Reading while in the metro

Travelling and reading is my favourite combination. There is so much time while traveling which can be put to use, reading. Most of my books have been gulped while in the train. Even at the station there is so much time and why kill it when a good book can make it much more enjoyable.

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I’m reading a book by Micheal Greger MD on plant and whole  grain based nutrition.

Beyond ages

The perilous time for the most highly gifted is not youth. The holy sensibilities of genius — for all the sensibilities of genius are holy — keep their possessor essentially unhurt as long as animal spirits and the idea of being young last; but the perilous season is middle age, when a false wisdom tempts them to doubt the divine origin of the dreams of their youth; when the world comes to them, not with the song of the siren, against which all books warn us, but as a wise old man counselling acquiescence in what is below them.

velocity_hilts

Diet modifications

Having gone vegetarian, I have started to intermittently fast in order to detox. It’s a great way to do the same. I can feel the cleansing happen. Moreover, I’ve switched my cereal preferences from rice and wheat to foxtail millets. I add a handful of veggies to the same and have it for lunch. Dinner has been a vegetable broth for three days. Green tea is another essential ingredient of my diet as I’ve read it has cleansing properties. Bringing about change always feels good. Like the way I feel right now : )

Anticancer A new way of life

Current read. Immaculately written. The writer is very well informed.

My room wall

img_20190620_161518244Solitude amongst crowds

I’ve modified my bedroom wall and have removed the previous Asimov print which used to be there. Instead now I’ve painted this abstract which signifies my journey.

Adoption #kindnessmatters

Largesse is a cultivated habit. Beneficence is  a social trait. In my extended family I came across many with their characteristics but none were as kind as one family who chose to maintain their anonymity. Not only did they understand the importance of sustainable development goals set forth by the United Nations, they also implemented 5 of them in their own individual capacity, and have set an example to the world that a small drop in the ocean can also create a ripple which can give way to a wave and then a much larger wave of social change.  They have been patriots of their own unique kind. When Mr. was in the army he had vowed to serve the nation. That vow still remains on solid footing. They travelled far and wide throughout the country and saw the state of affairs. From poverty to illiteracy, there were plagues of all kinds infesting our social structure. ” What can we do ” ” How should we alleviate their pain ” thought both of them. Their compassion is known far and wide through the circle of family and friends. Their demeanor of extending help to all was indeed manifested when Mrs. started working for the Salam balak trust as a volunteer. She put in her time and effort in the upliftment of children. Mr. and Mrs. were abjectly disturbed after hearing horrifying stories of children who had been mentally and physically tormented just because they belonged to a poor socioeconomic strata. They brooded on the issue for long hours and wept through disturbed nights. What was in their hands that they could put on stake to make the socioeconomically weak grow. At their ripe age of 60 plus they couldn’t imagine running an organization as that would require time energy and funds, all of which were scarce. Hence, it was decided that by all means two families would be adopted and taken care of, by the couple.

Diwan and Bhupal belong to the villages of Uttaranchal. Farming and collecting firewood is the main occupation there. Having had experienced hardships in the village when both came across Mr’s proposal, they readily accepted it. Their journey towards achieving the SDGs started. Diwan and Bhupal were married, hence, were given separate accommodations. Their daily rations which included food, toiletries, clothing and apparel were taken care of. Visits to the doctor when Diwan’s and Bhupal’s wives were pregnant, were arranged. Keeping in mind the sustainable development goals of good health and well being & clean water and sanitation  Mr. and Mrs. channelised their energies towards uplifting the families. They tried to inculcate in them the same values they abided by. Their instinct of kindness pushed them towards treating the two families as their very own. This is what I am trying to highlight by sharing this story. When Diwan and Bhupal’s families had children, it was a moment of great joy for Mr. and Mrs. The two children were looked after with great affection. During their infancy Mrs. took utmost care of their nutrition, providing them with the healthiest diet. They were taught hygiene habits as they grew up. This was in complete contrast to what they would have learnt at their village. The two children became the apple of their eyes. Every demand was met under the scrutiny of discipline. As they grew up, they were enrolled into a private school. The education of the children became a priority fulfilling the SDG number 4 on quality education. They kept Pvt. tutors for the kids so that they may learn as they grow. The children are 5 and 6 yrs old, and a bundle of joy. Their effervescence is infectious. For they have been loved and taken care of by the best hands. Mr. makes sure he deposits a certain amount of money in the name of the two children for a secure future. Hence, the number one sustainable development goal is fulfilled which is Remove Poverty.

Their story tells us that a small initiative and a big heart can help improve if not all but some lives. Imagine if each Urban family starts to take care of one rural family, how many families can we empower. Think. The answer is right here.

Pratiksha : story of a little girl #kindnessmatters

In the suburbs of Delhi, the sun set over the small locality of janakpuri.2 Laxmi who was busy giving fodder to the cow heard some noise coming from the neighbor’s house. It seemed that a child was wailing. She decided to finish her work and pay them a visit. Laxmi’s neighbors were the kind ones who entertained guests with roohafza and homemade samosas. Laxmi used to visit them often as Mrs. Rajbala, the house lady used to teach her threadwork which she thoroughly enjoyed.

On opening the door, as was the tradition, Laxmi removed her shoes and went straight inside. Mrs. Rajbala was holding her granddaughter tightly, trying very hard to appease her. “What happened” asked Laxmi. “Why are you holding her like this, Aunty”to which Mrs. Rajbala replied, “Gudiya has been crying the whole day. She refuses to eat or drink anything and Babu and Mala too aren’t home. I’ve given her janamgutti.”

Laxmi looked at Gudiya intently, feeling sad about her condition. ” Why don’t we take her to the doctor. Maybe he can help us.””I think we should.” Replied Mrs. Rajbala.” Dr. Taneja’s clinic is nearby and I’ve heard he is a very good doctor. Let’s take Gudiya to him.” Together Laxmi and Mrs. Rajbala wrapped Gudiya in a blanket, locked their respective houses and rushed to Dr. Taneja’s.

Dr. Taneja sat in his clinic surrounded by books. His demeanor was of a soft hearted man yet his skill was immaculate. Wide eyed Dr. Taneja looked at Gudiya and patted her belly gently. “It’s gastroenteritis. An infection of the gut.” Laxmi understood but Mrs. Rajbala could not. Puzzled she further questioned Dr. Taneja to which he very politely replied ” See, just like we live in this world, so do other animals like cows, sparrows and squirrels. These are animals we can see. Now there are some living beings which are so small that we cannot see them. They live in dirt and muck. And they can enter our bodies too, causing illness.” Mrs. Rajbala suddenly started to feel as if she had swallowed some unknown organism, yet she restrained her instinct to spit. Dr. Taneja wrote down some medications after which Laxmi and Mrs. Rajbala took his leave. While returning Laxmi picked up the medications from the chemist ” they live in dirt and muck ” ringing in her ears.

As she entered the locality a pile of garbage was there to greet her, a swarm of houseflies buzzing over it. Laxmi splashed her feet in the dirty swamp enjoying the spray and ran to her house.

Dr. Taneja arrived home at 9:30 pm, after finishing his evening clinic. For normal standards it’s late but for a pediatrician he wasn’t behind time. While having dinner, Seher, his daughter asked him the question she used to ask him everyday. ” How was your day, papa” to which he replied. ” I had a good day dear but the only disturbing part was that I saw close to 12 children with gastroenteritis today. ” Oh my God ” replied Seher. ” That is horrible. Where do these children belong to, papa. Is it really unhygienic there?”  To which Dr. Taneja replied. ” You want to see where these children come from. I’ll take you there, dear.”

The next day, it being a sunday, Seher remembered her father’s promise. She was up, dressed and set to go where Dr. Taneja was taking her.On her arrival, she could smell the stench of rotting refuse. As she moved further into the locality tears welled up in her eyes when she saw human feces lying in the open. Lack of sanitation and absence of any waste disposal system was what she observed. In addition to this she saw womenfolk making cow dung cakes.How primitive were we she thought in her heart. Drains stagnant with putrid water, a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies, piles of garbage and no clean water. These things troubled her. She couldn’t hold back her tears and wept profusely. Dr. Taneja got alarmed. ” Is this my India, can’t we do something about it Papa. Why are these beautiful people subjected to such misery”

Dr. Taneja saw Seher’s kind face and the light of compassion shine in her eyes and for a moment felt very proud of her. ” We will do something dear” Holding her hand they went back home.

Laxmi rushed to school early in the morning, dangling her satchel behind her back. As the classes started Ms. Asha, her science teacher started to talk about the Swacch Bharat abhiyan. Laxmi read about it intently and thought ” Will there be toilets in our locality someday. How wonderful would it feel not to defecate out in the open ”

In the meanwhile Seher’s mind was racing. What should I do ? How should I stop this injustice. It had to be a clever innovation. Rummaging her mind the cogitation hit eureka. Seher knew what she had to do. It was a Mobile Toilet. She simply had to design a Mobile Toilet and park it anywhere and everywhere, there wasn’t one. She saw in the news what Pm Modi’s Swacch Bharat abhiyan was all about, and now she was going to innovate and help him. In sync with her firm belief that sewage should be viewed as a valuable resource she started to focus on generating a clean alternative form of energy in order to achieve the 6th goal of sustainable development : clean water and sanitation. The very next day she sat with her teacher and discussed the project at school.

