Saturday, October 24, 2015

Yaum-e-Ashura (the tenth day of Muharram)

What is Ashura and what is it's significance in Islam?

As per Islamic calendar, today (Ashura) is the day when...
the world was made;
when Adam (AS) was created (years later);
when Abraham (Ibrahim) (AS) was saved from Nimrod's fire;
when Noah's (Nuh) (AS) ark was delivered from the floods;
when Joseph (Yusuf) (AS) was reunited with his father Jacob (Yakub) (AS);
Jonah (Yunus) (AS) was saved from the fish's (probably whale) belly;
Job (Ayyub) (AS) was cured of leprosy;
the kingdom of Solomon (Sulaiman) (AS) was restored;
David (Dawood) (AS) was forgiven;
Jesus (Isaa) (AS) was born;
Jesus was taken up to the heavens by replacing him with a lookalike who was crucified;

And not to forget, the martyrdom of Imaam Hussain (grandson of Mohammed SAS) in the battle of karbala by the evil King Yazeed who proclaimed to be God-like). This battle was fought so that Islam would not be diluted by wrong practices, which Yazeed wished to introduce after proclaiming himself as Islamic leader. It could have also led to editing of Quran by individuals. Though Hussain was killed when prostrating in prayer (offering namaaz) in battle; his martyrdom was in fact a victory. Cause after that there was awareness against Yazeed and clarity in the religion.

From the events over the ages, it is evident that God loves the day of Ashura (10th day of Muharram) and He even forgave many Prophets and gave mercy to those He was testing on this day (this is God's way of saying that everyone is capable of error and tests, including Prophets). So keep praying and keep seeking forgiveness on this day.

And yeah, like my Dad always says Never Work on Ashura. Since has been the norm since ages, even before the advent of Islam.

The Arabic word Ashura means 'tenth' and is derived from Hebrew word Asarah or Asharah.

What we call Yaum-e-Ashura (Yaum meaning Day, together meaning 'tenth day') is similar to Yom-e-Kippur (Day of Atonement) in Judaism. This is the tenth day of Jewish month of Tishri. So for many years before Islam also, this day had a lot of significance due to it's glorious history. 

Muhammad SAS used to fast on the day of Ashura, (10th of Muharram), in Makkah. When Muhammad SAS led his followers to Madina, he found that the Jews of that area likewise observed fasts on the day of Ashura. At this, Muhammad affirmed the Islamic claim to the fast, and from then on the Muslims have fasted on combinations of two consecutive days including the 10th of Muharram (e.g. 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th) to differentiate between the practices of the two faiths. Due to minor differences in a day or two in months due to moon, these days might not been occurring on same dates now is my understanding. 

So while the fasts of Ramzan are compulsory, the fasting of two days around Ashura are 'recommended' and to be done in combination of two.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

My risotto with curry please!

Today I happened to go KFC while coming back from some place as I was hungry and thirsty. 

While I was placing my order, a woman in the parallel line was placing her order for rice bowl with chicken popcorn (same order as me). The funny thing was that like all curry loving Indians, she was insisting that the rice bowl to have extra curry. And the cashier didn't know what to do. Every chain food restaurant follow their unique style and recipes and this rice bowl has a unique continental style and is filled with one layer of masala sauce in between, which is like a gravy. But that gets absorbed in the rice. Indians love for curries is well known. It's really funny when certain people even insist on gravy or extra masala with even biryani. Maybe that's why the Hyderabadi biryani comes with some thick gravy as an accompaniment And then there are some who eat fried rice with overflowing wet manchurian. Then some who want their food wet and can't find curry, will buy curd and smear their pulaos, biryanis, risotos, fried rice, tawa rice and what not with it, else food wouldn't go down their throats.

I am fine with my food being dry. Else as long as the food is well flavoured, I can savour it. I love fish curry though and yes, jhinga (shrimp) curry.

I liked the rice bowl with chicken popcorn just like it is. The basmati rice used in it made it fragrant and flavourful. And I love the crushers. Especially the chocolate one. And since KFC serves Halaal chicken, that's one place I can eat without worries. McD and Burger King make no sense to me as I don't understand burgers. I know only the Indian burger, vada pav. And that also I prefer the batata vada without the pav.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

She Lets Kids Creativity Soar by Giving them Wings!

