Sunday, December 21, 2008
This is one of those goody-goody trips: free tickets, accommodation taken care of, friends to hang out with, places to see, X'mas and New Year season, shopping time, looking at the development in the neighbouring regions of India and checking out a completely new set of people - Chinkis and Malays!!:). From what I hear from my friends, all Chinki babes look alike, and one can never decipher how young or old they are: a 40 years old Chinki woman will look exactly like a 24 year old Chinki hottie!:).
Let's see what the trip has in store. Am looking forward to the cultural nuances of the trip as well - the similarity to Indian food, Tamil being a second language, tons of Indians in these 2 places, a cusp between the West and the East, shopping delights, concrete jungles and a way of life that is unique to these 2 cities.
More on this, once I get back from the trip.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
What would one do when a person who is 2.5 times your age accuses you of things that have no basis? Especially when you have extraordinary counter proof to tell them, that they are wrong. The matter gets accentuated when people such as these are arrogant, have a temper of a lion and an attitude of "only I am right; rest of the world is a bunch of fools". In such a scenario, I firmly believe that such people need to be dealt with head on. They need to be told that they are not as perfect as they consider themselves to be. They need to firmly told that others can also be right. More than anything else, such people need to be firmly dealt with.
The chances are that such people will still not buckle down and take the stand, "how dare he talk to me like that? You are half my age?", etc. But, one needs to be extremely strong mentally to take on such people. To fight till the finish; especially when one's very existence is challenged, questioned, insulted and rebuked, with absolutely no basis whatsoever.
Nobody has any business to be accusing anyone else personally; that too, without a single fact in hand. And more so, when the person being accused has enough ammunition in the form of facts, to throw at the accuser, that make all such allegations fall flat on their face.
The matter gets gravitated when one's very own tends to leash out at you, for no fault of yours. That's when, I believe, that content, structure and facts need to be used very carefully, to let the person know not to mess around with you. This is because, emotions have no play when one is dealing with a situation of being accused of flawed personality or character.
Fighting for one’s rights is an extremely big test of a person’s temperament, character, will power and ability to prove to “interested” parties, not to mess with them. It becomes even more critical, when the battle is one-on-one i.e. the person hates YOU the most, and gets along famously with most other human beings (for NO fault of yours).
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I will never forget that moment when the gates opened, and soldiers from either country had that regal guard of honour, hoisting flags, singing their respective national anthems, and so on. Most of all, people from either side of the border rose in unision when some famous Bollywood songs were played. There was thus, a classical people-to-people contact that I had only heard about on national television. I will never forget that moment when I saw tall Pakistani pathans, dressed in authentic 'sherwani-types' of attires, with long beards and a smile that was worthy of a model for a toothpaste advertisement!
There is another part of Pakistan I love and admire. That is the set of sporting and political icons that this politically damaged country has churned out over the years. Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, that all-conquering left-handed genius, Wasim Akram who I had the great fortune of seeing up, close & personal in a sports competition in Bangalore. How can I forget the elegant Benazir Bhutto. Hell, she went to Harvard! And had so much grace! And the Pakistan that loves a Shahrukh Khan or produces a Nusraft Fateh Ali that delights and unifies people from both sides of the border. Cultural unification, I guess. Sheer appreciation of art and talent on display. No artificial bifurcations.
But, there is the other side of Pakistan. The Pakistan, that bombs innocent parts of the world. The Pakistan that has no democracy. The Pakistan that has such severe military interference that the average citizen possibly does not know who real Government is - the civilian, 'elected' folks or the men with the guns and uniforms in the military. Not to mention, the famous terrorist training camps that the world keep reiterating as being housed in Pakistan. Of the immense access to underworld dons that these terror outfits enjoy. Or, the unforgettable and sadly, indefatiguable connections with (though unproven, I guess) Al-Qaeda and the likes. Or the Taliban. And so on...
These are the two sides of Pakistan that I know. And given a choice, I would clearly opt for the first one that I have described here. Its a far greater option in this generation of terrorism.
I just hope that we are able to unite in this grief (Mumbai), such that we are able to root out the part of Pakistan that nobody likes (or wants).
Time for introspection, for both countries, as to what future do we want to leave the sub-continent to contend with.
Never before in the history of the country has there been such public outcry against the politicians. These people in positions of power, running policy matters and saving their own fiefdom have never been bombarded by the wrath of public opinion. People hate politicians. People are asking answers from the powers-that-be. People in India are demanding accountability. There are public marches being staged in the heart of Mumbai city with people telling politicians never to come to Bombay city ever again. Indians are questioning politicians about where the tax money eventually goes? People are asking politicians about the merit of their z-security.
Adding fuel to fire, is the ridiculous and insensitive remarks made by the politicians. Some nerds had the nerve to say, "these sorts of bomb attacks happen in big cities". Good thing is, he was fired from his exalted position of Deputy Chief Minister & State Home Minister of Maharashtra, the next day. Another politician, a Chief Minister of a state at that, had the gall to tell the father of a martyr, who laid down his life in the fight against terror, that "even a dog would not come to your house". Good thing is, this Chief Minister faced public wrath and was summarily dismissed from the residence of the martyr's residence; hope he is fired soon, as well.
In all this, people are asking questions and taking things into their own hands. The phenomenal success of www.jaagore.com makes a lot more sense in the current times of terror. There are scores of people-driven initiatives happening in the country, such as assembling people in different localities together, getting things such as car pooling to beat traffic congestion and so on. Things which the politicians are supposed to provide the average citizen of India, is now slowly getting away from them, as poeple are taking things into their own hands.
Jaago India, jaago, indeed. To hell with politicians. I am more than confident that the Indian public is going to summarily screw political careers built over many decades, in the democratic elections in March 2009. What is refreshing in these times is that the new crop of politicians - the educated, well-travelled, forward-looking and extremely global set of intellectuals - are talking about a revolt against their seniors. Maybe, just maybe, these are the kinds of politicians that the youth of India will work for. And throw away the forts built by the 70 and 80 year olds, who can barely make a contribution anymore to the country.
There is hope, in this crisis too.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
What struck me the most was the abject poverty there. The utter disconnect that people in this half of the city had with the rest of the world. Old, old, old buildings, that nearly looked like they would fall off any minute. Clothes hanging from balconies. I saw potters, barbers, carpenters, cobblers, and the like. I even saw masons yelling at their workers who were lifting cement bags and other commodities onto carts.
There was a certain silence in these parts. As if, they were asking, "what wrong have we done, to be summarily dismissed and not included in India?" Some of the buildings I saw really scared me - they had flags of a few political parties hanging out of the windows. I was left wondering whether these politicians knew about these citizens and were doing nothing about their upliftment, or had people just given up and had no chance of revolting against these politicians. Sad, sad, sad.
I so desperately wanted to go on a boat ride on the Hooghly river, but lack of time did not allow me to do that. There is a certain melancholy about the Howrah and surrounds that is hard to capture in words. There is dirt on the roads, there is pollution in the locality, there is acute poverty around, there are dilapidated buildings that look close to run-down, people seem to get on with their lives with no great ambition but to ensure that they make their two ends meet. Two square meals a day seemed to be a luxury in this locality. I suffocated in the 2-3 hours that I was there and I can only imagine the health of these citizens in this sort of a very, very unhealthy locality -sure place for an epidemic to break out.
The irony is that, as soon as I came out of the Howrah bridge, I noticed that the main road leads into the Chief Minister's office - the Writer's Buildings, as they are famously called. I was left wondering whether these power centres were even bothered about doing something to provide a basic livelihood for these parts of neglected Calcutta.
