Sunday, August 31, 2014

A significant chapter in the UAE’s history - The National Dt 1 September 2014

A significant chapter in the UAE’s history

With regards to your coverage of the new national service programme (A proud moment for the country and its citizens, August 31), it is indeed a proud moment for all of the country and especially those who are lucky enough to be in the first batch of recruits.

I am sure the programme will mould a generation into citizens who are patriotic and proud to work for the good of the country, keeping it on a path of peace and harmony.

It will not be easy for many of these young recruits as the environment will be different from the one they are used to.

However, as true citizens of this country, they will, I am sure, get up to speed with the tough requirements of the programme. I am also sure they will emerge as a generation who are always ready and willing to serve their country.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

The National Dt. 1 September 2014

Onam Pookkalam 2014

Onam Pookkalam 2014

Sheikh Hamdan's endurance win - Letters to the editor - The National Dt 31 August 2014

Sheikh Hamdan’s endurance win
Congratulations to Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed for winning the endurance gold medal at the Altech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy. It is an inspirational win, especially as conditions have been so tough for competitors this year. Let this win inspire all UAE athletes to excel in all sports they participate in.
Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

Friday, August 29, 2014

Unknown path - Gulf Today, Short Take Dt. 30 August 2014

Unknown path

At times I am confused about my urge to write my feelings and thoughts on a regular basis. To write or not to write is always a dilemma that I undergo, when I sit to pen my thoughts. However, I end up writing my feelings at the end of the day.

Today too, is not different.

First is about the marriage of one of my nieces. I remember the night she was getting ready to come out from her mother’s womb. It took approximately 12 hours for her to finally land into this real world making all of us happy to see a cute little girl arrive.

Priyanka grew up as a darling of all. She is getting married now and I really wanted to witness the historical moment. Sadly, couldn’t make it due to work reasons. I believe always that a girl child is an asset to the family. I am sure she is and will be in her new role ahead.

The second is about a friend, Joe, who was leaving the UAE for good after a nine-year stint. He was kind enough to part with me a huge collection of books to use for charitable cause.

What has made his departure more special? That may be your thought next.

True, it is special, as he is travelling a distance of around 8000 km by road to his home country Switzerland from Dubai covering several countries on the way. It will be a dream come true journey for any motorsport enthusiast.

It is true that the journey ahead for all is always adventurous. There will be always an unknown path ahead. It is how we walk our steps that make us different each time. I am confident that both will be successful.

Ramesh Menon 

To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

Old mopeds at Coimbatore - RUV of common man

A common scene from Coimbatore. You will get to see all the old version of mopeds, still alive and in good running condition, carrying more than what a three wheeler can!. See the load already ready and imagine, two or three passengers on them any time and the picture will be complete. They are the real utility vehicle (RUV) of the common man.

An old Peugeot Station Wagon

An old Peugeot Station Wagon car seen at Coimbatore. Once these type of cars ruled the road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai as taxis. You don't see them anymore.

Natures trick

Natures trick. See how this butterfly blends itself with the nature.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bon Voyage my friend

It was a chance meeting and it ended up as we knew each other for a very long time. At the end of a 9 year stay in the UAE, Joe, is undertaking a journey of a life time. True, by road to Switzerland from Dubai! 8000 odd kms....wooooooooowoow....

Any motorsports enthusiasts dream. The journey covering several countries and terrains of unknown nature and life conditions, alone, is really something awesome!. Let your machine and self hold strong from start to end.

Thank you Joe for your kind heart to kindly offer me hundreds of books from your collections for use of charitable cause and also not to forget the beautiful musical instruments to add to my collection.

Wish you a great trip and do keep in touch.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi
26 August 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A joy ride through the canals of Venice

Never ending flow of boats, kayaks and all other types of marine vehicles. Canals of Venice, always an interesting scene to stay on, watch and admire.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mother’s affection - Gulf Today - Short Take - 23 August 2014

Mother’s affection

In a flash this year’s holy month of Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr passed by. An extended holiday at the end of it was utilised to be with my aged mother in an orthopaedic hospital back home in India. She was undergoing a series of surgeries.

