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Silver Hair Sins | Book Review

Silver Hair Sins – Book Review

Book: Silver Hair Sins

Author: Saumick Pal

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: The Write Place (26 March 2019)

Price: 249 INR

Pages: 158 (Paperback)

Language: English

My rating: 3.5/5

Religious fundamentalism is on the rise and the world is experiencing more and more barbaric acts in the name of God and religion. It has reached a fanatic level. Witnessing all this I, earlier, wrote a piece – What if there was no religion. Well, today I would be reviewing a book that suggests another alternative – merge all the religions into one and with the use of artificial intelligence create a more futuristic utopian society.

Silver Hair Sins by Saumick Pal gives a peek into a similar world. It is his first novel. I would like to express my gratitude towards Blogchatter’s Book Review Program for considering me this book review and towards Saumick for the wonderful personalized message. If you have been following my reviews, then by now, you would know how much I love thrillers. A thriller with religion and AI as its background suits perfectly down my alley.

About the Author

The author, Saumick Pal, is an engineer and has been working for 13 years in myriad fields. Also, he is a mentor to the youth of the country. He has worked as a scriptwriter too. His writing style is crisp, compact and will leave you wanting for more even after you read the whole book.

My Review

The cover of the book, along with its title doesn’t give much away but once you start reading, it will slowly begin to make more sense and now I can say that the cover is equally thought-provoking as the pictures inside the book.

The back cover blurb highlights Silver Hair Sins as one of India’s first visual-fiction novel, with more than half of the book narrated by cinematized photographs.

They say that the picture is worth a thousand words. It surely is true in the case of Silver Hair Sins, which has only 158 pages out of which about 60 pages are full-page photographs/pictures. These pictures are strategically placed in continuation of the chapters that streamlines the flow and pace of the book.

The message from the author.

The story is set up in a futuristic world some 200 years later and mainly revolves around three characters – Mary, Azad and Aasma. You will also read about two more characters that form the background story – Meera and Akbar. The story takes you to a time when the religio-politico divide reaches a tipping point and technology steps in to save humanity – AI merges all religions to create One God AI.

The algorithm picks up populist virtues of all the religions and not necessarily the best ones. This leads to a terrible dystopian environment of murder, manipulation and love where a father is justifying the rape of his daughter as a sacrifice.

The book also makes you think what if AI actually becomes so powerful that it begins to dictate the lives of each and every individual. What will be the outcome of that? Read the book to find out whether the AI remains powerful or the humans rise above technology and win over it with their instincts.

I am sure the writer takes a clue from the all-time classic 1984 by George Orwell where he spoke about the atrocities of a dystopian world disguised as a utopian society set in a time in future.

Pros

It is a very fast read and even if you are not a big fan of thrillers you are bound to finish it in one sitting. The vocabulary is simple and you don’t have to go looking for meanings of every alternate word. The pictures are very figurative yet abstract and each reader will have a different understanding of them.

‘Not everything is black and white’ – I will like to compliment Saumick on how he has used the colors like black, white and silver to showcase the criminality of a person. The colors, the day – Sunday and the dressing have a lot of significance in the narrative. The naming of the characters also has been done keeping the backdrop in mind and by the end, you will realize their importance for their characters.

Cons

The book doesn’t have many flaws apart from the fact that some incidents feel a bit rushed up. Given its size, it would more fit in the category of a novella. I personally didn’t like Kabir’s Dohas being quoted every now and then. For a book that is futuristically set it was a bit awkward for me to visualize the AI enabled beings speaking Kabir’s Dohas. I felt a little disappointed as there isn’t much description about the futuristic setup and many-a-time it feels as if the discussions are in context to present times and not two centuries later.

When I first received the mail to review this book, it reminded me of an important incident that occurred with my friend and me, just when I started writing about a decade ago. He came up with a photo-book, exactly like what this is, but after going door-to-door of various publishing houses all we received were rejections. ‘A book or novel full of pictures will never sell and it will totally add to the cost’, was all we got constantly. I am glad the Indian publishing world is changing for good.

This positively has the potential of being a game changer as far as the layout of a book is concerned in the Indian context. I have seen Dan Brown books having pictures for better illustration and explanation of certain facts.

