Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mumbai trip- day 1

I had been to Mumbai for the May day weekend.At the end of it,I realised that I needed another weekend to recover from this long weekend!That is the pace of the mega metropolis that I was hit with.

The sights and sounds of this big city can be pretty unnerving for the mellowed souls.Such is the expanse of humanity and speed of life,that I didn't even realise how my three days were spent.

It was a great feeling to touchdown on Mumbai's CST airport on a Friday evening.I still remember trying to figure out the way to a cabstand, and like with most metros around the world,this one too had a system.More importantly,it worked!I hopped onto a cab and as we exited the airport terminal,a cop readily stopped us and asked me something in Marathi, which obviously was Greek and Latin to me!The cabwala helped out and at the end of the "translation", it transpired that the cop wanted to know just where I was headed.All I needed to say was Powai!:)

Anyway,we got onto the Western Express highway, which was to be my first glimpse of a city in the grind i.e.every single pebble and slice of mud was dug up right along the way from the airport to Powai.It was amazing that my cab driver actually managed to keep the relic Fiat car on its four wheels,what with oscillations at every 5 feet on the street.But I actually was enjoying it.Very soon,as we hit the exit into Andheri,the typical Radio Mirchi channel came on.I just smiled at the cab driver and told him to increase the volume.Reason?There was a Kishore Kumar special going on and I just loved the combination of a long cab drive and a Kishore da special.

As the cab chugged along,I transported myself into Kishore land and just reached a trance,only to be woken up by my mobile phone!My cousin wanted to know where I was!!:)Anyway,told him that I was in a cab that was hanging on for its dear life and should be home in some time!Poor guy,he had cooked some authentic north Indian food for me,that too without garlic!Just the way I like it!Of course,I followed up this call with a quick buzz to my dear Mumbai friend in Andheri,and fixed up a lunch date with her the next day!She is the famous tall girl that I once wrote in my article on!:)

Finally,made it to my cousin's place at 10 p.m., only to discover that my cousin hadn't returned from office.He belonged to the breed of Mumbai professionals who drove early in the morning from Powai to Nariman Point and drove back the same distance,when people were just retiring for the day!Anyway,caught up with his wife and was chatting away to glory with her, with my stomach grumbling.I was starving!We had dinner!

I got up at 9 a.m. the next morning and met my cousin for the first time in a year.Had breakfast and walked down to the pool in the apartment complex with the whole family.Two year old kiddo jumped into the pool with her mom and screamed and smiled and then never left the water!She was so adorable and cute!:)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Of stock market crashes and emotions

So,the Sensex tanked more tan 800 points today.Big deal is my reaction.The game is just the same as with anything in life.Nothing is permanent,nothing is elusive,and nothing is what it is always believed to be.There are going to be cycles of ups and downs in every walk of life,and the stock market is no exception.

I do not understand the hue and cry that is made about the singular movements of the stock markets.Ok,its a great avenue to get rich,but I somehow feel that cyclical movements of markets can still be understood and controlled.But there are many other events in our lives that have no repair or remedy,if its as impactful as a 800 point crash on the Sensex!The sooner we learn to rationalise this difference between the "man-made" world and the "internal world of a human being", the easier it will be for us to look at life beyond fund portfolios and ROI.At the end of the day,while it is important to make money,it is possibly more important to learn to be happy and exercise that learning by actually being happy.

Rebirth of my weekly column

I never believed in rebirth till recently.The editor of my website where I have been writing for the last 3 years wrote to me saying that another set of editors have agreed to take the website ahead and keep the show going.We had to stop the website for the last few months due to the pressures of logistics and demands of individual professional careers.

