Response To A Response.

Within my facebook family, I belong to a small group of people, all from an alumni group where a lot of ribbing and leg pulling goes on.

I recently had an occasion to participate in one such trail of comments. I published one cartoon photograph of a dog in a yogic position and asked two practitioners whether it was their pet. Both of them practice and preach/teach yoga.
yoga kutta

Another friend, not one of the two yogis in the group commented that it must belong to a famous yoga teacher Ramdev who is a source for much humour in the circle. When that comment appeared, I posted another cartoon of a dog wrapped in a shawl and asked in that case, this must belong to another character much lampooned by most of us bar one great supporter Shekhar.
AK dog

My friend Mukund promptly came up with this comment – “I am sure Ramana you had both pictures ready and were waiting for the Ramdev comment. Amal bit the bait faster than Shekhar”

Shekhar responded – “Ramana posted a shawl pic which means …. ha ha!” The reference being to Ramdev who once escaped from a rather embarrassing situation by wearing a burkha instead of his normal attire.

I responded – “Shekhar, clever, very clever. Actually, I could not lay my hands on one in a burkha! I now have.”

This entire exchange took me back to 1969 when I was stationed for a couple of weeks in my then employer’s head office to complete a project. I had just been confirmed in my employment in the Management cadre after completing my Management Training and one particularly unpopular senior manager decided to teach me some fine aspects of management before I left the head office on my posting. This manager was very affectionately called the prawn and that should give my readers a general idea of his personality.

On the first day that I was there, I had to liaise with him to complete my own work and he asked about some letters that I had written before I had reached the office personally. On discussion, he decided that he should teach me how to write letters and demonstrated to me how corporate communication should be entered into. He pulled out a letter that he had received from a branch office, to which he had responded and the response was going out that day. He asked me to read both and I duly did. He then proceeded to dictate another letter to his secretary in my presence while asking me to listen carefully. After that dictation was complete, he said that the dictated letter was in response to the reply that he would get to the letter that was going out that day. When I asked him how he knew what that would be like, he said that was what management was. Anticipating responses to responses and being ready with further responses. I was quite amused though I could not show that to him. I told him that I was very impressed and went off to handle my own project. Two days later, he came to the room where I was working on my project to show me the response that he had received and triumphantly announced how accurate he was! Frankly while I was quite impressed with the entire story, I just could not understand why he could not have finished the matter off by eliminating the last two letters through being proactive in the first instance. I was then enlightened by some other knowledgeable colleagues that had he done that, he would be left with that much less work! Typical bureaucratic approach to problem solving!

I wish that I had been senior enough then to tell him, like I told Shekhar, “Prawn, clever, very clever!”

Posted in Facebook, Friendship, Humor, Management | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Stereophonic Assault.

My friend Mitch has a great sense of humour and is also a great fan of the peanuts cartoons. I thank him for this which came immediately after I had been exposed to a similar experience.  I had two sources of chatter and when my daughter Manjiree asked how I was feeling when I came home, I said “Recovering from a stereophonic assault!” Please click on the cartoon to get a larger resolution.


And if you too have suffered recently such an experience, you can learn to sing just as I hope that Mitch will too who plaintively asks -“Who amongst us hasn’t allowed this to happen?”

Posted in Blogging, Humor, Music, Raves and Rants | Tagged | 13 Comments

A Winter’s Tale.


I have experienced some of the coldest winters in places like Aberdeen and Zurich as well as on top of the Alps on a weekend trip just to experience it. But the winter that I will now share with you was special and oft remembered and shared with others for its sheer magic.

Immediately after our marriage and honeymoon, I was posted to Delhi to set up an efficient Trademark Protection cell because my then employer was having a lot of problems of infringement, counterfeit and passing off of their trademarks. I was given some cursory training with our solicitors in Mumbai and was asked to report to Delhi on the 15th of December 1968, a date that I will never forget.

