Friday, June 29, 2012

Wide Vistas of Amboli

Well, monsoon means its time to go out and experience the rain. For the beauty of its mystic nature and heavy downpour, I would love to visit is Amboli every year. This was my second trip to Amboli and this time too, it looked as beautiful as it really is. For the time I spend under the cloud cover and the downpour I experience, there is no other good feeling I get as this. Everything gets completely mystic when you are in Amboli. You breathe clean air, you run joy through your blood, you get drenched in the long awaited monsoon rain, you hear nature and you cheer. 

Here are some wide vistas captured during my stay at Amboli. Please click on the photographs to enlarge them. 

View from Mahadevgad point
Mahadevgad point looking west

Random waterfalls at the Kavlesad valleys during monsoon.

Panorama of Kavlesad point. Looking West

Huge valleys of Kavlesad

The Ghat that connects Belgaum and Savantwadi, Sindhdurg district
Monsooned landscapes of Amboli

Cloud play at the Mahadevgad point

Clouds and valleys at the Mahadevgad. Looking North.
Mahadevgad point

Nangartas Waterfall near Amboli

(Click on the photographs to enlarge them)

Copyright 2012, Srikanth Parthasarathy

Thursday, June 28, 2012

right side

time and again, I ask myself
is this the right side?
or am I on the wrong side
for what I neglect seeing things
the way they are and
be a part of it ignorantly
even if I do not want to,
I'm still the cause, yes, I am.
aint know how not to be one
for they keep exploiting nature
and make me a good friend.
while I become a friend myself
what has nature got to do with me?
by the time, I started caring for,
I already feel am losing it
a tree that I started admiring,
is already being cut
or a bird I started loving
is flying away from the planet
or an orchid I began to see
is already fast perishing.
I ask how not to be this
and to reach a point
where I don't feel guilty
and be free for what I love!


Friday, June 22, 2012

monsoon call

Clouds are dramatic
the blue sky is behind
I soak in the twilight
of the black and white
tis bright at times
and thunders all around
shadowed roads and
the breeze is wet
moon is peeking through
and the stars are hiding
monsoon is very near
but not a single drop yet
longing to feel it
I walk away from home
in search of the pour
to touch it, feel it
and come back to life


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ferns from the Northeast

First thing that attracts me in a forest is a fern. I love seeing them in wild. For the way they are, they pull me towards them. Their beautiful leafy-greeny posture makes me wonder at them. Like how they make the whole habitat look beautiful, they make me feel very special when I'm strolling among them in the wild. And there are many species of ferns. Every new place I visit, I see different varieties of ferns.

Last month, for the first time I visited the beautiful mountain valleys of Northeast and felt heavenly being among those mountains for a short period of time. The highlight of my trip to those valleys was the visit to Neora Valley. It spreads over an area of 88 km² and is one of the richest biological zones in the entire Northeast. It is the land of the elegant Red Panda in the pristine undisturbed natural habitat with rugged inaccessible hilly terrain and rich diverse flora and fauna making this park an important wilderness zone. First thing that attracted me in this heavenly valley, was a fern. They were in all forms and sizes everywhere. They were the first sign of richness in the valley.

As much as I enjoy seeing ferns, I love photographing them as well. I only wish I could know more about them. Well, I'm getting there. Although I do not know their IDs, I did photograph some of them. Below are some of the beauties from the Neora Valley National Park.


The new frond of a tree fern unfurling 

Tree fern species

A beautiful moth on the fern

It was a very spongy feel to touch this fern leaf

the bigger sized (perhaps a tree fern?)

Copyright 2012, Srikanth Parthasarathy

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the secret

Excerpt from the book The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

The secret of the mountains is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountains exist simply, which I do not. The mountains have no "meaning", they are meaning; the mountains are. The sun is round. I ring with life, and the mountains ring, and when I can hear it, there is a ringing that we share. I understand all this, not in my mind but in my heart, knowing how meaningless it is to try to capture what cannot be expressed, knowing that mere words will remain when I read it all again, another day. 

and the secret is expressed so beautifully. Perhaps! this is the most moving paragraph for me in the book.

tis a good feeling!


What's on your mind?

Excerpt from the book The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Why is death so much on my mind when I do not feel I am afraid of it? - the dying, yes, especially in cold (hence the oppression brought by this north wind down off the glaciers, and by the cold choppiness on the cold lake), but not the state itself. And yet I cling - to what? What am I to make of these waves of timidity, this hope of continuity, when at other moments I feel free as the bharal on those heights, ready for wolf and snow and leopard alike? I must be careful, that is true, for I have young children with no mother, and much work to finish; but these aren't honest reasons, past a point. Between clinging and letting go, I feel a terrific struggle. This is a fine chance to let go, to "win my life by losing it", which means not recklessness but acceptance, not passivity but non-attachment. 

If given the chance to turn back, I would not take it. Therefore the decision to go ahead is my own responsibility, to be accepted with a whole heart. Or so I write here, in faint hope that the words may give me courage. 

Well, firstly, what an amazing writer he is. No body can come closer to his style of writing!

and yes, to think, there will be much more and worse on those mountains far beyond our scope of sight.

to accept, to let go, to fear, to risk, to worry, to cry, to think, to wonder, to live and much more!


Monday, June 18, 2012

The Element - How Finding your passion changes everything

Every day I ask myself several questions – Am I satisfied with my day? Do I like my work? Did I enjoy doing it? And like me there are several thousands of people who ask similar questions. Some of them may feel good about it and some of them will always feel restless and uncomfortable about it. There could be several reasons for why one is not feeling good about what he or she is doing. The question is - Are we really passionate enough to do ‘that’ job for our living? Do we have that ‘element’ in us to be in the ‘zone’ or the ‘flow’? 

In his book The Element, Sir Ken Robinson tries to answer some of the critical questions quoted above. He defines the Element as the meeting point between the natural aptitude and personal passion. It is the place where things you love to do and the things that you are good at come together. Being in your ‘element’, keeps you in the zone, or in the flow. It is something that when you are in your element, the activity gives you energy all the time and it does not take away your energy. Like a painter who will never get tired of painting and who will always have energy to paint what he or she likes; Or like a musician who will always in the zone of creating amazing music. 

The next question that comes to my mind is that ‘Do I have that Element in me?’ or have I identified my element? Or why am I not pursuing my passion and instead doing some lousy job that I do not like to do? Which is my zone? Is it painting? Or is it fixing my bike? Or is it travelling? Or writing? Or teaching? Or is it photography? 

Sir Ken Robinson, like all others who have quoted extensively, tries to convey the same message that we are all born with some amazing talents and capacities, but as we grow older we will lose the touch without talents. The much quoted saying by Albert Einstein ‘I was born intelligent, education ruined me’ becomes very much alive. Sir Ken Robinson too, blames and rightly points out at our stringent education system. He says schools educate creativity out of us. 

When I started reading the book, it sounded more like Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience. The chapter about ‘Being in the Zone’ talks very much about the book Flow. It was a great inspirational feeling while reading both these books. It challenges us to identify that element in us to keep ourselves happy in the zone. And it fights against the traditional education system that succeeded in limiting our knowledge and learning abilities. 

There are many inspiring stories in the book and every story has its message for you. Most the stories interestingly prove that in most of the cases education system never helped anyone reaching their element or finding their zone. For example Paul McCartney, Mick Fleetwood, Richard Branson, Matt Groening, Ewa Laurance and many more. The below story is one such eye opener. 

...there was an eight-year-old girl named Gillian who couldn’t sit still in class. Today, they might say she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and give her Ritalin, Robinson says. A psychologist reached a different conclusion. 

“Gillian isn’t sick,” he said. “She’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.” 

Gillian Lynne would become a soloist with the Royal Ballet and work with Andrew Lloyd Webber to create musicals such as “Cats” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” 

Some of the stories are very shocking and quite challenging to believe. Like Paulo Coelho’s story of going against with the family was very revealing. His parents believed that he would waste his life on writing that they repeatedly placed him in a psychiatric institution where he underwent shock therapy. But he never gave up and he has become one of the inspiring writers across the world. 

Robinson says don’t ask how intelligent you are. The correct question he says to ask is: How are you intelligent? And one more problem the author identifies with the traditional education system is that it trains you on being always ‘right’. It will not prepare you for being wrong or taking risks or trying out something new, he says. Also some of the stories give the message that our age is no barrier to finding our element. Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal lens when he was 78 years; so as Agatha Christie who wrote the world’s longest play when she was 68 years. The message for me here is that we will always have our talents in us for a very long time and it is up to us to recover them by constantly exercising upon them. 

