The perfect Yogi

When one’s mind is at peace and fully contented with the Gyan (Knowledge or wisdom) it has acquired, one whose mind is constantly stable, who has controlled his senses well and considers dirt, stone and gold as one, is said to have achieved unity with God. He is the perfect Yogi. ~ Shrimad Bhagvad Gita – Chapter 6 – Shloka 08

India-Iraq ties

“The Indian rupee was used as currency in Iraq from 1917 until Iraq’s formal independence from Britain in 1932, when it was replaced by the Iraqi dinar.

But our connections predate the British occupation, and there were very strong centuries-old religious and economic ties between our two nations. The gold that covers the domes and minarets of the shrines of the Imams in Iraq were donated by Indian Rajas. Our trading and merchant families sent their sons to settle in India, as well as many Indian families that came on pilgrimage chose to settle in Iraq. They brought with them Indian culture and cuisine.

In the Basra area in the south of Iraq, people still use many varieties of biryani and other spicy dishes, which other Iraqis find difficult to handle.”

IISS-Oberoi Lecture
Dr Hussain Ibrahim Saleh al-Shahristani
Deputy Prime Minister for Energy, Iraq
Rooftop, Trident Nariman Point, Mumbai
Wednesday 14 August 2013

Around the world on bicycle, Somen reaches Baghdad

Somen Debnath is in Baghdad now. He is staying at the Indian Embassy. I met him at the residence of the Indian Ambassador yesterday. I came to know of his arrival to Baghdad a few days back through Prashant. Debnath hails from West Bengal (India).

Somen Debnath with his bicycle in Baghdad

He is cycling around the world and has now reached Iraq after covering 77 countries. He started his journey in 2004 and plans to complete in 2020. His mission is to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

With Somen Debnath

After the reception and dinner at the Indian Embassy to welcome the Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid in Baghdad on June 19, we had a nice chat for quite a long time. He was narrating his experiences in different country. I invited him to our house.

His next destination is Kuwait. Debnath is awaiting visa from them. Otherwise he will go to UAE from Iraq. He already got the UAE visa. He is blogging his journey & experiences.

Today Somen came to our house in the afternoon. We had dinner together. It was nice chatting with him.

Indian Foreign Minister in Baghdad

India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is now in Baghdad on a two-day visit. His visit is expected to mark revival of the close India-Iraq relationship, which was disrupted in 2003.

Iraq is trying to increase its oil production and seeking investments to repair its infrastructure and for its economic development while India is looking at increasing its import of Iraqi crude.

The US Energy Information Administration has estimated that India and the US were the topmost destinations for Iraq’s crude oil exports in 2012, with both importing 19% each of Iraq’s oil production. Iraq exported 13% of its crude to China last year.

Indian Embassy hosted a reception today in the evening to welcome the External Affairs Minister in Baghdad.

The First Secretary/HOC DV Singh called me on 11th June to invite me for the reception. He also sent an official invitation via email.

A tiny part of Indian community in Baghdad

Mr Khurshid addressed the tiny Indian community in Baghdad.

The embassy also hosted a dinner, which was also attended by Sheikh Dr. Humam Hamoudi, Chairman of the Iraqi Foreign Relations Parliamentary Commission, Hoshiyar Zebari, Foreign Affairs Minister, Iraq, Dr. Al-Araji, Chairman, National Investment Commission.

Foreign Ministers of both the countries – Hoshiyar Zebari & Salman Khurshid

Let’s hope that Khurshid’s visit to Iraq revives and restores close India-Iraq ties, which would prove beneficial to both the nations both economically and strategically. I also heard the Indian Oil Minister Veerappan Moily is visiting Baghdad shortly. Suddenly, Iraq is back on India’s radar.

Indian Telegram is becoming history now

On July 14, India will send its last telegram. From July 15, BSNL which operates the telegram services in India will discontinue the 163-year-old service. It was in 1850, when subcontinent’s first telegram was transmitted from Calcutta to Diamond Harbour, a distance of ~50 km. The world’s first ever telegram was sent by Samuel F.B. Morse in Washington DC in 1844. In India, telegraph services were introduced by William O’Shaughnessy, a British doctor and inventor who used a different code in 1850 to send a message.

It was the text-messaging service of its age, an invention as awe-inspiring in its time as electricity, flight and the moving image. For the 19th and 20th centuries, its short messages, worked into Morse code and out into language again, then delivered by postmen, connected human beings in faraway places. It was initially installed by the East India Company as a way of linking up the vast reaches of the subcontinent for its trade and administration. It was later on extensively used for India’s freedom movement, also.

More than the Internet and email, it is the mobile phone that has led to the demise of the original character-constrained mode of communication. Because of higher cost, people used to send urgent and serious messages in brief via telegram. The arrival of a telegram could make the heart skip a beat or the stomachs tighten.

