The Slave King

Sigh……..

As the slow rumble of thunderclouds rolled up to me,
I looked back at the passing storm.
Hand chilly,
Hearts frosty,
The rain; unable to wet my dry chuckle.
If it was not for you, I would long be gone.

As my dead little bonfire provided me no warmth;
Piled up in it-ashes without cinder.
Overflowing,
Profound,
And I yearned for that cozy comfort;
Warmth that ash seeks in embers.

You behind me, I took my seat at that empty coast.
The disfigured, crumbling throne of sand that I was fated to rule.
And like the thundering charge of heavy cavalry
The waves rushed in.
Engulfing me,
The Tsunami, like a merciless, imperial ruler.
Worlds collide, Fate laughs at the travesty.

Through that bottomless depth, I lash out my hand one last time.
Hoping against hope, wishing that you,
Only you,
Would grab me.
When the comic futility of it all hit me again;
The unwavering solitude embraced me sinew.

I was alone.
All along.

As I panted and gasped on the sands of the creek;
Water, retreated; regrouped; like invaders thwarted.
Weary, I looked at the storm that had just left,
And felt the winds of the one that’s yet to arrive.
“They would not rest until I am routed”
I chuckle, the torrent of downpour unable to wet it still.

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Of India, Poverty, Slums, and News

 

Very recently, I happened to encountered a very queer duo online. Both of them were arguing about quality of life in India—one for and one against it, neither of them Indian. It seemed to me that one of them were bent upon two fundamental arguments. The age old argument of Indians siphoning jobs from US. I tried to follow the argument, and came to the conclusion that the reason for the siphoning is because people in India lives on slums.

I have some experience with Indians, and thus a few cents of my own. Dear, vast, net, allow me to voice my thoughts in your infinite emptiness.

Let’s just stop it, please. I’m really tired of this excessive importance Indians get. One movie called “Slum Dog Millionaire”, a low standard movie by all accounts, won the Oscar; at the cost of the reputation of a whole country. Before that movie came out, everyone knew Indians were poorer than the western world. After that movie materialised, people somehow started holding perturbed opinion that majority of the Indians also live in slums.

Let us believe that.
Let us believe that till the Indians overtake us.
Then perhaps that’ll be our only consolation.

Calcutta just won the global waste management award, along with Paris, Sydney, Melbourne or Copenhagen. Who cares? People still think Indians live in garbage dumps. We underestimate them by dangerous margins, you think they’ll just let us walk away?

Also, for our friends who may think that people living in slums are poor, I’d just say that is not true. I don’t blame anyone though, I didn’t have any idea either.
Reality knocks; most of the time, they’re WEALTHIER than those living in apartments, and just because they don’t do white collar jobs doesn’t mean they earn less. They’re involved in projects like construction or manufacturing and comfortably earn enough per year to buy the latest Royal Enfield and the Galaxy or iPhone every two years ( and at an elevated price; without the generous cuts ‘Muricans get via contract with the telecos ). They own big screen LED tv’s, refrigerators, sometimes even air conditioners, good smartphones, cheap internet; their children studying in good private schools. Whereas those living in apartments are burdened with home loans etc.

Honestly, why doesn’t our media reports those?

Why, man! Where’s your common sense? You think “Ho, look at them, they’re living well, and making good” would make a news? What’s new in that? That’d challenge everything people thought! People would obviously not believe it, there’d be a furor of refutations! The channel’s reputation would tarnish, and competitors would snatch viewers away. Of course not! It is not until they post pictures of poor, malnutrition-ed children inside a dilapidated shanty besides a garbage dump playing with stray dogs would we feel our superiority complex instantiated, and feel pity, and gossip, “Oh, how poor these children are. They really have no standards of living”, or “India! Humph! Don’t go there, it’s garbage all over the place” and go off to enjoy our sweet homes and pay our fifty grand home loan.

