The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

What’s in a name?

Every vehicle has a registration plate that identifies which country or state it has been registered and a unique number.

Every aircraft has a unique registration identifier, too, that is painted on the fuselage and on the wings.

Civilian aircraft have markings that identify the country in which the aircraft is registered, and the markings have been determined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The system of markings has been in place for decades, and the nomenclature convention was adopted in 1928. The makings have a one or two letter prefix that identifies the country and a set of alphabets and/or numbers as a suffix that is unique to the aircraft. The unique marking is, usually, not transferred to another aircraft.

Based on this system, aircraft registered in the U.S.A. carry a prefix “N”, those in the United Kingdom have “G”, Canada uses “C”, Germany uses “D”, and the Netherlands uses “PH”


 Civilian aircraft registered in India carry the prefix “VT”


 The VT prefix was allocated to India in 1928 when it still a British colony. The prefixes “VA” to “VZ” were allocated to the countries under British rule, and Australia got “VH” while India got “VT”.

Some countries such as Sri Lanka later changed their prefixes, but India has not done so even after independence.

There are people who have objected to India staying with the “VT” prefix saying that it denotes “Viceroy Territory” and is reminiscent of its colonial past.

The fact is that the “VT” is merely an abbreviation, a code, and does not signify any colonial connection. The “T” in “VT” is a random alphabet that was assigned in 1928, and it could well have been any other.

I understand that India approached the ICAO more than a decade ago to seek a change that would more clearly identify India – suggestions included “IN” (India), “BH” (Bharat) or “HI” (Hindustan), but these were not feasible since the first letters in each of these options have already been allocated – “I” to Italy, “B” to China, and “HI” to the Dominican Republic.

It would have been nice to have a prefix that was associated with India, but, at the end of the day, does it really matter? It is an identifier – no more, no less.

You really need to ask, “what’s in a name?”




November 20, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Aviation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Flying in comfort?

Today’s aircraft are pressurized, air-conditioned, and very comfortable to fly in. Thousands of travelers feel comfortable wearing T shirts as they settle into their seats, watch inflight movies, enjoy a meal, have a nap, and walk out when their destination arrives, without any stress.

It wasn’t always this way, though.


Then and now

During World War II, the China National Aviation Holding Company (CNAC) that was part-owned by Pan Am, flew hundreds of sorties, over the eastern Himalayas (referred to as the Hump, those days) from India to China. The Hump was a crucial route for CNAC and the Allied forces for ferrying supplies and equipment into China during the war.

Life was not easy for the (mainly American and British) pilots and the other crew. Operating from primitive air strips in eastern India, the non-pressurized aircraft had to reckon with Japanese fighter planes, high mountains, and unpredictable weather, on the way across.

Flying the DC-3 aircraft in those conditions was not comfortable either.

I quote Donald McBride, one of the CNAC pilots who flew the Hump during the period 1943-45, who wrote about the conditions.

“You would get in the airplane down in the jungle. It would be 150 degrees (I am sure he meant Fahrenheit) in the airplane with all the windows open. We didn’t mind for the first 10,000 feet because that sucked out the hot air.

The first thing we did when we got in the airplane was to take off our clothes down to our shorts, shoes and a pair of gloves. You could not touch the controls without gloves. They were too hot. After you got up to about 10,000 feet, you’d start putting your pants on. By the time you got to 15,000 feet you were putting on a fur-lined flying suit. At 20,000 you were freezing to death. I’ve seen it 55 below (must be Fahrenheit again) up there. You had a lot of things to contend with.”

That was then, and the intrepid pilots and other crew members worked in all those conditions.

We take flying comfort so much for granted today.



November 19, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Aviation | , | Leave a comment

Mountain moods …

Hartbeespoort is a pretty town that is not very far away from Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa, and is located on the slopes on the Magaliesberg mountain. The Magaliesberg is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, going back many millions of years.

