Essence of marriage

The Kapil Sharma show is a light hearted comedy show mainly aimed at providing easy and slapstick entertainment to its viewers. However, sometimes inspiration for a blog can come from something as light and unserious as TKSS!

In today’s episode, two highly talented individuals and a made for each other couple, Renuka Shahane and Ashutosh Rana were guests. Kapil Sharma and his gang kept the mood light and humorous by their sheer timing. However, even in this light hearted banter, the depth of the thought process of Renuka and Ashutosh was obvious. Renuka, fondly remembered by her fans since her Surbhi days, left an indelible impression on the audience in her side role as Madhuri’s elder sister in all time favourite blockbuster Hum Aapke Hain Koun, while Ashutosh is an accomplished actor and a versatile writer and poet. Yet they are like chalk and cheese. She’s Mumbai bred urbanite from traditional Maharashtrian family, while Ashutosh is from small town who has made it big on the strength of his sheer talent and resolve.

While the episode of TKSS was replete with some super gems, expressed in jibe and humour , keeping in mind the mood of the show, one thing that especially struck me was the response to the question posed to them by Kapil on the married life. Question in itself was very light that why the girl friend and boy friend change after becoming wife and husband. While Renuka gave a very sweet reply that while the man eternally likes to play the part of a boy friend, the lady has to play so many roles – of wife, mother, daughter-in-law et al. But Ashutosh’s response was superb and probably a key to any happy marriage. He said, “ marriage is not about change, it’s about exchange.” I think this quotable quote embodies in it the very essence of a successful marriage. It’s refreshingly different from the much cliched view of the need for the girl to change after marriage to adapt to the new culture, way of living and lifestyle.

Hats off to this made for each other, progressive and talented real life couple having an equally successful reel life!

Current affairs

In my student days, I was quite good at general knowledge, especially current affairs. I used to spend lot of time reading newspaper and news magazines.

I think either my interest in current affairs is waning or simply I am not updating myself adequately. My readers are wondering what’s wrong with me and how I claim myself to ge a blogger strongly interested in the events happening around me?

And there’s reason for me to make the above statement. I am still stuck up in Covid pandemic! What’s so grave if India is almost touching 1 lakh fresh cases per day, may cross US as the nation having largest number of cases worldwide, vaccination seems still some distance away and world economy is in tatters? I am still concerned about Chinese aggressive posturing on LAC! With winters shortly setting in, the harsh Ladakh climate will test the mettle of our bravehearts? What then? Isn’t it part of their duty? What’s so serious about natural calamities? Don’t they strike mankind every now and then? I think I am not aligned to the nation, where the priority is not Corona, volatile Indian borders, unemployment et al ! You tune in to any news channel – there’s no mention of any of the above ? The most important national agenda currently is Sushant Rajput, Divya Salian, rave party, drugs, conspiracy theory, politicians, film stars, groups, lobbies, Kangana and so on !

It was unfortunate that two youngsters purportedly committed suicide. One jumped and other hanged himself. Two of them were connected in some way. There was relationship angle in the second suicide. And investigations are leading to new revelations.

Don’t we trust our law enforcement agencies and our judicial system to unravel the truth and bring accused to the table? Are these so called investigating reporters licensed to undertake media trial of all those connected with the case – accused, witnesses, related parties? Isn’t it a known fact that a truth is not a truth unless proven? Is there no other issue pressing enough to merit even oblique attention of these channels and media? Is film industry any different from other industries that it should be absolutely clean, meritorious and neutral? Weren’t some of those who reached the apex and became hearth throbs outsiders to the industry who earned their position on the strength of their talent and versatility? Has Bollywood embraced no outsider except those with the roots or connections in the industry?

It’s all highly exaggerated. As a nation, we are falling into this trap of saucy and sensational journalism where all the trials henceforth be happening on the news channels and impressions be formed, heroes eulogised and villains condemned even before law takes its own course!

Even if we don’t trust our administrators, we should not forget our teachings? Truth always prevails though justice at times can get delayed? But there’s a process and it can be a matter of life and death for an innocent and therefore there’s no room for conjecture and sensationalism. Drug is an evil- but addict is a victim and not a culprit! Lovers do fall apart, but if it leads to any partner ending life it’s tragic! Film industry is a glam business and some unscrupulous people do surreptitiously enter the industry and vitiate it! There is no omnibus rule. Let the law takes its course and justice be dispensed! Till then it’s just a case with new revelations and contradictions each day enroute the final destination of justice! Let’s worry about lives, safety, jobs, businesses, economy, external threat and above all freedom from Corona.

