Saturday, November 30, 2013

One Day Trip to Chilika Lake

Last weekend few of my colleagues and myself were at Bhubaneswar. We had one of the LDP sessions scheduled on Friday. We decided to go for a trip to Chilika Lake on Saturday. We started our journey at 7AM in the morning from the guest house in Bhubaneswar.

As we were moving away from the concrete buildings and towards the Chilika, the impact that cyclone Phailin has made was becoming more and more clearer. In the sides of the road (NH-5), most of the trees were uprooted and dried.

We reached Balugaon around 9 AM and had our breakfast there. We had almost all type of snacks, like Idli, Bara, Sambar, Chatni, Uttapam and sweets etc. We decided not to waste time and went straight to Chilika (near Rambha). Due to lack of time, we decided to cover only few points in Chilika, which are close by or on the way to Kalijai Temple. We booked a boat, which took Rs. 1400/- for visiting Nalaban Bird Sanctuary and Kalijai temple.

The starting phase of the journey inside Chilika was more interesting. We had the fear of getting drowned in the water of Chilika. While boarding the boat, a little shake in the boat was also frightening. All of us just went to the middle of the boat and sat quiet. As the boat started moving away from the shore, we build up the confidence that we can move a little inside the boat, keeping the balance of the boat proper. After 20 minutes of the journey, the shore was out of our sight and all we could see was the blue water of the lake.

The scenery of fishermen doing fishing was amazing. Prior to that I had never seen fishermen in action in deep sea from such a close angle. The Sun was rising above our head and the water was glittering. We had few Camera shots on the boats. As we were entering into the lake, we had to cross many "Chingdi gheries". We saw different type of birds in these gheries. We went to Nalaban Bird Sanctuary, but unfortunately we did not have the permission from forest department to enter into the water of the sanctuary. The patrol guard refused our entry and we just had a look from the outside. We also could not visit the islands inside the sanctuary.

We asked the boat driver to move towards Kalijai temple. On the way, he pointed us out at one famous island in Chilika, the Parikuda island. We saw the fishermen cooking food in their boats, which was a rare experience. On the way to Kalijai temple, we had few unexpected guests to watch. Though we were not in the area, where Irawaddy Dolphins are generally seen, we got the rare sight of 3 among them, waving on the water. We just stopped our boat to take a better look. Once they disappears from our eye, we continued our journey.
We reached the island, where Kalijai Temple is situated, around 12 O'clock. We went to the temple and visited its surroundings. We came to know that, cyclone Phailin had destroyed all the food stalls, shops and also left its foot prints by damaging the surroundings. We had some sweets and soft drinks there along with some group and individual picture. We spent around 45 minutes in the island and came back to the boat.

The boat almost covered 270 degree around the island from the water. The return journey took us very less time, around 35 minutes, as we came back straight to the starting point. By the time we reach the shore, we were madly hungry. We went the famous dhaba "Chilika Dhaba", which is famous for its quality of food. We had our lunch there and came back to Bhubaneswar.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Kolkata Visit : Kalighat, Alipore Zoo, Victoria Memorial, Birla Planetarium, Science City, Dakshineswar and Belur Math

    This year during Durga Puja, 10th Oct to 14th Oct, I was in Kolkata. Few of my relatives have come to Kolkata for visiting. My role was like a guide for them through-out their stay in Kolkata.

    Kolkata is famous for Durga Puja and Kali Puja. On the very day they reached Kolkata we visited few Durga Puja Mandaps near Shobha-bazar, Ultadanga, Sribhumi and Kestopur. The theme of the puja mandaps and the light decorations were outstanding. The famous puja at Sribhumi has attracted thousand of visitors. We have wait in the queue at least for 1 hour to get a glimpse of goddess Durga. Few other interesting themes were, "mandir in jungle", "volcano on earth", "Belur math model" and "Kedarnath disaster and a view" etc.

    On 11th morning, we visited Kalighat, a Kali Pitha. We went to sobha-bazar by bus, assuming that the metro rail will be running. But during puja, the metro rail had changed and trains were running from 2 PM on-wards. We took a cab to Kalighat from Shibha-bazar, which took around 30 minutes. By the time we reached the temple, the queue has become very long. We saw, if we will go in the queue, we will have to stand in the Sun and spend around 2-3 hours in the queue. To save time for visiting, we contacted a local pundit and with his help we somehow manage to enter into the queue and visit the deity (Kali mata). Do not think the help from pundit was free of cost. As in the case of other shrines in India, here also, the pundits out-side the temple will ask you to perform different puja / rituals and ask for money during sankalp / oath taking in the puja. So, please be careful, other wise face embarrassing situations.

    We took a cab from Kalighat to Alipore Zoo, which took around 20 minutes. We spent a good amount of time there. As I have visited Alipore Zoo earlier, it was easy for us to see most the zoo again and guide others. The guide map for the zoo is also available at the entrance of the zoo. The major portion of the zoo covers different kind of birds, deer and tigers. Other animals are like zebra, chimpanzee, rhino, hippo, giraffe, elephant, leopards, ostrich, emu, black-buck, monkey, beer, crocodiles etc. 

    Around 3 PM we went to Victoria Memorial cum Museum. It is a good place for students and people who wants to know the history of India. The visiting charge for us (Indians) was 10 rupees. Due to lack of time we could not spent good amount of time in the garden and in the museum. 

    Our next target was Birla Planetarium, which was just a walking distance from Victoria Memorial Palace. As we reached at wrong time (5:30 PM), we have to see a show in Bengali language, which most of us could not understand. Somehow, we are able to relate few words with the images shown. The 4:30 PM show was in Hindi and 6:30 PM show was in English. In my opinion and compared to other planetariums, the show time is very less (around 25 minute).

    As the day was totally hectic, we decided to come back home. We went to Rabindra Sadan and took Metro Rail to Shobha-bazar. Due to puja time, the metro was fully crowded. Somehow we managed to get in and get down of the metro rail. For having a good metro experience, people should travel in off season.

    Next day, 12th Oct, was astami puja goddess Durga and women and girls celebrate this with great devotion. We also went for puja. In the evening we visited few puja pandels. In home we enjoyed movie on my laptop.

    On 13th Oct, we went to Science City. The day was a combination of learning experience and enjoyment. We visited the science park and had enjoyed a lot. Then visited evolution park. The major attraction was the dynamotion. For young and adults, it was a source of knowledge related to science and for children a game point. The illusion section and fish aquarium section was really awesome. Then we went to mirror magic room. Though most of us could not understand much, we enjoyed a lot. Visited space center and then earth exploration building. We took an AC bus(Garia to airport bound bus) to come back home.

    On 14th Oct, we visited Dakshineswar and Belur Math. We went to Dakshineswar by cab, which took around 35 minutes from Ultadanga. Visiting Dakshineswar was a pleasant experience. People are going to the main temple in the queue for puja. For only glimpse of goddess, a separate queue was made. Spent a little time near ghat of river Hoogli. There was a temple for Ramakrishna Paramhansha. We had our breakfast in Dakshineswar and to Belur by bus around 11 AM. Spent a little but quality time in side the Matha main building. As puja was celebrated there, they have made arrangements for prasada. Matha got closed at 12 Noon. After visiting the other temples in the matha area, we came back home by bus.In the evening, we saw the bhasani procession of goddess Durga. With this, it completes my 4 day visit of different places in Kolkata.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Socrates Triple Filter Test

There was a message from the HR manager to the employees of a company. The message is about Socrates' Triple Filter Test for word of mouth information. In the corporate environment, people used to hear multiple things about colleagues and others. In order to keep your self away from unnecessary information, Socrates' Triple Filter Test is a very good tool. Below is the story  :

In ancient Greece , Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem.

One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, "Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

"Hold on a minute," Socrates replied. "Before telling me anything, I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."

"Triple filter?"

 "That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say. That's why I call it the triple filter test."

 "The first filter is TRUTH. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man said, "actually I just heard about it and..."

 "All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of GOODNESS. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?"

 "No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of USEFULNESS. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"

I would like my friends to use this simple filters, each time you come across any loose talk about any of your near and dear friends or neighbor.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Is Not My Problem

       Now-a-days, we see many people saying: "This is not my problem". Be it a problem in the colony, where we live or the village or city to which we belong. In every facet of life, we are linked with others in our society. When one of us is threatened, all of us are at risk. If we do not support and encourage each other and behave like the neighbors of the mouse, then all of us are going to fall prey to the problem. Let's revisit the well known story: "The Mouse Fable
 A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package... "What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered -- he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning.  "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said,  "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"  The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it."

The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"  The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse.  I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose. But wish you well; be assured you are in my prayers." So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap... alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound  of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.  The snake bit the farmer's wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.  But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.  The farmer's wife did not get well; she died.

So, many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat  for all of them. The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, Remember, when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.  We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another  and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The evil you do remains with you! The good you do, comes back to you!

Let's start with a story :

A woman enjoyed the practice of baking bread for members of her family. She also made an extra one for a hungry passerby. She kept the extra bread on the window sill, for whosoever would take it away.

