In Search of a Better World

In Search of a Better World
Soul Searcher

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Indo-PaK Coexistence so difficult

Friendship between Indians and Pakistanis
Myth , Pipe-Dream or a Distant Reality

While watching CNN last night I saw a commercial for Mobilink which is the advertisement they run in Pakistan. Take 3 minutes to watch it and I am sure you will be struck as I was that this commercial would strike the same chords in any part of India. I also loved the song "hum Bolen Mohabat ki Zubaan" and I hope you like it too

As I searched “you tube” to share this with my blogging world, I found several others all of which show that while selling to us Advertisers appeal to the same emotions and touch the same chords. Somewhere deep down I believe we are one people. A one minute clip is linked below:

I know it is hard for those who lost near and dear ones in 26/11 or for the relatives of those brave soldiers who lost their lives in 1965, 1971 or in Kargil.

I personally think these are wedges and differences, canyons and chasms between our countries created largely by self serving politicians, greedy warmongers and corrupt generals which now look as if they cannot be bridged.

We look the same, we talk the same, we share the same roots and culture and yet we have drifted so far apart we are left with only hatred, revenge and suspicion. Things perhaps will never improve but some where in the not too distant past something went horribly wrong and none of us did anything to correct it.

However, I still have memories of a packed Chennai stadium giving the Pakistan team a standing ovation as they did their lap of honour after they beat India in a test match. I also remember the hype of Chandigarh laid out the red carpet for a Visiting Pakistan team. And Finally I remember an entire Pakistani stadium chanting Balajeee, Balajeee, Balajeee during an Indian visit to Pakistan as well as the hospitality extended to the entire team during the visit.

In my travels abroad I have bonded with a Pakistani or an Afghan co traveller just because we share the same passion for Dal and roti and go scouring the streets to see if we can find a place which will give us one irrespective if the Chef is Indian, Pakistani , Akghan or Arab...

I think we can still mend fences.

Peace is always preferred to War and or am I too idealistic.

I wonder if we can ever open the gates of the mind

or will the sentries of "prejudice and mistrust" rule and guard as always ….

Saturday, February 14, 2009


One of my favourite quotes used to be that in the "Rat Race" of life even if you come first, remember that you are still a rat, albiet the fastest one. This piece which came to me in the mail is a wonderful riposte to the concept that Life is a rat race. It is one only if we make it so. The choice as always is within.

This is a remarkably beautiful poem which implores us to enjoy each moment of the wonderful journey that is life.. I am advised that this poem was written by a terminally ill patient in a New York Hospital. Very tragic, poignant and moving


Have you ever watched kids On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day On the fly?
When you ask How are you? Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores Running through your head?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child, We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time To call and say,"Hi"

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there..
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift.... Thrown away.

Life is not a race ! !
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Once Upon a Time, Seven Centuries Ago

My history teacher used to tell fascinating tales of the Chinese travelers to India from the court of the Great Kublai Khan and his ilk. I grew up in an era where journeys were well planned with tickets bought well in advance, accommodation booked and the internet scanned for places to see and safety tips for international travelers. The idea of intrepid explorers travelling the silk route in search of new lands, people, trade and cultures never ceased to fascinate me.

During my assignment in Kazakhstan, I was thrilled to see the ruins of Saraishyk which is situated about 50 kms from Atyrau. This was one of the towns which flourished in a time when the Silk Route was still a busy route and had not yet been upstaged by the sea route as the preferred mode of travel. This town lies on the dotted line going towards the North alongside the Caspian Sea in the map below.

As I fly to and from Atyrau, I see the vast expanse of desert and one of the most hostile environments on our planet. There is very little vegetation, and almost no rainfall. I cannot imagine how the explorers of ancient times actually travelled this route for trade. The fact that they did and that the route remained the communication between the countries along the route is a tribute to the triumph of the human spirit and endurance. The route as such is comprised of many sub routes.

The Silk Route stretched for thousands kilometers leading caravans across scorching deserts, picturesque oases, and mountain passes. Empires, Civilizations and cities came up, prospered and decayed over time but the Silk Route continued. Cities along the route witnessed devastating wars, destructions, fires, famine and death. The Route also carried merchants who for centuries carried to Europe precious silks and stones, spices and dyes, gold and silver, exotic birds and animals. With the change and passing of empires, religions, the Crusades and world political orders, the route and the peoples living along it adapted and survived from being Buddhists in Central Asia, to converting to Islam after the fall of the Mongols and the Huns. Today the countries along the Central Asian Part of the route are primarily Islamic but years under communist Russia where religion was not encouraged by the State have made these states vastly different from their Arab counterparts in their religious outlook.

Saraishyk, alongside other cities, was founded in in about 1250 during the first decades of the life of the empire of the Zhoshi Ulus, which later was referred to as the Golden Horde, in order to control the huge territory from the Irtysh River to the Danube. Saraishyk is a town which survived longer than most primarily because it was not on the main Silk Route route but on one of the off-shoots which though not directly on the route was close enough to reap the benefits of trade. There is a small museum of the site which also has a reconstruction of the city as it would have looked.

