30 December 2008

I Hit a Century

In this Cricket Crazy Nation it would be madness to let this news just lie down and die. So here I am with my Tom-Toms and Pom-Poms and loudly declaring to the world that This Is My Hundredth Blog Post! (Trumpets!)

To be honest I never thought that it would be possible to go on for so long. I guess I can stick at some stuff after all. Have totally enjoyed the journey so far and am looking forward to what the future has to offer.

Speaking of the Future...Welcome 2009. The last year was so amazingly busy for me both on the family front and on the professional that I can scarcely believe how fast it went. With my son's operation, his starting schooling, my online freelance career starting, getting my blog going, there have been a lot of firsts this year.

Thanks to all of you who made it possible by supporting me. In fact the main reason I keep writing is because I enjoy it and for once I seem to have found something that can go on long term. Unlike all the other things that I have to leave behind after every posting and change of address.

Words Fail Me

Of late my experiences on the internet have not been great. Specially related to work. Mostly owing to my own foolishness and gullibility. I am a person given to believing the good in others because I see them as a reflection of my own personality. Since I would never cause a person discomfort or actually con them, I feel that the rest of the world is also like that. It has recently been brought to my notice that it is not. That people exist who will willingly dupe you and have no regrets about it.

I have been feeling low and out. Wondering how they can not realize that the law of Karma is going to catch up with them. That they will have to repay all the wrongs that they do in this life in the future. I feel sad that they keep pushing back the salvation that they can earn in human form and plunge right into a cycle of birth and rebirth. Don’t they see that the only way to get their lives under order is to make sure that you don’t take anything without giving back in return?

The moral question troubles me more than the financial loss. Then I give thanks to the fact that even if I don't make a single dollar this month I will not feel a pinch. I give thanks to the fact that I have a financially sound background and that I do not need to earn my keep. I give thanks for the fact that my family and social life do not get affected by these incidents. I try and release my negative feelings so that I don’t harbour ill will towards these individuals who have conned me. That will be most detrimental to my own self.

I don’t want to be reborn as a low life form just because I was too venomous in my reaction to wrong doings against me. I will be happy to consider that the work that I did was a repayment of an older due, maybe from a past lifetime. That I have been able to pay in full this time round. It makes it easier to think of it this way and close the chapter. If I think that it is a new due that is to come to me, I will just get upset and not know what to do, specially as it will mean that I will need to be reborn to allow that individual to make good his karma.

I only pray that more people in the world realize that there is more to life than getting a great deal at another person’s expense. After all it is better to be kind and true in the long run than to be petty and mean. Any one will tell you that. So now I end with a small prayer to forgive those who have conned me as I bear them no malice. They made me wiser and I am glad for the life experience that they provided.

May be in the new year I will do better and be more careful about what I get into. Perhaps the life lesson I had to learn was not to be so trusting. Unfortunately I am still the same and I probably will do another person the charity of writing for them without getting paid for it. Take it with my blessings. I have exhumed my demons, but you might still be plagued by yours. DO the right thing. Leave the rest in the hands of the powers above.

23 December 2008

Season's Greetings


Here's Wishing You and Your Family a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year.

May there be joy and happiness all over.

See you in the new year.

17 December 2008

Bush Gets the Boot!

It has to be the most Indian thing that I have seen on the International Chapter so far. What is so surprising about the whole matter is that he missed! Guess Bush has finally learnt to duck in the face of oncoming missiles. One is so used to his opening his mouth and shooting them out that this makes a pleasant change. Kind of reminds me of the usual day in the Bihar Lok Sabha. No one would even bat an eyelid if it happened there.

The true measure of the feelings of the people of Iraq flew with that forlorn footwear in futile fury at Bush. That’s what every kid on the street on the street in Baghdad would like to do, but will never get the opportunity to do. I know that the man got imprisoned and all that but I’m hoping against hope that he’s getting served caviar in prison for his amazing feat of bravery. It truly was a rallying point in the low spirits of the Iraqi people.

Given the fact that the farewell visit was something of a formality that neither side was truly interested in, it sure became the talk of the town after that incident. Every major newspaper and news channel is milking that footage and story for all its TRP ratings. There will hardly be a man, woman or child with access to a television who will not have heard that story by the end of the week. For a pair of size ten boots that’s quite a debut.

I won’t be surprised if in a decade or so from now the same footage is shown at an auction house in London. We will be told the story all over again by a polite Englishman with impeccable manners. Then the same shoes will go on auction for thousands of pounds more than the original value. Maybe some rich and patriotic Iraqi will silently bid an astronomical amount on it. Then we will laugh at the memory and marvel at the tenacity of the man who held on to the pair and finally cashed in on them after so many years. Such is life…

12 December 2008

Been a bit busy

Hi folks,

One of the reasons that I set up this blog (to show case my writing skills to potential employees)has been keeping me kind of busy. So have not had much time for the other two, i.e making a showcase of my workshops and keeping up with my varied hobbies.

So here's a short round up.

The tarot has been consulted for a friend recently and was so accurate that the friend was amazed. It has also forecast a wonderful year ahead, which I'm hoping will be true.

Then my weight loss program is on hold thanks to the cold. It is just too cold to get on the bike and cycle.

Have been working on eBooks, reports, thesis, articles, comments and forum threads lately. Need a break so am doing some training related work now, feels nice.

Other than that am all fine and will post more detailed stuff soon.
Bye for now.

05 December 2008

Blogging My Latest Passion

Now I am a blogger.

Before this I have been a lot of other things.

In turns, professionally,I have been an Event Manager (while still graduating),a Content Writer for a medical web site (while doing my post graduation), a certified Travel Agent (immediately after post graduation), and an HR Trainer (from one after getting married till I gave birth to my son).

As I was growing up my mother always told me to stick to one thing, and I never could. I started off with Science in school and switched to English Literature in college. Then I did a whole of short courses along with college including three levels of German language, one course in advertising, one in travel and tourism and of course I had my Air Wing NCC exams. By the time I finished my third year and final year as an under graduate I was no closer to being focused on what I wanted to do.

So I went off to Wellington where my father had the foresight to enroll me into a management post graduate course which I could attend while I made up my mind to do something specific. I finished the management course and thought I wanted to go into travel and tourism. So I now did my diploma with British Airways and got to work as a Travel Agent even before I could give my diploma exams. I stayed on with them till I got married and then took a year off playing housewife and setting up home.

In the meanwhile my neighbour got me into HR Training. I assisted her in developing four workshops and designed one all by myself. Then I decided to get trained for this job and did a second post graduation specializing in training and development. Worked for the next three years in the field and developed two more workshops of my own. Then I got pregnant and gave it up to enjoy my child. After he was two I rejoined training but my heart was not in it. So I took another break.

It was at this turn that a friend of mine introduced me to the wonderful world of blogging, so here I am.

04 December 2008

The Militant Element

I was talking about the recent terrorist attacks on Mumbai(who isn't talking about them) to an aunt of mine. She is an intensely spiritual person. A Professional Tarot Card Reader and Teacher, with a firm belief in the law of Karma. The theory she put forth was very interesting. She is a firm believer in the fact that if you owe someone anything you will come back to make good to that person in your next life. To the extent that she will ensure that she pays her taxi fare to the last paise because she does not want to come back to live another life just to be paid a rupee by the cab driver.

According to her the militant trait never existed in Hindus till this century. So she says the people who were born into this religion now have come from the people who have hurt or harmed Hindus in a previous life time. Now focus on the conversion by the sword carried out by the Muslims. In the last century the Muslims who ridiculed Hindus as infidels and created Jihad on them killing many millions, have all died, and been reborn as Hindus. They needed to learn about the Hindu religion and they have. What they have not learnt is tolerance for other religions.

The militant traits in Muslims came to them from the warriors of the Crusade. In her opinion these lost souls are doomed to rebirth after each such fanatical life in all the religions that they ridicule or harm. They need to learn tolerance and till that happens this militant streak that is visiting our world in the guise of terror attacks will continue.

I felt it was a very interesting theory. What do you think?

