Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cheer…2012’s here

Sending positive vibes and wishes to everyone visiting this blog: Let 2012 bring good health, peace and prosperity to you. Some blog buddies have been of tremendous help, motivating me personally and professionally. Thanks for that. I am sure our bond will strengthen further in the coming years. Stay connected. Love you guys and gals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Noisy pest

My dad has several good qualities, but one inappropriate trait I have inherited is loud voice.
A pest-control guy was supposed to reach my home from Dubai. I explained five times on phone how to reach my residence, but he kept asking the route repeatedly.
For the fifth time I asked him, “Do you know Al Khan bridge in Sharjah?”
“As soon as you get down the bridge, don’t move right or in any other direction. The building is bang opposite the bridge.”
I received the sixth call.
“I have turned right. Now what?”
I told the guy to halt the vehicle wherever he was and walk towards my building.
Then I banged the phone muttering, “What a headache!”
“Ya. For us too, you noisy pest,” joked my colleagues who were disturbed by my yelling on the phone.
Talk of pests and I remembered a joke:
Hoping to teach a lesson to her mother-in-law, a woman put a cockroach on the party dress the lady was about to wear.
The MIL wore the dress, found the cockroach, shook it off and laughed. Her revenge plan was ready: A lizard.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Teacher 'passed away'

The supervisor of an Indian school in Dubai entered a Grade X classroom expecting a serious session.
“Who’s India’s railway minister?” she asked.
“Pratibha Patil,” replied a student.
“That’s the president,” corrected the teacher.
As the class erupted in laughter, another student raised her hands.
“Ma’am, it’s Sonia Gandhi.”
“Enough. Who is the hero of the film Don2?" asked the teacher.
“Shah Rukh Khan,” this time the class replied in chorus.
School life is fun indeed.
A peon saw children making noise and told them, “Go to your seats and sit quiet. Our principal is rounding the school.”
As the children laughed over “rounding,” a boy told the peon, “Do not say rounding. It is wrong English. Say principal is rotating the school.”
I heard more such hilarious incidents.
A science instructor entered a classroom and asked the children, “Did any of you see the English teacher?”
“Ya ma’am,” replied a kid. “She just passed away that side.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ban bad thoughts

Strangely, a court in Russia is about to decide on the Holy text of BhagvadGita. The text has taught me to love everyone irrespective of creed, colour, religion or social status.
Here are just a few points I love in the text:
One who is free from malice towards all beings, friendly and compassionate, forgiving and ever-contented.
One who is free from joy, envy, fear and anxiety.
He who neither rejoices, nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires.
One who is the same to foe and friend as well as honour and dishonour, cold and heat and pleasure and pain, who is free from attachment, to whom censure and praise are equal, who is silent, content with anything.
People with these attributes are dear to God.
God, please save us from your followers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Turmeric magic

I just do not understand what constitutes good looks or beauty.
My wife bought an expensive T-shirt for me. When I went out wearing that, not a single friend reacted.
Last week, I bought a shirt at throwaway price. When I entered office, I was amazed at the reaction from friends. In fact, a colleague clicked a snap on his mobile saying that the shirt looked great.
People go to any extent to look better. Bald friend Bhagat used a lotion to cure baldness, only to be left with acid marks on his head.
Little boy RJ wanted to prove to girls that he was a grown-up boy. “I want to grow a nice, black moustache,” he told us. “Use turmeric paste,” we suggested. The next day, he appeared with his face covered in turmeric. Women use turmeric paste to keep off superfluous hair.
I heard an interesting story. A mother, with her hands and face bearing ugly burns marks, feeds her child. “You are repulsive,” the child tells the mom. “Do you know how this happened?” asks the mother. “You were an infant when our house was on fire. Everyone ran away, including your dad. I picked you up, covered you completely and got burnt.”
No wonder, Kahlil Gibran wrote: Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.
Having said that, I should concede I enjoyed the compliments from friends. Include me in the hypocrites list.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stunt rider vows to wow UAE

(This is a report I wrote for our newspaper today)
From a humble soldier in Hungary to horse-stuntman in the UAE, Sandor Boros has galloped a long way. He has been a taxi driver, photographer and stunt performer in Hollywood movies, but it is his passion for all things equestrian that has brought him to Sharjah.
“I am old,” he says, but this 57-year-old man’s feats — performed with his horse Kagylo, an Arabian breed from
Hungary — can easily match those performed by stuntmen in their thirties.
Even as the horse picks up speed, he stands majestically on it, cracking his whip loudly. He then rolls head-over-heels swiftly and makes the horse follow commands like ‘Lie down,’ ‘Sit’ and ‘Spin over.’
Boros has trained Kagylo to stand still at a particular place, tolerate loud noises/fire and even act dead, while he pulls its tail or walks over it. Standing on two simultaneously running horses has drawn much applause for him.
While transporting Kagylo by plane from
Hungary to the UAE, the stuntman also arranged for a special saddle made exclusively for stunts where he needed to have a firm grip. At Dhs35,000, the saddle was “too expensive,” but he had little choice as “recession was biting Europe and there were not many jobs forthcoming.”
After ending his career as a soldier, Sandor turned a taxi driver only to find the everyday routine in a car boring. “It was then that I sought help from a friend to train as a stunt man and my life changed. I now have four decades of experience in sport and stunt photography too,” he points out.
Prior to taking up work three months ago as a horse trainer and stable manager at the Sharjah Equestrian Club, Sandor had a stint in
Dubai working for the show, Al Saheel:  A Thousand and One Horse Tales.
The show invited people from across the globe to tell their stories through their horses. Dramatic and funny, these were tales of man’s relationship with his horse and the continuity that has bound them together through the centuries. The different sections included classical Spanish dressage, stunt riding, pony humour, traditional “horse whispering,” plus specialist acts. The show was designed to attract those with no prior knowledge of horses as well as enthusiasts.
“Using my own specially trained horse, we performed two of these acts. One was comedy and the other to show the athletic skills of the horse and rider (trick riding),” explains Sandor.
There have been funny moments too. At a particular show, the horse that acted dead refused to wake up. After Sandor’s repeated prodding failed, he urged the audience for an applause. Within seconds, Kagylo was on its heels.
Adaptability has not proved to be a problem for the Arabian horse. “During winter, these horses grow longer hair offering a cosy coating. Summer too did not prove tough for my horse.”
Fluent in Hungarian, German, Italian and English, Boros has been a stunt performer in over 100
Hollywood films, some involving leading stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Daniel Craig, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. He also took part in the famous Apassionata horse show, which performs annually across Europe
in 22 major cities. 
The stunt master has clearly fallen in love with Sharjah. “This is a great city. The cultural diversity of the UAE is appealing. So I am here offering funny, stunt and trick riding horse shows for occasions like opening ceremonies, desert camps, birthday or wedding parties, school and company events.” What are his future plans?“I intend to start a stunt school in Sharjah,” he replies, even as the horse neighs. “See, Kagylo is saying it is a good idea.” 

