Quotes about blogging

I am doing this exercise of coming up with at least ten funny quotes about a topic... any topic.
My first choice for the topic was... Blogging.
Let me know how funny they are.
  1. I like the blogger profiles that start with 'Hmm.. How can I tell about myself in just hundred words.' They are easy to read - just fifty words long.
  2. And then there are some profiles that start with 'I am unique.' Then the blogger lists Star wars as his favorite movie.
  3. And then some profiles go, 'For me, Blogging is cathartic'. Their posts are just a verbal diarrhea.
  4. The questions 'What should I wear?' and 'What should I blog about?' beg the same answer - Nobody cares.
  5. 'Blogging is a very lonely act.' I said. 'Sure. But it is a very enjoyable act.' He said. I gave him a Playboy. He has not posted for last six months.
  6. Most bloggers just give back to the society what they got from it - SHIT.
  7. All blogs have one faithful reader at least - Google bot.
  8. When I see a blog that is not updated for a year, I search for the epilogue.
  9. Have a picture in your posts. They will tend to stay in your blog till it loads at least.
  10. When somebody introduces himself as 'I am a blogger.' I get irritated. I breathe. But I don't advertise it introducing myself as  'I am a breather'.
  11. A novice blogger knows he can write about anything. A verteran blogger realizes he shouldn't.
Do you have a funny line about blogging! Drop a comment.
Liked this exercise? Try a similar one in your blog too. And drop a link in the comments.

MahaBharat : Amba, Ambika and Ambalika

Those days the bows were made of wood and were very heavy and one needed lot of kundalini shakti to handle them well. So Bhishma's Brahmacharya really helped him becoming an archer par excellence. But he was on the edge all the time. He was seething like a dam waiting to burst... metaphorically.

When Bhishma heard Shantanu and satyavati had their first baby, Chitrangada, he called all the manufacturers of dart boards to come to the palace with their goods. An hour of frenzied target practice later, Hastinapur had no dart boards and.. dart board manufacturers for a generation. When Vichitrvirya, the second kid was born Bhishma's rage necessitated Save-The-Tiger campaign by the Pigeon Inc. - the largest telecommunications company.

But as time went by Bhishma became more mellowed. Sure, Shantanu's demise and Chitrangada's violent death in a war helped the cause. But it was by and large Bhishma's effort in turning his archery skills on more inanimate things like balloons in circus target practice games that did the trick. The people who conducted the balloon games went bankrupt. But their business was not a big pie in the Hastinapur GDP.So no one cared.

Vichitravirya came of age and when the question of marriage was raised, he said, "King of kasi has three daughters and is planning to conduct a swayamvar."
"You are gunning for three wives! You Dog! You..." Bhishma went into a speech powered by expletives and driven by testosterone.
Satyavati who knew Bhishma's ways waited patiently till he brought his emotions under check and then asked whether he would go to Kasi and secure the brides for his brother. Bhishma was puzzled at this strange request and refused at first.

"I just thought that a Kingdom so powerful as Kasi might have a very difficult swayamwar competition. Shooting a revolving mosquito are something like that.." Satyavati baited.
Bhishma fell for it bow, string and arrow.

But kasi was not just a powerful kingdom but a fashionable one too. Women's liberation was in vogue that season and king decided, "I am tired of catching mosquitoes. What the hll! I will just let the girls choose whoever they like."
However Bhishma would have none of this. He took all the three daughters by force and challenged the assembled suitors to stop him if they wanted the princess for themselves.

So all the kings who had come to participate in the swayamar mounted their horses and chased Bhishma. They were like hundreds of kings and Bhishma was alone.

"If you are real men and are born to your mother, you fight me one on one." Bhishma challenged the kings.
"Get real." The kings shouted back and pounced on Bhishma in unison. The battle was so spectacular that we are compelled to let Vyasa describe it in his own words.

The kings rained arrows on him like masses of clouds showering on the mountain-breast.
-Ved Vyas

Bhishma was a great archer. But he was also middle-aged and out of shape due to festive season. So the reference to man breasts in the analogy, we think.

Anyway, Bhishma defeated the kings and brought back the daughters to Hastinapur. The arrangements for the wedding were in full swing when the eldest of the daughter, Amba said that she is pregnant because of a fling she had with another king called Salva. Vichitravirya did the honourable thing of sending her to Salva.

But there was a surprise waiting for Amba in Salva's palace.
"Are you kidding me? We just kissed." Salva was indignant.
"Yes, we danced in rain and kissed and I have become mother of your..."
"Get real. Will ya! Stop watching Bollywood movies. Here take this Blu-ray movie and get out of my eye sight."

So Amba came back to Hastinapur.
"Well, it turns out that to get pregnant... and you can see it yourself in this Blu-ray movie."
"Oh! Give that to me. It's mine. I called it first!." Bhishma snatched the disc from Amba.
"Basically we just kissed, danced and nothing more. So I am ready to marry you." Amba finished with a relief.
"You kissed and danced! If he had taken advantage of your innocence I would have married you. But this is huge. I can't marry you now!" Vichitravirya protested.

"You are the reason behind all this. So you have got to marry me." Amba turned to Bhishma.
"I wish I could. I really do. Oh..Oh! you have no idea how much I.." Bhishma strived hard to control his emotions.
"He can't. Because he has taken a vow." Satyavati butted in.
Amba tried reasoning, cajoling and pleading with Bhishma in vain. Finally the fury of a woman scorned came to the fore.
"Bhishma! It is because of you I find myself in this position. I will not rest till the day I kill you and take revenge." Amba swore
and left the palace.

"Oh dear! This is not good for Big B dynasty." Satyavati said alarmed.
"Do not worry. The bows are heavy and women don't have enough kundalini to lift it even." Bhishma said matter-of-factly.

But little did he know that the era of sex change operation and light weight Graphite bows were around the corner.

The Catch Of The Day...

They put back a few that were bigger than these two.  I have no idea how big they can get or how long they live but I want to watch them grow for a couple more years.  In the mean time these two will feed a few hungry mouths and provide fodder for my blog.  Any guesses how they were caught?
Okay, smile for the camera.
Now what do I do with these things?
Here are a few shot my wife posted on Facebook with her iPhone.

MahaBharat : The fisherman who sold his boat

Under his mother's care, Devavratha (that was Bhishma's original name) grew to be a fussy kid. He had dozen tasters test his food for poison before he even put a morsel in his mouth . And at nights he used to check under his bed for assassins - every hour.

But his shrink said, "You are fine. It's a standard clinical reaction of a kid whose mother drowns seven of his brothers. Nothing to worry about." But Devavratha really looked forward to going back to his dad's place because he was kinda tired living with a serial killer and really wanted to be part of a normal family and breathe easy.

And finally on sixteenth birthday, Devavratha went over to his father's palace to start a new life. A life full of promise and hope.

Shantanu: Ah! finally the day I had longed to see for sixteen years.
Devavratha: I was also looking forward to see you too, papa.
Shantanu: I am so sad that I was not there to bring you up. But I will make amends now. Tell me your future plans.
Devavratha: I want to be the king of the world!
Shantanu: That plan has got Titanic written all over it. Do you have a plan B?
Devavratha: I want to marry the most beautiful girl and..
Shantanu: Plan C?
Devaratha: Well, I know that Chinese kids practice archery since they are in womb. But I was hoping to become the best archer in the world.

After hearing his son's dreams Shantanu became thoughtful. It was quiet sometime before he spoke.

Shantanu: Have you read the latest Hastinapur Times best seller - The fisherman who sold his boat? The author self published it.
Devavratha: I haven't read many books. I can't take my eyes off my mother, if you know what I mean.

Shantanu signals and someone brings a book. It is a very thin book. It has few photographs of boats. There is something written in the middle page. Devavratha reads it aloud, 'Any one who stays away from frown, crown and gown will outlive and out shoot anybody.'

Devavratha: Thats it! He self published this book. This thin book!
Shantanu: C'mon! He sold a boat.Not a Ferari.
Devavratha: But do you believe what the fisherman has said.. about this frown..
Shantanu: Don't forget about the crown and gown, my son.
Devavratha: yes, frown, crown and gown. The thing is, I really want to be the best archer in the world and for a long time to come.
Shantanu: Then, you know what you must do.
Devavratha: Yes,I am thinking of staying away from...But..
Shantanu: I see a sense of vacillation. Maybe, you will do well to take a vow to stay away from the evils.
Devavratha: Vow! I mean.. Wow! That sounds...

