MY DAYS IN RISHIKESH

On November 19th 1989 I stepped carefully from the State bus ,my right hand firmly holding on to the bar ,after negotiating the broken rickety foot-hold, I eased myself down. I heaved a sigh of relief once my both feet were well on the ground , a task ,though simple one, was done without any incident.

I was not old ,barely in middle of forties ,but the fatigue stress of corporate job had intensified the telltale of the years on my face.

The Rishikesh bus stand was familiar sight ,crowded as usual with passengers thronging the place making unusual  noise with push and pull for getting into and out of the buses.

It was return of the native for me as I had spent nearly a decade from 1973 to 1983 as corporate manager in the Glass unit in this beautiful town.

Joining the Glass decorative unit as General Manager I headed for the waiting car towards the picturesque town .

The car went past the busy streets ,much more crowded than years gone by , slow stream of cars ,honking of buses and trucks ,drivers shouted at one another.

 

Ashrams_on_the_banks_of_Ganges_Rishikesh

Temples on the  bank of The Ganges River

The town was still beautiful , standing on either side of Holy River Ganges, the placid rippling waters causing a cool breeze that fetched freshness to the torrid looks.

The sacred river flows through the city originating from Shivalik hills in Himalayas and flows into the plains of India . A small town ,encircled by tall Himalayan range of emerald forests ,with string of Temples ,big and small, stand along the river banks, a real treat to one’s eyes.

The tourists make a beeline for Char Dham(four ) sacred abodes, Badrinath ,Kedarnath , Yamnotri ,and Gangotri passing through the gateway of Rishikesh.

The Hindu pilgrims are of firm belief   by visiting these places they seek salvation to heaven.

The car sped past the traffic and made way towards the TAPOVAN ,the site of our Decorative Glass unit.

 

We entered the gates of the Factory and Dr Lall , the M.D greeted me with a broad smile .

“welcome Kaul Sahib back to home” He said extending his warm hands for a handshake, which I took graciously.

“Thank you sir.it is pleasure to get chance to work with you again for an august company like BILT.” I replied politely.

 

“we are schedule to do decoration for beverage bottles for both Pepsi-cola and C o c a-cola and you have to do a lot of planning for decorating 500,000 bottles, mostly 300ml, per day.” D r Lall continued.

“ it depends on various factors . By the way what is production now?” I enquired anxiously.

“ About 100,000 bottles for various Indian customers. We need to reinforce infrastructure to enhance production and quality to cater to two giant multinationals .” Lall said with an air of finality.

“ I know you can do it . All I promise you will get my support and free hand to handle Plant affairs .” He continued emphatically.

“I shall put in all efforts to come up to your expectations” I replied back.

The meeting ended.

We went across the beautiful L a x man-J h o o l a for a sumptuous lunch at famous CHOTTIWALA.

“ I must thank you Lall Sahib for such a fabulous lunch. I have enjoyed every bit of it.”

“ Never mind , it is ok.” “ the next fortnight is crucial for us as both of the top executives of Pepsi-co l a and Coca -cola are visiting our plant here in Ta p o van for approving our plant operations . I want you to move swiftly on this so that we bag the full orders . By the way Kaul Sahib do you know any one from these two cos.” Lall Sahib asked anxiously .

“ Yes I know a couple of important guys from International Coke as well as Pepsi. But they are very professional sir and would be very strictly judging our skills of both operations and quality tests. We should get both orders but I need some immediate equipments for the laboratory for international testing of decorative bottles. These are very important” . I replied affirmatively.

 

“Discuss with the Purchase Manager and procure immediately whatever you require. Do not wait for my sanctions. I am going back tonight to Delhi and leave everything to you. I must have both orders . I trust your communication skills should be additional factor for our success. Good luck to you” l a l l sahib shook hands with me and proceeded to Delhi ,leaving me to fend for myself to accomplish the task as effectively as possible.

 

Needless to say we succeeded not in getting the full orders from both Giants but also in making huge profits for the company in the long run.

My second stint in R i s h i k e s h was very successful in all aspects and now a myriad of memories flow intermittently  to bring a moment’s peace to the soul and body together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AMIDST THE CHINAR TREES

Vividly I remember

Walking

Amidst the Chinar trees

The cool breeze

sweeping

overhead me

crackling twigs leaves

Underfoot

I scurried through

shimmering shadows

Pungent

with Autumn air

The golden leaves

sliding all across

in a forest of

downy flake

I view long stretches

Of lush verdure

With excitement and

Pleasure.

