Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Selfie Revolution

How quickly the world around us changes! I often wonder how the world where we live has become so small and how fast we can not only communicate verbally but exchange videos, pictures and even live stream with our friends and relatives virtually in any part of the world. Having been a part of this evolution like most of us, the breathtaking pace of changes in technology sometimes makes me wonder if this is for real? As a kid, my brush with photography started with a Kodak box camera that I got as a gift from a relative while still in the school. It remained a treasured possession for a long time till I first travelled to the USA in early 1981 and purchased my first colour camera. The unending love for capturing the moments while serving in the Navy, the spirit of adventure, travel around the country and the distant lands, experience the sights, smells and sounds continued unabated.

The real magic started with the smart phones when the ‘Selfies’ broke the barriers in photography and without relying on any one, one could capture the moment from an arm’s distance and much later with the improvised ‘selfie sticks’ The story of the ‘selfie’  is no less interesting as  the first reported selfie was taken by Nathan Hope in Sep 2002 and while attempting to take the selfie on a staircase tripped and landed face first and the teeth coming a close second and a wide one cm long gash on front  lip!  A lot has happened since then and being a part of the journey while working at the technology giant Ericsson at that time. I saw the entry of Sony Ericsson Z1010 mobile phone in 2003 with a ‘front facing camera’ which could be used for selfies and video calls. It has been a breathtaking pace of transition to see the new smartphones with better features appearing in the market at regular intervals, with greater clarity, improved granularity, sharper images, day/night modes and a long list.
A trek in Moneglia in Cinque Terre region of Italy
Some of the most memorable moments that I could capture by my smartphone were a journey to Cinque Terre in Italy, known for one of the most spectacular scenic beauty. My love for treks one morning took me through the winding trails up the hills in Moneigla, a small sleepy village on the Mediterranean coast.  The long climb up the mountains had a thick cover of olive trees. The lush cherries and plums, that I picked along to have one of the most memorable treks. Right behind me was the verdant deep blue Mediterranean Sea on the cusp of the mountains. Though I did manage to capture the beauty, if I had a camera smartphone like Dual In One Mobistar mobile'Selfie Camera' smartphone, to capture the 120dgree wide vision, the results would have been spectacular like capturing a ‘real moment’ to ‘Enjoy More’ for posterity.
A visit to the Galimard Perfumery at Grasse, France
The other moments like a trip to Galimard perfumery located in the world perfume capital, Grasse in France deserve a mention. The heavenly aroma of the fragrances and the process of manufacture of the perfumes was a real eye-opener. In the picture, you can see the thrill of making your own perfume in the eyes of my wife with a backdrop of the finest perfumes. Once again,  the only regret that the wide-angle coverage has been missed. Although, the essence of the place has been captured. The beautiful town of Grasse has so many perfume factories is to be seen to believe.
With Ninita Morena at the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain
Another rare moment was with a German national Ninita Morena with whom I was on a FAM trip post-Madhya Pradesh Tourism Mart 2016 that I attended. We took a selfie at the Mahakaleshwar  Jyotirlinga Temple at Ujjain. The picture tells a story of cutting across the barriers of race and religion and enjoying the moment with divinity.  Not only did Ninita visit the Sanctum Sanctorum but also relished the ‘prasad ‘ offered at the temple.
With blogger friends Manjulika and Dipanshu at Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary

I have been singularly lucky to be in the company of some blogger friends who were invited to visit a property at Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary located in Madhya Pradesh. The thrilling ride on an open jeep that streaked through the jungles on the dusty roads to spot the tiger was a memorable one. We did manage to capture the thrill but were unable to capture the tiger and her cub in the selfie!

I hope the new Mobistar  Dual in One Camera Smartphone with the powerful 120-degree vision, low light capability, better pixel resolution with enhanced 'Selfie Experience'  will empower the users not to miss out on the rare moments of our life in future

PS This post is my submission for and Mobiistar on Flipkart. and Indiblogger sponsored the contest

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Prayer

Sunrise to  sunset the  time flies each day
  The daily chores punctuated with odd jobs stay
Not many changes to routine yet each day is new
 Resolve to walk more miles with energies renewed
Hear chirp of birds, the sound of bumble bees
  A clap of thunder, raging storms and thundering seas
The beauty of snow clad mountains and flowering trees
   Green meadows, flowing rivers and lovely retreats
So much to thank almighty for the countless treats
    Every new day brings untold joys with every heartbeat

PS- Image Kind Courtesy Google

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The World is Not Enough

A young boy aged about five craned out his little neck from the window of a moving train of a third class compartment as the steam engine bellowed out smoke and chugged ahead. After a while, he suddenly withdrew his head inside as fly ash and soot from the burnt charcoal particles entered his eyes and he cried in pain. The mother who was sitting beside cleaned the eye with the handkerchief after washing with some cold water. Within minutes the child was once again busy looking out of the window, unconcerned about the eye, gazing at the passing fields, a cluster of houses and the electricity poles as they flashed past! The kid has not changed much despite the passage of few decades the enthusiasm to peep out of the window either in a bus, train, boat, ship or a flight still unchanged! You guessed it right! The kid was none other than me.

In the initial years whilst still, at school and college, the holidays were to nearby towns of Delhi and a couple of cities scattered across the country. The changing countryside, dialects and languages, the way people dress, aromas of different foods were the first impressions that left an indelible impact in the coming years. Different cultures and languages witnessed while travelling helped in understanding the history and geography of places.

Then came the momentous day when I finished the college to take a 2-night train journey to Kochi to join the Naval Academy!  It was a defining moment for someone who had never seen the sea in life, to seek a profession full of thrill and adventure on the high seas. The stories of Captain Ahab in ' Moby Dick' and ' Fifteen Men on the Dead Man's chest.... Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum' in the legendary 'Treasure Island' by Robert Louis Stevenson were a literary confluence that shaped in pursuit of a sailor's life.The love for the sea, to see the dolphins pursuing the aircraft carrier in which I sailed, to a date with seagulls in the evening were something I miss even now!A journey to new port meant meeting the new people and learning new customs! For someone used to eating food with hands for a good twenty years, everything changed to eating by fork and spoon for every meal in the Naval Mess! There were opportunities to take a dive in the submarine and also fly onboard a helicopter that took off from the flight deck, strengthening the resolve to conquer all possible frontiers. During the vacations, I would pack my bags to head to places like Leh in the North to Shillong in the East to see how the arid mountains and the tea plantations look like! I had my wife as a willing partner in crime to travel! Just after our marriage, we headed to Kashmir and also undertook treks to Chandanwadi from Pahalgam followed with an arduous journey to Leh by road in an Army bus with a night stopover at Kargil! The Commanding Officer of the Transit Camp at Leh welcomed us informing me that I was the first officer to visit Leh after the Chief of the Naval Staff! The blazing deserts in Jaisalmer with fiery hot winds and temperatures of 47 deg C to the sultry weather of Chennai and Madurai were equally lovable. The chimes of bells in Varanasi and Dwarka, Azan from the Dargah of Chisti in Ajmer to exploring the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa paved the way for a truly secular outlook that our lovely land offers!
At Burj Khalifa in Dubai

As the life took another turn a plunge in the corporate world paved the way for a journey to the lands I had only dreamt of. Journeys to the mystical land of Jesus in Israel and Bethlem, floating on the Dead Sea, climbing the World Trade Centre( prior to 9/11), Burj Khalifa, and the Petronas Towers gave a real power of enjoying the spectacular distant vision. Skiing down the slopes in Jungfrau on the Swiss Alps, appreciating the beauty of Mona Lisa in Louvre, David by Michelangelo at Florence, a Papal audience in the Vatican are some of the memorable events among many that opened the mind to make every journey unique.
Antibes in the French Riviera

The beauty of the French and Italian Riviera on the coasts of Mediterranean with the deep blue sea kissing the coastline, watching the whales in action at Kaikoura and dolphins in Akaroa in New Zealand, tasting the pizzas by going all the way to Naples, bring back the childlike curiosity to keep exploring this beautiful world forever!
At Jungfrau in the Swiss Alps

The inspiration for travel keeps the urge to know and learn more with every passing year.It only keeps getting stronger with the passage of time as no matter how much you travel, ' The World is Not Enough' to see, learn and conquer.

PS: This is my submission for the Lufthansa( and Indiblogger sponsored blog contest


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Save Every Drop

The heat was unbearable as I sweated profusely looking at my other oarsmen in the boat. I still remember the time vividly as if it was yesterday. I along with five more trainees at the Naval Academy in Cochin was on a 10-day sailing regatta/camp from Kochi to Quilon( Kollam now!), a distance of 138 km one way. Every night we would halt somewhere en route by coming alongside the shore. There were 8 Whaler( boats) with a crew of six trainees in each equipped with oars and sails, maps, compass, a stove and some ration with a bottle of water which could be used for covering the designated route every day. It was a training of endurance and stamina and the test of nerves. Every day, the most scarce commodity was undoubted, the water bottle which had to last the day! How every drop mattered I learned by facing the nature 's adversity, especially rowing the boat for 6 to 8 hours in strong sunshine and opening sails later in the afternoon as the wind picked up!

The importance of water for our existence does not need any elaboration! Over the years as I moved around, I realized that most of us take the availability of water for granted as have seldom faced any real-life situation of the paucity of water. The degradation of nature, pollution of lakes, rivers and wells or for that most of the sources of water has now created an alarming situation.
The next generation will have to suffer if the trend is not reversed.

It is never too late if the charity begins at home. Some very easy things that can help in saving water are :
1. Try to take a bath using a bucket of water or less instead of the shower.
2. Do not fill up a glass of water if the entire amount is not to be consumed. In case, one is not able to use the entire amount either cover the glass for reuse later or else pour it on a plant.
3.The leaky taps, pipes or other sources of water must be repaired to avoid the wastage
4. When using the flush, try not to empty the cistern every time unless it is essential
5. Turn off the tap when shaving or cleaning teeth and use only when required

It is estimated that two third of the world's population will be in a grip of water scarcity by 2025!
Alternative sources of energy have to be available to the populace as in the USA alone, half the fresh water is used by the thermoelectric power plants for generation of electricity. The situation is no different in other parts of the world.
Of the available fresh water around the world, 68% is trapped in glaciers and only 30% is in the ground.

In a country like ours, there is an urgent need to cleanse the rivers which are a major source of water for all purpose. In the northeast and south where the rainfall is higher compared to the rest of the country efficient rainwater harvesting methods can help in a big way to channelise them to water deficit regions. In Israel, when the snow melts in Golan Heights in the north, the streams of water are collected in catchment areas to be used for irrigation by drip technology

As the technology keeps bringing in greater and efficient methods with every passing year, the commercial desalination of the sea water as adopted in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait could provide relief to some extent but in the meanwhile, the need of the hour is to use water with discretion and conserve in all possible manner. A beautiful illustration of this is in the following video, an initiative by  Livpure, #CuttingPani


If you agree to support the initiatives to save water do sign the petition on the link
PS: This is my post for Livepure/ Indiblogger initiative

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Thanking Women

A day most important that matters most
 We need to thank someone who bore us at huge cost
Raised us as kids, had sleepless nights
  Held  our hand never left out of sight
Loved as a sister, a companion and best friends
  Expecting little,sacrificing, and helping at every bend
Let us thank lord each day for he created women
   So that we have some one to take care and listen

PS:1. Image Kind Courtesy Google
2. One cannot convey the gratitude in enough words to thank all the women who make the difference in a man's life

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Awaiting Good Times

The unending loot, and fall of trust
 Raises  graph of crime and insatiable lust
The hapless honest can do little but stare
  While crooks and lumpen continue to blare
They mock at systems that have little worth
   Except harassing poor and needy since birth
We live in times when honest are taxed
  The cheats and crooks are scot free and relaxed
When will we see the good times come?
  When equitable treatment is meted without drums

PS: Image Kind Courtesy Google

Friday, February 16, 2018

Raising Boys

There is so much talk about ' Raising the Girl Child',' Giving her Wings to Fly' and ' Educating the Girl Child' but one seldom hears about' Raising the Boys'! In a male-dominated society and the fixation of treating the boys as special is still the bane of our society.The untold rejoicing on the birth of a male child still prevails almost everywhere. At the same time, the birth of a girl in the family is often seen as a burden for which parents have to work for a dowry for her marriage right from the word 'go'.
I consider myself as one of the most fortunate to be born with other siblings( younger brothers) in a family where it did not matter to be a boy in every sense. Right from the early childhood, mother gave us lessons in the clean ship of the house, assistance in cooking and everything which is generally considered to be a domain of a girl. Every evening we would help her in cleaning the vegetables, peeling them and even chopping for the meal. The thrill of peeling the peas in winter and chopping the sticky ladyfingers were thrills we awaited almost every day. As she was a teacher and would return from school much later than me, I warmed the food and sometimes added a side dish to satiate my craving to experiment with cooking! Not only this, very early we learnt to wash our own clothes, ironing them and ensuring that all buttons were intact. The lessons in handling the needle and thread helped a long way when I lived alone especially during the summer training in a different city when in college. Luckily, after joining the Navy, most of the things I learnt helped in managing things but fortunately, all odd chores were handled by the orderly and food was managed in the mess. 

The idea of sharing all this stems from the fact that most children I come across these days are only playing on mobiles, and not even indulging in the outdoor sports. Most families are nuclear and both parents are working. From an early age, children are left at the 'creche' where the maids take care of the children and in the evening the kids join their parents. No wonder as they grow up most of them have not learnt much apart from bookish knowledge and are hardly of help in assisting their spouse when they get married. A few advertisements in the media showing the husband in handling the washing machine to assist the wife are a rare exception even today, in most homes

In the fast-changing world where women are rubbing shoulders with men in every walk of life, it would be grossly unfair to expect them to run the house the way boys have seen their mothers do for them in their growing years. Even for the young mothers, rather than being too indulgent with boys, it would be better they taught them the domestic chores and learn to respect the opposite sex to make their lives easier as they grow up.More freedom to women implies that the males share in almost every activity to make a happier home.Also, the cases of domestic violence, sex-related crimes have a direct correlation to the upbringing of boys and will surely bring in a much-needed change.

Read the lovely poem that I came across:

PS: Images Kind courtesy Google