(Shantanu claps his hands. A guy brings a parchment.)

Shantanu: I have already drafted a vow for you. Now if you can just sign it here..
(Shantanu claps his hands again. Three more guys enter)
Shantanu: I also have three witnesses ready.
Devavratha: Vow! You are really fast.
Shantanu: This is nothing. You must see my Bank relationship manager! If you sign it now, I can get you a new name as well.
Devavratha: New name! Where do I sign it?

(Bhishma signs and Shantanu gestures to the sky. People hidden in the attic shower rose petals. And a loudspeaker starts crackling.)

Loudspeaker: Devavratha! Son of Shantanu! History will remember you as Bhishma.
Devavratha: Bhishma! That name sucks. Why can't I be Mark or Luke?
Shantanu: Now son, if you just move a bit...
(Shantanu takes the parchment from Bhishma and gives it to a witness)

Shantanu: There! My son will stay away from crown and gown. Can I marry your daughter now?
Witness : Now that my demands are met, I do not see any problem.
Bhishma: Demands! What demands? And, You are marrying again!
Shantanu: It's a long story. But yeah, I am going to marry his daughter, sathyavathy.
Bhishma: Who is this man? Why is his face familiar?
Shantanu: He is the fisherman who sold his boat.
Bhishma: Is this all a setup? Am I not going to be the best archer? Am I not...
Shantanu: You are an ashta vasu. You will be the best archer. And you will live till hundred.
Bhishma: What is an ashta vasu?
Shantanu: No idea. But you will live till..
Bhishma: This sucks.
Shantanu: You have entered into a binding contract,son. Stay away from the crown and gown.
Bhishma: And frown?
Fisherman: I just added it because it rhymed.
Bhishma: Oh! Thank GOD.. For a minute, I really thought that is the end of my life.
Shantanu: (To the fisherman) If I remember, you wanted a yacht too as dowry, right? Here is the key.
Bhishma: You are giving him a yacht!
Fisherman: (To Bhishma) By the way, look out for my next best seller - The fisherman who sold his boat and got a yacht.

The only thing that can be said about Bhishma's parents is they made any other parents look good.

From Mahabharat

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My Latest Blog Insights ...

I have previously acknowledged that I am a writer, not a reader, of blogs.  The exception to this rule comes from following the links to my reader’s profile pages, when they leave comments.  I’m curious, some might say nosy, and want to learn what I can about my readers.  Of course many commenters are anonymous or only have an identity for sign-in purposes, with no content associated with their identity.  Occasionally I stumble across something interesting, however.

Seldom do I find the content of other blogs new or interesting.  Looking past the content, I have on occasion seen something in the person and taken an interest in a blogger, following their development to see how well they adapt to their new lives.  Some depend heavily on other likeminded bloggers, for what often resembles a support group.  Many have a short-lived presence online lacking in either talent or temperament, but a few have gone on to do quite well for themselves.  Many of the new guys are so predictable and repetitious in what they write.  It is sadly humorous, the way they take themselves so seriously and lack the ability to come up with anything new or to deal gracefully with their detractors.

Recently something quite extraordinary happen to me.  One link led to another link and I found myself actually reading and following someones blog for a brief period.  Strangely it was a female biker’s blog.  She was on a road trip and posting when she could, at the end of the day.  She had paired up with another guy, not her husband which I found interesting, and hit the road in the Pacific Northwest.  Being me, I had to analyze my own interest in this blog.  First there were beautiful pictures that reminded me of trips the wife and I have taken on the back roads of the West Coast and parts of Canada near the boarder.  That must have triggered within me some nostalgia and identification with the content.

Being a biker of sorts myself, and never having ridden in the States, it got me imagining what that might be like.  Her perspective as a female rider, a slightly less testosterone laden account of the ride and the day, was new and refreshing to me.  The immediacy of the report, as it was written and posted during the ride and not after, helped to make me feel part of the ride.  At times I could almost see the sky, smell the trees, feel the cold wind and the fatigue at the end of the day.  I found myself looking forward to her next post.  Of course when the trip was over and the content returned to fashion, lipstick, tampons and other packing necessities, I lost interest.

The act of finding content in a blog that grabbed me and held my attention, however briefly, got me thinking.  In a comparative look at my television viewing patterns, I seem to be drawn to first person accounts of wilderness adventures.  They are all the more interesting if they are in areas I have visited previously or have an interest in going one day.  Might that not be applicable to my own blog?  People reading for glimpses of their past or a wished for future.  That could explain in part the interest some take in the writer, as well.  Perhaps these same readers go elsewhere for the nuts and bolts, how to stuff, but come here for the imagery of what life might be like for them at some point.

That would also explain why some Chiang Rai residents are less than enthused by my blog.  After all, they are already here and living their own life in the Rai.  I am derided for being too vain and personal in my presentation, even the word narcissistic has been used to describe me.  For the less educated and simple minded residents, my words are too fancy as they prefer a more folksy turn of phrase.  Oddly enough one of my very first supporters was a fellow writer and resident of the Rai.  His critique and words of encouragement as a writer, played an important part in getting me through the first awkward stages of my writing.  Some have great difficulty understanding or accepting there are important differences between Village Farang and his creator and are apparently unforgiving if VF’s words inadvertently touch a nerve.

For those who like backstories, my interest in writing and the online world is relatively new.  When my wife finished her studies at a makeup academy in the Hollywood/Burbank area, I was looking for ways to support her work as a makeup artist.  I knew a photographer, who though primarily a corporate and interior type, did use makeup artists when there were models in his shots.  Being slightly homophobic, he jumped at the chance to get away for the prima donnas and transexual histrionics of those who control much of the makeup business in Bangkok, and work with my wife instead.  He also gave me pointers and introduced me to Go Daddy, domain names and the like.  Being an Apple guy, however, I went for iWeb and a .mac account to set up an online portfolio for my wife’s work.  The iWeb templates were easy enough for me as a beginner to deal with.

He also took a brief interest in my blog when we moved to Chiang Rai and I was first thinking about how to set it up and start it off.  After a vain attempt to get me to sound more like him, he seemed to loose interest as I went merrily down my own path.  While my blog seems to have played a part in the distance that has developed between some friends over the years, in the case of the photographer it was more about going down different paths and a badly handled breakup where the wife and I stayed friends with the female side of the equation.

Looking back I may have benefitted from doing more research and reading other blogs before starting my own.  My rationale at the time was that I wanted to work on a clean slate and not be tempted to copy what someone else had done.  Seems pretty silly looking back on it but we cannot change the past, just learn from it.  I have even been tempted to go back and rewrite some of my early posts with my present insights but have kept them as a record of my progress or lack there of.

There are of course many types of blogs and bloggers.  Some of us personal bloggers can be quite temperamental and react badly to any suggestions or critique of either content or presentation.  New bloggers of our ilk often say they only write for themselves and don’t care what others think.  If that were true they would no doubt keep a private journal and forgo the public humiliation of an online blog.  Perhaps like me they will look back and cringe at some of what they have written but find it within themselves to accept their own shortcomings and revel in their continued growth.  Anyway, this is where I seem to stand at the moment on the topic of blogging.

Phuket Museums

What? There are museums in Phuket? Surely Phuket is a beach resort island.. what could possibly be worth putting in a museum? Well, guess what... Phuket has a long and interesting history. Tourism really only started about 25 years ago and of course now tourism has a massive influence on Phuket and tourism is the most important source of income to Phuket. Thousands of people live in Phuket because of tourism. Thai people come from all over the country to find work here, and of course many foreigners too (like me!) come here to work or retire.

There have been large changes even in the 11 years that I have been here - mostly in terms of infrastructure and the availability of such delights as shopping malls and huge DIY/Home Decor stores. The old history and culture can be a little hard to find under the new layers of modernity, but it's there. Phuket is a big island and there are large areas of quiet farmland covered in rubber plantations or pineapple groves or shrimp farms. You can't see this if you stay at the main beach areas, but if you hire a car and drive around, you suddenly see the old Phuket. Of course people were here before tourists came! Phuket was actually quite rich due to the tin mining industry and rubber industry and fishing and coconuts/palm oil/pineapples/shrimps and the fact that Phuket was an important port. Enough on the history for now... This blog touches on the old side of Phuket quite often. Over the years I have blogged about several museums where people can learn more about Phuket's history.

