Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Seven Days Bhutan Trip - A Travelogue - Part II

Day 2 – 22 Nov 15 - Phuntsholing – Thimphu

     We reached Phuntsholing yesterday after the Permit office had closed. Having not been able to do anything on that issue, today was the day to get our permits and travel into Bhutan to Thimphu, the capital city. Phuntsholing is also in Bhutan but there is no permit required to enter this city. Indian citizens have to take permit and if they are travelling in their own cars then I understand permit for car also needs to be taken.

     Our travel management firm told us that their representative would reach us by 0900 (Bhutan Time, henceforth, in my narrative all timings would mean Bhutan time 30 min ahead of India time. After all we have reached a foreign country). They also asked us to be ready and we were quick to get up, get ready, have breakfast and we were ready at dot 0900. Then it was a wait for TTT person to arrive. Well he did finally arrive at 1015 hrs. Form filling, mostly done by him, for five of us took about 10 minutes and off we were to Permit office. The office seemed very effective and we got the permits in flat 15 min.

    He then asked us to return to hotel and get ready for the move. The vehicle came by about 1050 and post proper loading we started for Thimphu by 1100 hrs. This day being day of journey, only spectacular part of the journey was the changing landscape as we climbed up from Phuntsholing (1240 ft) to Thimphu (7600 ft). From usual semitropical greenery at Phuntsholing where even mangoes grow to conifers around Thimphu was the main thing to watch.

      The road from Phuntsholing to Thimphu is maintained by Project “Dhantak” of Border Road Orginasation (BRO) of Indian Ministry of Defence. Incidentally, Dhantak is the name of the Project under which this road is maintained by BRO. Road maintenance in these areas is a tedious task and we could see BRO teams working at various places.

Road to Thimphu - I

A Bridge with Prayer Flags
      The road is about three lanes (1.5 lanes per side) for most of the distance. It is free of potholes, has good surface and also good signage throughout the journey. The exception is when it is traversing steep hill sides to gain height where the road is as narrow as in any other hilly area.

Nice Quality of BRO Maintained Road

     We took total 2 stops in a total 5 hrs travel time. First stop was at hotel Shelgoen at Wangkha, very closed to a major Hydro electric power project in  the valley below. Next stop was very close to Thimphu at a place called Whatsa (easy to remember, very close to Whatsapp). 

Hotel Shelgoen signboard

Soon we were at a decorative gate announcing our arrival at the outskirts of Thimphu, capital city of Bhutan since 1955 when the capital shifted here.

Welcome gate of Thimphu
Glimpse of Thimphu - Outskirts

     Thimphu impressed us. The roads were wide. Traffic was not heavy (we were used to traffic in Indian cities). It was disciplined and people showed patience and courtesy to other drivers.  Hardly any Horn Honking was done, in fact we heard very little of the beast called horn, which in India one feels that the switch for horn is fused and horn keeps blaring.  Both sides of the road had five to six story houses constructed in Bhutanese style or at least maintaining a Bhutanese style façade. Most buildings had Photograph of present king (and in some cases the queen also) or last king or both prominently displayed on them.

       Soon we reached the Clock Tower area (city center)  where our hotel, Shantideva was located. Whne I tried to reach the reception, I was shocked that I had to climb two flights of stairs but then realized that only one flight of stairs need to be climbed if one comes from other side (Hotel was between two main roads). Hotel does have a lift but from their reception to upper floors of the hotel. Hotel 89 which is close by has a lift from ground floor (as its reception is situated on the ground floor unlike Shantideva). Once inside, we found the hotel to be neat and clean. The rooms were comfortable and the staff good.

       After check in, we decided to move out to the market. Let me remind the readers, Bhutan is another country having its own culture and way of life. There  is no point comparing things to things back home. Inadvertently, we all do this mistake at least on day one in the heart of Bhutan at places like Thimphu or Paro. Because of this habit of going by own experiences, we were shocked to see at 1900 many shops were on the verge of closing and most of them closed at 1930 hrs. 

Traffic Island in Clock Tower Area
       We had to zerox our permit issues at Phuntsholing (for applying next day for another permit to travel to Punakha) and at 1930 we could barely find only one shop in the clock tower area. Any way resigned to the fact that we are in a place having different way of life we returned to Hotel (whose restaurant closes at 2030 hrs). We finished our dinner by 2100 hrs.

