Initial Impression.

I was exposed to a most peculiar experience today, and I want to share it with all my readers. Perhaps some others have had similar experiences too.

As I have written earlier, I go for a 3.6 Km walk every evening at our local joggers’ park. I normally go there fairly early so that I can finish my walk and spend some quality time with some of my friends who come later and do not walk or jog as much as I do.

For the past few weeks, I had been seeing a lady walking at the park. She would be there walking, when I arrived and leave before I finished my walk. As I am wont to, I tried to smile at her when we crossed each other, but could not get a friendly response from her and I decided that she was shy and so let her be.

Today, she landed up near our bench accompanied by an acquaintance of mine. I was formally introduced to her and my friend wanted me to spend a few minutes with them a little away from the others.

It turned out that the first time that this lady laid her eyes on me at the park, she felt that I was a ruffian, with who it was better not to get involved in. Every time she saw me, this feeling was reinforced and when I tried to be friendly and smiled at her, she almost had a heart attack! Luckily for me, my friend who is her neighbor was taken into confidence by her and she told him that she was afraid to go for her evening walks. She told him about her being mortally scared of me. When she told him about this huge menacing fellow who walks at the park every day, he could not quite place who it could be, as he has been in our colony for perhaps the last ten years or so. He therefore decided to accompany her today to see who this menace was and when he saw that it was me, removed her fears and insisted on introducing her to me and my friends. She was quite relieved and has assured me that henceforth she will not be afraid of me.

After she left, my friends and I discussed this matter, and I was the subject of a lot of ribbing for being considered as a ruffian! Any way, it was felt that in some cases we make snap initial judgments about people we do not know and that impression stays as a permanent impression.

For me, this was an unprecedented experience. I have always found it quite easy to make friends with strangers and have never consciously done anything that could have given an impression of being a violent fellow or one capable of hurting someone. I have also never judged anyone like this lady did me. To the best of my recollection, I have never made snap initial judgments about anyone.

Have you had such experience/s?

Values Learned From Parents.

By accident, I landed up at an unusual site while surfing earlier today and came across a very nice guest post by one Ms. Shana Albert.

What Ms. Albert is talking about is the social media but the contents of her post are simply too good to be restricted to that specific vertical.

I enjoyed reading her post and believe that so will you.

An Inspiring Story.

I subscribe to a site that sends inspiring stories, quotes etc. I received the following story today which needs to be shared with all my readers and also those of my friends who do not read my blog but await my emails.

1000 Marbles

– By unknown Author

One of my favorite inspirational motivational story.

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, of maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the kitchen, with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.

Let me tell you about it. I turned the volume up on my radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning talk show. I heard an older sounding chap with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business himself.

He was talking about “a thousand marbles” to someone named “Tom”. I was intrigued and sat down to listen to what he had to say. “Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital. ” He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.”

“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.” “Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.

“Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part. “It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. “I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. “So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. “I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in my workshop next to the radio. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.

“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight. “Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then God has blessed me with a little extra time to be with my loved ones…… “It was nice to talk to you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your loved ones, and I hope to meet you again someday. Have a good morning!”

You could have heard a pin drop when he finished. Even the show’s moderator didn’t have anything to say for a few moments. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to do some work that morning, then go to the gym. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.” “What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special,” I said. ” It has just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”

How many marbles do you have?

Maintaining A Library.

Post retirement, my one indulgence is reading. I am a prodigious reader and buy books all the time. Every time I come across a reference to some book in something that I read, even some comment or a post in a blog, I immediately send for it. Mostly, I buy online as, the book is delivered at my doorstep and I find that the cost including the shipping costs comes to be lower than if I were to go into town to buy the book.

My collection, sizable as it was when I retired has been building up at a nice clip. Since I stay in an apartment however, space to store is a problem. I therefore have a periodic clean up and get rid of books that I do not intend reading or referring to again. These are mostly novels and short stories.

I have a mini library near my bed, where all the new unread books are kept till I move them one at a time to the drawing room where I read during the daytime. From there, the books move to the actual library, which is located at the landing of the first floor. A space had originally been created for a wardrobe, where I have made a library.

To add to my own collection, my son too is an avid reader and since he too buys books, mostly fiction, the library is quite a substantial one.

The problem with the library however is the need to keep the books dusted and clean and the shelves too cleaned and aired. Once in every few months I remove all the books from the shelves, rearrange them by subject and after dusting and wiping them, arrange them in a systematic manner all over again. With frequent removal, replacement and additions, it gets disorganized all over again in a few months and so the exercise has to be repeated.

In carrying out this exercise, I inevitably take the help of our handyman Yakob, about who I have already written in one of my earlier posts. He removes all the books in stacks, to the floor of one of the bedrooms upstairs, and cleans each book without disturbing the stack. This helps in rearranging the books back on the shelves as mostly the stacks are in a logical order.

The forenoon of yesterday was our day for carrying out this exercise. All went well, with a couple of breaks for tea and after about three hours, we completed the task.

This was when, for the first time in twenty years, Yakob decided to ask me about the library. He asked me, if I had read all the books. I answered in the affirmative. He asked, if I read them more than once. I answered, yes, some and mostly, only to refer to some passage or the other. Very few books were read fully the second time. He then asked me whether, it would be possible that most of the books now rearranged in the library would never be touched by me again. In all honesty, I had to answer yes. He then asked me, why in that case, I don’t give them away to someone who will read them, as I had given away many of the books on Management and Economics, and like some of the books that I had discarded during the current exercise too to be given away.

I am yet to come up with an answer. I have promised him that I shall give him an answer after careful reflection.

I am sure that many of you, my dear readers are also avid readers who collect books. How would you answer Yakob, if you had been asked this question?

India Launches Unmanned Orbiter to Moon

On Wednesday the 22nd inst. India successfully launched an unmanned orbiter to the moon. The New York Times lauded it and reported that India’s scientists are confident of sending men into space in the very near future.

India has certainly been doing some very nice things in the recent past. It’s GDP has quadrupled to $1.1 trillion from $290 billion in 1992. Thus in 16 years, implying average 8% annual growth rate. Incidence of poverty has declined and from almost half of its population living below the poverty line, today it has come down to about twenty percent. As this post is being written, the most pessimistic estimate for the current rate of growth from our authorities is 6.5%. Considering the global situation, this is not something to be sneezed at.

While progress has certainly been made, there is a lot to be done in terms of reaching the benefits of growth to the less privileged. Rural India is a world apart from the Urban one. While there are full states where below the poverty line population has been more or less wiped out in the South and parts of West, there are still areas so backward, that they have been named BIMARU, Hindustani for the sick ones, also an acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajastan and Uttar Pradesh,all known as the cow belt. While Bengal has achieved a great deal of rural prosperity, their lost days of industrial glory seem to elude them due to politics, peculiar to them.

While great institutions of learning exist, such as the IITs, IIMs, Institutes of Economics, Science, etc, primary education lags way behind and the quality of what is provided, particularly in the rural parts, leaves much to be desired. Similarly, great medical establishments, like world class hospitals and institutions of medical education exist, primary health care does not reach the vast majority of Indians.

Potable water, modern sanitation and hygiene are all yet to reach vast numbers of rural Indians.

Under the circumstances, should India be frittering away its resources on missions to the moon?


I have been in a pensive mood about India the past few days, due to some rather unusual
developments. Coming together as they did, this subject leads me to wonder if this is serendipity working overtime!

It all started with my coming across Prof. Natarajan’s article, which I blogged here as a guest post. The next was Jim Belshaw asking me in his blog to let him have my opinions about the situation in India. This was followed by my coming across a blog about which I have written, Multi-isms of my motherland. In this blog, Paddy wrote about his fascination with Indian women!

The latest development has been a very interesting article in a local leading news paper that caught my eye with the following quote: “There still is a realism about India that the West lost long ago. They are on a fast track to self-destruction and I can’t bear to live there any longer.”

This quote is from a French writer, Frederic Mari, who was in Pune, where I live, to attend the Pune Book Fair to promote his book “The Shine”. The book apparently has birds for protoganists and tells a story of a quest as realised through the eyes of an owl. The article talks about the author in detail but, unfortunately, the article does not seem to have been published in the e-version of the newspaper. I am therefore unable to give a link for the same.

Frederic Mari has been living in India for the last twenty years, and says that he would not like to live anywhere else. He says that he will live here as long as Indians continue to accept him.

I do not know quite how this happens. I know of, though not personally, four more such foreigners, all writers, who are completely zapped by India and have written extensively about the land, its people and life. A couple of them have married Indians and for all practical purposes have become totally Indian in their attitudes and values. They are: Sir Mark Tully and Daniel Lak, both from the stables of the BBC and Fracois Gautier, another Frenchman who has been in India for eons and has published many books on India, Indian religions etc, and the very much British William Dalrymple, the historian who has done more to bring to light Indian history than many Indian historians have done.

There are a lot more non-writer Europeans who have become Indophiles and spend long periods of time here. It has always been a puzzle to me as to quite how they can do this. I flatter myself that I am a ritired Anglophile, but I would not have settled down in the UK and lived there for anything. While I always enjoyed my visits there, I inevitably wanted to come home after say a few weeks at the most.

There is certainly the old French and British colonial connection through the British Council and the Alliance Francais, that brings the British and French Indophiles to India, but the same does not happen with Portuguese visitors! Oddly enough, there is also a thriving German presence, thanks to the Max Mueller connection. I have hardly heard of any American, Australian or say Canadian Indophile.

Can any of my readers throw some light on this, for me, interesting subject?