Monday, May 29, 2006

Arjun Singh and Reservations

WHAT IS AN ARJUN SINGH SALE ?
Ans :49.5% off.

WHICH IS ARJUN SINGH'S FAVOURITE CITY ?
Ans :Kota

WHY DOESN'T ARJUN SINGH HAVE TOO MANY FRIENDS?
Ans :Because he's 'reserved' by nature .

WHY DID ARJUN SINGH LEARN ARABIC?
Ans :So that he could read 'backwards'.

ARJUN SINGH WAS MADE THE LAW MINISTER. HE ZAPPED EVERYONE BY CREATING ANOTHER SUPREME COURT. HE CALLED IT THE SUPREME TRIBUNAL. WHAT WAS HIS LOGIC?
Ans : For every SC, there should be an ST .

IF ARJUN SINGH WERE TO MAKE A CAREER IN FILMS, WHICH JOB WOULD HE OPT FOR?
Ans : Choosing the caste .

IF ARJUN SINGH OWNED A MOVIE THEATER, WHAT WOULD THE BALCONY BE CALLED?
Ans : Backward Class

IF ARJUN SINGH WERE A HISTORIAN, HOW WOULD HE DIVIDE TIME?
Ans :AD, BC & OBC.

__________________________________________________

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reservations : A Non Issue to begin with

I grew up as ‘OBC ’!!! Not in the strictest sense. In fact, I wasn’t even aware what my caste was but I did realize of being at a disadvantageous situation, when I looked at convent bred guys but did also feel fortunate at the sight of those who went to municipal run schools. Now after few decades down the life’s journey, in a global MNC work environ, I do feel a sense of privilege in joining bandwagon of the advantageous elite group of those who I was in awe at convent schools. Amidst current imbroglio of reservation struggle, If I were to look at my yester-years, I would relate myself in a slot of OBC with convent grown boys as higher caste and municipal school guys as backward castes. I shudder to think of any social strata for those who spent their childhood rummaging through scraps at railway tracks.

How did this transformation happen?

I did my school education in traditional Marathi medium based in the neighborhood of govt. servants and mill workers. With just a pair of blue and white cotton uniform that would lose its shine in no time, in comparison to those who went to convent schools in western suburbs of Bandra in neatly tucked in ironed outfits. But we lived two separate ghettoes, so grotesque mismatch didn’t make it apparent. My school didn’t have any library; I would satiate my knowledge desire at Govt. sponsored library that didn’t have anything beyond detective and romantic novels. School didn’t have any sports gear so sports was only restricted to Kho-Kho, Kabbadi and Langdi. At home, my pencil would get cut in three smaller lots by my mother as she couldn’t digest the thought of buying a new one if I were to lose whole one (which I often did), my notebook cover was wrapped in news print paper and label tags were made from leftover blank pages of previous year’s notebook. I was envious of guys with brown covers and labels with colorful images of trains, butterflies etc. School journey wasn’t all that of hardship but it wasn’t enchanting either. I was made to focus only on studies with every minute of my spare time supplemented by enrolling me to special coaching classes and Sanskrit, Hindi proficiency examinations.

This passion on part of my parents made sure that I managed to squeeze through school rigors and secured enough grades to qualify for college education. With lack of skills in almost every discipline except number churning, memory conducive science subjects, anything beyond science discipline was unthinkable. At college, gap between disadvantaged and advantaged group became evident. Most guys who grew up in a similar environment as mine would huddle in groups and admire those who spoke fluent English, wore attractive clothes and have food at restaurants. By now, the overzealous passion at home reached a crescendo, by tagging me to special coaching at Agrawal classes. This led to the single most accomplishment of my life that would change my life for ever – securing a berth for an engineering course.

Here at graduate studies in engineering, life began to take shape but environment remained essentially the same. One thing was in stark contrast. Here majority people came from the disadvantaged position – be it a village farmer, industrial worker or Govt. Servant. Tuition fees Rs. 180 per six months semester, Hostel Fees at Rs 120 per semester and monthly food bill at less than 100, ensured fulfilling lifelong dream of parents to make their son an engineer.

