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They were reoccurring at every phase of my schooling, from 1st standard to 12th standard. Initially there were in with a few paras with a direct narrative type and then went on to occur in multiple paras with complex views. At first, they appeared in Kannada, then it was English, Hindi and finally lots of them in Sanskrit. Some were about happiness & sadness, few were on nature & love but many were on life and death. Teachers tried their best to elucidate them, explain them with a context, sometimes with their own experience with life. Unfortunately I, for most of the time, failed to fully appreciate their true meaning.
Always under the pressure to remember than to understand, schooling was driven by peer’s action than one’s choice. This eventually meant no time whatsoever to introspect on the poems we were learning. Sadly this also meant a lost opportunity in appreciating others perspectives and learning from them.
However as it always goes, when one gets out of the schooling phase and hits the early stage of the roller-coaster called life, time seems to be in abundance sometimes. With that I’ve had the good fortune of getting into the habit of watching so called parallel films, mainly inspired by the experience of Bangalore International Film Festival. There have been few regional movies which hits the grade of being parallel movies. Yet they follow the signature style of Indian movie style of film making by having songs, action and dance.
In the midst of watching these movies, I came across few songs. They were not the typical ones which we find in mainstream movies. Their lyrics were of the old poems. Some were ancient, some were from yesteryear. Yet when I heard them, lot of things made sense. When I repeatedly listened to them, I enjoyed being part of the narration & was able to appreciate the poets message.
It makes me wish I could go through all the poems I studied once again, listen to them again from my teachers and live the dream again.
Here are two Kannada songs I’ve heard recently and has lyrics made up of poems which are quiet old.
First one is from the movie “A“. A brilliant story-in-a-story type film written and directed by Upendra. Despite being way ahead of it times it became a cult classic. It has a song where character takes a step back in life and describes how he wants his life to be. This lyrics are from G.P.Rajarathnam and is part of his famous Ratnan Padagalu. It goes by the title ಹೇಳ್ಕೊಳ್ಳಕ್ ಒಂದ್ ಊರು / Helkollak ondooru (A city for namesake). The poet narrates life as it is seen through the perspectives of a person (by name “Ratna”). The song is brought to life by the soulful voice of L.N.Shastry and music by Gurukiran.
A classical style of singing.
The second one is “Lucia“, a contemporary film written and directed by Pawan Kumar. Its got a non-linear style of narration and has the main background song composed by using the lyrics written byKanaka dasa.
The poem snippet with the english translation.
Folklore are treasure a trove of knowledge. They not only tell a lot about the thinking of earlier generations but also about their bonding with the elements of earth. Sometimes they carry a message which would have transcended several generations. Here is one of those stories from the land of Kiwis.
The kiwi’s ancestor helped Tane-mahuta save his children, the trees, which were being eaten by bugs and beginning to sicken. All the birds were called together and asked if one would come down from the forest canopy to live on the forest floor and help save the trees.
Not a bird spoke, so each one was asked in turn.
Tui refused. He was afraid of the darkness down on the ground, away from the sun.
Pukeko refused. He found the forest floor too cold and the earth too damp.
Pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo, also refused. He was too busy building his nest.
But kiwi agreed. He looked at the sun filtering through the high leaves and the damp cold earth, and he looked around and saw his family. And still he agreed.
Tane-mahuta was filled with joy, for this little bird gave him hope, but he felt he should warn kiwi of what lay ahead.
‘E kiwi, do you realise you will have to grow thick, strong legs so that you can rip apart logs on the ground. That you will loose your beautiful coloured feathers and wings so that you will never be able to return to the forest roof. You will never see the light of day again.’
Still kiwi agreed.
Since then, tui has worn two white feathers at his throat, the mark of a coward. Pukeko has lived forever in a swamp, with wet feet. And Pipiwharauroa has never built another nest – instead the cuckoo always lays her eggs in other birds’ nests.
But because of kiwi’s great sacrifice, he has become the most well-known and most loved bird of all.
Kiwi’s efforts in helping Tane-mahuta protect his forest from insect damage display the character traits New Zealanders still admire today – integrity, humility, loyalty, commitment and courage.
Source: Tane’s eldest child
Known as the little brother of the ever popular Matterhorn, Klein Matterhorn (Klein mean small in German) offers a breath taking view of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc on a clear day. With the ease of reaching to the top via a Gondola and being perched at a height of 12,740 ft (3,883 m) , it is the closest to experiencing higher altitude without breaking a sweat.
