Sunday, November 30, 2008

Numbing images, numbed thoughts!!

I thought of writing this some time ago, when I was watching the news channels which were showing the images that have numbed our senses for the last couple of days, and when there was a heated debate raging on what went wrong, and why things came to this turn that a few young boys rode across the open seas, landed in our midst and caused havoc with our lives. But in hindsight I’m happy I didn’t write it then, as I was in such a state with anger and helplessness that nothing sensible would have come out of my mind.

Honestly the events over the last few days have made a deep dent into our psyche, whether you guys agree or not. My roomie summed it up best when he said that the menace suddenly felt so close to us, for the first time perhaps we felt weak, vulnerable, helpless. What does one do in a time like this? Keep watching the news channels? Switch on some music/entertainment channel in the false hope that we are pushing the issue to the back of our minds, and life is normal? Pray for the safety of our loved ones, and wish that the entire operation ends quickly and all the perpetrators are caught/ killed? Or wish that they had taken a couple of cabinet ministers hostage instead, as if that would help wake up our ever-sleeping and thoroughly incompetent bunch of jokers we call our politicians?

Well, I guess we will tide this one over too, owing to our now-over-abused and over-stretched “resilience”, and normal life will resume again. Just as it has every time over the last 15 years that we have been bombed, shot at or targeted! But guys, seriously, when we talk of our so-called ‘spirit’, what choice do we have than to get back with our lives and pretend everything is normal? I mean it’s a question of survival after all, right? To me, its not spirit, its just our resignation to the fact that since we have a useless bureaucracy and even more useless politico, its no use expecting anything from them, better go back to work and forget everything. Sometimes I feel its this “resilience” that’s harmful for our own good, we resign to everything, and we just don’t demand enough/protest enough, which can at least make our great politicians take some notice. I guess that’s what being ruled by foreigners (and this goes back much before the British era) for centuries has done to us!

Spare a thought for the amazing rulers we have for us- a home minister who’s more in the news for changing his bandhgalas between meetings than for framing forward-looking policies (I heard a rumor there is an Indian attire fashion show being planned somewhere in his name!), a railway minister who has more scams in his name & more cows in his shed than the years he has spent on this earth, a prime minister who, notwithstanding the fact that he is an earnest man, sounds as threatening for the enemies as Venkatesh Prasad bowling a bouncer at a batsman, and most of all, a president who has decided to cut short her very important trip to far east (which was to my guess more of an effort in the direction of her improving her culinary skills in the sea-food category) more because another former superstar V.P. Singh has passed away (no disrespect intended at a person who has died, but you get the comparison!). Well, with this and more as a list to look up, its anyone’s guess that our enemies won’t really be quivering in their boots or even expecting an aggressive diplomatic real-politik stance from us!

Well, I don’t mean to sound entirely pessimistic, so lets dwell on some positives as well. And nothing can be more heartening for an Indian than the way our security forces, the NSG & the MARCOS have risked their lives in saving ours, and in the process we have lost some of our bravest citizens. My heartfelt salute goes out to all of them, for inspite of being poorly paid & shabbily treated, they have stood up for us when we needed them the most, and shown us what true bravery is all about, and who our true heroes are! God bless, gentlemen!

What now? Well, some points that keep coming up after every such incident so much so that they have become a tad rhetorical, though that doesn’t take anything away from their importance. First, reforms in the way our security forces are treated and improvement & more investment in their equipments and modernization of the same, on a war-footing. Creation of a central body on terror that will, most importantly, be an autonomous body and be answerable only to one person at the top(this looks a bit difficult, though!). Drastic and immediate improvements in the pay scales of our security forces, I mean this is so elementary that it’s a shame to even mention it! Reaching out to every community in our country through regular programmes, making sure every complaining voice is heard, and no situation is created wherein few people can take advantage of the feelings of injustice/hatred people may foster for each other.

Last but not the least, more involvement of our generation in politics, & what I mean by that is at least making sure each one of us votes. I know you will say they are all the same, but at least it has to be made clear to the politicians that the educated class cares in how the country is run, and if its not done properly, it will ask questions.

Let this be the turning point in how we deal with terror, and how we look at taking our country ahead, and I would end it on a positive note, quoting Morgan Freeman from Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies!”


Sunday, November 2, 2008

So long Jumbo!

I was spending the perfect Sunday afternoon, after a satisfying lunch at home thanks to our caring Maharashtrian cook, curled up on the drawing room sofa watching the India-Australia test match, when the news filtered in of Anil Kumble hanging up his boots. Well, not a surprising piece of news you might say, not even one that would evoke a lot of emotion among someone who doesn’t follow cricket.

