Wednesday, December 30, 2009

When not to say Good Morning!!!!!!!

This post has been picked up by Bangalore mirror dated 31st December 2009
This morning, I woke up to hear the sad news about the actor, Dr. Vishnuvardhan's demise. Always when a child is born, you feel great and when a life is lost, there is an unsettled, unknown feeling of sorrow, whether or not you know the person.

The clock doesn't stop anyway. I had my work day ahead, so, I stepped out of my room with a cup of tea as usual, to watch TV. Usually some music is on, mostly devotional. Today, there was a news channel that was telecasting ( is still telecasting, as I write this post three hours later) the proceedings at the actor's house. There were a lot of people around, grieving over the loss.

There was this telephonic condolence talk that was also being relayed. A caller who seems to be a great fan of the actor starts off his condolence note with a 'Good Morning'!!!!!. How can you say Good morning when it has not been a very good morning for most fans and near and dear ones of this great a very actor?

I have noticed and even written about how some phrases ( How are you ) have lost their real meaning in the minds of people. Today, I added 'Good Morning' also to that list. Schools and our family teach us to wish 'Good morning', but there is also a place, time and context for most greetings of the day. In Tamil they say, இடம், பொருள், ஏவல்
அறிந்து pesuga.

May be people should start thinking twice especially when giving a condolence note. What we took from education matters more than the number of academic degrees we have to our credit. Good morning can also hurt sometimes. Will people consider??

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Marathahalli Ring Road needs some attention

Yes, if it sounds like a newspaper headline, so be it..

One evening, I was on my way back from work on a Volvo bus. Just the previous night, I had gone through this wonderful piece of work:
http://themadmuggle.blogspot.com/2009/07/chicken-that-never-crossed-road.html
An article worth your time and effort.

So, it was easy to imagine the chicken trying to cross Marathahalli Ring road. If it ever did, it would be on CNN-IBN Flash news. The ring road is quite wide; a two way road, each has got two lanes ( or is it three? shall check today); then there is a lay-bye area sort of a road on both sides, used by two wheelers and pedestrians to reach the side roads on the ring road. So, if you set out from a side road to cross over to the other side, you will have to cross four stretches. Do not talk about pedestrian crossing here. Between two signals on this road where you see the Zebra crossing lines, the distance is at least ten minute walk. There are times when you need to cross the road and cannot walk ten minutes to reach the pedestrian crossing at the signal. On an average traffic day, it takes about three minutes, some common sense, some sense to gauge the speed, and some patience to cross this road. All this statistical ( they say, most of it is incorrect or most days!!!! Don't question me on those lines...:)information is for us.

What about animals? When I was just thinking about a dog or cat or chicken (unless it escapes from the broilers') trying to cross this road. Just then I saw a dog victimized in a hit-and-run accident. No one seemed to have any problem. My bus crossed the scene too. If it was a human being, there would have been a traffic block and some action would have been taken. Just because it was an animal ( sadly with no road sense required to cross the Marathahalli Ring Road ), I guess no one bothered.

The mind is argumentative. I was thinking that this dog must have been a stray dog, because domestic pets have tags around their necks and people chain them and take care not to let them loose on busy roads.. So, if it is a stray dog, it does not have any care and anything that happens to it, is seen as no one's problem. This bothered me a lot for quite a long time that day.

The mind is also very imaginative and very creative. The best idea my mind could come up with was to put a fence on both sides of the road; the pets/people wont be able to cross the road at random points on the roads. Every few meters, there can be a break in the fence where a pedestrian crossing can be laid out. There could also be a gate arrangement like you have in toll gates or railway crossing. In regular intervals, the Gate is closed and people and pets can cross. This way there can be a better control on the accidents - people and animals. The traffic signal can remain as is, but closely tuned to the time that these gates close and open. The technology can make it possible.

You cannot teach people to think and make the right judgement and cannot rely on luck or fate to keep safety. We must go one step further and enforce something to this effect, so no one has an option, but to comply with the rules.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dec 26th 2009 - Five years later on Bay of Bengal

We were on Christmas vacation; on a mini-tour of the places of historic importance with my cousin's family.

Day before yesterday, the 26th of December 2009, Afternoon 2:00P.M; Poompuhar Beach, Near Nagapattnam, Tamil Nadu.

I stood on the rocks that blocked the waves of the ocean from the shore and enjoyed the sea breeze. In a moment, for some vague reason, that I am unable to place, my mind went back to the same day, four years ago, on Bay of Bengal. It was the Tsunami day, 26th December 2005. I took a careful notice of the waves now and sensed that they were quite violent.

My home town is on the Bay of Bengal coastline and my house is around 10 km away from the beach. The beach in my home town is THE major attraction and we have no count of the number of times we have accompanied our guests to the beach.

To me, the beach is
a great place to spend time with people,
where we get to meet old friends...
where you get to see diamond sparkles in crystal clear water on a sunny morning...
where you realize that the globe is more huge than you can imagine...
where the horizon's straight line ( of course, an illusory effect..) amazes you...
where Christopher Columbus comes into the picture...
where we get to see ships, the only ones to know the sea better than the sea animals and Nature...
where the sun set looks grand than anywhere else...
where you feel very close to Nature..
where your ego levels come to a balance...
where your temper is of no use...
where you realize that the tides are stronger than you know...
where you are a helpless being that cannot encounter the ocean's wrath...
where countless people lost their lives on 26th December 2004, on Tsunami day..

There stop my imagination and thoughts on the sea because on the black day, I did not understand Tsunami as much as the fishermen folks and the shadeless people by the Bay of Bengal coastline understood. I had a good breakfast that morning ( for which I am thankful and will ever be thankful) and with no idea about the happenings around me, came to the balcony ( similar to a porch) to see a whole town migrating ( read as running as fast as fast can mean to each of them ) towards the hillock on the west of the town. The sea had come in by about 7km into my town and my house was still 3km from the water attack and about a few feet above the ground level. This pattern of constructing a house a few feet above the ground level was conceived ( When something is not prevalent in a place and some one starts the practice, it can very well be termed a new idea, especially in town life style.) by a newbie contractor to whom we are still thankful. The aftermath stories - you would not want to know; but I can say that at least 5000 fisher folks suffered loss of life and property.

I did recall all of these day before yesterday at Poompuhar beach.. Rocks lining the coast made it seem like a safe day at the beach, but the tides were very high. Yesterday when we went to the same beach that we all knew so well, I saw flowers here and there in the sand.. There was also a poster of a little girl who was lost to the sea five years ago. Wonder what the beach will mean to the girl's family and the generations to come in her family....

When I walked in, I noticed that the distance between the road and the sea shore had reduced; the sand is no more the bouncy white beach sand, but wet tightened mass of sand that showed shades of black sediment; and the waves are higher than we had seen on normal days... It seemed that the sea is not very quiet, it seemed that there is some connection to the same time four years ago to the present time frame...It might seem that I am blabbering, but trust me, if you had been on the coast line, you would admit this... I tightened my grip on my little niece's hands..What I didn't think was the tides were higher, stronger and denser than I can handle... I slowly moved backwards, far enough to just let the sea waves touch our feet..

At a distance, we saw three children heading straight into the sea, without knowing what it means to walk into the presently violent ocean.. On the shore, sat their parents watching them... I wonder what people think of themselves when it comes to parenting, especially when on a beach, as violent as the Bay of Bengal.... It took a policeman to come over and tell people to keep close to the shore!!!! Where is commonsense? What does adventure fun mean when there is a chance of losing a life? Wonder what is more important - Chatting away to glory standing on the shore or doing the same thing holding on to the child's hands in the beach.....? Wanted to scream!!!!!! exactly what I am doing here in this post....

If you are a parent, please realize it, at least when you are taking your child to the beach. By the way, the sea does not know the age of the person it is engulfing, so please take care.. The East coast line is more violent these days than it has ever been.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Hello People,

Christmas Greetings to all of you.

I wish you and your family Merry Christmas and a very happy holiday season.

Enjoy the moment!!! :)

Smile,
Dew :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Photographs

I was searching for some work artifact ( yes, my work related old references are called artifacts) and stumbled upon a folder with some of my pictures, old and new. Although I am always for hard copy photographs and photo albums, of late, we have all shifted to soft copies mostly.
When I ran a slide show of the pictures, few thoughts came up:
  1. A photograph's clarity is directly proportional to the camera used.
  2. The thought flow in your mind just before someone clicked a picture of you, also defines how beautiful you look.
  3. The traffic, the climate, the travel, and the peaceful good night's sleep - All these define your actual look.
  4. Good, Bad, Ugly - Its all photo technique, some natural and some artificial.
  5. If you are going by looks, a photograph is a bad idea. It is usually valid only as on the day it is taken.
  6. Photographs in the mind, hard disk or photo album are excellent keep sakes and records of fond thoughts.
  7. Photographs can teach you time travel, to the past mostly.
  8. Photographs can tell you how vast your mind space is, although to you it seems encapsulated in a shell of skull or a fist-sized heart. ( The debate on where is the mind has not ceased, so I have included both heart and brain when talking of mind space).
  9. A photograph need not reflect the real you.
  10. Photographs can bring out the artist in the photographer.
  11. If you think, a photograph has not come out well, always blame it on the camera. :-)
  12. If you think a photograph has come out well, say Thank you.
  13. No matter how beautiful you look in a photograph, it is how much you matter as a person to your people, that really brings about a joy in them, when they look at your photograph.
  14. You may be photogenic, but if your actions and words did not catch any one's attention in a positive note, your photogenic face would not either.
  15. You have a photographic memory, especially when it comes to remembering how someone made you feel. So, does your neighbour. Make sure, you do not hurt someones feelings, as much as you can.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wedding

I recently attended two wedding functions; This was after a very long gap, so I guess wedding observations are taking some space on my blog. What I am writing here is not what I noticed in these two wedding functions, but my general observations in Indian weddings.

