Rice Harvest.

This photograph is that of a very close family friend who is among the very few still farming in my native district and close to the farm house where my father had lived post his retirement. Most of his contemporaries as well as mine, have moved out to cities in pursuit of other more remunerative and less strenuous / risky occupations. But this intrepid man has literally ploughed on and has been quite successful.

The machine at the back is a Paddy Harvester. I have never seen one before. What I remember of harvesting of paddy is of women manually harvesting in many parts of our country.
Yes, mostly handled by women and I in fact don’t remember seeing men harvesting ever.

My friend is wearing what we call a Veshti in Tamil Nadu. My readers will be more familiar with dhoti.

The advantage of wearing veshti is that it can be folded up and tied around the waist to provide the ease comparable to wearing shorts over trousers. This method is called wearing it half-mast in jest!

He and his supervisor are wearing turbans on their heads.  These are actually towels cast over their shoulders when indoors but used as turbans when out in the sun.  It is a multipurpose piece of apparel that comes very handy in hot climates.

There are times that I wish I could be like my friend in our rural parts.  Those times however are very rare now that I am at the twilight of my life and can not be as active as one needs to be in those parts to just survive!

Posted in Friendship, India, Nostalgia, People | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Cause And Effect.


No, I don’t intend to bore my readers with Newton’s third law or the butterfly effect. I simply want to share a few stories.

I smoked cigarettes and cigars from when I was about thirteen years old till just a few years ago. I quit too late. I am now saddled with COPD. The last time I saw a pulmonologist was an event marked by humour for him and shock for me. He said that nothing can be done to reverse the damage done and that I had to learn to live with it. He said that it was a classic instance of the theory of karma manifesting itself. Smoking the cause and COPD the effect. He further added that I must have had a lot of good karma in my ledger because I escaped getting cancer of the lung. Thank God for mercies!

It is no big deal. I have accepted my condition and the limitations it puts on my life. I enjoy myself to the extent possible within the limits imposed on me by the condition.

And that brings me to the cause for that ability of being equanimous.

I started to meditate with TM when I was 35 years old. I graduated to a more rigourous technique called Vipassana when I was 41 years old and have continued to practice regularly since then. I have attended many retreats and have read widely on the benefits of meditation and can vouch for its efficacy in my personal life. Cause – Meditation, Effect – Equanimity and joyful living.

One more story and I will conclude this weekly Friday LBC post.

I met with an accident that damaged both my hip joints. That was the cause. Effect, replaced hip joints, causing wear and tear to the prostheses, resulting in revisions and so on. Another effect, I have been using a cane / walking stick since 1981.  It has its advantages as younger folk seeing me with my cane defer to me in queues and even offer seats!

I have suggested this week’s topic. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

Posted in Blogging, History, Humor | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

The POTUS And India

I came across an interesting news item that I wish to share with my readers, particularly the ones from the USA.

It is interesting for me because two buildings in my neighbourhood, just 200 Mts away as the crow flies from my home which stand out tall and menacing because they are completely black an look ominous. Unlike all the other buildings in the neighbourhood, these have no open windows or balconies and I have not yet come across anyone who has ever seen anyone living there.

The buildings are shown in the articles as well.

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Shubh Mangal Savdhan.

I had been seeing trailers for Shubh Mangal Savdhan the last few weeks and seeing two great young actors, Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann Khurrana in it, had decided to see it at the earliest. It was released over ten days ago, but due to various factors including one cancelled show when I had to see another film, I was able to see it only earlier this after noon.

I was not disappointed.

First off, the story is about a young man’s erectile disfunction coming in the way of a grand romance and marriage. For India, that is an amazing leap into modern movie making handling such a sensitive subject. That itself needs a big round of applause for the producers, director and the cast who were willing to take the risk of being part of the team that dared to approach this subject.

It also makes eminence sense that the producers and the director chose comedy as the medium to handle the subject. They have done a very effective job of doing exactly that.

What can I say about the favourite actors? They came up to my expectation and how. Both are remarkable young talents with many years of acting ahead of them, and I hope to see many movies with them together and/or individually.  Their talent has been very effectively brought out by excellent direction and cinematography which too need praise.

The biggest selling point for the film however is the short duration of its run. Just about two hours!

If you can get to see it, don’t miss it.

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Sanctity Of Life.

As has happened so many times in my life, synchronicity strikes again.

I read about an assault on a gynaecologist in this morning’s newspapers. Abortion is legal in India incidentally, but only under specified circumstances. This is an adjunct to our thrust on family planning and I have no quarrel with the legality or the ethics part of it. Since there are other problems involved in that, I don’t wish to elaborate but suffice it to say, that I am impressed by the doctor’s insistence on being on the right side of the law and condemn the goons who attacked him.

