Thursday, December 28, 2006

Woman, I respect thy

A colleague of mine here in US went to India couple of months ago, got married and came back to US with wife.

As is most often the case, we keep having get-togethers. It was the same before he went to India and it is the same after he came back to US. Except that now, his wife is also in our get-togethers and since she does not know most of us, she does the decent thing of being silent all through the get-together. And if the get-together is in the colleague’s house, she has to get tea, snacks and clean up the table while we sit around and chat.

So, basically for my colleague, there was absolutely no change in the life style. It was just the same. Before and after marriage.

But from the wife’s perspective, it is such a huge change in lifestyle. She has to sit dumb with a bunch of male people whom she hardly knows, and act as if she is comfortable while actually she is not, hearing discussions on sports and gossip on other colleagues whom she doesn’t even know. And on top of this, she has to cater to her husband’s and his friends’ needs. I guess a much similar scenario holds for a bride who goes to her in-law’s house and accepts the aged groom’s parents as her own parents.

How would it be for me to sit for over two hours with a score of my wife’s female colleagues, and serve them drinks and snacks, and act comfortable despite the female conversation on the colour of dress, the make-up and soap-operas? How would it be for me to leave my home lifestyle and start living in my wife’s house with her parents day in and day out?

Arent wives seem to be on the wrong side of partiality? Something doesn’t seem to be right here.

And yet, wives carry out the tasks expected of them with pride and happiness. The sacrifice in itself radiates like purity.

Woman, I respect thy.

The Grand Old Man

I feel like a grand old man.

There is this feeling of ‘Been there; Done that.’

People approach me to ask about places I have been to, and I have been to most places in US.

People approach me to ask about official things, which are almost at the click of my fingers due to my experience.

I feel most people around me are like kids.

I have no commitments.

I have nothing specific to look forward to.

I have pretty much arranged myself a comfortable monthly annuity without even having to work.

I am happy.

It is time to appreciate and pursue the finer qualities of life.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Mere Mortal"

That there are two sets of people – the achievers and their admirers has been very clear to me since eons.

A short man walking into the arena filled with a hundred thousand people, receiving a standing ovation speaks about the ratio of the achievers and admirers.

But to be that achiever, one has to sacrifice so much the otherwise normal admirer would have had had easily through the course of life.

To have the guts to traverse on the road less traveled by.

A simple life such as reading books, watching great movies, hanging out with friends, lazy gossip, chatting, surfing will all be replaced by constant dedication towards the one and only goal in life.

And once that goal is attained, once that standing ovation is attained, the question that comes to the mind is, “Would I have been better off appreciating the casual things in life, or am I better off having a dedicated and sacrificed and satisfied life of having achieved something?”

Appreciation or Satisfaction.

Admirer or Achiever.

It is perhaps for such situations as these that the phrase ‘Mere Mortal’ has been coined.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A life of its own...

7.45 AM:
Wake-Up call. A sleepy voice.

8.30 AM:
“I am starting now.” “Five minutes pleeeeease.”

8.45 AM:
“Good Morning!” “Good Morning!”

8.45 AM to 9.00 AM:
Discussion on yesterday night’s and today morning’s conf call.

9.05 AM:
“Have a nice day!” “You too!”

Sometime between 9.05 AM and 12.00 PM:
“Enoooooo!” “Enaaaaaay!”

12.00 PM:
“Shall we?” “Come down.”

12.00 PM to 12.10 PM:
Discussion on offshore updates and office happenings.

12.10 PM to 12.40 PM:
Lunch. Maury Show.

12.40 PM to 12.50 PM:
Re-living Maury Show scenes, adding more humour.

Sometime between 12.50 PM and 5.00 PM:
“What time?” “6.”

