The Magic of Trees

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Four rows of trees…
And you’re free from the noise of traffic.
That’s almost like a miracle that you witness,
When you’re inside the wood.

Four rows of trees…
And you can hear the sound of silence.
The cricket’s sonorous creeks,
Welcome you to the lap of nature.

Four rows of trees…
And you forget about your troubles.
They seem like useless distractions,
That rob you of simple pleasures.

Four rows of trees…
And you can identify each crickets creek;
Some short, some long, some almost like a song.
They are the magical elements of nature.

Four rows of trees…
And you can be the audience to the chorus,
Of the multitude of birds, singing their songs.
Each answering the call of the other.

Four rows of trees…
And you can even listen to your soul.
The pain and pleasures of life;
Swell up and subside,
Giving way to calmness of mind.

Four rows of trees…
Is all it takes, to transfer you to that magic land;
Where you are yourself.
No guard, no pretence , no tact required.

Four rows of trees…
Can cure your body , mind and soul;
Which the materialistic world cannot.
It is a balm, for you, me and rest of the world.

Air- the essence of life

Air is precious, prevent its pollution.
Pedro Figueras

Air pollution is turning Mother nature prematurely grey.

Irv kupcinet

Humans can live three weeks without food, three days without water and just three minutes without air. Air is an indispensable part of our life. It is because of air that life has been possible on Earth. Yet, we humans are polluting that very essence of our lives.  And that too simply for hoarding wealth, which will be rendered useless if we cease to exist. 

We have been polluting the atmosphere in the name of development.  Is it really development, if it snatches away pure air from a new born child?  We must question our priorities. Which is more important for us and our children? Pure air and water or money?

Pollution should never be the price of prosperity.

AL Gore
Think before you buy. More consumption means more pollution.
Chris LeBoutillier

Definitely, every sane, intelligent person would choose the latter. In spite of our knowledge and our understanding, we are failing our children. We are busy in our rat race to provide more than needed for ourselves.  Becoming more isolated each day and refusing to share. Now-a -days, each family member prefers to drive his or her own vehicle rather than share. The end result is more production, more waste generation and emissions, leading to increased  pollution.

Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented.

Barry Commoner.

Air pollution is a global killer. An estimated 7 million people die due to diseases related to air pollution. Respiratory infections, asthma, stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, obstructive pulmonary disease- all are related to air pollution.

Pollution-The offspring of Greed.
Vasadi

The main pollutants are nitrogen dioxide(NO2), sulphur dioxide(SO2), carbon dioxide emissions  (CO2) , Ozone  (O3), molds, particulate matters (PM). The particulate matters of less than 10 and 2.5 microns can penetrate into blood through the lungs and affect the whole system.

The short term as well as long term consequences of pollution on human health is immense. Polluted air affects our lungs, heart, brain, liver, spleen as well as the nervous system.  The effects are more on children and elderly as they are more susceptible to damages due to their low immune levels. Children breathe more than adults and breathe in more pollutants because of their short heights.

The Paris climate summit laid down rules for the global community to combat climate change. They aimed at keeping the global rise in temperature below 2 degrees, and take it to below 1.5 degrees within this century. There has been a 3 degrees rise in Arctic temperatures in the last century leading to massive melting down of glaciers. The emission of green house gases has been the prime cause of the rise in temperatures. (Green house gases like – CO2, NO2, O3, CH4, absorb and emit radiant energy within the thermal infrared range)

We are the perpetrators of air pollution, so the onus is on us to find the solution.

We must avoid unnecessary use of vehicles and use public transport and car pools.

We must avoid burning of leaves etc and make compost of them.

Farmers should refrain from burning stubble and use modern methods to turn them into compost.

Plant trees and keep indoor plants. Indoor plants are great air purifiers.

Use a bicycle or walk as much as possible, every step counts.

Jogging and exercise should be done in pollution free areas.

Children should be picked up in traffic congestion so that they are not at the same level as the emissions.

