Thursday, February 20, 2020

Week 6 StoryLab: Language

I really enjoyed these spelling and grammar videos as it gave me a lot of insight to the language I am native in, as well as how it can be compared to my second language, Urdu, which I learned from my parents growing up. The videos gave you information on how to better your language and grammar. This was done by telling you what exactly, for example, a semicolon did, how it was used, and when it can be applied. The video also gave background as to how it was developed, which allowed for more insight as to why we use certain punctuation in the first place. I enjoyed the video on how languages evolved, as well. This helped me understand more about my native language, English, and made me curious as to how my home language became a part of the mix.

The video on why grammar matters was also informative on the topic of language. I always believed grammar was important, as it is, in general, the building blocks to getting your point across in any scenario. Whether you are writing a letter to a friend, E-mailing your professor about a question you had, or meeting someone for the first time, it is almost always your method of first-impression. The video reinforced my prior thoughts on grammar and language, and helped me realize even more what a powerful tool it all is. It was also interesting learning about how many verb tenses there are in English, and it also helped me understand how complex the English language is as a whole.

Link to the story lab playlist

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Reading Notes: PDE Mahabharata, Part B

Vidura is the brother of Pandu and Dhritarashtra and wiser than both. He was never able to become king because his mother was a servant. He is loyal to the sons of Pandu and a member of Dhritarasthra's court.

the Pandava brothers lived in the wilderness with their mother Kunti before she brought them to live in Hastinapura. Now they are living in the wilderness once again, and they will face many dangers while they living in hiding.

Unlike Shurpanakha's ill-conceived love for Rama in the Ramayana, the love affair between Bhima and the rakshasi Hidimbi is a happy one!

After defeating the rakshasa Hidimba, Bhima will now do battle with an asura: Baka, also known as Bakasura.

The Pandavas are living in hiding, disguised as brahmins, but news of Draupadi's swayamwara brings them out of hiding — although they remain in disguise. You will also get to read about Draupadi's supernatural birth in this segment, along with the supernatural birth of her brother Dhrishtadyumna.

You have seen some dramatic swayamwaras so far: Sita's swayamwara in the Ramayana, the swayamwara when Bhishma abducted the three brides earlier in the Mahabharata — and now the dramatic swayamwara of Draupadi.

Things will now take an unexpected turn: Arjuna won Draupadi as his bride at the swayamwara, but in obedience to their mother's accidental command, all five Pandavas will now become Draupadi's husbands. It is not uncommon for kings to have many wives in the epics, but for a woman to have five husbands at once is not something anyone would expect!

This story provides a more detailed account of Draupadi's previous lifetime as Nalayni, and the "karma" that results in her having five husbands. 

Finally, Yudhishthira becomes a king in his own right, building a great royal stronghold at Indraprastha on the river Yamuna

 As you can imagine, making a marriage work with five husbands and just one wife is complicated. Arjuna accidentally breaks the rules established for their living arrangements, and as a result he must leave for a period of individual exile, and during that exile, he has a series of extraordinary adventures! The encounter with the Naga princess Ulupi is one of the most famous of those adventures.

This wonderful episode of Arjuna's exile will probably remind you of a fairy. It comes from Kincaid's retelling of the Mahabharata which you might want to consider as a reading option later on; as you can see, he has a lively and vivid storytelling style.

The king is reluctant for Arjuna to marry his daughter because he needs her to have a son to carry on the royal succession. So, Arjuna and Chitra marry and have a son, but the son stays in Manipur and goes on to become king. There will be a dramatic encounter between Arjuna and his son when, many years later, Arjuna returns to Manipur.

Arjuna has a special connection to Krishna, and in this episode you will see how he comes to marry Subhadra, who is Krishna's sister.

This episode tells about a famous adventure that Arjuna and Krishna have together. The meeting with Maya, the divine architect of the gods, will prove to be a crucial event in the series of events (leading to catastrophe!) that will take place when Arjuna returns home to Indraprastha. About Maya: this is the masculine for of the name , as opposed to the feminine form, Mayā. The masculine Maya is an asura, sometimes called Mayasura, while the feminine Maya is the goddess of the illusion that we call reality.

Mayasura proves true to his promise and builds an amazing palace for the Pandavas, one which drive Duryodhana even more mad with jealousy.

It is now time for Yudhishthira to declare himself a supreme monarch by performing a Rajasuya sacrifice. This will require that he confront a rival king, Jarasandha, and it will also lead to a violent confrontation between Krishna and Shishupala, the King of Chedi.

