Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Animals in Indian movies


Haathi Mera Saathi (1971) was a hit movie that featured an elephant – the hero was Rajesh Khanna, heroine Tanuja and whether the popularity of the movie was due to the presence of the stars or the elephant could be a matter of debate.
Apart from that, animals like monkeys and dogs have appeared briefly in many movies apart from snakes because snakes or nags are a much loved topic of Indians – these snakes provide an opportunity to the heroines to perform the snake dance swaying to rhythmic and, at times, haunting music. The snakes are believed to be reincarnations of couples separated by evil men and they return to seek revenge on those who had wronged them.
Then there have been the tigers – invariably, long shots of the big cats are first taken and then merged with close-ups of the hero wrestling with dummy tigers.
Dogs have also been seen in Bollywood movies – there was a pomeranian Tuffy in the movie Hum Aapke Hain Kaun starring Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit. It not only umpired a cricket match but did baby sitting and played Cupid.
However, in contrast, the 1985 film, Teri Meherbaniyaan, had a dog named Moti. It avenges the death of its master, Ram (Jackie) and his wife Bijli (Poonam Dhillon) by hunting down the killers and tears them to pieces.
Such movies ae unthinkable today because of censorship and restrictions imposed on animals by PETA and their likes.
Animals in Indian movies play insignificantly small roles unlike Bollywood movies where they hold prime pace – like monkeys in ‘Dunston comes to town’ or ‘Monkey trouble’ or dogs in ‘101 Dalmatians’, elephants in ‘Hatari’. Then there are the ones like ‘Jaws’, ‘Anaconda’, ‘Pirhana’ and ‘Ratatoulle’ where animation adds a new dimension to the storylines. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Indian movies and ghosts


After twins and rebirth, another favorite topic for Indian movies is ghosts – these are believed to be figments of one’s imagination and common sense dictates that such issues should be ignored. But, some movie makers try to make ghosts appear to be real and conjure up situations that keep one on the edge and forces him to admit that such situations may be real and ghost might exist – ghosts that do not harm but try to do good.
A couple of ghost movies are ‘Hello Brother’ of Bollywood and ‘Bhooter Bhabishyat’ of Tollywood. Incidentally, the first is a remake of an English movie and, while the second one is a product of the Bengali minds, its idea has already been copied into a Hindi version ‘Gang of Ghosts’.
‘Bhooter Bhabishyat(2012)’ translates into ‘Gang of Ghosts(2014)’ and the story is set in an old mansion which is deserted but where a whole lot of ghosts have taken up residence. The problem faced by ghosts in the city of Kolkata is the shortage of space because, old buildings are being demolished and new malls and multi-storied buildings are coming up in their place. Hence, the ghosts are being shunted out and they are desperate to get accommodation in any building that has still not yet changed hands.
It is a story set in the world of today but some of the ghosts who reside there belong to the times of the British!! The set, the period costumes and furniture, the characters - all of them recall fond memories of days gone by. There is also a generous inter-sprinkling of modern lifestyles thanks to ghosts of a modern day singer and a hoodlum who was a victim of inter-gang rivalry.
As to ‘Hello Brother’ it was a Salman Khan Rani Mukherjee starrer of 1999 – the story revolved around Salman Khan. He had been killed Shakti Kapoor and becomes a good ghost trying to punish Shakti. When Arbaz Khan, the police inspector descends on the scene, Salman helps him to nail Shakti. The movie is a copy of Hollywood movie ‘Twin Brothers’ of Jackie Chan.(to be continued ...)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Movies on rebirth – hot favorites of Bollywood


After twins, another popular genre of Bollywood movies is the one about rebirth. Although there are not too many Bollywood movies on this, the ones that have seen the light of day have been blockbusters. The general theme is usually about revenge that the wronged one takes and the storylines are designed accordingly with plenty of scope for song and dance sequences.
In real life there are many stories of rebirth – like the 10-year-old kid from Oklahoma. He believed that he was the reincarnation of Hollywood actor Marty Martyn, a man who died in 1964. He even recounted to his mother stories of meeting Rita Hayworth, dancing on Broadway, traveling overseas and working at an agency.
There are 10 other interesting cases of rebirth here.
Or - a kid suddenly starts to talk about a long lost family in a totally different part of the country. His parents are puzzled, they discuss the matter with their family and friends and even with local priests. They feel that some evil spirit has taken control of the boy. The boy keeps repeating strange facts and stories of a past life. Finally, the parents decide to take the plunge and travel to the place as directed by the boy. And – once there, the boy begins to impress the people with his knowledge of intricate affairs of the family. That in short is rebirth – when one is reborn in a different family.
That is the theme of Bollywood movies on the theme of rebirth.
Only, in order to make it more dramatic, it is not about one stray rebirth but of two of them. It is certainly a bit of a coincidence but Bollywood movies thrive on coincidences.
The 1995 movie Karan-Arjun was about the rebirth of two brothers Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. They had, in their previous birth, been hunted down and killed by landlords of a village in Rajasthan. Their mother continues to threaten the landlord and his henchmen that one day, her sons would return to take revenge. And – that is exactly what happens. Another blockbuster rebirth movie was Om Shanti Om of 2007 - in this movie, Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone are killed and are reborn to take revenge against the man who had conspired to kill Deepika. Once again we see two rebirths, simultaneously. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Indian movies love twins


