June 23, 2009

Jewellery ? But naturally!

Who would've thought something like carambola would make such exquisite jewellery! It's a fruit for heaven's sake!
But then, this is the work of Nubia Goncalves from Rio de Janeiro. Nubia uses Brazilian natural products, including gemstones and nuts, to craft such beautiful jewellery and sells these on Etsy.

And yes, this is the same Starfruit (aka Bilimbi) which you'll find kids buying by the cartload from the bhaiyya outside their school-gates. Who knew it would have their mums lusting for it too?! Oh... watch that drool... this is a natural product so take care to keep it away from moisture.

(I wonder whether I'd feel like munching on it if I was wearing it?
Maybe. Probably... sigh!)

So would you fancy blue rosebuds around your neck? Apparently they're actually Abacaxizinhos (don't ask me how that's pronounced, please!) and dotted with pearls.
Want a translation? I did, and checked out a couple of translation sites which told me that abacaxi means pineapple in Portuguese. So would these be the head of the pineapple? Maybe very tiny, baby ones?
In any case, isn't their resemblance to rosebuds amazing?

Now this is super fun!
As zesty as chilled lemonade on a hot day, these coco discs in bright sunshiny colours can bring a smile to anyone.

Or try an earthy one for a change.
Mmmm...hmmm...! I've got to find a way to turn a skull-breaking coconut into a mind-boggling piece of jewellery!

(Images courtesy : Nubia Goncalves )

June 15, 2009

Children of Lesser Boards - 2

I had written the previous post 'Children of Lesser Boards' when the issue had just come up and then had put it aside, intending to publish it later. Actually I was a bit concerned that in my shock and dismay, maybe I was not being objective enough . Then Life took over and I got too involved with other things to have time for blogging.

In the meantime, the 90%-10% issue progressed with the Chief Minister stepping in and declaring that it would not come into effect as the legal opinion was that it is unfair (well, I could've told you that!) and brings up issues of equality.
I can think of more things that it can be called... discriminatory, unjust, favoritism, undemocratic, unconstitutional and downright shocking!

In any case, I debated whether I should still publish my post seeing how the situation had changed and have decided that I will. Just to make my opinion known too, for what it's worth.

The education ministry feels that the other Boards should start their own colleges and that the students should stick to those. Why? If the student likes another college for whatever reason, why should he be denied a fair chance of getting admission there?

I can't understand why the few days before the admissions start are always riddled with such controversies. Each time it is the students who have to bear the burden for whatever things their Board did or didn't do. If you really need to change things around, change the system. Why should the students suffer because one Board gives more marks and the other doesn't?

The parents are already wrung out after a whole year of putting aside their own lives and concentrating on their child's studies. The children are just getting over the stress of tutorials, lectures, hours of study and exams themselves. We really don't need this now or ever!

June 9, 2009

Children of Lesser Boards

90% of the seats for Junior Colleges in Maharashtra are going to be reserved for SSC students!
Not 30% ... or even 50% ... but a whole, walloping 90% ! Outrageously unfair!

Apparently the state education ministry feels that the SSC students need a very strong push because their marks are not as high as that of students from other Boards.

Hmmm.... I know how much the ICSE student has to study because my son just wrote that exam. And I've seen some of the books studied by his friends in SSC schools. The SSC books and the depth which the syllabus seems to skims through is barely a fraction of that which my son had to study in the same class.

After fretting, sweating and slogging the whole year, cutting down on sports and other activities, and nearly turning purple in the face with the amount of studying done, if my ICSE boy gets better scores than his SSC friend (who already has the advantage of having less to study), then does he really have to be punished for it?

So... the marking system in ICSE system makes it easier for the students to score high. Well, what's stopping the SSC Board from adopting a similar system? Change the system, don't penalise the students who chose to follow another system.

Reports in the newspapers quote parents of SSC students claiming that the marks given by the other Boards are "abnormally high". Really? Well, I find the amount of studies covered by an SSC student in comparison with that of an ICSE student, is equally unfair!

