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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year- And some reflections

New Year 2009, is around the corner. A time for some quiet reflection, for the year gone by and some thinking ahead.....

2008 was the year when the world faced a 'Global melt-down', something that even the most hardened cynics couldn't possibly have anticipated..

With it, the loss of so many Institutions, jobs, people ...Then looking at the creation of some new ones.

For it is only when the 'Old order crumbles that a new one emerges."Or as the proverbial 'Phoenix' rises from the ashes, so will something new come out of all this.

On a more personal note, some changes, transitions, movement ahead..

The loss of some dear people, leaving behind a vacuum that will be hard to fill

And the finding of new friends, who give great joy and happiness..

So there's always hope., Hope for a brighter day, a brighter week...

And a brighter New Year..

So here's looking ahead... to New Year 2009

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sunset- A Time for reflection

It's true you know.......

The sun will set every day
And it will rise again, the next morning.

While I captured these moments on film the other day, I thought what a marvellous sight I could see unfolding right in front of my eyes..

And since I let it, one which touched a very deep chord within my 'being'.
Where for a long , long moment in time, I was all alone..
Just me, the sea, the sand and the setting sun.
A true moment in time, of being 'one with myself'
And the one we call 'God', somewhere around me too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Unknown children at play-makes my day

Now that my own daughter has grown up, I sometimes miss the feeling of say,

Holding her hand and taking her out to the park. Just the two of us.....

Then putting her onto the swings and gently pushing her up, higher and higher.
And hearing her delighted laughter, as she feels herself going up, up, and then down.

Or then taking her to Baskin Robbins for her favourite 'Cookies and cream' ice cream, just becausdse she "felt like eating it now".

Even if it had to be done at 10 in the night, when sleep beckoned me- very, very strongly...
Or then to 'House of Prose 'where she loved to read books, more than buying them...

Or, Or, Or......

So what I've started doing now, is look for her in other children.

Children of the world, who are there, everywhere I look.

And everywhere I see a happy girl child , I see my Neha in her.

So Neha, these are who I've found so far. Among a few others...

Here's wishing you and all your friends in the UK, a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year as well.

We are Missing you, child...
And have set up your Christmas tree too. Just the way you would have done...

Lots and lots of love
MA and PA

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Random shots- A Fathers love

Why do most people always talk about a "mother's love?"

And so, somewhere we always end up doing injustice to the other person who is an equal partner in the creation of a child, the father.

Perenially accepted in the role of a 'secondary caregiver', a father can be so much more- if he chooses to. And yes, today's fathers are quite a different breed from those of one or then two generations ago.

Since, "Every picture speaks a thousand words", or so they say, this little blog entry is my personal attempt to correct this perception.

For what we have here are moments in time, of pure unadaulterated joy.

A father with his two daughters, on his day off.

When there are no timetables to follow...

Just peace, love and happiness

Out in the sunshine..

And the fresh air

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Like many of us I've often loved the thought of having 'friends'.

And thanked God for the many, many good friends that I've been lucky enough to find... as I've gone along life's journey.

The fact of the matter- we can all grow, and flourish only when we have friends who truly care.

Care enough to the extent of telling us off , if we are going 'off track'.
Or if we really have gone off track, being there to help us 'rise'.

Again, and again.... if the need be...

So let us just pause for a moment, and reflect, how many real friends can we count?

More importantly, how many people are we real and true friends to?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

545 PM Dec 12th, The Al Hajar Mountain range in the Sultanate of Oman.

Out in the wilderness, this is the most fascinating view that caught our attention...

Leaping out of the vehicle, this is what I managed to capture on camera.

Intriguing enough by itself. But what was more than exciting was the next day, when I learnt that the moon had passed closest to the earth that evening

Making this the biggest 12 years.

Talk of luck, or was it opportunity...?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eid Mubarak- The beauty of Islam and it's culture

Having lived in a predominantly Muslim country for almost two decades, has taught me about the beauty of Islam, its culture, it's love for all humanity, and it's broadbased approach, to people of all religions as well.

Living in Oman has taught me to sincerely appreciate and understand -how easy life really is.

Hindus go to pray in their own specially constructed temples, Sikhs to their Gurdwara, Christians to Church, and Muslims to their mosques.

Each- to their own, and a total acceptance of the others way of life.

Tommorrow as Eid Al Adha dawns, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone.May there always be peace -here in the Gulf, in India, which has so recently witnessed so much of bloodshed and carnage.... and all over the world..


Sunday, December 7, 2008

And so, towards the future..

It's been just over 10 days since tragedy struck Mumbai.
And it's a whole 'new India' that has literally woken up to that fact....

I rejoice in the fact that it's all sections of society, as well as all age groups that are involved in this silent, peaceful awakening.

In the aftermath, so many truths have come to light.

The most critical being the fact that there were security and administration failures.And repeatedly at that.

Then the fact that various politicians attempted to capiatalize on the situation, in ways that are crude and difficult to believe, even today.

Top of mind-remember Narendra Modi and his 1 crore rupees?

This is the time when all responsible Indians need to step back and think.

And think, long as well as hard.

What is the India that we would like to have? One that our future generations will be able to truly and proudly move many, many leagues further?

Or back into a regressive, and terrible situation where some of our own countrymen, will have to fear for their lives as well as their families?

Such as what happened to the Sikh community in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's murder?

The horrors of that clearly and deliberately orchestrated pogrom return to haunt us, even today...

The saving grace that I clearly saw, was yesterday, the 6th of December.

When possibly few, if any, newpapers remembered to report that it was the Anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition...

So-There is definitely hope for this great country, India.
If only we all take control and follow through with our individual bit of responsibility

Friday, December 5, 2008

A memory from the past

It was one cold December night of our winter vacation in Delhi.The year must have been 2001.
We had just finished a family dinner at Punjabi by Nature in Priya's Vasant Vihar Complex.
And were looking for a 'paan' to conclude the 'eating fiesta.'