Indian movies love twins and movies made on them have always made the box office jingle and have never disappointed the producers or directors or the heroes and heroines. The storylines have usually been ‘lost and found’ cases where the twins get separated in childhood in places like the village fair, grow up in diametrically opposite surroundings and come together at the climax. In between, 18 reels would have unwound over at least three hours.
Indian movies with these of twins show one of them as meek, submissive, fear prone, and weak while the other character is just the opposite.
One of the earliest Bollywood movie with twins was in 1967 – it was Ram aur Shyam in which Dilip Kumar played the double role. Later there were other such movies like Seeta aur Geeta (Hema Malini 1972), Gora aur Kaala (Rajendra Kumar 1972), Chaalbaaz (Sridevi 1989), Kishen Kanhaiya (Anil Kapoor 1990) and Judwaa (Salman Khan 1997).
These movies draw crowds even when shown today – the storylines are tweaked for variety but, the end result is always the same. These provide a chance for the actors and actresses to show off their capabilities and talent.
In Seeta and Geeta, the heroine Hema Malini was superb as she portrayed two totally different roles in the 1972 film.
When Sridevi did her double role in Chaalbaaz, her fans swooned at her abilities to portray the role of a girl who loved her drinks.
Of course, supporting actors are also important to keep the interest of the audience alive.
In Seeta aur Geeta, the male leads were of Dharmendra and Sanjeev Kumar – both were admirably suited to their roles. In Chaalbaaz, the male leads were played by Rajnikant and Sunny Deol.
In all these ‘twin’ movies, the leading ladies and the men get ample scope to display their abilities to adapt to different needs of the story.
There have been Bollywood movies where the actor has done more than two roles in a single film – Sanjeev Kumar performed in nine roles in the 1974 movie Naya Din Nayee Raat. However, Priyanka Chopra went one better – she did 12 roles in the 2009 movie What’s Your Rashee? (to be continued …)

(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)
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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Disguises in Indian movies and TV


Disguise is what one resorts to in order to deceive others. When it is done in Hollywood movies, the result is convincing enough. We have seen examples in Face Off with Nicholas Cage and also in Mission Impossible II with Tom Cruise. The disguise is incorporated meticulously through use of molds and latex coverings and is as good as the original.
However, when it comes to the Indian scenario, disguise appears to be so simple. It has been going on for ages and, the heroines find it most convenient to wear a turban, don a coat and get a new identity of a Sadarji. The turban hides the hair and the coat conceals the girlish features.
As to the heroes – they wear a moustache and goggles and fake the voice. At times they will wear the disguise of an old man with a shaky voice carrying a walking stick. The apron of a Father of a church is also a fairly good disguise which had been effectively used by Amitabh Bachhan.
A moustache symbolizes a man – these are of different shapes and also have names like Hitler moustache, walrus moustache, handlebar moustache, pencil moustache, toothbrush mustache to name a few. It takes plenty of patience to maintain the moustache and it is taken to be a sign of being a man. There is even a Guinness World Record for the longest moustache.
However, our moviedom takes the moustache too lightly even though Amitabh Bachhan had remarked in the movie Sharabi – ‘mooche ho to Nathulal jaisa’.
Moustache is considered to be a great disguise by the Indian film makers – stick a moustache and the other party cannot recognize you. One of the best proof is in the movie Golmal – the vintage one with Utpal Dutta and Amol Palekar.
Another favorite disguise in Bollywood is wig coupled with stammering and a walking stick – they can transform a young man into an old one in need of support to walk. Like I S Johar in Shagird. This sort of change in appearance by wearing wigs have been seen in other movies like Shaan in which Amitabh Bachhan and Rishi Kapoor don the disguise of sadhus and walk into the water.(to be continued… )
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Skin show in Indian movies and TV


Indians are still conservative and hypocrites to the core, whether we like it or not. While most of the TV serials show the leading ladies dressed to kill in dresses that reveals very little of their bodies, the accompanying ads show the girls in all their glory posing for deodorants, undergarments, hair removers, mobile phones and what not.
In order to control the urge of growing up girls from showing off too much skin and cleavage, colleges introduce strict dress codes and, in some cities, there sprout up moral policing brigades who try to ensure that the image of Indians are not sullied.
Skin show in English movies come naturally to the actresses because they do not feel embarrassed to shed their clothes in front of the production team consisting of the photographer, the director and host of other persons who have to be in attendance so that the sequence is filmed properly in the first shot itself. Getting intimate is a part of the script and they do not hesitate to do it, whether it be passionate love scenes and kisses or scenes in the bed itself and not just in the bedroom.
However, the same cannot be said about Indian movies. Here censorship is strict and skin show is taboo as such but there have been some enterprising directors who have managed to circumvent the barriers. Of course, they did not dare to go the whole hog – instead they have experimented and are still experimenting to see how far is far enough.
Gone are the days when the hero and heroine would come close and hold hands around the trunk of a tree which acted as the separator. Or – their lips would keep getting closer and closer for a kiss when a bird would suddenly fly away disturbing the concentration. Or - when a pair of birds are shown playing with each other’s beaks as a symbolic gesture of a kiss.
However, things are gradually changing and the Indian heroines are becoming bold as is the audience. The heroines do not hesitate to show off their assets. They do it not only via photo shoots but by donning dresses that reveal more than they hide. Thanks to the reach of the internet and being exposed to western cultures, everyone has shed their inhibitions. Group dances in which the heroine takes part with scantily clad dancers does not raise eyebrows any longer. Probably it is the influence of IPL cheer girls who had taken the Indian scene by storm as well as the ads of some TV commercials that had hordes of the scantily clad girls.(to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