My work has taken me often to this part of South Africa, and I have stayed in Hartbeespoort, or Harties as the town is popularly referred to. The balcony of my hotel room (I have stayed in the same room during every visit) faces a section of the Magaliesberg, and it has been fascinating to see the appearance of the mountain change depending on the time of day, the play of the sun, and the sky overhead. There have been times when the mountain looks golden, times when the sun setting behind the mountain gives an appearance of a crown of fire, and times when the top of the mountain has been concealed by low hanging clouds.

I have not been able to resist the urge to photograph the various “moods” of the mountain from my balcony. As I looked at the pictures, a thought crossed my mind that the many moods of the mountain are similar to the moods we ourselves experience every day.

There are moments when we feel absolutely on top of the world like the bright blue sky over the mountain. There are moments when we feel incredibly happy and satisfied, like the golden look of the rocks. There are moments when we feel angry, like the crown of fire seen above the mountain peak. And, there are moments when we feel low and depressed, like the mountain on a rainy or cloudy day.

But, the clouds pass, the sun comes shining brightly, and the sky turns a beautiful deep blue. The mountain does not change – all that happens is that events surrounding it are different.

I see this as a lesson. There many highs and many lows in our lives. What remains is our inner self and strength, which, like the mountain, needs to be resolute. and determined.

The Magaliesberg has seen it all, and survived. We owe it to ourselves to mirror the mountain.

Enjoy the views – these photographs were taken at different times of the day.





November 18, 2016 Posted by | About this and that | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shiva Tandava Strotram

The Shiva Tandava Stotram describes Lord Shiva’s power and glory, and is supposed to have been created by Ravana.

Hindu mythology has it that Ravana, the King of Lanka, was a person gifted with immense intelligence. He, however, was obsessed with his powers and was highly egoistic. It is said that, to display and prove his indestructible powers, he demanded that Lord Shiva grant him Moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth), failing which he would move Mount Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. Just as he lifted the mountain, Lord Shiva pressed it back with his toe, crushing Ravana’s forearms. Mythology has it that Ravana was immediately humbled, and began singing the Shiva Tandava Stotram in praise of his God, Lord Shiva.

The Shiva Tandava Stotram is complex and has been rendered by many well-known musicians. After considerable search, I came across Shankar Mahadevan’s rendition that is masterly and extremely pleasing to the ear. You can hear it here. Shankar Mahadevan’s articulation of the individual words of each verse is wonderful.

What is especially beautiful is Ravana’s plaintive question about when he, a powerful and learned person, would be finally happy.

This, to all of us, is familiar, considering that we perennially and continuously seek happiness, blessings, joy and contentment.

The question? What do we do to attain that state of contentment and happiness?

Worth thinking about.

Here are the lyrics of the Shiv Tandav Strotram (From Wikipedia) in Devanagari, with the Roman transliteration and English translation.

The stotra is in the Panchachaamara Chhanda. It has 16 syllables per line of the quatrain, with Laghu (short syllable) and Guru (long syllable) characters alternating.

श्रीगणेशाय नमः

गलेऽवलम्ब्य लम्बितां भुजङ्गतुङ्गमालिकाम् |
चकार चण्डताण्डवं तनोतु नः शिवः शिवम् ||१||

Roman Transliteration
gale ‘valambya lambitāṃ bhujaṅga-tuṅga-mālikām ।
ḍamaḍ ḍamaḍ ḍamaḍ ḍaman nināda-vaḍḍa-marvayaṃ
cakāra chaṇḍa-tāṇḍavaṃ tanotu naḥ śivaḥ śivam ॥ 1॥

With his neck, consecrated by the flow of water flowing from the thick forest-like locks of hair, and on the neck, where the lofty snake is hanging like a garland, and the Damaru drum making the sound of Damat Damat Damat Damat, Lord Śiva did the auspicious dance of Tandava and may He shower prosperity on us all.

विलोलवीचिवल्लरीविराजमानमूर्धनि |
किशोरचन्द्रशेखरे रतिः प्रतिक्षणं मम ||२||

Roman Transliteration
jaṭā-kaṭā-hasambhrama-bhraman nilimpa-nirjharī
vilola-vīci-vallarī-virāja-māna-mūrdhani ।
dhagad dhagad dhagaj jvalal lalāṭa-paṭṭa-pāvake
kiśora-candraśekhare ratiḥ pratikṣaṇaṃ mama ॥ 2 ॥

I have a very deep interest in Lord Śiva, whose head is glorified by the rows of moving waves of the celestial river Gaṅgā, agitating in the deep well of his hair-locks, and who has the brilliant fire flaming on the surface of his forehead, and who has the crescent moon as a jewel on his head.