Friday, December 2, 2011

My friends are your friends

On this 500th post, I wish all visitors of this blog, the best of life – health, love, cheers, peace and prosperity. Plz remember, you have a friend who remembers you 24/7. His name is RR.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Don’t write off pencil power

I was sharpening a pencil when my colleague said: “You must be among the rare few using a pencil in this modern age.”
I still use the pencil to make page corrections at office. I am an old timer in that. After all, I have seen the metamorphosis of the newspaper industry in over two decades from Hot metal (Letterpress) printing to Cut & Paste method and completely computerised system as of now.
There is a personal touch too. Whenever I had fights with my brother, I used to break his pencil or dip it in water. When I bought colour pencils for my daughter, she mostly used them on walls than papers. Also, I cannot rub off the image of my former boss with a pencil over his ears.
Hey, “pencil over the ear” reminds me of a joke I had read.
An accident occurs at a factory where a worker’s ear is ripped off by a machine. After a search, his colleagues pick up the chopped ear and tell him: “Here it is.”
“Not this,” he replied, “Mine had a pencil above.”
PS: I am told over 14 billion pencils are manufactured worldwide annually. It is best not to write off its strength.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Slapped by robot

My friend Satyajit Chattopadhyay sent this Internet joke. I found it hilarious and am sure you will enjoy reading:
A man buys a Lie-detector robot that slaps people who lie.
He decided to test it at dinner:

Dad: Son where were you today during school hours?

Son: At school (robot slaps son)

Son: Okay I went to the movie!

Dad: Which one?

Son: Harry Potter (robot slaps again!)

Son: Okay I was watching porn.

Dad: What? When I was your age...I didn't even know what porn was! (robot slaps dad)
Mom: hahaha! after all he is your son!...
(robot  slaps Mom)!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stronger than yesterday

I was hearing an old Tamil song which went like: There are millions of people less fortunate than you. Think about that and feel peace. 
How well put. Grumbling does not take us one inch forward. When we hit rock bottom, the only way back is UP!!! I have come across challenging situations and had thought it’s the end of the world. How stupid! Better to put on the music and dance with the Britney song, “I am stronger than yesterday.”
Sharing two real recent incidents:
* The mother was waiting with her 14-year-old daughter for the school bus on the ground floor of a Dubai tower and left her son unattended in the apartment. While waiting, she saw her son dangling off the flat’s window on the eighth floor. Turning hysterical, she rushed to her apartment, but the boy had already fallen off. The mother rushed down only to discover him lying in a pool of blood. She returned to her flat and jumped off the window, with her body landing on top of the son’s. The mother died instantly. And the girl remained in a state of shock.
* A 3-year-old ate leftover lasagna and lived with her mother’s body for two days until police came to the home in New Zealand. “Mummy won’t wake up,” little Shylah Silbery told police when they arrived. Police persuaded her to climb on a chair and open a chain on the door. The girl ate the lasagna and drank milk from the refrigerator and cuddled her teddy bear. She was there for that long, trying to wake up mum.
I have very special prayers for these two girls and others in such unimaginable situations. The rest of us better thank the Universe for giving us so much.

Monday, November 21, 2011

‘Let’s just dance - impromptu’

