Self Help.

The widest variety of books in any bookshop can be found in the “Self Help” sections. The one industry that did not suffer during the recent recession is the self help industry. In fact, it is reported to have grown faster than ever before.

What does that say about all those people who are willing to spend money to improve themselves? From what condition of existence to what? Why is there such a strident demand for such advise? Why are these people not satisfied with the status quo?

The answer is in one word. Conditioning. We must de-condition ourselves, if that is the word/phrase to use.

Uddhared ātmanātmānaḿ

nātmānam avasādayet

ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur

ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ.

Bhagwat Gita Ch VI Verse 5.

uddharet — one must deliver; ātmanā — by the mind; ātmānam — the conditioned soul; na — never; ātmānam — the conditioned soul; avasādayetput into degradation; ātmā — mind; eva — certainly; hi — indeed; ātmanaḥ — of the conditioned soul; bandhuḥ — friend; ātmā — mind; eva — certainly; ripuḥ — enemy; ātmanaḥ — of the conditioned soul.

One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.

Bandhur ātmātmanas tasya

yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ

anātmanas tu śatrutve

vartetātmaiva śatru-vat

Bhagwat Gita Ch VI Verse 6

bandhuḥ — friend; ātmā — the mind; ātmanaḥ — of the living entity; tasya — of him; yena — by whom; ātmā — the mind; eva — certainly; ātmanā — by the living entity; jitaḥ — conquered; anātmanaḥ — of one who has failed to control the mind; tu — but; śatrutve — because of enmity; varteta — remains; ātmā eva — the very mind; śatruvatas an enemy.

For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where eleven of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by yours truly. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

The National Geographic Society.

customer service

I have been a member of the society for I don’t know how long and I enjoy reading their monthly magazine and sharing it with others too.

Since a couple of years however NGS has handed over the distribution and subscription processes to some organisation in Mumbai India and I have had all kinds of problems with the latter.

Here is the latest exchange of mails between me and their local agent. Both mails were exchanged today. My first mail was in reply to a mail dated January 3, 2013 advising me that the matter was being forwarded to the concern department (sic) and that I could expect a response soon. (I have interpreted the concern department as one that is concerned about customer complaints and not the concerned department.)

From Me: “Today, it is the 24th January and I am sure that the concern department is
still working on the matter that is now more than three months old.

I hope that you and everyone concerned with customer satisfaction in your
organisation is very happy with the progress being made, though it may of
course be of no interest to you if your customer is satisfied.

Or am I wrong?

I would like to receive a concrete solution to my problem instead of your
routine almost automated response like your first two paragraphs in the
letter dated the 3rd of January after which you have been totally silent.

Is there a method by which I can escalate this upward in your organisation
if at your level you are unable to solve the problem?”

The response: “Dear Sir,

Greetings from ACK Media!

With reference to your mail,  we have forwarded your complaint to our concern department and will revert you soon with your subscription details.

For any further queries please feel free to contact us on our helpline numbers 022 – 40497435 / 36 between 9 am to 7.00 pm, Monday to Saturday.

Assuring you of our best services at all times.

Best regards,
Aahan Khan. ”

As suggested by them, I rang up the number given and spoke to one charming lady called Puja who kept telling me that Mr. Aahan Khan has left for the day despite my informing her that Mr. Khan had been forwarding my complaints to the concern department for the past three months and that I would like to speak to the concerned department. She finally requested me to call again tomorrow as I suspect that it was getting to be her going home time too.

This matter pertains to the renewal of my sbuscription, but my interaction with Mr. Khan throughout last year was on non receipt of issues due to their choosing a totally inept courier company to deliver the magazines and my experience with Mr. Khan even then was that he would pass the buck to the concern department and revert. He never did and I had to keep at him by mail and phone calls.

When my subscription problem started, I had contacted the NGS in the USA and they simply washed their hands off the entire matter by asking me to contact the Indian arm of their operations.

I wonder if my blogging about this poor customer service will result in some action from the local arm of the NGS, the ACK Media, which from all accounts seems to be a giant in its field. Or is it that its size prevents good customer service?

The WEEE Man.


I came across a stunning piece of information and on researching about it came across some things that I did not know about and this blog post is an attempt at sharing that information with my readers and to request them to share the information with as many people as they possible can.

I give a link to the Wikipedia on the subject here.

And some iformation about the WEEE man here.

In the latter, please do spend some time exploring the subject and try and get children involved.

wee directive logo

Thank you.

Broken City.

It is Russell Crowe season and when Mark Wahlberg is thrown in as a bonus, I could not resist the temptation. I had seen the former in another film just a few days ago!

I saw Broken City yesterday as part of an indulgent lazy day for myself.

To start with, I landed up at the multiplex half an hour before the start of the film and spent 25 minutes in a cafe having excellent Capuccino and Curry Puffs. I did this exact thing just about a year ago and it was like déjà vu!

Cafe Coffee Day has come a long way during the interim and now offers free Wi Fi! I think that I should go there more often and do some of my blogging there! If I can get myself a tablet, that should be possible.
Cafe Coffeday

The film was gripping and if instead of New York we can have Mumbai, this story can come alive in our part of the world too. Both the actors who had persuaded me to see the film did not let me down. For those who like Crime flims, this is a good see.

I followed the film with lunch at a new restaurant called Tikka Town in a mall called Inorbit.


Had some delectable biriyani, assorted kebabs and rounded it all off with some great gulab jamuns. Sorry, I was too hungry to take photographs of the food!

The lazy indulgent day continued when I returned home for a nice two hour siesta!

A Bonus Visitor.

When I answered the door bell last evening, I was surprised to see Manjiree with another young lady who I immediately called a bonus visitor.

This is her, Mrinmayee. It is a beautiful Sanskrit name meaning Of The Earth. I have never met a young lady like this ever before. You will know when you read more about her.


When Mrinmayee walked in, she was like a breath of fresh air into our home. My friend Ramesh and I were sitting at the dining table and discussing earth shaking matters and suddenly the focus shifted to someone so petite, swelte, charming and vivacious. And every one of those adjectives is well deserved. I told her that I wanted to write about her in my blog and with her permission took the photograph.

She is 22 years old, 4’11” tall and weighs just 28 Kgs. My immediate offer was to feed her and she readily agreed but added that no matter how much I fed her, she will neither put on more weight nor add any more to her height. She added that it is in her genes and all of her family were built like her. I envy such a genetic blessing and I told her so, much to her amusement.

Mrinmayee is about to finish her graduation in Commerce and after that intends being a designer. For the moment, she has got employment apart from her studies to put some pocket money into her life and I find that energy level amazing.

All the very best to you Mrinmayee. You cheered us two old dudes quite a bit yesterday!

Better Late Than Never.

My brother Arvind rang me up early yesterday morning with an unusual request. He wanted me to take some photographs of something that he had noticed during his stay with me last year and send them to him to copy the idea.

Some background information. Arvind and his wife Shanta had come to take care of my home and me during my surgery and recovery during September/October 2011. They had moved into my then bedroom which is upstairs with a balcony overlooking my neighbour Abbas’s garden. Arvind had obviously seen the garden and this is what impressed him most.

2013-01-20 16.44.14

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2013-01-20 16.44.43

Just the garden hose wound around a wall mounted car wheel. A neat way to stow away the garden hose which otherwise is left in coil form in some corner of most gardens, including mine.

My own epiphany was yesterday evening after I had taken the photographs and Abbas and I were on our evening walk. Abbas asked what I was photographing in his garden and I explained. At that moment, it struck me that I could do the same in my garden too to bring about a little order there. I have seen the arrangement in Abbas’s garden any number of times and it had never occurred to me make a similar arrangement in my garden too and I could have done this twenty odd years ago! After the gardener had watered the plants and gone away, this is how the hose pipe was left in one corner of my garden.
2013-01-21 09.14.18

Not acceptable at all. Arvind and Abbas Zindabad. For those who do not understand, that is Viva Arvind and Abbas.