Old

After nearly 55 years, I managed to contact an ex-RAF officer Henry Chambers. He was with me on the same Pilot Attack Instructor Course in Leconfield, Yorkshire, UK from September to November 1953. Two years ago, he saw a letter of mine in the Daily Telegraph in UK and sent me a letter simply addressed to Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava (Retd), Bangalore India. The letter found me with only a slight local delay.

We had got quite friendly as we were two of the very few attending the course who were not out chasing skirt every evening. We discussed many things including Hindustani Classical Music and calligraphy. At his request, I had given him, a sample of my calligraphy on a sheet of a notebook, which had guide lines printed in light blue on the pages.

We never met or corresponded after November 1953 but are now in contact though email and phone calls. We found that we still had much in common to talk over.

Henry suddenly located the calligraphed piece and sent me a scan of it. The paper was yellowed and frayed at the edges and had some smudges in places. I cleaned it up to produce a neat image on completely white background which looks quite new. I then made an old age version of it.

This is attached for your examination. As I see it, it was fairly good calligraphy, though not perfect. But it was a pleasure to see it after all of 55 years.

Minus Y2K

By Kapil Bhargava

The Y2K (Year 2000 AD) came in with a bang and went out with a whimper. If you were using computers at that time, you would remember the fear and panic Y2K caused all over the world. It was believed that the end of civilisation would occur at the stroke of midnight after 31 December 1999 the moment the date switched to 2000. Everything was so dependent on computers that nothing would work after that instant. A suggested solution to call up any old pre-Y2K data was to fool the computer by telling it that it was still 1999. Educational authorities in the UK should have thought of this simple solution. They told their computers that 00 meant 2000 AD. Result: they invited a 102-year-old woman to come and attend nursery classes. Suddenly their computers did not recognise 00 as 1900. In reality, Y2K proved to be a big yawn. But wait, Minus Y2K is something else.

Lord Rama came back to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana and taking possession of his aeroplane called the Pushpak Vimana as a war trophy. If we had the technology of flying more than 5,000 years ago and Mahabharata was fought with fantastic weapons, Egyptians must have developed even more advanced technologies some years later. Modern scientists can’t explain how the pyramids were built. The Great Pyramid of Cheops is aligned with true North within one fifth of a degree. No magnetic compass can do this for you The Ancient Egyptians obviously had very powerful computers and other technological marvels. The Minus Y2K theory, propounded by a freethinking American, Jeff Lindsay, can explain why their civilisation perished.

Minus Y2K means 2000 years earlier.than any date of importance. One such date occurred when the Prophet had to shift to Medina. It is from the emigration to Medina that the Muslim Hegira calendar began. Minus Y2K from this epochal event becomes 1378 BC. The plagues mentioned in the Bible were brought upon Egypt by Moses in that year. He was obviously the greatest computer hacker of all time. He brought the ten plagues on Ancient Egypt as terrible viruses and ruined all their hardware and software. Today’s hackers are no match to his abilities.

The full definition of all these viruses is not possible here. Simple explanations will have to suffice. Egypt’s waters ran red, as the ketchup factories’ computers could not recognise Minus 1999. They figured that the tomatoes were 100 years old and refused to process them. These were dumped into the Nile turning it blood red, just like in Bollywood movies.

The organic wastes dumped into the Nile killed the predators of the tadpoles causing the plague of the frogs. The dead fish on the banks of the river were food for the beetles to follow. The flies came from similar causes. Milk production stopped because of the Minus 1999 errors in the dairy computers. Instead of a positive flow of milk the pumps tried to put it back into the cows. Due to Minus Y2K, Egyptian computers could not predict the weather correctly and announced a huge swing in temperatures. The evening TV newsreaders said it sounded like “hail and fire”. The locusts emerged from mutations after the dumping of nuclear wastewater into the fields. Millions of giant locusts ate up all the Egyptian crops. The “darkness’ resulted from a shutdown of power stations which were not compliant with Minus Y2K. The final plague symbolised by the imprint of a hand in blood was to show who had paid their income tax and who had not.

The Pharaoh asked Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, if only he would please stop the viruses on Egypt’s PCs. But, the damage was done. Ancient Egypt never regained its technological excellence.

Managing Your New CP

By Kapil Bhargava

No, the title is not a typo. I do not mean PC but in fact a CP.
Some tips follow for handling your recently acquired CP (Child Person:
your new Baby). Similarities between your Personal Computer and the CP
may make your task easier.

The CP comes in soft packing. The stork stopped delivering these
systems long ago. Only qualified technicians (doctors and nurses)
should do the unpacking in a repair and maintenance unit (hospital or
nursing home). Amateur handling should be avoided. The packaging may be
required for future use, even though it may seem immobile for the time
being. CPs come in only two versions – M or F.

Immediately on unpacking, a CP requires drying with soft towels. This
is also a job for the technicians. They will ensure that peripherals
are connected and functioning before delivering the CP to its owners.
At this stage, the CP needs to be stored at a comfortable temperature
by being wrapped in a blanket or other suitable material. Variations in
temperatures can cause the CP to issue loud error warnings. The CP must
also be provided with receptacles for any efflux from it.

