Saturday, August 30, 2008

Short Note for Journalism Students

I would like to inform my students that I am collecting a number of online resources dealing with English phonetics. I would be uploading the list pretty soon. I am sure you would find it really useful.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Helpful Links for Public Relations Students

I have found some links for my students. These links should be helpful for students pursuing a course in public relations.

1. PodUniversal at http://www.poduniversal.com/
2. Corporate ezine at http://www.corpezine.com/
3. PR Discussions at http://pr-discussions.blogspot.com/
4. PR Point Blog at http://prpoint.com/blog/
5. CIPR-Chartered Institute of Public Relations at http://www.cipr.co.uk/index.htm
6. Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management at http://www.globalpr.org/

I wouldn't state that these materials are exhaustive in any way. But they should help the students get a good, firm grasp of what public relations entails in addition to their lectures.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Webhosting Review Website

Have you ever thought about hosting your own website? Or do you always go in for free providers and host your websites there? Or you just don't have your own website? I know of a number of people who don't even have their won websites.

I thought I was always net savvy and I find it tough to believe that people won't have their own websites, especially those people who are kind of well-known people.

I learned about a website that I wished I had found out earlier because I would have gained a lot from it myself. This website is called webhosting rating. It is a website that rates some hosting providers. There are so many web hosting providers out there on the Internet that it becomes tough for an individual to make an informed decision. And there are sufficient possibilities of the person being taken for a ride. So, Web Hosting Rating is a great website because it reviews hosting providers. If people are going to get themselves a new web hosting account, it would be really beneficial to go to this website and find out about the various hosting providers.

They have some very interesting articles there. You can read one on Payment Options for Your E-Commerce Site.

Notes

There have been so many things going on in my life that I sometimes feel at a loss to describe everything. But I still feel that I could do a lot more. The more I work harder and the more activities, I find myself involved in, the more I have this feeling that I'm not doing anything at all.

Why do I have this feeling? It isn't a feeling of dissatisfaction... in fact, I'm really satisfied in life but I still have this great burning fire in my belly.

Website: Review of Diet Pill

I found about a website that reviews fenphedra, which is a diet pill. The website states that when the reviewer first heard of Fenphedra, it was kept like a hidden secret. Then later on, it was learnt that this medicine was quite effective. The website tells us that that Fenphedra is a CART activator. A CART activator is defined as a chemical in the brain that tells the body that the stomach is full, even when it isn't full. So, if one feels very hungry and if one takes this pill, the person would lose the appetite. The website states that the pill is made up of a buffered caffeine salt that is gentle on the stomach. The website also states that the medicine has Phenylethylamine, which is defined as an ingredient that creates a good feeling in the person who takes it. But one certainly needs to check on the claims independently and if the website's assessments are correct, one should certainly believe them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Website that Reviews Extreme Acai Berry

In the first place, you might be tempted to ask me, "What is extreme acai berry?" And that itself would have me explain the term 'acai berry'. Acai berry is a traditional palm fruit and it is believed to be quite beneficial. So, we have this website that reviews a drug, a diet pill, which claims to offer the benefits of the acai berry and states that the drug offers great health benefits. This website in question seeks to debunk the claim.

The arguments used here are quite convincing. They are against a diet pill called 'extreme acai berry', which has a website and which claims they would offer a '14 day trial' and then they would auto-bill and auto-ship the customer. It is an interesting site because it reviews health products sold online and seeks to alert customers about the various scams that are floating around. I found it quite interesting to read.

Website: Driver Side

Isn't 'Driver Side' a strange name for a website? Nope. It isn't because it deals with automobiles. It is a site that tells you about the car that you drive. It makes it easy for you to buy, own and sell a car. The website states that it provides tools which would help in this objective. The website has very interesting features. As a website focused on automobiles, I found it very impressive. The site has a drop-down menu, where one can choose the year of the car from 1945 to 2009, the make of the car, which includes a number of brands from Aston Martin to Mazda and Ford to Ferrari. One can also choose the model concerned.

The website is fascinating in a number of ways. In terms of utility, it is quite helpful because it would give you an opportunity to find out about the car that you drive, its year, make and model. On yet another level, for the car enthusiast, the car buff, one can always improve one's knowledge about the various car models that are covered on the website. And the list is quite comprehensive.

Latest Alexa Rank: Rising...

On August 21st, my Alexa rank was 1,485,817 and that post can be seen at:
http://roomynaqvy.blogspot.com/2008/08/bad-news-earlier-and-now-good-news.html

Then on August 23, 2008, my Alexa rank was 1,370,821. This post can be seen at http://roomynaqvy.blogspot.com/2008/08/latest-alexa-rank.html

And today, August 27, morning, 7.00 am Indian time, my Alexa rank is being shown as:

OK... OK.... hold your breath folks--->

I said, hold it folks.....

The latest Alexa rank is: 1,236,843

The most interesting thing here is that in the last six days, we have increased our traffic by 250,000. :):) Not bad.

The credit goes to you. Please keep on visiting and please give me more success.

Educational Counselling

One of my former students who's pretty qualified and is certainly a post graduate and has an excellent CV emailed me a week ago. S/he came to my house and we discussed his/her future career plans. So, s/he's going to study further, which is fine. The interesting bit was when s/he emailed me and asked me if s/he could also teach as a guest faculty at few places, where s/he has seen other students teach. And s/he knows, and I know too, that those other students who are teaching at various places weren't as competent or qualified as him/her.

That's exactly why it took me a week or so to write this post. I didn't have the heart to email him/her right away.

Let me explain in an off-tangential manner. In 2001, we had a new course at the University. It started at our Department and this was Certificate in Italian. We had this teacher from the Italian Cultural Centre, Carlo Buldrini, a very senior and an exceptionally competent person. I had been working since 1995 in various adjunct capacities and in 2001, I still didn't have full time tenure. When the course began, I had already been to Italy for the First ProZ.com Annual Conference, where I presented a paper on literary translation.

And Carlo was also the former cultural counsellor. He was also the person who had co-authored the book that was used to teach Italian at the Italian Cultural Centre in New Delhi. So, I would discuss with Carlo, or rather crib a bit, about how one has to wait a long time to get full time tenure in India. I would often tell him that I had spent six years in an adjunct position. To which, Carlo said, "The situation is so much better here. In Italy, it is worse. You have to wait till you are forty or forty five to get full time tenure."

I found his words pretty comforting. And then in 2002, I did get my full time tenure. Carlo also said that back home, he knew of students who would run after their supervisors...and give them a lot of importance to find a job. Now, I had never done that and who knows that might have been one of the reasons for the delay. But when I looked at what he told me, it did seem quite comforting to realize that I had been an adjunct faculty a mere six years.

Coming back to my former student, I didn't have the heart to tell him/her that s/he probably would need to run around some 'senior' [read 'the people who mattered'] professors, if s/he really wanted to get an adjunct position. Another alternative [if like me, s/he doesn't like running after people and has a strong sense of self-esteem] is to put in 'cold CVs'. But as every marketer should know, 'cold CVs' always have a lower chance of being successful. And they take a long time to bear fruit. And then in most hierarchical and feudal systems which are prevalent at so many places in India, it would be foolhardy to think in terms of 'cold CVs'.

I would suggest that my former student should use both approaches--the running around one as also the 'cold CV' one. If s/he wants, I am always there for expert advice and I am also there to form career strategies for my students.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Website: Phentermine Review

I guess this would certainly interest those kindred souls like me, who are into a number of things, such as translating life sciences materials. Consumer Price Watch is a website that states it is a 'source of unbiased diet pill reviews for consumers'. I have taught PR (Public Relations) to know that any claim should always be analyzed and not taken at face value.

Here, they speak about Phentermine Review. Now, most of you might be at a loss about Phentermine itself! And you can't be blamed for being so. Most people that we know, who do not belong to the medical profession or aren't part of the medical support staff, are really unaware of the medicines floating around in the markets or what their compositions might be. This seems strange because these prescribed medicines that we take from reputed doctors affect us. They don't affect the doctor.

