Archive for December, 2014

MELBOURNE CALLING

Posted on December 29, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

It was during the weeks leading upto my HSC (10th class )examination in 1985 that India won the World Championship of Cricket at one of the most iconic places where cricket is played -the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Even as there was no television at that time in my part of the world, Melbourne had become on of the go-to-places for me. The pictures of the ground and the players in coloured clothing playing with a white ball under lights only added to the charm. Of course, in 1981 India beat the host country in a test match on the same ground whilst defending a small total. The finals of the 1992 World Cup featuring England and Pakistan was brought to my home live. So for me the must visit to place in Melbourne is the MCG-the stomping ground for some of the greatest cricketers the world has ever seen.

Speaking about cricket, I would love to take a look at the birthplace of one of the greatest players of the modern era-Shane Warne.

As a follower of tennis, I would love to go to the site of the Australian Open which is not very far from the MCG. The Rod Laver Arena would make a thrilling experience where the courts have a lot of stories to tell including the tears of Pete Samparas, the dives of Boris Becker and the smooth shotmaking of Roger Federer. I would love to pay a visit to the river Yarra into which Jim Courier dived after winning the first tennis major of the season.

In 2015, the Formula 1 returns to Melbourne to signal the start of the new season and the race track would be a perfect outing even when the cars are not there.

Besides the cricket, tennis and the F1, there is a personal reason to visit Melbourne, My younger brother spent nearly five years in that great city and even after five years, he still has great stories to tell about the food, the city and most importantly the people. He waxes eloquent about the Italian food, the Greek food, the Japanese sushi and the fine experience of dining at a Malay restaurant. I would also love to pay a visit to the nearby vineyards, even as I am not a fan of wines. It would make for a great experience to meet a few of his friends. Being a diabetic, I may not be in a position to savour the gastronomic delights Melbourne has to offer.

I would definitely take my wife and young son to see the Penguins at the Philip Island Nature Parks. Of course, my son will want to bring home a penguin!

My brother brought home a lot of souveniers from the F1 race and the Australian open. Those are one of my post prized possessions.

There is an interesting video on youtube.com where George Calombaris of Masterchef Australia fame is eating and enjoying pani puris.

For more information, one can always go to the official tourism website of Melbourne, created especially for Indians.

Indiblogger has a fine blogging contest with great prizes on offer including a trip to Melbourne.

There also a great prize-a shopping voucher of Rs.500 for one reader of this post who gives the best answer to the following question:
“Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?”.

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YES, WHY NOT ?

Posted on December 21, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

For someone who has no experience in having sex before marriage, this post is a difficult ask indeed. The only motivation here is the great prizes on offer from indiblogger.in including an autographed copy of ‘A Passionaate Gospel of True Love: A Mystical True Love Story’ by Poonaam Uppal for the trouble of tapping a few lines.

In most of the religions, pre-marital sex is a strict no-no and it is a taboo. Even today, it is not something that is considered to be a topic for discussion out in the public domain.

There is always the fear of unwanted pregnancies and in countries where abortion is illegal, things are always going to be difficult for the mother and her family, especially when there is no marriage. In the absence of a proper social security system, the burden of raising the child born outside of marriage is very high.

Pre-marital sex involving youngsters also has the risk of leading towards diseases including the deadly AIDS as knowledge of safe sex is very sparse particularly in many African and Asian countries. The spread of AIDS in Africa is largely the result of pre-marital sex.

In India where there are strong social restrictions on pre-marital sex and also on sex outside marriage, the issue of pre-marital sex has become important in recent times. The unwanted pregnancies and the resulting social stigma has driven many young girls and sometimes even their parents to the path of suicide. There is also the question of ‘honour killing’ in some cases.

In countries like India, pre-marital sex and the consequent social troubles has often led to the fresh supply of girls from the poorer sections into the route of commercial sex workers.

There is now the twist in the tale.

Despite all the demerits, I am in favour of pre-marital sex. Why? There are solid reasons behind my stand. When young we were told not to smoke or drink alcohol. But while growing up, there were a lot of things that we experimented with and I have very few regrets about such incidents. Of course, there are always some of us, who got carried away by the experiments to the point of no return. There is always a rider associated with such experiments, including pre-marital sex.

However, I must confess to one hypocrisy. I am for pre-marital sex so long as it does not involve some one from my family!

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IT IS VERY MUCH POSSIBLE

Posted on December 14, 2014. Filed under: SAFE DRIVING, SURFACE TRANSPORT | Tags: , , |

It took the unfortunate death of a Union Minister in a road accident for the revisit of the laws to ensure the safety of road transport in the country.

There are many aspects to sad demise of Mr.Gopinath Munde in an accident. Firstly, there is aspect of us not taking our safety very seriously as it was made clear that Mr.Munde was not wearing any seat belt that could have possibly made a difference. Secondly, there is the fact that the car did not have any safety devices like airbags for the passengers on the rear seat. This is very sad since the car comes from the largest manufacturer in the country. The third aspect concerns the driver of the other car who at an intersection crashed into the car of the Minister. We raise a hue and cry over the deaths of thousands every year while crossing unmanned railway crossings while comfortably glossing over the accidents when there are no traffic lights or when there is no one in uniform near the traffic lights.

So in my humble opinion, these are the things that need to be looked into to ensure safety on the roads. It should not matter whether the traffic lights are manned. The lights should be respected at all times.

Strapping seat belts is mandatory and any disobedience should not be tolerated. In addition to heavy fines, there should be a provision to suspend the licence of the driver for some period, as is the norm in many countries.

Once the possible cause of the accident is established, stringent action needs to be taken which also includes the suspension of the driving licence, even on a permanent basis.

If the car that used to transport a Union Minister did not possess things like airbags for the rear seat passengers, then there is something seriously wrong with the manufacturers as well as with the law. It is true that such safety devices add to the cost but let us not forget the human cost resulting from accidents. If cars become more expensive and there is a possibility of less number of cars on the roads, it should be welcomed since there would be more space for cyclists and pedestrians.

Speaking about the cyclists and pedestrians, they are as a group the worst affected when it comes to fatalities resulting from road accidents. The lack of dedicated lanes for cycling and walking and the total absence of sensibility towards the cyclists and pedestrians either from the makers of the laws nor from the motorists. In fact, it is the poor who walk and use cycles and since the poor are always dispensable, this is the sorry state of affairs. It is ironic since in much of the developed world, cyclists are given due importance. Sometime ago, I was extremely upset to read the rants of a columnist in a leading journal relating to cars on the need to discipline the cyclists. As someone who walks and uses the cycle for fitness reasons, I always worry about my safety.

Till a couple of years, it took me nearly 45 minutes on my motorcycle to cover the short distance of ten kilometres between my town and a nearby industrial township-the reason being the abysmal state of the road. Now the road has improved by several notches not only reducing the travel time but also has increased the number of accidents, mostly involving two wheelers. The driving of motorcycles without any protective gear like helmet and the blatant disregard for others is the primary cause. I was surprised when a senior colleague borrowed my helmet when he went of the town. I was surprised because he owned a two wheeler since two decades. It would not be a surprise to find many who do not possess a valid driving licence.

Speaking about helmet, I must confess to being a habitual law breaker. I can give many excuses about not using this essential protective gear on a regular basis. On excuse that me and many of my friends do offer is the damage to our hairdos. The Union Minister who in the wake of the tragic death of Mr.Munde was spotted driving a two wheeler with no helmet. So I am in good company.

There has to be a change in the mindset of all the stakeholders that is, the people, the manufacturers, the law enforcers and the government to ensure and maintain safety on the roads. Strapping seat belts or wearing helmets is not going to make someone less glamorous and it is certainly not unmanly. Profits should not be at the cost of lives and it is not economic growth but it is definitely the quality of life that what matters the most in the long run. With public transport almost nonexistent there will only be an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads thereby increasing the probability of accidents and fatalities.

Nissan-the Japanese maker of some great cars has initiated the Nissan Safety Driving Forum to ensure responsible driving.

I am thankful to Indiblogger and Nissan for providing me the opportunity to rave and rant and also to have a shot at the great prizes on offer.

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YEH NAHIN CHALEGI

Posted on December 8, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

It is really unfortunate that only after more than 60 years of independence that we as a country have taken to the import of making India clean and hygienic, thereby making it a better place for all. It is unfortunate because cleanliness should have been on the top of our priorities but discussions on hygiene and sanitation are treated as taboos or something that only concerns the government and the poorest of the poor. Whilst it is true that in a country where most people don’t even have access to the basic necessities of life, hygiene and sanitation get relegated to the background and the state even in its latest avatar as a provider of ‘inclusive growth’ does not show the requisite will force to provide a cleaner, safer and a better country.

Students of Economics know the distinction between ‘economic development’ and ‘economic growth’. Economic development in short, means all round development that includes improvement in non-economic indicators that include hygiene and sanitation along with economic improvements. On the other hand, economic growth has a relatively narrow connotation, concerned only with the economic performance of a country measured in terms of economic indicators like Gross National Product (GNP) or Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Growth is necessary for economic development while growth alone should not be construed as development. Growth results in higher production and greater levels of consumption that can improve the standards of living, ultimately leading to the cherished objective of development.

The policy makers after independence gave emphasis to economic growth having their confidence in the philosophy of ‘trickle down’ wherein the benefits of higher levels of production would percolate down to the lowest strata of the society. In this process, basic needs of the people like hygiene and sanitation were simply ignored. The so-called ‘direct action’ against poverty launched in the aftermath of the failure of the trickle down approach, did not sadly include the need for proper hygiene and sanitation.

The change in the course of the economic decision making in the country since 1991 resulted in the greater scope for the private sector. With the gradual reduction in the role of the state, things like drinking water and basic hygiene and sanitation measures have become no one’s concern. This is where our policy makers and experts have failed. Development goals have to proceed from the bottom, literally from the drain. It is not the produce that matters but the quality of life that in the long run what really matters.

It is stated that charity begins at home and my opinion is that charity should also include the respect for the hygiene and sanitation of fellow human beings. I find it extremely upsetting that people taking great care of their homes while making things unclean and dirty for others. The garbage from my home finds its resting place in front of the house of my neighbour. My neighbour does not hesitate to take revenge. The remains of the non-vegetarian dish of last night is thrown away in my backyard raising the hackles of my parents who are firm believers in the vegetarian way of living.

The lack of dust bins is a common problem and if there are dust bins, we don’t like to use them. Many times, I have come across the site of a dust bin lying empty on the street while it is crowded by waste and garbage. The next aspect is the emptying of the dust bins and the eventual disposal of the garbage. Now we are greeted by the stinking mountains of garbage while entering any city or town.

Coming to hygiene and sanitation, I feel compelled to talk about the millions who defecate out in the open not due to habit but due to the lack of any alternative. In the rural areas the situation is not just limited to issues of hygiene as in many instances crimes against women take place when the women go out to answer the call of nature. Of course, there are few amongst us who defecate out in the open with a pride associated with the closeness to nature !

The rivers which sustain life in various ways feel the brunt of the waste thrown into them. Water of rivers from the Ganges down to the tiny rivulet near my home town have become polluted, rendering it unusable for use by humans, plants and animals.
I come from a part of the country where in the monsoon season there are regular outbreaks of cholera and diarrohea largely due to the consumption of contaminated and the polluted water of the rivers.

The outbreak of plague in Surat about 20 years ago or the regular occurrences of cholera, dengue etc in different parts of the country are essentially due to the lack of basic sanitation facilities.

It is not only in the interest of the country but also in the interest of us that each one of us becomes involved in the process of making India a clean nation. We must not only aim for a better life for ourselves but also a cleaner life for the future generations. Whenever there are demands for a greater role of the state, there is the use of the term ‘resource crunch’. For a country that takes pride in sending spacecraft. surely can get the priorities right. Moreover, the prevention is not only better but a whole lot cheaper than the cure.

This process just does not involve the wielding of the broom, but the initial cleaning of our heads. There is an immediate need to stop the chalta hai attitude as far as things related to hygiene and sanitation are concerned.

I am proud to have this opportunity to be associated with the ‘Banega Swachh India’ initiative launched by NDTV in collaboration with Dettol and the great Amitabh Bachchan.

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YES I DO SHAVE

Posted on December 6, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

I have a confession to make. I don’t like to shave on a regular basis. I consider shaving a tedious exercise and not something that can be enjoyed. This attitude towards shaving is a result of the days that I spent in the university during my post graduation. I regarded the beard as a manifestation of manliness.

In the initial period of job I shaved at least once every three days. Then as old habits die hard, I returned to the good old days where shaving was no longer important. My parents, my colleagues and some friends wanted to know the reason for the unkempt look. Some senior colleague went around the town with the rumor that a breakup in love matter was the real reason for the unshaven face. My father was extremely upset since he does not even sport a moustache and shaves almost everyday. Nothing could change my habit though. I found support from an unexpected quarter- my younger brother who fully supported my views on shaving. This gave me the encouragement to continue the bearded run.

The beard resulted in certain things. Students always kept a distance for they feared my looks.A few students not knowing my name knew me by my beard ! Some colleagues did express their contempt for the so-called unclean look. Whenever I removed my beard, there were looks. But I simply did not give a damn.

However, marriage brought a complete change in my shaving routine. My mother briefed my wife on my irregular shaving habits and all hell broke loose. My wife is extremely upset if I don’t have a shave. There are occasions when I like to offer an excuse for not shaving. But she wouldn’t budge even a centimeter and I have no other alternative but to pick up the razor and remove the beloved beard.

When it is time for some social engagement, I have to shave and the order from the high command is simply non-negotiable. My wife insists that a well-trimmed moustache and a proper shave are a must for my profession. I short, I have to look presentable so that I might miss on some opportunity.

In the course of my shaving experience so far, I have tried different types of blades and razors. I started with twin blade razor and now it is a four blade one . I will definitely give a try the five bladed wonder from Gillette.Each promises to remove more of the stubborn stubble out from the skin, thereby promising a much cleaner look and with a greater degree of comfort.Blogadda and Gillette have this opportunity to cash in on my shaving stories.

I have really started to shave even if it is not something I love.

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette

There are great rewards on offer for the effort and details are at http://willyoushave.blogadda.com/

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