Festival Lights.

My daughter in love has been at it again. She has decorated our living room and the veranda adjoining it with sparkling strings of lights for Christmas.

She also insisted on taking a photograph of me in my favourite perch. She switched off the reading lamp which was on to help me read the magazine to my right and switched on all the strung lights.

Posted in Family | Tagged | 15 Comments

Domesticated Dogs!

My cousin Shankar does not send me only books on Buddhism. He also sends me gems like these two clips.

Posted in Humor | Tagged | 13 Comments

People Watching.

I regularly indulge in People Watching.  And no, I don’t need a pair of binoculars to indulge in that activity. The people being watched are near enough for me to read their facial expressions when uncovered, even without them. Let me explain.

Every morning, I sit for about half an hour in my veranda with my morning mugs of tea. This veranda which opens out to my garden, abuts a main artery of our neighbourhood. It is a tree lined avenue and is populated with some very nice housing societies. There is a grill between me and the garden and a chain fence between the garden and the avenue. Though the garden and the fence is covered by hedges, parts of the fence are not and I can clearly see the avenue and the passers by can see me too from the gaps.

I am more or less a fixture and many passers by wave to me and at times, some of them come near the grill to say hello too.  There have been two occasions when at a cinema theatre once and at a restaurant at another time, two gents came across and introduced themselves as a morning walkers who sees me every morning having my tea!

What are the kinds of people that I watch every morning?  To start with, my favourites. School going children waiting for their buses to come and pick them up. They inevitably cheer me up for the rest of the day. I am their favourite Old Man!

The next are those that know me and wave to me or stop to chat with me. These will be about half a dozen or so.

Then will be all the others who come in all ages and shapes, who can be sorted into different varieties.

The solos. These are single walkers or joggers of either sex very intent on their morning exercise and are totally focussed. Some of them do calisthenics while walking and that is quite impressive to watch.  Some have headphones on and are perhaps listening to music or some other audio going on.  A dangerous trend that I see now is the increasing number of people texting or reading hand held devices while walking.

The pairs. These are two of either a couple or a pair of the same sex, again either walking or jogging. The walking ones inevitably chat while on their walk.  The very recognizable couples either bring domestic disputes along on the walks just as much as home accord and the consequent smug looks come along too.  It is interesting to speculate on such pre walk scenarios at their homes.

The groups. These too consist of either walkers or joggers and the former inevitably will be talking among themselves about the hottest topic of the day. Usually politics or cricket. The joggers do not talk as they are too focussed in staying with the group at the same pace.

Besides all the above there are also bicyclists. Most are about their normal morning routine like going to work or coming off night duty but some come on obvious exercise bikes. These are also very focussed though there are some who gently pedal to enjoy the morning air.  Here too headphones are very much noticeable just as much as texters.  Luckily, I have not yet seen any mishaps but am prepared to be of help if they take place as they will sooner than later.

Finally come the maids and male servants employed in the various blocks of flats. Some of them come on bicycles, some walk and some get dropped by a member of their family while riding pillion on scooters or motorcycles.

The most mysterious are the helmet wearing motorcycle/scooter riders and also pillion riders similarly helmeted or those with faces covered to prevent air pollution!

Watching all these people, leads often to speculating about them too. For instance if someone is obese, I speculate that s/he has been ordered by a doctor to exercise. If it is someone waiting for a cab from the Uber, their occupation etc or whether they will be going off on a trip to catch a train or a flight and so on.

This pastime goes on till the newspapers arrive bringing to an end a harmless but interesting daily routine.

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, People | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Ajahn Chah.

Please click on the image to get a larger resolution.

I received these four books as a gift parcel from my cousin Shankar who had a fascinating tale to tell me about them.

Shankar was quite attached to a young lad who was his nephew’s classmate from school. This young lad is now 41 and having emigrated to Canada some years ago, for the past few years has been a Buddhist Monk there.

The monk has returned to India for a short visit to meet up with his past and had invited Shankar over to his family’s home to meet him and some other friends who have also come from Canada with him.

Shankar bought some of the books that the school to which the young monk belongs and sent them to me for the simple reason that he felt that I was the only one in the family who would enjoy reading them and also perhaps understand the contents.

I was quite intrigued as to his motivation and asked him on the phone as to what made him decide to choose me to receive the gifts and he said something that has been resonating with me since our talk. He said that I was the only one that he knew who had gone deeply into matters spiritual and also the only one who has more or less become very comfortable being on his own with his books and spiritual pursuits. Obviously, this is the image that I have in my family and I am very pleased that I am thought of as being like this.

Coming to the books, I had never heard of Ajahn Chah. My son Ranjan had a few Thai classmates in college who used to come home often and one of them even became a monk. I therefore knew that Thailand has a vibrant Buddhist environment and that there are many schools of Buddhism there.

I am intrigued enough with the new books to drop all other reading material that I have in the pipe line to read all these four books. If at the end of it all, I find anything interesting, I shall blog again about my impressions.

Posted in Books / Reading, Buddhism, Family, Religion, Spiritualism | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Christmas Season Is Here At Our Home. 2.

The last post was all about lighting up our home.

This one is to cheer up the young ones at home. I leave it to your imagination to guess who the young ones are.

PS Actually, this was while she was bringing in the season with some of her friends.

Posted in Blogging, Family, Humor | Tagged | 6 Comments

Monsoon Shootout.

A very unusual movie which is interesting nevertheless. The entire hour and a half of screening time revolves around one police man’s split second different decision making processes which results in three different outcomes.

I went to see because I was intrigued with the reviews that I read about it. One of them is this one. Naturally, another magnet was Nawazuddin Siddiqui. And he did not disappoint.

I must however confess that I was very impressed with Vijay Verma who I had seen earlier in Pink.

Another instance of Indian movie producers willing to experiment with unusual and daring themes. Worth seeing for its sheer novelty.

Posted in Blogging, Movies | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Memory Trigger 22. The Vase.

A visitor came home on Saturday with a bouquet of roses for my daughter in love Manjiree. Normally whoever comes home brings a box of sweets which is the norm here but, this lady guest, a physician, decided that the three of us should not have sweets and instead brought the roses.

After she left, Manjiree arranged the flowers in a copper vessel which she would have rescued from some hidden corner either in the kitchen or the sideboard or wherever. I had not seen the vessel shown here holding the flowers in years. The vessel has a story behind it and this sudden appearance of it has triggered that memory.

Urmeela and I got married in November 1968 and after our honey moon went off to Delhi to set up our first ever home. In January 1969, the man who had recruited me for my then employer, Jimmy Twaddel was returning from the UK after Christmas holidays, to our Mill location in Kerala. He and his wife, were stopping over at Delhi to visit Delhi as well as Agra as by late 1969 they expected to return to our Head Office in Glasgow.

The two of them were staying at Delhi’s then only five star hotel The Oberoi and invited the two of us to dinner as, Jimmy wanted to get to know Urmeela the latest entrant to the company’s club of wives. For those who think that this is odd, it was the custom of almost all British organisations in India then to be small with the Management cadre as a well knit family. As they grew larger and mergers and acquisitions played havoc with cultures, that changed but, at that point of time, it was still the practice for Senior Managers to take an interest in the affairs of Junior Managers.

For both Urmeela and me, The Oberoi was an experience by itself. The first five star hotel in Delhi that we had gone to and we were extremely happy to be invited. After the dinner and as we were parting company, the Twaddels presented us with a largish box as a wedding gift. We thanked them and came to our quarters and opened the package to find this vessel. There was a note inside in Jim’s impeccable handwriting in cursive to the effect that it was a copper vessel and drinking water stored in it overnight would be very helpful for both of us. There was a small booklet to the same effect attached to the letter.

This was the first ever wedding gift that we received other than the envelopes of cash that we had at the reception and Urmeela cherished it for that reason. It has travelled all over the country with us on a number of transfers and after many years has once again made an entrance into my life! Seeing that again, brought back memories of my interview with Jim and subsequent meetings as well as this wonderful gift that his lovely wife and he gave us.

Posted in Gratitude, India, Management, Nostalgia, Relationships | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Urban Legends.

Pleases click on the image to get a larger resolution.

That X-ray shows both hip joints replaced with prostheses. Both my hip joints have been replaced and having worn out, one has been revised twice and the other once. The latter is due for revision but, I am postponing as much as possible to avoid getting on to a surgical table again.

A colleague and friend who had not seen me for some time, saw me walking with a cane while I was still in my late thirties.  He simply would not accept the medical reasons for my problem and thus an urban legend was born.

The story spread like wild fire among my friends and colleagues and is now the most accepted part of the legend that is me.

I was supposed to have jumped out of a second floor flat and hurt my hips. When asked why I had to do that, the answer was that the husband came.

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<

Posted in Blogging, Friendship, Humor, Medicine | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Memory Trigger 21: Question.

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.”
~ Chinese proverb

Recently, there have been some evenings when my daughter in love Manjiree has been asking a lot of questions about our past about which she does not know anything. Her questions have covered mostly Ranjan’s background and about our relatives that she has met. A natural tendency to get to know about her husband’s background.

During one such session she asked me very searching questions about her late mother in law, Urmeela and I suppose that she was not satisfied with my answers for she suddenly appeared a couple of days ago and asked me to go to a link online that she helped me key in.

Lo and behold. this is what I saw appearing on my computer’s screen:

“Artists like Dasrath Kumari Mathur and Urmila Shaw could not be very active in their careers after marriage. “Urmila Shaw was the best painter in our group”, says Fatima recalling her college days in Hyderabad.

Urmila was a Christian and belonged to a middle class family. She had been active in the professional field right from her student days at the local college. She was appreciated for her work by almost everyone known to her, particularly Vidya Bhushan, her teacher. Like him she also went to the erstwhile Yugoslavia to learn mural techniques. She and Usha Shankar worked on the Ajanta mural project, assigned to Vidya Bhushan by the Lalit Kala Academy. Urmila’s family and that of Vidya Bhushan’s were friends.

Urmila was in Hyderabad until the late 70s. She went to Bombay after marriage. Later she settled down in Pune and still lives there. She continued to paint for a long time following her marriage. Urmila and Usha were friends. Usha began to study FineArts after marriage. Her husband encouraged her in her creative pursuits. She had a fascination to experiment with various media, such as, oils, acrylic and egg tempera.”

Every name in the narrative was known to me as I had met and spent time with all of them and had even visited all of them at their homes, and had also attended their exhibitions on occasion. All except Fatima sadly are no more.

That Fatima, a formidable personality considered her as the best in their group came as a complete surprise to me. That Vidhya Bhushan thought very highly of her was known to me, but Fatima’s praise came as a very pleasant surprise. Incidentally, she is very much in Pune and is quite active in the art world.

The reason for the title of this post is that I have been googling for many things for many years but had never found this particular passage till now. On asking Manjiree how she found it, she enigmatically replied that she asked google the right questions!

Posted in Family, Nostalgia | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Unusual Twins.

Posted in Friendship, People | Tagged , | 16 Comments