Everyday, a hunchback came and took away the bread. Instead of expressing gratitude, he muttered the following words as he went his way: “The evil you do, remains with you! The good you do, comes back to you!”
This went on, day after day. Everyday, the hunchback came, picked up the bread and uttered the words: “The evil you do remains with you! The good you do, comes back to you!”
The woman felt irritated. “Not a word of gratitude,” she said to herself. “Everyday this hunchback utters this jingle! What does he mean?”
One day, exasperated, she decided to do away with him. “I shall get rid of this hunchback,” she said. And what did she do? She added poison to the bread she prepared for him! However, as she was about to place the loaf on the window sill, her hands trembled. “What is this I am doing?” she said to herself.
Immediately, she threw the bread into the fire, prepared another one and placed it on the window sill. As usual, the hunchback came, picked up the bread and muttered the words: “The evil you do, remains with you! The good you do, comes back to you!” The hunchback proceeded on his way, blissfully unaware of the war raging in the mind of the woman.
The woman had a son who had gone to a distant place to seek his fortune. For many months, she had no news of him and she prayed fervently for his safe return.
That evening, there was a knock on the door. As she opened it, she was surprised to find her son standing in the doorway. He had grown thin and lean. His garments were tattered and torn. He was hungry, starved and weak.
As he saw his mother, he said, “Mom, it’s a miracle I’m here. While I was but a mile away, I was so famished that I collapsed. I would have died, but just then an old hunchback passed by. I begged of him for a morsel of food, and he was kind enough to give me a whole bread. As he gave it to me, he said, “This is what I eat everyday. Today, I shall give it to you, for your need is greater than mine!”
As the mother heard those words, her face turned pale. She leaned against the door for support. She remembered the poisoned bread that she had made that morning. Had she not burnt it in the fire, it would have been eaten by her own son, and he would have lost his life!
It was then that she realized the significance of the words: “The evil you do, remains with you! The good you do, comes back to you!”

Our actions and words are born from our thoughts. Every thought is like a seed with potential to give rise to more such thoughts again. This why it is so important to be vigilant of our thoughts.

When we think thoughts of harming others, it is like tossing a dagger at the sky. Sooner or later it falls back on us. When we think thoughts of supporting others, it is like tossing fragrant flowers at the sky. Sooner or later they return to adorn us!

A simple way to treat negative thinking is by considering such thoughts like a shepherd treats his wandering sheep. Firmly, but lovingly he brings the sheep back into the flock.
We can use the word “Cancel” in our mind every time our thoughts wander to subjects we do not wish to dwell on. It is a simple but effective remedy!

Just like the carpenter shapes wood, the wise shape their lives. Let us keep the powerful moral of this story in mind and mindfully shape a wonderful life.

The evil you do, remains with you! The good you do, comes back to you!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Resource Utilization

Resource utilization

 Buddha, one day, was in deep thought about the worldly activities and the ways of instilling goodness in human beings. One of his disciples approached him and said humbly " Oh my teacher ! While you are so much concerned about the world and others, why don't you look in to the welfare and needs of your own disciples also."

Buddha : "OK.. Tell me how I can help you"

Disciple : "Master! My attire is worn out and is beyond the decency to wear the same. Can I get a new one, please?"

Buddha found the robe indeed was in a bad condition and needed replacement. He asked the store keeper to give the disciple  a new robe to wear on. The disciple thanked Buddha and retired to his room. A while later, he went to his disciple's place and asked him "Is your new attire comfortable? Do  you need anything more ?"

Disciple : "Thank you my Master. The attire is indeed very comfortable. I need nothing more"

Buddha : "Having got the new one, what did you do with your old attire?"

Disciple : "I am using it as my bed spread"

Buddha : "Then.. hope you have disposed off your old bed spread"

Disciple : " No.. no.. master. I am using my old bedspread as my window curtain"

Buddha : " What about your old Curtain?"

Disciple : "Being used to handle hot utensils in the kitchen"

Buddha : "Oh.. I see.. Can you tell me what did they do with the old cloth they used in Kitchen"

Disciple : "They are being used to wash the floor."

Buddha :  " Then, the old rug being used to wash the floor...?"

Disciple: " Master, since they were torn off so much, we could not find any better use, but to use as a
twig in the oil lamp, which is right now lit in your study room...."

Buddha smiled in contentment and left for his room.

If not to this degree of utilization, can we at least attempt to find the best use of all our resources at home and in office?

