August 28, 2007

Remebering those ol' skool days

How quickly time has passed by. When you were in school you would always want to get out and graduate soon. But now sitting back in college I think, “…Hmm…wish I was in school…”


From the eighth standard I really began enjoying school. Memories rush in as I think about these days. The in thing at that time was Pokémon cards. They would sell like hotcakes. K.C., Ross and I had a group of our own in collecting these cards. The funda behind these cards was to trade it with your friends who were really stupid and get the most out of your trade. Everyday we made it sure to get at least a couple of new cards. Ross was the rich guy…on whose pockets K.C. depended (chillin…). Keaton (K.C.) was just the trader with sweet enticing but not so convincing words. The worst part  was after making a good collection some crazy guy would find the right opportunity in school and flick it away from us. Mainly it happened when the cards were with me. But never give up and you will succeed…From the kids in the lower classes to the 10th standard-ers everyone had a craze for these cards. Then came the rules from the school to which no one gave any heed but took the greatest of the precautions in hiding them. For e.g. my friend once came to know that his class was going to be checked for these cards. Immediately he put his cards into his tiffin box and luckily that day he got saved from the teacher. Phew...the cards were partly mine too.But all that ended in a misery when after continuous flicking of our cards our final collection got lost after Ross realized that his bag was torn on his way back from tuition. Who can forget the 4 musketeers who were always out of the class with a 'science project' bahana. K.C., Ross, Marlon and myself were working on a project for a forthcoming science exhibition. Before making the final one we had to submit to our class teacher a summary and a small model of our project. On submission the comments we received from them were...'kaccha..kaccha'...'very poorly built'. As compared to the other students who had brought in a working model ours was some kind of a tattered toy. Still impressed by our idea, they selected ours for the final day. From that day for a month, we used to bunk at least 4 lectures (chosen carefully) in order that we complete our project.Though it was just 10% work and 89% time was the most fun time we had out there. Also the sports day and other events clubbed together helped us bunk more...hee..hee...As time passed we had to hurry up with the project as the date for submission approached. Though the event insisted on working models, we just stuck some motors here and there....voila...the project's done....imagine if we actually had put on some cool working model, we would have been called 'Newton' or what? Even during the exhibition, Pokémon would never leave us. Till one day, Ross got fired black and blue by a female volunteer from that school for getting these cards. That was the eighth standard.

Ninth standard was a call to captaincy. Appointed along with some of our friends including Marlon, Joel as vice-captain of our respective houses. Our role??...well to mind other people's know the secret pleasure in doing so... Principal had asked us to detain all those who came late for school and bring them to his office. we were so cruel...even a minute late and we would shut the door. During rainy season, anyone coming with colored floaters other than the regular black color were caught. That was our job and we were excellent in it. Our captains were the laziest, at least mine. He would ask me to do almost everything and happily watch along doing nothing. During the sports day, we were supposed to take care of our houses and select proper players out of the whole class who would run out on hearing that there were selections going to be held that day.A lot of bunking, followed by sitting on the grounds doing nothing or sometimes 'illegally' play football with our friends on the ground.Talking about football, that was the first time (as I suppose) we had an inter house football tournament. Though our house landed up coming third (second last!!!), my friend and I got a reward for the best goalkeeper and player respectively. Shocking isn't it? But our honor was a small finger sized trophy which had to be returned in a week's disgusting. Well that was the time I was encouraged to play football and joined the school's football team....Nicknames were a hit during that time and all thanks to Joel. As the rumour goes (its true??!!!), during religion class, Joel was asked to pray. He landed up praying "Give us our daily pears and apples" instead of "Give us our daily bread". So What? That wasn't funny...But from that day onwards we started calling him apple and pear to the extent that the whole class became popular with the nickname and ragged the poor fellow. Best part was that his aunt was our class teacher and out of curiosity joined in sometimes. Taking revenge, he nicknamed me "Krabby" dedicated to 'SpongeBob Squarepants' and Rhys as "Bhakra" of whom we drew crazy pictures. Also Marlon as "Hairy legs" as the reason is so obvious. Eighth standard also witnessed the rise of a cool athlete, Marlon. Eighth and Ninth were also an artistic era. Sketches of Dragon Ball Z was a must on the last page of every book.