However, I’m and always have been, an ardent cricket fan, and always believe test cricket is the ultimate test of a cricketer’s skills, and there is something about test cricket that mirrors life, that is so eerily similar to life itself! And it is with this background that I thought it fitting to pay tribute to a monumental cricketer, and man.

The last few days have been bringing along bad news by the galore, TV channels falling over each other to bring us news of the entire manoos-bhaiyya drama (I call it idiocy), the Assam blasts (of course, it’s a different matter that we have become completely de-sensitized to these by now, as along as we are in one piece, its cool!), not to mention the economic meltdown, courtesy which an entire breed of professionals seem to be losing their value in the matrimonial market! Amidst all this negativity, it was a welcome change to see some positive words and comments today in the channels, that’s the power of good old-fashioned goodness of character, integrity and dedication, words that are as alien to modern day society as politicians not indulging in regional vote-bank politics. And that’s what brings me to the man called Anil Kumble!

There is something very great about someone who refuses to give up, someone who stands tall in the face of adversity and still retains the strength of his character and doesn’t give up on the way he has decided to live his life, someone who is humble and modest often to a fault, someone who, even in these troubled and confused times, pursues his goal single-mindedly and without resorting to cheap gimmicks, low tricks and in a manner reminding everyone the way sport should be played, and indeed, life should be lived- with head held high! Qualities like these warm the cockles of our hearts, because deep down, we all nurture this goodness, and want to live life that way (trust me!), but most of us are too weak to resist the temptations, or we give in to our circumstances, as we love to say. The truth being, there is always a choice (quoting Spider-man), and its upto us to make it.

That’s Kumble’s legacy, not his 619 test wickets, or his nearly un-playable top-spinners or googlies, or his impeccable line and length, but to be able to demonstrate true leadership and be able to be a true champion, someone worthy of emulating and making a role model out of, whichever field one might belong to. Who can forget his bowling in West Indies with a fractured and heavily bandaged jaw, so much as he could hardly open his mouth even to appeal!

The farewell scenes were poignant, and brought a lump to my throat. But more than anything I realized what a true champion can do, he rises above the game or his own field, and gives us some pointers as to the way life should be lived, and unites us in a way which no politician or other hate-agents can ever dream to undo!

Well, I might be getting a bit emotional here, but I guess this is the vent I needed to pour out my feelings about the crap that has been happening lately! Guys, we all have a responsibility of behaving in the right way in the present circumstances, and to use an old chiche, spread the cheer!

And as far as Mr. Kumble is concerned, I guess it will suffice to say:

Well played sir!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A little help!

Hi guys,

How many of you have noticed what happens to the food that is laid out for us for lunch in our companies, after we finish? We dont normally notice, even I wouldn't have, until one day when I happened to go into our canteen for water at around 2.30 p.m., and to my horror, found quite a lot of food that was left over in the containers (and Im not talking of leftovers here), was being thrown into a plastic bag for disposal. What a sheer wastage of food in a country where there are so many people who dont even get a square meal a day!

I decided something needed to be done about this, and then I recollected reading somewhere there were some NGOs who voluntarily collected extra food from places and distributed it among the poor people. I did a quick net search, uploaded my query to karmayog (an NGO listing site), and sure enough, got a response from a gentleman who knew quite a few of these NGOs, and put me thorugh to one of them. I talked to them, and they were more than happy to enter into an arrangement whereby they would come to our office every day around 2.45, with their containers, and take the food to feed children who they took care of. This NGO is quite close to our office in BKC, so it suited both parties, and though only one week has gone by with them collecting extra food from our office, and the economic feasibility of the same is yet to be ascertained from their side, but at least some hungry children are getting to eat with a little help!

The reason for me telling you guys is not self-promotion, indeed, thats the last thing on my mind. But what I really want to achieve is bring about an awareness among our privileged generation that there are lots of people out there who are not as privileged, and that all it requires for you guys to start the same in your respective offices is, believe me, one hour of effort one day in googling for an NGO near your offices, and 15 minutes to talk to your office admin guys, trust me, there are always people willing to be associated with a good cause, they only need to be shown the way!

So, a humble request to all of you, try and implement the same in your offices. If you want, Ill share the number of the person who had contacted me initially, and also help you with the process. But only if you are interested!

Trust me, its a huge satisfaction to be got, particularly for those of us who keep complaining of not having job satisfaction!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An interesting conversation!!

Yes, I am writing a blog entry after quite some time. What prompted me to write is an interesting encounter or rather conversation I had this Saturday night with a Mumbai auto-rickshaw driver. I was coming back from a dinner, and had taken this auto from the station to my place, it was around 11 in the night. Our place is very close to Bal Thackeray’s, and as we passed his place, we saw a mini-congregation of TV reporters and cameramen outside, which had actually been a feature last few days, owing to the sudden increase in importance of politics and consequently our high profile politicians due to the trust vote facing the government.

The rickshaw driver wondered aloud what the fuss was all about, and politics being one of my favorite topics (we Bongs love to discuss politics, you see!), I launched into a full-fledged gyan session about the current Indian political scenario, the impending fall-outs of the trust vote, and so on. The driver was listening quite attentively, and once we reached our place, asked me if I have some time. Of course, I was totally vella, and sensing he wanted to talk about the topic, couldn’t resist it. He parked the auto at one side, and we, an unlikely discussion pair of an auto-rickshaw driver and a pseudo-intellectual wannabe, started discussing one of the most discussed national topics- Indian politics.

To my surprise, I found him to be very sensible and with strong views on Indian politics. He hailed from Uttar Pradesh, the state with the highest number of MPs in Lok Sabha, I guess that had an effect on his interest. We covered the full range- him talking about Rajiv Gandhi- his favorite politician, about how anyone who tries to do good work in politics either ends up dead or out of reckoning, to the dirty divisive politics being played by some of our current politicians. He had strong views on the recent attacks on North Indians in Mumbai, and how politicians are using the common people to foment hatred and thus keep themselves from losing political relevance.

We talked for about half an hour, during which we straddled the murky political world and the socio-economic issues as well, and we established a connect as many of our views matched. We parted with the decision that it’s the responsibility of people who understand and realize the wrongs that are perpetrated to try and spread the awareness among people, and when he mentioned he would try and do this in his own and nearby villages in U.P. and that he would approach the local councilor with the peoples issues and their stated support, I felt a sense of comfort, a sense that as long as there are some people like him in our villages and interiors, we need not worry.

Moral of the story- Sometimes you can have the most interesting conversations in the most unexpected places!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Attitude is everything- is it??

“Attitude is everything”. How often have we heard the above cliché (or so we believe it is), from teachers, parents, friends, success cookbooks, management gurus, so on and so forth? Remember that forward, which said that “attitude” is the only word in English the sum of whose alphabets’ position values adds up to 100?

Bah, you say, or most of us do, another one of those pseudo-intellectual discussions which lead to nowhere, how does attitude help me get rid of my problematic boss? Or my griping about being made to slave and being paid peanuts, relatively speaking? Or my girlfriend who never seems to understand my point of view? Or my potential in-laws who seem hell bent on marrying their daughter off to any Tom, Dick or Harry in this universe but me?

Well, the fact is that attitude, or for that matter, nothing will rid us of the above problems. Nothing can, because more often than not, its us where the problems start with. Trust me, this is not as part of any success cook-book, but something that I have realized over time.

By now you must be wondering, why this sermon, that too from someone who cannot lay claim to any level of success apart from somehow getting into a premier B-school and managing to come out of it unscathed? Well the fact of the matter is somehow I have been made to think a bit of late, due to whatever reasons, and just wanted to share my thoughts with whoever reads this. I wont deny it, I was reading this book “You can win” by Shiv Khera, and while I have no intention of promoting the book in this forum (no, I am not getting paid by him nor is he offering the hand of his beautiful daughter to me in marriage!), the first chapter itself set me thinking, and thus, by extension, typing this.

There is no success cook-book, no guarantee of instant success, if there would be then life would be so much easier. But the fact is that when you read such a book, you get to spend some time with yourself, and some times, also open some closed windows of our minds. Yeah, we interact a lot with people throughout the day, but with ourselves? No we don’t usually do that. Interacting with yourself, this guy must be a loony bin, you must be thinking! Well, what I mean by that is we all live with certain prejudices, and that includes a certain notion about ourselves, which sometimes makes it difficult to judge ourselves impartially.

But it helps, from time-to-time, to have these conversations with ourselves, where we are honest and where we try and open the windows of our minds. It helps us to know ourselves better, and trust me, I have realized, a lot of issues we create are because of the way we think, and if a little bit of change in that helps making our lives better and more successful, then why not?