(This is a report I wrote for our newspaper today).
DUBAI: If choreographer-couple Scott and Lisa Marshall have their way, Dubai and the rest of the UAE will rock to new scintillating tunes and “surprise” twists.
A flash mob organised by the duo at Dubai airport recently has become a Web sensation and the pair has now lined up “lots of gigs,” advising residents to “keep their eyes peeled!”
It was a rare spectacle at the airport, for it’s not every day that a shopper’s paradise turns into a dancing stage. It was then that the flash mob went into action — a group of 55 people broke into an impromptu dance, taking shoppers by surprise.
A flash mob is a group of people who suddenly break out into a dance routine in a public place, without the knowledge of anyone, then disperse, often for entertainment, satire or artistic expression.
The programme, which took weeks to arrange, was organised by the airport to promote the new DXB Connect Card, a pre-paid card designed for airport passengers.
The overwhelming response at the airport as also on the Internet came as a pleasant surprise to the organisers.
Scott and Lisa, who run Diverse Choreography, say they are committed to producing such first-class bespoke shows. “We choreograph and direct all varieties of entertainment ranging from TV and pop videos to theatre, corporate and fashion shows, hence the name Diverse Choreography.”
“In the three years we have been in Dubai, the business has grown immensely, so there will be more and more performing opportunities in the years to come, for sure! It is growing bigger by the day,” avers Lisa.
The couple have worked with established artists including Cher, Kylie Minogue, Pink, Dame Shirley Bassey, Vanessa Mae, Anastacia and Girl’s Aloud. They have also worked with the ITV and the BBC on shows such as The Royal Variety Performance, Brit Awards, American Music Awards, Top of the Pops and Eurovision Song contest.
In the UAE, they have choreographed events like the Middle East’s first annual Alternative Energy Awards, Diamond and Gold Commodities Conference - Jewellery show, an event hosted by Mubadala for Ferrari and F1, Shakira at the Emirates Palace and Lamborghini launch and fashion show.
Dancing may be fun, but there is always a hidden fear that life as a professional dancer or performer may not be lucrative. Lisa, however, rejects the contention. “For dancers, there are enough performing opportunities here to sustain. Various shows are held regularly for them to be involved with. Plus, a few of the dancers here teach for us at our school, so we always keep them busy.”
“At Diverse, choreography students are trained and offered several opportunities to perform with/for us throughout the year. The biggest is our show which we hold at The First Group Theatre in Dubai every May in which all students are involved.”
The dancers are recruited for different events. A few of them have been involved in events like DXB Connect flash mob, F1, Cirque de Souq, fashion shows for Harvey Nichols and many more.
Parents seem to be happy with the trend. “My two daughters have been training for over two years. I’ve seen them go from regular talented girls to disciplined performers for both musical theatre and dancing. My girls train for 6 to 7 hours a week and I have not once heard them complain about going, even on a Thursday evening when they sometimes miss social events with their friends,” comments Camilla Oberg.
Adds Amanda Savory, another parent: “My two daughters enjoy the classes so much that they are keen to take on additional sessions each year. I have seen a passion for dance, drama and singing develop in both girls. Their confidence has soared.”
Professional dancers say that the scene in Dubai is encouraging. Victoria works as a dancer and teacher for Diverse Performing Arts School. “I have been here for over three years. There are good opportunities out in the UAE to dance as the venues are stunning and this time of year is very busy for us. The dance scene has gotten bigger by the year,” she points out.
So much so, Scott and Lisa are now planning to open their own studio in the near future, their biggest project for now.
Will there be a flash mob in Sharjah too?“Come on, do not take the fun away,” laughs Lisa. “I think that would be a little too predictable. The appeal of a flash mob, is the ‘surprise’ element!”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Curse of poverty: Digest this

It is an incident that cannot be deleted from my memory easily.
I was with my wife and daughter at the crowded food court of a famous Sharjah mall this weekend. Seated on the next table were three children with buckets of fast food, including chicken, Pepsi and fries.
They chatted and nibbled at the crunchy grub. In a short while, they rose and left, leaving a huge chunk of food scattered all over the table.
It was then that it happened.
A neatly dressed man in full sleeves, properly combed hair and just a newspaper on hand took over that seat.
He did not look anywhere else and quietly started sorting out the food. Leaving the empty covers aside, he picked up the leftover food and without any indicative expression on his face, started munching.
He then gulped the leftover soft drinks and repeatedly shook the chips pocket. There was disappointment there as it turned out to be empty.
The man then rose and headed to the rest room.
In a few minutes, he emerged again, looked casual and disappeared in the mall crowd.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Awkward moments-2

Some of you may have missed this hilarious comment from my dear friend in Pakistan (Blog: Thinking). Thought I should share this as a post exactly as she wrote:
Once early morning...I woke up from deep sleep as someone was knocking at the door...continuously...I opened the door and closed it readily...when I returned to my beloved husband asked me who was there?...
I told him to go back to sleep as it was some the old beggar woman...but when the knock started again...more beloved husband went to see...
After few hours when I opened my eyes to the sunlight...I came to know...that it was my mother in law...graciously offering us the breakfast...
ahh....I can't tell what happened NEXT...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Those awkward moments

Three of us were discussing the embarrassing moments we had faced.
I started: A famous editor AS had joined our newspaper and was engrossed in a conversation with a colleague. There was a call on the landline and I did not hear the name properly.
I surmised it was for that editor and called him out loudly, “Boss, call for you.” He was surprised. “How come on landline!” He walked slowly and picked up the phone.
In a second, he returned the receiver saying “not for me.” His eyes did reflect the “You fool” look. Actually, that mumbling caller wanted to talk to me.
My second friend joined in:
“Your experience was better, mine is bitter. I had a fight with my girl friend. She was shouting at me and I could not take it anymore. I screamed at her for a couple of minutes - only to realise that she had cut off the phone much earlier.”
Both of you are lucky, said our third friend.
“I and Sam were standing at the loo and blasting our boss. When we were washing our hands, the toilet door opened and out emerged the boss.”
“OMG. Did he sack both of you?” we asked.
“Luckily, he had put on the mobile earphone and must have been listening to music. We presume so as there was no major repercussion.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Don't imagine things

My friend Viju Jacob is a naughty boy. He posted the above photo on FB.
I was gleefully imagining things, when I read his accompanying post:
“Of course they are a ladies pair of heels, you dirty minds!!!”

