Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Land of the People

I read Civics in school purely from the point of getting through the examinations and therefore the one sentence that I do recall from that subject is, "India is divided into 25 States and 7 Union Territories" which is, ofcourse, a really outdated statement, as a not-so-current person like me can identify atleast three more states namely Uttaranchal, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand that would skew the count. And I do not really know if the Union Territories have swelled in number.

Given this background, a vague school-days idea of the Republic Day being the day that the parade was shown on TV, I finally dinned into my head this morning that a republic is a state which is governed in the absence of a monarchy by a collective of people, often elected by a democratic system, to rule and pass legislation. A Republic has a collective set of rules for governance, called a constitution, and is usually some form of democracy, though that need not really be the case.

The word Republic has its origins in Res publica, a Latin phrase, made of res + publica, literally meaning the "thing of the people". Thanks to Wiki, as always, for lighting the torch.

It is indeed amazing that India, with all the excess baggage, has managed to keep her head high and walk past the 50 years mark with strength and stability. There is magic in this nation literally and otherwise.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Take Your Time

On the same subject as the previous post, a great book to savor is Take Your Time by Eknath Easwaran. He is a benevolent author who beautifully guides the reader through his Eight Point Programme for slowing down to the pace of life.

A must read at some point of time in life.

Bury the Hurry

While rushing through this post on your way to the next meeting or cup of coffee, take a minute to read this. It will be well worth the minute for sheer facial muscle exercise. Thanks to A (letter merely used as placeholder and not as a secret code for the person's name. I am not into mystery writing!) for sending this link across.

I laughed so much on reading that article, not because the content is funny, but because it is so true. It reminds me of the story of a man lazing under a shady tree. A passer-by asked him what he was upto.
"I am relaxing", the man replied.
"Why don't you do some work?", said the passer-by.
"What for?", said the man.
"So that you can earn money", replied the passer-by.
"What for?", said the man.
"So that you can buy a house, get married, have kids, get them settled and enjoy your life", answered the passer-by.
"What do you think I am doing right now?" asked the man.

Life has a knack of passing us by. Why not bring out that special bone china crockery, the expensive white lace tablecloth, the fancy perfume saved for a special day and just make today special? Occasions, after all, are meant to be created.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Runaway January - Call it 'Ranuary'?

Why is January always such a busy month of the year? It is as if everyone stirs from the deep holiday slumber and then wants everything done yesterday. And I am trying to introduce myself to Milan Kundera through Identity and Immortality. Apparently it is a bad month to do such fresh associations as my head feels thicker than usual :)

I was at the Chennai Book Fair (from Jan 6 - 17 I guess) one Sunday and added a few need-to-have-these classics to our home library. The Book Fair had several stalls for Tamil literature and given my proficiency in that language, I did not venture to pick any book from those stalls. The book that I picked up at the Asian Educational Services stall and that I am waiting to read is Manava Dharma Sastra (The Institutes of Manu). For long, I have been under the impression that Manu was not at all fair to women in his laws and since this impression was handed to me as a child, I want to read for myself and make an informed opinion.

Other than that, I really want to know what sort of Egyptian music has a quick beat. Helpful suggestions are eagerly looked forward to.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Shakespeare Conspiracy

As mentioned several posts ago, I have been reading a bit on the conspiracy theories surrounding the authorship of the works of Shakespeare. There are several resources on the Net that talk in great detail about this subject and for a newcomer to the authorship debate, the process of trying to understand the essence of the debate can become just that - trying. Since I seemed to be going around in circles, none the wiser, I decided to fall back on good old hardback. A trip to the British Council Library offered several choices and I picked up The Shakespeare Conspiracy by Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman. Phillips and Keatman are historical detectives who specialize in researching unsolved historical mysteries.

The Shakespeare Conspiracy is an extremely fascinating and convincing book and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the authorship debate. This book covers all of the popular choices offered as possible authors of the Works and also explains why it may not have been them. Edward De Vere - the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, William Stanley - the Sixth Earl of Derby, Christopher Marlowe - a popular playwright of that time, Francis Bacon - a political luminary and a few other possibles all feature in detail across various chapters of the book. Likewise the odd fact that Shakespeare was not known as a great literary figure in his home town, Stratford-upon-Avon, while he was alive, is provided a detailed analysis.

Walter Ralegh's School of Night and Francis Walsingham's Secret Service appear to have played significant roles in Shakespeare's later life being structured the way it was. Phillips & Keatman offer reasonable historical evidence to support the idea that Shakespeare may have been a Secret Service agent using the name William Hall.

Shakespeare's will points out that his signature was the scrawl of someone barely literate. This is substantiated by the fact that the will was written by someone else and not the great Bard himself. In a convincing fashion, this book argues that Shakespeare seems to have been afflicted by some physical disorder, possibly a stroke, that left him unable to pursue play writing.

Finally, there is the surmise that Shakespeare died of arsenic poisoning by one of Walter Ralegh's men.

A truly fascinating page-turner.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A Skookum Designation for 2005

It is with tremendous delight and childlike enthusiasm that I read Wordsmith's AWAD email yesterday because the word skookum had such a nice ring to it when I pronounced it. Secondly, Anu's email announced that 2005 has been designated as the Year of Languages in the US. Yahoo!