Book Review: Kolaigal Oivathillai

Every year, I take up the Goodreads Reading challenge of reading ‘n’ number of books where ‘n’ is an insignificant number. This year, as always, I am lagging behind and thought I will catch up a little. I haven’t read any Tamil language book this year. I have a great Tamil novel, Parthiban Kanavu, in my to-read list. It is a long and an interesting one. So, I thought I will warm up by reading a shorter novel thus ticking one more book off the list for the challenge. I stumbled upon Kolaigal Oivathillai (transliteration: Murders don’t stop/rest) by Balakumar Somu, in the kindle store. It sounded like a pulp fiction and it’s been a long time since I read one.

kolaigal_oivathillai
Pic Courtesy: Amazon Kindle Store

I was initially skeptical as the name of the book rhymes with a classic Tamil movie Alaigal Oivathillai. The novel also started in a weird way. May be, it’s just me – I haven’t read too many fictions. It picked up pace after few pages and was an interesting read. The details are explained well as well.  I felt that the reasoning behind the antagonist’s character was weak. Somewhere around 3/4th of the book, the story becomes predictable and the plot ends prematurely. For the last 10% of the story or so, the author continues to explain the reasoning for reader’s sake. This reminded me of recent movies of A.R. Murugadoss where they play songs after the logical end of the plot. It kind of spoiled the ending for me.  Nevertheless, this book was fresh, easy read and it got me interested in Tamil novels again.

Cheers!

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125th Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s speech

Today, the World Hindu Congress (WHC) commemorated 125th Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s famous speech at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Here ‘s the Wikipedia link about Swami Vivekanda and here’s the link about the speech.

I admire Swami Vivekananda for he was the embodiment of spirituality and boldness. He often stressed about being bold and courageous and not fearing anything or anyone. My first memories of him are from my school days. Mine was a pro-Hindu school. We often hear Swami Vivekananda’s stories, speeches and quotes setting a benchmark for how an ideal student should be.  Our teachers used to tell stories of him learning everything in one-sitting as an example of concentration and focus that we should strive for. He is much more than that, of course. I have a very deep respect for him.

My respect only strengthened further when I met a couple of his ardent fans in my real life. They were the most un-corrupted people I have met. I particularly remember a lawyer whom I contacted for legal advice before buying my apartment. He was as a simple and straightforward guy who spoke in black and white. Either a yes or a no. Unlike other lawyers who provide a similar service, he charged much much lesser. The others used to charge an arm, I also learnt that he charges nothing for people who can’t pay. When I went to his office, I saw Swami Vivekananda’s books and quotes everywhere. He was very professional and didn’t encourage any loopholes. His integrity may be costing him a little bit in the line of business he is in but nevertheless he was being honest. By the end of that short meeting, I started respecting him and, more than him, Swami Vivekananda.

When it comes to Swami’s works, I have read ‘Karma Yoga’ but I found it very heavy may be because I read it too early. I should read that again for understanding. I have ‘Complete works of Swami Vivekananda’ and I hope to read them and understand them well.

You can find the full text of the speech at Viveksamity website here

Below is the audio recording of Swami’s speech by Subir Ghosh. Thanks to Sanskriti Culture channel in Youtube.

Following are some of my favorite quotes of him:

“Arise, awake, stop not till the goal is reached.”

“The greatest sin is to think yourself weak”

“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves.”

“You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.”

“Comfort is no test of truth. Truth is often far from being comfortable.”

“The fire that warms us can also consume us; it is not the fault of the fire.”

The complete list of his quotes can be found in this Goodreads link

 

Learning to say no

You learn things from most unexpected experiences. I learnt to say No from such a small but repeated encounters.

I usually get down at a point and walk about 2 km while coming back from work. There is a famous bookstore on the way and few eateries around it. At any given time one can see about 20, 25 people in that area.

Almost every other day one can see a young group of 4 or 5 representing various NGOs talking to people. They will be seen trying to convince them that they are not doing anything to this world and donating to the NGO they represent will help them attain salvation. Now, I am all up for charity. But I refuse to give to any random organization.