I had rented a cab for day 2 of my trip in Calcutta. And I had a Bihari driver for company. His Hindi was so classical and different from the Hindi that the average Bengali spoke. He gathered pretty quickly that I was not from these parts and took me right around the city, showing me famous buildings and other locations of import. Very helpful chap, who validated a lot of the stuff that I had read up on the internet. And it also added to my knowledge of the city.
I spent the afternoon of my second day in Calcutta at the Science Museum. Fantastic place and a must-see for everyone who visits this metropolitan city. It has 3-D shows, a space show that talks about the solar system and how the sun impacts things in life, rockets, information about all the planets in the universe, GSLV, PSLV etc. Big domes that have graphics of science and definitions of scientific terms. Good place for kids too and to expose them to the world of science.
Now to the last bit. The Calcutta cops. These guys essentially adorn a white uniform and a white helmet. What stood out for me was that this uniform and helmet stays white, despite the heat and dust that the city throws up. I could sight cops from a distance, merely because of their attires. Phenomenally maintained! Or, for lack of better explanation, they use detergents well in the Calcutta police force!
The trip was also my first glimpse of a yellow cab in Indian roads. The only other place that I had seen them was in New York city. However, I felt these Calcutta cabs were far more reasonable than their Big Apple counterparts! I remember, that cabbie who asked me for an extra ten rupees, just because it was late at night and he had to drop me to the other end of the city. Forget, New York, any other Indian city would have fleeced me at that time of the night. That, in itself is a measure of the city - simple, uncomplicated, and living life on their own terms to a degree. What with extensive opinion on everything that happens in this country and the interest that people have for art, science, law and other finer nuances of life.
Well, my recent trip to Calcutta, rounded off the only metropolitan city that I had not been to, in India. And it lived up to its reputation. Staying at Salt Lake City, going in the famous yellow taxis and the underground metro train and into the new and old city, was an experience in itself.
The city is very crowded though. But the difference between the rush in Calcutta and the rush I find in other Indian cities lies in the pressure that people place on themselves to have a life outside of office. People have time here, or, ensure that they create time for themselves and their loved ones. Of course, during winter the sun sets at 5 p.m., so that helps matters, as people get home really early. There did not seem to be a concept of long hours here and extensive high-pressure life. During the day, I found many people sitting along the maidan area and watching club cricket. This form and league of cricket is taken very seriously here, and many a punter is debated, discussed and disputed at these clubs. The grounds are massive too, much bigger than I am accustomed to seeing back home in Bangalore.
Perhaps the star attraction of the city is the Victoria Memorial (VM). A phenomenal architectural wonder that has a museum with flavours of sculpture, paintings, photographs, Indian freedom fighters, evolution of Calcutta. There is a tremendous amount of history in this building too - frames and sculptures of British rulers, kings, viceroys, etc don the ramparts of this museum at different spots. Some names I remember are Lord Curzon, Lord Dalhousie. The highlight of them all, is the fantastic sculpture of Queen Victoria - standing tall, with a bright smile and overlooking the entire museum, right from the centre of the main hall. Great sight. It almost made me wonder, how could such a good-looking woman, be part of such a brutal agenda to rule us for 180 years!
The VM is quite spectacular at dusk, and even better at night. It overlooks the horizon of downtown Calcutta in a manner of royalty, that I have possibly only seen in New Delhi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Fantastic! And white marble, well-lit, in the evening, is a great sight!
Of course, my trip had its fair share of drama. I lost my cellphone! As I stood at the main gate of the VM and was busy clicking photographs, I guess my phone fell somewhere. Only after I got to the nearest railway station to get back to my guest house, did I realise that I had lost my 15 day old phone! So much for loving something so dearly in life - more often than not, it goes away from me. Sigh!
The drama didn't end with the lost phone. Given the recent coverage on the Bombay terror attacks, the last thing I ever wanted was my phone getting into the hands of some untoward elements in an alien city. So, I went up to the cops and reported the loss of my phone. They hardly spoke Hindi, and I didn't know a word of Bengali! It was quite amusing for me to speak Hindi slowly and try to get my point across to the cops. I have an observation about the cops, which I will write about later. Finally, I hopped onto the police van and went to the nearest police station and lodged an FIR, about the loss of my phone. It was such an old building, with even older furniture and files. No information technology in the Calcutta police forces, for sure!
In between all this, I must say that I had a good glimpse of modern Calcutta. I went around the maidan region, saw the famous Eden Gardens from the outside, the B.C.Roy Club House, and the Cricket Association of Bengal. Names that I had seen on television for years and which I had associated with the likes of Jagmohan Dalmiya and Saurav Ganguly. It was refreshing to see so many upcoming cricketers playing in the vicinity in the massive maidan region, trying to follow their heroes and make it to the top. I got the sincere feeling that this modern part of Calcutta strongly encouraged sports and had so many facilities for the club cricketers to display their wares, right outside the Eden Gardens. What was disappointing for me was the fact that I was not permitted into the Eden Gardens for the tourist visit. Of course, courtesy, the recent Bombay terror attacks. Anyway, just another one of those long-cherished things in my life, that didn't happen.
This part of Calcutta had corporate offices, five star hotels, small malls, restaurants, lounge bars, and a number of foreigners. My next stop was Park Street, which I felt was a striking replica of some of the main downtown areas in Bombay, like the Fort area. Old historical British buildings, head offices of famous companies, host of people running from pillar to post in the regular rush of their lives, roadside juice bars, famous landmarks such as St. Xaviers' College, Archbishop's Residence and so on. A mix of the old British life and the modern Calcutta, trying to put its best foot forward in a competitive world. I also felt that this was the only part of Calcutta that was possibly not affected so much by the crony socialism that the entire state of West Bengal is famous for. Maybe, I had the forward-looking eyes of the Indian youth, that this struck me. But, I am pretty sure that, this would be the observation that anyone makes about Park Street.
As I finally got back to Salt Lake City, trying to balance the rush on the metro and my need to be on time for a wedding reception at the Lake Club, I was greeted by the Calcutta traffic. Scores and scores of vehicles going from the expensive part of the city (Park Street & the like), to their respective homes. What was good about this traffic though was that it was free-flowing. The roads are quite wide in the main streets of Calcutta. Any average main road could accommodate 3-4 lanes at least.
On my return to the guest house, I quickly changed into my new red kurta and headed out to the Rowing Club, apparently, a famous landmark in the city. Took some time to get there, but, eventually did. Sprawling lake, and a fantastic setting to host a wedding reception. Thankfully, my friend had invited very few people, so it was not very crowded. I ended up being a topic of conversation, as nobody around had come in all the way from Bangalore! That made a few heads (read, Bengali girls!) bob towards me. I wasn't complaining, given that they were all looking so good! Enough number of them came over to me and mentioned that they were particularly appreciative of my trip all the way from Bangalore to Calcutta. I should thank my close friend for inviting me over, I guess!!:)
One thing I must say is that Bengalis are very proud people and their women take pains to look beautiful. The difference between the Calcutta version of beauty and the Delhi type of beauty is the natural flavour of these Bengalis. I never found even a single Bengali girl over-dressed, or smacked with a few litres of lipstick. They just seemed to be adept at carrying themselves very well, and their grace just added to the beauty. Maybe, just maybe, the fact that I found Bengali women more intellectual and possessing a good ability to carry on a conversation well, made them appeal to me a lot more!
Anyway, coming back to the reception, I made a couple of new friends there and we were talking about the recession and the politicians and the Bombay terror attacks. A couple of them were busy marketing the modernity of Calcutta in the form of a few interesting malls in the city, as a close competitor to Bangalore's growth story! Made for interesting conversation though.
I did not forget to have the famous rosagollas and sandesh sweets at the reception. Slurp! Simply terrific!
Move on to day 2 of my trip, in my next piece!