      The best was yet to come. We all thought let us have ice cream. When we asked the reception staff about ice cream shop, they indicated that it is right opposite the hotel but it may be closing now. We rushed only to find out that it had closed a long time ago around 2000 hrs. That was eye opener. We never thereafter went by our standards and adopted local standards from the next day. That finished our day II in Bhutan.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Seven Day Bhutan Trip - A Travelogue

Seven Days Trip to Bhutan – A Report

Day I – 21 Nov 15 – Mumbai – Kolkata – Bagdogra – Phuntsholing

At Mumbai Airport

This day was essentially a day of non stop travel. We left home in Mumbai about 0400 and reached airport terminal T2, the most beautiful airport terminal in India, in time to board 0610 AI flight to Kolkata. There was a big chaos on the airport at Ai check in counters. We had done web check in and had boarding passes but we had to sill give baggage at Baggage drop off point.
First airline staffer that we asked told us to join normal queue. One other person gave us a vague answer but finally one other staff of AI guided us correctly. After all the formalities we boarded the flight and reached Kolkata by 0920.

At  Kolkata Airport

New terminal at Kolkata was modern (reminds me that their old terminal was a contrast) building with lots of Aero bridges and counters for check in. As for infrastructure it is at par with any other airport. When we came to departure area for our spice jet flight which was post 1300 hrs we were greeted by a triangular display of masks of Bengal.This colourful display was attraction to all the people reaching Departure (at least from arrival hall where this display was right on the route).

Masks of Bengal - Photo I

Mask of Bengal - Photo II

Masks of Bengal - Photo III

We are a Company - In Company of Masks
Baul Singers - Cut Out
Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport now boasts of modern infrastructure, wide area, large no of baggage Belts and check in bays. Few things stuck me. Firstly, there are no (at least I did not see) rest rooms between aero-bridge and baggage belt though one has to cover great distance to reach baggage belt.

Secondly while the building was modern, the Kolkata work culture of being laid back remained intact among airport staff. Luggage from AI flight took long time to come the belt. The airport still does not have inline x ray facility (understand it is still Work in Progresses). The staff speed is relaxed one unlike other airport.
New Terminal - Baggage Belt Area

New Terminal - Check In Area
Since we had nothing much to do, we waited for two of our relatives to join (they came to Kolkata by train). Once they came it was just freshening up, eating something and thereafter a wait for our outbound flight.

We boarded the fight on time. Our flight took off on time but had to circle around Bagdogra airport for some reason. Finally we got out of Airport by 1500. Got into waiting Innova and left for Phuntsholing. The move was quick. With a small break for tea, we made it to Phuntsholing in just 4 hrs and 30 min at 1930.

On the Road to Phuntsholing

The road from Bagdogra till crossing Siliguri town was busy and took maximum time. Few kilometers from Siliguri road widening work was progressing for about 30 km. That stretch was full of dust. During this journey  the road generally has the tea gardens through out the journey.  Also beyond about 50 km from Bagdogra it has forests on both sides with wild elephants who roam around the country freely and are dangerous.

In our trip too, after it became dark (at 1700 hrs) we saw rear and tail of an elephant, the last one from the herd which had just crossed the road and our driver stopped. Soon we heard trumpeting sound of angry elephant. Our driver said it they return or some more elephants cross; it may become very dangerous to be caught on the road. He just turned back and drove half a km to create space. After a few minutes wait and probing for sounds of elephant, when he felt safe, he resumed the journey. It was first encounter with the elephants in the wild and it looked scary.

Reaching Phuntsholing

We reached Phuntsholing at 1930 IST. The permit office for Bhutan permit (which recognizes only two documents for identification proof of  Indian citizens ie either Passport or Voter Id Card) closes at 1930 hrs (IST). Our permits thus would have to be made tomorrow.
First Glimpse of Phuntsholing
We checked in into Hotel Park.
room of Park Hotel

 It is a small but good hotel not far from Bhutan gate and the Buddhist Temple in the market. The room was comfortable. Here we got first taste of hassle free and comfortable life style of Bhutan. All the staff working in Phuntsholing  hotels mostly stays at Jaigaon, the Indian side town which is 500 odd meters from this hotel (understand cost of living at jaigaon is cheaper than Phuntsholing). The hotel staff has to go to Jaigaon in stipulated time hence the restaurant closes at 2130 IST (2200 Bhutan Time).
Dinning Hall - Park Hotel
We placed dinner order and went out for a stroll towards Bhutan gate. The roads were well laid out and very clean.  Very few people were on the road.  We did cross to Jaigaon and the contrast was instantly known. Jaigaon was full of people and usual Indian small town signs were all there, dirt, litter, dust, crowd etc.
Bhutan Gate from Phuntsholing Side

Artwork on Bhutan Gate
King of Bhutan's Photo on Bhutan Gate

Soon we returned to hotel had our dinner including a Bhutanese dry chicken dish called “Bja Sha Paa” and Ema Datsey (Chilies and Cheese) . Post dinner we  slept after about 45 minutes (a precaution against stomach upset particularly in hills though Phuntsholing is just 300 m above MSL) post dinner. After all, our day had started at 0400 at Mumbai and we had covered miles through two flights and one road journey. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Finished A Long Trip - Travelogue Will Follow

We recently embarked up on a long trip from 21st Nov till 4 Dec 15. The trip took us to Bhutan for 7 days, Darjeeling for 3 day and Konark and Puri for a day each.