India knows to celebrate weddings. Applause.. Wedding is a very special occasion - The beginning of a life-long relationship that is the pivot of a happy family tree.

There are extremely grand weddings (You cannot spot the color of the girl's saree, count the number of items on the lunch menu, and can never give your gift without having to wait for an hour in the queue to meet the couple), and moderately grand weddings ( You can tell the saree color, you can manage to taste most of the items on your plate, and can meet the couple fairly quick to greet them).

The South Indian Tamil weddings mostly fall into one of these categories. At a South Indian Tamil wedding you will see/face all these:

Bright colored silk sarees. But also you will wonder how some people manage to walk in to the wedding hall like they would for a beach evening?
Lots of Jasmine flowers. Also you will wonder why some people hesitate so much to adorn their short or long hair with flowers, at a wedding.
People to greet you almost everywhere in the wedding hall. Nice to note :)
At least every third person you meet, asking you if you had something to eat or drink. How nice? and how many of us appreciate this?
At least one person in the dining hall yelling away ( like the sky is falling right on top of someones plate or bananna leaf at lunch) to some one serving Rasam or Rice or Sweet. Wonder why? but makes the dining hall interesting place to spend time.
Loud noise of people and traditional instrumental music. Wonderful :) and Nice:)
People saying 'Hello' to you and asking for that one person in your clan who couldn't make it to the wedding. Wonder why?
All the organizers scurrying around in the wedding hall. Almost always it seems that everything happens in the last minute although the engagement happens at least three months before the wedding. Wonder why this last minute rush, but it is a nice experience :)
There is always someone searching for a key or a foot wear or hand bag or a jewel accessory. Wonder how?
There are lots of sweets that you cannot handle. One or two sweets would do, to cater to most people's tastes. Anything more than that makes you wonder why? and touch it not!!!!
The bride's makeup is very important and no one even thinks about giving half as much attention to the groom's face make-up. All the same, the Jodi looks grand. :-) So, my take is, it is 10% external make-up and 90% mental satisfaction that shows on the face.
Almost in every wedding, the bride does not get all the time in the world to drape her wedding saree. The wedding saree is given to the bride after a lot of formalities only minutes before the 'Muhurtham' or the 'celestial and auspicious moment' that marks the marriage. Even before she places her hands on it, people start calling out " Time for the Muhurtham, Where is the bride?".. So after all that time spent on saree shopping, the bride does not even get quiet minutes to admire herself just before the most important moment in her life. The wedding Muhurtham moment is always hassled for her. Wonder why?
You hear this question soon after the wedding: " Enna maapillai vandhaacha" meaning "Has your son-in-law come into your family?" and you cant stop wondering how people can ask such questions when all they have been witnessing in the last few hours in the wedding hall was the marriage and everyone knows the son-in-law has joined hands with the girl. Strange, but what is even stranger is that you don't get angry.. you only get to smile.. :) The scene is very amusing, though I have controlled my voice of opinion on this : Where were you all this while? and wonder why you are asking questions like this.
I have till date, not understood why South Indian wedding buffets have a lot of North Indian items made by South Indian cooks who claim to be specialized in North Indian dishes. It just wont be perfect to have Naan and Panner Butter Masala catered by Aminjikkarai Bhavan. Wonder why people don't get it..
Almost always, the bride and the groom get to eat after the whole world has feasted over their wedding. Agreed, that may be the norm, but I have heard of instances when some special dishes have got over before they come to the dining hall to eat ( lunch or dinner). It is so unfair, but seems to happen all the time. Wonder why?
After all the care taken to conduct the wedding very well, there is at least one forgotten invitation. You see Person A and remember that you have not sent an invite to Person B. Possible.
After the grand wedding, how many of these people call back to say that the wedding was grand and nice or how many wedded couple write a thanks note back to the people who came in for the wedding? No idea really.

Few other observations that I cant forget to include here:
Kerala weddings are the shortest. When the wedding formalities are happening, if you turn around to say Hi to someone, the next thing you know is the wedding is over. The Muhurtham is set for exactly the minute, meaning the precise Moment and you will only see crowd in the hall for exactly fifteen minutes before the moment and thirty minutes after the muhurtham. The wedding party clears off the place in exactly half a day!!!! Unbeleivable in tamilian weddings, but I guess it is good to take the best practices, as said in corporate strategy meetings.

Food is excellent, but for some reason, Kerala weddings do not accomodate Tamilnadu cuisine. All tamilians have complaints about a kerala wedding buffet and all Keralites( no offence meant to keralites or malayalees or tamilians) have a problem with proper Tamilian food. At a wedding buffet, you are only enjoying the variety of cuisine and sharing the joy of the festive occasion and the happiness that lingers in the air, and definitely not talk about how the food was not good or didn't match your taste. But, what I have heard over the years is, at most weddings, 'Food' puts off people more than anything else. Wonder why?

I have not attended North Indian weddings and Andhra based weddings, but I hear they are all usually the extremely grand scale types. People are known to splash money like water for the weddings. I wonder why? but I guess that is the way it is :)

Whether grand or no, a wedding is very special for all the fond thoughts that it brings to everyone in the family. There might be unpleasant memories, but when we hold on to the unplesant, the plesant finds no space in the mind and heart :) What say?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Auto or Gift??

God sends gifts in various forms....
Hey wait... This is not a spiritual post, but one that tells you how my faith in God worked for me, as it always has :)

The 5th of December was a very important day for me, because I had a paper presentation in a writer's meet.
The presentation was important for a lot of reasons:
One, I have not taken the stage for about 10 plus years now.
Two, I cannot keep it short when I talk ( or write, to be honest) and I had just eight minutes to say all I wanted to say on the topic.
Three, I am talking about a subject that everyone knows, so I cannot afford to make mistakes.
Four, my stage fear is very popular with me and my circle of friends.
Five, the audience will have a lot of new comers to the field and I have the responsibility of setting a good example.

The presentation was scheduled at 8:30 A.M and I set out promptly at 7:20A.M. I had estimated about 10 minutes to hire an auto to the venue and about forty minutes of travel. Even if the traffic is heavy( which is very rare on a Saturday morning in Bangalore), I can still be there on time, was my thought.

I took an auto and after clarifying the directions for him, I sat back relaxed, only to find at the next traffic signal, that the auto driver had got confused. After a minor attempt to clarify, I stepped out of the auto ( The auto driver was nice enough to let me know he was completely lost) and waited for the next. The next auto driver was headed to a place called Majestic and he was happy to take me there..[ This happens only with Bangalore autos.. but, it is not a bad idea.. I guess in future, we will have autos in Bangalore that ply between two places and we would have to wait at the appropriate stop to hail autos to specific destinations..].. Though I liked the idea that I have to be going to where the auto was headed and thought that it was brilliant enough for a future implementation, I was not going to Majestic, so had to let the auto go. Then, there were others who had a problem with the road, with the metro constructions, with the route and with the traffic.

When I looked at the watch, it was 7:50A.M. If I get the auto right then, I have a fair chance to reach the venue at 8:30A.M and then to walk inside the campus is going to take me another 5 minutes, which means I will be able to start my presentation 5 minutes late.... Not at all what I expected., But then, the norm says 'Expect the Unexpected'....and clearly I had NOT expected that hailing an auto can be as difficult as it seemed that morning.

I said a quiet prayer stating that I cannot go late and God has to do something about an auto immediately. I took a random turn on one of the cross roads and found two autos there. It surely was not an auto stand. I saw one of the drivers reading the morning's news paper. Of course, worldwide everyone reads news, except me and brushing aside the thought of disturbing his peaceful morning, I approached the driver. He said, he is waiting for the clock to strike 8:00 when he has a school trip, and so would not be able to come. He directed me towards another auto.

On an approximate count, I can say, it was the tenth auto for that morning. It was almost 7:55A.M. This auto driver was an old man, a very old man. I hesitantly asked him if he can take me to race course road. He immediately said, "yes". I was super-thrilled. I hopped on to the auto, and directed him to another stop where a friend of mine joined me. It was 8:05A.M. We had about 20 minutes left to reach the venue. The auto was going at snail's pace. It seemed that the auto driver had decided that one inch a minute is the rate at which he would cover the entire 10 km distance. I prayed once again ( that is all you can do, of course apart from the high temper that you can express at such a slow pace).I told the driver how much this ride meant to us. I told him about the presentation and how we had to be there on time and how much of a trouble it was to find him and how happy we were to have finally taken his auto and that we were very thankful. It was a very natural appreciation and release of tension according to me and somewhere I felt, this man is a good contributor to the success of my presentation although there is no technical connection between me hailing an auto and making the presentation. If not for him, I would still be waiting there or thinking of alternatives ( rare on Saturday mornings in Bangalore) but would not have started off at all.

