Don’t worry – be happy

Disruption is the way of modern life and sometimes you are the cause of disruption and at others victim thereof! For example, Vodaphone-Idea combined caused disruption by merging and creating almost monopolistic position, but with Jio causing disruption through aggressive pricing, the size of behemoth impacted Voda Idea’s agility to react promptly making combined entity a victim!

A similar disruption has been caused by Ministry of road transaport and highways by making FASTags compulsory for all vehicles to avoid congestion at toll plazas. With the deadline approaching at a furious pace, the consumers panicked and the banks and fin techs offering these tags have got flooded with the requests for issuance of tags. The volumes have almost created a force majeure kind of situation with systems breakdown, shortage of inventory, technical issues and all possible perceivable and unforeseen problems! Plus the users are facing issue with recharge, invalid debit to their wallets, tags not working etc. One is at his wits end whether to focus on issuance or attend to customer queries and grievances.

The above activity is being handled by my colleague and his team and the developments of the past few weeks have ptotally disoriented them. For several weeks now, each Saturday and Sunday are working days for them and their night ends only in the wee hours of the morning. However, this friend of mine is bestowed with certain great qualities – he is ever optimistic, positive, hard working and above all happy! These qualities have helped him and his team see another day with a fervent hope that the worst is soon going to be over! He’s taking all the flak but is yet working with single minded devotion to bring the mess under full control and his team is supporting him to the hilt.

There’s a great learning here. The only way to tame a bull is to have him by his horns and that’s what this friend is doing. In the process, he is getting goaded and hurt, but not giving up till the dark clouds pave way for dawn! His happy demeanour is working like a grease removing all the friction – in relationships, temperaments and overall scenario! No wonder his very name is translatable in English as “Being Happy”!

Bye bye winters, welcome Sun

As the sun enters northern solstice, its time to bid adieu to winters. Suddenly days start becoming longer and warmer and farmers want to harvest their crops and thank Sun God for spreading warmth. And while Lohri is celebrated on the last day of Hindu month of Magh, entry of Sun into Capricorn heralds Makar Sankranti all over and more specifically Bihu and Pongal in Assam and Tamil Nadu respectively.

Lohri also has significance around the folklore of Dulha Bhatti, a daredevil warrior who saved the girls from being sold off to Middle East. His paean is sung by children called “Sundar Mundriye ho” asking for some tips to buy sweets on this festive occasion.

Whatever be the reason or style of celebration, it’s an important festival as it’s synonymous with optimism linked to warmth and sunshine after months of cold and murkiness.

May Sun shine in the lives of all of you bringing warmth, prosperity and happiness!

Monday Blues

Most of my life I have worked for 5 and a half days per week, Saturday being half working day. However, more often than not Saturday used to prove busiest for we ended up clearing most of the backlog and sundry work on Saturdays. Therefore, when my office decided on 5 working days a week, it brought unprecedented joy. Two days off on a trot appeared nothing short of heavenly. The management also thought that the staff would come totally refreshed and rejuvenated on Mondays after two days of rest and recreation. However, the novelty soon wore off and two days off every week became assimilated in the system and got taken for granted. On the contrary, if an emergency arose entailing working on Saturdays, it would be the most sinister thing! As a limerick goes:

Another blah Monday ahead.

I wish I could just stay in bed.

But life is not fair,

as you’re all well aware,

So I’m off to the workplace instead.

Now people are talking about four days week and work from home. As aforesaid, even 5 days week came much later towards the rear end of my professional career and I don’t think I’d live professionally to savour its further refined version – 4 days week and work from home – because I am soon getting consigned to a routine of 0 day week! But I think a feeling of last 55 years or so ( from 5 – start of school to 60 – superannuation from service) will not die any time too soon and after retirement also, I will sleep restlessly on Sunday night to get up with a groggy feeling on Monday morning, the difference being I can go back to sleep again, for Monday , and for that matter each of the 6 days of the week, would be new Sunday.

