Sunday, 28 July 2013

Esperanto: Language of hopefuls

Esperanto hopes to eliminate communication barriers

Republished from The Kathmandu Post

On the way to Lao Cai from Kunming, I met an interesting couple. The man was 93 years old and his spouse was in her late eighties. As we stopped mid-way for lunch, he joined our table and initiated a conversation. Sensing that we were not proficient in handling food with chopsticks, he taught us the basics of using them. In return, he learnt a few Nepali words. He then revealed his age and said that his enthusiasm to learn had bounced back since he started learning Esperanto a year ago.

Esperanto is a universal language developed by Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof. Seeing the differences created by languages, Zamenhof set out to create a common language that would bring peace and harmony among different ethnic groups. It is, by far, the most successful of a hundred or so conlangs (constructed languages) invented in the nineteenth century. 

Close-knit community
In Hanoi, three young girls, Nubo, Revo and Cxielo, welcomed us. Their names in Esperanto mean cloud, dream and sky respectively. They took care of all our necessities. They were deputed and instructed by the organisers to ensure that we didn’t face any difficulty during our sojourn. At Wuhan in China, Esperantists travelled more than two hours to welcome our group from Nepal. They offered us a feast, exchanged experiences, took us around the city and treated us to a sumptuous dinner. Esperantists around the world belong to a single family and are ready to help, guide and host fellow Esperantists.  

Easiest to learn
During our journey from Lao Cai to Hanoi, I asked many Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Koreans and Mongolians why they learnt Esperanto. The answer was that they found it easier to learn Esperanto than English.

Esperanto is considered the easiest language in the world. Because of its simple grammar and recognisable vocabulary, Esperanto is much easier than other languages. A study by the Institute of Cybernetic Pedagogy in Paderborn, Germany tested how long it took people who spoke French as their first language to learn different languages up to the same level. According to the research, German was the hardest, taking 2,000 hours of study, English required an average of 1,500 hours of study and Italian took 1,000 hours, even though it is similar to French. However, Esperanto learners only needed 150 hours, a tenth of the time required for English. Learning Esperanto helps learn other languages much faster too as learning a second foreign language is easier than the first.

I was amazed to see so many youngsters learning and speaking Esperanto in China and Vietnam. I met many Japanese and Korean Esperantists and the only answer that I got from them was that they loved Dr Zamenhof’s idea to create a common language throughout the world. They liked to travel and wanted to make friends across the world.

Esperantists also arrange a plethora of events throughout the year, making it easier for other Esperantists to travel by participating in such events. Some of the most popular events are the Universala Kongreso, Internacxia Junulara Kongreso and national and regional congresses. Both the Universala Kongreso and Junulara Kongreso are organised in a different country every year. Besides, smaller events take place all year round in different countries.

The Pasporta Servo comprises a list of more than 1,300 hosts in nearly 100 countries who will accommodate travellers for free as long as they can speak Esperanto.

Rising amidst doldrums
During its heyday, Esperanto had as many as two million speakers and produced its own rich literature, including more than 15,000 books. Esperanto survived two world wars and the ascent of global English. Today, Esperanto has more speakers than 6,000 other languages spoken around the world. George Soros is one celebrity who speaks Esperanto. 

Volapük, a language created in the nineteenth century by Johann Martin Schleyer, once had 280 clubs around the world and more speakers than Esperanto. However, it could not maintain its momentum as users were not allowed to coin new words. Esperanto provides freedom to the speakers to come up with new words while maintaining the system and enriching the vocabulary.

Esperanto clubs and societies provide space for people who hope to learn, mingle, explore the world and live in harmony. Like the old couple I met in China, Esperantists across the world hope to create a universal language that leads to a global village where all people speak a single language and there are no communication barriers.

Read the original post here.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Confessions of a gym addict

I was a dabbler…
Sometimes serendipity turns into a life-changer. I was a cent per cent bookworm with no traces of liking for sports. The only game I liked was football and I was always offered a defender’s role – the reason being my stubbornness to stop the strikers. I ended up hitting them hard on their insteps, shins and calves – and left no chances to bring them down. After few matches even the defender’s role became coveted for me. Everybody was scared of my fouls.

I even tried gymnastics and karate. After few spells of somersaults, my left hand got caught in a stool and I was banned to attend gymnastics classes. Same happened with karate. I was self-teaching karate with a handbook published by Indian Book House. I punched on everything, be it a rice bag, a wall that came into my sight, or a mound of sand. As my parents noticed the knuckles, the handbook and self-learning both had to be stalled.

