Wade Davis, at ROM, on Vanishing cultures

Wade Davis the speaker storyteller mesmerized me at the Edward S. Rogers Memorial Lecture in Anthropology hosted by Royal Ontario Museum yesterday. Wade is one of my favorite researcher, scholar, explorer, and conservationist. The nuggets of his lecture story, paraphrased, are:
Wade’s lecture started much like a previous lecture I had heard. He outlined the forces changing the vibrant polychromatic “ethnosphere”, a term that refers to the sum total of all human knowledge, to a dull monochromatic one. He said over 3000 languages have been lost in the last thirty odd years. This loss of language, he said, is the Canary in the coal mine – a sign of how cultures are being lost forever. He spun facinating stories from his travels with people of various cultures from the Indians in the Andes, Amazon, the Vodoo masters in Haiti, the tribes of Borneo jungle. Some of the nuggets from his stories and speech are:
(1) Culture is not feathers, bells, or wagons, but “a blanket of ethical and moral values that allow us to form the right relation with each her and earth (Pachamama).”
(2) We cannot expect to find answers to all our future problems just based on our last 300 years of industrial human experience. According to Wade, solutions should be inspired by our thousands of years experience as social beings living and sharing.
(3) In many cultures, strength of social realations is a measure of wealth.
(4) Varied cultures of the world are not failed attempts at modernity, but they are answers to unique situations and reflect the inguinity and creativity of human spirit.

The time constraint meant he answerd only one question – how do you manage to get acceptance among all these remote & exotic people?
His answer, find the right conduit to the culture. For example, he notes, in the Amazonian forest botany (fascination of plants) was what got him acceptance. He said food is a strong factor, one that can foster a trustworthy relation. He spoke of an instances from Amazon, when he was offered food by a family of Indians living in a poor sanitation. He said, he ate the food because one can treat dysentry, but one can’t mend the loss of trust by not accepting it.

I got the book, One River, autographed by Wade.


Reading in bed while following F1 online

Ishmael Beah’s “a long way gone,” and Formula 1 are definitely in
different camps, but I am enjoying them together this morning. I am
reading and occasionally turning my head to watch the streaming race
info. on my laptop.
Go Ferrari…go

Weekend with Murali

I had a very enjoyable last day and half with Murali, my high school friend. I have spend most of my time since yesterday evening, from 8 pm, till 12 am today.

Yesterday evening, I drove to his place, although it is walkable, well sought of. It is about 4.3 km on Google map. After getting to the neighborhood, I parked Linuxa on Soraurern Ave, and I walked to Mural’s house. On the way, I passed home gardens with flowers that made the air sweet. The short distance I walked to Murali’s place was very invigorating. Murali, is a great guy, he always has a smile on his face, and just this makes it easy to hang out with him. On Friday night, he also busted out his cooking skills – made some Rajma, Aloo Gopi, and Daba style omlete for dinner.
A late night sumptuous meal accompanied by a Malayalam movie,Rashtram, from Google video helped us get drowsy with sleep. Although, I was awake at 6 am from noise from the shower upstairs, I didnot get up – lay in bed drifting in and out of sleep till 8 am. Then with chai in bed, I continued reading “a long way gone.”


“Still seeking what I sought when but a boy,
New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,
My heart will keep the courage of the quest,
And hope the road’s last turn will be the best”
– Henry Van Dyke


I have transitioned from
using Open Office
to new office

30 minute rule

I have not been happy with my productivity during the last few weeks, so I am restarting my 30 minute approach to work. I noticed sometime ago – can’t recall, it may have been a year ago – that I can work for half hour with our fidgeting or moving from my seat, so I decided that I will time myself to do work in half hour slots and it appears it is working fine.

Thought of the day, on March 14 2007, from Sai Baba

Education that does not inculcate values of caring and sharing is not fit to be called education. In spite of his education and intelligence, a foolish man will not know his true self and a mean-minded person will not give up his wicked qualities. Modern education leads only to argumentation, not to total wisdom. What is the use of acquiring worldly education if it cannot lead you to immortality? Acquire the knowledge that will make you immortal. There are a large number of people who are in much poorer circumstances than you. You must strive to ameliorate their condition as much as you can. When you help others, that itself is your reward. The scriptures declare: Paropakaraya punyaya papaya parapeedanam (you earn merit by helping others and commit sin by hurting them). Hence, always try to be helpful.

Fore the daily thoughts of the day, go here