DETAIL TALK

Detail Talk takes potshots at ideas, conversations, people and cultures that the 'detailtalkers' encounter in their lives travelling and living in cities across India.
The duo - @praveenasridhar & @tiwarisac
Its been a while since we have been thinking, researching and also working on safety gears of labourers working on the roads, factories, other industrial setups. When we started to look at it, we felt the reason could be the negligence of the employer or it costs them too much for them worry. Surprising when @tiwarisac researched upon it and also discussed it with one of the major construction firms, we found few of our assumptions proven wrong.To provide safety gear for people working in construction it takes around 1% of the expenditure of a construction firm. But the workers do not wear it because, it is not convenient for them to wear rubber boots and gloves in a tropical climate. 
Yesterday while discussing behavioural change around sanitation and use of toilets, this topic was raised again. Men standing on 6 or 8 floors above ground with out harness support and the ones working on the floor without any helmet. In this case the construction firm was trying to understand why is it that these men did not care much about their lives. Somethings very interesting was shared by the people who were trying to understand this:
1. Generally as a species for us to evolve nature has made all of us overconfident. There is an inherent bias ” I am better than the other”. Even when a person sees a tragedy due to negligence or non-use of safety gear, people thing” so sad, HE should have been careful.” But internally they have a strong belief that ” it will never happen to me”
2. Death is not in anyone of our perception and that makes it very difficult to use the emotion of fear to effect behaviour change. 
3. For a man working on top of the building there are 1000s of things he has to worry about. If the person trying to understand the non-use of safety gear dosent take into consideration these situations a individual lives in, he may not be able to get the person to change and use the safety gears. 
Another very interesting thing that was mentioned and was new to me was, we can not make everything “cultural”, “indian”. We need to try to understand the fundamental psyche of human beings and work on any issue from that fundamental level. If not we would never be able to solve any problem ever, as contexts,cultures and Indian-ness changes every few kilometers in our country. 

Its been a while since we have been thinking, researching and also working on safety gears of labourers working on the roads, factories, other industrial setups. 
When we started to look at it, we felt the reason could be the negligence of the employer or it costs them too much for them worry. Surprising when @tiwarisac researched upon it and also discussed it with one of the major construction firms, we found few of our assumptions proven wrong.To provide safety gear for people working in construction it takes around 1% of the expenditure of a construction firm. But the workers do not wear it because, it is not convenient for them to wear rubber boots and gloves in a tropical climate. 

Yesterday while discussing behavioural change around sanitation and use of toilets, this topic was raised again. Men standing on 6 or 8 floors above ground with out harness support and the ones working on the floor without any helmet. In this case the construction firm was trying to understand why is it that these men did not care much about their lives. Somethings very interesting was shared by the people who were trying to understand this:

1. Generally as a species for us to evolve nature has made all of us overconfident. There is an inherent bias ” I am better than the other”. Even when a person sees a tragedy due to negligence or non-use of safety gear, people thing” so sad, HE should have been careful.” But internally they have a strong belief that ” it will never happen to me”

2. Death is not in anyone of our perception and that makes it very difficult to use the emotion of fear to effect behaviour change. 

3. For a man working on top of the building there are 1000s of things he has to worry about. If the person trying to understand the non-use of safety gear dosent take into consideration these situations a individual lives in, he may not be able to get the person to change and use the safety gears. 

Another very interesting thing that was mentioned and was new to me was, we can not make everything “cultural”, “indian”. We need to try to understand the fundamental psyche of human beings and work on any issue from that fundamental level. If not we would never be able to solve any problem ever, as contexts,cultures and Indian-ness changes every few kilometers in our country. 

Sample these paintings which serve as communication of development programs promoted or wholly run by the government. The pics are from a remote tribal district where the government offers a subsidy on buying a high yielding breed of cow. And so goes the poster - a Holstein-Fresian cow set in a green backdrop (and this hilly region is indeed lush green) and a woman milking it. The posters are too literal, but sort of get the message across.

