Monday, August 30, 2010

A gorilla smarter than me

Studies reveal that animals are cleverer than we thought. Many exhibit emotions similar to humans.
As soon as I entered office, I told S that humans and chimpanzees share 99% of our DNA.
I can’t agree with you more, he replied, and went on to say how royally an ape was sitting at Kolkata zoo. Legs crossed, the animal was puffing a cigarette, when children began to throw things at him. After tolerating for a while, the animal began to pick up the things and throw back at the children. When the kids made funny sounds, the ape imitated.
The interesting thing I read is about a gorilla named Kola in Congo. It learned to test the electric fence surrounding his forest reserve by holding a grass stem up to the wire. The stem will conduct a bit of current, enough to show Kola the fence is turned on, but not enough to give him a shock. Author Michael Hanlon argues that not all humans would be able to do this.
I support Australian philosopher Peter Singer who argues that if it is right to take a chimp’s life to save a human then it may also be right, under circumstances, to take a human’s life to save a chimp.
(This is the concluding part of yesterday’s post)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Man, crows have brain

Documentaries about animals being used for medical tests have always thrust a sense of guilt in me as a human being.
I love animals, birds and all natural creations, like a rose, butterfly or that chubby girl.
Just started reading a book “10 Questions Science Can't Answer (Yet)” by Michael Hanlon. Awesome boss. Some points he has argued in defence of animals can leave anti-animal humans defenceless.
There is an example about crows’ intelligence.
In the BBC television series Life of Birds, a footage was shown in which crows in Japan dropped hard-shelled nuts onto the road at a pedestrian crossing. After waiting first for the nut to be cracked open by a passing car and then for the traffic to be stopped when a pedestrian pushed the button, the crows would land to retrieve their nuts.
There is another story also about crow’s brainpower.
A crow called Betty starred in Science2 magazine after she had learned to fashion a hook out of a piece of wire and use this tool to fish food out of a glass pipe. That took scientists aback as this level of tool making skill has never been observed even in chimpanzees.
I stop here to save your time. Will continue this post later.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Daughter robbed

I had gone to sleep at 1.30am and at 3am the mobile sound shook me up. It was my wife.
“Daughter has been robbed near Pune while traveling from Ahmedabad with classmates early morning. Laptop (with her college IT projects), mobile and credit card (which we had given for emergency purposes) have all been robbed along with her new dresses in the baggage,” she sounded worried.
“Is she and friends OK?” I asked.
“They are fine. The baggage is gone,” she said.
“Block the credit card and mobile,” I consoled her and sent an SMS to daughter, who had another cell gifted by a relative: “Do not worry over material losses. They are meant for our pleasure, not pain.”
I tried to sleep. But it was already sunrise.
Dhond and nearby areas of Pune have been witnessing such train robberies for decades. There has been a clear network involving cops, thieves and politicians. No complaints will be registered at police stations to keep the record straight. When the crying students went to lodge a complaint, they refused to register at Pune station, saying “Go the place where you lost your things.”
Me not surprised. The corrupt system has never changed.
It is like this. Just ask the chief minister of Tamil Nadu to order all autorickshaws (3-wheel taxis) to run on fixed fare meters in Chennai. No chief minister has ever dared so far and never would in the near future. The drivers have been fleecing innocent passengers for decades.
Elementary. The corrupt network is too strong.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Truth about youth

Unfair. Talk about children and everyone goes ga ga. “Oh, today’s kids, they are sharp, smart, splendid. (See comments for Papa don’t preach)
Ask about today’s youth and rest assured of the reply: “Oh, today’s youth. They have no values, dumbos. They have no focus.” Blah, blah, blah.
Poor youth (like me!!) are always at the receiving end.
The complaints against youngsters date back to centuries.
See what Socrates wrote about the youth of those days:
“Our youth love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents and tyrannise teachers."
And the tradition continues.
Parents should stop blaming youngsters and accept Gen gap. The gap is widening by the day, and not years.
A woman and daughter were fighting, when a friend advised, “Step into your daughter’s shoes and look at the problem.”
She replied: “Her shoes are small and don't fit me.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Papa don’t preach

