Two stories

Synopsis : These are simply two stories that show some light on the ancient practice of female abductions when they were sold as slaves into the harems of the rich and powerful. Sadly this practice is still in use in some parts of the world that needs to be eradicated and strongly repudiated.

Two stories

the-storyteller (1)

Source : Google photo of a story teller

I read these two stories when I was young and was very impressed by its relevance in the contemporary Moslem society that existed several centuries ago. They are fictitious stories but quite probable given the history of debauchery in the Moslem royalty that kept grand harems full of beautiful women.

Once prince Aurangjeb was out hunting with his friends in a remote part when suddenly he came across a group of beautiful women bathing in a mountain spring quite unconcerned because they thought they were alone. They were being guarded by a big bearded fellow who was heavily armed and confronted the young prince and his companions not knowing who they were and told them to be off.

He was a trader who sold kidnapped beautiful women to royal harems at a high price because the Princes and Kings paid a huge amount of money for the most beautiful of these women but they must be virgins. These unfortunate women were kidnapped from their homes in Afghanistan, Persia and other places ending up in some harems somewhere.

Aurangjeb was the youngest son of Emperor Shah Jehan who built Taj Mahal for his wife MumTaj Mahal. This story is about the young prince.

The young prince was particularly attracted to a very pretty woman so he got off his horse and introduced himself. The trader knowing he was a prince asked forgiveness for his rude behavior and wanted to make amends. The prince then asked for the girl and said that he wanted to spend the night with her.

The trader protested and said that he must sell the girls as virgins so the Prince should understand his conundrum. No one will buy a woman no matter how pretty she is if she is not a virgin.

But the Prince Aurangjeb insisted and got his wish. The next morning he gave the girl his gold ring that had his royal emblem and said that should the need arise, she can show this ring to the royal household and her needs will be attended to.

For the young prince it was just a fling on the spur of the moment so he soon forgot all about her and continued with his hunting and frolicking with his companions.

Many years passed. Then one night at midnight a mysterious woman clad in black veil from head to foot called Hijab with only two peep holes for the eyes approached the guards of the palace of Aurangjeb and insisted on seeing him. She said that it was a matter of great urgency but the guards had strict orders not to disturb the prince who was sleeping. Still the woman insisted but would not reveal who she was and what was the purpose of her visit. The guards still did not let her.

So she put out her white hand on which shone a heavy gold ring that the guards recognized instantly but said very politely that they could not disturb the prince so she finally gave them a package for the prince and left.

Aurangjeb found a big package next to his bed when he woke up and opened  it to find a strange contraption made of steel that looked like a rat cage but very unusual in design. When he asked who had brought it, the guards could only say that it was a woman clad in Hijab who did not reveal her identity but showed them a royal ring on her finger that they recognized as that of the Prince.

The prince could not make the head or tail of this incident and had already forgotten about the beautiful girl he had slept with during his hunting trip long ago and put it down to some strange prank. He however, noticed that the cage had a heavy duty door that was well oiled and closed silently but still he could not understand the purpose of the rat trap and the unusual design .

Then one day he received an invitation from his elder half-brother Dara Shukoh who was the next in line to become the king after Shah Jehan and was groomed as such. Dara had built a summer palace in Agra and he wanted to show it off to the King and his brothers so everyone came to see the summer palace part of which was under the river Yamuna.

Dara explained that the design of the building was to keep it cool during the hot summer months so the river above the building kept it cool. The king and his entourage all went inside the superb palace but  Aurangjeb noticed that the door was heavy and slid into the jamb silently . This triggered the alarm bells in his mind and he instantly saw the similarity with the strange rat cage that he had received from an unknown woman.

So he refused to step through the door angering the King Shah Jehan who ordered him to come in but this he would not obey thus greatly upsetting  the King. He was not used to disobedience from any one so he took away the privileges of the young prince and reduced his allowances.

Aurangjeb then went back to his palace and looked very carefully at the rat cage and eventually found a secret trap door on top of it that opened when a secret button was pushed. The cage was extremely well made and its implication made him aghast and fearful.  He then used his spies to go to Dara’s palace and see if indeed there was a secret door in the ceiling.

They found it and it could mean only one thing. It meant that Dara was planning some mischief and wanted to invite his enemies that included Aurangjeb who was secretly aspiring to be the king. Once inside the room, the heavy door would be shut and the trap door in the ceiling would let in the water killing every one inside.

With this information Aurangjeb then confronted his half-brother and asked him what was his intention. The king was also told but Dara said that he did not know anything about it as he did not supervise the construction himself. However, very mysteriously the architect was found dead after some time.

Aurangjeb’s spies also found out that the mysterious woman who gave the prince the rat trap was in the harem of Dara but no one was allowed inside the harem that was guarded all the time so Aurangjeb asked a young boy in his palace to carry a secret message to the lady. The young boy was dressed as a girl so gained admittance somehow and gave the message to the lady.

Now the guards had some suspicion about the young girl coming and going and found that it was a boy. Dara then asked the guards to release his blood hounds at night when the messenger usually came .The outcome was inevitable. The next morning Dara sent the remains of the boy to the palace of Aurangjeb with a note that perhaps it was the body of someone from his palace so he was very sorry that the hounds were out and attacked.

Aurangjeb knew all about palace intrigues through his spies and said with perfect poker face that it was not someone from his palace so Dara must have made a wrong assumption. The matter ended there but no one knew what happened to that woman who had warned Aurangjeb.

As we all know, Aurangjeb had his two brothers assassinated and put the King into prison in the Agra Fort for the rest of his life and became the king. This last part is historically accurate. He was a ruthless king who forced Islam on hapless Hindus and destroyed thousands of their temples and built mosques there. I saw his grave in Aurangabad where he was buried in a pauper’s grave covered only with soil as per his wish.

The second story is somewhat similar to the first one but also fictitious. It was written by Rabindra Nath Tagore and made into a movie called The hungry stones.

A young man had accepted a job in a remote part of Central India so being a bachelor, he arrived one day by train to the small town hoping to find a house to rent and settle down in his new job.

There was a small Bengali community there that welcomed him because it was so rare to have someone new in their small town so they promised to look for a house to rent and find a servant and a cook.

The young man liked the small town and was excited to start his job there and saw through the window of his host who had offered him tea, a house on a distant hill quite outside the town. It was a white house and quite visible in the full moon.

When he asked about the house on the hill and if it was available for rent, his host and others became very quiet and uneasy and said that the house was haunted and no one lived there since a very long time. He should under no circumstances consider living there as no servant and cook will stay there with him.

But the young man was inexplicably drawn to the house on the hill and decided to look at it and see for himself if it was a suitable place for him to rent. He did not believe in ghosts and thought it was all non-sense.

So one day he decided to spend the night there after walking around the property. Behind the house he found very craggy mountainside with jagged rocks and very steep slopes.

Then all of a sudden a dirty old man in rags appeared and shouted at him It is all fake. Go away Go away and laughed hysterically. It was quite odd but the young man thought that it was perhaps some old fool who lived nearby and tried to scare him off the property for some reason.

Then at midnight he woke up feeling that someone was looking at him and was very surprised to see a very beautiful young woman dressed in rich clothes and jewelry motioning him to follow her silently.

Like sleep walking he woke up and followed the girl who showed him many rooms in the villa where there were lots of people merry making in some rooms that were richly decorated with silk and lighted with numerous oil lamps and chandeliers.

He could not shake off the feeling that somehow he knew this girl but could not figure out where and how he had met her or when.

Then all of a sudden the girl vanished into thin air and all was the same as before. The rooms were locked and the corridors were dirty and dusty with cobwebs everywhere.