The coming catastrophe now begins to take shape: just as a kshatriya (member of the royal warrior caste) cannot refuse a challenge to battle, he also cannot refuse a challenge to attend a gambling match.

Draupadi's fate is an essential part of the story here, and she protests eloquently and loudly about the events that have taken place in the gambling hall.

As the scene continues, Bhima in particular will swear some terrible oaths, and the rest of the epic will be driven by the cycle of revenge that has now been set into motion.

There will be a second match, and it will end almost as badly as the first match, with no reprieve. As bad omens occur, you will see people shouting "Swashti! Swasthi" which is indeed related to the word "swastika," an ancient symbol of good luck in India, later misappropriated by the Nazis.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Reading Notes: PDE Mahabharata, Part A

Explanation of how Vyasa becomes the dictator of the Mahabharata to the elephant-headed god Ganesha. The beginning plot for Vyasa's birth is laid out.

Devavrata is introduced, an important character; is also called Bhisma, son of King Shantanu and the goddess Ganga. He is a human being but possesses the powers of the eight gods known as Vasus. Satyavati is reintroduced. She is the new love interest of King Shantanu after his first wife Ganga had left him. The story also describes how King Shantanu's son, Ganga, got his nickname Brishma. It means terrible oath. It is because Devavrata takes a terrible oath so that King Shantanu can marry Satyavati.

Brishma takes the three daughters of Kashi to be brides of Shantanu and Satyavati. Brishma brings back three women to be the wives of Vichitravirya, but only two will become brides of his. Amba, the third woman, has a story of her own and will return later. Although having two wives, he could not have any children as he dies.

Pandu gets sons, even with a curse on him, and eventually dies. Dhritarashtra is introduces, as well as his sons. The dominant theme is set: Duryodhana, his oldest son, and the rivalry between the Pandavas and Kauravas, led by Duryodhana.

Kunti is described to raise the five sons of Pandu alone. She eventually brings them to Dhritarashtra, a blind king, and gives them a home and raises the sons.

Duryodhana is described to hate his cousins and attempts to kill Bhima, the second of Pandu's sons, and the strongest. Bhima goes down into the underworld king of the might serpents, nagas, and becomes supernaturally strong.

Drona is introduced, who is the guru to the young Pandavas and to the Kauravas, their cousins. The Pandavas are great students of Drona, and this makes Duryodhana, King Dhritarashtra's eldest son, jealous.

Ekalavya, an aboriginal boy wanting to be Drona's pupil is introduced. With Pandavas and Kauravas trained as warriors, they display their skills in a tournament. Bhrima engages in a mock fight with Duryodhana and it becomes very serious. Arjuna is also introduced as having the greatest skills of all the princes. As it seems he may win, Karna appears, the son of Kunti and the sun god, born when she was but a girl before marrying King Pandu. He was abandoned as a baby and was raised by a low-caste charioteer. Neither he nor Arjuna realize that they are brothers, son of Kunti.

After the princes have completed Drona's training, he demands the guru Dakshina a payment. He wants the boys to bring about his revenge against King Drupada, his childhood friend who had treated him so badly.

Pandava becomes more successful, and Duryodhana becomes more jealous. He decides he will get rid of Pandavas and Kunti once and for all.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Tech Tip: Text to Voice

I find this tech tip extremely, extremely useful! I just recently got a laptop, so I am lacking on these tools, and I feel as though this is very useful for assignments such as reading notes. I feel like I can take notes much more smoothly and efficiently with this method, and will use it in the future. I just started an audiobook, actually, "As Breath Becomes Air," so I hope to get more immersed into audiobooks in the future! I hope to also be able to use this tech tip more, as well! :)

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Week 5 Story: Truth or Dare

There is posted version on my site!

Sometimes when you are in the moment, you just get too ahead of yourself. When there's something that you want right in front of you - so very close to you, everything becomes a blur and you do everything it takes to get it.

It all happened during Jessica's Halloween party, the party everyone looks forward to all year. Super sweet girl, and also very rich. She's got a four story mansion with several pools, maids, and everything she ever wants. Even chill parents, who are letting her throw this party while they go out to dinner.  My parents didn't know I was going, but it was okay, I had the watch to keep me safe.

The watch I mean is one my grandpa gave me; it had the ability to do lots of things actually, including read minds, go invisible, and even super strength. I could use it if necessary.

The party went as usual; people got drunk, people played some "pong," people went swimming, blah, blah. The friend group was getting bored of the usual so we thought of something else fun.

