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Monthly Archive: May 2020

Fare of Horse Cart. Grandpa & Me. Podcast Serial Episode 25

Narration by: Shariq Ali
May 28, 2020
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Grandpa talks about the evolution of a written text and current-day information explosion in this story

 

 

Grandpa was holding a book in his hands, and I was holding Kindle. He smiled and said to me. Without having a feel of turning the page on your fingers, how can you enjoy reading a book? While decorating flowers in vases, Yani Apa said. Mamdu is holding a library in his hands, not a book Grandpa. Then she asked me. How many books are there in your Kindle? I replied. Around fifteen hundred and dictionary extra. Place your finger on any word and here comes the meaning and detailed description. Grandpa said. No doubt, ideas are travelling at a high speed nowadays. And so cheap as well. Spreading information such as written text was never so easy and fast in the history of mankind as it is now. Please tell us about the evolution of written text Grandpa. I requested. He said. Verbal language is more ancient than written text. Body language and utterance of few meaningful sounds may have emerged earlier. The written text came much later. Thirty thousand years old paintings in the caves of Spain and France are the first written text of a kind. When ancient human evolved into groups. Need to prove ownership for the barter of things emerged. Hunt, crop, animal, or piece of land. The written text came into being because of this practical need. Archaeologists have discovered ownership plaques in Mesopotamia as old as 4000BC. Then evolved a picture language that was a straightforward drawing of things. Then manipulation and arrangement of shapes and pictures to create meaning. Finally, the alphabet associated with verbal sounds emerged. Mesopotamia, Babylonia, ancient River Nile. All civilizations have contributed to the evolution of alphabet and language. Yani Apa opened the window facing the lawn, a fresh breeze came in. Grandpa took a deep breath and said. The earliest evidence of writings is the name, Narmer. The first pharaoh of Egypt. Written on the clay cylinder in 3100 BC. Egyptians invented Papyrus around 2800 BC in Egypt. It reached Greece around 650 BC. Papyrus helped the start of proper book writing. Writings on silk textile began in China around 400BC. The creation of the Library of Alexandria in 295 BC was a great breakthrough. It preserved written knowledge. All ship’s anchoring at the port used to submit written material on board to the library. It was then transcribed, copied and preserved in the Alexandria library. Yani Apa handed over a hot cup of tea to grandpa and said. In the first century, the Chinese used a crude form of paper produced from the vegetable. Five hundred years later, the paper industry travelled from China to reach Japan. And finally, to South Asia. Then came the Gutenberg printing press revolution in 1439 AD. It spread the knowledge to the common man through printed books. And today’s world is a fascinating age of information explosion. Computers, digital communications and its foundation microchip has revolutionized current times. Information access, storage or its transfer in the form of text, pictures or sounds is so easy. And so cheap as well. As if someone is travelling on a spaceship and paying fare for the horse cart… To be continued
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Walking On The Sand. Grandpa & Me. Podcast Serial Episode 24

Narration by: Shariq Ali
May 23, 2020
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Remembering a poet and a freedom fighter Ahmed Shamim

 

 

