“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak . Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

~ Winston Churchill. 

I was already sitting down so did not have to sit down, but I listened.  I listened to a charming young lady who complained that I am not posting enough on my blog as she was used to reading my blog posts the first thing every morning and misses her daily fix. I have promised to try and provide her with her daily fix henceforth and this is the first post in that endeavour.

One of the great traits of that young lady is the fact that she can listen.  And when she responds, she does it with such precision and brevity that if in turn the listener is not paying attention, s/he can miss out on the substance which is usually of the highest order as well.

This young lady is an epitome of courage.  Her life story is one of unusual happenings despite which she and her family faced the vicissitudes of life with exceptional courage and fortitude and came out on top.  Today I found that she has again had to face some serious problems which she has handled with her usual aplomb.  So, when she said that my blog posts inspire her, I was flattered and I had to show enough courage to make the commitment to post something every day henceforth.

And typical of her style, she promised to take me out for lunch next week.  What more can an old reprobate ask for! I look forward to it RB.



National Values.

Trojan-Horse rep

This article in the Guardian talks about getting schools funded by the state to follow British values.  This initiative follows what in Britain is now called Operation Trojan Horse where Islamists tried to hijack school managements to bring about their own values as opposed to the so called British values.

In India too for too long, we have had various types of Trojan horses invading our schools through changing our history books in a ding dong battle between the so called Hindu politicians and the so called secular politicians.  Going as far back as 2004 this battle started and each state too has been subject to various changes depending on which political party came to power.

The battle is about to begin again!

I am however zapped when I speak to young people about simple things and find that they do not have the slightest clue about many things that we were taught in our history classes.  For many youngsters, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, etc are all esoteric and vague figures and the struggle for independence is something that is very vague.  The whole history of our nation seems to start from the time that Jeans replaced dhotis/pajamas and saris/salwars.

And I am not talking about youngsters below the age of twenty, but even closer to forty!

When questioned in depth, it becomes obvious that the subject of history itself is considered to be one where one can score high marks to improve averages and so one mugs up likely questions/answers and one does not really study and appreciate history.

Under these circumstances, how can we expect our children to have any national values if there are any such values recognised as such?

How sad!

Unwritten Social Agreements.


It is strange that this topic crops up now almost just after I had written my post on Reaction To Death where I was exposed to two differing reactions to my following one of our unwritten social agreements, conveying condolence when some one dies. There are other such agreements like obligatory attendance of weddings, contributions to local temples, annual celebration of festivals etc where despite one’s reluctance, one is expected to participate because of custom, tradition or just sheer fear of ostracisation or excommunication or whatever.

Most of these unwritten social agreements however are driven by peer /social pressure and in urban living conditions observed in the breach and in any case the spirit is rarely the driving factor. Let us just take two such farces in my part of the world. The Karva Chaut / Maha Shivratri observation among Hindus; and the Ramzan fast where all day long people fasting rest and sleep and party in the nights, or the Friday afternoon mandatory namaaz to which one is obliged to go among the Muslims beside various other things in both religions and the others, by listing which I may become more politically incorrect.

I live in a milieu where written agreements are broken with impunity and the proverbial hand shake ones have all but disappeared. When I see obviously educated people driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid a long drive to a turning on a one way road, what I wonder about is how these people who do not respect written laws and rules will behave in business and employment situations where unwritten agreements usually play a greater role than written ones. The increasing rate of divorces in our country is another indicator of the fall of the sanctity of agreements, written or otherwise.

I am a cynic where human nature is concerned having experienced many disappointments with broken agreements to be in favour of unwritten agreements. So, I will leave my readers with this fantastic thought from someone who would not be expected to come up with it.

“For practical purposes we have agreed that sanity consists in sharing the hallucinations of our neighbours.”
~ Evelyn Underhill.

I hope that you enjoy reading my take on this subject which was chosen by Conrad The Old Fossil for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where five of us write on the same topic.  TOF himself is preoccupied with other major problems but I hope that since this is a topic chosen by him, he will endeavour to write this week’s LBC post.  The four other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman. 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! Ashok has got a new blog set up and I hope that he will participate being a lawyer as he is, and dealing with agreements of all kinds all the time.

Reaction To Death II.

My friend and thought provoker K responded to my post Reaction To Death through an email thus:

“Your post on Reaction To Death esp the second one though very true can get you into trouble !

I suggest a test for blogging – will the reader of the post be better off by reading it ?”

I responded immediately thus:

“K, a blog by definition is a web log. It is my personal diary that I am willing to share with those who care to share my joys and other emotions as well as observe me showing off my intellectual gymnastics. Nothing more nothing less. How can I possibly get into trouble writing about miserable sods? I hope he reads that and discusses it with me.”

