Day: August 23, 2007

Why is champagne showered during a celebration?

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Why is champagne showered during a celebration?

The wine-producing region of Champagne in northern France is well known for its special white sparkling wine, which, over the centuries, came to be called by the same name. In its early days, it was produced by French monks living in the region of Champagne and the monks considered the wine holy. Around 496 AD, one of the kings of France was converted to Christianity, and his baptism ceremony took place in the Champagne region. During the ceremony, the priests applied Champagne wine on his body. Since then, Champagne, because of its sparkling and bubbly quality, has become synonymous with joy, and people found it refreshing and enjoyable to spray the wine on one another during celebrations of all kinds. Members of the winning team in sports celebrate their victory by pouring champagne on one another.

— V Venkata Rao, Ahmedabad


Why are athletic events held in anti-clockwise direction?

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Why are athletic events held in anti-clockwise direction?

As we know, the Earth rotates in the anti-clockwise direction, and hence, it is much easier to go around a circle in the anti-clockwise direction during sports meets, particularly athletic events. Therefore, all such events are held in the anti-clockwise direction.

— Gautam Barman Roy, N Delhi

Identify your goal and follow instructions

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Identify your goal and follow instructions
13 Aug 2007, 0043 hrs IST,Satsang: SADHGURU JAGGI VASUDEV

Only a part of my mind is under my control, the rest of it is not. Tell me, how to control my mind? Now you’re driving a car, the drive, drive shaft and steering wheel are in the front wheel. So all you have control over are these two wheels, the rest of the car is actually not in your control. Still, they can take the car wherever you want.

When you’re driving, are you aware that there’s an explosion happening in the engine? An internal combustion engine means there’s an explosion happening. The pistons are moving, the crank shaft is moving, then the drive shaft is moving, then the wheels’ axial is moving, the wheels are moving, the other wheel is moving, and so on. You are not aware of all this.

When you’re driving, if you just take the steering wheel in your hands it goes where you want. The whole car goes. The same way, if you just take charge of your steering wheel, and steer it properly, everything else goes with it. If you try to take charge of all parts of the car, you will go crazy. If you try to take charge of all the bits and pieces of this car into your control when you’re driving, if you start thinking in terms of what could be happening with this part, that part, all these different parts of the car, you will go crazy.

So, you don’t have to take your whole mind into your control. You don’t even know how many parts in the car exist. You’re just controlling two wheels, everything else is following it. Similarly with your mind, your spiritual process, you don’t have to take grasp of everything. If you try to take every cell in your body, every atom in your body in one direction, you will go crazy.

When you approach the subjective dimensions of life intellectually, this is what happens, you’re trying to take charge of everything. That is not necessary. Just take the steering wheel in your hands, keep it steady and it will go where you want. It will not go anywhere else. So how much of your mind is in your control is not relevant. The right drop is in your hands, that’s enough, rest of it follows anyway.

If your intention is just reaching a certain destination, go by the instruction; if you also want to create a bigger possibility, then you have to know many things. If you want to manufacture a car, you have to understand many things, know all the parts. Driving a car, and manufacturing a car, they are two very different things. Are you looking for enlightenment or do you want to become a guru?

If you are just looking for enlightenment, you don’t bother about all these things. Just the way your driving instructor taught you how to drive. He may not be educated like you, he may not know anything that you know. Just take his instructions, steadily you get to drive.

Similarly, if you just want to go to a place you call as liberation, enlightenment or freedom, blissfulness, peacefulness; if you want to get there, just take a few driving lessons, that’s all. You don’t worry about all the complexities of creation.

Seven-day Inner Engineering class, Delhi Aug 15-21, Gurgaon Sept 12-18, Noida Oct 3-9. Contact: 9810291461 or 9811309576.

Four Mudras Of Tantra: Live In The Present

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Four Mudras Of Tantra: Live In The Present
15 Aug 2007, 0133 hrs IST,Osho

Tantra talks about four seals, four mudras. To attain to the ultimate, a person passes through four doors; he has to open four locks. Those four locks are called four mudras.

The first mudra is karma mudra. It is the outermost door, the periphery of your being. Karma means action, is the outermost core of your being. What you do is your periphery. You hate or kill somebody, you love or protect somebody.

Action is the outermost part of your being.

The first seal is opened through becoming total in your action. Whatso-ever you do, do totally, and there will arise great joy, not by repeating some mantra, but by doing it totally. If you are angry, be totally angry; and be fully aware of your anger, anger will disappear one day. You have understood it. It can be dropped now. Anything that is understood can be dropped easily.