Regular indoor cleaning is a must as indoors are often more polluted than outdoors because of dust mites and molds.

Air pollution is a great equalizer. It does not differentiate between the rich and poor. Every person in a particular place will have to breathe in the same air. It is for us to see that the atmosphere remains unpolluted.  God has provided us with everything that we require to live. Let us not spoil the best things in our lives due to wrong perceptions and thinking pattern set by the society at large. For the truth is… we all need fresh and clean air simply to exist.

Water and air the two essential fluids on which our life depends have become global garbage cans.

– Jacques Cousteau.

5 Foods and Drinks to Help you Boost your Creativity

Nicholas C. Rossis

Salad | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

I’ve often written about ways to boost your creativity, including even tips on using AI to do so. But can certain foods help get the creative juices flowing? There’s research which suggests that yes, there are. So, what should you be eating and drinking to help you overcome the dreaded writer’s block?

Eating your Way out of Writer’s Block

As I’m sure many of you know, writers suffering from writer’s block find that their creative process slows to a crawl. Every new idea just doesn’t seem right, and this situation can be extremely stressful.

Each writer processes his/her creative flow differently and there’s no getting around it. From speaking to close friends or going for a walk, most of us treat writer’s block differently.

While there isn’t a foolproof way to get over it, you can take steps to help your mind overcome it. As anyone can tell you, your…

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Optimism- The magic potion when you are down

Lukáš Dlutko

You have bled enough. Repeated illogical failures have scarred your soul, and you have had enough. You, traveller are at a junction in your life.

Now, you could command your body to separate. There is barely anything  holding your will down anymore. Now , you can close your eyes for what you believe will be a restful sleep.

Or,Or,

Or, you could snap , you could snap and turn the tables so hard, that they break. You have nothing to lose, nothing to choose. You are at a junction in life, that will decide whether your pride will live or die.

Optimism, dear traveller, is easy to reign in and feign in easy waters; that is not much optimism at all. When the ship shakes, your decision lies in holding or letting go of the wheel of your life. Optimism will let you hold on with a broken arm. Hope and belief is not naivety, it is humane.  

When you are sick of pessimism, look for a ray of hope. It will be difficult, this is no easy path in tumultuous times. Optimism is for the brave, as is success. Do not be unafraid;  fear, and do it over your fears. It is the strength of your God given soul to disintegrate, just a bit, under pressure – it is your choice – whether or not to put that  small broken piece of your soul together through nuclear fission and shine so bright that the world is illuminated.

Positivity is no mean feat in this monotonously spinning world, but it is a prerequisite to hang on to the top. Optimism is not a thought, it is a necessity. Optimism is is not the feel good factor all the time, it is hitting the rock bottom and resurfacing again.

You are at the junction, you have bled enough. Now, it is time for you to take that plunge and take the world. Till you live, it is yours to keep. Try to make a mark, so that you continue to live in the hearts and minds long after you cease to live. Serve your smile and heal the world. That, dear traveller, is your ultimate destination.

If you feel that your glass is half empty- It is in your hands to fill it.

The Forgotten Twig

The poem is based on the uselessness of office politics.
Helpfulness helps the helper.

The little bird forgot one day;
Where it kept its twig,
She would need it again one day;
To make her nest more big.

She went about her work all day;
Getting  food for the young ,
Happily she did her work ;
And laboured till it was done.

And in her work she did forget;
All about the twig ,
She thought that target had been met,
Her nest was nice and big.

The other birds saw her work;
And mused at her forgetfulness.
They hid her twigs because the shock.
Would surely raise her stress.

There was another silly bird,
Who lacked the tacts of the world.
Who liked to help one and all;
And revelled in the joy unfurled.

She saw the forgetful bird go round;
Oblivious of her loss.
She reminded her of the twig,
Which made the others cross.

They thought that the forgetful bird;
Should’ve paid for her forgetfulness,
Her ugly nest should have fallen down,
Her life should have been a mess.

