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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Approaching a new decade-2010

For my last Blogpost of the year, I decided to just focus on all the postives that have been and will be.
The very fact that we are still here on this earth.Healthy, happy and with things to look forward to. For this is much more than so many millions in this world have.

To use a cliche, we tend to focus a great deal on the past as well as the future. In the bargain, we tend to forget the joys of our day to day life, our present.

So shall we make a new beginning, if that is what is called for?
Yet keeping our sights firmly on what we planned to do, but couldn't till now...
And do it in the best way that we can

Wishing all a very Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and a brand new Decade

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Random thoughts on approaching the New Year- Part 1

As  a  year draws to a close, its normal to randomly run through what that particular year has meant to us.
Or at the very least, think of some ways in which we have changed/moved on/done something different /Or then not?

Some of my random, top of mind thoughts:

1.We thought that the global recession which hit very suddenly and very hard,  was thankfully, on its way out. Then Dubai happened.
And we suddenly began to think otherwise.

2. More recently, the Ruchika Girhotra case has surfaced. Something that had been hidden from the public eye for 19 years,has come out and how.Shaming all those who did nothing about it for so long as well as anyone who is a parent. Or then, anyone at all.
'Justice for Ruchika' is now the new Mantra.

3. Some great movies were released and watched  My personal favourites, 'Paa', 'Avatar', and 'Three Idiots'. To an extent even a different one like 'Rocket Singh'.

4. Micheal Jackson passed away. Despite everything that relates to his personal life, this was a loss to world music and the great potential that he still had.I will miss him.

More musings to follow in my next post....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Muscat Corniche and The Arabian Sea

Some days I write my blog for the express purpose of delighting in the photographs that I've taken, and today is definitely one such day.
After finishing my  planned agenda for the morning and particularly because it was such a wonderful day, I headed towards the Muscat Corniche where one gets an awesome view of the Arabian sea.
And this is what I came upon. 
Such beauty needed compelled me to capture it, so here they are. Pics for all to delight in.....
Because such wonderful mornings don't come by very often...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Great Indian wedding

Indian weddings are great fun  because of all that is entailed.

They are even more so, when they are held outside India.As is the case these days, when a daughter of one of our friends is getting married here.

A time to enjoy the great weather as well as all the festivities associated with the occassion.

For all those who are not familiar with the ceremonies, here's my chance to enlighten you.Irrrespective of whether a match is arranged/of the couple's  own choice, there are certain set events that take place.

The first one of course is the 'Engagement',when the match is treated as confirmed.Rings are exchanged to mark this day.After the Engagement ceremony,follows the Mehendi.( Henna ) It is  believed that the color of the Mehendi signifies the essence of love in a marriage, so it is put on bride's hand to strengthen that bond of love. The bride's family and friends mainly celebrate this ceremony, while henna is put on their hands and feet, accompanied by singing and dancing.

'Pithi' or 'Haldi', the cleansing ceremony is usually on the day just before the main marriage,when the bridal couple are pasted with turmeric powder in their respective homes, as a part of their beautification process.

And then comes the main event, the Marriage itself.The procedure for this varies, depending of course on the particular part of India one comes from.
One of the most significant rituals the bride and the groom perform is the 'Saptapadi' or the 'Saat phere' around a scared fire. It is also during this time that the groom fills 'Sindoor' in the center parting of the bride and puts a 'Mangalsutra' around her neck.
And so they are married.All that remains is the Wedding reception, usually held on the next day, and with that life assumes a whole new way.One in which the couple, as well as their respective families are bonded together.
Considering what we have seen in the last couple of days and which will continue, all I can say is that there really is no other wedding that can rival the 'Great Indian wedding'

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Justice for Ruchika.

Yesterday , after a long gap of nineteen years, the molester of 14 year Ruchika Gehrotra, former Director General of Police SPS Rathore  was punished by a court.

His punishment,  a jail term of 6 months a fine of Rs. 1000 and simultaneously granted a bail to appeal.

The event-In 1990, then IG of Police and president of tennis Association of State of Haryana, SPS Rathore, called up a budding tennis player, a 14 year old girl to his office and openly molested her. She complained, and luckily there was an eye witness( Anand Prakash's daughter), but that was when the ordeal of her  life started.

What followed was far worse, as her brother was harrased to the point when she just could not deal with it any more. For a start, he older brother was arrested on false charges of car theft and  tortured, while he was custody.

The poor girl herself was expelled from her school for reasons unknown,  her father was harassed by his  bank managers.And the icing on the cake..Goondas descended upon the house  and threatened her mother

So Ruchika's ordeal which started that day,  only finished for her three years later after her suicide...because she could not deal with it any more.

The government declared the file closed, seven days thereafter....

Anand Prakash, fought the case on behalf of his daughter's best friend, despite all that he had to face, and continued..... despite all the odds. He said that he did it so that minor girls in India could have a safe future, and knows that the DIG was protected by people art various levels. Not only that, the accused was consistently promoted, and given an honourable pension when he retired.

So what can be done for Ruchika? How can we get her justice?

Here's where the campaign 'Justice for Ruchika' comes in.

Like me, I am confident that all Indians and people who care will take it to its logical conclusion.

We saw it in Jessica Lal's case. Let us see it in 'Justice for Ruchika'.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A picture can say a thousand words

Since a picture can say a thousand words, Im going to use both of these to try and illustrate the point. These are both taken in about the same spot, of course at different times of the day,
The one taken  at approaching dusk gives one the feeling of things 'yet to happen', and looking through the windows of the rooms one can try and think of what might be going on inside the hotel.
Let your imagination run riot and explore the myriad possibilities.

The second one which I took one late night at low tide, is the more interesting one. The day is done, but then the night is still young.
And life goes on, particularly inside  a hotel which runs 24 hours.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Random thoughts on the rain and coffee

1.Its been three wet and rainy days here in  Muscat, and from what it looks like, this is likely to continue for a few more.
Day 1 was fun, because of the novelty, Day 2 was tolerable and yesterday felt a bit of a drag...

The other more worrisome aspect is the very real fact of the 'wadis' rising upto a point when they then become flash floods and wash away everything that comes in their way, including cars, buses, debris and a whole lot more.

I'm aware  that there have been a number of deaths in these three days, some of which were distinctly preventable. If only people had listened to the warning sent out by the Authotries asking them not to venture anywhere near them.

But what seems actually ridiculous is when people actually come to gape at the swollen wadi, as if its some kind of a tourist spot and then stand as close as possible, clicking photographs.

When will they ever learn??

2. Coffee- Where there is a will, there really has to be  a way.
I have got over the coffeee withdrawal symptoms and actually managed two weeks w/o my favourite beverage.

One of life's lessons learnt..there is nothing that one can't do without.
If there really is that great desire to accomplish it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Real life heroes- Donating a kidney

I didn't know of anyone who had donated a kidney till two days ago.
But now I do and consider him to be a true hero.
Someone who took a decision to donate his kidney to save his cousin brother's life....

The decision to donate can never be easy for anyone and so it must have been for him as well.

But its probably when one sees a close family member who has End Stage Renal Disease(ESRD) and will not be able to live much longer without a new kidney,  it pretty much must be a real reason in changing an individual's perspective.

A whole lot of soul searching and discussions with Doctors and close family members are entailed when it comes to taking the final decision.Donors need to be should be in good physical condition and between the ages of 18-70.

While it is true that one can lead a normal , healthy lifestyle with only one kidney, the risks associated with a kidney donataion are  much the same as those involving any major surgery--viz, the bleeding and the risk of infection. Yet in today's world, the option to the old fashioned way of surgery is that of laparoscopic surgery.

And while our friend recuperates in  tne hospital for the next few days, we can only and wish him all the very best.Along with applauding  him for his decision and the courage  that it must have taken..

Monday, December 7, 2009

Climate change and what it really entails

About four years ago, I happened to see a movie called 'The Day After tommorrow, starring Dennis Quaid.It stayed in my mind because it was a tecnically very well made film and its special effects excellent.

But even more than that, it stayed in my mind because of what it portrayed...a world which changes completely because of the effects of climate change and the havoc that can be wreaked on all those who somehow manage to survive.

Then last week I saw '2012', another movie with the same theme, only this one one seemed much more real.

The reason for that is not too difficult to look for, as a whole lot has been said and done on Climate change during this period.Not the least by Al Gore and his team winning the Nobel Prize for their pathbreaking work on this.

Now over a 100 world leaders have gathered at Copenhagen where they hope to look for some real and lasting solutions.So that the next few generations could have a future.

According to Ban Ki Moon, of the UN, "The objective of the Summmit on climate change is to mobilize the political will and vision needed to reach an ambitious and agreed outcome based on Science at the UN Climate talks in Copenhagen."

Today, the  issues at stake are very critical and the success or failure will depend on economics, and not environmental science.This also entails things like moving away from carbon based energy sources that one has depended on for a long time.

Countries like the US, Canada and India, will have to stringently monitor their oil and manufacturing industries and this is bound to have major potential economic and political causes of imposing stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions-most notably for their coal, oil and manufacturing industries.

All that is for governments and countries to deal with, but on a more personal level- What exactly are we doing about this?

Let us all really take a deep look at what our own way of life and living is all about and make a conscious resolution.

Simply that we too will do our bit..
Because every drop makes an ocean, and hopefully tommorrow will still be another day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Life without coffee

Day 6 and counting.
For those are the number of days that I’ve managed life without coffee.

Reason- Coffee does not go well with the Homeopathic medicines that I’m currently having.

For someone whose day had been structured around the number of cups of coffee in a day, life is not easy, giving up that same basic premise.

Then of course, there are the very real withdrawal symptoms.
The headaches, the loss of concentration, not feeling like my usual composed self, et all.

Along with dealing with the fact of having to avoid all my ‘associations’ with coffee. Because these are the very real triggers that just might make me crumble.

Such as not going anywhere near Starbucks, Darcy’s, Costa. Simply because even the slightest whiff of that delightful fragrance of coffee that seems to floating come out of the open doors, tempting even a non coffee drinker, might just do me in.

I’ve also tried very hard to fill up that vacuum with a range of other hot beverages that might possibly substitute for the real thing- hot milk, a range of teas, or even cocoa, but nothing seems to do the trick …

Yet, I doggedly persist, for I know that the first few days are usually the hardest and that if I was to cave in now, I might not be able to do it ,yet again.

And suddenly realize that I have a whole new found respect for all those people who’ve ever battled with other issues such as quitting smoking…or then alcohol…

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dubai -The debacle and the foreseeable future.

The crisis struck Dubai on Wednesday, the 25th of November. On the eve of Eid religious festival, the Dubai government announced that one of its main investment vehicles, 'Dubai World', could not pay its bills, a staggering 80 Billion debt .

Something that sent shock waves like a ripple effect and ones that are still reverberting all around the world, as people grapple with the very many and possibly catastrophic consequences that this would entail for many people directly as well as indirectly conceerned.

Things looked very bad indeed, until just a few hours ago, when Abu Dhabi has belatedly chosen to step in and announce that it would aid Dubai as much as was possible, having shed its earlier very obvious reluctanace in that tersely worded statement which had read as "on a case to case" basis.

Today, the real problem, as shocked investors see it, is that this is as a government at risk of bankruptcy, not merely a corporation.The city state that had grown too fast for its own good, is finally at the cross roads.One from where it must either swim or at the very possible 'worst case' scenario, sink.

The writing was finally on the wall, and most of us who have visited Dubai in the last few years had anticipated this, but not in the kind of very large magnitude that has now been officially announced.Realistically, if we take a brief moment to analyze it, much of Dubai World’s problems can be traced to its property subsidiary, Nakheel, the company that had branded Dubai as a glitzy, 'architectural free-for-all'. It owns, among other things, three Palm-like islands and a group of 300 islands shaped like a map of the world.

That very same Palm Deira, one of the world’s largest man-made islands, now seems a sad abandoned project, which is what I can personally testify to. On a fairly recent flight to Istanbul, when we flew directly overhaed, it was clearly visible... half-built, disconnected from the land and looking grey and redundant.

This however, is not the only project that has suffered. The construction frenzy, fuelled by the biggest surge in oil prices in a generation, has pretty much come to ground to a complete halt, with machines and bulldozers lying exactly as the companies and workers have left them to rot..

By last week, Nakheel was on the brink of collapse, with a $3.5 billion bond due to mature on December 14. Bondholders now clearly fear the worst.
The emirate’s difficulties are not confined to Nakheel, however. Unless Dubai’s debt problems can be solved, it could be forced to offload many of its huge investments in a fire sale.

Like the leveraged companies that are being exposed by the recession, Dubai had borrowed beyond its means to fund its building boom
.Then gone manay steps ahead and decided to buy up what were considered to be great future investments. This portfolio consists of what were at the time of their purchase, considered to be plum assets. The Turnberry golf course in South Ayrshire and paid £50m for the QE2 liner. In addition to luxury hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental in New York.And what else, that is not in the public domain?

Then followed the pink slips and job losses, topping all that had already been said and done, people home for their holidays now simply being sent text messages told that they are now not required to come back, so would they just please just stay back in Trivandrum, Chennai, Mumbai, or wherever they were.

The next few months, particularly December will see the direction that Dubai is headed in. But for those other nations that watch from the sidelines, there is a very great learning.

A bubble which grows too fast, will burst...sometimes sooner...or sometimes later...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Sukhoi Fighter jet and President Pratibha Patil

It truly was an amazing feat of well as some amount of courage.When the President of India, Pratibha Patil(74) donned a G suit and got into the cockpit of the Sukhoi fighter jet earlier today.

