Truth shall prevail

We are in a age where information is available in abundance and Google is the new guru- a sort of encyclopaedia that knows everything. Gone are the days when information required multiple visits to libraries to dig out the required data or facts.

But I personally feel that we are all rather inadequately or ill informed about the various happenings around us!

Let’s check the facts around currently the hottest event- Russia – Ukraine war. Why is this war happening, who’s winning, what are the losses and gains for the two warring nations, what’s preventing a ceasefire or truce – different sources will give you different information, which are in fact not the reality but perspective!

How about the Covid pandemic that threw our life out of gear for more than last 2 years? How did it start, was it natural or synthetic, how many people died, why is it mutating so fast, how effective is the vaccination, shall we require booster doses ad Infinitum- check any guru for comprehensive answer to any of the above questions!

And this information ( or should we call it disinformation) is not restricted to the aforesaid worldwide mega events? What happened to Sushant Singh, did he commit suicide or was he murdered, what happened to the purported drug mafia – NAB had summoned virtually half the Bollywood?

And there are issues by dimes and dozens that rock the nation or state or city by becoming the headlines or breaking news for a few days and then vanish into oblivion! Where is that crop of investigative journalists who would painstakingly go into the depth of the matter to unravel the truth? Or is it then we are too busy to wait for truth to emerge and look for instant gratification through cheesy gossip?

Unless, we learn the truth, we should restrict ourselves from forming firm opinions. Let’s keep our minds open for processing different views and perspectives without treating any of them as real fact. And hope that truth shall ultimately prevail!

Holi Day

It just struck me that the day on which the festival of colour and gaiety Holi falls, is also a very holy day linked to some great stories in our scriptures and above all a holiday too! These three connotations of the same sounding three words inspired me to say my Holi wishes in the form of a short poem that reads as under:

In our busy daily routines,

With tensions and worries galore;

A holiday brings us relief and pleasure,

And it becomes a day to adore !

But a few days like today are even more special,

Being a holy day, Holi day and a holiday

The joy and happiness then becomes triple,

To celebrate with colour and wishing our worries away!

Happy Holi to you and your friends and

Holi brings hope

There’s something beautiful about our festivals. Howsoever bleak be the scenario, our festivals do the job of removing the darkness, bringing hope and lifting our spirits. And this is more so for Holi, the name itself being synonymous with joy, happiness and celebration. Keeping both the above things in mind, the current negativity around us and the uplifting spirit of Holi, I have penned a few lines that read:

Happy Holi

Who says Covid is gone and dead?

We may choose to throw caution to wind;

Fourth wave seems to be raising its ugly head!

Vaccination, social distancing and mask are being used in war with Covid,

Missiles, rockets and Bombs are causing destruction in Ukraine;

Both countries are claiming righteousness, God only knows, who’s Goliath and who’s David! 

Everything seems dark and bleak,

Inflation is making life difficult for everyone;

Price of all the commodities is at the peak! 

In such a grim scenario, full of hardship and grief,

One doesn’t know what to do; 

To get over this and get some relief?

But the God is very generous and kind,

In comes Holi, the festival of colour and happiness amongst all this war and Covid;

To spread love to humanity and divert their mind! 

Happy Holi to all ! 

Next door kirana shop

In the recent past, there was news of boycott of the products of FMCG majors, mainly HUL, by the provision stores next door. Their demand was to maintain parity between them and superstores such as D’Mart.

I am sure that these mega companies like HUL and P&G have their finger on the pulse of the market and that they need no advice from an amateur like me, but it’s a reality that known brands get sold as preferred products at these kirana stores rather than at supermarkets. In a supermarket, the products compete with each other as they are all displayed together on a shelf. Whatever consumer behaviour I have studied, including my own, consumers go for the most lucrative deal. If Cinthol pack says 3+1 free, consumers may like to pick it up in preference to say a Lux or Mysore Sandal. This applies ditto to other categories of products viz toothpastes, detergents, talcum powders, deodorants, cleaning materials etc.. However, when a customer goes to a nearby kirana store, in all likelihood he will ask for a brand that he always uses or has recently used or the brand with highest recall value. Consumer is likely to ask for Lux, Surf, Colgate, Lifebuoy rather than other not so “ readily etched in mind” brands.

We all see end of the road for these next door kirana shops not only due to competition from supermarkets, but e tailers and other D2C companies as well ! I myself have predicted end of the road for them unless they revamp their business. But given our inherent nature and requirements, especially our propensity to remember an essential item at the last moment, these stores seem to be going to remain relevant for at least sometime to come and FMCG majors should reassess their importance in their business model .

