Month: October 2001

Doctored Fraud

Doctored Fraud

Michael Pritchard says, "Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed". Well, perhaps out of fear, but most of us react submissively in presence of a doctor. We even tend to follow their instructions blindly – especially in a hospital. 60-year old Sumati Phadke did the same and was a victim of her own fear.

Ms. Phadke was admitted to a private hospital at Gokhale Road after she complained of restlessness. Considering her old age and a history of Asthma, the doctor recommended that she be kept under observation for a day. By Afternoon, when most tests were over, Ms. Phadke’s son Rajendra went out for lunch and the old woman was left alone in her room. Soon afterwards, a doctor entered her room and told her that a few X-rays had to be taken. As per standard X-ray procedures, he asked her to take off all her jewellery and keep it in her purse. He then asked her to lie down with her eyes closed and relax while he organizes to bring the machine to her room.

Ms. Phadke was gripped with fear as she suspected that she might be suffering from serious medical problem. Her thoughts wandered and without inquiring any further, she took off all her jewellery and deposited it in her purse. Then she lied down and with her eyes closed, waited for the doctor to arrive. After a while, Rajendra returned from lunch and he asked her about the jewellery she was wearing. Her mother told him about the impending X-rays.

Rajendra was shocked, as he knew that no X-rays were to be taken at all. The "X-ray doctor" was actually a clever fraudster who tricked Ms. Phadke and duped her of jewellery worth at least ten thousand rupees and some cash as well.

According to John Powell, "The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing". Ms. Phadke concedes that the hospital incident taught her a lesson, though she had to pay a heavy price for it.

Storm in a Teacup
Our fast paced urban lifestyle gives rise to an indifferent attitude towards such important issues as hygiene. This is especially so in case of eating out.

Mahesh and Sunil frequented this up market restaurant on the lakeside for a hot cup of delectable tea. Last week, for the umpteenth time, the friends asked for their favorite item. As he was about to sip his way to fulfillment Mahesh spotted a small cockroach-like insect in his cup. Disgusted, the friends complained to the restaurant management about the indiscretion. "This can happen everywhere. Does it not happen in your own kitchens?" was the manager’s reply. The apathetic response of the restaurant manager was even more unpalatable than tea that was served. Leave aside apologies, the authorities did not even feel remorseful and actually went on to defend their stance.

Dr. Lin Yutang, in his book The Importance of Living said, "Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks." How true!

Detention Please!

Detention Please!

"Pay attention or face detention", seems to be the new mantra of teachers coping with difficult children. Many readers may recall that Detention is the favorite punishment handed over to students by the teachers in the popular teenage comics Archie’s.

For the benefit of all its students, Bharat English High School in Thane East has now introduced a more enduring form of Detention room. Students requiring special attention are identified and moved to this specially created division, which has two extra hours of school each day. The idea is to deal with behavior problems of the weak, mischievous and disruptive students by giving them special attention and also to keep them away from other students.

It is common knowledge that undesirable behavior among school students is on the rise universally. Today’s parents and teachers have to deal with such grave issues as disobedience, disruption, rules violations, absenteeism, gang related behavior, fighting, assault, vandalism and even drugs/smoking.

School, home and the community at large, share the responsibility for helping each student learn appropriate ways to behave. Hopefully, Bharat school’s move would create a positive school climate that will go a long way in controlling unruly behavior, maintaining discipline and instilling sincerity among the students who have lost their way.

"Fair Advantage"

Thane residents may not realize that they hold a unique advantage living in this city of lakes. The advantage comes in the form of the boating facilities available at the Masunda Lake, popularly known as Talao Pali. Although it may sound trivial, but by virtue of being Thane residents, people here have acquired the know-how of rowing boats! While rowing is a thoroughly entertaining and unwinding experience, it sometimes proves to be a useful skill to possess.

Boating at Venna Lake is a popular activity among the tourists at Panchgani. So when a group of Thane youngsters recently went for a trip to the beautiful hill station, they found reason to be proud.

Rowing is not everyone’s cup of tea, so most people around the Venna Lake were quite content opting for paddleboats. However our friends from Thane were well equipped with the skills necessary to row, making them opt for the more difficult and uncommon form of boat – the one with oars instead of paddles.

