Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I complain about people breaking traffic rules........

and so I consciously ensure that I do not break them myself........

Do we need traffic rules?

Most definitely, Yes!

Then why do we, the educated Indians, also flout them.......

because every one else is flouting them.......

Is that a good enough reason........

Every time I stop at a Red light, even though there is no cop around......a number of people follow the example.......

Let us the educated Indians, who understand the need for traffic rules LEAD THE WAY.

Let's teach our drivers to follow rules, if we don't drive ourselves.

Like Gandhiji said, "Let's be the change........."

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My sister's daughter was getting married. There was a lot of excitement in the family. Every one was deciding on what to wear for the various functions - the relatively younger generation was busy buying new stuff - clothes, shoes and the various other accompaniments that go with an Indian celebration - the biggest celebration of them  all being a wedding in the family. I asked my father what he was going to wear. He answered that he would wear whatever he had in his closet. On urging him to buy something new for the occasion, he put forward various arguments like - at his age (86 years) what is the point in buying new clothes; I don't like tight clothes, I will wear my old suit, etc. I insisted and we bought him a new suit for the wedding ceremony, and let him wear his old stuff for the other functions. He kept complaining - what is the point in spending so much money on an old man. Anyway, I had my way.

The day of the wedding arrived and he was getting ready to put on his new suit. He put on his shirt, trousers, shoes, and stopped. We were all ready. He came out of his room with a tie in his hand and asked me to tie the knot for him, as he had forgotten how to tie the knot. I hesitated for a second and then took the tie and made a double knot for him. He then put on his tie, jacket and was all ready for the ride to the venue of the wedding.

I had hesitated because my mind had gone in to a flash back when I was a teenager and my father had taught me how a tie a single, and a double, knot. My father had done the tie for me, whenever it was required, until the day I was going for my Service Selection Board interview to Dehradun, in 1968. If I remember right, that was the time he taught me how to do it on my own, as he felt that I should be able to do it by myself, now that I was going out of the home all by myself. Besides tying a knot on the tie, I learnt a lot from my father - every child does. Life had come a full circle.

The person who taught me how to do things when I could not, was now asking me to do it for him, as he could not - life had indeed come a full circle - when I was a child, he and I both knew it - he had to do stuff for me, and teach me. At this juncture - I feel....... that he knows, because he is the one who taught me...........whereas only he knows that he has forgotten, and thus does not know. Old age is second child hood, in more ways than one.

He did it for me; he taught me, in that order - it is now my turn to do it for him; it is now too late for him to re-learn from me, what he taught me many decades ago.

This post has been triggered by this beautiful article by Vinita Dawra Nangia published in the Times of India dated 19 Dec 10.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing.

She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.'

-----Anonymous (Wise guy)

'I've had bad luck with both my wives. The first one left me, and the second one didn't.'

-----James Holt McGavra


Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming

1. Whenever you're wrong, admit it.
2. Whenever you're right, shut up.

---Patrick Murra


You know what I did before I married?

Anything I wanted to.


My wife and I were happy for twenty years.

Then we met.

-------Henny Youngman

A good wife always forgives her husband when she's wrong.

------Rodney Dangerfield


First Guy (proudly): 'My wife's an angel!'

Second Guy: 'You're lucky................. mine's still alive.'


Sunday, November 21, 2010


Lately the press, both print and TV, have been full of reports on corruption starting with the Common Wealth Games followed by the Adarsh housing, the 2G spectrum allocation, and now the Karnataka land grab by the CM and his family members. Every news is negative - at first thought it appears that our country is heading in the wrong direction. But is it? I donot believe so. Even though it is very negative and depressing news, I find it to be very heartening .

Finally the thoughts in the minds of concerned citizens, that got translated into words, and high volume and decibel ones at times - a few years ago, have now resulted in action - the usual process of first thought, then words and finally action, that has to be undertaken for any action to take place - Kalmadi, Chavan, Raja have been fired or resigned, under pressure. CM Yedyurappa had been called to Delhi; has returned the grabbed land, and is under pressure to resign. This will happen if the BJP has to continue to maintain its posturing of being anti-corruption. All these actions suggest that a new benchmark in public propriety is being set and most parties would now have to live by these norms, if they want to project an image of being clean.

This in no way means that corruption would be eliminated - it only suggests that corruption is now a major issue with our political parties. This is good news BUT only if we the people support it during our next round of elections. All those who hate corruption in public life, and there are a large number of us who are very vocally anti-corruption, will need to help in making this a larger than life election issue, in which ever way possible.  Are we anti-corruption enough??? and are we ready to put our time and effort to show how much we care for clean governance??? Let's make a start by being clean in our own dealings - it always takes two hands to clap.

The issue of corruption is akin to another major issue that has rocked our country for a number of years now - that of caste based politics  - people thought about it; complained about it, and now the election results in Bihar would go on to prove that development is now an issue, rather than caste - if Nitish Kumar's party is once again given the chance to govern Bihar - as is most probably going to be the case - going by the exit polls. This would prove to all political parties that Lalu and his brand of politics has reduced relevance in elections now, and that too in a state like Bihar. Does this bode well for development? I believe so.

Imagine how democracy is transforming our country - have faith in the wisdom of our people - they may be illiterate in the formal sense, but they are definitely not stupid - this fact was brought home to me very clearly in the 70s, when they threw out the ruling party after emergency, and brought them back to power, much sobered - after the total misgovernance by the Janata Dal government.

