Sunday, April 10, 2016

Learning Dispatch - April 11th

It was an animated films weekend for me. I saw The Jungle Book and Kung Fu Panda 3 at a cinema hall close to my home this week. There is so much you can learn from the characters in an animated film.

Learning how to Learn from Kung Fu Panda 3 and Po

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Learning Dispatch - April 3rd, 2016

Films and Learning
I had attended an artist interaction session organized by the community arts initiative Junoon at the MCubed library on April 2nd, 2016. Amole Gupte was the speaker and he spoke about Cinema as a Child's Playground. He wrote the screenplay for Taare Zameen Par and also directed Stanley Ka Dhabba. He has been conducting a Cinema Studies Course for middle school children at a municipal school in Mumbai for the last nine years. He stressed the need for the incorporation of Cinema Studies into the regular school curriculum.

He showed us some of the short films made by his student film makers. What stood out for me in the discussion was a statement he made about Learning through films. He spoke about how children can learn by merely absorbing a lot of great cinema and cinema can really teach them so much about life and themselves. He brought one of his young students along who decided to produce films of her own after watching the several classics that Amole Gupte exposed them to in the cinema studies class. You can watch some of the other Junoon Artist Interaction sessions here. They have archived over 20 of them and they are good fun to watch.
Friday, March 25, 2016

Learning Dispatch - March 25th, 2016

Why the dispatch? - I want to understand how I can make my learning more social. I love having interesting conversations with friends and colleagues about new things I learned. So these dispatches are part of an effort to get those conversations started. I am also very curious to know more about what you have been learning this past week in return for sharing some of the learning highlights of my week.

I started exploring some Russian fiction this week. I also bought a new book about New York city and saw a lot of old and new Indian movies this week. Here is some raw thought and reflection on what I was fortunate to learn this past week:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Why Travel?

I had planned to stay with a friend in Kolkata. I met him in Jaipur. I was in the city for the literature festival. Between one of the sessions, I decide to go to the festival bookstore. I see another boy, about my size, round spectacles, short hair, standing in front of the poetry bookshelf at the store. He was looking at a collection of poems I had recently read. I commented,

'That is a great book'

'Yeah, it sure looks like one.'

Your first time at the festival?


Mine too. Where are you from?

Guwahati. You?

Why cook?

That was a question worth pondering over again. I recently learned how to cook some basic meals at home. This included rice, indian bread, pulses, sandwiches. But this is not cooking in the true sense.

Michael Pollan, the food writer, In his book, 'Cooked - A Natural History of Transformation' listed out four basic processes that have evolved over time, to transform the stuff of nature, into delicious things to eat and drink. They are further documented as follows:-
a) Grill with Fire
b) Cook with Liquid
c) Bake Bread
d) Ferment everything from cheese to beer

Chennai Stopover - Beaches, Motels, Rajnikanth and Street Shopping

I have just spent at week at the Sadhana Forest (volunteer community) in Auroville. I now have to leave. I have a 3 hour morning bus ride from Pondicherry to Chennai. I ask one of the volunteers going into the city, to drop me off at the highway. I then jump into a bus, heading towards Pondicherry at the Toll Gate. I get down at the bus station in Pondicherry, and then purchase a ticket on the next bus to Chennai. I had a train from Chennai to Kolkata in two days time. I had a day to spare and decided to spend it exploring some parts of Chennai. When I reach Chennai, the first thing I need to do is to find a room, to keep my luggage in. So I walk towards some hotels near my bus station. 

How to choose the right motel?
The first motel, I checked, had all the basic necessities. It had a bed, table, T.V and bathroom. I see a bunch of cockroaches under the bed and the paint chipping of one corner wall. I walk into the motel next door, and this has all the basic necessities minus the cockroaches and chipped walls. I hire the room for the night, freshen up and then walk out to explore the city. I carry only my purse and wallet and they fit easily into pant pockets. It is so nice, to not have to carry, a heavy bag around with you. I've had enough of luggage carrying for a month.

Train to Kolkata

I had a train from Chennai to Kolkata at 9 am. My alarm went off at 6 30 am and I shut it off to get a few more minutes of sleep. How stupid of me. Fortunately, I woke up at 7 30 am, and ran to the station to catch my train, to Kolkata. Bye bye South India. Hello Kolkata.

On the train, I share my coach cabin with a computer engineer. He was from Kolkata, but he worked in Chennai. He was visiting his family, back in Kolkatafor a week. We spoke about Kolkata, the city he had grown up in. I read him a passage from my diary that I had noted recently. It was a Guardian Article by Amit Chaudhari about a city, he adored and grew up in. Here are a few sections of the article that I read out to him,

'India changed rapidly, often disturbingly, after 1991; Calcutta remained resistant to globalization and the new world order, cultivating their irrelevance to itself and its own to theirs.'

I went on,

'outside of India it was hardly known except, occasionally, through the luminous cinema of Satyajit Ray and through translations of Tagore, that teetered between the parodic and perplexing.'