Let’s count our blessings

One sometimes comes across certain simplistic pieces of writing that leave a deep impression. There’s an oft quoted adage ascribed to Helen Keller that reads:

I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet

We also hear another popular quote that says, “ Grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” But today I came across a beautiful piece that’s aligned in its spirits to the above quotes, but exhorts us to value what we already have rather than yearn for more or better. The piece says:

You terrible job is the dream of the unemployed.

Your house is the dream of the homeless.

Your smile is the dream of the depressed.

Your money is the dream of the poor.

Your health is the dream of the sick

And I add from my side:

Your child is the dream of childless

Your friends are the dream of a loner.

Your car is the dream of a traveller using Mumbai local.

Your simple monotonous food is the dream of hungry.

And I invite my readers to further add to this list so that henceforth we all count our blessings rather than yearn for more or better. This is so true in the current pandemic times, when all people like us locked inside our homes without worrying for basic requirements are really blessed looking to the suffering of all those who need to earn daily to eat!

Third wave

Other day as part of the press briefing, scientific advisor to Government of India opined that going by the present trend, third wave of Corona virus could not be ruled out. More seriously, the third wave could be primarily targeting children. I also read somewhere that authorities are preparing for the third wave by readying ICU facilities for children. This has completely shattered my peace of mind.

How do you save children from this evil? Apart from their natural immunity, it’s very difficult, virtually impossible to enforce any dos of Covid protocol on them. Children don’t understand social distancing, refuse to wear masks and touch all sort of things with their hands! They also would find it very difficult to immediately discern symptoms of Covid such as loss of smell and taste and shall keep on playing till their body refuses to take it any further! Under the circumstances, the prospects of Covid third wave are most horrendous!

If the people of the world unite, they can achieve any mission. Two world wars have been fought so far, the last of which was almost 80 years ago. The threat of Third World War, which will not be traditional but atomic has loomed large, but the prospects of total obliteration of the world as a consequence has played an important deterrent and good sense has prevailed over the powers of the world to obviate such an eventuality. Third wave of Covid is no less harmful, especially if its going to be several times more infectious, lethal and targeting our children. We should all unite to immediately work towards vaccinating the entire world population, including children. Pfizer’s, Modernas, Astra Zenecas should share their technology with other pharma companies so that pace of manufacturing vaccines can be accelerated and further improvement can be made, including manufacturing of broader spectrum vaccines covering all mutants and vaccines for infants and children. Governments can compensate these patent holders through alternate means but the need of the hour is to make these vaccines generic for mass production and coverage of maximum population.

If we resolve, we can do it. For a moment, all differences should be set aside and we should all work with one point agenda of eradicating Covid and ensuring that there’s no third wave!

Sequels are welcomed for super movies

For a super evil like Corona , let the second be the last !

There’s no one else like Ma

In our school days, we used to celebrate Independence and Republic days with our Principal unfurling the national flag and we being given small packets of sweetmeats. Coinciding with the birthday of our scholarly President Dr S Radhakrishnan, we started celebrating Teachers Day. Of course, the birthday of our first Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru is celebrated as children’s day all over the country.

As we grew older, the trend of celebrating Valentine’s Day started, but as I light heartedly lamented in one of my earlier blogs, by the time the trend of celebrating this romantic day took roots, we had outgrown that age by becoming settled professionals.

And now if you look at the social media and Internet, probably each calendar day of the year is dedicated to some cause or event. There’s environment day, brother day, Father’s Day and whole lot of other miscellaneous days. But how can we have Mother’s Day, when to my mind all 365 days of the year are Mother’s Days only. Yes but there’s one difference ! While for a mother 365 days and 24 hours of each day are dedicated to her children, probably children may require a day to remember their mothers. They are chasing careers, material objects, higher status in society, life abroad et al and in the process may forget to check on the well being of mothers; but mothers never forget their children. These successful careerists would be aspiring to lead mega corporations, but mothers are still worried about these children’s diet, rest, tension etc!

As someone put it very succinctly in the context of our relationship with our mothers-

Yeh hamara farz nahin

Hamara karz hai

The above is loosely translatable as:

We are not duty bound to our mothers

We owe our lives to our mothers!

While the above is a very deep thought and requires an aptitude of a great poet, which I am not, yet in my own humble way I pay my tribute to mothers in the following manner :

We are social animals and have friends and relations galore

But while asleep in mothers lap there’s no requirement of anything more

When something hits us, it hurts us badly

But it hurts our mothers much more, sadly

Because God couldn’t come in person to each one of us

He gave us mothers to be with each one of us

Temple, mosques and churches have gods to whom we go

Yet mothers are at home a fact that we all ought to know

Career, salary, status are all transient

In this world only mother’s love is permanent!

