Friday, March 11

The Royal Edict of Expulsion (1609) and the Last Andalusi Muslims ("Moriscos") of Spain

And history is a vast early warning system. I wrote an essay few years back about my surprise about how Al Qaeda wanted to reconsider Spain. The Spanish empire was and is perhaps one of the spectacular examples of idiocy incompetence and incoherence. Mixed with religion. Empires are usually stupid anyway but Spain managed to take it to a level unheard of.

Now look at where we are. A Spain which is overrun with refugees. The centripetal and fissiparous tendencies inherent in that kingdom are pulling it apart. You can create a country but to create a nation is another matter. For example the UK is a country but we are divided into groups and that's why I'm all for Scotland getting independent. A country is better managed and provides better security and happiness to its citizens when it's a nation. An example is that of USA. It went through a terrible civil war but now it's a nation state.

Second come to religion and treatment of minorities. There is something about religion that makes it and people turn into monsters. Almost without fail. Down history people have been discriminated against due to them believing in different gods. Can you imagine? This article describes what happened in the Middle Ages and those repercussions are still here. Christians are being purged from the Middle East. One of the justifications is what the Christians did in Spain. Heck you don't have to go that far, see what France did to the Roma few years back.

Donald Trump, one of the republican nominees said absolutely foul and rubbish things for Mexicans. Go figure.

But a fascinating historical story here son. Do read this. This will give you loads of insights into what's happening in the world today.



The Royal Edict of Expulsion (1609) and the Last Andalusi Muslims ("Moriscos") of Spain
(via Instapaper)

Historical Background

Following the forcible conversion of the Andalusī Muslims of Granada in 1501 (which I have described elsewhere ), similar edicts of conversion were promulgated that forced the Muslims populations of Castile (1502), Navarre (1515) and the Crown of Aragón (1526) to convert to Christianity, thereby criminalizing Islam as a public religion in the Iberian peninsula for the first time in 800 years. The new population of New Christians, as they were called, were referred to (derogatorily) as Moriscos. The Spanish government as well as the Church and Inquisition threatened any who continued to adhere to Islam—in any shape or form—with the death penalty, which usually meant being burned at the stake.

(Panels showing the Conversion of the Muslims of Granada in 1501, Altar, Royal Chapel, Granada)

Despite this legislation, many (perhaps even most) of these individuals held firm to their former beliefs, practicing dissimulation (taqīyyah)—a practice legitimized by a 1504 fatwa by the Mufti of Oran Ahmad ibn Abī Juma‘a—and adhering in secret to their cultural and religious practices. Those who were discovered were subjected to interrogation and torture by the Inquisition before being executed; at least several thousand individuals were subjected to this over the course of the sixteenth century. Around 1566/1567, additional legislation was introduced that essentially banned many of the cultural practices of the Andalusīs, including their dress, names, traditional festivals, and even dances, while any use of the Arabic language itself, whether written or spoken, was officially criminalized. This coincided with an increasing amount of repression against the Moriscos in Granada, where, along with the Kingdom of Valencia, one of the biggest Andalusī communities in Spain resided. This led to the outbreak, in 1568, of a major rebellion in the Kingdom of Granada which then spread to the Alpujarras mountains and lasted until 1571.

Thursday, March 10


I grew up in india where we had chalkboards. When I had to teach the first time in uni, I was so bloody nervous that I managed to break every chalk stick in the box. But I still get excited when I hold chalk in my arms. Very primeval reaction. Not usually found these days of whiteboards and board pens. Not fun indeed. 

And then you see this. How extraordinary. The best we would get up to in school was to draw penis pictures. And these Japanese students are something else. 

Wednesday, March 9

The Expert's Guide to People Watching

So kids. There are five elements to this link. What you are. What you're trying to portray. What the onlooker is taking in. And what does the onlooker do after taking it in. And finally how and why does it matter to you after the onlooker has decided to do something about it. 
So let's take an example. I'm trying to show that I'm rich although I'm comfortably middle class. So I wear an expensive watch. The onlooker looks at the watch and goes oooooo. And then admires the watch and sucks up to you. And the final element, you feel good because somebody admired you. 
We all do this. To a greater or smaller extend. No harm in that at all. 
But the little that I've learnt, I always think, why does it matter to me what others think? Do I need other people's admiration or feedback to know how good I am? So I just say, sod it. Don't care. What I wear or do is driven more by functional needs.
 I need a suit. Debenhams suits are just fine for me. I don't need a Gucci suit. I keep my hair short. Saves me time that I can spend that time every day on reading or something else. 
When you observe people, note how they invest in brands and external measures of 'image'. Know this then that they are looking for your reaction. Don't play that game. People see through it. That way you can see beyond the layers and armour that people wrap themselves around and show off what they are not rather than what they are. 
Fascinating exercise, people watching. I love doing that through my camera and catching people in their various guises :) 
It's a very stressful time at work with a serious amount of shit happening so it's a nice little dance I see and perform. Will tell you sometime. 
Diya I loved going to your high school and was also remembering when we went to leave Kannu there. He was so cute in his grown up clothes and walking there alone. And soon you'll be following in that route. Best of luck today darling. Have a lovely time. 


