Monday, June 30, 2008

Congress sticks out its neck on the Nuclear deal

As most of the readers are aware, India and the U.S. are in advanced talks to complete signing an agreement that will benefit both countries. It is the Nuclear deal that I am talking about. While the Indian government, in particular the Congress, feels that the agreement will do a lot to enable India to make use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the Left parties of India, in particular, the C.P.I. (M), feel that the agreement is a virtual sell-out to the U.S. and will destroy the independent nature of India's stand vis-a-vis the U.S.' foreign policy (w.r.t. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, etc.)

Now, the Congress party has garnered the support of many of its supporters in the United Party Alliance circle (the U.P.A.) - such as the Samajwadi Party, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (the SP, the NCP and the BSP respectively). Even with this support, however, the Congress government cannot maintain majority in the Lok Sabha, and if the C.P.I. (M) withdraw the external support it had been providing the U.P.A., the central government will fall.

The next step in the signing process is India's presentation of safe-guards to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, www.iaea.org) in August. Let us see how this drama unfolds. It remains to be seen when the government falls ... as it will, as I see it.


For the past two months, I have, for one reason or the other, become very irregular when it comes to going to the gym for the daily work-out. Several reasons (or should I say, rationalising) come to mind, and if I sit and dissect each one, almost all will hold no water. Let me list them first, so that you, the reader, will know what I am talking about:
  1. My professional work has increased, making it impossible for me to find the 90-120 minutes needed to do this activity.
  2. My first five months at the gym have produced no weight loss; in fact, I have put on four kg!
  3. A general feeling of laissez-faire
  4. Too many "other" commitments - first, Inas' college admission, then, Hannah's school related running around, and so on and so forth.
I am of the opinion here that I am definitely creating excuses here. Well, a few days here and there may be really busy and my not going to the gym in such cases may be genuine, but I think I am now using that as a blanket excuse to not go. I despise myself for doing this ... this game of trying to deceive myself and not going to where it is absolutely necessary for a person of my age, physique and medical problems to go.

I sincerely hope to break out of this stupid habit and to resume my march towards physical fitness. I joined a web-site called "Spark-people" specifically for this purpose. It is a wonderful site for all those who are fitness conscious. From exercise, to healthy eating, to healthy life-style, to blogging, chatting, public forums, health articles and the ability to set targets and goals etc., it has nearly everything a person would need to achieve his/her goals.

I have been perusing the site regularly for the past few months, but as I noted above, it doesn't seem to motivate me. I am looking for inspiration and advice.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Funny anecdotes

Used to issue cheques (checks for Americans) on several occasions every month, I am rather unconsciously "Pavlovised" to see if my signature is at the bottom of these cheques or not; whenever I see a signature missing, I will instantly sign the cheque and feel a sense of having "completed" the task of writing a proper cheque.

What happened today, not once, but twice, is something along these lines; I had to forward a cheque of my mom and my wife to two different parties; in both cases, the cheques were not signed. What I did next can only be summed up in two words: horrific and stupid.

I signed both the cheques with a flourish, when I am not even a joint account holder in both my mom's and wife's accounts! In the instant after I had finished signing and placed the pen back on my table, I realised what I had done: I had signed on cheques which had nothing to do with me!

I had to go back to my mom (and will do the same with my wife in the night when I reach home) and get a fresh cheque from her ...

So much about being a person with creativity and superior intelligence (most IQ tests place me between 120-130, which means I am definitely above average ... that being 80-110)!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Accepting old age and other related stuff

For some strange reason, human beings in the last 150-200 years have become vain and finicky in nature. Unable to stop all ills that plague us, especially, the advancement of Father Time, we become boorish, short-tempered, anxious and silly as we cross youth and arrive at Middle age. This is somewhat like what happened to me in the last six years. Till I was 41-42, I never felt the vicissitudes of age; I was agile (well, perhaps not as agile as, say, Roger Federer or Kaka), remembered things very well, looked forward to more work and was considered a capital fellow among my friends and cousins. I cannot say with certainty if girls swooned behind my back after I had passed them by, but you can be reasonably sure that that was *not* the case :-)