 Being with her during the entire period was very satisfying and I felt like giving back little affection to the ocean of love and care she showered on me till this age.

 At the hospital, I was really impressed by one lady staff’s commitment to her duty. Bharathi, a lady security manning the post-operative ward of that busy hospital, turned out to be an excellent example.

Starting her duty early in the morning, she kept an excellent watch on those who really had to visit and controlled all those who should not. With due instructions prior to entering, she made sure everyone followed all the necessary health, safety and environment regulations to protect the welfare of the patients. Of course, she was at a very junior level of the hospital, but she did show a great example of how important each person’s job was and how to attend to it when its intended result is achieved. It was proved every day as soon as she left for home and her replacement took charge and people did utilise their influence to get in at will, disrupting the peaceful function of the post-operative ward.

While returning to the UAE on the plane, a little boy came and sat next to me. Due to the huge passenger rush for Abu Dhabi, his mother and sister were seated on different rows while the father was seated way behind.

Well dressed and impressive at his age, I started a conversation with him. He was found to be very intelligent and was aware of all the modern gadgets and their uses.

He was closely watching me what I was doing as he was changing the channels on the monitor in front. As the airline staff started serving, he read out the menu and ordered his choice of meals, which was a plate of kebabs and rice. I ordered a different item. When the staff served the food, he was curious as to what I was getting and as he tasted his and wasn’t impressed with it.

He asked me whether he could re-order his food. I said to him, I will try. Calling the airhostess and explaining to her the little one’s wish, I persuaded her to bring her a set of meals with fish, which was the next choice by this little one. It took some time for her to bring the food and by then I finished my dinner.

When he tasted the fish, he didn’t like that too. Slowly, he turned towards me and said, “Uncle, can I ask her to bring what you had?!” I explained to him, normally, they will carry only a limited number of packets and they will not have extra, which was the case exactly as explained to me by the airhostess.

In order to console him, I asked him to order ice cream and when they brought it, it was rock solid. He tried to cut and eat the ice cream but in vain.

The airhostess told him that it would melt soon. Waiting for it to melt, we started talking to each other and in no time, he was asleep and me too! I woke up hearing the announcement for the plane to land at Abu Dhabi and looked for the boy. He was still asleep. The ice cream bowl was cleared by the staff by then!

Ramesh Menon

Gulf Today - Short Take - 23 August 2014
To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

Its Friday and time to chill out

It's Friday and a hot afternoon. Time to chill out!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Petrol station employees need shaded areas - The National Dt. 20 August 2014

Petrol station employees need shaded areas

Driving between Abu Dhabi and Dubai regularly, I have noticed that many petrol stations lack shade in the areas where diesel and special fuels are served. This is a cause for concern as the staff have to work all day under the open sky. I am sure their problems do not end at night, or even during the winter.

I request the fuel company to consider installing shades over all serving points at every fuel station.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

The National, Dt. 20 August 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pledge: Make UAE Roads Safer

Are you a resident of UAE and holds a driving license? Then, it is time for you to visit:

Drivers  and Passengers taking the pledge will commit themselves  to the following 4 points;
√ YES – Seat belts – by EVERYBODY in your car!
√ YES – Indicators - every time you change lanes!
ø NO – Speeding!
ø NO – Mobile Phone: not without proper hands-free equipment!
The UAE has one of the highest per-capita road fatalities globally and we experience shortcomings of Road Safety on a daily basis. ‘Road injury’ is the number 1 cause of premature death in the UAE (according to a Global Burden of Disease study), and accidents are the number 2 killer in the UAE with traffic related accidents representing about 2/3 of all accidents. Clearly, this is avoidable! want to ‘make a difference’ and this needs a strong voice. This is the reason, why we team up with media partners, corporate supporters, and governmental entities like RTA, to help us ‘spread the word’.
We need YOUR VOICE, and the voices of all road traffic participants of the UAE!  We need your voice to clearly state: ‘I commit myself to MAKE UAE’s ROADS SAFER!’ – and to sign our pledge!  
…and please: forward the pledge to your family, friends, colleagues – whoever you care about!
For 2014, we are aiming for 100,000 pledges by year end. Maybe we achieve even more! Together, we’ll celebrate and decide our game plan for the future. With 100,000 of us standing strong for the cause, we will for sure improve the safety on our roads.
There are definitely additional important points of road safety, but for our initial pledge we want motorists to commit to those 4. In future pledges, additional points of road safety will be included.
Will your pledge make a difference and what is the purpose of the pledge? Possessing a driving license proves, that we know the road rules and the proper road behavior. Taking the pledge is a concrete action of rationalizing and reminding ourselves of how to do it right.  Reading and discussing is one thing, but actively taking the pledge is a much more a testimony of our commitment to increase road safety.  Please also refer to our ‘Topics & Tips section’!
Certainly, in the initial phases of the pledge, traffic participants, who already have a high conduct of road safety will make the pledge. However, they are encouraged to forward to pledge to other traffic participants with improvement potentials, or  with a low conduct of road safety! It is in the interest of those they forward the pledge to! The more traffic participants will go through this process of rationalization by signing the pledge, the more the level of road safety will improve.
By forming a group, we can accomplish difficult goals that we might have trouble achieving alone. Like-minded people can help support the cause of improved road safety and the group momentum can positively influence positive behavioral change and  ensure that we follow through on our good intentions. We need to ensure a culture of looking after each other on the road – and taking the pledge is a good start!
Inviting all companies, educational institutions and organizations sign the pledge, and also to encourage their employees, customers, students and other stakeholders to sign, too. It will help organizations develop a systematic approach to managing the key risks arising from road transport, thereby contributing to successful road safety outcomes.

Appending below is the support and call by the Ambassador of India, H.E. T.P. Seetharam in support of this initiative.

Please share the link, spread the word around and let there be less accidents as possible.

Thank you and best wishes in advance,

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Beautiful Mosques in Abu Dhabi

Starting today, I am trying to bring to you one by one the beautiful mosques in Abu Dhabi and then other cities in the United Arab Emirates.

In this photo you will find this extremely beautiful mosque situated at Madina Zayed (behind NMC hospital). The architectural beauty of it is to be praised. This is just one of the angle, I captured at random.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Windows in high-rise buildings need to be properly secured - Gulf News Dt. 14 August 2014

When parking my car at a multi-level car park in Abu Dhabi, I heard the sound of two sets of children playing nearby. One was from the ground level where a group of children were playing football. Searching for the other set, my eyes reached the top floor of a highrise building. I was shocked to see that two windows of an apartment were left open and a set of children were stretching themselves out and trying some tricks.

It was indeed shocking for me! They had clearly seen me standing below and observing them for a long time. As if one group of children seemed to have gotten the message, suddenly one of the windows shut and my focus was now on the other one, where the remaining children continued their activities.
I didn’t wait any longer and went ahead and alerted the watchman of the building. He told me that he was helpless, as the children never listened to him.

I was fearing three different types of dangers. First, the window panels of such buildings are mostly easily accessible. What happens, if the children or even if it is adults, slip and fall?

Second was the danger of the items kept on the window slab. What happens, if one of the item falls down through the open window and someone happens to be passing by or standing below at that crucial moment?

Third and not of least importance is the mischievous act that many residents have had to experience. Some children throw water bottles or cans or even plastic bags filled with water at pedestrians who are passing by the building. A few days ago, my wife and I escaped such an act by a whisker!
It doesn’t end there, these windows are used many a times by residents to dry their laundry. The windows are left partially open and the clothes act as an eyesore to a beautiful city image.

Authorities in the capital have asked for a mandatory lock for windows on highrise buildings. I request authorities and building owners to make a quick check and make sure that it is installed wherever it is not.

In addition, reputed organisations should cross check that the apartments where the employees are living have all the required safety equipment installed.