Monday, November 7, 2011

In defence of blogs

Again my friend annoyed me by saying: “Shut your blog and use your time for something better.”
I want to answer him with Seema’s post.
I know Seema only through her blog. We have not interacted through chat or phone, though I have done so with many blog friends. We keep motivating each other with positive words. I think Seema’s post is an inspiration for those who feel negative and pessimistic in life. 
Here it is exactly as in her blog:


I am happy to tell all my blogging buddies and to my dear blog, i got a job!
Now anyone on this earth would say, what great deal in that?
The reason why it is a great deal for me is, I had not taken up any job after I completed my studies. There were ample reasons for it. And I was happy being at home, atleast for some days. Then slowly i started getting frustrated, and a time arrived where I felt, i was not worth for a job. Buddies i tell you, don't ever be frustrated, depressed, feel worthless. It is the worst feeling you can ever have.
But then i don't know how, i got into a touch with a placement consultancy, he arranged an interview for me the same day. And i got selected in a very first attempt. I have stepped into an altogether different world. Its an MNC which is the leading one in the industry of travel and leisure. I have got a realization that its not a very flashy job when it comes to "PACKAGE". But its totally fine with me. I am here to learn, to get a good experience. And apart from that, monetary returns were not the only motivation why i have taken up this job. The other reasons are, that i get to live with my family, take good care of my mother, look after my home, live in my hometown...
These factors have motivated me enough to take up not-so flashy job, but i tell you i am learning a lot.
I am feeling so happy when i write this...and here i discover another hue of life, happiness is not a matter of things, its a matter of spirits!!!
P.S.: A special thanks to R. Ramesh, (of GLOBAL MADRAS
I), a blog buddy who has been so supporting and encouraging me to get through. Your comments are valuable to me! Thanks, once again!!   

Friday, November 4, 2011

Footpath to foodpath

'Dosa King' with former president Abdul Kalam

I had written about Ganapathy 12 years ago for The Times of India supplement when he started his Dosa Plaza outlet in Navi Mumbai. Now, this humble villager from Tamil Nadu has become the owner of the world’s largest dosa chain, including 3 in New Zealand, 2 in Dubai and several in India. I interviewed him again in Dubai last week for our Panorama magazine. I hope you find this inspiring. 

It is the story of a man who literally started from scratch. Prem Ganapathy left his village in Tamil Nadu after a friend promised him a job in Mumbai, but found himself abandoned in the pulsating city. Penniless but not hopeless, Ganapathy started his professional life as a dishwasher and has churned out a success story that is as delicious as it is inspiring. His Dosa Plaza now has 40 outlets in India, three in New Zealand, one in Dubai and expanding in the UAE.
“For the first time in the UAE, we are offering 104 varieties of dosas. It is a sort of record. In a world increasingly dominated by junk food, people are looking out for something healthy that blends taste with quality and that’s where we step in,” explains Ganapathy, while chatting amid the hustle and bustle that characterises the
Dosa Plaza outlet at Qusais.
Dosa or Dhosai is a type of pancake made from batter of rice and black lentils. It is a staple dish in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is also commonly known in
Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. In Myanmar, it goes by the name “Toshay.”
At the Qusais outlet, dosas are offered with an international twist. People can choose from the 104 types of dosas on offer that include Chinese and Mexican-style fusions such as Schezwan dosa (Plain, Mushroom, Paneer), Mexi roll dosa, Paneer Chilly dosa and other uttappam/ pizza types, besides the traditional south Indian favourites.
“This is fast food on the go,” avers Ganapathy. “Our vision is to become the leading brand serving traditional south Indian cuisine worldwide with an oriental and Western taste, delivering quality food, efficient service and value for money.”
How well does the menu gel with the Arab taste?
“Quite a few Arabs visit us,” says Ganapathy gleefully. “Some hesitate after seeing the atypical, all-vegetarian menu. But we offer them samples and they get bowled over by the taste. Most Arabs prefer the Arabian Delight varieties that are less spicy. They also like salad-based dosas.”
The “Dosa King,” as he is fondly called by friends, is thoroughly delighted with the response in the UAE and is planning a Gulf-wide expansion. A new outlet will be opened in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi soon and also in Australia.
But he does worry that his novel recipes may be picked up by rival businesses. Hence, he decided to “trademark” 27 of his dosas across
Ganapathy’s has not been a life laid on a sugary path. In fact, he had to contend with scorching challenges. When he left his native village in Tuticorin and reached the never-sleep-city, Mumbai, he hardly imagined that a friend he trusted most would ditch him after promising a job. To add to his misery, he did not know the local language. After spending months as a dishwasher at a bakery in Mahim, he started serving tea to customers. As an enthusiastic employee, he kept a note of customers’ tastes and loved chatting with them.
A particular customer was moved by his dedication and offered him partnership for a tea shop in Vashi. The business was encouraging, but the owner indulged in foul play and refused to share profit. A dejected Ganapathy went back to his village, only to return after taking a minor loan from relatives. 
This time he was more determined to make it big. He rented a roadside stall in Vashi and started serving dosas for nearly five years. The stall then expanded into a restaurant outside the crowded Vashi railway station. He widened the menu and injected innovation by bringing out several varieties of dosas. The eatery became popular and the local media highlighted his entrepreneurship. A young, Net-savvy relative helped him launch his website. 
At the same time, McDonald’s opened its first outlet in the Vashi area. Inspired by its success story, Ganapathy was lured to the idea of franchises. This led to an impressive expansion. The restaurant grew from a single company-owned outlet to a chain by venturing and tying up with other companies throughout
India. The restaurants are owned and operated through both company-owned and franchisee models, thus ensuring rapid growth.
It is not always that an enterprise is born from the wisdom of the corridors of a business school. Dedication, innovation and challenging spirit are what form a successful recipe. Ganapathy did not have to go to a B-school to learn all this. He gained his insights straight from the dusty but vibrant streets of Mumbai. And now, he is rightly reaping the sweet fruits of hard labour.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chimpu outside the cage

