24 May 2009

Computer Health Tips

Do you spent several hours a day before your computer? This could prove to be a serious health hazard. Here are some tips to ward off disaster:-

  • Use a comfortable chair with back rest. Your spine should remain in a more or less straight position while you are sitting. This will help you avid getting a back ache and other painful ailments like spondilitis.
  • Move your legs frequently and squiggle your toes to maintain good blood circulation in your limbs. This will help you to avoid blood clots in the main blood vessels of your legs which could then travel to your heart with near fatal results.
  • There should be at least two feet distance between your eyes and the computer screen.
  • After every twenty minutes or so, stare away from your computer screen and focus your eyes on distant objects. This will give your eye muscles a chance to relax.
  • After every forty minutes or so, get up and exercise your legs for a few minutes.
  • To avoid wearing away of your wrists by continuous handling of the mouse and the keyboard, use ergonomically designed keyboards and mice. Also, if you do most of your work in English, good voice recognition software are available like Dragon Naturally Speaking, that can give 99% accuracy. They also allow you to operate your computer and do data entry by voice, thus obviating the need for the keyboard or the mouse altogether. Voice recognition software will also considerably speed up your input rate as speaking is up to 10 times faster than typing. Unfortunately voice recognition software is not available for Hindi and other Indian languages.

Add more tips in your replies.

16 May 2009

Bengali Humour

I received this as junk mail. I couldn't resist the temptation to post it here. My full apologies to Bengali friends, no ill-will is intended, just fun.


What do you call:

A mad Bengali?
In Sen.

A dark Bengali who lives in a cave?
Kalidas Guha.

A Bengali mobster?
Rob in Ganguli.

A perfumed Bengali?
Chandan Das.

A Bengali goldsmith?
Shonar Bongla.

A talkative Bengali?
Bulbul Chatterjee.

An outlawed Bengali?
Bonduk Bannerjee.

An enlightened Bengali?
Jyoti Basu.

A stupid Bengali girl?
Balika Buddhu.

A Bengali marriage?

A burping Bengali?


What's bigger than the state of Bengal?
The Bay of Bengal.


What do you call a Bengali who takes bribe?
Mr. Ghoosh.


How does the Bong learn the alphabet?
A for Orange, B for Begetable....


How does a Bong relax in the evening?
He goes to the Howrah Brij to get some Breej.


What does a Bong with a broken heart say?
My hurt is hearting.


What do you call a Bengali who works?
A work of fiction.


05 May 2009

A nation surrounded by chaos

India is fast becoming a nation surrounded by chaos.

Down south we have Sri Lanka, that is fighting a mortal battle with the separtist organisation LTTE. It looks like that the battle will soon be won by the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE will be eliminated once and for all, but the trouble in Sri Lanka will begin soon after. Freshly annointed with the glory of victory, Sinhali chauvanism will receive an immense boost and if they go back to the bad old days of discriminating against the Tamil, then every thing will start over again and in twenty years time will have another LTTE like organization rising like a phoenix in Sri Lanka.

On our western border, civil war has already broken out between the Taliban and the Pakistani army. Civilian refugees are crowding in make-shift camps. There is no end to the atrocities happening in that god forsaken country -- flogging of girls, beheading policemen, slaying of singers by their own brothers, the list seems endless. Pakistan seems to have taken a ride on a time machine to medieval times.

Bangladesh recently experienced an army revolt with disgruntled soldiers killing their own army officers. The ISI has spread into the social fabric of this country and China too is playing clandestine games there. The steady exodus of Bangladeshis into India is a perennial sore for us, that can have serious political repurcussion.

The last to be added to the list is Nepal. One had thought that with monarchy abolished and Maoists have laid down their guns to take on the reins of the government, this abjectly poor country is well on the road to stability and development. But no, the Maoists have proved that they are not as good at running a coalition government as they are in waging guerrilla war against the state.

With Nepalase Prime Minister Prachanda having resigned in a huff over a difference of opinion with the Nepalese President, the country has been plunged into anarchy again. It looks highly unlikely that sans the Maoists, the other 20 political parties will be able to cobble together a lasting coalition government.

More seriously, with the Maos out of the government, the whole process of developing a new Constitution for the country may be jeopardised.

And if the Maoists decide to pick up their guns again, we will be in for a prolonged spell of blood shed. If the Maoists in Nepal connect up their brethern in Bihar and Jharkhand, we will have one big trouble in our hands.

