The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mind Your Language

Where have all the men and women of a few words gone? The obnoxious banter seems to have caught the fancy of one and all. Tune into any form of media and you will know the truth. People who matter hurl profanities in public with the least concern for the decorum. The politicians are on the kill all the time looking for the first opportunity to pin down their adversaries. The slanging match grows louder each time the elections approach. Even without elections most of the time it is a free for all and rarely does one see any streak of civility. The street brawls and road rages have become the order of the day. Most of these end up in severe causalities often leading to a fatal end.

The print media especially the newspapers that once upon a time treaded with caution lest their reputation gets tarnished have thrown their guards to the winds. In the craze for ‘breaking the news first’, each morning one reads more sleaze, tales of deceit, lies, blood, mayhem and falsehood than the previous day. Is there no positivity left in the world that can find a mention on the first page of the newspaper. The advertisers sell the products and services on a loud pitch and it resembles the fish market where everyone is eager to sell, by out bidding others. I never came across so much of negativity being circulated anywhere in the world from dawn to dusk. We are the second most populous nation with a very high level of poverty and illiteracy, thus the proportion of negativity is bound to be far more. What is alarming is that those who are spearheading the bad news are the ones who are supposed to be more affluent, literate and on a higher wrung of the social ladder. I remember when I was in Tel Aviv many years back when the city was struck with Scud missiles, just the days before. The newspapers highlighted the achievement of drip irrigation on the first page and the news of attack featured on subsequent pages. Every citizen was prepared to face the eventualities like an outbreak of chemical war. Even the visitors like us were informed to contact the hotel staff to collect gas masks, if situation so warranted.

We are a society that is in flux on many fronts. The political situation in North Eastern parts and Kashmir remains fragile and any permanent solutions still appear distant. The war hysteria is created from time to time. Worse, the journalism has taken a plunge to a new low that enjoys highlighting the perils of the common man on every front ranging from distraught leadership, rising prices, and growing crime. Unfortunately, even the leading TV channels that have high viewership keep ‘breaking the bad news’ of kickbacks, murders etc with much aplomb and within a week’s time dies into a whimper with no follow up, as something more juicy appears on the horizon. It is time we learn to ‘mind our language’ and take the right of ‘freedom of speech ‘in a responsible manner. We need people of few words and lot of action rather than the other way around!

PS : Image kind courtesy Google

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Assured Growth

What is the best time in a man’s life? Without a doubt the answer is the 'childhood'. How many of us do really live a childhood fully?'Health is Wealth' is an old adage with a lot of meaning .A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Every child deserves an opportunity to grow and achieve to his potential. This can only happen if he can get the best nutrition, and an atmosphere conducive to growth of body and mind.

These days the peer pressure , need for getting admission in good schools and then there after to seek admission in the right college have become so important, that a healthy growth of child has literally taken a back seat. Even in the most modern homes people talk about the need for a child to be healthy but on a closer look, it is revealed that what they feed to children is mostly junk food( pizzas, burgers, noodles or bread). In today’s world the growth of children has become synonymous with promotion of products in most cases by major multi national brands. The USP of most of these products is closer to nature, made from whole wheat, a strong heart and so on.

In almost every home you will find a malnutrined or an obese child. They are other glued to the mobiles playing games or sending messages rather than hitting the playfield to develop themselves .In some cases they cannot afford to have a healthy food.In every part of the world including third world and developing countries the stress on physical development is evident from their medal tallies in the major sporting events. A well developed child is a national treasure. The well developed bodies also promote a more disciplined life, and a healthy life style,which is an asset in every walk of the life.
I remember from my childhood times, one drink that always led the race was Horlicks! They have continued to evolve with time and have continued to remain on the forefront. The growth of height and weight in line with the best practices and international standards for children in the growing years is extremely important. The company has even created a Horlicks Growth Calculator( which can be a guide to understand the ideal height and weight of a child by entering the age (between 2-9 years)and sex.