The local also tell stories of how Timur Lang used to visit and was bribed not to loot the site.(Timur died in Otrar in Kazakhstan was buried in Samarqand, and his mausoleum, the Gur-e Amir, is one of Samarqand's great architectural monuments. Tamerlane built many spectacular palaces and mosques, the most celebrated of which are in Samarqand. Although he was notorious for his cruelty in war and for the many atrocities committed by his armies, Tamerlane was also a lover of scholarship and the arts. One of his descendants, Babur, founded the Mughal Empire in India in 1526)

Our guide told us that trade here was rich and varied. “Necklaces from glass, cornelian and crystal beads, and mountings from turquoise for rings were made in Saraishyk or brought from Iran and Central Asia. Magic "kauri" bowls were brought from India; ( kauri is a traditional wood associated with New Zealand’s North Island but it surprisingly is traced from India here) amphorae brought from the faraway Black Sea trade city of Trapesund were used for transportation of wine and oil. Magnificent enameled dishes and vases made by local masters decorated the homes of other cities of the Golden Horde.” Painting and the arts also flourished here and a sample is below:

Also found here are the tombs of the seven Khans who are founding influence and epitomize the nomadic and warlike Kazakh tradition.

I am told that the town was finally washed away by a change of course in the river Zhaiyk. The ruins still have some of the skeletons of the ancient inhabitants which are surprisingly well preserved.

Poetry and philosophy also flourished here in the halcyon days I am told and I am sobered by the thought that people from my country used to trade here and travelled here using branches of the Silk Route seven centuries ago. (And I used to think that I was brave to have ventured here on an IT assignment in the 21st Century!)

One of the poems engraved on the earthen pottery unearthed here is translated as below:

"The beauty of a person is the face. The beauty of the face are the eyes. The beauty of the mouth is the tongue. And the beauty of the tongue is the word".

How true! What finally remains is the word. The explorers and traders like Marco Polo, Fahien and Hieun Tsang, carry back their impressions of peoples and cultures and these become part of the folklore and stories when they reach home. These impressions find their way into scrolls parchments and finally books which is how History remembers you, your people and your civilization.

Photographs Courtesy-Rajneesh Thamke

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Credit Crunch Jokes

The best credit crunch jokes to have you laughing all the way to the bank

How do you define optimism?
A banker who irons five shirts on a Sunday.

What's the difference between an investment banker and a large pizza? The pizza can still feed a family of four.

As a surprise, a chief exec's wife pops by his office. She finds him in an unorthodox position, with his secretary sitting in his lap. Without hesitation, he starts dictating: '. . . and in conclusion, gentlemen, credit crunch or no credit crunch, I cannot continue to operate this office with just one chair.'

Why have estate agents stopped looking out of the window in the morning?
Because otherwise they'd have nothing to do in the afternoon.

What do you call five hedge fund managers at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start.

What's the difference between an investment banker and a pigeon?
The pigeon is still capable of leaving a deposit on a new Ferrari.

The credit crunch has helped me get back on my feet. The car's been repossessed.

Latest news: The Isle of Dogs bank has collapsed.
They've called in the retrievers.

What do you say to a hedge fund manager who can't sell anything?
A Quarter-pounder with fries, please.

Overheard in a City bar: 'This credit crunch is worse than a divorce. I've lost half my net worth and I still have a wife.'

The bank returned a cheque to me this morning, stamped: 'insufficient funds.'
Is it them or me?

Bradford & Bingley employees are concerned they were given no notice of the takeover by Santander Bank.
A Government spokesman said: 'No one expected the Spanish acquisition.'

What's the difference between the BBC's Business Editor Robert Peston and God?
God doesn't think he's Robert Peston.

You know it's a credit crunch when...
* The cashpoint asks if you can spare any change.
* There's a 'buy one, get one free' offer - on banks.
* The Inland Revenue is offering a 25 per cent discount for cash-payers.
* Gordon Brown has stopped chewing his nails and started sucking his thumb.
* Your builder asks to be paid in Zimbabwean dollars rather than sterling.

What's the capital of Iceland?
About £3.50.

An architect, a surgeon and an economist are discussing the Creation. The surgeon says: 'Look, we surgeons are most important. God's a surgeon because the first thing he did was to extract Eve from Adam's rib.' The architect says: 'No, wait a minute, God is an architect. He made the world in seven days out of chaos.' The economist smiles: 'And who made the chaos?'

A man went to his bank manager and said: 'I'd like to start a small business. How do I go about it?' 'Simple,' said the bank manager. 'Buy a big one and wait.'

Money talks. Trouble is, mine knows only one word: 'Goodbye.'

A young man asked an elderly rich man how he made his money. 'Well, son, it was 1932. The depth of the Great Depression. I was down to my last penny, so I invested that penny in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing the apple and, at the end of the day, I sold that apple for ten pennies. 'The next morning I bought two apples, spent the day polishing them and sold them for 20 pennies. I continued this for a month, by which time I'd accumulated a fortune of £1.37. 'Then my wife's father died and left us £2 million.'

What have an Icelandic bank and an Icelandic streaker got in common?
They both have frozen assets.

A director decided to award a prize of £50 for the best idea of saving the company money during the credit crunch.
It was won by a young executive who suggested reducing the prize money to £10.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Amazing Trivia

Here is an amazing collection of facts I received in the mail. I found them very interesting. I hope you do too.

In the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have "the rule of thumb".

Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled "Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden"...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.

Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.

Coca-Cola was originally green.

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king in history: Spades - King David Hearts - Charlemagne Clubs -Alexander, the Great Diamonds - Julius Caesar

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg inthe air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?

A. One thousand

Q. What do bullet-proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?

A. All invented by women.

Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil
A. Honey

In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase........."goodnight, sleep tight."

It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them "Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down." It's where we get thephrase "mind your P's and Q's"

Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill,they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.

Don't delete this just because it looks weird. Believe it or not, you can read it..........

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg.The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid aoccdrnig to rscheearch atCmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteerbe in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitllraed it wouthit a porbelm Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raedervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe

.Amazing huh?~~~~~~~~~~~And they tell us spelling is important!

AND FINALLY~~~~~~~~~~~~85% of the people who will read this will try to lick their elbows or at least think about it...