Covid – one more suffering

There’s a video clip doing rounds in social media in which a group of burglars is lamenting at the grave loss to their business as a consequence of the current Covid pandemic. They are shown complaining as everyone is talking about all businesses coming to a screeching halt but nobody is sympathising with them. As everyone is locked inside his or her home in the prevailing lockdown, where’s the opportunity for burglars to find an uninhabited home to break into for burglary?

While the video is made to humour the audiences, the fact is that an epic of this magnitude cannot be not making a deep social impact! We have many a times attributed the increased instances of crimes such as chain snatching, Eve teasing. Kidnapping etc to joblessness as youth without jobs are sometimes compelled to take unlawful activities when driven by the extreme circumstances. Of course, there’s no justifying such acts – no circumstance licenses a person to become a law unto himself, but society cannot be totally isolated from the evils of a sinking economy and it does cause misery, whatever it’s form may be.

This lockdown, of course, has forced people to stay indoors and increasingly indulge in e commerce. People have been ordering goods on line and making payments electronically, using mobile or internet banking or debit or credit card. This is leading to unprecedented increase in cyber crimes where a fraudster under the pretext of helping a person extracts personal details such as account or card details, PIN, OTP etc and then siphons off large sums of monies from the card or the account of innocent person. In fact, these are such cyber experts that they are able to take full control of the user’s device and then clean off balances in the account or card. Banks and the regulator are trying to educate public at large to be aware of these cyber fraudsters, but they sound so helpful, genuine, empathic and friendly that one ends up sharing all the details with these dangerous operators. And such cyber frauds are not restricted to financial loss; these operators are always on look out to find out ways and means to compromise your and mine personal details and misuse them in creating fake documents to be used for unlawful and unauthorised usage. In fact, physical crimes hurt us then and there; cyber crimes can hurt us deep and wide with long term consequences.

Let’s protect our hard earned money and hard earned reputation by ensuring not to fall into any kind of lure of short gains, unbelievable offers, money back, 48% return, crypto currency, befriending a glam doll or a rich guy, offer to work in foreign etc . Nothing good in this world comes easy and we should not fall for such easy offerings. And as nothing comes easy, it should not be allowed to go out easily!

Burglars are lamenting

For in lockdown there are no places to break into to commit theft

But where’s the respite for a commoner

Cyber fraudsters are weaning our money away making us bereft!

So to end this piece with my favourite catch line

Corona Corona go away

You have already come a long way

I first lost my freedom then health

And now you eating into my wealth!

Continue reading “Covid – one more suffering”

Miracles do happen

My readers know that I have written a lot on Covid pandemic. How it has been the biggest tragedy and disruption faced by mankind since the World War 2, the way it has impacted the way we lived our lives and the way we are going to live in future, new terminology associated with it such as lockdown, social distancing etc, plight of immigrants and the new normal, but as far as it’s impact on the global economy is concerned, I have generally been a little evasive in the absence of concrete figures. Now I have come across this article that first gives the size of the world economy in 2019, impact of Covid in the first two quarters of 2020 and its forecast for 2021. I found the impact to be much more severe than what was originally estimated and therefore, thought of sharing with my readers.

The above voronoi-style visualization relies on gross domestic product (GDP) data from the World Bank to paint a picture of the global economy—which crested to $87.8 trillion in 2019.

The United States continues to have the top GDP, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the world economy. China also continued to grow its share of global GDP, going from 15.9% to 16.3%.

Rank Country GDP % of Global GDP

1 🇺🇸 U.S. $21.4T 24.4%

2 🇨🇳 China $14.3T 16.3%

3 🇯🇵 Japan $5.1T 5.8%

4 🇩🇪 Germany $3.9T 4.4%

5 🇮🇳 India $2.9T 3.3%

6 🇬🇧 UK $2.8T 3.2%

7 🇫🇷 France $2.7T 3.1%

8 🇮🇹 Italy $2.0T 2.3%

9 🇧🇷 Brazil $1.8T 2.1%

10 🇨🇦 Canada $1.7T 2.0%

Top 10 Countries account for $58.7 trillion or 66.9% if the total.

According to the World Bank, the global economy could ultimately shrink 5.2% in 2020—the deepest cut since WWII.

See below for World Bank projections on GDP in 2020 for when the dust settles, as well as the subsequent potential for recovery in 2021.