TV and close association with Gods and festivals


Indians are a God fearing lot and, no matter how liberal we may project ourselves to be, the fact remains that we are still haunted by superstition. We still have full faith in God and know that he will always stand by our side and deliver us from all evil. That is why the set on practically every TV serial will have a space devoted to God.
This in-house temple will be a place where all family members will assemble – not just to pray on regular festivals but also to pray for a death-bed member of the family to recover. He (or she) might have been involved in a serious head on collision on the road. The accident would have been engineered by a member of the family who is not on good terms with the victim or who feels he has been wronged.
The spot of red on the forehead of the victim would signify the seriousness of the injury. And, the prayer sessions in front of God would prove that God can perform miracles, doctors are not really necessary. Once in a while, the prayer venue would shift to an outside temple – or even a temple in the premises of the hospital.
So much so for praying to God on selfish motives. There are other occasions to pray and celebrate and that is during festival times and, in the Indian calendar, there is no shortage of festivals.
Regular and large scale festivals mean Dussera, Diwali, Holi, and Ganesh festival and others include kite festival, karwa chauth etcetera. And then, there are the marriage rituals right from the pre wedding song and dances to the actual marriage ceremonies. On these occasions, the stars of the glittering world of TV grab the chance to showcase latest fashion trends and the online business of the products soars.
That is what TV is all about – enjoy and let others enjoy, let business flourish, let there be smiles on people’s faces. As an ad of a popular two-wheeler goes – why should boys have all the fun? Let the fun not be restricted to only a few. (to be continued …)
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

News on TV channels go from dull to attractive


Dishing out news has always been an important part of any TV channel but, over the years the method of serving the news has changed considerably with plenty of sophistication. TV was considered to be an audio-visual medium meant to report happenings from not just within the country but also from abroad.
When TV took off in India, Doordarshan was the only channel and it had set certain high standards for its news readers. They had to adhere to specific dress codes, had to always maintain a straight face and were forbidden to express their feelings. And, the number of newsreaders were limited.
In those golden olden days, commercial ads were also there but they were limited and the interruptions used to carry an apology of sorts – ‘rukawat ke liye khed hai’. Today, ads go on and on, sometimes the same set of ads keep being repeated. As a friend remarked, such time gaps can be used to finish pending jobs in the kitchen or making a phone call that you had been keeping pending.
However, all of a sudden, the air space was invaded with a whole lot of new entities and television emerged in new avatars – some were devoted to entertainment, others to movies or to sports while still others dealt with only news. For the children, there were cartoons channels and for those who wanted to add to their knowledge, there were channels like the National Geographic.
Obviously, television spawned a whole new range of professions which in turn gave rise to grooming schools – and, all of these helped the cause of reducing unemployment. With the advent of reality shows of music, the grooming was not confined to just brushing up on the sa-re-ga-ma-pa but also on how to present oneself on stage, how to face the media, how to reply to questions, how to interact with people etcetera.
This was all the more important because the concept of on-the-spot reporting blossomed and OBVs brought the latest news from the location within minutes of it happening.
Once upon a time seats in University courses like journalism or mass communication used to go a-begging, today these are much sought after. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The changed face of TV serials


Indian TV depicts unbelievable lifestyles of the rich – millionaire families in the serials have only one servant to take care of a household of around ten highly influential individuals who always remain dressed from head to toe in all their finery? They can make things happen in the twinkling of an eye. The city they live in boasts of only one road, one hospital, and one temple.
And, in the family, the heroine is the medicine for all evil even though she continues to earn the wrath of some of the characters. She wants to help anyone in the family who has a problem but her noble intentions are not allowed to take fruit thanks to some evil characters who plot to spoil her party.
The answer is – yes, TV serials of today in India dream up even more weird situations. These are contrived by the story writers to garner TRPs and remain on top of the charts of popularity.
And, the episodes keep coming and the audience is kept glued to the TV sets waiting for the next turn of events. At times, for a change, the team is taken out of the make believe sets to some foreign location for variety. Who knows – the heroine might have suddenly insisted that if she is not taken to Australia, she will leave the serial!!
In comparison, the TV serials of yore aired on Doordarshan were treats to watch – usually, each serial was of 13 episodes and these were weekly shows. There were a couple of exceptions like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata – these were morning slots while other serials occupied evening slots.
Doordarshan was, in those good old days, the only TV channel available till other brands invaded the space and made TV a 24X7 affair with increase in the number of couch potatoes.
How one longs for serials like Udaan, Airhostess, Mungeri Lal ki haseen sapney, Hum Paanch, Buniyaad, Wagle ki duniya, Ghar jamai, Malgudi days etcetera. Each of these had plausible story lines and the viewer could relate himself with the characters.
Alas, today there is no story line and new twists are introduced on a regular basis to ensure that the serial goes on and on from 1000 episodes to 5000 episodes. (to be continued …)
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Today TV dictates our lifestyle


