Archive for August, 2015


Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

(Khalil Gibran)

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Here is an inspiring narrative covering the Milk Revolution of India. When innovation meets conviction and guts, the society benefits.

In case you wish to read a brief on Amul, here is yet another utterly butterly delicious post that you may like:



A Writer's Notebook.

Amul has instant recall in our minds – images of the cute Amul moppet girl, their priceless topical ads, Amul butter, Amul milk, Taste of India, all come instantly to our notice. We don’t quite realize the story within which would have images of – Dr. Verghese Kurien, White Revolution, Operation Flood, NDDB, GCMMF, milk co-operative movement, milk movie Manthan, etc.

The book (I too had a dream) is less of an autobiography – fleeting personal details are mentioned – but it is a great narrative of India’s milk revolution. From a country struggling with milk production and per capita consumption, a great journey has been covered wherein we are now the second largest milk producers in the world and have significantly improved on consumption per capita as well.

Dr. Kurien has set the narrative but it has been scribed by Ms. Gouri Salvi. It provides great insight into India’s…

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When members of the next generation of a family, born in First World countries like Norway and Switzerland, visit their roots in a Third World country like India, the poor souls are left clueless at times. Often, much hilarity ensues, as they try to cope with the realities of day-to-day life in such a delightful country as ours.

The best countries to be born in

Some time back, The Economic Intelligence Unit had compiled an index onEU Flag image the best places to be born in 2013. As many as 80 countries had been ranked on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 standing for ideal living conditions. The rank took into account 11 indicators, like crime, trust in public institutions, health infrastructure, family life, besides fixed factors such as geography.

As per this reckoning, Switzerland was at the top, scoring 8.22. Norway was ranked number 3, scoring 8.09. Amongst the top 10 were not only Sweden (rank 4, score 8.02), Denmark (rank 5, score 8.01) and Netherlands (rank 8, score 7.94), but also Australia (rank 2, score 8.12), Singapore (rank 6, score 8.00), New Zealand (rank 7, score 7.95), Canada (rank 9, score 7.81) and Hong Kong (rank 10, score 7.80). Incidentally, India was then ranked 66, with a score of 5.67.

Hard core patriots in India may derive some comfort from the fact that Russia was ranked at 72 (score 5.54), Pakistan at 75 (score 5.17) and Bangladesh at 77 (score 5.07).

The side effects of a visit to India

What do such kids discover when they visit their roots in India?

First off, there are objects which invite wonderment.

A ceiling fan sounds like an alien object. A manually driven rickshaw is looked The horse carriages I saw in the museum were larger, grander version of this cycle rickshaw.at with unmasked curiosity. An auto rickshaw evokes a sense of novelty. A horse-driven Tonga comes in for ardent admiration. A bullock-cart gets viewed with wide-eyed wonder.

Insects and reptiles like cockroaches, lizards, ants, spiders, snails and worms of all sizes and shapes come in for close scrutiny. So do creatures of all kinds, whether bovine or porcine, especially when found exercising their democratic rights on Indian roads. Flying objects – whether unidentifiable or otherwise – get looked up to with a sense of awe and respect. Squirrels and chameleons generate much merriment.

A splash in the tropical rains uplifts the tender souls. Jumps into puddles on



the streets generate much excitement. The seagulls flapping about their sonorous wings leave them mesmerized. The wavering reflection of a pale yellow uprising moon on the pristine waters of the Bay of Bengal makes them attain a heavenly bliss.

Kolams outside homes arouse their curiosity. A classical dance performance leaves them spell-bound. Depending upon their own areas of interest, a keen desire to learn some form of fine art or a cultural activity gets enshrined.

An encounter with Lakshmi, the famous temple elephant of Pondicherry, invigorates them no end. A dip in the sea comes about as a blissful experience. A visit to the Planetarium and the Science Centre proves to be highly instructive.

The Incredible India

Then there are things which invoke ridicule and pity.

