The Extent of My Ignorance!!

Have you ever felt like an ignoramus and also humbled after reading a newspaper, a magazine or maybe even a novel?

I often feel that way. There are manifold reasons.

Let me explain them, as I take you through the November 5, 2022 edition of ‘Mint Lounge’. The choice of Newspaper was deliberate as I enjoy reading Mint Lounge. The edition was not deliberate — I just chose it.

The cover page is entitled, ‘Make yourself at home’. I wonder whether that means, get into comfortable clothes, sit in your comfortable lounging space with a nice hot cup of tea and some comfort food! And of course the Newspaper. There are however a few visual clues that say something else — scissors, measuring tape, reels of thread, cloth, pins — make yourself some accessories so comfortable that you don’t want to leave your home, post pandemic.

And as I turn the page –

Page 2 starts with ‘A note on the Issue’ — ‘Editorial’ is far too mundane. This note by the Editor says, ‘Get your hands dirty! Now I begin to see a connection — Make yourself at home by getting your hands dirty!

As I read through the article I realized it was all about DIY — acronyms for me are obscure, but even a child knows that DIY stands for, ‘Do it yourself’. I flipped through the pages and arrived at the Centre spread that shouted out loud, ‘Make yourself at home’ and when I turned the page — there were still many more all put together by the mint lounge team.

Here are a few of the many:

Style your own map wall paper’.

Interesting I thought, but I got lost!

Here’s the language; Create a custom wallpaper of your favourite neighbourhood using mobile apps and browser based applications like Alvarcarto.com. The website uses data from OpenStreetMap to create line maps.

Raise the bar at home’

This got me thinking about raising the bar, in my home décor or maybe my cooking but this had words like, stock up on different grape varieties, from Sangiover to Merlot and wine styles from ‘sparkling’ to ‘late harvest’. Heard of Short story white spirits, Sector gin or Maka Zai Rum? Enough to get you all dizzy!

Probably this DIY would be more my cup of tea or should I say coffee –

Use coffee from bean to dregs’

It is really about repurposing used coffee powder as an exfoliant and antioxidant.

I would love to have my own YouTube channel and so I could try ‘to build my own recording studio at home’ but I got all entangled in the ‘technology’ language and the devices that I decided not to venture into it. I should try to ‘create my own signature seasoning’ or ‘personalize my cotton tote bag’ or try to ‘ferment my own condiments and use up the brine too’.

The easiest one was to ‘make a natural mosquito repellent candle’ for after all we have dengue around.

I can’t give you the recipe for at the end it said, ‘Excerpted with permission from LiveSmart by Teja Lele with permission from HarperCollins India.

Though I am a dog person, I think I will create a ‘cat corner for feline friends’ — in our case for all the visiting cats. Decided to drop the idea — quite complicated and too much trouble.

Speaking of cats, on Page 3, I found this article, ‘When to spay your pet’. I was definitely interested and read further. I learnt that dogs and cats do not have a menstrual cycle — they undergo an estrus cycle. Did you know that male dogs and cats do not come into heat; they will only approach a female when she is on heat. The female is spayed but the male is neutered. The title, I think is putting the burden for keeping the canine and feline population in control on the female. Anyway I learnt about the reproductive health of dogs and cats.

The next caption read, ‘Lollapalooza comes to town’. — Who is this Lollapalooza? Stupid me!

It is a music festival. And then I got all caught up with words and phrases like post-punk revival icons, electro-pop rock act — Imagine.

Dragons will be the headliners for the inaugural Indian edition of the Lollapalooza music festival, due to be held in Mumbai on 28–29 January 2023. Uuuf I feel so old — I have never heard of Diplo and Zhu, Greta Van Fleet — Indie-pop exponents — ‘Cigarettes After Sex’ and Japanese Breakfast — ‘Imagine’. And Lollapalooza Music Festival is 31 years old!

While on the topic of music, the article, ‘The different notes of Balamuralikrishna’ caught my attention. This was a review of the book, ‘The many lives of Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna’ — An Authorized Biography by Veejay Sai. The review was by Lakshmi Sreeram — a Carnatic and Hindustani vocalist and writer.

A fascinating read and I have decided to buy the book to fill the huge gaping void of lack of knowledge of Indian Classical music or any music for that matter.

About a month ago, a friend suggested that we see ‘Kantara’. The headline The Adivasi’s struggle for Forest Rights comes alive in ‘Kantara.’ The article brings to the foreground the background of the Adivasis and the ‘Forest Rights Act’ — a major victory for them. But is it all smooth foresting? — The Adivasi’s have to continue to fight the big thorn pricks and burrs. Kantara should be on my bucket list to watch.

There is much more in the paper — culinary stories, art, clothes, literature, music, psychology and wellness — you name it — it is all there. Something for everyone.

Probably by now you have either got bored or wondering about the objective of the blog.

Please go back to my opening statement. Have you ever felt like an ignoramus and humbled? I often feel so ignorant when it dawns on me that I know so very little even in areas of my interests.

This lack of knowledge and skills are because of various reasons.

Lack of interest, inadequate reading, poor exposure, the need for specialists and so on.

It is probably a vicious circle — the home and the education system didn’t know any better because, in the first place they themselves were not exposed and lacked a well-rounded, holistic education. Perhaps partly also because of my own laziness! A suggestion for parents — and like a broken record, I repeat, it is not just about marks and percentages and taking up the sciences!

However, I have another concern — that is Reading skills and comprehension. It starts from the Pre-reading skills that enable one to gain knowledge, develop skills and the right attitudes and values. And wonder of wonders these broad objectives are developed through out a lifetime. Why else will I not continue to read something that I do not comprehend? It is in all probability, because I do not have the required Reading Vocabulary. It has been said that 60% of comprehension is accounted for by vocabulary. If one’s vocabulary is meagre, comprehension is certain to be a problem.

Also, with a variety and sheer bulk of reading material that is available, one has to learn to be flexible in the speed of reading and also develop the skill of deriving meaning in context, time and culture –hence a contextual vocabulary in addition to listening, speaking, reading and writing vocabularies.

So in all humility I say, I have a long way to go when it comes to Knowledge and Comprehension skills. Alas I am nearing 72!

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Phyllis Farias

Educational Consultant with 2 passions in life: the Child — from toddler to adolescent, and Education — education philosophy and psychology