Sunday, December 28, 2008

God Save His Own Country!

Here’s a marvelous compilation of painstaking research that will open the eyes of the so called Kerala defenders to the true state of Kerala. And here’s a comment by a commenter called Noble Paul that best explains the Kerala paradox and why the future is bleak for the State.

God Save His Own Country!

This New Year give a thought to the girls who are given a "One way ticket to Hell." Thanks to Aashik for the link!

Monday, December 22, 2008

All is not lost

The recession is beginning to hit home. Yesterday a cousin sister of mine got laid off. It was a devastating blow for this mother of teenage children. There was no warning and as per the terms of her contract she got her one months notice pay and they even allowed her to take leave for the notice period. Her Christmas was totally ruined. Luckily her husband still retains his job for now.

After the initial shock, the intrepid lady took a cool look at her situation and logged onto a popular job portal. She found several jobs. Though they did not pay the type of salary she was drawing, they were better then nothing. By evening she had an interview call and she is more than sure of taking the job though it pays her 45 % less.

There is a another scenario to this situation. My uncle a Small and Medium Scale (SME) businessman has been struggling to get good people for jobs for a long time now. The buoyant market made it impossible to take on even B grade b-schoolers. He just could not afford the type of salary they wanted or were being offered by big business houses. Today he is a happy man. He has not one but three MBA’s working for him at a salary he can afford to pay them. The MBA’s on the other hand are pragmatic and content with the 50% reduction in their salaries at the new job. They were similarly laid off, but seem strangely happy with their current situation.

The two examples taught me a valuable thing. That all is not lost. There are jobs out there though they may not pay very well. And people, who have lost jobs, should not despair but ride the gloom out with whatever is on offer. Depressions come and go and when the market is buoyant again, things will look up. We Indians are long used to frugality and depression should not be a scary word for us. Jobs are not disappearing. They are out there. Though they may be a lot less attractive pay-wise. But the economic boom has ensured that even at a lower price, jobs at still available for the taking! So take heart folks. All is not lost...yet! :)

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

I am off for the hols :)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Flies in the soup!

This post from Praveen gladdened me. It gladdened me because it spared me some furious keyboard thumping of my own to let off steam. I badly wanted to write about the incident but I was too worked up to be coherent. So I am plagiarizing Praveen’s angst. That must be some first! :p

Much has been written about this utterly despicable episode. But in a way I am glad it happened. Glad because when politicians speak the truth, however occasionally it gives us a valuable glimpse into their mindset and thinking. And it is chances like this that will help us better understand this species. Yes, they are a species now of different hues and ideologies. Very different from other humans and in order to understand them, one needs ‘impromptu politically incorrect outbursts’ like this from them from time to time. It showed the man for who he is. This episode and another that happened a couple of years ago in college have coalesced to form an understanding of politicians in my mind. Let me share the same with you.

First Year College and we were part of an entourage of students and lecturers that met the Education Minister at the seat of power in Bangalore. The reason we met him is immaterial here. The minister was barely educated himself and when asked probing questions by the assemblage got hot under the collar as he had no clue and started shouting. Our English irked him more. After that the no one dared open their mouth as a minister is naturally feared for his power and the nasty things he can do to you or your family. Note the irony here. The PA signaled us to leave.

As we were leaving a group of villagers came to see the minister. The change in the minister was dramatic. He got up hands folded, a respectful smile on his face. He listened to them with humility and respect and a lot of show of attention and promised them action on some agricultural problem in some halli of Karnataka. They were perfect strangers but he gave them the respect given to a family.

Now if Sandeep Unnikrishnan was from a poor family, Mr. Politician would have been at his side in a trice. In fact most politicians from Gods own Country would have been jostling for space at his funeral. However Sandeep came from an educated middle class family. It is a class that is not happening for the politician. It is a class that is of no use to him as it does not vote and hence is not a threat of dethronement.

The poor on the other hand have nothing but a begging bowl of small grievances that can be patched up with a flourish and much fan fare and speeches to make him happy enough to vote him back to power. A pipeline here and an electricity connection there and viola…poor man is happy. His leader has delivered.

But the educated middle class? They are not happy with cosmetic applications!! They want infrastructure improved. They want accountability for their money besides they know English and the minister or MLA cannot argue with them and hope to win with words or a water tap and a lamp post alone. The temerity of the people who don't matter. Appalling! And why do we not matter, because we don't vote. Simple!

Therefore Mr. Chief Ministers arrival at Sandeep’s house and valuable time wasted to visit that house was just a formality. I am sure he detested the hypocrisy. Poor man! Do you think the public outcry will affect him? It will not and he knows that. He has already granted favors big and small to people who matter. We the unvoting junta can scream from our plush air conditioned cubicles. He cares two hoots. We don’t matter. And that’s the simple truth.

Politicians serve those who serve them. We, with our educated sneer and classy contempt are nothing but a bunch of emasculated populace who make impotent noise in the media and blogs. This is why a post like this will remain what it is at the end of the day…mere text. Because I come from a class that has no power or wont exercise their power.

Mr. Politician will notice us the day we start exercising our franchise. Till then we will remain mere pesky flies in his soup.

( Just heard about his apology under pressure to resign)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Dont worry, be happy!

An SMS broke the late evening calm in Bangalore. "Look at the Moon" it said. We all rushed out and this is what we saw. It was the heavens way of saying "Smile India! We know you have had a hard weekend!!"

Thank you Mr Moon and Miss Stars!! You just made our day err night!

Read how the government has been De-patilled for our safety! :p

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Karthika (name changed) was the wife of Ravi (name changed) a peon working in a government office in Gods Own Country (GOC). Ravi died of Cirrhosis of the Liver ten years ago. He was employed at the time. As per the rules and regulations, Ravi’s son was the natural successor to his father’s post. He had already graduated by then and the family was sure of him securing the job and Ravi’s pension soon. Like the proverbial twist in the tail shown so brilliantly in Hindi movies, the family’s fortunes sank with Ravi’s death.

When Karthika approached Ravi’s office for the pension and the job she was asked to come a month later and check on the status of the pension and her son’s induction into his father’s job. Today, ten years later, Karthika still haunts the office for the pension and her son’s job. She has sold off her house, land and cows to pay various people in the office as instructed by the Trade Union Ravi was a member of, to get her files moving. Her younger daughters have grown up and after their SSLC got employment in a Housekeeping Services company. Her son does odd jobs in the hope of getting that coveted government job soon. He is in his thirties now, married with a kid.

If you are wondering why Karthika did not approach the courts, then you will be surprised to know that people like Karthika are a tribe in themselves. They are simple people, intimidated and or impressed or plain awed by offices and officers and people of power and education. They trust anything told to them by people posing to be well wishers. They think the pseudo concern and reassurances shown by the parasites in the office and union are genuine and do their utmost to arrange money as and when asked by these parasites. And these parasites have been living off people like her for years. They are fully aware that she and people like her have no money, but think nothing of asking her five hundred rupees every six months to get her file moving.

And the Karthika’s out there are more than happy to beg or borrow that money to oblige the nice rotund pot bellied gentleman sitting on the Godrej Chair and table sipping Coffee while they stand hands clasped after handing over the envelope. After every visit to the office, there is a spring in their step and a look of hope in her eyes. Meanwhile the five hundred and the other five hundreds given by the other Karthikas will keep Mr. Government Servant’s Bar stocked and car running till the next visit of the Karthikas. There are many people out there living off people like Karthika. Try this stunt in the union less rural areas of other States of India and you will be surprised that it will not work. The reason is not because they are squeaky clean, but because the illiterates have a conscience and feel pity for poor widows, while the literates of GOC think they are easy picking for some nice side money.

This is a true story. Recently my uncle and aunt took up her case when they got to know of her plight when she came to them for the job of a maid. With my Uncles political connection her pension was released and her son got the job after the person appointed by the Union in the job was transferred to another office. While my Uncle was walking in and out of several government offices getting the mess sorted out, he was witness to many Karthikas coming in with envelopes and leaving with hopes in their eyes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wedded to a cause than the man!

When my eldest brother finished his studies, there was a spate of weddings amongst his batch mates. These were boys from families, who believed in getting their sons married early. Soon after the wedding, the newlyweds would drop in home as my parents would invite them for a customary meal. And as is the custom in my house and most Bangalore Christian homes, alcoholic drinks would be amongst the choice of beverages available for the guests male and female. Some of these guys would have a small drink hesitatingly. Some would refuse altogether. My brother understood and would not press guys who did not want to drink in front of their wives.