Writing on the wall

Change is happening faster than we can ever imagine. While transition from tape recorder to cassette player might have taken decades and from cassette to CD, probably at least one decade. CD to DVD to pen drive to pods and finally to music apps has happened at breakneck pace. Similarly transition from rotary phones to buttons system might have taken decades but look at the mobile technology and it’s pace of change. This applies to virtually everything around us. The way we used to do shopping, banking, film viewing, traveling is different today from what we were doing just a few years back.

When we look at the hindsight, we always wonder that why those who were so badly affected by change could not read the writing on the wall? Where are the TV manufacturers ( Televista, JK, Texla, Crown etc), music equipment makers ( Murphy, Thomson etc), bulb makers ( Sylvania), car manufacturers ( Ambassador, Standard, Premier) today?

The fact is that change is happening all the time around us, but we fail to notice it, being preoccupied in our day to day routine! I can clearly see writing on the wall for petrol/ diesel run cars and two wheelers ( e vehicles are catching up and other technologies are also at work), petrol pumps ( we already have huge requirement of CNG stations and very soon we will need e charging points), coal based energy producers, tutorials and coaching centres, kirana shops, electrical/ electronic repairing shops, tailors, cobblers etc. We must brace for these changes that are going to happen sooner than we can think and accordingly, re-skill the large swathes of population to obviate redundancy.

Use and throw

I was a film aficionado. Not only I watched many movies, I would know about everything about the movies released week after week- their star cast, directors, music directors, lyricist and even the names of those handling technical aspects – director of photography, editor etc. It was same about sports. Cricket I would follow like a maniac, following 5 days test match ball by ball. I would not only know the names of all the players but also their statistics. And leave apart our players, I would even be familiar with the team members of all the official test playing teams. I knew about hockey teams – all the players of India and Pakistan and a few stars of other strong teams such as Holland and Germany. In tennis, I had full information on 20 top men seeds and 10 top women. I followed local football and Mohan Bagan was my favourite team. I kept a tab on the latest developments in almost all the sports as also athletics.

Today, every movie has 2 to 5 music directors , each composing one song. After my favourites Lata, Rafi, Kishore, Asha, Mukesh receded, I was still following first Shabbir Kumar, Mohammad Aziz, Alka, Anuradha, Kavita, Kumar Shanu, Abhijit and later Udit, and Sonu, but I haven’t really followed Arijit’s rise to stardom. And if you ask me, I will not be able to identify any male or female voice today, leave apart music director or lyricist. I don’t even remember when I last saw a Bollywood movie in theatre! In any case, most of the films survive based on the response during the first weekend, immediately going into oblivion thereafter!

As regards sports, though world championships or olympics may still hold my attention, but if you ask me about cricket test matches, I may not know much beyond the result! Hockey and other sports are only strictly on need to know basis on the eve of a major tournament. Tennis I will not be able to recall many names beyond big three and women probably none after Williams sisters!

We have always heard that change should be for the better and it has to be progressive, but in my case it’s becoming regressive! I think it’s probably due to an overdose of everything – number of cricket matches in all forms that we have today, number of players that get capped and dropped, short shelf life – that has led to quick mortality of the durability of these aspects!

It’s all akin to the use and throw culture of today. If your mobile phone or TV or Fridge or any appliance has conked off, it’s better to replace it then go for repairs. Similarly, longevity of any big event or achievement is short lived. Records get broken very fast and it’s difficult to keep abreast of all these fast changing realities. You just have to enjoy the moment – a cricketing victory, a new song, a new movie – and then throw it out of the system to ingest the next thing .

Bridge #WordPrompt

Bridge is a unique word in many ways. A physical bridge connects the two ends of a river or any other water body or any terrain that’s required to be crossed without physical contact, but by having multiple qualities, one can bridge a gap without any physical construct. For example Shakespeare bridged a gap by being a novelist and a poet! But then you also build a non-physical bridge by taking a friendly initiative. For example Prime Minister of India is trying to build a bridge between the warring nations of Russia and Ukraine by initiating a dialogue. And how about a game of contract bridge, a popular card game that needs lot of strategising! And as a banker, I have so many times sanctioned a bridge loan to a customer who’s in need of interim finance pending finalisation of long term financing options! And boxers sometimes prefer to get their nose bridge removed to prevent serious injuries or bleeding during a boxing bout, while a dentist actually puts a bridge inside the mouth to align irregular teeth! And all of us must have heard about bridge in billiards, a nautical bridge in ships, a musical bridge, a chemical bridge between atoms in a molecule et al ! And while you may have very long bridges in the world, the word abridged actually means absolutely the reverse! It means to shorten something ! To end this with a Limerick:

Attempting to explain the meanings

And connotations of the word bridge

I went on and with its various usages

Till I ended up with an epic, requiring to be abridged!