Think Positive about OUR hugely diverse population, democracy, and country - there is none other like this in this world and don't even try and compare it with either the developed countries, or city states like Singapore. Think about how slowly but surely it is evolving - heading in the right direction. Evolution 'of the people, by the people, and for the people' is any day a better way to move forward than Revolution, specially in such a hugely diverse 'functioning anarchy' like ours.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The blog world is full of stories about corruption, and how the whole system stinks........... and that nothing can be done about corruption. Once in a while one also reads stories or more likely one comment, amongst hundreds, that states that the person has never bribed. I too have never bribed for getting any one of my work done.....people tell me that I was lucky to have been in the defence forces, and that helps. Yes, it does to a certain extent but I have had my share of experiences where-in my work got delayed; I ended up spending much more in terms of money and time for the work; had massive heart burns; and many such things but I refused to bribe and, eventually my work always got done.....you see, the gentleman or lady doing the work is being paid to do the work.......he/ she too can lose their job and this knowledge has always been my strength in dealing with such corrupt people. I have tried every tactic to not pay a bribe, while living up to the strategy of not paying bribes.

I received this forward on practical ways to prevent paying a bribe. We can try it - I know from practical experience that these tactics work......Use them.......do your bit to stop corruption.....if that is what irks you the most about government functioning. Refuse to 'be a part of the problem' even if every one around you is.... and 'become a part of the solution' - BY REFUSING TO BRIBE.
Government babus (officials) use different tactics to extract bribe. You may take the following action to counter those tactics. These are very simple & useful. I have tried them with very successful results.

Indefinite Delay: They keep on delaying your work until you go to them & offer bribe.

Solution: Don’t visit government offices. Follow up your pending work through letters. You may send letters by courier, registered post or speed post. Local speed post costs only Rs 12/-. Local couriers are available at Rs 5/-. You may also use RTI Act to know status of your work. In this case you need to spend another Rs 10/-.

Demanding unnecessary papers: Sometimes they demand unnecessary papers & give hints that work can be done without those papers if you bribe.

Solution: If they can offer to do your work without additional papers with bribe, it means that those papers were definitely unnecessary. (i) Ask babus to demand those papers in writing and record the conversation. (ii) Write a letter stating that you demanded these papers. Are they really mandatory as per law? You can also use RTI Act here. (iii) Use RTI Act to find out whether he demanded those papers from other applicants. (iv) Whatever paper he demands, send by post. Never deliver anything without receipt.

Remember no officer will complete your work without mandatory papers. He will keep his file perfectly clean.

They advise you to pay bribe so that you pay less tax / penalties. Many times they demand higher amount for penalties than prescribed under laws.

(1) Check laws if you can
(2) Record conversation & tell them that you are going to report to Anti-Corruption Bureau.
(3) Use RTI Act to find out how much was paid by others under similar circumstances.

When the babu is not available in office.

Solution: Write a letter that I came to your office on say, 1st August at 11 AM but you were not available. Your assistant Mr. Rama Rao told me to come again on 5th August. This letter will make him take special care of your work.

Finally, if nothing works, try this.

When you don't have any option, record the conversation, pay money & get your work done. After your work is completed, meet that babu and demand your money back. Tell him that you are going to complaint, if he does not return your money. Tell him about Jago party. Take some Jago pamphlet or advertisement copy with you. This will most likely make him return your money.

Develop the habit of complaining.

Whenever you see crime & corruption, send written complaints to head of that department, ACB / CBI, local newspapers & Jago Party.

Don't be submissive.

Call babus by their names. Don't call them "sir". Be polite but don't show unnecessary respect. Be firm and confident. Talk about RTI Act & Jago party. Babus are always afraid of knowledgeable people.

These methods may sound unbelievable but try it at least once to discover their power.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


This forward quite nicely sums up the visible part of a military wife (or military spouse, not exactly though). Military wives occupy a very unique position in the military - tonnes of responsibility without any formal authority. However, the military knows how to look after their ladies and thus the lack of formal authority has never stood in the way of them fulfilling their very critical responsibilities, in war and peace.

"The good Lord was creating

A model for military wives

and was into his sixth day of overtime

when an angel appeared.

She said, “Lord, you seem to be having

a lot of trouble with this one

What’s wrong with the standard model?”

The Lord replied,

“Have you seen the specs of this order?

She has to be completely independent,

possess the qualities of both mother and father

be a perfect hostess for four to forty

with a hours notice, run on black coffee

handle every imaginable without a manual

be able to carry on cheerfully,

even if she is pregnant and has the flu,

and she must have six pair of hands.”

The angel shook her head

“Six pair of hands? No way!”

The Lord continued, “Don’t worry,

we will make other military wives to help her

And we will give her an unusually strong heart

so it can swell with pride

in husbands achievements,

sustain the pain of separation

beat soundly when it is overworked and tired

and be large enough to say

“I understand” when she doesn’t

and “I love you” regardless

“Lord”, said the angel, touching his arm gently,

“Go to bed and get some rest,

You can finish this tomorrow”

“I can’t stop now,” Said the Lord

I’m so close to creating something unique

Already this model heals herself when she is sick

can put up six unexpected guest for the weekend

wave good-bye to her husband from a pier

a runway or depot and understand

why it’s important that he leave

The angel circled the model of the military wife

looked at it closely and sighed

“It looks fine, but it’s too soft”

“She may look soft”, replied the Lord

“but she has the strength of a lion

you would not believe what she can endure”

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her fingers

across the cheek of the Lord’s creation

“There’s a leak,” she announced

“Something is wrong with the construction

I’m not surprised that it has cracked.

“You are trying to put too much into this model”

The Lord appeared offended

at the angel’s lack of confidence

“What you see is not a leak,” he said,

“It’s a tear”

A tear” What is it here for?” asked the angel

The Lord replied, “It’s for joy, sadness, pain

disappointment, loneliness, pride and dedication

to all the values that she

and her husband hold dear.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010


.......Photography - something that has helped me start noticing more; slow down; stop, and admire the beauty that is all around.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Some forwards just have to find a place on my blog - they are the ones that make a lot of sense to me and thus I wish to put them down here for posterity.


"Never Play With The Feelings Of Others Because You May Win The Game

But The Risk Is That You Will Surely Lose The Person For Life Time".


"The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people,

But because of the silence of good people!"


"I am thankful to all those who said NO to me

Its Because of them I did it myself.."

Abraham Lincoln.........

