Saturday, May 12, 2018

No Blinkers please!

One of the cruelest punishments you can give anyone - man and beast alike - is put blinkers on them. You take away their freedom to see the world. You capture their spirit in the narrow confines of their body. You imprison their mind within the walls of their head, making the unpleasant thoughts bounce off those walls, again and again. You attempt to shackle their soul. You suffocate them, taking away their right to inhale and exhale normally; as putting blinkers is also quite stifling. You steal the vastness of their vision constricting it in an abysmally dark, narrow passage. You take away the spark and the shine from their sight, blinding them with your callousness and narrowmindedness. You snuff the vibrancy from their life, forcing it to become bleak and bereft of hope. You close the very being of the individual, forcing your diktat, trampling upon all that the individual wishes to stand for. Do not ever put blinkers on anyone - be it a child, a companion, a hapless animal, a protégé, a team member, a fellow human!

Not even on your own self!!!

Friday, May 11, 2018

The aura and the magnificence of Lucky Manzil!

A friend suggested just now that we should be clicking pictures of old houses and buildings before they are demolished and lost forever, with no record of the beautiful bygone days for posterity.

The thought didn't occur to me before. I wish I had been astute enough to have chronicled them.

So much has been lost - all those barracks including our old official accommodation, lovely, old houses, many of them going back to the British period, houses made by our ancestors.....

Oh! I feel terrible now. I will make it a point to take more photographs the next time I am in Dehradun.

I don't know how long we will be able to hold onto the preciousness my parents bequeathed to me.

Would my Dehradun friends please join in making a virtual repository of Doon, as we knew it and one that is fast disappearing!

Doon of yore!

Wherever you looked, Dehradun was a beautiful valley with choicely constructed and aesthetically maintained old houses, many of them colonial or traditional Indian in their architectural appeal.....Clement Town, Subash Nagar, Dallanwalla, Rajpur Road, even Astley Hall, Vasant Vihar, EC Road, Karanpur and many more.
Clement Town, as an important Cantonment Base, was home to lovely, Army-style Barrack houses. We lived in one such when Dad was first posted here in 1969 or so I recall. Now all that is deplorably gone. The Barracks have been razed to give way to flats, many of which are tiered. And most have come up as ugly, pale yellow, soulless structures; with definitely use but no value, a purpose but no inherent passion about them. Sadly, all the new houses that are coming up at a feverish pace are no longer beautiful buildings. We may be making more money than before but we are certainly losing all taste, style and artfulness that was present in our earlier generations. And yes, any sense of town planning be damned. Here is a picture of a Barrack that has not yet been pulled down. I think it used to be the Cantonment School and is located opposite GOC's Stable in Clement Town. For how long it is going to be left untouched, one doesn't know. But from the looks of it, it has been left uncared for and unattended to, for a long, long time now!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Why are we so insensitive and loathsome!!!

On our way back from Dehradun we did the mandatory thing. We halted at the 'only' clean and prettily maintained Pitstop on the NH - the Cheetal Grand.

Two things struck a negative chord.

First, our utter disregard and disrespect for most things around us.

With clean Restaurant, parking lot and restrooms, well appointed potted gardens and trained staff, Cheetal Grand brings a lot of relief and recourse to an Indian road traveller. Imagine the huge amount of tension it helps release for women travellers with their spic and span, spotlessly clean loos!

Last year, the Lady attendant and I had the misfortune to meet yet another ugly Indian. The young lady, with not a strand of highlighted, straightened hair out of place, stepped out of the cubicle to preen at her painted face. But she left an ugly picture of her behind with piddled floor, soiled seat and an unflushed toilet.

The exasperated Bathroom attendant pointed it out to her as she moved in with a mop in her hand and frown on her face. The errant woman, looked back blankly, shrugged and left the bathroom; leaving me grossly embarrassed for her.

This time, in addition to what we do inside, I found to my utter disgust crumpled tissues thrown right outside the bathrooms, dotting the path back to the parking and also strewn in the flower beds lining the pathway.

It was a pitiably sore sight, and I found it completely inexplicable other than for our collective nonchalance and indifference.

