GSB... and their brief history..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Monday, November 30, 2009 4:12 AM 3 comments
GSB stands for Goud Saraswat Brahmin, a Konkani community as one may identify them in India. Names like Kamath, Nayak, Pai, Bhandarker, Bhat, Puranik, Shanbhag, Shenoy, Kini, Acharya, Mallya identify a GSB.

With a broad outlook to life, the GSB's are an enterprising community and have wandered away from their native lands since centuries. The origins trace them to have come from as far away as the Indus valley which sounds strange but historically is true.

A lot can be read on the net about the community and trust me, it does make good reading.

Theories about the original home of Goud Saraswat Brahmin are a legion. That the word Saraswat is derived from Saraswati, name of an ancient river is, however, more or less certain. The river sprang from Himalayas and a number of references to it are found in Rigveda and later Hindu religious literatures like Mahabharata and Smrities.

Several prayers in Rigveda are addressed to the river Saraswati, invoking her grace and beseeching her not to compel the inhabitants who had made the banks of the river their abode to leave her fair banks to migrate to other territories. However, there was a black famine in the region for twelve years due to which the Brahmin families were forced to migrate to other regions like Bengal, Bihar and Southern India. It is believed that the saraswat community which settled in Bengal, then known as Goud, derived the name Goud Saraswat Brahmins.

As per the renowned historian, Shri Bhagwan Das Gidwani, author of the 'Return of the Aryans'. the Saraswati-Sindho river was existent in Sindh. Furthermore, it was also believed that the Saraswat Brahmins originated from the sindh region.

However, only a little number of Sindhis are aware of their Saraswat Brahmin caste. Due to Islamization in Sindh since 712 AD, most of the Saraswat Brahamins (largest population of Sindh back then) and other tribes like the Saindhav Rajpoots and the Jhaatts, adopted the Islamic lifestyle. As a result, till today the modern day Sindhi Hindu community, bears little knowledge of their tribes and caste. However a few surnames like 'Joshi', 'Paathak' and 'Kumar' still exist.

Others over the years have been modified into the Sindhi surnames. The Aamil Sindhi community (surname eg: Advani, Madhvani, Chandrani etc) are mostly from the Saraswat Brahmin clan of Sindh.

Punjabi Saraswat Brahmins are one of the most influential communities in aforementioned areas. 'Mohyal' one of the sub-community within Punjabi Saraswat Brahmins were landlords, Dewans, Shahs, and Kings in Northern areas. Many of Brahmins in NWFP region were "mohyals". The "mohyals" were clans of Brahmins who lived independent of law of the land and were warriors, educators, and law-makers in NWFP. Even, the Pathans clans sought Brahmin knowledge for tribal laws.

Saraswat Brahmins form a great proportion of the Hindus in Kashmir, who are called the Kashmiri Pundits. These Kashmiri Brahmins are thought to be the descendants of the Aryans. However, these people differentiate themselves from the rest of the Saraswat Brahmins in that they identify their deity with the Goddess Saraswati, who has been mentioned in the Vedas as the goddess of learning. However, the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins residing on the western coast of India (primarily in Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka) are thought to have descended from these Kashmiri Brahmins.

Substantial evidence has been set forth by several historians relating that the Kashmiri Brahmins migrated to Goa by the eleventh century AD.

Saraswats believe in the concept of "Panchayatan" - worshipping 5 gods like form of Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Surya and Ganapati. Some GSB Temples still maintain this concept, while others have a single deity instead of five.

"Kuldev" or "kuldaivat" are the deities which a set of families primarily worship. Their temples are built and maintained by these families, also called "Mahajans" (or Kulavis) of their respective temple.

Many Kuldevs/Kuldevatas are situated in Goa. However, during the early Portuguese persecutions, many GSBs and Saraswats fled Goa along with their Kuldevs to nearby regions of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Mumbai and Gujarat. Hence, besides Goa, there are many GSB Temples in Maharashtra on the Konkan side like Malwan, Vengurla, Savantwadi, Kudal, Ratnagiri, Mumbai etc.

The Popular kuldevs of Gouda Saraswats are: Shri Shantadurga, Shri Mahalakshmi, Shri Vijayadurga, Shri Mahalsa Narayani, Shri Aryadurga etc. In the Kuldevta system of the GSB they must have a Pallavi, which is a supporting deity.

My family Kuldevta is Shri Mahalsa Narayani. Our main deity is kept in Goa at Mardol. We try to visit this temple every time we are in India on holiday. All auspicious events like marriage, thread ceremony etc requires a visit to our deity for its blessing.

Mahalasa is considered as the Mohini form of Lord Vishnu and hence she is referred to as "Mahalasa Narayani". The deity, it may particularly be noted, also wears the holy thread, which is its unique feature. This holy thread is only worn by Brahmin men and also the male gods. No other goddess in the Hindu Pantheon wears this kind of thread except goddess Mahalasa and goddess Parvati. Mahalasa is the Kuldevi (family goddess) of many Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Karhade Brahmins, Daivajnas and Bhandaris.

One characteristic trait of the GSB is their love for food. We literally live to eat. The number of recipes we have mastered and taken as konkani food probably cannot be matched by any other community. There are some delicacies which need to be blogged at a later date with the able help of my wife and my mother in law.

Bahrain… the pearl of the arabian gulf.

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, November 28, 2009 12:22 AM 3 comments
Bahrain, the pearl of the arabian gulf as it is known is truly a great place to live and work among all the gulf countries. Having stayed here since last twenty four years and with the same organization tells a lot about the excellent conditions under which we as expatriates work here.

Having arrived here as a young lad of twenty seven, I took to the place like fish to water. My assignment with the electricity and water ministry (now an authority) was for an initial period of two years. I had arrived here from Europe. My last assignment there was with a Japanese electronics company in Canary Islands (Tenerife). The next twenty two years just passed by with my twin sons born and brought up here.

Today my boys are doing their last year engineering in Nagpur, India. They wait at the end of their semesters to come and visit Bahrain even if it for a short duration of ten days. Coincidently, they just arrived yesterday for a two weeks break after their seventh semester. Even today, after close to four years of study in India my boys look forward to visiting Bahrain which for them literally is a second home.

The place, its people and the tranquil surroundings are definitely an attraction to any foreigner working and living here. This definitely requires me to write this blog on the small island nation. Historically, Bahrain though being a very small island has a very rich past.

Bahrain, site of the famous Dilmun (3200 -1600 B.C), the ancient "land of immortality" was a major port of call in the sea trade routes between Mesopotamia and India centuries ago. The island was a natural stopover for trading vessels because of its plentiful supplies of sweet water. Today, the island is still playing host to a multitude of visitors from across the globe but the Bahrain of the 1990s has much more on offer than sweet water supplies.

This ancient island of Dilmun was once an ancestral burial site where it is said immortality could be obtained by those that passed by. The thousands of ancient burial mounds all over the island were a constant reminder of the dead and sometimes at weekends during my early years here we would take on dares with our friends to go out in the early evening to walk amongst those huge intimidating, mounds. Once back in the confines of our home we would recount the weird events with spine-chilling stories of ghosts, strange lights and noises of the unearthly kind to our younger colleagues.

Many theorists and archaeologists have proposed that Dilmun was the true location of the Garden of Eden whilst many others dispute the theory. I like to believe the former. Most probably with a bit of bias towards the love I have towards this wonderful country.

