Too Soon?

October 5, 2015 Leave a comment

Can anything be funny, or are some things off limits?

Laughter is a great tranquiliser – a great medicine.  Humour is not easy and not everyone can be funny.  It is a sign of a mature person.

However, most people tend to use slapstick comedy or vulgar language to make people laugh and this does not require great effort.  According to me, true humour is that which can make people laugh without offending them.  There are certain areas like race, religion etc which can affect the cultural sensitivities of people.

Humour can be found in almost every situation in our lives.  By looking at these situations from a different perspective makes us enjoy life and spread some cheer around us.

Smiles and laughter can recharge you and have a great effect on our well-being.   Laughter and good humour is infectious.  The sound of roaring laughter is also contagious.  When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy.  Llaughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humour and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy,  diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress

I love to watch standup comedies, fun sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld, Whose line is it anyway, Just for laughs, Mind your language etc. I also try to play with my daughter whenever I get time. Children have a natural sense of humour and laugh much more than adults. Watching cartoons like Tom & Jerry, Popeye with your child is also a great way to relax at home and enjoy some laughter.

I  love R K Laxman’s  daily cartoon in the Times of India with his unique ‘common man’.  I also love Dilbert strips about office politics.

When it comes to books it has to be PG Wodehouse with his unique style of writing.  Jeeves never fails to make us laugh.   Then there are TinTin comics which are a fun read.

Laughter teaches us not to take everything too seriously. It makes us lighten up and also lightens the mood of those around us.

Whether it is sharing a good joke, relating a humorous anecdote or watching a funny movie – we can inject some humour into our daily life to smile, enhance our personality and spread the good feeling to those around us.

In life we are struck by joys and sorrows which can rock our boat.  In such times we can
.. share a happy moment with family and friends to help to lift our spirits
..count our blessings
..look at things from a different perspective

William James the American author said, “We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we are happy because we laugh.”

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When Childhood Ends

September 28, 2015 Leave a comment

When you stop
To look at the full moon
And utter soft whispers
To the starlit sky

When you climb trees
Or play in roadside puddles
And dance in the rain
in gay abandon

When doubts rise from your bosom
And your eyes light up in wonder
When you move from one task to another
Without loss of energy

When you see no divisions
in colour, caste, race or religion
When you can laugh with joy
Or dance like nobody’s watching

Then there is a child in you
Brimming with boundless joy
Who knows only love
And Childhood never ends

© copyright, skm, 28th September 2015

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Sunrise at Broga Hill & Seminyih waterfall trek

September 20, 2015 1 comment


(source: Wikipedia)

In the wee hours of 19th Saturday we grouped in front of BK at Causeway point.  It was my first trekking experience and we were going to climb Broga hill in Selangor and on our return we were to visit Seminyih waterfall.

Broga is a small town that sits on the border of Selangor and Negri Sembilan in Malaysia. It is situated 50 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur and approximately 33 kilometres from Seremban the capital of Negri Sembilan. Broga takes its name from the River Broga which runs through the area. The name Broga is believed to be derived from Buragas, a mythical beast that lives in the forest.

Broga Hill is frequented by casual hikers. It is approximately 400m in altitude and is easily climbed by most people. The hilltop is unique as it is rather devoid of trees, which is an uncommon sight amongst tropical rainforest. Remnants of burnt out tree trunks indicate that the area may have been ravaged by a forest fire and the trees did not regrow. It offers a good view of the surrounding area and has become a popular picnic and photography spot. (source: Wikipedia)

The trip was well arranged by our lead VJ who has extensive experience in trekking and adventures.  We reached the foot of Broga hill by 6:15am and we started our climb.  It is considered a basic climb but can be a challenge for new trekkers like me.  I found the morning climb energizing and the view of the sun coming out from behind the clouds in the early morning was breathtaking.

