Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Life is Beautiful..

Last night, while browsing through various blogs I happened to come across one that read 'A picture speaks a thousand words'. Maybe Maybe not.
Sometimes when I go through old family albums ,I see a lil girl of 3, scowling away like its going out of fashion, and I wonder what could have happened to make her scowl that way. In other pictures, there are those big sad eyes and a scared ,resistant smile of a 9 year old,staring into the camera. Or the impatient pointing of clenched fists of a gawky 15 year old.Or the weary eyes and drooping shoulders of a 20-something ,caught unawares. I cant for the life of me fathom the depth of the emotions that were playing in the mind.The pictures just dont do that justice.
And then I gingerly turn the pages of the album.The edges now wrinkled and yellow with time.
And I see pictures of recent times, where there are bright, happy(and sometimes tired!)eyes and a fiery smile lighting up the frame. No more clawing fists, bleeding lips and bruised souls. Pictures,wherein Time seems to stand still just for a moment to quietly absorb the calm.
Do pictures really speak a thousand words? I dunno.. The G says my eyes certainly do.. :-)

Anyway, so last night I got playing. Its a fun game. Here are the rules :

1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.

2. Using only the first page of results, and pick one image.

3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The questions:

1. What is your first name?

2. What is your favorite food? right now?

3. What high school did you go to?

4. What is your favorite color?

5. Who is your celebrity crush?

6. What is your favorite drink?

7. What is your dream vacation?

8. What is your favorite dessert?

9. What do you want to be when you grow up?

10. What do you love most in life?

11. What is one word that describes you?

12. What is your user name?

The mosaic of pics you see on the top of this post, is the result I got. Cant help thinking.
My Life is Beautiful. And yours?
Feel free to try this out...

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Bridges Of Madison County - Part 1

No.This isn`t a post about the movie. Nor about the book. This is the story of our visit to the covered bridges of Madison County.
Yes, The G and I drove down 300 miles to Des Moines and from there, to the small village of Winterset,Iowa to create what will remain one of the most special memories we`ll ever have in our togetherness..
It was an overwhelming experience. Just as I had imagined it would be. Unpaved country roads stretching for miles into the horizon, lined by electric poles. Endless rambling of pastures. Cows grazing peacefully. Slow,sensual rhythm of the wind-mills,waltzing along with the untouched wind, unmindful to the passage of time. No one and nothing around. Absolutely nothing for miles except green grass, grey overcast skies and the two of us.
We took to the road, in what will probably remain the most special journey of our lives - in search of something undefined yet so clear.To explore the lonely existence of an Italian war bride; to search for any remaining vestige of the passions that stirred in her soul briefly and with such power; as also to search for everyday struggles of love, hope, disappointment and loneliness here in the middle of no-where . We went there looking for Francesca Johnson and everything that she once stood up for.
We ended up finding ourselves. Truly.
As we drove back into the sunset, there was only this feeling of intense relief. Relief that we had not passed by each other 'like two pieces of cosmic dust'. Relief that The G and I, drifting along the meandering flow of life, had finally managed to find each other.

This one`s for you, My Friend. Thank you for the fabulous surprise trip!

P.S - Posting images on blogspot sucks big time! :-(( I`ve posted a few in the next post. Most are of Winterset,IA. I`ve posted pics of The Hogback and The Roseman Bridge only, although there are 6 covered bridges remaining out of the original 19. There`s The G in one of the bridges and Me in the other(waving over my head or something!).. The last one is from inside the car - driving back home.

The Bridges Of Madison County - Part 2

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

5 Weird Things about Me..

1. I cant sit still at one place for more than a few minutes! That is so not me. I get restless and fidgety if I have to sit still for long - no matter where I am...!! Could be at a coffee shop or at someone`s place. Or even the loo! Which could be a blessing in disguise, when I`m visiting friends who have a single loo at home, with 10 other people who want to detoxify their bodies synchronously in the morning times! I take the least amount of time.Sitting on the throne and pondering over life`s issues is soooooooo not me!
Meal times however become a huge issue for us. The G believes in sitting for hours at the dining table, chatting up bull. While I normally gulp down food in a matter of seconds! Then I get up and pace the length of the dining room after every 10 minutes, even during *serious* conversations, which drives The G mad!

