Opinion 2014

Hopes and Dreams 2015 – Peace and Harmony – Gulf News Dt 31 December 2014

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Peace and harmony
The year 2014 was one with mixed feelings filled with disappointments and achievements. From a global perspective, I am saddened by the manmade calamities happening around for known and unknown reasons or ideologies. As educated people, we can stay focused on goodwill and harmonious living. There is no other alternate way to win over the current situation. Do not fall prey to the call for extreme actions at any cost.

Looking ahead into 2015 gives lots of hope and optimism for those who wish to bring good to their communities. Personally, I am keen on seeing a peaceful and prosperous world around. To fit in my humble role towards this goal, I will try my best to create positive vibes through my writings.

From Mr Ramesh Menon

Abu Dhabi

Avoidable anger – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 27-12-2014

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Avoidable anger
The year that is passing by swiftly and silently has been one with mixed emotions and experiences. There were plus and minus aspects as always. Travelling around gave several opportunities for thoughts and photography opportunities, which led to many useful insights that I shared with interest through the Short Take column.
Last week, I was at the airport check-in. The line was long and the airline system was working slow due to some connection problem. A pregnant lady was at the counter handling the passengers. The delay made everyone restless. But, one passenger was more expressive. He reached the counter and as the process took extremely long, he started raising his voice and showering strong words at the girl. The lady was helpless and kept her silence and emotions well.
Standing behind him and watching all the actions, I asked him whether there was any need to raise his voice in such a tense situation unnecessarily as it raised emotions of others as well.
He said to me that it is his way of doing things and he felt comfortable by shouting at her. I smiled at him as well as the lady who was listening to the conversation, as she felt relieved to get some support.
We moved on to the security check point and a person ahead had some items inside his bag which was creating an alarm with the security system.
The screening process had to be repeated several times and it took time.
The man who created ruckus a few minutes before was behind and was standing without any option to show his emotions at the security staff.
We all who watched him shouting looked at him to see how he expressed his anger this time. He knew what we intended and gave us a helpless smile. It was sure he was sorry about what happened before.
A smile has several positive values at all situations. Let the year ahead be a positive one and let us all spread happiness and positive spirit with a sweet smile to those we meet.
Ramesh Menon

Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 27-12-2014

To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

Life without a phone – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 20-12-2014

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Life without a phone
Weekends are always special. But the last weekend was extra special. I got myself ready with my cameras early morning and set out to capture the sight of the race boats participating in the Volvo Ocean Race reaching Abu Dhabi. It was interesting as the non-favourable wind and weather delayed the arrival. What was supposed to be a two-hour boat trip got extended to more than five hours.
The experience was really good enough to understand the difficulties of the sailors out in the sea. It was all the more tough with limited facilities for those in the race boats participating in this extreme sport.
Closely covering and photographing the journey of the first three boats, I became friendly with the crew and wanted to have some personal shots and thought of taking it using my mobile phone instead of the professional camera. I was happy to pose with them and have some personal memorabilia shots taken.
Someone else had other ideas. As I moved along the crowd and got out to my car, I could not find my phone. I thought it would have fallen down. Reaching home, I searched all over and rang my number. It was ringing. In a few minutes it was giving a switched off mode and gone!
It took a few days for me to get a replacement SIM and phone and reorganise myself. At the beginning, I was feeling sad for the lost phone and the precious photos with the super heroes of Volvo Ocean Race. After a while, I did surrender to the reality and changed it to a blissful situation of absolute silence.
Life without a phone and calls. Unbelievable and absolute peace. Should I thank whoever took my phone and made it possible!

Ramesh Menon

To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today Short Take – Dt -20-12-2014

To bee, or not to bee – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 13 December 2014

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To bee, or not to bee
Our life is full of predictable and unpredictable actions and activities. That is one thing that makes it interesting. For me, for you and everyone for that matter.
I have been fascinated by a beehive in my balcony that has  developed into a beautiful one in size and population.
As the number of bees started growing, we took more caution to leave them alone. What will happen if by chance, the hive was disturbed!
My interest in nature held me from taking any action to remove the hive. I kept on observing them, their lifestyle and routine. With still and video photography, I kept on recording their activities from morning till night.
At one point, it was sure that the hive had to be removed. I was feeling sad till the last minute, as we had to remove it completely from our area.
The action known to us was unknown to the creatures. It gave me an opportunity to think about various natural calamities that happen suddenly without any notice to mankind.
At times, however equipped we are, we are helpless in front of nature and its fury or even any other destructive force that is on us. There is a lot to think about this and am leaving it to your imagination.

Ramesh Menon
To read it in original, please visit GULF TODAY online

Communal Harmony – Reader Pictures – Gulf News Dt 08 Dec 2014

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Gulf News reader Ramesh Menon took this photograph in Bengaluru, India. The Abu Dhabi-based reader said: “Wherever flowers blossom, you are sure to see honey bees. Our apartment complex was no exception. Pictured is a bee hive getting bigger, better and more beautiful each day, in my balcony. It would be a disaster if they are disturbed or hurt. They exhibit true communal harmony, which is very important for peaceful living.”