Being in a group of 32 people – including Indians, Philipinos, a German and Chinese  also helps us to share our experiences and have fun during the trek.  There are two points before we reach the peak at 400m.

On our return we took a bath in the waterfall at Seminyih.  It was a cooling experience after the climb and we felt refreshed.  After that we proceeded for lunch nearby.  We then boarded the coach for our return trip to Singapore.  We arrived back in Singapore by 7pm.  I found this first trek of mine a wonderful new experience and would love to try similar adventures in the future.

As I had not prepared my handphone, it was not fully charged and I could not capture any pictures.  For my next trip I will not make this mistake…

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Fasten your seat belt

September 4, 2015 Leave a comment

This is the transcript of the speech that I delivered at the Area Z3 Humorous Speech contest held yesterday at Katong CC.

“Passengers travelling on flight  TR2652 to Bangalore please proceed to boarding gate 42”.

I had overslept and just made it to the airport in time.  I checked in my baggage and proceeded to the immigration counter.  I handed over my passport.  The immigration officer looked at my passport and gave me a long hard look….”You have a moustache here”.. “Um – I shaved it off”.  He then looked at me like I was a convict.  He  gave me a dressing down from head to toe before he let me go.

When I  reached the boarding gate I hear the announcement.  All first class and priority passengers can board the aircraft.  Then its the turn of passengers with children.  And finally it’s the turn of the   cattle class to board the plane.

When I finally enter the plane, the first class passengers are already seated.  They have already got their laptops and tablets ready.  And they look at you with a scorn – as If to say “Yeah, Im making money even now”.  You losers why have you entered our domain. 

Contest Chair, Judges and fellow toastmasters –

In the earlydays , air travel was a luxury. Male passengers wore suits and ladies wore dresses . Passengers were treated like royalty and waited on hand-and-foot by stewardesses who looked like Angelina Jolie or Sharon Stone.

Today, air fares have become  so cheap  that on some airlines you may be greeted by uncles and aunties.

Air travel has its quirks and has always been a conundrum for me.

When you enter the economy class.  you find a tall, huge man is trying to fit this big, bulky bag into the overhead compartment.  He is oblivious to the queue of people forming up to enter. Finally he realises that the bag cannot make it after all and the air hostess helps him out.

When I am travelling alone, I always like to select the window seat or the seat near the aisle.  This is because in the middle seat you are awkwardly sandwiched between 2 complete strangers.  On my recent flight I was delighted to get the window seat.  Then this big fat man comes in and occupies the middle seat.  He extends  himself to both sides like an  octopus.. I was left with no choice but to look out of the window.

Once the flight took off, the man in front of me reclines his seat all the way until it falls into my lap. So there I was trapped in my seat with no escape route.

I am anxious during take-off and landing.  Because my wife grabs hold of me all of a sudden. She is afraid of heights.  And I am afraid of her.

Then this gorgeous lady comes in wearing a yellow jacket .. and proceeds to give the safety announcement.  She is so fast that you cant catch any pause fillers.   But no one pays any attention.  “Fasten your seat belit like this. She then proceeds to do the Macarena There are 2 exits in the front, 2 behind and 2 at the sides.  In the event of a sudden drop in cabin pressure oxygen  masks will drop from overhead..  Please put on your mask like this.  If you are travelling with children first put your mask and then attend to your child.  In the unlikely event of having to land on water,  put on the life jacket,  blow into the jacket like this,  and blow the whistle like this.”

And then you can see that another air stewardess  looks at you from behind the curtain that demarcates the boundary of first class and economy.. and then she gives you a look…(as if to say…work harder and if you are lucky you can sit here one day)

Then it’s the turn of the pilot to make his presence felt.  So he comes on air – “Welcome aboard Tiger Airways. This is your captain Derek Marshall speaking,.  Today you are being served by our two charming ladies Vera Wee and Celine Goh. We are currently cruising at 37000ft above sea level and our current speed is 400 miles/hour .   On your left you can see the Riau archipelago and on your right you can see Legoland. At this rate we should reach our destination ahead of schedule”

Once the plane lands, the people scamper and  rush to open the overhead compartments, handphones go ring ring, and people are scrambling for the exit as if there is a bomb on the plane. Even school children are better behaved when the bell rings for end of school.