While my friends were doing the pull-ups and push-ups, and pumping the dumbbells, I used to sit in a corner and read books – the Famous Five, Secret Seven, and the Hardy Boys series. It was a complete no-no to sports for me.

This is how I ended up in gym
Then I landed up in India for my Bachelors. One day doing the chin-ups, I fell down and hit my head hard on the cemented floor. Suddenly, the lights went off and it was a complete darkness for me. I experienced what it feels like while dying. I opened my eyes as my friends from the dormitory sprinkled water over my face.

It resulted into a deep cut on my head. They took me to the college dispensary and after first aid I was again on my toes – live and kicking. I was recommended to go for a CT scan. I was reluctant – I didn’t want my parents to know how it happened. So I avoided it in spite of fears of having blood clots in my brain.

The fear amplified as I discovered that the whole world seemed to revolve as and when I knelt to pick anything lying on the floor. I had no options – I took to gym with the faint hope that I will cure myself of this malady. I started pumping iron, eating boiled eggs, drinking packets of milk, slurping down glasses of banana shake, and sleeping like the dead.

…And I started loving gym
As the days passed, I could feel the difference. Earlier the whole hall seemed to hover over me as I lifted heavy weights while doing decline bench press. Slowly the hovering turned to light shaking and after few months it was normal. Nothing hovered or shook when I knelt. I thought – the exercise helped set the brain in the skull which had to bear a huge shock during the fall.

Then I noticed another difference. My biceps bulged and I could notice the triceps while brushing every morning. My chest inflated and I could feel the power in my hands. Then after few months I could feel the set of abs appearing on my once flat stomach. It was a huge achievement for me.      

The desire for more muscles controlled my desire to consume limitless alcohol with my buddies. As the six packs started showing, I got more and more addicted to gymming.

Then I got stuck to gymming
Then came the Eureka moment – I found the reason to stick to gymming. It’s an interesting anecdote.

I was in the third year of my Bachelors of Engineering and ragging was rampant in the campus. However, I had never ragged a junior.

One day we were returning to our hostel for lunch. It was 1 pm and the sun was shining to its might. The distance between the lecture hall and hostel was almost 15 minutes’ walk. As we were passing by the college gymnasium, we saw a group of first year students walking in a straight line. Some senior students might have told them to do so – they had formed a chain and each was holding the former’s shoulder.

I was annoyed with the teacher who had made us wait for 20 minutes more than the actual period. Going to hostel and coming back to lecture hall needed at least half an hour. We barely had 10 minutes to gulp the lunch. Seeing the first year guys, one of my friends asked me to give some extra work to them. In the fit of anger, I kicked a wild fruit and asked a guy to fetch it. He ran in the hot sand to fetch the fruit and was literally crying when he brought it to us. Then again one of my friends kicked it and asked another first year student to bring it back to us. I felt bad about it but some of my friends were laughing and enjoying.

In the evening, as usual, I returned from college and went to gym. I wasn’t feeling like pumping iron that day. My sixth sense hinted that something bad was coming my way. And it happened. As I returned from the gym, a white piece of paper was gummed to my door and it read, “Report to the Proctor at 6.00 PM”.

I was in a panic. I ran to my friends without even opening the doors. My friends knew the consequences – it had two meaning – either some disciplinary action would be taken against me or in the worst case scenario, I was going to be rusticated. My friend Atul Dev Saraf also had same sort of notice glued to his doors. He too was worried. Now we were two, so our problems halved. He was consoling me and I was sympathising him.

We made a deal – I would report first and he would follow me. With heavy hearts we headed for the staff quarters. Atul waited on the way and I reached the Proctor’s residence on stated time. With thumping heart I pushed the door-bell. To my surprise, the guy opening the door was my partner in the gym. To my good luck the Proctor was on his way to home and my friend was his son.

I narrated the story to him. As we were chatting in the drawing room, the Proctor arrived. I introduced myself and explained why I was there. He then asked me to sit down and told why I was summoned. Two first year students had lodged a complaint with the anti-ragging squad and they had identified Atul and me from the student profiles. It was obvious – they knew we were third year students of Chemical Engineering and my face was the most recognisable being a Mongoloid.

My friend came to my rescue. He told about our partnership in the gym and praised my calm attitude. The Proctor also recognised me – he had taught Physics in the first year and I was one of the good guys. This connection saved me. I told the truth – it was not a ragging as such. I was spared with an admonition. There should be no complaints against me in the coming days. I sighed with relief and thanked my dear friend and my favourite gym. They had rescued me from being suspended. Atul too followed my footsteps and he too was spared.

