Friday, 29 March 2013

Attending a Maundy Thursday Service at the Holy Trinity Church, Ghaziabad

The backdrop of the overcast sky and the low light conditions seem to have given the image a rather surreal kind of effect. No flashlight was used in this snap.
Once again I had the opportunity of attending church service at the Holy Trinity Church, Ghaziabad, and what better moment than Maundy Thursday! A little  we reached the church, the sky opened up with a downpour.The church bore a new look for me because last time I saw it was before the tiles had been fixed to the outer walls. This beautiful church has never failed to fascinate me, what with its Victorian era architecture, stained glass windows which still retain their originality, and the welcoming and kind nature of the members of the congregation. Mass at the church was a solemn moment and the good Pastor conducted it in a most effective manner. The members of the congregation hung on to each word that he spoke while delivering the sermon!
The belfry retains its original Victorian Era looks although the tiles have added to its beauty!
The good Pastor, Revd. Sushil talked on the occasion of Maundy Thursday about the significance of  Maundy Thursday, the importance of the feet-washing ceremony and the humility associated with it, the significance of the Eucharist, how Christ impressed upon his disciples the need to partake of the Holy Sacrament.
Revd.Sushil conducting the service on Thursday. Note-the interior retains the original Victorian Era architecture which lends the whole a sense of serenity.
It is true that a Church is not made up of just a building, but  also people who are active communicant members of the pastorate. Having a strong and effective leader in the form of a Presbyter and the Bishop are some of the factors that make the church vibrant and living. It seems that soon, the members of the Pastorate of The Holy Trinity Church, Ghaziabad will require a larger building to accommodate a growing congregation!
A view of the stained glass windows seen from outside the church. The outlines are visible even viewed through the various nets and screens!
The Holy Trinity Church, Ghaziabad come under the Diocese of Agra, Church of North India, and the Bishop, The Rt.Revd.Cutting is head.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Bloopers, Novelties and Exotica at the Opulent Mall Ghaziabad

When I  visited the Opulent Mall in Ghaziabad, for a change this week, there was a lot that I found interesting and wanted to photograph. Having forgotten  to take my bulky DSLR camera I had to make do with a mobile phone. The snaps that I took from my mobile phone were however good enough, I hope you would agree too!

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The wordings on the sign above foxed me so! I kept looking for the Women’s trail, but couldn't find it! I guess the trail had run cold because it was one day old! Finally my wife told me that it was the trial room that was being indicated, not a trail room!
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The idea of having the wheeled cart as a platform for display had me thrilled! It seemed to offer a perfect backdrop for the goods displayed. Did it attract a would be customer? Well, I don’t know, but then it sure caught my attention!
The Pastel coloured scarves also called, “Chunnis” in Hindi presented a riot of colours. With Spring round the corner, it was no wonder that all these bright colours would grace many a dainty lady!
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Careful!This is  not a real door, but a picture  inside the display window of a store. The Artful decoration including the bunch of flowers seemed to create the illusion of the door waiting to be opened!
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This rather graphic poster at the entrance of a 5-D projection entertainment hall seemed to promise one heck of an entertainment. Somebody who watched the 15 minute 5-D Movie said that it was a worthwhile experience, and for a meagre Rs.100/- not bad at all!
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On the way out, we were met with yet another interesting blooper which thanked us for “visiting with us” rather than, “visiting us”! But then, we did have a good time at the mall which is located at Chaudhary Mor, Ghaziabad! We were able to get some good clothing items for the approaching Summers!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Can we handle all that Information?

