Guess who is who in this picture!


See what make up can do to people especially women. The Lions Club team represented by eleven Lion ladies gave a scintillating performance (Not my words, that’s what everyone is telling!). Though we focused on doing our best and enjoying ourselves, the 3rd prize came as an ‘add on’. Not only dancing on the D day, we enjoyed practicing and preparing for it. We are definitely going to miss that now.
Some of us were stepping our foot on stage for the first time and were really nervous but we kept telling ourselves – let’s do our best and forget about whether we get the prize or not ( we are so used to telling these dialogues to our children that now we can go on efforlessly about such talk !!)
Dancing apart we discovered many things during the three weeks practice sessions-

• We formed a few new friendships.
• Deepika was reluctant to dance as she had always believed that she had two left feet. To her pleasant surprise she has now discovered that like every one else she too has one right and one left foot
• Rama Raghvan and Rasika are indispensable; we couldn’t have managed without them. They were there not only to give us physical and moral support but also to make sure that we put our best foot forward.
• Divya is a great host. She opened her heart , house and kitchen to make sure that we felt at home

You can help

How many of us are thankful of what we have? ‘Count your blessings’ that’s what strikes you first when you visit AWMD (Association for the Welfare of The Mentally Disabled) in Udaygiri Mysore. People crib about not having a son or pray for a daughter but there is a large chunk of population who have children born with mental disabilities and the only thing that matters to them is that their child irrespective of gender should be able to live somewhat like normal child at least become independent functionally. Brainchild of Mr. Manohar, this NGO aims at making differently abled people function normally and independently and ultimately aims at making them financially independent. The children are trained in early care where they are taught basic self care like using the toilet, brushing teeth. The early intervention program was conceived with the intention of helping large number of children together. Children visit AWMD once a week with their mothers. Both the child and the mother are trained in self care so that it can be followed up at home. This training is generally imparted for 6 months. Vocational programme trains them in various vocational activities like candle making, mat making, paper baskets, dustbins, paper bags et al.

How you can help:
Be a volunteer
Help in marketing the products made by children. You could put up a stall in your company/ school/college/building
Help in finding employment for the trained beneficiaries
If time is at a premium Sponsor a child- Rs 500/month
To know more details contact: manoemohan@gmail.com , Manohar- 98450 98635

My heart weeps …

My heart weeps for those who have lost their loved ones in Mumbai terror attack. The children who lost their parents in the attack. The child who lost his mother in the attack. The image of terrorists shooting his mother will haunt him for entire life. How will a small child live without his mother? What will happen to his ambitions, his dreams… each moment.. each breath that he will take will remind him of his mother. He will long for the coziness of sleeping with mother, mother’s touch, her smile, fragrance of her clothes and even her scolding … what had he done to deserve this punishment? There is no substitute for a mother. I am depressed, angry and disappointed that I am living in a country where anyone can shoot at will and there is no security of life. Where 10 young men barely out of their teens can hold an entire nation to ransom. Is it Jungle raj? I have no reason to be hopeful in future. This is the price we have to pay for electing and tolerating corrupt, incapable and inefficient politicians.
If I have escaped this time, I may not be lucky next time. With no hope for future that things will be better off in India, who knows when my time will come. Today I want to sit with my children and tell them stories that they have been asking for days and cook their favorite dish. Who knows tomorrow I may be killed by the bullet of an insane terrorist.
….a mother