Then stayed in the cockpit for a full 35 minutes, while the plane completed the circuit that had been planned for her.

Talk of wishes coming true...
It appears that this had been a fervent desire of the President to do this day..some day...

And for which she meticulously went through the tough preparatory regime that was demanded of her, prior to boarding this particular aircraft..

As for me, I watched her on my television screen, fascinated.
For a lady, way older than me...
Did what she had wanted to...


And heard the words ringing in my ears.
"Where there is a will
There really is a way

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Approaching 26/11....

As we approach 26/11, it's difficult not to remember the horror and carnage of those two whole days and nights in Mumbai.

And try as we all might not to,the mind goes back to the horrific sights of people being gunned down 'at random' at railway stations.
Then at the Taj as well as the Oberoi hotels....

We also recall the courage and bravery of the many, many officers and men on duty who gave up their lives, just so many, many others could live on.

As also, the General Manager at the Taj, (?)who lost his wife and children in the fire that raged after the bombings and still stayed on duty.
Just so that he could ensure that the others got away.

Today, as the trial progresses, and India is trying so hard to ensure that Ajmal Kasab, the sole remaining gunman is convicted of his self confessed crime, we can only hope that this sort of an attack is a thing of the past.

Also, that better sense will dawn on the perpetrators of similar crimes.

Then can't help but recall that we now have a David Headley a.k.a Dawood, who was planning something which could have been far more terrible.

And God alone knows, how many others like him...?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Inside the mind of a terrorist

What is it that really makes a terrorist out of a normal human being?
Is it something that happens in just that one moment, or then over a period of time...systematic indoctrination?

Questions, questions, questions .. ...with no clear answer.
Each person would have a different take on this, even those same people who we might choose to term 'terrorists.'

For the very simple reason that what is right to someone may be very wrong to a whole lot of others.

For you see, it's all really in the mind.

Imagine a small boy who saw his entire family gunned down by enemy soldiers, while he played dead.
Instinctively knowing that was the only way to live.

Then going straight to the nearest camp, where he is fed,sheltered, clothed and then over a period of time, taught to be a 'human bomb,'

Ensuring that he does what he believes is right.
Even if it means, becoming that same human bomb that he has trained so hard and so long for.

Makes me pause enough to wonder, who do we blame?
And far more importantly, what can we do?

Individually, collectively, or then, as nations....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More on "Things that matter"

Coming home at the end of a long and tiring day and going straight to the kitchen to fix a cup of tea.Or coffee as the case might be.
Which then is "just so!"

Curling up in bed with a great book, (one that you've been meaning to read for ever so long)
And then a day or two later, actually managing to complete it!

Calling up a friend after two weeks, or two months...
And picking up the conversation from the exact place that you left off..

Seeing a person who looks like he/she is lonely and just smiling at them.
Followed by the sheer satisfaction of watching their face light up...

In one's inexplicably 'suddenly sad'/lonely moments recalling an incident that made you happy.
Or more importantly, remembering someone who was important to you. Even if you are no longer in touch with them...

Eating that whole bar of chocolate that you've wanted to.For the last whole month.
For once, not really concerned about the calories..

More thoughts.... as they evolve

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sheer coincidence or 'Divine intervention'?

Say you decide to take the Shatabdi Express from New Delhi station to Chandigarh...something that you've done at least a hundred times earlier.

But this time, there's a real difference.

For just after youve boarded the train and reach out for your wallet to pay the Coolie, you disover that you've been pickpocketed...

Far more important than the money you've lost are your ID cards, particularly those related to Health and Insurance, which might take upto six months be re-made.

But then you console yourself...and finlly shrugging your shoulders, you tell yourself that it could have been far worse.

And then you carry on with your way of life and living.

Exactly two days later, your front door bell rings and standing there, are three young schoolboys. After having introduced themselves, they hand over your wallet...which is now much lighter, but still has ALL YOUR 6 ID cards.

Looking at your open mouthed surprise, they decide to enlighten you.

They were on a school trip to Delhi ZOO and saw this wallet thrown in a bin just ahead of the monkey's cages.

So they did simply what they thought they must..
And brought it back to you.

Now this would be a story that I would find hard to believe, but i did.

For it was told to us by my own Father in law, earlier today, who is delighted with this sheer coincidence.

Or I'm left wondering...

Should I re-phrase it as 'Divine intervention'?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The best possible therapy- Develop a hobby

Every Sunday morning, I attend a painting class (Acrylics).

Accompanied by the sound of a Brahms concerto that plays softly in the background, the mind as well as the hands, are busy and happy...

For the two hours that I'm there, along with seven other people, there is this complete sense of contentment. Along with the joy of creating something new.

The exact reasons why hobbies need to be nurtured and encouraged, particularly in the younger generation.

They give us what can be defined as a much needed break fronm the "regular routine-ness of life".Which though in itself is a structured way of living, but sometinmes feels just a "little bit overwhelming".

Thats when we need to step out of our box and look at our other interests-painting, music, photography, bridge, a sport...and a thousand other options.

So that we can return to our day to day operations, recharged, content and with a will to move on further...

And ahead.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The irrationality of 'fear'

Say I'm getting into my car and suddenly this great fear enters my mind.
And try as I might, I'm just not able to shake it off.

For I'm actually convinced that one day, my left leg will be lopped off by another vehicle speeding by...
Leaving me gawking at the stump that is left behind...

Logically my rational mind tells me that's not possible.
But yet that doubt remains..
That little voice that whispers...insidiously...
"What if"?

So this is the classic case..of that irrational fear that all of us have..
Lurking somewhere inside, and one which pops up every now and then

Thats when I decided to get a basic understansding of what fear really is

There are different variations of responses to fear. Fear can be caused by a number of things. It can be paranoia, trauma, phobia, or just plain everyday fear. Different types of emotional relations with pain, worry, fright, terror, and panic can also be what cause fear.

There are several factors that can trigger fear such as spiders, cockroaches, violence, crime, failure, war, heights, and terrorist attacks.

But the wisest thing would be to learn to deal with that fear.
Or it really can take away one's peace of mind..

Creeping up as it is sometimes wont to do..
At the oddest moments, when one is least expecting it..

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The "Sandwich generation"

It's amazing when someone else puts your thoughts into such precise words. Such as what happened with me earlier this evening

While going out together, a friend of mine simply remarked that we really were the 'Sandwich generation'...between our parents on the one side and our children on the other.Needing to make sure that both of them are doing well.(enough?)

But that is really something that is sometimes, easier said, rather than done.For we may be far away from both of them....

Yet as I thought about what she had said, there came another realization, shortly thereafter.Also one that I'd discussed with another friend just a couple of days ago.

Someone else did the same thing a few years back and then some years later, our children will be doing the same thing too.

And so ...yet has always been,the Circle of life will go on and on....

Only difference being that that we will be in a different place at a different point in that time

Friday, November 6, 2009

A truly memorable evening- Mamata Shankar and troupe enthrall

They came, they performed and they conquered.