We have new experiences that amaze us from time to time and we have to be grateful to the pilot and the crew in making each of our flights a safe and pleasant journey!”

Traveling not only teaches us the value of life, but also exposes us to the sights , sounds , and stories of near and far-off places. It compels us to think about everything that is right and wrong with this world

In the words of Gustave Flaubert –

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

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August 28, 2015 Leave a comment



Anyone know the six most frightening words in the world?? The Dentist will see you now

Why do we fear a dentist?

  • Our mouth is a vulnerable part of our body and several basic needs are threatened via the mouth, including breathing and eating
  • people who have an excessive need to maintain control feel very helpless when they are a dental patient
  • fear of syringes, drilling and scary pictures of cavities.

However, my daughter is the first person I know who trusts the dentist more than me.  This is because of her personal experience of plucking a tooth at home.   One day  she approached me showing a tooth that was as loose and shaky as a baby’s rattle.  I tried my best to convince her that I could remove the tooth for her with minimum discomfort.  But she just would not agree.

Holding a tissue secretly..i approached her..asked her to open her mouth.. and when I had practiced the move in my mind… I shot my hand forth and pulled out the tooth in a fraction of a second.  She could not believe when I showed her the tooth..I bought her some icecream to console her.  After that she kept  the tooth safely under the pillow for the tooth fairy.  After this incident my daughter trusted only a dentist.

On my first visit to the dentist – I sat down on the chair.  He reclined it down .  It felt great.

I did not know what a filling was?

What filling would you like – the dentist asked?  Chocolate please I said.  I did not realize that I had a cavity in my wisdom tooth and it had to be filled .

I thought a plaque is an award one gets for making a speech…until  the dentist told me that I had got plaque.

Dentists are so used to injecting local anaesthetics that they seem to get a thrill out of it. Once I visited the dentist because of periodontal problem.   The dentist took out this syringe and he gave a big smile.  I don’t know what was so funny about a syringe.  He then proceeded to inject me all around my mouth.

After some time my whole face was numb… I touched my jaw and it felt strange.  I could not tell if my tongue was still there in my mouth.  He asked me to rinse my mouth.  But when I poured the water in, it just flowed out the same I could not open or close my mouth.  I realized I could not speak.

The dentist then proceeded to clean and polish.  In between he took a drill and drilled.  I thought – Is this a dentist or a civil engineer?  Am I at the right place?

The tools that the dentist uses, the awkward position of lying down makes one feel vulnerable,  and the dentist peering over his mask at you are some of the things that people fear visiting a dentist (Dentophobia)

I visit the dentist atleast once a year  to clean and polish. After the cleaning and polishing, my teeth were pearly white.. they had such a sparkle that I did not need to switch on the lights.

The dentist was a person I feared but now I know that taking care of our teeth is as important as any other part of our body and the dentist is the best person for this job!

Categories: Books

Tuesday Inspiration – Maya

August 11, 2015 Leave a comment


Categories: Books

10 Indian Women in Science!

August 6, 2015 2 comments

Indian women science

It is heartening to know that there is an increasing number of women receiving an education in the sciences in India. Working in science has not been easy for women, with its long hours, societal biases, and the need to get married and have children in between. Let’s look at some of these women, often forgotten heroes, who have made great contributions to science and paved the way for others.

Janaki Ammal
At a time when women were regarded as ornaments of society and were confined to the four walls of their houses, Janaki Ammal certainly broke the stereotype when she pursued a career in scientific research. She was a botanist who studied cytogenetics and phytogeography. She lived in England for a few years, conducting chromosome studies on a wide range of garden plants, but soon returned to India and became the Director General of the Botanical Survey of India. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1957.

