Harish Marnad's Diary

Interesting Opinions and Demystifying One liners!

Making Money!

For a happy life, Making money should not be the ultimate goal,
Rather, it has to be a byproduct of something much greater.

Why talk to the dead?

Here is a quick question..

Why do we don’t give enough complements (or even care enough) when the person is alive and pour in with appreciations once the person is dead? Why do we do this? For whom are we complementing? Is this true appreciation or pure posturing?

Strange some of our habits and practice.

Message from a Martyred Soldier

Why? Why did I sacrifice my life for our nation? For whom did I sacrifice my life? Was it for our corrupt politicians, greedy corporates or for the selfish insensitive people who are full of themselves? Do they really, honestly deserve my sacrifice? The answers might be obvious but I will let you decide for yourself.

Martyrs Day

I often wondered as why did we create so many different countries in the first place? Surely, god did not do this. It was us, humans. We might have had nobel intentions but having so many countries has created another way to feed hatred in the world. When I was a kid, I remember my mom saying to me to be good to all my friends, regardless of who they are but as countries we are do exactly the opposite i.e. to promote groupism and nepotism and use this well accepted norm to discriminate against other countries and its people.

I think division of humanity along geographical lines is probably the most dangerous thing we have done because it is more powerful and most accepted than any other form of division. Imagine and tell me as the wars we have fought over the entire human history was ever possible without dividing ourselves geographically. Until now, this has probably killed more people than any other man made problem.

Now, this division based on countries is so acceptable that we dont feel it as divisions at all. In fact, we have managed to evolve this inherently divisive idea into its own virtue called patriotism and promote it even further. This patriotism makes us do great things but it is such a strong emotion that we tend to lose our sanity very easily and hurt and kill each other even during trivial enterntainment events like football matches.

Why did I tell all this? Well, because we soldiers have faced the biggest brunt of creating these countries. In my simplisitic brain, it would have probably prevented huge exploitation of some countries from others. I know that we cannot turn the clock back or create radically new ways of living now and hence I only limited myself to have a simple stupid dream of a world where there was no need of any soldiers. I know this is self-defeating in a way but I was always willing to look for totally different profession if it had a chance to make the world a more peaceful place.

I know, I do know that even this is a far fetched idea in the present world. So I used to chuck such thoughts away because they make or made no difference. Even with such rather unusual thoughts cropping up every now and then, patriotism never deserted me – my adrenalin still rushed with the same force every time my national anthem was played. Human conditioning is a very powerful thing.

While on one side my patriotism drove my desire to fight for my country, on the other hand, I felt that I am sacrificing my life for what seems like an complex but avoidable man made problem. Like most of you, even I liked Travelling, playing Grand Theft Auto and having a relaxing time with my family. So hated losing all of this and also leave behind my family to fend for themselves. The worst part was, with so much selfishness and corruption around, I used to feel as why I should give up my life protecting these kind of people? Why my family has to face so much hardship protecting this unjust society? I don’t know about other soldiers but for me it was difficult to stay motivated.

Throughout history, we soldiers were made to die or kill our brothers and sisters across the border just because heads of the two countries did not like each other or worse did not agree on something. That is far worse than what happened to me yesterday, where I give up my life fighting some (motivated) stupid people called terrorists.

Yesterday, I was a nobody but now that I am gone, I think I will surely be popular soon and remain so for some time. For the next few days, I will be famous in my state, I will receive all the honours and my story will be shared by many on social media. The immense pain and agony of my family will be witnessed by many helplessly. The media, esp. the TV media, will tent next to our homes for next few days. I hope they care for us and not the TRPs.

The sad part is I would have liked to receive at least 1/10 of the same respect when I was alive but I did not. So this raises an interesting question – Who are they respecting? It is me or to the fact that I was the one who lost my life. If it was for me, then you are a day too late as I am not around anymore to say thanks. If it is not for me then who is it for? By chance, is this the way a society tries to show that it actually cared and probably keep soldiers who are alive stay motivated? I know it is a complex question and not something which happens only to soldiers. Why is it that we heap in respect to the person after the person is dead when he or she is no longer there to accept it? who is it done for? Think about it.