To wind up, let me say:

When the dark clouds disperse

Blue sky brings cheer;

And all the tiredness goes into air

As blue sea draws you near.

And most of the wardrobe is blue;

For all other colours suck

But blue is sober and everyone’s dear.

However one blue doesn’t bring joy but grief

When Monday comes after the weekend ever so brief!

My only wish is that for all my readers Monday Blues just remain a feeling and not a reality for all these years in spite of Monday blues, I have largely enjoyed going to office! Happy Monday to all of you!

Modi 1 and 2

Modi 1 started with a whiff of fresh air. First thing he said was that he would review all the major infrastructure projects- roads, power, ports- and would restart and expedite all the shelved and delayed projects respectively. He undertook surprise visits to ministries, hospitals, public places etc to check punctuality, cleanliness and working atmosphere. He brought in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code that was to change the way banking sector would deal with defaults forever. Even demonetisation and GST were well intentioned, though their implementation could have been better. Above all, Clean India” or Swachch Bharat” campaign was started that changed the very thought process of the country on the need to maintain hygiene and cleanliness.On foreign front, India gained unprecedented recognition and emerged as a significant international player. Pakistan was cut to size and sent strong message through surgical strikes and destruction of Balakot terror camps through a daredevil act by IAF. This led to the people of India backing Modi for the second stint.

What have been achievements of Modi 2.0 so far? Abrogation of articles 370 and 35 (a), Court’s verdict on Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid case ( not directly attributable to Modi), The Muslim Women (protection of rights on marriage ) Act that bans triple talaq in India (initiated during Modi 1.0) and CAA.

Modi 2.0 should become all encompassing, fully observing Raj Dharma working for the betterment of economy, prosperity of all sections and strata of society and development of the country. Kashmir will always be ours, government can always grant citizenship to anyone it desires and the electorate are always going to vote differently for state and national elections. United India will become stronger, division will weaken its roots! Our ancestors have lived together and peacefully – let’s continue with the tradition. If all the above happens, 1 or 2 will be mere numbers and we can keep on counting 3,4,5…..

Deepika Padukone- An Indian before anything else

What comes to your mind when the word Deepika is mentioned? Ethereal beauty, petite and svelte lady, grace personified, dignified, superstar, bundle of talent and in any case a celebrity par excellence? In fact she is all the above and much more!

She is arguably one of the most beautiful stars to have adorned Bollywood silver screen ever- right in the class of Madhubala and Madhuri. She has proven her mettle as an actor with some powerful performances, the most recent in Chhapaak being her best to date. She continues to reinvent herself with every movie and every character that she plays. She’s most sought after star, model and personality. Yet she’s very traditional. She was a good obedient and normal child in spite of cult status of her father- all time great India badminton exponent Prakash Padukone. She entered entertainment world on her own merits. She had regular flings and affairs like any normal girl, but she never trespassed the Laxman rekha and at the peak of her career she decided to tie knot with a man of her own choice. Unfortunately (sic), like any normal human being (albeit with a celebrity status) she also has an independent mind and guts to express her views!

JNU, alma mater of such prominent personalities as Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, current FM Nirmala Sitharaman, politicians Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat and several others who have made significant and path breaking contributions in their respective fields, is today being know only for “tukde tukde gang”! Anyone supporting the dastardly act of attack by masked hooligans on hapless students is being labelled anti national! People are going to such an extent that they are boycotting all the brands for which Deepika is a brand ambassador. One moron also termed her visit to JNU to empathise with their cause as a promotional gimmick for her new release!

We all agree that JNU should regain its position as an institution of academic excellence, its students must have an independent view without turning JNU into a place of political hot bed, vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous politicians. Overaged students with no academic goal but sole purpose to attain their political objectives should be packed off from the campus. But in a democratic and free country like India violence has no place and we all must have patience and largesse to imbibe all views and debate those issues that are contrary to our deeply etched beliefs. Nothing per se is wrong or right – everything is contextual.