A mobile toilet attached to a solar energy driven vehicle will come in the morning and will be parked at a busy area in the city as well as remote areas around.

There will be separate toilets for males and females as well as for passing urine and stools so as to attempt to segregate the type of waste at the source.

The door of the toilet will  open only in two conditions

  • If there is water in the toilets indicated by a blue light flashing at the entrance
  • If the solid waste has not overfilled which will be indicated by a red light which if on, indicates that the toilet door will not open.

These prerequisites would ensure water availability prior to use.

When the blue light is glowing, if the user will press the button outside, the door will open for his use.

The magnetized door will close as soon as the user enters. As soon as the door opens, a pre-recorded message will play and invite the user to the toilet and guide him how to use it. This feature has been introduced for illiterate people who cannot identify the written messages and for first time users.

To motivate the people to flush and inculcate a hygienic civic code of using a public commodity, there will be two buttons inside which will be pressed depending on the type of usage. If someone has passed urine, Button 1 will be pressed to allow 1.5 liters of water to flush. However if someone has passed stools 4.5 litres of water will be released to clean the toilet.

It is only after the toilet has been flushed that the door will open automatically to allow the person outside.

Thus unless and until the user flushes, his /her door would not open for him to exit. This special feature will encourage people to flush and keep the toilet clean for other users.

The lights in the van will automatically switch on when it becomes dark and not otherwise.

There will be a help button installed near the mobile toilet to ensure that messages for help are taken by the control room. For example if the water supply in the tank finishes i.e, the blue light is off or the sludge tank is full i.e red light is on,  a complaint can be registered so that action can be prompt.

The toilet will be constructed as Asian squat seat to reduce the chances of infection and contamination. However, a toilet chair will be available for physically differently abled people for ease of use.

At night, the mobile vehicle will come again at 10:30pm to collect the mobile toilet and take it back to the station.

Though unmanned, daily cleanliness of the toilets will be ensured by getting it back at the station at night.

The collected excreta will be taken for disposal in a nearby deputed area. The solid waste will be directed towards production of biogas whereas the urine will be processed to generate electricity.

A fixed- dome type of biogas plant will be used for production of biogas which requires only locally and easily available materials for construction so inexpensive and easy to construct. The biogas produced has a high calorific value, provides clean fuel, can be supplied through pipelines, burns readily, reduces burden on forests and fossil fuels in villages, provides nutrient rich (N & P) manure for plants thus doing away with the organic fertilizers.

Urine has 95% water and 2% urea. I plan to produce electricity from urine based on the principle of Electrolysis. Urea is less tightly bonded than the hydrogen atoms in water molecules. To break the molecule down, a voltage of 0.37V needs to be applied across the cell – much less than the 1.23V needed to split water.  When urine is electrolysed, Hydrogen gas will be produced at the cathode which will be passed through a water filter to purify the hydrogen gas. The gas will then be passed through a cylinder and liquefied at low temperature and high pressure. Borax cylinder will remove rest of the moisture and electricity will be produced when it passes thought he generator.

It is postulated that one litre of urine can produce enough hydrogen gas to run an electrical generator. A gasoline fueled generator needs about seven litres of that fuel to run for the same length of time. The installation cost is low for the urine generator when compared with the other generators. It is pollution less and it does not produce the harmful gases.

Mandeep maam, Seher’s teacher could not believe what she was hearing. It was like someone had come up with the best solution for solving one of India’s biggest problems. Patting Seher on her back, she told her to keep it up.

 

In the meanwhile, Mrs. Mandeep decided to put up Seher’s project for competing amongst young innovators. It made it to the top 30 innovations of the country and was showcased on the eve of the national technology day, in the form of a booklet. Seher’s idea for published in the March 2018 newsletter of the Atal innovation mission.

She attended a bootcamp and learnt about 3 D printing, laser cutting, IOTs, robotics, CAD model, designing etc. She then got invited to showcase her project at IIT Bombay. Laxmi’s dream of attaining the 6th SDG was coming true through Seher’s eyes. Finally, Seher’s project made it to the top 100 in the country under the AIM mission

She presented the project at VIGYAN BHAVAN. It made it to the top 30 in the form of PRATIKSHA : EK PAHAL : A NEW DAWN IN SANITATION : A HUMBLE ATTEMPT. wherein she extended the scope of her project to Urban slums and rural areas.

