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When you are raised in a patriarchal society, one of the most dangerous things you pick up is the insensitivity towards the other half of the society (women). 

The story of words

I am so curious of languages and their evolution that I keep on thinking and exploring the words and their origins. All of a sudden I came across a word in English called Furlong (which is a medieval unit of measurement approximately 220 yards). I don't know exactly where this word came from in our native language Awadhi - a local form of Hindi spoken around Lucknow. However I guess that this word has come from English language or it is a contribution of British Raj. They brought this word here and slowly this made foray into our daily conversation. This interaction of English and Local Languages was not one way, English had also accommodated many local Hindi language words in its vocabulary like Sepoy - Soldier; Toupi - Cap; Jungle - Forest etc. Furlong is well accommodated in our conversation and daily lives in Uttar Pradesh.  People don't spell it as 'Furlong', they rather pronounce it as "fallang". When I read this word today here on this site (http://www.phrases.org.uk/index.html) which is devoted to English phrases and sayings, I all of a sudden recalled my childhood days. My grandfather had a good command over both Sanskrit and Urdu and he used to listen to Urdu news programs everyday in the morning aired from "Lucknow Akashwani". He would use Urdu words frequently in his day to day conversation. I heard this word several times from him, even my grandmother used to use it for telling the distance apart from other local measurements of distance like "KOS" and "Mile" pronounced as "Meel". Meel itself is a contorted form of "Mile" an English measurement unit - I suppose - I don't its evolution and origin place.

I was just wondering how come these words slowly got into our lives during 200 years of colonial rule. I wonder how rich our languages have become over time. The origins of the words are so complex that it is almost impossible to reach to any proper conclusion about their evolution and assimilation time.  History has always been my passion and now I understand why is it so. It is so because my grandfather, father and grandmother had kept the history of my forefathers alive in their memory and used to tell me the stories with so much detail that I could literally create a picture of the past in my mind. I am always grateful to them and I would try hard to impart the same knowledge and interest to my darling in future.   

Curiosity

Since childhood, I have been curious about very tiny details of human life. I don't know why? and I don't claim that this just happens with me, it might be the case with several others in this world. However my taste has always been different may be because I was born and brought up in a village. Why did I start writing today? The reason is that when I was looking at a page of wikipedia which told the facts about oldest surviving minaret in the world, I zoomed in the picture and tried to look closely at it. I was trying to look at minute details of the walls. Suddenly I realized that this has become my habit to explore and go into minute details. My imagination suddenly took me to my village. I recalled that how curious I used to be about MatchBox. I had a question in my mind. That was "when match box was not invented what would have people done to ignite fire? How would they have done it in Europe before industrial revolution (thinking about damp rainy days in rural England infested with grass and mud)? How would they have done it in Indian villages? Did every body suffer just because of unavailability of matchbox? How would the palace be lit at time of Akbar or say Ashoka? How would it feel at that time?" In the same way, take the example of roads (Coal Tar Roads). When these were not in existence, what would that life have been like? What would it feel like travelling 100 km on an unpaved way. No roads only wilderness and green fields. 

Formative years in academia


31/May/2012

While you are in  formative years of your career especially academics, you generally don’t want to do any collaborative work. Even if you want to do, you just want to do some donkey work, you don't want to think and come up with new ideas. You want either to achieve things own your own or want to get them for free (without any hard work/thinking). If somebody offers you a work to do, you think a lot about your benefits and losses and if you find that other person is going to gain more than what you are going to, you leave the opportunity. I don’t know it prevails everywhere or just in India. Since I am from India, I know it exist there in the psyche of majority of the students and in some of my friends too.

