Saturday, July 31, 2010

Walking canes

It was in the good old days when walking with a stick was considered as fashionable and the in thing.
The body language of the person could be read by just observing the way he held or used the  stick.
Like if the tip was held firmly to the carpet, it means silent disagreement, or if the nob is tapped to  the lips means farewel.

Now if we see some some one with a stick we usually label that person as old and weak and "needs a stick to walk"
Chinese old man at the Temple of Heaven 2
pic by Ocean Jeff on Flickr
But do you know that the walking stick (or cane) is the only self defence weapon that is legal and can be carried anywhere, even on the airplane.

There is a guy named Shuey, (63) who is a grand master in "Cane Fu," the self-defense art he invented. He enjoys demonstrating the lethal uses of a cane and how it can be used against attackers / muggers.

Rolce Royce is not only famous for their cars but they even design their own walking sticks and umbrellas which are well concealed in the car and can be pulled out when required.
  And then those who want to discreetly have their drinks, there was the Tippling Canes, or Tipplers, they have hollowed-out compartments near the top where flasks or vial were fitted to hold the alcohol.
There is even a song written by Irwin Berlin titled My Walking Stick. It goes like this :
Take away my high hats
Take away my favorite tie
Take away my white spats
I'll still get by
But my walking stick
You simply must let that be
I mean you can't take that away from me

Without my walking stick, I'd go insane
Can't look my best, I'd feel undressed without my cane

Must have my walking stick 'cause it may rain
And when it pours, can't be outdoors without my cane

If I ever left my house without my walking stick
It would just be something I could never explain

The thing that makes me click on Lovers' Lane
Would go for naught if I were caught without my cane

And those who want to listen to it, here it is. (notice how he has played the whole thing with just one musical instrument)
And who can wield the walking stick better than Fred Astaire. Its poetry in motion.
(he was 47 when he did this)
Or for that matter the Berry Brothers and their act with the walking stick
You get all sorts of canes at Walking canes

 Do you fancy a Blooming Red then you have it,

or may be just a simple one with Holy Berries ? The combinations are endless.

They even have a guide as to how to buy a walking cane

So next time when you see someone swinging a cane. . . . . . . .watch out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Sunlight is so important to us that we tend to get attracted to it like a sunflower. One of the reasons that we always look for a “well lit house” when hunting for a dwelling.

Imagine the joy of opening this door early in the morning and stepping out into the sun.

The early morning sunlight falling on the small steeple of this church

or on a dilapidated house is always a welcome sight.

If you think the above pictures have been clicked at some country side, you are wrong as this is in the heart of the city. On the busy Mumbai Pune highway at Khadki (formerly Kirkee) you get to see a part of the Military diary farm. All those who have cantonment areas in their cities are lucky to have small blessings like these.
But to get such glimpses one has to step out of the car. It is so unfortunate that in our daily grind we forget to look at such blessings all around us. Next time try traveling on a bicycle and you will discover new things which you miss out when traveling in a four wheeler. And if you are on foot so much the better.
I remember once at my bank, the lady at the counter was busy dispensing her work, when suddenly she looked up and said with a smile “sir last week I saw you at main street on a cycle” and as an after thought added “you were the only one on a cycle” I took it as a compliment and smiled back.

The famous Kirkee war cemetery is not far from this place.

Talking of cantonment area, the Main Street of Pune also comes under the cant, and if you saunter there early in the morning you get to see some eager roller skate enthusiasts.

You can see the eating joint Marz-O-Rin on the right - absolutely deserted.
Now compare the above picture with the one below. Both are scenes from main street. The one below was clicked at noon. And don’t miss the military vehicle which crept into my frame. Actually I was trying to click the hand cart guy who was going in the wrong direction (its a one way street)
Main street has a mixture of the old and the new, bustling with activity.

Coming back to the roller skaters, I spotted them while driving down one morning. I over took them, went much ahead, halted and took out the camera to click. But these kids were so fast that I had to click in hurry by which a part of the car got into the frame.

Well a little work on the Photoshop took care of the unwanted parts.

(all the pictures used in this post has been clicked in and around the Pune cant and Khadki cant.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Taj revisited

Had been to south Mumbai (Bombay) recently.
Took a walk around the Gateway of India and the Taj Hotel early in the morning.
Its been more than two years since the 26/11 attack took place, but it has left its scars and tell tale mark.
The earlier blog on the same subject was in a lighter note with a bit of sarcasm sprinkled in.

Sauntered into the Leopold hotel to have tea. As it was just opening time for them there were hardly any customers. While having my Toast and jam with tea, I realized that my table was right next to the glass pane which had three bullet holes (they have preserved it as it is)

For a minute I was just trying to imagine how the scene must have been once the guns opened up. Noticed the owner Mr Farhang Jehani behind the counter, but I did not speak to him regarding the subject. Not a nice thing to bring back bad memories early in the morning. While coming out of the Hotel, I clicked this which has a good vintage look.
Leopold at Colaba Bombay
(some how I like these old Coke ads, though I don’t like any of these aerated drinks)

The paper man was just lining up the morning papers

Whenever I am in that area, I don’t miss a chance to peek into Mondegar (another hotel in the next lane) Just love to look at those colourful murals by Mario Miranda.

In 1925, the Yezdegardis, an Irani family, bought the home of a French sailor Monsieur Monde. Inspired by its Hindi reference ‘Monde Sahib ka Gar’ (Mr. Monde’s house) the Yezdegardis soon converted it to a cafĂ© called ‘Monde-Gar’. It started off as a typical teahouse that also sold tobacco, foreign liquor, wine, breads and specialties from Iran like saffron, almonds, and pistachios..

In fact the ambience of this hotel is really good, complete with a juke box. About 5 years ago I had posted another picture of Mondegar in my Flickr account which had some 84 comments and 3300 views.
It was good to see that life was getting back to normal in and around the area, with some extra precautions. (had never seen the Gateway of India before with an armoured vehicle parked permanently next to it)

Saw some tourists going about their normal procedure of checking out of the Taj Hotel.

A balloon vendor was trying out his luck with prospective customers.

Many of us have seen the Taj Hotel from the east side but this is a view of the main dome from the west side
Taj main dome
One common sight in front of the Taj hotel is the flock of pigeons that sweep down to feed on the grains provided by the tourists.
But this time the jostling and the fluttering (of the birds) was too much and I discovered the reason. Apart from the normal tourists there was one guy who came in his car and took out a sack of grains from the boot of the car. (yes one huge gunny sack)

He then just scattered the contents of the sack on the footpath. The swoop of the birds was so powerful that I was reminded of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”

And this time there were crows too. One observation I made was that the crows dined separately and the pigeons had their own group. No mixing up. It was also funny to see some of the crows perched on this guy’s car (with the dicky open)
Talk of trying to take the loot directly from the granary!!
Crows on Car
© Photographer: Joezachs | Agency:

I have put up this picture for sale on Dreamstime. Wonder if any one will like it.
(click on the image to see large)

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Barber

There was a time when you went to the barber shop to cut your hair.
And if it was the rustic shop in the village, you got to hear some real good juicy gossip from the barber. I always wondered if the barber believed all that he heard from his customers. After all he could not afford to disagree as they were his bread and butter. And there used to be a radio playing some old tune in the background. Now the Radio has been replaced by the TV. So when the barber is cutting your hair, you have to keep an eye on the barber as his one eye keeps straying on to the TV. After all he does not want to miss his favorite serial.

Today’s barbers are more interested in giving you a “face steam” and colouring your hair with that new colour that has come in the market. “How about that Amir Khan cut sir?” I heard a customer reply “No no I don’t want to look like a goonda with those rippling muscles” The barber replied “No Sir, not the Gajini cut I was talking about the Taare zameen par.

I wonder how this hair cutting thing started. Did the stone age man think about doing away with all the facial hair and then shortening the hair on the head? And while doing that why did they decide that the woman should still continue with long hair? May be they did not want to give up the idea of “dragging the lady by the hair to the cave

Talking of barber shops how can one forget the famous barber shop of Charlie Chaplin in the movie The Great Dictator.

All those who have not seen the movie should have a look at this clipping
I remember the days when the barber used to come home (with his aluminum box) and all the male members in the house used to get the monthly hair cut. There are some who still oblige to come home but at a higher fee.

After all it cuts down your time in going into a barber shop and doing the waiting jig.
Came across this drawing of a barber shop - how it was long long ago. Its worth looking into each and every detail in this drawing.

You go down south to some of the temples and you get to see them sitting in a line ready to tonsure your hair.

And those barbers who cannot afford to have a barber shop, uses the footpath with no overhead expenses. Works out cheaper for the customer too. (clicked this in the by lanes of Colaba Mumbai)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Order by a click

Every time I donated blood I was asked to pump a ball while they drained me. Not that I did not like pumping that yellow ball with a smiley face, but I was always tempted to carry that ball home. Lately I bought one of those balls and its really effective, what they call as the stress ball.

And now a days you get them in different sizes and shapes.
Just imagine if Louis Armstrong had one of these Trumpet stress balls, he would have been pumping away to glory while practicing in his baritone voice.

We associate Louis with the trumpet, but he was a good singer too.

He also worked for a Lithuanian-Jewish Immigrant family, the Karnofskys, who had a junk hauling business and gave him odd jobs. They took him in and treated him as almost a family member, knowing he lived without a father, and would feed and nurture him. Later he wrote a memoir of his relationship with the Karnofskys titled, Louis Armstrong + the Jewish Family. In it he describes his discovery that this family was also subject to discrimination by "other white folks' nationalities who felt that they were better than the Jewish race. "I was only seven years old but I could easily see the ungodly treatment that the White Folks were handing the poor Jewish family whom I worked for." Armstrong wore a Star of David pendant for the rest of his life and wrote about what he learned from them: "how to live—real life and determination
Coming back to the stress balls, now a days you get so many promotional products - just by the click of a mouse. Gone are the days where you had to trudge to the market place to select an item.

Is it going to rain today? Well how about a Nike umbrella ? or maybe some one prefers the single canopy umbrella.

Just a click and place the order and its delivered at your doorstep in a jiffy. You don’t like it, just return it.

Eco friendly things are the order of the day, and I am glad to see some new items in the market which are eco friendly. We all use the pen drive, so how about one made with a bamboo cover instead of the normal plastic cover?

Talking of umbrellas, I remember reading somewhere long back that there are about 114 ways to hold an umbrella. (yes never forgot that figure) Like holding by the handle and using it like a walking stick, or holding at the tail end, or hanging it behind on your collar bone, or maybe just simply under the arm, the possibilities are endless - could be more than 114 !!

Umbrellas were a good prop when it came to musicals and who can forget Gene Kelly with the open umbrella in the movie Singing in the rain or Fred Astaire in Funny Face

I just loved those special scenes where Fred kept shooting Audrey Hepburn.
The things that Fred can do with his cane tapping is just out of this world. Those who love tap dancing should watch this five minute clip. Do see the complete clipping especially the last one minute. Fred is great when it comes to timing.
(I wonder if any one can guess how many men were really there in that last one minute of dance)