Some people, especially children, have amazing presence of mind.
I was casually chatting with a friend and told him, “I could not sleep whole day yesterday.” His child snapped back, “But you slept whole night?”
My elder daughter was an average student like me at school (But so was Einstein, hehe).
“Why don’t you score more?” I asked her once.
“It’s all in the genes papa,” she replied.
Once a relative arrived with a mischievous child, who pulled down curtains and danced on our bed.
“Keep quiet or I will give you an injection. I am a doctor,” joked my daughter.
“Oh, you are a doctor. I am a policeman. I will beat you with this stick,” the demon chased my daughter.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Better to shut my mouth

Stupid. Utterly stupid. He came close to me and did that. Ya. Yawned. Actually, he yawwnned… Do you remember the circus where the lion opens its mouth and the little girl thrusts her head inside? I felt like that. Did not someone teach him manners? Some just do not have etiquette in their genes.
Now on the subject, we know yawning is contagious. You see someone yawn, you repeat it like a parrot. Experts say it is not because you are bored or sleepy that you yawn, it happens when the oxygen levels in the lungs are low. Males yawn longer than females. We know that animals also yawn.
In fact, reading this post may make you yawn.
Hey, I just read that if you touch your tongue while yawning, it can stop the yawn.
Why am I angry? That guy yawned and I did so too, when that chubby girl passed by. She gave me such a dirty look, I will forget yawning the rest of my life.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Role reversal

If someone is a shy type do not write him off as a weak person.
Edison, Einstein, Lincoln and even Brad Pitt are among a list of shy people, but we know their achievements.
I have a friend who will just blush for everything.
If I ask him, “How are you buddy?” his reply would be, “fhinee…hehe..” (Translate as fine)
If I tell him, “that girl was looking at you,” his face would turn red with discomfiture.
One day I told a female colleague to help him shed his introverted nature. She was a dynamic journalist and was confident she could “brainwash” and make him extroverted. We three went for a tea session and halfway through I left them alone.
After a few minutes, I returned and asked the duo, “How are you guys enjoying?”
The shy guy beamed with enthusiasm “Fabulous.” And the talkative girl’s response was subdued. “Fhinee…hehe…"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beauty of diversity

I was walking along when my Tamil-speaking friend Salimbhai called me to his photo studio. When I entered, his Egyptian neighbour dropped in with his beautiful kids. An Ethiopian employee at the studio joined the discussion. A Sri Lankan gardener Nizam wished us Ramadan Kareem from outside the road-facing studio.
Just a couple of minutes ago, I was greeting a smiling UAE National employee at a famous mall and had purchased a Pakistani shoe from a Filipina salesgirl.
Suddenly I realized Sharjah’s vibrant unity in diversity.
People with closed mindset miss out a lot. Interaction is an ideal recipe for a wisdom-seeking mind. After all, we are all human beings first and have the same emotions. Like a film dialogue goes: There is no man who does not bleed when pricked nor laugh when tickled.
Heard this story: A man with a blocked mindset went to a Sufi saint. The spiritual leader prepared tea, kept pouring it until the cup overflowed. “The cup is full. It can’t take more,” shouted the visitor. “So is your mind, full of ideas without scope for new ones,” came the reply.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When dung hits, lie low

Friend Anil dropped in and I told him that you guys/gals liked the management anecdotes he shared last week. He thanked you all and shared two more that he heard from someone.
A little bird found itself unable to join the rat race. It got confined under a tree and could not move. A bull passed by and its dung covered the bird’s body. Slowly the warmth of the dung made the bird feel cozy. For some time it enjoyed the thrill and then it could control no longer. It started with a mild hum and then a loud song. A cat nearby had earlier not realized there was a bird, coz of the dung cover. When the song became louder, the cat cleared the dung, found the bird and had a hearty meal.
Moral: When surrounded by shit, just be quiet and wait for your time to sing and dance.
A rabbit saw an eagle perched majestically on a tree. “Can I also sit merrily like that?” asked the rabbit. “Do as you like,” came the reply. The rabbit imitated the eagle, closed its eye, sat royally under the tree when a jackal passed by. Stunned by the rabbit’s audacity, the jackal came close by and gave a mild slap. The rabbit continued the posture and the jackal tore it apart.
Moral: To sit majestically on the top without work, you really have to be on the top.

Happy Independence Day

On this wonderful day, let's Indians think global. Let's capture the world's heart with our hard work, enterprise, cheerfulness and love. Let the world ask us how we are able to rise above divisions and stand united. The sweat of hard work, a contented smile, enough money to enjoy basic needs for happiness and never ending pursuit of wisdom - let this be our motto. When God is with us, who can be against us? Cheers.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Warning to darling

Wives never learn. OK, some wives never learn. They do not understand their hubby’s loving language.
R worked in Navi Mumbai, transporting goods on his three-wheel van for companies. I was staying on a 5th floor flat facing the Mumbai-Pune highway that time. We did not have an elevator.
One day, R’s wife visited us and was chatting when we heard a van horn along with a whistle sound from the road.
R was standing there with his vehicle and called out his wife lovingly: “Hey, come dear, let’s go.”
“You come up,” she shouted back.
“It’s hot. I can’t climb. You come, let’s go.”
“You come up. Have tea and go,” she retorted.
By this time, R’s patience had been tested. “Heyyy. Comeee,” his voice was a little harsh.
“You come up and…,” she was repeating like a parrot, when we realised R had had enough.
“Heyyyy. Vaaa diiiii (va is “come” in Tamil, di is derogatory). How many times should I call you?” He bit his tongue, eyebrows shrinking, eyes turning red and fingers flashing a warning signal.
Where is Mrs R? I asked my wife.
“She may have jumped from the window in fear. Luckily, she decided to run down.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dial A for amusement

Cellphones are a part of life these days. But landlines were common earlier and they rung in funny moments too.
“Hello, can I speak to X?” asked a caller.
“He has gone out,” I replied.
“I will hold on, call him,” she said angrily. I wondered whether I was mad or she.
* A reader called up.
“I want to point out some mistakes in your newspaper.”
I quietly gave the phone to a subordinate saying it was for him. My colleague started with a pleasant “Good morning,” but slowly his face was changing from smile to frown. In five minutes, his BP was up. “Excuse me, you are shouting at a wrong person. Hold on,” and then thrust the receiver on my hands angrily. “We have taken note. Thanks,” I banged the phone.
* My colleague and his wife had had a fight at home. I picked up when she rang the office. “What kind of friend you got?” she blasted me. “I chose a stupid friend. You chose a stupid husband. But don’t be violent with him, he is an innocent baby,” I joked. Thank God, she laughed and they made up.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Take a deep breath, relaxxx…

Run, run, run.
This has become the order of the day.
Why do I not see children playing around? Why are they not chasing butterflies, getting wet in the rains, break windowpanes, engage in scuffles prompting their moms to proclaim their sons as heavyweight champions?
Are we on right track?
We have little choice but to join the rat race. We cannot even enter the loo without cellphone. So much for privacy.
Have you seen Gods Must be Crazy film? Just a few miles away from a bustling city a group of tribals remains cut off, so cut off they imagine a cola bottle thrown from a copter as something from heaven. We urbanites will embrace the chaos in cities rather than sit in villages. We sure will go mad.
A blog friend wrote how depressed she is at the present scenario.
All I could tell her was Tolstoy’s “If you want to be happy, be.”
Embrace the turmoil. Peace at heart amid chaos all around, like the eye of a cyclone that remains extremely calm.
The “Why Me” question has no answer. Apple’s Steve Jobs or Model Lisa Ray are great people. But they are forced to fight a form of cancer. Mohammed Ali, Pope John Paul, Hitler suffered from Parkinson. Reagan had Alzheimer, my favourite Dickens had epilepsy just like Napoleon and Alexander. They could not ask, why me! Diseases and problems don’t discriminate.
It’s funny boss. I try to smile whenever possible. One friend took me aside and said, “You must have gone through a terrible tragedy. Otherwise, you can’t keep smiling.”
God, I wondered, you need a tragedy to keep smiling.
Hey, why am I giving this lecture? No time, I have to run. One sec, where is my mobile? Oh God, this Net is so slow…offff..

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cook who landed in a soup

Karachi Dirbar, Madras Restaurant, Bombay Garden..All these food outlets are just five minutes from my home in Sharjah. Same restaurants, same food everyday.
So I decided to cook yummy “sambar.” What better combination than little onion and ladies finger?
All set, I boiled the vegetables, added mustard and other “masalas” along with sambar, chilli, turmeric powder, tamarind water and even added dal (cereal). The aroma was tantalizing. I could see my neighbour, a security man from Sudan, opening the door and passing an envious look.
I patted myself on my back, picked up the “pakad” (Do we call it ‘vessel holder’?) and tried to pour the sambar into a vessel when the damn thing happened. The steam hit my face, I stumbled a little, the holder betrayed and the entire sambar poured on to the kitchen sink. There went my tasty sambar down the drain, literally.
I would have screamed in disgust and anger. But you, my precious friends, know me well now. What a mature guy I have turned into. All I did was frown for a second, quickly turn it into a smile and reach the phone, “Is it Bombay Garden?”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Deciding what is decided

To speak in an assembly of learned without proper knowledge is like playing chess on a board without squares, said a Tamil poet.
“You may be stupid, but don’t exhibit your stupidity,” was my dad’s constant advice.
So I decided to keep mum when friends discussed destiny.
“Nothing called destiny. Man chooses his own path,” M argued vehemently. “If A is destined to murder B, why punish A?” insisted AS.
“We cannot do a damn when situations are forced upon us. A soccer player whose dream it was to shine in the World Cup football got injured just before the match. What is it if not destiny?” asked SB.
“Bum, why are you mum?” all three shouted at me.
“I prefer to keep quiet on a subject I do not understand,” I replied.
“See, destiny can make even this chatterbox mum,” replied SB with glee.
Personally, I go by blogger Vinita’s Matrix line: You have a right to decide, but what you decide has already been decided.
***A judge asked a pickpocket: Do you accept your guilt?
“I am poor and was destined to do this,” replied the accused.
“Sad. I am destined to punish you. Go to jail.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

Top to bottom, bull shit

Bull shitting may take one to the top but it will not help him/her sustain and only lead to downfall.
“Lemme tell you a management story I heard,” friend Anil went on.
An ostrich met its friend, a bull.
“Why are you looking forlorn?” asked the bull.
“I am bird but am not able to fly and sit peacefully on that tree,” cried the ostrich.
“Is that all the matter? Try tasting my dung. It is full of energy and you will reach the tree top easily,” suggested the bull.
The ostrich started with a peck. It jumped a little, succeeded, and became happy. It tried more dung, jumped higher and felt more happy. It ate a lot of dung and hopped on to the tree top with ease. It then looked around joyfully, when a hunter arrived, saw the bulky bird, shot it and took it home for dinner.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Future is bright

Friend Anil has worked in major newspapers and has a good sense of humour. He dropped in and shared this joke:
Two donkeys grew up together. One landed in the palace for job, while the other went to a laundryman’s home.
After many years the two met again.
“How do you do?” asked the tired donkey of the washerman.
“Life is great. They take good care of me in the palace and there is very little work,” replied the royal donkey. “But what happened to you? Why have you lost so much weight?”
“Well. The washerman makes me work too hard. I am forced to carry heavy weights and also beaten up often,” the donkey replied, showing some bruises.
“Why don’t you escape from that stupid washerman?” asked the royal donkey.
“I don’t want to. After all, my future is bright.”
“How do you say that?”
“Every night the washerman fights with his wife and shouts, ‘very soon I will divorce you and get our daughter married to our donkey’.”