It was sheer coincidence that we could be part of International Sand Art festival at Chandrabhaga Beach @ Konark and also Konark Dance Festival across The Konark temple premise.

The trip has been long and thus the travelogue is also expected to be in many parts as also it  is going to take time. Will post it in parts ASAP. Kindly be stand by for it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Katyar Kaljat Ghusali (The Dagger enters the Heart) Marathi Movie

This is a latest Marathi movie released on 12 Nov 15. Based on a very famous Marathi Musical (Sangeet) Drama of the same name, first produced in the year 1967  and still being regularly enacted. Continued staging of this drama points to few important things. they are, the drama has been very powerful and is able to capture this generation's imagination too. Secondly, the old time musicals of this kind are still extremely popular on Marathi stage.

Coming back to the movie, as for story line goes, any one who has seen the Drama knows the story but the director did make a few changes without touching the soul of the drama. Unlike a Natak (Drama which has limitation of a very small stage and use of sets to suit the scene), the medium of Movie helped the director to provide the required grandeur to the plot which is difficult (not impossible) to be done using sets (the canvas has got infinitely stretched for the director of the movie to use it in a better manner).

Thus the film, despite having a plot which has weathered many years, is a must watch. May it be for music which is mesmerizing or for acting as it has superb acting by all, Shankar Mahadevan, Sachin, Subodh Bhave, Mrinmayi Deshpande and Amruta Khanvilkar. Some of the the songs which were written many years ago but sung by newer singers are equally likable. In fact as the movie has DNA of Sangeet Natak, it has a total of 17 pieces of Indian Classical music (including one Kawwali) however only 7 out of these 17 seem to be from original Natak. To the credit of the song writers, singers and music directors of this film, all the songs merge well in to the plat, complement the plot and are treat to the listeners.

The original plot of the Sangeet ' Katyar Kaljat Ghusali' is gripping, fast moving and extra ordinary and this movie also retains the same character in its narrative.

It is must watch movie. But if people having mother tongue other than Marathi think 'what use it is to them as they won't understand the movie', let me tell them two things. First this is one movie which is watched by eyes and heard by heart as classical music is beyond language and the base of the movie deals with human emotions which are also beyond language and most importantly the movie has English Sub titles so all people can comprehend.

I can also tell you one more thing. My son has the capability of sleeping through best of the movie and he is not an expert in Marathi. He did not take a wink in this movie so I am sure it is worth watch for every one. Don't miss the movie.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Mumbai - Murud Harnai Trip - Part 3 (Final part)

Day 2 - 03 Oct 2015

Harnai Beach.

Morning of 03 Oct was for enjoying Harnai beach. We were well prepared with folding canvas chairs (called directors chair in film industry), beach umbrella and dresses for taking dip in water of Arabian Sea. We took the car on to the beach (it gave us scare for few minutes at a location where we got a feeling that the Tyre were sinking however we remained safe).

Normally we like to walk down the beach and that is possibly the best that can be done on a beach but we had an issue with one of the member in the family who could not walk long distance hence the car on the beach.

This beach is a long one starting from Harnai and going through Murud and then to Karde. It cannot be called a white sand beach but Harnai side was clean and also less crowded. We set up our camp with chairs and beach umbrella opened and then took the plunge in to the clean water of the beach.

All Set to Storm the Beach

Our Beach Camp
Next one hour and half was pure fun. It is difficult to resist the lure of a beach and my wife who did not want to venture in to the water was also in to it soon and enjoying waves lashing onto her face.

The Plunge

Photographing marine animals and insects activity on the beach also had its fun. Very tiny crabs making such wonderful symmetrical patterns to star fish, it was a nice experience.

Star Fish with Star Feet

Star Fish
Tiny Carbs and their Artwork

Another marine Life

Finally we reluctantly came out of the water. Dried ourselves as much as we could and reached the Home Stay. After a quick bath and breakfast, we checked out and went to Shri Durga Devi Temple. Our Kuldevi (family deity) and prime reason for us to be at Murud. But before that we spent sometime at the View Point (Sunset point) on Harnai bypass (road between Anjarle and Murud over the hill).