The latest product ( Horlicks Growth)offerings by the company also assures making up on lost height or weight by the regular consumption. It has been tested and clinically proven too! The products are safe and contain only the naturally available proteins, minerals, vitamins and amino acids. The micronutrients also provide a shield of immunity .These products also ensure that the body muscles build up naturally, the focus and concentration improves,the blood gets healthier and the bones get stronger. So do not wait but give the child a chance to grow well. A healthy child is also a happy child that can bring a cheer in lives of everyone.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sweet Memories

The  sight of tall sky scrapers twinkling with lights, as if the galaxy of stars had descended on the earth was unbelievable. It was just one week before when I was shaken up with a telegram in the middle of the night on my bunk, on board the warship. I was selected by the headquarters for a month long training at New York commencing a week later. A slew of activities like attending special briefings, medical tests, kept me on my toes, till the flight took off from Mumbai International Airport.It was my first trip abroad!

The flight landed at JFK International Airport as a gust of cold wind greeted me, when I stepped out of the arrival hall. I hailed a cab for taking me to the Long Island. The fresh snow and neon lights of the Brooklyn bridge were a fascinating sight. I was to spend one month at a hotel where all the US astronauts normally stayed to attend training at the nearby Grumman’s Aerospace facility. A brief introduction with the VP Operations , a German American the next day followed. The instructors were very friendly . I received a call from my cousin to meet one Indian doctor who was staying at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in NY. On the Friday evening, I took the metro to the Grand Central and working through the jigsaw of Streets and Squares arrived to be greeted by the couple. A chance meeting, turned into a long time association, as they were extremely hospitable and insisted that I spend the weekend with them. We played cards till late at night after visiting , the Times Square, the Broadway and many other attractions. It appeared as we were related for years!

Exploring the city, visiting the World Trade Centre(before9/11), Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty are some memories which I cherish to this day. I even cooked Pulav at their place with Rajma as they were taken by surprise with my culinary skill. His wife packed sandwiches for me each time I went out on my own knowing I was a vegetarian.

Many years later, they visited India . I was serving onboard the aircraft carrier which I showed them around. The first friends that I made in the land of opportunities is firmly etched in the memory to this day.

PS:“I’m sharing the memories of my first friend in the USA for the#Celebrate4thOfJulyWeek at BlogAdda.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

No Sex Please- We Brexit

The recent decision of the British to exit the EU reminds of the British comedy movie ’No Sex Please, We are British’ released in 1973. The main protagonist Runnicles a clerk in a small town British Bank is horrified on receiving a package containing pornography rather than a calculator he expected. His efforts to dispose it off turns into a series of hilarious events involving a bank inspector, the police and of course the criminal to whom that pornographic package belongs to. The only difference between the two situations is that many a British are cursing the decision to call for a referendum on 23 Jun where a country fed by lies ,TV panel discussions by so called experts led to the decision of withdrawing from EU( just 51.9% voting in favor of this decision). As an afterthought many want a re run of the poll. The situation is far from amusing unlike in the movie.

After long deliberations , UK had joined EEC on 01 Jan 1973 that became EU on 01 Nov 1993. The many a benefits of common currency and a borderless travel were still not agreed upon. Those who do not hail from EU, US, and Australia still need separate visas and have to possess Pound Sterling when in UK.

After the second world war creation of EU was perhaps the first step in forging a permanent peace between the 27 signatories, besides a host of other reduction of trade barriers, free movement, and jobs. The young are a angry lot as more than 75% of the Gen Now had cast a vote in favor of staying with EU compared to most of the ageing population living on pensions, and shuttling between the hospitals who sealed the fate to exit the EU. Their dreams of living a life in EU, marrying within EU nationals, travel and seek jobs just died. Many of the young ones who reside and work in other countries of EU and USA , did not get an opportunity to cast their vote being ineligible to vote. Only the areas of London, Scotland and North Ireland cast vote in favor of staying with the EU while those in country side favored exiting. Apparently, those who have money voted in favor of staying with EU while those who do not have it, voted out.  Also, strange as it may sound, many Britons have Googled about what it means to be with EU hit an all time high just after the poll results.The immediate effect was devaluation of Pound Sterling by almost 10% besides as pall of gloom descended over EU, and long time ally USA. 

