Saturday, May 30, 2015

Doctors recommend angio-therapy and bypass surgery


Three instances of heart problems within three months had got my doctors worried and, with my retirement coming up, they suggested that I get an angio-therapy done in Mumbai hospital. Their intentions were good because as long as I was in employment, the cost of my treatment would be borne by the company. They wanted me to take advantage of this facility.
But, there were difficulties – I had to go to Mumbai and, during angiography, if the blockages were serious, a decision would have to be taken by my family as to whether the doctors should proceed to the next step which was that of inserting stents or go in for bypass surgery. In case it came to that stage, my family would have to keep ready blood donors.
And, it had all to be arranged in advance. Once at the operation table, decisions would have to be taken immediately. Well – I knew that the condition of my heart was not good. The LVEF was low and 2D-Echo had revealed blockages but my treadmill results were fair enough. Therefore, I decided to get the angiography done and bring back the test results.
My son accompanied me to Mumbai and I stayed with my brother. He had good contacts in Mumbai and that was a great help. I had to stay in the hospital for two days. The period was in 2003 and the practice at the time was to carry out what was known in medical terms as invasive therapy – a capillary tube was inserted through the pelvic region into the heart and images of the internal setup were captured.
The initial recommendation of the cardiologist was that I should go in for bypass surgery which I was not willing to do. I wanted the results of the procedure and, here, my brother’s contacts paid off because the hospital said that I would have to wait till next day for the report but timely interference by him ensured that I got the report within a few hours.
I came back to Nashik with the report and met my doctors along with a heart specialist who used to come once a week as a consultant to the hospital. I confided in them that since I still had one year service left, I could always opt for bypass surgery within that period to avail of the free treatment. (to be continued …)

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Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hospital keeps following me – it gets me for third time in three months


I, like any other normal person, hated hospitals. The strong smell of disinfectants, the nurses going about with grim expression on their faces, the doctors who do not know how to laugh - all of these have negative effect on every one.
I was no exception but, as it turned out, I had to get admitted in the hospital for treatment of disease connected to the heart. Yes, it was hereditary and, hence, the doctors did not want to take any chance. And, to add to my bucket of woes, my GM wanted to ensure that I remained fit and effective. It was a selfish motive but, it did have its plus points because the doctors took special care for me.
However, after being in the hospital twice, I felt that my diagnosis was complete and I started on a regular dose of medicines that were meant to ensure a trouble free life. But, God willed otherwise.
It was a party in a hotel – the occasion was to meet the family of a prospective bride for my son. The contact had been through letters and they hailed from Raipur. And, the head of the family was known to one of my local friends.
All of us met in a hotel in Nashik City and, agreed to let the youngsters go out and try to discover each other’s likes and dislikes. They came back after half an hour or so and there followed a session of some hot and spicy snacks peppered with discussions in a light vein. We exchanged smiles and parted company.
But, by the time we returned home, I was once again in discomfort. And, it ended with yet another visit to the hospital and an entry into the ICU – it was the third time in less than three months. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org


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Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


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I become a detective to trace a missing consignment

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

ICU beckons me for a second time


My first visit to the ICU was for a duration of a fortnight. I was kept under 24-hours observation by the monitors installed in the cabin, my physical movements were restricted, my taste buds went haywire with new concoctions dreamt up by my wife to ensure that I got used to a diet of minimum cholesterol, fats and all the ingredients that do not make for a happy meal. It was a real mental and physical torture not just for me but for my wife and son as well because, in a family of three, one cannot continue to have two different sets of menus at all times. I had to accept it all with a smiling face but, internally, I was determined to find a way out.
Anyway, Man proposes and God disposes and the same happened to me.
It was a month after I was released from hospital. I was gradually returning to normal when it happened again. I had done some marketing of vegetables and fruits and met my doctor there. He enquired about my health and I gave him the thumbs up. Both of us were happy and, after returning home, as I sat down with a cup of tea, I suddenly felt uncomfortable. I was experiencing breathing problems.
My son was not at home so my wife ran to our neighbor and he immediately took me in his car to the hospital and it was a repeat performance of the earlier instance. Knowing my past medical history, the duty doctor admitted me immediately and that was that.
I once again cursed my luck and resigned to my fate. I had stopped smoking, I had moved away from mutton because red meat is loaded with cholesterol, similarly, eggs were banned from my diet. I tried to argue with my wife and convince that the message of ‘Sunday ho ya Monday, roj khao andey’ means that eggs are safe. But, she was not convinced. (to be continued…)

(Image courtesy wikimediacommmons.org)

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Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


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I become a detective to trace a missing consignment

