Dar Ke Age Jeet Hai !!


one of us, without exception,  goes through highs and lows in life . Life therefore is like a Sinusoidal wave which has ups and downs at regular intervals. Each high is followed by a low and each low is followed by a high. But the point to be understood is that in life the “the lows” can be very profound at times and one has to wait patiently and work with full confidence and strength to overcome the “low” phase and keep reminding himself/herself  
“this shall also pass”; and you have not lost until you give up”.

Man jump through the gap. Element of design.

 

We all have some fears, anxieties, depressions, and negativities in life. Trust me, more than 90% of these conditions are baseless, unfounded and are only due to our thought process or “over thinking” and predicting the future with complete negative mindset.

They say Overthinking is the biggest cause of unhappiness.”

Well, you always need the right person for counsel you explain the situation with good logics and advise you in a way that your mindset changes from negative to positive.

Let me narrate a couple of my fears/anxieties which I have gone through in life and finally  overcame them and never to looked back.

I realized that I had a fear of Flying rather a phobia associated with air travel when I was a little over 21 yrs of age and was asked to travel by air for an official assignment within a year of my joining the company. I had never travelled by air before that.  I was posted in Delhi and had to travel to Bhopal which could have been easily done by overnight journey by train also. But my Director insisted that I must travel by the morning flight and return by the next day afternoon flight. Panic gripped me immediately on hearing the instructions from the Boss. I just could not digest the idea of travelling by air  I told the Director that I could manage to travel by train both ways without any issue but somehow could not tell the truth of my fobia of flying, as I presumed all my colleagues would make fun of me ! The Boss did not pay any attention to my suggestions and was firm on his decision of my travelling by air not having any inkling that I was shivering inside !!

Anyways, I prepared myself for the early morning flight and reached the airport around 6 am. My parents had come along to see me off at the airport ( after all it was the first time their only son was taking his maiden flight ). I was the last person to go up the ladder and reach the entrance of the aircraft , I turned back and waived to my parents who were waiting in the balcony of the airport main building.

Immediately the air hostesses started closing all the door firmly and gave safety related instructions about the do’s and dont’s  in case of emergency landing, landing on water and air pressure falling etc . These instructions multiplied my fears by several times . All the crew members appeared “Agents of the Yamdoot”, who were all conspiring to kill me.

I had a feeling that this was going to be my first and last air travel. Little did I realize at that point of time that it was only the beginning and I would actually have several hundred ( if not thousands) air travels thereafter in the coming years !

Within a few minutes , the aircraft took off with a roar . Needless to say, my eyes were closed and I was repeatedly chanting the first two lines of “Hanuman Chalisa” ( I dint remember more). After a few minutes the plane reached cruising altitude and some calm prevailed inside me. But it was short lived ! Suddenly, we were passing through some turbulence and the small aircraft( it was a 36 seater Fokker friendship plane) was suddenly losing a few thousand feet of height and again lifting up  the process remained for a few minutes and I was telling myself that the worst fears were coming true !

Somehow, the journey of one hour ( which looked like several hundred hours ) came to an end and the aircraft landed safely at Bhopal. It felt like getting a fresh lease of life !!

Years passed by but everytime I had to travel by air, I had sleepless nights a few days before the scheduled  journey. Situation was similar to the first flight every time.

But I never quit the job, I never stopped flying .

Then I realized one day that I need to talk to someone about this and overcome this fear or else I could not pursue my professional carrier smoothly, which involved a lot of domestic travel and occasional international travel too.

I started talking to my closest friends. One of them suggested I must down a couple of glasses of “Beer” before every take off, another suggested I must take some sleeping pills, one  hour before every take off and so on……..

Somehow I knew, all this is not going to help and these measures are like temporary pain killers and not the cure of the disease.

One day I started this topic with one of my roommates  Vijayraghawan (four of us were sharing a flat in Hyderabad those days , all bachelors of course). At first he laughed but when I explained him the seriousness of the issue, he asked me to sit down and made me understand some basic facts. He convinced me by statistics and otherwise that air mishaps were far fewer than road accidents and train accidents . He explained me in depth how many checks an aircraft goes through before it is cleared for take off . Also , the alternative plans are always in place in case of a trouble and there are always two pilots ( one co-pilot) in the aircraft and are continuously guided and controlled by most sophisticated Air Control Tower at the ground . He explained all this and much more in great detail and fully convinced me that I must not have any apprehensions about the safety of air travel at all.

Somehow Vijayraghawan’s talks worked like a major surgery which corrected the negative mindset and removed the basic fobia from my mind. Next time onwards, I decided to be absolutely normal while flying and  keep my eyes fully open and catch the bull by its horns. Things worked well except for a little while during take off but after a few more flights I actually started enjoying the Air Travel .

Moral : you need to talk to people about your fears and anxieties. One day you will find that Mr/Ms right person and you are bound to overcome your problem.

Fear of public speaking is another issue which makes many people get shivers down their spine even if they have good knowledge of the subject and are extrovert by nature. I have seen people forgetting everything after they reach the stage even after the best of the preparation beforehand. Their trembling voice and nervous body language says it all.

Coming back to my own story on the subject ….Majority of the people in my life (except 2-3 very close friends) will never believe that I am an introvert , in fact a BORN INTROVERT, a very shy person deep inside especially when it comes to opposite gender. I never participated in any plays or debates in school/college and none of the educational Institutes where I studied was a co-ed. Although there was one girl in our engineering college against about 1200 boys !!

Though I was a good sportsman and pursued several Sports and competed at university level  in Badminton. I made quite a few good friends in College but public speaking …..NO WAY, it was not my cup of tea .

After spending a number of years in various departments and having gained reasonable experience , the management of my company decided to post me to marketing department. I am not sure why but many of my seniors believed that I would be ideally suited for marketing. Little did I realize at that point of time that it would mean presentations to the top management, to govt. officials as well as to clients every now and then.

Within a month or two of my joining the marketing department , I was told that we were going to have our annual business meet wherein I would be required to make a presentation on all aspects of the business related to the product I was marketing

The nightmare started ! I was given about two weeks for preparation which appeared sufficient to put all the contents together, to understand the various aspects of my presentation and prepare all the slides (transparencies)  for the Overhead Projector. BUT…. how to prepare for the first big public presentation to my top management including the CEO and about 100 partipants all experts in their own fields.

I rehersed the  opening sentences several times  whenever I was alone in washroom, at night while everyone was sleeping, as well as in the chartered bus on way to office and back. But as the day of the presentation drew nearer, my heartbeat and palpitations also got acceleration and nervousness reached its peak.

I literally started praying that I should fall sick. I was wishing it could be malaria, typhoid or any such fever which could save me from this public presentation but nothing of this sort happened and my prayers did not yield any positive results. I told myself that God was not kind to me as I was not doing prayers regularly  in the past.

Now only 2-3 days remained and our flight tickets were booked from Delhi to Ahmedabad, as the venue of the annual business meet was a resort in “Mehsana” close to the city of Ahmedabad. Day and night I wished and prayed that something should happen and the event should be postponed/cancelled. But nothing untoward happened !!

Well the day of our departure arrived too soon and we were all on our way to Ahmedabad. Now this was the day , trust me, I started praying that the Aeroplane which was carrying us to Ahmedabad should CRASH so that I don’t have to make a big public presentation the next day.But this did not happen and unfortunately we landed safely !

Now it was the night before the presentation and I went to the room of my immediate senior colleague Mr Bhatia with a final request that he should make the presentation in my place. He understood my predicament but flatly refused to agree to my request and told me ‘One day it has to be the first time” so let that be tomorrow.

Then he gave me some very useful tips on public speaking and also assured me, if I get struck anywhere or could not find an answer to any question/query by anyone, he would stand up and support me. That was a big relief to me. But that was not enough. I knew Mr Bhatia was in the habit of going to the washroom very often in office. So I told him my apprehension that in case he goes to the washroom and I get into any awkward situation ?? He laughed ….paused… and then told me “ I assure you I will hold it and will not go to washroom till your presentation is over and that is my promise”. On the lighter side he hastened to add , if required, he would spill drop by drop on his seat if he had to answer the nature’s call but would not break his promise.

Finally, the next day morning , I was on the stage in front of 100+ seniors including the CEO on a no choice basis ! As I had practiced for several days, I spoke the first 3-4 sentences flawlessly looking in the direction of Mr Bhatia with a  fake smile and before I could say anything on the first slide, The CEO asked me to stop ( my hear skipped a few beats) and said as he was from finance background and not with a technical background he asked me to explain the basics of the product about which I was to make the detailed presentation ( Circuit Breaker) and its types in two minutes only.

As I had learnt the basics of the product very clearly only a few days back , I explained him nicely in a little less than two minutes. He thanked me very much for the clarity with a nice smile and asked me to proceed further. This was the turning point of my public speaking .

I was appreciated right in the beginning by none other than my CEO. I gained loads of confidence and completed my presentation without any hiccups and answered practically all queries to everybody’s satisfaction There was a huge applause  as I finished my presentation and I thanked everybody profusely and confidently.

That day onwards, there was no looking back. It became a routine to give public presentations at short notice. I believed that I became more professional with every presentation and the confidence grew by leaps and bounds over the years. Later, after a couple of years, I was told by my seniors that I was having the best presentation skills and a good public speaker !

Only thing I always told myself was YES I CAN DO IT !! And  thereafter I always told all my juniors and staff members that if I could do it, anyone can do it !!

Basically, the fears we don’t face become our limits.

So let’s face the fears cross them and win the world. Don’t just sit over your fears or else you will remain where you are…. as someone said :

 

Mat ban tu us rahi jaisa, jo soche kab kya hoga

Ban tu us Insaan jaisa, jo soche , jo hoga achha hoga

Jo boenge wohi katenge, Yehi to Jag ki Reet hai,

Gyan Yehi hai Jeevan ka, Dar ke age Jeet hai……………!!

 

Loneliness is bliss!

I read somewhere- Living alone, feeling alone, being lonely and being isolated are totally different conditions but we often combine them. This is where we make a big mistake!

In my view if you are alone you are more likely to introspect, plan, be with the nature or reach out to some friend, than otherwise. This means that one has multiple choices when alone than in a company.

Today, you find several young people of both genders preferring to remain Single and stay all alone compared to a few decades earlier for multiple reasons. Most importantly, freedom, control of one’s own time and space and socialize on one’s own terms.

Another factor favoring this trend is the technology which enables one to interact with known and unknown people on social media twenty four hours a day. Further, one often feels that it is better to be alone than with a wrong person.

Today, people especially the educated middle class in metros is more self- dependent, confident, less adjusting type and doing financially better than ever before. That does not, however, mean that people staying alone are always happier than those staying with conventional life partners andfamilies. There will always be times when you need someone for help in case of immediate needs like medical condition or any other.

But the stigma attached to those people living alone, especially women, is far less than it used to be say a few decades back.

Those who were getting into their thirties and early forties were always seen with raised eyebrows and were a talking point among their conventional counterparts who were married in their twenties and living with their families. The ones who remained single were seen as if they are from a different world and were always looked down upon with some kind of suspicion about their sexual deficiency.

However, the scenario has changed and I am sure it is further going to change and the ones who are living alone will have many more people like them and the day may not be too far when their number becomes more than their conventional counterparts

 

– Rakesh Malik

Technology: bane or boon!!

A couple of decades back, when I was a school student in Shimla, we had to walk nearly two kilometers to the Central Telegraph Office in case we were to make a trunk call, in other words, a “long distance call” from one town to another town/ city.

 

There were three options to make a trunk call, viz. General Call, Urgent Call and Lightning call. The first one was most commonly used if there was no urgency/emergency and the call would “mature” in about one to two hours. In case of urgent call, your waiting period would be about half an hour. And, in case of an emergency like some death or serious ailment or a cheerful news of a child birth etc., the ultimate choice was to book a lightning call which you could expect to get through in less than five minutes and it would cost a fortune to make that kind of call.

 

The international call was  not affordable by a common middle class person !!

 

As soon as a call matured, the name of the person who booked the call was announced loudly and he/she would rush with lightning speed to pick up the receiver (to minimize the charges) and start with a loud Hello 2-3 times without waiting to hear from the other side and then the whole conversation was done in such a loud pitch that the entire staff of the telegraph office and the other callers waiting for their call could listen every word. The reason was simple…. after all we were talking to someone a few hundred km away; so there always was a fear that unless we talk very loud, the person on the other side would not be able to hear !! Common sense after all !!

 

The other fast means of communication was a telegram again there was an ordinary telegram and an urgent telegram. These telegrams were invariably delivered within 12 to 24 hours depending on the location. The maximum allowed matter was only one or at the most two sentences. So the telegram was invariably used only to communicate a death/serious illness or sometimes for a child birth.

 

At the very sight of a telegram delivery person in that khaki uniform, everyone in the locality could recognize him from a distance. The entire Mohallah (locality) used to get panicky and in the heart of hearts everyone prayed that the approaching telegram was not for him/her as it was presumed that it would bring some bad news.

 

In either case good or bad news via a telegram would spread to every single house in the locality like a wildfire within an hour or two. And the celebration or the mourning was done together by the whole community in that locality !!

 

The most familiar and the only other means of communication was a Postcard costing five paise, which could be read by anyone in transit, so it had no privacy, an Inland letter costing 10 paise (having partial privacy) and then there was an envelope costing 15 paise which could be used to carry 1-2 sheets of written matter and was fully covered and sealed giving the sender and the addressee complete privacy !!

 

It was not uncommon for the couples married or about to be married, to send a flower along with the letter in the envelope, to express their love to each other and many would write a poetry or an indicative bollywood film song like “ Phool tumhe bheja hai khut meii, phool nahi mera dil hai…..” and so on to make the feelings and message really romantic !!

