Raining Beauty

 

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Source: Carmen Dragone’ carmendragone2@gmail.com [funonthenet] 

If These Don’t Crack You Up…

The evergreen classics:

 

 

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Work Smarter, Not Harder

Watch this short clip here, don’t miss.

Vide Gopalswamy

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So A Baba Was Born – A New Tale Of Comedy Of Errors

Part 1

It was about lunch time when Ravi got a call from Mohan.

‘Ravi, there could be a solution, heaven sent, to your problems!’

‘What are you saying?’

‘Look, I just heard a certain Mamooli Baba (a wise saintly man, a recluse) has come in on a bus from some place and is waiting for a bus to take him onwards to Lucknow. The word has gotten around and people are flocking to him to receive his blessings – it seems some of them know him from the past and they swear to his powers to bail them out of difficulties. So drop everything and rush to the mofussil bus-stand (serving rural areas) right away. With some luck you may be able to catch him before he goes away and seek his blessings and advice.’

‘Aren’t you coming?’

‘No, Ravi, I would’ve loved to; unfortunately the guys from HO are here today breathing down my neck. And listen, he…this Mamooli Baba is in ordinary clothes and not robed in saffron, no matted hair, no scared ash smeared on his forehead, no kumkum decked trident in hand, no entourage of chela’s (acolytes)….in fact he looks ordinary in all respects like our fathers. Probably that’s why the ‘Mamooli’ (ordinary). Conversing with him however gets a little tricky, I’m told; for, he talks in riddles expecting you to make sense. Very unlike other baba’s we’ve seen. So, rush…all the best…will catch up with you in the evening.‘

‘Mohan, just a minute. If this baba looks so unlike a baba, how do I recognize him at all?’

‘OMG, how dumb can you be? No wonder…’

‘Oh, shut up and tell me.’

‘Man, the bus-stand is not a very large place. Look for the crowd and there he would be in their midst, I’m sure…Must go now, bye.’

Ravi thought for a moment: Should he go? How can a baba from nowhere find a solution to a problem he could not crack with all his mettle? But then that’s what baba’s are made of, aren’t they? It’s not for nothing people flock to them for succour. What harm would it do if he did go?

Ravi was employed in a small branch of a good-sized country-wide transport company. He along with four of his colleagues reported to a branch-manager. Over the years, by dint of sheer hard work, he had grown to be the key person in the branch. Customers usually asked for him. The manager, new in his post, relied on Ravi to keep the branch going, at the same time keeping a check. It meant working late hours and over week-ends too. It didn’t help that three of his colleagues were women and it was against the company policy to hold women back after regular work-hours. And the fourth was a superannuated old employee charitably retained with some light work. To handle growth, a post of assistant-manager was recently sanctioned by the HO and the search was on to hire a suitable candidate. Ravi was disheartened his well-merited claim to the position was being completely overlooked. While his manager passed the buck to the HO, the reality was he did not make out a strong case to his superiors for Ravi’s promotion. Ravi got this input from his own sources in the HO and mentioned it to his manager several times in several ways. The manager did not seem to get the cue and make the necessary moves. Perhaps he needed more time to assess supervisory capabilities of the aspiranti. Should Ravi go over his head – a risky double-edged manoeuvre with uncertain outcome, should he apply for transfer to a larger branch notwithstanding the disruptive relocation on personal front or should he simply quit and join another player in the same space, negotiating better terms? Ravi remained undecided on the course to pursue.

And he wondered how would the baba know enough to guide him.  Finally he decided to check it out for whatever worth.

busstandWhen he reached the bus-stand, he could easily spot his target sitting on a cemented platform raised around a tree on a kerb.  Indeed he did look like a mamooli villager. And he was kind of getting ready to leave, collecting things about him into a bag he was carrying. As Mohan said, a little away from him there were clumps of people standing around, seeming to have had their meeting with the Baba and perhaps now pouring over his intriguing pronouncements.

 

Part 2

Ravi had no problems reaching his unlikely saviour right away.

Picssr.jpg

Baba, pranam. (Salutation to you, Baba)

Eh?

Mujhe raashta bathaiye na. (Won’t you show me the way?)

Kahaan jaana hai? Wahan deko, information counter hai, jaake pooch lo. Abhi meri bus aanewaali hain, mujhe jaane do. (Where do you want to go? See the information counter out there – go and ask them. Now let me go, my bus is due any moment)

Sirf do minute. Badi ummedh lekar aya hoon. Aap to jaante hai man khi bhath, muje badi kursi chahiye. (Only two minutes of your time, Baba. Have come to you with great hopes. You very well know what’s in my mind – I want to occupy the big kursi (the big chair))

Kursi? Lucknow jaane wali bus pakdo, Kursi me uthaar denge. Aur, ek hi Kursi hai, badi choti do naheen.

(Kursi? You catch the bus to Lucknow and they’ll drop you off at Kursi. And, there’s only one Kursi, no small or big).

