principles for a long time. The USA badly want the troops out of Afghanistan.

US wants to strike deal with the Taliban

But when the other party finds out how desperate you are, they will punish you and charge you for it. So there are bombings even when you are talking peace. The other side knows that they have you in a tight place.

Trump’s withdrawal from Afghanistan ignores a dangerous threat

Why Afghanistan is more dangerous than ever

Taliban bomb Kabul even as peace talks are on

What India is attempting in such times is perhaps the best way ahead. India is trying to hold, consolidate and strengthen what she has rather than let things drift out of any semblance of order. It is high time too, especially with the US deciding to leave the neighborhood in a worse state than it was when they walked in first.

Beware.. the Jungle-1

Beware the Jungle

As the sun rises, the jungle is visible to the north of the blue river which flows out quick and smooth through the brown hills in the east. South of the river, a highway runs east west that leads to big cities on either side, the one on the east being closer while the one on the west is bigger. There is a small town, not far from the highway. Half the people in the town are farmers while the other half are workers and traders. Most farmers grow grain and much of it cannot be consumed in the town. This goes via the highway to the big cities.

There are hair-raising stories about the jungle and it is generally felt that anyone who goes there doesn’t return.

Hair-raising stories

Most traders bring stuff from the big city in the west to sell it in the town. The grain from the town is sold in both the big cities.

Sid

Sid has been working for some of the traders by transporting grain from the town and fruit to the town. He knows first hand that the highway is narrow and choked with traffic between the two big cities. He would like to break into trading himself, which should not be a problem as he has been doing the deals at both the buyer and seller ends. The challenge is that the margins are rather narrow. Also the fruit bought at the cities are not very fresh by the time they are unloaded at the town.

Then Sid has an idea. This makes it easier to transport fruit and grain to the selling points at the cities and the town.

What is Sid’s idea? What can he think of that would make it easier and more profitable to trade and also bring fresher fruit to the town? Can you guess?

(To be continued…)

The Importance of Bluster

The livable landmasses in today’s world are choked and even the seaways are extremely busy. Even as the members of NATO are not as well bonded together as they used to be in the last decade; China has been increasing in power and influence for a few decades now. New alliances may form as Russia sidles closer to China; North Korea and Pakistan, besides several countries of the African continent also look more towards Beijing for leadership. The political developments in the US in the last few years have led to a situation where a show of strength as well as a display of willingness to engage in combat has become essential as is shown by some recent events:

South Korea fires warning shots at Russian military aircraft

We need not wonder why Russian planes flew through the airspace over the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islands. When you pass through sea or land, you are claiming your right and ability to do so. While the Americans have tried to carry out similar moves near South China sea and Taiwan, these do not seem to be having much impact as China continues to entrench itself by building and expanding its bases in the South China Sea.

Beijing strengthens its hold on South China Sea

The submarines and rivalries underneath the South China Sea

Though the current US administration comes across as inconsistent and ungainly, with hardly a week passing without a senior officer handing in papers; it must be said that global trends and realignments were already evident under the previous presidency of president Obama, who perhaps saw it as a fact of life about which nothing much could be done. Every problem that you overlook has the potential to become a monster and eat you up. He concentrated on his priorities in righteous support of the Arab spring which ultimately led to the turmoil of an Islamist Arab winter. The longer term effects are still being revealed.

The present US administration began by being extremely friendly to Russian president Putin, which wasn’t such a bad thing, except President Putin continues to work more with China and also increasingly with Pakistan and at the same time noticeably less with India. To top it all here’s what a recent study by the National Defence Study Commission of the US says:

US military ‘losing its competitive edge’

In order to bluster effectively, countries need to have the muscle to back it up. So whatever be the principles leaders mouth, nobody is a pariah anymore and countries are making bilateral arrangements in attempts to stay strong and safe. Even as Britain continues to be stuck in an isolationist Brexit, hoping for a golden age Boris Johnson is going to bring in.

Imran Khan: Pakistan PM meets Trump in bid to mend ties

Trump uses veto to unblock $8bn weapons sale to Saudi Arabia

Short story: A suitable heir 短篇小说:一个合适的继承人

Once there was an old emperor in china.
The emperor did not have either a son or a daughter.
The old emperor wanted to find a suitable heir.
So there was an announcement throughout the empire.
It was announced that the emperor is looking for a suitable heir.
All the children were invited to take part in a test.
So on a school holiday, all the children collected at the venue.
Each child was handed a seed to plant in a pot and care for one year.
At the end of one year, all the participants would gather again and the emperor would inspect the result of their efforts.
All the children carried the seeds home carefully and did what they thought best.
One particular boy, called Ling filled a pot with good soil.
He sowed the seed with great care and watered it for a month.
The next month, he added some nutrients to the pot containing the seed.
He tried to put the pot in a place where it would get the morning sunshine.
He tried adding different things that were supposed to be good for plants.
But the seed did not germinate.
Ling was crestfallen.
As the year was ending, Ling found it difficult to accept the result.
He was probably too careless or ignorant to adequately care for the royal seed.
His dear mother and father understood his predicament.
They always wanted him to be honest.
At the end of one year, all the children went to the venue again.
As Ling walked to this place, he saw many children with their parents.
All these children carried beautiful pots with small plants in them.
Some had small plants with a few leaves in them.
Some children had beautiful green plants with a flower or two.