 

Where have we reached in just a couple of decades!! Thanks to Information technology, the whole globe has become a single village as far as the world of communication is concerned. The electronic media which includes emails, SMS, Apps like Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype and so on ….have ensured connectivity 24×7 and one can select his/her own privacy levels!!

 

Hundreds of pages and photographs as well as videos can be shared across the globe by pressing of a few buttons on your laptop or mobile handset. The distance, speed, location have all become non issues. Also, the same message, picture, video can be sent simultaneously to thousands a of recipients  in a matter of seconds.

 

The IT revolution has changed the whole concept of communication and is not an issue any more practically across all classes, cultures, languages, religions, and countries.

 

The internet has made it possible to make Rail/Air/Hotel bookings online, Applcations for Entrance exams, Passport, Visa. Entire banking can be done online and Practically all the payments can be made online sitting in the comforts of your home/workplace. The lifestyle has changed dramatically post the technology revolution !

 

But is there a flip side to it ?? Has everything become very rosy or are we missing a point here!!Well I guess ‘yes’!

 

Technology has brought distant people (known or unknown) closer but has separated the close knit people!!

 

We have  got comforts, speed and privacy  but lost the person to person contact to a great extent !

 

Where are the community celebrations when a good news arrived by a telegram? Where has the subtle romance vanished which was concealed in letters and postal envelopes with real flowers inside along with beautiful words written by your loved ones? Today, if there are four members in a family, all four under the same roof will hardly be communicating within themselves but are all in communication with hundreds of “other” people many of them who have never met the other and may not ever meet in life!!

 

It is not uncommon to see young couples on a beach …….both partners spending most of their time on their own mobile sets ……..sounds romantic ???

 

So, are we not moving from real world to the Virtual world?

 

People prefer to send a text message rather than calling over phone. We have stopped reaching out to people next door or to our own blood relations, because we take them for granted and move on with more and more people on the electronic media!

 

With the above scenario, relationships have become shallow! We tend to believe that we can reach out to several other people on the social media or otherwise  and parents, brother, sister , daughter , son or any other close relative can wait, anyway they know our relationship and they know we care for them always . But the question is how?? How would they know, if you don’t express them in person as we always did for ages.

 

We have become so addict to sending text messages and communicating via chatting, I am afraid the days are not very far when we would forget the ART OF CONVERSATION and become more like Robots !! Thanks to technology !

 

The point I am making is that before the technology invaded our lives at a rapid pace and provided us multiple choices, we were having nice and good community living and shared happiness and grief together always. This is beautifully summarized in the following very emotional ghazal by Pankaj Udhas:

 

“Dukh Sukh Tha Ek Sabka… Apna Ho Ya Begana,

EK Wo Bhi Tha Zamana…Ek Yeh Bhi Hai Zamana !!

 

AWAZ KI DUNIYA KE DOSTO !!

The magical words “Awaz ki duniya ke dosto” and “Pyare bhaiyo aur behno”  by a golden voice at the start of a radio programme called “ Binaca Geet Mala”  for more than four decades still echos in our ears. The VOICE was provided by none other than “Ameen Sayani” and attracted lakhs of listeners who were glued to the wooden boxes like radio sets ( Philips or Murphy brand, generally covered by a fancy piece of cloth) just to listen to his VOICE, which was no less than a tonic for the ears !! Every Wednesday at 8 PM, the entire country as well as the neighboring countries had only one thing to look forward to and that was “Binaca Geet Mala” presented by the one and only Ameen Sayani  from “Radio Cylone”.

Ameen Sayani was conferred “Padma Shri” in 2009 and Dada Saheb Phalke award in 2005, in recognition of his contribution to his work with  “All India Radio “ and “Radio Cylone”  through his musical voice and unique style of charming the listeners irrespective of their gender, age or class for so many years !!

 

“Devki Nandan Pandey”, also called father of News Broadcasting in India whose news reading motivated a whole generation of broadcasters, was another VOICE which we all heard for decades in Hindi News at 8 am every day. He was a newscaster par excellence. Incidently , my father had the privilege of working closely with him as he was also a News Editor with News Broadcasting section of All India Radio.

Another VOICE Legend, whom not many would have forgotton,” Melville de Mellow” also worked with the All India Radio from 1950 to 1971. The most famous news reader in English at 9 pm every day. Demellow is remembered as an iconic broadcaster noted for his deep baritoned commentary of various events in independent India. He was also the commentator at India’s Republic Day parade for several years and his commentary of IndiaPakistan hockey matches are remembered to this day. He was conferred with Padma Shree by Govt of India in 1963.

Another Legend Jasdev Singh known so well by his famous voice on radio was actually inspired by Melville de Mellow. Padma Bhushan Jasdev Singh was awarded Life Time Achievement award by Dr. H. O. Srivastava, President World Development Foundation, India. Padmabhushan Jasdev Singh has the unique distinction of doing commentary of Independence Day functions at the Red Fort for 47 years. In addition, he had made the commentaries of Olympic Games , Asian Games, World Cup Hockey, a number of cricket matches and over 250 documentaries.

Amitabh Bachhan , better known as Sadi ka Mahanayak , has attracted millions of people by his VOICE , perhaps more than his acting. Be it his powerful dialogues  as an angry young man, or some of the romantic bollywood songs in his own voice or reciting his father Harivansh Rai Bacchan’s  “Madhushala”…his VOICE made them immortal !!

Silken VOICE of famous Ghazal singer Jagjit Singh , Charmed his listeners all over the world and gave a new dimension to Ghazals only by his so called “Silcon Voice”.

The most versatile VOICE  of Playback Singer Mohammad Rafi, sang all types of songs and became the heartthrob of millions of people across the globe.

One particular song “Oh Duniyan ke Rakhwale…..comes to my mind wherein he had so many variation in his voice pitch and  every bit sounded so magical and people just loved him for that !!

The most gentlemanly  VOICE of  Playback Singer Mukesh left an everlasting impact on the heart and soul of hundreds of thousands of men and women all over the world ! My collegue and good friend Anjana who happened to be Mukesh’s ( full name Mukesh Chand Mathur) niece, once told me…Even songs like “ Ruk Ja O Jane wali Ruk Ja….which otherwise sounded like a song by a street romeo,  but when sung by “Mukesh Mama”  gave everyone a feeling that a Gentleman was singing !!  Such is the effect of pitch and texture of the voice

An old song or a ghazal, on radio by our favorite singer takes us to a different world for some time. One phone call from a beloved person makes our day. Sweet conversations with our loved ones remain embedded deep in our heart for years and sometimes life long ! Such is the impact of good Voice.

I have come across several cases when people have fallen in love with a VOICE without ever meeting, only by conversing over phone for years together . Although I am not sure what happened when they actually met . But one thing is very clear, one can fall actually and fiercely in love with a VOICE !! Which is ample demonstration of the proof that VOICE has immense power !

We cannot even imagine a world without voice ! The sweet nothings talked for hours together between  young and not so young couples on a beautiful beach , in a park or under soft moonlight in a hill station would be missing !! And the world would have been a boring numb place ….to say the least.

