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 After I published this post, I had to go back in and change the title.  For some reason I picked the wrong title for this week's LBC post.  I don't think anyone will notice if I change the title.  I actually chose the topic 'conflict', but there is a battle raging within me.  I want to write about the universe and I have to write about conflict.  What a conflict!  So I shall write about the universe as I understand it and address the conflict.  The universe topic of next week will have thrown up some other take by next week.   There is no need to worry.  As my dear friend Suzanna Gilwen says, the universe takes care of everything.

We live in a vast and ancient universe and no one really knows how old it is.  It is both old and timeless.  Time takes on a different meaning depending on where you are in this amazing place.  It is so vast that travelling from one spot to another, if of course one was able to do so, can take more time than a human being is allotted in it's material existence.  It consists of dust and gases, which in turn take the form of planets, stars, quasars, comets, galaxies of various shapes and don't forget the odd black hole.  There is a theory that the universe started sometime at the dawn of history with a big bang.  There is another theory which totally rubbishes the 'big bang' theory.  The mysteries of our universe will not be unravelled within many lifetimes.

Man has studied the universe extensively, yet has found only one planet which sustains life.  Our own Earth, fondly called Mother Earth by many.  A beautiful blue/green  planet with air and water, it sustains many life forms and is home to myriad cultures and species.  The planet Earth has just the right temperature to sustain life.  How this little, seemingly insignificant terrestrial planet came to be, in fact, the centre of the universe, having all the right conditions to sustain life is one of the great mysteries.  Of course, if you know Who God is, it's not a mystery at all.

'The Universe' is also a British Roman Catholic newspaper.  It contains articles of great significance to mankind in general and Roman Catholics in particular.  What the Archbishop of Westminster said at the 20th Anniversary celebrations of the Pope's first visit there, what he laid particular stress on, all these details are there for one to ponder upon.  Pictures of fresh faced young newly ordained priests (God help them, they don't have a clue what lies ahead, poor dears!), photographs of eager Parish pilgrimage groups to Medjugorje and Lourdes and smiling, middle-aged nuns celebrating their various jubilees (gold, silver, whatever) of their religious profession.

There's a lovely Universe here in Lucknow where I often hang out with my kids.  The Universal Book Stores.  I often visit my local branch.  You can read there for as long as you like.  The guards there are very nice to me.  They know I won't steal anything so they don't bother taking my bags into custody when I enter.  If the proprietor is there, he always gives me a discount on my purchases.  One day I came at the right time and was even served a cup of coffee.

Because it is my birthday next Monday, my little son Nitin aged 8 years saved up some of his pocket money to buy my a gift.

"I'll buy you a book," he announced.  As I knew he was determined to do it, I decided not to put him off, just give in gracefully.  Otherwise he might buy something I don't like.  Knowing his budget very well, I asked him to get me something from the Mills and Boon section, where the novellas sell very cheap.  I showed him the shelf.  He dismissed me and insisted on choosing the book himself.  One of the assistants came forward to point him towards the children's section.  He was rewarded with a withering look.  Nitin chose a particularly intriguing looking paperback entitled "The Secret Passion of the Sicilian Lover" (or words to that effect).  Then he selected another absolutely gorgeous book, also within his budget, by a favourite Indian writer of mine, RK Narayan.  That was even cheaper than the Mills and Boon.  The manager recognised Nitin and the counter and gave him a great discount.  Nitin was then able to buy himself some chocolate.  So everyone was happy.  I'm really looking forward to my birthday, the reading selection is going to be great.  RK Narayan the literary giant or the red hot Sicilian?  Well, variety is the spice of life!

This is my weekly post for the Loose Blogger Consortium. We are a group of bloggers from different parts of the world with diverse views and styles of writing, and we post simultaneously (well, we try to) on a weekly basis on a given topic.  We have been recently joined by two new members, Delirious and Padmini. Other currently active members are, in alphabetical order AshokConrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, and Rummuser. This topic 'Conflict' was chosen by me, gaelikaa.

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