While my late wife, then a brand new bride just getting used to the funny ways of a Management Trainee husband working for a British company, had previous experience of winters in North India, having been a teacher in Patiala for a couple of years, I had never been to the North of India during winters.

Neither of us had enough financial resources between the two of us to properly equip ourselves for Delhi’s winter, nor had wardrobes geared for that kind of weather. I had hit rock bottom with my resources with expenditure on the wedding and our honeymoon. We simply decided that love will conquer all and landed in Delhi in the late evening when there was a power cut and there were no lights in the railway station. The company had arranged for us to be met at the station and escorted to a hotel and we managed to reach the hotel without mishap but felt the cold of Delhi all right.

My first priority was to get paying guest accommodation as I could not afford to live in a hotel and I was very lucky to find a wonderful landlady thanks to the help given to us by a friend who had lived in Delhi for many years. The accommodation consisted of one room on the first floor of a two storied semi detached  home and one room on the terrace called a Barsati.  (A Barsati (meaning for rains) apartment means a small rooftop room or a small apartment on the top floor of a house.) The bathroom facilities were on the terrace and there was a lean-to shed to organize a kitchen if we wanted.

On day three we moved to the place and when the land lady saw our luggage, she was astounded to see that we had no bedding, quilts or anything like that and asked us what our plans were. When I said that I intended to hire some furniture mattresses etc, she promptly guided me to a regular hirer of such items whose clientele was usually people getting guests for special occasions like family weddings etc. The same friend who had introduced me to the landlady also gave some bed sheets to tide us over and for the next ten days till my next payday, we managed with just that.

From January 1969, with both of us with slightly increased funding, we were comfortable with warm clothes, proper sheets etc and with hired furniture we were able to set up our first home in that Barsati. Urmeela even arranged to get some potted plants to brighten up the terrace and with the landlady, teaching her how to cook, she even managed to learn to make tea, breakfast and dinner though, we had most of our meals out because she too went off to work in a studio and I to my office and in the evenings we would go to one of the many nearby eateries called dhabhas for inexpensive but nutritious food.

We were posted to Delhi again in 1980 to 1983 and enjoyed three wonderful winters there again, but the first winter without proper clothes, inadequate funds and a makeshift home, was truly a winter’s tale which coincided with our very first home, that we reminisced about often sharing our story with other young newly married couple facing similar problems.

This topic was suggested by Maria the gaelikaa for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently eight 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, PadmumShackman 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, Friendship, Nostalgia, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Live On A Cruise Ship.


For some time now, my friend A and his dear wife N have been contemplating a different lifestyle to what they have and one of the alternatives that they thought of was to live permanently in a serviced apartment. I was quite enthused too and have been keeping an eye out for such possibilities within my budget. What deterred them then was their three dogs! Subsequently, their only child, like my own only child, put paid to all our aspirations by vetoing the whole idea as being silly!  I am not exaggerating.  As being silly is the exact reason quoted.

My bucket list however just got another item! Like our thinking about service apartments,for sometime now I had been getting emails saying that it would be better for retired people to live on cruise ships instead of in retirement homes. Here is even one blog post that I had occasion to read.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

What a way to live if you can afford that! That is, provided your very protective child/ren allow you to.

Posted in Blogging, Economics, People | Tagged , | 24 Comments

Synchronicity At It Again.


There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.
~ Booker T. Washington

In the following story, you see both pulling up and pushing down take place. It never fails to amaze me to see the disadvantaged pulling down other disadvantaged.

When something like this happens, one tends to agree that everything happens for a reason.

The story does not stop there. There has been collateral damage for someone too.

Posted in Customer Service, Family, People, Relationships, Sociology, Values | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Little Bits Of Happiness.

Silhouette, group of happy children playing on meadow, sunset, s

Tammy a regular visitor to my blog inevitably with some very  encouraging, amusing and /or incisive comments has this very nice post with the same title as this post.  I had commented there – “You inspire me to write a list of the simple things in my life that give me great pleasure, and it has to start with my morning cup of freshly brewed tea with grated ginger in it that kick starts my day. Watch out for a blog post so that I don’t bore you stiff here!”  And in her grand way, she responded – “you NEVER bore me sean! never. i already look forward to such a post!”