The snow melt gurgling

streams

Coursing rocky boulders

Causing

a  musical churgling

the kashmir birds

kasture ,bulbul, bill-bi–chur

  huddling in herds

chirping in symphony

 a lullaby.

  A siesta

      under the sprawling trunk

       on golden downy hay

     made my pretty

day .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE IS LOVELY

When you smile loudly

With brashness but

Proudly

Love is lovely

And is lovely

your smile spreading

glistening Sunshine

and your each guffaw

with peals of laughter

tantalize all nerves

swaying soothing symphony

the full curves

love   is lovely

and is lovely.

The musical lullaby

Of the growling clouds

drizzling drops soothe me

to sleep .

love is lovely

and is lovely

In hand and glove

we move to emerald

verdure

in sweet embrace

for a tempestuous

pleasure

love is lovely

and is lovely.

 

 

 

WORLD CHATTER

France in turmoil

 France is in turmoil in wake of the President Emmanuel Macron’s initiation of economic reforms of France’s inflexible labour laws.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to streets against Macron’s proposed reforms on Thursday March 22 2018.

The subsequent strikes by the Railways and public sector have literally paralyzed the country.

The flights to and from Paris were cancelled to the tune of roughly 30% .Adding to the woes of commuters , only 40% high speed TVG trains ran all across the country .

The schools ,day cares libraries and all almost all public services came to halt.

The police fired the water canons and tear gas shells to quell the storming crowd.

The sporadic clashes between the security forces and the protesters , mainly students led to some stray incidents of vehicle burning and smashing of office windows.

But the security forces managed to keep the protesters at bay and thus provided adequate safety to the commuters in general reports France 24.

The real dilemma before government is how many people would join the strike.

March 22 2018 was chosen to coincide with March 22 1968, that led to crippling strike that paralyzed the country for months together that year.

Fierce battles had taken that year crippling the economy that time.

Thursday  March 22 2018  strikes are possibly the start of the long time battle against Macron ,especially following the announcement of Railways Union that the railways would stop running trains twice weekly beginning April 2018.

The strong nerve wrecking Unions have in the past forced the governments to yield to policy U-Turns .

But Macron and his ministers have vowed not to bend to the attrocious demands of unions whatsoever .

A round-up of France’s controversial labour law reform                                      

                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                        sources   France 24

The President Emmenuel Micron and the Minister of Labour Muriel Pénicaud announced reforms to France’s inflexible labour laws on Thursday to give boost to the sagging economic growth in terms of providing more jobs to the unemployed youths and reinvigorate the SMEs .

The main thrust of the reforms is to give more powers to the employers to dilute the Europe’s most strongest worker protection laws.

The government by enlisting such reforms is hoping that giving employers more freedom to manoeuvre will help revive the torpid economy.

Macron is confident of streamlining of “red book’ containing all laws governing the worker safety to bonuses and thus giving companies ,unions and employees more freedom to negiotiate better terms . Also it could streamline hiring and firing workers thus enabling the employers with more leverage to reach amicable solutions.

The reforms if implemented would reduce the unemployment rate from its present 9.5 percent to the level of Germany and Britain –roughly 4.5 percent.

Macron with his parliamentary majority and the divided opposition, he was able to convince legislators to make the changes by decree.

Having good support from the businesses and unions Macron hopes to get the reforms ratified by Parliament after holding cabinet meeting on 22nd September 2018.

The new 36 measures would benefit SMEs small medium sized enterprises employing not more than 250 employees , and VMEs very small enterprises, employing not more than 50 people.

“For the first time, labour law reforms give priority to SMEs and VSEs,” Pénicaud the labour Minister said while presenting the proposals.

Severance payments, will increase to 25 percent of monthly salary for each year of employment from the 20 percent currently mandated.

Employer lobbying groups welcomed the measures calling them as important business strengthening ones .

The unions on the other hand are sceptical about the changes as usual,however the France’s largest union , the moderate French Democratic Confedration of Labour (C F D T), said would not join the protests but would whet the changes in true perspective.

The President Macron has to be very confident in passing the reforms for the ultimate good of the people and the country in the larger interests.