6.00 PM:
“??” “5 mins.”

6.10 PM to 6.20 PM:
Discussion on how the day was. Who said what.

6.30 PM to 7.00 PM:
Lovely coffee with assortments. Saat Phere.

7.00 PM to 8.00 PM:
General discussion. Heart-filling. Same snaps. Same songs.

8.00 PM to 9.00 PM:
Washing dishes. Helping in cooking. Getting snubbed.

9.00 PM:
Awesome dinner.

9.30 PM:
“Goodnight!” “Goodnight!”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Amores Perros

Love between a husband and a wife.
Love between a mother and her sons.

Love between husband and his mistress.
Love between a wife and her brother-in-law.

Love between a husband and his colleague.
Love between the colleague and her husband.

Love between father and his daughter.
Love between brothers.

Love between friends.
Love between a master and his dog.

Love for money.
Love for popularity.

Love’s a bitch.
Amores Perros.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A musical drive...

I miss driving. You wouldn’t know the pleasure of driving until you stop it for a while and then you are allowed to drive for just one day! I had this opportunity recently when I was asked to drive my friend’s car back home as he couldn’t, and the feeling was so tangible!

Driving, I have always felt, is like an orchestra. The driver is an orchestrator and the drive is the musical performance. The passengers are the audience. Figuratively speaking, you are actually playing upon the emotions and the feelings of the audience. Frankly speaking, you have their lives in your hand. And at the end of the performance, the orchestrator should have the satisfaction of a nice standing ovation.

There are many finer points to driving that are so subtle to notice for the common eye to take notice. The start. Avoiding the jerks when braking. Going over the humps. Treating co-drivers. Following a car. The talent to know the boundaries of speed. Going in a curve at over 90 mph. The knowledge of one’s coordinates, and more importantly tracking other car movements. Parking the car between 2 closely spaced cars with finesse. The control. The concentration. The overall temperament and composure. The final stop.

An uncle of mine has a crisp knack that makes you want to imitate. The way he sits, the way he holds the steering wheel, the way he turns it, changing gear, the general etiquette while driving, the music in his lips – it’s a treat to watch him drive! And the comfort factor that nothing is going to happen.

I have seen some people drive where the passengers are numb with fear, holding onto whatever possible for dear life and ruing sitting in the car. The fright shows in their eyes and they are looking hither and thither to see where you will get hit. Perhaps the driver might think its great to drive fast and its thrilling to drive recklessly but if there is no control, and if the audience loses faith in you, you are a bad performer.

The other day I sat with a friend of mine who is learning to drive car. Its truly one of the scariest things to do. Perhaps a trainer will not feel this because he might have brake pedal at the passenger side too but a normal layman has to live on wit’s end to suffice the journey with a new driver. It would seem so simple and easy but yet the learner finds it so tough to turn, so easy to go over the curb, to cross into other lanes. It will seem like rocket science to them but it will make the seasoned drivers think ‘Is it really so difficult?’

Driving is relaxing if you have a nice vehicle, a nice road and very few traffic with multiple lanes. I had one such experience when I drove from Pittsburgh to Detroit. It was a straight road with 3 lanes and speed limit of 70 mph. It was a nice Mercedes Benz car and a superb road. I put the car on cruise control, went onto the middle lane, relaxed the leather seat and drove comfortably for over 3 hours in the almost non existent traffic without even bothering to check the rear view or the side view mirrors. It was one of the most memorable drives for me. Music would have been a topping but unfortunately I had none.

And then there was this other day when I was going way way over the speed limit for over an hour. I crossed 100 mph and was so alert all the time, looking out for cops, steering clear of slow moving vehicles and handling the car excellently well. And then I got caught! After that it was always way below the speed limit. The mind slept off, and nerves were no longer on edge and it was fascinating to know how much thrill the mind gets just by being illegal!

There have been many more memorable drives for me. The overnight drive to Pittsburgh from Boston in heavy snow. The drive back from Keywest to Miami with its innumerous ocean bridges and a sudden downpour which made visibility zero. The road trip from Boston to Chicago and back to Boston, especially my last stretch at dawn in which, just to fight off sleep after a sleepless night, I set a target of covering 150 miles ridded with New York state police in 120 minutes, but lost with 5 miles to spare. The 45 km drive in a towed car in Bangalore which needed enormous amount of concentration to ensure that the rope was neither taut nor loose by controlling only the brake pedal, and also maneuvering the turns.

