I Am Now An Agony Uncle.


I got an unexpected mail from a stranger last Thursday.  For the purpose of this post, let us call him Tookay.  Having obtained his permission to do so, I reproduce the correspondence in full.

(The correspondence has taken a life of its own since I drafted this post and I have decided to serialise it so that the posts are short.  Watch this space for more.)

Hello Sir,

Good Evening.

At the outset, I sincerely wish to admit that you are doing a great job of writing wonderful articles on your blog, which inspire and educate folks like me – and you are doing all this at 70! That’s really cool.

Of course, I was sad to learn about 3 sad events in your life:
Death of your wife.
Your hip operation [both hips ] but could this not be averted through 1st rate physiotherapy?
Death of your friend Akbar.

Anyways, you are doing a great job.

Sir, though my questions may seem very weird, I shall thank you to provide me some good answers to following questions based on your great thought process and experience:

I am 55 years+ and retired with very little savings to support me and my wife for another say 5-10 years [ guess there is no point in living if you don’t have money!

Yes, I have one son who earns quite well but he is very selfish and we don’t wish to rely on his earnings.

Very recently since many of my relatives and in-laws have gone on Foreign Tours, my wife insists that the two of us go on a Europe Trip, which will cost us Rs. 4 Lakhs.

I told her politely that this is just not done – we don’t have that kind of money and I assured her that we will travel the whole world in next 6 LIVES since as per Hindu Sacred Laws husband & wife get re-united for 7 LIVES! [ saat janmon ka saat ] My wife is very religious but yet she harasses me no end and insists that we visit Europe. I can’t even tell her to go with a Mahila Sang to Europe because I do not have that much money to squander when same Europe and other exotic places can be seen on Travel Channels.

Sir, please suggest how best I can suggest to my wife to forget Europe? Can’t even tell her to see Europe in her dreams because we mortals just don’t have the power to decide what to dream!

My second funny question is this: is there any way I can become a multi-billionaire at this age so as to win the heart of my wife – my wife loves money like hell! And I am sure she will love me a billion times more if I become a Billionaire.

But as they say: man proposes, God disposes! Guess, I ‘ll buy a Lottery Ticket – just 1.

It will also be great if you write some articles on following:

See the world on travel Channels – don’t waste money and make Travel Agencies & Airway companies rich.

Don’t ever think of becoming a multi-billionaire after 60 even if your wife insists.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks & Regards,


I responded by answering below each paragraph, but to make this post short, I reproduce my response in a running format.

Hello you too Mr. Tookay.

And the very same to you too.

Thank you.  That is very inspiring.  I completed 72 last month and intend going on blogging for as long as I can.

Those were events in my life like similar things would be in other people’s lives.

No, physiotherapy would not have been enough as the femoral heads were completely damaged.

Thank you once again.

I am flattered.  I will try my best to come up to your expectations.

I would love to go on my long cherished dream of visiting friends and relatives in Europe, the UK, Ireland, the USA, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Bangladesh by going on a non stop tour starting Westward and coming around the globe to end up in Chennai.  I simply do not have the finances to do that.  How can I advice you dear sir?  If I were you, I would simply show my bank passbook to my wife and explain the financial realities and ask her to change her ambitions.  I trust that my response satisfies you.

If I had an answer for that question, do you think that I would be blogging everyday to pass my time Mr. Tookay?  I would be globetrotting.
Now you are talking my kind of language.  The point is that I haven’t yet found either the inspiration or the energy to leave my comfort zone to go 3 Kms to the nearest lottery ticket seller.  No one to love me, money or, no money!  Sad.

I shall try my level best to find the inspiration to do so Mr. Tookay.

I have responded with all humility and to the best of my ability, and I need just one favour from you.  I would like your permission to reproduce this entire exchange as a post in my blog.

I now look forward to hearing from you.

With gratitude for your interest and encouragement and kind regards,



He has responded :

Thanks a lot for your lightning speed reply – I appreciate it very much.

Indeed your response to all of my questions were very realistic with lots of humor sprinkled graciously – frankly, I laughed my guts out and kept thanking you in my heart of hearts for showing my the right path.

I am still very sad to learn about your hip operation and was just wondering whether you are able to walk without using any stick or such similar stuff. I also wonder how you live without a wife – I can’t live without my wife for a single day because I just hate hotel food and unfortunately I am not a good cook. Lady cooks don’t come cheap and many are thieves and crooks – you never know. I hate burgers, pizzas, etc and can’t live on bread, butter, eggs, fruits, olive oil for even 1 or 2 days. Do let me know how you live – probably I can get some good tips from you so as to reduce my dependence on my wife.

I was happy to know that you have friends in various parts of the globe and had I been a multi-billionaire we could have surprised all your friends by actually visiting and staying with each of them for a few days.

