Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai...I will see the Taj Hotel again.

Like every other Indian national who is proud to be a citizen of this country, I am also extremely grieved at the recent terror attacks in Mumbai. The last time that I didn't sleep much at night, or did not get sleep, was in 1992, during the World Cup in Australia - had to balance the time zone. But, this time was different; I was unable to sleep; I could not digest what was happening to that magnificent heritage monument, the Taj. No less credit to the towering Oberoi and the residential complex of Nariman House.

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

Should we fly to office?

How do we beat this traffic nightmare in Bangalore? How does one go about beating a good 4 hours per day, spent in transit? Isn't there a more efficient way to spend time? Just add up 4 hours a day, and on an annualised basis, it translates to almost 960 hours of transit time per annum (assuming a 5-day week). That's obscene!

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!

When Deve Gowda said "Sorry"

It is not very often that one hears Deve Gowda say sorry. That too, in public.In the firing line for the fiasco that his party caused to Bangalore's traffic earlier this week, the "son of the soil" and "farmer's man" (with a few millions in his kitty!), said a polite(read, meek) sorry on national television.

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

Sun TV only adds to depression

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

A fantastic quote by Abraham Lincoln

We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

I can relate this quote to many other realms of life, not just restrict it to the battlefield....

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The fine line between a relationship and friendship

This might be as good as a Catch-22 situation, which I think many people in our current generation would have been exposed to. Of course, at varying degrees, if I may add i.e what is the line that one draws when one gets along so famously with a member of the opposite gender, and is one who is your greatest ever friend? What sort of a line does one draw in defining the space for oneself, and the space for the sublime friendship? And most importantly, how does one react when the line is breached and enters the realm of a relationship?

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.

American elections on a Tuesday?

Ha ha ha, the age-old Indian superstition is being put to the sword. I am not for one moment ridiculing Indian history and tradition, just amply amused. We have grown up in an environment when the more momentous occasions, and new beginnings in life are never done on a Tuesday, in India. I have seen people put off decisions on a Tuesday, reconsider paths on other days of the week, delay the joining dates in companies (if the joining date is a Tuesday), look at other days of the week when they book tickets on flights and trains et al. Such is the superstitious adulation that a Tuesday gets. I have never managed to fathom the logical essence behind this superstition, but that's the way it is.

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.

Anil...you inspire confidence,pride and supreme dignity

I am not the first one talking so highly of Anil Kumble. Nor am I the last Indian to be saying that I am so proud that such a fantastic individual graced the game of cricket at the international level for us, for such a long time. Makes me feel so proud as an Indian.

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.