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Holidaying in Kashmir – Some thoughts

2014-06-05 10.54.44June 7, 2014 8.12 PM

Just returning from a week-long holiday in Kashmir. Honestly it is a beautiful location, truly blessed by nature. Tourism can really boom here but…

1. Inclusion – People are still aloof I felt. I don’t care about the political aspects of it but honestly the locals lack opportunities for employment. Education is predominantly in Urdu no complaints but post completion of graduation – what? We had a guide by the name Sanaollah in Gulmarg. His son was soon going to complete his bachelors in commerce from Srinagar university and his question was hard-hitting – what next for him? Tourism is the major business in Kashmir and employment was scarce for graduates. We should definitely include them in the growth story. Another incident that struck me was in Sonmarg where we had a teenager helping us climb up the snow. He was studying in his class 10 and after school at 2 pm he would do odd jobs to earn some money. Yet another child who came with a horse in Pahalgam for the kids. He just be 12 or 14 years old. Wants to study and earns money that way. Maybe just feeding the family? A common grouse is that the tourist season is on for 5 months in a year and that is when they earn money. Balance 7 months?? Idle mind is a devil’s workshop. I won’t elaborate on that anymore.

2. Infrastructure – roads are terrible. I know it is a hilly terrain so The Border Roads Organisation are doing a fabulous job but we need to improve this and at a much faster pace if we have to bring in tourists. Electricity goes off at any time but this is a malaise affecting the whole of India so won’t like to say more. The Dal lake is full of weeds and muck. Why not make it a pleasure to live in the houseboats?

3. Fleecing – the locals simply believe in fleecing tourists. I know this is everywhere in the world but we just need to draw a line somewhere. Everywhere you see them ganging up talking in their local language and then asking for a bomb despite rates being published by the government everywhere. And mind you the rates are more than handsome so why fleece further? Luckily we found someone in Sonmarg and in Gulmarg too who helped us but found a lot of tourists fleeced. Even foreigners weren’t spared. Our tourism policy must bring about a change honestly.

4. Food – challenging honestly. We found just ONE Smokin’ Joes outlet in Srinagar! We should have quality restaurants too. I am not asking for the fine dining types but basic hygiene should be maintained. My nephew is picky and shrieked at the sight of a cockroach in the restaurant (rather dhaba). Why can’t we have some standards? This is not just applicable to Kashmir but to the whole of India.

All in all a great place to visit and had a great time too but then we need to do something to bring more people to this glorious place too. Maybe the new government will bring about some change.

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Time – Where do we find that?


This morning I realised that aside of Sundays, I barely get to spend time with Kavya. Monday to Friday she has school in the mornings from 9 am to 3 pm and I return home by 7 pm only. We do get some minutes in the morning as she is rushing through her chores while I am going through my routines. In the evenings, I usually am teaching her so that goes on till dinner time. Post dinner she goes out to play and then is called rather pulled in at bedtime. This goes on from Monday to Friday. Saturday evenings are spent finishing off the weekend worksheets / revision / whatever. Leaves only Sunday to spend time with her which I try to ensure that she has nothing pending from her homework. We try to make the most of the Sundays. This morning just pondering, I realised that we are all (atleast I am) living such mechanical lives by the clock and there is really no time to experience the smaller joys of life. Immediately the poem we did in school in Class 7 came to mind and I reproduce below:

Leisure – W H Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

So yes will have to bring about a change in my lifestyle for her and spend time with her. Any suggestions?

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What I learnt today from teaching Kavya

roman numerals

Every weekend (when school is on), it is my duty to teach Kavya. Today I had to teach her Roman numerals. Now I honestly don’t remember how I had learnt it when in school so instant reaction is google it up. And I was surprised at the amount of information available on rules for Roman numerals. Used this link and finally taught her the fundamentals.

Parents do make use of this immense power of the Internet. I am a lazy bone honestly and even worksheets are downloaded from the internet for her to work on. She finished her multiplication worksheets finally today (10 sheets in all from 1*1 to 12*12 and each sheet has 60 blanks to be filled in). Yesterday I downloaded some videos from YouTube on states of matter and showed it to her. Videos make learning interesting. And I have used YouTube for any and everything that she may need help on such as how to draw a certain flower etc. As she grows I will have to teach her more and more to use the internet and all the answers she will be able to find out from there. We never had those things during our times.