At the same time, I knew that I did have some intrepid women who secretly admired me even then. I can't say I can add the name of my better half to that list, but I don't think she *hated* me. In the last six-odd years, I have perceived the actual phenomenon of growing old. My memory does not serve me as well as it did back then; I do not get "readily aroused" on seeing feminine flesh or the icons of beauty; I have an uncharacteristic liking for lying frequently on the bed whenever I am free and around in my home; and by far the worst trait of all: I have become silly - unforgiving, short-tempered, boorish and all those other things I wrote above.

This has, no doubt, led to several uncalled for "scenes" during my normal acts of social activities. I raise my voice in public, and immediately regret having done so, since the "public" looks up to me to learn the meaning of the "good life" ... where the tempers are mild, the manners, impeccable and the mind and the body, relaxed. My wife reprimands me whenever she is there - sometimes by raising her eyebrows in that characteristic style of hers that authors have described as being an act where looks can kill; at other times, she will keep quiet at that time, but haul me over the coals at night when we have said our antiseptic good-byes to our daughters and have retired to the battle-ground of our "bedroom". She will then dissect every nuance of the conversation, discuss each and every word uttered by me and also point out my 118 mistakes in the course of that 3-minute experience.

I dread these post-motems, not because of the sound and thunder but because, invariably, she is always RIGHT.

More some other time.

Firefox Mozilla Stable version 3.0

A few days ago, Firefox 3.0 stable version was released by Mozilla. I downloaded it on the very first day, as I had tried the beta version earlier and had found some of its features very innovative. Now, lest someone thinks me to be a guru on the internet and its related subjects, let me confess that I am as far from being a net-guru as Plutoid (the new name of the erstwhile planet Pluto, the solar system's recently demoted 9th body from the sun) is from the sun! I was interested a) because I am always into checking any and every program for updates and b) because of its great new features.

The features I really liked were the amazing number of compatible add-ons such as extensions, themes and so on; the ability to add a web-page as a "favourite" by simply clicking on a star symbol on the right end of the address bar box; the drop-down list in the address box that lists the title of the web-page, its URL short name, its actual url and some extra contextual material; inherent customisation of its look; the ability to integrate thunderbird and its mail application to it; the excellent download utility; and the reduced number of unnecessary buttons and the like on the browser.

I am telling you all: download this stable version of FF3 and do all of us a favour: it is simple, intuitive and great for those who do not mind a little extra work to enhance their browsing experience.

To download it, click here.

To look for add-ons, browse this page.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Coming down strictly on my daughter

I have always flirted with girls, and sometimes they have been very, very young. However, I have always done this with an innocent frame of mind, just to have some fun. However, the shoe was on the other foot, when I saw my elder daughter flirting with an apparently older man by chat over the net. I did not know what to do as the conversation, or the part of it that I read, was slowly turning puerile. and yet, Inas was enjoying herself tremendously. I urged her to disconnect that chat, but she refused, and she kept refusing repeatedly. Finally, unable to bear her temperament for ever, I stepped in and forcibly closed down the chat, but not before making her type words to the effect that that boy was not to write in such language ever, to her. This done, I switched off the chat application, and made her leave the side of the computer. Later in the afternoon, I logged on to the "My Accounts" page and changed my account password.

Comfortably relaxed on a Sunday

This is one of my favourite things to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon: write in my blog. This happens to be the 2497th Sunday of my life ... give or take a few, and today, I am going to relate a few things about my childhood. I remember a most enjoyable visit to the hill-station of Matheran (a jungle on the head in Marathi) when I was 12 years old. I had gone there with my fellow-students in a school-guided trip under the supervision of my teachers. The high point of my experience was the stay in a old-style Laxmi Hotel, with 4 students to a room in a dorm-like room. I do not remember the names of my room-mates. The hotel was just next to a dirt road that led out to the edge of the mountain and to a point known as "Bombay Point". The other exhilarating experience was my winning a ball-point pen in a singing competition. I remember singing a Hindi film song and I also remember that the teacher most impressed with my singing was my Hindi/Gujarati teacher Mrs. T. K. Ashar.