स्फुरद्दिगन्तसन्ततिप्रमोदमानमानसे |
क्वचिद्दिगम्बरे(क्वचिच्चिदम्बरे) मनो विनोदमेतु वस्तुनि ||३||

Roman Transliteration
sphurad diganta-santati-pramoda-māna-mānase ।
kvacid digambare (kvacic cidambare) mano vinodametu vastuni ॥ 3 ॥

May my mind seek happiness in the Lord Śiva, in whose mind all the living beings of the glorious universe exist, who is the sportive companion of Parvati (daughter of the mountain king), who controls invincible hardships with the flow of his compassionate look, who is all-pervasive (the directions are his clothes).

कदम्बकुङ्कुमद्रवप्रलिप्तदिग्वधूमुखे |
मनो विनोदमद्भुतं बिभर्तु भूतभर्तरि ||४||

Roman Transliteration
jaṭā bhujaṅga piṅgalasphurat phaṇāmaṇiprabhā
kadamba kuṅkuma drava pralip tadig vadhū mukhe ।
madāndha sindhuras phurat tvagut tarīyame dure
mano vinodamadbhutaṃ bibhartu bhūta bhartari ॥ 4 ॥

May I seek wonderful pleasure in Lord Śiva, who is supporter of all life, who with his creeping snake with reddish brown hood and with the luster of his gem on it spreading out variegated colors on the beautiful faces of the maidens of directions, who is covered with a glittering upper garment made of the skin of a huge intoxicated elephant.

प्रसूनधूलिधोरणी विधूसराङ्घ्रिपीठभूः |
भुजङ्गराजमालया निबद्धजाटजूटक
श्रियै चिराय जायतां चकोरबन्धुशेखरः ||५||

Roman Transliteration
sahasralocana prabhṛtya śeṣalekha śekhara
prasūna dhūli dhoraṇī vidhūsarāṅghri pīṭhabhūḥ ।
bhujaṅga rājamālayā nibaddha jāṭajūṭaka
śriyai cirāya jāyatāṃ cakora bandhuśekharaḥ ॥ 5 ॥

May Lord Śiva give us prosperity, who has the moon (relative of the Cakora bird) as his head-jewel, whose hair is tied by the red snake-garland, whose foot-stool is grayed by the flow of dust from the flowers from the rows of heads of all the Gods, Indra/Vishnu and others.

निपीतपञ्चसायकं नमन्निलिम्पनायकम् |
सुधामयूखलेखया विराजमानशेखरं
महाकपालिसम्पदेशिरोजटालमस्तु नः ||६||

Roman Transliteration
lalāṭa ca tvara jvalad dhanañjaya sphuliṅgabhā
nipītapañca sāyakaṃ naman nilim panāyakam ।
sudhā mayū khale khayā virāja mānaśekharaṃ
mahākapā lisam padeśi rojaṭā lamastu naḥ ॥ 6 ॥

May we get the wealth of Siddhis from Śiva’s locks of hair, which devoured the God of Love with the sparks of the fire flaming in His forehead, who is bowed by all the celestial leaders, who is beautiful with a crescent moon

द्धनञ्जयाहुतीकृतप्रचण्डपञ्चसायके |
प्रकल्पनैकशिल्पिनि त्रिलोचने रतिर्मम ||७||

Roman Transliteration
karā labhāla paṭ ṭikā dhagad dhagad dhagaj jvalad
dhanañjayā hutī kṛta pracaṇḍa pañca sāyake ।
dharā dharendra nandinī kucā graci tra patraka
prakalpanaika śilpini trilocane ratirmama ॥ 7 ॥

My interest is in Lord Śiva, who has three eyes, who has offered the powerful God of Love into the fire, flaming Dhagad Dhagad on the flat surface of his forehead, and who is the one expert artist of creation accompanied by Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king.

