Friendship and Smiles – Sibling Friends May 8, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging, Friends , add a comment
We are brothers from another mother, in other words Sibling Friends. We have been friends for so long that most people we meet and interact with were born after we became friends. Yaarian, is the right word in Punjabi to define this bond. We are there when needed most or least and in between the two events.
These smiles are all about tons of years lived together, making life happen. As the luck would have it, Kapil’s son is away from home, studies in Holland, Yogesh’s daughter is away from home and studies in Germany and my daughter is away from home and studies in the US. Yogesh and Kapil have one kid with them too. Best part is all our kids rock together, some day we will make a band and all eleven of us would perform together.
Best part about these moments is sitting with legs crossed on the couch and slowly sipping that one pint of beer which refuses to finish ;). You get most comfort when you have least inhibitions and that is what childhood friendships deliver, day in and day out.
When we smile together, blessings from Buddha can’t be far behind.
Mother’s Day 2016 May 8, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging , add a comment
This photograph is only a few months younger than me. I am the one whom mother dear is feeding and Veer is the one who is looking towards the camera. I don’t remember these old sofas of Kartar Cottage, but I have some faint recall that it was a big hall, last time I went to Kartar Cottage was when I was all of 6 years old. This post is not Kartar Cottage but this about Mom dear and the connect is style. Mom was stylish for her times, my memories are of her always adorning immaculately pleated saris, two gold bangles, one kara and one “Swiss Made” watch, of course she wore spects as an accessory, as can be seen in this picture. Memories do fade and many have… here are a few which define me.
- Mummy spreading a bed cover on carpet and doing path with Veer and Dad and I sitting and listening, it was done a few times every year.
- Mom, Dad going for morning and evening/post dinner walk and having paan, once in a while
- World’s best Chowmin Maker in early 70s.
- World’s best cake baker in early 70s, that round Bajaj oven and its large glass window.
- World’s best grape juice maker and grape preserve maker.
- Wold’s best Fruit Custard maker – Brown & Polsen and Weikfields had a great loyalist in her.
- That draping of Saree and the hair knot around back of her net. That hair net and numerous hairpins to ensure that even one strand doesn’t fly around.
- World’s best Alloo Paranthas.
- Making Parshadas for the Gurdwara Langar
More to come…
Random Posts on the Art of Giving and Sharing May 8, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging , add a comment
Cut and paste from my debate with Sharad on FB on this subject.
Sharad: Power is something which is most difficult thing to give up, be it money power, physical power, power of position or power one has acquired in any other form. We pretend not to use that but we never give up and lend up using the same whenever we feel or gets scared that someone else is taking away that power from us even though that may not be the situation.
Simar: I disagree with you, I think it is not about power, but it is about “Art of Giving” – if you are into giving, you would “give” everything purposefully and in a process oriented manner. If you are not into “giving” you’ve a “possession” mindset and fundamentally flawed DNA, you won’t be able to just do it, you would’ve to work very hard to achieve the same. There is a lot which has been written in our scriptures about “Giving”, whether it is power or it is money, or it is knowledge. There are imperfections and shortcomings. Raja Dashrat had when he went ahead and gave three boons and boom it was when one of his wife Kaitki wanted the same to be honored. Moral, never “Give” without thinking what it can be. We all know about Dronacharya and his fee for giving, that is yet another example of “mis-giving”. Every day around us we see hundreds of such failed attempts at giving. Giving doesn’t work, if it doesn’t come from within. I believe all parents should initiate their kids and keep encouraging them to learn and earn to Give. Thank you smile emoticon
Sharad: Sir you are trying to correlate the two things which are not even remotely connected. You may disagree with me but your disagreement should not be supported by something which doesn’t hold good in that context. As far as giving is also concerned, first of all we should come out of that notion that we give anything to anyone as we never give but God get us to give to the person his due share. Further there is one more saying that even your right hand shouldn’t be aware of what your left hand is sharing not giving. Thirdly there is no art of giving but there should be an art of sharing as giving in itself is a wrong word which reflects some sort of proud feeling. Anything which we do with a feeling of proud can’t be a right reflection. Further Raja Dashrat, Dhronacharya, Pitamaha Bhishm were all narrow minded people who always cared for themselves and their close one ignoring the welfare of other people at large. So they have not given anything to the society. There is no failed attempt of giving. You are just sharing what is due to them. How they are utilizing the same it’s their prerogative, thought or karma. I believe that all Parents should coined the word sharing in the minds of their kids and encourage them to share as giving word itself makes you feel proud or superior or more capable of the person you are giving.