There it starts, such a little thing to say but which gives such great happiness!

Happiness has come to mean to be an outcome of some action.  What one hopes for of course is to be in a permanent state of happiness which we all know simply to be impractical.  One can therefore hope to get things in one’s life that will give the byproduct, happiness.

Last week was not exactly unhappy for me, but it did get me to muse about missing things I wanted and did not get.  I must have hit some hidden button because my brother Arvind who rarely comments on my posts, mailed me that the moral of the story is not to get out of the house!

From the day before yesterday, little bits of happiness have been cropping up all the time!  I was contacted by  two people who I had not heard from in years wanting to reestablish contact, one person acceding to my request for some help for another friend, two visitors on Sunday and one yesterday.  I have been getting mails and facebook messages galore and to add icing on these cakes, my mentee Pravin writes a post praising me to the skies which I do not wish to share here for obvious reasons and other nice things have been happening too!

I dug out an ancient infra-red lamp to give myself a heat treatment for a painful spasm and found that the lamp had finally given up its ghost.  I mentioned this to Ranjan and Manjiree yesterday in the evening and this morning when I woke up I found a brand new one sitting atop my dressing table!  What a way to start the day!

The other little things that give me a great deal of joy every day are, apart from the first mug of tea, my meditation and yogabhyas session, the morning news papers and the four crossword puzzles that I solve; regular interruptions by Chutki who dislikes being ignored for long; the mid morning coffee that Mangal brews for me as soon as she arrives and the lunch that would follow in a while.  Post lunch siesta, afternoon mug of tea and books to keep me company till late in the evening, or instead, a matinee film show and a wind up session at the computer just before going to bed.  The banter that I enjoy in the blog world and on facebook,  has a special corner in my room for happiness. The greatest happiness of all these daily events are the times that I sleep.  Unlike many of my friends who have problems, I sleep soundly and inevitably wake up refreshed.

Other joyful things happen without fail even when I go out and so to Arvind I say that aberrations like my last week come into our lives just to point out that we tend to take little bits of happinesses that we come across regularly for granted whereas we should be conscious of them and be grateful as well.  And, I do not go out all that much anyway!

Can you think of all those little bits of happiness that we take for granted?


Posted in Blogging, Family, Friendship, Meditation, Philosophy, Relationships | Tagged | 19 Comments

Pakistan And The USA – Bud Abbott And Lou Costello.

bud abbott

Or better, these two!


I am sure that all my readers know that POTUS Obama is the chief guest for India’s Republic Day celebrations on the 26th inst. This will be the first time ever that the POTUS will be the chief guest. Naturally, security is on everybody’s mind.

The US is not taking any chances and has warned Pakistan not to send any terrorists into India while the POTUS is in India!

And lo and behold, Pakistan assures the US that they will not send terrorists into India.

Indians cannot stop laughing at this slapstick comedy of the century!

Indians would love to get the POTUS to live permanently in India. I personally will be willing to host him in my humble abode.  I will be able to sleep peacefully as would 1.4 billion other Indians.

Posted in Humor, India/Pakistan | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Quality Not Quantity.


Kylie over at eclectica has this intetesting concept of having a theme word for the new year. The idea being that you create one word that will summarize your focus on the most important thing that you would like to accomplish during the new year. I commented on her post that my word would be “Clear” expanding it to say that I would like to clear all the items in my bucket list.