Soon, wifey in the enthusiasm of a new bride will start putting down the law. No drinking and no smoking. She thinks she will have the eternal devotion and love of her husband with her concern for his health. What happens instead is a stupid battle of the sexes that sours relations and throws the romance out of the marriage forever.

In the first flush of marriage hubby listens to his devoted wife often gushing over her concern and the stability marriage has bought in his life. Soon he has a drink with his friends or team mates at some occasion or office outing. Then he goes home and faces the wrath, tears or sulks of the wife. Then he starts wondering what the big deal was in an occasional drink! He doesn’t realize the notions wifey carries in her head that it is her duty to correct his supposedly “erring” ways. Constant reminders not to drink puts him in a defensive mood as he resents the nagging. The wife in turn makes this a cause célèbre and thinks that hubby is just being stubborn and needs a firmer hand to get out the habit. In her mind, this would be her success as a wife. If you were to question her at this juncture, she would have no clue as to why she was acting thus. She would probably say that it was her duty or alcohol was injurious to health or something like that. Some were misinformed that an occasional drink will lead to Cirrhosis. However most treated it as their duty as wives to stop it.

Soon wife resembles the nagging Mom and we have two people who wonder when or how the romance went out of their lives. He will complain to his friends about her nagging and drink on the sly or belligerently in front of her. She will complain that he doesn’t care anymore. Single friends who witness this drama count their lucky stars that they are single. Some prolong singlehood so that they can have some more time of peace. For most of these guys from traditional families or small town, wedding means restrictions.

Alcohol ironically without being drunk in excess cause problems in these families!

I blame the girls squarely and their upbringing and Hindi movies for this. Hindi movies portrayal of men is the most misleading and makes millions of Indian women believe that men are people with no brains who can easily be misled by friends to destruction and women are people who should protect them and if gone “astray” ( read: have an occasional drink) bring them around. Then the men are shown as being eternally grateful and devoted to their wives and following them around them like a puppy singing songs and buying her sarees! To top it all the women in these movies shed their smart clothing for the boring saree, sindoor and mangal sutra and a demure demeanor to boot and you wonder what the guy finds so attractive in her now when he was romancing her smarter self a few reels ago!! The whole portrayal sends out wrong messages and reality in the form of man a.k.a husband is a bitter pill to take for these girls. They persist however, as shown in the movie, driving deeper wedges in the relationship.

Most of these girls have strange notions of the word “Wife”. They think, cooking and cleaning and keeping a swanky house is being a wife. They think correcting their hubby and fussing over him is being wifely. They think hubby’s approval and praise of their cooking skills and housekeeping skills is their life’s mission! And a few years down the line, when hubby is used to the pampering and now thinks it his right, she joins the millions of women grumbling about being treated like an ayah and cook! I don’t know who puts the notion into their head that they are supposed to take over from their mother in laws and that their men expect it!! I wish someone would tell them that a wife is a live in girl friend and the household chores of the shared house are to be equally divided amongst them!

Over the years I have noticed something very interesting. Married girls in the family or acquaintance or neighborhood circle who are criticized by the elderly ladies for not cooking or keeping smart homes, are the happiest and contended wives I know. They do not have the burden of expectations on them of running the home or cooking and hubby who is used to this from the beginning is an adjustable guy who would not think twice about an empty fridge and grab a bite on the way home than pampered men of traditional wives, who make life miserable for their wives if the home and hearth were upto the mark and the table laden with piping hot food.

Like someone wise said, happiness and sadness is all in our own hands!

They serve too who serve quietly!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Kal, Aaj aur Kal Tag

I have been tagged by Bluediamond (what a lovely name!!)

The Tag

Two questions from the past, present and future. Answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and you are done.


Your oldest memories...

My oldest memories are of Kindergarten! The beautiful bougainvillea flowers that abounded everywhere, the swings, the laughter, the fun and the pampering by the Nuns, maids and senior girls.

I had chubby cheeks and endured lot of painful moments as people pinched them. Once I declared I would not go to school anymore and my parents had to talk to the teacher to ensure that the senior girls did not pinch my cheeks and go "Cho chweet"

What were you doing ten years ago?

I was in a school play. Our class did a tableau. It was a cricket scene. I had to don the whites of some cricketer who had lots of chest hair. This is girl’s school mind you. We had no clue how to do that. Finally we ended up cutting hair from girls with long hair and sticking them on my chest with glue. It kept itching and I kept scratching and a pit stop team had to be constituted for quick replacement of chest hair. Thank god I was quite young and flat chested then! The joke hit us when we reached 10th std and one day the teachers and other students thought a bunch of 10th standard girls had lost it as they rolled on the sports field laughing, tears coming out of theirs eyes for the whole lunch hour. We kept on giggling over it for a couple of weeks, driving teachers mad.

p.s in 9th std I had to play a guy again. It was the most painful half an hour in my life. Try wrapping yourself like a mummy to look flat chested. Brrr Oh those all girls school!!! The things we did to look like guys for plays and skits would make those Xtreme makeover guys hang themselves from the nearest tree in shame!


Realized I had been tagged. Decided I won’t do it as I am suffering from Tag Toxic Syndrome. But when I read it I immediately wanted to do it! So attended to my morning work and wrote the tag.

If you build a time capsule what would it contain?

A CD with both the blogs copied on it. Family album, my grandmas book of traditional recipes, a laptop etc.

Tomorrow Friday! Yipeeeeeeeeee!

What do you see yourself doing 14 years from now?

Driving hubby and kids crazy! I will be the craziest wife and mom in town. And perhaps the most fun too. I can visualize my kids saying "Now ma behave yourself!!"

I tag,

Al Ameen
Karthik S
Rakesh Vanamali
& Sriram

p.s if you haven't voted yet, please vote for M.A.D ( see post below). Last date for voting is 11th Nov. Thank you!

Music - Hawa ke Saath Saath

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Your vote counts for many kids!

Make A Difference (M.A.D) is a youth volunteer network that currently functions in the three cities of Cochin, Pune and Chennai… 312 volunteers teach more than 1200 underprivileged kids English and computer skills in these three cities to enable them to have better career prospects...
These children live in street shelters and orphanages. Without proper guidance, their lives will go astray. MAD makes sure that they have the proper life skills to make it in life. Then MAD tries to get them placed at jobs where they can live their potential...

MAD was recently picked as one of fifteen finalists for the international Youth Social Entrepreneur Awards which is a prestigious award bestowed by the Ashoka group. MAD became the only Indian entry in this competition in spite of 521 nominations from 60 odd countries. The final winner will be picked by online voting.

Lets try and bring pride to our country by spreading word about the achievements of our countrymen. To stand up and be recognized in such a multi-faced international crowd is an achievement in itself.

Please vote now!

Post and link courtesy - Kenny Jacob !

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Diwali!

Happy Belated Diwali, Happy Diwali and Advanced Happy Diwali to you all!

That I hope covered all the regions of India! brr

Diwali is utter confusion in Bangalore. There are people who celebrated yesterday, there are people who will do it today and there are people who may celebrate tomorrow. That leaves you totally confused and kinda annoyed at it all. Yesterday I went to office and found out that I was the only one in office besides a broom and mop in a bucket. Most people had taken the day off as today is the official Diwali holiday for us. That made for an extended weekend for out of town folks here. It was pure bliss working in a near empty office. The headphones kept my ears warm as the AC tried various techniques to freeze me for the next couple of centuries. There was the full fan blast, half fan blast, full cold blast and freeze blast and some other cryo-freeze weapons in its armamentarium that it tried on me gleefully. Perhaps it was its way of stretching out after the humdrum life of 24 degrees that it lives throughout the year!

Since the air conditioning is remote controlled and can be zone controlled my day went like this.

10 am : Please switch off the AC!
11 am: Please switch on the AC!
12 pm: Please switch off the AC!
1 pm: Please switch on the AC!

2 pm and AC man calls up! "You all right madam?
Didn’t hear from you!
I am at Pizza Hut
"*Whew* we were worried madam!!"

Such a sweet guy no?

My Diwali celebrations are simple and not elaborate like some peoples. While some people do pooja and burst crackers and some people like my bro just burst crackers, I prefer to keep it simple for the sake of the environment. I stuff my ears with some cotton and crawl under the bed. I cannot stand the sound of those bombs and atom bombs and hundred walas and thousand walas. However this Diwali I made a resolution to celebrate it and not cover under the bed like a chicken! Ok I admit the real reason was that my dogs were not too happy at me encroaching into their territory under the bed. They too don’t like the noise of the crackers and can be found every Diwali sitting mournfully under the bed. So I bought lotsa rockets and with the help of a little cousin brother ensured that they went into every neighborhood window and terrace.

