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MY MISSION : KNOWLEDGE MISSION


In India, English still rules as the most vibrant and viable communication vehicle. There is no dispute in saying that the English is still the mainstay language for our educational and communication needs.

The language has a special charm in Southern and North-Eastern parts of India. Though, I was grown up with my mother tongue Telugu as a medium of instruction up to class 10, my father injected an irresistible charm in me to hone my English speaking and writing skills at the age of 6 or 7. Though English was not taught properly in my school days, it was my dad who had ignited an unflagging spirit and taught me to hone my language skills. Till I entered into my first year of graduation, I was not good enough at writing or speaking in English. Though I had taken English medium in my Intermediate (11th & 12th class) those two years had not helped much to hone my language skills. My father being a qualified stenographer but chose a different profession, used to cherish the career of stenographer which prompted me to learn stenography. So it was in 1988, I started my arduous journey of learning stenography and simultaneously started reading English newspaper - The Hindu daily. As suggested by my father, I used to underline the difficult words in the editorial page and refer dictionary to improve my word power on daily basis. My father used to suggest me to write a passage on any topic on my own to improve my craft. When I followed his word, the desire to excel in English reached to an unfathomable level and I dreamt of writing articles to newspapers/ magazines as a freelancer. An attempt was made by that time to write a letter to the editor of one prominent English newspaper regarding my opinion on certain political issue of that time. When I sent that letter, it was amazing that my piece of comments were published and my joy found no bounds.


The passing of stenography in the second year of my graduation was very much a smooth sail as I put my body and soul on it. By the time I entered into third year of B.Com, one day I was asked by my mother to bring sugar from a nearby provision store. Instead of purchasing sugar, my attention dragged to a nearby second-hand book/old newspaper vendor who stacked and kept a bundle of old English books. When I went near and saw, I was perplexed to see the priceless collection of Vivekananda literature, all published by Ramakrishna Mission. There was hardly any choice and I made up my mind to take the old books with my sugar money. Perhaps, I could not take home sugar, but the sweetness of those books is still lingering in my mind.

When the books were brought home, a recurring dream of Swami Vivekananda for some days put me in quandary to choose between my academic subjects and Vivekananda literature. I could not know what exactly happened to me. A sway of spirituality overpowered me and I find a new delight in Indian philosophy with particular reference to Vivekananda literature. It further drove me to find some other books of Vivekananda in the local Triveni Publishers where I got Vivekandan's famous Chicago lecture book. That electrifying lecture tremendously increased my courage levels. Mine, otherwise a shy guy who always feared to speak in English started talking in English as my friends of that time told me that I used to take long lectures on spirituality. Those books which I purchased occupied a proud place as a first collection in my personal library, started way back in 1989. I had been very kind that my parents did not yell at me for diverting the sugar money for books. Instead, they encouraged me to nurture my reading habit. Afterwards, my father used to give some money on the first of every month and I used to purchase a book or two, thereby I slowly built my treasure trove. Though I almost neglected my studies in preference to Vivekananda literature, I had not felt hard to cope up with exam pressure ,and in fact I excelled in my third year B.Com exams with more than 80 %.

After a little over 2 years struggle in private jobs, Heaven smiled upon me as I was selected as stenographer in a govt. organization. Though it seemed some sort of divine intervention of getting a government job so early at 22, I forecast that I must have to sail in troubled waters ahead. Like I predicted, a major accident dislocated my father's thigh joint and that incident crippled not only our financial well-being but had also taken away my sheen for competing Civil Services Exam. Though, the dream of Civil Services could not materialize, the charm for English did not diminish. I slowly improved my word power by reading newspapers and other english magazines.

There were so many mental challenges, mind wars and personal struggles which made my journey so daunting. In my late 40s I realized that blogging is a better way to express myself that would chisel my craft to perfection. To make the story short, I built my own website with a custom domain called ‘Knoweb’

‘Knoweb’ is an acronym for Knowledge Web . It is driven by a single point agenda of empowering the people with right kind of information. It is a pure Knowledge Mission!