‘The gentleness of the English civilization is perhaps its most marked characteristics. You notice it, the instant you set foot on English soil’ in the words of George Orwell. Not  now , Surely! It resembles a family with wrong members in control.

PS- Image Kind Courtesy Google

Sunday, June 19, 2016

It’s a Woman’s World

It  is said that lord created men and women as equals, but in reality it is not so. The statement may appear outrageous but a few facts support this, at least when it comes to fashion! Ask any man who is generally better attired between the two sexes and the unanimous answer would be women.

I remember the times when most of the members of opposite sex that I came across, right from the childhood stole the march in terms of dressing. The boys would wear simple shirts and shorts with ordinary shoes most of the times , regardless of the occasion. Only the hues varied depending on whether one was going to school or attending a party. Girls wore frocks, skirts , nice tops, even lovely looking clips on hair, depending on their hair style. Even the frocks varied from straight to pleated ones to rather fancy frilled ones. Their moms would ensure that eyes were lined withy kohl and even shining trinkets added to the sparkle.  I knew it was a race where I never stood a chance to win.

Come the teen years  and only change that happened was a switchover to full pants instead of shorts. One could take pride in wearing bell bottoms or the blue jeans that were the sign of changing times. The world changed all together when it came to women. The coming off age was celebrated with salwar suits, churidars, lehngas, fancy blouses, skirts with laces , and petite looking sarees, mini skirts et al. It was a time when I realized how lopsided the equation was. Also, while learning about Pareto, I started to understand, the significance of 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of the fashion, perfume, clothing and apparel industry catered for the needs of women. It is only in the recent years that the whitening creams , hair revival  and toning gels, colognes and perfumes for the men have arrived to their rescue .

The list is  huge if one delves into other arena like sports, fitness, shoes,bags,magazines, undergarments and perfumes. Go to a sporting event or visit a beach. The men would be running around in the trendy shoes with branded tees and shorts while women would be scampering around in all styles of bikinis, trendy skirts, shorts, tights, stilettos , and the works displaying their well toned figures.
A successful man is one who can earn more money than what his wife can possibly spend, where as a successful woman is one who can find that man according to Lana Turner. A women who is shabbily dressed is remembered for the dress : dress impeccably and they remember the woman. The style icon, Coco Channel has brilliantly summed it as

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” 

PS: Image Kind Courtesy Google

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Essence of Prasad

The sound of chime of bells made us rush to the small room where the grandfather would be waking up god early in the morning,with a lighted diya in one hand and a small bell in other. These  are the earliest memories I have, of the brush with divine ! He would recite the prayer and follow up with a Aarti while offering the Jalebis and Kachori to the Lord. The routine would follow day after day while we children scrambled around him to ensure that we get the chance to distribute the 'prasad' to rest of the family members who had missed the morning ritual. Who does not love the delicious Prasad, or the offering to the god?

In India there is hardly a temple where the god is not made an offering of 'Prasad' invariably as a meal at least three times a day. It is later distributed among the devotees! The more affluent temples have this at even more intervals of time ranging from six to eight offerings in the entire day . There is a strong relationship between the spiritual bonding with the God and food  in almost every temple not only of Hindus but other religions like Sikh, Buddhism and many others too.

In early days the lure of Prasad was one of the reasons to visit the ‘Hanuman Mandir’ located in the heart of Delhi on Tuesdays! As I started to travel around, I got to see some of the most simple to exotic temples across the country and even on trips abroad. The aroma  of the Prasad ,incense and flowers would  draw me  to the temple . The ‘laddus’ offered to Lord Balaji at Tirupati ,the various delicacies to Lord Jagannath and Krishna at temples in Puri, Mathura nd Vrindavan are just fabulous with an unmatched taste. These have also long shelf and can be conveniently carried. The same is true of ‘langars’ served in gurudwaras all across the country. The Golden temple at Amritsar to many lesser known ones serve millions across the country. Even Steve Jobs has mentioned about eating at a Hare Krishna temple located seven miles away every Sunday in his early years of life, before the ‘Apple ‘ days. He was drawn to India in search of spirituality through this early bond.