And now the real bit - there are no takers for it. The tribes ask for the local variety of cow so that they can use it as draft animals on their fields.

We find that these pictures or painted visions of prosperous farms and villages are far from real. They shape the ideal. And that ideal is the vision of the ‘agency’ not of the people.

About time that development sector sits up and examines what it is communicating vs what it actually does.

M.M. Hills, South India

Analyzing Nobel Prize in Literature Citations Over the Years

As many know, the Nobel Prizes typically have a citation which indicates in brief why or for what contribution is the prize being awarded. For a reading club discussion we analyzed how the citations have changed over the years from 1900-2010.

We chose to do a fast and dirty wordle analysis of the words in the citations. Two separate analysis were done for periods 1900-1950 and 1951-2010. The world clouds compare the words during these period. We think this reveals a couple of interesting patterns:

- the emphasis on idealism and recognition before 1950s.

- introduction of terms like narrative, realistic, artistic and power, post 1950.

- poetry remains big all through!

BACK!

The detailtalkers are back after a hiatus. It took us well over six months to be back in force and in colour. While @praveenasridhar went vagabonding and consulting on some dev projects, I got into a graduate program.

Meanwhile, she got a kickass flickr stream going - http://www.flickr.com/photos/42419693@N00/

Rides, travels and interesting stories. We have loads of them piled high. And gonna follow soon…

\m/

"Is this all?" wonder how many women ask that question to themselves in the silent moments at the end of their typical day! And how many find no answer coming by! Things ain’t too different today as it appears. Perhaps the voices have gone louder, the questions stronger but action still woefully lacking!
thereconstructionists:

In 1957, as her 15th college reunion was approaching, writer Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 — February 4, 2006) set out to survey university graduates about their education, life after college, and their present life-satisfaction. In a series of articles, Friedan noted a recurring pattern — the quiet, recondite, yet intense unhappiness of women in the golden age of the housewife. Termed “the problem that has no name,” it spurred an outpour of passionate responses from women for whom it resonated deeply. Friedan wrote:

The shores are strewn with the casualties of the feminine mystique. They did give up their own education to put their husbands through college, and then, maybe against their own wishes, ten or fifteen years later, they were left in the lurch by divorce. The strongest were able to cope more or less well, but it wasn’t that easy for a woman of forty-five or fifty to move ahead in a profession and make a new life for herself and her children or herself alone.

In 1963, after witnessing the profound cultural resonance of the topic, Friedan reworked the articles into The Feminine Mystique, which went on to ignite the second wave of modern feminism and to become the most influential book on gender politics in contemporary history. It championed women’s reproductive rights, called for better education, criticized workplace laws and cultural attitudes towards childcare responsibilities and, above all, advocated for women’s right to freely explore the fundamental question of what it means to live a full life.
She wrote:

Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — ‘Is this all?’

In 1970, on the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote, Friedan organized the nation-wide Women’s Strike for Equality. It culminated with a New York City march led by Friedan herself, which drew 50,000 women and men and became one of the largest marches in history. The following year, she and other front-line feminists founded the National Women’s Political Caucus and continued to work tirelessly for the full inclusion of women in mainstream society.
Friedan passed away on her 85th birthday, bequeathing a powerful legacy that shaped the feminist movement not merely as relentless advocacy for women’s equality but as enduring protection and celebration of the human spirit.
Learn more: Wikipedia  |  Autobiography

"Is this all?" wonder how many women ask that question to themselves in the silent moments at the end of their typical day! And how many find no answer coming by! Things ain’t too different today as it appears. Perhaps the voices have gone louder, the questions stronger but action still woefully lacking!

thereconstructionists:

In 1957, as her 15th college reunion was approaching, writer Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 — February 4, 2006) set out to survey university graduates about their education, life after college, and their present life-satisfaction. In a series of articles, Friedan noted a recurring pattern — the quiet, recondite, yet intense unhappiness of women in the golden age of the housewife. Termed “the problem that has no name,” it spurred an outpour of passionate responses from women for whom it resonated deeply. Friedan wrote:

The shores are strewn with the casualties of the feminine mystique. They did give up their own education to put their husbands through college, and then, maybe against their own wishes, ten or fifteen years later, they were left in the lurch by divorce. The strongest were able to cope more or less well, but it wasn’t that easy for a woman of forty-five or fifty to move ahead in a profession and make a new life for herself and her children or herself alone.

