Monday, 8 December 2008

Breaking The Routine - Part 2

Please read part one of this post here.

Any living entity that has been following the news closely is sure to know the word "jehad" today. Everyone who calls himself human would despise it. Anyone who watched the cold-blooded massacres in the financial capital of India would want all this jehadis to vanish from this world as soon as possible.

But the very same jehadis have given us a great lesson in breaking the routine. Whenever the whole world thought that it was the ultimate attack and it cannot get worse than this, they have found new ways to breaking the routine and instilling fear on the humankind.

After the 1993 blasts in Mumbai (then Bombay), everyone thought the terrorists would do nothing but plant bombs and run away. In a way, the people started getting used to the bomb-blasts. But the terrorists had other plans. They wanted to instill fear in more ways than one. They attacked the WTC and Pentagon (read 9/11) in a manner that no one had contemplated in the wildest of their dreams. Till then, terror was just land-borne. Bombs exploded in buildings, market places, etc. But they had broken the routine and introduced a new form of attack - the air-borne attack. All countries now had to protect even the air- routes.

The terror did not end there. Till then, terrorists were just suicide bombers who would bomb places or kill themselves. On 26/11, they again broke the routine and started a new form of attack- the fidayeen attack where the soldier goes on killing spree and taking hostages and fights till the last moment of his life. This kind of attack was not thought of before. Probably a TV watcher in the Taj hotel during the 9/11 attacks might have thought, "They will never attack me in a hotel in here! At least I am safe". But not anymore. They have broken all "routine" standards and nothing is safe today - neither the local trains, the markets, the places of worship, the five star hotels, corporate houses - nothing at all.

The terrorist network has established itself inside our nation so heavily that they can target any place and at any time. Neither the sacred temples at Varanasi nor the esteemed educational institutes such as IISc are safe. For all that we know, a terror attack can happen in that very place which we are considering the safest right now - be it the parliament or the Raj Bhavan.

And how have our leaders reacted to all this?

There is one deputy chief minister who uses dialogue form one of the superhit bollywood movies to tell us that we should start taking this as a routine matter. There is one CM who acts like a joker and tells that if his responsibility is to prtect people, then he is ready to resign. To top that he goes on a tour along with his actor son and a director whose movies are enough to scare any terrorist in the world. Then there is a CM who tells us what he thinks of about the brave soldiers of our land through his famous "dog" remark.

In a way, these politicians seem to me like the real dogs in our nation. They are infact old dogs who don’t even bark. When provoked they just give a "grrr" saying that they will attack the enemies of the nation. But even they themselves don’t believe in what they say. No wonder then the jehadi sitting on his warm couch somewhere in Pakistan laughs aloud watching our leaders' remarks on TV.

It is time we changed our attitude of looking at things. It is time we broke the normal routine habit of making harsh remarks on Pakistan initially and moving on after the sorrow dies down. Not even one leader has spoken about a possible war on our crooked neighbours. Not even one strong statement has been made against terror. To add to it, the netas are busy playing political games out of this attack. There are reports that some Congressmen were partying on the weekend when the whole nation mourned. All these days, the hotels which were attacked always had one or the other politician staying in it everyday except for three days before the attacks. Do you smell anything fishy? Doesn’t that explain why no politician got killed in this attacks?

To the never -honorable ex- Deputy CM of Maharashtra, I would like to quote another popular dialogue form the same superhit movie, "Aadatein agar waqt par badle nahin jaate to zaroorate ban jaate hain - Sir, if habits are not changed on time, they become necessities". The netas are already getting used to the habit of making soft statements each time an attack happens. I just hope that it does not go to such a level that we start getting used so much to terrorism in India that a terror attack every 2 months becomes a necessity.

I am deeply hurt by the tragic events that have taken place in the past weeks. Events so painful that even the most powerful pain killer cant cure - the pictures of bodies lying around like sacks of rice spilled all over in one of the busiest railway stations in the world; pictures of the burning Taj, the glorious world heritage site in India; pictures of the calm Nariman house in complete disarray after the attacks; picture of the terrorist himself walking around with heavy ammunition with him - these are the ones which will stay etched in our minds forever. But let us not accept this as a routine this time. The terrorists have shown us time and again how to break the routine. This time, let us give it back to them. LeT us show them what we are really made up of.

Jai Hind

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Breaking The Routine - Part 1

November 14 2008 - Rajkot
We have to find means to stop them. We have to regroup and sort things out. We will come back!

November 17 2008 - Indore
We have improved from the last game. But we still need to sort few things out. We have to find a way to stop their big guns (Yuvi and Viru). We will bounce back!

November 20 2008 - Kanpur
It's frustrating! The matches are getting closer though. We can still fire back in this series!

November 23 2008 - Bangalore
It's not nice to lose 0-4. They are playing very well. We are not sure what we are going to do in the next few games.

November 26 2008 - Cuttack
We have tried all our tricks. They have simply been the superior side in this series. I think even 450 would be chased down by them.

April 10, 2000
Chintu's seventh standard exam results have been announced today. He has scored 73% marks

April 10, 2001
Chintu's eighth standard exam results have been announced today. He has scored 71% marks

April 11, 2002
Chintu has passed his ninth standard exam by scoring 72 % marks.

February 2003
Dad : Beta, how is your preparation for the board exam this year?
Chintu : It's going on as usual papa. I am putting in efforts to score a first class.
Dad : But Beta, is "first-class" just enough these days? Can you not put extra efforts and score high marks? After all, it is not every year that you face board exams. This is your chance to excel.
Chintu : Forget it papa, I have always been a 70% student. I don’t think I have it in me to score more marks. So I will be happy if I score a "first-class"

10:30 pm, January 10
Hi Sheela, I am home! Sorry I am late. It was a really hectic day at office. I had loads of work. There is this big project with tight deadline. I guess it will be like this for 3 more weeks.

11:00pm January 16
I am really sorry, sweetie. I could not make it to your dad's birthday today. I tried really hard to leave on time at 6'o clock. But this project is now really tight and the work keeps getting hectic. I hardly get time even for sleeping. But its only for two more weeks, dear. We will definitely celebrate next month's Valentines day at the beach side hotel. I promise you that we will have the best time of our life there!

Midnight, January 25
Sheela, please open the door, honey. I know it is a weekend and I should not have gone to work today. But this is the last time I am coming home this late. The project is almost done. No more staying back from tomorrow- I promise. Please dear, this the last time.

11 pm February 3
I know Sheela. I had promised that last week would be the end of all this hectic schedules. But what shall I do? There is this "damn critical" client requirement that has come up. And I have to work on that. Please honey, try to understand.

11pm May 15
Pritam : I can't believe this Sandeep. Sheela and you were the perfect couple - made for each other. And you both loved each other so much. What is this "Divorce" news that I hear?
Sandeep: I don’t know what went wrong in our marriage, Pritam. Sheela always kept complaining that I didn’t have time for her. I guess I just got used to the routine of "Working late" so much that even when I didn’t have work, I used to stay back at office trying to keep my boss happy. I forgot that those intimeate moments of togetherness are very essential for relationships to work. Or else, life just gets mundane and boring!

Anil Kumble Circle 10 am
Police: Hey Pulsar wala! Stop right away. You were over speeding. I am going to fine you for that. It is going to be Rs.200. for rash driving and Rs.200 for over speeding.
Pulsar Wala : Here sir, take this Rs. 100 bribe. I am late for work and have an important meeting. I don’t have time for all this now. Let me go! (hands the note and speeds away)

South End Circle 11 am
Police: Hey red-scooty girl! Stop there right away. I think you are still in school. Who gave you a vehicle so soon? Show me your license.
Girl : (sweetly) I am so sorry uncle! I am late for an exam at school and forgot to carry my license. Take this 50 Rs and let me go uncle. Pllleeeeease uncle
Police : (after taking money) Ok girl! Drive safe. Make sure next time you carry your license.

Each of the above cases present to us how life becomes routine and we start accepting things as they are. When the English team lost the first few matches against India, there was still hope that they could come back in the series. But after losing at Bangalore, it seemed that they had accepted the fact that they had come here to lose all matches. It was routine for them. Same is the case with Chintu and Sandeep. They both started to believe that life was nothing but what they got all these days. They had started to accept the routine and never challenged it. They just existed for the sake of it. In an easy exam, Chintu could have scored high marks than the "normal" 70% and on easy work days, Sandeep could have got home early and spent a nice evening with his wife whom he loved so much. But they had just started to accept what life had given them before and never tried to change.

The same is apparent in case 4 presented above. We have grown so used to corrupt cops in Bangalore that it is now a way of life. Regardless of the offense that you are caught for be it over speeding/rash driving/driving without license, the easiest way out is pay a small bribe to the ever-obliging cop and get away.

It is dangerous when we start to accept "routine" as a way of life. We turn a blind eye to the problems that we face and never try anything new. The drainage in the locality, the traffic jam at the busy junctions, the frequent power cuts during the day, the fly-over/underpass work at signals that go on forever - all these become a way of life. And it becomes very difficult to change them once we get used to it. So how do we break this routine?

[..... continued]

Friday, 14 November 2008

Let us not Understand!

Calvin: Dad, What will you present to me on my birthday?
Dad: Nothing Calvin. This year it will just be chocolates and sweets.

Calvin: But Dad, last year you bought me a nice bicycle, a wonderful T-Shirt and so many nice goodies. Why nothing this year?

Dad: It's the recession, Calvin. This year the whole world is experiencing a slowdown. I got a nice festival bonus and so many other perks last year and a promotion too. I had nice offers from other companies too. But all of a sudden, my company seems so unstable and the others don’t need me either. Everyone is obsessed with cutting costs and firing people.

Calvin: But why has this recession thing happened all of a sudden? Why cannot companies tackle this issue and the world be as nice as ever?

Dad: You are still a child Calvin, you won't understand

Munnu: Madam, It is always good be honest in life. Isn't it?

Teacher: Yes Munnu, you are right. You should always tell the truth. You should never conspire against anyone or talk behind their back. Whatever you feel about someone you should tell it directly to them. Being honest will always be rewarding.

Munnu: But why did the maths teacher spank me very badly when I was honest to her that I had not done my homework?

Teacher: She was just trying to make you a good boy, Munnu. You are still a child. You won't understand.
Chutki: O learned Sir, Don’t you always say that God created all the human beings equally? That God loves all His children regardless of whether they are rich or poor, white or black?

Temple Priest: Yes Child, you are right. The creator never differentiates his children. No one is special and no one is ignored by Him. We all are His children.

Chutki: Then why are upper castes given preference in this temple than the Dalits? Why are they not allowed in through the main gate? Why should they wait for "Aaarti" till all the upper castes have finished their prayers?

Temple Priest: It is all a tradition Chutki. You still a child. You won't understand.

Gullu: All your colleagues tell me that you are a terrific manager. You always get the work done in time and never miss any deadlines. You understand the customer's needs well and respond to the same. Is it so, sister?

Manager: (proudly) Yes Gullu, I work hard to get all the work done in time. I always ask my team members to put in that "extra" effort to deliver a quality product. I treat them as my family members and don’t mind calling them to work even on weekends. You see, delivering the product on time with quality is more important to the business than regretting it later.

Gullu: Yes Sister, but most of your team members also complain that you never let them rest. You never let them take their normal leaves and their rightful rest after a hard days work. You always stress them out with work even after projects are delivered and threaten them with bad appraisals if they don’t listen to you. Isn't that wrong?

Manager: (defensively) No Gullu, it is always essential to put the customer and business first. The employees can rest after all the work is done. Besides, meeting the deadlines and delivering quality on time is important. You should realize that.

Gullu: But what will happen if you relax the deadlines a little and allow your workers some rest. Don’t you think that will motivate them to work harder?

Manager: No my dear Gullu, you are still a child. You won't understand.

Little John: Father, You tell us that there is only one God but there are different paths to reach Him. Right?

Father: Yes my son that’s true. All religions are equal. They only help us in different ways to reach the ultimate God.

Little John: Then, anyone in this world can follow any religion and attain God. Right, Father?

Father: Yes John, You are right.

Little John: Then why do non-stop conversions happen all over the world everyday? And why is there so much killings of people in the name of religion? Why do people induce terror in people and carry out large scale destruction of lives and property?

Father: Dear John, you are still a child. You won't understand.

Calvin : Mr. President. You told us that you have started on a journey to end terrorism in this world right?

Bush: Yes Calvin, that’s true.

Calvin: So you attacked Iraq as you suspected they had weapons of mass destruction. Did you find any of them in Iraq?

Bush: No Calvin. But you realize that we are a ……

Calvin: Oh, stop it you dumb head! Were you ATLEAST successful in curbing terrorism in the world?

Bush: No Calvin. But you see America is great country and …

Calvin: Whatever! And in spite of all these failures you still think you are the best?

Bush: You wont realize that Calvin. You are still a child.

Baalak: Raj Saheb, you do realize that India is a country with lots and lots of diversity right? That inspite of all this, we are a united nation.

Raaj: Yes Baalak, you are right. Bharat Mata is great. I am proud to be born in this nation, especially in Maharastra, the nation's best state.

Baalak: But each and every state in India is unique in its own way Right? Anyone in this country has the right to reside in any part of the nation. A Marathi can go to Bangalore and work for an IT company; A fisherman's son from Rameshwaram can go on and stay at Rashtrapathi Bhavan; A young and hardworking lad from Gujarat can go on and make a big industrial empire in Bombay; A courageous cricketer from Bengal can lead the whole country against the best of the world. With so much happening all over that shows us that we all stand and rise only if we are united, why do you try breaking the country in terms of states?

Raaj: You must understand son, that I am against people from other states snatching jobs from localites. I am not against everybody.

Baalak: But look at what is happening because of you. You are instigating the peace and harmony in India's largest city. The people of the city who have collectively braved bomb blasts, heavy rains, stock markets over the years and managed to stand tall are now shooting everyone in sight and killing one another. You have ruined Mumbai.

Raaj: You will not understand it son. You are still a child.
Calvin: Hobbes, these people are so complicated. They spoil all good things in life and finally blame it on others. If growing up means facing up the harsh realities of life and losing common sense, I will never grow up.

Hobbes: You bet, Calvin. Everyone would want that!
Today is November 14th - celebrated as children's day in India. We are at our best as children - observing all the miracles of the world with acute sense; wanting to be cared and loved all the time; having a desire to scale great heights; having fun all the time and questioning all the things in sight. Let us salute the spirit of that cute and innocent childhood and try and be as enthusiastic as children always in life. Happy children's day to all!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Kalah kreedathi

When God created this world with all its ups and downs, the rich and the poor, the highs and the lows, the curves and the straight ones, the beautiful and the ugly, the blacks and the whites, the republics and the democrats, he gave one thing that is equal to all - time!

Whether you are a filthy rich son of a politician having money to burn or a poor beggar struggling for two square meals a day, a dedicated student working hard for that elusive rank in an exam or an idler whiling away all your time, a veteran Tendulkar or a debutant Jason Krejza, the inquisitive, overzealous young child investigating everything in sight or the dormant, old grandpa lying on bed all day, live near the warm equator or in the icy polar regions, a small ant or a huge elephant, an entry level junior engineer or the CEO of a company - you get equal time -24 hours a day. No more, no less!