Such was the feeling in the minds and faces of the six hundred strong audience which watched the performance of veteran dancer Mamata Shankar and her troupe of twenty performers at the Oman Auditorium of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel on Thursday night.

Having come in to Muscat under the auspices of the Bengal Engineering and Science University, presently known as BESU, and managed by Charisma LLC, the dance troupe brought in a vivid portrayal of the best of Indian dance combined with some of the best elements from the West.

The performance was broadly divided in to two parts.

Part One, was a medley of numerous individual dances, such as the one called “Dhitang, Dhitang Bole”, based on a popular Bengali folk song, followed by another one on a more serious note called the ‘Circle of Life’.

A very peppy and happy dance truly reflecting the ‘Joie-de- vivre’ of the life of fishermen and women, followed thereafter, performed by two young and exceptionally talented dancers of the Dance Company.

Part two of the performance, which followed after the Intermission was well worth it’s weight in gold. Titled ‘Amritsaya Putra’, a Dance Drama and fifty minutes long, it was performed by twenty dancers and choreographed by Mamata Shankar herself-a true reflection of the five elements, Fire, space, wind earth and water.

In essence, it indicates that the soul moves in various forms before entering the human body. The world is a stage where a Divine play is on. Various forms of human emotions, like love, lust, greed, jealousy, anger and violence are portrayed through the dance movements.

All in all, a truly memorable evening, and we would like to hope that other similar dance and cultural extravaganzas provide a similar level of sheer delight to music and dance lovers in Muscat.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"He who has health has hope"...

There is this beautiful proverb, which is really very simple.
"He who has health has hope. And he who has hope, has everything"

Good health is something that most of us tend to take for granted when we have it then worry about, when we don't.

But what we forget is that just like Rome was not built in a day, similarly good health in one's middle years is result of all that we have done/not done, eaten, drunk, and so much more..

But habits can be corrected and it is never, ever too late, so this is just a reminder, to myself as well as to all my friends.

And before signing off, here's another one of my favourites.

"So many people spend their health gaining wealth and then have to spend their wealth regaining their health."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NACA Oman, achieves yet another mile-stone

Today I attended the official launch of the Mobile Mammography Unit at the Grand Hyatt hotel.A proud moment indeed.

Looking around, I could sense and feel it very strongly - that feeling of the community having achieved something REAL AND TANGIBLE.Mirrored in every face as well

Successfully launched by the National Association of Cancer Awareness, (NACA)an organization which is spearheaded by Ms. Yuthar Al Rawahy, (the founder President), this Mobile Unit will traverse the length and breadth of the country and provide every woman, (Local and exapatriate alike) in The Sultanate of Oman, the opportunity to have a free mammogram.

This will in turn lead to early detection/prevention of the disease.

The most poignant moment came when Yuthar momentarily, just momentarily, lost her composure and broke down, while thanking her family.In particular, her husband, Dr Al Kharusi, who has stood by and supported her through thick and thin.

Two years ago, when I sat down to write my first novel, A Safe Harbour, I conceptualized a character, Trishala, who battles cancer while living in the Sultanate of Oman and then goes to the NACA to seek moral and emotional support.

That same support, which will now be a permanent reality in the Sultanate of Oman.

Courtesy the NACA and its new Mobile Mammography Unit.( MMU)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Twenty Five years later...31st Oct, 2009

Twenty five years ago, the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi was killed.Shot by her own security guards, those who were supposed to be protecting her, but decided otherwise.

They were two Sikhs who had decided that they wanted to avenge the storming and destruction of so much,inside the Golden temple, Amritsar.

Not even beginning to realize, in their widest dreams, the kind of repercussions that would follow their calculated/miscalculated action.

Hours after that, the storm that would rage for the next many days in Delhi began.When a systematic pogrom to decimate and kill thousands and thousands Sikhs in retaliation was set in motion.

And now, it has been proved without a doubt that the state and administrative machinery in many cases, played a role in making it happen.

Today as I caught a part of a TV programme that tried to understand the "whys and hows" of that day and the days thereafter, I couldnt help but wonder...

If what happened that day could happen in a free and independent India, years after its Independence, what are the chances that it will not happen AGAIN?



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Freedom- at what cost and lessons to re-learn

Sometimes we need to look back at history to appreciate where we really are today.For many a time we are guilty of taking things for granted. Or then treat them casually.

For instance, the fact that we(all Indians)are a free and independent people and that today we can do anything/go anywhere that we may choose to.

Yet this freedom did not come easy, in fact the price was extremely high. Particularly for the many, many tens of thousands of people who lost their lives, fighting for it.

Or then, the equally large number or even more, who were displaced from their homes and hearths and had to move to a completely different area resulting in the creation of two distinct and seperate nations- India and Pakistan.

Today, like manay times in the past, these same two nations are engaged in a war of words. For if India is convinced that Pakistan sends in people to mount terror attacks, Pakistan claims that India is funding the Taleban.
And so it goes on and on...and on. A vicious cycle/circle and one that really has no solution.

Unless those who matter and can make a difference to people's way of thinking can step in and reawaken the sometimes sleeping consciences.

So that we can really look deep inside our hearts and minds and sift the wheat from the chaff.

Because the lessons that we should have learnt from 1947 and Partition really need to be re-looked at.It is only then that we really will be able to awaken to a bright new morrow.

Monday, October 26, 2009


"What on earth are you 'tweeting' for " I'd ask some of my friends who had signed up for it earlier this year.

Simply because I thought that it was a waste of time.

Yet, one day, it happened.
The day when I too bit the bullet.
And now I'm a 'twitterer/tweeter' as well and happy to be one.

Because like in many other things, there really is "a time and a place for everything'.

And so I do what I do.
When I want to.

Even if it is 'finally' being on Twitter!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tears- Of Sadness as well as of Joy

When I was much younger, I'd really wonder.
Particularly when I saw my mother start crying whenever she felt happy...

Thinking to myself, was that the way one was supposed to express happiness?
Yes, it was understandable and even permissible when one was sad or upset about something.

But otherwise.....?

But then we all grow up and become like our mothers.
Or then, sometimes like our fathers.
Which includes some of those characteristics we thought we'd never inherit, or display.

I now find myself constantly surprised,particularly at the ease with which emotions rise upto the surface and roll out as tears.

But these are tears of joy.
Such as when I watch the end of a match, or then a movie with a Happy ending.
More so when it appeared as though either of the two wouldn't be possible.

So this is what I've now wisely concluded.
It really doesn't matter if we let our tears roll out, or even if the world around us sees us crying.

Emotions are what they are.
Resulting in tears of sadness and many a time..
Tears of Joy as well.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Almost like Home

There is a place called 'Home.'And then there are possibly a few other places that feel 'almost' like it..

Where one feels a comfort level, coupled with a sense of calm and security.
Something that envelopes one right from the moment that one steps foot in there.