FAILURE IS SPRING BOARD TO SUCCESS


Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Success is a journey and not a destination. In fact, there is no straight jacket formula for success. Though somebody may inspire you, but to succeed you must tread your own path.

Abraham Lincoln is a bundle of failures before he ascended the presidency of the United States :

- Lost job, 1832
- Defeated for legislature, 1832
- Failed in business, 1833
- Sweetheart (Ann Rutledge) died, 1835
- Had nervous breakdown, 1836
- Defeated for Speaker, 1838
- Defeated for nomination for Congress, 1843
- Lost re-nomination, 1848
- Rejected for Land Officer, 1849
- Defeated for Senate, 1854
- Defeated for nomination for Vice-President, 1856
- Again defeated for Senate, 1858
- Elected President, 1860


To embrace success, there is no requirement of formal education or you need not born with a silver spoon in mouth. What you need is a burning zeal to excel in your area of interest. In fact those who learn from their experience are on a much better footing.

Tony Robbins, America's most admired Personality Development guru says that "Success is truly the result of good judgment; good judgement is the result of experience; and experience is often the result of bad judgement. "

Most people wrongly connote success with wealth or material possessions. But in the course of journey, money could be one of the byproducts, but not the end product. Andrew Carnegie, the 19th Century American Steel magnate says that "The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else which he is entitled. " He further adds that " The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world will take off its hat to those who put in more than 50 % of their capacity and the world will stand on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.

In fact, success can be attained in any branch of labour. Andrew Carnegie started his life as a factory worker but rose to the pinnacle of success. He says that "your thoughts are your capital".

Success means aim for the highest. Late Steve Jobs, the iconic Apple Inc. CEO is a college dropout, but reached to the top of the ladder of success by creating the world's most valued company.

Jobs whose iPhone and iPad created flutters says that "Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. "

Napoleon Hill who wrote "The Law of Success” in 1928 revolutionized the concepts of creating wealth, self-improvement and achieving goals. He spent 20 years by interviewing over 100 most successful people in America and found the following 15 characteristic traits for Success:-

1. Golden Rule : Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
2. Tolerance.
3. Profiting by failure.
4. Cooperation
5. Concentration
6. Accurate thinking
7. Pleasing personality
8. Habit of doing more than Paid For
9. Self Control
10. Enthusiasm
11. Imagination
12. Initiative & Leadership
13. Habit of saving
14. Self Confidence
15. Definite Chief Aim

So the subtle lesson is: Material goals are not the end of the road, beyond which there is something richer which Abraham Maslow termed as "Self Actualization". So everybody must strive to reach to that arena and be closer to Reality.

DEATH IS THE END OF MELODRAMA OF LIFE !!

 

The trauma of my aunt’s tragic death  is still hunting me.  It is beyond words to narrate how she fell into a valley while she was going on a horse to reach  the famous Kedarnath Temple in Uttarakhund, India. The manner of death really shocked me and threw me out of gear for some weeks.   The incident had taken me to a new level of wisdom about uncertainty of life.  


Deepak Chopra says that the Prince of Death is just behind you all the time and the only difference is method of execution and length of reprieve.

We see many people who are perturbed to amass wealth in the name of security. To grab the world of possessions they stop enjoying life of present moment and hanker for accumulating wealth.


One great person sagely advises  that " live the life everyday as if it is your last day". In such a living,  you reap the benefits of distilled wisdom of enlightened masters. You need not frighten much about death when it is an inescapable event of life.   Sky is the only limit for human endeavour.  All great personalities who lived on this planet have taught this great lesson.

Steve Jobs, the iconic CEO of Apple Computers who died due to pancreatic cancer is so pragmatic in his ideology. “In his famous 2005 Stanford University speech, he says that :

 

“ When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

On death, jobs says that “ remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

He further says that “no one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

About life, Jobs says that “your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”  

So don’t fear death which you can't escape and do to unleash your potential !

DO MORE THAN WHAT YOU ARE BEING PAID FOR

 

The whole paradigm of HRD revolves around one concept : How to improve the productivity of an employee ?

