Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Cost of Development

I was listening to music on my phone and enjoying my small nap in the cab. But the nap was irritating because the interiors of the cab had gotten too hot owing to a sunny day. Sweating, I opened the window of the cab a little and peeped outside….

The site that I saw was ghastly. A huge tree, probably the last in that entire stretch, was being razed down with bulldozers. Almost the entire road had been barricaded and dug up and the vehicles were moving on a narrow single lane strip, which had spread over to the footpath. The pedestrians had no space to go but along with the crawling vehicles listening to the loud noises of the engine and taking in all the smoke. The buildings on either side of the road had been demolished and only the dilapidated skeletons stood in place of what could once be called as hotels, shops and houses. Each one of these structures had a story of plight to tell. They just lay there, being mute witness to all the “development” that was going on around them

On my last birthday, I had written a post titled “Language treat” where I had mentioned about a particular poster which had opposed the metro train coming on MKK road. I had laughed about a train coming on a road then. That seemed quite funny and hard to comprehend. But today, anyone who passes through MKK road will definitely agree with me that the metro train has virtually run in to the lives of everyone on that road, destroying everything on its way.

The MKK road from Navrang to Malleshwaram has gone awfully bad. In fact, vehicles are just happy crawling on what remains of a road filled with potholes and dust. Pedestrians are in an even worse situation. They can’t even walk on the road, let alone cross it. This story is the same everywhere in Bangalore. What were once the prized greens of Bangalore have now been reduced to dusty rubble.

If you have been in Bangalore for more than 5 years and have been to places in the heart of the city, your heart can definitely feel the pain. The erstwhile MG road lined with pink bougainvillea flowers, parts of cubbon park, the dense canopy covered Sheshadri road, the tree lined Nanda talkies road are now history. Everywhere green barricades have come up with the signs of “Namma metro” on them making us dream of the day when eventually metro becomes operational.

Maybe in another 3-4 years, Bangalore might be completely different. With all the infrastructure/ construction projects coming to an end, the city might be a lot better than before. But the people who have lost their livelihoods because of their shops being razed down, the ones who have suffered due to the ongoing construction work, etc will never be able to appreciate the metro even when it becomes operational. Also, the harm done to the city’s fragile ecosystem is irreparable. We have already lost lots of the city’s bird species and lakes owing to pollution and the real estate boom. The metro work is already straining the city’s roads to unbearable proportions. Thousands of new vehicles are added to the roads everyday adding to the city’s woes. We are treading on the path of development by burdening our resources.

Even though we could not reach a conclusion to the Copenhagen summit on climate change, one thing that is clear from the attention to his topic is this – we, the developing nations cannot take the “high carbon” path towards development like the “Industrially revolutionized” developed nations. This will put a tremendous pressure on the natural resources and cause irreparable damage to the earth in the long term. Already, we can feel the climate change happening around us. Bangalore’s much acclaimed weather has slowly deteriorated over the years and is expected to go worse. Natural calamities are occurring more frequently than before. The signs are ominous.

It is now clear to us that the development for the “third world” comes at a price, a large one at that. What are the ways in which we can bring down this cost in a way that causes least harm to the nation? I was reading the book “Imagining India” by Nandan Nilekani and he has highlighted this issue. He says that the most efficient path towards progress with least harm to the natural resources would be to have “Carbon trade” – ie, put a price on all carbon emissions and by encouraging innovative solutions to the infrastructure problems. This can be done by corporate involvement in the public sector projects. When private sector companies are provided incentives by the government to save on emissions, they come up with novel approaches for cutting down emissions.

The cost of development is no doubt, high. But we have to make sure that the above schemes are also implemented so that even nature does not lose out. It is everybody’s desire to crave for a life of luxury and comfort. The approach we follow at this point of time might eventually give our future generations a developed world. But, only a careful and well-thought out approach will make sure that they will enjoy the benefits without suffering the consequences.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Boarding the Train - Part 2

We were almost to the end of Banaswadi when we saw a traffic pile-up. My heart just skipped a beat. “Oh, no! Not today” I said to myself. We waited for two minutes and I started to get restless. I asked the driver to take a u-turn and take an alternate route which he did. We managed to cross the bottle-neck only to land up in an even bigger pile-up of vehicles. I uttered some profanity to myself. I guess the heavens heard it. They responded by showers, rubbing salt on my already aggravated wounds. It was 6pm already. There was no chance that I would reach by 7pm today.

All the decisions I had made earlier that day came back to haunt me now. I could have taken a sick leave owing to my injury. I could have taken a vehicle and drove home early. I could have atleast taken a Volvo at 4:30pm. But no, I wanted to take the cab and risk myself. But I had half expected the “late-comer” to come. I had half- expected my cab mates to stop for food. I had half-expected the rains. I surely never expected all three to happen on the same day, especially today. I had estimated in the morning that in the worst case, I would reach home by 7:30pm. There was a chance that I would not make even by the worst case time…

We were now slowly crawling on the streets of Fraser town and Cantonment areas. The poor driver was trying his best to move faster. I noticed that the wipers of the cab were not working because of the crash last day! Not the first of all troubles – I told myself. Maybe he had planned to service the vehicle over the weekend. But even he had not expected that it would rain today itself and play spoilsport.

I started to text Ultra with more fervor now, flooding him with all sorts of questions. Thankfully he was handling it well. He had packed all stuff into the suitcase, got food packed for us and even got the banana. But he could not find a bag to put some stuff in as the suit-case was overflowing. Wait a minute, I thought to myself. I had a bag with me which fit all the things he mentioned. But unfortunately, that bag was still stuck in traffic with me and I myself did not know when I would reach. I even thought that maybe I would go to Ypr directly in my office attire and he would lock the house, get all stuff and join me there. But that would be a huge responsibility on him. He just said, “hogolo! You come home, we will go together. You tell if it is absolutely necessary”. Honestly I still did not know if it was.

The cab mates, especially the late-comer now realized that I was acting a bit restless and tried to talk to me. I tried to tell all of them indirectly that I was really angry with them for not being supportive when I needed it the most. Their reaction was really indifferent. Either they had understood everything I meant and didn’t have anything comforting to say, or they were too dumb not to understand what I meant. Either ways, there was no point in pressing it further so I indulged in some playful banter with one of them.

It was 7pm when I reached Navrang, a good 20 minutes from my place. Given the trafiic today, it would be more than 20 minutes. I had to make a decision whether to go home or go to Ypr. I had to make sure that house was locked. I had my bag which had some stuff to be filled. I could not entrust such a huge responsibility on ultra yet. So I decided to go home. I asked the driver to take as many “F(s)hortcuts and chota F(s)hortcuts” as possible to reach home soon. Finally after a further half an hour of maneuvering the traffic, I finally reached home by 7:30pm. Still a good 100 minutes before train departed.

I asked Ultra to pack up everything in my bag including the travel tickets while I freshened up and got ready. He did that and locked up all the doors and windows. Finally, after double checking everything and making sure that everything was in place, I locked the door. Ready to leave…

“Have you taken the tickets?” Ultra asked me. I said, “I thought I asked you to put it in the bag”. I was getting a little frustrated but there was no way we could go without tickets. Nor was there any point in fighting with him now. I found myself unlocking the door, running to the TV stand and putting the tickets in the bag. Finally, after a complete scan of the place again, it was locked and we started to walk towards the auto-rickshaw… It was 7:50pm

I was woken up from my thoughts when the auto suddenly came to a halt. The station was almost three fourths of a kilometer away. I asked the rickshaw driver what was the problem. He said that he had run out of fuel. We had to get down. The place was dark and it was at such a distance that no autos would agree to come from there to the railway station. It was 8:15 pm now. I could see the tension in Ultra’s face. But this was not the first blow to me that day. I asked him not to panic. We started to walk slowly towards the station. We passed through the “Metro” outlet, went under the yeswantpur bridge and towards the railway station. It was dark and we used the headlights of vehicles to guide us. We entered the station through a walkway directly over the tracks. It was 8:35pm now.

Since we were walking on the tracks itself we did not have to take the over bridge to get to our platform. We just ran over to the platform on which our train would come. Our past knowledge that the Garib Rath train would always leave from either platform 4 or 5 helped a lot. Finally, we saw our train – the green colored Garib Rath express comprising completely of AC coaches. We had finally made it to the train. It was 8:40pm now. We walked towards the train from the rear of it. Our coach was G12. So we expected it to be at the rear of the train. We crossed the first two general coaches and reached the first reserved 3A coach. It was marked “G1”! One more jhatka in the long list for today – and probably the last. We walked past almost the entire train (except the engine and G13) and finally reached our coach and ran to our seat. It was 8:45pm

Never in the history of our train travels had we reached a station so late. But we were happy that we had finally made it against all odds. The AC inside the train was a welcome relief for our sweating bodies. Both of us relaxed for a while and started to talk. We laughed about how pathetic we would be if we had finally managed to run till the train and remembered that we forgot the tickets back home! Thankfully that had not happened. Ultra asked me if I had kept the house keys safely. I said yes and checked in my bag to make sure. But I had packed so much stuff haphazardly that I could not find them. Just when I thought everything was fine again, we ran into this new “key” problem! Finally, as the train slowly moved out of Ypr platform at 8:53pm, we ransacked the whole bag and managed to find the keys. We were totally exhausted from the happenings. Right time for dinner, we thought.

As I lay in the comfort of my lower berth snuggled up in a cosy blanket that night, with the train rumbling past sleepy villages in rain, I reflected on the happenings of the whole day. We were pushed to the limits with one after the other tough situations inflicted on us. But we had finally made it to the train with our perseverance. I was wondering whether it was God’s way of punishing us for not attending the fest or something. After all, he is called the destroyer of all troubles. If someone messes with Him, He could as well present them with troubles- Right? Then this realization drew upon me. This year, I expected the experience of Hyderabad to be less exciting because I would miss all the festive fever of Karkala. But even before we reached Hyderabad, we had already experienced so many exciting moments that even with little happening, we would always return with so many memories to treasure. With this realization, all my worries, tensions and anger towards fellow cab-mates vanished and I was able to appreciate the beauty of life as God presented it to me. That’s the true rationale behind celebrating festivals Isn’t it?

PS: YPR - Railway code for Bangalore's new complementary railway station at Yeswantpur. Due to many long distance trains starting from here these days, the load on SBC (Bangalore City) railway station is greatly reduced.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Boarding the train - Part 1

“Boarding 21-08-09 2050 hours at YPR”

I heaved a sigh of relief as I held the ticket in my hands. It was 8:10 PM. We still had a good 40 minutes to go and we were almost there. Given the incidents of the last few hours, I really had my doubts that we would make it so smoothly. Ultra had made it as comfortable for me as possible. I looked at his spectacle covered face. He still seemed a little fidgety about reaching on time. I asked him to relax assuring that everything would turn out fine. Sitting there in that auto-rickshaw headed towards YPR, my mind wandered back into the happenings of the day….

For quite a few years now, the festival of “Ganesh Chaturthi” is linked to a trip to my native place and a get-together of our big joint family of about 40 people praying in unison to the “Vighna Vinashak”. As soon as we get a calendar for the new-year, the first thing that Ultra and I look for are the dates of the Ganapati festival so that we can plan leaves in advance. The tickets on bus/ train are booked one month before and the day of departure is very eagerly awaited. The round trip during monsoons, the celebrations, the food, the pooja, the immersion of the idol – each and every aspect of this festival is a treasure in itself which we would not want to miss for anything else.

With Panini getting married, this year we were faced with a dilemma. Out of Dad, mom, Ultra and me, two of us had to go to native and two of us had to go to her place in Hyderabad for her first “Gowri Pooja”. Since the dates of both the festivals were the same this year and given the large distance from Hyderabad and our native, it was impossible that all of us could go to both the places. Finally, it was decided that mom and dad would go to the native for the fest and we both would go to Panini’s place. Though we would miss going to the native, the joy of going to a festival and going together would always be there. And moreover, Ultra and I would be going by train together. Also, it would be my first trip to Panini’s place and I was looking forward to it eagerly.

We had booked the tickets for Friday. Mom and Dad left for native on Thursday. I met with an accident while coming back home by cab the same day. Next day, ie, on Friday morning, Ultra fell off his vehicle while going to college. Though both were not very serious kind of injuries, the very fact that they happened just before the festival made us ponder whether it was God’s way of punishing us for missing the festival this year. Maybe yes, and more probably no. But I have decided to ask Him whenever we get a chance to meet next. If you have anything to ask Him, you are free to write to me. I shall ask them those too :)

I woke up Friday morning with little pain in hands and knees due to accident. I dint know whether to drive a vehicle to office so that I can leave early or to take the usual office cab. The cab would reach home by 6:45 pm usually and even if it got late by a maximum of half an hour, I would be home by 7:15pm. And the train was scheduled at 8:50pm. Since Ultra was there to pack stuff and get everything ready, I decided I will take the office cab – a decision which I would regret later….

Panini called at office and asked me to get 5 dozen bananas for the pooja. She said the ones that were available over there were either not good for the pooja or too expensive. That’s when I realized the significance of Bangalore’s yelakki baaLe - It is unique, tasty, famous and most important of all - economical. I put a reminder in my cell phone to purchase the bananas from the in-building department store during lunch break. However, during lunch, we were too busy eating a “festival special” meal that I forgot completely about it, inspite of the reminder on my cell! When I remembered it after lunch again, I consoled myself thinking that the best place to buy bananas, that too dozens of them was not a department store at office but a HoPCoMs store near home. So I texted Ultra and entrusted him the responsibility of buying bananas. That was the first of long list of tasks that I was to assign him that day – poor ultra, he just had an accident and might have wanted to sleep. Being the youngest child, he was not used to taking responsibilities as yet. I felt sorry for him. At the same time I was helpless.

Work went well that day. All tasks assigned to me were finished by 4:30pm itself. A thought occurred to me that I could start from office early and take a Volvo bus till majestic. But then, it would be too hectic to travel and the cab would drop me off home by 7pm anyway. So this idea too was vetoed out. Little did I realize that all these thoughts would come back to haunt me later.

I left office at 5pm sharp and went and sat in my cab. Our cab usually has very less number of people and they come to the cab by 5:05 to 5:10. But there is one girl who seldom comes in our cab but whenever she comes she is late. I just prayed she didn’t turn up that day. But as luck would have it, she said she would be coming. It feels quite funny when I think about it – most of the times, people who come early to the cab call up the people who are late and wait for them. It is like calling up someone wasting your money and then wasting your time. waiting for them Maybe I would not make a big deal of it on other days. But today, even a minute was precious to me and I was getting restless. That girl finally came at 5:15pm and we started. She gave a big smile and said “sorry!” – seems some kind of a weapon that all girls possess. How can you fight after that?

The driver was very cautious after the accident last evening and was going a little slow. But we were only 5 minutes behind normal time and I didn’t think much into it as we had crossed the most dreaded K R Puram by 5:40pm. One cab mate said she was feeling hungry and wanted to stop for some snacks. We do this sometimes owing to our long journey and less people in cab – we stop at some food joint and have something before going home. But I could not afford to waste more time today. I told her politely about my situation and they agreed not to stop today. I thanked them for understanding and decided to rest for some time before reaching home.

There is this stretch on Banaswadi main road where our cab usually zooms past at over 60kmph. But unfortunately today, the driver was feeling thirsty and stopped to drink water just in front of a bakery. This time, the cab mates didn’t listen. They said that they would pack food for eating inside the cab instead of eating it there. Some sort of a favour they were doing me, they said. I had no choice but to oblige this time. True to their word, the cab mates came back soon and they had got me some snack too. We were back on the road. It was 5:50pm… already 10-12 minutes late from normal.

This was the first signs that things might get really nasty today. I was particularly angry at my cab mates for not being supportive. I messaged Ultra asking for status. He said that things were ready to be packed, the maid had come and left, but bananas were yet to be brought. It was raining heavily and so he could not get out. I asked him to take the car and get both banana and food for us packed. He agreed. So far so good....

[continued in part 2]
1. HoPCoMS - Horticultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society - Head quartered in Lalbagh, Bangalore. This was set up for supporting the horticultural produce and encouraging horticulture as a side-business by regular farmers.
2. Panini, Ultra - my siblings. In case I had not told it earlier :)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

"Jai ho" or the end of it?

Humankind has some good traits and some not so good ones. They feel sorry for people who are under-privileged; tend to help out people in trouble; try their bit to help the struggling ones. But at the same time, if someone who is really hardworking and deserving makes it to a state better than they are, the feeling of sympathy and compassion is immediately replaced by the green monster – jealousy and the strong feeling to put such people down.

Consider the case of a fresh graduate who joins a team at work. Initially all the team mates are co-operative and willing to help. Everyone has some advice to give to the fresher on how to go about things in a professional world- what to do, what not to do, etc. The mistakes that he makes are often ignored/ covered up quickly and every effort is made to accommodate him into the scheme of things. The fresher feels happy to be in such a team and with the support of all the seniors, transforms himself into a very talented workplace resource.

Now, here comes the twist in the tale. As soon as the fresher makes a name for himself, the other “seniors” start to view him as a threat. Instead of acknowledging the fact that the guy is really talented and taking pride in the fact that such a valuable asset is present with them, they start to put the person down at every juncture – loading him with too much work, setting unrealistic targets for him to achieve, highlighting every small mistake as a huge blunder and so on. All of a sudden, the fresher feels a new kind of challenge thrown at him. He has to deal with new responsibilities that his career demands as well as with the ego-clashes of his seniors. It is how gracefully the guy deals with this situation that determines his true worth at work.

At a higher level, a similar situation is faced by the developing countries. A classic example in this case is our own country – India. When it became independent in 1947, no developed country at that time thought of it as a future super-power. They entered into deals with us to serve their own selfish interests only to further consolidate their positions as world super powers. But when India tested its nuclear missile in 1974, all the countries that had looked upon India as a fresh entrant into the World arena became aware of its enormous potential. They started to see India as a security threat even though our past record of zero military offensive seemed to suggest otherwise.

It is with this fear that they brought in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). This group adopted an approach where technology and raw material for Nuclear Energy would not be supplied to the countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT). This was a smart move by those nations in order to make our nation starved for nuclear fuel.

India is just one among the four countries in the world which has not yet signed the NPT. A common sense question that arises is this - Given its flawless record of not having attacked any other nation in its history of over 5000 years, why is India not signing the deal? The answer is also pretty simple – India has stated in clear terms its policy as “No first use” meaning we will never use weapons for any kind of attack. Our military systems are titled “defense” because we never go about attacking nations like the other big nations do. But if there is need to protect ourselves, we should be ready with any sort of arsenal that the war demands. The second reason why India is not in favor of the treaty is because of its inherent flaws. Though the treaty states complete “non-proliferation”, there is a clause called uranium Enrichment and Plutonium Reprocessing (ENR) which could mean that countries can still develop weapons even after signing the treaty. This means that it allows partial proliferation of the only those countries which had nuclear weapons before 1967, giving an unfair advantage to them. And finally, India does not want to sign the deal till all the countries of the world declare complete non-proliferation, especially our crooked neighbors.

Thus, the isolation of India continued for almost three decades. But then, India’s potential as a consumer of nuclear fuel could not be disregarded. In spite of imposing economic sanctions on India in 1998, India’s GDP continued to grow and thus, the Bush administration had to withdraw all sanctions in 2001. India, with its ever-growing demand for energy and its vast economy presented a big business opportunity for USA which was greedy for business with India. It wanted to sell its nuclear fuel to India and make money out of it. This formed the roots of the “Indo US full-civil nuclear co-operation”. The US was so keen on the deal with India that even after facing opposition from its own congress and the NSG, it went ahead with the deal.

A historic moment came last year when the entire set of NSG members decided to grant India a “clean waiver” from its existing rules. This meant that India was free to enter into civilian nuclear deal with any country in spite of not signing the NPT. The NSG finally had recognized India’s history of non-proliferation and no first use and had given it full powers. It should be noted here that India is the only country which has not yet signed the NPT that has been given this kind of a waiver. A similar attempt by Pakistan to secure a deal was outrightly rejected by the NSG given that nation's track record of military offensive and terrorism.

This was a truly significant resolution for India. It meant that the world had finally recognized India as a potential great nation. It was a moment when we could stand on our rooftops and shout “Jai Ho!!” We could now go on to become self sufficient in terms of energy which is a pre-requisite for any kind of development. Given our track record of insufficiency in power for last few decades, this would surely be the turning point. Besides, nuclear fuel is more efficient and less toxic to the environment when compared to the conventional fossil fuels.

But again, the joy of last year was short-lived as the ego of the world superpowers came into picture this year at the G8 conference at Italy. They came to mutual agreement to curb transfer of ENR technology to nations which have not yet signed the NPT. This came as a surprise to India as it would impact our three stage nuclear programme. This means we would again be starved of energy unless something was done about this. What is particularly saddening is the way our leaders have downplayed this issue saying they are not "deeply concerned” about it. Instead of recognizing this as detrimental to our progress, they are still resting on the past laurels that they have achieved. Also, in the ten full months since the waiver was given last September, no effort has been made to secure deals with potential suppliers of fuel like France, Australia, etc.

Our country is now at a similar situation like the fresher at office. No one wants to support it because they see it a potential threat. Not only on the nuclear front, but in many areas like science, agriculture, astronomy, etc we are facing isolation from other nations. I came across a news item recently where it said many countries are now not so keen on sharing space science info with ISRO after the success of Chandrayaan. It would lead many of us to believe that the JaiHo season is finally over. This is a challenge that every aspiring super power has to face in its quest for glory. But I am sure that eventually we shall overcome all these obstacles and find our deserving place among the nations of the world – at the top. It can never be the end of JaiHo. Can it?

1. The fresh graduate in this case is selected as a guy for ease of explanation. It could as well be a girl. It is the same case with the girls too, although a bit more complicated as they are to deal with even the gender related egos of the senior male colleagues.

2. This article is my personal opinion about the recent happenings. As such, it need not be politically correct. Although, every effort has been made to verify the facts from reliable sources, the views expressed are my own.

3. [added after Saravanan's comment] : The situation where a fresher joins new team at work is one "particular" case selected for leading into the bigger issue. It does not mean that "seniors" at work are always bad and freshers at work are always hardworking and sincere. There have been instances where freshers joining the team have been so bad that training them to adjust to professional life has been impossible. Also, there have been cases where seniors have been so good that kept inducting new guys year on year into the team and enhanced the team's as well as the company's reputation of a good workplace. I am sorry for the ambiguity it has created.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Iruvudellava Bittu...

It has been quite a while since I published my last post. Thanks to all of you who commented on my previous post, directly or indirectly and gave me your most valued feedback. Personally, I too enjoyed putting my thoughts in the form of a story. But I feel, there is a still lot of scope for improvement. Hopefully I will publish many short stories in the days to come.

The inspiration for the earlier story was a trip with my office friends to one of the popular hill stations in South India – Kodaikanal. It was a nice trip and we all had a lot of fun. We had planned the trip from so many days and taken care to ensure that it was complete in all respects. Still, at the end of the trip, there was some hollowness to it because we missed one of our close friends there.

After coming back, I got a comment on the last post from that very close friend of mine which translated roughly into something like this – it is the very thing which we desire very badly that will elude us all the time. It is a real irony but unfortunately it is the fact most of the times. The more I thought about this, the more dimensions I could get draw from it. Was it always the fact that we dint get what we want? Or maybe we don’t put in efforts to get what we truly want. Then, it occurred to me – it is mainly because we are never satisfied with what we get. Whenever we feel we have got all that we wanted, there will always be something else that will fill the list of “must-haves”

In the story that I wrote last, Seenu was lost in Shaila’s thoughts all the while when he was at the holiday destination. Now, imagine for a moment that Seenu is already married to Anita and still he wants to be with Shaila. Would the story be the same then? Would it be right on Seenu to think like that in the first place? This is exactly similar to the situation above. People are not always satisfied with what they have – some want more wealth, some want more love, some want everything and even more. The needs and wants just never seem to end. Particularly, the desire to own something increases a thousand fold when you know that thing can never be yours – be it the dress at the shop which you like so much and has just been bought by someone else or the delicious dish at the buffet which everyone has in their plates but is now closed at the counter. When I talk about this, a classic recent example that comes to my mind is the “Shiney Ahuja” episode. That sick bugger had everything with him – money, fame, a loving wife, nice kid and what not. And yet, he desired for something else which has put him into so much of trouble. Maybe some people are always like that.

There was one more comment from one of my office friend that the dreams and aspirations of people always keep increasing. And business survives only because of that. If everyone in the world was happy with whatever they had, there would be no demand for things. Smartphones and luxury cars would never come into the picture then. I could not agree with him more. There is no end to dreams and desires. But as long as they are kept under a certain limit, there is no harm in having them. Trouble begins only when people start exceeding the limits for the dreams and aspirations, For example, if buying a nice luxury car like Lamborghini is your dream, it is good to start saving money and dream of owning that car one day. But at the same time, it would be foolish to sell off everything that you have to own that one little piece of automobile marvel and end up penniless even to fill fuel for that car. That would be absolute madness then.

It is not wrong to have dreams, desires and aspirations in life. Those are the ones that motivate us and keep us going in the tough times. But we must be careful enough to draw the line clearly between controlled aspiration and hysterical yearning.

Today, I finish one more year of my working life. Nineteen of my batch mates had joined with me two years ago, fresh from college, aspiring to achieve great things in their career. This job was really a great thing to have then and everyone was happy with it. But, the aspirations of people kept changing over time. Some wanted to pursue higher studies, some wanted to get married and settle down in life, some wanted more challenging technical paths,etc. In all the cases the desire to achieve something great was paramount in them. I admire each one of them for their dedication to their goals and they way in which they went about achieving them. I wish them all the success in life.

As they say, change is the only constant in life. We keep developing new goals, new ambitions and dreams. Life gets exciting when we dream big. There might be challenges on the way, but we experience joy when we overcome the obstacles. The kannada poet Gopalakrishna Adiga summed it up very well when he said “ಇರುವುದೆಲ್ಲವ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಇರದುದರೆಡೆಗೆ ತುಡಿವುದೇ ಜೀವನ” (life is nothing but leaving behind all the things you have and aspiring for better things). Isn’t it?

Thanks to all the people who have taken pains to read my posts and have given me valuable comments all these days. Keep visiting!

PS :
1. The title lines are taken from the song "yaava mohana murali" from the kannada poet Gopalakrishna Adiga. They also appear in the kannada movie "america america". You can watch the video here.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Nothing is worth her!

This is my first attempt at a short story. Kindly read and leave me your valuable comments:

“Why don’t you buy something to gift her?” asked his friend. “Don’t you want to show how much you love her?”

They were all shopping for gifts either for themselves to carry as souvenirs of the trip or to gift it to their loved ones. The weather was typical of the place – misty and cloudy with chilly winds blowing across the hill. Seenu’s friend had just bought a namesake gift in the name of his latest infatuation and was not even sure whether he would gift this to that girl. This made the question more ironic.

What would Seenu reply to that? Did he not want to show Shaila how much he loved her? Did he not have enough money to buy that elusive gift which would show how much he cared for her and how much he thought of her? Could he not have bought some little ornamental thing and pass that off as his gift to her? Why was he simply staring at the shop and meandering around while the rest were busy buying something for their loved ones?

He was just lost in his own world. Since the time he had set foot on that hilly terrain, he had realized that he would miss Shaila. He would miss her every moment during the trip. It was the perfect spot for couples wanting to be together. It had everything – the pleasant weather, romantic locations, and cozy little cottages, and wide walkways, sights of the lush green mountains, milky waterfalls, and occasional tender drops of rain. This kind of weather would make everyone long for a companion. His case was no different. And the fact that he had gone there with his office friends and the unexpected last minute changes in the trip made things even worse for him. He just tried not to think of her much and enjoy as much as possible with his friends. But her memories kept coming back…

The weather was part sunshine, part cloudy and part rainy. It was the same kind of weather when Seenu had first told Shaila what he felt for her. He just told her how much he loved her and wanted her as his companion. She had responded by telling that she would stay with him forever, and that no matter what happened, she would always love him. Too bad, the situation did not allow him to take her with him this time. The setting of the place was very similar to “Cloud Nine” – as wonderful as the lyrics of the popular Bryan Adams’ hit song:

When the moon is bright and the stars are out…
Whatever comes it’s gonna be alright…
cos’ tonight you will be mine- up on cloud number nine…

The rain came down in small droplets, each little droplet reminding him of her sweet, innocent looks. The fresh breeze from the mountains carried her fragrance. The sound of the mountain birds carried her melodious voice. The white misty peaks reminded him of her pure love for him. She was just everywhere that he saw. He just wanted to be with her so badly. And yet, that was the only thing he could not do…

How could he express his love and care for her? Could a small ornamental gift fully express what he was feeling for her? Could some costly present fully carry the enormous emotions that were rushing through his heart at that moment? He looked at all those items and just decided against buying anything. Someday, he would gift himself to her. He would dedicate his entire life for her happiness. He would take her to that very place and ask her to choose whatever she wanted from the entire lining of shops. He would try and fulfill all her wishes. Because she was the most precious gift that god had given him and he would spend the entire life in trying to make her feel like a queen.

It was then that he answered his friend who asked the question, “Nothing is worth her!” He meant it.

Disclaimer : All characters are fictional. Lyrics from the song by Bryan Adams. Producer : Bryan Adams

Monday, 8 June 2009

Paris... Done!

People thought someone like him with no extraordinary powers could never be in the great league… people thought his career was over when he surrendered his coveted crown last year to his nemesis … people said he would never be able to win on this surface ever… people thought he would never win again…

And then, he came back and won.... again!

There has never been a moment in my life where I have regretted not knowing a language as badly as yesterday when I lamented not knowing French. The man, the living legend, arguably the greatest player ever to hold a tennis racquet ever – Roger Federer had just won his fourteenth slam – his first Roland Garros title, the only grand slam to have eluded him so far. He had finished a career slam – only the sixth person in the history of the game to have achieved the feat. It was a real emotional moment for the great man. No one else could describe the moment better than himself and there he was doing exactly that in fluent French. I just watched his facial expressions when he spoke, the tears in his eyes, the ecstasy in his manners – they said it all. This was one title which he had to win to prove himself. Now that he had done it, Federer's name would go down in history as one of the modern day greats.

Roger Federer is my favorite sportsperson ever. I never followed tennis before but he is the reason why I started watching the game. I say that not because he has now won all four grand slams or that he has equaled Sampras’ record of 14 grand slams. The one distinguishing quality that makes me admire him is because of the charm and grace he exudes. He does not have extraordinary powers like the others. He does not have the power and stamina like Nadal. He is just pure talent and hard work which is why normal people can relate to him. He restores the people’s faith in old age graceful techniques in an era dominated by hard hitting, high stamina players. He is grace personified. Whether in victory or in defeat, he never has a bad a thing to say about anyone and that is one of the characteristics of a great sportsman.

People make fun of his “on field crying”. But at least he does not give animal like shrieks and does not shout abuses at everyone like the others. Besides, the crying also shows how hungry he is for success and how human he still is. He works very hard for each of his matches and never blames anyone for his failures. He never gives up anything easily and the pain of losing hurts him. Thus he has every right to display emotion after achieving his hard-earned success.

Some people criticize Federer that he never wins against the big players in big games. That too against his nemesis Nadal, his record has been pathetic. But if that was the case, how could he win 14 grand slams? Also, the other big guys like Nadal and Djokovic have never made it to the semis as many times as Federer. It is really a tough task to consistently reach the final four of major tournaments, let alone winning it. That too, he now has a slam on all the surfaces which only five people have managed to achieve before. Some people say that they would have been more happy if Federer had beaten Nadal on clay rather than Robin Soderling. But it is not Federer’s fault that Nadal lost to Soderling in the fourth round match. With all due credit to Soderling, I would like to make the following statement – “In his prime, Federer would have never lost to someone ranked above 20 in the fourth round of a tournament. It took a great player like Nadal and an epic five setter to snatch the coveted Wimbledon trophy from him last year. But Nadal, considering that he is in his prime right now lost his strength – the clay court French Open to someone ranked way below him” This alone proves the difference in their consistency. Nadal still has a long way to go.

When Nadal was ousted last Sunday, everyone thought Federer’s job was easy. With his nemesis safely out of the way, all that the great Fed had to do was win the title. But this made it the most difficult for Federer. Knowing that this was his best chance, he still had to win this one. And he almost came close to losing it to Tommy Haas and Del Potro. But the champion finally found form at the right moment and stood up to be counted when it mattered. This victory has now given him the confidence to take on any player on any surface. This way, Soderling has definitely helped Federer. Sometimes even champs need players like him to rediscover what they truly are capable of.

Most people have already started answering and debating this question – Is Federer the greatest tennis player of all times? According to me, this question is rather pre-mature. Federer is undoubtedly one of the best players of all times. But the question of whether he being the greatest can be answered only after the end of his career which is still a long way away. Also, his record against Nadal needs some polishing. It is a privilege for most of us tennis lovers that we have two of the greatest players of the game competing against each other. Nadal may eventually become the greatest player of all times. He just has to win the US Open to complete a career slam and a few more slams to come close to Federer and Sampras. And with the strength, fitness and talents that he has, Nadal might go on to become the greatest. But no man’s success can inspire us like the great Federer’s because he seems just like us. No player can ever earn the respect and admiration that Federer has earned by virtue of his grace and humility. That alone makes Federer take the top place in the list of all time greats.

Last year, after the defeat at Wimbledon, most of the Federer fans were devastated. All his fans were faced with the same question – what next? This year’s trophy has given everyone of them a reason to cheer and celebrate. The champion has come back to break the shackles. Take a bow, Roger!!! Now that he has taken all four grand slams, it is time that he realized that the greatest competition for a champ like him lies from within. Stage is all set for a comeback at the prestigious All- England Club. I wish he does it this time and stamp his authority on the game like no one else. Go FedEx Go!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Underdog rises!

“My strength was my weakness” says Advani

“My weakness was my strength” says Manmohan

This was one of the comic strips featured in a leading newspaper recently. It sums up the story of the season – the resurgence of the underdog; the victory of the person considered to be the weakest. All through the election campaign, the BJP claimed that it was the strong force in this elections and its prime ministerial candidate was the best in business. They even started attacking Manmohan Singh directly by calling him a “weak” prime minister. Manmohan did nothing but wait for the election results. When they finally came, the party which considered itself the strongest had fallen flat on their face and the weak prime minister had returned for a historic second term at office.

This year the electorate has chosen a very stable government. The belief in people that this government will save them from the economic crisis showed when the sensex soared more than 2000 points in a day when the government came back to power. The people have made a good decision in choosing one of the national parties with wholesome majority, but being an avid supporter of the other national party, all I can say is that this decision was not the best. After all the years of service to the nation, the strong candidate did not deserve such a humiliating defeat. But I feel that the BJP has got itself to blame by being over-confident and indulging in negative campaigns.


When I wrote about them in an article two weeks back, little did I hope that the royal challengers from Bangalore would be qualifying for the finals of the Indian Premier League. But as in politics, this season of cricket has been just about that – “the rise of the underdogs”. Who would have imagined that the teams placed at the bottom of the table last year would be playing in the finals? All through this tournament, the teams that looked the strongest on paper have fumbled when it mattered the most. And in contrast, the teams considered to be weak have had the last laugh in tough situations.

It is still an irony that an Indian captain has never been able to lift the IPL after 2 spectacular editions. Out of the four semi-finalists, three of the teams were led by Indian captains. The Delhi Daredevils were the strongest in the tournament. And yet, when the big match came, they were sent packing by the explosive Deccan Chargers captain Adam Gilchrist. Even the final game had Royal Challengers’ name written all over it but the team gave in to the pressure and ended up on the losing side. For all the efforts the legend jumbo had put to take his team to the finals and even restricting the opposition on the big day, he did not deserve to be on the losing side. It is such a nice irony – all through the league, Bangalore managed to win the tough games and beat the strongest sides in the tournament when they were considered the underdogs. But on final day, they looked the stronger side and still managed to lose the game. The underdog had to win!


This is perhaps the best of the three underdog stories. While all the above stories were being written on a national or international level and had the entire media attention, the script of this story was being written silently in a remote village of Karnataka. And that’s what makes this story extra special. A young girl from a poor agricultural family in one of the most backward districts of Karnataka scored the highest marks in the recently concluded Pre university examinations. The girl, Shruthi S K belongs to a poor family of Jyothirlingapura, a village that is 15 km from Harapanahalli taluk headquarters in Davanagere. Her father is a farmer and her mother works as a domestic help. They did not have electricity in the house till middle of the year when they got a light-bulb under the government’s “Bhagya-Jyothi” scheme. The girl used to travel in either private or state government buses everyday to her college and then come back home and study. Her success story is really an inspiration for all students. When so many students in the city who go to the expensive coaching classes and still complain about the lack of proper study facilities, this girl has proven that when you have the will power to succeed, no one can stop you from achieving your goal. The achievement of the girl is truly commendable. I wish her story inspires many more students like here to achieve success.


I leave you with these three stories to ponder upon. If you have been constantly labeled as an underdog or a weak person, please don’t lose heart. Every person is unique in his/her own way and will definitely come good in their respective fields. History has proved it time and again. If you have the will to succeed, nothing can stop you in your endeavors and you will definitely win.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

5 things the elections have taught

“Let me see how these people will go it alone this time. They will definitely need my help to survive!” thought Laloo.

“I am the king maker this time. No party can rule this nation without my support” thought Maya.

“I will take my revenge on the other party of my state by keeping them out of the next government” thought Jaya.

“With all the exercises going on to secure allies, who knows, I might end up being the prime minister once again” thought Gowda.

“The communist party is still strong and we can control the next prime minister like a puppet” thought Karat.

So there they were… the so-called leaders of the nation in the warmth of their bungalows, on the night of Friday the 15th of May 2009 hoping that the next day, as soon as the results were announced, the leaders of all the national parties would come begging for their support and that they could dictate terms for the next five years with some 10-50 seats under their control. They even had secret ambitions of leading the nation themselves. They would be the "king makers". They would be the power centers. They would be more important than the nation itself. They had every reason to feel like that with almost all the exit polls predicting a hung parliament for the country and the decisive roles these people would go on to play for the next few years. How wrong they had been!

Today, all those Paswans, the Yadavs, the Mayas, the Jayas, the Naidus, the Gowdas are alone in their homes, watching the TV with a sense of disbelief. Each one of them has been made to eat the humble pie. No one will turn to them now. Forget about dictating terms, they don’t even know if they will be presented with at least a ministerial berth if they decide to support the government. They don’t even know if they will be approached for support in the first place. They have realized that there is only one “king-maker” in this land – the common man. The Indian voter has spoken – "We don’t need a government that is run by one person and controlled by many others in the background according to their whims and fancies. We need a government that responds to what people want".

The elections of this year are really significant in the entire history of democratic India. Our country is now at such a phase where a strong leadership at the centre is absolutely essential for the dreams and aspirations of the nation to turn real. Also, the time has come to send out a strong message to the world that democracy would eventually be the best form of government for a nation as big as ours. For all this to happen, a clear and concise mandate by the Indian voter was absolutely crucial. And the voter has finally spoken… and in a manner that only an Indian voter can!

To me, the results of these elections mainly convey the following five important points:

1. Democracy Wins
Yes, no matter how skeptical you are about its advantages, democracy ultimately wins. This election was all about creating awareness among the young and upper middle-class voters by means of campaigns such as “Lead-India”, “Jaago-Re”, etc. It was about telling everyone how important it is to cast your vote and be counted in a democratic nation. Although this did not translate into an increased percentage of voters on the Election Day, it has proven to be success. More and more people from upper middle class and the younger generation have realized the power of voting. Many people could not vote this time as the campaigns to enroll their name in the voters’ list was started a little late. But I am sure; these elections have certainly created the urge in people to participate in the voting process. In the coming years, the number of people who vote will surely increase. And with the voter getting more and more intelligent, this is real good news for democracy.

2. Only development is the issue
One thing that has been decisively proved by the voter is that all the pseudo-issues do not matter. The voter votes for only that party which promises development. People just ignore the candidates who have a tarnished image. And the candidates have slowly started realizing that they cannot win an election with money alone. They need to be accountable. This is one of the greatest messages according to me. It has worked a great way in restoring the faith of the people in the institution of democracy. Also, the Election Commission being very strict about the spending of candidates has made it tough for the rogues and criminals to win. Caste, religion, money did not matter. Varun Gandhi’s hate speech did not help the party, neither did Shibhu Soren’s criminal record..

3. Performance matters
The clear message sent out by the voter this time around is “Perform or Perish”. Those leaders that enjoyed power but did nothing for the voters were rejected out rightly by the people. While those who showed improvement significantly were bestowed with more power. Veteran leaders who have shown improvement in their respective states like YSR, Sheila Dixit, Navin Patnaik, Nitish Kumar, etc were voted back to power while the ones who did not do much good to the people were defeated.

4. Nation comes first
Our country has adopted a multi-party system where anyone can form a party, win a few seats and hope to have a say in the national level. But over the years, this has been misused by selfish local leaders for short term gains. The recent example of the election commission’s worries when it had to register yet another symbol for Chiranjeevi’s new party shows how confusing and trouble-some multi party system can be. But the voter has become smart enough to distinguish between national parties and local parties. Giving the grand old party a clear mandate is a step in this direction. This means that the time is up for any local leaders who think that they can dictate the terms of the nations having a few seats with them. This means end of days for veterans like DeveGowda, etc.

5. Exit polls are an utter waste of time
This has been proved time and again. After every election, the media, especially the television channels, conduct too many exit polls and keep screaming at the top of their voices that their exit poll results are the most accurate. They even start discussing the post poll alliance that the parties should look for and the potential future prime ministers even before the results are actually announced. This election has clearly proved the futility of such polls and it is high time that these are banned. If the exit polls were really such accurate, why did we need to conduct an election in the first place?

These are exciting days for the nation. We have a new set of leaders at the centre and a party with clear mandate. There will be no pressure on the party from its allies like last few years and it is free to act on its own. But the leaders also know that they cannot take this mandate lightly and become complacent. They have to take up progressive measures for the all-round development of the nation. How these people eventually fare will be known to us only in the days to come. But for now, there is only one king – the Singh. Let us all wish him all the best and hope to see our nation progress in the coming days. Jai Hind!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

In the Driver's seat

“Sir, when you know you are in control of things, you will not feel as afraid”

This was what my cab driver said when asked why he drove so recklessly so as to cause a fear to every passenger in the cab each time he was behind the steering wheel. Driving in the city with traffic in its full glory requires guts. It can suck every bit of patience out of you leaving you irritated and exhausted. As drivers are presented this tough challenge every day, they adapt to the extreme conditions in their own way, depending upon their character. I have been observing the drivers in city for some time now and have been able to come up with the following four different categories of city-drivers:

1. The “I rule the road; I don’t care a damn” types:
The signal is turning from green to red. And the vehicle is a good 300 meters away from the post. The chances of making it through are very slim… and yet, you find these types accelerating the vehicles in such a fury only to get it to sudden, grinding halt at the signal.

These are the ones who belong to the first type. They always drive recklessly, honk endlessly, overtake dangerously, yell mercilessly and most of the times, get injured fatally. They always stay on the right most lane of the road and try to squeeze their big cabs/buses in the smallest of spaces. Traffic rules, one-ways, peak hour traffic – they don’t care a damn about all these. They are forced to follow the traffic only because of the cops or the rest of the traffic. Most of the IT office cab drivers, the auto wallahs and the impulsive youth with flashy sport bikes fall under this category. If you are a passenger in one of such cabs, all you can do is close your eyes and listen to prayers on your music device (Vodafone ZooZoo ishtyle!). You can count yourself lucky each time you get down from these cabs after a journey full of AJMs and unbearable honking and third degree yelling.