Bahrain's main Island (the Kingdom is made up of 33 islands) is thought to have been torn from the Arabian peninsula around 6000BC. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The islands of Bahrain were home to one of the great trading empires of the ancient world. This was the civilization of Dilmun, founded during the Bronze Age around 3000BC and lasting, in one form or another, for over 2000 years.

Dilmun developed as a centre of trade and commerce because of its location along trade routes linking Mesopotamia (southern Iraq) with the Indus Valley (today's India and Pakistan). Its decline dates from the fall of the Indus Valley civilization in the middle of the second millennium BC. This would of course have stripped Dilmun of its importance as a trading centre between Mesopotamia and India.

Once the decline had set it continued over the following centuries. There is mention of Dilmun as a vassal of Assyria in the 8th century BC and by 600BC, it had been fully incorporated into the Babylonian empire.
Though Dilmun enjoyed considerable power and influence, it is difficult to gauge exactly how much. There is no question that at one time Dilmun controlled a large part of the western Gulf shore, but there is dispute over how far north and inland its influence was felt.

There is virtually no information about what happened between Dilmun's absorption by Babylon and the arrival of Nearchus, a general in the army of Alexander the Great. He established a colony on the island of Falaika off the coast of Kuwait in the late 4th century BC. It is known that he explored the Gulf at least as far south as Bahrain. From the time of Nearchus until the coming of Islam in the 7th century AD, Bahrain was known by its Greek name of Tylos.

The six hundred years from 300B.C. to 300A.D. seem to have been relatively prosperous ones. Writing in the first century A.D, Pliny mentioned that Tylos was famous for its pearls.

In June 1932 oil was discovered in commercial quantities in Bahrain by William Taylor, it was the first discovery of oil on the Arab side of the Gulf and it coincided with the collapse of the world pearl market which had been Bahrain’s main export.

Because Bahrain was the first Gulf state to discover oil, it was also the first to enjoy the benefits that came with the revenues, with a marked improvement in the quality of education and health care.

Bahrain's oil production is minimal. The UAE, produces about 2 million barrels a day while Bahrain's daily production is less than 50,000 barrels. Bahrain does refine a large quantity of Saudi oil which arrives in the country through an undersea pipeline. Because of its limited oil production, the country has developed a more diversified economy than the other Gulf states.

When Lebanon collapsed in the late 1970s, Bahrain made a conscious effort to attract the formerly Beirut-based banks and bankers to Manama and the effort paid off. In the late '80s, Bahrain's financial services sector expanded into offshore banking; though competition in this field has been stiff it has emerged as the Middle East's pre-eminent financial hub and a worldwide hub for Islamic Banking. In the recent past, the government has also begun a drive to attract tourists to the islands.

The highlight of this was winning the competition to host the Formula One Grand Prix on the Island, beating off stiff competition from neighboring countries and enhancing its up market image.

Today, Bahrain is a very modern island nation. It attracts tourists from every nook and corner of the world. Formula one grand prix, a four day event attracts huge crowds each year since its inception. The infrastructure accommodates all these visitors without any burden to the day to day activities.

It goes without saying that a visit to this wonderful place should be on your itinerary in case you pass via the gulf on the way to the west. With a strong expatriate community mainly consisting of fellow Indians, the hospitality rendered by fellow compatriots is worth experiencing and enjoying.

So do visit us and enjoy the true hospitality of this lovely kingdom, its people and their zest for life.

When a believer and non believer falls in love...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Wednesday, November 25, 2009 11:45 PM 2 comments
There are several varieties of mixed unions -- inter-faith marriages, inter-racial marriages, etc. However, what happens when a believer and a non-believer fall in love*?

This is the story of a couple who met, dated for a while, fell in love and got married. The husband is an atheist and the wife is a young Muslim woman. They live in the U.S. Dr. S asked them over to Whitby, Canada, where he lives and practices in his psychotherapy clinic, for a long weekend. They accepted the invitation and went over. The budding marital problems of the love- birds came to light there. She was pregnant and worried. She hoped and prayed that she gave birth to a baby girl.

“Why so?” S asked.

She being a Muslim would like to have her son circumcised in the Muslim tradition while the atheist husband wanted to have none of it. She thought, if she delivered a baby girl, the circumcision issue wouldn’t arise and embitter their life.

Unfortunately for the mother, she gave birth, in due time, to a baby boy and the problem that existed only as a possibility heretofore materialized and became real. She asked S to discuss the matter with the husband and to persuade him for the boy’s circumcision. He reluctantly agreed to do so,.

The husband, rightly or wrongly, equated circumcision to genital mutilation. S sent the husband a twenty-page article highlighting the health benefits of circumcision. The husband responded by sending an article back to him which discussed the rights of the children against genital mutilation.

Sensing that the man was strong-opinionated, S backed off. The husband’s attitude seemed to smack a bit of intellectual “Archie Bunkerism.”

There were seemingly well-intentioned but unpleasant nonetheless, comments and insinuations by some of their friends and family also. The wife’s family was orthodox and unwilling to recognize their marriage from religious point of view. Their views did not mesh with those of the husband in any way with the result that the tension extended beyond their personal life.

In due time, the second son arrived who also remained uncircumcised like his older sibling. It was clear that the couple hadn’t done their preparatory work before tying the knot. In hindsight, they had rushed through the matrimony.

If circumcision were such a big issue for the woman, she should have brought it up for candid discussion before going too deep into her relationship. Likewise, they should have discussed how they would raise their children and into what religion (or without it), before stepping across the threshold.

I didn’t realize that the male circumcision could become such an acrimonious issue because many of the non-Muslims and Non-Jewish males voluntarily opt for circumcision from the health point of view. Many Christians have their children circumcised at a young age (many a time, at birth). I also thought that a non-believer is usually more broadminded than a conventional religious person who is usually tied up in religious dogmatic knots. Unbelief invariably arises from a capability of a person to think analytically, unconventionally and rationally.

When he married the Muslim woman, did he expect that she would start living a life of unbelief like him dropping all cultural values and traditions in the wink of an eye? Probably he did. He may choose to bring up their children in unbelief but in due time when the children are able to make their own decisions, it’s quite possible that they might choose not to follow in his footsteps. They might decide to go for circumcision later on in their adolescence or adult age if they so desired.

The difficult part of parenting is that the parents have to make many decisions (some of which are crucially important) for the children when they are young. Circumcision is one instance. Religious instruction is another.

I had decided not to give any religious instruction to my children in their young age. I would (and did) let them decide for themselves. In spite of my agnosticism, my wife’s traditional hindu life style and my children’s receiving their early education in a mixed school, my children chose to remain traditional hindu of their own volition. It never crossed their mind that they wanted to be something else. They were more comfortable with the traditional background of their parents whether they practiced religion actually in their day to day life or not. If at a later time in their life they chose to discard more of the religious baggage they would.

The marriages in which there is absolutely no compromise and accommodation regarding the individuals’ religious backgrounds, culture and cultural practices, usually end up in bitterness, in fiasco, or remain unduly in enduring and stressful relationships. Church and mosque, mosque and mandar, or mosque and no mosque are seldom symbiotic realities unless the spouses are prepared not to push them hard and test them every now and then.

A loving relationship should rise above these things. They need to come to some reasonable understanding about their children as well.

The wife in question should reconcile herself and probably she has done so already, and accept what her husband desires for their children. In due time, the children will decide for themselves. Circumcision is not such a crucial thing; if the boys wanted it, they could have it later in life.