The company delegates this responsibility to Human Resources Department (HRD) whose job is to strive to improve the work atmosphere and mindset of employees through a host of measures to increase their productivity. Before anything worthwhile is injected into their veins, the first thing they have to do is, change their value system.

Employees have to be motivated in such a way that their performance matters not only to their professional lives but bring a perceptible change in their personal lives as well. They have to be convinced that beyond money, there are some invaluable things which the money can't buy. So it is a soul-stirring exercise for which a firm ground work needs to be laid.

Normally the employee thinks that he or she should work to the extent of being paid for. Whenever, anything requires beyond his/ her normal competence and effort, he/ she simply throws the ball in the court of their seniors. Due to this, the poor soul lags behind in terms of promotions and other incentives/ avenues.

Here comes the world of difference. He is wise who plunges into action before anybody pushes him. The person who is in cocoon never realizes the credence of this lesson.

America's acclaimed author Napoleon Hill in his famous book " How to sell your way through life" says that one should have the habit of doing more than one is paid for his job. In a chapter exclusively devoted for this concept, Hill dwelt at length on how Henry Ford though is a poor and less educated, but by following this unorthodox principle, became a giant automobile maker of America.

So you can ignore this advice at your own peril.

CHANGE THE JOB TO SATISFY THE INNER 'YOU'


It is a virtual hell to continue in a job when your heart is craving for some other dream profession.

Doing a job is of course for those needy bucks. But, settling with less than what you ought to be should not be accepted as a fate.

Most people think that they should have high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) to score high in life. But, what is needed more than IQ is, RQ i.e. Risk Quotient. It is the ability to endure the risk and explore the uncharted territories. You can otherwise call it the amount of guts required to take a bold decision to tread a path for success.

But in the most of Indians, this RQ is abysmally low, because they are the poor souls to satisfy with what they have in their hand, than a desire to climb up in life. In this respect, our Western counterparts are on a much better footing.

A study reveals that any American adults changes his or her job on an average 7 times in their life time. By doing so, they make a wise choice and settle with the best they deserve.

There are countless people who leave their glittering careers only to settle in their dream professions. Chetan Bhagat, India’s legend novelist left his plum job as an investment banker to transmute his passion into a writing career.

So the home point is, drive your passion into a viable venture and monetize your abilities and the first pre-requisite is to increase the risk appetite or R.Q !

EDUCATION - ARE WE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION ?

Man is on the top of evolutionary ladder. The ability to think put us on the highest pedestal amongst animal kingdom.

In the process of educating ourselves, we evolved a system with an institutional mechanism to tap our mental potential and update the information on the Nature's basket. We formally call it as education.

But I am skeptical of  current educational system where there is a fundamental lacuna on the priority of things to be taught first. Tony Buzan, the father of Mind Maps concept, in his much acclaimed book ‘Use Your Head’ felt that ‘ in our worldwide educational systems we have spent so little time learning about how to learn is that we as a race have not known the fundamental principles of the operation of that bio-computer – BRAIN’ In computer metaphor, we have not known the software for the hardware of our brains.

Myself being a product of this current educational system felt low when I was restricted to read the subject of my interest citing that it is not in my stream of subjects in school/college. At that time, I cherished a system where education is based on individual’s inherent  inclinations and capabilities so that he or she can march forward on the desired path unhindered. But this radical approach pitiably has no takers in the market place where your testimonials matter a lot more than your self worth.

After my graduation, I started my hunt for real knowledge and got an opportunity to read some of the world's greatest books. After somehow grasping the ideas of so many renowned people in the field of education, my perception on education dramatically changed. The education which is now centered on rote learning has not inspired me much.

To strengthen my concept of ideal education, I started culling the ideas of great souls. Swami Vivekananda who is my role model  said that education is the manifestation of  the perfection already in man.

According to Jiddu Krishnamurti  Education is not only learning from books, memorizing some facts, but also learning how to look, how to listen to what the books are saying. Education is also listening to the birds, to see the sky, to see extra-ordinary beauty of tree, shape of hills to feel them directly in touch with them.