Down the decades, whenever I have met her, I have recalled that incident, and I think that prize and that experience made her soften towards me too during the rest of my days in school.

After that school-trip, I have visited Matheran twice, once as a teenager with a school-friend, and once with my family. This last outing was in a comfortable A/C hotel called Hotel Kumar Lodge and occurred barely 6-7 years ago. These two visits, however, pale before my first ever visit as a school child.

Sikhs vs. Sikhs

Some months ago, I remember reading about two opposite factions of Sikhs fighting it out in Punjab. While one faction, known as the Khalsa panth, comprises the majority of Sikhs, including those who are powerful and/or rich, the other, known as the Dera Sacha Sauda, has broken off from the main Akal Takht and is under the stewardship of a gentleman with the curious name of Ram Rahim Singh. He is supposed to have secured the support of the poor and the downtrodden.The first incident occurred when he presented himself before the people wearing a dress that resembled the attire of Guru Gobind Singh, the last Sikh Guru. Riots and trouble broke out between the two factions in Punjab. However, soon thereafter, RRS apologised and the matter died a well-deserved death.

Now, RRS has re-surfaced in a suburb (Mulund) in Mumbai. His presence was enough to provoke large crowds of main-stream Sikhs to come out in protest on the roads and shout slogans to the others to have RRS thrown out of the metropolitan city. This was countered by the follower-bodyguards of the leader by firing at the crowd, in which Barkarar Singh (which, to crack a PJ, means sustaining, or permanent), a local Sikh, died.

The death of an innocent (or not-so-innocent) protester has been followed by even more rioting and agitations like the famous "rasta roko" and "rail roko" in Mulund and nearby areas yesterday. Three men of the Dera have already been booked for firing and one of them has confessed to have actually fired at Barkarar Singh. He has been arrested.

Now, why am I writing this? This is because everyone says religion is all-redeeming and can save lives. So why is it that the Sikhs, mostly known for their peace-loving attitudes, fighting with their own brethren and even killing them? It is not as if the DSS people have denounced the gurus or the Holy Guru Granth Saheb. The two factions are as real as any other differences that occur between people of the same religion ... and the two factions must learn to co-exist peacefully with each other.

I also strictly feel that the administration of Punjab, its CM, etc. who are also contributing to the mess, should KEEP AWAY from the essentially religious problem.

Friday, June 20, 2008

On to more serious topics ... Inflation in India rises.

In keeping with my resolve to write a little more seriously, I am going to tell you about inflation rates in India in the present context.

As the readers know, global prices of fuel have hit the roof in recent times, and hence, the prices of petroleum and petroleum products, which were, until now "controlled" (with generous governmental subsidies) at low levels, were raised by the ruling central government about 14 days ago. The rise was about 10% for petrol (what Americans call gasoline), 8% for diesel and about 15% for cooking gas (LPG). This was met with protests by the opposition parties and also by non-governmental organisations. However, it must be said to the credit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (no doubt advised by Sonia Gandhi, nee Maino, widow of Rajiv and mother of Rahul and Priyanka), that his government has NOT backtracked on the price hike and the people are learning to live with it.

As a result of this price rise, coupled with the meltdown in the stock markets, the gradual appreciation of the dollar vis-a-vis the Indian Rupee, the sub-prime crisis and the economic and industrial slow-down, the inflation rate (as calculated by the WPI or the Wholesale Price Index) has climbed over the past 4-6 months from an acceptable 4-5 % to an unacceptable 11.05 % in the week ending on June 14.