The website states that Phentermine causes 10-15% more weight loss compared to a placebo in a double-blind study. So, what is a placebo? It is a harmless substance. And what is a double-blind study? It is a randomized study where two groups of people are administered the drug and both the doctor and the patient are unaware of who is being administered the study drug and who is being administered the placebo. This is to ensure fairness in the results and to eliminate any element of personal or psychological bias.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

All Kinds of Writing: About All Kinds of Writing

All Kinds of Writing: About All Kinds of Writing

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Interesting Article: The Evil of Religion

You might like to read a very interesting article called The Evil of Religion. I found it a pretty interesting and a logical article. Congrats to Ajit Dongre.

Joe Biden

Finally,Obama has decided on Joe Biden as his running mate. It was like a long delayed suspense. We have a story from the Associated Press that says picking Biden as running mate reflects Obama's lack of confidence. You can read that story here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080823/ap_on_el_ge/veepstakes_analysis

I wouldn't say as much but with Biden, Obama has chosen an 'experienced, respected' Democrat. Is this his strategy to counter McCain's 'experience'? If it is so, then what about the message for change?

Interesting questions. Many answers. Some tough ones too.

Latest Alexa Rank

Today, August 23, 2008, my Alexa rank is being shown as

1,370,821

which is excellent because it was 1,485,817 on August 21st and you can read about my earlier rank here:

http://roomynaqvy.blogspot.com/2008/08/bad-news-earlier-and-now-good-news.html


My target is to break into 1,000,000 soon. But I could do it only if you folks keep on visiting in large numbers and support me as you have done till now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Usain Bolt: Exercise for Journalism Students



Attempt a profile of Usain Bolt. The profile should be succinct and should include an analysis of the negative observations on his antics on the field. The write-up should strive to create a comprehensive profile of the sprinter.



Bolt is the tallest in the picture above.

He is third from left.



Read the following stories on Usain Bolt and write his profile:

1. New York Times story at
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/sports/AP-OLY-ATH-Track-and-Field.html

2. Wikipedia article on Usain Bolt at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usain_Bolt

3. The Hindu on Usain Bolt at
http://www.hindu.com/2008/08/22/stories/2008082256572100.htm

4. Times Online UK on Usain Bolt at
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/athletics/article4042917.ece

5. The Telegraph, India, on Usain Bolt at
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1080820/jsp/sports/story_9717270.jsp

6. Michael Johnson writing on Usain Bolt at the BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/olympics/athletics/7572854.stm

7. Usain Bolt in The Slate at http://www.slate.com/id/2197679/

8. Usain Bolt at the ESPN at
http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/summer08/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=3542980

9. Usain Bolt at the Chicago Tribune at
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/olympics/chi-usain-bolt-080816-ht,0,3670201.story

10. Usain Bolt in The Edmonton Sun at
http://www.edmontonsun.com/Sports/Beijing2008/2008/08/22/6540651.html


11. Article in The Independent, UK, at
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading-article-bolt-upright-905359.html

Profile: Usain Bolt

''To me, I'm a performer,'' Bolt said. ''I come out here to be a performer and let the people enjoy themselves. Sometimes, it's good to enjoy yourself. This is my work, it's my job. If you don't enjoy your job, it doesn't make any sense to actually do it because you won't have any fun.''

If you don't write on Usain Bolt, you write on nobody else. Only four people: Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Bobby Morrow and Jesse Owens have won the 100, 200 and 400-meter relay at the Olympics. In terms of greatness, I would place him at par with Jesse Owens right now. Later, as we get to see Bolt, one might rate him higher. He has broken records which have been pretty old.

Investment Perceptions

I have such anecdotes to narrate about the perceptions of most people about the stock markets and about investing that it would probably make you die laughing. People have such outlandish and strange ideas when it comes to investing that one could find it really difficult to believe.

I had a good friend. I still know him. We used to stay nearby and meet everyday. So, one day, about ten years ago, he met me and said, "I have made some money working for a company and I have some extra cash to spare. I would like to discuss investment options with you." I told him, "That's great. But before you begin investing, the first thing we should discuss would be the returns that you would expect on your investments."

Those days, the banks gave a maximum of 10% per annum on term deposits. He had made some money as a freelancer and he wasn't eligible for the Employees Provident Fund, which would have given him a return of 12% tax free. Anyway, he wasn't in the tax bracket but if he were, the maximum tax bracket was 30%, so, the maximum taxable return, he could have got would have been around 17% in a year.

So, when I asked him, what he expected from the stock markets to do for him, pat came his reply. He said, "I would like to double my money in a fortnight but I could wait for a month." I was furious and as he was a good friend, he didn't mind my outburst. I told him, "You jolly well get into a casino!"

Most people have such strange notions about investing money in the stock markets. If the best return that he could have got in the country from safer avenues was 17%, he should have been content with around 25% from the markets. If he set his objectives at 25%, he wouldn't ever lose his money and would invest scientifically and his investments would be strong fundamentally.

Website: Black Friday Online

How many of you are aware of Black Friday, the day which is next to Thanksgiving? If you need to buy something that day, how would you do so? So, we have a website that seeks to help us by speaking about how we can buy items on Black Friday and the website is http://www.blackfridayonline.com/

The site also offers free alerts when new items are available for purchase at different stores for this occasion. There are a number of items that you can buy here. They have a wide variety of items. For instance, you can buy office supplies from Office Max or you can buy books and other stuff from Amazon. For instance, when you go to the Office Max page, you would be amazed to find out about the number of items that they have on sale. These include Kodak cameras, Sandisk USB drives, HP and Brother printers, Kaspersky Internet Security, Logitech Mouse and Keyboard combo, routers, adapters, headsets, projectors, furniture and toners among other items.

This is a pretty interesting idea and I am really happy that the site owners took trouble of making a site that helps people with their holiday plans. Isn't it really great and thoughtful?

Charles Dickens’s Hard Times-2

The noted English critic F. R. Leavis called Hard Times as a minor classic. He was one of those rare critics who praised the novel. Most critics had criticized the novel. But one should also keep in mind the fact that Charles Dickens was a novelist steeped in the social realist tradition and his novels display a clear sense of social realism. Hard Times is, in fact, a novel that belongs to a sub-genre of the Victorial novel called the 'social problem novel'--a novel that specifically focussed on social problems of the day. The social problem being discussed in this novel is the problem of the present educational system in England and the follies inbuilt into it.

Connect! Connect!

I learned about this website that features connectors. Oh my, what are connectors in the first place? Take a look at their website. They have a chart here. You can click on pictures to get a close-up. Connectors are small extensions that are attached to wires and they go into computers and computing systems. Like you have the connector in a PS2 keyboard, on one end, you have the keyboard and on the other end, you have the cable and at the end of it, the connector.

So, that's a connector. Let us connect well now!

Motivational Teaching

Today morning, I was in my Compulsory English class and I was teaching my students. So, while teaching them, in the course of the discussion, I referred to that famous quote by Robert Browning, where he says that 'a man's reach must exceed his grasp; or what's a heaven for?' [the quote has been paraphrased].

How true! We should all strive continually to exceed our reach in life and we should do it so well that we shouldn't able to grasp or comprehend how well we have done in our lives.

Amen!

Personal Blogging Milestones

I have reached 115 posts till now and this is the 116th post since May 1, 2008. And in the month of August, I have had 73 posts and this is the 74th post. When I crossed 50 posts earlier this month, I was really excited. And I didn't even inform you people about crossing the 100th post.

When I began this blog, my target was 500 posts in the first year. Now, I have an average of about 30 posts [if I reach 120 posts in August] per month, which means I'm pretty close.

However, my immediate target is 100 posts for the month of August, which means I am about 25-27 posts short and I have 10 days to go. And I would certainly like to maintain the quality of my posts. I would also like to keep my posts informative and helpful to a number of people including my students at the University.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blog Since 2003

I found a pretty old blog. It is called Everyday With Beej. And though the blog looks like a perfect collection of diary entries, it retains its readability. That's the good thing about it. Many diary entry formats could turn you off. I liked the post, Tips For An Exceptional Life. Nothing very erudite or anything but very interesting, listing things. Too many videos. Then I went to the Blog Archive on the page and I was amazed to find that this person had been writing since 2003. That was amazing. I haven't seen a great number of blogs that have been there that long.

The blog states that it is about life, family, friends, anything under the sun. This is the original blog format and I congratulate the writer for keeping to it.

