Time Tested Bond



Whoever said, “99% perspiration and 1% inspiration is the arithmetic of success” was spot on. The thrill of experiencing the process of the saying being translated into reality during my school days made me a staunch believer of the aphorism.

Recently, I stumbled on a Facebook request of a dear, long-lost childhood friend. The ball set rolling almost immediately. She called up and we chatted away. The excitement, the bonhomie and the unquestionable affection surfaced together leaving us overwhelmed. That night, I could not sleep till the wee hours of the morning as I was lost in nostalgia. Vivid pictures of a distant past were visualised by my mind’s eye.

We had just stepped into high school. Each class was expected to present a programme for 15 minutes to display our talents. We had decided a moving tableau showcasing the wedding of Rama and Sita. My long-lost friend, who played Rama, had to string the bow and then pretend to break it in the process before garlanding Sita. I was behind the curtains providing instrumental music on the Veena for the show.

I was supposed to ramble through an auspicious raga and then strike all the strings together to signify the breaking of the bow. The music and the act never seemed to coordinate during our practice sessions. So, we meticulously timed the act. It was decided that I should twang the strings after a certain time. However, I was not quite sure how it would turn out on stage because I would not even be able to see what was transpiring.

On the red-lettered day, each of us did our bit. My friend, who was on stage, bent the bow with all her might and actually broke the bow quite unintentionally, and I, who was oblivious to the happenings on the stage, concentrated on the music and twanged the strings at the pre-decided moment. The action and the sound occurred simultaneously, inviting a roaring applause. It was only after the performance I learnt about the extraordinary and unexpected turn of events. A sense of happiness and fulfillment pervaded us whenever our schoolmates mentioned it in the coming days.

Soon studies, other activities and preoccupations took over our lives and each of us went our way. Yet, what remained with me was the moral support of the time-tested truth which made me believe in the power of perseverance and the benevolence of almighty and not to mention the warmth of our friendship which renewed seamlessly after three decades.

Deconstructing Clever Signs


Radha Prathi, Aug 14, 2016,


The smart man had zeroed in on the real culprits who could be blamed for the inflation.

The written word has a charm of its own. It is not merely what is available on the Internet and in media and books. Sign posts, menu cards, brochures, pamphlets and billboards, bloopers and unintended puns have the power to lighten many a heart with their original content and humour. However, I would like to dwell on another genre of writing that has grabbed my attention on and off. Though I have come across many such nuggets, the following take the cake…

A Xerox shop had put up a new price list. Alongside was another sheet of paper that read, ‘We are not responsible for the pricing. If you have any complaints, please approach the CM or PM.’ The smart man had zeroed in on the real culprits who could be blamed for the inflation. The writing on the wall discreetly encouraged the customer to give the matter some thought while discouraging the potential customer from questioning the cost.

Then there was this message on a sheet of paper stuck on the front glass of a large car: ‘Kindly park your car properly or we will punkcher your tyre.’ The car was not moved. Overnight there was an addendum to the note: ‘I mean puncture,’ in block letters. I could sense the despair of the scribe who felt that there was no response to the memo because he had misspelt his threat. I also observed the change in the use of the first-person pronoun from plural to singular. In the coming days, the car was parked ‘properly’, without inviting more such nag notes.

Another time, a sheet of paper stuck on the elevator door read, ‘Please don’t press 2, dead end.’ I could not figure out the import. A staff member explained that the general entrance to the second floor had been sealed off because it had an internal lift that connected the first and the second floors. Therefore, if people did stop at the second floor, the door, which was still operable, would open to a wall that sealed the entrance. I understood the good intention and the dark humour behind the cautionary words.

I cannot forget another such piece of writing taped over a young neem tree. ‘You will not prosper if you use the leaves of this tree.’ According to the grapevine, the sapling had been planted by a green enthusiast only the previous year. The locals had helped themselves to every leaf that sprouted, for medicinal purposes. The tree had survived the onslaught and had unfurled its green umbrella the following spring. It was Ugadi and there was every chance of the neighbours stripping the sapling to its scrawny branches, hence the warning. The tree lover had cashed in on the power of curse to play mind games on the people who may be tempted to relieve the tree of its leaves.