S described an interesting case of one of his friends. Baidar Bakht, his friend who is an engineer and a writer, is a Muslim from India. His wife, Anita, comes from a Hindu family. Bakht’s daughter asked him one day, “Dad, what religion am I?” Bakht told her, “Look, you have an opportunity to learn about three religions in your life: your father’s religion, Islam, your mother’s religion, Hinduism, and your friends’ religion, Christianity. Why don’t you learn the basics of all three religions and not make a decision yet. When you become old enough then you can choose your own religion. There aren’t very many people who get a chance like that.”

This liberal attitude is quite appropriate if Anita also agrees with it. If the parents have harmony in religious matters, the children’s life becomes that much simpler.

Usually, it is expected that a non-believer is more rational and hence should be more accommodating than the religious partner. A religious person even though he or she may be quite liberal in outlook, generally lives according to the conventional practice of his or her religion. Sometimes it becomes difficult to completely give up a religious or cultural tradition although it might be very nonsensical from a rational viewpoint.

Christmas is one such example. Although it emanated from a pagan tradition, many rationalists also enjoy the festivity even though they may not celebrate it with the same vigor and enthusiasm as the Christians do. Christmas dinner is invariably an occasion to cherish and enjoy.

Sometimes it is the religious person who gives up a religious tradition readily for the sake of his or her spouse to keep their relationship happy and harmonious.

In the end, it should be remembered that a mixed union requires the nourishment of lifelong sacrifices. It is best when both partners are willing to make them. Otherwise, it is better to seek homogeneous relationships in which such issues (circumcision, etc.) do not crop up every now and then and make marriage a venomous and bitter experience for both of them.

*This essay is inspired by a case study of Dr. Khalid Sohail (S). In todays mixed marriages this abodes well as a good read.

Red Wine in moderation… studies now show its good for health

Posted by Tandarin Nike Tuesday, November 24, 2009 12:07 PM 0 comments
Wine is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages on the planet. Its history spans thousands of years and while heavy drinking of any alcoholic beverage rather brings lots of health-related troubles instead of benefits, current research does suggests that a glass of red wine each day may provide you with more than just a little relaxation.

Many studies on the benefits of red wine suggests that moderate amount of red wine (one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men) lowers the risk of heart attack for people in middle age by ~ 30 to 50 percent. It is also suggested that alcohol such as red wine may prevent additional heart attacks if you have already suffered from one.

Other studies also indicate that red wine can raise HDL cholesterol (the Good cholesterol) and prevent LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) from forming. Red wine may help prevent blood clots and reduce the blood vessel damage caused by fat deposits. Indeed, studies showed that people from the Mediterranean region who regularly drank red wine have lower risks of heart disease.

Red wine is a particularly rich source of antioxidants flavonoid phenolics, so many studies to uncover a cause for red wine's effects have focused on its phenolic constituents, particularly resveratrol and the flavonoids. Resveratrol, found in grape skins and seeds, increases HDL cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Flavonoids, on the other hand, exhibit antioxidant properties helping prevent blood clots and plaques formation in arteries.

However, studies also show that excessive alcohol drinking may increase triglycerides (another Bad blood lipid) and result in weight gain due to its empty calories. Other studies also suggest that alcohol consumption is associated with cancer risk. The American Heart Association cautions people NOT to start drinking if they do not already drink alcohol. If you already drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

So while my conclusion does not include a blanket statement telling everyone to drink wine everyday, it may be worth a try if your situation today leaves you at risk for any of the point above.

Identical Twins: Are they really Identical....?

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, November 22, 2009 12:27 AM 0 comments

Just when we thought we knew everything there is to know about identical twins, comes this new revelation. It now seems that identical twins, previously thought to have 100% genetic resemblance, are anything but identical.

A group of researchers in the west recently studied the genetic make up of 19 pairs of identical twins. They found that there are subtle but clear differences between the DNA of these twin pairs. These variations may be due to differences that occur during genetic copying and to mutations.

In most cases, these slight differences have no observable effect in the physical and developmental make up of the twins. In some cases, however, these variations can make a world of difference health-wise.

Doctors are puzzled how one twin can develop a disorder or disease and the other not. They've always attributed these differences to environmental factors.

In the case of our twin boys, Ankush develops body rash quite often while Alok doesn't. Me and my wife have always asked ourselves, where have we gone wrong? Have we somehow neglected one and favored the other? After all we are responsible for a lot of these so-called environmental factors, from food, to beds, to toys and baby products as they grew up.

It's a relief to know that genetics, something beyond our control, plays a role in all of these.

But now, we are at loss. With this new discovery, the term? Identical twins? Has become a misnomer. Monozygotic would be a more appropriate term but who would understand that? The next time somebody asks us whether our boys are identical, how do we respond?

Over the years, human biology experts cannot agree about the mechanisms of monozygotic twinning. Dizygotic twinning is easy enough to figure out because the two embryos come from two eggs which are separately fertilized by sperms. The reasons for multiple egg production have been linked to hormones, maternal age, and well, the number of embryos transferred during an IVF cycle. Monozygotic twinning however is more of a mystery.

Some experts say it’s something to do with genetics, e.g. “it runs in the family”. Others say it’s the environment.

There is also the question whether producing twins is an advantage at all. Some experts believe that at least 12% of natural conceptions can result in twin embryos. However, in most cases, one embryo doesn’t survive so that only about 2% those pregnancies successfully produce twins. The disappearing twin is a common phenomenon. However, there could possibly be even more cases where one twin is lost before it is even detected.

Whatever the findings, this subject definitely interest us. It might soon even help us in answering one of the most common questions we hear: Which side of the family has twins? Yours or his?

Stress at Work...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, November 21, 2009 5:15 AM 0 comments

Here's how we can reduce and manage Job & Workplace related Stress...

When we’re under high levels of stress, rational thinking and decision making go out the window.
Runaway stress overwhelms the mind and body, getting in the way of our ability to accurately “read” a situation, hear what someone else is saying, be aware of our own feelings and needs, and communicate clearly.

In these difficult times, all of us find it harder than ever to cope with challenges on the job. Both the stress we take with us when we go to work and the stress that awaits us on the job are on the rise, and employers, managers and all staff alike feel the added pressure.

While some stress is a normal part of todays life, excessive stress interferes with your productivity and reduces your physical and emotional health, so it’s important to find ways to keep it under control.

Fortunately, there is a lot that you can do to manage and reduce stress at work.

Coping with work stress in today’s uncertain climate.

For employees everywhere, the troubled economy may feel like an emotional roller coaster. "Layoffs" and "budget cuts" have become bywords in the workplace, and the result is increased fear, uncertainty, and higher levels of stress.

Since job and workplace stress grow in times of economic crisis, it’s important to learn new and better ways of coping with the pressure. The ability to manage stress in the workplace can make the difference between success or failure on the job.

Remember, your emotions are contagious, and stress has an impact on the quality of your interactions with others. The better you are at managing your own stress, the more you'll positively affect those around you and the less other people's stress will negatively affect you.

Reducing job stress by taking care of yourself

When stress on the job is interfering with your ability to work, care for yourself, or manage your personal life, it’s time to take action. Start by paying attention to your physical and emotional health.

When your own needs are taken care of, you’re stronger and more resilient to stress. The better you feel, the better equipped you’ll be to manage work stress without becoming overwhelmed.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t require a total lifestyle overhaul. Even small things can lift your mood, increase your energy, and make you feel like you’re back in the driver’s seat. Take things one step at a time, and as you make more positive lifestyle choices, you’ll soon notice a noticeable difference in your stress level, both at home at work.

