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Though I have never been an avid reader, buying and collecting books has always been my hobby. Unfortunately, I had to part with almost 500 books, because I did not have space to keep them in the apartment I shifted to. I donated some of these to free libraries run by some NGOs. Others I had to sell to the pavement book sellers at a fraction of the price at which I had bought them. In fact, many of those had been bought by me from the pavement book sellers themselves.
What attracts me to buy a book? Sometimes, only sometimes – it is the need. But often it is the satisfaction of acquiring something precious which will come in handy at the time of need. How often I may need a particular book is a question that I never thought important to answer. Yes, whenever it was possible I would go through the contents page on the pavement itself. Whenever the contents were spread over two or more pages, I invariably ended up buying the book.
I am not too happy with the trend of buying books online. You do not get the first hand experience of touching the book cover, browsing through the contents, and some of the pages that might interest you at random. The best piece of decoration in any room – any room in a house, according to me is a well crafted book shelf. It must be well stocked with books both new and old. Old classics, like the complete works of Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Poets of the romantic era constitute the essentials.
Cicero indeed left a great advise for all of us, “A room without books is like a body without a soul”.
I did my masters in English Literature long ago from Government College, Ludhiana. My friend Ajit Prasad Jain and I shared the same bench in the class – in the last row. One of our lecturers who taught us kept us engaged in a rather unusual manner. He had a habit of repeating two words – ‘well’ and ‘you know’, almost in every sentence.
We did not have a counter at that time. Nor did we have a stop watch. But we gave ourselves a task of keeping track of how many times the lecturer would repeat the word ‘well’ and ‘you know’ during the period of 45 minutes. The wager was simple. If the professor repeated ‘well’ more than ‘you know’ Ajit would pay for our tea and samosa in the tuck-shop (college canteen) and in case ‘well’ left ‘you know’ behind, I would have to foot the bill.
It appeared to be a never ending game; and it kept our interest high in the prose lecture of our dear Professor. None of us or any other student in the class had the guts to point out and say to him, “Sir, 15-20 % of what you speak in class comprises just of two words – ‘well’ and ‘you know’.
These days too I find that a lot of professionals who come to me for improving their communication skills have similar habits. Filler words, are intruders who reduce the efficacy of speech. I still encounter, ‘You know’, though ‘well’ is not commonly used these days. But the most repetitively used words these days are – ‘like’, ‘basically’, ‘actually’ etc. Besides, other common intruders are – and, eh, uh, etc. In the first session itself I ask my students to remove these intruders (filler words and sounds) from their speech.
|Bertrand Russel on the occasion of Dinner hosted for Nobel Prize Winners|
Today on the 2nd of February, I remember the great English thinker and philosopher, Bertrand Russell. He died on 2nd February 1970.
Russell was born in a powerful political family. His grandfather, Lord John Russell served as Prime Minister under Queen Victoria, not once but twice. Following the death of his mother and father, Russell was brought up by his grandparents. Initially, he was privately educated but later on he joined Trinity College Cambridge. He graduated with degrees in mathematics and moral sciences.
Russell would not follow the path tread by most of the so-called reasonable people. In fact he chose to go to jail protesting against World War. This was a time when most British people saw reason in fighting the war. He was sent to prison for the second time when he protested against proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The above photograph was taken when Russell made his speech accepting the Noble Prize in Mathematics was awarded to him in 1950. Conspicuously, he said, “One should choose desire when asked to choose between duty and desire”. Without desire he said it’s not possible to perform the duty the way it should be performed.
Russell’s ideas were his own and he would not make any compromises. He would rather express himself clearly and fearlessly. Many people opposed him for his ideas but there were many who followed them.
Given below is a photograph when he was addressing his followers.
As a child, I always felt that I lacked confidence. Even now, in some situations I find that I do not measure up to my expectations. Yet, I have always admired ‘confident people’ and I continue to do.
Considering that Confidence is a very importance part of our lives, I often contemplate about it.
This happened at the Delhi Airport. I had checked-in well in advance, as per my habit. I was waiting to board the flight to Mumbai. As usual I was looking around to find ‘confident people’. There were many men and women – well dressed, upright and looking satisfied with their lives. But there was one gentleman who appeared exceptional. He was immaculately dressed in a dark grey suit. His broad shoulders and with his ‘chin-up’ added to his confident look. As I was brooding the flight was announced and we all boarded the plane.
It was a comfortable smooth flight. All the usual things – the in flight safety demonstrations, service of snacks, tea and coffee went off very well. Soon it was the time to reach Mumbai. The air-hostess announced that the plane would land at Mumbai airport in a few minutes. Then something happened. Instead of descending the plane went up and started going round in circles. After about ten minutes everyone got restless. People were looking around and trying to understand what was happening. I closed my eyes and started praying. Still, the plane continued to hover in mid-air.
Suddenly, I thought of this very confident tall man I saw at the Delhi airport. Looking around I found that he was perhaps the most restless soul on the flight at that moment. He was holding his handkerchief in one hand furiously wiping the perspiration, sometimes from the forehead and sometimes from his cheeks. With closed eyes he was looking up and down. At times he would put his hand in the pocket, as if he were trying to search for something. I could see all this because he occupied an aisle seat on the opposite side just two rows behind. In my futile endeavor of observing him, I had somehow forgotten my fears.
And then the Pilot came out of his cabin, walked to the middle of gangway, and stopped there. He did something and then went back. Shortly thereafter another landing announcement was made. The plane landed safely and all of us got down.
I realized that the ‘confidence’ of a person is not only about posture, looks, and dress. dressed, and the way he behavior, it is something more. In fact, a lot more. Real confidence is tested when there is a crisis how you remain cools at the time.
I realized that the confidence of a person is not only about posture, looks, dress and behavior, but it is something more. In fact, a lot more! Real confidence is tested when there is a crisis. How you remain cool at the time of crisis shows how confident you are.
Wearing Seat Belts in cars became compulsory on 31st January, 1983. I do not know of any country where seat belts was prescribed as legal requirements before 1983. It is not that the concept of Seat Belt was new. Seat Belts had earlier been used for flights ever since commercial aviation began. However, when the manufacturers of the aircrafts were confident that once in the air the seat belts could be removed, flight instructions were accordingly modified.
Nowadays, once again, it is recommended that during the flights passengers should continue to keep Seat Belts fastened. A Seat Belt to me is a symbol of caution and care you need to take while doing anything which is not devoid of risk.
But there is nothing worthwhile that can be achieve without taking some risks. In fact not talking any risks in life is the biggest risk.
So, to grow and progress in life and experience happiness of success, you need to take some risks. But always wear Seat Belts. Ensure that you take all possible precautions – that is wear Seat Belts and go right ahead.
This day the father of the Indian Nation, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in the year, 1948. Only a few days before an attempt on his life had been made. While Gandhi has admirers all over the world even today, some people hated him so much that one of them actually killed him.
30th January is also remembered as the day when state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, one of the greatest prime ministers of England took place. He was buried in Bladen Churchyard, within a view of Blenheim Palace, where he was born 90 years previously.
On this very day in 1933 another very significant but rather unknown event took place. The event that changed the history of the world. Adolf Hitler was appointed German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg of Germany.
On this day that is 26th January it is just right to think of nationalism. How nationalistic are we? Do we reckon that the patriotism which our freedom fighters had shown is still present in our lives? If not what are the reasons? Is that fast pace of today’s life where everybody has to compete with others has an impact? Is our education system at fault? Or does it have anything to do with our distancing ourselves from our ancient culture? Unless we apply our mind, we will remember our freedom fighter ancestors only on two days in a year – that is, on independence day and on 26th January, that is Republic Day.
The situation is far from satisfactory. It is for the activists, the NGOs, the educationists, and the State itself, who have to take adequate steps to reverse the rather sad state of affairs so far as our national character is concerned.
The good news is that the media today particularly social media gives an opportunity to all thinking people to contribute. It could be an awakening call for those in control to take necessary measures to bring back the patriotic spirit that earned us freedom from the British yoke.