Sunday, March 29, 2009

No News edition 14 - My World

Dear Friends,

Welcome to read the 14th issue of No News. From my childhood printed media has been an obsession for me. Except for the regional newspaper Mathrubhumi, it was rare to get and read variety of news and views. Periodic visit to the local libraries and occasional visitors from outside brought a change to the routine by adding pages of The Hindu or Illustrated Weekly, which was considered for the elite. The quest for reading continued as I grew older. As I moved on, it was happy hunting whenever I travelled to distant parts of India to explore the print media there and the style they released it. It never stopped even after reaching here. Gulf News, Khaleej Times, Gulf Today, and even those smaller editions, some of which died an early death.

Year 2008 saw a remarkable change in the newspaper industry by the release of THE NATIONAL. Print media became much more competitive and what was earlier a quick reading and throwaway task has now become a routine of devotion to complete the pages from start to finish. It is quite a task indeed for those who love to read. Several occasions pages have to be kept aside for week-end readings, which again saw quality output coming in to increase the knowledge power of word. Indeed, word power can be world power and it is one of the reason, I regularly read some columns without ever missing it. Mr. Saleh Al Shaibany was one such writer with Khaleej Times, whose articles brought huge interest amongst readers during his time with KT. Mr. Collin Randall is another journalist who generated literary interest with his commentary on English grammar and it’s usage. Although, very recently he has changed his base from UAE, he has continued his column in THE NATIONAL titled “my word”. As usual he allows debate on definite usage of English language each time. This time it was on the usage of comas and their need while writing.

To be or not to be is a question we ask several times when we write, read or do a thing. It happens in the grammatical usage too. As an advocate of TQM and Positive Thinking thoughts and deeds, I always contemplate for the liberty of right deed towards a right result. No matter whatever you do with orientation towards a positive result for you and the society, do it. In the case of comma too, just like an old person gasping for breadth while running a race as age catches, a comma can be lived with or without in usage styles. It all depends on how you look at things from various angle at different times. For example, if you are in the good books of your management, and you start an activity to control the number of drivers in rotation, it will be projected as brilliant and cost saving. Whereas, if your boss’s wife required a driver and he is not available on time for her due to your cost control measures, you are in line of fire.

Several times what we feel strange may look as necessary for someone and routine for some other. The other day a news item appeared about features of a Toyota Fortuner 4x4 and it’s lady owner who uses it’s ample luggage space for keeping about 40 pairs of her shoes. It was amazing to me. But, when I thought about my own car boot, fitted with a small picnic chair, my own digital camera and video camera kits, tripod, battery chargers, a full fledged First Aid Kit, fire extinguisher set, a pair of cricket bat, stumps, balls, badminton bats and a few bottles of water and a pair of jogging shoes, someone else may think, is he living in his car?.

It is all our on word and world and how we look at things we act up on. Talking about all these accessories, and it’s necessities, it is how we utilise what we have. For me, it is a routine to keep the battery of the photographic equipments fully charged and feel like a solider without his gun if I walk out with my camera battery down. Similar is the case of not carrying a pen, paper and my diary. I believe in the principle that opportunities come only for those who explore it.
An example is the cover page photo which is now an entry competing in the final stages of Malayalamanorama online news photography competition. It was a casual trip to the famous Athirappilli Vazhachaal waterfalls and it was like water and water falls everywhere, but not in a position to drink from anywhere. Splash of water from the falls which formed a stream and resulted in a small collection area was the only source of drinking point for some wild monkeys living in that area. It was his looks in the eyes and the style that captured my attention as he was drinking to save his life from danger of being attacked for fun by the tourists. It came handy now when the newspaper came out with a competition related to the Save Water – Water day on 22nd March. Talking about these competitions also reminds of a sustained effort which is required. A winner will be decided only after continuous online voting opportunities for one month. Contestants have to remain competitive and focussed on the objective of winning to remain in the race.

Winning is not the prime thing but it is to attempt for the win which is significant as far as I am concerned. Life is full of diversities and differentiations for each one of us. However, the space allotted to us is the same each day, i.e. 24hrs x 60 minutes. The weather, job, familial conditions are all in one way or other complemented to cater to our requirements and the resultant achievements signifies how we utilised those precious units.

Take the example of plants in the small balcony my mother maintains at home here. It is the same area for all tenants but we have a huge collection of Thulasi and other flowering plants and now even growing tomatoe, which are ready to harvest. What not?

