Sunday, December 30, 2007

Act of Kindness

Interesting experience.

We stopped by a petrol bunk in the intersection of Ringroad (in Bangalore between Old Madras Road and Hebbal Road) and the road leading to the Sultanpalya. The gas station is in the southern corner of that intersection. As we stopped for filling up, I saw a A5 size photograph of "Manjunath" stuck on the glass enclosure with the bold "Employee of the Month". As usual the photo didn't match the actual individual and I asked the attendant who was filling up my car, pointing to another guy who resembled Manjunath, if that was indeed the guy in the photo. The current attendent nodded in affirmative; and immediately started to take extra care in filling up and was more courteous ! But thats the not the main point of this post...

Just before we left the pump, I sought Manjunath out and congratulated him. He was extremely happy and profusely "tanks-saar'ed" me. Then we had moved to fill air and 5m after we left and I could still see Manjunath in smiles.

As we left I told my co-occupant that Manjunath is still smiling and he'd probably feel good for the day. Then I realized, the very fact I found that its something that I can point out to someone else and the fact that I'm thinking about a day later, that "congratulations" has made me feel good too...

So, looks like any act of kindness that we do to others, helps us to get in touch with our own decent self, I guess. Is it an act of kindness on ourselves ?
ps: The intent of giving such a graphical (!) explanation of the location of the petrol bunk is, if at all, you pass thataway, you could stop by and do yourself an act of kindness ! :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Whats it all about ? Second year on...

Hmm... I missed the anniversary - not that of ours - but that of this blah'g. I completed two years of blogging on the 22nd Dec. I blissfully was asleep in Chennai on that day. So I guess, if the anniversary has been forgotten, then I suppose the marriage has gone stale :) or its moved on to the mature phase of "content" rather than the "niceties". I'd rather believe the latter !

Through the year, I changed the name of the blog to 'thegoodblahg', perhaps slowed down on posting, added cricket tag, moved to new Blogger from google and new look, started (and stopped) contributing to a "Media watch blog" with a fellow-bloggers (which is badly in need of more contributions, anyways) and opened up another private blog that is very very dear and close to us.

Anyways, on the first anniversary, I did a word-cloud (of what the blog was all about) using - which crawls the site and picks out the oft used words - i'm sure they are doing this syntactically rather than semantically ! I did one again now... Here is what its picked out...

But disappointingly, still no Floyd and Asterix - I guess those live in my heart and in my quotes!!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Resurrecting the Champ

This is not about the recent movie starring Josh Hartnett and Samuel Jackson, about a boxer, washed out, living out a lie and finding a person-in-a-hurry-to-fame as a conduit to spin a yarn... Infact, I should have named this as “Crucifying a Champ – A step-by-step instruction on how to take a perfectly cooked recipe, and screw it up into a distasteful and completely messed up mish-mash”.

In case, you have not caught on, this is about Dravid.

Here is the guy who has amazing technique, a great temperament for batting, perfect gentleman, a perfectionist and consummate team-man; take him, add some second-guessers to it, create a parallel structure and slowly watch him disintegrate; He has been now turned him into a perfect specimen for a case-study on psychological experiment. Freud would be rubbing his hands in glee and would call variety of people – Greg Chappell, Sharad Pawar, Zaheer Khan, Tendulkar and Mr. D himself – Dilip Vengasarkar to get their expert opinion, for his case-study.

In my belief, Dravid is a complex man – a perfectionist seeking excellence in whatever he chooses to do and driven more by intent rather than agenda. He is someone who would look at the goal and hope the team around him will look at the goal and align themselves to achieve it without the politicking and without their own agenda. If you had seen him bat in the last few innings, it is clear that he is going through a crisis of confidence. Just cannot believe someone who played so well in the final OD innings in England could decline so fast – I believe it has got to do more with mind than the technique.

Flash back to recent events: He won a series in West Indies and then in England. In England, as a captain, he decides that he would not enforce follow-on – hue and cry were raised by people who cannot hold a candle to what he has achieved; forget the fact that Vaughn himself admitted that had he been in Dravid’s place he’d done the exact same. Then when Dravid talked about having his tiring bowlers have a rest, Zaheer Khan (who was earlier docked in the Chappell-Dravid regime) came out and says he wasn’t tired. Add to it a constant by-play with the newfound we-are-close-friends-now – Tendulkar/Ganguly combine. Then we hear stories about how Vengsarkar wanted the batting order to be changed. And you would think that Selectors select players and then shut the eff up; and the rest is upto the captain. But you know, this is Vengsarkar – the man who wrote in Hindu 15 years ago that the only time India cricket does well is when it has Mumbai players in it. No wonder, Dravid talked about shelf-life of a captain. He returns and lets Sharad Pawar know that he no longer wants to be the captain. Mr. Vengsarkar, hurt that he was not being told first, does everything in his power to get Tendulkar as the captain. Fortunately, good sense prevailed in Tendulkar. The worse is yet to come – someone who played a blinder of an innings in England is “rested” from the team after one poor series at home. If he was rested, then he should have brought back to the later part of the series; but no.

Now touring Australia, inspite of two specialist openers in the 16 – Karthik and Sehwag, Dravid has been asked to open to accommodate Yuvraj in the final 11. I wonder if someone could ask the same of Tendulkar or Ganguly – could be natural choices as both have opened for dogs years in the ODs. Dravid, I’m sure, agreed to open, although he may have had other opinions... I've actually now become a proponent of euthanasia, after hearing about Dravid's T1, innings 1 labour.

This could be pop-psychology – but Dravid I believe is a person who strives for perfection; and that too with great intensity. When you do that, then most times even a simple thing could become complicated. Not saying opening is a simple thing – but Dravid would have built a lot of what-if-scenarios around it and would have made it more complex than it ought to be. He had already talked about the change-over between innings as one of the what-if scenarios. He also comes across as a person who can get quickly get into a siege mentality and sink deeper into crisis of confidence; and the more he gets deeper into, the more he gets into point of no return. Case in point is his stagnation as a run-scoring opener in the warm-up game and in the first-innings. We see a completely different and tentative batsman – the guy who is intent on battling it out in keeping his wicket intact rather than scoring runs.

This had happened once, earlier to Dravid – when he was dropped from the OD team for his ability to rotate the strike and score briskly. At that time, two things happened – one, he reinvented himself and more importantly, he had a strong support from the leadership – Ganguly as the captain, had insisted that Dravid to be in the team in the lower order and also got him to keep wickets. That kind of unconditional support and faith was required to get Dravid into the mind-set of a champion. The rest is history – his OD confidence carrying into stupendous test forms, setting up a host of hundreds and double hundreds, leading to famous test wins for India abroad.

I believe Dravid is more needed in the test team and in the middle-order to provide the solidity that others can build around it and he has still 2-3 years in him. He certainly needs that kind of leadership support now – if not from Kumble (who is not much dissimilar to Dravid in mental make-up), from his team-mates, like Tendulkars and Gangulys. Dravid being, perhaps, the most self-less in that group, would definitely make the others look good too.

However, not very evident what would such kind of unstinted support for Dravid would come from. One place where we do NOT have to look is, for sure, from the office of Chairman of Selectors!!

Ps: On a different note, can anyone find a logic in screwing up three positions within the batting order to get Yuvraj in – The opener slot, the #3 and #6 and sacrifice an opener, Dravid and Laxman ? Why cant we just drop one of the middle-order rather than screwing up the set-order!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Same Difference !

Flying to an alien land,
At 30kft, I peep down
The ice-scape,
The dry brown,
Cloud’s feathery-cape,
The Blue Sea,
The green trees,
All that I see
Look the same,
In whichever lat-long I am.

In the distant land,
I look up.
The blue skies,
The Bright sun,
The twinkling-stars,
The silent moon,
The crisp cool,
Makes me feel,
I’m at home;
Heavens the same,
Even in the land afar.

Then I look level,
into the eyes of another.
Averted, looking away,
In unspoken judgment.
Questions unasked
of each others intent.
And questions asked
of my existence,
in his land.

Ah, for the sameness
of His creation
And the differences
in ours!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Test of Temptations - Ramba, Menaka, Urvashi and Yana !

I had written (if I may add, very proudly) about how I quit smoking elsewhere in the blog (you should read that before you read this one)… Again during this travel, I passed by that gas station and I “one number kumbidu pottaen” to that monument.

I was also talking about it to someone this travel. The funny thing was the there is a huge (well, small anyway) untold story about what followed immediately after that event… In the earlier blog, it was like the nostalgia – I had given the good details and left out the ugly ones !

Here is the account of the other side of the story – the sultry temptress that came in all forms including a fat friend of mine, (who would take umbrage in calling him fat, but anyways, he isn’t reading this blog – so I can even get away by calling him intelligent), Mr.Purported-Devarajan and host of others that came in stunning sequence out of the Mumbai airport’s concrete-work. All sent by the creator for one sole reason – go forth and screw up this guy’s penance of denying himself the pleasure of smoking !

So here is the untold story that has been told/read never before in the public forum; now open to the whole wide-world audience of nine regular readers (ok, sue me, I’m reporting higher numbers in this blog’s TRP rating)…

As I walked out of the gas station as “proud quitter”, I needed to travel from Fort Collins to another small city in the US – Roseville – its near Sacramento and more importantly (to none who reads this blog), had a site where our company operates. Me, with a great amount of confidence and faith in my own ability to stick to my decision of quitting, checked myself into the hotel and into a “smoking room”. I knew, like all my romances, this is going to be short lived. I check in, and then the sun sets on the American empire – so I go walking in search of food places to eat- I find a Denny’s, but it is very conveniently situated adjacent to the gas station. So I walk across the Gas station and… and walk straight into Denny’s, had some food and turn my head away from the gas station and walk out. Ramba has been denied.

Cool, I thought to myself and when I returned back to Ft.Collins, I proudly checked myself into a “non-smoking” room. I was quite sure that I had kicked the habit, although it was only 3 days into abstinence, not really believing that this abstinence is going to be any different from every other resolutions that occurred on 1st of every January… The only material difference was, this wasn’t winter, but Fall, if that makes a lot of sense to the nine of you !!

Like jet-lag, sometimes the absence of nicotine in the blood-stream can hit you much later; atleast, so I theorize ! After all the phoren work, I return back to our country. Those days, there were no direct flights to Bangalore, but one has to come through one of the other cities and in the middle of the night with a 5-6 hour wait. So I wait in the airport. Second theory: Once you quit smoking, the other thing you want to avoid is to wait aimlessly (the first one you want to avoid is the fat friends that smoke). So, since I waited aimlessly, I saw the sultrier Menaka dance in front of my eyes; so those roved. Found Mr.Devarajan smoking; and I built a story in my own mind – I would go tap him on the back and say hello Deva – he could be even Thiyagarajan or Govindarajan or some other Rajan – but I decided he would be Devarajan. Ofcourse, he would be some other (what are the chances that he really could be Devarajan ?); he would naturally, look at me puzzled but its an opportunity to strike up a conversation – what you up to, are you also waiting for the Bangalore flight blah, blah and finally let go, “can I bum a fag ?” (yep, for all the smoker fag does mean just that) and lo behold, I’d have my smoke. I made my move; unfortunately, he also made his move – he walked away… Shoot, I sat back down. I thought, was it a message from the providence… As I wrestled bumming when he returned, it was 4.30AM and the PA called for the check-ins and Deva had moved with extreme speed… Menaka faded into black !

Ok, got through the 2nd celestial dancer, by the quirk of bad-timing of the PA system. The ultimate test was waiting to happen… As I checked in and was wandering around – guess who turns up – the fat smart guy who I begun to smoke with in college. Great!! And he offers me a fag – I’ve to hold my ground, I proudly tell him, I quit (without telling it has been only 3 days). He respects that, and doesn’t offer me any more. Are we done? No – the ultimate Urvasi is lurking around the corner – ignoring Prabhu Deva, she isn’t taking it easy! Another guy turns up from the same college – but this is the weird twist – he was not a smoker in the college, but had started after he had gotten a job in a remote and culturally strange-to-him town – the ennui had gotten to him and he had started smoking! So he says, hey G, you used to be smoker, here’s one!! Ok, Oorvasi, I’m on the penance thing – although it was very tempting watching her do the Helen dance (or Yana Gupta of these days, which is more sexier, I’m told – I wouldn’t know, anyways) and although I slyly open one eye to catch a part of it, I shut it out ! I say a firm NO… Oorvasi has been ignored too…

…and have stayed unscathed since! Although Koshy’s still offers temptations, but I think now I’m through all these dances, even if its Yana (doing Baboojeee... :)); maybe it’s the middle age catching up… We are still talking about “Quit-smoking”, by the way !!

Oh, it is perfectly possible; all of the above could be wild delusions of a nicotine-denied brain!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Land of the Brave!

Nana was living in fear – not fear of death or fear of something major; there was a stretch of train travel in the (infamous) Mumbai suburban train that he loathed – he loathed himself for being afraid. Nana (alias Narayan Iyer s/o Shri. Sivasankaran Iyer, the late priest at the Guruvayoor temple) had been a sheltered son of a very orthodox family down south. He had finished his B.Sc. and after trying for work in and around his native town without much success he landed in the big bad world of Mumbai in search of job – that was in January, nearly 6 months ago. He got one, as a technician in one of the Pharma factories at the suburbs, that paid for his living in a one-room shanty with shared toilet and bath room – more importantly, it helped him to save some money and send it back home to his widowed mother and younger sister.

Nana was scared about Mumbai – he had heard stories about how cold the city could be and how mirthless it is – where people go about doing what they do without bothering about someone’s plight. Coming from a villagish-town it was a huge culture shock for Nana. However, around after the 3rd month he had learned to cope with Mumbai. It certainly did not win him over, but he found ways to co-exist with it – it was symbiotic, he thought remembering his 12th standard biology – he needed Mumbai for the survival of his family and Mumbai needed people like him to remain aloof, cold and ruthless. He was insignificant; but by end of first month it had stopped bothering him to an extent and he knew he was becoming one among them. Even in the local train that took him to and from his job, he found people doing their own thing or on the opposite end of the spectrum sticking to the same group. He tried smiling at someone who seemed regular but couldn’t strike up a conversation due to his limited knowledge of Hindi. He then decided it was better to shut-up and not let people know that he was an outsider without the knowledge of Hindi or Marathi.

But then disaster struck. Someone seemed to take attention of him – in a way that Nana did not foresee or ever want. There was this tough looking man wearing a pyjama-kurta and his two cronies who seemed to find Nana’s nervous quietness funny. Initially, indirectly and then directly – they had started bullying him in one way or the other; more so after they found he was an outsider. Nana tried to switch compartments and avoid them. It worked for a week, but then they found him; the same about missing the train – did work for a while, but then it always came back to the same thing. Once they found him waiting for the train to go, got down and told him in no uncertain terms that he needs to take the train that they are in…

Since then, Nana lived in fear. He talked to someone at work, but didn’t help. He thought of changing his residence so that he doesn’t have to take that suburban train, but just couldn’t afford a place anywhere in the city. He was ashamed of his cowardice and lack of courage to stand up to those bullies; He also hoped that someone would come in his aid and help him out. But none did – its Mumbai and more importantly, it was not a movie.

Today he was returning from work – the July weather, matched his mood – seemed morose and threatened the evening with rain. He did not see the goons yet. He chose a place to sit that had his back turned towards the door with a hope that he would escape notice. The train had stopped in Borivli – out of the corner of his eye he saw the main-goon with his usual smirk and unlit beedi climb on to the train. Nana’s heart sank…

Nana further shrunk in his seat and waited for the inevitable tap on the head and the wicked grin. He didn’t get any – maybe the train was crowded enough for the goon to wade his way back to him, maybe goon had a change of heart, Nana hoped. As Nana waited, he felt a blow to his body, much more than what he had expected – he was stunned for a moment; then he lost his consciousness. When he regained it, he was completely disoriented, there was thick smoke and the compartment was in ruins. They were body lying all around; he heard screaming all around and people scrambling out. He quickly understood that a bomb had gone off and ripped through the compartment; along with the crowd and in the chaos he rushed out. Now outside, Nana’s instinct told him to run for safety, since there were screams that there could be more bombs inside. He found himself unhurt, by God’s grace and he thanked God (“Guruvayoorappa”) quickly and started to walk away – he wanted to be as much far away as possible when the next bomb went off.

For some reason, he turned back one more time – he saw the goon down on the floor, very much bleeding, very much conscious and very much in pain, with a piece of twisted metal over him. For the first time, in the Nana saw there was no bravado in Goon’s eyes, but a pleading and panic. Nana hesitated for a minute, flash of thought around God’s ways ran through his mind; “God’s ways”, it struck him – he climbed back in. He quickly inspected the goon’s condition – he seemed ok – there has been big injury to his arm and it was ripped away, but his legs seemed in good condition; and there was bleeding from the stomach, with a big ugly open wound. Nana told the goon to lie still (not sure if he was heard), tried to wrench the twisted metal away – he couldn’t and muttered aloud about being a vegetarian! He, also assessed that he cannot carry the weight of the goon; he decided to drag the goon under the metal to the door-way by his legs. He told the goon what he was going to do in broken Hindi; At the door-way, he let the goon’s legs dangled out, he pulled the goon to sit-up tilted him on his back and carried him out 20 meters away and dropped him on the ground, as yet another tiny blast went off inside.

Nana looked down at the goon. There was gratitude in those eyes; Not sure if those eyes saw fear in Nana’s eyes. Not today, as Nana turned to see if there was someone else he could help with…

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Empowerment Vs Delegation Vs...

A lot of times at work, we get told and tell our colleagues that we need to “empower” our folks. I was explaining to someone as to what is the difference between empowerment, delegation and abdication…

…and decided to state that thus:

The employee has

Then its,

heading for

Long term, manager does

Short term, manager does



When the work gets pushed to one level below




success at a “raised bar” level

New objectives, higher bar, mentoring outside of hierarchy

Allow to set objectives, make decisions, "promote" to next level (of hierarchy, complexity etc)





Reviews, coaching, hints on what-if scenarios, asking questions (but no answers)

set context, "gate" decisions with y/n





Change the employee out of current role

Operate at "activity/task" level

Makes sense ?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Toilet Humor

Heard in the toilet at our work place...

Middle Aged Guy: So , since it was raining so heavily yesterday, how did you get from the bus stop to your house ?

Young guy: My wife had come to the bus-stand with the umbrella

MAG: Oh... so you have been married only for 3 months right ?

YG: Yep...

MAG: My wife just told me to wait in some shelter until the rain stops

Thats just not it.

A bunch of folks in the toilet nodded in sympathetic been-there-experience-that kind of nod.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A good good Movie

Over the past weekend had watched a Tamil movie - Mozhi. It was a great great surprise - although I had read the review in the Vikatan, didn't really expect the movie to be great shakes. But was pleasantly, pleasantly surprised. During the movie and after the movie, I could clearly feel myself enjoying the story-telling - the movie was extremely well directed and well acted. The visuals were simple and good (with the whole family watching, identifying some of the locales in the foreign land :) ), pleasing, the backgrounds and the other supporting cast blending in nicely.

Essentially I saw the title "Mozhi" (Language) indicating that the two main protoganists relate to two different languages - one the music that he plays and the other the silence, she always hears. The hero, Karthik is a musician by craft and Archana is deaf-mute. Karthik who sees Archana and falls for her show of guts even before he knows of her disablity. When his resolve becomes stronger once he discovers her disability, one doesn't feel, its 'that tamil movie thing'. For, in essence, Karthik comes across a very decent human being, who is sensitive to people who really need that touch. The interactions between the professor (who is stuck in the 1984 due to his son's accidental death) and Karthik have been very sensitively woven into the story. The sorrow that laces the interaction is poignantly poetic. At one scene, when Karthik tries to reason with angry Archana, the professor intrudes with a 1984 non-sequitor. Karthik, for a fleeting nanosecond shows his annoyance as Archana walks away, but then stays with the professor to hear his story. Very beautifully done by the director, Radhamohan.

There are several such moments in the movie. Even Prakash Raj's comedy is not out of line. His comic inter-play with the association secreatary and off-the-cuff-oh-btw one-liners are very enjoyable and do not jar the story line like the regular comedy-track we see in other movies. PR should do more of this - comedy and production ;). Swarnamalya's role as Sheela is underplayed; inspite of my bias, I did believe she too did a decent job, particularly when she talks about her life to Karthik.

Karthik played by Prithviraj is aptly done. If you can pardon his accent, he has beautifully played his role to the T. No overt and overacted emotions, no wasted motions in his actions - very nicely done. Jyotika is very good in most places depicting the character that believes 'what one does not know will hurt you'; and just when Karthik draws her out, she retreats back behind the iron-curtain. She could have used her eyes better, given that she had no dialogue to fall back on.

Although the story ends predictably, you don't begrudge the ending as cinematic. At the end of it, you'd actually think it would be injustice if they don't get together.

The music, by Vidyasagar melts into the story. The editing is sharp with no extraneous scenes and keeping the storyline going. Even the bulb/bell thing that can appear quirky, gives you a touch of humor. In all, a great viewing that touched me in a way that I didn't expect. The taste still lingers on.

Infact, last week I was telling one of my friends that one way to get his young teen-age kids understand "values" is to get them to relate to a cause that is greater then themselves. That way they would realize how fortunate are we. I've told him that he should see this movie as a first step!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sound bites

The state Governor who had earlier in the evening, when elicited for his views on four young children of the K.R.Halli slums being badly mauled by stray dogs, retorted pointing to the need that we Human Beings, as a more evolved species need to be compassionate to animals, now slept soundly in his fifteen acre mansion far away from and completely immune and oblivious to the cacophonous din created by those pack of dogs in the slums of K.R.Halli in the middle of the night...

It is a singular sentence inhabitants of K.R.Halli go through all their lives.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Humour at its Subtlest best !

Although this blog is for original (!) creations (!?!), there is this recent joke that I heard that deserves a mention; of course, attributing it to the oft quoted author - A.N.Onymous:

Q: What do you get if you roll an atheist, dyslexic insomniac into one ?
A: You get a person who stays awake all night wondering if there is dog !


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Reel justice !

I’m sure most of you would have followed either in great or peripheral interest regarding Sanjay Dutt story on the papers; if you were in the periphery, then you would have been brought into the maelstrom by yesterday’s and today’s coverage. Thankfully, I had meetings uptil late last night (31st) and hence was fortunate not to turn on the TV. But then, one can run, but cant escape – the news was on the first page – "Sanjay Dutt gets 6 year-prison-term"

My sympathies do not lie with Sanjay Dutt – He may not be a terrorist; but he is guilty on several counts – he broke the law, and he tried to un-make by trying to diabolically conceal the first breach. And he should have been incredibly stupid to do it. Or even incredibly drunk with celebrity psychology of “I can do anything and get away with it”.

However, what is laughable is the content story in the Hindu, on Sanjay Dutt’s arrest.

Since Sanjay Dutt is from the stable of the above - it is not surprising he was obtuse; looks like the whole film industry seem to believe that one could break the law and s/he can get away with it on perfectly legitimate grounds stupidity ! What does the film industry think? Or want ? That they could script a perfect court-room scene, where Munnabhai after the crime, would ask for leniency on grounds of "Jaadu ki pappi" and one last call to his beloved and the judge would break down, pound the gravel and let him go, with one year suspended prison term; then the hero, hand in hand with his dear wife and lovely kids, would walk out and break into a song as the credits roll?!

Look at the roll-of-honour in the news item – Each one of them is Nani Palkhiwala in their own right and understand the law better than the care-takers of Indian Justice and legal system. Victim of Conspiracy ? Hello ???!! Anyone home? What next, Monica Bedi would start expounding as to why faking passports is a perfect normal thing to do in this country?

I wish the Justice Kode hauls all their collective asses wholesale into couple of days into the prison on the charges of contempt of court, off their wonderland and get them into the real world !!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fractured !

I had some interesting discussions in the past 2-3 weeks. I’ll classify those as:

Lack of Dignity of Labour:
In reacting to a comment on the blog about Apathy, I had talked about the “dignity of labour” or general lack of, in a booming city like Bangalore. Everywhere you go, we get to see a predominance of this mentality, where we believe what we are doing is somehow much bigger or important than what others do. This is manifest so starkly in the swank offices and how the generation of IT folks treat non-IT people, even in their own company. I’ve seen many a times, that people swish past the security at the reception, looking elsewhere but showing their badge with so much “nonchalance” at the security. Its very hard to understand this – I don’t believe it takes much for us to look at the security, smile at hir and then show the badge. The minimum respect that we could give the security for the job s/he is doing is to look into hir eyes before flashing the badge. The same happens to other “helpers” – the coffee boys, the helpers etc. It may make no difference to us if we know their name; but simple thanks with their names would go a big way for them to feel proud about their work. They are part of the eco-system that we have created.

Fashionably dissing the Doing Urge:
Few days ago, we had an interesting discussion at Lunch. Apparently someone was run-over in the Hosur road. This had enraged the people of that area and they had blocked the traffic for 2hrs and delayed the office goers for 2-3 hours. The "blockers" were dissed by one and all and to me it was a bit disturbing. My point to them was this: “Who is better - those guys who were incensed and wanted to do something about it and did (although that was inappropriate) or us folks, who just sit in our car for the traffic to clear"? From a societal level, I'd pick the former; Atleast they try to be the agents of change in a convoluted way... Convoluted, since its most likely their means is more a manifestation of anger rather than a thought out need to change. Of course, like someone said, there is option not to pick both, but the ones who actually took the people to the hospital. Yes. thats the best option. But at an unemotional level, for the injured, it makes a difference, but to that locality none; since accidents will continue to happen at that spot.

So there are three kind of people

1) One who seeks to change the system (the protestors)

2) One who seeks to help the victims of the system (the medical helpers)

3) The ones who do nothing (in the car waiting for protestors to go away)

#1 above may not have thought out well to initiate the change - but its disturbing to me that people who do nothing tend insult and to pick holes at people who are trying to do something.

I wonder if a combination of both above - i.e., disrespecting people for what they do, specifically by the prosperous few and those prosperous few doing nothing for removing the ills that ails us in this city, resulted in the chaotic scenes when Rajkumar passed away. The divide seems to be getting bigger and deeper. A little less of back to basics in politeness and respect and most importantly some introspection, would help this city, I would guess.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Great Indian Apathy !

Of all the writing that Soliloquist does, so eloquently, I may add, this one stood out for me. The article was about the Indian apathy, and how it was tough to get someone in a crowd, that too a crowd claiming some commonality of purpose (like belonging to the same company), to come out helping out in a tight situation. The blog had concluded this is endemic and named it as a Great Indian Apathy.

I do believe there is apathy that prevails in our society and there is also an implicit acceptance of “fate” and “destiny” for even simpler failures; or attributing somebody else’s discomfort or misfortune to it; and hence no pointing in to getting into the situation or helping out. In spite of all that, I do think people have in them the innate need to help someone else out, when someone is in trouble. Yes, most of them would not put themselves in a situation when it threatens themselves or their loved ones security. Otherwise, I believe they tend to.

As there is an example in that article, here is another – an apt illustration of both ends of the spectrum. For passengers transiting between the international airport to the domestic airport, a bus facility is available to take them, with an hourly frequency or so. Prior to the departure, the passengers wait in a hall, with minimal facilities – but, of all the incongruities, a facility to charge their mobile phones – mirroring the explosive growth of that specific industry. A month ago, I was in one such bus. As the bus was leaving, one old gentleman hurried out asking the driver to wait. As we were waiting, we were treated to two gentlemen (gentlemen is really anomaly), who were loud, irritating and really irreverent to both the situation (middle of the night) and to the people around. The kind of topics they chose to talk to went on the lines of how they could make money of their jobs, how to outwit their management and how things in Mumbai were so bad etc, but safely taking refuge in speaking in their local language. As one of my relatives had said, they were the outstanding example of how IT industry in India has encouraged and nurtured mediocrity. Then the old man returned a bit harried – a person next to him queried as to what happened – apparently the old man had left his phone to charge and forgot about it – by the time he had gone back in for it, that was gone. His neighbour, immediately offered his mobile phone for the old man to call in his number – the old man was a bit tentative, since it was a long distance call, since his phone number was that of Bangalore’s. As this was going, the two idiots went on their view of how futile the whole exercise was. That did not deter the neighbour – he did get the number, called it himself; and gave it again to the old man to keep trying his number, with a hope that someone would answer the call. Unfortunately, nothing came of it.

Somehow I believe, the good neighbour’s name could be Avinash. Or Avinash Pathy. I’d have loved to say “Sol, Meet Avinash or the normal Indian, A. Pathy :-) ”.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Game


Vish looked forward to those few times in a week, where he would match his wits with his close friend Shanky. When both have time off from their worldly worries, they would typically get together with their better halves at one of their places – chat for a while on the general 'state of the universe', do a community-dinner after which Vish and Shanky would retire to play their favourite game – “Battle of wits”. In the game, they would pick a situation, a setting and each start with a set of pawns and start maneuvering them in a way that one of them would win by reaching the goal.Vish is usually the one that creates opportunities and dons the role of a skilful attacker, where as Shanky would either staunchly defend or counter-attack. Today was one such day – they had good food, the kids had retired and their wives had gone out to another room to watch an absorbing 24x7 reality show unveil. The game had started. Vish had planned his moves a few days ago and was well prepared. But he knew Shanky was a formidable opponent. He watching Shanky intently – Shanky seemed to activate an unconnected pawn… Hmmm…Absorbing…thought Vish.

Right Here

Hari was a typical bachelor living in the IT city working on one of those typical and huge companies that had just moved out of city onto the typical outskirts location. Usually, he rode to work on his bike; but for the past couple of days his bike had given up on him and both his friends Vishwa and Shankar were out of town on an holiday – so hitching a ride was ruled out. He was left with no option but to take the company bus for just this day, after getting permission from the transport-coordinator in the company. He was waiting in the bus-stand – he saw several of his colleagues that he couldn’t even recognize. The bus was arriving and Hari just went along with the human flow and got into the bus – as he got in, he looked for empty seats and found one in the center of the bus. As he sat down near the window, he saw someone, three rows ahead, looking at him – it was Shilpa!!!! The very same Shilpa that he met through a common friend nearly two years ago, the very same Shilpa that he went out with, the very same lovely girl that he had built his dreams of his life around; and unfortunately the very same girl that he broke up with and they drifted apart. And later, which made him look back with what might-have-beens and although in denial, a tinge of regret, sometimes. Shilpa had turned around and smiled at him. He smiled back, tentatively as she turned away. He could not figure out if she was glad to see him… As he sat there wrestling with his thoughts, his mind went into shades of sepia flash-back.

He found a great amount mental fulfillment and a sense of completion, in Shilpa’s company – that was very much true in their discovery phase. After, the initial meeting a friend’s place, he soon they found that they liked to be in each others company; that started into meetings without the friends. Then slowly, it became a standard practice of going out regularly. The thing that Hari liked about Shilpa is her simplicity and a certain refreshing openness. But, as they say, familiarity breeds, well, familiarity. In that, Hari also found that, on the other end of the spectrum, she was quite fixed on a few things – like some of her interests and goals for life and Hari’s had no common ground. At that time, neither of them wanted to make the compromise and gradually they came to see the differences to be far greater than what they enjoyed together. And without citing the standard irreconcilable differences, they broke up. Shilpa had also moved out of the town on an assignment for about 6 months and that made the break a bit easier. But there were times that Hari always wondered of what could have been. As he grew up in his job, he now believed that those perceived differences between them weren’t that great and there could have been compromises and meeting mid-way. He often wondered if Shilpa felt the same way, but never did take the initiative to call her; as there was another inner voice that told him otherwise and it will be headed towards another heartbreak.

He was broken from his reverie, as the bus slowed down to the next stop. He looked at her direction and she was looking at him. She signaled to him, imperceptibly, to come join her in the space next to her. As Hari was getting up, few more of the employees had gotten onto the bus. He found that a fat person, occupying the space next to him, blocking his path out and at the same time, another guy, who seemed to know Shilpa well occupy the seat next to Shilpa. Hari was disappointed; he imagined he saw some appear in Shilpa’s eyes, but quickly she turned and started talking to the person next to her, as the aisle got crowded, with a few folks standing and line of sight to Shilpa was blocked. Something told Harish that would be the last time he would see Shilpa for a long time; and what-might-have-been would remain intact!!

Again, Elsewhere

Vish looked at Shanky – Shanky had skillfully used all his pawns to thwart Vish. Vish gave up for this day and conceded to Shanky – but his time would come. Looking up from the large board game, they found that their wives had also joined them in the game room watching the scene unfold. One of them sighed, “You two should really stop playing with people’s lives – that was a near-miss. Poor those-two !!!”.

Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva smiled at their consorts benignly.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Never Ending Story


Aabid Aleem was day-dreaming. Infact, it was dusk and the night was falling softly after another dreary, cold, dull day. In the gloaming, there was an eeriness that looked very un-natural. Aabid wished he was with his wife – ah she was something - and the smiling infant he was looking at. Instead, he is here in a cold outpost, supposedly guarding an army station. As an army sepoy, he has never seen the real enemy from across the border, but he has come face to face with militants who always seemed to find ways to start something when it seemed the situation is turning to normal. There has been a lull for a while, and he hoped this time it was permanent. In about 3 hours he’d have some one to relieve him – he would go, have the army rations and hear the crude banter from his bunk-mates. There had been no enemy activity of late and Aabid was happy that his valley is again turning towards peace. Perhaps, it would be like old times, when he grew up in his small village

Aabid let his mind wander, the twilight making him a bit tired and he thought about his village.

Aabid grew up in a very small village, nestled in the valley. He was the last of the 5 children. His father was also in army, but retired by the time Aabid had grown up. He had a small orchard that he was looking after. As far as Aabid could recall he had lot of fun growing up. Fahad, his neighbour, had become his inseparable friend. There were times when he used to live and sleep at Fahad’s house and always found Fahad's family, especially his father, who he called Chachoo, very kind to him and very indulgent. Looking back, at certain times he felt that Chachoo made no distinction between Fahad and himself – treated him as his own son and fondly called him Abu. As they grew up, he found the character of the valley was changing slowly, but definitely. There were more news about fights, deaths, people coming from across the border with weapons and to counter that more and more army coming in – Aabid always watched the army with fascination, since long ago he had decided that he would follow the footsteps of his father and brother there. In this transformation, he found that Chachoo and his own father had very differing views; and increasingly, their debates were heated. Chachoo seemed to think that root cause of the problem was the government and they ought to have their own way of choice of freedom. Fahad imbibed similar views from Chachoo; except that he was more militant and was in trouble several times and was questioned by the army. Slowly, as the philosophies diverged, so did the chasm in their relationship. Chachoo moved out; He also heard that Fahad was taken by the army for one last time for questioning and he never returned. Aabid looked back it with a certain poignant nostalgia and wish it would have been different. But life moves on and has a way to blur the past and getting us to live in the present, he thought wryly. An year ago, he had gone home for leave, his parents had found a perfect girl for him – Afraa – she was the most beautiful girl Aabid had laid his eyes on and he instantly agreed to the nikah. After the marriage, he spent the 17 most wonderful days of his life, taking Afraa out to see the sights of the valley – everything seemed more beautiful, fresher and alive. Afraa, initially shy, turned out to be the one with the lovely smile and mischievous glint in her eyes. Aabid rued that he had to report to the camp so soon, as the militants had stepped up activity. He had returned home for a brief leave 4 months ago and Afraa was pregnant at that time. A week ago, he had received a letter from Afraa, stating that he would have to contend with another man in her life – their son and had sent the picture of a tiny bundle ! He immediately started dreaming about his son’s life – maybe his son will have a “Fahad” as a friend, maybe he would name him Fahad. Aabid also knew that like his father before him and like himself, his son would grow up and join the army – perhaps not as Sepoy, but as an officer. Aabid would to see to that that his son will have all the education that he did not have. He dreamed about going back to his village. He had re-read that letter several times. He turned toward the light and took out the letter one more time...with no knowledge of what was laying in wait for him...


Faaris Umar lay in wait. He was immovable and had become part of the fauna around. Faaris believed in destiny and in fact did not have any compunction on what he had done in the past and what he would do in the future. At some point in time, he had self-doubts about his path, but he always shook them off. Although he believed that his starting point was right, sometimes in the moment of doubt, he wondered if it was belief or revenge. Belief in what and revenge for what? However, he knew he was too far into this and there was no way out. He no longer yearned for his family or his friends; long ago, he was like anyone else, with close friends and sons and daughters. Some of it was taken away from him and some he gave up in pursuit of his path. When what was dear to him was taken away, he turned to arms with all his heart and mind. He, with his kills, had swiftly grown in the organization and had even gone across the border for special training and strategic planning. Because of his importance, of late he had hardly taken part in a mission, but today was different. The situation seemed to turn to normal and it was being talked about that there could be lasting peace in the valley; and people were also getting tired of war all the time – being pushed to live in fear of both the army and the militants. Faaris was disappointed that the very same people, for whose rights he was fighting for and laid his life and his dear one’s life on the line, had turned weak. He was going to show them for one more time; that it is possible to defeat the army.

He lay in wait silently and motioned quietly to his troops of nearly hundred, who were waiting in the woods, a stone-throw away from the perimeter. The first obstacle was that soldier who was sitting beyond the electrified perimeter in a narrow gap in the wall with the intruder-alarm switch at his reach. Faaris knew every detail and they had effectively dug below the electrified fence. All he needed to do now is to get to the guard and get rid of him and signal to his troops to tunnel through the perimeter. He waited patiently and knew soon an opportunity will come by and it did. That idiot who had been dreaming for the past hour and had turned his back now to get closer to the lamp. Stealthily. Faaris slithered towards the soldier, with the unsheathed knife between his teeth, as the soldier started reading a piece of paper.

Another Story Begins:

Aabid took out the letter from the tunic, glanced at his watch – another hour to go and started reading it. He did not see the sly shadow of a figure coming close to him, until the time he saw the gleam of the blade. He turned around with his hand going toward the alarm and the other at his gun. As he turned, his eyes softened in recognition…

Faaris was very close to the idiot, he silently took his army-issue knife out from between his teeth, and as he had done several times…

Aabid could not feel any pain as the knife slashed his throat and the sound gurgled out, ebbing out with the blood; as he hung on to Faaris’ shirt as he was gently laid down, in dying pain, he mouthed the word “Abba”, smiled at Chachoo and died in his arms…

As Faaris slashed his knife, he recognized the soldier – it was Abu, the kid he had loved like his own son and yearned to see after his own son’s disappearance. Momentarily devastated, he caught the falling Abu and cradled him in his arms. As he gently lowered the dying soldier down to the ground, he had heard Abu mouth “Abba”; the letter and the photo had slipped from his arms and smudged by the blood. Faaris, laid Aabid down gently, let out an anguished, silent cry and shed tears for his dead Abu; he picked the photo up, looking at smiling infant, who could have been his grandson; and who probably would be pitched against him in a few years time, if both of them make it through... He pocketed the image, stood up and steadied himself a bit. He seem to pause for a moment in thought - then wiped his eyes and signaled to his soldiers. Faaris would have his victory tonight, but looking at Abu, he knew it would be an exercise in futility. Yet, he will not be the one to end this cycle of madness.

Note: The picture above is a movie poster of Oliver Stone's Platoon. That imagery kind of stayed in my mind and it seemed pretty apt for the story.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Behind the block !

Funny, you think you make time and you actually get very very busy. I've been away from the blogging part of the world for a while, although have been reasonably up-to-date in checking out what my "regulars" have blogged of late. Even after choosing to work "reduced" (really ? does that work ?) hours this summer, I'm not finding time to write. So, I guess that does mean that I'm actually achieving the goal which I had started out to, when I decided to work reduced hours... (However, what would my BH say ?!!!). In any case, with the reduced hours, I find at work, I'm completely focussed at all times and getting to complete most things that I ought to; and have no time to do anything else other than work !! Although the work follows me home during off-hours, its at least at my beck and choice.

Going back to the reduced work hours and the goals for it, I've been reading a bit - also started another blog, about something thats very close to my heart.

Anyways, just back from a good vacation in the middle of nowhere (for about 6d), where no access to computer and net. When I touched the computer it was to transfer the photographs ! The time off was really good. I've a few things to write about:
  • About 5-8 stories that I have the plot for
  • On my thoughts on getting a puppy at home
  • The Great Indian Apathy - a Contra view to Soliloquist's
  • The novel that I promised to complete by end of this year, I've the total outline (any ideas on how to publish it on the blog - doing the whole novel would be tedious to read)
  • About several other things
Will post something by end of this month. In the meantime, do not lose your finger nails and move back from the edge of your seat ! ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Prize Erosion

Everybody feels a warmth, when a 14 year old comes on to the scene, with a certain earnestness that binds you in a thrall, in spite of his prodigious talent, a certain humility that is endearing and that touches you and a certain sincerity that awes you. You adopt him virtually, watch him grow, watch him succeed, watch his intensity to say the right things and do the right things. He inspired generations - people of his time and people before him. You egg him on to be more successful, gloss over his errors, explain away his failings and glorify his successes. As the cliche goes, every mother would want him as her son-in-law and every father, as his son...

... then sh*t happens. He grows old - life's entitlement and insecurities catch up; leading to demands that is in the vicinity of presumptuous impudence. He starts thinking - "although I make tons of money, its sacrilege to have asked me pay for my (Ferrari) toy as per law of the land". Or "How low would these men stoop to question my commitment to my craft" (although what he's crafting these days are turning out to be quite crappy) and so on.

But then, like I said, age happened. The sheen is wearing down; the rust is showing on the humility and sincerity. With age, not only innocence erodes; with it goes a litany of other things too.

Oh btw, Happy Birthday Boy ...or whatever !

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Quo Vadis Tu !

Having hit a block on writing, I took the easier path – write on what I’m up to… An update to the September’06 Quo Vadis

I am reading:

  • My experiments with Truth – M K Gandhi
  • Smart moves - Carla Hannaford

I am listening to:

  • My wife, as always… (this does not change)
  • Mish mash of Tamil mp3, ranging from oldies to newies.
  • FM 100.10 on my car radio – the Carnatic channel, a perfect antidote to the late evening traffic

I am amused by:

  • This jpeg that someone sent me – brings a smile,

    without having to roll on the floor laughing!
  • (On the lines of Devon Malcom’s or Courtney Walsh’s art of batting,) Rahul Gandhi’s attempt at politics (or realpolitik, if I may add). It, my friends, is worth ROFLing!
  • Sachin Tendulkar’s outrage on being questioned. We, the lesser mortals, forget – God is next only to him.

I am looking forward to:

  • Cautiously, restart of Karate classes; about a month into it and I’m feeling good, good, good!! (except for the closing 15m of the class, when I'm ready to drop dead and Sensei pushes for that last effort !)
  • Hopefully, running the Bangalore mini-Marathon (at least 10Km) – not sure if I’m training enough.
  • My “magnum-opus” – its just seems around the corner, just behind the (writer’s) block and clouded by the lack of motivation (to write, to complete)

I am frustrated by:

  • Sometimes, Parenting – it’s a two-step-one-step thing – with forward and backward thrown in somewhere there. Wish could lay my hands on that book...
  • Our tendency to admire the problem and not get into the details to actually solve it, methodically; but continue to talk of how the situation needs to change

I am impressed by:

  • The Sri Lankan team – who have proven that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Even with two losses to Canas recently, Federer’s dismantling of Roddick in Australian Open and this shot by him (sorry, cant post the clip - but trust me, that return of Roddick's smash is just out of the world) !! Awesome!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Bore beyond
my eyes
Into my head -
See wires crossed
Neurons lost.
An inchoate mass
of ocean of thoughts
Rise in noisy waves
fall to a still-born end.
Strident voices
In a cacophonous cadence,
Shutdown my senses.
I arch tense;
Body spins -
masking the din.
Past, tense twirls,
quiet unfurls.
Senses rebound
coherent and sound.
Spy deep into my brain -
Beyond turmoil and storm,
In that lucid calm,
I'm all heart...and pain.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The True Blue !

World cup is upon us, one more time. For someone who has followed all the world-cup closely since 1979, here are few of my predictions:

  1. The media, afflicted by slightly altered mad-cow disease (aka foot-in-the-mouth disease), would whip up the mob hysteria (#2 below) and portray as if the Indian team is made up of 11 Daniel Craigs, draped in blue. They would gently goad every other expert they could lay their microphone on to say that India is the favourite to win. And every one of gullible us would fall for that.
  1. Collectively, as a nation we will go into ecstasy when India wins a match, even if it is against Bangladesh and frenzy when it loses to far superior side like South Africa. After every win, the reporters from every news channel and otherwise, will interview a horde of supporters on the street, who will chant mindlessly, “jeetega, bhai jeetaga, India World cup jeetega”. Likewise, after every loss, the horde would want everybody’s head from the team, including the head of Kiran More, even though it does not matter if More has less to do with the team.
  1. Shah Rukh Khan will appear for Pepsi, Videocon, Vicks, Dog Biscuits, Brooms and whatever brand he could make money on and urge India to win with a fake emotions and urge Indians to support the team with faker tears. Last heard, marketing gurus from those companies are getting together to create a pot-pourri of blue motif – that has SRK, in blue colors, gulping all those down and making a clean sweep of the opposition (with that broom, of course).
  1. Every regional channel will ardently try to imbibe the fever; and do a poor copy of the original copy. You would the likes of Sadagopan Ramesh, Tinu Yohannan and Narasimha Rao (the cricketer) giving completely c(l)ued-in responses to completely inane questions from the completely clueless anchors. Yet, that would still be bearable compared to the motor-mouths!! (refer #6 below).
  1. The morning absenteeism at conferences in cafeteria of already highly productive IT companies will rise; resulting in cricket ball-talks shifted to the post-lunch work session. At the same companies, due to better connectivity to the net and better TVs, a lot more people will stay overnight and work; and claim late-work dinner and tea. The midnight-oil will be burnt to make the net-work.
  1. Motor-mouth Charu Sharma and his side-kick Mandira Bedi will be on again. They will, of course, ensure that they have their informed opinions heard ahead of experts, who have only played a bit more cricket than them. Thankfully, Set Max did not win the ICC telecast bid for the next umpteen years. But, yet again, the next set of motor-mouths would be as bad as the above two.
  1. MMs would interview slightly-drunk and slurring Indian movie stars at the ground ahead of the game. The IMS would go, “Yes, India will win, blah, blah” – goes to fit the tag line perfectly – you can take an Indian out of the streets, but you cannot take the streets out of Indian (refer #2 above).
  1. There will be horde of product-launches – all with a cricketer acting abysmally and endorsing them. And each one of the cricketer would be eulogized and their houses stoned. Some gullible (ref #1 above) would even believe that a cricketer did not turn up for a match, since he was shooting a commercial.
  1. Dravid, Pawar, Vengsarkar, Sehwag and Chappel will all maintain that Sehwag is one big game away from huge score. Unfortunately, that is (but hopefully isn’t) the game, India does not get to play. Last heard, Kapil was to be recalled to the team, since he is also a “proven” performer in the past. Gavaskar wont be; in any case, he'd be busy criticizing the Aussies for their ethos and their work ethics.
  1. Countless companies would seek viewers to SMS their opinion on Sehwag’s inclusion, as he’d play every match to reach that huge score in the next match. Everyone would make money off it, the business, the advertisers, the channel, the telcos and Sehwag. The billion blue folks would sit smugly, knowing that they have made a difference in Sehwag’s selection (team, not shot), through their SMS.
  1. Regardless of all the brouhaha, the Television sales would go up. Stupidity would become the currency and people would fall for any marketing campaign and go in for better TVs , in a hope to see all of the above with much greater and crystal clarity. I did.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Home Alone

Peter was tired – he could not clearly make if he was tired, sleepy or jet lagged. He was tossing and turning in his bed for a while. He had drifted in and out of sleep several times. But now, he was very much awake, wide awake. He had just returned from his business travel far east, where all his firm's manufacturing has been relocated to. Peter managed the supply-chain for his company and he was quite good at it; and very successful. Although he has been typically traveling at least once in a quarter, recently, they have been becoming more and more of an ordeal. The enchantment and the mystique of the Far East no longer held magic for him. On travel, he yearned to be back home and he had started missing his family more – it looked to him that travel made him realize how little time he spent at home with his lovely wife, Simone and their kids – (just) teen-age daughter Jess and their son Jamie. On the flight home, he had played his long-forgotten favourite band, Pink Floyd’s music on his iPod. The lyrics,

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells

stuck and he replayed it over and over in his head ("Hmmm...I should get back to listening to them more often", he told himself). Come tomorrow, Sunday, he would be at Church hearing those soft spoken sermons, sitting close to his family. "Damn", he muttered, "if only I could sleep tonight".

He twisted around and looked on the other side – his 3 yr old son Jamie was sleeping against Simone. Jamie was special; literally he was a special child needing a different kind of attention and upbringing. Peter worried about Jamie a lot – mostly because, he had no idea what the future held for Jamie and if he would be independent, after they were gone. One saving grace for them seemed that he was the second child behind Jess; and hopefully Jess would be there for Jamie after them. But, Jess – Jess, Jess, Jess, he sighed aloud. He had stopped by her room, before getting to bed – she was asleep, but his lips seemed to be screwed in anger and brow arched in sleep – perhaps going through a bad dream. As he had stood by the door-way, watching her, he did sense some of the struggle Jess is going through – he had no time for her; and Simone was overwhelmed handling and taking care of Jamie. Even if Jess was going through some problem, neither of her parents would know; worse not only they did not have time, but were perhaps telling Jess on what she should be doing, without even understanding what she is going through. Deciding that he would spend some quality time with her this weekend, he had gone to closer her bed, bent down, looked at her closely – his heart swelled; he had softly kissed her forehead, adjusted the blanket – Jess seemed to cuddle up and relax in her sleep, lips uncurling and brows straightening out.

He sighed aloud again and swore – perhaps too loud, that Simone stirred in her sleep – she opened her eyes and smiled weakly at him. He already felt guilty to have woken her up, when he let himself in the first time. Now his tossing and turning had woken her up again. Peter was sure that Simone’s day would have been swamped working with Jamie, keeping up with him and various programs. As Simone drifted back to sleep, Peter continued looking at her – he ran his fingers through her hair; he loved her a lot and was constantly amazed at her dedication to the cause; although he could not recall the last time he told her that - that of his love and his appreciation. He resolved again – to create and spend some time with her. And with Jamie and with both of them. And with Jess. Simple, he realized, he just needs to spend more time at home.

This line of thought distressed him further and anguished him. Peter realized that he is not only going sleepless, but he was creating possibilities of waking up the family. He got up softly, paddled out – swallowed a sleeping pill and went and lay down in the guest room. As he slowly drifted back to sleep in the guest room, he thought tomorrow could be a different day. Atleast he was not in the foreign country amidst of a different culture and language. At least, he was home. In that knowledge, Peter slept… alone.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

50 ways to Peeve/Grieve/Cleave your caller !

Excerpted from the yet to be published book of “50 ways Peeve, Grieve and Cleave your caller – how to handle the Tele-marketeers, who call you and solicit to sell something that you told them that you didn’t need yesterday morning, evening, today morning and 5 minutes ago”. Randomly picked a few of the methods, the same way my phone number gets randomly picked by the Soliciting Sally (aka Sai Lakshmi). The more and more these methods are adopted my more and more folks, we will hopefully see a drop in calls and these tele-marketeers truly forming "do not call registry" amongst themselves.

#5: Seek every bit of info
Ask Sally for all the information about the product – each and every bit…every bit. AND the bit, OR the bit and XOR it, then ask again. If it’s a credit card, ask her to read out the rules and instruction at the back of the form and explain each and everything of what it means. Ask her for comparisons between various credit cards. If you feel like, ask her about the origin of credit card – if possible quickly google for it and set out to educate her. Here Sally may insist someone could meet you, politely decline, saying unless you understand of what it mean you could not waste time meeting anyone. But ensure that Sally understands that you are interested in the product. At some point in time in this analytical detail conversation with a scientific bent, Sally is bound to give up.

#15 Sell back to them
Pick a favourite product of yours or the product of the company that you work for. Pick a product that she is very unlikely to have – like a parallel processing computer – Ask here if Sally has one. If not, launch into a monologue as to how that would change her life and make her look good in front of her husband or boyfriend or both. Get to every detail. Ask her name, age and her address, so that you can send a sample. Sometimes these details can help transition into method #21, particularly if you are jobless on that day.

#21 Ask her out
Very effectively used by someone I knew. Patiently hear out all the details of the product and then finally tell her that you would buy the product only if she were to come and meet you personally and sell it. Feign innocence – tell her, you were interested in buying the product, since she was so interested in selling it. Insist that it is something called an “unique buyer-seller relationship”, that Peter Mucker talks about; and that is something pious that cannot be broken. Quote from some holy and quotable quotes of how such relationships are pure and blah

#28 Can you hold Please ?
Tell Sally that you are very interested with the product. Exclaim excitedly, “wow, that’s exactly what I was looking for… great, great, great”; sound a bit distracted and ask if she could “hold please”? Then leave the receiver on the desk for a while and go on with your work; after couple of minutes, repeat the “can you hold, please”. Repeat until Sally gives up; or alternately, you could be cruel and after the 3rd hold, you could tell Sally that you just realized that you already have the same credit card. If you really want to have more fun, quickly glance at your mobile, note the number where Sally is calling from (most likely a board number) and give it back to her as a friend’s number who would be interested in the card.

#33 Indulge in Babble
Hear Sally out for 30s and ask her if she could answer a question – then pick up the nearest newspaper and continue to read a news item unhindered and without a break. Just go for it. Somewhere, you would see that Sally had disconnected

#42 Run a Survey
As soon as you figure out that Sally is a tele-marketeer, profusely thank her for calling you and tell her that you are doing a research on Tele-marketeers for your PhD and you just need to get a few details – ask Sally about whatever you want to from then on – her education, her location, what shampoo she uses, why she uses it, what other product she considered before making a decision – go on for a while, then profusely thank her and disconnect.

#48 The old and Trusted Method
Get angry that you were called in the middle of something that you were doing, shout at Sally, increase a blood pressure and stress level. The author apparently does not recommend this at all.

#50 Register your number in the upcoming TRAI’s “Do not call Registry”
You could do this and hence publish your number to every other telemarketer, who due to some quirk of fate or stroke of luck, haven’t laid hands on your numbers.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Strains of Silence!

I woke up this morning at around 7.30AM – there was something disturbing (for the lack of better word) that my morning sub-n-half-conscious-mind was not used to – I guess, that woke me up. I heard a myriad of voices - fortunately, those weren't in my head :) ; they were various calls of variety of birds. As I lay listening to those, those that seemed to morph into a rhythmic symphony, I could pick out the streak of various birds calling out. There was this long and plaintive call of the mynah; the hoarse caw of the crow – some unidentifiable voices of the birds – it would have been the perfect setting for an ornithologist. The best was yet to come; I walked out to the balcony and the air was s-t-i-l-l and fresh. There was this indescribable crispness to it – a cool whiff that touches you softly and washes over you. In the cusp of summer, the morning sun was gentle and trying to break through a light fog.

I stood enjoying, this musical in such a wonderful setting; then as wakefulness set in, it dawned on me. The usual cacophonies were conspicuous by their absence – no acrid smell of the exhaust smoke, no horns blaring, no sound of a macho-biker revving up, no bedlam of huge buses, and most importantly, no jangling of the nerves. The strains of the perfect morning had taken away any signs of stress.

As I enjoyed the moment, I realized this was how the world was before the industrialization took over; perhaps this was how my forefathers woke-up every morning in their villages when they took off to till the lands. It occurs to me now, that it is really not a very bad idea for us to have bandh, at least once a month, that closes down our city and opens up the world, instead.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Rebel's End.

My soul has always been
A lush lawn of green
Tended and watered by
My perennial dreams -
Dreams of promises and freedom,
For all, plenty and then some.
Then came the summer
Of hard truths
The drums of gunner’s
beating to shattered myths.
Incarcerated, cruel reality
Stared back hard at me -
The facts, pinning me down,
With a cruel frown,
Buried the faith in me
deep into the barren brown.
Broken, regret swells up to choke
down my fears
My Utopia dissolve up in smoke
In Triumphant's boos and jeers.
The hope, after a wait in vain,
trickles out of my heart;
Only the silt of sorrow remain
(with a noose) To rend me apart.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Usually Sport is looked up as an entertainment and that helps us to break away from the ennui and routine. However there are few times, when sport elevates itself above the usual and provides a true inspiration and glimpse of the power of spirit; and brings out an innate strength, what human being is capable of achieving, when one sets ones mind on it. At that point in time, the sport uplifts itself and provides something more than an ordinary and true entertainment. It inspires.

The Perspiration

Case Study #1: Excellence
Just before this semi-final there is lot of talk about how the gap has been narrowed - either he has improved or Federer did not develop any further to increase the gap. Thus thought the contender, Roddick. He had just beaten Fedex in an invitational off-the-record-book tournament. Roddick was meeting Fedex in the semi-finals of Australian open and coming into the match assuming he had a legitimate chance at beating him. The first set did not seem otherwise - Federx broke Roddick first, Roddick broke back Fedex; that seemed to spur Fedex on; he just elevated himself to a zone and then won 11 games in a row, including a second-set 6-0 demolition, destruction and devastation of Roddick. It was so obvious, when a point that was seemingly lost by Fedex turned around. A Roddick fore-hand drive at the net had pulled Fedex beyond the forehand tramlines; Then, Roddick seemed to have put-away Fedex’s return into the open court; Fedex scrambling back, improvised (rather innovated) a back-hand passing shot. Crowd erupts; and the man, permits himself a smile and an acknowledgement with his raised-racquet. In mid-game, quite rare. The match clearly showed that Federer comes into every match truly believing, without an iota of doubt, that he can beat anyone. To me, that itself gives him a "set" advantage. Pushes his opponent to win 3 out of 4 sets – that is almost impossible at this level; Secondly, Fedex seemed to have this great ability to evolve and dynamically change game-plans during the game.

At a young 25, his confidence, toughness and importantly, his tennis-intellect is extraordinary. I’m sure behind all these, there are tons and tons and hours and hours of practice and hard work; coupled with a steely mental determination. Sometimes I can’t make out if he is perfecting excellence or excelling in perfection. Maybe that’s an upwardly moving bar for him.

Case Study #2: Reinvention

There is one other young man, I am very impressed with. Dinesh Karthik. He was the wicket keeper of the Indian team, and then he had lost his slot to Dhoni. Seeing Dhoni perform, Karthik decided that it will be tough for him to come into the team as a keeper. So he decided to reinvent himself – he started concentrating on his batting and opened batting for his state and zonal team and made good enough scores to come into the team as reserve keeper. When he got a chance as a keeper in a tour match, he performed well with the bat; well enough for him to get into team in a 20/20 match and score runs that won him the man of the match. Then into the test team against RSA when Dhoni was injured – took his chances and into the Indian team as a pure batsman; there made a winning score to get the Man of the match one more time. The point I would like to highlight is this – there are many examples of how players have reinvented themselves as batsman. But in Karthik’s case there is another aspect that stands out, deserving italics :); Keepers, throughout their lives have stood behind and close to the stumps – hence they do not develop a strong throwing arm and cannot field in the deep. Karthik seems to have worked that one through and he is now acknowledged as an outstanding fielder either at close or in the deep; his fielding ability is talked about in the same breath as that of Yuvraj and Raina.

For a young man of 22, this is truly exceptional. He could have been a victim of circumstance. Instead, he chose to be a player – in his mind, there was no option, but to get back, even if he were to redo things completely. Including having the courage to relearn new skills. In that, he has made himself more versatile and hence increased his sustainability. I believe this has started with his mental outlook of refusing to be a victim and seeing possibilities, truly believing in his mind he can get there. And he has. Even if he never plays for India again, he has shown what the potential of a human mind is and how high it can scale and soar.

The Inspiration

As I was on my morning run, a streak occurred to me. I usually do stretches, walk a while and then jog 3 laps on the track. As I was on the first lap, thinking about the above two gentlemen, I wonder if I could push myself. I decided that tiredness would not be an option today; and I ended-up finishing 9 laps. At the end of it, I realized that I have a legitimate shot at, what I assumed to be an impossible physical activity for me – running the mini-marathon (7km) - I will run this year at the Bangalore event. I realize it is not just physical, its mental. I have been inspired. Thank you, Raja Federer and Dinesh Karthik.