First time in Banaras


12/05/2012

बात उस समय की है जब मैं १२वीं की परीक्षा उत्तीर्ण करके बीए में प्रवेश लेने के लिए बनारस गया हुआ था | पिताजी भी साथ थे | हालाँकि मुझे पिताजी का आना पसंद नहीं था लेकिन उनकी बात को टालना उनके दिल को दुःख पहुँचाना था इसलिए मैंने उन्हें बनारस आने के लिए कहा | उनकी जिद्द थी कि हम उनकी जान पहचान वाले गन्ना विकास संस्थान में रुक जायेंगे | यह गन्ना संस्थान बनारस शहर से दूर था और छोटे से कस्बे के चौराहे पर स्थित था | गर्मी के दिन थे और वो भी बनारस में | पारा ४५-४६ डिग्री छु जाता था, हालाँकि बारिश का मौसम शुरू हो चुका था | हमें प्रवेश लेने के लिए बनारस हिन्दू विश्वविद्यालय जाना था और इस प्रक्रिया में कम से कम २-३ दिन लगते थे |
शाम का समय था | गन्ना संस्थान पहुचाते ही ऐसा अनुभव हो रहा था जैसे मैं किसी अनजानी जगह पर पहुँच गया हूँ | साथ ही यह जगह कुछ ऐसी थी जिससे पता नहीं क्यों मेरा मन वहां से जल्दी से जल्दी कहीं और जाने का हो रहा था | एक हरियाली रहित और धूल-धूसरित चौराहे पर स्थित इस संस्थान में बहुत कम लोग ही दिख रहे थे | शुरुआत में तो हमें पहचाना नहीं गया क्योंकि मुख्या अधिकारी जो पिताजी को जानते थे उस कैम्पस में नहीं रहते थे | हालाँकि लंद्लिने फ़ोन जो कि काफी जर्जर हालत में दिख रहा था उससे एक कॉल करने के बाद हमें यह बताया गया कि कमरा आपको जल्द ही मिल जायगा | हमें एक कमरा दे दिया गया जिसमे एक कूलर और बढ़िया गद्दे वाले बेड पड़े हुए थे | पिताजी ने गर्व से मुझे बोला "देखो ! कितने अच्छे कमरे हैं |" मुझे ज्यादा कुछ अच्छा नहीं लग रहा था और मुझे भूख भी लगी हुई थी | घर से लाया हुआ भोजन हमने किया पर पता नहीं क्यों मेरा मन कही और ही था | मुझे कुछ भी अच्छा नहीं लग रहा था | मुझे बहुत जोर कि प्यास लगी हुई थी और जग का पानी एक दम खुलता हुआ | मुझे फिर लगा कि पिताजी मुझे किस जगह पर लेकर आये हैं | हालाँकि पिताजी ने एक नौकर से ठन्डे पानी के लिए बोला पर जो पानी वह लाया वो भी बहुत ठंडा नहीं था जैसा मैं चाहता था | मैंने पिताजी से बोला कि बहार चल कर थोड़ी बर्फ खरीद लेट हैं पर मेरा कहना व्यर्थ था | रात हो चली थी |
पिताजी थकावट के कारण निद्रा में जल्द ही लीं हो चुके थे पर पता नहीं मुझे क्यों नींद नहीं आ रही थी | उस समय के छोटे क्या बड़े कस्बो में भी रात में बिजली चली जाया करती थी | यहाँ भी बिजली जाना कुछ नया नहीं था मेरे लिए | अचानक रात में बिजली चली गयी और मच्छरों ने मेरे कान में अपने राग सुनाने शुरू किये और गर्मी तो थी ही | पसीने से तर बतर हो रहा था मैं और परेशान होकर पिताजी को बोला कि मैं छत पर जा रहा हूँ | पिताजी ने बोला कि वहां भी मच्छर काटेंगे, यही रहो थोड़ी देर में बिजली आ जाएगी | लेकिन मैं बचपन से मनमौजी था और हॉस्टल में रहकर किसी और कि न सुनना मेरे लिए आम बात थी | और दूसरी तारा[ह पिताजी भी मुझे कभी दुबारा नहीं बोलते थे क्योंकि वो जानते थे कि मैं अपने मन क़ी ही सुनता हूँ | वैसे भी यहाँ पर पिता और पुत्र के सम्बन्ध कभी भी वैसे नहीं रहे अक्सर हम देखते और सुनते हैं | मेरी बात पिताजी से बहुत कम होती थी और अभी ऐसा ही है | माँ को मैं अपने नजदीक पाता हूँ, पर उतना भी नहीं जितना आम तौर पर होता है | हाँ तो मैं कहाँ पर था - मैं छत पर जाना चाहता था | मैं छत पर चला गया, गर्मी से थोड़ी रहत मिली पर एक भी तिनका नहीं हिल रहा था और मेरा मन बेचैन ही था | कभी में उस तीन मंजिल आवास से दक्षिण क़ी तरफ रेलवे लाइन पर जाती हुई रेलगाड़ियों को देखता तो कभी फिर दीवाल का सहारा लेकर बैठ जाता और मच्छरों के आने पर अपने सर और पैर चादर से ढक लेता |
अचानक तभी बिजली से सारा क़स्बा रोशन हो गया और मैं सीढ़ी से नीचे वापस आ गया और कूलर क़ी ठंडी हवा में फिर सो गया | पिताजी जग कर फिर सो गए | सुबह हुयी हम नहीं धो कर तैयार हो गए बी एच यू जाने के लिए | वह से शाम को लौटने के बाद फिर हम "पड़ाव" स्थित गन्ना संस्थान में आ गए | मुझे बचपन से ही भोजन में जो पसंद आता है वही खाता हूँ | संस्थान के बहार कुछ दुकाने थी जो कि गन्ने का रस, भुने हुए अनाज, भोजन इत्यादि कि थी | हमने जिस लेने के बाद कुछ केले ख़रीदे और संस्थान कि तरफ चलने लगे परन्तु मेरा मन था कि कुछ नमकीन भी ले लिया जाये | मैंने पिताजी को थोडा डरते हुए बोला कि मुझे मूंगफली चाहिए | उन्होंने मना नहीं किया और मूंगफली के दाने खरीद कर मुझे दे दिए | मैं मन में थोडा सा अच्छा महसूस कर रहा था क्योंकि उन्होंने मना नहीं किया | आज क़ी रात बिजली नहीं गयी और हम एक सुकून बहरी नींद ले सके |

