Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Soldier's Story by ON Bradley - My favorite Military Autobiography


(A Soldier’s Story by Omar N. Bradley)

I love reading autobiographies, as there is nothing more inspiring and authentic than learning about the life, times, thoughts and views of a great person in his own words.

It’s a lazy hot Sunday afternoon. I browse through my bookshelves and pick out A Soldier’s Story by General Omar Nelson Bradley, one of my favorite autobiographies, and certainly my all time favorite military autobiography. Come Dear Reader, sit with me for a while, and let’s leaf through and peruse this fascinating book.

General Bradley (1893-1981) known for his calm and resolute leadership and affectionately called the “Soldier’s General” commanded the largest American combat force in history and rose to be the first Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This is a story, not of my life, but of a campaign…I have sought... to tell a story of how generals live and work at their chosen profession the author says at the beginning of his memoirs which focus on his participation in World War II.

Candidly written with remarkable humility in beautiful expressive language it is a wonderful memoir embellished with interesting episodes and lucid characterizations of many renowned military personalities.

In this book I have tried to achieve one purpose: To explain how war is waged on the field from the field command post… To tell a story of how and why we chose to do what we did, no one can ignore the personalities and characteristics of those individuals engaged in making decisions…..Where there are people, there is pride and ambition, prejudice and conflict. In generals, as in all other men, capabilities cannot always obscure weaknesses, nor can talents hide faults…General Bradley writes in his preface which concludes…I could not conscientiously expurgate this book to make it more palatable…if this story is to be told, it must be told honestly and candidly…

The author writes in a wonderfully readable storytelling style and starts his riveting narrative on September 2, 1943, driving to Messina along the north coast of Sicily when, suddenly, General Eisenhower summoned him to tell him that he had been selected to command the American Army in the biggest invasion of the war – the liberation of Europe from the Germans. He then goes back in time and starts his story with vignettes from his early formative days of soldiering. He describes how, from General Marshall, he learnt the rudiments of effective command which he himself applied throughout the war: “When an officer performed as I expected him to, I gave him a free hand. When he hesitated, I tried to help him. And when he failed, I relieved him” - isn’t this leadership lesson valid even on today’s IT driven world where delegation seems to be taking a back- seat and excessive monitoring, interference and intervention seem to be on the rise.

Rather than encourage yes-men, ego-massage, sycophancy and groupthink, General Marshal sought contrary opinions: “When you carry a paper in here, I want you to give me every reason you can think of why I should not approve it. If, in spite of your objections, my decision is to still go ahead, then I’ll know I’m right”.

When it was suggested to General Marshall that a corps commander who had an arthritic disability in the knee be sent home rather than be given command of a corps in the field in war, he opined: “I would rather have a man with arthritis in the knee than one with arthritis in the head. Keep him there”.

“For the first time in 32 years as a soldier, I was off to a war” he writes on his assignment overseas in February 1943 to act as Eisenhower’s “eyes and ears” among American troops on the Tunisian front in North Africa.

He vividly describes the chaos after the American defeat at Kasserine, the arrival of Patton on the scene who growled “I’m not going to have any goddam spies running around in my headquarters” and appointed Bradley as his deputy, a defining moment which was the first step of Bradley’s illustrious combat career.

This is easily the best book on Patton’s stellar role in World War II, complementing General Patton’s Memoirs War As I Knew It and Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago. Though his admiration for Patton is evident, General Bradley writes about his long association with Patton with fairness and honesty and reveals unique and remarkable facets of Patton’s leadership style and character.

Sample this – Precisely at 7 Patton boomed in to breakfast. His vigor was always infectious, his wit barbed, his conversation a mixture of obscenity and good humor. He was at once stimulating and overbearing. George was a magnificent soldier. (Can there be a better description?)

Bradley vividly describes how Patton transformed the slovenly and demoralized II Corps into a fighting fit formation. “The news of Patton’s coming fell like a bombshell on Djebel Kouif. With sirens shrieking Patton’s arrival, a procession of armored scout cars and half-tracks wheeled into the dingy square opposite the schoolhouse headquarters of II Corps…In the lead car Patton stood like a charioteer…scowling into the wind and his jaw strained against the web strap of a two-starred steel helmet.”

