My book IDLE HOURS will be available for free download between 1st and 3rd December 2017. I have made minor revisions recently and those who have already got it may download it again to get the latest version.
Meanwhile here are a few reviews / feedbacks:
@dpdash67 Sir, now now a days I am reading your book 'Idle hours', enjoying your witty, thought provoking writings. It is really a great honour for me that I some time with you, a know you, saw your growth from Edn Instr to Educator.
Enjoyed reading the book. At places the humour is hilarious and some places it is very subtle. Most of the articles are for leisurely read, but not all. Some, like the one on the nature of reality and another on Transcendental Mathematics require deeper introspection. The articles are a combination of serious and trivia. Overall, the book is worth one’s time. I could relate with the memoirs too, myself hailing from a remote place of India.
“Idle Hours” which is a collection of articles, thought provoking essays on subjects that are liked by everyone and memoirs of some incidents that took place in Sri Durga Prasad Dashji’s life. As an ardent fan I had read almost all the articles, essays and travelogues written by him through E-magazine as well as his blogs.
I had always been awestruck by the plainness, simplicity and uncomplicatedness with which he writes. All his writings are thought provoking, filled with wit and humour and depict some resemblance to what we see in our daily life.
Dashji has the potential to encapsulate the readers with his deep knowledge on the subject that he writes and more over he uses apt words which naturally makes the readers feel comfortable in understanding it. More than everything he is capable of conveying any message in a lighter vein without hurting anyone.
This compilation has come out as an E-book. Dashji has been a great supporter of paperless communication and he has appropriately come out with this E-book. I read the book and enjoyed reading all the 39 articles some of my favourites are given below.
“OF T-SHIRTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISM”
“RIP: TELEGRAM- MEMORIES FROM MILITARY LIFE”
“WHEN THE WRAPPER IS CONSIDERED SUPERIOR TO THE GIFT INSIDE”
“COME ON INDIA, DO NOT LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR”
I would highly recommend this book to everyone irrespective of age and gender. Kindly buy your copy today.
My first published book was supposed to be a book of poetry to celebrate the labours of love of an unsung poet who has been writing poetry off and on for the last three decades. Being a professional procrastinator I had also set a deadline for the completion and the publication of the book.
My first task was to trace out all the poems that I remembered to have written. Beginning from my blog to a number of long forgotten anthologies and magazines. Some poems really surprised me and I gave myself a pat in the back wondering at the same time as to whether I was really the one who wrote those poems, while for some others I wondered why I wrote those poems at all. In majority of the cases the poet and critic in me ‘now’ did not agree with the poet in me ‘then’. Finally the number of poems that passed my quality test fell far short of the numbers required.
There was another consideration though. When I confided my plan to publish a book of poems to a few trusted ones, their reaction was: it is OK. But, now a days who buys and reads a book of poetry. There may be a tingling of truth in what they said. Every time I visit famous book stores in the city I struggle to locate the poetry section. After I locate it The few books in the section are either translation of Hindi film songs or anthology of well Known poems that are available in free domain. The works of poets (other than the filmy variety) who are alive and kicking somehow never make it to the standard book stores.
Then I remembered once I had sent a manuscript to a couple of publishing houses. One reputed publishing company had shown interest in the book. Even they wanted me to make certain changes in the manuscript. I carried out those changes and resent the manuscript. They did not reply for a long time. After being reminded their reply as I interpret was something like this:
“Your book is Ok. But as you are a first time author and not widely well known we are a bit worried about its commercial potential.”
It also means that in India, if you are an already well known person or some kind of a celebrity whatever trash you may write will be take up for publication. Hence, in spite of finding some merit in my writing the publishers were worried about its sell potential.
Another alternate was to again approach some new traditional publishers. But, as I have already said in the first paragraph I had set myself a deadline for publication of my first book. Hence, I decided to publish it as an e-book on kindle using the Kindle Direct Publishing Platform.
The book is a work of non-fiction and meant for leisurely read to provide entertainment as well as insight into many personal and social issues. It also includes a few articles (after a lot of re-work) that appeared first on this blog, while some are written exclusively for this book. While some articles are thoroughly humorous, others too have a shade or two. Even though meant for leisurely read, the discerning reader will find glimpses into the nature of reality.