Whenever I speak about driving, I always remember Mithun driving 40 miles, just like that, on a state road at 1 am on a Saturday night with me and Ash. It was one of the craziest things we have done! “Just for a drive.” When I first heard this phrase in a soap opera, it didn’t make much sense then but it sure does now. After a long day, a long nice drive is all one needs to get rid of the frustration. Its like relaxation, in spite of all the concentration, and its amazing how it boosts the morale!

Just like music…

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I have often observed that when something is about to happen, the mind sticks onto it even before that something actually happens.

Like when we are in school or college, when its nearing the term time, and we are about to enter the study holidays, the mind will already be set for study holidays even though its still term time. Similarly, when we were nearing study holidays end and entering into exams mode, the mind is already set to exam mode even though its still study holidays. And when we are nearing the last exam, the mind is already set to holidays.

And when we are still in seventh semester, the mind is set for projects in eighth semester. When we are nearing the end of college, the mind will be set for next few months of unemployment, job-hunting and even a job. All, even when we are still in college.

Its like making up and shaping one’s mind beforehand and getting used to the future environ. Like anticipating what is next. It reminds me of the Math chapter of limits where that expression signifies “limit x tending to y.” Its pretty natural and a common human tendency but yet at the same time its fascinating the way the mind works.

And it happens at every stage of life and in every department of life. A doctor when winding up his surgery, a batsman when there is one run to win, a priest performing last stages of pooja, a waiter serving the last plate for the day, a night-shift policeman at the break of dawn, the New year’s eve, a teacher teaching the last chapter, a pregnant woman in the ninth month, an engaged girl living the life of a wife, a person who has got a visa to US and, of course, people like me with a ticket to Bangalore in my hands! I might be in US, but my mind is already living in Bangalore, and in India!

The mind tends to move onto the next phase of life automatically and while there might be a slight bit of relaxation, there will also be a sense of happy livurity when the mind starts living the future in the present.

Of course, there are many adages that say live life for present and not to worry about future or past. But then, those adages go hand-in-hand only where ‘worry’ is associated. Its fine as long as one wishes to pre-live the future happiness!

However, unfortunate though it may be, adages might say what they say, but the human mind has a way of its own. Be it happiness or sadness, it lives the future in present. And there is nothing that can be done about it. And the anticipation of the curtain coming down is worse that the actual scene of curtain coming down, figuratively speaking.

There have been 3 movies which come to my mind which bear testimony to the above statement. The Green Mile, Downfall and Dead Man Walking. In all of the above, there is a character depicted who knows when and how he will die. And this thought of death, the pure anticipation, kills more than the actual act of Death in itself. The thought that ‘This is the end; these are the last few hours of my life’, the clock ticking away to 12 o’ clock, the last few glances, the farewell, the last wish, the last words, the last thought all become so insignificant, and resemble zombic actions because, in reality, the mind has already started livuring death and eternity.

LIV-ing in the fut-URE.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back to India

I was standing at one of the scenic view spots of the Great Niagara. It was my third visit and I had skipped the Maid of the Mist. As I stood there, looking around at the ambience, my mind went to that day, decades ago, when I had been to the Jog Falls.

What a sad state of affairs it is, when one tries to compare. Here, I could see posh people everywhere, neatly dressed, well-behaved, absolutely no trash anywhere on the premises, nothing thrown into the river, rest rooms so clean, restaurants so well maintained, attractive girls walking around comfortably, facilities to the tourists, lights to the falls at night time, etc. It was all so picture perfect. Like as if there is nothing else better that can be done.

And then there was Jog. Trash strewn everywhere, beverage cans and food wastes thrown to the river, no defined rest room as such, the traveler’s lodge seeming to be in tatters. And then there were different strata of people – dignified middle class people comparatively well behaved and appreciating the nature. And then there were below poverty public acting weirdly in river, bare footed, spitting on the road, and gaping at good-looking gals, whistling, passing comments and basically making the gals feel uncomfortable.