The helpful bird raised her eyes
And asked, what they would gain.
If the poor bird’s nest got broke,
Or if, she received some pain.

They snubbed and ignored the bird;
For her well meant deed,
For the helpful bird, it mattered not
For peace of mind was her need.

She cared not, for what others thought;
She did not care for their might,
She always listened to her heart
And did what she thought was right.


Visiting the beautiful Taj Mahal and knowing its history.

A poetry in marble.

Tourists visiting Delhi make it a point to visit Agra to see the marvellous Taj Mahal. We set out from Delhi at 6: 20 am in the morning and reached Agra at 10: 40 am via Yamuna expressway (165 kms). It is better to buy entry tickets for visiting the Taj Mahal, online to avoid long queues. Shoes are not allowed inside the premises, so one needs to get shoe covers outside to prevent the feet from getting scorched on the hot marble.

Some interesting facts about the The Taj Mahal:

The Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world standing majestically on the banks of River Yamuna. We have all heard of its architectural splendour but the experience of seeing it is truely amazing.

Built in the memory of Mumtaj Mahal , the beloved Queen of Shah  Jahan… It is a poetry in marble. The mausoleum is crafted in white marble, intricately jewelled with designs in precious stones. The pietra dura or the stone inlays are a feast for the eyes.

Pietra dura designs .

 Mumtaj Mahal (jewel of the palace) was originally known as Arjumand Bano Begum. She was a compassionate, learned lady and a poetess. Although she was betrothed to Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) at the age of 14, she was married to him as his second wife at the age of 19. The prince was 20 at that time. Shah Jahan’s first and third marriages were political alliances, made to increase the kingdom. Mumtaj Mahal, who was dearly loved by Shah Jahan, died at the age of 38 while giving birth to their 14th child in their 19 years of marriage.

Mumtaj Mahal bore him eight sons and six daughters,( seven of whom died at childbirth or at very young age) The emperor was inconsolable after her demise, and planned to build a suitable mausoleum for her. The Taj Mahal took approximately 20 yrs and 20,000 sculptors to be completed.

Resting in the garden, one can admire the beauty of the Taj.

Shah Jahan also wanted to build another duplicate Mahal for himself in black, but it remained a dream as he spent his last days in imprisonment. He was imprisoned in the Agra Fort by his son Aurangzeb who killed his three brothers to gain the throne. Aurangzeb his sixth son and the next emperor laid him to rest beside Mumtaj Mahal.

Mesmerised by the beauty and the story of the Taj we headed for the Agra Fort as we decided to cover Mathura and Vrindavan after Agra.

Agra Fort

Agra Fort- some historical facts about the fort.

The Agra Fort was the main residence of the Mughal Dynasty. In 1638, the capital was shifted to Delhi by Shah Jahan and the Red Fort became the Royal residence.

The Agra Fort stands by the river Yamuna. It is an ancient fort which was first held by the Chauhan Rajputs till the Ghaznis captured it . Sikandar  Lodhi and his son Ibrahim Lodhi held it before the later was defeated by Babur (the first Mughal Emperor) in the battle of Panipat.(1526) The Agra fort along with the famed ‘Kohinoor diamond’ was seized by the Mughals. Akbar the Great, rebuilt the old brick fort with red sandstone (1565 -1573).

Diwan-i-khas

The semi- circular fort has  four gates and several mahals, the white marble palaces belong to the great builder Shah Jahan. He built three marble mosques – Moti masjid, Nagina masjid and  Mina masjid. Aurangzeb besieged the fort after the Battle of Samogarh (1658)  and stopped the water supply from the river. Shah Jahan could not drink the water from the well (it is somewhat salty, inside Taj Malal premises too) and surrendered , he remained imprisoned in the fort for 8 years. Shah Jahan died in 1666 and was laid to rest beside his beloved in the Taj Mahal.

Beautifully carved marble work.