Voice is no doubt God gifted and some of us have a sweeter/melodious voice than the other. However, each one of us has a different and distinct voice.

But the big question is whether it be changed or improved…. The answer is yes! Simply because if it could not be changed then how is it that so many people can do the mimicry so well ?

We come across hundreds of Comedy Artists who have been entertaining us through their mimicry of several well known Singers, Actors as well as Politicians and Sports Personalities.

In a Classic and very famous case, of VOICE imitation,  in the year 1971 one Mr. Nagarwala called the Branch Manager Mr. Malhotra (over telephone) at the State Bank of India, and imitated voice of the then Prime Minister,Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Nagarwala claimed that the Prime Minister immediately needed Rs 60 lakhs and the receipt can be collected from the PMs office at a later date. The unsuspecting Manager got the money delivered to Mr Nagarwala . Later, Malhotra went to the Prime Minister’s residence to get a receipt as requested, but was informed that no such request for funds had been made by the Prime Minister. Malhotra informed the police of the fraud. Within less than one day, Nagarwala was found and arrested at the airport, and the majority of the money was recovered.

So it is very clear that that VOICE has a big role in our personality. If made best use , it can turn you into a celebrity and you could entertain and charm hundreds of people everyday. It can play a big role in your success in many professions especially in Radio, TV, Tele-Calling , Film Industry,  dubbing in another language ,  Marketing , Advertising and so on…

When you meet a person for the first time, you look at his/ her face, expressions, way he or she has dressed up, and his/her body language and make some opinion. But, wait till he/she open his/her mouth and speaks the first few sentences !! your opinion can change drastically . The reason- his/her tone and texture of the voice, contents and the face expressions make all the difference and the true personality of the person is right in front of you !

However, if the person is not meeting you and is only communicating by voice over telephone, radio or other means, the only two things come into play i-e tone and texture of the voice and the content. While the content/text can be written beautifully by anyone else but finally it is the VOICE which will help you make the final impressions/opinion of the listener.

I read somewhere that “Nobody is a born singer or narrator or voice artiste, yes he/she may have a sweet, melodious voice by birth but still his/her voice needs to be trained enough to modulate, variate and able to perform professionally”.

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A few months back, I was invited to a workshop organized by VIVA Voice Academy, in Juhu area, by a friend. I had no idea about the event but on persuasion of my friend, I agreed to join the event.

And I am glad that I attended the event. For the first time in my life, I realized the there was much more to learn about this great gift of God , called voice,  than we understand. I understood that there are  Voice Academies and Voice Training Centers, which impart proper training to improve, variate and control your voice as per the requirement of the situation.

During the above workshop, I had the opportunity of getting introduced to the CEO and moving force behind VIVA Voice Academy, Ms Vandana Sengupta. At the very first glimpse, she looked a very warm, smiling, simple yet very confident person. After exchange of a few sentences, I became sure that she was an impressive personality and a thorough professional in the field of Voicing

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When I asked Vandana Sengupta about her background and how she became a Voice Trainer or a Voice Coach… this is what she had to tell me :

Being a merchandiser for a fancy diamond jewellery export house, roaming around the world, gold medal from World Gold Council, and to carry tag of NIFT India’s premier design institute, was just not enough for me, a voice echoed inside me and my unusual dream to do something else, got conceived.

And I, landed in a theatre workshop conducted by renowned Nadira Zaheer Babbar, in the heart of Mumbai. On the last day of the workshop, Nadira ji told me politely holding my hand –  “bête tumhari awaz bahut achchi hai, kutch karna iska” and that was It. Unusual dream had a heart beat, started throbbing. God, planted desire, and started opening ways.

Soon, I met Mr. Vanamali in his office, with a zero idea of what voicing is all about. Vanamali ji, Dronacharya of voicing, Dada Sahib Phalke award winner, pillar of voicing in Bollywood, a great man, happened to be my voice teacher, my guru. And here started my unusual journey of VOICE TRAINING. Now there was no stopping, I got fully trained in a year’s time , I was ready to face the auditions, and then, in no time, I was in front of microphone -my world, my dream. Giving voice to radio, television, from Santoor soap to dubbing for ghosts, E-learning, audio books, what not!! I loved when, my voice was loved. But this was still not enough.Started with handling full projects – from Ketan Mehta’s  Ramayan dubbing to Meghna Gulzar’s documentary on autism, e-learning, audio books and many more. And two years back my “VIVA Voice Acadmy” saw the light of the day!

Recently, I also happened to see a play “Ruk Jaana Nahin” directed by Vandna Sengupta wherein she had a small role as an actress also. I was mainly focused on her voice during the play. I was really impressed by the subtle changes in her voice in an emotional scene when she cried just after a few minutes of a very romantic scene when she laughed very joyfully. The variations of the tone and pitch of her voice were really very profound.

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Her students from VIVA are working in TV channels, signed feature films, FM radio, as well as Vivid Bharti. I am sure some of them are going to be the Celebrities of tomorrow in their respective fields and bring laurels to Vandna Sengupta and her VIVA Voice Academy.

Well coming back to the main subject, I am totally convinced that just like your looks, make up, body, your dress up and mannerism contribute to your overall personality, your VOICE has a very significant role in determining your personality and Charm.

Let us see the difference between VOICE and NOISE …A few nice words in a sweet charming tone is a pleasant “VOICE” and act as music to ears, whereas, a few bad words uttered in a harsh and unpleasant tone lead only  to a disturbing “NOISE” which can further lead to all sorts of problems.

We therefore need to pay a lot more attention to our voice if we have to be successful in our personal or professional life. Some training and improvement in our VOICE can lift us up from an ordinary to an Attractive Personality. The best thing about voice is that it does not change much with passage of time and it is a treasure for ever !!

So, hear your voice, train it, improve it , practice it , and make it sweet, lovely, melodious, sexy, silky, impressive , smooth and attractive and make people fall in love with your VOICE and are forced to whisper words like :

Teri Awaz tere roop ki pehchan hai,

Tere dil ki dhadkan, mere dil ki jaan hai !

Na sunu jis din teri Awaz

Lagta hai us din, ye Jism hi baijan hai !!

 

RAKESH MALIK

The Fairyland called “Queen of Hills” !!

I will not be doing justice to my new found passion for writing, until I write about the place which is probably closest to my heart and the place which I feel most Nostalgic about every time I am there or even see a picture of that small Paradise on Earth. Popularly known as “Queen of hills”…..Yes …I am talking about the“Summer Capital of British India” called Shimla  !!

Where the air is always filled with fragrance of Deodar and Pine trees, with rare variety of flowers and plants that impregnate the air with sweet aroma. Surrounded by green hills with snowcapped peaks, lush green slopes, scenic locations,  this small hill town offers you a heavenly feeling  so much so that once you visit this place you are bound to carry the irresistible feeling of falling in love with this place !

