Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sunset at Humpi 2011- Dawn of New Year-2012






                               (Photos taken by me during visit to Humpi this year end, Karnataka)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Towering Inferno

The devastating fire at the AMRI hospital in Calcutta where more than 90 people have perished once again raises a basic question -Why are we not prepared to handle such calamity where many precious lives were lost in panic and suffocation. There was utter chaos and people inside the building had absolutely no clue to save their own lives. People were running halter shelter to find a way out.Windows & doors were closed. None of the supporting staff had any idea about the emergency exits. Probably they  were also not aware of the water spots, fire safety valves and staircase exits. Doctors & staff were reported to have fled.The worst part was still to come when the fire brigades arrived 2 hours late.They had no high raised ladders to reach out to the people.

For some time now, there would be review of the causes of the fire and about the violation of rules and regulations by the competent authorities. Then the blame game would start to reach a point of no return. The local authority, Hospital management  and the Fire department would put the blame on each other as well as the builder, builder would abscond, common men would be writing ‘letters to the editor’ and finally the life would return to normalcy as if nothing has happened. In Delhi, the ‘Uphar Cinema’ fire case is still struggling to come to a final shape in court even after a decade.The devastating fire at the Carlton towers in Bangalore can not be easily forgotten.

According to the National Building code of India, high rise buildings need to have open space around the building, a proper and continuous pathway to safety as well as should have roof exits in a place which can be accessed from the ground but nothing existed in this case. There seems be no annual inspections of the building either by the fire department or by the emergency services officials. There is urgent need to sensitize the occupant of such high rise buildings to handle such kind of crises. They all should know the emergency exits and working condition of fire fighting equipments. Most of the shops and offices in such building do not feel the necessity of having their own safety measures putting the onus on the builder and owners.

In fact each and every person working in such place ought to know about the topography of the building and security and safety measures. Each establishment should conduct its own ‘mock drill’ at least once a year to ascertain the preparedness of each one. The security and watch & ward staff should be given training to handle fire fighting equipment. It should be ensured that all such equipments are in working condition, refills are not expired and there are adequate water outlets available inside or outside the building. It’s high time that builders must understand that even at the cost of building violations, lives of people working in their building are not jeopardized,   basements are not used for commercial purpose and enough space is left all around the building for the ambulances/fire brigades to enter the building in case of such  misshape.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Random Thoughts

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Traffic Management in Emergency

Have you ever observed that in the midst of traffic, whenever siren sound of an ambulance or fire brigade is heard, the first reaction from the public as well as the traffic police will be to look towards the approaching ambulance in amusement to find how far is it from them and how the vehicle is approaching. In this melee, the traffic becomes chaotic making it more difficult for the ambulance or the fire brigade to move forward. It takes some time for the moving traffic to come to a halt and give way to the ambulance. Even in such a situation, there would be some two-wheeler or vehicle driver wanting to go ahead of every one without bothering! The worst part is when the constable managing the traffic themselves becomes the onlooker to the scene. They will be just watching as to how the ambulance driver is able to negotiate and move ahead of the surging traffic jam!

Often the ambulances get stuck at the traffic signals where all other vehicles try to squeeze in to all the available space so as to move ahead as soon as the signal turns green. Unlike western countries, Indian cities can not think of having separate lanes for emergency purpose because the roads are not broad enough. Its time for the traffic experts, police and the transport authorities to evolve a clear cut guideline as to what is the correct procedure to be followed by the traffic constable, public and the drivers of ambulance/fire brigade as the case may be. In absence of any specific guidelines the drivers of ambulance tend to steer the vehicle from whichever side they find it convenient. Other vehicles while giving way move here and there creating more chaos than facilitate.

The need of the hour is to understand the gravity of such an emergent situation by every body. People should immediately act on hearing the siren instead of looking here and there in bewilderment. All vehicles must immediately be brought to the left side leaving the right side absolutely free for the un-obstructive passage of ambulance. The role of traffic constable should be well defined to bring all the vehicular traffic to a halt on to the left side on hearing any siren sound from approaching vehicle. They should ensure that no body (including VIP vehicle) is allowed to go ahead overtaking others until the ambulance passes.