Usually, the commuting to and from the office is the most unpleasant experiences of a working day in a city like Bengaluru so much so that when someone asks, ‘what is the distance of your office from home’, I say, ‘it is one and a half hours to two hours depending upon the mood of the traffic of the day’. Of course, in terms of physical distance it is only 25 km one way.
But today while going to office flowers blossom in me.
In spite of the fact that it is a post holiday working day. Today is Diwali. It must be a holiday for the Indians in the north of the Vindhyas. However, for many offices including the central government ones, yesterday was the official Diwali holiday. The thin traffic indicates that in spite of it being a working day, many thought in true Indian spirit that a day like Diwali ruled in favour of staying at home over whiling away time on mundane office affairs. I also learn that officially it is Diwali off day for some.
It is such a pleasant experience to drive on Bengaluru roads on some of the busiest routes on a working day with thin traffic. I ruminate whether there is a remote possibility that in distant future a time will come when every working day traffic will be like this. Why limit the traffic problem to only working days. Even on weekends you may have a horrible time while negotiating with the Bengaluru traffic on many stretches. I am reminded of those lazy weekends twenty five years back when I used pedal around Bengaluru the whole day sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by a friend. If I do it now the doctor may, in stead of calling it a healthy habit, discount my life expectancy by five years.
But today flowers blossom in me. Bangalore is a cool beautiful city. What make it hell are its potholed roads, made worse by the incessant rain of the last couple of weeks. And the bumper to bumper laborious traffic. Today, free from the care of the bumper to bumper traffic, I can smell and feel the cool breeze passing through the roadside trees.
Flowers also blossom in me for another reason. Thank God, I am not a Delhite. I will be able to blast a few crackers along with my son and his friends at least this year. For I don’t know when the ban- cracker-to -avoid- pollution syndrome that originated in Delhi will infect Bangalore, which is as cursed as Delhi in terms of vehicular pollution.
Of course our liberal and secular sensibilities do not allow us to ban certain types of highly polluting vehicles and industries, and inhuman practices of privileged religions.
In those good olddays of Doordarshan raj, I never had a fight with my wife for the remote, it being still a remote possibility when I had my first TV. Otherwise also you could not fight as there was no alternate channel to switch to.
Ironically, the first Doordarshan telecast that I watched was the live coverage of the final journey of our Late PM Indira Gandhi. A TV station had started functioning in Berhampur a few months back. The college hostel where I was staying did not have TV. In front of our college hostel were the staff quarters of Berhampur’s only Government women’s college. A staff member who had a TV was generous enough to allow us to witness the telecast. I was lucky enough to be inside the drawing room through a connection while many of my hostel mates were jostling outside the door and the windows to catch a glimpse. It was 1984.
Subsequently our hostel got a TV set. But it was not untill I got married and had my own TV that I became a DD convert. From college Days till the days of bachelorhood in Indian Air Force the only serials I remember watching regularly were Ramayana and Mahabharat, which were of course hugely popular in those days.
Whatever becomes scarce or does not happen frequently, becomes fascinating. Thus was the case with the weekly feature films or, chitrahaar – the half hour show of film songs telecast twice a week.
Apart from the regional films, the serial Chanakya was one program that I eagerly waited to watch every weekend. Some of the other programs of my interest, as far as I remember, were: Jaspal Bhati’s Flop Show, Malgudi Days, Zaban Sambhal ke, Bharat Ek Khoj, Tamas, World This Week, Karamchand and programs on classical/folk music & dance.
Even after the availability of a plethora of channels, I have not lost touch with DD. It is only on DD that one may get to watch programs on Indian classical dance and music. Some of the programs on DD Bharati, DD India and DD Kishan are quite interesting. If you want a wrap up of the important events of the day, I think DD news is still the best. On DD channels you may get to watch a lot of documentaries of interesting people and places. Some of these programs are far better than those shown on National Geographic.
Here I would like to make a special mention of a film that I watched on DD. It was Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Ek Ruka Hua Faisala’. Later on I learnt that the film was a remake of an award winning English movie Twelve Angry Men. The movie is about the deliberations of a jury constituted to decide whether a nineteen year old should be pronounced guilty for killing his father. Eleven members of the jury are in a hurry to vote ‘guilty’ while there is a lone dissenter who succeeds at the end, in convincing the jury, after a lot of patient persuasions that they should not take decision based on popular opinion, or personal biases.
