Friday, December 22, 2006

Lateral Thinking

You have your back against the wall, very few alternatives, an invalid support system, and still you keep fighting. Finally, you come out victorious. That’s the symbol of a winner. You are one of the few who can perform under pressure.

You get a vague target to achieve, very few resources at hand, even a more ridiculous timeline to achieve the target. That’s the time you start thinking ‘out of the box’. In management parlance, it’s called ‘lateral thinking’. You become an unconscious fan of Pepsi. You are eating, sleeping, breathing, watching (thinking ofcourse) and working on how to achieve the one objective you have been handed over? Yet again, Management has put their faith on you. You are proud of yourself. You need to come up to the expectations of all, yet again. More importantly, you have to yet again prove to yourself that you are the best.

Thinking laterally, I imagine you being a chain smoker. People have accused you of being an alcoholic on most weekends. To meet this deadline, there is a new adjective, workaholic, attached to your sub titles. Most of the people in your life – in office, among relatives and all so-called friends that you have give you the most soothing ideas - to relax a bit and take it easy, sometimes. They reassure you that you are the best and you will, as always, do the best for the company and yourself. But deep in their hearts, all of them despise you. All pray you fail. They just wonder how do you manage, what you do? You don’t like some people either. You have made it obvious to some too. To some you are sarcastic, to a few you are ignorant and to some you have to put up a smile every time you cross ways. This is so, as most of them are either senior in professional hierarchy or elders in personal relationships. To ensure these people don’t affect you negatively, more often than not, you keep a fair distance. Their actions are predictable and hence negotiable. There are some people who don’t like you and they make this feeling very clear to you. These are the most harmless set of people. They know that you know that they don’t like you. Hence, the negative impact, if any, is minimum. The worst lot is the lot who doesn’t like you and have not come out in the open ever. They make sure that your back is always on the burner. Professionally, they get a sadistic pleasure in watching you come earlier than the peon who opens the lock of the office entrance and work your bum off in office much later than everyone has left. On the personal front, they are the ones giving you free advise on marital issues which was solved by your maid in her life in a week. But they ensure to stretch it to such limits that you end up becoming a chain smoker, an alcoholic and now, a workaholic. You don’t want to go home and re-start the war.

You start living under pressure always. You don’t know why but if there is no fire in the house, it’s not worth living there. In office, there is no work if there is no crisis. Your only workshop you feel which added value to you is the Disaster Management workshop. Surprisingly, you start liking the wall on your back. You don’t want a support system. You are aggressive and a creative fighter. You are eating, sleeping, breathing, watching and ofcourse thinking on how to achieve what you want to achieve? Early morning, you are in the toilet and Voila!!! An amazing idea strikes you. You know this is the clincher. Most of the best ideas come in the toilet.

Thinking laterally, most of the best ideas come when you are shitting in your pants.


On our present

As humans we love making comparisons. I agree, in a way it does help. Comparison during healthy competition makes the fight worth it. But more often than not, we take it too seriously. It becomes much more than comparison. Competition does not remain healthy too.

I will ‘restrict’ myself comparing what I have grown up watching.

Till the age of 5-6 years, I don’t remember much to talk about. As 7-10 year olds, we would compare our height growing, apparently, almost every week. Between the years 11 to 15, we compared bikes and our hand writing. By the time we were 16, we had reached puberty. A lot of changes had taken place physically, mentally and psychologically. We had a lot of things to compare, ours and some ‘visual’. We compared our growing moustaches although it was like the grass on a cricket pitch. We were comparing baggy trousers to V cuts and we were comparing height, weight and lengths (read sizes) of lot “stuff”, some our own, some of the ‘restricted’ species. During the last years in school and first years of college, we had nothing but our ‘conquests’ as the only topic of our conversation, almost everyday. For people like me, a conquest ranged from a glance by a girl to a “hi, hello, how are you”? conversation. For some it ranged from a glance and ended only with heaving breathing and panting. Those who had similar encounters had hi-fives. Most of us would come out consoling each other that the guy was bluffing. Nothing serious was happening in life. There was nothing serious to compare.

Then came a time when we had to start thinking about life, seriously. We were on the verge of completing college and we still had no idea what did we want to do in life? We started comparing ourselves to people who had got through some engineering, medical or atleast some professional course. Most of my group was oblivious to what lay ahead, pretty clueless on deciding a career and utterly confused. We stood nowhere infront of our peers. This was the time we started comparing our past. Parents suddenly became the best people on earth. We commented on their selfless duty of taking care of each of our needs, substantial or whimsical, with a smile on their face. School years were the best. The place we hated the most, suddenly was haven. The place where teachers were demons and books like leaches, became the utopian sphere of life. There was no thought of future or past during school days, just plain entertainment and fresh living, every day.

Once we decided what to do in life, we started working towards our future. But then again, we compared our future with other peoples’ future. We saw where others had reached. We saw the fruits that others were reaping. We also wanted to have the same. We compared our income to theirs, their lifestyle to ours. We vehemently discussed and criticized everything happening, against us. The biggest problem laid there itself. We never compared our efforts to theirs. We never compared their determination to ours. We never saw the present coming and going right infront of our eyes and become our past.

