Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Plane Ride On Bicycles..

Prakash was posted in Agra at that time.

'Posted' is the term used to indicate the place where an Army man is stationed, placed or sent.
These are common questions in defense circles," Where is he posted?"
 "When are you expecting your posting?", Or the more dangerous, "When I was posted in XYZ...." Run for your lives when you hear that because you are in for an hour long story of the man's exploits when he was a strapping lad in the Army.

Friday, June 21, 2013

To Stop Violence Against Women: Group Therapy Could Work

While wasting time in one of the more popular threads in Indiblogger, I read Nisha's appeal to bloggers to write for Ring the bell.
She said that even posting some useful links will help.
I am pasting some links on this subject.
These talk about stopping domestic violence, bringing about change in the way women are treated in our country and thus leading to REAL CHANGE.

These are links to some blog posts written earlier for Ring the Bell are also pasted below. These have not been submitted as main entries now as these are not fresh and have not been written for this drive.



Group Therapy as treatment:
I read a report in The Chicago Tribune that talked about having a support group for wife beaters or others who knew only one way to control others and that was by hitting them or abusing them.
They are asked to join a group therapy session to help them work out their basic issues that lead them to resort to violence.
The session runs on the same principles as Alcoholic Anonymous.
People get together and turn by turn talk about why they use violence in their lives and what can they do to stop it.
 They are encouraged to not indulge in violence, one day at a time.
The longer they can manage without resorting to violence, the more the chance that they can stop using it altogether.
This presupposes that the person is willing to change.
It may even be an activity that they are forced to perform as a legal measure. That means if they don't attend the meeting they go to jail.
This is an idea worth exploring in our Indian context too.
If we can have Sharab mukti and drug mukti drives, we can also have violence mukti ones.
Most of the times, many of these issues are inter related. The domestic help who comes to work with bruises on her face and back has been beaten up by a drunk-out-of-his-mind husband.
A drug addict could rough up any one in the family to get money for his fix.

The more I think about it, the more logical it sounds.
We have tried many other options to stop people from beating up their wives and daughters.
Why not try this one too?
It could work.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Warriors......To Fight Evil


We are warriors.
We don't have swords, guns, missiles, or bombs but we are still warriors.
What are warriors and why do I insist that we are those?

Dictionary meaning:
Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):
BibTeX Bibliography Style (BibTeX)

  [wawr-ee-er, wawr-yer, wor-ee-er, wor-yer]  Show IPA
a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier.
a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.
1250–1300; Middle English werreieor  < Old North French,  equivalent to werrei er to war1  + -eor -or2

war·ri·or·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Five Generations Connecting

The other day someone said on Twitter that there will be a time when our grandchildren will say," Oh, our grandparents were so cute. They used to send SMS to each other on iPhone."
It was hard for me to imagine the time when that will happen.
I wondered what would be used by people in the future to connect to each other then.
The answer was that the future is still unseen. The inventions that will be there at that time cannot even be imagined now.
Makes sense.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tempting Taste Buds: Missing Her

Life can be traumatizing for a retired person who has lost his wife of 65 years.
He is at a loose end in a huge house.
 What is the meaning of this life?
 Why stay alive?
One misses one's wife for various reasons. She was the companion, the friend, the go to person and general man Friday who made life meaningful.
She cooked, kept everyone in line, and maintained cordial relations with the hordes of pesky relatives and others with a smile. Every one just loved her.
Without her, the buffer is gone.
Everyone wants a piece of the main man.
The questions are many and diverse.
"What to do about this? How is this to be handled? What should we cook? Do you want this or that?"
 A hundred questions dog his footsteps wherever he moves.
 He wants to stay quiet, not have to deal with anyone and be generally left alone.
But yes, he must be served tasty food at the right time every  day as per his need. Just a little in quantity but of impeccable quality.
He misses his wife so much and talks to her photo as if she were still there.
One major topic is the food that she cooked for him and how no one else seems to have any idea how to cook right.
 She knew the various tricks needed to make something taste just perfect. Yummmm soul satisfying food.
She is a tough act to follow for any one.
Daughters, daughter in law, cook, dhaba wala, neighbours, other relatives. No one cooks like she did.
Would the Kitchens of India (http://shopping.kitchensofindia.com/) Chicken Darbari and Chicken Methi do the trick?
Will he like them as he liked the chicken curry that she cooked?
Even though a vegetarian, she cooked chicken for him, grumbling, and making him put the raw chicken into the pot so that she did not have to touch it by hand. It came out perfectly seasoned. Such was her expertise.
I am going to find out if this chicken out of a packet thing works for him. If it does, then his issue of tasty food will be solved. He can open a pack and have a gourmet party whenever he feels like it.
Here is to hoping!
Anything is possible. No?