Verdict

I would end it with a quote from Walt Disney – “Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” This book serves well as a commentary on the current religions and the perils existing in them.

Silver Hair Sins is a good debut effort by Saumick Pal, which stirs up a lot of questions about the existing religions and the extremism attached to them and how in the future technology can be used for mankind in the religious spectrum as well. I am going with three and a half stars for this visual-science-fiction thriller that will definitely make you think.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This review was done as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program. Please sign up if you are a bibliophile.

My side of the bargain – an honest review – Find the Book here on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the author reference: https://www.marketingmind.in/saumick-pals-silver-hair-sins-is-a-must-have-if-you-love-thrillers/

 

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4

X – Xenophobia | #AtoZChallenge

X – Xenophobia | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Something very interesting happened yesterday. A well-known CA who does commentary on issues related to politics and economics and is currently a part-time director of RBI tweeted or I should say re-tweeted a post, which had two pictures. In one there was a crowd gathering holding saffron flags and in the other, the crowd was with green colored flags. The text on the tweet was ‘choose wisely which India you want’. It also suggested that the pic with saffron flags was from PM’s rally in Varanasi and the other one is from RG’s rally in Wayanad.

Now there are a couple of things which are really disturbing here; one that the pic which is being suggested is from Wayanad, is actually from a different rally held long back that was conducted by Indian Union Muslim League and the second is that a person of this stature and repute is sharing such fake and false propaganda news.

The tweet

There is a pattern to this where more and more people with influential power with inclination to different political parties doing it. The sad part is there is no check to it and even educated people are falling prey to it. Followers (read worshipers) of this person will automatically believe whatever is being shared. Nobody takes the pain to verify what is true or not especially when you are being bombarded with so much data every minute.

I am not saying that only the ruling party is doing that, even the opposition is a culprit of propagating false stuff but if you remember these things became a part of regular discourse during 2014 campaigning. The much-hyped Gujarat development model and the pictures related to it were circulating everywhere. Later it was found that most of them were either from Singapore or China.

Xenophobia is defined as, ‘Dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.’

The major issue with this post is the usage of a color to fuel your propaganda. There is a constant attempt to malign one color and its association with a certain neighboring country. I know, India and Pakistan are not friends but then the government in power needs to behave like that. The official documents don’t say that it is an enemy state – I guess we should start from there. Five years was a long enough time with the kind of majority that they could have brought in such ordinances.

We need to categorically understand that we are enemies with that country and not that color. Every time there is a green flag being waved with a moon and a star in between, their supporters go overboard and start shouting Pakistan Pakistan.

A banner from J&K

For the past five years during each election whether assembly, panchayat or general, Pakistan has been a major issue. When they feel that the questions are becoming too troublesome for them and the real issues are facing really hard in their faces they start looking towards Pakistan. Nobody is in love with Pakistan, but when you keep sending wishes on their national day after the Pulwama attack then you are putting your intentions under the scanner. I know the loyal followers will start crying that it was a strategy. If it was strategy then stop making a fool out of common masses and stop spreading this hatred and fear against one color.

I am not a supporter of RG but to be frank let’s assume; even if it was a green flag and it was being waved in India and till the time it is not a Pakistan flag – I don’t see anything wrong in it. It is the flag of a recognized party that has, with proper documentation, submitted its symbol and flag to the election commission and got it approved.

You want to know what ironical and hypocritical – go and check the flags and campaign banners that the ruling party is floating in Jammu & Kashmir. Do you see a prominent color in that and did you notice how conveniently they have done away with the saffron? That is politics for you, my friend. When the PM goes and addresses a rally in J&K he proudly thumps his chest for arresting army soldiers who fired bullets against the stone-pelters – because that will promise him votes with that population. When he flies back to Delhi he abuses the stone-pelters for the same reason.

The PM, during the last assembly elections of Gujarat, kept invoking nationalism by bringing Pakistan into every speech. He even went on to say that the previous PM was in a meeting with Pakistani delegates and was involved in anti-national conspiracies. Well, for one moment if all this is true, then isn’t this failure of intelligence agencies in the first place? Secondly, why are these people roaming free – or was it just to make a mockery of people’s sentiments during the election?