In 1963, after witnessing the profound cultural resonance of the topic, Friedan reworked the articles into The Feminine Mystique, which went on to ignite the second wave of modern feminism and to become the most influential book on gender politics in contemporary history. It championed women’s reproductive rights, called for better education, criticized workplace laws and cultural attitudes towards childcare responsibilities and, above all, advocated for women’s right to freely explore the fundamental question of what it means to live a full life.

She wrote:

Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — ‘Is this all?’

In 1970, on the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote, Friedan organized the nation-wide Women’s Strike for Equality. It culminated with a New York City march led by Friedan herself, which drew 50,000 women and men and became one of the largest marches in history. The following year, she and other front-line feminists founded the National Women’s Political Caucus and continued to work tirelessly for the full inclusion of women in mainstream society.

Friedan passed away on her 85th birthday, bequeathing a powerful legacy that shaped the feminist movement not merely as relentless advocacy for women’s equality but as enduring protection and celebration of the human spirit.

Feminity! Where do you locate yourself? Do you, if at all? And why? Deeper questions and a bold answer, all in this image! 

Love it!


roseaposey:

“Judgments”I took this last year, but in retrospect, I think it’s my strongest piece from high school.
Working on this project really made me examine my own opinions, preconceptions and prejudices about “slutty” women and women who choose to cover all of their skin alike. I used to assume that all women who wore Hijabs were being oppressed, slut-shame, and look down on and judge any woman who didn’t express her sexuality in a way that I found appropriate.
I’d like to think I’m more open now.

Feminity! Where do you locate yourself? Do you, if at all? And why? Deeper questions and a bold answer, all in this image! 

Love it!

roseaposey:

“Judgments”

I took this last year, but in retrospect, I think it’s my strongest piece from high school.

Working on this project really made me examine my own opinions, preconceptions and prejudices about “slutty” women and women who choose to cover all of their skin alike. I used to assume that all women who wore Hijabs were being oppressed, slut-shame, and look down on and judge any woman who didn’t express her sexuality in a way that found appropriate.

I’d like to think I’m more open now.

icecoldpalms:

Some travels just live on. I doubt I’d want to go back to the same place again ‘cause it’ll never be as beautiful without them. :)

AND some interesting stuff from icecoldpalms this morning! Mersi for the lovely art idea… Where is the place?

Toss it, toss it

Rail road for them is the finest segue available to travel from the inner terrain to the stunningly diverse land that they were fortunate to be born in.

Rail road for them is the finest segue available to travel from the inner terrain

to the stunningly diverse land that they were fortunate to be born in

As the Derveishes travel (in fact one stays confined to 200 kilometers and the other to 20,000 kilometers) they keep tossing wise cracks. Conversations happen, thoughts fly all over and they smear every avenue they find, with their “cracks”. 

Two fresh ones. (append the list, will you? @praveenasridhar)

On the highway all progress is relative,
the absolute is the journey itself, where the journeymen’s experiences are their own! - Jan, 2013

We are meant to wear the sun. (on tan & sub burns on the highway). - Jan,2013

I stepped in to the desert when the Sun began to set and I left  when it rose.  Jan,2013

Older ones 

 I feel, if biking could ever be a religion,it would be much like Sufism. While riding emotions and love are an outpouring. It is a ceaseless stream. And you feel like a derviesh, spinning through the latitudes of the earth. – May,2012

insearchofresonance:

An ant’s eye view of discourses on water- political, social, economic and ecological. 

