What they say

One-week workshop for media students  Comments from 1st year students of MJMC, ASAS, Kochi. November 2015 The evaluation of the workshop can be accessed from here: EvaluationWorkshopMJMC ASASNov15 …

Source: What they say


Experiments with Science News

I had started thinking about science news in 1988 when I was confronted with the job of being a Course Director for a Post Graduate Diploma in Science Journalism, Jamia Millia Islamia. What constit…

Source: Experiments with Science News

Flash: Announcing the “YAP” finalists

Very proud of Nikki Pilania Chaudhary, India!


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What was the “YAP” project all about, again?

In the run-up to the upcoming #GCARD3 global event, we announced “YAP”, the Youth Agripreneurs Project. “YAP” is a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs or “agripreneurs” by GFAR (the Global Forum on Agricultural Research), CGIAR (the Global Agricultural Research Partnership) and YPARD (the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development).

Within “YAP” we want to encourage young agripreneurs from all over the world, to think about their projects and formulate their ideas in a concrete proposal. We also wanted to use our blog, as a platform where these entrepreneurs could showcase their projects, while encouraging feedback on their proposals through the comments on each proposal’s blogpost.

In addition, we wanted to show, to a wider audience, how many creative, inspiring and concrete ideas these young people had. Through the online voting process – determining the first selection -, we wanted…

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Yungdrung Tibetan Monastery, Solan, Shimla

Known variously as Yung Drung Ling, Bon and Yung Drung, a Tibetan Monastery nestles on the hillside, some twelve kilometres from the town of Solan. The monastery has a statue of Shenrab Mibo, and is said to be among the oldest Buddhist monasteries in India. Tourists, it is reported, flock to watch performances of the Cham, the sacred Bon dances, on New Year’s Eve.

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A Majestic Sight

Constructed in the 7th century, during the reign of Songtsan Gambo, it belongs to the Bon sect, an indigenous branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is a good place to find out more about Buddhism, the Bon sect and other aspects of Tibetan culture.

I was charmed to see the Tibetan script which I’d briefly studied when I was about 13

A visit to this monastery is a good workout! Apart from the fact that it’s on a hill, there are flights of stairs at every turn.

A long flight of steps leads to the monastery

While we were there we did not see many people. Perhaps it was that time of day or year.

A cat descends to greet an ascendant monk

Built at several levels on the hillside, one has to climb a few flights of stairs to reach the main temple. There is a huge basketball court on way to the temple, where you are likely to see little monks dribbling ball.

The above quote is from an article in The Sunday Tribune.

The monastery has not gone to the dogs

We visited the monastery very briefly in September, 2013.

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The typical Tibetan motifs brighten the day

As a young girl, I avidly read all the Lobsang Rampa stories and often fantasised that I was the reincarnation of a great Tibetan monk.

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I’d dreamed of being a monk in my early girlhood days

There is a lot about this monastery in another page, online. It’s referred to as the Dolanji monastery there.

A couple of young monks heading to the prayer room

Monks had started trickling into the hall and settling down at their desks. It was their lunch hour, after which they would chant and perform their daily rituals. Dr Negi and I moved out to the ground, from where he pointed out the living quarters of the monks and the children’s dormitory. A small but beautiful building on the temple’s left was the Menri Trizin’s home, he said, and we had a glimpse of His Holiness when he stepped out to see off a visitor.

Read more at Tibet’s 18-thousand-year-old religion.

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Monks absorbed in study

In 1967, Menri was refounded at Dolanji in Himachal Pradesh, India by Lungtok Tenpai Nyima and Lopön Tenzin Namdak. This monastery has recreated the geshe training program, and is home to over two hundred monks. Menri in India and Triten NorbutseMonastery in Nepal now host the only two geshe programs in the Bon lineage. (From Wikipedia)

Quaint Guardians

Located in an unknown corner of the Solan District, Menri monastery is house to more than 300 Bonpa research scholars.

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It’s like a fortress

Menri Monastery, Dolanji, India

Menri (Medicine Mountain) Monastery is located in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. This place has changed in recent years from a sleepy, albeit culturally important backwater, to become a bustling hub of religious learning and ritual activity. Until 1998, Menri was a very rudimentary facility with a few simple adobe and stone buildings. Even the main temple was bereft of the rich decorations that have come to characterize Tibetan religious edifices. There were around 100 monks then. Now there are over 350 residents, and large concrete Tibetan-style buildings have come up to house the new temples, a library, Bon Dialectic School, dormitories, health center, and nunnery as well as other well functioning centers

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A moment of contemplation

It would not be easy for the ordinary tourist to reach this place. One would have to get to Solan first and find transport to the monastery.