The xenophobic propagation that Muslims are foreigners and they invaded us is to constantly deny that Aryans weren’t foreigners. If you have done a thorough study of ancient history, then you will realize that Aryans are as much foreigners as Muslims are. By their logic shouldn’t we hate British too – since they also ruled us for two centuries and nobody exploited us like they did – What color should we give to them and then start boycotting that too?

But to say that Aryans were foreigner would imply that Hinduism is foreign too. In fact, the current form of Hinduism being practiced is way different from what is there in Vedas. This Brahmanism of the religion and the appearance of Gods like Vishnu and Shiva take place 1000 years after the Vedas. The highlighting of the fact that Buddha is an incarnation of Vishnu is to subdue the conflicts of Hinduism and Buddhism. Going by the history of Buddhism, it left the country for about two thousand years following the conflicts.

While visiting the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka, I came across some amazing facts. Hindu kings tried everything possible and fought wars to destroy the relics of Buddha, so much so that they had to finally take it to places like Sri Lanka and Thailand to keep them safe.

Quoting Meghnad Desai from his essay, ‘it is not the idea of Hindu nationalism that is worrying. It is that the government will be the propagator of this particular view.’

I am sure Pakistan will soon die its own death if they continue on the same path and the government will then find a new color to hate.

You need to think hard where you want this discourse to go ahead. I am putting this humorously but if this continues that time is not far away that we would be only left with carrots to eat and will have to boycott every green vegetable.

Just make sure when you vote this time it is not for green or saffron but for your present, future and most importantly your kids future and whether you want hate to propagate or otherwise.

For all those who like the green,

For all those who are hate fake news,

For all those who like the saffron,

And

For all those who are xenophobic…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 24th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘Y’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

21

X – Xploring the Grand Mosque | #AtoZChallenge

X – Xploring the Grand Mosque | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Today let me take you to the ‘Taj Mahal’ of the Middle East – their star attraction.

The Grand Mosque or as it is popularly known, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi. It is the largest mosque in the country and one of the largest mosques in the world. The sheer whiteness of the structure makes it comparable to Taj Mahal (maybe because I am an Indian) as there is hardly any other building in the world like this. If you are visiting in the after, it is literally blinding for the naked eye to stare at the monument.

It is an important place for daily prayers, Friday gatherings and Eid prayers. The mosque has a massive capacity and on Eid, it can accommodate up to 41000 people. The construction of the mosque started in 1996 and it took about twelve years to complete.

While Entering

This mosque is unlike other mosques that you would find around the world. Its uniqueness lies in its architecture that captures seamless interactions between Islam and world cultures. Sheikh Zayed’s vision for the Grand Mosque was to incorporate architectural styles from different parts of the world including many Muslim civilizations. He wanted the mosque to stand out as a symbol for togetherness of cultural diversity and heritage.

One look at the Mosque and you will feel that it is a celebration of cultural diversity. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati, and design inspiration was borrowed parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt among other Islamic countries. Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky designed it, which covers an area of 22,412 square meters and was made in collaboration with 3,000 artisans from 38 global construction companies.

The Main area inside

It has soon become one of the most popular destinations not only in the UAE but in the whole world. In 2017 it saw a staggering 3.4 mn visitors and Tripadvisor rated it as the world’s second most favorite landmark with only Angor Wat in Cambodia beating it to the top spot.

It was made at a whopping cost of AED 2bn and is world’s third largest mosque with its 82 domes carved out of white marble, 1096 exterior columns, 96 semi-precious jewel-encrusted internal columns and the awe-inspiring seven handmade 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers.

The Grand Mosque also holds three Guinness World records to its name – the largest hand-woven carpet in the world, the biggest chandelier and the largest dome of its kind.

The beautiful arches

The world’s largest carpet measures 5,627 sqm (60,570 sq ft) and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knitters putting in an astounding 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet. The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). The carpet alone took approximately two years to complete.