Josh, Jessica, Paul, Maria, and me decided it was time for some Truth or Dare. Maria ended up picking dare and kissed Paul, even though she has a boyfriend. Paul wussed out and picked true, and he quickly revealed that he had been cheating on all his exams this year. Josh took a dive into a pool after daring himself, and Jessica, being the daredevil she is, took a round at the beer keg.

It was my turn, and all eyes were on me. Wanting to impress the crowd, I went for dare; I guess they were running out of ideas, because they chose me for the beer keg, as Jessica had just finished.

"Come on! Don't be scared, you chose dare you HAVE to do it. It was tons of fun, too!" said Jessica, wiping the beer residue off her own lips, clearly very drunk.

I have never drank before. How would this affect me? I'm not even 21, this could be so bad for me.

I went for it anyway, and took the biggest swig of my life. How did it go? Terrible. I puked everywhere and passed out, to keep it short. Things only got worse, however. The cops showed up at the door, demanding to be let in; they had come back for the fourth time after telling everyone to keep it down, this was their limit. Too dazed to use my watch for safety, I just let everything overwhelm me. This was the end.

Everyone scurried like cockroaches, as I was still too dazed to get up. This was it for me, I was underage drinking, my parents thought I was at a friend's house studying, and I was not feeling so good. I was going to get caught. Suddenly, Jessica came to the rescue; I tried to make out as much as I could, but all I remember is her, very tired herself, carrying me over a fence and taking me to her car where she kept me hidden and safe.

After I got to my senses, I thanked her again, and again.

"It's no big deal, a friend is a friend," she said.

I told her I owed her ANYTHING, anything at all. Whatever she wanted, she can have. I said this because I knew she already had everything, there wasn't anything she could possibly want, right?

"Okay. I want your watch," she quickly replied. I told her I couldn't give it to her, it was special to me.

"You said anything! You're not a liar are you? Not after I just saved your butt?" She angrily replied.

She was never like this. She was clearly very drunk, but I had to give her what I promised. I had to fulfill it. So I handed it over. It was clearly a stupid mistake, but we were both drunk and I suppose I forgot not only the power value, but the generational value of it, as it was in my family for decades.

And that's all I can remember. I'm laying in my bed wondering how the hell I managed myself to do that last night. Now, I need to get that watch back. But how?

--- Author's Note ---

I took my own story from the beginning story of Rama, where Rama's mother and taken care of Dasharatha one day and he, in return, said he would do anything she wanted after she had taken care of him while he was very ill. She requested that Rama be sent to exile for 14 years, and this was all just before he was going to get crowned as king. but in order to fulfill his promise on doing anything. This caused Rama to be exiled, all because Dasharatha had promised something and fulfilled it. I took a more modern approach to my rendition, and wanted it to make it more daring.

Story based on an online story of Rama: Sita Singles the Blues

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

More Ramayana Reading Notes: Online Film

Sita Sings the Blues

Couple is sleeping, while a cat hops around looking for food in the kitchen. It wakes up the couple until the wife feeds him, and the husband welcomes him back into bed lovingly. They fall asleep. The next day they are relaxing in the living room, and the husband gets a job in India.

Narrators appear, who are Indian characters who are confused about how dating works. They seem to be important religious figures. Background about some religious figures are given. A lineage between them is also established. Rama was about to be crowned and Kaikeyt took care of Dashratha while he had been sick. This caused Dashratha to give her any wish she desired, and she chose to have Rama exiled for 14 years. This lines up with the story of Rama (obviously, as it is)

He fulfills her wish, and exiles Rama. He does this by saying there was a tradition where he needed to be exiled for him to receive the crown. He is banished to the jungle then. He sends him lovingly, however, and told him to be strong. The wife, however, had no remorse for it all, as she clearly wanted him to be gone. Dashratha mourns over this, as he stayed true to his wish to Kaikeyt. He eventually passes away. Stories are different however, as some stories of Rama say that Dashratha died from a heart attack after having to do this deed, while others mention that he died over time, or he died because he was already in poor health. This goes back once again to how these stories can different renditions.

It was also importantly mentioned that when Rama was exiled by his father, he obeyed his wish and did as his father told him to without questioning or complaining about it. This is highlighted by the narrators as a good sense of character.

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Week 6 StoryLab: Language

I really enjoyed these spelling and grammar videos as it gave me a lot of insight to the language I am native in, as well as how it can be c...