Suddenly there were many monks

There are pockets of Tibetan settlements all over India. Where I grew up and did most of my schooling, I had some Tibetan classmates. Some had freshly escaped over the Himalayas to India.

One of the buildings – a library or guest house

A great view for only 175 rupees ($3.50) per person per day, all 3 meals included.

The monastery perches high, with majestic views on every side

Best visited during daylight given the horrid condition of the roads. Everything is quite cut off from the world and it would be best to travel with reliable company.

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A great way to find out how it would actually be to stay at the monastery and visit it in more detail!

Indian Winter

This is the morning view from everywhere within and around the monastic campus. An amazingly beautiful place, situated at about 4,000 feet, on the side of a mountain.

Many of the local villagers are employed in some capacity by the monastery or otherwise benefit from the number of people living there or visiting.

Different monks give different estimates regarding how many of them there are at a given time, but most guesses hover around 200.

A couple of days after I arrived they had their winter picnic, one of only two such monk-centric holidays a year. They played badminton, basketball, listened to the radio, sang, and ate.


The guesthouse for visitors is quite nice, perching on the side of the mountain just below the monastery. This isn’t where I’m staying (this will be revealed in a future post), but it’s where I eat my meals — lots of potatoes, lentils…

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Pune is a city of two-wheelers and the larger number of these are women, mostly girls, all togged up to protect their faces from pollution. And it’s not uncommon to see these girls with a male friend riding pillion.

Pune has a significant number of women on motorcycles

Pune is, in general, very horizontal, socially speaking. The word “Bai” is used for any lady, be it the one who cooks and cleans for you or her employer. The working Bai is always well dressed and commands great respect.

Here is Vaishali who’s seen a pretty tough life and has survived a rather terrible accident. This is one gutsy lady!

Women and food is an easy connection. Though most Pune eateries are run by men, women are beginning to make their mark, slowly but surely.  We have a Vietnamese eatery, Smiley House, run by the smiling Hoa Be and IDDOS, for example.


This young lady runs an ice cream parlour, famous for some unusual flavours

To cap it all, you have a strong woman labour force in town. Mostly migrant, these ladies do some pretty hefty hefting all clad in colourful saris.

Building a mighty academic institution, these women are not left behind by the nation as there are cases where their kids have joined this place as students

Migrants face hassles all over the world. A grand salute to the girls from the North-East who work hard and give their best, though they undergo all manner of troubles from narrow minded idiots.

While working in a beauty parlour or some such occupation is one option, we must not forget the large student population of Pune, with youngsters from all over the country and the world.

The Malls employ a lot of smart young women. Efficient and pretty as a picture, these girls bring various skills and a pleasant manner to all their tasks.

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Reliance has a bevy of lady employees and even has visiting specialists such as this lady who’s offering a makeover. She did a splendid job on me.

Women from all walks of life people the roads of Pune. Commuting, chauffeuring family to school or for medical care or just for an outing, on foot or behind the wheel, women here are on the move!

Always on the move. Is she shifting residence or selling something? However that may be, her smile will light her road in life!

Women are flowers. They surely need no added raison d’etre. Pune flower sellers are often ladies.

Sleeping in the seated position is a fine art. But who can blame her for catching forty winks? She’s surely finished washing a mountain of clothes, cooking all the day’s meals and made her house spic and span before reporting for duty.

Though the average Pune lady is quite serious, it is not infrequent to spot playfulness.

These beautiful girls have mischief cascading out of their eyes

Women maybe flowers but we can be fierce too. The gentle ladies of Pune can give you what for if you try any funny stuff.

She is one fierce saleswoman!

Being a woman can be hard work and an occasional game is very restorative. All work and no play can make Jyoti a dull devi.

These sweethearts are playing some traditional game on the roadside. No millionaire can have such a happy smile!

Pune is one of the best cities in India for women. Girls cruise the city long after dark, on work, for a night out on the town, as cops, or just for enjoying the cool of dusk.