Monday, November 29, 2010

The history of Hello

I was surprised to receive an SMS stating that 'Hello' is the name of Alexander Graham Bell's girlfriend. His girlfriend was Margaret Hello. And that is how the name came about. It further went on to state that people might have forgotten about the inventor of phone (I haven't tho'.... we Indians are smart, you see!), but not his girlfriend's name... And that is Love!

I wondered why the fact was being highlighted so late in history. If that was a fact, it would be part of history since long. A google search brought similar stories, one stating that though Margaret Hello was his girlfriend, he married his deaf student. True love, indeed!

The authentic / trusted sites had a different story to tell though. The below is the fact i managed to find out :
"Ahoy" was the original telephone greeting !
Alexander Graham Bell suggested 'ahoy' (as used in ships), but this was later replaced by Thomas Edison, who suggested 'hello' instead.

Wonder what is the Margaret Hello angle to the telephone story! Anyone has another story to tell, do let me know!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seven Wonders!

Been there- seen it all, huh ?
Hmm... These pictures are only a few of the Seven Wonders. The others have not been put up here. Looks like I had a wonderful time in the last 10 days of my leave, na?! Reminds me of the old Hindi movie - 'Around the World in Eight Dollars'! Here you might say- 'Around the World in few Rupees'!
These Seven Wonders are very much in India. At the new theme park - Vardhman Fantasy @Mira Road! A part of it is still in the making, but it has been opened for public and is a a visual treat. You enter through a colourful castle-like entrance. Pass through innovative ticket counters and snacks corner and more innovative dustbins. You have all the Seven Wonders of the World from the Eiffel Tower to Statue of Liberty to Great Wall of China apart from the visuals I've put up above, at one place!
Apart from these, there is a Food court and joy rides too! This was inaugurated a few weeks back alongwith the inauguration of Umrao Hospital at Mira Road by Union Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azab.

The Streets of Ajmer -Nov 2010

In front of Delhi Gate @ Ajmer
Here are a few snaps taken on the streets of Ajmer (outside the lane of Dargah of Moinuddin Chisty popularly known as Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz).

The weather was cool and rains kept drizzling through our entire stay of 2 days (22nd-23rd), making the climate more chilly. You miss such weather in Mumbai. Nowadays, Mumbai seems to be getting hotter every year. Haven't seen a decent winter in our city in ages! Even if we have cold, it doesn't last for more than a week! And it remains a dream to don stylish winter wear and lovely soft and colourful blankets! Winter keeps you fresh and energetic too!

The masjid coming up in the area
The Ajmer dargah lane is quite congested and rains make it more messy. I've read / heard somewhere that the lane is being taken up for development by A R Rahman and Rasoolkutty. That's a welcome move. Saw a new masjid coming up in the lane too (refer pic above).

One unique business idea observed there was taking advantage of people's requirement of a parking space for their vehicles in the congested lane.
A private parking space
A few places were taken on the sides and instead of setting up a shop there, the place itself was lent as parking. Another small clothes counter on the road had a proper extension inside a traditional Rajasthani house with a inbuild verandah and a side room, which housed a small shop. The living rooms were on the other side. Good use of space and innovative too!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guzarish - A plea!

Since I was on annual leave from office, I got to see Guzarish on the same Friday that it was released. My dear friend was coming to Mira Road and she had taken leave for some work of hers, we decided to catch up for lunch followed by a movie. A movie, without reading the reviews, isn't what I'd usually prefer cause I see a selected few, that too after reading the reviews. I went to the booking counter at Cinemax, Mira Road- the options were few. Harry Potter, Golmaal 3 and Guzarish. I had no interest for Harry Potter and I'd watched Golmaal 3 with some family members, Guzarish was only option tho' I didn't mind seeing the TP movie Golmaal 3 again just for my friend.

I called up by youngest bro (who's a great fan of Hrithik since his school days) for a review. But he told me that after the Kites debacle, he's not keeping track of Hrithik's movies lest he be disappointed again. So he was keeping his expectations low... My poor brother had grown his hair long last year as Hrithik (in Kites) for promoting the movie, but Kites release kept postponing and Mom's was chasing him for chopping off his mop of hair!!! Finally the film was a disaster and my bro was sullen while we kept teasing him. I love saying funny / critical things about Hrithik just to irritate my brother.