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5th September – Teacher’s Day, A day to go back in time.

No this image is nothing with Kavya or me going back to school:-) Just that it being Teachers’ Day, I wanted to go back in time and thank all my teachers. I have lost touch with most of them but their memories are forever etched in your mind as they have been responsible for my formative years early in life. I studied at Dadar Parsee Youths Assembly High School (DPYA for short though the acronym was converted a few years ago to Daaru piyela yeda aadmi by one of my nieces) located at 5 gardens in Matunga / Dadar. School is where I learnt the first alphabet, learnt to speak for myself, learnt English as a language that I am proficient at (well me thinks so at least:-))), learnt to enjoy life and made so many friends along the way. So let me go back in time, back to school way back in the early 70s

I started school in Nursery, then Lower Kindergarten (KG) and then came Senior KG. My earliest memory is my teacher from Sr. KG, Miss Panthaky. She was a strict lady who instilled the roots of discipline. I remember once having gone swimming to Otters and reached school a little late. So when I entered the class, she asked me why are you late? I sheepishly had replied then “I had gone to the swimming pool”. She shot back “Then stay in the swimming pool” Lesson learnt – No one waits for you if you are late. Get in on time.

Standard 1 was when we had Mrs. Dias as our teacher. She was a short lady but was strict too. Once I remember during the short break, I was knocked down by one of the those playful seniors and was hurt on the head. I went to her not knowing how to say that I was feeling like throwing up. But she understood what I was saying and took preventive action. Also once I remember calling her Mummy in class and every one laughed but she was kind enough to say that she was like a mother to all of us in school. I felt good that she did not reprimand me for that:-)

Standard 2 we had a teacher by the name of Miss Bobbinmaker whose Mother (the grand old lady taught me French in the XII) was in the administration department of the school, was our teacher. She was a very sweet teacher and gave us stars in our book for neatness, not over writing etc. After a certain number of stars were collected, we were given a gift like a snack box or such. Small things but they meant a lot. Taught me to keep my handwriting steady and avoid mistakes. She left towards the middle of the second term and came in Miss Elavia who later on married Meenu, our Head Accountant in school and became Mrs. Dubash. There was also this lady who taught us Hindi & Marathi whose name I don’t recall but she was to be addressed as Didi in class. She was a comical characters but her classes were fun always.

Standard 3 is a year I won’t forget. Mrs. Carmen Pereira was my teacher and she was one brilliant individual too. Precise in her English and she taught us the basics of grammar. Hats off to that lady who really taught us well. By then we had two divisions and we had Mrs. Fernandes in the next class who ruled the class with an iron hand. But Mrs. Pereira is someone I still can’t forget. Years later when I went for Kavya’s admission, I asked for her and was told that she retired years ago. Ma’am wherever you are, I hope you are hale and hearty. Would love to meet you after all these years and thank you for all that you taught me.

Standard 4 we had Miss Iyer who was weird. I always thought she was partial to the girls:-) But we had Mrs. Rodrigues in the next division. She was an excellent teacher I felt especially since she was very fluent in her English.

Standard 5 – we had Mr. M. Pathak who taught us Hindi but was the class teacher. We had teachers for different subjects. I think that is when Mrs. Miranda became our Maths and Science Teacher. She was very precise in her explanation of geometrical concepts and I owe it to her. She continued to be with us in Standard 6 too.

Standard 6 – We had Mrs. Desai (nee Agaskar) as our Marathi cum class teacher. I remember once Sanjay Madiyar had got some bottle of perfume or was it some eau de toilette in the class and during her class I pushed the button twice. The fragrance naturally spread and she turned back angrily asking who had done this. I did not have the guts to stand up and own up my mistake. And my friend Umesh, another known prankster was banished out of the class. Sorry Umesh for that. Mrs. Lala taught us English and her son Noshir was a couple of years ahead of us.

