Reminiscences of the past

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These little  reminiscences of the time spent with you still adorn the pages of my life !

The freshness of the petals is ephemeral, but that of the memories is eternal.  

~

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Walk a mile in my shoes

 

 

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To all the people, who judge me before knowing my story, I say

“ Walk a mile in my shoes ! Then only will you know.”

“It isn’t as easy as you would have probably thought! “

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Book review – I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Malala

‘I come from a country, which was born at midnight, when I almost died, it was just after midday.’

–   Malala Yousafzai

Also known as ‘The girl shot by the Taliban’, and now the youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize ( a Nobel Laureate at an  age of 17) for her inspirational battle against the dreaded terror group and for her contributions in the field of promoting female education, Malala has become  a household name. She has rightly become the face of international activism for education for girls which is a right that many of us take for granted. But it takes stories like that of Malala to make us realize that even a right as basic as education is a privilege, as there are people in some parts of the world who are fighting the good fight simply to be able to go to school.

This autobiography penned by Malala in association with Christina Lamb is an account of an ordinary girl and her ordinary life in her beloved ‘Swat valley’ with her family comprising of her parents, two younger brothers and two pet chicken. She talks about her parents, how her father named  her ‘Malala’ after the Afghan warrior princess ‘Malalai’, the beauty of her ‘Swat Valley’, her Pashtun ancestry, her school friends, her everyday struggle from going to school to studying to competing with her best friend in school, her desires and wishes for a bright future,  her father’s educational activism, the gory capture of her town  by Taliban, atrocities inflicted on people under the seize, moving out of her town with her family for safety, living in a constant fear yet advocating girl’s educational rights, her father receiving death threats from Taliban over radio, getting shot and her miraculous recovery, her new life in Birmingham – it is an extraordinary account of a girl who has seen far enough for a teenage girl. It is evident from the book that Malala’s father has greatly influenced her daughter’s mindset making her fearless and instilling in her extreme sense of regard and pride for her motherland. She has grown up watching her father struggling to build a school and convincing girls to attend it – something that is condemned in their valley, hence it is not surprising that Malala values her  education and is ready to fight for it. She dreams of becoming a politician and alleviating the political situation in Pakistan.

The poignant recount of the ill-fated day when she was shot keeps the reader on the edge of the seat right up to the day when she wakes up in a London hospital –showing the world how a miraculous escape from the bullet can turn the table on terrorism. The bullet that was meant to silence the voice made it even louder and now she has evolved as the face of an international campaign for female education.

The book does not give a detailed account of the initiatives taken by her to promote female education worldwide, neither does it explore further on the subject of female education and its current status in the world. But what it provides is the story of a brave, teenage girl written with great simplicity and innocence who has become a role model  for every girl in the world. The book is replete with pictures from her past, her post recovery days and her new life in Birmingham.

All in all, a great book that will leave you with a sense of deep regard for the education you have received, and a compelling desire to do your bit for educating the less – privileged ones  around you .

To buy this book, plz visit : http://fkrt.it/IvVOn!NNNN

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Book Review : Impatient Optimist – Bill Gates in his own words by Lisa Rogak

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‘This is how I see the world, and it should make one thing clear: I am an optimist. But I am an impatient optimist.’

                                                                                                          –   Bill Gates

A biography but not in the usual sense of the word, this book attempts to give us a glimpse into the life and personality of one of the world’s richest businessmen who spearheaded the digital technology revolution as the CEO of his brainchild and  tech-giant Microsoft. After dropping out of Harvard University in the junior year  and later co-founding  the company  with his friend Paul Allen in 1976, there was no turning back for this ingenious scientist who at a young age of 31, became the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.  This book tries to explore various aspects of his life – from his decision to step down as CEO and engage in philanthropic work, his relationship with Paul Allen, his successor Steve Ballmer and Apple’s Steve Jobs, the nature of his philanthropic work and his foundation, his take on business, future trends in technology, his family, his legacy and his attitude towards various things in general.

His take on success –

‘Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.’

Now the surprising element of the biography is that it is not in text format. Lisa Rogak has experimented with the conventional  style , and has presented the biography as a collection of quotations by Bill Gates  collected from various sources –print media , public interactions, conferences and business events, online journals etc. At first, it is hard to realize how a book replete with his sayings can be helpful  in providing an insight into the mind of this venerated personality – but as one reads through the pages –the words  indeed prove to be the words of wisdom and open the doors of  enlightenment. As the pages are turned, the reader himself can make a sketch of his character. The process is very much similar to real life – we hear/know what people say on the basis of which we form a portrait of the person in our mind. This approach also eliminates any prejudice or bias – a figment of author’s mind – which can set in the minds of the reader if he reads through the author’s lens. All in all, a commendable effort by Lisa Rogak, I must say. A possible drawback could be that this format does  not give a detailed description of his life or incorporate third person’s views about him. The quotes are also not arranged chronologically but categorically. It does provide a list of his significant life events in brief at the end – but it is very similar to the way we list events in history matched with its year.

If you are looking for an inspirational, light reading or are simply interested in his life– this book is a good bet. But if you want a detailed description of his life, this book might disappoint you. My suggestion to the readers – go for this book for the innovative style of writing.  It will be a refreshing change. The inspiration and wisdom which you would get out of it could be the icing on the cake.

You can buy the book here :  http://fkrt.it/Iv2HT!NNNN

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Do I really need it?

new emoji

One fine Saturday evening I was having a nice get together with my friends on WHATSAPP ( read ‘digital get together’ 😀 ) when I received an update alert. I thought:

 “What could be the next big makeover after the whole enigmatic environment touch to the look and feel ?”

I accepted the challenge and the update started.

Later, I saw my Dad’s message with a thumbs up emoji. There was something different about it. So, I took the pain of going through the emoji dictionary to find out if there is any problem with my  screen  resolution or it is just one of Whatsapp’s new shenanigans. I discovered the unexpected.

Where the rest of the smileys were perfectly fine, the human manifestation of the emojis  had sub choices  and to my bewilderment – the choices were of different skin colors. Don’t believe me ? Just update yours and see for yourself if you have not done yet !

That led me back to a brown study. My curiosity led me to a thorough internet research and I realized that Unicode Consortium – the organization which coordinates the development of Unicode Standard (Basically, to set rules for handling  text in digital world ) had set the standard for emojis and Apple implemented  the ‘long awaited racially diverse emojis’ as part of its update. Whatsapp has done the same for its platform.

INTELLIGENT LIFE MAGAZINE MAY / JUNE 2012 Intelligence Portrait of Expressive Baby rvw196741 ( # - ( 8 3 C > N I ^ Y k f u p

The first thought that crossed my mind after becoming aware of the whole situation was –

‘Well, this could foster racism!’  – But this conclusion is subjective and moot – subjected to different people’s mindset and way of acceptance. Some may see it as respect for diversity and some may feel  that it is an insinuation to the racist mindset.  But it is not this aspect which has egged me on to write this piece. What bothers me is the fact that this era – the so- called digital era – is inundated with useless updates and innovations.  Don’t judge me yet. I am not an innovator myself so morally I don’ t have a right to comment,  I am only speaking my mind here which I am entitled to do. I know there have been various inventions and innovations that have helped humanity and nature and my statement is not meant to disrespect those. In fact, especially the digital counterparts have made our lives much easier – we can manage everything from our mobile phone sitting at home and concentrating  better on important work rather than standing in lines outside offices to pay our bills or outside banks to transfer money , or even leaving our flat for shopping. Everything is available at our fingertips, quite literally.

But (and there is always a BUT), are there not a lot of innovations that are not really needed!  So my problem is why we are wasting time developing something that is not crucial to our existence at this moment when we have bigger problems at hand. For example, what difference would it make even if we did not have the ‘racially diverse emojis’. I know I will hardly use them. Additionally it makes the whole process of sending emojis much difficult – for sending a thumbs up , you have to explicitly choose the skin color every time – Giving us a wide range of choices to make decisions whose significance is difficult for me to comprehend. Maybe it gives some people of different races a sense of inclusion and acceptance, but would it solve the bigger problem of racism at hand, which we know exists. I mean if someone is looking for acceptance in manifestations of Whatsapp emojis, there is something seriously wrong with our generation.

Innovation-Growth

After much brainstorming, I came to the conclusion that the problem I have is two-fold. Firstly, I feel that innovators who have the resource and dexterity to make human lives easier and better and eradicate social evils and environmental issues – should focus more on these goals. I commend various initiatives taken by enterprises and organizations on the social front – like Project Loon by Google to provide internet access to remote areas. There are many parts in the world which do not have electricity, proper water supply or other facilities that we take for granted in our day to day lives.  The innovators should focus more on making each human’ s life easier rather than on catering to just a part of the entire group.

Secondly, people should not get so engrossed and captivated with their digital identity  that they digress from reality. Digital acceptance is less important than individual acceptance – acceptance of our personality and traits by us. Fear for digital acceptance simply portrays an inferiority complex which again leads to the superficial life the people are living nowadays in the digital world. I have already covered it here.

As far as the Whatsapp emojis are concerned, I would like to express my gratitude to Whatsapp for giving me the impetus to write after a long time for my blog – but unfortunately I cannot say that for the diverse emojis that have been added and for the fact that I have to see it every time I will be going for a get-together or a chat ! 😉

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Confusables –  Easily Confused Words

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She excepted/accepted his marriage proposal.

Everybody came to the party accept/except Jake.

How many of you have faced difficulties in using similar sounding words – accept or except , affect or effect, canvas or canvass, dissent or descent or decent – and many more ! Well, each one of us has faced such a situation at some point in our writing venture. Sometimes, the difference is in terms of whether  you want a noun or a verb – advice (to be used as a noun) and advise ( to be used as a verb). Sometimes, the difference lies in the usage of a word in a particular context – amicable (focus on friendly relationship between people) and amiable (focus on the person’s individual disposition). Most of the times, the difference can be easily perceived, but often when the meaning is clear, we end up using wrong words because of wrong spellings – an ‘a’ and an ‘e’ can confuse too ( as in stationary (at rest )  or stationery (writing paper and other materials) !!

So here is a list of commonly confusing words we come across in English.

Happy Learning !  🙂

Word Meaning Sentence
 Aberrant Departing from an accepted standard When the astronomer looked into the telescope, he was shocked by the sight of a star moving in an aberrant path.
 Abhorrent Inspiring disgust and loathing; repugnant, loathsome When the citizens learned about the abhorrent crime, they screamed for justice outside the police station.
The abhorrent individual was spurned by his fellow citizens because of his aberrant behavior.

                           

Abjure To give up belief or activity, renounce, relinquish, reject After the tyrant took over the country, the citizens had to abjure their political beliefs.
Adjure Urge or request (someone) solemnly or earnestly to do something. He adjured the editor to cease posting silly articles.
The minister adjured his wayward congregation to abjure the sins of the flesh.

                          

Amoral Lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something. Hugh grew up to be an amoral man because his parents never told him the difference between right and wrong.
Immoral Not conforming to or violating the accepted standards of morality. They considered colonialism to be immoral.
Sometimes it seems more shocking to be amoral than to be immoral.

  

Appraise Assess the value or quality of. His merits in this respect, however, can only be appraised by the study of his works at first hand.
Apprise Inform or tell (someone). Each week, the teachers apprise parents of their students’ progress by emailing grade reports.
After we have the jeweler appraise the diamond, we will apprise you of its value.

  

Averse Having a strong dislike of or opposition to something. As a former CIA director, he is not averse to secrecy.
Adverse Preventing success or development; harmful; unfavorable. Taxes are having an adverse effect on production.
I am averse to traveling in such adverse weather conditions.

    

Allude Suggest or call attention to indirectly; hint at. The teacher asked the students to not allude to any online sources in their research papers.
Elude Escape from or avoid (a danger, enemy, or pursuer), typically in a skillful or cunning way. He tried to elude the security men by sneaking through a back door
She would often allude to her childhood, when she would elude her brothers in a game of hide-and-seek.

  

Alleviate Make (suffering, deficiency, or a problem) less severe. To alleviate hunger in our town, each employee of our company donated five cans of food.
Ameliorate Make (something bad or unsatisfactory) better Not only did he ameliorate your grades, but he also found a way to enjoy learning.
Government agencies tried to alleviate the effects of the depression. They attempted to ameliorate the job-seeking process.

   

Amicable Friendliness or goodwill between people or group It was a relatively amicable divorce and at least they remain on speaking terms.
Amiable A person’ friendly disposition One former roommate described him as amiable and talkative
With amiable people like them, it’s not unusual to have an amicable divorce.

    

Afflict To cause suffering or unhappiness, like what a disease does.(Focus on the sufferer) It’s also quite likely that he was afflicted with an eating disorder
Inflict To force pain or suffering with focus on the person/thing causing the suffering. More aggressive Five other men accused of taking part in the fight were convicted of hooliganism and inflicting light bodily injury.
I am afflicted with something terrible, so I inflict injuries upon others.

   

Canvas A strong, coarse unbleached cloth made from hemp, flax, or a similar yarn, used to make items such as sails and tents and as a surface for oil painting. The painting is oil on canvas.
Canvass Solicit votes from (electors or members). In each ward, two workers canvassed some 2,000 voters.
We wore canvas shoes while we tried to canvass the entire neighborhood.

Want to learn more of these words?

I found an excellent site for such words. You can learn more such words here