Unwitnessing Fool

He said it for me … every line, each phrase resonates with me, so I wanted it to be there on my ‘wall,’ to be read whenever I wanted to. It is a privilege to be “walking with the trees”ūüôā

Walkingwithtrees's Blog

sometime in late August

by P. R. Lowe

Sometimes it is so much easier to turn the face away‚Ķ to be an ‚Äúunwitnessing fool‚Ä̂Ķfor when you see‚Ķor know‚Ķthen, you are compelled to do something‚Ķand if you do not, you are consumed by a furtive guilt and/or grief. Then you bury or deny this with the ways of the external world. Your soul begins to die, a little piece at a time‚Ķuntil you are no more than ‚Äújust another zombie‚ÄĚ, roaming the wasteland looking for sustenance of any kind from anywhere. A consumer on auto pilot.

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A Quest

I wrote two posts about nothing in particular since last night. Went out, walked about,found the doors of a temple closed.

Nature versus Nurture debate is ‘reading for class’ yet it kept me awake all night, most of the night. Does success have to do with nature or nurture? From broad general considerations popped out a plaintive quest -ion: am I not right bang in the middle of where I always wanted to be? And yet…

In daylight I read through the Larkin and Charlotte Mew GCSE poems. The poems are about trees but in effect about suffering in life and death. From the urban tenth floor you can only see a canopy of green leaves of the trees, and they don’t make sense.

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.

(“Next, Please” by P. Larkin)

The doors of the temple were shut yet prayers rose on the wings of hope, up through the ether… sometimes it ought to be easier to die.

5 Spelling Rules for Today

  1. The ¬†¬†“i” before “e”¬† rule is in a poem by Jef Raskin tells you how you should spell words which have the letters “ie” ¬†or “ei” in them.

“I before E ¬† ¬†/ Except after C, ¬†/ ¬†Unless pronounced A ¬†/ ¬†As in ‘neighbor’ or ‘weigh'”

Example: receive – ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after c .¬†¬† friend¬† :¬†In this word, there is no ‘c’, so it is ‘i’ before ‘e’. ¬†Read the whole poem to find out what the exceptions to this rule are.

Where do I double my letter for my  Verbs and   Adjectives?

2.  If  your verb has only one Syllable (mono-syllabic) with a consonant at the end as in, sin Рsinner,    fit Рfitted,  sit Рsitting, writ Рwritten

3.  Monosyllabic Adjectives ending with a consonant double up before you can add the suffix  -est  to them, as in : fat Рfattest, big Рbiggest, thin Рthinnest.

Where do I use  the  plural suffix  -ies?

4. ¬†Generally if a Noun ends with a consonant and ‘y’ as in, ¬† country , baby, ¬†spy, cry, try, ¬†fly etc.

5. ¬†Why does the word “written” have double ‘t’ but the word “writing” has one?

The reason is this, the word “written” comes from the word “writ” , whereas ‘writing’ comes from the root verb, ‘write’.

Tests for Teachers : what to assess and how? Some random thoughts

As English teachers, one constant concern we have is about: 
  • whether our learners are writing as much as they should be writing,
  • and then, whether they are in fact writing in literate English,
  • and finally,¬†¬†whether they follow all the writing conventions and know how to write for the effect they want to create.

(That is essentially one sentence stating one problem with three aspects of it in it; I bullet-ed them to make them all visible).

The content as prescribed (as opposed to “designed” which actually leaves teachers plenty of room to play around with content and teaching methods) ¬†by the ICSE or CBSE Board, for English studies, focuses primarily on grammar and composition “topics” students need to “study” in Paper I, and the set pieces they need to read in Paper II Literature.

There is no clear indication for teachers about what the teachers ought to know or teach before they can take up a “grammar or composition topic”.

A lesson on “Voice” for example, is usually taught as a stand-alone lesson on that topic. On day 1 the teacher will tell the students and show them what Active Voice verbs and Passive verbs look like, and how they are changed from one form to the other. On day 2 they would be working with sentences; ¬†and then the teacher would check it off on her planner, as “Chapter on Voice – Completed” . No further interventions will be done except perhaps some more drills (transformation of sentences from Active to Passive and Passive to ¬†Active Voice).

