Thou Shalt Not Covet

S Radha Prathi, May 30, 2016

Times have changed. But then, so have our methods to economise on expenditure.

Gone are the days when people would help themselves to office stationery or use the telephone to make personal calls. For that matter, we do not find too many people borrowing newspapers and magazines subscribed by their neighbours. People hardly get their pharmacist to bill them for medicines after purchasing cosmetics and bars of chocolate. If you are under the impression that we have come of age and do not indulge in petty penny pinching, think again!

Times have changed. But so have our methods to economise on our expenditure. Correct me if I am wrong. Have we not seen people making a beeline to a plug point to charge their phones and laptops when they visit others at their homes, offices, hospitals or auditoriums? If there is free Wi-Fi, they will not pass up the opportunity to use the same.

The phrase “missed call” might make it to the Guinness Book of World Records for being mouthed and used a maximum number of times by Indians. Movies and large file are always invariably downloaded or uploaded on free resources.

There are people who pamper their taste buds and sometimes satiate their hunger by playing tasters wherever possible. I know friends of friends who keep fit by always attending trial classes for a week in various yoga centres and gymnasiums around the city. Then there are those international faux pas where our countrymen are renowned for buying exotic branded clothes or fancy items abroad, use them for the special occasion and return the same and get a complete refund without the slightest iota of guilt. Well, the list can go on endlessly.

True, most of us like to save a pretty penny. There is nothing wrong. However, using weird and unethical ways to economise on expenditure can prove to be morally degenerating in the long run.

It is said that once a thief entered Cha-nakya’s humble home on a winter night. The robber was extremely surprised to see the minister and his wife sleeping on a mat, while there was a pile of blankets in one corner. Even as the thief was wondering about the anomaly, Chanakya woke up. The burglar could not help articulating his question. Chanakya said that the king had sent the blankets to his home to be distributed among the poor. Hence he would not use the woolies that did not belong to him. The malefactor left the premises sorry, ashamed and reformed – a role model worthy of being emulated. It is time to awaken the self esteem in us. Better late than never!

Memory games to Jog Your Brains

Simple memory games and word building activities can help senior citizens stay mentally alert and challenged. Radha Prathi works with senior members at Nightingale’s Elders Enrichment Centre at Sanjay Nagar and writes about simple mental exercises for seniors.

As people grow older, memory often starts failing them and so do their motor skills. Medical science has proved that it is possible to prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease if we keep our brains exercised on a regular basis. While physical exercise helps the body, a daily dose of Sudoku or Crossword can do the needful for the mind. However not everyone can play these games for various reasons. They may simply not have the taste or knack for it, or may not be equipped with enough language or mathematical skills to play the same. Similarly, one may not have enough stamina or a conducive health condition to keep their hands flexible. Here are a few ideas to help the grey cells to exercise and to hone your motor skills while resting in an arm chair.

Word Building

Word Building is one of the oldest and commonest ways to learning words and their spellings. It also serves as a test of memory when played in large groups, because if a word is repeated then it will result in loss of points for the player. Usually, this activity needs at least two people to keep the game going and a little tweak can be added to it. It can be played in the written form, where you have to form a word chain on the principles of word building within a given time span. At the end of the session the chains could be evaluated by a friend or a member of the family in terms of rules, spelling and repetitions. The word chain could break at any point of time rendering the player with points as long as he/she maintains the chain. Keeping a score of the chains will see your points increasing magically over a period of time.

Family Tree

Sometimes family and friends may find it difficult to appreciate your oft repeated stories retold with great gusto. Nevertheless, they will be happy if you document the same stories for posterity and for the the extended family that is usually scattered across the globe these days. Jog your memory, take it back as far as you can and design a family tree. Pepper the characters with one or two well known anecdotes to make the person come alive. The exercise will involve getting in touch with people for procuring photographs, sharing memories and insights. This delightful project can not only help you spend your time in a pleasurable way but will also leave you with a sense of fulfillment for having done something productive. If you are computer savvy key in the details. If not, it is never too late to learn. S Thiagarajan, a veteran photographer featured in Silver Talkies, is creating his Family Tree at 97! You can too!


Make a list of all the places that you have lived in or visited right from the day you were born. Rummage your shelf for the atlas you had stowed away. Get hold of an outline map of our country or the world based on the region of your travel. Trace the journey of your life. If you want, you can make brief notes about the place and your personal impressions and memories associated with the place. It would turn out to be a fun exercise and you can involve your grandchildren too!

Thematic Vocabulary

Buy a nice new notebook. Write out a theme on alternate pages. The themes could be listing out fruits, vegetables, animals, birds, places, metals, colours, professions, subjects, and language or for that matter anything under the sun. Then jot down the names that come to your mind. Initially, you might be able to fill a few lines immediately. The challenge begins only when you start trying to recollect all those other words stored in the backburner of your memory. The same Thematic vocabulary can be converted into a multilingual task. This game can prove to be a reality check of finding out how many equivalents you know for Okra or Butterfly!

Name, Place, Animal, Thing

The game called Name, Place, Animal, Thing, which filled you with joy as a kid is perfectly capable of unfolding its magic once again. Play it with your gang of friends, correct each other’s books and have fun all over again. Just in case you have forgotten the rules of the game you can consult children in and around your home. Yes, children of Gen X also play this game occasionally.

Note down new words in a journal every day. Photograph courtesy:  Anonymedu43, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons


If taking a dictation of grocery and laundry list has bored you, take a dictation of a different sort. Tune into your spouse’s favourite soap when he or she is away and note down all the key dialogues and punctuate them with suitable emoticons. Try creating some of your own, who knows you might get a patent for it. This is also an opportunity to exercise you ability to write in vernaculars.