Monday, May 25, 2015

I go to hospital for checkup and wake up in the ICU


It had been a hectic day for me. In the morning, there was a meeting with the GM and, by the time I came back to my office, there was this officer from HAL Lucknow who had come to reconcile the supply status of accessories supplied by Lucknow. He was a good friend of mine and my single point contact when I visited Lucknow.
We began the reconciliation activities and broke for lunch. He went to the canteen and I took my scooter home. It was the monsoon season and the rains kept coming on and off. Anyway, I finished my lunch and then, as per my routine, sat down before the TV and lit a cigarette while I watched some program. It was a habit and, even though my wife objected, I just could not kick the habit of smoking this cigarette after lunch.
But, that day was different. Suddenly the cigarette left a bitter taste in my mouth and, after a couple of puffs, I stubbed it out. I put on the raincoat and started the scooter but, after going some distance, I began to feel uncomfortable.
Anyway, after parking the vehicle in the parking lot I was in two minds – should I enter the factory or make a trip to the hospital and get some medicine for a quick relief. I stood in front of the scooter, took off the raincoat and stuffed it into the scooter dicky because the rains had stopped. Finally I decided to go to the hospital.
I reached the hospital at around 2pm – the duty doctor listened to my complaints, asked me to lie down on the inspection table, took the readings of my BP and pulse and that is all that I remember. I went out of this world. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in the ICU – one of my friends was standing at the door of the ICU along with my wife and son. The time was around 10pm.
It came as a shock to me to learn that I had suffered a stroke!!
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)


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Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


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Disenchanted with rosy promises of a life with the ISIS, three British girls escape

Over 600 stranded migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar rescued by local fishermen

British spy chiefs recruiting computer geeks for £27,913 to help fight terrorists, criminal gangs and hackers

Ancient 2000-year-old city of Palmyra in Syria targeted for destruction by ISIS

I become a detective to trace a missing consignment

Friday, May 22, 2015

Marriages are made in Heaven


It was a big relief when my son announced his decision and, when we wanted to know why he had not confided in us earlier, he just grinned and said ‘marriages are made in heaven’. We realized that he had grown up and we have to respect his decision.
Once the first part was over, we had to make a trip to Kolkata to meet the would-be daughter-in-law’s family members. Yes, she was from Kolkata and was from a small family. It was a match that was a sort of made-for-each-other affair. The date had to be finalized and the invitation cards had to be selected, printed and distributed.
The selection of the cards was another confusing affair. My wife and I went to College Street where there are rows and rows of outlets who specialize in invitation cards of all types. We could have selected it straight away but, for the sake of maintaining decorum, we brought back a couple of samples and returned back the next day to place the firm order.
There had to be two sets of cards – in Bengali for relatives and friends in Kolkata and in English for those back in Nashik. We also had to have two sets of reception – one in Kolkata, the other in Nashik. And, for the reception in Nashik, there would be a few selected invitees from both sides. Their railway reservations had to be made. The date settled upon was in July – monsoon season.
And, we had to do the marketing disregarding the rains and flooded streets. It was all very exciting and, when the event was finally completed and when we all boarded the Geetanjali Express to return to Nashik, we all heaved a sigh of relief.
Out five year plan had successfully ended. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

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Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The search spreads out from Nashik to other cities


When Bengalis reside in West Bengal, it is convenient for them to pursue alliances that would finally get two pair of hands joined together in a holy and everlasting alliance called matrimony. This is probably because distance is not a deterrent.
Weather permitting, the interactions between the two parties can be arranged conveniently on weekends. Relatives and friends can and usually do accompany. In fact they readily agree because of the possibility of being a part of the decision making process. An added attraction is of getting to taste some varieties of sweets – that is a must for all Bengali functions. A variety of sweets arranged on a plate is a must. It is immaterial whether an alliance gets finalized or not, but a plate of delicious sweets is a must.
Anyway, we resided in Nashik and, in order to move to Mumbai or Bangalore or Kolkata in order to check out a prospective bride meant a lot of advance planning, especially for railway reservations and leave.
Therefore, based on responses that we received, my wife and I had to go around the country to try and create an opportunity to meet the families and get to know them better. This is a major problem of today. Most of the families are nuclear families and live far away from close relatives – therefore on occasions like marriage, one has to move on one’s own steam rather than depend on the propulsion of others.
And, that is what we did.
The process was, naturally, a time consuming affair and, believe it or not, it added up to nearly 5-years from the day we had begun our hunt till we managed to capture the treasure. And, the best part of it was that the treasure had been unearthed by my son himself - thanks to a matrimonial website. (to be continued …)
Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


Activists on kayaks protest against drilling for oil in Alaska

Disenchanted with rosy promises of a life with the ISIS, three British girls escape

Over 600 stranded migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar rescued by local fishermen

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Ancient 2000-year-old city of Palmyra in Syria targeted for destruction by ISIS

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The matrimonial ad was the first step of a 5-year-plan