Then he noticed that the fountain in the garden that was totally dry came alive all of a sudden and there were many beautiful girls all richly dressed were cavorting and giggling but again they disappeared like a mirage and the fountain was dry and full of leaves like before.

He went back to town the next day and told everyone what he had experienced the night before but they all pleaded with him not to go back there because nothing good would come out of it. The place was haunted and full of ghosts who live there and were up to no good.

But the young man went back again and saw the young girl again who was trying to tell him a story by gestures only. He was a very courageous young man but his servant and cook all ran away due to fear.

Anyway the long and short of this story is that he had fallen in love with this young girl in his previous life long ago when he was sent by the Nawab to buy this girl from the trader who sold kidnapped women as told in the previous story and together they ran away somewhere.  The Nawab was furious that this fellow had run away with the most beautiful woman that he had bought for his harem so sought vengeance. Eventually the young man and the girl were captured and brought to the villa of the Nawab.

Then one night they tried to escape but they were chased so the spooked horse fell into the ravine behind the palace and they died together.

Since then the scene of chase and death was reenacted by the ghosts on the same night each year which was during the full moon. This time the ghosts were out to kill the real young man during the full moon that was coming up shortly so the girl pleaded with him to get away before it happened.

The young man came to his senses in the nick of time and ran away from the haunted place where the stones were hungry for his blood.

These two stories that I heard a long time ago underline one important fact. It is known to historians that the Moslem rulers kept large harems that they filled with beautiful women captured from various countries and kept as virtual slaves albeit in luxury. The slave traders were very active to supply the girls because there was such a great demand for them.

Their debauchery had no limits because although by their laws they could marry only four women, there was no limit to the number of concubines they kept hence the harem. Often the concubines plotted their off springs to be the ruler but that is perhaps another subject for a blog someday.

  

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

 

Degeneration of culture

Synopsis: We see the degeneration of culture in many parts of the world due to to outside influence that diminishes the values in any culture that was traditionally held dear. It is a phenomenon that needs countermeasures so that the cultures are kept intact and passed on to the next generation.

Degeneration of culture

thZ6T5RBW5

Source : Google photo

Degeneration of culture

All over the world I see the degeneration of everything nice in a culture that people still practice and continue to pass on to the next generation. People are nothing without their valued traditions and culture that they strive to keep as a source of pride that defines them.

You see this pride in Japan and in Mexico. You see it in all people who display this pride in their culture through fiestas, through a show of hospitality and through their manners and their generosity toward strangers. They show it in the refined way they talk, prepare their food and dress.

The culture is what defines a certain people and makes them known to the rest of the world. People from all over the world visit other countries to know the people and participate in the overt expression of the culture of the country through their festivals and food, through their rituals that may be religious in nature or not.

Millions of pilgrims descend on the city of Allahabad every 12th year to participate in the worlds’ largest religious fair there called the Maha Kumbha Mela and are amazed at the vivacity and joyfulness of the month long festival that has no equal anywhere. They see for themselves a great aspect of the Hindu culture that is open, tolerant, welcoming and all-embracing creating a brotherhood and sisterhood among strangers.

We were fascinated by the dances of the Aztecs performed in their dazzling attires and colorful feathers at the Palace of Bellas Arte in Mexico City that was nothing short of wonderful. They glittered on the stage and showed great pride in their culture through the ballet, the dances, the music and clothes.

If you go to Spain during their tomato festival, you will be amazed at the joyfulness of the Spaniards who throw truckloads of tomatoes at each other and enjoy getting dirty. I would not run in front of wild and aggressive bulls like they do but that is a part of their culture when they let their guard down and just enjoy life even if it is tinged with danger at times.

If you visit India during the colorful Holi festivals, you will be drenched by the spray of colored water or smeared with colored powder just for fun once a year and later embraced by total strangers who will give you a bear hug and put sweets into your mouth.

If you are in Japan during their Bongodori festival, you will be invited to join with them while they dance around the drummers in circle in their colorful yokattas and kimonos.

Nothing defines a people like their culture because the culture of people is so different from each other and so unique.

I had the personal experience of visiting many countries and have come to appreciate the culture of the people in a way most tourists can’t and miss out altogether.

People do not travel to other countries just to gawk at concrete jungle and the slums that are hidden or not so hidden between the tall buildings. Every country has them and the locals are not proud of them but that is the reality.

But the same people rich or poor come alive during their festivals when they get a chance to forget their day to day misery, their poverty, their crime ridden societies, their mafias, their abandoned street children who scrounge for food in the garbage bins like feral dogs and cats.

The culture and the visual aspect of their culture through fiestas and carnivals and religious fairs therefore act like a valve of the pressure cooker that lets out steam when the pressure is great. It is the time to enjoy and let the guards down.

We were in Port au Prince in Haiti during their annual Mardi Gras festival and watched how people danced in the streets in very colorful dresses in total abandonment joyfully although this joy was only temporary and aided by the liberal doses of rum they sipped constantly. It is a very poor country that was run by a dictator who suppressed people through the use of the militia called the Ton Ton Macoutes  but the Haitians chose to forget all their poverty and hopelessness during the Mardi Gras.

So I come to the part where I want to write about how the culture degenerates and destroys the identity of people as I see it in many countries.

First it happens through the media like the television where they run shows where anything goes and nothing is a taboo including shows where women appear in very skimpy clothes, where jokes are repeated by the stars that are racist or show disregard for anything decent in life, where lip synching is considered normal and quite acceptable, where vulgar imitation of some popular shows abroad is normal and acceptable, where the shows are meant to be just revenue earners with a populist angle.

Such shows degenerate the culture of any country because it has a wide impact on viewers including children. The poor quality shows just to fill the air time 24 hours a day only exacerbates the problem. I will exclude the 24 hour channels of Bible thumpers who openly castigate other faiths and people and the junk selling channels that offer you useless things that come in 6 easy payments and store under the bed. They are a part of the problem and not solutions no matter what they claim.

One can switch the channels or shut off the TV but the problem of degeneration of the culture as expressed through poor quality programs through the media continues. It pervades every aspect of life of people. It teaches people that normal body smell is bad so you should buy the expensive deodorants. It teaches people not to sweat by walking or working. It tells people that dark skin is not good so apply the skin whitening products every day. It tells people that it is ok for women to walk around in very tight mini shorts and blouses that show more than they cover because thanks to the media, we now live in a “anything goes” society where there are no limits to indecency, to the narcissism, to greed, for insensitive behavior towards others like making noise in restaurants, talking loudly on cell phones in cinemas, not giving a seat to the elderly or infirm on a bus etc.

I know that behind this constant onslaught on the culture of people is the greed of capitalism that pushes to sell their products everyday by inundating you with ads in the TV and other media. The TV people make a lot of money from these ads and are not concerned how it impacts the culture of people and teaches them wrong values that are then accepted as normal.

So a normal human being of dark skin who walks to work and sweats in the process , who has normal un shampooed hair and who does not use skin whitener or deodorant is not normal  so he or she must buy these products to look better. The normal look and smell and sweat is no longer fashionable so one must be fashionable in order to be acceptable.You see the women in tv ads constantly sniffing their under arms and making faces thus sending a powerful message that normal body smell is bad.

The problem with this sort of aggressive advertising and constant push for the capitalistic way of life is that most people in most of the countries are normal people who go about their daily business of living in a normal way who cannot afford or do not care about their skin color or hair or their body smell.

I know that I don’t but I am an educated person who is not easily swayed by the ads in the TV no matter how easily the junk folds and can be stowed away. I work in the sun and sweat and am not concerned that my skin is dark but there are millions who start to think less of themselves because of the TV ads. They are simply ashamed being what they are because that is what those shampoo girls with shiny hair are telling you.