But when I received that email that another couple is going to run the show now,I felt relieved.I almost felt that a part of me had been reinstated after having taken a sabbatical!!:)

Great to be back into the writing mould now.I will now have the excitement,worry,tension,thrill,and romance of figuring out ways to write newer things every seven days.Should keep me on my toes though!!!:)

The essence of Bangalore

I went home last weekend.It was a mesmerising feeling to get down at Cantonment station for a few minutes,sit on the bench on the platform and inhale the fresh morning air.It was a divine moment that I just did not want to end.Those few moments made me relate to the old saying that there is nothing like home on this planet.The aroma of the morning,the freshness of the early dawn,and the early morning birds and crickets around with there tweety-beety sounds were an exhilirating experience.And in the midst of all this,the early morning tea was perhaps the most blissful moment in the last fortnight.

Hats of to the simple things in life.They matter more than any of the so-called "big things".I am convinced of that.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tamil Nadu Elections

I have been living in Chennai for 15 months now and the election fever has been brewing up over the last 3 months or so. But I am amazed that in a highly polarised politcal framework in India, Tamil Nadu still has to choose between one amongst two alternatives. Maybe that is good in a way, as the voter has limited options, unlike elections elsewhere, which have some unknown parties making tall promises.

In its own way, the political climate of Tamil Nadu reminds me of the two party system in the West. People will vote only if you can deliver there (though that may not always work in Indian conditions!).But at least, the voter is sure about what he is getting by casting his vote in favour of one party over the other. We have therefore seen tremendous competition in this Tamil Nadu election, with both parties (DMK and AIADMK) trying to woo the voter with numerous freebies. I recall a question that one of the journalists covering these elections posed to a political leader i.e.” Have you worked out the economics of these freebies?". Fair question, I thought. But it was obvious from the politician's facade that he couldn't care less, except ensure that he completed his mandate of getting his quota of the votes. Freebies are a very temporary way of getting people to vote. Just like a blue-chip stock, the inherent value of a political party to deliver is what will help anyone in power sustain durable advantage and contribute to the development of the state. While that may be the view of the educated lot, I guess the same may not be true of everyone else. I may be wrong there, as a number of the rural folk these days, yet, the chances of wooing them with freebies are higher.

But I must say that these new IIT guys have caught my attention. They do not have the bandwidth and resource pool of the bigger political parties in the state, but they sure have created ripples of things to come. There have been many conversations in and around Chennai where people do not question the intent of this young brigade and do see them shaping up into something substantial in the coming years.

I just hope at the end of the day, the party that comes to power does something concrete and delivers. I wonder if corporatisation of political parties is a good idea. This might just bring in more accountability and transparency in their operations, both pre-election and post-election. This corporatisation issue might be of interest to the journalist fraternity, especially in these days of "panel of experts"!

Finished five years work ex today

I don't know how I am feeling right now.All I know is that I finished five years post PGDBA work experience today.Its been one big,interesting journey.From days of being clueless,to managing nightmarish bosses,to working with peers and seniors who taught me the ropes,to meeting client expectations now,it sure has been an interesting journey.

Possibly the biggest lesson I have learnt in these five years is to have a peaceful sleep at night with a clear conscience.I am glad that I have managed it unfailingly in this early part of my career and there is possibly nothing more satisfying than a good night's sleep - however bad the day may have been!:)And trust you me,there have been some really bad days.But the good far outweigh the bad,so I guess I will take that.

I will never forget my first year out in the big,bad corporate world.Was hurled into assignments that I was clueless about and hardly had any navigation path.Didn't know what to talk,how much to talk,what is politically correct,what is politically incorrect,what to divulge,what not to divulge,how does one manage holidays,how the boss is not always right even though he may claim to be,etc.

Its all been a great learning experience.Especially,living alone in a different city and standing on my own feet has been nothing short of a live-MBA in itself.I call it a live-MBA,because of the real-world lessons that living alone has taught me - cost management,budgeting,time management,people management(landlords,servant maids,autowalas etc),resource management,skills development,multi-tasking,overdelivering after underpromising.

But the sheer freedom to do things my way,learn things the hard way and be better off from the experience has given me the confidence to make the full utilization of my persona in exceptionally tough times.These lessons should keep me in good stead for the rest of my career.