Since I stayed in Nasik and since there was no provision to insert any ad in the Times of India in Nashik, I had to make a trip to Mumbai. It was a one-day affair. I went by the Panchavati Express. It left Nashik Road station at 7.30am and reached Mumbai at 11.30am. My work was only at the office of the newspaper and, once I completed the formalities, I came out and went to the Mumbai Central bus stop. There I had a light lunch and took a bus back home.
The first batch of responses arrived within the fortnight. The ad was under a Box Number to maintain confidentiality and the address I had given was that of my office. The replies had been dispatched from Mumbai through courier.
Then came the weeding out process. It was a time consuming matter and the final decision needed to be one that had the approval of all three of us – my wife, my son and myself. First I wrote down my preferences on a sheet of paper and then asked my wife to note down hers. Then we gave the bunch to my junior for indicating his.
Well - there was hardly any common factor in our thoughts.
By the time we finished with the first batch of responses, there arrived the next batch. And, there followed a similar exercise. Still no consensus.
The third batch came but, only a few.
We sat down once again, took stock of the situation and decided to send out a few replies and that is how our 5-year plan took off – it was: operation ‘bride hunting’. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

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Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


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Disenchanted with rosy promises of a life with the ISIS, three British girls escape

Over 600 stranded migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar rescued by local fishermen

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Search for a daughter-in-law is a complicated matter


I had never expected the search for a suitable daughter-in-law to be such a complicated affair. My son had his schooling in co-educational school and college and, many of his friends had selected their life partners on their own – from among their circle of friends. Thereby, their parents had no headaches. But, I was not so lucky.
Before embarking on our mission DIL (daughter in law!!), I asked my wife to check with our son if he had anyone in his sights and, once he assured that the line was clear, we began our behind the scenes activities. And, so it came to pass that we began by contacting parents of prospective brides based on newspaper advertisements.
The responses were, at times out of this world and, my wife and I realized how little we know about human behavior and their expectations. We wanted an alliance from our own caste. No matter what others may say, a permanent alliance like a marriage should be between like-minded individuals and, if the caste is same, plenty of problems become non-existent.
Obviously, caste was one of our requirements and, of course, the usual about being qualified, fair, and handsome.
Replies would come with photographs and write-ups - and, the photos would be returned with regret notes from our side. And, in order to cater to these returns, I had to maintain a stock of envelopes and postage stamps.
Needless to say, this became an extracurricular activity of sorts for my wife and me – she would get to read the replies first because those would arrive by post. Once I came home after work, she would show me the replies. And, finally, my son would have a look-in.
However, since we were unable to zero-in on a suitable bride in our initial search, we decided to insert an ad in the Times of India. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


Activists on kayaks protest against drilling for oil in Alaska

Disenchanted with rosy promises of a life with the ISIS, three British girls escape

Over 600 stranded migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar rescued by local fishermen

British spy chiefs recruiting computer geeks for £27,913 to help fight terrorists, criminal gangs and hackers

Ancient 2000-year-old city of Palmyra in Syria targeted for destruction by ISIS

I become a detective to trace a missing consignment


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Venturing into the world of matrimony


The world of matrimony is a very sensitive field and, only the experts can find their way out of the labyrinth. There are pitfalls galore and one has to be careful of selection of a suitable match for either the son or the daughter. In spite of the best of intentions, the alliance may not finally gel – and, then, those who had taken the initiative would have to bear the brunt of the attack and criticism.
Therefore, when the time came for me to find out a suitable match for my son, it was several months of searching the matrimonial ad columns in leading Bengali newspapers. For that, I used to get the paper by post on a monthly basis.
In those days, contacts would be maintained through handwritten letters and the regular task of my wife and me was to minutely go through the ads that appeared on Sundays. I had prepared and kept my son’s bio-data ready and, after a few lines of communication in the form of a brief letter, would attach a copy of the bio-data and post them. In most of the cases, a reply would come and that would be the first step towards forming a permanent relationship.
But, Man is a creature that is difficult to satisfy. The search for a suitable bride for my son was gradually turning out to be a process that was more complicated than I had ever imagined. I was afraid that my search for a stick would see me at the end of the forest without laying my hands on the exact type of stick I had in mind.
Therefore, apart from sending replies to ads of others, my wife and I decided to post an ad in the papers from our side and see what sort of response we get. (to be continued …)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


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Saturday, May 16, 2015

I am unable to walk – my doctors send me to Mumbai hospital


It happened so suddenly that I was caught completely unawares. I woke up at night and when I put my foot on the ground, I could not stand upright. There was no strength in my legs – it seemed to be made of stone.
My wife got in a panic and called my son who was in the next room. He supported me and I walked down one step at a time to the scooter downstairs. Then he took me to the hospital and the duty doctor put me on traction.
It was a sort of dislocation in the hip joint and must have happened when I had taken the car battery stairs for charging. Whatever it be, I was in trouble and, with my mobility in the factory affected, my bosses felt that I should get better treatment. They discussed the matter with the Doctors and they asked me to go to Mumbai and get the opinion of an orthopedic specialist.
Since HAL had links with major hospitals in Mumbai and all I had to do was to go there armed with the necessary papers and authority. Therefore, I left for Mumbai – accompanied by my wife. We traveled by the Gitanjali Express in which short-distance passengers were not allowed. But, the TTE was kind enough to allow me in view of my medical condition.
My brother stayed in Worli, Mumbai, and he had sent across his car. We spent the night in his flat and next morning went to the hospital. The orthopedic specialist was a Bengali doctor and he examined selected number of patients while his juniors examined the others.
I had come from HAL and, hence, I was in his special category.
He went through the papers, asked me about my problems and then picked up a rubber mallet and lightly tapped my knees. Then he asked me to stand on tiptoe and walk around the room. Finally, he gave his advice – ‘behave normally, nothing serious has happened to you’.
His assurance itself was a huge relief to me. (Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last year by Boko Haram have vanished