My first encounter with them was lengthy. Being a self-proclaimed polite person,  I patiently heard for 15 full minutes before saying that I am not interested. I genuinely wanted to hear what they do but I support another NGO that I believe in.

The frequency of my encounters increased and it was getting a bit frustrating to talk to some NGO rep every day. Time was getting wasted for us both. Over the time, my replies became shorter and crisp. This is the evolution of my replies.

“That is so nice of you people to volunteer but I support another organization”

“Sorry, I support another organization”

“UNICEF? I talked to you guys already”

“Greenpeace.org? I talked to you already”

“Children’s relief fund? I talked to you already”

“UNICEF? I talked to you guys already. Didn’t you get enough funds yet? You have been asking people every day”

“UNICEF again? Talked to you last week”

“Already contributed”

“Already contributed?”

“Not interested”

“Nopes”

“No”

“Lost my job”

“Nope”

“No”

“Never”

“Huh?”

“”

There are some questions that keep surfacing in my mind

  • Why do these organizations always need money?
  • Can they eventually help all the people ever?
  • How about the admin costs? Surely not all the people are volunteering?
  • Can there really be an organization that is formed with volunteers only and the money collected is spent completely to the cause?
  • Why do big NGOs like UNICEF ask ordinary people to contribute instead of targeting corporates or wealthy?
  • Does anyone who is contributing even read the financial statement to check where the money is being spent on?
  • How do we choose the organization that we can trust?

 

Instant Motivation – Falcon 9

Everyone has his/her share of ups and downs. One time you are pumped up with enthusiasm and another time, you are worn out like a deflated tube.  If you may have noticed carefully, when you are down on your motivation there is always something that could give you an instant boost. It could be a song, a memory of a trip you had taken, a phone call from a friend, picture of your family and children or anything else.

I have been an admirer of Elon Musk for all his work. Be it an electric car, solar power or a super-human ambition of migrating people to Mars. This guy is insane in an admirable way. Whenever I read something about him, or a see a video of him or his speech, I am in awe. It is true his personal life may not be so glorious but the mission that he has undertaken is larger than life.  I have started reading his biography now. I have seen many YouTube videos about him. The one that I am going to share is the one that gives instant motivation to me. Whenever I feel a little down, I see this video. I draw inspiration from that video. It is not just about Elon Musk but every single person in the video. It tells me that the greatest happiness is in putting in soul and energy into something that others dismissed as impossible and seeing it succeed. The sheer sense of achievement and pride. This video is by Nat Geo about the launch of Falcon 9 by Space X when the first stage of the rocket landed back successfully after launching the satellite into the orbit. Had this attempt failed, it would have made the company to be shut down. As I said, I am intensely moved whenever I see the video. I hope it gives you that burst of motivation too. Cheers!

Consequences of Laziness

Dear People,

We are nearing the end of 2016. Another year passed by just like that. Good things and bad things happened around the world. Take what is good and leave what is bad. Because what is bad for you may be good for somebody else. Whether something is good or bad is subjective. I have talked about this earlier. So I am not going to dwell too much on it. But, there are some common enemies. In my last post, I briefly touched about Procrastination though I shed some positive light on that. In this one, I am going to talk about its cousin Laziness.

Everybody has been lazy at some point in time. It is only the degree of laziness that decides the success or failure. I am going to lay down few verses from Thirukkural, written over 2000 years ago, which talks about the ill effects of laziness. It shows that laziness is as old and as indestructible as cockroaches. This poet has dedicated one section of 10 verses on the topic.  The topic is named “Not being lazy”.

குடியென்னும் குன்றா விளக்கம் மடியென்னும்
மாசூர மாய்ந்து கெடும்.

Even though one’s family has a good legacy, it quickly dies if he has the darkness of laziness.

மடியை மடியா ஒழுகல் குடியைக்
குடியாக வேண்டு பவர்.

If one wants to maintain or increase the dignity of his family, he has to eradicate laziness from his conduct and put in the right efforts.