How does a short guy feel when he meets a tall person?” asked my colleague.
“He will feel the same way a bald person does when he chats with a long-haired dude,” I replied.
“I can tell you how an intelligent person feels when talking to a fool,” he continued.
“The same way I feel right now talking to you,” he pulled my leg.
“I remembered and missed you yesterday evening,” I changed the subject.
“That’s sweet of you,” he was pleased.
“I was in the zoo,” I took my sweet revenge.
“Oh, was that you outside the chimpanzee’s cage at the zoo?” he continued.
Before I could reply, he snapped: “Someone was commenting the chimpu’s out of the cage and a man locked inside.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nice nuisance

Tired of the daily routine, a friend sat on a park bench, shut his eyes and inhaled deep when another guy grabbed a seat next to him. In seconds, the other man’s cellphone buzzed a romantic tune. Oblivious of someone sitting next to him, the stranger talked loudly for several minutes.
Just yesterday, another friend complained about how a man disturbed an entire prayer session by not stopping the ring tone from buzzing.
When he wrote about this on the FB, the reactions ranged from: “Cell phones should be banned during a prayer session,” and “I cannot understand why people bring it everywhere.” A third person opined: “Someone must have told him about the vibrations!” One comment differed: “If you are in deep prayer or meditation, why should a cellphone sound affect you?”
Are cellphones a pain in the neck?
I would gladly say “yes,” but I cannot dare dump my phone in the sea. After all, she had gifted it to me.
Now, do not ask who she is!
It is definitely not some blog friend. Blog friends have not become so large-hearted yet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What have you done, David!

David was happy to see me late in the afternoon.
“You have come to Dubai. You cannot go without visiting home,” he dragged me.
He was preparing tea when the bell rang.
“Hi sweetie,” he hugged her.
It was his wife, returning from school after a hard day’s labour.
“This is RR,” David introduced me.
“Hi,” she said without any interest and turned to David.
“What have you done to the house? I told you to keep it spick and span. You have made a mess.”
“Darlinggg,” he tried to appease her.
“What darling, barling? Don’t touch me David,” she shrugged. “Can’t you see I am sweating all over? There is inspection at school and you know I am going through hell.”
David looked at me like a cat from whose mouth a delicious rat had been snatched.
“You know boss. Teachers have a low pay, high tension job.”
“Ya, my wife is also a teacher,” I consoled him.
By that time, his wife had reached the kitchen.
“Daviddd..,” she yelled.
“Now what?” I murmured.
The milk on the stove had spilled over.
I looked at David sympathetically and took to my heels.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Top to bottom

Last week I had a chance to visit ‘At.mosphere,' Dubai, recognised as the world's ‘Highest Restaurant from Ground Level" by The Guinness World Records. Kindly allow me to show off. Hey, photo clicked by my dear friend and ace lensman Nisham Manaf.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Complex couples

This is an expanded report of a blog post for our magazine Panorama (Oct.7, 2011) Sorry about the length:
Abdul Rehman runs a photo studio in Sharjah. Buoyed by the business boom, he decided to tie the knot. The marital bliss, however, turned out to be brief as he was exposed to a peculiar habit that his wife had developed. If any of her demands were rejected, she would wake up at midnight and create a scene by cutting her wrist or threatening to jump off the window. Rehman's wedlock fast snapped into a deadlock.
Anil Nayar of Dubai recently returned home from office with his brand-new Land Cruiser, all pumped up with joy. Three nights later, his possessive wife deflated his newly-found happiness after learning that he had dropped a female colleague home the same evening. What started as a midnight chat on the subject ended in a fight with the couple not talking to each other for the next three days.
Marriage is a complex subject. Psychologists caution that taking a partner for granted can prove costly for couples, especially in these days of unabashed materialism. With individual ambitions on the rise, so are stress levels. Reports indicate that with more and more couples bickering over trivial matters, household finances have become a burning cause for discord.
Dr Raymond H. Hamden, Clinical & Forensic Psychologist, Human Relations Institute, Dubai, is not surprised. “In fact, rarely do couples fight over big issues. Most of the time, petty matters pile up and lead to a crisis in relations.”
Dr Hamden suggests that couples should learn to balance their lives. “They need to communicate effectively. One should not tell the other ‘my way is the only way.’ There should be a clear interaction without any emotional garbage.”
“Complex couple” is a term in vogue, to define a pair whose relationship has landed in troubled waters for unclear reasons, says psychologist R. Hassan. “The term may be new, but the problem has been prevalent since ages. People have started talking about it more openly these days," he says.
According to the psychologist, irrational expectations from each other, more often than not, lead to trouble brewing in a marriage. The situation can be addressed by both parties talking and spending quality time together, maybe by going on a vacation.
After this has been tried and a solution is not forthcoming, the problem could be intrinsically psychological in nature, over which individuals have little control. In such cases, a visit by either, preferably both, to a counsellor or clinical psychologist could prove beneficial.
In some cases, people fail to realise that they could be suffering from some psychological disorder until matters turn too complicated to handle.
Ashish works in a multinational company. A handsome and cheerful guy, he was naturally disposed to interact with colleagues and friends, especially females. His wife, however, took objection. When the matter came to head, relatives suggested that the couple take a vacation. The attempt though proved futile and the bickering continued.
The entire family was distressed until a well-wisher suggested that the couple visit a clinical psychologist. It was then that the wife was diagnosed as suffering from a “Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD).
PPD is a condition characterised by excessive distrust and suspicion of others. The disorder is diagnosed only when these behaviours become persistent and reach distressing levels.
It is not always women who are the cause of conflict. There are several instances where chauvinistic men cause a relationship to collapse with their biased attitude. 
The result of discord can be varying. There are instances of couples who have been married for long, but not talking to each other. Surprisingly, they may even be having children and stay together only for the sake of the child.
Says Hassan: “All marriages will face marital conflict at varying degrees. Couples should learn how to handle these problems effectively. The impact of modern-day stress can be devastating if couples do not learn to cement a formidable understanding.”
Interestingly, while marriages in the UAE have steadily increased over the past few years thanks to economic progress, the number of divorce cases has also shown a sharp increase.
A report by the National Bureau of Statistics gave no figures for 2010 but according to the state Marriage Fund, divorces remained high through 2010 as economic uncertainty loomed large.
From 13,001 in 2005, total marriages in the UAE rose to 13,190 in 2006 and 13,321 in 2007 before jumping to 15,041 in 2008 to record their highest annual growth rate of 12.9 per cent. Marriages continued to rise in the following year but at a much slower rate of 0.8 per cent to reach 15,175.
The report showed divorces dropped from 3,638 in 2005 to 3,335 in 2006 before surging to 3,761 in 2007. They rose by about 2.5 per cent to 3,855 in 2008 before jumping by 23 per cent to 4,760 in 2009.
The Marriage Fund said that more than a fifth of the marriages involving national spouses in the UAE ended with divorce in 2010, maintaining the countryƕs status as having the highest divorce rate in the region.
“The bottomline,” experts agree, “is that couples should love and trust each other. There should be no comparisons. They should spend enough time together and be lavish in the appreciation of each other.”                    
(Some of the names have been changed to protect identities).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Super comment

