Archive for June, 2008

A Love Story – As Good as it Gets …

Posted on June 30, 2008. Filed under: Personal Stuff |

Marriages are miracles! Even that of Hagar the Horrible, who drags his booty by the hair and dumps her in his dirty den – and becomes her much miserable life long slave. Well, onto this one.
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Imagine – of all things – a relegous service for a dear departed elderly and that in a dusty decrepit Punjab village in the middle of nowhere. And on the last day of a torrid June – some forty years ago.
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First here is this much mature major – touching thirty – who is single despite extreme pressure, ever since he was ten, from one and all who remained hell bent that he marry into this family – first cousin, then niece and then another – as they grew up! And there was much from else where too – due considerations of family and what have you! But he had weathered it all.
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Sheer chance, absolute accident have him accompanying his Mom to this function. He had impulsively come on a weeks leave – from cool salubriious Lansdowne – to see his folks. Good that he came because his father was not well and he was ordered to attend this Bhog thing before he caught the train back.
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He is a total stranger in this family and so sits next to his mom in the women’s group. It is 3 pm and hot and he goes to scout for water.
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As he turns a corner – coming head on – is this beautiful sixteen, going on seventeen Venus made by God – when he had nothing to do. She is stunningly beautiful and it shows that she has character and class. She is without doubt the most attractive, arresting, poised, beautiful creature he has ever laid eyes on – and he is no green horn either!
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Instinctively he is as sure as hell that she is the one person he would like to marry.
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She is carrying a tray of water filled glasses so he returns to his place near his mom and the hostess. The girl shows water to all the women but omits him – as he had anticipated. The hostess asks her to show him also but he declines – Damn you its not water that I want from you!!!
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Thirsty he is and so a wee later he goes to where the water is and is in to his second glass when she reappears. She raises a brow surprised but ignores him. He has difficulty breathing.
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The ceremony over, tea is served and now is his opportunity. He observes her critically, very, very minutely – inch by inch, part by part, limb by limb – weighing and judging every bit and parcel of her body, mind and soul.
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He tries hard to get to the inner person – putting physiognomy or whatever, to its acid test. He does not find anything to warrant raising of a red signal and in vain he looks for the one thing that would put him off. Finally he concludes she has character, class and is the genuine article – and no pushover either.
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As she holds her glass of tea, filled to the very brim, she is conscious of being scrutinized. Self- consciously she chatters cheerily. Her voice is light and lyrical.
She finishes her tea – to the last drop. She has noticed how she has been examined and she is not embarrassed but pleasantly pleased and like all women, flattered with such mature masculine attention.
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The Bard’s ‘Troilus and Cressid’ comes to mind – where Ulysses sums up Cressid, “There is language in her eye, her cheek, her lip – nay her foot speaks. Her wanton spirits look out of every joint and motif of her body – O these Encounterers, that give a coasting welcome ere it comes and wide unclasp their thoughts to every tickling reader! Set them down for sluttish spoils of humanity and daughters of the game”. BUT SHE IS NO SUCH!
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She wonders as to who this guy could be – as he is much older and clean shaven and could be the husband of one of the few sari clad women guests. Never the less she follows him as he is led into the inner quarters to meet an old dowager – who on being told whose son he is, tries to bless him only to find him clean shaven! She gives him a resounding slap on the face and asks why has he done such a shameful thing. She wonders even more.
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He is pleased with himself as he has noted that apart from her, in that large gathering, there was only one solitary soul who has observed him appraising her. And now time to depart – but he has made his decision and he announces it to his surprised family on the drive back. But alas none of them quite know who was the girl serving the water!
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At Najibabad it is 4 am and I take the wheel of the small truck which has come for me. It is a sublime forested winding drive and after a sharp bend, standing in the center of the road is this large Bara Singa. No time to brake and the vehicle hits the beast and goes wobbling right over it. Regaining control, I look back and see the animal groggily dragging itself up and wobbling into the forest. I take it as a good omen.
