Monday, February 25, 2013

To Reader's Digest

Reader's Digest
What a magazine that was! What an amazing concept.
It was just the right book to wean a beginner into serious reading.
A beginner ... dug into snippets from Laughter is the best medicine or Humour in uniform.
Graduated to enjoying a play on words? Read the yummy two-liners that appear at random after an article as surprise gifts.
Garner some medical info from the health series called I am John's... (liver, pancreas, muscles etc etc).
Tales of warmth and kindness and soul-stirring reality give courage to face smaller turmoils. There was rarely any horror or evil. It made you feel that the world is a wonderful place after-all.
Drama in real life provided nail biting stories... that I often read in a hurry... to see what happens in the end. These stories carried us into US and into the strange crisis they face....
 a delivery in a far away cottage, a car crash victim who crawls a few miles before he reaches help, a shark  attack....snow...blizzard...typhoons...twisters
The - Test your word power - that made us feel scholarly if we earned Good.
And then if you are ready for serious reading... there is the abridged story in the last section of the book.
The back covers carried painting by upcoming artists. I spent many afternoons trying to replicate the paintings.
The world was divided into two classes of families...those who read Reader's Digest and those who didn't.

But over the years, I changed and so did Reader's Digest. It lost its charm. Perhaps it is too soft? Perhaps it is too diverse?

But I feel sad when they say it will close.
Thank You Reader's Digest. You have given me hours of immense joy.  And much claim to elite reading.
Today I Salute
All marathon runners who have it in them to place one step after another to complete a marathon. and particularly to Fauja Singh who ran at the rollicking age of 101

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Music to the mind

Dha Dhin Dhin Dha
Dhanka Taka a Taka Dhanka taka dhum

Can you listen to an hour and a half of this?
I thought I couldn't. And I was so wrong.

Yesterday we had been to the Times of India music fest featuring Percussion Artists from the world.
It was mind blowing.

encore please - Times of India music fest

Taufiq Qureshi - son of Ustad Allarakha - led the stage with a large variety of percussion accompanying him.
So we nodded, clapped, tapped our feet and shook our bottoms to -
tabla, mrudangam, dholak, khanjeera, morching, dholki, Manipuri pung cholam, South African toca, punjabi dhol, Rajasthani khartal, and so many others that I do not know the names of.

Fascinating Taufiq is a master performer on stage and kept us enraptured with the awe-inspiring variety of sounds that he created alone. Whoosh sounds that reminded one of a passing train, the sizzle of a rain and the roar of downpour, tluk-ta sounds made by hitting on an open mouth .... and all these sounds blended so well with the on going percussion to make an amazing experience.
God's gift - to be in a profession that needs heaps of dedication and spreads loads of ecstasy.

The dance-song-drum-talk-drama (barely clothed) ensemble from South Africa was an hour that had us in splits. Some of it intentionally funny some of it ...not!


Today I Salute
Work means you have to get up even if you are sleepy. Obey orders even if you think otherwise. Get going even if you are not-in-the-mood. These amazing men choose a profession that send them into deep infested jungles ... all in the course of a day's job. 1000 CoBRA, CRPF jawans hunt for Reds

Friday, February 22, 2013

What makes you weird?

If the tea is not hot enough, if the old newspaper is not kept away, if the dhobi is not on time, if the baby wails loudly ... Venkatachala gets furious.
At 70 Maya colours her hair jet black, wears danglings on her ears, and pearls round her neck.
Pratham calls every sibling and every cousin and their kids every month gives long pauses and asks repeatedly yen samachara ... what news?
Gautam has 5 dogs
Priti is super-thin, rides a bicycle to office, runs half marathon, and eats salads for lunch
Madhura has an itchy throat which she clears loudly every so often
Guna leaves wet towels on the chair and coffee mugs on the desks
Shama wears six rings on 4 fingers and advises people to be confident and brave

That's weird. yes. Not conceited, not cruel not obstinate...
just plain weird.

What makes you weird?
thank you Seth Godin
Today I Salute
This pilot who saved 180 lives with his presence of mind. But the Times of India did not give us his name or publish this wonderful man's photo. Weird?
While on the way down this pilot spotted a plane on the runway! He was alert enough to climb up again and prevent a major head-on. Those 180 passengers and their family are thanking their stars and hopefully thanking this amazing pilot too.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

One foolishness allowed

We see this perfectness on screen - big and small - and expect that perfection all around us
and in us. But suddenly what do we do?
We go and put our foot in our mouth or see someone else doing so.
And we get very angry. We agonize. We wish the incident away. We fret. We feel stupid.

And do we say Oops ... I goofed up. Sorry ...
oh no ... not by the hair of my chinni chin chin!!
We huff and we puff and we blow it all away.  
We go all out to defend ourselves. What? me do something wrong? never.
or go offensive .. You are silly. You are giving that soooo much importance.
or become Aunt Prim.. dont be dumb. Be mature ... blah blah
and thus, instead of simply pulling that misguided foot out of the mouth, we go and stuff the ankle and the leg in too!

Suppose...just suppose
we declare that one foolish act (FA) per person per day is normal ... er ... make that - One FA per person per day is mandatory
So, in place of oota aitha? or had your tea? or it is sunny today...
we can say, FA aitha? or done your FA for the day? or today is a good FA day...had about 3 already!

That will take the air out of a lot of unwanted tussles
and when that foot gets into the mouth we can say
hey look... this was my mandatory FA.
what say?