This is where it starts to have an adverse effect on the culture of people. People who are generally speaking nice to others, gentle and compassionate to elderly, sensitive to their surroundings and do not make noise or disturb others, who are kind and helpful to strangers and who are hospitable now are slowly being transformed into insensitive, narcissistic, careless, vulgar, noisy, indecent, unkind, immoral and apathetic people thus shedding their good values.

It reminds me of the missionaries who told the African women that they should wear clothes that cover up their breasts because it is the proper thing to do. So the women who are naturally bare breasted and are not conscious of it start to cover up and stink more in the process. Some wore wire bras that cut into their flesh and made scabs that got infected but the missionaries pushed their agenda relentlessly to “civilize the natives.”

The media does the same. It pushes its agenda of making people more civilized in the name of capitalism as if the people were not civilized before the TV or radio.

Now I see the pernicious effect of this constant assault on the values of people in the way people behave towards others. Their culture taught them to be nice to others all the time and not some of the time when it suited them but now it seems that each man is for himself and hell with the rest.

You see it when no one gives an obviously old and ailing woman a seat in the bus or train. You see it when some people bully their way into a line where people are patiently waiting for their turn. You see it when someone cuts you to get into a parking lot and shouts insults when you get there first. I see it in the way the immigration clerks at the airports look at you with contempt and ask impolitely the purpose of your visit and how long you intend to stay and want to see how much money you have on you.

I see it in students showing disrespect to their teachers and elders. I see it in people who pass by or watch while a woman is assaulted in public and do nothing. I see it in people who loot the belongings of a person who has an accident and bleeds to death but do not call the police or hospital. This is how a culture degenerates and changes people.

I am told that in Scandinavian countries, no one locks his doors because there is no crime of thievery. People pay what they owe and show respect to elders and raise their children with good values they themselves practice.

There was a time when most countries were like them where honesty, hard work, selflessness and care and concern for others was normal.

Now we are in the struggle for survival and have forgotten the nicer things in life called values because now it is the greed for money and material well beings.

May be I am old fashioned but does greed and avarice make a people noble? Does immorality in the name of expediency, cheating and lying make people great? Do crooked politicians who get elected using hate as their mantra lift a country to a higher level of moral standards where they themselves fail so miserably?

Culture is what defines people and shows what is noble in them. A degeneration of any culture anywhere is sad because the improvement of living standard at the cost of such degeneration is regrettable. It is like a loss that can never be recuperated.

I think I will go and live among the bushmen of Kalahari in my next life. They are noble people and have figured out long ago what is evil and avoid it like a coke bottle.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

Gabar Buri

Synopsis: There are many traditional healers in all parts of the world who render a great service to poor people by healing them of their illnesses at a minimum cost and who are selfless people who often give medicines free. Gabar Buri was one of them but she was a charitable soul whose knowledge in plants and herbs died with her.

Gabar Buri

th0NRI5K3K

Source : Google photo

Gabar Buri

She was simply known as Gabar Buri meaning the old woman from Gaba. She was old when  my Ma was young meaning she was probably born in the village of Gaba in Bengal sometime in late 1870s.

Just like most women at that time she was also illiterate but she knew remedies for all kinds of ailments that she obtained from plants because she was a living encyclopedia of plants and herbs. Such knowledge usually came down from her mother or grandmother.

Once she found a man full of body sores that was full of pus and bled. He was in terrible pain and discomfort. She then asked someone to build a platform with bamboo  a bit off the ground under which she put a cauldron of hot water on a slow burning fire. Into this boiling water she then threw all kinds of herbs, leaves and roots she had collected very early in the morning after taking a bath and wearing clean clothes. She then asked this sick man to sit on the platform totally naked but loosely covered with a blanket.

The medicated vapor from the cauldron soon soaked the man from head to foot. She repeated this procedure over the next few days. His body sores started to heal and disappeared completely over a short period of time.

She was eagerly sought after by anyone who had an ailment of sorts and she was able to help such people. She was a herbalist who died with all her knowledge of plants because no one took note of the plants and their names. How could they ? They were also illiterate and knew nothing of plants and herbs.

All over the world there are such men and women who know a great deal about the medicinal values of plants and help the sick where no doctor or modern medicine is available or too costly for the poor. In Africa you can find such herbalists in many rural areas who can cure a great number of sick people with their potions, ointments and a concoction of herbal medicine they prepare with great care and empathy.

We all know that most of the modern medicine come from plant extracts that the modern chemists constantly search for. Once the medicinal properties of such plants are known, then a new medicine is prepared, tested and released in the market for enormous profit.

The pharmaceutical companies claim that they spend an enormous amount of money in developing a drug so they have to recover the cost-plus the profit so they price their products accordingly. There is no upper limit to their greed so they make sure no one can come up with a similar medicine and often take generic medicine makers to court to protect their market.

But the herbalist in a poor African village who cures people is happy with just a chicken or a basket of corn. The doctors call them quacks and unlicensed practitioners of medicine and often create problems for them through tougher legislations and courts. In the Philippines the doctors have made powerful cartels to protect their source of income so they have the monopoly on certain treatments from which they make enormous profit.

Seldom  these doctors go to rural areas to practice because it is not profitable for them to do so. It has therefore become very costly for the average person to seek medical help because they are not covered by insurance. The private hospitals can chalk up enormous bill for a very simple treatment by running unnecessary tests and calling on numerous doctors who all charge hefty fees.

Often such doctors suggest surgery when it is not warranted and charge a staggering fee that they insist on getting paid in cash by the patient. They ignore the medical insurance by saying that their fee is already discounted and they can’t wait for the hospitals to pay them for their services. All over the world the poor suffer as a result of the high cost of medicine and the greed of the doctors.

When I was a child, I got my ankle cut by the bicycle chain so it became very painful to walk. The dirt and grease of the bicycle chain got into the wound and infected it so it was full of pus and bleeding. My father then took me to a Moslem traditional doctor called Hakim to get the wound treated. The hakim was an old man with white flowing beard and hair and he looked like an angel to me.

He cut the dead skin with a very sharp knife and cleaned the wound meticulously with medicated cleaning solutions and soap. Then he applied a white cream that he himself prepared, gave me some to apply later and sent me home. My father paid him perhaps a dollar which was not much. The wound healed in no time at all and now there is no trace that I ever had a wound on my ankle.

These hakims and the herbalist do an enormous service to the poor all over the world but are little appreciated by the doctors who call them quacks.

There was a time in Europe when the Inquisition burned these people alive by calling them witches who helped people. Many thousands of such innocent people were killed in the name of Christ although Christ himself was a healer.

Now some countries like Cuba and India have become leaders in the manufacture of generic drugs that the poor people can afford so the powerful drug companies supported by their governments constantly battle the generic drug makers because they cut into their profits. Luckily the governments of Cuba and India among others protect the generic drug makers and encourage the wide distribution of such drugs through the hospitals.

In India, anything you buy in the market be it a match box or generic drug has its price stamped on it so that no one can over charge. I wish all countries adopt such laws to protect the rights of poor people but the capitalistic system in America and Europe does not favor such laws.

There are strong lobbies put up by the pharmaceutical companies to defeat any bill that goes against their interest which is to make enormous profit. They generously fund the election and reelection campaigns of politicians so that they will work in their favor.

Michael Moore made a documentary highlighting the problems of healthcare in his country where millions of poor Americans cannot afford the healthcare insurance. The Obamacare  has tried to solve this problem but now the people in power are hell-bent to dismantle the Obamacare leaving poor people without help just like before.

In The movie Moore made, he showed that a group of very sick Americans went to Guantanamo in Cuba to seek the help of the American doctors there but they were chased off by the gun-toting guards. So they went to Havana not knowing where to seek help.