03 December 2008

Weight Management Update

After all the excitement of having lost six kgs I decided to sit back and relax for a while. Have gone off all exercise and pranayam and am wondering about how long it will be before I gain all the weight again. So with great hesitation I climbed the scales today and to my amazement I found that over a month of no exercise and regular eating had only tacked back one kg.

Am greatly relived and also motivated to get back to the routine as soon as the winter receeds. Its just too cold to go cycling or do pranayam in the winters. Till then am going to monitor my diet a bit more closely to see if I can cut down calories. Not that I have much hope of doing that.

I am currently working on material related to weight management with a Dominos Pizza by my side...)

Its Hopeless!

Madness in Mumbai

The first time I visited Mumbai I was six years old and visiting my Greatgrand Mother for the first time. I have wonderful memories of that visit as I was pampered by all the Uncles and Aunts around, being the only little kid there. I was introduced to the Parsi Dairy Kulfi, Mangola, and Double Decker Buses. All of which were fabulous experiences for this little kid usually stuck in small cities on the border.

On every subsequent visit over the years I saw a bit more of the city and loved it even more. When I was around eleven we used to go to Mumbai to welcome my father home from abroad. Ma and I would usually stay with her college friend and her kids and I would enjoy the summer holidays together. I remember getting up nice and early just to go to the beach when it was still cool. Then after walking to the beach, playing over there and coming back we would all be bathed and fed and sent back to bed. All in the middle of the morning.

The days that the two friends decided to go shopping together, we would be given some money to fend for lunch for ourselves. I distinctly remember eating around three ice creams for lunch once. And visiting the Hare Rama Hare Krishna ISKON temple canteen to eat a Thali once. Then of course there was all the wonderful shopping that could be done. All the latest trends and the movies that could be seen.

At age thirteen I remember going with a group of boys, all kids of my mother's school and college friends, to see Jurassic Park. I was the only girl in the group and was always pampered. They would get the seats for me in the local train, or bus that we were taking. I was always made to walk in the middle of the group. It was the feeling of pure safety.

At nineteen I was proposed to for the first time in Mumbai. I will never forget that night, even though I said no. It was one of the most romantic gestures that friend of mine ever made.

The college festival that we had gone to attend as a group was Malhar. It was an experience to be running around choupati with fifteen other friends till mid night eating bhel and then crossing the road en mass to eat ice cream at New Yorkers. I remember not getting the waffle cone that I so specifically asked for.

And in all these memories never once do I remember being afraid. Never once did I feel unsafe even at three in the morning taking a cab back from Madness after a great round of dancing.

Things are just not the same. Have you ever stopped to think what happened in Mumbai could happen anywhere? Any place that you have cherished, have had fun with friends could overnight turn into a living hell. All it needs its a few people seeped in their fanatical madness to create more madness all around.

I wish it were not so, but my child is growing up in a world where I am not sure he will live a full long life, because I don't know where the bombs will go off next.

19 November 2008

The Moon and India

AS Chandrayaan-I lands on the moon I begin to wonder how we did it and right on cue I get all the information. Major lunar landmarks from Galileo Galilei’s telescope to Luna 2 having a hard landing on the moon’s surface. Luna 9 and its pictures transmitted of the lunar surface. Neil Armstrong and his epic landing which started a race among nations to put their flag on the moon’s surface. Indian ambitions in that direction fueled by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. The tom-toming of Rakesh Sharma, India’s first astronaut.

Why do we go overboard? Well because for once in our history it is worth it. The soft landing on the moon is India’s claim to fame as it joins an exclusive club of 5 nations (including us) who have achieved this feat. Okay so the Japanese Hiten crashed but it did reach the moon. Finally we can begin getting over the tag of third world country that the Australian Cricket Captain so recently tainted us with. After all Australia has not yet reached the moon! Congratulations are due and being offered to everyone associated with the project.

Now move away from this function with flashing light bulbs and long speeches. Come outside to the countryside. See the night sky glittering with a million stars. This is a sight that no city child can see anymore, thanks to all the lightening and glow from the city itself. Now as you see the moon gliding by surrounded by those twinkling skies try and understand what your nation has just done. They have actually reached that far. As difficult as it is to comprehend, the moon is the next frontier. In a few generations there will be colonies on the moon.

The space on earth will grow short and the need shall arise to populate the moon. Slowly and steadily we will grow from one planet to the other and eventually science fiction will come true. The thought boggles my mind and I only wish I live long enough to visit the moon in a shuttle one day.

18 November 2008

Acid in Afghanistan

I was reading the Times of India and this piece on the Global News page caught my attention. It’s got me introspecting about the kind of world we live in these days.

A 17 year old girl by the name of Shamsia is lying in a military hospital recovering from an acid attack. Men on motorbikes used a water pistol (Pichkari) to spray acid on a group of school girls as they arrived at their school covered in burqas. She was the worst affected with the acid burning her face and entering her eyes. Her spirit is still strong and she wants the Media to announce to the world that she will continue to go to school even if they try to kill her. A sentiment not many school going children worldwide would understand.

The President Hamid Karzai has called it the work of “enemies of Afghanistan” a broad reference used to mean extremists from the Taliban. It’s the most convenient scapegoat for his government. If anything goes wrong just blame the Taliban. A reporter trying to get both versions managed a telephone call to a Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi who said that his group would “never do such a cowardly thing against girls and children.” Not exactly the response we have come to expect from a group so popularized by the Media for its extremist views and destructive ways.

The funny part is I believe that the Taliban did not have anything to do with the attack contrary to what is being accepted. The Taliban believes in big gestures remember the bombing of the Buddha Statues? How can it justify its claim that women are insignificant by going out of their way to attack them? No this was not the work of an organization rather it was the work of a few individuals. The mindset of the Afghan Man tells him that a woman is no better than the cattle he owns. Indians can understand that mindset because at one point of time they shared it, in fact in some rural areas or less developed areas this still hold to be true. So how can livestock go to school and get educated?

Worse they give themselves airs and talk about being men’s equals. If this kind of thing catches on we might never be able to keep them subdued in the house. They will want to go out in the world, they will challenge our authority. Best to nip the bud and dissuade them from educating themselves, teach them a lesson they need to learn. This is the kind of thinking that caused the attack. The men on the motorcycle will never be caught but if more men are to be discouraged from doing the same thing we need to ensure that we get to them young. Change their thinking pattern; do you know who can do it? The mother.

So yes I am happy that Shamsia is willing to brave attacks and go back to school because one day she will tell her son about it. She will explain how difficult things are for women in their society and he will be blessed with an attitude to solve this problem. In his own little way he will contribute to the change in his society by asking for an educated wife to marry and so the change will snowball. The acid eating up Afghanistan will finally be washed clean. It will take some time but I know it will happen as it has already happened in India. I wish them luck and the patience to make it happen.

10 November 2008

The Phonetic Alphabet

The Phonetic Alphabet was devised by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in the mid 1950s. it was based on earlier systems in use by the British and American Armed Forces. Approved by aviation and telecommunication bodies it is in widespread use in the English speaking world. Similar systems are used by speakers of other languages. Amateur radio users have devised other systems based on it as well.

Here they are:

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whisky, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

If you are contemplating a career in aviation or tourism you should memorize them.

09 November 2008

Like Which Animal

When we want to express a certain animal quality in a word we use these. Very useful if you want to show off your superior vocabulary skills.

1 Like a Bee – Apian

2 Like a Bird – Avian

3 Like a Cow – Bovine

4 Like a Dog – Canine

5 Like a Horse – Equine

6 Like a Cat – Feline

7 Like a Lion – Leonine

8 Like a Wolf – Lupine

9 Like a Sheep - Ovine

10 Like a Pig – Porcine

11 Like a Ape or Monkey – Simian

12 Like a Fish - Piscine

13 Like a Bull - Taurine

14 Like a Bear - Ursine

15 Like a Fox - Vulpine

07 November 2008

Answers to Quiz on Words of all Hues

1. Synonyms
2. Homonyms
3. Heteronyms
4. Acronyms
5. Antonyms
6. Palindromes
7. Doublets
8. Onomatopeic

06 November 2008

Here is a Quiz on Words of all Hues

1. Words having the same meaning, very similar to that of another word. Eg Mix and Blend, Daunting and Intimidating

2. Words that sound alike but have no other connection either in spelling or meaning. Eg. Alter and Altar, Air and Heir

3. Words spelt alike but pronounced differently and having no connection whatever in meaning. Eg Bow (a nod and an instrument to shoot arrows.)