After graduation, real struggle began in earnest desire to bridge the gap between this disadvantaged yet empowered person with those who were well ensconced in sleek jobs with maverick presentation and articulate communication skills. Years rolled by with steadfast determination to acquire those skills that would catapult me to brush shoulders with those who began their journey from advantageous position? During this ordeal, I acquired MBA in evening hours, honed required professional Job skills by observing and emulating seniors.

Two Factors contributed to this silent and slow transformation. First Factor: Passion and Belief of my parents that Education is the only remedy for the entire social and economic disadvantage. Second Factor: Government’s generous and liberal subsidy in making the education affordable. First factor guided me to take a plunge; Second factor empowered me with an ability to float. Bulk of today’s 200 million middle class population that comprise of doctors, engineers, accountants, software guys will gratefully acknowledge the importance of these two factors in their success.

Over past few weeks, India is at cross roads to decide if they should make reservation to OBC’s in higher education or not. Student who do not belong to OBC category fear of losing an opportunity to become a doctor or engineer and vice a versa of those belong to an OBC group. Govt. in all probability will appease both the groups by increasing the seats (allocating more funds) and reserving seats for OBC. On the surface, solution appears palliative, but real issue lies elsewhere.

Are we on path to create wealthy and powerful nation?

Most country’s progress is measured by the percentage of GDP is spent on education. Indian government’s education expenditure as a percentage of GDP was at maximum 4.3% of GDP. When we compare this with USA at app. 5%, Germany 3.4%, Japan 2.4%, figures are not all that dismal. At this rate of education spending, India should have at least progressed in terms of literacy and education. But statistics show otherwise. India has the largest illiterates in the world, larger than whole population in 1947. China had literacy rate of 65% in 1980 now it is 85%. India is still langouring at 65%.

So where did India go wrong then?

Our education spending is considerably skewed towards higher education. From 1950 till 1990, 30% of public education has gone to higher education. On top of it was highly subsidized. Meanwhile, millions of children continue to suffer with no proper school. Nearly 97% of primary education spending goes to teachers salaries, leaving little money left for books and schools. In villages, teacher’s salary is the highest yet most of them don’t even come to teach. Why is India passionate for higher education? On the contrary, USA devoted just 1.2% and Japan just 0.3% to higher education.

To compound to this problem, new Govt. policy of reserving additional 27% of higher education seats to OBC’s with an additional allocation to increase the number of seats. How foolish and stupid the policy can be with utter disregard to real issue. This education policy would only help politicians to hold on to their roots of electoral power. China has done the opposite. They have a dedicated themselves to basic primary education and infrastructure as Japan and South Korea did. Why can’t we think the same?

Is there any way forward?

India needs to make 100% primary and secondary education free and compulsory to everyone – all castes included. Graduate studies should be subsidized; And Post graduate studies must be paid by student. Govt. can offer loan with market interest to those who wish to avail post graduate studies. PG breed earn enough money by getting plum jobs. This would allow Govt. to increase education expenditure to 6% - a goal that was planned but never achieved. This additional resource would provide village schools a roof, blackboard, chalk and books. In turn they would bring a whole new generation of educated people in their down-trodden villages.

Just few days ago, Finance Minister Chidambaram argued on NDTV with a claim of every backward caste person has been benefited from reservation in southern states. But, if they were to actually benefit from reservation then why do their next generations need more reservations? Why do Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan and his backward caste brethrens who are flushed with funds continue to benefit their children in the name of caste?

I would be happy to see more people migrating from the position of disadvantage to advantage and increasing the larger pool of educated middle class Indians to emulate success that of Japan and South Korea. A combined effort of Govt. and people in advantageous situation to provide succor to disadvantaged people—not in terms of reservations but by resources to compete and find their place in the world. This alone would crumble the walls of suspicion, hatred that centuries old casteism that has been assiduously built and nurtured by political masters.

I think it’s futile to discuss the reservation policy. We need pragmatic, visionary education policy that will build the nation and not attempt to give piecemeal of scarce and diminishing resources to every one and never get any returns. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the very foundation on which weak portion is resting. As long as we don’t address the issue of basic education for the bulk of the population, we shall be only postponing the inevitable – a revolution resulting from divide between Have’s and Have Nots.



Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fascinating Images of Ganesha









Sunday, May 21, 2006

stock market crash in India

Market crash by 1200 points in two days :
This story I got from my walchand college yahoo group conveys everything about stock market in a manner no financial pundits, stock brokers, fund managers or columnist could ever sum in such a succinct manner
Once upon a time in a village a man appeared who announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for Rs. 10. The villagers seeing that there were many monkeys went out in the forest and started catching them. The man bought thousands at 10 and as supply started to diminish and villagers started to stop their effort he announced that now he would buy at 20 rupees.
This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer rate increased to 25 and the supply of monkeys became so that it was an effort to even see a monkey let alone catch it.
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at 50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business his assistant would now buy on behalf of the man. In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers. Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at 35 and when the man comes back you can sell it to him for 50. The villagers queued up with all their saving to buy the monkeys.
Phir na aadmi mila na us ka assistant........... Sirf bandar hee bandar!!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Da Vinci Code

I picked up the pirated DVD of this movie two months ago, in Chiang mai. I marvelled at the ingenuity of pirated DVD makers to get hold of coveted and well guarded print well ahead of its formal opening.

I wasn’t sure if I should watch this movie before I read this book. However, curiosity grew more intense after reading controversy from Orthodox Christian Groups in UAE influencing govt to ban this movie. I decided to watch this movie with English subtitles and all set to an engrossing journey to Louver Museum.

Movie started with fascinating panoramic view of France country side with interiors of castle of the clergyman who struck goldmine by deciphering of Da Vinci code. Beginning of the movie appeared more like a documentary but then it’s not so uncommon for director to delve into the back ground of the subject for the benefit of ignorant viewers like me. But somehow, this sermon went far beyond the precipice of human tolerance. With no Tom Hanks and Louver Museum in sight, I wondered if I hit the right button 'play movie' or something else.

After few fast forward transactions, it dawned upon me, this movie is ‘Origins of Da Vinci Code' and not “Da Vinci”. The word ‘Origins of’ is in fine print of DVD’s first screen. Package mentions only the movie title with pictures of Tom Hanks, Lour Museum and snippet of the script at the backside. My initial frustration soon turned into an admiration of Pirated DVD makers who displayed innovative business acumen of making a quick buck.

I wonder how many people must have bought the DVD of ‘Da Vinci’ only to end up in studying origin of this historical mystery.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

sikkim : A visit year ago but feel like it happenend y'day


As my car approached LuLu supermarket where I had gone to take my passport picture for my forthcoming Japan trip, the thought flashed my mind “ why I am wasting my life here in Dubai Summar at 40 plus temp”. I consoled myself that India is no better than Dubai with temp in most parts atleast 3 degree more than in Dubai and on top of it, perennial power cut and water shortage.

When I watch NDTV weather bulletin every morning and see Gangtok temp at 20 degree, I long for that place. What’s special about Sikkim ? I can’t pick up. Is it sheer beauty of nature, Is it Himalayas or wonderful people ? All I know is that I miss Sikkim- Gangtok very much. How often I have told myself that I do belong to this place and its people. Destiny brought me to this place after decades and now I feel Sikkim should be part my second part of life innings . How I miss being at my friend Khanna's home made up of simple wooden planks on raised platform amidst lush green rain soaked surroundings and sipping chang- beer. Sitting with feet immersed in chilled flowing rivulets of water gushing out of high rise moutanins on it’s way to join river Teesta was like being a part of nature's mosaic pattern. Enchanting place with wonderful people, that’s Sikkim . Going out with laxumann to the Tashi view point, filling up lungs with cool misty air, looking at floating clouds that goes past while deciphering water plant that supplies water to the city.

It would be a year when I undertook this journey but it seems I never left this place even for a day. Idea of sikkimyst.com was burgeoned while i was there and within few months it took shape, now this idea has turned into a reality. How I wish to be there in Gangtok to make this business profitable as I enjoy the beauty of nature and in my part time teach little buddha’s (student monks) at monastery. I wonder how long this psuedo ‘sense of job satisfaction’ of corporate recognition and gratis in terms of foreign travel would last. If two and half decades of work expereince in the most competitive industry coupled with people skills and steady mind garnered over this period cant make me shift my base to Gangtok, then have I learnt the art of doing some exceptonal and extraordinary ?