"If friendship is your weakest point then you are the strongest person

in the world"


"Laughing Faces Do Not Mean That There Is Absence Of Sorrow!

But It Means That They Have The Ability To Deal With It".

William Arthur.........

"Opportunities Are Like Sunrises, If You Wait Too Long You Can Miss Them".


"When You Are In The Light, Everything Follows You,

But When You Enter Into The Dark, Even Your Own Shadow Doesn’t Follow You."


"Coin Always Makes Sound But The Currency Notes Are Always Silent.

So When Your Value Increases Keep Yourself Calm Silent"

Dr Abdul Kalaam........

"It Is Very Easy To Defeat Someone, But It Is Very Hard To Win Someone"

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Its been three months since we first set foot in Ahmedabad on 30 Jun 10. I had come here for a day before I took up this assignment. In that one day and night that I had spent here in early June, I had travelled about 250 kms and had seen that the BJP had lived up to its promise of 'Bijli, Paani and Sadak'. I was to move here from Bangalore and had a lot of reservations - incidentally Bangalore is also ruled by the BJP. I met a few Amdavadis who told me that once you come to this city, you would love it here, and would most definitely settle down here... they said 'everyone does, and so would you'. My wife and I thought about it and since we did not have much to lose - as a matter of fact we would gain a lot, as we were moving North, I agreed to take up this job.

There is something in this city that slowly starts to grow on you. There is a certain vibrancy in the air. Every one, including the auto rickshaw driver, is friendly. Distances are short and there is a happy mix of modernity with traditionalism. Weekends are a treat in this city. Gujjus love to eat and the whole town is out on weekends - restaurants, there are plenty of them, are all full. Every street has regular mobile eating joints - that move in a van - park on the side of the road - about 15 - 20 plastic tables with four chairs each are off loaded and you have the roadside restaurant ready to serve 'dosas', 'chinees', 'momos', 'rajasthani', and any other dish that one can think of. Roads are wide and so these restaurants that start after office hours donot block traffic. People love them - one can see them doing good business.

Ahmedabad is the seventh largest city in India - it is raring to become a metro city - requirement is population over 50 lacs. It is getting there. Gandhinagar is the state capital - a new well planned city - the only city after Chandigarh to be planned from the scratch. It is lush green - specially after the monsoons. It is a treat to travel on the wide 4/ 6 laned highways around Ahmedabad.

This Friday evening I had gone to the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar - the temple is really beautiful; the complex even more so - it is a pity that cameras are not allowed inside after the terrorist attacks on this temple. The temple also has a laser show of about 45 minutes duration - it is a must see for the people who love to watch the latest in technology - this show is really beautiful. However, the contents of the show are even better. I got to know for the first time that 'Bha' in Sanskrit meant 'prakash' or light, and 'rat' meant 'khoj' - so the name 'Bharat' stands for 'in search of the light'. Now that I know, I believe there could be no better name for this country than Bharat. The laser show is spectacular but the message is even more so. A video giving the trailer of the show is available. Enjoy the video now, and if you ever happen to be in Ahmedabad, do not miss the show.

Today I visited another place, 'Adalaj ni vav' - step well in Adalaj. This was built in 1498 - it is a well with steps going right up to the well which is five stories down. The structure is supported on pillars with intricate carvings on all the red sand stone walls. Archaeological Survey of India has declared it a heritage site - but we Indians do not have any time for our heritage - we have so much of it, that it does not attract us any more, me included. Guess when did I first see the Qutub Minar - 1990, although I used to go through Delhi every year. In 1989, I had gone to see the Washington monument - paid $ 8.00 and stood in queue for 2 hours and went up listening to the guide tell us about how the monument was built when there were no cranes, etc. etc., and my thoughts went home to the Minar that was built many centuries before that and I could visit it free, but had never done so. I landed in India in 1990 and first thing that I did was visit the Qutub Minar.

Adalaj ni vav entry is free. There are plenty of visitors now, but sadly the government is slow to understand the potential to earn revenue from the visitors - this revenue can help maintain these sites. Wish we can adopt a public private model to make these sites tourist friendly. I am sure a number of our big business houses would love to take-over and maintain these heritage, sites as per international standards - parking, toilets, guides, dustbins, snacks, water, etc.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


We visited Sabarmati Ashram last month. I captured some images that struck me and am sure would strike any body who has read, or heard about Gandhi ji. So without any further explanation, I am posting them here for posterity. This photograph of Gandhi ji gives me an impression of the ultimate serenity and peace.
This, the unusual postal address, by itself would be quite unique in the world.
Reading this I am convinced that Gandhi ji knew about his mode of departure from this life.
Some of these images are my attempt at capturing the beauty that is all around us, after Lord Indra has blessed this parched earth with a bountiful monsoon. This year has been good as far as monsoons go.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

ON HAPPINESS...........

This forward was received from a friend...... made a lot of sense to me - an interesting view. The forward is reproduced below.

This story is about a beautiful, expensively dressed lady who complained
 to her psychiatrist that she felt that her whole life was empty, it had no meaning.

So, the lady went to visit a counselor to seek out happiness.
The counselor called over the old lady who cleaned the office floors.
 The counselor then said to the rich lady"I'm going to ask Mary here
 to tell you how she found happiness. All I want you to do is listen to her."

So the old lady put down her broom and sat on a chair and told her story:
 "Well, my husband died of malaria and three months later
my only son was killed by a car.
I had nobody... I had nothing left. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat,
 I never smiled at anyone, I even thought of taking my own life.
 Then one evening a little kitten followed me home from work.
 Somehow I felt sorry for that kitten. It was cold outside, so I decided
 to let the kitten in. I got it some milk, and the kitten licked the plate clean.
 Then it purred and rubbed against my leg and for the first time in months,
 I smiled.
 Then I stopped to think, if helping a little kitten could make me smile,
 maybe doing something for people could make me happy.
So the next day I baked some biscuits and took them to a neighbor
 who was sick in bed.
 Every day I tried to do something nice for someone.
It made me so happy to see them happy.
Today, I don't know of anybody who sleeps and eats
better than I do.
 I've found happiness, by giving it to others."