The Cubans are very friendly people so they guided them all to a modern hospital where the doctors and nurses took immediate care of their problems and gave them practically free treatment and very low-cost generic drugs to take home. The Americans were in tears when they were all given bag full of gifts as well as a goodwill gesture because back home they were treated like dirt . But Michael Moore is vilified by the pharmaceuticals and politicians for making such a film and call him all kinds of names. To me and to all the poor people of this world, he is a hero.

You can appreciate the service the herbalists and the so-called quack doctors render to the poor people when you see the greed of the doctors that has no upper limit.

Another case comes to mind when some Americans went to Colombia to seek help for their sickness from a man who was reputed to be an excellent healer. This man who was an illiterate person  could rip open the flesh with his bare hands. One of the Americans had a tumor under the skin of his right arm that was giving him a lot of trouble and pain so he went to this man to see what he could do. He was surprised when the fellow ripped open the flesh and took out the tumors with his bare hands and closed the cut and put a bandage.  The American was so surprised that there was very little bleeding and almost no pain in the procedure. His cut was not even sutured but healed leaving no marks and the tumors were gone.

This poor man who healed people was harassed by the doctors who said that this man was a quack and had no license to practice medicine. This story was published in the Reader’s Digest. I don’t know what happened to that wonderful healer who did such a great service to anyone who sought it.

It is sad that all doctors who take the Hippocratic oath soon forget it or choose to ignore it due to their greed. The drug companies give the doctors gifts, free trip to Hong Kong and Singapore in return for them to prescribe their expensive drugs.

So I salute the herbalists like the old woman from Gaba who healed sick people all her life. I salute the Colombian peasant who healed people. I salute the Moslem Hakim who treated me and who did it practically for free. I salute all the African herbalists and their immense knowledge. I salute all governments who are pro poor like in Cuba and in India that promote generic drugs. The world is a better place because of them.

This is the Hippocratic oath that is the original version :

170px-Hippocrates_rubens

I swear by Apollo the Healer, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.

To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician’s oath, but to nobody else.

I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.

 Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.

Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I transgress it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.  

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

The blogger’s world

Synopsis : This blog is to show my thanks to all my readers worldwide  and tell them why I started to write in the first place.

The blogger’s world

new-logo1

Source : Google photo

Let me admit that I am no professional writer and I do not write for money or for publicity. It came about when I was working in Burundi and lived alone in a village with solitude for company and a dachshund in the evenings. The village was a small one with no vehicular traffic and few people so it became eerily quiet after the day was over when the birds returned to their nest ,  people too went home and the dogs with no one to howl at became quiet.

My dachshund I named Jumbo was a quiet but naughty type and after messing around whole day in the village chasing chickens and other things came home to get his evening meal and he too retired to sleep on the sack of charcoal that was his favorite bed.  This left me alone pondering on many things while some soft music played on my cassette tape player.

A night watchman kept watch whole night while I slept so I often gave him food. I missed my wife and two kids who lived in the Philippines and could only see them once a year during my home leave so I paid for their visit to Burundi during their summer months.

Karuzi is really a small village with only two stores, a small clinic, one drug store, the agricultural school and the police station. The governor lived just across the street while Jumbo often chased his chickens but Jumbo was not too particular. He chased chickens for fun but not really to kill them although the chickens did not know that so they scattered whenever Jumbo appeared on his ridiculous short legs.

So I started to write my biography so that our kids would know how I spent my childhood and what I did as a young man in Vietnam during the war. I had a computer so writing was not that difficult so one day I finished it and thought of sending the manuscript to the Philippines. I did not show it to anyone.

When I returned to the Philippines in 1994 after quitting my last assignment in Sudan, I set aside the manuscript for a long time and eventually had it printed and bound for my kids.

Many years passed. The kids grew up, went to college nearby and one by one graduated and left for higher studies in Australia and the United States. Once our big house was full but now only my wife Jasmine and I live here. The rooms are empty and the lanai where our German shepherd dog I named Levko stayed is eerily quiet because he died.

The evenings here remind me of that village of Burundi that was so quiet you could start hearing voices which was not a good sign. But here I am not alone because Jasmine is here by my side.

So about one year ago I started to think about sharing my biography with you all readers no matter where you are in this big world and put it out as an e-book ( widbook.com) in five  languages ( English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese) and was very  surprised that more than 10788 readers took to reading it in many countries.  I had also made more than 100 power points on subjects like The art and craft of Africa, of Japan, of China, of India, history of Egypt, India and China, master artists of Australia, Europe, India, China and Japan, arts and crafts of the native Americans and the native Australians, birds of India, Islamic art, wildlife in Africa, India, butterflies, glass wares of Europe and numerous other topics.

So one day I put all of my power points in the internet and uploaded all of them in the One drive where anyone can see them. Then I put all of my photos from various countries and slides into CD and sent the CD to my children.

Then the idea of writing blogs came about because the internet offers wonderful blog sites where anyone can write and post his or her blogs. I had no idea when I started that I will write over 90 blogs someday on various topics and continue to write but what surprised me most was the reception I received from you from all over the world that is nothing short of wonderful.

I will list here all the countries where you reside and continue to read my humble words and give me feedback. The blogs are posted in English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese in websites like wordpress.com, Blogger.com, Wixsite.com, Simplesite.com, Medium.com and Poptype.com apart from my e book in Wid book.com.

The countries where my blogs and biography are read are as follows :

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaizan, American Samoa, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech republic, Denmark ,Dominican republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El salvador, Estonia, EU, Finland, France, French Guiana, Gabon , Georgia,  Germany, Ghana, Greece , Guadaloupe , Guam, Guatemala , Guinea , Haiti,  Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary , Iceland, India, Indonesia ,Iraq , Ireland,  Israel, Italy , Ivory Coast , Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico ,Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherland, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Quatar, Reunion, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa,  South Korea, Spain , Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, U.K, UAR, Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Island, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.   ( Total of 127 countries )

It is truly amazing that in so many countries you my readers are reading what I write and many of you encourage me to continue to write. I am very grateful to all of you no matter where you are for all your support and encouragement because I am just a first time writer and have no experience in doing so.

Someday surely I will stop writing but will always cherish the thought that I have been able to touch your heart all over the world through my writings. Therefore I do not feel alone because I am blessed with such a large number of readers in faraway countries that I will never be able visit in my life time but I feel that a bond is created between us that will endure.

I thank all of you who have read my blogs 7232 times and continue to do so every single day. If the Google translation I use to make blogs in German, Spanish, French and Japanese are not up to the mark then just forgive me. A reader from Spain told me that the Google translation has improved dramatically since they have started using AI (artificial intelligence) guided neural translation which is much better than the literal translation they previously used. I hope you will help me improve them if you feel the need.

Blogging is way to share with the world what is in your head. The internet allows you to do that in a way that was not possible a while ago. The blog community constantly posts blogs about how to improve your blog, how to get more people to read them, how to better present the theme and the graphics and so on.

Honestly I have never followed any of their advice because I feel that people who like what I write will share them with their friends. Now sharing has been made easier through the Google + and various social media like the facebook, twitter etc.

I have encouraged many of my friends to write about their rich personal experiences they acquired in many countries and share them with the world but so far I have not been able to succeed with them.

Once I was in Phnom Penh where I met a lady near the Toul Sleng torture center where the Khmer Rouge people killed thousands of innocent people. It is a haunted place where the torture tools and the thousands of photos of the victims are still found reminding you what horrors took place there.

The lady told me that she and her whole family suffered in their hands during that dark period so I told her to write her story so that it could be shared with the world. She told me that she spoke only a little English and could not really write anything in English but I persisted so finally one day her first chapter came through the e mail. It was a brave effort of a woman who really could not write anything in English so I edited it and sent it back to her for approval.

