Thursday, October 30, 2008

A joke for a change

Here’s a joke as told by colleague Ansar Salim.
A man purchases a ticket at a cinema counter and moves towards the hall. He rushes back to the counter in a few minutes and asks for another ticket. He repeats the process five times. Amused, the counter guy asked him, why are you buying so many tickets? The hassled man replied: “What to tell you! Some idiot is standing at the entrance of the hall and tears away the ticket every time I try to enter.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

May this Diwali dazzle with laughter and prosperity in your life…

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A prick of conscience

Millions across the globe go to bed without food, lamented a friend.
“You have a good heart. At least you think about them,” I praised him.
“Many people fail to understand what is right charity. A rich man in America reached a place where a group of roofless people had taken shelter. He picked up his purse and started distributing $100 notes and before anybody could ask him who he was, he had gone. Somehow, a tabloid reporter tracked him later and asked him about his background. The man replied: “I was one among them earlier.”
Hmm.., I listened intently.
“About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations,” he reeled out statistics.
“Oh God,” I exclaimed.
“The good news is when it comes to charity many UAE residents score over others,” he continued. “There are several cases where people in distress have received financial help from anonymous donors.”
Suddenly I woke up. “Why are you giving me a lecture on charity?”
“Here’s a Dhs40 bill. Please donate,” he thrust a receipt into my hands.
“You are the kind of volunteer that charity campaigns need,” I patted him before heeding his request.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Get back the bicycles

Kudos Seoul. The Seoul city government has initiated a $88 million “road diet” plan under which the number of lanes for passenger vehicles in major roads will be cut to create new bicycle paths. As per the proposal, 17 main cycle paths, totalling 200 kilometres, that criss-cross the sprawling city would be constructed.
Considering that Dubai and Sharjah have no consideration for pedestrians and cyclists (just try crossing any major highway like Sheikh Zayed Road) the news sounds great.
The bicycle is one of the best inventions of mankind ‑ clean, green and healthy mode of transportation. Leaving the cycle behind in city planning is a step backward and Global-Madrasi reserves the choicest rebuke for any city planner taking this path.
By the way, those who believe that the humble bicycle is only meant for workers and low-income groups, think again: I have come across a showroom in Dubai that sells a bicycle for as much as Dhs35,000 ($9,589).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cash from trash

by R. Ramesh

Recyling waste is big business across the globe and the UAE, which has one of the world's highest per capita waste generation rates — an estimated 750 kilogrammes a year — has unveiled grand plans that are likely to change the face of the country.
A key concept of modern waste management, recycling, by definition, is the reprocessing of materials into new products. Recylable materials from both home and industries may include a range of items from paper, glass, aluminium, textiles, plastics to biodegradable waste and even printer ink cartridges.

Recycling also helps cut the demand for new materials. For example, a tonne of recycled paper saves around 17 full-grown trees from being cut. Tackling over 500,000 tonnes per day of solid wastes including commercial, household, industrial and agricultural is no easy task. Experts point out that 40 per cent of t Cash from trash by he UAE municipal solid waste can be recycled as well as reused. The government is in the process of privatising some services or even opting for public/private partnership. In fact, the Abu Dhabi government earlier privatised a section of the municipal solid waste collection and transportation services.

Dubai scenario

Though Dubai has gained the distinction of being one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world, it also has to contend with the fact that waste in the emirate has tripled in the last six years to three million tonnes in 2006. Dubai generated one million tonnes of waste in 2000 and it went up to almost three million tonnes in 2006, according to Dubai Municipality's Acting Director General Nasser Lootah. Industrial and construction waste also increased from three million tonnes to 10.5 million tonnes during the same period. Waste is dumped in different landfills located at Al Qusaid, Jebel Ali, Lehbab, and Hatta.

The Al Qusais landfill receives 77 per cent of Dubai's total waste and remains the largest. Dubai Municipality started the Middle East's largest material recovery facility, Tadweer, which went into operation at Warsan in March and could recycle 4,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day. Tadweer helps minimise waste by recycling paper, plastic, metal and glass objects for reuse as raw material to manufacture other things, such as plastic balls and synthetic boards. The residues from sorting and recycling will be treated further, using better technology to produce enough electrical power to cover the requirements of the project. The corporation has spent AED 500 million (US$27.2 million) in building the facility.

C & D waste

About 30,000, or 24 per cent of the world's 125,000 construction cranes, are said to be currently operating in Dubai and it is not hard to imagine the negative impact of construction waste on the environment. In March this year, Dubai-based Al Rostamani Group, established the Emirates Recycling Facility (ERF) aimed at recycling and recovery of the city's construction and demolition (C&D) waste.