Anandibai Joshee
Anandibai Joshee was one of the first Indian women doctors qualified to practice western medicine).
Dr. Joshee’s short life was full of hardships; her family used to be rich landlords in Kalyan, Mahasrashtra, but they lost all their riches, and she was married at age 9 to a widower 20 years her senior. She gave birth at age 14 to a son who died shortly afterwards, and she herself suffered from poor health with an undiagnosed condition that often left her exhausted with shortness of breath and constant headaches. The death of her newborn son due to inadequate medical care is what inspired her to become a physician. She was also encouraged by her husband to study medicine abroad. Dr. Joshee, MD was in the class of 1886 at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (which was the first women’s medical program in the world). On her return to India, she was appointed as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital in the princely state of Kolhapur.

Kalpana Chawla
was the first Indian American astronaut and first Indian woman in space. She first flew on Space Shuttlee Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. In 2003, Chawla was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. She completed her earlier schooling at Tagore Baal Niketan Senior Secondary School, Karnal and completed her Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Punjab Engineering College at Chandigarh in 1982. She moved to the United States in 1982 where she obtained a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1984. Determined to become an astronaut even in the face of the Challenger disaster, Chawla went on to earn a second Masters in 1986 and a Ph.D in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Rajeshwari Chatterjee
Rajeshwari Chatterjee was the first woman engineer from Karnataka. In 1946, she was given a scholarship by the (then) Govt of Delhi to study abroad, and studied at th University of Michigan where she obtained her Master’s degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering. After obtaining a Ph.D degree, she returned to India and joined the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering at IISc as a faculty member where she along with her husband set up a microwave research laboratory where they did pioneering work on Microwave Engineering.

Dr. Aditi Pant
Dr. Aditi Pant is a well known oceanographer who was the first Indian woman to have visited the icy terrain of Antarctica in 1983. She was a part of the third Indian expenditure to Antarctica and received the Antarctica award along with three of her colleagues for their contributions to the project. She worked in the National Institute of Oceanography and the National Chemical Laboratory.

Charusita Chakravarty
Charusita Chakravarty has been a professor of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi since 1999. Born in the USA, she relinquished her U.S. citizenship and now works in India. She has won several awards for her work, most notably, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize. She is an Associate Member of the Centre for Computational Material Science, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore.

Asima Chatterjee
Asima Chatterjee was an Indian chemist noted for her work in the fields of organic chemistry and phytochemistry (chemicals derived from plants). Her most notable work includes research on vinca alkaloids (derived from the periwinkle that is known for its anti-cancer properties), and the development of anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs. She also authored a considerable volume of work on medicinal plants of the Indian subcontinent.

Dr Indira Hinduja
Dr. Indira Hinduja M.D., Ph.D. is an Indian gynaecologist, obstetrician and infertility specialist based in Mumbai. She pioneered the Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) technique resulting in the birth of India’s first GIFT baby on 4 January 1988. Previously she delivered India’s s first test tube baby at KEM Hospital on August 6, 1986.  She is also credited for developing an oocyte donation technique for menopausal and premature ovarian failure patients, giving the country’s first baby out of this technique on 24 January 1991

Dr. Suman Sahai
Sahai obtained a Ph.D from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in 1975. She then successively worked at the University of Alberta, University of Chicago,  and the University of Heidelberg,  where she obtained her habilitation in human genetics.  According to the Web of Science, , Sahai has published over 40 articles, mostly on policy issues relating to genetically modified organisms, which have been cited over 150 times, giving her an h-index of 7. She is director of the NGO,  Gene Campaign

Dr Sunetra Gupta
is a  Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford with an interest in infectious disease agents that are responsible for malaria, HIV, influenza and bacterial meningitis.. Gupta is currently Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. She sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press. She has been awarded the Scientific Medal by the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her scientific research. Her novels have been awarded the Sahitya Academy Award, the Southern Arts Literature Prize, shortlisted for the Crossword Award, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. Gupta’s portrait was on display during the prestigious Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition along with leading female scientist such as Madame Curie in July 2013

(source: Wikipedia)

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Isn’t Your Face Red?

