Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool (LBC Post)

One morning, when I went to school in 1977, or was it 1978, when I was a first or second year student in the Irish secondary school system (which is 7th or 8th Class in India) I noticed something very odd indeed. It was a notice pinned to the notice board. It read as follows:


'The Inter' or the Intermediate Certificate Examination as it was known then, now the Junior Certificate Examination, was a pretty crucial examination. It's called the 'Class Ten Board Examination' in India and the High School Certificate elsewhere.

I knew something was wrong, but couldn't quite figure it out. The notice sparked a minor frenzy. When the date was revealed to be April the 1st, everything made sense.

It's strange how the 1st April can take some people by surprise.

I haven't noticed anything unusual this year. Except that today, I have a rather horrible toothache. But I'll have to go get it sorted.

April Fool jokes are permissible only up to midday. Thank God. After that, you can say:

April Fool is dead and gone,
You're the fool to carry on.

Happy April Fool's Day. Hope no-one caught you out.

My thanks are due to 'Keerati' at FreeDigitalPhotos for use of the image "April Fool Day On 1st Day Of Month"

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) post.  The LBC is the blogging group to which I've belonged for several years. I'm returning today after an absence of several months. We blog on Fridays on a common topic and we are, in no particular order, Rummuser, AshokgaelikaaLinMaxiPadmumPravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Neerja Bhanot Was A Team Leader, Not a Lone Heroine!

There's a new Bollywood movie out, 'Neerja'. It's heroine, played by Indian actor Sonam Kapoor, is Neerja Bhanot, an Indian Pan Am flight attendent who gave her life while executing her duties as a flight attendent on a flight which suffered an attempted hijack by Palestinian terrorists. Neerja Bhanot's grace under pressure and heroic behaviour, like alerting the flight crew of the hijack, thus enabling it to escape (and effectively disablimg the plane) and hiding the passports of US citizen passengers to save them from being singled out by the terrorists, has won her accolades and awards from three countries, Pakistan, USA and India. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am told by my son, who has, that the story totally focusses on the story from Neerja's point of view.  It shows her grit and determination, going back to her modelling career and joining the airlines after her arranged marriage collapsed. Although she was only 23, her heroism is undoubted and was witnessed by many passengers on that fateful day. Everyone in India now knows that Neerja stayed on the plane until the last passenger left and suffered several bullets at point blank range for her pains. It was tragic that her young life was cut short.

Neerja Bhanot was a beautiful young woman who also took on modelling assignments. The film has been produced in cooperation with her family. Actual photographs of Neerja have been used as publicity for this movie and a few days prior to the its release, the last recorded announcement Neerja made has also been used as publicity. It's truly awesome to hear Neerja Bhanot welcoming passengers on board and acquainting them of the details of their soon-to-be-airborne flight. No doubt, Neerja's beautiful photographs, perfect diction and heroic reputation has piqued a lot of people's curiosity. The film is deservedly a success.

But in the run-up to the film's release, something was bothering me, something just didn't feel right. I know what it was now. On a Facebook thread a few days after 'Neerja's release, a woman, claiming to have been a fellow flight attendant on the same flight, expressed her dissatisfaction with the movie, claiming that it gave Neerja Bhanot 'undeserved adulation'. She was joined on that thread by several others who appear to have been cabin crew that day too.

While the Bhanot family, Neerja Bhanot's two elder brothers and late mother, got to give a lot of input into the movie, it appears that the flight crew of that ill-fated Pan Am flight were not consulted about anything to do with the hijack experience. If this is the case, then I'm not at all surprised that the surviving flight crew members feels that the movie is closer to fiction than reality.

Neerja Bhanot (or rather, Neerja Mishra as she was originally reported to be, probably because this must be her married name) was the seniormost flight attendant on board and carried out her duty faithfully until her last breath. However, the movie's claim that she single-handedly saved the lives of 340 people sounds like exaggeration gone crazy. The truth is that there was a team behind Neerja Bhanot that day and that team seems to have been forgotten by modern India.

That team, consisting of several people with names like Nupoor, Sherene, Astrid, Sunshine and Massey and probably others also, worked together that day to keep the passengers safe and sound. During the long hijack ordeal, they cooperated with the purser, Neerja Bhanot, obeying her instructions in informing the flight crew of the hijack, hiding the American passports, serving the coffee and sandwiches and staying alert throughout. When the terrorists started showering bullets, I'm sure they must have been there along with Neerja, cooperating in evacuating every passenger. There must have been several evacuation points on that plane.

When Neerja's team reassembled outside and realised that she wasn't there, they went inside to get her and found she had been fatally hit. They got her out but unfortunately, she expired before she could get medical treatment. Neerja Bhanot's heroism, professionalism and devotion to duty has been recognised in three countries and her place in history is assured.

But her fellow crew members have been totally forgotten. And that is wrong.

Neerja Bhanot was a heroine. But there was a team of  Indian cabin crew with her who were, in my humble opinion, no less heroic.They have been entirely forgotten. That is a shame.

Neerja's colleague probably made an unfortunate choice of words when she spoke about 'undeserved adulation' and brought the wrath of the masses down on her head. She probably sounded like she begrudged Neerja Bhanot the credit which is her due. But I felt her pain. I think I know where she was coming from.

My own sister is a trained flight attendant with an unblemished record of over twenty years on an international airline. From the little I know, I would say that Neerja Bhanot did what she was trained to do, unfortunately losing her life in the process.The rest of the cabin crew seemed to have proved themselves too. They were all rewarded with permanent jobs by the airline. There is no telling of the trauma they must have suffered from that experience.

All the cabin crew on that fateful day were heroes. They all put their lives on the line for their passengers. They should have all been awarded by the government of their own country, if not by Pakistan or USA.

It is well documented that Neerja Bhanot put the lives of her passengers before her own. I think she would be very sad to see the way her cabin crew has been ignored and forgotten.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Simplicity - LBC Post

Simple Simon met a pieman
Going to the fair
Said Simple Simon to the pieman
Let me taste your ware

The pieman said to Simple Simon
Show me first your penny
Said Simple Simon to the pieman
Indeed I have not any

I don't know who made up this old English rhyme, but it apparently shows a man of slow wits being put in his place when he tries to buy something without money. Oh, the harsh realities of life! My understanding of the word 'simple' was always something along the lines of  'stupid'. 'Are you simple?' is a term of abuse where I come from, often said to someone who is a bit slow on the uptake.

I've often been slow on the uptake, although I know I'm not without intelligence. I remember a woman at work being extremely bitchy towards me back in the day, in my working days in Ireland, and with my now-enhanced awareness, I realise I was beyond her bitchiness. I just didn't get when she was trying to put me down. If that makes me 'simple' I'd say it was a good thing. It saved me a lot of pain at the time.

Simple wasn't always negative. I remember a very nice, pure white soap, called 'Simple Soap', available years ago in Ireland and the UK. This was a soap for people who were allergic to the perfumes and additives which mostly appear in soap today.  The word 'simple' in this context meant something pure and good.

In India, sometimes 'Simple' is a girl's name, although I've never actually met any girl bearing that name. But in Indian English,'simple' means something very good and positive. You'd often hear people speaking approvingly of a 'sweet, simple girl', for example. Usually the girl they want to marry their son.

Simplicity is good because it's usually uncomplicated and easy to get along with.  I'm all for simplicity in every area of life.  For me, the opposite of 'simplicity' is 'complicated' and God between us and all harm (as we say in Ireland - or used to say, rather), I'm not into 'complicated' at all. Give me 'simplicity' any day. The less complications the better, as far as I'm concerned.

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) post.  The LBC is the blogging group to which I've belonged for several years.  We blog on Fridays on a common topic and we are, in no particular order, Rummuser,  AshokgaelikaaLinMaxiPadmumPravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.

Thanks to artur84 at for the image, 'Water Glass'.  A very simple image indeed and perfect for my post.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Climate in my Hometown LBC Post

I am originally from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. We have a maritime climate, neither too hot nor too cold. Cool, wet winters and warm summers.  We get the odd freak weather condition, like several feet of snow, once in a while to make life interesting.  Pretty ideal really.  

Now I reside in Lucknow in north India. In the Indo-Gangetic plain.  Cold dry winters, roasting hot summers and a humid rainy season.  It seems like it's always too hot or too cold. Or too humid. Humidity is something I dread.  It brings itching, rashes and all of that.  Okay, too hot will work for me. So will too cold (although I hate dry cold, that's energy-sapping). But humidity is .......not at all good. And that's a euphemism if ever there was one,. 

I wish to dedicate this post to my beloved and erudite rakhi brother Rummuser, who suggested this topic.

And thanks to for the above illustration, 'Paper Weather Icon Illustration' by SweetCrisis.

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserPravin,  ShackmanMaxi,  The Old Fossil Lin and Ashok, and  Padmum have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I wouldn't have otherwise done so.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

This and That - LBC Blog Post

My daughter, whom I personally call 'the princess', is studying history and political science nowadays.  Sometimes, when I get a spare minute, which admittedly isn't often, I look over her shoulder and have a look at her course material.