Thus little by little she kept writing and I kept editing the chapters so one day it was finished and I put it on the net. It is a tragic story written by a woman who suffered a great deal.  It is now published as the Rising from the Ashes by Sivath.  So read it in my WordPress.com site and send your feedback. I will then forward them to her.

I have written about many people who made a difference in my life and in the life of others. It is my way of honoring them by bringing their stories to you. Many such people are dead but I was able to put out their stories in the internet so that my readers could share them and know about them. No one did anything for them but I could not keep quiet. You will read about many such people in my blogs although I do not name them. Only I mentioned the name of the pioneer of the green revolution in Asia Dr.Surajit Kumar De Datta in the blog called The Unsung hero which many of you have read and now know that he is a great scientist. He was also my mentor.

We all have the desire to tell our stories but most just tell it to their friends or none at all which is a great a loss. I believe that if you have something worth writing about then people will read them. Thanks once again for being with me. Cheers.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

Etymology of words

Synopsis : Most people have no clue about the origin of thousands of words they use in their language but the languages borrow heavily from the original sources so this blog gives some interesting examples in how the English language has borrowed words.

Etymology of words

1

Source : Google photo

It is always amusing to learn the etymology of words that have been assimilated into a language over a long period of time leaving people no clue about where the words originated . Most people do not even know what etymology means let alone how words evolve and become a part of their mother tongue.

I have been curious about the origin of many English words and found out that many words commonly used in English have their origin in the Indian languages like Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Malayalam etc. English as a language has become rich by taking words from many sources over a long  period of time but their origins are often shrouded in the mist of time until a language expert comes along and points out the source.

Once I pointed out this fact to an American Peace Corps fellow working in my village in Burundi where I worked when he snickered and asked arrogantly what Indian words English had borrowed showing his ignorance and the flippant way he asked.

Let us today shed some light on this subject and discover many interesting facts on how languages become rich in their vocabulary by borrowing and assimilation. Let us go over to Devon countryside in England where two old India hands are sitting in their veranda in their pyjamas and sipping toddy while discussing their good old days in India where they had served and how they could not do without going to gymkhana . Their modest bungalow was filled with Indian memorabilia but they prized their hookah that they enjoyed smoking together. They were the pukka sahib who had gained their experience in India and were considered experts or old India hands.

When their wives asked what they should wear to the party in the evening that they had promised to go to, one of them said that his cummerbund needs pressing and his jodhpurs as well while she is at it. She then winked and said the price was a case of chutney and dal so that she could put up a decent dinner with moghlai korma and chapatis to which they happily agreed.  They thought that colorful bandannas and bangles would make them look blighty good.

The 18 words highlighted are all of Indian origin. Wikipedia will show you numerous such words that came from Indian languages during the British colonial period but new words are coming into vogue all the time.

They talked about how satan had ruined the life of someone they both knew who had taken to alcohol and ganja in a destructive way and saw no way out of it.  Here alcohol and satan come from Arabic while ganja is from Hindi.

Avatar, Cheetah, cot, cushy, chit, chowkat, dacoit, dekko. dinghy, dungaree, guru, juggernaut, jungle, khaki, karma. lota, loot, mantra, nirvana, punch, pundit, roti, raita, shampoo, thug, typhoon and yoga are from Indian languages like Hindi and Urdu that are now a part of English lexicon. There are many words from Malayalam, Sanskrit, Telegu and Tamil that have found their way into the English language often a bit modified in spelling but there is no need to elaborate it any further.

Let us now consider how other languages fare when it comes to assimilation. In the Philippines the word saksi is used in the TV programs but they do not know that it comes from the Sanskrit word Sakhsi meaning a witness. They also say atsara which comes from the Hindi word achar meaning pickles. If you really dig, you will find many words they have taken from India without even knowing it. Another word they use is guro meaning teacher . It comes from the Sanskrit word Guru. How and when it happened is obscure but all languages borrow words from others to enrich their language or when they can not find an equivalent word of their own.

There are people who take pride in inventing their own words. Thus the Vietnamese people who had no word for ice in their language call it nuoc da meaning stone water. They call a helicopter may bay truoc thanh literally meaning a flying machine that goes up and down so when word is non-existent, a simple description will do.

Similarly the Filipinos call a lizard butiki because it makes tik tiki sound or owak for a crow because it makes oaak oaak sound. Bengalis call the lizard tik tiki for the same reason so there are numerous words that come about because people just invent it by imitating the sound of it.

The French were delighted when they coined the word amerisage which came about when astronauts landed in the ocean returning from their space flights so a word is created when the need arises. No one willingly landed in the ocean before the astronauts so there was no need for the word. They say atterisage for planes landing on an airstrip.

I will now see how my mother tongue Bengali has borrowed from other languages. They say hanspatal ( from Hospital ), ketli ( from kettle), towalay ( from towell), sykel ( from bicycle) etc.  This sort of thing happens to all languages. English has borrowed heavily from Latin, Greek, Arabic, Indian languages as mentioned above and it is an ongoing process making it a language of choice now. Almost everywhere you will find people who speak, read and write English well that has made English the language of the commerce, science and entertainment  worldwide.

The assimilation does not stop at borrowing the words but goes on to influence the names as well. When I was in Saigon which is now called Ho Chi Minh City, I was discussing the influence of Sanskrit in the names the Cambodians take. The good example was that of Prince Norodom Sihanouk who had a perfectly Cambodian name but it has its origin in Sanskrit. Norodom is Nor uttam in Sanskrit  meaning a superior man and Sihanouk is Sinha meaning lion and hanu meaning jaw in Sanskrit so his name translated into the Superior man with lion jaw. I bet many Cambodians will chuckle at knowing this but such is the way etymology works.

You probably did not know that albatross, alchemy, algebra, admiral, adobe, alcove, algorithm, alkali, alidate, ambergris, anilene, apricot. artichoke, arsenal, assasssin, attar, average, azimuth, azure, benzene, borax , almanac, camphor, carat, caravan, caraway, chemistry, cipher, coffee, cotton, crimson,damask,elixir, kohl  etc. have come from Arabic.The list is long and interesting .

Anyone who studies languages and is curious will find a wealth of information on the etymology of words, how they develop and become part of another language over a period of time. I also think that some words become dated and are no longer used as better or more current words replace them. In a war movie an American colonel offered libation to anyone who would show some courage. It is a dated word although some people still use them. Words in use 30 or 40 years ago are now discarded just like old model cars . Now we live in the era of abbreviations like LOL. OMG, ASAP, THNX etc. because texting has brought about these abbreviations for the ease of use so the language suffers.

Now the teachers complain that the students are such poor spellers and with poor grammar that makes them wonder how they will fare in the modern world. If you make such mistakes in your resume, chances are you will not get a job.

The language is a skill like driving.  You get better with practice but it means one has to constantly learn and improve the vocabulary and the use of words, its nuances and its oblique meanings at times. Those who insist on literal translations never get past the first base. The beauty of learning any language well depends on the speaker’s or the writer’s ability to enthrall people. Great orators have this skill. I will not mention Hitler but that is what I just did. Oops.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

The world of clairvoyants and wizards

Synopsis : The world of clairvoyants and wizards is full of magic that we do not comprehend therefore remains mysterious. The magic can be used for good or bad purpose so the blog explores the magical world of wizards here.

The world of clairvoyants and wizards

7e0eed5b50d9c8dc868edb89d4020f40

Source : Google photo

We have always been interested in knowing the future because we are always fascinated by the unknown. Throughout the history of mankind this fascination was found giving rise to clairvoyants and people who could predict the future.

A very famous clairvoyant comes to mind in the person of Nostradamus but there have been many others. Kings and Queens consulted them, rich people spent their fortunes on them to know if their ships will return home safely with riches, the tyrants and despots consulted them so that they could know how long they could hold on to their power.