A bucket list of course implies that you would like to accomplish the things in the list before you pop off. Oddly enough soon after that little comment on Kylie’s blog, Lin in her LBC post on Travails Of City Life wrote about her beloved Seattle in the USA where I left this comment: “I have read so much about Seattle including the Chief for whom it is named after that it is in my bucket list of places to visit before I pop off!” Lin in her typical style responded in an email, she does not respond to comments on her blog, “Good for you. Please let me know if you do decide to go and have any special wishes of places you want to visit. Perhaps I can help. and please don’t pop off too soon.” Since she wrote three posts on that topic, in another one I commented: “I was on a transferable job and after marriage, had to live in eight different homes in different cities before we put down roots here in Pune. Before my marriage, I had already lived in four different cities so, wandering is quite a familiar scene for me. Having spent the last almost quarter of a century here, Pune now is home and I hope that like my late wife’s ashes, mine too will get washed away by the Mula Mutha.” and she has responded in her typical style: “Since you’re probably about my age (I’m a year younger than Chuck) I hope you wait a while before your wishbone takes to sea.”

I am not being morbid. It is just that I will be 72 years old this June. Two years more than the proverbial threescore and ten! Every day is a bonus to be lived with gratitude for living and because of my eclectic interests, my bucket list keeps growing. Fifty more weeks to go in 2015. How much can I achieve? So, after I read Lin’s response, I sat with the bucket list and pruned it down to a manageable number of things to do.

What I did was simply focus on the things where the quality was important rather than the quantity. Let me explain with just one example. On top of the list is my plan, which has been in place for the past five years, to visit family and friends who are all overseas. The original idea was to go to the UK/Ireland and then to the USA and cross over to Australia, stop over at Malaysia and Singapore and return. This plan has been just on the drawing board due to various reasons which need not be discussed here but it is one of the things that I most certainly want to do before I pop off. To be more realistic, I have pruned it to make a visit to Australia, Malaysia and Singapore, primarily because my cousin who was in the USA died two months ago and I simply have no inspiration to go there now, now that he is no more. My other friends and family members in the USA will have to take the chance that I will be alive next year, or the next or whatever.

This high quality, but low quantity trip will be just about what I can comfortably do both financially and physically and that is that.

The other major pruning for quality has been the decision to prune the books that I want to read to take into account the quality of the book rather than the number waiting to be read.

The trick now is to clear the list within items in the list!

Posted in Blogging, Books / Reading, Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Self Improvement, Writing | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments



The week just gone by has been one of a mixed experiences.  Some very memorable ones, some eminently forgettable ones and I would call it a normal ordinary week except for one factor.

That one factor was my observation that I could not get some things that I wanted totally or got them after a few failed attempts.  I went looking for a flat for senior citizens, in a development much advertised and found that the construction work had not even started. I went out to attend to two chores but was able to attend to only one because the driver misunderstood instructions and got delayed.  I went shopping for a few garments and found what I wanted in the colour and texture that I wanted but just not in the size or, found the correct size but not the colours that I wanted.  A DVD that I wanted was not available.  A book that I wanted was out of print and so on and so forth.

And that was not all, in terms of service, at a restaurant that I had gone with some friends, the dish I wanted was not available on that day and the less said the better about my ability to get auto rickshaws.  I am normally very lucky with them but the whole week went by with not one occasion when I could get the first passing rickshaw and had to wait for an obliging driver to take me to my destinations.

I was looking forward to spending some time with a friend who met me but was in a tearing hurry to go away to attend to other matters disappointing me no end.

I was reflecting on all these disappointments and decided that I just had a week of being comparable to Tantalus and mentioned this to my friend who ditched me who promptly contradicted me by pointing out that I had met and married the love of my life and had a long and happy life with her and thus could not be compared to Tantalus.  Naturally, I had to point out that Tantalus started missing out on goodies after his punishment and banishment to the underworld, in my case, the punishment perhaps for having had such a marvelous life!

That was the second week of the new year.  I hope that the rest of the fifty are better and that my punishment is not the eternal one that Tantalus was given. To the best of my knowledge, I have not offended any Gods.



Posted in Customer Service, Friendship, Relationships | Tagged | 18 Comments

Chai, Garam Chai.

This is Jugaad in the digital age.

Posted in Customer Service, Food, Marketing, Sociology | Tagged | 7 Comments