So back to Cinemax Hall last Friday. 3 Guzarish shows. My mind was imagining a drama style saza (a la Bhansali style) which would last for almost 3 to 3 n half hours! I asked the counter fella about the duration of the movie. '2 hours 15 mins', he said. 'Relief' - I said to myself. Even if its a torture, we can manage to sit through it. My friend confirmed on phone that she was okay for seeing 'Guzarish'. And we went for it.

The movie, like all Bhansali movies is like a drama, with a work of art mixed with antiquity/ historic touch to it. Though the movie is set in present times, Bhansali shows us artwork and brings history/ antiqueness to the movie by setting it up in an old Victorian style house, which are found in interiors of old Goa. And if this wasn't enough, he's made Aishwarya Rai wear Victorian gowns just for effect. The people who do not know much about Goan culture might think that Goans still wear such gowns in present times! What is contrasting to this is that 14 years back when the magician, Mr Ethan Mascerenhas (Hrithik) was younger and performed on stage, he and his assistant wore more contemporary clothes!

The Victorian House, the Victorian gowns of Aishwarya and the plush green interiors of Goan villages make the movie a visual treat- almost like a piece of art unfolding in front of your eyes. Hrithik plays his part as an paraplegic well. But his character fails to convince you that he's fed up of life or deserves his plea (Guzarish) for Euthanasia to be accepted. I could not feel the pain of his character nor did it extract one tear from my eye. He doesn't look like someone whose both kidneys have failed and heart is going weaker by the day! But yes, his pain can be felt the dialogues and description of his state by his friend Devyani Dutta (Shernaz Patel) and his mother (Nafisa Ali), who have played their parts convincingly. As for Aishwarya, she dressed way too loud (bright red lipstick and all) for her part as a nurse, but projects her character well (though sometimes you fail to understand her background!)

When the people are told that Ethan D'Souza is going for a trip outside his house first time in 12/14 years, you wonder how ....
a) He'd managed to give those encouraging lectures to students after becoming an invalid, as shown in the movie. He couldn't have given them from his house!
b) If he's not moved out of his room since so long, why hasn't he become pale in the face or frail ? In fact, he looks quite fresh except for his limp body! (In fact, even if a common person has viral fever for 3-4 days, he/she looks weak and pale).
c) When he enjoys his first outing in several years, one wonders why he's not taken outside the house more often, if that is possible! Maybe he might find a reason to live!

Apart from above bloopers, the whole movie is sensitively and sweetly made. And those who like sensitive parallel cinema will appreciate the movie.

Aditya Roy Kapoor adds charm and freshness and humour to the entire movie.

The end is quite abrupt. You will again wonder if Ethan can laugh through life for 14 years, why can't he bear to live a few more days or months?!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Parental teachings in today's times

Parents nowadays teach their children to be mean unlike earlier times when kids were taught to be more compassionate towards others. Maybe they feel that's the way to survive these days!
While going for a trip outside Mumbai a few days back, a family of 2-3 people were standing with lots of baggage on a narrow bridge at Borivali station, thinking what to do instead of taking action (moving to one side or down the stairs). When people behind started wondering aloud why the bridge was blocked and asked them to move aside, the Mom of the boy started telling him - 'Just think about yourself. Ignore what the people are saying'.

With people teaching each other such things, aren't we moving towards a meaner world ?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why is the Kashmiri angry?

Why is there so much unrest in Kashmir? Why did the people stand up as one against the Government recently?
All over the years, the Kashmiris have suffered in cross borders politics, internal politics, external interests, terrorism.

Cross border conflicts and terrorism have led to wars and also turmoils at the border. In the politics, the people of the region have lost their lives. Their education, work and normal life has suffered. Even in a city like Srinagar, there hasn't been much growth. It looks like a place which has stopped in time. It is devoid of modern structures and other infrastructure. The schools are at the mercy of trouble makers. These trouble makers could be internal, driven by political interests or gullible jobless youth lured by terrorists in the name of religion. But can't these youth see that if these cross-border terrorists were islamic, they wouldn't kill innocent people and also Muslims from their own country?

Many Kashmiri students have lost precious study years in unnecessary conflicts and curfews. Even syllabus across schools was not found to be consistent when I compared books of two kids from the same class studying in different English medium schools. While one studied in a local English school, one went to a convent school. But convent English schools have the same syllabus as non-convent schools across India unless they follow a different board. Only a few extra-curricular activities and non-curriculum subjects differ generally in our parts of our country. Urdu is main the compulsory language in Kashmir. And Kashmiri/ Urdu is compulsury in school. It will be surprising to know that the current generation speaks less of Kashmiri and more Urdu. With exposure to television, the Urdu is more inclined towards Hindi now. Two Kashmiri youth with same education background cannot be compared, as they follow different syllabi. This can cause problems while going for higher education. The J&K University campus is huge and beautiful and a hope for the future of the young Kashmiri. The people are fed up with constant troubles and want their children to be educated and settle down well in life.

The trouble makers keep instigating youth with negative propaganda of Muslims being ill-treated by non-Muslims in India. One such instigating video was a reason for David Hadley too for attacking Mumbai 2 years back! Indians are shown as enemies of Kashmiris. The present day Kashmiri, who is exposed to media is aware that India also houses many Muslims, who are just like them. Hence, they do not want to be part of any dirty, instigating politics.

The businessmen of Kashmir sell their artifacts and cloth in Indian cities, especially Mumbai and Bangalore and make money. They want to be part of Indian cities and widen their business horizons. In the Srinagar-Bangalore flight, you will find a lot of Kashmiris as Bangalore is a preferred location for Kashmiris due to the the cool climate of the city (which they are used to!). You will come across Kashmiris having stalls in Colaba (Mumbai) too. These people are fed up of the constant troubles in the valley which will affect their business. Many of them have never been to Pakistan or have any interest in the place. These people, who want their business to prosper, do not want trouble in the valley. They want peace. And they are happy to belong to India.

There is a small section of people, who favour Pakistan, for reasons known to them. Maybe they are instigated by certain political leaders, projecting Pakistan as their Islamic brother. But these ill-informed section of Kashmiris, are not fully exposed to Pakistani culture or politics. Nor do they know how Muslims co-exist without much bias with their non-Muslim brothers in other parts of India! A few biased people are there in all parts of the world, though! And its not that India is filled with Hindu-Muslim issues. Like any other country there are several issues. Recently we heard of honour killings due to people of the same 'gothra' marrying each other! And this is not even remotely between two religions! India is much secular than most nations, inspite of having a varied cultural mix of several religions and castes within them! It was shocking to me when a site on the internet compared the 'Kashmiri struggle' with the struggle of Palestinians in Isreal. This is definately making the age old conflict and struggle of tha Arabs in their own land and the atrocities suffered by them seem small! Do the people who put up such content even know the history of Israel or what's actually brewing there?

Then there is a section of people, who continue to call themselves separate and unique, having nothing to do with India or Pakistan. These are people, who do not like Pakistan but at the same time have suffered in some form or the other due to insensitivity of the Government of the State and also due to atrocities committed by our very own military. Due to the nature of trouble in the area, there is army stationed in many parts of Kashmir. Though I haven't seen it, I've heard two people known to me talk about army atrocities. This is a possibility as there are bound to be black sheeps who take advantage of their power everywhere. I've heard instances of unnecessary searches being conducted on people. But searches are part of a place surrounded by trouble. In fact everyone coming back from Srinagar airport is subject to almost 3 detailed security checks. But this apart, some armymen do act rough with simple local people and have subjected them to some insulting moments, which have stayed in youth memory resulting in hatred for the Army and the Indian Government. This is often used as advantage point by trouble-makers to instigate youth. While the trouble makers have not been harmed much, the victims themselves were subjected to search and curfew and police firing! What Government needed to do was show some sensitivity towards the civilians of the land earlier, which might not have resulted in the situation which has come up now. The same is the situation in North-East. In fact, in North-East people are subject to more checks by Army as they move across places. This is a personal experience on my visit to the place several years ago, when my Dad was posted at Guwahati for a short while. As you move from one place to another, people travelling in private vehicles are subject to gruelling and inspection. We used to get through with RBI ID card though. But the locals are not so lucky! In fact, the North East has so many terror outfits from within tribes and native areas, that the situation is more tense there. You can guard your borders against outsiders, but when an internal person betrays you, you're caught off-guard! This is the difference between the situation in Kashmir and North-East. Sadly, North-East problem does is never taken seriously as it is internal and no outside factors are directly involved! The same is the situation of people living in places which are the target of Naxalites and Maoists.

