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November 4, 2012

The Flood of 98 !

Watching the news reports of the devastation left in the wake of super storm 'Sandy' across north-eastern seaboard of United States , I was left re-living the days in September of 1998, when, because of  river Tapi flooding, I was stranded at my rented accommodation in Surat, while working at Philips.   here is how it happened
BAPS Swaminayaran temple under 10 feet of water
17th Sep 1998 ---Heavy rains in the catchment area of river Tapi had increased the water level at the Ukai dam reservoir to alarming levels. Engineers decide they need to discharge water from the reservoir to protect the dam from structural damage .  Ukai dam build in 1971 is an earthen & masonry dam just like the Bhagra Nangal ."Vallabh sagar" reservoir that the damming of river Tapi has created, is one of the largest in India and in case the dam walls fail, it would be an apocalypse for south Gujarat. Morvi dam failure which occurred in Aug 1979 when Machchu dam on the Machhu river burst sending a wall of water 20 feet high through the town of Morvi in Rajkot district, had already earned the state, entry in Guinness book of world records for worst dam failure

11:00 -- Local radio make announcement's warning the residents of Surat , located at the mouth of river Tapi, 90 kms downstream from the dam , that some of the 33 gates of the Ukai dam will be opened at 16:00 hrs to ease the pressure on the dam. Everyone in the low lying areas of the city needs to evacuate.  Similar release of water the previous year had brought limited flooding of mere 1 feet to the city, so the landlord of the house, Dineshbhai, where I lived on the 1st floor of a duplex house, while his family lived on the ground floor, recommended that I stay put in Surat instead of taking an afternoon train to Baroda and out of  harms way.

16:00  --- gates of the Ukai dam open , releasing thousands of cusecs of water into Tapi

Surat an ancient city, that even has a mention in Mahabharat, as a city where Lord Krishna stopped over on his journey from Mathura to Dwarka.  It was one of the biggest commercial ports during the Mughal era, but lost its prominense to Bombay in the 17th century. City is surrounded by river Tapi on its three sides, thus in case the river floods, the entire city is submerged

Map of River Tapi as it flows thru Surat

18:00 -- Adajan Patia, located 300 meters from the west bank of the river, behind the famous BAPS Swaminarayan mandir,a stone throw from Nehru bridge. Our housing society looked like a local fair, everyone was outside chatting with neighbours, in eager anticipation, of the flood waters. I brought some last minute essentials - biscuits & chips & candles & milk powder (for tea)

19:00 -- Just as it was about to get dark, water arrived, first like a gentle stream, just a few inches. Children were out playing, splashing , floating paper boats. . In Surat itself, it had not rained for several days, the roads were practically dry, and it is an eerie experience to see how the flood water sneaks up on you and transforms a dry landscape into a flowing river.

20:30 -- the water level had increased to about 1 feet and stayed that way, just as Dineshbhai had predicted. By now we had lost power. We all settled down to while away the night. And thinking, I had made a good call to stay back in town, I drifted into sleep to be abruptly woken up .

22:00 --Apparently Engineers at Ukai had to open up all the 33 gates, and instead of settling ,the water level was rising and rising fast. Already the flood waters had entered the ground floor .. and Dineshbhai had moved the family valuables on the loft, but they had no place to seat so they all joined me on the 1st floor
23:00 --- It was pitch dark outside with only quarter of the Moon and no power. And flood waters are remarkably silent. Only when we walked down the steps to the ground floor could we see how much much the water level had risen. Over 4 feet and climbing. River was flowing right past our main door !! Some neighbours speculated that Tapi being a tidal river, tide was causing the flood waters to reverse flow.To add to this drama, as the flood water rushed passed a parked car door, the burglar alarm went off . Now we had an added misery of having to listen to the burglar alarm for the rest of the night till the cars battery died down.

I do not know how we managed to pass that night, but I certainly know it was a long one..
Morning after .. city submerged in water
5:00 am ---at the first light of dawn, practically the entire colony was on roof tops .. and what a sight the entire city submerged in over 6 feet of water. With scooters and cars parked on the street completely invisible below the flood waters. And the water continued to flow rapidly , several dogs and couple of cows who had not taken protection on higher ground were sucked by the sheer velocity of the flood water, we all watched helplessly from roof tops . As the main river channel was just a stone throw away, it would take but a few mins, if someone was sucked in this swollen river, to be driven out to the sea just a 3-4 kms downstream

11:00 am --- it was stalemate, no power, sun burning down on us, as we all sat on the roof tops .. without morning tea ( because tea made up of milk powder tastes awful)

12:00 --- Finally the sound of the helicopter blades,, and suddenly the crowd on the roof tops came alive ... with everyone expecting that it to be a rescue helicopter to drop food packets .. but alas it was the helicopter of then Gujarat chief minister Amarsigh Chowdhary who was getting some photo ops , doing a air survey of the devastation caused by the floods !!

17:00 -- flood waters began to recede and by night fall, streets were free of water -- but in its trail it left a devastated city !!
It took months for the city to get back on its feet and made a deep dent in my sales targets at Philips and was transferred to Bhopal in Feb of 1999. I have never visited Surat ever since ! But Surat has been devastated by similar floods several times since 1998. With worst being in 2006, when water level were over 10 feet, almost 40% more than the levels of 1998.    I used to live in an housing block a stone throw from this Swami Narayan temple.
Disclosure--  During the floods of 1998, I did not own a camera, all the pictures here are from the Internet, and were not copyrighted by their owners.

October 20, 2012

The Unforgetteble Nine Nights !!

Every year, as the Nine Nights festival of Navaratri passes me by , I am filled with a deep sense of regret of not being able to do as much Garba, in my youth, as I would have loved to. It was only 20 years later, I realized ,there were so many friends, who would have loved me to join them for Garba. But those days , without phones or Internet, if you lost touch with someone, only DIVINE INTERVENTION could make you meet again. 
Unlike running, Garba / Raas is a team event, you need a group to join in. For a teenager, growing up in Baroda, not having a group to go along for Garba during Navaratri could rank as the most distressing experience, it certainly was for me.  My predicament was quite unique, having enrolled in a Polytechnic (read boys diploma college) after 10th Std, I had the best of friends life could offer, ( Gaurang, Sajid, Bingo, Farhad, Nikunj) but when it came to Garba, they were mostly hopeless !  
Also once you were part of a group, unlike girls, who got free entry to all garba grounds, boys still had another hurdle to cross, they required an expensive "entry pass " to do Garba, at the most visited garba grounds -  Aarkee or United Way !! In the meanwhile, my challenges only compounded further, age 19, year 1995, I moved to Ahmedabad , to work for Voltas.

However my elder brother, Santosh, who has a very flamboyant, outgoing personality, had a large group of friends, and he was gracious & kind , to allow me to join them for doing garba. And whatever  interesting memories I have of Navaratri are of those few years- 1996-98 !
Those 9 Nights  ---  Travelling everyday in the evening 5 pm MEMU train from Ahmedabad to Baroda.  Reaching home to eat, rest and later get ready. Usually everyone arrived at the Garba ground by 11:00 pm , those days there were no restrictions on the timings and it was not unusual for folks to do Garba till wee hours of the morning, literally till the first light of dawn.  After doing Garba till around 4:30 am, Santosh used to drop me directly at the railway station , I used to take the 5 am MEMU train back to Ahmedabad still dressed in my traditional attire. I still vividly remember, how  co-passengers used to  allow me extra room to sleep, in an otherwise crowded compartment, as it was evident from my attire that I had been doing Garba all night.
In 1999 I relocated to Bangalore and since then could never visit Baroda during Navaratri.  
However this blog is not about the past, it is to look forward,  with the amount of energy & drive , I have been blessed with, I will certainly do Garba to my Heart's delight , ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS !!   
(as they say --- picture abhi baki hey, mere dost)

We the 'MIDDLE CLASS' !!

We the MIDDLE CLASS and I love being identified with this class. However always struggled to offer an comprehensive definition of Middle class - a paragraph from the article by David Brooks in NY Times beautifully summarizes what it means to be Middle class. Another one by the same author articulates the idea further
"To be middle class is to have money to spend on non-necessities. But it also involves a shift in values. Middle-class parents have fewer kids but spend more time and money cultivating each one. They often adopt the bourgeois values — emphasizing industry, prudence, ambition, neatness, order, moderation and continual self-improvement. They teach their children to lead different lives from their own, and as Karl Marx was among the first to observe, unleash a relentless spirit of improvement and openness that alters every ancient institution."
"19th century whn Ralph Waldo Emerson & other lesser lights offered audiences recipes for self-improvement, man and woman of character, they said, must possess a well-furnished mind. You may be a salesman or a farmer or a housewife, but you have a responsibility to be familiar with the best that has been thought and said.To be respectable, it is necessary to spend your leisure time sampling the great masterworks of culture. To fight off the grubby materialism of American culture, it is necessary to be conversant in philosophy, theology and the great political events of the wider world."

Though the entire article may not be of much interest to everyone here is the link to the full article:

October 17, 2012

(Humorous) Tales from the Corrupt !!

A short humurous take on the former Telecom Minister, A Raja, who is at the center of multi million dollar 2G scam. After being charged by the CBI , A Rada declared that he will fully cooperate with CBI team to prove himself Innocent .. this is HOW !!!
A Raja saying 'he will fully cooperate with the CBI probe to prove himself innocent" led the CBI sleuths & assembled press thru the back door of his ancestorial home to the servant quarters. Further climbing down the flight of stairs, they reached a poorly-lit cellar. On the darker end was an old rusty Godrej closet, pushing that aside, Raja revealed an entrance to a secret passageway. At the end of the passageway ,there was what looked like a state-of-the-art voice & finger-print recognition enabled security access system. Once the system authenticated Raja's voice and finger-print,a metallic door slid open and they walked into a small steel capsule- 10 ft by 10 ft in size.

Once everyone had entered, Raja pressed some buttons on a console panel inside the chamber, the door closed shut and the capsule descended approximately 50 feet. When it came to a complete halt, Raja yelled "Khulja sim sim ( in Tamil offcourse) and the doors automatically slid open. By now the CBI team was over-excited, each calculating the approximate bonus they would earn on being able to trace the tainted money. Raja led them out of the capsule into a very well kept clandestine chamber lined with scores of cabinets. Like kids in a candy store, the CBI officers jumped over each other to reach & open the cabinets, but soon their joy turned to sorrow when shockingly they found all cabinets empty.

Raja addressing the CBI " Don't you think if I had any black money I would have hidden it here, the fact that all the cabinets are empty, proves I am innocent"

October 14, 2012

Traveller's Note --- Strange Land !

Traveller on returning from a trip exploring India,wrote in his journal.

" India is a GREAT civilization from antiquity yet People of this country have remarkably maintained their close relationship with Nature, especially men. To this day, they still follow the custom of marking their boundaries, like the BIG -CATS in the wild, by peeing wherever they like with abandon. Infact as enterprising as the people of this GREAT country are, they have evolved this custom further .. some of the men have strange powers by which they spit some red-venom on every conceivable space to warn others to keep away. India is an truly an ancient land, yet they are still very close to God , cause they build temples everywhere., even is communities where children run naked because their parents cannot afford to clothe them. India is indeed a strange land .. where people Pray in the temples but Pee in the open. I was forewarned that India is civilization in contradiction, but nothing quite prepared me for the sight of a man defecating in the open next to railway tracks while talking to someone on his cell phone.

At the end of my journey I came back enlightened, why they call it  'INCREDIBLE INDIA' " !!!

Note - I write this not to mock anyone but to lament the sad state of affairs of our truly magnificient country. Once it was widely believed that education and economic growth will automatically address this ill. But tragically many Indian men seem to defy all logic and embarrasement.

The Legendary Ghosts of Reading - And my encounter with it !

The Legendary Ghosts of Reading -- and my encounter with it ( a real life story that every Penskite, who ever travelled to city of  Reading in Pennsylvania will relate to)
By summer of 2005, there was already a large group on our floor, who had returned from Reading,PA after participating in one of the numerous process transitions, happening at that time. But they did not just bring back process maps and sop's, they brought back something else -- tales of eerie experiences, spooky encounters and from their tales were born the Legendary Ghosts of Reading !!
It was roughly around 8:30 pm on 30th May 2005, as I unpacked and prepared to go to bed on my very first night on American soil at 19 Wyoming drive at City of Reading, PA. Umesh with whom I was sharing the duplex 2 bedroom apartment ,was still at work. And I was still experiencing the Adrenaline rush of having travelled to US for the first time in my life.
Unlike the houses in the Indian subcontinent, which are made up of concrete, most American houses are made of plasterboard and wood. It lends them to create noises that most Indians wont be familiar with. Especially creaking sound of the wood boards, when someone walks or the howling sound as the wind blows through the window. It takes time to get used to such noises and for our mind to cancel them out.
So I kept one of the lampshades in the room switched on, just in case !!
I began to drift off in sleep, but all of a sudden, the flush in the bathroom went off !! -- whoosshh !!  My pulse shot up, so did my heart beat and I become wide awake. I was alone in the house, so who was operating the flush. Usually after any such encounter, our mind if first frozen with fear , later as it thaws, it starts finding a logical explanation for that encounter. Probably Umesh was back from work, so I called out his name, while still seating on my bed, no response !! My mind tried desperately to come with any probable explanation for the flush operating on its own, that too, exactly at an hour, when I was about to fall asleep, while I was all alone in the apartment ,on my
very first night in US !! Nothing
After the flush emptied the tank, the ball valve opened letting the water gush in, to fill up the tank --- trrrrrrrrrr , but again whooossshh , the flush went off !! And it kept repeating. I don't know for how long , I sat on my bed, frozen, finding no logical explanation for this phenomenon, all the Ghosts stories of Reading that I had overheard back in India , paid me a complimentary visit.  I held a Sai Baba frame close to my chest and summed up enough courage to confront the toilet flushing Ghost !! 
With my heart pounding thru my chest, I pushed open the bathroom door, but there was no one inside. Again the flush went off on its own. At least this Ghost is invisible, is what I thought !!  With sweaty palms, I opened the cover of the flush tank, there was certainly nothing out of the ordinary inside, but flush kept operating on its own.
Another few minutes went by before my mind calmed down enough to think clearly , the flush in all probability was malfunctioning. Why it decided to malfunction exactly at that appointed hour as it did, remains a mystery  till date. By now my fear had given way to anger on the flush tank to have screwed up my sleep. I took a shampoo bottle and jammed it inside the flush tank, below the ball-valve lever, so disabling the mechanism.  Thankfully my jugad worked , the flush went silent, after an harrowing ordeal lasting over an hour, I finally felt asleep. 
And probably the Ghost of Reading went off to some other apartment, to terrify another unsuspecting individual. 

August 18, 2012

My Banter from the Past ( 2012 ) -Part 1

As has been my practice , this is the summary of my own thoughts, ideas, humour in my own words, that I had written over the last 6 months .. My Banter from the past !!

I knew MasterCHEF India had changed our approach to food, when my daughter after being served her dish at an restaurant, noted, even before eating " I don't know about the taste, Dad, but the PRESENTATION is very nice" !!

People in whose company you don't feel like checking Facebook are the People whose company you should seek  !! .. How ruthlessly incisive !!!

I must be in 5th grade , one evening, after my Dad came from work and very unusual for those times, took us boys to watch 'The Guns of Navarone' at Rupam cinema, probably the only cinema in small town Baroda ,playing English movies those days.(circa -1984). I barely understood the dialogues, but that was the beginning of my love affair with war movies. It would be another 5 years before saw my second war movie " Escape from Sabibor" made for television movie shown on Doodarshan in parts on Friday nights. So it was a very enjoyable weekend as one local TV station aired back to back war movies -- "The Guns of Navarone" , "The Bridge on River Kwai", " Von Ryan Express", " Where Eagles dare ", " The Bridge at Ramagen", "Force 10 from Navarone" !!! Now let the march pass for the new year begin .. left-right-left

What matters, is not which place you travel to , but what you bring back from your travels !!!

Nothing binds people like booze,
Nothing divides people like an intellectual debate !!

Summer holidays during my school days , used to be quite dull .. so my mother , a teacher , used to teach me history in advance of the following academic year to keep me occupied . Her dramatic narrative, the story-telling style of teaching history , always embellished with appropriate geographical, geological, cultural references had such profound influence on me. That even 10 years after my mother retired ,as a principal of her school , I continue to be her student, wherever I go.  -- ---The only difference, instead of her, now I tell the Story !!!

Life offers no simple questions only intriguing ones -- What is more critical being honest with someone else or being honest with your ownself !!!

Just because someone shares a compassionate quote from Mother Teressa, does not necessarily mean they will treat you with any COMPASSION !!!

Mark Zuckenberg & Facebook are facing another legal challenge, this time from MARRIED MEN !! Based on a recent study that has revealed that facebook is the major cause for divorce of couples who are less than 30 years old. Men who are over 30 and have been married for longer are suing Mark for not launching Facebook earlier. hahahahahahhahah

Must be 7 years old, one evening, after school drama , my Dad & I were waiting for our car, I pointed to a boy from another class and told dad 'he looked really cute'. You should have seen my Dad, as if lightening had struck, so completely was he taken by surprise, unsure what to say, my Dad pointed to some STUPID planet in the night sky instead .. hahahha,, my Dad.. funny man .. I miss him ....... !!(You might recollect I had shared my reaction earlier this is what probably Sakshi might recollect & share when
she grows up :-)

Reports of US Congress enacting PIPA act to protect intellectual property has apparently reached the SOUTH POLE & the OUTER SPACE . In a bizzare development, that might put Hollywood studios out of business, all the PENGUINS have collectively decided to sue various Hollywood studies for an undisclosed sum for using their animation in movies without their due consent, thus infringing on their copyrights and violating their IP. The case is scheduled to come up for hearing on 24th of January in the district circuit court in lower Manhattan. In the meanwhile ALIENS are considering their own legal options !!!!

Humans, inspite of living a GREGARIOUS life from outside , are SOLITARY animals from within !

Everyday I am learning more trying to answer my daughter's questions, than I ever learned, answering any exam paper. Truly as children grow they offer their parents an opportunity at RE-EDUCATION !!

And this is the latest Sakshi question -- " Dad, if we evolved from monkeys into intelligent human beings, why havent other animals evolved too" !! ... any answers welcome !!!

The perfect recipe to lose someone is to tell them how much they mean to you !!

Latest one from Sakshi .. " Dad.. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and lived in Jerusalem,than why do we celebrate Christmas in England ?? ". -- Roman empire , Apostles spread the new religion across the Mediterranean, Constantine conversion to Christanity in 325 AD, thus speeding the spread of Christanity in the Roman empire of which southern England is a part. In 595 AD, St. Augustine arrives at Canterbury on the south-eastern coast of
England to expand the influence of Christanity amongst the Anglo Saxons, who rule England after the Romans depart. Anglo Saxon King converts and thus Christanity becomes the state religion of England and here we are 1400 years later, celebrating Christmas in England. Answering children tests our ability to be succinct. Too short and they think we are not taking their question seriously , too long and they will get disinterested in the answer.

My mother spend her childhood in Junagadh, used to narrate, how in 1948, they joyously welcomed tanks of Indian military on the streets of Junagadh. (to force Nawab to annex Junagadh to Indian union). When Chinese invaded in 1962, entire nation felt betrayed, everyone prayed for jawans fighting on the front. Many families in Baroda, like rest of country , prepared a traditional energy food called 'sukhadi' ( made up of Wheat, jaggery and clarified butter), it was collected & sent to the war front. In 1971 Indo-Pak war , all residents actively supported army in maintaining a total black-out over Baroda to prevent Pakistani airforce from locating the oil refinery based just a few miles away from the city. Shouldnt we feel outraged that today, WE as a nation remember our world cup victory in 1983 more than those wars we fought. We salute cricketers who won world cup in 2011 more than the soldiers who won us the Kargil War in 1999 !!!   OUR SOLDIERS DESERVE BETTER !!!

Other day Supriya told me " When we wives get -together we always talk about our husbands " !! And she teasingly added "what about you ?" With a straight face I answered " when we husbands get together, we always avoid any TRAGIC subjects !!!" hahahahhahahahahhaahha

Human folly ------ Whenever we receive annonymous comments / messages, we always think it to be from someone, we are longing to hear from the most !!

Live such a life that when you die, God gives you atleast, BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT !!

Hands that control the remote, rule the household !!!
 (And in most cases that is children)

We all hate Winters, but love the snow !!!

If you want to fall in love without ever getting heartbroken, LOVE NATURE !!

With life so full of upsets, set backs, rejections & dejections, "One Moment in Time" has been one of most inspiring songs for me. On so many a occasion, listening to this song gave me motivation, the drive to persevere. Will always remember Whitney for this song, which she performed live at the opening ceremony of Seoul Olympics in 1988. Song has been with me for over 15 years , moving from a cassette to a CD to mp3 format. .. the adrenalin rush , the energy I get listening to this song even today is beyond belief!!!

Destinations might come and go, but Destiny stays Forever !!!

Be wary of sharing deeper thoughts, with someone capable of only shallow thinking.

There was a book published in 2008 by an Indian author Anuradha Roy,though I never read it, somehow the title of that book has stayed with me ever since. Probably because that name captures the very essence of human existence . Title of the book -" The Atlas of Impossible Longing" !!

Best part of driving down the memory lane, there is no traffic !!

No one goes to a fashion show to watch the CLOTHES !!! Everyone goes to watch the WOMEN who wear them!! hahaha and we call it Being Human !!

It is a pardox of humankind that the humans flourished while humanity has since long perished !!

There is no point of simply earning more money if you havent LEARNED how to spend it !!

A Friend kept claiming to be very busy, I finally found out why, when he announced his wife was expecting !! :-)

African Tragedy -- The most richly endowed continent on the planet harbours the most impoverished people on Earth !!

Inst it an compelling anamoly that humans can be acutely lonely, inspite of the world teeming with people !!

PG-16 HUMOUR ------ Who says Pharmaceutical companies do not have a sense of humour, after all every medicine bottle comes with a naughty message " Shake well before use" !!! hahahhahahahhhahahahhaha

London Humour -- the 3 words that every Londoner is most likely to remember even in their AFTER LIFE --------- " MIND THE GAP" !!

Its better to have few friends and lot of friendship than to have lot of friends but very little friendship !!!

Year -1998, Mumbai -- Working as Sales Officer at Philips Lighting with Chetan P. Trivedi .
Philips had embarked on a nation-wide launch of high-tech energy saving CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps)in India. All the Philips distributors were invited for the launch extravangaza in a posh 5- Star hotel ballroom. No expense was spared, the CFL range had to create the best impression on distributors, persuade them to give large orders (mind you CFL's were just being launched in India & cost @ 300rs apiece). Show began, curtains raised & stunningly good looking models draped in white chiffon gowns ,holding lit CFL Lamps in their hands, walked down the aisles. The models were so gorgeous that I hardly noticed anyone paying attention to the lamps, state-of -the-art 21st century lighting technology was no match for human instinct. hahahahah In the end the event was a grand success , most distributors gave large orders though I doubt if they were sold on the technology !!!!

Sakshi's latest poser .. " Dad, shouldnt we be able to see BLACK HOLES in space easily during day time. when the entire sky is bright & blue ?? "" ...... any suggestion how I can answer this ??

A glorious HEARTENING love song in a movie that is HEARTRENDING !!! With a message that will resonate with every living being that has lived & loved .... lovers might fail but love never does !! Movie is beautifully scripted with life & love deeply intertwined. but love does not work out for any chracters in the movie and there in lies the beauty of this song ,, it brings certain dignity to their love even if it was spurned,

Intelligence is God given, but Initiative is man made !!

Good looks are God given, but Great Attitude is entirely man-made !!

One of the most important things in life to have a sense of closure !!!

Our life should NEVER follow the law of diminishing return.

No amount of medication will remedy a patient in need of surgery,likewise no amount of superficial change will do , when we are in need of fundamental change to our lives. Sometimes no amount of incremental change would do, we need to take an exponential leap forward... ...... (a belief I have lived for better part of my life)

I truly felt letting society decide whom should be your soulmate was not a fair system, with the proliferation of the matrimonial sites on the internet, Marriage has truly been DEMOCRATIZED . Now the potential value of the prospective bride or groom is not determined by the society or marriage bureaus but by the MARKET. And neither does society or grography limit your reach. I know what some of you married folks are thinking.. wish Tim Bernes Lee ( inventor of the world wide web) was born 10 years earlier.  :-)

Another poser from Sakshi .. " Dad, why does Bear Grylls ( Discovery - Man vs Wild, Born Survivor), recommends when you have limited drinking water, you should plan to drink it small quantities to keep yourself hydrated for as long as possible. But, Dad -- " what if he drinks all the water at once, it will still be in his stomach" ??  ... what an logical question !! :-)

On Mothers day narrating this incident from my childhood .....

One day in 4th grade, while walking to my tuition class thru some back lanes, I found currency notes worth 30
ruppees lying on the street. In the 80's , for Rs. 30 one could buy a children cricket bat and for a lower middle class family like ours it was a luxury we could not afford. So my plan was to persuade my parents to buy that bat showing them this small treasure I had stumbled upon. Gleefully I picked up that money. Evening I narrated this and showed the money to my mom. She gave me a slap on my check and gave me an ultimatum , either I drop back that money where I found ( least someone who had lost it came searching for it) or to drop it in the collection box of an temple -Ram mandir near by. With a heavy heart I walked up to the temple , begged God to forgive me, and dropped that money in the collection box. That episode taught me the value of hard work and first deserving what I desire, never to expect any free lunches in life, but to work for it.

Crushing of the Ego (1997-98) --Traveling in the Mumbai suburban trains killed whatever was left of my ego. When you get pushed & squeezed along with millions of other commuters, crushed to the bones, there is no ego; you realize how insignificant you are in this vast humanity. Whether you earn a dime or a dollar, it really doesn’t
Yesterday while watching a documentary on Mumbai suburban railway got to know the official scientific name
for that experience -- SUPER- DENSE-CRUSH- LOAD !!!
If anyone has an ego problem, strongly recommend this experience. There is a reason why Crush is a part of that
term :-) !!!

Most of our news channels dish our such depressing news of our country that occasionally I just swtich over to watch the news on Doordarshan !!!

For me a rejuevating vacation is the one from which I come back not completely relaxed but utterly exhausted !!!

No one can OUTSMART their destiny !!

One does not need to be well-informed, one needs to be simply CURIOUS !!
Having gone to a Gym in 4 different countries , I can tell you with confidence that the Gym Instructors are the same everywhere. Even when a (male) trainee gets injured no instructors will bother to check but a women trainee, even when she simply laugh, the insturctors will rush in a split second, volunteering to help and give advise !!!! (And usually I have a tough time concealing my laughter)

In a life & career fraught with upsets & set-backs, April 2007 marked an unusual month.In a rare case of recognition, received an double promotion from Manager to Assistant Vice President. Very few employees in the history of GE Capital/ GECIS have had this distinction of being given a double promotion (I have been told) !! That was exactly 5 years ago !! April 1 at 12:48pm ·

Recent survey has revealed that more MEN cry on their wedding day than WOMEN !! hahahahahhahaah :-)

Secret of being a good photographer -- once you realize that the way you view the world is more beautiful / European countries in a bid to reduce costs have decided to withdraw their under cover intelligence agents based at that Embassies in India. Press release by the Brussels headquartered EU stated " When the Indian MEDIA itself is doing such an outstanding job of sharing confidential INSIDE information, why do they need any undercover agents" !!

Sakshi " Dad , did the Romans rule our Egypt ?? " . I " Yes they did, but why are you asking?" . Sakshi " Dad, because in the school , I told the class, that when I grow up , I want to be a Scientist and reserach How Romans came to rule over Egypt " .  :-)

Life is all about Motivation, Motivation, Motivation !!!!

Latest interesting poser from Sakshi " Dad when we blow a balloon, does it get filled with Carbondioxide or Air ?? " !! Makes one think ,inst it :-)

Many of you might be wondering.. what's behind these insane number of photos I share, well let me tell you a little secret ... they are all part of my retirement plan !! Yes, when I am too old & infirm to travel .. I can still keep travelling , -- thanks to the monstrous archive of pictures & its narrative .. I can keep travelling to these places , finding new meaning, reliving that experience .. several times over .. at no extra cost !! How about that :-)

While there has been a STEEP DECLINE in the reading habit of most humans , there has been a SHARP INCREASE in the sale of books, a telling sign of the human tendency to show-off !

If PAST GLORY was reason enough to ensure our FUTURE SUCCESS , than by now NEANDERTHAL's would have made a spectacular comeback !!

A highly confidential memo circulated within Australian Cricket Board that got leaked to the press had concluded that " the BEST thing that ever happened to AUSTRALIAN cricketers was the INDIAN Premeir League " !! hahahhahahah

You cannot become an Adult without going thru the pangs of Adolescence. !!!

In life it does not matter, whether you have fame or fortune, what matters is whether you have a COMPELLING STORY to tell !!!
(Sharing one of my old quote , the way my life is progressing it affirms this belief :-)
Most observers have a misguided notion about the excessive usage of Facebook or any other social media, because, while it is certainly a sign of a growing RESTLESS society, it is not a CAUSE for it. !!

If you felt only US Govenment was capable of conducting undercover operations on its people, think again, this plot from India could be right out of a John Grisham thriller.

Investigater in search of causes for sky-rocketing prices of ONIONS stumbled upon a HIGHLY CLASSIFIED
government run undercover operation. Deep inside the government machinery, hidden from the public scrutiny, is a unsuspectingly named Department of Social Change. For the past decade ,DSC has been studying the complex problem of population explosion. In 2010 they made a major breakthrough, using the processing capability of C-DAC super computers, they established a direct correlation between the population growth and increased consumption of ONIONS in India. (Onions are a natural aphrodisiacs). With that finding, government set up a clandestine cell,(codenamed - TN32), with officers drawn from the Commerce & Agriculture ministry. And began to conduct secret field trials in the summer of 2011 by manipulating the prices of Onions , thus reducting the consumption of onions and hoping (yes you got it), that it will lower population growth.Weather the government was succcessful in its motive ??? .... to be continued :-)

I certainly havent got the best Life !! But I will make certain to get the BEST out of whatever Life I got !!

Live such an Life, that when you die, even if you dont have a house full of luxuries, you have mind full of memories !!!

Best part of driving down the memory lane, there is no traffic !!

Intelligence is God given, but Initiative is man made !!

Its better to have few friends and lot of friendship than to have lot of friends but very little friendship !!!

There is no point of simply earning more money if you havent LEARNED how to spend it !!

Age of mystery, dawn of man;
new awakening from the darkest end:
Weary warrior mounted on a charging chariot
to fight another battle in a distant land !

Whether he rises from the ashes,
does all proud;or it is a ' coup de grace':
only time will tell, alone time can tell !

(a verse I wrote to my beloved team in 2008 when I left for Mexico, after an especially difficult period in my life.
But somehow this verse continues to have the same relevance to me today as I did 4 years ago) !!! Weary warrior .. continues to fight !

'PUZZLING' tears is the way my daughter Sakshi, described her tears, while boarding her flight to Baroda for the Summer holidays ! She was confused whether to be excited about meeting her aba-aji , atya, kaka-kaku, Sarthak dada, mama , nana-nani & large extended family or sad about missing her Dad for a month !! PUZZLING Tears ... what an original expression to describe such a complex feeling !! :-)

Even that Love, which was REJECTED, deserves DIGNITY !!

January 22, 2012

Story of the Fisherman !!

We all traverse the ocean of life like that solitary fisherman. Each one of us is that fisherman, the waves, the winds, the currents are the circumstances of our life, the fish we catch,, is the material well being we need to live, boat is our family,our friends, soulmates, our refuge, the oars, the net to catch fish, our tools, And the coastal shore is where we all want to reach - The Shore is called Happiness. Some of us get drowned by the circumstances , some of us forget the purpose of life is to reach the coast and instead just focus on catching more fish. Some of us dont care enough for the baot. And for some inspite of doing it all, never make it to the shore

As the dawn broke out on the Coromandel Coast !!

Endless Churning of the Ocean continued

Just as Sun was about to rise on the horizon it was enveloped by dense dark clouds

It is said that standing by the sea side makes people reflect on life .. it does that to people certainly did that to me !!

Just than I spotted a solitary fisherman ,, far off at Sea .. .. fisherman is close to the horizon ..

Waves get more aggresive by every passing minute.. indicating a incoming storm

Vastness of the ocean ,, makes every men think ... Sun is yet to appear ,, infact the winds pick up even further , and water gets markedly more turbulent. This picture after zooming in from the lens of my camera. makes it seems as if that fisherman is reaching to me thru this picture, trying to tell me something

Clouds look more & more menancing,, and instead of dawn it starts feeling like dusk ..

But the Fisherman keeps going about his business ...undeterred .. with faith

the storm like situation intensified and makes me conerned for the safety of that fisherman after all he is a lone fisherman there is no other boat in sight .. in the vastness of the ocean .. he is all alone

But thankfully the fisherman makes it to the shore safely

to me 'Story of the Fisherman' is like the 'Story of our lives'..... But not everyone makes it to the shore !!

January 6, 2012

My Life thru Pictures !!

In an unprecedented cost cutting drive - NASA has just announced that its scientist will now travel to India instead of going to the Moon - to study about the impact craters scarred on surface of the moon created because of the meteor showers. According to the press release the monsoon showers seem to have the same impact on the Indian roads. How Indian motorist deal with such Impact craters (pot holes) on the road will help NASA design its next generation Moon buggy. And studying pedestrains will help them train its astranaut to walk on the moon without ever falling in one of those craters.

Instead of being embarassed by the NASA announcement, the Indian Government has welcomed this decision stating tht the revenue earned from this NASA project would be used to fill those very pot holes after the project. Each State government is vying for this indirect FDI by showcasing how their state have the poorest road and thus ideal for NASA research program.

ARE U THE ONE --- who does not see which way the "WINDS ARE BLOWING" in your office ... who is unable to notice what is the speed at which those winds are blowing .. .....Not being able to adjust your sails in the direction in which the CORPORATE WINDS are blowing could be fatal for your career .. here is a perfect solution just for you ... put up a WINDSOCK above your cubicle,, and instantly know not just which way the corporate winds are blowing but even its speed and strength ...

20 years ago ....a 16 year old boy with so many dreams :-) somewhere he lost his way .. got grounded in reality ... :-) hope someday he gets back to dreaming .. ( with my Dad who recently celebrated his 75th birthday)

The Last Leaf -- somehow today my literature is getting all mixed up with the weather :-) Saw the last few yellow leafs of otherwise a barren tree outside my window and the O Henry classic short story "The Last Leaf" .. immedialy came to my mind.. the heart touching story about painters Johnsy & Sue who live in their studio. Johnsy is seriously ill and resigns to her fate .. her only hope pinned on the last leaf on the tree outside her window. And about Berhman a struggling painter . !!

Incase someone would like to read here is the link .

But the last paragraph is the most touching
"Mr. Behrman died of pneumonia to-day in the hospital. He was ill only two days. The janitor found him the morning of the first day in his room downstairs helpless with pain. His shoes and clothing were wet through and icy cold. They couldn't imagine where he had been on such a dreadful night. And then they found a lantern, still lighted, and a ladder that had been dragged from its place, and some scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors mixed on it, and - look out the window, dear, at the last ivy leaf on the wall. Didn't you wonder why it never fluttered or moved when the wind blew? Ah, darling, it's Behrman's masterpiece - he painted it there the night that the last leaf fell."

Typical Fall sunset at 51° North. This is the furthest I have been from equator and just 15 ° degrees shy of the Arctic circle ( 66 ° North). Geographically speaking London is north of most Canadian cities - Winnipeg (49 °), Ottawa (45 °), Montreal (45 °), Vancouver (49 °). And it is sort of Gerographical manifest destiny of Britain that inspite of being at such northern latitude, it does not snow here as high as those Canadian cities .. because unlike Canada, where the warmer winds from the equator and tropics have to cross the North American continent before they reach it, Britain is an island exposed to the warmer currents and winds off the Atlantic ocean .. while it saves Britain from getting into a deep freeze but it also ensures that Britain has one of the most unpredictable weathers in the world !! NATURE KNOWS HOW TO BALANCE ITS BOOKS, unlike most humans !!
Twilight falls over the royal victory tower at the Laxmi Vilas Palace in Baroda. Soaring 300 feet into the evening skies ..reminiscent of the glorious history of its creator- Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III ( on a unplanned trip to Baroda this week) - And for all Barodians the picture was taken from the edge of polo ground ..

Twilight falls over the royal victory tower at the Laxmi Vilas Palace in Baroda. Soaring 300 feet into the evening skies ..reminiscent of the glorious history of its creator- Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III ( on a unplanned trip to Baroda this week) - And for all Barodians the picture was taken from the edge of polo ground ..

January 3, 2012

My Life thru Pictures !!

Nature makes the best advertisement !!! No amount of electronic gadgetry can ever beat nature. And so influenced by this shot of sail boats in the Bury Lake I have signed up for a beginner course in Wind Sailing.

My beloved Nokia 2629 passed away recently after a prolonged fight with poor battery & worn-out screen, he beeped his last on Sunday evening, slept off never to wake up. He was 5 years of age. During the course of his 5 year long career he travelled extensively and had clocked over 25,000 ruppees worth of talk time. He would be remebered forever as a loyal friend thru thick & thin, receiving messages that sometimes brought laughter, sometimes smile, and sometimes tears. And sometimes it waited with a deep longing for messages that never came.But such is life - be it humans or a gadget.

My Nokia 2629 ( April 2006 - Feb 2011)

(Disclaimer - This is not meant to offend anyone. It is a satire on humans who get too much in love with gadgets in place of humans. If you find this in poor taste please forgive me, unfortunately this satire is true reflection of our soceity)

I Love my Gini !!! :-) Gini Coefficient that is..

Found this interesting concept to measure the income or wealth inequality. Gini coefficient can range between 0 and 100, low Gini coefficient indicates a more equal distribution, with 0 corresponding to complete equality and 100 corresponding to complete inequality.

and no surprises here .. as per CIO Factbook 2009, India's Gini is between 35 to 39 thanks to a burgeoning middle class.​wiki/Gini_coefficient

All other BRICS countries fare poorly in comparision. (Refer the image) - June 2010

At the University of Chicago,Graham School of General studies, world renowned researchers & intellectuals from diverse disciplines - Psychology, Social Sciences & Philosophy have gathered to discuss about the most extraordinary development in the history of human psychology. For the first time since its publication in 1943, the Theory of Hierarchy of Needs has been proved wrong. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory explains the stages of growth of humans (Refer diagram -left triangle). Reseachers are trying to analyze how INDIAN POLITICIANS have completely debunked this theory by showing no higher motivation. At the end of the 3 day seminar after intense delibrations the group issued a seperate MOTIVATION THEORY FOR THE INDIAN POLITICIANS - (Refer the diagram -right triangle)

Several years ago while at Cleveland, had bought my first hiking-trail walking shoes .. at $ 70 I was not entirely sure if such an investment was justified.

4 years later after having hiked for hundred of miles thru --- Sonora desert of Arizona, Chihuahuanan desert of Mexico, Grand Canyon at Nevada, Mohave desert in California, Franklin Mountains and Huevo tanks at Texas, Stone Mountain at Georgia, explored the cities of LA, Vegas, El Paso, Atlanta, Pittsburg, Las Cruces, Phoenix, Houston, Baltimore and on return to India -- Srirangpatnam, Aurovile, numerous forts at Bhongir, Senji, Pavagadh -Champaner, Baroda and now thru the three lakes nature reserve and off the beaten path in London .. all I can say .. though not everything worked out the way I intended in my life, atleast this investment has paid off handsomely !!!

But with all this wear & tear , my shoes are exhausted, tired and drained out ... HOPE I NEVER DO !!!

पूरब से सूर्य उगा फेल्ला उजियारा
जागी हर दिशा दिशा जागा जग सारा

(after a long time felt the strings of my heart playing this tune in the morning) listen to this tune while watching this picture.. it just fills me with the energy of that sun !!! Below is the link to that beautiful melody

My Life thru Pictures !!

Sleepy start to a long voyage !!! With my very own bagwati !!!

While waiting for the boarding annoucement at Chennai airport on 27th July, 2011, on my way to relocate to United Kingdom .

Promise of a brand new day ...

..."the journey for each of us begins here. we are going to explore the cosmos in a ship of the imagination, unfettered by ordinary limits on speed and size, drawn by the music of cosmic harmonies. it can take us anywhere in space and time. perfect as a snowflake, organic as a DANDELION SEED, it will carry us to worlds of dreams, and worlds of facts. come with me "--- this is how Carl Sagan opens up his epic book on the universe - COSMOS.

From childhood I was intrigued by the DANDELION SEED .... as they would seem to appear from nowhere, aimlessly floating in the air with complete disregard for gravity. However though I never ever saw any Dandelion seed plant anywhere ..UNTILL NOW. , .. Was totally delighted to see it on a evening walk over the weekend !!DANDELION SEED Plant !!! Finally !!!

FIRST , BREAK ALL THE RULES .. in recent times this has become a management cliche,a management fad based on the best selling book.But I already attempted this 20 years ago.. by driving my Dad's scooter without a license, not wearing a helmet, on the wrong side of the road, right in front of the traffic cop. Unfortunately for me the cop had not read this book.

Nonetheless that cop (Bhagabhai Chaganbhai) ws kind enough to give me an artifact (challan dated 13-11-1992) that I have preserved till date -my first reward for BREAKING ALL THE RULES.
(Friends from Baroda might get nostalgic reading the challan)

While standing in the queue for 4-5 hours on several occasion at the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Hyderabad to follow up on a passport renewal application, I came up with this idea. While everyone is fighting Corruption, I thought of studying it. Just like any other economic activity. Presenting -- analysis of the Bribe market at RPO Hyderabd. First chart shows how the market is split between different officials of varying rank and second chart on right side is by opportunity. It would be interesting to study revenue leakage next -- Revenue leakage for the officials would be in case any work was done in the passport office without a bribe being paid

Ohh Books !!! And how I bemoan your decline ..
Internet hit the first blow on your pride ,
And ebook readers hit the final death knell for your demise
Our Children will never experience the joy of reading a book like we did
Ohh Books !! How I bemoan your decline !! - June -2011

((My books, my companions , earlier were proudly on diplay on a book rack. Unfortunately now lying packed in a storage box at my home in Baroda, not sure when I will be able to see them again)

PS - For someone whose philosophy in life is Keep Walking ,, shoes invariably are an integral part .. !!!

How difficult is it for all of you to LET GO ... .. let go of things, people, places, let go of the past.... well for someone who would make it to the list of TOP 10 people who find it difficult to let go.. this was another sad farewell .. now to my formal shoes or rather boots that I wore to work in US, Hyderabad, Mexico and Chennai ..(inspite of several raised eyebrows ) over last 4 years :-) ...tough boots gave me a kind of firm footing in uncertain times !! But as I embark on yet another voyage, I will have to say them one last goodbye .. I will have to let go !! - July 2011

(Incidentanly gave them to someone who can use it further for several more years to come)