Laxmi saw a documentary made by the NDTV https://youtu.be/gZpe_baZr68 and was thrilled to see what Seher was doing. She wanted to meet her. It was in IIT Delhi that the innovation bus was launched called the shuruaat bus, an initiative of the global education and leadership foundation supported by the Atal mission that Laxmi got an opportunity to see Seher. She thanked her for being kind enough to think about the problems of others and come up with novel solutions.

Roshni : an ability for the disabled by Shiveesh Fotedar #kindnessmatters

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On joining IIT for research and work, I primarily focused on how to build my design portfolio. There I met Dhruv, a differently abled person with a congenital hearing loss. He became my inspiration. Because of him kindness welled up inside me and my respect for the differently abled  grew. He became my friend and eventually co-worker.

I decided to start working on any modus which would help the disabled in anyway. Their dignity was important to me. When Dhruv heard about my thoughts he welcomed me to join his project Roshni. Visually impaired people frequently visited the department. We spoke to them and found out that the major problem they face was the lack of an independent indoor navigation.” That was the trigger that started this project,” Dhruv said.He wanted me to design the user interface of an app which would help in navigation for the visually impaired. Citing data from the WHO.. ‘Globally, it is estimated that approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of vision impairment.With regards to distance vision, 188.5 million people have mild vision impairment, 217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment, and 36 million people are blind.With regards to near vision, 826 million people live with a near vision impairment.Globally, the leading causes of vision impairment are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts.Approximately 80% of all vision impairment globally is considered avoidable. The majority of people with vision impairment are over the age of 50 years’. Coming up with a novel solution to help all these people navigate in their homes was indeed a brilliant idea. This was my opportunity to be kind and offer gratitude to those who inspired me like the differently abled. Keeping in mind the sustainable development goal number three of good health and well being I started to work on the project. I read and referenced about assistive design technologies. I burnt the midnight oil. I took the help of all the resources I could. Finally, the outcome was ROSHNI, my dream of making an application interface that enhances the  mobility and communication of people with disabilities. Our six-member team at Delhi IIT’s computer science department, led by Dhruv and guided by Prof M Balakrishnan, gave the final touches to Roshni. With the help of the National Association for the Blind, the research group tested the device with two dozen visually impaired persons from different age groups and got satisfactory responses.Besides Samsung, which funded one year of research and development, Indian Angel Network, a community of start-up funders, showed interest in supporting the project, and the IIT team was in talks with them.Soon there was installation of the updated version of the Roshni prototype at the National Science Centre in Pragati Maidan in the Capital. The navigation system, which consists of wall sensors, a waist-worn device to receive and detect signals, and a user interphase which I designed in the form of a mobile application, have been installed and successfully demonstrated at Bharti, the building which houses the computer science department of IIT Delhi. My challenge to win over the people.

Roshni has got many recognitions and awards.

  • It has been published at various places and has been recognized by the media.”
  • Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled People (TRANSED 2012).
  • Best Poster Award, in the Poster Presentation at 4th IBM Collaborative Academia Research Exchange (I-CARE 2012) held in Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore, India
  • Best project in the institute across all departments and disciplines, IIT Delhi, IIT Delhi Alumini Award with a cash prize of Rs. 2 lakh Winners in Eureka Paper Presentation, Techkriti, IIT Kanpur’s Technical Festival, 2013 [National Award] Project Incubation award in India Innovation Initiative 2013 [National Award] Wide media recognition in Deccan Herald, Hindustan Times, Times of India etc.

Roshni, is a user centric system which conveys the position to users as and when they want, making the building entirely transparent to the user, provided that map is installed in the mobile phone application and thus, giving complete independence to the visually impaired without any need of any external sighted assistance. Use of low cost IR sensor technology makes this system affordable for any moderate user in a developing country.

I felt that this was my way to show kindness to the world. By helping someone who was in dire need I think I’ve fulfilled my responsibility as a human being.