Ends and Means: Prof. G.D.Agrawal’s fast to save Ganga

This is a post we wrote in July 2010 on our old blog detailtalk.org , when Prof. G.D.Agarwal went on a fast unto death to save Ganga. This is what we thoughts about his decision then. We felt (and still feel) that he could have helped the situation (saving & cleaning Ganges) in other forms, like mentoring a cadre of young enviro professionals etc, but he chooses to opt for an ascetic life (as a sanyasi) and do penance for what his countrymen have done to the holy river. While this is his personal choice and he has every right to do that, we have felt that this is a loss to those who are as passionate about the cause as him but want to help the cause in forms other than staging protests and fasting. Prof Agarwal speaks at Think 2012  in Goa next month. This made us go back and look at what we said earlier and bring it back. Oh, ad we look forward to hear him speak at the fest.

Bhagirathi river near Gangotri

Bhagirati river near Gangotri


Take a good look at the following qualifications:

  • An engineering graduate of IIT Roorkee
  • Ph.D from University of California, Berkeley
  • Design Engineer, Central Designs Directorate, Irrigation Department, U.P.
  • Professor & Head, Civil (and Environmental) Engg. Department IIT, Kanpur,
  • Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi
  • Director, Envirotech Instrument (P) Ltd, New Delhi

How much time and resources are required to raise such an accomplished
professional? And if any nation does have professionals with such an extensive
experience then should it be wasting them away by not paying attention to their
findings and instead going ahead with its own “Group of Ministers” decisions?
Something is seriously going wrong here.

I would like to believe that the wrong is on both the sides- the Professor who
decides to go on a fast unto death for saving the river by demanding that the
government stops the construction of dams (planned very close to the glacial
origin of Bhagirathi river) and the Government which repeatedly fails to pay
attention to the ground situation.

As a professional, I am deeply concerned when Prof. G.D. Agrawal adopts fast
unto death as a means to save Ganga from the imminent environmental hazards of
these large dams. As much as I realize that it is his free will to adopt any
means that he deems necessary and appropriate, I beg to differ from his chosen
path. It is with great respect and admiration for him as an individual that I
find this path to be inappropriate. He has tools much greater in strength than
this. I would argue that there is an even better means which perhaps he has not
considered. With his intellect and extensive experience he could raise a cadre
of highly skilled young and motivated individuals and to mentor them for as long
as life allows him to! This, in a time when professional ethics and concern for
larger good of the society is waning in India’s colleges is much needed. No more
does a kid in our colleges gets to know of and work on a real world problem.
There is a sure crisis of leadership and mentors today!


On Prof. Agarwal’s new avatar: http://thinkworks.in/after-i-die-others-will-work-for-the-cause/


Of public libraries and nostalgia

Of public libraries and nostalgia by Rohit Dhankar

Image: A glimpse of another small town Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh, 2 hours drive from Bangalore.

This post is about those small, sparsely stocked libraries in those nondescript towns and villages, where they happen to be the only source of imagination and glimpse of worlds of literature, language, stories, information and anything under the sun for the children. The author talks about his experience. Oh and he grew up to be a pioneer in education philosophy and founder of an interesting movement in rural education. Read it and perhaps if you have any connection with rural India, you would inevitably construct a narrative of your own while reading. 

Read: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/putting-scholarship-first/1005574/0

NH4 Again

I have been taking the NH4  between Bangalore- Mumbai so often that now any talk on this highway anywhere must have me in it. A little more confidently, I feel I  should be invited as one of the most frequented traveller ( other than the bus drivers- conductors and truckers) :D . I have seen it on my Lakshmi (Bajaj Discover 150 cc), on those big buses they call ‘Volvos’ of almost all the companies that ply this route… Neeta, KSRTC, National, VRL, Kadamba. By now, I feel there sure is a karmic connection with this road.