Journey to freedom – 5800 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean

Indonesian smugglers stuff yellow-crested cockatoos into plastic bottles to get past customs

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Dozens of corpses found in bamboo cages in Thai human trafficking camp

Quick tour of Delhi by ITDC bus


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Sipping tea and munching biscuits of unknown pedigree on the way to Korwa


This was the occasion when one of the senior officers wanted to visit HAL Lucknow and HAL Korwa to get acquainted with the working methods. And, he wanted me to accompany him because of the personal relationship that I had developed with the senior officers in the sister divisions.
Of course, I will always remain grateful to my Bengali boss who had rated me ‘below average’ in my ACR which deprived me of a promotion. But, because of his rating and my subsequent transfer, I got an opportunity to develop a few qualities that I never knew lay dormant within me. The qualities of being confident, interacting with people of different types at different levels.
I firmly believe that whatever happens in ones life is always for his good and he should accept it. Initially, it may not improve the feel good factor but, in due course, it will prove beneficial.
Anyway, since the officer was in a senior position, I need not worry about transportation. A car picked me up from my quarter, he was already seated in the car. We traveled by road to Mumbai Guest house where we stayed for the night. In the morning, we went to the airport and took the flight to Lucknow – it was an Indian Airlines flight via New Delhi.
We stayed at Lucknow for one day and next morning we left by a car for Korwa. It was a distance of around 140-Km. I had traveled on this stretch earlier by HAL bus and had seen that there are no eating joints worth its name on the route. The only place is Rae Bareilly which is about half way.
I had, therefore, suggested to my companion that we could take breakfast in the Guest House and then leave for Korwa but, he decided to leave by 6am hoping that we could take in some snacks on the way but that was not to be. The complete stretch of road was devoid of any settlement – there were only miles of land with huge mango trees. Fortunately, we saw a tiny tea shop – the owner was just opening the door and, seeing a car stop and us getting out, he hurriedly lit the oven and made some tea for us. We took it gladly along with some biscuits of unknown pedigree.
In those days, there was no mobile phone but, anticipating our arrival, the people at Korwa had kept breakfast ready. And, the first thing we did on arrival was to sit down for breakfast. It was heavenly – bread, butter, omelet and strong coffee. (to be continued …) (Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My duty takes me to Hyderabad and Golconda Fort


As I have mentioned earlier, HAL Nashik Division was receiving supplies of accessories from sister divisions of HAL and, while Lucknow and Korwa supplied mechanical accessories and specific avionics items, Hyderabad was responsible to supply avionics items.
The supplies were smooth and regular and there was hardly any reason to complain but, problems arose when certain spares were not forthcoming from American suppliers. One may question why Americans should supply items for a Russian aircraft. The reason was that the Indian Air Force had replaced certain avionics items of Russian origin with items of American items and, there were disruption in supplies due to political considerations.
The US had imposed sanctions on defense supplies to India as a result of the Pokhran II nuclear test in 1998, hence I was asked to proceed to Hyderabad to get a first-hand picture.
Accordingly, I left by the Kacheguda Express from Manmad – the train left at 5.30pm and next morning by 9am, I was at Hyderabad. I took a cab to the HAL Guest House and checked in – I met a couple of officers and got the general briefing on the problems and efforts being made by Hyderabad to tackle the problems.
I had some more meetings the next day and in the evening, I went to the office of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation APTDC and booked a sightseeing tour. The bus left by 9am and I had to hire an auto rickshaw to reach the pickup point in time. Of course, I had some time on hand and had a sumptuous breakfast of super-size idi-wada sambhar.
The tour was a good one – it covered all important tourist attractions of Hyderabad like the Husseinsagar Lake with the huge stone statue of Buddha in the middle, Salar Jung museum with the man who came out of his cell to strike the hour, and Golconda Fort which was a marvel of engineering. The tour ended by 5.30pm and I returned back to the Guest House. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommoms.org)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last year by Boko Haram have vanished

Journey to freedom – 5800 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean

Indonesian smugglers stuff yellow-crested cockatoos into plastic bottles to get past customs

Engineering graduate of Hyderabad goes astray, dies because of links with ISIS

Dozens of corpses found in bamboo cages in Thai human trafficking camp

Quick tour of Delhi by ITDC bus


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

Another interesting blog - Violence and atrocities

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I manage a special quota reservation from Lucknow to Nashik Road


