Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Masters of yesteryears

Everyone has that one teacher (or teachers) who stand out in their life and they never fade. It is very rare that you meet your teacher after three decades. I am talking about Mr M G Ghokale who taught us Engineering drawing when we were undergoing training at Telco (now Tata Motors) 

Met him today at a friend’s son’s wedding.

It is said that if you can master the art of reading an engineering drawing, then designing a component is an easy task. This will be vouched by all those who underwent tutelage by Mr MG (that is what we used to call him) He was very particular about the letterings and the dimensioning practices that are used in engineering drawings. 

At the bottom you can see the date and MG’s signature.  That is almost 44 years ago. (I still hold on to my old journals)  I remember the piece of advice he gave “always carry a small diary and a pencil in your pocket. Ideas will hit you at the most unexpected time. Jot it down immediately as you are bound to forget it later”  This is so true.

I also admire (and practice) the method he taught us about “remembering things” He demonstrated this in our class. He asked each one of us to name any two objects. He said he can later reproduce what each one of us named (at random) There were 30 of us in the class and he did deliver what he promised. I had mentioned Typewriter and Rose. He said the trick to it was “I just visualised Joe sitting in front of a typewriter with a rose on the typewriter. That picture was frozen in my mind so its easy to reproduce it if you mention any one of these three things”  

Somewhere along the way he left the nine to five job to pursue his passion “creating special surgical instruments” He is now 79 and still indulges in his passion. I am told that surgeons take him to the operation theater where he can actually see the requirement of the doctors and then design and create the instruments. What a wonderful way to live a retired life. Every day is a challenge.

He has won the Industrial Merit Award in 1990 and the Bharat Gaurav in 1996.

Coming back to the Engineering drawing, I think it is no more required now as everything is created by the computers and there is no thinking involved.

But I am happy I learned it the hard way as it helps me in my day to day life.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The root bridge

I just stood there in awe looking at that root bridge. A classic example of the symbiotic relation between humans and nature. 

This bridge is about 180 years old and it is over the Thylong river.  It is worth mentioning here that the four major clans, Khongsar, Khongthohrem, Khongliar and the Nohwet village had a major role to play in the creation of this living root bridge.  You have to go down about 450 steps from the road level to reach the bridge.  

The entry fee to visit the bridge is only ten rupees and it is managed by the Dorbar Shnong Nohwet.  

I noticed that there were volunteers from the village who kept a watch on the bridge. You can walk across the bridge but stopping or taking selfies on the bridge is not allowed. You can see one of the tourists being adamant about clicking a selfie inspite of the volunteer telling him to get off the bridge.    

As seen all over the North East, there are dust bins provided at every possible corner.  

This sign board talks about the dos and donts. 

Looking at it from a different angle, you can see the tree is supporting itself as well as the bridge.

Sustainable living architecture that will live for generations to come.

Walking around the river bed I had a closer look at the life around the river. This guy was waiting for his lunch 

While walking down the steps I heard a lot of chirping sound and finally located one of them. Can’t believe that this little one could create such a racket. 

Clicked one more picture from further down the river.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Archers of Shillong

A study of contrasting faces, but both having the same thought “will my number win?” 

This is one of the scenes that is witnessed at the Archery arena of Shillong, where you can bet on any number between 0 to 99 and if your number wins you get eighty times your investment.  A rustic way of betting and probably the only one in the world where the archery skills are put to test with a twist. The winning number is picked up from the last two digits of the number of arrows that hits the target. When we were there the count of arrows were 684, so the winning number was 84.
If you are early you get to see the preparations before shooting. Some final betting is done at the last minute at the counters which is in proximity with the shooting arena. 

Snacks and cigarettes are available for the tense betters. 

Some tourist like to pose with the archers for a picture to be sent back home, while others take pictures.  

Before the event the archers count their arrows and make sure all are in shape. 

The stringing of the bow is done with a gentle push at the middle part with the knee. 

Fifty archers sit in a semi circle (approximately 60 deg) and shoot at the target sitting down. Come to think of it,  I did not see anyone standing and shooting, there should be some reason for it. 

The target is cylindrical in shape (made of bamboo reeds) and is placed at its designated place 

As the shooting progresses you can see the number of arrows increasing on the target. 

The archers are from different clubs and the arrows are colour coded accordingly. There is no incentive for the individual archer, but the club that scores the maximum stands a better chance of being called the next time. The individual archers have a fixed salary.
Before counting begins, the arrows on the ground are cleared away. Arrows resting on other arrows are counted. They are counted and counter checked by a panel of five people 

The counted arrows are stacked in a counting grid with slots of 10 so that its open for anyone to check. 

As the counting is in process, you can see the locals and the tourists anxiously waiting for the result. 

The result is immediately put up for all to see and perhaps to be relayed to other parts of the city where spot bookings are taken before the start of the event. 

I have made a short video on what I saw and it will give you a fairly good idea of the complete event.
 I found this little boy helping around in the arena and at the end of the day he was more than willing to pose for me as he collected all the arrows for the next round. 

There is one school of thought saying that this is gambling and should be stopped, but so is investing in stock market.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Folk dance of Assam

Just finished the Assam part of our twenty day North East tour of India and what stands out in that leg was the cultural program that we attended on the second day. 

What I found good about it was its rustic touch keeping all the original folk dances as it is. 

No keyboards or electronic trappings but sticking to the original instruments of peti (Harmonium) tabla, flute and cymbals. 

There was even a scene where the girls remove one of their hair adornment and use it to produce music by blowing on it. 

I remember this being used as part of the musical score in the old Hindi songs especially by S D Burman.     
All the performers kept a smiling face and there was lot of energy enthused when they performed.  

This girl performed a solo dance with some classical dance moves. 

The famous bamboo dance was performed last and all were in awe at the ease with which the girls hopped in between those fast moving bamboos. I listed it first in the 14 minute video that I made. 

The harvest dance was very peppy and it was nice to see the guys jumping around with their axe and sickle. 

This boy on the flute was multitalented and sang some of Bhupen Hazarika songs.

During the introductory song, Prasenjit Duarah showed us the use of all the different forms of the drums. 

Throughout the program these five boys provided the music with perfection. 

The tribal dance was done by a different set of girls who joined in the chorus singing. 

The audience were also invited to join in, and they did a good job once they got the rhythm of it. 

The thali dance had me really baffled as I kept wondering how the thali did not fall off. 

Some of the audience showed their appreciation by speaking a few words after the program. 

All in all it was a good and entertaining program and my suggestion is that it is something one should not miss if you are in Kaziranga.
Next blog: The animals of Kaziranga