மடிமடிக் கொண்டொழுகும் பேதை பிறந்த
குடிமடியும் தன்னினும் முந்து.

The glory of the family of an ignorant man, whose conduct is defined by laziness,  quickly perishes even before him.

குடிமடிந்து குற்றம் பெருகும் மடிமடிந்து
மாண்ட உஞற்றி லவர்க்கு.

The family glory decays and faults increases for the ignorant man who give way to laziness and put forth no dignified efforts.

நெடுநீர் மறவி மடிதுயில் நான்கும்
கெடுநீரார் காமக் கலன்.

Procrastination, forgetfullness, laziness and over indulgence in sleep – these four things form a small boat that is desired by those who are down the path of desctruction.

படியுடையார் பற்றமைந்தக் கண்ணும் மடியுடையார்
மாண்பயன் எய்தல் அரிது.

Even though an idle person may be blessed with the wealth of all the kings ruling the earth, he rarely dervies any benefit out of it.

இடிபுரிந்து எள்ளுஞ்சொல் கேட்பர் மடிபுரிந்து
மாண்ட உஞற்றி லவர்.

Those who do not make dignified efforts due to laziness will subject themselves to condemnation and reproach.

மடிமை குடிமைக்கண் தங்கின்தன் ஒன்னார்க்கு
அடிமை புகுத்தி விடும்.

If laziness becomes the characteristic of a person from a good family, it will make him a slave of his enemies.

குடியாண்மை யுள்வந்த குற்றம் ஒருவன்
மடியாண்மை மாற்றக் கெடும்.

When a person overcomes and gets away from laziness, the disgrace brought upon his family will disappear.

மடியிலா மன்னவன் எய்தும் அடியளந்தான்
தாஅய தெல்லாம் ஒருங்கு.

The king who does not give way to laziness will obtain all the wealth passed over by Him who measured the worlds with His foot (God)

I wish you, and your nears and dears, a very active, prosperous, and a very happy new year. May this new year destory the laziness in your life and bless you with abundant health, wealth and knowledge.

Cheers,

Sadagopan

Find, then Forward

thiruvalluvar-quote-kural-423

Social media has great benefits. It has greater disadvantages. It has become a battleground. People take sides and strive hard to one-up the others to show that their belief, their idea, their religion, their favorite actor, even their dog is the best one. The Internet is a great equalizer in that it gives the same amount of freedom to both intelligent and the dumb. When the dumbs mob the social media with useless posts, unverified information and their speculations which are light years away from the truth, the quality of the content quickly degrades. Anybody and everybody with an access to internet has become a warrior, moral police, critic or a judge.

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it. – George Bernard Shaw

Many intellectuals stay away from the battleground thus leading to an explosion in the volume of misinformed content. Many a times, we don’t even know if the information that we are getting on internet is a valid information or it is just a hoax. What is appalling is that people forward and reshare any content without even applying common sense, forget about verifying the information. A recent example could be the tracking chip in the newly introduced ₹2000 note during currency demonitisation in India. The forward was rich with technical details that people easily bought into that as a fact. Or another forward “Parenting tips from 2000 years old Thirukkural”. Thirukkural is a great book but the information that was being forwarded was not from that book. It is but an irony that the same Thirukkural insists that one should investigate and find the real truth about whatever he or she might hear from whomever.

Everyone of us should take a moment to verify the information that we might receive from various sources. Only if we find it legit, we should forward to others. If not, we should not forward it further. Simply refraining from forwarding that message goes a long way in the preventing the rumours from spreading. So, forward responsibily people! Remember Uncle Ben’s words – With great power, comes great responsibilty.

Note: This quote is from Thirukkural. Thirukkural is a great book on Ethics written by the poet Thiruvalluvar more than 2000 years ago in Tamil. This book is one of the most translated books. You can read about the book in this Wikipedia Page.

Note 2: Today’s post was written for Day-5 exercise of Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration. The task was to begin the post with a quote as a hook. An epigraph.

Pic courtesy: muthunagarajan.wordpress.com