Simar: I am not trying to correlate anything, they are related. My disagreement has concrete facts built in. To me there is no Mr. God sitting up there, God is in the deed and it is in your deeds. it is not Mr. god who tells us what to do, it is our soul with its leanings and learning which guides us in how we conduct our life. Sharing happens when you give, you have to give to share, without your giving how can you share, come on Sharad. LoL. Yes, Art of Sharing is a good thought too and yes Art of Sharing is about keeping some of it with you. Art of giving is keeping nothing of that with you. You have one slice of bread, you break it in two, you share. You have a 100 Rupee note, you ‘give” in toto you give. There is a fine line on how many slices of bread does one have and how many Rs 100 notes one has, but giving and sharing work in tandem. I don’t think talking about mythology, Dashrat did not give anything – I think he did, he did give his three wives to be impregnated by Vishnu for the larger good of the world, because, it was vishnu’s human avatar which could have only killed Ravana and other Rakshas. So he did give. Dhronacharya did give knowledge and Bhishm Pitamha did give his life to celibacy and soul to “kidnapping” Gandhari to be married to his nephew. So they all gave. I agree Sharing is important to be taught, I am glad we were brought up on that thought and we have tried to bring Mishti on that too.
Sharad: Sir don’t try to bring the discussion to a narrow end. There is no Mr God sitting outside but definitely there is some Mr X sitting somewhere in the form of energy and a reflection of that energy sits inside in the form of soul. You are again trying to deviate from the broader objective of the word sharing. Giving comes when you give something to someone out of your own share but as per me whatever you are giving was not yours at point of time. This was the share of that person which was kept with you in your custody by so called Mr X, which you have now given or shared with that person. In the beginning you have mentioned that there is no God and towards the end you are talking about Lord Vishnu and all those. Sir be clear in your thoughts. It’s good that you are brought up with the thought of sharing and you are upbringing Mishti with the same thought. Again I would mention here that it should be a thought with all of us on continuos basis and not as and when we feel so.
Simar: Sir Ji, I am very clear in my thoughts. I am sure there is no Mr. god and no Mr. X. And as for reference to Lord Vishnu, please read the word mythology before sharing the thought. It was in continuation with that these three individuals didn’t give anything, so I was telling you what i thought about it smile emoticon We all get mesmerized by coincidences, yes sometimes they are as mystical as they are magical, but then there is no Mr X or Mr God getting that going. I also love to say, it was ordained while hugging a friend I meet suddenly and am mightily pleased. That is said as a life extender and conversation extender, it is not said in reference to MR God or Mr. X. Accepting presence of Mr God and Mr. X are humbling words, they are like having pain killers, putting responsibility of something gone wrong or right moderates its impact. I agree giving and sharing have to be in your conscious mind always. You must give/ share as and when you identify/encounter a need and it should be part of your “dincharya”/ daily routine, not that – one fine day I will share and give, that is ridiculous.
Random Posts on Islamic Nations and Muslims May 3, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging, Islam , add a comment
These are essentially cut and paste from my FB discussions. They may get a shape as proper articles, they may not. Here they are, as of now, the way they were written, almost.
- That is indeed very tragic. Staying on course, between 4 to 5 million German’s were killed, majorly at the behest of France, which is now “sister-country” to Germany and anywhere between 2 to 3 million in Japan at the behest of the US which is now a partner in progress with special status. Yes if France and Germany can come together and the US and Japan can come together, what is stopping India and Pakistan. They came together and their economies benefited. India and Pakistan continue buying 10s of billions of dollars of arms from western powers and keep their economy growing and Indo-Pak people impoverished. PPP per-capita income of both India and Pakistan are in the range of USD 5,000 +/- 10%. Pakistan below 5 and India above. If 20we just stop burning our money within 20 years both India and Pakistan would be around USD 30,000 per-capita. Unfortunately good economics is bad politics in the Indian-subcontinent.
- Bring in any qualifiers, Rajan, facts would remain facts…. I suggest you read about 1,000 – 1,500 articles on Countries with majority Muslim population, go beyond Indian Subcontinent, focus on North Asian countries, Central African countries and Indonesia smile.
- Question? Which country which has more than 50 percent of population has equal religious rights and freedoms for Minorities and Minorities have blossomed.
Answer: Have you heard of Indonesia, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan? I can go on and on……
- What are the overall stats? Overall stats are that upwards almost 70% Muslims live in Secular world. If for us, world is only India-Pak-Bangladesh, too bad. World is much beyond Indian subcontinent. Even for the subcontinent 66% of Muslims live in countries which are secular. These are facts, my dear friend.
- What are we trying to prove here? Know that the number of Muslim majority countries which don’t have a State religion is more than those which have one. Know that Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world – 12-13% of World population and it doesn’t have Islam as an official religion? Know that Bangladesh was born as a Secular country and moved to become an Islamic Country but moved back to calling itself Secular, though it still maintains an official religion. Know that the Bangladeshi fundamentalists don’t differentiate between Hindu Secular and Muslim Secular, they kill both.
- Observation: I am not saying that all Muslims are such. Far from it. The issue is the extreme elements seem to dictate the rest of the community n no one can challenge them. Comment: Not true, there are millions who challenge them. For all we know, the way Bangladesh is challenging them, it may once again become a Secular country.How Kamaal Ata Turk handled them was exemplary and I am sure there would be more…. Islam Karimov is doing a great job and so are leaders of so many other countries, look at the way Bashar al Assad has taken it head on.
I just refreshed my knowledge, Bangladesh did become secular in 2010, but continues having Islam as national religion. There is a debate on to even remove that.
At some stage, this is goona be an article and an interesting map.
To The Taj and Back May 1, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging, City , 2comments
The Taj Mahal as I saw it was under restoration. It is almost off-white or yellow today and the “Multani Mitti” (Fuller’s Earth/ Bleaching Clay) is being used to restore or take us closest to its original color, milk-white. If the one minaret which is ready is the benchmark, I agree the Taj Mahal would be closest possible to what it would have been.
I had last visited Taj Mahal some 16-17 years back, in my recollection, it was much whiter and river Yamuna had more water. Probably now it gets almost 10x of people it use to get, so there are lot many restrictions today.
I have borrowed photograph from my friend & colleague Bill Spicer’s update on FB, Bill and I traveled in what was definitely above 45 degrees to see the Taj Mahal. It was a dream destination for him, and it is not that he travels to India for a living, at least not as of now.
We did “supersonic speed visit” – hired a guide, in this case Dilip Guide, who worked for his money and his tip. Dilip was adequately knowledgeable for a quick trip, but depth was 1/10 of a good article on internet. His knowledge was very functional. 7-10 spots, where to stop, where to talk, where to take pictures, all set before hand and reversed. We were quick and he made sure that he had Bill get the buck for his money, specially the “been there done that photographs”. We negotiated Rs 1,000/- for his guide trip, and Bill tipped him another 500, for good work. I am glad, I didn’t carry my camera, with camera I would have been very disappointed as I wouldn’t have taken even 5 photographs in the little time we had. I am sure, on a good sunny day in December, I will be back at the Taj for a dawn to dusk shoot. it would drain me and they don’t allow any food inside, but i think one can manage, if weather is not too bad and one is willing to buy a couple of entry tickets.
Heat definitely got better for us, we concluded that the only way to cool ourselves was to have a chilled beer, and we did, and it helped. I have heard people falling down in the Taj Complex due to heat, not being adequately hydrated leads to enormous sweating not getting compensated enough. This leads to blood getting thicker and making it more difficult for it to reach brain. Person passes out, falls on the ground, if he or she doesn’t break their head, blood starts flowing again due to fall, situation of TIA is handled, more life to live.
Almost everyone over-speeds on Yamuna Expressway, we didn’t. We were at 100 +-10, but it was nightmarish to see a 10 year old Hyundai Santro being pushed to do 120/130 plus. Too risky for the occupants and for all those on the road.
It is a toll road and there are no ATMs on or around the expressway. In 20 years, this Expressway would be completely done with, the amount of construction which has started coming on both sides, would ensure Noida-Agra would be a commercial/residential belt.
I think if they increase official speed to 150 and ensure that every other car which jumps is punished, this expressway would be safe.
Learning to write? Exclude a few words February 12, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging , add a comment
Writing is fun; if you are game for writing, start with preparing your exclusion lists – a list of things that you won’t use at all. Exclusion lists can change from time to time but you must define them before you get going. Exclusion lists tease your mind, challenge your abilities, and bring forth your latent vocabulary. They ensure each of your write-up is different from the previous one.
Heere is my exclusion list for my thoughts on learning to write. Awesome, wow, mind, holiday, rich, people, dream, top, best, good, bad, ugly, great, exciting, perfect, immediate, urgent, easy, tough, few, more, less, very, make, break, happy, and sad. These are ideas and words I shall not use.
Now with that sorted, here we go…
Learning to write is a fascinating way of presenting your thoughts to the world. Thoughts connect the soul with the body, thoughts are complex models that link numerous lines of specialized disciplines together. Human relations, Psychology, Mythology, Neurosciences, Philosophy, History, Geography, Biology and Cognitive Sciences connect together seamlessly and construct a thought. A purposeful writer is flexible enough to create a framework which makes a thought represent itself in its completeness.
Winston Churchill gifted this world with a plethora of powerful thoughts and his thoughts have survived a couple of generations now. On success, Churchill says, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”. Now this is a living thought. It is a motivating thought, one that doesn’t belittle. There is no celebration in it either. It defines direction. It encourages persistence and experimentation. It demonstrates movement. This thought, expressed in ten words, is the starting point of a writer’s journey.
Golden Temple Amritsar – Where Renovation Never Stops January 10, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging, Sikhism , add a comment
I have been visiting Darbar Sahib/ Harminder Sahib/ Golden Temple almost every year for over 30 years now. Two things have been consistent lines of devotes have been becoming longer and the renovation at the complex has never stopped. Over last 12 months or so the list of additions is mind blowing and character changing of the complex. 60 plus years old shops on the periphery of Darbar Sahib Complex are all gone. Hmm… it may not be right to say they are gone, maybe it is more appropriate to say that the periphery has moved by almost 50 meters and the shops are once again on the periphery.
Parking, Shops, Joraghar (Place for keeping shoes), parameter walls, Darshani Deori and all the open area between Darshani Deori and Akal Takht Sahib have had various changes. In one of the major changes Saropa and Patasa Parshad are now given at a cash counter in one of the rooms in Parikarma area. The langar complex is also changing a lot, it has become bigger with a defined waiting area. Two new guest houses have also come up. The biggest changes have happened from the Darshani Deori to the main Darbar Sahib Gurdwara. Starting from temporary structure over the walkway from Deori to the gates of Darbar Sahib, the roof has become permanent, though some would still call it temporary. it has lights fans and rows of vigilance cameras and LCD/LED roof mounted televisions sharing the Shabads being recited inside. Even the place for taking Jal has been transformed completely.
Toilet complexes are still a challenge and miles away from completion and good access.