The teacher is not required to stop and think about why it is important to teach passives, how it helps the student to read or write better and exactly in what ways writers can use it to create the effect they desire to create.

Some place somewhere a teacher will saunter into her class armed with her rather limited subject knowledge, having studied grammar for the last time in life in Class VII or VIII when he or she was barely sixteen years of age, hardly mature enough to grasp the finer nuances of a verb in the passive voice. At least in India, they do not teach you a great many things about verbs in the Passive Voice in Class VII (when they are introduced) or in Clas VIII (where it is taught as a lesson for the last time before a student transitions into Class IX, whereon there would simply be drills in the form of ‘transformation of sentences’).

In one school I went to, to conduct a workshop for teachers, I discovered the Science teacher was assigned to teach English in Class 2. Not having studied English as a discipline, it did not occur to her that she needed to know more about passives than just how it looks and how a verb can be changed to passive voice.

In another school, the Grade 8 teacher thoughtfully gave each child a “5 point to do” checklist before students attempted to write a summary. However, in the last point, the first line was “…use only complex sentences”. Usually, we tell them NOT to use Complex sentences (as they contain many finite verbs, hence multiple clauses) but to adhere to Simple sentences (one finite verb) while writing a Summary. Obviously this teacher was confused and probably forgot which one was which. Am sure in his mind he knew what it is he wanted but sometimes because we are not thorough, the terms get mixed up in our heads.

We remember only what is truly relevant in our lives. What we cannot use or understand the importance of, we usually forget. Young students are no different.

In our B.Ed or teacher training programs, the tests currently only audit the amount of facts a trainee teacher can remember or whether they “can write a summary”.

In the light of the knowledge I have picked up teaching over the years, through trial and error, I think if we could have a test like this, using the “exam” tool to guide the teachers to think about,

“The Assumptions about Language as a Tool and Expectations of a Language Lesson”

that might help. It certainly would have helped me when I was twenty years old.

A COHORT session in my old school Riverside led me to think; at the end of a few hours of contemplation, this is the questionnaire I came up with, that teachers from other disciplines (especially) could use, to be conscious about the relevance of grammar lessons we plan. The questionnaire ought to help a teacher understand “why I have to know this” , “how will it help me write the way I want to”.

1) Try and list two ways in which knowledge about the names of parts of speech and their functions can help students decode unknown texts?

2) What “grammar” chapters should I teach before I can introduce a descriptive writing exercise to my class?

3) Can you cite examples from literature you studied where you saw evidence of how important a tiny little Preposition word can be and how a preposition can become a matter of life and death in a court case?

4) To write we need tools, one such ‘tool’ (resource or background info if you please) is of course knowledge of structural grammar. So to empower your students to write strong Argumentative essays, what language lessons should you include in your pre-writing sessions?

5) What kind of reading and writing can you plan for after you have taught your class about passives?

6) What do my students struggle with the most? What is one of the recurrent problems in writing I have noticed with every batch I have taught over the past two years? (Awareness)

7) To write a good summary, should my children have to be thorough with composing Simple sentences or Complex sentences?

8) Can I enhance the understanding and appreciation of poetry reading by including grammar lessons in my sessions? If yes, then what chapters should those grammar lessons be from?

9) What all do our children need to know to become good at spelling?

10) Which kind of grammar errors affect the meaning of sentences or utterances?

11) Is it possible to change the structure of sentences without changing the meaning of it?

12) Should you write an intro and conclusion for a summary?

You might ask, what if a teacher does not know the answers to any of these questions? How does the test help us then?

If a teacher finds that she or he cannot answer some of these questions, that might lead them to research these things. In their minds now they would know WHY they are planning a lesson on Verbs, ¬†HOW could learners be made to see that it makes sense to know about “them stupid things called verbs”.

The whole point of a test is to make me aware of what I do NOT know and need to learn, before I plan my next lesson. It also helps me to decide how I should go about ‘correcting’ their written assignments, what I should look for, ¬†rather than just checking off what they did “right/wrong”, give them useful feedback.

I love to hear from my blog visitors and usually reply to everyone that takes the time to interact with me. Thank you for reading my blog.

