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When Innocence is Religion

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I was sitting by the window this Sunday morning, looking at the sky, the birds flying, and I watched the birds fly and fly and fly. There were no thoughts. I did not speak. There was utter silence in the ambience. I was in a state of “trans” so as to say. But suddenly, something disturbed my ‘meditation’. That was noise for me, but it was fun for them. They laughed at someone’s pony tail. They laughed at the other’s half broken shirt button. They laughed that one was still yawning on the way. They could laugh and their laugh was guileless. It was a group of children going towards the Church for their morning prayer. Isn’t it a delight to see them rejoice even before they enter the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’?
That group reminded me of my bygone days (though I am not a 60-year old lady!). I am still young in age, but maybe I lack the same passion for fun now. Childhood is surely the best time of our lives.  As a child we are happy to even see a butterfly fly around us.  But as a youth now, we think of preserving them. When it rained, we were ready to dance to the beats of the drops. Now, we fear we might catch a cold. I think, this is a part of being an adult-being cautious of every single detail in the world (how I hate being meticulous!). Those were the days...
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What is India?

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No matter how our self-styled secularists vilify ancient Indian or Hindu wisdom, there is an element of eternity and universality about that treasure trove. It is a great work of reason and analysis. And there is no confusion in the discourse. Such is its universality that the intelligent Westerner woke up to it long ago and discovered the wealth therein. Such is its practicality that when Albert Einstein deconstructed the long-held Newtonian world view in the early part of the 20th century, and when quantum mechanics from the other side revolutionized the whole course of physics and brought about a paradigm shift in our perception of matter and energy, the founding fathers of the evolving field had already taken resort in Hindu wisdom, and to their utter surprise found that Hindu wisdom and the broader framework of Eastern philosophy talked in the same language as modern physics was beginning to do. And it was not restricted to physics or mathematics alone. Even Western writers and philosophers began to appreciate Hindu wisdom, but not without struggling to comprehend the non-Newtonian Hindu world view — used as they were to a discrete, Newtonian notion of fundamentalism, both in the material and non-material world.
As acclaimed physicist and thinker Fritjof Capra says in his classic ‘The Tao of Physics’,  ‘‘The picture of an interconnected cosmic web which emerges from modern atomic physics has been used extensively in the East to convey the mystical experience of nature. For the Hindus, Brahman is the unifying thread in the cosmic web, the ultimate ground of all being... In Buddhism, the image of the cosmic web plays an even greater role. The core of the Avatamsaka Sutra, one of the main scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism, is the description of the world as a perfect network of mutual relations where all things and events interact with each other in an infinitely complicated way.’’
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The History of Tattoos

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The word tattoo is said to has two major derivations- from the Polynesian word ‘ta’ which means striking something and the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ which means ‘to mark something’. The history of tattoo began over 5000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who wear them. Tattoos are created by inserting colored materials beneath the skins surface. The first tattoos probably were created by accident. Someone had a small wound, and rubbed it with a hand that was dirty with soot and ashes from the fire. Once the wound had healed; they saw that a mark stayed permanently. Despite the social sciences’ growing fascination with tattooing, and the immense popularity of tattoos themselves, the practice has not left much of a historical record.
Bronze Age
In 1991, a five thousand year old tattooed man ‘Otzi the ice man’ made the headlines of newspapers all over the world when his frozen body was discovered on a mountain between Austria and Italy. This is the best preserved corpse of that period ever found.
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2010 Jaguar XFR

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T’S small consolation to Ford, which parted ways with Jaguar after 18 largely tear-filled, money-losing years of ownership. But Tata Motors of India, which bought the British automaker in a historic reverse-colonization, is surely thanking Ford for handing over a Jaguar that is finally purring.
Aside from one spectacular debacle — the widely panned X-Type entry luxury sedan, based on the Ford Mondeo — history may credit Ford with transforming Jaguar’s frozen-in-amber styling and notoriously shoddy reliability. No longer living in and off its glorious past, Jaguar suddenly has a lineup on its hands. These are still the pretty, pedigreed cats you expect, but they are also modern, competitive and — according to owner surveys — more mechanically sound than before.
The XK sports car and XF midsize sedan, already among the sexiest cars in their segments, get new muscle for 2010. Both upgrade their 4.2-liter V-8s to a seductive 5-liter with 385 horsepower; for the high-performance R editions, superchargers pump up the horsepower to 510. Both engines ensure that these newest Jaguars will stay on the heels of mega-powered competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. (The XF continues to offer the 300-horse 4.2-liter engine on its $52,000 base model, making it the least expensive Jag.)
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A classic tale: Manik Raitong

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The story of this film is an immortal folk tale often told among the people of the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya, Joannes Lamare tells us more…