A power cut which disrupts a Tom and Jerry show on TV invites a stridentPGW Tom and Jerry protest and needs to be explained. When a beggar gets sighted, or when the vehicle passes a hut by the road side, the parents get called upon to explain the rationale of peaceful co-existence of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ of Indian society.

The absence of dustbins ready to receive the wrapper of a chocolate arouses curiosity. The garbage, as well as the generally poor civic sense, invites an adverse comment. Smelly trains and railway stations get negative rankings.

The absence of courtesy and discipline on the roads and the density of vehiclesKrishna_Arjuna_Gita on our roads, all come in for sharp criticism. To ensure parking space near a favourite ice cream joint, divine intervention is prayed for.

Crossing a road is a trying experience. Use of public toilets, if any are available, leaves their souls in torment. A rat feasting on a dead bird lying on the road side comes across as a traumatic sight, explained with great difficulty by an accompanying adult by invoking the teachings of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

Within the confines of a home, unquestioned obedience on part of the juniors in the family causes some surprise and amusement. The rights of the younger ones – to decide which flavour of ice cream to have for dinner – can simply not get curtailed. This is an experience which is quite alien to their value system.

Expansion of the family nucleus

Other than feasting on Indian delicacies, the pampering by all seniors theyRamayana 1 come in contact with leaves them assured and self-confident. A sense of belongingness comes about. Stories from scriptures fascinate them. Narrations of the lives of great men and women of the country leave them awestruck.

They also end up imbibing some values of a joint family system. Sharing, caring, a sense of responsibility towards juniors and a healthy regard for the elderly gets implanted in their thought processes.

The twin advantage

This generation has a unique twin advantage – that of having a Western mind and an Eastern heart. Their analytical abilities are getting nurtured in a more scientific environment, while their hearts carry the seeds of compassion, empathy and love. From their working parent, they imbibe a sense of professionalism in whatever they do. Through their folks back home, they understand the importance of togetherness and team work.

A truly balanced human being they are apt to make. Unknown to them, they take humanity further on its path of evolution.

(Photograph of cycle rickshaw courtesy http://www.shabnamphoto.wordpress.com; link: http://shabnamphoto.com/2014/10/28/pondicherry-a-certain-sense-of-gallic-glory-gone-by)

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Habitually late for work? What are the excuses you normally come up with? Are there special tactics to be adopted to win over in a potentially embarrassing situation?

P G Wodehouse is not about humour alone. He also has tips on such mundane affairs.

Here is yet another delectable post from Plumtopia. Pray that your obnoxious boss does not get to read it.


PSmith In The CityAs he stood near the doorway, one or two panting figures rushed up the steps, and flung themselves at a large book which stood on the counter near the door. Mike was to come to know this book well.

Psmith in the City

One of the minor curses of my day-to-day existence is being habitually late for work — not through personal tardiness, I hasten to add. Mine is not the life of Joss Weatherby (Quick Service), who oversleeps after late nights at the gambling table, or Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (Barmy in Wonderland) who goes on toots with Mervyn Potter. No, I go to bed at an early hour and rise regularly at 5.00am to write.

Dragging myself away from writing is a struggle — I sympathise with Nicholas Jules St Xavier Auguste, Marquis de Maufringneuse et Valerie-Moberanne (French Leave) who cannot drag himself from…

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Horace Prosser (of ‘The Fat of the Land’ fame) now has competition – from the Empress of Blandings!

Here is a weighty composition from Idyll Dreams of an Idle Fellow that you are sure to relish.

Idyll Dreams of an Idle Fellow

blandingsThe over-sizedempress Plum product
Written in response to a lead…. which overweight Wodehouse character would I like to be..?…

Honoria chucked a riddle at me
Which Plum creature would I like to be?
The only stipulation I need to watch
Is this denizen of Plumsville must be fond of starch
I wracked the excuse I have for a mind
Stout Plum creations, in order to find
But all those large forms that occurred to me
Were characters I would hate to be
Stinker Pyke….. the name says it all!
Claude Pott… is like creatures that crawl
R Jones ….is the creepiest spy
Bickersdyke….was Red in view and eye
The Duke of Dunstable is a Royal ass!
The efficient Baxter….I will gladly pass
It looks like Plum does not agree,
With those fellow beings, on an eating spree
But no! There’s Beach! He breaks the scale
Buttling, however, is beyond my…

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On the occasion of India’s Independence Day, our thoughts invariably turn to the Common Man!


