Thursday, 31 May 2012

Ethiopian Stamps depicting Emperor Haile Selassie and his role in developing the country

Stamps often describe the achievements of great leaders heads of state, kings and emperors. Emperor Haile Selassie will be known for his defiance of the Italian occupying forces during the second world war. He was one of the founding members of the League of Nations a precursor of today’s United Nations, and the non-aligned movement. He was also a well know liberal who  opened up Ethiopia to the whole world.  The Emperor also initiated the modernisation of the country in the form of developing railways, airports, air travel, development of the Massawa sea port, and of course education. During the reign of Emperor Haile Selasie it is said that Ethiopia was the land of milk and honey! His reign ended in 1975 when he was overthrown by a military junta, in a revolution that  introduced the ideals of Socialism.

The Blue Nile falls also known as Tiss- Issat in Amharic, “water that smokes” is a well known tourist destination. The stamp pasted above attempts to showcase the Blue Nile falls.


The Lake Tana is said to be one of the sources of the Blue Nile. It is located in the province of Kaffa. There are a lot of islands on the lake. The lake Tana has a lot of religious importance. It is said that whenever their is an upheaval in the country the Ark of the Covenant is shifted from Axum to one of the islands on lake Tana. Amazing isn’t it?
The Mount Alamata in the north is a rather steep mountain on the way from Addis to Desie posed a rather serious challenge to the engineers who built roads connecting the capital to the Northern most tip of the country. The hairpin curves are rather difficult to negotiate and you need to have a stomach for them.
Emperor Haile Selassie was particularly concerned about literacy and this stamp pictures a gentlemen trying to teach a lady the Amharic alphabets which start with: ba, bu be, bo …etc.
A lot was done by Emperor Haile Selassie to organise the banking sector in the country. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia had an important role to play in facilitating trade between Ethiopia and other countries of the world.

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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Should Administrators place blind faith on external or visiting Consultants?

There are a few strict no nos. for school administrators today and the greatest is for an administrator  to place excess trust and faith in  external Consultants, for such is the trend today that we outsource most of our work. One area in which administrators tend to outsource their responsibilities is in  I.T. and Computers. In many cases an Administrator who is not tech savvy, or even aware about computers, gets taken for a ride! Once the consultant becomes aware of his client’s lack of knowledge in computers, he begins to take advantage. The first thing that the school administrator should note before taking delivery of computers supplied by the consultant is whether the Operating System is genuine. After checking the originality of the O.S. it should be verified whether the genuine office software has been installed. Often the supplier might fob the client with an open source office software which will not work in the long run! Thus it makes good sense to get a Genuine Office software installed on the machines. After this, another important essential software is a genuine anti-virus software which should be update able on the net. After this basic software has been installed, it has to be seen whether syllabus related software packages have been provided by the Consultant or supplier. Some more syllabus related software could be Tally, Coral Draw, Adobe Photoshop…and so on!
Another latest fad or trend today is for school managements to appoint so called educational consultants to improve the standard of the school. I have known of one such consultant who rather cleverly would ask the teachers for problems and he would make the teachers then suggest their own solutions. What we all found most strange was that this consultant never offered his own solutions or perhaps even suggest some alternative or perhaps even some advice! It was rumored that this gentleman’s consultancy had resulted in the nearly shutting down of a school in Rohini, Delhi! This consultant would visit the school once a week and by the end of the year his visits had resulted in an increase of internal bickering and discord amongst the staff members. The Management finally woke up to what was going on and then discontinued the services of the so called Educational consultant!
So then does it mean that all consultants are out for a killing? Answer would be no, we can’t generalize the former query, but then it still makes good sense for the school administrator to make his own decisions and wisdom. As far as the need for employing an I.T. consultant, well it makes good sense for the Administrator of the school to appoint an M.C.A. from a good university who can help in the setting up of a computer lab, and then also work as a computer teacher. The role of a visiting Education Consultant can also be done away by appointing a permanent Counselor, preferably a post graduate in Psychology,The Counselor can also take active teaching duties in the subjects he or she is qualified to teach.
Excess dependence on visiting Consultants might prove to be detrimental in the long run. It is better to develop in-house consultants from within the existing teaching and clerical staff. Having in service work shops for staff is very important and should not be ignored whether they are subject based, or based on general life-skills! Most Administrators in the urban areas or metros are I.T./Computer Savvy, but there are still a large number of Administrators who are completely ignorant about computers. For them, I would suggest that they should go in for a crash course in computer basics! Doing so would be cheaper in the long run. One of my acquaintances once told me about a  visiting computer consultant who visited his school from another state. He was very expensive because the onus of accommodating him in one of the most expensive hotels rested on the school itself. To make matters worse he had a huge unassailable appetite, and a loud voice, and didn’t seem to do really much. The accounting software  supplied was full of glitches and all blame was put on the poor clerk who fed data into the computer. The fact that this fellow came from another state meant that problems that required his attention were resolved after a gap of one month! The Consultant ended up botching the installation of the CCTVS in the school so much so that more than half of cameras had stopped working within a month, and the SMPS of three CPUs. caught fire within three months! This consultant was even privy to some of the administrative secrets of the management and boasted that he even advised them on important policy matters this because his constant presence close to a defective computer meant that he could hear everything that was being said!