These and many such memoranda that are laced with humour happen to be insightful. They reflect the genuine intent to communicate effectively and honestly. They mirror the feelings of disgust, anxiety or disapproval. They also testify the fact that the scribes of these notes have possibly failed to express their thoughts orally. They could have been timid, may have wanted to avoid open confrontation resulting in embarrassment or unpleasantness, or, they may have believed more in the power of the written word. Yet, the fact remains that they are generally put up with the expectation of seeing desired results. Oftentimes, these gems of prudence are written in English, albeit with some creative liberties taken with the Queen’s language, with the hope of reaching out to a larger number of people.

If it has not been already done, these cryptic notes can be compiled, analysed and studied. They will throw light on the human mindset, lifestyle, and thought processes of our contemporary society.

Three Wheeler Tales


Auto fares have increased, and so has the attitude of those who drive these haloed three-wheelers. The ‘autodom’ – if we may call it so – has a law unto itself! Since I am a regular patron of these vehicles, I can self righteously profess to have seen them all – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Since, bad and ugly have received maximum media coverage, I think I will concentrate on the good Samaritans of this kingdom who form the minority – the drivers who ply children to schools belong to this group. If we choose to overlook the greedy ones who stuff their autos with uniformed brats, the remaining constitute to my theme.

They are heroes who metamorphose into auto man, auto uncle, kaka, mama or thatha and share a wonderful equation with the children they commute. A sense of responsibility, coupled with gestures of concern and generosity, define most of these men who are trusted with the apples of several people’s eyes.

I have been privy to the conversations of indulging parents who have included the auto drivers of their children into their extended families. I have been regaled with instances of these men in various shades of khaki who always checked whether the children had their badges, ties and belts on before they got on to the auto.

They are also the types who ensure that the lunch boxes of their little commuters have been polished off on their way back home.

Some would gift a pen or a bar of chocolate to the child who got a full score in mathematics, and one driver would fasten two balloons on his vehicle whenever it was some child’s birthday and while others would employ theatrics while narrating stories to the kids.

I know of a working couple who pursue their careers without being weighed down by insecurities about their wards because their auto driver not only ferries their wards but also babysits them till one of the parents arrives home.

As for the children, they seem to worship their auto uncle, sometimes much more than their own uncles. These knights who drive the three-wheelers have proven that several traits of humanitarian values can most definitely co-exist with commercial gains in the contemporary urban society sans animosity or acrimony.

That is the story of “the good” in a nutshell. As for the bad and ugly, the space in the middle will not do justice to the subject – I might as well write a theses and earn my doctorate!

The Vintage Advantage


Sun, 17 Jan 2016

The Nightingales Medical Trust and The Nightingales Elder’s Enrichment Centre, had their 16th Anniversary Celebration in style last December. They not only bid 2015 a jolly goodbye, they also celebrated the various skills the senior club members had to offer with music and dance. S Radha Prathi sent us this writeup about this versatile and talented show by senior citizens. 


Namma Bengaluru just proved that it has not lost its knack for springing its pleasant surprises on us in the most unexpected ways. Even as people resolved to attach the epithet Pensioner’s paradise to good old Bangalore, Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centres (NEEC) gently prompted its denizens to reconsider the old title. Accordingly, the members of the Malleswaram branch decided to have a gala time on the second Saturday of the last month of 2015. It was the sixteenth year of their collective identity. When they looked further north they sighted their two year old sibling branch in Sanjay Nagar whose members were also working towards making a statement of their existence. It did not

senior yogatake long for the wise old souls to realize that more the merrier would make a more meaningful phrase if they came together. After all, the guiding spirit of the clubs is the same. NEEC serves as a haven to those who care to register themselves as its members to keep them engaged, educated, updated and entertained right round the year. The club has made it a point to culminate each such vibrant year by celebrating an annual day. The fact that they ensure that they make it the crowning glory of the year has now become a tradition unto itself.