At their peak in 1985, 60 million telegrams were being sent and received a year in India from 45,000 offices. Today, only 75 offices exist, though they are located in each of India’s 671 districts through franchises. And an industry that once employed 12,500 people, today has only 998 workers.

After joining Punjab National Bank as Management Trainee in 1985, we were sent to various parts of India for training. I remember we then used to communicate to our family often through telegrams. Telegrams were then the fastest mode of communications. I also liked the way the message was printed on a thin strip of paper that was then pasted on a larger sheet to be delivered to the addressee.

While working in bank, I have sent and received many urgent messages and encrypted telegrams for financial transactions. Even we used to wire our key figures to Regional Office after closing of each half-year. We used to have code books and formulas to manually generate the test key and then that was suffixed to the codified message for sending via telegram. On receiving the tested and encrypted telegrams, we used to decipher the codes, test keys and match with contents to apply the message. This is the reason that quick funds transfers are known as wire transfers or TT (Telegraphic Transfers).

I have not sent a telegram since a long time but the thought of the service, although past its shelf life, makes me nostalgic. Yes, I feel nostalgia for its passing, taking down with it an entire matrix of technology, language and feeling that kept a door open to many Indian pasts. It’s end of an era.

PS: With telegrams becoming history, how will we communicate during times of Alien attack!

Kill time

“Who has never killed an hour? Not casually or without thought, but carefully: a premeditated murder of minutes. The violence comes from a combination of giving up, not caring, and a resignation that getting past it is all you can hope to accomplish. So you kill the hour. You do not work, you do not read, you do not daydream. If you sleep it is not because you need to sleep. And when at last it is over, there is no evidence: no weapon, no blood, and no body. The only clue might be the shadows beneath your eyes or a terribly thin line near the corner of your mouth indicating something has been suffered, that in the privacy of your life you have lost something and the loss is too empty to share.”
― Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

No time like the present to protect the past

Today is March 31 and it’s World Backup Day.

There are two kinds of computer owners: those that backup their data, and those who will backup after they lose something irreplaceable. It’s that last group for whom World Backup Day exists, and the special occasion has returned for a third year to make sure we all wind up in that first, very responsible camp.

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to have at least some kind of safety net. Along with ridiculously high-capacity external hard drives, both Mac and Windows users have simple built-in software to make backup a set-it-and-forget-it affair. No money or room for an extra drive on the desk?

No problem: cloud storage is ubiquitous, and even includes unlimited options. Mobile users have it a little easier with a myriad of Apple, Google and Microsoft cloud services, although there are third-party options in that space, too.

In short, you’ve got few excuses to skimp out when it comes to safeguards, and enough choices to seriously consider using two or more — which might be wise in this dangerous era of meteorite showers and brick-tossing robots.


Social media etiquette

Just because we live in the digital age doesn’t mean manners have become obsolete. Rather, they have evolved. I reblogged this post from Lauren Conrad. Now that we communicate with one another (constantly!) through various social media channels, we need to exercise our best (online) etiquette now more than ever. I think that because we can easily hide behind a computer or phone, we often take chances online—behaving in ways we wouldn’t otherwise act in public. This can be great because it encourages us to take chances and be more forthcoming, however, it can also create a diffused sense of responsibility for our actions. In light of this, I will be going over the do’s and don’ts of social media etiquette today! Take note and don’t forget to share this post on your social media feeds, too.

The Do’s

  • Do remember that your comments and postings will follow you (long, long after they have been shared). If you wouldn’t say it in front of your grandmother, it’s probably not a good idea to post it online.
  • Do consider your tone. Are you a “Face-bragger” or complainer? If so, reconsider your posting strategy because no one likes a Debbie Downer or a pompous poster.
  • Do think before you tag or upload. There’s nothing worse than someone tagging you in the most unflattering photo imaginable. When you do tag someone or upload a photo of them, put yourself in their shoes and reconsider if you’re unsure. Remember that your online actions can affect others.
  • Do ignore. If someone is being mean to you online or says something you totally don’t agree with, just ignore them. It’s the graceful thing to do.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t overshare. There is a line that is often crossed and it’s important to remember where to draw it. No, I don’t care to hear about your bodily functions or sad breakup rant. Sorry. Some things are meant to be personal, which takes me to my next point.
  • Don’t get too personal. Arguments, feuds and the like are best kept offline. Personal attacks not only reflect poorly on the attacker, but let’s be honest here, no one wants to see it anyway. Also, don’t take things too personally either. If someone doesn’t friend you or tweet you back right away, it probably means they haven’t been checking their account as often as you. Give them time!
  • Don’t constantly ask people to follow you or like your page. It’s not only demanding, but you should let people follow and like what they want.
  • Don’t overload everyone’s feed. Nothing annoys me like someone tweeting 10 things in a row or pinning 100 images all at once. I’m sure more of you are probably not fans either.

The Golden Rule

Act the way you want to be treated online. And share this post—let’s spread the word! (You can use the social media icons at the bottom of this post to share it in a snap.)