As I walk into the office of Supersonic Aeromodelers at Bandra, I am greeted with a broad smile and warm welcome. That's Dilshad Ahmed for you. With a vast banking experience behind her, she is now a successful entrepreneur and give wings to kids' dreams!

Dilshad- giving kids wings!

Having worked for 5 and 1/2 years in Andhra Bank, 7 and 1/2 years with Societe Generale, 10 years with DBS Bank and 2 and 1/2 years with IBM, she decided to leave banking behind and try something new. For a while, she worked with 'For She', a car rental company, which taught women to drive and be self-reliant. The company changed the life of many women. Even men brought their simple housewives to learn driving. Dilshad told me about an autorickshaw driver who brought his shy and soft-spoken wife to their organisation and requested them to make her smart and independent. And so she and her team did. Though, For She is defunct now, many women who learnt driving are doing well for themselves, while some are plying for a women's car rental company.

When ForShe closed, Dilshad wanted to do something on her own. She went through various business options, including franchisee businesses. That's when the idea of aero modeling came to her mind. I asked her, 'Why aero-modeling? It's something very off-beat and was a risky business option.' She told me that she realised that in India, children had very little access to develop their scientific minds and abilities. There were not many options and avenues available for them here. So, she decided to fill the gap. And set out to learn aero-modeling. Once done with that, she then moved to taking classes of her own. It began with her house, where kids started to come to learn the art. Slowly, she started conducting workshops at schools and eventually now has her own office and has also started her own line of aeroplane model DIY kits. Some of these are flying airplane models while some are not. For the younger kids, she uses foam cut-outs to make the aeroplanes. She now operates under the name of Supersonic Aeromodelers and is happy with what she started and where she has brought it.

A few aeroplane models hanging at Supersonic Aero Modelers office
She told me that the kids enjoy making these aircraft models and ensure that they complete making it whenever she holds sessions for them. She even sells other science DIY kits for kids. And yes, why only kids, Dilshad points out that even older people can learn from this art and buy her models. She is also assisted by her sister at times.

Supersonic Aeromodelers will soon come with an exclusive website to sell their aeroplane DIY kits and also other science kits. It is now sold exclusively through her only. Online selling will give people outside Mumbai and Pune also the opportunity to buy the Aeroplane kits. This she hopes will help develop childrens' scientific minds. And I hope so too and wish her all the best.

To have more insight into the activities of Supersonic Aeromodelers, you can check their website: 
and facebook page :

Go, give wings to your kids' dreams. Maybe it will inspire him to be a pilot one day.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stop Hate. Spread Love.

Being born and brought up in a multi diverse country, till few years back I never even saw people from religion point of view. We went to school and college and had friends from all communities and liked to learn about their food and culture. Never once looked at people with religious glasses. Accepted them for who they are. Religion was a personal thing. And outside of my house, it was just a name. It meant a person with different beliefs. The only thing that really was evident was different language and different culture of various states. Suddenly, the hate mongers are creating so many differences and giving everything a religious fervour. 

Until now we saw criminals are criminals, terrorists as terrorists, good people as good people. Now anything happens we classify them. One name of person from targeted religion comes up, the hate spreaders will isolate it and circulate and recirculate the news. 10 names of any other comes up, then it's like they are majority so their name will pop up somewhere. You won't find foreigners committing crimes here kinda attitude. Hatred spreading has gone so far now that in Indian media also we are showing what's happening in another country also with a religious tinge. The other day I saw a news about a marks goof up in Egypt. How Indian media (some of which is controlled by some group through some company) shows such an irrelevant internal news of a country? A bright Christian girl fails because of being a non Muslim in Egypt or some crap to that effect! The people who had commented below the article had probably read the entire news and were quick to clarify that it was a goof up which was rectified. Everything we are see from religious angle? Follow your faiths. But at work and in society you are just an Indian. 

I had vowed a year n half back that in Office or in public places, I will never discuss religion or politics. When a discussion comes up, I go some other way or ignore or get busy with something else. I am entitled to my opinions and it's not necessary that I share with all unless they're friends or family. Eventually many discussions lead to fights. Because many people do not understand 'right to opinion' nor are accepting of others' opinion. We are not good debaters. We expect to say and then shut our ears to others points of view.