Fantastic words. Refreshing words. And words that echo the thoughts of teeming millions in the country. There has been incredible angst and curses hurled at the senior parliamentarians in New Delhi. The average citizen has become tired of the same old names doing the rounds in the Indian political system for so many years. The worst situation is that these politicians are on the other sie of 60 or 70, and are still power-hungry. They will do anything to get their votes, hold on to their seat and boss around, with nil accountability.
To see these 2 young, vibrant, ambitious, pragmatic and well-educated Bombay politicians this evening prompted a thought on national television. A thought, that perhaps, it would do the country a world of good, if we manage to elect these sorts of forward-looking and constructive youngsters, who are not thawed by the experience of dirty politics, and may yet be our best hope of reconstructing India, from the debris that it finds itself in.
Enough, again, is enough.
Monday, December 01, 2008
There was one more comment - by a veteran Mumbaikar, who frequents the Taj hotel often. She asked all politicians to stay away from Mumbai and went on to add that they should be stripped of their security and that the Government does not deserve the taxes that she pays(and so do millions of others in India).
I couldn't agree more with these extreme suggestions made in the unprecedented times that we find ourselves in. If the politician is stripped of his own security for some time and is exposed to the "normal"situation that all of us face every day, there MIGHT be some hope of the realisation dawning on them. Moreover, if these politicians do not get their money from the public in the form of taxes for a short-term, say, a quarter, it will choke the government machinery. Sure ways of letting these ridiculous powers-that-be are elected by us to know that they are accountable and answerable to the public. If not, like in the private sector, if you don't perform, go home.
The worst of them all was the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, R.R. Patil. The man had the insensitive nerve to state that "these sorts of attacks happen in big cities". I silently thought to myself, "how I wish he had lost someone near and dear to him, had his house burgled, not to mention, been denied his security cover". Moron! Thank God, he was asked to leave by his bosses. About time too!
In all this, I am convinced that the Government does not deserve my taxes. I mean, here I am slogging 15-18 hours a day for super demanding clients and then paying taxes every month when my salary comes. So do many companies that produce goods; so do millions of other people like me. And I am sure, that almost all of us in India, expect some basics - roads, lesser traffic jams, a police force that works, security and so on. Just the basics.
Forget about GDP growth of 8% - we as individuals are smart enough to work hard and make our country grow. But, if my taxes do not even give me the basic things in my life, this sort of a government does not deserve my taxes.
Enough is indeed, enough.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Let me put this in perspective, as to why I think the choice of these locations for terror mean so much to me. These are parts of Mumbai that the world sees, when foreigners enter India. The minute someone enters Mumbai through the Gateway of India, one sees the towering structure of this 106 year old building. Like every television journalist has been screaming, this building is not just another building in Bombay. Its a building that makes a difference. Its the sign of how India has transformed itself over the last 100 years. Yes, its an old building, but its majestic, stylish, classy, and immensely loved by every discerning Indian. It attracts the who's who of India and the world - politicians, prices, emperors, heads of state, CEOs, senior managers, investors, journalists and so on. The Taj also accommodates every fabric of Indian society - workers from every class of the society work in this grand monument. It hosts shows that impact decisions on future investments and growth in our nation. There are 5 major financial institutions near the Taj, and many other corporates whose executives spend much of their productive time in this magnificent building, nay, monument. The Taj is not just another five star hotel - it has so much history and is a symbol of national pride.
I had more than just a lump in my throat when I saw the different parts of the Taj going up in blames. I had immense sorrow and grief to see the Oberoi hotel being held to ransom. What's more, I remember going on a long walk behind the Taj and into Colaba; while I am not sure if I crossed the Nariman House, I am pretty sure I would have seen it during my trips to Mumbai. Those long evenings that I used to sit opposite the Gateway of India, digesting the breeze and fresh air from the ocean behind me and looking at the magnificent Taj in front of me, is my lasting memory of this great monument.
But, the good thing is, this great structure is still there. And make no mistake about it, the next time I make a visit to Bombay, I will make my customary visit to the Gateway, and do the same thing that I did last time & every other time in Bombay i.e. eat bhelpuri or grab some groundnuts, and sit on that same stone and look at this great monument, with greater pride. You terrorist, you ain't killing any Indian's passion for a new India (be it a Mumbai-ite or anyone from outside Mumbai like me).
I will be back at the Taj and go on my walk across the Oberoi, next time I get to Bombay. Make no mistake about it!
Before I sign off, hats off to the NSG and all the other security forces who nailed those militants. It may have taken time, but hats off to them. And yes, a vast majority of them were north Indians, Mr. Raj Thackeray!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I have been thinking about how to circumvent this madness and am convinced that we need to find a way to use the Indian skies more efficiently. Why can't we fly to office? Ban all the buses, shuttles, rickshaws and other forms of public transport on the road. Instead, get the government to invest in chopper services that have a point-to-point operation i.e. home to office and back. Need not fly from your doorstep, but a group of surrounding neighbourhoods deciding a central spot from where they could take a flight to office. Make the public pay for this service - try to make it a volume game and keep the pricing affordable.
This might work exceptionally well for folks in our IT industry, who are either concentrated in Whitefield or in ITPL. Or, increasingly concentrated in Hebbal. Three major blocks in Bangalore city. Which means, we can have fixed take-off timings in the morning to these 3 blocks in say 250 seaters, from different parts of the city. Ok, in order to accommodate flexi-timings of various companies and their work timings, try and plan 3 take-off times the morning to these 3 blocks - say, one at 7 a.m, one at 8 a.m and one at 10 a.m. Similarly, for the return journey, 5 p.m., 7 p.m and 9 p.m.
Such a system will eradicate pollution, transit time and also act as an immensely productive and faster mechanism of commute within the city. Not to mention, save the public the ignominy of suffering a Deve Gowda and his public excesses, time and again!
I will never forgive this man. He made me sit in my shuttle for 3.5 hours & made me miss my client calls. Forget me - thanks to the excesses of this man's celebration of his party's program in downtown Bangalore, little kids were left starving in the middle of nowhere for hours on length. I mean, imagine a school kid who would have left his/her school premises at the regular time of 4.30 p.m, still struggling to reach home at 10 p.m. - hungry, crying, tired, and super worried to see his/her parents. Not to mention, the paranoid parents across the city.
I just wish that there is way to curb the excesses of this man. I firmly believe that he has gotten away with his clout around the state and national politics for far too long, without an iota of accountability for his actions. Worse still - he has been booted out of state politics in the last Assembly election, when every discernible Bangalorean that I know of vowed to show him the door. Yet, the man has not learnt his lesson and is far from humble.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
We are Tamilians, and it is but natural for folks at home to watch the action on Sun TV and other regional Tamil channels. We have obviously lived in Bangalore all our lives, and I can therefore understand my parents' need to stay connected with the state where they migrated from all those decades back - Tamil Nadu.
But, I personally hate that channel called Sun TV - thankfully, I never have the time to watch TV, but the audio reaching your ear is not something you can avoid, even if I manage to avoid viewing the visuals on these channels. Sun TV in particular is a disaster -I have never heard anything positive in that channel. It has a perennial cry-baby tone, depressing musical tones, movies that harp on the super emotional high drama (read tears), overdressed anchors, etc. The channel also makes a farce when it tries to be super modern whilst being ultra-traditional - pretty sad, at doing that balancing act.
What I hate the MOST about this channel is its ability to pervade depression - due to the types of things I have mentioned above. Never have I heard anything positive in that channel, and I find that the more the folks on this channel cry, the greater is its "attempt" to entertain.