This happened when I could not get reservation from Lucknow to come back to Nashik.
There were two trains – one was the Kushinagar Express, the other was the Pushpak Express. The problem was that while the timing of Pushpak was good, it did not have any scheduled halt at Nashik Road. It left Lucknow at 7.30pm and crossed Nashik Road at around 4.30pm next day. Since I traveled light with only a suitcase and an airbag, I had taken chances on a couple of occasions with Pushpak by alighting from the train when it slowed down at Manmad. This station was the one before Nashik Road and took two hours by bus from the station to come home.
Of course, on a second occasion, I was able to alight at Nashik Road itself while on a third occasion, I was taken on to Igatpuri – the next station from Nashik Road. It was a two hour journey back to Nashik Road and another one hour to my home.
The reason for opting for Pushpsak Express was that it originated at Lucknow itself and, hence, it was easy to get reservations unlike Kushingar for which Lucknow was a wayside station and, hence, reservation quota was limited.
Well – on this occasion, there was no reservation available in either of these trains and I was in a dilemma. When I discussed my predicament with my friends in the factory, one of them suggested that I go to the offices of Northern Railway and put in an application for getting a reservation from one of the special quota.
It seems some berths are kept aside for police, military, political leaders etcetera and these are released to wait-listed passengers at the last minute.
That is what I did. When I reached the offices, its employees were still arriving. I waited for the concerned gentleman to arrive and occupy his seat. Then I explained my position to him. He gave me a patient hearing and then asked me to put in an application which I did. He accepted my application and told me to check out the reservation chart. Well – my plan had succeeded. I had got a reservation by the Kushinagar Express. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.com)

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Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

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Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I become a detective to trace a missing consignment


It was supposed to be a regular movement of consignments from Nashik Road to Lucknow by the Indian Railways. As per practice, the items to be shipped would be suitably packed and dispatched to the railway station for onward movement to Lucknow. Usually, it would reach the consignee within a week.
Of course, there would be delays and uncertainties during the grape season because grapes are perishable and their movements cannot be delayed. Therefore in such cases, delays were inevitable.
However, if there was urgency, the goods would be sent under escort – and the escort would have to liaise with the railway staff and porters to ensure that the aircraft spares got priority.
The system that had been agreed upon between Nashik and the recipients Lucknow and Korwa divisions was that a message indicating dispatch details would be sent once the consignment had left Nashik. And – one day, it suddenly transpired that an important consignment had not been received by Lucknow. The stores personnel of Lucknow had checked with the railway authorities at their end and there was virtually no trace of it.
Therefore I was told to make a trip to Lucknow and locate the missing consignment.
That was the first time I went into the goods store at Lucknow railway station. I had the dispatch details and I first checked the inward goods register maintained by the store clerk. I went through date wise beginning with the date the consignment had left Nashik Road.
I even went through the goods stacked in the racks and piled up in corners.
Then I kept a watch on how goods are taken from the trains and moved into the goods stores.
I was at this exercise for three or four days when suddenly I got an idea – did the consignment go ahead to Gorakhpur, the terminus of the Kushinagar Express, instead of being unloaded at Lucknow? I immediately contacted the Station Master and requested him to check with his counterpart at Gorakhpur.
Fortunately, my guess was correct – the goods were physically at Gorakhpur and the station master promised to move them by the next train.
That was a big load off my chest. (to be continued ..)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last year by Boko Haram have vanished

Journey to freedom – 5800 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean

Indonesian smugglers stuff yellow-crested cockatoos into plastic bottles to get past customs

Engineering graduate of Hyderabad goes astray, dies because of links with ISIS

Dozens of corpses found in bamboo cages in Thai human trafficking camp

Quick tour of Delhi by ITDC bus


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

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Monday, May 11, 2015

I am asked to fly to Lucknow at short notice


A team of officers had come from Air Headquarters for a meeting with HAL Nashik. It was a long and never ending meeting that began after lunch and went on till dinner time. The dinner was in the HAL Guest House along with the visiting officers. After dinner, the team assembled in the computer room because the subject was related to computerization and the computer staff including some of the girls had been asked to stay back.
Suddenly, my boss took me aside and told me to pack up and go home. The reason? I would have to leave for Lucknow the next day to obtain the latest status on Lucknow and Korwa supplies for a meeting of the MDs of the two complexes. I would have to fly from Mumbai to Lucknow and my air tickets would be kept ready in the Mumbai Guest House.
Well – when I arrived home my wife was surprised. It was around 9.30pm and she had not expected me so early. I explained to her and then rang up Mumbai Guest House. The Manager had already got the message from my boss and confirmed that the air-ticket would be kept ready.
Relieved, I packed my briefcase and went to sleep. Next morning I left by bus for Mumbai and arrived at the Guest House by afternoon. I rested for the night and the company car dropped me at the domestic lounge of Santa Cruz airport. My flight was an Indian Airlines Mumbai-Lucknow flight via New Delhi.
At New Delhi, there was a halt. Most of the passengers alighted and a few new members boarded – they were for Lucknow. One of them was a burly woman loaded with several bags. Most of the bags contained toys!!
Anyway, when the plane landed at Lucknow, I got out of the lounge and was nabbed by cab drivers. There was a pre-paid booth from where I could get a cab but the counter was empty. The drivers standing around were enjoying my predicament.
Finally one of them came up to me and agreed to take me to HAL Guest House and gave me an official receipt also for me to claim the expenses. (to be continued …)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last year by Boko Haram have vanished