No cliches – women are equal to men

Gender equality is a cliche,

Women empowerment is a cliche;

Equal job opportunities is a cliche,

Even freedom to women to dress is a cliche;

Respecting women for they are mothers, sisters and daughters is a big cliche,

Assigning value to the job of home maker is even a bigger cliche;

Every daughter born is Laxmi is a cliche,

Girls should study medicine is a cliche;

Deciding their marriageable age is cliche,

Sharing investment details with one’s wife is a cliche!

Why are these cliches and what not is a cliche?

All the above lead to discrimination ,

Let’s now stop this recrimination;

A woman is equal to man in all respects,

Let’s stop looking for their negative aspects ;

For even if they are born slightly physically inferior ,

God has given woman an ability that makes her far superior ;

While the man can only fight, lose, destroy or kill,

Woman creates and that’s her God given skill!

Happy woman’s day ! By avoiding the cliches in our daily lives, we can make each day a woman’s day and a happy one at that!

Two cricketing geniuses – two consecutive deaths

Australia in particular and cricketing world at large lost two icons on two consecutive days. First was Rodney Marsh, the iconic Australian wicket keeper, who formed the deadliest combination with fast bowler Dennis Lillee. Marsh had 95 victims behind the stumps while keeping wickets for Lillee’s bowling. He had a career record of 355 victims while keeping the wickets that exactly matched with Lillee’s count of 355 wickets in test matches! Some coincidence this considering the two contemporaries.

The next day, the master of leg spin bowling, whose wizardry and craft took leg spin bowling to new heights, Shane Warne died suddenly at his beach house in Thailand, hours after writing obituary of his senior colleague Rod Marsh. At 52, Shane had no age to die, especially reckoning the fact that till few years back, he was actively playing in IPL and had taken his IPL team, Rajasthan Royals to new heights.

I come from an era when probably there was one cricketing series in one year, if not less. Players would take years to create landmarks such as 200 wickets, 5000 runs or 100 stumping/catches behind the wicket. For years, Bedi’s 266 wickets was a record for India, till first Kapil and then Anil Kumble broke it. Kapil, in fact, bettered Sir Richard Hadlee’s record! What I mean to say here is that for a bowler, 400 test wickets was big landmark, but the troika of spinners from three countries – Kumble, Warne and Muralitharan- created unbelievable record by taking 619, 708 and 800 wickets respectively.

And what makes Warne stand out is that he came from a country that was mainly known for its fast bowling, where the bouncy wickets supported pacers and where the team did not have a reserved slot for a spinner. In contrast, Murali and Kumble came for the subcontinent that had produced so many iconic spinners and where pitches helped slow bowling!

And Warne had a boyish charm about him! From dating Elizabeth Hurley to falling head over heels in love with his eventual wife, who left him after his adultery was exposed, he always hogged the limelight. But that couldn’t take the sheen off his mesmerising bowling that comprised several unique events like the magic first ball that spun from outside the leg stump to uproot Gatting’s middle stump or the bowl that spun more than 6 feet, if I remember correctly.

Wish Shane could have lived a few more years and imparted his knowledge of leg spin bowling to more youngsters so that the cricketing world could see the magic on the field by more Warnes!

Rest in peace both the greats – Rod and Shane!

Save this world o lord

A fellow blogger, whom I follow and who, in turn, follows me has penned a very heart rending poem on the war and its utility. With the current Russian- Ukrainian war wreaking havoc, more so on innocent citizenry, especially of Ukraine, the situation is quite grim. India faces additional challenge of extricating large number of Indian students studying in Ukrainian institutions.

Under the circumstances, I also feel distressed and I think verse is a natural outcome of an aggrieved heart. My lines read as below:

Why the peace is at perpetual threat

On this our Mother Earth?

The issue may be any

But is a war of any worth?

Nations could be big or small

And not each one has the same muscle power

But are we living in a primitive world

Where might is right seems to be the only order

And who wins the war?

There are only losers

For destruction spares none

Neither the defenders nor the aggressors!

When everything else fails

And peacekeeper to the world appears toothless

We can only look skywards

For miracle happens only with his kindness!