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First Hurdle. I write to the guy in whose house the function took place – a curtsy thing to establish base. My folks have made enquiries and found that the damsel is the daughter of a younger brother of my father’s old friend who as SHO was posted in our area when my father was an Hony Magistrate in the 1930s.
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My father is not at all keen on the match as he thinks they can be of little help in helping me manage myself after he goes. In October, I get a reply to my note saying that after much persuasion, the father of the girl has Okayed the match.
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Alas now there is once again, intense pressure on me to marry into the brothers in laws.
I have a few doubts re the age difference but a timely Time Magazine article on May and Dec Marriages gives confidence. I hold out for a couple months when lady luck smiles in the form of a new proposal – anathema to my brothers family – which makes them go flat out to help me!
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Thus it is that on Mar 22nd my brother and party drag a reluctant father to the girls place – they have been given only an hours notice for the engagement – a day before I catch my train to Pune where I stand posted.
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New hurdle. I come on a months leave in first week Apr hoping to get married and return with wife. Alas the girls side say the notice is too short and the marriage should be towards the end of the year. This is the straw that broke the camels back and I thought was he unkindest cut. I think what the heck – if it is not to happen then it will not happen! I respond saying that if it has to happen, then it is now or we forget the idea. To my great good fortune an uncle arrives, confirms and wants the date.
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I ask my father. He is disinterested and says he will not attend due to some reason which he alone understands. Of handedly I give the date as 5 May which is a Monday and leaves me a week to return to Pune.
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On May 1st my father asks me to take him to Jalandhar where we arrive early and ring the bell of the guys who make the Almanac. These worthies meet us after their ablutions and flatly tell me that they will give in writing that should we get married on May 5, then we will be separated within six months. Where upon my father says he has done his bit leaving me to decide.
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My mother is willing to go to the girls house that day itself and plead for a date change. Alas, they feel the request a wee too much. On the journey from their village to where we are staying, I am driving when a fast driven car wants a pass and as I am completely pissed off, I crave a fight.
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The occupants take a dangerous pass, get off and embrace me – they are cousins of my wife to be and they confirm that they will come up with something. They arrange for the actual marriage on May 3rd and the festivities as planned on May 5.
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Well, if that is not one hell of a yarn, nothing is. My decision, based on an hour of close observation, has stood the test of time. Despite her youth and the age difference, she proves herself more courageous, more balanced, more sensible and a much better all round person than her Shakespeare mouthing husband.
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His friends make up for all shortfalls. Eli Mirzoeff has been sent from Mumbai by his sick wife. The Solomons have sent the scotch as they are in Milan. Chottu Jojo Sengupta (‘When I consider how my light is spent …… ‘) has come from Calcutta. Vijay Kumar, the VrC, has come from Chamba. The ebullient DP and ND have come from the Fourth. RP, Sudesh Bhasin, Doc Sundaram and Herbert Akhtar Ali have come from the Center.
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And there are several unknowns who have joined Jojo to enjoy his company. In fact one is smitten and asks if a girl is available for marriage but he is told that this one is booked but there are plenty others around. There is enough whiskey from Lansdowne to drown all.
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Jogo makes a prophecy when he tells me, “Now on wards your friends will be the ones you like from among the husbands of your wife’s friends!”
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The thing is that without ever seeing this wonderful girl again, let alone meeting or talking one word and despite the reservations of both families – indeed even open hostility of some quarters – interference, agendas and game plans and what have you – we got married.
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All within a year of laying eyes on her. Surely as Good a Miracle as Any!
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“O Fame! If ever I took delight in thy praises, it was less for the note of thy high sounding phrases than it was to see the eyes of the Dear One discover that I was not unworthy to love her. There chiefly I sought thee. There only I found thee. Her glance was the best of the rays that surround thee!”