Let’s celebrate Deepika’s freedom of expression by giving her a standing ovation and not only supporting Chhapaak but all her “good” future body of works! Please continue with Padukone legacy Deepika – your father won gold (world championship) for the country and you win a golden peacock (if not an Oscar) for your performance! May God bless with all the happiness and you in turn shower that on your beloved nation that’s badly in need of love and happiness!

Tufail Niazi

The other day someone forwarded on WhatsApp to me a clipping of an old live performance on PTV. The song was evergreen “tarak kar ke”. As I had heard the song in my childhood, this clipping brought back whole lot of memories. A little bit of research revealed that the artist was Tufail Niazi, the king of folk music. His repertoire includes such marquee songs as “sada chidiyan da Chamba” , ” main nahin jaana kheriyan de naal” apart from the evergreen “tarak karke”. These songs are popular on the either side of the border and are sung in Punjabi households during marriages and other functions.

Two things crossed my mind while writing on this subject. First is Tufail Niazi represented a breed of artists who had lived on the either side of the border, shared a common heritage and were loved equally ardently in both the countries. Like Dilip, Dev or Raj, all born in Peshawar in Pakistan, Tufail was born in Jalandhar and had performed all over India from Saharanpur to Jaipur to Kolkata before moving to Pakistan post partition. In his interviews he fondly recalled his association with so called Hindu centric activities such as managing a gau shala ( and actually publicising the need to treat cow as mother and not to abandon or slaughter her), taking parts in Ras Leelas, singing Krishna bhajans and performing nautanki. This clearly shows that for an artist only music is his religion and language. With the demise of almost every one of that era, this breed is on the verge of extinction and that much touted common heritage, music and performing arts that the two countries shared will be a thing of the past.

Second thought is that punjabi pop and punjabi influenced Bollywood songs that are heavy on rhythm are not true representatives of punjabi folk and it’s richness. It’s raagdari, gharana based singing , mellifluousness and richness would in no sense be less than Hindustani or Carnatic classical music that we aficionados of music hold in such high esteem while discounting punjabi songs as shallow and frivolous.

Tufail Niazi’s sons under the banner of Niazi brothers are carrying forward their late father’s rich legacy.

Winters of childhood

Northern and Eastern parts of India are experiencing unprecedented cold. Delhi recorded a maximum of 9 degrees centigrade, which was lowest in a century. This brought back the fond memories of my childhood spent in Delhi. Though this year might have broken a century old record, Delhi used to experience severe cold, especially during the period between Christmas and Republic Day. Mornings used to be foggy (pure crystal fog and not smog that we see today), days were murky with sun eluding for days altogether and nights freezing cold. Houses were not compact, heating was not very effective (mainly coal fired angeethis or sigris) and geysers were unheard of. Bathing was infrequent and body sponge with change of undergarments helped in keeping one clean. All these memories came alive when I recently read a piece in Urdu titled ” Bachpan ki sardiyan” or “Winters of childhood”. Though translation does not fully capture the finer nuances, I have tried to be as close to original as possible. It reads as under:

In winters in our childhood, geysers were unheard of and our Amma would heat water in a five litre ghee canister emptied after use of its content and give short bath ( munh haath) to all of us brothers and sisters. She would then put mustard oil in our hair, cold cream on our faces ( Neeli sheeshi wali cold cream – I think it’s Afghan Snow) and Vaseline ( he uses the word Pomade) on extremities to prevent dryness. Then she would dress up us in colourful jerseys. To outside world, we would like jokers but to mother, howsoever ugly her children may be, they always look cute and the best in the world. Today, we spent thousands on centralised heating, water heaters and geysers, costly and designer woollens, best of the food and diet, but the charm of the winters of childhood cannot be recreated .

Very simple, but touches the chords of the heart somehow! I hope it gives readers, most of whom are in Mumbai, a flavour what harsh winters of north are all about and how middle class dealt with it in the past.