Monday, 24 December 2012


My Alberta trip  cont…

From Lake Louise (I’ll write about it sometime), we drove our Chevy to the Athabasca

Glacier, a most scenic drive with mountains and turquoise lakes. Traversing the terrain away from civilization so to speak. For a minute I panicked when I found our mobile phones refused to connect in that wide wild expanse of wilderness, lost sort of … Talking about being cut off from the world so to speak my brother  knew nothing of the 9/11 holocaust  since he was  enroute to the Jasper National Park, he said. However we were armed with everything to ward off an emergency. I caught my breath every time I came across a board signaling Avalanche prone area. With continuous  drizzle the chances of an avalanche were very bright! We did see a small one on the road where the Avalanche clearing vehicle was already there clearing the spill! That talks a lot about administration of the place.

A little  unnerved but reassured, also  the beauty of the moment was too much of a distraction to mull over expected disasters, we went onward. Traversing the Canadian Rocky landscape was indeed a visual icing on the cake! It looked so unreal, a 3D movie! picture perfect!

Around every corner was a photo opportunity. With the innumerable photos we took we sure would have gone bankrupt had we to buy the photo rolls thanks to the digital camera , kudos to the inventors! We captured the awesome vistas of  mountain peaks and mountain tops (we were told that there is some difference between the two!) and glaciers and waterfalls. The ice plastered on the black mountains had different patterns , one particular one is etched in my mind so taken in I was that did not photograph it and pity I am not an artist else I could paint it .Well I’ll try to paint it with words …As we were nearing our  destination it seemed to me that on a black canvas couple of km long  painted with white was a women lying full length on her side  with her hand under her chin and her mane of black hair falling over her shoulder.. a face with a perfect couture … an upturned nose and all , of a beautiful women…    the strains of  the song, Author of beauty God on high ,this is for you that I sigh, the heavens are blue proclaiming to you the beauty of God the creator!.. came to my mind.

Unbelievably  indescribable scenes. The sunbeams changing their irradiance to create unique pictures… custom made for each tourist!  Smoothly we eased  in the parking lot of the rest area the wooden building that houses the information tourist  centre. From the Ice field visitors centre, I could see the glacier It looked like a mass of white sheet cold in the slight drizzle unfriendly and aloof.. that’s it. I thought to myself what a fuss Puru had made for this piece of ice. In order not to douse his excitement I put some excitement in my tone and oo’ ed and aah ’ed while he was buying the tickets to actually walk on the Athabasca. While we were  still standing in the queue it was announced that it was time for the bus to go …the next  set and the last ones to go were after an hour . We rushed and   climbed into the waiting bus took our seats behind the driver having a million questions in our heads which we thought we’d find out later from Google but we were pleasantly surprised when the driver turned out to be a guide as well, he gave us a detailed description about the geography of the whole terrain  .He showed us the now redundant bus that ferried passengers to and fro the glacier .It had tank like chain tyres . While we were all shaking rhythmically on the bus  because of the undulated road, he extolled the virtues of the bus at length . He showed us  the lateral and vertical Moraines it seemed so simple I remembered having burnt the midnight oil learning and drawing them for the geography test .A ride up here is a must for all kids ..just being here will make them experts. He informed us that this  ice river was as thick as the  length of Eiffel tower, snaking a few kilometers through mighty rock spires and turrets shrouded in so many folktales and history .He told us that the Athabasca was receding every year and he talked about the lake made  in its wake! So engrossed we were that the bus stopped and there I was all ready to step on the glacier, only to be told that it was further ahead and it was beyond the scope of the bus so were asked to get into another waiting bus. The red  bus had huge broad tyres. I literally shouted my fright when we started on a absolute vertical descent.The lovely young lady driver oblivious of the heightened adrenal of her passengers started a soci-economic geography lesson. It was like being on a huge roller coaster in an amusement park. Soon I got drawn into her enthusiastic description of the place. She pointed out that the centre gets submerged in snow in the winter months. In the spring it takes about 10 days to get it back into working order. She told us about it shrinking and expanding. She knew the names of the mountains surrounding the area and a whole lot... of the explorer who discovered the glacier ,someone who chalked out the route ,..some ancient folklore connected to some  nook and cranny  …before long we stopped a little away from the proud Canadian Flag marking the spot where a couple of  buses were waiting for their passengers to enjoy the experience. As she opened the Aero plane like door for us to deboard  she cautioned us to be within the area ear marked with colourful plastic stumps  beyond which safety was a question mark. Pointing to the narrow stream of running water she dispelled any fear harbored by the passengers about  carrying some foreign bacteria by saying that she’s been drinking out of it for the past two years giving us the green signal to taste it .

As we set foot  on the Athabasca a feeling of landing on the moon crossed my mind  I for one can tell you how Neil Armstrong must have felt .This is it !I thought !Wow! to be on the pristine pure holy ground and almost slipped .The snow was like in the refrigerator when it needs defrosting .It was so slippery quickly my brother came up with a solution to the problem take very small slow steps …soon we got a hang of stomping around taking small steps .I squealed with delight, energy surging in my whole being , being here was the stuff of legend ,fresh snow ,pure white delight of sunlight and flight ,laughter and  grit. We saw many of the tourists slipping and falling but getting up and walking around not wanting to waste even a moment of the twenty minutes that were given to us to be there. The whole place was full of sounds of happiness…happy yelling, resonating  happy laughter, children screaming with mirth, slipping, falling or simply rolly pollying, romping around! Believe me all the adults had the child in them activated. We were all kids atop the Athabasca.!!!!!

