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Culture Lists

Books read in 2019

After being stuck in a bit of a rut in terms of reading books, I ended up reading more books in 2019 than previous years.

I read a lot of things online and this year I had to make a conscious effort at switching off from a screen and carry a book.

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Culture Learn

The romance to open web

This weekend I ended up listening to a podcast by Matt Mullenweg with Anil Dash.

For me, both are pretty much people I most admire when I think of the words “open web”.

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Culture

Songs, Choirs and A.R Rahman

While looking around on a Saturday afternoon to find something new to listen to while working, I came across this wonderful mixture of “Hey Jude” – Beatles and “Tere Bina” – A.R Rahman.

This song is performed by the Shillong Chamber Choir group. The fun thing about the video is that, the whole group looked like they were really having a lot of fun while shooting the video.

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Culture

The Russian folk song and its Hindi cover “Darling” in “7 khoon maaf”

A favourite song I often listen to a lot, is “Darling”, from the movie “7 khoon maaf

The movie is based on a short story by Ruskin Bond titled “Susanna’s seven husbands”. The song “Darling” is basically a Hindi cover version of the famous Russian folk song “Kalinka“.

The song has a speedy tempo and its tempo increases consistently over and over again.

It is performed ever so brilliantly by Usha Uthup and Rekha Bharadwaj.

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Culture Reflect

Yuvraj Singh: Swagger and Inspiration

Today Yuvraj Singh announced his retirement.

He was known to typify the man who walked on the field with swagger, played with flamboyance, and showed ability that borders on genius.

Credits

Who can forget his 6 sixes against England during the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa.

But the most enduring memory was Yuvraj Singh, who was often being criticised as a bit of a has been in 2011, come out and play the best cricket of his life. It was not surprising that when Indian became World Champs in 2011 in Mumbai – Yuvraj was the man of the series.

But the saga had just started. News trickled out that Yuvraj had been sick during the tournament. Over the next year, he fought lung cancer and with chemotherapy he survived and beat cancer.

He did not just beat cancer, he managed to get back to cricket and play at the highest level all over again. His international career after his comeback was patchy but is the most inspiring part of his career and a testimony to mental strength and courage.

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Culture Learn

What’s really important in your life?

A couple of days ago, I met a friend with whom I went on a very long walk. We walked for over 3 hours, waiting for breakfast, coffee later and some cheesecake by noon. There is something great about walking and talking with a friend for hours. For some reason there is a lot of clarity and elasticity in thought while thinking about things during a walk.

So I wondered if the best way to enjoy my walk was not just walk to music but also listen to a podcast and think about things. Today I loaded listened to Atul Gawande and Tom Jennings talking about mortality.

There is a lot to take away from that podcast with quotes like

What is turning out to be the powerful way of actually having this conversation is, you put the pills down, and you talk to the patient and you say: ‘What’s really important in your life?’

While listening to it can tear you up a bit, especially if you have lost someone, but it has a lot of amazing insights into how we view our work and how it can make a difference.

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Culture

Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?

Over the past week or so, I have been watching this riveting, well edited documentary series, namely “The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

I like documentaries by Ken Burns and hence started to check this one out now that it’s available on Netflix.

Ambassador Elsworth Bunker during the Vietnam war suggested that they were now looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

The interviewer replied “Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?”

The political bluster, the terrifying ego of an empire willing to send thousands of their young into war and death and millions of their so called enemy, the sheer resoluteness of a people – who has just won their fight against colonialism are some of the narratives captured very well.

I am only half way through it but really liking it. Also quite disgusted by much of what it reveals.

That said I wonder what people from Vietnam think of such documentaries? 

Do they think of this as an indulgent America putting balm on their own wounds from a war, while more or less forgetting the lessons from that war?

About the title:

Ambassador Elsworth Bunker during the Vietnam war suggested that they were now looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

The interviewer replied “Mr. Ambassador, you say light at the end of the tunnel, but how long is the tunnel?” – episode 6 of the documentary.

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Culture

A couple of books about our world

I recently picked up a couple of books on Kindle. Starting with the An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor. The book is highly recommended by many friends and relatives who have read it, have been surprised on India’s colonial history. I personally did not find An Era of Darkness as illuminating, but then I have been reading about colonialism for a while now.

The other book I am reading and finding interesting is “The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith” and it was thanks to a quote by Noam Chomsky – 

People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.
He did give an argument for markets, but the argument was that under conditions of perfect liberty, markets will lead to perfect equality. That’s the argument for them, because he thought that equality of condition (not just opportunity) is what you should be aiming at. It goes on and on. He gave a devastating critique of what we would call North-South policies. He was talking about England and India. He bitterly condemned the British experiments they were carrying out which were devastating India.

– Chomsky

The bold letters are my emphasis. I am actually surprised how I managed to not read this book all this while.

I am looking for recommendations on books that explain our world practically and philosophically rather than spiritually.

Drop in your recommendations, I would love to check them out.