It is a sad state of affairs that today, the unrealistic TV soaps dictate our lifestyles and a new social structure is gradually evolving where everything is make believe. Right from commercial ads of products that range from Deodorants to washing powders, health drinks and biscuits – each of these are painted in glorious colors and presented with attractive models from those sweet kids to gorgeous girls and women who do not hesitate to flaunt their bodies.
While the commercial ads with enticing images and jingles play on the innermost desires of the audience, the reality shows act as influencing factors. Many of the women-centric reality shows or shows meant for children bring to the forefront new products in the form of prizes. Obviously, the viewer hooks on to a new product that he or she sees for the first time and visits the shop to see it firsthand. If it can be bought, fine - else, there rises the hidden desire to acquire it.
Right now, majority of the TV ad-time is taken up by ads that pertain to new mobile handsets of different brands and, youngsters are so impressed that they want to own the latest brand by any means. Some of the brands are available on EMI basis.
The same applies to kitchen appliances and accessories – these are showcased not only by TV channels that are devoted to Food and Cooking but also in TV reality shows connected to cooking. The products are shown in a matter-of-fact way and not advertised as such but, once someone sees a product that he has not seen earlier, he wants to learn more about it. And, get one for his own kitchen.
Macho men promote undergarments, attractive girls in bikinis promote soaps that keep the body cool, sweet looking damsels promote intimate cosmetics and pregnancy-testing kits while fresh looking teens are roped in to promote sanitary napkins and celebrities of the screen promote freshness creams that make a man look fresh.
In this connection, one very popular product health product bears a mention – from a single product, it has diversified to several products with specific uses to selected targets. It begins with expectant mothers, then goes on to tiny-tots up to three-years, then from three to six-years, then for children in general, and then it graduates to women in their 30s and 40s who may be suffering from bone problems. The consumer markets are huge and must be tapped by any means. Ethics can take a back seat. (to be continued …)

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Health woes of retired persons


Health is always a matter of worry for the retired persons because, as long as he is in service, he gets various types of free treatment that accrue to him as a matter of right. Everything is hunky-dory as long as he is in service – once he retires, he becomes a non-entity. What then?
In the UK and the USA, healthcare is a responsibility of the government till death but not so in India. Here, it is every man for himself and individual organizations like the railways, the steel plants, and large manufacturing units have their own medical services.
Large private enterprises also have their own medical services and, in cases where the organization does not have any hospital of its own, it links up with other hospitals to extend the necessary facilities.
But, everywhere these are available till he retires – once retired, he has to go in for some of medical insurance that is offered by a host of agencies.
However, in HAL, the authorities had taken a decision to continue to offer its medical services to retired employees – only, it was not totally free but the retirees had to pay some nominal charges for medicines and, also, hospitalization. That was a big relief.
Moreover, it was a pleasant experience as well because when I went for the monthly medical checkup, I would meet old acquaintances and exchange pleasantries. At times, we would sigh at the news of the passing away of someone known to us.
However, in the background, work was going on at the management level to introduce a sort on medical group insurance cover for all employees. And, it has been introduced.
Now, there is no need to go to our hospital. I can get treatment from any registered doctor and submit the claim for reimbursement. There is a fixed amount allocated for regular medicines and also for hospitalization and, in case, the amount exceeds it, the claim is not honored.
It is not a bad scheme – only, due to its introduction, we retired persons have become more isolated because the regular meetings in the hospitals no longer happen. (to be continued...)

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

How to fight the retirement blues


The term retirement is usually applicable to only those who are employed – politicians can continue to serve the masses till thy drop dead, no retirement age specified for them. Same for self-employed ones like doctors and lawyers who become more sought-after depending on their age. The general concept that age brings with it the advantage of loads of experience and expertise to handle difficult situations. They may not be directly involved and leave that to their juniors but their knowledge helps the cause at the operation table or in court.
Similar is the case of the shopkeepers and the vegetable vendors – they continue to serve till they answer to the call of the Divine.
Therefore, those who have to ultimately fight off the retirement blues are employees of different organizations who have decided upon an age beyond which an individual loses his effectiveness – instead of being a treasure, he becomes a liability to the organization.
How this age is arrived at is a mystery and no one has an answer – it comes down from generations by tradition and is never questioned. Of course, in some organizations, a few selected individuals can expect to ward off the inevitable expiry date because of working in specific fields where there is no immediate replacement. Such instances are few and far between. The fact of the matter is – you have to leave and make way for others once you reach the expiry date.
We have dealt with several options of how to spend the retirement days. Here is another one – look for another job.
Yes, there are many professions where one can expect to get another job after retirement. And, one who is lucky to land another job can be assured of a fixed monthly income provided the new company pays on time. In such cases, the individual may have to accept a lesser pay package, swallow his pride and also get adjusted to the whims and fancies of the new boss. It becomes a case of make hay while the sun shines. (to be continued …)
(Image courtesy wikimediacommons.org)