The scene near the tiny river lute resembled a holy spot where the people were sprinkling the water on their faces ,some were filling the water in their bottles ,some of us were scooping the elixir  with our cupped hands, drinking pure natural glacial/mineral water, well…feeling blessed after sipping the nectar.

Saw the Brewster Ice mobile in a new perspective ,it sure is a beauty item …red and proud. Proud  of the fact of  making  it possible for so many people to have a unique experience …an impossibility without it’s service! Took numerous photos inside it, beside it, under it…Kudos to the inventors of the ice mobile(find out who designed it?)Posed for a picture  holding  the Canadian flag as mark of thanks to the Canadian Tourism department for the foresight to making it a safe tourist attraction!

Soon the lady conductor and driver, rolled in one, started the bus, time to go .We all settled in our seats. To her question… ‘Any questions?’ I asked her about any accidents? my mistake believe me –the grotesque gory stories that she fed us while traversing the mountainous terrain ….my feet slammed on to imaginary brakes  for the fear that anytime the bus could fall off the steep incline! In the backdrop of that sweet, well modulated, melodramatic voice, which I chose to block  words like – crevasses- tourist disappeared- found after years …seemed as if just sleeping… gulped by crevasse…never to return…filtered in nevertheless . Our return journey continued smoothly with a commentary of true spine chilling stories connected with the Athabasca.  Athabasca who had given us  joyous times could be monstrous too! Dr.Jekyll  Mr. Hyde category I am sure!

Even as I am writing this ,the Information/Visitor Centre at the Athabasca Glacier must be fully clothed in snow. The hibernating Athabasca opened an eye to see the much loved entourage of Saint Nicholas going off to distribute gifts of joy and hope to the world settling down again  ...happy in the thought that it will  awake to  delight the tourists once again in May!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz that’s Athabasca in deep slumber!

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Browsing today’s Hindustan Times I came across this piece of information.

By proportion home to the largest Indian diaspora in the west ,Canada may have Indians as its largest minority by mid-century.

 Indian community accounts for  over 3.6 per cent of Canada’s population of  nearly  33 million .

India has its highest population across Western nations in Canada, higher than it’s share of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In 1966, the number of new immigrants from India stood at 2,233.

In 2011, the number was 24,965 immigrants arrived from India.
Indian community is fast emerging as a major demographic group in Canada!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


On his Business trip to Calgary, he took his dear sister that’s me Ahem! No Mona little one don’t get green you are equally dear to both of us ….only thing we grew up together sharing toys, games, inventing languages, exploring the huge rooms back home in Poona for the so called hidden treasures in the huge bangalow constructed during the British time, when the whole household was  taking their siesta in the lazy afternoons. We worked on our secret language to share some mischief together. I remember we named our Doctor uncle ‘Khastam ’ we detested him with a passion for injecting  those menacing looking  painful  injections…and giving us enema at the drop of a hat !Yes we also got sick together …We have shared our measles, chicken pox, thyphoid, mumps and what not…lying side by side in perfect harmony, companionship and disagreement much to the chagrin of our parents .

Now he wanted to share the unique visual delight of his, to explore and experience the beauty of Alberta. Which I did to the hilt ! 

We flew from Toronto at 7 am Toronto time and reached Calgary at 8.40 a.m.Calgary time. After flying for four  hours .Calgary is to the west of Toronto hence the two hours time difference. He graciously offered me the window seat. And before I made myself comfortable he had dosed off .Could not see much as most part we were either above the clouds or between them .The turbulent weather  tossed the plane  around with such ease as if it were a Frisbee  gave me such a fright  oblivious to the jerky ride  he was in sweet dreams .He opened his beautiful eyes when we were on the descend .He pointed out to the Rockies far away, the prairies and as we came closer to the ground he pointed out to the landmarks ….the Downtown The Calgary tower , The Saddle stadium. As we touched the tarmac – I reported safe landing to Mom and Dad and told them unlike the weather predictions of black menacing clouds we had a sunny bright day spread out before us. Well- I said  it too soon   The 680 News was right as we hired a Chevy and set the G.P.S  on his Apple iPhone  the sky covered  itself with a thick black blanket dousing the excitement of my brother who wanted  me to ‘dekho  the picture postcard perfect scenic beauty of the Rockies against he backdrop of  deep  blue sunny skies .His conversation took an apologetic note as to last this…last time that…because by now the rain came down  in sheets. I assured him that if driving was not a pain with him in the in Clementine weather I was thoroughly enjoying the novelty of it all .He seemed relieved and we relaxed.

We’ drove on in the brand new car on strong engineered straight road  with the river  along side . swirling  around the   trees downstream. to me resembling Tim Horton’s Coffee Double Double  as he likes it. I pointed out the  slurpy river gushing down looking so inviting in the cold rain ! Imagine a  hot chocolate river cascading down. engulfing the Evergreen trees . Calgary is dotted with the X-mas trees. It  makes  the place look so  festive !For quite sometime we went on and on a straight flat road with a prairie like terrain until we turned a long bend of the road and there we were hit by the sight of mammoth mountains seemed like holding hands blocking our way . It looked like a cull-de sac in the far horizon. Even as we were admiring it the clouds rushed in and covered the Rockies with their white mantle . .With the rain and clouds in play the far away sentinels disappeared from our sight.

