Tulips in Pune

A very popular song of my childhood (Dekha Ek Khwab…) in the movie Silsila was shot against the backdrop of tulip fields.. Since then I have been wanting to see these flowers up close and luckily for me I did not have to go all the way to Holland for it, nor to the local florist…
I was privileged to see Tulips grown with extreme love and dedication, not to mention hard work by the mother son duo of Madhumati and Ashutosh Sathe. Not only did they generously allow us to view the flowers but gave us a detailed explanation about how they managed this feat (getting the flowers to bloom) in Pune weather, which is not their natural habitat. Mrs Sathe and Ashutosh have been growing Tulips since 2000 and the secret of their success is in the ‘forcing technique’ that they use to get the bulbs to germinate and grow.
According to Mrs Sathe, yellow, red and purple varieties bloom quite well in our climate. Once a flower blooms it stays fresh on the plant for eight days and then fades away. The flowers have a mild fragrance and ‘close’ every night and ‘open’ the next morning.
This year, they were happy to have a flower blooming on Valentines day itself and expect their flowers to continue to bloom till March end. Presently the tulips are the star attraction of their garden.
These flowers are indeed a sight for sore eyes.

And the Sun will shine…

Difficult as it is to say this, one has to accept that the present governance situation in India seems to have reached its nadir. What with one scam after another, soaring prices (to name just a few problems) the only people who seem to be doing well are politicians irrespective of which cap they don.

Yes, the media may go overboard about some issues but can they be blamed for the price rise? (read this: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Pawar-blames-media-says-no-proposal-on-milk-price-rise/570153/). Some ministers have reportedly said the government lacks tools to control price rises (read this: http://www.rediff.com/business/slide-show/slide-show-1-govt-cannot-control-food-prices-accepts-finmin-adviser/20110106.htm).
Corruption, legal violation cases by big wigs languish in our courts.
So where does the common man go? Is this the pits? Do we as honest tax payers deserve this? Should we pay taxes at all? Do we really have democratic processes that represent ‘majority’ opinion or are some influential voters’ blocks taking the rest for a ride? The central government, and every state, municipal corporation and gram panchayat government represent not more than 35% of votes polled. So are our electoral systems truly giving the majority opinion the right to govern? We need to introspect and rethink.
Being the eternal optimist I would like to point to the 2010 Bihar elections. Bihar, the first among the so called BIMARU states, yet its people made a dramatic choice in their 2010. Fed up with corruption, absence of law and order they voted for progress. (read this: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/development-has-won-in-bihar-nitish-kumar/135747-37-64.html
Surely if some people in India can use the ballot to make an emphatic verdict about their preferences, the rest of us can follow? Agreed that there is still a while for elections but we must be sure to make an informed choice based on past performance and not promised results when we vote. We must sort wheat from chaff and learn to take ‘claims’ of so called administrative successes with tons of salt.
This is what people power and power of the ballot is all about.
Don’t despair people. Raise your voice. Think. Act.
And the Sun will shine…

Art to Treasure

In this era of soaring prices, inflation and what have you, one is always looking for new avenues to invest. Avenues that will not be subject to such pressures. Gold, precious stones do not appeal to all or cannot be worn/displayed at will.

However there one more option to consider is paintings. While masterpieces by well known painters may cause you to empty your bank balance, its a good idea to invest in works of other good artists. Hang up the painting in your drawing room/study and become the ‘neighbour’s envy!!

In Pune, a selection of artist Preetima Pande’s paintings is being exhibited at Malaka Spice at Koregaon Park. (This is the link to a report in Pune Mirror: http://punemirror.in/index.aspx?Page=article&sectname=Entertainment%20-%20Variety&sectid=63&contentid=201101182011011802203116748291a23).

Hurry, the display is on up to 31 January 2011.
This is a not-to-miss opportunity to acquire some excellent art.

Are you fully Empowered?

What does womens empowerment really mean? Is it restricted to access to education, financial independence, taking control of one’s relationships, jobs and so on?
Probably many women particularly in urban India may have these choices- what they choose to do is of course their prerogative.

Yet, I find that when in a crisis, we tend show symptoms of the what I call ‘damsel in distress’ syndrome!
Put simply it means we just throw up our hands and expect someone else to sort out the problem for us.
Example: car battery suddenly discharging (of course she forgot to turn of the lights when parking!), a flat car tyre, computer glitches, inflated utility or other bills particularly when the husband is away or gadgets going unserviceable -they always seem to do so when I am around 🙁

Sounds familiar?

While it is always helpful to have get someone else to de-tangle such knotty issues, its important that we know whats to be done…
Here’s what I suggest:

  • Update your contacts list be it on your cell phone or the ubiquitous diary with names and latest phone numbers of providers like emergency car recovery garages, hardware repairmen (taps, electric switches uncannily know when you are alone), helpline numbers of your bank, telephone and Internet providers etc
  • Keep these in an easily accessible place.
  • Learn some basic ‘fault finding’ in gadgets you use. Dont throw away booklets provided with your gadgets. Refer to them when some equipment goes unservicable, you may be able to fix a minor problem yourself.
  • Learn how to change a flat tyre. Besides refuelling your vehicle, check tyre pressure, PUC and insurance validity.
  • Exercise regularly and stay fit so unexpectedly having to carry some weight or walking two kms is not an issue
  • Make sure you follow traffic rules particularly when with your kids-you will set a poor example for them… In keeping with the topic of this post, arguing with the traffic cop, paying a fine or worse finding that your vehicle PUC is out of date is a more than uncomfortable situation…

Learning and doing these basic jobs in no way takes away from our ‘femininity’!
Then our empowerment will be truly complete.

The Short List

They say a soul chooses its parents (which family it is born into).. So unknown to us, someone somewhere is ticking off prospective couples for suitability to being parents. The important factor is ‘unknown’. Each one of us must have had made this choice and will be subjected to one or more later. Its only later in life that we may remember the choices made or are subjected to.

These days kids learn of the ‘short list’ quite early in life- starting from her admission to pre-school though the barely three year old may not know much about eligibility of her candidature… (I refer to both boys and girls, the word used is ‘she’ solely for ease of writing!!)

Yet the kids brave on from class to class, exam to exam till they leave their schools behind and are set for several more rounds of short listing for many more academic laurels. Mind you, their actual merits will now pale before several ‘worldly’ factors like connections to important and influential people, performances beyond studies, a glib tongue (very useful in group discussions and interviews) and financial strength. For some being ‘under served’ may be an advantage but who is decide on what qualifies as underserved?

So the young adults, armed with degrees from self styled ‘top’ colleges enter the bad bad world, all keen to make it to the top of the corporate ladders. There are more shortlists- to chose life partners, the dream home, car, jewelery, invites to page 3 events etc etc

By now they have been shortlisted for cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease just to name a few, which just sends them to the top of the short list to exiting their careers for health reasons. Suddenly being on a shortlist does not seem at all attractive.

What happened?

Should we only live to be chosen for something or take life head on do our bit and leave the rest to the Final Authority? All this sounds good and noble but is not easy to implement.
As my friend said, when difficulties arise do not say ‘Why me’ instead say ‘Try Me’!
That will put the ‘short list’ in its correct place and not give it an undue importance.
Think about it…

Turn green with…

Turning green with envy is something that all of us have faced at some point in our lives.
Yet turning to a green lifestyle is easier said than done.
I tried to do so and faced several difficulties.

This is a brief account of my efforts. Click here or copy paste the following in a new browser window:

Have you adopted a green lifestyle? Was the move an easy one? Do share your experiences!

Hurray for retail!

I had ditched the local bania and unreservedly surrendered to the glitzy new retail outlet near my home. The orderly display and music, apparently huge discounts were infinitely a better atmosphere to shop in than the crowded stuffy shop next door. I was an ‘exclusive’ member of as many of retail clubs as the city had to offer. This made me privy to sale previews, encashable points on future purchases etc. None of the old style stores held my attraction or loyalty any more.

As I wandered through the store on my last visit commenting on a lack of sufficient variety in breakfast cereals, I accidentally dislodged two bottles of rose syrup jutting out of the shelf. The sound of breaking glass was drowned by my pounding heartbeats! I watched in horror as the red syrupy amoeba spread fast on the pristine white floor glaring accusingly at me. Some of my fellow shoppers stared at me with pity and others with condescension. I wished a hole would open up in the ground and swallow me up!

The store staff came around to clean the mess as I jabbered incoherently about paying for the damages. Of course I had had my share of broken bottles, glasses and cups but these were in the safety of my kingdom, namely my home. This was an entirely different cup of tea! I mentally began counting notes in my purse and began to rework my shopping list for the day in order to cater for this unexpected ‘purchase’. The plastic route was unavailable since I was awaiting a renewal of my credit card.

The area having been cleaned up I hurried through the rest of my purchases and landed up at the billing counter ready to pay for my deeds! I explained my predicament to the salesperson and hoped the matter would end there. It was not to be. I saw the manager approaching with a determined look and I feared the worst. Again I slipped into explanations of the accidental breakage and my willingness to pay for the same. The manager had a tough time to get a word into our largely one-sided conversation. As I finally stopped for breath, he grabbed the chance to say his bit!
It took a minute for my splintered brain to grasp what he had said. Seeing me gulping like a fish he gently repeated there was no need to pay- they would account for the bottle as a damaged piece. As the bit of information sank in I was overcome with contrition. I had been careless and this seemed to be the perfect way of ensuring I did not perform an encore! But there was more to come. The manager was profusely apologetic for providing only eight varieties of breakfast cereals and promised me the full range in a couple of day’s time. You see he had overheard my earlier comments.
I came away from the store thoroughly bewildered. The manager’s one sentence had ensured a permanent loyal consumer at his store. I now walk around the store with my hands crossed behind my back or safely folded in front. I have no wish to test if the store’s policies are unchanged!
Some of the big outlets offer exchange programs for old clothes, newspapers or even crockery! I hear foreign retail giants too are entering our markets. I was encouraged by my NRI relatives comments that the stores compared favourably with the ones abroad.
If the retail format gives me a comfortable shopping experience, with discounts, home delivery, gifts etc, what more do I need? Retail zindabad!
Happy Shopping!
First published here on MSN Contribute.