The auto driver rushed ( according to him) in the normal speed and stopped at the venue in exactly 15 min time. We reached at 8:20 A.M, well in time for the presentation. When we paid the auto fare, he said " I understand that there is something important happening at 8:30 in this place and it means a lot for you to be here on time.. My speed today was according to me, 'Over speed'. I am old and I would have never managed to reach here in 20 minutes from where we started, at my usual pace. I am a very slow driver;I better be, because I am old. But good, you could get here on time."

The previous day, the same drive had taken us forty minutes. On this day, it had taken us 20-25 minutes in all. We thanked this driver and I made it a point to tell him that reaching the venue on time would not have been possible without his help and that we were very grateful.
I would surely say, that this auto driver was a major contributor to my talk that started exactly ten minutes later at 8:35A.M. The delay was due to other reasons, but not me, the speaker.

If I had reached late, I would have faced one of these :
- questioning looks from the audience
- hurried start of the presentation
- slight disorientation that usually results from the hasty start
- incoherent flow of ideas
- less-composed self

All of which, I realized are quite possible for no fault of yours, except not expecting that things can go really really tangentially different from what you expect. That's what makes me think that God sends gifts in various forms and the auto, the auto driver were both God-sent gifts to me - Gifts that let me keep my principle of being on time. I also realized that we dont realize that such timely help gifts that are sent to us time and again, in our every day lives, unless we see them gift-wrapped in a colorful paper with soft pastel colored satin ribbons. But why?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Aaja Nachle....Be in the moment

I got a chance to attend this writer's conference in Bangalore last week. The entertainment evening had this wonderful fusion dance number by two pretty and smart young ladies... or I'd just say the girls whose dance cast a spell on the audience....'Aaja Nachle' was one song.... the others I don't recall, as I am not very good at remembering cine bits ( music, stories and characters inclusive). What I definitely remember is that the music notes of the three songs were fused very well and the dance steps were in complete agreement.

So, what makes this dance so special that it called for a post on my blog?

This girl Ms.Damsel forgot that it was the stage and she is performing before a crowd of 500 plus people; she went into a new world where she was with the context of the song, her expressions perfect with the lyrics of the song, and her steps so gracefully tuned for the dance... She lived in the moment; the entire stage, the audience, her costume and the next step.. all seemed to fade in front of her and her expressions and the inner sense of bliss that reflected on her face said just one thing:
"Live in the present"..

After the great performance, it took her three minutes to gather herself back and realize that it was a stage show.... It was such an eye-opener for me. May be all seasoned dancers perform this way, but this performance made me realize, that it is not only the talent, but also the idea of living in the moment gave that extra touch to perfection in the dance.

A lot of people say this.. Live in the present, Be in the moment, Think of the present and other such thoughts that mean being present wherever you are at any given moment. All of us know it is a great idea, but for some reason most of us drift away from the present most of the times... It starts from the day dreaming times back in boring classes in school... True to the proverb,'Habit is second nature', we dutifully carry it forward to the next-to-next phases in life and slowly but surely we forget what it is like to live the moment, to live in the NOW; We either want to day dream( which is okay once in a while) or think of the future.... We want to be in college, while at school, want to start earning while at college, want to get a promote when just into a workplace, want to finish work before we begin... The same applies to clothing, just that with clothes it is the reverse order these days.. Minimalist clothing is the order of the day in some cities.

We think of home when at work and work when at home.. we think of a pending work when talking over the phone to a friend or sometimes multi-task ( talking on the phone with a friend, eating at the desk, and answering an email), we think of A when talking to B, and sometimes we think of food when we pray. Even God does not get our complete attention...

When we don't give our complete attention, we miss the message that the experience has to offer us. Aaja Nachle means, C'mon Dance... and to me it translates as "Be present in the Present". All thanks to the expressive and involved dancer, Ms.Damsel.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Clearing the clutter in the attic

I agree that the title of this post is the same as this blog space by SG. This post does not have to do anything with the cited blogspace.

Today, when we were talking about transferring archived emails from one computer to another, I realized that as much as the best-selling stories,self-improvement books, and motivational talks discuss about living and being in the "Present", the corporate world insists on the "Past".

For those who are clueless about software and hardware industry, let me tell you, anything to do with Storage is the word of the day.. Just about anything and everything needs to be stored in the computerized age. This blog post would not show up if it is not stored. Hail Storage!!!.

While there could be functional and operational and process-oriented reasons behind the idea of storing all your emails for as long as you work in an organization, often, I must admit that most emails that you read once, do not have to be opened ever again in your life. We still keep an email, because a "What if I need it later/next year?" question comes up, almost always.

I agree that this is information world. Any information from the past, small or big, can make a lot of sense when in a decision-making situation - Medicine, Construction, Banking, Designing are a few fields that heavily rely on such historical data. These days, every sector has decided to learn from past mistakes ( which is a good move...) and consistently keep up accomplishments. So they store records of the past and use the statistics to improve business ( which is good again...).

We are so used to this storage practice outside and most of us are unable to avoid this percolating into our the storage attics - Cupboards, Desk drawers, kitchen shelves, Footwear racks,refrigerators, and of course attics if you want to call the overhead shelves as an attic in your house [ Indian building drawings and designers use the real-estate very well.. If nothing else can fit in contextually in that building drawing, it becomes a storage...most occupants love that extra storage space..].. We are so happy to have an extra storage space in the house, as much as we like to have a super-high memory space in our flash drives.. [The latest( by my slow standards in technology news)fancy I came across is an 8GB flash drive from Hewlett Packard.It could be easily mistaken for a white, strip of a chewing gum].

Okay, so we have the space.. now what?? In most houses, this is the scene:
All papers, no matter how important or unimportant get stored. You just might need a newspaper to wrap your shoes ( which is of course stored away in the far corner of the footwear rack) when you take it to the cobbler to mend, someday. And tell me, unless you've paid over a few hundreds for the foot wear, would you bother to mend it?

Every member of the family, especially the younger generation has a tendency to stack up foot wear that matches every dress in their wardrobe. May be that's a way to live up to the trend of the day, but also adds up to the clutter in the shoe shelf.

Some people put away plastic covers, old and outdated receipts, medicine strips and pens that are unusable. Clothes are another problem area altogether. We know we buy new clothes, but do we donate the same number of clothes at least to clear up space in our cup boards?

Next is books.. Keepsakes are fine; ardent book lovers keeping a library is good, but I see a lot of houses stacked up from floor to the ceiling with books that no one has the time to flip through. One spring cleaning should help find the books that can be donated to the nearest school library.

Coming to think of it, we must clear a lot of trash from our minds too. We store away a lot of thoughts too, just because we are so habituated to putting away things for a later reference or usage. Pleasant thoughts should be stored safely and shared often so happiness doubles. Unpleasant thoughts should be translated into experiences and shared with someone, so sadness or negativity dwindles. I think, it just needs some practice.

Cluttered mail box, cluttered work desk, cluttered house, cluttered mind, all consume time, energy and space.. The last and best of all: Your search for something never ends in a cluttered space. This directly means your stress never ends :)

Don't you think, this simple principle of storing only what is needed, is all we need to keep life easy? May be we should start with emails at work... I have started trashing the emails which I dont need, before I leave office each day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Splash on Complexity

- That which you call 'Complex' only seems complicated.

- Every complex task eventually gets accomplished.

- Yesterday's complexities always seem lighter than those in the present.

- Today will clearly be tomorrow's yesterday or simpler still..... Tomorrow, Today will be 'Yesterday'

- Often man complicates life, like the previous sentence.

- It is good to acknowledge complexities, but never let them stress your mind.

- If it does not seem complex, you may not put in your best.

- If it is complicated, it is surely an interesting challenge to take up.

- What seems complex to you may have been as complex to your neighbour, just that you do not know what really happened.

- Mechanical and Construction Engineering drawings seem extremely complex to me.... as complex as my Computer science seems to them.

- The word 'Complex' stands meaningless, the minute you begin to understand it.

- When you accomplish a complex task, the sense of contentment you feel is immeasurable.

- All simple things have complex theory to understand; this is especially true of life and its bountiful presents.

- You can't escape sensing complexity; you surely can begin to accept it, work your way through it with resolve, and dream to accomplish it.

- Believe it completely when someone says 'It is Simple.'... that is the first step to accomplishment.

Monday, November 23, 2009

WFH - Work From Home

This post has been published on Bangalore Mirror dated 7th December 2009
Working from Home has become very common in corporates these days. Workplaces are looking to reduce cost involved in space and power. More and more offices are making this option available to the employees whose physical presence is not really required to get the work done. These people who permanently work from home are called 'Remote Workers' although I do not like the term much. I often realize that when I work from home ( very rare days) I work much more than I do at office. So, there must be a better term as I don't want anyone to register 'Remote worker' as 'Remotely working..'.

I chanced to have a conversation with a colleague who works from her home office. Surely, this sounds better than a remote worker. We were discussing about the idea of working from home in general. Here are what I captured and later realized:

When you work from home, work is always at the back of your mind, even after you are done with the office hours. It takes a very good disciplining of your mind to totally cut out work when you are not in front of your computer.

Work from home option gives you some peace and quiet that is otherwise a problem in most work places.

When you work from home, you do much more than when you are in an office building. However, it depends on the number of meetings you role demands. I believe discussion meetings are effective when in office and you meet people in person. If you are talking about meetings with people in different geographies, then there is no difference. Its anyways a remote meeting.

When you work from home, and there is a power failure, and your power back-up doesn't last long, then your work commitments suffer. The same applies to the Internet connectivity. At an office building there is someone whose job is to make sure that power and Internet works fine.

When you work from home, it is very difficult to draw a thin line between work and home life explicitly. You still have to answer the door. Any letter/post that otherwise waits till the end of your work day, lands in your hands mid-day, to make or break the rest of your work day.. Say, its a snail mail from an investment company with 'not-so-good' news...

When you work from home, you get to take quick breaks that in some professions boost your energy levels. For instance, in my field, if you write for more than thirty minutes, trust me, you will need to take five to ten minutes break.

When you work from home, if you do not have proper infrastructure, chances are that you might end up in posture related issues - back pain, shoulder ache and such ergonomics related problems. Most workplaces today have econometric conditions including lighting.

If you are a people person and do not like a lonely workspace, then you are better off working from an office building.

If you are in Bangalore and are commuting two hours on the road, one way to work, then Working from home is the best option your company can give you.I see people working from an office wanting to work from home permanently, just for this reason.

If you have a baby that demands your attention and your work can wait till you attend to your child, then working from home for a few months is a boon.

There are a lot of advantages when you work from home as much as disadvantages. It is just that we need to know both sides when we opt to 'Work from Home'. People who are working out of a corporate office should not complain about having to work from an office much, because, 'Work from home', among its advantages that you would certainly like to have, also has some disadvantages that are probably too hard to handle.

There is no right and wrong here, its just that what works for you finally matters. I wrote this post for those people who think working from home permanently is a very attractive option to have.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Paani Puri lessons

This post is not about the Paani Puri recipe. For those who don't know Paani Puri is a North-Indian chat item. Please google for the recipe and if you are in India, hop over to the nearest chat corner and have one plate of Paani Puri..

We were a group of six friends looking for a nice coffee shop after a very interesting afternoon. We saw a Paani Puri vendor on the way and one of us in the group suggested that we all taste this vendor's Paani Puri. I love Paani Puri, but had stopped taking Paani Puris anywhere outside. The scene around the vendor's Bamboo stall interested me. I decided to just take the Paani Puri with the confidence that shone on the vendor's face.

He served at least 10 of us in one go.. The speed was unbelievable. Before you knew there was a Panni Puri in your hand... There were some people who wanted some specifics ( spice, sweet, plain etc.,) and the vendor grasped all the specifications and served us exactly the kind of Puris we wanted. There were people making payments, ordering more plain Puri chats, along with the ten of us eating non-stop.

The potato filling got over in between and you should have seen the speed at which he refilled and spiced up the mashed potato and no one really had to wait. The sincere effort with which the vendor was doing his job caught my eye. He took care and attention to fill up every Puri just the way he did the first one... and did not skip any step or spice just because there were too many to fill up, or just because it was crowded or just because it was a monotonous job for him. There was a smile on his face, an intelligent way of answering questions, and a smartness in the way he noted what each one of us wanted.. He knew when one person was done and knew when one other wanted more paani puri.

There was commitment, speed, sincerity, smartness in this business that can easily pass off for a professional business tactic. I said a big Thank You that brought a Smile on his face, a smile of satisfaction that conveyed the importance of appreciating a job that is well done. :)

Somewhere, this vendor makes me think, we all need to learn much more when we take up a task to do, whether at home or work...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looking back at Hostel life....

Top reasons why a hostel life experience is very important:

To be able to make friends with most people...
To be able to say Good Bye to friends...
To be able to sleep undisturbed with the lights on, the whole night...
To be able to share a bar of a favorite chocolate with five others...
To be able to take a quick bath...
To be able to make a sandwich for a friend..
To be able to attend to an illness...
To be able to break a bad news...
To be able to rejoice at a peer success...
To be able to appreciate a letter, phone call, or email...
To be able to focus amidst heavy music and loud noise...
To be able to crib about things and adjust with them, nevertheless...
To be able to make someones day with a joke, gift, or an honest compliment...
To be able to keep your stance, when you know it works you, no matter what any one says...
To be able to know what does not work for you...
To be able to love your neighbour despite all imperfections...
To be able to understand the other person's priorities better than self...
To be able to give a hug, lend a hand, and spread some cheer when needed...
To be able to hail a support system and hold the fort when things seem to fall apart...

I realized this yesterday when I was talking to a friend who has not been in a hostel and has no clue how to handle too many 'outside interferences' in life. :-) It is difficult to put this thought across to some people: You are in a community and circle and there will be a 'give and take' that makes your life as interesting as it can get.

You can learn all of these even without staying in the hostel, but it will seem a lot harder and will take a lot of time to come to terms with the life around you. Those who have not had a chance to be in a college hostel, may be able to support my statement better. No one said, its all-pink time i college, but hostel does add a rosy touch to college life :) although back in college most people dont realize.

Hostel life for a short time ,with a lot of people around, is one good way to learn more about walking your way through the maze of life... For a completely beneficial hostel life, it has to be in college and not in school.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What all can you save?

I spoke to a friend just now. Here are my thoughts soon after the conversation:

  1. We know of a Savings Bank account for money.
  2. We know of a Blood Bank that saves blood.
  3. We hear about saving interest rates on loans.
  4. Credit card banking offers some savings on purchases using specific credit cards.
  5. We try to take a definite road to save travel time.
  6. We constantly try to think about saving fuel.
  7. We hear advertisements stating: Save the Earth, Go Green.
  8. We see emails with the signature line: Save paper and environment. Print this only if you must.
  9. We think about saving electricity.
  10. We talk about rain water harvest which means to save rain water.
  11. We want to save our energy and so have a listening ear towards Yoga, Meditation and Health care.
  12. Technology has its own contributions for us to save time, effort, and our physical energy : All electronic items, software and automation around speak for this.

The best of all and the often forgotten till December of every year is the leave balance account. Most of us save leave also. That was part of our topic of discussion and here are my thoughts:

Your company gives you leave to utilize it when you need. You do not have to save it like you save money, so you can en cash it or carry forward to the next year. However, if you have some event coming up in the near future and you are blessed enough to know it before, it is okay to save a few days for the next year.

If you are not ill, there is no point in taking sick leave, but if you are unwell and are unable to sit through the day, it is okay to mark a sick leave day and get out of office.

You have been working very late hours; You are putting in long and focused effort at work; And you know you really need a break after that one major release work, take a causal day off. Its very important for a rejuvenated you and a fat pay cheque, the next year.

Remember, some people and occasions are hard to miss. So don't trade off the fun and responsibilities that you cant afford to miss, just because you have a job to do. If your work priorities are manageable ( workable/doable) , take that fun day off to be with your friends and family. If they are not, work your way to get that job done fast, so you can still take time off.

Companies give you sick leave, casual leave and Paid/Annual leave.. Spend them as wise as you would use cash and time.... Wait a minute..... You might want to read about Time and Savings here. Save leave, spend leave and think of encashing your leave balance as the last option.

You are getting paid for what you are doing. If you think, you are not, then change jobs, improve skills, speak to your manager, or do something on those lines.... but never think about leave encashment....if it happens on its own, good for you.

The leave balance is 'Avail'able. Avail adequate leave each year with some discipline and redefine yourself at work, if you think you are not taking enough time off your work and if your family/friends/health is cribbing about you being workaholic.

So here's what all you do save if you spend your leave with some discipline : Relationships and Memories, Blood pressure and energy, and most importantly, Yourself.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Over one crore new mobile connections in October 2009!!!!!
That's from a news cast today in one of the papers.

On Google search for "Mobile Phone Hazards", all you see is only scary threats listed. While you are wondering what would it be like without having a mobile, ( I still cant understand how I managed without a mobile five years ago!!!), there are more and more new models out in the market and more and more new users are joining the mobile phone user community. Cell phone companies continue to make profit.

Same applies to most things.... Computer based jobs are increasingly advocated to cause a lot of health issues and yet there are not many non-computerised jobs in the world. Internet is a boon and also a paranoia kit. Smoking is bad, yet the cigarette company continues to be in business. Drinking is believed to be bad, yet the number of alcohol serving restaurants are increasing every day. Mobile phones are bad for health, they say, yet the number of new connections are on an all-time high!!!!