With the pattering raindrops playing the drums overhead ,keeping time with the running commentary of my brother extolling the scenic beauty of the area we were traversing on sunny days that he had experienced when he was there on previous occasions… I didn’t miss much. So we were  on the Ice field Parkway road in high spirits with the sole aim of enjoying the day -come rain or storm!

Believe me I experienced the most spectacular long drive . .Even as I write I cannot imagine travelling through a diverse  variety of landscapes . Effortlessly and smoothly we overtook many a tourists  cars and buses. Different makes of the cars made the road so colourful .Technology  exhibition in motion  does not give one  a monotonous /dull moment. Many caravan trailers  were on the road .He explained that it was like home on wheels , very exciting especially when travelling with the entire family…they also had different rest areas. Many cars had a trailer holding their boats and bikes, fishing poles.

We  reached  Banff Town area .The name Banff comes from Banffshire, Scotland ,birthplace of a major financer of the Canadian Pacific  Railways ,elevation 1,384 ft.

Banff is a quaint town surrounded by six mountain ranges of Rocky mountain. It seemed that we were in a sort of an arena.The elks and deers roaming around nibbling from the foliage are used to the tourists and don’t mind modeling their antlers . We parked our car very near one of them and saw those huge big innocent beautiful eyes . He gave a  nonchalant look to our admiring eyes and continued nibbling. We  happily took a few pictures. Every summer the elks grow their antlers and every autumn shed it, my brother informed me.   The drizzle slowly turned to a heavy one, we hurriedly took a few videos and ran into the McDonald s to grab a Coffee ,sipping the creamy liquid watching Banff go by ..ran back to our car   …started our onward journey captured the Sulphur springs , as a  background with both of us posing happily contended . Had a snack at  the Castle like five star hotel and off we  went to  the  Banff National Park . Driving through it he told me , that it was the animal’s habitat and we human’s were sort of trespassing … we spotted a little crowd  at the roadside faraway …. we slowed down  he told me that perhaps it was some animal and sure enough we were treated to a mother bear and baby bear duo  alongside the road in a little clearing  the crowd  a royal ignore busy eating something . They looked so very cute ! There was a hushed silence of awe .They had us totally bowled over it was an epic moment which every one of us were trying to capture on our videos or camera .The excitement  of the audience was spilling on the road and the cars were lining up …however the discipline of the crowd was amazing as the ones who had enjoyed the mother and child bliss drove off  making place for new arrivals of fellow tourists to witness the humane scene of the black grizzly bears!. two for joy indeed! For quite a few miles the bears dominated our conversation .We felt like the proverbial ‘licking the cream’ and something to crow about for a long time to come!

 To be continued…..


Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Today I had gone for the inauguration of Dudhmotisagar Dairy at Dharuhera.

It is a Gujrat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Limited venture . With a capacity of 30 lac litres per day ,AMUL(Anand Milk Union Limited) has dedicated

this India’s largest dairy to NCR(National Capital Region )i.e Delhi and surrounding

areas  such as Faridabad,Gurgoan,Gaziabad  NOIDA etc. Milk will be collected from the

NCR region and  supplied to the Plant .Here  it will be packaged into milk Pouches ,Buttermilk ,probiotic lassi,Yogurt and curd. The Chairman of the Gujrat Co-operative Mr. Vipul Choudhary emphasised that the milk that they will supply will be of good quality as always . He acknowledged the greatness of Dr. Kurien the Milkman of India.

Dr.Kurien a legend in his lifetime as well who started the co-operative movement that transformed the lives of poor farmers while making India self-reliant in milk production.

Mr.Bhupinder Singh Hooda the chief minister of Haryana the chief guest for the fuction

remarked that ‘desho nei desh hamara, jaha dudh dahi hamara khana’ The co-operative of Gujrat plus  the Milk from Haryana will help  increase the yield  manifold!Murrah is the pedigree cow from Haryana ,whose population should be increased.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing inaugurated the Dudhmotisagar Dairy India’s largest till date.
In attendance were the officials of the co-oprative,the workers of the plant ,milkmen of the area and journalists.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


I am sure you must have heard about atmosphere, biosphere, stratosphere and recently have you heard of Blogosphere?!…where a whole range of Blogs nestle together from all over ,from all sorts of people – Mortals who are famous who have made their mark and mortals who  are still at it i.e. desirous to make a mark  on the sands of time …write blogs and experience the extraordinary feeling of being writers!
Well what are Blogs ?
These are weblogs that are updated on a regular basis by their authors .They offer an opportunity to write anything under the sun . In the electronics media it has made its unique presence. One cannot just fathom the vast range of ideas that are available at the press of a few keys .There are many a philosophical contemplations that would confound and confuse Confucius ,had he been around! Some Blogs  by experts, focus on particular subjects  …we have Political blogs, health, medical, gardening, music both classical and popular blogs, Project blogs, Science and Technology blogs, Art and Craft blog Parenting blogs Credit blogs and what have you .Besides the private individuals, there are Company blogs and Newspapers have their own blogs. The emergence and growth of blogs in the late 1990’s coincided with the advent of web publishing tools that facilitated the posting of content by non-technical users.
Today Blogging has become a trendy thing to do …it’s a wave of the future. Whether it is a fad or proves to be a way of communication it deserves a serious look.
Thanks to the visionary who designed this  feature  where in one  could express one’s thoughts , matter of opinion without any hesitation ,without the fear of editing or censorship !Here at the outset let me make it clear … most of the Blog writers share their ideas without any inhibitions  as regards grammar ,syntax, punctuation  the writer just releases his ideas on the premise that the reader is a discerning one and will glen knowledge from the raw writing (raw as in raw data in statistics) so to speak. Just sounding a warning to the children and the readers in general who tend to take the printed word as Gospel never doubting the lay out of the text…Beware… for it is not an edited piece hence one has to edit it in one’s mind eye or even perhaps show it to the experts for their approval. And only then use the piece or rather it would be a good idea to take the general connotation of the piece and use it in their writings in turn. However some bloggers are par excellence and are meticulous. is one such Blog . One can find well researched and well-structured articles on credit giving a wealth of information, with no grammatical errors.  There must be so many others   I am sure.
It is a great site to gratify the writer, poet, the artist in a person . It is a panacea to overcome the dejection of a person’s articles being rejected by magazines and dailies of repute Here one can express oneself to one’s heart’s content. It is as if one is unleashing one’s mind in the written word for the worldwide audience .The canvas so huge.
Blogs have no cut out epic themes. Temptations, illusions home coming to home truths bare it all and be ready for some scathing criticism by the reader…and if the Blogger is the one for enjoying a friendly banter then do any of the following:
a)      take it in your stride
b)      give a suitable repartee
c)       rectify and
d)      support your view or just let it pass and move on.

Bloggers have published books based on their blogs, known as BLOOKS.In 2005 the Lulu Blooker Prize was instituted to give recognition to the best Blook.
It’s worthy for one’s self esteem to get a huge amount of targeted visitors on one’s blog.
A popular blog attracts advertisers. This is a sort of recognition of the blog ’s popularity.
To my mind eventually it will emerge as an intensely competitive industry especially for the bloggers who want to escape out of the nonentity status .
All the blogs together constitute a magazine of millions of pages that are available to the readers to enjoy. It is a wing of Globalisation so to speak .Globalisation implies linking of a nation’s market with the R.O.W. (Rest of the World). Extending the same logic to blogs
Blogalisation would mean integrating the ideas of individuals belonging to different continents, nations with diverse creed and culture .. to reach out and touch each other and be richer by it . Coupled with this is the immense satisfaction of interacting with the universe .The world is the oyster for the author of a successful blog.
Personally when I post my blog, I feel liberated (the statue of liberty kinds).Many thanks to my brother who instated me into this arena. I bragged that I write a lot of poems in the blank verse. He said write on the blog. Well I was stumped as all my poems reeked of self-pity,  negativity …in that line and I felt I had nothing to write .Today  I write on anything that catches my fancy. It could be a news item from a daily, or an excerpt from an old or new magazine or something from the novel that I am reading that triggers similar nostalgic thoughts or I write about a place I have visited or some great music that I have heard.
I also love the postage stamp sized ads that spring up alongside the post.  These little ads are like testimonials to acknowledge the sometimes painstakingly crafted pieces.
Wait a minute that’s not all there are some golden rules one must follow in order to be a good blogger.
1)      First and foremost No Procrastinating or else like me you will end up with numerous scraps cut out of the newspapers, magazines, excerpts photocopies from books, your own ideas scribbled on lose sheets. ..all sitting in overflowing files …all because of …..I’ll write tomorrow … Hence I reiterate no procrastination…just sit down and get on with it on your computer and finish it.
2)      Set  aside  some time weekly, bi weekly at least.
3)      Get into the minds of the readers especially when one is writing on technical subjects. Write on the basis of the questions that could crop up in the reader’s mind.
4)      Photos are great visual shorthand for comprehending any text. Get some relevant pictures they sure are worth a thousand words. An interesting blog is one that tells a story with words and pictures.
5)      Make it simple and short .Big posts get boring .This is an era of  fast food ,fast track, shortcuts, quicks and all …So be crisp ,clear and brief !
6)      Spread the word   : be an extrovert proclaim to your universe via Facebook, twitter etc. about your Blog.
7)      Last but not the least remember to run your piece through the spell check mode and also edit it for grammatical errors and there you are with a crown of fame waiting for you!
Man is a social animal .All that he wants to do is share his thoughts ,experiences, with fellow beings that’s what we are all about social animals talkative want to talk  and what better way to do than share it on the blog .
There are a number of free blogging sites, that you will find in which you can run a blog for free. There is a step by step and easy –to- follow guide that will help you set up your blog from the start …then click the ‘create a Blog’ link …pick an address a blog title ,then chose your favorite blog template and get started !
Well if you want to really experience the recently discovered appeal of reaching out through your writings ? ... join the band wagon  … there are around 56.6 million blogs worldwide! Blog! the newly besotted game governed by nothing but your soul-   imagination unplugged!

Sunday, 7 October 2012


With the apple picking season on …How was apple picking?

Here are some Apples…

…An Apple does not fall far from the tree…kids are like their parents.

…Apple of someone’s eye …dearly loved

…In Apple pie order…very well organised.

…An Apple a day keeps the doctor away…nutritious

…Apple polisher…a flatterer

…Apples and Oranges…two entities not similar.

…Sure as God made green Apples…absolutely certain.

…Motherhood and apple pie …quientessential elements of American home life.

…Millions saw the Apple fall,but Newton was the one to ask why?

…Apple of dicord…cause of quarrel.

…Adam’s Apple...

…Apples for Apples…comparison between similar/related things.

…How about them Apples/How do you like them Apples…used to express admiration

…(What do you think of that)

…Rotten Apple…a single bad person or thing.

…Big Apple…nickname for New York City.

…Upset the apple cart…to mess up/to ruin something .

…Up the apples and pears… up the stairs.