Views  from View Point

Shri Durga Devi Temple.

It is an old temple with wooden columns and beams. There are beautiful and colourful carving on these columns and beams. The serenity and peace of this temple is unparalleled. The Pandit of the temple shares our family name (after all it is our family deity). We had darshans, did Oaty (Goad Bharai) of the Devi Maa (again a family tradition) and asked for her blessing.

Coming to this temple built with lot of wooden columns and beams in original Konkan style has been a source of peace and tranquility to my mind. Spending some time here has always been something that I am ready to do any day.

The Lunch.

The lunch was at Sudhir Shinde’s homely hotel where it is better to give prior order for your food. The place is called Sai Krupa and it is two lanes short of Shri Durga Devi Temple on the left as one faces. He is so well known that any body and every body in Murud can direct you there. His specialty is sea food and very tasty one at that, though veg food too is available. And the rates, very moderate, 170 odd rupees for a thali with Curry or fried fish or prawns.

Return Journey and Discovery of Better Route.

Post lunch, it was time to head back to Mumbai. This time we took conscious decision to head for Dapoli. From Dapoli we took SH 102 to Mandangad. Sh 272 from Mandangad to Malikondavani and then SH 99 to Goregaon and to Goa Highway. Balance journey was on the same route as onward journey ie Goa Highway to Pali - Khopoli Road and then to Pune Mumbai Expressway till Mumbai. Eastern freeway after that and finally home.

The SH 102, Sh 272 and SH 99 combination really turned out to be good and are recommended instead of SH 103, SH 102, SH 272 and SH 100 combo that take one to Goa highway at Tol Phata.

The landscape of Konkan is sheer beauty. The beaches are fabulous and the food very enjoyable. Move out of your house and make a part adventure part fun and part religious Journey to Konkan. It is going to be very rewarding.

Recommended Route

And finally, the beauty of a Bullock Cart on a beach is still an object to behold

Saturday, October 17, 2015

My Mumbai - Murud Harnai Trip - Part II

Day One - 02 Oct 15 - Continued

Comments about the drive and the Road Conditions. 

It was just a 6 hrs 30 min of drive time (with 1 hr 45 min spent for Breakfast and darshans of Ballaleshwar). E way is E way. Goa Highway was fine but the state and isolation from civilisation on SH 102 and 103 had made my wife very edgy and rightfully so. One can travel on this route once to experience the beauty of the surroundings of the drive but let your car be mechanically sound and I do not recommend this route for Solo car (like we did.) A group of two or more cars and if willing to take this road may be OK. It is recommended for safety (Konkan is very safe for individuals, it is just the breakdown that I am hinting at) and also to break the isolation by taking one odd break on the way.

Route Not Recommended

At Harnai

After reaching the Home Stay, we just inquired if car can come in (and it could) and went for lunch (as we had not asked the Home Stay to cook lunch for us) at Nisarga restaurant. We were hungry and ordered fried prawns, fish curry and dal tadka with Rice Bhakari (corse roti). We liked only fried prawns and not other items. The location of the place and the sitting is beautiful but we would not recommend this place. One more traveler staying at home stay later shared our views on this place.

Murud Beach.

Post lunch we wanted to explore Murud beach. We went to Silver Sand resort, parked our car and went to the beach. We did not realise that there is a way to beach where car can be brought. That way is next to famous Durga Devi temple. We explored the beach. There were lot of people frolicking into water and few enjoying beach quad bikes and horse carts. Very few stalls at beach were doing roaring business. It was fun to watch all these activities. After spending over one and half hour we decided to have some tea at one of those stalls. In the interim I decided to get my car to beach.

Murud Beach Photos

The Beach

Pregnant Clouds on the Beach ready to Deliver Rain

Golden Every Where

Framed Clouds

As I got my car and parked it on the beach, torrential rain (a typical Konkan phenomenon) started. Luckily we had come geared up with umbrella for all and we could save ourselves. One notable feature was that water sports had not yet started on the beach. Hence we decided to reduce our stay by one and return to Mumbai the next day.

We had already tied up for dinner at home stay. We reached Ashiyana Home Stay at about 1930 hrs and settled down in an AC room.

About Home Stay.

The whole Harnai – Murud _ Karde coast is dotted with hotels, resorts and Home Stays. We stumbled upon Ashiyana during the search on internet. Ashiyana Home Stay Run by Dr Z Dalvi, a Unani Medical Doctor and his wife (who seemed to us the force behind this venture) is on Harnai - Palande main road. It is just about 20 meters from the main road. It may appear that cars can’t reach the home stay but reality is that cars can reach and considerable numbers can be accommodated in their compound.