You’re bored while standing in line or forced to sit in a doctor’s waiting room. What do you do to amuse yourself? Invariably, many of us turn to people watching to pass the time. Without even realizing it, perhaps, we decide whether those sharing our space—even temporarily—are smart or dumb, interesting or dull, and happy or anxious. We might even start to spin theories about them, knowing nothing about them other than their facial expressions, what they’re doing, and the way they walk or sit. Fleshing out our theories is the additional information we get from the clothes they’re wearing, the jewelry they have on, and even the state of their shoes.
As stated by Carnegie Mellon computer scientist David Fouhey and colleagues (2014), “the human body is a powerful and versatile visual communication device” (p. 259). Fouhey and team used information about people's poses to generate computer models of different types of environments, but the powerful communication we deliver through our bodies can be the basis for powerful social judgments.

Tuesday, March 8

The Most Punctual Man in India

Gandhi is an amazing man kids. As you grow up and learn more about him, you'll understand why he's so amazing. And frustrating as well. His achievements, his thoughts, his views all have frustrated me for so long. I'm slowly working my way through his collected works online. He was a prolific writer and speaker. His collected works span more than 100 volumes. Four times that of an encyclopaedia Brittanica. Voracious reader and an encyclical genius. 
But I digress. This is about time. Time is the biggest enemy of mine. And my biggest friend at the same time. In work, I pride myself on being able to fix business. Or deliver things. This depends upon three things. The amount of work to be done. The amount of resources (money, people, technology) and the amount of time that I have. The first two I can change but one thing which I cannot is time. I can never recover any time. That's why it's my biggest enemy. 
But it's my friend as well kids. One of the advantages of believing in the Hindu philosophy means that I'm not restricted by normal lifetimes but on multiple lifetimes. One benefit is that I don't fear death. 
But timekeeping is vital kids. We have to be on time. It's the greatest form of respect to others and to yourself. We have so much left to do that needlessly wasting time is bleah. Bear in mind that this isn't meaning that you have to be on the go all the time son. Sitting and reading a book. Observing a sunrise. Sitting and talking to a friend are all things you want to do. But not waste time. 
Think of your life as a suitcase. You have a choice of just throwing things into it. Or  being organised and managing to fit in the tiniest sock and tie into a nook and cranny. (Btw I'm useless at packing) but life is like that. You want a full suitcase when you check out? Or an empty one which is disorganised? 
Finally, if you ask me, baba how do I know if I'm wasting time? Think back on anything that you did that didn't excite you. Or raised a smile. Or made you happy. Anything of those times indicate that you wasted that time. One learns. 
But in the meantime, be punctual. Respect yourself and others to be on time. 
It's kannu's special day today. And I still remember the wonderful day when he was born and I held him in my arms. That tiny little child cradled in my arms. Blinking slowly up at me. And the most joyous time of my life began. Which doubled when Diya was born. Time well spent :)

The watch never left his side. It was the first thing Gandhi reached for when he rose each morning at 4 a.m., and the last thing he checked before going to bed, often past midnight. He consulted it frequently through the day so as never to be late for an appointment. And, at that final moment, when three bullets from an assassin’s Beretta knocked him over, his 78-year-old body slumped to the ground, and the watch also stopped.
Mahatma Gandhi’s Ingersoll pocket watch, costing just a dollar, was among the handful of material possessions he owned. Since he didn’t have a pocket to carry it in, he attached the watch to his dhoti with a safety pin and a loop of khadi string. The Ingersoll is displayed in a glass case at the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi alongside his bloodstained dhoti and shawl. Together, the three items form a striking metaphor of Kala, the Hindu god of time who is also the god of death.
Gandhi’s legendary punctuality had a utilitarian imperative—without it he would never have been able to answer the sacks of letters and streams of visitors that demanded his attention each day. But, as with everything he valued, it had a moral imperative as well. Simply put, time was tied to his philosophy of trusteeship: the belief that just as we do not own our wealth but are trustees of it—and thus have to use it wisely—similarly, we are trustees of our time. “You may not waste a grain of rice or a scrap of paper, and similarly a minute of your time,” he wrote. “It is not ours. It belongs to the nation and we are trustees for the use of it.” Consequently, any abuse of time was unethical. “One who does less than he can is a thief,” he wrote to a friend. “If we keep a timetable we can save ourselves from the last-mentioned sin indulged in even unconsciously.” While this focus on punctuality may portray Gandhi as skittish and anxious, the opposite was true: a timetable allowed him to give the issue at hand his tranquil and undivided attention.

