Professional letter writers


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By Geeta Pandey   BBC News, Delhi:    For centuries, professional letter writers have helped millions of illiterate Indians but many have long disappeared from the cities – but not in Delhi, where one man claims to be the last letter writer left in the country’s capital.

An Indian writes a postcard

An abiding memory of my childhood years in the Indian city of Calcutta is of my mother writing letters for our domestic help, Kailash. Kailash was 50, he was from the neighboring state of Orissa and had never been to school. Every month, my mother would put pen to paper and consult him before writing each sentence. The letters would always begin with “Dear son…” and would then ask after the well-being of his large family. They contained all his news and instructions on how to spend the money he was sending them. In our teenage years, my sister and I took on the responsibility of composing his letters. Kailash lived in our home and he could come to any of us to write his letters.



For millions of others like him, who travelled regularly from rural India to the big cities for work, there have been professional letter writers who thrived for centuries but are now on the verge of disappearing.

Jagdish Chandra Sharma is perhaps the Indian capital’s last surviving professional letter writer.  Continue reading the main story




Sogyal Rinpoche, “Real devotion is an unbroken receptivity to the truth. Real devotion is rooted in an awed and reverent gratitude, but one that is lucid, grounded, and intelligent.”



Opportunities 4 mindfulness


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For most of us, a typical day begins when we get out of bed, wash, and then start our activities. At some point, we get a bite to eat, walk somewhere, and talk to someone. Often, by the end of the day we find ourselves stressed out and physically exhausted. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Everyday activities can be an opportunity for a meditation moments; bringing mindfulness, clarity, and peace into your day while energizing yourself and reducing stress.4_lies

A study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition found: “Brief meditation training reduced fatigue, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning.”

These brief mindfulness meditations can be done anywhere or anytime …well using common sense. Just like you should not text and drive I would not meditate and drive either.

Here are two examples of how to add meditation without taking time out of your schedule.

  1. When you get up in the morning, you usually wash. Let’s use washing your face for our first meditation opportunity. Feel the temperature of the water on your hands. Focus on the temperature as you add a little soap. Notice how the suds feel on your hand. When a thought comes in, think of it as someone else’s phone ringing. You hear it, but you don’t have to answer it. Next, feel your soapy hands or the washcloth on your face. Focus on that sensation as you wash your face. Next, feel the rinse water on your face — how does it feel? Is it too cold? Too hot? Just right? If your mind wanders, there is no need to judge, just go back to focusing on the feeling of the water on your face. As you towel off, feel the sensation of the air on your face. It’s that simple, you just meditated.
  2. As you go about your day, you are most likely waiting in line or in traffic, so take a moment to breathe. Everyone has to breathe, and there is no way the person in front of you in the coffee line will know you are meditating! Sense the breath coming in and out of your nose or mouth. Don’t worry about thoughts; you know what to do, think of your thoughts as someone else’s cellphone ringing. Some people like to label their thoughts as “thought” and then let them go. The important thing is returning to sensing your breath coming in and out of your body. You will feel your shoulders relax and your patience returning.

A Book Talk on the Indo-Pacific Empire



The Japan Chair is delighted to invite Rory Medcalf, Professor and Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, to discuss his new book, Indo-Pacific Empire: China, America and the contest for the world’s pivotal region. Please join us virtually to learn about the Indo-Pacific region and the potential for great power conflict between the United States and China.

From the Play List Top songs I have listened to in 2010


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From the Play List Top songs I have listened to in 2010: PAULINE CROZE – Jour de foule

I have a 16,000 plus digital audio collection and I use Media Monkey to manage my files. One feature of Media Monkey is you can sort your collection based on the number of times played. This playlist is based on the top music and/or music video files I played/listened/streamed from my server: Playlist 2010