I must make one more visit to sikkim to check if this yearning for Sikkim is truly well entrenched in my soul and not just an illusory mirage of my first brush of love with himalayas.
p.s :I read the article on "memories of sikkim" from the blog of http://apillcalledlife.blogspot.com/2006/04/memories-of-sikkim.html and my own memories of Sikkim poured.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

India smiling

I never knew laughter international club has its headquarters in Mumbai and ‘world laughter day was founded by an Dr. Madan Kataria -Indian physician at the Jaslok Hospital (Bombay) .

The first “World Laughter Day” gathering took place in Mumbai, India, on 11th of January 1998 and now there are more than 12,000 members from local and international Laughter Clubs joined together in a mega laughter session. “HAPPY-DEMIC” was the first World Laughter Day took place on 9th January 2000 In Copenhagen, Denmark and more than 10,000 people gathered at Town Hall Square. The event went into Guinness Book of World records.

“World Laughter Day” is now organized on the first Sunday of May every year.

For me, laughter is when i read santa- banta and jeeto (sant's wife) jokes and watch Jaspal Bhatti on Ulta Pulta.

• Tourist: Whose skeleton is that?
Santa: Tipu's skeleton.
Tourist: Whose that smaller skeleton next to it?
Santa: That was Tipu's skeleton when he was child

• Banta: Y did u buy ur wife a huge diamond ring for her B'day? I
thought she wanted a car.
Santa: She did, but where in the world was I going to find a fake
car?

• Jeeto: Dekho woh admi mujhe ghoor-ghoor ke dekh raha hai.
Santa: Woh to kabadia hai, raddi pe nazar rakhna uski aadat hai

• Santa: Agar tumhe kuch ho gaya to mein Pagal ho jaaunga.
Jeeto: Doosri shaadi to nahin karogey?
Santa: Pagal ka kya hai, kuch bhi kar sakta hai

• Banta: Yeh AUTOMATICALLY kya hota hai?
Santa: Oye tenuh eh vi nahin pata, Jab auto mein koi ganji ladki ja
rahi ho to use kehte hain AUTO-ME-TAKLI

• Santa breaks an egg to make an omelet. He finds the egg empty.
Gets frustrated & says: Aaj kal murguian bhi abortion karati hain

• Santa: If I die will u remarry?
Jeeto: No! I'll stay with my sister. But if I die will u remarry?
Santa: No, I'll also stay with ur sister

Lady: Time kitna hua hai?
Banta: Bra Panties.
Lady: Time poocha hai Nonsense.
Banta: Time hi to bataya hai 12.35

• Santa was riding on a horse. He jumped the red light & a cop
whistles.
Santa lifts the tail of horse & says: 'Le Karle Number Note'

• Santa suffering from cold was shivering. His son called a doc.
Doc: wht happened?
Son: Bimari da ta pata nahun par baapu saver da VIBRATION mode te
lagaya hai

• Jeeto & Preeto were talking about their new milkman.
Jeeto: He's very good looking, punctual & dresses so smartly.
And so quickly too!, said Preeto

• A man to Santa: Ur friend is kissing ur wife in ur home.
Santa rushes home and came back within half an hour n slapped the
man n said: He's not my friend.

• Jeeto: Kal raat tum mujhe neend mein tumne mujhe gaaliyan di
Santa: Tumhari galat fahami hai.
Jeeto: Kaisi galatfahami?
Santa: Yehi ki mein soya tha.

• Gal to Banta: Kya shaadi k baad bi tum muje itna pyar karoge?
Banta: Kyon nahin? Mein to diwana hoon shadi-shuda aurton ka.

• While walking in the highlands Santa fell down a deep hole.
Banta: R u ok?
Santa: Yeah!
Banta: Did u break anything?
Santa: No, there's nothing down here

• Santa goes to buy a underwear. On choosing one he asks: How much
for this?
Shopkeeper: Rs 500
Santa: Arey bhai daily waer dikhaao, Party wear nahin chahiye.