Shimla is a visual delight for all seasons. where tourists are rewarded with Soft Sun in summers, where one can see all three seasons in one day (at times during monsoon), the best sunsets in monsoon and where  winter is known as the season of Long Moonlight……

Come Winters and this small town turns into a wonderful fairyland of white beauty. The heavy snowfall usually beginning around Christmas time more often than not, ensures every inch of rooftops, trees, leaves, ropes and slopes get covered under a thick blanket of Snow. The surrounding hills and mountains get painted in white  by the snowflakes and present a heavenly look !

It is undoubtedly, the most romantic place for every young and not so young visitor at anytime of the year !

The locals are very simple, honest, and content with small needs in life. Despite some challenges during heavy snowfalls in winters the Shimlaites always wear a nice smile on their face and spread happiness all around !!

The unquestionable charm and beauty of Shimla has been attracting people from every corner of the world throughout the year. The Britishers ( pre-1947) were so fascinated by the charm of this town that they declared it the Official Summer  Capital of India. All the files and entire paraphernalia used to be moved from New Delhi to Shimla during Summers and the Government functioned from there for almost half the year every year and from New Delhi during the winters.

The best part is its connectivity by all modes of transport i-e Railways, by Road as well as by Air. None of the the other well known Hill Stations like Srinagar, Mussoorie, Nainital, Manali, Ooty, Dalhausie, Darjeeling, etc can boast of the connectivity by all three modes of transport !!

Source: http://ste.india.com

The toy train from Kalka to Shimla on the narrow gauge is a treat to the travelers. Passing through 103 tunnels and more than 800 bridges, this train called “Himalayan Queen” has been given the heritage status by UNESCO recently. The scenic beauty encountered during this train journey is just amazing. This railway link is a real engineering marvel as high number of tunnels and bridges had been constructed without affecting the natural beauty and terrain of this rout and that too in a relatively short time of about  6-7 years.

The Kalka Shimla rail link was commissioned and opened to public as early as 1903. The longest tunnel on this rout is the tunnel number 33 at Barog . Every local person including small kids have some special story to tell you about this particular tunnel. It is the longest of the total 103 tunnels en route and is about 1100 meters long.  It is known to be the straightest tunnel in the world. As per the sources, the station was named Barog after Colonel Barog, who was in charge of boring this Tunnel.

There is an interesting story behind this Tunnel. Colonel Barog, the British Engineer in charge, could not complete the boring of this Tunnel in the prescribed time  due to some miscalculations and was removed from duties and the unfinished task was given to another Engineer. Also, Colonel Barog was fined One Rupee as a punishment. Colonel Barog felt so humiliated and depressed that he committed suicide near that Tunnel. And since then the Ghost of Colonel Barog is claimed to have been seen in and around by several people till date !!

Without going further into the details of Ghost stories about this tunnel, let us get back to some other goodies about this rail link.

A single Coach called Rail Car is a white beauty which can accommodate about 15-20 passengers or more appropriately 8-10 couples, runs on this rail route twice daily . Travelling by this Rail Car between Kalka and Shimla offers you a really   Royal and romantic ride and is invariably the choice of newly wed couples going for their Honeymoon. You can imagine the “fun” the newly wed couples have  travelling by this Rail Car especially while traversing each one of the 103 tunnels, some of them one km long.

One of the best shots of this Rail Car can probably be viewed from the song  “Hawa Chale Kaise”……from the Bollywood movie ‘Daag’ starring Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna.

There appears to be some sort of hidden CONNECTION between Bollywood and Shimla. Otherwise what explains large number of Bollywood actors who were born and/or spent several years of their youth in this small town with a population of a few thousand only (presently- around 1.7 lakhs) To name a few: Anupam Kher, Raju Kher, Madan Puri, Amrish Puri, Prem Chopra, Balraj Sahni, Pran, Priety Zinta, Kalpana Kartik, Celina Jaitly and Priya Rajvansh ….are all Shimlites in some way or the other. Incidentally, the Khers and the Puris happened to be my next door neighbors !!

Shimla,  also happens to be one of the favorite movie locations for filmmakers. The pretty locales of the town, the Raj-style bungalows & Palaces, Shimla’s railway station & the toy trains is what attracts Bollywood filmmakers. Several Bollywood Blockbusters were shot in and around this Queen of Hills for its Picturesque locations and heavy snowfalls during winters. :

 Love in Shimla , Tere Ghar ke samne, Who kaun thi, Jab we met, Black, Three Idiots, Gaddar Ek Prem Katha, Daag, Aa Gale Lag ja, Dost, Aaap ki Kasam, 1942- A Love Story and several other especially song sequences from bollywood movies shot in Shimla or around are embedded deep in my mind and keep haunting me (having spent the first sixteen years of my life there and countless visits to that place thereafter).The evergreen song “ Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim…….from Bollywood’s suspense thriller “Woh Kaun Thi”  ( Sadhna- Manoj Kumar) was shot at various locations in Snow covered Shimla.

But the the song from “Aa Gale Lag Ja” ( Sharmila Tagore-Shashi Kapoor) shot in heavy snowfall in Shimla Hills :”Mera Tujh se hai Pehle ka nata koi…yuhi nahi dil lubhata koi”…..keeps haunting me for my eternal love for this small piece of heaven !!

Mall Road, which is the heart of Shimla, has maintained its majesty and grandeur since the British era. The Royal and beautifully maintained buildings including the famous Gaiety Theater, The Town Hall, General Post Office and several other buildings with British architecture add to the glory of Mall Road. Vehicular Traffic is not allowed on this  Here, you find yourself in the middle of what looks like a traditional English town, with its little shops and larger buildings in Victorian styles. Other cities, such as Mumbai and Kolkata, boast their share of British Raj Era buildings, but nowhere else in the country can one find such a concentrated area of relatively well-preserved and diverse colonial architecture..

During the Britishers’ time, the Mall Road was reserved for them. My father who spent almost 40 years in Shimla used to tell me that “Average Indians couldn’t walk on the Mall. You had to be dressed properly and educated, like a gentleman, because English ladies were on the Mall”.

“The presence of unattached ladies, bachelors, flirts, match makers gave to Shimla its early reputation…. Early evenings on the Mall, was the customary place for building acquaintances…. Eligibles… socially desirable… all were on the Mall”.   ——  Raghuvendra Tanwar, in “Shimla : Another age, another time”.

Tourists as well as locals can have really delicious food in several  Eateries famous for well over fifty years now .The well known Baljees Bakery & Restaurant, Trishul Bakery (Favorite of Priety Zinta , claims the owner) Alfa Restaurant, Devicos, Indian Coffee House, Sher-e-Punjab,  and a string of several other joints offering tasty food and snacks .

The most famous landmark in Shimla is the “Scandal Point”on The Mall Road. A must visit point for everyone is located where the Ridge and Mall Road converge. This famous Scandal Point is the meeting place for locals, tourists and lovers. This is the spot where the British Viceroy’s daughter and the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh used to have a romantic rendezvous in colonial time in 19th Century and the Scandal Point apparently got it’s name in by the scandal caused by Bhupinder Singh, who eloped with the Viceroy’s daughter at this very point in 1892. He was banned from entering Shimla thereafter and he made his own small hill town called Chail ( a famous tourist resort now) near Shimla. The Scandal Point is also famous for the statue of freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai there.