The Mughal emperor Akbar always consulted his astrologer who could tell him if his projects and wars would succeed so they looked up to the stars to read what they could. Others looked into tea leaves and coffee mugs to see the future. Still others read the lines on the palm and could see the future.

Needless to say this fascination about the unknown has given rise to a veritable industry of palm reading and tea cup and coffee cup readings everywhere but I suspect they are out to make money from gullible people and are fakes. Often the uneducated and poor are the clients.

There was a woman in the village who could tell the farmer how many cows he had and how one was stolen but the farmer did not know that the woman was a charlatan and had spies in the audience who milked the farmer of all the information he could get and whisper into the ears of the old harridan.

I saw the same thing in Haiti where a woman who lost her money and typewriter went to a female houngan to find out who was the thief. A houngan is a voodoo priest. This woman was accompanied by another woman who went inside the shack of the houngan and came out after a few minutes.

Right there I could smell a rat. The houngan knew all about the story as if by her divine power and suggested a severe punishment for the thief if only a few bottles of rum and some money were produced. This sort of thing goes on everywhere and some crooks make a decent living out of it because they are experts in their trade and know how to convince someone to part with his money.

One fellow was approached by an itinerant “holy man” called sadhus in India who took some dirt and rubbed it in his palm and offered a fellow to taste it. It tasted sweet like sugar. Now this fellow was an ex-military who was not easily conned so he said that he had a bit of savings that he could offer the sadhu if only he could teach him how to turn dirt into sugar. He would be a millionaire in no time.

Now the fake sadhu was in big trouble and sought a way out of the mess so disappeared hastily. Another showed me his pen and squeezed Ganga water out of it but I was too crafty to fall for his trick so he went away to try his luck elsewhere.
So as long as people want to know what the future holds, they will always seek the answer somewhere because this fascination comes from the fear. Will he pass the tough exam, will he get the promotion, will he find a beautiful wife, will he have sons instead of daughters that his wife always produces?

If you go to any railway station in India, you will find a fellow sitting with his parrot that promptly pulls out a card from a stack he holds and reads the answer written on it to anyone for a fee of course and the trained parrot gets some tid bits to eat each time.

Now it may be a parrot or a monkey or something else. The point is that there are people who will believe even a parrot to tell his future so desperate they are.
There are others looking into crystal balls and see all manners of things there while others prefer tarot cards but the aim of these crooks is to lighten your wallet so go to them with some skepticism and prepare to bargain a bit. You will be amazed how much money you can save.

Some people however, take palm reading very seriously indeed. I had an aunt who was known to read palms so one day she pulled out my hand and started looking at what was supposed to be written there. I was perhaps 19 years of age and not really a believer in such things but she told me that my wife will come from a far land and I will have two beautiful children, perhaps one boy and one girl someday.

I was just a student then and did not even have a girl friend so it all sounded so farfetched but she said that that is what she read in my palm. I let it pass but years later I ended up here in the Philippines where I met my wife and we now have two wonderful kids. Yes one boy and one girl but how my aunt knew these things, I have no idea. May be it was just a lucky guess but she did say that my wife will come from a far country.

Another fellow who had some notoriety in palm reading one day came to our house and abruptly pulled out my hand to read my palm lines. He peered at it for some time and then just as abruptly got up to leave without saying anything so I asked him what he saw that was so disturbing?
Was I somehow related to Stalin or Gengis Khan or what? He finally said that my hand showed that I was an unusual person with very strong fate lines and decisive mind. But I already knew that so what else he saw? He would not say so even today I wonder if I could have been a millionaire if only tried my luck at lottery or something. May be he did me a favor by not telling.

Now I come to the serious part of this blog.
There was a holy man in our home town who was a real saintly person and gave blessings to anyone who sought it. Every Sunday a huge crowd would gather in his house to seek his blessings so he sat there whole morning giving someone a talisman for his problems or a flower to others and still more people came.
I too went to him once to seek his blessings before going to Vietnam so he just placed his hand on my head and muttered a few mantras. He did not ask my name or who I was but I am sure he could not have remembered me out of hundreds.

Many years later I was in Saigon when the offensive by the Vietnamese called Tet offensive started right at the airport where I went to catch a flight. The guns blazed away and bullets flew everywhere but we stayed on our belly for a long time and in the evening decided to go back home because there was no flight taking off.

I was with two other American friends so made it back safely home which was not very far. At this time the postal service was disrupted for many months due to the fighting so I could not send or receive any letter from India. My mother was very worried because she read in the news about the fighting in Saigon and did not get any letter from me so she decided to ask the holy man who had blessed me long ago about what he could tell.
He looked up with his big eyes and said to my Ma that I am safe and with two people. A letter will soon come.

Sometime later when I visited India, she asked me where I was on that day in Saigon when the fighting broke out. I told her that I was quite safe and with two American friends. How the holy man knew all this, I still do not know but obviously he was a clairvoyant who could see things into the future just like Nostradamus.

Nostradamus was known to be a clairvoyant because he wrote down his predictions in some 942 quatrains most of which have come to pass. He did so secretly because the Inquisition could have burned him at stake if they thought he was a sorcerer of sorts. They were quite liberal in their interpretation of who was a sorcerer so I am sure Nostradamus knew the danger he was in but still he wrote it all down 400 years ago.
His famous incident was when he kissed the hem of a poor itinerant padre in his village when the surprised padre asked him for the reason. Nostradamus answered that he was kissing the hem of the future Pope. That poor padre did become a Pope although at that time he did not know it at all.

Now I come to the wizards. I think the wizardry has something to do with magic, black or white. In India there was a time when people practiced what was called black magic to do harm to people. It is out of fashion now what with the education and prosperity but there are still rural isolated areas in the country where this practice persists.

First I will mention the Ojhas. They are found in many parts of the country and can save a person from a deadly snake bite. People who are bitten by venomous snakes in rural areas  often are unable to reach the medical facilities to get the anti-venom treatments because they are too remote. My own grandfather died of snake bite in a remote village late at night where no help was available.

Now I heard this story from my sister who is not particularly a reliable person when it comes to storytelling because she often embellishes the story with her own a bit but she said that this story was true.

A young girl in her small town was bit by a cobra in the kitchen where the snake had taken refuge so the girl fell down in a spasm and did not have much time to live but an Ojha came to her rescue and asked the snake why it had bit the girl? The snakes usually do not hang around to see the effect of their handi work but perhaps this one did.

The snake answered that she had stepped on it so out of reflex it had bit. The ojha said that the girl was young and innocent so the snake should let her live and remove all the poison from her writhing body but the snake would not relent. Finally a deal was struck with the snake who said that she will convulse 36 times brutally and then she will live.

So the ojha asked four young men with no malice in their heart to come forward to hold the girl down because in the process she might rip her clothes. The rural girls do not wear underwears you know.The four strong men then held her down while she convulsed violently but finally it was over and she became numb.

I have no idea how an Ojha talks to a snake and understands what the snake says so there must be a snakese language somewhere but the girl lived and the story of her miraculous recovery spread far and wide.

I met a gentleman in the Philippines who told me that the Ojhas know how to get rid of the poison but they take a terrible vow which they cannot break at the peril of their life. They vow to reach the victim at any time day or night, near or far if they hear of such an incident and they must never accept money for it. The ojha told the gentleman in question that he could teach him the secret on the condition that he must take such a vow that he can never break even he is sick in bed.

An American fellow who lived in West Africa told me that he saw a shaman take the poison of a scorpion from the arm of a fellow by simply tracing the poison out with his finger and out the finger tips while muttering something.