Make food choices that keep you going and make you feel good

Eating small but frequent meals throughout the day maintains an even level of blood sugar in your body. Low blood sugar makes you feel anxious and irritable. On the other hand, eating too much can make you lethargic.

Get enough sleep

Stress and worry can cause insomnia. But lack of sleep also leaves you vulnerable to stress. When you're sleep deprived, your ability to handle stress is compromised. When you're well-rested, it's much easier to keep your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with job and workplace stress.

Reducing job stress by prioritizing and organizing

When job and workplace stress surrounds you, you can’t ignore it, but there are simple steps you can take to regain control over yourself and the situation. Your growing sense of self-control will also be perceived by others as the strength it is, leading to better relationships at work. Here are some suggestions for reducing job stress by prioritizing and organizing your responsibilities.

Time management tips for reducing job stress

• Create a balanced schedule. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.
• Don’t over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take. If you've got too much on your plate, distinguish between the "shoulds" and the "musts." Drop tasks that aren't truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
• Try to leave earlier in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing to your desk and having time to ease into your day. Don’t add to your stress levels by running late.
• Plan regular breaks. Make sure to take short breaks throughout the day to sit back and clear your mind. Also try to get away from your desk for lunch. Stepping away from work to briefly relax and recharge will help you be more, not less, productive.

Task management tips for reducing job stress

• Prioritize tasks. Make a list of tasks you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result.
• Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
• Delegate responsibility. You don’t have to do it all yourself, whether at home, school, or on the job. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You’ll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.

Reducing workplace stress by improving emotional intelligence

Even if you’re in a job where the environment has grown increasingly stressful, you can retain a large measure of self-control and self-confidence by understanding and practicing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and use your emotions in positive and constructive ways. It's about communicating with others in ways that draw people to you, overcome differences, repair wounded feelings, and defuse tension and stress.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace has four major components:

• Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your emotions and their impact while using gut feelings to guide your decisions.
• Self-management – The ability to control your emotions and behavior and adapt to changing circumstances.
• Social awareness – The ability to sense, understand, and react to other's emotions and feel comfortable socially.
• Relationship management – The ability to inspire, influence, and connect to others and manage conflict.

Reducing stress in the workplace with emotional intelligence

The more emotional intelligence you have, the more stress you can avoid in the workplace. Fortunately, emotional intelligence is not something we’re born with; it’s something we can learn and develop.

The skill set that enables you to acquire these capabilities can be learned but requires the development of emotional and nonverbal ways of communicating that include:

• Learning to recognize your particular stress response and become familiar with sensual cues that can rapidly calm and energize you.
• Staying connected to your internal emotional experience so you can appropriately manage your own emotions. Knowing what you are feeling will not only add to your self confidence and improve your self control but enhance your understanding of others and help you build more satisfying relationships.
• Learning to recognize and effectively use the nonverbal cues that make up 95-98% of your communication process including eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture , gesture and touch. Its not what you say but how you say it that impacts others –for better or worse.
• Developing the capacity to meet challenges with humor. There is no better stress buster than a hardy laugh and nothing reduces stress quicker in the workplace than mutually shared humor. But, if the laugh is at someone else’s expense, you may end up with more rather than less stress.
• Learning to navigate conflict by becoming a good listener and someone who can face conflict fearlessly with the expectation that differences resolved will strengthen the relationship.

Reducing workplace stress by breaking bad habits

As you learn to manage your job stress and improve your work relationships, you’ll have more control over your ability to think clearly and act appropriately. You will be able to break habits that add to your stress at work – and you’ll even be able to change negative ways of thinking about things that only add to your stress.

Eliminate self-defeating behaviors

Many of us make job stress worse with patterns of thought or behavior that keep us from relieving pressure on ourselves. If you can turn around these self-defeating habits, you’ll find employer-imposed stress easier to handle.

• Resist perfectionism. No project, situation, or decision is ever perfect, and you put undue stress on yourself by trying to do everything perfectly. When you set unrealistic goals for yourself or try to do too much, you’re setting yourself up to fall short. Do your best, and you’ll do fine.
• Clean up your act. If you’re always running late, set your clocks and watches fast and give yourself extra time. If your desk is a mess, file and throw away the clutter; just knowing where everything is saves time and cuts stress. Make to-do lists and cross off items as you accomplish them. Plan your day and stick to the schedule — you’ll feel less overwhelmed.
• Flip your negative thinking. If you see the downside of every situation and interaction, you’ll find yourself drained of energy and motivation. Try to think positively about your work, avoid negative-thinking co-workers, and pat yourself on the back about small accomplishments, even if no one else does.

Find Ways to Dispel Stress

• Get time away. If you feel stress building, take a break. Walk away from the situation. Take a stroll around the block.
• Talk it out. Sometimes the best stress-reducer is simply sharing your stress with someone close to you. The act of talking it out – and getting support and empathy from someone else – is often an excellent way of blowing off steam and reducing stress.
• Cultivate allies at work. Just knowing you have one or more co-workers who are willing to assist you in times of stress will reduce your stress level. Just remember to reciprocate and help them when they are in need.
• Find humor in the situation. When you – or the people around you – start taking things too seriously, find a way to break through with laughter. Share a joke or funny story.

What managers or employers can do to reduce stress at work

It's in a manager's best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers must act as positive role models, especially in times of high stress. All of the tips mentioned in this article are twice as important for managers to follow.

If someone that we admire remains calm, it is much easier to remain calm ourselves – and vice versa! There are also organizational changes that managers and employers can make to reduce workplace stress.

Improve communication

Share information with employees to reduce uncertainty about their jobs and futures.
• Clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities.
• Make communication friendly and efficient, not mean-spirited or petty.
Consult your employees
• Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions that affect their jobs.
• Consult employees about scheduling and work rules.
• Be sure the workload is suitable to employees’ abilities and resources; avoid unrealistic deadlines.
• Show that individual workers are valued.
Offer rewards and incentives
• Praise good work performance verbally and institutionally.
• Provide opportunities for career development.
• Promote an “entrepreneurial” work climate that gives employees more control over their work.

Cultivate a friendly social climate

Provide opportunities for social interaction among employees.

• Establish a zero-tolerance policy for harassment.
• Make management actions consistent with organizational values.

By learning how to quickly and reliably relieve stress and stay calm and focused, we will all be able to tackle challenges with a clear head and communicate clearly and powerfully even in tense situations. This in turn will truely help us succeed at work as well as in our day to day life.

Oh thats Cyberlove..

Posted by Tandarin Nike Friday, November 20, 2009 8:01 AM 0 comments
Thanks to the late 20th century technology, Diana and Martin met on a chatline. For months they've talked and sent letters to each other with the help of their computers as they found themselves falling head over heels in love. It was then they decided to meet in the real, not only the virtual, world. It was not easy to arrange as the young man and his lady were separated by 700 very real kilometers, but the date was a success and Diana and Martin have been living together happily ever since. They've created a home page to let the world know how they've found happiness via the Internet and introduce couples who've met under similar circumstances.