Only non-understood things go on hanging around you. Remember, Tantra is scientific. It does not say: Repeat a mantra. It says: Become aware in your action.

The second seal is called gyana mudra — a little deeper and more inner than the first — that is somewhat like knowledge. Action is the outermost thing, knowledge is a little deeper. You can watch what i am doing, you cannot watch what i am knowing. Knowing is inner.

Now, start knowing what you really know, and stop believing things which you really don’t know. Somebody asks you “Is there a God?” and you say “Yes, God is”. Do you really know? If you don’t know, please don’t say that you do. Say “I don’t know”. If you are honest and you only say what you know, and you only believe what you know, the second lock will be broken. False knowledge is the enemy of true knowledge. And all beliefs are false knowledge; you simply believe them.

Out of a hundred things you will be unburdened of almost 98. Only a few things will remain that you really know. You will feel great freedom. Your head will not be so heavy. And with that freedom and weightlessness you enter the second mudra. The third mudra is called samaya mudra. Samaya means time. Knowledge has disappeared, you are only in the now; only the purest of time has remained. Watch, meditate over it. In the now-moment, there is no knowledge. Knowledge is always about past. Just this moment, what do you know? Nothing is known.

So samaya mudra is to be in this moment. Ordinarily you think that past, present and future are three divisions of time; that is not the Tantra understanding. Tantra says: Only present is time. Past is not, it has already gone. Future is not, it has not come yet. Only the present is. To be in the present is to be really in time. Otherwise you are either in memory or you are in dreams, both of which are delusions.

So the third seal is broken by being in the now.

The fourth seal is called mahamudra, the great gesture, the innermost, like space. Now, purest space has remained. Action, knowing, time, space — these are the four seals. Space is your innermost core, the hub of the wheel, or the centre of the cyclone. In your innermost emptiness is space, sky. These are the three layers: of time, of knowing, of action. These are the four seals to be broken.

Excerpted from The Tantra Vision Vol 2, courtesy Osho International Foundation.

IGNOU – Retail through distance mode

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Retail through distance mode
20 Aug 2007, 1927 hrs IST,TNN

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in association with the Retailers Association of India (RAI), has recently announced a one-year diploma in retail, through distance mode, from January 2008.

At the launch of the programme, N V Narasimham, director, school of management studies, Ignou, said that the programme would have a strong practical face of management studies, as each student would have to undergo a minimum of six-month internship with a retail organisation to have a first hand experience. The intern would also get a stipend during this period.

According to RAI, the retail sector would provide nearly 2.2 million employment opportunities by 2009. Also, the organised retail’s current demand stands two-lakh at present. Today, India has 12 million retailers, both in organised and unorganised, accounting for over US$ 260-billion industry.

V N Rajasekharan Pillai, vice chancellor, Ignou, said: “The course was designed after a brainstorming session with over 30 experts from IIMs, corporates, open universities and other academic institutions. We would like to make this a dynamic programme, wherein the learners would return and add context to the curriculum, thus helping us upgrade it. This will help achieve a dynamic change in the curriculum and retail practice.”

The vice chancellor also announced, that by January 2009, RAI-Ignou would complete designing the BBA course in retail, and those who complete the diploma would be eligible to study for further two years to get the BBA degree.
B S Nagesh, chairman, RAI and managing director, Shopper’s Stop, said that RAI, apart from Ignou, has a tie-up with 15 other academic institutions of higher learning and aims to modernise the retail sector in the country.

He said: “We can invest in technology, but without proper education, we won’t be able to modernise the sector. As such, 80% of the retailers are still in the unorganised sector. As more students opt for specialised courses, consumers will see modern retailing technology not only in the large organised retail sector, but also with the next door retailer.”

He further added that: “This will not only help educate and employ students, but would also help them to enjoy a better quality of life, instead of getting into some menial job.”

Rabbit’s Discovery Of The Dance Of Life

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Rabbit’s Discovery Of The Dance Of Life
18 Aug 2007, 0020 hrs IST,Janina Gomes/TIMES OF INDIA

The little rabbit stood alone, watching the other rabbits around hop and skip in the forest. They were playing her favourite rabbit game.

Try as she might, each time she attempted to join in, she tripped about awkwardly. When this happened, the other rabbits laughed at her and called her “Grace”. Soon even she forgot her real name. In moments when Grace was alone, she danced around the trees with ease. She was as smooth and graceful as any ballerina. An old owl sat high above her one night, watching her intently.

