An insightful interview on drug treatment and rehabilitation

Finally found the complete interview of Dr. Denzil Pinto on Daijiworld TV, Mangalore’s local channel. As a consultant Psychiatrist, Dad spoke on the drug menace and treatment for such conditions. Mangalore has been facing what can be best described as a drug epidemic over the last few years with a lot of cases emerging and the count only increasing. So it was only natural that TV channels in the region took up this issue in this insightful interview in Konkani.

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The Young Pope gets the credit

I look forward to the opening credits of certain TV series as they come out with some wacky, strange, hypnotic illusions that really set the tone for what’s going to come. Watching Jude Law in “The Young Pope” has been a revelation. He’s the cold, calm pope with a vice like grip on the Vatican. This cunning, cheeky nature is revealed in the opening sequence of Episode 3 to the tune of Devlin and Ed Sheeran‘s ‘Watchtower’. Love the ‘fuck you’ wink to the audience at the end.

Long Chinese tales

For a long long time China meant Bruce Lee and the Great Wall. My first glimpse of China was through a Ladybird book on Marco Polo. A large part of this illustrated book contained images of the Mongol invaders and the Great Wall. As I grew, I got to learn more from Bruce Lee and later on Jackie Chan. With such stereotypes, I set out with my family on a trip to China in 2015.

My parents and I share an aversion to group tours except when it involves family. In this regard, I do prefer the backpack approach in a group not larger than four, but Mum decided to make things interesting and added her sisters to our China trip. And it turned out to be real fun. So you had Aunt Gemma and Uncle Vivian and Aunt Jovita coming down from the States and the four of us on a 10-day trip.

Via Hong Kong, we reached Chongqing (famous for the Chonqing Express) and got onto the Yangtze River Cruise. The cruise was amazing and we were on board for three nights going through the largest river in the world. So large, that even small ships made their way through its waters. With stops on the way at historical monuments and finally the entry through the Three Gorges Dam gave us an insight into this marvellous engineering feat.

Xi’an and Beijing were equally brilliant and I must say the guides assigned to our group were really fun. They were English students who were moonlighting as guides for foreign tourists. Aunt Jovita took a real shine to our guide Lucy who helped her get a Hello Kitty case for her iPhone. We were really fortunate to have guides who were patient and really warm to us. Having reached Xi’an, a few weeks after PM Narendra Modi, we were privy to the terracotta warrior selection backdrop against which he had posed for shutterbugs. There’s one thing about China, it’s history is meticulously chronicled and maintained. Their monuments are preserved carefully and restored wherever possible.

Beijing meant the Great Wall – that magnificent edifice against the Mongol invaders or dragons? The journey through the cable car gives you a wonderful view of the mountains around Beijing. And then you have the Wall, an exhausting and steep climb to the scenic spots, but definitely worth the effort.

All in all it was a memorable trip and a real fun episode with the gang. From bargaining with vendors, to negotiating the menu in restaurants, this was a real Swiss family Robinson adventure with a few more pleasures and comforts thrown in.

 

The wind phone

While recuperating from a bout of god knows what, I came across this tit-bit on BBC World of the ‘wind phone’ – a telephone box on the outskirts of Dublin. This is unlike any other telephone box. It does have a round dial-up phone inside but it doesn’t work. The phone box set up on a scenic mountain top, serves as a private space for anyone to deliberate on life and loss and whatever is spoken within that box is carried by the wind. A beautiful concept, it is something I could do with right now.

dublin-wind-phone

Playing on loop

When I drive I need music. More so when I drive alone, whether to work or to the estate over the weekends. The latter specially deserves some real good music to set the tempo and mood as you drive through the winding roads of Chikmagalur to reach home. I have just started playing a more active role in the estate management andIMG_20170603_113040 in a way at times I seriously think of making it a full time profession. It has its set of challenges in a different way from the corporate life, but I have grown to love a good challenge.

Now back to the music. The following songs have been playing on loop for now in my Ertiga and doing a pretty good job of keeping the mood high. Here’s my top 10 list:

  1. The Cars – Magic
  2. The Police – Every Breath You Take
  3. Major Lazer & DJ Maphorisa – Particula
  4. Motley Crue – Kickstart My Heart
  5. Alice Cooper – Poison
  6. The 1975 – Change of Heart
  7. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You
  8. DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber – I’m the One
  9. Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Big Sean – Feels
  10. Calvin Harris – Rollin

‘Rollin’ is a favourite from this set. I change my music in the car every 20 days or so. But for now, this really is the best that the highway can handle.

It can be sunny this season too

A week can make a lot of difference during the rainy season. For some reason last week decided it was in love with me. A push up at work with some encouraging upgrades, and some amazing miscellaneous happenings really made it a week to remember.

The Schneider Electric Software India Training Champion Awards were announced and out of the blue my name came up for the “Training Champion” Award. Now, this is no run of the mill award in the company’s scheme of things and while I was wondering where this came from, HR comes up and informs me that the “Promotions through infographics” session I conducted a while back got the best feedback results and combined with the fact of being one of the training community leaders for marketing, I was giving this award.

And that was not all. Our Software Development Center in Bangalore organised the Chess Championships and guess who win’s six matches in a row and the cup! While three of these matches really stressed me out, the rest were a breeze (yes, I am in a boastful mood). I always go in with the Sicilian Defence, something my Dad taught me as a kid. The first person I called on winning this championship was my Dad. I told him how I used the Sicilian Defence in every match and I could sense through his voice the pride he felt in me winning. There can be no greater appreciation in this world than that from a parent or loved one. Thank you Dad.

The good run refused to stop here. A weekend corporate football tournament saw us reach the semi’s and though we were knocked out via tie-breaker to the eventual champions, I had my moment in the sun in the quarter finals as I blocked all the three penalties in the shootout. However, I now have a terrible shoulder and I hope the pain subsides soon. I can’t stand going to the hospital again.

So there it is, my week of happy madness. Tomorrow is a new day and I can’t wait to see what the coming days and month’s bring up.

The Legend of ‘Chappal Day’

For the safety and security of all except me, I have changed the names wherever necessary. Any resemblance to known people could be intentional.

I used to hate the word ‘chappal’ but this has changed with reminiscences of the day where we boys became men through this ubiquitous piece of footwear. The all boys Jesuit run school we were in had a super strict dress code. Besides the obligatory navy blue shorts and white button down shirt there was a further strict rider – no chappals, only shoes and socks. And being a high school student meant our class was expected to set an example to all those we hazed when the teachers looked away. Considering all this we still managed to look like a mauled bunch in some African safari by the time the day ended.chappal

Now our teachers had some quirks. There was one who coudnt stand boys who sweat in class. You were immediately puled up and made to sit down on the ground before the blackboard if this ever happened. And god-forbid you had an afternoon class in the Mangalorean heat. You had to make sure not a drop of sweat came down your brow.
Now as we were completing our 10th standard (we had just finished our mock final exams for which I definitely did not study) we had a few classes left before hitting the SSLC final exams. We were made to know that this was a do-or-die exam that would define our future. Who knew from then on we would be told that every exam was a life defining point. Now as our classes concluded, we decided to do something that would make us stand out and remember our days in high school. Oh boy! How memorable we made it that we even talk about it today on the WhatsApp class group.

Was it a good old school hall send-off with speeches and all – No. Was it a felicitation of performers followed by distribution of sweets and Thums Up – Nope. Was it prayer followed by song and dance for our teachers and juniors – No No No. A good classical send-off it was not. We ended up with Chappal Day.

I still have no clue as to who started this thing, though my suspicions surround our last benches as the originators. Every trip to the principals office was facilitated by the last bench (I was an integral part of this througout, though I managed to escape trips to the office at the expense of others).

Our class teacher was Achal Sir, a genial Kannada teacher who went on the rampage if anyone disturbed his class. “Hey pattinga” and the duster flew towards you if you ever whispered sweet nothings to the Debonair magazine centerfold on your lap as Pampa and Ranna were explained from the dog eared textbook on your desk. This combined with the fact that Achal Sir was a career NCC man made the subsequent whackings something to remember. But he was an extremely sporty guy who knew that high school boys need to let off steam from time to time. Now, I dont know why chappals were selected as a send off motif. Maybe it was the antithesis to the strict dress regimen we had, or the need to needle some of our teachers who let a holier than thou approach pin us all year long. Well, whatever it was we just decided that we would come one Monday (which also happened to be the last day of class before the revision holidays) dressed in our best whites and well pressed navy blue shorts, but with chappals. Further, we also got a buy in from Achal Sir to go ahead with this. In not so many words he said OK. Basically as he was finishing class on Friday, we slipped in the fact that Monday would be Chappal day. He ‘Hmm’ed and that was good enough for us.

Monday came up and we trooped in to the morning Assembly in our finest chappals. Bata, Paragon, Action, Premier, and every Market Road brand were on show as we went through the Assembly without a hitch. Some teachers were looking at us weirdly, knowing something was amiss. The first class of the day was Mathematics. Now, we had Michael Sir or Mickey as we all called him – a nervous, twitchy sort who came in with a martyred look like St. Stephen about to be stoned. His wailing explanation of Acute, Obtuse and all sorts of angles that you might as well learn from the Kamasutra, made it the most boring lecture of the day.

As soon as Michael Sir entered he saw the words “Happy Chappal Day” chalked on the blackboard with some cheap flowery motifs around it in purple and green – the only other chalk colours that were available. This was the work of Edmund (last but one bench, even then the usual suspect). Mickey looked up and we saw his face going red as hell. Oh Oh, someone’s gonna get hurt real bad. He stood quietly on the platform for sometime, possibly trying to get his BP down. For once we were thankful that his goody-two-shoes boys in the second bench were in his face to soften his anger. These choir boys were tall guys who couldnt make it to the first bench but were good enough for a second row.

And so the class began, with an obviously still simmering Mickey explaining for one last time the intricacies of algebraic equations and summarizing chapter after chapter. During the class a bit of chappal football took place. With the boys removing their chappals and trying various positions with their shoe-free feet for the first time, others took advantage and began playing footsy with the slippers. And that’s how Praful’s chappals ended up under the lecture platform, having started its journey from the last bench. All this while Michael Sir knew something was afoot. He droned on while suspiciously looking around – like a meer cat checking out the landscape.

And so the class ended as the old electric bell rang. Michael Sir collected his books and register and began his walk down the platform. He hadn’t even wished us the best of luck for our exams. It was at exactly this point that Edmund decided he needed to add to his artwork on the board. He sat on the last but one bench, right in front of us, and gave a rapid clap under the desk. Now a clap spreads like a Mexican wave and in this case the whole class took this as a cue to give one thunderous clapping farewell to Mickey. I am sure the whole school heard us and thought it was an appreciative send-off to a teacher from one of the 10th standard classes. If only they knew. Mickey turned around immediately snarling, “who was that idiot who clapped. I want that fellow to come to the staff room within the next 10 minutes.” As if we would give up one of our own! But then we have our holier than thou souls.

And so it happened, after Mickey walked out, we had Achal Sir come in for the Kannada class. And surprise, surpise, our class teacher had on a pair of black slippers. He had given up his shiny shoes to ensure that he joined us for our last class givng in to our quirky request. The class began with all of us forgetting about Mickey and his scowling brow, to an excited chatter. “Shssssh” was the first thing that Achal Sir said and the class fell silent. One thing Sir would not tolerate was insubordination. Just because he acquiesced to our request didn’t mean he was going to let us off the hook. The class respectfully fell silent and the final Kannada lesson began.

Fifteen minutes into the lesson our class had a visitor. No, it was not a crow roaming the verandah searching for scraps of cookies that someone threw out of the classroom when the teacher spotted them. It was our principal Fr. Savio. He walked in with a genial look on his face like he had come to wish and bless us all for the final exams. Boy, were we wrong! The first thing that caught Fr. Savio’s eye were the slippers worn by Achal Sir. This was an obvious anomaly considering that fact that no one had ever seen Sir without shoes. The principal then moved his eyes to us scanning every John Johnny Janardhan and it was obvious he got the drift of what was happening. “All those who have worn shoes please come out”. A couple of guys who missed the boat when the message had gone out about Chappal day and a few other Judas’s made their way to the podium. We counted four. And then we heard a shuffling from one of the last benches. Peter (or Pedro as we all called him) was half standing and slipping on some shoes. He had worn shoes to class and had changed into slippers later. He was now trying out the goody two shoes act and make it up front.

Post this hungama we escaped the wrath of the principal. Call it providence or the SSLC exams round the corner, it died an immediate death. Maybe our class teacher had something to do with that, I don’t know. However this event is still talked about in our WhatsApp groups and was brought up during one of the conversations. I need to chronicle this event cause it really signified what our class was all about. A rowdy bunch with the coal and steam to make it in life. We continue in that vein, though operating under the radar.