Like the homes of one's parents, or a few great friends..

Yesterday, I clearly identified one other place that now gives me that same feeling.The Embassy of India in Muscat.

Living as an expatriate in a foreign country, is a different situation from living in one's home country. And however long one has lived there, and however comfortable one might be with life and society in general, one will always expatriate.

Which is why 'its important to have a place where one can go to.
Anytime the need arises, or then even just....

So this is now the place that all Indians living in the Sultanate can feel is 'Almost like home'. Thanks to all who work there and make us feel that way

Monday, October 19, 2009

Slow and steady wins the race

Faster, higher, more.....
Words that come to mind in a flash, more so when we want to reach out and get where we want.

When "getting there" seems to be the only goal in sight.And we want to do everything in our power to achieve it.

But here's the quandry and one where the old story of the hare and the turtle comes back to remind us.
"Slow and steady wins the race."

Simply because Rome was not built in a day and thats the whole truth.

Small steps will get one there.But they have to be consistent and focused, so that when one is half way up the mountain and one can actually look up and see the peak, the exultation of finally getting to the top will really be worth it.

Worth their weight in gold and much, much more.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wishing you a very Happy Diwali

This is a special post. To wish everyone a very Happy Diwali

Diwali is the joyous celebration of the triumph of good over evil. The uniqueness of Diwali is that it harmonizes five varied philosophies, with each day assigned to commemorate a special thought or idea.

According to a legend, which is also taken to be a history of diwali, the world celebrates Deepavali as the day the goddess stopped dancing after her battle with Mahishasura.The festival begins with Dhanteras, which is the celebration of the birth of goddess Lakshmi from the bottomless ocean.

The second day is "Narak Chaturdhashi", which commemmorates the felling of Narakasura by Satyabhama with the help of Indra. This is again another view of history of diwali. Some also believe that the second day is dedicated to Bali the generous king, who returns to his kingdom amidst celebrations.

The most famous legend behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the prince of Ayodhya, Lord Shri Ram Chandra, his defeating Ravana and his return from exile by lighting lamps on this darkest night of the year.

 Lamps which look lovely, and light up everyone's lives....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Happy day and a wonderful drive

Some days are lovely. Like today is.

When the sun shines, just right...

With that tinge of warmth, yet with  a mild nip in the air, heralding the beginning of Autumn.

Making one feel good. About life in general.
Like I did.

Knowing too, that Diwali is right around the next corner.

And then I drove by this lovely, lovely road, the Muscat expressway, with hills on either side.

Stopping  by the side of the road to look at the sea, this being the view that I looked at .

And remembered a long forgotten phrase, "All things bright and beautiful."

Hoping that there would be many more days like this, because these are what can truly be defined as 'happy moments'.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The evolution of Social networks and their undefined potential.

Among the many articles and stories one reads on a daily basis, there are certainly a few that merit a second, or sometimes even a third reading.

As did this story which I would like to highlight.

Harvard Graduate student Erez Leiberman, has propunded an Evolutionary Graph theory which is encouraging people to think about Social networks as an "evolving population."Developed in association with Harvard Mathematics Proffessor, Martin Nowark, who helped lay its foundation, it builds upon the work of previous mathemeticians Paul Erdos, Peter Clifford and Adian Sudbury.

Basically, on networks such as Facebook and Myspace, networks evolve as people influence one another( changing the configuration of the nodes)and also are new friendships are forged and developed.This can give rise to Pro Social behaviours and this is an idea now called 'network reciprocity'

But the fact is that its hard to quantify the influence that people exert.So according to Lieberman, the only way to predict how a social network will evolve is to construct an artificial one and track the flow of ideas within it.What is the likelihood of people 'forwarding' items that they receive on Facebook, for instance?..

So in principle, the idea that we really need to explore is "what is the likelihood of a particular stimulus within a social network leading to a particular response?" asks Leiberman?

If this gets more structured in terms of measurement criteria, he predicts a lot more organized marketing efforts on social networks as well as Systematic influence campaign.

Personally, I tend to agree...this theory could revolutionize the way Advertising and Marketing can be really made to work in 'not so distant' times...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ask Yourself

I have a book which is simply titled 'The Book of Questions" by Gregory Stock.

This book is a great book because it makes me think.

And every now and then, when I feel like putting my 'thinking cap on', I go back to this book.To read it all over again.

So these are the Questions that jumped out at me today and these are also the ones that I will now spend some time pondering over..

1.You discover that your wonderful one year old child is, because of a mix up at the hospital, really not your own.Would you want to exchange the child to try and correct that mistake?

2.For an all expenses paid one week holiday anywhere in the world, would you be willing to kill a beautiful  butterfly by pulling off it's wings?

3.Your house containing everything that you own, catches fire.After saving your loved ones and your pets, you have a chance to safely make a final dash to save any one item.What would that be?

Ask yourself these .. you really may be surprised at what you might uncover...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

At the Crossroads of life.

Say you are at the prime of your life, and all is well with the world....
Your children are doing brilliantly, as is your husband, and you have made a nice way of life and living for yourself...

Then one day you feel an inexplicable, nagging pain in your chest and it gets worse by the hour. Until you can't even breathe...eating, in any case seems to be out of the question.

All the while the doctors suspect one minor illness or the other, (including acidity) and you are made to go through a range of medications..But nothing helps....

Then on one bright morning, you go for a chest X Ray, and the world will never be the same again.For when the report comes out, it's as if one lung just isn't there any more, filled instead with 5 and a half litres of fluid.Which needs to be removed over three painful procedures..

And once that is done, tests are conducted, only to find a malignant tumour in that lung...

I tried, just for a moment to step into my friend's shoes today...but failed...Miserably..

Yet knowing that that she really is at the crossroads of her life, tried my level best to give her the sustenance and encouragement that she needs...

By telling her that in addition to the prescribed treatment,faith and prayer will keep her going, as will the love and care of friends and family.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Some memorable Vignettes from Hindi films

Though there are lots of scenes one can recall from Hindi movies, particularly if one sits down to think, I challenged myself just now, and this is what I've come up fact, as I write...

Choti, Choti Baatein-a very old Hindi film starring Motilal.

The family sits down for dinner, there are three grown up children, a husband and the wife. The table is groaning with food, and it all looks good. The dishes are passed from person to person as the family dives into the food...The father, ie. in this case, the main bread earner, gets each dish last. In most cases, the food has been cleaned out, or something very close to it..

He just goes ahead and eats whats left.
Then at the end of the movie, he simply walks out..
Out of his own home and their lives.....

Vijeyta- Produced by Shashi Kapoor.Rekha and Shshi Kapoor, playing husband and wife in the movie, share a strained relationship, the reasons for which are never really clearly defined.

One day, she simply breaks down dissolving into tears, sobbing and sobbing endlessly.All the while on her husband's chest, while he holds her and tries his level best to comfort her.

Then she simply says, "why is it that sometimes one just feels like crying? Even when there is no explicable reason.?

And in the nexrt scene, she is dead, of a sudden heart attack..while the father and son mourn her death.

Junoon.Again produced by Shashi Kapoor.

Shashi Kapoor, playing a Pathan, loves Nafisa Ali, a British girl at the height of the Indian Mutiny of 1857.
But the real question is, does she love him too?

Well we get to know this at the end of the movie..when he finds her after having galloped on his horse, like a mad man, just to catch a glimpse of her. He finally does reach her home, where she looks up and sees him, and they exchange a look...

One which says it all..

Ad then he turns his horse away and gallops away, fighting those same Britishers in war. He's killed and she remains unmarried till she dies.... at a ripe old age.

I'm sure we can all think of many such scenes in movies, scenes which have impacted us in many ways, but these came to me right away.

More another time

Friday, October 2, 2009

Do I/Don't I ? The mind and it's inherant contradictions

And so here it is again...

Time to leave Delhi and go back home to Muscat..

And there begins the eternal question yet again, quite simply this...Do I /Dont I?

Yet, common sense creeps up, right behind that very thought.
Too much of a good thing perhaps?

Followed immediately by, when is enough ever enough?

Never ending circles, with no clear answer,perhaps?

And I find re-assurance in the fact that we now live in such a global age, and the world now looks so very flat.
Where everything is just a mere 'click' away.

Finally telling myself that this is what being a grown up is all about.
When one has learnt to move on, adapt and then re-adapt..

Whatever be the place or the occassion
Or then, the rhyme or the reason

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Those were the days, my friend

"Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end..." sang the Carpenters and we sang along with them...
For we were young, happy and carefree

And then time passed and we did our responsibilities..
And we lost touch with some of our oldest friends.

Yet life still went on....

Until one day 30 years later, we met again.
And now life has come full circle..
For we can actually sing along with each other
Those were the days my friend

And they've actually never ended..
For we are all the same
Plus fact, lots more..

Monday, September 21, 2009


Milestones are exactly that...moments that matter in life.

Amongst them will be the day(2oth Sep 09) that our daughter Neha, signed her first Bill at her Club, the Delhi Gymkhana...for she is now a Green Card holder..

Takes me back to all those years when as a baby she first learnt to swim in this very DGC pool, then went on to win prizes in various swimming competitions....

Or then when she sat in the Reading room devouring reams of fiction...

Or, eating paneer and chicken the Children's room, while we sat in the main dining room..

Simply because kids couldn't be seen wandering around in the main Clubhouse.

But since time and tide(s)wait for no-one, she is now her very own person.

Even at the DGC .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Aarushi murder case....bizarre twists and turns

A year ago, we mourned the death of Aarushi Talwar, a 14 year old girl who was found murdered in her own bedroom by her mother...

And then the next day, their servant Hemraj was found murdered on their terrace...mind you, not by the cops who had searched the entire house ...but by a neighbour who decided to follow the trail of what appeared to be looking like dried blood trailing down..

After all that has been said and done in this whole year and when all the different cops who have handled the case have given their version of what 'appeared' to have happened..

After her own father has been arrested and released..

After three servants in the neighbourhood have also been arrested and then released...

Now it emerges that her phone has finally been found ...

To what avail?

We will still have to wait, watch and see...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Memory Lane and Facebook

Going down 'Memory Lane' is something that I like to do every now and then as it helps restore my perspectives and balance in life. Thereby helping me in remaining grounded and focused on reality..the way that it had always been.

Today, I have more than such an opportunity, one that has been created by the phenomenon called 'Facebook'. For it has helped me rediscover three of my very oldest, dear friends from Sophia Girls School, Meerut.In the last couple of weeks Pamela, yesterday Vipula and today, Sangeeta, all friends with whom I had completely lost contact with for ages.

Yet right now, I feel as if Im right back to those days...a time when we were all happy, young girls enjoying all that life had to offer.When nothing seemed to be more important than the all encompassing board exams. Yet, somehow we could never think of what possibly lay ahead.

Momentarily, if I were to glance back at the road thus far travelled, I feel a certain sense of vindication. For things have turned out right.

As for the other three, will really know when we sit together in the not so distant future, catching up on life over a cup of coffee.....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

'Sach Ka Saamna'/Moment of truth

This is the second blog post that I'm writing on this programme, and still can't help but wonder...

What really is it that drives the participants to come in front of the television cameras and expose their deepest, darkest secrets to the world?And after much pondering, have finally concluded that it just has to be the prospect of the prize money that is offered to them.

Is that money really worth it, though? Because, as I see it, here's the tradeoff....

For instance in the programme that I just watched, when a man tells the programme host that he's been responsible for conning students who came to study at his so called Acting 'Institute'?

Or then, his wife sits through the programme while he admits to having had an intimate relationship with a colleague?


Can any amount of money in the world be a possible replacement for breaking the trust of those one holds really near and dear?

Therefore is Sach Ka Saamna/Facing the truth really such a good idea?
Or can he/others like him, manage to get across to the other side of this tunnel?

Despite Sach Kaa Saamna?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cellphones in today's world

A recent news report that I just read confirms what I've thought all along...
That a cell phone is probably the most indispensable gadget of all.

Calling mobile phones the "remote control for life", market research firm Synovate's poll said that cell phones are so ubiquitous that by last year(2008)more humans owned one than those who did not

A global survey conducted by this same firm has found that most people can't live without their mobiles, never leave home without them, and if given a choice, would rather lose their wallets.

Here are the statistics to back this up..
Three quarters of the more than 8000 respondents polled online in 11 countries ( Canada, Denmarak, France, Malaysia,the Netherlands, Phillipines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, UK and the UAS)in June 2009 said that they take their phone with them EVERYWHERE, with Russians and Singaporeans being the most attached.

Some two thirds of these respondents go to bed with their phones nearby and can't switch them off, even though they might want to...because they're afraid that they will "miss something.

So here's a statement that is an 'all in one'..
According to Jenny Chang, Synovate's Managing Director in Taiwan,"Mobiles give us safety, security and instant access to information. They are the number one tool of communication for us, sometimes surpassing even face to face communication.They are in fact, the connection to our lives."

And finally, as aptly put by Steve Garton, Synovate's global head of Media"As the mobile becomes more and more an all in one device, many other businesses are facing challenging times..."

Why is it that I tend to agree with all this and more?
Simply because it echoes my own thoughts exactly.

Ref-Cellphones are indispensable, by Miral Fahmy

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Tell me a story.".....a personal recollection

Since people began to communicate with each other, "Tell me a story" has been a request of both children and adults. Like I always did...with my father.

And do so, till today, when just the two of us get a chance to spend time together....

As children, whenever we could manage, my brother and myself would wait him to tell us one of his entralling tales. I don't know what he did, but all his stories, whether based on real life incidents,were absolutely thrilling , taking us into a whole new world, where we could actually almost see and experience all that he used to talk about.

Particularly memorable were his stories about Air Marshal Arjun Singh ( obviously one of my dad's heroes)and some of his daredevil missions in the skies,then of Naval submarines, particularly the INS Vikrant and the things people did on board,of Guru Gobind Singh, Shivaji Maratha, Rani Laxmi bai...

Then of course, there were funny stories too, which consisted of make believe characters and an extended storyline where the four of us as a family would get involved in their lives and adventures. The beauty of these tales were that they could go on and on endlessly, simply becauase there was never really a beginning and an end to these stories.

Keeping both of us enthralled for hours and hours on end, repeatedly begging him, "Pop, one more, one more" which he would always, always, always oblige...

Today, as I'm reminded of those days, I'd like to take this opportunity to say "Thank You Pop, for that's where I really learnt my love of storytelling and now that of writing stories"

I loved your stories then and love them even more...Now..

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Stockholme Syndrome-one that is as intriguing as it is unfortunate

The first time that I heard about it was in 1974, when Patricia Hearst, the heir to a publishing fortune was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, (the SLA.)

What was astonishing was that sometime later, not only did she join the SLA, but actively participated in a bank robbery with them ....only to be caught and gaoled by the authorities-The emaciated, bedraggled human being, a far cry from the sophisticated young woman she had been before her kidnapping..

More recently, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped by a couple for 9 months. Elizabeth repeatedly had the chance to run away or ask for help but did not.Symptomatic yet again...of the Stockholm syndrome, in which she formed emotional bonds with her captors.

So what exactly is the Stockholm syndrome?
Medically, it is defined as "an extraordinary phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to their captor. It is believed to be named after an episode that occurred in Stockholm in August, 1973 when an armed Swedish robber took some bank workers captive, held them for six days and apparently stole their hearts.

Most recently, the world's atention has been turned towards the case of Jaycee Lee Dougard, in the USA the who as an eleven year old girl was kidnapped by Phillip Garrido, a previously convicted sexual offender.

Then she was held by him for over 18 years, while he fathered her two children, now aged 11 and 15 respectively, all the while apparently choosing to work with him in his speciality printing business and appearing to be just like a normal every day person..
(In fact, being introduced to all his clients as his 'daughter' Alissa.)

While she has now been rescued, it is believed that Jaycee will need years and years of counselling to help her recover and come out of this Stockholme Syndrome..

And yet, there lies the frightening possibility that this Syndrome can and will be repeated, somewhere in the world, time and time again..

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nature's beauty and the peace that follows

The human mind is complex, constantly wandering, searching for answers to questions that come into it as easily as they go....

I've learnt to deal with these moments in different ways, but the one that I would genuinely recommend is the one that I've captured here..

That particular moment when the sun is just about to set, like a giant golden red ball, bathing everything around it in it's particularly beautiful hues.

Then slowly, ever so slowly.... tipping right in...

Try it, I guarantee that everyone will feel that same sense of peace and tranquility that I do..
Of course, I'm lucky being able to head towarads the beach and sit here any time of the day or the night that I may choose.

For nature's true beauty is a constant, one can that provide the peace that we are always looking out for..for instance something the the purchase of the most expensive peice of art, or diamonds...or...or...can never even begin to compare to.

Location- Al Shatti Beach, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ramadan Nights in the Gulf

There is something that is so very special about Ramadan nights here in the Gulf, something unique that cuts across all boundaries and nationalities..

So that everyone who lives here is swept away in the evening celebrations, starting with the evening 'Azaan', or the call for prayer, when the devout bow their heads in supplicataion, thanking Allah for the fact that they've been able to go through the day.

Then follows 'Iftaar', the evening meal, which indicates the breaking of the fast, starting with dates and some soup or juice-A time when everyone comes together to 'break bread' in the very real sense, with the satisfaction of one more day concluded.

It is only after this that the things really pick up, with people visiting shops, parks, each others homes or simply just relaxing. For tommorrow is yet another day and this pattern is repeated for the 30 day period leading upto the Eid Al Fitr..

Truly a time for celebration, fun, bonding..and so much else...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rembrandt in Oman- A true milestone in Exhibitions

To bend a phrase, “ They arrived and they conquered.”

Such was the ‘top of mind’ feeling of all the invitees to the Opening of Rembrandt in Oman, as they slowly and almost reverentially walked past the awe-inspiring etchings that had been beautifully showcased and displayed on the specially constructed walls of the Al Afrah Ballroom in the Grand Hyatt.

The first of its kind exhibition in the Middle East and North Africa, showcasing 100 etchings of the world famous 17th century Dutch painter Rembrandt, ( of which 79 are from the Rembrandt House in Holland and 21 from a private collection in Germany) this exhibition was inaugurated by HH Sayyid Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture, at the Al Afrah Ballroom in the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Wednesday evening.

Planned as an ongoing event, this exhibition will remain open to the public for a month, i.e from Aug 20th to Sep 19th and will continue to provide many, many hours of sheer viewing delight to true art lovers and connoisseurs within the Sultanate The exhibition which has been organized by the Al Salmi Library and managed by NPA Events, can be termed as a milestone in art exhibitions in the Sultanate of Oman, not only for the large scale and wide ranging works of one of the worlds most revered renowned artists, but by the very fact that it has actually been possible.

Janrense Boonstra, Director of the Rembrandt House Museum, who was also present on the occasion, explained that “Rembrandt developed the etching technique into an art form in which he could express his own ideas and inventions. One of our goals is to share this work with as many people as possible, and to let them encounter Rembrandt.”

Rembrandt is now thought to be the greatest Dutch painter and also one of the greatest painters of all time. Throughout his career Rembrandt took as his primary subjects the themes of portraiture, landscape and narrative painting.A parallel development may be seen in his skill as a printmaker. In the etchings of his maturity, particularly from the late 1640s onward, the freedom and breadth of his drawings and paintings found expression in the print medium as well. The works encompass a wide range of subject matter and technique, sometimes leaving large areas of white paper to suggest space, at other times employing complex webs of line to produce rich dark tones.

In 1626 Rembrandt produced his first etchings, the wide dissemination of which would largely account for his international fame. In 1629 he completed Judas Repentant, Returning the Pieces of Silver and The Artist in His Studio, works that evidence his interest in the handling of light and variety of paint application, and constitute the first major progress in his development as a painter.

The same awe-inspiring talent which continues to enthrall us more than three centuries later…..

N.B-This is a Feature written for the Times of Oman/Thursday .
All photo credits- Neha Singh

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alls well that ends well...

I now have my hotmail account back with me as of this afternoon.
Almost 72 hours after I lost control of it, while a hacker located somewhere in the world had taken over, running riot, sending out mails to contacts in my address book telling them that I was stranded in the UK and in dire need of money.

The feelings that I'm feeling right now are a mixture of various emotions.

Sheer relief that I have what is rightfully mine, now back with me.
Anger at the person who took over my life and monitored what looked to be my electronic activity for this period..
Some amount of pleasure when I think of how that person has been thwarted in a relatively short period of time.

The realization that what has happened to me can happen to almost anyone, anytime...

Gratitude towards Microsoft, who after doing the necesary verification, albiet at their own time and pace, did realise the enormity of the situation, along with the immense potential damage and provided me with the tools to be able to regain control of my account.

As they say, "All's well that ends well."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When a hacker takes over one's e-mail account

I did wonder sometimes, what it would feel like if such a thing were to happen.But that was really only a thought at the back of my mind.

The morning of the 17th of Aug is one that I wont be able to forget easily, if ever...
For that morning I was unable to access my hotmail id even after numerous log in attempts. What was puzzling initially was that I had checked mail fairly late only the previous night...

Until the reality along with the gravity of the situation hit me like nothing had before.

Someone has taken over my primary e-mail account, one that I had nurtured and built up over 7 years,taking away with it all my contacts, numerous pieces of writing, including the two books that I'm currently working on, photographs and other innumerable invalueable bits of information.

All of these are pretty much irreplaceable...

But that's not where the story ends. For the hacker has sent out mails to all in my contact list telling them that I'm a stranded and in dire need of money in the Uk so would they pl send me 2500 $ to rescue me..

For those who fell for it and responded, he/she has given them details of a Western Union account in London, where he will show my passport as an id proof.

All of this while i continue to appeal to Microsoft to resolve the issue.Trying my very, very best to convince them that my account has indeed been hacked..

56 hrs later...... I'm still grappling..

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Grand Mosque- Muscat

This morning I had the opportunity to re-visit the Grand Mosque, the most magnificient work of architecture in the Sultanate of Oman. And like all the other times before this, I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder at how very beautifully this mosque has been designed and developed.

Work began on the construction of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque complex on a site by a main road between Muscat and Seeb early in 1995. It was completed six years later and inaugurated by His Majesty Sultan Bin Qaboos in May 2001. The developed part of the site, including the fully consolidated areas and landscaping, covers 416,000 square metres. The Mosque complex (covering 40,000 square metres) is constructed on a raised podium in keeping with the tradition of Omani mosques that were built elevated from street level.

It can accommodate up to 20,000 worshippers and consists of a main prayer hall, ladies prayer hall, covered passageways, a meeting hall, and library which will eventually contain up to 20,000 books.

The whole interior of the Grand Mosque is panelled with off-white and dark grey marble panelling clothed in cut tile work. Ceramic floral patterns adorn arch framed mural panels set in the marble forming blind niches in a variety of classical Persian, predominantly Safavid, designs. The ceilings are inspired by those of Omani forts.

The mirhab in the main prayer hall is framed by a border of Quranic verses and a gilded ceramic surround. The dome comprises a series of ornate, engraved stained glass triangles within a framework of marble columns, and a Swarovski crystal chandelier with gold-plated metalwork hangs down for a length of 14 meters.

A major feature of the main prayer hall is the hand-made Persian carpet consisting of . 1,700 million knots, weighing 21 tonnes and made in a single piece measuring 70 x 60 metres
. From design stage it took 4 years complete and 600 female weavers from province of Khurasan in Iran were involved.

The Grand Mosque has inspired the founding of a contemporary institute dedicated to advanced Islamic studies with appropriate educational facilities and accommodation. The Institute is situated to the south of the Mosque complex site.

The greatest testimony to the popularity of the place was the large number of visitors, even on a sultry and very hot morning like today.

N.b-Ref-Text matter- Ministry of Tourism(Oman )website.
All photos used- taken by me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random thoughts- Why..?

1. When people choose to dash across a motorway where the speed limit is at 120-140 kms, don't they realize what the potential and grave damage is likely to be?

To themselves, certainly, but what about the driver in that speeding vehicle who just might not..Be able to stop in time...?

2. When a young person takes drugs for the first time.Ever.

Thinking that it's cool, or 'uber-chic' to do so.
Simply because his/her friends have been doing it for a while and only just got around to offering it.

3.When a cat or a dog is hit on the road by a speeding vehicle and dies.
And other vehicles just keep on driving over it....?

4. Or when an orphan cries in pain or with sheer gut -wrenching hunger and there is just no -one around to kiss those tears away...


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ramadan Kareem

It's that time of the year again, a time when there are just a few days left for the holy month of Ramadan to begin

Four weeks of dawn to dusk fasting that every Muslim is supposed to undertake. (with the clear exception of expecting mothers, or those who are
physically unwell.)

In fact, ever since I came to live here in the Gulf, this is something that has always fascinated and intrigued me. Might I add, coupled with a certain degree of admiration.To to me a fast without having even a drop of water through the day, even for one day, is nothing short of miraculous, dependent as I find myself on numerous cups of tea and coffee to keep me going through the day.

This is exactly where the discipline and structure of what Islam has to offer to the devout comes in. That particular feeling that the Rozas are being undertaken for a specific purpose, that of upliftment and cleansing of the body as well as of the soul. Added to which are the donations that the general populace chooses to make to the needy as well as the week....

While the day is quieter and more solemn, it is the evenings during Ramadan that are really worth their weight in gold. With the shops, restaurants and malls thronging with people who have successfully managed one day of their fast and have the privilege of being able to eat the well deserved evening meal as well as to undertake their preparations for the next day's fast.

Truly a time for fasting and reflection as well as to make the most of what commercial businesses have to offer in terms of schemes, benefits and deals, I'm really looking forward to yet another Ramadan in Muscat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Raksha Bandhan

Today is 'Raksha Bandhan', a particularly meaningful Indian festival and one which brings back many happy memories for me.

Of moments that were filled with fun, laughter and companionship as my brother and I grew up in India, of festivals celebrated together with family and friends, of endless quantities of sweets devoured, irrespective of the calories that were supposed to be in them, of fun and of laughter, and of those endless days when we could be up sometimes at the crack of dawn and carry on regardless, sometimes upto almost a whole day later....

So what really is the Raakhee?And what is its importance in today's ever-changing world?

It is basically a 'sacred thread of protection' embellished with the love and affection of a sister for her brother and is usually celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravana in India. This Rakhi, which is usually embodied in a thread, is considered to be even stronger than iron chains, as it binds the most beautiful relationship in an inseparable bond of love and trust.

Yet, if one looks carefully at the other underlying significanace of what Raakhee is all about,there is a fundamental and deeper social significance in this same festival because it underlines the notion that everybody ought to try and live in harmonious co-existence with each other.

Something which is really no different from the true meaning of all festivals, be it Diwali, Christmas, Eid anywhere and everywhere in the world.

And therein lies the true valaue of what we need to communicate to Gen -next'......

N.B-Seen in the pic with me-my brother Dr. Navtej Serna.