What's with the increased usage of something and the ever increasing threats about the same thing?
One side of the scale says, " Eat healthy" and the other side says " You are missing something, if you are saying 'No' to this dish"....
One side of the scale says " Its okay to take care" and the other side says " You are paranoid about things"....

One side of the scale always says " Don't" and the other side immediately says " You have not much in life, if you don't"...
But Why??

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Waiting and watching and longing....

Yesterday evening scene close to my house:
It was late evening, the street lights flooded the streets and the place looked painted in yellowish orange. I was enjoying the breeze, the soft drizzle, a melodious note on my ipod, rhyming my steps to the tune and walking my way home. The road had orange flowers all over. With the yellowish orange light on the pale brown pavement, the orange flowers looked perfect modern art to my eyes.

I switched off my ipod as I saw two children rushing towards me and then suddenly stopping and then rushing back to their house's gate. An old man said, " This is someone else, your mother will come home in a while, go inside and play, it is already dark. " The children looked very disappointed that it was someone else and not their mother. I felt so sorry to see their disappointment. In Bangalore traffic, God knows where their mother is held up and here I was telling them, " Listen to your grandpa and go in, Your mom is on her way home.. She will be here in few minutes.".. They just gave me a very emphatic No for an answer. They intended to stand there, under the street light and just outside the gate till she gets home.

Children are stressed more than the adults these days, I think because they have to wait for their parents to get home.. I don't know the answer to this, yet, but then makes me wonder aloud about "How to handle this problem?"....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time and Savings

How many times do we say that we do not have time for prayers, people, phone calls, emails, hobbies, and the list can go on.. Each of us has different reasons to give for not being able to do something and never have one reason why we must consider doing it... I think I have finally stumbled upon that one reason to do all that I would otherwise postpone saying 'No Time'.

Last week, I chanced to read some points that gave me a very different picture about Time. We have about 1440 minutes in a day. Math : 24 * 60 = 1440. I wrote it out just in case you are trying to do a mental math on this. It is as clear as the calculation, that we have a whole 1440 minutes to do all that we want to do in a day..

With this thought, can you just spend a minute to check if you can spend five minutes each day in prayer, 20 minute for friends, 10 minutes to respond to missed calls and text messages, and say another fifteen minutes for music or exercise or some hobby? In all your spend time would still be less than hundred only, but will bring you immense results personally.. You still have another 1340 minutes at your disposal..

If this sounds doable, you have given this math a serious thought.. if it doesn't, try thinking about it once again...You should be able to crack this simple thought.

The same can apply to savings. Every time you think you have not saved enough or you want to save more or want to spend more, all you need to do is check how much you spend for a whole day and then a whole week and then a month. You will be able to separate the need from want, want from comfort and comfort from luxury. Have all these listed separate and see how much you can save per day.

The book said that if a smoker decided to save the money he spends on one of his cigarette packs everyday, then he will have a reasonable savings by the end of the month. Let's see how. Let's say a pack of cigarettes costs about Rs.25. Math : 25 x 30 = Rs. 750. Now, don't you think, this money can come in handy for a quick dinner with a friend, later that month? So, think of that dinner with the friend and cut down on one pack of cigarettes each day. This way, we can identify a lot of things to cut down, to postpone and to minimize until an appropriate time when all these becomes feasible and comfortably affordable.

When we say it is tough to manage the expenses with a given amount of cash, we just need to sit down for a week and watch what is happening to the cash.. and with time, we need to sit down and watch where is it elapsing away like that.. Both cash and time get spent anyway.. The people that claim to have both only invest and spend smarter than the rest of the herd.

As for the savings story, I am not talking about people who are born in royal families and have silver spoon memories. I am talking about those who are earning a monthly pay cheque and are trying to do their best to save, spend and enjoy - all at once.
As for the time story, I am talking about everyone of us. This has no bearing with the financial, social, professional status. You cannot do anything to stop the ticking time which is anyways 24 hours or 1440 minutes for everyone alike.

Small amounts of time invested whole-heartedly and cash invested wisely have their own way of paying you back.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Nature - naturally superior!!!!!!

அழகிய மலைச்சாரல்

தூய வெள்ளை அருவி

பச்சை பசேலென்ற நெல் வயல்

இலவம் பஞ்சு போன்ற மேகம்

நீல நிற அடி வானம்

மெல்லிய மழை நீர் துளிகள்

சில்லென்ற மென் காற்று

இவை எல்லாவற்றையும் கண்களாலும் மனதாலும் படம் பிடிக்கின்ற கணங்கள் மிக அருமையான அனுபவம்.

நேற்று முன்தினம் சுற்றுலா சென்று இருந்தோம். வழியில் கண்ட காட்சிகளை தான் சுருக்கமாக கூற எத்தனித்தேன். சுருங்க சொன்னாலும் நிறைந்த மனதுடன் மீண்டும் என் அலுவலக எழுத்து வேலையை தொடருகிறேன்.

இயற்க்கை நான் நினைத்ததை விட பெரிய படைப்பு என்றும் மனித படைப்புகள் எல்லாம் சர்வ சாதாரணமானவை என்றும் தோன்றுகிறது, இன்று.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Need for Bangalore Daylight Savings Time??

I had never really gathered a complete picture of the Daylight Savings Time(DST) till I got to read this post by SG at : http://sowmyagopal.blogspot.com/2009/10/around-clock.html
Thanks, SG.

I had this email that American clock is 13.5 hours behind IST and our official meeting hours with our US counterparts will change accordingly. I did not bother much. Such messages are common twice a year in all IT companies.

Day before yesterday, when I stepped out of office, it was a cloudy sky, but never thought that it will be pitch dark at 6:00P.M. I have waited for three days to see if I have to make this patentable proposition of having a DST declared for Bangalore and call it " The Bangalore Daylight Savings Time (BDST)".

I don't wake up very early, so I do not know if it dawns early these days, but I must say night sky sets in very early these days - as early as 6:00P.M. Complimenting the dark skies is the heavy November downpour. I don't know what's with rains and traffic jam in Bangalore; the traffic jam is too heavy even by Bangalore standards. So, if you start off from work as usual, say around 5:00P.M or 5:30P.M, you are bound to get netted in the painfully slow moving traffic or worse still, deadlocked traffic. You just cannot move. It is raining and you are on a bike and you are locked in the traffic. When you reach home, it is invariably 7:00P.M; at the earliest, so to say.

I got caught in rain day before and with no auto to take me back home, I had to walk up to the nearest sunshade of a shop to shelter my head from getting wet. ( Don't blame me for not carrying an umbrella!! I heard it at least ten times from five people that day!!!) With nothing better to do, I watched the interesting scene in front of me:
My shelter was close to a cross road facing the main road.. Water is gushing one cross road to the main road's walkway. It looked like a river to me. That is my usual route, so I knew how many trenches are open on that walk way. With water gushing like an overflowing river, walkers need to know what they are walking into.

Attention shift: A biker stops his vehicle and rushes to take shelter with the other three of us waiting there. There was a deadlock in traffic. No one could move. All cars and bikes were honking and no one can move an inch because of the gushing water and haphazardly organized vehicular traffic. It was like a race on cross roads where vehicles from four sides of the roads were trying to hit the finish line which was the center of the road in this case!! Sure shot accidents!!!..

Headlights beaming, persistent honking conveying the urgency of each one to get past the other, confused pedestrians, over flowing rain water, all made the scene seem hopeless. As far as I could see on all sides, there were only vehicles... No sight of a moving vehicle.

I thought about the cause for this situation. Everyone starts from work at about the same time, plus or minus a few minutes though. Then,mid way it gets dark, rainy and all of them want to get home before they catch a cold or fever.

The only way, it seemed to me, to avoid this hassle is to start from work early evening ( say 4:00 P.M), for which people have to be in at 8:00 A.M. That is what I meant by BDST. We need to make the best use of the early morning hours till November and through the winter days in Bangalore, which is early February. It will help a lot of traffic issues.

Also, the metro work and electrical conduits and anything else I have no clue about, seems to have some trench dug up on the pavements, almost always. With less or no light at all, imagine the plight of old pedestrians. On a particularly busy junction on the 80 Ft Road, there is some work going on. It was 6:00P.M. No street light. Rainy evening. The dug up land has turned into a marshy area. Imagine an old man walking his way from the church nearby..... Who is going to tell the concerned people, that there are some falls when Sorry does not help repair the effects?

Can't avoid the early dusk, Can't stop the rainfall, Can't stop constructions, Can't stop digging roads and pavements, Can't do anything about proper rain water routing and harvest or drain, but the one thing that must work is we finish our business outside early and get home before the night fall/rain fall/traffic peak.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

You are in the right place!!!!!

This was the opening statement in one of the presentations I happened to attend yesterday.
So, what's the big deal about it and why would I even notice it??

Honestly, I was not too well to attend a presentation at that time of the day, but I still decided to be there because I believe that some postponed appointments never happen later.So, with that said, I must say I galloped my way in a city bus amidst all the Bangalore Metro construction work sites and rushed in only to see that I was exactly fifteen minutes early. [I hate my late entry anywhere - coffee, meeting, wedding, or any appointment for that matter - and so for the first time I smiled...] I am in!!! I am in, on time and when I walk in, the first thing I notice is I am in the right place... That's what the slide being projected said.

