Ruskin Bond: It’s all right not to climb every Mountain

The daily Speaking Tree in Times of India is filled with opinions, advice, and commentaries on life by spiritual leaders of various denominations. Some of them get quite dense, verbose, and abstract. Occasionally, one gets a simple, gentle article that touches the heart in a way that only Ruskin Bond can.

To have got to this point in life without the solace of religion says something for all the things that have brought me joy and a degree of contentment. Books, of course; I couldn’t have survived without books and stories. And companionship – which is sometimes friendship, sometimes love and sometimes, if we are lucky, both. And a little light laughter, a sense of humour. And, above all, my relationship with the natural world  – up here in the hills; in the dusty plains; in a treeless mohalla choked with concrete flats, where I once found a marigold growing out of a crack in a balcony. I removed the plaster from the base of the plant, and filled in a little earth which I watered every morning. The plant grew, and sometimes it produced a little orange flower which I plucked and gave away before it died. This much I can tell you: for all its hardships and complications, life is simple. And a nature that doesn’t sue for happiness often receives it in large measure.

Herein lies the question – what more great spiritual achievements does one need if one lives in harmony and in love with Nature?

http://m.speakingtree.in/spiritual-articles/new-age/it-s-all-right-not-to-climb-every-mountain

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The end of Poverty by 2030 (it’s been halved in the last 20 years)

Some truly uplifting news for a change.

In 1990, 43% of the world lived in extreme poverty (then defined at $1 subsistence a day). By 2010, extreme poverty came down by a half to 21%   (defined now at $1.25 subsistence a day). Can poverty be reduced to 1% by 2030?

For all the issues it has caused such as growing inequality and cultural degradation,the economic liberalization of the 90s in India lifted a vast number of Indians out of poverty. But the real driver of change has been the staggering reduction in poverty in China from 84% in 1980 to 10% by 2010 through economic growth.

IN SEPTEMBER 2000 the heads of 147 governments pledged that they would halve the proportion of people on the Earth living in the direst poverty by 2015, using the poverty rate in 1990 as a baseline.

It was the first of a litany of worthy aims enshrined in the United Nations “millennium development goals” (MDGs).

Many of these aims—such as cutting maternal mortality by three quarters and child mortality by two thirds—have not been met.

But the goal of halving poverty has been. Indeed, it was achieved five years early.

Read more here.

http://www.businessinsider.com/a-billion-people-out-of-poverty-by-2030-2013-5

The full Brookings study here

Link

Abandoned 40 years ago, US techie reunites with family in India

I read an amazing story today in the Times of India about an Assamese NRI who was abandoned as a child in India, and lived to tell an incredible success story.

In the summer of ’69, a four-year-old boy inGuwahati was asked by his mother one day to go into the kitchen and eat an orange she had left for him there. By the time he was done, his mother had bolted out of the house and abandoned him. She never returned. The boy and his eight-year-old sister had barely coped with the loss when their father, who was then posted in the Assam capital with the 4thAssamPolice Battalion, sent them to a relative in Kathmandu. They confused their way and found themselves instead on the streets of Nepal, alone and inching towards certain death.

That little, lost boy, Kisan Upadhaya, is today a top notch IT specialist who provides tech support to four institutes within Duke University, North Carolina — Social Science Research Institute, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS), DIBS Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. But in all these years, as he scripted a phenomenal success story for himself, there was always something that ate him up from inside – the thoughts of his family and the sister who tried hard to feed and protect him. He had to find them.

Hilarious Amazon.com reviews

Occasionally, I come across these very creative, very funny Amazon.com reviews. Here are some critically acclaimed reviews (all real)  for 2 game changing products:

1. Uranium Ore (yes, available on Amazon)

Uranium Ore

Great Product, Poor Packaging, By Patrick J. McGovern
I purchased this product 4.47 Billion Years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty.

The Traveler’s Friend By Shady Ave Reader (Arlington, VA)
Whenever I fly I always pack a can of this wonder stuff in each piece of my luggage. As we all know, so many bags look alike. How often do you get to your hotel, only to find you have walked away with the wrong bag, and are forced to wear a stranger’s underwear for the rest of the trip? We’ve all been there right? So when that confusing luggage starts whirling around the baggage claim carousel I just whip out my Geiger Counter and let the uranium go to work for me. I merely wait for those comforting clicks (and after longer flights look for the glowing hot spot) and I know I have found my bags. Occasionally airlines lose my bags (yes, it does happen people). But whenever I fill out that claim form, and let them know my uranium is missing – well I tell you, they literally SPRING into action. They’ll track down that errant bag faster than you can say “Chernobyl.”