General Bradley writes superbly, as he describes how Patton stamped his personality upon his men and by his outstanding charismatic leadership rejuvenated the jaded, slovenly, worn-out, defeated and demoralized II Corps and transformed it into a vibrant, disciplined, fighting fit organization that never looked back and went on winning victory after victory in most difficult circumstances and against all odds.

There are bits of delightful humor in this book. Commenting on the ingenuity and improvisation abilities of Patton’s staff, the author writes: “…Indeed had Patton been named an Admiral in the Turkish Navy, his aides could probably dipped into their haversacks and come up with the appropriate badges of rank…” Though, at times, the author appears to be in awe of and enamored by Patton’s larger than life charisma, he is candid, dispassionate and, at times, critical when he describes how he was bewildered by the contradictions in Patton’s character and concludes: “At times I felt that Patton, however successful he was as a corps commander, had not yet learned how to command himself.”

Their techniques of command varied with their contrasting personalities. While the soft-spoken unassuming Bradley preferred to lead by suggestion and example, the flamboyant Patton chose to drive his subordinates by bombast and threats, employing imperious mannerisms and profane expletives with startling originality; and both achieved spectacular results.

Many of us are at a loss for words when asked to qualitatively appraise our subordinates. See how easily General Bradley lucidly evaluates his division commanders, bringing out their salient qualities, in so few words with elegant simplicity and succinctness: “…To command a corps of four divisions, toughness alone is not enough. The corps commander must know his division commanders, he must thoroughly understand their problems, respect their judgment, and be tolerant of their limitations…among the division commanders in Tunisia, none excelled the unpredictable Terry Allen in the leadership of troops…but in looking out for his own division, Allen tended to belittle the role of others… Ryder had confirmed his reputation as that of a skilled tactician…his weakness, however, lay in the contentment with which he tolerated mediocrity…the profane and hot-tempered Harmon brought to the corps the rare combination of sound tactical judgment and boldness… none was better balanced nor more cooperative than Manton Eddy…though not timid, neither was he bold; Manton liked to count his steps carefully before he took them.” Aren’t the author’s understanding, observation and articulation remarkable?

Throughout the book, we find honest, frank and incisive appraisals of characters in this story – superiors, peers and subordinates – most of them renowned and famous personalities. He writes with candor about the problems of command during the planning of the invasion of Europe.

From then on the story gathers speed and moves so captivatingly that one is spellbound as one reads the author fluently narrate the events of the campaign with remarkable preciseness and detail, one realizes what an engaging and compelling book this is – it’s simply unputdownable!

All important events, turning points, and personalities are vividly described with the aid of maps, charts, pictures and appendices; from D Day (the Normandy Invasion) to the surrender of the German forces. Towards the end of his memoirs General Bradley reflects “Only five years before…as a lieutenant colonel in civilian clothes, I had ridden a bus down Connecticut Avenue to my desk in old Munitions Building… I opened the mapboard and smoothed out the tabs of the 43 US divisions now under my command…stretched across a 640-mile front of the 12th Army Group...I wrote in the new date: D plus 335…outside the sun was climbing in the sky. The war in Europe had ended.”

While this autobiography is a “must read” for military men and students of military history, I am sure it will benefit management students and professionals for it is an incisive treatise on Soft Skills encompassing aspects of Leadership, Communications, and most importantly, the Art of Human Relations Management in the extremely complex and highly stressful scenario of War where achievement of success (victory) is inescapably paramount. It is a primer, a treasury of distilled wisdom, on all aspects of management, especially human resource management. One can learn many motivational and management lessons from this book.

There is nothing to surpass the experience of learning history first hand from a man who lived and created it rather than a historian who merely records it. The Art of Leadership is better learnt from studying Leaders, their lives, their writings, rather than reading management textbooks pontificating on the subject and giving how-to-do laundry lists.

The Art and Science of Management owe its genesis and evolution to the military. Modern Management theories, concepts, techniques and practices emerged from the experiences and lessons learnt during World War II [particularly in The United States of America].

It’s ironic isn’t it? It was the military that gave modern management principles to the civilian corporate world, and today we see military men running to civilian management institutes to “learn’ management and get the coveted MBA which the sine qua non and all important passport for entry into the corporate world.

I love reading stories, all kinds of stories, fiction, fantasy, parables, fables, slice of life. I like Life Stories, biographies, particularly autobiographies, as there is nothing more credible, convincing and stimulating than learning about the life, times and thoughts of a great person from his own writings. It’s called verisimilitude, I think.

A Soldier’s Story is a magnificent book. A masterpiece, a classic! It’s enjoyable, engrossing and illuminating. Read it.


Monday, September 25, 2006

An interesting book - stories and psychotherapy

(A fascinating book on my bookshelves – Oriental Stories as tools in Psychotherapy)

An Eastern merchant owned a parrot. One day the bird knocked over an oil flask. The merchant became very angry and hit the parrot on the back of the head.
From that time on, the parrot, who had previously appeared to be very intelligent, could not talk any more. He lost the feathers on his head and soon became bald.
One day, as the parrot was sitting on the bookshelf in his master’s place of business, a baldheaded customer entered the shop.
The sight of the man made the parrot very excited. Flapping his wings, he jumped around, squawked, and, to everyone’s surprise, suddenly regained his speech and asked the baldheaded man, “Did you, too, knock down an oil flask and get hit on the back of the head so that you don’t have any hair any more?”

This is a story called The Merchant and the Parrot from a delightfully interesting book in my bookcase called “Oriental Stories as Tools in Psychotherapy” by Nossrat Peseschkian. I bought this book on 12 October 1998 from the International Book Service at Deccan Gymkhana in Pune and love to delve into it from time to time.

The book features a fascinating compilation meaningful oriental Teaching Stories – the psychotherapeutic function of stories is the theme of this book. The author, a physician and psychotherapist, emphasizes the fact that long before the development of modern psychotherapy, stories served as instruments of folk psychotherapy and highlights how stories are effective transmitters of messages. He avers that stories have a lot in common with medication and, like medicines, used at the right time in the right form stories can lead to changes in attitude and behavior, but, given in the wrong dosage, told in an insincere and moralizing way, the application can be dangerous.

You can study, scrutinize and critically analyze this book if you are a serious reader and want to go deep into the subject; or like me, you can enjoy and be illuminated by the lovely teaching stories in the book. Teaching stories have a special quality – if read in a certain kind of way they enlighten you. There are three ways to read teaching stories:-

• Read the story once. Then move on to another. This manner of reading will give you entertainment – maybe produce a laugh; like jokes.
• Read the story twice. Reflect on it. Apply it to your life. You will feel enriched.
• Read the story again, after you have reflected on it. Carry the story around in your mind all day and allow its fragrance, its melody to haunt you. Create a silence within you and let the story reveal to you its inner depth and meaning. Let it speak to your heart, not to your brain. This will give you a feel for the mystical and you will develop the art of tasting and feeling the inner meaning of such stories to the point that they transform you.

A good teaching story has several levels of meaning and interpretation and offers us opportunities to think in new ways. At first you may just have a good laugh, but as you think and reflect, the significance becomes more and more profound. Each story veils its knowledge and as you ruminate, the walls of its outer meanings crumble away and the beauty of the previously invisible inner wisdom is revealed, and you begin to identify yourself in the story, and to acknowledge that you too could be as foolish or as lacking in discernment as the characters in these classic tales.

Here is a story called “Fifty Years of Politeness”:

An elderly couple celebrated their golden anniversary…while eating breakfast together, the woman thought, “for fifty years I’ve always been considerate of my husband and have always given him the crusty top of the bread roll. Today I want to finally enjoy this delicacy for myself.”
She spread the top part with butter and gave the other part to her husband.
Contrary to her expectations, he was very pleased, kissed her hand, and said, “My darling, you’ve just given me the greatest joy of the day. For over fifty years I haven’t eaten the bottom part of the bread roll, which is the part I like best. I always thought you should have it because you like it so much.”

I love and cherish this book which has enhanced me in all aspects of my life and browse through the stories quite often; and as I reflect and interpret I feel refreshed, enlightened and wiser. Whether it’s your work, marriage, relationships, children, or any situation or facet of your life, there’s sure to be an apt story in here for you which will put you on the path of self-dicovery.

I’ll conclude with a quote from this exquisite and unique book: Occasionally we can’t avoid science, math and erudite discussions which aid development of human consciousness. But occasionally we also need poetry, chess, and stories, so our spirit can find joy and refreshment.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Lamington at Spicer

( a melt in the mouth treat )

In the evening I often go for a walk on Aundh Road from Bremen Chowk towards the railway line at Khadki. It’s one of the best places to walk in Pune, wide roads with plenty of greenery and foliage on both sides. And on my way back I treat myself to a Lamington at the Spicer College Bakery Shop. I delicately place the soft delicacy between my lips, press and squeeze a piece of the wonderful stuff on my tongue. I close my eyes in order to enhance the experience of supreme bliss as the Lamington melts in my mouth and the chocolatty-coconutty luscious syrupy sweetness permeates into me.

A Lamington is a delicious cube of sponge cake, dipped in melted chocolate and sugar and coated in desiccated coconut. They originated in Australia around 1898 in what later became the state of Queensland. Whilst the origin of the name for the Lamington cannot be accurately established, there are several theories.

Lamingtons are most likely named after Charles Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. However, the precise reasoning behind this is not known, and stories vary. According to one account, the dessert resembled the homburg hats favoured by Lord Lamington. Another tells of a banquet in Cloncurry during which the governor accidentally dropped a block of sponge cake into a dish of gravy, and then threw it over his shoulder, causing it to land in a bowl of desiccated coconut or peanut butter. A diner thought of replacing the gravy with chocolate and thus created the lamington as we know it today. Ironically, Lord Lamington was known to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, once referring to them as "those bloody poofy woolly biscuits". Another theory is that they were named after Lady Lamington, the wife of the Governor.

The Spicer College Bakery Lamington is my favourite – and can you imagine it costs just Eight Rupees [that’s six Lamingtons for a Dollar, for those who think in Dollars!]. The chocolate icing keeps the cake moist. The desiccated coconut protects it from drying out in the hot climate. And it’s quite a juicy generous lip-smacking treat!

The Spicer College Bakery serves a variety of healthy goodies like carrot cake, nut cake, doughnuts, samosas, soy patties, soya milk; but, for me, it’s always the yummy succulent Lamington!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mouthwatering Memories by Vikram Karve

[ Idiappam and Chilli Chicken at Ceylon Bake House ]

The last time I visited Ceylon Bake House off MG Road near Jos Junction in Ernakulam [ Kochi, then Cochin ] was almost a decade ago in 1987, but the nostalgic lip smacking gastronomic experience of Idiappam and Chili Chicken still delightfully lingers within me, and instantly makes my mouth water, so I hark back, reflect, reminisce and I write this from my memory. The place may have undergone a transformation now, maybe even metamorphosed into a highfalutin snobbish restaurant (I hope not!) but I recall Ceylon Bake House as a down-to-earth Value-For-Money eatery for authentic Kerala cuisine in Kochi. I wonder why it was called a “Bake House”!

It was an unpretentious place, but so popular that it was always bustling and crowded even past midnight. My favourite food here is the Idiappam and Chilli Chicken – I love eating the noodle-like rice-based soft and steaming Idiappams along with the zesty reddish Chilli Chicken, as the contrasting tastes sizzle, mingle, blend and marry on my tongue. I felt revitalized and recharged after every bite of the delicious combination.

I also liked the Fish Curry, Veg and Non-Veg Stews, Biryanis, Roasts, Kormas; Veg, Egg and Non-Veg Curries, and, not to forget, the heavenly yummy Malabar Parottas served at Ceylon Bake House.

If you are in Kochi, have a meal at Ceylon Bake House, and do let me know whether it is still the same old down-to-earth value for money authentic Kerala cuisine eatery it once was, or has it changed! And can someone please tell me where to find good Kerala cuisine in Pune.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Sense of Values


Values are core beliefs which guide and motivate attitudes and behavior. When you value something you want it (or want it to happen). Values are relatively permanent desires. Values are answers to the “why” question. You keep on asking “why” questions until you reach a point where you no longer want something for the sake of something else. At this point you have arrived at a value.

Let’s take an example – I was once teaching a Post Graduate Professional course at a centre of excellence and I asked a student, “Why are you doing this course?”

“To gain qualifications,” he answered.

“Why do you want to gain qualifications?”

“To succeed in my career.”

“Why do you want to succeed in your career?”

“To reach the top.”

“Why do you want to reach the top?”

“To get power.”

“Why do want do you want power?”

“To control people,” he answered.

“Why do you want to control people?”

“I want to control people.”


“I like to control people.”


“Just for the sake of it – I like controlling people,” he said and further why’s elicited similar responses related to control. [Control for the sake of control!]

I realized that control was one of his values and maybe he was a future megalomaniac in the making!

The same line of questioning of persons undergoing higher education may reveal values like knowledge, money, status, standard of living, ambition, achievement, growth, reputation, excellence, fame.

Values are our subjective reactions to the world around us. They guide and mold our options and behavior. Values are developed early in life and are very resistant to change. Values develop out of our direct experiences with people who are important to us, particularly our parents. Values rise not out of what people tell us, but as a result how they behave toward us and others. Remember, there can’t be any “partial” values; for example: you cannot be 50% honest (half-honest) – either you are honest or you are not.

Are you doing you MBA? Keep asking yourself why you are doing it, and you will ultimately arrive at your value.

“Why are you doing your MBA?”
“To learn management.”
“Why do you want to learn management?”
“To get a good job in a top firm as a manager.”
“To make more money.”
“To have a high standard of living.”

The guy I was talking to re-iterated here since standard of living was his value but you can go on and on till you find your value. In one case I was surprised to find conformance as a prime value in a student of MBA – she was doing MBA because everyone else was doing it!

With the rise and predominance of the utility value of education, the most important criterion for ranking B-Schools is the pay-packet their students get and not other factors like the quality of faculty and infrastructure, academic achievements and ambience etc. That’s why there is a rush towards IT and Computer Science as compared to other more interesting and challenging branches of Engineering and Technology – money seems to be the cardinal value amongst students these days! Some do prefer the civil services even after completing their Engineering from premier institutions as, for them, things like status, service, power may be important values.

Is a high salary important to you?
Is it important for your work to involve interacting with people?
Is it important for your work to make a contribution to society?
Is having a prestigious job important for you?

It is most important for you to find out your own values (by the “why” method) to avoid value mismatch. Value mismatch is at the root cause of dilemmas in your life. A conflict between your personal and organizational values may result in ethical dilemmas, while value mismatch between two persons may sow discord and cause stress and turbulence in a relationship.

Your values are possibly the most important thing to consider when you're choosing an occupation. If you don't take your values into account when planning your career, there's a good chance you'll dislike your work and therefore not succeed in it. For example, someone who needs to have autonomy in his work would not be happy in a job where every action is decided by someone else.

It is important to distinguish between values, interests, personality, and skills:
Values: the things that are important to you, like achievement, status, and autonomy
Interests: what you enjoy doing, like reading, taking long walks, eating good food, hanging out with friends
Personality: a person's individual traits, motivational drives, needs, and attitudes
Skills: the activities you are good at, such as writing, computer programming, teaching
Of these, interests, skills and personality can be developed, but values are intrinsic core beliefs inherent within you which you must endeavor to discover by yourself.
Whether it is your work or relationships, value congruence is of paramount importance – your values must be in harmony for the relationship to tick. Value Dissonance due to mismatch between individual values and organizational values can cause great strain and trauma at the workplace.

Even within yourself, in order to avoid inner conflict there must be no confusion about your true values. Remember the saying of Mahatma Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Dear Reader, sit down in a quiet place all by yourself, introspect, ask yourself the “why” question and find out your own values. First know yourself. Then know others – try to ascertain their values (personal values and organizational values too!). Avoid value-mismatch and value-dissonance to the extent feasible. The mutual harmony in your values should determine your choice of work, activities, relationships, friends and partner.

Is freedom an important value for you? Will the job you are considering (or the person you want to marry) give you enough freedom?

Do you value leisure? Oh, yes! Leisure is not only an important value but also a determinant of character – If you want to know about a man find out how he spends his leisure! It’s true in your case too – If you had a day off what will you do? Read a book, write a story, go hiking outdoors, play your favorite sport, adventure sports, chat with friends, picnic, see a movie, eat your favorite cuisine in a restaurant, or cook it yourself, socialize in your club, spend the day at home with your family, or see TV at home, or just spend the day in glorious solitude enjoying quality time with yourself ? Or would you rather not “waste” your leisure time and spend the day doing something “useful” connected with your work, career or advancement towards “achieving” your “goals”? How you spend your leisure reveals your values too!

Do you value humor, fun, pleasure, food, enjoyment, sex, family life, quality of life, status, money, success, fame, power, prestige, security, nature, loyalty, love, affection, independence, privacy, togetherness, tranquility, adventure, leadership, followership, competition, contentment, creativity – find out for yourself, and in others who you want to relate with – match and harmonize your values, and be happy and fulfilled in your work and your relationships.

Remember, at any important milestone in your life, when you have to make a vital decision, whether you are on the verge of selecting a job or a marriage partner – trust your sense of values!

In conclusion here is a quote from the German Philosopher Friedrich Hegel:

“A man who has work that suits him and a wife, whom he loves, has squared his accounts with life”
Friedrich Hegel


Is good food one of your true values? Try the “why” test [Start with “Why do you eat your favorite delicacy?” and go on and on till you reach your value] and do read my foodie blog at

If you love books and reading, have a look at my biblio blog at

[ I wrote this article to clear my writer’s block, and now I’m already thinking about my next short story ]

Dear Reader, do comment and give me your feedback.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006


PUNE - Down Memory Lane

September 12, 2006. I turn 50. After traversing the length and breadth of the country for almost all my life I’m back in my hometown Pune. I am overcome by nostalgia, for the Pune I once lived in no longer exists.

Then, in the early sixties, when I was a small boy, Pune was called Poona, and I used to live in my grandfather’s house on Parvati Chowk on Tilak Road opposite Madiwale Colony in Sadashiv Peth. A hugely bearded man prepared the best bhel in town (Kalpana Bhel) just below our house; today the bearded man is no more, the stall is there, but the old tasty bhel is missing – today it’s just run of the mill stuff. And there was Santosh Bhavan opposite for Misal, thali and yummy snacks.

In the evenings we ran to Talyatla Ganpati, to pray, and Peshwe Park zoo, to see the animals, play on the swings and slides in the park, or ride the toy train Phulrani. Now there is a beautiful Saras Baug surrounding the Talyatla Ganpati Temple and the zoo has gone to Katraj.

If you wanted to have Non-Veg, there were Asara, Jeevan, Poonam, Good Luck and Lucky in the city, otherwise you had to go to Camp. Asara has closed down, Jeevan has become Grahak Peth departmental store, Poonam a pure veg place, Lucky demolished; only Good Luck at Deccan is going strong. There was Poona Coffee House at Deccan, and Irani joints like Ideal, Regal and Volga, for tea, coffee, bun maska, ommlette, kheema pav and samosas. In Camp there was the famous Naaz serving delectable mutton samosas and the Coffee House on Moledina Road serving delicious breakfast.

Naaz has been replaced by Barista, and it’s other avatar, the Maha Naaz, a veg place, is also going to close down. Most of the Irani joints and the Camp Coffee House have been transformed into Udipi eateries serving Dosa and the like, and Poona Coffee House, which underwent an upmarket transformation, may also close down as per a report in Sakal. Yes, Sakal, my favorite Marathi newspaper, is still going strong, but the Poona Herald (called Herald now) has The Times of India and the Indian Express to reckon with.

In camp Dorabjee & Sons is still there for scrumptious Biryani and Parsi food, but the inimitable Kamling on East Street, where I first tasted Chinese, has disappeared and in its place stands a veg thali place which I must visit.

Bhanuvilas, where I saw Marathi films, New Empire, which screened Hollywood stuff, and Hindvijay at Deccan have vanished, and the old world West End with its unique chairs and soda fountain has been replaced by a modern hall minus the soda fountain and the relaxed ambience. Now there are Multiplexes.

I can go on and on in this vein, but that will make me melancholic. So let’s look at the positive side – Ganu Shinde, Kawre are still there for pot ice cream, but Bua has gone. Ramnath and its fiery Misal still stimulate, and so do most of the Amrututulyas like Ambika and New Ambika and Badshahi Boarding is still unchanged. In camp there is George, Kayani, Kwality, Marzorin, Mona Food and Budhanis. And all the sweet shops like Chitale, Kaka Halwai, Karachi and Bhavnagri are flourishing from strength to strength. And many new places have come up. And all the bookstores like Manneys, International, Popular and the ones at Appa Balwant Chowk are getting better and better, and there is Crossword too.

And of course, “Yours’ truly” is still going strong at 50. So I’m going to celebrate my half century - Happy Birthday to me!