Let us all work together to put an effort to make safety a core value that can never be ignored even for a moment. Let no accidents, or even death, occur due to ignorance or carelessness.

The reader is a technical officer based in Abu Dhabi.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Tragedy of life - Gulf Today - Short Take - Dt. 09 August 2014

Tragedy of life

Life passes by very quickly. At times many of us undergo a series of unexpected tragedies all at the same time. For a favourite colleague of mine Paulita and her husband Adrian, it was one such time during last year.

A cancer fighter, her condition aggravated and she had to undergo a series of major treatment.

She was recovering and it was at that time the natural tragedy happened and her entire village was destoyed. Along with it 18 of their immediate relatives!

Massive efforts were coordinated by her forgetting her own health condition to rehabilitate those who survived.

Time passed by quickly and it is time for her to go back on leave.

It is at this time she is feeling the magnitude of what happened. With houses yet to complete and essential facilities still not reconstructed, life is not going to be easy for some time.

In a way when we look at things happening in our life, it is true that all good things can be destroyed in a flash but to reconstruct the goodwill it is never easy and requires lot of hard work, determination, dedication and sustained effort.

I take this opportunity to salute all good human beings like Paulita who do selfless efforts forgetting their own personal hardship.

Ramesh Menon

Short Take, Gulf Today 9 August 2014

To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Don’t get killed while driving - Gulf News - 3 August 2014

Don’t get killed while driving

Authorities need to step up to educate drivers on road safety and the importance of patience on the road.
•             By Ramesh Menon
•             Gulf News Published: 13:23 August 2, 2014

The other day, as I was dropping my son to the airport amidst the afternoon traffic, we witnessed a young man riding a sports bike at a furious pace, cutting across traffic lanes. Suddenly, the car ahead of him stopped, and the young man was left with no option than to hit the car. We watched as he toppled at least three times above and on top of the car ahead and fell down. There he lay motionless and we were speechless.

Turns out, there was an accident that happened further down the road and that was the reason for the traffic and a police patrol was already on their way to assist.

The accident that we witnessed will remain in my memory for a very long time, as it felt so unreal, like it was a movie.

Furthermore, for me as a person, bikes on UAE roads are always scary as they are not meant to be safe while driven on these roads.

Memories of two incidents that happened a few years ago keep on coming to my mind and is the reason for my aggressive campaigning for road safety.

First is the death of my brother-in-law in a bike accident in 2001 by a tractor driver in Bengaluru, India. 

Second is more serious as it involved a whole family, including my mathematics teacher from school. They died as their car was hit by a speeding car and causing the entire family to burn to death as they travelled from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.

While the fate of the young man involved in the accident that happened the other day is not known to me, I definitely know that it was an incident that could easily have been avoided.

There is a strong need for patience and this needs to be educated to our young drivers by the authorities. Especially bike riders and those who have just got their driving license.

You don’t put a full stop to your life in thsi manner. Safety is of utmost importance, therefore we should be alert and cautious at all times.

To read it in original, please visit Gulf News online.

Listen to ideas - Short Take - Gulf Today - 2 August 2014

Listen to ideas

On a short visit to India, I am touring around various cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore and my home town, Irinjalakuda.

While I travel by air and road, I also drive at most places as it gives me an opportunity to cover life in the villages through my lenses.

The situation changes when I am in my hometown and under the umbrella of my aged parents. They do not allow me to drive and the onus is on our family driver Jose to take me around the city.

He is a man of wisdom. Driving around, he has clear ideas on what needs to be done and what went wrong on highway development activities.

The one-way system in Trichur and Ernakulam, the highway medians that occupy a lot of space and reduce traffic flow are some points that require immediate corrective action.

Having worked in Iraq and Saudi for a long time, he is thorough with modernisation. I wish there was a better mechanism where the authorities listened to the voice of common people in India. Just like the “Have Your Say” programmes in many government departments in the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE authorities have been highly progressive and receptive to the voice of its residents. This has encouraged people like me to contribute regularly with ideas and suggestions.

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