Feb 112010
 

A friend of mine came home to invite me for a function at his house. And I was bit pleased. This was the indication of a new life that I am living. And how is that? As some of you know, I am a marine engineer. And my job involved extended period of stay on ships. I have sailed for around 3 year in the period of previous 5 years. Whenever I was at home, my only contact was with few friends, who themselves happen to be mariners. And except for close relatives, I didn’t know anyone in our area. Thats quite different from a villagers character, as everyone knows everyone else in a village. I never used to get invited for any function except by my relatives. And neither would I attend if any, as I was sure I would feel out of place amongst strangers. Then I stopped sailing. And landed a job in city. This involved long travel by trains. Which automatically resulted with friendship with fellow commuters who were regular in the compartment. And one of this commuter is the person who has invited me for the function. I wouldn’t ever have known that this person, travelling along with me, was a person from neighbouring village, had he not been introduced by another of my friend who travels with me. But as it turned out, we have become a small group in the compartment, and friends enough to be invited for functions. Now I see the difference in sea and land life. Money is one factor. But it is suppressed by the life I live on land. The overall social life is much better than on ship. As days go by, I know more people, and more about them. I get time to socialize. I get time to pursue my hobbies. I don’t feel out of place anywhere. And above all, I get to be home, every evening with my family.

Jan 312010
 

I just had my bath, but that didn’t inspire me in posting this. Its was the TV.

Television has come to this world long back, and its had become somewhat an integral part of our life. I remember those days when we used to keep free time in the evening for the tv shows. In India, doordarshan, our national carrier, beamed vast genre of programs and serials. And one of them was the Soap Opera.

The very first soap opera beamed on national tv in India was “Buniyaad”. Many of you might remember it. Though I didn’t understand what was going on in it, neither was I interested, but I watched it regularly, cause we had just one tv(it’s the same case now, but I wouldn’t care less) and my parents were interested. Or may be because our national tv beamed only two channels, and the other one’s clarity was once in a blue moon affair.But what can I say about it? I just “Grew with it”. So long it was, that I celebrated few of my birthdays seeing it.

Then came cable tv, and later satellite. And along it brought flood of soaps. It was a bit difficult for us to understand the language( or the pace of it rather)  of the programs in foreign channels(english), so we stuck to hindi and marathi(I knew these marathi maanoos issue would surface sooner or later, so I had to be thorough). Anyway, me and my brother had some control of the remote now and then, to watch sports, discovery, news etc. Else it had become a sole property of my mother. And for what? These soaps(am still talking about the tv ones, not the bathing ones).

Prime time was like information time for my mother, when she could get enough info to discuss at the office, with her friends, the next day. Lots of serials, with a trade mark double k’s in the title, were aired on prime television, and they were like a religious affair. “I must see these serial today”, was the favourite sentence of my mother. And after few month of viewing, the name of the serial on my mothers lips used to change. I just didn’t understand why my mom would change loyalties so suddenly. And then I investigated, and realised, that some of the serials were off air, as the TRP’s were going down.

I see that this is a very common practice followed nowadays. Soaps are being aired for a long time. Families break up, families makeup(an of course, lots of makeup goes on the ladies). People die. People are reborn, resurrected, reunited. Sane men commit crimes. Murderers have a change of soul. And lots of bullshit. And you know how they end? Poof!! Just go of air. Without any explanation to the viewers.

But the viewers are least bothered. After enduring the drama of few families, interrelated by a spiders web, and affecting each others life in some way or the other, the viewer gets bored and wants a fresh outlook to life. Which the new soap provide. And the producers are happy. Cause the directors, script writers have given up on the story which they have messed up after such a long run.

You know what, soaps, in India at least I would say, are a waste of time for the viewers. You sit an hour in front of the tv, watching an actor trying to get an expression on his face which should be there but of which he is incapable, is a total waste of your time. These programs go on and on as the writer is able to write the script. It can include lots of festivals in it right on time. And these inclusions are the fillers, as the writer has lost it all.

Whenever you watch a film, how would you feel if the film builds up a story, but just midway, the director comes on the screen apologising that this was all he could manage, and that the end of it?

Then why don’t you feel the same about soap?

Jan 292010
 

Isn’t it? I feel so. I have always felt so. What am I doing? Right now I am studying for my higher exams which will ensure a stable and secure life ahead. You feel thats very good for me?

