Saturday, 26 December 2015

Wrong number

Wrong number
This term makes me nostalgic. Recently an astronaut on the space station, ISS, tried to call his home from the ISS, and uttered the famous words, "Hello, is this planet earth" , and put the fear of aliens in the lady, who happened to be at the other end of the wrong number. At the end of the day, he did apologise to the lady saying it was a wrong number, that too, by posting the apology on Twitter.  This episode made me wonder about the huge progress made by the human race in, first putting a permanent space station in an orbit around the earth, and then establishing communication between the space station and earth, where an astronaut can easily reach out to his parents by just picking up the phone and calling them. But alas! The humans have not been able to resolve the age old problem of wrong numbers. And this is what made me nostalgic.
Just remember the black phone which was a permanent fixture in almost all homes, once upon a time. In the time, before the introduction of mobiles in the 90's, and many years after that too, black phone with the circular dial, was the preferred instrument for communication between families and friends. And the wrong numbers during that era were unbelievable. Once a man, who had gone to Nainital for the first time, excitedly called his parents from there and exclaimed over the phone, "Mom, I have now reached. It feels like heaven and I am literally walking through the clouds". Now, it so happened that, the call was wrongly placed to a family, who had recently lost their son and were grieving. When the mother heard this message, she fainted. These type of dramas played out many times during those days, all thanks to the telephone and the telephone operators, who literally had the strings of fate of many  people, in their hands.
The telephone department was very important, or rather, the demand for the telephone was so great, and the supply was so poor, that the people in the department had a superior air about them, since people used to give them that importance. I have seen people begging for a telephone line to be allotted to their home.
Another common ritual was placing of a trunk call. You gave a call to the telephone operator, told the city name and the phone number, where the call was to be placed and were invariably told that the lines are very busy, and the waiting time will be high, and you were given a trunk call code number. Once a trunk call was placed, you could not then go out, since you never knew when you're call would get connected. I remember, once we waited for 1 and a half day for the call to be connected to our aunt, who used to stay in Indore. Of course, there were options available, where, if you placed an emergency call, the connection time was shortened, but such calls also used to take at least 2-3 hours to get connected, and were comparatively expensive. Another service was 'PP' , where you had the option of calling a particular person only. In which case, the operator would call the number, call for the particular person, and once that person came on line, then only the operator connected the two calls.
And in spite of so many hurdles, the businesses were conducted successfully and relationships became stronger. Today, when any person is just a call away, the relationships suffer, since no one wants to talk, in this age of WhatsApp and Facebook.
Those were the days!!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


Nirbhaya means "without any fear". Why did we name her Nirbhaya? Who named her Nirbhaya? What was the message we wanted to give by naming her Nirbhaya? Today, when the so called "juvenile" is set free, what message is being given? What do we answer to the world? What do we answer her parents? More important, what do we answer ourselves? Many of us are parents of girls. What do we answer our daughters? We Indians show the greatest unity and fight with a common enemy ...with all our might. When our country was threatened by a neighbouring power, all politicians, of all political leanings, got together to oppose it. The entire parliament united since everyone realised that, this was a common enemy. Then what happened this time? Was this crime, not a threat to the country's social fabric? Why was no commitment shown, to get a law passed, which would have ensured a punishment, which was commensurate with the serious and gruesome crime committed by the "juvenile"? Instead of this, we saw the parents of the girl , being held in custody. The parents of the girl are fighters. Many others in their place would have just broken down by now. But they are fighting, so that no other girl who is a child of other parents, feels vulnerable because of the weakness of the country's laws. More important, they are fighting, so that no other devil, in human clothing, takes advantage of the weak laws of the country. They deserve all our support. Even the smallest step taken by you in this direction, will eventually force the establishment to make the necessary changes in the laws. It is also in the interest of the establishment, that the citizens of the country, see it as a strong entity, which takes fast actions to set right the wrongs in the society. People with a criminal bent of mind are always ready to take advantage of a weak establishment. This must never be allowed to happen.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Smart House

The Smart House
Nowadays all builders compete with each other to offer smart houses to their customers. Each new smart facility offered, the customer gets burdened by one more crore. No house is now available below a crore or two.
One day a DINK couple, who were in need of a abode to call their own, went to a reputed builder's office. Now don't ask me what is a DINK couple; it's DOUBLE INCOME NO KIDS, sillies! They were ushered into a plush office. Like a goat who is offered the choicest grasses to eat, before it is butchered, similarly the couple was offered the choicest wine 🍷. The DINK were impressed!
The Sales Representative of the builder, in impeccable English, floored them with the list of amenities, on offer. In addition to the usual amenities like a enviable club house, table tennis tables, badminton court, a tennis court, pool table, a fully furnished gymnasium, and a Olympic size swimming pool, what clinched the deal for the DINK, was the offer of the SMART HOUSE. They requested the sales representative to show them their dream house. That's when the fun started!
When they, along with the sales representative reached the door of the smart flat, an energetic wave 🙋 by the sales representative, with a big smile on his face, opened the door of the flat. The couple was looking at him quizically, when he replied, "A scanner is installed on the door, which scans your smiling face and detects the wave movement. When you move into the house, all the existing master data in the scanner will be deleted, and your smiling face will be saved in the scanner. And we will teach you the proper wave movements". Still reeling from this information, the couple followed the salesman inside. Once inside, the salesman clapped once and the lights came on. He gave them the information that, clapping once puts the lights on & clapping twice shuts off the lights. And when you want to just enjoy, like on weekends, you perform a jig, which starts the disco lights. We will teach you the jig, when you make the down payment.
The DINK couple was feeling flustered and a little hot under the collar. They requested the salesman to put on the AC. The salesman promptly went to a corner and winked! Immediately the AC came on. Then he showed them how to increase or decrease the room temperature... You twist your fingers in clockwise direction and the temperature will increase and anti clockwise to decrease.
Feeling a little weak in their knees, they looked around for a place to sit... there was non. The salesman sensed this, he extended his hand towards a wall and did a pulling gesture...a sofa started pushing out of the wall!! Seeing this, the couple just plonked themselves on the sofa. The man was thinking, "how I wish I get a cup of tea 🍵". Immediately, from the direction of the kitchen, a shadow emerged! This was a robot, which was a cross between R2D2 and Chewbacca (Star wars fans will know). This contraption was carrying a steaming cup of tea! "This is the clincher in this smart house. Your own butler, who never sleeps and always at the mind call... You think of any requirement, and he appears like a genie". The DINK couple is zapped... Both of them were thinking, what will happen if I have some romantic thoughts. They shuddered to even think about it.
Suddenly the man got up, and asked for the way to the loo. As he entered inside, the lights came on. OK, this was normal... But, then the pot cover went up and "Welcome! Please use water sparingly. After 'download', please delete your history. No one else should have access to your history. Thank you for using me". On hearing this, all thoughts of  'downloading' vanished from the man's mind and he rushed out. He asked the salesman, "can we mute the toilet?". Unfortunately, this facility was not available.
After looking at the entire house, as they were exiting out of the house, the door ejected a very pungent odour. Confused by this, the lady asked, "now what is the meaning of this". The salesman behaved as if he had not heard. So the man asked the same question again.
This time the salesman cleared his throat and answered, "The SMART HOUSE has identified you as very dumb, and rejected you as its owners"
So folks, say good riddance to SMART HOUSES and save your sanity.

Friday, 18 December 2015

The Bullet Train

The Bullet Train
Mumbai-Ahmedabad will get a bullet train. From where will it be flagged off from? A date will be decided but will be indefinitely postponed. Why? A controversy will erupt, on who will flag off the inaugural train - whether it will be a Gujarati or a Maharashtrian . Finally a truce will be reached and decided that it will be flagged off by both. Now, where will it be flagged off from - Ahmedabad or Mumbai. For obvious reasons, it will be flagged off from Ahmedabad.
I understand that the bullet trains of Japan run at more that 300 km/ hr. Will they run at the same inhuman speeds in India? Lets suppose it does, then what precautions need to be taken...i think, first and foremost, it will need a dedicated elevated line, to avoid, any animal from crossing the tracks, especially the bovine kind, who are treated as sacred... We don't want any protesters from holding up the bullet trains.
So the D-day arises. The timings of the train are fixed for the train to start its maiden journey from Ahmedabad at 7.30 am. The station is all bedecked in flowers, beautifully decorated. The bullet train itself has turned up at the station like a coy wife , getting ready for her wedding. The station is teeming with people. There are 3 types, those who have booked tickets in black, to be the pioneers who sat in the very first bullet train in India, others are the relatives and friends, who have come to drop off their loved ones, and the third type, are the sundry onlookers, who have just come to ogle at the train. They are all waiting for the inaugural ceremony with bated breaths. The politicians arrive for flagging off the train, sharp at 8.30 am. The people are happy, that, for once, they have come on time, 1 hour being nothing, if you consider the larger picture. Time comes for cutting the ribbon ceremony. And here everything goes wrong, making the train idle at Ahmedabad station for the next 3 hours!
The delay arises due to the controversy - who will cut the ribbon first, Maharashtra or Gujarat, driven by inflated egos. The railway babus, try to pacify both sides in vain. Some of the egotist start feeling hungry. The entire group, from both sides, retire to the railway canteen. The railway babus, grab their chance, and counsel both sides to reach to an agreement.
Finally both sides reach the front of the bullet train... There 2 ribbons are waiting to be cut, one by each group. The ribbon cutting ceremony passes off peacefully, with both parties then, embracing each other with put-on warmth in front of the preying eyes of the cameras, which are in huge numbers.
With a great toot of relief, the bullet train then commences its journey between the 2 great cities of India. Keeping in mind, the gastronomical likes of the passengers, the pantry car has made arrangements, for a continuous supply of phapda-jalebis, dhoklas, khakra, misal pav, vada pav, poha, et all. With their taste buds continuously occupied, the first travellers on the Indian bullet train never realise how the time passes, and by the time, they have had their umpteenth snack, the have reached Mumbai station, which is again festooned in balloons and decorations, and where a sea of people have gathered to welcome the Japanese marvel.
So the journey, which might have taken 3 hours in Japan, has taken 8 hours in India, thanks to the inauguration ceremony. It's a victory of Indian tradition over Japanese innovation.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

An airport in India

An airport in India
Friends, by writing this I don't want to bolster any negative image of India. But this is a fact at one of India's airports. As you know, India has many small and large airports. The airports of Mumbai, new Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, are among the best in the world catering to huge domestic as well as international traffic. But there are smaller and remote airports also. And I bring you the story of one such airport.
Recently an aircraft was brought to its knees... Believe it or not... It was hit by a herd of wild boars... And there the aircraft sits, by the side of the runway, since the damage is serious.
But this is just the beginning... When the central team from the particular company owning the aircraft, visited the airport, it was given further warning by the local authorities.... Please go near the runway, only during daytime... Don't venture during dark. That had the central team confused... When they made further enquiries, they were informed that, wild boars are just the tip of the iceberg... You can get accosted by more dangerous animals like the leopards, and if you are lucky... Or unlucky... You will see pythons crossing the runway... All this, only because, there is a wildlife sanctuary nearby... Though the airport is well barricaded, the animals are successful in breaching the boundaries... Endangering themselves as well as the passengers who are inside the aircraft during landing or take off.
Already I see, the touristy people, abondoning the usual wildlife sanctuaries like, Corbett and Sariska, and making a bee line for this airport... After all where else, will you get to see such exotic wild animals , without getting down from the comfort of the aircraft and getting into a rickety contraption like the green jungle jeep...

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Peace, be upon us

Peace, be upon us (Ek pravachan)!
Elders tell me that, if you breathe 12 times per minute, you can live till hundred years in relatively good health. Well , such knowledge was passed on from times immemorial, from generations to generations, through the great yoga teachers of India. All this fountain of knowledge, was due to the pioneering work of ancient India's rishis and the maharishis. Yoga was never only for fitness purpose but had a intrinsic connection with the higher meaning of life. It was, and, is a means to understand the human mind and how it connects with the body. Hence there is so much importance given to the breathing process and how proper breathing can elevate the mind to the higher level. And how, training the mind to let go the negative thoughts, can in turn, help in removing the toxins from the body. How do you train your body to slow down the breathing process? Whenever you get the time, like when you are sitting in front of the TV, or you plan the free time, do the breathing exercise - breathe in very slowly, hold the breathe for 2-3 seconds and then breathe out more slowly , then again hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat this cycle once again. The time taken for breathe out should be at least twice the time taken for breathe in. Repeat this for at least 10-15 minutes. You will feel the calmness enveloping you. But I am no yoga teacher. Hence you are requested to join some good yoga institutes since yoga is best learned from the masters.
Yoga is, but, one way of making changes to how you conduct your life.  For making a positive change, you have to change your Ahaar (what you eat), Vihaar(which places you frequent most), Achaar(how you conduct yourself) Vichaar(what or how you think). Out of this , Achaar and Vichar are the most difficult to change, since these two have become a very intrinsic part of our personality which has undergone a continuous mentoring and coaching over our entire lifetime, due to, where we stay, who we interact with, our immediate environment, etc. To change these will require a lot of mental discipline and will power. If you do yoga very religiously but at the same time, if your mind is filled with negative feelings like jealousy or envy or lust, you will never be benefited. Start thinking positive thoughts and show respect to all AND practice yoga, then you will reap the fullest benefits.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The robot masseur

Recently I saw a cartoon in a newspaper showing 2 robots giving massage to two humans. The robots are shown as all metallic and not like the one in Rajnikant film, "Robot". And that set me thinking. Is this what we will see in future? Or is the future already upon us.
I already see a future newspaper headline "Caught drinking on the job". A robot working as a masseur was caught drinking on the job... And what was he drinking? He was drinking the oil which is used during massages. The future news shows on TV will see a killing story in this and will reach the crime spot and interview the culprit robot. And they will start the interview with that  question which is oft-repeated on Indian TV..."Yeh Jo aapne itni pi lee hai...ab aapko kaise lag raha hai!" And keeping very calm and putting it's best poker face forward (since it is metallic it cannot show any other face but a poker face), the robot will reply, again oft-repeated, "bahot accha lag raha hai, jee... People like you come to our centre for oil massage. By getting a message you feel refreshed, you feel energised, you feel invigorated... But for us, just a glass of the very same oil delivers the very same benefits... All our creaks and cranks disappear, leaving us fully energised for the next round of giving massages" and suddenly the robot broke into a full on robotic rendition of a very iconic song,"thodi si Jo pi lee hai...chori toh nahi Ki hai..." in a very nasal voice, which was very famous during the 2005-2015 decade in India. And suddenly the robot bodily picks up the reporter and twirls the reporter in the air... The reporter gets all giddy and passes out. Bored with its own antics, the robot throws out the reporter through the window... The reporter almost losses his life. That's it... This is enough for the other brand of TV reporting to take up where the previous TV show had left off.... At 11.00 pm. in the night, suddenly a shriek fills up the air..."yehi hai...yehi hai woh zalim robot jisne ek begunah aur masoom TV reporter Ki jaan aafat me Dali" , shrieked the bearded pony tailed reporter, who himself looked like the villain of some old c-grade Bollywood movies. "Gaur se dekhiye...yeh robot, upar se toh bhola Sa lagta hai, lekin chori chipe Tel peeta hai...aur Tel pike yeh ek haiwan Mein badal jata hai...aur masoom reporteron Ki jaan ka dushman Banta hai...citizens...aise massage centre se dur rahiye, jahan aise darinde paale jate hai...Savdhaaan....".
And some scientists return their rewards, since the government cannot protect the Aam Janta from this new scourge of society, the evil metallic robot...

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Car

The Car
I remember an old movie named, "The Car". It tells the story of a mysterious car which goes on a murderous rampage, terrorizing the residents of a small town. It was a Hollywood movie and I had loved that film. But now it seems that the cars in America have turned over a new leaf. Well, literally!! Recently an old lady, driving a car in Florida got involved in an accident. Actually it was a hit-n-run case and this particular lady was the culprit. She was all set to drive away from the scene, but all her plans went awry... Thanks to her own car!! Well, this happens only in America and how! Now read on...
All thanks to the great American obsession to give even the minutest possible safety features to its citizens, a 911 assist facility is in built in most new cars in America nowadays. And the lady in question was done in by this very facility. It so happened that immediately, on impact, the 911 facility on the car - which was paired with the lady's mobile- made a missed call to the police. When the police called back on the number, the lady did not answer. But hey, what's the big problem? If the car owner does not answer the phone, then the car takes over. And so it did... The car, via its Assist facility, connected with the phone, and taking help of the GPS facility inside the car, gave the car number as well as the location coordinates to the police... in no time, the police were at the spot and arrested the lady. The lady was shocked by the sudden arrival of the police... She had been unaware about all that had transpired between her own car and the police. I think, when she finally realises it, she will file a case on the car manufacturer for infidelity... That's the price a man has to pay if all his possessions are smart like a smart phone, a smart car, a smart watch, etc, etc... And he himself remains dumb!
Let's see what happens when such cars are introduced in India...a certain movie director , who is obsessed with kissing cars, dancing cars will next introduce a infidelity car whereas another director will be too happy to blow up such a car, like he does in each movie of his. Some movie stars, who are prone to car accidents, will never buy such a car whereas some people, who drink and drive, will pour their drink on the assist facility inside the car, so that it doesn't tell tales on them. But then this issue might never arise in India, since the calls placed by the car, will , in all probability, go unanswered...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Kailasa...Kailash Kher

Yesterday myself and Pratibha had the good fortune of witnessing the Kailash Kher show, live. In fact this was the first live concert which we have seen, other than those in Marathi. We have seen a few Marathi concerts by distinguished classical singers like Rahul Deshpande and Anant Bhate, but for the first time we were attending a Hindi concert.
So here we were reaching the venue on time. The venue was the Raymond grounds and since the show was sponsored by Raymond, we were fortunate to get a 20% discount.  we were, sitting@10 rows from the stage, waiting for the show to start. Since it was a mirchi top 20 show, it was hosted by the effervescent, Suren , of the "Meera and Suren show" on radio mirchi. In addition to being a good RJ, Suren proved himself to be a good compere, interacting very well with the audience. And finally the show started with the Raymond ramp walk, the male models strutting down the ramp walk showing off the varied fashion, exquisite finishing, and Made to Measure offerings, for which Raymond is famous for. And the moment came,  all were waiting for... Entry of Kailash Kher!! For a moment he was not visible, due to his short height, since he came along with the models, but then he started singing, and the entire crowd erupted in applause. What ethereal singing... Such emotion in his singing, such pathos, and the strength in his voice... Easily touching the high notes effortlessly. And then the journey began... Belting out hits one after the other, "Teri Deewani,
Allah Ke Bande,
Tujhe Main Pyar Karu,
Ya Rabba,
Babam Bam,
Tauba Tauba,
Tu Jaane Na,
Piya Ghar Aavenge,
Bam Lahiri, and ending with chakh de chakh de, he was in his elements even between songs. What did he not do in those two hours... Doing the ramp walk, jumping on the stage and walking across the entire length of the stage , prancing about with child like energy. He was total paisa vasool. He did not spare the late comers , taunting them, "Indian culture is alive and kicking only because of these late comers". He certainly has a quick wit and the confidence which has been gained after conducting many concerts across many cities, in India and abroad.
And Kailasa...the band... Rarely do so many talents come together... Good supporting vocals by the Kamath brothers .Kurt, Gomes, Chiplunkar and Roy, on the various music instruments and the boy on the tabla was too good, unfortunately don't remember his name.
Thoroughly enjoyed the entire 2 hours at the venue.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Giving lift to a donkey

Giving lift to a donkey
Nowadays newspapers like to print such stupid stories. After all they have to fill up all the pages with articles, however non news worthy they may be. So today I read in the newspaper the following news, "cop detains wandering donkey". What is so news worthy in this story. But this happened in the US state of Oklahoma and anything happening in US has to create waves. Whether it is a donkey or ...dashians, every news has the capacity to break the internet. So here is a cop doing his normal duties, when he suddenly spies upon that very elegant animal, a donkey. Now, if this happens in any town or the biggest metropolitan city in India, the cops would  just take a detour, since animals of all types, from the humble cats to the regal elephants, are just a part of the everyday traffic and they have the right of the way. And the cops are either too busy, with raiding dance bars or doing other forms of moral policing of the two legged life form,  to worry about the prancing  of the four legged variety. But in Oklahoma, it is a shocker for everyone if any animal other than the homosepien, shows up on city roads. And so the brave cop in Oklahoma gave a lift to the donkey in his patrol car and dropped it to the nearest zoo. I wonder how he must have negotiated and persuaded the donkey to get into his car. With such negotiation and persuasion skills, he should be working in the boardroom, negotiating takeovers and mergers.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

From black holes to pot holes

From black holes to pot holes
Have you heard of Worcestershire? Most of you in the western hemisphere know it as a county in England. Most of the cricket followers also know that it is famous in the English county cricket circuit. After all, Indian stars like Kapil Dev and Zaheer Khan, have played for this county.
But today I had a great laugh when I read an article on Worcestershire. And why not? Now you all know why satellites are blasted into space. There are many reasons... For communications, for weather forecasting, for research, so on and so forth. But the authorities in Worcestershire have come up with a very unique reason... They want to find out pot holes on their roads!! Imagine!!! I mean, of all the things, why would any one wants to use a satellite to discover pot holes. Using a satellite to act as a telescope and look for black holes is one thing but this altogether a different league. After all, the pot holes on Indian roads will be visible with the naked eyes even if you go to the heights reached by satellites. I understand, Neil Armstrong could see these pot holes even from the moon... OK, I am exaggerating. But then I thought, England is a rich country and Worcestershire must be a rich county... But then I read that the people of Worcestershire have taken this news very badly and are protesting about this extravagant use of their hard earned tax money. They have become very intolerant and say that they will return their awards, if the government goes ahead with its plans.
Hence I suggest that we, the people in India, take out candle light marches, as a mark of support to the affected people of Worcestershire. And I am sure, that when the time arises, the people of Worcestershire will also rise in support of the Indian masses who are affected by pot holes so large, that entire trucks and buses are gobbled up and disappear without a trace, into these black holes.
So come one come all.

Mumbai - 2025

Mumbai - 2025 I am wandering through the lanes of my place of birth, Dadar, getting nostalgic about the days gone by. Hindu colony and my ...