Journey to freedom – 5800 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean

Indonesian smugglers stuff yellow-crested cockatoos into plastic bottles to get past customs

Engineering graduate of Hyderabad goes astray, dies because of links with ISIS

Dozens of corpses found in bamboo cages in Thai human trafficking camp

Quick tour of Delhi by ITDC bus


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Waterlogged trip to Lucknow during the monsoons


That was a trip to HAL Lucknow that I will never forget. It was during the monsoon season and a colleague was accompanying me. When we boarded the Kushinagar Express at Nashik Road, we did not know what the future had in store for us. The trouble began shortly after the train left Bhopal. The train came to a standstill and no one knew the reason for the sudden holdup.
After an hour or so, the train began to roll but it was not picking up speed – it was moving as if it was doing so with reluctance. By that time we realized that the route of the train was being diverted because of waterlogging of the tracks. There had been heavy rainfall in the surrounding regions and, hence, the train would crawl to its destination.
Well – the pantry car put u its hands. There was no food, not even tea and snacks. The wayside stations were no solutions and we had to just keep waiting till a big station came up – and, when it finally came, it was Lucknow.
The scheduled time of arrival of Kushinagar Express at Lucknow was 4am, we had arrived at 8pm. Once the train stopped, my colleague and I made a beeline for the refreshment room, ordered a cup of strong tea and then a plate of bread-butter sandwich and omelet. Realizing that we would not get dinner at the Guest House, we ordered a second round of sandwich-omelet. After that, we took a cycle rickshaw to the Guest House. (to be continued …)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last year by Boko Haram have vanished

Journey to freedom – 5800 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean

Indonesian smugglers stuff yellow-crested cockatoos into plastic bottles to get past customs

Engineering graduate of Hyderabad goes astray, dies because of links with ISIS

Dozens of corpses found in bamboo cages in Thai human trafficking camp

Quick tour of Delhi by ITDC bus


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

Another interesting blog - Violence and atrocities

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A new destination Korwa gets added


After a couple of trips to Lucknow, I had to proceed to Korwa – there was another unit of HAL in that location and it also was a supplier for Nashik. Hence, I had to maintain a follow-up with them also during my visits to Lucknow. This was because Korwa was about two hours distance from Lucknow and it was possible to go in the morning and return back same night.
Korwa was located in Amethi – the Parliamentary constituency of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi but, the upkeep of the railway station and the development of the village and surrounding areas left a lot to be desired.
Communication was terrible and there used to be a HAL bus at the station and its timing was linked to important trains.
The HAL Korwa unit had been established with a view of developing the region but the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi put a stop to all activities. In fact, as the bus traveled out from the station, one could see many incomplete buildings, and shops.
The first time I went to Korwa, I was in a hurry. I boarded the train from Lucknow at around 10am and reached Amehi at 12 – from there, I took the bus and arrived at the factory by 1.30pm. The officer I was supposed to meet was waiting for me. He had received intimation about my coming. Both of us had lunch in the canteen and then we held a quick conference with other officers, prepared the record of discussions and made a beeline for the station. There was a train to Lucknow at around 6pm and I wanted to avail that.
Well, the first shock I had when I reached Amethi station was electricity failure – there was not a single light on the platform, all shops were in darkness with tiny lamps providing illumination. When a train rolled in, there was a mad rush in the darkness and I somehow managed to enter a compartment and finally reached Lucknow by 9pm. I knew there would not be any dinner left in the Guest House – so, I finished my dinner of rumali roti and kebabs at a wayside shop outside the station. (to be continued …)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last year by Boko Haram have vanished

Journey to freedom – 5800 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean

Indonesian smugglers stuff yellow-crested cockatoos into plastic bottles to get past customs

Engineering graduate of Hyderabad goes astray, dies because of links with ISIS

Dozens of corpses found in bamboo cages in Thai human trafficking camp

Quick tour of Delhi by ITDC bus


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Trip to HAL Lucknow becomes a regular affair