August 4, 2015 1 comment

When was the last time you were embarrassed? How do you react to embarrassment?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us RED.


I dread may ask why? One of my most embarassing moments was at a toilet.
I entered the ladies  toilet.

I dont know why but the symbol for mens and ladies were very similar at this toilet.  Probably it was
drawn by a unisexual artist. And once inside I could not find the familiar urinals and I knew I had made a mistake.  And before I could react, I saw a young lady charge at me from the opposite side.

My face, ears everything turned red.  Beads of sweat started trickling from my forehead.  I had  a lot of explanation to do.  It was a practical exam for me in negotiation skills. I will not forget that day.. it was truly embarassing!

After that day, I always double check signs before I  enter.

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Lucky star!

August 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Today is your lucky day. You get three wishes, granted to you
The Daily Post. What are your three wishes and why?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us WISHES.

My 3 wishes would be:

  1. World Peace: I wish for a world which is free from fear and lives in peace. A world not divided by narrow mindedness, caste, creed and colour.
  2. Alleviation of Poverty: Today if there is more kindness around, it is possible for the rich nations and top net-worth individuals to help to alleviate some poverty in those nations like Sudan, Ethiopia etc where children are malnourished and live in abject poverty. Ofcourse, the ideal situation would be where everyone would contribute based on their capacity.
  1. Education for all: My wish would be for a world where education can reach the nooks and corners of every village.  Where NGOs, voluntary organisations and private companies work supported by governments to make sure that every child has access to basic education.

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From Rameswaram to Rashtrapati Bhavan!

July 28, 2015 2 comments

dr kalam

I was very sad to hear about the passing away of my idol – a true source of inspiration to many- Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam – the Former President of India!  He is in my opinion one of the greatest leaders India has produced.   He will always remain a beacon of knowledge, leadership and humility.

I read his memoir “Wings of Fire” last year.  The journey of his life from Rameswaram to Rashtrapati Bhavan is a great example of a man’s dedication, values and ideals in life.  The anecdotes that he has related are all lessons for us to emulate.

He continued the great work of stalwarts of the Indian Space Program like Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and brought our space program to even greater heights.  Space research is today one of the areas that India leads the world!  Our mission to Mars is an example of the great strides we have made under the exemplary leadership of people like him.

Another quality that endears all to Dr. Kalam is his closeness to children and his humility.  He always had that quality of being simple, approachable and human in his interaction with people.

Some of Dr. Kalam’s achievements were:

  • Kalam started his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army, but remained unconvinced with the choice of his job at DRDO.
  • At ISRO, he was the project director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near earth orbit in July 1980.
  • Kalam first started work on an expandable rocket project independently at DRDO in 1965. In 1969, Kalam received the government’s approval and expanded the program to include more engineers.
  • In 1963–64, he visited Nasa’s Langley Research Center in Hampton Virginia, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland andWallops Flight Facility situated at Eastern Shore of Virginia.
  • During the period between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar SLV and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be success.
  • In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, namely, Project Devil andProject Valiant , which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme.
  • Kalam played a major part in developing many missiles under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program  including Agni, an intermediate range ballistic missile and Prithv
  • The Pokhran-II nuclear tests wereconducted during this period where he played an intensive political and technological role
  • He received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna,  India’s highest civilian honour.

In his book “Wings of Fire”.  Dr. Kalam said “For me, science has always been the path to spiritual enrichment and sellf-realisation”.   He was a scientist who maintained a working relationship with God. He believed that sometimes without the slightest warning, something new breaks into your life and a secret decision is taken, a decision that you may be completely unconscious of, to start with.

Categories: Books

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