‘Golden hour’ is the key to one’s life and instead of becoming a mere onlooker, let us be pro-active at the first sound of siren on road from an ambulance, fire brigade or even a police van/jeep (provided the last one is not carrying family of police personal to a school, mall or a film show!).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Security beefed up!

Come Independence/Republic day, all states are put on high alert and states are asked to beef up the security. Security is also beefed up whenever there is bomb blast anywhere in the country.  At least that is what our Prime Minister or Home Minister tells the media after the incidence. Otherwise, the security is also beefed up if any VIP or their siblings visit any town to inaugurate a barber shop!

It can be observed that so called security is beefed up at places of importance, bus stand, railway stations, airports, cinema hall and malls for just a day or two and thereafter life is back to normal as if the threat is over for ever.

Look at the security measures, so called beefed up- Rickety and sometimes non functional metal detectors are installed at the entrance of railway stations with one or no security guard to monitor any beep. In smaller town, the security guard will have just a stick in his hand, no gun. Anyone wanting to avoid the metal detector can easily enter the platform from the vast open railway track from both side of the platform where there would be no one to check. At multiplexes and Malls, even if two security guards are made to stand at the entrance, what if one enters from the basement/car parking lot via lift! No check point for lift users. The security guard at the temple can easily be tricked if ‘Prasadam’ is offered to him. . At some places, one can get away with security guards if start conversation in chaste English with him. He would be ‘dumb stuck’ and one can get on with his work.

Yes, security is really tightened at the residences of our politician in the name of ‘threat to their life’ but the same threat does not apply to common man on the street, those travelling in local trains or buses, hence no security. Unfortunately, what is lacking is Vigilance. This is a key word for security. Vigilance should not only by the Government but also, WE THE PEOPLE. All shops, market places, historical places , educational institutions, air, railway/bus stations prone to any kind of attacks (not only terrorist attack but local communal/ political  attacks also) must be covered with high resolution 24x7 , 365 days functional CCTv to monitor movement  for taking timely action. In fact, vehicles are not checked at all, the security check at all the toll gates on national highways in the country must be made stringent round the year.

Need of the hour is to be aware, be informed and be vigilant, security beefed up or not! Happy & safe Independence day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Independence from Corruption?

Is it not a nation’s shame a Chief Minister from South shamelessly refused to step down despite corruption charges and 'dikat' from his party command to step down , two of the high ranking union ministers had to be reprimanded by their high command to vacate the five star hotels where they were staying for 100 days and to shift to government bungalows as an austerity measures in view of the time country is reeling under economic recession and drought like situation. While one minister clarifies that he is footing the bill from his pocket, the other one is diplomatically telling that he has made his own ‘private arrangement’. Now it is for him to clarify what does this private arrangement means? Definitely it does not mean ‘from one’s own pocket’.

 But the question is why in the first place these learned ministers and Member of Parliament needs directions time and again from higher ups to behave or to project simplicity? In fact, nowadays High Courts & Supreme Court is stepping in to give directions to the civic authorities and the governments to act in a particular fashion.Why do such people need directions and support all the time when there is a drought or panic situations. Does this mean that during other times, one is free to display and live with extravagances? 

Than, there is a news about two ex- Jharkhand cabinet ministers (during 2006-08) who are now in judicial custody having non taxable income on paper but have business concerns, mines, real estate companies and hotels in Singapore, Dubai, Indonesia and Thailand. Others involved like Kalmadi, Raja are cooling their heels in jail.Other kind of politicians includes local corporators who keep going on foreign jaunts to Singapore, Dubai or China on so called Study tours at the tax payer’s expenses. Each one of them wants to make their city or town to be model city like Singapore or Dubai but ends up with a fat bank balance of their own in India or abroad.

