destination india

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

crumbling empires

We were once famous for our predictions, we had complete control of the stars and other heavenly bodies, and astrology was our strength. Some of us even had the power to forecast evil happenings – the privilege of how best to circumvent it was reserved for those who had the ability to finance associated pujas to appease the evil entities and propiate the Gods. From a land of snake charmers and rope tricks, we graduated to take over control of cyberspace – our children have proved to the world at large that they are second to none when it comes to intellect. To us, New York and Seattle are like our very own roads next block. Thanks to the brilliant communication networks, we can converse with each other thousands of kilometers away; we can exchange good nights before turning in and wake up with a ‘hello son’ next morning.

But, in such enchanting scenarios, empires still keep on crumbling.

First there was Sourav, the loss of his empire may not have been his own fault, and might have been a result of circumstances over which he had no control. But, the fact remains – he had to step down. Then it was the Laloo empire in Bihar – he, it is understood, is discovering the hard way how to handle and control a bunch of cattle once you are left out in the cold. There after it was this trouble brewing between the Thackrey brothers that came out in the open much to the embarrassment of the supremo Balasaheb. Close on its heels came the ouster of Jagmohan – he was toppled by the strong man of Maharastra who wields enough power to topple political empires. The latest in this line is Uma-ji – it is common knowledge that she loves to defy those in authority. She is now bent upon proving a point or two.

The basic reason for empires to come crumbling down is over confidence. Then there is the attitude of arrogance – in layman’s language it is called ‘dadagiri’. We have seen a combination of these two bring about the downfall of many. When signs of a revolt are noticed, immediate action is warranted – if you pretend that everything is hunky-dory, you are playing into the hands of your opponents. It is easier to manipulate a known enemy than to repose trust in an unknown friend.

winter wins hands down

Winter to me is the best of seasons where joyous moments keep barging into each other at every step. It is that time of the year when the body accepts gladly those mouth-watering delicacies that decorate the showcases of the mithaiwallahs. In Kolkata, this is when nalen gur comes into the market. Sandesh prepared with this sweetener instead of the traditional sugar has a distinct flavor of its own. This is available for hardly three months starting from the Kali puja. When the train enters West Bengal early in the morning and you see people huddled up with their backs to the sun, you can smell the nalen gur in the air - it is something unique to Bengal.

Consider summer – the heat gets on your nerves, cold drinks and fruit juices leave you perspiring and tempers are always on boiling point. To counter the heat, you wear light colored dresses, to protect your face from the ravages of sunshine and dust, you cover up the exposed portions as best as you can – this is especially true for those who commute on two wheelers. For those who travel in air-conditioned comfort, life out of the cool environments is akin to torture chambers. Those who advise you to take care of your health keep harping on prickly heat powders and soaps, creams and lotions that allow you to regain your lost charms.

During the rainy season, water logged roads create mayhem to your travel plans. Journeys become unpredictable and you have to lug around those terrible contraptions called umbrellas and raincoats and gumboots. You cannot show off your new dress – it remains hidden. The advertisements that catch the eyes during this season are the ones for medicines related to cough, cold, stomach upsets and the like.

Winter is, undoubtedly, the queen of all seasons. There is freshness all around, flowers bloom in every nook and corner of the countryside, the markets overflow with the goodies of nature, vegetables are in abundance and – most importantly – this is the time to show off your wardrobes. Yes, pullovers, shawls, mufflers, and hand gloves are required to combat the biting cold – but there is variety, unlike umbrellas and raincoats and gumboots.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

a centurion of kolkata

The majestic Howrah Station will be one hundred years old on the first of December 2005. It is one of the two railway stations of Kolkata where long distance trains from different parts of the country terminate.

A program has been scheduled to mark the occasion. An exhibition of rare books and manuscripts and photographs will be thrown open to the public. The exhibition will be on the banks of the Hoogly. A book will also be released on the occasion. Excerpts from the book -

‘…….British architect Halsey Ralph Ricardo, who designed the station building, prepared the drawings. They, along with the maps, have been restored ……. “We came across a report stating that the new station building (the old complex) was commissioned on December 1, 1905,” said Majumdar. “The construction began in 1901 and continued till 1911,” he added.

Initially, the building housed six platforms. After electrification in 1957, the station was expanded. Detailed architectural drawings of the building were prepared between 1901 and 1905. They show provision for a zenana waiting room (ladies’ waiting room), a third-class waiting hall, intermediate waiting hall, third-class booking office and intermediate booking office. ………..“The huge clock was strategically placed on top of the tower in the north-eastern corner with the face towards the east, so that people crossing the Hooghly from Calcutta can see it from a distance,” the book explains.

According to the documents, the building cost Rs 4,62,695. Read more –

The station has, at present, 24 platforms and continuously handles incoming and outgoing trains both locals and long distance. The platforms and waiting halls are always jam-packed. Earlier, vendors and hawkers would occupy the platforms – nowadays, checks have been put and unauthorized vendors are not allowed to operate. There are taxi stands where taxis can be hired – there is also a provision of prepaid taxis. To enter the city proper, there are three routes – the first via the Howrah Bridge, the second by launch from the jetty just opposite the station and the third via the second Howrah Bridge.

An interesting link to ‘rediscovering india’ –

the fast changing skylines

Where there is a will, there is a way – the dynamic Chief Minister of West Bengal is proving it repeatedly. He has the Kolkattans practically eating out of his hands, irrespective of party affiliations. The reason is that he wants to change the concept that West Bengal has nothing to offer except politically mature masses that love poetry, wait for sandwiching holidays and hate to do any type of hard work where physical exertion is involved. With the setting up of IT base in Kolkata and open invitations to anyone opting to invest in this state, it is but natural that Sri Buddhadev Bhattacharji is growing in stature by leaps and bounds.

The latest proposal to change the skyline of Kolkata is the concept of a waterway linking the city from North to South – the Maratha Ditch canal that goes from Chitpur via Ultodanga to Kulti crossing Rajarhat is expected to be thrown open to the public in January. This path of this body of water is being widened and the depth is also being increased to accommodate the motorized launches. Illegal hutments on the banks are being removed and beautification has been taken up on priority. Once operational, people can use it to reach Howrah station and traffic jams will not pose any problem. The motorized launches will be capable of carrying 150 passengers and there will be ten jetties or stations: three main ones will be at Chitpur, Rajarhat and Kulti. Balance seven are planned at R G Kar, Ultodanga, Lake Town, Baishakhi, Krishnapur, Bhojer-hat (near Bantala Leather complex) and Bhangur. There will be shopping malls, hotels and restaurants at all the jetties.

A second new project reported is that of a novel eating place where you can see live fish in the aquarium, select the ones you want and they will be served to you on a platter – you have to grant its preparation time. This exotic place is situated in the Nalban area of Sector-V of Salt Lake: home to the IT people. It will be run by the State Fisheries Department.

‘Landing on the Mars’ is a presentation of the Energy Park located on the EM Bypass. Encouraged by its success with the simulated ‘Journey to the Sun’ in Auigust-2003, that has been appreciated by 50,000 plus persons, the new 18 minute simulation program is expected to be completed in December and thrown open to the public in January.

Monday, November 28, 2005

fingers are forever

Fingers and cricket are inseparable – the final decision on the field is given by the raised finger of the umpire, the ball is made to behave in astonishing ways by the bowlers by virtue of play of fingers on its seam and, when tensions rise, the captains are known to take over the art of whittling the fingernails.

Sir Winston Churchill, by his ‘V’ for Victory sign, made public display of fingers famous. We threaten others with raised fingers and, when we try to impress an audience, we punch the air and stab unseen enemies by resorting to fingers once again. Another famous finger was Goldfinger, a character created by Ian Fleming. The exploits of James Bond with Goldfinger were made into wonderful movie in 1964 – it was the third James Bond movie after Dr. No and From Russia with Love starring Sean Connery as the super spy James Bond. . Talking about thumbs, there was a character called Tom Thumb – have the modern day children heard about this darling?

The thumb is an important finger where legal matters are concerned – people who cannot read or write have to append their thumb impression on documents because, the whirls and loops of the thumb are considered to be unique – no two thumb impressions are the same.

The thumbs-up sign originated in the Air Force – it is the signal given by the groundsmen to the pilot of a fighter aeroplane to signify that the stage is set for take off. The sign has now come to be associated with cold drinks. While on the subject of drinks, let us not forget the finger chips – they go beautifully with practically any drink, hard or hot.

In conclusion, we must remember that when you point a finger at someone, there are four more that point back at you.

the ones that got away

The media loves to involve the public in various exercises that have no rhyme or reason, that appear to be outputs of infertile brains – the replies via SMS has become a new tool which has been discovered to reap fairly good dividends. The worst part is that burning issues are shoved under the carpet so that the concerned parties heave a sigh of relief and turn their attention to newer topics that, in due course of time, will vanish from the memory of the public.

The case of Sarabjeet, is one such – lots of assurances were given, prayers were made for the safe return of the person, the top leaders on both sides of the fence assured everyone that the final outcome will be a happy one. Nothing further has been heard.

Then the case of an Indian Air force woman officer who was under court martial – she had waged a lone war against the administration. It would be interesting to know her present fate.

Or the case of the young man of Patna who was selling fake degree certificates from his counter – the number of graduates who are gainfully employed based on these documents is not known. Neither do we know anything about the person. Of course, a recently appointed Minister of Bihar had to relinquish his post within twenty-four hours due to his suspected links with this scandal. The new Chief Minister wants a clean administration that can inject new concepts in a setup that has lost its sense of direction. It is strange that the he was ignorant of this fact while allotting him a ministerial berth!

Oh – then there was the gutkha baron who was a prominent sponsor of Bollywood award nights. He also was reportedly involved in shady dealings – it would be interesting to find out his present status.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

make and break

There is a saying - rules are for fools and a corollary, records are meant to be broken.
A record is an acknowledgement of ones superiority over others. When Mahendra Singh Dhoni played the mind blogging knock of 180 plus, he became the first wicket keeper to do so in ODI. It is a wonder that wicket keepers have never got the recognition they deserve. In fact, they should be better run getters because, squatting behind the stumps, they know the turns and twists that the ball is likely to take once it hits the ground. That is his job – he has to anticipate the behavior of the ball and position himself accordingly. Therefore, he should carry his knowledge to the field when he faces the bowlers of the opposition camp. In this context, the name of Farokh Engineer (the Brylcream man of the 70s, born 25/2/1938) deserves a mention. He not only kept wickets in the test matches but also opened the Indian innings.

That Guinness book of World records and the Limca book of records owe their popularity to the fact that all over the world, someone somewhere makes a record and someone else breaks it like Sunil Manohar Gavaskar – his 10,000 runs in test cricket has already been overhauled, his highest number of test centuries will be the next one to bite the dust. Sachin Tendulkar has broken the record for the highest number of appearances in ODIs when he participated in the 4th ODI against South Africa in Kolkata – it would have been more in the fitness of things if he had presented his admirers with a more remarkable innings to mark the occasion. People remember an achievement better if it carriers with it statistics worth remembering – but, a record is a record all the same.

Brian Lara continues to set new records – and he does them with nonchalance, as if its all a part of the game. No media hype, no extraordinary expectations – he goes to the field and tries to better his previous performance. In the bargain, he lands up with a record! Of course, we seldom see him in ads – that may be a reason why he can concentrate more on the game and devote his spare time to improving his game. When he reaches a milestone, both he and his countrymen rejoice.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

age is no constraint

Vijaypat Singhania, 67, has shown to the world what old men are capable of – he flew in a hot air balloon from Mumbai to Nasik, a distance of nearly 200 kilometers. He is active even now and has not allowed age to overpower him. It is proved once again that you are as old as you feel! Read the full story -

Old is gold, old is beautiful. In keeping with modern traditions, we package and market old wine in new bottles – it is the appearance that matters. Even though it is said that appearances are deceptive, we fall for them lock stock and barrel. It is true in all walks of life – the boss who has such a charming smile will never hesitate to strike the knife into you from the back, if it suits him. The sweet kid next door can be a terror if left with you for a whole day. The young woman who you meet every day while crossing the road, who you dream of in your spare time may, in all probability, turn out to be a married one who does not believe in exhibiting signs of being married.

An impression exists that bloggers are basically young persons who want to get something off their heads or want to prove a point or two. The blogging scene is overcrowded with teenagers and the youth who consider this to be a medium to let off steam. A report in one of the blog sites indicate that 20% of teenagers are addicted to blogs and, it came as a pleasant surprise to learn that 3% of bloggers are seniors over sixty years of age! These old-timers need to be encouraged to blog more frequently because they have loads of experiences that can be shared with those that do not possess them.

There is a website exclusive to the old timers – Here, there are links to at least nine persons who are over sixty -

My Mom's Blog – Mildred Garfield, born 1925
me and the cat – Lorraine, born 1930
Light Sweet Crud – Rey Barry, born 1937
TimeGoesBy – Ronni Bennett, born 1941
kdip's – K, born 1941
tanlucypez – Tan Lucy Pez, born 1941
long-toothed hinterland dweller – Jude, born 1943
organized chaos – Sharron, born 1944
Blogging in Paris – Claude, born 1944

Friday, November 25, 2005

shaadi in movie style

There have been quite a number of films with the theme of marriage, or shaadi as we Indians prefer to call the holy arrangement. Yes, no matter what views others may have, marriage is indeed a bond that binds together two minds, two souls, and two bodies. People have been heard to comment that shaadi is nothing but barbadi. Also, it is said that those who have tasted the laddoo (sweets) of shaadi repent over it like the ones who have not tasted them! It is a sword that cuts both ways. Whatever it may be, the fact remains that the institution of marriage has launched a number of associated home industries right from fancy invitation cards to decorating the palms with mehndi to bridal hairstyles and body care and umpteen others areas. There are exclusive shops that specialize in laying out the best of fineries because marriage, when it comes for the first time, is an occasion for celebration. There have been instances of air borne marriages in aeroplanes and underwater marriages. Irrespective of the medium, marriage has its plus points. Marriages are made in heaven, the learned say and unmade in courtrooms. The charm of arranged marriages, where the bride and the groom see each other for the first in the mandap has an attraction of its own. It has spawned several films where the boy and girl interact innocently without knowing that they are made for each other, courtesy their parents!

The following are a few films where ‘shaadi’ is the theme:

Mein shaadi karne chala, - 1962 starring Mumtaz: nothing much available on the net.

Shaadi ke baad – this Yashj-Raj film of 1972 had Shatrughan Sinha, Jeetendra, Paintal and. Rakhee.

Chameli ki shaadi – directed by Basu Chatterjee, this film of 1986 was a hit. It starred Anil Kapoor and Amrita Singh

Mere yaar ki shaadi hai – this film of 2002 is labeled as a romantic comedy and has in its cast Uday Chopra, Bipasha Basu and Sanjana

Shaadi se pehle – this film of Subhas Ghai’s Mukta Arts of 2005 is directed by Satish Kaushik and has in its cast Akshay Khanna, Mallika and Ayesha Takia. Songs sung by Daler Mehndi pep it up.

Mujhse shaadi karogi – starring Solomon Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Akshay Kumar and Amrish Puri is directed by the one and only David Dhawan.

Shaadi No. 1 – is yet another output of the David Dhawan laboratory. In its roles are three pairs of youngsters Fardeen Khan and Ayesha Takia, Sharman Joshi and Soha Ali Khan, Zayed Khan and Esha Deol.Shaadi karke phas gaye yaar – another of the latest ‘shaadi’ films starring Solomon Khan and Shilpa Shetty.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

holy smokes

Smoke is associated with fire. Therefore, the term ‘holy smokes’ is surprising. Fire burns and it is common knowledge that there is no smoke without fire. A smoking gun means someone somewhere has breathed his last. Inhaling a lungful of smoke means you are shortening your life span. Probably, the adjective ‘holy’ has been assigned to ‘smoke’ because the red Indians used to send smoke signals to pass messages over long distances before the railroad came into existence. Smoking the peace pipe by the red Indians and the whites could be another reason for attaching ‘holy’ to smokes. The comic character of Phantom, the ghost who walks, was created by Lee Falk – Phantom received his important messages via this medium. And then there are the smokes that emanate from joss sticks and have a soothing effect on the nerves; not to forget smoke from yagnas, to appease the Gods. The dish that goes by the name of smoking salmon is a favorite and when the law stretches its arms to smoke out the culprits from their hiding place, the smoke detector does not help the cause of the culprits. Of course, smoke screens are, as we all know, used in wartime to move forward troops under cover of smoke created specially for the purpose of deception.

To cap it all, the unholy alliance of smoke and fog gives rise to a phenomenon called smog that throws the meticulously drawn up travel schedules haywire – trains do no run on time, flights are delayed or diverted and cars crawl on the highways.

As usual, search on the net revealed interesting websites as follows:

‘The Smoke Ring’ is the place to find everything you need to know about barbecue, grilling and smoking. Whether you are looking for recipes, grills, smokers, sauces, rubs, or want to learn how to cook barbecue The Smoke Ring, or one of our almost 800 member sites, has what you need.

Movie ‘Smoke Signals’ in 1998 -

The ‘Holy smoke’ website -

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

the charms of outsourcing

The Americans outsource their activities because they take advantage of the time difference and one of the reasons is that while the Americans sleep, we are fully awake – hence, their activities are not confined to eight or twelve hours but encompass all of twenty four hours: half belongs to them, the other half belongs to us Indians who have embraced the new way of life and living. Another reason is the cheap labor we offer.

It was therefore interesting to learn that there is a scheme of outsourcing homework of children and project work of those who do not have the time to go around collecting information that needs to be compiled and submitted as per the rules in force. Obviously, the system has its positive points and has found enough supporters. At present, this profession is a close knit one with knowledgeable persons arranging the give-and-take method of propagating learning – give rupees and take the bound volumes. It can be presumed that, given some more time, there may be coaching classes to train interested persons in the art of extending such exclusive support – the syllabus would include reference of local libraries where one can lay hands on certain type of reading material. And, to make the training attractive enough, there could be guaranteed earnings of five thousand per month – in your spare time. Work from home has never been this easy!

In this connection, I am reminded of outsourcing the work of the kitchen – with both husband and wife working to take care of the innumerable installments committed to, they have little or no spare time to sit down to prepare chapattis: hence, the local aunty is available, she supplies hot oven fresh chapattis. As the couple waits in the car and munches the burgers or shares a plate of chat, the mausi prepares the dinner packets and carries them over to the car. During festivals, she puts up for sale delicacies that used to be once prepared by the aged members of the families. Alas, with elders absent in the households of the youngsters of today, their desire for those delicacies are met by aunty-ji or mausi-ji. How she is addressed is immaterial, what she offers is more important.

When we outsourced childcare via crèches, not many eyebrows were raised. Outsourcing of the kitchen was not abnormal. We have now taken the step of outsourcing schoolwork. The next step would probably to outsource birth of babies via surrogate mothers. But, one thing that can never be outsourced is death.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

new age movies

There was this hit movie of the sixties in which the great guitar-carrying singer Cliff Richards was the hero. He sang practically all the songs, strumming on his guitar. It was a simple story of a group of boys and girls out on a Summer Holiday – yes, that was the name of the movie. The backdrop was a double-decker bus and the antics of the members of the group did not appear to be something out of this world, they were young and bubbling with enthusiasm. Nearly half a century has passed since then and, what was the rage in the West then has settled on us Indians now – practically every other movie has the same boy meets girl theory. The songs and dances continue unabated and the rich gets the poor or vice versa seems to be the accepted norms. Variations are few and far between. Our aging heroes and heroines love to play act roles of the teenagers. We are still in the fifties! When it comes to movies where violence is the theme, we still have those easily forgettable song and dance numbers that are invariably out of place. The reason for their inclusion is that even if the movie flops, the CDs of the dance numbers can make the producer break even. The promos are full of suggestive motions and innuendos and, because these CDs are released much in advance of the final product, they find readymade markets. Hence, the producers are gainers in any case. Jokers are an inseparable part of any movie: the days of type cast ones like Johnny Walker or Keshto Mukherjee or I S Johar have given way to the hero who doubles up as the joker. Similar to the heroines: once the roles of vamps were played by a select number of artists, today the heroines themselves have taken on that additional responsibility – advantage once again to the Producer: he does not have to shell out money on two counts.

Another trend that seems to be raising its head and calling for attention is redoing old time greats – we had the color version of Mughal-e-Azam. Now, Taj Mahal has hit the screen and people are waiting for Sholay. But, all said and done, remake of a hit movie of a particular period is not like remixes of popular old time favorite songs. The movie seconds will not have the appeal of the originals – good storylines can certainly have different interpretations and be presented in different ways. But, the success of the originals cannot be taken for granted for the subsequent versions.

Monday, November 21, 2005

foreign direct investments

The South Africans are locked in a 1-1 situation: what will the final tally be like? Jodi No. 1, as one of the TV channels has identified the winning combination of CD (Chappell-Dravid to the uninitiated!) has experimented left right and center. We are now told that, instead of eleven players, we have twenty-two to choose from. Keep the opponents guessing is the latest buzzword. The way the lions were mauled by the tigers is something that will be discussed time and again till a newer topic emerges – like new all-rounders. But then, if we have a whole lot of all-rounders, how do we assign priorities? Will we resort to the toss of the coin every time a wicket goes down? As it is, we have concentrated on developing fast bowlers and have neglected to locate a partner for Bhajji – that is what the news clip showed last night. Chappell has requisitioned the services of a local youngster to bowl at the nets. He has identified the Achilles heel – our once-upon-a-time fabled spin department is down in the dumps, it needs a shot in the arm. We have identified fast bowlers; now let us look around for variety in spin.

While on the subject of foreign investments in the field of cricket, it would be worthwhile to explore similar possibilities in football and hockey. Both these games have been consigned to the back burners and, what is probably needed to revive interest is a different approach, a new outlook. We have been inducting foreigners in football teams as players on a regular basis for quite some time – why not go for coaches as well? We have accepted the concept of FDIs in various aspects of our lives starting from eatables to insurance. We queue up to send our children to study in far off Australia, New Zealand and Canada; we celebrate our festivals with products from China’s small-scale industries. We are gradually shedding inhibitions and embracing all that is good from whichever corner of the world they may emanate. We want to prove to the world a point or two. Hence it would be in the fitness of things to send out probes for foreign coaches in hockey and football.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

lady luck

Is it not strange that we refer to Luck in the feminine? Is it to be presumed that Luck is an entity that is gentle, caring, and understanding? We agree that Luck has her charms like any lady and is more elusive than her; if not properly handled, she can create problems for he who feels that he is lucky – examples are galore. Consider the simple lottery ticket – pay a nominal amount, buy a ticket and keep building castles in the air of what you will do when you finally have the fantastic sum in your grasp. The fact that you continue to dream and continue to patronize the local ticket counters even though your dreams do not materialize is proof enough that Lady Luck can make you go round in circles like the girl next door who finally leaves the scene in someone else’s doli!

Similar is the case of one who is lucky to come out of an accident and live to tell the tale. We see them on TV whenever a calamity strikes – on the one side you see bodies of the unlucky ones and on the other side you listen to the gory tales of what happened from the lucky onmes. If the survivors are young kids, the picture is still more pathetic – the blank stares try to piece together lost images. That is Lady Luck for you – she has left these helpless souls out in the cold. When they grow up, they will have these miserable scenes haunt them, they will continuously be on the receiving end of taunts: ‘you wretch, you have swallowed all those who loved you and are now waiting to devour the others who wish you well’. It would not be surprising if they suffer mental breakdowns. Would it not be interesting to take census of persons who have sordid tales of this nature hidden in some corner of their subconscious minds? They could be victims of rail accidents, of bomb blasts, or of natural calamities. Has any NGO undertaken an exercise of this nature – to find how those lucky survivors are spending their time today? Time is a great healer, but can time actually heal such wounds?

Therefore, when you feel lucky the next time around, think of its ramifications – the temporary elation may not last forever. There are always invisible strings attached, nothing comes for free, a price has to be paid.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

legal loopholes

The legal profession is, we are given to understand, one where only the sharpest of individuals can survive. To be a success in this very specialized field, one has to cultivate friends at all levels – one does not know when who may prove useful!

Ours is a country where it is terribly easy to get marked for life. All it needs is lodging of an FIR in the police station, a couple of persons to file an affidavit that whatever is being reported is true and - you have the law knocking at your door. Depending on your standing in the local neighborhood and the clout you possess, the police may drag you out by your collar or force you to accompany them to the police station for investigations. It is a different thing that recording of FIRs depend on the whims and fancies of the policemen on duty but, once recorded, you have a lot of explaining to do. This is one of the many reasons why the Election Commission is unable to implement the provision that those who have criminal records cannot contest elections. As we have seen, it is so easy to throw a mantle of doubt over any individual – and that is just what politicians insist happens. None of those who we feel have criminal records are really guilty. The opposition has framed them. They are in fact innocent citizens who never step on the wrong side of the law but, the law enforcement machinery being what it is, the poor leaders have to tread cautiously. When the police say that there are so many criminal cases against an individual, they mean the sum total of all the false allegations that have been made against them from the time they came to the limelight – until any of them is proved beyond a shadow of doubt, the individual will remain free. And, conviction seldom comes because the witnesses are threatened with dire consequences or are eliminated – giving an effect of accidental death to an intentional murder is but child’s play to these so called innocent citizens.

The magician who performs these miracles is one who dons the black robe and can prove at the drop of a hat that the moon shines in the day – he is gifted with oratory powers that would put many a politician to shame.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

childrens day celebrations

14th November, the birthday of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, is celebrated all over the country every year as Children’s day or Bal divas. Pandit-ji or Chacha Nehru, as the children fondly called him, loved children and wanted to see that they brought glory to the motherland. On this occasion, programs are held in schools, children film shows are arranged and social leaders try to bring joy to the lives of the deprived children for at least one day in the year. However, no amount of legislation has been able to curb the exploitation of child labor – even today, they slog in hotels and restaurants, in fireworks factories, in the zaree and construction industries. The authorities seldom take the culprits to task. The deprived children are compelled to live in miserable conditions from which there is no salvation. They grow up with bitterness in their minds. In due course of time, they turn to illegal activities. Alas, the dreams of Chacha Nehru remain as dreams for them. For the TV addicts, the day should be of movies meant specially for children, movies that they can enjoy, movies like Home Alone or Baby’s day out or Tiger King of ET and not serious off beat films where sentiments rule. Why, oh why can our filmmakers not make simple films for children and not resort to gimmicks of trying to toss up a khichdi that has little or no takers – not even if you make it Tax free.

Universal Children's Day as declared by the Institute for Planetary Synthesis, Geneva is on the 1st Monday in October; also 20 November, adoption by the U.N. General Assembly of the Convention on the Rights of the Child –

Children’s day is celebrated in New Zealand on October 30th – see news report –

In Canada there are two days earmarked - 20 November: National Child Day - National Child Day celebrates two historic events for children: the adoption of the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959) and Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). 25 May: National Missing Children's Day - National Missing Children's Day raises public awareness of the Canadian children who go missing each year, and highlights the success of the federal Our Missing Children program.

Children's day Celebrations in Japan (known as Shichigosan Blessing) is among the most colorful rituals in the world. Every November parents take their 3 and 5 year-old boys and 3 and 7 year-old girls, dressed up in their best traditional Japanese kimono and fashionable costumes, to local shrines to receive divine blessings. This charming event, which is celebrated all over the country, remains one of the happiest memories of everyone's childhood. The 6th International Children’s Day celebrations were held on 8-9/10/2005.

Friday, November 11, 2005

the world is round

The Times of India reported a case of duping of lottery ticket buyers by conmen – the Dahisar police have cracked the case swiftly. It seems the conmen promise cash rewards of up to Rs 3000 to unsuspecting lottery ticket buyers within fifteen minutes of buying the ticket. And, they make off with the commission money! The bait appeared as an innocuous ad in a local Gujarati vernacular paper: it had a mobile number. Whoever wished to earn a quick buck through the Super Lotto was asked to contact the number. Once contacted, the gang would ask the bakra to come over to some crowded place like a restaurant. The gang charged 10% as commission in advance and promised to see the matter through by taking him in a cabbie to the lottery agent. Once the ticket was purchased, they would keep on contacting their network at regular intervals. From the one sided feedback, the victim is assured that with every passing minute, he is getting nearer his goal, his number is getting added to the winning ticket list. When the victim is on cloud nine, the gang members make a carefully planned withdrawal from the scene.

A similar case of duping is reported in a local vernacular paper from Kolkata. Here, the gang targets small time businessmen and, with the promise of obtaining for them lucrative contracts, they decamp with whatever cash they can lay their hands on. It happened thus – a young man from the suburbs became the target. He had a small business selling wooden furniture. The gang approached him and dropped the bait of a large enough contract of all wooden work pertaining to an up and coming building under construction in the posh Salt Lake area. They even took him in a cabbie to the site and showed him around the premises. The young man was impressed. They explained that the total work would be in the region of seven to eight lakhs – and, to bag the contract, a nominal fee of one lakh should not pose any problem. They brainwashed the youth, and had a number of meetings and get-togethers. Whenever they visited the site, other gang members would take over and speak authoritatively as if they had the power to influence the decisions of the owners. Our young friend fell for the trap. He sold off his business, disposed off his bicycle and handed over the money. They fled the scene! The police have, since, nabbed them.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

guinness world records featuring indians

Change the record - it's make or break time! Frustrated? Looking to vent steam? Feel like smashing something to pieces? Be our guest! For the first time ever, Guinness World Records is holding Guinness World Records Day and Wednesday 9th November gives the chance for everyone in the world - yes that includes you - to make or break their very own record!

As on date, there are only a handful of Indians who have received this prestigious award and one more is preparing to pave his way into the portals of fame.

WR: Most Forward-Thinking Rail Traveller
On 19th Jan 2000 Fakhruddin Takulla (India) travelled from Mumbai (Bombay) to New Delhi, both India, using a ticket he had purchased on 15 July 1973- 26 years 6 months earlier. Takulla used the unlimited booking service offered by the Indian Railway Authority so that he could attend the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Indian Independence.

WR : Cheapest Cities
In the Economist Intelligence Unit's bi-annual survey. Indian cities New Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay) finished with the lowest and cheapest rankings. With New York City, USA, used as a median (ranked at 100), Mumbai and New Delhi rated just 42 and 41 respectively.

WR : Biggest Donation of Hair
Pilgrims to the Tirupathi Temple in Andhra Pradesh. India, which attracts an average of 30,000 visitors per day, donate their hair as a form of sacrifice. The 600 barbers employed by the temple shave the pilgrims' heads 24 hours a day and more than $2.2 million (1.4 million pounds) a year is raised through the auction of the hair.

WR : Biggest Wedding Banquet
Jayalalitha Jayaram, a movie star and former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, India, hosted and paid for a luncheon for over 150,000 guests at the wedding of her foster son, V.N.Sudhakaran to N.Sathyalakshmi. The banquet was served by the coast in the state capital, Chennai, on 7 Sept 1995.

WR : Longest Fingernails
The world's longest fingernails are those of Shridhar Chillal of Poona. India. On 8 July 1998 the nails on his left hand were measured on the television show Guinness World Records : Primetime and found to have a total length of 6.15 m (20 ft 2.25 in). He does not grow the nails on his right hand.

WR : Highest ODI Partnership
The highest-scoring batting partnership in a one-day international is 331, by Sachin Tendulkar (186 not out) and Rahul Dravid (153) for India v New Zealand at Hyderabad, India, on 8 Nov 1999.
WR : Best Bowling in the World Cup for the blind
The best bowling analysis was 3-12, by Bhalaji Damor for India v Sri Lanka at Roshanara Club on 18 Nov 1998.

WR : Longest Individual Innings
Rajiv Nayyar (India) batted for 16 hr 55 min when scoring 271 for Himachal Pradesh v Jammu and Kashmir at Chamba, India, from 1 to 3 Nov 1999.

WR : Youngest Test Captain
Nawab of Pataudi, who was 21 years 77 days old when he led India v West Indies at Bridgetown, Barbados, on 23 March 1962.

WR : Most Wickets in a test innings
Anil Kumble (India) took 10-74 for India v Pakistan at Ferozeshah Kolta Stadium, New Delhi, India, on 7 Feb 1999.

WR : Youngest First-class player
The youngest first-class player is reputed to be Esmail Ahmed Baporia (India), who played for Gujarat v Baroda at Ahmedabad, India, on 10 Jan 1951, aged 11 years 261 days

WR : Ramoji Film City - Ramoji Film City has been declared as the world’s largest film studio complex by Guinness World Records, the hugely respected and widely accepted keeper of world records.

WR : in the making -
Budhia Singh is just three and a half years old. He runs seven hours at a stretch, sometimes as much as 48km (30 miles). On a daily basis.
Budhia's coach has now set his eyes on a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
That, he says, will be possible when he can run for 90km at a stretch.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that he will achieve it soon", Mr Das says.

Monday, November 07, 2005

the flip option

The game of crorepati has, in its reincarnation, added an exciting option in their help lines – the flip option. When the occupant of the hot seat finds a question that is difficult for him to answer, he looks apologetically at the great Amitabh and selects the way out – ‘I’ll go for the flip option.’
To be frank, this option is nothing new. We have grown up with it. Remember the school days – there would be, for example, eleven questions and you were expected to answer only ten. And, in order to answer them to the satisfaction of the examiners, the student needed to possess adequate knowledge of the subject. He could not just tick and get away with it. On the contrary, he earned bonus points if he by quoted relevant extracts from authentic sources that are not usually covered in the prescribed text books – such acts earned the appreciation of the examiners. They would readily identify a potential personality in the making. The answer book used to present a pathetic sight unless its pages were nourished with adequate doses of the goodies accumulated over the years by the students. A well stacked answer book earned respect, always looked divine and was an examiner’s delight.

The flip option is a favorite of politicians. In common man’s parlance, it is called ‘changing the subject’ – whoever comes to power waxes eloquent whenever he faces the commoner but, when pinned down on his failings will sing the song: ‘I have just now taken over. These were handled miserably by the previous government. I assure you that things will change very soon’ - or words to that effect. The politician is more slippery than an eel dipped in oil. He makes no promise after he assumes office and loves to give evasive replies. If asked to indicate how many rail passengers perished in an accident, he will retort ‘the statistics show a downward trend; in fact our record is better than that of foreign countries’. If you ask him to confirm the final tally of natural disasters like floods and earthquakes, he will quote figures of similar calamities in other parts of the world. If questioned on the periodicity of the visit of water tankers to drought prone districts or villages, he will counter with – ‘the situation is completely under control’.

It is unfortunate that life is not that simple – when you do not have any option open before you, you turn to God and pray for deliverance. His is the final option.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

jammy jam sessions

Jam sessions used to be a popular means of spending time in our college days. During long stretches of idleness, when the concerned Professor did not turn up due to whatever reasons or did turn up but was summoned by the Principal for a tiny dose of some energy imparting tonic, we the students would crowd into the college canteen and have those Jam sessions. There was nothing really atrocious or outstanding in those sessions – Jam was an acronym for ‘Just a Minute’. Its modern version is in the AXN channel with its ‘win fame in sixty seconds’!! Nothing has changed much in all these years – what was one minute then is, today, sixty seconds. Isn’t it wonderful?

The Jammy of our piece is, as many of you must have guessed, our present captain. His nickname is, we are told, Jammy and, when he came on the scene, there was an ad in which he was shown sporting a pony tail with the punch line – ‘naya hai, ab style marega.’ Well, he has traveled a long way and, with the spectacular show of the talents that we possess, he has dealt a severe blow to the Sri Lankans. With the series already ours, the question that is on everyone’s lips is - ‘will it be a white wash?’The word Jam has now been given a new meaning – ‘Just a Match.’ Yes, in ODI, it is all about the game on a particular day, how the chips are stacked against us, what surprises we can spring on our opponents, how best we can balance our resources. As someone has rightly said, all games today are mind games. Whether it is tennis of chess or football, he who keeps his nerves emerges victorious. That is why the dedicated ones shine bright while those who bicker and crib discover that, one fine day, they have been discarded. The message is clear and unambiguous – deliver or perish.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

naughty at forty

Those who have played Tamboola or Housey are aware that when the number 40 is declared, it is accompanied by an appropriate set of words that rhyme wonderfully – ‘men get naughty at four zero forty.’ This is what strikes one when one notices that the media has gone ga-ga over an actor who has crossed this magical boundary. The channels keep churning out his movies and, the obvious happens – viewers curse and change channels because what you see on one channel surfaces in another in a different time slot. And, then, there are the interviews repeated over and over again shifting all other news to the background. We have become a nation of people who can be fed practically anything. We have lost the power to protest; therefore, anything can be forced down our throats.

Actors are basically those individuals who can make you cry and laugh simultaneously, they have mastered the arts of concealing their true feelings and emotions and the audience perceives only the tip of the iceberg. Over the years, there have been any number of actors who have crossed the threshold of forty – why then this sudden surge of excitement over a particular individual? Is this the beginning of a new culture – to rake up old memories to ensure that ones popularity does not dive? Efforts are on to remake old super duper hits with new faces – those who plan to embark on such missions must have studied the markets and are confident that the projects will not fail.

This brings us back to the familiar saying – old is gold. Even in this age of remixes, old lyrics are blended with new gen music and presented with scantily clad maidens. In the TV programs designed to identify new talents, invariably the olden day tunes and lyrics rule the day and win hands down. All these lead us to the sad conclusion that we have lost our sense of direction; we have lost the art of creation. No, I will not say that we copy – that is too harsh word. Let us say, we are inspired by them

another interesting link –

The Third World War