Tenth standard was never a that big tension for me in the sense of studies. Had to join classes for the first time. In school our class landed up getting the strictest of all the teacher as our class teacher. She was almost as short as Mustafa(the shortest guy in our class). Yet she didn't allow her stature to take advantage of her but she bullied the whole class. Pramila teacher's (our English teacher) favourite pick was Joel....thanks to his brilliant long English essays(and the aunt influence??) that year, unfortunately they didn't appoint me as the captain of my house realizing that I was bunking a lot?....hahaha...Football was a secondary goal too. Months of intense practice during the summer vacations, practices at school as early as 6:30am....though it lasted only for one hour during the school was fun and kind of a good experience. But during the league I could hardly get a good chance to play...thanks to my brilliant know spectacles aren't allowed. During school days we would report to class only after he first lecture because our book was never complete. The best player in our group was Anukool. He rocked in football and was also a champ in hockey and athletics. Well he was the perfect sports guy in our school and a brainy fellow too. He got 89% in his boards. "Quest que cest?..." "Bonjour"....that's the memories that quickly pass by as I think about the French lecs. Probably she was the sweetest and most nicest prof around. THe coolest prof around was Yadav Sir....the teacher from 'U.P.' I think that he's done a master's in Bihari English and a bachelor's in Mumbai Hindi. "Calendar give you...", "last second boy...", "get you up...".....never before you would have heard such professional English. Well he teaches us Hindi not surprisingly. One incident that happened in our class....a boy one day brought a roll of string and passed it all around the class making a webtrap. Poor Yadav...he walked straight into it and got himself entangled. Yeah not forgetting, he will never leave the class without those "accidental" chalk stokes on his 60's black pants. Another day someone placed an onion on his chair and not forgetting the chewing gum. The picnics too were cool. Got permission from my parents to go for the picnic at Water Kingdom after a gap of two years. Luckily that year I didn't loose my spectacles. Preliminaries came and went still not much improvement on the report card. Going for the board exams for the first day, I reached late. Among our friends, there was this guy who wore the same T-shirt all the 15 days of the exams. Was it a lucky T-shirt or what? Our school was the most happy when the results came. After I don't know how many years, our school got 100% pass percentage. Teachers were so extra day off from work. The farewell party was somewhat an organized flop show...!! After the party we as a group went to bandstand for some quality time of timepass. Lot, lot more to write but I don't think you would continue reading further.....that was the tenth experience always to remember

August 10, 2007

Thought from the scripture: Call to complete dependance

Mark 6: 7 - 9

'And he called unto him the twelve and began to sent them forth by two and two: and gave them power over unclean spirits; and commanded them that they should take nothing for the journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.'

The Lord was giving instructions to the disciples before they take the journey to the ends of the world to preach the gospel. The disciples of Christ were between the age group 16 - 30 years. People in the prime of their lives, full of energy and aspirations....called out by Christ to be witnesses for him....wouldn't that be real challenging...leaving our comfort zone to follow someone who claimed to be God.....can you picture yourself in their shoes?....It would have been the biggest turning point in their lives....and the most difficult one too. The verse does not literally mean 'no scrip,...' it actually should be interpreted as 'take no thought of your scrip.'

'Carry with you no scrip.' What's a scrip? As per the dictionary definition a scrip is a legal certificate of your land or property. The disciples had left behind everything to follow Christ. They were going out on a mission.....who knows when they would return....maybe they'd lose their property and shelter as a price to pay for the call. Whatever, the call that Christ asked them to follow was a costly one indeed. They were poor people as we read that they were just fishermen and some loafers. Christ through this instruction asked them to be pilgrims on this earth. Christ had promised them that he's going to prepare for them mansions in heaven. Indirectly Christ called them to complete dependence on him, to be as pilgrims looking for a heavenly city whose builder and maker was God where neither moth or rust would corrupt.

'Take no thought of bread.' The disciples were normal people like us. Imagine living without food for a day! Your stomach would immediately start grumbling. So did it mean that they were supposed to go around begging for food? Even if they carried food, it would get over in a couple of days. Then what? Christ called to dependence on him even on daily things. It required much faith and to have such great faith needed a lot of grace from God. Christ said when he was being tempted be Satan, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the Word of God."What is the bread that we depend on in our day-to-day lives? Maybe our studies, our profession, our job,....In our Christian pilgrim journey such things can take more priority in our day to lives. That is why Christ told do not take thought for such things, he will provide and will provide us the best.

'Take no thought of the money in your purse'.....did that mean that they were supposed to be broke and beggars? They had left their profession for following would they survive?? money??Here too they were called to dependence on Christ. An illustration could best explain this. A father would never despise his child when he asks' him something needed. On the other hand the child need not bother as to how his father would provide it to him. he just had to believe in him. Would they have sufficient money to carry on the day?....all these would distract them from them from the mission that they had been called to. When riches increase in our daily lives, sorrow will also increase. For a disciple on a mission it would be more justified for him to concentrate on the mission than on the things that make up the mission. a verse to sum it up, "the sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much, but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep."