The political opponents   ,the French Communist Party and the National Front should be convinced about the advantages of the reforms in the larger interest .The ability to put them on the same keel will be a great test for Macron’s political statesmanship .

 

NIGERIA

Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief after Boko Haram released 101 of 110 girls they had kidnapped last month from Dapchi.

The New York Times reported that some could be dead. The media reports claimed that five captives were allegedly crushed to death in the overcrowded trucks.

The Government is reported to have paid huge ransoms to secure the release of the kidnapped girls .

 

 

MY STORY.

Living for 44 years in wedlock has been sweet sour relationship, though arduous at times, but definitely a joyous journey a milestone to cross and be proud of.

It is love begets love situation and never ending story of anger , arguments , but nevertheless ceaseless memorable moments of courtship with resonance of love romance and passion.

Way back in 1975 I worked in Pune , obviously a difficult predicament I was in to travel to Srinagar every now and then for selecting the right girl to be my wife.

On the face of it ,looked stupid even those days to come from such a far distance simply to say yes or no.

But my father, being an astute resolute person, was in fact keen to seek my consent to the selection of the girl in waiting before proceeding ahead.

I undertook this uncomfortable voyage twice and finally gave in. I told my father to handle the job on his own.

“ Dad “, I said ”you are fully competent to do this for me and my consent is always there. I trust you and mum.” “All Kashmiri girls are good gracious and educated .so there is no problem as such” I continued emphatically.

“ ok my boy ,so nice of you to say so. But the task for me is more difficult now” He laughed heartily.

My father , a tall , be spectacled six footer of swarthy complexion was endowed with great sense of humour.

An educationist of repute, being in touch with young students , he was very much young at heart too.

Moreover he had love marriage with my beautiful small sized angel mother.

My mother was my grandfather’s bosom friend’s daughter . My father loved my mother very much and eventually married her.

Soon after I received a photograph ,exceedingly beautiful one of my wife.

The chiselled features with deep set doe eyes , demurely innocence made me simply to fall in love with the photograph who is eventually the queen of my tender heart.

Interestingly the photograph framed in exclusively silvery designed frame adores my working desk in my home office.

I just conveyed my consent in a jiffy through trunk call to my father .

I could imagine my consent might have done wonders for my father by relieving him from the stress that had compressed his mind for a long time.

My father recounted me the girl’s family background and I would say “ok ok” least interested in knowing that and hung the phone instantly.

I and my younger sister were yet to be married.

Father was keen to see me married so that he could relax with responsibilities taken off his shoulders.

My two elder sisters and two brothers were married already.

The eldest sister ,whom we fondly called Bengashi was great inspiration and help to my father. She was very upright ,modern woman and had full authority to take decisions regarding home affairs without any hitch.

Elder daughters were always a center of power and authority in a Kashmiri Pandit family to negate or accept any decision to be taken. So my sister, with affable magnetic personality ,was the most loved one of all the children.

I travelled down to Delhi in a train and flew to Srinagar by plane , very unusual at that time, to see my heartthrob.

Srinagar

Beautiful    kashmir   Dal lake

As the plane descended on to Srinagar airport ,the resplendent nature with snow capped mountains glittering through the bluebonnet skies, opened up a breathtaking view of the Paradise on earth ,my beautiful Kashmir.

The marriage date was fixed as 19th October .

My father ,a social reformer and ardent activist forebade any money spinning Celebrations like “Gandhun “–engagement and “Durbati”—special lunch organised by maternal side .

Marriage was an elaborate saga , as expected of   typical Kashmiri marriages those days with great fanfare.

Ceremony Groom’s house

The ladies invited dressed in co lo u r f u l attires , sang Kashmiri songs ,to the tunes of Kashmiri music with the twang of their noses , ‘ Wanvun’— a melodious refrain sung by a group of ladies. The guests were served with pink salted tea (sheer chai) in the midst and end of the singing throughout day and night ,

Finally on the D-day I was center of attraction , being decorated as Groom by my uncle ,  fondly called ‘Babuji’,who helped me to tie the turban with specially stitched ACCHKAN for the occasion. ‘Babuji’ was connoisseur  of our family loved and respected by one and all.

Before the marriage procession I stood on the ‘Vyoog’  —Rangoli , a decent decorative designed pattern of dry colours and the eldest Aunty gave nabbad a sweet hard dessert to nibble at . I and the Guests (Baraat) proceeded for bride’s house in several cars .