The moonlight streamed through the treetops like a soft spotlight and he sat and watched as little Grace moved in and out of the moonbeams. Finally he said, “Grace, you are more graceful than any creature I’ve ever seen”.

Grace was startled that someone had been watching her, but listened carefully to the wise owl’s words as he continued. “You have carried this beauty within you all this time, but locked it inside when you tried too hard”. Often we are too intent on proving ourselves and pleasing others. The harder we try the more impossible the task becomes. We begin to lose our identity and all sense of who we really are and what we can do.

Then come the power robbers who through negative talk, remarks and jibes would rather have us believe that we cannot. Some of us may be fortunate to run into those like the old owl, the power enablers and facilitators, who bring back to us a sense of who we really are and what we are really meant to be. They help us see the beauty that is locked away inside, the potential that we all have. Others finally realise that they have two friends who can always be counted on.

The first, themselves, and the second, nature, which never calls us names or whispers behind our backs. We come to a point when we begin to be honest with ourselves. We see the truth that we are all creatures of our times, that imperfections and faults are part of every being’s life tapestry and that all elements are woven into our lives, some frozen in time, others still open to inside work and shaping out. Then in a moment of great discovery we embrace all that is part of ourselves.

Like the rabbit we learn to dance and celebrate our wholeness. We become less obsessed with the scorn that can be heaped on us by others. The negative is drowned by positive images. We realise like the rabbit that nature is our friend. Nature waits patiently. There is no pressure to be anyone else than who we already are. We relearn the dance of life. All the while we have just tried too hard. Grace is not some sophisticated word used only for artists or models on a catwalk.

It is the ability to live life on one’s own terms, the ability to kindle true life in others, the strength and courage to overcome those who would control and manipulate us. Sometimes grace in living comes after repeated failures.

The rabbit Grace picked herself up when she came to a sense of her true self. Many walk through your life, but few leave footprints on your heart. Take long spells of rest in nature. Become like Grace the rabbit who found that she had an identity of her own, so precious, that she had to first discover it by herself. And then when you discover your true identity and your own voice, become a power broker in this world, for gentleness and understanding.

World this week – my perceptions and similar views

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I haven’t had enough time during the last couple of days to complete the newsletter. As usual, an interesting topic is getting ready this time too. Meanwhile, I did manage to read through many topics during my reading time. Surprisingly I found a few among them worthy to pass on here. They were carrying similar messages to what I wrote in the recent special editions of our Team 1 newsletter.

Indian Cricket and state of mind
One such article was a write up by Mr. Shashi Tharoor in the Times of India. Cricket has a big fan following in the sub-continent with almost about 60% of TV viewers watching cricket (the nearest contender in other sports activities is soccer with 15% and Hockey and Tennis in the range of 14% viewership). So no wonder he decided to write something on it.

It was written just after the defeat of India in the ongoing Cricket Series with England. His temptation to see, in Indian cricket, metaphors for larger issues in our national life (secularism and diversity, for instance) is often irresistible. He warns us that this is one to which he has succumbed in the past — even while being conscious that one should always be wary of making too much of anything that transpires on that theatre of the fleeting, the sports field.

Here again, Indian pace bowler Sreesanth is coming into picture. In January, in one of his write up’s Mr. Tharoor wrote about Sreesanth’s reaction to the South African paceman’s attempt to intimidate him — encapsulated, He hopefully argued then, all that is different about the new India: courage, assertiveness, a refusal to be cowed, a willingness to take risks and ultimately the confidence to stand up to the best that the outside world can flung at us — well beyond the cricket field.

He now realises that he spoke too soon. He adds on that he has just spent the better part of five days watching India’s cricketing leaders sell themselves, and the country, short at the Oval. After piling up a lead of 319 in the first innings, Rahul Dravid declined to enforce the follow-on against a demoralised and all-but-beaten England team. Dravid, a man he used to respect, sought to justify this pusillanimous decision by claiming his bowlers were tired.

This, despite the pace bowlers having had a good night’s rest before the end of the England first innings, and having bowled barely 20 overs each in the previous day. He has infor from reliable sources that our bowlers were in fact raring to go: the disgraceful decision was not theirs but was sought to be pinned on them. There is only word for that, and it is not a pretty one.

The logic of the decision, according to its defenders, was simple: one-up in the series, India wanted to eliminate the slightest chance of losing. But there were barely two days left, and a gigantic lead: while nothing is impossible in cricket, a defeat was next to inconceivable. England had their backs to the wall: they had shown no capacity to bat through two days. They would have had to make 500 in record time to set us a target, and then bowl us out in two sessions, to win.