Supriya had hoped for a similar romance when she met her love on the internet. They've arranged to meet. The lonely young woman felt she'd finally found the man with whom she can live with in harmony and realize her dreams. Their personalities and interests were so similar and even their goals seemed to match well. She was not disappointed in his physical appearance either - the man was elegantly dressed, and the romantic champagne dinner, dance and the man's compliments and attention toward her during the evening all served to fuel her feelings of happy expectation. What could have been the happiest of nights turned into a nightmare when they got to her apartment. The man she just spent a wonderful evening with turned into Mr. Hyde and brutally raped her and disappeared. She didn't even have the opportunity to report the incident to the police. What could she have said about the man she knew only as StandByMe through electronic contact and who supposedly, just arrived from Las Vegas. More than likely, StandByMe continues to prowl cyberspace looking for new victims probably under a new nickname and, of course, unpunished.

These two stories are merely two samples of the many experiences you may find on different web sites that feature the topic cyberlove.

Throughout history men and women had used a variety of means to find each other. Internet romance according to some is a bizarre method, and others it is a 'natural' for the 90's, to meet potential mates. Reading enough pages of people's experiences one could consider a decent length novel, has formed an interesting picture in me of internet romance.

Romances formed on the internet follow a characteristic script. The development of emotional intimacy is a long process, sometimes taking several months. "Love at first byte" is rare although there are examples (Steven J. Baumrucher wrote a book by that title recounting his own experiences details of which may be read on the net). The initial light exchanges, whether by e-mail or in chat rooms, are generally followed by increasingly self revealing topics, where after a while the two strangers perceive each other as a true friend. Hearts open and an avalanche of e-mail crosses cyberspace carrying literary quality, electric messages are even enhanced with verses, virtual gifts (flowers, kisses, animated pictures). Could any heart with romantic inclinations resist? When you reach for the mouse with sweaty palms and butterflies in the stomach to look in the in-box for new mail - there's just no way to escape the fact - love has arrived.

In more fortunate cases the couple exchanged digitalized photos of themselves through the course of correspondence. This helps to ease the jolt of the initial meeting - which is a critical moment in every cyber love story. It is easy to understand if you realize what hopes and ideals our hero nursed up to that moment. (This reminds me of my colleague who showed up to meet his blind date - through a newspaper ad. He stood on the corner as agreed with a bouquet of roses when the girl approached. Poor Bela could not have slipped away unnoticed, but had a quick escape by saying - 'hello, unfortunately my friend could not come, but he wanted you to have these flowers.) Mr. Romeo must have felt far worse when after corresponding with his e-mail love for the past six months stepped off the plane to find out that she is not really a she, but a transvestite. That was the one minor detail his 'sweetheart' neglected to mention.

Whether in real life or in cyber space, there is real pain and disappointment that accompanies love or what was presumed as love. Many chose anonymity of meeting electronically thinking the distance provides a cushioning from the usual pains of a relationship. This is not true. Those who don't observe the rules of caution can suffer real and long healing scars. If we want to protect ourselves from the possible traps it would be useful to visit the website, where we can find many good advice and useful tips on 'how' and 'how not' to meet or flirt on the net. The web page contains real stories giving an opportunity to learn from the mistake of others and have a better chance to recognize the suspicious characters lurking in cyberspace.

Don't think the only danger to your emotions is the lies your partner may tell. Sometimes it may be what we do to delude ourselves that bring negative consequences. While these internet relationships are real enough the invisibility of the partner must be countered somehow and this results in generous doses of fantasizing for some people. There are those who easily lend themselves to daydreaming and loose their sense of reality. These people are prone to adorn their loved one with characteristics and appearance of a hero from a novel. It is difficult to escape from this dream back into reality unharmed. After the first kiss the prince turns into a frog and the story comes to an unexpected conclusion.

How does a cyber romance vary from a real life romance? Perhaps one significant difference is that communication plays such a large part. Words that convey feelings have enormous effect. While before a real date we fix our hair and our clothes, on the internet we polish our intellect, imagination and personality. In essence the sequence is reversed - first we show our inner beauty and only after it had won victory does the veil fall off the physical vehicle of that personality at the time of that first meeting in person.

It is a popular topic in cyberspace to debate whether or not true love can develop merely on an intellectual level, that is without the physical attraction, the familiarity of the other's appearance? To put it another way: is the physical appearance of the man or woman play a part in the relationship if through the exchange of thoughts and feelings they already fell in love?

Many say it is against the nature of love to be deprived of the sense of sight, the look, the movement, the body language being present. There are those, of course, who favor internet relationships claiming that the intensity of the emotional relationship that develops in such a way is superior to the mere stirring of the flesh.

Whatever the opinion may be on cyberlove - it must be said in favor of the internet that it puts people in touch with people that otherwise would never have met. I never would have suspected that the first person I met by e-mail would be a mangalorean sweep to whom after eight years of correspondence, although not emotional, but a common interest still binds.

There are examples where a real life relationship is damaged because one party gets entangled in a virtual romance that may turn serious. I remember a local newspaper carrying a story of a mother of three, who left her husband and children to live with a man who webbed her heart through cyberspace. Her story is not singular by any means.

It is silly to perceive the net as a demon, when we determine how we meet its challenges. While there are those who can use the net to their advantage extracting useful information, there are those who become addicts losing common sense, hopping from chat room to chat room, writing piles of e-mails full of lies to chosen victims and the virtual reality, the flirtations become a part of their everyday lives as some disease. One thing is true - the net is very addictive. According to the confession of a multiple substance addict, it was easier to give up cocaine than the romantic web chat rooms.

If, despite all we've said, there are those who still chose the internet as the means to find a partner, they can try the numerous chat channels, Java chat rooms, the ICQ, online matchmaking services, correspondence groups or in a variety of mailing lists and newsgroups (alt.romance, alt.soulmates) or place their graphically constructed personal home page on-line through which one may convey to the world any information desired. There are many available choices, one need only live with the opportunity.

In any case - be cautious that you don't end up like Mr. Romeo. Keep your eyes open off-line as well - turn off the machine and go to a dance or a club, because most women still expect to be courted in a real, old fashioned, romantic way.

Household Food Waste... An environmental issue each one of us can help solve.

Posted by Tandarin Nike Thursday, November 19, 2009 10:26 PM 0 comments

Most people have been brought up not to waste food - I guess few of us haven't heard the "eat up, there are children starving in X who would love that food" or "if you don't eat your vegetables, you can't have dessert".

Even with these good intentioned exhortations and threats, food waste continues to be a massive problem. Between agricultural, commercial production and domestic consumption, a criminal amount of food waste occurs. According to a report from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) global losses and wastage may be in the order of 50 percent between field and fork.

In their report, SIWI states that as much as 30 percent of food, worth some US$48.3 billion, is discarded in the USA alone. A similar percentage is wasted in the UK. An estimated 6.7 million tonnes of household food waste is produced each year in the UK, most of which could have been eaten.

This wastes good food, costs us all money and adversely impacts on the environment. The amount of food we throw away is a major contributor to the production of greenhouse gases all over the globe.

But it's not just food we're wasting - it's water. Based on the USA's losses, again according to SIWI, it's the equivalent of wasting 40 trillion liters of water, which is enough water for half a billion people. The energy that goes into creating the food we waste also contributes significantly to carbon dioxide emissions.

To help reduce the amount of food that is thrown away, WRAP and its partners are running a 'Love Food Hate Waste' consumer facing campaign to encourage behavioral change. They work with the UK grocery sector, food industry, Government and organizations such as the Food Standards Agency to develop practical solutions and improved communications to make it easier for consumers to get the most from the food they buy and waste less of it.