The Emirates Recycling plant, built at a cost of over AED 65 million and located in the Al Lusaily area on the Al Ain-Jebel Ali road, has a capacity to convert the more than eight million tonnes of construction waste material generated in Dubai annually into usable road and construction base aggregate. The Dubai Municipality had to handle 10.5 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste in 2006.

In fact, C&D waste makes up 75 per cent of the total waste generated in Dubai every year, according to municipality officials. The ERF project is being portrayed by the authorities as a perfect example of civic partnership between public and private sectors with the common goal of improving the living standards and wellbeing of the community. The plant is designed to receive, sort, separate, crush, sieve and process the city's concrete, asphalt and cement C&D debris and turn it into aggregate materials of three different sizes for use in road-base construction, as base material for ready-mixed concrete elements and for landfill. C&D recovery is considered global best practice, and is in place in nations around the world from Japan to the entire North American continent.

Recycling Park

As well as the above initiatives, a Dubai Recycling Park, which is expected to be the first fully integrated waste management and recycling park in the Middle East, will be developed on a site measuring 1,500,000 square feet with a 49-year lease agreement with Dubai Industrial City and a capital investment of up to US$150 million. Construction is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2008 and will be fully completed within the following 18 months.

Capital move

The Abu Dhabi government last September awarded Al Qudra Holding a recycling project for home solid wastes for the emirate valued at AED 1.27 billion. Abu Dhabi generates some 2,300 tonnes of solid waste per day. The project aims at preserving the environment by recycling home solid wastes including plastic and paper, aluminium, metals, glass as well as greenery.

Sharjah plans

The proximity with Dubai and rapid growth has led to solid waste production in Sharjah rising at the rate of 13 per cent per annum while waste dumping sites have already received stuff to their capacity. Sharjah produces a total of 1.1 million tonnes of waste per year. Realising the need for drastic action, the Sharjah Municipality launched a large waste recycling company that is flaunted as "the biggest in the Arab region."

Bee’ah is a limited liability joint stock company of the Sharjah Municipality, the JMS Property Development LLC and the Tactical Connections Canada. At the first stage, the “Bee’ah” will collect, sort out and classify waste within the following categories: Aluminium materials, plastic materials, paper, glass and ceramic, building materials, iron and organic materials. These will be sent to the recycling factory, which will be operational by late 2008.

A waste-recycling factory is being set up in Al Saj'ah area and will depend on the latest international technology in the recycling industry under the supervision of specialists and technicians. The company will also set up branches in all other municipalities of the Emirate of Sharjah.

The authorities see Bee'ah as a practical solution to tackling waste, particularly as 65 per cent of waste is convertible and can be recycled.

Aluminium advantage

With a view to encourage companies and institutions to reduce their waste, the Emirates Environmental Group has been organising several events, including annual recycling competitions in the UAE. The EEG collected 644,000 kilogrammes of recycling materials last year with Dubai and Abu Dhabi as hubs.

The collection of these materials is done by the private sector. Once collected, the paper, glass, aluminium cans and plastic are either sold to local factories or exported. While paper and cartons form the chunk of favourable items for recycling, aluminium is not far behind. The main drivers that favour recycling of aluminium scrap has been low capital requirement, low gestation period and low cost of conversion.

Globalisation and competition have prompted the secondary aluminium industry to assure quality of secondary metal. Besides, an environment friendly process makes the option of aluminium recycling attractive. A wide choice of technology and design is available to process aluminium scrap. Another key to successful aluminium recycling industry is access to segregated and identified alloys, reveals C. Ramasamy, presently working as a technical advisor for a Nigerian-based company.

The numerous opportunities for design and creativity which aluminium offers architects are a prerequisite for putting new and lasting ideas into practice. The fact that there is practically no need for any maintenance is a contributing economic factor. Aluminium protects foodstuffs and medicines against deterioration. Aluminium packaging offers maximum packaging performance with minimum use of material. The high potential energy savings during the life of aluminium products often exceed the actual energy consumed during all the stage from extraction to finished product. Aluminium recycling offers several attractions: It saves around 93% of the energy needed to primary metal.

