Friday, January 13, 2017

Politics - Too Big A Topic For A Mere Blog Post


Dear Shackman,

Fellow LBC blogger and conspirator,I don't know you personally, but believe me, if we ever manage to meet in person, I shall have issues to discuss. Why? Well, what in Heaven's name inspired you to give us a topic like politics for a group blogging post? Of all the subjects there is? Well, I'll tell you this much, as they say back in dear old Ireland, it would take more than a blog post to cover this topic! A whole series of blog posts wouldn't cover the likes of a topic such as this.

Politics - US elections

Coming, as you do, dear Shackman, from the United States of America, it's not difficult (in a way!) to understand why exactly you went and picked a topic like this one. Oh, yes! While the whole world looked on, aghast, in recent times, the USA went and democratically voted for a president who, apparently, nobody wants. Now that's a good one, as they might say back home in the Emerald Isle. A very good one indeed! Oh, yes! Well, I suppose you couldn't expect anything less, from a country with really prides itself on being the cradle of democracy. Well, one of the cradles, if not THE cradle.

What should I write in a blog post about politics? The art and the science of governance? Or the art and science of getting oneself elected to govern? Or if not govern, to sit in on and even contribute to debates about the various laws which are about to be passed? Political ideologies? The electoral process? The left? The right? The centre? I wouldn't know where to start!

Politics - my take on it

People,in general, I've found, say horrible things about politicians. There's the judgmental comment about politics being the world's second oldest profession, not too different from the world's oldest profession and we all know what that is. This remark is usually accompanied by derisory sniggers. But let a successful politician appear and you'll see people fawning all over him.

I remember, many years ago, reading an interview in an Indian magazine (can't remember which one), with Selja Kumari, an Indian politician who was had just begun her career. I can't quote, but I remember her saying that when you're nominated to run for elections, everyone loves you and wants to know you. But followers ready to bask in your reflected glory will drop you like a hot potato if you lose. Interesting....

Politics tends to attract people because of the promise of power. But when a politician falls, it can be painful indeed. I read somewhere on the Internet that Mrs. Hillary Clinton had some kind of breakdown after she lost the US elections. If that's true, it's not difficult to understand why.

My brush with politics - albeit brief

Many years ago, in Dublin, when I was but a young, innocent girl, I was sleeping my brains out at home one Saturday morning, having danced the previous night away in one of Dublin's nightclubs (and imbibed several drinks). Considerably hung over, I didn't know that my mother had gone for her Saturday shopping. My sisters were out of the house and I was alone, holding the fort and I didn't even know it. Irritated by a persistent knocking on the hall door, I rose from the bed, pulled on a particularly horrible-looking dressing gown (because no-one's going to see it, right? Wrong!) and answered the door, muttering a few curses under my breath as I did so. I was never in the best of form after a night out on the town.

I was greeted on the doorstep by an enthusiastic young worker for the Irish ruling party at the time. He informed me that the new candidate for the local seat of TD (we call MPs TDs in Ireland, did I mention that?) was on a walkabout, ready to meet his future constituents. Panic gripped me. "I....I...can't meet him.." I stammered, all bashful and coy. "Sure, I'm only in me nightdress......"

The party worker stepped aside to reveal The Politican, in all his glory. Handsome, suited, debonair and reeking of a particularly tasteful and expensive brand of aftershave, he resembled the stereotype Mills & Boon hero. Yes, it was Ivor Callely himself (he was subsequently elected and served as a politician for many years. Bear in mind, this was Ireland, around thirty years ago).

Was I speechless? Yes, I was. The Politician took my hand in a firm grip, looked deep into my eyes and uttered some immortal words which have stayed with me forever. What were those words?

"If every woman came to the door to meet me in a nightdress, I'd be a happy man." Yes, those were his very words. Then he was gone, never to return. The scent of his aftershave lingered in the air, leaving this young, impressionable girl all of a flutter, charmed by the unexpected and ever-so-brief encounter.

Ivor Callely's career may have had its ups and downs since that fateful morning.However, for me, that moment is forever etched in my consciousness. Even here, today, in Lucknow, India, thirty years later, the memory still lingers.

Conclusion to blogging group post on politics

You know, Shackman, Uttar Pradesh, the state in which I live in India, is having its state-level elections soon. Sadly, I'm unable to vote. As an overseas citizen of India, I cannot do so and as a non-resident Irish citizen, I can't vote there either. But I shall enjoy watching television reports and reading the newspaper articles about the various electoral shenanigans, which, in Uttar Pradesh, are far more entertaining than any soap opera. 

Shackman, I particularly look forward to reading Hindustan Times journalist Sunita Aron's analyses of all things electoral. A superb writer who knows the political terrain of UP inside and out, she's more than qualified to write a blog post on politics. She's written several books on the subject, actually.

