Middle game and End game

It is all a chequered board of nights and days,
where destiny with men for pieces plays,
Hither and thither, moves, mates and slays
And one by one in the closet lays.

Rubiat of Omar Khayam translated by Fitzgerald

The opening game of life gives you hardly any options. It is only in the middle game you get some control of your life.
You get to choose your line of attack or defence ;there are gambits, traps, pitfalls, positional play and sacrifices.
All the time, you only have a periferal view of the end game; after all if you don’t play your middle game well, there would be no end game.
What is good for the middle game may not be good for the end game and vice versa.

As you move on in life, the options get narrowed down, the board is clear enough to see the steps ahead through simple, mathematical calculations. You can take stock of what you have got and what you have lost. The battle has to go on till the last move, probably till you find only the two kings on the entire board. Then there are no calculations to be made, no moves and counter moves; it is total peace. After all a draw is the logical end of a well played game.

some lessons from behaviour of animals

Anyone who has driven on a narrow hill track would have had this experience. you come across a cow on your track which you cannot overtake. the animal is convinced that the only purpose of your vehicle being there is to run over the cow. It starts running for dear life; may be for a kilometer or more, and then it is too tired to move a step; It moves to the side of the road and your drive on. One particular cow , I remember was very aggressive. She would give a menacing look, “Stop where you are …or else…..”. The jeep wouldn’t stop. Then she would start running and after a while she would turn around to give another deadly look, to no avail. This went on for over four kilometers when the inevitable happened and I could overtake. The cow could hardly move , but once the perceived threat cleared, she gave a victorious snort at the jeep, before moving away.

I always have that eerie feeling that even as we worry about some real or perceived threat, there is some higher being laughing at us. We worry about a number of events like, sisters’/ daughters’ marriages, higher education of children, construction of house, retirement and so on. We start running. When the time comes, the events pass off quite peacefully, leaving us just tired and relieved.

Another case is a monkey trap. Monkeys are trapped using a tin with a small opening. The tin is anchored to the ground and the opening is large enough for a monkey to put its hand inside but too small to withdraw a clenched fist after grabbing some nuts. The monkey is caught, since it would not let go of the nuts.

So many times we find ourselves in a difficult situation when all we need to get out of it is to let go of something we are dearly clinging on to. It may be sheer ego, some property/ material , position, power and so on.

Open source movement is not just a movement, but a philosophy

Written in 2001 for a newsletter Infantry School, Mhow. since then Linux has taken huge strides

The winds of open source movement are sweeping across the globe. Even as I am writing, the India-chapter of the Free Software Movement (FSF) is being inaugurated at Thiruvananthapuram, by Mr Richard Stallman. Mr Richard Stallman is the father of FSF and his grand aim is to develop an Operating system and a complete set of utilities under an open licence, so that one would not have to pay for software again.

What is open source software? It was born to counter the propriety software. Propriety software is developed by a monolith company like Microsoft, hiring the best available brains, to produce a high class, high cost software. Mind you the best brains come with a huge price tags. The source code is kept a heavily guarded secret and so are the bugs. Should the user face any problem, he just has to wait for the developer to come out with the next version with less bugs and more features. However, Microsoft is a past master in convincing the users that the bugs were actually features.

As against this, under open source concept, a programmer allows free access to his source code so that anyone is free to edit or add to improve the software. The only condition is that he too must keep his amendments open to everyone else. Of course, he retains the copyright to his contribution in the project. Who maintains the program to ensure it functions correctly? The creator of the software does it, not for money, but for maintaining his reputation among peers. For eg. JOE (Stands for Joe’s Own editor) is a text processor which works on Linux(pronounced as Lee-nucks). Joseph H Allen requires no further motivation to maintain this software than the fact that the program is named after him.

With the advent of Internet, the concept need not be limited to development of software alone but can even be used for developing a soft drink. Will Coca Cola or Pepsi ever open their formulae to the world for analysis and improvement?! Open Source Movement aims at tapping the hidden talent from all over the world. It fosters a spirit of working for self-pride rather than for material benefits. It is not just a movement; it is a philosophy, a religion, a way of life.

The message of this religion is clear; “Whatever you have to give to the world (Everybody has plenty to give), give it freely and ungrudgingly. Do not work only for money or position. As for accepting contributions from others, do so graciously and pay back with recognition, not just money or position.”

when is work not work, but play ?

when is work not work, but play ?

obviously, when you enjoy your work.

when does it happen?

when you work at your own pace, on your own volition, with no expectation of reward or fear of punishment/ failure.

(of course there are exceptions for example, when someone is cooking for his daughter, he doesn’t mind being rushed …)

you can set your own pace if you or are the top man in your organization.

top man doesn’t mean NO 1 in a huge organizaton … it can also mean at the bottom of the heap in an one man army.

well as for the reward, you can afford not to expect if you have enough self esteem, and of course, enough means for day to day living.


under such conditions work will become truly enjoyable, and such work will also be very productive.

So, barring a luck few, work for most people should start after retirement from ‘regular work’.