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Learn to embrace the mall culture


Malls are an extension of what, in the good old days, used to be known as Departmental Stores – these were large shops where one could get a variety of items under one roof.
I remember the Samabaiyka – a Government of West Bengal initiative where goods used to be sold at reasonable price because they had less profit margin and the pricing was done to share the profits.
Then there was a private Departmental Store in Kolkata – it was in a central location on Dharamtola Street very near to Wellington Square.
The name of this store was Kamalalaya – it can be said to be the forerunner of malls in Kolkata. It had every conceivable department starting from apparel to utensils to furniture, crockery and traveling gear to books and toys. There was even a section devoted to music – mostly 78rpm records, and record players. And, the refreshment room was an added attraction.
The system of buying was flawless. Once the customer made a purchase, the item would be sent to the dispatch section at the exit gate. He would have to pay the money at the counter and collect the items. There used to be a uniformed guard at the gate and, in case required, he would hail a taxi for you.
Mall culture is a fast paced one with customers continuously on the move. There are more of window-shoppers as compared to actual shoppers and they seldom come single. Either there are a bunch of giggling girls or happy-go-lucky boys or women out for a fashion break from their kitty parties. They stop to watch, review and pass on. The staff at the counters try to impress upon the would-be customers but they are better informed.
The shelves are full of tempting offers – ‘buy 2, get 2 free’. It is equally applicable to biscuits and cold drinks as well as T-shirts. The attractive items are displayed in huge glass showcases and the items are spread over several floors with escalators to go from one level to the next.
As to refreshments – they are in the Food Courts – the 21st century definition of restaurant.
And, all carry-away items have security tags attached – to prevent theft. These tags are removed only at the payment counter.(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


Kolkata Police to send cake with birthday greetings to 12000 senior citizens of Pronam

Maggi 2-minute noodle – Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachhan and Preity Zinta had endorsed the product

Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

The power of tulsi leaves – it keeps at bay the pacemaker

US admits - there is no way to monitor online encrypted messages of ISIS

US Police have killed two persons daily in first 5-months of the year

Friday, June 12, 2015

Time weighs down heavily on retired men


It is an accepted fact of life that once anyone discovers that he has to spend his 24-hours without going to office and getting embroiled in office politics, whether with his boss or his subordinates, the individual has no clue of how to spend his time.
Routine jobs take up very little percentage of the available time, hence he has to perforce find out ways and means to tackle the menace of Time with a capital T.
Therefore we can see them spend time in libraries – big cities like Kolkata used to have air-conditioned libraries of consulates like the British Council or the United States Information Service or the National Library. The elderly would go there in the morning and, after browsing through the latest newspapers and magazines, would doze off. The people who looked after the library would alert them after a reasonable amount of time.
Then there are those who join bridge clubs or chess clubs. Both the games take up enough time to allow the players to forget the present and enter a world of fantasy where he is set to conquer the cherished titles of Grand Master.
Gardening is another area where a selected few devote their time. Gardening would not necessarily mean roses and dahlias but also kitchen garden that can produce the green chili or the tomato or lemon or pumpkin. These are plants that can give results without much problems. All they need are watering, turning over the soil, and adding tiny doses of manure.
If one is lucky enough to be living with grandchildren, it is considered to be a major achievement as well as a bonus. Achievement because, today most of the sons find jobs away from their native place and develop their own circle of friends and acquaintances. A Generation Gap intervenes and the elders have to adjust to a new way of life.
The bonus part is about adapting to the changed scenario all around. Like the mall culture, the dining out culture, the plastic money culture and the online buying culture. (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


Kolkata Police to send cake with birthday greetings to 12000 senior citizens of Pronam

Maggi 2-minute noodle – Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachhan and Preity Zinta had endorsed the product

Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

The power of tulsi leaves – it keeps at bay the pacemaker

US admits - there is no way to monitor online encrypted messages of ISIS

US Police have killed two persons daily in first 5-months of the year

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How retired persons keep themselves busy


The usual pastime for retired persons is to go for morning walks, preferably in the company of other retired persons. The trend is for existing retired persons to scout around for others in the neighborhood who can be inducted into their fold. The general logic is – the more, the merrier.
If one eavesdrop on their conversation one would realize that it hinges mostly around specific topics like health and service life interspersed with sighs about the son who stays far away or the daughter who wants to be near them but just cannot do so because of her family obligations.
It is strange that even though all of the retired persons know that the distance between dreams and reality keep widening and can never merge, they create make believe situations to justify their loneliness.
Yes, loneliness is the single common factor that binds these elderly men and women who have devoted their life to raise their kids but are unable to enjoy their company because the world around them has changed. Every one of them is in the rat race and, driven by ambition, they do not have the time to share their feelings.
Of course, those who dish out TV soaps do not accept these – that is why in practically every family drama, we get to see joint families which is, in reality, a figment of the imagination.
Well – after their morning walks, they return home to sip their cup of tea and glance through the daily newspaper or switch on the TV to get the audio-visual version of the news with a battering of jingles and ads to spice up the day. For the religious minded, there are TV channels devoted to their cause.
Then comes the session meant for breakfast and medicines – both are equally important. But, even though the inner self might pine for the choicest spicy stuff, the actual intake is far from spicy. It is the desire to live that overrides all other desires and one is confined to foods that taste awful but are said to be a balanced diet of necessary amounts of proteins, vitamins and other nutrients that the body requires.
After a noon siesta and a cup of tea to pep oneself up, it is back to the couch and the TV remote to devour another TV soap or a reality show that appears to be very unreal – with the participants mouthing specifically designed sentences. (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