Phuket Mining Museum

Tin mining diorama

Tin mining played a huge role in Phuket's history and this museum has loads of information and great dioramas relating to the tin mining era as well as geological information and great mock street scenes representing old Phuket. We've been a couple of times, our kids love it, I think it' very well done and entry is cheap - only disadvantage is the location up a hardly-known back road between the Loch Palm golf club and the British international school.

More Information: Phuket Tin Mining Museum

The tin mining industry was based around the Kathu area of Phuket between Phuket Town and Patong. For the last few years, Kathu has had a 3 day street fair with lots of costumes and also tin mining demonstrations.

See: Kathu Street Fair 2011

Old Tin Miner at the Kathu Street fair

Thalang National Museum

The Thalang National Museum of Phuket opened in and provides a long historical record of the people of Phuket ranging from indigenous cultures up to the modern era. There's a big section devoted to Phuket's famous Heroines who rallied the people to beat off a Burmese invasion in 1785, an event that is remembered by a festival every March (the Phuket Heroines Festival). This museum is easy enough to find, heading north towards the airport and turn right at the Heroines Monument, the museum is just 100m along the road.

More Information: Thalang National Museum Phuket

Phuket Heroines Silhouette

(above) - the Phuket Heroines Monument is seen by most tourists coming to Phuket, as it's on the main road from the airport south to most of the beach areas.

Phuket Seashell Museum

Open since 1997, a great collection from Phuket and round the world, shells of all shapes and sizes collected by a local family. I visited for the first time in March 2012, and it's pretty good! Only 200 Baht entry fee.

More Information : Phuket Seashell Museum

Phuket Seashell Museum

Thai Hua School Phuket History Museum

A really interesting (for me!) and well looked after museum, housed in the old Thai Hua School in old Phuket Town. Thai Hua was (and still is) a Chinese-Thai school, with Chinese being taught as a major second language. This was very important 100 years ago with all the Chinese people coming to Phuket. And these days, probably just as important in terms of SE Asia business. The museum is full of displays relating to Phuket history as well as school relics, old photos. Entry 200 Baht. Easy to find on Krabi road, just half a block west of Thalang Road in old town.

More Information: Thai Hua Phuket History Museum

Phuket Thai Hua Museum

Chinpracha House

And just another block west of Thai Hua you find a couple of old mansions. One of these, called Chinpracha House (or Baan Chinpracha) is also a museum. The owner still lives there (upstairs) but downstairs is a wonderful old house full of photos, old furniture, I love the tiles too. We visited first in 2010 as part of a tour organised by Phuket Heritage Trails. Went back in October 2011 for another visit.

More Information: Chinpracha House in Phuket Town

Old Family Photos at Chinpracha House

(above) old family photos at Chinpracha House in Phuket Town.

Phuket Post Office Museum

Just to the east of old Phuket Town is the central post office. There is a new building and next door is the old Phuket post office which houses a small museum that would probably be only of interest to stamp collectors or post office workers! Nevertheless, entry is free and if you are passing by, why not have a look?!

More Information: Phuket Post Office Museum

More Museums in Phuket

There are some oddities in Phuket which I have not blogged yet. In Phuket Town, at least in the old town, just walking around can feel like a museum. Check out old hotels like the newly renovated Memory at On On Hotel or the Thavorn (which has a room full of junk downstairs, which they call a museum) - or the old shops on Thalang Road. Just step into the Old Chinese Herb shop and breathe deeply. Parts of the old town, despite some modern additions, are like a living museum.

On On Hotel, Phuket Town

The Oldest Herb Shop

(above) The On On Hotel and the Herb shop on Thalang Road (Phuket Town)

Phuket Festivals

Some of the festivals in Phuket are based on old traditions. I guarantee that if you head to a shrine during the Phuket Vegetarian festival you'll feel a sense of timelessness. The chanting, the incense, the music, the clothes.. Is this the 21st century?

Lighting candles

(above) Lighting candles at Kathu shrine during the vegetarian festival.

Phuket has way more history and culture than is obvious on the surface. A holiday at the beach in Phuket is nice, but I do recommend a little exploration, and the museums are a good place to start if anyone wants to do more than just eat and get sunburned... also something to do on a rainy day!

Phuket Museums - Google Maps

View Phuket Museums in a larger map

Oh, The college days...! They are the best.

I wonder what professors feel about college days. Have you come across any professors who say, "Oh, The college days...! They are the best."? I have not.

Some people liken college to a paid vacation. It really is not true. It is you who pays for it. No one else! I know that your parents pay for it. But it is inheritance they are paying it with. That's parents! They would spend on educating you instead of giving it to you.

And Some other people say, "college days is an oasis in the desert of life". They read Shakespeare too.

Do you know what I feel about college days?
If life can be compared to a Satyajit Ray movie then college days would be the best part of the movie - intermission.
But however good the intermission is, you have got to get back to the movie. I mean, you have got to find out who is going to get the stale roti - the mangy dog or the poor kid. That's what you paid for. You paid for watching the movie. Not for enjoying the intermission. And same goes with the life and college too. You were born to live the hard life not loaf around in a college.

But I agree that it is in college where you meet your life-long friends and... their future wives. There is no point in crying about it. If it had not been for your best friend, she would have become the wife of your not so best friend. So grow up and be adult about it. A friend of mine, from Bihar, actually married his sweet heart when he was in college. But they still gave him just Bachelors degree.

And it is in college that you develop a taste for Hollywood movies. Basic instinct, 91/2 weeks... But you wish that you could understand what the bloody hell they are talking about. And in college you get to learn a lot too. Most of which you forget soon after, except for the lessons taught by one professor - The good old Mr. kingfisher.

And the moment they set foot in college, guys start shaving. First out of hope and then out of desperation. But seldom out of necessity. My friend's father presented him with a shaving set when he joined college. He returned it back when he finished college - brand new.

I remembered what my father said when I joined college. "I am happy you got into IIT and all that. But remember, inside IIT you are going to be just another guy." That's my father. If he had just batted well, he could have become another Sidhu. But now, it's all just talk and no stuff.

But you know what is the worst thing about college? You struggle hard, pass your exams and announce to the world, Finally! I got a degree!" and the world asks you right back, "But did you get a job?"

Today's quote:
After school, you basically have two kinds of college - B.E or B.P.O .

Check out my hilarious post for Samsung Galaxy TAB contest and vote for it, if you like it.

From Funny Side Of Life

Evening Sky, Yesterday

I opted not to run last night and instead enjoyed the evening sky with Cookie and my wife.  The flood waters have subsided and the floor of our sala is now high and dry after being submerged the other day.  The sky has been cleansed of impurities, at least for now, but as you might be able to see they are burning once again up by the dam.  While there was no color after the sun set, the blues of the sky with its crisp white accents, the brilliant greens of the rice fields and the dark silhouette of the nearby hills made up for it with a colorful display before the sun went down.

Everyday is different, with the colors and shapes changing endlessly.  I never tire of this view.
A different day, a different sky.

It is time to be free!

I love those huge electronic shops in malls. I go from aisle to aisle studying the merits, demerits of each and every item on display. The sales persons never bother me because they know I can be real brutal.

But something strange happened the other day.
"Do you like Samsung Tablet? It's the best, sir." The new sales guy jumped on me hoping for some sales commission.  I had to cut him to size. This kind of optimism did no one any good.

"So... Tablet PC is a laptop with smaller screen, lesser power and no keyboard. Is that right?"
 I asked him innocently.

"No! It is a thinner, lighter device for on the go." He corrected me.
"On the go! I never go! Never. Ever! That's why I have something called house. To put the stuff that I want. Italian leather sofa, LCD TV, Surround Sound, I have everything I want right in my house!  Where will I go? Why will I go?"

The sales guy looked crestfallen. I moved in for the kill.
"Okay! So why do you say Samsung tablet is the best."
The salesperson walked right into the trap. Boy! You should have seen the glow on his face.
"It is thinner, lighter,faster than any other tablet, Sir!"
"What! Thinner by less than a gram! Lighter by 6 mm. A shade faster. Is that why it is the best?"
The salesperson looked like a road kill. But he made one last ditch effort.
"You seem like a very knowledgeable person..."
"Of course, I am. I have been in IT for fifteen years."
"Would you like to talk to Samsung TAB?"
"She will exclusively talk to discerning customers like you." He gestured to someone at the back of the store.

The screen shimmered slightly and out came..... Samsung TAB! Reading the technical specs and seeing the video is one thing. But seeing a person in flesh and blood is.. Boy! I tell ya! She is the fairest, and the slickest of them all.  Her skin, that rich tone, those curves!