As everyone wandered from place to place, looking around, I stood near a Bangles/accessories pavement seller, looking at his wares.

And my eyes just happened to fall on an old lady, sitting on a nearby pavement bench.What particularly caught my attention was her totally sad eyes, and an expression of sheer desolation. She looked absolutely lost and alone. Though it was clear that she came from the upper strata of society.

The very next moment, she turned and looked at me. Our eyes met, and an unspoken communication took place. I willed her into some semblance of awareness of her surroundings.....and she managed a timid smile.

And then, something that has stayed with me -till today, and every now and then still returns to haunt me...

A younger woman, (possibly her daughter in law? )walked up to her and asked loudly- in Punjabi- "Bunty Kidhar Hai? Kidhar hai Bunty?"

And this one looked up, totally confused , for she hadn't even realised- that Bunty wasn't there!
She started stammering," I don't know, he was just here"...desperately looking around....

For she really had no clue.

All the while the younger woman continued her ranting...

Suddenly, a boy of about 6 came running up- straight to the older woman. And hugging her , he said, "Sorry, I had just gone there... for a moment."

The lady was relieved , and in that moment, tears spilled out of her eyes...

And I stood watching- having understood what I had just unwittingly been a mute witness to.

Gross disrespect of an older person. It was obvious that she was now without her partner. And that's why the younger woman had the audacity to treat her this way.

Life took over, and I went on with my family in the next few minutes, but not without turning to look back at her. Still alone, yet, the child was holding on to her hand...

In some of my quiet moments, I often wonder, what happened to her from that day onwards?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Moments that matter.

Talking to your friends, and really 'listening' to what they have to say.

Or sharing your own 'real' thoughts with them, without couching them in polite tones.
Because one does so much of it in maintaining a 'public face' anyway!

Stepping into another person's shoes, and just for a moment realizing where they are coming from, and why they think, feel and behave the way they sometimes appear to-(sometimes to your irritation, perhaps?)

Standing up for another person's rights, because you realize that they aren't able to get what they really, really deserve.
And having the courage to and persistance to ensure that you finish what you started.

Giving some of our time, and some of our enthusiasm to those are lonely.
For reaching out to a lonely person is probably the one of the things make us realize how thankful we really ought to be for all those who we have today.....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What next?

Kerala CM Achutanandan refuses to apologise, so Mr Karat is forced to, on his behalf...

Ram Gopal Verma sees nothing wrong in what he did. Says he just "happened to be there" and wanted to see for himself.

Pranab Mukerjee's statement- New Delhi has not given up the idea of using a Military option against Pakistan.

And the President elect of the US Mr Obama, endorses that statement.

Pakistan's training camps continue to run, still churning out potential terrorists.

Those who escaped the attacks are slowly limping back.... to something resembling 'normal.'

And elections in India, will be impacted by all of this- whether anyone likes it, or not

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Aftermath

Today, we have a new Home Minister, and the Maharashtra CM has resigned, along with his Deputy.

The NSG finally has helicopters, and hopefully many more in the near future.

The two year old son, of a young Jewish Rabbi cries in confusion, having lost both his parents in a hail of bullets.

The ashes of the 183 dead people still smoulder...

Kerala CM Achutanandan vents his spleen on the slain hero,Maj Unnikrishnan's father, saying that if t had not been for him, even a dog would not have visited that house.

Some BJP leader objects to women "wearing lipstick and powder "and participating in a candle lit vigil, in the wake of this horrendous tragedy.

Can't help but wonder, what will tomorrow bring?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What we now learn

The irony of what range of information was avaialble, has only just begun to come to light.

It now turns out that there were more than enough warnings that an attack by means of a sea approach was imminent.And that information was available for all to see.

In August, the first warning that the Lashkar E- Toiba was training men for a sea attack.

And then , some more...

Most recently, on the 18th of November, a clear document defining the high probability of an attack by sea...

And yet...
What happened? The whole world watched in disbelief and horror as the terrorists continued their maddened rampage, shooting and killling mercilessly...

And today, the Home Minister of India resigned.

Is that going to be it?

Or will the coming elections change things around?

Completely/marginally/not at all???

Only time will tell......

Saturday, November 29, 2008

And then there was silence....

60 hours, 183 dead, and over 300 injured. The visible evidence iof what has raged in Mumbai.
But what of that which is not visible, things that will remain under the surface and continue to smoulder...un-observed.

Until a tiny spark will light up the fire, once more, perhaps?
Many questions raised, some answers provided.

But the main one, as yet unanswered -How were 12 terrorists able to hold the whole of Mumbai to ransom, and where did all the ammunition come in from?

Someone....somewhere will have to provide these answers..

Sooner, rather than later

Friday, November 28, 2008

Terror in Mumbai-26th Nov 08....onwards

54 hours into the stand-off, and there is still no sign of the situation coming to an end.

And this, while the whole world watches in shock, horror and disbelief.

Reality TV like no-one really wants to see.

Yet one is drawn to it, just as a moth is drawn towards the light...

For how can you not watch, when it is there??
In all it's bitterly stark and grim format..

Maj Gen JK Dutt, Director Gen of the NSG has just gone into the Taj, and we can only hope that this will be the last battle, one that will finally bring things to a close..

Yet, the thought that is paramount, at what cost??

Over 130 lives lost, scores injured, and the two major landmarks of Mumbai, the Oberoi Trident and the Taj brought to an unrecognisable condition..

Who stands to gain?

More importantly, are there really any 'Victors' in such a situation?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Muscat Expressway, a modern 'miracle' in road engineering

Muscat has a number of unique features, along with a great deal of natural beauty.

And what takes it up many notches further is the amount of thinking and planning that has gone into developing the city- into more modern, better and yet, uniquely Arabic in look and feel.
Truly combining the best of the East with the West..

Shown here is the Muscat Expressway, a modern miracle in road engineering, possibly the most expensive road constructed anywhere in the world. This road leading from Darsayt to Qurum has actually been cut through sheer mountains, and the quality of construction is un- paralled, and way better than many, many roads I have seen anywhere.