Kolkata Police to send cake with birthday greetings to 12000 senior citizens of Pronam

Maggi 2-minute noodle – Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachhan and Preity Zinta had endorsed the product

Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

The power of tulsi leaves – it keeps at bay the pacemaker

US admits - there is no way to monitor online encrypted messages of ISIS

US Police have killed two persons daily in first 5-months of the year

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Plan for retirement and live life to the fullest


Retirement is an inevitable part of the life of any person who is employed. His work life may have been full of roses, he may have always been on cloud nine but, once he retires and relinquishes his post, he has to part with all that he used to claim as a part of his life.
Therefore, one has to plan for his retired life, a life of an abundance of time when he need not get up in the morning and worry about whether his subordinates have competed their assigned tasks and whether his boss has some more surprises up his sleeve. Retired life should be that period of one’s life when he can sit back comfortably and enjoy all that he missed during his hectic work life.
And, to do this successfully, he has to plan much before that fateful day comes.
There are stories galore of men who have retired but still cannot forget his work life and would make a trip to his workplace just to keep in touch with old friends, colleagues and even the furniture and the doors, windows and walls. To them, retirement is the end of the road.
One gentleman, a school teacher, had built his house in such a location so that he could see the school building from his room.
In contrast, many others look upon retirement as the beginning of a new road. They pursue hobbies, go traveling, involve in social causes and ensure that whatever knowledge they have acquired in their life time is shared with others and does not go waste.
One usually plans for his money because that is the most important area where one has to focus – a healthy bank balance is always one that assures security and acts as a confidence builder. Therefore, people usually make investments during their employment so that they can reap the benefits during retirement.
The bottom line is that one must remain active in his retirement days – an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop and allowing the mind to wander into the past will only add to one’s loneliness. The past is a closed chapter, it will never return, so why sigh and add to your miseries.
It is a miracle to be alive, therefore, live life today and enjoy the fragrance of flowers, the chirping of the birds, and the gurgling waters of the stream. (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


Kolkata Police to send cake with birthday greetings to 12000 senior citizens of Pronam

Maggi 2-minute noodle – Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachhan and Preity Zinta had endorsed the product

Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

The power of tulsi leaves – it keeps at bay the pacemaker

US admits - there is no way to monitor online encrypted messages of ISIS

US Police have killed two persons daily in first 5-months of the year

Monday, June 8, 2015

Maintaining security of your house when you go on vacation


The world of today is becoming smaller and smaller and everyone wants to get away from the humdrum of routine life at the first available opportunity.
Those who have the advantage of relatives living nearby can transfer the security aspect to them temporarily. Those who have trustworthy people can hand over the responsibility to them – they can come in at night to provide the necessary security cover. Watching TV or nibbling knick-knacks from the fridge are added incentives for them.
But, for those like me who is denied such helps, I have to rely on God to keep my house safe when I am away.
Of course, I do not have any costly stuff in my house and, whatever little I do possess have been acquired through innumerable sacrifices – therefore the loss would hit me hard. Hence, I had to devise my own unique security system.
The place where I have my bungalow is in an isolated location. The houses are not next to one another as in cities but are stand-alone ones separated by shrubs and trees. Obviously, once darkness sets in, each house stands like an island – there is a Gurkha guard who makes the rounds after 11pm. He would blow his whistle and make some noise with his stick on the tar roads. If people with evil intentions were nearby, they would wait for the guard to pass.
Hence, I devised my own security measures.
The first one was to keep a couple of lights on inside the house – at first sight, these lights would sent out a message that the house is not empty. The CFL bulbs are sturdy ones and can remain glowing even for up to three months at a time. Yes, they did prove their worth when my family and I had to go to Bangalore to look after our granddaughter for three months at a time.
Yes, the child was just 6-months old when she came to Bangalore and we, the grandparents from both sides took it by turns to look after her for 3-months duration. We did it for twelve months.
Well – the CFL bulbs in my rooms were my security guards and safety lights.
As to the safety of the items in the house, one of my friends gave a very wise advice – lock only the front door, he said. Do not lock the internal rooms. Also, leave the almirah unlocked. The reason was that if someone does force his way in, he would damage only the front door. The other doors and almirah would be spared and it would be less headache for you to get them repaired.
My friend is no more but I follow his advice even today. (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


Kolkata Police to send cake with birthday greetings to 12000 senior citizens of Pronam

Maggi 2-minute noodle – Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachhan and Preity Zinta had endorsed the product

Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

The power of tulsi leaves – it keeps at bay the pacemaker

US admits - there is no way to monitor online encrypted messages of ISIS

US Police have killed two persons daily in first 5-months of the year

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The lady homeopath who uses her laptop to find cures