"Listen! I am not an ON-THE-GO person. I don't need you."
 I put up a brave front as she glided towards me.
"I see! A designer house where the carpet and the walls match, right!" Her voice! It was so clear and real. She must have had those great surround speakers. A complete multimedia girl, I told myself.
"Is it Nerolac enamel rich finish paint?" TAB asked with an hint of approval.
"Yeah! The Saif Ali Khan one." I said sheepishly.

"Papa,look. I have drawn you and Mom fighting." My two year old kid shouted from across the store. He had a box of crayons in his hand. On the white store wall he had drawn two disfigured circles! Stick hands were poking each others eyes.

"Wow! Doesn't it look like a cave painting? Is he two years,four months and six days old?" TAB asked inquisitively.
"How did you know?"
"That was the mental faculty of cave men. It's all in my digital library - Reader's Hub."
"So my son is going to do drawings.. on walls?"
"Lots of them. For next two years. On the Nerolac enamel rich finish painted walls."
I was feeling slightly dizzy."I need..."
"A drink? There is a bar around the corner." TAB said intuitively.
"Will you join me? I know you will have lot of work."
"It might come as a surprise to you. But I can multitask. The only tablet to do so." She beamed.

There is nothing that can cool down a man like a chilled beer and a pair of sympathetic ears.
"You see! You are always on the go. Sometimes you wanna, but most of the times you havta." TAB said as she sipped her beer.
"How come you are so intelligent?"
"I told you! Reader's Hub. I don't want to brag about it. But it is the best digital library around."
"Can I be frank with you?"
"Men swear that I am their best friend."
"Well... I love my son. But of late.... he is so energetic. Pulling, pushing, breaking things. I keep him in Children's park in the apartment complex all the time just to safe keep my house.
"Oh! Great outdoors, Safe ingates." She smiled.
"But children's park is a brutal place for grown ups." I said
"The see-saws, slides, merry-go-round are five sizes smaller for you."
I smiled. She was funny.

"Seriously! I can't get any work done. What do I do?"
"Get a Tablet!"
"They can go with you to places where no laptop has ever gone - toilets, food courts, parking lots. Trust me, With a two year old, these are the only places to work. I have Polaris office suite, connectivity."
"It's not all about work."
"Sure! Catch up with your college friends who are in the children's park of their own apartments with my SocialHub - the melting pot of emails, tweets, status messages."

She was right. I needed a Tablet. But there was one small thing. I didn't want to break her heart. But I had to.
"Listen! I can't buy you. You are the new kid in town. People will talk behind me, if I buy you."
Strangely she didn't seem affected by my comment at all.
"Would you like to see those comparison tables? Metrics as color coded rows, contenders as columns. "
"I have seen them all. I know you are the best. But you got to admit.. it is just couple of points here and there."
"I know. But I am the best."
"It is necessary but not sufficient condition."
"I see." She said still smiling.

We sipped beer quietly for sometime. Any one can walk into the bar and pick us right out - a couple about to break up. The silence was excruciating.

"So you are the one who gives food to your son?"
"And you are a south Indian."
"You are kidding me. How did you do that?"
"It is elementary. I have a super resolution camera and a dual core Tegra2 processor that can do fast pattern recognition. And.. and you have curd rice stain in your T.shirt."
"Please.. Don't tell anybody this."
"Oh! Don't worry. More men than you think feed their kids. It is harder than many of the man's jobs out there anyway."
"Tell me about it."
"I just did." We both laughed. We were really hitting it off.
"How do you feed him? What's your trick? "
I looked around before whispering, "Romanius, Palisade Guardian."
"Really!" TAB asked in surprise.
"Yeah! Kids love Flash games. They will clean their plate in a second."
"I love Flash too. Do you know who doesn't like Flash?"
"Yeah! What's up with that? How am I going to feed my kid? Are they crazy?"
"No! they are not crazy. But they are.. they are like our fathers."

I took a big gulp from the mug the moment I heard the word father. When I wanted to buy new jeans for the first day of my college my father said, "Nonsense! We went to college in bell bottoms. And that's what you will go in." Boy! That really got me pissed. So I said... "Can it be in blue at least?" That is the thing with fathers. No matter how much you are pissed  with your father, you can't do anything because you are dependent on them. That is, till you start earning.

And Samsung TAB, she was right. Steve Jobs is the mother of all... fathers! The Grand Daddy! He can say things like,
"I will not support flash!",
"You can't download directly to iPad. Use your iTunes."
"Of course, you can only use the apps that I certify."
We went along with him because we were dependent on him. Let's face it, he had the only tablet that's worth buying for a long time.

But times have changed! I looked at the TAB in front of me with open standard HoneyComb. She is thinner, lighter, faster and better. But more importantly she listens to me and works for me not for my father.

"Don't you think it is time to tell your father, I will do what I want to do." She asked me. Her left hand sought and held mine. I looked deep into her eyes for a long time trying to make up my mind.

Finally I said, "You are right. Cheers! It is time to be free." I raised my mug.
"Cheers! It is time to TAB." She said and raised her mug.

This is an entry for Samsung Galaxy TAB contest of Indiblogger. You can watch the recorded video of Samsung Galaxy TAB below, if you had missed the live coverage in this blog.

Indibloggers, If you liked this post please vote for me here.

MahaBharat : Shantanu Teri Ganga Baby killer

After ruling for score squared sans seven years, King Pritam said, "That's freaking long time not seeing a DPL match. I better go and do some penance."

So he went to the source of Ganga (The river) and started his penance. Then Ganga (The Goddess) appeared from Ganga (R) and was taken in by this man of great virtue and prowess. (This is basically vedic way of saying that he was hot, really hot!)

"Oh, You the bull of men! King of great virtue and prowess. Will you take me?" Ganga(G) asked in vedic tongue. (In modern speak it is roughly, "Hey hottie! Are you free tonight!")

"I shall! But first please sit on the lap on left side." The king said.
Ganga obliged promptly.
"Dear Oh, Dear! What have you done?" The king moaned sadly.
"You meant your left side. Not my left side. Didn't you?"
"Yeah!" The king said gravely.

"So, that makes me your..."
"Daughter or daughter in law. Wife, left lap. Daughter, right lap. What did they teach you in school? Or did you go to that new fangled montisorry school?"
"But I fell for your bod.... prowess, prowess. Not for your son's." Ganga pleaded.
"Don't worry! Every male in our family is virtue personified. We are the family of B."
"Yeah! you are the Bachchans and I am Aishwarya Rai."
"No! We are the Bharath dynasty. And you are Ganga.But who are they?"
"Never mind. I will marry your son. Is he good looking?"
"We will know when he is born."
"Yeah! I have got to marry first."
"See ya"
"Wait. Trust me. I solemnly pledge that I will take you as my daughter in law."
"Whatever! But remember. I am doing it for thee. Well, thy bod.... prowess,prowess. But I have a condition. Thy son shall not stop me from doing what I please when I marry him."
"So shall it be. Oh! the stupid one."
"Hey! How did you know my nick name?"
"Lucky guess, I think! Now off you go. I need to do penance to beget a son."
"Is that how they do it nowadays?"
"Off you go, I said." The king thundered. And Ganga (G) went back into Ganga (R).

So the Pritam did do penance and begot a son. (yeah, we are surprised too
!) The nameless king who had earlier been cursed to be born on earth by Brahma was the son. And for a change, he was given a name in this birth, Shantanu.

And when Shantanu became old, Pritam debriefed Shantanu of his promise to Ganga(G).
On one fine day, Ganga(G) appeared before Shantanu and asked him to take her. Shantanu promptly obliged. But they didn't happily live ever after.

Every time Ganga(G) gave birth to a kid, she drowned it in Ganga(R). Yeah! that's how sore she was with ashta vasu for cheating her. But it worked well for ashta vasus because they didn't want to live anyway.

Shantanu really felt bad about this whole drowning as we can see from the commemorative stones that he erected for each dead kid on the banks of Ganga(R).

Here drowned my first son when he accidentally fell from the boat in which his mother was enjoying a pleasure ride. Had he lived, he would have been the bull of the kings for I have not heard of any thirty days old baby crawling to the edge of boat and jumping over it. For sure, he belonged to Big B dynasty.

Here went down my second son, another bull of Bharat dynasty. Another pleasure ride of his mother has turned into tragedy.

Third here.

Fourth. Here... or there?

Fifth, I guess. Wait. it is the sixth! Holy shit. What kind of woman takes a pleasure ride just after a month of delivering a kid.

