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Even as another book ‘Life in the Clock Tower Valley’ emerges from Kashmir, its author, Shakoor Rather says that while many past books have shone a light on the conflict in Kashmir, his debut novel takes a different approach by depicting the life that the people live amidst the conflict.
Stressing that though the book highlights the uncertainty in the lives of people there, he says, ” I have memories engraved in my head about the events unfolding in the lanes and historical places of downtown Srinagar where the book is based. Matador rides, searching up history, and listening to people about mundane incidents and anecdotes formed the foundation for the book.”
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Adding that the Valley is a storyteller’s abode, a place where he grew up listening to legends and stories from his early years, this Delhi-based journalist says that inspiration was always… just a block away. “As journalists, we are always reporting facts. There is no scope for putting your own opinions out there. Now, when you’re from a place like Kashmir, there are so many stories to tell — so I have always had many stories and observations in my head, throughout my life there. When I used to get some time off from my journalistic work, I would always pen down these stories and observations. Over time, these stories took the shape of a novel and I approached the publishers.”
Although he grew up in a rural setting, the book, published by Speaking Tiger, is set in an urban one — in downtown Srinagar. And in a way, the characters are also trying to reconcile with each other. “One incident that spurred an important chapter in the book involved overhearing a dejected passenger in a dilapidated matador, who lamented the loss of his cherished cow during a curfewed night in downtown Srinagar. I used it as a metaphor in the larger context of the situation in Kashmir.”
Adding that the late poet Agha Shahid Ali has played an instrumental role in inspiring a new generation of writers from Kashmir, someone whose poetry comprises a brilliant combination of aesthetic and political, he adds, “It generates a new paradigm in the tension between the personal and the historical which has resonated with the new generation here. In fact, many authors have used the phrases in his poetry as the title name of their books. The biggest challenge while writing a book is translating your thoughts into a non-native language. As Joseph Conrad said, ‘a writer has to wrestle painfully with language which they feel they do not possess’. However, Kashmir writers have effectively used the language to tell their stories.”
Admitting that as a writer, one cannot look away from the ‘conflict’ of a place and the haunting grimness on the faces of its people, but being too focused on the outward, one can also make one easily lose touch with the inward. “Due to this, we create for ourselves a metaphorical distortion. More people from Kashmir need to tell their own stories. People on the outside need to know the vast difference between the ground realities and what is being portrayed on the screen of their televisions.”
Rather feels that the way people view Kashmir through the lens of the media must change. “The Kashmiri society is like a meta-text in which diverse territorial issues intricately inform the production as well as falsification of meanings. I think Kashmiris are finding their voice, not only because they believe their stories will be heard, but also by the fact that their stories have been muffled in other media.”
Although the book was in the writer’s imagination since his university days in Kashmir, the actual writing happened during his time in Delhi. “Writing it helped me escape the monotony of everyday life. It took me over two years to write the first draft and then another year to fix the nuts and bolts of the manuscript. I had to drawer it for another year or so. Then I pulled it out again and fiddled with it for a few more months until I was sure it was shaped in the way I wanted it to.” Now wanting to work with Valley’s rural setting as he feels that remains untapped, Rather says, “Of course, it will take time to pen down those thoughts and channelize them into a concrete shape.” (IANS/JC)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)