When she heard that the rich lady cried.
She had everything that money could buy, but
 she had lost the things which money cannot buy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Yesterday's Times of India had a beautiful piece under 'The Speaking Tree' column, titled "Just Around the Corner", written by Jaya Row. She argues that, "You can choose to be happy in the worst of circumstances or be miserable with the best. Happiness is a state of mind. When the mind is tranquil, you are happy". This seems to be the final truth, I too believe. We all know this truth in our heart of hearts, but we get so engrossed in the illusions of the physical world (maaya) that we tend to disregard this fact.

Marketing folks have become so good that they can convince us that so and so cream  can make us 'fair and lovely' - our five senses are inundated, and our mind is led totally astray - the magic of skin color changing in seven days on the TV prompts the 'not so fair' ones and the 'not so lovely' ones (who decides that? - myself) to buy that cream in the hope that once they are fair and lovely, things would be, as the ad depicts. A few weeks later we have the 'New and Improved' fair and lovely cream - this one removes blackheads too and cleans every pore deep down. Marketing sells dreams and generates desires in each of us. In the good old days, I was happy listening to 15 minutes of 'hawa mahal' every night at 9:15 pm on a small transistor radio - I now find over 300 tv channels, in colour too, inadequate - to give me the same happiness - if only I could watch it on a 100" LCD life size TV while lying on my bed at just the right angle, in air conditioned comfort. By this logic, anybody who has this should be happy. Is that so?

Each one of us is waiting for something to happen, and feel that once that happens, then I will REALLY be happy - some waiting for a fat paycheck; some for a challenging work environment, and some for a less challenging work environment; some for getting the Green card and some for how they can get back to where they left off; some for that dream car; some for passing that most critical exam; some for the kids to settle, and later for the grand kids to settle, and the list goes on and on. As one item on the list gets ticked, another one crops up. This is something akin to what Maslow referred to as the 'hierarchy of needs' - once the lower needs are satisfied, they stop being motivators, and one moves onto the next level needs.

All the above 'something to happen' desires are the root causes of all this wait for 'being happy'. "I will be really happy, when ......... happens". Our desires are what make us postpone our happiness to a later time and place, and they are what makes our happiness conditional. It has been my experience that as soon as one desire is fulfilled, another one takes its place. My own experience tells me that I have been the happiest when I (my mind) did not exist; when I was so engrossed in my karma that I did not realise that I was doing it - it later felt like a dream and I could never believe that I was capable of doing it. It's happened to me during a trek in Kulu/ Manali, when I felt like a speck of dust, standing in front of the grandest of the grand Himalayas; its happened to me when flying low level over the sea, 300 kms from the coastline - one feels that some other power controls everything that is happening; its happened to me when I have been surrounded by hills and by the green cover or snow over them. In fact every time I have lived in the present moment, when I have been awestruck by something that made me forget my existence, I have been happy. I believe that my mind exists, but only in the past and the future - and this is where my desires exist.

Jaya Row has further stated that happiness is the number of desires fulfilled to the number of desires harboured. Putting this thought mathematically, as a percentage...........
                                                        Number of desires fulfilled    
Happiness ( in percentage)   =     ------------------------------------ X 100
                                                   Total number of desires harboured

However, number of desires fulfilled could be infinite and yet one can never be 100% happy, as long as we have some desires left unfulfilled. The only way to be as happy as can be is to reduce the denominator to  zero and then one would be infinitely happy.......or a true yogi?

None of us are yogis, or are ready to become one yet, and so what is best way forward. Firstly, "Do what you enjoy doing" and secondly "enjoy what you do", because doing can only be done in the present moment. Live in the present, and one can be happy.

Management teaches us to plan; results are important, etc., but management never promised us happiness.

Gita teaches us that we have control only on our karma, and not to the fruits thereof.

Is happiness illusive? Or are we looking for it with our minds - the eternal trickster, or guide, depending on how we use it.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Haven't had much time lately to write posts - had clicked some pictures over the last one month - some pictures that I enjoyed watching - thought I would put them up here.
(click on the images to get a larger view)
Monkeys too enjoy mangoes!
In full bloom

Approaching full moon.

More than half way...

Dusk at 36000 feet during the pre-monsoon season
Dawn is breaking

Ready to spread cheer all around
Cute little bug strolling in the beautiful little flower
Honey bee homing in......

Dripping pollen

Sunset at Ahmedabad - TV tower in the foreground.

Intricate hand crafted designs

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I read this saying in the Sacred Space of Times of India this morning. It made a lot of sense.

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you,
as by the attitude you bring to life;
not so much by what happens to you,
as by the way your mind looks at what happens. -----------Kahlil Gibran

As I opened my email, I found this forward......... call it what you may, but they both give the same message. Read on ...... if you may.

Money has no memory. Experience has. we will never know what the total
cost of our education was, but for a lifetime we will recall and relive
the memories of schools and colleges. Few years from now, we will forget
the amount we paid to settle the hospitalization bill, but will ever
cherish having saved our mother's life or the life you get to live with
the just born. We won't remember the cost of our honeymoon, but to the
last breath remember the experiences of the bliss of togetherness.

Money has no memory. Experience has.

Good times and bad times, times of prosperity and times of poverty, times
when the future looked so secure and times when you didn't know from where
the tomorrow will come... life has been in one way or the other a
roller-coaster ride for everyone. Beyond all that abundance and beyond all
that deprivation, what remains is the memory of experiences. Sometimes the
wallet was full... sometimes even the pocket was empty. There was enough
and you still had reasons to frown. There wasn't enough and you still had
reasons to smile. Today, you can look back with tears of gratitude for all
the times you had laughed together, and also look back with a smile at all
the times you cried alone. All in all, life filled you with experiences to
create a history of your own self, and you alone can remember them all.

The first time you balanced yourself on your cycle without support... The
first time she said 'yes' and it was two years since you proposed... The
first cry... the first steps... the first word... the first kiss... all of
your child...
The first gift you bought for your parents and the first gift your
daughter gave you...
The first award... the first public appreciation... the first stage
And the list is endless... Experiences, with timeless memory...

No denying that anything that's material cost money, but the fact remains
the cost of the experience will be forgotten, but the experience never.

So, what if it's economic recession? Let it be, but let there not be a
recession to the quality of our life. we can still take our parents, if
not on a pilgrimage, at least to the local temple. You can still play with
your children, if not on an international holiday, at least in the local
park. It doesn't cost money to lie down or to take a loved one onto our
lap. Nice time to train the employees, create leadership availability and
be ready for the wonderful times when they arrive. Hey! Aspects like your
health, knowledge development and spiritual growth are not economy

Time will pass... economy will revive... currency will soon be in
current... and in all this, lets don't look back and realize that we did
nothing but stayed in gloom. Recession can make us lose out on money. Let
it not make us lose out on experiences... If we are not happy with what we
have, no matter how much more we have, we will still not be happy.

We can make a statement with the way we live our life: How I feel has
nothing to do with how much I have.

Cheers !!!...I have life's Experiences, who needs money....!!?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Ever since I took up photography as a hobby, in preparation for my retirement after a few years, I have started noticing many things that I never had the time to notice before. Mundane things also look beautiful, I realised, if only we looked for it, because it is rightly said that 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder' or more aptly in one's own mind - the external world is but......just a trigger.

Here are some of my latest exploits with my camera.

(Click on the photographs to view in Large size)

A massive thunderstorm struck Bangalore uprooting many trees, hoardings, poles, and anything else that resisted the massive gale winds. This garage cum residence in our neighbourhood had a big hoarding in the premises - this snapped - it was a sight to see the huge tubular steel column bent, and torn apart. Miraculously no one in the building was injured and the building did not collapse. Two cranes worked overnight to lift the hoarding off the building. A view of the salvage operation captured on camera.

A Passion flower - it is different.....

Some other flowers - don't know the names, clicked them as they looked beautiful to me.

I never realised that a crow in flight could look this beautiful.

Some more flowers in full bloom.


A dripping hand towel and the colours refracting through the water-drop.

Full moon shining bright.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


National Defence Academy, 1969 or 1970. We were assembled in the ante-room for our usual evening assembly. Our Cadet Sergeant Major (CSM) walked in - read out all the routine orders and then said that he wanted to speak about something close to his heart. He had a burning desire that our squadron do well in cross country. We were a very laid back squadron, and somehow never made it in the top 50% in cross country. We were all ears to hear what our CSM had to say....

Cross country was a competitive event that was held once in every term, or twice a year. Squadrons had to put up all the able bodied cadets to run the 4.5 kms race that took us across the glider-drome, fields, over the lone tree hill, down the other side, across a road, climb another hill, slightly down again, then run along the sky line and finally down the hill onto the glider drome to finish where we had started. It was gruelling, specially for people like me, who had never done anything like this before joining NDA. The timing was not fixed but was linked to the cadet who arrived first. There were six enclosures put up. The person first in the race went into the first enclosure. The enclosure closed exactly two minutes after his entry. All cadets who made it in those two minutes entered the first enclosure and so on, up to the fifth enclosure; 2 - 4 minutes for the second; 4 - 6 mts for the third; 6 - 8 mts for the fourth; 8 - 10 mts for the fifth; and finally all the laggards like me would be herded in to the last enclosure. Each enclosure was allotted certain points and the number of cadets of each squadron in every enclosure were counted and this number was multiplied with the points for the enclosure. This was done for each enclosure and the final total was calculated for each squadron - the squadron with the highest points was the winner, and so on.

Cross country was considered to be an important event and all twelve squadrons would practice very hard, Sunday being the favourite day for practice. Each squadron would don the squadron vest and it was a treat to watch about 1400 cadets in twelve different coloured vests, with white shorts and drill boots run the cross country. We also had horses riding along side, just in case of any problems. The event was well organised in typical Army style.

Our CSM gave us a short motivational talk about how it was important for us to do well in cross country... we had heard that earlier, but somehow we had resigned ourselves to being in the bottom half of the pile. He next told us something that was different. He said, "Gentlemen each one of you is wearing the squadron colours on that day, and it is your duty and responsibility to do your best to ensure that our squadron colours are seen in the top half of the pile". He further stated that, "when anyone sees anyone wearing an India squadron vest walking, it is his responsibility to tap him lightly on the shoulder, and it is the duty of the person who is being tapped to run for ten steps at least thereafter". This sounded simple, and do-able.

On the day of the cross country, each one of us ran through the glider drome, across the road, up the lone tree hill, down the hill, across the road and this is where most people like me ran out breath. I started to walk... light tap... ran ten steps... found an India squadron vest walking.... I tap him, he runs... I start walking.... tap, I run, I tap, and so on......for every one the feeling was that I should not be the one to let my squadron down. Each one of us did our bit. I ran most of the route, along which I would have normally walked.

The result was that I ended up in the fourth enclosure for the firs time. Many others like me also had jumped at least two enclosures from their normal best. Our squadron ended up fourth in cross country that term. We rejoiced for having broken our poor record, and it was soon forgotten, or so I thought. However, this lesson always stayed with me - there was no forcing us, just a suggestion, a do-able plan of action (just run for ten steps, when tapped)and the desire of every one to live up to one's responsibilities, and to perform one's duties. Each one of us did our part and the results were there for all of us to see.....

Was this a display of team spirit/ team work? I do believe so.

Friday, May 7, 2010


I was taught as a child that words are very powerful, and should be used with care. As a child, I generally stuck to this advice. However, somewhere down the line, while growing up, I seem to have forgotten this advice and started to use words as they came to my mind. I always spoke my mind, without caring for the words that came out of my mouth. I started to feel that words had no power, even though many a times I could see them affecting others around me... adversely or positively. My parents had taught me the Gayatri Mantra as a child. As a child I could overcome any problem by just reciting this wondrous mantra. I had never questioned the power of this mantra, but as I grew up, doubts began to form in my mind about how a mantra could be powerful... rationality had started to overtake faith, until.......

One day in 1995. A Swami from the Ramakrishna mission had been invited to speak to the Army officers from the Madras Regiment in the staff college auditorium. We were also extended the invitation, which was of course voluntary, as the fauj believes in being religion neutral. During this talk the Swamiji was trying to explain to all of us the power of the word 'Om'. Looking at our faces, he decided to give us an example about the power of the word. This example had a profound impact on me. He said......

"Suppose you are at home and the telephone rings. You pick up the receiver and the person on the other side asks you if you are so-and-so. On your saying 'yes', he tells you, 'I am calling from xyz hospital and I am sorry to inform you that your father is no more'. What happens? You break down, and start to cry. A little later the phone rings again. The same person is on the line again. He says, 'I called you a little while ago and gave you some bad news. I am extremely sorry but that news was incorrect - it was not your father who expired, it was the person on the bed next to your father who expired. Sorry again'. You suddenly feel relieved and the sadness vanishes immediately". After this he asked us a rhetorical question. "What had transpired - nothing but a few words, and these little words had the power to change you completely". This example has stayed with me - it always reminds me that words are potent as they are the expression or containers of ideas, emotions, feelings and can affect people to think, speak and act in many different ways and thus should be used with care.

The power of words can also be judged from one word, 'Swaraj'. A very simple word indeed - 'self rule'. It was, and is, a very positive word and had the power to transform the minds of millions of Indians; who thought of this possibility, spoke about it, wrote about it and then got together to act against the British rule, eventually leading to the independence of India.

Every word is a container of thoughts, emotions, feelings, and more. Positive words can have a very positive impact and negative words can be very damaging - these are also not easily forgotten. Have you ever been publicly praised or ridiculed in front of co-workers, family or friends? If yes, have you forgotten it? Never would most likely be your answer. That then is the power of words. Many years later, the thought of such an ordeal can still bring up the same emotions that one felt then.

I somehow am very averse to negative thoughts and words and try to stay away from people who are prone to use them - negativity can, and is damaging.

We Indians are probably a unique people. We love our motherland dearly but would do anything in our powers to criticise everything that happens here. We call it constructive criticism. I believe constructive criticism would focus on 'how' to improve, rather than 'what' is wrong with us. We all know what is wrong - corruption, poverty, politicians, etc. Even when some good happens we the people, our media and bloggers generally ignore it and focus instead on the negatives. We use negative thoughts and words and that leads to an endless chain of negativity.

Can we instead build an endless chain of positive thoughts and words about our country. Our politicians and bureaucrats are a miniscule part of the 1.1 billion that we are. How can we blame all of our ills on them then.

When we change, change would happen automatically in every facet of our country - including our politicians. Let us think and speak positively about our country and see the transformation in every thing around us. Let's believe in the power of the word, and try it for a change. We have nothing to lose.

I picked up a few quotes on the power of words that I would like to put down for easy reference - they make a lot of sense to me.

- Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. --Buddha

- The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm.”
Exactly as it is with our words. -- Source Unknown

- Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are endless.
Mother Theresa(1910-1997)

- Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny. --
From freethechildren.org

- Kind words can warm for three winters, while harsh words can chill even in the heat of summer. -- Chinese proverb

- You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world's happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime. -- Dale Carnegie

- Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world. -- Buddha

- Words are the most powerful thing in the universe... Words are containers. They contain faith, or fear, and they produce after their kind. -- Charles Capps

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


This post has been triggered after reading a beautiful post written by a University Professor from Chandigarh on what "Education is.. and is not....".

What is education? This is a very complex question, and would be answered differently by different individuals. How do you define 'education'? How do we plan to 'educate' our next generation? Is 'earning a living' the sole purpose of education? Are we giving the right kind of education to our next generation? Who is responsible to provide the 'education' - the parents, the teachers, the society, the individual or the state or each one of them?

I read a few interesting quotes on education that I am reproducing below.

• Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.....Will Durant.

• Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man. Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind. Suggestion is the friction; which brings it out......Swami Vivekananda

• By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man’s body, mind and spirit...........Mahatma Gandhi

• The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.....Rabindranath Tagore

• Education is something, which makes a man self-reliant and self-less.

• Education according to Indian tradition is not merely a means of earning a living; nor it is only a nursery of thought or a school for citizenship. It is initiation into the life of spirit and training of human souls in the pursuit of truth and the practice of virtue..........Radhakrishnan

• Education develops in the body and soul of the pupil all the beauty and all the perfection he is capable of......Plato

• Education is the creation of sound mind in a sound body. It develops man’s faculty specially his mind so that he may be able to enjoy the contemplation of supreme truth, goodness and beauty.......Aristotle

• Education is the child’s development from within.....Rousseau

• Education is enfoldment of what is already enfolded in the germ. It is the process through which the child makes the internal-external..........Froebel

• Education is not a preparation for life, rather it is the living. Education is the process of living through a continuous reconstruction of experiences. It is the development of all those capacities in the individual which will enable him to control his environment and fulfil his possibilities........John Dewey

• Education is the complete development of the individuality of the child so that he can make an original contribution to human life according to the best of his capacity.........T.P.Nunn

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This is a good forward that I received from a friend... who is a grandfather like me. Good for laughs...... it's best to laugh at oneself (wife is ardhangini (better half), and thus technically a part of you), you donot offend anyone that way.

Husband: Do you know the meaning of WIFE?

It means, Without Information, Fighting Every time!

Wife: No darling, it means,

With Idiot For Ever


Wife: I wish I was a newspaper,

So I'd be in your hands all day.

Husband: I too wish that you were a newspaper,

So I could have a new one everyday.


Doctor: Your husband needs rest and peace. Here are some sleeping


Wife: When must I give them to him?

Doctor: They are for you


Wife: I had to marry you to find out how stupid you are.

Husband: You should have known it the minute

I asked you to marry me.


Husband: Today is Sunday & I have to enjoy it.

So I bought 3 movie tickets.

Wife: Why Three?

Husband: For you and your parents


Wife: What will you give me if I climb the great Mount Everest?

Husband: A lovely Push...!!!


Q: What is the most effective way to remember your wife's birthday?

A: Just forget it once and you will never forget it again


After a quarrel, a wife said to her husband,

You know, I was a fool when I married you.

The husband replied, "Yes dear, but I was in love and didn't notice

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Let's go and have 'puri halwa' at Chotiwala's this morning, said my wife. She told me that as children, Chotiwala was their favourite joint for puri halwa in Rishikesh. So off we went across the Ram jhula to the Eastern bank of the Ganges to find the Chotiwala restaurant.
A view of the Ram Jhula by night.
The restaurant was just about opening - workers were still cleaning the place, as it was rather early in the morning. On inquiry, they told us that the place was open. We sat down but were disappointed when we learnt that they had discontinued puri halwa as there was no demand for the product, as people had now become health conscious.

We ordered a chana bhatura and puri aloo for breakfast. While we were waiting for our food, Poonam who was facing the kitchen door, remarked that the kitchen of the restaurant is very clean. A server then brought out a platter with all possible kinds of food and positioned it in the hands of the chotiwala statue in the display (photograph below shows the platter).
In a short while our food was served and we started eating. Immediately thereafter I heard a gentle clap and there was sudden activity in the restaurant. Our waiter hurriedly came and placed a dish containing green chillies and cut onions, which is part of a chana bhatura dish, but had been missed by our server. I remarked to Poonam that this guy looks like the owner. It so happened that the gentleman who had walked in was Shailesh Agarwal, the owner of this Chotiwala restaurant. Poonam congratulated him on the clean kitchen; he was pleased, and asked if he could join us at our table. He then pulled a chair and sat down with us at our table. We got talking and he told us about how the restaurant was started by his father in 1958. It was fascinating to hear Shailesh's story about the concept of Chotiwala and its positioning as a brand name in Rishikesh. As per Shailesh........

In 1958, Rishikesh was one of the important transit points for people from all over who were on the 'char dhaam' yatra, which includes Badrinath. This pilgrimage would take months and people would miss their home cooked food. The elder Agarwal listened to the woes of many a traveller of how they missed home made food.. and thus the concept took shape in his brain. Why not provide people with food that is similar to home cooked food, with minimal spices and oil. Also, he concieved of four types of thali, viz. North Indian, Gujrati, South Indian and the Bengali thali, to cater for the people coming from different parts of the country. In those days when people undertook the char dhaam yatra, they were required to eat food cooked by Brahmins only. These Brahmin cooks were known as Maharaj in UP, and thus chotiwala was born. In those days only Maharaj's used to cook in Chotiwala. Of course, these days the cooks are not necessarily Brahmin, as times have changed.

Chotiwala and Rishikesh have become synonymous and thus the second generation of Agarwal cousins, Dinesh and Shailesh have been fighting over the brand, after having split the original large restaurant into two relatively smaller, though still good sized, side-by-side Chotiwala restaurants, after the passing away of the senior Agarwal in the mid-1990s. Shailesh told us that he continues with the thali even today. He planned to introduce oil-less food also shortly, based on customer demand. The thali at this Chotiwala restaurant costs Rs. 75.00 in the regular restaurant; and more in the airconditioned section, which opens later in the day. It was a treat to listen to Shailesh talk about the restaurant; its history and its future. He rightly said that this business was his passion and it showed in his words, and emotions. He told us that his restaurant serves thalis from Rs. 75 to 200 normally, but have catered for a Piramal group conference at Rs. 2000 a plate... this is more than what a buffet costs in a 5-star hotel.

We enjoyed our food but more than that, I enjoyed listening to someone who is passionate about what he does. I was so impressed by what and how he narrated his thoughts to us that I told Shailesh that I would be blogging about this, and that is the reason for this post - I had to live up to my word; Shailesh's passion had to be put down in words.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


What you meet in life is destiny,
How you meet it is self effort (karma).........Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

I received the following as a forward and would appeal to the followers of Gyan yoga. Is the meaning any different from the meaning of the two line quote above?

"What is this rule?(Author-Stephen covey)10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is decided by how you react. What does this mean? We really have no control over 10% of what happens to us. We cannot stop the car from breaking down. The plane will be late arriving, which throws our whole schedule off. A driver may cut us off in traffic. We have no control over this 10%. The other 90% is different. You determine the other 90%. How? By your reaction. You cannot control a red light., but you can control your reaction.

Let's use an example.

You are eating breakfast with your family. Your daughter knocks over a cup of coffee onto your business shirt. You have no control over what just what happened. What happens when the next will be determined by how you react.

You curse. You harshly scold your daughter for knocking the cup over. She breaks down in tears. After scolding her, you turn to your spouse and criticize her for placing the cup too close to the edge of the table. A short verbal battle follows. You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Back downstairs, you find your daughter has been too busy crying to finish breakfast and get ready for school. She misses the bus.

Your spouse must leave immediately for work.

You rush to the car and drive your daughter to school. Because you are late, you drive 40 miles an hour in a 30 mph speed limit. After a 15-minute delay and throwing $60 traffic fine away, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without saying good-bye. After arriving at the office 20 minutes late, you find you forgot your briefcase. Your day has started terrible. As it continues, it seems to get worse and worse. You look forward to coming home.

When you arrive home, you find small wedge in your relationship with your spouse and daughter.
Why? Because of how you reacted in the morning. Why did you have a bad day?

A) Did the coffee cause it?

B) Did your daughter cause it?

C) Did the policeman cause it?

D) Did you cause it?

The answer is " D".

You had no control over what happened with the coffee. How you reacted in those 5 seconds is what caused your bad day. Here is what could have and should have happened. Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry. You gently say, "It's ok honey, you just need, to be more careful next time". Grabbing a towel you rush upstairs. After grabbing a new shirt and your briefcase, you come back down in time to look through the window and see your child getting on the bus. She turns and waves.

You arrive 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff. Your boss comments on how good the day you are having. Notice the difference?

Two different scenarios. Both started the same. Both ended different.

Why? Because of how you REACTED. You really do not have any control over 10% of what happens. The other 90%
was determined by your reaction. Here are some ways to apply the 90/10 principle.

If someone says something negative about you, don't be a sponge. Let the attack roll off like water on glass. You don't have to let the negative comment affect you! React properly and it will not ruin your day.

A wrong reaction could result in losing a friend, being fired, getting stressed out etc.

Remember the 90/10 principle, and do not worry about it.

Now you know the 90-10 principle. Apply it and you will be amazed at the results. You will lose nothing if you try it".

Are we any wiser???

Sunday, April 18, 2010


We, my wife and I, were to drive back from Chandigarh to Delhi over the weekend ending 11 Apr 10, and we had some time to spare. A day before the return we decided to drive to Delhi, via Rishikesh. The last time I had visited Rishikesh was in 1992, and this place where the Ganga emerges from the hills had left a spellbinding impact on me. I always wanted to return but never had the chance to do so, due to other more important pre-occupations. This was a golden opportunity and I did not want to miss it. I am not the religious kind but do enjoy being alone in the lap of nature in the hills, or close to them.

Rishikesh in September 1992 was nature personified.. hills, water in the form of the Ganga, trees, flora, birds, fish, and the all present air of mysticism. Sadhus and Ashrams abounded but they were minus the commercial aspects of Haridwar. After this visit in 1992, I could always visualise, in my mind's eye, standing on the centre of the 'Ram jhoola' and watching the beautiful, svelte, rapid Ganga emanating from a narrow hilly gorge onto the plains and slowing and expanding to fill the land between the Ashrams on one bank (Eastern banks) and the Haridwar - Rishikesh - Joshimath road on the Western bank. It was magical to watch the sun rise from behind the hills from where the Ganga emerged.
(click on the photographs for a larger view)
Sun rise from behind the hills - with the Ram jhoola, the Marine Drive and Ganga in the foreground.

Rishikesh had given a huge solace to me on this trip in 1992, and thus, the memory of this trip had always stayed with me. It was on this trip that I had for the first time read the literal translation in English of the Bhagwad Gita shloks (verses) from cover to cover in the pocket size edition of the Gita in one sitting and felt its huge uplifting impact on me. We entered Rishikesh with this background in my mind, on 09th evening.

Poonam's uncle had been to Rishikesh a few days earlier and advised us to not miss the Ganga Aarti at the Parmarth Niketan ashram.

Ganga view from the Parmarth Niketan ashram

Parmarth Niketan ashram across the Ganga - view from our room's window

We managed to reach the ashram in time to attend the Aarti, but not in time for accommodation.

The Aarti, and the bhajans that followed, was a very sublime experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. This finished at about 7 pm and we started hunting for a place to stay but could not find any place in the now greatly expanded and commercial ashrams, hotels and guest houses - all due to the 'Kumbh' mela, I believe. Finally we stayed at a guest house where the only thing that was worth mentioning was a comfortable bed for the night. We were to drive out the next morning and so we just tucked in after a hectic day.

The next morning we were strolling down the 'Marine drive' on the western banks of the Ganges. I did not want to miss this opportunity to have 'Ganga shnaan' in the

clear, cold water of the Ganga and thus stripped down to my trunks and waded in. The water felt nice and I had a good dip in the Ganga. I had to come out after some time as my feet had gone cold. It was very peaceful and blissful and we decided that we could stay for another night, only if we could find some decent place to stay with the balcony, or window, overlooking the Ganga. We found one guest house that had balconies and windows overlooking the Ganga, as we had wanted. On inquiry, we found place there. We immediately moved out of our earlier place into this guest house and booked ourselves for white water rafting down the Ganges from Shivpuri to Rishikesh,
Shivpuri - the launch point for our white water rafting experience.

a stretch of 18 kms with 7 rapids along the way. The total trip would be about 3 hours, which included driving to Shivpuri in the Tata Sumo and then rafting down. We wanted to start at 2 pm so that we could be in time for the Aarti.

All set - let's go, as soon as I get my helmet.

The white water rafting trip went exactly as per plan - it took me sometime to convince Poonam though, on doing this adventure trip. She was not convinced, stating that she was 50 years and this was when I clinched the deal with, "At this age you have nothing to lose". Credit must go to her - she agreed, BUT not before making me promise that if anything happens to her - "please tell my kids, my mother and my brother that she loved them, etc."

Are you sure this is going to be alright? - last minute clarifications!!

We negotiated rapids with exotic names like Roller Coaster (Grade-4), Golf Course (Grade-4), Double Trouble, Club House, Hilton, Initiation and Terminator. The rubberised raft had place for 10 + 2 and we were 9 + 2. Poonam was given the centre front seat to keep her fears at bay and the rest of us were plonked on the sides with paddles in hand. It was a wonderful experience and Poonam too said that she enjoyed it BUT only after it was all over. One 30 year old man wanted to be let off the raft after the second rapid as he was really scared. Somehow he managed to stick on and completed the trip. I enjoyed myself with the the rapids, paddling, going overboard, swimming in the Ganga and cliff jumping off an approx 6 metre high cliff.

Atop the 6 metre cliff - Ready for the jump.

Climbing out of the icy cold water, after the 20 ft high cliff jump

We made it in time for the evening Aarti and had a good night's rest before leaving the next morning for Delhi. All in all it was a sublime and, also, thrilling experience, and is recommended for those who want to have some adventure in the spiritual and physical planes. The trip to Rishikesh provided relaxation to us for both the soul and the body.