I feel that the pinnacle of education is to know the Source of Life or what we call as God , Almighty or Creator. I have great a opportunity to read the book ‘Code Name God by Mani Bhaumik  who is one of the pioneers in laser technology, acknowledged the fact that the deeper mysteries of life remain unresolved.

When you look into the latest research in science, you would find that still we are intrigued with the questions of how an electron gets it's energy to revolve around the nucleus. What you call as solid is not at all a solid but only a light or  wave at sub-atomic level. The latest breakthroughs in science re-affirms the fact that there is a mysterious power beyond the realm of human comprehension that is dictating our destinies.

One notable point is we can’t have direct control of even our bodily processes like heart beat, functioning of brain etc. You could find answers to these nagging questions only at spiritual level.

So, my aim in life is not to accumulate material possessions and go into oblivion, but raise my awareness to get a glimpse of that Supreme Intelligence !

DREAMER TO ACHIEVER

Rural India is not dearth of talent. A strong drive to achieve puts you on higher pedestal and treads a path to success. It is immaterial where you are born with a social and economic condition you have inherited. What matters is the quantum of fire in your belly.

Some people perish in the course of their struggle and only few will rise to dictate their destiny.

Dodde Anjaneyulu belongs to the second lot. This pride of Andhra achieved his father's dream of becoming IAS in  2010 Civil Service Examination (CSE)  and got 278th rank. His father who was a watchman in a sleepy village: Jammikunta in backward Telangana region  inspired his son to become Collector and the son took his father's dream to heart, despite abject poverty.

Anjaneyulu through arduous efforts shined in academics and thereafter completed his engineering graduation in 2005. He settled as a software professional for 2 years to accumulate the needy bucks  for the Civil Services Exam preparation. Though the sudden death of his father in 2007 somewhat crippled him, but it solidified his resolve to embark his goal.

Getting selected to IAS is no mean achievement. Every year, around 4 lac aspirants compete the CSE out of which only ten thousand aspirants clear their preliminaries and very creamy few i.e. 1000 finally gets selected for IAS, IFS, IPS and other allied Group A & B Services. So it is all merit and hard work that matters. Anjaneyulu through this covetous achievement, once again proved to the world that a fire in the belly do wonders.

After reading his story in a local Telugu paper Saakshi dated 19 Nov 2011,  I was totally moved. The way his mother broke down after seeing her son’s achievement would strike a chord with any reader. It is palpable to understand the emotions of a mother who wept out of ecstasy, but felt sorry because her husband was no more to see their son's grand achievement. It is a soul-stirring story I ever read in my life.

After reading about Anjaneyulu, I could not resist without congratulating him. But how? That question haunted me for a while. Had it been 20 years earlier, I might have crushed my desire. But the Information Age prompted me to find ways. So I jumped into action and searched for his email ID in the Google. Being an internet buff, it was not a difficult task and I managed to get his Facebook link through which I got his e-mail ID. Immediately, I sent an email congratulating him for his achievement. It was so exhilarating that he not only acknowledged my mail quickly but spoke to me over phone with a full of gratitude and humility.

I read somewhere that the great tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us (talent) while we still  live. Anjaneyulu deeply engraved his father's dream to become IAS by which he not only proved a darling child to his parents, but a shining star to the millions of aspirants.  

ARE U A GOSSIP MILL?


No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.
                                    
                            - Bertrand Russell

A large chunk of leisure time is spent unproductively by majority of us in gossip. If two people meet, they talk less of themselves and more of the world.

If you involve more in gossip, you will be in utter  chaos. Indulging in such unproductive and futile talk not only seep your energies but also negativity corrodes your system. Instead, you could use those energies for self-reflection so that you can tread a path of
success.

Socrates gives a Triple Filter Test to overcome this problem:

One day an acquaintance met Socrates and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

Hold a minute, Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything, I’d like you to pass a little test. It is called the Triple Filter Test.

Triple filter?

That is right, “Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be good idea to take a moment and filter what you are going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. "

The first filter is TRUTH. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?