An early maintenance requirement of the CP is to be supplied energy.
Electrical sources like power cords and batteries are to be strictly
avoided. Energy is to be input as a white liquid. This is available
with the packaging itself for up to two or three years, though the
packaging itself requires careful maintenance during this period.

On the PC you face “Garbage In – Garbage Out”, known as GIGO.
Unfortunately, with a CP system, the situation is worse. You input
goodies and you still get garbage out. The output from a CP comes in
both solid and liquid forms and many grades in between. Its arrival is
informed to you via error messages, often at high volume. These can
persist till the error has been corrected and perhaps for some time
afterwards.

Receptacles for a CP’s efflux are disposable or re-usable. The
re-usable variety has to be thoroughly cleaned and dried before further
installation. Changing receptacles is not very complicated. A little
practice will enable you to handle the job as if you have been doing it
all your life. And, it will feel like it. A sensitive nose for solid
efflux detection can be of great help. Similarly a dipstick may help
determine if the receptacles are full of liquid matter.The need to
frequently replace receptacles has the further advantage that you will
not waste away your nights by sleeping, oblivious to your
responsibilities. Before changing receptacles, the CP itself must be
cleaned and dried thoroughly. Failure to do this can lead to damage to
the outer covering of the CP

The CP’s inputs have to be controlled carefully. Any opportunity for
viruses or other system hackers should be prevented by clean
procedures. If a nasty organism causes a problem, the CP should be
examined by suitably qualified technicians.

One year after receiving your new CP and each year thereafter you must
undertake special servicing. Other CPs of like vintage with their
owners are networked together for producing high volume processing.
Candles are lit to signify the number of years of ownership. Your first
CP should be networked with another, preferably of the second variety.
This helps in better operation of both CPs.

Government policies discourage owning more than two CPs.

Brickbats to Bouquets

By Group Captain Kapil Bhargava (Retd)

Flowers are beautiful and give us unstinted pleasure. Right? Wrong, if you go by the names we call them. Let us start with our national flower. If you call it padm(a), you are OK. But, address it as pankaj and you are referring to its origin born in slime. (Pankajs of the land, please excuse no slur intended. It is a beautiful name, meaning lotus).

When we were small. we found antirrhinum a difficult word to pronounce. The flower was the snap dragon. You could make its mouth move by gently pressing on its jaws. We never figured out why it was the dragon and not a more harmless puppy. The name of the flower comes from Greek to mean like the nose. The Brits at one time called it the calf’s snout!

The nasturtium is so called because it makes you wrinkle up your nose in disgust at its pungent smell. Latin is to blame for this one: nasus meaning nose and tortus to mean twisted. The mother language is also to blame for calling some beautiful flowers carnations. The name derives from carna (flesh) to carrying out a carnage. Some names are just simplifications. The dianthus is pinks even if it comes in a myriad hues. The gladiola is named after gladiolus sword like. A gladius was a small sword that gladiators used to hack each other in Roman days. This time the flower bears this stigma because of the shape of its sharp leaves.

Who is a pansy? Answer: a homosexual man or boy, or one with effeminate characteristics! How then have we named a pretty velvety flower with it? The flame of the forest never sets it on fire. That privilege is reserved for human interlopers (picnickers) and arsonists. The scourge of our lakes is the hyacinth introduced gratuitously by a royal personage during the Raj. The lady liked its flowers so much that she imported the weed into the country. She had no idea that there was nothing to control its unlimited growth. Now a beetle is being tried for the job. The name of the of the plant (and its red flowers) comes from Greek. The plant sprang from the spilt blood of Hyacinthus, a beautiful youth whom Apollo loved but killed accidentally. Those were obviously naughty times!

Probably the worst epithet is reserved for the most beautiful flowers. Orchids grow almost anywhere in the tropics but not in deserts. They come in beautiful shapes and colours. Usually their one leaf is larger than the other two. But just look at their name. It comes from the Greek orkhis due to the testicular shape of its roots. As a result, in the middle ages, Europeans thought of the orchid as an aphrodisiac.

William Shakespeare had more sensitivity to the feelings of the orchids. In Hamlet when he describes Ophelia’s drowning with flowers all round her, he refrains from mentioning them: “There with fantastic garlands did she come,/ Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,/ That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,/ But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them.”

It is not only Miss Blandish who does not get orchids. Some half men meet the same cruel fate. In medical terms, orchidectomy means the surgical removal of one or both testes.

Happy New Year Again & Again

By Group Captain Kapil Bhargava (Retd)

As a schoolboy in a small town in UP, I remember the preparations for Holi. The family retainers dug a pit and buried an earthenware pot in it. This was at the spot where Holi fire was to be lit a few days later. Gradually, firewood and other items, such as broken cots, tables and chairs to burn on Holi night were piled up over it.

On being questioned, our oldest servant told me that Samvat 1999 (year of the Vikram era) had been buried in the pot and was to be burnt as having perished. The twenty-first century of our own Samvat would begin after the new moon about two weeks later. Till then I had not realised that Holi had a direct connection with our own New Year. I have often wondered if Holi is in fact the celebration on the last full moon of the year to welcome the new one, the mythological story of Holika trying to kill Pralhad notwithstanding. The current Vikram Samvat 2065 began on 7th April 2008 (Ugadi) for Karnataka and Andhra. But if you missed it, never mind, there are a number of new year days yet to celebrate. After all, you can calculate the year from any date, just like your own birthday!

Quite a few people believe that the Samvat starts on Diwali night. This tradition originated from Gujarat and was adopted as the start of the business accounting year by most Indian businessmen, particularly those of Bombay. For these people Samvat 2065 will begin on 28th October. You have plenty of time to get ready for revelry. Punjabis count the same Samvat 2065, but it will begin on 14th April, the day after Baisakhi which has a very special significance for the Sikhs. Two or three other states also start their new year on the same date. Most Parsis will celebrate their own new year Papeti on 23rd or 25th August. Their year 1 started when they first landed in India in Gujarat by ships and sought refuge with the Raja of Sanjan. Parsis who came to India by land have their own separate New Year’s Day a few days earlier.

Perhaps the oldest calendar still in use is the Buddhist. Its year 2552 will begin at the end of May, while Jains will welcome the year 2535 at Diwali. In this profusion of New Years, the year 1930 started off the Shaka Samvat, National Official Calendar. This is a rare purely solar calendar, and is observed almost totally by being ignored. Most other calendars are based on the lunar cycles adjusted to the seasons, and hence the position of the earth in its orbit, by adding or dropping days (tithis) and sometimes adding a whole month (mal-maas). The Hejira Muslim year counted from the emigration of the Prophet to Medina, began this year as 1184, on the first day of Muharram on January 18, 2008. This is a purely lunar calendar with no adjustments to realign it with the seasons.

Finally, a few words about the so called real New Year’s day of the westernized Indian intelligentsia. There is no clear evidence of how the Anno Domini relates to the date of birth or Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At one time even this Christian era began on 1st April. In memory of this, many financial years including ours still begin on that date.

Those who continued to wish their friends and relatives Happy New Year on 1st April, gave birth to All Fools Day. They were the fools for not knowing that the year had changed its first day. On top are other problems. Pope Gregory dropped thirteen days to re-synchronise the dates with the seasons. There were riots against his having robbed people of these thirteen days of their lives. Even today the Greek Orthodox and Coptic churches celebrate Christmas on 6th January.

So, if you did not frolic on a New Year’s Day for 2008, never mind. There are many left yet to rejoice in. Happy New Year, again, and again, and again.

A Nose For Business

By Gp. Capt Kapil Bhargava (Retd.)

Scientists tell us that if your nose is firmly blocked and if you are blindfolded, you can’t tell if you are eating apples or onions. Obviously, the apple must be crisp otherwise its squiffiness will give it away. During my test pilots course in England, a doctor from the next-door Institute of Aviation Medicine took some students for a few quid. At the school’s bar, he challenged anyone to name eight different types of liquor blindfolded with a clip on his nose. The contestant was allowed to select any drinks he liked. If he lost, he had to pay one pound to the doctor and bear the cost of all the drinks.

Many people chose very different types of liquors like whisky, beer, wine, crème de menthe etc. The idea was to make them so different that spotting them would be easy. Everyone who tried ended up making the good doctor richer.

“Which?” magazine in UK educates and protects consumers. Once, it ran a trial for tea tasters. Four different brands of tea were brewed for the tasters to identify. All of them got these right. One taster was even able to identify if water had been drawn from the hot water tap and if milk was poured before the tea. His advice for anyone wanting to enjoy tea was simple. Sip a little, hold it in the mouth and breathe through the nose. You get the real flavour of tea then.

But even with the best noses some tasters fall down badly. Candid Camera on the TV tricked several wine tasters in one show. It put out four identical glasses with the same red wine in each of them. Then it asked professional tasters to rate the four in order of their quality. Not a single expert discovered that he was trying the same wine. Everyone had a laugh at their cost – all’s fair in TV and war.

Wine tasters never swallow the wine they test. They just get a little in the mouth and breathe deeply. A really good nose is a must for this business. Surprisingly, the professionals can tell where the wine was produced. They are also able to identify the fruits that have gone into it. All this is very impressive. The trouble comes when they want to describe the wine. The language of these experts has now become really bizarre. A wine may be called naughty, pretentious, risqué, arrogant, or even transcendental. The next time you watch a wine taster on the telly, listen carefully to his words. You might pickup some new terms to impress your true love.

Talking of love brings us to the most important use of the human nose. Women try to attract men with the most seductive perfume they can find. According to the ex-CEO of a famous perfumery, this whole business is bunkum. He explained that perfumes produce no effect on a man’s libido. Sexual signals are passed by odourless pheromones. It may still be the nose that detects them. An Indian doctor in the UK has recently discovered that men can detect when women are fertile. Pheromones secreted mainly from a man’s underarm produce remarkable results in women.
Before you throw away your soaps, powders and deodorants, beware. Women are put off fastest by smelly armpits.