We went around the fort and feasted on the beautiful art work, especially in the Diwan-i-khas the place where the emperor met his special guests. The fort has witnessed numerous important events that had tremendous impact on history. We also the Taj Mahal from the fort and wondered about Shah Jahan who spent his last days looking at the Taj from Agra Fort.

Water fountain inside Agra fort, where Shah Jahan spent his last years.

We had our lunch at Joney’s Place a small but good restaurant near the Taj. we had butter chicken, malai dumplings and biriyani along with banana lassi which was delicious at a reasonable price.

Chicken Biriyani

Visiting the Taj Mahal was a fantastic experience. The beauty and majesty of the building, The waterfront, the surrounding garden, the Yamuna river everything added to the beauty of the picturesque monument. We left Agra in the afternoon. For those who opt to stay at Agra overnight- an early morning visit or a visit during sunset is recommended as the Taj changes its colours with the colours of the sky. The best view however, is on a moonlit night when the beauty of the Taj is at its romantic best and a marvel to look at.

On the Gateway to the Taj Mahal
a beautiful inscription reads, ‘ O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with him, and He at peace with you.’

Online Writing Jobs

Nicolas is an amazing writer, a pro blogger and freelancer. This post on online writing jobs gives great inputs to budding freelancers. Check out his other posts for really informative content.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Creative writing and AI | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksYou may remember Ben Taylor from his guest post, 5 Things I Learned About Marketing my First Book. Ben has built Telecommute Now, a website dedicated to information about telecommuting. It has an impressively exhaustive article on online jobs, listing 50 of them. Among these, there was a section dedicated to writing and editing.

At the moment, over half of my income comes from writing-related activities such as my freelance article writing. Mind you, it did take three years and a whole lot of hard work (and praying, aka luck) to get to this point! As they point out in their article, online jobs are fundamentally no different from traditional jobs. Effort is required to seek out perfect roles. Your ideal position won’t necessarily be on offer on the day you start your job search.

If you love writing and enjoy working from home, you may appreciate…

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Durga Puja Celebrations in Bengal

The blooming of kash. Pic by Amitabha Gupta

Goddess Durga is the symbol of strength. Her victory over Mahisasur is the victory of Good over Evil. As autumn arrives, the fields get covered with the kash flowers and the sky is at its bluest with white fluffy clouds floating by in abandon. Fragrance of flowers like Shiuli, fills the air as nature decks up like a bride. The people of Bengal get ready to welcome Goddess Durga, who comes down from heaven to spend four days at her paternal home – the Earth. For four blessed days she fills the lives of people with happiness and mirth.

The people of Bengal celebrate Durga Puja with great pomp and show. Huge pandals or temporary structures are made for the four days displaying the rich art and culture of the region. Every idol and pandal  is exquisitely  crafted to create awe among the onlookers.

If festivity is in the air, delicacies cannot be far behind. Bengalis, being ardent food lovers will go to any length to treat their palates with the most delicious food possible. As a result, restaurants and food stalls are totally packed during Durga Puja. Numerous fairs are organised across the state. Various types of  stalls and  rides do big business during these four days.

Pure gold Idol weighing 50 Kgs made for four days. The idol was melted after token immersion.

The Puja which begins on Sasthi (sixth day) continues for Saptami, Ashthami, Navomi  and ends on Dashami (tenth day) when the devotees depart from Goddess Durga as she is immersed in rivers.  The idols are made of river clay and get dissolved in water.  People bid adieu to their beloved goddess with the chants ‘ Aschhe bochor aabar hobe’ which means ‘come next year and we shall again celebrate.’ This symbolises the eternal hope for better things that rings eternally in every soul. 

For the story of the creation of Goddess Durga, refer to my post Mahalaya.

How to Create Dynamic Fictional Characters — A Writer’s Path

by David Gittlin Most serious writers want to connect with an audience; preferably a big one. You have something to say. You have a story to tell. You want people to read it. One of the best ways to make people want to read your work is to create memorable and relatable central […]

How to Create Dynamic Fictional Characters — A Writer’s Path