4. Sets of initials designed to be said as though they are words. Eg. NASA, AIDS, etc.

5. Words of opposite meanings. Eg. Allow – Forbid, Essential – Unnecessary.

6. Words that read the same backwards as well as forwards. Eg. Madam, Malayalam

7. These are pairs or sets of words which though apparently different oin form are from the same original root, with certain changes in spelling. Eg Arc-Arch, History – Story, Sequel – Sequence

8. Sound like the noise they describe. Eg. Crunch, Bang, Meow, Gasp

05 November 2008

Words = Life

Here's a simple poem that came to mind.

There was a time when words flowed through me effortlessly.
Then the bubbling well dried up.
The silence that was forced on me made me unable to string three words together.
Ideas jostled in my head, ramming against the inner walls.
Seeking but never finding that much needed release.
The feeling of being trapped at the bottom of a dry well.
Where light rays would refuse to enter.
A lost cause, as if it were, that no one was willing to adopt.
Despair and helplessness crowded together in the frame of my mind.
Not a pretty picture at all, as any one could plainly see.
Loneliness, like a single pebble trapped in a metal can, rankled.
Anything positive would fly away the minute it saw the gloom prevalent in my mind.
But cyclic is the nature of life and no matter how hard you try.
You can want to hang on to a situation with all your might, still it will turn.
In that desolate and arid landscape once again a spring burst forth.
Waters cooled the parched earth, flowers of ideas began to blossom.
Once sequestered and reclusive words flow through me again.
Words are spoken, thoughts are expressed, the circle has turned a full cycle.

03 November 2008

The UK’s National Love Food Campaign

I read about this campaign in my local newspaper. Essentially the Women’s Institute has come up with this brain child. It involves reducing waste and reusing leftovers by planning meals. The results are supposed to be saving money and boosting health. It is offered as an ultimate solution to Childhood Obesity and the Economic Recession. The participants have even reported reduction in their own waistlines.

I read the article and started to feel very amused. The reason? My paternal grandmother could have told them this without any fanfare. My Aji Aai (That’s what I called her) was the ultimate saver. She would not let one bit of food go waste. She recycling was so efficient. That did not mean that she compromised on taste. Oh no. She was one of those special few who are gifted with the “Hand”.

That’s how one would translate it directly from Hindi. Just doesn’t sound the same in English though. Anyway what it means is that no matter what she made or even if she experimented for the very first time, the food was always delicious. She was always voted the “bestest” cook in the family. With a brood of six kids and her other in-laws to provide for on a government salary she was often pressed for funds, but never for love.

So how would she react to this news? Well with studied indulgence. She would probably tell me something I like “we have known it all along, these people are learning it now.” Which is true not just in terms of this campaign but a lot of other things to do with recycling.

I remember a contest which was launched to find the most miserly person in the world. As usual the Americans were the only people who took part in it and the person who won was selected on the basis of the fact that he even kept the tiny bits of used soap after it broke up and collected them to reuse. Does that remind you of someone you know? I am willing to bet that every single Indian reading this knows at least one person who does that. It is not considered miserly at all, it is considered to be making full use of the soap.

So ma’am Ruth Bond, I am sure the success of your campaign pleases you, but pardon me for not sharing your naïve enthusiasm. If you truly want to check wastage and not pollute the environment by living healthy, you might want to come down to India and take a few pointers from our grand mamas. Yes the younger generation will not be able to help you much, you see they too live just like you do.

26 October 2008

The Heart of the Home: The Dining Room

The importance of the Dining Room is fast dwindling in families today. It is no longer the place to sit down with the family and share the day’s activities besides the family supper. It has instead become an extension of the kitchen with the table being used, more often than not, as a work surface with each family member arriving and spending no more time than required to gulp the cereal down and disappearing till the next meal. In short the room is no longer welcoming.

Time constraints alone can not be blamed for this sorry state of affairs. After all one can always find the time for things that are truly important. A family meal once a day should be important. It gives each member sitting around the Dining Table a sense of belonging. It helps you sit down together and catch up on what’s happening in everyone’s life. For this to happen the chairs must be inviting and so must the room. If you choose to make your Dining Room a meeting place rather than a store room your family will appreciate it.

A few cut flowers in a vase on the Dining Table may draw an appreciative comment. A Side Trolley with an assortment of goodies will be enjoyed by the kids. They will have to be reigned in from treating it as a race car when they push it in from the Kitchen to the Dining Room. As long as they have fun, they will return to the Dining Room with less fuss. In fact they might enjoy meals at the table more than meals with the TV.

The Challenge to create a family friendly Dining Room is yours. Pick the right furniture, choose the correct linen, and get the ambiance right. It is possible even if you have toddlers around who do not understand that the good crockery and cutlery have been laid out. Don’t be obsessed with expected breakages. You used to put in that much effort for a romantic dinner for two, so why not make it a pleasure to dine with the full family.

25 October 2008

Colours in the Home

Countless Studies have established that the Human Being is highly influenced by the colours that surround him. Your energy levels respond to colours that they see. The clothes and accessories you choose bear testimony to that fact. While neutral colours like grey and beige may do well for building exteriors the walls inside should have more vibrant shades. After all, the home is not a stark, sterile, white hospital. So painting a room can give it an instant pick-me-up effect.

Each room has a different energy need and so the color that it is painted can influence that need. Even the accessories that you use should be blended with the colour scheme. In the Bedroom you need soothing shades that help you feel rested and not psychedelic lights that give you nightmares. Those belong in a Disco. Similarly for the Dining Room don’t choose a dull grey that brings on the gloomy mood of a rainy day. Make it a colour that is slightly energizing. So what color do you make the Dining Room?

Choose what feeling you want to enforce in your home along with your individuality. After all each colour has a variety of hues and shades that you can choose from. In fact some companies offer to create a paint shade that will be all your own at quite a nominal cost. The curtains and furniture upholstery also help in creating the predominant shade influence.

Here are the basic colours and their attributes.
White – Simple and Elegant
Red – Energetic and Powerful
Orange and Yellow – Warm and Cozy
Lime Green – Fresh and Rejuvenating
Blue – Cool and Calm

Personally I prefer my anteroom to be a calm and welcoming area. I have a touch of white thrown in to complement the basic blue theme. It makes the room seem light on the eyes and friendly. Besides blue is my favorite colour.
There are shades of red and white blended into the bedroom. My study room has a rather cluttered look most of the time and is an area I really need to work on. My Child’s room has Red curtains but is balanced with a neutral shade carpet which also absorbs the dirt and dust that goes with the territory.

So check out the shades available and pick those which appeal to you and make each room in your home a visual treat.

22 October 2008

Disorder in American Courts

These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: This myesthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!
______________________ ________________
ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty-one.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shittin' me?
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh... I was gettin' laid!
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS : Are you shittin' me? Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 P.M.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh....are you qualified to ask that question?
And the best for last:
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising law.

Enjoy!!!! No wonder the Yanks are in a depression. Financial and otherwise!

21 October 2008

Gwalior follows Mathura: Tank Ride, Palace and Fort

For my son his grandfather represents two major activities. The first is golf which both of them play with equal seriousness. The second is Tanks, which both of them enjoy a ride on anytime possible. So it was natural for my son to be very disappointed that Grandpa came to visit him without his golf bag. To make up to him for this horrible happening, Grandpa decided that a tank ride was in order. Unfortunately there are no tanks in Agra, so we traveled to the closest Tank Regiment located at Gwalior. This was also one of the two regiments that he had served with making the ride so much easier and accessible.

We drove down with my hubby at the wheel of his WagonR and made reasonably good time. The roads were bad only in one small patch where some construction work for a flyover was taking place. I feel all stretches of Indian roads have this problem these days. Still we had no reason to complain, as we met up with our guides (in a good old fashioned Jonga) and proceeded through the various twists and turns of the town into the Cantt and finally the Mess Guest Rooms.