We never compared their present to ours. We only compared the past and the future.

That’s what we do most of the time, always compare the past. What we had was the best. We then, jump to the future. What we could have is the ultimate. We never pay any attention to what we have in hand. We never appreciate or realize the importance of our present.

Films do affect us. The dialogue that affected me was - one foot in the past, one foot in future. That’s why we are pissing ‘on our present’.


Maid in India

One of the most important people influencing our lives is our domestic maid. If she does not come at the time she should, the whole day goes haywire. We do not wake up on time, do not get our bed tea, have to wash last night’s dirty utensils and invariably get late to office. If one has a maid who comes twice in a day and misses coming for the day, right from the morning tea to the Herculean task of washing and drying our linen and in some cases ironing them comes onto us.

How can she not come? How can she take us for granted? We got to get up early, get ready, negotiate the traffic on way the hour-long drive to office, sit infront of the computer the whole day with just one tea break, miss our lunch sometimes sitting in an useless meeting and drink liters of tea/coffee during those meetings. We have to cut across the same traffic for more than an hour on the way back. She cant’ expect us to come back after a tired day’s sitting work and then start rubbing detergent to the cup in which we drank tea! This is intolerable. This is so unprofessional!! If the day she is not in attendance happens to be a weekend, home turns into hell. Most of us get only two days in the week when we can relax a bit and do a little of our ‘own thing’. If she does not arrive on any of these two days, we turn totally helpless. We don’t know where the washing powder is kept. We have not clue where the clothes hanging clips are kept. We have to find all these and more. The washing scrubber goes missing. Sugar is over so no tea. It’s the worst day in a long time. Sounds similar?

Just imagine a maid’s life. If she has to ring your bell at 0630 hours every morning, she has to wake atleast by 0430. She has to work around her house, cleaning and clearing her garbage of yesterday. She has to cook for her family, as she would be back home only late afternoon. She has to work on her personal hygiene because we make faces when she shows even an iota of dirt on her already mud and sweat stained saree. We have a grace time of atleast 15 minutes to enter office. But if she is late by even 15 minutes we smack sarcastic comments on her for the whole week. She will finish your home and then work in atleast five more houses before thinking of her lunch. Not many of us ever offer her tea. Even when we do, we pour tea in the broken cup, which we were thinking to keep our washing detergent. Some gracious people I know actually offer their maids slice of bread and/or chapatti with her tea. Only the slice will be a toast kept for two days in the fridge. The chapatti also will invariably be atleast a day old. She is delighted if she is offered a snack. She is not bothered if the snack is stale or she will have to work with an empty stomach, anyways. We all envy friends who have a 5-day working week. Those of us, who have a 5-day working week, cherish our weekends and exploit in all ways possible. The maid is expected to come 7 days a week, 365 days a year. One day of unanticipated absence and she is touted as a ‘lazy, work evasion’ personality.

I don’t refute there are some maids who are foul mouthed and explicitly rowdy. But, you have an option to change the maid. The maid, soft spoken or a defiant one does not. She has to still wake up earlier than you, clean your muck, remain famished for half a day and still cannot fall sick, attend family rituals or expect a grace time to come in the morning.

All this because of her tag, “Maid in India”


Friday, December 15, 2006

Profitable Loss

Most of India follows cricket fervently. There are a few, ofcourse, who are fanatics. But most countrymen (and women) truly love cricket. And that is why whenever Team India does not perform well; there is a general gloom across. You walk the streets and there will be a group of retired people comparing Sehwag with Polly Umrigar and hailing the latter’s patience to the former. There will be a batch of auto rickshaw drivers, commenting on Dhoni’s locks (of hair) and lost key to his form. A group of nothings’ will actually show how Sachin should have got out on his front foot and tackled the ball on the rise. Everyone has a point of view. Everyone is an expert. I don’t blame erstwhile cricketers who would have actually played barely 10 tests and a mere 25 international one-day matches, commenting on TV. If a nobody on the streets of India can criticize Sachin, atleast he reached the National Team and played alongside Sachin. (I still despise the ladies on cricket shows, though). I was supposed to write on something else. But I have filled most of the space on cricket. That’s the power of cricket in India.

I was watching TV last night and then saw the newspapers today morning. I saw the pomp and show and the heavy celebrations on India getting their 10th Gold Medal at the 15th Asian Games at Doha, Qatar. What amazed me was not that we stand 5th in overall Medal totals, or that we got fewer Gold Medals than countries smaller than our National Capital Region. I have forgiven our athletes. They just don’t have what it takes to make it big in athletics. We should be awarded the “Fair Play Award” every time. We play to participate. Winning is never our Agenda. But what took me by utter shock were the comments of athletes about the National Athletic Association and their respective Sport Associations? Be it Shooting, Weight Lifting or the simmering differences between the Doubles Tennis players of the country, who at one point were ranked No. 1 in the world? It was sheer disgust that set on me. A country of 100 crores population, fourth largest economy in the world, $ 3.11 trillion GDP (I still don’t know how many zeroes are there in a trillion) and a blind faith on anything that represents the tricolor, how can we fair so badly?