So the next time a sarcastic comment goes awry
a playful prank goes serious
a 'funny' remark gets out of hand
We just say... that was my FA of the day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our boxer marks territory

When I walked into home after 4 months I got a rousing welcome from Maximus our brindle boxer.
In four months he has doubled his height, tripled his weight and has gained impressive muscles.
But he is still a pup of 8 months
So in his excitement he makes 360 degree jumps
weaves in and out of our legs rapidly
leaps up and down in place
and yelps in glee

oooo he remembers you amma ... they all rave over his amazing memory

and then....
he sees me cuddling my daughter
he sees me sitting on the sofa with them chatting and laughing
and he feels left out

who's this?
invading my zone? he seems to ponder
nnnn...yuuummm...nnyuuu he wails.... and we say awww and gather him in a tight embrace
that he struggles to escape from!

then he begins to mark his territory
he pees in the hall, he dribbles in the corridor, he pees again and looks at us
as if to say huh?
he ignores his lunch.... he messes with his pillows
we are at our wits end
he never used to do this before amma... my daughter says

well..... he is just fussing ...... let's give him some time
so I play tug-o-war with him ... and win! (gently touch his gums with your fingers amma...he will never bite you)
I play fetch the ball
I give him his lunch
I rub his chest

After 8 days, he has accepted me. I am now part of his pack!
thank you Max
we are friends again.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love and Friendship

Yesterday we went to a restaurant here for dinner. 
The place is done up in punjabi dhaba style. Small mirrors on the wall, hanging lanterns, low seats with roll pillows, bright torans and pottery decor on the tables. We choose a table and sink into the cushions.  Tall glass with green chillies, aam panna and onions in vinegar are placed to tingle taste buds. A young man in green sherwani and embroidered vest  smiles us the menu book. A while after he has placed the platter of starters he comes by to inquire ... happys? and when we are done with the starters he offers ... cleans? He walks with a skip, he serves food with style and clears the table with quiet.
He has made friends with his profession. And he makes dining a happy experience for us.

He respects what he does. He values the comfort of every customer. I am sure he has hopes and dreams. He trusts his work to get him what he desires. RESPECT and TRUST are the basics of Love. 

I notice 
where there is respect and trust - home, office, shop, whatever
there is peace and growth
there is an atmosphere of comfort and acceptance
the mind is free to aspire and climb

I wonder
are respect and trust to be won?
or to be given?
Must one work to gain trust and respect? 
Or is it something you either get from a person or do not?
like the rejection of his bahu  by the stubborn father of kabhi kushi kabhi gam
or like Scrooge's mistrust of Christmas vacations in Charles Dickens
or like Hitler and the Jews
what do you think? Is respect and trust. to be won or to be given?

This is the season of love. A season of pink hearts and chocolates and ribbons
A season of respect and trust
May you have overwhelming love and friendship in your life
Happy Valentine's Day

The abundant love that you give me....makes my life.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A handful of seeds

Today, I like to share a story that my daughter's boss told her. The story applies just as nicely to a family as it does to an office place and work colleagues.
well....I embellish the story in my own way !!
God hands over a handful of seeds to 3 different farmers and tells them to plant the seeds and allow them to flourish and multiply.
God visits them after 6 months.
Farmer 1 looks at God anxiously. I have been really good to the seeds you gave me God. I made a special place for them in my watermelon farm. I give them exactly the same care as I give my watermelons. But look at the plants now. Small leaves, thin stalks, pale colour....You tricked me. These seeds are no good.
Farmer 2 has nothing much to say. I tossed them into the soil. The plants must be growing well. Hey God, Isn't that what they are supposed to do? he challenges.
Farmer 3 is happy the flowers are coming out well. God, he says I am a little concerned about the pumpkins. But am really proud of my peas, and petunias.

Farmer1 wonders why his 'watermelon' plants are under achieving. Farmer2 sometimes wonders why some flourish but some wither and dry. Farmer3 has a garden with vines, creepers, delicate flowers and hardy vegetable plants.

We get a handful of seeds... also called family, friends, fellow workers and fraternity.
It's to our benefit if we remember ... They are not all watermelon.

swaying in the breeze

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The buck stops here

here? way!
there may be?
na a no way

This proverb in kannada provides startling imagery. And describes a very common Indian quirk ..........
Tanna elle li katte sat bididru, pakkada elle inda nona vodasd-haage
ತನ್ನ  ಎಲ್ಲೆಲಿ ಕತ್ತೆ  ಸತ್ ಬಿದ್ದಿದರು , ಪಕ್ಕದ  ಎಲೆ  ಇಂದ  ನೊಣ  ವೊಡಸದ  ಹಾಗೆ 

He swats a fly hovering over his neighbour's plate while a donkey lies dead on his.   !!

Defining, refining, profiling the tasks of people around is just soooo much more interesting...than completing the task on hand...!!

50 years ago, the roles were well defined. housewife, cook, preacher, tailor, barber, tahsildar, clerk, each had a specific job description. and one had to merely complete that task neatly to feel efficient and proud. They knew exactly which buck stopped where.

The lines are not so well defined anymore. everyone does everything. While that brings in equality. It also brings in arguments about exactly which buck stops where.
the dust on the table
the rent we forgot to pay
the birthday card that was not posted
the incorrectly worded mail

becomes at the same time a mistake that belongs to all and no one owns.
aaah the landline is ringing..........someone get it .... hey! ..... are you picking it? ....