In my previous post, based on a couple of movies, I have touched upon the issue of fair trail that happens only in the world of fiction. Ek ruka hua faisala is one more such movie. But, it is an eye opener, provided the people who take such decisions watch and learn from this movie. In addition to immaculate direction, superb performance of all the actors in the movie (Pankaj Kapur, Annu Kapur, Aziz Kureshi to name a few) created such an impression in my mind that I remember the movie vividly even after three decades.
Like any other metro city, Bengaluru is host to numerous events – literary, culinary, cultural, artistic, social & unsocial, open and clandestine. Much as am I tempted to attend many of the events, a person of not so affluent means like me is not only restrained from the financial angle, but also by the limited availability of leisure time after spending eight hours on a job and four hours on commuting on a daily basis.
Even on weekends Bangalore traffic can be nasty quite often. In spite of all the constraints, I try not to miss the literary events, especially the literature festivals. I have already shared my experience of Times Literature Festival and Bangalore Literature Festival on this blog.
I was one of the invitees to the #BererXp Indiblogger meet Bangalore. I was eagerly looking forward to attend the event as it was an opportunity to interact with other bloggers from the city. However, an unexpected personal problem that popped up at the last moment ensured that I was deprived of this opportunity. Nevertheless, I had the vicarious pleasure of attending the meet by reading the accounts of the events shared by fellow bloggers.
There is a large Air Force Station where I stay. As there are people from all over India, many cultural events of other states are organised here on a regular basis. These are kinds of religio-cultural events like Durga Puja, Ganesh Puja and the car festival of Lord Jagannath. Alongside the puja rituals, there would be galore of cultural events everyday. Even though these are organsied by specific communities, people from all walks of life participate in the events wholeheartedly.
It is only in Bengaluru that I have had the opportunity to watch many kinds of national and international sports events. My first stint in Bengaluru was from 1989 to 1995. Then I was serving in Indian Air Force. Whenever there was any international cricket tournament, the authorities sought defense personnel for security duties. I had the opportunity to attend a couple of international cricket matches as a security supervisor. Those days security duties were not that risky like in these days when every crowd gathering is a potential target for terrorist modules working in India. Moreover, as security supervisor one had access to all areas of the stadium.
The test matches were sleepy no doubt, the saving grace being one had a chance to see the sport stars in flesh and blood. Even the pace of the One Day matches were not as frantic as the matches have been after the T-20 format came into existence.
Since long I have stopped being an enthusiast of the game of cricket. During the last season of the IPL when a friend came up with a couple of complimentary tickets for the IPL, reluctantly though, I accompanied my family to witness the match. Oh boy, did I witness the match.
We reached the venue half an hour before the start of the match. The stadium was overflowing with people. Loud speakers, or should I say super loud speakers were blaring out music and the anchor’s shouts competing with the noise from the crowd. The decibel levels were so high that it would have turned the tender ears of a young kid deaf for life.
Then the match started.
Hardly had the ball escaped from the bowler’s hand when the spectators sitting in from of us stood up with flags in hand, shouting and waving. There was no way to witness anything that was happening on the ground. This happened again and again. We had to look at the giant digital screen for a replay in order to know what was happening in front of us, on the ground below. Finally I calculated that for the three and half hours that the match was played, we watched the match directly for half an hour and the spectators backs and flags and the giant digital screen for three hours.
I am reminded of a similar incident when I stayed back to attend the rock concert organised to mark the culmination of a literary festival. The audience was a mixture of those who had come exclusively for the rock concert (The rock star’s young fans) and those who had actually come for the literature festival but stayed back out of curiosity for the rock concert (consisting mostly of middle aged and old fellows).
At the scheduled time, the rock star came, saw and went back. After some time an announcement came that the rock star was annoyed that the audience members were sitting in chairs. So, the organizers had no way but to remove the chairs so that the rock star would come back to regale the audience. A couple of volunteers came to hound out all the young and old, strong and weak occupying the chairs.
After the last one of the chairs was removed from the venue the concert began. Every one was standing and standing with their mobile in video mode, flash on, while those with a little short in height struggled to have a glimpse of the rock star. With so many flash lights on, the elaborate colour lighting of the stage lost its sheen.
The rock star sang one line and asked the audience to repeat the line ten times. It was obvious that his hard core fans knew all his songs verbatim. After some time the fans sang his songs even without being asked. The hall was jam-packed and there was hardly any space to move about. A section of the audience started to dance unmindful of causing any physical injury to their neighbors.
Confused, bewildered and feeling out of time and space, I fled.
Maybe, we are living in an age where ‘sound’ packaging is taking centre stage in all walks of life pushing the content to the sidelines.
Today the book market is flooded with self help books. It is another issue that that the majority of the self help books do not help as was found out in a survey done some time back.
Before picking up a self help book one should do this simple probing. Did this author succeed in any thing other than in the field of writing self help literature. Recently, a book titled Success Mantra became a best seller in India. At least it was claimed to be so. The writer of the book is Mr. Subrat Roy and he wrote this book while he was in jail for his fraudulent practices. No doubt he has been successful. But what kind of success are we talking of?
Those who never worked in an office writer books about how to succeed in the workplace. Sometimes, people who failed in every field they tried their hands on, write books about how to achieve success and suddenly the book becomes a best seller.
Similarly, I come across a number of motivational speakers whose only claim to fame is being a successful motivational speaker. Many of them chose this field because they could not stick to and persevere in their earlier chosen fields. Some of them might have been kicked out of their earlier jobs. Yet, they are hired by companies by paying hefty sums to motivate their employees to work hard and be more productive.
It is not that I have been a strict adherent of the wisdom I am dispensing here. I have also read a number of best seller self help books. One thing I have noticed is that if you pick any book, not only does it say why this book is the best book, it also tries to convince you that all the other books are totally out of time and useless. Now examine another scenario. Suppose there are 100 self help bestsellers. Every books proclaims that other ninety nine books would not work. So by the authors’ own collective admissions 99% of self help books do not help.
But all self help books are not totally useless. Occasionally, you may comes across a book that dispenses wisdom and insights to uplift you.
I have come across friends and colleagues who are addicted to self help books. They do not read anything else. If you are one of them, remember: there had been successful people since the time of Adam, long before the Americans started flooding the market with self-help books.
Of course, you may take solace in this positive possibility. If you read enough number of books on how to become a motivated productive employee, one day you my end up becoming one of those motivational authors or speakers.
Well, what has been your experience? Please leave your opinions.
On one hand, in our ancient literature, we deified her, put her on high pedestal as the female version of God calling her the epitome of power as Durga or, the bestower of wealth as Laxmi, or the dispenser of wisdom as Saraswati.
On the other hand, in two of our most revered epics we held her responsible as the root of all conflicts. We gave her less rights and enormous responsibilities, in one case to manage five husbands and in another, to pass through fire to prove her fidelity.
In China women were not considered to be possessing a soul so that they could be treated and traded like any inanimate object. In the gambling episode of Mahabharata an impression is given that women could be put on bet like any other material object. Thus, treating women like an object has been the bane of all ancient civilizations. Even in a so called progressive free thinking country like US, it was not untill 1920 that women got voting rights. Even today, in certain religions, it is perfectly legal to treat women as dispensable objects.
Has the situation in India changed much?
Large segments of Indian population still are uneducated, underfed and live in backward areas. Fetal killing of potential female child is still prevalent in man y parts of India. No doubt many positive steps have been taken by successive governments like reservation in the local bodies and the latest campaign- “beti padhao beti bachao“. But, unless the mindsets of majority of people change, there will not be much change in the ground reality is spite of incentive schemes.
In the context of today’s India I would suggest the following six point program to empower women. I know a few of the suggestions are too serious to be implemented. Nevertheless, please do not laugh these off.
Beti padhao and beti bachao should not just remain a slogan and should be implemented across all segments of society.
In family settings it is seen that women act against other women. Many elderly ladies give preferential treatments to male children giving the impression that their female siblings are children of a lesser god. Thus, since early childhood wrong impression is given about gender parity.
Even if women are give positions of power, quite often they are just used as proxies, as happened with Rabri Devi in Bihar. Ultimately, it boils down to the mindset of people. The society must be comfortable with women enjoying all kinds of rights at par with men. No discrimination should be made by the family or society or the state in terms of opportunities and compensation.