Happy Mother’s Day.

Irony

It’s such an irony

Our atmosphere is full of oxygen
But our friends and families are dying for oxygen!

People know Corona can be defeated through vaccination
In spite of luxury of two in-house manufacturers, where’s vaccination?

We have an advanced pharma industry
Yet Remedesivir production eludes this industry

Covid facilities were wound up for want of patients
Hospitals are now sending back patients

People want to work to earn money
Yet they are forced to sit at home and earn no money

Crematorium and burial ground are full of bodies
And no one knows how to dispose of so many bodies

Blame game is going on everywhere
It’s helping none, as Corona is spreading everywhere

Children are away from their parents
Parents miss children they being parents

Everyone wonders when shall this pandemic end
Hopefully it will be a new beginning after its end !

God is merciful

Came across a beautiful post on social media today. In short, a group of 15 soldiers led by a major was on its way to a forward post under extremely cold conditions where the group was to relieve the existing squad and hold the position for the next 3 months. It was falling snow and one of the members desired a cup of tea. All others endorsed this desire, but the problem was it was not possible to get tea in such harsh conditions unless they reached their post, which was still a good few kilometres far. The group then saw a dilapidated shanty that looked like a tea stall. They were all excited, but their excitement was short lived as on reaching the spot they found the shanty to be locked. Someone suggested to break open the lock, but the Major reprimanded them saying they were not a band of thugs but soldiers. However, the craving for a cup of tea was so overpowering that the Major reluctantly gave them permission to break open the lock. Luckily, the group found everything required for making tea inside the shanty and packet of biscuit was like an icing on the cake. The tea was like nectar of gods and completely satiated the group. The soldiers then decided to resume their journey. However, before leaving, the Major took a few thousand rupees from his wallet and kept the wad under sugar container for owner to pocket it on his return.

After completing three months, it was time for the group to return and it took the same route. It came across the same shanty but this time the owner was there. Tea stall owner, an old man. was happy to see 15 customers at a time and served the group piping hot tea. When asked about his tea stall in such a harsh terrain, he said that he was extremely grateful to the God for his mercy. Soldiers were surprised and questioned him further on the reason for his such strong belief in God when he seemed to be living in extreme poverty in such a harsh terrain. He said that about 3 months back, a group of terrorists attacked his only son for some information that he didn’t have and injured him grievously. He took his son to the hospital where a demand for big sum of money was placed on him for treatment. He came back to village but no one would lend him a penny for the fear of reprisal by terrorists. Crestfallen, he returned to his shanty only to observe the front lock open. As he reluctantly went inside, he found a big wad of money amounting to thousand of rupees kept under the sugar container. This reiterated his faith in almighty who not only broke his shanty’s lock but helped him with money. Of course, with all this money, his son was treated, who came back home hale and hearty. Soldiers looked at each other but their Major’s stern eyes were very clear – no one was to utter any word to break the old man’s faith in the god almighty!

This is a beautiful story and reestablishes the long standing faith that God’s largesse and mercy is bestowed upon humans through fellow humans only. The post ends with a recommendation that each one us should do one good thing each day for weak and downtrodden, so that no one ever loses faith in the god almighty and his sense of justice.

This is very relevant during the current Corona times when several ordinary people have emerged as daily life heroes – Sonu Sood, Pyare Khan and so many who are supplying foods and essentials to Corona victims and other needy people who have lost their jobs and livelihoods. Let’s support our servants, maids, drivers , gardeners, messengers etc even if they are unable to come and give duty!

This is the true religion much above any ritual or practice as it introduces the needy to the mercy of God.

What a tragic change!

India has large population and its towns and cities are very densely populated. As a consequence, even local transportation in these towns and cities is crowded. When a pandemic as infectious as Corona first struck India, controlling it was always going to be a challenge for the aforesaid reasons. However, the Nation responded with utmost obedience, though many sections of the society, especially the migrant labourers, suffered a lot. People stayed indoors, maintained social distancing to the extent possible ( avoided social gatherings and parties) and dutifully wore mask. Though India had large number of cases, but the rate per million was lower than several advanced nations and deaths were fewer indeed. Doctors seemed to have come to grips with virus, Covid treatment facilities were created and India was amongst the few nations to be working on two vaccines – one fully indigenous and the other under licence from Astra Zeneca. The entire world lauded India’s handling of the pandemic. In fact many countries, including US, sought India’s support for drugs ( Hydroxyl chloroquine) and medical personnel.