WHO/IMF numbers report Indian wage is very low compared to Western world. They are not incorrect. In fact, they’re the best sources one can find. But until and unless one sits down and reads them with a neutral mind, untarnished by the colours of media, does one really grasp it. But looking at numbers with a predisposition is dangerous. Unfortunately, men are brave and don’t squint in the face of danger. Just as an example, while the minimum wage is really low, the daily cost of feeding a family hovers at about 2$, and cost of living is also quite low. But no one reports that.

We say that Xiaomi is popular in India and China because its cheaper. Well, that may be true, but let us remind ourselves that it’s a smartphone and fast internet that improves living standards, irrespective of whether its Samsung or Xiaomi or Apple. And when you have to pay 5$ for a plan like 1GB 4G data daily for 30 days ( albeit LTE-A at 30mbps. But its fine, that’s high enough speed ), internet is not an issue.

There’s a reason Trump became President this year instead of Hillary. Trump had his ears to the ground. He listened to what people said. People were tired. Of Indians stealing American jobs, of Chinese stealing American production, of Japanese stealing American technology, of Germany stealing American quality, of Mexicans stealing American medicines. They were rightfully tired, and that was Trump’s card. And I agree to this sentiment. If you are jobless, you have right to demand a job. If you need money, you have right to earn it. If you want a good standard of living, you’re entitled to it by your country regardless of whether the foreigner who took your job has double the qualifications, double the determination, double the passion, equal strength, equal willpower and half the demands for it. I agree to it all. Indians should find jobs in their own country, not poach it from others just because some greedy corporation saw it fit to get better work at lesser pay. I’m perfectly honest, I agree to this American sentiment.

What I don’t agree to however is the hypocrisy of calling out an entire race poor, unequal, corrupt, dirty, superstitious without any thorough or prior knowledge of their situations, basing fiction over facts, when we’re not much better off, really. And worst of all is when the race in question really don’t bother about what they’re being called, and take advantage of it, poaching jobs, resources and wealth in a slow and steady stream, while we enjoy our unsustainable “standards of sustainable living”.

Imagine this, if Americans demanded half the pay for their work? Who’d hire an Indian for it? No one. Who’d manufacture in China? No one. We made our demands, and are paying for it. Until and unless, we acknowledge that we are in a similar lurch as they are, we are not going anywhere. Turning away from a problem and cursing at another is not going to get us anywhere. So our youth will be jobless, their children homeless, and while those well off may think, ” our homeless have better standards than their slums, there’s no comparison” we’ll be plundered in broad daylight.

I’m not trying to trigger an argument here. I’m not painting someone bad and another good. This is not a black and white argument. Just exposing a side of east that people in the west are either made unaware of by mass propaganda, or choose to willfully ignore because acknowledging it takes courage. It’d do us good if we look in the future; the demands the western ( especially American ) population maintains to sate their living standards are simply not rational in face of global competition. We present people with opportunities, through underestimation, greed and lethargy; and they take them. So why are we now blaming them for taking it?

Images from my dear Uncle (not by blood; and he’s an exceptional photgrapher. Checking out his flickr albums is highly recommended) and the-one-who-should-not-be-named.

Origami, A Japanese Heritage

ORIGAMI, ORIGIN AND INFLUENCES

Let’s get the world to fold! Hello and welcome to the world of Japanese paperkraftorigami (折り紙)

by Roman Diaz and Daniel Naranjo, via grulla

No one knows when origami originated in Japan. Historians generally credit the invention of paper to a chinese eunuch named Ts’ai Lun (Cai Lun) during the early 2nd century AD. A generally accepted date among historians is 105 AD. This invention led to Cai Lun posthomously obtaining global recognition. Previously all writings in China were archived on pieces of silk called chih. The procedure was costly; and unconvenient, so the newfound medium of communication spread like a wildfire in China, reaching countrywide use as early as the 3rd century. It is believed that paper was introduced in Japan somewhere between the 6th and 7th centuries. With the gradual rise of Buddhist influence, Japan saw an influx of Buddhist traditions, and the monks brought with them paper to Japan’s mainland, and with them, the art of paper folding. Paper in Japan, was used in many purpouses, ranging from architecture to decoration. Generally considered costly in Japan, papercraft was seen as a luxury in Japan and were often used as offerings in religious ceremonies—also known as Shinto. It became a significant part of Japanese culture by the Heian period. Here we see resemblance among the Japanese words for paper and God. However, the way of writing differs, with God spelled as 神 (kami) and paper spelled as 紙(kami).