Somebody Wrote About Me

Hey hey.... folks, do you know what happened? A gentleman found out about me and mentioned me on his blog!

Wow! Please go ahead and tell your friends about it and about my blog too.

You can find the gentleman's post here:

http://www.techne-eikon.com/business/a-better-definition-of-blogging

Enjoy!

Rank Spank

Has your blog suffered because it was spanked by Google and it got a lower rank? Here, we have Rank Spank, a website by Izea, who give you RealRank and give you a new perspective to standard Google rank.

Bad news earlier.... and now, good news-Alexa Rank

Well, if my Google pagerank has come down to 2 as I told you in an earlier post... we also know that the Alexa traffic ranking is pretty reputed.

If you look at my earlier post made on August 17 on Alexa rank, my rank that day was 1,539,822 and my present Alexa rank for today is---- and lease hold your breath now---and my present Alexa rank is:

1,485,817

Now, don't you think that calls for a celebration? And this is between August 17 and August 21! Wow! In just 4 days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On Obama's Veep Choice

Pajamas Media is a blog that focuses on news. It was also ranked as one of the most informative blogs in a recent study.

There's an interesting article here on Obama and his choice of the running mate. Read it here.

Info: Blog Lists

I think this is probably the most comprehensive list of Blog Lists. Its a blog called Bloggers Blog, seems like a meta-name. The link that I gave you here has got excellent posts. Simply excellent and really informative by any yardstick. We have information on Bloglines which is now ranking blogs and feeds by their popularity. Then we have information on a Carnegie Mellon study that ranks the most informative blogs. The amount of information that is packed into this blog is astounding and it is certainly immensely helpful.

A Very Fascinating Blog

This is simply amazing! What do you think a blog is for? Blog=Weblog, diary, personal notes... professional work, showcasing of professional talents. And now, we have a news website as a blog.:)

If you wish to read news about economy, politics or health as also a number of other topics such as high technology or United States news, this website provides it all.

Well, well, I didn't provide you the name of the website. The website is aptly called News Company and you can see it at News Company

The site summarizes a lot of news. I like the effort that the person has put in here. In fact, when I began blogging, I thought of doing something similar but someone's beaten me to an excellent idea and I won't feel bad about it.

Bad... very bad

It seems Google has been bad with me. They just reduced my page rank from 4 to 2. Why? Really inexplicable because I know I have been getting more visitors and I know I have got visitors from a variety of places around the world. But at least, Alexa doesn't seem to use such whimsical measurements. But in a way, I believe its a good thing because I would work doubly hard to ensure that my traffic rankings improve. I remain fully committed to improving my traffic rank and I'm quite serious about positioning my blog.

Charles Dickens's Hard Times-1

Hard Times is a novel that I am currently teaching to my BA (1st) year students. The important characters are Thomas Gradgrind, Josiah Bounderby, Sissy Jupe, Stephen Blackpool, Tom Gradgrind, Louisa Gradgrind... also Slackbridge to some extent.

You can find a good study guide along with the text at Bibliomania.com and you can find another copy of the complete text at Project Gutenberg. The novel is divided into three parts, Sowing, Reaping and Garnering, which are to some extent self-evident. The first chapter is titled "The One Thing Needful", while the second chapter is titled, "Murdering the Innocents".

The novel begins with this memorable paragraph:

'NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!' (The emphasis is mine)

and on the first page itself, you have another very interesting insight:

The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim. (The emphasis is mine)

I'll continue with my thoughts and notes about the novel in small instalments, so that you would enjoy reading it.

Website: The Incurable Romantic

I found a website called The Incurable Romantic and like its name, it seems to have everything on the subject. The website is a blog or in the blog format and it seems to have more than one author. There seem two authors there. There was a very interesting post there called Magical Moments.

Some of you might find the stuff slightly mushy, which is a distinct possibility but even then its a pretty good idea to have a website of this sort. I really like such ideas, even if they are mushy or too descriptive.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Website: Property Mixer

Please do not think of this as a mixer-grinder-juicer but this might be closer to a cement mixer! Property Mixer is a new social networking website that deals with the property and the real estate sector. I got to learn about it because one of my friends, who's into the property business in New Delhi, sent me an invite. I look at such invites askance but on some thought, I clicked and logged in and then looked for the profile of the CEO and found that she has a blog too!

The website is Property Mixer http://www.propertymixer.com/ and the CEO's blog is http://propertymixer.blogspot.com/ and its quite informative.

This was a chance find and I am happy I found it.

Website: Not Guru

I am sure the name of the website would probably set you thinking: what is this? Not Guru? It certainly raises your eyebrows the first time you hear it. I am sure that was probably why they named it that way. The site says that it is meant for those people who aren't too technical, who aren't really 'gurus' in that sense of the term.

There's an excellent post on how to open a file if you cannot open it on your computer. The site also uses good screen shots. I liked the idea, quite refreshing. It was the name that I found disconcerting to start with but later when you surf the website, it doesn't really seem so strange to you.

The website is a variety of posts on a number of issues. It isn't as if its only a technology site--we even have a post that shows the 'strange food' that was available at the Olympics. They have even shown pictures of various creatures that one could have eaten there.

You can access the website at Tiips and Curiosities for Mom and Pop Businesses

News: Suicidal Thoughts Among Students

I found a news on Medindia, which is quite pertinent for the student community as well as others. This study says that suicidal thoughts are common among students. It says that half the 26,000 students in institutions across the country had suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives. The report can be read here.

Fall in Dow Jones

The Dow Jones has fallen again. Right now, at 3.17 pm, it is down 203 points or 1.75%, which is considered a pretty steep fall. So, we need to wait for Nikkei to open next morning and see how Japan reacts and then how Hang Seng reacts in Hong Kong. If they are depressed too, then we can expect the Indian markets to witness a fall.

I know oil has risen a bit and there is news that Iran has offered to launch satellites of Muslim countries. Iran has already claimed that it has test fired a new rocket capable of carrying a satellite into orbit. The story can be read at the New York Times. I still don't know if there is some US economy data that has also contributed to the fall.

Let us wait and watch.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Website: Termite Guide

(This is a sponsored post)

I found a very interesting website that tells us how to get rid of termites. It speaks about a number of termites and you can see them here: termite images

I have had a lot of problems with termites in my house too and I have a huge library of 1500 books and I really feel scared of them. I found this website to be really informative and I thought it was a boon to me because it tells me a lot of things about termites.

The website is http://www.killthetermites.com/

Very Interesting Article on Twitter

This is a chance find. You wouldn't really imagine the way one gets to find interesting articles these days. People castigate Google as a behemoth--I really admire it. Google dishes out various advertisements when you access your gmail and I found this article there.

Businessweek
, which is a very reputed magazine, ran a story about Twitter and about the business models being followed by social networking sites and I found it so interesting that I thought I would discuss it a bit here. This is a recent article, published today and it is called The Trouble With Twitter. The article can be found at this link.

Website on Distance Learning

It seems most of you would feel I keep on surfing or as one of my colleagues told me that I work very hard. Do I? I don;t know. Where's the time to think? Anyhow, I learned about this interesting website that seems to promote distance learning and home study in the UK. There are courses such as book keeping, child care and social studies. Its a website on open learning and the website can be found at 2 distance learning courses

The website is pretty exhaustive in the information that it has on its pages. It says that UK Open Learning is a registered centre with the Open College Network of the North West region in the United Kingdom. It states that it offers fully recognized courses that carry learning credit for further learning. Good and interesting idea. Now that I got into a job, I still feel I could register for some courses and add some more degrees to my CV. Even though I do study every day and read a lot, I still find formal study quite fascinating and magical.

The lure is always there. UK Open Learning have courses in information technology, project management, writing courses, Aromatherapy (wow!), reflexology, health, fitness, life coaching....Its a long and a pretty impressive list. If I started talking about the entire list of courses they offer, you might just feel I reproduced their website. I feel positive about this website and I am going to check out every possible thing they offer in my spare time. I would find this to be a educational and an informative exercise.

Meandering Thoughts on Classroom Strategy

I have taught this novel, Hard Times for a number of years. And we have it in the BA (Ist) year English major curriculum in our University. It has always been there in the curriculum. I can understand the exigencies and the problems of making a curriculum--I have been willy-nilly a part of it as well. Since 1995, when I began teaching, Hard Times has always been a part of the course.