After this incident I became a loyal follower of gymming.

Once a gymmer always a gymmer
These days, like my friends, I too have lots of responsibilities – home, a sweet wife and a cute little daughter. Then there’s my job and my network of friends and relatives. I snatch away that one hour, at least three times a week, and pump the iron.

I made many friends in gyms in India and Nepal. My heartfelt thanks to Amar Deep Singh in Jaipur; Prashant Anand, Ashutosh Jaiswal, Kaiser Wani, Arshur Rahman and Balbir Singh in Delhi; Som Timilsina, Paras Shrestha, Rabindra  Karki and Deependra in Kathmandu; and Keshav Karki in Surkhet for keeping up with me.

It’s once a gymmer always a gymmer.

Do you have it in you?

Follow these sites to start gymming.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

कैदी आस्थाको

आज किन ताल्चा मारेछन् ?
यो च्यानल गेट
किन खोल्दैनन् ?
त्यो भुस्याहा कुकुर
कुरिरहेछ खान प्रसाद ,
अनि कुरिरहेछु म
त्यसको जिब्रोको न्यानो स्पर्श ।

ती साना नानीहरु
आज किन लुकामारी खेल्दैनन् ?
किन आउँदैनन्
पैसा बटुल्न ?
पर्खिबसेकोछु म
तिनीहरुको पवित्र प्रेम
र आशरहित श्रद्धा ।

यो सानो छुचुन्द्रो चाहिं
मसँगै बसेको छ ,
घरिघरि मलाई काउकुती लगाउँदैछ
र प्रफुल्ल भई चारैतिर दगुर्दैछ ,
मख्ख छ आज ऊ
मसँग एक्लै दिन बिताउन पाएकोमा ।

संधै उकुसमुकुस गराउने अबिर
अनुहारै ढाक्ने टीका
अनि मेरा वरिपरि छरिएर,
मलाई मेरै कोठामा पराई भान गराउने
ती पुष्प गुच्छाहरु
आज सबै गायब छन् ।

मलाई पोलिरहने दियोका बत्ती
निसास्सिने गरी
धुँवाको मुस्लो फ्याक्ने
ती धूपका झुप्पा
अनि मेरा कान फुटुञ्जेल
बज्ने घण्टहरु 
आज सबै निश्तब्ध छन् ।

लामबद्ध ओइरिने
मेरा कथित भक्तजनहरु
आज सब सत्याग्रहमा बसेकाछन्
मेरो अमूक दर्शक भई बस्ने बानीबिरुद्ध
आज सब आन्दोलित छन्
अनि मलाई कैदी बनाई आस्थाको
आज नेपाल बन्द गरेकाछन् ।
(१७ अषाढ २०७०, सुर्खेत)
Republished from 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

चिप्लेकिरा र चित्रगुप्त

हे मनुवा !
आफ्ना विजीगिषालाई लगाम दे
निमेष भरमा चन्द्र छुने
ती महत्वाकांक्षालाई तिलाञ्जली दे
कर्म गर
तर फलको आश नगर
सुस्त सुस्त आफ्नो लक्ष्यतर्फ बढ
अनि कदापि पछि नहट
आफ्नो मार्ग पहिल्याई
अनन्ततर्फ लम्कि
चिप्लेकिरा झै हताश नभई
आफ्नो गन्तव्यतर्फ ।

यी मधुर वाणीलाई
पछ्याउँदा पछ्याउँदै
एक जुग बितेछ
अनि चित्रगुप्तको वास्ता नगरी
चट्याङ्ग झै गर्जिनेहरु
चम्किरहेछन् ,
अनन्तता थपिरहेछन्
आफ्ना क्षणभंगुरतामा ।

ती फिरन्तेहरु
नीति संहारकहरु
व्यस्त छन्
लुट्न अस्मिता
न्यायद्वारको चिराबाट
किंकर्तव्यविमुढ भई
चियाउँदैछन् चित्रगुप्त ।

अब त विजीगिषा
जिजीविषामा परिणत भएझै लाग्दछ
अनि अन्तर्मन कहांलिदै
उच्चारण गर्दैछ
फगत गाँस, बास, कपास ।
हारेको छैन अझ विश्वास
सत्यको दिन त पक्कै फिर्लान नि
अनि मिहिनेतका ती डोबहरु
अवश्य देख्लान्
ती अदृश्य न्यायमूर्तिले
निरन्तर अघि बढ्दैछ
यो चिप्लेकिरो ।

(८ जेष्ठ २०७०, सुर्खेत)

Published in