Paper talismans to keep evil spirit away

The art of papercraft evolved differently in different parts of the globe. It was called papiroflexia in Spain—who incorporated the art from the Arabs in 12th century AD. Donna Serena Da Riva, in her paper Paper Folding in 15th Century Europe, discusses in length to the development of papercraft in Europe—from the development of Fabrino paper mills in Italy, to the earliest known European papercraft evidence in a Venetian text by Johannes de Sacrobosco called the Tractatus de Sphera Mundi (1490).

Tractus de Sphera Mundi

By the end of the seventeenth century, origami evolved as Scherenschnitte in Prussia, Germany and Austria (current Deutchland and Switzerland). Literally meaning “scissor cuts”, it became widely popular in the 18th centuries. Scherenschitte has now bceome one of the finest paper crafts in the world. Though historians widely agree on the fact that origami is widely of Japanese invention. But, it gave spectacular contributions from the global community, like this origami depiction of the celebrated scene of the “Killing of the Dragon” via happyfolding.

The chief difference between global and Nipponese(Japanese) papercraft is the presence of scissor cuts and glues. Traditional origami as we know it consists only of folding of paper, no cutting or gluing is involved. Early directives and archivals about origami are scarce. The first written directive was Hiden Senbazurur Orikata ( Secret to Folding One-Thousand Cranes ), which was published in 1797 AD by Yoshinoya Tamehachi. There is a different school of paperart which allows the cutting and gluing of papers. Known as Kirigami (切り紙 (kiru=cut). Coined by Florence Temko in 1962 in her book Kirigami, the Creative Art of Papercutiing, Kirigami is mostly of newer origin. In the land of kirigami, the most famous structure may be of that of the paper snowflake. Bekah Gjerde has some beautiful examples for us in this regard.

Example of Kirigami

There is no limit to imagination—and consequently the number of things that one can make with origami. However, there has been a few standardised techneiques that became widely popular over the years. Akira Yoshizawa, the grandmaster of modern origami and Sam Randlett laid down the groundwork for some standard set of origami symbols, in what is called, the Samuel-Yoshizawa system. The system first debuted in the book, Art of Origami in 1961 and had, since, been the holy grail and the Bible of origami artists.

Akira Yoshizawa

One of the innumerable contributions of Yoshizawa is the modern technique of wet folding. It involves the use of heavily sized paper such as parchment or Wyndstone’s marble. The water needs to be spread evenly with utmost care on the paper with the help of a damp towel. To complete the procedure, one needs to hold the paper in the way they want with soft clips. When the paper dries, it will wrinkle and fold in a smooth contour in the regions of the folds. Thus giving rise to beautiful shapes, including the shapes of the fox that is presented as featured image.

ORIGAMI, IN CULTURE 

Due to its intricate connection with the Japanese way of life, Origami had been entwined inside the Japanese culture. A popular story is of the Senbadzuru(千羽鶴). Literally meaning, “to fold a lot” the word is denoted to signify “a thousand paper cranes”, it is said that the wish of someone who has made a Senbadzuru is granted. A story that goes is of Sadako Sasaki; a twelve years old girl who was struck by leukemia right after the bombing of Hiroshima. She wished to make a thousand paper cranes to wish her back to health. However she could not finish it in her life, and passed away. But after her death, her friends completed the Senbadzuru, thus fulfilling her wish. Usually, Senbadzuru is often made in a group, such as a school club as a group activity. And one can choose any color they want with the cranes, without any restriction.

