Friday, July 8, 2016

Fools—II (with pictures from Brooklyn and Manhattan, 2016 June)

Note:  Some photographs, taken in June in Brooklyn  and Manhattan, are included at the bottom of this post. Those pictures are not directly related to the topic of the poem. The initial post of July 8th had also included photographs from the first few days of our trip to China in July.  I have now removed all but one of those pictures, so as not to overload the reader/viewer.  I will try and post them later. -- Arjun, 2016-07-23


We’re living now in pressured times—
Been doing that for quite a while.
And so, we see our fellows frown
More often than we see them smile.

Where empires each extract their loot,
We hear the cracking of the whip.
We also note the racing, there,
Of mind and hand, of tongue and lip…

For “Time is money.” we are taught,
As clocks and coinage rule the lands.
The ones who rush get praise, while those
Who care and fuss get reprimands.

But here and there, among the serfs,
We find the ones who “play the game”.
They live on others’ labor and
They cheat and steal—and feel no shame.

And some among these folk may “rise”
To “oversee” the ones who toil—
To see that those “below” are squeezed,
As fish are pressed for precious oil.

And there are those who might be slow,
Who question, think and answer, “No.”
And these, we note, will never “rise”.
They’ll suffer till their times to go.

For rackets, scams are “systems” now,
With doubters scorned as “slack” or ‘slow”.
The savvy, to the systems, bow,
And paddle deftly with the flow.

So virtue now is turned to vice.
By those "above", we’re viewed as tools
Or else as problems.  Swindlers thrive,
While honest folk are seen as fools.

2016 July 7th Thu - 8th Fri 
Beijing, China
(1st stanza: July 5th Tue - 6th Wed
35,000 feet above the Arctic Ocean)

To view the pictures in a somewhat larger and clearer format, please single-click on any one image. Allow some time for the pictures to load. Then, to see each picture in turn, use either the right and left arrow keys on your keyboard or click on the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen.  Captions will not be visible.  To return to this post and read the captions, click on the white X near the top right of the dark background.  Thanks.


Sunset over Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, looking west along Bath Ave
from 19th Ave, 2016 June 5th, Sun, 8:24 pm.  © Arjun Janah
Sunoco gasoline station, at the corner of 19th Ave & Cropsey Ave,
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, 2016 June 5th Sun, 8:34 pm.  © Arjun Janah

Laundry cycle-rickshaw, at a crossing in midtown Manhattan,
2016 June 6th, Mon, 7:09 pm.  © Arjun Janah

Skyscraper, with clouds and reflections, midtown Manhattan,
2016 June 6th Mon, 7:10 pm.  © Arjun Janah

Man using cellphone while striding past displays in upscale
Manhattan store windows, 2016 June 6th Mon, 7:12 pm.
© Arjun Janah

Skyscraper, reflecting buildings, midtown Manhattan,
2016 June 6th, Mon, 7:16 pm. © Arjun Janah

Two skyscrapers, one reflecting clouds, midtown Manhattan,
2016 June 6th, Mon, 7:16 pm. © Arjun Janah

Rearviews of Manhattanites, walking along 6th Avenue,
2016 June 6th Mon, 7:17 pm. © Arjun Janah

Garbage can and chained lids, 19th Ave, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
2016 June 14th Tue, 6:44 pm. © Arjun Janah

Our Italian-American neighbor Tony's tow truck, with a metaphor
and a pun.  19th Ave, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, 2016 June 14th Tue, 6:46 pm.  © Arjun Janah
(Single-click on the image to read the inscription.  Click on the white X
near the top right of the black background to return to this post.)
Rear view of  a woman walking a dog past a shiny blue car, 19th Ave,
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, 2016 June 14th Tue, 6:48 pm. © Arjun Janah

Our neighbor from Szechuan, China. 19th Ave, Bensonhurst,
Brooklyn, 2016 June 14th Tue, 6:49 pm. © Arjun Janah

By chance, this man and his family were also once my wife's family's neighbors in Canarsie, a faraway section of Brooklyn. Their daughter was a physics student at Canarsie High School, where I taught for thirteen years, from 1989 to 2002, mostly while traveling an hour and a half each way by bus and foot.  Of course, I was younger then.

The daughter 
is now a mother, with two boys. Her elder son is a student at Brooklyn Technical High School, in downtown Brooklyn, near Manhattan.  I once also taught there, as a sabbatical replacement, for a term in 1988. 