R K Laxman Common Man

Happy are they who in this chaos of things
With the feet of time chasing them in the rear,
Continue to be Very Ignorable Persons
Living modestly, armed only with hope, doubt and fear.

In this uncertain and ambiguous world
Full of pompous VIPs of a different kind,
Happy are they, anchored on fixed belief
Immense wealth they do not need to mind.

Drunken driving they dare not indulge into
Lest the long arms of law catch up with them,
Disproportionate assets not to worry about
The poverty in their lives being the only gem.

They continue to chug along eking out a living
Facing the harsh slings and arrows of Fate,
Happy, contented, smiling, enjoying togetherness
Nurturing their family along with a soul mate.

Lining up for public facilities they are used to,
But they sleep well, relishing the small joys of life
They dream big for their younger…

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How have our dream merchants handled the issue of organ donation? Have they done justice to the emotions of the donor as well as the recipients? Has this aspect of our lives received due attention on the silver screen?

Here are some Bollywood movies which readily spring to one’s mind in this context.


Movie Anuraag(1972; Director Shakti Samanta)

A blind sculptor receives the eyes of a young boy suffering from terminal cancer. For the first time in her life, she is able to see.

Dard ka Rishta

Movie Dard_Ka_Rishta(1982; Director Sunil Dutt)

A young girl gets diagnosed with leukemia. To cure her cancer, she must have a bone marrow transplant from a donor with matching blood group and genes. A foster-brother is found to have a perfect match and he donates the marrow, thereby saving her life.


Movie Saaheb_poster(1985; Director Anil Ganguly)

Saaheb is the black sheep of the family – unemployed & uneducated. He is only interested in playing football. When the family needs funds to get his sister married, he donates a kidney of his to raise the money.

The Ship of Theseus

Movie Ship_of_Theseus(2013; Anand Gandhi)

The movie has three sub-plots. A visually impaired and celebrated Egyptian photographer undergoes a cornea transplant but has trouble adjusting to her newfound sense of sight and is dissatisfied with her resulting photography. An erudite monk is diagnosed with liver cirrhosis but continues to be reluctant towards medication. A young Indian stockbroker receives a new kidney. He learns of a case of organ theft involving a poor bricklayer, and tries to get him either a large financial settlement or both his kidneys back.

Of course, the above list does not include plain blood donation or transfusion. Many movies strike an emotional chord, with estranged sons or relatives donating their blood either to a yet-to-be-discovered mother or to someone from their arch enemy’s camp.

Unless one has missed out on many others, one finds very few movies which have touched upon the critical issue of organ donation. Given the persuasive powers of cinema, this is a pity indeed.

We live in an era when socially and politically relevant messages get couched in a commercial wrapper, embellished with a dash of humour and served piping hot to the audience. Movies like Chak de! India, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, 3 Idiots, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Drishyam – to mention only a few – show us that innovation in script writing is never in short supply.

One hopes that imaginative directors, producers and script writers would recognize the urgent need for promoting organ donation and come up with more movies which touch upon this vital subject.

(Published on the occasion of Organ Donation Day; Inputs from Sanjana are gratefully acknowledged)

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Dinner date with Plum

What ho! Here is a juicy post from Neha Dsouza which the residents of Plumsville may like.


It was quarter past seven and my date was late. I grew anxious; would he not show up? The waiter hovered around my table.
“Your order, ma’am?” he asked me for the third time.
“Il have tea and butter cookies”, said I
That got rid of him, temporarily.
I checked my watch, it was nearly half past seven. I concluded that my date had been hit by a bus. I decided to violate my code of womanly indifference and give him a call. It rang several times with no positive outcome. My date had been hit by a bus and the impact had dislodged his phone from his grip, undoubtedly.
My phone grunted, I received a text message. It was from my date. “Stuck at work, won’t make it, sorry”.
I sighed. I didn’t know him well, so my heart didn’t shatter all over the coffee shop floor. Neither did the song “I will survive” play in my head. I was all right, a little let down that’s all.
I decided to treat myself to the tea and cookies.