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) UK, works with local authorities, business and households to prevent waste, increase recycling and develop markets for recycled and sustainable products. WRAP's aim is to reduce consumer food waste by 250,000 tonnes by March 2011. Research has shown good intentions are often hampered by a range of factors including:

• a lack of planning when food shopping - buying more than is needed;
• poor food storage knowledge;
• a lack of confidence around cooking (especially making meals from the food available in the house, and portion control), and
• Confusion over food date labels (such as the difference between 'use by' and 'best before')

I constantly gross out my family as to what I'll eat. I have no problem with swalling stuff that's past the best before date and so far I've never had a single case of food poisoning.

"Best before" simply means that - the food (according to the manufacturer) tastes best before that date. You do need to exercise a bit of caution of course - smell, sight, taste; but eating something that's a few days past its best by date is highly unlikely to kill you if it's been stored properly. I often wonder if the "best before" date is a ruse from the food industry to have us chucking out more and then buying more.

The "use by" date on the other hand is one you should probably observe more closely. Again, it's not unusual for me to eat items past this date, but I certainly don't do so with milk, meat or dairy products - just too risky.

There are a number of different approaches to reducing food waste - packaging and technology play an important role. Improving or adapting packaging and applying technologies such as:

• increasing the shelf life of products;
• using oxygen scavengers;
• modified atmospheres;
• interactive films, and
• resealable packaging

These are all helpful in maintaining food quality for longer, both in store and at home. The environmental costs of food waste are enormous. It is estimated that 20% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food production, distribution and storage. If we stopped wasting food that could have been eaten we could prevent at least 15 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year.

The majority of these emissions are associated with embedded energy but a significant proportion arises as a result of food waste going to landfill sites. Once in landfill food breakdown produces methane - a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Love Food Hate Waste; This consumer facing campaign aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce the amount of food that we throw away, and how doing this will benefit us all and the environment. The campaign highlights that there are a few quick and easy things that consumers can do to reduce the amount of food thrown away and the website contains:

• useful tips and tools;
• fabulous recipes; and
• Comments from celebrities and food writers.

Along with individuals and retailers, organizations are being encouraged to 'add their voice' to the campaign and partners can find brand guidelines, advertising and promotional materials at the Love Food Hate Waste Partners.

Improper storage too generates massive amounts of food waste. Leaving packets open, refrigerating stuff that doesn't require it and vice versa rapidly speeds up food spoilage. Ensure you have the right tools for the job such as airtight containers etc. It's worth spending a bit of money on proper storage containers as cheap ones simply won't laste the distance, adding more waste to food related issues in your home.

Some food waste is inevitable though (e.g. vegetable peelings) and WRAP is working with consumers, local authorities and others to minimize the amount of food waste that reaches landfill. Home Composting is a fantastic way of recycling food waste such as fruit scraps, vegetable peelings and tea-bags, while making your garden more beautiful. Please don't send these to landfill, compost them or get a worm farm - worms love most kitchen scraps!

Let each one of us do our bit wherever we are in reducing environmental damage. Reducing food waste will definitely help. Aside from the moral, ethical and environmental issues, reducing food & water waste can save you a ton of money each year! In countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK, food waste reduction can put a thousand dollars or more back into your pocket every 12 months!

Marching ants, soldiers or are they disciplined drivers?

Posted by Tandarin Nike 8:26 AM 0 comments
The Panchantantra, Jataka Tales and Aesop’s Fables all admire the industry and orderliness of the lowly ant – and how we can learn from them. More recently, the Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson wrote in admiration about them thus: “They marched in columns several tens of meters long…. Their disciplined legions resembling heavy traffic on an intercity freeway as seen from a low-flying airplane!”

At the recently held annual meeting of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Professor Debashish Chowdhury of IIT Kanpur spoke on his work on non equilibrium statistical mechanics, which was inspired by the way ants move about in groups. His lecture, titled above, is summarized here.

It is this collective movement of ants that interested Professor Chowdhury. He has studied them with the aims of (a) learning the traffic rules they follow as they march from their homes to find food, and return laden with it, and (b) developing models based on the communications and interaction between them.

That is, how in the first place they collectively agree to, and evolve the network of trails: and once a trail is created what traffic rules they follow – outwards from their nests and inwards as they return with food. Clearly there is a moral here on how we humans can conduct ourselves as we move in queues or drive on the roads.

How they make a trail has a ready answer. Leading ants drop a tiny amount of a signal chemical (called a pheromone) as they move forward. Others pick up the signal and follow the trail. The other major question is whether there is a traffic jam in ant traffic on a trail. It appears that unlike us, they are able to avoid a jam even at high densities (or numbers per spot). No congestion of traffic ever occurs!

In any traffic jam, as the density increases, the speed of movement drops, finally to a halt. This is true in our highways, but why not in an ant highway? Chowdhury and his group studied ant movements in a natural trail, and analysed the distribution of speed as a function of crowding.

In any trail, some ants are slow (2 body lengths per second), some faster (6 bl/s) and some extra fast (10 bl/s). But as the number in the traffic increases, the speed distribution becomes narrower – the slow poachers are hurried, the superfast slowed down, and the average speed attains a steady value (4.7 bl/s). In other words, speed control becomes automatic. Ants form platoons, marching in step adjusting their speed at a pace desired for maintaining collective flow sufficiently high.

Chowdhury described an experiment devised by Dussutour and colleagues four years ago (J. Exp. Biol. 208, 2903, 2005), where they created a bottleneck in the ant trail.

The otherwise wide trail was narrowed into a thin lane in the middle. They expected a jam at the bottle neck, between the outbound ants and the one coming back (inbound) to the nest after foraging. What they found was remarkable.

Ants arriving at the entrance of the bottleneck gave way to those coming from the opposite direction, and hence queued up. The queue of the waiting ants became longer in time; at this point, the ants on the opposite side stopped and lined up for the earlier queue to clear. In other words, alternating clusters of inbound and outbound ants crossed the bottleneck!

They then did a second experiment (J. Exp. Biol. 212, 499, 2009), this time with the species of ants that cut leaves and carry them home on their bodies (species called atta colombica). Note here that the foraging ants that carry leaf home are laden with baggage and hence heavier, may be slower, than outbound ones who leave the nest for foraging. What happens when you create a bottleneck in their trail?

Astonishing is the word for the result. Unlike the earlier situation with the black ants (lasius niger) where the right of way was symmetric – once for inbound, next for outbound- with the leaf-cutters, the right of way was asymmetric. The incoming cargo-laden ants always had the right of way. Talk of courtesy and compassion!

In yet another experiment, the question was: what happens in a trail with traffic flowing in both directions and with heavy traffic? The experiment was done with army ants (eciton burchellis; see Couzin and Franks, Proc. Roy. Soc. London B 270, 139, 2003).

As the traffic density increased, it was found that the ants organized themselves into not two, but three lanes. The outbound ants took the outer lanes and the inbound returned in the central lane. Why?

The authors suggest that the outer lane ants protect the food brought home by the inbound returnees, and of course, also minimize collisions.

How do ants do this? Is there a commandant ant that forces the soldiers to march in step at a constant pace? Or do they become self-disciplined as a group of law abiding drivers? Is there a penalty for bad behaviour, for the slow one who stalls traffic or the speedster who can cause accidents?