nmtThis year around, they decided to gather at Seva Sadan at Malleswaram around mid morning and showcase their variegated and vintage talents. If it was a treat to the senses to watch them display their skills in Yoga or Tai Chi, sing, dance, play act and spoof creatively, the take away was homework for our minds and mindset. For all of us, who are under the impression that old age is a curse of sorts, beset by aches and pains and deteriorating strength, the show was stimulating. Do not for a moment think that all these glittering stars on the stage are blessed souls without a care in life. On the contrary they happen to be sensible souls who know how to put behind the setbacks of life and put their best foot forward to make life pleasant for themselves and those around them. The fact that they had meticulously planned, practised and played out their program with utmost enthusiasm and sincerity spoke in volumes about the wondrous qualities of sincerity and passion which must have been the guiding forces of their lives. Dedication and determination came through the veneer of the light heartedness displayed on stage in each and every piece. That was not all; while the souvenir brought out on the occasion celebrated their cerebral capabilities, the sumptuous lunch enjoyed at the end of the function gave a glimpse of the gourmets who had nurtured a fine taste for all the beautiful gifts that life has to offer.

The fun filled full house, the fanfare and the feverish fervor that ruled the day was fittingly presided over by its founder members Dr Radha S Murthy and S Prem Kumar Raja who had dreamed it all up for them. May their tribe increase manifold!

If you are a senior citizen who wishes to join the Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centre, visit:
No.149. 11th Main
Between 16th & 17th Cross
Bangalore 560 055
Ph: 080-23342929

Osmosis of Matter


The lady announced that she planned to teach the stinking Indians a lesson.

When water finds its own level, it is called osmosis. Similarly, when matters run their course, they resolve in some way. I re-learned this principle when I happened to witness a random altercation involving a quintessential auto driver of our country, who always behaves like Oliver and his passenger, an angry old American woman.

Since both of them could not quarrel fluently in the Queen’s tongue due to their respective accents and constrained vocabulary, the onlookers were roped in for support.
Our man had asked the lady to tip him with a dollar or two. It put off the lady, who had been expected to tip in her currency by practically every Indian who served her in some capacity during her tour of our land. She declared that she was not ready to part with any more dollars especially on the last day of her trip. The matter could have ended there if she had walked away in a huff and the driver had buzzed off cursing her under his breath.

However, there was a twist in the tale. The lady announced that she planned to teach the stinking Indians a lesson, obviously, referring to the driver and his like-minded brethren. The driver took umbrage at the adjective employed to his countrymen and insisted that the lady should duly apologise. Some bystanders clucked in agreement.
The subsequent talk revolved on this adjective in a mix of English and some of our languages. Fingers were pointed at the lady. She misconstrued the dialogue to be racist and  sexist in nature. She randomly bid one of the onlookers to call the police.

A latecomer among the spectators promptly commented on the escalating levels of eve-teasing in broad daylight and jabbed away at his cell phone. Nobody bothered to correct him. The lady who was red and livid by now, snatched the instrument from him and switched it off uttering more inanities against Indians.

She said that she did not want any police involvement, because she was flying away from the country anyway. Her sole helper was offended sorely. The auto driver used this opportune moment and told the lady soothingly that it was getting late and chivalrously ushered her into the vehicle.

The lady told him firmly that she had run out of small change in dollars and asked him would a hundred rupees suffice before taking her seat. The driver nodded vigorously and told her that she was running out of time. He turned around and asked us whether we had no other business and the lady added that we must disperse, because there was no circus going on there.

Tree Troubles in Namma Bengaluru


S Radha Prathi, May 27, 2015, DHNS

An oft used phrase in our local lingo which is used to console people buried in troubles when roughly translated reads thus. If people don’t have problems, then do you think the trees will have them? Looks like Namma Bengaluru which has been listening to this phrase for a long, long time now has passed on tribulations to its trees.

Hundreds of trees have met their untimely and unexpected end, this year around. Torrential rains punctuated with heavy winds have been identified as the culprits.
Fallen trees are being cut into logs and firewood before being carted away. Loss of life and property, blocked roads and probable inconveniences are being reckoned with and debated upon.

After a certain point of time, the talk is no longer tree-centric. It digresses into the possibilities of people facing greater hazards from the surrounding greenery when the rainy season actually sets in. Authorities are being coerced to work on a prevention plan.
In other words, anxious populace is waiting for a green signal to do away with probable green impediments. Weak trees are being listed out. Trees that are proving to be hurdles in public spaces are also being counted.

The attitude of Bengalureans towards trees is truly perplexing. We have been happily utilising trees around us for domestic, commer-cial, medical or religious purposes. The fresh neem and mango sprouts are used to usher in Ugadi and ease the occasional measles that might have struck the community.