But all said and done, internal issues and Army and Government sensitivity can be taken care of. Involving Pakistan in the matter makes no sense as currently the economic situation in that country is really bad. Funny it is when an aid from Indian Govt was first rejected due to ego and later accepted on US's interference. Funnier still when a donation from Angelina Jolie is accepted without batting an eyelid ! According to Islamic nation, the earnings of an actor are considered 'haraam', ain't it? So much so for hypocrisy! But there is never a question of religious/ ego issues where calamities are involved. Indians (irrespective of their religion) have helped their neighbour Pakistan whenever it has been in trouble. We are always open in cultural exchanges, the artists from across the border freely work in India and are equally encouraged with artistes of the land, we have initiatives like 'Aman ki Aasha' (an initiative by Times group) for friendship between the countries. Apart from that individuals from India themselves do their bit for our neighbouring country as some Indians have their roots in Pakistan too. I remember a recent case, when a client (company) of ours was in a hurry for an RBI approval to send medicines worth several dollars to an NGO in Pakistan. Not because he/she was a Muslim, wanting to help a fellow Muslim, but because the company director's wife was a Sindhi (a Hindu) and was grieved to see her native land in trouble and wanted to send help asap. That's what India and Indians are all about ! But such good gestures are hardly reciprocated by Pakistan!

Several factors have made the people of Kashmir unhappy and caused unrest. In fact, the sufferings of the people came to the forefront in a tete-a-tete with some locals a year back! Till then I never knew how the locals felt or how grave the situation was! People have never a chance to know the true Kashmir since so many years, as it was considered dangerous visiting the place due to constant conflicts for several years, earlier. Only in the recent years, people have started freely going to the land as tourists. Yes, Amarnath Yatra to J&K has always been sacred for many Hindus. A few months after my visit to Srinagar last year, when a colleague of mine from Delhi had gone for a trip of the Valley, a local trader told him to pray for Kashmir's azadi. My perplexed friend (a non Muslim) told me about the same, but it did not make sense to him!

It's sad when people spread animosity between people of a land for their own personal interests ! What's happened to the people of Kashmir is sad for us all. But it's never too late to make a new good beginning! A beginning which begins with Peace and remains that way forever! Hope the educated and new generation of Kashmiris understand and make way for a better Kashmir. If there is happiness anywhere, it is definately in our hands!!!

The History of Kashmir and Present Day Conflicts

The History of Kashmir

In the wake of recent happenings in the State of J&K, especially the Kashmir region and the political leaders there seeking international status of their issue, let us go through the history of the land. Let us know what is the background of the land, which is sought by many.

Early History
Kashmir was one of the major centre of Sanskrit scholars. According to the Mahabharata,the Kambojas ruled Kashmir during the epic period with a Republican system of government from the capital city of Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava.,shortened to Rajapura, which has been identified with modern Rajauri.Later, the Panchalas are stated to have established their sway. The name Peer Panjal, which is a part of modern Kashmir, is a witness to this fact. Panjal is simply a distorted form of the Sanskritic tribal term Panchala. The Muslims prefixed the word peer to it in memory of Siddha Faqir and the name thereafter is said to have changed into Peer Panjal.The Mauryan emperor Ashoka is often credited with having founded the city of Srinagar.


Kashmir was once a Buddhist seat of learning, perhaps with the Sarvāstivādan school dominating. East and Central Asian Buddhist monks are recorded as having visited the kingdom. In the late 4th century AD, the famous Kuchanese monk Kumārajīva, born to an Indian noble family, studied Dīrghāgama and Madhyāgama in Kashmir under Bandhudatta. He later becoming a prolific translator who helped take Buddhism to China

Muslim Rule : Shah Mir Swati (Reigned 1339-42)

Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir was a ruler of Kashmir and the founder of the Shah Miri dynasty named after him. Jonaraja, in his Rajatarangini mentioned him as Sahamera. He came from Swat, the then (Tribal) territory on the borders of Afghanistan and played a notable role in subsequentive political history of the valley. Shahmir became the ruler of Kashmir and reigned for three years.He was the first ruler of Swati dynasty, which had established in 1339.

The famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchan Shah from Ladakh to adopt the Islamic way of life, and the foundation of Sufiana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were co-existing. Several Kashmiri rulers, such as Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, were tolerant of all religions in a manner comparable to Akbar.

By the early 19th century, the Kashmir valley had passed from the control of the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan, and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and the Afghans, to the conquering Sikh armies. Earlier, in 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, the Raja of Jammu, the kingdom of Jammu (to the south of the Kashmir valley) was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power.

During the British Era, the Kashmir mountainous and hilly region (Kashmir Valley) was sold to Maharaja Gulab Singh for rupees 75 lakhs (around 1845). Later on, Ladakh was also added to the region.