My mind wandered and my thoughts were all scattered when an old man plopped into the chair in front of me and flashed a broad smile.
He may have been somewhere in his mid-forties. To me that was old because I was, back then, merely twenty two.

“Do I know you?” I asked, without sounding too alarmed.
“Oh, don’t you?” He asked
“Are you Varun Sharma?” I asked half knowing he wasn’t.

He was a foreigner, most likely a Brit. His skin was pale and white, he had a receding hairline and a soft voice.
“Certainly not”
“What is your name?” I asked
“It is odd isn’t it? To imagine that loving parents would name the object of their sexual labour as Plum” said he
“Surely it’s the full form for something” I asked
“Yes, Pelham”
“What ho” said he
I was stunned at this revelation.
The man was British, his accent gave away his origins, his clothing was outdated, something that may have been in vogue in the seventies. Could he be? No!
“What is your surname?” I asked.
“Wodehouse, pronounced as Wode-house and not Wood house” he replied.
I sank further into my chair. “Surely this is a dream?” I asked.
“No, I’m really here”
“But aren’t you dead?”
He flinched. “Yes I passed away sometime back”
“In your nineties, but you look 40”
“Yes because the soul doesn’t age, only the body does. I’m a soulfully forty something”
“But you are deceased?”
“Then how are you here?”
“Well you’ve been berating at the sky, day after day, night after night that you wished to see me and consult me with regards to your writing, so here I am”
My jaw dropped
“Jesus insisted I see you, he said it would take a load off of him, can’t let the good lord carry much load after that cross business , eh?”
He clicked his tongue
“Oh my god” said I faintly.
“Please call me plum”
“It’s a dream come true”
“You flatter me too much, most people cry at the heavens for a chat with Michael Jackson and Elvis”
“How is heaven?” I asked
“Can’t divulge much, I’m bound by the sacrament of secrecy, but I can assure you it’s a giant drones club floating in the sky”
He signalled to the waiter to bring the menu.
The waiter did so with eagerness.
Mr. Wodehouse sainted through its contents, and ordered a Shepard’s pie and roly-poly pudding.
Once the waiter was out of sight and earshot he said “Mumbai is very obscene about her display of class distinction”
“I beg your pardon?”
“The cleanliness of a street is directly proportionate to the wealth possessed by the people who reside in the apartments adjoining them”.PGWodehouse

I agreed with this sentiment as the effervescent aroma of food being baked filled the café.

“So, Neha, what made you call for me? How can I help you?”
My eyes widened and I turned a shade red.
“I want to be a writer”
“Do you write every day?” He asked
“Well, then you’re already a writer”
“A published writer. A writer like you. Do you know that you have a huge fan following. We have a community on Facebook that discusses your work.”

His face lit up “but my dear child, I did not write to get famous, I wrote to entertain”
I may have looked confused and so he continued saying “Fame is very temporary and not largely satisfying”

My face fell, Plum took my hand, patted it and said “To be a good writer, you must first ask yourself, why do people read?”
“To get away from the monotony of daily existence?” said I
“Yes and?”
“To be transported into a different world far beyond their own”
“Yes and?”
“People also read to increase knowledge and enhance vocabulary”
“Precisely, reading is a selfish pursuit, people read to gain something. Writing cannot be a selfish pursuit. Writing must and had to be selfless and unconditional”
“I don’t understand”
“Reading is a form of escape and reader’s turn to us writers to help them escape. Their minds are at our disposal and we can chose what we want to do with it. Now my endeavour always was to uplift the spirit of my readers. You are free to lead the reader down a rabbit hole to a mad hatter’s tea party, or through a cupboard to a Narnia, through a pillar at King’s cross station to Hogwarts or to an isolated town in West America into the mind of an imbalanced girl who seeks validation through romantic trysts with werewolves and vampires. Where you lead your reader is purely your choice, and whether they want to come with you is entirely their choice. But writing is a form of giving and self-sacrifice. Selfishness and writing do not go hand in hand”