Resurrection of a geographer !


Geography was my passion but somehow over time the enthusiasm declined. Today being in the library now it seems, I must utilize this time for resuscitation of my passion for Geography. Despite this feeling inside, I being a realist don't want embrace Geography the way others in India have done. I will always pay attention to the real problems with a strong basis of philosophy of Geography. I hope I would succeed. Utilization of time means use of time in reading and understanding the philosophy of Geography especially the changed taking place after 1980s. This change is generally neglected in Indian Geography. However, I thank my teacher Dr Rana for keeping wonderful philosophical topics in the course. The small introductions had paved the way for this thinking of mine. I hope one day, I would teaching my students the philosophy of Geography.

Sunny days in Portsmouth






Sun in Portsmouth seems to be more generous than anywhere else. Today is a cool sunny day and this indicates the arrival of summers in England. After lunch, I decided to go for a long cycle ride around Portsmouth. This time the area was different. It wasn't Southsea...my love. It was Langstone harbor and surroundings. As always, I set out all alone and kept on cycling in an unknown direction. However I knew that I was within administrative boundary of Portsmouth. As I was with my cycle, I could not take as many pictures I wanted. I rested for a while in a ground and clicked some pictures while talking to my sister on the phone. I loved this day of exploration. After exploring new streets in Portsmouth, I felt as if I am still new t0 this city.

Below are some pictures, that you all might like.

From Nov. 26th 2011 to March 2012


You never know how the things would turn out to be in your life. Last time I wrote on this blog was about procrastination. After several weeks now I am going to write what happened during this period.

26th November seems to be a distant past now, however I can vividly remember what happened since then in my life. Not only my academic life experienced upheavals but my personal life also came to a halt during this period.

From 26th onward, I pretended to be busy in preparation for the Winter School presentations and other stuff related to visa to Italy. Winter School was my first academic experience outside UK. It was wonderful to visit a city like Padua. I loved the city and enjoyed the city to the fullest. I will write about the stories of Padua someday a separate post in this blog. After this wonderful visit came the holidays of Christmas.

I absolutely didn't do anything during this time. I wasted my holidays in preparing for multilevel workshop at Bristol University going to be held on 3-6 January. Multilevel modelling workshop was another great experience. Apart from learning the technique, I roamed around the alleyways and streets of Bristol. On the completion of the workshop, I headed towards another wonderful city which is also among the World Heritage Sites declared by UN. yes I am talking about BATH. I loved the city and wanted to stay there for a few more days but It wasn't possible since I was with my teacher who perhaps take care of money very well. I am little callous about it and you can call me "manmauji" (in Hindi).

I started working on the second objective of my PhD after that vacation. I did try hard but wasn't really successful. Matters in my private life were taking over my academic life and it was becoming too hard for me to cope. However, things became easy slowly by second week of February. But this was not the end of it.

One day, my guide called me for a secret meeting and briefed me about a "horrible and shocking" news. I was shocked to hear the allegations against me. Since then I wasted my three weeks at least in order to present my views on the allegations against me. I defended the case successfully. What I faced was a mental trauma that could have ruined my academic career. I will always remember the lessons learnt from it. However, things were perhaps already decided and it was for betterment of my career. I changed my topic in order to avoid any future confrontation in my academic life. The lessons learnt from this episode will always prove to be important in my academic life.

I am now working for future without paying much attention on what has happened in past few months.