Ultimately, I have heard of the story where this particularly cunning visiting consultant had the temerity of fitting cameras and mics almost in every nook and corner in schools and offices where he went. The images recorded through his hidden cameras and the voices recorded on them resulted in the downfall of an important personality in Delhi. Now this particular person is reveling in  what he has done. I can only add that one has to be very careful when giving your computers and networking to an external consultant who has no accountability towards the organization other than the person who might have hired him!

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Ghaziabad Sky-Line

A few days back I had the opportunity of visiting Ghaziabad and on a whim went out for a drive in the night. I was however surprised note that only few people were around. Even some of the popular eating joints wore a deserted look by 9:30 p.m. It could also be that because of the extreme heat wave prevailing, now wanted to venture out doors. Aside from some heavy traffic of the main roads there were fewer cars moving around. Moreover, most of the important buildings were unlit, and it seemed as though this was the result of power shortages! Nevertheless I did take a few photographs of the older Ghaziabad area.
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This is a view taken from one of the many fly-overs that have come up in Ghaziabad, and the view is of the Volga Palace, Bhaj Gopalan Banquet Hall, a well lighted building.
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By ten O’ clock in the night it seemed as if it was winding up time for most of fast food joints, and even the Ice-Cream wallas seemed to have abandoned their Ice-cream carts in preparation of going off to sleep! The intersection adjacent to the Santosh Dental Hospital also bore a deserted look by 10:30 p.m. This is one of the most important intersections in the older part of Ghaziabad. In any case it seems that Ghaziabad is a city which sleeps early! Is it because of the extreme heat wave conditions, or is it the result of power failures, or is it old age wisdom that makes this important city wind up early?

Friday, 25 May 2012

Sweet Dreams!

2012-05-23 22.30.27

While the whole world winds down to sleep,
A weary destitute mother begs for a few more coins.
Her two angels, weary lie down curled closed together
To share the sweet dreams offered by sweet merciful sleep!

On the foot-path in deep slumber they sleep while
People rush home to sleep in comfy beds in secure homes!
Some of them are weary after a busy day of slogging and pushing files,
While this mother and her two children are weary after a day of begging!

We thank our lucky stars that God gave us homes
To return to but we are also reminded of the destitute mother
And her two children who were not so lucky! So pray we to God,to
Give them Grace , that they might  wake up to a better, smiling tomorrow!

And so the whole world goes off to sleep,
Wealthy and  destitute, some in comfy beds, and
Others on foot-paths, all into sweet sweet  sleep lulled,
To forget their weariness by the kind, all encompassing night!

Though the day differentiates between the  wealthy
And destitute,  the coming of the merciful night  gives them all
A bountiful bouquet of sweet dreams  of a world of peace and plenty,
All brought together under one blanket of rest that all encompasses!

The destitute dream of a world where they are kings,
And the rich dream of expansions, takeovers, and profit!
They all, in their different ways are tied together by  one knot,
Bound by a night that doesn’t differentiate between rich and poor!

 2012-05-23 22.39.23                               IMG_8204

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Sunday, 20 May 2012

It is not about vindictiveness but forgiveness!

