Laughter is the best medicine

This is a joke that I read years ago and have told it umpteen number of times in parties and get togethers, but it has never failed. It reads:

Three old men were travelling together in a train coupe. As the journey was long, they decided to break into a conversation. They thought what better than to introduce themselves to each other. The first one said, ” I am a banker, married, have three sons who all are doctors”. The second one said, ” Incidentally, I am a banker too, married, also have 3 sons who all are engineers.” The third one added with an element of surprise, ” This is a sheer coincidence! I am also a banker, married and having 3 sons who all are architects”. The fourth guy kept quiet. On being cajoled by other three, he finally ceded reluctantly and said, ” Unfortunately, I am not a banker. I am neither married, but I too have 3 sons, who are all bankers!”

The humour is subtle yet sharp at the same time. Another beauty of this joke is that it can be customised to suit the audience and hence its connect with them. Here the profession of the travellers, banking, is incidental as the readership of this blog is mainly the members of banking fraternity. The original joke is about the protagonists being Colonels.

Why I decided to blog this old favourite joke of mine? Because I was reminded of it suddenly when somebody forwarded another version of this timeless beauty that reads:

Four men were playing poker and having drinks in a club, when they started to break into a conversation. One of them excused himself for a quick visit to washroom, while other three started the chat. The first one said, ” I am really proud of my son; he passed out from Harvard, got absorbed by Google, has made rapid strides in the organisation. He has created so much fortune that recently he gifted a $ 10000 Rolex to his friend on friend’s birthday.” The second one said, ” Ditto me. My son is also brilliant, working for an MNC with large salary. He recently gave a birthday gift of diamond shirt studs worth $ 20000 to his friend.” The third one said, ” We all are lucky guys to have fathered brilliant sons as my son too is doing exceptionally well and he recently gave birthday gift in the form of a swanky car worth $ 40000 to his friend.” In the meantime, the fourth guy returned to the table, oblivious of what the three others had said. On being requested, he said, ” My son is gay, working part time in a night club.” A dead drop silence fell on the table with other three guys having a look of sympathy on their faces for the poor unfortunate. Taking a cue, he rushed to clarify, ” But I am proud of my son as on his recent birthday, he received a Rolex, diamond shirt studs and a swanky car from his friends.”

Nice subtle naughty humour that tickles the funny bone should provide much needed reprieve from the serious ground realities emanating out of Kashmir issue, economic slow down and worldwide trade issues.

Economic slowdown

There’s an unprecedented recession. Industrial production, demand, exports, rupee – all parameters are moving in unfavourable directions. Just read that Hero Motorcorp, the World’s largest two wheeler manufacturer , has come out with an Early Retirement Scheme and other auto majors are observing shut down of plants on pre agreed days. Even consumer durables giants such as Hindustan Unilever, Nestle and P&G are experiencing slow down, especially in rural markets. However, the root cause of this recessionary cycle – whether global, political or purely economic – is not really clear.

Some attribute it to the after effect of Demonetisation, while a few others feel that hurried implementation of GST is coming to haunt the country. A few attribute it to US China trade war, while there is a set that thinks that Government’s financial imprudence being responsible for the current imbroglio. Real reasons seems to be elusive, especially considering the following facts:

(1) Country has just elected a Government for the next 5 years with a very strong mandate;

(2) Rain gods have given water to the parched land in abundance and although the distribution has been uneven no food shortage or food inflation is anticipated;

(3) There has been no disincentive in particular to industry, including automobile, and the reason for recession seems to be mainly cyclical.

(4) Demonetisation and GST have happened sometime in the past and their impact should have petered off by now.

(5) Notwithstanding global recession, Indian boasts of large captive market and there is no visible change in the local demand pattern, save and expect some unique cases such as automobile.

Macroeconomic parameters seem to be fine and the current phase seems to be having more to do with sentiments rather than any real reason. The need of the hour for the businesses (large, medium and small), financial institutions (banks and NBFCs, ) and other intermediaries to develop inherent strength and resilience that sees them through cyclical phases of economy. Financial prudence will stand an organisation good under any scenario. Let’s not crib and discuss but work and create opportunities for a golden tomorrow.

Economic slowdown

There’s an unprecedented recession. Industrial production, demand, exports, rupee – all parameters are moving in unfavourable directions. Just read that Hero Motorcorp, the World’s largest two wheeler manufacturer , has come out with an Early Retirement Scheme and other auto majors are observing shut down of plants on pre agreed days. Even consumer durables giants such as Hindustan Unilever, Nestle and P&G are experiencing slow down, especially in rural markets. However, the root cause of this recessionary cycle – whether global, political or purely economic – is not really clear.