The daughter told me that her sons loved the scent of the spicy fish I used to cook in the evenings. So I gave them samples of that cooking.  Her mother, also from (another part of) China, gave me hot peppers and other vegetables from their backyard garden.

David A. Boody Intermediate School (IS 228), Brooklyn,
2016 June 22, Wed., 3:15 pm.
© Arjun Janah
I was one of a group of teachers who graded the NY State Physics Regents
exams here: June 22-24, 4 pm to 9 pm & June 25 Sat, 8 am - 12 noon.
Shadows, of tree branches and of a human with a book-
bag, cast on the pavement outside IS 228, Brooklyn.
Early afternoon, a day after the summer solstice,
2016 June 22 Wed, 3:16 pm.
© Arjun Janah
(The human's unfinished cup of coffee is on
the pavement, in the shadows of the leaves.)
Sunset over Brooklyn, taken through the wire-grill of a window at
David A. Boody Intermediate School (IS 228), Brooklyn,
2016 June 22 Wed, 8:28 pm. 
© Arjun Janah

Sunset over Brooklyn, with the Verrazzano Bridge to Staten Island at the horizon.
2016 June 23 Thu, 8:21 pm.
© Arjun Janah
(I placed my phone's camera-lens in a square in a window-grill in IS 228.)
At El Charrito Jr., a Mexican family restaurant near IS 228, Brooklyn,
2016 June 24 Fri., 9:38 pm.
© Arjun Janah
I used to stop here after work at nights for a soft taco.

El Charrito Jr., 2016 June 25 Sat., 12:11 pm. © Arjun Janah
(The restaurant was not yet open for Saturday.)

Fort Hamilton Parkway subway station, Brooklyn, 2016 June 28 Tue, 10 pm. © Arjun Janah
(Except in central parts of NY City, the "subway" trains mostly run on elevated lines.)
I was going home after work at a federal election poll station, 5 am - 9:30 pm.

Crossing over the Pole, on a Cathay Pacific flight from New York
to Hong Kong, en route to Beijing, China, 2016 July 5th, 6:14 pm EDT.
Note: a related short poem, with the same title, is: Fools ) 



Gary Brazel said...

Nice photos Arjun! I guess you may have inherited some talent from your father.

Arjun Janah said...

Hi Gary,

How are you? Thanks for reading and viewing my posts. I finally got a smartphone (along with my wife) when our contract expired, and this one takes good pictures. Most of my pictures are garbage, but some by luck are presentable.

I do not think I inherited any talent, but I might have learned a bit from working for several years (2007-2010, while my parents were alive) on my father's last and sadly posthumous book (Photographing India, Oxford University Press, India, 2013)--from which I have still to receive any royalties.

Both my father and my mother--who had also spent many years on the book, helping my father, passed away in 2012, a few months before the book came out.

My entry into photography is beginning only in my sixth decade, but my eyes are shot (from the new-style overhead projectors from China, which used halogen lamps instead of incandescent ones, and on which I should not have continued my habit of writing with wet-erase markers--mostly filling in blanks for my Earth Science classes--on overhead transparencies--which I had done, for physics calculations, with no ill effects, for decades on the old ones).

I was in multiple classrooms on several floors, and not all had the Promethean boards.

I did use one of those for a Physics class which I finally got in my last term, after 13 years away from my subject of license.

I also stopped writing and erasing and rewriting on the overheads each period in the glare for my Earth Science classes--preparing the fill-ins before hand.

I could of course have done that much easier thing earlier, but I had long ago found, at least in physics, that doing the diagrams and the calculations in the blank areas (corresponding to the blank areas in the students' handouts) in each period from scratch was better pedagogically, as I could ask questions and the students could see and hear me think through the problem, much as they would have to do--and this gave them confidence and held their attention better.

In Earth Science, as in Biology, most of the material was already typed up in the handouts, and it was more of filling in blanks in the corresponding overheads, so perhaps I should have switched to the easier method (which also reduced time pressure and resulted in neater, more legible writing) long ago.

However, for the diagrams in Earth Science, the laborious method worked better for the students, for the same reason as in physics.

I had resorted to using dark glasses (shades) while writing on the overheads, starting a few years back, but that was not enough. Halogen bulbs are not meant to be looked at, and one has to focus on the bright plate when writing, resulting, of course, in a bright, focused image on the retina, with the cornea and adjustable inner lens of the eye also being affected by the passage.

I hope this finds you and your family in good health and spirits.