Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tryst with Destiny

Tomorrow....well it is 9:47EST so it is 7:15 AM Indian Standard Time, August 15, 2007. Sixty years ago on this date we made our tryst with destiny. I would like to quote part of the late Jawarharlal Nehru's , our first Prime Minister's address to the nation.....

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity......

It has been sixty years since India's independence from the colonial rule of the British. The Indian flag is a horizontal tricolour in equal proportion of deep saffron on the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is two is to three. In the centre of the white band, there is a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma Chakra, the wheel of law in the Sarnath Lion Capital. This center symbol or the 'CHAKRA', is a Buddhist symbol erected around 250 BC. It's diameter approximates the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes, which intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation. The saffron stands for courage, sacrifice and the spirit of renunciation; the white, for purity and truth; the green for faith and fertility. There are rules for the display of the Indian flag. Therefore when I first came to the United States, incidentally I left India on August 15th, I was really surprised to see the American flag displayed on private properties.

To all my American readers, July 4th is typically associated with fireworks, barbecue and drinking beer. August 15th, however, is a "dry day" in India. Dry day does not mean no rainfall or no water or no wetting beds but instead means that no alcohol is sold anywhere in the country as in restaurants, liquor stores etc. Of course there are certain states like Gujarat that are considered "dry" states in India, where alcohol consumption is prohibited (famous last words). India has certain days in the year that qualify as dry days, which includes certain festivals, Gandhi's birth anniversary, Independence day, Republic day etc. Of course that means no alcohol in public places....you could get sloshed at home with your friends! So the warning of dry days means....please stock your bar the previous day and get totally wasted on the "dry" day! With that to all my Indian readers...have a wonderful Independence day!...hic hic hic.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Being Left Handed

I am left handed and as you may very well know that people like me are in the minority. We are only 10 percent. It can be a handicap if you are not ambidextrous. As my mother is left-handed, she has trained me to use my right hand as well. I use my left hand to write but can operate machinery or equipment with my right hand therefore I don't face that much a handicap as other left handed people.

It has been reported that the gene most closely linked to left-handedness has been found. HURRAH!!! Now we, the minority, can peacefully continue our lives but wait a minute....the article also says the gene, called LRRTM1, is also associated with a slight increase in developing certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Didn't we have enough negativity associated with being left handed to learn something additional? I do find relief in the fact that we are not living the 18th and 19th centuries where there were prejudices associated with being left handed! Can you imagine adding left handedness to the other prejudices that still exist in today's world like race, religion, and sexual orientation? Of course the research further states that there is no cause for alarm and that there are many other factors contributing to schizophrenia than being just left-handed. In addition, Australian research published last year states that left handers can think faster than right handed people. Furthermore left handers are able to multi-task, which is an ability I always thought came with being a woman than being left handed.

All my life I have had this experience where say for example I had to write an exam, I would have to request for a desk which wasn't against the wall to my left. When I started using computers in the early nineties, especially the AutoCAD program in DOS (do you remember the dark ages before Windows), it took me a while to get used to a right handed mouse. With the advent of Windows 95, there was an option available to adjust the mouse for left handed people but by that time I had already got used to the right hand one. So one adjusts to life and learns to live with their left handedness. I have lost count of the number of times when random people have mentioned to me, "Oh....you are left handed?" I have always felt like responding, thanks for noticing as I have never realized that typically others don't write with their left hand.

Yesterday I had a meeting with seven people to discuss work. Six of us were left handed. The one person who was right handed was our client and was using our professional service and diverse expertise! Funnily none of us noticed that the others were left handed till the client pointed out that he was a minority in a group of left handed people and that this assured him that he is dealing with a bunch of bright people. To this comment my only response is that appearances are deceptive and there is little utility in stereotyping because I am a complete dolt who piggy-backs on my rather intelligent counterparts!