I believe, there is a flaw in our intent. As a nation, we don’t want to be the best. We are happy, content and with a highly selfish mentality kind of people. Why only sports? Why do most IIT and IIM graduates leave for US? Why do biologists and scientists go for “further studies” to Europe? Someone told me there are three kinds of people. One, who will ensure no loss to self, the other may or may not suffer. Second, who will ensure no loss for self, if not a profit, and ensure loss for the other. The third and the best/worst lot is the one who will ensure a bigger loss to the other even in exchange of a lesser loss to self. I could not fathom the difference of three then. Now I do. Our so-called nation loving, innovative thinking and highly focused bureaucratic big wigs are of the third kind. What they don’t realize is that what they consider as “less” personal loss is “national loss”. For them it is a “profitable loss”. They profit, others loose. But at what cost? We don’t loose money, time or efforts alone. We loose faith, patience and mental peace. We loose our dignity.

I don’t think its only we Indians who compare these Medal Tallies and curse people responsible, directly or indirectly. Other countries compare these Tallies and gain confidence event after event, year after year, time and again.

Out intent strengthens theirs.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lucky Side Up

Lucky side up

For eons people have discussed, debated and questioned the correlation between luck and effort. Most believe, no matter how much you work, (I will not use the term ‘hard work’ as I believe the ones who work the hardest on earth are donkeys) the ‘final touch’ is always given by the slice of luck one has in life.

Not only in corporate parlance, any space in life, it is a conical diagram. The best of the lot form the peak, the law of averages rules the mediocre and there are vast majority of dwellers at the bottom. Pick any example. Take a country’s government; led by few, followed by many and voted my millions. Take an economy; there are very few billion-dollar valuation companies, many million-turnover companies and a swarm of aspiring outfits. In a company, a hand few of individuals run the company, many of them manage the company and loads of them work for the company. Talk to the top management and they have their version of how they made it to the top. They have sound knowledge of their domain, expert and practical exposure, innovative thinking and aggression. They also add a flavor of ‘luck’ by saying, “and ofcourse, I was at the right time at the right place”. The second rung people are more upbeat on luck. They all agree to have made their way up through maximum input-maximum output mentality, optimism, a very good Boss and a lot of luck on their side. The base of the cone with the maximum population cries hoarse on being the most talented, most used (read misused), exploited and the unluckiest of all the three slabs.

Certainly, am not at the peak. I don’t feel am the unluckiest, either. So, I guess, I would fit in the middle bracket. I did not want to pursue Maths after the compulsory classes. I got enough marks to call it good, not good enough for my school to offer me the subject (I was lucky). I took up biosciences. By the time I completed a year, I was confident I would never become a Doctor. I graduated with Commerce in college. In a herd mentality, I enrolled in Chartered Accountants’ course. Ofcourse, I knew the percentage of people who pass the CA Exam every year. What the heck? There is no harm in trying. There are no marks for trying, either! I failed miserably. During my preparation for Management Schools I was gaining confidence. Maths was not that bad. Especially, at this level too if people want fundamentals to be clear, I did feel at some point I should have worked on the subject a little more in my elementary days. Anyhow, the high point of my life came when I cleared the written test for the most reputed and esteem B-School in India. But only the peak of the cone gets in there. I wasn’t there yet. I did not go further than GD and interviews. But I made it to a decent B-School in the next rung of institutes. (I was lucky again). With my aptitude and psyche, I would have never come out of the so-called ‘esteemed’ B-School. I would have never made it through the first year, leave alone walking out with a 7-figure salary job. My institute was the perfect fit (matching-matching!!). I participated in all sports and cultural activities, had outings every week, got assignments that were done in a ‘group’, learnt more from conversation than big, fat books. But the two most important things which I got from my institute were my future wife and sleep for atleast 7 hours a day. I eventually bagged a decent job from the institute, though. I am working in an MNC now. I am happily married to a Tamilian who does not understand a word of my mother tongue, Bengali. (I am lucky here too!! I can crib about her infront of her without her getting inkling of my conversation with like-minded people). But now I realize, its neither effort or luck that makes you a happy person.

You are lucky if you see the luck side up!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Nothing else matters

“Love your work and you will never work a day in your life”. Sounds amazing. Now, taste this – “get what you love or love what you get”. Sounds logical. My question is, is love for sale? The day you start getting paid for something you love, love is sold that very moment. The moment there is a possibility of a transaction in a subject matter, love doesn’t exist. It’s called business.

Having a conversation with one of my friends, he gave a very stunning example. That of a Gigolo (I hope I got the spelling right!!). It’s a known fact that men want to have ‘good time’, always and anytime. Believe it or not, 91% men have a deep desire to work as a Gigolo. The other 9% are gays. And this 9% serve about 36% of the 91%, of men, for whom the grass is ‘pink’ on both sides. Men, just imagine yourself as a Gigolo. It will be the best time of your life, initially, I am sure. You will have a ‘good time’ and get paid for it too!! But after a point in time, will you love ‘doing’ what you do? From ‘ being in demand’ you will be ‘demanded’ to do, because you are paid. Will you love it, still?

I am not sure how many would say, I love my job. Most of us do our jobs and do it really well but only because it pays. (How well do we perform and how well does it pay is really subjective). Ofcourse, there are a lucky few who love doing what they do, or do what they love. Concern is, expectations. Not only does expectations of the one paying you matters more, your own expectations from yourself change. Ask the software engineer who codes for 15 hours in a day, drives for an hour and plays the drums/guitars for 3 hours with his Garage Rock Band. Ask the lady who manages four stores across the city, runs home to watch her child drink the evening milk and then rush to her dance class.

Where there is love, it shows. The biggest differentiator being, you don’t expect anything in return. Be it your mother or father, your ‘beloved’, your son, your company or even your job. You romance with ‘experience’. The soul takes charge of the moment. You are guided by emotions running in your veins. The moment you start thinking about your parents as people who gave birth to you, hence, people who are responsible for you all life, love is dead. The moment parents expect children to take care of them in return of them being responsible for children growing up to be successful people, love never was. If love ever existed, parents and children will not need to think so. The feeling for each other will make them do what is the ‘need’ and not the ‘want’.

I love writing, but suddenly if tomorrow, my Boss calls me and says, “your job is to write”, will I love it anymore? I don’t know. My worry is not with writing. It’s the choices that we have. Rather, the choices that we make. What is the extreme of being in a National Team and wanting to sit on the sidelines? I love the Sony Erickson advertisement, wherein, a professional football player listening to music on his phone says, “I love being a substitute”!! Now, that’s what I call love.

You cannot force anyone to love. But you are free to love. As Mettalica sang, “nothing else matters”.
5th Dec 2006

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Exceptions prove the rule?

Most of the people I know, hence, I assume, most of the people I don’t know, don’t like getting out of their beds on winter mornings (I don’t have statistical figures, but I believe it is a fair assumption). I feel more awake and energetic getting out of bed on a chilly winter morning. During summers, the AC/cooler blow just doesn't throw enough enthusiasm or the ‘intent’ at me. The moment I remove the blanket or/and quilt (depending on the temperature), the cold air around the bed freezes the moment. It does not let the sloppy (or is it sleepy??) mind wander back to the unfinished dream. The two parts of the body to wake up first are, the nose and toe. The palm cools next and by the time I can grab the pull over and pull it over, I am almost ready for Office, raring to go and start blogging! (Anyone from my office reading??)

A little embarrassing, but I don’t like mangoes. Now, who on earth doesn’t like mangoes? Well, yours truly. Likewise, most people I know love warm ‘kheer’. I detest any warm sweet dish. Not even ‘gaajar ka halwa’. I love the ‘kheer’, which is kept in the refrigerator over night. The ‘gaajar ka halwa’ can be cooled down and served to me.

Another very funny and ofcourse ‘exceptional’ instinct about me is about shoes. Historically, it is a well-known fact that your shoes say a lot about you, the real you. From ages, people have perceived one’s wealth, character and personality from their shoes. Hence, people spend hundreds, some thousands and the lucky few people from and named ‘Paris’ may actually spend millions on shoes! Now, you walk on rut, kick mud and step on God knows what all. For God’s sake, shoes are something you wear on your feet. Why treat it like you want to keep it on your head as a crown? I, somehow, could never treat shoes other than something on my feet and hence to kick and be kicked around. I have never crossed three digit figures when buying shoes. And that’s because nowadays, you can’t even have slippers in two digits. I have a I do cherish my first white cadet shoes (we used to call them ‘keds’), though. That infact was priced in two digits. Things really have got pricey!

Am I one of the few forming the "exceptions" bracket? (atleast, in the above mentioned aspects). I believe so. So, just as the Americans say most of their sentences with two negatives, “baby, is there nothin’ in life with no exceptions”? I certainly believe, exceptions prove the rule. This is so, because the very fact that exceptions exist proves there exists a rule.

To prove a theorem, one needs to make a set of assumptions. That’s the rule, right? Any exceptions to this one? Did I prove myself wrong?

Am still thinking….

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I loved her. I still do. In all certainty she was my first love. It isn’t that she lost her beauty or that her involvement with me deteoriated. She still looked charming. She could still surprise many with her maneuvers. But then I moved on.

I still remember the day she stepped into our home for the first time. Although, her name sounded masculine at first instance, she sure was a stunner. She was our ‘Chetak’ (from the stable of humara Bajaj). When I started writing, I was confused, whether to call our scooter a he or a she? Many things pointed at her being a handsome dude. The first, ofcourse, her stallion name. Then there was the kind of amazing number of riders who could ride, pillion and stand on it for the ‘ride’. I have never seen a family of five (sometimes six), on a scooter other than on a Chetak. But the most important differentiator was ‘the ride’ itself. It was the smooth yet dizzy feeling when riding her, which you get on your first date. The one-kick start was the nonchalant obedience of a young girl and the unconventional colors (in the early 80s’ – sea green and violet) in which it was available that made me decide to call it ‘my lady’.

Her first day at home was a day of mixed feelings. We were happy and sad. More happy than sad though. We had to give away our lean ‘Vijay’ Super to bring home this buxom babe. He served us for a long time. Vijay (Dinanath Chauhan, ha!!) had turned old and weary. To be truthful, orange was not an attractive color. But my father loved the color and ofcourse, Vijay. We did not mind either as long as we got our ice creams. But I guess, it was time to part with the orange old mate and get home this week’s writing piece.

It was love at first sight. Comparing her now, well, she had the broadness of a Latino brunette matched with the elegance of English lass from a Swedish finishing school. I simply could not take my eyes off her. I ran and stood on her front leg-stand and turned her mighty handle from left to right acting as if I am riding her, taking her to top speed and talking to the winds. I even pressed the horn button faking to clear the unseen traffic in front of me. Whenever our family of four took to the streets on her, I would be standing in front on the leg-stand put my hands on the handle and emulate my father fancifully as he rode her confidently.

The day I took her out for the first time, true to her name, she was behaving like a mare, but an untamed and wild one. It was a ride to remain fresh on my mind forever. According to me, I was riding just as my father does. After all, I practiced standing in front of him. But she was not running as she usually did. On the way, at the peak of her speed, she went out of control. We fell. I was worried about her more than myself. I brought her to her stands and looked all around her to check if she was okay. It was a big blow on the wall so I had to make sure she could run. I kicked her. Voila, she started! I was relieved but realized at that moment that I could not see through one eye. There was a jutting pain above my left eye and I was falling off my feet. Falling, we had slid together and just when I was about to get away, her mighty handle had hit me on the forehead and opened a 5-inch cut above my left eye.

I was still a boy. Only men rode a Chetak. Many people may disagree with me. Some may feel their ego being hurt. But who can deny ‘she’ sure took you for a ride? Still you love her.

Fame A to Z

I believe I am talented. Infact, my talent lies in criticizing and commenting on other ‘talented’ people. Don’t I sound like one of the reality show judges?

From where I see it, most of the reality shows on TV channels are basically ‘talent shows’ in disguise. Some of them clearly say it. Some of them paint a picture of ‘nurturing’ talent and then making them ‘ready for the world’. Be it singing, dancing, performing artists - which include both singing and dancing (most of the times simultaneously), acting….the list is endless. And I am sure there hundreds of people who can do all the above, most of the times simultaneously! In one of the many reality shows I have been following, a singer who was scored out by the judges’ panel and then voted out by TV spectators actually came back by virtue of some rule planted by the concept creators and finally made it to the top three! In one of the reality couples’ dance competition show I saw the lady opting out of the competition as her husband was hospitalized and then dancing on a song, crying! That’s sure needs talent. In a bizarre ‘real’ incident, in one of the reality shows one of the contestants fell to the floor, almost unconscious, over a coffee cup fiasco! That’s close to genius, actually!!

But I really love these reality shows on TV. They not only encourage aspirations, they truly inspire. I mean, you see the contestants singing and you say to yourself, “God, if they can make it, I will breeze past everyone”. The feeling inside is the same in dance contests too, although you may not know the difference between Tango and Twist. As the show takes it journey from day one to the last five, you see the contestants performing and your self confidence grows leaps and bounds and you actually visualize yourself on stage marching ahead and matching steps with the hottest celebrities - who are available on that day. Most of them are (erstwhile) celebrities who are out of jobs and have nothing but the reality show as the high point of their current career status. But who cares. There was a day, when they were rock stars. Now, they only want to believe in one quote, history repeats itself. In effect, there is hardly any difference between the contestants and their celebrities. One set of people want to become stars. The other set wants to become stars, once again.

As far as the contestants are concerned, they practice hard on their weaknesses. People who are good at singing and dancing, practice acting (read crying). People, who are good at crying, practice crying to the best camera angle. And people, who have mastered the art of singing, dancing and crying from all angles, become judges. The impact is amazing. There is showbiz, drama, comedy, action, tragedy and finally a climax. On the final day there is a grand ceremony with the winner taking loads of applauds, loads of money and loads of future assignments.

On the same TV channel, starts yet another reality show which promises to bring the most talented citizen and make her/him a star and you find yet another reason to admire yourself endlessly. That’s how I end my day, everyday. My ten seconds to fame, infront of the mirror, admiring my ‘talented’ self.

I respect talent. But the only problem with talent is everyone believes s/he is talented. The biggest difference, perhaps, between talent and genius is that talent can be emulated. But genius is unbelievable. India may have another Rahul but there will be no other Sachin. Neither in cricket, or in music.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Statistically proud

My parents are proud of me. Well, all parents are proud of children who make it well in life. But, I think, deep down my parents are a little surprised at what I have achieved so far in life. It’s not as if they never envisaged any future or their aspirations with me were any less than any average parent duo. Okay, talking statistically, comparing children in the family in my generation, my success in life till now was what was surprising to them. Statistically, less than 20% of us are Masters academically. Less than 30% of us are working (full-time). I don’t know how many have a bank balance in 6 figures (mine is a joint account which I count!!). But am sure by the rates I have mentioned, the percentage would be in single digits. Less than 40% are married and leading a ‘happily’ married life. And I contribute to all these percentages! Now, that’s really something. Actually, looking at it now, I too feel proud of myself. Most of my friends and acquaintances though, are evidently surprised at my current achievement levels. It shows in the way they interact with me or react to any conversation involving me or has my mention. Friends with whom I have spent the most times, who, in the worldly term can be called ‘best friends’, don’t really ask much about my professional life. I would want to believe that’s because they do not think beyond the relationship we share. Our friendship will not be affected even if tomorrow I loose my job or one of us replaces Bill Gates as the richest man (Ugh uhhh…well, on second thoughts, it may change just a bit. He will adopt me!!)

Most of us still have the same set of ‘best friends’. Atleast I do. We love to talk. We talk incessantly. My parents and now even my wife are surprised at how much we talk! Infact, my wife has a regular complaint that I don’t talk to her as much as I talk to my ‘best friends’ when we meet. I don’t remember even one instance, which was a planned outing among us. We have never gone for movies, shopping or even dinner! We just meet up over snack and, we talk. Among ‘best friends’ though, we have never shared our monetary progress. Well, we may have mentioned some figures off the cuff. But that never was the point of contention. Unlike most of the dialogues that I have with my other so-called friends, where the third question is “so what’s your salary?” The first two being, how are you and where are you these days? There was a time when one of us was yet to find employment; one was ‘in’ love and ‘out’ of his senses. There was one who was still figuring out what to do with his life. In sum, all were frustrated and depressed. When we met, we did not have much to rejoice. Thankfully, we were yet to taste the ultimate medicine to all misery – ‘gam ka saathi rum’ (just in case I become a world-renowned writer, this phrase translates to “ there is only one friend when sad, drink rum like mad”. That’s to rhyme it). You must be wondering where is the statistics here? To summarize, out of 50 physical and over 200 online people that I call friends, only three make it to the ‘best friend’ frame of shame (the count includes my wife and why ‘shame’ comes in the following sentence). Of these three, neither smokes or drinks, while I am a chain smoker and a compulsive boozer. But what takes the cake is that out of every ten outings with my pals, either of my best friends has paid on eight of those occasions (this includes my wife again). But that’s not why they are my best friends. If they have stuck to me, am sure I have something ‘statistically different’ to be proud of.

I believe only my parents, my wife and my best friends can make me feel the way I am. And I feel proud. I proved it statistically.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Love...

The two things I love the most in life are TV and biwi (including mine)!! Okay, no kidding. Of course I meant my wife. And that’s because she lets me watch TV in peace. C’mon, now don’t start thinking that’s the only reason I love my wife. There are enough and more reasons.

But my write-up is on my watching TV. I shall try hard not to deviate from the topic.

Clearly my focus is not on the history of television. But a little bit of ‘googling’ and I was amazed at my finding. As I said, I love watching TV but I could never think beyond the TV screen. Whatever appeared on the screen mesmerized and took me to a world of fantasy and ‘virtual contentment’. My wife has named my chair as the ‘tortoise’s parking lot’. But for the information of who ever makes it to reading my (master)piece, it is believed that the person who got the idea of an electronic television for the first time in his brain was merely 14 yrs when he did so!! His name is Philo Taylor Farnsworth, born August 19, 1906, in Indian Springs, Utah. Infact, he had a working device by the time he was 21!! Although, all his life he had to keep fighting over the patent rights over his invention, he was a genius.

Arc lights back to the ‘parking lot’. I shall refrain from using any animal species, as I too am afraid of Maneka Gandhi. If big movie production houses and celebrated movie directors can be issued legal notices for shooting with horses and dogs, I shall be making a heinous crime of comparing myself to a harmless, the slowest and the most laziest of beings on earth. I am not Ian Thorpe who can afford to ‘hang his trunks’ (I was tempted to use undies) at 24 and still see life sailing like his fabulous swimming strokes. I can’t fight law suits at this point in life.

What makes anyone hooked to TV? I mean, your eye vision is affected, you tend to gain weight couching, you waste more than half of your time in front of TVs switching channels, hence, very few things register as ‘learning’ from watching TV. I am sure, in one of the most unknown universities of US, one of the weirdest academic or research scholars of European origin is undertaking a study in the developing countries of Asia on many more vices of watching TV. So, what exactly makes one sit for hours watching TV? If I ask myself why do I love TV, what would I answer? Well, I love sports, so I watch the sports channel; I want to keep myself updated about happenings of the world so I watch the news channels. Oh, just like everyone, deep down inside I want to become a superstar and so I watch the reality shows.

Does an earthquake in Indonesia shake my office chair? Does Sachin pay me a royalty out of the prize money for the 100th man of the match award he won three years ago that he received whose highlights I saw for the first time, yesterday? And not only do I get duped by watching the ‘arranged’ reality shows, but I also spend money by sending SMSs to make someone else the superstar!

But I still love watching TV. That is why I love my wife, the most. She loves me watching TV. She knows she has married the most static, inert, idiotic and laziest creature on earth and still she loves me. (She hates TV)

22nd Nov 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

known facts, unknown reasons

Parents and ‘friends’ are two sets of people we cannot compare. Infact, we always believed, they cannot be compared at all. One set of people was our nemesis of sorts, holding us from doing each and everything we liked. Be it eating chocolates, wearing red socks, eating with our hands, the time we took to bathe (depending whether you were a boy or a girl) and so much so, how we sleep! We were old enough to reach school on our own with friends, but they would insist dropping us and picking us up. How immature of them, right? When we were younger, the only good thing we could see about our parents was, how much ever they cribbed, they finally gave up and did whatever we asked for. They ironed our already ironed clothes, bought us (un)necessary items whenever we asked, coming home past mid night was allowed for a 11 o’clock deadline. Of course, keeping awake all night when we were ill or at times when we were out of the house for a late night party was their duty. They were our parents after all! So, all that sentimental stuff does not count.

And, the other set of magical, like-minded and intelligent people who understood you so well. These two sets of people never shared anything in common. Hence, we never shared anything either. When we were happy we never shared our happiness with parents. We just took money from them and spent it on the other set. And when we were sad, no one other than a ‘friend’ could have understood you better! How can a father or a mother tell you how to handle failure in an entrance exam? How will they be able to explain how to handle heartbreak? What do they know about love? I mean, c’mon, they will never be able to tell us the difference between a degree and a diploma. But our ‘best friends’ can. So what, that they were our age and have seen only as much as you have on the planet. They knew everything in the world. In short, they were our world.

We have moved out of our hometowns and cities and working in bigger cities. Most of us are getting paid more than what our parent’s last salary was when they retired!! Many of our parents would not have dared to ask how much do we earn, till date. They are fully content with their efforts of making us what we are today. Each parent is proud of each one of us. In return, we are taking care of our parents too. Are we? Well, we are sending them some money every month for their general upkeep. We call them once or twice, sometimes thrice a week and ask about their wellbeing. Oh and yes, we do make a visit every six months during festive season. We share some real good moments with them. This is the time we (can) actually take care of them. But sadly, we still are in the trap of the ‘monetary pleasures of life give maximum happiness’ syndrome.

But have we ever asked them about the frown on their face every time they trying standing on their feet from a chair, the satisfaction they get watching the growing sapling they planted in the lawn, the pain they feel when they feed your pet late because you guys are visiting. The same pet that you grew up with but you kicked hard because it came too close to your kid. The frown on their face is not the pain on the knee, but looking for a hand to hold them stand. The satisfaction watching the sapling grow is the same they saw you growing. The pain feeding the pet is because when you left home for greener pastures, this animal became their son / daughter.

Sometimes, you are unknown to reasons of known facts.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dressed to Kill

There is deadline to meet, only 24 hours in a day and just you to save you. A presentation next Friday will define your destiny. Either you become the most sought after strategist, the most popular person in the company or remain in the aisles of anonymity till your next big chance, if ever.

Historically, the call of a cock announced daybreak. In modern times advertisers have made the calling cock as the mascot for a long list of dairy products and breakfast meals. The cock is a national symbol of France and is used as an (unofficial) national mascot for many sports teams. So much so that a rooster was chosen to be the mascot of the 1998 FIFA World Cup!! And yet, it is the most sought after, the most popular non-vegetarian meal on earth.

The presentation day arrives. The final day for the ‘ultimate’ sales pitch of your life. You have bought a new pair of shoes and a bright new tie for the occasion. You know your weaknesses. Hence, you cut short on your personal back ground. You know your competition and you are ready with all ammuniton. Your data is precise, the numbers are accurate and your confidence at its peak. You have never made such a presentation in your life, but its your natural instinct to take up challenges.

A cockfight is a contest held in a ring called a cockpit between two
gamecocks. The roosters are specially bred and trained for increased stamina and strength. The comb and wattle is cut off of a young gamecock because if left intact, it would be a disadvantage during a match. They possess an inherent aggression toward all males of the same species, and do not have to be trained to fight. It is a natural instinct and they will fight to the death with no training.

The owner of the winning cock is hosting a grand dinner tonight. A special turkey dish is planned for the ‘guests’. The winner of last week’s cockfight is the top of the mind recall for the host. He is the one who will be the fortunate one to ‘visit’ the kitchen, get decorated and displayed on the dinner table, well dressed.

Days pass with no revert from the client. And then the mobile flashes the name you were waiting to see for a week. You fix your tie knot for the invisible ‘guest’, greet him with the chirp of the morning bird (cocks announce daybreak, remember!!). He has called you to his office. You retrun from the ‘visit’. There is dead silence in the room. People gather around you, their reactions following your facial reactions.

The cock is killed and dressed. You are dressed and killed. Both lie upside down for the feast.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What and How

We all know what to do. And we do the best we can. Or that’s what we would love to believe. Till we come to know how to do what we have to do!

Before joining any school, toddlers are sent to spend some time with kids of their age along with teachers (I would like to call them facilitators) to start ‘learning’. And I am sure; there are some real registrations on their minds of things ‘taught’. But what is the real intention? According to me, it is, to condition them to start attending one single place which will be called a school for the next 15 yrs of their lives, everyday from morning till late afternoon and attend sessions where they are given instructions to perform certain activities in a given fashion because someone institutionalized them centuries ago. I do not refute the fact that most of the theories still hold good. And the ones that were questionable were questioned and re-defined.

What happens in top B-schools and technical institutions? Who teach there? Why do these institutions advertise so heavily on their list of pioneers, innovators, gurus and creators of certain theory, model or framework as their course faculty, guest faculty and nowadays a new term, “permanent guest faculty”? Now, that’s marketing, beautifully coining a term, bringing together two mutually exclusive words, permanent and guest! There is a reason behind this super activity. People, who have created something exceptional, are the ones who have possibly failed a hundred times before the final successful outcome. This has made them aware of the hundred different ways of ‘what’ not to do! Finally, they come up with ‘how’ to do it the right way. There may be a hundreds things to do. But there is just one way to do the right thing. That is the difference.

Preachers tell you to do ‘ideal’ things, tasks that will get you close to the Almighty. If they know everything to get close to Him, what are they doing on Earth? In simple terms, they can tell you ‘what’ to do? But never ‘how’ to achieve the same.

In India, most children are asked to work hard on their Maths. Because, you have a life only if you are an engineer. And that’s why (x+y)2 = x2 + y2 + 2ab. But why is it so? Why engineering, why Maths and over and above all why me? Why me because, am I competent enough to get past the Maths days? Will I be able to get through the engineering entrance exams and then eventually complete the course? Even if I complete the course, will I be able to get a job and continue in it? As children, have we ever asked so many whys’? And as parents, teachers and so called counselors, have we ever tried making children understand the answers to these whys’?

No. We have only focused on what needs to be done. Never the why….

Finally, another why…. why are classroom instructors called teachers and fitness/health/PT/Gym instructors called instructors? Are instructors ‘taught’ to become instructors, or are they ‘instructed’ to become one? And are teachers ‘taught’ to become teachers or are they ‘instructed’?

Now, that’s another debate. (Starting point of my next write-up)

Comments/Criticisms are invited at

Monday, November 13, 2006

Winter of Life....

There was a nip in the air. Days were getting shorter and evenings darker. People said this year winters would be the coldest. As I ran out of the house in the evening to gather with my friends in the park to play, Aunt Anita stopped me at the stairway and handed me a pullover, stating, “wear this, don’t take it off even if you are sweating and come back early”. I shrugged but could do nothing but obey.

Sitting 20 years hence, during one of the winters, it felt warm. Not just the pullover, the feeling with which she cared for me. She was not expected to take extra care of me. Or was she? Looking back, I guess, it was an expectation. And how does such an expectation come into being? She wasn’t my mother. But being a woman of the household, she was equally responsible for all children. I suppose the same accountability was for my mother towards all other children in the house. And reflecting back now, I realize all the expectations were met. Infact, jealousy and envy came to our hearts more at home than else where when at times mothers would affectionately caress and feed cousins more than us. Isn’t it? That was the beauty of a joint family. You were under 24-hours surveillance.

Ugly it seemed for us when we were kids, but don’t we want the same for our kids now? With both the parents working, decisions are aplenty. Are we ready for parenthood? How to plan for parenthood? Which is the best time to have kids? Whose in-laws should be called to take care of the expecting mother? With whom will the expecting mother stay before, during and after pregnancy? Which doctor to visit? Which nursing home? Once the child is delivered, the decisions get more complex and intense. Should the lady continue working? How soon should the mother get back to Office if the couple decides that the lady should continue working? Deciding on a full/part time governess for the kid? Which in-law should be requested step in to take care of the kid? Who will come early for the kid? How to schedule the week? And many more am sure. (Please bear in mind, I am yet to become a parent, hence having not crossed the bridge, am unaware of the depth of the water). This is the beauty of a nuclear family.

You decide all you want to do in life, absolutely everything. No parental pressure, no bugging relatives, no unwanted suggestions from the experienced ones and no liability whatsoever.

This is the winter of life. And deep down inside we all are waiting for that one voice to stop us from going out in the cold alone and unshielded.

Think about it.

(The author wishes to reassure all readers that his nuclear family is not adding on to the headcount of the family in the near future. The above write-up is inspired by one of the TV programs he was watching sometime back).

Comments/Criticisms are invited at