• Banta: Oye, tu to Doctor ke paas jaane waala tha, kya hua?
Santa: Yaar kal jaaonga, aaj thodi tabiyat kharab hai.

IPC 498a: Is it a shield or a weapon of assassination ?


The story goes like this. In old bygone days, there was a king who was sincere, committed to his people but was weak in terms of his ability to defend his kingdom against his superior neighbors. In order to safeguard himself , He decides to pray Lord Shiva and prays hard, long hours that stretches to days and months, with sustained dedication and penance. Lord Shiva, a kind and merciful god gets pleased with King’s prayers and bestows him a boon that could protect him from any threats. King is now happy and relieved. He is free from any worry from any external threat and can concentrate on the betterment of his kingdom. But soon, he is devoured by the thought that he is invincible. He becomes arrogant, and instead of using the boon as a protection, he become aggressor and use it to instill a fear in the mind of anyone against his wishes. He now becomes tormentor, evil and curse to the society.

Indian Mythology is replete with similar stories.

Something similar is happened to Indian Penal Code 498a. A law that was designed to protect woman against her harassment by her husband and his family for demand of Dowry is now turned into an act of ‘terrorism’ and ‘blackmail’.

Indian justice system proclaims 'no matter how many culprits go scot free, no single innocent will ever go punished '. A noble thought indeed !! and this very thought has led to many murderers, rapists, cheaters walk out of any punishment by just casting a doubt in the mind of judiciary. But Indian penal code 498a goes very against the above premise. "In the eyes of law everybody is INNOCENT till proved GUILTY.' However victim families trapped by Indian Police under section 498A are; "GUILTY till proved INNOCENT".

What exactly is 498a?
Passed by Indian Parliament in 1983, Indian Penal Code 498A, is a criminal law (not a civil law) which is defined as, “Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. The offence is Cognizable, non-compoundable and is non bail able.

What are its implications?
Once a woman makes a written complaint of dowry harassment to a nearby police station. The husband, his old parents and relatives who reside in the house are immediately arrested without sufficient investigation, without verification and put behind bars on a non-bailable terms. Even if the complaint is false, they shall be presumed guilty until they prove that they are innocent.

498a can only be invoked by wife/daughter-in-law or her relative. Most cases where Sec 498A is invoked turn out to be false (as repeatedly accepted by High Courts and Supreme Court in India) as they are mere blackmail attempts by the wife (or her close relatives) when faced with a strained marriage. In most cases 498a complaint is followed by the demand of huge amount of money (extortion) to settle the case out of the court. This section is non-bailable (you have to appear in court and get bail from the judge), non-compoundable (complaint can't be withdrawn) and cognizable (arrests without investigation or warrants). There have been countless instances where, without any investigation, the police have arrested elderly parents, unmarried sisters, pregnant sister-in-laws and even 3 year old children. In these cases unsuspecting family of husband has to go through a lot of mental torture and harassment by the corrupt Indian legal system. A typical case goes on for years (5-7 years is typical) and the conviction rate is about 2% only. Some accused parents, sisters and even husbands have committed suicide after time in jail.

This draconian law has even stirred countries like USA, Canada who have issued caution notice against the citizens who wish to marry in India. Canadian circular says “Growing numbers of Canadian citizens have been caught up with misuse of India’s Dowry Prohibition Act. This law, which was enacted to protect women and makes demanding a dowry a crime, is sometimes used to blackmail men through false allegations of dowry extortion. Individuals facing charges may be forced to remain in India until their cases have been settled or pay off their spouses in exchange for the dismissal of charges. To avoid such problems, you are advised to register your marriage in India along with a joint declaration of gifts exchanged, as well as consider a prenuptial agreement ”. USA circular says “ A number of U.S.-citizen men who have come to India to marry Indian nationals have been arrested and charged with crimes related to dowry extraction. Many of the charges stem from the U.S. citizen's inability to provide an immigrant visa for his prospective spouse to travel immediately to the United States. The courts sometimes order the U.S. citizen to pay large sums of money to his spouse in exchange for the dismissal of charges. The courts normally confiscate the American’s passport, and he must remain in India until the case has been settled. There are also cases of U.S.-citizen women of Indian descent whose families force them against their will into marriages to Indian nationals”