Coming back to the commas, colons and semis, from the ancient time, “English” and the language has been munificent enough for taking onus to explore the civilisation across and guiding them to peril or prosperity. As in every field, it is how we utilise it each situation. In reality, I believe it is the cause for the true word order or world order which has united distant corner of the universe by it’s singularity and diversity. For me it is always to aim for positive word. I pass it on to you too.

God Bless and have a great week-end.

Ramesh Menon

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No News edition 13 - a few Barbaric Thoughts

Dear Friends,

Welcome to read the 13th issue of No News. It has taken a longer time this time to come out with this issue. The title tries to convey the reason. The thoughts are all there, but it is all mixed up, like the meat coming out of a mincing machine. Activities happening around too does not differ. Day by day, the life and people around getting different. Are we also affected by the global recession? Some months ago, it was the turn of the environmentalists to cry about the global warming. But, the heat is on now with a much higher degree and severity that makes those environmental voices become no cries in the current context.

The week starts and ends at a much higher pace these days and I look forward to the Friday’s as it gives some time to catch up with the leftovers from print media collected over the week. Luckily, these days, the bulk has been reduced and what is available comes out with quality. For some time now, it has been a routine to visit my barber on this free day. The visit has multiple objectives. Muhammad bhai as I call him affectionately is a long timer in Abu Dhabi. With two wives and about 6 children living at his village home in Karachi, he has always some or other story to convey about what has happened during the week in the surrounding locality here and also in his home town. It is a one man show now, as he is waiting for his brother as his reliever to come back from Pakistan and take turn for him to start for his long holiday. However, it seems he has decided not to and Muhammad Bhai is helpless as he finds it difficult for a trustworthy handover. His small saloon is a union for some of his friends, who are now familiar to me and other regulars. One among them is Aslam, who is from Bangladesh. Aslam bhai comes to the shop to watch TV which is situated at one corner of the shop. The moment he enters the shop, Aslam bhai consider it as his own empire and takes possession of his weapon of mass alteration, i.e. the remote control of the TV. From then on, any customer within, will have to watch, one minute Pakistani news, the other minute a Bengali channel and then all the different channels of Zee and in between various Arabic channels. Probably, a problem with his hearing or deliberately not wanting to hear Muhammad bhai’s or others please to stop or reduce the volume, he will continue fiddling on the remote and then finally stops when he gets Sahara channel and the Ramayana or Mahabharata serial playing in it. It doesn’t matter what the previous days episode was, he finds some unknown pleasure in the conversation happening and then we could see him laughing his heart out. In between or at the end, if someone asks him, Aslam bhai, tell us what happened, where are we and what next? He will smile showing all his 20 odd teeth with a gentle answer, If I know, what will happen next, do you think, I will watch it this long? True to him, otherwise, he would have definitely changed the channel.

Many times, the same situation repeated, and I find certain realistic and sincere conversation happening in that Muhammad bhai’s small saloon touching my inner thoughts. While he continues solely with his job, his mobile phone rings repeatedly and looking at the number, he will tell us, this is my first wife and I will call her after I finish your job. He cuts the phone with a short answer in his local dialect. In few minutes again the phone rings and he answer in short sentences, in an altogether different tone for a little longer time with a brighter smile and glowing eyes. Brief but short and he keeps the phone and revert to us saying that it was his younger wife. On one occasion, a channel was showing how various states where getting ready for the forthcoming elections. In some context, they showed the martyrs of the Mumbai attack and among them the neatly cut NSG Commando Sandeep. Seeing him, and with a sigh, he tells me, Ramesh bhai, after certain age, it is only we, barbers, who get to touch the head of a person and pamper him the way ones parents does to a child in his childhood? Probably, he was missing his own children whom he has not seen for a longer time. Definitely, in many ways, Muhammad bhai helped me to open my eyes into un-explored directions each time I visited him.
Life goes on and it’s another bright and sunny morning and it is time to go to school. It is board exam time for my son and to revisit the thoughts of my schooling days and exam times and compare what is happening around now, I didn’t miss this opportunity of dropping my son to his exam centre. Children are the same everywhere, and many of them were seen tensed on the first day and teachers assisting them with last minute doubts and preparations. It was interesting to see many of them seeking blessings from their teachers and parents. With most of the subjects covered, it was the English Exams yesterday, and I found literally all of them very relaxed. What made more interesting thoughts was the conversational style happening around. It seems like most of them are talking in terms of Short Term Memory Loss happening to them, following the recent Hindi movie Gajini.
Wheels of my clock moves faster these days and evening we all gather to watch one particular show these days. It is currently on in the Amrita TV channel and is called Super Talent. Into it’s 3rd round, the show has gained considerable ground in terms of quality approach in presentation by the contestants and the subsequent reviews by elite panel of judges. It is giving it’s worth on time spent before going to bed.