Mixed Ethnicity
Jammu and Kashmir was always a mixture of various cultures and ethnicities- The Northeastern Kashmiri region was popoulated with majority of Sunni Muslims, Hindus (the Pandits), while the Jammu region had large number of Hindus and Sikhs alongwith Muslims. On the other hand, in Ladakh majority of people practice Buddhism. Hence to say that J&K belongs only to Muslims and should be isolated from rest of India will be a grave error. The present enimosity and confusion in the hearts of the people is created by 'so-called' Islamic leaders, who are mainly just playing a political game. Some of them are also influenced by politics across the border. It has always been a dream of our erstwhile Indian neighbours to spread error and terror in the hearts of the people of the region and take charge of the Jammu and Kashmir region. There is no religious agenda to it, which the gullible and not-to-gullible inhabitants fail to see.

Present Day Issues
The terror in the land is mainly spread by our neighbours, who do not want the people of the Kashmir to forget of the issue and eventually settle down amicably as part of India. The existance of the military in the land is due to the cross border insurgencies that keep happening from the Pakistani front. We have a current-day example in the form of Kargil attack in the J&K region. Even now, when since a few years, as Kashmir was calmly settling down and the youth were getting proper education and moving to other states for jobs and finding their identity in society, a fresh sense of hatred was instilled in the hearts of the people. No sooner had the PM, Mr Manmohan Singh declared that the troops will be slowly moved out of the J&K region due to better situation in the past couple of years, the recent mass movement was fuelled by political interests. When there is trouble / mass movement/ agitation, people lose lives. And it happened here too, which is very sad. Even Mumbai is not alien to this fact. Over a lakh people lost their lives to retain Mumbai in Maharashtra several years ago. But that is part of history now and we have moved on. In fact, we are so busy in lives in a metro like Mumbai that we have no time to reflect or even find time for ourselves! But life in Kashmir moves at a slower pace. The purity of the land and people have remained. So the people of Kashmir have time to think... and in a troubled and tense environment.... with curfews when people are sitting idle at home with work places and schools/ colleges closed... people think a lot and talk more.

No country or land doesn't have internal issues which cannot be resolved. But the people of Kashmir have isolated themselves even from the rest of Muslims of India, and refuse to consider 'our' problems as their own. If we go by numbers, the number of Muslims in India are definately more than or almost the same as the entire population of Pakistan (as we are heavily populated and even a 10-20%, for example, can be a very large figure!!). And in my personal opinion, I do not consider Pakistan a fully Islamic nation. I've seen the people and culture of Kashmir region. They are simple, God fearing people. There is not even a cinema hall in the region. Nor are people subject to a 'open' culture. They have just been victims of circumstances. I respect the people for their simplicity and values. But majority of the Pakistanis are more modern than Indian Muslims and lifestyles of many can cause cultural shocks to even the non-Muslims of India! Their films, songs - they are quite loud and copy Bollywood largely... from sarees to everything Indian. Their songs are quite bold, nothing to suggest it is of a Muslim nation. Even our loud mouth siren Rakhi Sawant is better than the Veena Malik from across the border we see on television, who is seen rubbing herself on every male she lays her eyes on! So why do the Islamic leaders of Kashmir want to thrust such non-islamic values from across the border on their people?

If J&K issue is not a political one and purely for giving a better status / deal for the Muslims of the Valley, who have suffered for long for various reasons, then will special quotas for Kashmiri Muslims in education and jobs and some other areas work out? This, alongwith the planned phasing out of the military from the area? Though the people of the region will appreciate such a move, I do not think the political-islamic leaders, who are now controlling the voice of the region, will agree to it. Their interest is in the politics across the border and they try to confuse the people of the region too. So confused are the people now, that some of them want to be neither part India (as Indians have been projected negatively to them), nor part of Pakistan (who they feel have caused them enough harm, but yet see Muslim brotherhood in them), but want a separate nation with accesss to both lands. Now this, as we all know, is not possible, without a threat to our nation and a threat to the people of Kashmir too. China too has eyes on our J&K, as we know with our previous experiences. But still the Islamic political leaders want to involve Pakistan in our internal issues! There are still many Kashmiris, who are glad to be part of India. All they want is peace and dignity in their land and want to prevent their misuse by political leaders from India and across the border.

Ironically, though Kashmir itself is like heaven on earth with its beauty, the circumstances and political interests and cross border terrorism have made lives of the people of the region : hell-like. God bless the people of Kashmir and save them from political interests. Kashmir is a part of India and it shall remain that way. We all are with the people of the Kashmir and highly condemn their being used for polit
ical interests- within India and across the border!

References: Wikipedia (