Thanksgiving …. giving thanks !


To many Thanksgiving is about Turkey, Pumpkin and Merry !

We do not get to hear much about the thank you bit … even though we want to skip the historical or religious bit.

Thanksgiving is an alien festivity to me, unknown to someone from a faraway tropical island in the Southern hemisphere. But living now in my land of adpotion, I get to see the preparations and all the houlala about it. I like it. Not the consumerism though. If I should remember this time of the year, I would say it is one which makes me sad and hopeful with excitement at the same time. Sad to see the yellowing of the leaves which were once in all shades and hues of green, and graced the trees during Spring and Summer. Hopeful because I look forward to the new explosion of life after the Winter has passed.

Pumkin ! Yes that’s the colour that Thanksgiving embodies. And pumpkin do we eat !


I like the idea of this festival. To be thankful for the bountiful harvest. To thank everyone who has contributed to it. To celebrate friendship and kinship with a meal which nature offers us at this challenging time of the year. I do not want to don my boots on, but I keep my thoughts warm thinking how the rest of the animaldom is doing now, are they feeling cold ? are their paws warm enough? can their fleece, fur or feathers keep them warm enough. This is when humility rings a little bell to me, to respect the changing might of nature in the form of the seasons.


The thicks rusty orange blanket of musty leaves makes way to a hard cold earth to receive the lashings of Winter. At this time of the Season, a good hot meal is the most welcoming thing in the vision of most of us at the end of a long working day. So good to warm the hands holding a piping fragrant and comforting bowl of soup !

This year I shall give thanks over a Thanksgiving lunch. I am very excited ! Now, what shall I cook ? bake ? … my husband is being asked the hundreth time ” What shall I cook ?” to which he so diligently replies ” Something traditional Dear ” … maybe that is what I shall be doing…. or a flash of the last minute.

I have had some inspiring recipes ideas from “Thanksgiving Recipes and Menus” but if you look for new ways to do Thanksgiving food, there is a lot on the web !

Table decor is one aspect of my lunch and I like it simple but with a note of class, which I have been digging my brain about how and what to achieve.


Surely, I will be in the park looking for some conkers and cones along with some marvelously tinted leaves to churn out some design ideas to decorate the table. I should not forget the note for thanks !


On a different note I would like to thank all those who created this digital world to enable us to create, share and exchange. Many of us making our daily bread out of it, making it of us the virtual universe in which we exist, the possibility to extrapolate and show our ideas to the outside world, let … alone to ourselves !

Thank you All out there !

We need each other to make this work.

Instead of the one-way communications of the “old internet”, Web 2.0 is about each of us contributing to a much more interactive and informative network that consists of blogs, tweets, wikis, facebook posts, videos, pictures, and the comments and follow-up discussions that go with them.

We are the creators of the new internet.

The tools we use for the new web are called “Social Media” (think Social Studies, not Social Hour), and they have changed the world we live in.  Instead of sitting in a virtual “lecture hall” listening to a few websites do all the talking (think 1990’s), we are now all in a digital “convention hall” discussing amongst ourselves in one great conversation.

With such a level playing field, the new challenge is not the availability of information, but rather the hunt for the “good stuff”.

  • 30,000,000,000 items are shared each month on (official Facebook stats)
  • 2,890,000,000 tweets are posted on Twitter each month (official Twitter stats)
  • 200,000,000+ blogs had been started by 2009, with many more added each day (Technorati)

That’s a lot of content!

I have absolutely no idea how I would find the best of it without your help.  The content I need is a needle in a haystack without your sharing, liking, bookmarking, reblogging, commenting, and linking to it. Obviously search engines are part of the solution, but they need your help too.

That’s why “Sharing is Caring.”

Thank you Aaron Bierbert to share this note with us.

Thank you Mum to have made me. Thank you even though you are so far from me now. Maybe you are seeing me from your world.

Thank you to everyone around me who help me, listen to me, talk to me, love me, support me.

Thank you World to have created us and keep on sustaining us inspite of all the damage we do to You.

Happy Thanksgiving !


Tahaan – A story of Innocent love for one’s pet

I have to make a brief post about this little gem of a movie. Technically excellent, with a heart gripping story and realistic performances by a power house of artists, this movie not only moves you but warms the heart. It is very deep as an insight into what has become of a fertile, lush valley legendary of its beautiful people and landscapes.
Along with strife, for decades now, children have been left with destruction, despair and utter bewilderness for what they cannot comprehend in their little life. With a great heart full of childhood innocence, the main protagonist of the movie is all set to get back his beloved pet.
A donkey.

Tahaan directed by ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan, is an excellent piece of film making. On a little scale, he puts this vast canvas of Kashmir. It has been ages since we saw Kashmir like this. My God !! What we are missing… After Dil Se, in which Santosh had captured beautiful Ladakh in his lense, here he beautifully uses his brush to color the canvas of the screen. Its like reading a fable from our school time story cupboard.

The Fog and smoke creates ‘wow’ visuals on screen. Love it.