After our arrival Dad had to go for Tea with the Officers and Men. So we hopped in with him and hoped to finish our tank ride as well. In the time that it took them to fix up the tank and take it out to the training area we were shown around the unit offices and then we were ready. We went in the Gypsy to the place where the tank was waiting for us and a cheer was sent up by my son. He was nice and eager for the ride, although Panda Book was still in his hands. The Uncle who was waiting for us took him up and gently dislodged the Panda Book from his hand and in his excitement over the ride he did not miss it!

We had a nice ride on the way out but on the way back the driver decided to pick up the pace and we had a howling baby on our hands. We had a nice photo session and the two YOs (Young Officers for the uninitiated) showed my husband the workings of the Tank and discussed mechanical details while I took my weeping baby off the monster and stood talking with the RM (Risaldar Major) who had last seen me as an eleven year old. Then we came back to report our trip to Nani Ma and have lunch before setting out to the palace.

The Scindhia dynasty has turned part of the ancestral palace into a museum. AS have almost all the royalty left in India to supplement their meager incomes not that this royal family has financial troubles. An active political presence has ensured that they still retain the power that they wielded for thirteen generations. The museum had some very interesting sections. I personally was enthralled by all their crockery and the cut glass train. More details on this on the other blog.

The evening was spent watching a light and sound show in Amitabh Bachan’s voice at Gwalior Fort. Quite interesting if somewhat distorted recap of history. After all the victor will write history. Then we came back to the mess and met up with the rest of the unit ladies and officers at a formal sit down dinner. More about this in the other blog as well specially since this has become a rather long post..

20 October 2008

Spike or Pillar

I have subscribed to Yaro's online journey and am quite fond of reading his blog. It gives me a lot of insight into what a blogger can and can not do.
It also makes an uninitiated person like me realise that blogging can be quite technical. Like for instance his Pillar Articles which he uses as timeless pieces of information available to a wide audience for a long time. On the other hand I find that most of the articles that I write are Spike.
Which for the rest of us is an article that generated short term interest and gets some traffic to the site but is not going to have a long term effect. Some how i prefer Spikes to Pillars.
Pillars are hard work and research while Spikes are fun and games and giving vent to my expression. So though I bow my head to Yaro's expertise i am still more inclined to Spike than Pillar.
Hope it made some sense to my readers...
After all most of you are as lost technically as I am! :)

11 October 2008

Hare Rama Hare Krishna

My parents were with us for a few days and we decided to take the opportunity to do a few excursions into neighbouring towns. It has been my experience that one never goes to places close by to do sightseeing till some one gives you a push. So here we were my parents, my husband my son and I all on our way to Mathura. Krishna Janam Bhoomi to be precise.

We met up with our local guide on the highway at Mac Donald's since it was the most prominent landmark we remembered from our drive to Agra from Delhi the year before. Then we proceeded to the room that they had so kindly arranged and freshened up before heading out to the temples.

The first one we went to was the Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan. It was reminiscent of my visits to Ayodhya. The narrow lanes that you walk through are infested with monkeys that come and grab anything that you have in your hands, usually resulting in loss of whatever sweet you had brought to offer as prasad. The curtains were closed when we reached as the "Bhog" was on and we whiled away time chit chatting before the actual darshan.

We were let into the little enclosure up close to the gods and my son was picked up from out of my arms by the priest who took him right upto the altar to do his namaskar. WHich my little kutti kannan did without protest amazing all of us given his distrust of strangers. Then we did the mandatory parikrama and hopped out of there with our garlands and prasad.

Then we went to the ISKON temple at Vrindavan which is called the Sri Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir and houses the samadhi of the founder of ISKON. It was very clean as compared to the first one and had a predominance of white colour everywhere. Also in every corner we heard the chants of "Hare Rama Hare Krishna, rama rama, hare hare" the tune made world famous by Dev Anand. We picked up the Gita in English and a little Krishna Statue that now sits on my altar.

By the time we finished it was 12.20 and we were told that temples close down for the afternoon at that time till 4 in the evening and so we retreated to the room again for lunch and siesta. Once again we set forth for Krishna Janam Bhoomi temple. this is the prison where he was born. I found myself wondering how the guys who lived right next to the temple must feel. They could walk over everyday for darshan and must be plagued by the millions who come to pay their respects.

At the temple we got a guide from among the policemen who were guarding the shrine. He took us through the cell which he claims has not been changed since the time of Kansa, but which I seriously doubt. The masjid next door was also shown given its infamous debut some years back in the news. We saw a mechanical doll show giving us a dekho into all those mythological tales we heard as kids. Then a little tunnel walk again depicting scenes from Rama and Krishna's lives. All in all quite nice.

After this my son wanted to know if we were going home...and when told no we had to visit one more temple his direct-dil-se answer was "Kyon?" Anyway not withstanding his reluctance we headed out to the temple of Dwarkadhish. The king of Dwarka's court. We went through the entire length and breath of the old city winding our big car through small alleys and thanking the lord that the car was not ours but a fauji one.

We reached took our darshan and headed back to the car only to be waylaid by a guide who insisted on us going to the ghat of the Yamuna near by and showering us with the so called holy water. He also kept up a steady litany of what Krishana did where in that stretch of land before finally releasing us. We finished and headed back to the room only to stop near Brijwasi and pick up the famous pedas.

Then we were returning to the room to pick up our car and head back to Agra when the staff car decided to stop in the middle of the crowded road. So we shifted to the pilot gypsy and rode back much to the discomfort of the entire retinue assigned to us. They were feeling bad and we were enjoying the unexpected adventure. Eventually the car did catch up with us at the room just as we were leaving. The drive back was uneventful and this post is too long so will continue the Gwalior exploits in the next post.

08 September 2008

SWOT Analysis

I am sure you have heard enough about SWOT. It is essentially an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It can be used for a multitude of purposes including planning military invasions or an ordinary product launch. On an individual basis too it has varied uses. However since my workshops focus on career building skills the SWOT analysis that I will be asking you to do will include taking stock of your workplace skills and situations.

There was this old quote which we used to put down in our slam books and autographs which went,
“Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your character.”

Now you know what you need to do to get the character you desire … think the right thoughts and the rest will follow. Now let’s get back to SWOT. Take a blank paper and make four columns one each for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Now FILL IT IN…

Remember this is a self assessment of your Career goals and skills. Be honest with yourself. You do not have to show this to anyone else, though if you are confused with your answers it might be a good idea to share it with a concerned and caring mentor.

In the Strengths column put down all those skills that you possess. Bear in mind that these are internal aspects which you control and can use to your advantage at any given time. For instance if you are an extrovert it will be a great advantage to you in the service industry.

In the Weaknesses column put down the drawbacks that may hinder you in your career. Keep in mind that these are also under your control and you can work on these aspects and improve them. For instance a bad command over Spoken English which hinders you from joining a call center can be improved by joining Spoken English classes and accent training.

Opportunities related to the career field of your choice can be listed in the next column. Now these are situations that are beyond your control but you feel are positive and will help you along on your career path. For instance the boom in hospitality which will come due to the Asiads being hosted in Delhi can help you chalk out a career in hotels.

Threats are also beyond your control and will be listed in the last column. These are negative situations which will affect your career path. As you can not control these situations you must do what you can to minimize their effect on your chosen career. For instance the rising cost of fuel will affect the running of the cheaper airlines. Some of which might fold, so it would make sense to shift to a company which has a good track record and is unlikely to go under too soon.

There we are through with our SWOT analysis. Hope it has given you an insight into what you really want to do and helps you choose a career that you are truly suited for.

07 September 2008

Health is Wealth

I had mentioned that I was putting myself on a five week weight loss challenge. This was in response to the realization that I was gaining nearly 2kgs a year since I had got married. I had a BMI of 28 and was bordering on the obese. The basic idea behind the challenge was to make small lifestyle changes whereby leading a more active existence and monitoring what I ate to ensure it was healthy.