Hey, I like this comment about Steve Jobs post by dear friend sharing it:
3 apples changed the world..
One that tempted Eve..
Second that fell on Newton..
And third is this Apple ;)

You did great Job, Steve

I wrote this post on Steve Jobs on Jan24, 2009. This guy, I will miss him, his inspiring words. 
He is an amazing guy, this Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs. What an inspiration, his words. Jobs, who had successful surgery for a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004, had said he would remain CEO while seeking a "simple" treatment for a hormone imbalance.
He then said recently he would take medical leave in June, after learning that his health problems were "more complex" than he originally thought.
Here are just four quotations of his I am sure you will enjoy reading. They are inspiration tonic.
* The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
* Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
* There's a phrase in Buddhism, 'Beginner's mind.' It's wonderful to have a beginner's mind."
* I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.
I had written another post about Jobs on Sept5, 2010:
I was telling another grumpy guy about how Apple’s Steve Jobs struggled in his early days. Jobs’ biological mom put him for adoption. “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” she had asked. He didn’t have a dorm room and slept on floor in friends’ room. He returned Coke bottles and would walk seven miles every Sunday night to get a good meal at the Hare Krsna temple in the US. The Whole Earth Catalogue carried a line: Stay hungry, stay foolish. This line had a deep impact on Jobs.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cycle of joy

Today I grabbed a bicycle from a friend and went on a jolly ride around our building. I love the bicycle. It is sad that Sharjah roads are not friendly towards cyclists.
When I returned the cycle, I remembered an incident.
I was covering a news report long ago for our paper about a new, long bridge connecting Mumbai with Navi Mumbai over the sea. I requested GD, a famous photographer of The Times of India, to click a snap. He told me to meet him at the site and asked, “Do you have your own vehicle?”
“Yes,” I replied.
When I reached the spot, he had already finished taking the photos and told me, “Let’s go. Where’s your vehicle?”
I pointed at my bicycle carrier and told him, “Sit.”
I still remember his furious face and the way he screamed, “Whattt? This is a vehicle for you?”
Obviously, he had thought I would be reaching in a car or motorbike.  
Have you heard this joke?
A cyclist dashed against a pedestrian and instantly said: “You are lucky.”
“Nonsense, why am I lucky?” asked the injured guy.
“Yesterday I was riding a truck.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Makes me think

While browsing the Net, I came across a compilation of touching snippets at Makes Me Think (MMT) website. It really made me think. Goes to show the value of love and affection. Just picked a few anecdotes to share with you:
• Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying. And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face. MMT
• Today, while I was driving my grandfather to his doctor’s appointment, I complained about hitting 2 red lights in a row. My grandfather chuckled and said, “You always complain about the red lights, but you never celebrate the green ones.” MMT
• Today, my close friend died unexpectedly in a car accident. A cab driver saw me crying outside the hospital all alone at 3AM. He stopped, helped me into the cab, drove me to my house 30 miles away and refused to let me pay him. MMT
• Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe. He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating. The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.” MMT
• Today, my father told me, “Just go for it and give it a try! You don’t have to be a professional to build a successful product. Amateurs started Google and Apple. Professionals built the Titanic.” MMT
• Today, I was walking past a group of homeless men who live near my complex. A cab pulled up next to the men and the driver opened up the rear door and pulled out two huge grocery bags full of food. He set them down next to the group of men, got in his cab and drove off without saying a word. MMT
• Today, I was in line at the store behind a man holding a dozen roses. When he got up to the cashier’s counter, he realized that the cashier looked sad. The man smiled and said, “I’m buying 11 of these roses for my wife.” And then he handed the cashier the 12th rose. She smiled from ear to ear. MMT

Friday, September 16, 2011

A couple of complex couples

I asked a friend whether he opted for love marriage or arranged.
“You want to know whether I opted for suicide or murder?” he joked.
Marriage indeed is a complex subject.
I know a couple married for long, but never talk to each other. They even have a son. When I entered their home, the husband moved out quickly without uttering a word. Wonder how they live together without talking to each other for so many years.
Another friend’s wife had a peculiar habit. She will make certain demands. If refused, she will wake up at night and create a scene by cutting her wrist.
A close buddy recently bought a Land Cruiser. His wife refused to talk to him for three days. Reason: The guy allowed a female colleague to sit on the front seat next to him while dropping her home.
When I tried to convince her, she snapped: “Will your wife allow a girl to sit next to you in your new car?”
“First, I do not have a car. Second, if my wife had been so possessive…,” I stopped and thanked God.
The subject also reminds me of a joke from the Internet.
“Doctor, any medicine for long life?”
“Get married.”
“How will it help?”
“You will forget need for long life.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bee happy

“Bye, honey,” said the husband to his wife on the TV show, and I imitated the lines to my wife, picking up my bag to leave for office.
My mind kept whirling around the magnificent insect, honey bee.
How many of us know that to make just one teaspoon of honey, bees need to travel about 1,250 kilometres (roughly Mumbai-Chennai distance) and visit more than 40,000 flowers?
I heard a spiritualist say: One should extract happiness from life as the bee extracts nectar from flowers. The bee flaps its wings and a sort of warmth is created around the flower. The insect then extracts only as much nectar as is needed so as not to harm the flower or cause any pain.
If someone asks who is your favourite music composer, better answer Bee-thovan.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pacino, the lucky boy

At a time when I was celebrating my hero Al Pacino’s successful “patao”ing (flirting) of the attractive Lucila Sola, I received a call from a beauty in Dubai.
“Hi brother.”
Enough. Pretty women should stop uttering this word. What say handsome boys out there?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Power of smile: Being 45 at 65

"Hi,” he extended his hand and I could feel an iron grip. He looked a man of 45 but was a full 65 years of age.
“It’s amazing you have maintained so well. What’s the secret?” I asked spontaneously.
“I do not miss my gym and refuse to allow anyone to take away my smile. Hey, congratulate me, I just got married,” said the Canadian. I did.
For those who want to live life full, age is no bar, whether it is a teen like me, or the elderly like him.
I also met another friend. She has a beautiful face and an enviable hip. She’s rich and works in a neighbouring country. But there’s something missing. That smile of the Canadian. In fact, she suffered from optimism deficiency.
“How’s life?” I asked and she replied: “Oh, don’t ask me. I am so depressed.”
Toxic company is hazardous. I wanted to run. Yet, she’s my dear friend. So, I told her: “When you feel down, remember people like Steve Jobs. Given away in adoption by Syrian dad, this hero fights cancer. See where he has taken the Apple company.”
She smiled. I think I won, at least for that moment.
Talking about age, here’s a joke I heard:
“Doctor, I have pain in my right (leg) knee.”
“Oh, blame it on age.”
“But I have no pain in my left knee!”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stress buster

I reached my friend’s home and could hear his loud laughter even at the door.
“Laughter is a powerful stress reducer,” he said opening the door.
“Is it? Let me also laugh,” I tried, but ended up braying. The envious neighbours were not amused and my friend had to shut the door instantly.
His lecture continued. Stress can cause heart disease, hair loss and even cancer. Listed among the most stressful jobs were surgeon, pilot, photojournalist and real estate agent. Interestingly, the least stressful jobs were listed as dietician, astronomer and systems analyst. Experts agree that the primary reason for stress is money.
“Why do you talk so much about stress today?” I asked.
“It started like this,” he explained. “I had gone to the saloon for a Salman Khan-style cut. The Malayalam TV channel was on and the barber, who was engrossed in Kerala political news, not only messed up my handsome look, but also gave me a cut in the chin.”
“It is OK. Bruce Willis will definitely envy your hairstyle,” I consoled him, handing him a chocolate bar.
“Wow,” he grabbed it.
“In case you do not know, dark chocolates can cut stress hormone levels,” I laughed quietly this time. Shhhh…The neighbours should not hear.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A dip of joy

(This is a report written for our magazine about Dubai Atlantis)
It’s a dive that washes off Dhs2,500 from your pocket in an hour, but you ultimately emerge from a massive tank containing 65,000 species of sharks, rays and fish with a thunderous “Wowww.”
This is about the Ultimate Dive, an exhilarating experience that many Emiratis and other nationalities are signing up for at Atlantis, the Palm.
“Just a few months ago when we launched the programme, we had reserved this unique dive only for our guests, but repeated requests from others forced a change of mind,” says Steve Kaiser, Vice-President, Marine Science and Engineering at the hotel.
In one instance, a person who had booked in another prominent Dubai hotel had apparently sought permission to take part. “Though he was ready to pay, we could not allow him as he was not our guest,” stated Steve. The enthusiast additionally booked a room in the Atlantis merely to participate in the Ultimate Dive.
Steve oversees the design and development of the new water attractions at the resort. He is responsible for the entire eco-system of the Ambassador Lagoon, the 11 million litre marine habitat with 65,000 marine animals and The Lost Chambers, a mystical labyrinth of Atlantean ruins with numerous exotic fish and aquatic exhibits.
Opened in 2008, Atlantis utilises the 46 hectares site with 17 hectares of water park amusement, further marine and entertainment attractions.
Every day brings new challenges for Steve’s team and along with some touching moments.
Steve’s team burst in joy this month when a String Ray gave birth to four little ones. Surprisingly, one is a special baby with a slight deformity, though, thankfully, she behaves as normally as the other three.
The String Ray was growing bigger and fatter, and the department was not sure whether she was pregnant or growing “just fat.” The honeymoon had been captured on video.
The Ultimate Dive package includes two half-hour exclusive plunges in the largest open air marine habitat exhibit in the world. For every person taking the plunge, there are two divers. The minimum age is 10 and the participants need a diving certificate.
The first is sort of a familiarisation leap, where one can submerge in the depths of the lagoon, explore the ancient ruins and species of the Arabian Gulf.
Refreshments and a full Arabic meze are then offered along with a briefing for the second dive.
It is during the second dive that one can experience the thrill of feeding the rays by hand. There are a maximum of four divers per session.
“The dive into the 11.5-million litre lagoon where one is guaranteed to glide alongside sharks, rays, wrasse, guitarfish and so much more, is a seven-star experience,” asserts Steve.
The fish are mostly species from the Gulf waters. But it is not that all the fish are a symbol of perfect unity. They do fight among themselves at times and get injured. The wounded and sick species are taken care of in a separate ward equipped with treatment facilities.
Steve’s colleague, Robert Pennett, says most participants are nervous initially. “But then they start enjoying. We have one guy coming from Abu Dhabi who visits every three, four months. An Emirati participant has visited five times. We like his enthusiasm,” he says. “Some of the species here cannot be seen in any other part of the world. We have experts exclaiming ‘what’s that?’ It is amazing. It is a huge pride for the UAE,” affirms Steve.