Here are some links to interesting news about women. Click to read the stories in detail.

  • This is a story about Chhavi Rajawat who is an MBA and now sarpanch of a village in Rajasthan.
  • Kathryn Bigelow becomes first woman director wins an Oscar.
  • Air India operates all woman crew to New York.

On the down side:

  • No women fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force: says the Air Chief.
  • This is an article in ‘Time’ magazine about Holly Graf – a Captain in the US Navy who was relieved of her command of a vessel because an investigation report found among other things that she violated regulations “by demeaning, humiliating, publicly belittling and verbally assaulting … subordinates while in command of Cowpens.”U.S.S. Cowpens is a guided missile cruiser.

Have a good day!

Time will tell

This evening the Rajya Sabha voted to pass the Womens Reservation Bill 186-1. Once passed in the Lok Sabha (and subsequent Presidential seal) the new law will reserve 33% seats in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies for women.

Having finished work early I decided to watch House proceedings on DD. By then most of the disgraceful behaviour of our ‘Honourable’ members had been dealt with. Click here to read an account in the Times of India. I was impressed by their oratory skills of members across party lines, my mind being thoroughly prejudiced with the usual ‘give and take’ evident in the political arena. Of course some took the opportunity to wax eloquent on ‘achievements’ of their parties in respective states particularly about women’s upliftment.

Wading through all these layers I learnt some aspects of the bill that were cause for concern. They are:
1. The reservation for women comes at the expense of reduction of reservation for other sections. Many members objected to this (particularly BSP whose members walked out just prior to the vote as they wanted this clause amended).

2. The reservation will be on a rotational basis. This means a different constituency will be reserved for each election. This means the elected member or other potential contestants are not sure that the area they nurture will be available for them to contest.

In his replies the Law Minister mentioned something about passing another bill to sort out the reservation issue further. I am not a law student nor an active follower of political jargon hence may be mistaken in this part. As I understand these are grey areas of the bill and have to addressed by all parties – probably by another vote and more scenes of the kind we saw for the past two days.

In upcoming days, the Lok Sabha’s Bill of Fare will include this bill. Obviously there will be more spicy stuff dished up as political parties try to score points, sulk or try to arm twist the ruling coalition.
I am not really sure reservation is the answer to womens’ woes in India. Reservation will not change the attitude and mind set that encourages, supports women in politics, business etc.
Only time will tell.

What is it with Vampires?

I recently read all four books of the Twilight saga series by Stephanie Myer. I was terribly impressed not only with the story line, characters etc but with fundamentals that the books advocated via its characters for youth. Namely: looking after parents, taking up a job to support your studies, studying, a NO to premarital sex (of course the reasons here were quite different but none the less!),
I also watched two movies based on the first two books and this made me into a vampire fan!
Visit the author’s site here for more details about the movies and books.

While channel surfing last evening, I happened to catch a movie called Love Bites on MGM. I had missed the initial part but within a few minutes it was quite clear the movie was about a 300 year old vampire- Zachary and a young city girl- Kendall. No gory stuff as people that Zachary bit actually seemed to enjoy it!! They probably turned into vampires but that bit I was not clear about… Kendall decides to help Zachary turn human again and helps him adjust to the modern world. The movie has strong romantic overtones despite two ‘villains’ namely Dwight (Kendall’s ex flame) and Nerissa (a female vampire from Zachary’s era). Kendall and Zachary are in love and she is pregnant with his child. Just a day prior to Zachary turning human the story takes a twist.
This is a link to the story: http://www.thatbmoviechick.com/reviews/lovebites.htm

From what I read up on the Internet, this movie seems to be made in 1993. Of course vampires have always been a popular movie subject but usually always the ‘bad guys’. However seeing these movies, has me wondering if their stock is on the uptrend now??
With Adam Ant as the vampire in Love Bites and Robert Pattison playing the cold but dazzling hero in Twilight and New Moon, I guess vampires may be losing their ranking as villains!

What? You havent read the books or seen these movies??
Then you know what is to be done this weekend… Visit burrp!tv here to know when Love bites is to be screened next…