Scepticism

First I will be sceptical about you..

Then I will get to know you

Then we will share what we can share with an open heart…

I look forward to the moment that fence disappears between us seperating us because we are different..

But I will never look forward for being a hero crashing you to death because you are different…

Why have we born to different religions my dear friend under a same god..

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Life without Terror

Ever dream of a life in Peace

Ever dream of a life in Solitude in a far away farm…

Ever dream of a life without Terror in a tiny island…

Ever dream of being Human in a country we love…

The story of “The Mirage”

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“ Without Literature, my Life Would be Miserable”- Naguib Mahfouz  

Egypt is a mysterious place which captured my imagination from the great Nile to the Pyramids… Modern Egyptian literature captures the heart and soul of the people of Egypt. After reading work of more modern writers such as Alaa Al-Aswany it was a nice adventure to come across  “The Mirage”  a classic novel from Nobel prize-winning author of Arabic literature Naguib Mahfouz. Mahfouz, lived until the age of 94, was a much-loved novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter in the Arab world as well as internationally.

Story in the book “The Mirage” revolves around a bit unusual character and narrator Kamil. The story is set in Ciro and it is said to be one of the first novels by the Autor which captures the life in suburban life in Ciro. The author takes a journey through the life of young Kamil comes through to the adolescence as well as to his “married life”.. Author puts in the table to the reader to judge the so-called “married life “of this man!  A man admired the beauty of his charming wife from a distance and attracted to “unattractive “ souls for basic human needs… The story is a psychoanalytical journey.

I believe any classy piece of literature or any form of art for that matter is worthwhile if it has a public appeal to a wider audience. Unfortunately, most award-winning masterpieces are hard to understand for a generalized audience… This is not to deny the abstract literary pieces which have contributed to the advancement of the literary traditions… But what is there for a common man for his everyday life… I think the writers like Naguib has that public appeal which cannot be undermined by his literary achievements as a Nobel prize-winning author.

Naguib Marfou in his popular quote express this as “ My countrymen have the right to shake my hand and talk to me if they so wish. Don’t forget that their support and their reading of my works is what brought me the Nobel prize.”

Also, I often wonder what captivates audiences multiculturally in storytelling and literal writing. My thinking is that it the human emotions and relationships which makes the writings of great novelists appealing to a worldwide audience… I am not a Muslim and I am living a faraway land from Egypt and a different era than the plot of this novel, but it still appeals and captures my attention to think beyond the lines and analyze. It becomes a fascinating experience to immerse in a different culture as well by reading a novel such as this, in which characters live and breath in a totally different culture… How fascinating and adventurous that experience is…

I think as writers and bloggers we have to get that lesson right to talk to a wider audience transcending the boundaries of culture in this digitalized age. As the communications become fast in a digitalized era, what space we give to express the human emotions…Human emotions and universal relationships are the lifeblood of cultural integrity. Some material to think for the writers in this digital era.

 

 

That Instance which We Live the Life…

That moment

I have never been good at photography… I remember going to the illustrious weddings in Sri Lanka and wonder about the “nonsense” of photographers running around the bride to capture her best moment of emotion… “What’s the big deal?” I often thought, “camera will capture the moment anyway”.. That was my thinking.

It took me time to realize the true nature of the art of the photography and philosophy behind it. It is the photographer’s job to frame that instance in a timeless image to speak about the emotion on that instance.. It is a fine art framing the moment, and selecting the moment in a timeless universe of material and emotional life.. Then I realized why I never was a good photographer. I was never in the moment!

The philosophy behind that moment is not a superficial one.. It has a deep meaning. In the documentary “Yoga-the Architecture of peace”, based on the book of the same title, photographer Michael O’Neill describes this moment in a passionate way. That moment of life he tried to capture in his photography went through a philosophical journey, shifting from Hollywood celebrities to the life of Yogis in Asia..

Majority of eastern philosophies speak about that moment in time which gives us the wisdom in life.. When watching the above documentary, I understood those moments changed the life of this award-winning photographer, and through the lens of his camera, he himself became a Yogi…

Surely the mind is the most beautiful object in the whole universe.. Thousands of Yogis explored the mind to find the universe inside ourselves for thousands of years while western science trying to answer the questions by analyzing the outside world. In my opinion, one should complement another. One tradition should not undermine the another… It is time to get the benefit of both..

When, centuries after, scientists wired the meditating Yogis, , they found how brain waves change in positive ways when you concentrate on the instances inside the mind.. A mind trained to behave consciously becomes one of the precious jewels in the universe. A tuned string of a guitar becomes very much sense for a touch of a finger and plays amazing music. Such is a trained mind..

This is where the modern “positive psychology” getting it’s “modern” ideas from.. The word “mindfulness” has now come into the daily life of modern living.. Many people try to “buy” mindfulness by various practices. What many do not (including myself for some degree) understand is mindfulness is in this right moment and with us. It is not to be possessed as it is with you.