I have taught it for such a long time that I have even forgotten the first time when I started teaching it in my career. But ever since I started teaching this text, no one in my department has ever opted to teach it, except perhaps once or twice, a couple of friends, who were junior to me. And we follow the *seniority principle* quite strictly--again, one can't simply fault it because these are administrative matters, which are best left outside the purview of this blog. We might discuss them in my other blog that focusses on academic matters, Issues in Academics at http://issuesinacademics.blogspot.com

Anyway, my students have always found it to be a pretty difficult novel. In India, I guess things are a bit different from the West. Here, the students start reading the text after they come to the first class. And right from school, the students have become so accustomed to being spoonfed by their teachers that they seem to have less initiative and confidence among themselves.

It would be wrong to state entirely that they do not possess confidence but they do have less confidence when it comes to reading or being inquisitive about knowledge.

This year, when I started teaching the novel, I asked my students to buy the book (that's what you do in the first lecture. So sad, isn't it? You just waste a 45 minute slot!) and we have had teaching for a week, which includes two lectures last week and actually, I had the third lecture today. Looking at it from a retrospective point of view, I think the response has been fine. I have the next lecture with them on Thursday, August 21st and I'm sure most of my students would have completed reading the novel.

I have also given assignments to two students. There's one girl, who clearly professes that she doesn't like reading. I like her honesty. I have rarely seen such young people who are so honest but she seems bright and she seems hardworking. She will write a plain vanilla summary for me on Thursday. Then there's this boy, who seems articulate and likes talking to both girls and boys among his peer group. He seems to be articulate and seems to command some attention amongst his peers. I have asked him to write a detailed character sketch of Thomas Gradgrind.

It would be nice to have these two kids working on the novel. I believe that this girl, who says she doesn't like reading has quite some promise. I am going to take it as my personal challenge as a teacher to make her like reading and make her love literature. After all, literature's a great subject to study.

The other boy would be good in the class too. People who can command the attention of their peers are nice people in the classroom.

I have already outlined the novel to them in the classroom. I have already told them about how tragic Stephen Blackppol is as a character. I have given them few pointers.

But the challenge actually starts the moment they come with the books well read to the classroom. But that's not just the challenge, its also the fun part as a teacher. It all depends a lot on the teacher and the teacher's teaching philosophy and strategies. If the teacher is able to motivate and inspire the students, they really work well and they become pretty malleable. If the teacher is too hard, then it really fails.

There is no communication when the teacher is too hard and unbending. I have seen so many teachers who are hard but we don't have a system of student feedback and they never get to know what's actually happening in the world around them. Many of them also live in ivory castles thinking that they are the best. But lack of two-way communication in a classroom situation can be fatal to the learning process. It becomes something quite similar to the chaos seen in Harold Pinter's famous and unsettling play, The Homecoming.

Blog News

Dear All,

You might just think this is crazy! And I won't blame you for doing so. When I told one of my friends about the new blog that I have got, he said, "Well, I'm going to start a blog where I'll interview myself!" And he added further, "Blogs don't cost anything, one can open any number that one wants!"

Ha ha ha ha....

But jokes apart, this blog is called http://roomynaqvy.blogspot.com and it is my personal blog, Roomy Naqvy's persona blog. The new blog that I'm referring to is called Issues in Academics and you can access it at http://issuesinacademics.blogspot.com and I plan to make it into an excellent online resource that discusses various issues in the academic world as also have some educational resources as well.

And if I had told my friend about my third blog, Learning Translation, http://learningtranslation.blogspot.com, he would have surely put me into the loony bin! The idea behind this blog is to put all kinds of translation related resources online as also to help or rather mentor novice translators in the profession. I am sure this would be helpful to the students as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Website: Digital Frames




I learned about this website called Digital Frames, which I guess is quite a unique concept. In all the years that I have been surfing, I have not come across such a concept. The website Digital Frames states that they make digital photo frames. One can use these picture frames to showcase one's pictures the same way as they can be shown in the living room or at other places. They come with 1 GB of internal memory and the website states that they can be customized and user-configured as well. In terms of durability, this seems more durable than a mere photo frame that we had in the olden days.

Also, in terms of utility, the concept seems quite good because 1 GB of internal memory can certainly hold a large number of pictures and can be quite useful because electronic goods have a longer life than products from the brick-and-mortar world. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. There is one frame that is available in wood as well. Isn't wood elegant? This is certainly using the best of the olden days elite class with the great utility that technological innovation provides us. There is also a mini-heart shaped digital picture frame that can be attached to a key ring as well. So, this website provides a fully customized experience.

Indeed, very fascinating. I am forever amazed by the wonders of the Internet as I was in the days I started using it.

Information: Golden Quill Awards

I just learned about the Golden Quill Book Awards 2008 and we can follow the shortlisted books at http://www.indiaplaza.in/goldenquill/

It seems they have a voting system here. I don't know this works. I haven't read any of the nominated books but have heard about couple of them being discussed at electronic mailing lists. The Jury includes Mahashweta Devi, Sir Mark Tully, Shanta Gokhale and Anita Nair and the jury page is at http://www.indiaplaza.in/goldenquill/goldenquill_jury.aspx

Information: Abhinav Bindra's Blog

I came across Abhinav Bindra's blog. Who is he? He is the person who won the first individual gold medal for India in the Olympics. I wrote about him in an earlier post: http://roomynaqvy.blogspot.com/2008/08/indian-won-olympic-gold.html

By the way, I found out that he even has a blog of his own. You can look him up at http://abhinavbindra.blogspot.com/ and this blog began in August 2008! So, I'm reporting it fresh to you. This is like breaking news.

Enjoy!

Finance: Repair Your Bad Credit Online

I guess this must count as another one of those fascinating websites. This one relates to the financial world. For those of you who are unaware of my financial acumen and my engagement with the world of finances, you should meet me in person, if you know me personally, or you should get in touch. This website is called Repair Your Bad Credit. It seeks to help people with Credit Repair, Bad Credit Repair.

For people, who have never had a bad credit, this might be tough to understand. But one can get a bad credit due to a variety of reasons and some of which aren't even because of one's own fault. Suppose, you applied for a credit card and the bank company executives deliberately wanted you to apply for a n expensive card to make up their targets while you wanted a lower card, your application would be rejected and you might get a bad rating. This is why this website which claims to Repair Credit sounds like a pretty good idea for people who have been afflicted with this problem.

They have a link that tells you about the various advantages that accrue to a person from using their service and it can be found at Advantages of Credit Repair. The website also has a link that shows the varied services that they provide and it can be seen at Online Bad Credit Repair Services page.

They offer Credit Repair Services and they have some pretty good ideas about what one can do with good credit. It surely sounds interesting. And it is really important these days because of low credit offtake internationally. Most people are getting lower credit simply due to the current global crisis and so, if there's a website that can help with repairing credit, I guess it should sound pretty fascinating.

Fascinating News

I am sure this calls for a celebration and all of you have contributed to it. I began this blog on May 1, 2008, and the first time when I checked my Alexa ranking, it was 2,111,649 and the latest Alexa rank for this blog is 1,539, 822.

For those, who are unaware about Alexa, I would like to tell you that Alexa ranks websites on their traffic and it tells you how better you are compared to your competitors.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

History of Blogging: Excellent Resource

I am sure that if you read through Rebecca Blood's "Weblogs: A History and Perspective", you would agree with me that this is the most comprehensive article on the issue. You can read the entire article here: http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html and if would like to cite it somewhere, then you could do it as follows:

Blood, Rebecca. "Weblogs: A History and Perspective", Rebecca's Pocket. 07 September 2000. 25 October 2006.

I really loved a comment there. Rebecca says: "Searching for a filter-style weblog by clicking through the thousands of weblogs listed at weblogs.com, the Eatonweb Portal, or Blogger Directory can be a
Sisyphean task." [The emphasis is mine].

How true! And for those, who don't know what Sisyphean Task means, you can always read the piece "The Myth of Sisyphus" by the great French existentialist writer and Nobel Laureate, Albert Camus.