They call him ‘Fish Man’

His name is Steve Kaiser, but his colleagues and friends call him “Fish Man.” He does not mind it.
Extending his wet hands, Steve, Vice-President, Marine Science and Engineering at Atlantis, The Palm, says: “I fished with my dad when I was young. I had a fishing boat. I had opportunities in other fields, but stayed here. I love fish. So call me ‘fish guy’ and I am OK with that.”
Sporting a brown shirt dotted with graphics of sharks, the Hawaii-born says he does not often wear suits.
“Do you always wear such a shirt with fish designs?” I asked eagerly.
“Of course,” he shoots off. “I have 50 to 60 such shirts.”
Wherever he visits, Steve picks up shirts with fish designs. “Even in Dubai, I spot such shirts and pick them up instantly. It is my luck. I walk into a store and I find them.”
Once he had to wear a suit and his friends wondered how he had appeared without the fish. He smiled and flashed his tie. It had fish design on it.
Steve’s passion for the floating species is visible as his eyes widen with joy at the very mention of the word “fish.”
“The fish are my family. Ours is a very large aquarium. I’m more concerned with the health and welfare of my animals than anything else. I consider the 65,000 fish as my family,” reveals Steve.
At the end of day, he has to maintain all the equipment, feed animals and nurture them, which is a huge responsibility.
Prior to joining the Atlantis team, Kaiser oversaw the development of the new fish and marine attractions at the $1 billion Phase III expansion of Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas which opened in March 2007.
He was instrumental in the design of The Dig, an imaginative journey into ancient Atlantis; the Ruins lagoon, filled with Atlantis artefacts and home to over 20,000 deep reef fish; a replica of a Mayan Temple with five thrilling waterslides that propel riders through acrylic tunnels submerged in shark lagoons; as well as other water slides, swimming pools and lagoons.
Whilst in Hawaii, he was the first to successfully display a large number of shark species never exhibited before, as well as starting a captive breeding and “head starting” programme for green sea turtles.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Do you know Mother-in-law is an anagram for Woman Hitler?” asked my friend.
“OMG. Has your MIL landed at home?” I sympathised with him.
“Don’t ask,” he started his story. “She wants to visit every mall in Dubai; she wants to check out on all types of food.”
“Don’t cry. At least, your wife will be happy,” I consoled him.
“Nope. In fact, she is more worried and furious,” he replied.
“Coz my sister is landing tomorrow.”
Remembered reading this joke: I picked my MIL up at the airport last night. Shucks, these airport lounges are so dark.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We are with you, Anna

I just opened my mail box and was touched by two comments from two dear blog friends.
Amrit Wadhwa wrote from the US: “We are organizing a Candle Light Vigil in our area in support of Anna and in support of Anti-Corruption movement. We have called the local print media. Can you help us to get a line in an Indian newspaper?”
There are quite a few top journalists who visit this blog of mine and FB. Please see if you can suggest Amrit as he is on a noble cause.
Another dear friend Anupama Mazumdar was earlier upset with Anna’s supporters and had doubts about the movement. She wrote: “Just removed my blog on Anna. I guess it’s time to support the old man, and air our personal views later.”
How sweet. I am happy for India and democracy.
Anna himself is corrupt, said a friend.
“Really?” I asked. “If he is corrupt, he will be the first victim of his own movement. Does it not sound sweet?” 
PM is a very good man, said another.
Really? I asked and read out a news report. “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the Lok Sabha and justified the police crackdown on the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare.”
In fact, as a “Honest” prime minister, is it not Mr Singh who should have been in Anna’s shoes!

Monday, August 15, 2011

‘Dirty and dark like Tamilians’

Thanks Wikipedia
A couple of angry friends asked why I did not write against US vice-consul Maureen Chao who said she felt "dirty and dark like Tamilians" after a long train journey.
In a funny coincidence, US Secretary Hillary Clinton recently visited Tamil Nadu and declared that the US-India partnership was based on shared values of democracy, liberty and respect for religious and cultural diversity.
The same Chao had said: “As a student I chose India, fascinated by its culture and religion. I was amazed at the graciousness of the people.”
Therefore, the best way to punish Chao is to forgive her. That way Tamils can stand taller.
As Ann Landers said, "Hate is like an acid. It destroys the vessel in which it is stored." The key to best health is a “let go” habit.
About Tamil/ians from Wikipedia: Tamil is one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world. The Tamil literature has existed for over 2,000 years. Tamil language inscriptions written c. 1st century BCE and 2nd century CE have been discovered in Egypt, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Tamilians are an ethnic group native to Tamil Nadu and the northeastern region of Sri Lanka. Historic and post 19th century emigrant communities are also found across the world, notably Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Reunion (France) and the UK.