At the same time, these are exciting times in history people realizing and questioning life’s philosophies.. I feel the human energy and craving around me to search that moment in life.. For such a long time we all forgot about running the rat race of life. Let’s stop and think about the moment and live in it.

Emptying Your Cup of Tea

 

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Experiences in life create maturity (first it is confusion, loss of direction and Oh.. yes!).. Same experiences which exhaust life open up the new paths to trot and quite new ways of looking around you… As life is a journey and not a destination, the traveler feels fatigue from time to time. Recently my life experiences pointed me towards eastern philosophies to finding a relief ( or an escape)… But the same act opened a whole new world to explore and take part… Without running away from my present life…What a life ( which belongs to the nature of it.. let alone for me or to anybody else)…

Zen… One thing about Zen is that it is mysterious… That mysterious nature arises one’s pattern of thinking in a sudden gust of adrenaline.  I have read that traditional Zen monks are travelers and they travel long and hard to visit various teachers. Student(seeker) when encounters a teacher, student ask a question and teacher gives an answer, normally bit “confusing” ( I repeat – First it’s confusion, loss of direction and oh! Yes). The confusion arises a sudden new way of thinking… That is the turning point for a student to explore a whole new world. What a philosophy…

One story goes as follows… A student visits a Zen master… Requests “ O Master.. Give me your great wisdom… I know I am educated in such and such …(Theoretical physics, Neuroscience, Business Administration.. whatever you think you are .. you name it!).

O, Master, I would like to learn your wisdom too… I am a true seeker with a never-ending thirst for knowledge…” student went on saying.

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“ Calm down my dear fellow… Let’s go and have some tea…” Zen master told this over-enthusiastic student. Master took two cups. He filed his and then started to fill the cup of the student. The student was observing. Cup gradually filled to the top and started to spill out. Master continued to pour tea even though it is spilling out as if never noticed.

“ Master stop… the cup is full and spilling! Didn’t you noticed”the student shouted…Master chuckled…“Hmm… My dear friend… Your head is like this cup. If it is full of stuff and even though you desire to gain new wisdom in life, nothing will be captured”.

I repeat again- First it’s confusion… Loss of Direction .. And then… I am trying to empty my cup… I took my baby steps….Tried few things free of charge such as taking few deep breaths in and out… In and Out .. Letting things go… How about you.. (Well none of my business.. but just curious as we are all human “beings” at this moment in our own paths). Just living the moment… No need to escape as it is not an option….The great gift of the eastern way of life… East we forgot a long time ago because our “cup is full”…

 

Moonlit Nights and Realities of Life….

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We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality- Iris Murdoch

Sea looked calm and the moonlight was flooding the beach… Coconut palms swayed to the sea breeze and night air was becoming cool.  Fishing boats started to come one by one to the beach, silhouetted by the moonlight.  Fishermen appeared from the boats and started to put down the rolled nets bundled with fish… A paradise for a writer to put together a nice piece of writing. What lies behind this breathtaking scenery is the reality of life…

Thinking back to that amazing scenery will never lose its excitement… I remember how I planned that journey and talked in to one of my friends to travel with me…I was on a mission to investigate facts for an article about the impact of the tourism industry on the shoreline fisheries. After the settlement of civil war which went for decades, Sri Lanka was opening up it’s doors to the tourism industry in the eastern shorelines.

Indulging myself with books was a lifelong passion for me. But my hobby to investigate and write as a freelancer for local newspapers opened another perspective of looking at life… As readers, we like to travel in imaginary world’s full of fantasies…  As writers, we like to full fill the fantasies of our readers. There is nothing wrong with it.. but there’s something more to life… There’s a story behind struggling lives of common people too..

The only passion that guides me is for the truth… I look at everything from this point of view. -Che Guevara 

Both myself and my friend found ourselves in this beautiful fishing village in an eastern beach in Sri Lanka thanks to my journalism adventures …I remember that night, where I spoke with the fishermen and tasted the fish stew they made on the beach. A calm night on this beautiful beach can hide their difficulties of life. Fishermen take their life as it comes. Not many dreams for future.. not much repent for the past. Life is simple.. but a struggle for survival… A booming tourism industry will create another dimension for their routine of life.

“Not everyone realises that to write a really good piece of journalism is at least as demanding intellectually as the achievement of any scholar”-Max Weber

That adrenaline rush when you find the facts… That is the journalism I loved and that is what I liked about investigative writing… You get your say and you are your own “boss” in your piece of writing. While doing so you become the medium for someone out there who likes tell his story otherwise will never get hear… Isn’t that amazing? That is why scholars describe media as one of the pillars in society, which holds it together!