Time is one of the basic entities in this world. Whether you like it or not, it keeps ticking along in magnitudes of micro/nanoseconds on a computer; in magnitudes of milliseconds in athletics; in magnitudes of seconds on that costly ISD call; in magnitudes of minutes in an important exam; in magnitudes of days and months during summer/semester holidays; in magnitudes of years in an individual's life; in magnitudes of centuries and millennia along the course of history. And in all these cases, it does its work diligently - just ticks along with utmost precision! No wonder then, along with mass and length, we term it one of the basic scalar quantities in physics.

Sometimes I keep wondering, what if we had the ability to stop time or change its pace? Maybe substitute some time-block in place of others? The world would then be an interesting and nice place to live in. We could re-live the moments that we enjoyed over and over again and fast forward the bad ones. The great depression and the worst recession could have been over within the wink of an eye and the happy times could go on and on. The terrorist acts could have substituted for the heroic acts. Rahul Dravid, my favorite cricketer who is on a dreadful patch right now could carry on the glorious Adelaide form forever. Wouldn't life be so nice?

The fantasy could go on and on. People could even buy and sell time then. Then a Mukesh Ambani could go on to buy all the poor peoples' times and live for more than 1000 years on his riches. The poor and the jobless people could make money by selling time. The Kareenas Bipashas and Deepikas never had to worry about aging and having to make way for someone else. The software companies could buy more time to deliver quality products on time. And when no client bought their product, they could even sell time. Then what a weird world it would all be. But fortunately or unfortunately, all this is just fantasy. Nothing of that sort can happen for real. So all you Ambanis and Bill Gates out there, better watch out - you have only one life to live. And the Bipashas will have to eventually make way for Deepikas and so on and so forth. The creator has done everything for a reason and in that lies the excitement of life. The less time one gets to prove oneself, the more recognition they get. Everything has to happen in a limited time frame- the joys, the sorrows, the mysteries, the money, everything. No comments on the fly-overs and subways that go on for ages :-) The cycle of time rolls on come what may. No wonder then, the one-dayers draw more crowds than the test matches and more recently, the T20s even better than the one-dayers.

Of late, I haven’t posted anything on my blog site. If you have noticed, the last post was more than a month ago, on my birthday. And in that month, I have posted three posts. The simplest and the most easiest of the excuses would be a two word, "No time!". But, if I had known earlier that I would not be posting for more than a month, maybe I could have divided the earlier posts more evenly.

Most people give that nice and simple excuse for not doing work or something that they like doing - "No Time". Its easy and simple. No one even questions you about it because, as I said earlier, time cannot be bought or sold. Broadly speaking, this excuse can be divided into 2 cases - not giving time when you can which is laziness; and not giving time when you can't which is helplessness. The latter is atleast acceptable while the former is not. Suppose a son cannot help his ailing mother when he has loads of work at office, then it can be considered a case of helplessness. But even on a holiday if he still prefers to loaf around, then it is really unacceptable. Most of the times, the case of helplessness arises due to the initial laziness. When a project is in early stages, we usually waste time and don’t concentrate hard. Then, when the deadlines near, the helplessness begins to show and we become frustrated. Could this not be avoided if we followed the schedule right from start? Maybe yes, but there is no way to go back in time to see if that happened. Time always goes forward. No reverse gear :-(

I have usually been a bad manager of time. I don’t know whether it was engineering college that got this change in me or I was like this from before. It is a case of egg first/hen first. During college days, I had two friends who were very dedicated to studies and who used to always work hard. If we had 10 days to study for an exam, we used to plan properly what had to be done for the 10 days. Then, those two friends would go on to execute the plan properly while I being the lazy guy would somehow allow the time to drift. And finally when 2 days remained, I used to panic and go to a helpless position. Then I used to wonder if I could buy some time from someone to finish my studies.

Anyway all those times are just memories now. Those crucial one-night stands before exams remain an integral part of college life nostalgia. But I really admire the planners who managed their time well. One of them is now trying for a career in civil services which requires dedicated efforts. I am sure he will get there because he has always been hardworking. I wish him all the best.

So what has been happening in last one and half months? So much actually. At home, my sister got married and we all had been to Pune for a trip. At office, a new project started and I have been busy in that. The Indo-Aussie series has been absorbing as ever. Diwali came and went bringing with it lots of fun and happiness. I fell sick, recovered and fell sick again! and yes, I got a nice bike :-)

All said and done about importance of time, I am hoping I will be able to improve my time management skills so that it helps myself, my current project, my future career and my life as a whole. Will try and post more consistently from now. Do come back for more on the bike and other issues. Take care.

PS: The title of the post is taken from the great Adi Shankaracharya's Bhajagovindam. You can read the entire sanskrit text and the gist here (text 12)

Friday, 26 September 2008

Language Treat

Owing to long hours spent travelling, usually I sleep off in the cab. For a change, I was looking out from the window of my cab and observing things the other day. I was just observing sign boards and advertising slogans and wondering how funny language usage can be at times. :-)

We provide sand, cement, jelly, wood, iron bars, paints, stones, bricks, tiles, etc and also house construction materials... Said one board. So what are sand, cement bricks, etc? Are they not construction materials? :-)

"We oppose metro train coming on MKK road" read one sign. How can a train come on road? It needs tracks right? What they meant was obvious but I could not help smiling :-)

"Madyapaana Maadi"
"Vaahana Chalisa Bedi"
This is the bangalore traffic cops' kannada style of asking us not to drink and drive. But the literal translation is quite funny. The first sentence means - go ahead and have intoxicating drinks. The second asks you not to drive. Isnt it funny they ask people to drink as much as they can and enjoy? No wonder bangalore is India's liquor capital. Whats life without a royal challenge? Right Mr. Mallya? :-)

"Karnataka Super Garage"
Punkchar done here
Dont mind the bad english, but dont we have enough obstacles on the roads that puncture our vehicle tires? Do we need a separate shop for that? :-)

"Fabrication, bending and sizing of home GIRLS" said a board- good heavens! What did they mean by that? I looked at this far-off board carefully. It was home grills and not girls. Maybe my pun hunting mind was working extra time to get such things that it immediately read grills as girls :-)

The best of them all was in front of a furniture shop. It read:
Sheela' s interiors and home furnitures
No comments on this! Maybe its the word 'interiors' that was misplaced :-)

After all these sign reading. I went to a restaurant the other day and was scanning their menu. The chinese section had vegetable fried rice, paneer fried rice, baby corn fried rice, chicken fried rice and finally a beijing fried rice- if veg fried rice is made from vegetables, and chicken fried rice is prepared using chicken, what is beijing fried rice prepared from? :-)

While i was thinking of putting all these thoughts into a post, i got a nice forward from one of my friends. I thought i will post it here. How is it?

So i guess i have mentioned all the wierd signs and boards that i have come across these days. I remembered a phrase we were using during our school days- when one of our friends had his birthday, he used to say , "It is my happy birthday today!" We all used to wait eagerly for sweets then. It is after going to high school that we realised the mistake in sayin that phrase. Anyway the phrase is still considered cute and I dont mind using it even now. Even today I could use, "Today is my happy birthday" and it still would not be a mistake. Right? :-)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Living after death (part 3 of 3)

[.....continued from part 2]
Read part 1 of this article here and part 2 here

So who is this person who has done so much for the nation that not a day passes without remembering him?

He is none other than "Bharath Rathna" Sir M Visvesvarayya or Sir M V - the most famous engineer India has ever produced. You can spell his name in different ways, Vishweshwariah, Visweswaraiah, etc and each of those spelling can have tens of his achievements listed and still the list would not be complete - he was such a great and prolific engineer.

Born into total poverty and deprived of facilities that we today take for granted, Sir M V's journey from being an ordinary school going village boy to achieving the highest civilian awards of the country, is one that is awe-inspiring and worth emulating.

Sir M V lost his father at a very young age but he was very determined to do well in studies. With no money to pursue this dream, he became a tutor for some rich students and funded himself. He was very disciplined and hardworking and naturally, he topped high school and the Bachelors degree at Madras University. Then he joined the College of Engineering at Pune as a Civil engineering student and graduated as an engineer topping in that too and winning a gold medal. He began his career as an engineer with the Bombay government.

His plan for controlling the flooding waters of river Moosa at Hyderabad earned him great laurels and recognition. He was called upon to construct many a dams, reservoirs, irrigation and water supply canals all of which he did with unmatchable efficiency and brilliance. His innovating skills were at their best when he designed and patented a system of automatic weir water floodgates at Khadakvasla near Pune. The world famous Brindavan gardens and the KRS at Mysore are his master-piece!

Recognizing his statesmanship, the Wodeyar of Mysore appointed him as the Dewan of Mysore - equivalent to the chief minister these days. As the Dewan, Sir M V was instrumental in the scientific and industrial advancement of the state. He rescued and resurrected the Bhadravathi Iron and Steel works limited from bankruptcy, making a profit of 2 lakh rupees - a very huge sum those days. The profit from these was used to start many schools, educational institutes, colleges and job centers. He set-up the Mysore university, SJP polytechnic institute at Bangalore and the nation's first private engineering college in the year 1917 - the University Visvesvarya College of Engineering (U V C E) which functions even to this day. He promoted education for everyone, including girls, and set up Degree College at Maharani's, Mysore. He also established the Kannada Sahitya Parishad (Kannada Literary Academy). Sensing the growing needs of the finance sector, he started the Mysore Bank which runs even today as the State Bank of Mysore. Even one of these achievements are enough for someone to be remembered long. But Sir M V did all of these and even more.

Today Bangalore is the hub of industrial and technological progress in India. It has grown to be the silicon valley of India with every major IT/Telecommunication company of the world having its office here. It is also a centre for research and defense establishments. It has grown tremendously in aerospace and heavy machine tools sector. Each of these are largely due to the efforts of two people - Dewan K Sheshadri Iyer, the administrator and Sir M V, the Engineer. It was their statesmanship and the ability to see beyond their lifetimes that has helped the progress of our state. Asia's first hydroelectric power project was started at Shivanasamudra in the year 1894 by Sir M V and Bangalore became the first India city to get electricity in the year 1917. It was instrumental in making the city a technology hub many years after his death.

Even with so much political power with him, Sir M V never mis-used it. When he was appointed the Dewan, he called up all his relatives and said that he would accept the post on the condition that no one asked for favors from him! How many of today's politicians would do that ? Once, while he was the chief engineer of Mysore, his uncle asked him to use his powers and give him a promotion. Sir M V did not promote him but ended up paying the extra money to his uncle every month from his own salary.

Yesterday when in cab I saw a huge poster which said some youth association was celebrating the 25th year of public Ganesh Utsav. There were huge larger than life cutouts of politicians who looked like rowdies and a very small picture of the lord Ganesh himself. It made me feel sick immediately by thinking how much these people go in projecting themselves. Very much unlike them, Sir M V led a simple and humble life. He was never interested in medals or laurels. But his deeds were such that medals came looking for him - he was awarded the honorary doctorate from almost all Indian universities. The British awarded him the knighthood and the Indian government - the Bharath Ratna award.

Today is 15th September. It is Sir M V's 148th birthday. It is celebrated all over the country as "Engineers' day". Even years after his death, Sir M V lives on in the hearts of each one of us. The farmers of Mandya and Mysore when they water their fields with KRS water, the workers of iron and steel companies in companies set up by him, the devotees who travel on the road from Tirupati to Tirumala, the people of Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore, the employees of Mysore Bank, the numerous students who study in institutes set up by him - Sir MV still lives for every one of them. Let us all pay our tributes to him and as Engineers let us all pledge ourselves today so that we too will follow the example set by this great man and serve the society. Happy Engineers' day to everyone!

PS: When I finished writing this article, I remembered a recent debate where people hotly debated the naming of the new international airport at Bangalore. Many argued it should be named after Kempe Gowda, the founder. Some wanted it to be named after Tippu Sultan; some wanted Rajiv Gandhi,etc. There was an article in a kannada paper who wanted it to be named after Sir M V. After all, it was Sir M V who started the Walchand Hirachnad company as far back in 1913 which today is known as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) - the only aircraft factory in India till date! We can name airports after anyone famous but naming it after Sir M V will be more apt as he was mainly responsible for the flying of planes in India. Don't you people think so?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Living after death (part 2 of 3)

[......continued from part 1]
read part 1 here
"Sir, there is a small, narrow, steel ladder that will take you up there. It is over seventy five feet till the top from where you can view how the machine works"

The factory head explained the structure of the machine to the group of officials who had come on an industrial tour. The officials were a group of middle-aged men from a developing nation and they had come to visit the advanced state-of the art machine to study the feasibility of its implementation.

"Well. then lets climb it!" said the leader among them.

Everyone including the factory head were surprised. Saying thus, he started climbing the ladder without waiting for the others. Some followed as a matter of duty, but the others gave up. He reached to the top, inspected the furnace closely and made notes. He then came down slowly as the others stood and watched in disbelief. This person was the oldest in the group. Not even the factory head had plans of showing them the top view of this huge machine. The old man's grit and determination was commendable.

All through his life, the man followed a strict and disciplined way of life. When he was determined to do a thing, no hindrance or troubles could stop him. He was a dedicated worker and helped a lot for the nation's cause even before it became independent. He was a statesman par excellence and was largely responsible for the advancement of our nation. He was one of the most illustrious persons that India has ever produced - one of those rare gems of India.

So in how many ways is he living after death?
[.....continued and concluded in part 3]

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Living after death (part 1 of 3)

"This bus-shelter is provided by Honorable MP Sri Jaffer Sheriff under MPLAD scheme"

I was looking out through the window of my cab while coming back form office when I spotted the above line at a bus-stop. It was raining a little and many people were standing under it. The shelter itself was in a very bad shape. The roof of the shelter was leaking at some places and people were getting wet and murmuring to themselves. Before I could observe any further, the cab sped away at the green light and I got back to doing what I do best on the cab- doze off :-)

Today I remember that incident in context of today's leaders. There are banners and poster projecting themselves as super-heroes. They engrave their names on fly-overs, at bus-stops, near airports and whatever they can find space on. Sometimes, they are not even responsible for initiating these development works. In most of the cases, they are just lucky to be in power when the project is inaugurated, as was the case of the new airport. Yet, they shamelessly project themselves as saviors of the country when they cannot even think beyond the next elections.

Jaffer Sherrif, Ananth Kumar, HT Sangliyana, and many others are still alive and into active politics. They have their names put up on as many hoardings / bus-stops / flyovers as you can find in the city. Yet, how many of these visit such dilapidated structures and reconstruct them? In another five or ten years, how many of us would ever remember that these were our leaders? Will we ever remember that they lived at all?

In how many ways can a person live after death?
[....continued in the next post] [Part 1 of three]

Friday, 5 September 2008

Holiday learnings

"Andy is out of office"
Content : I am on happy holidays this week - believe me, it beats school!
I got this automatically generated mail a few days back when I sent a mail to a user group in my office asking for help on a particular topic. Though I was busy with work then, it immediately reminded me that even I was due for a vacation soon. I just hoped it would come close to reminding me of my school days as I badly needed them.

I went on holidays with disturbing thoughts. After joining, It was the first time that I would be off from office for over a week. And the last day at work was an eventful one. Many of our team-mates and buddies were quitting - we had a small gathering to say good bye to them. These people were ones with whom we had the best of times in office, during team trips, etc. and it would be hard to getting used to work without them. Apart from that, a small issue involving money and one of my closest friend at work was bothering me. Though both of us were not wrong, the way the events turned out kept pricking me. And the sad part was there was nothing I could do except to try and forget it as soon as possible.
It was after a very long time that all five of my family members were traveling together. Also, the fact that it was a train journey made it even special. We would be going to the coastal town of Mangalore and from there on to my native at Karkala for the festival. I was really looking forward to a nice time with all of my relatives at the festival and enjoy the scenic beauty of these places.

To begin with, the train journey was real fun. Tosi appeared from nowhere as if using his sixth sense to drop us to the railway station in the evening. Our coach was a new one and not too crowded. My brother got his fourth semester engineering results while we were on the train and he seemed happy. We then had dinner together hearing the rumbling of the wagon wheels on the tracks. It was a nice family bonding time we had.

Ultra is real fun to travel with. From our childhood days, we have been traveling a lot together. We used to stay awake late in the night in bus to look at the dark country side illuminated by faint moonlight. The kilometer stones on the highway and the hairpin curves on the western ghats enthralled both us together. We used to memorize the names of places we visited and the distance from one place to another. Lying on his lap on the lower berth, with the train zooming towards Mysore, and watching the stars far up the sky from the window of the train refreshed many of those joyful memories of my travels with him and it was a fantastic experience.

The first half of the vacation was in Mangalore. Most part of it was spent in rest and relaxation in my aunt's place. Though we did venture out to visit other relatives, the best part of it was just lying on the bed sleeping and doing nothing whole day. It is really tough doing nothing whole day. But after working for long hours starting early morning, wading past the busy Bangalore traffic, attending meetings and parties at office, it was a welcome change - no managers around to supervise me, no calls to attend, no compulsion to get up early in the morning, no deadlines to meet, no mails to reply to - I really enjoyed it!

The town of Karkala lies in the foothills of the western ghats, making it one of the most scenic places of our state. It is one of the wettest places in the world with average annual rainfall of over 4000 mm. The natural beauty surrounding the town with beautiful green top hills and huge black rocks make it a tourist's paradise. It is a sacred town for the Jain pilgrims for its Gomateshwara statue and also to Hindu devotees for its numerous temples. My connection with this place dates back to the time of my birth as I was born here :)

The festival was celebrated with the regular pomp and gaiety - the whole joint family of around 30-40 people getting together annually for the festival, regardless of their work life or the place of residence, praying the remover of all obstacles for prosperity of the whole world, a great feast cooked in traditional style with everyone in the house participating in the preparation, and offering to the lord - all these make the festival extra special.

Apart from the festival at Karkala, we roamed around the town enjoying the scenery here. There were beautiful hills covered with clouds, the valleys full of coconut trees, rocks and greenery everywhere was a welcome change after the smoke filled concrete jungle over here.

Yesterday I was riding a bike on the country road enjoying the scenery around when this striking fact hit me - I saw the people pedaling past the road on their bicycles and zoomed past them on the bike. Most of their faces looked tired. Obviously they were tired of the difficult life in these places - no power for almost eighteen hours a day; no luxuries of life that we all take for granted - the refrigerators, the washing machines; no 2/3 BHK flats/houses for them to live in; no shelter from the heat or the rain; no transport facilities - their woes ere too much. Life for them depended on the agriculture or a related work which ultimately depended on the timely monsoons. They had no money to dine in expensive restaurants and go on long holidays. I felt sorry for them.

But with the advent of education and career opportunities, their lives are slowly changing. They now crave for those luxuries that we consider for granted. Atleast one of their children is working for either a software company/ settled in a foreign land, which leads to no shortage of money. They now want cars and bikes to roam around, large plots of land to construct big houses with high-end gadgets in it, cellular phones to keep them connected even in remote areas, inverters in the homes to guard against power cuts - it is real good news. But the real sad part of all this is it is coming at a cost - nature. The scenic beauty of the entire western ghats is in danger with forests being converted into residential plots, with illegal mining and looting of forest wealth, plastic bags thrown around everywhere, with ground water table receding to satisfy the growing demand for drinking water - it is again a sad development.

It is ultimately a vicious cycle of life. In cities/ western world, as we are becoming aware of the ill-effects of pollution, we are switching back to natural means - we want to pedal or walk to work instead of the polluting cars. We want paper bags instead of the plastic ones. We want more green spaces instead of concrete jungles. We want to reduce the use of mobiles by keeping them as far away from us as possible. There, in far away lands/ developing countries, they are abandoning cycles for motor bikes and cars, using more plastic than paper, and felling trees for building houses - the earlier we make the whole world aware of this threat, the better and nicer it is for our planet. Isn't it?

I am back today with a whole lot of memories of the trip and a whole lot of learning. The trip in itself has been really rejuvenating. And now, the disturbing thoughts have disappeared and I am ready to get back to work with more vigor. Experience has been the best teacher in my life. On this occasion of teachers' day, I want to dedicate this post to all those teachers in my life for making me what I am today. Keep visiting for more.

1. Tosi is one of my closest school friends along with Gunda, Oie, Vsb and Kulla.
2. More pictures will be uploaded to picassa soon.
3. Names have been changed to protect identities :)

Sunday, 17 August 2008

One World - One Dream!

"Almost two thirds of our planet is covered with water. The earliest life-forms in this planet all evolved through water. Isn't it fitting that the greatest champion ever on the planet is from Water? After all, the blue whale, the largest mammal in the planet is from water. Right?" … these were my initial thoughts on hearing the biggest sporting feat that was achieved today.

Well, what happened today then? Michael Phelps of the United States of America won his 8th gold medal in swimming events at the ongoing Beijing 2008 Olympic games, breaking all previous records to become the greatest Olympian of all times. Phew! Isn't that a phenomenal achievement? What's more? He leads the list of all time gold medal winners in Olympics by having won 14 golds!

Olympics is the greatest sporting event that happens in the world. A medal at these games is any country's aspiration and the dream of every athlete. Winning a medal is in itself a spectacular achievement. But winning gold - not one, not two - but eight of them - awesome! I am at real loss of words at such an amazing feat. I consider myself lucky that I witnessed the breaking of this record live on television. Even though it was Phelps' moment of glory, I felt honored to have seen it happen live!

I am not an ardent follower of the games nor do I know how many events are held in total at the present Olympic games. But being a supporter of all sports, I have been following the important news of Olympics very closely. When the media in our country had not grown to such obnoxious levels, our very own Doordarshan used to air some of the track and field, swimming and indoor events of the Olympics. I also faintly remember watching the Opening ceremony of the games (maybe Atlanta, 1996 or Sydney, 2000) These games have always captivated me. Athletes from all over the world coming together regardless of their race, culture, socio-political situation in the country and playing in the spirit of the game is what makes these events so remarkable. I wanted India to win a medal in any event that it participated. But soon, I learnt that our country's record at the games was not a one to be envied at. With the mentally tough Chinese and Japanese on one side, the quick Africans on other and the physically well-built athletes from Australia and US, India never stood a chance. Nevertheless, I was happy for the games itself and celebrated the lone bronze or silver medals that came in our way.

Just a fortnight ago, I didn't even know of someone called Phelps. For that matter, I dint even know someone called Abhinav Bindra. Thanks to a cricket-crazy nation like ours, and the media hype surrounding only few players, there was nothing much I knew about them. India's most successful individual moment of glory came in this Olympics when Abhinav made us proud by winning the first individual gold medal for India since 1900. It could be rated right there as one the greatest sporting achievements by India.