No, It is not about the famous train to Jaipur, it is about the life in the Army. Atleast for the families, life is nothing but ‘palace on wheels’ and for the army personnel themselves, the word army may sometimes be substituted by ‘jungle’.

Palace or jungle, the real operative word is ‘wheels’. Life in the army is like being always on the move. Like a traveller, you can experience the weather change ,look at a city through its railway station, but never be part of the town.

There is a time in life, when you want to get away from the train and get on with real life in the town, among real people. But then you are too scared to to leave the security of the train and venture into the big bad world of town people.

Even the families opt to stay in the railway stations (Read ‘Cantonments’) at times when the ‘palace’ turns into ‘jungle’ (Read ‘Field Station’). A few daring ones stay in the town but come back to the cosy comfort of the train after two years.

As always there are pros and cons to everything, including life on wheels. The advantages first; there is security and for the officers and families there is a tremendous sense of a privileged existence, since they travel ‘Deluxe class”. Though people keep moving in and out of the train, you do get good company. You get to see a lot of places and meet a lot of people though under controlled settings.

The disadvantages include the inability to settle down anywhere. There are no long lasting friends and no relatives, unless they are co passengers. Staying 24 x 7 with the same people, there is an artificial existence. The worst damage is the kind of belief that the world is just the train and the railway stations. The feeling of animosity comes out through the not infrequent reference to ‘The B—– town people (Read ‘civilians’)’

The divide between the train and the towns is really widening. Particularly for the officers and families, ‘deluxe class’ existence is unaffordable outside the train, due to the currency variation. The classic case is the kind of people who are born in a train, live the entire life in trains and settle down in a railway station, when too old to keep moving.

may you live a hundred years

may you live a hundred years ! is it a curse or a blessing ?

quote from an life insurance agent

“a policy caters for two tragedies in life

dying too early (covered by insurance component)
living too long (covered by the savings component)”

the first case really doesn’t affect you , it affect only your Dependants
the second case affects you the most

so what do you do ?

as long as you continue to enjoy the fruits from trees planted by your predecessors, it is only fair that you cater for the insurance component for your dependants

any financial planning requires an important input ; how long will you live ?

without this input either you will run out of your savings


will be left looking fondly at the unspent savings when you are in no position to really spend

so, what do you do ?

well, if you have run out of your savings, it only means you have lived your life to the full , so why regret ?
if you are left with assets you wish you had spent in your younger days, then be happy you are leaving something for your successors or for charity.
what if the beneficiaries are not worth the largess ? a tree providing shade or fruits doesn’t judge the beneficiaries …..so be it…

wedding anniversary

of late ‘celebration of wedding anniversary’ has become very important.

why do we celebrate it ?

is it to show everyone that you are happily married ?

is it to spoil yourselves with good time (as a compensation for 364 days of misery) ?

is it to exchange expensive gifts ?

is it just to thank God that marriage is still alive ?

Then there is an absurd notion among wives, especially to the north of Vindhyas, that it is the day when the wives should be pampered by the husbands. (you would find the wives literally driving the husbands to do various chores like hanging a flower pot, doing up the drawing room etc)
may be because of the huge dowry they bring.

I don’t think it should be any of the above.

marriage is difficult. one needs to work at it to make it work , and keep working at it to keep it working.

anniversary is a good opportunity (mainly because it comes every year !!regularly) to take stock of the work done and mid-course corrections.

it is a day when you could be kind to your spouse, extend him/her the basic courtesy that you would readily extend to a total stranger or for that matter even to your ex-spouse or old flame. can’t resist cut/pasting a joke 😉


A man and a woman, who had never met before but who were both married to other people, found themselves assigned to the same sleeping room on a trans-continental train.

Though initially embarrassed and uneasy over sharing a coupe, they were both very tired and fell asleep quickly, he in the upper berth and she in the lower.

Sometime past midnight, the man leaned down and gently woke the woman saying,….. ….. ‘Ma’am, I’m sorry to bother you, but would you be willing to reach into the closet to get me a second blanket? I’m awfully cold.’

‘I have a better idea,’ she replied ‘Just for tonight,…. .. let’s pretend that we’re married.’

‘Wow!……. That’s a great idea!’, he exclaimed.

‘Good,’ she replied. …………. .’Then get down and get your own bloody blanket from the closet.’

The End

it is a day to reaffirm your commitment to each other, to your children, to spiritual development of each other, and so on.

but most of the time exactly the opposite happens. it is a day when people do a balance sheet check to see who has lost more or gained more from the union. a wife demands gifts/outing and a husband demands ‘peace’ ?!


The sudden spike in oil prices has made the Americans coin a new word “stacation”
meaning staying at home instead of going out on vacation
well, Indians have been doing it all the time.

A few good men ….and women

As per Newspaper reports, our new home minister P Chidambaram has direct control over the fifth largest armed forces in the world. the CPO and paramilitary forces together add up to over 8 lakhs which is more than the strength of pak army ….but when it comes to fighting terrorism all he has is two bns of SAG which is fully manned by army personnel on deputation.

all we require is a few good men and women…are young persons listening ?