During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was that defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized."Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him to empty the bathtub."
"Oh! I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the teaspoon and the teacup!"
"No," said the Director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
It was in the early sixties when I met Wing Commander A Suares for the first time. He was the Commanding Officer of a Canberra Bomber Squadron of Indian Air Force, a very prestigious appointment. I was posted there as a navigator. We had heard numerous tales of gallantry of our CO. Amongst his chest-full of decorations were two Vir Chakras. We were proud to be working with him.
Behind the gentle and pleasant exterior of Suares was hidden a very resolute and bold interior, exposed only when necessary. On such occasions we were awe-struck by his spontaneous leadership qualities.
It was a refreshingly clear winter day. Bubbles of spotless white clouds floated in the blue sky. Our CO ordered the whole squadron to fly a practice mission. The squadron was to take off in two flights (groups of aircraft), the Flight Commander was to lead the first flight and Suares the
After thorough planning and briefing the squadron took off and proceeded to the mission in two flights. On completion we returned and landed safely. Satisfied that the mission was successful, we were returning to our residence, when almost suddenly the weather turned foul. Dark smoke-like fog had rolled in from one side over the runway and within minutes the entire area was covered with thick dense fog, reducing the visibility to almost nil, in Air Force parlance 'Poor Visibility'.
Soon we heard the sound of the Canberras of the second flight returning after their mission. Sensing the gravity of the situation we headed towards the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Office. When we reached there, we found that the Senior Air Traffic Control Officer (SATCO) had already rushed in and was in his seat controlling the aircraft. We waited anxiously on one corner, watching. The SATCO transmitted on radio telephony, 'SIERRA 1 (the flight leaders call sign), the visibility is 300 metres. You will hold on and await further instructions'. On checking the weather of the airfields where the aircraft (ac) could be diverted, it was found that there too the weather was grim.
With systematic instructions from the SATCO all the ac were spaced 1000 feet above each other, Suares being the lowest, awaiting further instructions.
Silence of a few minutes, which seemed like hours, was finally broken by the calm and collected voice of Suares- "Permission to carry out a circuit and land". The SATCO again reminded Suares the visibility was 300 metres. Knowing Suares' flying ability he finally permitted him to make an attempt.
Seconds ticked past. Then we heard the faint sound of an ac coming gradually closer to the runway. Suares was unable to align his ac with the runway on three attempts, but carefully correcting himself every minute with the assistance of the SATCO on radio telephony, he finally did it on the fourth attempt. We heard the ac approaching the runway very low and
finally the screeching sound of the tyres of the ac wheels touching the runway surface. Though we could not sight the ac yet we were relieved. But our relief was short-lived. Suares did not stop his ac. He accelerated and took off again and informed the SATCO that he would make another attempt.
He made three more perfect low-level circuits close to the runway, landed smoothly and took off.
We stood amazed. He was demonstrating to the other pilots who were in the air with him, that it was indeed possible to handle the ac perfectly, even in such low visibility. After his fourth take-off, he transmitted to the other ac, 'It is easy. Make a few approaches; align yourself with the runway and land. I have done it four times." The SATCO smiled at us and said "Son, that is leadership" and got on to his job of controlling and assisting the remaining ac.
The calm and courageous demonstration of our CO rejuvenated the entire flight of ac and gave a boost to their confidence. Emulating Suares, one by one all the ac landed safely. Suares was the last to land. Indeed, this was true leadership.
Some are respected, but there are some who are admired. Wing Commander A Suares was a leader of the rare brand who was loved, respected and admired for his distinct leadership abilities.
Friday, November 2, 2007
A pretty woman was serving a life sentence in prison. Angry and resentful about her situation, she had decided that she would rather die than to live another year in prison.
Over the years she had become good friends with one of the prison caretakers. His job, among others, was to bury those prisoners who died in a graveyard just outside the prison walls. When a prisoner died, the caretaker rang a bell, which was heard by everyone, he then got the body, put it in a casket and nailed the lid shut. Finally, he put the casket on a wagon to take it to the graveyard to bury it.
Knowing this routine, the woman devised an escape plan and shared it with the caretaker.
The next time the bell rang, the woman would leave her cell and sneak into the dark room where the coffins were kept. She would slip into the coffin with the dead body while the caretaker was busy filling death certificate. When the care-taker would return, he would take the coffin outside and bury the dead body along with the woman. The woman knew there would be enough air for her to breathe until later in the evening when the caretaker would return to the graveyard under the cover of darkness, dig up the coffin, open it, and set her free!
The caretaker was reluctant initially, but since he had become good friends with her over the years, he agreed.
Day after day, the woman waited several weeks before someone in the prison died.
And it happened. It was her lucky day today! She was asleep in her cell when she heard the death bell ring. She got up quickly but slowly walked down the hallway.
Her heart was beating fast. She opened the door to the darkened room where the coffins were kept. Quietly in the dark, she found the coffin that contained the dead body, carefully climbed into the coffin and pulled the lid shut to wait for the caretaker to come and nail the lid shut.
Soon she heard footsteps and the pounding of the hammer and nails. Even though she was very uncomfortable in the coffin with the dead body, she knew that with each nail she was one step closer to freedom. The coffin was lifted onto the wagon and taken outside to the graveyard. She could feel the coffin being lowered into the ground. She didn't make a sound as the coffin hit the bottom of the grave with a thud. Finally she heard the dirt dropping onto the top of the wooden coffin, and she knew that it was only a matter of time until she would be free at last. After several minutes of absolute silence, she began to laugh. She was free! She was free! Feeling curious, she decided to light a match to find out the identity of the dead prisoner beside her.
And to her horror... she discovered... that she was lying next to the dead caretaker!
Many people believe they have life all figured out. But sometimes it just doesn't turn out the way they planned it. And that's where lateral thinking is needed. Always keep an alternative plan. Because you never know when you'll need it!