Country/ Region / Economy Type 2020 Growth Projection 2021E Rebound Forecast
United States -6.1% 4.0%
Euro Area -9.1% 4.5%
Advanced economies -7.0% 3.9%
Emerging economies -2.5% 4.6%
East Asia and Pacific -0.5% 6.6%
Europe and Central Asia -4.7% 3.6%
Latin America and the Caribbean -7.2% 2.8%
Middle East and North Africa -4.2% 2.3%
South Asia -2.7% 2.8%
Sub-Saharan Africa -2.8% 3.1%
Global Growth -5.2% 4.2%
Source: World Bank Global Economic Prospects, released June 2020

The above figures are scary to say the least. A 5% plus shrinkage is apocalyptic and can hurt economies such as India very deep. Rebound in 2021 will much depend upon how soon the world gets rid of pandemic through either vaccination or cure – both looking slightly hazy and distant at present.

Let’s look heavenly and hope for a miracle! After all miracles do happen and there’s nothing very miraculous about a miracle happening when the mankind is facing its worst crisis in years.

Covid alert for the mankind

There has been a bit of to and fro on this issue whether Coronavirus originated from wet market or was it synthetic, that is , manufactured in a laboratory in Wuhan. However, there seems to be some credence to the latest claim by someone who has become quite popular after she chose to be a whistleblower on the issues relating to pandemic.

Dr Li-Meng Yan fled to the United States over safety concerns. Appearing on a show from a secret location, the virologist has claimed that she will soon publish her findings. Chinese virologist Dr Li-Meng Yan has claimed that the novel coronavirus was made in a government controlled laboratory in Wuhan and asserted that she has scientific proof to back the claim.

I am not going into the merits or demerits of the claim, nor do I have the qualification to validate the claim, which even the mightiest of the agencies have not been able to do. I have no love or respect for our northern neighbour given it’s expansionist motive. However, I doubt whether the world’s most populous nation will go to such an extreme as to unleash a mutated virus strain that affects almost the entire world and that it timed its spread around Chinese new year to ensure that travellers seed this virus in all the natives of the places they visit!

There are certain nations that have come in possession of nuclear weapons and they constantly flaunt their power! However, what’s several times more dangerous than the nuclear arsenal is chemical warfare. We heard that Iraq possessed chemical weapons, leading to US attack on the nation that resulted in the death of Saddam Hussain. Whether US forces found cache of chemical weapons is not known or at least publicly revealed, but what appears certainty is North Korea possessing chemical weapons. One of the Pakistani Ministers recently claimed to be in the possession of technology that would ensure that only non Muslims get killed when that nation unleashed its weapon power on India, though it was later clarified that this Minister was known for his “tongue in cheek” remarks not to be taken seriously.

Why Corona virus was synthesised in Wuhan lab? It’s like every nuclear power claiming to be using the nuclear technology for peaceful pursuits only. May be China was experimenting on some drug for human welfare but the controlled environment inside the Government lab was probably not safe enough. If one such contagious strain that probably was not aimed at causing destruction, has unleashed such savagery on mankind, what devastation can an arsenal of deadly nuclear and chemical weapons cause, I shudder to even think about it!

Like the entire world has come together to fight the pandemic and extended cooperation to each other, the world community must also come together to neutralise the very real prospects of a chemical or nuclear warfare, especially with some of the none too reliable nations and their regimes possessing this capability.

Corona pandemic is teaching a new lesson each day to the mankind. It’s up to us to imbibe these lessons and save our planet earth for our future generations.

Personal touch

My mother’s music teacher was a paan aficionado and it was my duty to go to the neighbourhood paan shop to get a paan filled with 90 number tobacco packed for him for a princely sum of 10 paise. I used to look forward to this daily duty, because the paanwala would give me a free paan filled with rose leaves paste ( gulakand).

For years, I travelled by local to my office and would pick up my daily copy of The Economic Times from a particular newspaper vendor. Did he give it for free or lower price? No rather I’d occasionally leave some change with him; I would go to him because he welcomed me with a smile and gave me my copy without I having to ask for it.

Travelling by DTC bus to office in the morning peak hours is a pain no less than the Mumbai local. Not for me though for I’d take a particular bus whose conductor would acknowledge my presence, leave his seat for me and was unbelievably courteous.

At the barber shop, I sometimes choose to wait even for an hour for a particular hair stylist to be free, for he receives me with a smile, knows my requirement and gives me a free 30 seconds of head massage.