Close Look at an Indian Express Article about the Abolition of Section 309

My take on an article in the Indian Express dated December 22, 2014:

The recent government proposal to strike down Section 309 as a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code is certainly welcome news. Studies have consistently found that an overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their death. However, often these disorders are hardly recognised, diagnosed or adequately treated.

Agree. True.

The announcement on the deletion of Section 309 does not indicate whether this step is prompted by mental health concerns.

Irrelevant I think, since the phrase in the recommendation, “meets with grave misfortune” ( brought about by social trauma), and “incurably diseased” covers everything. In good health or in bad, I decide what I do with my body and life.

If I am not given this choice, what might happen is, my enemies may drive me into a situation where I am rendered unhealthy, pronounced unhealthy and then that gives them the right to take control of my life.


Using the “mental health” card is just another way to manipulate people and take control of lives that is born with the right of choice.

Rights are rights and one who is in a position to appreciate it fully and the one who is not are both equally entitled to them. To take away the right from someone on the grounds he is incapable of deciding for himself is like denying voice or toys to a sick child and Indian mothers that are control freaks are so used to do that. They control the lives of all significant others all their pathetic lives with that all encompassing excuse of “doing it for love, doing it because I care, doing it because you need it, doing it because you do not know what is good for you”

Arrrrrrrrrrrgh. Insincere. Dishonest and utterly in violation of human rights and m

The government does state, however, that the proposal is based on the recommendations of the reports of the Law Commission of India. The deletion was first recommended in the 42nd report of the Law Commission of 1971.

So they have had enough time with this, and am sure wise people have studied and reflected upon the matter from all imaginable angles before making a recommendation like this. Not exactly a spur of the moment populist decision.

Significantly, this report did not make the recommendation out of mental health concerns surrounding persons committing suicide.

Well from what you quote afterwards, aparently it has it seems. Read on and you would see. It is clearly written:

It relied, among other sources, on the commentators on Manu in the Dharmashastra to state that a person who is driven to death is either ‚Äúincurably diseased‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúmeets with a grave misfortune‚ÄĚ. The deletion of Section 309 was suggested out of pity or sympathy for those attempting to commit suicide. The suggestion came up again in the 210th report of the Law Commission in 2008, a document concentrating solely on the decriminalisation of suicide. This report did make references to the fact that persons committing suicide need sympathy, care and treatment, not punishment. But neither report made a strong case for the rights of persons with mental illnesses, continuing to describe them as having an incurable disease and deserving sympathy.

This is a rather outdated understanding of disability.

Really? In what way?! The article itself goes on to clarify and cut across its own argument in the subsequent information:

The disability rights movement has been arguing for an understanding that is not rooted in a medical or a ‚Äúdisease‚ÄĚ-based model but in a social model that conceptualises disability as the disadvantages and exclusions faced by people because of social barriers and attitudes.

Seems like a pretty accurate assessment there, “social model”. And so if social trauma led you to decide you do not wish to play other people’s games or be dragged into them, it is your decision and people should honour that as a matter of right to choose!

Unless you want to use my condition to control my life, my resources yourself.

Mental health, if seen through a medical model, is completely surrounded by misunderstandings and negative stereotypes that result in stigma and discrimination against as well as isolation of people with mental illnesses and their families and carers. The social model of disability urges us to look beyond the issues of medical treatment and disease, to the identification of the social barriers that deny people with psycho-social disabilities the rights to employment, education, recreation and even citizenship. This social model is the core of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been signed and ratified by India.

Yeah, so now this article recommends that it wants to add another “denial” in that list, “right to choose when you want to stop”.

That persons driven to commit suicide are, more often than not, facing mental health disorders and are in need of care and treatment was suggested in the new Mental Health Care Bill, 2013.

Hidden urge to control, propaganda to control other lives and to keep control in the hands of vested interests. The real meaning of that content is the intent that “anyone that does not conform with what WE SUGGEST is OK, we would mark off as “NOT OK” and mentally unsound and take control of their lives and property.

People that are in any manner associated with writing this kind of article should be trained linguists. In fact, in another life, while editing books on English in Law I had discovered that in one National Law College in Lucknow, they do teach Discourse and Speech Acts and in fact every student aspiring to deal in law or mental health should be well conversant with language because it all hinges on what people are saying and what they actually mean!

This bill provides that any person attempting to commit suicide should be assumed to be suffering from a mental illness, and that it would be the duty of the government to provide him or her with adequate care, treatment and rehabilitation.