Last year we explained away the ricocheting rockets as faulty pyrotechnics. This year the neighbors explained away my ricocheting rockets are faulty pyrotechnics! I was hoping they will get the hint. Damn!

How the markets really work! :p

Friday, October 24, 2008

New road etiquettes

Q. Ever wondered what is the Height of Righteous Indignation?

Ans. Walking on the middle of a narrow road talking on the mobile and when someone blows the car horn, look around with an exasperated look that says "Whats your hurry? Cant you see I am on the phone?"

To the lady whose tele con I interrupted today... I am sorry lady. Next time I will drive on the footpath. My Bad! :|

Smile and have a rocking weekend friends! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Laughter the best Viagra err medicine

Watermelon: A Natural Viagra?

Researcher Says Popular Summer Fruit May Have Viagra-Like Effect on Blood Vessels

An excerpt from the article:

So, the burning question is: How much watermelon does it take?
"That is a good question," Patil says. Unfortunately, "I don't have an answer for that."


Who says medical reports cannot be funny? Read more for a chuckle or a good laugh.

Link courtesy MP

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Residual Romanticism

This is a post I wrote last placement season then forgot all about it. This year the incidents that motivated me to write this post raised its heads again and led to the publishing of the post finally! Please note this post refers to people I know personally.

I have noticed a phase in life that some young men in Kerala go through! I have termed this phase “Residual Romanticism”. Someone who read the draft of this post tells me that this is Quixote Complex. But then I am no psychoanalyst, so I will stick to the terminology that came to my mind when I first observed this phenomenon.

Residual romanticism can be observed in guys and to a lesser extent girls in their late teens and can last up to their mid twenties. It is a phases of angst and restlessness and rebellious thoughts against the predictable march of life. The phase sets in during final year of college or maybe earlier for some. Typical symptoms are talk about boredom and or unsuitability with their professional course or jobs and a restlessness to pursue something more ‘meaningful/suitable’. Definition of ‘meaningful’ not known to these restless folks. Some people start feeling restless from day one on the job. Some during training. Some for years after that. All of them feel trapped in their present roles by circumstances beyond their control.

“Residual romanticism” is nothing but the residues of wonder and awe that are evoked in childhood when these young men were younger and read or heard about the exploits and achievements of heroes, conquerors, Formula one stars, Sport stars, famous investigative journalists, social workers, advertising legends etc. All of us have gone through this stage. Including me. We read or hear about these achievers and want to be like them when we grow up. Most of us outgrow this stage as we mature into people who can appreciate that these achievers were extraordinary people. However some young men do not outgrow those wonder year dreams and reality, like college and a job comes as a bitter boring pill to swallow. They think that they are cut out for a more illustrious future than coding or marketing or whatever! They feel that the “real them” was sacrificed at the altar of their parent’s desire for their economic security.

They are sure they could have made it big as writers, sportsmen, painters or musicians. This leads to restlessness and a feeling of extreme disappointment. They sit in cubicles and wonder why they cannot be in the great outdoors doing things that their heroes did. Then comes bitterness. You get mails telling you how miserable he is at his job and how he wishes he could do something more “worthwhile”. As I write this I realize that daily life is pretty humdrum when you compare it to the fables you hear in childhood. And when your mind is still stuck in the wonder years and its shining stars it is no wonder that you are miserable as an adult.

These people are yet to appreciate or understand is that routine life is normal. That there is nothing wrong with going to office on a 9 - 6 job like others. That all of us cannot make it as novelists, Ornithologists, Journalists and copywriters. And the irony in this scenario is that these very people can be seen lazing away at weekends instead of pursuing their passions. I have some cousins like this. One such guy is a guitarist who thinks that his parent’s ambitions (engineering college and a job) have nipped his talents in the bud. When I ask him if he practices and pursues his passion during weekend, he says that he does not. If he really was a budding musician, it was in the head. I know several passionate musicians and sportsmen. All of them have jobs and pursue their passion during weekend and on holidays.

I am not suggesting that most of these people flounder due to this tendency. They do stick onto their jobs, but hate it passionately for some time. And a terrible amount of time is wasted in angst. Some of these people do pursue their passions and return beleaguered to their professions older and wiser. I have to admire them for trying though they waste precious amount of time away from work and have to start at the bottom. These past two years I have spent considerable amount of time drilling sense into some of these people in the family. And succeeded too. But the energy I spent was exhausting.

I wish teachers and parents who exhort their kids to be like larger than life heroes and heroines put some reality checks in their exhortations as there are quite a few young impressionable minds that take these stories to heart and to adulthood and often end up comparing themselves to these legends and falling short in their own eyes.

Ramesh Menon is a New Delhi-based journalist and documentary filmmaker. He received the 2006 Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism for an article in India Together in which he reported on pesticide poisoning in Punjab. Here’s what he has to say about Kerala’s Development Paradox. Link courtesy a reader of this blog.

p.s do check out a report on the quite extinction of an endangered species in Kerala.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Musings of an obscure blogger...

There is something about personal blogging that I have learned in my three and half years of blogging. If you are a likeable person, people will like your blog too as your blog reflects your personality and your thoughts.

You have to strike a chord with the reader. And this happens naturally. No power or widget on earth can do that for you. Some of you may connect while some will not, no matter how hard you try. And this is the secret of the popularity of certain personal bloggers like Sidin and Great Bong. It all boils down to the blogger. I can say with a certain guarantee that there is nothing anyone can do to get readers, except perhaps letting people know that you blog by a comment or joining a directory like Kerala Blogroll or Blogstreet.

Good writing skills also matter I agree. But I know so many good writers who don’t get readers. Therefore I conclude that good writing skills, your personality and your outlook towards life in general is what makes a blog tick while others go phut!

Blog for yourself and leave the rest to God and readers.

So why am I writing this? Because I get several mails asking me tips to popularize a blog. And I have always written back that blogs are like movies or books. It is left to the readers to decide whether he likes your content. I also get comments like, "you suck and your readers too as they read such crap" And I feel only pity for those frustrated souls. I wish life was this easy! Wish we had widgets and gadgets and applications to make people like us. But life is not that easy is it?

Have you noticed that only blogs with a good amount of readers get virulent tripe while the same content at a lesser known blog would be ignored? I don’t think those people who post angry comments themselves realize this. But if they looked deep down and analyzed why they dislike a particular blogger, they will realize that it is because of his/her readership. I know that many of those people have not analyzed this or realized this. And those who have realized this have quietly integrated into this large, friendly and tolerant community.

I wish bloggers who go crazy for readers and those who hate people whose blogs have readers realize this. A lot of rancor in blogosphere, sorry not a lot of rancor, but some people with such rancor would sleep in peace in the night if they reconcile with this.

And I wish such people peace of mind! Hakuna Matata!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The damning note!

First of all let me say that my heartfelt sympathies are with this family.

Secondly I have to say that I am getting more and more concerned with suicide notes! There is an increasing trend to blame someone for suicide and invariably that person get arrested without even an investigation. If newspapers are to be believed, a death note or statement before death is infallible (not verified if true). This makes anyone vulnerable to people with chronic depression who may kill themselves under the mistaken assumption that someone was the reason for their depression.

Why I am expressing concern is because of two incidents that happened with people I know. First was my senior in college who has a small design studio. When she sacked one of her employees, he attempted suicide leaving a note blaming her. Luckily he survived and it did not become a police case as his parents never saw the suicide note. And bribing the hospital staff ensured that the case was admitted as accidental poisoning. I will never forget the trauma my friend went through. All she did was fire him because of complaints from female staff of inappropriate behavior and two warnings that he failed to heed. If the suicide note was discovered then she would be in jail now charged with abetting the suicide. I am told there are thousands of people in jail for the same.

The other instance happened with my best friend. There was this boy from an uptown college who used to hang around our college gates and follow her around while we girls went shopping or to eat. Our first method of getting such people off our backs is ignoring them. We ignored him for some time as he kept his distance. But he kept hanging around college and following her around. Fed up she told my brother and he confronted him and warned him to stay away. This guy also made a weak attempt at suicide blaming my brother as the reason! Luckily his parents were reasonable people and understood the situation. But the situation scared me and I am forever wary of guys now. And I am not alone. Amongst my college mates there are instances of girls who have married guys under threat of suicide notes!!! And many have had the experience that my friend have had.

I remember a cartoon that came as a forward in which a girl is shown trying to stop a car. A bubble above her head reads: “Stop or I cry rape!!” Apparently this cartoon came out after Rape laws were modified and made more stringent. The suicides situation is similar now. Many people do not do this on purpose. Suicide is I guess a result of depression. But how many depressed people can analyze this. They naturally blame the last incident that pushed them over the edge. And the last incident could be a romantic interest who didn’t return your affection, or her family or an employer who gave you the pink slip.

It is high time we modified our laws so that such suicide notes and last statements are investigated. Or as is the case in Karnataka, many people will be rotting in jail due to an outdated law* that states that a depressed person’s last word is literally the last word in the case.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Little acts of kindness

Yesterday I was waiting at the end of the small road in our colony. The road leads to the main road and one has to wait a long time to cross the main road due to the packed traffic during peak hours. And then I saw a blue Santro slowing down and the driver signaled to me to cross the road. Absolutely taken aback at his gesture I drove into the main road and crossed it, stopped the bike and waved a thanks to the guy. He waved back and drove off. I was so touched with this gesture that I could only stare stupidly at his receding back!

Last week I was crossing the road in front of my house and I saw a car coming in full speed down the road. I stopped ready to turn back but the moment the car driver saw me, he slowed down, stopped and gestured to me to cross. I said a thank you and crossed the road. He drove off but he left a very grateful girl on the road.

This has happened to me several times while crossing the road on foot or on bike. People have actually stopped and given way knowing that I am waiting for a pause in the traffic to cross the road. Some have even held up traffic for pedestrians like me. And none of them tried to act fresh or over friendly. They just did their small act of kindness and moved on. I remember every single incident because it made a big impression on me. Random acts of kindness from random strangers.

Many a times I am surprised by guys holding the door open for me. People who feel that they should hold the door for a lady unlike the twits who bang the door on your face.

What makes these people so different from others? Why do some guys try to mow you down or speed up when they see you crossing the road while others slow down to help you along?

When you are so used to an insensitive and callous world, such random acts of kindness leaves lasting impressions on you! Today as I drove to office I saw an old lady trying to cross the road. I stopped the car and she smiled gratefully and crossed the road. I thought nothing of it. Then it occurred to me with a bang that I had done the same thing that others had done for me. I guess it was because I realized the difficulty of crossing a road during peak hour traffic. Perhaps it is realization of others predicaments that makes people help them, because they themselves have been in the same situation.

I hate doors being left to swing on my face. So I make sure I hold the door till it closes. It is when you put yourself in other peoples shoes that you appreciate their position. And these Samaritans who helped me cross the road or held the door open for me were such people. What makes them sensitive and the rest insensitive? Have you observed your maid servant? If she is taking home some food and finds another maid going home without food, she will give her some of hers. That’s because she has experienced days when she did not get left overs and maybe had to do with a bun or a banana.

Being kind to a fellow stranger requires great sensitivity I guess. Or maybe just observational powers and motivation. I have never understood why some people can understand other peoples predicament having been in their shoes once, while others completely miss it.

Sikh stand-up comedy anyone? Click here, here and here! Quite good! And do check out Vijai Nathan too. Links courtesy "long time reader"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A worrying issue and a disturbing trend...

I never thought that I would ever write a post like this...ever. I feel bad about writing this, but then blogs are your vent right? So I will vent about something that has been bothering me for some time now.

When I started blogging in 2005 there were very few bloggers. Most of us minded our business and did what bloggers normally do, and that is use our blogs to write about our little problems, poke fun at managers and just about anything that we needed to speak out about. Comments were rare and none of us were bothered about comments. The comments you see at my earliest posts are recent comments. Then came 2006 and everybody and their neighbors were blogging. Some new bloggers attracted by popular blogs entered blogging to make it big. They missed the point that their blogs was not for others but for them. And the aspiring writers amongst them did not realize that, typing a few words in a blog template does not make you a writer. Popular is what popular decides. The word popular is derived from the word “people”. Period!

Amidst the sea of bloggers is an ocean of non bloggers. They read what they like. They have a mind of their own. And aspiring writers had better be aware of this. So my advice to aspiring bloggers and newbies is chill and use your space for speaking out if it helps you, like it does to me. There is nothing you can do to attract readers. They will come if your writing appeals to them!

However more than writing, there is something more important. And that is respect for fellow bloggers and an understanding of blogs. Blogs are perhaps the only space where you can shed your hypocritical social and political correctness and BE YOURSELF. None of us are perfect. We all our pet peeves, biases, prejudices, viewpoints etc. and blogs are an excellent vent for these. Moreover you connect with people going through similar experiences and get to either give or get advice or support whatever the case may be.

Now I have had more then anyone’s share of anonymous comments. Some good, most stupid. But they were anonymous and frankly a comment without an identity doesn’t matter and I have shrugged it off. There were some instances when people took pot shot at my comments at other blogs, but again in very agreeable language. But off late I am noticing many bloggers, specially (a) newbies (b) once dormant and now active (c) dormant and only commenting kind of bloggers taking on the mantle of policing the blogosphere, chiding bloggers for airing their viewpoints, attacking commenter’s virulently for their viewpoints and going around telling bloggers how good bad or downright stupid the quality of their writing is!

These are vermin’s of blogosphere and are a danger to a community that has coexisted peacefully even though they express very personal views in their blogs. The very nature of blogs requires complete respect for a bloggers blog and his right to expressing his/her views or the purpose of blogging is defeated. If you do not like a post, ignore it. If you want to disagree, do it in an agreeable way. If you think a writer is dissing India and you don’t agree, you can always say that you respect his/her views and that you had better experiences! There is no need to get personal and judge the blog and commenters as negative or complaining or anything else! Or you could blog about your optimism for India in your own blog! That is what it is about…to voice “your” views!!! (Please note India is used as an example only) Stop trying to change the bloggers mind!!

And for the critics of bloggers writing skills or English or topics I have only this to say. Just because we express ourselves in the English alphabet and “write” our viewpoints instead of saying it, doesn’t mean that we think of ourselves as Shakespeare’s or Arundhati Roys. So stop going around dissing bloggers writing skills. Would you tell a blogger bemoaning a loss in his blog that his English is pathetic and he should just shut up? Hope you get the point here.

This culture of intolerance is worrying me. I can hold my own against it. But there are many who can’t. Unlike these morons I cannot go around telling these people to ignore the morons and carry on blogging. So I am writing this post, hoping that at least one person on the verge of closing his/her blog because of the above mentioned people, will read and retract their decision.

Ever wondered whats with Chennai auto drivers? The answer is right here!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The murky depths of injured egos

I 'had' a lot of respect for Markha Butt. A respected TV Journalists with a fan following that rivaled that of some film stars. But it’s been a long time since a Kargil or an Earthquake. Photo ops are getting rarer and the lady is getting older. For someone who made a name as a field journalist, reporting news from dangerous terrains and conditions, the newsroom doesn't give her the mileage that a bunker on the border did in the past. The lady is getting fat and past glories are getting dimmer. The pleasant smile is a little tight and the lady showed a short fuse when a blogger reportedly wrote about her personal life. The result? A stung Markha decided to take the blogging community head on. Her program titled “Should blogs be regulated?” was perhaps the stupidest programs she made in her life. The program exposed her intent and quite surprisingly, the people she had handpicked to appear on the program, debunked her hysteria leaving her looking like a fool. Watch the program and see how see hops from expert to expert for support, only to be left bereft and exposed as a hysterical woman in need of a strong tranquilizer.

The forced smile and condescending laughter and nervous movements were too tale telling. This was a vendetta program! And for a vendetta program, she played her cards all wrong. Right from the experts she picked, who turned out to be very mature and level headed and well informed, to her constant and persistent attempt to elicit some kind of damning comment on bloggers left her agenda exposed! What a come down for a reporter of her repute!!

As an experienced journalist she should have waited to cool down before she launched her tirade against bloggers. Acting on the spur of the moment has its consequences. And I don’t need to spell it out. We have all learned these lessons during our teen years. Impulsiveness is best left out of the camera eye unless you are planning on committing a national faux pas. I guess her record and standing as a reputed journalist must have prevented the program from scrutiny before airing. Because no news channel worth the mention would allow such a program to go on air! I am surprised the blogging community missed this. Or perhaps that’s what they think of Markha Dutt, as an also ran not worth bothering about.

As a public persona, Markha has to get used to the public having their opinions about her. She has to get used to being written, discussed, dissed or praised. After all film stars go through it every single minute of the day. You don’t see them asking for regulation of film magazines do you!! And suggesting regulation on a medium for something as harmless a gossip, shows that the lady has been stung badly. What is pathetic is that she gave credibility to the rumors with her back lash! Sad!

But then programs like these can have repercussions in the future. The government that is trigger friendly when it comes to shooting down liberties that anyone with a couple of slogan shouting demonstrators ask for, can turn the clamps on bloggers and then many bloggers will have to shut shop, because everything and everything we write will be hauled to the courts, when threats disguised as comments don’t work!

Full video is here!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Kerala Talkies

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi. A very happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all who celebrate. The evening was replete with devotional film songs wafting in from the various small temples around my place. The songs were not too loud and strangely, makes me nostalgic. I have heard them a hundred times before. It is the same old Tamil film songs, played on special occasions, which is about 100 in a given year, melodious and soothing.

The songs remind me of my village in Kerala. My childhood holidays in Kerala are memories with the background score of songs coming over loudspeakers through the dense rubber and coconut tree growth to our house. The songs signaled a “Talkie” or a village movie theater, which is the hub of activity in the evening in an agrarian community like ours. I never saw the Talkie. I had only heard about it. Sometimes I tried to go to the terrace to see it. But all I saw was a thick carpet of coconut canopies. Sometimes a smoke spiral signaled human habitation, a kallu shaap perhaps, but I never saw the talkie. Families like ours were not supposed to go to the talkies, even if the movies were good. As a kid I never understood this unwritten rule of an agrarian community.

Every week the posters at the small shops in the village changed. Many of them had an “A” written on them. I wondered what the "A" meant. The posters were usually white with outlines of women in what looked like towel wrapped around them. However many of the posters were of old Malayalam movies or flop films of superstars. A small theater I guess could not afford anything else. Whatever the movie, come evening the workers would excitedly gather around the well to wash and discuss going to the movies. I envied them and often asked my grandma and uncles and aunts why we couldn’t also go to the talkies. My grandma would snort and call out “Leelamme, look what your daughter wants to do”. My dad’s mother on the other hand, would chuckle and say that the movie theater was for very poor people and you had to sit on the mud floor and watch. She would then distract me with something. Both grandmas were poles apart as the families.

The talkies fascinated me. The music reverberating from them was soothing in the misty evening air. It could be heard when we were frolicking in the thodu too. And its invisibility gave it its aura of mystery. I imagined it be a Church fair kind of setting. From the kids of the ladies who worked in the house, I gathered that it was a fun place. From them I heard that watching “family” movies in a talkie was fun. Most of the people knew each other and the camaraderie made the movie more enjoyable. After the movies, sometimes the ladies too joined the men for some kallu. Moments of great contentment and satisfaction in the lives of these simple people.

I wish I could go to a talkie and watch a good movie, the kind women went to. It is still a mystery place for me. Maybe I will come back with all the myths in my head busted. Maybe not. But I know for a fact that it was a happy place for many people in the past and even today.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The subtle art of time management

There is a small group of people found in every office that I admire. These are not your super achievers or diligent workers but people who have nothing to do but know how to look busy without anyone suspecting a thing. They spend their weekdays doing more or less nothing but convince everyone that they are putting as much effort and doing as many tasks as others. Even their Managers think they are doing hell of a lot and think twice before giving them “more” tasks to do. Sometimes I wonder how that happens as I for instance know what every billable minute my subordinates are doing.

My department consisting of product managers, has one marketing and communications manager (yours truly) and one training manager ( RP). Now RP sits in Delhi and has two people under her here in Bangalore. Both the girls sit next to me and I see them while away their time, talking on the phone (VOIP) and putting in barely an hour of work every day. My team consisting of three people is almost always totally working with their nose to the grindstone so that we can go home at 6pm, the mandatory requirement in our office. Weekend work is also not permitted. So we “actually” work every single second of the eight working hours in a day.

It can be argued that we have much more work doing various marketing activities for the eight product managers, while RP has to only schedule and coordinate the training activities with the training vendors. But then both the girls are champions in appearing busy. I noticed something about them that makes me admire them even more. Both have a lot of time in their hands. Hence both have scheduled the few tasks they have, to fit the working hours in a day. They then go about it leisurely, taking in a break here and there to fill in the gaps.

For example M, one of the gals was told to give the complete details of the August 2008 trainings she was in charge of. Since the training is done by training vendors like Aptech and NIIT, all she had to do was ask them for their Excels, put them in a master Excel and send them across. She took a weeks time from her Manager to do what could be done in an hour, citing various factors that require time like calling up vendors, following up with them for the latest training lists etc etc. Thus she made heavy duty of a simple task and won herself one whole week of legitimate time that she showed as productive time. Bravo!!!

Now I am beginning to notice other people in this category too. All of them know how to spread their meager work across the eight work hours and thus look like they are working every single minute like the others. What the Managers don’t notice is that the amount of work that is put in. They calculate finished tasks!!

Hats off to all you people who manage to pull this off. You save endless acrimony for no fault of yours. Everyone cannot have the same work load. But people resent those with less work getting the same amount of pay. People like M with their “time management” skills tend to remove this area of friction by their tactics. This actually makes for fewer tensions at the work place!!

But there is a flip side to this too. It was with amusement that I read the mail sent to me by RP asking if someone from my team could lend a helping hand to one of her girls. According to RP, her girls were “very busy”. The mail was cc’ed to the Boss. I replied to the mail with an Excel sheet which showed minute by minute the various tasks my team mates were doing...just to show that I couldn’t spare anyone. RP was shaken when Boss followed up that reply with a demand for the same kind of details from RP. A week later she submitted her Excel Sheet and I read with growing admiration as she put the measly tasks that her teams had to do as a war exercise. Here is an example:

M – Work Schedule for this week
Complete Training Schedule of August 2008 for IT and Developers
Work Started Aug 25th. Task completed Aug 29th.
Details: Coordinating with Vendors for lists, Follow ups, Clarifications, Correcting errors, Matching names, emails, phone number etc, Instructor bios etc etc etc…

Boss replied curtly that she would have to manage her team mates work within the resources allocated her and that’s all he could do. RP heaved a sigh of relief. She learned a lesson not to open a can of worms she cannot handle, and I thanked my stars that I wouldn’t have to contend with my people grumbling about RP’s people having less work. We all went back to our routines and peace was back in our lives. I think a lot of us have to learn that work is not all about completing tasks admirably and adding to the profits of your company. It is also about accepting certain indigestible differences at work place and swallowing it for the greater good of our sanity!

Have a nice week folks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shackles of another kind!

Our maid, Lakshmi was screaming at someone on the road. I peeped over the compound wall to see what the commotion was all about. On the road stood Lakshmi, arms akimbo looking at a very frightened girl called Maya. Maya works as a stay in maid in my neighbor’s house. Lakshmi had apparently caught Maya and her boy friend smooching at the dead end of the road. “Do you know you can get AIDS?” hissed Lakshmi. Maya looked scared. Apparently she knew of the malady. “And then” continued Lakshmi hissing “you will die a slow and painful death” Maya looked absolutely horrified and scared.

Lakshmi had cause for concern. She was a mother of a teenage daughter and a son. She met her husband when she worked as a stay in maid herself. She was pregnant by the time she was 16 and was kicked out of the job soon after. Her parents married her off to the father of the baby and since then she has been toiling as he is a drunkard. This story repeats itself even today. Most young maids in our colony have boy friends, who are unemployed boys, looking for a sound financial investment for their future in these girls. Almost all the girls I know in this category have got pregnant and were married off to the father of the baby. It is not even looked upon as shameful, but as natural. Then the dashing guy, armed with her salary starts drinking and these girls join the multitude of women living with alcoholic husbands struggling to make ends meet.

Maya looked at Lakshmi helplessly. She was clearly not equipped to make any decision here. Lakshmi continued in a milder tone “at least insist that he wears protection” she advised. Maya looked at her bemused and blurted out “then how will we have children?” Lakshmi slapped her forehead in irritation. “Ayyo!” she exclaimed. "Before you get married, get him tested” she exclaimed. Maya thought for a moment, nodded her head and walked off with the groceries she was sent to procure.

I was maha impressed by the whole incident and narrated the same to my mom. Mom immediately called Lakshmi inside for a tete a tete. From Lakshmi we learnt about the huge misconceptions that exist amongst slum dwellers about AIDs. It is considered a deadly disease, but no one knows how to prevent it. Protection is expensive and men are not willing to spend precious money on the same. Wives who do not cooperate are beaten or abandoned. Like alcoholic husbands and abuse, they take AIDs as fate. If the women want protection, then they have to buy it themselves. The husbands are pretty clear that they are not “wasting” their money on the same. And many women know that, they had better protect themselves as there will be no one to look after their kids if something happens to them. The husbands will merely marry another willing victim.

Lakshmi abandoned her husband a long time ago, when my mom advised her to. She never regretted the decision, as a huge financial liability was lifted off her shoulders with his departure. She was able to put her kids through school and was forever free of beatings and abuse. My mom on the other hand was free of the frequent hospital trip to repair her after the brutal beatings. Today she acts as a one woman NGO, advising girls of the dangers of AIDs and the importance of protection. I do not know how successful she is, as gullible young girls are not wont to listen to preaching’s when they are flattered by the attention of their men. But Lakshmi tries. She says the girls are smartening up with television becoming affordable and the resultant information flow to the slums.

Listening to Lakshmi, you are made aware of the age old traditions and beliefs that cripples able bodied women into helpless slaves. Just changing laws is not going to break the shackles religion has placed on the society. Because as long as these women are bought up on mythical stories of women who sacrificed their lives for their husbands, they will worship their men as Gods! Religious leaders, have to play an active part in cleaning the misconceptions instead of harping on “our culture and traditions being decimated by Valentines Day celebrations!”

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Quote Tag

I have been tagged by a notorious assassin and serial killer who I suspect, likes to live life in the danger lane!! Read his blog at your own risk. You may be thrown out of office for laughing hysterically at some of his victims!

The tag is called “The Quote Tag.” Now, tagging me with a Quote tag is like asking a mongaan irunna naayi about his problems....I love quotes!! And asking me to quote "only" 5 is like telling Paris Hilton to live on a budget!! This is the Height of Frustration for me!! So this might be the most difficult tag I will ever do!

( Mr Thomas Sebastian, count me in among the numerous people plotting revenge against you. I am right now making a tag exclusively wonly for you called “The Five Crushes Tag". I am already smiling in sadistic delight at the thought of you tearing your hair out in frustration because you can only jot down 5 crushes tee hee)

The Tag

Jot down 5 (arrghh) of your favorite quotes from the various books you’ve read. If you don’t have the books with you now, Googling (Wikiquotes and the like) can be used to find them. Tag five people and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

1. “For two people in a marriage to live together day after day is unquestionably the one miracle the Vatican has overlooked.”

-- Bill Cosby

Now, I am neither married nor cynical of the same, but this just cracks me up!!!

2. “Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace."

-- Oscar Wilde

Please don't think I am a pessimist folks...I am an optimist as you can see by this quote.

3. "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

-- Teilhard de Chardin

4. Toohey: “Mr. Roark, we're alone here. Why don't you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us.”
Roark: “But I don't think of you.”

-- The Fountainhead

I love this quote because this is exactly what I would say to the numerous relatives who disapproved of my Dad's liberal way of bringing me up. "Do you know what they are talking about you?" they would ask. To which I replied “Why would I want to know what they are talking about me!!" genuinely puzzled. And this is what kept me blogging all these years. Most people do not know about the numerous Anon comments and mails I get saying "Are you aware of the consequence of what you have written!!' To which I always replied 'Why should I be!" Period.

5. "Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile."

-Franklin P. Jones

Here's wishing that all of us find the love that will make this ride worthwhile!

This is a simple tag, that I complicated with my rambling :p So the people I tag need not do the same. All you need to do is write down your favorite quotes. :)

I hereby tag the following with the “The Quote Tag”-

Listening to this melodious song. Have a great weekend folks!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The un-encashed freedom cheque!

Yet another Independence Day approaches. We had a colorful celebration in the office today with competitions like, 'My Pod’ which is a euphemism for 'most distastefully decorated cubicle". People showed how (un)creative they were by decorating their work stations with trillions of tricolor Indian flags in varying degrees of slants, from 10 degree to some really acute and obtuse angled slants, while some hung it upside down.

By evening I was ready to puke at the sight of the tricolor. It was everywhere!! Some people had used their genius creativity to make designs of the flags. They looked like tricolor mosaics and people were heard asking “What is that? Oh! That’s a circle made of flags yeah? How umm nice."

Just when I was fighting the tricolor overdose induced nausea, came the round of sweets. And you guessed it right, it was tricolor. Sigh.

Some people decided to go off the beaten path! I heaved sigh of relief!! They bought tricolor streamers!! *barf* Yet another group too decided to do something different, They bought tricolor brooches. By afternoon, the facilities team, not to be outdone, lovingly plonked a tricolor flag on every table. And lest we complaint of damp Independence Day spirit in the office, they topped it up with garlands made of Marigold on the workstation walls!

I suddenly felt pity for the British. So this was the reason they ran away!!! So much tricolor would have been a deadly assault on the sensitive British senses. And they used vegetable dyes in those days!!

Lunch was interesting. Tricolor pulao, and tricolor Koftas and everything else had a generous helping of white or orange and green in it. Dessert was tricolor cham cham! I was gagging! The assault of the tricolor was suffocating. And there were Nehrus and Tilaks and Rajendra Prasads walking around, talking of sales figures and year end targets. Very unnerving I tell you!

And the wont believe this…were dressed in white salwars and tricolor dupattas!! Yours truly stuck to a white salwar kurtha and white dupatta ( HR orders to wear ‘ethnic’). Someone lovingly stuck a tricolor bindi on my forehead and my tricolor misery was complete!

Outlook Express was a tricolor churning machine for the day. Every other mail came with images of Gandhi, Baby, Dove, Landscape and Sunflowers painted over with…you guessed right, the tricolor!!! The tricolor sunflower looked like that awful Wipro logo that I am sure Premji was made to adopt under gunpoint! Of course the e-cards had "Happy Independence Day" written all over in tricolor wedding fonts. Is there any limit to creativity? It was overstretched err overflowing in my office today.

Is this what Independence Day is all about I wondered. Then how different is it from Valentines and New Years!

There was a speech from a big boss that I knew by heart and when he paused to answer his phone, I caught myself lip syncing the words.

We must do our bit for the country blah blah. We must be responsible blah blah. Blah duties too and blah like patriotic blah, we must blah and we should blah blah. Then we can blah blah, so that we can progress blah blah into a SUPERPOWER!!”

*applause from khadi clad junta*

I silently thanked the gods that I was lip syncing the speech, or the bhaashan would have continued in a feminine voice while he attended a phone call.

Felt very frustrated by the end of the day. I took the plastic box of tricolor sweets tied with tricolor ribbons and pushed it into my bag. Somehow, I could not appreciate the enthusiasm of the decorators. I wish that enthusiasm was channeled elsewhere, like on the streets where the real India lives. Talk is cheap I know, but I wish the stupid Human Resources had taken us for a day's CSR at some orphanage or village school. At least for a day, I would have felt I did something relevant. I badly want to feel that I have done something. Right now I feel like an empty headed fool with my tricolor bindi and tricolor flag stuck with a pin on my salwar.

Hope this post doesn’t read like a bhaashan. But I am feeling damn frustrated right now to see Independence Day reduced to another commercial celebration like Valentines Day! When will we become a nation of doers and not just tricolor streamers err I mean dreamers?

( I am off to Kerala for the long weekend. Reply to comments will hence be delayed. Have a rocking weekend folks!!)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bush fire!

The good news:

Sen. McCain's bus crashes in Miami!

The bad news:

Sen. McCain was not traveling in the bus when the accident occurred.

God save America...err the world!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The final innings

Sunday was yet another wedding in the family in Bangalore. Hordes of relations had come down from Kerala. Some had come earlier, mostly the older folks so that they could visit the older folks living here. As I dutifully drove one such set of older people from one house to another, I was stuck by something. The older folks were a changed lot from their much younger version that I had seen when I was a kid. The years had smoothed away the rough edges, leaving beautiful people, devoid of jealousy, rancor and other human weaknesses that keep people apart. And replacing that was genuine happiness in meeting people, genuine happiness in their happiness, genuine concern at their well being and genuine happiness at their successes.

There was a lot of peace and calm in the car and it seemed to radiate to me. Another thing that stuck me about this generation was an obvious yet unnoticed facet of their life. They were all islands of two, with siblings around their age, similar islands stuck in a time warp that would have begun the day they got married. These were couples who had left their home and hearth as young men and women and come together to raise a family and then bid goodbye to their kids as they set off to seek their fortunes in the corporate world. Yet they were due to some societal compulsions, still living like a couple even though they could now afford to give time to people they could not earlier due to family and work commitments! And since all the older folks are in the same dilemma, it leads of a lot of islands living in avoidable loneliness and emptiness.

This post is not about, older folks being left alone, so please hold comments on the same! This post is about making a conscious change in older couples lifestyles after they have finished their parental and family duties. This post is about reconnecting with people you left behind or parted with, when you stepped out into the world.

I am not saying that couples should split and go back to their parental family members. But after we fly the coup, we should liberate our parents too, instead of keeping them locked up as guardians of the family property and thus condemning them to live as islands! It is surprising to see the number of lonely old couples in one extended family itself! If they could connect, their loneliness would be over for good and the company of people their age, will act like a friends circle, giving them a social life as well! Right now their only reprieve from loneliness is weddings and other family functions

And if it happens, wouldn’t old age be a looked forward to event? It would, for me. The very thought of spending time with my parental family members in my old age is a very warm and happy feeling indeed!

While I was discussing this with my mom the other day, she told me of a couple who were kept apart from their family as their kids feared that the family may brain wash them into parting with their property! The couple now live alone in Mumbai instead of their ancestral tharavadu like some of their retired siblings, exiled because of a Mumbai apartment, wasting precious years of what’s left of their lives away from their families. Such a sad situation! What a waste of time…and life. It’s high time we loosened the “family” grip from older people so that they can have a life of their own.

Getting back to the the end of each visit, I watched the older folks, take leave of their siblings, tears in their eyes, making resolves to visit more often and eking out promises to call more often. And I felt bad that they have to say goodbye at all. If only they knew they had a choice! *sigh*

p.s it is obvious I guess, I love ze olde folks to bits! Just being with them is like living in a nicer world.

Dedicating this song to all those people, who are still young at heart!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Johnny Walkers!

A week ago, on July 11th to be precise, a piece of forbidden meat was found in a mosque in Bangalore. There was panic as news spread. Everyone expected the injured community to retaliate. But nothing of that sort happened. People have long realized the futility of reacting to incidents instigated on purpose leading to misery to the common man, inflicted by the common man.

Some months ago, bombs ripped through Hyderabad destroying a mosque and killing several people. If the terrorists expected a communal riot, they would have been disappointed.

The Mumbai blasts the terrorists thought would bring Mumbai to a stand still. But this is India babua…we cannot afford to be afraid. And even if we are, we cannot afford to stop and quake in fear. Life goes on for us. Those who stop will get left behind. Fear is a precious commodity for us.

Therefore your bombs and grenades will not stop us. It is not because we are a brave people. But because we are survivors. And survivors have long back realized that walking away from adversities is the best way to put a distance between it and us.

The recent Bangalore blasts were nothing but saber rattling. A desperate attempt to show that they are not beaten. But the fact is that you are. What do you do a nation that doesn’t stop! What can you do to a nation that keeps walking?

Your bombs will kill a few of us, injure as many. But the survivors will walk on. We have no one except us to look after us. So we cannot afford to stop and cry. We have ourselves to look after and that is a big job.

I hope the neighboring country that fosters their energies to destroy us and their masters who keep fuelling their armory making a deadly cocktail of virulent religious fundamentalism served by the Big Brother himself, realize that they are trying to scare a people that cannot afford to be scared. Short of complete annihilation, nothing will stop us from picking up the pieces if our lives and keep moving on.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Rose, my cousin sister was still single. She is my mom's niece in a sort of way, though in a pretty convoluted way! Her Dad is a proud man. He doesn’t like to mix with us as he feels we are high brow or the more apt term would be “show offs.” Our fault…is that we have cars, which according to him is extravagance and that we have parties, which according to him is moral degradation and many other perceived or non perceived faults. He is the typical PLG.

But he is family and hence we cannot cut off ties with his kids because of him. When we drop in to their home, their attitude is one of restraint. Gifts to the kids are ignored and not acknowledged as though it was unnecessary and after polite talk, we take leave of the excruciating atmosphere. The kids watch us go with sadness. Victims of family insecurities.

With the parents botching up one proposal after another due to their stupid pride, Rose seemed doomed to remain unmarried at 29. This is when my mom decided to step in like she did countless times before. And when my mom decides to step in, it means her slave laborer i.e yours truly is the person who actually does all the menial work.

So I made the Kerala Matrimony account, scanned prospective grooms and passed on the scanned and filtered proposals to Rose’s brother via email. Every single proposal was found faulty and the attitude of the parents was that we were trying to send their daughter off with some loser.

Ignoring them,, my mom persisted err told me to persist. It was kinda fun reading the proposals and the atrocious English and me and pals had some fun times giggling when mom was not looking. At work too, the Kerala Matrimony log in was our ticket to much merriment and laughter!

Sometime back we got the good news that Rose was finally getting engaged! The boy, her cousin brother informed my mom, was from Changanassery and they found him via a newspaper ad. When the details of the boy arrived, I was amused to see that it was one of the prospects that we had got through Kerala Matrimony. Anyways, we didn’t want to spoil the parent’s party by making them acknowledge that it was my mom and her slave driving that got them a groom.

Rose gets engaged today in Pala. I am very happy for Rose. The wedding is in Changanassery, the groom’s place, as per our customs. We are not invited. They did send word through Rose’s mom’s sister. But protocol demands that the parents call us and invite us. So we gave it the miss as it is obvious they want it so. If you think, we are sobbing like ladies in Hindi movies, then you are mistaken. We are too busy doing high fives. Besides we are used to such attitudes from Rose's parents!

And as my Dad tartly observed as he handed me a beer today, “Poor Lonai (Rose’s dad). Caught between the devil ( my mom) and the deep sea ( me). At least he should have acknowledged it. Now If something goes wrong, he cannot blame the devil or the deep sea” (This was said in Malayalam and I may have missed the essence while translating! :p )

And so we toasted to Rose and Jose’s good health. Wishing them both the very best life has to offer. Happy times, strength to get the bad times and lots of happy events to tide over the bad. God bless!

p.s I had to regretfully err under gun point close the Kerala Matrimony account. It was an out and out entertainment channel for us, with more variety in programmes than all our mallu TV channels put together! :p

Monday, July 21, 2008

Breather Tag

Blogging has been on the back burner for quite some time now. I don't see the situation improving immediately. So I thought I will do a tag that I have done in parts in earlier tags, just to put something up here. Apologies for not replying to comments, and being tardy when I do and for neglecting this space off late. I promise things will get better as soon as Boss goes on leave :p Kidding, things will get better when I learn to stop taking my work so seriously. Boss has threatened me with a re-prioritizing therapy session if I don't. Failing which he is sending me on a vacation *sob*

This tag is courtesy Mathew.

8 things I am passionate about:

* Never judging people on usual norms
* Finding a reason for everything
* Freedom of expression
* Freedom of speech
* Music
* Googling
* Family
* Relationships

8 things I want to do before I die:

* Sky dive!
* Write a book!
* Travel around the world!
* Watch a show on Broadway!
* Somehow draw the Indian electorate out of its apathy!
* Do something for the environment!
* Say "Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation. Read the offer documents carefully before investing" in 5 seconds like that guy in the insurance ads.

8 things I say often:

* Oh my god!!
* You are kidding right!
* Bitch (friends only)
* Momsy! (drives my mom up the wall)
* Daddykins ( He just loves it. Reserved for special occasions like when I want something expensive)
* Retard!!! ( usual form of addressing second bro)
* Baby dolly, chweety pie, lambikins!!! (my doggies)
* Ente karthave!! ( an imitation of mom that has stuck)

8 books I last read

I have already listed some here, plus 'From the Holy Mountain'

8 songs I could listen to over and over again:

I am listing some songs I have never mentioned at this blog before.

* Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
* Amazing Grace by Nana Mouskouri
* Song sung blue - Neil Diamond
* Guantanamera ( any version of this song) and Volare
* Pathra bareyala illa chitra bidisala - Aramane
* (I Just) Died in your Arms tonight - Cutting Crew

and many many many more....

8 people I think should do this tag

  1. Mr V S Achuthanandan
  2. Prakash Karat
  3. Sitaram Yechuri
  4. Mayawati
  5. Deve Gowda
  6. L K Advani
...and all those opposing the nuclear deal. Take a chill pill your retrograde, catabolic, atrophying, backward, backstabbing, double faced, Lilly livered, spineless, infantile, decaying and rotting myopic degenerates!!!!

*whew* That felt good...getting it off my chest!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stooping low to reach for the stars!?

Obsequiousness, foot scraping, meekness, extreme humility...I can go on, the Thesaurus in MS Word is pretty exhaustive when it comes to offering you Synonyms for extreme acts of self effacement's. Now if you are wondering what I am talking about….I am pointing out to a particular trait among TV Show contestants, especially those participating in music contests. The above traits of extreme humility and self effacement is an almost given among these contestants. In fact sometimes I think the contest is about who can be more humble and ingratiating towards the judges!!! At times judges too behave like it is a necessary talent to have for a contestant. A curt word for someone who was a not up to the mark in humility and lavish praises for the one who stooped the lowest.

We are not living in the gurukul days for god’s sakes. I understand the need to respect someone with more knowledge than you. It is inbuilt in us. But this is taking things a bit too far. I am not talking about touching the feet of a judge. That I a sign of respect in our culture. I am talking of contestants standing stooped with both hands folded, mike in had, when judges are talking. Reminds me of historical movies, where people are shown standing the very same way in front of Kings and Monarchs.

The contestants seem to fear the judges. They seem to lack sufficient confidence in their own talents. It almost looks like they are scared of offending the judges. Which is ridiculous!! And judges too, seem to lap this up. As fair judges of a musical competition, I think they should give more credence to talent and ignore any another aspect of a contestants personality.

But that aint happening too soon. Can you imagine, an extremely talented, but arrogant contestant, getting away on the strength of his/her talent only? I don’t think so. He/She will be cut down to size before she can say ‘Eff off’!!

It is not just TV shows, even in real life, we take this respect a person with grey hair too far!! Even in schools, I remember, if you wanted to get into the good books of teachers, act nice to them. Thankfully most of my teachers were Goans and Anglo Indians. And these people cared a damn about pupils kissing up to them. They admired spunk and girls with confidence. On the other hand, the others…like the mallus specially, believed in cutting down confident girls to bite size pieces. As a society, we give too much importance to humility. In fact it has become a yardstick of sorts to sum up a person.

And when kids who are bought up with such mind set, walk into the corporate world, they are all but shorn of the confidence they need, to make an impact at the workplace. I spend a considerable amount of my energies in mentoring Interns under me to shed their ‘Yes Ma’am No Ma’am' routine. I spend a lot of precious bandwidth in explaining that it is their work that matters to me and not how nice they are to me. They do learn eventually, but a decade of conditioning does leave its imprint in your psyche.

It is time for a change! If we as a nation have to gear up for the brave new world we are marching towards, then we have a lot to change in ourselves as a people, than just dress ourselves with degrees and certificates!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Children of the Earth

I got out of the office cab on the main road and started walking towards home. It was sunny when we left the office. However dark clouds huddled menacingly in the sky now, making it look like a raging black ocean over my head. Soon, big drops of water started spattering the road off the day's dust and grime. Since my Haversack with the laptop has a waterproof cover, I didn't worry too much about the rain. I walked home getting drenched by the minute. That is when I saw them. A lone woman and six children, construction workers at the site, on the way home. The building she was working on was yet to get off the ground. So she had no roof over head. She was also pregnant. From her looks, I placed her to be from Rajasthan. Construction workers in south India, rarely have more then two kids. The children aged from 2 to 7, were huddled together, as the thin plastic that passes off as their roof, was madly flapping in the wind, leaving them at the mercy of the lashing rain. For some reason, her pregnant state made me very angry. There was going to be another kid here soon, huddling with the rest, braving the elements. Children of the Earth.

I walk home with a heavy step. My mother is horrified to see me. She cannot understand why I will not take shelter under a tree or in a shop. I am fed up of telling her that I love to get drenched in the rain now and then. Very soon I am snuggling under the blanket, after a hot meal, Raasnadhi podi liberally applied on my head, reading William Dalrymples “From the Holy Mountain”. I am a sucker for such books.

My mind wanders to the lady and her gaggle of kids. The rain is raging furiously now. I wonder how she will cook with her stove all wet. Finally I get up and decide to take some food for her and her kids. I pack two loaves of bread, some potato curry and some bananas and set off towards the construction site, amidst howls of protest from my mom. She wants me to wait for the rain to abate. But it doesn't look like letting up.

The lady is still there, standing in the rain stoically. I give her the food and tell her in Hindi to give the kids too. There is no expression on her face. She calls out to the kids and they appear, one by one from under the half constructed stairs, looking at me wide eyed. I stand there. I want to see the kids getting the food. She hands out the bread, two slices a piece and some potato curry to each kid. The kids eat mechanically, shivering in the cold. They wipe their hands on the seat of their pants and look at no one in particular. She hands out the bananas. It is also consumed without expression. I decide to leave before my mother calls the Indian Army.

The familiar stab of annoyance resurfaces when I see her swollen belly. I ask her when her baby is due. She says, any day. I ask her why she has so many children. She looks at me puzzled like I have asked her why the sun rises in the East. I tell her to stop having kids after this baby. She looks around for her husband perhaps. Maybe he will answer this girl’s weird questions, her eyes seems to say.

I leave the place resignedly. The rain still rages on. She and the kids are out there. Waiting for it to abate, so that they can go to sleep. Nothing amiss for them. Just another day in the journey called life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The vintage rally called India!

An uncle of mine was telling me an anecdote the other day. He was the Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee, constituted to raise money for a free school for children of Construction laborers in South Bangalore. The land was to be donated by the Church for free occupancy. After getting the required funds, he approached a Malayalee ex minister in Bangalore for help with the required permissions to start the school, after encountering red tapism, demand for bribes and other delays you would encounter if you took the straight and narrow path.

The minister did get him the permissions but asked him for a tidy sum as his commission. Uncle was aghast! The sum asked by the minister was more than half of what he had collected for the school. But the minister was adamant. Finally after many negotiations, he agreed to a more reasonable amount.

I am now working weekends for a Non Profit organization. Before this organization entered India, they were advised to grease palms if they wanted to fulfill their goal of making a difference in the lives of the poor. An American lawyer attached to this organization had this anecdote to tell us the other day! After the organization had identified a cluster of villages to be adopted for their work, they were asked to meet the local MLA. When the group visited him, he told them rather pleasantly that they if hoped to work in the villages under his jurisdiction, they would have to pay him one crore. The lawyer expressed his inability to pay such a huge amount as the organization was a non-profit unit and survived on grants. The MLA without batting an eyelid told the lawyer to shell out the money from his pocket as he was a high profile lawyer in New York!!! The work came to a stand still and they adopted another village were the MLA was “cheaper". The village flourishes, while the other languishes and now has barely any residents left.

All the people I have talked to, specially those working for NGO's and non profit organizations, express their frustration at the ancient walls of outdated rules and regulations erected between them and their beneficiaries that only serves as a loop hole for opportunists like the above two men to make money or stall work. Apparently there are millions of dollars of unspent funds lying in various banks, grants that were released for upliftment of the rural poor that will never reach them due to red tapism and corruption. Most NGO’s and non profit organizations in India function because they have realized that it is no use fighting against the system and grease palms to carry on their work.

Two interviews by central ministers, one on the Jaipur blasts and one on the fertilizer crisis in Karnataka, opened my eyes to another startling fact. Most States don’t even know what their powers are. They blame the centre for everything and then central ministers have to point out as the Home Minster put it so succinctly in an interview “Read the laws” The Rajasthan CM didn’t even know that she could have taken several security measures to prevent such an incident because the State had the power to do so.

The above incident only brings to fore the fact that, elected representatives in the States are not even aware of their constitutional rights as a State of the Indian union. Nor do they make an effort to do so. People get elected, attend the legislative assembly if they don’t get a cabinet berth and if they do, then attend office and dance to the whims and fancies of the bureaucrats and occasionally take some populist measures.

India today is like a vinatge vehicle in a Formula One race! A very old vehicle with outdated parts, some new parts that had to be replaced because they were so worn out, trying to keep up with the world that is using the latest technology in its engines. Unless we clean the accumulate dirt in our engines and change what is outdated, we cannot keep pace with the world.

Plastic can now be decomposed!