Reliance retail, Amazon, Flipkart, D Mart can become billion dollar companies and drive the grocer next door out of business, but what they cannot provide is the personal touch! When someone receives you with a smile, understands your requirement without you having to tell him, be large hearted to let you sample a product before buying or give a small chocolate to the child accompanying you, these are typical examples of personal touch that’s so unique to our country. This is part of our basic philosophy of athiti devo bhava or a guest is god, customer being a guest for the seller, which is different from the relatively newer philosophy, “ customer is king”, which is followed by the large retailers and e trailers, by providing choice and competitive pricing under one roof.

Air conditioned comfort and so much to choose

Or Amazon’s sale and loot as much as you can loot;

Place order on your smart phone and receive goods sitting at home

To go searching for a thing in sun and dust, those times are gone

But I am a little old fashioned, personal touch matters to me

My free paan and personal touch I value, and rest doesn’t matter to me

Who else but you?

As it is, current pandemic times are being termed as one of the darkest periods after world war 2 and on top of it, if there’s an added dosage of negativity on the personal front, it’s like adding fuel to the fire.

However, as also mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, the divine has a way to provide solace even in the darkest of the times and there have been several friends and well wishers who have stood by us in these difficult times, inspiring me to composing a few lines to express my gratitude to all of you. It’s titled – “Who else but you!”

When the dark clouds hover over the sky

And the dark tunnel seems endless

Under such grim circumstances, the mind thinks of

Who else but you!

When driven against the wall

With no respite in sight

In such times of trouble, the mind visualises

Who else but you!

When the solitude becomes unbearable

And loneliness starts frightening

The only thing that calms the mind is

Who else but you!

It’s not that times are always grim and dark

And that there’s no happiness in life

Even when it’s time to celebrate, the heart thinks of

Who else but you!

Lucky are those

Who have people like you as fall back

Divine also operates through individuals such as

Who else but you!

If those times didn’t last

These will also fly away

And when the heart will yearn again to meet a dear one, it will be

Who else but you!

Hope you like the above this has come straight from my heart 🙏

Mumbai Meri Jaan

I am a born Delhiite, having spent my growing up years in Delhi. Mumbai always seemed fascinating from a distance as it was all along “Maya nagari” that was also the house of Bollywood, an industry selling dreams to millions of Indians.

It was much later in life that my first visit to Mumbai materialised. A short official visit, I was totally mesmerised by what I saw! Swanky red BEST buses plying in their lanes, shining metalled roads, traffic following lane discipline and a general openness about everything that were amiss in other parts of the country that I had been to. I immediately set my dream of coming to stay in this city one day. Little did I realise that not only my wish would get fulfilled, I would actually end up choosing the city to be my permanent home.

While it’s true for any megapolis of 20 Million plus people, Mumbai is like a cultural melting pot, which is much like pav bhaji, city’s favourite fast food. All of potatoes, tomatoes, beans, capsicum and host of other vegetables are used, but they all lose their individual identity when mixed in a melting point and what emerges a totally new stuff that has its unique identity called pav bhaji. Similarly in this cultural cauldron, Marathi, Tamilian, Kannadiga, Telugu, Malyali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bihari, Bengali, Oriya, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, male, female, atheist, non atheist and even foreigners melt and what emerges out of the pot is Mumbaikar, a unique individual who leaves behind all his/her prefixed notions, beliefs, dogmas to pursue the dream to fulfil which, he/she has made Mumbai one’s home.

We cannot be complaining about it’s creaking and badly needing an upgrade infrastructure or traffic on its roads, distances, housing problems, water logging et al, which are not unique to Mumbai but common to any megapolis that was not originally planned to inhabit such large populace. Similarly, maintenance of BEST fleet and its punctuality might have gone down, Metro network may not be at par with Delhi, Airport may be losing its numero uno position, the fact is that spirit of Mumbai and that uniqueness of Mumbaikar cannot dilute or dissipate. We do see some regressive actions once in a while, but these don’t have approval of the ordinary Mumbaikar, who is free spirited and who values this freedom that’s not accessible to the residents of many other cities of not only India but the world over !

Mumbai has remained a progressive city and should remain so in future too to show the right path to other cities and towns so that the progress is not confined to isolated pockets but to the entire country.

I love you Mumbai meri jaan!

