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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Going down Nostalgia Lane (Delhi)

These were some of the things that I enjoyed best...once upon a time...
Simple and fun, when life seemed to be much less complicated.
But then, that's what Nostalagia Lane is really all about, isn't it?

Looking forward to that particular time slot, once every week, for catching 'Der Kommisar' a fantastic German serial dubbed in English on Delhi Doordarshan.Simply because it was the only proper Detective serial that we could view.

Eating 'Chaat, particularly 'Golgappas' at that corner in South Extn Part 1, because they tasted the best..
Or was it because that 'chaatwaala' was our friend gave us two extra for the same price?
Simply because our monthly allowance could be made to stretch only that much...

Heading towards Janpath and buying shirts/T shirts for Rs 25. (yes thats true... ) for that's all they cost.And therefore being able to have a great wardrobe for college.

Eating a whole Hot Chocolate fudge at Nirulas and loving it.
So what if one was groaning with a stomach ache, one hour later,(the result of sheer greed...)

More musings my next blog entry

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Indian students abroad-Forced to deal/cope with 'Racism'

28th May 09-25 year old Baljinder Singh pleads for life, but is mocked by his attackers, in Melbourne..

As a result, they spare his life but stab him repeatedly, leaving him bleeding.....until someone finally managed to rush him to hospital.From where the world gets to see images of him in his hospital bed, bandaged....

Looking sad, wistful,confused. Possibly wondering what went wrong?

9th May, again in Australia -Sourabh Sharma is brutally beaten up in a train - can we call it an 'opportunistic crime' or was he too a victim of racial hatred?

More such incidents can easaily come to mind, we only have to delve a little deeper.

For we all know /know of someone who's been somewhere there...

Our own daughter Neha.... who has been studying in the UK for the last three years has a couple of incidents to tell us about.

While about to cross a red light in Nottingham, she pressed that particular button which would bring traffic to a halt so that pedestrians could then walk on.

Just as she did so, a middle aged British lady, leaned out of her vehicle and told her off. "You silly Paki, don't you see that I wanted to go past..."

The second one was even more hurtful.For she was out on a Charity drive collecting funds for cancer research and treatments, for residents of the UK.

In one of the towns they stopped, (possibly Leeds), a group of these young men and women were moving around the town square, managing to collect whatever came their way.

Neha by nature, is an active enthusiastic person, and it shows in everything that she does.So while her collection was going very well, it all changed as she approached two old women seated on a bench.

The answer that she got from them was as sad as it was stupid, "There's no way that we would give any money to the likes of you.....!!!??"

The way she puts it.... It dampened her natural enthusiasm for all of five minutes, by which time a close friend of hers came and stood by her side.Which surprised those women, for he too was "one of them"

And together they they moved on and away.Away from those foolish women living in their goldfish bowls.Who possibly dont even know that there is another---whole wide world that exists out there.

But the thought that niggles at me.From the day that she told me of these incidents.

It is probably the children of such parents who are out to hate, stab and maim our children, and their friends.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ever thought of what happens next?

Say you go to a lovely buffet lunch or a dinner.
Where the table is groaning with a delightful spread,
And you love the look of it all.
But even more, you love the taste of it all..

So you do, what most of us would naturally do in such circumstances.

Eat just a a little bit/or possibly, a lot more than you would normally.

Which is fine, because it really exception.
But have you ever thought of what happens to all that lovely looking and tasting food after that?

Well this is what I learnt today, and it really made me wake up.
To a new reality.... one that I wasn't aware of earlier.

Here in Oman, we have very strict food and hygiene regulations.
Because food standards of freshness, cleanliness etc are very carefully monitored by the concerned authorities.
So that all the food after an event, ( particularly all non veg items) are just put into big black garbage bags.And binned/trashed/thrown away.

Making me wonder, is that sometimes too much of a good thing?
Or then, how many hungry people all over the world, could fill their stomachs and get a peaceful night's sleep?

Questions, questions, questions,
With few, if any answers

Friday, May 22, 2009

Random thoughts and observations

The mind wanders...and various thoughts come and go.

Some which register more than the others.

In which case I try to put them down, before they go away too..

So these are today's.

One of which I observed during my evening walk( why is it that so many things happen only then???)

We have a Polyclinic in our complex.Called the Hatat Polyclinic,this is one of the most well reputed clinics in the city, offering a wide range of medical treatments and facilities.So that people of all age groups (and might I add, mostly from the upper strata)come here to have a range of treatments/follow up activities.

As I drew up closer, and moved towarfs the outer perimeter, (the route that I've chalked out as the patah of least disturbance during my walk, I saw an old Omani gentleman in a wheel chair. He was gently being taken down the specially built ramp, and into a parked and waiting Lexus ES-350.

My observations- he looked weak, tired and unwell.

But more than that, he looked happy and content.

Even managing a smile back at me, as I gave him one while directly passing by.

Because he was surrounded by loving family members, who were there to provide mental, moral as well as physical support. There were three of them, a young man and a woman along with a boy of about 14 years of age.

And here's my take on this-At the end of the day, what are we all really looking for?

Just some peace and quiet, and God forbid, if we are weak, old and ill..

The loving support of our family.

For money alone can't buy us happiness in this world

Or then for that matter, health

Capturing a 'Moment in time'.

I love taking photographs.Particularly those which tell a story.
Or then, capture a 'moment in time'.

Never to be repeated, but conveying such wealth of detail.
So much so that all/any words that one may use to describe these, would be insufficient.

So for once, I'm not going to.
By simply letting my photographs tell these stories.

N.B-All photographs shown here are taken in Muscat, Oman.
Locations-Al Shatti beach and Matrah Corniche

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time and Changing Perceptions

We were having dinner at a close friends place in Delhi on one of our vacations, when the topic of life and ambitions came up. Pretty much as it is likely to do, whenever old friends sit together and reminesce...

So we talked about careers, cars, homes...and many other things.With no seeming end or single answer to that. Until my husband Avi came up with one line which took us all by surprise..

Then a realization.

That line was."The Goal-post always seems to move further and then even further away".

It is so very true, if we sit back and reflect for a serious moment. As I did, a short while ago.

There were so many things that one wanted to do. Some of which, one has actually managed to accomplish.Yet so many other things which never could be...

For one or the other reason.... Or sometimes circumstances..

Yet there is realization.One which fills me with a great deal of hope and optimism for the future.

Life is a journey and therefore about 'ever evolving' perceptions.Which have more and different meanings at different points in our lives.

And even as the Goal post does move further and further away.We need to move at our own pace and time and still manage to reach it.

And so we move on..towards a new government

After all that has been said and and done, we are now at an exciting juncture in Indian politics.

One where Dr Manmohan Singh has been invited by the President of India to form the new government.Purely because he now has the requisite numbers to be able to do so.

So what if Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Communist Party and many others..refused to go along.
Looking for greener pastures perhaps? But finding only dark brown patches.Which look more like mud than anything else?

I for one firmly believe that we will now have a government which will seriously work to deliver.
More and better than its first term.

Greatly buoyed by the confidence that comes with the sweet taste of independent (almost) victory.To be improved in no small measure by the young blood that will now positively be inducted into the Parliament.

And so to a better future..Viva la good governance

Friday, May 15, 2009

'Angels and Demons'-an exciting, racy, thriller

There are movies and then there are some other movies.Those that hold your attention from the very first moment to the last.

Which is where I would place Angels and Demons..right at the top of my personal ratings scale.

Written by best selling novelist Dan Brown, this book was written three years before 'The Da Vinci Code', though we got to see that one as a movie earlier.Angels and Demons makes for a great read, but an even better film.

In Summary and as taken from the book's review, this is really it..

When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol -- seared into the chest of a murdered physicist -- he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati... the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth.

The Illuminati has surfaced from the shadows to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy... the Catholic Church.Langdon's worst fears are confirmed on the eve of the Vatican's holy conclave, when a messenger of the Illuminati announces he has hidden an unstoppable time bomb at the very heart of Vatican City. With the countdown under way, Langdon jets to Rome to join forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid for survival.

Embarking on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra follow a 400-year old trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome toward the long-forgotten Illuminati lair... a secret location that contains the only hope for Vatican salvation.

See it folks, and you will only be doing yourself a favour.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A pet peeve, and something that is getting more.. and.. more

It is true, it really is summer now.
And therefore getting hotter by the day...

But is that really any justification for people who step out of their luxury cars...

And saunter across to the Mall, the doctor, the bank, or even their friend's home for a cup of coffee...

And leave the engine running!
Just so that their car will be cool when they return??

Yet these sights are now more 'happening' than not.
More than ever before.

Simply because they live in the Gulf where petrol certainly is cheaper.
Or is it because they dont care....

For anything at all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jewel Of Muscat-A journey to recreate the past

The year was 826 A.D( approx).A beautiful ship set sail from Oman to Singapore laden with precious cargo, which included Gold, bronze, chanagsah ware and yeu ware, amongst a host of other precious materials.
During the course of the journey somewhere between Sumatra and Java, the ship met its watery grave. Never to be seen again.With all its precious cargo lost as well.
Until the year 1998, when the Belitung wreck was discovered and this whole story came to light.

2009, Cantab, Oman-A quaint fishing village just off the coast, where something very exciting is being readied. In a specially constructed ship yard here.
To undertake that same voyage that was not destined to be completed.At least in the 9th century AD. But this is the 21st century and where there is a will, there is positively a way.
It is due to be finished in 2009 and will embark on an historic voyage from Oman to Singapore in early 2010.The project is an historical and cultural initiative launched by the governments of Oman and Singapore that involves the reconstruction of a 9th-century ship and sailing it from Oman to Singapore.

The ship represents a major feat of maritime engineering. The hull is being sewn together with coconut fibre. Built without nails to seal the hull, each timber will have to fit perfectly. The wood will be protected by a layer of goat fat mixed with lime, and the sails will be square and made from palm leaves.

Once built, the ship is expected to sail from Oman to Singapore, which is presumed to have been a key stopping point of the Belitung ship, in its journey westwards, before it was wrecked. It will travel along the same route as those described by Arab geographers, using the same knowledge as Arab seamen.
The team on the ship will use 9th-century navigation techniques, plotting the course for the 18-metre ship with a “kamal” (a small block of wood connected to a piece of string that can calculate latitude), and the stars and the sun. Observation of the sky and sea colour, marine and bird life, and wind direction will also be used as aids to navigation. Modern instruments will only be used to check the navigation techniques.

Standing there that day, watching the 4o plus men at work, I could feel 'the feeling' too. That of expectancy and that of hope as well.
To set in motion a project that someone had intended to do many centuries ago.
But one which will finally become a reality only in the year 2010...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Loneliness- A Short Story

About 5 evenings in a week, if not more, I dedicate to walking for about one hour.Something that I thoroughly enjoy as that's really the time which is undisturbed 'me time.(So much so that I even try to avoid walking with any one else)

Yet there are 'social niceties' to be considered, such as saying 'Hello' to familiar faces, or then even stopping for a moment to have a brief chat.

But what happened last evening completely threw me.So much that I forgot all about walking, me time, et all.

As I turned a particular corner and came upto a fountain that's located in a lovely spot in our Complex, I saw one of my neighbours, an old lady beckoning to me. For a moment, I simply waved at her and went on.Until I heard her call me by name. Which was something that I couldn't possibly ignore, so I turned back and came towards her.

Polite chit chat over, she told me in no uncertain terms that the reason she wanted me to sit anad talk with her was quite simply that she was LONELY. Even more on that evening than what she normally felt.

Which surprised me, but only for a brief moment.

For I knew that she lived in the midst of her family.A loving son and an equally loving daughter in law, grandchildren and a maid. Yet there was also this clear and vivid mental picture in my head...Which is best descibed by the words..

A fish in a large, happy pond, now having to live in a glass bowl.

Simply because of circumstances at that point in time.For having lost her husband some time back, topped by a series of surgeries, she was no longer in a position to run anad maintain her own establishment.

Which is what she was sorely missing.Her own way of life and living..

Al of us, including her own family, have their own way of life and living too.

And she is left on the fringes of it all.
Quite simply..... feeling LONELY.

I did what I could do, at that moment.Simply held her by the hanad and told her to come visit me and talk to me anytime that she wanted to.

But she surprised me.

For with very great, dignity, she replied, "Even if you stop by during your walk and talk to me, just as you have done now, that's all that I really want.Thank you."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Youth and Drug abuse-an understanding

Sometimes one is reading a newsppaper, a journal or a magazine and something particularly catches one's attention. More than the regular 'daily dose of mere news'...

This is what particularly caught mine. In the Khaleej Times, issue dated 2nd May 09Titled-'Disturbed childhood cause of drug abuse among Saudi youth', byHabib Shaikh,sent in from Jeddah, it is the first real expose of its kind.

Where a closed society is beginning to reveal whats really happening inside.

I quote-"A study of drug addicts in Saudi Arabia has shown that good education and married life dissuade young men and women from turning to drugs.Estranged relations between parents and an unhappy childhood are some of the major causes of pushing children to drug addiction.As many as 46% of the respondents said that their unhappy childhood had played a role in turning them towards drugs.

40% said that they had suffered humiliation and abuse during childhood. 37% were beaten, 19.9% grew up seeing hostile relations between parents and siblings, while 14.9% had seen their parents seperated.The study also revealed that 76% thought of ending their lives while 54% had actually tried to commit suicide.

This study has covered people receiving de-addiction treatment at the Al Amal Rehabilitation centre, and has concluded that about 74% of the country's drug addicts had experimented with drugs before they were 15.

According to a report presentedto the Shoura Council last year, around 15,000 youngSaudi men and women abuse drugs..

Makes me wonder...Extremely revealing statistics these..Could happen anywhere, in any part of the world.

All we need to do as responsible parents/adults/mentors -
Try and eliinate/minimize these circumstances, if we really,really want a drug free society

Monday, May 4, 2009

If music be the food of/for on

Music that soothes and stirs.
The soul, the mind and yes, sometimes the body too.
So that we break out into a dance, a jig or then just tap our fingers or feet to the beat

Music-For all times and all seasons
Our highs, our lows and our in betweens.

Instrumental,songs, or then a combination
In any language, and at any time of the day
Or even the night...

As the poet truly, truly said,
If music be the food of love
Play on....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Smoking thrills.... but kills

The cold hard facts as we know them. According to The National Cancer Institute in the USA.
1.Cigarette smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths and is responsible for most cancers of the larynx,oral cavity,pharynx,esophagus and bladder.Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking alone is directly responsible for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths annually United States.

2.Cigarette smoking also causes chronic lung disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cataracts. Smoking during pregnancy can cause stillbirth, low birthweight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and other serious pregnancy complications.
3.Secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year.

4.Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemical agents, including over 60 substances that are known to cause cancer .

5.The risk of developing smoking-related cancers, as well as noncancerous diseases, increases with total lifetime exposure to cigarette smoke.

5.Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits, including decreasing the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease.


Now Reality as I discussedBold with a good friend just last evening.
Someone who has been a hard core smoker for the last 30 plus years, struggling with quitting at least on two occassions, and then finally, succumbed.
All over again......
To the lure of the 'cancer stick'

I really needed to understand what it is that draws an educated, smart individual to it again and again.And what I gathered was that even though he had seen his own father die of lung cancer at the relatively early age of sixty, this was something that he just couldn't bring under control..

I quote, "My body just cried out for the niccotine, and I was overwhelmed with despair.As well as guilt.But it was finally the niccotine craving that overpowered me, as it's really, really addictive.Yet I pray that no -one in my family gets hooked, the way that I did...."

Some understanding that, tinged with a feeling of the deepest dismay.
Knowing that he would never be able to quit.
Yet hoping that this piece serves a purpose.
That of informing and educating.

Even though we like to believe that we've all heard this or similar stories before...

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Fascinating pull of the sea...

What is it really that draws us towards the sea?
All day, through the day and then through the seasons

It's something that comes to my mind every now and then.
And I find it hard to really explain..

Until I looked at some photographs that I've taken recently in an attempt to capture the beauty,the fascination, the peace and even the tranquility of the sea.

And then suddenly, I found that no words were really necessary.
For a picture truly.... truly....speaks more than a thousand words...