To read and see it in original, please visit Gulf News online

Busy bee – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 06-12-2014

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Busy bee
I like to travel and of course without fail my camera is always there with me. Visiting different places and meeting people known and unknown give me opportunities to explore new horizons.
Thanks to a long holiday in the UAE, I am currently exploring various cities.
This time my subject is not human beings but a colony of honey bees at a particular spot. Last time, when I visited, the hive was in a substantial size and shape. This time, they have become bigger and better. Without disturbing their habitat, I am exploring their life through different zoom lenses.
It is interesting and keeps me busy. Every story has to have an end and this one too. Very soon, the hive will be removed and harvested for honey and wax.
That makes me wonder if man is the greediest of living beings!

Ramesh Menon

To read it in original, please visit GULF TODAY online

Public speaking – Short Take – Gulf Today – Dt. 29 November 2014

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Public speaking
Public Speaking is an art. Some people are very talented at it. So much so, that we love to hear them speak for any number of hours.
It may be natural for some but for others it may be developed over a period of years. Both require indepth knowledge on the subject they speak and also huge amount of preparation before.
It is also the same case when it comes to answering questions spontaneously after the speech on the subject they talked as well as various others.
I was lucky to listen to two such speakers recently. One was a US scientist, who elaborated his mastery and presented it in the simplest manner that even a layman could understand.
The other one was one of my own seniors. With experience in the industry for about 40 years, it is a treat to watch and listen to him on any day. It comes so natural that the audience will never realise how much time and topic is covered until he leaves the podium.
It doesn’t end there as he has a natural way to answer post-speech questions. I haven’t seen him carrying a manuscript for his speech.
However, it was new experience for me and all others gathered who listened to him the other day at a huge gathering.
As he came in front of the podium, he took out a set of papers. Before reading out the key messages from it, he said to all. “Today, I am a virgin! It is the first time I am reading out from a pre-written note!”
It was really an icebreaker to capture the huge audience. Though he ventured out from the note at times, it blended perfectly.

Ramesh Menon
To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

Abu Dhabi’s F1 Grand Prix was a great specactle – Letters to the editor – The National Dt 25 November 2014

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Fans applaud the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix. (Christopher Pike / The National)
Well done, Abu Dhabi, on a successful finale to the Formula One series (Hamilton takes Abu Dhabi GP, November 24).
The Etihad Formula One Grand Prix really was a treat to watch. The organisers did a great job from the issuing of tickets to the closing event.
Praise should be showered on the volunteers from Takatof who were well trained and well informed.
However, I have a wish list for next year’s event. It includes more television screens in the general stands, free earphones for following the commentary in English and Arabic, and a prominent display showing the lap number. Transport after the race is also an area for improvement.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi
To read it in original, please visit The National online.

Cancer battle – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt. 22 November 2014

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Cancer battle
On a visit to India last week, I was at the lounge of Abu Dhabi airport waiting to board a plane. The renovation work happening there meant that the space was crowded.
Among the passengers I found a well dressed lady walking back and forth restlessly answering to phone calls and making her own calls.
At some point of time, she came close to where I was standing and I found that she was calling doctors at a Cochin hospital and enquiring about the health condition of someone in the ICU. Feeling for her stressful situation, I started a conversation with her just to make her relax a bit.
Talking to her I found out that she is a medical professional from Washington DC on an emergency visit to Kerala as her father has been admitted at a prominent hospital in Cochin.
She told me that her father was normal a few months ago and had visited her in the US.
Recently, he was found diagnosed with cancer and added heart and other conditions made things worse and his kidney had stopped functioning now.
It happened that there was lack of medical support and things have now turned out to be really worse.
To aid speedy recovery and assist with right medical guidance she decided to take emergency leave and fly down.
We talked about the recent increase in cancer of various types, especially in the region. Our topics also covered lack of proper medical guidance to the patients and their support system.
At the Cochin airport, I assured her all support if ever she required and left for home.
Next day, I was visiting Cochin for a personal reason and was driving in front of the hospital where her dad was being treated.
To my surprise, I found her coming out of the gate and I told my driver to stop.
She too was surprised to see me again. Her face was totally down and she told me that her dad’s condition had worsened and they did not have any hope. They would try and keep him in a ventilator till her husband and children arrived from the US in the next two days.
I felt too sad and consoled her. Having undergone similar situations in my life twice in the recent years, I know how distressing it is. I said goodbye to her, offering prayers for the speedy recovery of her dad.
Although, it was an unhappy situation we met, I never expected her to meet again when I left her at Cochin airport but we met again and hope we will meet again as her love and willingness for her dad left everlasting impressions in me.

Ramesh Menon
To read it in original, please visit GULF TODAY online.

Learning experience – Gulf Today – Short Take – Dt 15 November 2014

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Learning experience
It was a hectic week with Adipec 2014 celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The prestigious oil and gas exhibition and conference has gained immense popularity over the years. It was proved by the continuous flow of visitors with their quest to know more about technology and expertise present in each of the stands.
The event offered an opportunity to meet with colleagues who arrived for the exhibition from different parts of the world and also make some new friends who were first timers.
Observing them and many others in our and various other stands was a learning experience by its own. Some people make it a show and some others contribute significantly to make the show run!
For me, it was a month of long working hours and I needed a break. Off to the airport straight from the exhibition, I realised my dress was completely out of form.
I approached an outlet where an Ethiopian salesgirl gave me the right choice of shorts, jackets, belt and other accessories. In no time, I was relaxed and comfortable in my new dress.
Good customer service is an inborn art and a person like her should be congratulated and promoted to be role models. Our travel becomes all the more interesting when we come across such pleasant salespersons.

Ramesh Menon