Naturally, the story is somewhat based on militants and army. But moreover its a story about Tahaan – the central character’s quest to get back his beloved donkey, Birbal. And over this quest He gets to see and learn many things. Also a surprise too….Purav Bhandare who plays Tahaan, gives absolutely heart warming performance. Below is one of the scene, I loved of him.

Victor Banerjee as his grandpa is in a short but again touching performance. He reminded me of my childhood when we used to listen stories from my grandpa.

Sarika is always a delight to see on screen. She is mute mother of Tahaan. And she does talk with her eyes a lot.

Anupam Kher whose role I thought would be negative, but I was wrong. And again his character is well written and he performs well. And, who else can talk about pain of Kashmiri Pundits than him?

Rahul Bose, in an unusual one, is also too good. Everyone, just everyone has given a top notch performance. Even Rahul Khanna in his 5 mins. appearance, reminded me of the old time ‘lalas‘ [ala Mother India].

And above all, the endearing performance of Birbal-the donkey.

Technically this movie is so brilliant. Everything from production design to cinematography to outstanding sound design, is just too perfect. I loved these two little scenes with some lovely folk music.

All in all, its a must must see movie.

And lastly, here are some screencaps of the movie, featuring lovely people of Kashmir.

Voice of a Visionary




Ray Harris – click here to listen to interview by BBC.

Ray Harris is an education specialist who is experienced in developing training programmes for educators, governments and Non-Governmental Organisations. Originally a trainer for international education in the UK, he moved to Nicaragua to run workshops on environmental education and development after being awarded by the HRM Queen Elizabeth for his work in Environment protection and animal welfare. Since then he has worked in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe developing teacher training activities and youth programmes. A consultant and adviser to many leading institutions, including the World Bank and, UNESCO and  UNICEF.

He is currently an advisor to the World Bank and the Ministry of Education, Vietnam.

My vision is for education for all, in terms of inclusion, in terms of challenging inequalities and making sure that, whether you are poor, whether you’re rural, whether you’re a girl, you have an equal access to good-quality education. This would be my vision. And it is achievable. Having been a teacher at primary and secondary level, having taught teachers in many countries, I realise that the quality can be achieved without a significant increase in funding. Even now, more than 110 million children – almost two-thirds of them girls in developing countries – have no access to primary education. Certainly, in terms of access, then sub-Saharan Africa would be probably top of the list.

Many factors inhibit children from going to school. Some of them are push factors and some of them are pull factors. The push factor – pushing them away from the school, if you like – is the poor quality of education generally. This would be: an irrelevant curriculum; perhaps poor sanitary facilities; and overcrowded classrooms. The second thing would be pull factors from the community, where children are needed at home or in workplaces, to maintain economic stability within the family. Many girls, for example, are used for looking after their brothers and sisters while their parents are out at work. A big initiative has been universal primary education, which is trying to encourage more children into school. The problem that has come is that the quality of the school has not improved, and the teacher training has not improved, the facilities have not improved. You will get statistics – let’s say, in Uganda – where a teacher who was teaching 50 children now may well be teaching 100 children. And it’s the numbers in school which put pressure on schools and administration. If then the school quality is improved and the educational quality is improved, this will entice and encourage more children into school.

UNicef child TAdanceplayGL

Recently, I’ve been working in Colombia with a programme called “Escuela Nueva”- New School. And this was a very futuristic programme, if you like. This was started in the 1970s, and was particularly focused on rural multigrade schools. The difference between Escuela Nueva and other initiatives is that it’s focused on children’s learning. So children use what’s called Learning Guides. Now a problem with rural education is that many children lose time because they’re working with their parents on harvest time and perhaps at the market. And normally they’re penalised. In Escuela Nueva it is understood that children will lose time for these rural activities. So a child, perhaps, who’s away for a week harvesting quite well away from the village may well come back and be able to pick up the Learning Guide. So the motivation is all the time on meeting children’s learning needs.

Certainly the role of the teacher will have changed. He’s helping the children to learn. And rarely will you see a teacher at the front expecting children to memorise without thinking. Teachers are encouraged to adapt the curriculum, to suit the needs of the local community. So they do get a basic core curriculum. But on top of that, they get a range of different subject areas which are relevant to that particular area. Whether it’s in the mountain or a coastal area or a coffee-growing area or a forest, there will be relevant curriculum modules that are linked to that particular environment. So that, if a community sees there’s a benefit from education, they will then fully support it. And we now see Escuela Nueva programmes in Brazil, in Paraguay, in Nicaragua, in Guatemala. And now this year we’ve been working in Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

I was at a workshop last year with a group of teachers. And these teachers are under severe pressure. They’re working in areas where you have guerrillas fighting against paramilitaries. So in fact they’re living with guns behind them. What I brought from them was just their sheer enthusiasm. They would stand up and they would say: “The reason that we continue is that we love our children.” And you couldn’t believe the passion that they were offering.

Children are our future. They have to be nurtured. And first of all we must have a change in attitude, where we value our children and we understand how children learn.

I wouldn’t be in education if I wasn’t an optimist. I am very hopeful, but I do worry about the poor, the rural and the female, who are still going to suffer inequalities for quite some time, unfortunately.