High time these guys in-charge of programming schedule and choice of programmes, does something to show something more positive. I just hate to hear (am gonna get earplugs, to avoid the audio as well!) such depressing music at such loud decibels that just adds to the "depression" around. As it is we have enough going on in the world, with falling stock markets, eroding networths, recession, depression, Somalia, hunger, poverty, and what have you. I don't think we need this channel that plays on sheer melodrama, and passes it off as entertainment. It is purely depressing. I seriously think that people over the age of 60 need not be dished out this sort of entertainment, that just brings down tears in their eyes and plays on melodrama again and again.
Ok,I am young and will not understand or appreciate that sort of melodrama, because I fundamentally dislike it and disapprove of it. At the same time, I firmly believe that melodrama(replete with sad music and endless tears on TV), is not good for a retired person's frame of mind. Such people have had a long, hard life and the last thing they need is melodrama to reinforce the types of struggles they had in their lives. It kills the psyche at that age, I am sure. What people at that age need light-hearted entertainment. Not an overkill of melodrama, that too with such high decibels of depressing music.
This blog piece may not go down too well with folks who like Sun TV or like that melodrama. But, its just my point of view and I don't think its wrong to look for better avenues for entertainment, than the type that just has so much of depression steeped in it.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
I am increasingly convinced that the loss of a friendship, especially a sublime,special and ever-lasting one, is a far greater loss than losing the same person in a relationship. Such relationships with one's greatest friend ends up being a double-edged sword, as it promises such a fantastic future together, only to topple not only the relationship, but also the fantastic camaraderie, that exists between 2 people . I am not trying to generalise here, but I am quite convinced that it is never a good idea to lose one's greatest ever friend to a relationship. That can wreck havoc on the psyche, as the aura of companionship that was so much a part of one's life as friends, gets eroded under the ghost of a relationship.
I think the line between friendship and a relationship with one's greatest friend is incredibly fine. And not too many people are good at reading that line. That can have devastating effects on the psyche. This is more damaging as one gets older, and longs for such companionship, only to find that he/she is no longer a part of one's life - neither as a friend/companion, nor as a partner.
It is much better to salvage pride of a friendship and enjoy the incredible camaraderie of such equations between 2 people from the opposite genders. I am convinced that the agony of losing a friendship, especially, a very special one, is far more damaging and leaves a greater void, than does the agony of the relationship going all wrong.
Friendship! Ah, that sublime relationship that teaches you so much about yourself and makes you an enriched human being. Losing it, can mean, losing the sounding board of your life.
Yet, if we were to take a moment to universally accept that if Tuesday is not a good day for Indians to start something new, the same would be the case for a large part of the world. My logical being, human beings are human beings, and what is not so great in the realm of superstition for human beings in one part of the world, should hold true for human beings in other parts of the world too. But, looks like this superstition is getting summarily questioned now, what with the American President's election happening in a couple of days from now - Nov 4, a Tuesday!
So much for superstition! I just wish, we stick to tradition, history et al, and get rid of these sorts of superstitions, because they have no logical bearing. Every day, is a good day. If you think you are good enough to do something on some day, just do it. I mean, if things are expected to go so horribly wrong if you start something on a Tuesday, then why in the wild world do we need that day in the week? May as well see if we can scrap it, right? Hell, anything could go wrong on any day of the week. What's so special about a Tuesday being a sure recipe for disaster? Beyond me, these superstitions are. I just prefer tradition and history, rather than following these mad superstitions, which have no sensible explanation.
I consider myself quite fortunate of having spent 30 seconds next to Anil Kumble at the Bangalore cricket stadium in 1993. This was when he was not so famous. But, even then, I could not resist from going up to him and taking his autograph on a plastic cap that I had. Something about that man was inherently inspiring. I felt it even at that time - all of us are wiser in hindsight. But my gut feel told me about this man's greatness even then. I just felt a sense of immense pride getting his autograph on that Saturday afternoon back in 1993.
Another moment was the Titan Cup in 1997 in Bangalore. He and Srinath single-handedly took India to victory, after Mark Taylor hit his first ODI century. And the scenes in the stadium was a sight to behold. Cheering, even a good defensive shot against the impulsive, super-charged Glenn McGrath.
So, the great man has called it quits today. That too, at his favourite ground, the Ferosha Kotla, New Delhi. I dare say, it was simply terrific to see his family next to him, the entire stadium going up in unison cheering him, and on this occasion, seeing the Aussies credit the great man. It was simply terrific to see such unadulterated and sincere appreciation, respect and pride for a man who played international cricket for us, with such character.
I actually thought I'd have tons to write about this man when he retires. But today, as I see the headlines on the news, I am just lost for words for the manner in which this fine individual conducted himself even in his retirement. Simple, uncomplicated announcement, a last declaration and short stint of 4 overs on his favourite ground, greeting his opponents, fellow-players and umpires and heading out of the ground. The moment of Kumble's retirement at the Kotla has to his holding the Indian cap in his hand and waving it around the ground in his final lap of honour.
Hats off, Anil. Hats off. I am too little to be writing anything about you, except being inspired by you, to make a decent contribution in my own life. Hope to see you at the Bangalore stadium, in the future. I will definitely get your autograph again.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Of course, the other genius - VVS Laxman. MY GOD! That's my reaction to the man's displays of genius on a cricket field. Yes, the game of cricket has a far greater fan following in India, compared to chess. But, the number of genius' in the game, is rather small. VVS for me, is sheer genius. He makes the game look so ridiculously easy. I mean, how can somebody be so calm, completely assured, and still play some strokes that are nothing short of magical? It is beyond me as to how this man is able to lift his game to such levels, especially when people have written his epitaph for the millionth time and, when he plays against the Aussies. There must be something about the Aussies that he likes - it just can't be the pace of their bowling or their fear towards him. He just takes them on, in a way, that belies aggression, but is still merciless. I can never forget that 281 that he scored at the Eden Gardens against the Aussies in 2001. That was a seminal innings for me and taught us (not just cricketers, but Indians at large), that we are capable of routing the best in the world.
And today, 200 not out in Delhi by VVS! Same class, same magic, same genius, just getting better with age - something like old wine I guess.
What intrigues me is the similarity between a Viswanathan Anand and a VVS. Both are genius material in their respective spheres. Both hail from normal, middle-class backgrounds in India. Both have nurtured their talents over many years of training and exposure to world arenas. Both have won against the very best in the world, in the most trying of circumstances. Both of them are the best to watch when on song - irrespective of other champions & other people's records, these 2 are sublime to watch. When both of them play their game, I don't feel like doing anything else, simply because, I don't want to miss their magical contributions. It is like sitting on a Saturday afternoon on a hammock, listening to your favourite music, reading your favourite book, and getting merged with nature (assume for a second, that you are on the countryside) - natural, free-flowing, complete & uninhibited talent on song! Classical, too!
Most of all, they are simple south Indians. I am not making any regional statement here (I am all for uniformity); but, at the end of the day, if they get their normal idly or sambar, that is enough for them. But, how many simple south Indians borde such magic?:). That in itself, should be a theme for another blog.
Hats off Vishy! You make me proud as an Indian -world champion! I hope to get your autograph someday in life & a photograph with you, so that I can tell future generations about the first world chess champion that India produced - say it with pride.
And VVS, when you retire, I will get hold of a DVD of all your famous centuries against the Aussies. I just need to relive the word genius, again and again.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
But the last 3 days have seen Indian dressing at its best on new channels. I have been mesmerised by the choice of fantastic sarees by the female anchors - red, cream, ivory, green, olive green, brown, maroon, orange - every discernible resplendent colour possible. More importantly, I found that these female anchors were able to balance their presence on stage as well as, if not better than, what they normally manage during the rest of the year. Their colourful presence on stage was not at all a distraction, which might be the case at other times!