So, dear Shackman, it appears that I've been able to come up with something to write about your topic after all, even if it's not exactly an in-depth analysis. 'Something' is the main word here. And that, of course, is better than nothing. I don't think the search engines will get too excited about this post, but at least I've got my group post ready. And as we say in Dublin, 'that's something'.


I have recently resumed blogging with the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a group of bloggers who post on the same topic/prompt every Friday. I'm an old member of this friendly group and delighted to be back. The current blogging members of this group are: RamanaChuck and Pravin. Thanks to Shackman for the topic/prompt 'politics'.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com





Friday, January 6, 2017

Use Your Imagination!

If there's one thing for which I remember some of my teachers at school in Ireland, it's their sarcasm. The type which brands itself on the mind of an unfortunate youngster, who may, in certain cases, never recover from the shame and embarrassment. One may be branded for life as a result and I'm NOT joking. If any of my readers is interested in studying further on this topic, I suggest checking out the following link to a video entitled 'D'Teacher' ('The Teacher') by the satiric comedy outfit 'D'Unbelievables'. This explores the Irish teacher in further detail. But be warned. The thick Irish accent may be difficult foreign ears to understand. However, if you persist and listen a couple of times, all will become clear.

"Maria Perry! Will you kindly repeat what I just said?" is a sentence which intruded on my daydreams many a time, as I gazed out the window during classes at school (Usually maths classes, if I'm truthful. Or any kind of science, be it biology, chemistry or physics). Subjects which didn't interest me left my mind wandering. Then my imagination would take over. "Ah, she's away with the fairies! Or maybe gone off down the road with those people she was watching from the window." As the sarcasm persisted, I would literally burn with shame. My schooling didn't consist of traumatic beatings and brutality, but there was a high degree of shame and embarrassment at times, along with the related trauma. Having said that, I was blessed with some excellent science and maths teachers. Thank heavens not all teachers were like that.

Ironically enough, when it came to the English or Irish language classes and essays figured in the homework, there was a regular piece of advice. 'Use your imagination'. I suppose if there was one thing I learned in school, it was that everything is good when the time is good. In other words, imagination, in the right context, is an excellent thing. Bad when you have to be practical and good when you need to be impractical. Like writing stories and articles for example. Except in writing, you have to be practical when it comes to getting facts right, especially for articles and of course for making stories credible. 

Imagination plus practicality is an awesome combination, particularly when used in an appropriate manner.

I have recently resumed blogging with the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a group of bloggers who post on the same topic/prompt every Friday. I'm an old member of this friendly group and delighted to be back. The current blogging members of this group are: Ramana, Chuck and Pravin. Thanks to Ramana for the topic/prompt 'imagination'.

Banner courtesy of canva.com. Images courtesy of pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Blogging Guru

This is what a guru looks like - well something like it!

Back to blogging

I'm back at my blogging again. Three blogs at the moment. Not bad really, is it? My favourite blogging adventure was my original expat blog, which, unfortunately, I had to close once I was no longer able to blog anonymously. Because it was what some of our US based friends might call 'way TMI.  This is my general blog, MBB is my book blog and My East/West Life is my current attempt at blogging about life in India for an Irish wife.

Then there's the experimental writing blog on Wordpress....and you know, can you believe I've been blogging for ten years now? Yes, that's right. But I've taken a looooong hiatus from blogging recently owing to the loss of a beloved family member. And I've stood back from the blogging a little. And then I came back. And amazingly, I've discovered stuff I never knew before.

New discoveries

I discovered that owing to Adsense ads, I've earned the princely sum of erm....sixteen US dollars over the past decade. Yes, that's right. Not exactly enough to retire on, is it? Still...it's better than nothing. I suppose. I've also discovered the mysteries of Feedburner and even more interesting - the devilish complexities of yes! SEO(otherwise known as Search Engine Optimization)! Oh, wow! There are people out there who started blogging years after I did and they have made actual, real money from it. Imagine! If not enough to live on, at least a respectable side hustle. It's like I've been asleep all these years.

Well, who knew? Really. For me, blogging meant creative writing. For others, an array of technical skills was the minimum requirement.

Internet guru Neil Patel

Even more amazing is the fact that there are some people who have learned the secret of turning a blog into a business and they are sharing the information freely. One such person is a man with an Indian name, a certain Neil Patel. His website is a veritable treasure trove of knowledge. The amount of information available in his posts and podcasts is ginormous. This guy, unless he's a figment of some Internet nut's imagination, is a walking industry.