Those days the craze for marriages was at high pitch.. The guests and all others enjoyed to one’s fill.The participation used to be with  great zeal and fervour.

Reception at Bride’s place

 As soon as I and my Baraat (marriage procession) reached Bride’s place ,just at stone’s throw from our house, the relatives of bride greeted us by blowing a conch shell.

Here again as per ritual I was to stand on the ‘Vyoog ‘and the maternal uncle of the bride brought the bride out on to the Vyoog where I was made to stand.

The mother of the bride performed puja with lamps made of wheat flour and fed us both with the Nabad – the hard sweet dessert , and the purohit performed the Dwar pooja   before leading us to the Lagan (marriage ) mandhap – the auspicious place .

One more typical tradition of Kashmiri Pandit marriage is the performance of POSH PUZA , not performed in Hindu Indian marriages .

We were made to sit in comfortable posture , a red cloth was put on our heads and all relatives of both families offer flowers to the chanting of Vedic hymns .

The newly weds are regarded as Shiva and Pa r v a t i and worshipped as such .

Now I could see my bride dressed in beautiful sari and bedecked with ‘Dejaharu’   an ear ornament with golden tussels that pass through the the middle cartilage of the ear. The holes are pierced in Kashmiri Pandit girls at very early age of 4 or 5 years .

The ‘Dehjaru’ is having same sanctity as ‘Mangal sutra’ for Indian brides.

At this late stage of life the myriads of memories trickle down the mind and heart and I gleefully watch my wife Shara for hours together ,still beautiful and glittering like Summer’s sunny morning,thus enjoying every bit of the fleeting moments .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLORFUL SEAS

The Sea life is bountiful with its diversity of c o l o u r f u l coral cities and blooming seasons of the seas.

 sea-waves-2

                                                     Colourful Seas 

 

Underwater Coral Cities ;

 Sea life exhibits an immense diversity of c o l o u r f u l shapes in the coral reefs. Such dazzling phenomenon of varied c o l o u r s can hardly be seen anywhere on the earth.

Coral reefs form the underwater cities of the seas, crowded bustling ones with creature communities belonging to animal kingdom.The coral reef world grows  in the myriads of dazzling colours ,creeping, burrowing worms ,flower like sea anemones crustaceans . Some animals exhibit their brilliant colourations to attract a mate ,others being camouflaged to scare away the potential predators.

 

The reef builds large cup coral polyps with food gathering tentacles.

Slowly year by year ,a coral reef grows as million of tiny animals ,the limestone skeletons in millions of polyps accumulate to form the mighty coral reefs in the sea water.

The reef itself is craftsmanship of the living things.

The corals change minerals dissolve into limestone.

The Clams tubeworms give hard part to the skeletons of the reef. The Algae repair the rough edges of the reef by cementing powdered remains of one celled organisms to fill the tiniest openings.

Formed over thousands of years ,say centuries together ,the coral reefs expand around a couple of inches every year and thus extend to the miles together. The largest reef ; Great Barrier Reef , is nearly 1300miles along the north-eastern coast of Australia.

It could supply limestone to build eight million replicas of Egypt’s largest Pyramid.

The coral reef is dynamic process of creation not a static structure of a man.

It is never ending process ,some animals building it some tearing it ,resulting in crevices, tunnels burrows and ledges.

Reef Building Corals abound and grow in warm clear shallow waters.

There are three types of Coral growths ;

1Fringing reefs extending directly from the shore

2.Barrier reefs run parallel to the shore but separated by deep waters

3.Atolls , which are circular ones enclosing the quiet lagoons.

IMG_20180308_103038132

SEA FAN  Thousands of tiny polyps  fringe sea fan’s branches during night and contract during day into skelton

 

A small Atoll is having zones above and below water surface with plants and animals.

Each Atoll and Reef are different from others.

Atoll reef on the lagoon side ,the shore slopes down to the base of the water . The lagoon waterline falls and rises with the tides .The snails escape the heat of the shore and bury themselves deep into the coral rubble.

On the sloping side of lagoon reefs corals grow abundantly and many beautiful shaped corals grow , some slender tapering ones ,getting interwined, and many others heavy and massive.

 

Growing Coral Colonies.