Some days back I was thinking about an interesting idea of coming up with an initiative of for school children that makes them realize or identify their passion. Like a factory where children are exposed to different kinds of experiments and at the end of it they would identify what they really like. I was discussing the same with a friend and we were brainstorming very deeply on this topic. I feel this is what missing in our education system. They will never try to make an effort in helping children finding their talent. Instead they will fill them up with existing knowledge and limit them with their own knowledge boundary. 

One more chapter that moved me very much is ‘For love or money’ where the author discusses about the Amateurs. I was in the zone while reading it and almost did an assessment on me while reading the chapter. It makes one realize how important hobbies are and how exactly an amateur with respect to a certain skill can come up with some amazing stuff that even a professional cannot do? And there are several examples quoted that make you wonder how can there be a world without amateurs? Some of the stories included are of Arthur C. Clarke, Susan Hendrickson, Tiff Wood, Khaled Hosseini and some others. All of them are true amateurs and have achieved greater results being in their elements. 

This book is a very simulating read for everyone. Every one of us should read this book and get to know how identifying our element transforms our lives. Reading this book can also leave you depressed, if you have not identified your element or you are fed up of what you are doing and struggling hard to find what you like. But still, reading this may help you out answering some of your queries and gives a lot back to you through those inspiring stories. 

End of the day, if you are not in the zone, step back and ask yourself – They all have it in them to be in their zone, do I have it in me? 

Read some of the excerpts from the book The Element here.

Link to the TED video of Sir Ken Robinson here

Book: The Element
Author: Sir Ken Robinson
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 274
ISBN: 978-0-141-04525-2


Friday, June 15, 2012

the hundred

Excerpt from the book The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

A poem from Loris Malaguzzi underscores this:

The child
is made of one hundred. 
The child has 
a hundred languages 
a hundred hands 
a hundred thoughts 
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred 
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys 
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover 
a hundred worlds 
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
The tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child: 
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

I guess all those ways that humans can learn are not being taught in schools. They are stealing away all possible ways of learning for the child. School way or No way!



Thursday, June 14, 2012

in the zone

Excerpt from the book The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

To be in the zone is to be in the deep heart of the Element. Doing what we love can involve all sorts of activities that are essential to the Element but are not the essense of it - things like studying, organizing, arranging, limbering up, etc. And even when we're doing the thing we love, there can be frustrations, disappointments, and times when it simply doesn't work or come together. But when it does, it transforms our experience of the Element. We become focused in intent. We live in the moment. We become lost in the experience and perform at our peak. Our breathing changes, our minds merge with our bodies, and we feel ourselves drawn effortlessly into the heart of the Element.

Well, this is what Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it as Flow. Here Sir Ken Robinson calls it as Zone. Being in the flow is  always a joyful experience. One forgets everything else other than what he or she is committed on doing. Be it a Painter, a Climber or a Surgeon; when they are in flow, they are at their best. 


source of energy

Excerpt from the book The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

Activities we love fill us with energy even when we are physically exhausted. Activities we don't like can drain us in minutes, even if we approach them at our physical peak of fitness. When people place themselves in situations that lead to their being in the zone, they tap into primal source of energy. They are literally more alive because of it. 
Now you know why you feel tired of everyday work!

Act now!


social identity theory

Excerpt from the book The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

people often derive a large sense of who they are through affiliation with specific groups and tend to associate themselves closely with groups likely to boost their self-esteem. Sports teams makes fans feel as though they are part of a vast, powerful organization. This is especially true when the teams are winning. Look around at the end of any sports season, and you'll notice team jerseys of that season's champion sprouting all over the street, even in places far distant from the team's home city. Fans boast their affiliation with victorious teams much more loudly because at some level they believe that being associated in tangential way with such a team makes them look better. 

This is so true. We're just watching the French Open and the Euro for this season.

I guess the act of 'Looking Good' prevails.


meaningful life

Excerpt from the book The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

the only meaningful life is a life that strives for the individual realization - absolute and unconditional - of its own particular law... to the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his being... he has failed to realize his life's meaning. 

Am just getting deeper into the law!