Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Floating Thoughts

Floating Balloons


The balloons float in mid-air. Like thoughts awakened, they create a stir. My mind is bubbling with ideas each screaming to be heard, indicating a sense of identity, like size and colour indicate for each balloon. But at the end, identity is secondary. All that is of consequence is visibility. Unless you are noticed, you will not be observed and given a chance to prove yourself. It is the story of the world you and I live in seen in the struggle of each balloon to rise above than the rest. However, the world we live in also gives us a vast canvas, clear and unending, the canvas which is provided by the blue sky in the photograph. We feel liberated. We have a fair chance. It is our own to take. Though an ideal world would have no boundaries, in the real world, there are strings attached. It is not about simply doing our best, but doing our best within the constraints. Only the one who can succeed in seeing a complete picture is a true champion.

PS 1: I submitted this for a competition (photo and write up). The entry won in the ''refreshing'' category.

PS 2: I plan to make this a regular feature on my blog. A picture is worth 250 words :D What say?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quietus

Oh beloved!
I come to thee
Delinquent I have been
Please forgive me.

Blinded by the darkness
Agony I couldn't see
Hold my hand
I will set you free.

Don't find answers
For none you will find
Seek no love
That love, you will leave behind.

Embrace me
Once again be strong
The divine light beckons
To eternity you will belong.

Yonder lies a world
The abode of the soul
End the battle within
Let the pieces form a whole.

PS: Dedicated to the one loved by the ones I love.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Homesickness

I miss:
-Sindhi curry
-calling friends at 30p/minute
-VESIT
-sleeping 1AM-8PM
-khau galli
-chatting non-stop for 3 hours and still wanting more
-being woken up by people rather than an alarm
-Marine Drive
-affordable restaurants
-auto rickshaws
-Nix
-my team at Accenture
-treats without the GPL ;)
-fighting for a Choco Avalanche that lasts 20 seconds
-going on random treks to random places
-having objects to photograph closeby
-local trains
-lectures from Dada on practically everything I do or don't do
-weekends
-reading a novel from start to end at one go
-Kandha Poha
-watching 4 movies in a day
-unforeseen heavy rains
-Linking Road
-Vada Paav
-my inner circle
-having a refrigerator in the room, with food on demand
-college fests
-matke ka paani
-H n H
-weekend getaways
-seeing both rudeness and nicety in a moment
-a paycheck
-trips to Bangalore
-late night drives
-BEST buses
-Pasada's movie recommendations
-unrestricted night downloads
-getting, making and giving customized gifts
-unnecessary advice from over-smart relatives
-counselling sessions with friends
-wasting time and not feeling guilty about it
-being close to reality
-being left alone in my own world
-Mumbai

Monday, November 23, 2009

Long Time No See

Me: How come you are up at this hour?
Myself: I am always up at this hour.
Me: Did you know you don't wake up in time for the 8.30 lectures?
Myself: Of course I do. I have a dream within a dream within a dream....just like nested loops in programming. Every time the alarm rings, I wake up in a dream. I exit one dream and return to the parent dream.
Me: Crap! You are sleep talking.
Myself: I am sleep talking half the time. I am sleeping from 2 AM to 2 PM. Surprised you didn't know.
Me: Don't forget, I am the insomniac that you once used to be.
Myself: I thought I was too, till the winter came knocking on my doors. Time froze. I froze in time, apparently.
Me: Faff. When will you ever learn how to talk straight?
Myself: It's proven. That's why food is preserved in freezers. The microbes' metabolism slows down in the near zero degree temperature range and hence they cannot carry on with their work of spoiling the food. So you see it's humane for your body clock to slow down, sometimes stop when it's time to wake up.
Me: Microbes are not humans!
Myself: Stop being so critical.
Me: Look who is talking :P
Myself: Okay fine! I am a changed man.
Me: What's new?
Myself: Everything. New seasons. New friends. New teachers. New headaches. New initiatives.
Me: What initiatives?
Myself: My friends and I started a literacy drive for the mess workers of our hostel.
Me: Oh so you have been doing more than just sleeping.
Myself: Did you not know my day has more than 24 hours these days?
Me: Yeah right! That's been the case since you joined MDI. Why take up another headache?
Myself: That's one headache I like. At least I am contributing to alleviating someone else's future headache.
Me: Now don't get into philosophy again. People have been cribbing Whispering Shadow has taken a preachy tone!
Myself: The Illuminator is a bit of everything. Unfortunately the only space for philosophy in his life is on his blog, so the Shadow sees most of it coming through.
Me: Uffo. But what about your readers? You have to be kind to them.
Myself: I do not write what people like. People like what I write. Only they are the ones who are here.
Me: What about the 21867 hits that you don't get on your blog?
Myself: It'll happen over time. My blog has its own life. It'll grow old, learn, adapt and change over time. It will continue to represent me.
Me:Old!! Damn you are growing old. Time to get a move on in life.
Myself: Old. You mean the boring workaholics who have tea every 3 hours to give their stressed minds a high.
Me: That's a new perspective of looking at things.
Myself: Tea reminds me! I need to go have some. Or else the whole cycle will recur..slow metabolism, too much sleep, dreams, frozen body clock, missing first lecture...damn.
Me: I do not wish to go. Too lazy. Moreover, too cozy.
Myself: Don't worry. My good friend has promised me her ''spirit'' will accompany me today.
Me: Sheesh. You talk utter crap. Even if I was not feeling too lazy or cozy, I would not have come. Go now!
Myself: She said the same thing - "Anyone who reads our conversation will go mad."
Me: I said "Go now!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Whether Forecast

The air is dry
Truth is a far cry
Do you feel the prick on the skin?
Why are you not hunting for truth within?

Trees are shedding leaves
There is someone who believes
Is a leaf better dead than not alive?
Is there a better meaning to your lives?

Birds are migrating
You men are struggling
Isn't the world their playground?
Why is it your battleground?

The snow is sparkling white
Your lives are blank
How does the snow not stain?
Why do you not feel another's pain?

The winter season is here
The search for reason is here
Are you cold under the feeble sun?
Did my heart unfold a story unsung?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Power of a Vision

We all have a dream - one you believe in, a one you see becoming a reality, a dream you know nothing about but you know it exists taking shape somewhere in the many years to come, a dream that defines the purpose of your life.

It is yours and you know it. It is the guiding light for every decision you take. But how do you make others see the light? Do they need to see the light? As it turns out, yes, they do sometimes, to know you as a person. You try giving them a glimpse. The brightness of the vision is blinding. They shut their eyes. And then it's gone. But when you shut your eyes, it is clearer than ever. And the moment you open them, it is blurry. All you can recollect is you saw a dream. All you are left with is the lingering sensation.

It is this sensation that makes you a believer. It is the belief that translates into a vision which in turn can be shared. Though appreciated for its beauty in the long run, many find it hard to understand the choices you are going to make tomorrow. You find it hard to make them understand. Do you stop trying? No.

You go back and find another soul in the hope that someday you will find people who do not need to see the vision. They can feel the sensation that you do. It is that what makes them believe in you. You make them a part of your journey. And gradually, they begin to see it as you do. And then you wonder, "Was it even necessary?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Satisfied

Satisfaction manifests itself in different ways. Satisfaction could come from the sense of achievement, peace, joy or relaxation derived from any one of the many activities one could possibly do. But the beauty lies in the fact that its effect leave an imprint on your head, a scar one wants to see over and over again to relive those times that have been. Again scar may not be the perfect word to use in a positive connotation but I simply use it as a last symbol of an event that led to strong emotions.

I was scarred twice in the last fortnight. Two very different reasons led to two very different results but gave me the same amount of satisfaction.

The first event I am talking of was my rafting trip to Kolad. The dense forests, the pristine waters, the unpredictable skies and the beautiful flora and fauna looked even prettier when observed from the quiet and fast moving rafts. There was no way I could have seen and absorbed so much natural grandeur in so little time. When added to the adrenaline rush of braving the rapids and the spirit of working as a coordinated team of your best friends, I had one hell of a package.

For those three hours, I lived in the present, without memories of the past and concern about the future. It was there that I felt closer to myself than I had ever been before. If I had to recall a time when I sincerely felt at home, it was while I was oaring through the 12 KM stretch of the Kundalika river. (I wish I could show you how I felt but cameras are a strict no-no in white water rafting).


The end of our journey in River Kundalika

The second event was one closer to the world of materialism we live in. We faced an uphill task of pulling of a mammoth event in one-third of the usual time. 'Mammoth event' refers to Illumina, the annual disguise market research festival of MDI and 'We' refers to the Illuminati (no, Dan Brown used it later in Angel and Demons), the core team that makes the event happen every year.

Due to an unexpected break of 10 days due to reasons mentioned in the post below, our entire plan had gone for a toss. At one point we weren't even sure if it was possible to hold the event with the little time available for the preparation. There was an incredible amount of work to do and we were a leaner team than there was last year. Though the batch could volunteer for bits and pieces of the total work, there was a considerable amount left for the team in addition to putting those bits and pieces together.

It is here that the entire team stood up together and made a seemingly impossible event possible. 6 days of non-stop work, lack of sleep, a lot of physical exertion and stiff deadlines at every stage comprehensively tested the team's mettle. Illumina was a grand success, at least as successful as the previous year if not better. Post the event, the sense of weariness was tremendous but short lived but the sense of achievement remained and will continue to remind us of the time we all did our bit and made the difference.

The fireworks at Illumina 2009

It is said,"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it is worth watching." These events have surely made watching my life a worthier prospect.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Panic Pandemic

Swines passed it on to humans. Humans passed it on to other humans. Some of the other humans came to my campus. Some of those living on the campus caught it by the virtue of ill fate but survived the scare. Some are lucky to have not got it still. Some have escaped it right in time. Those in the latter two categories may still not be completely out of its danger. The clock is ticking. Panic is increasing. People are leaving.

Sounds like a typically d-day scenario of a movie. But it's true! I never thought I would have the opportunity to witness the panic of being stricken by the most hyped illness in the world. I shouldn't be sounding excited about it, but I can't deny the fact I am as excited as I am worried. In an otherwise extremely planned schedule for the next 3 months, most would have thought nothing could go wrong. But it did, and how, and how soon.

If I could analogize the H1N1 virus with the Joker in the Dark Knight, it perfectly represents his ''agent of chaos'' theory. If you didn't get the connection, here is a refresher.

"I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan." But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair!"

For those of you who don't get a connection, let me describe what happened in the course of a few hours. Everything was going as planned. The beginning of a new semester. The build up to a very crucial 3 days in our b-school lives. The routine remained unchanged - sleepless nights, dreamy days, endless work, constant cribbing. We heard of one birdie being caught in the net of the virus. Everyone tried to display a sense of composure - Nothing happened, it is just an one off event. The reason I used ''tried to display'' is because the next day, everyone queues up to find out if they have been caught in the net too. Most had escaped, some had not. There were many who didn't know still and guess were in the worst position.

Here is a brief insight into the chain of thoughts.News spreads. Negative thoughts begin to creep in. What if it's me next? How am I going to manage alone? Will I spread it to a few others in my group? Should I go home to eliminate risk of transmission? Should I stay put to avoid taking the virus home? Should I go out? (For the ultra-paranoid living in ignorance:)Will I become like one of those miserable wretched creatures that are seen in movies like ''Resident Evil"? (For the more relaxed souls:) Is the mask looking funny? (For the optimist:) Let's click a picture with the masks on (me! but no one was interested except a good Samaritan).

The amazing fact about panic is it kills rationality. It nurtures fear and ignorance. It is self-perpetuating It is ubiquitous. It has its own mind. It is evil. As evident, even the smartest brains in the country are not immune to the threat so common (panic not THE FLU).

As I prepare myself to go on a welcome 10 days break, I hope I don't have to bear the burden of sharing the love the virus could have for me with you (could be you :P ). On all other fronts, the stage is set. Surprises are planned. A holiday has arrived before I could see it coming. No more fooling (could be 'flu'ing) around with me!

Play safe.

PS: All information mentioned in the post is the personal opinion of the author and should not be taken as an official source of information from the school authorities or the student body of the school.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Time Machine

Though the Time Machine in the H.G.Wells' novella may still be a distant reality, I have managed to discover its not-so-close substitute in the form of a b-school.

It seems just yesterday that I landed at MDI, fresh and full of apprehensions about what the coming few months are going to throw on me. I have become one-sixth of an MBA since then, I have given 14 exams and 28 quizzes in the process, submitted around half a dozen projects and haven't quite realized where was it that the learning has happened, though I am certain it has. It is as if all the actions were involuntarily performed by a unknown side of me.

What has happened more consciously is that I have been promoted from the nocturnal creatures to a qualified insomniac. Seniors say if you are sleeping too much, you are not making the most of your time in a b-school, which I partly agree with. Say for instance the last week from Monday to Friday, I slept for 4,5,3,4,2 hours per day respectively everyday. And sometimes that too was broken into further bits and pieces. In retrospect, time seems to have flied, but each day is incredibly long, not necessarily fruitful.

The word 'fruitful' means different things to different people. For me, a day is fruitful when I have done my share of work (both academic and extracurricular), socializing (which does not always happen when you work) and sleeping (its quality matters when quantity is compromised). In addition, it is very important to be able to make time for your hobbies and your friends back home once in a few days. Reading beyond academic books and playing (especially when you have facilities on campus) should take up some space on your schedule too.

By that definition, I would say the term has been partly fruitful. I have worked a lot, met a lot of new people and interacted with some very talented folks from the industry and slept when I have had the opportunity. The net has allowed me to keep in touch with most of my friends.

But on the flipside, photography has majorly suffered (which my friend's on Flickr would agree with). I haven't been resolute enough to pull myself out of bed early each morning to find stuff to click. Reading has been minimal and restricted to the bare necessities. Playing and exercising did happen with some gung-ho in the start of the trimester, but then the other commitments took precedence.

More worrying is the reason why it has been so. The attitude in a b-school is you have to wait till the dagger hangs on your neck. Everything happens at short notice. And whenever there is enough time, people prefer resting now and sprinting later. As I had explained in one of my previous post, we create crisis situations and then call ourselves good crisis managers.

This is not to put off an aspiring b-school student - it happens everywhere in the country's top schools. It is the ''culture'' of Indian Management Education. You have to accept the culture if you are a part of the community. And in the process, you have loads of fun and loads of headaches and all in the name of 'wholistic learning'. It's charm lies in the fact that it is brutal, hence effective. It is an experience which a few other places of learning can offer. If you like roller coasters, this might just be the place for you!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cravings

The search is on
For another treasure
Not the glory of achievement
Nor wealth beyond measure

The path is hidden
The journey is long
The silence and sounds of the woods
Accompany me all along

"Make your own path
If you can't find the right ways
Learn from me, oh traveller"
Advices the river as it sways

Gazing through the scarlett sky
The Sun sinks at the distant end
Spreading darkness as it takes my leave
To brighten up another land

The sights and sounds and smells
Look with me into the starry night
Overtaking me with a sense of joy
Making me wonder if my goal was right

The serenity and the beauty alike
Make nature my wonder cure
My journey was my destination
Of that, I am completely sure.

Upstream

Monday, August 17, 2009

In My Blue Pyjamas

I don't know why I am writing this on my blog.

It was 10:15 AM. I was in such deep sleep that only a canon shot could have awakened me. Or so I thought, until I was awakened by the ringtone of my cell-phone. I cursed the caller. Someone would have to be cruel to awaken a harmless soul from his sweet slumber. I heard a familiar voice. Once my brain had finished its daily booting routine, I managed to identify the owner of the voice. It was MS, my classmate and friend. I don't remember which language he spoke in but what he said vaguely translated to "Are you not coming for the lecture?" I told him that I was. I reiterated that the lecture was only at 10:15. That's when he broke the news to me "It's already 10:15." I went like "Oh F***, not again."

Had it been any other phase of my education, I would have bunked with pleasure. My philosophy used to be "Why put in an effort in waking up for a boring lecture which again puts you to sleep?" until I was introduced a demon called 'Grade Dock' which means I would move from a B+ to a B for the fourth lecture I missed in a subject and then one lesser grade for every lecture missed there on. I had my share of quota left for this particular subject but I thought I would save it for a rainy day.

Thus, began my one-minute challenge of reaching class before the gate to the academic block is locked. I splashed water on my face from the bottle near my bed, gargled using water from the same bottle, got into a t-shirt and tracks (My jeans were not too handy so...) and left for class. I thought all this had happened in a jiffy but the clock showed 10:17! Damn, I was destined to be late.

The advantage of being in a residential course at MDI is that the academic wing is right opposite the hostel, which makes reaching class a 30 second brisk walk. I decided to not give up and trying getting to class. There was hope. I rushed to the academic block and saw the open gate from a distance which meant I could get in before I was bolted out. I did, just before the roll call began.

My class mates, I tell you, they are such nice people. They completely understand the ordeal which all creatures have to go through at a place where body clocks go bonkers. They were empathatic. In their empathy, they smiled, mocked and pointed fingers ("Abhi uthke aaya hai, bechara") Whatever improvement I made on my looks was on the basis of feedback which my fellow benchers gave me. "Your hairs not in place, your right eye is has something stuck in its left corner, etc." Some went out of their ways to be nice. "Don't talk to me. You haven't brushed still."

I didn't even bother to look at my professor because I didn't know what I was to expect from her. I just quitely sat in my place, luckily finding a paper and pen from a colleague (it is nearly impossible for a person to carry spares at a b-school).

All that happened seemed like an extend period of somnolence. My though process was still slow and my voice had the morning blues. It remained so almost throughout the lecture. Very few can remain attentive through a non-stop narration of tales of profound vanity and meagre conquests. I couldn't find much of a difference between the others and me, except that the physical signs made it more apparent in my case.

As soon as the lecture got over, I rushed back to my room. Had a look in the mirror and realized why I managed to capture everyone's attention for a few minutes. I couldn't stop laughing!! I was a total mess. It was only natural of the others to be so 'nice' to me. But then there are always firsts in lives. Today was my first lecture in pyjamas. I hope it is the last.

I still don't know why I wrote this on my blog. Do you?

In retrospect, 'nice' is a nice word!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Live Strong

Life’s biggest gifts often come in the most inconspicuous fashion. Their worth is realized only through the change they spark off. The change makes its presence felt gradually, through an experience of joy and suffering, grief and hope, which in turn force one to look within. For cyclist Lance Armstrong, life’s biggest gift was cancer.

In his autobiography "It's not about the bike" written with Sally Jenkins, Armstrong beautifully weaves the story of his self-actualization. The book is a narrative touching every aspect of his life right since his childhood to his rebirth. In the beginning, he greatly talks about the influence of his mother, his turbulent relation with his fathers and more importantly, his own discovery of the athlete in him. His career as a triathlete and cyclist is like a fairytale of successes and victories till reality strikes in the form of a fourth stage testicular cancer. His prognosis looks bleak with the cancer having spread to his brain, lungs and abdomen and doctors giving him a less than 40% chance of survival. The book takes the readers through the abysmal lows during the treatment to the highs which follow in the form of his Tour De France wins, his marriage to Kristin Richard, and the birth of his son, Luke. The book skillfully summarizes his journey before and after the disease, his metamorphosis from a brash bullish cyclist to the mature diligent competitor. Cycling for him post treatment is a means to a greater end, that of supporting other cancer patients across the world, through the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

In every aspect, Armstrong gives the readers a deep insight into the emotions and thoughts that run through his mind at various points during his fight against cancer, be it the shock of the diagnosis, the pains of the chemotherapy, the fear of death and moreover, the anxiety of never being able to do again what he loves the most. Time and again, he draws comparisons of his predicament with a cycling race, to make himself belief that he can win in this fight for life. The beauty of the book is the ability to make you feel every emotion that overwhelms him in a very simple yet evocative manner which is exactly the reason I strongly recommend it to you.

The story is an epitome of how an individual can find strength in adversity. It is about living strong. Like Armstrong says “Odd as it sounds, I would rather have the title of cancer survivor than winner of the Tour, because of what it has done for me as a human being, a man, a husband, a son, and a father.

PS: I had written it for a review at college. Thought I will share it with you all too.

Source: http://www.makingalife.com/book_covers/ItsNotAboutTheBike.jpg

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Peace

It is 12.30 PM. I have just woken up after an all night long party yesterday. In the first mail I have received in the day, my dad has sent me this poem by Swami Vivekananda. In complete contradiction to the hangover I have started my day with, the poem is intellectually invigourating. Read on. May peace be within you!!

Behold, it come in might,
The power that is not power,
The light that is in darkness,
the shade in dazzling light.

It is joy that never spoke,
And grief unfelt, profound,
Immortal life unlived,
Eternal death unmoored.

It is not joy nor sorrow,
But that which is between,
It is not night nor morrow,
But that which joins them in.

It is sweet rest in music,
And pause in sacred art;
The silence between speaking;
Between two fits of passion - It is calm of heart.

It is beauty never seen,
And love that stands alone,
It is song that live un-sung,
And knowledge never known.

It is death between two lives,
And lull between two storms,
The void whence rose creation,
And that where it returns.

It is the tear-drop goes,
To spread the smiling form.
It is the Goal of Life,
And Peace- the only home !

Source: http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_4/writings_poems/peace.htm

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Meeting

One of my best friends is someone who I didn't meet for over a year into our friendship. For the people that we were, it was an oddity that we became such close friends over what was just a series of bytes exchanged over the net (I have one more reason why they call it the net, because you can catch some great friends here). Series of bytes is an understatement though. We literally shared our lives, or so I would like to believe. We knew what was happening with our common and non-common friends, our families, on the work front, inside our head, outside our head, whether emotionally, materialistically, spiritually and otherwise. Our wavelengths matched perfectly. Our attitudes were similar. We were both rational, ultra-liberal, thinkers and believers in reason and the merit of work.

It was too much of a coincidence. We would ask each other if we were for real. The friendship seemed too good to be true. As a consequence, we would wonder if it would be the same when we met, whether the people we are would match the person we perceived each other to be. The burden of expectations, I tell you! But we never let it supersede the joy of a good conversation.

Living in different cities created a problem. But never there is a problem for which there is no solution and so we found our. Contrary to expectations, I was not excited about the prospect of the meeting. Perhaps, I was so preoccupied before the meeting that the 'ifs' and 'hows' never ran into my mind. But I had circled the date on my mental calender!

We met in a third city. We spent a whole day together. And it didn't feel any different than it would meeting your old friend after a long while. She didn't look any different from what I had seen of her in the photographs. She spoke like she usually did. It seemed like we had a history together and this was definitely not the first time we were meeting. We went animal-spotting on a safari, got soaked in the rains, had imli dipped in red chilly powder and ice-cream, baked pizzas, plus clicked loads of photographs (as if you didn't know!).

Though everything about her was just the same as I had expected, there was something about the meeting that was markedly different. I don't know if it was the place, the people, the chemistry or just destiny.

PS: Another one of the posts that I wanted to write but did not have the time for earlier!

Friday, July 10, 2009

What an (aspiring) manager does?

I just finished my lecture on Human Behaviour in Organizations (HBO) and have my Marketing Planning and Managerial Economics lectures coming up. The beauty of a b-school is that when you are doing the stuff you are supposed to do, i.e. study, you feel sleepy and when you are doing everything else that has no correlation with you becoming a manager, you are awake. It is involuntary. Which is why they have quizzes. Like today, our HBO teacher comes in and says I have a surprise for you. The whole class roars "No Quiz!!" Having a quiz is less surprising than not having one. But then 10 minutes of staying awake through those 10-20 questions is not as painful, is it? It is definitely less painful than a thirty page case study which you have to make a presentation on with one day's notice (my sympathies to my friends in HR). But then we don't start when we have 24 hours in hand, it is too un-manager-ly. We strongly believe that it is important to learn to handle crisis now than while you are in your jobs, so we begin when there are 4 hours to the deadline, sometimes fewer. In effect, it also helps us to work better in teams and improve our efficiency. The rest of the time can be used for productive activities like playing sports, exercising at the gym, social work, gaming (our gaming club is called WTF...May be to highlight WTF are we doing), chit-chatting, partying, drinking and smoking, if you belong to the clan, and of course the local favourite sleeping (note it's more about quality than quantity). Isn't that what we call hole-is-stick development? What I mean is you get stuck in a hole so deep that only out of the box thinking can help. So now we have handled crisis, improved efficiency, managed time, networked, developed out of the box thinking and lived through evaluations. Oh, evaluation reminds me I have a Concept Application Exercise to complete!! Damn, I am so dead. Remember I spoke about creative destruction? This is what I meant by dying everyday. See you in hell.



A Part of the Campus: The resemblance to a holiday resort may explain the attitude of its bright students


Note: This post is purely a satire and does not reflect the complete or true picture of lives of students at the Management Development Institute (MDI). The post or any portion of this post cannot be reproduced in any publication relating to MDI quoting Whispering Shadow as a source.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Why God Exists?

On my trip to Bangalore, I had gone out on a walk with my maternal grandfather, or Nana, as I lovingly call him. Most of the time he was feeling his way along the road. Feeling because he couldn't see. He developed Glaucoma a few years ago after a stroke and ever since his vision has kept degrading reaching a figure of 25% of normal this year. He was also not able to recognize the sound of approaching vehicles since he couldn't hear their engines rattle. He is deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. To illustrate, he would not know a truck is approaching him till it is around 10 feet away from him.

Despite his health constraints, he has never missed his 5 KM morning walk in the past 23 years that I have known him. Of course, the walk I was on with him was not a morning walk since my morning happens a good four hours after his. It was just a stroll to the vegetable market.

We reached a road crossing. It was a two way road with three lanes in each direction separated by a structure that was an unthoughtful mix of a divider and a footpath. I asked him to hold my hand but he laughed at the idea saying "How do you think I manage when you are not around?" I knew we were on our own but decided to wait with him till he is good to go. He lifted his left hand and started walking towards the other end. Drivers honked. Some drivers were harsh enough to open their windows and throw abuses at a handicapped old man (it didn't matter to him because he couldn't hear what they were saying). Some vehicles' horns were just audible enough for him to realise he had to stop. Some missed him by a whisker. We reached the divider. He almost stumbled while crossing it. After a while, he lifted his right hand and started walking. The story repeated again. After putting both our lives in jeopardy, we successfully managed to cross the road.

On my way back, I told him he should not take such risks and ask for assistance. I also asked him to get himself a walking stick. He tells me, "I have suffered the effects of the stroke in recent years but I have never asked anyone for help in my whole life, not even my children. I can't change my way of living as a result of a handicap...If you have faith in God and he will take care of you." There was an inkling of truth in this considering he has been living like this for the past 10 years and living well.

As cliched as it sounded, there were forces up there that were at work, an invisible hand guiding the ones who believed, ones in need. 'God'da take Him seriously!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Month that was, the Years that will be

If I said the last post came after ages, this one has taken many more!! Time has flown by, all of a sudden, leaving me without much time to let any feeling of farwewell to sink in. Ironically, it has been the longest one month of my life. In addition to the expected preparations, tying the open ends of the threads of my life in Mumbai was not easy, especially when they are entagled with all the lives that have touched me deep in there and made all the difference. I also had important people to meet in Bangalore which made an added demand on my limited time. Amidst all the chaos, I didn't realise when I reached Gurgaon and how my first week in Gurgaon went by. Matter of factly, it was an incredibly long one too.

I slept 3 hours on an average every night, with 45 minutes being the least in a day and 5 hours being the most. I had an option of paying up fines for sleep, delay and indiscipline (sleeping in sessions, stooping on the desk, etc.) but it was the easier way out. I chose to endure, because I knew this week would be a litmus test of what was to come in the next 2 years. I did succeed eventually. It seemed like I had already been at MDI for 2 months.

Moving away from trivialities, I had the fortune of meeting some of the most learned people I have ever met. CEOs of companies, writers, the founding director of MDI (who has also led IIMB and IIML), faculty and alumni - all of them telling me there is a long way to go in life. Yes, there were speeches and interactions, and no matter how sleepy I was, I wanted to absorb every ounce of knowledge they shared. I felt enlightened after talking to them and before I forget the lessons they taught me, I want to write them down.

1) Practise creative destruction. If I don't die everyday, I will not be reborn the next. I will not remain young forever (Courtesy: Dr. Pritam Singh).
2) Show humility. Small people are big because they make others look small. Big people are big because they make others look big (Courtesy: Dr. Ashok Kapur).
3) Don't undermine your values. You have to answer to yourself at the end of the day.
4) Remain aware and sensitive to ideas. You can learn from anyone.
5) Management requires strength - physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.
6) Read the scriptures. They hold the mantra for life.
7) Set a goal. Action without purpose is time passed.
8) Strategize. Life will not take you where you want to go, but you should be able to prevent it from going where you don't want to go.
9) Show strength of character, that is what decides if carbon metamorphises into diamond or coal.
10) Be proactive and not reactive.

I will hopefully not give you a reason to miss me in the time to come. I apologize for not having dropped in to say hello on your blogs. Keep whispering!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Soul Curry

It's been ages since I posted on Whispering Shadow (barring the one public announcement below). Over the past two weeks, I have started writing posts but ended up not completing them. It completely reflects the state of mind in which I have been - distracted, like a cranky baby. Toys, books, pictures, lights, food - nothing works for the infant. He keeps crying. He is inconsolable. Others don't know what he wishes because he cannot speak. Yet he himself is not wholly aware of what is pulling him in so many different directions. It is like a cause-less effect, an endless cycle.

An emotional stew has been brewing over the past 10 days, the ingredients of which have been the joy due to celebration, the ecstacy of acheivement, the satisfaction of great food, the faith in destiny, the relief of having lived up to expectations, the anxiety and freedom of handling your work yourself all alone, the monotony of routine, the instability due to chaos. It's literally a jungle in there, with one feeling trying to overwhelm the soul over all others and emerging victorious. But unfortunately, there has been more than one winner, once too often.

Another feature of my season has also been speed. The juggernaut of the events hasn't left me with time to stop and think. My days seem to be flying and every attempt of mine to put a break on them has been in vain. Having learnt from my failed attempts, I have hopped on the wagon and have been making the most of wherever it takes me.

The scrambled post is going to end as abruptly as it is written but I cannot close this one without thanking all those who said ''I told you so" to me. I am sane because of you.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

One and how

One attempt, one call, one interview, one convert, one hell of an institute! 


For a change, I surprised myself on my birthday.

(c)All Rights for the logo are reserved by the Management Development Institute, Gurgaon.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

iVote

I finally found the right reason to show the wrong finger. On the 30th of April, I voted, as did many other Indians. Since it was my first time, I was all gung ho and reached the polling booth well before time. My name was not in the electoral roll on the polling booth so I had to do a bit of running around to find my polling booth. But I did not give up. I had the mark on my finger (which is unintentionally creative in shape, reminding me of a top view of the head of a flying eagle).

Standing in front of the voting machine, I saw 16 names, all losers in their own right. It was a tough call between choosing a candidate keeping the central government policies as well as progress of the constituency in mind. I could have chosen an independent who brought with him/her only a promise and no political lineage or capacity to bring about change. I could have chosen a seasoned MP who would have a higher probability to be a part of the ruling coalition at the center and a contribute to decision making. I chose the latter because I wanted to prevent a hung assembly, though it is inevitable. At least I can now say I did my bit. Perhaps that was the only reason I voted, stability of governance, that is.

Voting felt nice. For an instance, I felt I was contributing to the fate of the country, knowing that my vote would eventually not make any difference to my city. Some people did the smarter thing by going off on holidays. Actually, the some people comprise of 56% of the total voters. And like always, nobodies (primarily no-brainers, bimbettes, actors, film personalities, politicians, unknown journalists) came up with incredible explanations for the low turn out without any quantitative figures what-so-ever (like heat, long weekend, lack of faith, et al) acting as if the people were stupid to not know. TV circles as well as the newspapers were full of pictures of these unwanted commentators making the most of this opportunity to show their middle finger without any backlash.

What gives them a right to comment on the city's people? Have they ever faced the difficulties of a common man to know what he goes through everyday? They may not be wrong with their reasons but they are not qualified enough to represent the opinion of the city just because they have stardom. It is sad that public sentiment is exploited for publicity gimmicks.

If people choose to not vote, they are still expressing their opinion - the need for better options for governance. Promises were made after 26/11 but nothing has happened- a National Investigative agency within three months seems at least 3 years away, Mumbai doesn't have its own commando unit, policemen have resumed sleeping at railway stations. And it is not only this government that hasn't lived up to its promises.

One can't ask the public to keep its faith in a system which brings no positive results. People are in a relationship with the Government and it is bound to hit the rocks at one point. You have to jump off a sinking ship before it takes you down with you. The voters are doing exactly that.

The voters will blame the politicians for not bringing about change. The politicians will tell the voters that they are not accountable to them since they haven't voted. The same will happen in every election. The vicious cycle will go on and on.

I will continue to vote for the lesser of the evils, hoping that one day my vote will matter.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blissfully High

I woke up that morning. I opened the door to my room. In stead of the passageway of my house, I stepped on to a beach. I heard the sound of the waves. I saw a beautiful sun rise, but the breeze from the Arabian Sea didn’t allow my body to feel its warmth. It could have been one of my dreams, but this time it wasn’t. It was for real, the surroundings and my state of mind.

Through the Glare-ing Glass

Just before I had gone to sleep the previous night, I was sitting on the beach, alone, staring into the vast expanse of darkness that the ocean had become. Barring the sound of waves breaking on the shore and the hymn of the insects, it was silent. After a while, I could hear my heart beat too, as if it was playing along in harmony with the sounds of nature.

I didn’t notice the blanket of stars that shrouded the ocean until I decide to lie down on my back. The stars were infinite in number, unmatched in their luminosity and set up a great contrast with the emptiness of the night. The sky itself felt like an endless black velvet cloth studded with radiant diamonds.

Actually, any attempt to describe what I saw in words that night is in vain. Words can’t give you the high which you get when you are drunk on nature’s glory. You must experience it to realize how beautiful the creation of god is, both in grandeur and scale.

I could have spent the night spotting shapes by joining the twinkling dots of light. But I wanted to sleep so that I could etch the sight in my memory. Nostalgia would allow me to feel insignificant, bringing with it the realization that I am only a tiny part of His magnum opus.

I dreamt of what I had seen and then saw what I had dreamt of. I guess He knew my plan.

PS: For pictures, please visit my Flickr album.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why is it called an Interview?

I am jubilant. I have stayed away from the newspaper for a week. The feeling of nausea due to overconsumption of information has finally ceased. I have even stayed away from the many news channels that crowd the first 50 channels of my television box. So what if the world is slipping deeper into recession and India is anticipating two events (IPL and the Elections) which will see expenditure of 0.6% of our GDP in just over a month? Not much can change within a week. At least nothing that has any influence on me.

Why the sudden aversion from current affairs one may ask. I was preparing for a b-school interview. The array of questions that they can ask you is insane. And as a result, even if you consider yourself to be generally well-read, you are never as ‘aware’ as your interviewers are of the world around you, at least you don’t interpret things they way they do. Hence to try to raise the bar, I was reading like never before, reading topics which I would conveniently skip otherwise, understanding terms in finance and economy like market capitalization, recession, depression, debt, credit, sub-prime and updating myself with all the happenings in the political and business world. Frankly, it did help during the interview too, to an extent.

I always wondered, why can’t you simply Google information when you need it? Why do you need to know? Of course you need to know, it’s important for a good manager to be aware. You can only Google if you know the keyword to search. But then how can they expect an aspiring manager to understand everything they way they do? If he already did, then why go to a business school in the first place? Quite honestly, they don’t. They just want to see if you can make sense of the information. The whole process is centered on just two factors – presence of mind and analytical reasoning.

But that’s just one part of it. There are things you are certainly expected to know and understand in all ways - objectives, strengths and weaknesses, your education and work, your core values, interests and most of all yourself. And this is the tricky part because we all thing we know and yet we are not fully convinced ourselves. We don’t counter questions ourselves. Why should they have any rights to break our little dreams? We don’t want reality checks so early in life.

With all this I am sounding as if I was tortured during my interview. On the contrary, I was not. It was like a discussion like the ones we have in office over the current ‘hot’ topics. Not one question about anything to do with me. I didn’t come out smiling but I was not shocked either. In fact most interviews did probe some or all of the above issues in a very subtle manner, leaving the interviewee with little or no idea of how they thought he/she fared in those 15 minutes. My case was no different.

At the end, regardless of whether I get through or not, all the introspection helped me understand myself like I never did before. I am a lot clearer about my goals and will go on to achieve them with or without an MBA, but an MBA will make it a lot easier. I dug deep and struck gold. And for now, I have enough on my plate to last the next few weeks, even months.

The conclusion is completely unrelated to the interview but in sync with my mood. I have managed to read Deception Point, a masala novel by Dan Brown and I just love the excess of wild creativity and the lack of thought-provoking ideas. I am drifting again.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Beat the Heat

41 degrees should be no big deal, especially for someone who has stayed in Dubai for half his life. It is easily around 6 degrees cooler than the average temperature in Dubai and only half as humid. But it has been sucking the life out me over the past few days. Mumbai is warm and humid like never before. And what makes life worse is the fact that you don't have the luxury of an air conditioner at most places you go to for everyday work, barring office, which is literally always 'chilled out'.

And the temperatures have peaked at a time when I am celebrating my first weekend with no prior agenda in a long time. I knew I was going to face 'heat' in my interview but beyond that it should have been all cool. How wrong I was. It's possible the worst the weather in the city has ever felt. Being the outdoorsy person I am, I am quite stuck for options. Yes, I can go to a mall or catch up with a movie but it is never as satisfying as going to Marine Drive or sitting on the beach and watching the sun go down. I also wanted to play badminton over the weekend but not at the cost of a heatstroke. And one day is too less to learn and start enjoying swimming. 

So I have been sitting at home, watching movies (Chaos theory and American History X are both recommended, but avoid the latter if you don't like gore), cooking and catching up with friends and family. I hope to get hold of a few books too.

And in my idleness, I have also revamped my blogs look. It was painful because I had lost touch with the little XHTML I knew and had to read up loads to make the changes. Plus, my sense of colours seemed so rusty that I would have made a clown of my blog and wouldn't have known. 

So after four hours of due diligence, I present to you the new look of the blog.  As always, you can let me know if something doesn't feel right. It is a little difficult on a laptop screen to make exact sense of the colours so instead of making faces, point out the colours which appear flashy on your monitors. Besides, do you think keeping each post in a box is a good idea? I did it for the sake of readability but am not very convinced. How do you like the new header? Like always it features one of the photographs I clicked. And I chose blue because it looks 'cool'.

Now that I am done with giving my blog a makeover, I will begin looking for a new activity to spend time on, which will not include reading newspapers, watching news, planning for the future, preparing possible interview questions, understanding economic crisis and checking office mail. I have had enough and more. Have a happy weekend!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What are friends for?

  • To gate crash at your home on every birthday, getting spare cakes so that you can do more than just eat them.
  • To expect you to listen to them even when they are at their worst and you are not at your best. 
  • To turn tell you how monstrous you looked in that flouroscent shirt. "You should have instead worn the floral one! "
  • To confide in you how cute they found that girl who just passed by to be which was exactly what you were going to tell them.
  • To give you advice, free and unlimited, sometimes unnecessary.  
  • To wish you luck a million times, saying "You will be just fine" before you put yourself to a real test in this cruel world. You even get "Good Luck" surprise parties.
  • To ask you for treats on every occassion. Your birthday. Treat! You won a prize. Treat! You shaved. Treat!
  • To reinstate faith when you think you are being sucked in a black hole. "No it's ok. They won't touch your arm. They will only chop your finger"
  • To fuel your imagination. "Imagine Salma Hayek is standing right here in my bedroom" "Yeah,  and she is naked."
  • To have group therapy sessions on how scared we are of flunking in the upcoming exam, when we haven't ever got less than a first class.
  • To inform you before anyone else of their latest buy as if it is a conquest.
  • To visit your blog and then call you up to tell you how much they liked it in stead of commenting.
  • To give you wake up calls in the middle of the night when you have to burn the mid-night's oil. 
  • To take you for coffee at 3AM in the morning just because they want to have coffee.
  • To go on treks with you, no matter how underprepared you are for them.
  • To give you a crash course in a subject when you have an ocean to complete and very little time.
  • To go on drives with as many as 13 people packed in a single car. 
  • To have movie marathons with, where you end up watching as many as 5 movies in a single night despite being drunk.
  • To be the only people who you have a full right to scold.
  • To play pranks on without the fear of repurcussions. Almost. My friend once was almost about to turn me in since she thought I was her dreaded stalker.
  • To call you up and ask for "instant tips on how to start a convo with a girl you have seen on your morning walks" when standing next to her!
  • To cry without the fear of being mocked, unless its for a lost sock.
  • To be the only people who you can talk to without thinking and still appear 'wise'.
Thanks for being there. I know I will make it. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beheaded

On one rainy day, I remember I had taken cover under the natural umbrella one of them formed. It served me well. I managed to come out, not half as soaked as I would have otherwise been. The rains in Mumbai are ruthless on its inhabitants and the trees are the only saviours.  I was indebted. 

The trinity used to stand there, majestically, at the turn down the road. I had seen them in their full glory with their brown barks and thick blanket of leaves. Many creatures lived in them - crows and sparrows, pigeons and squirrels, and many more insects and creepie-crawlies. It was a micro-habitat in itself.  

Today, it felt different. The shade the trees provided was gone. The chirping of the birds was absent. In fact there were no birds.  As I walked back home, I had hoped to find them watching over the road that leads to the hospital. But all I saw were three stubs, as if they had been prosecuted and sentenced to death - beheading was the chosen method.  

The walk didn't feel the same. What a shame! What an end to three glorious lives! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Music To My Ears

A good friend told me, “If you are stressed out, sing out loud.” I told her I always did, especially when I had my music on. How often I have seen random people staring at my face and presumably mumbling to themselves, “What’s wrong with this guy?” while I have been humming along my favourite tunes. Oblivious to their remarks, I enjoy living in a world of my songs. My playlist is barely 48 hours long, but I rarely mind listening to the songs on it, over and over and over again.  They can help me change my frame of mind and refocus. There is a song for every mood, a mood for every song. There are few lines that are so close to me that they deserve a mention on my blog:

 Song : Yellow / Artist : Cold Play 

"I came along

I wrote a song for you

And all the things you do

And it was called yellow

 

So then I took my turn

Oh all the things I've done

And it was all yellow"

 

Song: Carnival of Rust/ Artist: Poet of the Fall 

"It's all a game, avoiding failure, when true colors will bleed

All in the name of misbehavior and the things we don't need

I lust for after no disaster can touch, touch us anymore

And more than ever, I hope to never fall, where enough is not the same it was before

 

Come feed the rain...

'cause I'm thirsty for your love dancing underneath the skies of lust

Yeah, feed the rain

'cause without your love my life ain't nothing but this carnival of rust"

Song: Bring me to life / Artist: Evanescence

"All of this time I can't believe I couldn't see

Kept in the dark but you were there in front of me

I've been sleeping a thousand years it seems

Got to open my eyes to everything

Without a thought without a voice without a soul

Don't let me die here

There must be something more

Bring me to life"

 Song: Devils and Dust/ Artist: Bruce Springsteen

"I got God on my side

And I'm just trying to survive

What if what you do to survive

Kills the things you love

Fear's a powerful thing, baby

It can turn your heart black you can trust

It'll take your God filled soul

And fill it with devils and dust"

Song: How to save a life? / Artist: They Fray

"As he begins to raise his voice

You lower yours and grant him one last choice

Drive until you lose the road

Or break with the ones you've followed

He will do one of two things

He will admit to everything

Or he'll say he's just not the same

And you'll begin to wonder why you came."

Song : Imagine / Artist: John Lennon

"Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one."

Song: Living Darfur / Artist: Mattafix

"There's disaster in your past 

Boundaries in your path 

What do you desire will lift you higher? 

You don't have to be extraordinary, just forgiving. 

And those who never heard your cries, 

You shall rise

And look toward the skies. 

Where others fail, you prevail in time. 

You shall rise. "

Song: Lost/ Artist: Cold Play

“You might be a big fish

In a little pond

Doesn't mean you've won

'Cause along may come

A bigger one”

Song: Say the Same/ Artist: Hoobastank

“So goodbye, my friend.

Until we meet again,

Some other day.

I know so much will change.

But looking back I can say,

I wouldn't change a day.

I hope you can say, I hope you can say

I hope you can say,

That you understand,

The only life we have,

Is here and now,

Not up in the clouds.

With every breath we can say,

It is a brand new day.

I know I can say,

The Same”

Song: Sometimes you can’t make it on your own / Artist: U2

“We fight all the time

You and I...that's alright

We're the same soul

I don't need...I don't need to hear you say

That if we weren't so alike

You'd like me a whole lot more” 

Song: Iris / Artist: Goo Goo Dolls

“And I don't want the world to see me

Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am”

Song: Affirmation/ Artist: Savage Garden

“I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned

I believe you can't appreciate real love 'til you've been burned

I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side

I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye”

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Gran Torino

There are movies and then there are great movies - the ones in which you come out feeling different about the life you live, the world you see. You ask yourself questions which you never asked. You wonder if you already knew the answers to those questions but were not willing to accept them. Your mirage of knowing how relationships function is broken, the age barrier shatterred. You wish you can recreate that magic in your life when the chips are down. You give yourself a fighting chance, for salvation, absolvence from sins of every nature. You feel pain. You cry. You learn how to save a life. You believe. You live the moment. 

Gran Torino is not a movie, it's a fun lesson in philosophy. Clint Eastwood is both the learned teacher and the enlightened student.

PS: Thank you Mr.Iyer for recommending it. I think you should watch it too in case you haven't so far. 

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Days of My Life

  1. Wake up.
  2. Go to office.
  3. Check e-mails.
  4. Work. 
  5. Eat.
  6. Check e-mails.
  7. Work.
  8. Eat again sometimes.
  9. Work more.
  10. Return home. 
  11. Check e-mails (personal).
  12. Sleep. 
And this happens six days a week from 7AM to 11PM. Not that there is too much of work, there is too little of everything else. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

F(R)ight to Vote

My attempts to get a voter card started long before the citizen awakening which the "Jaago Re" campaign ushered. But those attempts have remained fruitless because I have still not got my right to vote. The reasons for having deprived me of the Voter's card have been ridiculous. 

The first time I submitted Form 6 to the Election Desk set up in a dingy school compound was two years ago. I had gone to the desk with a copy of my passport (which according to me is one of the most stringently scrutinized documents in India) and a then recent electricity bill because I was told they needed a photo identity proof and a residence proof so I thought these would suffice. But I was sent back because I didn't carry a copy of my ration card (on which any one can add a name by bribing the municipal officer a mere Rs.100!). I went back the next week with the documents and they accepted my application.

On asking how long would it take to get the Voter's card, the person in-charge said "at least two months." I like a complete idiot was waiting and waiting for the card to be delivered at my home, but it never came. So I went back again, but they said they didn't have the list to verify if my name was added to the constituency's list of registered voters. I told them I would fill a new application if that was the case, but I was told that new voter additions had not begun for the year, so I would have to wait till it is announced again. Later, I found out from the lady who had come to verify the list of voter's at my house that my name had never been added. 

I forget about it for almost the next 18 months. Somewhere in October, the citizen awakened in me again. I thought it was the right time to apply, so I did just that. This time I went all prepared, submitted the form  with the documents in one go, collected the receipt and then began another period of waiting. 

Today, I went back to the same office where I had registered myself initially to check if the addition had happened. They checked around four voters' lists but my neither my name, nor my building's name was present on the list. They directed me to a different office.  This time, I did find the name of my building in one of the lists. I was hopeful that I will see my name on the Electoral Roll. There it was, my family's list of additions. It had name of all the adults in the family except mine!

I was shocked. So I asked him what could have gone wrong? He asked me about the documents I had submitted. I gave him the answer and he couldn't point at incorrect documentation as the reason. Then he asked me if I checked my name online on some local MPs site. I told him "Yes" it was not there. In fact none of my family member's name  showed up online so I had no hope of finding mine . Then he said it could have happened that they have made a mistake and put my name in the Electoral Roll of another contituency. I enquired "How would I know if it in deed was the case?" He told me I could find out at the chief election office of my zone. 

I wasted my entire Sunday morning returning home empty handed. And I will waste another morning running around at the Election Office. All this is especially difficult if you have 9-6 office hours! Why do we have to fight for our right to vote?

PS: I just realise but I crossed 100 posts on my blog with my last post on "Team Spirit". I am very tempted to revamp the look of my blog in celebration but I cannot afford to indulge in such luxuries when I am so time starved :( 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Team Spirit

It has been one of those phases – I have been doing everything I should but I haven’t been getting anywhere. And its timing could not have been more wrong. Not that I am not happy with whatever I am doing, but I don’t see how it is taking me towards my larger objective. I am practically drifting (yeah, this year’s first ‘drift’ post is here)

But luckily drifting has had its benefits. I have been putting in a lot of quality time at work, which has allowed me to gel better with my team.  It is only because of them that despite being the most hectic, the last few weeks have also been some of most enjoyable ones I have had at work. I have learnt but I can’t see the difference just yet.

The mention of the word ‘team’ reminds me how much I want to write about mine on the blog. In fact it has so happened that whenever I have wanted to blog, I have had no time, and whenever I have time, I have had no inclination. Since I have both this Saturday evening, I think I will get over with it once and for all.

I had heard loads of stuff about teams at workplace – politics, backbiting, oneupmanship, inefficiency, disharmony, rivalry and all the negatives that made the prospect of working in one really scary. In fact some of my batch mates did face one or more of these issues. But after two months of working with my team, I feel none of it.

The team dynamics are pretty much the contrary. All those aforesaid negatives are surely real because I have faced them in college level teams I have been a part of, but then generalizing the trend is being a little too judgmental. I will tell you why.

Working with Team Aurora (that’s our nick) has always felt like an extension of college. We have so much fun in between work that work never seems tiring. There is a soft hierarchy which is essential for any team to work and I am right at the bottom of it, but I have never felt so, because I have been allowed to work with independence and take decisions concerning the work allotted to me. And whenever I have had problems, some of the senior team members have always been around to assist me. More so, the team has always taken responsibility for mistakes by individuals, which are a part and parcel of work life, but we have come out even stronger.

Five of my eight team mates are from different parts of the country (literally one from each corner). It is a great experience knowing about the cultural nuances which make our country so vibrant. Our discussions go beyond work based on a million topics about each other’s lives, relationships, likes and dislikes, families, habits and what not. Team lunches are perhaps the best time of the day!!

A lot of what I have told you can be attributed to the leader of the team (TL). My TL has been an absolute dream, leading the team by example at every stage. Her passion for perfection is contagious. She will keep cribbing about how tired she is of working and yet stay back till 11PM for an entire week to set things right for others in the team, when it is truly none of her business. She is so approachable that you don’t hesitate to ask the stupidest of questions related to work and everything otherwise. She even once mentioned “Mujhse koi kyun nahin darta? (Why don’t you people get scared of me?)” Frankly we have never reached a stage where she needs to resort to scolding people so the question of getting scared is never a possibility. She is an ultra-professional but she maintains a personal touch by surprising you with these handwritten messages on decorated stars to appreciate good work by any one. Imagine, she has even make a good 30 page scrap book for her team member who is leaving the team for good? (Of course, we all chipped in but she was again the coordinator-in-charge)  It is not surprising when you hear a team is as good as its leader. And I say we are good because our reputation to deliver quality work is known and appreciated by our clients.

“Together Everyone Achieves More” is truly what working in groups all about. I am fortunate to have seen the principle work so early in my career.  

There are quite a few myths which Team Aurora has shattered for me.

Myth 1: “You cannot make friends at work.”

Myth 2: “Personal and professional lives should be kept strictly separate from one another.”

Myth 3: “A boss is a two horned devil who derives sadistic pleasure in seeing you slog.”

Myth 4: “Being transparent to your team members gives great windows to your detractors in the team to pull you down.”

Myth 5: “Professional life is all work and no play.”

 PS: Again, it will be foolish to generalize my opinion to all teams at workplace. My only intention was to change the preconceived notions which freshers (not that I am very old to corporate life) have on this front. 

Friday, February 06, 2009

Sorry!

I decided to walk back home from the station since I had reached much before my usual time. It was the usual chaos on the street – crowded streets, traffic jams, blaring horns, screaming street vendors – loads of noise. And the usual remedy to the maddening noise is to shut it out with music from my iPod. 

I was enjoying watching the pandemonium playing in mute, as I slithered through whatever little space which was available on the road. Finally, I was not thinking about anything but just walking. It had been a while since I manage to empty my mind. It was barely three songs before I reached my building, but I didn’t want to go. I decided to walk further away from home. 

On my directionless stroll, I spotted three street urchins, cute little kids, between the ages of three to eight. In tattered clothes and unwashed bodies, they seemed to be a happy bunch. They had found their own little game with a few pebbles and self-created rules. But it didn’t matter to them as long as they were having fun. In the middle of the game, they would remember that they were not here to play but beg – for money, clothes, food, anything which helps them get through the day. They asked me too, I could make out from the movement of their lips. They seemed to be shaping the words “Sa’ab ek rupiya de do na.(sir, give me a rupee please)”  One of them insinuated the other to touch my feet, which she did. But I didn’t give them money. I kept walking until she gave up. 

Around a corner, I saw a grocery store. I had to buy a few items for home, so I stepped in. After having mentally cross checked the memorized list, I approached the cash counter. The thought of those kids struck my mind again, so I got an additional packet of biscuits. It was but a feeble attempt to wash away the guilt due to the stone heartedness I had shown to them.     

On my way back, I stopped over and gave it them. I told them “Baantke khaana.(share it amongst yourself)” They smiled. Seeing the bread in my bag, the other one asked, “bread milegi.” I told her “Yeah ghar ke liye hai. Sorry.” 

I don’t think I needed to explain to her, but I felt obliged. I don’t think I said sorry because I was sorry for what I did, but because I felt sorry for them. 

“Sorry is a funny word”, I said to myself. Once again, my mind was brimming with thoughts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Innate Beauty

Despite being incredibly busy over the past few days, I have managed to find time for many of my favourite activities, which  includes photography (here I go again!). My subjects off late have been varied and mostly natural. And in all I have noticed one common thread - they look more beautiful when they are where they truly belong.

A monkey jumping from one branch to another in a dense forest...another scratching his friend's back to relieve him from his itchiness...flowers that wear colours with textures that only enhance their splendour...a lake that provides a mirror to the sky above and the forest surrounding it...a shoe print in the sand, burying a leaf with ruthless perfection...the lack of sophistication of villagers, that you so want but can't have...or the sun taking  time off from it's boredom of watching over many lives it has brightened in one part, only to see some more in another.

Harder Baby..

Textured

The Sky is Falling!

Embossed

Shy Boy

Saying "c u l8r"

They are sights which give me contentment, put me at peace with myself. They give me company when I want to be alone, help me forget the damage and worries engendered by man on his world. Inspiration comes from the most unlikeliest of things, living or eternal! The least I can do is not overlook it. 

To see more of what I saw and loved, click here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Slumdog Debate


After having won four Golden Globes, Slumdog Millionaire has made its way to the headlines of the newspapers. Brickbats and praise, both have come in plenty. Brickbats because of the apparent one-sided portrayal of the country as a religiously torn, poverty stricken economy where the second name for life is struggle. Praise because of it's fluent story telling, cinematographic brilliance, and most of all the fact that it is a masala movie made with technical perfection. A.R.Rehman is particularly brilliant with the background score, ensuring that the Indian touch is not lost while making a international film.

As most people know by now, the films tells the story of Jamal Malik through the questions of the game show "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" The fact a slum dweller could answer questions which leave even the most prepared puzzled cannot be digested by the arrogant host of the show. He calls for a police investigation. The story is told by the protagonist in the course of his interrogation, in the form of how he knows all the answers. There is joy, struggle, pain, honesty, romance, hope and simplicity in the narrative, a complete entertainer beautifully woven with the technical prowess which the combined Western and Indian crew brings to the movie.

I am writing not to review the film but to question the arguments of the brickbat throwers. Yes, it shows the negatives of our country, but it never says there is no upside to our country. If the movie shows the plight of child beggars, it is bringing to the forefront their troubles, which sadly not many Hindi movies have done in the past. It shows religious intolerance, which has been an ugly but living reality of our supposedly secular democracy. The movie may not portray the India of the 21st century, but it does portray the reality of a forgotten but existent part of our country. Moreover it embodies the survival spirit of every Indian, the struggle which we face in our life, the dreams which we see with open eyes. As exaggerated as it may seem, we can connect with it.

It is not the 'awesomest' movie ever. I have seen better movies than this.But it is an awesome movie in it's own right. One must see it with no prejudices. I don't guarantee you will like it, but you will surely say it's different.

Friday, January 09, 2009

It doesn't even matter

Life has more twists and turns than the most exciting of movies. And not one of us can gainsay that. Whether it is fair, is a different question. But if it was always fair, then the world would have more happiness than it could handle. Life would have become boring in utopia. The irony today is that it is this boredom which we all seek. And we are all right in doing so. Just that some times, we get the cake, other times we get the cherry.

Like today morning, I knew I had done well. My belief was further strengthened by the official results. I was one of the top 2700 from a set of 270000 who took an exam. I thought I deserved a call. But they did not. I thought I will sail through, but the script was written differently.

I was happy when I saw my CAT score card. 95.1, 97.37 and 96.67 percentile in the three sections and 98.91 overall. In my opinion the score was good enough for a call. But the happiness was short-lived. As I scrolled down the sheet, I had not one call from any of the seven IIMs.

I cleared all the preliminary cut off criteria of at least four out of the seven institutes.How could I have missed all seven then? I was hopeful there will be a mistake somewhere, some undetected bug in the system, some problem with my machine. But nothing. It remained what it originally was.

After taking the better half of the day off from work due to my completely distracted frame of mind, I realized that I was not alone. There were others who had shared a similar fate. The exam was just one of the many factors. It always was, but not until people were given a chance to prove themselves in an one-on-one interaction. Now they had taken that opportunity away from us. We were going to be judged on the performance in our 10th,12th and graduation only on the basis of our marks, notwithstanding the fact that they are not the truest indicators of intelligence. Work experience would be measured in terms of quantity, and not quality. We would not get a chance to showcase many other skills that could have proven us to be better managers than many others who did.

All the faith I had before CAT, all the celebration after CAT, all the expectations from the result, nothing matters today. You either have a call or you don't, and I am on the latter side. It hurts more when you are at striking distance.

A tiger can go hungry for days, if he miscalculates a hunt, but that doesn't stop him from hunting again. I will be back too, hungrier than ever before, after I have overcome the tiredness of the hunt. And that will be soon, with a better strategy for the elusive prey.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Recognized

I have just been given my first blog award by the ever smiling Vishesh for reasons mentioned on his blog. From whatever Jane's blog tells me,  Premio Dardos means ‘prize darts’ in Italian and that it is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing on this blog. I am honoured. This is my first award and I am naturally feeling great about it. Thank you. 

As the tradition of the award goes, we must share the appreciation we receive. So I am going to give it to the following bloggers whose writings, according to me, have stood true to the essence of this award.

Vishy: For the most sincere and subtle writings about the thoughts of a desi in America and his attitude of a believer. More so, for being passionate about his photoblog, though it technically doesn't meet the preconditions of this award. 

Astrodominie: For her clever and thought provoking writing and grammatical perfection.

Anshul:For making wit the flavour of his Brain-Stuck, which is completely based on illustration through comics.

Priya: For priceless crap she comes up with on her day-to-day life, which surprisingly is a lot of fun to read. (Priya is currently on a sabbatacial and I am hoping that this gets her back to writing soon)

Neilina: For taking you on a journey through her poems and scribblings.  I have just recently started following her blog and I have taken a liking to it. 

That will be it from my side. Please don't forget to spread the love if you have got some from my side. Do recognize the blogs which you think are good.

PS: Copy paste the picture wherever you want in your blog with links to my blog and the people who you pass it on too. In case, I have made an error in linking your name to your blog, let me know. I hope Vishesh has read this. Hehe.