Posted in Dehradun, Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand News–1


020I’ve often thought of writing a weekly news item on Uttarakhand, the state in which I live. I was born here, in Mussoorie, and though I never spent many years here, visits were constant. Can’t forget those up and down Delhi-Dehradun trips, by bus, by train, and after Sweetie began living with me, by taxi, and all the hazards and delays on those trips. I used to love the forests, trees and birds of Dehradun, and they are still here, though diminishing every day. Newcomers, if they think about the road names might wonder at the names, Canal Road, Eastern Canal Road, Eucalyptus Road. Once canals crossed Dehradun and were used for many purposes, now they are covered up and perhaps dry. Eucalyptus Road was lined with huge Eucalyptus trees, now none remain. Changing the names of localities, a constant pastime of most city officials, has happened in Uttarakhand, though not to the same extent as elsewhere. Thus we still have Jolly Grant Airport, because the land was once owned by Jolly Grant, Herbertpur, after someone named Herbert, Astley Hall and Nashville Road; Survey Road and Old Survey Road, as Dehradun was the headquarters of the Survey of India, right from British days. Some locality names, I don’t know the origin of, such as Selaqui or Sinola.

Uttarakhand hardly figures in the national news unless there are disasters. The 2013 flood was prominent in the news, and more recently the death of the horse Shaktiman, and the government destabilisation. Then after the opening of the Char Dham in May, the four sacred temples, and Hemkund Sahib, the Sikh shrine, the news is about the pilgrims.

Now the monsoon has arrived with steady rain. In 2013 Dehradun got even more rain than Mawsynram, the place with the highest rainfall in India.

In the local news today it says that 83 villages in the Kumaon region may be washed away by rising rivers with the current rains. It also says there are 3 lakh [300,000] empty houses in the hills, with migration taking place because of poor facilities. And it has been noticed that there are 12,000 dry springs. The president tried to visit the shrine at Kedarnath, but returned because of the weather.

Posted in cow, Dehradun, Uttarakhand

A cow has breakfast

[reposting from another blog, written in 2012]

The car was parked near a nondescript small restaurant in Dehradun, and I watched the scenes around me. A black cow, looking dirty and uncared for, came and stood with its front legs on the single stair leading to the restaurant. Soon a young worker, perhaps just out of his teens, came and fed the cow with left over rotis and naans. Another young worker came and put a pile at the cow’s feet. It did not take her long to eat them all–there must have been twenty to thirty rotis, left over from the previous night’s dinner. The two workers went inside, and the cow eyed the huge bag of tomatoes on the counter. Catching it with her teeth, she dropped it to the ground and began eating them. A worker from a neighbouring shop called out to them, and the two young fellows came out. They pushed the cow away a bit, picked up whatever they could, and then urged the cow to finish off the squashed tomatoes at her feet. Sorting through what they had picked up, they even threw her a few more squashed ones.
Such a pleasant sight–they were amused and not angry, and allowed the cow a good breakfast.

Posted in newsletters, Writing

Newsletters—what type do you like?

I have been planning to start a newsletter for some time now. What will I put in it? That is a question I don’t yet have the answer to. Should it be on history? Religion and spirituality? My books and writing? Or on a combination of all these?

What should be its format? Now on this I have some thoughts. I get a number of newsletters, and there are many that I don’t read, or that I only read occasionally. I am interested in their content, but I don’t like the format. Below I’m making a list of the type of newsletters, in the order of those that I like best.

  1. The type I always read, is one that opens completely in the body of the email. I don’t have to click on a link, but can read everything straightaway. I don’t care if there are pictures or not, this is the type that always gets read.
  2. Those that provide the first para of a topic, and one has to click on a link to read the whole. If there are several such topics, I’ll rarely click on all–maybe just one or two.
  3. Those that provide a link, with a very brief idea of what it contains. I’ll read this if I am really interested in the topic.
  4. Those that hardly provide any information in the body of the email. A click on a link opens to a video, where some so-called expert is speaking–and the video goes on and on, with the information at the end. I can never wait till the end of the video, and once having tried it, I never click on similar links again.

What kind of newsletters do you like? And what topics interest you? I’d really like to know.

Posted in writer, Writing

Why I write…

I have written quite a few posts on writing, and see myself as an eternal writer. A writer is a watcher, a recorder, an analyst, a thinker. All these are intrinsic, and sometimes I refer to myself as ‘a watcher in a dream’. In Advaita, it is said the world is unreal and it often seems that way–people fighting battles, entering conspiracies, hiding their true selves, for what? Then people trying to forget by watching television, meditating, talking, drinking.

Gurdjieff had said that the whole world is asleep. Is the writer’s role to keep one awake? On a more mundane level, I write because I want to share what I know, and sometimes what I think. Knowledge that comes from reading and understanding, but begins with thought. I want to make this specialized knowledge simple, easy to access, and I want more people to know, to be less ignorant, because that too is one way of bringing about change. I’ve  written books on history and religion to share this knowledge.

Initially I was more interested in personal writing, in writing for myself.  It helped me to focus, plan, understand and forget. Personal writing continues, but nowhere near the same extent. It is still useful, but I can do without it.