And then we as a nation decided to celebrate our victory over Corona, albeit a bit prematurely. While the lockdown was lifted in phases, people threw caution to winds as if there was no tomorrow ! They flocked to malls, restaurants and started partying hard! But I think it started with Holi celebrations. The way it was celebrated in its traditional strongholds of Mathura, Vrindavan and Varanasi demonstrated as if people were deprived of playing this festival of colours for ages. Holi was still one day, but the way crowded election rallies happened in 4 states and 1 UT, the same proved to be the final nail in the coffin! Thousands of people thronged to election rallies and Corona protocol went for a toss! This was not all ! Kumbh snan clearly proved that in spite of fatalistic essence of Corona, religion in our country was still paramount!

And look at the outcome of all the above! It’s a crisis unprecedented! India is suddenly making new records of daily infections ( already touching 4 L per day) and deaths ( 3500+ each day). Medical facilities have crumbled, essential drugs vanished from the market, oxygen is in severe short supply and crematoriums and burial grounds are out of capacity leading to queuing up of dead bodies for funeral !

Once a country at the top of Corona, India today looks a hapless victim with international community rushing essential drugs, oxygen plants and other materials! The vaccine maker is unable to vaccinate its population and looking at importing vaccines to fulfil demand. Suddenly a country extending help to the world has become a recipient of the world’s aid and sympathy.

I have no clue as to how this pandemic will be controlled and when it will end? More important concern is that how many families will lose their nears and dears by that time!

Let’s look skywards for salvation!

Life and death

Popular characters from Charles Schulz cartoon strip, Peanuts, Charlie Brown tells his companion, Snoopy, the cute dog, “ Some day we will all die, Snoopy.” In response, Snoopy says, “ True. But on all the other days, we will not.”

Narayan Dhabadkar, an 85 year old senior citizen undergoing Covid treatment in a Nagpur Hospital couldn’t see plight of a lady begging hospital authorities for a bed for her husband who was in a critical state. Mr Dhabadkar got up from his bed and requested hospital authorities to allot his bed to the lady’s husband. When the doctors reminded him of his own critical position, he said, “ At 85 years, I have lived my life. This lady’s husband is much younger and needs to live.” The senior citizen expired at his residence three days later, but in his death he taught all of us the lesson of life.

Snoopy’s statement in Peanuts and the news item on the senior citizen have really changed my perspective of life. We all have to die one day, but on all the other days, we should learn to live life and savour each moment that we breathe. Mr Dhabadkar has taught us about the worth of our lives, where the quality and purpose of existence matter rather than the length.

Covid wave 2 has depressed us. Lives are falling like 9 pins. Lives that can be saved are not being saved for lack of oxygen, hospital beds and life saving drugs. Death seems to be so close – it’s either knocking at our doors or that on the doors if our nears and dears. Under the circumstances, Snoopy’s take on life and Mr Dhabadkar’s courage are great learning to be imbibed.

One plus one is not two but eleven

Shankar Jaikishan or SJ as they were called were the first duo to set up a partnership and together composed hit music for Hindi movies, dominating the scene for more than two decades. Jaikishan died inn1971. Shankar continued to do work under SJ’s name and gave some hit music in movies like Sanyasi and Beimaan. But the lost glory was never regained.

Kalyanji Anandji were the next music director Jodi to hit big time. Real brothers, they had the penchant for creating popular music and duo also ruled the charts for more than two decades but the elder brother Kalyanji expired in 2000. Of course they had reduced their work and passed the baton to the next generation, Viju Shah, but death of Kalyanji was the end of musical journey for the duo.

The next pair to hit big time and surpass the senior duos in the volume and popularity of work was Laxmikant Pyarelal ( LP). They were soloists who played in SJ’s and KA’s orchestra, but later on formed team to churn out hit album after hit. Laxmikant’s demise in 1998 was the end of this pair’s work life.

Nadeem Shravan ruled the roost in 1990s and Nadeem, embroiled in Gulshan Kumar’s murder conspiracy, fled to London and that marked the end of the professional work by the duo.

There’s an interesting book by Raju Bhartan in which he has listed out songs composed by Shankar and those by Jaikishan. The duo were two distinct entities yet one. They never claimed superiority over one another or put their individualistic stamp on particular songs, though the world at large always tried to ascertain this fact. In case of KA, such stories are not heard though for LP, I think it’s an open fact that Laxmikant composed tunes while Pyarelal arranged the music.

The gist of the message that this blog wants to convey is that in any pair, it’s the teamwork and that one partner completes the team with another and not compete. The relationship is complementary in which the partners cover up each other and complement each other’s strength rather than outwitting or outsmarting other. In most of the Indian households, man is the earning member and woman is homemaker and they complete the union and not fall into useless discussion of superiority of any of the partners.