Well, I have been doing this all my life, and so are you. I passed out school with flying colours , and I felt a protective shield around me. I was someone great. Then I move to college, and I found that I had life ahead to think about. And the shield just disappeared. I passed out college, then graduation, and got caught in this endless loop of struggle for better existence on this planet. No job. So further studies. Which landed me a job at sea. But I was not satisfied with this arrangements for my future. So I cleared some higher exams which secured me a higher post at work. But still I didn’t feel that I would be happy enough with life at sea. And at some point during this time I saw the film,”The Gods must be crazy I“. And I realised that in a quest to make life easier, man has made his own life more and more difficult. To find simplicity in life, I left a very good paying sea job and joined on land.

And now I see how easy it can be to have better life when you downgrade your expectations.

In an attempt to make our life easier, we have somehow managed to harness ourselves to all the difficulties which we could create for ourselves. Its always exams, deadlines, places to reach, people to meet.We are never satisfied with what we own, may be not for greed,  but because of that secure feeling that each one of us want for ourselves and our families. In our race towards a better tomorrow, we have messed up our today. That better tomorrow is at the horizon. But it always stays at horizon. Because we live in today, not in tomorrow. And we mess it up too.

So why not try and live better today, and think less about tomorrow? Hold yourselves back at a point. Draw a line for your requirements. Forget about pleasing others for some time, and please yourself.

After all you can live by earning only what you need. And just a bit more…

P.S. : Personally, I always dream of a peaceful life, far away from the city, with bare necessities at disposal. In the laps of nature. But that would be like swimming against the current. And the current is too strong.

Jan 232010
 

I found this particular article in the Times of India page 10 in todays print edition quite amusing. I wouldn’t differ if some of you found it to be just informative. But my analysis; here it is.

The Presidents

Rajendra Prasad
(1884-1963)

Term of Office | January 26, 1950 to May 13, 1962

First President of independent India. A freedom fighter, Rajendra Prasad was the only president to serve two terms in office.

Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan
(1888-1975)

Term of Office | May 13, 1962 to May 13, 1967

A prominent philosopher, writer, a Knight of the Realm who held the position of vicechancellor of Andhra University and Banaras Hindu University. He was also made a Knight of the Golden Army of Angels by Pope Paul VI.

Zakir Husain (1897-1969)

Term of Office | May 3, 1967 to May 3, 1969

He was vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna. Husain died before his term of office ended.

Shri Varahagiri Venkata Giri
(1894-1980)

Term of Office | May 3, 1969 to July 20, 1969 and August 24, 1969 to August 24, 1974

The only person to have the distinction of serving as both acting president and President of India. V V Giri was
   a recipient Bharat Ratna, and his previous positions included minister of labour and high commissioner to Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
(1905-1977)

Term of Office | August 24, 1974 to February 11, 1977

A veteran politician, he held various cabinet posts including food & agriculture, education, industrial development, etc. He died in 1977 before his term ended, and was the second president to have died in office.

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (1913-1996)

Term of Office | July 25, 1977 to July 25, 1982

N S Reddy was the first CM of Andhra Pradesh. He was the only MP from Janata Party to get elected from Andhra. He was unanimously elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha on March 26, 1977 and relinquished this office on July 13, 1977 to become the 6th President of India.

Giani Zail Singh
(1916-1994)

Term of Office | July 25, 1982 to July 25, 1987

Zail Singh served as Punjab CM and later as Union home minister in the Indira Gandhi government.

R Venkataraman
(1910-2009)

Term of Office | July 25, 1987 to July 25, 1992

A former freedom fighter, he first served as minister of finance and industry and later as minister of defence.

Shankar Dayal Sharma
(1918-1999)

Term of Office | July 25, 1992 to July 25, 1997

Sharma had been chief minister of MP, and then Union minister for communications. He also served as the governor of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra. As vice-president, broke down in the Rajya Sabha while witnessing an ugly row by the members.

K R Narayanan (1920-2005)

Term of Office | July 25, 1997 to July 25, 2002

India’s first Dalit president. Served as India’s ambassador to Thailand, Turkey, China and the US. Regarded as an independent president who set several precedents and enlarged the scope of the highest constitutional office.

A P J Abdul Kalam
(born 1931)

Term of Office | July 25, 2002 to July 25, 2007

Eminent scientist and visionary who played a leading role in the development of India’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes. Kalam also received the Bharat Ratna and has authored 4 books.

And the Precedent..

Pratibha Patil
(born 1934)

Term of Office | July 25, 2007 –

Patil is the first woman to become the President of India. She was also the first woman Governor of Rajasthan. In 2009, Patil followed Kalam’s precedent and flew in a fighter aircraft.

It can be seen that all the previous presidents had some sort of qualification under their belt. Some were former ministers, governors, scientists, writers, freedom fighters etc.

But a precedent has been set by selecting a president based on conveniences of the ruling party. Without any bigger qualification to promote(enlighten me if I am not well informed), except for the will to fly in a fighter plane, it seems that the cause of women’s rights and the protection of a particular community(read marathi), has been the judging factor. A precedence of this sort at such a high level in the governance doesn’t go down well.

(Data sourced from The Times of India)

Jan 182010
 

Well. Am taking my chances. Against all odds, namely the surveyors at the examination section of the mercantile marine departmant, India, I start my struggle to procure the Certificate of Chance. Or the CoC, as majority of mariners, know it. I was among those who called it Certificate of Competency, but my colleague Jimmy, enlightened me about the true meaning of this abbreviation, and that left me thinking.

Certificate of Chance!! Is it? More I ponder upon it, more I feel that, for once, my friend Jimmy, has said something true. Certificate of Chance. Yes, it is chance, that confers upon you this certificate, to work on board a ship at a higher position(Though that means nothing for us marine engineers, as all the job profiles in the engine side, on a ship managed by Indian superintendents, are same. Sloggers. But that’s a different matter altogether).

No matter how many ships you have sailed, before appearing for the exams of a higher CoC, you always have to leave it to chance to clear through. No matter how hard you study, and how good you write the papers, the results appear to be printed based upon a game of dice.

Your chances are good if the surveyor is in a good mood. You, an aspirant second engineer, will get off answering to questions meant for a trainee engineer. There is no unravelling of true knowledge possessed by the examinee in the oral examinations. It just depends on whether you came in after another examinee, who has foiled the examiner’s mood.

In short, the examinations for CoC gauge your chances, not your competence.

Right now I am studying for my certificate of chance. But I wonder whether I should study or just leave it to chance? After all, Life’s a struggle, and we all leave it to chance.

Jan 172010
 

Couple of days back I had gone with my colleague to conduct a training session at a particular institute, and I met there a gentleman, whom I recognised as the person who had allotted my first ship as a junior engineer in the shipping corporation of india. There was no way that he might have recognised me, since I had only two interactions with him, and there were always hundreds like myself meeting him daily. After finishing the training session, I enlightened him about this casually, and he had a smile, and then said to himself, “It always comes back to you, you can’t get away from it”.

Yes, you can’t just shake off your past. It has happened with me many times. Some people on my ships became close friends of mine. There was one cook, and a second officer with whom I had sailed on a ship, and became good enough friends with each other to exchange phone numbers and home addresses. With promises of keeping in touch, I signed off from the ship. And during my six months leave, I never ever called any of them, leave alone visit. But on may next ship, both these people were present and it was an awkward moment for us.

A similar thing happened at the beginning of this new year. A chief engineer, with whom I was in touch, but had not called for a long time after taking up a job on land, called for new year wishes from ship. I felt ashamed, since he was quite a senior chief engineer, and I hadn’t called him since a long time, but he remembered me on the new year day, and that too from ship.

After meeting this gentleman at the training centre, I remembered all this, and I realised that there is no way we can ge away from your past, and the people in it. We are bound to cross paths one day. Its ok if the acquaintance was only casual, but if the relationship was deep, its better to stay in touch.

I have started to rake up old phone diaries, and call up people who had meant somthing to me at some point of my life.

Jan 132010
 

I have no means to verify the contents of the mail that I received from my brother today, but its still a good read.
So here it is, word to word, as I received.

“An atheist professor of philosophy speaks to his class on the problem
science has with God, The Almighty. He asks one of his new students to
stand and…….

Prof: So you believe in God?

Student: Absolutely, sir.

Prof: Is God good?

Student: Sure.

Prof:  Is God all-powerful?

Student: Yes..

Prof: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal
him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But God
didn’t. How is this God good then? Hmm? (Student is silent.)

Prof: You can’t answer, can you? Let’s start again, young fella. Is God
good?

Student: Yes.

Prof: Is Satan good?

Student: No.

Prof: Where does Satan come from?

Student: From….God. ..

Prof: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Student: Yes.

Prof: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything.
Correct?

Student: Yes.

Prof: So who created evil?
(Student does not answer.)

Prof: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these
terrible things
exist in the world, don’t they?

Student: Yes, sir.

Prof: So, who created them?
(Student has no answer.)

Prof: Science says you have 5 senses you use to identify and observe the
world around you. Tell me, son…Have you ever seen God?

Student: No, sir.

Prof: Tell us if you have ever heard your God?

Student: No, sir.

Prof: Have you ever felt your God, tasted your God, smelt your God? Have
you ever
had any sensory perception of God for that matter?

Student: No, sir… I’m afraid I haven’t.

Prof: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student: Yes.

Prof: According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science
says your
GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.

Prof: Yes. Faith… And that is the problem science has.

Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Prof: Yes.

Student: And is there such a thing as cold?

Prof: Yes.

Student: No sir. There isn’t.
(The lecture theatre becomes very quiet with this turn of events.)

Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega
heat,
white heat, a little heat or no heat.. But we don’t have anything called
cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t
go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold .. Cold is
only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure
cold. Heat is energy  Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the
absence of it .
(There is pin-drop silence in the lecture theatre.)

Student: What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as
darkness?

Prof: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something.
You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing
light….But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and it’s
called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were you
would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?

Prof: So what is the point you are making, young man?

Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Prof: Flawed? Can you explain how?

Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there
is life and
then there is death, a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the
concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir,
science can’t even explain a thought.. It uses electricity and
magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one.To
view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that
death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of
life: just the absence of it.
Now tell me, Professor.Do you teach your students that they evolved from
a monkey?

Prof: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of
course, I do.

Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shakes his head with a smile, beginning to realize where
the argument is going.)

Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work
and cannot
even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not
teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher? (The
class is in uproar.)

Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s
brain?
(The class breaks out into laughter..)

Student: Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain,
felt it,
touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to
the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol,
science says
that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then
trust your lectures, sir? (The room is silent. The professor stares at
the student, his face unfathomable. )

Prof: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

Student: That is it sir… *The link between man & god is FAITH *. That
is all that keeps things moving & alive.

NB: I believe you have enjoyed the conversation. ..
this is a true story, and the student was none other than…….. … *

.. *APJ Abdul Kalam **, *

*THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF INDIA *”

Jan 102010
 

Its 8 O’Clock in the morning, here in an interior village in Virar(mumbai), and I have second thought about stepping out of my house. ‘Cause its cold out there, and my home provides me tempting heat. Of course its not as chilly as it used to be during my school days, and I used to leave for school a 6 o’clock which was really very cold time.

Oops! Sorry to all you city folks. You do not know what chilly winter is( except for your elders who have experienced it in their youth. To experience the chill, open the deep freezer of your refrigerator and set the thermostat to maximum cold. Then after an hour or so, place your hand on any cold object in it. Felt the cold? Well, its like that, but for the whole body.

You know the reason for this, but you don’t want to blame yourself. How many trees do you have in your surrounding? Your cars cannot replace trees as the subsitute of chlorophyll for producing oxygen. Neither can they cool down your surrounding as trees do.

As soon as I reach the station area of virar, I start feeling hot, due to less natural vegetation and more concrete jungle. Which is shabbily planned too. But my green belt of vasai is completely engulfed by trees, and hence our climatic conditions are somewhat balanced. If you had read in news, vasai was undergoing through turmoil few months back, as we were opposing the inclusion of our villages into the virar-vasai municipal corporation. We foresee the effects of  unplanned and unwanted development(read concrete jungle), hence the opposition. Our local politicians had tried to prove it as a communal event, but above are the true reasons.

Few days back two environmental activists from mumbai were threatened by unknown people to withdraw their PIL against development of public places. Stand up alongside this activists, if you fell that you deserve some fresh air and a space to loosen up your legs. The results of the vasai-virar case will be out in few days, and we know we have done out best against this environmental enemies. Its your duty if you need some chilly winters.

Jan 082010
 

……..this is not my view. It the view of our worthless bureaucrats, while we continue to tolerate uneducated ministers, who draw huge salaries during their nonuseful tenure, even if they are not qualified enough for any job.

As can be read in the report, Jasveer Kaur Ahluwalia was denied the well deserved pension after retirement from the municipal corporation aided school. How could be judged as unqualified after so many years of service? And wasn’t the school paying her monthly wages officially? Or was it done under table? I don’t think so.

Do you expect, from a person who is nearing his/her retirement, to go back to school and obtain some “necessary” training? Why can’t we have some exceptions or cutoffs for such requirements. Especially if the requirement was not in existence previously when the person was carrying out the duties responsibly and smoothly.

It can be seen how our system has failed us once again, and it keeps on failing. Somewhere, ministers prove it while here our bureaucrats make the point.

Our system is really collapsing if we cannot give an aged women a rightful living.

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