2. I am paranoid abt my hair! As in, I have to keep looking in a mirror to see if its in place! And lo and behold! It never is! Hence I go back again and again, to ensure tht the unwieldy strands are tucked behind the ears, just where I want them to be! It drives my folks crazy!

3.I once finished a whole 2 pounds chocolate fudge cake by myself! First ate half of it. Then after The G`s stern looks of disapproval, I managed to keep my desires(and fingers!) in check - limited only to opening the fridge door and salivating! But desires sometimes just dont play dead,even when you`re genuinely willing them to! The next day, the cake was gone - all of it - in small slices of course.
Nah! That`s not the wierd part.
After the initial high (pbly because of the glucose!) came an overwhelming sense of dread. The G would be back in 2 hours. So I hurriedly biked down 2 blocks in the afternoon sun, bought another chocolate cake and finished half of it - just so The G wouldnt suspect. He Did of course! :)

4. I worry to pathalogical proportions, when I have to travel. I want to reach the airport 3 hours in advance, so I`m there when the previous flight is boarding! Standing in the long lines at security check,biting nails and cursing the traffic and wondering if I`m going to make it to the flight, is so not my deal! I always reach 3 hours , mostly 4 before schedule! :-) Thankfully, both Dad as well as The G are in agreement on this one!

5. I cant hold onto one train of thought for long. I switch between topics with the speed of light and most people dont follow the track of my conversations. Almost like a mad man changing lanes to and fro at 70 mph like his arse is on fire!
(We always encounter a couple of those on our way to the U. Have you guys ever had any such experience?)
The G stacks up topics in his imaginary shelves as we scoot across varied topics in succession, takes them out one after the other to get the conversation back on track!

6. I know, I know I said '5 weird things about me' - but I have to mention this.

I am as vain as they come! Seriously! I was browsing over various people`s "10 weird things about me" lists and their humourous variations thereof. And I started thinking about what I would put down. It took me a 'laaaaaaaaaaannngggg' time to get down to 5 of them! Turns out, I couldnt think of any!
So either I`m an uninteresting, middle-aged housewife(do they use the term anymore??) with grey hair and a grey life, who doesnt have 10 weird things about her!
Or I think I`m The Queen of Sheeba and am just too vain to acknowledge any! :-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Small Wonder

Lil Ishaan turns one...
The G and I have forever been interested in the develpoment of the human brain. As in, the way all the circuits fit in just right over time, as we traverse the path of life. And how sometimes it doesnt. The G has an enormous collection of books on the subject. I sometimes flip through the pages to get a general idea. And I wonder. At what point do we cease to be children, roaming around the world in wide-eyed wonder, without fear of the unknown, fascinated by the world in all its splendour, smiling at ourselves in the mirror,crying and yet not knowing just how bad the strength of the tears can sometimes hurt? At what point does the mind register fear? At what point do broken bones suddenly become easier to fix than a broken heart? Where inside all the grey matter,do the circuits click in place, so that little things (like empty bottles ,cardboard boxes, pieces of plastic or simply our own reflection in the mirror) suddenly cease to amaze us?

Pic of The Day - Lil Ishaan with his Dad

Am posting One of my all-time fav pics! Shall post more pics of Lil Ishaan`s 1st bday bash soon :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Recently a friend sent me this poem. It came at a time when I was struggling to find base amidst undercurrents that threatened to erupt in volcanic proportions. And reading it felt like homecoming. Like an autumn leaf, in a restless draft of wind finally settling down. Most might already be familiar with this. Infact, for some parts, I probably do not even relate to what`s there in the poem. May be you wont too. But I`d still like to document it for posterity! :-)

"Desiderata" - I hope it can touch your lives the way it did mine.

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy...."