dolly overload
My first computer had a hard-disk with a space of 760 megabytes. There was a c.d.rom drive and something called  a floppy drive.The floppy could store a few megabytes of data. It seemed to be good enough in those days! Today the amount of data that a hard-disk can hold is measured in mind-boggling terabytes. A whopping 1000 gigabytes make up one terabyte! While the computing power of computers has shot up exponentially in the past few years, one wonders if the human mind which has taken millennia to reach its present capacity will be able to take on the computing power of the computers for much longer! It is true that the human mind is more efficient than computers  in the affective and emotional domains, but then who knows, computers might be taught to “think” like human beings? Can we make computers “think?”
Man with overload job
We are living in the information surfeit era where a huge amount of information is being disseminated all over the world, and strangely, because of our limited capacity to filter information, we are probably able to make use of only 10 to 15 % of all the information that we come across in daily life. In an age where we are literally bombarded with bits and pieces of information, most of it useless, we are spending more and more time trying to process information. This in itself leads to serious Psychological problems manifested by irritability, lack of patience, stress, poor self esteem, and a general state of depression and cynicism. An increasing number of cases of road rage, violence in public places, and instances of arguments and verbal duels on the silliest of issues. Life in the 21st. Century is on a fast fuse just moments away from the big bang!
Car trip
Would it be wrong therefore to assume that the human mind can handle only a limited amount of information, and that technology is forcing loads of information far beyond the capacity of the human mind to process? An overloaded machine breaks down, and even an overloaded computer processor breaks down, so then what about the human mind? The human mind differs from the machine in that it requires frequent periods of rest, and in many cases change. That is why employees in the Corporate sector are encouraged to spend quality time with their family, and their out of station annual holiday trips are sponsored by their employers. You just can’t expect that “Dynamic, Go Getter” to maintain his or her edge over a period of time unless you give him or her frequent periods of rest.
Some statistics (published in the Business World edition of 25th. March 2013) of the amount of data bombarding us may be listed as under:
1. 12 Terabytes is the size of tweets in a day.
2.There will be a 23 X increase in the amount of digital data in India from 2012 to 2020   from 127 Exabyte to 2.9 Zettabytes!
3. 90% of the digital data flying around us was generated in the past two years.
4. 0.5% or less of the digital information is analysed in India today!
5. 36% is the size of data that technology can help us analyse today!
Amazing the statistics may sound, it has serious repercussions for us today. What concerns  us is that all this information will surely drive us crazy! It is difficult to come to a conclusion as to the maximum data that a human mind can contain, because data for human beings is not just about data,and statistics,in fact it is also about emotions, social values, ethics, and empathy.In a society where we are wired constantly, we are under a constant pressure to process and filter information that is useful to us! How long can we efficiently buffer this constant bombardment of information? The constant demands on our abilities to process information  might in the end compromise  the affective domain that makes us essentially  human!
Coming back to our wonderful machines today, the processing power of our smartphones far  exceed the computing power of the computers that were used to launch the Apollo missions. What about us? have we kept up with the computing powers of these machines? Sadly, our dependence on machines has us lose our edge. We are not able to concentrate for longer periods of time, we have aversion for writing letters and  we can not  express love and affection for each other and  are afraid to make commitments in human relationships today so much so that we find it difficult to forge lasting relations! All this has led to a steady deterioration in the affective domain. It seems as if we have started thinking like machines,  neglecting  human conventions because emotions might affect our efficiency at work.
overworked worker
There is a noticeable veering away from  the teaching of poetry and classical literature by curriculum framers of languages throughout the world in favour of reading of treatises  non-literary factual,and statistical material  could for the express reason of training students to be efficient information processors.  Education devoid of the teaching of pure arts is like programming students to think like computers.  This will surely affect the minds of  young learners, depriving them of the ability to develop social life skills. The need to think like machines has already started to degrade the social aptitude of our children.  Finally, it seems, information surfeit has begun to take its toll on young minds!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Church of The Epiphany, Civil Lines Gurgaon-Tracing a Long but eventful History

The old Church building in all its resplendent glory
The Church of The Epiphany has a long history going back to the late 19th. century. The architecture, reminiscent  the British architecture of the nineteenth century is distinct and unique. Owing to the constraints of space because of a growing congregation, it was decided to build a new church adjacent to the old one.
The Church was built in the Gurgaon Cantonment as opposed to the village by the Government in 1862. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta in 1866. It was a place of worship for the few British Civil and Military officers stationed in the town of Gurgaon. The Church was maintained by the Government  continuously till 1942 when it was handed over to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Cambridge Mission both in Delhi. The Church in Gurgaon  initially part of the Diocese of Lahore was transferred to the Archdeaconry of Delhi which became the Anglican Diocese of Delhi. The Epiphany Church of Gurgaon became part of the Diocese of Delhi after the formation of Church of North India on November 29, 1970. Although it is an Anglican Church, it has among its members those belonging to the Presbyterian, Methodist and various Baptist Missions.
The Old Church Building decorated for Christmas
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent their first Catechist to Gurgaon in 1873 and soon after the Zenana Mission sent women workers to minister in the Zenanas. The frequency of services in the 1890s. and the early 1900s. was dependent on the fervour of  the Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon. Two ardent church goers were Mr. J.M. Drummond and Dr.Barron, the Civil at that time. The service was usually evensong at any time between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.. On an average 12 persons would attend church. It appears that at that time no collection was taken.
There was Holy Communion whenever a visiting Presbyter turned up. In 1893, Revd. G.A.Lefroy who later on became the Bishop of Lahore used to conduct Mass at the church. His program for the day included celebration of the Communion in the morning. The service was in English and collection was taken. Later in the day there would be Evensong in Urdu.
The names of some of the visiting priests from the Cambridge Mission, Delhi included Rt.Revd.Purton, later Bishop of Calcutta, Cannon S.S.Allnut-St.Stephen’s College, Revd. C.F. Andrews, Professor N.G.Leather, St.Stephen’s college, and Rt. Revd. Bishop Christopher Robinson. The first recorded baptism was that of Cecil Harold Bhattacharjee on June 9, 1893. His parents were Rajindra and Indira Bhattacharjee.
In March 1896, Dr. Barron left Gurgaon and regular Matins and Evensong ceased. They recommenced when King was the Deputy Commissioner briefly and then when Lt.Col. A Elliot joined as DC. in January 1917. Regular services took place till April 1919 when the DC left.  From April 1919 to May 1951 there are only intermittent records of the services conducted in the Church. There is only a single entry in the records about Rev.O.A. Finch who held a dual charge. Rev. W.T.Williams has made a number of notes in the Church records. He came in 1922 as the Principal of the Industrial Training School and also served as Pastor from 1932 to 1945. It also became a trend that the Presbyter of the Church was also the Principal of the Industrial training Institute later renamed as the St.Crispin’s School till 1970. After this the Church and the School began to have different heads. Revd. Moti Lal ( my grandfather) was the Principal of the St.Crispin’s School as well as the Presbyter In Charge of the Epiphany Church from 1960 to 1966.
Church of the Epiphany
The New Church Building
By the early 2000s. the church had become too small to accommodate the growing number of Parishioners so planning for the new church building took place. The far-sightedness of some of the parishioners of the church bore fruit with the consecration of the new Church Building in  on Tuesday, the 6th. of January 2009 on the occasion of Epiphany Day by the Rt.Revd.Bishop Sunil K. Singh. The vision of the elder members of the church thirty to forty years back, coupled by the vision of the Rt. Revd. Bishop Sunil K. Singh (who was the Presbyter In Charge of the Church of the Epiphany) finally came to fruition by the Grace of the Almighty Lord. It was a solemn and emotional moment for the congregation and all those who had worked unstintingly for it. Revd. Suresh Kumar, The then Secretary, Diocese of Delhi, and Mr.V.K. Samuel, the then Treasurer, Diocese of Delhi Graced the occasion. Some of the Pastors who had served in the Church and were present on the occasion were, Revd. Baldev Sandhu, and Revd. Prabhakar Mahlan (presently the Secretary of the Diocese of Delhi). Revd.Sudhir Rumalshah, who had served the church as Deacon was also present. Also present were Presbyters from various Churches of the C.N.I. Diocese of Delhi. Providing a list would be difficult! I remember, particularly Colonel Sen who was an important member of the building committee, but is no more with us.
Colonel Sen and Shirin Sen, Stalwarts of the Church
The day started with the cutting of the ribbon and unveiling of the foundation stone by the Rt. Revd. Bishop Sunil K. Singh. This was followed by a worship service which included the Sanctification of the Altar, and the entire new building. A confirmation service also took place on that day. At the end there was a fellowship dinner for all those who were present. It was a red letter day for the members of the congregation of the Epiphnay Church of Gurgaon who rose to the challenge of building the church and contributed wholeheartedly to the noble cause!

A prayer before the Palm Sunday Procession

The vision for constructing a new Church was seen by the members of the Congregation thirty to forty years ago. This vision was then taken up by the Rt.Revd. Bishop Sunil K.Singh who was the then the Presbyter In Charge of the Church. On 6th. January, 1998, the then Bishop,Rt. Revd. Karam Masih blessed the land on which the new Church Building was to be constructed and thereafter there was no turning back! The successful completion of the new Church building is a testimony to the support of the Diocese of Delhi, the Congregation, which were generous with its contributions, the guidance of our Bishop, who was the then Presbyter In Charge, and the stalwarts of the building committee, Mr. Scott, Col. Datta, Mr.S.S. Hughes Mr. D.D. Lal and Mr.Sunil Massey. (I will always remember Colonel Ranjit Sen who was on the building committee for such a long time. He left us for his heavenly abode at the end of the year 2011.)