Your writing journey takes twists and turns when you dig into the fine details which lay beyond fantasies. Next day we went to see corals with a local boat operator who showed us some of the pristine undamaged corals I have ever seen. He expressed his fears when mass scale business operations come to this pristine environment and make it a nightmare for this undisturbed corals. What are will the consequences of an unplanned Eco-tourism industry?

Passion for writing and excitements of facts finding… A good set of words and some creative photos… My article became enriched with views and quotes from these coastal dwellers. Those were the stories of real owners of land and resources who spoke their hearts out… Years later hotels started to come up.. Thousands of tourists started to flood in.. Soft drink and fast food culture came with unplanned tourism industries… Litter scattered… Commercialization… Sustainability is the “cover story” of all the unplanned “developments”…

Kailash Kher, an Asian musician inspired by folk and Sufi traditions, always commented that his inspiration came from nature and common people….Some writers and artists become lucky in their lives to get that inspiration …As a journalist once I was lucky to be in that village and at that moment…lucky to see the moonlight flooding to the sea in that beautiful fishing village.. lucky to be the voice of common people of that distant village… But I am not lucky to witness those beautiful beaches become unplanned business ventures on a later day… Is that the life’s reality?

P.S.- Above post is #4 of my “Memoirs from An Accidental Journalist” blog series…

I regard myself as an Accidental Journalist. Never did it as a profession but continued it for pure passion… even though some people paid me for my hobby! These are the memoirs and some writing tips, I wanted to share with you, which I gathered from my journalistic journey in my “ on and off” career as a science and environment journalist.

Memoirs & Tips from An Accidental Journalist #3 : “Tail” of Tilapia

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A cool breeze came through the reservoir. I was slowly walking towards the fishing couple sitting in front of their little hut, mending a net. It was a small fishing community adjacent to the banks of “Rajangana” reservoir- a beautiful man-made reservoir- in north central Sri Lanka. A wooden fishing boat swayed near the water’s edge. I was out for an article about the inland fisheries.

The fisherman and his wife became bit startled to see me suddenly appearing with a notebook and a camera. “ I am from a newspaper, doing an article,” I said to them. Smiles appeared on their weathered faces and in no time we were friends. From my many encounters with rural fishermen, I can assure that they are not shy to speak their mind. Soon came a glass of hot herbal tea and we began chatting.

“Ariyadasa” the fisherman ( I still remember his name), lay the nets at night and again go to the waters to get them back during the morning. The handful of fish get caught on his net, he sells to the middlemen and comes home with the nets. Now he and his wife slowly mend the fishing nets- their most important tool of the trade.

“ Theppilli” the native word for fish “Tilapia mossambica” is the lifeblood of this fishing family. Thousands of fishermen in rural Sri Lanka make their living because of this fishery surrounding the inland reservoirs of Sri Lanka. So the story of the lives of this fishermen is the tale of Tilapia. It can not be separated. Man and the natural resource.. This is the ultimate combination throughout the human history.

Now the Science of Tilapia mossambica… This fish is a favorite culture fish in the third world. The fish is a fast breeder and easy to culture in waterbodies. Ancient kings in Sri Lanka had made those reservoirs to facilitate the agriculture. It was to these reservoirs scientist have introduced this fish species to boost fish production. Ariyadasa, our poor fisherman, who everyday struggled for mare survival told me his story that day.. End of his story I questioned both science and politics…

Sri Lanka is a resource-rich tropical island blessed with abundant waterways. Thousands of years, in mighty kings’ era, this had been a country of a strong subsistence economy depended on agriculture.  There was no western science during those days. Traditional technologies used, which went very well with the life and nature. The struggle of science and politics, unfortunately, couldn’t get rid of poverty of this beautiful country in this space age!

Though science introduced Tilapia to this reservoir (which is not a native fish) to boost fish production, no strong policies were there to sustain the industry and elevate poverty of these fishermen! Measuring from head to tail of Tilapia and analyzing gut contents science can come to conclusions. A politician can release the fingerlings(small fish) of Tilapia to a reservoir, during an election campaign.  In countries like Sri Lanka, policies and government backing changes with changing governments. So the “Tale of Tilapia” became a fairy tale!

Science is not a magic bullet. It needs good handling… A good political backing.. Honest administration.. (Uncorrupted governments.. etc) ..Generations of scientist tried to introduce the technology to third world developing nations. When can science ease the poverty of the people like traditional fishermen on a small island in the Indian ocean? Are we practicing the right science or we are after an illusion? Do we know enough about head or tail of Tilapia mossambica! This was the tale of Tilapia, which I wrote to a science magazine back then.

I regard myself as an Accidental Journalist. Never did it as a profession but continued it for pure passion… even though some people paid me for my hobby! These are the memoirs and some writing tips, I wanted to share with you, which I gathered from my journalistic journey in my “ on and off” career as a science and environment journalist.