There is also a danger of the Maoisting falling into the arms of our Chinese friends and that too would be a disaster for Indian diplomacy in Nepal.

And as for India, we have just about managed to escape the unenvious fate of our neighbours. The Mumbai invasion nearly broke our back.

But our acid test will be what happens on May 16. Will we get a stable government in Delhi that would last a full term of five years or will there be prolonged instability and horse-trading instead?

Only a crystal gazer can give a definite answer to that.

04 May 2009

Tiger! Tiger! Burning Out!

There is alarming news from Panna Tiger Reserve. It too has gone the Sariska way. A central team sent there to verify the report of tiger extinction has come back and reported that the worst fears were true. There are no tigers in Panna.

Inexorably this magnificent animal is inching towards extinction. The thousands of crores of rupees spent in the name of Project Tiger have been to little avail.

It will be a shame if we were to lose this symbol of our wilderness. Our jungles would never be the same if they did not reverberate to the roars of the tiger. Only those who have seen the tiger in the wild can appreciate what a loss it would be to lose the tiger from our jungles.

I have been one of the few and luckier people in the world who have actually seen the tiger in the wild several times. My first glimpse of this lord of the jungle (actually it was a lady of the jungle, for it was a tigress) was in Bandhavgarh and under thrilling circumstances.

At that time we were developing an interpretation centre for the tiger reserve. I was part of the project team as a writer. We were camped in Bandhavgarh to reconnoiter the place and to develop ideas for the interpretation exhibits. One idea that had come up was to develop an exhibit on how the jungle looks at night. Since visitors were not allowed into the reserve after dark, we thought this would be an interesting exhibit for them.

So a colleague and myself were travelling inside the reserve after sunset in a Forest Department jeep, which was a converted Maruti Gypsy. My friend was in the front seat, and I was in the back along with a forest guard who was armed only with a lathi. It was was an open jeep.

For quite sometime we roamed the dusty roads noting down our observations, but what we were keen on was to see a tiger. Suddenly we saw clear pug impressions on the dust by the side of the road. They were fresh.

The driver was an experienced naturalist who it seemed could read the mind of the tiger. He unerringly took us to the place where the owner of the pug marks was hiding. Actually it belonged to a tigress named Lakshmi, who had been ambling along the very road we were travelling. But hearing the noise of the jeep she had side stepped into the bush to let us pass.

But we were not keen on passing along, but on getting a glimpse of her. So we stopped at the place where the pug marks had ended, switched off the engine and the headlights and waited with bated breath for her majesty to make an appearance.

Quite a while went by and the tigress exasperated that we were not going away, finally decided to resume her evening walk. The moment she emerged from the bush, we were all excitement. What a grand spectacle it was. It was half-moonlit, the jungle was silent, except for the chirping of nightly birds. And there before us on the road was the tigress, just a few feet ahead of us.

That was when my friend decided to shine his torch on the tigress to get a better glimpse of her. The reaction was immediate. The instant the torch beam hit her eyes the tigress charged our jeep -- tail held high, blood-curdling growls emanating from her throat, and her dagger-like canines glinting in the moonlight. We could see only part of her body as the rest was hidden in the undergrowth. But the violent agitation of the bushes as she brushed them aside to get at us clearly indicated her trajectory.

At that moment I was standing on the back of the jeep craning my neck forward to catch very pixel of the scene that was unfolding before me. I confess that I did not even realize the danger I was in. I never even gave a thought to it.

But the driver was keenly aware of the danger. Just when the tiger had almost reached the jeep,he switched on the engine and the sound of the engine and the flashing of the headlight, unnerved the tigress who gallopped ahead and disappeared into the bushes on the other side of the road.

It was thrilling experience. For several minutes we sat there in the jeep taking in the exhilaration silently. I asked the driver whether the tigress would have pressed her charge? He replied that it is difficult to say for these animals are completely unpredictable, but in all probability, it was a mock charge, and she would have stopped just before the jeep, demonstrated a bit and then went off on her way. This tigress was known to be very aggressive and she usually charged jeeps that came too close to her.

I have seen tigers in Bandhavgarh on several occasions after this first sighting. But my best sightings have been in Kanha. We were in Kanha for the same purpose, developing an interpretation centre there. The first time I saw tigers there was late in the evening. The visitors leave the park at sunset and the park becomes peaceful after that. Tigers mostly venture out then. So we parked our vehicle at a strategic place and waited.

