Women Soldiers – Another Achievement.

You know how proud I am of our Border Security Force’s all women Battalion posted in our border with Pakistan.

I have just come across another very inspiring story from the USA.

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We in India already have a de-facto lady head of state, a ‘foreigner’ to boot, and the USA almost had one, but she ended up being the Secretary of State.

Sandeep’s offer to set me up in an Ashram is getting to be increasingly attractive.

Crank’s Ridge

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When a friend sent me a link to a YouTube link for a video on Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye singing ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’, it brought back so many memories to me that I wanted to share some with some of my younger friends.

I forwarded the link to some who are jazz enthusiasts and one of them Sandeep, promptly got back to me about how much Danny Kaye reminded him of ‘Crank’s Ridge”. Apparently Danny Kaye’s daughter, Dena Kaye set up a hospital there which is operational even today.

Sandeep, a keen runner, trekker, mountaineer and an enthusiastic, if somewhat irregular blogger, decided to blog about what this chain of memories brought back to him and has written a fascinating blog – “Up On Crank’s Ridge: Where It’s Always 1969.”

You can learn a lot about Almora, the town nearest to Crank’s Ridge if you google for it as you can about Crank’s Ridge itself. I have been to Almora but not to Crank’s Ridge. When it was suggested that I go there by my friend in Almora, I as usual joked about the name and said I want nothing to do with Cranks. Apparently, even before all the notables mentioned by Sandeep discovered Almora, it was called Crank’s Ridge either after some British Colonial named Crank, which is quite likely, or due to the British calling it so, because cranks kept going there. I would not know. It however appears that before too long, I may just find out.

Sandeep plans to settle down close to Crank’s Ridge and has promised me a hut in a corner of his estate where I could quietly meditate on my navel. He promises me that, while all the money that would be collected from devotees visiting me will be kept by him, he will not interfere with the female devotees. What a considerate friend to have!

Women Border Security Force.

In my post “Coincidence? Women Bug The Lashkar e Toiba” I had informed about Indian Border Security Force deploying an all women unit on the border with Pakistan.

Some of my readers had requested that I keep them updated with developments. Here is an interesting news item from our Indian Express, Sunday edition of September20, 2009.

I shall keep posting about any further news of interest.

Happiness – Continued.

I last posted about Happiness in my blog in January. Since then a lot has happened in all our lives and this topic has been taken for granted.

In my post I had given some quotations and now I have come across another one, which is so good that I want to share it with all of you. This quote does not make specific reference to ‘happiness’ but it is implied, and one can replace ‘money’ and ‘success’ with ‘happiness’ and still get the same effect.

“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”
– Bob Dylan

The reason I wished to write about happiness today however is not because I wish to share the quote but due to an article by Paul Bloom, a psychologist, that I read recently which throws up some very interesting ideas. Please do read it and savour them.

I have often referred to a favourite book of mine on happiness – ‘Happier’ by Tal Ben-Shahar.

In that, people are classified into three categories: Rat Racer, Hedonist and Nihilist.

The definitions are:

Rat Racer: Lives in the hope of being happy in the future, and yet is
unable to enjoy the here and now.

Hedonist: Finds some pleasure in the good things in life – good wine, good food, good company – and yet is unable to enjoy lasting fulfillment.

Nihilist: Has completely given up on finding happiness.

Tal Ben-Shahar propounds on ‘Positive Psychology’ which teaches one how to become happier right now – no lottery, windfall, job promotion, or new love required!

His classes on Positive Psychology at the Harvard University have been extremely popular and many students who have attended claim that they have become happier, and in turn recommend other students to take the course.

I am doing my bit in spreading the good word around. Please read the article and if possible read the book too.

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Finally, to prove that “Happiness” is a myth, here is impeccable logic.
Single women claim that all the good men are married, while all married women complain about their lousy husbands. This confirms that there is no such thing as a good man. Any comments men?

Hope And Renewal.

I sincerely believe that Hope and Renewal are two distinctly different topics, each on which tomes can be written. Conrad however has something in his mind and has combined both, and in deference to his decision, I shall write on both, but as distinctly different topics in one post. I however accept that these two are two sides of the same coin or more aptly, the yin and yang of life. They go together and dovetail into each other all the time. I shall conclude with that dovetailing.

Before I proceed further however, some information. This post is the Loose Consortium Bloggers’ Friday post when Ashok, Conrad, Grannymar, Magpie, Marianna and I write one post each on the same topic, every Friday. Subsequent to writing this post, I understand that Maria will also be joining us every Friday. Here is welcoming her. Grannymar was feeling a bit lost with too many men on the consortium and this should help reduce the imbalance. Please visit all the blogs to get different angles on the same subject. This week, I wish to particularly compliment Grannymar, who is recouping from major surgery, but has written her post well before the date so that the chain does not get broken. I salute you Grannymar.

Hope.

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” — Vaclav Havel.

Vaclav Havel, is one of my two Socialist heroes. The other being Lech Walesa. Lest it be thought that I am a socialist, let me assure you, no, I am not a Socialist or a Leftist. I am a very proud to be Capitalist, but I qualify that leaning with a strong dose of Compassion and Nationalism. These two heroes of mine however are Socialists and Nationalists with loads of compassion.

I have searched high and low to find a better quotation than the one that I cherish, which is what I have started my post with.

I shall share with my readers two stories from my personal life to illustrate the power of hope. In both cases, I had hoped for the decisions taken being the correct ones with the possible outcomes being the ideal, and they turned out to be so. In both cases, there were detractors who advised me to take different decisions, which in retrospect, I am glad I did not pay heed to.

During the infamous Emergency of Indira Gandhi between June 25, 1975 and March 21, 1977, many high handed actions were taken by government officials and many Indians suffered. The extent to which they suffered has never been fully documented as other more important matters took the center stage after the only black period of our democracy.

I had my brush with official high handedness and was jailed for six hours on a non bailable offense. To add to the indignity of being in jail, my driver who was arrested along with me was also jailed for being an accomplice. It was sheer exercise of brute power by a petty government official who expected a bribe from me for doing nothing wrong and I refused to oblige. My driver was jailed for not being able to persuade me to part with a bribe.

Fortunately for me, I had sufficient resources to get a high powered lawyer friend from a nearby town to come immediately to the police station where we were locked up, get in touch with some of my very powerful friends in the state capital to get a special waiver of the non bailable clause of the offense overlooked and got ourselves released from jail and also got our car released from quarantine. The official however had already registered an offense against us and we had to fight the criminal case for over two years at considerable expense and inconvenience.

I was approached many times by touts to settle the matter out of court which I refused despite being in the midst of the Emergency. I fought the case with some very interesting court drama by my lawyer friend and won a “Not Guilty” verdict, though it was after the Emergency was lifted.

During the entire process, what kept me going was the spirit of the quote given at the start of this post. Many of my friends and colleagues believed that I was jeopardizing my career with a foolish fight over a silly matter of principle. I however plowed on as my Mentor and then immediate Superior, backed me to the hilt on my adventure.

After the verdict, my lawyer friend advised me to file a defamation case against the official and promised me that he will get the salary of the official attached till the case was decided as retribution. After giving it careful consideration, I decided against it when the official got wind of it and came to apologize to me for the trouble he had caused. At that point of time, I had hoped that he would not repeat such high handed behavior. I do not know what happened to him subsequently, as I moved out of that state and lost touch with the local set up there.

The second case is when I had to face up to a very serious turning point in my professional life. I had to decide between my career and my family life. I have written about this in some of my earlier posts and suffice it to say, that I believe that I took the right decision and the family life won. At that point too, I had no clear indication that the course of action that I had decided on, would lead to what I had hoped would be the outcome. I had to take the appropriate action on the certainty that it made sense, no matter what the outcome. In the event, the outcome was the one that I had hoped for. The point is of course that we can only hope for a favorable outcome, but the actual outcome is to be worked towards by taking the sensible action, appropriate to the situation.

Renewal.

“There’s something I know about you that you may or may not know about yourself. You have within you, more resources of energy than have ever been tapped, more talent than has ever been exploited, more strength than has ever been tested, more to give than you have ever given.” – John Gardner

What does renewal mean? Re New Al or Re Newing. Making something newer all the time. Why should we bother? It is happening all the time. None of us are the same from moment to moment. Some change is taking place all the time. Some cells die, some get born, some hair falls, some hair grows, somethings are forgotten, some new memories take root and so on and so forth. This is nature. You or I do not have to do anything about it. It is happening all the time within and without us.

The only place this does not happen is because we do not let it happen. That is in our minds. Attitudes, values, opinions, ingrained behavior patterns, habits etc about which we are perhaps, not even aware of. If however we can deliberately change and renew ourselves, the rewards are many and very satisfying.

If we can become aware of these fixed things that are so much part of our life, we can draw upon all that John Gardner talks about in the quote given above.

Why is it difficult? We are comfortable with the way we are and resist change. We do not want to become newer unless of course, it is for cosmetic reasons, which is for reinforcing old opinions of what we must look like! In other words, the container is the parameter for judgment, and not the content!

If however, we come out of the container fixation and dispassionately look at the content, we can see how many things we need to change on an ongoing basis, so that we are renewed in our attitudes, values and opinions. Let us take for instance the current problems that many Indian families are going through. A demand on the children to provide support and care in old age. This is highly impractical in many cases, particularly with the children being part of the Indian diaspora. To accept that, though the parents in their time might indeed have provided such support and care to their parents in the past, to expect the same from their children in changed circumstances, is asking for dissatisfaction and frustration. I have knowledge of some other parents who have done precisely the opposite quite cheerfully and live full and contented lives. Any number of such changes in attitudes will enable us to renew ourselves and live fruitful lives. The key is to accept changed circumstances and do the best we can in the changed circumstances.

In my own case, losing my wife has been an opportunity to learn to live in a completely new way. Further, to accept that I have voluntarily invited my father to spend his last days with me has been a renewal of my sense of duty and responsibility. This has meant change of many routines and habits and I have accomplished those with equanimity. I could have well gone the other route of “Why me?” as I know some others who have similar responsibilities, but then, I would have lost an opportunity of dis-covering some deeply held values and the ability to handle stress that I did not know that I had. I had to learn that I cannot expect my 92 year old father to change his ways, but I had to change. I found that I could. The journey has not been easy, but as I write this, it has been possible.

Hope is to aspire for something that currently does not exist. When that aspiration fructifies, Renewal takes place. It need not be exactly what we had hoped for, but to accept and rejoice with whatever is the outcome is renewal. I have now discovered that I can have both.

Commonlaw Wives, High Heels and Neck Ties.

Our blog friend Nick from nickherendnow posts some very interesting blogs and generates a great deal of discussion on them.

He wrote about two very topical subjects recently, one on a Common Law Wife and her struggles to get a settlement from her late partner’s estate and the other about the dress code of many employers requiring ladies to wear high heel shoes.

I visit Nick’s blog religiously and try and make some comment and these two topics have been in my mind because of their impact in the Indian context. Recently, there has been a lot of newspaper coverage arising out of a High Court judgment where a live in partner has been given the same rights as a wife. Among the other issues, the issue of Indian men of non Hindu religious background committing bigamy has also come to the forefront with this development.

I have a personal interest in the issue due to various reasons, but not as some of you may conclude because I am a bigamist! Far from it. I believe that any bigamist needs his examined first before any moral stand is taken for or against it.
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Nick’s first post apparently is of topical interest elsewhere in the UK too as can be seen in this article by Christina Patterson in the Independent.

My problem with the high heels is also similar to that of Nick’s. I have seen many Indian women, now wearing western style clothes as part of their uniforms in the hospitality industry, travel and some other occupations, which is grotesque to say the least. They do not seem to be able to walk properly with high heels and appear as though they may fall any moment. India being India, with just a walk being an obstacle race, I think that this is silly, and I hope that Gaelikaa will chip in here with her comments.
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Strangely enough, Christina talks about the problem of high heels also in the same article.

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Are we in for a revolution in dress code? Many people are coming out against the neck tie for instance, and I for one am all for abolishing the silly useless piece of cloth and abolishing the high heel foot wear, except for very short people, may just be the tandem development from the lady’s point of view. I know for one that Jean will be among the first to concur with both suggestions, as can be seen in this very amusing post of hers, where unfortunately she looks at the neck tie and jacket phenomenon, but not the high heels one from the female point of view. If only she had a female model to illustrate, perhaps she will post another one. Any volunteers?