Tuesday, January 23, 2007

We shall Overcome !!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Man who moved a Mountain

"Courage easily finds its own eloquence." — Plautus, Roman comic dramatist (c. 254-184 B.C.

It’s difficult to give words to some experiences in life. There are times in our lives when words simply are not enough to express the vortex of emotions which is felt when one comes across something like this.

The courage and will of legendary Dasthrath Manjhi is one of those rare real life incidents which will continue to inspire mankind for ages to come. Our man from Gaya had the fortitude and conviction to move mountains and he made it happen by his sheer perseverance and faith is his efforts to move the mountain. He is an inspiration for all us and just when you feel chips are down and the road ahead seems insurmountable, put yourself in his shoes and imagine the courage it would take to move a mountain.

I have not seen Hanuman and Ram nor do I believe in living gods (read-modern guru’s) but Dashrath Manjhi comes close to be a god and he epitomizes god like virtues.

Today’s TOI also covered his great saga.Over four decades ago, a frail, landless farmer got hold of a chisel and a hammer and decided to change the face of his village nestled in the rocky hills of Gaya. Dashrath Manjhi tore open a 300-feet-high hill to create a one-km passage. Manjhi knew it would he easier to move a mountain than an apathetic government. He knew writing to the powers-that-be would only leave the hill tied in red tape. Instead, Manjhi, then in his early 20s, took up a chisel and hammered at the rocks for 22 years.
This feat, part of local folklore now, stemmed from Manjhi’s love for his wife. For, when she slipped off the rocks while getting food for him as he worked in a field beyond the hill and broke her ankle, it became a burning passion to tame the formidable hills that virtually cut his village off from civilisation. And he completed the Herculean task — creating a short-cut which reduced a long and arduous journey from his village Gahlor Ghati to Wazirganj to a walkable distance. Manjhi hasn’t forgotten the public ridicule when he began hammering at the hill. “They called me a pagal but that steeled my resolve,” he says.
Even his wife and parents were against this “adventure,” especially when he sold his goats to buy a chisel, a hammer and rope. But, by then, Manjhi was a man possessed. He shifted his hut close to the hill so he could work all day and night, chipping away, little by little. “I did not even bother to eat,” he says. With most of the cultivable land and shops across the hill, villagers had to cross it many times a day, braving dangers. It was after 10 years that people began to notice a change in the shape of the hill. Instead of a defiant rockface, the hill seemed to have a depression in the middle. Climbing it became a little easier. “All those who had called me mad began to quietly watch me work. Some even chipped in,” he recollects.
In 1982, twenty-two years after he had started out, Manjhi walked through a clear flat passage — about 16-feet wide — to the other side of the hill. But his victory was tinged with sadness. His wife, who inspired him to take on this task, was not by his side. “She died of illness. We could not take her to a hospital on time,” says Manjhi. But, the villagers were there. They got him sweets, fruits and all that they could afford. Says Ram Avatar Yadav of Bhitra village: “We grew up hearing stories of the man who wants to move a mountain. Today, it’s a reality and a boon for me.”

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cat Stevens Returns

Cat stevens is back in his old avatar with An Other Cup, his first secular studio album in 28 years. The disc contains old songs that were never recorded, songs he wrote in the last couple of years, and songs that he came up with on the spot, once he reached the studio.
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Born as born Steven Demetre Georgiou on July 21, 1948, he adopted the name Cat Stevens; under this moniker, he sold over 60 million albums, mostly in the 1970s changed name to Yusuf Islam in 1979. Stevens became a convert to Islam in 1977, after a near-death experience when he nearly drowned surfing at Malibu Beach[1]. He adopted the name Yusuf Islam in 1979, and became a pious advocate for the religion, devoting himself to educational and philanthropic causes in his community. A decade later, controversy arose when he was reported to have made comments that seemed to support a fatwa calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie, but he claimed to have been misinterpreted.

He has given some of the memorable hits like Moonshadow, Morning has broken, Wild World, Father and Son and First cut is the deepest.

It is believed that he didn't touch a guitar for many years, until two years ago, when his son brought a guitar into the house. After picking it up in the middle of the night and discovering that he could still play, he felt the spirituality in his playing that he said had been missing from his music back in 1978. This week, Yusuf Islam was awarded the Mediterranean Prize for Peace, as he continues to re-enter the spotlight as a musician. Recently in a live concert he commented on why he didn’t touch the guitar for so long, he said , ''to stay out of trouble more than anything.'' But when he picked one up a little over two years ago, ''My fingers just felt at home.''
The 2004 tsunami inspired him to write a song, ''Indian Ocean,'' for a charity album; it's a long, detailed narrative about an English family on an island holiday that takes in an orphan after the tsunami.