For the major part of my life, I thought this is the way life is lived and this is how it is everywhere in India. Dirt, population, filth, uncultured behavior, and nothing called neatness. And then I joined Infosys. The campus was stunning and I was awe-struck. Even after four years, when I look at the architecture, the campus, I keep staring. Simply because everything is so nice and pleasing and a feeling that this is how it should be everywhere. It was the same set of people, but within a campus kept neat and tidy 24 hrs a day by a wonderful housekeeping staff who gain a standing ovation from every single Infoscion in each of the award ceremonies within Infosys.

There was a huge population within the campus too. There is always dirt, filth but it was all so well managed. Everyone behaves so well and cultured. Agreed, some attractive gals still are gaped at within the campus and made to feel uncomfortable, but yet, it is the same set of people and it was all so different inside. Like entering into a new world altogether. Nobody is taught to behave well, nobody is taught to be courteous and yet everyone falls into the pattern of the neat-running-system all by themselves. And life suddenly seems to be nice and tidy and comfortable.

And then I came to US. Imagine my thought process. Not a single person will ever refrain from comparing about the traffic in US and traffic in India and I am no exception. Imagine this for instance. There is a single lane of traffic and all vehicles are stopped for the red signal. The road slightly widens for a right only lane and there is no oncoming traffic. Put this same setting in India. What will happen? The vehicles not going right will come onto the right lane, just to fill up the space and be as close to the start as possible while the vehicles genuinely wanting to go right will be stuck. The yellow line will have no significance and vehicles will jam up the road in such a way that the oncoming traffic will have no way to pass through too. It will be the same situation on the other side of the traffic signal too. And when the signal becomes green, it will be a two-lane traffic facing another two-lane traffic in a single lane road. Deadlock.

To continue the story further. Suppose a cop comes and confronts a vehicle which has crossed the yellow line. What will be the reaction of the driver? He will smile sheep-facedly at the cop and say “Er…Please sir, please sir, just this once.” Men without dignity and honour. It will be the same situation every time. Two-wheelers going on pedestrian sidewalks and honking at them to give way. Isnt traffic manners such a simple thing to follow? If everyone follows it, wouldn’t life be so ever so simple?

I fail to understand who is to be blamed. Who is at fault?

Is it the Government? For not planning ahead? For not having enough rest-rooms in and around the city and maintaining them? For not having enough trash cans in and around the city? For having corrupt officials who stop the flow of funds to support a city and its people? For not having enough officials to mend the people’s barbaric ways?

Is it the people? For not knowing how to behave? For not having simple manners? For not being courteous? For not following the system?

Is it the population? For having exponentially exploded way way out of seams for the city to control and handle?

Is it lack of money? Lack of money with people? “I don’t have money for the fuel sir. So I put kerosene to auto.” Hence the sound and pollution. Lack of money with Government? “Enough funds have been allocated to the improvement of the city but we are unable to track where the money went.” It is just a vicious circle.

Is it the way we all are brought up? There is so much respect here for children. Even when at fault, they are called sternly as ‘Young Man, can you be a good child and stop beating your friend?’, ‘Little Man, be careful with that stick. We don’t want you to hit your sister accidentally with it, would we?’ What would happen to a young kid in India handling a stick dangerously. PHATTAK! He will be slapped and the stick will be taken away from him. What will happen to a young gal in India when she is walking dangerously on the edge of the footpath? She will be dragged to the sidewalk unceremoniously and asked to stop being a pest. “Be careful, Young Lady. We don’t want you to get hurt” is how they are treated in US.

When things so simple and nice and easy in US, why is it so ugly and dirty and tough in India? How can the situation ever improve? Will it ever improve?