So, for me, all of this makes no difference as I cannot witness any of it. Also, whatever you do, It doesn’t help my wife and my kids in the long run as they will have to struggle through the rest of their life without me. It is a huge hit emotionally and financially and your respects don’t help with any of them. So however you want to put it, regardless of how a soldier dies, dying or martyrdom in today’s life is not cool at all. And guess what? as the days pass, the whole nation will get back to normalcy until another solider somewhere gets killed. Well, that’s what history tells me.

I do appreciate your intention and gestures but I request you to not to limit yourself to sharing posts or changing DPs to show your respect. I know that as individuals, we tend to feel limited but if sharing and tweeting is all you are going to do, does it not feel too superficial? Instead of underestimating yourself I would request you to do what my dad used to say to me the most “let’s do something productive”. If you are not sure what it could be then here are some ideas.

First, try to understand us better – know what we do, what kind of sacrifices we soldiers and our families make from the day we join the army and how is our financial situation – when alive, when injured, when we retire or when we get killed like me. A better appreciation of our lives by citizens is a good starting point. Then spend some time to think and discuss hard as for someone who has pledged to give their lives for you, are you and the government is doing enough? The least you can do is to ensure that your soldiers are rewarded financially to lead a decent life. So if there is an opportunity along these lines, promise me that you will push your governments to take swift action on them.

Finally, I want you to ‘innovate’ ideas as how we all can stop another soldier from getting killed. It sounds impossible and certainly you cannot do much on your own. However, if you think this is an important topic, then discuss this with your friends and colleagues over a coffee or lunch and develop ideas. If you come up with something interesting, I am sure social media will support you. You can mobilise people around novel ideas and push our politicians to take note of them and take timely action to make our lives a little safer.

Sorry, I have taken too much time to explain myself but bear with me, I am almost done. Since I joined the army, almost every telephone conversation with my family filled my heart with both joy and pain. The pain was mainly due to my own lack of clarity as how to end the telephone conversation with them. Is this my last conversation with them? I could not speak with my daughter today; will I get to speak to her again? Should I mention about tonight’s routine mission to them? So many questions, just rush in at the same time but I never wanted to scare my family every time I spoke to them and in the process my final good byes to them never came. While I missed my final good byes to my family here are my parting words to you.

Have a great life, which in fact means enjoy your time with your family & friends.
I am not around anymore, but I hope this be the trigger for a better, safer world.
If you cannot do much for me or for your soldiers, at the very least, please spread my word. Thank you so much for your time.

Your Martyred Solider

Successful surprise visit to my wife in Bangalore India from London

Back in 2012, I managed to surprise my wife and I got my brother to capture the moment. It was quite an effort as I had to keep my travel to India a complete secret which is quite difficult given that I had a 14 hours of journey without communicating with her. Some day, I will write about what factors to consider for such a surprise if you intend to plan one. For now, enjoy the unedited video which has been watched many thousands of times.

 

20 simple actions women can take to travel safely in Delhi (India)

Rape is a peculiar heinous crime. Whenever there is a rape it reminds us that we indeed were evolved from animals and even though we have progressed so much more there are still the some undesirable animal instinct left in us. All these advancements have not helps us in understanding why a perfectly sane man suddenly falls for his uncontrollable desires and becomes an animal?

No one really has any concrete answers why it happens and how it can be stopped quickly. The overwhelming thought is that quick speedy justice with really stringent punishment is the way forward. However, in the most horrific case of Nirbaya the government acted relatively swiftly and those who found guilty were given death penalty. That incident resulted in woman safety getting the due attention it always needed. 

However, since the horrific incident, we started hearing more cases and on all all kinds of them – young kids, old woman and from all parts of the country. This was totally unexpected and probably left a lot of us clueless. We always pondered with the question of "What woman want?" but now the million dollar questions are "Why men do this?" and "How the hell do we stop this?". Read on to know my view.

Stop abusing woman!

Stop abusing woman!