Traveling usually makes one think, reflect, retrospect, contemplate and just drift.  Along with looking within, one also looks ‘without’ - observes, listens, interacts. It helps unravel, explore and know thyself. NH4 has been a cradle where I have discovered certain aspects about myself. This road in the past helped me peak into the diversity of India. Now it’s the cradle, where from I look within.

This road has seen all the colours that make me. It has seen me ecstatic, it has seen me quiet and peaceful, and it has also seen me in my lows. Through all of it, it has been a reliable and silent companion. It is easy to get ‘carried away’ and yet reach where you have to!

When I think of NH4, over the trips I have some vivid memories of places and scenes which make my picture of this lovely highway.  Here goes some of those experiences.

Name boards on Shops:

 I love reading name boards on shops as I cruise through a town. It gives a quick idea of demographics of a locality, a rote one at that. I can’t read Kannada, so when in Karnataka all I get to read are English name boards. One name board that really intrigued me is ‘New Manjunath Wines’. Nothing special about this name board, we also have Lakshmi wines to Ganesh wines… many more wine shops named after gods and goddesses. But this one which I spotted around Tumkur area was the time I finally could articulate why I was intrigued about wine shop names. It felt as if people are trying to tone down ill effects of drinking or legitimize drinking by naming the shop after the gods (Manjunath is another name for Shiva).

Kids getting back home from School:

If you ride this highway through the day, you’d spot school children on the highway at least once. Some places schools windup by 1:00pm some places it does after 4:00pm. But if you are on the road post noon, you will spot kids in uniform. I so love seeing these kids on their cycles with their friends on  carriers or the front bars, some of them walking with their younger sibling, some just stroll in their own dream world. These kids reminds me of my childhood days where I used to go to school on my BSA-SLR with my sister on the carrier and two ‘lunch bags’ (Lunch bags are a very Tamil thing, not so much Indian. Kids take their water bottle and lunch box in a separate basket like bag, that we used to call it lunch bag)  on the handle bar.


Windfarms in Chitradurga

Chitradurga, city of forts 

I have never entered this town, but when you are o NH4, there is   huge welcome board saying “Welcome to city of Forts”. I have always taken this welcome seriously and felt bad to not have honored that invitation. But as one crosses over this welcome board on the road that diverges into the city, few kilometers further from the main city, one sees hills filled with windmills for quite some distance. Every time I cross these windmill farms in the distance, I think it’s high time we change Chitradurga’s tag line from ‘City of Fort’ to ‘City of windmills’.

Kamat Upchar at Sira

Karnataka highways are dotted with Kamats all over. A trustable, good quality food chain. I love the Kamat at Sira because it has hot Vadas at anytime in the day. Most importantly their toilets are clean. And there is this old man who sells tender coconut, who has this pleasant face. I buy his tender coconut just to have a chat with him.

A small shack before Satara

When I was riding on Lakshmi from Mumbai to Bangalore, after crossing the exhaustive traffic of Pune, I stopped near a small shop to break, wash my face and ride further. I met Sunil, who was running his father shop. It was his summer holidays. He was smart kid, but a quiet one. Nothing special or remarkable about meeting Sunil, but it came across a contrast to what most urban kids do in their summer vacations. Not that Sunil was working too hard or not having fun. It was just the difference in experiences of children. This set me thinking how this will shape Sunil and how different will it be from children of his age group in urban areas. Every time I cross the ghat section between Satara and Pune, I think of Sunil.

 There are many more small instances, experiences, moving interactions, I will share more of it as and when it flows.

 

ransomcenter:

O. Henry’s illustrated comic verses for his daughter, Margaret, not dated.

To celebrate the 150th birthday anniversary of American writer William Sidney Porter—better known by his pen name of O. Henry—Cultural Compass has compiled a slideshow of images from the O. Henry manuscript collection. The Ransom Center holds two boxes of materials that include letters and manuscripts.