On the one hand, you have the ICSE Board which forces the students to study tons and tons of stuff (which I've grumbled about before) and prepare projects and submit assignments in each subject. For these projects they are assessed internally for a maximum of 20 marks. No, they're not just freely 'given' those marks. They do have to work for it, only not in a question & answer form.

On the other hand, you have the SSC Board which covers far less portions in the syllabus, prescribes easier textbooks and offers a much easier job of studying but the marking is rather strict, from what I've heard.

So where is the inequality for the SSC student? Doesn't it all even out in the end?

Incidentally, I do not for a single minute think that the SSC students are less intelligent or capable than their counterparts in ICSE, CBSE or IB schools. No way! So why on earth do they need a crutch like this?
Why are the other children handicapped for no fault of theirs? Why are they made out to be less equal?

Apparently, the officials wants to bring about more parity between the marks scored in the SSC and other Boards. Well, first bring about the same parity in the standard of education. How can you penalise someone for studying more?

Let them build colleges for their students says the minister about the fate of the students from other Boards relegated to a mere 10% statistic. Why do I hear echoes of Marie-Antoinette's "let them eat cake!" ?

I wonder why the same education ministry sanctioned all those ICSE, CBSE and IB schools if they had no intention of allowing the students to compete fairly for seats in quality colleges.
Now here's a fact for you : there just aren't that many good quality colleges in Mumbai. There are some, true. But not enough.

What on earth happened to good old Merit? Why is everything about reservations and quotas nowadays? Soon will they introduce reservations on whom one can marry?
Where and when will we begin to live as truly equal citizens in this country? Why is it that if you score more or earn more, you automatically go to the bottom of the ladder to make way, almost guiltily, for those who didn't?

I know! At the end of the next elections, the person who gets the least amount of votes should be declared the winner.
Same logic, no?

p.s. This post is not a sneering put-down of the capabilities of the SSC Board or its students. Nor is it a song of praise glorifying the students of other Boards. It is just one mother's shocked reaction to what I see as sheer injustice and discrimination.

June 4, 2009

Kochi to Trivandrum

This is what I woke up to on my first day in Kochi. A glowering sun trying to burn through looming monsoon clouds which threatened to unload any minute. Luckily for me, the sunshine won out.
I wouldn't normally say 'luckily' about rain not showing up but it applied here because I had a long drive ahead of me from Kochi (formerly called Cochin) to Trivandrum (well, it's called 'Thiruvananthapuram' now but its too much of a tongue-twister for me and just about everyone else, I think).

The General Election results had just been announced and everywhere I looked,

I saw jubilant people riding in all kinds of vehicles,
waving their flags and celebrating .
The others were sulking at home, I suppose.

Just about the first word I think you would use to describe Kerala is 'green' .
Rambling, clambering... luxuriantly, verdantly, jade-moss-emerald-forest and every shade in between ... unabashedly GREEN!
And the pre-monsoon showers were definitely helping things along !
See what I mean?

And if it isn't the greenery, what really catches your eye and pulls at your heart-strings are the soothing stretches of water!

Glimpses of the sea,

vast palm-fringed serenely beautiful backwaters,

little streams and rivers running to the sea,

paddy-fields in-waiting filling up with rain,
quaint little temple-ponds ...
Kerala is all about the melding and merging of earth and water in myriad impossibly beautiful ways.

And all along the way, the highway is dotted with tiny little shops, often filled with the produce of the land.

Simple and unassuming they might be but they're definitely colourful!

Some of them, usually the little tea-shops, even seem to double up as the local meeting-place. A place to hail old friends and, maybe, yarn awhile or tut-tut about the state of politics and the world in general.
Kerala isn't the country's first state with 100% literacy for nothing. Everyone always has an opinion about everything and they're not shy about voicing it.

I wonder if this is how it has always been ... when King Solomon sent his ships to Kerala to buy some 'black gold' ( pepper ), or when the ancient Romans sailed in for precious cardamom and timber, did they hang around with the locals and chat like this?

(Most of these photos were taken from a fast-moving car. So if they appear a bit fuzzy or splotchy, you know why)