Open Jail in Delhi: Hark back to the movie Do Ankhen Barah Haath

I was attracted to the news item in The Times of India that an open prison was being started in Delhi.
Those prisoners who were  serving a sentence for five to ten years would be eligible to stay in it. Another requirement was that prisoners should have displayed model behavior during their time in jail. They should not have been a part of any organized gangs outside the prison or inside.

These prisoners will be allowed to take up jobs outside the prison and will go to work from 9-5 like other regular folks and will come back to their cells in the evening.

What a novel concept! But is it really that new?

My mind went back to a beautiful black and white classic from Indian Cinema, Do Ankhen Barah. Haath (1957).
An idealistic jailer tries the Open Jail experiment with six hardened criminals who look so scary that one would not want to be an enclosed space with them. He is discouraged by all but refuses to give up his idea.
The jailer represents the Do ankhen (two eyes) and the six prisoners represent the barah haath (twelve hands).
Initially the criminals try all stunts but cannot shake off the two eyes watching them. Slowly, they are transformed into normal, social beings who take responsibility and prove that the jailer was right.
People can transform themselves when they really want to.
There was a scene in the movie where the criminals turned farmers go to the farmers' market in a near by town to sell the farm produce. The sheer joy of that unsupervised visit is heaven for these hardened men.
The classic song 'Ei maleik tere bande ham' that we have all sung in school assemblies is from this beautiful movie.

It is funny how something jogs your memory and leads you to a different world altogether.

 References: Wikipedia, Youtube

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Amritsar to Kohat (Pakistan) by train

Prakash was 14 and restless. Full of energy, bravado and the need to do something new every day, every hour, every minute.
He was no different from any other 14 year old boy from that time or any other time.

Aparnath, his father, had five other children at that time.
He had nine children in all, seven sons and two daughters, a good number in those pre-partition days. Most families had the same or similar numbers as child bearing went on till it stopped on its own in due course of nature.
His eldest son Ram Saran Das was a havaldar in the British Army and was posted at Kohat.
In pre-partition India, Kohat was a big Army cantonment up North.

The decision
Aparnath decided to send Prakash by train to Kohat. He thought this would be a good way to channelize the boy's energies and also get some work done.
He wanted to send some home-made ghee and pinnis for Ram Saran. Also called laddu in some places, pinni is a home made sweet made with gram flour, ghee, sugar, and dry fruits. It keeps for a long time and serves as emergency rations for travelers, soldiers, and children in hostels. It is a common gift from loving mothers and grandmothers to sons even now in India and Pakistan.

The Preparation
Accordingly, a big empty ghee tin (peepa) of 15 ltr capacity was procured. This was a common way to carry things on journeys. An old ghee tin was cleaned, fitted with a lid and latch.
This tin/peepa was filled with gifts from home, locked, and the key was handed over to Prakash. This was his only luggage apart from a change of clothes (Pathani Salwar Kurta) and a new pair of shoes bought from Amritsar for Ram Saran Das. These he carried in a thaila (small cloth sling bag).
The new shoes fitted Prakash perfectly and thus would fit his elder brother too as they were the same size.

The journey
The journey started very early in the morning in a tanga (horse driven carriage) from Rokhe, a village in tehsil Ajnala, district Amritsar.
Aparnath and Prakash reached Amritsar railway junction in about an hour and an excited Prakash boarded the third class compartment of the train going to Lahore from Amritsar Railway junction.
 The seats were made of wooden slats and the compartment was crowded. As per custom whoever put a sheet or other possession on the seat first became its owner for the duration of the journey.
Prakash stood in a corner and put his locked peepa down on the floor. He hoped that when the train started the owners of the seats would relent and he would be adjusted on the berth.

His father gave him many instructions as to how to behave during the journey and what to say to his brother when he reached Kohat. He also gave him a packet of  fresh home made paranthas that were to sustain him in this journey, his first one all alone in a train.