It seems somewhere, down the road we have become rather vindictive, revengeful,spiteful and yet we call ourselves Christians. We are baptised as infants, and then as we enter our teens we are confirmed. Confirmation becomes more  of a grand social event, and our entry into the club is guaranteed. It is a lifelong membership! But then the moot question is, are we fit to be called, “Christians”? Do we remember the vows made by our parents on our behalf during baptism, or, do we remember the statements of re-affirmation made by us during the Confirmation Ceremony? The answer is, no! We go on with our lives, school passes by and then comes college,and after college, we enter into professions of our choice! Somehow, down the road we forget all the vows we made before the alter and become as vindictive, revengeful,and malicious as ever! Even highly educated and enlightened professionals become vindictive and malicious towards those who they think are trying to, “Cross Swords” with them. Once this feeling of insecurity of the feeling of being threatened enters their minds they become the most malicious and spiteful of all Christians!”
The motto of of a school where I once served reads, “With Love Serve One Another!” Somehow we have forgotten the message of Christianity which is to serve one another with love,and instead we have started serving our own selfish egotistic selves forgetting the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross specifically for the forgiveness of our sins. By being spiteful and vindictive towards one another we are only crucifying Jesus Christ again and again, and how heartless we are to prolong his suffering on the Cross! We keep forgetting that New Testament is all about a forgiving God, God who sent his only son so that he could suffer for the forgiveness of all mankind. Instead we seem to favour the angry God who cast out Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden with the following words: Genesis, chapter 3:16,17,18,: “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception (To Eve) – cursed is the ground for thy sake (to Adam) – Thou shalt eat of the herb of the field”. In Genesis 3: 23-24 we are told, “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden – So he drove out the man”. The book of Hebrew 12:29, refers to God as a, “Consuming fire”. The message seems to be clear to all of us human beings to beware of being vindictive, revengeful and malicious towards each other lest God should consume us in a fire of wrath, if we are vindictive towards each other then how much more wrathful would God be towards us! But then we forget that in the New Testament, he is a more forgiving God: Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Spitefulness and revenge do not become us as Christian Stewards, and everyone has a mission today and this includes the laity! So many of our Christians are holding responsible positions in the society but  they do not take up their roles as stewards seriously, and this is because they get mired in the material world of intrigue, crossing of swords and even moon-lighting! Every Christian professional should set an example of humility, and forgiveness as exemplified by the life of Jesus Christ! Going to Church on Sundays is not enough to make us Christians, nor just boasting about our knowledge of  verses and lines from the Bible! We need to meditate and introspect to see where we have gone wrong.Unfortunately, the higher we progress professionally, the more vindictive and revengeful we become! Little do we realise that the higher we progress professionally, the greater is our responsibility as Stewards to exemplify the true spirit of forgiveness, salvation, redemption, and  love as enshrined in the New Testament. We should not be spiteful and revengeful towards each other lest we should draw the Wrath of God on to us! Instead of serving one another with love we are jealous and vindictive towards each other, and full of malice towards each other! It seems as if our motto has become, “With Malice Serve One Another!”

Friday, 18 May 2012

Gurgaon, the city that never sleeps!

The once sleepy town of Gurgaon has come a long way from what it was once upon a time!there is no looking back for the Millennium City as Gurgaon is now referred to! What were once farmlands and covered with acacia trees and scrub have now come up with some of the most well designed buildings! Today Gurgaon looks particularly fascinating at night, what all those lights and neon signs. In fact, some of the advertisements come to life at night when the neon lights are switched on.

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It is amazing how this town which went off to sleep early now remains awake till late at night, what with street vendors continuing to sell their wares till late at night. Apparently, as more and more professionals work on late night shifts, especially in call centres, it seems as though pubs, fast food joints, and street stalls will continue to do brisk business. As it is, Gurgaon seems to be more peaceful at night because their is less of that mad rush that we have during the daytime, when their is hardly any space to walk!

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Of course the roads are still crowded with commuters zipping on to homes from places of work. There is always a great rush on the roads of Gurgaon even till late at night!



Gurgaon is also an entertainment hub with a large number of PVRs. or cinema halls, and of course you have the famous Kingdom of Dreams open theatre which hosted the famous play Zangoora! The hotels offer sumptuous buffets which include drinks. The visitor can gorge himself on the unlimited servings of Gourmet foods till dawn!

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From a sleepy town of many years back, Gurgaon has now become a city that never sleeps!

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No wonder with all the famous brands setting up show rooms here, it is clear that Gurgaon is the city to be in!
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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Money Talks-Money Matters!

Of all things that can motivate people to change, Money seems to be one such catalyst which prompts a sudden and rather distinct transformation of character! This change can be seen mostly in upstarts and those who have never had a surplus of this essential element! A few common jokes doing the rounds in Gurgaon are related to some folk who had sold their farmland for a huge sum of money and really did not know what to do with it. A few bought Mitsubishi Pajeros, BMWs. and a host of luxury cars whose ground clearance is so low that the underside always scrapes against speed breakers and humps on uneven surfaces and roads! There is also this interesting story about a village Uncle, Taou who goes around in a premium S.U.V. smoking a hookah with the A.C. running and one of the windows lowered!