Sure, you can reproduce whatever stuff you want but please mention my name as Tookay, because having worked in various companies I have more critics and less wellwishers. I don’t wish to be a target of ridicule for folks who may accidentally come to recognize me!

Thanks once again for your excellent advice and encouraging words of wisdom.





Adoption II.

My post on Adoption received some very interesting comments and I have responded to all of them to the best of my ability.

It has of course come as a surprise to me that a lot of other countries also have adoption within the families for the sake of keeping the wealth within the family and other emotional reasons.

Here is another heartwarming story about a friend stepping in to adopt children of a dying mother.  I was moved when I read it.

New Rules.


The first thing that came to mind when I saw this topic was a terror called MDP. This was when I had joined a British company as a Management Trainee and my training started off with learning all about the office administration side of branch management. At each desk, I had to first read the MDP which expanded meant Manual of Depot Procedures, then observe what the clerk did. The next step was to work under his/her supervision, then work independently before rounding off with a report on what I had learnt.  I made the mistake of showing some enthusiasm being the very first MBA taken on as a Trainee by making some suggestions in my first three reports.  Much to my horror, after they were read by the Divisional Manager, I was asked to report to him. He formally complimented and congratulated me on my suggestions and gave me an additional responsibility of completely overhauling the MDP before I completed my training as he felt that it was badly in need of updating. Quite how I passed through that ordeal is a memory that came back and I would rather forget that. Simply stated, there was resistance to change and resentment from well entrenched bureaucracy which did everything possible to scuttle my study of procedures. I don’t know if such things happen now to fresh Management Trainees, but if they did, my heart goes out to them.

Coming to more recent times, the most frustrating new rules that I have experienced have all to do with change to traffic rules, primarily changing roads and lanes into one way to accommodate increased vehicle population and traffic. Closely related to and implemented with great vigor are the new No Parking rules.

In personal lives, new rules start to operate when someone elder either moves in and / or dies or a newcomer like a daughter in law or a pet arrives to complicate simple lives, as all such things happened in my life during the last few years.

On health matters, new rules on how to sit, walk, sleep etc are all advised when joints are replaced or revised like when it happened to my hips.

I have also experienced voluntarily accepting new rules of waking up time, eating time, sleeping time etc when I had gone on meditation retreats as well rules on diets and habits during the retreats.

Luckily, I have not had to accept constantly changing rules of conduct / behaviour etc in corporate environments for a long long time. I am told by young job hoppers that this is quite bothersome. And I can sympathise with them.

I don’t have this framed and hung on any wall in my home, but this about sums up the rules that I would like to see observed in my home. By and large they are.  Please click on the image to get a larger resolution.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
― Pablo Picasso

This topic was suggested by Shackman, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently nine of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Padmum, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

Homemade Yogurt.

This post got its inspiration from a very interesting article that I read about the starter to get good quality homemade yogurt.  To the best of my knowledge, apart from my Indian readers, there is only one blogger who makes yogurt at home and that is Wisewebwoman all the way up in Canada.  She had shared her experience some time ago and I thought that her yogurt will compare favourably with those that are set every day in millions of homes in India.

I personally consume homemade yogurt twice a day when I am at home.  Once for breakfast and again at lunch. Both Manjiree and Ranjan love to have it too though not as regularly as I do.  I take pride in the quality of the yogurt that I set and it is appreciated by whoever has it at home.  Most of the success can be credited to the starter and the rest to some basic rules that all Indian homes follow.  I have just improvised on one step which is not very common but very effective.

My starter has been in operation for the past 25 years without break.  When we moved into this house, I had to borrow the starter from a colleague’s home as we did not have any of our own, having lived off hotel and dairy supplied yogurt for the previous few months when we were living in a service apartment while looking around for a home to buy and move into.  The yogurt that was set on that first day started the process which has been going on uninterruptedly for all these years.  Like the lady in the article other Indians settled overseas have borrowed my yogurt to take to start their own batches back home and with great success too!

My process is simple.  I use the same stainless steel vessels to set the yogurt and those vessels are not used for anything else.  In the old days, the vessels used to be baked clay pots which produced the most amazing aroma and flavour for the yogurt but that is no longer possible.  Here is one such vessel in which you can see the yogurt that I set yesterday morning and which had been in the refrigerator since about noon.

set dahi

I heat up the leftover, stored-in-the-fridge-overnight, milk from the previous day, till air bubbles form along the edge of the milk and transfer the milk to a vessel in which I have already spread two teaspoons of leftover yogurt from the previous day. I stir up the milk and then transfer the vessel after closing it with its lid to a heat retaining casserole. Here is a picture of the casserole with the set dahi before I used the lid.