And I cannot tell you how many new friends I have made in TSA and Customs since I’ve adopted this sure-fire system. Nothing brightens their day quite like finding a traveler with potentially fissionable material. Throw away those gaudy rainbow bag straps forever and step into the atomic age. It’s no longer just uranium, it’s my-ranium. Thanks Amazon!

Rest of the reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/Images-SI-Inc-Uranium-Ore/product-reviews/B000796XXM/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

2. Hutzler 571 Banana slicer

GREAT Gift, By Uncle Pookie
Once I figured out I had to peel the banana before using – it works much better.Ordering one for my nephew who’s in the air force in California. He’s been using an old slinky to slice his banana’s. He should really enjoy this product!

A military endorsement, By HappyHubby
I have served in the US Army for over 12 years. I can say that there is technology being used by the military that is rarely seen in the civilian sector. Once in a while, however, an amazing product is released by the DoD for civilian use. The 571B is one of those products. Although once called the M571B Tactical Banana Slicer (TBS)V1, they have declassified it for public use. I am glad to see this product on the market today but I will warn you now, this is a CIVILIAN model and not designed for field use!

Finally! A way to slice bananas!, By N. Krumpe (Ohio)
Gone are the days of biting off slice-sized chunks of banana and spitting them onto a serving tray. At long last there is a saliva-free way of slicing bananas. Thank you Hutzler!

Next on my wish list: a kitchen tool for dividing frozen water into cube-sized chunks

Rest of the reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/Hutzler-5717-571-Banana-Slicer/product-reviews/B0047E0EII/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt_sr_5?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFiveStar&showViewpoints=0

Love. Open your heart: Joyas Voladoras by Bryan Doyle

I read a beautiful passage recently on living with caution, with a heart sealed from the ravages of time and emotion. We all engage in this self-defence, do we not? We have no fear as children. As we grow older, and we are stung by our friends, scratched by our family, slapped about a bit by time, we curl our hearts up into a tight-fisted little ball. The ball absorbs like a sponge, but is always on the edge of an explosion. It becomes an involuntary battle as age creeps in. The battle between soaking in or exploding out the pain. In the throes of constant battle, our mind forgets that there is such a state as living with an open heart. That we can be vulnerable, and its ok.

If we are to worry about being stung, we should also remember that there must be a profusion of flowers to have attracted the bee.

The passage is from “Joyas Voladoras” by Bryan Doyle and was quoted on a blog called 3quarksdaily about the lessons of life learned.

So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one, in the end — not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman’s second glance, a child’s apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words ‘I have something to tell you,’ a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother’s papery ancient hand in a thicket of your hair, the memory of your father’s voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.

 

India to become the 4th largest military power by the end of this decade: The Economist

A pretty interesting article. Some insights for me from the article
1. Russia is still India’s largest supplier of arms, even after all the realignment in the global power structure.It accounts for more than half of India’s imports
2. Our ministry of external affairs, the ministry responsible for managing our global relationships and perception, is “puny. Singapore, with a population of 5m, has a foreign service about the same size as India’s.”

UNLIKE many other Asian countries—and in stark contrast to neighbouring Pakistan—India has never been run by its generals. The upper ranks of the powerful civil service of the colonial Raj were largely Hindu, while Muslims were disproportionately represented in the army. On gaining independence the Indian political elite, which had a strong pacifist bent, was determined to keep the generals in their place. In this it has happily succeeded.

But there have been costs. One is that India exhibits a striking lack of what might be called a strategic culture. It has fought a number of limited wars—one with China, which it lost, and several with Pakistan, which it mostly won, if not always convincingly—and it faces a range of threats, including jihadist terrorism and a persistent Maoist insurgency. Yet its political class shows little sign of knowing or caring how the country’s military clout should be deployed.

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21574458-india-poised-become-one-four-largest-military-powers-world-end?

The biggest arms buyers