What I particularly liked was the energy of these anchors. They remained focused on their jobs, spoke with the same level of conviction that they had on other days, and did not make a mess of the paraphernalia that they had brought on to stage - earrings, flowers, nose rings, dupattas, and what have you! The guys were resplendent too - with sherwanis, or kurtas, pyjamas, big red tikas on their foreheads, and so on.
Just reinforced what I have long believed - Indian dressing, is one of the finest fashion statements to make. And increasingly, it is getting blended with some terrific sex appeal! You just need to take a look at Shireen Bahn on CNBC TV 18 on the Diwali night, and you will realise what I mean. Class journalist, who looked astonishingly beautiful, in a red saree. Her smile, just added to the beauty!
Cheers to Indian journalism and Indian anchors, who are seeing value in bringing world news to our doorways, with a very Indian look!
But, this year, I just want to stop and take a reality check on whether it really is a very Happy Diwali. I mean, look at the trials and tribulations that we have been through this year - the Sensex eroded by over half its value, nearly 10 terrorists strikes in every part of India, global slowdown, rupee-dollar equation getting expensive, FIIs selling off billions of dollars and repatriating cash to their motherlands, the big Indo-US nuclear deal was the big headline till it was finally inked, the erosion in sentiment and dollar dreams seen with the demise of the mammoth investment banks on Wall Street thus leading to a revolutionary government intervention in capitalism, etc. There have been just too many bad things happening around.
BUT, I am an optimist and have seen a lot of positives in these trying times as well. India's first individual gold medal at the Olympics and its best ever performance at the great event, Tendulkar scaling the peak of Test match batsmanship, the actual inking of the nuclear deal that will hopefully help India in times to come, Chandrayaan, Aravinda Adiga's Booker Prize putting India again on the world map, Tata -Corus, Reliance and its global plans, HCL - Axon ( 3 M & A deals that laid perspective to Indian corporate ambition!) et al.
I am hopeful on this Diwali day. I have not heard too many crackers near my house this Diwali - but am guessing that it is more a function of people playing their cards of not wanting to pollute the environment. And there is a quiet resilience, even in these trying times, that we will emerge from this fiasco, stronger, bigger and much, much better off than we can possibly imagine
Monday, October 27, 2008
But, never did I imagine the same spirit of nationalism run through my system at the start of a movie, inside a theatre. That's been the trend in Bangalore theatres for a few years now. And I see a transformation happening in the manner in which one regales being an Indian - the theatre owners have secured a fantastic music album consisting of very seasoned vocalists to sing the national anthem with a renewed vigour and spirit. SPB, Lata Mangeshkar, Jagjit Singh, Balamurali Krishna, Asha Bhonsle, Pandit Jasraj etc - names that have stood the test of time in Indian classical music; names that have shaped Indian music worldwide. It was a terrific experience to be witness to the national anthem sung with such passion and national spirit by these legends.
As I listened to the national anthem over the last weekend at Lido theatre, just before the movie Road Romeo began, I felt so nice. And I began to appreciate (for the zillionth time!), what a beautiful composion and tune our national anthem has. Terrific lyrics, just add to the fantastic spell that this great attribute of Indian-ness has, covering various states, rivers, regions, religions etc. Pretty much, the diversity of India, enconsced in this terrific form of Indian spirit!
I also think that it is actually not such a bad idea to play the national anthem in such an interesting manner at the start of a movie. We see it on TV when India takes on different countries in various sports. We see it on Republic Day and Independence Day every year. But, given that all of us are so caught up with our busy lives at all other times, it is good once-in-a-while, to recall our Indian-ness, by listening to one of the greatest assertions of Indian nationality, the national anthem.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The cop started moving away from my car towards the middle of the road. Behind him was a lady who was trying to cross the road but was unable to do so (given the chaos at the signal where I was trying to take a right turn). The cop kept stopping different vehicles that were trying to avoid the signal and with a firm hand, helped the lady cross the street. Very impressive!
We are unforgiving in "chargesheeting" the policeman in India, at their inefficiency etc. But, this was a moment for me to cherish. And a moment that taught me that there is a human side to these cops that is quite never noticed.
Good to see such a cop, in the heat and dust of Indian roads and noisy, restless traffic.
For me, this match was not just about the convincing win over the Aussies. It was about the sense of occasion i.e. Tendulkar's 12000 runs (record breaking effort by the genius!), Saurav's milestone of 7000 Test match runs, et al. But, the moment in the match was Amit Mishra's debut match - what a dream come true for the 25 year old leg spinner. A five wicket haul on debut, against the world's toughest and most formidable team! Brilliant effort and I just hope the Indian selectors give him a long haul and help him build a career.
And the other moments - getting Mathew Hayden when he was merciless on the Indian bowling attack; Zaheer Khan's magical spell on the last day of the match; Tendulkar's diving catch at point and showing us what spirit he has even after 20 years of international cricket;Ganguly's expression of punching the air hard and giving his biggest smile possible on reaching a magnificent 102; Dhoni's super aggressive 92; Gambhir's century coupled with his sublime partnership with Sehwag oof 182 runs for the opening wicket in the second innings etc. Not to mention, the spirit of victory with which they marched ahead into the match and gave Australia no chance whatsoever.
I just hope the ICC can be a little less racist, what with its fine on Zaheer Khan for alleged violation of the spirit of the game. Just because he ran around Hayden and fired a salvo or two, in his spirit of celebration? Crappy ICC!
Great day overall- I just hope we bag the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Delhi on the Diwali weekend. Like Harsha Bhogle wrote in his blog today, India has a Diwali one week in advance! Cheers!!!
And I love it! Its got energy; purpose; sense of occasion;fantastic sense of humour;easy on the heart;and it makes me feel so nice at the end of it all. Especially that one line, "Aditi, hans de, hans de.....tu zara" - that is so typical of a guy trying to cheer up his girl, in every discernible way that he can think of. It is also possibly the expression that would account for the fact that a guy will do anything to see his babe happy & even a frown on her face propels him deep into depression!
Infact, I love this song so much, that my tired legs begin to automatically move whenever I listen to this song, irrespective of where I am (which is usually in a car or a shuttle from/to office, when I hear this song). Every time I listen to this song, it energises me and makes my heart dance. I don't know why, but maybe, because it gives me so much happiness that, in this world of materialism, there are some old world charms still alive & kicking. One such divine charm, is to see your babe happy. Or, even any dear friend of the opposite sex who you get along with famously, happy.
Kabhi Aditi....terrific song! I plan to download this into my iPod, rather than wait for only FM radio to play it!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
But what I definitely feel is that, this market meltdown is a fantastic lesson in the subject of economics. All that I ever studied about markets being imperfect, of artificial prices, of inflation impacting various things, of price elasticity, of stock market movements, of demand and supply et al have seen visual expression for the first time in my life. I always loved economics as a subject - I remember, I turned in the longest answer paper in that subject (10 pages!), back in b-school. And I never ever felt that it was a subject. Every time I studied economics, I felt as if I was reading up on things that happen in day-to-day life (minus the financial crisis, of course).
This meltdown has made me recall all those lessons that I had studied in college. I always used to wonder how a market movement can actually paralyse an economy. In hindsight, I think I was left wondering a bit about the theories (no offence to economists, I admire them!) - in terms of how those big graphs and charts actually panned out in real life. I understood the principle behind the theories very well, but hardly had an idea about the real impact of those intriguing theories. Make no mistake about it - I am talking about folks like Samuelson, Keynes, and the other in economics who I truly admire and respect, and who had penned down some legendary thoughts on economics all those centuries back. The fact that what they wrote all those eons ago hold true, actually seen various cycles - 1929 Depression, 1991 crisis, 2001 recession and many others come to my mind - are testament to the longevity and universal application of this fantastic subject.