नवीनमेघमण्डली निरुद्धदुर्धरस्फुरत्
कुहूनिशीथिनीतमः प्रबन्धबद्धकन्धरः |
निलिम्पनिर्झरीधरस्तनोतु कृत्तिसिन्धुरः
कलानिधानबन्धुरः श्रियं जगद्धुरंधरः ||८||

Roman Transliteration
navīna megha maṇḍalī niruddha dur dharasphurat
kuhū niśīthinī tamaḥ prabandha baddha kandharaḥ ।
nilim panir jharī dharas tanotu kṛt tisindhuraḥ
kalā nidhāna bandhuraḥ śriyaṃ jagad dhuraṃ dharaḥ ॥ 8 ॥

May Lord Śiva give us prosperity, who bears the burden of this universe, who is lovely with the moon, who is red wearing the skin, who has the celestial river Ganga, whose neck is dark as midnight of new moon night covered by many layers of clouds.

वलम्बिकण्ठकन्दलीरुचिप्रबद्धकन्धरम् |
स्मरच्छिदं पुरच्छिदं भवच्छिदं मखच्छिदं
गजच्छिदांधकच्छिदं तमन्तकच्छिदं भजे ||९||

Roman Transliteration
praphul lanī lapaṅkaja prapañcakā lima prabhā-
-valam bikaṇṭha kandalī ruci prabaddha kandharam ।
smarac chidaṃ puracchidaṃ bhavacchidaṃ makhacchidaṃ
gajacchidāṃ dhakachidaṃ tamaṃ takac chidaṃ bhaje ॥ 9 ॥

I pray to Lord Śiva, whose neck is tied with the luster of the temples hanging on the neck with the glory of the fully bloomed blue lotuses which looked like the blackness (sins) of the universe, who is the killer of Manmatha, who destroyed Tripuras, who destroyed the bonds of worldly life, who destroyed the sacrifice, who destroyed the demon Andhaka, the destroyer of the elephants, and who controlled the God of death, Yama.

अखर्व(अगर्व) सर्वमङ्गलाकलाकदम्बमञ्जरी
रसप्रवाहमाधुरी विजृम्भणामधुव्रतम् |
स्मरान्तकं पुरान्तकं भवान्तकं मखान्तकं
गजान्तकान्धकान्तकं तमन्तकान्तकं भजे ||१०||

Roman Transliteration
akharva sarvamaṅgalā kalā kadaṃba mañjarī
rasa pravā hamā dhurī vijṛṇbhaṇā madhu vratam ।
smarāntakaṃ purāntakaṃ bhavāntakaṃ makhāntakaṃ
gajān takān dhakān takaṃ taman takān takaṃ bhaje ॥ 10 ॥

I pray to Lord Śiva, who has bees flying all over because of the sweet honey from the beautiful bunch of auspicious Kadamba flowers, who is the killer of Manmatha, who destroyed Tripuras, who destroyed the bonds of worldly life, who destroyed the sacrifice, who destroyed the demon Andhaka, the killer of the elephants, and who controlled the God of death, Yama.

द्विनिर्गमत्क्रमस्फुरत्करालभालहव्यवाट् |
ध्वनिक्रमप्रवर्तित प्रचण्डताण्डवः शिवः ||११||

Roman Transliteration
jaya tvada bhravi bhrama bhramad bhujaṅga maśvasa
dvinir gamat kramasphurat karā labhāla ha vyavāṭ ।
dhimid dhimid dhimi dhvanan mṛdaṅga tuṅga maṅgala
dhvani krama pravartita pracaṇḍa tāṇḍavaḥ śivaḥ ॥ 11 ॥

Lord Śiva, whose dance of Tāṇḍava is in tune with the series of loud sounds of drum making Dhimid Dhimid sounds, who has the fire on the great forehead, the fire that is spreading out because of the breath of the snake wandering in whirling motion in the glorious sky.