Google map of the rough route from Amritsar (India)  to Kohat (Pakistan) as it exists now is at this link.

The route was some what different in 1942 when this journey took place.
Actually, there is no real link now as there are two countries (India and Pakistan) now instead of one as it was then and one needs a difficult-to-obtain visa to cross the border.

Prakash made friends with a family travelling in the compartment and sat near them. They were also going to Rawalpindi, his next destination on way to Kohat. He felt reassured.
This first leg of the journey was quite short and was covered in a few short hours.
It was mid day when they reached Lahore. They asked around about a connecting train to Rawalpindi and found that it was due to arrive in some time.
The other family wanted to stay put at the same platform while they waited for the train.
In their experience, the train came to any platform that was free at the time so they did not want to move all of their luggage to another one before hand.
Prakash had no such restrictions and he moved toward the designated platform with his ghee tin and thaila. He went on to the railway bridge that connected various platforms and saw the platform number two where the train was supposed to arrive from up there. He had no clue how to reach the platform and thought of jumping down from the over bridge directly onto the platform.
 While he was weighing his options, a kindly gentleman passing by, sensed something amiss and asked him what the problem was.
Prakash told him of his dilemma. The gentleman told him to not jump down from there as there was a perfectly good staircase connecting the bridge to the said platform.
Prakash was delighted to find this easier way to the platform.
He boarded the train to Rawalpindi as it arrived and this time was lucky enough to grab a seat.
More co-passengers and conversation about who was going where and why.

Prakash kept to himself mostly and did not even open his packet of paranthas though he was hungry. He did not want to eat in the crowd where strangers could look at his food.

He reached Rawalpindi and changed to a train going to Kohat late in the night. He managed to find an upper berth in this train, settled his luggage and slept through the night and the rest of the journey.

He dreamed that some one was shouting his name.  Prakash, Pachhe, Oye Pachheya.
He sat up with a start.
It was early in the morning and the train had reached the Kohat Railway station.
Ram Saran Das alerted by his father's post card had come to the railway station to receive Prakash.
 He was shouting his name to locate him among the passengers of all hues getting down from the train.
Prakash sat up and looked out the window. His brother, handsome and resplendent in his havaldar style independence was outside the train. He had also brought along a friend for company.
Prakash was very happy to see his elder brother and called out to him.
He was received with much hugging and laughter.
Ram Saran Das took the ghee tin off his hands and asked him about every one in the family back home, as they walked to the barracks where Ram Saran lived.
The ghee tin was opened with much mirth and the first round of pinnis were passed around.
Prakash told them of the paranthas from home which were still uneaten. These were quickly warmed and demolished by this band of boys.
The new shoes were tried on and were a perfect fit. Every thing was just right.
 Prakash was very proud of himself at having made this long and complicated journey all on his own.

He was much impressed with his brothers' life style and decided that he too should join the army when it was time for him to work.
He spent a week at Kohat and enjoyed the new place.

Ram Saran Das gave him a hundred rupee note, his salary for two months, to take back to their father for home expenses. He also gave him some change to spend on the way back home.

Prakash put both the note and the coins in his khisa (pocket) and felt very important. He felt the crisp note many times on the way back to Amritsar to ensure that it was safe.
After a long journey changing three trains and a tanga, he reached the village adda late at night.
He took out some coins to pay the tanga wallah.
He was excited to go back home and share all the news and his adventures with his father and other members of the family.
They were happy to see him back safe and sound.
Aparnath asked him after some time if Ram Saran had sent something for him.
It was normal for earning sons to send almost all of their salaries back home for the family's use.

 Prakash said that he had sent a hundred rupees note. He put his hand in the pocket and was stunned to find that there was no crisp note in his pocket. He checked all his pockets several times but the note was just not there.
He felt sad at having lost the note maybe at the last stop where he gave the coins to the tanga wallah. He had brought it so carefully through out the journey and had lost it so close to home.
It was a lot of money in those days and could have helped to buy  many things for the entire family.
The hundred rupee note was not found even though Tara devi, Prakash's mother went looking for it at the village adda the next morning.
There was nothing to do but to accept the loss stoically.