I read the newspapers in the morning and after my siesta earlier this afternoon, I got this clip in Whatsapp from a friend.

And that is the synchronicity!

Posted in Blogging, People, Sociology, Values | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Opportunity Cost Of Being Humans.

Young Pravin who studied Opportunity Cost just a few years ago has once again bowled a googly or for my American readers, pitched a curve ball!

I suspect that he has done that because he has read something from a spiritual book which he quite regularly reads, to throw us old bandicoots like Shackman and me off balance. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with eventually.

As far as I can see, since the alternative to being humans is being apes or angels, and the likelihood of the latter option being available, remote, the opportunity cost of being humans now is that we have lost all ability to be natural, like apes or even our own ancestors. And since we have lost that ability, we have become unnatural in our whole approach to life. We have become increasingly dependent on so called logical thinking and have been giving up or ignoring our intuition resulting in all kinds of problems that other living beings do not seem to have.

Let me illustrate with a simple example. If I give something to my dog she will sniff at it and instinctively know whether it is edible or not whereas if I give something to a human being he will now google to find out whether it is alright to eat or not. Many things that my grand mother knew as handed down knowledge is now lost because we have got educated in a system that condemns such knowledge and glorifies so called logical and scientific information gathering. Even as late is the middle of the last century, we were very different as human beings than the specimens that we have now become.

Nothing explains is better than this following meme that has been doing the social network rounds for quite some time now.

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms……….WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?!

And just to reinforce my argument that we have gone bonkers, I take my readers to this very interesting and illuminating article on the idiosyncrasies of the modern humanbeing.

Pravin has suggested this week’s topic. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

Posted in Blogging, Economics, History, Humor, Nostalgia | Tagged | 23 Comments

Where Time Stands Still.

This morning’s The Hindu had this very interesting article about the clock towers in many places in Hyderabad. Hyderabad for those who do not know, is the home town of my late wife where our son was born. I have a special attachment to the city for having started my official working life there and having met my late wife there.

I can vouch for one thing about Hyderabad. Time did stand still there for me on many occasions.

As a matter of synchronicity, this cartoon appeared in this morning’s Pune Times. Please click on the image to get a larger resolution.

Posted in Family, Humor, India, Nostalgia | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Trust.

Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

Posted in Humor, People | Tagged | 4 Comments

Mixed Feelings.

I am currently reading two books as I am usually wont to. One serious and to relieve the drudgery, a fiction too. The former is An Era Of Darkness The British Empire In India by Shashi Tharoor and the latter is Eye Of The Needle by Ken Follet.

The former is all about how The East India Company first and then the British crown colonised India and exploited its economy in a deliberately cynical and degrading way. As I read it my blood boils at the insensitivity that the British showed while appreciating the fairness shown by a few. Sadly, the blood boiling is more than the appreciation as the theme of the book is how the British exploited India and Indians.

Ken Follet’s book however is located in Britain during WWII and there, when I read about a spy who kills an English lady without any compunction, or when people taking shelter in the underground railway stations during an air raid warning, stay cheerful, my sympathies and admiration go to the British people.

Same people, two different reactions.

Nuts!

Posted in Books / Reading, History, India | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Gentlemen.

During the recent flooding of Mumbai, some of my friends from my alumni group got stuck in Mumbai and were busy asking for help, guidance and advice on our group platform in WhatsApp.

I offered to help with shelter and food at a friend’s place for anyone stuck near the place of the friend’s flat and one young alumnus, let us call him PM rang me up from Mumbai and asked for directions.

I gave him my friend’s phone number and address and asked him to get in touch directly without the slightest hesitation. PM established contact with my friend, let us call him SA, and they both had a merry discussion at the end of which PM concluded that SA’s place was too far away from where he was stuck and decided to rough it out and move elsewhere.

In the meanwhile I was tracking PM’s activities and he conveyed his decision to me and thanked me for putting him in touch with such a gentleman!

I rang up SA to compliment him for impressing the young man and let it slip out that PM called him a gentleman and I ribbed him about it. SA in turn ribbed me saying that PM had called me gentleman too and both of us had a good laugh as, both of us are old reprobates who have known each other for the past 53 years. Neither of us could remember the last time that someone called either of us a gentleman.

PM eventually found shelter closer to where he got stuck and returned safe and sound the following afternoon to Pune.

Posted in Friendship, Humor, India, WhatsApp | Tagged , | 14 Comments