... And the people are feeling the pinch. The prices of vegetables, fruit, meats, and virtually every other staple, consumable, and non-perishable essential and luxury goods have risen to hitherto unseen levels (I am talking with a time-frame of at least the last ten years!).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting more visitors to a blog

It would appear to me that putting gadgets, video, audio and links will help to some extent in popularising a blog, but what really helps it to become more popular is to keep posting every day, and if possible, post content that people like to read. Use of good language and a proper, easy to read display are also important, but if the content is not liked by the readers, the blog will remain in the shadows. Therefore, I have decided to move from personal entries to a wider canvas from tomorrow. Also, I will endeavour to write at least one entry everyday. You, dear reader, will notice the difference in the days to come. Do let me know of your impressions by writing in your comments.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Resumed the gymnasium

After a gap of nearly a month or even more, dogged by problems of Inas' admission, a lot of work as a doctor and some degree of boredom, I went back to the gymnasium on the 16th of June. The start was a lot difficult as I had not exercised at all in the intervening month and also eaten in an unrestricted manner. Thanks to the double whammy of improper eating and lack of exercise, I have gained nearly 1.3 kg in the intervening month and am at 83.2 kg as on the 17th. I am feeling bad about this, but what can I do but smile at my own foolhardiness and make a fresh resolve to begin the journey again from where it is now?

The other noteworthy thing to share with you all is that professional work has now slackened off and enabled me to go back, not only to the gym but also to my reading, writing and so on. This, I know, is not very good news on face value, but I try to find a silver lining in every cloud; here, the silver lining is the freedom to pursue the desires of my heart and not be immersed only in earning the extra money.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Inas' Entrance exam results are out

... and you guessed it right: she has secured a measly 72%, which is even less than the marks she got in the boards! And to think that this is what she spent an extra 75000 on! The private tuitions, the running around, the countless sacrifices her mother, sister and I made to keep her going for medical entrance ... we are naturally disappointed. However, we are NOT going to weep over this. It is a given that she has charted this road for herself. I even have a poem on this in my Writing.com portfolio called: "You made your bed, now lie on it!"

She is now certain to confirm her admission to the B.Sc. course in hotel management and catering at the Anjuman-e-Islam's A.K. Hafizka Institute of Hotel Management, Catering and Tourism. I have already admitted her into this institute with a provisional admission ticket.

We are feeling shy and almost embarrassed to share her marks with relatives, her friends, or anybody else. This blog seems to be just the right place to unburden our feelings.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Living in Mumbai in the rains

While thinking about what to write in this blog today, it suddenly struck me that I have so many thoughts about the rains that have hit Mumbai city since the past seven days, so why not write about that?

As any reader knows, Mumbai is located on the western side of India and is an island city connected to the mainland just below the Gujarat projection on the map of India. Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra, and is called the urbs prima Indis, or "India's first city". The western coast of India comprises coastal areas of Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, as also Goa. The Konkan belt of Maharashtra is the most famous of all after Goa; it is famed for several things, but mostly for Ratnagiri and Devgad Alphonso mangoes. The Sahyadri mountains lie to the east of the Konkan belt and shield the parts of India to their east away from the buffetting rains that come to the Konkan belt, thanks to the South-westerly monsoon winds. Mumbai lies in the Arabian sea, and the winds that hit it from the S-W region bring with them the famoues Mumbai rains.

These rains have been immortalised in movies and literature. Hindi movies, made chiefly in Mumbai's famous "Bollywood" have always had a love-love relationship with rains, because, after all, water makes women more sensuous and desirable. Zeenat Aman, Smita Patil, Sridevi, and several other heroines of the silver screen have all danced in the rains while belting out melodious songs. Who can forget Sridevi's dance "Kaate nahin katte din ye raat" from Mr. India, or "Hai hai yeh majboori" of Zeenat for Manoj Kumar's Roti Kapada aur Makaan" ... both excellent songs picturised in the rains.

My personal take on rains: they are great when one is indoors, and is looking out at them; they are horrible when one is at their mercy - outdoors without proper rain-protection. This year, they hit without a clue to their arrival on the 5th of June. Since then, rains are pouring relentlessly ... 7 days later. I usually travel on a two-wheeler, and rains make it necessary to wear a rain-suit while riding a scooter. This makes the whole thing very inconvenient and problematic.

One thing that I am already enjoying thanks to the rain? It has to be "fried foods" which are considered a bit safer to eat in this climate and season as compared to other seasons.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Waiting for my elder daughter's exam results was a little of all these: suspense, agony, boredom and also anticipatory excitement. Will she make the cut? Will her results reflect the time, money and effort that her parents and family put in in the previous one and a half years as she studied to make a career in medicine? Will we see her on the merit list of the board (like I was; I stood 14th in the Maharashtra State board examinations of 1977!)? Or will she show us how worthless were her and our efforts and come up with a less than exciting result? In the end, the hours she wasted on the mobile phone and computer, the hours she wasted watching things outside the room's window, the hours she wasted watching movies downloaded on the computer and the hours she wasted thinking all this to be a game - took their toll, and she did, in fact, come up with an above average but a far more ordinary result of under 80%.

To say that I am not disappointed would be a lie; however, being a practical person who has seen failure in his own life on more than one occasion, I took her results in my stride and was, in fact, consoling Nishrin, my wife and Inas' father, to stop beating her breast and screaming abuses at Inas. This isn't the end of life or the end of her career ... is it? Three days have passed since the results were declared, and I admit I am not tense or dejected any more. We are now waiting for her "Medical Entrance exam" results, which should be out in a few days' time.

Inas' result

nas' H.S.C.E. result was along expected lines! She has, once again, secured just under 79% ...(her S.S.C.E. result was 79.2%), with over 83% in PCMB and nowhere near the ambitious 85-90% that her mother was expecting of her. I won't say I was delighted with the result, but frankly, I wasn't expecting her to score above 80%, so it was in line with my expectations. We wait now for the CET results, which are due in two days' time. If she scores above 85-88% there, she has a chance of at least trying for dentistry or any other appropriate paramedical line. If not, then there's always hotel management. And that is what rankles Nishrin, who doesn't want her to go for that branch of study. She cried and threw temper tantrums that day right into the night ... now she has accepted the result, I think. Let's hope for the best.

Friday, June 06, 2008

On the eve of Inas' results

Today, on the eve of Inas' results, I am a little expectant; a little worried and a little anxious too. If she gets excellent marks in the XIIth results, it will mean a big psychological boost that will spread rapidly among the family members. However, although the XIIth results are tomorrow, she does not seem too perturbed. This is because, whether she does well or not, she cannot reap any dividends from this result. For that, she has to wait another ten-odd days when the results of the MH-CET (Maharashtra Common Entrance test) will be out. If she scores a high percentile (over 95th) she will have a good chance of joining medical college. If not, then she will have to settle with finalising admission to the hotel management and catering - for which she has already secured provisional admission.

So, we're gonna be on tenterhooks for at least another ten to twelve days!

Please pray that she gets good marks and can join medicine ...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Net vs. Life: Two personas?

Sometimes, I, too, succumb to the two personalities thing like millions of others in cyber-space. Well, you know what I am talking about. It is not about "www.secondlife.com" where you can actually be yourself in an avatar of your own choice; nor am I talking about taking a different name and chatting; I am talking about projecting a completely different persona with habits and mannerisms totally alien to your actual self.

Let me give you an example: in real life, I am too fatherly to even think of romancing a mid-teenager; yet, on the net, I flirt with teenagers with panache and a joy that is hard to conjure up in real life. Projecting one's age, sex or location are passe and perhaps meant for teenagers who want to protect their privacy. With older people like me, it is more of keeping one's mental propensities and inclinations private. although this blog is a medium for me to declare public all my private and real weaknesses, I still have many secrets that I probably will NEVER disclose - not even anonymously, let alone in my easily identifiable blogs.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Changes at my clinic premises

Those familiar with my previous entries have already seen photos of my clinic during and after its inauguration circa October 21, 2008. The last room of my clinic was usually not used by me except when I needed to use the wash-room or make tea in a small pantry-like nook out there. This was the room which I had made with the express purpose of either letting it out to some other doctor to have his/her consultation room, or may be start blood-collection/pathology work. However, w.e.f. the first of June, my better half has joined me and has started running her salon from right inside! This necessitated some carpentry/other work, which got done in the last fortnight of May. It cost us about Rs. 25000/-($ 1 = Rs. 42/-) but the work got done in time, and Nish has now moved in with her stuff and staff and does her prettifying work in the last room while I continue to do my consultations in my cabin. There is a time overlap only during my afternoon consultation; in the evening, the work from her end gets over at or around 7.30 p.m. That also happens to be the time I start MY evening consultations. So, time overlap problem does not occur in the evening.

This thing is getting settled now, and there is no further problem ... except that the way the clinic is designed, her clients have to pass through my cubicle to get to her cubicle ... and this is acting as a minor dampener on her clients, some of whom are bashful and would not like to "show" themselves to men who are not related to them. You know, I am talking about the veil and the hijaab. On the other hand, my patients, who are sitting with me in the consulting cabin also get a bit flustered to find women flitting past from outside to within and vice versa. Let us see how this goes ...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The story so far

... is not a very heartening one, I admit. I have confessed to at least four or five idiosyncrasies and weaknesses, and I say now that these form only the tip of the iceberg-like psyche that I am trying to open before the readers of this blog. I am driven to write more and more of my weaknesses, and perhaps the time will come when I will be done with listing my weaknesses and proceed to talk about my ... ah ... few strengths ...

As of today, my site has had less than 50 visitors, but they are from three continents already! I do think this to be a healthy trend.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sarcasm - how I mess up things

The more I think about this, the more I am convinced that I am a glutton for sarcasm - I heap it upon others in oodles. I must say, however, that I can take it as well as I can give it to others, so, at least in that respect, I am a perfectly "normal" sort of person :-)

I have been a fairly sarcastic person since I touched the teens, my fast-thinking mind able to conjure up cutting remarks at every twist and turn in a conversation. Ironically, this characteristic, at the same time, annoys them, and endears me, to the same people (who know me). Annoys them because they are often at the receiving end of the remarks passed by me; endears me to them because they are quick to spot the wit and to realise that my comments are nothing but a passing breeze that does not wait to see if it caused feathers to ruffle and to then titter at the victim.

I am like that. I make remarks that are often seen by ME as innocent, but by the others (at the receiving end) as mocking, degrading or insulting ... but by the time they start getting annoyed at it, I have often either apologised by gestures or words, or laughed the whole thing away by saying, "Oh, come on, don't look at me like that, man, I was only joking!"

The dear wife fell in love with my wit, and despite some very scathing ironical remarks that I passed at her during those courtship years, she stuck by her decision to lock me in matrimony with her and throw away the key ... in the years to follow, however, with the pressures of life coming up, she has become a little less tolerant of my acidic tongue and often threatens to produce the key and to use it to unlock me from her fetters ... silly me!

My elder daughter has more or less the same qualities that I do, and is often ironical while conversing with friends. I have had to remind her more or less everyday that on her path lie the ruins of my life: I show her how I have often lost friends, dear friends, who have chosen to "drift away" rather than bear the cross of listening to my vitriol poured out whenever I meet them.

This irony-laden tongue has also affected me professionally, with some colleagues choosing not to take me into their circle of influence, of leaving me out of their invite list for a party or a social occasion, of not sending me a patient that they would have otherwise referred to me because of my skills in the professional arena. This is something that has saddened me no end, and in the process, wizened me to approach professional colleagues with respect and less criticism.

Dear reader, how would you feel if you were at the receiving end of sarcasm? And how would you consider the attitude of being ironical at all times? I know, I know, both questions are no-brainers. It is obvious that one should be disgusted with people like me ... and yet, I don't know. I feel that criticism cloaked in gentle sarcasm is the way to go ahead to improve the lot of self or/and others.

What do you think? Do comment.