गरिष्ठरत्नलोष्ठयोः सुहृद्विपक्षपक्षयोः |
तृणारविन्दचक्षुषोः प्रजामहीमहेन्द्रयोः
समं प्रव्रितिक: कदा सदाशिवं भजम्यहम ||१२||

Roman Transliteration
dṛṣa dvici tratal payor bhujaṅga mauktikasrajor-
gariṣṭha ratna loṣṭhayoḥ suhṛ dvi pakṣa pakṣayoḥ ।
tṛṣṇā ravinda cakṣuṣoḥ prajā mahī mahendrayoḥ
samapravṛ tikaḥ kadā sadāśivaṃ bhaje ॥ 12 ॥

When will I worship Lord SadāŚiva (eternally auspicious) God, with equal vision towards the people and an emperor, and a blade of grass and lotus-like eye, towards both friends and enemies, towards the valuable gem and some lump of dirt, towards a snake and a garland and towards varied ways of the world.

कदा निलिम्पनिर्झरीनिकुञ्जकोटरे वसन्
विमुक्तदुर्मतिः सदा शिरः स्थमञ्जलिं वहन् |
विलोललोललोचनो ललामभाललग्नकः
शिवेति मंत्रमुच्चरन् कदा सुखी भवाम्यहम् ||१३||

Roman Transliteration
kadā nilim panir jharī nikuñja koṭare vasan
vimukta durmatiḥ sadā śiraḥstha mañjaliṃ vahan ।
vilola lola locano lalā mabhāla lagna kaḥ
śiveti mantra muccaran kadā sukhī bhavā myaham ॥ 13 ॥

When will I be happy, living in the hollow place near the celestial river, Ganga, carrying the folded hands on my head all the time, with my bad thinking washed away, and uttering the mantra of Lord Śiva and devoted in the God with glorious forehead with vibrating eyes.

निलिम्प नाथनागरी कदम्ब मौलमल्लिका-
निगुम्फनिर्भक्षरन्म धूष्णिकामनोहरः ।
तनोतु नो मनोमुदं विनोदिनींमहनिशं
परिश्रय परं पदं तदङ्गजत्विषां चयः ॥ १४॥

Roman Transliteration
nilimpa nāthanāgarī kadamba maulamallikā-
nigumphanirbhakṣaranma dhūṣṇikāmanoharaḥ ।
tanotu no manomudaṃ vinodinīṃmahaniśaṃ
pariśraya paraṃ padaṃ tadaṅgajatviṣāṃ cayaḥ ॥ 14 ॥

Divine beauty of different parts of Lord Śiva which are enlightened by fragrance of the flowers decorating the twisted hair locks of angles may always bless us with happiness and pleasure.[14]

प्रचण्ड वाडवानल प्रभाशुभप्रचारणी
महाष्टसिद्धिकामिनी जनावहूत जल्पना ।
विमुक्त वाम लोचनो विवाहकालिकध्वनिः
शिवेति मन्त्रभूषगो जगज्जयाय जायताम् ॥ १५॥

Roman Transliteration
pracaṇḍa vāḍavānala prabhāśubhapracāraṇī
mahāṣṭasiddhikāminī janāvahūta jalpanā ।
vimukta vāma locano vivāhakālikadhvaniḥ
śiveti mantrabhūṣago jagajjayāya jāyatām ॥ 15 ॥

The Shakti (energy) which is capable of burning all the sins and spreading welfare of all and the pleasant sound produced by angles during enchanting the pious Shiv mantra at the time of Shiv-Parvati Vivah may win over & destroy all the sufferings of the world.[15]

इमं हि नित्यमेवमुक्तमुत्तमोत्तमं स्तवं
पठन्स्मरन्ब्रुवन्नरो विशुद्धिमेतिसंततम् |
हरे गुरौ सुभक्तिमाशु याति नान्यथा गतिं
विमोहनं हि देहिनां सुशङ्करस्य चिंतनम् ||१६||

Roman Transliteration
imaṃ hi nityamevamuktamuttamottamaṃ stavaṃ
paṭhansmaranbruvannaro viśuddhimetisaṃtatam |
hare gurau subhaktimāśu yāti nānyathā gatiṃ
vimohanaṃ hi dehināṃ suśaṅkarasya ciṃtanam ॥ 16 ॥

Whoever reads, remembers and says this best stotra as it is said here, gets purified for ever, and obtains devotion in the great Guru Śiva. For this devotion, there is no other way. Just the mere thought of Lord Śiva indeed removes the delusion.