Standard 7 – Mrs. Gopa Chakravarty was our class teacher and she taught us History with Miss Babsy Hansotia teaching us English. Ms. Hansotia introduced us to Wren and Martin for Grammar and I still consider it the bible for English Grammar. Mrs. Chakravarty suffered from a fracture and to our good luck she went to our classmate, Sanjay Shah’s Dad and so next day when Sanjay told us, it was absolute rejoicing in school expecting a long break but it was short-lived. We had a substitute by the name of Mrs. Dave who we made sure had a tough time with us. Poor lady just couldn’t control a rowdy lot like ours. Mahesh Khanna had the distinction of putting his finger through her Afro like hair much to the uproar in class as Mrs. Dave did not realise a thing. BTW, Mrs. Chakravarty has passed away.

Standard 8 – Now we were in the morning shift. Mrs. Rege who also taught us Marathi (and later on a ridiculous subject called “Bread and Biscuits” in the 9th) was our class teacher. In came Mr. Khilji who taught us Physics, Chemistry and Biology as well as Algebra and Geometry. Foundations were strengthened once again. I remember the definition of density which he tried to explain so many times to me. “Mass per unit volume of a substance” is something I still remember but did not comprehend it then.

Standard 9 – The dreaded year at DPYA not for studies but for the high handed, tyrannical R Pathak (notice no Mr. mentioned as we have no respect for him till date). French started and a very old and fragile lady taught us. She just couldn’t do anything as people mocked around in her class (Once remember someone opening a huge umbrella inside her class room). We were getting rowdier. R Pathak continued with his tyranny and Rajiv Shinde was his favourite punching bag as he would smile shamelessly while R Pathak punched him and this would irk him further so he would rain blows on him and this guy would keep smiling. Mr. T Pathak, a teacher whom I still revere as my guru was the Head Master then. We had Mrs. Mehta as our class teacher and she truly was a very very nice lady. She taught us the nuances of English grammar and was extremely gentle with all of us. She truly commanded respect by her behaviour. Don’t think we were ever out of hand in her class.

Standard 10 – A year which is crucial to all of us in India. Mr. T Pathak and Mr. Khilji taught us Maths and Science. Miss Wadia who was our Principal taught us History and she made a hash of it honestly. We had our naughty times in the Xth honestly as all of us were attending some form of coaching or another so school was more of time pass. But at the end of it when I sit back and look back at school life there was so much we learnt, so much we shared and so many friends we made. Thanks to all the teachers who made contribution in some form or the other to my life. Even R Pathak for having taught me what the word tyrant meant by demonstrating it all through out the 9th Standard. Could go on and on with one or the other episodes but this will get too boring. There are names that I forgot to mention:

  • Mr P Vyas who was referred to as Bull Dog and was known to collect that farcical Gandhi Fund after Assembly on every Friday after the Assembly.
  • Late Mr. R Vyas who taught us Hindi in the Xth but would always be remembered for singing on stage during the Assembly
  • Mrs. Kapadia popularly known as Dolly because of her size who taught us music and used to hit us with a very very think dandia akin to a thick rolling-pin. Who could forget us making a hue and cry in her class when Mr. P Vyas came from behind and spanked Bhavesh Mehta suddenly. Poor Bhavesh was caught unawares and was so shocked that he peed in his pants. We still recall that vividly during our re unions.
  • Mr. R Shah who taught us Art and Craft in the middle section. He was a hard core follower of the then Janata Party.
  • Mr. Parulekar who taught us Art and Craft in the Primary section
  • Anand Shabajee from Mauritius, studying at Ruia College and who taught us French in the 10th. His duster flung at Adil hit Hiten Thakkar on his nose and he bled profusely. Hiten still recalls Adil’s ducking the duster and he being caught unaware.
  • Thanks to Peterasp for bringing to mind these names – Mrs. Bharucha whom I haven’t seen in years now. Don’t know if she still lives at the same place.
  • Another notable mention thanks to Peterasp would be Mrs. Daruwalla who would sign in a simple manner:-) And she used to hit on the knuckles as both of us reminisced a while ago on Facebook.
  • Some more names that come to mind are Mr. Hodiwala, our Principal. I always remember his speeches during Assembly and most notably his words “Never forget the school that brought you up”. Also whenever we enacted a play or such on school, he would always pull us up loudly “Never show your back to the audience”.
  • Then Mr. Nadkarni who was the Head Master. Awesome English teacher who admonished me for having used the word created against committed in a sentence. Not forgotten that till date.
  • Mrs. Usha Paropkari who taught us geography in 6th standard.

