Archive for October, 2009


The Day the Earth Shook

Earthquake shocks are a recurring phenomenon in Kutch history… Following the great earthquake of 1819, the western portion of the Rann, which had been drying up around the Kori… sank twelve feet or more… But another violent earth tremor, of the magnitude of that which damaged Anjar so severely in July 1956, might at any time alter the terrain of the Rann once more. ” – The Black Hills: Kutch in History and Legend, Rushbrook Williams, 1958.

My recollection of earthquakes was adventurously romantic, seen through the eyes of a young lad. Of Delhi in the early sixties, being dragged out of the house, dumped on the road, snuggling up under a huge blanket (shared by the dogs with attempts to kick the sister out), secretly waiting for some silly building to collapse… that was what earthquakes were made off!

Thirty-eight years later, on January 25, 2001, Delhi was long forgotten. I was camping out in the countryside near Bhuj, conducting a conservation education camp for the Gujarat Nature Conservation Society.

We, of course, had no clue that early next morning Kutch would be turned on its head. Nothing could have been further from our minds than an earthquake. We even dismissed the ‘abnormal’ behaviour of animals around the campsite as inconsequential. It started after midnight with the howling and yelping of jackals. This continued for a few hours and it seemed as if the pack had gone berserk, running all over the place. We presumed they were reacting to the presence of a leopard reported in the area.

Much later, I woke to the sound of growling and weird gnashing. I came out of the tent to keep the fire going, and as if on cue, the partridges started their chorus, soon joined by the Red-wattled Lapwings from the nearby water body. Then the Green Bee-eaters nesting in a tree took to the air. It was bizarre, amazing and a bit unnerving! I had never experienced anything like this in my life.

Like most other people, I had heard about abnormal animal behaviour just before earthquakes, but I never thought that the ruckus being made was a warning!

However, on the morning of January 26, 2001 it took just 1 minute and 15 seconds, for me to realize that there are no romantic visions as far as killer earthquakes are concerned.

Continue reading ‘The Day the Earth Shook’


Professional or non-professional?

Brian Joyce of Australia’s Freewheels Theatre, once gave the following at the beginning of an article on ‘Professionalism’ and wrote that the “slapstick definition seemed to be as lucid as some of the responses (he) received….asking for some opinions from colleagues and acquaintances.”

Mowldie: (Insulting the others) Amateurs!

Quince: Yes. Amateurs. From the Latin. Ama; Love. Teur; For the of.

Snout: Love for the of?

Quince: For the love of! Yes amateurs! And you sir, a professional. Ha!

Mowldie: Yes Professional. (Explaining) Pro; For, Fesh;……fesh. On; State of.  Al; Cohol. Professional. One who drinks like a fish! (Exits and collapses)

from “The Popular Mechanicals” by Taylor, Robinson and Shakespeare.

I happened to be at a shindig the other day. Educationists, artists, teachers, HOD’s, industrialists and other important figures adorned the gathering. One particular debate revolved around professionalism. The discussion immediately reminded me of Brian’s introduction to his article written nearly 14 years ago.

It is unfortunate that in India a hierarchy still exists in the ladder of categorising what a professional is? A major emphasis is laid on the ‘white collar’ executive cadre and the mainstream established Doctor/Lawyer/Manager/Engineer/BPO career.

Continue reading ‘Professional or non-professional?’

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October 2009
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