"No," the man said, “actually I just heard about it and ...."

All right, “said Socrates.” So you don't really know if it is true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of GOODNESS. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?

"No, on the contrary...”

"So, Socrates continued,” you want to tell me something bad about him, but you are not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of USEFULNESS.

Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me? "

"No, not really. "

"Well, concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?

If everybody prevails on the wisdom of Socrates, we could channelize such unproductive energies for more
creative pursuits.

LISTEN !

 

Listening is  key to effective communication . If you see your sense organs, it is apparent that the Creator has given you two ears and one tongue for a reason: listen double to what  you speak.  

Research reveals that people spend 70 % of their work life in communication, and listening occupies a lion's share of 45%. Talking accounts second with 30 %, reading and writing rank third and fourth with 16 % and 9 % respectively.

A good listener is always superior in his actions than a glib talker who runs out of words as well as energies. Without paying much attention, they indulge in futile talk which may help enemy to ascertain his plans.  

Listening is obvious to increase your analytical  and judgemental faculties.  Listening skills benefit a lot in personal life, like having great number of friends and improved social networking and more importantly a high self-esteem.

The importance of listening need not be over-emphasized for a marketing professional  whose job is to connect more with his clients. If you are a good listener, it will give a lasting impression at personal level and contribute to both to your personal and organizational growth.   For
software professionals  this faculty is of paramount importance to know minutely the user experience for which they have to pay attention and this could be possible only through effective listening.

In nutshell, listening gives an unparalleled wisdom to know about the other person. So next time when anyone try to speak to you,  allow him/ her to do so, instead of interrupting in the middle. It is not only a good manner, but an intelligent way of tackling other person in consonance with his/her emotional needs.

WHAT IS ELEPHANT'S MEMORY ?

 

I was pretty amazed one night when I read that former Chief Election Commissioner of India T.N. Seshan had an elephant's memory and he could quote verbatim long passages, be it from scriptures, prose or poetry.  This former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from South India was labelled as the  hardest nut to crack in the political circles of his times.

When I see my reading commitments with books piled up on my table, I wish that all information in those books should go into my brain instantly like Director S. Shankar's Tamil science fiction  movie Enthiran in which the hero Dr. Vaseegaran  creates a sophisticated android   that  astonishes the audience with jaw-dropping tricks like reading bulky books/magazines in a blip of second with it's X-Ray eyes.

I wonder whether that  is within human possibility or not.  I can't summarily dismiss that act as shown in that movie.  But there is enough evidence to prove the power of human brain through powerful personalities like Swami Vivekananda who is blessed with such photographic memory.

If we go into the mechanics of memory, it is said that our memory works basically on one cardinal principle : Interest is the mother of attention and attention is the mother of  memory.  If a thing ignites you enough and when you feel the need to memorize, you could do it effortlessly.

When it comes to Elephant's Memory,  I read that Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee is gifted with a phenomenal memory power.  Even in his ripe age, he used to  read a lot and write  journal/diary.     Why it is called elephant's memory because the elephant never forget.   It doesn’t have appreciable eyesight, but it never forgets a face.  The elephants in the group check one another out with their trunks.  Another interesting fact is that  elephants also recall routes to alternate food and water sources when their usual areas dry up. 

The elephant's memory is not an illusion and one could  cultivate it through self effort.



I AM A READING AMBASSADOR



Reading is like an opium that addicts you! The itching increases with time, but it keeps you sane all through life !

I was born in a family where my father used to read newspapers and magazines with large chunks of time. I could vividly remember that even a waste paper that comes to his way with a snack is not neglected and he takes a curious look at it to find any interesting stuff to read. That habit stealthily entered into my system and stayed there.  May be that is the possible reason for my habit of high dose of reading or you could say, it encoded in my genes!

Latest research on genetics says that you can change your gene activity at any time. It further says that your genes are fluid, dynamic, and responsive to everything you think and do. Scientists say that Earth's 2.8-billion-year-old genetic legacy is present inside each of us right now. They also say that DNA is responsive to everything that happens in our lives. This opens a new a flood of opportunities for self-improvement, and reading is no doubt one such activity that has no substitute !