One last note for the friend who cared enough to send this to me :
I may not show it often, but I know just how hard you`ve been struggling to keep your head above water . I just want you to know that I`ll be there for you, my friend.
"Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend, Im sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tales from New Jersey..

And there he came towards me, ruffled hair,stained tee,bloodshot eyes (from not sleeping,I guessed),empty bottle in hand and staggering. I sat on the couch,watching him totter towards me and I wondered if I should get up to help. But I sat stil,watching. He looked around, trying to make some sense of it all. Then suddenly he lunged foward. And in the attempt, fell flat on his face. I stood up, unsure of what to do and what he would do. And then, in the coolest way possible, he steadied his head,looked up and smiled at me. The warmest smile I`ve seen in years. The kinds that made his eyes shine long after the smile had left his face. Then he steadied himself on his feet and walked towards me, arms open wide, rickety steps and that smile intact. And I thought to myself, " This is why people have babies.."

Hello People,

Those of you who`ve read my earlier posts, know that right now I`m at my sister`s place in New Jersey. Its a family reunion, with my folks down from India. And I`m having the time of my life! :-))

Shall try and give some interesting updates on Lil Ishaan, as soon as I find some time. Till then, God Bless!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Edited to add... (A Gal`s gotta do..)

A well-meaning Someone , who learnt about my 'Girl`s' night out yesterday,commented with much- felt sympathy about how sad it must be to try and have fun alone! A similar thought had crossed my mind as well. Layers of self-pity and indignance towards The G, coated my very being,since the moment I made up my mind to go out on my own. How sad it must feel, thought I, to be sitting in a theatre full of people, alone and watching a movie that celebrates lasting friendships.
Turns out : Not Quite! :-)
And for the next two weeks (until The G`s deadlines get over), this is what I shall do. Celebrate life and the essence of my being.

To quote Carrie..

"The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you, you love, well, that's just fabulous. "

I`m lucky I`ve found that someone.
But hey, does that mean he has to tag along, everywhere I go? ;-)

A Gal`s gotta do..

what She`s gotta do... :-)

And so there we were, the three of us as planned, being jostled along in a bus, enroute to the Rosedale Mall one July afternoon. The bright afternoon sun shone down on us, as we skipped along.Happy to be out having fun. It seemed like ages really. It was! What with The G`s super hectic schedule and endless paper deadlines, life had really come to a dead-end. Until now. Today was our day. Today we were going to have some fun, just the three of us.

First stop at The Mall, where I went completely beserk! A lil over the top,I guess, buying kiddie stuff for lil Ishaan. Until a phone call from The G brought me to my senses! He was calling to find out how things were going! Anyway, so after the shopping spree, there was just enough time to grab a quick drink ( at Caribou Cofee! What did ya think?;-) ), before we had to sprint across the length of the mall to the theatre for the movie.

Yup, The Movie of the year that I had been meaning to watch since eternity now.

I know, I know - everyone and their brother has given a rundown on the movie and picked apart everything from the fashion to the shoes to the wall color and the brand of sheets on Charlotte's bed.
I'm late. Carrie fans come, bash me up!
So anyway,
Rather than do a big overview and an autopsy of all the nuances, this is more of a list (albeit a verry long one! ) of impressions and the stream of conscious thoughts that went through my head while I watched the movie. Some of which I was texting the hubby at work as it went on. Generally I thought it was very good although the banter seemed a bit forced compared to the show. But I expected that due to the change is format.

Sure, the show always thrived on salacious dialogues and jaw-dropping haute couture, but there was always a core that was about people and their relationships. The real insight was that you could use the show’s gimmick to really dig into some serious issues like committment, fidelity, sexual identity, family, class issues, and women’s careers.

Ok, I admit the movie is tamer and less gutsy than Sex and the City (SATC) soap episodes. The movie is about girlish vanity and their ongoing search for the perfect man in their lives. Yet it was great fun to watch. There were moments we were in splits.

The only obvious difference between SATC episodes and movie is that the men are no longer easily “disposable” and girls are no longer polygamous. Yet there is much to watch out for: love, hurt, friendship, labels, infidelity and fidelity (yes), fears, loneliness and emotions. All in all, very watchable and laughable.

