Area 51.

I have never heard of Area 51.

Since Shackman who suggested this title for this post is off grid sans a computer, I wouldn’t be any wiser till I read his post, if he ever writes at all.

From what I have gathered in the Wikipedia entry for it, I am glad that I am ignorant about this subject.

I am sorry that I am unable to contribute anything more on the subject.

Shackman 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.

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I received two phone calls today from people very dear to me. Both retired senior citizens comfortably off and in reasonably good health.

The first phone call took about thirty minutes of catching up with each other on family matters, movies and books as well as some recent political developments. Very intellectual and very satisfying.

The second one started off with exchange of WhatsApp messages where my friend was asking me to blog about a subject on which I have limited knowledge and no interest. He decided to tease me for my humility in confessing my inability and we bantered for a while on the WhatsApp chat when he decided that it would be better to talk on the phone. The conversation was not as long as the earlier one but, started off by his using a common phrase here which loosely translates to “I am being hit with boredom”. My normal response would have been “Hit it back!” but, I refrained as it had been so long since I heard that phrase.

I can understand why my friend was bored. He is recovering from a surgical procedure and is not allowed to indulge in some of his favourite pastimes.  This post however is not about him but, about me.

I am  never bored. I have enough to keep me occupied and consider myself blessed when I am left to my own devices. Like, as I write this, I am all alone at home with just our dog for company and am thoroughly enjoying the solitude. I will finish this blog post, attend to some email and catch up with some Facebook posts.  I will then get on with reading a fascinating book which I hope to finish reading by this evening. Edward Luce’s The Retreat Of Western Liberalism. I have read his earlier book on India, In Spite Of The Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India and this new one is as fascinating as the earlier one was.

I get five newspapers every day and solve five crossword puzzles in them well before lunch time every day. On the days that I don’t get the newspapers due to public holidays, I am somewhat lost, but never bored. I simply use the time to read. I also subsribe to a number of weekly and monthly magazines and those plus the books that I buy mostly on kindle or from Amazon as hard copies are more than enough to keep me occupied.

I get a number of messages on WhatsApp as well as get some phone calls from friends and family.  I regularly go to the movies and visit friends or, have them come over and so am quite occupied.

I also blog and visit a number of blogs and leave comments on them and so, don’t find any reason to complain of being bored.

A man said to the universe: “Sir I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.”
~ Stephen Crane

Posted in Blogging, Books / Reading, Facebook, Friendship, Writing | 14 Comments


Posted in Humor | 10 Comments


Girl : (To God) I don’t want to marry. I am educated, independent and self sufficient. I don’t need a husband. But my parents are asking me to marry. What to do?

God replied : You are my finest creation and undoubtedly will achieve many great things. But some things, inevitably, will not go the way you want. Worst, some things will fail. Whom will you blame? Yourself?
Girl: No!
God: Very Good, that’s why you need a husband!


Boy: (To God) but then what will i do. Whom will i blame….
God: your scope is much wider son. You can blame the govt, the education system, the environment, the slow growth, the fast growth, the economy, the politicians, the beraucrats, the infra, religions, beliefs and even me………….. But…. *NEVER EVER BLAME YOUR WIFE*

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Please click on the image for a larger resolution. You won’t be disappointed.

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Efficiencey Vs Effectiveness.

A mistake that most people make when they read Drucker’s quote is to treat both as mutually exclusive.  They are not.  Both are vital in all aspects of life, particularly, when it comes to customer service.

I placed an online order for some Deepavali goodies on the 16th inst.  On the 18th, I received a text message to the effect that the goods had been shipped on the 17th and gave me a tracking number.  I had been tracking the parcel from the 18th online and finally got fed up and the outcome was this story given below.

This letter that I wrote to the Head Office of a large courier company in India earlier this week cannot be any more lucid.

“Your Yerwada Pune office, which I presume is a franchisee is the most unprofessional commercial establishment that I have come across.

I get many parcels through many courier companies and have not had the few experiences that i have had with your Yerwada branch. So much so that I have requested my contacts in the South of India not to use your services to send any thing to me.

The latest instance refers to tracking number XXXXXXXXX.

The parcel reached your Yerwada office on the 18th of October and till yesterday was not delivered to me. With great difficulty, I found their telephone number and rang them up to enquire when one Mr. Isaac was most inefficient in his responses and I finally had to send someone personally to collect the parcel from your Yerwada office. That person found three men there very clearly under the influence of alcohol.

The parcel was opened and it was clear that attempts had been made to see what was packed inside. Luckily despite damaging the plastic outer over of a box, nothing was stolen though the last time the same sender had sent me some edible stuff one packet was stolen.

I am disgusted. I have informed this sender also not to use your services to send anything to people in Pune.”

Let me explain the concepts involved vis a vis Drucker;

The vendor shipped properly and on time and having arranged to inform me about the shipment, washed his hands off the matter as there was no follow up to ensure that the goods were delivered on time for the Deepavali celebrations. He was efficient but not effective. Why not effective? He also shut down his shop for Deepavali and no one would answer the phone and even emails to him were bouncing.

Let us now come to the Courier company. They accepted the parcel, duly entered the details in their online system to enable the recipient or sender to track the parcel. All along the way, the system was updated as the parcel changed hands and offices. The courier company was efficient till now but became ineffective when they did not catch the parcel not being despatched on the 18th inst, or even the 19th from their Pune office.

I however think that I was effective in writing to the Corporate Head Office and I am rather surprised at their response. Within a few minutes of sending the mail, I got a copy of the mail that they sent from their corporate head office to their Regional Head Office in Mumbai reading as follows:

“Urgently find the below complaint and do the needful.”

The language is typically Indian English and let us give allowance for that and accept that the CHO has done the thing right and also the efficient thing. They have kept the reporting structure intact and kept the customer informed on the action taken. Have they been effective? No. Nothing further has happened as I write this blog post. I will now become efficient and hopefully effective by sending a reminder to the Head Office every day, till I get a resolution to this poor customer service.

I shall also be writing to the vendor that I shall not place any orders on him unless he changes the courier and would follow up till I get a commitment from him. If I cannot succeed in that endeavour, I shall simply find another vendor.

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.

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“I don’t know what your destiny will be but, one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve.”

Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

Posted in Humor | Tagged , | 11 Comments

India And Its Future.

Science has become religious and religion is pretending to be Science. That is where the problem is. Neither understands the other.
Devdutt Pattanaik.

“JP Morgan elegantly points to the ruins of emerging markets and says India is a nice house in a bad street! I would add further… The western world is founded on the principles of liberal, free market, democracy… Outside the OECD and the western Anglo Saxon Protestant world, literally in the entire globe there is one other example of this experiment and that is India…we are the West and England’s most natural ally… We speak the language, sing Beatles songs, read Wodehouse and want to grow up to be Sherlock.

Despite our many failings we are a giant and a colossus and for the sake of the world, let’s hope we succeed!.”

That was the concluding paragraph of a speech made by Mr. Dhritiman Biswas, a young Professional of Indian origin from Britain.

The breed of Indians that Mr. Biswas talks about certainly exists but is confined to urban India and will not exceed about fiver percent of our population. This population however boxes way above its weight because of its ability to use the English language and also because English language media of India is the most visible in the international arena. But five percent of India’s population is 70 million people! More than the UK’s.

I for one comfortably straddle the worlds of the five percent and the rest of the ninety-five. Primarily because I come from a family with deep roots in rural India and very orthodox religious beliefs. Due to migration to cities and exposure to Western style education, I benefited through employment with multinational companies and visits to the West. Extensive reading of English fiction helped too but at the heart of hearts, I am deeply rooted in our culture and philosophical systems and values.

“India is beyond statement, for anything you say, the opposite is also true. It’s rich and poor, spiritual and material, cruel and kind, angry but peaceful, ugly and beautiful, and smart but stupid. It’s all the extremes.”
~ Sarah Macdonald.

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Alternative Math.

Posted in Humor, People | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Handmade Toy Violin.

Every now and then a street vendor goes around hawking handmade toy violins on Indian streets playing catchy and popular tunes to entice unsuspecting buyers. Earlier this morning, one such vendor went by our home playing one of my favourite Hindi film songs.

Unsuspecting because, while he will play quite well any piece that you will select, you bring it home and try to play on it you simply will not be able to and inevitably the piece simply gets thrown away. I speak from personal experience.

Here are two such vendors showing off their skills.

Posted in India, Music, Raves and Rants | 10 Comments