I got to proof-read one of her essays recently on an Indian patriot named Subhas Chandra Bose.  Now as someone who has been involved with or lived in India for the last thirty-odd years, I have read my share of official Indian history and could be forgiven for thinking that the Indian freedom struggle was all about Pandit Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi and very few others.  

But that's wrong.  Very wrong.

Yes, I'd heard about Subhas Chandra Bose here and there, but I'd never really taken much notice of his story.  However, I looked it up yesterday and I was literally stunned.

The man was phenomenal. He dared to do what very few would ever think of doing. If he had been successful in his mission, the story of modern India would have read quite differently. The man literally sacrificed everything for his country.

I just want to say that I am an apolitical person.  I can't vote because I'm not an Indian citizen and I don't live in my own country.  Also, I don't believe in violence and I would have probably preferred Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent approach had I been an Indian living through the freedom struggle. But having said that....

Just like Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, Subhas Chandra Bose was born in a wealthy lawyer's family. He excelled in studies and passed the examinations to join the Indian Civil Service in 1920.  However, it seemed wrong to him to serve an administration to which he could not be loyal, as he felt that India should try to become independent of foreign rule. So he left and edited a newspaper which promoted the independence ideology.  He joined the Indian National Congress and worked to raise the people's awareness of the need to break free of colonial domination. He was quite the intellectual and from the little I've read, was a very lucid writer. However, first and foremost, he was a man of action. 

From the time he left the government service in 1921 until the late 1930s, he worked very hard to promote the idea of independence for India.  He also travelled to Europe and wrote some books about the Indian freedom struggle. He appears to have visited Ireland too and met Eamon De Valera, Ireland's first Taoiseach (Prime Minister).

The Second World War sees him coming into his own.  He decided that India should not support Britain during the war.  There were many who disagreed, so he walked alone in this respect, although, of course, he had his followers. It was suggested to him that he should try to go to Germany and meet the German Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, so they could co-operate with each other because of their 
common anti-British stance.

At this time, he was being watched by the administration.  He confined himself to his room, pleading illness and grew a beard. Then one night, dressed as a Pathan tribesman, he fled from Calcutta to Afghanistan. It must have taken a long time to reach Afghanistan because there's a huge amount of land to cover to get from one to the other.  From Kabul he went to Moscow, another huge journey and from Moscow to Germany where he was able to meet Adolf Hitler, who apparently received him warmly.  Bose stayed in Germany for several years and he lived with Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian woman he'd met and secretly married several years earlier, when they worked on a book together. During this time their daughter Anita was born.  Bose was well into his forties by this time.

Meanwhile, the Indians living in Asian countries had begun to get together and try to do their bit for Indian independence. Some meetings took place and it was decided to call Bose to Japan and get him to head a provisional government of free India and lead a free Indian army. How did they know where to send him the message?  It might have been known in Japan, Germany's ally, that Bose was a guest of the German government.

Bose seems to have been disillusioned with Germany.  He was a man who believed in equality regardless of caste and creed. He may have noticed the racism in the German regime. He was also horrified when Germany invaded Russia, a country he admired. Somehow, he realised that his purpose would be better achieved going to Japan.  So, he slipped away quietly in a German submarine and travelled halfway around the world, transferring to a Japanese submarine on the way and eventually ending up in Japan. He was made the leader of the Provisional Free Indian Government and he took the headship of the Indian National Army. On the north-east side of the country, Bose's INA bravely fought the British and the women soldiers drew great admiration from many for their bravery and endurance.  However, when the USA dropped the atom bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered, Bose knew that it was time to give up. He boarded a plane in Saigon and it was reported to have crashed on the island of Formosa, now Taiwan.  Bose reportedly died in the plane crash.

The end of the man's life was tragic, but what a life he lead! His story reads like a thriller in parts I mean, not every person can just get around the world, from Germany to Japan on a freaking submarine!  Sorry, two submarines! A Bengali speaking man, communicating in Germans and Japanese people - it's an awesome story by anyone's standards.

We don't hear quite as much about Subhas Chandra Bose as we do about other heroes of the Indian freedom struggle, but this man deserves to be remembered for his innovative efforts to serve his country and for his remarkable tenacity.

He hasn't been forgotten in India. His legend lives on, including an interesting story that he didn't actually die in the plane crash in Formosa, but I'm not even going to go there. That's another story entirely.

In my apolitical way, I just think the man was amazing.  That's about it! 