 A large number of Government servants (aptly called Babus) have fallen in to the trap of ‘Lokayukta’ for corrupt practices and for having assets beyond their means but all these disclosures have remained headlines of newspapers but nothing has moved beyond. Not a single babu appears to have been punished or jailed till now. Oh yes, these babus and politicians when caught pretend to get chest pain and get themselves admitted to a hospital! The common man is just left behind to fend with high voltage political jargons like ‘Garibi Hatao’, ‘India Shining’ or ‘Aam Admi ke liye’ etc etc. The age old funda ‘Simple living, high thinking’ is no more valid. There is no place for any ‘Introspection’ for them anywhere, whether you live or die! 
Can we expect a corruption free nation on this Independence day?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Traffic Management

It has become a faishon to talk about making a city Singapore by our politician and city mayors.Let the talks of Magic Boxes , flyovers, elevated roads, Metro, mono/tube rails be kept aside for a moment and concentrate on the following points which are not of long term nature and can be implemented with a minimum outlay of funds RIGHT NOW FROM TOMORROW ITSELF if the authorities concerned local body & Traffic Police are serious about bringing about a change.

1. Remove or shift all the bus stops and auto stands which are situated immediately after a turning or circle. These are main hindrance in free flow of traffic. Penalise those bus drivers and auto drivers who stop the buses/autos at these turnings and bus stops.

2. Distance between two bus stops should not be less than half a kilometer. At present, there are many bus stops which are less than 100 meters apart and buses are not able to pick up speed.

3. Make footpaths free of hawkers. Stone slab footpaths are uneven. They should be properly plastered to have an even surface.

4. Public or for that matter any body including government agencies like water board, Telecom,Electicty board, cable operators who dig the road or footpath must be made accountable to restore them back to original failing which heavy penalty should be imposed.

5. Slow moving vehicles like bullock cart, hand driven carts, three wheeler rickshaws, Tonga, etc should not be allowed within the city limits during peak hours.

6. Any body driving two wheelers on the footpath to go ahead in a traffic jam situation must be penalised or his/her vehicles should be impounded.

7. At railway crossings, there is a common tendency by two as well as four wheelers to block the right side of the road in order to go ahead as soon as the train passes. This practice results in blockage of traffic on both sides of the crossing. Public who are also well educated should understand this.

8. Potholes on any road should be immediately filled up as soon as information is received. Road inspectors should be made accountable for not attending to any pothole.

9. Superior quality paint should be used for zebra crossing and other road humps as the paints used at present become faint or invisible after a weeks time.

10. Glow signs should be put up at the starting of all road dividers.

11. Trafic police should stop ignoring those who are driving talking over cell phone. They should be more pro-active on duty.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hypocritically Religious!

No, this is not a spiritual or religious sermon. To start with, let me confess that I go to temples whenever somebody wants me to accompany them or to attend any family function in the temple. Like all others, I prostrate before the God with folded hands, accept the ‘Prasadam’ offered by the priest with utmost reverence, put some money in the ‘Hundi’ and above all offer prayer to the almighty God which I believe is supreme having no form. It is immaterial whether the God belongs to Hindu, Muslim or Christian as long as it is one.

And what do I pray for? A fat bank balance, long life, good job, more and more wealth in the form of land, house, villas and farmhouses or gold bars stacked in some locker. I ask for none except well being of every human being. Some body has rightly said that Caring hands are stronger than praying hands’.

Most people recite prayers in their respective church, mosque or a temple, prayers that proclaim the immortality of the soul or to get a place in heaven but definitely not hell at any cost. To this end, they will be prepared to come to the God again and again, day in day out with all humility and sincerity yet after the worship is over, they go back into their competitive ruts practicing usual greed, dishonesty, jealousy, hatred, back biting, hatching plots and manipulating !
From my own experience as a banker, I have come across many people with big ‘Vibhuthi’ or ‘kumkumam’ on their forehead that appeared very pious, spiritual, God fearing but have indulged in rapes, looting, forgery, cheating the public as well as their own kith & kin. Many of such people have availed huge loans from bank and defaulted in repayment intentionally. They come out with all types of tactical methods to evade repayment and even threatening to harm. I have seen priests , saints and Gurus indulging in theft of offerings made by devotees made during religious rituals. Highly regarded and famous preachers, self styled God / saints have been known to amaze wealth, indulging in sex scandals and even conspiring murders, there is no need to name them as this is known to every aware citizen. I have seen people worshiping God at home, reading religious, spiritual books, attending discourses but back home, treat their own siblings with contempt, showering abuses, physically assaulting and driving them to the wall.

In the light of the above all, it makes me wonder , as to how religious are we? Do we need to lead such a hypocritical life?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Those days of Household Games

The house hold games, which yesteryear’s children in our country used to play with enthusiasm after school hours and during summer holidays, are fast disappearing. Having spent whole of my childhood days in North, these games are known to me in Hindi (do not know their vernacular names) such as ‘Chouka Bara’, ‘Gippi’, Kanche-goli’, Gilli-danda’, ‘Kho-kho’, ‘Chor-Sipahi’ (Hide & seek), ‘Sanmp-Seedhi’ (snake & ladder), ‘Carrom’ , 'tug of war', 'ring' and ‘Skipping’. It was fun to come back home with dirt on half pant or shirt and coming back with some bruises on hand or leg was like a bonus!

Barring a few, all these local games have become extinct for urban children though some of them are still being played in remote village side. Thankfully, the last game Skipping has now become an ‘in thing’ for health freaks and health clubs. The advantages of these games were that these neither required any coaching nor needed a playground. They were played anywhere on the road, in the street and back yards of any house. Any time was fun time for playing these games. More over these games involved no expenditure.

 Now children hardly get time to go out and play and also they have no liking for these outdated games.Watching TV, playing games on mobile phone or internet gaming  have become house hold games for them. Those who can afford to spend, go to play stations in malls to get a feel of modern day games like Bowling, Tag or commuter games like car chase, star wars, Spider man, Harry potter and several such animated games, all for a hefty price!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My First English Article

This March end ’2011, I am completing 2 years of blogging. I wish to thank one and all for visiting/ commenting on my blog regularly or occasionally. Even though I started writing  in English as late as 2008 on regular basis, I tried my hand in writing  English articles in 1974-76 when I was 24 years old. On this occasion, I present my first satirical English article published in Youth Times (A Times of India publication) May’1974 issue without any changes.

“Trapped- by Pen Friends!”

Yes my friends, I am trapped by my new pen friends! You may think that I must have inserted my address in some newspaper as an advertisement to gain name and fame and thereby I must have got trapped or else some old landlord must have caught hold of my neck to recover old dues. No such a thing happened to me.

All that happened was, once my address appeared in the ‘Pen friends’ column of a magazine. It was my desire to have friends all over the country but what happened afterwards is altogether a different story. I would like to place before you two important letters which are worth preserving. I received a letter from a reputed International concern from Bombay offering me a handsome job without applying for! It reads as under-
‘Dear applicant, Congratulations! The selection board declares you successful in the preliminary selection……...if you are late in complying with the above instructions, your placement will be transferred to the pending file’. I don’t know what kind of a job was that, but I can get it if I send them Rs.10/- worth of postal stamps by ‘ordinary post’ only. If any of you are interested, you can contact this bogus firm at the bogus address by inserting your address in some pen friends column.

The second important letter came from ‘The Metro films’ (Alas, not from MGM-Metro Golden Mayer). All aspirants for films please note. The Metro films is eager to help me in becoming a super star like Rajesh Kahanna for just Rs.10/- only. (Even though I may look like a Chimpanzee). I feel pity for those boys and girls who are trying hard to get into the film world. Poor chaps! Some are running after the Poona film Institute and quite a few are pestering film stars for recommendations. I think they are unaware of the Metro films, who are eagerly waiting to turn these boys and girls into top stars of all time.

Believe me, I would have joined the Meto films had I the physique of Dharmendra, voice of Raj kumar, face of Dev Anand and talent of Rajesh Khanna , but it is really very unfortunate that after publication of my address, I am so trapped that I am not in a position to spend even a paisa. I am praying God for more such friendly letters and looking forward to a letter which sends me a ten rupee note to purchase a handful of ‘Aspro’!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Loft- The Junk Yard

According to Wikipedia, a loft can be an upper storey or attic in a building, directly under the roof. An upper room or story in a building, mainly in a barn, directly under the roof, used either for storage (as in most private houses), for a specific purpose, e.g. an "organ loft" in a church, or to sleep in (sleeping loft).

But in India, we have an altogether different concept and purpose for the loft. It is more or less used to dump unwanted, discarded things rather than for living or sleeping as the definition goes. When ever a family moves to a house or apartment, first thing they look for is number of lofts. There was a time when every house used to have a separate room called store room with several shelves to accommodate all the unwanted things like packing boxes, trunks, broken furniture and beddings. Now the concept of a store room has vanished however big the house may be. Study room, computer room or treadmill space for health freaks has taken over this space. So where do we keep the not so useful items? Naturally lofts comes handy to our rescue.
In majority of the houses junks like broken plastic bucket, wooden logs, rickety iron chair, gardening or repair tools are stored on lofts with intent that they may come handy some other time. With the shortage of space, gardening is ruled out and those garden tools remain antique. Box containing rusted nails, screw, nut bolts, electrical wires, outdated switches and even fused bulbs finds a place on the lofts. I know many senior citizens who have accumulated many trash items like old marriage cards, bills, notices, hand bills etc and never allow any one even to touch them. That ‘some day’ to make use of those items,never comes. Either people forget things kept on the loft or purchase new items without bothering to search the loft. These junks are removed only when the house is under demolition or getting sold to some one!

The other advantage of loft is that they are never cleared or cleaned.  Mosquitoes, rats, cockroaches, spiders and lizards enjoy the ambiance at the loft and make their permanent settlement there. I remember, in olden times all the houses in town (Northern India) used to be white washed during Deepavali festival but with the spiraling cost of labour and materials, this practice has taken a back seat. So, there is no way for the loft to get a face lift! Modern gurus and specialists emphasize that  old unused items in house emit ‘negative energy’ therefore all such items should be reviewed periodically to be cleared and disposed of to enable the positive energy to flow inside the house  and make people feel good. What ever it be, next time when you are dusting your house, just peep inside the loft also.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

10 principles for Peace of Mind

Guest Article by - Paritala Gopi Krishna
1. Do Not Interfere In Others' Business Unless Asked. Most of us create our own problems by interfering too often in others' affairs. We do so because somehow we have convinced ourselves that our way is the best way, our logic is the perfect logic and those who do not conform to our thinking must be criticized and steered to the right direction, our direction. This thinking denies the existence of individuality and consequently the existence of God.. God has created each one of us in a unique way. No two human beings can think or act in exactly the same way. All men or women act the way they do because God within them prompts them that way. Mind your own business and you will keep your peace.

2. Forgive And Forget: This is the most powerful aid to peace of mind. We often develop ill feelings inside our heart for the person who insults us or harms us. We nurture grievances. This in turn results in loss of sleep, development of stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure. This insult or injury was done once, but nourishing of grievance goes on forever by constantly remembering it. Get over this bad habit. Life is too short to waste in such trifles. Forgive, Forget, and march on. 
 Love flourishes in giving and forgiving.

3. Do Not Crave For Recognition: This world is full of selfish people. They seldom praise anybody without selfish motives. They may praise you today because you are in power, but no sooner than you are powerless, they will forget your achievement and will start finding faults in you. Why do you wish to kill yours lf in striving for their recognition? Their recognition is not worth the aggravation. 
 Do your duties ethically and sincerely.

4. Do Not Be Jealous: We all have experienced how jealousy can disturb our peace of mind. You know that you work harder than your colleagues in the office, but sometimes they get promotions; you do not. You started a business several years ago, but you are not as successful as your neighbor whose business is only one year old. There are several examples like these in everyday life. Should you be jealous? No. Remember everybody's life is shaped by his/her destiny which has now become his/her reality. If you are destined to be rich, nothing in the world can stop you. If you are not so destined, no one can help you either. Nothing will be gained by blaming others for your misfortune.
 Jealousy will not get you anywhere; it will only take away your peace of mind.

5. Change Yourself According To The Environment: If you try to change the environment single-handedly, the chances are you will fail. Instead, change yourself to suit your environment. As you do this, even the environment, which has been unfriendly to you, will mysteriously change and seem congenial and harmonious.

 6. Endure What Cannot Be Cured: This is the best way to turn a disadvantage into an advantage. Every day we face numerous inconveniences, ailments, irritations, and accidents that are beyond our control... If we cannot control them or change them, we must learn to put up with these things. We must learn to endure them cheerfully. 
 Believe in yourself and you will gain in terms of patience, inner strength and will power.

7. Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: This maxim needs to be remembered constantly. We often tend to take more responsibilities than we are capable of carrying out. This is done to satisfy our ego. Know your limitations. . Why take on additional loads that may create more worries? You cannot gain peace of mind by expanding your external activities. Reduce your material engagements and spend time in prayer, introspection and meditation. This will reduce those thoughts in your mind that make you restless. 
 Uncluttered mind will produce greater peace of mind. 

8. Meditate Regularly: Meditation calms the mind and gets rid of disturbing thoughts. This is the highest state of peace of mind. Try and experience it yourself. If you meditate earnestly for half an hour everyday, your mind will tend to become peaceful during the remaining twenty-three and half-hours. Your mind will not be easily disturbed as it was before. You would benefit by gradually increasing the period of daily meditation. You may think that this will interfere with your daily work. On the contrary, this will increase your efficiency and you will be able to produce better results in less time. 

9. Never Leave The Mind Vacant: An empty mind is the devil's workshop. All evil actions start in the vacant mind. Keep your mind occupied in something positive, something worthwhile. Actively follow a hobby. Do something that holds your interest. You must decide what you value more: money or peace of mind. Your hobby, like social work or religious work, may not always earn you more money, but you will have a sense of fulfillment and achievement. Even when you are resting physically, occupy yourself in healthy reading or mental chanting of God's name. 

 10. Do Not Procrastinate and Never Regret: Do not waste time in protracted wondering " Should I or shouldn't I?" Days, weeks, months, and years may be wasted in that futile mental debating. You can never plan enough because you can never anticipate all future happenings. Value your time and do the things that need to be done. It does not matter if you fail the first time. You can learn from your mistakes and succeed the next time. Sitting back and worrying will lead to nothing. Learn from your mistakes, but do not brood over the past. DO NOT REGRET. Whatever happened was destined to happen only that way. 
 Why cry over spilt milk?

Monday, February 7, 2011

The 'Saas-Bahu' Saga

Thanks to umpteen numbers of TV Channel showing never ending serials based on ‘Saas bahu’ relations day in day out so much so that the word has become synonymous with legendary figures like Rama-Laxaman, Julius- Caesar, Laila Majanu, Tom & jerry or Romeo -Juliet! Not that this prejudice is confined to older generation, many of the present day modern and educated Saas Bahu continues to carry forward the torch with the same zest and zeal , the same old time tested thoughts and ideas.

Saas keeps harping on Bahu for not getting up early in the morning, not coming to kitchen to lend help, not taking care of other family members especially elders, not keeping the house in order, not doing the pooja, doing make up without the traditional Bindi or Teeka, not removing slippers inside kitchen or pooja room, unhygienic habit of eating, and occasional threat of walking out of the house!

On the other hand, the Bahu has her own equal number of grouse against the Saas:- too rigid in following age old costumes, always playing blame game, ridiculing the bride family, exaggerated reporting and complaining  to son about her behaviors etc etc. The son finds himself sandwiched between the two and finds himself between the devil and deep sea. On one side he has to please his wife and on the other hand, pacify the mother and make compromises to keep both happy!

Family harmony, adjustments, commitment towards each other, sacrifices, understanding and respecting the need/ space for each other remain buried under the wrap of long forgotten ‘Sanskars’ (values).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gossip – Genesis, Growth & Propagations!

Guest Article by-S.N. Raj

Did you ask where “Gossip” got going?   Well, in the times when there were  no Face book, Twitter, SMS, mobile camera  etc for quicker sharing of ‘hot news’, where else could such happen  – if not at temples or at some-one’s wedding, or some-one’s funeral or during mutual visits to homes of relatives or when friends & foes  gather ? Now, don’t rush to put-down gossip as a base sport of olden times!   I am sure you and I also indulge in gossip of one kind or the other!  After all, the shapes, styles and forms of gossip have changed with time but the basic Kick, Fun, Pleasure etc. one gets out of gossips continues un-abated!

Being an Iyengar myself, let me tell you how gossips run its rounds in Iyengar families/homes – with a few examples. Ruchi & Suchi (names changed) home supplier of chilli powder in those days, I remember, they were very effective gossip mongers or originators because, they would be requisitioned by practically all the Iyengar homes in Bangalore !!   And so, they would freely ‘share’ whatever they saw or heard elsewhere and also freely ‘collected’ what was seen or heard in the homes that requisitioned them – so that they could ‘share’ it with other homes!  They knew of the wealth, health, internal problems, children, relatives, births, deaths, in house fights, menopauses of who and when and also of eligible bachelor boys, eligible girls - who had ‘come-of-age’ – for marriage alliances etc.   In fact, they would have made a good Marriage Bureau!

Then of course, the other sources of material for gossip was the jewel maker who came home to many Iyengar families and worked for days on stretch preparing ornaments.   He would talk of who-got-made-what, how-pure-or-impure-was-that etc. and needless to say he collected all the inside news from the home he worked at and freely share it elsewhere!  The jewel maker could understand Iyengar Tamil very well and had a ‘keen ear’ and ‘spoke-in-whispers’!A third source of gossip material was at the saree shop be it at Mahalakshmi Hall or at Iyengar’s or at Seethalakshmi hall in Chikpet of Bangalore.  The shop owners those days freely shared who took what and how many sarees on Approval Basis and returned some – soiled after using!!   

There is no ‘copy-right’ for the means/methods of gossip, be it sources/activation/propagation. It all depends on one’s skills & imagination!  All it needs is accepting the opposite of “See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”. Having used the word ‘Gossip’, I was curious and I record below what I found: The first thing I did was to make GOOGLE give me search-results for the word gossip.  And what do I find?   Mind-boggling 107,000,000 results!  I didn’t bother to explore beyond the first one - which was from Wikipedia at:

I give only the brief ‘introductory ‘Para’ here: “GOSSIP is idle talk rumour , especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It forms one of the oldest and most common means of sharing (unproven) facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information transmitted. The term also carries implications that the news so transmitted (usually) has personal or trivial nature, as opposed to normal conversation. In the last decade, gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins. This has found gossip is an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity. Indirect reciprocity is defined here as "I help you and somebody else helps me". Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar an evolutionary biologist as aiding social bonding in large groups.The term is sometimes used to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals. Some newspapers carry "gossip columns" which detail the social and personal lives of celebrities or of elite members of certain communities”.  
UN-QUOTE :  GOSSIP – once started - happily snow balled free & fast – to the delight of those with ‘ears-for-gossip’ (anyone & everyone did & do!) and cheek-muscles that needed exercise (as they ‘propagated-it’ further – with nor without additions or subtractions)!  

Did/ does gossip give hurt or happiness? Ask yourself. If undecided, give-it-a-try by being the gossiped or the gossiper! Gossip has defined person/topic/time/consequences! It is formless and yet may get responses/reactions. Dear readers, brush-up your gossip skills. Let me warn you though – Gossip if indulged-in while sitting in comfort and ‘packing-your-stomach’ with fatty eatables, you know the ‘result’! Go ahead and gossip to your heart’s content but make sure you also have a good stock of occasions, happenings, anecdotes etc. to share with others  and roll on the floor laughing so that any ‘bulges’ you’ve acquired while gossiping gets ‘rolled-out’ !!

(The author is Septuagenarian - Foot loose in memory sphere– living at Margao in Goa)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Banking that I don’t know

Thanks to liquidity crunch, Banks are vying with each other to attract more short term deposit from public by offering higher interest. Like any senior citizen and shrewd investor, I am no different and was in search for a bank offering good but safe return. Let me share some ‘sweet & sour’ experiences during this search.

The other day I walked in to a nearby branch of a bank to collect fixed deposit opening form which is facing the axe of merging with State Bank of India in near future. As the sole employee at the counter was busy and surrounded by many customers, I made my way towards the accountant/officer with the hope of a service with a smile. She was tensed up and upon my asking her the FD form made her more uncomfortable. She looked around for sub staff but no one was around. She asked me to wait and again started looking around. Instead of going herself to fetch the application form, reluctantly she drew the drawer, took out a pink colored form and handed it over to me. On going through the contents, it looked like a pay in slip for depositing cash or cheque (Challan No. 1024 to be precise). I asked her if this was a FD opening form. Without looking at, she confirmed that, it was the application form.

Not satisfied, I took the form to the Manager but he turned out to be the Chief Manager. He too confirmed it to be so. When I pointed out to him that there are no columns to furnish my address, mode of operation, photo, PAN card details and similar numerous information, he simply asked me to furnish on a plain paper if I so desired! Overwhelmed and clean bowled by this knowledge, I thought it better to walk out rather than walk in.

Moved to another bank branch for Industrial sector, not a Nationalized bank but owned by Government of India offering a very attractive and highest returns amongst all other banks. While collecting the FD application form from “May I help you counter”, I doubly ensured from the helping hand that they shall remit the interest to my a/c maintained with some other bank. Next day when I went to submit my duly filled up form, the person at the help counter had changed and informed me that my request for transfer of interest to other bank can not be carried out! The matter again went up to the Manager who suggested me to open a SB a/c with them as interest can not be remitted as per my wish. In short, at the end of my persuasion, they relented to send the interest cheque to my residence.

But this was not the end to my ordeal. On perusal of my application, they found that I had not signed the nomination form. I told them that it is a joint account with the option of ‘payable to either or survivor’ and it is advisable but not mandatory to sign nomination form if the applicant so desires. But nothing doing, I had to relent and sign NIL nomination at the end.

As a banker, one has to take decisions in the interest of the Bank and to be successful in the field risks have to be taken. As is said ‘Boss is the king’, the new gen bankers are no less fussy over trivial matters when it comes to knowledge of systems, procedures and above all common sense.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The ‘Power’ Game

Every one is aware that ‘Power corrupts all’ but now we have also come to know that ‘Discretionary power’ makes the person more powerful. Discretionary power to allot prime land, government bungalows at prime location, allotment of petrol pumps and the list goes on like a never ending ‘Akshaya Patra’. A chief Minister having discretionary power can grab land and allot them to his kith &  kin at throw away price and no amount of hue and cry can challenge his authority. Their prerogative becomes their pride and prejudice for not so lucky one.

I fail to understand why opposition parties make such a noise, disrupting legislative assembly or the parliament. After all they too get chance to come to the power to make good the loss. Who else does not (mis)use his or her discretionary authority? Government officials and police personals use government vehicles for going to market, cinema or dropping their children to school, Theatre owners use their discretionary power to issue complimentary passes,  School/College authorities keep some seats vacant for hefty donors, journalist keep writing about somebody they want to promote hence why blame the politician alone.
The power of Tamil Nadu chief Minister/s is different from other states. Here who so ever is in power, the ministers and public alike, likes to treat them as powerful God having huge discretionary power and they like to fall on their feet again and again wherever they go. It reminds me of Emergency period of India when ministers were asked to bend, they started crawling!

If you think that only we are blessed with this discretionary power, then think hard again. Do not be surprised if I tell you that even our Gods have different level of powers. There is a ‘Visa Balaji’ temple in Hyderabad where if you go and pray the lord, getting visa becomes very easy surpassing all the hassles of going to consulates! There is no dearth of Balaji temples in our country but this one has special discretionary power to grant Visa. I heard that similarly a ‘Hanuman Temple’ exists some where in Northern India specializing in Visa.

There are some powerful Devi temples where a childless woman can get conceived after prayers there or a powerful ‘Shani’ Temple like the one at Thirunallar near Pondicherry to ward off all your problems. Not all Devi or Shani temple Gods have this charismatic discretionary power bestowed upon them. Who has not heard of ‘Siddhi Vinayaka temple’ of Mumbai which is patronized by our Bollywood fraternity for its super power which the next door/ street Vinayaka temple has not got. People throng the Tirupathi Balji temple with their long list of demands and wishes in lieu of all their ill gotten wealth in return, but the Balaji temple next to my house does not attract the same crowd.

In short, it’s all in the game-The Power game. More the power, more the powerful one is, be it a politician or the God.