Anyway, so here`s my two cents :

1. Why the hell are they using a silly Fergie song as the movie opener? Yuck!

2. Labels and Love?? I`ve heard of people moving to a different place to be with someone they love (yours truly!) or to be away from the people they love. But whoever moves to a new city IN SEARCH OF love?? And really, does NYC have better prospects ??

3. That Smith Jared turned into quite a man, didn't he?

4. OMG! What the heck happened to Candice Bergen? I'm not trying to be mean here but she's swelled.

5. I have to admit it. Carrie looked amazing in the Vogue shoot

6. Favorite outfit - the Proenza Schouler outfit she wears to the library. Especially those shoes. Darn! Plus, that library is gorgeous.

7. Saying "Let's just get it over with" during sex?? OUCH!

. I know it's not really a Disney coloring book but it sure looks like it.

9. The Closet - WOW! Not that I would want that exact one, but the dream of so much space... sigh!

10.The whole Carrie wedding thing was well done (but I have to say, she looked a state with a dead bird on her head and very stark red lips/black eye make up) - but it was too predictable. As soon as the dress arrived, I knew it would end in tears. Admit it people, we all had our doubts about Big, didn’t we??

11. Whoever packs boxes wearing those kinda clothes?!

12. You'd think the gang would be used to seeing Samantha by the 5th "homecoming". Geez.

. Okay, yeah, I'd squeal for the 2nd bottle of Champagne.

13. What`s with Charlotte`s squeals all through the first half?? Almost to ‘Utpal Dutt-ish” proportions!! Did she always do that in the t.v episodes? Cant seem to remember!

14.. Just loved how Samantha shuts down Karl the d**khead at the rehearsal dinner. Loved it! But I'm not so sure about Big`s reaction. Seemed so out of character for him, to silently bear the jerk`s totally unacceptable comments.

.15. Carrie’s really over-the-top reaction to Big’s momentary lapse ,pre-altar(which is pbly understandable). There were many ways she could have gone when Big caught up with them in the street - it wasn’t necessary that she had to go to pieces with all of the high drama. It would have been just as - heck, more - believable if she’d whipped that stupid bird out of her hair, told the girls to go back to the church and have a great time at the reception, run off to city hall with Big and then off to Mexico. No humiliation, no drama, just a happy spur of the moment elopement. But then the movie would have suddenly happily ended, except for finishing up the other stories. No, No - dont for a moment think I`m on Big`s side. Just that Carrie`s exit from that scene could have been with a wee bit more self-respect. That`s all.

16. Best act of the movie - Charlotte's face as she yells "NO!" at Big. It was spot on. Worth it to see the movie again just for that moment.

. Did anyone notice that Carrie's phone is all taped up? She's not a technology girl. So she doesn't spend her money there. Nice detail.

18. If Louise is so broke how can she even afford a rental ‘label’ bag? It's still expensive. And the whole thing with her and the "labeled" bags just kind of creeped me out. Plus, I can't see Carrie ever caring about that kinda service. I don't think she would be down with the whole borrow and return thing. It's like pretending you own something. I don't like it.

19. I could so relate to Charlotte's fear about having so many good things happen and being terrified that something terrible was going to happen. Who doesn't feel that sometimes?

20. Dang it! Yes, I sniffed a bit during the New Year's Eve scene.

21. No one who loves shoes that much would wear white kid leather booties to run out into the snow and sleet.

22. When Samantha tells Smith she wants to leave him I was surprised he wasn't more surprised. I would have expected him to think she wants to move back to NYC and not leave him.

23. I thought the whole scene with Samantha scarfing down food on the plane was a tad melodramatic. Doesn’t go with her character somehow!

