Thursday, March 27, 2014

Power of Passion

Hampi is the capital of the Vijayanagar empire. It is located in the Bellary district of Karnataka. The original name of Hampe as it is pronounced in Kannada has been anglicized to HAMPI and that is how the world knows this dynamic city of ruins.

No harm in trying. Come let us push this stone wheel!!

The stone carvings, some mighty monoliths and many fascinating musical pillars abound in this World Heritage Site.

Musical pillars made in stone

The carvings date from 1343 to 1565, a period of more than 200 years. The empire was founded by Harihar1 called Hakka and continued by Bukka the other illustrious emperor of the Sangama Dynasty.
 Just look at the driving power of passion. One man's passion has so inspired his people that stone carvings and beautiful architecture has become the identity of this township.

Impressive entrance to fort

Vijayanagara empire was ruled and adorned by four different dynasties. And now almost 540 years later people travel miles across the world to visit the place.... braving the rough terrain, the hot weather and the lack of eating places.

hot dry weather, rough stony terrain, large flat places

Passion has that force. Last week I was at a teacher training camp in Jammu. A teacher, let's call her Shaalu, was in role play. Shaalu was demonstrating a method of teaching by example. Shaalu is a PT teacher. She decides to teach us the correct posture for softball. When she begins we are least interested. Softball??? Paallease  we said. (yawn)
But as she begins to demonstrate the moves, her passion for the game gets us so involved that we sit up and listen. And even ask questions. Passion is a driving force.

Passion inspires. I may not become dramatically interested in your field of passion. But I will be motivated to put in more towards my own Sphere of Interest. For teachers, team builders, and moms, passion comes as a very powerful tool.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Strange Kind of Paradise

The breeze moved gently through the leaves of the peepul tree. And the leaves sighed in the comfort. The sound of temple bells are heard in the distance. And a faint dust arises and the cows huddle to pastures.

A village man leans against the hard bark. In a slow paced soft voice he narrates history. The words wrap round us. And all of us who sat on the stone platform around the peepul tree feel comforted by the stories he weaves.

Some of them are true and some more dreamy. One never knew where fact ended and fiction began.
He tells us about a man with four names.

  • Chen Hui was born in China in about 600 AD he says. And I conjure in my mind ... a sallow face, long tight plait, thin legs and lean body... basically a nondescript young man.
  • Actually you must have read about him in your school books. There he is listed as Hiuen Tsang he explains. And my eyes brighten. I have pictured Hiuen Tsang during my impressionable school days as a neat man with a long retinue of soldiers and helpers. A traveller who came, saw and documented. Though I was never sure why he did so.
  • He travelled to India where he is more popular as Tripitaka he says. The man who came to study the three caskets of manuscripts on Buddha. And I conjure in my mind a monk, wise and graceful. Also a little fiery and determined.
  • Now the official spelling of his name is changed to Xuanzang, he tells us. And there is a pop in my head. The name means nothing to me. It conjures no image. I am shattered.

Stories change without warning. Now he is talking about the British Raj. And my wanders and when I return we learn about St. Thomas and his no-sex even for married couples tenet.
He shows us interesting pictures and what I thought was his fiction comes alive as fact.

This is how I feel while I read a book by Sam Miller. A Strange Kind of Paradise. I still have a long way to go to finish it. But I think this is a book I will come back to again and again. A book that I will talk to!!