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Short Take: Concrete fun
January 09, 2016
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Concrete fun

Although occasions like New Year come and go, some moments are unforgettable.

The beginning of the year gave a lot of reasons to recall the “back home” zest.

It was delightful to hear that the road concreting work near my wife’s home had been completed and it turned out to be one of the most insightful occasions for the entire family to rejoice.

Celebrations went all across, as WhatsApp and other communication channels were busy exchanging pictures and symbols of wingdings.

The role of a retired naval gentleman in the family, Damuettan, cannot be overlooked as he did his best to get in touch with a local leader – the elected member of the legislative assembly who was supposed to take care the welfare of the constituency.

Apparently, after his tireless efforts, the dream became a reality.

“The concrete work for the road near our home has started.” 

My wife would have called me numerous times and also shared some pictures of the asphalt surface under the shadow of the green all around.

It was a “concreted” fun for each family member in the start of the year and that can never be forgotten.
Ramachandran Nair — Oman

Fresh air

It is the pleasant weather that has pulled me to Bengaluru where I have been staying for quite some time. The city is even called as a “pensioner’s paradise” by some people, as elderly people prefer the cool ambience.  But things are changing. Like many other urban cities, pollution is posing a big challenge. I was mentioning to a friend how I enjoyed fresh air in the clean city of Sharjah when I worked there for several years and he was amazed. No wonder, the entire world loves the UAE.
K. Ragavan

‘Mr Pharmacist’

Back in the college days, once I got completely drenched on a rainy day while on my way back to the hostel.

As expected the result was non-stop coughing and sneezing.

It didn’t take long for my room-mates and those living in the adjacent rooms to get irritated with my continuous coughing.

Finally, keeping in view mine as well as my hostel mates’ wellbeing, I ran to the room of “Mr Pharmacist.”

He was called so because he was the only person in the hostel who used to keep a stock of general medicines and we all were very much habituated to borrow it from him.

He was in deep sleep when I knocked on the door and he took a while to open it.

And believe me it was my coughing which woke him up rather than my knocking on the door.

Half asleep he handed me a bottle of a syrup, which I gulped instantly.

“This tastes different and I’m getting a burning sensation in my throat,” I told him.

“That’s how all cough syrups are. Take the bottle to your room and let me sleep. Good night,” he said and shut the door. I came back to my room, switched on the light and got the shock of my life.

It was not a cough syrup but a bottle of external wound cleaner.

My friend had messed up the bottle in his sleep.

Thankfully the reaction was not that serious as I drank just a little of it.

That day I learnt a lesson that one should double-check the medicine before consuming it or else it could prove fatal.
Zakir Jawed

Sharjah spectacular

New Year’s Eve was around the corner and I was reminiscing about my friends in Delhi with whom I used to share wonderful moments as we ushered in a new year every year for the past many years in India’s capital city.

However, with my relocation to Sharjah and my better half having joined me subsequently, plans were afoot to ring in 2016 in the cultural capital of the UAE, our new-found second home – where I have been working for quite some time now. Celebrating the New Year outside our native country was, therefore, going to be a first-time keenly-awaited experience for both of us.

My colleagues opined the Sharjah Corniche would be the ideal place to brighten up our New Year celebrations. So, after a sumptuous supper spread at our favourite restaurant, I along with my wife headed to the spot, a mere kilometre away, on foot.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic on roads leading to the Sharjah Corniche meant scores of the emirate’s residents were making a beeline for the place already teeming with hundreds of revellers, who, it appeared, had made a date with.

Bright lights greeted us and we excitedly made our way to the Al Majaz Waterfront, which incidentally, is the main attraction at the corniche.

The waterfront project comprises a tastefully-landscaped park housing a stately mosque, a string of high-end dine-in restaurants, play areas for children, a mini golf-course and a Turkish ice-cream parlour, all of which were doing booming business.

It looked as if we had descended on a mini-world as the people thronging the waterfront belonged to various nationalities and different age groups. There was excitement in the air, and kids, some of whom were running with gay abandon added their mite to the happy din of the occasion at hand. Then there were couples like us, some of whom were strolling hand-in-hand, while others pushed toddlers protected with woollens in prams, albeit all, waiting for the clock to strike twelve.

The elderly too, not wanting to miss out on the festivities, were making their presence felt.

A relatively new sight was some competition being sought to be given by lights in firm contact with terra firma to the sparkling stars in the clear night sky. Yes, I’m referring to the new trend of both children and adults sporting some almost quirky-looking rechargeable LED light-up sneakers. All in all, there were lights everywhere.

As the final hours of 2015 drew to a close, the Al Majaz Waterfront had drawn crowds to itself like moths to the flame. My wife prodded me to take a vantage point at the waterfront railing so as to afford us a better view of the much-anticipated display of fireworks.

As I came closer to the waterfront and midnight approached, I could feel a minty nip in the air. Now the clock struck midnight and lo and behold! Fireworks, one after the other with spectacular bursts and in quick succession from every conceivable angle, shot into the Sharjah night sky.

Simultaneously, the waterfront fountain – lit up with multi-hued laser beams – sprang to life. The sound of splashing water and the boom of fireworks were making a symphony so pleasing to the ears, whereas the spectacular show of fireworks was holding everybody spellbound. As for me and my wife, it was a sight we had never experienced before in our lives.

The crowds cheered as the Sharjah skyline lit up with the kaleidoscopic fireworks display replete with shifting colours and patterns. Many of the visitors were furiously capturing the stunning spectacle of sound and light in their cameras and mobile phones. This splendid pyrotechnics display continued for about 15 minutes, and with every burst of fireworks, people kept ululating and screaming with excitement.

The assembled crowds were brimming with joie de vivre and optimistic fervour – a testimony to humanity’s resilience in the face of personal anxieties and financial challenges.

While friends are irreplaceable, celebrating the New Year in Sharjah was indeed an unmatched experience for me and my wife, memories of which we will treasure for years to come.
Faisal Hashmi

Back to basics

I just finished reading “The Secret Garden,” a children’s classic. I do this once in a while, reading kids’ books I mean, not to mention watching animation movies and cartoons or colouring flowers and landscapes.

A friend, who once “caught” me reading an abridged version of “David Copperfield,” was actually aghast with disbelief and disappointment. She said she expected me to be quite finesse in my choice of books. David Copperfield was finesse definitely but abridged versions? I didn’t bother to tell her that if she had come a couple of days earlier, she would have seen me with a Dan Brown or that there was a Paulo Coelho in my bookshelf waiting to be read.

She was not the first person to have looked down upon me or teased me, and she definitely wouldn’t be the last. But it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I have my own private laugh at their “ignorance.”

For they do not know what they miss out on.

Children tend to look at things from a perspective that’s different from an adult’s and reading children’s books sometimes helps open up a range of fresh ideas and insights.

Reading kids’ books or watching kids’ movies leaves me feeling pleasantly warm and happy and light-hearted as only a child can feel. These give me a coming-down-to-earth feeling, a back-to-basics experience, an encounter with simplicity and sincerity and a break from having to be the serious and proper and philosophical adult.

Being a kid is definitely more interesting than being an adult.

Which reminds me, it’s been some time since I last read an Enid Blyton. Mmmm...the lovely things the children get to eat in those books. Am thoroughly tempted now, for a book, I mean. 
Vidya Shankar

Spread the cheer

It is my cultivated nature to keep smiling whatever situation I am in. The routine to office is almost the same pattern every day. Going down the building, I meet my watchman, then the car wash guy and then the municipality gardeners.

My day begins with a short conversation and hello to them and then off to my office in my car. May be as I travel daily at a particular time, I get to see familiar faces on the wheels in adjacent cars.

People rushing to office applying the last-minute touches to their tie or a final makeup touches by a woman lady driver, is almost regular to witness. At the parking in the office again, I meet the same faces, starting with the security staff at the basement and then at the entrance of the office, followed by the coffee boy. They reciprocate with a smile.

One day, I was really tense and somehow, I forgot the smile, all through my journey. At office too, I forgot to greet and smile. The day passed by somehow and by next morning, I had recouped and then carried the same smile and routine.

The coffee boy followed me and asked what happened the earlier day. “We get motivated by your smile and small wishes, but yesterday, it was not there and it affected us also.”

It was then I realised the value of that gesture. Knowingly or unknowingly, I was passing on something that was infectious to those whom I met and valued it.

Whatever be the financial or worldly situation around us, let there be no recession when it comes to spreading goodwill and a sweet smile.
Ramesh Menon

Right path

At the beginning of every New Year, all of us try to make a resolution, but the fact is that very few of us follow it up as the days pass by.

Even then I have some resolution for the New Year 2016 and I will try my best to follow it.

And my resolutions are not that lofty; they are simple like no hate, love for all, to try to be a good human being, to be humble and not be egoistic.

I also plan to start doing exercises and reading and will become more active. I will try to counter negative people with a smile.

I believe that we aren’t born just to earn, eat and sleep. God has created us with a purpose.

He has given us a brain to think and more importantly to think positive.

We should always try to keep a smile on our faces and even this little act may create happiness among people around us.

It is better to stay away from selfish, greedy and lazy people as they spread negativity and nothing else.

To err is human but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to fulfil the promises we make to ourselves at least.
Abu Saad

Shakespeare still on stage

China will be organising a month-long festival of musical plays based on the stories penned by William Shakespeare to mark the 400th death anniversary of the Bard of Avon.

The news came as a surprise to me because China is a place where English is less spoken.

However, Shakespeare’s writings and plays are so good and timeless that they have been reaching every corner of the world even after four centuries of his death. It is not only China. People in many other countries are also under the magical spell of his plays as generation after generation read them in original or their adapted versions in their native languages.

One thing I have noticed is that his plays are very realistic. People feel connected to the characters while reading those stories and start imagining as if those incidents are taking place in their surroundings.

Be it the famous love story Romeo Juliet in which two lovers are separated due to the enmity between their families, or  Twelfth Night that portrays the confusion that occurs when dealing with twins, his stories always had a connection to the common people. Maybe this is the reason why his stories are popular even after 400 years of conception.

During these four centuries, his writings came to us in different forms, like plays, books or movies. For example, his famous play Macbeth inspired the Indian filmmaker, Vishal Bhardwaj, who later made popular film Maqbool based on it. Similarly his other movies, Haider and Omkara, were based on Hamlet and Othello respectively.

There have been many famous poets and writers before as well as now, but no other playwright, poet or author has matched the popularity of William Shakespeare. He had a different standard.

Thinking about his timeless popularity, I have realised that it is important for a writer to set the plot of his story in a manner that appeals to the masses if he wants to make it evergreen and universal. No one can be compared to him.

The world is still a stage for Shakespeare.
Saamia Mujeeb
(Student, The Indian High School, Dubai)

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