“But didn’t you enjoy the adulation and appreciation?” I asked
“I did, but I didn’t write plainly for the adulation. Remember this, you have to bleed so that your readers feel the pinch, you have to stir every sense and awaken your reader’s sleepy conscious. When your heart breaks, they should feel a splinter pierce their heart. You have to give yourself entirely, in body, spirit and soul to your reader. You have to lose a little bit of yourself, a little bit of your mind with every book or poem you write. That’s why I call it a selfless pursuit and that’s also why writers are a dashed crazy lot.”
I remained silent and absorbed the dose of knowledge
“Lastly, you must not seek validation through your work.”
“Then what must I seek?
The waiter appeared and placed the pie in front of me. My tongue salivated at the aroma of freshly baked mince. I raised my eyes from the pie and looked over at the chair facing me. Mr. Wodehouse wasn’t there. I scanned the entire café, he was nowhere in sight. I looked over at my notebook and noticed that I had scribbled haphazardly in it.
The waiter appeared again with the roly poly pudding and said to me “Madam, I would highly recommend that you have the pudding with plums”
I beamed!


Hope you enjoyed it. The original may be accessed at: http://zephyrnick.blogspot.in/2015/08/dinner-date-with-plum.html.

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Oh, to be in the land of cheese and chocolates!

Ronco sopra Ascona

Ronco sopra Ascona

Here is the Quay of Locarno at the Lago Maggiore. Located at its upper end is Locarno, which bustles with life all through the year. Those in search of enchanting botany are sure to find solace here.

Lake of Lucerne and Bristenstock

Lake of Lucerne and Bristenstock

Centrally located, Lucerne is a great place to spend some time in. Enjoy a stroll on the Kappell Bridge with its octagonal water tower. A visit to the Transport Museum is highly enlightening. A cruise in the lake is invigorating, to say the least. A visit to the Pilatus using the funicular, the world’s steepest at an incline of 48%, is exhilarating.

Brunnen and Lake of Uri

Brunnen and Lake of Uri

From the Lake of Lucerne, take the winding road towards enchanting Fluelen and to Brunnen, a renowned resort and spa.

Monsatery church and Sihi Lake

Monastery church and Sihi Lake

The village of Einsiedeln with its Benedictine abbey and the monumental monastery would make you marvel at the architectural splendour on offer.



Think of Swiss mountains and the name of Matterhorn is bound to come up on the very top. If you decide to go on an adventurous trek, ensure that a woolly creature known as the St. Bernard dog is close at hand.



Lausanne is a metropolis dedicated to science and art as well as to commerce and industry. The Federal Supreme Court is stationed here.



An internationally renowned city with a distinctive French touch. The UN is here. The Red Cross is here. CERN is here. Above all, the warm hospitality of the residents could leave you wonder-struck.

Of course, there is much more to this land of precision engineering and watches. A single visit is sure to whet your appetite, and make you want to come back for more sight-seeing!

(Photographs used here are from a book gifted to me by a close friend)

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Reading P G Wodehouse has obvious health benefits. On the flip side, it has its own perils.

I and Books

It has been few years since I discovered and started enjoying the writings of P. G. Wodehouse and ever since they have never failed to amaze me in their simplicity of story and wonderful English writing. There have been long stretches of times when I have read Wodehouse books before falling asleep and the stories have always helped me to go to sleep.

You might think that these books must be really boring that I go to sleep reading them but that is not the case. These stories relax your mind completely. These are the stories where there are no bad people. The biggest problems in life are related to style of clothing one needs to wear to dinner or in some cases a lover’s tiff. There are times when a pet pig does not eat enough or there is an unwanted guest in the house. These are the simple…

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