From little things big things grow


It was in one of the lectures in my college, Asian College of Journalism, that I first heard the song “From little things big things grow” by Australian musician, Paul Kelly; since then it has been stuck in my head.

[

Gather round people let me tell you’re a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiarri
Were opposite men on opposite sides 

Vestey was fat with money and muscle
Beef was his business, broad was his door
Vincent was lean and spoke very little
He had no bank balance, hard dirt was his floor 

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow 

Gurindji were working for nothing but rations
Where once they had gathered the wealth of the land
Daily the pressure got tighter and tighter
Gurindju decided they must make a stand 

They picked up their swags and started off walking
At Wattie Creek they sat themselves down
Now it don’t sound like much but it sure got tongues talking
Back at the homestead and then in the town 

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow 

Vestey man said I’ll double your wages
Seven quid a week you’ll have in your hand
Vincent said uhuh we’re not talking about wages
We’re sitting right here till we get our land
Vestey man roared and Vestey man thundered
You don’t stand the chance of a cinder in snow
Vince said if we fall others are rising 

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow 

Then Vincent Lingiarri boarded an aeroplane
Landed in Sydney, big city of lights
And daily he went round softly speaking his story
To all kinds of men from all walks of life 

And Vincent sat down with big politicians
This affair they told him is a matter of state
Let us sort it out, your people are hungry
Vincent said no thanks, we know how to wait 

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow 

Then Vincent Lingiarri returned in an aeroplane
Back to his country once more to sit down
And he told his people let the stars keep on turning
We have friends in the south, in the cities and towns 

Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting
Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent’s fingers poured a handful of sand 

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow 

That was the story of Vincent Lingairri
But this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege can not move a people
Who know where they stand and stand in the law 

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
]

It is a rare example of simplicity that can inspire a flood of emotions without the reverberating violin strings and the high-pitched opera. Though it talks about a simple man named Vincent Lingiari and his struggle for reclaiming his land, it covers the whole expanse of struggle by the indigenous Australian sect called gurundji to acquire the land which was rightfully theirs.

The lyrics also help us picturise the poor conditions offered to the workers(which included Vincent among others) in the Wave hill cattle station where a man named Vestey reigned as the employer. You realise that you are singing along when it comes to the part where Vincent takes a stand and decides to stop work unless the land is returned. Though the Britishers try to convince the newly born rebel group with their offers for a better living and wages, the group stays with its decision.

What grew as a need for dignity in a labourer’s mind brought the then prime minister of Australia, Gough Witlam to personally meet Vincent and perform the act (which later would be remembered as an important emotional act in history) of pouring the sand, scooped in from the grounds of wave hill, into Vincent’s palm and proclaiming the land as theirs in public.

The strike sustained for 9 years, at the end of which the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 came into existence.

From little things big things grow indeed

Covering (Sleep) Deprivation in ACJ


“But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep” – Robert Frost

It’s a 10 meter dash from the ACJ hostel to the main campus. The sprinters on close observation are seen to be having dark circles below their eyes, puffed up eyelids, unwashed hair and occasionally the same clothes from the previous night. On following their trail, it is further found that they have less than one minute for breakfast and even lesser time to position themselves in the lecture hall. The common lecture seems to be the perfect final abode after a thorough sleepless night. Hadn’t they humbly requested the management to fix the Air Conditioners in the hostel?

Rewinding to the previous night, 10 pm; the time when the dinner is served and the students are ideally expected to return to their respective rooms and engage themselves in good reading or sound sleeping. But what happens within the walls of the ACJ hostel is theatrical! There are live musical performances on one side, while Olympic level sports events (Table Tennis and Shuttle) on the other.  The audience is lulled by the tones of the guitar, the soft rustling of the trees, the occasional croak of the frogs and a perennial background noise of the crickets. As the hours sink deep into the night, the rules on the board get struck one by one.

The next morning brings in surprising stories. There would be few who experienced the wrath of a monstrous lizard, few who had turned hysterical when a gutter frog was thrown at them, few who had the cake smudged all over their face, few who took to washing their clothes for the fun of it, few who were caught red handed by the warden for not adhering to the long-dead rules, few who spent hours dancing to peppy tunes, few who apparated to different worlds and few who simply stayed awake wondering why they were still awake.

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Responses to “When did you sleep last night?”

What was thought as a sever epidemic is now turning out to be a much revered lifestyle in the ACJ campus. No solutions are sought for and No suggestions are invited. This deprivation in sleep has after all seen a remarkable growth in the bonding among the inmates.

One of the host-elites gives her opinion about the trend.

A response given by one of them would conclude as an ode to the above lines, “After all wont we have enough time to sleep in our death beds !”

Donuts expand their rule over taste buds


                 The door swayed open and we were caught by the deliciously sinful smell of dough and sugar.  There were people sincerely taking generous bites of the sugary crust, few others scooping off the pyramid of cream spread on top of the donut, yet others wearing it around their finger and simultaneously sipping frappe with the layers of cream moustaching their lips. What added to the ambience was the hush whispers of couples, giggles of teenagers, the clicking of spoon on the plate and the occasional high pitched “yumm” from kids around.