The basic forms of exercises that I alternated between were Cycling, Hitting the Gym, Pranayam, Walking and Yoga. I did each between once to four times in a week. I never forced myself to do a form of exercise that I was not in the mood for on a particular day, but also ensured that I did at least three out of the list above everyday.

I realized that when I exercised in the Gym I might be able to loose more calories but I also got very hungry as fast and ended up eating that many calories up again that very day. While when I went cycling I enjoyed what I did and it also made for a more active social life as I would combine it with meeting people who lived at the other end of the cantonment. Yoga beat walking in popularity because of the incessant rains that we had last month. Pranayam is ideal for all days and is also great for an instant energy pick me up.

As for the diet, I ensured two liters of water went down the hatch everyday, as did one helping of fresh fruit and two glasses of milk. It is a boon that I don’t like tea or coffee so I was only on Bournvita which eliminated any form of caffeine in my diet. In addition to this I tried not to eat anything fried, and steered clear of all sweets, chocolates and ice creams. I also ensured accountability by recording every morsel that went into my mouth in my food journal.

Net Result : - I have lost three kgs.
My BMI is currently 27 and I intend to get into the healthy bracket from the overweight bracket in the next challenge that I am setting up for myself. Will keep you updated of the latest news.

06 September 2008

Service Industry Skills

ITFT, Chandigarh had conducted a Job Market Study and in its report a section is devoted to the skills and outlooks that employers look forward to in a potential employee. I am reproducing it here to help you understand the essence of the Service Industry better.

Positive attitude
Pleasing personality
Improvising ability
Creative temperament
Good sense of humour
Desire to get ahead
Hard working
Devoid of inhibitions
Willing to work in shifts
Ready to relocate
Communication skills
Logical thinking
Planning and organizing
Self confident
Self motivated
Service oriented
Problem solving
Social ability

The reason why I have put down this list? To help you in your SWOT analysis and in making you resume more industry specific.

04 September 2008

Service Industry and the Opportunities it offers

In India everyone agrees that the fastest growing industry is the Service Industry. Not only does it have a phenomenal scope for growth, it is totally people – skill oriented, which means that if you can handle people well, you will do well in the industry. The work skills are easily learnt to give the customers a great experience and enhance your career.

So what are the segments of the Service Industry that you can make a mark in? In this post I will attempt to give a bird’s eye view of the jobs on offer. By no means is this list comprehensive and there’s a new job being created as we speak. The dynamic industry is continuously coming up with new services to meet new demands. A broad classification is attempted here.

The biggest section of the Service Industry is to do with travel and staying in new places. This involves Airlines, Railways, Buses, Taxis, Travel Agents, Hotels, Restaurants and Souvenir shops. Each of these generates jobs related to it. These are given in detail below. Since qualifications for each job will make this post humongous I will save those details for the next post. Please remember that I am not listing all the jobs but just a basic few to give a snapshot of the service industry segment associated with it.

Jobs in Airlines

Cabin Crew
Ground Staff
Technical Crew
Airline City Office Staff

Jobs in Ground Transportation Services

Rental Office Staff
Technical Support
Customer Service Staff
Local Guides

Jobs in Travel Agencies

Ticketing Staff
Travel Assistance Executives
Tour Organizers
Tour Guides

Jobs in Hospitality

Front Office
Food and Beverage
House keeping for hotel rooms
Catering for events
Home Delivery from Restaurants
Organizing Conferences and Conventions

Another Important and controversial sector which is growing really fast is that of BPOs or Call Centers as they are colloquially known. The jobs generated here are a result of multinationals outsourcing some amount of work to a different company in India to cut its own operational costs. The jobs are very often dependent on the hours that the parent company keeps and since the majority of them are in USA, UK and Australia the working hours are very often at night in India.

The companies tend to pamper the employees because the turnover rate is very high. To combat the attrition rate the cafeteria, pick up and drop and loyalty bonuses are common strategies. The pay is very good and if you can endure the total annihilation of your metabolism and social life you will do quite well for yourself. Some of the jobs on offer are listed below.

Collection Call Executives
Telemarketing Executives
Customer Support Executives
Technical Support
Transaction Processing
Distance Education Facilitators
Market Research and Data Analytics
Networks Set Up and Support
Finance and Accounting
Human Resources
Hardware and Software Engineering

Another emerging Service Sector is Finance. The various Banks and Insurance companies are pushing sales in India as the common man gets savvier about his savings options. The booming stock market and soaring Sensex is giving Mutual fund managers happy dreams for retail investors. Converting those dreams to reality is a silent army of agents. The jobs available in this field are listed below.

Customer Care Executives
Insurance Agents
Foreign Exchange Agents
Mutual Fund Agents
Demat Services
Portfolio Management Executives
Consultancy and Counseling Agents
Taxation Services
Human Resources

That about wraps up this post and I will give details of qualifications needed for the various jobs in the follow up. Remember this is just an indicative list and there are a whole lot more jobs out there.

01 September 2008

Background on Multiple Intelligences

For those of you interested in the last post I wrote here is some more background information.

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

Linguistic intelligence ("word smart"):
Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
Musical intelligence ("music smart")
Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")

Since I have already put out the details in the last post won't bore you with more in this one.

31 August 2008

Multiple Intelligences

The word “Intelligence”means different things to people. Even scientists and psychologists find it difficult to explain. Studies on this topic fill libraries from shelf to shelf, yet we get confused the minute we are asked what it is. Maybe the problem lies in the fact that there is no single type of intelligence, maybe it is that the people tend to think of academics as the only intelligent pursuit. This is however a very narrow minded view and intelligence has a much wider scope. So let’s see how many types of intelligence there are.

1. Linguistic Intelligence
Those who are blessed with linguistic intelligence find it very easy to pick up new languages. They make good interpreters and translators. They enjoy reading and writing. They may also be creative and write poems and stories. They enjoy a good debate and are comfortable with words.

2. Visual Spatial Intelligence
They are not too comfortable with words but can grasp concepts as a whole very well. They know in an instant just by visualizing whether a table can fit into a corner or is too big for it, without physically placing it there. They are good at creating maps, charts and presentations. They might also enjoy drawing comic strips and cartoons.

3. Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence
These people are very comfortable with their physical body. They express themselves though sports or dance or drama. They can be more than a little competitive. They enjoy being in touch with others and like to be in the limelight. They also enjoy role playing and putting puzzles together. They would make good actors and directors.

4. Musical Rhythmic Intelligence
Some people can sing effortlessly without any training and it’s called a gift. It is actually a kind of intelligence. So many people would like to learn to play an instrument but never get the rhythm. People who are musically inclined find it very easy to compose melodies and do choreography. The music literally pours out of their bodies.

5. Naturalist Intelligence
We all like flowers and greenery to some extent, but for a naturalist it is the only part of the world that interests him. He loves to make herbariums and delights in stones with unusual colours. If he is given a garden patch plants thrive under him. The animals and birds hold a world of wonder for him. He will do best in environmental projects usually handled by NGOs.

6. Logical Mathematical Intelligence
Okay so he is a geek. He can make sense of theories that baffle the rest of us and actually thinks that sitting and solving algebraic expressions is fun. He enjoys solving brainteasers that deal with deductive logical problems. Conducting experiments comes naturally to him. He may not be a brilliant conversationalist but he might just solve the fuel crisis.

7. Inter-personal Intelligence
This is the most popular person on the block. He knows what everyone likes and is able to give it to them as well. He is a true team player and a great leader in any job involving coordination with others. He takes pleasure in group work. He is forever giving and receiving feedback to know what is the pulse of the moment. Dynamic is the word that comes to mind when you see him in action on a presentation. This is the kind of person everyone wants on his team.

8. Intra-personal Intelligence
You know that recluse, the one who doesn’t want to talk to you at all. Who takes a lot of effort to open up and get close to? Its not that he doesn’t like you, it’s just that he’s happier alone. He would prefer to make entries in his diary to share his day rather than tell someone else about it. He would rather spend time in silent reflection than watching a movie with friends. He is best at self paced projects and is quite disciplined. He would do better in jobs that require him to work by himself such as Data entry.