Place marker for the fifth kid.

Seventh kid. I have come to a realization about this business which this stone is too small to hold.

However displeased Shantanu was, he couldn't interfere with Ganga's ways because of his promise to her. (Between you and me, we think she was too good in bed or he was just an hen pecked husband who was using the promise as an excuse.)

By the time the eighth kid came around Ganga's charm had lost its power. (No surprises there. The shelf life of wife was usually three kids during the vedic time.)

So Shantanu told Ganga, "Honey! If I see you drowning this kid, I will be really perturbed."
"Perturbed!!! You are so mean. Since you are interfering in my ways, I am leaving you this moment." Ganga said.
"Jolly good. I will find another bride."
"Who cares! Take it. Here is your kid."
"No! You keep it. But just don't drown it."

So a bitter court case ensued where each tried to prove that the kid would be better off with the other one. The court after duly noting that Ganga had drowned the previous seven kids also took the circumstances that mitigated the severity of her act , namely post delivery stress, and ruled in favour of Ganga (or Shantanu).

As per the court order, Ganga(G) raised the kid till he was sixteen. On his sixteenth birthday Ganga(G) dumped him at Shantanu's palace and walked into Ganga(R) for one last time.

Thus the bloodiest double action in the history of India came to an end.
Oh, BTW, the kid is Bhishma, the eighth ashta vasu.

From Mahabharat

MahaBharat : Ashta Vasu Or Why shouldn't you cheat in Farmville

This much is certain of ashtavasus (eight vasus)
  1. They are eight in number.

  2. They are collectively called as vasus. (whatever that means)

These are mere conjectures about them
  1. They represent the eight fundamental elements of nature. (Greek only had five. So clearly ancient India had a superior culture.)

  2. They manned the eight sectors of the cricket field in matches between Devas and Asuras.

  3. They represent number eight and by extension any octet entities like raagas, directions etc.

As you can see they were really jobless people. (Indo-Pak cricket matches were more frequent than matches between Devas and Asuras.) For a brief time they thought of blogging to keep themselves occupied. But they found farmville to be more suited to their tastes. So they devoted all their energies on playing farmville and pretty soon got very good at it.

It so happened that their farm was adjacent to that of a guy named Vasishta. Vasishata was a rishi who preached about the evils of farmville within farmville.

What you see is Maya. Farm is out there, people!
-Vasishta in 'The sayings of Vishwamitra'

Vasishta had a unique cow, kamadhenu, which was like the cow of the most advanced level in farmville. It didn't just give milk but milk chocolates! So one of the vasus kinda jumped over the fence of vasishta's farm and stole the cow. The farmville authority got to know this and handed out a life sentence to be served in earth. The vasus filed suo motu habeaus corpus injunctory petition and since Vasishta pleaded no contest the life sentence was reduced to a short life sentence to all but the actual vasu who stole the cow. What it means is that the seven vasus can arrange themselves to be knocked off as soon as they are born. The eighth vasu would have to spend his full life sentence on earth.

Meanwhile, in another part of the world a king whose name is not very important did a lot of penance and got a ticket to go to a DPL (Deva Premier League) match in heaven. If you know your mythology, you would be aware that DPL is really a big thing in heaven. They have cheer leaders, soma party and all such things. Ganga who is performing the double action of a river as well as Goddess was the star cheerleader for the match to which the nameless king had got the ticket.

As the match progressed, the king had lot of soma, lost his senses, and planted a kiss on Ganga.
This angered Brahma so much that he shot off a curse.
"You! Ganga and .. and.. the king whose name I do not know! You two shall be born in earth again and suffer the vagaries of life."

Coming back to vasus, they went and met the friendly neighborhood agent Naradha and told their problem.

"Oh Narada! We want to get over with this curse as soon as possible. You know! Be born and be dead. But we have read so much about the bonds of motherhood. We don't want to cause any grief to any mother. In fact we would like to avoid being born to humans, if possible."

Naradha said, "Ganga is the right mother for you. I would introduce you to her. But I would suggest just one of you to come with me."
"But we all want to be born to the same mother." Vasus said.
"Listen to me! One of you come and introduce yourself as ashtavasu. Then ask her to be the mother for ashtavasus."

So vasus did exactly what Naradha said and Ganga was more than willing to accommodate vasu's wish. In fact, she signed the contract right there in the presence of Naradha.

Once she signed the contract Naradha asked, "Oh! You the stupid one. You know that ashta vasus are eight in number, right?"
"What! Who do you think I am? I am Ganga Devi. Not Rabri Devi."
"But you have signed the contract!" Vasus shouted in chorus.
"Oh! Did I? I will see you on earth. Remember the contract is just about giving birth." Ganga retorted.
"What do you mean?" Vasus asked alarmed.
"Wait and see." Ganga said with an evil grin and disappeared.

From Mahabharat

Por Tor Festival (Hungry Ghost Festival) 2011

Update : Por Tor Festival 2012 was August 31st - September 6th - see Por Tor Festival Phuket 2012.

Phuket has a lot more culture and history than most people realise. This blog has featured many festivals, some are well known throughout Thailand like Songkran or Loy Kratong. And then you have the amazing Phuket Vegetarian Festival, which is celebrated in a few other areas but is centered in Phuket. The vegetarian festival is of Chinese origin. The population of Phuket is about 30% of Thai-Chinese ancestry. Many Chinese came to Phuket in the 19th and early 20th century to set up business or work in the booming tin mining industry, and Chinese beliefs came with them.

The Por Tor festival is held during the 7th Chinese lunar month, so the exact date changes each year. I had never checked out this festival before so was glad of the chance to make a little tour in Phuket Town with Chaya from Phuket Heritage Trails to see some of the festival. We arranged a meeting on Wednesday evening (17th August) in town with several other local residents, bloggers and website owners. After a drink at the very nice Siam Indigo bar in the heart of Old Phuket Town, we headed to the main market on Ranong Road. Unfortunately .. even the local experts sometimes don't know everything.. it turned out that the main event at the market had been the night before! So some of us arranged to meet Chaya again on Friday evening to visit the Por Tor Kong shrine which is the center of the festival. I consoled myself on Wednesday with some street photos ...

Coolest Chef in Phuket

Ranong Road, Phuket Town

Friday evening was great. After being in Phuket more than 11 years, it's nice to find something new. The Por Tor festival is centered around a shrine called Por Tor Kong, it's not far from the big Bang Neow shrine just south of the old town on Phuket Road. The belief is that during the 7th lunar month, the ghosts of ancestors can pass back into their previous earthly realm and visit their former homes. Offerings of food are made and left for the hungry ghosts. Prayers are said to give thanks for the work done by the ancestors in the past. The most common offering is a red turtle cake. The red colour symbolises good luck and the turtle symbolises long life. I went into town with my family, and we met Chaya at the well known Keng Tin bakery where Chinese cakes like mooncakes are made year round. During the Por Tor festival they specialise in making giant red turtles to be used as offerings in the Por Tor Kong shrine which is just a few minutes walk from Keng Tin.

Red Turtle cakes - Por Tor Festival

Keng Tin bakery, Phuket

Making the red turtles for Por Tor festival

(above) inside Keng Tin, red turtles being made. The local name for these cakes is "Ang Ku". They can be made of flour, or more commonly nowadays from sticky rice, then decorated with sugar coatings and lots of red dye. Messages are written on the turtles such as Good Luck, and they may also bear people's names. The Keng Tin shop has been a family business in Phuket for 4 generations and is an important part of the local community - especially at this time of year! The price to buy one of the biggest turtles - about 2500 Baht!

From the Keng Tin shop, it was a short walk to find Por Tor Kong shrine. Again, a place I had never been to, never even knew it was there! It's down a small side road - one of many small side roads that I have never explored. Not enough hours in the day, not enough days in the week to explore it all! Many houses on the street nearby were also selling Ang Ku or other foods, along with stalls selling clothes, toys and the usual assortment of cr*p that makes your kids say "Oh pleeeaaase Daddy, I want one!". It was rather more crowded that I expected. We took our small turtle to the shrine where it joined many more...

Por Tor Festival - Por Tor Kong Shrine

It's a small shrine and it was busy. Candles and incense everywhere. My wife headed inside to join the procession of people heading to the far side of the altar to say a prayer to the god Por Tor Kong who is responsible for releasing (and feeding!) the ghosts. Sometimes as a tourist (and yes, even after living here for this long, do feel like a tourist sometimes!) you feel a bit out of place. In a small shrine filled with people saying prayers, filled with people who have different traditions and beliefs, I just try to keep out of the way (and take photos) - at the same time, it's quite a buzz to just be there.