If any of school mates want to add to this list please free to comment and I will add it here.

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Childhood memories of Delhi

Am in Delhi as I write this post. Yesterday I passed by the Red Fort in Old Delhi and saw that people still sell water in this age of bottled Bisleri, Kinley, Aquafina and the ilk. Not my point for this post.

I took this picture using the phone and was taken back in time some 37 years back in 1976 when I had come to Delhi as part of the school trip to Kashmir. It was a 21 day trip for a princely 500 Rs. or so!!! Covered Mathura, Agra, Delhi, Srinagar, Pathankot, Delhi again and back. All by train and by second class. I wonder how but then in those days ACs were a luxury and this was a school trip. Remember having met the then Prime Minister Mr. Morarji Desai and a group picture with him is something I still have. Had met Mr. Atal Bihari Vyajpayee who was then the Railway Minister. This water dispensing unit was there even then and it still exists. Water then was sold for 5 paise or maybe 10 paise and now it is a Rupee as mentioned. Remember Delhi was sweltering even then (maybe lesser than now) and at night we had gone to watch a movie, Chacha Bhatija starring Randhir Kapoor & Dharmendra at some Air Conditioned theatre in CP area.

Delhi hasn’t changed much should I say?

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Kavya’s first Annual Day at Shishuvan

Thursday 9th February was the much awaited Annual Day at Shishuvan for Standard I. It was held at Mysore Association Hall on Bhaudaji Road. It started at 1530 and went on till about 1715 but it was fun to see ALL yes ALL the children perform on stage. The theme was about stories that they had read around the things they had learnt. Much of it was to do with animals. Kavya was the face of the elephant and 4 other children were with her as the body of the elephant. So far she had only danced on stage as part of the Shiamak Davar’s performances but this time she had to speak in front of a much smaller audience. And she spoke clearly and loudly. The story about the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse was enacted very well and the audience participation in that was good too which I am sure encouraged the children too.

My takeaway from the show was that since all the children were on stage, it was an equal chance given to one and all of them which was very nice. Every child is unique no doubt but when on stage they were all the same which was very nice. Last year she had cried when she was not selected for the Annual Day at DPYA and it had hurt us a lot then but life turns a full circle and she was on stage along with every one else and did well. Proud of you. Thank you Shishuvan.

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I learnt a lot when Kavya started going to school…..

Kavya moved out from my school, DPYA to Shishuvan at the beginning of this academic year. Yes I have blogged about this in the past too but what I want to admit openly is what I have learnt from this transition. In DPYA, they had a class leader by election (which was quite a farce I think now just like the general elections in India:-) and I was the class leader almost throughout the years. I must admit to all batchmates that this was wrong and I guess I was part of this system and so was guilty as well. Shishuvan has a concept of the class leader by rotation so every week they have a new leader and every child is happy. Point learned when 2 weeks ago Kavya was the class leader and she was hyper excited about it. Even Robin Sharma has mentioned about what he learned from his child about leadership at school. Interesting that Shishuvan also follows something similar.

The next point is a burning point which kind of added fuel to hasten our decision in the move. Kavya is good at dancing and she goes to Shiamak Davar too and has performed on stage. DPYA has their annual day and kids are called up on stage to perform for which there is a lot of practice. Last year she came home and cried her heart out just because she was not selected for the annual day and the same set as the previous year was blindly taken in. While we did explain to her it was not necessary that she got selected, I was in my heart recalling what my friends would have felt for those years of school. Guys my apologies to each one of you. I admit I was wrong. I am told that at Shishuvan every student is made to perform on the stage during their annual day. As any other parent, I am looking forward to seeing Kavya beaming as she announces she is part of the Annual Day.

To all my DPYA friends, my apologies go out to each one of you. It took me quite a lot of time to realise how wrong I was. And yes my daughter played an instrumental role in making me realise this.