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Short Take: Divine expression
August 02, 2014
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Divine expression

“Assalamu alaikum.”
I love this expression.
No one is a stranger if one can use this divine line.

Whenever and wherever I meet someone not even known to me, this greeting helps me start off a conversation easily.  

It is another matter that in life, strangers become friends and friends become strangers.

The other day, I entered a taxi, smiled at the driver and said, “Assalamu alaikum.”

“Wa alaykumu salam,” he answered, looked at me and asked in broken English, “You Muslim?”

“No,” I replied, and before he could react, added, “But Muslims are my best friends.”

I did not know that the power of love could be so overwhelming.

He left the steering and gave me a hug.

“Hello bro, hold the steering properly and drive or we both will land up there, instead of the destination,” I joked, pointing at the sky.

“Do not worry. Now that you are my friend, I will not let that happen,” he laughed.

We parted with a cheerful “ma’a salama.”
R. Ramesh

Tune bonds

I attended an Indian festival at a downtown area in Denver last week. It was colourful and participants sang popular Bollywood songs. There were attendees from all age groups. It was interesting to watch local people dance along with the music. I realised that Bollywood actors are popular in the US just like they are in the UAE. It is true that music has the ability to break borders and enhance integration among various cultures.
K. Ragavan, Denver

Pleasure of reading

For each individual the sense of enjoyment differs, although the taste remains the same and continues to be a strategically defined route.

While spending almost my day and night reading newspapers and periodicals, the relaxation has been immense and provides an entirely different experience as compared to the usual work culture.

Being alone at home, perhaps this might be the first time I devoted my time exclusively to reading.

One of the best pursuits one can carry along is reading. It indeed gives an imperceptible strength and always has an endless pleasure.

“The best way to make all unrealistic a realistic is to read, read and read.” I recall our subject teacher once told us in the class.

Reading always turns out to be amazingly helpful and carries a huge value. An attempt to spend most of the time for comprehensive reading can help reap great rewards.

Ultimately, books are the best companions.
Ramachandran Nair, Oman

Power of humour

Jokers make us laugh even when we are quite disturbed. I was awestruck when I read about Joker’s Week, to be celebrated from Aug.1 to Aug.7. I was surprised because so far I had heard about various DAYS celebrated on special occasions like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Children’s Day, Republic Day, Independence Day. But here, there is a celebration for the clowns, which will last an entire week.

However, I changed my thoughts soon. Why should the news surprise anyone? They well deserve it. After all they prove themselves a fool just to make us laugh and to earn their bread and butter. I can understand that making others laugh is not an easy work. It would be too hard for me if someone asks me to make a crying person laugh. That’s exactly what the jokers do.

In the past, people have shown their respect to jokers in different ways. Many movies have highlighted their life and the hardships they have to suffer. One example can be India’s great showman the late Raj Kapoor’s hit movie “Mera Naam Joker.” The movie has portrayed the life of a clown who must make his audience laugh, despite deep sorrows in his life. After all, they must follow their motto  — “the show must go on.”

Charlie Chaplin made this art more popular through movies. He did similar things that a clown does in real life to make us laugh. Everyone’s favourite Mr Bean too has made great efforts. How can a child forget Ronald McDonald, the famous clown character used as the primary mascot of the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain?

I was sad to read that the number of people opting for this profession is on the decline, just because they are considered a laughing stock. People shouldn’t forget that “Humour is serious business.”
Saamia Mujeeb
(Student, Indian High School, Dubai)

Pathetic pens

Pens and me are wrong number.

From the time I was initiated into using a pen as an instrument for writing till now, I have never been able to use it without damaging it. In the school I studied, students were started on pens in the final term of Grade V. From that point of time, for about a year, my father must have spent a fortune on pens.

We were not allowed to use ballpoint pens; we had to use fountain pens only. (I think the practice still continues in many schools.) And during the period I’ve mentioned, I have had the opportunity of using pens of various types, shapes, and colours — all because I couldn’t handle a pen properly.

Within a couple of days of receiving a new pen or maybe even an old pen that had gone through the necessary repairs, I would be standing sheepishly before my father, my palm outstretched, with the pathetic remains upon it. The damage could be anything from a broken nib to a damaged screw because of which the top part of the pen would not fix tightly into the bottom part which held the ink.

Finally, my exasperated father got a very cheap pen from a roadside vendor and giving it to me, said I didn’t deserve anything better.

Trust me, that pen saw me through four years of my education till I was in Grade X, ready to appear for the public exam. And that was when I got another pen, but what happened to that pen is another story.     
Vidya Shankar

Matter of luck

One thing that has always fascinated me is a raffle draw.

Last week during a promotional offer, I was tempted by such an offer and made a purchase of required amount to enter the draw, though I bought quite a few things that were not needed.

The following week I went to the mall with the hope of Lady Luck smiling at me.

The adrenaline flow was stronger than ever as the stakes were high — a BMW car.

The announcer came on stage and started announcing the winners in the ascending order as the small prizes were given away before the mega draw.

I got more excited. I was happy that my name was not among the Consolation Prize winners, nor did I win second or third prize, so now I was just minutes away from the BMW.

Then the announcer called up “Mohammed” my first name, I almost got up from the chair, but the last name was of some other guy.

Though I was disappointed, I came out smiling for being so sure and hopeful of winning a raffle draw.

Of course, you cannot lament the loss of something that you had never had.
Mohammed Faisal

Listen to ideas

On a short visit to India, I am touring around various cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore and my home town, Irinjalakuda.

While I travel by air and road, I also drive at most places as it gives me an opportunity to cover life in the villages through my lenses.

The situation changes when I am in my hometown and under the umbrella of my aged parents. They do not allow me to drive and the onus is on our family driver Jose to take me around the city.

He is a man of wisdom. Driving around, he has clear ideas on what needs to be done and what went wrong on highway development activities.

The one-way system in Trichur and Ernakulam, the highway medians that occupy a lot of space and reduce traffic flow are some points that require immediate corrective action.

Having worked in Iraq and Saudi for a long time, he is thorough with modernisation. I wish there was a better mechanism where the authorities listened to the voice of common people in India. Just like the “Have Your Say” programmes in many government departments in the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE authorities have been highly progressive and receptive to the voice of its residents. This has encouraged people like me to contribute regularly with ideas and suggestions.
Ramesh Menon

Make-up or mask?

As a child whenever I saw women around me with make-up on, I would tell myself, “These aunties look so beautiful.”

As I approached the end of my final year at high school, I started to see it in a different light. I thought of it to be a mask that women wore to hide themselves. Now, as I look back, I have a mixed perspective.

It seems now that women, who apply makeup in a way as if they are not wearing any, seem to not hide but add more to their already natural beauty. There are others, who clearly hide themselves from the world.

How do I know this? Well, because there are days when they do not have any on and they look remarkably different.

It feels as if these women are guarding themselves behind this wall and it sort of makes them stand out, which is quite commendable.

Nevertheless, I respect all of these women’s choices and appreciate how they gracefully carry themselves.

I am still undecided as to whether it is a mask or make-up; maybe someday I might have a more concrete answer.
Vismay Anand

Your music sucks!

Let me begin this by saying that I have a natural inclination towards depressing and overly sentimental songs whose lyrics perhaps don’t always make sense.  Now I will explain to you why I was forced to put this confession out there. I love going out with friends and unlike most other people I even look forward to the car journey for getting there.

That changes quickly when someone requests for the “music” to be played. The moment that word “music” is uttered is the exact moment when everyone in the car suddenly decides that they are world-class DJs who are better than everyone else.

Then someone asks for the AUX cable (Disclaimer: That cable ends friendships), on acquiring that cable plugs into their phone with a flourish and starts playing some of the most nauseatingly repetitive music since the beginning of time.

The second “DJ” in the car who obviously has far superior taste in music settles on complaining like there is no tomorrow about how this music is an assault on their senses.

This leads to the AUX cable being passed to that music maestro, another flourish, and what plays next is the more confusing than quadratic equations, namely, a mashup.

Exactly as the name suggests it takes point two seconds from every popular song, (yes even Bieber) and create an unsavoury musical hareesa.

Just when I am about to jump out of the car I get passed the AUX involuntarily to settle the match like a referee.

I play and immediately hear, “Your music sucks, why the hell is this guy crying in a song” a second later, “Stop your damned hipster music” to which I usually reply by throwing my large black rimmed glasses, pfft me a hipster?!

The fight continues, but guess where I am, that’s right in the backseat with my headphones on, ridding myself from the aftereffects of Selena Gomez’s music with the help of my “hipster” music feeling superior and mentally repeating “Your music sucks not mine and we’re not friends anymore.”
Faryal Anjum

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