24. In the show, Miranda was admittedly cynical and could be prickly at times. But she was also clever, funny, a loyal friend, and by the end of the show, a great mother and a wife. I like to think the real Miranda is off on an island somewhere with Steve and Brady, because the redhead I saw onscreen was a nasty, judgmental shrew. The movie opens with her constantly lambasting Steve, for no apparent reason; when he cheats (which is something that Steve would never do), she uses it as an excuse to excise him like an infected boil, never once considering his point of view or the effect their separation might have on their son. By the time she and Steve reunited at the end of the movie, I almost felt sorry for him. In fact I really did.

25. I hate the fact that the "Something Blue" Manolo Blahnik heels in the movie have a higher and skinnier heel than the ones they are selling now. I just know it! Oh yeah, and that's a heck of a price increase from $525 to $895 ( or $ 945 or whatever it is today).

(yeah yeah so I`ve kept a track! Doesn’t hurt – maybe some day I`ll have the dough!)

26. Stanford Blatch deserved some more screen time, instead of reducing him to a stereotype gay character,prancing about in the background.

27. Where on earth was Aidan? I kept thinking that Carrie would end up marrying Aidan(who would of course miraculously be divorced and single! And waiting for her at the altar!).Turns out, the script writers didnt have that particular brainwave! What a pity!

28. After wallowing away, self analyzing and resurrecting her previous self, Carrie’s resolution with Big was too quick, too easy and not a poetic finish (despite the poetry). I kind of wish they hadn’t married at all in the end - I think that would totally befit the character Carrie was projected to be,over all these years.

29. Carrie ends up blaming herself (and Miranda) for Big’s behavior and, of course, like the idiot she is, takes him back at the end. And THIS is supposed to be our happy ending! I couldn’t say I was surprised, but I was certainly horrified. Big treated Carrie with a complete lack of respect. Even during the show, he only wanted her when she was unavailable. Yet somehow, the fact that Carrie “snags” him is supposed to be a romantic, something for women to swoon over. To me, if Carrie would have finally conceded to the fact (and consciously at that) that she was in a co-dependent relationship or what she thought was in love with a toxic, selfish user, the result would have been a lot more palatable. As it is, the show killed anything remotely likeable or admirable about her.

30. The entire movie is a celebration of being a woman, the friendships that save us, the new friends that heal us, the joy of being in love with one`s self and the men we love, in spite of themselves.
So as I looked around the not-so-sold-out theater, I thought “here are independent women, going out to a late show with their girlfriends or alone, and being proud to be a woman.”

Sex and the City: The Movie gives women four beautiful, powerful role models who are confident of themselves and pass that confidence on to their audience. That’s empowerment - being proud of who you are and proud to be a woman.

And so, as we walked out of the theatre to the parking lot where The G was waiting for us, I couldn’t help smiling, as I thought to myself :

“We had a great time today, the three of us – I , me and myself…”

Monday, July 7, 2008

Girl`s Night Out..

Yup :-) The Chicago trip got postponed by a couple of days. And so I`m going to have a girl`s night out today,as per plan. I`m so thrilled! Its been ages and I really need it. So this is what the plan looks like. A trip to Rosedale Mall. Some shopping first. Then grab a drink and rush in for a movie. And then meet up with The G for a dinner date :-)

* Piper waltzes arnd the room! *

And guess what??
I deserve every moment of it! :-)

Details shall follow soon...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I Lost My Heart In San Francisco..

No! Not literally. But as I sit back listening to Tony Bennett`s rendition of this song, I cant help
thinking, "Well almost!

San Fran has joined my prized and coveted list of possible places to live.

It has a great vibe, a trendy, boho-hippy and a downright weird feel to it with wonderful eclectic laid-back stylish people. Architecture amazingly coordinated and brightly coloured houses facing onto clean streets. Every moment was like being on a movie set as you hike up hills (And no, we're not talking lovely rambling hills, but steep gradients, mothers of mountains!). Where the houses seem to be sliding down in sync with the rhythmic clanging of the cable cars as they tango downhill.

