Voluntary Work.

I have had limited experience of volunteer work but those in which I was involved were highly satisfying except one where I had to quit as it was affecting my sanity.

The first exercise that I was involved in was way back in the mid seventies when I was a member of the local Lions Club and we launched a project to provide houses for poor workers with their own plots of land but, on which they could only build huts. I was given the responsibility to provide all the material for one such person who had inherited a small piece of land but did not have the wherewithal to build a house on it. I successfully completed the project by persuading building material suppliers to part with some materials and the recipient managed the labour himself. He is still in touch with me and his grand children now are successful professionals.

The next project that I was involved in was what we call shramdhaan here. It is a composite Sanskrit word containing two parts; shram meaning physical labour and dhaan meaning contribution. It was in the mid nineties after we had moved into our home where we now live. The neighbourhood had a plot of land earmarked for a park but the municipal authorities had not done anything to develop it. The local community association decided to plant a garden there and that is what happened with many residents contributing their labour to clear brush and plant flowering bushes and trees as well as laying down a walking / jogging path. Subsequently, the Municipal Corporation also contributed in various ways and today that park is among the best in Pune.


By the early part of this century, I had retired from business life and was a full time caregiver for my late wife who needed such care. A friend suggested that I become the Honorary Secretary of the local chapter of The Multiple Sclerosis Society Of India which had its office just about a hundred meters across the road from my residence. I did for a year and learnt a great deal about the disease, initiated many programmes for the patients and to raise funds. I also visited many patients to check on the utilisation of funds and other assistance provided to patients and came across instances of great heroism on the side of families of the patients and also the exact opposite of cruelty and neglect. The latter was the most heart breaking to see such human depravity and it finally drove me to quit in disgust. I was simply not able to handle the emotional drainage that such visits caused.

After that experience with MS, one of the local Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, we have quite a few of them, requested me to volunteer to mentor young entrepreneurs who it was funding to set up or expand existing businesses. I was given two mentees in the business that I had some knowledge of and I happily mentored both who, today are very successful businessmen and in regular touch with me. This gave me the greatest satisfaction of all the voluntary work that I have undertaken as, both are from the lowest economic and social strata and to help them navigate the world of banks, businesses, employees etc was simply amazing. If proof is needed that successful businessmen are not necessarily born but, can be made, these two bear that witness.

In the process of mentoring these two young men, I also got first hand experience of the seedy side of our local politics about which, the less said the better.

As my readers know, I have been a serious practitioner of Vipassana Meditation and apart from attending many ten day camps, I had also volunteered my services during camps for others and one such service camp was the most satisfying as I managed a group of totally blind young students who attended one such camp. That experience exposed me to the world of blind people like no amount of reading could have done.

My son and daughter in law are both deeply involved in animal welfare activities and their involvement spills over to my having to do something or the other too. My physical condition does not permit me to be more active though it gives me great satisfaction to see these two so committed and effective.

To sum up, I have had varied experiences but nothing on a life long basis. While I was involved, it was satisfying except towards the end of my stint with MS. I can’t think of getting involved in anything any more.

This is my contribution to this week’s 2 on 1 Friday blog post. Please go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same subject. Thank you.

Posted in Blogging, India, People, Relationships, Wikipedia | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

A New Addition To The Family.

Koko has been under foster care in a kennel run by Manjiree’s sister Vandana and her husband Bala. She is blind and as such has not found a home for herself.

Enter Manjiree and Ranjan.

Two days ago, while I was in my most relaxed and comfortable with my own devices, Ranjan quietly came next to me and asked if we could adopt another dog. He explained that Koko was blind and the volunteers were unable to find a home for her. I readily agreed and the result is here.

Koko.

Ranjan photobombing.

Will post more as time passes.

Posted in Family, Pets | Tagged | 21 Comments

Regrets.

“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”
~ Paulo Coelho.

Yes, I have regrets. There are things that I wish I had not done. Things that I should have done but did not. To balance those, there are many things that I am glad that I did. It’s all part of one’s life.  Having said all that, if there is one regret that I have that overwhelms me often is that I outlived my friend of 48 years who was my wife for forty of those.

And what better way to write about those things than to listen to Frank Sinatra sing My way. Yes, I too did it my way just as all of us did it in our own individual ways and now reflection come to the same conclusion as Sinatra does.

My Way
Frank Sinatra
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all, all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh no, no, not me
I did it my way
For what is man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
And did it my way

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about this topic. Thank you.

And to lighten up this post a bit a cartoon from a particular favourite combo of mine.

Posted in Blogging, Humor, Nostalgia, Relationships | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

The Great Divide.

The Independent’s headline ‘This is a battle of ideologies’: Divided Delhi goes to polls in penultimate phase of Indian election.

Time Magazine’s cover says, “India’s divider in Chief.

I just want to ask my British friends if when the British go to vote during the next election, the Independent will say “Divided Britain goes to vote. After all Britain today is divided by Brexiters, No Brexiters, No Deal Brexiters and others with other point of view as well as having many political parties with different points of view.

I also want to ask my American friends, if when they next vote, the Time magazine will say, “Divided USA goes to vote.” After all, they too have the Republican and Democratic parties plus various shades within like the Tea Partiers, The Socialists in each party as well.

What kind of arrogant journalism is this?

Posted in India, Language, Raves and Rants, Writing | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Absence.

If only she would allow me to photograph her when she looks like this, I would have taken a photograph of Chutki to show how much she misses Ranjan. This is exactly the expression that she has more or less constantly and no amount of cheering her up by Manjiree or me would change that. She is listless in ‘his’ absence.

Ranjan has gone to Bengaluru for a few days and till he returns on Tuesday afternoon, she is  unlikely to change her expression.

I suppose that if someone took my photograph now, I too will have a hangdog expression like that because, I too miss him. When he is here, I hardly get to talk to him as, he is busy with his own affairs but, I simply miss his presence in the house.

The less said the better about Manjiree. She too is moping around as though the heat is not enough to depress us.

All three of us are missing him. I shall post a photograph of Chutki after his return to show what a difference it makes to her life when he is around.

Posted in Pets, Relationships | Tagged | 10 Comments

Someday!

As soon as I laid my eyes on the topic suggested by Shackman for this week’s Friday 2 on 1 blog post where he and I write on the same topic, I could hear my late mother telling me innumerable times, “Someday, you will remember me / thank me for, telling you this.”

And as I was typing that first paragraph, I could also remember me saying exactly the same thing to innumerable people who had the misfortune of having to listen to my prophecies.

While I can indeed recollect many occasions when I did remember my late mother’s prophecies come true, I haven’t been lucky enough to hear any feedback from the recipients of my prophecies. I suppose that some unfortunates must have remembered, much to their chagrin.

I stopped being so prophetic some years ago when it struck me that I may not be around myself for too long to see the prophecies come true. Or, is it just that there are no more unfortunate souls having to put up with such a character who would have also loved to use another follow up phrase – “I told you so!”

Come to think of it, there have indeed been occasions when I had used both! Someday, I will take great pleasure in telling you I told you so!” I bet that Shackman and all my readers without exception would have no doubts in recognising all three usages either by their parent/s or themselves.

We are human after all and these must come naturally to us.

Someday, you will remember having read this post and remember me. I hope that I am around so that you can write to me to remind me of it. Then, I can tell you, “I told you so!”

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the topic. Thank you.

And as a treat, here is a song that I somehow got to like some years ago. The lyrics are simply mind blowing.