Por Tor Kong shrine

Por Tor Kong Shrine

The festival seems to have changed a bit over the years. Chaya told us that when she was a kid, it was considered bad luck to be outdoors after dark. I have read on websites that children should not be outside after 6pm. Well, the streets around the Por Tor Kong shrine were filled with kids! Our daughter started chatting to a local girl about the same age as her, who explained to her about the festival and helped her burn the paper money in the furnace. The money which I sometimes see referred to as "hell money" is for the ancestors/ghosts.

New friend

Money for the ancestors

Having taken one turtle to the shrine as an offering, our kids were each given a small red turtle to take home. I am not quite sure if we were meant to eat these or leave them out for the hungry ghosts.. we chose the latter option. We bought plenty of food from the street stalls near the shrine - street snacks can often be enough for dinner! The festival carries on for another week, so we might head into town again one evening to see more. And now I know about this festival, it will be on the calendar for next year... as far as I can tell from looking at Chinese calendars, the Por Tor festival will start on August 31st 2012. Many thanks again to Chaya from Phuket Heritage Trails - if you want to know about the culture and history of Phuket - contact her!

Map of Phuket Town showing location of Por Tor Kong shrine and Keng Tin :

View Por Tor Festival in a larger map

Learning Thai ...

The topic of learning Thai does not escape VF’s tendency toward canned flippant responses to repetitive or often asked questions.  As for the question of how I learned Thai, “Hormones are a great motivator” was my standard retort.  You have to remember I started learning Thai back in 1975 at the tender age of 21, with pretty much one thing on my mind and language helped me get it.  There really wasn’t much English to be found back then and your apartment was little more than a place to shower and sleep, so you were out and about, surrounded by Thai all the time.  Many nights I didn’t even bother to return home, finding myself caught out by the midnight curfew or sleeping at someone else’s dwelling.  Woke up in some interesting places back then.

Three television channels that went off the air around midnight, no cellphones, no internet, no blogs, no one to hold your hand and tell you what to do every minute of every day.  Other than my nightlife activities I would sometimes wile away an afternoon in one of those seedy, rat and cat infested theaters showing nonstop martial arts movies dubbed in Thai, for some ridiculously low price which I can’t recall.  Animals brushing past your leg in the dark, shoes sticking to the floor, indistinct odors permeating the air, just added to the experience.  Listening to Thai all the time gave me a headache but I would start to hear things repeated and if I couldn’t get the meaning through context then it was time to ask someone or look it up.  A scrap of paper to write on came in handy.

On a more formal level, I did study Thai at university.  Who knows how I would have fulfilled my language requirement for a degree if I hadn’t stumbled upon Thai.  They used pretty much the same material as AUA back then, so upon moving to Thailand after graduation, I continued that course of study.  I also taught English at AUA for a few years.  I was not a great classroom student of the language but did learn the alphabet, tones and unique sounds of Thai.  I have never had much use for the written language other than reading menus and road signs but the process of learning how to read and write was invaluable for understanding the language as a whole.

Along with formal classroom Thai, I picked up a lot of very unsavory words and phrases.  The kind of stuff best not repeated in polite society.  I enjoyed the colorful wordplay and double meanings and in some environments knowing the really bad stuff and being quick with a rejoinder, got a positive response and the right kind of attention from the girls.  You had to be very careful not to let those words slip out at the wrong time or in the wrong place, however.  In the end pronunciation and fluency was my forte as I neglected formal language learning and the development of a more extensive literary vocabulary.

I have long sense lost interest in keeping up with the latest slang.  After years of speaking Thai I started to rediscover my own language after meeting my wife and settling down.  Starting this blog progressed that rediscovery even further.  Now that my wife’s English is so good we have settled into an unusual pattern of communication.  I speak English and she speaks Thai most of the time.  With ones passive language ability always being better than ones active abilities, we find this a very efficient means of communication.  These days I do sometimes struggle with fluency when we get around Bangkok friends, since the farmers around here speak something different and their attempts to speak Thai are heavily accented at best.

Some guys go for learning one of the many regional or local dialects and if your intent is to spend all your time surrounded by people like that, there is some merit to going down that path.  I spent over thirty years in Bangkok and developed my language ability accordingly.  At this point I have no real desire to learn how to speak like an uneducated farmer, though my passive understanding of what they are saying seems to have a life of its own.

I can’t comment on the best schools, online options, phone apps or modern techniques for learning Thai.  I suppose someone somewhere has coined a term for the way I learned Thai, ranking it low on their list of learning strategies, but there were few options back then and you simple had to get on with it.  While I learned Thai in a different time, the language is still the same, as is the history, culture and traditions.  I am not up on the latest, best or cheapest places to stay or eat, public transport, where to pickup girls or get a tattoo but I have lived through many changes in Thailand’s recent history that the new guys can only read about.  My knowledge is about Thai society, how it has evolved since my arrival, where I fit in the mix and how to navigate my own path here.

Depending on your partner to teach you Thai, is fraught with problems.  Often they simply don’t have the skills or patience necessary to teach.  Some will actively block your learning as it is not seen to be in their best interest.  By allowing your partner to speak Thai you relinquish much power and control over the relationship.  My wife would say that learning Thai is a necessity, but many women who actively seek farang husbands, do not share her views.

There is no shortcut in my opinion.  It takes time, effort and some form of formal training.  Practice what you learn with everyone around you, not just your partner.  For the most part Thais are very appreciative of any effort to learn their language or eat their food.  So don’t be shy about using what you’ve got and listen intently to the responses and corrections that might come your way.  Whatever you do though, learn Thai.

Tale of two sisters

Long long ago, so long ago, in the gulf of Aqaba lived a king named Brent Krude. He was vitality personified. His presence made lamps glow, palaces warm and industries chug. His enemies decried him as the walking dead from the bowels of earth. But his supporters , and there were too many, praised him as 'The Black Gold'.

He had two lovely daughters - Pat Rol and D`esel. Oh, how lovely they were! They had energy running in their blood, just like their father. And they made the earth move, at least the things on earth. But just as every finger of a hand is different, the off-springs of the father differed too. Pat Rol inherited the smoothness of her father and the snootiness too. De'sel inherited the earthiness and the genuine warmth of her father.

The small differences between the sisters drew a wedge and soon they grew apart. So not long before, Pat Rol led the life of the high society. Nobles like Nikolai Carr, Duke Bike and Lady MaPed became her friends. D`esel cast her lot with the ordinary lorry and dumbo tempo. Pat Rol became famous but D'esel became popular. Because for every Duke there were ten ordinary persons. And this popularity of D'esel made Pat Rol become green with jealousy. So she started a smear campaign against her own sister.

'She's noisy, lumpy and greasy.' Pat Rol cooed in Duke's ears.

'Such a poor listener. You tell her a joke today and she will laugh tomorrow.' She told Carr.
'Oh! That's bad. I need instant response. I am no ordinary lorry.' The carr bristled.

'And she farts!' Pat Rol tells the lady Ma Ped.
'You know! Farticulate matter.'
'Oh that!' The lady's face became red in shame.

As Pat Rol launched a strident smear campaign against her sister, D`esel's popularity plumetted. More and more people shied away from talking to D`esel. Disheartened and hounded, D`esel left the kingdom in the middle of night. She wandered aimlessly for many days. Tired, dirty and hungry she fell unconscious in the middle of desert. There she lay for countless days. No passers by stopped for her.

Then one day, the count of Fiato and his entourage passed that way.

'Aren't you D`esel, the most beautiful of them all?' The count asked.
'Yes, I am D`esel, the unfortunate of them all.' D'esel replied. She told about Pat Rol's smear campaign and ended her story with the words, 'Unfortunately, there is a grain of truth in what my sister says about me.'

Count Fiato chided D`esel and said, 'Daughter! We are the clans men of your mother and we know more about you than you yourself.  There is no defect in you that my ministers Tekno and logy cannot set right.'

'Carr mocks me and says I am a slow listener. ' D`esel whined.
'Sure. Because you go unprepared to a meeting with him. So you take time to react. Instead if we prepare you..'
'pressurize you separately and inject separately....' Tekno intervened. Count fixed him with a stare and continued.
'prepare you before and let loose on Carr at the correct time, he will loose himself in your charm.'
'In our logos it is called common rail system.' Logy explained.