A Procession made up of Candidates for Confirmation

Today The Church of The Epiphany has a Parish which is growing. There are more than one hundred and fifty families  and more than seven hundred individuals who form part of the Parish.
The Congregation attending Sunday Mass
Today the Church of the Epiphany Gurgaon has an active parish which participates in different out reach programmes. The Annual Spiritual Convention takes place in the month of August every year. The Annual Garden Fete which takes place in the month of November is an event which everyone looks forward to every year.There are separate services in English and Hindi on Sundays. The parish has produced two priests and one principal who have done the church proud! The Presbyter In Charge is Revd. Sunil Ghazan, and he is doing a wonderful job in looking after the flock of the church whether it be in terms of giving Spiritual guidance or overlooking the multiple programs taking place. He is also conducting Mass at the sister  church at Sohna called The Sadhu Sundersingh Church.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Instant Gratification Syndrome-Consumer Trends in the 21st. century and the Instant Coffee Attitude towards life

Today, more than ever we are living a life based on the need for  instant gratification, an age which is based on the  "instant coffee" approach and is  dictated by consumer trends and market forces! A life based on multitasking is certainly not for those who believe in the bread making approach, nor is it for those who are weak-hearted!  Who, then, is a successful person in today’s  world? Well he is one who conjures instant solutions, and expects the same in others, he, or she is full of restless energy, has a device that can take on any role, be it making calls, browsing the net or even backing up as a camera. Enter the Everyman of the twenty-first century - he is one who serves instant gratification!
So then what we are today is defined by the technology we use. Our consumer trends are dictated by what we are told is good for us. Could it be that “intimations of immortality”  are driving us towards omnipresence or perhaps even omnipotence? A Cover Story Article by Mala Bhargava  titled, “One is Not Enough” in the Business World Magazine dated 10 December 2012 sums it all! Why are we obsessed with  super devices if not for instant gratification? Is the habit of multitasking the result of marketing trends that have popularise devices that can multitask? Are we falling victim to the concept of convergence, whereby everything converges in one device? Is it that we want everything instantly because we have no time and want to do many things at the same time? You could be watching your favorite programme on T.V., drafting a thesis, answering the phone and sipping green tea, all at the same time!
Are we then, defined by the devices we own? Today you have a smart phone that backs up as a handheld computer, you can access word documents, your internet account on the go, and when you are challenged by a colleague about some fact, then you can access the net for information that proves him wrong! All this can be done in a jiffy.While walking to work, you switch on your device to check whether there is an update on you mail. While waiting for the traffic signal to turn green, your send a short message to your friend telling him to meet you.  You see something interesting on the road, pull out your smartphone and take a snap! You are the everyman of the 21st. century,  you multitask: word process, take photographs,  express  opinions on social issues, have many connections on the internet,  and as a  professional, are always connected to your place of work, you are never out of reach, even on a Sunday! As a hobby you churn out articles  and publish them instantly. What used to take a number of handwritten drafts can now be done instantly!
If we are exponents of instant gratification today, it is  because of how technology has rewired our brains. Consumer trends have dictated that we have become the “Right Here, right now” generation today(title of the article appearing in the Hindustan Times business supplement page 21 on 11th. February 2013). But then we are not only beholden to devices that can multitask, we are also obsessed with consumer goods which can deliver instant magic. You have instant fairness solutions that promise a fair skin in no time. Wrinkles, well this cream will remove 95% wrinkles in one week (based on consumer satisfaction surveys)! In an age where the consumer is king, nothing is impossible according to marketing firms that market products with magical properties! Why do we have such magical products? Well it is because today we want instant solutions! We have become so impatient today, that anything that doesn't give us instant gratification is discarded.
Can we then blame Marketing Firms that promise instant solutions or for that effect manufacturers who come up with amazing products that promise fair skins and slim bodies in a matter of days? Are we headed to a situation where we just can’t concentrate on one thing at a time? Are we becoming an impatient generation driven by market trends that offer magical solutions?  Why should I sweat it out on a tread mill, or go cycling when the device being offered on T.V. can help me burn calories and achieve the same results immediately? When you can have immediate results, then why should I slog and sweat? I guess the answers to all these questions may  have something to do with a market driven culture. We are becoming victims of Propaganda Techniques that seem to indoctrinate us towards adopting newer technology and resorting to instant solutions in our personal lives. In an era of the use and throw philosophy, we do not hang on to commodities for a life time.  In an age when mobile phones become obsolete within six months, we have learned to avoid commitments even in personal relationships. The market is apparently driven by our appetite for newer products. Is it driven by our desire for newer relations? I guess this will happen eventually, when live in relations are offered, and one night stands are promised all for a price!
From the Sociological point of view, the age of instant gratification has resulted in young people not wanting to get into long lasting relationships, so you have the trend of short live in relationships, one night stands, multiple partners, and a life bereft of emotions. You enter into a relationship, achieve gratification and then move on to another one! Does this sound disturbing? But then isn't the market selling the very idea of instant gratification? Isn't it all about shortened product cycles?  The trend of instant gratification has an obvious impact of the social fabric of life because the consumer is the fuel that drives market forces.  No one today has the patience to wait for the right time, or the right moment. The bread making attitude is definitely out. You don’t have the time to kneed the dough and wait for it to rise before putting it in the oven to bake! It is surprising how instant relations are promised on different websites today. There are advertisements which offer to connect you to lonely people, advertisements which offer to connect you to girlfriends, and so on. Does it mean that human relations are now dictated the hunger for instant gratification? Are we today looking for relationships with no strings attached? Marriages of convenience, marriages  dictated by    market trends?
That brings me back to the Everyman of the 21st. Century. He or she multitasks, is impatient in life, and wants instant solutions. He expects everyone to be more precise and  well informed. I guess everything does connect, finally!  In an age where fairy tales and magic in story books are frowned upon as figments of imagination, nothing short of fantasy, we are ironically headed towards the very premises of magical solutions. The witches' broomsticks and the wizards’ wands have been replaced by smart phones, while magical potions are available  in the form of fairness creams, hair oil that promise the growth of hair on bald skin, and other products that promise to make you young again! All of this is driven by a hunger for Magic -  hunger that has been whetted by the absence of adventure and the thrill of the unknown, driven by market forces, and the assumption that everything can be had for a price! Impatience, irritability, and surliness are some of the traits of  Everyman today!
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Friday, 8 March 2013