When you enter during sunlight the spectacular ancient-cut domes, the reflective pools that engulf the courtyard and the iconic prayer hall will mesmerize you. The pool looks surreal at night, which is illuminated reflecting the mosque’s columns.

It is named after UAE’s founding figure, Sheikh Zayed and after his death in 2004; he was buried in the mosque’s courtyard. Just like the Taj Mahal, its radiating brilliance lies in its carvings and patterns on the columns, which are studded with precious gems and stones like amethyst and Jasper.

To promote an open-culture-open-door policy the mosque is open for everyone and that too free of cost. One can also go for a one-hour guided tour of the mosque and this is also completely free – it definitely worth signing for as it gives an insight into the structure, heritage and architecture.

The Largest Chandelier

The mosque is always full of visitors but its extravagant size makes it feel very spacious and you will not feel cramped or overcrowded.

Timings: 9:00am – 22:00 Saturday-Thursday and 16:30-22:00 on Fridays

During Ramadan – 9:00am-14:00 Saturday-Thursday and the mosque is completely closed on Fridays.

Getting there:

If you are staying in Abu Dhabi take a taxi and within 20 min you will be at your destination. If you are traveling from Dubai, although there is a direct bus service from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, the preferred option is a taxi. The taxi will cost you around AED 250-275 per side and will only take about 90 min.

Important Tips:

When traveling to the Grand Mosque, do plan to visit a couple of other attractions in Abu Dhabi, that way you can make the most of your trip. Try to have meals before you come to the mosque, as you will not find many options in proximity.

Another view from inside

Please dress modestly as it is a Muslim religious site. The ladies will be provided with free ‘abayas’ to cover themselves fully. Remove shoes and socks before entering the main site.

Any time is a good time to visit the Grand Mosque but during summers try to visit in the morning or early evening. It is perfect for photography then. Don’t forget to carry a pair of sunglasses, as the glare might not make it comfortable for you.

It has a seductive captivating vibe, which makes you sit in silence and just observe and soak in the opulence. Irrespective of the faith you follow – you must visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for its spectacular architecture.

For all those who love the Taj Mahal,

For all those who like architecture,

Pool reflecting the amazing columns

For all those who like visiting religious sites,

And

For all those who are amazed by The Grand Mosque…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 24th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘Y’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

6

W – WOMEN | #AtoZChallenge

W – Women | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Today morning I read a report about two women being abducted and raped by a man and filmed throughout the process to extract money. If this wasn’t the terrible part, the wife of the man involved in raping the victims was the one who filmed these women. Hence I decided to dedicate this post on the important issue of women and their participation in politics.

At the time of every General Elections, political parties come out with their manifestos and starting wooing the voters. Over the years they have tried to woo the women voters on the name of Women’s Reservation Bill. The honest reality is for the past 23 years since it’s initial proposal in 1996, the Women’s Reservation Bill is still floating around with no concrete steps being taken on it.

The Women’s Reservation Bill would have reserved 33% of the total seats in both the houses for women candidates. The stats tell a different story.

As of data from the first phase of elections 2019, less than 8% of the total 1,271 candidates contesting are women. As of 2014, there are only 11.8% women in Lok Sabha and 11.4 % of in Rajya Sabha, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The current Lok Sabha has Just 12.6% of 543 current members as women, far lower than the world average of 24.3%. You will be shocked to know that we are even behind so-called extremist nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh where the representation is 27.3%, 20.2% and 20.6% respectively.

Only two parties from the current political fray have agreed to field around 33% women candidates. BJD of Odisha announced 33% seats for women candidates while TMC of West Bengal is giving around 41%. The story has another side to it as well. While the claim of BJD is right what it doesn’t tell is that out of these candidates about half of them are from political families and lineages.

Research by Amrita Basu in Kanchan Chandra’s ‘Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary Indian Politics’ finds that 43% of the women elected to Lok Sabha had family members precede them in politics. Surprisingly, only 19% of male MPs were from dynastic families.

The current ruling party made a huge political issue of a gruesome rape of a girl in the national capital. I still remember the towns being painted with slogans of how the current government will eradicate or at least try to curb crimes against women.