पूजावसानसमये दशवक्त्रगीतं
यः शम्भुपूजनपरं पठति प्रदोषे |
तस्य स्थिरां रथगजेन्द्रतुरङ्गयुक्तां
लक्ष्मीं सदैव सुमुखिं प्रददाति शम्भुः ||१७||

Roman Transliteration
pūjāvasāna samaye daśavaktragītaṃ
yaḥ śaṁbhupūjanaparaṃ paṭhati pradoṣe ।
tasya sthirāṃ rathagajendra turaṅgayuktāṃ
lakṣmīṃ sadaiva sumukhiṃ pradadāti śaṁbhuḥ ॥ 17 ॥

In the evening, after sunset, at the end of Puja, whoever utters this stotra for 10 times sung by the one with the ten heads (Rāvaṇa), which is dedicated to the worship of Śiva, Lord Śiva will indeed bless him with great Lakṣmī (prosperity) with all the richness of chariots, elephants and horses.

इति श्रीरावण-कृतम्

Roman Transliteration
iti śrī rāvaṇa-kṛtam,
śivatāṇḍava stotraṃ,

Thus ends the Śiva-Tāṇḍava Stotra written by Śrī ′Rāvaṇa′.

November 16, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior, Spiritual | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The grinding stone

There is an interesting mention made in the Sri Sai Satcharita about the grinding of wheat. It refers to a grinding stone where the lower part is one’s Karma (Fate, destiny) and the upper is Bhakti (path to achieving salvation), with the handle of the device being Jnana (knowledge). The rotation of the upper stone grinds the ego as well as impulses, desires and sins.


I pondered about the aspect of ego.

It struck me that our entire approach to life revolves around our ego, and our actions and words reflect this state. Every single action or observation invokes the ego, however subtly.

Ego binds and limits, which leads us to refer to ‘I’ and ‘my’, which in turn confines ourselves to the finite. It cares only for its own existence.

If someone smiles at us, our ego is touched; if someone ignores us, the ego gets touched, too. It is like an open wound. And, one is quick to blame anything on anyone else except ourselves.

Ego brings with it a lot of competition, power plays, control, judgment, criticism, testing, even abuse. It also comes to the surface out of fear – that we are at the mercy of the world – when, in fact, we can be the creators of our own destinies.

The ego always tries to grab what it can from the world, in the belief that it lacks, and only what is out there can fill the gaping hole inside.

Breaking this pattern is difficult, since this ego has a million tricks to keep us engaged. We tell ourselves that all our experiences, problems issues etc, are a consequence of what someone else does or does not do. We become defensive, we counter-attack.

It is ego that gives us a sense of incompleteness.

If one delves into the past, many memories come to the surface. It could be scolding from parents and teachers, unkind words that we might have been subjected to, failures of any kind, rejection, etc. These are forgotten incidents, yet they somehow fester. And, such wounds can be opened very easily through other events, as the ego rears its head.

The irony is that we permit this to happen. Sadly, it is this very same ego that prevents us from acknowledging and correcting.

One way out is to try not to react, not to reject, whatever happens. To be accepting.

Ego is not about self respect. It is a lot more. It is very basic and fundamental.

It is a battle that has to be fought and won from within.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dumbing down on “smartphones”

There was a time when a cellphone was capable (and used) for making/receiving calls and the occasional text message. Life was easier, and more friendly, those days.

My office is located on the 29th floor of a tower and when I get into the elevator along with 15 others, I am always amazed by what happens then. All my fellow occupants whip out their cellphones and there is silence on the way up while each pretends (?) to be totally occupied with what’s on their phones. Some choose just that moment to make that “important” call and bellow instructions to some hapless subordinate and conclude by saying, “I’ll be there in a minute”.


(Note : Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Once upon a time, people greeted one another, even if superficially, when entering that enclosed space. A nod, a smile, perhaps, and occasionally a “hello”. That’s history now.