Neil is an Irish name, you know. I thought I'd name one of my sons Neil because it would mean that the boy would feel comfortable in both Irish and Indian settings. But that never happened. Neil Patel sounds just like an American, though. However, being of Indian origin, he certainly qualifies as an Internet guru, 'guru' being the Sanskrit word for 'teacher.  I'd like to use this post as an opportunity to thank this Internet magus for sharing his knowledge so freely. Thank you Neil!


Image courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool (LBC Post)

One morning, when I went to school in 1977, or was it 1978, when I was a first or second year student in the Irish secondary school system (which is 7th or 8th Class in India) I noticed something very odd indeed. It was a notice pinned to the notice board. It read as follows:

THE INTER HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST

'The Inter' or the Intermediate Certificate Examination as it was known then, now the Junior Certificate Examination, was a pretty crucial examination. It's called the 'Class Ten Board Examination' in India and the High School Certificate elsewhere.

I knew something was wrong, but couldn't quite figure it out. The notice sparked a minor frenzy. When the date was revealed to be April the 1st, everything made sense.

It's strange how the 1st April can take some people by surprise.

I haven't noticed anything unusual this year. Except that today, I have a rather horrible toothache. But I'll have to go get it sorted.

April Fool jokes are permissible only up to midday. Thank God. After that, you can say:

April Fool is dead and gone,
You're the fool to carry on.

Happy April Fool's Day. Hope no-one caught you out.

My thanks are due to 'Keerati' at FreeDigitalPhotos for use of the image "April Fool Day On 1st Day Of Month"

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) post.  The LBC is the blogging group to which I've belonged for several years. I'm returning today after an absence of several months. We blog on Fridays on a common topic and we are, in no particular order, Rummuser, AshokgaelikaaLinMaxiPadmumPravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Neerja Bhanot Was A Team Leader, Not a Lone Heroine!

There's a new Bollywood movie out, 'Neerja'. It's heroine, played by Indian actor Sonam Kapoor, is Neerja Bhanot, an Indian Pan Am flight attendent who gave her life while executing her duties as a flight attendent on a flight which suffered an attempted hijack by Palestinian terrorists. Neerja Bhanot's grace under pressure and heroic behaviour, like alerting the flight crew of the hijack, thus enabling it to escape (and effectively disablimg the plane) and hiding the passports of US citizen passengers to save them from being singled out by the terrorists, has won her accolades and awards from three countries, Pakistan, USA and India. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am told by my son, who has, that the story totally focusses on the story from Neerja's point of view.  It shows her grit and determination, going back to her modelling career and joining the airlines after her arranged marriage collapsed. Although she was only 23, her heroism is undoubted and was witnessed by many passengers on that fateful day. Everyone in India now knows that Neerja stayed on the plane until the last passenger left and suffered several bullets at point blank range for her pains. It was tragic that her young life was cut short.

Neerja Bhanot was a beautiful young woman who also took on modelling assignments. The film has been produced in cooperation with her family. Actual photographs of Neerja have been used as publicity for this movie and a few days prior to the its release, the last recorded announcement Neerja made has also been used as publicity. It's truly awesome to hear Neerja Bhanot welcoming passengers on board and acquainting them of the details of their soon-to-be-airborne flight. No doubt, Neerja's beautiful photographs, perfect diction and heroic reputation has piqued a lot of people's curiosity. The film is deservedly a success.

But in the run-up to the film's release, something was bothering me, something just didn't feel right. I know what it was now. On a Facebook thread a few days after 'Neerja's release, a woman, claiming to have been a fellow flight attendant on the same flight, expressed her dissatisfaction with the movie, claiming that it gave Neerja Bhanot 'undeserved adulation'. She was joined on that thread by several others who appear to have been cabin crew that day too.

While the Bhanot family, Neerja Bhanot's two elder brothers and late mother, got to give a lot of input into the movie, it appears that the flight crew of that ill-fated Pan Am flight were not consulted about anything to do with the hijack experience. If this is the case, then I'm not at all surprised that the surviving flight crew members feels that the movie is closer to fiction than reality.

Neerja Bhanot (or rather, Neerja Mishra as she was originally reported to be, probably because this must be her married name) was the seniormost flight attendant on board and carried out her duty faithfully until her last breath. However, the movie's claim that she single-handedly saved the lives of 340 people sounds like exaggeration gone crazy. The truth is that there was a team behind Neerja Bhanot that day and that team seems to have been forgotten by modern India.

That team, consisting of several people with names like Nupoor, Sherene, Astrid, Sunshine and Massey and probably others also, worked together that day to keep the passengers safe and sound. During the long hijack ordeal, they cooperated with the purser, Neerja Bhanot, obeying her instructions in informing the flight crew of the hijack, hiding the American passports, serving the coffee and sandwiches and staying alert throughout. When the terrorists started showering bullets, I'm sure they must have been there along with Neerja, cooperating in evacuating every passenger. There must have been several evacuation points on that plane.