I used to read in novels how ill people, ill kids in foreign countries were sent to mountainous regions, or places with cleaner air in valleys so that they have a healthy life and can breathe fresh air. I realized, I never had a persistent cold or cough since I came to US an year and half ago, and when I was in India for a month, I had all sorts of breathing problems. Isnt life all about having a cleaner air to breath? Pollution is alarmingly increasing in India.

I realized one thing. When man is put into a nice and neat environment, as per the principle of regelation, he gels himself and adapts to the situation of being nice and neat. When man is put into a dirty and ugly environment, as per the principle of regelation, he gels himself and adapts to the situation of being just like other fellow men. And hence, a situation of nice and neat continues to nice and neat whereas a situation of ugly and dirty just becomes uglier and dirtier.

So, consider overnight, when everyone is sleeping, if the whole city is made beautiful and great, like a film setting, will things change? Will it change the mind set of people?

It may. People might atleast throw trash in trash cans. It may not. People might continue to spit on roads.

Anyway. Am leaving US and off to Bangalore on Dec 30th. And guess what?

I am looking forward to it.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I was seeing an advertisement yesterday and it involved giving a gift in this holiday season to the ‘most important person in the world’.

If say, A was MIP to B, and B was MIP to C, and C was MIP to D, and so on, would the gift even matter?

On a more personal note, there are many people high up in the chart, but who is the most important person to me in this world?

More importantly, is there anyone at all who considers me as the most important person in this world?!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Red Volvo

Gifted by my brother. My first car.

Had to say goodbye to it today.

Bid adieu with a farewell kiss.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First snow flakes...

...for the season.

Time to retire!

Eighteen years of Education.
Four years of Employment.

Almost two years in USA.
A feeling of ‘Been there, done that!’

An Apartment in the name of self.
Monthly Rent as a constant source of income.

No more loans to clear.
No more the need to work.

Hurray! Its time to Retire!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Memorable dates in 2007

Plenty of good news all around!

Jan 7th 2007
Feb 6th 2007
Feb 6th 2007
Feb 11th 2007
Apr 5th 2007
Apr 26th 2007
Apr ?? 2007
Jun 21st 2007

Sunday, December 03, 2006


My eyes are burning after 3 continuous movies today. And 3 yesterday. Open Water and Excalibur are the significant ones out of the five. Former is the better of the two, especially because it is based on true events. It shows how even ‘Process’ (the most sought after word in software engineering project management) can backfire. It is shocking that a simple process of keeping count of people diving into the Ocean and people coming back onto the boat can cause such a tragedy. Two people in the middle of ocean, drifting with the tide, and sharks all around. Chills the bones.

Human man can endure a lot more than what we perceive. The unfortunate couple mentioned above lasted in the ocean for 24 hrs, bobbing up and down in the tide, with no food, no water, cold, thunder, rain, dark and most importantly, sharks. The movie Rabbit-proof fence describes the true story of a young Australian aborigine girl who trudges almost 1500 miles to go back to home. Twice. From the cruel government who separated mothers and their half-black half-white children. Walking 1500 miles in the hot sun as fugitives.

And then there are people who just never quit. Whatever the odds. Men of Honor portrays one such true character who makes into the US Navy’s Master Diver role after umpteen attempts by his trainer to fail him. Just because he was black.

Hotel Rwanda. A hotel manager saves 1200 people from a city riot. Schindler's List. Over 1100 Jews saved by Oscar Schindler. Patch Adams. Inspiring story of Hunter “Patch” Adams who uses unorthodox methods of curing people against the strictly academic world of Medicine. Cinderella Man. James Braddock fights poverty and saves his family through pugilism. Walk the Line. A son proves his father wrong after continually put down as a loser, and rises from a street seller to a famous singer, and fights addictive drugs to win the heart of his love. The Sea Inside. The movie of a quadriplegic. Cidade de deus. An intersecting movie of Rio-de-Janeiro’s underworld heighbourhood in the eyes of a photographer. October Sky. The son of a coal miner in a coal mining town makes rocket science as his passion and overcomes his ever-resistant father's attitude to ultimately join NASA.

A respectful bow to the true heroes...