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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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#6


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                                     #8


MY PAINTINGS - part- I

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

                     #1


                     #2


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               #4


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 !