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Compete with Yourself, says the Great Gibbon …

Posted on June 30, 2008. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personal Magnetism |

We improve ourselves by victories over ourselves.

There must be contest and we must win.

All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.

Edward Gibbon

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A Personal Tribute – Sam Manekshaw …

Posted on June 28, 2008. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities |

Sam Manekshaw passed away at age 94 early yesterday …

What does he leave behind? Memories of his jaunty, dapper, debonair, dashing figure – a beauty of a front for his massive, cheery, exuberant persona – with head held high and feet firmly planted on the ground.

A personality which had the rare common touch and rarer sensibilities. All laced with biting wit but with never ever a touch of any thing mean or anything small. We could go on and on and not do justice to this truly Great, Big and Wonderful Man.

Still, what would be the one single quality or lack thereof that would best do justice and describe this truly Grand Soul?

May be it is the fact that this very human person was devoid of that one single trait most common to the human race – Negativity. Smallness, Pettiness, Hate, Jealousy, Meanness, Selfishness and the like were all unknown and foreign to him.

Even at the end he had Nothing to say about the one person, who in her pettiness and jealousy even stopped his pension leaving it to a latter day President to give a Check covering his arrears as he lay on his deathbed.

Sam, maybe just liked life too much to go around wasting time hating any one or any thing. Like the melancholy Lincolns of the world. he knew that life is too short and we humans all too frail and we all need is a Nelsonian eye to blank our imperfections and all too human frailties.

“Large was his bounty and his soul sincere. Heaven did a recompense as largely send. He gave to misery, all he had – a Tear. He gained from Heaven, all he wished – a Friend. No further seek his merits to disclose or draw his frailties from their dead abode. There they alike, in trembling hope repose on the Bosom of his Father and his God”.

 

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‘Lonesome Dove’ … a Great Western …

Posted on June 26, 2008. Filed under: Books, Movies |

Have been seeing ‘Lonsome Dove’ and its connects the last week or so. Am referring to the first of the series which is also covered in the novel.

To say that it is Good is an understatement. Very very real life. No super heroes or villains for that matter. Just ordinary folk caught up in what is real life.

Shows that our own in built strengths and weaknesses result in causes and  effects. And of course the final outcome.

A true depiction of the Western Era – as Gone With The Wind was for the Civil War Era.

Fair and balanced to both the Frontier men and women and as well to the American Indian.

The Indian knew how to live without want, to suffer without complaint and to die singing”.

The Book and the Film are both, again like GWTW, superlative.

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Real Soldiering! George Bernard Shaw’s – ‘Arms and the Man’

Posted on June 24, 2008. Filed under: Books, From a Services Career, Great Writing, Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, Personalities, Quotes |

George Bernard Shaws ‘Arms and the Man’ has its title from the opening words of Virgil’s Aeneid.

The play was Shaw’s first commercial success. He was called on stage after the curtain, where he received enthusiastic applause. However, amidst the cheers, one audience member booed. Shaw replied, in characteristic fashion: “My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?”

Here are some of its more memorable lines about Soldiers and Soldiering from a True Pro – The Chocolate Cream Soldier.

All soldiers, dear lady, are  scared of death. It is our duty to live as long as we can.

Remember, nine soldiers out of ten  are born fools.

A narrow shave; but a miss is as good as a mile.

You can always tell an old soldier by the insides of his  holsters and cartridge boxes;  the young ones carry ammunition;  the older ones carry grub.

How is it that you have beaten us just now? Sheer ignorance of the art of war. I never saw anything so unprofessional; throwing a regiment of cavalry on a battery of machine guns with the dead certainty that if they went off, not man or beast would come through. I could not believe my eyes. But when  the sergeant ran up, white as a sheet,  saying we had the wrong ammunition, we laughed at the other side of our mouths. Of course they cut us to ribbons. And there was this Don Quixote, flourishing like a drum major thinking he had done the cleverest thing possible, whereas he should be court marshaled. Of all the fools let loose on a field of battle, he must be the maddest. He and his regiment simply committed suicide –  only the pistol did not fire.

Not fair for you to have led me on. Perhaps I am quite wrong; no doubt I am. Most likely he had got wind of the cartridge business and knew it was a safe job!