I am glad that I studied Economics. It was one of my favourite subjects and I strongly recommend it for students of all streams of academics. I also liked Accounting and Income Tax. But, I found Economics sublime. Almost, a dream subject. I am tempted to do an M.A. in it now and reinforce what I am learning in real life, as it were. I just wish, I had the time!!:(
A recent experience highlighted this difference. My uncle in Delhi made a flying visit to Bangalore and stayed over at our place. And his opening line to me was, " looks like home food suits you!". Clear signs of fattening - as against my dad's claim that I am only 'looking' healthier!! Now, this is the uncle whose house I used to frequent on many a weekend whilst n Delhi. We spent many evenings watching some engaging cricket - be it the flamboyant IPL or test match cricket. Of course, the other commonality was our common passion for chapatis and daal, over rice - despite our being authentic south Indians! Even my aunt held the same beliefs - I guess, they have grown to be more north Indian than I ever did, given that they have lived in Delhi for the last 35 years!
But, coming back to the point of this piece. I think the type of food that I had in Delhi and indeed, all over north India ,never made me put on weight (or, LOOK healthy!). Ok, I was living out of a suitcase and hardly had home food. Of course, I wasn't complaining one bit, except for the work timings! But, all the same, with all that ghee and butter and other exotic toppings in even an average meal there (replete with chapatis, more often than not), I never put on weight. Again, I may have been burning it off, what with some obscene work timings and client pressure. But, still the human body has its own "digestive" capabilities and ability to retain fat. And despite my so many different types of food there, I never put on weight. A sublime dinner of hot phulkas, or chapatis with daal and curry was enough to bring a smile to my face and fill my tummy.
Not that I did not miss home food. Of course, I did! But, I never realised that I was actually eating food that suited my structure and body much better than what I was traditionally accustomed to, in all my growing years in Bangalore. I knew that I loved north Indian food, but I never realised that it suited me more than south Indian food. I have learnt that lesson only after getting back home. And it is showing in the fact that I have actually started feeling heavier every time I eat rice now. The thrill of eating a hot chapati with a tasty curry is a compelling thought! Especially, during this time of the year, when the weather is at its best.
Anyway, north or south, food is food. Yet, rice may not be the dish for me!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Today was quite special as a major retail store, The Weekender was setting up a new branch in Commercial Street, Bangalore. This is a place where most shopaholics in the city flock on any given day, and more so on a Saturday. And 4 of the most famous and popular RJ's in town - Prithvi, Pallavi, Lakshmi and Anjaan were there for the inauguration. They were busy interviewing people at the store, taking requests for various songs and dedications, playing with kids and giving out goodies and gifts. It was a great thing to see, such a simple and uncomplicated set of people connecting with the larger audience. What appealed even more was the degree of connect that the citizens of the city had with these radio jockeys, whose voices are heard across vehicles in the city every single day. Their humour, sense of occasion, history, ability to call out key events related to national interest, constant updates of scores during cricket matches and other sports of national importance, etc have caught on to people's imagination for sure.
I, for one, enjoy the shows on 94.3 FM. Pallavi, that bubbly and incredibly exuberant and "chatter-boxy" type of individual who keeps me hooked onto the radio during my 1.5 hour drives from office back home! And Prithvi, who with his jest and fine ability to do new things such as crack jokes on birthday boys & girls, play the role of a detective etc, are engaging stuff!
Great to see the radio get this wake up call through these RJs. The last time I was hooked on to the radio was in school and college- that too, on Vividh Bharati, and Man Chahe Geet in the afternoons at 1.30 pm. And before that, Amin Sayani and his legendary voice & sense of humour. The Prithvis, Pallavis, Anjaans and the Lakshmis, are giving radio a new lease of life. And to borrow from McDonald, "I'm loving it"!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The likes of Ms. Mamta Banerjee have tried to justify the social stigma that the Nano project would create, in terms of depriving farmers of their land. Nobody is disputing that claim. Her voice alone, not to mention her highly dramatised hunger strike, have been definitive ways of telling Mr. Ratan Tata that the Singur plant will never see the light of the day in the state of Bengal. However, what I fail to understand is, where was this protest when the approvals for the Nano were on? Why is it that no other state in the country has a problem in hosting the Tatas for this prestigious project? Why is it that Bengal digs its own hole by holding up one of India’s most ardent projects? Why are we not able to identify the potential or even catch a glimpse of more forward-looking Bengalis like their current Chief Minister?
If one is to read the context of the Singur project in the light of Bengal’s history with industrialization, there possibly isn’t anything bigger than the Nano project that has crossed the drawing board in the state. However, the conservatives and the socialists of Bengal are far too concerned about the poor farmers (and only them, as it were) who would be deprived of their land, at the cost of the Nano. Fair point. But, what they fail to see is the larger possibility of a Nano being able to accommodate these very deprived souls at a future date. This would provide these farmers far greater economic prosperity than a one-off settlement against their lands would. This politicization of the Nano does not have the larger picture in its view i.e. the Tata is one of India’s largest conglomerates and is one of the most socially affable companies ever seen in the country.
I find it hard to digest that these politicians are so disconnected on the singular theme of a dream car from India, hitting global markets - an future Indian brand that has caught the attention of every discernible automobile consumer, manufacturer and government in the world. It is so tragic to see the Bengal Chief Minister trying to pacify the likes of Mamta Banerjee and Ratan Tata – the former being the root cause of this obstacle to the Nano dream, and the latter, a visionary who has given the country the chance to catapult India on the global automobile map. Not only that, scores of suppliers and other stakeholders related to this project will reap the benefits of this dream. Kinetic Engineering is a case in point and there will be numerous other companies and other establishments that can build strong business plans for their future growth, based on the Nano rollout. There are other benefits too – employment, industrialization of a state that hardly anyone takes seriously, opportunity for exports, development financing and so on.
In all this, I strongly believe that its time that the communist approach of some of the key influencers in Bengal, take a leaf out of their Chief Minister’s book. Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattarcharya. He was fighting a lone battle in balancing Ratan Tata’s vision in Singur and Mamta Banerjee’s firm resolve to boot out the Nano from Bengal. I am not Bengali, but I am an educated Indian. And I strongly feel that the educated folks in Bengal are possibly not able to rake in a collective voice that would drive some wisdom into the politics of the Nano. People opposing the Nano have not been able to gauge the message that future investors in Bengal would have – Bengal has eventually paid the price for its narrow-mindedness. I just hope, as a forward-looking Indian, that this the last time they falter. Else, Bengal will have to reconcile with the fact that the rest of the country will power ahead in the modern era – far beyond what the current Bengalis can even fathom.
The assignment of the project to Gujarat, should have hopefully sent out the message to the conservatives of Bengal, that India is a progressing nation. And the likes of Ratan Tata, have alternatives and will not (and I dare say, need not) succumb to the conservative & antiquated views in Bengal.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
All of us work exceptionally hard to make a career and try and reach out highest aspirations. Dreams are no longer just dreams as people have begun to find ways to realise those dreams. A vast majority of our pursuits in life have tended to become extremely materialistic. That, is more a function of the opportunities that our generation is providing us with, more than anything else.
But, in between all this, I am quite convinced that the few who go far in life are folks who are not only self-driven, but are people with a high sense of self-esteem and credibility. Why is it that a Bjorn Borg, despite going bankrupt after his tennis career, returned to Centre Court Wimbledon and handed out the trophy to Federer (when the latter equalled Borg's record?). Why and how is an Amitabh Bachann revered even in the twilight of his career? Why are folks such as Dr. Singh and the like looked upon so highly? Why is Kotler the last word in marketing? Why is Peter Drucker still the guru of management? How is it that we have only one Warren Buffet? And surprise, surprise, why have we never managed to create more Tendulkars?