One level lower than Mall Road is the famous Lower Bazar, which has been the favorite of local population for shopping. Nathu Ram Halwai and Gujjar Khan Sweets located in this lower bazaar are the most popular sweet shops for probably more than fifty years . I have still not forgotten the taste of Dhoodh Jalebi of the most famous Nathu Ram Lachman Dass Halwai where my father used to take me frequently when I was a small kid !!

Located at the heart of Shimla the Ridge is A MUST VISIT place for every tourist. It is the social hub of the city. The Ridge is filled by tourists on various occasions especially in the summer festival, new year and Christmas. The place has to offer a beautiful view of the mountain ranges in Shimla. apart from just the beautiful location the Ridge is the home of many monumental buildings including the old Christ church which is probably the second oldest Church in north India built around 1850, it offers a treat to every visitor !!.

A trip to Shimla would not be complete without going to Lakkar Bazaar. Located next to the ridge, it is well known for wooden items from toys to lamps, and kitchen items to tables. This is the place where the famous D.A.V School is located where I studied up to eleventh standard and needless to say, it occupies a very special place in my heart !!

A steep climb to the Jahkhoo Hill, about 8100 ft above mean sea level, Shimla’s highest point offers amazing views of the surrounding valleys, the snowcapped peaks and main shimla town itself. At the top is a Hanuman Temple, which is believed to be the point where Lord Hanuman stopped over while bringing “sanjeevni’ for “Lakshman” !! It is also the home of countless playful monkeys waiting to be fed by all visitors. There is also one of tallest statue (about 108 feet) of Lord Hanuman located at the top of Jakhoo hill.

“Glenn” is located 5-6 kms from Mall is another beautiful tourist  attraction. Forest trees of pine and deodar surround it and act as a shade for picnickers. A bubbling stream known as Chadwick Falls flows through this place in which tourists take a joyful bath.

Your visit to Shimla shall become even more enjoyable if you try your hand at Ice-skating. The Ice skating sport of Simla is one of the most sought after adventure sport. This is the largest and one of the oldest Ice skating rink in India. It is also the only natural ice skating rink of India. This largest open-air rink attracts many tourists and locals who enjoy ice-skating. The Ice skating season usually begins in the start of December and goes on till the end of February. The sessions take place every day, twice a day in morning and evening.

Every winter, there is an ice skating festival that attracts a large number of tourists and locals. The place comes alive with festivities, feasts, carnivals and colorful fancy dress competitions for children. It is the time to enjoy the cold weather and indulge in not just sports but also enviable romance of some sorts ! So if you ever happen to visit Shimla in December, get set to see Shimla alive in the most vibrant colors.

The quiet and lovely suburb of Summer Hill, the last railway station before Shimla on the Kalka- Shimla rail link, has secluded, shady walks and charming views. It was here that Gandhiji stayed on his visits to Shimla,  and used to stay in a mansion that belonged to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur.

There are several small hill resorts within about  two hours drive from Shimla. Just to mention a few are : Kufri– The place known for heavy snow covered slopes in winter and offering Skiing competitions. The place has beautiful scenic beauty and has been the choicest location for shootings of several Bollywood songs .Chail- Another beautiful resort which boasts of being the highest cricket ground in the world. Wildflower Hall, Mashobra, Naldehra, and Tatta Pani are some of the other popular and most sought after spots around Shimla.

Overall, Shimla is not a place to read about or to see just once, it is a place to  experience and you are guaranteed to fall in love with this Paradise !!

A Taste of Incredible Mumbai !!

If there is any city in India which can boast of being really cosmopolitan in the true sense of the word, it is our good old “BOMBAY “ which was renamed as “MUMBAI” a few years back.

 

This City is amazingly unique in several ways and has got a magnetism like none other. Some call it“MAYA NAGRI” (city of wealth) and others call it “City of Dreams” ( sapnokinagri). For Locals it is Amchi Mumbai (Our Mumbai) and everybody knows it as “ City which never sleeps” and “The Most Happening Place”.

Every day hundreds of people come here for jobs, education, set up businesses, and many with dream to make it big in “Bollywood” !! The City welcomes everyone with open arms and gives a chance to fulfill his dreams. There is something in this City which no other City in the world has in it. One has to experience it because words probably cannot truly describe it !! However, I will try to give a little taste of this amazing city in a couple of blogs …

 

Mumbai, which is still called and known by many by its earlier name “Bombay”, got itsname from the temple located here called Mumba Devi ( temple of Godess Kali). Originally, It was a combination of seven islands and it took 60 years to merge these Islands into one, between the years 1784 to 1845.

 

Erstwhile “Bombay” was not part of British Empire, but was given as dowry by the Portuguese, when Princess Braganza married Charles II of England.

 

Let us talk about some more not so well known facts about this City.

  • Juhu Aerodromelocated in the heart of Mumbai, which is presently used only as a base for Helicopters, was the First Airport built in India and became operational in 1928.
  • The Majestic Victoria Terminus, presently called ChhattrapatiShivaji Terminus (CST Rly Station) was amongst the very first few railway stationsconstructed in India and has been included in the top 500 Heritage buildings in the world.
  • The first train in India ran between “Bombay” and Thane .
  • Taj Mahal Palace was the first five star hotel of India and came into existence in the year 1903, several years before the famous Gateway of India came into existence.
  • Mumbai is the only city in India having so manySkywalks, connecting most of the local stations to the Highway/Other Roads.
  • Well known Industrialist,Jamshedji Tata, resident of Mumbai was the first Indian to own a Car and drive on the roads of this City.
  • Mumbai has one of the longest Coastline of about 149 KMs.

 

Mumbai is the Financial, Commercial and Entertainment Capital of India. The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), National Stock Exchange (NSE), SEBI, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Headquarters of all major Banks and Financial Institutions, Corporate and registered offices of Top Most Industries, several most famous and prestigious Film and TV Studios, are all located here.

In my stay of around sixteen years in this city, I have not seen a “Power Cut”, not even a single day barring stray incidents of some local electrical faults, which were always rectified in a couple of hours at the most. Having earlier, lived in quite a few cites and towns and travelled almost all corners of India, I have not seen another place which can boast of a better record in terms of Power Supply.

 

“This City never sleeps”… and the saying is so very appropriate!! One of the major reasons contributing to that is the fact Mumbai is the Hub of Hindi Film Industry popularly known as “Bollywood” and Television Industry which work almost round the clock. Bollywood produces largest number of films in the world an estimated 1000 movies annually !!One of the oldest and the most prestigious Cinema Theater, Maratha Mandir has been screening the movie “D D L J” starring Shahrukh Khan and Kajol for more than twenty years continuously with packed houses. Where else in the world will you find such Obsession for Cinema ?