26 August 2008

Politics and Sports Its Step Son

I guess that is why no one can predict anything in India. A week ago I was saying that we won't get a single medal beyond the shooting gold and low and behold as if to explicitly prove me wrong, they decide to win not just one but two bronze medals. Really that's what India is all about...surprises.

Seriously these boys were unheard of just a week ago and today they are the toast of the town. Boxers who literally came from nowhere and became the lords of the ring. So besides buying air guns now parents will also be queuing up to pick up boxing gloves as well. And come to think of it, it is much easier to train boxers than it is to train shooters. To shoot you need specialized equipment and a range and memberships, etc etc etc; but to box you just need a guy in front of you and you are set!

What got my goat was this TV channel Headlines Today showing us the hotel in which the sportsmen and women were to be put up overnight in Delhi before they dispersed. They were going on and on about how the IOA should be ashamed of itself for putting them up in a shabby two star hotel. This is what I would like to ask them, did they bother about where they were put up before the games when they were due to fly out to China?

I am not defending the IOA which has enough resources being underutilized, but I would surely like to know what caused this major change of heart towards the sportspeople. A couple of medals and suddenly the treatment is shabby and before the games the same treatment was taken as accepted practice. The media in India is very powerful, but they also are rather immature. Maybe a few guidelines may not be such a bad idea of the government after all.

19 August 2008

Weight Loss ???

Well As I have been cribbing about it for a long time, I finally decided to do something about it. The 15kgs that I have gained since I got married have their days numbered in my body.

I am putting myself on a 5 week challenge to try and loose some of the flab that I have accumulated. AS I am well aware that a little bit over a long time adds up to a lot, I'm going to try and just loose 1/2 kg per week during this 5 week period. Then I'm going to give myself a week's break before resuming another 5 week spell.

This way I wont be pressurizing myself too much and I am giving myself plenty of space to cater for the unexpected socializing that is so much a part of our lives. Also if I get into this routine I expect that by the end of two years I should be back at the desired BMI for my self which is the main reason I am doing this.

After all health is wealth and one cant be obese and look good.

13 August 2008

Handing My Time

In my last related post I had mentioned how prioritizing would help you save time and here is a little activity that you can do to reclaim your time.

Write down all the activities you do in a day and the amount of time you spend on each. Follow the format given below for each activity.

Optimum Usage (Yes / No )
Satisfaction (Yes / No )
Desired Change (Less / More)
Reapportioned Time

Add comments on how you would accommodate backlogs if any.

Do you wish to include any other activity in your schedule?
How much time would you allocate for it?

Now look at the table and decide is that the kind of day you want to have?
If it is, what are you waiting for…put it into practice straight away!

12 August 2008

Olympic Gold Medal

We keep lamenting the state of Indian Sports at the beginning of each Olympic. I used to be naïve enough to believe that all those debates one heard on television would actually make a difference to the outcome of next years training, only to be disappointed with bigger debacles by our sportsmen and women.

Then I got to thinking why is it that the only sport that we do well in is cricket? What about the rest? It’s not like we don’t have enough talent. Come on if a country the size of Italy can win a gold medal surely we got people enough to get some medals. So what goes wrong?

As usual we play the blame game putting the blame on any and everyone we can think of except ourselves. We blame the government for not having good policies. We blame the schools for not supporting sporting activities. We blame the lack of money in sports to call it a career.

What about me and you? Aren’t we to blame as well. You might say I am no sportsman. I was never any good at any sport. I don’t have the talent to make it to the top level of competition. I only play to have a good time with my friends. How about your attitude? Is it not to blame?

If you were told that some one you know is spending day after day in training for a sport and is not working at a regular job, how would you react? Most likely with a, “What’s the matter with him?” instead of being supportive you would most likely try to talk him out of it. That’s how most of our medals disappear without even a flicker.

If we want our sports men and women to do well, we need to be out there cheering them. In case you haven’t noticed its been individuals with strong family and friend support who won the Silver Medal in Australia and the Gold Medal in China. So if you know someone who is good at sports go the extra mile and support them in any way you can. You might just be contributing to an Indian Medal at the Olympics.

17 July 2008

Group Discussion – The Process

In my last post I threw some light on the importance of a Group Discussion (Henceforth referred to as GD), in this one I will try and explain what the process is all about.

The group discussion normally follows the procedure given below:

1. Number of candidates / participants
Normally there are 4/8 or 15/20 candidates participants in a group discussion at a time.

2. Assignment of serial numbers
As soon as candidates assemble for a group discussion, they are assigned different serial numbers, viz. 1, 2, 3, and 4. Afterwards they are to be addressed as Mr. NO.1 or NO.2 and not by name.

3. Wearing the number tag

In a group discussion, candidates have to wear a number tag all the time. The examiner, who is in the background, notes down the points from the tag numbers without writing the name of the 'candidates. Therefore, it is essential that every candidate properly displays the number of his tag all the time.

4. Initiation of the discussion

The candidates are instructed not to disclose their names or speak in any other language except the one prescribed for the discussion, which is mostly English. However, in some places Hindi has also been included. The examiner or the testing officer does not decide who should speak first and how much time each candidate should take.

5. Sitting arrangement

The members of the group are generally seated around a table in a semicircle so that they face each other for discussion, and the testing officer is able to watch them from the background.

6. Selection of topics

In some cases, the candidates themselves select the topic they wish to discuss. However, the examiner may also give two or three topics for discussion and the members of the group are required to select anyone for discussion.

7. Examiner's role
As soon as the discussion starts, the examiner goes into the background; leaving the candidates free to carry on the discussion. He then takes notes to assess the personality and group behavior of the members without making his presence felt by the group.

8. The group leader

Normally, no one is appointed as a group leader, chairman or president by the examiner. The candidate endowed with natural leadership qualities will automatically emerge as a leader and assume the leadership of the group on his own. Such a gifted candidate will be able to carry the group with him despite the competition he may face from other participants. The group testing officer or examiner, who has considerable experience, is able to spot leadership qualities and observe the candidates in action in order to assess their personality traits.

9. Type of topics
Generally at least two subjects are announced by the examiner or group testing officer. The topics for discussion may vary from light-hearted topics such as "Love marriages v. arranged marriages", to serious topics such as " population explosion" or "India's defence or economic policies". There may be topics on current affairs or news items like the Kashmir problem or the current situation of deciding the fate of the Nuclear Deal with the USA.
If the candidates themselves cannot come, to an agreement regarding selection of a particular topic for discussion, the examiner either selects the topic for them or invites their views and then decides the topic.

14 July 2008

Group Discussions

There can be two types of Group Discussions. One Type would be within a group and the other would be between two different groups. The second type is used for Conflict Management and Negotiations. We will not get into that type of discussion here but concentrate on the former type. This is what a student is more likely to face at various levels of his education till he eventually lands a job.

The scariest and perhaps most rewarding part of any selection process. It is not just a test of your Spoken Skills but also of your Attitude, Opinions and Personality as a whole. Due to its nature it has been accurately dubbed as the “Rejection Tool”. It is the single tool which allows the selectors to weed out unwanted applicants before the final Interviews. The Interviews we will get into in a later post. For now let’s say you gave a written exam and cleared it. You were called for counseling and now suddenly you are in the middle of the group being told to have a discussion.

It will help you if you remember what is being measured by the selectors so try and understand these points.

1. Ability to express self in a clear, concise, coherent, systematic, logical, tactful and effective manner is measured.

2. It also helps in assessing behavior in the group leadership & follower qualities, team spirit, group cohesiveness and also whether you can convince others about what you think is right or can agree to disagree.

3. Whether you have self-confidence, a cool temperament, are polite, courteous, sensitive, assertive, speak with conviction, body language conveys self assurance and have an alert mind.

In short you are on display with all your faults and faculties and it is up to you to make a good impression on the assessors. Tall order and to fulfill it you need to prepare for it long before you get to the venue. Training one-self for a group discussion cannot be compressed into a few days' course. It takes time to develop certain traits, mannerisms and a pleasant and effective way of speaking.

