While for others 58 may just be a number, for me it’s an important landmark as I complete 58 years of my existence in this World today. My grandfather retired when he completed 58 years and I, who was a very young boy at that time, wondered when I would complete my 58 years and retire like my grandpa, with nothing to do except rest and read! A few year laters, my father retired on attaining 58 years and I, who had just started his life as a professional, thought why had he retired so soon when he was still so fit.

Then somewhere down the line, the age of superannuation got increased to 60 years, but unlike the days of my grandfather and father, when physical stress was high ( my father used to cycle down to his office over a distance of 15 Km and used to earn meagre overtime by working well into wee hours of the morning)but mental stress was low, the game gradually started changing. While the calculators, computers, tablets, mobile phones reduced physical stress, the mental stress levels started rising and people started developing lifestyle ailments such as BP, Diabetes, Spondylitis and heart diseases. In fact, I sometimes consider myself lucky to have turned 58 and still working full time because many youngsters are having an accelerated rise to the top positions, becoming CEOs/CFOs in mid 40s and then burning themselves up to retire from full time work and pursuing hobbies.

And to top it up, we have a new phenomenon called Corona virus. I always thought that my generation was rather lucky – India hasn’t really faced a full fledged war since 1971, we have seen green revolution followed by technological revolution. After India opened up economy in 1991, we have seen unprecedented boom in consumerism. All in all, my generation seemed to have lived through golden period for mankind, till COVID changed the very way we lived all along! We are not sure whether we will be able to live our “normal” lives ever again?

I consider myself blessed and with so much love and affection showered upon me that started when the clock struck 12 and is still going on as clock readies itself to strike 12 again, what else can I ask for? If God almighty has held my hand for 58 years, I am sure it will handhold all of us out of this Corona crisis to where a great happiness and prosperity await all of us! I thank each one of my contacts, acquaintances, friends, readers, well wishers from the bottom of my heart for giving some meaning to my life.

Ramadan Eid in COVID

I distinctly remember having celebrated most colourless Holi of my life this year. Though our society had organised community celebration, including sumptuous food, the threat of Corona virus had started looming large on the horizon leading to advisory on avoiding crowded places and need for social distancing. Since then, all of us have been going through lockdowns of various degrees depending on whether we are in green, orange or red zones. We Mumbaikars continue to be under lockdown being in red zone.

What started with Holi is not likely to end with another community festival, Eid Al Fitr. Actually, the entire festival of Ramadan culminating into Eid is about community – assembling at mosques for namaz, breaking fast by eating Iftari in groups and celebrating the festival by greeting each other. However, thanks to COVID pandemic, the entire community has decided to celebrate this festival with restraint and by following COVID protocols. Muslim religious leaders have been exhorting their community members to stay at home and offer prayers/namaz from there itself. Many members of the community are cutting down on grandeur of celebration and instead doing charity by helping poor, downtrodden and hungry , a section most affected in the current pandemic.

I hope fervent prayers offered during Ramadan and Eid will lead to deliverance of mankind from the jaws of deadly pandemic.

عد کا رہتا ہے سبکو انتظار

عد لاتا ہے کھُشئون کی سوگات

آئے سب ملکُے رُعا لدینہ

کی دُنیا کو ملے کو رونا سے نجات

Everyone waits for Eid

For it brings happiness to mankind

Come let’s join hands and pray

That the world is relieved of COVID’s grind!!

Eid Mubarak!

Happy birthday God’s very own messenger

This is my second blog on Mahatria. I have not met him but thanks to a friend, who is Mahatria’s ardent follower, I am now beneficiary of Mahatria’s thoughts and messages, received every morning. These are simple messages holding a very deep meaning and those who have experienced his presence, I am told they have felt close to divinity.

Actually, this is a special ode to this messenger of God on his birthday. May God bestow his choicest blessings on his favourite son for people like him are required to show the way to the mankind in these dark hours of COVID pandemic. It’s impossible to find enough words to write his eulogy, but I hope this humble attempt of mine of composing a few lines as an ode to him are liked. My verse reads as;

Mahatria- God’s very own messenger

When the world seems to be nearing it’s end,

With COVID pandemic taking its grip;

The house of gods are all locked,

Only place to go is hospital for a drip.

There’s no vaccine and no cure,

People can do nothing but look at sky;

To search for elusive answers,

Of how this has happened and why?

But when the God seems far,

The messenger of Gods is there for us;

Mahatria is one such ray of hope,

In his simple words showing truth without fuss.

Our scriptures are complex,

In Sanskrit that’s hard to comprehend;

That’s why god has sent Mahatria as his messenger,

Who’s simple, selfless, genuine having no pretence!

May God make more of his ilk,

Who spread goodness and love amongst mankind;

Happy birthday Mahatria

For you are the one of the rare kind!!

I bow in obeisance.

COVID- From mere news to reality

In one of my earlier blogs, I had expressed similar sentiments about cancer. Day in day out, we hear people dying of cancer. The scene outside Tata Memorial Hospital can be heart rending with patients and their relatives all over there, camping on footpaths. Very recently only, two stalwarts of Bollywood- Irfan and Rishi Kapoor died on consecutive days after battling virulent strains of this deadly malaise. But all these were news or events, until this disease decided to make inroads into the family and my brother- in – law was detected with having metastatic cancer with origin unknown and no cure! It was only then that realty struck us and for last several months, we are facing this reality daily seeing him going a step closer to his life’s end.