 A coral colony usually consist of thousand polyps , arising from single individual. The fertilized eggs of

Of reef building corals grow into free swimming larvae , the larges sized about 1/25 inch long.

A larvae settles down on a surface with mouth upwards ,it secretes a limestone cup around itself and spends rest of life in this external skeleton.

Surrounding the mouth are delicate food gathering tentacles that collect plankton from the water.

As time speds away each new polyp buds in turn and thus grows closely knit coral community in beautiful colours ,brown ,lavender, yellow greens etc.

 

A reef colony is huge complex of many colonies and kinds of corals mostly growing on limestone laid down for generations. The Great Reef Barrier contains more than 350 species and millions of active colonies.

The reef colonies of this earth exist within radius of 3,600 mile wide band ,about 30 degrees north and south of Equator, roughly from the northern latitude of Florida to that of southern Brazil.

A giant single polyp housed in a stony skelton up to up to 7 inches long , called mushroom coral , is oldest and most beautiful of corals.

 

 

sea5

Coral Reefs  in colourful display.

 

 

Seas, a source of magnificient discoveries , fascinating ,luring mankind to its fathoms for more and more revelations unknown and unheard ,much to the amazement of human minds.

    

 

    

 

 

 

 

A PEEP THROUGH WORLD PRISM

Philippines

The International Criminal Court { ICC} launched preliminary inquiry into the allegations of horrendous crimes perpetrated against humanity by Rodrigo Duterte, the president of Philippine in his frontal anti drugs crusade.

A report submitted last year to ICC listing out the evidence of direct involvement of Duterte for “extrajudicial executions and mass murder” over three decades since 1988 in his crusade against drugs as Mayor of Davao.

When he was mayor of Davao, Duterte’s crackdown on criminals was often carried out by death squads, allegedly with his approval thus killing thousands of poor innocents in Davao. The complaint submitted to the ICC has special mention of these brutal killings.

Since the frontal war on drugs it is claimed nearly 12000 Filipinos have been killed. But official statistics do admit nearly 4000 killed in the on going war.

The inquiry will be the ICC’s first of its kind in south –east Asian nation.

The ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that her office would “analyse crimes allegedly committed … since at least 1 July 2016 in the context of the ‘war on drugs’ campaign.”

Gary Alejano an opposition leader said the move was very important and offered “a ray of hope for the victims of his war on drugs, which is still ongoing right now.

Detente’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, described the inquiry as a “waste of the court’s time and resources,”

Roque further said continuing with the investigation would lower the sovereignty of the Philippines in the eyes of the world “because the domestic courts are functioning and willing to entertain this matter … and the alleged deaths, if true, were because of a legitimate police exercise.”

Duterte’s dislike for ICC, is well known calling it “bullshit”, “hypocritical” and “useless”

Phil Robertson, a deputy director in Human Rights Watch in its Asia division, said the ICC “absolutely should initiate a full investigation into these alleged crimes because to date there has been no serious attempt to investigate them by the Philippines police or prosecutors, much less take suspected killers to court”.

The President Rodrigo Duterte is known for his incendiary foul language has earned him controversial name.

His outbursts have sent ripples across the political spectrum of the world.

Calling the former President Barack Obama as “son of a whore” , trivializing the rape of an Australian missionary during prison riots are a few among many of his damaging outbursts.

Human rights groups, Activists have allegedly charged the President Duterte of conniving the military to commit war crimes on the communists in southern island of Mindanao offering a bounty of $384 for each head.

The exiled leader of the Communist Party of Philippines Jose Maria Sison said Duterte is “acting like the chieftain of a criminal gang” .

   Source

                                                                                                              The Guardian/Alzeera

 NIGERIA

The Case Of Missing Girls

 The fighter jets ,surveillance planes are searching for the 110 girls ,aged between 11 and 19 ,missing since a raid by Boko Haram militants on the school in Dapchi last week.

The Nigerian President   Muhammadu Buhari described the raid as the “ the national disaster” and promised to return the girls to the grieved parents soon.

The promise is taken with a pinch of salt in wake of 100girls yet to return out of 300 girls kidnapped in Chikbok in 2014.

“ we are sorry that it happened .we share your pain .Let me assure that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return all the missing girls” Muhammadu Buhari said in twitter.

Let us all pray for the return of these kidnapped girls safely .