The winter months in Namma Bengaluru can compete for one of the most beautiful cities in the world, by night. Most trees are dressed up in resplendent neon lights and festoons around Diwali. They are seldom taken out even after ushering in the New Year.  The lights nailed to the trunks of the trees look like a series of a new species of giant caterpillars climbing up the bald, leafless trees to meet the little bud like plastic bulbs draped on the nude branches high above during the day.

By the time we enter the second month of the year, tender sprouts appear magically on the trees and unfold a verdant canopy with flowers et al to celebrate spring. Pictures of nature’s glory are splashed by the social networking sites, print and visual media for all to see.

Water crisis

Come summer, the lush green foliage of the trees becomes the much sought umbrella of one and all when the sun shines relentlessly.

As for the trees, they are left to fend for themselves. They cannot expect too much of a city in the middle of a water crisis.

If the trees do think up of alternate solutions and send their roots deep within the bowels of the earth in the hope of finding groundwater, they will be sadly mistaken. For, they are ignorant about the zillion bore wells that have sucked out the life saving liquid.
When the much awaited rains do step in, they instill dread in the hearts of Bengalureans. The very trees who were their cooperative comrades through the year are looked upon as villains waiting to lay hands on their lives and properties.

Yes, the garden city is facing tree troubles. At the same time, we must also realise that trees are also facing troubles. Trees are being pruned to stumps in installments in the name of protecting the common man from facing possible dangers of trees brushing against electricity lines. The areas around the trees are dug to check, repair or install utility cables and pipes.

Never mind if the roots are cut, damaged or forced to absorb sewage. Scalding tar is poured around them during the road making process. Stifling cement is slapped around the base of the tree to contain it.

Nails are driven on the trunks to hold notices and serial bulbs. Wires are stapled onto its branches. Toxic paints are used to paint signs on them. The trees eventually become so weak that they fall at the first onslaught of a heavy wind. If some brave trees manage to live after all that, true blue Bengalureans take the survivor for granted till they are suitably debilitated by the next rainy season.

The damage has been done. It can be reversed. It is not enough if we plant saplings and nourish them. We must give them space, let them grow and most of all let them live!

Shackled Capabilities


These days, I cannot resist chuckling to myself when I pass a police station in Namma Bengaluru. The billboard in the premises triggers me into a muted convulsion. The writing in Kannada says, “There are chain thieves around. Beware of them.”

When I saw the impressive board for the first time, I read it aloud to my curious friend who could not read the lingo. Almost immediately, the driver of the auto in which we were travelling chimed in and said that truer words could not have been spoken. He added that the board spoke of the thieves ‘within’ the premises, including the catchers and the caught. His unexpected sarcastic wisecrack had us in splits.

Soon he turned serious and reeled out a dozen instances of chain snatching incidents which met their Waterloo in the area earmarked for public security. Although we were amused, we could not discount the earnestness that we detected in his voice.

We realised that the men in khaki largely fail to inspire respect in the general public. We were reminded of a family anecdote. When one of my uncles was selected by the police department to join as a sub-inspector, my straightforward grandfather categorically threatened to disown him, if he did take up the job.

We in the sub-continent seem to have little or no faith in our law and order system. That explains the reams of jokes on pot bellied policemen and their wayward ways. Our movies invariably picturise them rushing in the last leg of the climax and nabbing the culprits after the hero has bashed them up.

Recently, a news report in Deccan Herald published a story about 10 boys from Bihar, who worked as shoeshine boys in Kolkata. The boys had inadvertently come across a treasure chest which fell off a van belonging to a bank. They divided the spoils amongst themselves and went back to their native places, only to be nabbed by the long arm of the police and that too within a matter of a few days.

This incident is proof of the fact that our police system is perfectly capable of doing its duty efficiently in double-quick time. Perhaps, they were empowered to do so because there was no interference from political or financially sound circles. May be they did it because the perpetrators would not grease their palms. No matter what the reason, the mission was accomplished, truly and well. The incident holds mirror to the general opinion of the common man about our police.

Conversely, we as a nation also look up to upright officers like Kiran Bedi or H T Sangliana as the totem pole of integrity and duty consciousness. May their tribe increase!