Similarly, since its initiation in China late last year, COVID has been in news all over. It was still a news when Corona virus decided to infect other nations of European Union and USA. The situation got scarier when the first of Corona cases was observed in Kerala and then the virus came knocking at the doors of Mumbai. The lockdown, day curfew, work from home and Mumbai becoming a red hot zone of Corona virus all added to our fear and discomfort but were still news and events.

And then like the incident of cancer above, Corona made inroads when a close friend, who started feeling uneasy and feverish was diagnosed as COVID positive. She’s now under treatment in local hospital, battling it out all alone, as she’s living by herself in this megapolis. The news has now struck us like a bolt, rudely shaking us from the world of news and distant events into the world of harsh reality.

Knowing her inner strength, her perseverance, her zest for life and her optimistic view of the world in general, I have no doubt, she’ll emerge victorious in her fight with Corona virus and battle hardened after this, she will emerge even stronger, more positive, more optimistic and more distinctive.

While my friend will defeat and kill Corona virus, I wish all the well to hundreds of others- including migrant labours and under privileged section of the society that they all defeat Corona so that we as a nation can come out of its evil design and live our lives as we were doing till 2 months back.

From peerless to peer

Did he come like a storm or a whiff of fresh air? Difficult to say, but the fact is that he first appreciated the subject, then learnt it, then mastered it and by the time it was time for him to go to shoulder higher responsibilities, he had become like no one before him had been, including me, who apart from his boss was also his immediate predecessor.

If my tenure was good, his exceeded all superlatives. He brought about changes that were unthought of. He brought in technology and automation to an extent that we all thought would have been impossible! He was a tough task master – expecting nothing short of the best from his team. But he would also fight for their benefits and well being viz. promotions, increments, bonuses etc. Though initially thought to be a tough and difficult boss by his team, towards the end he won their awe, respect and admiration. Actually, there were stalwarts before him and there will be stalwarts after him , but he is acquired a cult status, almost becoming peerless.

Incidentally, from being a reportee, he now becomes my peer as we are going to be reporting to the same boss. As a wry humour, I would like to say that he has, in fact, become a loser – transiting from being a peerless to be a peer!

All the best Rahul! As you scale new heights of success, don’t forget an old man cheering for you from the sidelines!

An ode to Corona

As I have been maintaining that current lockdown and consignment to indoors is leaving me with no thought other than Corona. Number of Corona positive is going up and so are death numbers. The incessant lockdown is leading to several other problems such as labour migration, food shortage, job losses and psychological issues. Vaccination seems months, if not years, away and treatment for ailment is like wild stab, if it works, it works! Under such circumstances, there seems to be no hope of this pandemic to go any time soon.

The heart and mind are all focused and tainted by Corona. In all such conditions, the thing that obsesses one is deliverance from Corona and my few lines that read:

One thing that I now remember by heart is,

During the lockdown, stay in quarantine;

Dangerous Corona virus has no cure,

Save and except our own hydroxy chloroquine.

It’s killing people all over the world,

UK, USA, Italy and Spain are worst affected;

India is far too crowded for social distancing,

So despite our good intentions, we are getting impacted.

Coronavirus was known to be resistant,

But we thought it’d not survive Indian summer;

Temperatures are now high crossing 40 degrees,

But the virus seems to be only getting stronger!

Social Distancing and lockdown are not easy,

They are creating problems of their own;

People are losing job, income and food,

And is like something our lives have not known!

Our resolve and discipline can only save us,

From this devil of a virus called Corona;

Wear mask, wash hands and keep distance,

And it will be life as usual minus Corona!!!

Be it Doctors (treatment) or scientists (vaccination) or lord almighty (miracle), I bow to all of them for they give us hope!

COVID and alcohol

Guess who welcomed the Government’s decision to partially relax COVID lockdown! No one else but alcohol lovers! The way they took to roads and queued up at the wine shops was a scene to be seen to be believed. Suddenly, everyone seemed to be on the road, as if released from days of detention and rushing to the nearest wine shop as it was the most essential thing required for sustenance! As some one remarked sarcastically, “ India was not hungry; it was actually thirsty.”

Unfortunately, in India, there’s a stigma around alcohol. May be it’s something to do with the climate, because it’s definitely not our culture or heritage for our Gods have been depicted as relishing wine so very fondly called “Madira”. Or may be, we the Indians don’t not know how to behave after downing a couple of drinks. And the fact is that some of us do become little unpleasant and nasty after a few drinks. I have seen guests going wild in Punjabi weddings and people over indulging in binge when liquor is on the house.

All said and done, the above does not merit treatment of alcohol as an anathema. Because of exorbitant duty by Government, many people are unable to afford expensive IMFL and they frequently take to spurious liquor, hooch or inexpensive desi, all grave health risk to consumer. On top of it be it festival, elections or any other event, governments tend to stop sale of liquor by declaring dry days. There are governments that have totally banned sale of liquor in their states leading to sale of illegal liquor by bootleggers. I think all the above are populist measures; relaxing some of the draconian measures around sale and consumption of liquor can definitely remove that veil of mystery and taboo around it.

Like several other learning that we are trying to imbibe from the current Corona pandemic, the way people have reacted to relaxation in lockdown by thronging liquor shops should be dwelt upon in depth. In stead of ostracising drinking and drinkers, all this can be made much more graceful and easier and we may see people drinking and behaving more responsibly.

COVID has taught us so many lessons,

Social distancing, lockdown and isolation;

Let’s ease the sale and consumption of liquor in our country

For when lockdown was relaxed, liquor seemed to be a big consolation