Wining is not always possible. However, if we do not attempt, the probability of a win will be nowhere. In the recent times, I happened to come across two winners in lucky draws. One was a regular e-mail friend, a famous RJ, who won a lucky raffle in the recently concluded DSF draws. Another, happened to be a known person, who won an equally or more amount from a Duty Free Raffle. It is good to see both continuing their life and efforts promoting Positive vibes around. May god bless them to motivate many through their own simple ways.

I am excited to include and inform that quality initiatives are taking a high rate of acceptance from the authorities as well as the news media these days. Government authorities and suggestions sites like, Dubai Municipality Have Your Say programmes, Dubai RTA, Road Transport Authority of Abu Dhabi, and the news media like THE National and GULF NEWS are coming out with many new initiatives to promote participation of general public and to get their views and suggestions for overall improvement in the society around. Why not spare a few minutes and visit these portals and be a part of the society and it’s progress.

My thoughts are getting complex each time I take my car out on the street. Even with all the campaigns happening, stricter fines and points, some are continuing to seek wild pleasure in showing their might on the street. With cigarette on one hand and phone on the other and legs up or even a child on the lap safety doesn’t seem to be nearer. I feel, they will learn only by getting a chance to visit for themselves the casualty departments of hospitals. Spread the word around, follow the speeding rules do not use mobiles while driving and reach home safe be the mantra to follow.
God Bless and have a great week-end.

Ramesh Menon

Sunday, March 15, 2009

GULF NEWS initiative - Shaping the future of news

In the recent times, GULF NEWS has been coming out with a renewed vigor, innovation and initiatives each day. As I mentioned here earlier, Your Turn page and the Community reporter column is getting popular amongst it's readers. It is an opportunity I marked to express my comments to any particular activitiy, which normally may go un-reported. It was also an opportunity I saw to evaluate my writing and photography skills. Each time, I send in an item of news or photo, I was sure, I am competing with numerous others within and outside the country and it gave me pleasure to see it in print, if ever it gets published and also consider more competitive approach for the next time, and look for minor errors which could have avoided an elimination.
I am sure that this opportunity will be happily grabbed with both the hands by many new readers in the coming days. I take this opportunity to congratulate the winners of February 2009:
1st - Mr. Saleh Yahya Farah
2nd - Mr. Vadasseril P. Abraham
3rd - Mr. Loic T
and all the other contributors for giving readers a chance to read the newspaper in their own language.
I also take this opportunity to congratulate the news editor Anupa Kurian and Deputy Editor Sanya Nayeem and an excellent team of members for bringing out beautiful prints each day with wonderful prominence for the news and presenters.
God Bless, and continue to sustain this good momentum all throughout.
Ramesh Menon


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just one person can make a difference

Just one person can make a difference

The on-going road development works and the parking worries give me occasional opportunities these days to travel by the Abu Dhabi Bus or Taxi during office hours and outside. I consider this as an opportunity to move away from my driving responsibilities and also from the crazy road behaviours for some time and opportunistically utilise the view and life around from a different angle and height. However, many times, these waiting, ends up in frustration looking at the senseless behaviour of fellow road users to rush in for the taxi or the bus, irrespective of others who have been waiting there before them. Like the situation in the movie Saveage Harvest, it reminds me of a predatory instinct in human being each time it happens. However, a chance drive to a city suburb in Ajman on a Friday afternoon made me realise it is not the case everywhere. I was waiting after a sumptuous lunch from a restaurant inside my car and noticed this act of decency by a group of ordinary passengers most of them labourers working in camps. As usual, my camera did not miss the opportunity of recording a series of precious acts and opportunity for me to promote TQM and Positive Thinking values around. Watching them, I thought, how good it be, if the same social conscience and sense prevailed with the fellow users in the more cosmopolitan cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Immediately after the visit, I send the story to Gulf News for their new section Community Report, with a different version. Yeah, English is one language which we can manipulate according to our moods and swings. Thank you Gulf News for accepting it and continuing to allow me to test my writing skills. Together, it proves, You too can make Us create a world of difference.

The photos will tell you the complete story.

QUEUE PLEASE and Have a great week-end.

Ramesh Menon
05 03 2009