Origins of the Word: Weblog

We have all heard of weblogs and the word 'blog' or 'blogs' which is a shortened form of it but have we ever wondered about its origins or about the person who coined the term. The word 'weblog' was coined by Jorn Barger and my reference for this information is the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/browse/blogging_1.shtml

The very influential and long-established blog run by Jorn Barger is Robot Wisdom and you can learn about the history of blogging at http://robotwisdom.com/weblogs/ and a biographical sketch of Jorn Barger can be found in this Wikipedia article.

Educational Resource: BBC Learning English

This is yet another article in my Educational Resource series on my blog. The last post, which was posted here http://roomynaqvy.blogspot.com/2008/08/educational-resource-nyt-learning.html and this is yet another learning resource that is available online.

My endeavour is to give you an excellent collection of such learning and educational resources online so that you won't need to go anywhere else and you would feel really good about my blog. This is also in consonance with my objective to mentor young people. Moreover, most young people that I know are not even aware of which resources to access and how to access them. So, if I am able to do something for them, it would be a good contribution.

The BBC Learning English website can be accessed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/ and I believe that this is yet another excellent resource. If you use it properly and extensively, it should be able to make a substantial difference (read improvement) in your English language skills.

There are also certain links on the BBC Hindi website where you can also watch videos that teach you English. Not bad, isn't it?

Let us now go back to the BBC Learning English website. There is a section on English pronunciation which is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/pron/ and you can even download files from there, including an introductory video, which is available at http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/pronunciation/mp4/pron_main_intro.mp4

They even have a section on grammar, where you can also learn about various phrasal verbs and believe me, I know this from my experience as an English teacher, most people, especially, those that I teach here in India, are really deficient in using phrasal verbs. This is the link to the phrasal verbs section on the BBC site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/

Enjoy and be so fluent in the English language that you might marvel at your own skills.

Online Forum: Argue with Everyone

(This is a sponsored post)

I think this is the most exciting online find--it's an online forum, a website, that says 'argue with everyone' and on 'everything', so, you can argue anywhere and on just about any topic, which can also include arguing against gun control and its a pretty good idea. In fact, this goes back to the original days of the Internet, where we had websites that promoted as a completely free medium.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Personal Notes of a Translator

I have been a translator for such a long time. I received the Katha Translation Award for translating a Gujarati short story into English way back in 1996 and then for a number of years, I have had quite a bit of professional translation experience. Then in 2005, I was interviewed by Dr. Tim Altanero, who was an Associate Professor at Austin Community College, for an article that he wrote on translating airline menus for Multilingual Computing and Technology, which is a well-known magazine that caters to the translation and the localization industry. You can read that article online at this link. And I taught a Certificate in Translation Proficiency for three years in my University. I have also taught Diploma in Translation Proficiency for the last two years.

I was a Moderator of ProZ.com for English-Gujarati, Gujarati-English language communities and also for the Literature Forum from December 2000 to December 2007, when I quit due to personal reasons. Presently, I am one of the co-moderators of the American Translators' Association's Language Technology Division's mailing list.

All this sounds good to those who can understand what it means.

But years ago, things were a bit different. The person who I would like to acknowledge as my guru, the person who really motivated me to begin translating in my life was a gentleman called Professor K Satchidanandan. He is a well known Malayalam writer and he used to be the editor of Indian Literature, a journal published by the Indian Academy of Letters, which is called the Sahitya Akademi here.

I wanted to write this post here to publicly acknowledge my debt to him and I shall remain indebted to him forever. Thanks a lot, Professor K Satchidanandan.

Parcel Forwarding

(This is a sponsored post but it doesn't mean that I will write a positive review because it is one.)

I found about this very interesting website and it is a mail forwarding and a parcel forwarding service: Maildrop

Very interesting ideas! This is an award winning service and it covers six countries in the world with only one account. I must admit I am forever amazed by the wonderful use of the Internet. I couldn't have ever imagined a service like mail forwarding till I heard about it and I really felt excited enough to share it with all of you.

Imagined Communities: From Benedict Anderson to Facebook

If I were to write a scholarly paper titled Imagined Communities: From Benedict Anderson to Facebook, I am sure it would provoke tremendous outrage among all purist scholars and academics who love to show they are 'mainstream'. But the first question that would strike me would be: Why should it provoke a sense of outrage? The answers are not hard to find. It would provoke such a sense of outrage because we think of our academic scholars and their categories as hallowed, as rarefied, as something very scholarly to the point that it cannot be applied anywhere beyond their original scholarly confines. At least, this is what, I would normally see from a number of academics that I have seen and known in the Indian academia. I do understand, however, that academics in the American academia tend to be more open towards newer technologies and developments.

So, for those readers, who haven't been introduced to Benedict Anderson and who probably believe what the brouhaha is all about, it would not be wrong to state that the concept of 'imagined communities' is owed to him. Anderson first propounded this term in his book, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, which appeared in 1983 . So, exactly twenty five years later, I propose that the meaning be expanded. To quote from Anderson himself:

The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet. (Cited from http://www.nationalismproject.org/what/anderson.htm)
There is another interview here that one can read as well to learn about his views. And there is a Wikipedia article on Imagined Communities.

Interestingly, what has happened after the explosion of the Internet in its second avatar is a great implosion of social networking sites. There are also a large number of people who believe that there is a lot of networking as well as marketing power in these sites. One often hears of phrases such as 'the power of social communication'. If one thought of social networking as frivolos or as something that only promoted dating, then one needs to rethink a bit because recently Reuters launched a social networking site called Social Picks, which is essentially social networking site focussing on stocks.

I came across a very fascinating paper that gave me the spark to post this seemingly preposterous article. This paper is titled 'Imagined Communities: Awareness, Information Sharing, and Privacy on the Facebook' and it is available at http://petworkshop.org/2006/preproc/preproc_03.pdf.

It certainly set me thinking that the concept of nation and the concept of imagined community has certainly changed in the age of cybernetics. There has been a clear shift which should be clearly marked and it should be properly debated.

My Contribution to University Website

When the earlier Vice Chancellor, Mr. Syed Shahid Mahdi decided that our University should get a website, I was one of the people involved with it but as it happens in India, a lot of work that you do is rather undocumented, which is quite the opposite of what happens in the West. I never had a single official letter which outlined the contribution that I had made. But here, we have an online link, in one of the Newsletters published by my University, which shows my contribution.

You can access the Newsletter at http://jmi.nic.in/cit/2004_2000_IT.pdf, where you can look up my name on page 32 under 'Special Invitees to the Website Development Committee' and 'Members of the Web Team: Text Review'.

Educational Resource: NYT Learning Network

I learned about the New York Times Learning Network some time ago and forgot to mention it here. This is one of premier educational resources online and you learn a lot from it. It is good for both students and teachers.

You also have a link to Education Life, which is an educational supplement from the NYT. You can access it here: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/education/edlife/index.html

And you also have Campus Weblines, which will help students in putting their campus newspapers online. You can look it up here: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/specials/weblines/

The best thing about the New York Times Learning Network is the fact that it is a rich repository. It hosts lesson plans and news summaries. These documents can easily be modified for an English teaching course. In fact, they can be used quite efficiently for second language learners.

Custom Video Cables

I think this is really interesting. Imagine, I found out about a website that features custom video cables and they are of all types, shapes and sizes. Here is the site: Custom Video Cable

I had never thought of anyone being so ingenious ever to make a website on video cables of all sorts. This is really unusual in terms of being a website. It is this focus that makes it unique. There are serial cables, there are custom audio cables, coaxial cables... you name it, all the cables are there!

The website is also quite informative in nature. For instance, I learned from there that they have five different types of audio cables on offer. They also have various types of keyboard cables.

The best thing that I really liked about this website were its tutorials. I thought they were just great. For instance, the power cord is defined as the mains voltage with power between 100 and 240 volts. Now, I didn't know that the power cord can also work at 100 volts. In these tutorials, we get to glean a number of facts. For instance, they define SATA cable and give us what SATA stands for: Serial Advanced Technology Attachment.

International Prizes / Awards-1

I got my personal copy of The Economist, which I subscribe to, so, it costs me a bit less and I saw an advertisement there about the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment which is open to people from all countries across the world. The home page of their website http://www.thestandrewsprize.com/index.htm has the following information to offer:

Welcome to the
St Andrews Prize for the
Environment website.