Joseph Addison rightly says that reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. It means you need to read something on daily basis to sharpen the saw. Honestly speaking it keeps my youthful vigour in tact, even at 50+. This is not self-trumpeting but a naked truth.

In this age of Information Democracy, many of us believe that internet substituted all our knowledge and information needs. But that notion is absurdly wrong. Books continue to have their dominance to inspire and guide our lives.

The reason for the innate need to read is our wish to step into the shoes of other person - writer/ author and gain his/her insights or world view or fantasy world. The more you read, the better would be your world view. My 35 years of reading saga has brought some revolutionary changes in my persona and it never keeps my life dull !

At last count, I find that approx. 150 books are on my conveyor belt and this speaks that I am a self-appointed Reading Ambassador of books of my choice. In fact this term Reading Ambassador is coined by Publishers Association of United Kingdom who requested all book-lovers to become Reading Ambassadors in their communities. They believe that a good book spreads with a word of mouth and the Social Media is our extended mouth!

Generally publishers tend to approach newspapers and magazines to offer book reviews for their newly published books. Marketing the books through a network of bloggers is still an alien concept in publishing industry. I am optimistic that in the coming years, a trend to appoint bloggers as Reading Ambassadors would revolutionize the book-sale business and it would help to grow the booklovers.

If any such opportunity comes to my way, I love to be a Reading Ambassador.

Hope somebody is listening in the publishing fraternity !

MY INTERACTION WITH A BOOK LOVER

 

      Image Courtesy : My Samsung Galaxy E7 Smartphone  

There is no friend as loyal as a book    - Ernest Hemingway

At 50+, I am not overzealous for material possessions.  I just want my daily life move effortlessly without losing steam.  In the process of maintaining energy and enthusiasm, I rely on   books. 

Books occupy a good part of my life.  Not only   they provide me very valuable information and update my knowledge, they help me to marshal up my inner resources to think differently, creatively so as to live each moment passionately.

With this mindset, I manage not to allow ageing symptoms creep into my system. Though, my body has some signs of it, at mental level, I am much more vigorous than in my 20s-30s.  The credit for this could be attributed to some of the great books I read. 

For five days in a week, it is a virtual sprint in my professional life, leaving little scope to put to pen on thoughts I feel to write.   So when Saturday dawns in, I quickly unlock the Writer's chamber in my mind and live two days there and lock and enter back into frenzy world of toxic emotions for bread and butter.   This  switching of gears needs sturdiness of mind and hope the Almighty is releasing it in abundant quantities in me.

It is great that the  winter  brings tremendous joy to the writer in me.   I don't wish Heaven should come to my way.  I just wish to have trouble-free solitary walks to properly stack my thoughts to churn out some good prose or verse.  While choosing the places, I lay more stress on those locations which are near to Nature. 

A few years ago during my stay in Delhi, one day, I chose the above foot-over-bridge in South Delhi for my reading saga.  The reason was  that the place was more vibrant with roaring traffic below the bridge and  walking  on that bridge on that balmy evening brought me so much joy and I spent a good one hour in reading a book.

While I was deeply immersed in my reading, one foreign woman tourist approached me with a smile and asked me to take my snap.   When I asked the reason, she told me that it was very strange to find someone reading in public places in India.   My reading on that bridge with the aid of street light might have triggered her to approach me.  During exchange of words, she further narrated her own story of how her dad inspired her to read books in her childhood that helped her to build a personal library. 

Meeting  like-minded people gives a joy of its own sort.   My brief interaction with a book lover on that evening  gave  a tremendous joy to my heart.

MY PAINTINGS - part- 2


These oil/water-colour paintings were drawn  by me more than 30 years back :


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MY PAINTINGS - part- I

 These oil/water-colour paintings were drawn  by me more than 30 years back :

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STENOGRAPHER : THE SPECIES UNDER THREAT OF EXTINCTION

The strokes you write hasten your hand. The fingers ride with speaker’s words. It is a perfect symphony of hand and head, an art  which you could master and  chisel  to perfection.