The Doctor and his family stays on the ground floor and the guest rooms are on first floor. It has four rooms (two AC and two non AC) and a common hall which has two four seat dinning tables. All rooms have attached toilets. The rooms in this home stay are very neat and clean with good beds and clean linen. Towels are also provided if required. The bathrooms also are very clean, functional, have western seats, ample water and hot water is available. It was pleasant surprise to be in a neat and clean Home Stay with modern facilities. It was evident that the owners take pride in providing comforts to their guests.

The dinner was simple vegetarian fare with Konkani style of cooking. It was tasty, well cooked and enjoyable. The clean room, clean toilet and very nice food hooked us to this place. Problem that we faced was that Mahavitran (the Maharashtra electricity distribution co) had either switched off the supply or it had tripped due to torrential rains and thunder activity (event that is a common occurrence in this belt and faced by all resorts and home stays).

The home stay had their inverter so light and fan were available. We were worried about length of power cut and possibility of inverter batteries draining out but soon they switched on generator to feed fan, light and also to charge the inverter. The supply returned at about midnight and then we could switch on the AC.

Morning breakfast of Upama and Poha also was equally enjoyable. We found this place very good and the rates reasonable.

Home Stay Photos

Friday, October 9, 2015

What a Come Back - Jazbaa

Just watched Jazbaa. It is come back movie of Aishvarya Rai and she also is one of the producer. It has a very unusual story and gripping narrative. It has a very unpredictable kind of story line and very firm editing. The movie keeps you glued to the screen and on the edge of your seat.

I can only say, What a come back for Aishvarya Rai Bachaan. She has looked fabulous and acted extremely well. Irfan Khan is a perfect co star. he is performer par excellence is proved yet again.The movie is a beautiful one and is "don't miss"type of movie. Watch it for Irfan and his great acting as also Aishvarya's acting and beauty.

And for the suspense in the movie! I won't tell you. Go and see for yourself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Phone Call in time would have Saved a Life

About two weeks ago one of my friend had a tragic event. His young son committed suicide, while being in a collage, in his hostel. The reason as determined by Police was academic pressure.

The boy had been relegated  for poor attendance and it is said that he was yet again on the notice for relegation for poor attendance. I wondered, what could be such a pressure that made the young talented and smart boy to take such a drastic step.

Agree that the boy felt pressurized due to relegation, may be there were sibling comparisons (with another sibling of his) by relatives, may be he felt it impossible to face his parents with the news of yet another impending relegation. The reason that tripped his mind may known to the poor soul who has departed.

It is said that when one is angry he / she should not act immediately, rather count till 100 and then if the anger still persists, may be one can act / react. May be similar (not the same) act would work for restless souls thinking of such a drastic step. That is, that person should give himself / herself about 12 hours to think, rather rethink over his / her situation. Even better is to make a phone call and let out all his / her feelings, accumulated and building up like a pressure cooker whose pressure release is stuck, to parents or one of the parent to whom this person is close. In a pressure cooker when whistle gets stuck, it is the safety valve that saves the day. Statistically, the safety valve has extremely low failure rate and almost always works.

May be the phone call made at such a juncture is that safety valve that blows away pressure and saves the precious life. Even this may fail but chances of failure are extremely low as it also creates a window of diversion for the mind and  helps in rationalizing the thoughts.

If only the child had made a phone call and talked to some one about his predicament, may be a life would have got saved. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Very Organised Ganapati Visarjan

Today is 5th of Ganapati Festival. Most families having Ganapati generally have Visarjan of Lord Ganapati on this (5th day). While it is day of festivities, convergence of large no of families at locations around Mumbai for Visarjan generally result in chaos despite best efforts of Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation, political parties and volunteers.

When I came down to Prabhadevi for Visarjan of our family Ganapati we had Mayor's bungalow at Shivaji Park in our mind. The crowd and the traffic was deterring us. Then there was a change of plan. Instead of Shivaji Park we decided to go to Chavanni Gully (चवन्नी गल्ली) a offshoot from Prabhadevi Road. I understand this arrangement of artificial pond for Ganapati Visarjan has been in existence for three years.

It turned out to be in opposite direction from the flow of crowd  from our house. So the Kilometer long drive was smooth. From Prabhadevi Road when we turned in into Chavanni Gully what a pleasant surprise it was. It a a small ground with adequate parking, large number of volunteers to regulate people, fabulous artificial pond and volunteers to do Visarjan. Good crowd management,  excellent arrangements for Aarti of Lord Ganapati and Visarjan.