The time has come for women themselves to come forward. I think it will be a mark of true feminism when women consider the plight of the less fortunate ones and fight for women of all part of the society in stead of restricting their movement to a few fashionable or intellectuals issues.
Now the more serious ones –
All the feminists should come forward united at least for this issue. Now a days, a lot of wife bashing jokes are in circulation in social media giving it the impression that women are already empowered and there is not need to do anything further. They should call for a blanket ban on all such jokes and if required file a case in Supreme Court like it happened sometime back when someone filed a petition against Santa Banta jokes. (To hell with your sense of humour, you male chauvinists)
Last but not the least, Modiji should create a separate ‘women empowerment’ ministry. As the minister for this department he should choose … no no not Sushma Swaraj, …….. no no not Smriti Irani…. but Rahul Gandhi himself. You may say that he does not belong to his party. Nevertheless, Modiji should show some compassion. After all, Rahul Gandhi is the only politician who has used the term ‘women empowerment’ more number of times than his biological age. Moreover, this is an opportunity for Modiji to compensate for all the jibes he has taken at Rahul till now.
When I first came across the word Half Girlfriend during the launch of the eponymous book written by our great Indian novelist and twenty first century intellectual Sriman Chetan Bhagat ji, I wondered what might be the meaning of such a word.
In Indian hotels, we are used to the rate card of a full plate as well as a half plate. You have half versions of tea and coffee. In Indian tradition, after marriage the girl becomes ardhangini.
Of course, the concept of ardhangini is understandable. After marriage the wife and husband become one unit. So, each unit is half of this arrangement. But, our male dominated society never uses the word ardhanga which should be the synonym to mean the husband.
Is this girl gifted with only half of the limbs that a normal girl has? Then, her boyfriend must indeed be a great hero to be emulated by all Chetan Bhagat devotees? (by the way, bhagat is derived from the word bhakt– a devotee)
Or, the protagonist boy has two girlfriends concurrently, thus, each one deserving only to be a half girlfriend?
When I confided my confusion to a dear friend and Chetan Bhagat fan and who goes by the name Ketan, he suggested me to read the book to clear my confusion. I shuddered at the prospect. The last time I attempted to read one of his books, after two pages I had such mental indigestion that it took me two weeks to recover. Such heavy stuff.
Imagine. If I struggle for a day and break my head to make sense of only one word invented by this great innovative author, what will happen to my chetan man (conscious mind) if I go through the whole book.
So, I let the meaning of ‘half girlfriend’ remain a mystery. What is going to happen after all. Already I am living with half a million mysteries of the universe that may not get solved in a million years to come. That includes the greatest unsolved mystery of all times, “Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?
At the same time I am afflicted by another mystery. The name half girlfriend is an insult to the women folk. To be more politically correct he could have used the word half boyfriend. Is Chetan, a misogynist?
I expected some feminist organsiations to take up the gauntlet, come in an Arnab Goswami show to spread the fire of protest so wide that the nation wanted to know only one thing – How dare Chetan Bhagat be more incoherent than the host of the only fire powered show in India?
The nation wide controversy would have made Chetan rolling on the floor laughing all the way to the bank while the sales figure of his books reached the moon.
But all this did not happen. Chetan did laugh his way to the bank, though. But, what happened to the feminists? Did they think it too trivial an issue considering the history of this nation in treating its female species, or, all of them got converted to the cult of Chetan Bhagat?
Of course, there were some halfhearted protest responses. One wrote a book titled Half Boyfriend. Another wrote a blog post titled Half Girlfriend/ Half Boyfriend.
A few days back, Ketan phoned me. He said he was speaking to me from Thailand. He had taken a short break from his vacation activities just to speak to me.
“Hey buddy. You know what. The movie trailer is out.”
“What movie?”, I asked.
“The movie based on Chetan’s book, Half girlfriend.” He was so enthusiastic – like a cult member out to recruit.
“You wanted to know the meaning of half girlfriend. Well, see the trailer”.
He sent me the link. I opened the link and saw the trailer. My confusion got more compounded.
So what is a half girlfriend?
A character in the trailer, who seems to be the protagonist’s friend, tries to describe the boy girl relationship as – Dost se thodasa jyada, boyfriend se thoda sa kam. Somehow it makes some sense, vaguely though.