And I took a good notice of the words.. I read it over and over again, to let the message sink in.

The feel-good factor in me was soaring up to sky-rocketing heights and I was very glad that I came after all the roller-coaster rides, changing three buses on the Complex old madras road, as one of the shop's banner put it.[ It said, No. X, Trinity Church Complex Old Madras Road... and the writer in me, punctuated this at an incorrect place and read it as Trinity Church, Complex Old Madras Road.. and trust me, the present situation is totally complex on Old Madras Road!!! Hail Bangalore Metro Constructions!!!!]

My mind had a comfortable ten minutes to ponder about the line.. You are in the right place.
Well, what else do you expect to do when all you get to see is "You are in the right place" flashing every minute in front of you? Of course, I have dutifully turned my mobile to silent mode and blocked all my attention towards the presentation.

Isn't this statement eternally ( or should I say perennially) true? Okay, cutting all the flowery words, Isn't this statement true all the time??

To book a train ticket you must be at the ticket counter.
If you wait at the entrance to the railway station and want to book a ticket, you are again at the right place.... to realize that you should queue up at the reservation counter to reserve a railway ticket.

To cross a road, you must be at the pedestrian crossing.
If you try crossing the road from a fair distance away from the pedestrian crossing and you just missed a hit and run accident, you are still in the right place...to remember to follow road rules.

If you fall down and break a bone, I am sorry to say, you are still in the right place ...to learn to watch your step on a rainy day when you walk on a muddy, marshy road.....[only if you had stood at that slippery spot, you could fall, the way you did... so even for a fall, you must be at the right place.]

Antonyms are prevalent in this world...So, my mind went ahead to think about where does the question of being in the wrong place come from??

When you aim to book a train ticket and expect only that result....
And did not expect to be in the right place, to welcome someone arriving at the station...
When you want to cross the road and expect only that result....
And did not expect to be in the right place, to realize the hazards of crossing the road from a non-designated zone...
When you want to go for a walk on a rainy day and expect only that result....
And did not expect to be in the right place, to realize that a slippery road can cause a fall...

In all these cases and others that we know of or can think of, there are no wrong places...What you did not expect always ends up in your mind as the Wrong side of the story..We do not say I got a different result, but always say I got a wrong result. At any given point in time, we don't want to understand or believe that what happened is something that is right - although not expected, it is right for us at the moment.

There is no such thing as Wrong in its absolute sense, only in relative sense...Something may be wrong relative to the results we expect, but absolutely correct with reference to what we are supposed to know/receive. We get it all wrong, while almost always, everything happens for the correct reasons, at the correct places, with the correct people and at the correct time only.

Philosophical?? I have no idea, but if this is philosophy, then I believe it must have some truth to it, is worth giving a thought, and is the first step to positive thinking... Wonder if that is why in the writer's world we do not use the word 'Wrong'. We always say 'incorrect', which can mean 'not the expected result'.

Coming to think of it, should we consider doing away with the term Wrong from our diction?

I was convinced that I was at the right place at the end of that session to realize something.... I wish to keep my understanding to myself for a while. It will be out on this blog at the right time.

I am at the right place and so are you. Do not think about the could, should and would aspects of your life. Just believe that you are and have always been at the right place..

What you can gather from what is happening around you is what defines who you are.

Monday, November 02, 2009

You dont have to wait......

until the next accident to repair a collapsed railing....
This is the address of the railing I am talking about:
Krishnarajapuram Cable bridge,
Near K.R Puram Railway Station,
Bangalore.

One day, sometime early this year, on my way to office, the usually over-crowded Old Madras Road beat its own records of the highest peak-hour traffic and lowest speed. I called up my manager and informed that I might be indefinitely late for work, due to a reason I have no clue about, and all I knew was that my bus stood still on the Old Madras Road.

When the traffic finally started moving at a snail's pace ( of course, we were glad and thankful) I looked out of the window to see a huge container truck toppled over. Thanks to the crane that moved the toppled truck to one side of the road, so a narrow one-lane passage was clear for the vehicles to inch their way through. From the bus, some eyes were transfixed on an angle just above eye level towards the railing of the cable over-bridge that we were just crossing. Our road was adjacent to the bridge, at a lower level and ran below the bridge. That is to explain the height difference between the bridge and the road. This way, you might be able to visualize the catastrophic fall of the truck from the over-bridge to the road on the lower level.

God knows whatever happened to the driver, helper and whoever else might have been in the truck that day. I silently hoped it was a movie shoot and everyone inside the vehicle were alive outside the movie screen, but the papers confirmed that it was a bad accident. The truck driver had rammed on to the side railing in the wee hours of morning and the toppled truck scene was too real to ignore. And here I was, with complaints about reaching office late when so much was toppling over in the world!!!!!

The next day, the peak hour in Old Madras Road was in the usual pace. When I crossed the same spot, I noticed that there was a thin caution ribbon tied on the broken railing. For another three months or so, whenever I remembered to give that angled-look towards the broken railing, I saw the caution satin ribbon.[ I like the confidence that the old neon signal, in a tattered caution ribbon, would continue to show Red in the head light of an approaching truck at midnight!!! Read carefully.. so many parameters here !!!].

Over the next few months I saw the ribbon missing. Made me wonder, what if another bicycle/ bike accident happens just because of the gap in the bridge's railing? Till today, this railing has not been fixed. I can say its been like this for about eight months now. Wonder if we are waiting for the next major accident at the same spot, to come back to senses and do something about this broken railing of the ever-populated, forever busy, over-bridge in the most-crowded road in the city.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hair loss, Mobile alerts and facts

It was a slow afternoon at work. I was trying to make some sense out of all the information that I had on a specific subject. My phone was not even in my thoughts. I was jotting down points, scrolling window panes on my desktop computer, switching between emails and applications, when there was a "Beep Beep".... once...[ Cant be my phone!!! Don't know why I was so confident!!!, but I had forgotten to silence my phone in the morning].. the second time, the same Beep seemed louder and then I looked around for my phone... The third Beep was too loud and I had to look at the most important message of the day:

No more hair fall & Dandruff!! Get New Hair!! Buy XYZ oil Rs.1750, Free Head Massage, Guaranteed Result. No side effects. Call 121212121.

And I was tempted to write back, " Yeah, right, No Results and Guaranteed side effects!!!!". I was irritated for a second and then immediately laughed out loud.

Who is going to tell these people that any amount of hair oil or hair care cannot help people working in ever-lit, air-conditioned, closed work spaces. The pollution, the work stress, the change in weather by the second, the salty water add to the hair loss.

What makes people think that sending blastogram type of sms to every number available in a mobile phone directory is going to get business?? The first response is irritation when such messages come in at mid-day during work, when your hair loss is of least priority [ Aaammam, Romba mukyam!!! was my first reaction ]. I thought, if I set a Do not Disturb against my number with my service provider, I wont get unsolicited marketing alerts at an unexpected hour. I guess, I am all wrong... We do have to specify our numbers in different forms and sites and courier envelopes. Wonder if people pick up contact numbers from there or are sending out messages to any random number!!!

That said, I'll tell you what my doctor said for the hair loss question that I asked him once: Stay home most of the time , Do not work, Do not travel much, Do not worry, and Cover your head when you go out on a sunny day, rainy day, or winter day. Then he said, if you can follow all of these ( Can you??) , then your hair oil, shampoo, fruit intake and health fundas would help your hair look like you see in one of the shampoo advertisements you admire!!!! Anything else anyone says is just to make you feel that you are doing something towards improving the lustre of your long hair.

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Food' and food for thought

This article has been picked up by Bangalore mirror on November 2nd 2009.
http://www.bangaloremirror.com/index.aspx?page=others&do=/blogs/post/Food-and-food-for-thought.aspx

I recently had to change two planes of the same airline company to reach Bangalore. On board the first plane, the flight attendant came over with a tray full of snacks. I did not want all of them and so told her I'd take only the Chat and Sweet. I told her to put away the vegetable burger.
She said, "Take it ma'am, we will not be using it anytime again."
So, I tried to explain "See, I don't want to eat a veg burger and I am telling you even before I take the tray from you. Just wanted to make sure that I don't want to waste it."
She said," That's okay ma'am. You can just let it be and enjoy whatever you like to eat.".

Of course, I knew that, but just wanted to be sure that we don't waste food because, just because it was a complimentary snack. I still do not understand the idea behind trashing everything that is not used at a given flight travel. When there are so many without food to eat, it is just okay for the airline to consider giving it out to someone in need. I am not saying that the sealed food stuff from a used tray should be given away, but in cases like mine, where the food is untouched and I have told them upfront to take it off from my tray, it is just okay to give it off to someone in need.

A co-passenger from plane 1 was my neighbour in plane 2. Plane 2 also had the same snack. I promptly said 'No, thank you'. I did not feel like eating the same snack again.
My neighbour took the plate and said, 'Its the same thing'.
I said, " Yeah, same airline, and how come you took it again? Are you hungry?.
She said, " No, I am not, took it just like that...". I didn't understand.
When she was done, I saw that the chat and the veg burger were left untouched and of course, tossed straight into the trash can.

Food!!! and very good food goes to nobody!!!!. Could not take it.

A little later is when I noticed the flooded areas in Karnataka. You can read about it here. Like, I've said in that article, we just wont get it - how difficult it is for a lot of people to get something to eat, each day, when we are here, wasting food in an airplane. I don't say you have to eat whatever is given whether you like it or not, but there must be an option for people to pick what they would like to have. When you are half way through eating, and you don't want the rest of it, its still okay. You are not under any force here.

But then, if you don't even want something, and the whole thing goes to the trash can for nobody's consumption, it is colossal waste of the now under-valued food, that is otherwise a luxury for a lot of people out on the roads. Just because our airfare includes the in-flight snacks, it doesn't mean that we should nibble on food and send the rest to trash. Why is this happening?? May be this has been thought out, but I told you what happened and don't you see it is a solid waste of money? Whose money is not important here.

Airline companies are implementing plans that ensure that their guests are treated well. They don't have to reuse food items that are untouched, but can surely give it away to some one in need. Made me think.. How much of food must get wasted in such big airline businesses each day? Do they all hit the trash can? Or do they get sent to people in need?

Either we change or the Airline companies change the way they serve food.

I was dining out with a friend last evening. We thought we ordered very smartly, smart enough not to waste food. I didn't think that the quantities would be too much for us to finish. When we were done, we still found a lot of food left. They were not touched and we decided to pack it off to be given away to someone in need. I realized the value for food, when I finally gave the food packet away and got a whole-hearted thank you in return.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pazhassi Raja

Pazhassi Raja, an excellent snapshot into the freedom struggle in India, which dates back to 1796. Directed by Hariharan, the movie Pazhassi Raja speaks about the courage, patriotism, inner strength, loyalty, friendship, love, decency, family ties, art, perseverance, and commitment and much more niceties, native to olden and golden India..

The movie has been set in the eighteenth century time frame and the movie crew has taken its best care and attention to see that the set totally merges with the age old times. Not that we would have a clue if it really did, but then I must say careful research must have gone into the prevalent clothing, warfare, style, language, practices and manners of late 1790's.

Pazhassi Raja was the only king who did not want to surrender to the British and accept their rule in Kerala's Talessery Fort which was part of Madras Presidency back in 1790s. He did not believe in the rule of British , who were mere traders of all the natural treasures of God's Own Country. Pazhassi Raja formed an army which had both men and women in it; trained all of them and then fought the Britishers' attacks, day and night. It seemed that at that point of time, life was all about survival and just staying alive. The British atrocities increased day by day and there was a point when the people couldn't handle it any more; Their last ounce of strength and resistance started to fade off because of a lot of their close folks getting killed in the war. Pazhassi Raja and his associates stood it all and gave their life for homeland.

The women folk in the movie captured my attention a lot. Maakam, Pazhassi's wife is very beautiful and fits into the role very well. You can see the love she has for Pazhassi, throughout the movie, in every shot. Perfect supporter, sincere lover, and a very brave lady - that is the characterization I could see of Makkam. Neela, the wife of another warrior was a complete surprise. Her strength and fitness amazed everyone in town. She lost her soul mate in the war; fought her best for the homeland. She is portrayed to be a child-like individual, very patriotic, very bold, very much a warrior and a very emotional girl full of love for her warrior hero and full of admiration for Pazhassi Raja's command, strength and rule. For that matter, everyone admired Pazhassi.

Mamooty, Sharathkumar, Manoj Vijayan, Kanya and Padmapriya played the key roles. The movie also had the usual Malayalam stars without whom Malayalam film industry would not be what it is today. Ilayaraja has scored the music and has done a fabulous job. I am no music whiz to talk about his music and do not have any words to explain the beauty of every single word written for the songs. Standing ovation to the lyricist of a particular song which had this line: I can see your face in the flame of every lamp lit in this house. The Malayalam line was more flowery and nicer. Kanya's face glowed in love and the light; it is quite a sight, very difficult to achieve through any amount of lighting effects or computer stunts. Less dialogues and more of silence, this seemingly celestial beauty complimented the song very well. I enjoyed the stunt scenes every bit, except that the war left me thinking about the point of all the blood shed after all... We must thank God that we were not around to see the First or the Second world war. If you've seen a war and survived through all the devastation, I must say you have all the strength..

Impossible to miss scenes:
The foreigner explaining the meaning of "Adithi Devo Bhava"
The foreigner saying Pazhassi is a gentle man.
Mamooty trying to tell Kanya that he doesn't want to say Good Bye.
Mamooty consoling Padmapriya with his hand on her head.
Padmapriya's war fare and stunts.
Kanya, as a beautiful painting straight from the mythological books that speak of celestial damsels.
All key players in Malayalam have a role in the movie.
The scene when Pazhassi does in early morning prayers in a lake in the forest. Picturization of the nature's bountiful beauty is just excellent; of course that's an understatement, but there is only so much I am able to write about the scene. I did not blink throughout. [Should direct a three hour movie about nature's beauty only, someday.]

Other snaps:
- The Talaserry leaders believed that General Duncan will not harm any woman, and they really did not, throughout the movie.
- When Pazhassi had to leave his palace, someone brought him a lot of money that he can use to build his army. No questions were asked about the calculative aspects. Money was not the point in question; when it came to helping someone in need, people always came forward.
- Women in the family were bold. They did worry about their men who went out to fight, but did not stop them or discourage them.
- Women in the family were very supportive.
- People treated each other with respect and also respected each other's privacy.
- Friendship flag stood very tall. Sharath kumar and Pazhassi.
- Approach life with reckless abandon is a saying that we've often heard - people did not worry too much about going ahead and doing what they can to their fullest potential. 'Hit or miss, that's all can happen anyways' was their attitude.
- There was beauty in the way women carried themselves - they followed the four traits that is said of an Indian woman back in tamil folk tales - Accham ( Fear of doing things that can be predictably dangerous to their family values ) Maddam ( portrayed idiocy when required, in front of their men and guests; for instance, if someone has an enthusiastic story to tell and she has heard it already, the girl with the 'maddam' sense in her, will not really show that she knows it; she wont mind listening it all over again, just to not spoil the enthusiasm of the one who is telling it.) Naanam (Shy to do things that are against her personal and family values; remembering to behave like a lady in front of others, mostly referred to men folk)Payirppu ( Noticing certain things in the family, but finding appropriate person to say it through and the right time to pronounce it.)

I can write more, but will stop here, as I am quite tired with the thought that India has come a long way in many ways, but has dwindled a lot in the values that this movie portrays and the ones I listed in the beginning of this article.

Ten pages have been torn from a long historical note and made into a beautiful movie. It is a must-see and worth every penny of my movie ticket today. The theatre plays National Anthem before every movie and today, I guess the Anthem matched the essence of the movie quite well. Minuses, well, I didn't notice and neither do I care to.

One word : Pazhassi Raja - A crisp snapshot of a glorious past that gives us a sense of pride and patriotism.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

T-shirt Smiles

There are some things that you cannot miss or cannot escape your eyes. A black T-shirt with white letters scribbled across is definitely one such 'You-must-read-this' invite.

Not that I need an invitation to read T-shirts.[ Bad habit?? I admit, don't tell me about it!!!! I think they write on T-shirts only so someone reads. I love to read T-shirt thoughts and I attribute this to my college times when I was volunteered into the T-shirt designing group. We had a day's time to come up with a design and thought on the class T-shirt. It was not accepted is a different story altogether, but I did enjoy every bit of the night out we spent sketching and re-sketching, writing and re-writing; hated every second of clearing up the paper-strewn floor the next morning...]
That was a nostalgic thought that came to my head as I started this post.

At the bus stop yesterday, I read this Black T-shirt : I'm the guy your mom warned you about!!!
Super-cool presence of mind, I must say.. :) I smiled and hoped that no one saw me smiling. :)

I had headache yesterday and was just waiting to get home.. As I got off the bus and proceeded to walk, I rubbed my temples to soothe the pain a bit.. I read this Black T-shirt : I can give Head aches to an Aspirin!!!
What a timing, I thought and smiled automatically; Felt my headache smile away too :)

I dont know if there are awards given for the best scribbles on T-shirts, but I must say, I really feel like conducting one such contest to see what kind of interesting one-liners people come up with.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday Mornings - a new look

'Nothing happens by chance' is my latest belief. If ever, you have read me remarking otherwise in any of my blog posts, I don't recall and won't surely defend my earlier posts or opinions on it. May be I believed in chance earlier in life...

My train tickets for the Diwali trip I had planned, did not get confirmed and I had to book a flight ticket to Bangalore. I had a fantastic Diwali and was heading back to Bangalore. As our air craft inclined ground-ward a little, indicating that we are landing in a while, I recalled that tomorrow was Monday and that meant my vacation was coming to a close. I don't know why, but this is always the case after every long holiday, even if I am looking forward to an exciting piece of work in office...

While the premature Monday morning blues were setting in, I could not mistake the clearer images of the huge water puddles all over, as much as my small window view could permit. The recent floods in parts of Karnataka and Andhra came to my mind instantly. There was no mistake. I saw marshy waters eat into the remnants of the once rich paddy fields. I could not see the state of the devastated houses very clearly from the now, relatively low flying air plane, but I can say that a lot of houses would also have been inundated with water, if not destroyed completely.

Here I am flying in to the costliest city in South India, to get back to work in a corporate company that is doing better than most others and to live a life that gives me a number of reasons to be thankful about. I am sure most of us have quite a number of reasons to be glad about - to start with, we are in a position to look at this post, and not having to deal with a flooded house. That, in itself is a blessing-To be alive and to be in an off-danger zone.

The thought of how the flood-affected people's lives would be on this festival season, pained me a lot. It is so unfair that one segment from our population suffers so much while another segment looks at the whole suffering from a flying air craft's height. We just won't get it, would we? Not that I wish we must all be there to experience or extend in-person assistance to help the situation, but the least we can do is complain less about the beginning of a work week on every Monday. At least I am going to try sincerely from now on.

I do not know all the God-meant reasons for my Air travel today, as yet, but I think I have identified one of them for sure - Be thankful for what you have. It is not that this lesson was not taught to us earlier, but it seems so right to have this re-iterated over and over again, because it seems very difficult to remember.

Monday, October 12, 2009

If the blind lead the blind....

Its just fine.... If the blind lead the blind, its just fine...

This evening, I was coming back from work in the city bus. At one bus stop, one family got into the bus - Father, Mother with a baby, and another man( later came to know that he was the uncle)with a little girl. In the whole clan, only the baby and the little girl could see. The others did not have the gift of eyesight. They conducted each other so well and I don't know what made me stand up instantly ( could be that I was stunned to note that they couldn't see the world and still had so perfectly conducted themselves into the now over-crowded bus), but then I was glad that my common sense worked.[ Of course, you know that commonsense is not very common]. I told the little girl to sit in my seat and she guided her uncle to the seat. He was all smiles.

My attention shifted to the mother with the baby. She could not see the world. It is hard to believe that the husband and wife did not have the chance to see each other at all. The baby was on his shoulders and they sat happily talking about something. The sudden breaks in city buses are common and I told girl sitting behind the visually challenged couple to take care of the baby's head, as the child's head came close to hitting the seat bar. [I was myself dancing in the bus because of the too many sudden breaks that day. The traffic was heavy on the road, as usual.]The girl spoke in Kannada to the mother and she positioned her hands correctly to ensure the safety of the baby's head.

I got down from the bus with the thoughts about how well-gifted we are and how less we acknowledge it. Could not help thinking about the fact that these people trusted in God much more than all of us.. Every time they take a step, they are taking a chance and its only God's support that keeps them going. Someone gave a seat, some one told that their baby's head can get hurt and when I turned to look at the bus, I saw them getting down too and a police man helped them reach the pavement. They do not get to plan so much about how they will manage on the road, they only know that they have to reach somewhere.. How they manage goes by God's plan.

My lesson : Just think about where you want to go.. and not about whether you will make it there or no.. If it is meant to be, you will somehow be guided there. Philosophical?? May be, a little.. Practical? Yes. Very much. You don't lose by failing an attempt, but by never attempting at all. Just start and do as much as you can to keep your focus and leave the rest to the unseen and unknown and incomprehensible power - Call it God, Time, Luck, Confidence, Instinct, Saviors, Nature or Sincerity.

This is on Bangalore Mirror, dated October 26th 2009. You can read it here :
http://www.bangaloremirror.com/index.aspx?page=others&do=/blogs/post/If-the-blind-lead-the-blind.aspx

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Being nice vs. Education

This article appeared in Bangalore Mirror paper dated 16th October 2009. Here is the link :
http://www.bangaloremirror.com/index.aspx?page=others&do=/blogs/post/Being-nice-vs-vice.aspx

She did not study.. She is a maid servant in three houses.. She is very prayerful.. She loves to talk.. She is always on time.. She takes her time to do the work, but does a spic and span job..
That was all I had known about this maid servant.

Late afternoon today, when she walked in briskly as if it was just dawn, I was deciding whether or not to take a nap. I was trying to fight a headache. She asked me how I was doing and that its been a long time since we met. She asked about my folks back home, my work, and my plans for the evening. I gave her all the answers and returned the courtesy with enquiries from my side. I was getting ready to take that most-important late afternoon nap, when she suddenly remarked: You look very tired, I guess all of you girls with so much of education are only tiring yourself out. I guess my life is better, because, I do not have to tax my mind as much as you do, at my work place. [ And I am not doing any work that is as tiresome as hers... ]

When I explained that education is important for today's woman, she said promptly: A woman is any day capable of handling a lot of things better than a man. A man needs to know to earn money and a woman should know to keep it. Whether educated or uneducated, she must know to take care of her husband/in-laws/children/parents/herself. I am sure that is why God has made a woman; She can stand it all and handle it all.

I was completely in agreement with what she said( naturally!!!!), but countered it with a "Men also have to watch their ways, to keep the family happy". Her response was very quick: "These days all the boys are educated and they surely know to behave well".

How nice of her, to have this thought about educated folks. She doesn't have the education that is believed to be required to be nice to others, but she is nicer than most of us educated folks. She has the primary education that most of us lost somewhere in our busy lives: The belief that the next person you meet on the road has a purpose in life as much as you do, and is nice, or probably nicer than you.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Anytime, Anywhere, Any moment

Anything can happen to us anytime, anywhere, and at any moment. I was enjoying ( really enjoying!!!) my breakfast this morning. I casually looked up to see what NDTV had to say.

The scene was a flooded house in Bellary, Karnataka as on October 1st. The news reporter was being shown around the place by the head of the family. Everyone else was crying out aloud. It was a sad scene. People who have been living a happy life till the deadline( it really was!!!) date were now in a sorry state that is not very easy to explain. Per the news, on this day, the mother was serving food to the eldest son; the waters gushed in, and the next thing they knew was something fell on the little boy's head and they had no way to save his life. His two younger sisters, and the parents are totally entangled in a maze of cluttered surroundings, flooded house, ruined belongings, grief from the loss of a loved one in the family, hunt for food, the children's health and safety.The next minute, the food in front of me seemed too heavy and too much of a luxury.

The flash news continued reading flood-related story after the sad visual I just wrote about. After the visual got over, I was amazed at the advertisement of a popular bedding company that sponsored the 'Breakfast News' in NDTV. It showed a young lady sleeping comfortably in their "latest, specially desgined for health, and carefully designed for comfort" bed.

Made me wonder.Life goes on anyways right?

All of us think that everything in life is so permanently leased to us and cannot be taken off. This family that we are reading about here, has lost all that they claimed to have owned all these years in a minute.

As I finished breakfast and got up to leave, I saw a sign post that read : Mind your step. How true!! Although the facilities department in my office complex referred to the steps in the center of the hall, it fits very well with the context of this topic.

We all have to 'Mind our step' in life as anything can change our life any moment. We don't get a warning notice like this. All it takes for our carefully planned, totally egoistic, very materialistic, extremely emotional life to vanish, is just a any devastation twist from the routine any moment, anytime and anywhere. So, it is important to watch our thoughts and mind the steps we take in life's journey, as long as we get to live. That way, we can tone down our minus points a little and focus on contributing to a bigger purpose in life.

"Always be ready to give a hand anytime, anywhere for anything that comes your way and needs your help" is my lesson from today's breakfast news.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Totally unexpected

The flash news today on NDTV read : The Chief Minister says that this flood is totally unexpected.

Totally pointless statement in life according to me. Millions have been affected due to the floods in Andhra Pradesh, India over the last week's time frame. The impact is really huge. All these natural calamities are usually unexpected. If expected, then you would have been able to do something about it. If you can predict the calamity, you will still only be able to minimize the impact, but never be able to achieve a success rate of zero impact.

If you spend sometime thinking about this, everything in life usually happens unexpectedly. If you are able to predict/expect everything, then for all you know, we may not value life for what it is to us.

We all use this 'unexpected' word often. The other word for this is 'Surprise'. Surprises, pleasant or shocking are all 'Unexpected' and life is full of them. Routine surprises like the Sun rise and Sun set might have been a surprise till people saw it every day and began to take it for granted. Do you stop to look at sunrise or sunset every day? Most of us do not, and even if we do, we don't care to see the surprise in it because it has become a routine. The earthquakes in Indonesian islands are 'Routine surprises' to the natives while, for us it is a totally 'Unexpected' calamity.

In my opinion, if you 'expect' something and it happens just the way you anticipated it to be, then it is still a surprise that things worked out just the way you wanted them to. We are proud t0 have the ability to predict and expect few things in life, but are never able to expect the 'Unexpected'. It is strange, but true. Another reason to believe that the quote 'Expect the Unexpected' is correct.

There is not much we can do about the 'Unexpected', when it comes as a shocking surprise.

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