Add to it, the striking beauty of the view that runs just ahead of and parallel to this road, and you will realise why Muscat is what it is...

Beautiful, fascinating and fun to be in.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Surviving the Somali Pirates- MV Stolt valor- in Muscat....

Pirates have freed 22 hostages and Stolt Valor after a two-month ordeal off Somalia. The 25,269dwt chemical tanker, owned by Central Marine of Japan, managed by Fleet Management and time chartered by Stolt Tankers, was released on Sunday after a ransom was paid. Estimates of the amount paid varied widely. The pirates first demanded $6M but later cut that to $2.5M.

The ship’s master was Captain Prabhat Kumar Goyal along with 18 sailors from India, two Filipinos, a Russian and a Bangladeshi. Stolt Valor was on an Egypt/Mumbai route transporting 23,818 tonnes of oil products when it was taken in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen’s coast on 16th September. The pirates took it to Eyl on the northern Somalia coast. India's shipping minister TR Baalu said the case had been very complicated because while the ship-owner is Japanese, it was flagged in Hong Kong, the ‘charterer’ is Norwegian and the crew mainly Indian.

The Indian Embassy was the cynosure of all eyes late on Sunday night, as two buses pulled up, and in them were the crew of Stolt Valor. And the relief that was writ large on their faces was clear for everyone to see. Indian Ambassador to the Sultanate, Anil Wadhwa, whilst thanking all present on the occasion, mentioned that while Captain Prabhat Goyal, had been detained on board for some detailed questioning, and de-briefing, he was delighted to have the others present at the Embassy premises. Adding that this was a moment of sheer relief after all the tension of the last two months.

Speaking on the occasion were two of the crew members of the Stolt Valor.Mr Acharya thanked all the people and families of Fleet Management Ltd, as well as the owners, and said that while this was the first time an Indian ship had been the victim of piracy, he hoped that “each one of us should learn a lesson that no civilized person should exhibit such inhumanity to mankind. “

Mr Ulhas Krishnan, Second Mate said that in the last two months these were the first English or Hindi words that he was uttering and feeling a sheer sense of relief in doing so. Adding that during the entire period of two months, they were under constant threat from their captors, who would speak only in Somali. Piracy along the Somali coast was increasing daily, and this was despite the presence of Combined Task Force 150 in the Maritime Security Patrol Area – (MSPA).

In an Exclusive chat with me, Mr Krishnan detailed exactly how the hijacking of the ship took place. He was on duty on the deck that day, when he saw two boats approaching, from as far as three and a half miles way. Sensing immediately that something was extremely wrong, by the sheer speed at which the boats were approaching, he sent out a distress signal and a wireless SOS to Naval ships nearby but soon realized that they were helpless to deal with that particular situation, obviously never having faced it earlier.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the speed of his ship was at 15 knots, while both these boats were easily capable of doing 50 knots. Further, they had absolutely no weapons on board the Stolt Valor, whilst these had armed gunmen. They were all put into the hold of the ship and stayed there till they were finally released. In fact, even if one of them wanted to use the toilets, the hijackers insisted on keeping the door open.

Food had to be strictly rationed, and while they originally had two months stock on board, the Somali hijackers soon dug into that too. Until the sheer need for rationing was urgently communicated to them and they finally started using their own rations.

How the Ransom was paid-This is truly the stuff that thrillers are made of, and one that would give a Hindi film hero, a run for his money.
The Captain and Ulhas were told that there would be particular signal for dropping the ransom. A boat would make a 100 metres wide circle on the left side and parachute would then drop off the money. The Somalis and he would then collect the ransom after which a smoke signal was to be sent out by Ulhas. However, even the best laid plans plans sometimes have a way of coming apart and this is what almost happened...

The plane dropped off the chute and the boat was racing towards the chute. Suddenly, Ulhas got an urgent wireless SOS call from the Captain, asking him to immediately turn 180 degrees, as the bag was separated from the chute!

Ulhas did exactly that, and a blue coloured bag carrying all the ransom money was safely pulled up on board!And he saw, the ransom money, with his own eyes in US$. Money that was counted and distributed on that boat to each of the hijackers. What is most exciting is the fact that Ulhas knows exactly he amount of money that has been paid out, but is not at liberty to divulge. With that, the agony and torment of all the sailors on board came to an end.
They were told that they were now free... to.. go...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Clouds in the sky

Have you ever wondered?

What it is really like be be up,up,up in the clouds?
Literally,as well as figuratively?

No need to....any I show you visuals of scenes at over 30,000 feet in the air...Right in the midst of the clouds...

Stratus,Nimbus,Cumulus,whatever be their name-there's a tremendous feeling of freedom,as well as of islation,when you are so close to them.

And yes, a sense of awe and wonder too---

Define this feeling for yourselves.For sometimes,mere words are not enough.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Adieu- Kamlesh Ahuja

This has been a season for sad, sad news. For people that we've really cared for.

In March, just before Holi, we lost our Grand Bhuaji, Surinder, who had been suffering from cancer.
More recently, our friend Amrita's father, Nigam Uncle.

Today, Kamlesh Ahuja Aunty. 69 years old. To Cancer.Kamlesh Ahuja- Wife to Dharam Bir Ahuja, mother to Deepika , Kanika and Vishwavir..
Someone I've known since I was 16 years old.Our closest neighbours in Chanakyapuri, and dear friends of my parents, particularly my mother's.

Kamlesh Ahuja- Who loved her garden, eating sweets, Bridge, Rummy, movies, friends, laughter and garden parties.
Her children, their friends, and their friend's friends...

There are times when words fail one. Aunty, for me, this is one of those times...
We will all miss you..

But more than that, we will miss what you stood for...a true belief that children will do their best if allowed to 'flower' in their own individual ways.For even siblings can be different.And we see you in all the three that you gave birth to- Depika, Kanika and Tunnu.