Let us put our house in order first

Post 11/26, life will not be same for any Indian for a very long time to come and never ever for those whose any of their kith and kin has perished in Mumbai attack or even for those who have escaped the attack by a whisker. The images of gun bearing terrorists will always haunt those who have lived to tell the tale of horror minute by minute.
As soon as the news of Mumbai attack, the worst so far on Indian soil spread , the Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh washed his hands off by announcing quickly that it was a handiwork of Pakistan. This piece is not about whether Pakistan is involved in this act or not. Even if at this stage of investigation it is believed that Pakistan has directly or indirectly supported this heinous act, let us ask ourselves what have we done to prevent it?
This is not the first time that an act of terror has taken place on India’s soil. For the past one year, it has been the order of the month. Hardly a month passes without any news of blast in one or the other part of the country so much so that a minor blast with one or two causalities gets only a brief mention in media. The terrorists have become bolder and their numbers are increasing day by day. This time they surpassed the imagination of even Hollywood script writers. The plan for Mumbai attack was not put together in hurry. It was the outcome of months and perhaps years of planning. For sure, it went through many alterations since its original plan and must have gone through several trails before the final act of disaster that was executed to have maximum damage.
The first question we need to ask ourselves what our intelligence services were doing all these months? Why didn’t they get to unearth anything about it? If they had some clue about it then why didn’t they act in time? No point blaming others now, the damage has already been done. If our intelligence officers are not capable then why they are there in the first place? Like private sector, incase of non performance why they are not given pink slips?
Secondly, it is not only the duty but the job of the Coast Guard Services to protect our sea borders. Are they really protecting our borders? How can twelve armed men enter our borders with bags full of grenades and arms through sea route without anyone knowing about it? For sure, the terrorists must have checked this route for their safe arrival. Did we have confidence in the capability of Coast Guard? If not then no one will be a bigger fool than our government to believe that no enemy can enter our country through sea route. If they are not well equipped or trained then it should have been the prime priority of the government to provide them with required arms and instruments to execute their job fully.
Every time there is talk of outsiders penetrating our borders, India’s ‘porous borders’ becomes the lame excuse. The defense of the country should be the top most priority of our government at what ever cost. If lack of funds is the issue then it is advisable to dismiss the mission to moon and divert the money for defense of the country. Let us walk safely on earth first before we learn to walk on moon.
India’s police force has been the laughing stocks for years. Has our government taken any steps to equip them with modern arms and ammunition to prepare them for facing such a war? We expect pot bellied revolver bearing policemen to take on AK 47 trotting agile well trained terrorists.
We have the habit of waking up from our slumber only after the damage is done, we think of everything possible to prevent the next attack but again have lackadaisical attitude when nothing happens for some time. Now hotels will have fool proof security, spend heavily on safety of guests but will forget everything soon only to be woken up after the next attack. When it was expected that terrorists will hit again and hit really hard then why such casual attitude towards providing security to its guests? Why hotels have multiple entrances, why can’t there be just two entrances – one for guests and one for service staff. Is it so difficult to provide heavy weight security at just two points in a hotel which is on terrorist hit list? Isn’t a stitch in time better than two later?
Why NSG is located only at Delhi, why not in all metros and why train only NSG officers, why can’t our police men be trained in this? If NSG was located at Mumbai then this terror scene would have got over much earlier and many precious lives could be saved.
We blame our government for not doing anything for our safety. It is ironical that the public is helpless in a democracy. Is there no way to morally pressurize our government to deliver? Our government makes quick plans for our safety bothering little about its execution. Should we believe that the terrorists have read our mind and got scared just by our thinking of taking a few measures for the prevention of next terrorist act? Unless we put our house in order, it is heartening to state that this Mumbai attack will not be the last heinous crime on India’s soil

Childhood sans innocence

Last Saturday, I happened to be a judge at a creative writing competition for children from 9 – 13 years. The children were asked to imagine and write a story based on a picture showing sea, fishes and a few sea animals like octopus in it. Children came up with innovative thoughts and weaved stories. I was much distressed to read that most of the children had used the words commandos, RDX, hijack, kidnap, bullets, security, terrorist and built the stories around these lines; some of them had portrayed octopus as the terrorist who had come in a ship to kill fishes.
Where is the innocence of children gone? Can they think life beyond bomb blasts, terrorists ? It is sad that their vocabulary is laced with such words which we had not even heard of in our childhood. Where are the fairytale thoughts in which the good always overpowers evil? It is not only sad but scary too … what kind of upbringing and culture are we giving to our children where bomb blasts are the part of life and terrorists are not fictional characters.

Mom, I haven’t won the prize…

“Why didn’t my child get a prize, he was so good?”, “How come that child was given the first position, she was so ordinary?” Hmm do these reactions sound familiar?
We often hear people accusing the judges of a competition for the bias decision. It is easy to accuse the authorities and judges for the unfair judgment when you are one of the participants but come to the other side of the fence and you will say ‘I wish I was on the other side’. The same happened to me last week when I was invited to be one of the judges for a fancy dress competition at St. Joseph’s Central school. Participating is far easier than pronouncing the Best amongst the best. This is more so when all of them have put in their best foot forward. The dejected faces of children who are not the winners melt your heart and make you feel guilty.
There is always a debate without any conclusion on whether young children should be made to go through the emotional ordeal of facing competition. One school of thought states that not fetching the first place amounts to failure and leads to emotional imbalance for young children. Why should the tiny tots be made to go through these emotional traumas at a young age? Right! But isn’t competition the most important reality of life and the earlier they learn about it the better it is for them. Regarding that emotional imbalance, it can be handled pretty well by children if parents do not put undue pressure on their children to be the winner. It will be a part of the game for the child if she/he sees a big smile on mom’s face even when she/he doesn’t bring a trophy home. Isn’t participation as fun as winning a prize? School teachers too can pitch in by not giving partial treatment to those children who win the competition and encouraging other children to try their best.
It was a great show but the highlight of the event was not the brilliant show put up by primary school children but the discipline and time management practiced by the school. The show started at the pre announced hour irrespective of who is present and who is not. When one of the judges failed to turn up at the designated time, the principal Mrs. Joyce Lobo took the instant decision to request someone else to judge the event instead of waiting for the judge who was held up. In sharp contrast to this I am reminded of an event when a chief guest made the audience wait for two hours in the hot sun.
I wonder why we appreciate these values in childhood but tend to forget them as we grow up. Any answers?

Dostana

Homosexuality! Nope, that’s not the theme of Dostana. The theme is fun, friendship and love triangle in that order. Directed by Tarun Mansukhani and produced by Karan Johar, it is quite different from KJ’s other movies…no family emotional drama, rona dhona, marriage songs, Shah Rukh Khan and his other trade marks scenes. Priyanka Chopra looks awesome in tini mini outfits. The show of skin in Hindi movies is quite taken for granted these days. Hindi cinema has really come far off from the days when heroines had to give long interviews and say stuff like ‘it was the demand of the scene’ like dialogues, to justify their wearing anything above knees. Now wearing a bikini looks like a normal dress in movies.
Kiron Kher rocks and retains her title of a Punjabi mother Number 1. Abhishek Bachchan is a better actor as compared to his other movies especially his gay acts in this movie. John Abraham focuses more on show of skin than acting. Bobby Doel is too stiff. He needs to reconsider his decision of re entering films. Shah Rukh Khan in guest appearance in Bobby’s role would have been a wiser choice. Though it would have taken the lime light away from JA and AB but KJ’s lucky charm would have made a far better business and commercial sense. Are you still wondering if it is family movie? It is a movie which can be watched with your entire clan even with your young children as the earlier they learn about these taboo concepts the better it is and what a better teacher than AB/JA who put on the gay act to rent an apartment.

Cherishing Good Friendships

It has been more than six years since I shifted from Bangalore to Mysore. Life in Mysore is in totally contrast with Bangalore’s. Here average time spent on commuting to work place is 20 minutes. There is no need to wait for the weekend to do your shopping or visit a friend; since everything is so close by and driving is not a nightmare you may very well do it any day. Mysore is a laid back city; here people have ‘take it easy’ attitude which is good but irritating at times. Everyone is busy but no one is really in hurry. People have the luxury of living life at their own pace.
It’s been six years and I have started appreciating the + points of easy going life. I don’t miss Bangalore at all not even its action packed life, pubs, malls, shopping, airport, ample job opportunities, connectivity and traffic jams. But I miss Madhayam and the people associated with it. Madhayamites share a unique bond. It was quite refreshing meeting them all at Diwali get together last week; thanks to Rakesh and Vandana for the invite.
A small cultural show put by the Madhayamites exhibited not only the talent but also a great chemistry amongst the members.
After all, in life nothing is more fulfilling than cherishing a few good friendships.

Hyderabad



The overnight train journey from Bangalore to Hyderabad was very comfortable but you don’t get good dinner in the train. So it is advisable to carry dinner with you.

With so much of hype about the city, the first impression about the city as you set foot on it – it is over crowed. There is no traffic sense at all. Vehicles use every inch of space on the road. It is free way for all. If you can drive in Hyderabad, you can drive any where in India. I still don’t understand how pedestrians cross the roads. There are no pedestrian crossings and traffic won’t stop at all for you. The first day we had to hire an auto to cross the road. By the end of 5th day, we could master the art of crossing the road. In fact it was quite simple. The trick is to signal the approaching vehicles to slow down with your hand and you criss cross your way in between the moving vehicles to reach the other side of the road.
Spitting city – the second impression I got about the city is – it is very filthy. There is no civic sense amongst public at all. What you see around is filth and garbage. It is a common sight to see people opening the door of Mercs at the traffic signal to spit on the road.

Shopping experience – it may be a shopping paradise but our shopping experience was different. Shop keepers are not courteous especially the saree shops. They don’t like if you want to unwrap the saree, admire it and then buy; they want you to buy first and then unwrap at home. Perhaps we are pampered shoppers in Mysore. Here they not only open the pieces fully and show but drape and model it for you also. They want you to admire the piece even if you don’t end up buying anything. As far as pampering the shoppers is concerned , Punjab and Delhi are one step ahead , as you start showing serious interest in their products, out will go the call ‘ Chootu jara thanda lana madam ke leye’ . Ultimately you end up buying more than you require.
If you are on pearl shopping, make sure you get 35% discount. It is a common practice more so in big stores. Just take out your visiting card and avail 35% but you don’t get unless you ask for it.

Hyderabadi biryani– It is simply superb. So much talk about Hyderabadi biryani, it is much better than that. You are really missing out on something if you are a vegetarian in Hyderabad. Three best places for biryani- Paradise, Bawarchi and Bahar. Paradise’s one day business is Rs 10 lakh and there is one floor dedicated to take away. There is no match to Hyderabadi Biryani.

Salarjung museum– I had read about tourist attractions of Hyderabad in my history book in 7th standard, more than twenty five years later my sons read about the same attractions. Alas they are not attractive any more. People recommended us to spend at least a day in the museum; we visited all the rooms in the museums and finished it in 90 minutes. The artifacts and collections are marvelous but our experience would have been better if things were little more organized there. There are no direction boards or arrow marks so you don’t know how much you have seen and how much is yet to be seen. We were keen on seeing Nizam’s jewelry but that section was closed. We were informed by one security guard that there are 46 rooms.

Charminar– anybody who goes to Hyderabad will not come back without visiting the historic monument so why make an effort to maintain the place? As you climb it, dirty walls with graffiti all over welcome you to make sure that you go back totally disappointed. So if you have not visited charminar you have not missed anything. Life is cheap in India. In spite of so much talk about security measures, this place has an unsecured fence. No metal detectors, no frisking by security guards.

Lad bazaar– it is a bangle bazaar with bangles of all varieties and colors but you will be looted if you don’t know the art of bargaining. If you have the patience to haggle, you can get 50 % bargains.

Banjara & Jubli hills area is totally different from rest of the city. It is cleaner, better roads, less traffic. Your impression about Hyderabad depends on which area you visit. Since we visited Secunderabad first, our first impression of this city was – filthy city. Even the residents are confused about the concept of twin city, you don’t know where one city ends and where another begins and how they are divided. Don’t bother too much just ask someone and go on. But whatever you do, don’t miss the biryani.
I would like to visit Hyderabad again for two reasons; I could not visit Ramoji film city and another of course for Biryani…more is still less.