San Francisco where the squirrels have attitude. And where the homeless bums are polite. Whilst I mutter stock phrases like "No I don't have any change!" , they respond back with a guffaw, "Credit cards accepted. Not returned though." I smile and shuffle off wanting to scream, I'm jobless and ‘country-less’ too and you think you've got problems... good ol` over dramatic me! They've even managed to make Starbucks outlets look quaint. Talking of which I had my first Starbucks experience out of Minnesota and for the record it was a disgustingly weak coffee!The only sad part was that we didnt have sufficient time for the whole 'Frisco Experience' to slowly seep in. Here`s a brief account of our visit. Not a travelogue ofcourse.Because we did not spend enough time for that. But just a brief glimpse of the few hours that we spent in the city.

First Halt at the Market Plaza and Embarcadero

Amidst the two tallest buildings in the city – Spear and Steuart Tower, there happened to be a carnival of sorts happening that day(lucky us!). A spectacular multi-cultural celebration that showcased the very best of what it truly means to be a part of this city. A great tantalizing array of music, dance and artistry slowly parading through the Market Plaza, to the cheers of millions of city-ites who had gathered to participate in the celebration. One awesome experience! Not that I expected any less of the city named after a religious fanatic, who shed his clothes, talked to birds and recreated himself on the far edge of spiritual bliss!

Next halt at The Fisherman`s Wharf and The Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is a chemistry of moods and colours, a sparkling mirage of blue and white and gold kissed by the crisp breath of the Pacific. Magical spirits hover in the wind over the Pacific waters. The first glimpse of the iconic structure stretching across the Bay, its yawning expanse emerging out of mist and low clouds is truly fantastic…

We pounded the sidewalks (how American of us!) of this city for 3 hours and my feet and calves are definitely feeling it even now! The first couple of hours we spent,walking around the bay area towards the Golden Gate Bridge through Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square, literally wading through the mass of humanity that congregates there for the first glimpse of The Bridge and The Alcatraz Islands. And quite unexpectedly, I did run into the very famous ‘BushMan’!

Took lots of mandatory ‘orkut-ish’ pictures everywhere.

(Not going into specific details about these places because one can google them online anytime.)

After that, The G and I hiked uphill all the way to Lombard Street, instead of following the other much more leveled route (thanks to The G`s expertise in map-reading! Hey wait a minute! Was that really ‘an honest mistake” as The G had claimed later, by way of explanation??!!). So Anyway, San Fran is built on 43 hills,the steepest being at 31.5degrees.....So much fun when you havent slept much, have been constantly on the move for the past 3 days, your backpack weighs 20million pounds and you dont know where youre going!! But I`m not complaining! The efforts were definitely well-worth it.

The first thing I noticed about San Francisco, as we ventured up, were the distinctive homes. The city is filled with two-storyed wooden houses, in what creates the impression of the early 1900's style, just back in fashion.. Such symmetry can create both a sense of idyllic neatness or a sort of dull loathing. I can't help but wonder if the famous San Francisco earthquake of the early 1900's had something to do with the current look. The second thing ofcourse was the mind-blowing view of the bay from the top of the hill. And the final reward was the sight of a million cars trying to manoeuvre the crookedest street in the world, at eight acute angles!That was all the time we had, to tour some parts of the city. But I havent quite had enough. One cant, no matter how long a stretch of time one spends here in the city.

And so, as I sit here listening to Tony Bennett croon 'I left my heart in San Francisco', I think to myself," Well, not quite. But as the Governor of California himself said, - I`ll be back..!"

Friday, July 4, 2008

I tried and tried to fit the pictures in the last blog along with captions and all - No Joy! This sure sucks man! :-((
Anyway, So these are a few pictures. Basically of the Alcatraz from The Fisherman`s Wharf, The various views of the city, Lombard street(the crookedest street in the world, as well the View of the Bay. Also a verry hazy picture of the Golden Gate. Enjoy! :-))

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Legend Passes Away..

India needs to wake up!

A Field Marshal, A war legend who scrpited the nation`s victory over Pakistan in 1971 and the birth of Bangladesh, An iconic soldier who never retired - passes away into eternity, and the Home and Defence Ministry squabble over the warrant of precedence?