I pointed the mess out to the Attendant, by way of an apology on behalf of people like me, only to have her apologize to me in return. She said, "Don't worry Madam, we'll just clean it." Such is the training imparted to them by the owners of Cheetal Grand. I felt a lot more sorry and apologetic.

The second incident also revolved around a young, fashionable, apparently wealthy girl. She was driven to Cheetal Grand in a chauffeur driven, high-end Innova, I noticed.

The young woman ordered a large platter of Cheetal Grand's famous grilled cheese sandwiches that come accompanied with a generous helping of fries. Her companion, meanwhile, relished an order of Masala Dosa.

The woman chatted up her partner, fiddled with her phone, looked about her, waved to the owner and nibbled on her wiches and fries.

After a while, as we sipped on our Masala Chai, I saw the woman get up and go, leaving behind two-thirds of grub left untouched. The Waiter came to collect the dirty dishes, paused for a telling second or two over the unfinished plate, before taking it away resignedly.

I wonder what went through his head in those seconds. Was he debating whether to resurrect all that good food or to let it die a premature death in a bin, I don't know but he seemed to be pondering exactly what was going on in me.

I had a good mind to stop the Girl and ask her to doggie bag it but expecting a heated debate that may have most certainly followed, I let it pass; hoping against hope that the food was not trashed.

Here's what I would have done in her place -

1. Ordered far less quantity.

2. Shared a platter with the Companion if I was less hungry.

3. Asked for a doggie bag to take it away with me and consumed the food later, if sharing was not on my mind.

4. But mostly, got the clean portion bagged to be given away to a needy person.

It would have hardly taken much time and effort.

Why was the lady so callous, uncaring, disrespectful of food and money, thoughtless of others and so devalued?

I came away disgruntled and disappointed with people like us. I am completely disenchanted with our rampant mindlessness and heartlessness!

Picture courtesy - Google Images!

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Bonding with Bond!!!

So, I have been talking to Ruskin Bond since yesterday. When we began our conversation, he, of course, remembered his old friend Brahm Dev and reminisced about the time he would spend sitting around in Brahm Uncle's shop at Astley Hall.

What was even more remarkable is that he remembered THAT Sunday Times interview vividly. He had a little difficulty placing me first but then the memory gates opened and he recalled all about me and my visits to Muss and meetings with him in Delhi.

Today, when I called him, he had placed me well in his memory and we spoke like old friends.

His voice was genuinely warm and friendly and he was in a chatty mood today. He was quite chuffed when I told him that he sounds just the same. That his voice is still full of youngness, the same energy and vibrancy.

I was awed by his mental acuity I told him and wished to be even half of what he is when I get to his age.

He told me to come visit him in Landour. I asked him what should I get for him. And this is what he said, "I have been quite irritated this morning. I can't find Scotch tape around here. I have cello tape but it tends to stick to my pants."

I don't know what he was doing, but I must remember to bring him Scotch tape when I see him next.

As an aside, the moment Ruskin uttered Scotch, I remembered my dialogue with another writer.

One time I spoke with Kushwant Singh, I asked him what should I get for him. He said don't get anything really, but bring a bottle of Scotch and we will have a Sundowner :-)

Both great men, great writers with their own quirkiness!!! 


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Working with a View!

In my last Corporate role, for about the first two years, I had the best office. Even better than the General Manager's, with views out to the garden and lush greenery, with natural light from the Sun, with a large, airy space that could accommodate at least 15 more people. 

And then we began to expand. My delightful office was compromised for the much needed new Point of Sale. I, with my team, was moved to the new, shiny digs in the Basement and in place was created the Patisserie. All ok, all needed, all unavoidable.

Still, in these steep Real Estate times, please avoid shifting staff to basements. It kills creativity and zest and brings in low immunity with all that unnatural lighting, no windows, no-fresh-air harshness of reality.

Give your people a view of nature, Sunlight streaking in, gardens to look out into, at times birds to watch, as much as you can.

So, when I became my own Boss, I gifted myself some of these views from my Home Office.

What say!