There was a time when the profession of stenographer is considered as middle-class’s breadwinner. It’s charm in 90’s in India is something you can’t find  in this Information Age.  The government sector is still the main  stakeholder of stenographers. But no doubt, it is becoming a dying profession and I doubt its survival in the coming decades as technology replaces maximum human labour.

If you go back to history of stenography, it is believed that the word stenography is derived from the Greek words steno (narrow) and graphein (the art of writing). It is also known as tachygraphy (quick writing), brachygraphy (short writing), zeiglographia and semography.  We find that   hundreds of shorthand writing systems and scripts have been experimented and used for more than 2000 years.

In good olden days, Notarii (reporters) write the speeches of roman senators. The famous writer George Bernard Shaw wrote all his literature in shorthand. Famous novelist Charles Dickens was also a shorthand writer. It is said that Shakespeare’s plays were preserved by means of shorthand. In Mughal Era, Qatibs (reporters) were appointed to take down Shahi Farmaan (orders of the king). These  historical traces indicate the prevalence of shorthand since time immemorial.

Shorthand is no doubt a dry subject. My own impression being a stenographer is : laborious; uninteresting. The primary qualification to win over this art is, patience.  For initial 2 -3 months, you can’t generate interest to go forward and you have to blindly follow the exercises with daily practice. Whether somebody makes it as a profession or not but it is an art that anybody could  learn which immensely helps in note-taking, especially by students in their studies.

The stenographer earns his/ her reputation being exponent in this art. Charles Dickens, the famous novelist says that ‘’learning of Shorthand is equal to learning of 6 new languages’’. George Bernard Shaw felt that  learning of shorthand makes him independent of typewriters, of  Dictaphones and of the immediate present of a Secretary. The Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi says that Shorthand writers-cum-reporters hold the prestige of public men in the hollow of their palms….

The most prominent stenographic systems is Pitman Shorthand. Sir Isaac Pitman published his stenographic work : soundhand in 1837, later called phonography or Pitman’s Shorthand based on the phonetic structure of the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. History says that till the advent of Pitman phonetic system, nearly four-hundred plus systems of English Shorthand had been experimented in England alone.

There are other stenographic systems in the world as well, like Gregg System which is based on the longhand letters and became popular in United States. There was also a Sloan – Duployan System which is an adoption of French system into English.

The heroic figure for stenographers  in contemporary times is Dr. Gopal Datt Bisht, the first ever Ph.D in stenography in the world, and the Guinness Record holder for the highest shorthand writing speed of 250 words per minute.

There were also proud moments for stenographers in the annals of history. One of the stalwarts who did yeomen service is J.J. Goodwin (1870 – 1898). This British stenographer was initially assigned the task of noting down the lectures of Swami Vivekananda during his first tour to United States.

The credit for transcribing  large portions of Swamiji’s literature goes to Goodwin who painstakingly translated the Master’s  extempore words into inspiring stuff. Within a short span, Goodwin became Vivekananda’s close friend and disciple. The amount of love and respect Goodwin earned from Vivekananda is indescribable. When Goodwin died at a very young age,  Vivekananda wrote that : The debt of gratitude I owe him can never be repaid, and those who think they have been helped by any thought of mine ought to know that almost every word of it was published through the untiring and most unselfish exertions of Mr. Goodwin. In him I have lost a friend true as steel, a disciple of never-failing devotion, a worker who knew not what tiring was, and the world is less rich by one of those few who are born, as it were, to live only for others.

The seeds of interest to learn shorthand were first sprouted in me by my father who is a qualified stenographer.  He impressed upon me that the proficiency of English   is linked to learning shorthand. He  ignited a zeal in me  to hone my language skills.

 Automation, new technological  aids and smartphones completely changed the  landscape of present day office set-up especially in private organizations.  Digital devices replace humans as personal assistants and  this indicates  a danger of extinction of this species called Stenographer,  sooner than expected !