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment is an initiative by the University of St Andrews in Scotland and the international integrated energy company, ConocoPhillips.

The Prize recognises significant contributions to environmental conservation and since its launch in 1998 has attracted entries from more than 50 countries each year on diverse topics including;

  • sustainable development in the Amazon rainforest
  • urban regeneration
  • recycling
  • health and water issues
  • renewable energy

Submissions for the annual prize are assessed by a panel of eminent trustees representing science, industry and government with the award going to the project the Trustees consider displays the best combination of good science, economic realism and political acceptability.

Visit the site for further information about the Prize and how to enter the annual competition.


The Prize is worth $75,000 and there are two additional awards of $25,000 each. The idea is to promote a project that can save the environment and can be replicated across the world in various local communities.

There is a call of entries for the 2009 Prize and the last date for which is 31 October 2008.

Civilizational Contours: Walk the Talk-1

Professor Alok Bhalla is really a motivational figure. I had known him earlier when I got an opportunity to listen to him at various places, including the Sahitya Akademi [The National Academy of Letters, India].

Yesterday, a colleague of mine, Professor Alok Bhalla and I went for coffee. So, it wasn't a talk or any philosophical discussion in the strict sense of the term. But if you keep in touch with enlightened minds, you will always gain something worthwhile.

As we took a cup of coffee, my colleague asked Professor Bhalla what he meant by going back to our philosophical contours. So, he explicated his position. He said that in the Indian civilization, there is a lot of commonality that doesn't always exist in many other cultures of the world. He said, for example, in India, we always take a bit from this culture and give a bit to another, which is why we have this composite nature.

He gave us this example of Intezar Hussain, the noted Urdu writer and to quote Professor Bhalla, "Intezar Hussain said he was an orthodox Shia muslim and to me, religiosity comes with difficulty but we had no problems communicating." Then I referred to 'nohas' and 'mersias' that Indian Shia muslims sing during Muharram and I said that there are many common Indian images there, which have no equivalent to the Arab world. And he agreed. Later, when we were going back to the Dept., he told my colleague, "See, this is what I meant by composite culture, where I had no difficulty understanding the word 'noha' and 'mersia'. This is the composite culture that Gandhi and Nehru spoke about. We don't have the kind of violence that the concept of postcolonial has when it is foregrounded by the Western academia."

He then spoke about Andrews being a great friend of Gandhi and he said, "When Gandhi wrote to Andrews, he wrote 'Dear Charlie' and when Andrews wrote to Gandhi, he wrote 'Dear Bapu', and Andrews was an Englishman. So, isn't this another instance of the composite Indian culture?"

And we couldn't agree more with Professor Alok Bhalla.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Latest Inflation Figures in India

The news just came in couple of hours ago that the latest inflation figures are out and it now stands officially at 12.44%. Last week, it was 12.01% and the latest figures are a 16-year high. The Indian Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram, has said that the latest figures are disappointing and he had expressed hopes earlier that it would come down to single digits within the next two quarters.

New Website: Who Just Called Me

(This is a sponsored post but it doesn't mean that this is a partisan post)

I just learned about a very interesting new service, which is called Who Just Called Me? , in fact, I even found the web address very fascinating. They spent some time in thinking about the name. This is a good reverse phone look up service. And I checked couple of numbers and it seems good. The only thing is that it is US based right now.

Great News: Professor Alok Bhalla


This is slightly old but still... We have Professor Alok Bhalla who has been appointed as Visiting Professor at the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi from 2008-2009 and he shall be with us for the next two years. This is a great moment to rejoice for us because all my life, I have rarely seen a more erudite person as Professor Bhalla who was also very lucid in his ideas, speech and language.

For those of us, who have been lost in the information overload of our age, here is some information on Professor Alok Bhalla, none of which is really comprehensive or complete. But this information that I'm providing below is by way of a teaser....

If you would like to see how Professor Bhalla looks, we have a picture here. This isn't the best of pictures because he is much more graceful and very expressive in person. And this same image can also be seen at the Urdu Studies website.

There is a book review that you can read of a book by Professor Alok Bhalla. This review was written in The Hindu by the renowned poet, Keki Daruwalla. You can read the review here.

He has around twenty three books published and is a major authority on translation studies and partition literature among others. He is also deeply interested in Latin American literature. I am sure everyone at the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia University, would gain a lot from his presence. And I'm sure anyone who is a student here can always gain from his insights and listen to him speak.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Career Prospects-2: Why Masters in English?

There was a student of mine. She secured 49% in her BA in English literature. Before her BA results came out, she applied for Masters in English at a university and she was able to clear the entrance test and the interview. She was selected for the course but she needed to secure 50% in her BA to become eligible to take the entrance test for MA. So, obviously her admission to Masters was cancelled. She was distraught and told me that she didn't know what she could do in life because she couldn't get into MA in English.

For most formal courses, a student needs to secure 50% in her undergraduate degree. So, in effect, a number of formal educational degrees are closed to her. But that does not mean that she can not do anything else in her life. I counselled her out of her depression and then gave her some pointers. The first thing she could do, if she were hell-bent on studying Masters in English would be to look into the open university system. In India, we have an excellent open university, which has a wide network. This is called the IGNOU-Indira Gandhi National Open University.

But this isn't really the central point of my argument. My first query is: Why should anyone desire to complete a Masters in English Literature unless they really were interested in literary studies? And even then, the curriculum that we have does not focus a lot on really inculcating a love of literature. Interestingly, the way in which teaching is imparted at various institutions leaves a lot to be desired. So, essentially, one would not gain a lot from the course, except of course, a degree to one's name. And yes, in India, where the colonial hangover remains and also the fact that English is a global language, a Masters degree in English certainly gives a person bragging rights.

For a large number of students, a Masters in English does not really achieve their intended dream and they just have a higher qualification in their hands.

Career Prospects-1

I plan to start writing about the various career opportunities that young people could have after completing their undergraduate degree in India. Sometimes, it pains me to see that many of my students only focus their attention on few traditional courses and do not explore further alternatives.

Website: Essays website

I found out about this essays site, http://www.essays.org and they claim that one can buy essays from them. So, if that's the case, then what's new about this site. The new thing about this web site however is the fact that they also ask you to sell your essays to them. They also have a very helpful page, where they give you tips on how to write a good essay. They call it Write an Essay in Ten Steps. That link can be found here.

On the website, one essay that I found was titled 'Ernest Hemingway', while another essay was titled 'The Comic Character in Three Periods of English Drama'. The web site clearly states that students can simply sell their college and term essays to them and if they accept those essays based on the terms which aren't really clear, then they would make a payment for the essays bought. It also lists the number of words that exist in an essay. The website goes on to say that they would pay upto 350 Euros for an essay. I thought that was pretty high. But one needs to test the system before we begin to doubt it. There are various categories here, in terms of the subjects displayed. Though I am sure as the site develops, they would do better and introduce further categories.

Sounds interesting, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Simple Notes

Sometimes, I feel so tired as I did today. But I just take a short nap and get back to my work. I love all the work that I do. I met some new students in the last couple of days. And as they are new to the campus, first year students, 'freshmen', they seem more enthusiastic. Later, when they have been here for some time, there's something that we must do to them to make them completely lifeless. And right now, its getting late, 11.10 pm, and today we had a power cut as well.

And I need to prepare for my lecture tomorrow. I plan to slowly update my blog with all the various teaching that I do in my life at different places. Teaching is, in fact, my weakness. I can't help it. I love it the same way as some women love to make food. Its like a hobby and I get paid for doing so. Isn't it nice in life? That's why I rarely feel tired. Even if sometimes, I do feel physically tired, it is momentary and then the spirit is quite indefatigable.

In many ways, I have often thought of Santiago, the character in Ernest Hemingway's novel, The Old Man and the Sea as a model to follow in life. Its a slightly macho model to follow--something my die-hard feminists, and rather misplaced ones, would find objectionable. But otherwise, if you look at the message in this novel, about the greatness of human endurance, I am sure there's a lot to learn here.

There are a number of literary characters and situations which are really motivational. In another innovative solution, I plan to talk about it as well.