My Anand

We saw him dying each day once we came to know that his cancer was untreatable as it’s origin was undetermined. We knew him as a reserved, shy and reticent person, but he was strong willed and there was no doubt about this quality of his. For most of the times, he took his terminal condition in his stride, which was, in any case, openly discussed realistically amongst his sisters, wife, children and mother.

But he had his weak moments when he clearly wanted to live and not die. He was especially attached to his collegiate daughter with whom he would once in a while share his “ Man ki baat”. So, he readily and willingly agreed to undergo extremely painful chemotherapy and radiation in spite of doctors clearly declaring his strain to be incurable. He underwent alternate therapies that came along with extremely restrictive food regimens. For months he gave up his favourite foods to be on the recommended diet.

And then as unlockdown started slowly, he went back to his native to wait for the inevitable. He deteriorated much faster than expected and after battling with cancer for close to 15 months, he succumbed during the auspicious Ganpati festival. Ganpati, also knows as vignaharta or remover of all vignas or obstacles or problems, whatever you may call them, bestowed deliverance upon him, ending his pain, misery and bodily life. The only solace in this entire agonising moment was the presence of all those who mattered to him by his death bed.

Anand by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and starring Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan in lead roles is one of my favourite movies. Here Anand, a last stage cancer patient comes to Mumbai to stay with Dr Bhaskar Banerjee on a common friend’s recommendation. And both of them are different like chalk and cheese – Anand is boisterous, friendly, outward types while Bhaskar is serious, silent and inward type. Anand, knowing full well that his end was just a few days away, tried to live life king size and in the process taught Bhaskar also the art of living life. Towards the end, of course, Anand develops a deep bonding with Bhaskar and doesn’t want to die! And the scene of Bhaskar’s disenchantment in his ability to save Anand is heart rending.

The protagonist in my Anand also comes to Mumbai for his treatment, knows that he only has a few days to live and faces all the realities with great strength and aplomb. Of course, he’s not open like Anand but reserved like Bhaskar, but nonetheless he has inner strength like Anand and zeal to live life just before dying.

Only difference is unlike Anand of celluloid who is a fictitious character, the protagonist of My Anand is a real life character, whom like Dr Bhaskar, I helplessly saw him dying each day but not before he taught me the meaning of life!

As they say good stories are those that come out of real life experiences. Hope my readers like My Anand.

Heart in hands

The woman in the picture with a smile is Salwa Hussein..! The woman without a heart 💔 in her body, a rare case in the world, as she carries her artificial heart in a bag. The British newspaper “Daily Mail” reported that Salwa Hussein, aged 39, is the only one who lives like this way in Britain. She is the mother of two children, the bag that carries her heart is in her lap, its always with her with a device with two batteries weighing 6.8 kg, which is an electric motor and a pump, The batteries push the air into a plastic bag in the patient’s chest through attached tubes, for blood circulation in her body😔 By God Grace all our personal problems and worries are nothing infront of her confidence and her SMILE.

While wishing Salma all the best for a long , happy and healthy life, the incident actually opens a floodgate of emotions and myths attached to various human organs. Image of heart in hand is associated with charity, whereas Salma actually has her heart in hands and there’s nothing charitable about it . It needs motors and battery to run it and pump and purify blood. Another feeling associated with heart is wearing heart on one’s sleeve, which is representative of a true romantic. We all must have heard of from the bottom of my heart, eat one’s heart out, have a heart, my heart bleeds, I have lost my heart to you, you stay in my heart, heart of gold, heart to heart talk, to know something by heart, pour your heart, with a heavy heart et al. So much romanticism, symbolism and glorification of an organ that’s vital to survive yet ugly to look at- like any other internal organ – gory, bloody, beating and ghastly- is more to do with human’s thought process and poetic leanings and nothing to do with anatomy or actual physical constitution.

Privileged are we who lose heart to our beloved, eat our heart out, have heart to heart chat, have a heart in adversity, have a bleeding heart on seeing human misery, pour our heart out to give vent to our emotions. For Salma, the challenge is to keep her heart in hand perform it’s basic functions non stop and take care that battery is always sufficiently charged and motor operates defect free. And if she can smile at the life, we, to whom heart offers so many other emotional options, should be celebrating each day with gratitude.

A true romantic wears heart on his sleeve,

Pouring one’s heart out reduces one’s peeve;

Eating heart out is a bliss,

We pray so that heart beat is never amiss;

Such a little organ and so many emotions,

Exercise and eat healthy so that heart never loses its motions!!