We need to handle wisely, all the resources earth has bestowed us with ….both natural and material so that they can be saved for the generations to come.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Useful Run Commands in Windows

        Here is a huge list of commands for accessing an application or program in windows environment from run window. 
  To Access….
Run Command
Accessibility Controls  
Accessibility Wizard  
Add Hardware Wizard
Add/Remove Programs
Administrative Tools
control admintools
Adobe Acrobat (if installed)  
Adobe Designer (if installed)  
Adobe Distiller (if installed)  
Adobe ImageReady (if installed)  
Adobe Photoshop (if installed)  
Automatic Updates
Bluetooth Transfer Wizard
Certificate Manager
Character Map
Check Disk Utility
Clipboard Viewer
Command Prompt
Component Services
Computer Management
Control Panel  
Date and Time Properties
DDE Shares
Device Manager
Direct X Control Panel (If Installed)*
Direct X Troubleshooter
Disk Cleanup Utility
Disk Defragment
Disk Management
Disk Partition Manager
Display Properties
control desktop
Display Properties
Display Properties (w/Appearance Tab Preselected)
control color
Dr. Watson System Troubleshooting Utility
Driver Verifier Utility
Event Viewer
Files and Settings Transfer Tool  
File Signature Verification Tool
Firefox (if installed)  
Folders Properties
control folders
control fonts
Fonts Folder
Free Cell Card Game
Game Controllers
Group Policy Editor (XP Prof)
Hearts Card Game
Help and Support  
Iexpress Wizard
Indexing Service
Internet Connection Wizard  
Internet Explorer  
Internet Properties
Internet Setup Wizard  
IP Configuration (Display Connection Configuration)
ipconfig /all
IP Configuration (Display DNS Cache Contents)
ipconfig /displaydns
IP Configuration (Delete DNS Cache Contents)
ipconfig /flushdns
IP Configuration (Release All Connections)
ipconfig /release
IP Configuration (Renew All Connections)
ipconfig /renew
IP Configuration (Refreshes DHCP & Re-Registers DNS)
ipconfig /registerdns
IP Configuration (Display DHCP Class ID)
ipconfig /showclassid
IP Configuration (Modifies DHCP Class ID)
ipconfig /setclassid
Java Control Panel (If Installed)
Java Control Panel (If Installed)
Keyboard Properties
control keyboard
Local Security Settings
Local Users and Groups
Logs You Out Of Windows
Malicious Software Removal Tool  
Microsoft Access (if installed)  
Microsoft Chat
Microsoft Excel (if installed)  
Microsoft Frontpage (if installed)  
Microsoft Movie Maker  
Microsoft Paint  
Microsoft Powerpoint (if installed)  
Microsoft Word (if installed)  
Microsoft Syncronization Tool  
Minesweeper Game
Mouse Properties
control mouse
Mouse Properties
Nero (if installed)  
Network Connections
control netconnections
Network Connections
Network Setup Wizard
Nview Desktop Manager (If Installed)
Object Packager
ODBC Data Source Administrator
On Screen Keyboard
Opens AC3 Filter (If Installed)
Outlook Express  
Password Properties
Performance Monitor
Performance Monitor
Phone and Modem Options
Phone Dialer  
Pinball Game  
Power Configuration
Printers and Faxes
control printers
Printers Folder
Private Character Editor
Quicktime (If Installed)
Quicktime Player (if installed)  
Real Player (if installed)  
Regional Settings
Registry Editor
Registry Editor
Remote Access Phonebook  
Remote Desktop
Removable Storage
Removable Storage Operator Requests
Resultant Set of Policy (XP Prof)
Scanners and Cameras
Scheduled Tasks
control schedtasks
Security Center
Shared Folders
Shuts Down Windows
Sounds and Audio
Spider Solitare Card Game
SQL Client Configuration
System Configuration Editor
System Configuration Utility
System File Checker Utility (Scan Immediately)
sfc /scannow
System File Checker Utility (Scan Once At Next Boot)
sfc /scanonce
System File Checker Utility (Scan On Every Boot)
sfc /scanboot
System File Checker Utility (Return to Default Setting)
sfc /revert
System File Checker Utility (Purge File Cache)
sfc /purgecache
System File Checker Utility (Set Cache Size to size x)
sfc /cachesize=x
System Information  
System Properties
Task Manager
         I hope the list will be of help to many. I have not verified the commands. Hence, request the visitors to use cautiously.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Would you have made the same choice?

        What would you do? make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

"When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued : "I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child."

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?" I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth innings."

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!"

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball. The smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. 

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, "Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay"

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third! Shay, run to third!"

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, "Shay, run home! Run home!"

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team

"That day", said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world".

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

Would you have made the same choice as the boys?

Selected Cartoons of R. K. Laxman

        Below are some of the selected cartoons of the famous cartoonist, R. K. Laxman.