But what is most interesting is the story published in the National Geographic with beautiful colored photos of the shaman who can kill a chicken from a distance just by making the gesture of twisting its neck and the chicken drops dead. He then proceeds to cook the chicken in a hollowed out gourd but the fire does not burn the gourd and the bird is nicely cooked. Just Google and you may find such photos.

In Mali there is a place where the shamans practice this sort of wizardry when they lift a grass roof they build on the ground and then lift it to the walls by magic only. You may believe such stories or not but there are people who know such things. If a chicken can be killed just by a hand gesture from a distance, imagine what they can do to you if you happen to cross swords with them.

If you read the story of King Arthur, you will know the wizardry of Merlin on whom the king always depended to give him good counsel.
There are  a whole lot of things that can be considered paranormal and can’t be explained away by scientific reasoning. We know that ghosts and lost souls exist. I wrote a blog on it. What we do not know and perhaps do not want to know is how much power such shamans and wizards have and how they use it.
It is an entirely different realm where no sane person ventures willingly. May be we are better off with tarot cards or the parrot. They seem to be harmless.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

I love you R2-D2

Synopsis : The world of technology that gives us computers,skype and touch screen cell phones is a world of fascination for anyone. It has made our world smaller and people are closer to each other through the marvelous technology but it also has a downside that should not be overlooked. The blogs throws some light on this subject.

I love you R2-D2

r2d2-and-c3po-star-wars-218431

Source : Google photo

Once we were at the Disney World in Orlando with our two small children before going to Haiti where I had taken a job. The kids were excited to visit Disney World even if they were tired after their very long flights from the Philippines because they saw the Mickey mouse, Tigger and other characters , posed with them to take photos and saw everything with their curious eyes.

At one point we were ushered into a large auditorium full of people when a beautiful young girl showed up to explain to us all how the Disney world worked and how behind the scene , a large array of super computers worked tirelessly to control every aspect of the Disney World.

She then pressed a button on her remote control and the massive blue curtain started to part revealing a very large room full of computers. She then spread her left arm over the computers thus creating a rainbow and walked on the rainbow to reach the computers. In the process she had become small and only then we realized that she was a hologram from the very start but in astounding 3D in dazzling colors that was so real that no one knew what was coming.

We were ushered into the realm of technology in a seamless way that took our breath away. The girl explained how the computers controlled everything from the sale of tickets to rides, to the crowd control, to food delivery, to lights and security. We learned how these computers kept an eye on all aspects of the Disney World all the time and reacted quickly when something was not working well and alerted the crew so that the problem could be solved quickly.

It controlled the emergency services in case an accident happened and alerted the hospitals right away. It kept an eye through CCTV cameras everywhere and assessed the situation in real time and took measures that were needed.

Then the curtains closed slowly and the girl reappeared stepping down from the rainbow and became the full size girl we first saw and bowed her head to the thundering applause. It was very impressive although to the kids it seemed all so magical. We too thought it was so magical.

We have grown up watching Star Wars and R2-D2 and C-3PO and grown to love those robots that not only could talk, walk and had a sense of humor but were fun to watch. R2-D2 could only chirp like a bird but could project holograms and do many magical things while C-3PO constantly nagged R2-D2 thinking it may do something foolish and get into trouble which it often did.

What we still do not understand is how much robots have taken over many routine works in factories and do myriad of chores that may seem to you and me nothing short of miraculous. All you have to do is to visit a modern car assembly plant somewhere if they let you in and watch in amazement how the robots assemble cars, weld all the parts together with uncanny precision and watch the welding through its camera eyes and detect the slightest fault and re weld the spot. You watch how the robots spray and paint the cars in a funny dancing or zigzag way and miss nothing in the process.

Then other robots attach the wheels and do numerous other chores before they  push the finished shiny car to the next station.

Then you may visit another factory in Japan where numerous robots work 24 hours a day seven days a week to manufacture car parts with computer controlled precision on massive machines. The process is so automated that a supervisor just watches the process with a bored look because he has nothing to do but watch.

If you visit the massive shipyards in Korea or China, you may see how the robots weld massive steel plates together to give the shape to a huge ship under construction.

So robots perform numerous tasks that may be at times difficult and even dangerous but with precision and care because they are programmed to do so. Behind every robot is an expert who writes the programs that run the robot and tell it what to do and how to do it.

There was a time when such tasks were done by people who were although trained to do it often made mistakes leading to danger because they were tired or sleepy. Assembly line accidents did happen that brought the entire assembly process to a halt until the problem was solved.

There are robots that work in deep mine shafts extracting coals and minerals under conditions where a miner would choke to death due to dust or lack of oxygen but robots are machines that do not tire and can work under such conditions.

Naturally some jobs became redundant as machines took over doing what people did so there was some opposition from workers who felt threatened by the robots but now have accepted that robots do a better job and do it more efficiently than humans. People are being retrained to do other jobs that still need human acumen and dexterity.

The boring and repetitive jobs that are often very tiresome and dangerous are now done by machines so people can do other jobs that are more creative and imaginative but retraining is not as easy as it sounds. Depending on the job, it may require higher education, great deal of experience and understanding how the modern technologies work.

How an algorithm works and what in the world is an algorithm that controls these complex robots? The older generation may not be up to the task so they protest but protest or not the robots are here to stay and gradually will take over more and more complex tasks.

Already robotic cars are being tested where you only just sit and enjoy the ride while the automated car drives by itself and even parks by itself. Now I hear of robotic trucks that will carry goods across the country guided by GPS and computer technology that boggles the mind. Someday there may even be ocean liners being automated this way but I guess I will draw a line when it comes to flying. I will never get into a plane unless I see the captain.

Call me what you like but there has to be a limit to the introduction of the robotics into our lives. May be I am old fashioned but I would like to see a real policeman and not a robot  that may be programmed to shoot first  and ask questions later as if that does not happen with some rogue policemen. I may agree if the robo cops are programmed to be polite and not racists like some policemen.

What scares me most is the concept of introducing robots to fight wars in the future just like what they show in Star war movies. The idea is not so farfetched as it seems. The Japanese have made robots that almost look like human, can walk and talk like humans and may someday take over the war machines.

What interests me more is the introduction of robotic surgery that can do precision surgery that can be very complicated and tiring for humans to do. I have heard that tired surgeons make mistakes that may have severe consequences for the patient. The robotic surgery is already a reality in some hospitals but a lot more needs to be learned about the process and the risks involved.

I know how the automation in watch making created a revolution when a Japanese watch maker called Seiko promoted the idea that a very complicated watch can be assembled by a robot with precision just like a Swiss watch that is still hand assembled.

One American looked curiously at my Seiko in 1969 and appreciated its quality and beauty but did not know that it was assembled by a robot. Now such watches are common and sold in every country except perhaps North Korea but what do they know?

The future of robotics:

We don’t know what the future holds for robotics but there are plenty of hints of things to come like automated cars, trucks, ships and such. Perhaps robots can do some things like healthcare efficiently thus bringing down the cost so that more poor people can afford them.

I know that robot drivers do not text while driving and they do not drink and drive so perhaps such automation can save lives on the road. One fellow hit my car while I was paying my toll fee because he was texting and lost control for a second. I let him go scot free with just a reminder that he should not drive and text at the same time but in other countries there would have been fisticuffs flying for such mischief. I would really like to see robo police catch these miscreants and give them hefty fines and can’t be bribed out of the way.

I would like to see robots someday take over the back breaking jobs of planting rice. I know how hard it is because I have tried it so I have a lot of sympathy for the farmers who work so hard to make a living. Robots in agriculture can be a great help. A lot of such work can be automated. A great robot controlled hydroponic farm can grow tremendous quantities of food safely and pest free.

