DNA testing for ethnic Indians, Table of Nations in the Bible, etc.,

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I think interpreting DNA test results for a country like India with an open, no-axe-to-grind approach will bring to light exciting new information. To be unafraid of what we may learn of our past and to acknowledge the fluid nature of the premises on which we base our interpretations are both important.

Imagine if we had sufficient studies from every community in India, what a lot of information we would have that would help us to peer into the past. Of course, we would interpret based on different sets of assumptions. And as we learn more, we can modify and add to our knowledge.

Doing both paternal and maternal testing would perhaps show us various times when our ancestors first came to the Indian subcontinent as invaders/settlers/captives etc.

It is sad that people fear that such studies might strengthen divisive forces. On the contrary, I feel that truth is liberating and satisfying. In fact nothing else will do. But to find what actually happened, we must be careful about the assumptions and premises on which we base the results. The DNA will not lie.

My concerns about DNA testing are to do with the assumptions for and subsequent interpretation of DNA test results. Why? Because the Bible is being ignored. Why on earth is this concerning or even relevant?

The Bible is a very important historical document that, having been proved accurate on hundreds of counts archaeologically, must be taken seriously when it comments on ethnicity-related matters.

And it does. The most important passage is the Table of Nations from Genesis 10, which is a very ancient historical list of nations in the repopulated earth after the flood. It is the earliest recorded list of nations on earth available to us! So when assumptions are made based on various theories, without considering Genesis 10, I feel that we cannot possibly get the best value out of these studies.

THE TABLE OF NATIONS Genesis Chapter 10 (Earliest recorded list of Nations)

1 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.

The Japhethites

2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer Magog, Madai, Javan,Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.

3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.

4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites.

5 (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)

The Hamites

6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.

7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.

8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth.

9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.”

10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar.

11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah

12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city.

13 Egypt was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites,

14 Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.

15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites,

16 Jebusites, Amorites,Girgashites,

17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites,

18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered

19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha.

20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

The Semites

21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.

22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram.

23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.

24 Arphaxad was the father of[j]Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber.

25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.

26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,

27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,

28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba,

29 Ophir,Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.

30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.

31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons,according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.

Isn’t that an amazing text? Every one of us is included in that passage. One human race initially branching out into three families. 

After that account, the Bible focusses on the family of Shem and from there zeroing in to the family of Abraham and then to the Jewish people till the coming of Christ. 

The Old Testament thus starts with ancestors  common to every one of us and zooms in on one people group the Jews. 

The New Testament on the other hand starts with the Jews and leaves us with the picture of some wonderful Jews sharing the good news with the world.

For this very reason I hesitate to be part of a public-participation project like the Genographic Project, which has closed itself off from the Biblical view. 

For example, the website states:

“The test also scans 250,000 markers from across the rest of your genome that were inherited from both your mother and father, revealing insights into those ancestors who are not on a strictly maternal or paternal line. Included among these markers are a set that will also reveal if you are carrying DNA that came from our hominid cousins, the Neanderthals”

I wonder how many today know that Neanderthals as being a species or subspecies of archaic humans is only as yet a theory. 

In fact even the idea of human beings having  a gone through a ‘hunter-gatherer’ stage is without basis, although many have accepted it as truth. Just looking at the pyramids and other ancient marvels makes the Biblical model seems far more plausible. 

How you can have a report purporting to be scientific include something like Neanderthal DNA, beats me. In fact, if the interpretations flowing out of a project like this come to be assumed as actually true, I am afraid that we will go back to the old notion of races among people. The Bible is very clear that there is only ONE HUMAN RACE.

If only those in charge of projects like the Genographic Project could be as open to the Bible as they are to other theories, I would be more confident about their credibility.

I do not hope for people to believe in the authenticity of the Bible as truth. But the world must face the unique authenticity of the Biblical text, and the unique way in which it has been preserved. As a historical document it is unparalleled.

Ideally, these major projects should offer various kinds of reports for their good data such as Evolution-based, ExtremeEvolution-based, BiblicalOldEarth-based, BiblicalYoungEarth-based and any other assumption set that we can come up with. The DNA data itself is unchanged and true.