Monday, March 7

How African Americans get schooled for failure

It was a pleasure going to nower hill high school on Tuesday night. It has changed since kannus time. Not least that I can actually see Diya's homework on my iPhone. That's cool :) but the school is good. Nice and airy. The teachers were committed. Strong discipline. Nice facilities. Great library and computers. They will all get tablets. Smelt nice. Well organised notice boards. Smiling children. Happy and welcoming teachers. Teachers who were firm but full of high expectations. We did right with both of you in that school. 
And then I read about how the usa has such horrendous schools. I see these when I'm doing my STEM teaching in the inner city schools and also see the students during my home start charity work. I personally studied in the best school in Bhopal and when I first saw the Hindi medium school at a board exam, it was shocking. The influence of a school and teacher is so far reaching indeed. 
For example the head master at nower hill said that they expect 95% attendance. At 90%, students will miss out on 6 months of schooling in high school. Which means their GCSEs will be 70% lower and they will go on to earn substantially less and be poorer through their lives. Such is the horrible long term impact of a small thing related to cutting classes. 
Much to do to fix this but here's hoping and wishing Diya has a great time. Do advice her Kannu. She looks up to you and listens to you :) 

How African Americans get schooled for failure – D Watkins – Aeon
(via Instapaper)

My 13-year-old nephew Butta was getting into trouble weekly. Arguing with teachers, ignoring administrators, and walking out of class. To the point where my sister had a time-block in her schedule every month dedicated to parent-teacher conferences – but they didn’t work.
Butta is as harmless as he is plump – that jolly kid who loves to split up his chips between his friends and would gladly give you the last bite of his sandwich. He’s never been in trouble outside of school, which says a lot, since his dad, the rest of his uncles and I had all been arrested or kicked out of a school at least once by the time we reached his age.
‘What’s going on with your classes?’ I asked him.
‘My teachers hate me and they throw me in wit Mr Ronald, that sub who be on his phone all day, talkin’ about he don’t need this job, cuz he got his own company! He ain’t got no company!’

Sunday, March 6

The Great & Beautiful Lost Kingdoms

This is the trip I was talking about. Sometime we have to go to Indonesia Java Thailand Burma Cambodia and Vietnam to see the history of the Hindu  and Buddhist kingdoms and the architecture/statue art they left behind. It's not a holiday as lying in the beach and vegetating but this is exciting as well. Can you imagine walking in the footsteps of our ancestors? Their dreams and prayers. Their joys and sorrows. 
One day when I grow up, I'm going to go to Afghanistan as well. Don't think I can take you too but it's a plan. And I'm planning the Antarctica trip. That should be violent and exciting :) so be prepared with your sea sickness pills :) I absolutely loved Galapagos. It was a holiday and trip which was absolutely bonkers. We need to do more of that. 
But fascinating reading this article kids. 

Buddhism Along the Silk Road, 5th–8th Century

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, June 2, 2012–February 10, 2013
Bridgeman Images A tower at the Ta Prohm temple, founded by the Khmer king Jayavarman VII, Angkor, Cambodia, late twelfth–early thirteenth centuries
“People of distant places with diverse customs,” wrote a Chinese Buddhist monk in the mid-seventh century, “generally designate the land that they admire as India.”
Xuanzang was a scholar, traveler, and translator. When he wrote these words in the seventh century, he had just returned from an epic seventeen-year, six-thousand-mile overland pilgrimage and manuscript-gathering expedition to the great Indian centers of Buddhist learning. Buddhism by then had been the established religion of most of South and Central Asia since it was taken up by Emperor Ashoka in the third century BC, around three hundred years after the Buddha’s death in northern India. The account Xuanzang wrote of his journey, Buddhist Record of the Western World, makes it clear that the places he passed through from western China to the Hindu Kush were then very largely dominated by Indic ideas, languages, and religions.