Monday, 27 August 2012

Leisure: Learning from Squatter Children in Mumbai

 Healthy Leisure is Free of Cost

Children of the Squatters in Mumbai
REST is for the body and mind that get tired by Work. However, our internal organs – vital but invisible parts of the body – heart, brain, lings, veins etc continuously work; they can’t take rest, hence they need to remain healthy.

REST COULD COME IN SEVERAL FORMS: sleep, leisure, entertainment, satisfaction... Joy.
Persons of different ages or constitutions may sleep for more or less period of time. Children may sleep for nine to eleven hours, while old people may have five to eight hours of sleep.

Therefore, even while awake we may need rest, in form of leisure. Hence body and mind should not be used for any productive (economic) work; that’s leisure.

This period of time should be spent without any purpose, in peace, that is, not even a thought about the past or the future. Only watch, look at, be aware of the immediate present the NOW (Krishnamurti), wherever one may be, without applying likes – dislikes – dogmas – judgement.

The Third World India and the Fourth World India are rich in folk traditions: arts, crafts, dances, music, folklore are in abundance and in variety, in all regions. There take place in hundreds of fairs, feasts, festivals, pilgrimages which people attend in thousands.

Their schedules, set by traditions, are remarkable. These synchronize with their farming schedules, religious rites and rituals. The places are usually near rivers, lakes, seashores, mountains, groves, deserts… in close proximity of nature.

And the First World India is out to drag them in the market web of so-called progress and development, no matter even if they are marginalised and displaced, in the name of “common good”.
WORK, REST, HEALTH, LEARNING and PROPAGATION are the intrinsic functions of all the species, which are given by NATURE. Hence, in these functions all the living beings have autonomy bestowed upon them by NATURE.
READ More: LCM-4: Perpetual Crave for Rest

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Learning to Learn - Iconic Lesson

Learning from the Squatter Children in Mumbai

Children among Mumbai's Squatters 

'The distinction of "educated" from the "uneducated" is merely technical. It is no longer of degrees of consciousness but more or less of information.' — Anand Coomaraswamy
IN THIS ICONIC PHOTOGRAPH, the children are learning to learn from the elder school-going sister. They are initiated to learn reading and writing language... thus their learning is easier and effective. This is a natural phenomenon among other animals too.

LEARNING, as we know, indeed begins when the child is in the womb. S/he cannot see, but can listen to the sounds in the surrounding environment: mixer-grinder, washing machine, radio-TV...traffic; singing... sound of running water. She can feel mother’s emotions, and the touch and warmth of the oceanic womb.

WORK, REST, HEALTH, LEARNING and PROPAGATION are the intrinsic functions of all the species, which are given by NATURE. Hence, in these functions all the living beings have autonomy bestowed upon them by NATURE.

The living beings include all animals and plants: from bacteria to human animal, from algae to giant banyan /oak trees; there are no exceptions.

This is the Fundamental Law by Nature (call God, if you may wish). Perhaps some call it "Sahaja Dharma" – intrinsic Dharma – in Indian languages. I suppose it refers to humans, but if extended it could apply to all biotic and abiotic entities.

Since this intrinsic functional autonomy is given to the lives by NATURE, there is no other authority or power over it of any person or any man-made institution.

May they be incarnations / prophets, or religions, governments, courts of law (justice?), military, education, economics, trade and commerce etc. All these are somewhere, somehow, directly or by proxy, obliged to the powers by a few among humans. And where there is "power" there comes corruption, ownership, superiority, slavery, terror, extremity, exploitation, destruction, annihilation… brainwashing, may it be physical or mental.

These children offer an iconic lesson in learning to the experts, educationists and Agencies.


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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Sisal blooms in Mumbai City

Going beyond Face value

Sisal at road crossing, Mumbai -1

What luck! It is rare to find sisal on road crossing in Mumbai, and anywhere in the city. Some sensitive artist/ 'landscape designer' used sisal as garden plant at a 'traffic island' on road junction in a cityscape. It is neatly done without obstructing view of the moving drivers and pedestrians.

And I noticed, besides me, there were some other guys too. They were small honeybees, smaller than house flies. I was picking pictures with mobile phone, they were picking honey. (As a kid I used to suck Adulasa flowers for honey at my native village in the mornings.)

Sisal Flowers-2

Sisal is known for its tough long fibres. And villagers use it appropriately. India's biodiversity has many plants that give fibres: coconut, cotton, Ambadi (Hibiscus cannabinus kenaf), silk cotton, banana, pineapple, jute etc.

Sisal leaves give four to five feet long fibre, while branches of Ambadi are a source of 6 to 8 ft long fibres. Farmers, fishermen, adivasi make fishing nets of these fibres.

These fibres last longer than synthetic fibres. More they are used (in water) stronger they get.  On the contrary the nets, made of synthetic thread, in dry conditions, get disintegrated.

The plants in the photos are grown in the confined place.
Looking at the bloom, it is anybody's guess the plants grow on the water and manure supplied from outside.

They don't get anything from the soil – ground bellow. In short, they are dependent on others – the gardeners, garden department, budget etc. How could their growth be without any effect of this artificial environment? In the natural open condition their leaves would have grown longer than five feet.

The birds in cages, fishes in aquariums, potted plants and decorative plants along Mumbai's concrete roads and footpaths, as well as in the homes, also face the same situation.

 What then must be happening to us – the urbanite? Do our cities and housing complexes help us to grow, flower, bloom to our all-round full potential – physical, mental and conscience? Do they provide an opportunity and means of growth of human potential?

Such questions I would ask myself, and also try to find answers myself.
Funny part is: the answer does lie in these questions!
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 6 August 2012

My Enemy Within Me

My Enemy Within Me

...I still believe that people are really good at heart. Anne Frank, "Diary" (14 yrs)

My Enemy Within Me, graphic by Remigius de Souza

In the second half of 1960s I witnessed riots and their effects in parts of Gujarat - cities and villages, particularly Vadodara. During that period I wandered through street and lanes of Vadodara (Baroda).

Vadodara, then, was called 'City of Culture', and Gujarat – a peace loving state.
There were also atrocities taking place against women, low caste and tribal people.It was too much to bear.

The graphic is a collective effect of all the torments. During my travels, I had seen some relics of earlier riots; but that was out of sight!

From childhood at my village I have been moving among people of different castes/classes/creeds/communities. I was interested in their traditional crafts or vocations, and their way of life.

Their vocations had helped the people to sustain, rather than the ruling powers helped them (with exceptions) in India for about thousand years. We speak here about peasants, not elite, social etc. castes, classes and powers.

It was the saint-poets — men and women — of different castes and creeds and vocations, who gave solace and moral courage to people during this period. They were there in many regions of the country.

Now with wide spread industrialization, all that is changing, fast.People are loosing their self-reliance, their identity, and with that their surviving social values too.
The riots between different social identities, too, is a fall out of the economic change with its arms — industry and market. It is not limited to any region, but almost all over the country, and all over the world. The recent uprisings of commoners is an added dimension.

There is, however, no 'social rehabilitation' in sight, anywhere! Agencies think of 'Financial' rehabilitation!!  I can identify myself only with People, not dogmas,  not Agencies!

Note: The experiences haunted me for long time. Poem writing came to my help, which appears in the following poems.

2. Maroon Veil
3. A Million Incarnations Now!

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.