I would like to see robots take over all the dangerous jobs and free people to do the jobs they will really like to do and not lose their health doing it. They will be a great help in rooting out corruption that eats away at the GDP of every country giving a higher standard of living to people.

May be some day we will have a robo president who will be superefficient ,superintelligent and not corrupt but I guess I am getting ahead of myself here.

The use of technology to solve problems is nothing new but how the technology is used so seamlessly to make automation a reality is very interesting.

So I love you R2-D2. You and C-3PO have not lost your sense of humor. If the Japanese can come up with a robot that has one million jokes in 140 languages in its memory chips then it will be  perfect. Bob Hope would not have liked it but who cares?

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

I am the village bard

Synopsis : The oral tradition of storytelling among some people is still practiced where no written language is available because it is the only way to pass on the past history to the next generation. But we see now this oral tradition is on the decline due to technological changes and spread of education so the bards with their rich knowledge of their history are also vanishing.

I am the village bard

202e04fb6c18d4bcaa73b69b9e67d0cescreen-shot-2014-02-04-at-11-17-41-pm (1)

Source : Google photo

There was a time when people learned their history through the oral tradition of storytelling that was passed on from one generation to the next. It was so because they did not have a written language in which to record the stories. The person who knew all the stories and loved to tell them was the village bard who would gather young people around him under the village tree and fill their curious mind with tales that only he could tell.

There was a time when people lived in isolation and not aware of the outside world because the outside world had not invaded their isolated villages in Africa. That would change in the early part of the 1800 when white missionaries like Dr.Livingstone and many others explored the unknown parts of Africa and discovered a great people rich with their culture, heritage and customs who had never seen a white person.

Sure there were the Arab slave traders who had been in the business since a long time but they considered the native people as savages and good only as a slave to be sold somewhere for a good price. They treated the natives very harshly indeed and were not interested in learning their history and culture because they did not believe that they were capable of great culture and traditions so they learned nothing from them.

The black Africans had great traditions and were once the rulers of legendary kingdoms in what is now known as Zimbabwe where the ancient ruins of their magnificent palaces can still be seen.

The white missionaries who saw the kingdom of Mutesa in what is now Uganda were surprised at the sophistication of the tribes living there who wore finely woven clothes and leather sandals. The palaces and houses were extremely well built and beautiful by a people considered savages and illiterate who were steeped in superstition and ignorance.

But they were not ignorant thanks to the village bard who told them the stories of their past glories and achievements because the oral tradition of storytelling developed as they did not have a written language of their own and they lived in isolation from the outside world.

The Native Americans also were great story tellers .The bard was a highly respected old man who would keep the audience enthralled with his stories that he himself heard from the previous generation. They also made a pictorial history of their people on leather that they prized highly because it was often the only source of information on them.

They enriched the pictorial history by adding more stories as they developed. In other cultures that have become extinct now, people left behind fantastic art painted on cave walls to record their histories and stories thousands of years ago.

You can see these arts in caves on rock faces and other places sacred to the Native Australians who recorded their stories in pictorial forms because they did not have a written language and developed the oral story telling traditions to keep their history alive.

The island people who left their South Pacific islands centuries ago in search for a new home landed in Hawaii in their home made dugout canoes and navigated vast distance in the ocean depending only on their wits and the knowledge of celestial navigation that the white missionaries found hard to believe.

But they too had the oral tradition of storytelling that taught the young people how their ancestors came from far away islands just following the stars for direction to reach Hawaii.

So in all societies the oral tradition of storytelling developed because it was the only way they could preserve their glorious history that they passed on to the next generation.

The Mayas, the Incas and the Aztecs had their story tellers as well but they also relied on carving their stories on stone in hieroglyphs that some anthropologists have started to decipher to learn about their very rich culture and history sometimes in gory details but it was recorded.

The Romans and the Greeks were quite sophisticated in the use of their languages long ago and also wrote their stories in stones for posterity in the form of statuary etc. but remember that the vast majority of the population did not know how to read and write at that time so they listened to the bard to know the history.

The education of the masses in Europe and other parts of the world did not start until the moving types were invented making printing on paper easy and therefore mass produced to educate the masses but that happened only in the 1800s . Before that people were just as illiterate as the Africans so the oral story telling bards were found in Europe as well.

The Egyptians kept the education to the elites just like in India the Brahmins monopolized the scriptures so the rest of the population was deliberately kept illiterate. They understood that the education and literacy among the common people made some of them trouble makers.

The same thing happened in China where only the elites could learn the Chinese alphabets and were employed in the palaces as scribes to record their stories and history but the common people were kept out of it.

Then came the education of the masses through public schools and mandatory learning process that slowly replaced the village bards because now anyone who wanted could learn the alphabets and read.

The Khalifa of Baghdad Haroun Al Rashid so prized the learned people that he gave them lavish gifts in gold and silk and safe passage written on parchment with his signature and royal seal so that they could never be molested by bandits anywhere. In those days the books were hand written and often copied meticulously from Greek, Latin and Egyptian languages and then translated into Arabic and vice versa. Such transcriptions were highly prized and graced the shelves of the libraries of Alexandria and Royal courts in the Middle East.

In India where the written language Sanskrit developed thousands of years ago long before the rest of the world had its scriptures  written in it to be studied exclusively by the Brahmins  and used palm leaves to write on.

With all their sophistication and ingenuity, they did not know how to make paper until the Egyptians showed the way so used the palm leaves that become very brittle after some time and perish. I have seen thousands of such palm leaf documents in South Indian temples and palaces where they are kept in poor conditions that make them deteriorate.

So I come back to the tradition of village story tellers called the bards who still continue this tradition in some parts of the world where the mass education has not taken root but I suspect their days are numbered.

The European educators played a very important role in bringing the education to the common people in Vietnam when they introduced Latin alphabet to write their language thus making it easier for anyone to learn Vietnamese. The Chinese characters they had previously used was difficult to learn .It was the same in Japan where the English or Latin alphabets are now used to write Japanese that even the non-Japanese find easy to follow and learn.

But in many parts of the world, the languages remain oral and not written so the missionaries are hard at work to develop a written language for the people so that they can read the Bible in their own languages. Their motive is purely religious as they try to convert the heathens to Christianity but perhaps the written language can bring in changes that are beneficial to the tribes in Amazon or in the Borneo where they have 20 words for treachery and not a single word for loyalty or honesty.

In India we used to hear the stories of Alha Udal who were two kids who were so brave that they gave their life to protect their loved ones. The bards sang their stories for generations but now the times have changed. Now kids do not know the stories unless it is in their school books. We used to remember the lines of the songs sung in the honor of the Queen of Jhansi who died fighting the British but now the kids do not know it.

The village bards used to sing to children such songs and tell the story of Alha- Udal or Queen of Jhansi but sadly the bards are disappearing everywhere.

Now the trend is mass literacy so the governments build new schools in villages and towns, provide the students free meals, free bicycles and free books so that they have no reason not to attend the schools. Girls go to schools in large numbers now and become college graduates and get good jobs. If you go to Haiti which is a very poor country, you will see hundreds of children in beautiful school uniforms going to schools.

But the mass education comes at a price. In countries where despotic rulers prevail, they tell the writers what to write in the school books and what to omit. This has always been so and I am afraid it will continue in the future.

The bards depended on memory only so they told the stories as they had memorized without any changes or additions but now the history is written by people who want to suppress the truth and teach only what is favorable to them.

So it is a great loss to see the village bards disappear. It is one thing to read something in a book and quite another to hear from a bard under the baobab tree the stories about the past glories and great events.

When I was in Mali in West Africa, I used to sit and enjoy the village camp fires until the wee hours of the morning and watch the bards dance and sing their stories playing their one string guitars entertaining everyone.

Alas the baobabs will live a thousand more years but not the bards.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe