Sunday, April 30, 2006

Getting Better at Haiku...

Alt Tilte: Spirits, Alphabets, Splitting Headaches and Haiku.

'P'ke Baad 'Q'yun nahin aa raha hai,
Yeh Haiku; Soch, soch-ke
Head-Ache se Sar-Do ho raha hai !!!

Author's note: Well, will eventually get it, I guess.

What is Good for Geese...

Here is the excerpt that is taken out of an email that got sent to me; Someone has quoted Bryan Dollery as “Flow takes time to achieve, and it is fragile. If a programmer’s flow is interrupted it can take a large amount of time for her to regain the state, sometimes up to an hour. That’s an hour of lost productivity to your team. If a programmer is interrupted many times during the day she may never reach this state. Without this state, creativity is crippled”; and using this had come to conclude – “In Bay Area, environment is manageable as we get to use fairly good sized cubicles and generally its very peaceful here… … I noticed in India (no generalization here, this refers to my experience only) that there is not much of an effort in filtering out this new noise. Every input is of high priority. Chat from a friend, call from somebody, email from somewhere. … …”

Firstly, I want to agree to what is being said here; I'm sure we can be more alert, more organized, more disciplined in how we do our own work and how we do enable others. So lets all agree on that and take a deep breath...


Now that agreement is done, I want to take conflict on this one "If a programmer's flow is interrupted it can take a large amount of time for her to regain the state, sometimes up to an hour. That's an hour of lost productivity to your team" - I believe this is a gross generalization - both on what engenders 'creativity' and what is implied by 'privacy'.

It may be true that some of the productivity is lost; but there are positives that come out of it; the point that we are able to relate well and work well within such a chaos, is a pointer to the vibrancy of others feel when the come to India. The seeming chaos and the seeming hurry all around us to get somewhere quickly, is also the one that arises out of our perennial scarcity; and the syndrome of scarcity is the one the make businessmen and housewives all across India innovate in their business model and in their daily lives. Also, some of this seeming chaos is what provides other aspects of work other than 'creativity'. Its patronizing to assume what is true for a culture is true for every other culture; just because IT which was done in the US is now done in India does NOT imply that it has to be done in a similar environment and in the same way. We were doing creative work within this chaos even before IT came here - look at all the R&D Government organizations; movie industry, ads, Tagore, Barathi, fast breeder reactor, Jaipur Foot and thousand other day-to-day innovations people make to live within the constraints of scarcity.

The privacy of space is much different in our culture than what it would mean in a western (or US) culture. Last week a friend of mine took my family into his parents’ home and his parents were most welcoming. I’m sure it introduced chaos into their lives and intruded into their ‘privacy’. Inspite of differences of languages between us, our inability to communicate effectively, at the end of it, there was nothing from them to suggest that they resented our presence as loss of their privacy. Privacy of space does not imply the same in India as it would imply in the US. Seeing it uni-dimensionally and assuming so, will be at Assumer’s own peril

Having said all that, just I’d suggest a viewing of this video:
I wonder if such a self-organizing and self-healing environment can ever exist in the Bay area, for all the goodness the presence of Fry's and Saravana Bhavan brings to life :)

What is good for geese, in this case, is definitely not good for gander. And what perhaps makes up as a (newsy-juicy) sleaze should not be up for slander.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Forsaken and Forgotten Battles

I wait for an opportunity to regain ground from my enemy. I know, like me, the enemy is also completely conscious and aware of the circumstances. At this point in time, we both are in the state of equilibrium - its like a breather where two gladiators size each other up after having gone hammer and tongs at each other with no one gaining any advantage; we wait for the other to blink and make the first mistake, at which we swoop down on the opportunity and push the other further back out of the territory.

We both are lone warriors; sent out to a distant outpost to protect a narrow strip of land that we both claim is ours. At best of times, we tend to share that land equally. At worst of times, small battles break out resulting in pushing and shoving; sometime very very obvious, sometime very very subtle. At most times, for us, the lone soldier on the ground, the watch has to be constant – there is no time to sleep; while the high command goes quiet based on seasonal changes, we have to be extremely vigilant. Any small movement of the enemy is circumspect: the attention that we give each other is unrelenting. This is a war that is fought in stealth and cannot be talked about; the high command will keep the fa├žade of friendliness and will continue to be engaged in talks; while it expects us, the lone outposters to hold on to, at minimum, the fair share of the common ground that both of us claim. We are forsaken castaways…

…but we do our job. As I stare down my opponent in this strip of land, I have a genuine respect for him. I know he does for me too. But we aren’t going to let that come in our ways of this war of attrition. As we stand our ground, I see a slight slackness in my enemy – maybe its fatigue catching up. Maybe its something else, I sense an opportunity, but I don’t show it – I know any sign of excitement in my face would be a warning sign for my enemy – I keep a poker face and wait. At last, he makes a false move – as tiredness washes over him, he slightly shifts himself a step back; I sense the opportunity for the kill, and seize it; I drive in, as he moves a bit further on his own, I use his own momentum to push him off the narrow strip almost out of it. He clings on, but I know its only a matter of time, that I can claim the whole land as mine. I feel a gloating come up within me. I am proud - from where I was to now, this is good. I started on my edge of the land and have in this time, captured the whole strip, I feel elated…

Alas, my elation lasts only for a few moments; as I am being pulled away forcibly from the land that I occupied with great difficulty – I see that providing my enemy an opportunity, to grab his lost ground; As I’m being recalled by my high command, I see with disappointment, at the lost ground…

…As the man in the aisle seat, 21C, gets up to go to the restroom in the plane, his left forearm wistfully looks at the armrest of the seat that it had occupied comfortably for the past 10 minutes and finds that the person in 21B, seat himself comfortably and occupying the armrest to his right…

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Haiku at a Junction !!

On the bumpy ride
of self discovery
On the path strewn
with pointers unseen
to future Unknown,
Why are the milestones
visible only in the rearview ?
Where are the signposts
promised at the cross-roads?
Frozen inaction, he thinks up,
irrelevantly, a non sequitur
"I've nary a clue
on Haiku too !!"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


There are a few times in your life that you pause and examine your gory past.

One such definite time is when the mortality deals you a kisami Zuki (or front jab) and smiles at you. I recently went past yet another birthday and I realize perhaps I will have less years to live than I have lived thus far - I used this to joke with a young pup: "You folks sleep walk through life having no idea if you are going or coming; alteast, us blokes are sure, we are going" !

The other triggers for introspection is when you are conscious of what you profess now as to what you did when you were much younger; the kind where you elevate yourself from the scene and look at the situation right on the ground - say you as a respected man of standing (hopefully) have to advice the above-mentioned young-pups on taking responsibility; it was much like what I used to wonder - if ever Krishnamachari Srikkanth becomes the coach of the Indian cricket team - he was pretty close to that, coaching the India A team - what would he ever say to, someone like Dhoni or Sehwag ? That they need get behind the line ? Sometimes, to fess up the truth, I feel so surreal to be advising my neice on what the right thing is !! Anyways, I'm digressing (blame it on old-age)...

Third such moment of introspection is your existing relationship and your part in it; as against what it was when you were at a different stage of your life. In this canvas, I looked at my relationship with my growing son; As a father, I know how i feel about him. This combined with my own mortality and perhaps my father's mortality - made me look back at my father's relationship with me...

To understand that better, we need to rewind a bit more. I've an older (really old, if you are reading this :) ) sister... In my dad's family of 4 siblings, she was the first kid in the extended and joint family - hence immediately adopted by all my dad's siblings and my grandparents as the princess. When she was born, it was not only a successful launch of a new product, it was a successful product also. If the legend has it right, the eco-system that revolved around that small house in chennai seemed to revolve around and for her - the hand-rickshaw-wallah, the opposite petty shop, and if i were to believe some stories, even weather in Chennai those days. So you get the picture - she was the darling of all and everyone. Then several years later, I happend. Forget it, I wasn't even Dravid's 180 to Laxman's 281. I was the opener's score in that match - do you recall who he was ? Do you recall what his score was ? My point exactly.

So as we grew, thing changed. For the better for my sister and for the worse for me. She actually studied much better than everyone else and first in the family to get into professional (medical) college. I was actually getting better at what I had embarked on - that is being the worst student of the class and kind of settled down in the last quarter of the class in my middle school. For my dad, who believed (past tense, since I suspect experience has changed him now) that getting to be a meritorius student is the ultimate for any growing kid, it was a pefect foil that my sis was feeding him. I, languishing where I was in the class, had no locus standi to convince him otherwise; for merely it would be an excuse - not that I had anything else in some field to show for. So I kind of settled for the 9th place in the two-person race vying to be the favourite in the family. Forget the game, like they say, I wasn't even in the same ground; forget the ball-park, I wasn't in the same league. I was collecting ducks playing street cricket, whereas my sis was scoring 100s in test matches. It was that contrasting.

With that being the background, some 20 years later, my son came along. I do know how I feel about him; and that made think - could it have been the same for my father ? At such an intersection (some call it cross-roads) of age and my feeling for my son, I paused and looked back. As I introspected, one incident stands out.

I think i was in the 9th or 10th standard and we were living in Bangalore. There was this guest from some other town, who had come home and wanted to go to Whitefield to meet the Godman, Sri Satya Sai Baba. He had asked me to accompany him to the ashram; the plan was to leave our house at 6AM, ride down to whitefield and have Sai Baba's darshan (at 6.45AM). He had also borrowed my dad's scooter to get there. As we started, the guest of ours, not perhaps used to riding a vespa, did not engage the clutch right - the scooter reared up like an horse on hindlegs. In any case, we did reach the whitefield ashram, but had just missed the morning darshan. Our guest decided to stay till the 9AM darshan, see the Baba and return. We did so and returned to our house around 10AM. The guest parked the scooter, gave the key to me and left.

As I went upstairs to my house, my mom told me that seeing how our guest was driving the scooter, my dad was very worried, specifically seeing how our guest had driven the scooter. To add fuel to the fire, since we were to return after the 6.45AM darshan and we had not returned yet, my dad had gone out searching for us. After about 10 min later, my dad comes into the house, sees me. I clearly recall now - the scene is right in front of my eyes - he holds my hand for what seemed a long time and there are tears in his eyes.

I realised then, perhaps transiently; and i realize now, the truth - although, my sister was (or is) his favourite and he may have liked my sister more, he loved us both - equally.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Alchemist

You are in your deep sleep,
your face set so serene;
Perhaps ensconced in a lovely dream
of fairy lands, rainbows and streams;
Your lips curl in smile,
in that frozen moment of reverie,
My dear son, you teach me,
The true meaning of complete tranquility !

You are my guru who questions my precepts.
That one day,
when you impatiently opened your present
threw that expensive toy away,
and played with the packing paraphernalia instead,
not a wee bit, I was disappointed,
For I had learned what a true joy means,
in your play, your face lighted up in 1000 neons !

Going against the grain of what you are,
I see you stay the tough course far,
As I stand watching you experience
the pain, frustrations and finally closure,
I now know – that is patience !

You have taught me unconditional kindness
by your guileless therapeutic hugs;
And that humor harmless
Could be humane and funnier than a biting wit.
Truly… you have been my master, my guru
You have taught me all and then a few,
An alchemist and a magician, to my daily blues.
Now let me,
In this world of grey moods of darker hues,
And in maze of rocks and shifting sands,
Allow me... let me navigate you through those gently;
If only you would clasp my outstretched hands.