Every year 1000s of innocent Indian husbands are charged with false DOWRY cases. Their innocent parents, young sisters & mothers are arrested, jailed without warrant. Some have died. Some have committed suicide unable to bear injustice. Statistics about National Suicide is alarming. While national Suicide rate is:11/100,000 , For males in the age group of 30 to 44, the Suicide rate is a whopping 508 per 100,000 persons; for women it is 220. The suicide rates among men in the age group of 45 to 59 is a shocking 1,812 per 100,000 persons and among women, nearly 550. All of this is as the result of 498a harassment. Most interesting statistics is about suicide rates among divorced males is 164 per 100,000 persons, but for females the rate is only 63 per 100,000. In case of separated men it is about 167, for females it is only 41 per 100,000 persons.

Supreme Court of India on 498A has commented that " The law was intended to strike at the root of dowry menace. But by misuse of the provision a new legal terrorism is being unleashed” The provision that was intended to be used as a shield has turned out to be assassin's weapon.
This article is compilation from following blogs that have commited to stop the menace of 498a misuse :
http://stannoxane.blogspot.com
http://misuse498a.blogspot.com
http://www.saveindianfamily.org
http://wellquoted.blogspot.com
http://indianhusbands.blogspot.com
http://batteredmale.blogspot.com
http://pariwariksuraksha.blogspot.com
http://ashishjena.wordpress.com/
http://misuse498a.blogspot.com
http://indianbakra.blogspot.com/
http://www.498a.org/blog
http://www.jenburke.com
http://batteredman.blogspot.com
http://cruiserdeep.blogspot.com
http://harassed-husbands.blogspot.com
http://498-do-or-die.blogspot.com
http://presentindia.blogspot.com

Saturday, May 06, 2006

if things don’t go my way I’m filing a 498a

I believe lot of these women who end up filing 498a’s are inherently very insecure and weak. They appear to have craved for attention and control all their life. They are not willing to commit to a relationship and bear the ups and downs of marrried life.

Also, something strangely familiar with most of these women is the role of their father and mother in their parents marraige. Allow me to clarify, IMO, women coming from homes where the father is a dodo and nothing short of a doormat tend to be most vengeful. Simple reason being girls have seen their fathers getting trounced by their wives (aka the girls mother) all their life and their fathers squirming at the thought of his wife giving him some 3rd degree. With time girls begin to rationalise that men are meant to be controlled and ridiculed by their wives. Hence the hard stance - if things don’t go my way I’m filing a 498a.

This is just my observation. Some of the most successful marriages I have seen with friends and relatives are those where the girls father is very strong and knows the rights and wrongs of life and relationships. Lot of parents screw up their daughters marriages by allowing them to complain about their husbands and inlaws in fact sometimes even encouraging such behavior. This takes away the element of respect and harmony between the wife and husband which is essential for any successful relationship. Remember there is no such thing as designer husbands or wives or in-laws. Everything takes time to shape up.

couretsy : http://stannoxane.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Amman : city of white stones


My distress of arriving in Amman with non arrival of checked in luggage quickly disappeared with the sight of pounding rain, chill climate with temp in single digit. Those who stay in Gulf can understand the pleasure and joy of cloudy weather with rain that fills up parched lungs with heat and sand of desert.

This was my second trip to Jordan. My previous visit was at Dead Sea using Amman as a transit point for an evening dinner and a movie. This time, all my 3 nights 4 days were in downtown Amman at Hotel Regency. This supposedly five star hotel appears impressive at a distance with its neon signs but apart from convenient location and running hot water there was hardly anything that was worth enjoying my stay. My purpose of the visit was to participate at Arab Nephrology Conference at Hotel Le Meridian. Security cordon at all star hotels in Amman are strict and understandably so, with recent bombing at hotel Renaissance. Hotel porch is out of bounds for all vehicles with huge concrete barricades and metal detector gate at the entrance. But I wonder how that could prevent maniac suicide bomber.