What warrant of precedence?

Who other than stodgy government types care what the warrant says?

The custodians of the warrant are supposed to be the crème de la crème,disgusting as that is -

The Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal ministry that takes decisions on amendments to be made to the list(warrant of precedence) and notifies whether the National Flag will fly at half mast in the event of a dignitary`s death. A proposal for making changes or additions to the list are considered by the 'warrant of precedence committee' that is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and includes the secretaries of Home, Defence, and External Affairs minitries as its members.

One of the reasons for the poor turnout at the funeral of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw supposedly, was the confusion about his rank in the warrant of precedence issued by theGovernment of India. It was mentioned that while the three Chiefs had a warrant of precedence, a Field Marshall does not have one, other than when he was in service. Hence the confusion as to what kind of a funeral should be given to him and who should be present at the final farewell. The Government had to take a special decision that Sam Manekshaw should have a state funeral.

It is still not understood though(May be I am psychotic to be expecting such basic etiquettes), as to why The Honorable Chiefs of Staffs of the three forces as well as the Honorable Defence Minister- all found it beneathe their lofty egos or dignity to pay their last respects to the man they can never, ever dream of emulating - let alone come anywhere close to being.

It makes my blood boil. Literally.

We Indians have yet to learn how to honour the Brave.

Ironically, U.S Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama has offered his condolences and acknowledged the greatness of a man, which his own country did not deem fit to do

If the legendary Marshal did not straightaway warrant an amazingly respectful state funeral then who really does? And on what credentials? It is disgusting and deeply disturbing to me that the so-called leaders of my country do not have the ability to comprehend, acknowledge and salute genuine worthiness and unprecedented acts of patriotism and bestow all that is due,upon them who have rightly won this honor.

For those who are not familiar with the technicalities, Mind you, a Field Marshal never retires. So alright, it is an honorary distinction, But it is a rank that is for life and it is the superlative military rank, besides of course the President of India, who continues to be the Supreme Commander.

I have of course,never had the priviledge of meeting The Legend. But I do recall the stories I heard from an old retired general back at Mendhar,Poonch. Sam Manekshaw was his contemporary and colleague.

The General fondly recalled a day when Marshal Manekshaw, then the Army Chief in service was to visit Dalhousie. All officers were smartly lined up in their best uniforms, shining stars, gleaming boots, chests out, stomachs in, waiting for the Marshal to turn up and get to greet him one by one( in the Army terminology, it is called an introduction parade).

Soon the gleaming black staff car swooped in, Regimental Police snapped to attention, the ever smiling Marshal (then a full General), with his ever twinkling eyes, stepped down, and without a single glance towards the lined up officers made straight for the big mustachioed Karnataka native Regimental Police man.

"Kaisa Hai?" his voice boomed.

"Theek hai? Family Kaisa Hai?" he continued as he bent inside the car and pulled out a bottle of water,handing it down to the Havaldar.

“Kitni garmi hai bhai”, said the Marshal, knowing fully well the protocol(read drama/drill) that must have been followed for hours in the blazing sun, before his arrival.

After chatting for a good two minutes with the Havaldar (sergeant), He walked across the parade of men all standing in a corner to run errands at the Commanding Officer`s beck and call(Like fetch water or tea) and spent a good 15 minutes chatting up with them, asking them about their lives in the unit and if the Unit and its Officers were treating them well. Finally Sam made his way back to warmly greet the officers. However, in those 15 minutes he sent out a powerful message, reminding the officers of what they had read on their way to becoming officers at Chetwode Hall in the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun.

'The safety, honour & welfare of your country comes first, always & every time.
The honour, welfare & comfort of the men you command come next.
Your own ease, comfort & safety come last, always & every time.

The Army is peppered with anecdotes of the Marshal, his style, his verve, his panache, his guts, his glory, his personality, his aura, his warmth. Surely, we could have bid him a better goodbye.

An old military saying goes 'Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.'

And whether the top bosses controlling the reigns of our 'great' nation like to agree or not, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw won't fade away in a hurry.