The best way to learn to speak in group discussions is to get together with your class-mates and start discussing a topic. Ask them to give their views and you give your views. Organize a small discussion group and discuss current topics or any other news item in it. There is no short-term course for achieving success in a group discussion and you can only-learn with experience. So start practicing as early as possible. May success be yours!

12 July 2008

Plurals Galore

One of the most puzzling parts of English vocabulary is how to make plurals out of nouns. Here's a post to simplify that.

The English language has both regular and irregular plural forms of nouns.

Regular Nouns:

1. The most common case is when you need to add -s to the noun.
For example one car and two cars.

2. Other nouns that end with s, x, ch or sh, where you add es
For example one box, two boxes

3. Some nouns that end with consonant y, where you change the y to i and add -es
For example one enemy, two enemies

Irregular Nouns:

1. The nouns that end with o, where you add -es
For example one potato, two potatoes

2. The nouns ending with is, where you change -is to -es
For example one crisis, two crises

3. The nouns ending with f, where you change f to v and add –ves
For example one wolf, two wolves

4. The nouns ending with fe, where you change -f to -v and add -s
For example one life, two lives

5. The nouns ending with us, where you change -us to -i
For example one fungus, two fungi

6. The nouns that contain oo, change -oo to -ee
For example one foot, two feet

7. The nouns that end with on, where you change -on with –a
For example phenomenon, phenomena

8. The nouns that don’t change. In fact it is the content that decides if it is being used in the singular or plural form.
For example sheep, offspring, series

Once you master these simple rules you will drastically improve your English Writing Skills.

11 July 2008

Here's a few Questions for Debate

Why does the sun lighten our hair, but darken our skin?
Why can't women put on mascara with their mouth closed?
Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
Why don't you ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?
Why is abbreviated such a long word?
Why is a boxing ring square?
Why is it considered necessary to nail down the lid of a coffin?
Why is it that doctors call what they do practice?
Why is it that to stop Windows 98, you have to click on Start?
Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the radio?
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
Why is the third hand on the watch called a second hand?
Why is the time of day when traffic is slowest called rush hour?
What do you call a male ladybug?
Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?
Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?
Why don't they make the whole plane out of the same material that the indestructible black box is made of?
If a firefighter fights fire and a crime fighter fights crime, what does a freedom fighter fight?
Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?
If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?
If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the 'terminal'?
How is it possible to have a 'civil' war?
If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?
If you try to fail, and succeed, have you failed or succeeded?
Whose cruel idea was it for the word "Lisp" to have an "S" in it?
Why do toasters always have a setting that burns toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would ever eat?
Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!
What do you call male ballerinas?
Can blind people see their dreams?
If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?
If a word is mis - spelt in the dictionary, how would we ever know?
If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?
Why does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?
Why is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?
Doesn't "expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?
Why are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?
If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the batteries are dead?
Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?
Why do they call it a TV set when you only have one?
Can you cry under water?
How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?
Why does a round pizza come in a square box?
Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?
Why do people pay to go up tall buildings & then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?
How come we choose from just two people for Prime Minister and fifty for Miss India?

02 July 2008

Traveling Woes

All these people making a noise about making Airlines more responsible in India have got themselves one more supporter. I never thought that I would be so het up about the shabby treatment of passengers but I am, and with good reason.

My Mother and Grandmother had to fly to Nagpur from Delhi recently. My Grandma is in her 80s and can’t walk around too much. She just about manages to shuffle around from one room to the other in the house. She also suffers from Odema (swelling up of the feet due to water retention) and tends to get cramps in her feet. All contributing reasons for getting from Ambala to Nagpur as quickly as possible. As a train journey was out of the question the only option was the flight.

They booked their tickets on the net to get the best fares possible. Then drove down from Ambala the night previous and got ready to go to the Airport after tele checking in. They made a request for a wheelchair at the airport and the front seats in the economy class next to the aircraft door. They were expecting to pay a fare hike attributed to fuel surcharge and they were not disappointed. Why should the Airline absorb the cost and cut into its profits?!

The wheel chair was available and so my granny thankfully sank into it and allowed herself to be led to the aircraft. Getting up into the Aircraft was yet another monumental task well achieved. The crew was attentive and responded well to their requests. The problem was that the flight happened to be a hopping flight via Raipur. So my poor maters had to wait an hour there and eventually the cramps did set in. Totally defeating the purpose of a quick and painless trip.

If only the airline had specified that it was a hopping flight they would not have taken it. They only realized that it would stop in Raipur after the pre-flight announcements were made once they were settled in. I do feel that a lot of things could have been done differently to let my Grandma have a better trip. Thankfully she is now well settled in Nagpur and over the ordeal.

01 July 2008

Principles of Reiki

Just for today,
1. I will live in the attitude of gratitude.
2. I will not fear or worry.
3. I will not anger.
4. I will do any work honestly.
5. I will be kind to everyone and everything.

These were the principles devised by Dr Mikao Usui for not wasting the energy given by Reiki.

23 June 2008

The Blogosphere

I have spent the better part of May and June trying to surf the wild unknown areas of the Blogosphere. I was so out of touch with this aspect of the net that now that I am diving into it I keep wondering how I missed this particular ocean! I mean there are literally tons of people out there writing everyday about a host of topics under the sun. So how did I never get into this before? Simple answer, have just not looked beyond Instant Messaging and Email. The only other use I had for the net was researching data and that doesnt really have much to do with blogs.

So here I was an unknown in the area of the blog suddenly thrust right into its midst with one solid push from a dear friend. To whom I will remain thankful for introducing me to this new world, a whole new one like Alladin would say. Then there was this infant in the blogosphere trying to get a grip on events. Quite soon I cut my teeth (a background in basic programming helped just a wee bit) and I was hungry for more. I started devouring the blogs as soon as I could find them and did I find a few.

There were technical ones and fun sites. Some on positive thinking and others on making money on the net. As I went through them I realised that this was fun. It was also something that I wanted to do for myself. So withing 18 days of first seeing a blog I rushed in and wrote my first post. Also ambitious that I am I went ahead and got two blogs set up. One on wordpress and the other on blogger. Since then I am seriously studying the blogosphere and trying to find a niche where I can make some dough off the blogs. Till now it has avoided me, but I shall find it all the same.

In case you have news for me on that count do add your comment.

16 June 2008

Master’s Degree

Higher education has always been sought after. In today’s world the more degrees you have the better the chance of landing a job. Its no longer enough to be a BA Eng Hons. to be a writer. You need to have done a post graduation in mass communication or at the very least a diploma in journalism before anyone will even consider your contributions to any magazine.

In the same vein, it is no longer enough to be an engineer (mechanical or software, you take your pick), instead you must be an engineer with a post graduation in management to land a decent pay packet. Which brings me to the whole MBA scam, what the big deal about being an MBA? While I don’t challenge the whole lot of intelligent people who seem to be opting for this particular Master’s Degree, I do wonder why a counselor at an aviation institute needs to be an MBA?

I also despair the grave difference between the salaries offered to a non-MBA person vis-à-vis one who is. Dear Lord, the difference is astounding and quite unreasonable in many cases. A new and fresh MBA who joins the firm for a particular job may draw double the salary of an older more experienced person in the same firm who is doing the same job for 10 years or more. Where is the sense in that?

I have been seriously wondering about doing an MBA, just to make things easy on myself. Then I think about it and say to myself if after two post graduate diplomas in Management and HR training respectively and seven years of work experience behind me, I still need to study some more to help prospective employees hire me, then there’s something wrong with the system.

So here’s to the Master’s Degree that I refuse to do…So long, I don’t need you!

06 June 2008

Back to Base

After being all over the country for the last 40 days, I am going back home. Needless to say there are mixed feelings. The holiday is over and that is saddening, but home calls out to me and there is no place like home. So will be back tomorrow evening. All of you who have been unable to get in touch with me for some reason or the other will now be able to contact me at home.

My son is also looking forward to going back home. He's been pestering me to board the train (which is not due till 6am tomorrow) just so that he can go home. Can't blame him. He's the one who has borne the brunt of this break with two trips to the hospital each lasting 4 days. Is it a wonder that he won't let anyone resembling a doctor or nurse near him.