The answer seems to raise the larger issue of collective behaviour in a society, or sociobiology. The collective good supercedes the individual’s. Each one gives a little so that the community gains – a phenomenon that sociobiologists have termed as reciprocal altruism. We see it not just in insects, but in birds, and even elephants. Darwin wondered about it 150 years ago, and these experiments validate it.

Surgical robots promise to make surgery less painful... but lets put more faith in our own body healing.

Posted by Tandarin Nike Wednesday, November 18, 2009 10:28 PM 0 comments
Surgeons in Australia are excited over new surgical robots they are using to perform surgical operations on patients. These new robots allow surgeons to perform operations with improved precision in a way that reduces post-operative complications and actually requires less staff during the surgical procedure.

Here's how it works: with the help of the surgical robot, surgeons remote control two robotic arms that are inserted into the patient through small incisions. A high-resolution 3-D telescope accompanies the robotic arm so that the surgeon can see what's going on. Seated at a console, the surgeon can then perform complex movements such as making incisions, manipulating tissues, or even suturing tissues.

Surgeons are excited about this because it makes heart surgery more precise, and, in their words, far safer. The result of the surgery is less scarring, less bleeding, and less pain.

It certainly is a good thing when medical technology can provide a way for surgeons to conduct surgeries that have less scarring and require smaller incisions, and I have no doubt these surgical procedures will be extremely helpful in treating trauma, but once again, there is so much of heart surgery done around the world that it is entirely unnecessary and ridiculous to me to talk about the benefits of a 3 million dollar robot when most of these heart patients could avoid surgery in the first place by taking a few hundred dollars worth of nutritional supplements and by changing their dietary practices so that they avoid hydrogenated oils.

If they were to add in a regular dose of cardiovascular exercise along with those other strategies, they could almost universally avoid heart surgery.

So, modern medical technology is great stuff, and anytime the field of robotics can help make surgeries safer, less painful, and less traumatic for patients, then we all stand to benefit. But if smaller incisions are better for patients, then no incisions are better yet.

Avoiding surgery is the best way to have no bleeding, no scarring, and no pain. But once again, avoiding surgery means taking responsibility for your own health outcome. It means preventing disease rather than trying to treat it after the fact. It means fixing yourself through nutrition and physical fitness rather than lying down on a surgeon's table and saying, "Fix me, doctor." Even the most advanced robotic technology in the world cannot force a person to make healthy choices in their life.

My view on all of this is that these medical breakthroughs and robotics technology are certainly good news for those who truly must undergo surgery for one reason or another (such as for injury or trauma), but for most people, the best option is to put your faith in your own body's ability to heal itself rather than putting your faith in robotic technology breakthroughs.

Remember, you already have the most advanced nanotechnology robots in the world coursing through your veins right now, circulating through your entire system. Your body is a nanotechnology miracle that already knows how to cure cancer, repair tissues, reverse atherosclerosis, and fundamentally heal itself from head to toe.

So, if you really want to see some cool robotic technology in action, start eating superfoods and engaging in physical exercise, and watch your own body turn into the most amazing health machine you've ever witnessed

The Lottery .....