'Carry no two raiments.' So it would mean that they go around in their 10 days old stinky attire? Here the second raiment means a mask of hypocrisy. It is better to carry one label of yourself than carrying two that just increases the weight. Disciples of to be witnesses for Christ....but they also had a human nature that could show itself out many a times. That's what Jesus told them not to carry along but put on only one raiment that pleases God. Hypocrisy is the biggest weakness in a Christian's life. As time passes by one could start getting weary and tend to fall. Keep it aside and walk a true Christian life was the instruction Christ gave them.

Christ didn't end his instructions there. He encouraged them by telling them two things, 'carry a staff, be shod with sandals'.

The staff is used by a shepherd for guiding his sheep. The staff here represents the word of God. It is the word of God that guides, corrects, encourages...During the mission one could get weary...getting back to his word is the best solution at that time. when things go wrong getting back on your knees and seeking God's help is the best way out. They were going to preach the gospel of peace. If they weren't prepared for the problems and tests, they would be utter failure in their life.That is why Christ tells them that they should be shod with sandals which is the prepartion of the gospel of peace.

We find many practical applications of these in our day to day lives. Lets look back into our life and find where we stand in our pilgrim journey.

August 03, 2007

The Ten Plagues of Egypt : A Scientific Approach.

Have you ever thought as to how exactly did the plagues of Egypt originate? The incident occurred around 4000 - 5000 years ago. Archeology can barely find evidence of the Great Exodus of the Children of Israel. Scientists have now found out means of explaining the 10 plagues of Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea.

The ten plagues of Egypt followed kind of in a continuous sequence each as a consequence of the earlier. Pharaoh had commanded all the male children born to the Jews to be destroyed and cast into the river Nile. This could have resulted into extreme contamination of the river resulting into the death of many fishes too. This could be the reason for the river turning into blood all of a sudden. This incident could have forced the frogs from the river to come out of the river and hence lead to thousands of frogs pestering the Egyptians. The next two plagues could have been to the mysterious death of all the frogs. The plague of the lice and the plague of the swarm of flies would have been responsible for the next two plagues i.e. the sudden death of all the livestock of the Egyptians and the plagues of the grievous boils on the Egyptians. Since insects are an excellent carrier of diseases, it could have resulted in the quick spreading of the disease.These were just one phase of the ten plagues. Six done...four more to go. The Lord then sent heavy hailstones followed by a plague of locust that devoured everything organic on the land and then followed by complete darkness for which some experts do comment that it could have been due to a great sandstorm. Well the tenth plague is one the most baffling one. Only the firstborn of the Egyptians died all at once and not even one Israelite was harmed. One of the possible explanations to this is, the 9 plagues that devoured Egypt earlier could have taken a great toll on the Egyptians. The severe hail and darkness can have serious effect on the mental structure of one's body. Egyptian customs insisted that before a famine or a natural calamity the firstborn should be fed twice his normal diet. The Egyptians didn't have any cleanliness rituals as compared to the Jews. All these could have resulted into the death of the firstborns of the Egyptians.

Then came the crossing of the Red Sea. There are four theories to it.

First: It could have just happened the way it is written in the Bible..i.e. a strong east wind came and separated the Red sea. scientifically proved that such kind of a thing can happen. But the kind of weird thing in this theory is the strong wind...never was such a strong wind seen before.

Second: A possible tsunami could have receded the water making a pathway for the Israelites to pass through. but the weird part of this theory is the exact timing of the tsunamis. They hit the shores as soon as the Israelites crossed the waters....!!!

Third: A possible volcano could have created a temporary pathway for the Israelites to pass through.

Fourth: The English Bibles misinterpret the Sea as the Red Sea....but it is actually the Reed sea...such a sea could be a lake or a shallow river bed making it possible for the Israelites to pass through.

Other questions that arise are, 'why did Pharaoh harden his heart?' , 'How many people actually left Egypt?' , 'Did Pharaoh really release the Israelites or did they flee?'

Egypt was one of the most advanced countries during that times. Pharaoh could have had a number of scholars advising him from time to time about the plagues of Egypt and giving him a scientific explanation to those events. Taht is why he could have hardened his heart.

The number of people that actually left Egypt in the original translations are written as 600 'elphs' (if I am right??). An 'elph' could mean 'a thousand' or 'a clan'. the word could have been misinterpreted as 'a thousand'. Archaeologists states that if there were truly 600 thousand people, there would have been remains left behind in their footsteps. but to date, no such evidence was obtained.

Egypt was constantly under pressure to a strong Mediterranean group that threatened Egypt and warred with Egypt during the times of the plagues. This greatly could have weakened Egypt due to which the Israelites could have possibly escaped.

The 10 plagues of Egypt are one of the most baffling incidents in science. Though science cannot give that convincing explanations to the events but they help us to look at the plagues of Egypt in a different way and well for me, it makes me once again think of God's greatness and omniscience.