My husband has also been living the bachelor life in my absence. I dread to see the condition of all the cupboards at home. I know I will probably spend the rest of the month trying to regain control of my domain. The kitchen is going to be a humongous mess. I just know it, but still there is a song in my heart. Will let you know the tune once I get home;)

Weighty Issues

Okay there's no easy way to say this so I just need to come right out with it. I have gained 14 kgs in 7 years of married life. That averages about 2 kgs per year. Given the current rate of increase I will be obese next year, putting myself at risk for various diseases including high blood pressure and diabetes. Now that is one way I DO NOT want to go.

So what do I do? The only sensible thing I can. I have to loose some weight and not overnight, but as a lifestyle change. So henceforth I resolve to eat healthier, do more exercise and try and follow a health care regime. My goal is to loose about a kg or two every month from June to Dec and reverse the trend in question.

If I do manage to gain what I set out to loose(confusing but correct) I will put a snap of myself on this blog.

Conserve Plastic

Once there was a time when I would get all hyper about using plastic bags when shopping. I would carry my own cloth bag to the markets and actually would make shop keepers feel guilty when they tried to give me their own plastic bags. After all like who said it? We have not inherited the earth from are parents but borrowed it from our kids.

Things have changed a wee bit now. And the reason that they have changed is my kid. Well, you can't be the mother of an infant and not use plastic. I mean, the diaper is just one part(very small one at that). You need plastic bottles, sippers, sheets, etc etc etc. Not to forget the number of plastic bags you use to keep your self dry when traveling anywhere from the local mall to overnight.

I must say that I have eased up on my fanatic zeal not to use plastic. Although I am now feeling guilty at not doing my bit to conserve nature. Then I thought it over and decided that my kid will get a world preserved as best as I can. Truly that is all that one can do. Just make an effort that you can manage to sustain. So now I try and reuse all the plastic I have in the house as many times as I can. That makes me happy at having done my bit.

Online Offline

Just how irrrrritating is it to get grounded thanks to your computer. Everytime I decide to do something new, this laptop of mine gives up on me. Okay I am no software engineer, but I do have basic working knowledge of computers. I can handle the keyboard with relative ease and surf the net like a pro.

So here i decide to blog. A good way to practise writing regularly and hash up some good ideas for my book. Then I get the Virus...not the one I want, but it makes me loose sleep, and gain wrinkles. Don't ask me how, It just does. Only thing it doesn't do is make me loose weight. Which is what I would really like to do. That however is good for another post so will just stick to this one.

When will the internet get safe for the novice? How do you keep your computer safe when you suddenly decide to go beyond Yahoo, Orkut and the ilk? Also how do you make sure that your husband doesn't go into THOSE sites and get heaps of spyware loaded onto the comp? What is the best security software. There too the confusion is rampant with one person swearing by a certain software and the next person swearing at that very software.

Anyway, long and short of it is that i am offline for a while till my comp is made Virus free again. Will keep you posted on when that happens.

03 June 2008

Train the Trainer

I am majorly excited about the last two workshops that I conducted. They were my first "Train the Trainer" workshops. And if you are an HR trainer you would know what a kick that is. Its just the first step towards being declared an expert in your field.

I did the first workshop for the teachers of Army School, Ambala. There were about thirty of them. English, Science and Maths teachers for the most part. It was wonderful interacting with them. They shared a lot of tricks that they used to get students interested. It was as informative for me as I hope it was for them.

The second one was with the members of AWWA Kharga. AS one can expect when you are delegated to attend a workshop your enthusiasm levels are not going to be very high. However by the time I got going the number of responses did get better. Still the first one was more satisfying. I hope to follow this up with something of the same ilk in Agra.

31 May 2008

Checking out new features

Since I am barely a fortnight into bloging, I still have heaps to learn. I wish I had got into this sooner. Am feeling like I missed the bus. Any tips my friends in IT have to share will be great. Specially if it has anything to do with getting more traffic onto the site.

Have been getting plagued with a software which keeps wanting to protect my privacy. I wish it was a guy in front of me instead of an irritating pop up. I would truely whip him into shape for bothering so much about my privacy.

Next I have been reading up about SEO. A term which I had never even heard of till the 9th of May 2008. For those of my dear friends who are as lost as me, it means Search Engine Optimisation. It means that when you type in a lot of stuff that you want others to read, you also type in a lot of keywords that people keep hunting for. So when they do searches on google your page also pops up in the results.

Will keep you updated of my endeavours.

Humour In Uniform

Being an Army Daugther and an Air Force Wife I have seen both the services at close quarters. There may be quite a few things different, but some things don't change.

Last evening a friend came in splits of laughter to my house. It seems her husband asked the household helper to bring him the "CD" to the bedroom. Time went by and eventually a good ten minutes later, they hear a scraping noise. Then the chap walked in with the MES ka "Seedi".

Straight away reminds me of the time when I was a kid and with Dad at A'Nagar. The regimental centre has guys who are literally "raw recruits". These poor rustic guys, you can imagine them direct from the villages, three decades ago, obviously didn't have a clue.

Two neighbours living on the left side of the block of four houses used to go to play squash every evening together. One fine day the guy downstairs wasn't feeling upto it and so he decided to skip the game that evening. He called his sevadar(aforementioned raw recruit) and told him, "Seedi se upar jao aur sahab ko bolo aaj Sqaush ke liye nahin jayenge" (Go up stairs and tell sahab that we wont play Sqaush today.)

Then the husband and wife retired to the bedroom for their siesta. Within a few minutes they heard a persistant metallic noise outside the window. The lady opened the window to see the chap poised to climb up the "Seedi" to the bedroom window of the upstairs neighbour.

To date I wish she had let him pass the message just to get the neighbour's reaction!

29 May 2008

Working From Home

Work and Home in the same sentence would never exist even a decade ago. However with the advent of the Internet and its popularisation in India, this is a happening new field now. So many people used to tell me, why don't you do something online. There is supposed to be a lot of things that you can do online these days. i would agree politely and then shift the conversation to something else.

While it is true that there are a multitude of people sitting at home and making mega bucks, i was not one of them. Why? Because though I had learnt computers at APTECH and done content writing for a website, I was always in touch with people over the phone. Or I would have been for an interview in person before I got these jobs. The mere thought of getting work online from an unknown person frightened me.

Unreasonable, I know, but true all the same. My basic nature is not geared up for taking risks. I am the kind of person who will weigh all the pros and cons before getting into what i call a calculated risk situation. Thankfully, getting back onto the net and mingling with some strangers has let me ease up on my fears. The mere fact that i am writing this blog is proof of that.

I would also like to thank two close friends of mine for pushing me over the net via supportive emails. they told me to just do something to keep myself busy. It began in a small way doing things I enjoyed, and now here I am.

Teaching Spoken English

Hello All,
One of the reasons why I've created this blog is that I get to put things in perspective. When I first started teaching Spoken English I had no clue about the differences between written and oral skills. I learnt on the job and now I will attempt to tell you more about it.

Essentially there are Four Language Skills that one needs to master to learn a language. These may be categorised as listening, speaking, reading and writing. That's the way a newborn baby learns his first language. In India more often than not the baby is bombarded with at least two different languages at home. The regional language or mother tongue and Hindi. In urban areas there may be a smattering of babies who learn English at home as well.

However the majority of Indian's are more fluent with their Mother Tongue and Hindi and English is learnt in school. When you teach English in school you use the following Language Skills come into play; writing, reading, listening and speaking. The teachers are more interested in perfecting the written word for the exams and after the priliminary classes when orals are no longer part of the exams one hardly gets to prqactice the language at all.

This leads to a large population having learnt English with grammar and all in schools but with little confidence to speak the language. That's where Spoken English classes such as I teach come in. What I do is make them speak as much as they can in English. This is done using various techniques such as impromptu discussions, prepared speeches and presentations, dialogues between people, etc. This improves their confidence levels and Spoken English.

Keep a look out for my next post with more details on the same topic.

27 May 2008

My First Blog

I have been wanting to do this for quite some time now and finally did it. Am hoping to make this a place where I can do some of that serious writing practice i keep promising myself to do. Let's see how good, bad or ulgy it turns out to be.