But man, how do you decide it fits the definition of a half girlfriend/boyfriend or, a half relationship. How do you assign a numerical value to an abstract concept.
Of course, there seems nothing special about the relationship that the author tries to hype up by assigning it a value of half. In any boy meets girl story, there comes a point from where the relationship could go either way. It is just a short lived phase of a relationship.
But the relationship must have a number. Otherwise, it will not bring good luck to the book. Thus spake Chetan’s astrologer.
Yes, it is the same astrologer that Ekta Kapoor is affiliated to. Let me reproduce the enlightened conversations between the astrologer and Chetan here:
Astrologer: Look Chetan. I have already given alphabet K to Ekta. Knowing your type, for you no alphabet. Only numbers will do. Use any number between five and half in your title.
Chetan: Surely I will do. By the way, anybody who knows five words (three English and two Hindi) can not only understand my book, but also aspire to be a best selling author like me. But sir, after spending four rigorous years in IIT, and later on at IIM, this much I know that half is not a natural number.
Astrologer: It is a combination of two numbers one and two. So don't worry.
After a few years Chetan wrote a book and wanted to titled it - Point Five Someone, to sound like the earlier one and to ride on its popularity all the way to his bank account. But before sending it to the publisher he wanted to have the final word of advice from his astrologer.
Chetan: Sir, I have written another book about a guy who is not even worth five points. Shall I call the book Point Five Someone?
Astrologer: No no. Make it more spicy. Give him a girl friend and call the book Half Girlfriend. It will achieve two things - confusion and curiosity. They go hand in hand. Good for marketing, you know.
Chetan: By the way Sir, I thought you are an expert in astrology only. But, I see you are good in marketing too.
Astrologer: Ha ha. Why not? let me tell you. There isn't much difference between you and me. Both us make millions by selling truckloads of bullshit.
Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him. His books adorn the bookshelves of half of my friends, occupy at least half a self in any library you visit, cover half of all the total space available in leading book stores- offline or online. He is on TV- on talk shows and f**k shows. (I was thinking of a match making show where he acts like a f**ked up host).
He writes half banal and half unintelligible centre page articles on national newspapers. Like his books, movies based on his books make millions. Ketan, says that the movies are not exact adaptations of his books, but are loosely based.
Oh God, that is the saving grace. Being loosely based, the movies can take any kind of spin off.
It is said that the Americans are so adept in sales and marketing that they can sell real estate located on the moon to the Chinese. Well, Yankey dudes, here in India we have got the baap of all salesmen.
First of all, here is wishing my dear reader a wonderful New Year. May you remain cheerful and passionate irrespective of whether a few wishes got fulfilled or not.
Note that I have not used the word happy. There are reasons for it – profound and scary reasons that google threw at me in form of quotes while I was searching for something else. Take the first example:
So there is no point in having good health and selfishness if, these are not backed by a healthy dose of stupidity. However, it provides for a lot of hope. To be happy is not that big deal after all. It paints a very rosy picture of human society since time immemorial- the vast majority of human society have never been as unhappy as we have made it out to be.
The following one is a very strong argument as to why one should not wish another anything related to happiness:
However, the following is the scariest of them all:
And finally a ray of hope, provided by non other than one of those highest priests of Christianity:
Of course, I am not sure whether all/some/any of the above quotes have been attributed to the right source. Now a days on social media, every now and then one comes across strange quotes attributed to strange people. Sometimes, people making up these quotes do not seem to have even elementary knowledge of history. So, Swami Vivekananda gives very sound advice on the side effects of social media and Mahatma Gandhi warns us about the impending disasters when one harbours thoughts like those of Donald Trump.
But I am sure the following one must have been spoken (or, at least thought of) by Adolf Hitler, who swayed even the most intelligent persons of Germany to his Nazist point of view with his banal rhetoric. I am afraid this must also be the secret of success of writers like Chetan Bhagat churning out best sellers and Salman Khan movies making multiple crores.
Here is wishing you again, a happy (er. sorry) , a wonderful new year.
Three blogposts that you may have missed
I started this blog in July this year.
A blogger is not like an ideal parent for whom all children should be equal favourites. Nevertheless, he has paternal instincts. It is natural for parents to give special attention to that child who lagged behind other siblings while at the same time proudly bringing to attention of the special skills of a particular child. The following blogposts from this year are a mix of both.