Saturday, January 15, 2011

10000 kms in my car

At the turn of the decade (2010), I crossed the 10000 km mark in my lovely Swift car. Been a journey for sure. But, miles to go, in every way!

Met cousin at station & NRN

One of those things - a passing train in Bangalore on a Saturay night. And my Mumbai cousin and his wife in that train in a tier-2 AC bogie on their way to another place. They had informed us earlier that they would like to meet us at the railway station, as they would only be in transit elsewhere.

Pretty normal, one would think. But, when we reached the station and the train arrived, we learnt from my cousin that Mr. N.R.Narayana Murthy had gotten off the same train in the previous station! Now, NRN travelling in the Indian Railways was news enough. But, the fact that he got into the train in the middle of nowhere (Mantralaya) was even bigger news. I mean, the man could easily fly down in a helicopter to Bangalore; or hire a Merc or a BMW and get back home by road.

But, he chose Indian Railways. I guess that talks about the character of the man - the simplicity, the practical way of looking at his life i.e. Indian Railways has the best transport network in the country & he was able to use the time in the train for himself; as against his regular schedule of being perenially busy and surounded by a slew of people. Apparently (according to my cousin), NRN was clad in white kurta-pyjama and was scheduled to leave to London on Monday.

For my own satisfaction, I saw the ticket chart outside the bogie that my cousin & NRN were travelling in. Sure enough, both their names were there. Only that, the famous scion of the Indian IT industry had his name printed as NARAYANA. Nobody would have guessed - by looking at the chart - that it was the name of the face of the Indian IT industry. I guess, it is pleasant to say, Narayana, Narayana, as in the old epics.

Good experience - for my cousin. And great insight into the practicality of the great man.


That's the thing with calendars. They are one of the most static items in the world. We probably underestimate the value of a calendar, given the busy schedules in our lives these days. I know so many people just longing for the weekend, or ever so often looking forward to a long weekend.

But 2011 is different. We are not going to get too many long weekends. Worse, we are not going to get too many public holidays as well, given that many holidays this year fall on weekends. Hence, it is going to be tough to club that weekend getaway with a Friday or a Monday and make sure that you cover that many more places than before.

Such scheduling in a calendar year only means that one needs to be extremely well planned in chalking out one's holiday plan. Remember, you plan on the handful of long weekends, are going to be the same periods in which many others would be making similar holiday plans. Hence, you need to be sure that you are smarter in the planning of your holidays, and quicker than the rest.

The other great thing about calendars is that, while one year(like 2011) will make all of us feel miserable at the paucity of public holidays, there will be other years when long weekends will be the norm, rather than the exception. So, bide your time, save money, and plan for those particular years, starting now. After all, inflation and calendars(long weekends) will come and go. But the number of places you want to see is endless. So, plan for the long weekends in maybe 2014, starting now!

Sticking to your roots

I am increasingly observing a particular pattern i.e. the number of show-offs and folks with attitude that I am encountering seems to be on the increase. And I am not referring to folks I don't know at all. If anything, these are people who I have seen through all my growing years, and infact, elder than me. They were then pretty much from the same background that I was from, but, credit to them, the efforts in their professional lives has yielded them stellar results. Good for them, and credit to them. And glad that they ended up being successful people.

But, that success seems to have gone to their heads for sure, albeit in different ways. Some of them are still in India (and hugely successful), while others have ventured abroad and made it big. Fair enough. However, their success has changed them in ways that I had not fathomed or expected. They have become people who find immense thrill in ridiculing India, while others seem to be living the life of a foreigner, living right here in India.

Imagine this - you are invited to somebody's house and you tell them that you will be there after a particular time on a Sunday evening. Now, given the traffic conditions, almost every Indian I know understands a delay. The least you expect is an sms reminder at the designated time, saying that they are expecting us! How ridiculous is that for an Indian living here in India? Maybe, I cannot blame the person, as the expectation in foreign countries is to be on time, even for social visits. However, our host conveniently forgot the travails of getting through tough traffic that make our best attempts to be on time, rudderless. And this person I am referring to, goes abroad every month on projects etc and hardly lives in India. As far back as I can remember, he was NOT like this before he became the big shot that he is today. But, at what price?

Or, take the example of folks abroad who now hold senior executive positions that I know personally. This person has totally forgotten his roots, in the sense, that, he has the audacity to say, 'some bloody Indian stuff', and has changed his very Indian name to a totally anglicised version, speaks in a tone that makes you wonder whether he has even seen India, and even manages to be nasty with other Indians I know who may not be that successful (YET). Again, a person who made it big, but lost all Indian values (and my respect thereof).

I write this blog in wonderment, at the price many Indians I know are ready to pay, for their success. Is it even worth it? I can only compare a person like Tendulkar (who I don't know personally). But, the great man - based on ALL his stupendous achievements on a cricket field - appears to be humane, and grounded. And, in parallel, these folks I know personally who are not even half way to where Sachin is, have so much attitude.

Just not worth it. The biggest takeaway for me in all this, is to never forget my roots. If & when I become successful, I will make sure that I take extra precaution to be humane, approachable and courteous; rather than being, rude, arrogant and a person full of attitude. To hell with such people and their attitude!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Classical 33rd birthday - with cricket at the fore

I just turned 33 today. But, as ever, I only feel younger. If anything, I feel like I am only 20 years old today.

One of the last memories of my 19th birthday (in 1997) was a fantastic cricketing gift that I received from Tendulkar and Azharudding. This was on 4th Jan, 1997 at the Newlands ground, in Capetown against South Africa in a test match. It was a Saturday afternoon, when the magic of Sachin and Tendulkar just brought endless smiles to Indians, and specifically to me on my birthday.

On that particular day, the South African fast bowlers were on fire - Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock in particular. But, the customary flicks on the on side by Azhar and the straight drives and cover drives on the off side by the Little Master, were a treat to the eye.

13 years later, at the same venue, one of those 2 gentlemen, Sachin Tendulkar is still playing. He is still taking on the might of Dale Steyn and Morkel on a very good cricket pitch, with India having to bat extremely well to stay in the game and force the issue. The manner in which Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar handle the pace and fire of Steyn and Morkel, was a lesson in that, if you stick at the wicket and keep trying, you can negotiate the toughest of conditions.

I somehow, get excited if India is playing a test match on my birthday in Capetown. Almost everytime that they have played there, the quality of the sport has been of the highest order. And each time, I have learnt that the toughest conditions bring out the best in you.

Newlands, Capetown, the Indian test match cricket team with the likes of Tendulkar, Azhar, VVS, Rahul, share a unique rapport with me on my birthday. The more they play there on that ground on 4th Jan, the better I feel. It's one rare birthday gift, if they play well there. Thanks guys!