As I have already mentioned, I have had the pleasure to have been associated with homeopaths for a long time and am aware of how they normally operate. They do have their reference books and they do listen to the ailments of the patients but they hardly maintain any record – to them, the brain is the best place to maintain records.
One such homeopath has become a millionaire by treating patients who come to his doorsteps from far-off places like Abu Dhabi. In fact most of his patients are moneyed people – some own acres of land, others own industries and others flock to him by referring to word of mouth.
I know him from his school days and am amazed at the way he has minted his millions. As a student he was mediocre and, after finishing school, his father had sent him to Kolkata to study Homeopathy. And, neither he, nor his father or his friends could ever have imagined how he struck gold, literally.
He had the Midas touch.
Of course, there are exceptions to any rule. And, this lady homeopath who has impressed me with her style of functioning is an exception. She is a modern day woman who comes to her clinic riding a Scooty. Once in a while she brings along her daughter who studies in KG, to keep her away from mischief on holidays.
This lady homeopath sits in front of her laptop and uses the data stored in it to locate the best possible medicine to take care of all the complaints of the patient.
I had been suffering from several problems, mostly associated with old age and chanced upon one of her promotional leaflets that had arrived inside the local newspaper. My problems were typical and the first session I had with her convinced me that she could cure me. Believe it or not, the session lasted more than an hour and she noted all the information in her case diary. The information she sought covered every possible aspect of one’s life from dreams to fears.
From being a name, I became another number in her books. It is now more than one year that I have been under her treatment. (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


Kolkata Police to send cake with birthday greetings to 12000 senior citizens of Pronam

Maggi 2-minute noodle – Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachhan and Preity Zinta had endorsed the product

Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

The power of tulsi leaves – it keeps at bay the pacemaker

US admits - there is no way to monitor online encrypted messages of ISIS

US Police have killed two persons daily in first 5-months of the year

Friday, June 5, 2015

Homeopathy plays an important role in spondylosis


There is a general feeling that homeopathy is for the poor because the medicines prescribed usually cost next to nothing when compared to allopathic medicines. Moreover, homeopathic medicines do not have any side effects and there are not many restrictions to be followed. In fact, these are ideal for children who love the sweet taste of the medicines in the form of powder or tiny globules.
My association with homeopathy is a long one.
My father used to practice it after his retirement during his stay with me in my quarter in Nashik. Many of my friends and acquaintances would come to him for medicines and he would study their cases and prescribe the medicines.
As for me, I had to go to a homeopath for a typical problem – it was a sort of spondylosis. Due to this, my left arm would become numb while driving the scooter. I had to keep my left arm dangling from time to time to get the blood circulation back.
When I went to the hospital, the physiotherapist suggested that I wear a neck brace. I did and it did give some relief but it was cumbersome and turning my neck was a problem.
I decided to get the opinion of a homeopath and there were two of them nearby. Both were Malayalee – one of them was an elderly gentleman who had retired from the Air Force and had set up practice in one of the quarters allotted by HAL. The other was a young man employed in HAL – but, due to his effective homeopathy treatments, he was given special permission by HAL to carry out practice in his quarter.
The Air Force man would open his clinic in the mornings and the younger one would open his clinic in the evening. Obviously, they had their own set of clients and there was no clash of interests.
I went to the younger one because evening was more convenient for me and, his medication helped me to come out of the shackle of the neck brace. (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


Kolkata Police to send cake with birthday greetings to 12000 senior citizens of Pronam

Maggi 2-minute noodle – Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachhan and Preity Zinta had endorsed the product

Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

The power of tulsi leaves – it keeps at bay the pacemaker

US admits - there is no way to monitor online encrypted messages of ISIS

US Police have killed two persons daily in first 5-months of the year

Thursday, June 4, 2015

An alternative medicine called Ayurveda can cure many ailments


My association with Ayurveda goes back to the time when I was suffering from a disease of blocked nose. It struck me during the Kumbhmela of 1991 and made my life miserable. The doctors prescribed nasal drops and I would get relief as long as the effects of the drop remained. As a result, I had to carry the bottle of drops with me even to work.
Nashik is the venue of Kumbhmela which is held once every 12-years. I came to Nashik in 1967 and that was the first Kumbhmela I witnessed. In those days, the population of Nashik was small and I used to stay in Deolali. Our bus would not enter the limits of Nashik City but still, in order to ensure protection against epidemics and diseases, we had to get ourselves inoculated.
The next time was in 1979 and I did not feel the urge to go to Nashik to participate in the celebrations but in 1991, I decided to go – I was influenced by a couple of my friends who were keen to go to Trimbakeshwar, nearly 50-Km away, which is where all the action was. Moreover, the women were united and I had to fall in line. Therefore, we left early in the morning by bus to Nashik city and from there by a second bus to Trimbakeshwar.
We had left at 8am and when we finally got down from the bus at Trimbakeshwar, it was nearly 1pm and it was raining. There was a long queue of devotees and the line stretched from the bus stop to the specially erected bathing ghat where devotees were to take a dip in the holy waters of the River Godavari. The line was nearly 2-Km long and the umbrella could not keep away the rains – as a result, all of us got drenched and, with the water accumulated on the roads, it was a terrible experience.
When I woke up next morning, I knew that I was in trouble. The nose block had become severe and, that is when I got this beautiful advice from the wife of one of my close friends. She suggested that I begin garlic medication. Take a couple of cloves of garlic, she said, and chew them raw. Let the juice gradually seep into the body system. The pungentness would be unbearable in the beginning but, once you make it a habit and get used to it, it would be worth the trouble.
Garlic helps to maintain the consistency of blood and also to control cholesterol apart from arresting joint pains, and rheumatism apart from cough and cold.
I followed her advice and got immense relief and have continued with my two cloves of garlic every morning. It falls in the category of Ayurvedic medicine. I take it with a couple of salted biscuits and wash it down with tea. I have been doing so for the past 24-years and am loving it. (to be continued …)
(Image wikimediacommons.org)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The power of tulsi leaves – it keeps at bay the pacemaker