At the building site

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  Down  below,   at   the  new  building  site, a  busy  scene  unfolds!
Two red   tractors  with huge ploughs, chug throatily along, wheels
  Spinning   for  purchase  as  they scrape the soil towards a switch-
  Back,  for  the ramp for future  vehicles to descend!
Teams of donkeys   trailed  by  women plod  along,  carrying loose
Earth    in    panniers    slung   to   their  backs. The  teams  pause
Each   time     they    pass   the   other  in   greetings. One donkey
Tips   his  burden  half  way,  continuing unconcerned! His mistress
Taps him on the haunches, but  he  just snorts!
A  hectic   scene   appears   below,  a   bee-hive   of  activity:  tractors
Chugging,    donkeys     plodding,   boys   tumbling  down   the  slopes,
While  engineers  peer through   range-finders to  correct  alignments.
All  doing  their  things  in the  early  morning sun  as I glance at  them
   Pacing around  while children  sweat over their exam!
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Monday, 4 March 2013

Marine Fossils, Dinosaur’s Poop, and Wood

When my colleague, Mr. Parruck showed me his collection of fossils, I just had to take a few photographs of  them! Here are some examples of well preserved specimens of  arthropods, Mollusks, a fish and some bits of wood  in a fossilized form. The fact that we can see the remains of these creatures in a well preserved form, especially knowing that they existed 425 to 500 million years ago is simply mind boggling! I just couldn't move my eyes away! To think of time encapsulated in these rocks is simply amazing!
The Palaeozoic Trilobites existed 425 to 500 million years ago. An extinct Marine mollusk species , they were common to North America and Europe. They were most probably a bottom feeding species of scavengers and predators.
In the top photograph you can see a giant Marine mollusk species-an Ammonite!
The two rocks are part of the same rock which have been broken apart. On the left hand side you have the specimen of a Mollusk, and Ammonite and its impression on the other part.
The Fossil in the above photograph shows the remains of a number of  Arthropods frozen in time! They are remains of a species call Ammonites.
This  ancient fish swam the waters of a sea  eons ago!
This is yet another fossil of a marine Mollusk, a couple of Ammonites however not in the coiled form which lived about 500 million years ago. Such fossils have surprisingly been found in mountains suggesting that the mountains were once under water! Marine fossils are known to have been discovered in the mountains of China, and even mountains of Nepal.
The photograph above is of Fossilised  Dinosaur Poop! Amazing isn’t it? It has been so well preserved that it seems to retain its shape very well, except, well for its smell!
Fossilized wood often retains its texture, and even its colour. You can clearly see the striations in the samples above! You can even see part of the bark!

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