Maybe, I am getting biased by the famous people that all of us know. However, if I were to stop for a minute and think of people who would make more sense in the context of my life - I find many such people. You know, people with courage of conviction, sticking their neck out, being respected for their achievements, and people with immense credibility. And I know quite a few senior citizens, who once held positions of power, and are STILL sought after for the expert opinion etc. Their pedigree is not a function of their age or of the Indian tradition of respecting older folks. These are people who genuinely have credibility. I know a chartered accountant with 25 years experience, who still calls up a retired corporate banker from a public sector bank asking for his opinion on valuation, finance. I know a very, very, senior MP who once told this same corporate banker that his word is good enough if the bank cannot give his firm a loan. I also know a GM of a public sector bank who once told the MD of the same bank, that if this gentleman had refused a loan, he would not override that decision. IF that is not credibility, what else is!
Look at the new found respect for Ratan Tata - the Nano is just the ammunition or the tool. The bigger picture is his vision, his credibility, his courage of conviction, his dream for all of us and his dream that might inspire many of us to dream bigger. Also, why is it that people do not ever associate any unethical behaviour by the Tata group? Credibility, is my humble guess!
And the point is, we have many such people - bankers, industrialists, consultants, accountants, lawyers etc. But, not too many of them enjoy credibility. If a person makes a name for himself, that might be the easier part of his journey; the toughest part is to systematically reinforce it to himself & stakeholders concerned, that he did not make it to his position/place, just like that. That needs serious credibility. People do get found out in no time; the one big differentiator and key ingredient that can help a person (even if he is not financially well 0ff - say Borg after his retirement!), is keeping his/her name intact. The value of a person’s credibility and goodwill is beyond measurement. I am happy that I have learnt this so early in my life! Might as well be remembered as a good human being who stood for his/her own values in life (rather than as a poor, middle-class or rich guy or whatever – with all the transient materialistic bliss).
As they say in cricket, take care of the runs; the dollars will take care of themselves. I might just risk saying, take care of your beliefs and self-esteem; everything else follows. Nothing else is more important – losing one’s name is more damaging than going bankrupt.
What added to the flavour was the nostalgia of going to watch test match cricket at the ground with dad - since he is a die-hard sports fanatic! I felt so happy to have managed 2 tickets in a very good stand with a great view, and bring some serious happiness to him in his retired life! I felt so happy!
Anyway, back to the day at the ground. It was actually a day that had riveting test match cricket - not the usual slam-bang masala of the shorter versions of the game. Possibly, for the first time in my various visits to the KSCA, today was a gripping day of hard fought equations, with no team ready to give the edge to the other.
The day started with Zaheer Khan completing his second test match 50 (much to the delight of the crowds here). And, I for one, was particularly fascinated to see the famous Brett Lee action in person - sure is exciting to see that gigantic structure steam down his run-up, hurl bouncers, fume at batsmen, and add to the drama by bending down on his knees and appealing at the top of his voice!
The Indian team folded up for 360, falling 70 short of the Aussie first innings total, with Zaheer Khan the highest scorer (55 not out). The Aussies came out to face a fiery Zaheer and it wasn't long before Hayden was back in the tent. But the biggest roar was for Ricky Ponting (in terms of booing him out of the ground!). And the time that Ponting was at the crease was possibly the time I enjoyed one of the most beautiful days of test match cricket. Reason -that classical battle between a young rookie (Ishant Sharma) trying to prove his point yet again, against at veteran of 10000 test match runs (Ponting). The seamers, in-dippers, the swingers, the ones going away, the dot balls, the various appeals for LBW - were sights to behold i.e. a famous batsman struggling in the cauldron of test match cricket, against a bowler who is increasingly getting the better of him. The standout was the manner of Punter’s dismissal: well articulated, brilliantly planned and magnificently executed, courtesy, a quick catch by the special VVS at mid-wicket. Ponting's dismissal, brought a thunderous roar in the stadium, and I was out of my seat in a jiffy, cheering the Indian team on!
Things settled down a wee bit after that, with the Aussies scoring runs. But, they lost Clarke (after he hit a cover drive in his first ball - great shot!). And, the Aussie nemesis, Harbhajan Singh, got into his elements - terrific off spin bowling, capitalising on the spite in the pitch, putting pressure on the Aussies with close-in fielders et al. He possibly did not get the adequate returns, in terms of number of wickets, for the brilliance he displayed in his art today.
And then, that proud cricketer - Anil Kumble. It was hard to believe that this gigantic, yet gentle legend is playing his last test match at home. He has become a bit of a role model for me - with his conduct, poise, ability to answer all critics with his performance, and immense dignity and pride of playing for India. I will never forget a moment in this test match, in fact, right at the toss - Ravi Shastri was doing the usual TV stint of covering the toss. Once the toss was done and he had finished speaking to Ponting, it was Kumble's turn. And I distinctly noticed a tremendous amount of respect and regard in Ravi's eyes for Kumble at this particular toss. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but I really sensed a tremendous amount of "Wow, Anil. You are in your last match at home. You have been a great servant for your state and country. All the best for your final game at home". I think, I have watched enough cricket in my life to see that much of regard, even if momentary (at a toss!). Such is the pedigree of Anil. I zoomed my binoculars time and again, to get a final glimpse of this legend in action - be it while he was setting the field, or while he was bowling (albeit with an injury).
Anyway, the match is brilliantly poised. I enjoyed my day at the stadium with daddy. Especially since, it was replete with good, old-fashioned, battle for dominance and with both teams still in the hunt. And, a draw, is still a possibility. I just wish tomorrow were a holiday since it is going to be a fascinating final day at the KSCA.
There were some terrific moments during the day, where I was almost left wondering about the kind of life these sport stars live. The number of times Ganguly, Harbhajan and Tendulkar were cheered every time they took their positions near the boundary lines was something else. I mean, imagine turning around and walking to you position on the field and at least 5000 people roaring your name in unison, and about 200 people clamouring for space near the boundary line to get your autograph. This happened all day. And I dare say, that is just a shade of the lives that these guys live - perennially in the limelight. Possibly, that one comment in the newspapers, where kids were flocking around the Sunny Gavaskar - though he had retired by the time these kids were even born, was testament to the man's contribution to Indian cricket and the fan following that he enjoys, 22 years after he retired.
I guess I will sign off by saying that I saw another member of the 10000 runs club today - Allan Border. And I will just say, wow!
Friday, October 10, 2008
I always end up writing something when a famous cricketer retires. I wrote on my blog when Shane Warne hung up his boots and I am doing just that today, right after Ganguly has announced his retirement. I don't know why I do this, but these guys send a non-stop message of inspiration in life to me. I am sure, I will write more when Sachin, VVS, Dravid and Kumble retire as well. If there was blogging in the 1980s' and 1990s, with such high-speed internet, I am pretty sure I would have made my blog an "inspiration blog" on some truly phenomenal sportsmen(not just cricketers).
Anyway, getting back to the moment - its the last month of international cricket for Dada. Gosh, that man is somebody I have just admired ever since I saw him play first in 1996! What a spirited fella! Ever ready to take on the system head on and be so confident than come what may, he is good enough to pound the best in the business. Australia, England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka - all the cricketing nations in the world, who did not fear him so much for his smashing hits as much as they did for his attitude. Very few Indian cricketers have been able to look at their international counterparts in the eye and let them know that they are not there for gardening or just facing chin music! Dada was different for me - he taught me aggression; incredible self-confidence; a deep passion for the game(that was so sadly abused by the powers-that-be). I don't know him personally, but I strongly feel that he only meant business and was not there in the game for just the adulation(he deserved it though!).