A word of clarification may be in order here: Kursi is also the name of a place (in Barabanki district of UP).

Majaak chodiye Baba aur kuch tharkeeb bathayiye. Ghar me yeh bol aaya hoon ki jab tak kaam nahin banega, ghar nahin lautoonga. (Please don’t make fun of me; and instead, show me a way. I’ve come to you telling my wife I’ll not return home until I’ve had a solution)

Arre, kaise aadmi ho tum, aurath se ladkar bhagte ho? Kursi vursi chodo, ghar jao aur biwi ko kush karo tho sab teek ho jayega. (Hey, what kind of a man you’re – quarrelling with the wife and running away? Forget going to Kursi and all that, get back home, make your wife happy and everything will be alright)

Sab teek ho jayega? (Everything will be alright?)

Shaadi karke kitne saal hue? (How long have you been married?)

Panch. (Five years)

Abhi thak seekha naheen? Jao. Jaise kaha waise karo. Paagal kaheenka. Jao, sab teek ho jayega. Sabka ilaj biwi ko kush rakne me hai. Chalo, meri bus aagayee, my chala. (You still haven’t learned? Go and do like I said. Crazy guy, go, everything will be alright. The cure for all ills lies in keeping one’s wife happy. Leave me now, the bus has come, must go)

Dhanyavaadh, Baba. (Thank you, Baba)

‘Obviously this Baba, if he was one, was out of his depth in dealing with professional matters. Here I’m talking about my long-overdue promotion and he’s telling me to make my wife happy. Is there a message hidden in it? Doesn’t seem so. May be he had his successes sorting out domestic squabbles. But my problem is different,’ Ravi thought to himself as he made his way to his office.

That was that and all was forgotten until the following morning….

 

Part 3

At the breakfast table, hot ghee laden mooli-parathas (flat bread with radish thrown in with a glistening coat of clarified butter on top) sat piled up on his plate with a katori of dhal (lentils).

Abs heavenly – Ravi devoured the three-high pile at one go before one could say 1..2..3.

Smacking his lips, he let out a belch – what the heck, there wasn’t anyone around save his wife – and for a reason scripted by fate – it could be attributed to nothing else – Baba’s not-so-profound words came to his mind as a trigger for what ensued. Quite uncharacteristically though justifiably, he went gushing over the parathas:

‘At this rate, meri jan (my life), I can safely kick my job off and start a takeaway tiffin-service. We’ll be all-sold even before the stove cools…and be the talk of the town in no time…Of course, we need to dish out more kinds like methi (a kind of spinach), aloo (potato)…and soon we can do with some hired help….’

This was from a man who never looked away from his morning newspaper while eating off his plate at the table.

The wife was not very amused at the compliment and the visions of airy castles of entrepreneurship. The parathas had been the handiwork of a kind neighbour.

Feeling hot under her ‘collar’ and not being one of those vocal kind, the lady of the house presently decided her man – who remained completely oblivious of his blooper effecting quite the opposite of what the Baba had suggested – deserved nothing more than vanilla rice upma for lunch. For those of you not in the know, it’s an easy-to-make dish in South Indian kitchens, prepared by near-dry frying of broken rice embellished with, in its plain version, mustard seeds, finely chopped green chili and a smidgen of asafoetida for taste and flavour – a dish lowly ranked in preferences in many households. However what made to the lunchbox finally was more than rice upma and chutney, it was a left-forgotten-on-the-fire-for-a-while-longer upma along with – yes, you got it or rather Ravi – all those thin burnt scales lining the insides of the khadai (khaandhal in Tamizh, eaten with relish by some!) scraped out with evil-laced glee.

rice upma pinterest

It was a very busy and trying morning at the office. Finally when a completely exhausted Ravi dropped into his chair and pulled out his lunchbox, he was thwarted. The office attendant cum helper informed  him, in a manner of not-my-doing, of the manager’s new decree of the day – there was a reason you’ll see later for it to be issued on that day: lunch should be had in the small meeting room and not at one’s desk – of course after the manager had had his and cleared. To be fair to the authority, the reasons were reasonable – the scents and scraps left around were an open invitation for the rats to invade from outside, sure to cause havoc in that paper-inundated office.

The sharp edge of authority did nothing to improve Ravi’s foul mood. Visibly irritated, nevertheless left with no choice, he asked with faux politeness if the manager had finished his lunch and he could go now. The attendant could only shrug his shoulders to say don’t-shoot-me.

He took his box to the meeting room and opened it to find upma topped with khaandal.  Today he didn’t feel up to it. Closing the box and pushing it aside, he stomped out, in an apparent show of defiance against agents indeterminate, to find an eatery.

 

Part 4

Nothing unusual happened post-lunch at the office. Ravi returned to work with his steam somewhat spent seeing reason and time doing its trick.

At end of the day, he decided to shut shop – no extra hours today. When he packed up, he forgot to collect from the meeting room his lunchbox.