I came across this Apple in today’s Sunday Business Standard 7th Oct.2012.



50 years ago on Oct. 5 ,the Beatles released their first single ,’Love Me Do’,and then went on to become the best selling group in the history of music.

A year ago on the same day,Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away.


Since coming together in 1960 ,the fabulous four (John Lenon,singer ,songwrite and rhythm guitarist ;Paul McCartney.singer,songwriter and bass guitarist ;George Harrison,lead guitarist;Ringo Starr,Drums.)

As the money poured in ,in 1968 ,the British rockers formed a group to house their record label and a clutch of other creative ventures .They called it Apple Corps Ltd.With a green apple as the Logo.


A decade later ,on the other side of the Atlantic ,a certain Steve Jobs started another iconic group –Apple Computer ,and almost immediately ,invited a lawsuit from the original keepers of the ‘Apple’ brand alleging Trademark infringements.A metalic Apple  with a bite off was their logo.

From 1978 to 2007 ,the two Apples fought intermittently till finally reaching a settlement .Apple Inc.(formerly Apple Computer) now owns all of the trademarks related to “Apple”,but liscenses certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their use.


Thursday, 27 September 2012


A good handwriting is such a solace to the eyes.  It makes one gaze at it and admire it.

The owner of a good handwriting is often talked about in admiring terms !

I am a teacher and have gone through the writings of  thousands of students for  so many years now .It feels good when I come across answer scripts in good writing .The positive emotions that surge within me are so varied .I have  noticed that the persons who write beautifully are a disciplined lot. They like to do their work neatly .They are organized and have a sense of pride in all what they do, be it home or at work. They will have well settled cupboards, bags ,even their gardens are neatly tended. Their houses are neat They are fond of cleanliness. They like to see everything about them in proper order. Their  dress well and thus have a neat, pleasing appearance. They are hard working and plan out their time . They are meticulous and work in a clockwork precision

However ,a good handwriting does not necessarily mean an intelligent person.

Waxing eloquent the characteristics of a person with a good legible writing ,its in the fitness of things to talk about how to improve and become a good hand writer.

Anyone yes anyone can be the owner of a good hand writing if he/she follows the following simple rules:a)The one and only rule  is that  the spark of improvement should come from within…once you are armed with the realization half the battle is won!b) With the spark ignited ,the second important thing to do is write each  alphabet the cursive way one at a time .Formulate the letters as one has been taught  in the primary classes.c)When you take care of the alphabets the words will shape well.d)And if words look good the sentences will be aesthetically beautiful.e)Give yourself no reason what so ever to write untidily, or in a scribble ,a self discipline has to be imposed.f)Before you even realise you will be a great calligrapher to be reckoned with!

Thursday, 13 September 2012



PUNJAB…Punj means 5 ,aab means water ,..the land of five rivers Jhelum,Chenab,Ravi,Beas, Satluj  that are the tributaries of River Indus ..home to the great civilization …Indus Valley Civilization. Peopled with loud ,boisterous ,simple folks whose primary occupation is agriculture .Punjabis believe in working hard ,are foodies, they like drinks are friendly  hospitable and believe in celebrating every little event with dancing the ‘bhangra’ ‘gidha’by speaking out their mind in ‘tappas’…a sort of modern rap !The inhabitants are from all caste and creed    Hindus,Muslims,Sikhs,ChristainsParsis,KashmirisMarwaries,Gujraties,Bengalies,Biharis..who have been attracted to this place for different reasons. In Punjab if one sees devout worshippers and extremely religious people , it has notorious gamblers and smugglers too!

Punjab is seeped in history . It is a part of Indus Valley Civilization 4000 years old .The main site of the city of Harrapa.

Punjab has been to different people at different times …Greeks ,Central Asians ,Persians,

Arrival of Islam, Punjabi Muslims ,Mughals Afghans ,Marathas and sikhs .1947 was the heart rending Partition(Mr.Khushwant Singh has captured the anguish in his book’A Train To Pakistan’) and Punjab was split between West and East Punjab. Punjab in independent India comprised of what is now Himachal PradesDelhi,Haryana,Chandigarh. Today Punjab is miniscule in area as compared to its original spread. Today it has 22 districts .The capital is Chandigarh .

The following are the 22 districts…alphabetically

  1. Amritsar
  2. Barnala
  3. Batinda
  4. Faridkot
  5. Fatehgarh Saheb.
  6. Fazlika
  7. Firozpur.
  8. Gurdaspur
  9. Hoshiyarpur.
  10. Jullandhar.
  11. Kapurthalla.
  12. Ludhiyana.
  13. Mause
  14. Moga.
  15. Mohali
  16. Navan Shahar
  17. Pathankot.
  18. Patiala
  19. Rupanagar.
  20. Sangrur
  21. Muktsar Saheb
  22. Taran taran Saheb.

The major cities of are Amritsar,Bhatinda,Barnala,Chandigarh,Hoshiyarpur,Jallandhar,Ludhiyana,Patiala,Mohali.


The city  was founded by Guru Ramdasji the forth guru in 1599.It is a city with a hallowed personality .It has the historic Golden temple surrounded by a tank full of nectar (Amrit i.e. nectar sar i.e. a tank!)It is a place of pilgrimage Jallaian Wala bagh another must see site is a national memorial .The Durgiana Mandir is an ancient temple of Devi revered by all. Maharaja Ranjit Singh developed it as his summer capital .He built a Palace in the midst of Ram Bagh a beautifully laid out garden . Today the Punjab Government’s Archaeological dept. has set up a museum of the various relics of the Maharaja’s rule .Three posh clubs are now housed in the RamBagh.Wagah:Village on the  Indo-Pak border is 27 kms from Amritsar city .The Wagah border closing i.e lowering of the flags ceremony is a daily military practice that the security forces of India and Pakistan have jointly followed since 1959.  The whole place is full of spectators who throng to see the disciplined fanfare of the ceremony .

