Bringing Mythology to Life

Growing up on the banks of the mighty and holy river Ganga, I was fascinated by the mythological story of Ganga’s descent to earth. I never tired of hearing and cannot resist sharing it – the abridged version.

In times more ancient than ancient times, there lived a King called Bhagiratha. His kinsmen had sinned (I shall spare you that story – for now) and were doomed to spent their afterlife trapped on earth with no scope for rebirth or moksha. Pained by their plight Bhagiratha quite literally moved heaven and earth and after a lot of hardships and penance (which involved the cooperation and blessings of both Brahma and Mahesh)  brought Ganga to the earth to wash away the sins of his forefathers.

But that is just for context.

In April 2017 we have found out own real live Lady Bhagiratha – 51-year-old Gouri, a daily wage laborer from Sirsi in Karnataka, a southern State of India.

To supplement her meager income as a laborer, Gouri she also maintained a kitchen garden of sorts comprising of banana, areca and coconut trees. But arranging for water for them was a major issue. She needed to urgently find a solution. Which she did in her own unique (and possibly inimitable) style.

Problem: No water

Solution:  Dig a well.

Problem: No money to hire somebody to dig it.

Solution: DIY

Problem: Nil

She dug every day for 5-6 hours, over and above her job as a laborer. Despite suffering intense body ache and exhaustion, she dug for three months and ended up with a 60 foot deep well. In the final stages, she enlisted the help of three other women to clear the heap of mud that had accumulated.

Today she has ample water for her life giving trees, has earned the respect of thousands and is an inspiration for women world over.

She has effectively proved that where there’s a will there’s a way well.

Hats off to her grit, determination and spirit.

This is my submission for the monthly We Are the World Blogfest which seeks to promote positive news.

Do share your views, opinions, suggestions and positive news.

Thank you for reading and have a super weekend.

“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” ― Lady Gaga

Stop crying over your obstacles, it’s time to demolish them, one shovelful at a time

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A Sparkling Gem from the Interiors

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Image from here

When he was 10 years old, Haldhar Nag lost his father and was forced to drop out of school to sustain his family. He worked as a dishwasher at a local eatery. Later he became a cook at a high school, where he worked for 16 years. As schools mushroomed, he took a loan of Rs 1000 (about 16 $ today) and opened a stationery shop for school children. He used to fill ink pens for 10paisa (I can’t even do the Math – neither can Google!).

Why am I telling you all this?

Today his humble shop has been renovated and is frequented by his admirers and researchers. What’s more, in 2016, the President of India awarded him the Padma Shri. There are 5 PhD theses on the writings of this barely ‘literate’ man from Odisha.

A Kosli (or Sambalpuri) language poet, Nag wrote his first poem Dhodo Bargachh (The Old Banyan Tree) when he was 40. It was published in a local magazine. Subsequently he sent four poems to the magazine and all of which were published.

There was no looking back. A prolific writer, Nag has a series of works to his credit including poetry collection Bhaab, Surut and more than 20 epics like Achhia, Bachhar, Mahasati Urmilla, Siri Samalai, Santha kabi Bhimabhoi, Rushi kabi Gangadhar to name a few.

Sambalpur University in Odisha, is now coming up with a compilation of his writings – Haldhar Granthabali-2 – which will be a part of the university’s syllabus.

In addition, Nag has a phenomenal memory. He remembers each of his works and can reel them off on demand. The quintessential Indian, he always dons a white dhoti and a vest. He has never worn any footwear. Popularly known as Lok Kabi Ratna in Odisha, he writes mostly on nature, society, mythology and religion. Social oppression and exploitation, protection of human dignity and women’s issues are some of the topics that are close to his heart.

Haldhar Nag has a huge following in Odisha and Chatishgarh where they flock to listen to his readings. His technique and way to writing serve as inspiration to poets and has triggered a HaldharDhara in Odisha. I hope that soon someone takes up the task of translating Nag’s work so that it is available to a larger audience.

Haldher Nag’s journey from a class 3 dropout dishwasher to an acclaimed author is the stuff of fairy tales and awe inspiring. And I thought quite the perfect submission for the monthly We Are the World Blogfest which seeks to promote positive news.

Do share your views, opinions, suggestions and positive news.

Thank you for reading 🙂

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 136

Engineering a New Way of Life

I have a confession to make. I stopped the newspaper subscription. Every morning I used to spend precious minutes to hours with the newspaper and my morning cuppa tea. But then I started dreading my favorite time of the day – another tragic headline. Ending the self-imposed torture I quit reading the papers. And I feel so much better and freer. Any news of any importance that I may have missed does come my way via some media or the other. And even if it doesn’t so what? It wasn’t as if I was going to change the world, was I?

But there is something I could do – I could spread some positivism instead of negativity. In fact, riding high on the successful completion of the A to Z Challenge last year, I had decided on the theme for the next year – A to Z of positive news. I had been collecting snippets for the challenge. But now I find I am too tied up to participate in the A to Z challenge. Yet happily enough, I stumbled upon We Are the World Blogfest which seeks to promote positive news.

Participants are expected to join in with a short piece every last Friday of the month. I thought it was a really cool idea and jumped at the chance to share and spread some of the good stuff that is happening and is worth knowing about. I hope you too will join in.

For my first bit of positive news I bring to you Sonam Wangchuk who inspired the movie 3 Idiots. An engineer, innovator, and an education reformist, he is all that is Phunsukh Wangdu (of 3 Idiots) and so much more. The movie has come and gone but Sonam Wangchuk continues to scale greater heights.

In November 2016, he was awarded the prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise. Wangchuk helped farmers of Ladakh to overcome water shortages by tapping melting waters and building artificial glaciers, known as ice stupas. The ice stupa are almost two-stories high and can roughly store about 150,000 liters of winter stream water which is unwanted at the time. These stupas melt in the summer providing the much needed water to farmers when they need it the most. Brilliant and simple solution isnt it?

In addition, Wangchuk has successfully applied the ice stupa technique for disaster mitigation at high altitude glacier lakes. He has been invited by the Sikkim and Swiss government to counter the phenomenon of fast-melting glaciers.

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Photo shared by my brother who met Sonam Wangchuk in Ladakh last week

The Ice Stupa that won the international Rolex award of USD 1 million for innovation from among 3,200 entries worldwide. It also qualified for the tallest Ice Sculpture in the world for the Guinness Book of World Records, beating the previous Chinese record by more than 6 meters.

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Apart from this, Sonam Wangchuk has been working in Ladakh for over 20 years through his Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL). Working with the J and K government and like-minded friends, he rewrote the textbooks, retrained the teachers, took in failures and is now creating success stories out of them. You can watch his talk here.

He also designed the SECMOL campus that runs completely on solar energy and uses no fossil fuels for cooking, lighting or heating, even in Ladakhi winters when temperatures fall to minus 25C degrees. He wants to translate and transform not only school education but also higher education. Not only in Ladakh but for the whole world. To fund his dream he has donated his entire Rolex prize money as seed money and is looking to raise more funds. I could go on and on but I think it’s time to stop. If you like you can read more about him on the web. Just type in Sonam Wangchuk – a man who is truly inspiring.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of news and if you have a minute to spare, have a look at this heartwarming video.

Do share your views, opinions, suggestions and positive news. Thank you for reading 🙂

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