Or different agencies, specialising in particular kinds of reports could be provided access to a global database.

But for now, I would like to do a DNA test to find relatives from say the last 20 generations. I cannot tell you how thrilling the prospect is to me. I think any DNA-testing lab, even ones looking for Neanderthals and Hobbits, with access to a good and growing database would be able to do the job.

The internet is choca with sites claiming to be the best. Which site should I use? Who has access to a database with a large representation frpm those of Indian descent?

What child!

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I caught sight of this homeless girl who emerged from the shadows in this leafy part of Browns Road in Manurewa, Auckland. The bushes and the particular kind of small pebble under my feet reminded me of some place in Bangalore. The girl was light complexioned but very dirty. And she was just a child, about thirteen or so with a little squint. I would have normally walked away, but I felt that she was far too vulnerable to be alone in this city. So I struck up a conversation with her. I finally decided to take this matter to someone, maybe the police.

This office was on the third floor of a very old building, reminiscent of an official building in an Indian palace complex. I went by myself initially and was asked to produce the child, so I went back down to get her. As I reached the bottom of the stairs, I felt a bit disoriented in the dark. I tried to push the large door open. I could see the rays of light through the opening. That’s when I turned around and saw my daughter Lydia. She looked so lovely as she came down the stairs, offering to quickly bring the child in. She must have been with me upstairs, I think. She has always been good at finding out just what is needed in a situation. She was gone before I could see if there was another way out. She must have passed over the few people sitting on the bottom stair and taken another flight of stairs going down into the basement. Clever.

I tried to open the large door again, and it did budge a little, but it did not smell right, and I soon found out why. Just outside the door were large garbage bins. While I was wondering what to do, Lydia was back with the girl, almost apologising for the delay. Funny, I had not noticed the time passing. Apparently the child had wanted to be more presentable and had been resolutely determined to wear a dress that she had with her. It was a nice long dress with a jolly floral print. She still had a dirty face and the endearing squint. We went up, and in a very short time, her family was present.

This is where it gets really weird. The family did not address the issue at all, but instead they wanted to have a little celebration. They did not seem to know that I was a part of their story now. When you give up a certain responsibility, the mind has to go through a winding-down protocol of sorts; it has to be done with propriety. But I was being ignored and the protocol was being stymied.

For some unreasonable reason, I found myself with said obnoxious group in a little restaurant, a gracious old Muslim place, the kind that would have meat samosas and ruddy cardomom tea in the evenings and mutton biriyani for lunch. The group was noisy, and it was getting to be too much for me. I went up to the lady who I assumed was the child’s mother and told her in no uncertain terms that she had to face reality, her child had been in a dangerous situation and it was I who had taken the child to the authorities. “Don’t you have the courtesy to at least ask me what happened?”

And then I woke up in disgust.

Little girl and bear

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Bear and I sit down to eat. 

What about Miao the cat? Does she eat too?

Bear needs help.

Not me, I can feed myself.

Bear, why can’t you feed yourself?

I like your spoon better. You can have my spoon.

Say, your food is nicer too.

What kind of Indian am I if I do not eat with my fingers!

Poor Bear, you must be hungry. Here is some of my food. This moving food is delicate business.

And hard work

The chooks: #2 Girl names

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I have paid for four amazing birds and depending on availability, they could be any four of the following heritage breeds:

Blue Orpington, Black Orpington, Light Sussex, Silver-laced Wyandotte, and Barred Rock.

Giving our pets names is part of the excitement, isn’t it? The Blue Orpington could be Beulah or Opal. The Light Sussex, Susie. I thought Sylvia might suit the Silver-laced Wyandotte, but my daughter Prisy prefers Dot. We have not thought of a name for a Barred Rock. 

Prisy and I disagreed on my choice for the Black Orpington, however. 

Should it be Orpah or Oprah? Prisy said that I should not name her Oprah because she is a Black Orpington, because people would think I was racist. Now I had not even connected Oprah’s ‘blackness’ with the blackness of the bird till Prisy mentioned it. My thoughts behind the name were firstly that it sounds like Orpington, and the fact that Oprah the woman was fashionable and popular. 