Trees in Amman have unique appearance. Most tress elsewhere have drooping leaves fanning out but in Amman it’s the opposite. Here branches of the tress go upwards at 30-45deg angle and so are the leaves with branches almost clinging to the trunk. I wonder if its nature’s way to conserve water because of extreme heat and less available water, the trees in Jordan looks similar to Christmas tree but the other way around. Jordanians are well mannered, affectionate and friendly arabs. Amman has almost one-fourth of Jordanian population of five million, roads are not so wide yet the city is well laid, maintained and clean. With city built on top of string of mountains, it has more underpass than flyovers. At any point, one can see roads going up and down. It doesn’t take long to notice most buildings are in white. It seems there is law that all buildings be built in white tile. Streets in the city are flanked on both sides with small shops interspersed by kebab stalls and tiny cafes along the traffic junction where rich Arabian coffee is sipped in the afternoon sunshine. This mood is well depicted in CNN – sights and sounds.

The conference was inaugurated by Her Highness Princess Basma, sister of Late King Hussein. I listened to her speech and also had an opportunity to shake hands with her when she came to take round at the exhibition booth. Her eloquence in English language and her modesty impressed me. Her zeal and enthusiasm in empowering woman and disabled children through various schemes is commendable. Her website http://www.princessbasma.jo/public_life.html is informative for those who do not know her. She is also goodwill of UNFPA: United Nations Population Fund.

Previous visit, I had a chance to enjoy luxury of Movenpick Resort at Dead Sea, this time it was the turn to dine at some of the finest Italian and Arabic restaurants in Amman . La Cucina in the serene Abdoun residential area and Romero opposite Intercontinental. Both are compact, cozy specialized Italian restaurants. The change from Italian to Arabic came when I had dinner at Al Huwwara – spacious place with rooftop made up of stained glass, in summer the dining area is moved outside. Chairs are rooted to the ground with center round table embedded with embroidered brass plate inside the wooden exterior. Arabic cuisine doesn’t belong to any particular country but has is combination of influence from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Mezza is from Lebanon and Sweet dishes are from Egypt. Flat round bread “Khoubz" taste better in Al Huwara; perhaps this is because it is prepared in traditional style. Most popular dishes in Jordan are "Musakhan" and Shish-tawook". "Musakhan" is chicken, steamed in a sauce of olive oil, onions and pine seeds baked on bread layered with more onions . Lamb is the most popular than Fish. Sish Kabab with pieces of lamb, marinated chicken and patties of minced and spiced lamb meat cooked over a charcoal fire with onions and tomatoes taste great in these Arabic surroundings. Arabic coffee boiled with Hal (Cardamom), and served in tiny cups flows free as a part of the Bedouin hospitality customs.

Cool Temp, cloudy weather, rains combined with sumptuous food with great friends didn’t make me realize of the lost baggage. In fact it gave me an opportunity to go to the local market and shop survival kit till my luggage with clothes arrived next day. My third luggage - exhibition display panel – is yet to be traced even after a month of my arrival back in Dubai. During my three days, Jordan had more rain than it would have for the remaining part of the year, which made everyone happy except European visitors who were looking forward to some sunshine.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Maharashtra Day

जय जय महाराष्ट्र माझा, गर्जा महाराष्ट्र माझा

रेवा वरदा, कृष्ण कोयना, भद्रा गोदावरी
एकपणाचे भरती पाणी मातीच्या घागरी
भीमथडीच्या तट्टांना या यमुनेचे पाणी पाजा
जय जय महाराष्ट्र माझा ...

भीती न आम्हा तुझी मुळी ही गडगडणार्‍या नभा
अस्मानाच्या सुलतानीला जवाब देती जीभा
सह्याद्रीचा सिंह गर्जतो, शिवशंभू राजा
दरीदरीतून नाद गुंजला महाराष्ट्र माझा

काळ्या छातीवरी कोरली अभिमानाची लेणी
पोलादी मनगटे खेळती खेळ जीवघेणी
दारिद्र्याच्या उन्हात शिजला, निढ़ळाच्या घामाने भिजला
देशगौरवासाठी झिजला
दिल्लीचेही तख्त राखितो, महाराष्ट्र माझा