When Neerja's team reassembled outside and realised that she wasn't there, they went inside to get her and found she had been fatally hit. They got her out but unfortunately, she expired before she could get medical treatment. Neerja Bhanot's heroism, professionalism and devotion to duty has been recognised in three countries and her place in history is assured.

But her fellow crew members have been totally forgotten. And that is wrong.

Neerja Bhanot was a heroine. But there was a team of  Indian cabin crew with her who were, in my humble opinion, no less heroic.They have been entirely forgotten. That is a shame.

Neerja's colleague probably made an unfortunate choice of words when she spoke about 'undeserved adulation' and brought the wrath of the masses down on her head. She probably sounded like she begrudged Neerja Bhanot the credit which is her due. But I felt her pain. I think I know where she was coming from.

My own sister is a trained flight attendant with an unblemished record of over twenty years on an international airline. From the little I know, I would say that Neerja Bhanot did what she was trained to do, unfortunately losing her life in the process.The rest of the cabin crew seemed to have proved themselves too. They were all rewarded with permanent jobs by the airline. There is no telling of the trauma they must have suffered from that experience.

All the cabin crew on that fateful day were heroes. They all put their lives on the line for their passengers. They should have all been awarded by the government of their own country, if not by Pakistan or USA.

It is well documented that Neerja Bhanot put the lives of her passengers before her own. I think she would be very sad to see the way her cabin crew has been ignored and forgotten.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Simplicity - LBC Post


Simple Simon met a pieman
Going to the fair
Said Simple Simon to the pieman
Let me taste your ware

The pieman said to Simple Simon
Show me first your penny
Said Simple Simon to the pieman
Indeed I have not any

I don't know who made up this old English rhyme, but it apparently shows a man of slow wits being put in his place when he tries to buy something without money. Oh, the harsh realities of life! My understanding of the word 'simple' was always something along the lines of  'stupid'. 'Are you simple?' is a term of abuse where I come from, often said to someone who is a bit slow on the uptake.

I've often been slow on the uptake, although I know I'm not without intelligence. I remember a woman at work being extremely bitchy towards me back in the day, in my working days in Ireland, and with my now-enhanced awareness, I realise I was beyond her bitchiness. I just didn't get when she was trying to put me down. If that makes me 'simple' I'd say it was a good thing. It saved me a lot of pain at the time.

Simple wasn't always negative. I remember a very nice, pure white soap, called 'Simple Soap', available years ago in Ireland and the UK. This was a soap for people who were allergic to the perfumes and additives which mostly appear in soap today.  The word 'simple' in this context meant something pure and good.

In India, sometimes 'Simple' is a girl's name, although I've never actually met any girl bearing that name. But in Indian English,'simple' means something very good and positive. You'd often hear people speaking approvingly of a 'sweet, simple girl', for example. Usually the girl they want to marry their son.

Simplicity is good because it's usually uncomplicated and easy to get along with.  I'm all for simplicity in every area of life.  For me, the opposite of 'simplicity' is 'complicated' and God between us and all harm (as we say in Ireland - or used to say, rather), I'm not into 'complicated' at all. Give me 'simplicity' any day. The less complications the better, as far as I'm concerned.

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) post.  The LBC is the blogging group to which I've belonged for several years.  We blog on Fridays on a common topic and we are, in no particular order, Rummuser,  AshokgaelikaaLinMaxiPadmumPravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.

Thanks to artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net for the image, 'Water Glass'.  A very simple image indeed and perfect for my post.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Climate in my Hometown LBC Post


I am originally from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. We have a maritime climate, neither too hot nor too cold. Cool, wet winters and warm summers.  We get the odd freak weather condition, like several feet of snow, once in a while to make life interesting.  Pretty ideal really.  

Now I reside in Lucknow in north India. In the Indo-Gangetic plain.  Cold dry winters, roasting hot summers and a humid rainy season.  It seems like it's always too hot or too cold. Or too humid. Humidity is something I dread.  It brings itching, rashes and all of that.  Okay, too hot will work for me. So will too cold (although I hate dry cold, that's energy-sapping). But humidity is .......not at all good. And that's a euphemism if ever there was one,. 

I wish to dedicate this post to my beloved and erudite rakhi brother Rummuser, who suggested this topic.

And thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for the above illustration, 'Paper Weather Icon Illustration' by SweetCrisis.

The Loose Blogging Consortium, a small group of bloggers including RummuserPravin,  ShackmanMaxi,  The Old Fossil Lin and Ashok, and  Padmum have been blogging along together for several years now, traditionally on Fridays.  With my hectic life, I often don't make it by Friday, but I try to blog along nevertheless.  I thank the group for the continued inspiration to blog when I wouldn't have otherwise done so.