But now that blackness had been mentioned, I am itching to name my gorgeous gloriously-black bird Oprah. Moreover, the rather plain-sounding Orpah might suit a Buff Orpington, but surely a dashing Black Orpington has to be Oprah. (Black Orpington Vs Buff Orpington) I haven’t decided yet, and one in five, I won’t get to own a Black Orpington this time.

Locale and Region when setting up Redmi Note 4

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Locale and Region when setting up Redmi Note 4

I got my dad GB and myself new Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 phones.

Having been purchased on line via TradeMe, the Redmi phones came to me from Hong Kong. The manuals were in Chinese, who reads manuals anyway, but the adapter plug was of the New-Zealand kind, which is nice.

It is not often that one gets to configure two identical devices simultaneously. Only these weren’t identical, at least in this one System & Device setting. GB’s phone asked for ‘Region’ whereas my phone prompted me to set the ‘Locale.’

And neither Region list nor Locale list included New Zealand. My Locale list was a notch better as it has Australia in a group of countries that seemed to have been tacked on at the bottom of the list as an afterthought. For GB, I selected India. (The photo does not display Australia now that it has been selected.)

The time display on the Screensavers immediately changed to the times of the respective timezones. Had I made a costly mistake?

Naturally I looked at the Clock next, going straight to the ‘Edit system time’ item.

Under Time Zone settings, I needed  a to switch off ‘Automatic time zone’ and manually select the right time zone.

Thankfully, dear old Auckland featured in this list.

Great to see both phones displaying New Zealand time.

Moral of the story: Go ahead and buy Redmi Phones on line . . . I think.

The garden project

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Projects are good as long as we do not lose perspective.

The wise King Solomon in researching life, had this to say about projects:

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. . . .I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. . . My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Well, I undertook a major project in the beginning of 2016, which took me a year to finish.
Like most of the homes in Auckland, our house had a lawn that was fenced off. On the sides were a few plants and even two Olive trees, which had been planted by the previous owner. But the grass had taken over even along the sides, having come through the weed mats. Unfortunately, I do not have a good Before-project photo, although you can see the depressive state of the section through the rosemary bush.
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But I wanted to make the garden more interesting and in my mind’s eye, I saw an English cottage garden. So I drew a rough plan on paper of garden area and path area. Garden and path would be separated by means of proper edging, comprising two layers of brick and mortar.

I began to dig my ‘trench’ for my edging. It took me about three months to complete what turned out to be 45 meters of trench.

And then the bricks arrived with high drama, and that was when I realised that this had become a really big project, and I was doing it without any help.

I watched a few Youtube videos to learn how to lay bricks, and quickly set out to lay my first layer. I was almost done, when the rains came, and then the cold set in, making it impossible to work in the garden. To the uneducated eye, which was not a rare commodity and came with tongue attached, the place looked all dug up and hopeless.

After about six months, I was able to resume the work. This time I decided to hire a young man who mowed lawns along with his little team of helpers.

The second layer of bricks were laid. The top soil that had been displaced by the digging had to be disposed of. I got the men to remove even more of the clayey topsoil from the garden area, so that I could replace it with topsoil of good quality.

Visits to the nursery sections in Bunnings, Mitre10, and Kings Plant Barn were a joy. And of course, I came home with some plants every time.

The path area had to be made level. We added a layer of sand followed by a layer of fine metal called GAP7 and compacted it.

Next, we carefully placed black rubber stabilisation mats called JakMats. Finally we covered the JakMats with small decorative stones called Gold Rush or Waikato Fleck.

I am not a fan of weedmats, prefering to weed the garden on a regular basis. A layer of bark finished off the garden area. A cheap garden arch, a cheap wooden bench, and a cheap wooden bridge, all from TradeMe were installed to declare the garden project complete.

Today, five months after this photo, many of these new plants have established themselves, and the garden looks even more settled. As long as I am on top of it, the weeds are easy to manage. I am pleased.