This would have called for such an abject performance by India with both bat and ball, against the run of play in the entire series, as to be improbable: even in a fantasy scenario for England, the best likely outcome for them would have been a draw.

But by batting again, India completely undermined itself. The drooping shoulders of the English team received a perceptible lift: then, when Indian wickets clattered, the formerly demoralised Englishmen were energised. Instead of having to bat through two days to save the Test, their batsmen only needed to survive a bit over one day. The decision also signalled to the opposition that the Indian team leadership did not have enough faith in its own bowlers to bowl the English out a second time, and in its own batsmen to chase a possible 100-run target in the fourth innings.

When you have so little faith in yourself, why should your opponents fear you? Dravid’s decision emboldened his opponents; they played in their second innings like men who had just learned that they did not need to respect their adversaries.

If this self-inflicted belittling was shameful enough, even sadder than all this was the complete lack of the will to win. The Indian captain knew, of course, that not enforcing the follow-on made a draw the most likely outcome, and he didn’t mind. As long as we can win the series 1-0, Dravid and his ilk must have told themselves, what is the need to try to win 2-0? This was exactly the sort of thinking that had abased India in the bad old days, when India routinely played out meaningless draws out of fear of defeat. By being afraid of losing, we helped our opponents not to lose.

The gutlessness of the decision was sought to be defended as one that could only be appreciated on the field of battle. “If I was sitting in an armchair,” Dravid said, “I too might have disagreed with the decision.” (By that logic every actor can reject every theatre critic’s view of his performance.) But many experienced cricketers I spoke to at the time saw it for what it was. Dravid’s own embarrassing innings of 12 off 96 balls, the slowest dozen runs ever made in the history of Test cricket, was emblematic of the problem.

The cricketer Steve James described it as a “pedestrian innings” which “portrayed a man full of fret and fear”. England, he added, “can thank the Indian captain’s timidity”.

When he wrote about what Sreesanth’s attitude betokened, I stressed that it didn’t matter that India lost that Test series, because my point was not about cricket. It was about a state of mind — a state of mind that will also change the Indian state.

What Sreesanth demonstrated in Johannesburg was an attitude that has transformed the younger generation into a breed apart from its parents’. It is the attitude of an India that can hold its nerve and flex its sinews, an India whose self-confidence is rooted in the sober certitude of self-knowledge, an India that says to the future, “come on; I am not afraid of you.”

Dravid demonstrated, haplessly, that the dead hand of the older India still clings on — an India that is afraid to take risks for fear of failure, an India without the courage of self-belief, an India that is all too willing to settle for 1-0 than go for 2-0. This is the India that did a deal with the Kandahar hijackers rather than the India that threw out the intruders of Kargil. We have the capacity to be, in any field of national endeavour, both kinds of country. But I have no doubt that the attitude I saw on the fourth day of the Oval Test is unworthy of what the real India is shaping up to be.

Mr. Tharoor ends up his note with the above feelings.

I take it up from there a little more, with my favorite character on the cricket field – Sreesanth. Although I did stop watching cricket in full because of the excellent performance record of our team, I did watch a few overs during the 3rd Test. I was delighted to see Sreesanth back in action, and he was a completely changed bowler this time around. The Sreesanth Syndrome (of doing all his routine prayers/rituals before he takes his run up or even while doing the running) was not there. He was a man of concentration and focus. Yes, and the results showed too. Eventhough he was unlucky with the wickets, he came out with excellent match figures. Many times, he was coming out with superb and unplayable balls.

This shows determination, dedication and preparation and the hardwork associated with all these three. You can never come out as a winner, if you don’t do any of these. One needs to be continuosly updated and prepared with his own skills and also aware of his own weaknesses and take appropriate remedial measures at the right time. Then only he can utilise the golden opportunity he has or when suddenly he is given a chance. That time, it is only he and his capabilities and the way he handles things matters. Of course, God’s grace and blessings are important all the time to achieve success. I wish we have many gutsy players like him, who has the guts to stand up and walk against opposition players with guts in mind and fury on eyes. Then only we will win. It is just the same way, you throw a stone at a stray dog, if it mourns and runs away, you know it is him at the receiving end, and the same time, if it barks, turn around and come running at you, you know it is your turn.

Cruise tourism set to make waves
Another interesting news item which came across was about the new policy which the Indian Government likely to introduce, which proposes service tax waiver and easier visa norms for cruise travellers (visa on arrival facilities). This is really a great news to bring in more tourists and revenue to the country.