30 years back by and large Parikarma and prayers use to take about 20 minutes on a regular day and an hour on a Gurpurab. Now it takes about two hours on a normal day and 4-5 hours on a Gurpurab day.
Is Saudi Arabia Israel’s Ally? January 3, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging , add a comment
Just asking, is Saudi Arabia an official Israeli ally now? Why would they go ahead and do precisely what would please Israel? The only country in the world with reason to celebrate if Iran gets into chaos is Israel. Israel has never been threatened by Saudi Arabia, it kind of has always believed that Saudis do exactly as the US wants and the US would always back Israel, so it works magically for them.
It has always been suspected that Israel and Saudi Arabia, though have no formal diplomatic relations, work in tandem when it comes to Iran. Is it the latest intelligence coordination example between them? Is it that Israel and Saudi Arabia once again felt that Iran’s influence is growing in the region, specially because of Russia playing a major role in Syria? On its own for Israel to hold back Iran is a big challenge but with behind the scenes coordination with Saudi Arabia, Israel has a chance of keeping Iran under check. After all the biggest winner of last 10 years of unrest in the middle east is Israel, let the Arabs and Shia-Sunni fight among themselves and let them just ensure that Palestinians don’t have a window of sympathy, simple strategy.
Iran has declared Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as a martyr and has threatened Israel of what they call “Divine Revenge”. If it is divine can it be a revenge? As per Iran Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was a peaceful cleric and his execution along with 40 plus others is an instigation with no parallel. Police in Iran delayed action to allow protesters to ransack and burn Saudi Embassy in Iran, of course it is delayed action. No police in the world can be this incompetent that an embassy can be brought down by protesters unless the protesters are supported by the State.
Next few weeks would be more about revenge and less about divinity in the Middle East theater and once again it is the US whose actions and inaction would be closely watched.
US Deports Indian Students January 3, 2016Posted by simarp in : Blogging , add a comment
It started as a trickle and has soon become a constant trickle with a gush once in a while and back to trickle. With each deportation over hundred dreams get smothered and innumerable nights become dark forever. Is it suddenly that the US has become vigilant? Is it only Hyderabad consulate which hasn’t been doing its due diligence right? Is it just two universities which are under some secret investigation and students who have been admitted to these universities are being deported back? What is going to happen to thousands who are already studying in these two universities, are they all going to come back? Why is the Ministry of External Affairs not issuing a statement? These and innumerable questions have dampened new year spirits in Hyderabad and have brought the spotlight on what all is broken in the American immigration system.
Student Visa is a multistage process, it takes at least an year from the time you make up your mind to study in the US, usually two years. There are a few tests mandatory and then you can apply for admission, after you get a provisional admission you request for an I-20 form and once you’ve your I-20 you apply for Visa. I-20 comes after the institute you are applying for has satisfied itself on your need, applicability, desire and paying capacity for the course. Student Visa is no guarantee for your citizenship of the US in a few years, but it is always seen as that. Is this the real reason? All of us have heard stories about visa interviews, in one of the stories a visa officer asked “what course you wish to do?” answer was “Computers”. Next question was “what do you wish to do in computers?” Answer was again “Computers” no wonder Visa was not granted. Is there something else which is happening? Why is Customs and Border Protection doubting Visas issued by their own sister department? Is there a competency issue or is it indicative of corruption at some quarters of the US establishment? Either of the cases are disastrous for the reputation of the US. But it is still happening.
A few weeks back there was a news that Air India off-boarded a few students at Hyderabad itself, is profiling important by the airline? Were they told to off-board? Is an airline expected to find out “fake students” who have not been identified by Visa officers? Looks like a tall order. Over 50,000 Visas were issued by Hyderabad consulate, around 100 have been stopped from leaving the country or deported, a very small number, if it stops at that. if the investigations reveal a bigger challenge then these students may not be allowed to comeback to the US or worse they may be identified and sent back from their respective colleges and classes.
It is time for Indian Government to take this matter seriously, we don’t want to wait for a few suicides for us to realize that this is a serious issue and an immediate remedy needs to be found.