The innovation that I mentioned earlier is the use of the casserole to keep the mixture warm for some time. In most Indian homes, it would simply be left in a warm cozy corner in the kitchen. This trick was taught to me by my god daughter in law Vasuki when I was running a bachelor home in the South of India for a short while. Another trick that I learned from my niece Vandana is to use a full green chilli in the mixture at the time of setting when the milk is lean as in the summer months. It is very effective.

A very important step is in washing the vessels in which the yogurt has been set. They should be washed thoroughly in water but not with any kind of detergents. The idea is that the old bacteria from the previous batch may still be available in the vessels. Since I use cow’s milk to set the yogurt, it is not greasy and the vessels do not really need detergents.

While I do not normally sweeten the yogurt, added sugar or jaggery and the yogurt will turn out to be sweet after setting. I have done that with success before parties to serve as dessert.

For those who want to come and taste the yogurt that I make at home, please give me a day’s notice as I make just enough for our needs everyday and if unexpected guests arrive, I simply go across to a grocer who stocks packed yogurt, called dahi here, from many companies like these.

Masti Dahi Cup-1000x1000


Baahubali: The Beginning.


I don’t know of nor have heard of any of the cast, director, or any other team member involved in making this movie. It is a film made in Telugu but dubbed in Hindi, and other Indian languages but thankfully, not subtitled in the version in Hindi that I saw yesterday afternoon. All I knew about this movie was that it was breaking all box office records for the first few days and that the reviews were all giving it unusually consistent and high ratings.

For the first time since I started going to movies in multiplexes, I saw a hall almost full with viewers and everyone of them was glued to her/his seat and everyone also totally disappointed with the tame ending.  Everyone wanted the story to continue.

This movie is an extravaganza / spectacle in the league of famous hollywood spectacles and is comparable to them in every way. That it has been made here in India in Hyderabad is a matter of wonder for me and my partner in crime, Ramesh who too was as zapped as I was with it.  The two of us rarely agree fully on our reviews of films that we see together, but this was one such.

The story is pure myth but presented extremely well, the special effects, props, battle scenes, scale, photography, costumes, action etc are all on epic scale and totally mesmerising. My disappointment is that this was the beginning and the conclusion is scheduled for 2016 as shown on the screen at a critical point of the story and that was the tame ending that I mentioned earlier.

All in all, a movie worth seeing and I have no hesitation giving it[rating=6] rating.

Father Issues.


I had a tumultuous time with my father for most of my life as did all my siblings.  Towards his end, he became more than usually cantankerous and my son and I had to bear the brunt of his behaviour.  These facts are known to all my regular readers and before they start wondering why I am raking up those old issues, now after almost three years of his death, let me share what a friend sent to me because he knew about my problems with my father.  There may well be others who read this who may have had problems with their fathers and they too may wish to do what I have done here.

I can confidently say that I am quite comfortable that none of the problems that the writer talks about are relevant to me.  Let me just quickly go through the six dysfuntional signs that he talks about.

1. You’re aloof. You focus your mind on things other than what’s going on in your relationships. You miss cues from those around you that your relationships need your attention.

Far from it.  All my relationships are on even keel and I am quite comfortable in my own skin.  Facebook, if anything has brought a lot of those relationships closer.  One friend has decided to stop being friends with me, and that is perfectly alright with me.  I have decided to ease off on one relationship.  Both are perfectly alright because, they have not in any way affected my other relationships.

2. You’re unconcerned. It’s difficult for you to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes because you’re not comfortable in your own. You find it impossible to relate to others experiences emotionally. What concerns you most is how something impacts you. 


I am very concerned about what happens to those that matter to me.  Right now there are four people in my life who are going through very difficult times and all of them know that I am around for them and seek me out for support and help.  I walk in their shoes without which I would not be able to be there for them.

3. You’re disrespectful. It’s not on purpose. You just don’t have a clue how to show respect.

What do my readers think?

4. You’re commitment-phobic. You learned early in life not to rely on people. They were unreliable. They always disappointed you, and that hurt. To avoid being hurt again, you avoid making commitments.


Total nonsense, at least, in my life.  Not that I have gone looking for relationships that may cause hurt since my wife died, but, I had forty years of committed life with her and am now too old to start a new one.  I live in India.  It is extremely difficult to do such things at my age anyway.

5. You’re irresponsible. You were never able to figure out how to do things right. It seemed like the rules always changed. Rather than be blamed for things going wrong when you do everything to try to get them right, it’s easier just say, “Hey, it wasn’t my fault!”

If anything, people around me inform me that I am too responsible! I take my responsibilities seriously and have not failed anybody ever.  At least not to my knowledge.

6. You’re unaffectionate. If you were touched at all as a child, it was to have the crap beat out of you. Showing affection by touching someone doesn’t come naturally for you and feels awkward.

If anything, this is a strong point.  I am a very touchy feely kind of a fellow and sometimes that can get to be embarrassing!

The writer concludes his post with the question – “What have you done to face your “daddy” issues?”

What issues?