'But I am noisy and.. and...fart...' D`esel hung her head in shame.
'Problems from the days when you spent time in barracks with lorries.' Count dismissed it.
'You mean, you can set me right!'
'Of course. In barracks, you stood at the center and had to be loud for all to hear. And it was never good enough. So there were lot of farticulate matter.' Tekno chimed in.
'But the palace of nobles will not be crowded like a barrack. Carrs and Dukes will be scattered around. So instead of seating you at one place we will let you be here, there, every where a bit at a time. Problem solved' The count boasted.
'By the way, we call it multi jet' Logy butted in.
'Stop the technical mumbo jumbo.' The count thundered.
'Sorry, Boss!' Tekno and Logy apologized.
'So, I can be cured!' D`esel said in a tone that had the happiness of her blissful days.

Then three horses came in the distance. As they neared, D`esel saw the most virtuous of the men mounted on them.
'My sons Palio, Punto, Linea.' The count whispered in her ears.
Shyness overtook D`esel and she was barely able to acknowledge the presence of the new men.

So the count with the help of Tekno and Logy taught D`esel new tricks. Tricks that made Pat Rol eat all her words. And in due time many suitors came to D`esel. But D`esel remained loyal to Palio,Punto,Linea, the sons of count Fiato. Soon D`esel became famous among the nobles and popular among commoners.

And when the time came for the King Brent Krude to give away the kingdom to a successor, he chose D`esel for she had all the qualities of Pat Rol and more.

Maybe you can too give your wallet kingdom over to D`esel by making use of Fiat Upgrade Offer . She sure would cost you less than a Pat Rol car.

This is an entry for 'Freedom from Fuel hikes' contest conducted by Fiat and Indiblogger.
Indibloggers, if you liked this post consider voting for me here.

The business of Self Help

This is little late. But for those booksnails, Harsha Bogle has come out with a new book on self improvment - 'Winning Ways'.
That's one more book I need to get hold of to figure out what am I lacking.

But if you want somebody to analyse successful people and tell you the secrets, Harsha Bogle is the guy. If you have heard of his commentary you will know what I am talking about.

James Anderson thuds one short. Sachin squares up... On the pads. Huge appeal from Andersen. Billy is still considering. Did it pitch in line with the stumps? Did it hit in line? Did it bounce too high? Did it swing too much? Was there an edge? So many things to consider and so little time. Billy, what is your answer going to be? What are you thinking?

Billy: I think I am hungry.

No doubts about it. If you want to find the winning ways, get Harsha Bogle on board. But he will not be the best help if you are already sinking.

Harsha: Is the boat going down too fast? Or is the water coming up too fast? Should we send an SOS flare? Or should we jump into the sea? Or should we try to block the leak? So many things to consider and so little time. What are you thinking? What is that funny noise you are making?

You: Har(Blup.. Blup)sha! He(gulp.. Blup)lppp me! I am drowning and I don't know swi(Blup.. gulp)mming. Gulp gulp..

The first self help book I came across went something like.. seven effective habits of people or seven habits of effective people. I am always confused about its title. But I was impressed by that book! Really really impressed! That's when the authour went for another round of self help. He came out with another book - Eighth effective habit. Guess he wanted to make some more money. That's the problem with self help books. You don't know who the word 'self' refers to - the author or You.

So there is this standard scene they ask you to picturise in all the self help books - imagining yourself dead. The books then ask you to think what you would want your near and dear ones to say about you, about your life. I was really impressed by the underlying thought when I read the first time. It really stumped me. I mean, 'what you DON'T want them to say?' is a pretty easy question to answer.

The answer would be, 'We never knew that the doctor had a fake degree!'

But the question to ponder is 'What do you want your near and dear ones to say at your funeral?'
It is a very tricky question. The underlying idea behind the question is this. It asks you to think what you want your near ones to tell when you are dead. And then lead a life such that they would tell exactly that when you are dead.

Powerful, right?
Self help books are full of such emotional blackmail. The book is kinda saying, 'Don't worry about what others are saying when you live. But think what they will say once you are dead.'

No wonder, these books are popular and the authors go for second helping.

Note: These are the personal opinions of this individual post and not the official opinion of the author.

Quote of the Day
Everybody says 'Follow your Passion'. If it is my passion why did it get ahead of me in the first place?

From Funny Side Of Life

Who cares about Oceanic climate?

Last weekend I went to airport to drop a relative of mine, a software engineer. He was going to U.S for the first time. A short trip,really. Just for a week to seattle. I was really hoping that I get stuck in a traffic jam on my way return. It would have saved me a trip back to airport to pick him up on his retun. That's the problem with traffic jam. It always happens when you don't want one. Have you ever seen anybody saying, "Wow! A traffic jam! Exactly what I wanted now!"

It's kinda cool for a summer,my relative had mentioned in his email from seattle. Of course, the summer is cool in seattle. Seattle has oceanic climate - warm winters and cool summers. anyone who has studied till seventh standard and listened to his Geography teacher will know that. That and the fact Norway has something that should be written as fjord but pronounced as f-y-ord. In fact, every geography question paper from seventh standard to I.A.S will have a two mark question like below

Explain oceanic climate with an example. (2 marks)

I have never understood why the seattle people don't reverse their calender - Just call summer as winter and winter as summer. It would have saved everybody the trouble. But the reason they didn't change - and now I know this because I have become wise to world's ways- is that then geography question papers will be only for ninety eight marks. And that can't do. A question paper has got to be for hundred marks.

Another city which is famous for its weather is Bangalore. But I never understood what all the fuss is about Bangalore's weather. Partially cloudy skies and fully jammed roads - all through the year. That is Bangalore's weather for you.

Saw an advertisement for a new apartment project. The cost is sixty lacs. The apartment is kinda small but it moves with you. The builder is Jaguar. But if you want a loan for it then you have to apply under car loan and not housing loan.

My relative in seattle has sent another email. He seems kinda depressed with all the oceanic climate in seattle.

It is cloudy here and it drizzles. Then the sky becomes clear and it drizzles again. Did you know that in U.S seattle has the highest suicide rate? But I still like it here. Probably because, I come from the land of dead.

Right now he is in this U.S-rocks-India-sucks mood. It's a cancer all software engineers suffer. I hope he recovers from it. Or he succumbs to it and becomes an NRI. It will save me a trip back to airport.

Wearing a Smile ...

The temperature hung in the mid twenties this morning.  The clouds hung low and heavy in the sky as etherial wisps hung even lower than seemed possible, like fingers gently caressing the slopes and treetops.  A light rain texturized the surface of the pond as Cookie slipped excitedly into the water sending a torrent of ripples to the far bank.  Adding to the spectacle was a flock of swallows flying low over the water both observing and participating in this dance of life.  The only players I truly missed were the Pied Harriers that I love so much but this is their time of year to be elsewhere.

A freshly brewed cup of coffee in my hand, I settled into a comfortable chair sheltered from the rain in our pond-side sala, while Cookie tried in vain to catch the monstrous fish that swarmed around her.  Our catfish resemble my lower leg in girth and length, and their six inch whiskers and gaping mouths torment our four legged daughter, disappearing just as she lunges at them.  Her antics are something between that of an otter and a bear, swimming, splashing and diving with total abandon.  Her childlike joy is catching and fills the air, warming the heart.

She has grown from a naughty child into a more respectful young woman who loves her mommy and daddy to walk with her and sit with her while she swims.  These days she refuses to wander off and do things on her own when she is off leash.  While she enjoys interacting briefly with other dogs, and her young son the cat, we are clearly the focus of her attention.  As long as she can see us or sense our presence in the room contentment reigns.

This is a lovely time of year.  The weather is always changing.  The fields are greening up nicely.  The trees are lushly decked out in their formal forest colors, dark and rich and varied.  The trails are sometimes a bit muddy but not enough to deter my running.  Thirteen weeks into this new phase of my life and I have settled into a consistent five kilometer run with an occasional seven kilometer run, all the way to the dam and back.  The 5k can be done even when I don’t feel at my best while the 7k leaves me limp and lifeless but awash with endorphins and a sense of accomplishment.

To avoid injury I try to stick to an every other day schedule but recently weather, darkness and illness have added a few extra down days.  Probably not a bad idea to have a little extra recovery time occasionally, considering that I am no longer a youngster.  I have even started to lose a few kilos though building my strength and endurance has been the main focus.