K is not one to let matters drift. He went on to send the following Sanskrit Shloka and a parable to illustrate what he wanted to convey.

satyam bruyat priyam bruyat na bruyat satyam apriyam
priyam ca nanrutam bruyat esha dharmah sanatanah

~ Manu Smriti 4.138

Speak truth in such a way that it should be pleasing to others. Never speak truth, which is unpleasant to others. Never speak untruth, which might be pleasant. This is the path of eternal morality, sanatana dharma.

To speak truth is an eternal value irrespective of time and place. But the expression of truth should be accompanied by two conditions. Firstly, it should be presented in a loving manner and secondly it should be spoken for the betterment of others. How you speak is as important as what is said. Priyam means speech that does not hurt others. Hitam is something that is said for the good or betterment of others. One should be careful of speaking truth but not hurting others.

We should be careful in speaking the truth. The purpose should be good and the words used and the manners in which they are spoken are important. So the value of truthfulness is relative to a situation. According to the Indian scriptures while living in the world of relativity truth can be interpreted in many ways.

The King And The Astrologer

A king produced his horoscope before an astrologer and asked him about his future. The astrologer pondered the positions of the planets and consulted the Shastras and finally gave his verdict: .Maharaja, all your relatives will die before you, you will perform their obsequies with
your own hands.. The king became furious. He was very much attached to his relatives and could not tolerate such a verdict. The king at once ordered that the poor astrologer should be given imprisonment for life.

Then the king sent for another astrologer. This man was more tactful than the first. He found that the previous astrologer’s readings were absolutely correct. So, he tactfully put the same truth the other way round. He said: .Maharaja, you have a very long life. You will live longer than all your relatives.. This also meant that all his relatives would die while the king was alive. The same fact had been very tactfully told to please the king. The king was highly pleased with the astrologer and gave him rich and costly presents. 

Therefore it is said that even while telling the truth, one should tell it in a pleasant manner. Even a truth should not be told in a way that will hurt the feelings of others. If it is told so, it is tantamount to untruth only. Your speech should be truthful, pleasant and beneficial.

What do you think? Should I have been more circumspect?

Mysore Bonda And Hero Honda.

My cousin Damodaran has been searching high and low in New Bombay as well as the old Bombay for a dish that he was very fond of when he was in school / college which was readily available in restaurants in the South of India. It is called Mysore Bonda. I had vague memories of the same and whenever the topic comes up of food, the two of us inevitably end up with the resolve to find a place to have that old favourite.

The same happened three days ago when we were talking to each other on the phone on a proposed trip for me to his place. At the end of that phone call I hunted for a recipe online for the Mysore Bonda and having found one which sounded quite simple, I decided to try my hand at making it.

So today in the morning I got the dough prepared and let it stand for a couple of hours before Mangal came to work and with her taking over the frying of the bondas, the whole thing became quite a simple affair and the outcome surprised me for its sheer beauty of looks and the taste took me back to the Chennai of the early sixties of the last century.


The proof of the bonda is in eating it and the whole lot of them in the open casserole got polished off by the four of us during lunch and the coconut chutney that you see in the other open vessel too was licked clean.

Which brings me to my young friend Bubul who many decades ago bought a Hero Honda motorcycle to commute between his bachelor pad and place of work but would not cut quite the swathe that the ads for the motorcycle those days hinted at. No fair maidens swooned when he rode past on his steed and in sheer desperation he had named the bike Zero Bonda. I shall be sending a link to this post to him and his lovely bride Anindita to bring back those memories alive as well. It has been decades since he graduated to cars and his son is now old enough to venture into two wheeler adventures.

Reaction To Death.


At my age death is a frequent occurrence and in the last few days I had to make two condolence phone calls.  Both were calls to the South  and to old friends one of who is also a distant relative by marriage.

The first one was to a friend who was also a colleague in my working life whose parents were known to me as well and in a way I was instrumental in his marriage.  When through a group mail I came to know of the passing away of his mother, I rang him up to offer my condolences and he simply said that it would be a good idea to rejoice as she had lived a long and happy life and went without suffering and / or causing suffering to her family.  In fact, the conversation turned out to be quite amusing leaving both of us laughing at the end of it and assuring each other of meeting soon.

The other one was this morning, but the person to die was the father of a friend.  I had known the father too as I had been to their home a few times.  The father was 91 and had been keeping indifferent health the last year or so with frequent hospitalisation for emphysema.  The death must surely have been a great relief for the life long smoker of Indian cheroots.

While in the first instance my friend reacted quite practically and the exchange was a pleasant one, the second one this morning was a disaster at least as far as I was concerned.  As soon as my friend came on the phone and realised that it was I, he started off wailing and crying aloud about what a great loss it was and how much he will miss his father etc.  Not only did he give me the blues, he insisted on my talking to his wife who too took off into a litany of her grief like only Tamils can come up with.  It was a very forgettable experience which left me numb for quite some time.

I suspect that there must have been people around my friend and his wife and the performance was for their benefit rather than for me.  Whatever the case, the contrast coming so soon after the earlier condolence call was striking.

Unfortunate that we are expected to make condolence calls and visits and are exposed to such drama that pulls us down.