The clinic sent their assistant to install the Holter Monitor on my wife and informed that she could carry on her normal activities and he would come next day to remove the equipment – the report would be given subsequently. This Holter monitor was a new concept in cardiac therapy – it recorded the condition and functioning of the heart on a continuous basis for 24 hours and helped the cardiologist to take a decision. In this case, the decision was ‘install a pacemaker’.
However, my wife was not willing to undergo the procedure right then in Kolkata – she wanted to return to Nashik and discuss the pros and cons with my son and with the doctors who treated her regularly. The doctors in Kolkata reluctantly agreed to let us go but, there were problems of another kind in store for us. And, that was to arrange return rail reservations. I made four trips on four successive days to the city booking office of the railways and did not succeed to get Tatkal tickets. There used to be a separate queue for senior citizens and women but, invariably, by the time I reached the counter, there was no vacancy!
Ultimately, I had to request a distant relative to arrange tickets. He was an employee of the railways and had necessary contacts and he arranged Tatkal tickets by the Howrah-Pune Duronto Express.
We reached Pune and from there our son drove us down to Nashik where we discussed the line of action based on the test results of Kolkata. My wife underwent another Holter monitoring and the hospital recommended ‘install pacemaker’.
Incidentally, the hospital had a huge display board at the entrance that read – ‘Pacemaker available on EMI basis’.
It was then that I decided to carry out the tulsi experiment on my wife. We decided to go for a walk in the morning for an hour or so and, on return, take the tulsi medication. I also began to maintain a record of the BP and Heart beat on a daily basis. And, gradually, the heart beat began to pick up.
I had succeeded in keeping at bay the pacemaker, thanks to tulsi leaves. (to be continued …),br>
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


Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

Noise pollution leads to obesity – those living near airports or busy streets are affected

Giant barrel jellyfish 5-ft long, 3-ft diameter and weighing 5-stone each found off Dorset coast

ICU beckons me for a second time

Marriages are made in Heaven

Teen, instigated by his mother, bludgeons a Delhi bus driver to death in broad daylight

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Geetanjali Express leaves Howrah Station minus my wife and me


It happened a couple of years back and my wife was at the receiving end.,br> She comes from a family that had known cases of cardiac problems – her father suffered a severe stroke while traveling in a bus in Kolkata and expired before any help could arrive. Her elder brother also suffered a stroke while at work and survived because of immediate hospitalization. He now wears a pacemaker. Therefore, it was but natural that my wife also be a probable victim due to the hereditary factor.
She did have some problems related to the heart and was taking regular medicines for blood pressure as well as the cardiac problems. There was an instance when she had lost consciousness as we waited in the hospital for meeting the doctor. She had undergone a full checkup and certified as fit.
Anyway, in 2013, we had made a program to spend some time in Kolkata during the Durga Pujas. We also planned to visit Puri and had booked train tickets and hotel reservation in the seaside resort. It was the year when Orissa was hit by Cyclone Phailin followed by floods and disaster beyond imagination.
Our stay in Kolkata during the Durga Pujas was full of fun as was the trip to Orissa.
Finally, it was time to return and, on the appointed day, we arrived at Howrah Station to board the Geetanjali Express. My brother-in-law had come to see us off and, as the train was entering the platform, disaster struck – my wife lost her balance and, literally collapsed. I had to hld on to her and, gradually lowered her on the bench. My brother-in-law immediately summoned his driver and, instead of boarding the train, we got into his car and sped to the hospital.
The train left without my wife and me.
The doctor in the Emergency Ward carried out a few preliminary tests and advised immediate hospitalization because my wife’s pulse rate was very low. My brother-in-law discussed with his family physician who suggested that my wife be put on Holter monitoring for 24-hours. (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


Bogus tour operator charged out-of-towners $200 each way for a trip that is free

WHO says cigarette smuggling into India has increased fourfold

Marvels of technology – robotic cheetah created by MIT, it can jump over obstacles

Noise pollution leads to obesity – those living near airports or busy streets are affected

Giant barrel jellyfish 5-ft long, 3-ft diameter and weighing 5-stone each found off Dorset coast

ICU beckons me for a second time

Marriages are made in Heaven

Teen, instigated by his mother, bludgeons a Delhi bus driver to death in broad daylight

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