But still, cases of violence against women increased by 40 % from 2012 to 2016, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. A woman was raped every 13 minutes, a bride was murdered for dowry every 69 minutes, and six women were gang-raped every day in India in 2016.

Adding to the rhetoric, in the 2014 General Elections, BJP gave only 8.8% tickets to women candidates and Congress just 12.9%. In the Karnataka elections in May 2018, only 6 of the 224 candidates fielded by the BJP were women less than 3% of total candidature while Congress miserably hovering around 4%.

Since the first Lok Sabha of 1951 where women participation was only 4.5%, it has precariously grown to 12.15% in 2014. While the voter turnout has considerably improved over this period, it is still somewhere around 66% for women.

A lot can be said about the males of the dominant society but with powerful female leaders too, the situation still remains grim. You would see women politician taking sexist potshots at other female candidates. The whole psyche is rotten we all know that…how these powerful politicians view and perceive women is simply deplorable.

In the afternoon in front of media, they would be touching their feet out of respect while during nights they would be disrobing them in their rave parties at their farmhouses. We have case after case where a women politician or women closely linked to a politician is running a flesh trade. Government-run shelter homes for adolescent girls have been converted into their playhouses where the screams and cries will never escape the massive political walls.

Not all is grim and there is still some hope.

United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research’s (UNU-WIDER) work last year with data from 4,265 state assembly constituencies across four election cycles found that female representatives report a higher economic growth, about 1.8% more annually, than male legislators.

This supports previous findings by IndiaSpend, which reported women panchayat leaders in Tamil Nadu invested 48% more money than their male counterparts in building roads and improving access. Another study by the United Nations found that women-led panchayats delivered 62% higher drinking water projects than those led by men.

The Panchayati Raj systems exhibit a far more fair and gender-neutral playing ground for women – While the reservation for women is only for 33% of the seats, women make up 46% of the elected representatives in institutions.

Between 1957(the earliest data available) and 2015, the total number of women contestants has increased from 45 to 668. That is a whopping 15-fold increase in the number of women contesting. If we looked at the data for male contestants for the same years, the number has increased from 1474 to 7583, a 5-fold increase.

That means more and more women are participating and are willing to take up politics.

In 1971, the success rate for men contesting elections was 18%, whereas it was 34% for women, which is twice that of men. For the current Lok Sabha, the success rate was 6.4% for men and 9.3% for women.

All I can say is for women to improve the condition of women in the society and politics, more of them have to come out and join the mainstream politics otherwise the male dominant structure will continue to use them for their gains.

The current ideology of extremism doesn’t help either. Everyone knows how they view and treat women where they are nothing more than a commodity.

For all the women out there…please go out and vote and make sure your vote counts.

 

For all those who believe in gender equality,

For all those who think women should join politics,

For all those who treat women with respect,

And

For all those who love women as they are…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul.

This is the 23th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘X’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

 

23

W – Weekend Getaway to Fujairah | #AtoZChallenge

W – Weekend Getaway to Fujairah | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Fujairah is the only Emirate, which has a complete coastline on the Gulf of Oman. The new Sheikh Khalifa Highway connects Dubai and Fujairah and is only two hours drive away. It is the best place for a relaxing weekend getaway. It is famous for its luxurious resorts facing the Gulf of Oman with the mountains in the backdrop. It is the perfect place to catch mountains and beaches in a single place.

Kids play area

It is home to the oldest mosque in UAE, Al Badiyah mosque built in 1446. Other places of importance include Fujairah fort, Al Bithanh Fort, Fujairah Museum, Al Hayl Castle, Awhlah Fort and Ain al-Madhab Hot Springs.

We decided to spend a leisurely weekend at Rotana Fujairah. In Fujairah, there are two hotels that are a part of the Rotana group – Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa and Nour Arjaan by Rotana. Rotana group is a major hospitality chain in the Gulf region with resorts and hotels in almost every country of the middle.

We were going there to celebrate the anniversary of an elder brother. I along with my sister and brother-in-law was in one car and the elder brother’s family was in their SUV. We started around noon from Dubai and reached around 2pm. The road is beautiful to drive on with sand dunes on both sides. On the way, there are multiple fuel stations that will definitely have a restaurant or a supermarket on its premises. We took coffee and some snacks as a takeaway from one of the supermarkets at the fuel station.