Temperance Hall …today is in a state of decay bears testimony to the great social reformer Babu Nanad Lal’s single minded devotion to espouse the unpopular cause of

Prohibition in the last century .

Guru Ram Daasji International Airport is about 11 kms north west of the city of Amritsar . Amritsar is the hub of tourism in Punjab  that is why the government has made a state of art facility .It is one of the largest airports in North India . The airport is connected to roads and main highways of Punjab .Government has initiated regular bus service between the airport and other cities of Punjab .Air India will provide a regular bus service for its air passengers to and from Jalandhar . A Monorail is being built to connect the airport with the Golden Temple and Railway station.

From Delhi there is an A.C train Shatabdi service everyday.


Is a city in the Jalandhar district in the state of Punjab. Today it is renowned for the production of sports equipment .It is also famous for surgical and tool industry . It claims to have the largest number of hospitals in Asia. It also has the biggest printing industry in India. It has many Malls . Famous tourist destinations are 1. Devi Talab situated in the heart of the city. …recently a model of Amarnath Yatra has been built in the premises.

2.Tulsi Mandir ..a temple with gupha with the image of Annapurna ,the’ Goddess of plenty’ installed in it. There is the Balmiki Gate .A Brahm Kund ,At Gur Mandi is a Shiv Mandir said to have been built by Navab of Sultanpur Lodhi near Masjid Imama Nasar

3.There is a historical Gurudwara Chhevin Padshahi of the sixth  Guru Guru Hargobindji.4. An old church St . Mary’s Cathedral Church dedicated to St. Patrick at Jalandhar Cant.5. Shahid e azam Sardar Bhagat singh museum ,invokes feelings of patriotism ,selflessness and spirit of nationalism ,there is also ascience city to interest the scientifically inclined .



It is a young city with a royal heritage and rich tradition. Maharaja Ala singh founded Patiala in 1764. It has magnificient forts ,palaces ,extensive gardens .

Following are the places of interest.1.Goddess Kali temple: Maharaja Bhupinder singh

built it with beautiful muriels on its walls and brought a 6 feet statue of the Goddess from Bengal  and installed it in the magnificent mandir which has been declared as a national monument.

Quila Mubarak …is a fort cum palace .It is surrounded by crenellated walls ,battlements and turrets .The quila showcases the beauty and imperial grandeur of its time.

2. Sheesh Mahal-or the palace of mirrors…is a part of Quila Mubarak ,The palace has been so named owing to its exquisite interior that is completely ornate with mirrors and glasses along with pretty floral motifs painted on the wall. It rightly flaunts the ostentatious grandeur of royal Maharajas of Patiala! Its greatest draw today is its excellent museum with a fine  collection of antiques which gives a fabulous insight into the life and times of  the Maharajas .The vast range  of artifacts on display run the gamut from costumes and jewelry  to potraits  ,chinese mirrors ,statues ,engravings ,utensils ,weapons etc


The facade has Rajasthan style jharokas and chhatris …the palace is set in a beautiful laid out garden with terraces and water channels . Today it houses the National Institute of Sports and Art Gallery.

4.LACCHMAN JHOOLA ..the suspended bridge… In front of the sheesh Mahal across the small lake .there is a magnificent suspension bridge called Lachhman Jhoola …a replica of the Lacchman jhoola at Rishikesh.It links the sheesh Mahal with Bansar Ghar ,which houses the North Zone Culture Centre and a  hall for setting up exhibitions.

Each  city has a fair number  of  tourist attractions  .All one has to do is come and visit the state .



The colourful fairs of Punjab attract many tourists who coincide their visit to the various places with the festivities of the place so that they can witness the vibrant culture of the state. My pick of some of the notable fairs:

1.At Batala, A big annual fair is held to commemorate  Guru Nanak Devji’s marriage  sometime in late August or early september.Gurudwara Dera Saheb and Kandh Saheb built on the spots where the marriage rites were performed attract pilgrims from all over,to partake in the auspicious day traditional celebrations.

2.Ludhiyana Jarap Mela …Martyrs Fair is held to acknowledge the contribution of great heroes of the Punjab state.

3.Babehali’s Chhinjh(Wrestling) Mela .Babehali is situated 4 Kms from Gurdaspur.A chhinj mela is held every year in the last week of August. Wrestlers from India and abroad  participate in the mela .Cultural programmes are also held.

3.Anandpur Saheb’s Holla mohalla is like a sikh olympic event. It follows  Holi the festival of colours .The tenth Guru Guru Gobind Singhji started the tradition of overseeing a day of Mock battles and poetry contests . The tradition has since spread to other Gurudwaras of India and abroad.

4. Chandigarh ‘s Rose Festival held in the beautiful state capital showcases a wide variety of roses annually .It is a two day festival with a plethora of other activities celebrated with a lot of fanfare .

5. Ahmedgarh :  Chhapar Mela:Is the most popular and spectacular festival of the Malwa belt of PunjabIt is held in the memory of Gugga pir. King of snakes is called Gugga It is held in the month of september. ..devotees offer prayers in order to be safe from snakes the year round!