It’s incidental that Laxmikant, Kalyanji and Jaikishan expired ( Nadeem fled) and the surviving partners called it a day. The result wouldn’t have been different if different set had survived.

This applies to any team – from two to any number – from music duos to husband wife to cricket team to office team!

Lesson for youngsters

Forget millennials, I consider even the generation immediately succeeding my generation, which are those born in early 70s and thereafter to be truly blessed. I will quote a few facts in support of my statement.

(1) My paternal grandfather was born in 1890s and he witnessed both the world wars and even worst the partition of this country.

(2) My father,born in 1928, just about remembered the effect of Second World War but had vivid memories of partition of India as he was dislocated from Lahore and had to start afresh in Delhi. This always bothered him.

(3) My elder brother, born in 1956, has vague memories of 1962 China war but clearly remembers 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan.

(4) I , born in 1962 , have very faint memories of 1965 war ( only thing I remember is blackouts when we had to switch off all lights and had to do a drill of hiding under the table) , but slightly more clear idea of Bangladesh war.

Of course all those alive in 70s would also remember state of emergency declared in 1975 which was another difficult period for the country. Operation blue star and riots post demolition of Babri Masjid were other significant happenings and the last significant event of the last century was Kargil war in 1999.

Therefore, I first mentioned millennials though even immediate generation after my generation should also consider itself lucky as though aforesaid tragedies of 80s and 90s were major and serious, but they were not global in that sense.

In fact, this generation has not faced what my generation faced – very poor local transport, severe power cuts and water shortage, waiting period for everything – from scooter to car to colour TV, shortage of essentials and queues at ration shops, very poor communication ( telephone line at residence sometimes required booking as long as 3 years) and very low economic prosperity ( property ownership was mainly inherited, cars were unthinkable and symbolic of ultra rich and foreign travel – are you joking – my father never owned a passport) !

Internet, telecom, automobile, banking sector, consumer revolutions have changed the game to such an extent that it would require a separate blog on how I phone and BMW are no longer symbols of affluence and travel to any place other than Singapore or Dubai at least is a strict passé!

But amongst all this economic prosperity and other developments at break neck pace came Corona virus that has levelled the playing field for younger generation and millennials to what our previous generation was witness to ! It is declared to be worst happening since the world war 2, much worse than Bengal famine , Pak China wars or plague attack!

It’s time to sit back and learn what we refused to learn from our elders in our mad race to acquire material wealth!

Second wave

I was happy to have received first dose of vaccine. Number of cases were falling with each passing day. Frequency of going to office was expected to be increased from 2 days in a week to 3 days. We had started planning our much pending visit to Johannesburg in May /June. And then all of a sudden the second wave of Covid struck from nowhere. Unfortunately, it made the commercial capital of the country its first victim again and daily infections started going up from 2000 to 8000 and panic was set in. Worse, this wave seemed to be more contagious, spreading more rapidly and what used to take 7 to 10 days to affect the lung happened in 2-3 days. Mortality rate started mounting.

As I write this blog, Maharashtra government has already promulgated lockdown. Delhi government is having weekend curfew and several other, hitherto “safe” states- UP, HP, Odisha, WB – are staring at pandemic !

I think it was alright till Holi though enthusiasm of the people in the traditional strongholds of Mathura and Vrindavan seemed a little misplaced. Elections in 4 states and UT of Puducherry were fought as if there was no next day and someone had to meet his or her Waterloo in these elections itself. Leaders exhorted people openly who responded with same gusto albeit without wearing masks or maintaining social distancing ! And Shahi sanan at Kumbh and onset of Ramadan and Hindu new year festivities have only compounded the misery.

Scenes of migrant labourers returning to their natives and commercial establishments downing their shutters are heart rending. Economy had barely started recovering and job scenarios had just started improving when this second wave came to be a spoilsport.

If the entire business establishments have turned to virtual, can’t electioneering be virtual in these pandemic times? In the name of faith, can people expose the entire humanity to the risk of pandemic? Hospitals are overflowing with patients and there is serious shortage of beds and ventilators at some centres. Remedesivir is in short supply and being sold in black market in certain places.

Corona warriors are tired and getting infected themselves. Health infrastructure is creaking. It’s a very grim scenario and unless we all become Corona warriors- strictly observe Corona protocols, avoid going out without purpose, help affected folks and contribute generously – this battle will hurt very deeply. Celebrations and elections will come and go but to savour them we need to exist!