 This was a spoiler in the otherwise exciting adventure that Prakash had. But young as he was, he soon forgot all about the lost note.
This journey had whetted his appetite for more adventure and led to many more such in future.

References: Wikipedia, Google maps

Monday, June 3, 2013

Using photos and drawings from the internet. Copyright,credits and what is public domain?

There is an important question that concerns all bloggers. How to illustrate the articles that they write?

The article could need the picture of an animal, machine, family, girl, old man, cute baby, lush green spinach, yummy looking chocolate cake or some such.
The obvious way is to click a photo using one's own camera and use it.
Or go through one's collection of old and new photos and choose the one that best illustrates the text in the blog.
The creative ones draw their own line figures, drawings, or cartoons.
So far so good.
What if you don't have the photo or drawing you need and also don't have the means to get it quickly and easily?
Simple, you just search the internet ocean with the key word of the image required and presto there are many that match your needs.

Well, can you and would you just copy and paste the ones you like best and that is that?
I know one is tempted to do this as the easiest option available.
Here is the catch: All the photos, images, drawings and illustrations that you get by any online search are owned by the people who originally clicked them or created them. (I know you already know this in your heart.)

Well, some of the artists may have generously donated their creations to the world and you can use these for free giving due credit to the original creator.
Most others are copyrighted  material and it is illegal to use them in your blog, article or elsewhere.

Who is to catch me, you say.
 Well, no one may catch you given the vastness of the online world but you are stealing all the same.And you can be caught too if someone tries to.
This is plagiarism. Plain and simple.

So, are there any pictures or illustrations that you can use in your content without worrying about propriety or legality?
Yes. The images that belong in the PUBLIC DOMAIN can be used by all and no permission is required for these.
What is public domain?
No, these are not images that you see in public on Facebook, Twitter or personal blogs.
 All of those are copyrighted material too and you cannot use them unless you ask for and get the author's permission.
Images in public domain are those that have been used and seen so often that they are not restricted for use any longer. For example, a picture of Shakespeare, Einstein or Mahatma Gandhi that has appeared and re-appeared in countless places. I know the examples are not adequate but you can research and find images that are thus available.
For all other images, you have to ask for permission before you use them.
You may get the permission for free with or without the rider that you will give due credit for the image to the owner.
Even if the author does not ask for a credit line it is common courtesy to give due credit as mentioned.

Or you may be asked to pay for the right to use the image and the price could be any amount depending on its perceived value.

This is the right way, the professional way as I have learnt working in the publishing industry.

Please don't use others' images without going through due process of permissions and credits.

Update: I was thinking where one could find some images for use. I researched the internet, like all of you do I am sure and found something which will really be helpful to those looking for images that they can use without breaking any laws. This is a comment under an article. Click on the link given as 'here' and you will see thousands of images on Flickr that you can actually use if you don't have any of your own.

Pete Stevens says:
You can freely use images from flikr that are under the creative commons attribution licence. Just add a credit for the photo.
You can search the Flikr creative commons here

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Amritsar: Kulfi from Hall Bazar

If you visit Amritsar there are many must do things.
The obvious ones are to visit the Golden temple, Jalian wallah bagh and the Wagah border.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Darbar Sahib: Golden Temple Amritsar

A few pics from my visit to Amritsar, the city known the world over as the city of the Golden Temple.
Golden Temple is a place of peace, beauty and spiritual calm. It has many moods. Judge for yourself.

Model of Golden Temple at Amritsar Railway Station.

The model of Golden Temple that greets visitors at the Amritsar Railway Station.

The 'Real Thing' in all its majesty.

Golden Temple in the evening light.

 Molten gold in a pool of nectar. Amritsar literally means pool of nectar. Locals pronounce Amritsar as Ambarsar.

Golden Temple in late evening light.

Golden glitter in the late evening.

Amritsar Railway Station

Amritsar Railway Station in the early morning.

Amritsar Railway Station: another view.

Amritsar Railway Station: another view.

Baba Atal: The twin pillars on the Golden Temple parikrma.

Baba Atal: another view.

Golden Temple entrance gate.

Golden Temple entrance with the verse," Ditthe sabbe thaun nahi tudh jehiya". (Translation: I have seen all places. None match your grandeur.)

Molten Gold which leaves one speechless and spellbound.

To visit Amritsar and see Golden Temple with one's own eyes is a blessing and a privilege.