My first trip to Lucknow was one of familiarizing myself with a new territory and gaining the confidence of others at not just the working level but, also at senior levels. Trust and confidence can play vital roles in any arrangement and, for this, I will always be grateful to my new boss who made me feel important.
I remember his telephone calls that would come to me by exception and, invariably, the purpose of those calls would be to test out my efficiency.
For example – one morning he rang up and gave me the part number of an item. It seems IAF wanted the item badly and they rang up to him and he, in turn, asked me to get the information about its availability. Well – immediately, I set my wheels in motion. I rang up here and there and, within half an hour, I had gathered enough information. I was like Hanuman with the Mount Rishabha, a mountain in which was hidden the herb that would cure Lakshman-ji.
My boss was satisfied and, after testing out my abilities through some more similar cases, he came to rely on my information system. That was a huge boost to my confidence.
Anyway, after my first visit to Lucknow, it became a regular feature once every three months because such interdependency between divisions of HAL was a new concept and there were innumerable hurdles to be sorted out. Therefore, a close follow-up was necessary to smoothen out the bumps.
Therefore, I would book a berth in the Kushinagar Express that originated in Mumbai and went on to Kushinagar, a district in north Uttar Pradesh. Lucknow was on its route and, hence, it was a convenient mode of transport for me. But, the timing was terrible – its arrival time at Nashik Road station was 2.30am and it reached Lucknow at 4am. (to be continued …)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last year by Boko Haram have vanished

Journey to freedom – 5800 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean

Indonesian smugglers stuff yellow-crested cockatoos into plastic bottles to get past customs

Engineering graduate of Hyderabad goes astray, dies because of links with ISIS

Dozens of corpses found in bamboo cages in Thai human trafficking camp

Quick tour of Delhi by ITDC bus


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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Getting to know HAL Lucknow


I knew a few officers of HAL Lucknow by name and, once in the Division, my first task was to locate these gentlemen. They must have got information about my coming and I had to get to first base with them. I had heard that people of Lucknow love to have cordial relationships and respect the other man. The popular saying ‘pahele aap’ is their philosophy. ‘Pehele aap’ means you get the right of way.
Anyway, within a few hours, my circle of acquaintances in HAL Lucknow had grown. And, among them was an officer who had, once upon a time, been employed in Nashik. Naturally, he recollected his past days in Nashik and I updated him. He invited me over to his quarters for dinner and, during duty hours, he helped me out in resolving a number of technical issues.
My boss had asked me to provide daily feedback on the progress of follow-up activities and, at the end of the day, I would sit with the HAL Lucknow bosses and prepare my feedback in consultation with them. That way, we maintained the same frequency.
I was at Lucknow for one week and, in between, my Nashik acquaintance took me around in his Maruti van for sightseeing. We took in the British Residency, Bara Imambara, Moti Mahal, and Clock Tower and, of course, Hasratganj, It was important that I build rapport with people who matter in Lucknow because that would help in ensuring continuity of work at both ends. Nashik had to send the accessories to Lucknow for overhaul and return. In case there was delay at any end, the total work plan would get disrupted and that needed to be avoided. Therefore, I had to take on the role of troubleshooter. (to be continued…)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub

EU realizes the curse of plastic carry bags – to banish the bags

100 cities in India would turn into Smart Cities

Pet Pomeranians of Surat married off, 500 wedding guests enjoy the feast

Woman kills her husband because of his dark complexion

Baltimore on fire as protest over death of a black youth in police custody spirals out of control

‘Papri’ and ‘Barood’ - collection of Bengali short stories published from Nashik

British Army wants computer whizzkids to counter the growing menace of ISIS propaganda


Durga Puja - priest dancing with devotee (YouTube video)

Onion parathas (YouTube video)

Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Landing up at Lucknow railway station at 4am


As I have already mentioned earlier, I had to keep moving out on official duties to different places. When I was I customer services department, I had to go to Indian Air Force bases because they were our customers. Later, when I set up my own department, I had to liaise with sister divisions of HAL. These sister divisions were in Lucknow, Korwa and Hyderabad. They were a part of the accessories complex and were entrusted with the responsibility of supplying new accessories of MiG-27 aircraft and also, servicing and repairing them.
Therefore, since the MiG-27 aircraft would arrive at Nashik for overhaul, we had to remove the accessories and send them to the respective divisions for overhauling and return back to Nashik. Subsequently, these would be fitted on the aircraft during overhaul and handed back to the IAF.
My responsibility was to keep track of dispatch and receipt of these individual units and maintain a continuous follow-up with the respective divisions. And, in order to do this efficiently, I had arranged to develop a computerized system.
For this and other such development activities on computers, I was fortunate to have with me a trainee engineer who happened to be the son of one of my colleagues. The kid was smart and could anticipate my requirements and, accordingly, introduce suitable changes in the system.
Anyway, one morning, I received a phone call from my boss. The time was around 10am – and, when I entered his office, I saw him browsing through a file. He motioned to me to take a seat and, pushing aside the file, looked me in the eye and said – Ghose, you have to make a trip to Lucknow.
When? – I asked him.
Today, he said. Go to the cash section, collect some advance and take the first available train. I want you to get the updated supply status of Lucknow and fax it to me. I also want you to create a man-to-man rapport with your counterparts in Lucknow.
Yes Sir, I said and left.
I went home, told my wife about the sudden development and got a suitcase ready. Then after dinner, I left for the railway station. I did not have any reservation and, therefore, boarded the Punjab Mail. It left at 9pm and reached Jhansi by midnight. Fortunately, there was another train from Jhansi to Lucknow waiting at another platform and I boarded it. By the time I reached Lucknow, it was 4am and I was famished. I took a cycle rickshaw from the station to HAL Guest House and found it in total darkness. Somehow I woke up the guard and walked into a new world. (to be continued …)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