The effect of a sudden flow of lucre on lesser educated people can be understood, but then its effect on the more educated and so called, “Enlightened” people is even more intriguing! I have observed how a sudden turn of favourable luck, and the promotion thereby to a higher and more prestigious position has changed the character of a person I have known for not less than fifteen years! The prospect of earning more money and the greed for more makes such people more and more ruthless, so much so that old acquaintances are passed over for those who can offer better monetary benefits! I have observed how such people begin to ignore even those friends who might have saved their lives from deadly diseases like dengue!

Unfortunately, the wearing of premium Tag Heuer watches or Rhodium based designer jewellery or driving a premium S.U.V. or an expensive suit doesn’t really cover up the defects and weaknesses in one’s character! The other day I was amazed to see a tall handsome man getting out of a swanky premium car. He had put on  premium clothes with designer labels and was wearing some expensive jewellery! what astounded me however, was that when he began talking to his female companion it was in a rather rustic and crude guttural tone! I doubt whether he could say even a few words in English!

But then to come back to my acquaintance of so many years, well, I have observed that in place of his humbleness and patience of yore, he is today restless, overbearing, impatient, rude, lost in his thoughts, conceited, and very proud! This rather sudden turn of luck has brought him the opportunity to mint more lucre in the form of commissions(because his salary is meager), and he has already bought some premium property!
What of the rest of the family members of the upstarts? Well she passes her time in the respectable pass-times of the rich and the famous, going to the parlour to get those pimples out, visiting the gym to get those bulges shrunk, spending time shopping for knick-knacks, and generally never wearing the same clothes twice! They nod at you with a rather haughty acquiescence, but then you see them as they were many years back, and no amount of make-up or wearing of designer  labels will ever change them for you!

Ah, well, I guess I will continue to be humble and modest, and still try to drive a bargain, and see if I can perhaps save a few Rupees, because a few Rupees saved means saving for the rainy day! Not for me would be that long car(more difficult to handle) you know, like in, “bring me the Caaaar”, I’d rather drive my modest hatchback and let upstarts be upstarts! If they return my greeting with a smile so would I, but if they ignore me, so be it, all that swank and swagger will not change what you were and will always be! Ah well ah well, I don't think that money can change the essential character of a man or a woman. A rustic will remain a rustic albeit a more polished one after attending personality development classes and a person with a guttural voice will continue to talk in a guttural tone!

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Friday, 11 May 2012

Damdama Lake-Gurgaon-A lost Haven?

Many years ago, when I used to study in college,  Damdama Lake used to be a wonderful picnic spot. It used to be a lake full of water, and boats that could be rented, and also a few hovercraft, an ideal place to unwind after a hectic week for picnickers and  anglers who could catch a large variety of fish.  This time when I visited the lake after nearly 12 years, I was surprised to see the famous Punjabi Singer Mika’s signboard proclaiming the boundary of a piece of land, no doubt a future farmhouse! What was not very surprising however, was the lack of water in the lake. Instead of rolling stretches of green, there were endless stretches of a fine kind of sand, the signs of an advancing desert!  Time  seems to have come to a stand still in Damdama,  there has not been any visible infrastructural development in the area. The fish-farm ponds were dry, the road leading to the complex was crumbling and not much excitement was visible in the visitors.The tents which were given out on rent are missing, and so were the hovercraft, although some boating was indeed taking place! Of the few photographs taken by me, I have pasted some.

                 Damdama lake

Well, I guess, this expanse of scrubland, and the lake bed on which my brother is standing were once upon a time covered with water! The soft sand that now covers most of the area is very dangerous as we came to know when our car got bogged down, and we had to huff and puff till some of the local people came over to help us out!

The boys in the photographs study in colleges in Gurgaon. Their common complaint was the poor connectivity of public transport between Damdama and Gurgaon. They have to go to Sohna, and then from there catch a bus to Gurgaon. The poor supply of electricity, old and literally crumbling electricity lines, and poor village roads and lack of a proper drainage system were some of the problems faced by them. Thus it is clear that not much has changed in Damdama in terms of infrastructure!

A spot of liveliness was provided by some of the water birds we saw feeding on fish guarded by the dog in the foreground, a perfect and balanced relationship between bird and mammals!

Damdama Lake                  Damdama Lake

Damdama Lake

This beautiful picnic spot is falling victim to desertification and unless something is done to save  it, it will soon disappear under advancing sand dunes!  The large variety of fish that used to swim in the pristine waters of the lake will all be things of the past!
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