The energy required to produce 1 metric tonne of aluminium in a modern smelter will be around 15,500 units of electricity, where as the energy required for melting scrap is only around 1,200 units of thermal energy. The benefits are too many: Aluminium scrap can be recycled again and again without any loss in property. Using recycled metal is cheaper. Modern recycling is eco-friendly. By recycling, around 600,000 tonnes of bauxite per annum can be preserved for the future for around 100,000 tonne of aluminium. Recycled aluminium in Europe, USA and Japan is used for making aluminium sheets and coils which, in turn, are used in beverage cans, building, transport and cookware. Similarly, most extruded and cast aluminium products are made from the recycled metal. This leads to the most economical application of primary (therefore purer) aluminium.

Commercial opportunities

Coping with huge mounds of solid and municipal wastes poses a formidable challenge, but the UAE has geared up well for the task. Though millions of dollars have already been pumped into various projects, opportunities remain for more international companies that offer sophisticated technologies in the field to join the waste-tackling battle. With the authorities keeping an open mind on involving the private sector, the opportunity is indeed greener.
(Published in GRC bulletin)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Global team

It's great 2 b among colleagues: from 4 different locations; Chennai, Manila, Thiruvananthapuram and Kampala.

Simple recipes for lazy ones

Here's keeping the promise on simple recipes for bachelors and lazy ones like me. Let's begin with a sweet dish..
This one from Naheed Zafar:
Semolina (‘Rava’ in Hindi) Halwa
1/2 cup semolina
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
Cashew nuts
Take semolina in a pan. Keep stirring as it warms.
In another pan take ghee, add cashew nuts to it. When cashew nuts start turning golden add semolina to it. Add water and sugar to semolina. Turn the gas to sim and let it cook on low heat. when water starts drying, add raisins.
Serve hot. Can serve the recipe with cream.
Suggested Garnishing:
Add dry fruits and nuts to recipe.
Sprinkle Love!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

tongue, taste, tummy

I am not going to bite my tongue on this; have burnt my fingers, literally. I mean sending off my family to the native country (of course, unavoidable situation) and staying alone is proving to be a big challenge. And topping the list is cooking. A cut in the finger while chopping onions, burning my hand while cooking rice and allowing milk to spill (thanks to the stupid wrong-time phones calls) and crying over spilt milk.. Have had it full. Poor bachelors and married-bachelors. Bury your worry. Global-Madrasi has decided to post recipes – simple and easy ones. (how sad, I am a veggie, folks). Global-Madrasi will also salute those who contribute non-veg recipes..(But do not mention about it to Heather-Mills, she has just donated $1m in Vegan food to children in New York)..Happy cooking..

Sunday, October 19, 2008

‘Shy’ Dubai journalists

I find this weird. Journalists are expected to mirror the pulse of the society. The Fourth Estate has a hugely valuable role. Just a few years ago, most journalists did their role to perfection. I have interacted with millionaires and celebrities as well as beggars on the streets and cleaners. With newspapers becoming “brand products,” a trend set in motion by The Times of India, journalists also have changed. It took one full month for me to get a byline (Name) in The Times of India when I started my career in the 80s. Now, journos sitting in AC rooms and sporting three-piece suits talk on their cellphones and have their bylines flashed in bold letters. I hardly see journalists moving into the field and interacting with the masses. Of course, this should not be generalized as a few colleagues do sweat it hard out there, but their number has become negligible. Also, at a dinner meeting last night in Dubai where several prominent people from the Indian community were present, I saw many journalists shying away from interaction with others. How do shy-types make it to the print industry where the code word is interaction?

Rr/Oct 19, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spare the rod…

Social attitudes are changing, fine. But I am appalled at the fact that teachers are not getting the respect they deserve. Teachers are the backbone of a society. During my school days, if I made a mistake and the teacher punished me, my father would not only thank the teacher, but also request him/her to be more strict with me. But look at a contradiction. A teacher was taking lessons at a Mumbai coaching institute, when a girl repeatedly disturbed the class. The angry instructor reprimanded the girl, and after repeated warnings failed, asked her to leave. Lo and behold, next day, the teacher was sacked by the institute. “Parents are complaining that you are too strict,” was all that the teacher was told.
What a shame! If I had the powers, I would force all parents to read the letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to a teacher.
Please, please, this
Excerpts from Lincoln's letter to his son's teacher

He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish Politician, there is a dedicated leader... Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,
Steer him away from envy,if you can, teach him the secret of quiet laughter.
Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to lick... Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books... But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside.
In the school teach him it is far honourable to fail than to cheat... Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong... Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with the tough.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the band wagon...
Teach him to listen to all men... but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him if you can, how to laugh when he is sad... Teach him there is no shame in tears, Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness... Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders but never to put a price-tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right. Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient... let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have sublime faith in mankind.
This is a big order, but see what you can do... He is such a fine fellow, my son!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A joke for a change

"You idiot," screamed a man at his acquaintance and the reaction was instant: "You said idiot and I remembered. How's your dad?"