Website About Rap Ringtones

I found out about this website that seeks to offer rap music ringtones. When I saw the website, I was immediately transported to few of our rap musicians who had 'changed' the landscape of Hindi film songs. The website Rap Music Ringtones states that no credit card is needed and that one can listen to the ringtones for free, which is always interesting and welcome. The website looks good and I enjoyed listening to few ringtones, including the David Banner one. They also have a ringtone from Eminem. Really exciting website! If one feels bored, why not just go there and listen to some rap ringtones?

What is your favorite Hindi song?

If I asked you about your favorite Hindi song, what would you reply? That could be a very tough question because there are so many songs--thousands of them and you might like so many at the same time. I liked 'O Saathi re' when I was a child and I also liked 'Mere sapno ki raani kab aayegi tu' but I think the song that takes the cake is 'Yeh Jeevan Hai, Is Jeevan Ka Yahi Hai Yahi Hai Rang Roop' [This is Life, This Is How It Is, How It Is, Our Life]. This song was sung by the great Kishore Kumar and is from the Hindi movie, Piya ka Ghar (1972)--a pretty old movie but the lyrics are forever young. You can easily get the lyrics by doing an online search for the song.

Yeh Jeevan Hai, Is Jeevan Ka
Yahi Hai - Yahi Hai - Yahi Hai Rungroop
Thode Ghum Hain, Thodi Khushiyan
[There are some pains, some joys]
Yahi Hai - Yahi Hai - Yahi Hai Chaon Dhoop
[This is it, this is it--the peace and hassle]


Simply wonderful. For those of you, who know Hindi, you must read it and listen to it and those
who don't know Hindi, you can always find a translation. Or you can always find a translator
like me to help you out. :) Translation is really a fun activity.

Dryer Vents

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I am making it clear that it is so. But that doesn't mean I am going to endorse anything blindly...)

Have you ever heard of 'dryer vents'? I promise I had never heard of them till I just managed to learn about them. Imagine, how ignorant I felt when I found out about them and I pondered that I didn't even know about all the parts that a dryer contained! We think of ourselves as too well-read and of you are a translator, then that self-impression gets reinforced and this is why, sometimes, you must come across Dryer Vent Wizard that tells you about dryer vent cleaning and you suddenly feel the same that Archimedes felt--> Eureka!, I got it. I learned that most dryer models have a 'one-time' thermal fuse.

One of the problems that are encountered by most users is that there is lack of cleaning and proper maintenance on part of the users. Now, if I were a user myself, I would honestly find it very tough to open the dryer vent and clean it myself. But I can also understand the fact that lack of cleaning could affect the life of the equipment.

The website also mentions a number of online resources that are quite helpful to someone who isn't aware of this subject. In fact, there is so much to find out that one really needs a good eye to do so. The website also states that if you clean the dryer vent properly then it can help prevent fire in your homes, which is really important for the safety and the security of the people. It says that if the accumulated lint clogs the vent, then the vent could overheat and cause a fire.

This relates to cloth dryers and all of us can be careful about it. I really think this is important and even though, this is a sponsored post, I am happy I got to know about it. We have a dryer in our washing machine and we never even gave a thought about the lint getting clogged in the dryer and we never knew if it could have any further consequences.

Beating Fatigue

When you feel fatigued due to over work, what do you do? I normally eat very well and keep on working! That's my mantra for being indefatigable. I also drink huge amounts of coffee but the downside about coffee is that it makes you feel groggy if you have too much of it. So, if you do have too much of it, the best thing is to supplement it with glasses of water, so that the water in your body acts as a diuretic on the caffeine that you consume. This has a dual advantage--first, you get the high from the caffeine, and second, you wash away the caffeine with the water that you drink. I normally have about two teaspoons of strong arabica coffee in a cup. It gives me an immediate high. Then, after a while, I keep on drinking water and top it up with about 2-3 glasses of water over the next 30-40 minutes. Then another half an hour later, I am ready for another cup of coffee or if I feel that the caffeine got too strong, then I'm ready for good, green, jasmine tea or a herbal tea infusion, both of which work to refresh the system, which has usually been punished by hard work, stress and caffeine.

It works. Trust me. Then I keep on eating almonds and sometimes, if I have dates in my house, I eat them too.

Indian Won the Olympic Gold

Abhinav Bindra created history for India by winning the first individual Olympic gold. He won it in the men's 10 metres air rifle event.

Congrats, Abhinav, you broke the jinx.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dieting and Health

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I am making it clear that it is so. But that doesn't mean I am going to endorse anything blindly...)

Well, when I put myself on the weighing scales recently, I was aghast to find myself weigh 67 kilos or a good 147 pounds. I used to be 20% lighter three years ago. Though my waistline has gone up a bit, I'm not too worried because I see a number of heavier people and my colleagues tell me, 'You are all right with your height'. But I can feel ominous signs. I often think about what really heavy people would do. Suppose, someone weighed 30-40% more than what I do and suppose they were about six inches short? Would they really go and use some diet pills or would they simply devote time to natural modes of slimming?

I remember one of my students. This is many years ago. When I first saw her, she was pretty fat, not exactly obese but fat. Then one fine morning, I saw her slim and this was after the vacations. I was tempted to ask her what she did and she told me that she stopped eating carbohydrates and she ate lots of salads every night and that she drank lots of water and that she went for a three kilometer walk every day. I was amazed at the kind of effort people took.

Now, I seem to be headed towards that situation in life. I have a sedentary lifestyle and that contributes to the fat around the stomach. I do drink green tea and it is popularly believed that green tea does help in reducing fat. I also sometimes mix honey with green tea and have it. But I might have to force myself to get onto a three kilometer walk every day.

New Blog: Soft Skills in Life and Work

Dear Folks,

My internet journeys, like the real life journeys of Rahul Sankrityayan, are continuing. I recently found about a very interesting blog that some of you would find very useful. And even those who aren't students should find it useful.

This blog is called Soft skills in life and work and you can access it here:
http://softskillsinlifeandwork.blogspot.com/

I found the entry on Getting Ahead with Interpersonal Skills pretty good.

Enjoy!

Pronouncing Foreign Names: Dale Carnegie

Recently, I had the occasion to listen to a senior Indian professor, who has taught English for a number of years. He referred to 'Dale Carnegie' and pronounced him as 'Carnegie' with the 'j' sound, rhyming him with 'energy'. Now, I knew that the person was 'Carnegie' with a 'g' sound, the same sound that you have in the word 'bag'. I knew this because I had heard the audio book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

This set me thinking--when senior people commit such public blunders, you can't go about telling them in public or in private that they were incorrect. And then, many Indians tend to be very sensitive and seem to take it personally. In any case, I have seen a number of academics take things personally while the issues were strictly professional. Even if I told the person in private, he would take it personally. So, there's no way that I can 'improve' someone's pronunciation but I'm sure I could do something for the younger folk and hope they wouldn't commit such errors.

I know that even if you were an Englishman or an American and if you hadn't heard of Dale Carnegie, then it is certain that you might call him the same way that this professor did. So, what do you do? The best thing is to research online because there may not be any available paper dictionaries that will help us how to pronounce foreign names.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On Thomas Edward Lawrence

Well, we spoke of Queen Rania of Jordan and if we refer to Jordan, how can I not refer to an inspiring figure about whom I wrote in an earlier post, Thomas Edward Lawrence? My earlier post is here: http://roomynaqvy.blogspot.com/2008/05/t-e-lawrence.html

Anyway, for the sake of some trivia, T E Lawrence was born on August 16. That's his birth day.