Stop hatred, spread love.

An Honest Doctor

Hey, it's hard to come by honest and humble doctors. One such is Dr Siddhesh Shirke. He is my new dentist. He will never tell you to go for any extra treatment or implant just like that. He will try to save the teeth, even it means by a fluoride filling. He charges so little saying honestly that he just did a little filling. I feel embarrassed to pay him that much. A little part of my teeth broke some days back, after my last filling and today I went to tell him that. And he charged me nothing at all, thinking that the part of the filling fell off. I tried to tell him that it's another part of the same tooth. But he insisted that for a pinch of fluoride and minor job, it was not necessary to pay. I was too embarrassed and left saying 'Thank You'.

I know of other dentists, who will try to make a little cavity sound like a crater and advise you to go for metallic filling. In the bargain, they will make the cavity bigger so that soon you will go back to them after few months for root canal and eventually they will end up putting an dental implant there and finally a cap. It's like they say in Hindi, 'topi lagaya', means he made a fool out of you. 'Topi lagaya' literally translated means 'to put a cap'.

Marathi people are quite sincere and honest and I have a special respect for them.

I recommend Smita Dental Clinic for your dental woes, if you happen to be living near Mira Road.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sheldon, oh Sheldon!

Last year I attended my first Comicon in Mumbai. They've just arrived in India a couple of years back. I was sooo fascinated by this Sheldon figurine. I kept coming back to the stall where it was kept, to check. Finally gave up on it as I had other things identified to pick -Sherlock poster, comic coaster, spoof superhero desk calendar and Tintin digest. 

While talking about Sheldon, I feel it's actually because of him and Penny that 'The Big Bang Theory' works. Sheldon plays his part perfectly and Penny is effortless.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I've discovered this new dabba/ Tiffin service called Yummy Tiffin. Got so bored with my previous tiffin service, which served me for 3 years. Does healthy have to be boring? Sometimes taste weird too? Agree, I did get pleasant surprises as well. But some of them look good and packaged so well, everyone in office drools over it while you know how it tastes. 

Starting the new dabba on trial basis for five days. They have an online wallet system where you fill it with an amount and then choose fixed meals from types or customise it on daily basis. One month's menu is posted in advance. I've chosen food I'd never tasted before like mayo sprout sandwich, Mexican minestrone, Bengali style bhindi with a difficult name and much more... I hope they taste as good. They're cheaper than my previous health food provider. And no paying dabba wala separately. It's their headache. And no money wasted on food you don't want to eat. Another good thing is that I don't have to tell them 'No Tindli' 'No capsicum'. These are marathi dishes I do not like. Capsicum is good as accompaniment or as a flavour. Never as a bhaji by itself! While tindli is good for pickling.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Say the Right Things - Be a Savvy Communicator!

Good speakers, authors and people whose talks / videos make a difference to your lives are hard to come by. A good book or good video on business communication always interests me. And one such person whose communication videos, online training lessons and books have made a difference to my life is Dan O'Connor.

Dan O'Connor is an eminent speaker, communication trainer and an author. His videos on YouTube under the banner of Online Communication Training are well known and followed by many. When I started watching them, I was a changed person. His style of training is easy and humorous and loved by many. His style got me hooked. And I went from one video to another, got hold of the books he's written and also downloaded some online courses. And everything was worth it. I have been following the speaker-cum-trainer-cum-author for quite some time now. His dealing with negative people tactics, his power phrases v/s danger phrases and his energy vampire slaying techniques are well known. They have changed the lives of many. It made me more confident, assertive and ready to take on the world.

What would be more exciting than knowing than Dan O'Connor has now made his presence in India. His books are being launched in India through Intellifox Designs. The first book of his to be available in India at local rates is "Say This-Not That!" The book is available in India through and Flipkart. And reasonably priced at Rs. 299, though currently available at promotional rates. And this is just the beginning, as is obvious from the attached video. So, what are you waiting for, guys? If you are a resident of India and have not been able to afford good business communication books from across the seas OR are Dan O'Connor's fan too OR just want to be a savvy communicator, get your copy of 'Say This - Not That!' It is a book you can add to your collection, if you have one.