Forever and ever...

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Safe Harbour- An excerpt

It was a wonderful drive, the route taking them through a specially constructed new road. Shangrila’s Bar Al Jissah Hotel was located almost at “land’s end,” and though it was dark right now, they could well imagine the view during the daytime. As it was, both Aafreen and Mantej looked awestruck as they drove through roads that looked like they’d been cut right out of the mountains!

As Sanjit turned into the resort, both of them gasped. Brilliantly lit up, like a jewel rising out of the sea, it was an architectural masterpiece and one that any country would be proud of.

Parking the car, they entered, looking around at the enormous hall, with its enchanting Arabic décor. Trishala enquired, “Would you both like to have drinks before or after dinner?” laughingly adding, “Or both?”

Mantej replied, “I think I speak for all of us. Before.”

Moving inside, they took in the plush and elegant surroundings. The ambience was soothing, yet stirring. The brightly covered tents, serving barbequed meat with its appetizing aroma, were uniquely Arabic. Topping their list of favourites, were the two famous Arabic sandwiches, “Shawarma,” and “Mishkak.” Somewhat similar to the Indian Kathi Kebabs, they were delicious. The “Sheesh Tawook,” a Lebanese delicacy, something like Chicken tikkas, was served with
“Khubz” a variety of Arabic bread.

Also popular with visitors, was “Shisha” (Hookah or the Hubble bubble pipe) that all the guests could try out. Topping the truly Arabic atmosphere was the background music. Particularly, Amr Diab’s “Habibi,” a song that had become a universal hit, spawning numerous clones in its wake...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Neha- One for you

This will really surprise you Neha, as I intend it to ...
After our very interesting chat yesterday, this is what I wanted to write-

I remember, it was the just other day that you were born, and I saw you looking at me- with those lovely, bright eyes. It was as if you were saying, "I know you Ma."And even though I was so tired and so exahausted after having just delivered you-I felt so happy....

I really find it difficult to imagine how a child who had /has everything done, cooked, bought for her till yesterday, (or so it seems)is now managing so well on her own.......

When you tell me that you cooked chicken and rice, or keema, or daal, or a chicken Biryani, I cant help but marvel...

You know, Neha, at your age, I didn't know more than how to make a cup of tea/coffee for myself!And possibly on the very rare occasion, when I just "had to"- a sandwich.

Neha, it really makes me feel very proud as a mother.
And both of us, as parents..... that you're able to handle your life ...on your own.

Now what I want you to do is also to look after your health.Particuarly, as it's now going to be winter in the UK. Always, carry your coat, and wear socks.And nothing cold to drink.

With lots and lots of love

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Bond Phenomena- Quantum Of Solace

James Bond, the most exciting Spy in fiction, and one from whom numerous 'clones' have been spawned. Some successful, and some not so...Over the years, we have seen Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan,and now the 'ever so fit' Daniel Craig.Each one of them have brought in a new dimension to the character. And added some interesting personal touches as well.

Quantum of Solace takes straight off from where Casino Royale left off.....

Betrayed by Vesper, the only woman Bond ever really loved, he fights the urge to make his mission personal. Dominic Greene is the major player, and one whom Bond has to tackle, and in the process he meets the new Bond Girl, well played by Olga Kurylenko.What follows is fast and furious, guaranteeing a pure adrenalin rush- where the viewer is sucked right into the film... and how...

Haiti, Italy, and London are all explored with a thoroughness and astonishing use of camera/ camera angles/ And the technical wizadry incorporated in the film far exceeds anything one could have possibly imagined.

One more Bond movie, and a world world fever pitched excitement accompanying it...and with this one realizes that some legends are here to stay forever...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rebirth-Myth or reality

The Sanskrit word for rebirth or reincarnation is 'punarjanam' and 'samsara' (the round of births and deaths or transmigration of the soul). Researchers have found that memories of past lives are most active during childhood, mainly between the ages of three and five.

I will now recount a short story-One little boy of three was taken by his mother to Pantaloons Calcutta,for the first time, to buy some new clothes.As they came upon the kids section,and the mother asked for trousers with suspenders, the little boy turned towards her and said- "Yeah, I will take them,as I always wear these types of trousers.''

But the mother knew that wasn't the case, as she had never bought them for the child earlier.

So she asked him when-and his response was "When I lived in Bangalore, and I was also wearing them the day I died."Despite being shaken by the answer, the mother persisted with her qns. and soon had the name of the young man,who had died, as detailed by her little boy...

A few weeks and some phone calls later and it was proved- that a young man of abt. 26 had been killed in a headlong collision with a truck in Bangalore, the day before her son was born.And he always wore jeans/trousers with suspenders.

And her son loved playing with cars and bikes to the point of being obsessed.....In fact, he still does.

This story- is reproduced exactly as this young woman told me. Make of it what you will....

One thing is certain, however, as the Bhagavad Gita says: "Jatasya hi dhruvo mrityuh—for one who is born, death is certain.'

Perhaps what Manu wrote in Manusmriti could serve as the definitive answer: he who possesses true insight (into the nature of the world) is not fettered by his deeds, but he who is destitute of that insight is drawn into the circle of births and deaths."

Monday, November 3, 2008

In Memorium -Nigam Uncle

Nigam Uncle passed away this evening at 1830 hrs IST...

Was it unexpected? Who can really tell?

Did he know that the end was so near? Possibly....

For Uncle knew that the surgery had numerous 'potential' hazards, yet he chose to go ahead.

<strong>With that indomitable fighting spirit that he had...all his life, and even in death.
Uncle, we will always, always-remember you as a great human being.

One who everyone, young and old alike could learn so much from- scrabble, games, general knowledge, maths, English literature..... the list could go on and on.

That 'spark' of mischief, that particular look in your eyes, that hearty laugh, that love for animals, birds and humans....

And the depth of wisdom that you chose to share with all of us freely and frankly..

Aunty, Amrita, Sandeep, Sonu, Juju, Ajit, Meenakshi and words can express what we feel...Yet this is my personal attempt to capture a miniscule part of what Uncle epitomised.

I miss you Uncle, and it's not even been one evening.....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An Evening walk

The key to 'fitness' is consistent and regular activity - For weight loss, weight maintenance or just to feel good...

As to what form that activity takes, is something that every individual must decide for himself/herself. Having tried numerous forms of working out when I was younger- Aerobics,( fun, but only for a while)Yoga,( I find it difficult to sit on the ground beyond a point)going to the gym -(lonely if you do it alone, and a waste of time if you have people walking up to chat between their routine, apart from the smell of sweat that pervades the entire area!)

So I finally arrived at what I've been doing for the last many years- an evening walk. And that is a particular time of the day that I really look forward to.Whether I walk alone or in company, I don't let up the pace,and keep on at it- until the mandatory 45- 60 mins are over.

Looking around at the scenery,(ideally the beach, or sometimes our walking track) the other people walking at the same time, and the feeling of being in 'steady motion,'breathing in fresh air, and feeling the breeze on my face and hair,is something that I seriously miss if I don't walk for even one day....

And at the end of my walk, I head home -satisfied. The day's exercise routine is over, and any possible indulgence( particularly if it's chocolate based)is now a distinct possibility...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Art - representing culture and society at it's best...

"A society which enjoys art and culture, is an evolved society". Or something pretty close to these words is what I had heard when I was a child.
And understood the importance of thtose words even at that age.As I clearly identified with those thoughts.

Since then, I have always marveled at the magic that the 'artist's' fingers can create. On a blank canvas. Which then comes alive.

The magic that can "bring to life", flowers, trees, gardens, mountains, streams, deserts, horses,and even humans....

Truly God's gift to some people, and one that makes countless others really happy.Simply by allowing them the 'privilege' of viewing such beautiful works of art- their creations

'Viva la' artists, and may their tribe forever increase....

Friday, October 31, 2008

Urdu, The language of emotions

'Ada', 'Tehzeeb', and refined speech-all of these terms and more can be applied to Urdu.A language capable of expressing love, hate, and indifference in equal measure.

And the 'Shayari', that endless ocean of wonderful, meaningful poems, nazms and ghazals,that express so much. Which can be read at any time of the day, and mean different things to different people at different times.And re-read all over again.....

Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language with about 104 million speakers today, including those who speak it as a second language. It is the national language of Pakistan and is closely related to 'Hindi', though a lot of Urdu vocabulary comes from Persian and Arabic, as well.

Let us promise ourselves and ensure that this language continues to grow from strength to strength,and that the 'shayari', 'tehzeeeb' and ada is retained by the next, as well as the generations to come.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time.. and Shashi Kapoor

(In the pics- Shashi Kapoor with my daughter Neha and her friend Karishma.)

We all grew up...admiring him.Shashi Kapoor, the suave Kapoor, who epitomised charm and style..And that crooked
But 'time and tide'...wait for no-one.
So when I finally met him, I saw all the charm was still intact, along with that 'voice'...but age has a way of getting to all of us...
I wonder.... what if he hadn't lost his wife Jennifer? The 'rock' of his life..
Also wonder...we are all 'ageing'...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Decision making

This is a tough one- those times when one doesn't really know what is the right/correct thing to do.
More importantly, will it really ever be?

Yet, one least for that point in time, and hopes that things will turn out well/well enough.

Taking a chance, looking at the brightest possible scenario, or just leaving it in God's hands.

Being a 'Grown up' is sometimes not the easiest thing to be...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

C'est la vie

I think that I must have been in Class 7, when I heard first this song on 'A Date with you'-the Friday programme on All India Radio, Delhi.

Learnt that it was sung by Emerson,Lake and Palmer.

Absolutely loved it!

Then understood that it meant "That's life"in French. The phrase is mainly used in the context of "That's the way it goes."

It stayed in my mind, all day and all night...


And even now.....

Sometimes,as I "stop to smell the roses" in my day to day hustle bustle, I still hear it play....

Only this time,

It comes from within my own mind....

Friday, October 24, 2008

'Diwali'-the festival of lights

An attempt to remind ourselves of the hopes,dreams and aspirations Diwali brings:

Deepavali, or Diwali, is a major Indian festival, and a significant festival in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. Today it is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs across the globe as the "Festival of Lights," where the lights or lamps signify victory of good over the evil within every human being. The festival is also celebrated by Buddhists of Nepal, particularly the 'Newar 'Buddhists.

According to one theory, Diwali may have originated as a 'harvest' festival, marking the last harvest of the year before winter. In an 'agrarian' society this results in businessmen closing accounts, and beginning a new accounting year. The deity of wealth in Hinduism, Goddess Lakshmi is therefore thanked on this day and everyone prays for a good year ahead. This is the common factor in Diwali celebrations all over the Indian subcontinent.

In many parts of India, it is the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile in the forest.The people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (deepa), thus its name, Deepavali. This word, in due course, became Diwali in Hindi. But, in South Indian languages, the word did not undergo any change, and hence the festival is called Deepavali in southern India. Southern India marks it as the day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.

Diwali is celebrated on the first day of the lunar Kartika month, which comes in the month of October or November.

In Jainism it marks the nirvana of Lord Mahavira, which occurred on October 15, 527 BCE.

The Sikhs celebrate Diwali for a different reason; on this day, the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, was freed from imprisonment along with 52 Hindu Kings (political prisoners) whom he had arranged to be released as well. After his release he went to Darbar Sahib (Golden temple) in the holy city of Amritsar. There, he was greeted by Sikhs and many other people. In their happiness they lit candles and diyas to greet the Guru.

In India, Diwali is now considered to be a National festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.

In each legend, myth and story of Deepawali, lies the significance of the victory of good over evil; and it is with each Deepawali and the lights that illuminate the homes and hearts, that this simple truth finds new reason and hope.

Since baked-mud 'diyas' or 'deeps' are considered more holy and auspicious, they are purchased to light on the Diwali night, particularly before the idols or photographs of gods and goddesses while offering prayers.A Diya is a small earthen lamp that is lit especially at Diwali. They are usually made of clay. Ghee or oil is used as the fuel and cotton wool as the wick.

A Very Happy Diwali to all.........

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Guiding lights..

"Something to do, someone to love and something to hope for".

Very simple and very meaningful- if only all of us could remember to apply this in our day to day lives.

Particularly in moments of despair and sorrow...

And life will get better....

And the sun will rise to a new tommorow...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oman Launch-A Safe Harbour,16/10/08.

Memories are made of these: 16th October 2008

A clear, crisp October mid morning, at the Bait Al Baranda Visitors Centre.An architectural masterpiece of Oman, which had opened it's doors as well as it's heart wide open....

Facing the turquoise blue sea, and ships in the harbour..
Surrounded by friends and well wishers who care...

Along with thoughts, prayers and the wishes of loved ones far away...

Could anyone have ever imagined a more perfect setting for the Oman launch of 'A Safe Harbour'?
I now believe, more than ever before, that "There is a time and a place for everything"..
And that "Things that are meant to be, will be."
Also, that dreams can be achieved...
If only you reach out and make them happen.....
Thank you- all of you, who made it possible, for my dream to be realized....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oman Launch- A Safe Harbour- 16th October 08

Tommorrow, we launch 'A Safe Harbour' in Oman.

Venue- Bait Al Baranda Visitors Centre, Matrah Seaface.

Time-1030 Am.
All proceeds of Book Sales will be towards the NACA, National Association of Cancer Awareness.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Congratulations, Poonam and Manoj-25 Wonderful Years-

10th October, 2008. Marking 25 years and Silver Jubilee Celebrations. Of one of the best couples that I know..

Poonam, a friend for more years than I can count, and one who has been with me through thick and thin...I recall our meeting at the IIMC and bonding- for life....The many hours spent in sharing- anything and everything...Studies, stories,music,outings, shopping,laughter, tears.....

And so much else...The Paneer paranthas, the apples and coffee(?!), heading out to South Ex, and eating Chaat.The innumerable trips to Janpath, for ir-resistable shirts that we didn't really need, but insisted on buying. Movies at Chanakya, followed by lunch at Nirulas...

Laughing at silly jokes, and not being able to stop. Then stopping and starting all over again...

Meeting Manoj for the first time, and knowing that you both were "Made for each other"...Then, now and forever....And knowing that you knew that I did...

And then,your marriage. This day 25 years ago..Probably the earliest amongst all of us(??)

Your Home in Sarvapriya Vihar, which I still consider to be "Almost home...."

Aditi and Madhav, two smart and loving kids.The best that one could hope for.

We wish you well, now and always. And wish that we could have been there....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Muscat Corniche-the backdrop for 'A Safe Harbour'

Shades of difference-Times in a day....

'And quiet flows" ....the Arabian sea...

As night follows day....

Monday, October 6, 2008

'Telepathy' and how it works

Say, I've been thinking of my mother who lives in Delhi all day, and want to talk to her...But life gets in the way, and the moment passes...But then later in the evening, the feeling comes back, it is stronger.... and I decide that I will.

I reach out for the phone, and it starts to ring- the receiver is in my hand....

And my mother is on the phone! 'Telepathy.'......

This has happened not just once , but at least a hundred times, in the last few months, and vice versa. But this needs a very strong bond, and the key is understanding each others minds..

Telepathy, is also observed in other cases- such as best friends, siblings, lovers, and those who've been together in moments of severe stress or trauma.

Telepathy" is derived from the Greek terms tele ("distant") and pathe ("occurrence" or "feeling"). The term was coined in 1882 by the French psychical researcher Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR).Myers thought his term descrbed the phenomenon better than previous used terms such as the French "communication de pensees," "thought-transference," and "thought-reading."

And as someone said recently, "If only there was a way to send messages by 'thought transference', "wouldn't that make for the most expressive and quickest means of communication...... and how very effective it could be...

Friday, October 3, 2008


A brisk, barefoot walk by the seaside, the waves reaching out and lapping at one's feet.Pretty pink and multi-coloured shells that ir-resistably beckon,the real scents of the surf, and the sand, and the setting the sun, one's companion.

Then, sitting by the seaside,munching popcorn and sipping steaming hot, cardamaom flavoured tea, with plenty of time to spare...

'Cappucino and brownies' at Starbucks-with friends who matter...and talking the next hour/two/three away...On just about anything and everything...The getting another cup or two and starting all over again...

Listening to someone who needs to talk, and letting them take their time. For who knows, when they might get such an opportunity again?
Never mind, if you can't come up with immediate answers, or magic solutions. Because every once in a while, even you might come upon situations that defy conventional wisdom or logic.

Your eyes meeting those of a stranger in a crowd, only to feel an 'Instant connection'...And understanding that you have reached out to him/her in that brief instant, and possibly given them the re-assurance that all is not lost.
That tommorrow is another day, and that things will be better...

And the satisfaction of knowing that he/she has received your unspoken message.

Giving away that Chinese jacket, along with so many other 'new' clothes that you haven't worn in the last three years to the Thrift shop.
Knowing that finally someone else will be able to wear/use what you thought you would, maybe next month, next year... and never did.

Having a quiet dinner with your companion,where 'spoken communication' ceases to be important. Instead,letting your eyes/mind do the talking, "For in silence, lie the joys of real communication."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Rock on"- All about Life's "Second chances'

Many times, and particularly in some lonely, low moments it appears that life has passed us by.
There were so many things that one may have wanted to do- one's first chocies in life-be it - painting, photography, music.....

Yet one ended up in an office, doing a job that was done for the sake of being done.....
Call it "necessity", or call it "the path that one chose, after giving up on one's dream."

Well here's a movie that shows all of us, that life does give us 'Second chances'. Also that this Second chance should not be allowed to pass us by..

Heart-warming, touching, nostalgic, and echoing with a sense of 'deja vu' that most of us will easily identify with, this is a movie that deserves a special mention for the path that is shows all of us in our thirties and forties...

A group of four friends who once shared a passion for music, break up due to a set of unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances. The path that life leads them on , and how this impacts their lives and closest relationships, is what forms the crux of the film."Of living only half a life",

........When they could have had a "full life"...

That and the music...
Music that reaches out and envelops you, in so many, many ways that are difficult to define.....
Particularly, the number sung originally by Arjun Rampal's character and then later rendered by Farhan Akhtar at the end.

For all those who still haven't seen it, this is a movie that needs to be seen.

If only to wake you up/shake you out of that "half life" that you've been living.

Thinking that it's the real deal.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Making things possible"..Vs. "Que Sera Sera"

A subject that has been the subject of much debate, and will continue to be so...Possibly with no right or wrong answer....

The more simplistic view to take would be the one which concludes- 'Que Sera Sera' and leave it to chance/fate/destiny....or whatever....And yes, it does have it's merits, for as we all know, human endurance can be stretched only that much, and then let things take shape as they were "meant to be"...

But recently, there has been much talk about 'The Secret' the bestselling book by first time author, Rhonda Bryne." The Secret reveals the most powerful law in the universe. The knowledge of this law has run like a golden thread through the lives and the teachings of all the prophets, seers, sages and saviors in the world's history, and through the lives of all truly great men and women.

"Without exception, every human being has the ability to transform any weakness or suffering into strength, power, perfect peace, health, and abundance. "

My take is very simple-

Do what you have to. And do it as best as you can.
And even if you fail, try it again.
For if you never ever tried, you'd never get anywhere.
And even if you got 'some-place', it was further than where you were earlier.............

Friday, September 26, 2008

Between Nakhal and Rustaq- Ruins that fascinate and intrigue…..

Have you ever come across a place that fascinates and intrigues you? Im-measurably?

Enough for you to recapitulate and wonder about it...... many, many days after you saw it?

It’s happened to me. Fairly recently, at that……

It was on our return journey from Nakhal and we were thrilled with our successful day trip. And even though, we weren't really focusing on the surrounding areas, our attention was suddenly drawn to something on the other side of the road.

From a distance, it appeared to be a small castle, or a fort, but to our certain knowledge there wasn’t anything documented on this stretch of the road. Rising out of the flat stretch of land, and on what appeared to be a hillock was this very intriguing structure in hues of grey and fawn, and if one's imagination could be stretched a tad bit, then it was almost like looking at Roman ruins Almost as of it's own volition, all of us had the very same thought, “We must check this out.”

Taking the very next round-about, we came back to where we had first spotted it and realized that it was actually much further than what we’d first thought. Also that we’d have to drive off the main road and onto the dirt track, which would take us close to this place. The very next moments found us being bumped and shaken as our tough four wheel drive took us closer and closer towards this fascinating monument.

Alighting, we found ourself just off a small village, where giggling little children watched us shyly- albeit from a safe distance. With small flat houses and trees dotting the scenery, we walked towards it, getting more and more excited with each step.

“Seeing is believing” – you only need to look at the accompanying photographs, to feel something of what we did.

But the thought that we couldn’t suppress, why was this place allowed to go to rack and ruin?
And what can we do about it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The things that matter- Moments in a day

What are the really important things in life?

I'm fairly sure that each of us has a different answer and a different perception.

Making money, lots and lots of it?

Many would put this on top of their list of priorities

Family time, personal time, time for recreation, time to just 'be'...the list can go on and on..

Temporary frustrations or roadblocks can make people look at their priorities differently at different points in time. And so their list will undergo a metamorphosis, and come back on track, perhaps..

Who can really tell?

But there is a simpler way to look at the moments in a day..

I quote Saleh Al Shaibany"In the end, it's the routine that matters, no matter how much we hate it.Lets make the most of our day. You may be tied up in a meeting , but can still step out for a few seconds to send a text message to someone whose day you will brighten up.

Just take care of the moments of the day, and the rest of the day will take care of you when you close the blinds for the night."

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Safe Harbour-Aafreen

"She could hear the Raagis melodiously singing the Kirtans as
she walked up. The whole atmosphere was wonderfully calm and
soothing, yet, so very stirring, that it brought tears to her eyes.
Tears of happiness that she was here. She knew that most people
only remembered God and visited temples and mosques and
churches when they were in need of something.

Sometimes, when they remembered to thank him for the
wonderful blessings that he had showered upon them.
Like the vast majority of people, she too was guilty of the same
sin, that of omission. But that was the frailty of all human beings.
No one could possibly be all things for all seasons or reasons, and
as she had grown older, she had learnt to be more comfortable in
her own skin.

Or was that simply called maturing?

Covering her head and then taking the karha prashad and
paying obeisance to the Guru Granth Sahib, she walked over to a
corner, and sat down. Closing her eyes, she focused completely on
her inner space. This whole experience was wonderfully energizing,
and to her, it felt even better than actual meditation. In her thought
process at this point, there was nothing and no one around her,
just the sound of the hymns, her breathing, and the feel of a higher
power and its presence."

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Where does one draw the line?
How much is ever enough?

A very difficult dilemma, and one that varies from person to person..

And more importantly, from time to time............

Or then again, at different points in time...
For those who didn't "aspire to achieve" never went places.
Or those who tried too hard, didn't reach far enough..

Yet even for those who "run as they go along", sometimes it's almost as if the Goal post seems to have moved further and then..... further away...

But if you never "tried" you would never really know, now would you??

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Approaching Autumn

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a lustre in it's sky.
Which through the summer is not heard or seen.
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!"

Percy Bysshe Shelley.

And who would not agree?

Autumn- When summer leaves us, and we approach the year's end.

When the leaves on the trees start changing colour, and there is that very slight nip in the air...Or did we imagine it?