As as IAESTE trainee, I got to know about the weekend trip for theZermatt well in advance. Having registered early and this being my first trip to the alps, I was totally looking forward to it.
The journey started from Winterthur on a early morning 4:30 train to Visp. Its a little town in the midst of a river and surrounded by huge mountains. The town itself is perched in the middle of the valley and is part of the famous Glacier Express route.
The train from Visp starts slowly ascending and traverses through the deepest cleft valley in Switzerland, the Nikolai Valley. On one side of the track is the deep valley and on the other are the tall rocky peaks. Its here that one realizes the true engineering marvel, this train route is. With this route being build about a 100 years ago, one can only imagine the ingenuity with which this was constructed albeit the modern gadgets.
After about an hour journey and through few tunnels, we reached the village of Zermatt. The Hauptbahnhof is the starting point of the city center. It leads the road towards the hotels, hostels and the beginning of the Cable car. The streets are studded with shops selling luxury watches. Its just a eerie reminder of the class of people the city sees especially during winter season. With the famous skiing resorts and the Matterhorn being the star attraction, its the place of winter retreat for the billionaires from Russia to far East. Its also the starting point for Gornergrat railway, the 2nd highest mountain rail in the world at about 11,000 ft.
We dropped our bags at the International Youth Hostels and walked towards the base of the cable car. This cable car starts at the village of Zermatt which is at a height of about 5,300 ft and goes through the hamlet of Furi before reaching the summit of Klein Matterhorn. During the journey, we crossed the glacier and ascended about 5000 ft to reach the peak. With the glacier below and surrounded by Alps, the views offered during the journey is breathtaking.
The cable car boasts of being supported by one of the best helicopter rescue teams in the world. As the cable ascends the final 1000 ft, its heavily exposed to the winds. There has been couple of occasions during winter when the cable had developed technical snags and the passengers had to be air lifted the rescue team!
As we reached the peak, we could feel the breath becoming heavy. The air is thin and the temperature drops rapidly. With the wind, it feels even colder than what the thermometer reads. From the cable car platform, we take a lift by which we ascend about 100 ft inside the mountain to reach the steps of the observatory deck. Another few meters of steps and then we hit the summit deck. Its a 360° open air deck which on a clear day gives a spectacular view of the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Europe could also be seen from here. This is also the Italian border and the start of Italian alps.
From the deck, we could observe the Matterhorn glacier, the famous Ski area and many peaks which were above 3500 m. It is the highest observation deck in the world and once again is an engineering marvel. The summit also has a restaurant and is used as a starting point to reach the skiing area.
As in most of the mountainous regions, weather is quiet erratic. So we set our descent early. At the foot of the mountain there is a gorge made out limestone due to the streams flowing for hundreds of years. The scenes are straight out of “127 hours” movie.
Altogether the famous Zermatt and its mountains are a class apart, made possible by the intriguing technological breakthroughs by the Swiss in the locomotives and high altitude construction.
Having spent about 18 years in an education system of a developing world, its imperative for me to see the advantages it brings in. Let it be at the school level or the at university system, digital education has a lot of potential and hope to bridge the gap created by below par teaching standards. However over the years, as this model is tried and tested, the results are not so encouraging. I feel so especially after experiencing the education system in a developed world.
I recently read a news (Source: Deccan Herald) where an engineering university boats of having spent crores of rupees in equipping its class rooms with state-of-the art teaching gizmos. Unfortunately, in the middle of all this hype, an institution fails to realize that the best minds are not built with high end teaching gizmos but with enough freedom to think and also by having the right teachers who encourage the young minds to think. I more so felt this when I moved over to a fairly new (25 years) university in Germany for my Masters.
Unlike the effort being put on digital education in Indian education system, the class rooms over here are fairly simple with bare minimum infrastructure. A typical class room consists of a moving multi-foldable blackboard, a white board, bunch of chalks, marker pens and a projector. The wonderful nature of this setup is that the wall is used a screen for the projector and the rest of work are done on the board (in the traditional style). This setup is good enough to stimulate the thinking in us. But eventually its the professor who with his thoughts and perspectives makes the students think. And by far too, the quality of education is high when compared to back in India. This can be gauged by the university’s research output and the number of students option for further education.
Hence I feel the institutions in a developing country to should stop riding on the hype of digital classrooms but instead invest time and space in acquiring the right teaching talent and in developing a through proving & stress free environment.