The temples that are located in Himalayas offer one of the best ‘prasad ‘ to devotees ranging from ‘rajma-chawal’ at Katra on way to Vaishno devi,’chana cooked in natural springs in a gurudwara at Manikaran near Manali, to the humble prasad of ‘tulsi leaves ‘ at Kedarnath  to name just a few.Likewise at ISKON temples acrosss the globe one can enjoy lovely food and snacks prepared hygenically and without use of onions and garlic.

The list could be endless. Even now, the love to taste the offerings made to the lord after a visit to temple stays as in early childhood years.The best thing about the food offerings is that it is a great equalizer where regardless of the social standing one and all are served together, though unfortunately this is not followed in the spirit in many places.

PS: Image kind courtesy Google

Friday, June 3, 2016

Are you redi-GO?

Come June 7 and the Indian roads will see one of the best creations of the Japanese giant Nissan’s ‘redi-GO’ hit the Indian roads. The sneak peek of the car was available from April onwards aligned with the just concluded IPL cricket event. The car is designed for the Indian road conditions, for the large young aspiring population, raring to “GO’ and take on the world. It is a brilliant design which blends  crossover of a comfortable and sleek  urban hatchback and ruggedness of  a SUV. Keeping in mind the prime minister Narender Modi’s promise of ‘Make in India’, the car has 98% localized components and leads on technology front using many first, of its kind features. It provides the roominess and comfort for the dusty terrain in most parts of the country. It also ensures a ground clearance of 185mm, which is best in the class for any kind of road.

The car has caught my imagination for the three factors which are listed as follows:

1.    Comfort and Style: The car has a sleek design and finish. The D cut honey comb pattern grille  goes beautifully with the brand logo of ‘Datsun’. The interior is very roomy and comfortable, and has clearance enough for even the tallest . It has a superior air conditioning unit , with a 89cc compressor capable of delivering 50% of cooling to the passengers sitting in rear. The Opti-view system ensures much better visibility to the driver. A daytime running LED lights provides additional safety to indicate the presence on the road, besides making the car standout in the crowd. The sporty fabric used gives the energetic and youthful feel. The Audio System built in is capable of playing Radio,CD, MP3, and USB devices besides AUX-In
2.    Superior Technology:The car is powered by a 3 cylnder engine with a five speed manual transmission( 799cc-capacity). It has a very high fuel efficiency and can give 25.17 km/litre under the test conditions. The Intelligent Spark Automated technology(I-SAT) adjusts the spark timing in response to the fuel quality and power requirements to ensure a knock free smooth ride. An onboard Drive Computer can provide information of instantaneous average miles, distance to empty, fuel remaining details thus reducing the tension while taking long rides. The small turning radius of 4.7m for a full turn around is a boon for the congested city roads. Additional features like a Modern Dashboard with tachometer, Adaptive Electric Power steering, Force Absorbing Bolster Support and Shift Indicator showing ideal time to shift for maximum efficiency and performance add to the performance list of this beauty.
3.    Safety:Datsun cars are made with safety , security and reliability embedded in their DNA. A short braking distance is ensured by Performance Augmented Brakes. A Reinforced Protection shell is used on the exterior body to ensure passenger safety and protection in the event of an accident. The car meets the highest safety standards set by UN94 Crash performance Compliance. The Energy absorbing steering and airbags provide additional safety.

I would love to test drive this car in the crowded streets of Delhi. It has cars lined bumper to bumper in pea hours. The maneuverability and turning effortlessly with very small turning radius will help assess hatchback capabilities. In order to test for ruggedness I would like to test on roads leading from Manali to Leh. This will  gauge the performance of its powerful engine and inbuilt safety features.

In a market with fierce competition from the likes of Hyundai Eon, Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, and Nissan /Renault Kwid, the new comer is expected to beat the rivals. It will exceed the customer expectations when it comes to pricing! The wait is over, so go and book one if you have not done this yet! 
PS:1. "Urban Cross" ( )
       2. Image Source://