The humansize chessboard

Once you reach Dibba Al Fujairah, head towards the Al Aqah beach. It is a very famous beach and is home to most of the resorts and large hospitality chains including names like Radisson Blu Fujairah, Le Meridien Al Aqah beach resort, Intercontinental Fujairah Resort and so on. There is a section of the Al Aqah beach where one can go for an overnight camp right next to the ocean.

We were staying at the Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa. It is a luxurious lavish property facing the ocean and a picturesque mountain in the background. We were greeted with welcome drinks and the check-in formalities were being completed while I was scanning the huge reception area. I could locate a little alley where they had shops for souvenirs and gifts inside the resort itself.

View from Room

The resort has about 250 guest rooms and suites that have colonial designs that blend local architecture with a graceful palazzo-style estate. All rooms of this

Beachfront resorts have a private terrace or balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean. The rooms start from AED 1000. To my surprise, the resort was completely booked.

After completing the formalities at the reception we headed for our rooms. On our way, we crossed their massive swimming pool. It had a separate section for kids and its size reminded me of a water park – it was so huge. Since the resort was completely booked it was logical that the pool will be crowded too. I was amazed to see so many people already in the pool. For a moment I thought people directly checked into the pool or what!

Moving further ahead there was a giant human size chessboard drawn on the floor with all the pawns taking a nap. I wondered who would play that.

The Beach

Once in the room we ordered some food and played cards. The room was huge and one could see the ocean through the wall like a glass window. It was luxury at its very best.

Around 5 pm when the sun decided to be calmer, I decided to go for a swim, in fact, all of us went swimming in the turquoise blue water of the massive pool. What’s the point when you pay so much and don’t enjoy all the facilities? Well! Diving in a swimming pool is my favorite. There was a bar right in the middle of the pool and the seats were underwater. It definitely added extravagance to the ambiance.

We all were starving once out of the pool and decided to go out to some restaurant to try out some local cuisine. Luckily we found a decent restaurant near to the resort. The restaurant was serving Arabic and Afghani cuisine. The bread was so big that it would not even fit in our regular plates. On occasions, I can gorge on a decent quantity of food but that day I was also full in one ‘roti’ or I should say ‘Rota’.

The huge swimming pool

After the meal, we headed back to the resort. There was some amazing creativity on display – many showpieces made of colorful bottles with neon lights gracing them. We had ordered a cake that was a surprise for my elder brother and sister-in-law. We cut the cake and celebrated their anniversary, partied, laughed, shouted and danced till the wee hours.

I woke up early and went for a morning walk on the calm beach. There is no better feeling than to experience the tranquility of the misty morning ocean with birds chirping and no humanity in sight. I took a dip before heading back to the room. Everybody was awake by then and were planning to head to the buffet breakfast.

After the breakfast everybody was exploring the property, the ladies went for their pampering spa session while the men strolled around gazing at beauties at poolside. 😀

We checked out around 12 pm and headed back to Dubai – It was a well-deserved break full of luxury and fun. The resort is a perfect amalgamation of modern facilities and design right in the lap of nature.

For all those who like to swim,

For all those who love the ocean,

For all those who adore beaches,

And

For all those who love this combo of nature and man-made marvels…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 23th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘X’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

6

V – Vanshavaad | #AtoZChallenge

V – Vanshavaad | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

When a certain member of the oldest political party entered into the political fray this year, the debate around dynasty politics or ‘Vanshavaad’ was revived again. Time and again, the current ruling party attacks the opposition and tries to corner them on this topic. This was a huge talking point during the 2014 campaigning and it has become again as soon as the General Elections of 2019 approached.

I am a firm believer of equal opportunities for everyone. One should get a fairground to perform and they should be promoted on the basis of merit. When you keep shouting at the top of your voice that the other party is only of dynasts and nothing else, but you keep fielding almost an equal number of candidates then you are just exposing your hypocrisy.