Not before long a tiger emerged and what a spectacle it was. He came out roaring at every step and marking his territory by lifting his tail and spraying the bushes with his urine. He then walked up to a pool before us where he lapped up water thirstily and then crossed the road right before us to disappear into the jungles. There was still enough light to see every movement he made.

My most exhilarating encounter with a wild tiger happened in this trip to Kanha. In it the tiger and I came in contact with each other at a very deep level. This is how it happened.

The bamboo forests of Kanha which flower and die once every 40 years had flowered a couple of years ago and they were all dead in great clumps. A few days earlier there had been a thunder storm and many of these dead clumps had been blown down and lay strewn on the road before us. At one place there were so many of them that our jeep could not move forward. We had no alternative but to get down and move the bamboo stems to the side of the road. We finished that and I threw the last piece of bamboo to the side of the road. We then got into the jeep and would have moved just a few metres ahead when we noticed a movement to the right of the road. We at first thought it was sambar deer, but no it was a tiger. A large male, whose lower body was coated with black mud. He had probably been sitting in a mud pool to cool off.

We immediately stopped the jeep. The tiger then came on to the road and started walking along the way we had come. We slowly started the jeep and began following him in reverse gear.

When the tiger came to the place where we had moved the bamboo he started investigating a bit. As soon as his nose reached the bamboo I had handled, he suddenly became very interested and started sniffing it in great detail. I wonder what thoughts came into his mind when he recognized my body smell there!

This little incident is in contradiction with what Jim Corbett has said of the tiger. He has written that tigers have no or little sense of smell. But the tiger before us on that day was clearly sniffing with great interest the bamboo I had touched.

I have seen wild tigers on several occasions from elephant back, but the thrill is not the same as when you see them at ground-level from your vehicle.

It is a pity that our coming generations in all likelihood would be deprived of the excitement of seeing a wild tiger. I also wonder whether they would forgive us for cheating them out of this priceless pleasure. I am not sure that they would.

03 May 2009

My hair-raising encounter with stray dogs in Delhi

The stray dogs in Indian cities are very aggressive. They think they own the cities where they live, especially at night.

Many citizens hesitate to venture out at night for fear of the strays. I myself have experienced this in Delhi which has perhaps as many strays as there are Delhities. We were returning home after visiting the Taj in Agra and it was near midnight. The city was aspleep. The bus dropped us near our home and there was just a short walk. We had with us a couple of small children. Suddenly the strays surrounded us menacingly, several of them, huge shaggy beasts with glistening teeth. We were terrified. Luckly, our shouts of fear aroused a watchman of a society who came to our aid with his lathi. If he hadn't turned up at the right moment, I shudder to think about what would have happened to us on that night.

I remember another incident of my childhood days. A cow had given birth on the streets in Lucknow, but even before the calf had emerged properly, it had been bitten to death by a gang of strays.

In Ahmedabad where I live now, we have similar stray problem. When it turns dark, the strays take over the roads and chase any two-wheeler that passes them. This has often lead to accidents in which people have been grievously injured.

In the society in which we live, a bitch has taken residence and has given birth to a litter of puppies. They look cute when they are young, but as they grow bigger, they become aggressive and bite children, who can then die of rabies.

More pitiably, the puppies are so dumb that they get easily get run over by the cars in the society when they are shunted for parking. And it can be traumatic for small children to witness such violent death right in their societies.

So there is no wisdom in feeding strays or encouraging them. The city is not the place for animals. It is for human beings, primarily.

True city people can get nostalgic about animals. They should visit wilderness areas or zoos to get over their nostalgia. It is neither kindness nor pragmatism to encourage stray animals in cities, whether they be dogs, cats, cows, pigs or any other domestic animals. Unfortunately Indian cities are overrun with all these and more.

It has a lot to do with notions of misplaced kindness that some people have for animals. There is a lady in Ahmedabad who thinks it is kind to feed stray dogs. Her house always has half a dozen of these beasts hanging around in the hope of getting free morsels. In the end her exasperated neighbours gathered together one night with strong sticks and beat all the dogs they could lay their hands on to death. But they couldn't finish the task for the lady got up on hearing the howls of the canines and kicked up a fuss and even brought the police in.