And that super-arrogant, straight talking Greg Chappell, unfortunately had the powers; else, I am pretty sure, Dada would have ensure that Chappell never enters our country again. Alright, he may have been a great Aussie cricketer in his heyday; but remember, he was one of the meanest and cheapest players(figuratively), by devising the under-arm bowling option in an ODI against New Zealand. Dada never resorted to such trivial measures - he played the games by the rule, and played it hard(eye to eye with the opposition). Go home, Greg Chappell - we don't need you!
What about the inspiration Dada gave to newcomers? Half of the current talent in the best 16 in the country - Harbhajan, Yuvraj, etc etc, owe it to Dada's unrelenting encouragement for the youth/new players. I strongly feel that Dada's captaincy is a lesson in management - how to lead in the most adverse and severe conditions. Look at the balancing act he had to do i.e. get his career going when the selectors were out to nail him, let the opposition know that he was no pushover, and stand like a man of steel for rookies who had no clue about the pressures of international cricket. That sort of a balancing act, in a situation where Dada's head was always on the line, is not easy. And it comes to great leaders;people with gumption, courage of conviction and immense concentration and passion. Those are my biggest learnings from this great Bengali.
It is not a joke to score nearly 20,000 international runs in an era that had some of India's batting stalwarts - the Fab Four as people call them. And to be counted amongst that elite and inordinately superior crowd is a special thing in itself. Hats off to you, Saurav! You taught Indian sportsman (across genres) and people like me at the start of their professional careers, what it means to win. And win, against all odds!
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The people in the office seem to be quite relaxed, without the pressure of finishing things in a hurry. There is always a consensus to everything; everybody's opinion is taken. And I have distinctly noticed that things are questioned in the realm of what works for a customer, rather than sitting and making counterpoints. Quite a constructive environment to work in, and something that challenges the intellectual capacity.
Of course, the free food and the free shuttle service from home to office & back are the added luxuries. I have also seen a bunker room of sorts, where people literally draw up big blankets and go to sleep! And I am told that this room needs advance reservation, as its perennially choc-a-bloc!. Not to mention the salsa dance that happens in the evening, or the table tennis room that is full all the time. Plus, in addressing the needs of the extreme fitness freaks, SAP has a full-fledged gymnasium - what with tread mills, state-of-the-art equipment etc. And people ensure that they make use of it - every time I cross the gym, its full (with some interesting faces around too!).
Talking of interesting faces, there is no dearth of them in the company. The advantage of being a truly great MNC and such a top brand is that it attracts a wide variety of people from all over the world. That can only add to the colour around the office, you see!
Good place, I must say- has a happy feel about it.
It was an interesting debut with the transport vendor this morning. To begin with, he arrived at our regular Malleswaram 18th cross bus stop, 10 minutes late. There were about 7 of us waiting in the early morning, half-sleepy mode; waiting to grab a quick 45 min/1 hour nap on the way to office. But all such dreams were down the drain the minute the bus arrived - we were more people than the number of seats available to sit! So much for planning, estimation of headcount on our route and all other sophisticated systems & procedures of having an RFID etc in the bus, when the basics went wrong. Anyway, I managed to squeeze into the seat right next to the bus driver, only to be greeted by a bright sun staring down the big glass window, and into my face. Groan - all dreams of my quick nap, gone out of the window!:(
Finally, some sense was restored when the 20 people who were standing for part of the route to office hopped onto another mini van mid-way near Ulsoor.
The other highlight of the day was this new food vendor. I reached office and ran up to the canteen for my regular breakfast, only to be greeted by an empty counter at the billing machine. There is usually a billing guy in charge of things, and he was nowhere. Suddenly, a man dressed in a new uniform(not in the attire of the usual vendor) came up to me and pointed to another counter. Only then, did I realise that there was a new vendor in place for food from today, and that there were already new systems in place - so much for lack of communication about this change. Groan, again!
Anyway, the rest of the day went off the usual way- meetings, calls, deliverables et al. The good thing is, tomorrow is a public holiday - I have never loved Mahatma Gandhi more, thanks to him, we definitely have a holiday in the middle of the week; a much needed one!
In all this, I am wondering if there is any room for hope at all for anyone. The more I try to think about it and see if there is anything left to look forward to, the harder I find it to narrow down to. Maybe, I am getting influenced by all this a wee bit too much- after all, I am human! But, no. The fact that I am human means that I am different. It means that the single biggest differentiating factor as a homo sapien is my ability to rationalise, hope and look forward to a better tomorrow.
So what if the financial crisis is eroding my net worth? So what if the terrorists have decided to kill ever discernible Indian in every corner of the country? So what if the government of the day is busy negotiating nuclear deals, and not doing too much to safeguard its people?So what if the stock markets hit new lows at the end of every trading session? So what if every other thing happening around me is negative. I think, there has never been a more opportune time to be positive than now.
If courage of conviction is ever needed in life, I think it is now. The famous Indian resilience of getting out of the house and going to the same spot where a bomb exploded the next day after such an event made headlines is enough cause to celebrate. The fact that Indian banking insitutions and financial systems have not been hit as severely as that of the their global counterparts is yet another reason to be happy about. More than anything else, the vision of our public policy planners of the 1950s need to be commended for coming up with the concept of the public sector in the country- had it not been for that system, we might have yet had a collapse like none other. So, that's another reason to celebrate. And beyond all these tangibles, we are still the biggest hope on this planet - of being the future superpower of this world. Why let up on that dream because of such events, that are bound to happen again and again in our journey to success? Somebody out there (read, terrorist), does not like our growth. I am also quite confident that he does not like the good things happening to us. But, I think the best way to answer him is to be resilient and happy in our minds and look at how we can build a greater nation than what we already have.
Hell, its the spirit of being a human being that is more important than succumbing to these extremely powerful forces that beckon us. I am going to be positive and happy; let me see if there is anybody there who can stop me from being so. Its ONE life, and nobody - be it i-banks or terrorists or anyone else - has a right to damage it.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
He does not have the basic decency to let another human being speak. Not only that, he interjects at every opportune moment. To top it off, he brings in his own brainless analysis and over-reaction to any statement made by his interviewee. He loves it when his interviewee fumbles for words. And the one thing I completely hate about this guy is his perennial use of vocabulary, which the average interviewee would not even comprehend.
There have been enough number of times when interviewees have told him point blank, "Karan, let me complete what I have to say", or, "Karan, I think this is an interview and I have a point of view", or, even more disgraceful & direct when they say, "Karan, can I say something?". These statements from people who are invited on national television, time and again, to this so-called famous journalist is beyond me. I sometimes wonder how he even gets a prime time slot to interview all these famous politicians, bureaucrats and what have you.
The man does not have the basic courtesy of a conversation. One of the most unforgettable (in the negative way) interviews was with India's famous lawyer, Ram Jethmalani. That was on CNN-IBN on a Sunday evening, where the lawyer just stopped short of asking Karan to get out of his residence where the interview was being hosted. While I have my own thoughts about Ram Jethmalani's arrogance and airs about being a great lawyer, I think, that Karan Thapar did not ever merit the Asian Television Award in Singapore, based on that one interview. It was disgraceful!
At other times, I have noticed many of this journalist's shows bordering on personal accusation, not to mention, extreme use of words. Yes, politicians have a way with words, but with Karan Thapar around, the situation just gets a wee bit uncomfortable. There is no debate, but only point-counterpoint in the sense of an accusation. The other party ends up feeling," why did I even bother to entertain this interview?".
I am usually very respectful of every profession, as it has its own things to contribute to the Indian economy. I also appreciate the fact that different industries have their own dynamics. And, I am especially a big fan of the media industry & have tremendous respect for the folks who get us the news. But, sadly, like with everything else in life, people like Karan Thapar, are those elements, which make you wonder about how such people even make it in the first place. No sour grapes, the man sucks! Period.