Since 1999, the Congress has had 36 dynastic MPs elected to the Lok Sabha, with the BJP not far behind with 31. In 2009 the Congress had 11% and BJP had 12% dynasts elected. What this data highlight is the candidate where a father or mother or spouse was a previous candidate, what it doesn’t the candidates who are relatives or close members of a clan. As per Lok Sabha data about 44% of the ruling party comprises of dynasts.

I am not saying that one party is more democratic in nature than the other. If in one the power lies with one family then it is quite evident who controls the bridle in the other. It lies with two men.

When somebody questions their allegiance to dynast regional parties they start looking in the other direction. Regional parties are the biggest dynasts in India. One person starts a movement and three decades later there are a bunch from the same family.

When you have the same grandfather, how is that you abuse one grandson for the grandfather’s crimes but you literally forget the other grandson – just because he is a part of your political family.

Each and every member gets selected to the parliament on voting – we are still a democracy the last time I checked so I don’t understand this hue and cry about dynasty. If you question that means you are questioning every individual who voted for them. Secondly, if you literally want to question then raise them over the candidates fielded. If more and more dynast candidates keep getting voted to parliament, more and more parties will field such candidates. You stop voting for these candidates and the parties will have to change.

Sorry to say but for someone to be tagged as a dynast there have to be people in politics from their family long enough. I am not commenting on anyone’s family lineage, all I am trying to say is that when a party gets established so late and then half of its original members aren’t married because of whatever their ideology is then it is not the fault of other political figures that have kids.

Many say that there is nothing wrong in being dynasts when you are doing business and they claim that politics isn’t business. I beg to differ on that, given the amount of money being spent and the huge corporate backing to parties, especially one, it shows there are business and corporate interests embedded in the funding.

One of my batch mates is working for a political consultancy in Maharashtra in these elections. He said one of a major real estate player alone is pumping in about Rs 500 crore for the ruling party in Maharashtra. I am cent percent sure this work is not being done as a part of a charity. There are vested interests that push to go for such a massive influx of money.

In every walk of life, there are people with family lineage. I am wondering did Narayan Murthy’s son or daughter start as fresher in Infosys?

Blaming the offspring for the crimes of parent…I mean how logical is that. If that is your yardstick then once a person commits a crime the whole family should be maligned forever.

Nowhere it is written that if someone is a dynast then they can’t deliver. I know I am citing Bollywood, but it is the second most abused field when it comes to nepotism. I agree, that the people who get favored, their entry is easy, but I would totally disagree that they would keep getting work after continuous failure. The ones who have the talent and have proved their worth, last longer.

Similarly, in politics, I can give ample examples where the second or third generation have performed equally good if not better whether they hail from any political party.

Another issue that they raise when they discuss Vanshvaad is that these people don’t work at the grass root level and directly get tickets to contest elections. Well, the ruling party is on a hiring spree, purchasing candidates, Bollywood celebrities and cricketers in the morning and giving them tickets by the night just exposes their hypocrisy even more.

In fact, politics the world over is a highly dynastic and countries have elected members of the same family, from the US and Japan to the Philippines and Indonesia, so India is not unique. A study, ‘The Effect of Political Dynasties on

Economic Development’ states – Individuals are 110 times more likely to enter into politics if they have a politician father, compared to other elite professions such as medicine and law.

When you question the youth what profession they want to choose, I hardly see anyone saying that they want to join politics. If you see all around you right from the Panchayati level to the top only the tainted candidates get fielded, with very little as an exception. This scenario will change but over a longer period of time when citizens begin to participate.

The simple logic is if you have a problem with Vanshavaad simply don’t vote them.

Till then all I can say is, Keep enjoying the Mela!

For all those who believe in the merit-based system,

For all those who are against dynasty politics,

For all those who are grass root workers,

And

For all those who believe that Vanshvad is here to stay…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 22th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘W’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

15

V – Visit to Al Ain Zoo & Jebel Hafeet | #AtoZChallenge

V – Visit to Al Ain Zoo & Jebel Hafeet | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Papa got his passport done after he retired from his government job. There is some clause regarding NOCs and hence it is difficult to get it made during your official tenure. Just after that we sat together and decided what should be his first international trip. Given his strict daily routines or I should say extremely disciplined way of living the only option I could suggest was a trip to Dubai.