Plain greed

Shares continue to tumble and the global healing touch has simply proved to be ineffective. What lies behind the crisis? It's plain greed. The present Gen is so money-centric that basic values are taking a backseat, and that, at jet speed. Lemme explain. In the 90s, I used to watch real estate agents in Mumbai, India. Some of thempurchased houses meant for middle-income groups at throwaway prices and jacked up the rates to almost double in a matter of months. Not that the governments didn't know of such a practice. In fact, the governments wanted their own pound of flesh and increased the property tax rates to unbelievable heights as happened in New Bombay (called Navi Mumbai now.) A people's movement had to be launched to bring the tax rates to reasonable levels. How many people have heard of salaries doubling in a matter of months!! It's a vicious circle. Let's wait and watch.
rr/Oct.16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Congrats Adiga

Global-Madrasi congratulates novelist Aravind Adiga for winning the Man Booker Prize, not merely because he is a "Madrasi," but a Global Madrasi.
Man Booker is one of the world's most prestigious literary awards. Aravind's "The White Tiger," follows Balram Halwai, the son of a rickshaw puller whose dream of escaping the poverty of his village takes him on a journey to the bright lights of Delhi and Bangalore, where he will do almost anything to get to the top.
Adiga says his aim in writing The White Tiger was to represent the poor. And Global-Madrasi appreciates that. Forward march, Mr Adiga.

Oct 15, 2008


My colleague Naheed Zafar has sent this motivating piece by Kipling for Global-Madrasi wellwishers.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Under control

Taking a walk on Al Wahda street, I bumped on my old friend who runs a photo studio.
“Why is it every other person we meet on the street is either stressed out or restless these days? Is it because of globalization?” he asked an innocent but tricky question.
“It depends on individuals. You choose between money or happiness,” I started my discourse. “Money cannot buy happiness. You know, a friend of mine quit a job with a five-figure salary. She is happy now with half the pay,”
“You mean we should opt for jobs with lesser pay? he joked and continued: “My business was going great guns a few years ago. But now rent and inflation are making my life miserable.”
“Don’t grumble. Try to find ways to cut costs and earn more,” I was sounding like Socrates.
“How come you are sounding contented? Is your domestic budget under control?” he asked.
“I should say ‘yes’ as of now,” I replied. “The bank has just cleared my loan application.”
rr/Oct.14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Credit crunch antidote - Simple living, high thinking

CREDIT CRUNCHHH..That’s the talk of the town around the globe. “What’s this all about?” asked a Sri Lankan worker whose job it is to water the trees on Sharjah’s famous Al Wahda Street.
I wondered how to explain it in simple words from what I have read in newspapers.
Well, it goes like this: Willi (fictitious name & story) never believed in taking loans. One day, his brother meets with an accident. The doctor said: “Pay off $5,000 or lose him.” Determined to save his brother, Willi approached a bank seeking loan for the first time in his life. The bank wanted a guarantee. Willi owned a house. “Why $5,000, you are eligible for much more, enjoy life,” coaxed a bank agent eyeing his own commission from the deal. Poor Willi was dragged into the materialistic cesspool. His brother recovered, but he fell neck-deep in debt. The loan interest mounted and mounted and mounted, while the home value slumped.
Willi is in a soup and so is the bank. And so is the country and so is the global situation.
Dunno whether I explained it right. Gardener Nijam nodded his head and I felt like a successful professor.
My friend Faiyaz has a simple solution: “Don’t fall prey to lifestyle lure. It has glitter but no heart. Materialism is a dangerous path.”
I agree and disagree. Personally, I have managed to live all these years without a credit card. Believe me. I live in the UAE and on occasions walk around the only seven-star hotel in the world, Burj Al Arab, to attend press conferences. I have traveled to Hamburg and still could move on without a credit card. We all need money, but we sure can balance our budget within our means. I should be stupid to think I will become a Bill Gates overnight. I can dream of becoming one. But I can spend like Bill Gates only after my bank accounts have a similar balance as his. Oh, this philosopher instinct. For all that I say, I am highly materialistic too. So, there’s a bit of hypocricy.
But, live within your means. Sorry, if I am forwarding an unsolicited suggestion. But you will accept it one day as the right path.

RR/ Oct.13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thinking makes it so

Give any popular book that sells well, my wife told a roadside vendor in Chennai. He promptly held out Foreign Body, by Robin Cook. Dunno why. But I liked the opening quotation: If one thinks of oneself as free, one is free, and if one thinks of oneself as bound, one is bound. "Thinking makes it so."
-Ashtavakra Gita - Traslated by John Richards.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pranks at TOI

I had promised to write about the pranks we journalists played on each other during the 90s at The Times of India, Mumbai, where I was a chief sub-editor during the entire decade. I can call that a golden period for us as reporters and the desk worked as a family.
PD was a wonderful guy at the sports department (“was” because the great friend is unfortunately no more). When the mood became dull at the general news desk, I was usually prompted by two young Parsi beauties (at that time, dunno now) to play some prank and I invariably fell for the bait. And so it was decided to corner PD.
I picked up the phone, covered the receiver with a paper and called out: “Mr P.”
“I am calling from the security. There’s a visitor for you. Please come to the reception.”
“Send him up.”
“No sir. There is a new regulation. You have to come down.”
I could clearly hear a murmer and a four-letter word. This was followed by the banging of the phone.
When P reached the third floor lift, I called out: “P, are you going to the security room?”
No.., I cannot pen the words he showered on me.
This was merely a beginning. The pranks reached unbelievable heights.
More on that…We can wait for the next post.

RR/Oct.11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Public diary of private person

The attack was direct. “You don’t even know the meaning of blogs. You are supposed to maintain anonymity,” yelled a close friend, who is also a senior journalist.
“I feel a blog is the public diary of a private person. There’s no need to hide behind curtains,” I argued.
“Anyway, your blog is silly and lacks focus,” he continued.
I just smiled. “If I get angry, you win, my friend,” I told myself. “And I will just not allow that.” Wow, I am maturing.

rr/Oct.10, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Anger buster

Everyone gets angry at some point of time. But some get angry too often. I entered office after a long vacation and a colleague greeted me with: “You did not even bother to mail. I am angry with you.”
I tried to reason with him. But  no use. I told him a story I had read. A monk was sitting under a tree discussing with his disciples when that country’s army commander, who was passing by, stopped his vehicle and approached him. He asked the monk: “I want to know about hell and heaven.”
The monk replied: “I will tell you. But, by the way, who are you?”
”I am the commander,” replied the man in an arrogant tone.
“Commander! You look like a butcher,” mocked the monk.
Anger writ large on his face, the commander whipped his knife and charged towards the monk. “Well, this is hell,” smiled the monk. Ashamed, the commander put back his knife and sought forgiveness. With a repentant face, he said “I am very sorry.” “This is heaven,” came the reply.
“The story is fine. But don’t you think it is impossible to control anger?” he asked innocently.
“I have read psychologists saying that among the best ways to control anger are; talk to a friend you can trust; count to 10; get or give a hug or just take a walk,” I replied.
“All okay, but you are no better. You get angry at slight provocation,” my friend said.
"I don’t think so.”
“You do,” he insisted.
“No…,” I screamed with fury.
“There you go..,” laughed my colleague.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Stupid fanatics

Hey fanatic...Whom are you trying to protect? Oh, "your" God! Should it not be the other way around?
RR/Oct.6, 2008

Two little ‘monsters’

At a time when people are too busy to find time even for their own families, guests are often considered pests. One can imagine the plight of the host when a visitor enters the house along with two mischievous kids.
I had a taste of this experience last week. I was merrily walking near the famous Clock Tower in Deira Dubai when a familiar face greeted me. “Hey. You have forgotten me?” he yelled. This was followed by an accusation: “These days people forget even their own relatives.”
I whacked my mind repeatedly and recollected that he was a distant relative.
“Why don’t you drop in tomorrow?” I asked as a matter of courtesy. And the price I had to pay was heavy.
He landed with his wife and two young “monsters.” The first casualty was the TV remote control which the boys grabbed as soon as they entered the house. In no time it was broken. My wife had laid out a new carpet which we usually take out only when visitors arrive. As the family sat on the carpet, my wife offered coffee. The younger boy, who was engrossed in a heated argument with his sibling, sprang for the beverage and down came the cups of hot coffee, adding a new decoration to the carpet. I thought the parents would thrash the boys, but the mother quickly remarked: “See how naughty my son is.”
Not naughty, but a terror, I told myself.
While parting one of the boys rang the door bell six times and our neighbour came out, flashed a dirty look and disappeared with a “be careful” warning look.
It's six days now and my wife is still not talking to me.

RR/ Oct.6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Alive & kicking

Well, well..sorry for the break...will be back tomorrow..if alive...