Well, in the long run what is ultimately going to reduce such crimes is by understanding what causes men to do this and address the root cause. However, there are some obvious steps which we can take. For example, We need to the change in mind set of men and society towards woman by stopping objectifying them & reduce the hype around sex. We also need to bring our badly skewed sex ratio back in to balance and reduce gender bias. These points needs to detailed further and there are probably many more steps but it is not the focus of this article. However, it is clear that these steps will be slow process which will take many years if not decades but we need to start acting now. (Modiji, are you listening?)

In the medium term, we need to find ways to root out corruption which is the main reason we have lax systems with loopholes everywhere. An honest government will at least make good efforts in plugging these loop holes (Luckily Delhi is set to have an election soon and one of the political parties (AAP) has promised some very good measures and I believe should be given a chance). 

In the short term, we should not wait for the new or any existing government to magically transform the city overnight. So we should take up more responsibility and educate ourselves on different aspects of public life (Radio taxi requirements) and then try to get all gaps plugged by putting pressure on the government & influential people in every way possible (like this done by Shenaz). But unfortunately life still has to go on and we cannot wait until it is "safe enough" for woman to travel.

So women are left to protect themselves and hence I have come up with a list of 20 different steps/actions/ideas a woman can consider to take up to enhance her travel safety in Delhi (or any other city in India or that of the world). Most of these are common sense suggestions which most of us know but I guess we might not follow them in rigour with integrity because we never think that we will be the unlucky one. So it is good to go over them and see which of them you can adopt. Some of these might sound as overkill but amount of effort needed is negligible when compared to the horror one have to endure when attacked and after. If you choose any of the below items and follow with rigour & intensity for a month or two it will become your second nature. 

The steps are divided into three sections – before you start section which addresses the preparation that you can make before any journey. The next set of steps are those which you can do when you are onboard a cab or a taxi. Last little section talks of what you can do if someone indeed attacks you. So here we go..

Before you start

  • Cut down traveling alone at night – Well, this is an option which needs to be considered before you actually plan to travel. In an ideal world you should be free to go out whenever you want for whatever reason without thinking twice but we are far from an ideal world.
  • Plan your day – Clearly plan your day and know where you will be at what time and how you plan to travel. This will help in reducing or avoiding traveling alone in taxis and autos.
  • Ask a friend for help, why are they for? – Typically incidents such as rape happen in dark at night. So if you do have to travel alone at night, why not find someone who can give you a ride to the destination? Why do we have friends for? Not just to ‘like’ our posts.
  • Find a reliable company to travel with – It is obvious that two is better than one because there is safety in number. This is even more important when you are alone and tired. Having someone along with you to travel would help. If this is a one off situation, be unreasonable and request for the person to accompany you (obviously this should not put the other person in too much danger).
  • Change your destination if needed – If you are at a place from where it is riskier to travel home as compared to staying over at a nearby aunt, uncle or friend's place then explore that option. Sure, this is far from being comfortable but if this is a rare situation and the friend is reliable and trustworthy enough then why not? Don’t think of what they will think of such requests. Any good person will be more than willing to help out.   
  • Pre-book a reliable taxi service – If you do have to travel alone see if you can pre-book a reliable taxi service. By reliable I mean of a service which typically sends you the details of the cab, the driver and so on before you start your journey. If not, note the taxi number, type of the cab and any details that you can see. If any of the information is not available and you still feel OK to travel then ask for driver's details. There is no harm in that but try not to ask in a suspect manner.
  • Know & track your journey – If you are not well-versed with the route you are taking then it makes sense to know your journey well. By this what are the routes you might take, what are the landmarks and how much time it might take to reach your destination. Without this preparation it will be difficult for you to know if you are being taken in the right direction or not. If your smartphone is GPS enabled then use it to track your journey. Good cabs will have it as a part of their service (I am not very sure but I think Meru cabs in Bangalore has a big screen next to the driver which shows the route being taken).
  • Install & test emergency alarm or messaging apps – You never hope you would have to use them but given the situation you never know. Install apps that make a big sound and test them to make sure you can activate it one handed without even having to look at the screen. Here are two examples – 1. Emergency Rescue 2. Send SOS (both not tested by me). There could be many more out there and hence worth searching for more. 
  • Let someone "track" your journey – Let someone know of your taxi travel plan and expected time to complete the journey (indicate the route you are taking if possible). Make it a practice to call them on reaching your destination. If you don’t call them on time, let them call you. In summary, there should be at least one other person who knows where you are all the time. So that if you are not reachable for any reason within a certain period of time then they will do whatever it takes to reach you. Given the importance, let this other person be someone responsible and not someone who will end up saying "Oops, I forgot". Making this a regular practice will surely help a lot.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged all the time – The above arrangement means that you can never afford to have your cell phone on low battery. If you are a smartphone user then this is generally a big problem. So you should always need to ensure that charge in your cell never goes down below 75% or so even it means that you have to keep charging it more often and reduce the battery life. It would also be good to have a cheap emergency phone which is with you all the time and requires less frequent mobile currency and electric charging (similar to Nokia 3310 which we had long time ago). This will help you being reachable all the time. Just to make it a habit, pay a fine of some sort (give a treat to a bagger) when you find your phone(s) switched off when you are out of home so that you never repeat the mistake.
  • Have emergency numbers handy – Have numbers of police and emergency services of your city handy (here is an unverified list of numbers of Delhi) in case you need them. However, typically in situations like these you will rarely have time to call and unfortunately all of these are landline numbers so I guess there is no way you can send text messages to them. So what is better is to have a text saved as draft with key contacts already selected. What is required of you is to just press the "send" button.
  • Have a pepper spray & some shape object – You need to have things which will help you escape. Pepper Spray is the best but you need to be alert and ready to use it at the right moment. It is easier to use the pepper spray than a sharp object as you can do it from a distance and it helps you to escape easily. However, have a sharp object as well to ensure you have left nothing to chance.
  • Get trained in self-defence – Well, having a sharp object is great but knowing how to use it another. So it makes good sense to join some classes to learn different self-defence techniques (one example is here). This is a one time investment which makes you much more confidence about protecting yourself. 

