Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Quirky characters

I entered my office scratching my left palm.
“What happened?” asked my senior colleague.
“Just itching,” I replied.
“Itching on the left palm indicates you will get money,” he predicted, adding, “throw a party once you get the money.”
I wish the prediction came true. It’s already a week.
There are many who still hold on to strange beliefs.
One friend used to sit immediately if someone called him by his name from behind. A friend from Pakistan mentioned about an eccentric doctor who used to whitewash his clinic every day. Another person had the weird habit of cleaning apple with a tooth brush before eating.
Once I met a stranger and we shook hands.
He said, “Your hands are cold. That means you have a warm heart.”
I did not tell him I had just returned from an ice-cold air-conditioned room.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mouth works faster than mind

I liked a comment from a dear friend PP about anger:
She wrote: Anger is when the mouth works faster than one's mind
Turning the kindest soul into a monster unkind 
One of the basest of emotions.....leads us to shame
Tho conveniently on our hormones we blame!
Disfigures the heart....and defaces the face
Can rightly be called a curse on the human race!
Journalist Joy Raphael wrote:  “Change your focus when you are angry. I should have done that long ago when I too got constantly angry at the boss. Now don't ask where it happened.”
BK Chowla of Delhi insists: “There is only one instant way to get relief from anger...when you get symptoms,take a long deep breath.”
Dear blog friend Sujata Sengupta asked: What do you do to control your anger?
I got many angry times and it had always gone against me. Hey, know what, forgiveness is divine.  My dear blog friends will remember when I mentioned that years ago when I was leaving Mumbai for the Gulf, I was behaving strangely rudely with a dear Kolkata friend of mine, Bhadra. That guilt remained and many blog friends wrote that my goodwill will help. Last month, I and Bhadra had a coffee session in Vashi, Mumbai. Back as friends. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

From coal to cool

Life is petty and whimsical. It can desert you in a moment, without any notice, and turn you into a chunk of rotting flesh, wrote my friend Joy Raphael on FB alluding to veteran Bollywood filmmaker Yash Chopra’s death. No, Joy is not a philosopher, just another street-hardened journalist of Mumbai. “So when life is in you, be level-headed. See even a ragpicker or scavenger as your equal and treat him humanely,” suggests Joyananda.
I couldn’t agree more with him.
I feel more often it is anger that turns spoilsport. One friend of mine in Mumbai who broke the spectacles of my boss in a fit of anger lost his job. He was a friendly, jovial colleague. But that split-second anger cost him heavy.
As Buddha rightly said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else.”
You must have read this joke:
When I get mad at you, you never retaliate. How do you control anger?’ a husband asked his wife.
“I clean the toilet bowl,” she replied.
“So what!”
“…with your toothbrush.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A clap for this slap

As a child who scored poor marks, I had received it several times from my father, but never ever passed it on to anyone. Yes, I am talking about slaps.
Even recently, when I was walking on a Delhi street with a relative, I had a chance to spank someone, but did not. A drunken roadside Romeo tried to misbehave with my niece. Even before I could gauge what had happened, she had given him what he deserved: A tight slap.   
I should share this gripping story from Maharashtrian tales. 
A boy always shunned a particular route, as a shopkeeper was rude to him. One day, he could not avoid using that road and the shopkeeper yelled out for him.
“Tell your hopeless parents to return the dues immediately,” he shouted at the boy, and before the latter could react, gave him a slap. The child returned home, narrated the incident to his mother, while his father lay in bed in a coma.
The mom thought for a moment and rushed to the kitchen. She picked up the money saved for charity, grabbed the boy’s hand and reached the shop. She returned all the dues and asked the shopkeeper whether everything was settled. “Yes,” said the shopkeeper gleefully. “Except one,” she replied and instantly gave him a tight slap.
Boss, there is a word of caution from Willard Scott: “Never slap a man who chews tobacco.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

UAE, Kazakhstan intensify ties on multiple fronts

The UAE and Kazakhstan share similar positions on topical issues in the Middle East and North Africa and an agreement on non-visa trips has given a powerful impetus to the intensification of bilateral cooperation, according to Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Dubai and Northern Emirates Askar Shokybayev.
In an exclusive interview with The Gulf Today, Shokybayev mentioned that the UAE was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kazakhstan. Echoing President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev’s words, he said the UAE is a key partner of Kazakhstan in the Arab and Muslim world.
He noted that there were several major UAE-Kazakhstan projects under way in his country and highlighted that a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of sports had also been signed between the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Kazakhstan and the Emirati Agency of Youth and Sports.
It has been 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Kazakhstan. President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan shares a personal bond with President N. Nazarbayev. What makes the ties so special?
Since gaining independence in 1991, our country has restored bilateral ties with the Arab World. The UAE was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The friendly relationship of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the guarantor of successful cooperation between two countries in the political, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres.
The basis for the development of bilateral relations was laid during the first official visit of Nazarbayev to the UAE in 1998, and a series of working visits in subsequent years – the last of which took place in February this year. 
The two countries share similar positions on topical issues in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the world in general. Having congratulated Sheikh Khalifa on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the UAE, Nazarbayev stressed the UAE is Kazakhstan’s key ally in the Arab and Muslim world.
The first official visit of Sheikh Khalifa to Kazakhstan in 2008 was an important event in the history of cooperation between the two countries. Both Presidents discussed the issues of cooperation in different spheres.
Nazarbayev expressed his satisfaction with the high level of bilateral relations. In turn, Sheikh Khalifa expressed his support for all offers of the President of Kazakhstan and drew attention to the need for developing advanced technologies in the oil and gas industry, and the joint implementation of major industrial and infrastructure facilities. The President stressed the preparedness of the UAE to cooperate in these areas. 
Sheikh Khalifa presented to Nazarbayev the highest award of the UAE “The Order of Zayed”, for promoting bilateral relations. In turn, Nazarbayev also awarded the President of the UAE the highest award of the Republic of Kazakhstan, “The Order of Altyn Kyran”.
The UAE-Kazakh agreement on visa-free trips for holders of diplomatic passports had a positive impact on bilateral ties. What are the other such major agreements?

The agreement between the government of Kazakhstan and the government of the UAE on mutual non-visa trips of citizens-holders of diplomatic passports has given a powerful impetus to the intensification of bilateral cooperation.
We have signed 12 Inter-governmental Agreements with the UAE. During the recent years, five documents had been signed: Agreement on mutual extradition of criminals, mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, cooperation in combating organised crime, terrorism and illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and their consequences and a Memorandum of Understanding on political consultations between the Foreign Ministries of Kazakhstan and the UAE.
Besides Abu Dhabi Plaza, the multifunctional complex in Astana, what are the other UAE-affiliated major projects in progress in Kazakhstan
The launch of Abu Dhabi Plaza by Aldar Properties is a real contribution to the development of Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan, and the only project of the firm being built abroad. There are several major projects under process in the oil and gas sphere, as well as in the banking sector.
On 11 June, 2009 JSC KazMunaiGaz (Kazakhstan), ConocoPhillips (USA) and public joint-stock company Mubadala Development Company  (UAE) signed an MOU for  exploration and development of the Caspian Offshore “N” Oil Block. In January 2011, after successful exploration work in the “N” Block, reservoirs of oil and gas were found.
One of the important results of the official visit of Nazarbayev to Abu Dhabi in March 2009 was the agreement to open by the financial institutions of the UAE the Islamic bank in our country with a market capitalisation of at least $500 million. Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the successful work of Al Hilal Bank in Kazakhstan – the only Islamic bank in the post-Soviet area. The bank has been operating in Kazakhstan’s two major cities, Almaty and Astana, since 2009 and its third branch in Shymkent opened last year.
The joint Kazakhstan-UAE Investment Fund “Al-Falah” with a registered capital of $500 million also actively works in the market of our Republic and neighbouring countries.
How many Kazakh nationals are residents of the UAE? Which sectors do they dominate? 
Approximately 10,000 Kazakhstan citizens are now residents of the UAE. Most of them are working on contract in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, particularly in the trade sector and private business. Also, there are 1,000 Kazakh students studying in various universities here.
Masdar Institute had informed that it was ready to offer special privileges to Kazakhstan’s students. How has the response been?
It is noteworthy that Masdar Institute, a scientific and technological institute which is the first educational entity in research and creation of new methods in dealing with renewable sources of energy in the world, has announced its readiness to admit free-of-charge up to 15 graduate students from Kazakhstan. It’s a great opportunity for Kazakhstan’s students to study at Masdar Institute. We believe that graduates will become professionals and be useful for the realisation of the state programme of accelerated industrial-innovative development of the republic in 2010-2014.
Are there any plans for closer sports interaction between Kazakhstan and the UAE?
Kazakhstan successfully completed the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. This was the fifth appearance of our country at the Summer Olympics in the post-Soviet era. Kazakhstan left London with a total of 13 medals (7 gold, 1 silver, and 5 bronze), finishing twelfth in the medal standings.
On May 13, 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of sports was signed between the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Emirati Agency of Youth and Sports. Also Kazakhstan and UAE national teams in different sports are frequently playing in international tournaments. On May 11, 2012 Kazakhstan has participated in the Asian 5-Nation International XV’s Rugby Tournament, where it played with the UAE’s national rugby team. On Oct.7, 2012, the UAE national rugby team participated in the 3rd ARFU Asian Tournament in Almaty city.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Work or picnic?

I used to organise picnics in my earlier office, but left the tough task of collecting money with my colleague, DG.
DG was a friendly, casual person. One day, another colleague SI was engrossed in editing a front page copy when DG stepped in.
“Where’s the money?” he asked.
“I am very busy. Talk later,” she replied.
He repeated the question.
“Can’t you see I am editing for front page?” she asked, visibly annoyed.
DG’s spontaneous reaction made everyone laugh: “Arre baba. What’s important? Work or picnic?
My frivolous nature got me in trouble many times, but also saved me.
I was chatting loudly when the newspaper’s famous cartoonist rushed out of his cabin and angrily looked around to check who was making noise. There was sudden pin-drop silence. He glanced at me, cooled down a little and moved back with the words, “Ohh, you are here. That’s why.”
Have you heard this joke? 
“You are a perfect fool,” she said.
“Don’t try sweet talk. No one is perfect,” he replied.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

(G)host of problems

Flexibility is a word disappearing from my dictionary.  I find it difficult to adjust to new circumstances.
Even when I reached parents’ home, I found it difficult. My dad was old and his only entertainment was TV. The sad part was he was fond of Tamil serials. When we talk of Tamil serials, the common dialogues you hear for years are, “I will take revenge, you rascal,” “I will see to it that you beg on the roads,” “I will make sure that you never hear the sounds of laughter at your home ever again.”
A friend invited me to stay at his house in Mumbai. At night, he shut all the windows and doors and I found it claustrophobic.  
When I stayed at a relative’s small apartment, the family woke up at 4.30am and put on loud spiritual music. After years of night duty, that early morning time for me was one of blissful sleep and romantic dreams.
There’s nothing to beat one host who was known to be stingy. He used a dim light at home to save electricity even during late evening hours.  When I was almost asleep around midnight, he quietly walked across. I closed my face with a blanket thinking it was a ghost. He silently switched off the fan and disappeared. I had to sweat it out until his wife sneaked in, switched it on and disappeared as quietly as he did. After all, she had adjusted with the “kanjus” (stingy guy) for years.