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.

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 :

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Being nice vs. Education

This article appeared in Bangalore Mirror paper dated 16th October 2009. Here is the link :

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.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Simple truth on CAN

There is only so much you can do on anything.
What you must, you will do anyway.
Anything beyond that is a sure way to loss of sleep, increased blood pressure and decreased peace of mind.

For those who believe in, " You can do almost everything", I must say, it is a nice thought and great to practice, but within the stretchable limits. Do what you can and what you must, to an extent that your mind, body, and time will permit. [ It is surely important to validate if your limit is because you are lazy or have been too busy. If you are limiting yourself because you are lazy, you alone can help yourself.]

Never limit your mind on its dreams and aspirations, but when you put them into action, just remember the feasibility limits as on date. You cannot think of building a house on Moon, when you have not even managed to buy a square foot of land, in the most remote real estate zone in your village. It is important not to lose focus on your immediate needs and short term plans in life, while working too hard on a long term dream.

You might be a stunning success twenty years later, but it is equally important to ride with the wave ( loved this term, borrowed from a conversation recently) till you know you have covered the basic personal requirements for you and your close circle. Anything you do in the name of acheivement should not affect your close circle more than they can handle.This applies to all walks of life - Art, Academics, Politics, Scientific research, Astronomy, Geology, Law, Engineering are a few examples of fields where people get so deep into the achievement mode, that they forget their personal life where other people are involved.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The law that rules....

The only law that rules the world : Murphy's law is the only law that does not go wrong.[ If you find it difficult to follow; I am just trying to say that Murphy's law is the only law that works correct].
For those who forgot ( conveniently forgot or have been blissfully unaware of Murphy's law) Murphy's law states that : If anything can go wrong, it surely will.

Thanks to the gtalk conversation that I had sometime ago with a friend. I was marvelled at the fact that something went wrong so predictably at the right time.. And the response from my friend was what you read above, on 'The only law that rules the world'. Of course this is not a pessimistic view point, just a little too realistic than you want to accept. If we accept, we save some visits to our doctor.

If we don't, our doctor will tell us the same thing...but in context with our health.[I am sure you don't want to imagine your doctor saying: "I am doing all I can to help your health situation, but I wish you had understood the law that rules the world earlier... I am sorry, but I believe in the law that rules the world, more so, in my profession...May God Bless me, as I am holding the surgical knife today". Scary? Yeah, I intended to keep it that way, so we all understand better:-)]

Now, don't be too smart and say, Murphy's law governs the world and when I know it cannot go wrong, why should I bother much about life or health or anything for that matter?. The only answer I can comprehend is: It is easier to take life easy when you are aware of the Law that Rules.

The next time someone says, 'Take it easy', we'll know what they mean.:-)


With new opportunities also comes to fear and self-doubt. How can we navigate these very strong forces in order to reach our fulfillment...