Once there was, and once there wasn’t…

Elif Shafak (Elif Şafak) is the strongest voice among the contemporary Turkish writers and/or female writers globally. Her unique style of writing, storytelling and narrating is one of a kind. I have been reading her since I got one of her most acclaimed book “The Forty Rules of Love” as a gift from a very close friend, someone I trusted with books.Elif_shafak

I have always been a big fan of Rumi and yet I hadn’t read anything on his life. I always had heard of Shams and yet I had no idea what it meant to be Shams, and what was the whole story behind the mere narration. In her book “The Forty Rules of Love” Elif Shafak approaches the story from a brand new perspective and narrates it to the readers with both sweetness and bitterness and adds a flavour of love, she quotes forty different rules of love throughout the book. It is one of the few books which I did not need a bookmark for. In fact, this book quenched my thirst of curiosity on Rumi, and what made him the person he became.

The second book I read from Elif Shafak was “The Bastard of Istanbul”. In this exceptional book of her Elif shafak for the first time paints two very deep issues in a very deserving canvas, the Armenian genocide and the Turkish identity – pre and post Ataturk. Shafak confronts and openly criticizes her country’s violent past in relation to the Armenian genocide of 1915 which eventually results in her being sentenced to three years in prison for writing on the “forbidden” issue. Reading the book, many questions comes about in one’s mind. Another interesting fact about this book is that the humour is priceless and amusing. There are some very funny and heart-rending moments in the narration, one cannot decide whether to laugh or to sob. Continue reading

Pedal Power Machine

dscf1324OLPC Afghanistan have developed a prototype human power machine that can charge the laptop as it runs / is being used and can even be run without difficulty by typical 3rd/4th graders.

The system connects the Freeplay hand crank with pedals underneath to enable the XO to be used as long as desired at home, into the night, etc; and it requires no additional or backup battery.

The human power system was designed by OLPC Afghanistan’s deployment technician Akmal Waak and Mike Dawson.  We hope that this will make XO deployment in the many areas beyond the power grid more effective.

The next prototype will be built to be smaller to be carried around and simply placed on the floor with rubber pads.

You can watch the demonstration of this machine in this video. Full specifications / diagrams will be published through the OLPC Wiki as soon as possible.

Struggle for food ends in tragedy

stamp608Eighteen people were suffocated to death during a stampede in Karachi, Pakistan on Monday as poverty-stricken women battled for a free bag of flour being distributed by a philanthropist in Khohri Garden. The dead reportedly include a number of children as well.

‘I would have never come here to get flour if the inflation rate was not as high. The price hike this year has made it difficult for us to feed our large families and the government does not seem to care. Every day I stand in long queues to purchase atta (flour) at Rs10 per kg, but return home empty-handed. Today, when I heard that free flour was being distributed by someone, I immediately rushed to try my luck here as well,’ said Amina, a maid at a government school in Lyari.

‘As soon as I reached out to get a bag of flour, two women jumped on my back and I fell down. The crowd stepped on me and I couldn’t breathe for a while and then fell unconscious. My neighbour brought me to the hospital.’

Amina added that although this is her yearly routine, the turnout of women in bachat bazaars is much more this Ramazan. ‘I don’t just have my family to feed but that of my sisters as well who are widows and live with me. I visit these bachat bazaars every year to buy essentials at subsidised rates and end up making a lot of friends as I stand in a queue.’

Since men are away from home during the day, it is mostly women who end up spending most of their day outside utility stores. When asked if she would think of heading to a free ration stall after Monday’s episode, Amina said: ‘Yes I will. It is the woman’s responsibility to look after the family. And I will do anything to feed my children,
even if I have to risk my life.’

Causes of Poverty

  • Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
  • 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).

Today, over 26,500 children died around the world

Around the world, 27–30,000 children die every day. That is equivalent to 1 child dying every 3 seconds, 20 children dying every minute, a 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring almost every week, or 10–11 million children dying every year. Over 50 million children died between 2000 and 2005. The silent killers are poverty, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. In spite of the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage.