badge

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Guru Ka Langar @ The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple Illuminated at Night
As one steps into the huge complex of the sanctum sanctorum, The Golden Temple in Amritsar the never-ending crowds is something that remains a constant. Notwithstanding the rush, the pious air of reverence greets each visitor alike. It is no surprise that people of all faiths, religions, regardless of caste and creed flock to this shrine every day. The cleanliness of the place is to be seen to believe!
Volunteers cleaning the vegetables
The temple opens the gates at 3 am for the 'Prabhat Vela' to have a glimpse of the bringing in of the Guru Granth Sahib from the adjacent Akal Takht at around 5 am every day. A small ceremony follows in which the first 'Hukumnama' ( Order of the Day) is read. Throughout the day, the hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib is read, and the crowds continue to flock to pay the respect and make offerings. Around 10 pm the Guru Granth Sahib is taken back to the Akal Takht in a palki. The devotees are served piping hot 'Kada Prasad'( Halwa made in pure ghee). A few startling facts about the world's largest community kitchen called the Guru Ka Langar where all the food including the ' Kada Prasad' is prepared, follow.
The Wheat Dough preparation machine
The ' Langar' can serve from 75000 to 100000 people every day for 24 hours of hot meals with utmost cleanliness. The entire operation is managed by volunteers and the mechanised kitchen. Almost 2500 kg of  Dal(Lentils),12000Kg of flour(atta) to prepare 200000 bread(rotis),5000 litres of milk,1000 kg of rice, 1000kg of sugar, 500kg pure ghee, 100 LPG gas cylinders, 5000 kg firewood are used every day to prepare the food by hundreds of volunteers. The Automated Roti Maker can churn out almost 25000 perfectly circular bread(rotis) per hour. The entire process of kneading the dough, rolling of bread(roti), cooking over heat on Tawas is done without a human touch of hands! There are special huge cauldrons that can prepare hundreds of kilos of Dal, Vegetable, and Kheer. The aroma of the cooking of onions, preparation of Dal fills the air. Earlier, the raw vegetables are cleaned, peeled, and chopped by volunteers before the preparation of the vegetable.
The Bread( Roti) Preparation in progress
Once the food is ready, an ongoing process, up to 5000 devotees in each of the two halls are ushered in with clean plates, spoons and a cup for water. The volunteers serve the food to the devotees, in a very brisk operation within minutes. The bread( roti) has to be taken by spreading hands to accept in humility while the dal, vegetable and kheer are served on the plate. After the meal, the devotee makes the place for other people to come while they handover the used plates to the volunteer for cleaning. Each plate is cleaned 5 times to ensure the highest standard of hygiene is maintained.
Those who wish to have tea can collect separate cups and fill them on their own just outside the 'Langar Hall'.
Vegetable under preparation
The food is vegetarian and prepared with highest standards of cleanliness.Everyone is welcome to share the 'Langar'and no one is ever turned away.No pilgrim will ever miss a meal at any time of the day when visiting the Golden Temple. Sharing a common meal sitting in a Pangat(line) is for a Sikh an act of piety. So is the act of preparation of food and cleaning the used dishes.On return from the 'Langar', the pilgrim can collect the shoes deposited earlier before entering the temple. The shoes are cleaned by volunteers before returning to the owner.
The Sikhs consider the service to humanity as the highest form of service and those 'well to do' share a part off wealth by way of charities to alleviate the suffering of poor.Maharaja Ranjit Singh gave jagirs to maintenance of gurudwaras and the tradition is being carried on to date in every gurudwara around the world.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Life beyond Google

How the world around has changed!In our own life so many changes have transformed our lives so quickly is beyond imagination. In every walk of life, the things have changed mostly for better. I remember when I was in the school, I would tune to the All India Radio’s ‘Forces Request’ and Date With You’ programmes every Monday and Friday to listen to the choicest hits of the Western Music. While in the college, the love continued and the new programmes on the ‘Yuva Vani’ channel continued to satiate my love for the music. As time passed a new music system came to the house and the collection of LP records added to the pleasure. In the meantime, the cassette recorders hit the market and were soon a rage. My cousin returning from Dubai, presented one such cassette recorder and it remained a prized possession for many years to come.The only hassle was with the passage of time the sticking of tape to the recorder head created a mess which was not only irritating but sometimes resulted in the loss of the tapes!As the digital technology evolved, a better quality, high fidelity, low noise music became the norm. CD players,  MP3 players, and memory sticks got popular. By that time, I had started to travel and on a trip to Amsterdam, I picked a  CD player which became a companion for the lean hours playing a soothing music. A ’Blu Ray’ player soon took the place of the CD player and the high-resolution optical disc changed the audio and video experience to a new high. Gone are the times when the speakers were physically connected with wires with the devices like players/mobile phones. Easy connectivity with wifi and blue tooth enabled easy connection with the player.
Things changed forever with the coming in of Google!It would not be incorrect to term the present day world as Before Google( BG) and After Google(AG) era! Google has touched almost every aspect of the human life be it, travel, maps, navigation, all kinds of data and even the world of music.A new storm is currently building up around the VPA( Virtual Private Assistant) for which a huge credit goes to Google. In the present context, it is like a dream come true for a music lover like me!
Bose, the world leader in the music has launched innovative earphones that are future ready. The Google Assistant is built into the headphones that can connect with Android or IOS platforms seamlessly.The best part is while travelling, one need not know the routes of places as the Google Maps can bring you to the doorstep of any place while you are hooked to the pure unadulterated music from the Bose speakers. While the music is streaming in, the built-in features of Google Assistant allow answering the messages, text messages and much more without looking at the screen of the mobile.Also, one is spoilt for choices and options when it comes to excellent features of Noise Cancelling, volume control and utmost comfort that come with the aptly named Quiet Comfort 35(QC-35) headphones!

PS: This is my submission for the Bose, Indiblogger sponsored contest 'Future Ready with Bose'(https://www.boseindia.com/en_in/products/headphones/over_ear_headphones/quietcomfort-35-wireless-ii.html#v=qc35_ii_black)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Journeys Through The English Countryside

The Norwich Cathedral
The fascinating journey through the English countryside continued as the vagaries of weather added to the experience. One day it was windy and cold and the next day incessant rain and on yet another day you’re surprised to see the thin flakes of snow slowly cascading earthwards. The best part is that most of the times the weather predictions are fairly accurate. After a visit to the sleepy town of Ely our next destination was was Norwich.
The corridors of the Norwich Cathedral
A short walk from our place of stay the Cambridge railway station was the best way to reach these destinations and the group tickets, a sensible decision to cut on the fares. The British rail system works very efficiently and even if one has to take the interconnecting trains, it is just a breeze.
The Norwich Castle
The trains depart from the station at the precise time. The view outside was very fascinating with miles if carpeted meadows, an occasional sighting of the cows and sheep grazing, milk processing plants, some windmills and countless small brooks. The train interchange at  Ely gave us an opportunity to pick up some chocolate doughnuts and a strawberry pie from the adjacent Tescos. The journey continued through small towns like  Brandon, Thetford and Attleborough before arriving at Norwich. It was raining so we picked up some hot coffee and stepped out of the station.The station was fairly big with many trains connecting several destinations.

A short walk from the station brought us to the picture postcard setting of the 900-year-old Norwich cathedral. The entry to the magnificent structure is free. The etched glass panes portray the stories from the Bible. The domes, pillars and arches are beautifully sculpted.

Not far from here is another iconic landmark the Norwich Castle cum art gallery.The tall imposing structure is visible from most parts of the city. The City Hall, New Market and the by lanes are strewn with cosy pubs, cafes and curio shops. The city is also well known for knitting wool and gastronomic delights ranging from tea, coffee, Indian and Chinese cuisine. The city was decked up like a bride for the Christmas and the New Year! We took the evening train after spending a day in the beautiful town.
Bury St Edmunds Cathedral

After a day's break, we set our eyes on a yet another awesome destination called Bury St Edmonds that is another 45-minute train ride from the Cambridge. The historical town is located in Suffolk and is an important cultural and pilgrimage centre. Besides the cathedral, a fortress there is a war memorial to honour the veterans of the Second World War associated with the Normandy landings and a lovely Abbey Garden.
Entrance to Abbeys Garden

Near the gardens stands the Britan's first internally illuminated street sign, the Pillar of Salt, built in 1935.Among noteworthy buildings are the Bury St Edmunds Cathedral and  St. Mary's church. There are museums of witchcraft and art galleries for the tourists who would love to explore things which are different! The town has also unusual offerings of breweries and beet sugar factory too!This town also prides in being associated with the famous writer, Charles Dickens where one can find mention in his book ' The Pickwick Papers'. A rewarding trip it was, in many ways.
Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge

The next days were spent in exploring the Cambridge town which has so much to offer and the meadows like the Granchester, Fitzwilliam Museum, a treasure trove for art lovers and the bylanes and quaint markets that surround the town. The everlasting memories of the places we visited are now firmly etched

PS This post is a continuation of the earlier post 'The English Countryside'

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The English Countryside



The itch to travel got stronger as the Christmas and the New Year approached. A trip to explore the beauty of the English countryside was planned and set rolling. Landing at the Heathrow on the Christmas Eve meant facing a long immigration queue with only a few officials around as the country was in a festive mood! Notwithstanding , the efficiency of the personnel ensured that within an hour of landing we were out of the airport. The entire train system was non operational and as I had known this before hand, I had booked by the National Express bus service for a three hour drive to the
Cambridge. The bus left at the precise time and soon we were floating past the countryside in the cosy comfort when the temperature outside was 3 deg C. The festive spirit was all evident minus the boisterous celebration I am used to witness in the capital.

The accommodation was just perfect as after a bout of a very early morning indulgence in eating, we slept off! Next day the city celebrated the Christmas as every market , eating joint and the transport system observed a holiday. The cold weather was not a dampener to explore the city of a sprawling university, assimilating the grandeur of the likes of King's , Queen's, Trinity, Pembroke , St Johns, Judge Business School and many more that have produced the largest number of Nobel laureates to date. The serene flowing Cam river and swaying Fem trees with sighting of ducks and an occasional cow in the meadows adds to the beauty of the city. This is one place where umpteen lessons can be drawn on how to preserve the old heritage without a clutter and the cobbled streets with virtually no traffic of any vehicles.



While punting on the Cam river, a number of colleges on one side and seven bridges linking the Backs( meadows by the river flanked by colleges on the other end) is like a dream come true. The bridges like the Mathematical bridge, the Bridge of Sighs enamour the tourists with their architectural beauty and vintage. The Corpus Christi clock was installed by Stephen Dawkins.


Cambridge is a perfect place with a number of theatres, and pubs which are always full. This is a city of cyclists and the cycling tracks are perhaps the best way to go around.

There are several places that can be discovered in the vicinity . It was a treat to take a 20 minute train ride to the sleepy town of Ely, best known for the remarkable Roman Catholic cathedral. As we set out of the station we were caught in the snow with strong winds. It was like reliving the stories read in the childhood about the snow blizzards! How lucky to experience one! The opeluence of the cathedral was beyond imagination.It took us more than an hour to explore the place and learn about how it went through the turbulent times of various wars. The history of Christ is beautifully depicted on the high glass panels and intricate carvings in the cathedral .
As we emerged out of the cathedral We saw the most unusual sight of a number of ducks crossing the road while the traffic stood still till they crossed over. Coming from a city where the vehicles are waiting to mow down the poor pedestrians , this was a very pleasant surprise.
The river side has a lovely place called the Peacocks Tea Room, which has one of the finest assortment of tea, coffee, scones and cakes! There could be no better way to end the day by relishing these rare treats.

PS : will continue the journey in the next post.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Facades


Saying what your mind does not agree with
  Is what we often do to take a path less arduous
Doing what we would not like
  Is what we often are enmeshed with
In the world of facades, the reality is lost
 Only half-truths and lies are dished shamelessly most
Be childlike and innocent is taught most
  Least practised and pursued as we grow more
Sit back to  listen to beats of your heart
  A silent rhythm unchanged despite tearing apart
Hear the songs of nature, birds chirp, revel n bask
  Do any of these ever change to don any mask??

PS- Image Kind courtesy Google