Travel plans are shaping up for next month so I am determined to do as much training as I can before then.  A break of a couple weeks from my routine should not be a problem and may imbue me with renewed determination when I hit the trails again.  I hate being away from my wife for even a day so this separation, however short, will be far from joyous.  The long hours in transit from here to there become more tedious as I grow older.  Filial obligation beckons me away from my home to the far off shores from whence I came, with a call that cannot be ignored.  A time for introspection, and examining the push and pull of different emotions.

Perhaps I have spent enough time with you today and I should return to the real world for the remaining hours.  Now where did I place that smile and inner glow I was wearing this morning?

MahaBharat : Ved Vyas lands a book deal with Elephant India

Mein samay bol raha hun..

sadhiyon pahale jab Antariksh tha, aakaash bhi thaa, par hindi nahin thaa, people used to go, "what has a man to do to get an aaloo paratha here?" and the dhabha owner would go, "You have got to wait. I haven't got ten hands. Do I?"

Finally, the punjabi owner came out of the kitchen with plates and said, "Tough luck,I Ran out of aloo.There is just one aaloo paratha." There was a huge commotion as people rushed forward to get the aloo paratha.

Ved Vyas, who was nothing by profession and a writer by aspiration saw people pushing and shoving for paratha and had a brainwave. "What if.. What if..", he just couldn't wait till he finished his thought to call Naaradh , summa cum laude cum real estate cum insurance cum literary agent.

"I have an idea for an epic! People, brothers by blood, fight for a.. a.. maha paratha." He told Naaradh with excitement.
"Wow! Show me the manuscript."
"I haven't got one."
"Then get one."
"I can't! I can't write."

That's it. That was the three letter question that came to Naaradh's mind which neither Vyas nor the historians could answer. We don't know the answer either. So we are going to declare the question out of syllabus and move forward.

On Naaradh's request, Lord Ganesha agreed to be the scribe and publisher for Ved Vyas.
"But I have a stipulation. My pen should not pause while I write." Ganesha said.
"Then, I have got a stipulation too.  You should understand the meaning of shlokas that you write." Vyas counter conditioned.
"Then I have one too. I need a finder's fee of ten percent." Naaradha slid his condition in.
"Then you need to get me a television deal too." Ved vyas counter conditioned again.
"I will try. But the sagar is busy with Valmiki guy's book. I will try Chopra." Naaradh sounded doubtful.
"All right then! Let's start." Ganesha asked with his pen and parchment ready.

So Ved Vyas dictated and Ganesha wrote the epic that we call MahaBharath. Ved Vyas used make up difficult words and Ganesha would really have to think hard for the meaning before penning down the words. Meanwhile, Ved Vyas would have thought of more shlokas to say.

For instance, Ved Vyas would go, "Arjun shot an arrow and it went swoing swoing swoing swoing swoing swoing swoing swoing swoing swoing"
Ganesha had hundreds of ways to write the gibberish and he had to think hard to choose the correct spelling. This just about gave Ved Vyas time to compose more shlokas. Alert readers would have noticed that Vyas's idea of buying time was nothing original. Sagar was already deploying that technique in televising Valmiki guy's book.

Thus Ved Vyas dictated MahaBharath and Lord Ganesha set it to letters.

From Mahabharat

Your Favorite Posts ...

I am asking for your help here.  There is a popular posts gadget on the blog but it rates things primarily by page views, considering little else.  My number one post got that way, I fear, through Google Image searches for the Ninja 650.  I would like to think that some people actually read the post but lets face it, many viewers probably went no further than the pictures since that is what they were searching for.

With 220 posts spread over the last four years and with relatively few individuals having read all of them, I know it is a lot to ask but thought I would ask anyway.  Were you drawn here by a particular post?  Do you have a favorite post or genre of post?  I would appreciate any input but a top two or three would really be great.  Even one would be helpful if you could add why you liked it.

Sorry to turn things around on you but this is something I simply can’t do by myself.  As a blogger I am in constant angst about what I am doing and why, as well as who you are and why you are here.  I have asked for your input in the past but this is a little more targeted and less vague so hopefully easier to deal with.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Buying Land ...

Through an email exchange I was asked about the purchase of our land and whether it was done in my wife’s name.  Subsequently, after starting to read this blog in its book form, the answer was found and I was asked to disregard the question.  Fortunately or unfortunately your choice, I had already penned the following and thought I would post it anyway.  Not everyone is so diligent about digging through the entirety of my work and an update on a topic from time to time is not unwarranted in my opinion.

My perfunctory answer to such questions of ownership is simply that my wife owns everything in Thailand.  It saves a lot of trouble if anything were to happen to me.  If I were a man of few words, that answer would no doubt suffice.  Since I have never been accused of being such a man, and since I have an opinion on such things, let me expand.

On a very general level, women’s rights and land ownership for Thai women married to foreigners has come a long way.  Not saying it is perfect but it has improved over the years.  For the specifics of Thai law I would suggest that Google is your friend.  In our case I simply had to accompany my wife to the land office and sign a form stating I had no claim to the land and we were good to go.  At a later date and at my wife’s urging, we went in to get a usufruct and have my name added to the Chanote or land title papers.  This was her idea to protect me from her family if anything were to happen to her.  Again looking up usufruct is probably more useful than my paraphrasing here.

I suppose these questions come up because we have all been exposed to the horror stories of the hapless farang male being liberated from his funds and then sent packing by an insatiable horde of in-laws.  I am in no way disputing the veracity of such stories.  I am simply suggesting there might be more to the story.

Some women succumb to social pressure and try to get as much as they can from their farang partner, to help combat the stigma of marrying outside of their own race.  Don’t forget that in a traditional rural environment, the gossip mill can be a powerful and destructive force.  If you marry a man who is no better off than some poor farmer from the village, then what is the point, in their view.  Foreigners are just too much trouble if there is no compensation for the sacrifice, such as substantial financial reward, real or wished for.  If you are already burdened by the stigma of failed relationships and perhaps fatherless children to raise, then it is not much of a leap to marry for money, the second or third time around.

There are indeed parents who will tell their daughters to get what they can from a man while the getting is good, and the man is still thinking with the wrong part of his anatomy.  Asking a man for land, a house or some other financial contribution could also be seen as a test of both his intentions and his solvency, even from a trustworthy partner who sees a man as something other than an ATM.  Unlike the West where divorce can be devastatingly expensive, in Asia the man can often simply walk away.  You can think of any contribution made to your partner as a no-fault or prepaid divorce where you know in advance exactly what your exposure is.

In the case of a land purchase there is often an undercurrent that a farang might not be aware of.  Most Thais where I live would almost immediately take the land title to the bank and use it as collateral for a loan.  That can make placing the land in the name of a family member problematic.  No telling how that money will be spent so in the end you might be asked to repurchase the same land from the bank or risk a complete write-off.  People have learned that getting oneself into debt, and then begging someone to save you, is much easier than asking for money outright and having to explain why you want it.

I love my wife and like other men of my ilk, would not like to think of her being left destitute upon my demise.  Some other men seem to have no greater ambition than to find the cheapest form of domestic care and carnal satisfaction they can.  Barefoot, wrapped in a sarong, pregnant and in the kitchen or garden, if you don’t mind.  Heaven forbid they wear any makeup or go to a beauty parlor.  They boast about how little money they spend on their wives or that they spend nothing at all and everything is in their name, not their wife’s name.  I find that sad.

My advice is always something along the lines of, if you don’t trust your partner and don’t feel they have your best interests at heart, then you are probably with the wrong person and should not throw good money after bad.  If a refusal or postponement of major cash contributions is considered grounds for ending a relationship then let it end and consider yourself lucky.  This is especially true if you are still in the first year of so of a relationship with someone you really don’t know that well.

Renting in Thailand is often a more rational and affordable route to take.  Unfortunately in the eyes of the locals it provides no future security.  Purchasing land as an investment sounds nice but often doesn’t work out.  I have friends who have done well with condos in big cities or large land tracts in rural or boarder areas but you need to know what you are doing and have some luck.  Remember you are up against speculators from all over Asia as well as Thais.  Some ten thousand rai of land on the East side of our village was swallowed up by a major beer company as an example.  How are you going to compete with that?

In summary, if you want to buy land, do your research and do it locally as the application of laws can vary by region.  Go to the land department and check with the banks to see what they have for sale and perhaps consult a good lawyer if you can find one and are the litigious sort.  Word of mouth and family connections are great but have to be viewed with a health dose of skepticism.

Next question please.