What’s with these cellphones and peoples’ preoccupation with these devices? Things have reached a stage when you see people sitting around a table, each engrossed in looking at the tiny screen.


No one seems to care if their actions are impolite. Is it because they want to disengage themselves from their surroundings? Is it because they want to convey disinterest? Or a feeling of “don’t invade my space”?

Which is why it is common, nowadays, for meetings to begin with the host entreating everyone to put their cellphones in silent mode. New social conventions. Or, signs everywhere that state that cellphone usage is not allowed – at airport counters, hospitals, government offices, and more.

When I sit across a table with a client or supplier for a discussion, I always make a note of where the other person’s hands are. If they are over the table and in full view, that suggests an openness. Hiding one’s hands under the table is indicative of the likelihood that the other person is not going to be open and reasonable (honest?).

The same applies to cellphones. If I see a device placed on the table, it immediately sends me a negative signal, and I respond appropriately.

 A cellphone, without doubt, is one of the more significant inventions, and has changed how people communicate, get entertained, navigate, and interact.

But, there is also a feeling that, sometimes, it is too much of a good thing. Using that “smartphone” is not always smart.

As someone said, “the future is in your hands”. I wonder if he foresaw the advent of the ubiquitous cellphone.



November 12, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travelling on an A380 – an amazing experience

I started writing this piece some years ago but did not get around to posting it. It is still relevant, though. In the intervening years, I have flown many more times in the Emirates A380 Business Class section, and twice in First Class (a 16-hour haul to Toronto and a 9-hour leg from Seoul). The experience of flying on this aircraft continues to be awesome.

I just had to share this.


Having flown business class several times in the past, one has seen what it is like to enjoy premium class travel.

The experience of flying business class in an Emirates A380 was, however, quite something else. In the past, I have flown in the economy class cabin of A380, which was very comfortable even by current day wide-body long haul aircraft standards. But I had heard a lot about the business class on the A380, and looked forward with eager anticipation to this 13-hour intercontinental flight.

The sheer size of this aircraft awes you as you board, and it is a different feeling when you walk directly in from a door in the upper level, unlike in a Boeing 747.

The interior is awesome, and as I settled into my seat, I couldn’t help wonder about how much thought had gone into making each seat a personal comfort zone – amenities conveniently to hand, a place to stow one’s shoes, soft drinks and bottled water in a shelf next to the seat, and a personal cubicle kind of layout that ensured substantial privacy.

I watched the take-off on the large TV screen using the tail-fin camera view – something that is unique to this aircraft, and mentally willed this giant to rotate and lift off as it lumbered down the runway.

When the seat belt signs were switched off, I walked towards the rear of the business class section and came across a large lounge with a bar (that reminds you of a classy 5-star hotel), where one can hang around, have a drink and canapés, and pass the time.

After a reasonably good dinner, I decided to sleep. The seat reclined to full-flat position, a mattress was provided, and having covered myself with a blanket, I drifted off into deep sleep. I do sleep on long flights, but never for more than two hours at a time. This time, though, I slept for seven hours at a stretch, and woke up surprised that we were a mere two hours or so from our destination.

The A380 is an amazing aircraft, a marvel of engineering, and it was a pleasure discovering all those little details that go towards making long journeys comfortable – this applies to economy and business class. I have heard and read about the first class section – private suites, etc – designed to pamper the high net worth traveler.

I alighted with a trace of regret that the flight had ended so soon – it had been a wonderful experience.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | About this and that, Aviation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s been a long time …

It has been four years since I updated my blog, and it feels like decades. I have often asked myself the question, “Why on earth don’t you write any more?” Is it that you’ve stopped enjoying writing? Is that you don’t have the time? Is it that you have stopped observing the world around you?

The answer to all these questions is an unequivocal “No!!!”.

The only thing I can say is that it was sheer inertia. Nothing more, nothing less.

A lot has happened in these four years, and it will be well nigh impossible to list or, for that matter, write about.

However, the urge to write is back, and that’s what I propose to do regularly from now on.

The Crochet is back !!!

November 11, 2016 Posted by | About this and that | Leave a comment


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