Classic example of control freaks and fascist talk.

The Supreme Court also considered suicide as a mental health concern in its judgment on euthanasia in Aruna Shanbaug vs Union of India, in which it recognised that a person attempting suicide is in need of help rather than punishment, and it recommended that Parliament consider the feasibility of deleting Section 309.

Misquote irrelevant to the argument the author was making. This quote is in fact supportive of the government’s decision and is aligned to their stand and is consistent with the action taken.

So, if the government really wants to ensure that the striking down of Section 309 has a significant impact then it must state unequivocally that this step is in recognition of the rights of persons with mental health disabilities who are driven to committing suicide and that they should not be further punished.

The government has unequivocally done that already!

This could be a starting point for the government to take on and address the difficult issues surrounding mental health ‚ÄĒ the recognition of an individual‚Äôs right to receive adequate treatment and care, providing better access to mental health services, including mental health as an integral part of the right to health in government policy, providing adequate funding to ensure access to healthcare, and taking steps against mental health stigma and discrimination.

That in fact is a completely different stand. This article looks like it is a hash of different documents the author may have studied. This recommendation is appropriate.

Finally, the deletion of Section 309 could be the beginning of a series of other deletions, of provisions scattered across various legislation that are harmful and discriminatory to persons with disabilities. Without any of these steps to take it forward, striking down Section 309 would be meaningless.


This article could have caused a lot of damage in the hands of unscrupulous people.
English teaching in schools should teach students to read public reports this way, but in India they never do and teachers that do try to do this in class are promptly sacked lol. So you are convinced that India really is far from being a democracy. underneath the surface it is still not quite awake to the possibilities and the fun of a true and full fledged democracy.

What about Mental Health? Is India Concerned?

While blogging at an all American site that has now been deleted (in absolute violation of basic human rights and no one write a word of protest about that?), I began to learn about how disability is perceived in the USA through the blog posts of friends diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, PTSD, post war traumas etc.

I learned with a sort of increasing alacrity how well they are taken care of by the State as I read through accounts of their interaction with the social service people, their visit to the clinics, and learned that most of the time if you are indeed diagnosed with a disability that renders you in any manner a little bit less “in-control of your self” than any of your counterparts in the community, the government takes responsibility of housing you, financing you, providing you with the basic needs of food, shelter, and safety.

Of course like with all systems of the world this is also ridden with corrupt practices and not always do the desired good results happen but mostly, seventy percent of the time they do and so it works for them.

My bi-polar friends do not have to have a regular job, they get some kind of State allowance for their basic needs, shelter, medication.

They are all educated intelligent people and capable of blogging and deep thought but they are incapable of dealing with social responsibilities like managing relationships at work or in their personal lives, they often live in isolation (but NOT locked away in an asylum) with the misery of their volatile tempers, and dispositions. All of them had access to public libraries and internet is free in all public libraries in the USA. I think that is wonderful and as it should be, USA, where knowledge at least they kept “free” even though institutionalised education cost the earth. (But they have so many different kinds of grants that of one really wants to, they can go to college and study).

And what about India?

My friend’s mother is delusional, suffers from some kind of debilitating mental disorder that is causing her to lose her memory, and she in no way should be allowed to hold family documents or control family resources, jeopardizing the safety and security of her own offspring. In India however in schools they are silent about such things that constitute very important life lessons.

There was a child in my class in grade 3 that is suffering from some kind of attention seeking disorder that makes him want to be the center of attention at ALL times, and when he does not get that he turns destructive. But his parents and class teacher, the school co-ordinator are oblivious of the matter. If he is not given proper attention now, he would turn dangerous later and in the hands of unscrupulous people would become a potent instrument of harm to to other lives around him.

The idea in India is mental illness is restricted to people being “crazy”. Indians do not understand psychosis, and what is dangerous is often misreads eccentricity in gifted people as “illness”.

One psychiatrist I had been to in 2005 after the incident in my life made me take all the tests, and then had correctly diagnosed “you do not need me, you need a very good lawyer and your friends, you are suffering from trauma, I can give you something to calm your nerves for now, but you should see a lawyer”. Another one referred to me by my cancer-specialist classmate friend, tried to “fix” the situation with drugs he was too busy to listen.