The group of youngsters navigated merrily in the lake, while others looked in awe. Our friends soon became the centre of attention, as they were the only ones who had opted for rowing in place of paddling. Needless to say, they enjoyed every moment of attention they got.

Strong Arm Techniques

Strong Arm Techniques

Looks can be deceptive. Shri Pandurang Naik’s soft-spoken style and his lean stature contradict the archetypal image of a body builder. Yet this veteran sports personality has been associated with the sport of bodybuilding and weightlifting since 3 decades. A former bodybuilding & weight lifting champion and now an administrator and referee of the sport, Shri Pandurang Nagesh Naik comes across as an extremely simple and unassuming person.

Judging from his modest appearance and behavior it is difficult to imagine that this resident of Mulund has won countless awards and trophies for his contribution to the world of sport. In fact, recognizing his contribution to the sports of bodybuilding, weight lifting and power lifting, the Governor of Maharashtra, H.E. Shri PC Alexander, recently awarded him the prestigious Shri Chatrapati Award for the best sports organizer/worker of the state for the year 1999/2000.

This is the first time that a resident of Mulund has won the “Shri Chatrapati Award”.

Naik’s romance with these “macho-sports” began almost 30 years back, when he was himself a bodybuilder and weight lifter. He was the Mumbai University gold medallist for two consecutive years (1963/64 and 1964/65) as the “best lifter of the University”. He also won the gold medal for the Maharashtra State Weight Lifting and Power Lifting Championship held in 1964-65. Since then, he has won several awards, both as a participant as well as an administrator for the sport. Among the other awards, Naik also received the Mulund Bhushan award for sports for the year 1999.

As an official International Referee, Naik enjoys judging the strong men & women who participate in these competitions. Commenting on the status of weightlifting as a sport, Mr. Naik says, “Weightlifting is one of the world’s most under-appreciated sports of this country.” Yet, Naik has tried to promote the sport in his own way. In the last 2 decades, he has played an extremely active role in the administration and organization of these underrated sports.

Naik is the president/vice president of various weightlifting and body building associations across the state of Maharashtra. He is the member of the Sports Selection Committee of University of Mumbai for last 25 years.

His experience as an administrator of the bodybuilding and weightlifting sport is unmatched. He has acted as a Referee and a Technical Official for more than 30 National Championships. He has successfully organized more than 20 National Championships in Body Building & Weightlifting in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra including All India Inter-Bank, Major Ports, MTNL, IIT and other Inter-University competitions.

Naik has been appointed as official Coach and Manager of Maharashtra Team several times. In December 1995, he represented India in the VII South Asian Federation Game as a Technical Official. In October 1992, he was appointed as a Chief Judge for the First India-Pakistan Body Building Contest held at Bangalore. He has also been a National Level Announcer and Commentator for Weight Lifting, Power Lifting and Best Physique competitions.

He is aware of the current bodybuilding fad among the today’s youth, which he is wary of, just as he has his reservations about the burgeoning number of gyms across the city. Says Naik; “Most of these gyms are useless, as they do not have qualified instructors to train the members. The essence of weight training and body building lies in correct technique, which only a qualified instructor can teach”. He also admits that most of the present day bodybuilders consume steroids, as it is almost impossible to win competitions without these artificial boosters.

Among Naik’s all time favorite body builders are the legendary Bill Pearl, winner of Mr. Universe (Professional) title in 1971 and our very own Premchand Dogra. He appreciates their outstanding endurance, which, he acknowledges, is vital to both bodybuilding and weightlifting.

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”, said Ralph Waldo Emerson. Pandurang Naik’s enthusiasm for the sport of bodybuilding and weightlifting makes him great in his own right.

FACT FILE

Weightlifting is a sport in which the strongest and most powerful men and women in the world compete. Many people who are unfamiliar with the sport are surprised to learn that Weightlifters don’t necessarily have the biggest muscles in the world. In fact, some could easily be mistaken for well-conditioned athletes who compete in other sports. Weightlifters simply have the strongest and most powerful muscles in the world, developed by very specialized training that develops enormous strength without the “bulk” that bodybuilders, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, possess. Bodybuilders are dedicated athletes and many are quite strong, but they are not as strong as the best weightlifters and their muscles needn’t be strong because they compete solely on the basis of the appearance of their muscles, not their strength (muscle size and strength are not highly correlated).

Beg to Differ!

Beg to Differ!

Rahul, a software consultant, travels regularly between Thane and Poona. Recently, while on board the Mumbai bound Madras Mail, he bumped into a strange co-traveler. A respectable-looking woman who appeared to be in her mid-thirties approached him and began a conversation. After the preliminary stranger-becomes-acquaintance round of questions, the woman started to narrate her distress tale. During the 10-minute or so monologue that followed, the lady recounted countless tragedies surrounding her life as she described that she was in dire need of money. Next, the woman asked her new acquaintance if he could help her financially. "How much can you give?" she asked bluntly.

By now Rahul realized that he was dealing with a sophisticated form of beggar who uses her phony tales of misfortune as a justification for begging. Somehow, to Rahul, the woman’s plight looked fabricated and he refused to get trapped in the ploy. Fortunately, he didn’t have to answer the woman’s question as the train arrived at Thane and he got off.

Although Rahul was avoided the trap laid for him, there are many others who may fall in the same trap. We urge our readers to be careful when dealing with total strangers. Before offering any kind of monetary help, use your good judgment to determine if the person is genuine or phony.

"Hello June 12, 1975"

The world is full of unusual individuals. Recently, we met one such individual:   Manohar Shenoy from Panch Pakhadi area in Thane. There is astonishing quality about him – he remembers individuals by their birth dates. Shenoy’s incredible memory retains accurate birth dates about every single person he has ever met. He may forget your name, but he will never forget your date of birth.   He often startles people he meets after years by accurately recalling their birth date.

Most people who know Shenoy regard him as a one-of-a-kind man. For the sake of fun and to test his ability, his friends, relatives and acquaintances often ask him their own birth dates and he never fails to amaze them. When asked to provide a rough estimate of the number of birth dates he remembers, Shenoy puts the figure at approximately four thousand.

An ex-Air force employee, Shenoy completed his defense service term in 1969. He is proud to be one of the survivors of the Jamnagar bombings by Pakistan on September 6, 1965. Presently he has retired from active employment and spends most of the time doing social work of or kind or another.

Shenoy is aware that birthdays are special occasions for everyone and therefore he simply loves wishing people on their birthdays, only to see the wonderful joy on their faces. But that’s not all. Each day, Shenoy wakes up before dawn and prays specifically for all his acquaintances born on that day. It is his belief that Early Morning Prayer reaps rich benefits and bestows plenty of blessings on those for whom he prays.

In his words, "I don’t do any favors on anybody by praying for them. I do it out of a sense of duty – in fact it’s become my second nature."

George Bernard Shaw once said, "Common people do not pray; they only beg". Shenoy’s prays for others. Thus his prayers retain the real essence of the prayer.

A Flying Collection

A Flying Collection

Airplanes have been known to fascinate people of all ages. Bill Gates, Chief of Microsoft Corporation, describes this marvelous invention of Wright Brothers as "the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing". He says, "The Airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages and values together."

Little wonder then, that when he first saw a program on "working of aircrafts" on National Geographic Channel, Pranav Mahadik fell in love with these flying machines. Says Pranav, "That was three years back. I was so enthralled by airplanes that I started studying the science of flying." His fascination for planes grew deeper with time. Soon he started building his own miniature models of airplanes. He learned most of what he knows from reading books and he even created his first few model planes by following a few do-it-yourself kits.

At first his planes wouldn’t fly on the expected path. But he was relentless, and each of his attempts at building these models gave him an opportunity to learn more about the "mystery" behind flying. He perfected his skill of building plastic airplane models through the repeated trial and error process. Today Pranav has a collection of 10 miniature models that he has built himself, which include the supersonic Concorde and Indian Air Force’s multi-role fighter Mirage 2000.

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While there is nothing fancy about Pranav’s collection of aircraft models, this 13-year old boy from Sri Ma High School, Thane, is very proud of his models. Looks can be deceptive, for, though not great in aesthetic appeal, Pranav’s models work very well. Built according to the principles of aviation, each model is carefully designed, for a perfectly controlled flight path.

What is remarkable is that he builds all these models using ordinary items such as safety pins, pen caps, iron nails and rubber bands. For the main body of the aircraft, he uses corrugated plastic sheets, most of which are obtained from friendly shop-keepers, in the form of in-store POP material such as advertisement banners of Orange and BPL Mobile.

His basics about aerodynamics appear to be pretty sound. When you see his models flying in air, you are convinced that he puts into practice all of those concepts in building his airplanes. For instance, with a little adjustment, he is able to alter the path of his aircraft’s flight significantly.

Pranav is aware that the principles of aviation rely heavily on precision. While demonstrating the workings of one of his aircrafts, he mentions about Ailerons, Elevators and Rudders. He explains that these are various parts of an aircraft that control its path. He even discusses issues such as the phenomenon of take-off and landing.

Recently, Pranav represented his school in an inter-school competition held at Nehru Center and organized jointly by Nehru Center and Macdonald’s. 200 schools participated in the written exam and Pranav was among the 64 who were selected for the next round, which is yet to happen.

More than flying airplanes, he is interested in designing them. Pranav’s dream is to be an aeronautical engineer and his vision is to develop the fastest indigenous aircraft of India. Fortunately for him, his parents provide the encouragement and support, which is so necessary to cultivate this passion into something more meaningful and concrete.

According to Igor Sikorsky, a Russian-American Aircraft designer, "Aeronautics was neither an industry nor a science. It was a miracle". Indeed, it is a miracle and Pranav plans to explore this miracle.

World of Money

World of Money

68-year old Anandrao Haribhau Rabade from Thane has a rare obsession: Numismatics or, in simpler terms, the study and collection of coins and paper money. Mr. Rabade has an impressive collection of coins and currency notes. To be precise, he has in his collection, coins and notes from 186 different countries from all time periods.

Mr. Rabade says, "The hobby is a great educator. It has something to teach everyone about foreign cultures, history, economics – and plenty more." And he substantiates this statement by exhibiting a few rare notes and coins that can leave you astounded.   Like the Dollars, Pesos and Rupees circulated by the Japanese Government during World War II – printed in anticipation of conquering and subsequently ruling USA, Philippines and India.

Another incredible fact of history is revealed when Mr. Rabade shows us currencies with denominations as high as 10 lacs, 50 lacs and 1 crore! During World Wars I & II, when inflation was going through the roof, countries such as Yugoslavia, Turkey and Hungary released notes with sky-scraping denominations.  

Mr. Rabade’s romance with world of money began more than 30 years ago, when his father handed him a small collection of British India coins. Today, Mr. Rabade’s sizeable collection includes the world’s widest, largest and smallest paper currency. He also has in his possession the latest polymer based currency that is slowly replacing paper due to its longevity.

"Australia is the first country in the world to fully convert to plastic bank notes. By 1996, all denominations of Australian currency were plastic. New Zealand was the next country to fully convert to polymer notes. Other countries such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia etc are gradually converting to polymer based currency", Says Mr. Rabade.

Over the years, he has found many supporters of his hobby. His son, Srihari has contributed substantially to his collection. His friend Mr. Balani, himself a collector of medals and books among other things, has encouraged him tremendously. Mr. Rabade’s wife has been quite accommodating too.

A member of Indian Coin Society, Nagpur, Mr. Rabade declares that such a hobby as his requires a lot of reading and research. Years of studying voluminous reference books such as The Standard Catalogue of World Paper Money have enabled Mr. Rabade to classify and label his collection in a systematic manner. Stocked in low-slip transparent album leaves, each currency file is coded for easier retrieval and storage. Notes have been grouped logically by country, time sequence and denominations.

He has created a file dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Then there is a file called "Fancy Numbered" where he files notes with unique and rare serial numbers such as "000001" to "000009" and 111111 etc.

"It’s an expensive hobby. Many notes have been growing dramatically in value in recent years. There are times when I pay 50 to 100 times more than the face value of the currency" reveals Mr. Rabade. Often he goes out of his way to acquire a few rare coins and notes. Like once, almost 25 years ago, he visited a fisherman of Palghar to acquire some rare old coins of the British East India Company.

His insight into the history of currency is overwhelming. Mr. Rabade discloses many bizarre facts related to the world currencies.

Take for instance Panama which uses US dollars as its own paper money – Panama’s currency is known as the Balboa, which is printed only in coins and not in paper bills. The value of the Balboa coins is equal to that of the US dollar, and are used and regarded as such.

Among the various things he reveals about Indian currency, he exposes a faux pas in fifty rupee notes issued by RBI during the 70’s decade. These notes carried the flagpole of the parliament building without the flag!

He shows us an Indonesian Rupiah with a portrait of Ganpati on it – the world’s only country that has printed a Ganpati on its paper money.

Mr. Rabade’s favorite currency countries: Australia, New Zealand, England and Indonesia. Ask him why and he says, "A Numismatist loves Banknotes for their visual appeal. Banknotes are perhaps the finest pieces of printing and graphic design to be found anywhere." True, an incredible amount of work and thought goes into the design of currency, by artists and engravers of exceptional skill.

Mr. Rabade has encouraged and helped many youngsters to become Numismatists like him.   He talks fondly of two young girls, Ms. Akalpita who is a stamp collector and Ms. Prajakta Varekar who collects fountain pens of the world.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you want to know the value of money, try to borrow some." Try borrowing some from Mr. Rabade lifetime treasure. Certainly, you will then know the true value of money.  

His Collection includes:

  • A total of over 1500 paper notes and over 3000 coins
  • 1300-year old coins from the King Chola era
  • Indian Coins from Portuguese and British Era
  • Coins of the last sultan of Delhi, King William IV, Queen Victoria (1840)
  • A 1934 American 100 Dollar Bill printed on metal sheet
  • 1935 Greece 1000 deutschmarks note which is thinner than the hair strand
  • World’s smallest note from China – 4 cm width and 9 cm in height
  • World’s widest note – 1910 Russian Rouble – 12 cm in width and 20 cm in height
  • Thailand’s Commemorative 60 Baht (Approx. 10 cm by 10 cm in size
Spreading Divine Consciousness

Spreading Divine Consciousness

"If we remain everywhere individually, something will be done indeed, but if we remain everywhere as a part of a group a hundred times more will be done"- Sri Aurobindo

The Dombivli center (MC-27) of Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, has followed this advice to establish itself gradually.

When Sri Aurobindo, the great national freedom fighter and an even greater spiritual master, sought retirement from active politics, he settled in Pondicherry to focus his energies on his spiritual work. He had about four or five disciples then. But when more people began to follow his spiritual path, a community of sadhaks had to be formed for the maintenance and collective guidance of those who had left everything behind for the sake of a higher life. This was the foundation of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which rather than created, has grown around Sri Aurobindo.

The Dombivli Center too has witnessed a similar trend, albeit at a smaller scale. The number of devotees at the center has been grown steadily since it first began services in 1991. The center will celebrate its first anniversary on Sunday, October 28, 2001. Founded in August 1991 with hardly 2-3 devotees under the name "Mother’s Meditation Center", the Dombivli center acquired official recognition from the Aurobindo Society on October 28, 2000.

"Regular Prayer Meetings are held on every month First Sunday and important days as is the practice in the Main Ashram at Pondicherry." Says Mr. B. J. Raman, Honorary Secretary of the Center. The center’s activities are inspired by the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, The Mother.

For those who are unaware, Sri Aurobindo Society at Pondicherry is a Registered Society with its chief administrative office at Pondicherry. The Ashram community comprises of about 1200 persons. It has about 300 Centers, 50 Branches and about 10,000 members spread across India and abroad.

Although from different nationalities and cultural background, every seeker aspires and works for the same goal: "Sri Aurobindo’s vision of a new consciousness upon earth". The Main objective of Sri Aurobindo Society is to work for a new world and a spiritualized society based on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Since the aim of the Society is to transform the whole of life, nothing is excluded from its comprehensive programme. It is a member of UNESCO and has been recognized by the Government of India as an Institution carrying out research in the Social Science.

The Dombivli center continues the tradition of the Society in its own way. Besides engaging in meditation sessions and prayer meetings, the center provides food, clothing and medicine to Old Age Homes and Anandashams. It offers help to needy persons and frequently performs acts of service to the community. For instance, in wake of the upcoming board exams in March 2001, the center organized a workshop for students of SSC and HSC in February 2001. Prof. K Kandaswamy, Head of English Dept, University of Mumbai & Mr. Thiruvenkataswamy, Professor of Mathemetics, and University of Mumbai conducted the workshop. The center plans to organize a Voluntary Blood Donation Camp in October 14, 2001.

The center has ambitious plans for the future. They plan to organize Yoga & Veda classes. Also on cards is a tour to the interiors of Thane District & other parts of Maharashtra spreading awareness on AIDS & Drug Addiction. But above all, the center wants to spread the message of humanity and spiritual consciousness to the people of Dombivli and its adjacent suburbs.

The Dombivli center has its share of difficulties, the biggest of them being an absence of its own place for carrying out the services. For the past ten years the center is operating from a small residential flat, belonging to one of its founder members. But due to the steady increase in the number of devotees they have been experiencing problems of limited space and time. The center began its hunt for exclusive place.

On surveying the market, the members realized that a suitable place could cost them in the range of Rs.10 lacs, an amount that is far beyond what the center can afford. Accordingly, they circulated an Appeal among the devotees of this and other centers also for raising funds. The center seeks monetary help from all its well-wishers. But Mr. Raman does not seem too worried, when he says, "I have faith that The Divine help will appear sooner or later in some form or the other. Until then, we will work tirelessly to achieve all our goals."

The Dombivli center urges people from around the suburb to come forward and participate in spreading the Divine Consciousness.

Contact Mr. R Vishwanathan or Mr. B. J. Raman on 95 251-882407 or 95-251-44 6511

Knock Knock

Knock Knock

These days, opportunity knocks many doors. Just a few years ago, appearing on TV was a dream for most, let alone act in serials or films. But now, every neighborhood can boast of a having its very own mini-celebrity, if not a celebrity.

Take for instance Dhwani Gada, an 8-year old girl from Thane’s Sindhu Tirth Society. Dhwani has been selected to play a child’s role in the first-ever interactive TV serial, ZEE TV’s "Aap Jo Bole Haan To Haan Aap Jo Bole Na To Na".

Though, Dhwani did not need a screen test (she got selected on the basis of her photographs), it does not mean that she lacks acting skills. She is extremely enthusiastic about acting and has won numerous awards in various fancy dress competitions in the past. What is heartening is that in the process of giving an outlet to her acting instincts, Dhwani does not neglect her school. A student of Bhagwati Vidyalaya, she is equally good in her studies too, scoring over 90% in all her exams.

Dhwani and others like her are fortunate to be born in an age when opportunities are almost limitless.

Tipped!

It is said that TIP is an acronym for "To Insure Promptness", although Webster defines it as "something given voluntarily or beyond obligation, usually for some service". "Voluntary" is the keyword here, though frequently we come across people who actually demand for tip, albeit in a subtle way.

"Saab, Kuch Chai paani milega?" asked a laborer who delivered furniture to our new friend from Bangalore who had recently shifted to Thane. He was not too sure what the deliveryman meant with chai-paani. Rather naively, he asked his wife if there was milk in the house to make tea. "Sorry, there’s no milk in the house", our man apologized. Perplexed, Mr. Delivery-man clarified that he actually expects a "tip" for the service he had just provided.

"Oh ok, you want money for tea… wait a moment", replied our saab and reached out for his wallet and to everyone’s surprise, took out a Fifty-rupee note and handed over to him. Quite a high amount indeed, for tea and water!

While we are on the subject of tipping, it reminds me of another incident. A friend from Thane had just returned from US. We were at lunching at a commonplace restaurant.

When the bill arrived, my friend checked the amount on the bill (which was Rs. 225). He candidly asked me, "Is 50 rupees enough as tip?" I almost jumped out of the seat. More than 20% of the bill amount as tip! I had to remind him that he’s back in his own country and not in the US, where it is customary to pay a 15% tip, subject to fine service of course.

After our friendly squabble, sense prevailed and my friend left Rs. 20 for the waiter, who seemed pleased with such a "sizeable" tip!