In yet another incident a group of youngsters were chased by dogs while they were riding by on motor-cycles. They back in a car and ran over the dogs again and again till their bodies were reduced to a bloody pulp. They were later arrested for cruelty to animals.

Some people advocate that the dogs in the cities should be neutered. But in cash-strapped societies like India this is hardly a solution. Neutering a dog costs about a thousand rupees.

I have a friend who is an animal expert. He tells me that neutering strays is hardly an effective strategy. There are so many dogs to be neutered and there are so few resources, and if you don't neuter them all, the entire program fails, because non-neutered dogs quickly replace the neutered ones and soon begin to breed again.

The best way to control strays is proper garbage management. The dogs subsist on garbage. If the garbage is properly disposed, they won't have anything to eat and there would be no dogs either. But Indian cities have a long way to go before they can manage their garbage properly.

Or should we promote export of dog meat to countries like China, Taiwan and Thailand? It could kill two birds with one stone -- it could earn us foreign exchange and also solve our stray dog problem!

Aqua Data Studio now available in Hindi

Hindi is increasingly becoming an international language. Proof of this is the large number of foreign companies who are bringing forth their websites, products and software in Hindi.

The latest in this series is Aquafold, a California-based software company that has produced the popular database interface, Aqua Data Studio. This software allows database designers and administrators to access various databases, such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Sybase, etc., through a single interface, thus greatly increasing their productivity.

Now a major upgrade of this software, Version 7.5, has been localized into Hindi, along with 20 other languages, including Danish, Polish, Swedish and Greek.

For a full press release visit this link:


02 May 2009

My China Visit

My brother-in-law is with Tata Consultancy Services and was till recently posted in Shanghai. He had been telling us for a long time to visit him there. He was living alone there in a large flat which he had taken on rent. He had all the facilities to host several guests.

So when our elder daughter completed her tenth exam last year and had two months of vacation on her hands, we took our sala at his word and accompanied his family to Shanghai.

It was a memorable trip. I will have a lot to write about this trip in this blog, beginning with this small post about first impressions about China.

This visit was a few months before the Beijing Olympics was to start and luckily for us, a few days before the devastating earthquake that hit China.

We visited Shanghai and Beijing only. Beijing was added to our itinery because we would have become laughing stock in India if we had returned without seeing the Great Wall of China, a portion of which comes very near Beijing. Also there were excellent train connections between these two cities. The trains were similar to our Rajdhani express, but with much more plush interiors and infinitely less crowd. Probably the Chinese don't travel much internally, or are not allowed to do so.

These two cities of China are light years ahead of our Mumbais and Delhis.

However, I don't know what the situation is in the inner regions of China. From what we could see through the train window of the interiors of China, we didn't notice the kind of abject poverty that one can see during a similar train journey in India, say between Delhi and Mumbai.

We were in China with a troupe of our children (three families, six kids, ranging in age from 3 years to 15 years) and everywhere the Chinese would look at the children with amazement. Some even got themselves photographed with them! The one-child norm that has been stringently enforced in China has evidently left deep psychological scars in many Chinese.

The Chinese have invested a lot in their people and their life expectancy, child mortality rate, literacy rate, etc., are way ahead of us.

We have a lot to learn from the Chinese even though they have been mostly hostile to us since our Independence and have cultivated the friendship of our neighbouring nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal and have instigated them to cause trouble for us.

Language is a great problem in China as no one speaks English. So is food, especially for strict vegetarians like us. We had to carry home-prepared food everywhere we went, which was a great dampener.

Luckily in Shanghai we could locate a Punjabi family who supplied rotis and sabjis to Indian families. We availed of this service on several occasions.

In Beijing we also found an Indian hotel run by a Sardarjee which had first rate Punjabi food. For several days we had been subsisting on bread, milk and fruits and we set upon the fare that he produced like persons starving for several days, which we were.

Let's play with kangaroo words

Kangaroo words are words that contain other smaller words within them that have the same meaning, just like a kangaroo carrying its baby in its pouch.

An example is chicken. If you write it as cHickEN, and put together the words in caps you get HEN which means chicken. Get the drift?

Here is an article that has more details:


So are you ready? Here we go. Spot the joey in these marsupials:

1. Recline

2. Rotund

3. Indolent

4. Precipitation

5. Observe

हिन्दी ब्लॉग टिप्सः तीन कॉलम वाली टेम्पलेट