 

Beauty

green apple on girl s head
Photo by Ike louie Natividad on Pexels.com
Might I suggest that the phrase* ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ be contextually elaborated in brief, since here its being put in print for circulation, that to with so much belief having drawn much inspiration from it. 
Please correct me if I’m wrong, from my understanding what you mean to convey is in order for something to be deemed beautiful, it has be observed to physically observed to begin with & appreciated by the admirer. If there is no beholder, then there is no beauty. (Personally I can appreciate this interpretation, but can’t fully agree with it. As beauty is not just something one experiences but more fundamentally that simply just is. Ability to appreciate is our bonus)
Now the chances anyone in a typical audience not understanding this are slim, and probability of anyone in India even questioning this “phrase” even remoter, as the chances of coming across an aesthetically informed, literarily probing & philosophically inclined entrepreneur aspirant seem minute.
However the issue is that when in 1878, the Irish writer Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in her book Molly Brown, first articulates these words, she meant / alluded to something quite different. Actually this idiom* as it is understood and used today, basically implies that beauty is very subjective and is defined by the likes/dislikes of the individual observer & that we all can’t possibly come to a singular consensus on what is beautiful / valuable.
Interestingly evolutionary psychology has disproved this stereotypical assumption as well, hence at this level as counter-intuitive as it might seem, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. The academic discussion of-course continues about how much importance the beholder should be given, extending to even his presence or absence to judge beauty.
* technically in English by definition all idioms can be phrases (group of words) but not the other way around. Of course there are 1 word idioms like “Moonlighting” 🙂
[Seemingly] empty canvas anyone ?
🙂

Vienna and Paris

S’il vous plaît trouver les photos ci-joint. Bon visionnement!

Merci et salutations

Cordialement

 
 
Whenever you get the time, do see these through all the pictures without having heard the music below. Then see them withthe music in the link below & let me know if you felt differently in your heart. 
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Vienna Blood / Viennese Spirit – Historical anecdote for Musical Apprectiations.
 
“After this, Johann Strauss Jr. stepped up to the conductor’s podium to perform his latest waltz, ‘Wiener Blut’. We do not believe that we are overstating our praise if we count this work amongst the best by the beloved Waltz King. This dance piece is a collection of genuine Viennese tunes, full of melody and electrifying rhythm. On tempestuous demand the waltz had to be repeated”. The reviewer for the Neues Wiener Tagblatt (23.04.1873) was equally enthusiastic, numbering the waltz Wiener Blut “amongst the most beautiful which Strauss has written in recent years. In these three-four bars, sometimes cheeky, sometimes sentimental, flows fresh, free and red Viennese blood”.

This performance of the waltz Wiener Blut, on the night of 22/23 April 1873, marked the first occasion on which the Viennese Waltz King conducted the renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and thus also the commencement of the orchestra’s ‘Strauss tradition’.

 
The 2010 Annual Summer Night concert presented by Österreichischer Rundfunk, ORF, (“Austrian Broadcasting”). More info about this in the link page & at the end of the piece.
 
 
Music of the spheres by Johann Strauss (The Father)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ68WxERVMc

 
Encore ! – what a tearjerker !!  Guess where you have heard this before ?? Perhaps in a famous TV ad.
 

The original piano version:
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq7ncjhSqtk&feature=related

0:40 – 2:01 & 6:08 – 8:40

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxz2UfCYtQk

I got all so sentimental (sorry if it seemed overblown over the text, but I swear it was all genuinely heartfelt) when hearing these, as it is these melodies evoke remembrance & longing of an age gone by, which only heightened my yearning for my lone visit to my most beloved city.

Solfeggio and Dhrupad

Ever so often the lyrics totally eclipse the memory of a casual listener that the music is relegated to a mere background accompaniment, 

Sometimes a melody is best without words……
Here the material is sung melismatically,  a performer sings solemised syllables.How seemingly meaningless vocal sounds take upon a profound meaning if only we listen carefully to the musical metamorphosis of a single vowel.
black vinyl record playing on turntable
Photo by Elviss Railijs Bitāns on Pexels.com
The western ‘Solfeggio’ I reckon in ways is the closest modern equivalent to India’s most ancient & totally indigenous musical tradition – Dhrupad, where the attributeless absolute – Naad Brahma comes to have a metaphysical form
I hope this helps to relax the mind and stay ahead and upfront

Renoir

Renoir was the greatest painter of women since, Rafael & he painted no woman as often as the great love of his life Madame Aline Charigot.

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This seated bather from 1884 is my very personal favorite from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge. Isn’t she just absolutely lovely and charming ?

Today, they would call her BiG, but back then being plump (fat) was fashionable, a sign of good health. The ravishing details of the brushstrokes so lovingly applied on canvas.

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/seated-bather/nQH74zeihqxi_w?hl=en

No wonder why she is again and again his model for all his masterpieces

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyhOQxWOhlM

Set to the Ständchen (“Serenade”; the singer exhorts his lover to make him happy) from the Schwanengesang (“Swan song”) cycle, D.957, the title of a collection of songs written by Franz Schubert at the end of his life and published posthumously.