Posted by Tandarin Nike 5:04 AM 0 comments
The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 2th. but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.
The children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play. and their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands. Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones; Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix-- the villagers pronounced this name "Dellacroy"--eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys. The girls stood aside, talking among themselves, looking over their shoulders at the boys. and the very small children rolled in the dust or clung to the hands of their older brothers or sisters.
Soon the men began to gather. surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed. The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk. They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands. Soon the women, standing by their husbands, began to call to their children, and the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times. Bobby Martin ducked under his mother's grasping hand and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones. His father spoke up sharply, and Bobby came quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother.
The lottery was conducted--as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program--by Mr. Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities. He was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him. because he had no children and his wife was a scold. When he arrived in the square, carrying the black wooden box, there was a murmur of conversation among the villagers, and he waved and called. "Little late today, folks." The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying a three- legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it. The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool. and when Mr. Summers said, "Some of you fellows want to give me a hand?" there was a hesitation before two men. Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter. came forward to hold the box steady on the stool while Mr. Summers stirred up the papers inside it.
The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here. Every year, after the lottery, Mr. Summers began talking again about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything's being done. The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained.
Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, held the black box securely on the stool until Mr. Summers had stirred the papers thoroughly with his hand. Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of wood, Mr. Summers had argued. had been all very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three hundred and likely to keep on growing, it was necessary to use something that would fit more easily into he black box. The night before the lottery, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves made up the slips of paper and put them in the box, and it was then taken to the safe of Mr. Summers' coal company and locked up until Mr. Summers was ready to take it to the square next morning. The rest of the year, the box was put way, sometimes one place, sometimes another; it had spent one year in Mr. Graves's barn and another year underfoot in the post office. and sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there.
There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared the lottery open. There were the lists to make up--of heads of families. heads of households in each family. members of each household in each family. There was the proper swearing-in of Mr. Summers by the postmaster, as the official of the lottery; at one time, some people remembered, there had been a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory. tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year; some people believed that the official of the lottery used to stand just so when he said or sang it, others believed that he was supposed to walk among the people, but years and years ago this p3rt of the ritual had been allowed to lapse. There had been, also, a ritual salute, which the official of the lottery had had to use in addressing each person who came up to draw from the box, but this also had changed with time, until now it was felt necessary only for the official to speak to each person approaching. Mr. Summers was very good at all this; in his clean white shirt and blue jeans. with one hand resting carelessly on the black box. he seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins.
Just as Mr. Summers finally left off talking and turned to the assembled villagers, Mrs. Hutchinson came hurriedly along the path to the square, her sweater thrown over her shoulders, and slid into place in the back of the crowd. "Clean forgot what day it was," she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and they both laughed softly. "Thought my old man was out back stacking wood," Mrs. Hutchinson went on. "and then I looked out the window and the kids was gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running." She dried her hands on her apron, and Mrs. Delacroix said, "You're in time, though. They're still talking away up there."
Mrs. Hutchinson craned her neck to see through the crowd and found her husband and children standing near the front. She tapped Mrs. Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make her way through the crowd. The people separated good-humoredly to let her through: two or three people said. in voices just loud enough to be heard across the crowd, "Here comes your, Missus, Hutchinson," and "Bill, she made it after all." Mrs. Hutchinson reached her husband, and Mr. Summers, who had been waiting, said cheerfully. "Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie." Mrs. Hutchinson said. grinning, "Wouldn't have me leave m'dishes in the sink, now, would you. Joe?," and soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson's arrival.
"Well, now." Mr. Summers said soberly, "guess we better get started, get this over with, so's we can go back to work. Anybody ain't here?"
"Dunbar." several people said. "Dunbar. Dunbar."
Mr. Summers consulted his list. "Clyde Dunbar." he said. "That's right. He's broke his leg, hasn't he? Who's drawing for him?"
"Me. I guess," a woman said. and Mr. Summers turned to look at her. "Wife draws for her husband." Mr. Summers said. "Don't you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?" Although Mr. Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfectly well, it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions formally. Mr. Summers waited with an expression of polite interest while Mrs. Dunbar answered.
"Horace's not but sixteen vet." Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully. "Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year."
"Right." Sr. Summers said. He made a note on the list he was holding. Then he asked, "Watson boy drawing this year?"
A tall boy in the crowd raised his hand. "Here," he said. "I m drawing for my mother and me." He blinked his eyes nervously and ducked his head as several voices in the crowd said thin#s like "Good fellow, lack." and "Glad to see your mother's got a man to do it."
"Well," Mr. Summers said, "guess that's everyone. Old Man Warner make it?"
"Here," a voice said. and Mr. Summers nodded.
A sudden hush fell on the crowd as Mr. Summers cleared his throat and looked at the list. "All ready?" he called. "Now, I'll read the names--heads of families first--and the men come up and take a paper out of the box. Keep the paper folded in your hand without looking at it until everyone has had a turn. Everything clear?"
The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions: most of them were quiet. wetting their lips. not looking around. Then Mr. Summers raised one hand high and said, "Adams." A man disengaged himself from the crowd and came forward. "Hi. Steve." Mr. Summers said. and Mr. Adams said. "Hi. Joe." They grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously. Then Mr. Adams reached into the black box and took out a folded paper. He held it firmly by one corner as he turned and went hastily back to his place in the crowd. where he stood a little apart from his family. not looking down at his hand.
"Allen." Mr. Summers said. "Anderson.... Bentham."
"Seems like there's no time at all between lotteries any more." Mrs. Delacroix said to Mrs. Graves in the back row.
"Seems like we got through with the last one only last week."
"Time sure goes fast.-- Mrs. Graves said.
"Clark.... Delacroix"
"There goes my old man." Mrs. Delacroix said. She held her breath while her husband went forward.
"Dunbar," Mr. Summers said, and Mrs. Dunbar went steadily to the box while one of the women said. "Go on. Janey," and another said, "There she goes."
"We're next." Mrs. Graves said. She watched while Mr. Graves came around from the side of the box, greeted Mr. Summers gravely and selected a slip of paper from the box. By now, all through the crowd there were men holding the small folded papers in their large hand. turning them over and over nervously Mrs. Dunbar and her two sons stood together, Mrs. Dunbar holding the slip of paper.
"Harburt.... Hutchinson."
"Get up there, Bill," Mrs. Hutchinson said. and the people near her laughed.
"They do say," Mr. Adams said to Old Man Warner, who stood next to him, "that over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery."
Old Man Warner snorted. "Pack of crazy fools," he said. "Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live hat way for a while. Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' First thing you know, we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There's always been a lottery," he added petulantly. "Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody."
"Some places have already quit lotteries." Mrs. Adams said.
"Nothing but trouble in that," Old Man Warner said stoutly. "Pack of young fools."
"Martin." And Bobby Martin watched his father go forward. "Overdyke.... Percy."
"I wish they'd hurry," Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son. "I wish they'd hurry."
"They're almost through," her son said.
"You get ready to run tell Dad," Mrs. Dunbar said.
Mr. Summers called his own name and then stepped forward precisely and selected a slip from the box. Then he called, "Warner."
"Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery," Old Man Warner said as he went through the crowd. "Seventy-seventh time."
"Watson" The tall boy came awkwardly through the crowd. Someone said, "Don't be nervous, Jack," and Mr. Summers said, "Take your time, son."
After that, there was a long pause, a breathless pause, until Mr. Summers. holding his slip of paper in the air, said, "All right, fellows." For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once, saving. "Who is it?," "Who's got it?," "Is it the Dunbars?," "Is it the Watsons?" Then the voices began to say, "It's Hutchinson. It's Bill," "Bill Hutchinson's got it."
"Go tell your father," Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son.
People began to look around to see the Hutchinsons. Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly. Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers. "You didn't give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn't fair!"
"Be a good sport, Tessie." Mrs. Delacroix called, and Mrs. Graves said, "All of us took the same chance."
"Shut up, Tessie," Bill Hutchinson said.
"Well, everyone," Mr. Summers said, "that was done pretty fast, and now we've got to be hurrying a little more to get done in time." He consulted his next list. "Bill," he said, "you draw for the Hutchinson family. You got any other households in the Hutchinsons?"
"There's Don and Eva," Mrs. Hutchinson yelled. "Make them take their chance!"
"Daughters draw with their husbands' families, Tessie," Mr. Summers said gently. "You know that as well as anyone else."
"It wasn't fair," Tessie said.
"I guess not, Joe." Bill Hutchinson said regretfully. "My daughter draws with her husband's family; that's only fair. And I've got no other family except the kids."
"Then, as far as drawing for families is concerned, it's you," Mr. Summers said in explanation, "and as far as drawing for households is concerned, that's you, too. Right?"
"Right," Bill Hutchinson said.
"How many kids, Bill?" Mr. Summers asked formally.
"Three," Bill Hutchinson said.
"There's Bill, Jr., and Nancy, and little Dave. And Tessie and me."
"All right, then," Mr. Summers said. "Harry, you got their tickets back?"
Mr. Graves nodded and held up the slips of paper. "Put them in the box, then," Mr. Summers directed. "Take Bill's and put it in."
"I think we ought to start over," Mrs. Hutchinson said, as quietly as she could. "I tell you it wasn't fair. You didn't give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that."
Mr. Graves had selected the five slips and put them in the box. and he dropped all the papers but those onto the ground. where the breeze caught them and lifted them off.
"Listen, everybody," Mrs. Hutchinson was saying to the people around her.
"Ready, Bill?" Mr. Summers asked. and Bill Hutchinson, with one quick glance around at his wife and children. nodded.
"Remember," Mr. Summers said. "take the slips and keep them folded until each person has taken one. Harry, you help little Dave." Mr. Graves took the hand of the little boy, who came willingly with him up to the box. "Take a paper out of the box, Davy." Mr. Summers said. Davy put his hand into the box and laughed. "Take just one paper." Mr. Summers said. "Harry, you hold it for him." Mr. Graves took the child's hand and removed the folded paper from the tight fist and held it while little Dave stood next to him and looked up at him wonderingly.
"Nancy next," Mr. Summers said. Nancy was twelve, and her school friends breathed heavily as she went forward switching her skirt, and took a slip daintily from the box "Bill, Jr.," Mr. Summers said, and Billy, his face red and his feet overlarge, near knocked the box over as he got a paper out. "Tessie," Mr. Summers said. She hesitated for a minute, looking around defiantly. and then set her lips and went up to the box. She snatched a paper out and held it behind her.
"Bill," Mr. Summers said, and Bill Hutchinson reached into the box and felt around, bringing his hand out at last with the slip of paper in it.
The crowd was quiet. A girl whispered, "I hope it's not Nancy," and the sound of the whisper reached the edges of the crowd.
"It's not the way it used to be." Old Man Warner said clearly. "People ain't the way they used to be."
"All right," Mr. Summers said. "Open the papers. Harry, you open little Dave's."
Mr. Graves opened the slip of paper and there was a general sigh through the crowd as he held it up and everyone could see that it was blank. Nancy and Bill. Jr.. opened theirs at the same time. and both beamed and laughed. turning around to the crowd and holding their slips of paper above their heads.
"Tessie," Mr. Summers said. There was a pause, and then Mr. Summers looked at Bill Hutchinson, and Bill unfolded his paper and showed it. It was blank.
"It's Tessie," Mr. Summers said, and his voice was hushed. "Show us her paper. Bill."
Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd.
"All right, folks." Mr. Summers said. "Let's finish quickly."
Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. "Come on," she said. "Hurry up."
Mr. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said. gasping for breath. "I can't run at all. You'll have to go ahead and I'll catch up with you."
The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson few pebbles.
Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. "It isn't fair," she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, "Come on, come on, everyone." Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.
"It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.