My dear young lady,  now what are the two things that happen to a soldier so often that he begins to think nothing of them? One is hearing people tell all sorts of lies all of the time and the other is having his life saved by all sorts of people in all sorts of ways.

No Sir, I did not ask the reason when you cried on and now I don’t ask the reason when you cry off. I am a professional soldier. I fight when I have to and am very glad when I dont have to. You are an amateur. You think fighting is fun.

I am a man who spoilt all his chances in life through an incurably romantic disposition; who ran away twice from home, who joined the army instead of his fathers business and who, running for dear life, climbed the balcony of a lady’s bed chamber instead  of diving into the nearest cellar.

The Lady has given her heart to her  ‘Chocolate Cream Soldier’.

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Napoleon Hill’s … Nuggets

Posted on June 23, 2008. Filed under: Books, Guide Posts |

1 Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire – in figures.  

2. Determine in your mind what you intend to give for the money.

3. Fix a date by which you intend to get the money.     

4. Create a definite plan re how you intend to get the money … and put it into practice forthwith. 

5. Write out a clear precise statement covering all of the above. ……………………………………………………  Read your statement getting up and before going to bed at night. See and feel and beleive in what you read.

Napoleon Hill (1883 -1970). American author and producer of the modern genre of personal success literature. His most famous work, Think and Grow Rich, is one of the best-selling books of all time. Hill stated in his writings, people are free to believe what they want to believe. His works examined the power of personal beliefs, and the role they play in personal success. “‘What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” is the starting point. He showed how achievement actually occurs, and a formula for it that puts success in reach for the average person’. Acording to Hill, 98% of people had no firm beliefs, putting true success firmly out of reach.

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Dale Carnegie … Grand Daddy of ‘People Skills’

Posted on June 19, 2008. Filed under: Books, Guide Posts |

Dale Carnegie died aged 67 in 1955. He was a great developer of  courses in self-improvement, public speaking and interpersonal skills. Born in poverty, his ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, was published in 1936 and remains a massive bestseller that is popular even today.

I first came across Dale when I was a teen (and regrettably learnt little). Well, here he is once again -hopefully this time it will be more beneficial. His laws are eternal and valid for all time.

First

If you want to gather honey, dont kick over the beehive.” So, Never, never Criticize, Condemn or ComplainAny fool can do that!

It requires character and self control to understand and forgive. Always always Appreciate Appreciate Appreciate. Finally, Arouse an eager desire or better still, a want – in others as well as yourself to do this that or the other.

Second

Be interested in others. A persons name is the sweetest sound in any language.

Make the other feel important. Talk about his interests and better still let him/her do all the talking.  Be a Very Very Good Listener.

Third

Best way of winning an argument is to avoid it.

Begin in a friendly manner. Sympathize with the desires and needs of the other.

Let the other do most of the talking. Try to honestly understand and see the other’s point of view.

Make the other feel that your idea is his/hers. Never Never say, ‘You are wrong or better still – You are an idiot’

Have the other keep saying Yes Yes.

If you are wrong, admit it. Always remember that genuine frankness is magnetic.

Dramatize or dress your ideas and appeal to the higher values. And finally you could even throw a friendlly challenge.

Fourth

A leaders job is to lead from up front. And maybe to change attitudes and behaviour.

Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise .

Give the other a reputation to live up to. Make them happy doing your stuff.

And – Associate yourself with the mistakes of others.

Always Excuse Excuse and Encourage Encourage. Never Condemn. Always and Always Save Face.

Never have them back against the wall with no route or exit to save face.

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SeaBiscuit – Perenniel ‘Underdog’ …

Posted on June 17, 2008. Filed under: Books, Personalities |

A true representative of the down trodden and the depressed of the Depression years, was this short statured, crooked legged, ill luck dogged, lazy little thorough bred. He had hardly won any race till age three despite being under the supervision of an all time Great Trainer who was a legend in his life time.

Then in new surroundings, this little creature suddenly began to tease and destroy the competition -, which among others, had two winners of the Triple and who were in their prime, This horse was almost human, Indeed, he was all Heart.  