Change your thinking to change your life

Albert Ellis, who recently passed away at 93, was one of the best known and most influential psychotherapists of the post-Freudian era. He could outperform the zaniest of Zen monks with his colourful use of expletive and sing-along ditties involving audiences packed into $10-a-ticket seminars. Like Eastern Masters whacking their lazy or stupid acolytes, Ellis too had a confrontational style: “Neurosis,” he was fond of saying, “is just a high-class word for whining.” Stop moaning, he urged his patients: get off your backside and deal with it.

In the ’fifties, Ellis’s rational emotive method of behaviour therapy challenged the far more ponderous psychoanalytical technique of Sigmund Freud, just as the Zen school of sudden enlightenment defied the older, slower mirror-polishing techniques of meditation. While Freud insisted on excavating childhood experience to go to roots of neurosis, Ellis believed that the key to happiness lay in “forgetting your Godawful past”.

His basic message — everyone has capacity for “crooked thinking” or skewed assumptions that lead to neuroses — is remarkably similar to the psycho-dynamic insights of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. What, for example, Patanjali calls vikalpa, viparya and mithya-jnana, would be equivalent to the destructive semantics of the self that Ellis uncovered with his ‘correct-your-thinking’ approach to mental health.

Following the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus, whom he liked to quote, Ellis believed that in order to change your life, you have to change your thinking. And like Marcus Aurelius, the student of Epictetus, Ellis thought that our suffering is due not so much to the events in our lives, but to the way we interpret them. This echoes one of the great axioms of yoga — manah eva manushyana karana bandha mokshayo — mind alone is responsible for human bondage as well as liberation.

He also taught unconditional self acceptance (USA), which translates into “you always accept you no matter what you do.”

The same courtesy is extended to ‘unconditional other acceptance’, that is, “Nobody is evil, even if they do evil things” and ‘unconditional life acceptance’: “You always accept things, no matter how they are”.

These accord well with the samatvam (same in pain or gain) philosophy of enlightenment of the Bhagwad Gita: Don’t get stuck in the mud of the past, rise above it like a lotus.

House hunters weigh rent and time taken to reach office

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House hunters weigh rent and time taken to reach office
By Robert Ditcham, Staff Reporter/GULF NEWS Published: August 23, 2007, 01:01

Dubai: Faced with the strenuous decision of where in the UAE to call home, most newcomers to the country factor in the rent they can afford and their travel distance to work.

It seems that, for the moment at least, the distances involved in commuting from Dubai to the northern emirates of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain (UAQ) are mostly too lengthy for people’s liking.

Real estate brokers say the main alternatives to Dubai are still Ajman, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, where residents can enjoy lower rents and still be within touching distance of Dubai’s job scene and lifestyle options.

According to second quarter 2007 statistics by UAE-based property services company Asteco, rents for a one-bedroom apartment in Ajman are around the Dh22,000 mark. In RAK, Fujairah and UAQ a similarly sized apartment will set you back around Dh25,000.

Meanwhile, in Dubai, a one-bedroom apartment in Karama and Bur Dubai averages approximately Dh75,000, and in Dubai Marina will cost Dh135,000.

This price difference has put Dubai out of contention for many mid-income families, say property analysts.

“We are seeing a very strong trend of people moving out of Dubai, especially young, middle-income families, because rents are not affordable for them and schooling is cheaper elsewhere,” said Peter Penhall, CEO of property portal

“Ajman has been the most viable alternative because of its short distance to Dubai.”

Roger Wilkinson, managing partner of Northern Emirates Property, a Sharjah-based property leasing and management company, described the residential real estate market in Fujairah and UAQ as “low key” compared to Ajman.

In terms of future rents, Penhall said Dubai will always command a premium because of the advanced state of its real estate sector, its wide array of lifestyle options and the quality of its projects.

However, he said despite rents being substantially lower in the northern emirates, the gap in the quality of apartments is moderate.


Look carefully, you are saving a lot

Based on the assumption that petrol costs are Dh0.14 per km and the distance to Fujairah is 120km (round trip 240km).

Approximate petrol cost of daily round trip commute from Dubai to Fujairah: Dh34

Approximate annual petrol cost of round trip from Dubai to Fujairah: Dh12,380 (assuming that travel on weekends for Dubai-based activities)

Average annual rent of one-bedroom apartment in Karama and Bur Dubai (Dubai): Dh75,000

Average annual rent of one-bedroom apartment in Fujairah: Dh26,000

Overall saving for resident who has moved to Fujairah, but commutes daily to Dubai: Dh36,620