Movies and serials

Make a list of all the movies you have watched. Try to recall the story line, the artists, songs and memories associated with it and document them in the form of short essays. If you find that you are shortchanged for memory, it will prove to be a good excuse to watch the movie again.

These are but a few ideas to help a senior citizen keep failing memory at bay and keep their brain challenged. It could be suitably improvised and worked upon according to the needs and tastes of the individual or groups. The ideas suggested does not hold good only for a specific language. The task can be carried out in a language you are familiar with. If you spend half an hour on these exercises, you are sure to keep your mind sharp and occupied.



Mutual regard for Meaningful Relationships

Sometimes, we make a conscious effort to reconnect with the people who populated our past. It could be either with the agenda of keeping or redeeming a promise or very simply to enjoy a bit for the sake of old times.

Situations like these warrant a little understanding and courtesy even if we do not mean to take the association any further. If we realise that the attitude is not mutual it will be in our best interests to keep away, lest life decants an ungainly stress on us and lead us to the path of self-destruction.

An incident in the Mahabharata enunciates this point ever so well. Drona a poor Brahmin and Drupada, the prince of Panchala went to Gurukula together. Drupada who availed constant academic help from his erudite friend, promised to give his friend unto half his kingdom as a token of his appreciation. Drona declined the offer. Each of them went their way. Several years passed. One day, Drona thought it would be a good idea to touch base with his old chum and probably seek a cow in charity in the capacity of a Brahmin.

The meeting with the king of Panchala proved to be a disaster as Drupada, refused to recognise his old friend. The much insulted Drona vowed to win over Panchala in an open court. Later on when it was time for his students, the Kuru princes, to offer him Gurudakshina, he demanded that they capture Panchala for him. On getting his fee, he made Drupada recall the unpleasant scene. Then he made a grand gesture of dividing Panchala and offered half  of it to Drupada and rubbed salt on to the wounded ego of the erstwhile friend.

Drona thought he had settled scores. Little did he realise, that he had triggered off a chain of nasty events. Drupada performed a special Yajna to beget a son who would kill Drona. He aspired for his daughter Draupadi to wed Arjuna, the star student of Drona to beard the lion in his own den.

The immaturity of Drupada snowballed into a series of unfortunate events.

Equations in human relationships change from time to time. Any relationship can be taken forward only if there is mental maturity and mutual understanding.

Evolution of Hospitality Industry

When the conservative Indians promoted the concept of eating outside their homes by patronising the exceptional culinary skills of the Udupi cooks, little did they realise that they were paving the way for a mighty food and hospitality industry in the coming decades.

Though the industry began as an amateur, it slowly developed into a state-of-the-art restaurant over a period of time, giving it a professional touch.

Soon, high profile hospitality industry like the star-rated hotels, swanky resorts, restaurants and VIP guest houses felt the need for trained professionals who could carry out their duties with a flair of international sensibilities.

The Government of India realised these needs and encouraged various universities to include a course in Hotel Management in the 1980s.

Now, most colleges offer good infrastructure and they complement classroom academics with practical lessons to enrich the knowledge of the students. However, the results have not been exactly spectacular, thus far.

While some colleges are affiliated to the Indian universities, many have tied up with foreign universities for short term diploma courses and certificate courses, which boost the profile of the student in the international scene.

Initially a 4-year undergraduate course called BHM (Bachelor of Hotel Management) was introduced with relevant subjects touching on areas like language, accounts, housekeeping and related skills necessary for the job. The teaching faculty at hotel management colleges said that though the course content matched international standards, unfortunately, the takers of the courses were the students who were much below the average mark. A survey reveals that the situation has not altered much, even to this day.

The reasons are obvious – students with low marks or candidates who may have discontinued education are the usual takers. Naturally, they do not do well in academics because of lack of basic knowledge coupled with a sense of low self-esteem.

They are also perhaps acutely aware of the fact that the society at large is not really well-known for honouring jobs as hoteliers, waiters or housekeepers even in star-rated hotels. This is also one of the main reasons why there was a glaring absence of girl students in these classes in the initial years. The scene has changed a little over the years. Now there is a steady trickle of young women who are ready to give it a shot.

Despite the low popularity level, it is a fact that, the course has landed several diligent students in enviable positions in many star-rated hotels.

Success stories

These success stories have also encouraged the partially-educated staff working in private and ordinary eateries to take up the course to upgrade themselves as professionally qualified personnel who can move on to greener pastures.

Then there are enterprising hoteliers who introduce grooming classes and train their staff in communication and soft skills to enhance the quality of the services in the hotel. Such trained workers are indirectly motivated to clear their intermediate examinations privately and take up a hotel management course.

The reason for such careful cushioning lies in the realms of detrimental attrition which leaves the industry almost always in a state of uncertainty.

The day is not far when the growing demand of the industry will attract more and more and even meritorious students to consider hotel management courses as a career option.

Hotel management colleges can consider this situation to be a cue and gear up to cater to the needs of the industry and give it the much needed facelift. Globalisation and enhanced spending capacity of Indians has paved the way for a boom in the hospitality industry in a big way. Campus recruitments are becoming the order of the day.

Big names in the industry across the globe are ready to absorb and pay fancy salaries and positions construing to the talents and qualifications of the candidates. In fact the market has expanded over the past couple of years. Developing marine businesses like cruise liners and ships are recruiting personnel by the dozens. Event management teams and trip organisers are always looking for trained staff.

Certainly, the situation cannot get any better. Earnest students of hotel management can be rest assured that they can land themselves on the velvet if they work diligently towards their goal.