When sunsets become even more beautiful, and makes us want to watch them just that much longer....

When we start debating, do we need to delve into our wardrobe, again...for could winter be far behind?

When Caramel Machiatto with cinammon scones is just ir-resistable....

When festivities abound..... wherever you may be in the world.

When every photograph you take has just that "teensy weensy" sharper edge.

And finally....

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
George Eliot

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kalimpong- 'Singhmari' and the Kanchejunga

Moments that stay in one's memory: the first glimpse of a wonderful mountain peak...the first look at your 'just born' child, the first sight of a loved one, in a long, long time...the first sight of the wide open expanse of sea.....

And one such, is the memory of the time that we went to Kalimpong, shortly after we were married. Booked to stay at the wonderful cottage 'Singhmari' run by West Bengal Tourism, all that we had been told was -we could expect to find a place of extraordinary beauty.

It was a late on a cold November evening when we arrived, and there was a warm glow around this wonderful cottage, (which I relly felt, welcomed us), as did the care-taker....A quick dinner, and bed..

Next morning as we awoke, we drew back the curtains, which opened out to a big Bay window...
And gasped sheer disbelief.

For what was facing us was a sight of incomparable beauty. We could see the entire range of snow capped mountains.In in the centre of which, proudly stood the Kanchejunga mountain, in all it's all gold, red and white resplendant and breathtaking beauty.....

A moment that forever stands out in my memory.....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Terror- A Nameless, faceless entity

New Delhi 13th October 08-Saturday evening.....

The week-end, when families head out for an evening of fun and frolic.To put the travails of the working week behind them and get a well deseved break.

And then in the most unexpected way, terror strikes, catching them unwares. A bomb blast and then one more.....a series of them....

A wife dead, a brother dying, and a daughter lying bleeding on the ground.Combined with the sounds of sheer panic and pandemonium.Sirens of ambulances covered up by those of people running in fear, not knowing what would hit them next ....or from where?

...Such were the gut wrenching images that we saw late at night on our TV screens , broadcast all over the world..

Scenes that left us numbed by the realization that 'Terror' had struck again.An insidious, nameless, faceless entity.

The final thought -When and where would it strike next?

Friday, September 12, 2008


"If music be food for the soul...... Play on...."
As someone famously said. Or words to that effect. Makes complete sense to me.

When the mind need to rest, play on...To soothe and to calm, "Play on"....

What comes to mind, is an unforgettable vignette, a scene from Shashi Kapoor's movie, 'Kalyug'.
Loosely based on the 'Mahabharata', the movie was one of its kind and brilliantly directed by Shyam Benegal.

There's this particular moment when Shashi Kapoors character 'Karan' discovers that he's the illegitimate son of the Matriarch of the family that he's vowed to destroy.To do that, he's set an un-stoppable and irreversible chain of events in motion. And then the moment when his mother reveals the truth to him. And his reaction..

Coming home, he shuts all doors and windows, puts on a particular piece of intrumental music-violin (?), curls up into a foetal position on his bed, where he the camera zooms in, closer, and then pulls back, to give us an aerial shot. Simply heart-wrenching, and incomparable.

Something similar appealed to me in 'Junoon', also produced by Shashi Kapoor and directed by Shyam Benegal. The very last scene, when the main protagonist, gallops like a madman, just to have a glimpse of the woman that he's passionately loved, a Britisher, played by Nafisa Ali and is now events of the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857.

That particular moment, their great unspoken, mutual love and then his turning away-
Accompanied by music that tears at one's heartstrings ...

Music, really does say it all....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Safe Harbour -Trishala

"Life was strange", she mused, as she walked, faster and then, even
faster. "You were up one day and then down … the very next."

Coming to her favourite resting spot, she stopped. This was
the bench she sometimes rested on, admiring the view. Sitting
down she realized that her heart was pumping furiously. But the
walk had done her good.

The sun had come up and the morning was a clear, serene one.
From where she sat, she could view the sea, a lovely aquamarine
blue. Calm, unhurried, the waves gently lapping at the beach.

Looking towards the sea and the view she loved so well, she resolved
that she would do everything in her power to ensure that her
children got what they had come looking for.

A happy, warm, loving family reunion..................

................Looking around later, Trishala thought that these were really the
simple, everyday joys of life; watching one’s family enjoy a lovingly
thought-through and prepared meal. Sitting around a table together,
laughing, chatting, pulling each others’ legs. ..........................

................She also realized that she had changed as she grew older.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ageing=Growing more comfortable in your own skin?

Applies to most of us.....
Or then again, does it?

When things like the dinner party that you host must be 'Just so 'cease to matter.
After all Friends and bonhomie are what make or break the event.Not so much, the crystal, the pate or the liquers.

When every piece of clothing that you wear need'nt be perfectly matched or accesorized.Because even that good old Tshirt at the back ofyour closet will do!

When a little bit of dust collecting on your mantelpiece fails to make your blood pressure rise. After all, tommorrow is another day.

When a simple, soup, bread and cheese meal will suffice for dinner.
Without laying out the fancy set of china .....

When you can decide who you want to meet,on a particular day, or not.
Without feeling guilty or apologetic about it.

When you dont really care if you're caught without your face on. By your next door neighbour.

Ha, but that really needs maturity!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Random thoughts-Friendships

I wonder sometimes- It's strange how friendships evolve, develop, bloom and then stay..

Of course, there are those friendships that are developed right from the time that one starts school, and if one's lucky to stay in a place for a few years, then one has the opportunity of making a more lasting, and possibly deeper bond.

New school.New friends......

Some that pass like ships in the night. Some that light up your days, and make life so much more pleasurable.

And then college. When there is so much more to share..Studies, games,hobbies, love, laughter, fun and tears.

Becoming a mother- and in dire need of bonding- from others in the same situation. Crying babies, dirty nappies, sleepless nights.

As well as the immense joys of motherhood. 

The first smile, the first word, the first.......

It's only friends who would know, possibly even more so.

More to follow...