Ninety miles outside Chicago
Can’t stop driving
Don’t know why
So many questions
I need an answer
Two years later you’re still on my mind
What ever happened to Amelia Earhart
Who holds the stars up in the sky
Is true love once in a lifetime
Did the captain of the titanic cry
Someday we’ll know
If love can move a mountain
Someday we’ll know
Why the sky is blue
Someday we’ll know
Why I wasn’t meant for you
Does anybody know the way to Atlantis
Or what the wind says when she cries
I’m speeding by the place that I met you
For the ninety seventh time tonight
Someday we’ll know
If love can move a mountain
Someday we’ll know
Why the sky is blue
Someday we’ll know
Why I wasn’t meant for you
Someday we’ll know
Why Sampson loved Delilah
One day I’ll go
Dancing on the moon
Someday…

Posted in Blogging, Family, Humor, You Tube | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Comedy Of One Error.

Sequence of events.

1. An old colleague Amol, got in touch with me some time ago, thanks to Facebook. I accepted his request for friendship and as requested by him sent him my telephone number.

2. A few days later, he called me up and we caught up with each other’s stories. And as it often happens during such conversations, he wanted to know where so and so and so and so was and I gave him as much information as I could about those that I knew of. He asked about a particular colleague Shrikanth and I promised to find out about him and let Amol know.

3. I rang up another colleague in the South who was closer to Shrikanth than I was only to find that he too had lost contact with him but suggested that I call the Personnel department of the company to see if they had any records.

4. I called up the Personnel Department and requested for information and was promptly sent a phone number for Shrikanth.

5. I called that number only to discover that it was a different Shrikanth. This gentleman however promised to find out details about the Shrikanth that I was looking for. Just to keep track, I saved that phone number as “Wrong Shrikanth” as, I had three other Shrikanths in my list of contacts.

6. I received a phone call from this Shrikanth a few days later to give me the sad news that the Shrikanth that I was looking for had died a few years ago. The conversation however proceeded further with him wanting to get to know me better as he had heard about me from other seniors in the company where he had joined after I had left them. He promised to keep in touch and that was the end of the story.

7. Two days ago, I passed on the information to Amol who however claimed to have known this Shrikanth and wanted his telephone number. I promptly sent the same via WhatsApp through “Share Name Card” facility and forgot all about it.

8. I got a call from Shrikanth asking why I had made his first name as Wrong when it was Vanchinathan!

9. It took a great deal of tact to describe the entire sequence of events to V. Shrikanth. At the end of course, both of us had a good laugh.

Posted in Humor, Language | Leave a comment

Favourite Food.

Last week, I spent a very pleasant few hours with a young friend, KS who dropped in and stayed for lunch with us. As he was leaving he suggested that I come over to his place this week for another meeting and perhaps lunch at his home. I readily agreed and saw him off.

Later the same day, a cousin rang me up to chat and we were reminiscing about our respective mothers who were sisters. Among the discussions the topic veered to favourite food made by each other’s mother and I recollected a combination food that my aunt used to make called Thiruvadirai Kali and Ezhu Kari Kootu. . This is an unusual combination of one sweet dish accompanied by a savoury one. One has to eat the combination to appreciate the unusual experience one has with this combination.

I mentioned to my cousin that the last time that I had this particular combination was sometime around the late nineties of the last century. This combination is usually made only during that particular festival once a year but, my late mother used to make it specially for me whenever she visited us or I went wherever she was camping. My cousin promised to come over and cook it for me one of these days and we went on to talk about other matters.

It suddenly occurred to me that KS’s mother was visiting him and she would be able to perhaps come up with this combination and I asked him if he could persuade his mother to make it for me when I came over for lunch. He checked with his mother and confirmed that I would have it for lunch and fixed the date as today.

With much anticipation I trooped off to their place earlier today and lo and behold, the dishes plus a few other goodies had been prepared for the occasion and I had a feast. The LOH had taken a great deal of pains to make both the dishes to perfection and frankly, I over ate. To cap it all off she had also made a sweet dish with pumpkins which again was out of this world. I regretted having over eaten the main attraction and could not do justice to the dessert.

While I was busy eating and also enjoying the visuals of the lunch, KS took this photograph to save the occasion for posterity.

Posted in Family, Food, Friendship | Tagged | 18 Comments

Mobility.

Due to my present physical condition, I have restricted my movements to the bare minimum and physical /mental exercise to a regimen of about seventy five minutes of yogabhyas every morning.

I rarely leave my home for any outings and when I do, it is only to places where I know that I will not have to walk long distances or climb staircases. I usually take a taxi or an auto rickshaw to and fro destination. All my friends and family know about this and so do not mind my staying put in my comfort zone.

My comfort zone includes my bed where I read and sleep, a recliner where I read and occasionally watch a TV show, and a sofa near the window where I sit in the mornings and read newspapers and solve crossword puzzles. There is a also a plastic garden chair which I use to sit on and have my morning tea and watch the world go by.

So, when I read this cartoon, it resonated with me and I wanted to share it with my readers immediately.

Posted in Humor | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Unpleasant Encounters.

I came up with this topic for this week’s 2 on 1 Friday post as just last Friday, I was in a meeting where we discussed the law and order situation in many parts of India and discussed in length the phenomenon of “Encounter Deaths.”

Like in all such issues, there are two sides to the story and what is not mentioned in the news report is the gross understaffing of police forces throughout our nation and the long judicial processes that take for ever to punish criminals and even allowing some of them to commit further crimes by granting them bail. The public puts pressure on politicians to solve the problems created by these criminals and the encounter killings solve many of these issues. Human Rights organisations and the liberals however cast other aspersions like calling them caste/religious killings but, they do not seem to come up with solutions to the problems that I have mentioned at the start of this paragraph.

The discussion reminded me of my own encounters with the police, one, unpleasant and the others surprisingly very pleasant and result oriented. Since this post is about the unpleasant ones, let me restrict myself to that encounter.

It was late 1975 during our national emergency period that this happened. I was travelling from Kerala to Tamil Nadu in a company owned car that was being driven by a company employed driver. We had crossed over into Tamil Nadu when we were stopped by a police officer and a constable who asked us for documents and we produced whatever they asked for. While this was going on, the constable took the driver aside and asked for a bribe and the latter came across to me and conveyed the message. Since we were not doing anything illegal I refused to oblige and my nightmare started.

We were taken to the first police station inside Tamil Nadu and the inspector made an entry in the case book there with an offence which was non bailable. I insisted on contacting someone to get me a lawyer and was allowed to make a phone call from the police phone. Those were days without the modern cell phones and even that little consideration was made to appear as though a big favour was being extended to me. The officer noticing that the car was registered in Kerala and under the impression that I may not have contact inside Tamil Nadu was stumped when within an hour of my telephone call, the most famous lawyer from Coimbatore landed up at the police station to bail me out while the recipient of my phone call was able to contact the Director General of Tamil Nadu Police to instruct the police station to release me on bail despite the matter being an non bailable one. I heard the wireless instruction while still in the police station and the officer for the first time felt that he had perhaps taken on more than he could chew. In the meanwhile, my driver and I had spent six hours in the police lock up.

Having already registered an offence the officer had to go through the motions but we had to move higher court to force the police to register a case and prosecute as they were not prosecuting knowing that they would lose the case. I couldn’t however, keep the matter without resolution and forced the issue.

After four hearings including the one at the higher court to force prosecution, the Magistrate heard the case, heard the witnesses, inspected the documents and took five minutes to record a Not Guilty judgement and also passed strictures against the officer concerned. All this was possible, I suspect, because by the time that the final hearing came up, the emergency had been lifted and things were different.

For a while, my lawyer and I contemplated suing the officer for defamation and wrong confinement but, because I was already posted out of Kerala to Mumbai by then, and had already spent a small fortune on the matter, I decided not to pursue the matter any further.

There were however some very disappointed rival colleagues who were hoping that I would go to jail which would have affected my growth in the company.

I am sure that Shackman will have some equally interesting anecdote/s and I request you to go over to his blog to read what he has to say on the topic. Thank you.

Posted in Blogging, History, India, Wikipedia | Tagged , | 10 Comments