You can read a pretty long and engaging article on this famous and legendary man on the HistoryNet website. This was also published in the Military History. It is a pretty long and a very comprehensive article. Another small biographical article is at http://telawrence.info/telawrenceinfo/life/biog_lawrence.shtml and I thought this small biographical article was quite impressive because I learned a couple of new things here. I have been a fan of this figure for quite some time but I learned from this article that he wrote another book called The Mint in addition to his well known, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I would like to quote a small passage from this article:


Both in his books and letters, Lawrence was an acute observer of people, places, and events. Among the most memorable passages in Seven Pillars are the vivid descriptions of desert landscapes and of the Bedouin irregulars whose life he shared. The Mint, written in a very different style to Seven Pillars, is, like Solzenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a work of observation written by a highly intelligent man who found himself effectively imprisoned. Lawrence distilled its spare descriptions from events that he had witnessed over and over again. Both Seven Pillars and The Mint have for many years ranked among Penguin's Modern Classics.
So, here we have a cross reference between The Mint and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Lawrence was quite involved with the Middle East.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah

Have you heard of Her majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan? She is the queen of Jordan, a celebrity, who even maintains a YouTube channel. You can see her website at http://www.queenrania.jo which is also her official website. To quote Her Majesty from her website:

“A journey of a thousand miles can begin with a single click. With new technologies, we don’t have to leave home to make a friend half a world away... Many of you have been fortunate enough to experience my side of the Middle East…the warm hospitality, the peace-loving people, the stunning landscapes…the side that your algorithms might not prioritize. So, I’d like you to join in the conversation because we need more voices…”

Such true and impressive words. I read about her today in the Times of India, a national Indian daily. She has been a great advocate of women's rights and she desires to dispel the various stereotypes about muslims and about the Middle East through her YouTube channels and her other activities. She was also named one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes.

You can watch the Queen's YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/QueenRania

And if you wish to know about her views on women empowerment, you can read them in this article on her official web site.

History of the Internet

How many of you are aware of someone who is known as the Father of the World Wide Web? Any idea? Its a person called Tim Berniers-Lee and he often speaks of the importance of the 'semantic web'. You could read about him in an article on Times UK. This is a very interesting article.

Then you can read a very exhaustive and a very informative article on The History of the Internet at the Internet Society website and it can be found here. It tells you that 'in 1972, Kahn organized a large, very successful demonstration of the ARPANET at the International Computer Communication Conference'. Right now, we are in 2008 and even ARPANET wasn't exactly the Internet that I'm using to communicate with you.

Anyway, the big boom came later.

Have you heard of "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web"? I am quite sure most of you would feel I'm muttering some greek and latin to you. Well, have you heard of Jerry Yang and David Filo? Perhaps, some of you have. Jerry Yang and David Filo were the two young people who pioneered Yahoo! and it was first known as "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web". Later, they called it Yahoo! and Yahoo is an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle". This is something I am sure no one knew. Anyway, you can read the history of Yahoo! at their Media Relations page.

Medicine Website

I recently learned about a website that states they have the '2 best diet pills' and it says that they are an 'Internet guide to the best diet pills'. It is interesting about the kind of variety that exists on the Internet--it is such a free, liberating medium. This particular website is called Prices Exposed and their website is http://pricesexposed.net. It is interesting to read about the information that it supplies on the home page.

I wouldn't say that I am recommending anything here but the sheer wealth of such information available on the Internet is quite astonishing. And interesting. A priori, there is no marketing pitch here and the second thing is that visiting websites that even claim to offer any product for sale is no problem. The least benefit that you get is to discover and glean more information. So, from the information angle, it is certainly very interesting. Secondly, even if one had one's doubts, there is the information given which can always be cross checked. So, the moment, I'm free, I am going to check the information given on the home page on this website, Prices Exposed and how it fares.

2 best diet pills

Mahmoud Darwish has passed away

I don't know how many of you have heard of the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish. In fact, he was known as the Palestinian national poet and was always one of the people mentioned when it came of the Nobel sweepstakes for some time.

Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 to 9 August 2008) is no more. He passed away after suffering complications in an open heart surgery. You can read the story on the BBC website.

Let me give you one of his quotes:

I thought poetry could change everything, could change history and could humanize, and I think that the illusion is very necessary to push poets to be involved and to believe, but now I think that poetry changes only the poet.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Laloo Prasad Yadav's Blog

I am sure if you are an Indian, then you have certainly heard of someone called Laloo Prasad Yadav. But I am sure if you were a student at Harvard Business School, you might still have heard of this man. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is a well known and a senior journalist and I found one of his articles on Laloo Prasad Yadav published in The Hindu Business Line, which is a prestigious Indian national daily. The article was published in 2004 and is called The Durability of Laloo Prasad Yadav. I found it to be a very informative piece. He is an Indian politician and he is full of humour. That's the best thing that I have seen about him. I'm not stating here that this is either a political blog, which it is not, and I am not making a case out for any politician here. But I'm writing about something that I found fascinating.

This person is the present Railway Minister of the country and all of us that he has been able to turn around Indian Railways in a most remarkable manner. The Indian Railways network is one of the biggest the world over and for a number of years, rather ever since the Indian independence in 1947, it had always been a loss making government enterprise. But after Laloo Prasad Yadav took over, he ensured that it started making profits. He has been much appreciated for this turnaround. He has received international business acclaim for this feat.

Anyway, I was able to discover his blog. I thought that was something. So, there are two blog posts and this is hosted under celebrity blogs at Mypopkorn and the link is http://www.mypopkorn.com/blogs/celebrityindex.html -- you could see that one is a blog about the Indo-US nuclear deal and in the other, he thanks people. Both blogs are available in English as well as in Hindi and there is a podcast in Laloo's voice, where he speaks in Hindi.

Lack of bookshops in many areas of New Delhi

Now, all of you are aware of India as a country that is growing at about 9% per annum. That sounds great. I attended a National Policy Conference on Microfinance recently, where I learned that while our growth rate is about 8-9% per annum but poverty reduction is 1% per annum. So, there's an anomaly there. I understand that the present government, as well as the earlier governments of the last six decades since the Indian independence, have found it very difficult to reduce povery in an effective manner.

But what about the present efforts? What about the present allocation in the budgets? What about creating a stronger civil society? I know that government cannot be faulted for everything.

But there are some facts that would surely shock anyone. For instance, do you know that there are a number of areas in the Indian capital, New Delhi, which are completely devoid of good bookshops?

Let us take the case of South Delhi, the so-called premier disrict of the city. If you move from Badarpur Border which is one end of South Delhi and touches the Delhi-Haryana border at Faridabad and if you move from there towards Sarita Vihar, which is supposedly a prime area [with flat prices starting at Rs. 5 million [$130,000] for flats which are about 1000 sq feet]--> in that distance, from Badarpur Border to Sarita Vihar, you have certainly covered about six kilometers [four miles]. Now, if you moved from Sarita Vihar to the New Friends Colony complex, Sukhdev Vihar, Ishwar Nagar you are essentially speaking about exceptionally premium areas, where you have flats as well as pretty good bungalows. The bungalows that you have in these areas would start at least at Rs. 50 million [$ 1.25 million] for plot sizes of about 300 sq m.

By the way, you have something called the New Friends Colony Complex, where you also have the Surya Hotel, which is sometimes called Sofitel Surya or the Best Western Surya, which is a five star hotel. You even have a new multiplex there. And in this complex, you have McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, and you also have Indian coffee chains such as Barista and Cafe Coffee Day. So, this isn't any god-forsaken place. It is certainly a prime location.

Then, if you went in another directon and wanted to touch another Delhi border, at Kalindi Kunj, you would have crossed the Jamia Millia Islamia University campus and you would need to traverse the entire length of Okhla to reach there. Now, when you began from Badarpur Border and reached the New Friends Colony complex, you would have covered a minimum of eight kilometers [six miles] and then, you can go ahead to Maharani Bagh and Ashram, which would add another two kilometers to your sojourn. And that is another prime area. And you have pretty bg celebrities staying there. One former Indian Prime Minister, Mr. I K Gujral stays there or used to and then, the husband of Ms. Priyanka Vadra [nee Gandhi] stays somewhere there or used to and you had the noted painter Satish Gujral, whose works and murals sell for a lot... staying there.... and you can name anyone and most of them stay in this area.

But you would have never seen a single bookshop worth anything in this entire region of about ten kilometers. Yes, you would find stationery shops, where you can buy envelopes and office supplies. But you wouldn't be abe to see a single good bookshop anywhere here. The area that I have referred to here has a great variety of people staying here. We have people, who are of different religions and who have come from various parts of the country, we have very rich people here, we have very educated people here. We have schools here and we have a University here. We have people who are quite poor who also stay here and they are the ones who should actually be getting such services.

Now, it isn't the government's fault and the government cannot monitor everything. But we should have some strong civil society groupsand people, who should give a thought to how our cities are shaping up. I don't have the money to set up a chain of bookstores, so, I can't do it. But we should seriously have more focus on increasing the reading public.

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