One thing everyone walking in to the chamber of an India doctor should stop to consider how these children that are now doctors grew up, what kind of parenting they have had or schooling or life experiences. Were they raised to take responsibility or their parents lugged their bags to school for them. The sight of children walking ahead or on a train with their parents like faithful servants lugging their schools bags a step behind them is a very common sight in many cities of India.

These doctors have never been taught to help others, feel compassion, go out of their way to assist other people not related to them, they are not even raised to be comfortable with strangers. They grow up without any sort of real interaction or meaningful engagement with the community around them and they grow up fed on lies and myths about people which they get from their peers and their over protective parents. They are never allowed near people that are different from them. They never have ever been with people suffering from mental agony or pain. They have never actually ever suffered any kind of mental trauma themselves.

They read definitions of symptoms and manifestations in their big fat medical journals and if they have mney get into medical schools, and one fine day they get their expensive degrees and they turn to “treat” people with “mental disorders”, without¬† clue about the morphology of the human mind in any real sense.

They are not encouraged to read literature (unlike in the West where even in law schools and tech students are encouraged to read and unless you begin to understand people and life around you , develop these insights, how do you design for them anyways?) and many top performers are clueless about poetry and the arts and therefore clueles about artistic minds work and how a literature person would think. They are not taught about cause and effect or to discern.

I have often tried to strike up a conversation with people of this category,  couped up in an ac compartment on a train and discovered how clueless they are about life in general.

So, India’s problem is two fold.

a) No one to recognize and clearly define the conditions that need support either chemical drugs or just human attention (like when people were banging on my door in the middle of the night and I called the BV counsellor I had been referred to by a doctor friend, she did not even pick up the phone and when she did and I told her why I had called  and what was going on, she said come to the office in the morning!).

b) Incompetent human resources in the form of degreed but incompetent and uninitiated-to-life-experiences,¬† dependent-on-mommy-for-their-every-need child-men-women as your “doctors”, that are out to make money out of your misery but not really there to put you back your feet and get you going again.

So then what?

School curriculums have to be reformed, designed to script minds that can attain the competencies required to help and serve people. But no one ever listens in India and so we would never be the USA or Europe ever.

We have brains and money.

We lack common sense and the will to do good and the courage to be human and lack basic faith in the goodness of man.

Decriminalising of Section 309 of IPC by the Modi Government

I read this post this morning and am sirprised how out of touch I had been and at the same time happy to know that the government has taken a step towards improving the condition of human lives by abolishing the outdated Section 309 of the IPC, for I do regard this as a step to improve life conditions.

I had written about the concept of auto destruct in 2009, pointing out that even computer proograms without a mind of their own or the capacity to discern between right or wrong are endowed with the choice regarding their life cycle.

A program can be programmed to auto destruct with the possibility of imminent danger, or to prevent loss or when its job is done (example the message for Tom Cruise in the movie Mission Impossible – you remember the sunglasses he was delivered on a helicopter atop the cliff? I mention this as it is interesting and contemporary and most people have seen this and it is easy to understand rather than a scholarly article about the idea).

I appreciate this move on the part of the government, it is sensible especially in a country like India with a long history about such ideas existing in its religious and sacred documents.

I continued to read and found that a lot of people think “icchyamrityu” and suicide are somehow different. Well it is not but the implication of such a death would differ depending on who is doing it and why and in what circumstances.

However, irrespective of all such considerations I sincerely believe and think, with all the power I have of thought and judgement, as an adult responsible for my life and having enjoyed it best as I can so far, (until danger befell me and my life changed) I can muster that every single person should have a choice regarding the most precious possession they have.

What people choose to do with their lives should be indeed their choice.

Our won lives and our deaths, the manner we choose to die, the time of it, the circumstances of it, we should be free to choose in a free country and I appreciate that we may not have to leave it to chance the most important aspect of our life cycles.

By reneging this control over its human resource, this government has indeed shown courage and set a good example of good thinking and good governance at least in one area of our collective existence.

And now if they can also invest a little bit in the construction of social infra structures to ensure the safety and security of the lives and property of single women in India that are otherwise not a liability on the community in any manner financial or otherwise, that would be great. Thank you. I am glad.