Most of these drivers hail from the poor or lower middle class. They would have experienced too many failures in life and always have a frustrated look on their faces. Hence they tend to take out their frustration on the fellow road users. In most cases, the vehicle will not be their own and the pain of damaging the vehicle is not felt by them. If you are at the crossroads with such vehicles approaching from other side, you definitely give way to them.

2. The “Salpa adjust madi; ellaru win madi” types:
This is how most of the aam aadmis drive in Bangalore. Most of us would belong to this category. They understand the road situation and drive accordingly. If the traffic demands that they need to drive slow and follow the right lane, they do so. And when the roads are free, they freely test the maximum speeds of their vehicles. They follow the traffic rules most of the times but ignore the traffic signals when it does not make sense. For example, jumping a red during late night when you can clearly see the roads are empty. They don’t need cops to control them. And unlike the category one drivers, they dont drive rash even when full control is given to them. They are their own decision makers in life. If you find yourself in a vehicle driven by these people, relax and have a nice chat with them. You will end up having a nice time.

This category is the educated and/or well-to-do ones and usually drives its own vehicles. Life has treated them fairly and they expect and exhibit the same on roads. They hate the first category drivers and sometimes help the ones in lower categories.

3. The “Better late than never; play it safe” types:
This category is the exact opposite of the category one types. These people get into a fierce fight with the category one drivers almost each time they get into the streets. They carve for ideal situations and hate it when the rash ones upset their driving day. They drive slow most of the times, follow the traffic signals always and keep complaining about everyone. They get frustrated very soon as they are impatient. If you are a young person reading this post, in most cases you can picture your uncles/aunts in this category. If you are stuck with these people in a vehicle, please be on your guard – you never know when they lose their calm and start yelling at you. Just keep calming them down with soft music on radio or sweet talk of the good ol’ days.

These people are usually the older generation ones who drive because of compulsion and not for the love of it. Probably they would have driven most of their lives in those good old days of traffic free, tree lined, cool roads of Bangalore lament the loss of every good thing that our city once had. Hence, when they come out on the roads, all their emotions come gushing out.

4. The “Oh, I don’t know how to drive; I am confused” types:
These category is a minority in today’s roads but nevertheless more significant. In a way, even the category one people don’t know how to drive but they make up for it with their aggression. But these people are so confused in life and serve the purpose of providing the much needed comic relief on roads. Sometimes, they are stuck in a busy road with heavy traffic not knowing what to do and panic by waving hands; sometimes they are on a slope and their vehicle refuses to move forward causing a pain to others; and most of the times they are struggling in the parking lots struggling to fit in their vehicle in that elusive parking space.

Most of these kinds are learners and are always at the receiving end of the category one drivers’ wrath. But eventually they mature either into category two or category three drivers. They are helped most of the times by good Samaritans of category two. If you are stuck in the crossroads with these kinds of drivers, don’t wait for them to make judgment- they always make the wrong one. Just speed away and you will be all right.

So these were the four categories of drivers as perceived by me. If you feel there are more categories or have something more to add to these, feel free to leave a comment. I wish that more and more people start to follow the category two drivers so that the city roads become a pleasure to drive. I will come back with more interesting categories of occupations next time. Till then, happy driving! :)

1. Salpa Adjust madi - famous Bangalore slang used when you want other people to let you have your way
2. AJM – another famous kannada slang for describing “near-misses”

Monday, 4 May 2009

Fortune favors the brave

In my last article I talked about how luck favors some people more than the others. Some people came back to me after reading it saying that mere luck would not take people anywhere. It should definitely be supplemented by hard work and immense talent. In fact, people could be too foolish to be just sitting and loitering around when the elusive lady of luck kept smiling at them.

I could not agree more with them. That was exactly what I was trying to say. All said and done, it is always hard work and talent that ultimately pays off. But the purpose of that post was not emphasizing that luck is everything you need to succeed. It was just to shed light on the fact that even after being extremely talented and having worked very hard in life, that extra bit of luck is always needed to achieve the kind of success we dream about all the time. One should keep looking for opportunities and grab it when it comes along. It is all about being at the right place at the right time.

There is one more dimension in this. When things seem to be going your way, there is that confidence factor that keeps growing. It feels as though you could do nothing wrong. Everything you touch turns to gold and no one in the world is as happy as you are. On the flipside, even bad times are no exception to this “pouring down all at a time” phenomenon. When things go bad, there seems to be hardly anything that works in our favor. Even the things that we are most comfortable at handling seem to be difficult to do then. I would like to illustrate these cases with a few real examples that I have witnessed recently, some of which are common knowledge.

A classic example is the case of Bangalore’s very own IPL team – the royal challengers. Last year, they were at the receiving end in the very first match of the league that too in front of their home crowd. The scars caused from that huge defeat dented them so badly that they were never able to come back in the tournament. It was imperative then that they finished in the penultimate position. A year passed and in they flew to South Africa to the current edition of the league – the scars still remained. Even though they managed to win the first match, it seemed that they had lost the belief that they can win. In the match against Delhi, all that they had to do was to stay cool and bowl at the right places. But they managed to lose the match. Their body language in the field said it all – they firmly believed they cannot win and waited for the inevitable to happen. They also had many close decisions go against them - Luck had not favored them either. How would it? Fortune always favors the brave right?

After losing four matches in the league, they had their encounter against a pretty weak team – their nemesis from the last edition – the knight riders. Suddenly the team started to believe that they had a chance. And they won. Even though it was a nail-biting finish, they managed to get one under their belt. This was enough to turn things around. Every match they played from then, they grew from strength to strength. The clinical victory over one of the strongest teams, Mumbai was a testimony to this new found confidence. Although, time will only tell how long this confidence will last and the winning streak will continue, the point I am trying to make by citing this example is simple – when things start going against your way, the confidence you gain and that little stroke of luck will help you overcome many obstacles in life.

One more case that comes to mind when I think of this game of fortunes is that of a project at office. There was a big team of people who worked on a really big project sometime back. It was really hectic and the whole team used to work long hours and weekends. The schedule was really impracticable. I really don’t understand who came up with such a ridiculous schedule in the first place. Anyway, the deadline was already there and the team had already reached saturation limits doing whatever best they could. It seemed that the entire team had gone crazy. They were frustrated with the project and its incredulous deadlines. Their personal lives went for a toss. It seemed as though nothing went right for them and there was always a new issue to be tackled every day. Somehow they managed to finish it off with the “bare-minimum” deliverables in place.

Sanity had finally been restored. There was applause all over from top management commending the work done. The team enjoyed nice perks and had great appraisals. They earned promotions at work and saw their career reach new heights. Being in that tough project seemed not so bad after all – they had finally found confidence to tackle issues on their own and had acquired leadership qualities. Slowly, all the missing components were added into the deliverables with such zeal and efficiency that it now boasts of being one among the most stable projects delivered in the company.

When you are at the right place at the right moment, the world around you seems like utopia – the kind of ideal place which you always dream about. Be it writing 1000 lines of quality code, chasing a very high target in a cricket match, facing the toughest job interview or scaling the highest peak – all seem to be a piece of cake. But when the tide turns, life seems one big mistake. I have had both experiences in my work life. Sometimes fixing a small bug in the documentation part of the code has led to so many critical reviews resulting in frustration and anger. Other times, even the toughest of bugs have been finished in no time at all. In the latter, I just happened to be at the right place at the right moment to get it done.

No matter what the game of fortune is, one thing that we should always have is confidence in our abilities. It is this self confidence that will carry us through the tough times of life. In everything that we do, let us give our best and hope that the best will happen. If we are earnest in our efforts, fortune will definitely favor us helping us in our journey to success. I wish everyone of you all the best in realizing your dreams and pray that fortune befriends you in all your endeavors.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Luck by Chance

Though the movie is pretty old, I finally found time to watch this very recently. As I was watching it, so many thoughts flew past my mind which I thought I would share here along with the story itself:

‘Luck by Chance’ is the story of an aspiring actor Vikram (Farhan Akhtar) who wishes to make it big in Bollywood like many other people. He has friends who think that he does not even know the basics of acting, let alone playing the lead role. But his girlfriend Sona (Konkona) believes in his abilities and supports him all the time. At around the same time, the biggest production house in bollywood, the Romy Rolly productions is having a movie made with to launch the daughter Nikki (Isha Shravani) of a yesteryear’s superstar Neena Walia (Dimple Kapadia). It so happens that the original hero of the movie, a famous Bollywood name, Zaffar Khan (Hrithik) refuses to do the movie halfway through the shoot and the production house is looking out for new faces for the lead role.

By a master stroke of lady luck, and of course some help from his girlfriend, Vikram finds himself doing the lead role of the movie. And once he acquires the celebrity status, his life-style changes drastically – he cheats on his girlfriend with beautiful women of the movie land, he belittles his friends as if they dint mean anything, and all the stuff that we usually associate movie people with. During the end of the movie, the lead protagonist realizes how self-centered he has become with his new found status and tries to patch up with his old buddies.

I felt good after having watched the movie and was thankful that someone had the guts to make such a movie. It was a movie about what actually happens in the movie land and someone had taken the pains to show to the outside world its harsh realities. People with real talent struggle for years together to get a role in the movies. After that they have to prove themselves in the industry. The struggle for such people somehow never ends. The lucky ones however manage to make it big overnight and stay at the top for years.

It was at that time I realized that this argument holds true for almost every field where the competition is stiff. There are some lucky ones who always manage to get the same success with a level of preparation that is less than most of the others. And even after too much of preparation and inherent talent, some people never seem to achieve success.

As an example, let us consider the case of one of the toughest entrance exams in the country. This exam is conducted by the premier management institutes in the country for entry into their MBA courses. Close to 3 lakh students take up this examination in the hope of gaining an entry and finally, only 1500 people make it. Thus, the pressure to perform on the day of the exam is immense on every test taker and it is only the performance in that 2.5 hours that decide whether you get to the next stage or not. Students spend years and years preparing for that most important 2.5 hours of their lives in the hope of cracking the test. But due to immense competition, it is only quite a few of them who finally get to go the next stage.

These days, whenever I speak to a friend of mine, the conversation is always about a co-worker of hers who has acquired celebrity status of late by cracking this tough test. I have heard this colleague’s name so many times in the past few months that the name keeps echoing in my ears all the time. Thankfully for me, it is a God’s name :) Till a few days ago, he was just a normal person like any other in the industry – a bachelor who stayed with his friends close to office, working as much as the job demanded, sometimes even on weekends, and seemingly satisfied with his job. But a few days ago, he just sent a mail to his teammates at work saying that he was selected for not one but four of the premier management institutes of the country for a MBA course which made him a celebrity almost instantaneously. His usually quiet desk at office suddenly had turned into a hotspot where people from all over the workplace flocked and asking him all sorts of questions. They asked him how he had managed to crack such a tough exam with such less preparation, how he had managed to keep his cool under pressure in such grilling interviews, asked for tips from him so that even they could crack the exam next time by following his lead and so on… he had become a hero.

I find it quite funny when people give so much importance to what successful people say or do. They feel that if they imitate whatever the successful people do, they will also become successful in life. In college, there are people who borrow books from only those seniors who would have got high marks. There might be a student who might have made the best possible notes. But those are not important. What matters is how celebrities behave. Consider a student who has prepared for an examination for years and years and has adopted the best possible study methods. All those are irrelevant if the student does not do well in the exam. On the other hand, people flock to get that invaluable, ever so precious piece of "preparation-tip" from a successful student even if that student has done it merely by luck.

This guy had no plans of giving the test in the first place. He was happy with his work. But he stayed in a PG room where his friends prepared for the test day in and day out. It was just because of them, he took up the test. Out of three sections in the test, he never used to score in one of them and had given up hope. During the final days of preparation, when many people in office take holidays to prepare for the test, this fellow had worked even on weekends as the job demanded him to do so. He had given up preparation completely and as admitted by him, he had written the test “just for time pass”. He did the two sections by himself and in the third section; he had marked the answers randomly. It was a risk and it had paid off. It was his day. His friends had written other entrance exams and could not manage to get into any of them. But he, who had taken up the exam just for the sake of them, had made it to the top most institutes in the country making everyone envious of him. Besides, there were far more deserving persons who had given their best shot and he had snatched the initiative from one of those people.

What saddened everyone the most was the way that he acted after getting through. Even he was aware it was purely luck that had got him there. But the taste of success had made him so much self-centered and proud. He would no longer work the same way he did earlier, he would crib about the work that he did making the others at work uncomfortable; he would not help others if they were stuck and he even did shrewd calculations about leaving the work on a favorable lucky day.

Not all people are like this guy though. There are ones who really work hard to make it big in life. And when these people make it big in life we feel happy. One of my batchmates at work has also cracked this test this year and has made it to his dream institute. His story is one of hard-work and determination. As compared to the other person’s story, this one is far more motivating and inspiring. Luck was necessary in both cases – but the way in which the latter behaved was totally commendable.

We need to have luck and complete faith to achieve what we aspire for in our lives. Some people are helped by lady Luck more than the others. But assuming that this luck will always be with us till the end of our life and acting smart will serve no purpose. Also, if luck does not favor you even after all the hard-work you did, there is no need to lose hope. It is important to have complete faith in yourself. Ultimately, life will give you what you rightly deserve - not by chance; but for certainty.

Monday, 13 April 2009

My Initiative

The elections for the Lok Sabha are happening on the 23 rd of this month. When I asked a few friends of mine about their awareness about the current elections, I found out that many people were ignorant or had turned a blind eye to the happenings around their area.

This being the case, I thought of creating a one-stop site that consisted of all the information about the candidates contesting the elections in Bangalore, the mapping of assembly and parliamentary constituencies and a few tips on "smart voting". Though this has taken so much of time, there is still lots of scope for improvement.

The link to the site is:

Please check this out and let me know your valuable comments.

Friday, 3 April 2009

God is now here!

I walk to the temple near my place every Thursday whenever I am home early. It is my own private moment with God – a time of contemplation of the days gone by; of quiet observations and feeling of the present; and of acceptance of the future. Tired after a whole day and seeing close to half of the city with its vehicular traffic and pollution, I prefer to walk to the temple instead of driving the activa. Besides, walking also gives me time to observe the people and things around me very closely and trying to understand the delicate intricacies of the world.

Since it is a Raghavendra Swamy Mutt, the temple is crowded on a Thursday. Outside the gates, there is commotion most of the times because of two wheelers and four wheeler owners struggling to find parking space, flower vendors asking you to buy all their flowers for a good price, beggars engulfing almost the entire footpath and pestering everyone entering in and out for alms. Even after entering the corridor, the noises continue – the priests chanting shlokas loudly, housewives gossiping about the happenings of the whole world, old people singing chants of the lord loudly, people meeting up old friends and as always the ubiquitous mobile phones ringing here and there with a variety of ringtones.

I bow to the Lord and go for the regular pradakshinas observing everyone around closely. There would be people from all walks of life and age-groups over there – the students who come there with their tution bags and praying for success in exams, the busy working professionals who come down directly from their offices in their work attires to pray for nice appraisals, the young girls in their mid-twenties praying for a early marriage with a nice groom, the housewives who come to pray for their whole families, the young couple teaching their kids small chants in praise of the lord, the unemployed or the relatively poor people praying for success in life and so on…. Sometimes, there will be discourses by learned people going on with only the people over fifty years of age sitting and listening to it.

It is the kids that interest me the lot. Some are still not old enough to walk and are carried around by their parents. They keep observing other people with wide open cute eyes, occasionally smiling at someone who smiles at them. Some kids are old enough to run helter-skelter across the corridor and enjoy in their own world. Some kids are taught small chants by their parents and mumble the chants in their own sweet ways. Some are curious about the whole thing and keep asking questions - Who is God? Why is He all powerful? What will happen if I don’t pray to Him? – the kind of questions even the renowned philosophers find it tough to answer.

I then start to wonder what it is that I have come to the temple for. My mind goes back to the first here – during my third semester exams. I had done one exam very badly that day in spite of studying hard for it. It was the first shock where I came to know of the VTU standards. I had a feeling that I would fail in that subject. There were many more subjects coming in very few days and I was too scared. I could not concentrate on anything. I had come here by chance. I dint know what to do – I dint want to ask God for assurances that I would pass. I just sat there bowing my head and closed my eyes in meditation. I realized that there was nothing much I could do about it. If God had destined me to fail, I could not help it. I just prayed for the courage to accept whatever I got – it was a great feeling then. My heart felt so light and was filled with joy. I went back and gave the exams my best shot. The exams were done and I had passed with good marks. And Since then, I had decided that I would go there every week – not to ask God for favors but to thank him for whatever I got. I just would go there to pray for the well-being of everyone in this world – sarve janah sukhino bhavanthu!

I see many people in the temple full of worries. I just close my eyes for some time to meditate and think about people and life. Everyone has their own reason for being sad in life – some feel they are not good-looking. The good-looking feel they don’t have enough money. The ones who have money feel they are very dark and wish they were fair. The fair ones feel they are not intelligent. The intelligent ones feel no one loves them. And everyone prays for blessings to get all that they want. But the irony of life is such that the wants never end – once you have got the thing that you need the most you will want the next one or would have lost the first one. A poor, healthy worker slogs day in and day out to become rich- and when he finally gets the money, he would have lost his health. In that matter, we are all equal and the same before god – if God does not want to give you something at this point of time, it is only because he is giving it to the one who needs it more than you. No need to worry about that – you will ultimately get the best in life. This realization gives the ultimate happiness in life and leads to immediate satisfaction.

I had this post in mind for so many days and finally was able to post it on a very auspicious day. Today is RaamNavami – the birthday of Lord Rama - probably the most controversial of Indian gods and the one who touches the emotional chords of every Hindu. The politicians have used his name in selfish ways but have completely forgotten the values for which He stood. The perfect adherence to Dharma, the tag of “Maryada Puroshotama”, the governance like “Rama Raajya” is nowhere to be seen these days. These are just some of the examples that we could derive from this divine figure and start practicing in our lives immediately – regardless of whether we believe in his very existence or not. I wish each one of you a very happy festival and nice, bright days for the rest of your lives.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Of exciting drinks, irritating mouse and switching gears between legs!

When I was at kindergarten, the teachers used to make all the children recite the names of months, counting numbers, maths tables, rhymes, colours and days of the week. The entire class of small, cute kids dressed in pretty uniforms and small shoes with long blue socks used to shout out whatever was taught at the top of their voices – it was kind of fun. Particularly, when reciting the days of the week, the expression on almost every child would be the same – “Sunday” would be told with so much of excitement and the tone would immediately turn sober for “Monday”. “Tuesday”, “Wednesday” and “Thursday” would be expressionless while “Friday” would have some cheerfulness. The day which would get the maximum voice and happiness would always be the last – “Saturday”. Every one of us would scream it on the top of our voice with a smile on the face.

Now, even after almost twenty years, I find that this feeling about weekend has not changed at all. Working at the IT industry makes the five day work week seem so boring, dull and routine. It is the same everyday – work, deadlines, meetings, etc. The excitement in life comes only on weekends. It is that time when we rediscover our lives. Sometimes I feel the whole industry just slogs and dies the five weekdays making money so that they can “live” for the two days that follow.

I spend most weekends relaxing at the cool comforts of my home and spending time with my loved ones. There would be so many other things planned for the week but the ones that finally executed would be the ones which excite me the most – reading that long-pending novel, watching the much- awaited movie, buying stuff waiting to be bought from a long time, and so on.

Last weekend was really fun. On Saturday, our gang of office friends met up at a colleague’s place for a small get together. Though his house was very far from my place, the exciting time spent along with a cool, icy apple drink on the way made it a memorable experience. The gang arrived late but we did manage to have a lot of fun. The lunch that we had at a nearby Andhra restaurant was spicy, economical and very filling – all of us hit the bed at our friend’s place and tried to catch a small nap as soon as we got back.

I had plans of buying a new desktop system for use at home, particularly for Ultra’s use for a long while now. In fact, most of the official time during the last week was spent surveying the probable and economical configurations which could be bought. Finally, I had narrowed it down to a particular configuration and planned to buy the same on Saturday. However, the delay in returning from the morning trip added with the Saturday night traffic at the heart of the city denied me a chance to make it to the computer store on time, leaving me disappointed and frustrated. But nevertheless, the exciting moments earlier in the day far outweighed the disappointment of not buying the computer. There was always a Sunday to do that. That’s the best part about weekends – if something you plan doesn’t happen on a Saturday, there’s always a Sunday to finish it :)

So, we (Ultra and me) headed to the city center very early on Sunday to buy the computer. It is interesting to note here that Ultra woke up early on a Sunday which he would never have done even if he had exams the next day. I guess, that’s the difference between passion and compulsion – the same reason which makes most of us shudder about a Monday morning. So, we headed to a nice shop and finally bought a very high end computer home – a long pending task was done. The only thing that remained was setting it all up.

We both finished our lunch in no time and headed staright for the computer setup. We thought we would finish in no time and play some games or test the huge monitor with some nice videos. But that was not to be. Some basic issue with the mouse and display hampered our speed. Finally with the help of our cousins, who too paid a surprise visit in the afternoon, we managed to boot up the brand new system.

I thought I would relax the whole evening after so much activity. But a sudden invitation came from school buddy Kulla for a dinner party which I would not miss at any cost – I would get a nice dinner for free and a chance to spend time with my close friends.

Soon, In found myself at Oie’s place doing what I love to do the most – drinking the trademark masala tea his mom prepares. There were six of us – Kulla, VSB, Oie, Tosi, gunda and me for the treat. It looked like it was going to rain so we took Gunda’s Maruti Esteem Car. Gunda drove and I sat in navigator’s seat. I really don’t know how the rest of the four managed to sqeeze in the back seats. But we had a nice time chatting while Gunda drove. We took the Uttarahalli road to reach Kanakpura Road and there were a lot of speed breakers. We had planned to visit “Holiday Village” a resort kind of restaurant off Kanakpura Road.

We reached the place at around 7 and settled down in our seats. It was a nice ambience covered with coconut leaves and there was swimming pool nearby. It seems they had a few games like TT, carrom which we could play for free and also snooker if we paid some money. But we dint have time for all that. We just got started with the food and juice. The food was good ans the service was ok. They took a lot of time to get the items but we dint mind it as we had a lot of stories to share. There was a professional who sang songs over there and to cater to a large hindi crowd, all he sang were some old bollywood songs. We wanted him to sing some nice kannada songs too and Tosi even went to him and requested for one. But he disappointed us.

Going back home was the best part of the day. Courtesy of some “big shots”, I got to drive Gunda’s Esteem car for the first time. I have driven only a few cars till now like the Omni, WagonR and Alto. So I felt this was the nicest that I have ever driven. The low suspension and the smart engine make driving this car a pleasure. This time, only three people sat at the back owing to full tummies and both Oie and Gunda managed to squeeze in the front of the car. We thought we will avoid the bumpy Uttarahalli road and instead took the NICE road – it was the ultimate drive ever. I was in fifth gear in no time at all and managed to touch an overwhelming speed of 140 kmph. I enjoyed every moment of it. And even at such high speed, there was not even a little bit of vibration which made the drive a pleasure. We were tempted to go on and on. Some of us even suggested we drive till Ramanagar and have coffee at midnight and come back. But since we had to go back to office the next day, we decided against it. Nevertheless, the drive was so much fun and a great experience. The funniest part of it was that Gunda was sitting with his legs around the gear and whenever I had to shift gears, I had to awkwardly place my hands in between :)

I reached home late night after a lot of chatting with them and hit the bed right away. One more exciting weekend had come to an end. I was now prepared for a hectic work week ahead knowing that I had lived my life fully during the weekend. The next morning, it was the same old Monday morning blues and the mundane office work but the joys and memories of the exciting weekend kept flashing in my mind all the while – like they have been doing all these years.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


I have had this post in mind for quite a long time now. I thought I would publish this atleast in time for “International Women’s Day” which happened last week. Even that did not happen. Finally, comforting myself that it is always better late than never, I am posting this piece:

A girl from my office is also my travel mate in cab. The other day we were having this discussion about salary in relation to tax and investments. I was telling her that in spite of both of us having the same base pay, she would get more salary at the end of the month because the government favored the fairer sex. Her immediate reaction was defense. She said that there were hardly a few number of female employees in the organization and the government was giving extra sops only to encourage more women in this field.

I nodded in agreement with this. It was indeed a good thing that the government gave a higher tax rebate for women. After all the sufferings the entire womankind has gone through for so many years, their efforts, dedication and hardwork were finally bearing results. They have endured so much pain, insult and wicked advances by lechers in this male-dominated society to finally establish themselves. I have seen so many women who have struggled and put up with so much of hardship just for the comfort and well being of their loved ones – Ma being one of them. They sacrifice their happiness to ensure that we are happy. No wonder then that behind every successful man, is a woman. I really admire them for their gentle, yet hardworking; caring, yet ambitious attitude.

But there was one another thing that the girl said that set me thinking – the number of females in the organisation is less and that’s one reason the taxes are reduced for them. This set me thinking. Do numbers really matter? To an extent, I felt yes. This is just to make all the ladies in office comfortable that their ratio is not too less. But apart from that, it really does not matter. In fact, after much thought, I felt that being less in number was actually good for the girls. You ask me why? Read on...

The lesser the number of girls, the more attention each one gets. Each girl is observed closely by many colleagues – the way they talk, their dressing style, their attitude – eveything. Seeking attention is one of the basic requirement of any human being – especially woman. So being less in number actually helps them – the teams look forward to having them in their projects; the guys look forward to get a chance to talk to them, probably ask them out; the ocassional mistakes that they make are not noticed as much as the others’ and they are always given first preference when requests are serviced. Their concerns and thoughts get voiced more easily than the bulk of the male colleagues. Aren’t all these things good ? Besides they get lots of choices as compared to their male counterparts. Add to this, the tax rebate that they get, the poor guy in office ends up feeling that girls have an unfair advantage over the guys.

Even after all these advantages the woman at workplace enjoys, and rightly so, I still feel that womankind as a whole are not given their true share. Nature has bestowed the power of creation to them. But the ever insecure male clan has always subjected women to harassment and pain. There are so many cases of crime against women these days, even in the so-called cultured and educated households. Atleast, this is slowly changing. I wish the change happens faster and we get to see a better world where women are treated with respect and care. I take this opportunity to thank all the women who have helped me be what I am today. Belated women’s day wishes