Don’t know if this will help me, yet to find that out, don’t even know if I can sustain this looking inward thing, but would be glad to know anyone’s comments on this.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

And Dhoni goes to....

And Dhoni goes to.......Chennai!!(slam!)
And thus was ushered in a new era in cricket, or so it seems!! Well, love it, hate it, but the fat cash cows of BCCI have made sure that no one on this earth remotely interested in cricket will be able to ignore whats going on in IPL.
Every expert worth his salt has a view on the recent happenings, and there is no doubt whatsoever that the world of cricket has been shaken up from its very roots. Cricket, since its inception, has been a slow game compared to its peers like football and hockey, infinitely faster and more physically demanding. Perhaps in keeping pace with that, even ICC has generally been a rather slow, geriatric and reactive kind of a body, mostly manned by some old men wiht stubborn mindsets, and it takes, from time to time, a revolution of the sorts of Kerry Packer and now, the IPL to shake it out of its slumber, and redefine the rules of the game, so to say.
I'm by no means suggesting that IPL is the panacea that will change everything for the better, it comes with its own downfalls, like putting further strain on the already bloated international calendar, forcing(sometimes) players to choose between city(IPL) and country, however there is no missing the fact that there is already a buzz that has been created around the cricketing world, and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what course the events take.
Indeed, images of an alien-looking SRK or glam doll Preity Zinta lapping up Gilchrist and Dhoni like they were blue-chip stocks in a bullish market (its difficult to miss the India connection here) has taken commoditisation of cricketers to a new level, hitherto unforeseen or unheard of, and I cant help but feel that there would be a heartburn or tw among retired greats of he game seeing the obscene amounts of money the players are being bought for.
I was reading an interesting article by Allan Border about how India has too much say in world cricket at the moment, and how we are acting like 'imperial' rulers (couldnt help but chuckle at this:), and there will be a lot written about and spoken about this entire episode, but one thig can be said for certain, cricket as we knew it, will never be the same again. For better or for worse, only time will tell!
So till then, pass the popcorn, and start the show!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Games we play!

I had thought of writing a blog many times, once I had even started one, but somehow the enthusiasm didn’t last. But today, when after coming back from office, I was seated in front of the television, greeted by visuals of some vandals beating up people owing to regional sentiments, and most of all, people playing dirty politics and using it to foment poison in the minds of followers, I really thought restarting this blog could be the best way to give vent to my anger and frustration at all this.
These are dangerous games being played, no doubts about that, and poisoning the minds of the common man is nothing short of a heinous crime being committed here. The more we advance as a nation towards world dominance and superpower status, the more we are given towards sensationalisation and dramatization of smaller issues on the one hand, and sheer public apathy towards more critical issues on the other. Sample these news items over the past few days: divisive politics at its best (or worst) in Maharashtra, an alleged kidney kingpin who reportedly carried on his business for a long time with the connivance of the police, one of our brightest young tennis stars Sania being forced to think of not playing in her own country because of some hyper-imaginative elements.
Can you see a trend in all this? All this happening not in the rural areas, no, but in the heart of some of our major and supposedly most progressive cities. So what is the issue? Where does the problem lie?
A country is only as good or bad as its people, and the way we react to situations often defines us and our country. We Indians have always been apathetic by nature, it really doesn’t bother us if something wrong is going on around us, the common mentality being, as long as I don’t get affected, its ok. But the problem is, its not ok. It is this very apathy that is so often taken advantage of, and before we realize, we would be the ones getting affected as well. It’s a dangerous mindset to have, this i- me- myself thing, because if everyone starts thinking like that, can we imagine what our society is gonna be like?
Nothing ever changes, nothing ever will, that’s what we always tell ourselves, right? And why do we need anything to change, we all have enough issues of our own- at our workplace, with our girlfriends/ boyfriends, parents and many more- the sweaty polluted drive to work, the irritating colleague, I could go on and on. But in the midst of all this, we just need to ask ourselves once: are we really happy and satisfied at being so apathetic to everything? At shrugging our shoulders to everything? I bet the answer would be in the negative, well, at least I hope it will be!
That day some one of our generation mentioned to me she doesn’t want to vote, because whoever comes to power would be the same. But tell me honestly guys, how will someone good ever come to power if we don’t cast our votes at all?
Anyways, I am not a social reformer, and even I am trying to find answers to many questions life is posing currently, but I did feel very strongly seeing whats happening, and that’s why this long tirade! All I want to say is, there are many things that are good with our country, and there are things that can be better, and it is nobody but us who can make them better. And that I am sure of!