Post Visarjan the devotees were to go to reception where a certificate of eco friendly Visarjan in artificial pond, Prasad of Siddhi Vinayak Temple and surprise surprise, boiling hot Vada Pav,  that too ten of them. What a fabulous farewell to Lord Ganapati it turned out to be.

Thanks are due to Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and scores of Volunteers for having such organised and smooth arrangements for bidding good bye to dear guest Lord Ganapati. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Government Purchase System, A False Villain

It is a common comment that one hears that all stuff that govt buys is generally bad. Logic behind such sweeping statement is that when things are bought through lowest bid, how can it be good. Some people also say that even the soldiers are required to fight with the weapons purchased from L1 (lowest price) vendor.

Are such statements true? Are they Untrue? there is no definite answer. Such statements may be true in some cases and not true in most cases. I would like to put forth my argument to bring out that just because the stores items (including advance equipment for armed forces), machines, etc are bought following tendering process where L1 vendor supplies the items, they can not be substandard unless some person has compromised the process.

Let us look at it as to why? Everything that is bought is based on detailed Specification drawn out by the user. It is thus plain that if things are bought on strict specifications they have to be good even if at lowest cost.

Also when important items are bought they are generally bought on two bid system called technical
 bid, qualifying the vendors and the stores and financial bid,  where bids of vendors who qualify on technical bid alone are opened, a sure method to ensure quality of both stores and vendors.

In some cases one additional step of prequalification of vendors can be done.

Another method to ensure only serious vendors can quote is giving tender documents to only few vendors using Limited Tender method.

Only after all this is ensured the lowest bidder is asked to supply the store. In such a scenario substandard items can come in only and only if the process is compromised by an insider. In that case the system is compromised. Even when this system is good,  once compromised in becomes bad.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Master stroke by India - NSA Talks with Pakistan

NSA level talks between India n Pakistan are scheduled on 23 / 24 Aug at New Delhi. When it was felt that they are going to happen in smooth environment, Pakistan strategists played there hand. They scheduled a reception for Pak NSA (nothing unusual about it)  and invited Hyriyat leaders for the reception.

I am sure it foxed  everyone here. It was like the famous Logical Fallacy, in which a loaded question is asked, "Have you stopped beating your wife". Either way the answer is given, you are guilty. If you said yes, you are guilty of beating her in the past and if the answer it  no, then you still continue to beat your wife.

Indians situation was the same. If you call off the talks on the issue of invite, you are guilty. If you don't you are still guilty of bowing to neighbours despite their acts.

And then  came the master stroke today morning. The govt did not object to the invite by Pak nor it called off the talk. It just did what is legitimately theirs, just put all the Hyriyat people under house arrest. As such many hardliners among them had already committed many things deserving a crackdown.

Now if the talks are called off by Pakistan because these people, who were invited have been arrested they are guilty and if the talks go ahead,  it is good for us. Tables turned and diplomatic victory for the country ensured.

There seems to be a Chanakya within the Foreign Policy establishment of the government or some one is doing serious reading of Kautilya's Arthashashtra. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Drishyam - A Well Orchestrated Drama

Drishyam is a remake of malayalam film of same name (source - Wikipedia). The lead cast is Tabbu and Ajay Devgan while supporting cast is Shriya Saran, Rajat Kapoor, Issita Dutta and Mrinal Jadhav.

The story is all about very basic human nature of protecting own family at any cost. It starts with a accidental death and revolves around investigation of that death. Police have reasons to suspect and the suspect has reasons to counter every move of the police.

The end result is very powerful acting by Ajay Devgan and Tabbu. They have done full justice to their acts and they have been well supported by the balance cast. The story grips you and keeps you glued to your seat waiting for 'what next'. At very few places it looks that the story is dragging but otherwise it is fast paced story of moves and counter moves.

As is my practice, I would not divulge much about the story in my review. I will only aid in letting the specialties of the movie as done above.

The movie is worth for its plot and the acting of Tabbu and Ajay Devgan. Recommend it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Preeti's blog. This time Srinagar - Leh Drive

Preeti is vocal again on her blog with a new post. The road from Srinagar to Leh (NH 1D) is well weathered and traveled. But encapsulating a routine journey (I must admit it is not just routine, there are few attractions too) in to a beautiful blog with stunning photos is what she has achieved. Read on, here is the link- http://travel-o-graphy.blogspot.in/2015/08/drive-from-srinagar-to-leh-on-nh-1d.html

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Yakub Hanging - Are we a Confused Nation as Some Pretend to Think

Yakub Memon , a convict of 1993 Mumbai serial Blasts (important to note) was hanged to death today. The punishment was executed after a prolonged legal process which went through its full process of appeals and review petitions. I will not go into the merit of if he was guilty or not because highest court of land has answered that question.