                The donut house at Egmore boasts of more than a dozen varieties of donuts, with 6 more exclusive ones added to their kitty recently as a part of the Donut Dessert Fest, wherein the donuts as if unsatisfied with an already existing fan base, planned to sign a pact with desserts. So now we have newbies like The Almighty (A donut with a scoop of ice cream), The Berry Bonanza (A combination of sugar dusted donut and fresh cream with cherries and berries), The Donut bowl ( A combination of cinnamon dusted mini donuts with butterscotch ice cream topped with marshmallows, chocolate and butterscotch  sauce), Oreo ice cream sandwich(A fusion of donuts and ice cream made with oreo biscuits) and combination of donut and desserts such as Banana split and Peach Melba.

                The place gets crowded after 5 pm in the evening when the college kids charge in, demanding the donut of their choice. The prices of the donuts range from Rs 60 all the way to Rs 170 while offering other options which include sandwiches and drinks, also at a nominal rate. While the customers rate it as one of the best hangout places in Chennai to get a bite, Donut house has been capturing the attention of the youth by organizing eating competitions around the city. They also seem to have plans to expand their outlets all across Chennai.

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While surrounded by donuts on all four sides, one tends to go back in time trying to track the source which blessed us with this wonderful confectionary. Donuts have a disputed history. While one theory suggests that they were introduced by the Dutch settlers in North America who are famous for their feats in introducing cookies and pies, another theory comes from an American, Hansen Gregory who is said to have given the hole to the donut. Apparently Gregory was dissatisfied with the greasiness of the donuts and is said to have punched its centre with the ship’s tin pepper box. This appealed to the masses and hence the not-so-planned design sustained.

Doughnuts have been troubling the spelling bee participants (Doughnut/donut) and the dieticians alike. While the thoughts of its calory content brings in a little guilt and its Indian look alike – Medu Vadai brings in a little wonder, these are washed away as a tray of warm chocolate oozing donuts are placed before us.

As rightly said by Homer Simpson “Donuts- Is there anything they cannot do?”

How do I define this love?


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When darkness consumed the forest

It lit up and fluttered like a ray of fireflies;

Eyes couldn’t help but wander in unrest

Is it real or a mirage of lies?

 

How long can the wings flap,

How long can I see them shine before they take that curve;

Oh those who loved, please tell me how do I define this love?

 

Like the colors of rainbow painted after the rain

Which misguide a then new-born about the reality of the sky;

It tempts us to erase the possibility of hurt or pain

Sensuously parting its doors to say, “Wont you stop by?”

 

The sky was awash in blue before I could count the layers

So this is the only span of admiration I deserve?

Oh but why, can someone please tell me how to define this love?

 

It’s like the lure of the rafting waters

Which can make a man jump off the cliff

All wet, I search for the molecules; but it no longer matters

As I realize, they were gushing forward, while I had stood stiff

 

I couldn’t have followed the waters even if I wanted to

To jump off the height and swim with a freeze, oh boy I did have the nerve!

Now just tell me this, how do I define this love?

 

Why wouldn’t I let the wood get transformed to coal

I keep taking off the pieces and extinguishing the fire

It took a long night’s thought and interrogation with the soul

To realize that I was killing my own desire

 

I cut the woods anyway

and it burned to coal in the heat of the fire stove

Waited long enough, now let me find out how to define this love.

 

Curiosity shall satisfy !


Curiosity rover lands on Mars.This is a giant step for mankind indeed. But what was a small step then is now 6 Aluminium wheels.

One of the posters in a school exhibition in 2009 displayed a stacked row of houses like a pile of matchboxes and vehicles overriding each other, each violently exhausting the deadly gases, suffocating the babies and graying the leaves. The title read, “Don’t panic. Pack your bags to Mars!” It has been 3 years since then, and now the title seems relevant than ever before. Kudos to the predictive brains !

Before we get consumed with the idea of buying an acre or two and designing our future plots, it becomes necessary to know what Miss Curiosity has been sniffing out  from,well, our future lands!

Curiosity, conceived in NASA’s womb, is a car-size- mobile laboratory. If this in it self isn’t startling enough, it has 4 eyeballs acting as navigation cameras, also robotic arms which can test the chemicals and sense the moisture. What gives it a gothic feel is a position on its forehead from which it can emit beams of laser light, so as to test the composition. Apart from all these features, what makes it even more appealing is the replacement of the clichéd dust laden solar panels with a nuclear generator that converts the heat generated from plutonium to electrical power, and gives curiosity its heartbeat.

Much to the applause, tears and excitement of earthy beings, Curiosity sashayed her way into the Martian atmosphere and gave an elegant landing at the Gale crater, after a 104 million mile journey on August 5 . As she is busy settling down in her new place, which is going to be her home for the coming 98 weeks, scientists back in NASA are busy revising their 10 year work, now ready to be implemented.

The tasks assigned for curiosity are simple. She will have to travel around 12 miles, stamping and crushing the soil samples as she walks and of course analyze them. While analyzing, she must be mainly eyeing for the materials which interact with water. She needs to heat the samples and check for organic compounds, also shoot X rays and laser beams at nearby rocks to check the composition. While all this is being done, she needs to continuously sniff the Martian atmosphere for methane. Oh, and did I miss out the photography sessions?

Though the idea of sending a fellow rover to accompany Curiosity is tempting, the budget constraints imposed by President Obama on Mars missions has paralysed the idea. The budget has been slashed by more than $200 million , which is around 40%. With the manned space programs of NASA transitioning into private enterprise, Curiosity is indeed a compelling venture.

While there would be a moment of sulk, if no traces of carbon or life forms are found, there would sure be no instances of regret. The presence of Curiosity on the land of red planet would give enough scope to find a lot about the history of own planet, if not Mars.