The Journey

  • Try and avoid taking unauthorized cabs – Don’t take cabs which are not authorized. Make sure that you can find the taxi, driver and other details clearly before you make the journey. Decline to take the cab if you don't feel comfortable.
  • Note the driver details – All taxi and auto drivers are not bad but you cannot take any chances. So Check for driver's license and identity details and see if the photo on the license matches the person. Pass the information to one other person (preferably to the one who will track your journey).
  • Take the safer well lit route, always – Regardless of the purpose of your journey, make sure that you always take the safer route even if it is longer & costlier. Even if you are traveling for a medical emergency, it is safer to avoid unsafe shortcuts which might save time but put your safety at risk.
  • Be alert and watchful – It is hard to stay sane when you feel very unsafe. However, you can hardly go out if you let such fears unnerve you. It is critical however to be on your toes by being always on alert and watch every move of the driver. Get a coffee before you board the cab if needed. Do whatever it takes to be alert.
  • Use his phone as a help – One of the reason why men attack strangers is because they think they can escape easily. So if you feel insecure and getting down from the cab is not a better option (too dark or unsafe place) then you can request for cabby's phone to call someone about something urgent saying yours' is switched off or has low battery. Make a call to someone tell something "urgent" and ask them to call back at that number if needed (oh! I forgot to ….. if you need….. call me back at this cabby's number. I currently traveling here and should be at the destination in next … mins). You doing this might make cabby to think a bit more before he consider attacking you as your friend now has a rough idea of your location and also his number.
  • Strike a conversation and try to relate to the person – Not all cab or auto drivers are bad as some are really honest and work hard to earn their living. You suspecting them from the word go will not help you to travel peacefully. If the cabby is not creepy from the word go like watching you constantly in the mirror (in which case you should get off the cab at a safe place), it is not a bad idea to strike a conversation with the cab driver and in the process make them feel appreciated for the work they do. The idea here is not to make friends but for you to enter the good books of the driver and become more than just a beautiful stranger to him. If you are successful then there is less likely to attack you as you have been considerate and appreciative of them. However, even if he still attacks, the details that you get to know about him from the conversation might help in some way later on.

If he still plans to attack? 