It was also the time for the manager to leave. An attendant, a different guy this time, collected the manager’s lunch-set from the meeting room, taking it to the latter’s car – managers in our land, like politicians, are wont to let someone else carry their stuff except when cash was involved.  New to the task, he could not tell Ravi’s box from the manager as he gathered the lunch containers from the meeting room; result: box too got a ride to the manager’s residence.

As it happened, the day had not started off well in the morning for the manager. The matter had been smouldering for some time now raising its nascent ugly head now and then. Just three months into the new posting for him, the wife did not like the town. She wanted him to move out. That organizations don’t move their people around so fast because their spouses did not take a shine to the place failed to make an impression on her. The manager was obviously reluctant to pop up the request so soon on the heels of his promotion-posting. These blow-up’s – had not moved to the centre-stage yet – always ended inconclusively with a promise to be back on the agenda at no notice.  This was it – the bad start, and the reason for those decrees to go out on that day. Happens to even the most seasoned among us, no?

While cleaning up the lunch-set for use the following day, the wife spotted the interloper. When she opened it and saw its contents, she squealed in delight recognizing it for what it was.

‘You mean you got this just for me? How? You don’t get them around here. Who gave you? So sweet!’

The positively-not-sweet easy-to-make rice upma, a poor cousin of the more seductive rava upma, with its kaandhal was/is not a commonly served dish outside of a South Indian kitchen, ironically making it a rarity. Forget about being served anywhere, none but an ardent gourmet, outside the community, would not even know of its humble existence.

Our lady, a first-order foodie, took a mouthful of kaandhal right there, crunching and savouring it to its last, scaling new heights of sensory bliss. She also saw immense possibilities beyond the immediate.  It was a no call to Holmes to deduce the presence, in their circle of acquaintances, of a hitherto unknown household preparing authentic South Indian dishes. In this ‘Ah’ moment, even the discovery of an alien civilization on a distant planet would elicit no more from her than a raised eyebrow. Obsessed with South Indian preparations, she was already seeing visions of idli-molagapodi, vada-sambhar, chutneys, adai, sevai, puttu, kai-mrukku, payasam, bisibela, pongal…All –  products of a thoroughbred South Indian kitchen that had become a distant dream for her thanks to this woebegone new posting far removed from all those South Indian friends she had to leave behind.

si snacks.jpg

Now it was the manager’s turn to see potentially interesting possibilities. He would, first thing in the morning, rework the case for Ravi’s promotion. For a price, of course – nothing as crude as money changing hands, only an extra lunchbox even if small and occasional, for him from Ravi’s kitchen. House visits and woman to woman tête-à-tête would not be far off to happen.

Needless to say Ravi became a convert overnight and swore by Mamooli Baba. Amazing, how his not-so-profound words – in fact downright ordinary – when followed changed his life like a miracle! May be it was a miracle. How appearances could be so deceptive…this Baba packing power like a dynamite and yet…!

He hoped he would be able have Baba’s unhurried darshan once again someday.

 

Part 5

About three months later, one day, Mohan called. Ravi was thrilled to hear Mamooli Baba was coming into the town for a visit.

Ravi with his wife carried a tray full of offerings (fruits and flowers) to where Baba was put up. When they reached the head of the queue, they humbly laid down the tray at Baba’s feet, paid their obeisance’s with bowed heads and had darshan to their heart’s content. Pressed by the queue from behind, they had to move away, his wife suggesting they seek a private audience with him, if possible.

If this was Mamooli Baba, Ravi wondered, whom had he meet. Surely he too was no less a baba after the miracle he had wrought in Ravi’s life.

That instant marked the birth of Anjaan Baba (Unknown Baba), collecting over time stories of his immense grace and prowess.

While Ravi kept his eyes peeled out and ears pricked up for any news of Anjaan Baba’s whereabouts, the man last seen sitting on the cemented platform at the bus-stand months ago, perchance taking Mamooli Baba’s place moments after the latter had taken off to continue his onward journey, was presently playing with his grandson in a small village to the north of Lucknow.

 

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Images: Himachal Pradesh – Chamba – Bus Stand from Flickr, An old man in Vrindavan from  Flickr photos tagged jitender, Upma from Pinterest and South Indian snacks from crazymasalafood.com

Picture Puzzle: Find What’s Missing!

Simple, eh?

Here you go:

Amiss

It’s in plain sight!  What??? How could it be when it’s missing?

Well…Give up, like I did?

See ‘Comments’ to find the elusive.

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Source: brighside.me

 

 

 

Wives And GF’s, Laugh It Off, Please…

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Balasubramanian Bk‎Friends of TN BJP.jpg

 

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Musings Of An Idle Philosopher

Lion

 

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Source: Pinterest; Photo: ‘Cool Cat’ by Isak Pretorius, South Africa. Highly commended in the ‘Animal Portraits’ of ‘Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2018’ contest.