 Time to  book your tickets, pack your bags  and enjoy the culture of the vibrant and dynamic state of India!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Neil Diamond's Concert in Toronto - June 26, 2012

Among the ABBA, Brotherhood of Man, Paul Anka, Beatles, Lobo, Simon and ’Garfunkel, Osmonds, Joan Baez, Carpenters nestled the record of Neil Diamond.

In the yesteryears gone by, my brother all of 15 years and his best friend made a 100 Watt HiFi  Stereo amplifier with HiFi Speakers at home in his roomful of gadgets, wires, soldering irons, multimeters, books on electronics, circuits and what have you …with a neat  ‘No Entry’  sign for us complete with their company  Logo S.C.O.I!!!! It was at a time when only a proud few owned a HiFi  Stereo. Getting all the ingredients/parts too was a huge challenge in the small Indian town that we lived in.   

The boys were encouraged and funded by my young maternal uncle who had just got his first management assignment in Calcutta at the Bank of America after   completing his M.B.A from the prestigious IIM Calcutta.

Our house filled with blaring music when their Stereo came into being. We admired it as though it was a new invention!  For the first time I heard such great singers in such high clarity and it seemed like one perpetual music show with a medley of  artists….and Neil Diamond’s base voice made such an impact. Although I couldn’t catch most of the lyrics it was still fun listening and singing along with my somewhat made-up fill-in lyrics. We kind of knew the songs of his entire album.

Proud of his son’s achievements at the time, my father, though not fond of English music, proudly explained in minute detail of how the said stereo project was started and completed to his friends who came by visiting….and was happy when he was given appreciative predictions  as …sure the kids would one day be great scientists …and I in my admiration saw the Nobel prize in his hands…it was a good fantasy at the time!

This summer when I was in Toronto, imagine my disbelief when my brother said that our uncle had decided to take us to a concert of Neil Diamond. Memories of my childhood days came cascading in and I Wow’ed and Yippi’ed…!!!!!!!!!!!!

The concert was at the Air Canada Centre in Downtown Toronto .We parked our car and walked along with a stream of people all heading towards the venue. We entered from Gate number 3 . We were in row no 8 and were seated there well in time to watch the crowd settle in ….their excitement matching ours .Right in front down below was the stage set with special light effects for Neil Diamond. Many fans had donned  T-shirts printed ‘I am a Believer…’one was sitting in the row right in front of us. Some were holding photographs of the young Neil Diamond in black and white. Meanwhile two huge flat Screen monitors kept us entertained with instant tweets of fans from within the venue and outside.

Suddenly the lights dimmed and there was a kind of hush just for a second as the psychedelic lights came up on stage and amidst  waves of  human voices  and thunderous clapping the band struck up the notes of Soolaimon (African Trilogy II) and sure enough the 71 year old …sorry young, Neil diamond entered the stage theatrically singing Soolaimon looking smart, cool and collected.
We all joined in with gusto. The song, what I dub the ‘Song of the day’, was ‘Sweet Caroline’. When Neil Diamond sang it, the crowd went berserk. He did an encore, the crowd sang along and Mr. Diamond was completely floored. He was speechless with the adulation he bowed to us all and he asked the orchestra to once again play the tune of Sweet Caroline and  asked the audience to sing as he stood there listening to the mass of people sing his song perfectly. It was the greatest moment of the concert and a total ‘high’ for the crowd! All the people in the stadium were standing in front of their seats and singing in unison in symphony in perfect discipline. I captured my brother swaying and singing with the audience immersed in the moment a smile lighting his handsome features.

A song, now for the movie Shrek, ‘I am a believer” was also a great hit with the audience. A lone young girl dancing to ‘You Got to Me’ and singing enthusiastically near the stage caught Neil’s attention; he rewarded her enthusiasm with a hug and a kiss! It went well with us we all cheered! The act and the moment were beautiful and enchanting like a scene from a Disney classic.

He especially had a soft corner for the audience seated on the extreme left side and right side of the stage (the not so pricy seats) whom he enthralled by walking every now and then to the two extremity of the stage as if to sing only to them. I realized that apart from mere singing even working the stage is an artful component of a great performance.

The song ‘America’, he dedicated to his grandma who he said has inspired everything he’s ever done.  Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show was the last number. It seemed so abrupt when it all ended because we were in the flow of music, words and deep voice and just didn’t realise how the hours slipped by listening to Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits. I was hoping that he’d end the concert with ‘Song Sung Blue’!  

Even at 71 the man is young with charisma.. charming us.. belting out one song after another with passion and precision accompanied by his fantastic orchestra. His stamina amazing, in all humility he acknowledged the love of Torontonians that powered his rendition of numbers with vigour and emotion! Neil Diamond ..he rocked the house!
What an awesome singer indeed!

Just can’t help thanking my uncle and aunt in Toronto for the great musical soiree!


Thursday, 26 April 2012

First Global Road Safety Week (23rd-29th April 2007)I.R.T.E

In remembrance of the first Global Road Safety week (23rd-29th April 2007) who better person to write about –yes the man with  a mission  to see   roads  safe from  any mishap  Rohit Baluja .He is a member of U.N.Road Safety Collaboration and represents India at the commission for Global Road Safety .

As president of I.R.T.E ( Institute of Road Traffic Education) his brain child, he is the observer member party one of UN Economic Commission for Europe. The I.R.T.E has been granted Rooster Consultative Status by the UNESCO.