EU realizes the curse of plastic carry bags – to banish the bags

100 cities in India would turn into Smart Cities

Pet Pomeranians of Surat married off, 500 wedding guests enjoy the feast

Woman kills her husband because of his dark complexion

Baltimore on fire as protest over death of a black youth in police custody spirals out of control

‘Papri’ and ‘Barood’ - collection of Bengali short stories published from Nashik

British Army wants computer whizzkids to counter the growing menace of ISIS propaganda


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

Another interesting blog - Violence and atrocities


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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Quick tour of Delhi by ITDC bus


Whenever I have gone to a new place I have tried to squeeze in some time for local sightseeing and Delhi was no exception. There was an intervening Saturday and Sunday and I decided to use this opportunity to go for sightseeing of Delhi.
I booked a ticket for the Sunday by ITDC which had its offices in Connaught Place. If I remember correctly, it was a full day tour beginning at 8am and breaking up at Red Fort where it arrived in the late afternoon. The intention was that if anyone wanted to see the Light and Sound (Son-et-Lumiere program) in the Red Fort, he could avail that opportunity.
Of course, I had to return back to my Guest House and missed the Light and Sound program.
The charge per head for the sightseeing was around Rs 30 or Rs 35.
We had a good guide who explained the different places where we either stopped for some time or passed by and the important spots were religious landmarks like the Laxmi Narayan Temple, Bahai Temple, Jama Masjid and the Birla Mandir. Other places of interest were the Jantar Mantar, Red Fort, India Gate and Qutab Minar.
And, of course, Dilli Haat where the halt was a long one because the tourists wanted to buy gifts from the hundreds of shops where the artisans were at work creating masterpieces of handicrafts.
I don’t recollect where exactly the bus stopped for lunch but there were innumerable stalls of chana-bhatura which appeared to be a favorite of Delhiites. (to be continued …)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


EU realizes the curse of plastic carry bags – to banish the bags

100 cities in India would turn into Smart Cities

Pet Pomeranians of Surat married off, 500 wedding guests enjoy the feast

Woman kills her husband because of his dark complexion

Baltimore on fire as protest over death of a black youth in police custody spirals out of control

‘Papri’ and ‘Barood’ - collection of Bengali short stories published from Nashik

British Army wants computer whizzkids to counter the growing menace of ISIS propaganda


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

Another interesting blog - Violence and atrocities


Durga Puja - priest dancing with devotee (YouTube video)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Zoom off from New Delhi to Kolkata by Rajdhani Express for Kolkata Boi Mela


My first working level meeting with the Russian delegation was in January 1995.
It was a new experience as well as a bit of a problem for me because I had to also attend the Kolkata Boi Mela and the dates clashed. The Boi Mela usually took place in the last week of January and went on till first week of February and the meeting was in the 2nd week of January.
My transfer had already affected the publication of Naba Nalanda. Moreover, along with my transfer, one of my partners became a patient of diabetes – therefore, our Sunday visits to the industrial hub of Nashik to collect ads took a beating. The publication was a sort of joint enterprise and, with me unable to devote time because of my new assignment and my partner unable to extend support because of restrictions imposed on him by the doctors, we realized that Naba Nalanda would die a natural death.
In spite of that, we had booked a stall in the Boi Mela of 1995 and my partner had gone on ahead to prepare the stalls. I was supposed to meet up with him directly from Delhi after the meeting with the Russian delegation.
Therefore, I took my boss into confidence and booked a ticket to Kolkata by the Rajdhani Express. My boss cautioned me to return back to Nashik at the earliest and, also suggested that I try to stay away from the publication business since it was impractical to devote equal attention to my profession and my hobby. I had to sacrifice one.
I also knew as much and, my participation in the 1995 Kolkata Boi Mela was our last one. (to be continued …)

A few more must reads -

Nashik Kumbhmela 2015 – a once in 12-years pilgrimage

Trip to Nashik should take in Shirdi and the Ajanta and Ellora caves

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the epic Ramayana

Nashik, a tourist center with links to the Mahabharata

Kumbhmela 2015 in Nashik – guided tours to wineries and vineyards

Nashik transforms from a place of pilgrimage to an industrial hub


EU realizes the curse of plastic carry bags – to banish the bags

100 cities in India would turn into Smart Cities

Pet Pomeranians of Surat married off, 500 wedding guests enjoy the feast

Woman kills her husband because of his dark complexion

Baltimore on fire as protest over death of a black youth in police custody spirals out of control

‘Papri’ and ‘Barood’ - collection of Bengali short stories published from Nashik

British Army wants computer whizzkids to counter the growing menace of ISIS propaganda


Another interesting blog - Citizen Journalist

Another interesting blog - Violence and atrocities


Durga Puja - priest dancing with devotee (YouTube video)