His daughter…I mean…my sister was staying there so all his nitpicking about the food and daily stuff would be taken care of by her. Since he was traveling outside for the first time it was best that we chose this location.

The first trip that we planned to take from Dubai was to the Al Ain Zoo and Jebel Hafeet because of its serene natural beauty and proximity to Dubai.

Al Ain Zoo

Al Ain Zoo is also known as Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort or Al Ain Wildlife Park. It is about one and a half drive from Dubai and situated in the foothills of Jebel Hafeet. Although it is a part of Abu Dhabi to get to Al Ain you don’t have to go through it and there is a separate way altogether.

The 400-hectare zoo was founded in 1968 by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late Ruler of Abu Dhabi, out of his sheer love for the land’s wildlife. He was particularly fond of the Arabian Oryx. We left post breakfast and reached around 11am.

Al Ain zoo is home to many of the regions peculiar species including Ungulates and herbivores such as Arabian antelopes and oryx, eland, gazelle, lechwe. It is also home to the rare white lion. The area is huge and you will have to do a lot of walking. It is not like a regular zoo where the animals are usually caged instead every animal has a huge barn-like space for it with the natural interiors kept intact. Keep a water bottle and a map of the zoo handy.

The zoo also hosts a big cathouse – Lions, cougars, jaguars, and black and spotted leopards are found here. A reptile house, monkey compounds, aquarium, and aviary also add to the attraction. You will fall in love with the natural landscape, the cool breeze from Jebel Hafeet and some beautiful animals in the background.

The Al Ain wildlife park also has residential facilities and if you are looking to spend the weekend then you can stay there as well. There is a bird show featuring predatory birds and night birds that lasts 30 minutes starting at 7 pm. The dinosaur trail is open until 8 pm. There are over 4,000 animals in the zoo, with at least 30% of its 180 species considered endangered.

Tickets: The normal tickets are priced at only AED 30 and AED 10 for kids. If you want to do a safari inside the zoo, then it will cost you around AED 200.

We almost visited every nook and corner, and with Papa along, we didn’t want to exhaust him. It was around 4pm that we left for the summit at Jebel Hafeet. If you depart later than this then you might miss the surreal tranquil view from the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jebel Hafeet

Jebel Hafeet is the second highest mountain in UAE and the only mountain range in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is located on the border of Oman and UAE and is considered an extension of the Hajjar Mountains that we discussed during Hatta.

It is also of archaeological importance as many Bronze Age beehive tombs were discovered at its foothills. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations because of windy winding roads. Since the rock is mainly made up of limestone, over the years, the speedy winds have created a natural cave system.

The 7.3-mile (11.7 km) mountain road to the top is considered one of the greatest driving roads in the world. With it two lanes meandering through the craggy limestone rocks it is an experience to behold. There are a couple of viewpoints with parking spaces where you can get mesmerized by the sublime desert and its winds.

Once you reach the top there are ample parking spaces. Avoid parking on the side of the roads, firstly because of inconvenience to others and secondly because of strict rules. It may get really cold while returning so please don’t forget to carry warm clothing.

At the top, the summit is grilled with huge metallic bars, as the fall is steep. Some stupid people, including me, still try to crossover and take pictures from that side. Please, it is highly inadvisable and risky.

There are a couple of basic restaurants within the complex at the top but I will suggest carrying your own food. The queues are long and the quality of food not that great. We were graced with some royal scolding from Papa and hence this will stick to my memory forever.

You will find many fitness freaks and lovers of endurance sports cycling their way to the top. I know…I know…that thought in itself is pretty fatiguing. One can also opt for the public transport buses from Al Ain city center.

It gets dark really quickly once the sun sets like always in the mountains. Plan accordingly as you will have to maneuver through huge traffic.

It is a truly majestic experience and a welcome climate change to visit Jebel Hafeet and Al Ain Zoo. Take your whole family and have safe fun.

For all those who love the zoo,

For all those who love driving,

For all those who love mountains,

And

For all those who love Jebel Hafeet…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 22th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘W’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.