 

The influence of Bollywood is very much “Visible” all around the city. The dance and acting academies/classes can be seen in every other locality. Parents of aspiring teenagers and even 7-8 years olds, encourage their children to join these institutions with a hope to make it big in Bollywood/TV/Theatre one day in future.

 

Recently I happened to visit a Voice Academy called “VIVA Voice Academy” where the voice modulation, the art of using your voice is taught to improve your performance in any profession, especially useful in Cinema and TV Industry; and personal life ! The students of this Academy come from all walks of life.

 

The local trains, popularly known as the “Life line of Mumbai” start as early as 4 am in the morning and the last train is available at 1.30 am at midnight !!

As per estimates, around 72 lakh Commuters travel by these local trains everyday. One has to travel during peak hours to get a real taste of travel in these trains. The Ladies Coaches turn into Portable kitchens in the evening rush hour,with ladies peeling vegetables, the coaches also turn into mobile shopping centers as one can see hawkers selling combs, footwear, fancy hair clips, and even make up kits at throwaway prices !!

 

The General compartments both second as well as first class are so tightly packed that however itchy you may feel, you cannot scratch your head or any part of your body as it becomes impossible to move your hand. If you board a train in the morning around 8 am from western suburbs to Churchgate , you can get all the Share Market tips for the day from the familiar group of Stock Brokers/dealers. If a fan is not working and you feel suffocated, never mind, Mumbaikars have the  knack of being very creative on such occasions, you will spot a young man taking out a comb from his pocket and move the fan blades with it and in no time you will see the fan moving with great speed and that’s almost a routine !! The sight of people doing meditation or some acts of Yoga and some having a good nap while standing, in the jam-packed locals running at high speeds, is not uncommon !!

 

The Mumbai Locals have taught the Mumbaikars the value of every second. I have observed for more than ten years, the fast trains leaving Churchgate station for Borivali in the evening at 5.54 P.M; 5.57 PM,  and 6.00 PM, have been punctual to the last second, barring exceptional circumstances like flooding of tracks once in a while during Monsoon. People can be seen literally running lest they miss their particular train which, otherwise, would delay their arrival home by quite some time due to the chain reaction!! And while running to catch the train, it is usual to collide with another person as the rush during peak hours is breath-taking. However, nobody has the time to even turn and see whether you collided with a man or woman, young or old, no question about anyone complaining or picking up a quarrel or for that anyone saying sorry to the other only because that would consume a few seconds which may become the reason to miss their trains.

 

The Auto Wallas in Mumbai are humble and honest. They will turn their meters down even before you settle down in the Auto and tell him the destination. The traffic is generally disciplined and the drivers follow the lanes traffic rules strictly. If you are in a hurry and tell the Auto Rickshaw driver to move fast more than once, don’t be surprised if he stops the Auto and tell you to hire another vehicle !!

I have not come across a single incident of serious road rage in the last sixteen years of my stay. If there is any issue between the two drivers, they may give a dirty look, shout at each other, at the most, without getting down from their respective vehicles and invariably the windows of the cars still remain closed during such altercations.There might have been stray incidents but considering the huge population and corresponding traffic, they become insignificant.

 

The word “Eve Teasing” does not exist in the dictionary of Mumbaikars. The fairer sex can walk alone anywhere even at 1 a.m, without looking around and hire a Auto/Cab fearlessly round the clock.

 

You can witness young as well as not so young couples enjoying their romantic moments at popular Spots like Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Juhu Beach, Girgaon Chaupatty, Bandra Band Stand,Worli Sea Face, and Carter Road, well past midnight and no passerby would bother to give them a second look (or for that matter first look) and the couples won’t bother any bit about the surrounding people anyway and continue to be in their own “Starry World” talking “Sweet Nothings” for hours!

One can find traffic jams even at midnight, at 12.30 or 1 am, at particular points but then it is certainly a better situation in comparison to the empty, dark roads where women dare not move out alone even at 8 pm in other places like in NCR and neighboring states.

Mumbai’s night life is worth experiencing. Intimate and Trendy Bars for the middle and upper middle class, High Class lounges for the Elite Class  and Community dances of fishermen on the famous Tunes of ” Original Local Koli” Community makes sure that there something for everybody almost throughout the  night !!

 

Mumbai is known for its liberal and non interfering culture unlike most other parts of the country.

 

The spirit of united Mumbaikarsis truly visible during times of need; be it the natural calamities like the floods due to extremely heavy rain on 26th July, 2005 or the terror attacks on the city on 26/11/ 2008, every citizen was seen helping the victims/affected people, irrespective of religion, caste, class and gender. Mumbaikar’s urge to help the needy on such occasions is just amazing !!

 

To get the real taste of this amazing city, one must stay here for at least a few months if not a few years.

 

My mother and grandmother used to tell me a saying in Punjabi for the city of Lahore (now in Pakistan), which was part of the undivided India before Independence…..which goes like this “ Jinne Lahore NaiVekhya, Oh Jamya hi Nai”, which means “ The One  who has not seen Lahore, is CONSIDERED as NOT BORN”. I am tempted to rephrase it as “Jinne Bombay naiVekhya, Oh Jamya Hi Nai”……..”.Those of you, who have not seen Mumbai, are CONSIDERED NOT BORN” !!

Changing face of Institution of Marriage.

Marriage, probably one of the oldest Institutions, has always been regarded as the most sacred of all relationships between a man and a woman.

In the context of Indian Hindu marriage, the importance of ‘Saat Pheras’ as the seven rounds along the holy fire has been considered the union for seven births of a husband and his wife. The ingredients of love, understanding, faith and adjustments had kept this bond unchanged for ages.

Let us understand some basics of marriage. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged. In almost all societies and religions, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity.

The system of marriage was conceived in a totally different environment compared to the one seen today! Man was the breadwinner of the family who would go out of the house engage himself in agriculture, or any other trade prevalent that time and the woman would remain indoors taking care of cooking and all other household chores and take care of the off-springs, etc. The roles were well defined and there was no chance of a gender mix outside the marriage. Communication and transport systems were practically zero. Lifestyles were simple and stress free. Therefore there were practically no complexities with regard to marriages. Not only a particular joint family, even all inhabitants of a village lived like a joint family in harmony with each other.

Adjustments between a couple were simple and easy, as both husband and wife married at young age. The differences and minor quarrels between the two partners were settled amicably, by the elders of the joint families. ’ Also, when both partners were going for work, the other issues like cooking, other household chores, looking after the couple’s kids, etc. were taken care by elders and other members of the joint family.

 

The twentieth century brought enormous changes in the family system. Not only traditional family system, but also the ‘saat phera’ (sacred marriage for seven births of a couple) is steadily on the decline, especially from the urban scene. There is absolutely no chance of reversal of this trend.

Huge and diversified job opportunities for both men and women, Communications, Transportation, Industrialization, Science & Technology, Life expectancy, Liberalisation of societies, has been unbelievably rapid in twentieth century onwards compared to those existing for thousands of years earlier.

Higher education and diverse job opportunities have prompted men and women to migrate from their native places to metros and even abroad, The improvement in financial status coupled with relatively new found relationships on social media have further fuelled the younger generation to abandon the joint family and stay separately. However, it has brought new problems along.

Unlike in the past, women today are working in practically every profession, viz. Scientists, Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Politicians, Bureaucrats, Commercial Pilots and taxi/metro drivers, shop floors, even Armed Forces and so on and on.

There is a total gender mix at educational institutes, workplaces, public places, fantasies created by colleagues at work place, cinema, social media, etc. about alternatives/ remedies to a couple’s relationship issues, pleasures of extra-marital sex, etc. Women now give more emphasis on career, late marriages, not willing to produce and raise children, for fear of a break in their professional career path, etc.

That is why the complexities in marriages are more profound than ever before.

Young couples now have to encounter issues which were non- issues earlier! Result…. Small differences lead to bigger differences and misunderstandings which further lead to communication breakdown, suffocated relationships at times leading to physical violence and finally separation/ divorce !!

As per some estimates, there’s been a 100% increase in divorce rates in the past five years alone in India. Family courts in the prosperous southern State of Kerala saw just over five divorces every hour in 2014 . Totally about 50,000 divorce cases were filed in Kerela in 2014. About half that number i-e narly 25000 divorce cases in Maharashtra during the same year. One can extrapolate and would reach a figure of no less than half a million divorce cases in India annually, though there is no official divorce rate figure available for India at present.

Majority of the divorce cases come up in the first one or two years of the marriage.

One of my very close relative had a so called love marriage as she knew the boy for several years being class mates in school. The marriage was solemnized very lavishly and with the participation of more than 500 guests . However, the couple separated within three days of marriage and were legally divorced in about one year !!

Daughter of our close friend and neighbor had an arranged marriage through a matrimonial site on the net about two years back. However, both of them were staying under the same roof but in different rooms from day one (or more appropriate to say from night one ) They are now legally divorced !

So what is going wrong?

I guess there are multiple reasons namely…breakdown of joint family, reduced tolerance and lack of willingness to adjust, lack of acceptance of expectations and reality, both partners want “space”, career is given more priority over the family life, both partners demand more, trust less, ; mostly both partners are working but still the man expects his partner to be a good cook and do all the household chores which a housewife does, expects her to be back home in time irrespective of the official challenges etc. and on the other hand although the wife is working but she uses her husband as an ATM , and wishes to keep her money only with herself and expects all the expenses to be met by husband’s income. She invariably wants him to stay separately from his (husband’s) old parents and does not want any ‘interference’ from them, etc.

Faithful marital sex for procreation and raising children were the two most important ingredients which any young couple used to look forward to and were the essence of a successful marriage.

However, the same is not true anymore, as the virtual world along with the social/ electronic media , TV, priority to professional career, stressful lifestyle, hours of travel time to and fro the workplace are some of the contributing factors for the reduced interest in marital sex which has always been considered essential for a happy married life.

Pursuing ambitious growth in professional careers has taken priority over producing a child/children which always brought cheer in the past to the couple and the larger family and strengthen the marital bond between the two partners.

Exponential Increase in premarital sex, extra-marital sex, homosexuality, serial marriages (second or even third marriage after legal separation of the first),   live-in relationships have all contributed to the changing face of sacred relationship called “Marriage”.

And I firmly believe that it is only the beginning of the change. So where are we heading ? Live-in relationships with Legal Contracts in place specifying every detail clause by clause…..or temporary/ trial marriages?? Only TIME will unfold where it is heading…

I am sure we have to increase our vocabulary to accommodate all these new terminologies to keep pace with the fast changing “world of relationships” as an alternative to age old conventional marriage

New Trend: ”Live-in”

The increasing number of people choosing to remain Single (Singletons) is a global phenomena and not restricted to few countries, however, the trend is apparently more profound in USA, China, Brazil and India, in recent years.

Availability of Paying Guest accommodation easily, availability of hostels for working Singletons, people sharing flats with like-minded friends especially in Metro Cities like Mumbai provides the Singletons an alternate way of living in their twenties and thirties and that is where they find themselves quite comfortable and decide to carry on .

There used to be a popular saying “Sabse bada Rog, Kya Kahenge Log” (what will people say is the biggest disease). This saying has been rendered meaningless as people especially in metros just don’t care about how the next door person is leading his or her life and there is generally very little interference in one’s personal life.

It is a bit difficult to get a flat on rent for a Singleton as the Flat owners hesitate to rent out their flat to a bachelor (either gender) but feel comfortable if they are in a group of 2-3 working persons irrespective of the gender. It suits Singletons financially also as the individual share of the rent gets proportionally reduced.

Apart from the place to stay, the other issues which come to mind are the foreseeable problems for the Singletons the matters related to their old age when there would be nobody to take care of their health related problems and ways to spend their time more meaningfully and also need for some entertainment.

Well, there already answers available to this already.

Several modern old age homes have sprung up in various cities and towns, Neral, Pune and Lavasa, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Faridabad, Hyderabad, etc. which look more like clubs than old age homes as they have facilities like AC bedrooms with cable TV, common rooms having card rooms, bars, libraries, gardens, Yoga, massage, gym, basic medical facilities, etc.

All one has to do is to pay a lumpsum amount in one go to book these and subsequently a very reasonable monthly amount.

However, everything is not rosy, at present, w.r.t. Senior Citizens Homes. Senior Citizens Homes are good as long as a singleton is healthy, hale and hearty. However, often with modern medical support, a person lives long enough, and suffers age-related disabilities (physical and mental). At present, there are hardly any Senior Citizen Homes with assisted living and nursing facilities. However, as the demand for such senior citizens is on the rise, there is every likelyhood that more medical facilities like nursing and other assisted help would be available to the needy persons in such establishments.

The concept of Live-in relationship (a man and woman staying together without marriage) is the answer which many of the Singletons are found to be comfortable with at some stage or the other of their life, as it provides them multiple comforts like psychological and emotional, biological/ sexual, instant help in case of emergencies/urgent needs. However, mutual trust and confidence is a pre-requisite for the success of this type of living. These relationships, after a few years may change into conventional wedlock if both the partners feel so .

This relatively not so new concept of Live-in relationship( in the western world) is getting more and more popular in India now as it provides both the partners the desired space as well as the ‘intimacy’ whenever convenient to both. Today’s young generation is undeniably more welcoming the idea of getting to know one’s partner in close quarters before taking the big decision on matrimonial leap. The Live-in relationship is already accepted by society and it is not a taboo or a crime provided both the partners fulfill the norms/ requirements for a legal marriage w.r.t age and all other aspects. However, I believe proper laws are still to be in place in this regard in India.

Those of us who haven’t had the chance to live with our romantic partners before marriage have often wondered what the realities of live-in relationships in India are. I mean, American culture surely paints a rosy picture of the concept, but how exactly does it play out, desi style still needs to be seen.

More on Singletons, Live-in Partners, and other options in the context being chosen today, and shape of things likely to come . .. “Changing face of Institution of Marriage” !!!