Ling did not see another child like himself who was carrying a pot without a plant inside.
Ling looked at his mother who looked back at him with reassurance and love.
At the large ground, the emperor walked by each pot and inspected each with interest.
He would often stop and talk to the children and ask their names.
As the emperor passed by Ling, he paused for a moment and asked his name.
Then he carried on to the next child and then the next.
The children with the green plants with red, orange or pink flowers beamed as they showed these off.
Ling saw the emperor returning towards him and was surprised when his pot was picked up.
As the emperor held the empty pot high, all the gathered children started laughing.
The emperor raised his hand and everyone went quiet.
Let me tell you dear children, he said.
And listen dear parents.
An year back I gave each of you a seed after boiling them in water for some time.
This greenery that I see around me is beautiful.
But most beautiful is honesty and courage.
Ling is honest as he did not switch the seed.
Ling is courageous as he did not hide the result of his efforts.
Only Ling is fit to be my heir and the future emperor.

曾经有一位在中国的老皇帝。
皇帝没有儿子或女儿
老皇帝想找一个合适的继承人。
所以整个帝国都有一个宣布。
据宣布,皇帝正在寻找合适的继承人。
所有的孩子都被邀请参加考试。
所以在学校假期,所有的孩子都在会场收集。
给每个孩子一颗种子。
他们被告知将种子种植在一个罐子里并照顾一年。
在一年结束时,所有参与者将再次聚集,皇帝将检查他们的努力结果。
所有的孩子都把种子带回家,做了他们认为最好的事情。
一个特别的男孩,名叫凌填充了一个土壤好的锅。
他小心翼翼地播下种子并浇灌了一个月。
接下来的一个月,他在含有种子的锅中加入了一些营养素。
他试图把锅放在一个可以让早晨的阳光照射的地方。
他尝试添加一些本来应该对植物有益的东西。
但种子没有发芽。
凌是垂头丧气的。
随着年底的结束,Ling发现很难接受结果。
他可能太粗心或无知,无法充分照顾王室种子。
他亲爱的母亲和父亲了解他的困境。
他们总是希望他说实话。
在一年结束时,所有的孩子再次去了会场。
当凌走到这个地方时,他和父母一起看了很多孩子。
所有这些孩子都带着装有小植物的美丽花盆。
有些植物有小植物,里面有几片叶子。
有些孩子有一两朵花的美丽绿色植物。
凌没有看到像他一样的另一个孩子,他带着一个没有植物的锅。
凌看着他的母亲,他以安慰和爱心回望着他。
在大地上,皇帝走过每个锅,并感兴趣地检查每个锅。
他经常会停下来和孩子们交谈并询问他们的名字。
当皇帝经过凌,他停了一会儿,问了他的名字。
然后他继续下一个孩子然后继续下一个孩子。
带着红色,橙色或粉红色花朵的绿色植物的孩子们在展示这些花朵时会发出光芒。
凌看到皇帝回到他身边,他的锅被拿起后感到很惊讶。
当皇帝高举空锅时,所有聚集的孩子都开始大笑。
皇帝举起手,每个人都安静下来。
亲爱的孩子,让我告诉你,他说。
亲爱的父母们。
一年前,我在水中煮了一段时间后给了你们每个人种子。
我在我身边看到的绿色植物是美丽的。
但最美丽的是诚实和勇气。
凌是诚实的,因为他没有切换种子。
凌是勇敢的,因为他没有掩饰他努力的结果。
只有凌才适合成为我的继承人和未来的皇帝。

Please do point out any errors; 请指出任何错误

देवासुर संग्राम

आज भी चल रहा है। सडक पर, दफ़्तर मे, फैक्टरियो मे, फील्ड व मीटिग मे भी। वैज्ञानिक और इञ्जीनियर , या फिर सेल्स, मार्केटिग और औपरेश्न्स जिनका पेशा है, अपना अधिक समय इसी मे लिप्त है। बडे और छोटे, सभी देशो के नेता, इसमे सबके लिये प्रेरणा स्त्रोत है। मजे की बात यह है कि सब ही खुद को देवो की तरफ़ मानते है और विरोधियो को असुरो की ओर। अपनी जिद्द मे किसी को भी यह नही दिख रहा कि एक गलती से धरती ही समाप्त हो सकती है। फिर न मानव रहेगे, न ही दानवो की कहानिया. नीचे देखिये:

दक्षिण कोरिया ने रूसी विमानों पर ‘दागी गोलियां’

ईरान ने होर्मूज़ की खाड़ी को बंद किया तो क्या होगा

अमरीका और ईरान में फिर तनातनी, ड्रोन मार गिराने का दावा

अभी नही पढी ।

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22

I read this novel quite a while back and remember well how much fun it was. It will always remain refreshing till there are politicians looking for martyrs to deify while there are real soldiers trying to remain alive. 
But this is not the only reason Catch-22 is good. In nearly all aspects of military life it takes you away from jingoism and towards the humorous aspects. It’s hilarious to hear colonel Cargill, a failed marketing executive magically turned into a colonel by the war, giving pep talk to the officers. 
The officers who look after the mess and the men who aid the doctor are priceless.

You can get the book by following the link to amazon below: