Up And Down.

And what would life be without some ups and some downs. Without the one we won’t be able to recognise the other when that comes around. And this is true on a daily basis too. To be totally placid is well nigh impossible and I must confess that I do have my daily ups and downs and would not have it any other way.

This topic was suggested by Maria the gaelikaa, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently nine of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Padmum, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

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Photochromic Lenses.

photochromatic

I wear photochromic lenses because I have sensitive eyes and I develop an ache in the eyes in bright sunlight.  I have had this condition since the late sixties and except when I am at home and / or in the nights, I inevitably wear glasses with photochromic lenses.

Some of my readers have commented on this whenever one of my photographs have come up in a blog post and a couple of them have wondered why I need to hide my eyes.  Now you know.

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Posted in Blogging, Humor | Tagged | 2 Comments

Bajrangi Bhaijaan And The Ant-Man.

It was one of those crazy days! My friend Ramesh and I went to see a Hindi movie and found at the box office that that particular show was cancelled. We found that a totally unheard of 3D English film was however about to start and so we decided to see that just because there was Michael Douglas was in it. Let me review it first.

Ant-Man-Movie-Poster

The Ant-Man I learnt subsequently is of a genre called the Superhero films. Apparently these films are based on marvel comics of the same genre. I am not very clued in on either of these and so found the experience totally uninteresting. Even the special effects did not give me any interest to want to see any more movies of this genre. And much to my disappointment, Michael Douglas is more or less a cameo appearance and pathetic in that. I regret that I can at best give it a rating just for the special effects and some humour that at least made me laugh at some points in the otherwise insipid story and delivery.

When we came out after watching the movie, we caught up with the Manager of the multiplex who had befriended us for being such regular movie goers.  We complained to him about the inconvenience of coming all the way to the theater to be disappointed and he promptly offered to give us a discount on two fresh tickets for the same Hindi film Bajrangee Bhaijaan just about to start in another hall.  He even offered to get the tickets inside the hall as the movie was just about to start and thus, we ended up seeing two films back-to-back, just as I had wished I had had in my youth in my earlier post Back To Back.

bajrangi-Bhaijaan-afqf

Now this film is another Hindi film that is breaking box office records with the hero in a totally unusual role.  Salman Khan is usually an action star whereas in this he is a soft hearted Indian wanting to reach a lost Pakistani girl to her parents in Pakistan.  He is unable to get official methods of doing so and so illegally crosses into Pakistan and the story then evolves into one of those wishful thinking human element stories, often leading to tear jerking situations.  And typically ends in a fairy tale ending totally unrealistic.

The saving grace in the film is some excellent acting by the child actor Harshaali Malhotra and Nawazuddin Siddiqui which compensated for the hero’s inability to bring some life into his role.  The director Kabir Khan deserves credit for trying though full marks to him for the roles of the earlier two mentioned.  Kareena Kapoor, I suspect has been added to increase viewer attraction as her role is totally unnecessary to the story which could have perhaps been better off without her.  She however does credit to the little that she does. A good cameo performance by the veteran Om Puri rounds off the credits and that is about all.

An entertaining and mushy film which will appeal to our softer side.  I can not bring myself to give more than a  rating though because some one other than Salman could have done a much better job and improved the ratings.

And another development which made me call it a crazy day was that both soles of my shoes decided to come off during the intermission of the first film and I could not figure out what had happened till the intermission of the second film.  I had to sit down and pull of the partly unstuck soles to walk comfortably.  The strips that came off were only thin additional rubber strips to give grip and the main soles remained unaffected.  Now a new pair to replace them will be the next project!

Posted in India/Pakistan, Movies | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Agony Uncle III.

The exchange of mails continues on its merry course.  Mr. Tookay responded after the last mail in my post Agony Uncle II:

Dear Sir,

Thanks once again for taking time off to reply to my weird questions/doubts.

I was really sorry  to learn that your late wife was afflicted by cerebral and cardiac infarcts. Good that you took up the challenge of being her primary caretaker for eight years before she died.  May her soul rest in peace.

Guess, it’s true that learning to cook properly is akin to riding a bicycle. I can cook a few dishes but I am no match to the ladies!  But how nice if we men would be allowed to have 2 wives so that both would compete to give us 100% to us in all areas and we could live a happy life – and when one goes to MIL, the other is there to cook for us! But alas, the Hindu Law and all that crap! Good to know that you are blessed with a wonderful son and daughter in law along with two very loyal help.

I have  only one last question, hopefully: whenever I tell my wife that we have been blessed with a selfish son and that we are not millionaires/billionaires, then she tells me that I might have committed lots of sins in my previous life and therefore I am suffering a lot in present life and I mostly do not get what I wish and pray for – its very rare that God is awake to listen to me! I tell my wife, how does she know that I have committed sins – did any saint/saadu tell her so?  Logic stronger than reason tells me that there is no way to know whether we were even born earlier and that we may be born again [ to again reap the fruits of our good deeds /suffer due to bad deeds of  present life ] This is all hum bug – there is nothing called Karma. What we see and experience in our present lives is the only TRUTH.

By the way, how do you keep fit ? Do you go for long morning/evening walks?

Your thoughts and viewpoints on above will be much appreciated.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks & Regards,

Tookay

I responded:

Nothing stops Indian men from having a second wife or a mistress, provided they can get away with such an arrangement.  Similarly, nothing stops an Indian woman from having a lover on the side though I have not come across any who has got a secret second husband hidden away somewhere.  I know or know of  some men and women who are in such situations  though,  quite why they do so is beyond me.  I would have thought that one experience would be enough.

Yes, I am indeed very blessed and I am truly grateful for that.

In Physics, there is Newton’s Third Law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.”  This is not mumbo jumbo, but science.  Our ancients could not use such sophisticated language and came up with their own law called the theory of karma.  There is a remarkably simple book by that same name written by Hirabhai Thakker which explains this very nicely.  If you let me have your address, I will see to it that you receive a copy with my compliments.  Having said that however, I must confess that I do not believe in the idea of sin.  If I were to talk about it, it would take another hour of your time, and so I think that we should leave it for a hopeful face to face meeting sometime.

I practice yogabhyas every morning that lasts for upto an hour.  I also go for walks which should really be called ambles in the evenings whenever the weather permits.  Other than that, I eat sensibly and keep a cheerful disposition which I am told, helps in being fit.

I hope that you will find my answers to your satisfaction.  I also hope that you would have by now read my blog post.  Some very interesting comments have been offered by my readers which may amuse you.  I intend posting further correspondence too.

With kind regards,

Rummuser

There has been no response to that so far and perhaps the exchange has come to a halt.  If there is any further mail from Mr. Tookay, I shall keep my readers informed.

Posted in Blogging, Gratitude, Humor, Relationships, Religion, Writing | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Masaan.

masaan-

I am breaking the serial on Agony Uncle to review a remarkable Hindi film that I have just seen. Masaan, meaning crematorium is a movie that has won accolades already and word of mouth publicity before its relase has ensured box box office response too. This is another film that had the theater almost full which for me has been an amazing experience during the last two outings.

It helped that I am familiar with Benares, or rather Varanasi as it is now known and also Allhabad, the two towns featured in the story. This film has everything going for it — a great and realistic script, technical brilliance and some remarkable performances by the actors, the director and the photographer. It revolves around very ordinary young people of modern Hindi heartland facing problems of caste and corruption. Nothing new but the way all these has been presented is an experience worth undergoing again.

And most importantly, all under two hours of viewing time!

Why would I give anything less than a full rating?

Don’t miss it.  You will not regret it.  For my non Hindi knowing readers, it comes with excellent English subtitles.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Agony Uncle II.

As I write this, there is already a third post on the drawing board with further correspondence.  I think that it will be prudent for me to respond to all comments after the entire exchange of mails comes to a stop and I stop blogging them.  I request my commentators to bear with me till then.

Continued from:

I Am Now An Agony Uncle.

I have responded as:

Dear Mr. Tookay,

The pleasure was equally mine.  I enjoyed the challenge!

I am a strong believer in the dictum that there is no problem in the world that cannot be solved with a healthy dose of humour.  So much so that I am often considered to be flippant by serious people.

Human beings are remarkably adaptable.  They adjust.  I am sure that you will have in your circle of friends and relatives, widows and widowers who have learnt to live without their spouses.  Of course, there will be cases where that will be considered as a great relief too!  More difficult is for parents to lose children, but they learn with time. That is why the adage, “Time Heals.”

I learnt to be a house-husband when my late wife was felled by cerebral and cardiac infarcts.  I was her primary caretaker for eight years before she died.  I learnt to cook properly then and it is like riding a bicycle.  Once you learn the basics, you simply can manage to ride without holding the handlebars.  I am blessed to have my son and daughter in law living with me and also helped by two very loyal help, one handyman / gardener and a housemaid who have been with us for 25 years and 15 years respectively.  The other housemaid before the current one has become an entrepreneur with our blessings and is now more of a family friend.

I intend calling you Mr. Tookay!

You flatter me again and I thank you.  I hope that you will keep visiting my blog and encouraging me.  Thank you once again and regards to you too.

Rummuser.

After that mail went out, I came across something else, which I forwarded to him:

Dear Mr. Tookay,

I am sorry that I could not find this story when I was writing the reply to your second mail, where you expressed your inability to cook.

THE BOY ON THE ICE.

One winter, two young boys were playing on a lake that had frozen over.
As they played, the ice suddenly cracked and one of the boys fell through the ice into the lake underneath. He thrashed about, wedged in a crevice beneath the surface. Try as he might, the other boy couldn’t reach his friend through the gap.

He looked around frantically, and spotted a tree several feet away. Racing to it, he tore off a large branch and dragged it back to the gap in the ice. Using the branch, he pounded the ice around till it cracked and the gap widened, allowing him to reach down and pull his friend out.

When the paramedics came and they were able to revive the child, they were baffled. How could this young boy have broken off such an enormous branch with his frozen hands, carried it all the way to the gap and used it to crack the ice to save his friend? The boy was slight of build, and the branch was heavy. It was impossible.

An old man who had been watching from the sidelines glanced at the boy with gentle eyes. “I can tell you how he did it.”

“How?” they asked.” How did he do it?”

The old man said, “There was no one here to tell him that he couldn’t.”

Regards,

Rummuser

He responded to The Boy On The Ice Story:

Got it Sir. Thanks for sharing.  Planning to upgrade my lousy cooking skills.

 This promises to be the beginning of a new friendship.  Let us see how it progresses.  

Posted in Blogging, Food, Humor, Relationships, Writing | Tagged | 3 Comments

I Am Now An Agony Uncle.

Potential

I got an unexpected mail from a stranger last Thursday.  For the purpose of this post, let us call him Tookay.  Having obtained his permission to do so, I reproduce the correspondence in full.

(The correspondence has taken a life of its own since I drafted this post and I have decided to serialise it so that the posts are short.  Watch this space for more.)

Hello Sir,

Good Evening.

At the outset, I sincerely wish to admit that you are doing a great job of writing wonderful articles on your blog, which inspire and educate folks like me – and you are doing all this at 70! That’s really cool.

Of course, I was sad to learn about 3 sad events in your life:
Death of your wife.
Your hip operation [both hips ] but could this not be averted through 1st rate physiotherapy?
Death of your friend Akbar.

Anyways, you are doing a great job.

Sir, though my questions may seem very weird, I shall thank you to provide me some good answers to following questions based on your great thought process and experience:

I am 55 years+ and retired with very little savings to support me and my wife for another say 5-10 years [ guess there is no point in living if you don’t have money!

Yes, I have one son who earns quite well but he is very selfish and we don’t wish to rely on his earnings.

Very recently since many of my relatives and in-laws have gone on Foreign Tours, my wife insists that the two of us go on a Europe Trip, which will cost us Rs. 4 Lakhs.

I told her politely that this is just not done – we don’t have that kind of money and I assured her that we will travel the whole world in next 6 LIVES since as per Hindu Sacred Laws husband & wife get re-united for 7 LIVES! [ saat janmon ka saat ] My wife is very religious but yet she harasses me no end and insists that we visit Europe. I can’t even tell her to go with a Mahila Sang to Europe because I do not have that much money to squander when same Europe and other exotic places can be seen on Travel Channels.

Sir, please suggest how best I can suggest to my wife to forget Europe? Can’t even tell her to see Europe in her dreams because we mortals just don’t have the power to decide what to dream!

My second funny question is this: is there any way I can become a multi-billionaire at this age so as to win the heart of my wife – my wife loves money like hell! And I am sure she will love me a billion times more if I become a Billionaire.

But as they say: man proposes, God disposes! Guess, I ‘ll buy a Lottery Ticket – just 1.

It will also be great if you write some articles on following:

See the world on travel Channels – don’t waste money and make Travel Agencies & Airway companies rich.

Don’t ever think of becoming a multi-billionaire after 60 even if your wife insists.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks & Regards,

Tookay.

I responded by answering below each paragraph, but to make this post short, I reproduce my response in a running format.

Hello you too Mr. Tookay.

And the very same to you too.

Thank you.  That is very inspiring.  I completed 72 last month and intend going on blogging for as long as I can.

Those were events in my life like similar things would be in other people’s lives.

No, physiotherapy would not have been enough as the femoral heads were completely damaged.

Thank you once again.

I am flattered.  I will try my best to come up to your expectations.

I would love to go on my long cherished dream of visiting friends and relatives in Europe, the UK, Ireland, the USA, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Bangladesh by going on a non stop tour starting Westward and coming around the globe to end up in Chennai.  I simply do not have the finances to do that.  How can I advice you dear sir?  If I were you, I would simply show my bank passbook to my wife and explain the financial realities and ask her to change her ambitions.  I trust that my response satisfies you.

If I had an answer for that question, do you think that I would be blogging everyday to pass my time Mr. Tookay?  I would be globetrotting.
Now you are talking my kind of language.  The point is that I haven’t yet found either the inspiration or the energy to leave my comfort zone to go 3 Kms to the nearest lottery ticket seller.  No one to love me, money or, no money!  Sad.

I shall try my level best to find the inspiration to do so Mr. Tookay.

I have responded with all humility and to the best of my ability, and I need just one favour from you.  I would like your permission to reproduce this entire exchange as a post in my blog.

I now look forward to hearing from you.

With gratitude for your interest and encouragement and kind regards,

Rummuser.

 

He has responded :

Thanks a lot for your lightning speed reply – I appreciate it very much.

Indeed your response to all of my questions were very realistic with lots of humor sprinkled graciously – frankly, I laughed my guts out and kept thanking you in my heart of hearts for showing my the right path.

I am still very sad to learn about your hip operation and was just wondering whether you are able to walk without using any stick or such similar stuff. I also wonder how you live without a wife – I can’t live without my wife for a single day because I just hate hotel food and unfortunately I am not a good cook. Lady cooks don’t come cheap and many are thieves and crooks – you never know. I hate burgers, pizzas, etc and can’t live on bread, butter, eggs, fruits, olive oil for even 1 or 2 days. Do let me know how you live – probably I can get some good tips from you so as to reduce my dependence on my wife.

I was happy to know that you have friends in various parts of the globe and had I been a multi-billionaire we could have surprised all your friends by actually visiting and staying with each of them for a few days.

Sure, you can reproduce whatever stuff you want but please mention my name as Tookay, because having worked in various companies I have more critics and less wellwishers. I don’t wish to be a target of ridicule for folks who may accidentally come to recognize me!

Thanks once again for your excellent advice and encouraging words of wisdom.

Regards,

Tookay.

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Family, Humor, People, Relationships, Writing | Tagged | 12 Comments

Adoption II.

My post on Adoption received some very interesting comments and I have responded to all of them to the best of my ability.

It has of course come as a surprise to me that a lot of other countries also have adoption within the families for the sake of keeping the wealth within the family and other emotional reasons.

Here is another heartwarming story about a friend stepping in to adopt children of a dying mother.  I was moved when I read it.

Posted in Blogging, Family, Friendship | Tagged | 5 Comments

New Rules.

rule-book.1382.1230.s

The first thing that came to mind when I saw this topic was a terror called MDP. This was when I had joined a British company as a Management Trainee and my training started off with learning all about the office administration side of branch management. At each desk, I had to first read the MDP which expanded meant Manual of Depot Procedures, then observe what the clerk did. The next step was to work under his/her supervision, then work independently before rounding off with a report on what I had learnt.  I made the mistake of showing some enthusiasm being the very first MBA taken on as a Trainee by making some suggestions in my first three reports.  Much to my horror, after they were read by the Divisional Manager, I was asked to report to him. He formally complimented and congratulated me on my suggestions and gave me an additional responsibility of completely overhauling the MDP before I completed my training as he felt that it was badly in need of updating. Quite how I passed through that ordeal is a memory that came back and I would rather forget that. Simply stated, there was resistance to change and resentment from well entrenched bureaucracy which did everything possible to scuttle my study of procedures. I don’t know if such things happen now to fresh Management Trainees, but if they did, my heart goes out to them.

Coming to more recent times, the most frustrating new rules that I have experienced have all to do with change to traffic rules, primarily changing roads and lanes into one way to accommodate increased vehicle population and traffic. Closely related to and implemented with great vigor are the new No Parking rules.

In personal lives, new rules start to operate when someone elder either moves in and / or dies or a newcomer like a daughter in law or a pet arrives to complicate simple lives, as all such things happened in my life during the last few years.

On health matters, new rules on how to sit, walk, sleep etc are all advised when joints are replaced or revised like when it happened to my hips.

I have also experienced voluntarily accepting new rules of waking up time, eating time, sleeping time etc when I had gone on meditation retreats as well rules on diets and habits during the retreats.

Luckily, I have not had to accept constantly changing rules of conduct / behaviour etc in corporate environments for a long long time. I am told by young job hoppers that this is quite bothersome. And I can sympathise with them.

I don’t have this framed and hung on any wall in my home, but this about sums up the rules that I would like to see observed in my home. By and large they are.  Please click on the image to get a larger resolution.
house_rules

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
― Pablo Picasso

This topic was suggested by Shackman, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently nine of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Padmum, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

Posted in Blogging, Family, Management, Medicine, Relationships, Writing | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Homemade Yogurt.

This post got its inspiration from a very interesting article that I read about the starter to get good quality homemade yogurt.  To the best of my knowledge, apart from my Indian readers, there is only one blogger who makes yogurt at home and that is Wisewebwoman all the way up in Canada.  She had shared her experience some time ago and I thought that her yogurt will compare favourably with those that are set every day in millions of homes in India.

I personally consume homemade yogurt twice a day when I am at home.  Once for breakfast and again at lunch. Both Manjiree and Ranjan love to have it too though not as regularly as I do.  I take pride in the quality of the yogurt that I set and it is appreciated by whoever has it at home.  Most of the success can be credited to the starter and the rest to some basic rules that all Indian homes follow.  I have just improvised on one step which is not very common but very effective.

My starter has been in operation for the past 25 years without break.  When we moved into this house, I had to borrow the starter from a colleague’s home as we did not have any of our own, having lived off hotel and dairy supplied yogurt for the previous few months when we were living in a service apartment while looking around for a home to buy and move into.  The yogurt that was set on that first day started the process which has been going on uninterruptedly for all these years.  Like the lady in the article other Indians settled overseas have borrowed my yogurt to take to start their own batches back home and with great success too!

My process is simple.  I use the same stainless steel vessels to set the yogurt and those vessels are not used for anything else.  In the old days, the vessels used to be baked clay pots which produced the most amazing aroma and flavour for the yogurt but that is no longer possible.  Here is one such vessel in which you can see the yogurt that I set yesterday morning and which had been in the refrigerator since about noon.

set dahi

I heat up the leftover, stored-in-the-fridge-overnight, milk from the previous day, till air bubbles form along the edge of the milk and transfer the milk to a vessel in which I have already spread two teaspoons of leftover yogurt from the previous day. I stir up the milk and then transfer the vessel after closing it with its lid to a heat retaining casserole. Here is a picture of the casserole with the set dahi before I used the lid.

The innovation that I mentioned earlier is the use of the casserole to keep the mixture warm for some time. In most Indian homes, it would simply be left in a warm cozy corner in the kitchen. This trick was taught to me by my god daughter in law Vasuki when I was running a bachelor home in the South of India for a short while. Another trick that I learned from my niece Vandana is to use a full green chilli in the mixture at the time of setting when the milk is lean as in the summer months. It is very effective.

A very important step is in washing the vessels in which the yogurt has been set. They should be washed thoroughly in water but not with any kind of detergents. The idea is that the old bacteria from the previous batch may still be available in the vessels. Since I use cow’s milk to set the yogurt, it is not greasy and the vessels do not really need detergents.

While I do not normally sweeten the yogurt, added sugar or jaggery and the yogurt will turn out to be sweet after setting. I have done that with success before parties to serve as dessert.

For those who want to come and taste the yogurt that I make at home, please give me a day’s notice as I make just enough for our needs everyday and if unexpected guests arrive, I simply go across to a grocer who stocks packed yogurt, called dahi here, from many companies like these.

Masti Dahi Cup-1000x1000

Danone

Posted in Blogging, Food | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments