Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Memory...

Today was full of heart rending television scenes of funerals of the fallen soldiers. My heartfelt condolences to the families of all victims of the Mumbai terror attacks. But I am reminded repeatedly of something I read-

God and the soldier
All men adore
In time of trouble,
And no more;
For when war is over
And all things righted,
God is neglected-
The old soldier slighted.

Change…Can We?

As the drama on television draws to a close, “Operation Cyclone” has been termed successful (if we really can call it that!). As our leaders shamelessly make an issue of everything, the question is, were the lives lost over the last 3 days warranted? We unashamedly talk about the unbeatable spirit of Mumbai. It is not an unbeatable Mumbai, Delhi, or Jaipur spirit. It is actually the compulsion of life itself. Do people like us have any other option than to return to our normal work and lives?

We as a nation have a short memory and life goes on. Indians are used to putting up with worthless politicians and inefficiencies in all spheres of life. Terror attacks, the flooding of our biggest cities, and many other situations like these could be averted if only we were not, collectively, a country of non performers. All analyses said and done, things will change in the real sense only when all of us change our ingrained attitude towards work. I understand what John Gardener meant when he said:

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes not its theories will hold water.”

Literally true in our case, isn’t it??

P.S. I wonder where the coward Raj Thackeray and his bully sena are hiding. Does he have brains enough to figure out that the officers involved were from all parts of the country (not just Marathis) struggling to save fellow humans (including Marathis)?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Reminders to Myself

There are some points about human psychology I have been noticing for some time now. I am learning to stop trying to change people around me and following the adage of being the change you want to see in the world. I am writing these down only for my own benefit. When life bogs me down with too many responsibilities in the future and bestows on me growing age, crankiness, failures, and successes, and I lose my ability to think clearly, reading this should help to put things back in perspective.

1) Your wedding is important only to you and your family. Lengthy screenings of marriage CD’s should be avoided at all costs. Friends looking at your wedding album do not want to know the identity of every person in the pictures, unless they specifically ask.

2) Relationships formed through marriage are tricky affairs. My parents and siblings might be the most loving and understanding people in the world for me, but their relatives-in-law would beg to differ. This is true for all in-law relationships in general. It is a waste of time and energy to even try to change that. The best all can do is to accept that everyone is different and respect their privacy and diversity. In-laws deserve not to be taken for granted just because they are now a part of your family.

3) The world does not have perfect people (especially perfect daughters and mothers in law!). Save yourself the trouble of trying to change them.

4) Your own kids are the cutest, most important, beautiful, and entertaining human beings in the world. Ditto for everyone else around, including animals (with respect to their OWN kids). If and when I have children I will not endlessly discuss their achievements and problems with other people. All compliments though, will be graciously accepted.

5) Family and friends might adore my baby, but that does not automatically make them babysitters. Everyone loves flowers, but they might not want to do the gardening themselves.

6) A mother knows what’s best for her baby. Nature granted her that right. If I think I know better, I will suggest, never insist or impose (even if the new mother is my own daughter).

5) Modern day parenting, sans the stick and punishment is not the best way of raising kids. My kids will never be allowed to jump on other’s sofas or meddle with things in their houses, even if it means publicly rebuking them.

6) If I ever have a son, I’ll try to remember that once he gets married, I will no longer be the most important woman in his life. I hope that later then, I’ll still appreciate the fact that it shouldn’t be otherwise. On the sunnier side, if I have a daughter, I’ll always be the most important woman in her life.

7) This one is going to be difficult. I will try really hard to let my kids make mistakes and learn from them. Who knows, they might just end up taking a risk (the one I was too scared to take) and bringing it to fruition.

8) People of the younger generation, including my kids, will have ways of having fun I never thought possible. I’ll try not to judge or envy them. I know how my parents felt when they found out how I spent my weekends.

9) Generation gap is a fact of life. I might be a tattoo sporting, piercing covered, forward thinking mom, but my kids will still think I am old fashioned. And I will still disagree with their attitude to life. I’ll learn to accept that.

10) I’ll consciously make an effort everyday to talk lesser. Over the years I have repeatedly noticed that I have never regretted not saying something. I’ll also try to do everything I say and say only what I intend to do.

11) Yes, life IS unfair. That’s God’s idea of a joke. You can’t change that. I’ll take comfort in the fact that even the object of my envy feels the same way. The grass is truly always greener on the other side.

12) In spite of all the drudgery, life is still worth the journey (no really, do you have a way out?). I am learning everyday that the sooner I accept this, the better I am able to appreciate the scenery.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Divine Intervention

Something is lost and can’t be found,
Please St. Anthony, look around.

As I invoke St. Anthony yet again to help me find a lost possession, I can’t help wonder if angels are the only help we have in today’s world. When all else fails, seeking divine intervention seems to be the only way out. Does it work? Well, to each, his own. But here too, you are spoilt for choice.

We completed our difficult trips to the Spiti Valley and Ladakh in our small car (considered totally unsuitable for terrains like those) without any problems, while there were studier jeeps stranded on the way. True or not, I like to attribute it to St. Petronilla, the patron saint for mountain travellers. Travellers to other locations and the ones too lazy to book hotels in advance, need not despair. They have Gertrude of Nivelles, the saint of travellers, who helps find lodging while travelling. Every weekday morning sees me calling upon St. Denis, the patron saint against frenzy and headaches. Before going out to crowded places nowadays, I never forget to remember St. Barbara, the angel against explosions. Ironically, he is also the patron saint of grave diggers, dying people, and mathematicians (the kind who bore people to death!).

While M.F. Hussain could benefit from St. Catherine of Bologna (the patron saint of painters and artists) and St. Margaret of Antioch (falsely accused people and people in exile), Ratan Tata would love some help from St. Rita of Cascia, the angel for desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations (read Singur). St. Felicity, the patron saint to have male children, would be a big hit with Indian families, who think a baby girl is just not good enough. Old parents who are too much of a burden for their children can only hope to be looked upon by St. Rita of Cascia (saint against lonliness) and St. Francis of Assisi (against dying alone). May St. Gotteschalik, the angel of lost vocations, grant good sense to our politicians.

Though God seems to have sent angels for all possible problems man could create, I think I could do with just a few on a daily basis; St. Expeditus, the patron saint of prompt solutions and against procrastination, and St. Vitus, the saint againt oversleeping (this one can take a break on weekends!).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Travel tales

We managed to travel to Ladakh and back in our Fiat Palio courtesy the Border Roads Organization (BRO), which is doing some phenomenal work at our borders. Some of those roads in the Himalayas could boast of being the best in the country, better than the ones we see in the national capital. Also, the BRO finds unique ways to keep the lone traveler entertained.

If not, feel free to speed youself to death!

If only the "BMW" guys had read this!

Could someone please tell Delhiites this!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Useless Observations

Exercising is an activity that took me 28 years to start and keep up. Six months later I still hate walking. But here are a few interesting though unimportant observations I made while walking everyday:

1) People almost always choose to walk in the anticlockwise direction on the walking track. I have seen only a couple of people taking the clockwise circle, since I started.

2) Women more often than not, walk on the wrong side of the track.

3) Men do better. Most of them walk on their left side.

4) All the people who are regular about their walking regimen are the ones who have no other distractions like music or their mobile phones while walking. In other words, people who can’t walk without entertainment are not motivated enough to exercise regularly.

5) If you see someone walking or jogging extra hard or extra long, chances are you won’t see them again for days on end. The regular ones don’t overdo anything with respect to time or effort but they do it everyday.

6) Weekends are the times you get to see a lot of new faces. Most of even the very regular ones skip exercise on weekends.

7) Weekends are also the times when you see a lot of people wearing specially designed and expensive walking or jogging shoes and clothes. In short, everything correct technically. But these are the people you will see only on weekends or even lesser. Regular walkers don’t mind doing it even in their regular clothes and shoes.

8) People who walk tend to be more regular than people who jog.

9) People, who come along with friends to walk, are never the regular ones.

10) If there are any stray or pet dogs in the park they’ll always be lying in your way on the walking track and not on the grass. I used to get pretty irritated about this before I figured out that it’s probably because they are being bugged by insects on the grass.

11) Everybody, irrespective of class, age, weight, or sex loves a swing. I have seen all kinds of people on the 2 swings originally meant for children, in the park.

Disclaimer: All these conclusions are based solely on my observations in the one park I visit daily. They might or might not be universally true!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Travel time again and this time it was pretty Lansdowne. It’s one of the closest hill stations to Delhi but better than a lot of other more famous ones. Any day better than Shimla or Nainital! A part of why I liked it so much was also because the weather was really nice with heavy rains and the clouds all seemed to have descended to the ground.

The town was built by the Britishers and is spic and span unlike other popular locations because it is an army cantonment, except for the occasional Indian tourist who cannot help but litter. The place is mostly inhabited by army people, both serving and retired, and has huge, beautiful, fairytale like bungalows.

With time constraints, we couldn’t visit all the places of interest but we did manage to see a couple of churches and a picnic spot. The St. John’s Catholic Church is a small lovely English looking church, the one currently in use.

But the one I was really interested in was the St. Mary’s Protestant Church. It was built in 1896 and has been in disuse since the English left in 1947. It was in ruins before the army (The Garwal Rifles) took over. It still needs some repairs, the most visible, a leaking corner of the roof. There’s a very helpful army guide in the church who plays a 20 minute film about the long history and service of the Garwal Rifles in India and the world. The film has interesting details of how during the Raj, an army unit was sent out in these mountains to look for a location for the Garwal Rifles cantonment and how the town got its name after the Viceroy and Governor General of India, Lord Lansdowne. You could also get tidbits of information about how The Garwal Rifles became “The Royal Garwal Rifles” after their stellar performance in WW I. If you are really interested, he will also give you details about the only 2 weddings that happened in the church and more. The film show costs Rs.10 per person and is played only if there are a minimum of 5 people.

The place most visited here is probably the Tiffin Top, or now Indian-ised, Tip-in-top. The place looked more like a cloud factory and we couldn’t get any western Himalayan mountain views.

Tranquility and pin drop silence is what is special about this town. Every place is different and has a character of its own. And a visit to Lansdowne would convince you that this one is definitely, very “English”.

St. Mary's Church

St. John's Church