I will only look at the utterances that happened before and after the event. It appears to me that on the name of Yakub people are trying to create various smoke screens and settle their own scores or further their own objectives.

Before the sentence was executed many attempted to say that this is being done to him as he is Muslim!  From where religion comes in this case? So should we believe, by this crude logic, that Nirbhaya Accused will not be punished because they are not Muslims? The statistics shows that from among the prisoners hanged for their crime in India from its independence; only about 8% were Muslims. If about 20 % population of India follows Islam, why is that percentage not tallying with % of convicts from that religion being hanged. And if this nation is biased against followers of Islam, the % of convicts following Islam should have been more than their % in Indian population.

Another argument was, that  he is being hanged in a hurry without giving him adequate opportunity. He was arrested in 1994. Are 21 years a short time? His trial went through full process of Special TADA court, which sentenced him to death in 2007, high court, supreme court and was followed with all kind of appeals and mercy petitions. Even the Death warrant was signed three months ago. Did we see any short cuts or shoddiness in the process? Then why this argument? In our country some people have Compulsive Obsessive Disorder (COD) of trying to court controversy to somehow stay in the limelight all times.

Yet one more argument was when we hanged him, why not hang Sadhvi Pragya and Col Purohit? Any sane person having basic knowledge of law knows that if a person is to be hanged, that person needs to be convicted first. Unfortunately some of our prime time anchors, some politicians dyed in parochial colours and some so called Civil Society (are they really civil?) don’t seem to have that basic knowledge. In case of Memon, he was convicted and exhausted all legal options. In case of Sadhvi Pragya and Col Purohit also if they are convicted and sentenced to death, they should be hanged. But do these people know simple fact that in 2008 Malegaon blast case they were charged sheeted in 2013 under MCOCA by NIA and the charge sheet was thrown out by Supreme Court in 2015. So when there is not even a basic charge sheet, just because few of our so called high fliers say so, can they be hanged!

Post execution of the sentence, the defence lawyer for Memon had the cheeks to call the today morning's judgement of Supreme Court a 'Tragic Error' by Supreme Court. So here is a lawyer who has the power and the wisdom to judge the Supreme Court of this Country. Shouldn't he be awarded a Padma Series award for excellence of his legal knowledge? I am sure with such caliber available in this country, we will be delivered many more instant judgements on the Judgements of the Supreme Court in days to come.

A shining gem came from a person who mostly appears sane in his views. Here is a man who was praised by the nation for his debating skills. Then came his statement that Parliament should be allowed to function and not disrupted. As correct his views may be but they went against the grain of the thought of the Queen of the Party. He was reprimanded very badly by her. He had to recover from this fall from grace. It looks that he choose this event to achieve this objective of coming back in favour of the boss of his party.

So here come great Gems from him. 'Cold Blooded Execution has never prevented terror attack' says this Vidwan. So for him, a legally awarded death sentence has become a Cold Blooded Execution? I had heard of cold blooded murder. I had also heard of cold blooded executions by ISIS. He calls execution (as in execution of a task) of legitimate death sentence to a guilty a ‘Cold blooded execution’ by Indian State! He thinks India is a Banana Republic? Such an insult to this great nation?

And then there is a man in this nation with chronic "Foot in Mouth Disease" who has been putting his foot in his mouth with a daily regularity and impunity. A trial of Yakub which lasted for 21 years is the urgency shown by this government in hanging Memon in terror case. Therefore, he demands that similar (laughing out Loud or LOL) urgency must be shown in all terror cases irrespective of religion. To quote him verbatim, “exemplary urgency and commitment” shown by the “government and judiciary” in Yakub Memon case will also be displayed in all cases of terror, irrespective of the religion of the accused”. I only wonder is there a cure for Mental bankruptcy?

I can only say that a smoke screen is being created either intentionally or collectively but unintentionally by some of the people, who have a habit to think sole claim to copy-right to intellect is only theirs, to pretend that they are right in having these putrid views and the nation is wrong. ARE WE REALLY AS CONFUSED AS THEY TRY TO MAKE US LOOK LIKE. Hope their false notions get right sooner than later.