Dr .Rohit Baluja a  businessman of repute wanted to give back to the society in his own unique way. He took up an issue close to his heart that of Road accidents the largest killers of Indians .A split second miscalculation  perhaps because the driver has earphones plugged in his ears ,or simply music  blaring in the vehicle ,or driving after a drink or so with dulled senses or talking on the mobile phone ….in anger or happiness with the person on the other end or for that matter just tired and just  a  nano second of dozing or riding a two wheeler without a helmet …Karboom…. an accident just happens no excuse what so ever  can change the aftermath of an accident .Life changes forever for the victim and his family !   A traumatic life unfolds with the family painfully  grappling with the   unsettling situation . If the victim lives then  life begins in the backdrop of when the being was  fit and fine  and now broken and distraught. To rub it in so to speak he has the Trauma Centre of AIIMS (All India Institute Of Medical Science)Doctor who I remember had    given a hair rising account of the accident victims. Believe me its like a jolt to the insensitive  audience telling them in no uncertain terms that if the road rules are broken there is absolutely no pardon .The punishment is severe and unimaginable. No matter what… do not break road rules …that is the   message  loud and clear!

His mother a medical Doctor by profession gets misty eyed when she proudly talks of him happy in the thought that he is ‘always thinking about doing good  ’This goes by way of the  hand that rocks the cradle rules the world !In him she has a soft spoken, sensitive humble son who has set out to bring down the accident rate of the country. No he is not alone in his mission . His  lovely wife stands with him and is a rock solid support to his venture. His beautiful comely  daughters  are Papa’s pillars!!!!! Armed with support from family and well-wishers, he set out to help the city  deal with /prevent road accidents . He went on to establish a pioneering institute (I.R.T.E.)  a non profit 1991  in New Delhi. Heart and soul he devoted himself to spreading awareness among DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation)Drivers ,Traffic policemen, School children etc .Everything to develop ‘Road culture’ in the seventh largest country in the world with a burgeoning population .

To spread awareness amongst children the future of our country ,a series of workshops were organized in the schools . The results were encouraging . It  made children sit up and think .Their fertile minds came up with unique slogans ,posters , paintings drawings , depicting everything  concerning road safety  .Also brilliant declamations ,debates ,role plays  about Traffic ,roads ,accidents ,parking pedestrian crossing ,fines for offenders, getting licenses by dubious means  and the normative aspect i.e. what ought to be an ideal situation etc  were organized in the schools. The students were  quizzed on the Traffic signs and were  tutored  to be righteous and point out anyone breaking Traffic rules – be it their very own family members. e.g. if they zipped passed a red light …

There’s another feather in his cap that of establishing a college of Traffic Management in NCR Delhi.It is the only single umbrella facility for research and training in all areas of Traffic Management!

In  collaboration with Maruti Udyog he designed the interceptor to capture video based moving violation of the Traffic. His effort was appreciated and recognized by the government of India at the national Republic Day parade (1996) where one views the menacing looking tanks and missiles etc being showcased was his puny little Interceptor rolling  Raj Path India Gate and my heart swelled with pride !Yes even I am a founder member of his vision …though I have yet to make a meaningful contribution !

Monday, 16 April 2012

Titanic Nostalgia

April 15, 2012 marks 100 years of sinking the world’s famous ship.
The world is gearing up to observe the day with:
1.       memorial cruises
2.       special merchandise
3.       books
4.       meals and music.

Of course all this helps to fuel a globally profitable business.
Delhi has also geared up to pay homage to the crew and passengers  as follows
serving the last 10 course meal that was on the Titanic First Class menu.,at Out of the Box restaurant in Khan Market .
or by paying tribute to luxury that was Titan’s integral part. The interiors of CafĂ© Cruise in Rajouri Garden have been made to resemble that of the luxury liner. The waiters stewards will be dressed according to the times.
Pirates of Grill another eatery will pay homage to the selfless members of the Band who chose to play amidst the chaos to calm and soothe the nerves of the terrified hapless humans .They will have a live Band play numbers of the 1900’s played aboard the Ship.  And so on…(I on my part find the very  thought of eating in the back drop of  a Titanic’s menu or Band or interior turns my tummy !The scary images of the helpless hopeless, terrified masses in the movie is vividly etched in my mind   )

It is indeed a story that refuses to sink .The mystery, fascination of the great tragedy hasn’t waned.
James Cameron has resurrected the movie Titanic in 3D.
Canada Post unveiled stamps last month to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the disaster.
A Titanic  Cruise with the same number of passengers abroad is setting sail to retrace the ship’s voyage including a visit to the location where it sank .The organisers of M.S. Balmoral Titanic Memorial cruise  are trying to recreate the onboard experience (minus the disaster),from the food to a band playing music from that era .

A former U.S. Navy officer Bob Ballard also a professor of oceanography discovered the remains of the iconic ship in 1985.He as a part of tie-up is presenting a documentary called”Save  the Titanic “on the 100th anniversary of it’s disaster. He refers to it as “irony  personified in history” He explains the phrase …’you have this revolutionary ship that is unsinkable carrying a cross section of people  in society .And then it goes and hits an ice berg and sinks on its maiden journey that’s why it is irony personified in history .

Talking about his discovery which came after considerable research he says it was a sombre moment when he and his team first spotted the boiler of the Titanic .Ballard feels that the Titanic is a common heritage of all of us .Steps should be taken to preserve human history in the ocean.

Even while I was writing this from the dailies Hindustan Times ,Times of India …the Discovery channel saw two great documentaries Titan –the Aftermath ,and Titanic-the inside story .