Some attribute it to the after effect of Demonetisation, while a few others feel that hurried implementation of GST is coming to haunt the country. A few attribute it to US China trade war, while there is a set that thinks that Government’s financial imprudence being responsible for the current imbroglio. Real reasons seems to be elusive, especially considering the following facts:

(1) Country has just elected a Government for the next 5 years with a very strong mandate;

(2) Rain gods have given water to the parched land in abundance and although the distribution has been uneven no food shortage or food inflation is anticipated;

(3) There has been no disincentive in particular to industry, including automobile, and the reason for recession seems to be mainly cyclical.

(4) Demonetisation and GST have happened sometime in the past and their impact should have petered off by now.

(5) Notwithstanding global recession, Indian boasts of large captive market and there is no visible change in the local demand pattern, save and expect some unique cases such as automobile.

Macroeconomic parameters seem to be fine and the current phase seems to be having more to do with sentiments rather than any real reason. The need of the hour for the businesses (large, medium and small), financial institutions (banks and NBFCs, ) and other intermediaries to develop inherent strength and resilience that sees them through cyclical phases of economy. Financial prudence will stand an organisation good under any scenario. Let’s not crib and discuss but work and create opportunities for a golden tomorrow.

World Hindi Day

( Beohar Rajendra Simha )

A blog in English on World Hindi Day may not be the best way to give tribute to our official language, but it’s nevertheless a way to acknowledge importance of Hindi in our day to day lives, whichever language we may be speaking in our homes or the language that we may be using at our work places. For that matter, I speak Punjabi at home and my official work is mostly in English. Also, the medium of my education throughout was English. Moreover, I write mostly in English and love Urdu poetry. Yet, there’s no denying the fact that Hindi is the common thread that binds Indians. Understood almost across the entire country as also amongst Indians spread worldwide, it’s imposition has been long resisted by Southern States, mainly Tamil Nadu. While Karnataka, Telangana and Seemandhra do not resist Hindi, Kerala, in fact, promotes Hindi and my experience is that it is very well accepted language there. However, Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu have always resisted, though with Chennai also becoming highly cosmopolitan and thanks to tourism for which, Tamil Nadu is a hot destination, Hindi is widely understood there too.

Historically, on the 50th birthday of Beohar Rajendra Simha on 14 September 1949, the efforts came to fruition following adoption of Hindi as an official language. To date, 14th September is celebrated as World Hindi Day.

Beyond the realm of politics, it’s a beautiful language having very rich literature. Premchand, Nirala, Neeraj, Bachchan, Dinkar, Renu etc. have made Hindi literature extremely rich and varied. My father worked as a Hindi translator for many many years in Ministry of Education and he loved the language.

Like any modern language, Hindi is progressive and flexible and has adopted several words from other languages – regional as well as international. In a large country like India, where every 50 miles dialect changes and 300 miles language changes, it’s alright not to have a national language and there need not be any politics around it. The fact is that you cannot separate Hindi from India and vice versa and this common thread, uniting Indians across the globe should be embraced and respected by all of us. Just a few lines that I came across somewhere that beautifully eulogises Hindi. There are:

जन-जन की भाषा है हिंदी

भारत की आशा है हिंदी…………
जिसने पूरे देश को जोड़े रखा है

वो मजबूत धागा है हिंदी ……………………

हिन्दुस्तान की गौरवगाथा है हिंदी

एकता की अनुपम परम्परा है हिंदी…………

जिसके गर्भ से रोज नई कोंपलें फूटती है

ऐसी कामधेनु धरा है हिंदी

Happy Hindi Day to all of you.

Chalk and cheese

Fine nuances are not unique to any language though world’s favourite language, English, is replete with such instances. Of course, there are so many words and their different usages that it may require one to do years of research to dig deeper. However, to put across the point on the subtleties of English language and it’s very fine nuances, I composed some sentences using similar sounding but differently spelled words.

(1) He gave his assent in a language laden with heavy accent that made me ascent to a different level.

(2) I couldn’t accede to his request to allow him to exceed his limits.

(3) It was great of the chef to grate extra cheese on the pizza to make it tastier.

(4) Descent of a decent person from the pedestal happened due to his dissent with the process.

(5) Don’t expect her to accept your gift blindly except for roses for she loves roses.

(6) It began to affect my health though after effect of medication was even more severe.

As aforesaid, to showcase all such possibilities existing in English language one may have to do extensive research. Thus dilemma is brought out beautifully in the following limerick that says:

Why the two words sound so similar?

That I get flummoxed though they sound familiar;

Why can’t they be different as chalk and cheese?

It will then be so easy to dig one’s teeth!