What does Subhas Chandra Bose have to do with this and that, the blog post topic for the LBC this week?  Nothing really. That topic was proposed by me and nothing has anything to do with it. If I'd written this post two hours before, it probably would have been about stray dogs, a favourite topic of mine.

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserPravin,  ShackmanMaxi,  The Old Fossil Lin and Ashok, and  Padmum have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I wouldn't have otherwise done so. 

Thanks to freedigitalphotos for the image, 'Parachutist' by Watiporn

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Women's Health Month

Did anyone who reads this blog by any chance know that May is Women's Health Month?

Indeed, some may ask, why should there be a women's health month? As in, are men and children not equally important/ Well, of course they are, but, generally speaking, the chances are, children have a mother and men have a wife or a partner to keeps an eye on their health matters. More often than not, the woman takes care of partner and kids and neglects herself.

I recently got myself analysed and discovered that I am eighteen kilos over the desired weight. This is bad news for my health. I've decided to do something about it.  From now on, I'm going to watch what I eat and drink and step up my physical activity. I plan to lose the whole 18 kilos.  I spoke to the expert at a local health centre who advised me to sign up for their programme. It involves the use of machinery and guarantees results.

The truth is, though, I already have experience of successful slimming in the past and I know what I have to do.  I just have to apply the knowledge that I have in my head and make sure that I do so.  I think that deep down, every woman knows what she has to do for the sake of her health. It's applying that knowledge that makes the difference. 

I was invited to write this post regarding Women's Health Month by an insurance company called Oscar. I'm not getting anything in exchange for writing this post, but they did supply me with a rather nice checklist of items to keep in mind regarding your health, no matter what age you are.  Besides, as a blogger, it gives me immense pleasure to help spread the word about something so worthwhile.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Synaesthesia - LBC Post

I've been absent from my blogging for a long time.  My life has been a bit crazy lately.  I'm writing a novel and I also had a lot of work going on.  Editing and writing text at home.  Between that and housework, I'm rightly shanghaied now, to misquote Sean O'Casey.  Anyone out there familiar with Sean O'Casey? Remember THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS?  I loved that play, particularly the character called Bessie Burgess.  She was the one who told the main characters "you're all rightly Shanghaied now!"

We have some new LBC members.  I have not yet welcomed them, for which I do apologize.  I'd better get back to regular blogging again and visit all my old blogging friends.  But yeah....our LBC topic this week (the LBC is the Loose Bloggers Consortium, my blogging group) is SYNAESTHESIA.  And all I have to say to that is what the..........?!...I have no idea what it means.  Curious, I went over to my brother's blog to see what the heck he's made of this topic.  You know my brother, don't you?  Ramana?  The handsome and erudite blogger from Pune??  Okay, he's my adopted brother. So what?  I like saying 'my brother".  It's something I could never say when I was younger.

Synaesthesia is something to do with feeling something in another sense.  Does that make sense?  Of course it doesn't.  Well, I am a person who is governed by my ears.  I am sensitive to what I hear.  If someone ever says something to me in the wrong tone of voice, I can't handle it.  I swear, I read words and I can hear tone and emphasis even if the author probably didn't mean it.  I was once attacked by a blogger/author in my own comment box (I later discovered she'd received some spam in her inbox with my name on it - it was a stunt by some social network to have people their site) and I felt as if I'd been kicked in the gut.  I probably hadn't, but I always 'hear' the words I read in my head.  When I read her (now deleted) words 'stop dumping your shit in my mailbox'  my own brain supplied the sound effects. It's that real.......  I had the person's name written along with the story, but I deleted it.  My purpose in sharing the story was to share a story, not to slander someone.  This person is some sort of religious leader and is revered among bloggers and I have no wish to spoil anyone's reputation.

I'm the one who'll tell you your colours are 'loud'.  If they are and if I feel like being open with you. If I don't, I'll just say nothing and probably talk about it afterwards, preferably to someone who doesn't know you, because I don't like gossip.  I only like hearing nice things.  Nice positive things, actually.  Loud colours, loud decor, loud people - from these things I like protection. The poppies in the above photograph are a bit loud, but in this case, I like it.  I am, however, a first class chatterbox who talks non-stop from morning to night.  There's always something going on in my head.  How's that for a contradiction?

Can I 'hear' pain?  Sometimes, yes.  Can I hear what people are saying to me?  If I'm listening, yes.

Did I get what synasthesia was about?  Probably not.  But that's me.........sometimes I just get it.  And sometimes, I just don't get it.......if you know what I mean!!!!!

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including Rummuser, Pravin,  ShackmanMaxi,  The Old Fossil Lin and Ashok, and  Padmum have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I wouldn't have otherwise done so. 

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at