“exemplary urgency and commitment” shown by the “government and judiciary” in Yakub Memon case will also be displayed in all cases of terror, irrespective of the religion of the accused. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/show-same-urgency-in-other-terror-cases-digvijaya-singh-on-yakub-memons-hanging/#sthash.KvrUSJp0.dpuf
“exemplary urgency and commitment” shown by the “government and judiciary” in Yakub Memon case will also be displayed in all cases of terror, irrespective of the religion of the accused. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/show-same-urgency-in-other-terror-cases-digvijaya-singh-on-yakub-memons-hanging/#sthash.KvrUSJp0.dpuf
“exemplary urgency and commitment” shown by the “government and judiciary” in Yakub Memon case will also be displayed in all cases of terror, irrespective of the religion of the accused. - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/show-same-urgency-in-other-terror-cases-digvijaya-singh-on-yakub-memons-hanging/#sthash.KvrUSJp0.dpuf

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Can We do this for People Around Us

Let me start with a disclaimer. Whatever I write is with a view to bring out a way in which we can help people secure their future around us and not to canvass about the schemes of the Union government about which I would talk in this post. I must admit though that in my personal opinion, I find them very good.

We, the people having good houses to live and reasonable (as per individual scale because what is reasonable income for me may not be reasonable for an industrialist) income every month are very fortunate people and fall in top few percent people in this country. We have capacity and knowledge to subscribe to various insurance schemes, pension schemes and also insurance cum pension schemes.

But we do have around us, many people who serve us dutifully and sincerely, Dhobis, Watchmen, Gardeners, Street vendors, delivery boys and such umpteen other people who neither have knowledge nor financial might to afford such schemes.

One thing is almost assured. All of them have a bank account, regular one or 'Jan Dhan Yojana' one. Also all of them are likely to have Aadhar card.

If we all advice two to three individuals (forgot the Kam wali in previous paragraph) to subscribe to the recently launched govt schemes for Accident insurance, Life Insurance and Pension, rather, get after them till they do so, we are going to do a great service to human beings around us without spending a paisa from our pocket.

Let us see the schemes (required because it is us who will have to provide information about these schemes to them).

In the Accident insurance scheme called Pradhan Mantri (and not named after an individual) Suraksha Beema Yojana (Prime Ministers Security Insurance Scheme) which has been launched recently, an individual authorizes his bank to auto debit Rs 12 per year to subscribe to this scheme. The person also gives name of a nominee. In the event of accident the person's nominee gets Rs Two Lakh on death. On disability due to accident there are differential rates of payment.

The biggest risk that Auto Drivers, Rickshaw Pullers, Cyclists, etc face is road accident and thus far they are cover less against accident and most are the sole bread earners for the family. Subscription of Rs 12 per year will give a Rs Two Lakh cover to the individual. Details of the scheme can be read on internet (including http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/government/pradhan-mantri-suraksha-bima-yojana-pmsby-an-accidental-insurance-scheme).

In yet another scheme launched on very same day called Prashan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Beema Yojana (a Life insurance scheme), a subscription of Rs 330 per year will get the insured person a life cover of RsTwo Lakh  in event of death under any eventuality. The process is similar and is completed with the help of individual's bankers. Some details can be read at http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/india/pradhan-mantri-jeevan-jyoti-bima-yojana-ensuring-your-future.

These two schemes costing Rs 342 per year would provide an insurance cover of Four lakh in case of death of insured or two lakh or part thereof in case of an accident resulting in disability. What better security a family can have. I would not like to get in to a debate on value of two lakh or four lakh today or ten years hence. Remember these persons are cover less at the moment and the assurance they have today is Rs ZERO (immortal figure which will have the same value after hundreds of years), in there case, some cover is better than none. In a thirty year span, an individual would have paid just Rs 9860 to acquire this cover.

Another important scheme is Atal Pension Yojana. The eligibility is age between 20 and 40 year. Presuming that a 30 year old person wants Rs 5000 PM pension after the age of 60, the person has to pay Rs 577 pm for 10 years that comes to just Rs 69240 in that period. He would have nearly recovered the invested money in first year of pension itself. some details are at http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/government/atal-pension-yojana-for-social-security-in-india.

Again I would not get in to debate of this amount would become double in seven or eight years if invested etc. If these people could invest and had that kind of spare money, they would have done so.

My objective of writing this blog is to bring to the notice of my friends and readers these schemes and request them to educate one or two people around them who are less fortunate than us. This will serve two purpose, one these people can avail them and provide some security to themselves and to the future of their families and second, we get to serve humanity without spending any money (just spend some talk and little time to talk).

As for me, I could motivate three or four people (partially, some took one scheme, some two and one odd all three) to subscribe to one or more schemes.