Room was comfortable and only lit by the fireplace. Grandpa, me and Yani Apa were watching our favourite videos turn by turn on the smart TV. Comments after each video were so amusing. On Yani Apa’s turn, we watched Ahmad Shamim’s poem sang by Nayara Noor. Lyrics and singing were so captivating. ” Once upon a time, we were adorable”. Once the video ended, I said. In this poem, I see the impression of childhood, but travelling on sand is nowhere. Then why its title is Moment of travel on the Sand? Grandpa said. Knowing a poet’s story makes it easier to understand the poem. Let’s begin then. I said. Grandpa said. At the time of partition, Ahmed Shamim was a talented student of Srinagar. He was also an active member of the Kashmir freedom movement. Because of the cruelty of Indian security forces, he had to leave his mother and family and come to Pakistan. First, he served as a freelance journalist in Azad Kashmir Radio. Later, he joined the information department. And promoted to the post of director. His poems never forgot the pain of leaving his mother and Kashmiri childhood. He sacrificed his happiness for the dream of independence. This grief is evident in his poetry. Yani Apa slowed down the heating a little and said. He was living as a paying guest with an elderly landlady in 1950 when he glimpsed Monira. She used to come to learn Qur’an from the landlady. A quiet and reflective girl. He liked her but could not express his feelings. He kept his silence and lost her. He then became a member of the Progressive Movement and suffered state violence. In 1961, by chance, he came across Monira again. This time love defeated the storm of social inequality and economic adversities. Monira writes in the preface of the book “Hava Nam Bar Ho” a compilation of the love letters of Ahmad Shamim to Monira. ” Mall Road was full of people all around us. We were walking along holding each other’s hands. As if we are creating a world of our own. Unbeknownst to anyone around us and the suffering of life. It felt like we had been together for centuries. As if our being and this moment are immortal. We are the universe. He was telling me. I am his dream. A girl who can endure great suffering “. Partition gave him another wound. In 1963, his mother passed away. He could not go back to Srinagar to attend her funeral. He thought strong Pakistan would guarantee the independence of Kashmir. He lost even this hope in 1971 after the fall of East Pakistan. On the night of Dhaka fall, he had his first heart attack. All the sacrifices seemed meaningless. In 1982, on his last interview for the radio, he says. Those who travel on the sand leaves no marks behind them. No clue for the coming generations. The strong winds erase even the footprints. And it becomes a meaningless journey to the unknown. His poem moment of the journey on the sand has many facets. These include a lost childhood, the grief of losing a mother. Broken dreams, and the meaningless struggle for the destination unknown. He laments his entire life in this poem. In 1982, another heart attack proved fatal… To be continued

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Story Of The Storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. Grandpa & Me. Podcast Serial Episode 23

Narration by: Shariq Ali
May 16, 2020
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His own childhood was immersed in deep poverty and deprivation.  But he wrote great stories of love, splendour, and the wonderment for children

 

 

I and Babul were sitting on the lawn bench under the apricot tree thinking about how to end our story in progress. Babul used to contribute with superb imagination. I was good at converting ideas into sentences. When these joint stories get published on the Kids Club website, we used to feel delighted. The thinking work on the new story was in progress. We never knew when Yani Apa came with picked flowers in a plate in her hand and sat beside us. As soon as Babul realized that Yani Apa is with us, he disappeared. When she took the paper from my hand, I also blushed. But then I felt reassured when I saw appreciation rather than ridicule in her expression. Babul also came along. When we all three completed the story together, Yani Apa said. Let’s hear the story of a storyteller today. He was born in Odense, Denmark in 1805. His mother was a maid and the father shoemaker. By the age of fourteen, he has tasted all the flavours of poverty. His parents wanted him to become a dressmaker and his passion was to become an actor in theatre. Finally, he managed to get his parent’s permission to go to Copenhagen to try his luck as an actor. He failed as an actor, then a singer and then a dancer, but remained associated with theatre as a writer. What about his education? Babul inquired. She replied. At the age of seventeen, an affluent gentleman helped him. He managed to resume and complete his education. His stories are more of fascinating oral narrations and not scholastic writings. Failing a few times in finding love, he remained a bachelor all his life. Most of his life, he travelled and lived as a guest with his rich friends. He made a lot of friends. His friendship with English novelist Charles Dickens is remarkable. The impressions of personal grief, loneliness, and sadness are evident in his stories. His characters and settings show the worlds of the poor and bourgeoisie. The concept and impression of the story emerge in different minds in different ways. As if they were not stories but poems. Like our Intizar Hussein, he reiterated the stories told by his grandma in his style. But most of the stories and characters are original. The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid are world-renown stories and characters. He felt embarrassed to write fairy tales. He could not have imagined that fairy tales are universal poetry. Adaptable to all cultures and languages. His first book could not have been more successful. With time, he gained a reputation as a novelist, playwright and a poet. Anderson’s contributions to world literature are his fairy tales. Almost all the languages and cultures of the world are familiar with his characters. Ugly duckling and the little mermaid are the household characters for children. Anderson departed from this world in Copenhagen in 1875… To be continued
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Chinese Wisdom. Confucius. Grandpa & Me. Podcast Serial Episode 22

Narration by: Shariq Ali
May 7, 2020
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Story of the Uncrowned King of China. A philosopher whose sound bites of wisdom serve as a code of personal morality and handbook on government

 

 

The shortcut through the jungle was quite narrow. We had tons of small tree branches on both sides of the path and withered leaves under our boots. Babul was familiar with this shortcut and leading the way. Yani Apa wearing blue jeans, purple top and joggers was following him. Her beautiful long hair with a matching clip was moving like a pendulum on each step. I was following both at the back. Our destination was the lake where Grandpa and Uncle had been fishing since morning. I am sure you remember Babul? My best friend in Phoolbun who helps his parents in the fields. I felt good when Yani Apa and Babul became friends and liked each other. But now, it is a burden on my chest when I see her appreciating him when he swims or climbs trees faster than me. When the wilderness was clear, we started walking along. Yani Apa said to Babul. The passion for reading and writing can beat poverty. The story of poor Confucius born in China in 551 BC is a good example. He became an orphan when he was three. In those days, regular education was only available to the rich. He was a poor shepherd. He accompanied and served rich scholars during their journey to other cities. This was his learning and educational experience. He then got access to the Royal court and achieved further education. First became a secretary and then a prominent scholar. At the age of 23, he began educating others as a teacher. Then he became the judge of the city. When the crime rate went down, he became the Minister of Lu, a province of ancient China. Thus, the moral values and rule of law prevailed throughout the province. At the age of fifty-six, he travelled with his disciples to distant places to educate masses. Influence of his doctrines on Chinese culture from 200 BC to 1911 AD is very profound. When we reached the shores of the lake, Grandpa also came up and sat with us on the grass leaving his fishing rod behind. He said. Confucius did not leave any writings. But his disciples saved his teachings in the form of Analects in 400 BC. He never claimed to be a religious leader. Nor is his teaching any religion. He regards moral human conduct and personal dignity as the cornerstone of society. He says that rulers must become a role model to create a better society. They should be honest, obedient to rule of law, peaceful and able to make wise decisions. He considers discipline and ethics important. Even if people label and perceive us as naive. Confucian teachings still have some influence in present-day politics and system of government. His golden rule was to do what you expect from others. He left the world at the age of seventy-two… To be continued
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Atlantis, a Metaphorical City. Grandpa & Me. Podcast Serial Episode 21

Narration by: Shariq Ali
May 2, 2020
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Plato`s fantasy, a marvel of fiction or historical reality? The mystery of Atlantis is still unresolved

 

 

 

The sitting room was comfy with the fireplace on. The weather was chilly in Phoolbun. We were enjoying dried figs, pistachio Iranian dessert with hot coffee. The conversation was full of low threshold laughter between. Yani Apa said while staring at the oil painting on the wall. There is a picturesque impression of a remote island in this painting. Who knows it may be like Atlantis? Grandpa said. Plato’s stories know how to put fingers on the pulse of the human condition. That makes them eternal. The story of Atlantis has survived for more than two thousand years. The mystery never ends. This ancient mythical city is still painted with various colours of human imagination. The inhabitants of this city were half gods and half-human. They lived in palaces built on small islands along the coast. The central canal passes through the heart of all these small islands. This was the connection between these and with the central capital island. Gold, silver and other precious metals used to construct buildings. There were beautiful and rare trees along the paths. A variety of charming wild animals were roaming in the woods. Majestic buildings of the capital island displayed power and good taste of elites. The society was ethical and superior. Then greed and love for luxury became prevalent. Higher moral values and ethical principles began to decline. This made the gods angry. The final scene of the story is the horrific night of the volcano. Huge waves of the tsunami due to the earthquake caused the destruction and drowning of the city. The narrative continuity of the story seems so real. Explorers have been searching for this lost city for centuries and even today. They have tried various places on the world map. Mediterranean, Spain and Antarctica are few examples. It is unlikely that this story of Plato is true. He may have created this fictional story for philosophical discourse. He was very fond of topics such as human nature, the search for truth and the ideal society. The story of Atlantis has it all. The destruction of the Minoan civilization by the volcanic eruption looks similar. This destroyed the Greek island of Santorini. This happened three thousand six hundred years ago. But Plato’s Atlantis was nine thousand years old …. To be continued
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