  • If all fails and he attacks – If he still attacks then you are left with some of the the above options. Depending on the time you have, you can send emergency SOS message to someone through one of the apps. If he is not too near to you then you can try the pepper spray. If he is too close to you then you need focus on hurting him real bad very quickly and escape real fast. To hurt him really badly you have to aim for his eyes, ears, nose and groin which are most vulnerable parts of him (check out the video playlist below – all of which are very helpful). All along this, make sure you scream at your loudest possible as you never know who might come to your support. Run when you find your chance and never look back. There are a lot more videos online and I recommend you to watch them but nothing can beat an actual self-defence classes.     

I was already outraged by what happened in Delhi but a shoddy "be safe" list put together by IBN made me question why write such a piece anyway? Even Rajdeep's show focused on solutions did not spell out enough things that woman can follow today to protect themselves. So I had to write this up with an aim to cover every possible angle. Having said that I am sure there could be many more things which we can do and if you come across any then please suggest and I will add to the list. Above all please share this to as many as possible.

The AAP Story – Truth Vs Hype

We Indians have a short memory, we really do. Well, we can’t blame ourselves, we have so many things going on in our life that we just have no time to sit, think, understand and remember the “unimportant stuff” like for example the topics of national importance. At best we have that one hour where we watch that 9 PM prime time news over our dinner and get educated about what is happening around us. Beyond that, we don’t really have time. Given that this is how we educate ourselves, i.e. on pre-packaged news, no wonder we never get to understand the real issue. Oh, yes, sorry! We do have time to share that post about AAPs theatrics that everyone is sharing. It is important that everyone knows the truth about them.

Two aspects of AAP is currently very popular – the fact that AAP Quit the government and “ran away from the government” (the infamous ‘Bhagoda’ tag) and the fact that Arvind Kejriwal (AK) is spending time in Jail for what looks like a non-issue and seems like this is one of his Dramas to catch media attention. I wanted to think on these two more closely to understand the merit of these accusations – the Bagoda and the Drama. I am hopeful that you would take time to join me in this assessment.

Arvind Kejriwal with his trademark cap!

Aam Aadmi Party Leader Arvind Kejriwal Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Licence

 

The Bhagoda Tag
One of the key reasons why AAP came into existence was the anti-corruption movement and its commitment to bringing Lokpal Bill into both Delhi and at the centre. In the time leading to Delhi election, AAP made a number of time bound commitments and one of them was to pass the Jan Lokpal bill within a month of coming to power. Post formation of the minority government, it was always known that getting this bill passed might be the most challenging task for AAP but as promised, it went ahead but failed. Given this failure and given its promise pre-election, AAP had to quit the government.

This event probably coincided with AAP’s national ambitions and hence quitting the government based on Lokpal bill looked perfect action to garner bigger pan-India support. After all how many have quit government on such principles? There were none that I could find. The only other example was Kiran Kumar Reddy’s quitting as AP’s CM due to division of the state into two. Almost every other party have tried to retain power even when facing criminal charges or big bang scams (I can remember Yadiyurappa and Lalu Yadav very easily). So AAP thought that quitting the government would be seen as a great sacrifice for a cause close to its existence and within a blink of an eye AAP quit the government.

It is not hard to agree with the rational of quitting. However, looking back, it is easy to say that they clearly rushed into it. If they had at least spent some time speaking to media and try to gauge the mood of the people, it would have helped greatly. When AAP quit the government it was very clear that a great opportunity was lost. So yes, we can easily accuse them of squandering an opportunity. They had done so much and if they had stayed in power for little longer, they could have done so much more.

However, the question is could this be labelled as ‘Running away’ from the government? We use such a term typically when someone stops and escapes from a challenging fight mid-way and choose a less challenging fight. However, what AK and AAP did was the opposite – took on a bigger challenge of going national. In fact it is such a big challenge that no other party had ever gone national at such a scale within 2 years of its inception ever in Indian history.

So given this, if we still want to accuse them of anything then it can only be of being over ambitious. Sure, their risk did not materialise and their effort failed spectacularly. But again you can only accuse them of “expecting too much” but not for “not trying”. However, being over-ambitious is not a big crime. Most of us have been guilty of the same at least a few times in our lives.

If you agree with the above assessment, you might be wondering as why did the “Bagoda” tag has become so popular? Well, quitting was the mistake that other parties were waiting for and they just exploited it to the fullest. Given the resources they had, they marketed it very well through all possible media and the novice common man fell for it. Now it is sounds so ‘true’ and we need no invitation to use the Bagoda tag with AK. However, make no mistake, AAP would have got the “power hungry” tag if they had stayed on power post lokpal bill fiasco.

Media Hungry (The Drama)
India is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. So naturally when someone tries to oppose such practices there will be altercations which catches attention of people and media. AAP is one such party which raises voice against incorrect practices if you look at most issues that they have raised there is some merit in it. The media attention might be one of their agenda as you need attention of the nation on important issues but accusing them of acting only for media attention is taking things too far.
Also please also note that media is not stupid to give time for pure attention seekers. There is intense competition in the media industry to get the best story telecasted. If AAP’s issue has no merit then both AAP and the media covering it will lose out credibility. Also given that AAP is starved on cash and resources, you can bet that AAP cannot buy paid news anyways. So if there is news about AAP’s activity then you be can rest assured that there is some merit to it. However, AAP’s opposition has been successful in spreading the ‘Drama’ tag so well that the common man requires no reminders to use the tag synonymously with every action of AAP.

My Final Say
I would feel that this effort of mine was worth it if you even partially agree with the above. What concerns me is the ability of AAP’s opposition to systematically malign AAP’s credibility. There is already an erosion of support for AAP for various reasons but we need to ensure that we are well educated to guard against false propaganda. How to ensure that? Well, next time there is a “dharna” led by AAP then take time to understand their side of the story (from them) before you judge them.

Based on past history and untraceable financial backing that they have got, I have my doubts about other parties but when it comes to AAP, we could disagree with their methods but not their intentions. Delhi’s elections are not far away and given their intentions and actions when in government, I believe AAP deserves a second chance just like the way Modi got at the centre.

Being Realistic!

 

Here is a really inspiring video (which you might have watched already) where Will Smith powerfully talks about a lot of things. The stand out quote for me from this is this – (starts @ 5 mins and 50 sec)

"Being realistic is the commonly travelled road to mediocrity"  

Belief Vs Evidence

In an ordinary life, belief follows evidence. In an extra-ordinary life, evidence follows belief.

We all have the power to choose the life we want but due to the way we have been brought up, most of us seek evidence before we believe in our own abilities. But if you want to achieve greatness, this method wont work.

Asking for Favours from not-in-touch friends

It is always tough to make that call to your friend when you are in need of a help esp. if you had not managed to find time to "be in-touch" with him/her in your "non-needy" days. When we eventually call for this unavoidable favour it is typical of us not to jump on to asking the favour first. At least I tend to speak a lot about everything else first and then its the right time, I make the request. This for me looked like a rational approach as we dont want to be seen as too self centered.

However there is a flaw in this. When you eventually ask for the favour, whenever it may be – after 10 minutes or 30 minutes of the conversation, the friend might think that everything discussed till now was just to get this favour out of him/her and not out of genuine interest for the person (and some might express their displeasure to this by saying 'ahhh, thats why you called me?'). Well, this is a exactly opposite of what you wanted and there is no coming back from this situation.

However I learned a better approach from my wife today. She needed a favour from her friend and first thing she did when she called was to ask for this favour (well, after confirming that he is free to talk and in a state of mind to ask for the favour). This way, she got this primary reason for the call out of the way. Now, she started asking about those things which both of them usually discuss. Just by reversing the order, all her conversation remained genuine and relevant. With this new approach, she not only managed to get the favour across but also got "in-touch" with the friend as well.

We are in the era of "timeless times" where there is a struggle to keep in touch with all those who we want to. However the fact remains that time and again we need favours from one of those who lost touch with for a brief period (if it has been very long* then it does not make sense to ask for favour). But ideally that should not stop us from making that call and with this new approach, I feel it is lot easier for me. Hopefully for you too.

 

How not to ride a Horse!

My first and only horse ride went alright. However first few minutes on the horse was the worst part where I had no control over when and where the horse is heading.. here is a clip.

 

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