Applauses and prizes kept pouring in for Abhinav from the time the news of the medal came. Governments of state, sports organizations, companies, business tycoons all over the country went on to announce awards for him. I felt good that some sport other than cricket is finally getting its due in this nation. It is now time the governments started thinking more than just announcing awards and followed it up by encouraging more and more people into taking up sports as professionals. For a nation of over one billion people, just an individual gold medal at Olympics is not enough. The infrastructure for sports should be set-up, transparency in selection should be ensured and more importantly, the budding talents should be nurtured so that they focus clearly on their goals - getting glory for our nation.

When we see China or the United States winning so many medals in Olympics in event after event, every four years, we just admire their talent, praise their achievements, grumble that our country can never get there and forget all about it once the events are over. But in reality, each and every medal in Olympics is not just an individual moment of glory which the Chinese or Americans always manage to achieve. It is not something which can be achieved by just peaking at the right time. Each and every athlete undergoes years of rigorous trainings, puts in dedicated efforts, all the while following a strict diet, each moment staying determined and not losing focus on his ultimate goal - the medal. Winning the medal is just the culmination of all these- of all their hard work paying off, of finally getting recognition for their struggle. I am told, athletes in China are trained for months together without even getting a chance to meet their parents till they win a medal for the country. Such is the country's determination. No wonder then they are at the top of the table this year.

Phelps' story is no different. Form the tender age when he was diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder, he started training as a swimmer. He spent days and days in the swimming pool continuously preparing for that ultimate feat - achieving the unachievable! He went into 2000 Sydney Olympics as a teenager and started his quest to become the greatest Olympians of all times. He didn't have it easy. But he was not the one to give up. He believed in himself and never let go of his goal. Even in this Olympics, during one of the races, his goggles mal-functioned. Inspite of that, he swam away to glory breaking the world record!

Winning a gold medal is one thing that every athlete, every sports-person dreams of. It is the greatest sporting honour that could be bestowed upon you. Inspite of being the champion that he is, Roger Federer could only manage a doubles gold in tennis till now. And it is in this context that Phelps is outstanding. It seemed that he won a gold medal everyday. Today's newspaper carried reports of his seventh gold medal and by the time we could read it, he had already conquered eight! Today was the culmination of all his hard work. But it is certainly not the end. Great going Phelps! Great going all athletes! The dream world is at stake. It is yours to take!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Bharat Mata ki Jai!

"At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom"
Sixty one years have passed since the speech by Nehru on the midnight of 15th August, 1947 but each time we hear it, the thrill, joy and excitement is the same. On this happy occasion, I wish each one of my compatriots a very happy independence day.

The very word "freedom" has amazed me from the time I was a kid. Dad used to tell me the stories of sacrifices made by numerous freedom fighters every night when we went to bed. When we were in school, we were summoned to the school play-ground by 7:30 AM early morning in neat uniforms and polished, white, shoes for the "flag-hoisting ceremony". Years later, I used to keenly observe the prime minister (Vajpayee, most of the times) hoist the flag at the "red-fort" and deliver his address to the nation. Seeing the magnificent tri-colour fly atop the grand fort filled me with some kind of respect and pride at the same time. I feel honored to be a citizen of this great country.

On this happy occasion, let us take a few moments to remember all the great fighters who laid down the life for our country. Usually, we associate the freedom of India with one man- Mahatma Gandhi. I don't disagree. But there are other numerous heroes who laid down their lives for the sole purpose of achieving freedom. Since 1857, right from Rani Lakshmi Bai, Mangal Pandey, Maulana Azad, Lala Lajpat Rai till Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sarojini Naidu, Tilak, etc numerous people have toiled, suffered, fought and ultimately sacrificed themselves for this nation. Each one of them deserves a special mention and appreciation form us.

From the stories that my Dad told, I feel like sharing the stories(in bits and pieces) of two of the lesser known fighters and the even bigger role they played in making our country what it is today.

"Bharat Mata ki Jai!"

The policman who held the whip in his hand was surprised. This time he hit even harder.

"Vande Mataram!"

How could it be? Was it whiplashes he was giving or some kind of energy tablets? He used all his force to this time.

"Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai!"

With every stroke of the whip, the slogan shouting became harder. The police man grew ashamed of himself. And the fact that he was hitting a small boy of 15 years made it even worse. Who was this boy who showed so much of strength and patriotism at such a young age?

He was none other than Chandrashekar Azad - the leader who inspired a new breed of young freedom fighters - revolutionaries. Their only mission in life was "Complete Freedom" - Azaadi.

Azad was inspired by Gandhi's ideals at a very young age. When he was 15, he participated in a peace rally in Varanasi. He was enraged when a police-man hit unarmed civilians and he attacked the police with a stone. When he was produced in the court and asked his name by the magistrate, he said "Azad". He was sentenced to 15 whip lashes and that was when the above incident happened.

Due to difference in ideology with Gandhi, Azad formed a team of freedom fighters who believed that only way for India's independence was revolt against the British with arms. He inspired the likes of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, RamPrasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan and others to join him. Since he had declared himself free, he never let himself be captured alive. When he knew he was about to be captured, he shot himself, sacrificing himself to the cause of independence.

"Mysore celebrates its 61st independence day today!"

"Happy Independence Day to all people of Hyderabad"

"The prime minister of Junagadh wishes all his country men a happy independence day"

Imagine the newspapers with above lines. Imagine 560 more countries in the world today - all small, small pieces of land that you don’t even know where one ends and other starts. Imagine requiring a passport to visit Chennai. Imagine planning a vacation to Goa and having to pass through 5 different countries for it. Imagine river Ganga to be shared by 80 different nations. Too much, isn't it? This could have been very much possible had it not been for one man - Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

When the British left India as per the "Partition of India cum India Independence act,1947", they also left with us 565 independent princely states and provinces. The power hungry rulers and leaders, immediately declared their independence and wanted to form separate nations. The daunting task of unifying them and making them agree to one nation was taken up by Patel. In some cases he used "smart talk"; diplomacy in others; "brute military force" for others but finally ended up unifying each and every of these states to the union of India. He was rightly titled - "The Iron Man of India".

It was almost a sure fact that India would get independence following "Quit India" movement in 1942 the end of World war2 in 1945. But the demand for a separate Muslim nation in Bengal and Punjab provinces was very strong and the Congress and the Muslim League had almost decided on a proposal to split the nation in number of states based on religious majority. But it was Patel who convinced both the parties and finally brought the current partition plan into place. Though the riots and violence during partition were really bad and provocative, it was important that the nations which had just acquired independence did not run into disarray. He took lead and organized refugee camps, peace rallies and restored order in the nation.

Patel is surely one among elite freedom fighters but he will always be remembered for his efforts of unifying a nation so big and so much diverse.

Each and every fighter who has laid down his life for this nation has given us this sweet fruit of independence. On this joyous day when we celebrate the spirit of independence, let us rasie a toast to all those great people. Jai Hind!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Next is what?

“Unbelievable!” exclaims Aamir Khan sitting on his couch and enjoying the surround sound of the new mobile in his hand. He has had a haircut and looks too mature - This is a new ad for the recently launched i450 music phone from SamsungMobile. The software in the phone belongs to the company for which I work for but one reason which would compel me to buy that phone is definitely Aamir Khan – my favorite actor. He has transformed nicely in the ad world. It seems ages since that Coke ad where he abuses a waiter at a bar with words like “baal ki dukaan” and “flower pot” because that poor chap does not know “thanda matlab coca cola”.

After many days, I had the fortune of getting the TV remote control in my hands this Sunday. Most of the times, either Panini will have her serials to watch or Ultra will have his premier league soccer matches. If both are not there, mum would want to watch her “boogie woogie” style programs. It seems that I had forgotten that TV could also be a source of entertainment all these days. So when I got a chance to watch it, I kept surfing looking out for nice shows. The advertising world has changed a lot after that “cola wars” days. Today, a young girl gives her dad a cheque to buy a new big car, a couple keep calling each other because the roaming tariffs and call rates have dropped to an all time low, a cute pug assists a little girl with chores and is very “happy to help”... Many ads like these are nice and fun to watch.

I like to watch sports and so, whenever I get a chance to watch TV, I keep hoping that there is some live sporting event going on. Sunday was a great day for sports. There was a formula one race going on the Silverstone circuit in England. There was the Asia Cup final between India and Sri Lanka going on. But the ultimate match was live from the famous All-England club in Wimbledon, where the world’s current number one player and probably the best player ever, Roger Federer was fighting it out against his nemesis – Rafael Nadal.

I crave for watching live tennis or cricketing events live on TV but usually I don’t get a chance. But today I had a choice of watching either. I considered myself lucky. First, I watched the cricket match – after making mockery of chasing by successfully scoring scores above 300 in the league matches, Indians were struggling to score a modest 273 in the finals. It was saddening. Some new guy with a fitting name “mended” the torn apart match by Sehwag's early fireworks into his country’s favour. It was really disappointing for India. The ghosts of the finals had came back to haunt them again. So I switched to tennis.

Since the time I started following tennis, I have had just one favorite – Roger Federer. His utter dominance on the tennis court and his ability to turn any situation to his favor has just never ceased to amaze me. Time and again, he has demolished his opponents with his fierce ground strokes and “never-say-die” attitude. I don’t understand the details of the shots in tennis that well but if a Federer match is going on, I dare not to miss it for the sheer ruthlessness he exudes in his games.

Despite being the champion that he is, I admire Federer more because of his off-court attitude. He is always calm and composed on and off the field – whether in victory or defeat. His mannerisms are worth emulating and his sense of humor, impeccable. Most champions that I know of, for example some of the Australian cricket team members are arrogant about their success and that makes me dislike them but Federer is different. The others just display their power and arrogance but Federer is all grace and humility.

So when I watched tennis that day, I whole-heartedly wanted Federer to win his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title, a record that no other player has been able to achieve in the open era. But if cricket was saddening, this match was even disappointing – at least till the first rain interruption. Federer faced a very rare threat of losing in straight sets to Rafael Nadal, the same Spanish lad who has been denying him the only grand slam to have eluded him for three years consecutively, the same guy who defeated him in straight sets a month ago at Paris – in the shortest final ever at French Open. It was a sad day for all Federer fans till then. I just could not watch it. I went to bed wondering what would be the eventual outcome of this match.

But what a final it turned out to be! The longest match to played at a Wimbledon final, the most fiercest battle ever, two players giving it whatever they had, matching each other shot to shot - the critics have still not stopped describing the glory of the match. Eventually, after a marathon time and in complete darkness, the winner was decided. It was as though the dark clouds and the entire court was in darkness only to mourn the fall of a great champion. But the opponent who defeated him surely deserved to win.

Federer has been defeated. He is not as invincible as he used to be. All is fans are faced with the same question - next is what? He faces a threat of losing his world number title to Nadal who is matching him shot to shot on all surfaces. His record of most number of consecutive wins has been broken. But the good thing is that the man himself is not. That’s the best part of Federer. He never gives up. When Bjorn Borg was defeated after 5 consecutive Wimbledon wins in 1981, he walked away from the ceremonies and never came back to playing grand slam again. He spoilt his life with an unsuccessful marriage, bankruptcy, rumoured drug abuse, etc. But Federer is not that kind of a person. He announced after the match that he would come back again and try next year. He praised Nadal wholeheartedly. And that’s what distinguishes the champs from the rest - they stay and fight back. Dont they?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Musings - a year after

“Sir, All that I know in life is this. This has been my bread and butter for almost a decade now. What other job will I get?”

The other day it was raining very heavily and it was late in the night. I was going home in the cab that my company had provided me. I was surprised to find that even in that heavy rain, the driver had not put the “windshield wiper” on. Since I was alone in the cab and didn’t have anything else to do, I started to converse with the driver. It was during that chat that he said the above lines.

This guy was no ordinary driver. He had an amazing talent of driving vehicles. From a small motor vehicle to a large bus, he had driven all kinds of vehicles. He had an experience of driving vehicles in all kinds of terrain and weather. His driving instincts in the city was one for which anyone would envy him for. And he was not overconfident about himself. The only reason that he had not put the wipers on was that the company for which he worked didn’t take care of such an important detail while giving the cab to him. But he had not complained. He just treaded cautiously, following the tail lamp of the vehicle in front of him.

During the course of the conversation with him, I got to know many things. The transport companies never gave the drivers their true share. They used the drivers according their whims and never cared anything about their welfare. Sometimes they had to work very late after midnight and be prepared for hectic day early next morning. But the most startling fact that I learned from him that day sitting in that cab was this – the driver was a graduate and knew to converse fluently in five different languages. He held a bachelor’s degree in commerce. Inspite of this, he had made the above statement!

This set me thinking. Even I am nothing but a graduate. I just finished my degree last year and entered into this corporate world. Today, I will be finishing one glorious year of work-life. It surely calls for a nice celebration. It really feels nice as you are independent and your life is in your hands. It feels like being gifted with all the happiness. Does it really feel so?

Well, the answer is “not as much”. And what is it that makes me say that? Am I not happy at being at the centre of a booming technology stream? Am I not happy at working at a nice place with all the luxuries provided by the company? Am I not privileged that my bank balance is replenished by nice salary at the end of the month? Does it not feel good when a cab driver who is ten to fifteen older to you addresses you as “sir” and asks you to teach him how to use his cell phone? Am I not leading a respectable life in the society? Yes, yes and yes. The answer to each one of these is yes. But is that all that there is in life?

The nicest part of life was the days spent at school and college. We had a big gang of friends who used to have fun in every possible way. We sat near coffee shop or canteen or even in the classrooms after classes and discussed all topics under the sun with so much of enthusiasm. We felt we had the power to change the world. We took responsibility of organizing fests, co curricular events and slogged day in and day out to make it successful. The joy we felt when something worked as expected was immense. We worked in teams even then. There was no misunderstanding, backstabbing, dominating, jealousy - nothing. It was pure fun and even if something dint work as expected, there was no one crib about it. We took collective responsibility for it- not one person was pin pointed or blamed. We worked to please ourselves. Each one of us enjoyed all these as much as the other. It was natural that I expected the same when I entered the corporate world.

But what I have seen in this year at office is quite different. There is a specific process that is to be followed for each kind of work. Sometimes the process makes sense but in most cases it is followed only because someone in the top level management thinks it as a “best practice”. Some will be lucky enough to be put into teams with team mates of their kind. They get all kind of help from seniors and grow well. But the not-so-lucky ones struggle. And then there are those bosses/managers/leads or whatever they are called. They are in charge of your appraisals/salary reviews and they are the ones whom you cannot risk hurting. You have to please them no matter what. Some bosses are nice. They nurture talents in their team and help them grow. People feel motivated to work for them. They inspire innovation and lead by example. Even the teams that they lead will be united. They help each other and work together. Getting teams and managers like that is again, luck.

Then there is a second category of bosses. The ones who want to suck the last drop of blood in you and make you slog like anything. They are those sadist creatures who think that the whole world should follow the rules that they set. Outwardly, they are all smiles and maintain a chum-chum relationship with you. But somehow they make sure that they ruin you. If you end up with bosses like these, you get too much frustrated, work gets so mundane and life becomes hell. Some even start working only to please their bosses and get a good review. Some reach a point where all their creativity gets lost because of the frustration in them and that’s not only bad for them but in turn it affects everyone around them including the company that they work for.

The most unfortunate part of all this is that both these good and bad parts exist in the same company. The ones who suffer will watch the ones who enjoy their work and get even frustrated. They curse their destiny to be in teams like theirs. Eventually, they either become sobre and unproductive or quit and go in search of greener pastures leading to losses for the company.

I have had an opportunity to witness both the good and bad aspects of the work life in this one year at work. Work in itself is really challenging – presenting many situations to analyze, throwing many problems to be solved, etc. Working on all these is nice and I get to learn a lot of things. But the bad aspects of work life mentioned above have taken their toll on me. On some occasions I have given more than 14 hours in a day for work being left with no time for myself, let alone my family. In a particular week, Ultra used to be sleeping when I left home in the morning and had already gone to bed when I came back in the night. In the weekend, he exclaimed, “Thank God I saw you at least today!” In college, even during the exam time, I managed to get some time to watch some sports and movies on TV. We used to even bunk classes and go to the much awaited movie of the year. Now, TV is a thing of the past. The much awaited movie of the year has already come and gone without me even knowing about it. The only day et for ourselves are weekends, where we usually plan loads of things to do and end up executing none.

To the outside world, we are all much envied. They feel that we live in a life of luxury - with nice air-conditioned offices to work in, with high paying jobs affording all that you can dream of, roaming around the city in nice cars, going on trips to expensive places. People feel we have money to burn and try extracting the maximum from us. When in college, I could roam around the city even in the night without any fear. Now, it is not safe anymore – even a rickshaw driver demand more when he ferries a “techie”, a traffic cop fines at least five hundred rupees when he catches us for a petty offence, a vegetable vendor claims almost double the normal rate for his vegetables when he sells in apartments. In a way it is contributing significantly to the high cost of living in these silicon cities. But the truth is we live a life full of stress and fear. At work, we are faced with work pressure, weekly targets, and monthly deadlines. Outside, we are faced with envious people trying to loot money from us in every possible way. At home, we are faced with fatigue and depression which leads to cracks in normal relationships. Besides the job security is totally gone. Any moment, your company could be acquired, shut down or merged leading to total mayhem in the organization. What other skills do we posses if all of a sudden the whole industry comes to a halt – nothing! At least my cab driver who is a graduate knows how to drive in a city with so much of traffic. We cant even do that.

These were all my musings on the occasion of my first anniversary at work. Though work has given me a lot of knowledge and skills technically, one main take home point that I have learnt is this – having the right attitude is all that matters in life. Though life may seem frustrating and depressing during times of trouble, you can always look back at it later with feeling of satisfaction. At the end of the day, this feeling of satisfaction is all that matters. Even if you work for hours together and are not satisified, there will be frustration. But, on the other hand, even an hour's work which satisfies you can keep you happy for days. I want to thank many of my colleagues, (especially my batch mates and mentors in team) who made me realize this. Having the right attitude can in itself solve many of the problems in life. So, in spite of all the tough and sad days at work, I would like to look back at all the good things that have happened to me during this one year and make it even better going further. Tough times don’t always last. But tough people do – Right?

Monday, 23 June 2008

Ultra's Diary

21 February 2001
"My name is G****** S****. I am fine. I am 12 years 85 days old. I study in seventh standard, Cordial High School. I have studied here from nursery. I live in V*****r, Bangalore. I have a brother who eats more, has a soft stomach and studies in tenth standard. He studies well. I have a sister, but wait I forgot - my brother's name is Sh**** Dont feel bad I am absent minded you know. My sister's name is Ra*****. She studies in PUC and does not have soft stomach... "

These are lines flicked directly out of Ultra's first dairy entry when he was in seventh standard at school. I was in tenth standard then. I happened to read this dairy the other day and immediately my mind lost into my own wonderland of thoughts -

Siblings are the best friends that anybody can get. They help us to shape our personality and play an important role in what we become in life. I have been very lucky to have two siblings - an elder sister and a younger brother, both of whom have influenced me a lot. Most of my friends and relatives, have had siblings and have been influenced by them. Unfortunately these days, due to the "one-child-per-family" norm that is followed by most families, siblings are disappearing fast and the so is the fun in growing up.

As a small child, a large part of your growing up and grasping things happens only through imitation. Usually, it is the mother who imitates actions for us and teaches us new things in life. But this becomes more effective if there is a sibling who is near our age who can imitate this for us. Then the learning process is simplified further. My mother was a working woman and as such it was difficult to watch the three of us all the time. When Panini was young, she was left at our granny's house in the village where she imitated her cousins and learnt. Then it was my turn to imitate her. I used to follow her around and do whatever she did. If she drank milk in a cup, I would also ask for a cup. If she sat on a sofa while watching TV, I would sit too. If she put nail polish on her toes, I would do it too. I wanted long hair like her. I even cried ands got a frock for myself so that I wanted to dress like her :-) but all that was when i was too small to know the difference.

As I grew up, I realised that I could not imitate her all the time. By then, I had learnt most of the things from her and was ready for more. So, adapting to a new teacher became very easy. My mother also found it easy to teach me. Nevertheless, Panini was and has always been my strength. As a elder sister, she has supported me when I needed it, protected me, encouraged me to do better. I have been really lucky to have a sister like her. When mom used to go to work, she used to leave the two of us alone in the house. We used to play nice games together and would spend hours together imagining fantasy situations. We used to talk about what we would do if a thief entered the house at that time - how we would take all the weapons in the house and attack him. We used to talk about what we would do when we grew up - I always wanted to be a bus/train driver and she a home maker. We would talk about how we both would handle the other bullying friends in our neighbourhood. In many ways, all these helped a lot in shaping our minds for the future years.

I always used to wonder how it would feel if I had an elder borther and a sister together. Then it would be more of a learning experience as both of them would guide me. Ultra dint need to wonder about that. He had an elder sister and a brother. I am not sure whether I have handled the responsibility of being an elder brother as well as Panini has done to me. But I have always adored Ultra. When he was a baby, (a real cry baby) I was jealous of him as he was given all the attention. I still dont know why Panini never felt anything of that sort about me. Most of the time, I was the one who used to make him cry. But as time passed, the feeling of jealousy was replaced by some feeling more powerful. I just admired his ability to grasp things soon and his intelligence. Maybe it was because he had two people to imitate and learn. But his ability to relate to things and find out new things was awesome. He. in turn, has always followed my foot steps, trying to learn by imitation. He used to watch me play video games, he mastered it. He used to watch me use the computer, he became a computer expert. When I started writing a diary when I was in tenth standard, he started one too. When i stopped, he too stopped :-)

Ultra is a nice brother to hang out with. Except for the time when a soccer match is going on when he gets a bit hyper, he is fun to be with all the time. He makes fun of my plump body and that is reflected in the way he has drawn my picture (top left corner of this page - blog profile pic) and in the diary entry that he has written. He is a real "Gizmo - Geek" in sense he can master the art of using any gizmo/gadget within minutes. He is humorous too. Panini, Ultra and I spend hours together talking about anything and everything under the sun and manage to have a great time together. Sometimes even a silly discussion can lead to hours of entertainment for all of us.

Ultra and Panini have always been my strengths. They have always been there for me supporting me, cheering me up when I was down, celebrating when I was successful. I guess everyone i know who has a sibling has similar story to tell about theirs brothers and sisters. It is a real gift of God to have been born with siblings. For those who are not that lucky, there is no need to worry or feel sad. You will always get friends who become as close as your siblings. Isn't it ? But just choose yor frineds with care. Bye for now. Will keep posting soon.

1. Names are changed to protect identities.

2. I know it is wrong to read someone else's diary and publish it without their consent. But the copyright issue in this context has been taken care of