Self image & Overanalysing

This would have been my third experience of listening to the discourse by His Grace, Ramrupa Prabhuji, Head Priest ISKCON, Juhu. I was unlucky to miss this golden opportunity to enhance my personal value, but ever generous and gracious hosts , Vidhi and Sushil converted my misfortune into boon by sending me full recording of Prabhuji’s superb knowledge session. As always, he started with a beautiful story about a disciple who asked his guru that how come in spite of attending to so many of Guru’s discourses, he had learnt or retained nothing? Guru asked him to go and buy a bottle of liquor; disciple was shocked but he went ahead. Guru then asked him to take a swig repeatedly but ensure that not even a drop went down his throat! Disciple kept on taking swigs and spitting. When the bottle was finished, Guru asked disciple whether he was feeling drunk, which the disciple was not for he had not taken even a drop inside! The same happens when we hear a Guru’s sermon, but imbibe nothing. Prabhuji gave a very humorous connotation of ISKCON, applicable to many – Is Kaan (ISKCON) se suno or is kaan se bahar kar do!

His class or knowledge session covered two themes – (1) Self image and (2) Overanalysing

(1) Self image – Those with low self image need approval of others. This point was beautifully explained by Prabhuji by citing characters from Mahabharata most effectively. It was wonderfully explained that why Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Duryodhana and Karan had low self image, while Yudhishthira, Arjuna and Krishna had high self image. Prabhuji then explained as to how positivity and self confidence led to the high self image. As he quoted Vyas Dev’s quote in Sanskrit from Harivansh Puran, aptly explained in English:

If you want to avoid fight, stay quiet.

If you want to escape fear, remain awake in self realisation

If you want to avoid hunger and thirst work hard

If you want to get rid of all sins, chant Hare Krishna.

Difference between love and attachment is that love empowers you, attachment weakens you.

Those who came in contact with Prabhupada experienced love. “If you’re happy, I will be pleased,” Prabhupada told when his disciples asked him what they needed to appease him.

Attachment shapes one’s self image and mirrors desires to seek approval from others. Love shapes one’s self image and mirrors extreme self confidence and empowers one.

To sum up, unconditional love for people around us without seeking any return enhances one’s self image and listening to good thoughts by holy men or in the company of a Guru one attains this objective.

(2) Overanalysing

When Rama was told by Kaikeyi to go to forest for 14 years, Rama took it in his stride and he just smiled ready to obey. He didn’t overanalyse and accepted her diktat as a non negotiable reality.

When Arjuna went to Swarga to meet Indira, he saw Urvashi! Urvashi misconstrued Arjuna’s state to be his interest in her, though Arjuna was staring in wonder how the wife of his ancestor still looked so young ? As he viewed Urvashi as his mother-like, he rejected her offer to enjoy. On being rejected, she cursed him to become eunuch. He accepted curse of Urvashi as gift of life. He neither overanalysed Urvashi’s offer nor her curse.

4 ways to deal with people:

Apathy I don’t care

Sympathy I feel for you I don’t do anything

Empathy I feel for you share your suffering

Compassion- I see you see, your suffering and want to help

When we act with compassion, we act from our heart and avoid overanalysing.

I take it as a great blessing that time and again our neighbours and hosts provide the residents of our complex with this unique opportunity to hear Prabhuji’s pearls of wisdom that have so much relevance in our day to day lives. I exhort all the residents to benefit from these sessions the way I am reaping.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

We shall overcome

Chandrayan 2 is not a failed mission, but a moment of glory for a proud nation. Only triers succeed and our great scientists will make ISRO’s space quest a great success, the nation has no doubt. Overwhelmed by this entire episode, I have composed a few lines in the honour of this great effort. It’s called “Chandamama door nahin” (Moon is not far):

CHANDAMAMA DOOR NAHIN

When Armstrong landed on the moon,

India was still struggling to fulfil basic needs;

While the countries of the world improved their GDPs,

Reaching for the moon was still distant indeed.

But India’s aim was unambiguous and clear,

The basis needs were not to be forgotten;

Not at that cost of technological advancement,

But come what may, moon was to be begotten.

And Bhabhas , Kalams , Kasturis & Sivans the sharp minds,

Put their best foot forward with whatever they got;

Indigenously developed rocket technology to put satellites,

And they aspired to reach the moon one day, who thought?

And then that day came in all it’s glory,

From SHAR station Chandrayan took off to go there;

Not only to reach moon, where mankind had already reached,

But to the Lunar South Pole, no one had been to where!

Finally the journey commenced on July 22nd,

Days of hard work by scientists bearing fruit;

And Chandrayan cruised to the nation’s pride,

Crossings all its milestones as per schedule.

A nation in anticipation of a great event,

Was ready to go rapturous in celebration;

But the sudden loss of communication,

Changed elation into grief for the nation!

But why cry Sivan and company,

India is destined to go places;

Nation will always stand with its brilliant minds,

Chandrayan 3 will bring smile on our faces.

Salute to all the scientists led by K Sivan! Jai Hind