Senbadzuru, via Kirikatcreations

And due to the extent of hard work and toil they ascertain, a Senbadzuru is a sacred piece of art, and should not be handled without care or respect. It is fitting to donate it to a temple or shrine if one wishes to part from it. It is believed that upon burning a Senbadzuru in a temple, the wish returns to its owner and the cycle is completed. Their burning is a pious affair in itself and calls a ritual for it. Here is a rare example, video-ed by user Zukkoku51, on Youtube of burning of cranes in Miyajima

Of course, this is not the only one. Stop-motion animation company Laika’s new film, Kubo and the Two Strings confounds origami in storytelling itself; as Kubo brings his little paper characters alive in a Pinocchio-esque magic. And on the other hand, origami paper planes fly from the ISS (international Space Station) to Earth surface, journeying 400 kilometers and standing temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius and speeds of mach 7. And there is an entire culture around origami, the same community celebrating the World Origami days from October 24th to Novembor 11th in the honorarium of Lilian Oppenheimer, the forerunner of American origami.

So, as the paper crane becomes the symbol of pious peace in Japan, let us embrace this tranquil and patient art. Quietly appreciate the silent craft. Envision the world as those Buddhist monks had, when they offered these fine pieces of arts—like ephemeral snowflakes—to their all powerful gods and deities as a symbol of faith and peace. Let us gape in awe before creativity. and celebrate an empire of origami……….

Source

Winter

Winter is cold this year.

As the cold dies out and Earth rouses from her enchanted sleep, we as mere mortals look back at this flurry of activities that engulfs our surroundings. However, while we eagerly await the winds of spring, I contemplate on what this peppermint winter truly meant to us.

The winter was cold. The winter was sweet. The winter was like an Ice Cream, cold but sweet. The winter is a little warm bath. It is snuggling under the mattress. It is a photo-shoot in the morning, stargazing at night, resting by the fire, talking in warm whispers. Winter is trying out sweaters and jackets. Winter is the Christmas carol, the New Year’s wishes, the festive turkey, a candlelight dinner, a burning gaze.

Winter means icicles in the trees, a frozen pond, snow in the streets, snowflakes from the sky, a snowman laughing in under his hat. Winter is throwing snowballs, watching the ants, feeding the deer, a picnic in the zoo, filming the migratory birds-of which there are many. Winter is a warm experience, if not a warm weather.

Winter had been cold this year.

-Daniel

Welcome

This is a small post as an introductory writing.



It is my observation that every person finds that one point of time in life when everything looks meaningless to her. It is at that point of momentary lull, that ephemeral banality, that slight ennui, when one likes nothing other than to just sit in the shore and look at the offing and wonder in delight at the simplest of things. And when that moment arrives, the person finally discovers that global truth:- everything in this world is connected. And as we gaze in awe in that singularity, in that cobweb of events and destinies, as that grand cosmic web  of things that we finally shake off all that is trivial. A new outlook to life is presented to us. I believe that every time we plunge in that mild procrastination, we come out wiser, with more knowledge, more experience, and in general, more things to talk about.

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The Web

I wanted to make a blog, if merely for it to serve as a place where I put down to words whatever I feel, think and dream about. A void to throw in all that I could not mention in front of others, and a lot of what I could. A place in the heart of the giant spiderweb called the internet, I knew that I could shout my lungs out here, and no one would notice, unless of course, I wanted to be noticed. But it mystified me, this vastness, this greatness, this infinity and somehow I felt proud to keep my own pieces of memory in it. A little personal bubble, a minuscule space in the midst of the woods, a small time capsule in this ocean of events, a home to come back to.

I mean to use this blog for a variety of purpose, and I’d be elated if you took a look. There are picturesliterary works, and even some of my academic activities: most of which is related to statistics and probability. I’d love to check out your content too, so please feel free to present your own works to me. Let’s share and grow together.

Whether you want to go through my adventures that I dream of, or the memories that I’ve frozen in my lenses, you can always take a careless stroll through my palace. Share your thoughts, and as I keep building this place, please watch over this place.



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