He went onto become an All Time Legend – whose life size bronze statue adorns the Santa Anita Race Track. 

All courtesy a trio consisting of a tragedy struck bicycle mechanic turned car dealer, who laid faith in an ancient, out of sync trainer, who instinctively tapped the hidden prowess of this nondescript thoroughbred. He had seen him by chance and forced his employer buy against his sane judgement. Then there was the half blind ex prizefighter turned jockey who till then had not won many races but who went onto become a famed jockey.

Read …

http://www.seabiscuitonline.com/

Here is an excerpt from the Book on one of the All Time Greatest One on One Races –

“Midway through this one on one, most famed horse race of the 20th Century, when the great, hitherto perennial start to finish leader and easy winner of the Triple  – ‘War Admiral’ (sired by Man-of-War, who was also the Biscuits Grand Pa), made his move, the crowd cheered.

Seabiscuit let him draw level, but then locked his eyes into those of his opponent and refused to let him pass.

Training, strategy and cunning had given the Biscuit a chance in a race he could not have won. Now it was up to this gutsy little horse. It was all a question of Heart and boiled down to which horse would break first.

War Admiral continued to run by the Biscuits side for the full turn but the Biscuit just would not let him pass. The Admiral went on fighting gamely but as they came into the straight – with the Crowd roaring – it was the Admiral who, cracked.

The Biscuit then poured it on – going on to win by Four Lengths!.

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Pitt on America’s Founding Fathers …

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: American Thinkers, Personalities, The English |

William Pitt, Earl of Chatham was a Prime Minister in whose honor the two American cities of Pittsburgh, and Chatham University are named; he was a supporter of the Americans and gave them their war cry, “No taxation without representation”. Termed ‘the old ‘Lion’ , he was Winston Churchill ‘s  nearest prototype  – in eloquence as well as leadership in Englands earlier hour of peril.

Ben Franklin was an interested spectator in the House of Lords when Pitt the Elder praised the American Founding Fathers. Franklin –

“Dr Franklin presents his best respects to Lord Stanhope, with many thanks to his Lordship and Lord Chatham, for the communication of so authetic a copy of the motion. Dr Franklin is filled with admiration of that truly great man. He has seen, in the course of his life, sometimes eloquence without wisdom and often wisdom without eloquence; in the present instance he sees  both united and both, as he thinks, in the highest degree possible”.

Pitt’s Speech in the House of Lords on the Founding Fathers of the US  –

“When you look at the papers transmitted to us from America, when you consider their decency, firmness and wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause and wish to make it your own’.

“For myself, I must declare and avow that in all my reading and observation; and it has been my favourite study – I have read Thucydides and have studied and admired the master states of the world – that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity and wisdom of conclusion, under such a complication of difficult circumstances, ,,, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the General Congress in Philadelphia’.

“I trust it is obvious to your Lordships that all attempts to impose servitude on such men, … to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation, … must be vain, … must be fatal”.

 

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Marx Brothers – ‘Monkey Buisness’

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: Movies |

The Marx Brothers were a great theatrical act.
With their sharp and bizarre sense of humor, they satirized high society and hypocrisy with their improvised comedy in free form scenarios.

A famous early example was when Harpo tells a chorus girl to run across the stage in front of Groucho during his act to see if Groucho would be thrown off. To the audience’s delight, Groucho merely reacts by calmly checking his watch and commenting, “First time I ever saw a taxi hail a passenger” .

S J Perelman writes –

“Well,  when they got back, they summoned us for a reading of our script for Monkey Buisness.which became one of early Hollywood’s Funniest Movies. 

They came with their lawyers and accountants and masseurs and dentists — 23 people, plus Zeppo’s two Afghans and Chico’s schnauzer and I read for 85 minutes in absolute silence.

At the end, Chico says, ‘Whaddya think, Groucho? 

 Groucho took the cigar out of his mouth, and said, “Stinks!”  

And they all got up and walked out”

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