In the beginning, God created sixteen families who lived with him in the abode. The members of these families could come to the earth and go back at will across a golden bridge. Then seven of the families decided to stay back on earth, and the golden bridge was destroyed forever. These seven families came to be known as the Seven Huts (Hynniew Trep). The Huts lie in the origin of their existence, and the divine heritage left behind by the ancient people.
The story of Manik Raitong takes place in an unnamed and unknown place in this ancient confederation of the Khasi States.
Manik is a poor village boy whose most treasured possession is his flute on which he plays haunting tunes. Lieng Makaw, a young girl from the same village, is his sweetheart. Manik’s father dies, leaving Manik and his sister, Bida to face many hardships. He also leaves a large burden of debts on Manik’s young shoulders. To avoid becoming a bonded laborer, Manik decided to give up playing his flute and work very had to repay the debts. It is Lieng who makes him play on his flute again one day.
On the day of the local festival, Manik plays his flute and the girls in all their finery danced to the tunes. Watching the dance, the local chief, The Syiem, is enchanted by the fresh beauty of Lieng. At home the Syiem’s sister has been nagging him daily to get married. She is tired of looking after her home all by herself. Lieng with her untouched youthful look appeals to the Syiem, though he himself is neither handsome nor quite young.

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In search of the missing element called the 4th Element.

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Shillong! the Scotland of east and  “the music capital of India” has immense  potential when it comes to rhythm and rhymes. Here even a small piece of wood  can be made to sound like a Washburn guitar and it shows the exotic love and wide understanding of music of the people since times immemorial. The legacy still continues and today it won’t be incorrect to say that every child is a potential musician and aspires to make it to a concert one day and that is evident from the number of music bands coming up day in day out
With so much to give,  it is indeed sad to find that Shillongites are still essentially rock-centric and have not given their ear to other musical genres. Recently the notebook team caught up with Ribor MB, a talented musician and the founder-cum-front-man of the band 4th Element. It is a five member outfit set to explore their dream of making a difference with their own kind of music which contains the flavors of Jazz, Funk, R&B and Soul completing the 4th Element. Ribor says that their thrust is on to educate people that music is not only head banging and microphone abusing but can be enjoyed in many different ways.
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Umsiengiong – a hidden treasure

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By Haimantee Dutta
William Shakespeare had once upon a time said that “Sweet are the uses of adversity” and so will one feel as one drives to Umtyllun, a village near Lawbahin East Khasi Hills. The road to Umtyllun feels like a rough roller – coaster ride and not for a moment does the car stop jerking. All that are left of the roads are a few pebbles and broken pieces of cement clinging on to each other. But this road takes you a very exotic place – the Umsiengiong falls.
Umsiengiong waterfalls is situated amidst the fauna in the Umtyllun village. It is a fifteen minutes drive from the main village.  To reach the water falls one has to go through a forest for about eight minutes. On entering, one can never imagine that such an exotic place even exists. All that one can hear is the gushing sound of the water and the humming of wild insects.. There are the bees buzzing in your ears, the leeches crawling on the forest floor and the strange croaking sound of insects. And all this takes to the flat surface of a rock from where the water is gushing down.
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FARMERS SCRIPTING HISTORYC IN RI-BHOI

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From Northern Europe to United States, it has traveled now to India’s remote villages of Meghalaya – the strawberries. The berry, which is a symbol of purity and sensuality, fertility and abundance, humility and modesty, has made an overwhelming impact in the lives of hundreds of rural people in Ri-Bhoi.       Saidul Khan finds out more…..

About four years ago Increase Kharbani, a mother of four children living in the small hamlet of Sohliya village in Ri-Bhoi district had to live a hard life. But today, she has a reason to smile.
Like Kharbani there are many other women in Sohliya village who has seen a complete life changing experience. Thanks to strawberries. Most of the villagers are doing the cultivation in ½ acre to 3 acres of land and annually they manage to get up to Rs. 25,000-50,000 in an average depending on its acre of production and yields.
These people have no substitute for hard work; they keep themselves engage in striving for more. The income has added a substantial upliftment for the rural people.
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Chugan & the Atong, An abode of culture

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Meghalaya – known popularly as the ‘abode of clouds’ can also be aptly called the ‘abode of culture’. There are the three major tribe residing in this State; the Garos’, Khasis’ and Jaintias’, amidst the minor tribe – the Rabha, Hajong, Koch-Kacharis, Boros’ etc.

The Garos’ know for its cultural diversity is very unique for those studying their culture. The Garo custom is based on Mahari system – the clan. Each and every clan is called by a chatchi - Ambeng, Chambugong, Rongmuthu, Rongrok, Bolwari etc. 

Though most of the cultural believes and traditions are same, still they prefer to call themselves a separate identity. However, all are bound together and prefer to call themselves as ‘A ·chik’.

Again, the Garo Hills belt is divided among some cultural diffusion – its sub dialect. Those residing in the western belt call themselves as Ambeng and those on the southern belt as Atongs, with several others like the Awe, Gara-ganching, Matchidual, Megam, Ruga, Chibok, Matabeng, Dual, Chisak, etc.

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