Friday 12 December 2008

Smile Please - Awesome Video...Needs time!

This is a great video, please see! 

It talks about happiness from within, it talks about love, it talks about the beautiful part of our lives and most importantly, it talks about the power of smile...a MUST watch.

Hope all of you will like it as much as I did.

Take care and keep smiling.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

The BLACK Days - Nov 26th to 28th 2008

There are no words for what happened in has scarred and angered every person, irrespective of sex, caste, creed, what ever happened, it certainly wasn't human!

This black badge has been put on to show anger and protest against such and forever.

Monday 1 December 2008

An Almost Hit & Run Case


There is neither a cartoon nor a light hearted image for this post. It is about sad, pathetic and impersonal being that we have become!

Today morning, dad and I left home at 0800hrs for dad's dental appointment. His appointment was at 0930hrs and we were hoping to reach Def Col early to grab a quick breakfast at Sagar. We started early to beat the traffic blues...and had been fairly successful as we crossed Dhaula Kuan in 25 minutes. We looked at the time, nodded to each other to convey we are cruising just fine.

Soon afterwards, while coming down the Moti Bagh flyover - we heard a crash. Dad saw this first and immediately alerted me to it. We were in the right-most lane and there was an accident happening in front of us in the middle lane. A car (Chevy Spark) had hit a bike from the rear-end. That had caused the loud sound, but what we witnessed after that is completely crazy...

Car hit the bike so hard that it caused the biker to come over and fall on its windscreen, smashing it. Then the biker fell on the road, thankfully he had his helmet strapped on and still protecting his head. The moment biker hit the road, since Spark was still accelerating, he came under the car. Till now, it appeared to be an accident where anyone could be at fault. I honestly do not know whether it was just one person's wrong-doing, I am not sure if it was just the Spark's driver at fault or if the biker had made a mistake as well.

All this while, people around were slowing down - so as not to cause any further damage to either the biker or even ourselves. The moment Spark crossed over the bike and the biker, it started to catch speed. It didn't take long for dad and I to realise that this was now turning from just an accident to a hit and run case. Since it was still early hours on a wintery morning, there wasn't much traffic on roads and this must have given Spark's driver confidence that he could get away with it.

When I saw him speeding, something inside me told me to follow him. I just could not imagine him running away like that, in broad day light. There was another person who reacted in the same fashion, this guy was slightly ahead of me. This guy tried to stop Spark, but feared his relatively new car could be hit as well. What he managed to do was slow down Spark and I took on Spark from there. Driving an old lancer, I knew two things were in my favour - one, I had a bigger stronger car that would allow me to over-power this guy and second, if the need be, I didn't mind ramming my car into his to make him stop.

It was a matter of seconds that this first of my life chase came to an end. The first factor, of having a stronger-bigger car with the confidence that it is an old horse, was enough to bring Spark to a standstill. My car's passenger door was inches away from Spark's driver side doors. I didn't want him to get out and start running, which I felt this guy was capable of. Just as soon as we stopped, I got down of my car and rushed to the passenger side of Spark - I think I was abusing this guy by now. I told him to stay where he was and not try coming out.

I was contemplating calling police, but before that about three-four other two-wheelers gathered around there. Apparently these guys had also witnsessed the accident. One of them got into Spark and landed a few fists on the driver's face. Then more joined in the party, dragged the driver out and thrashed him. I don't think they cared where their boxes and kicks landed as long as they hurt this driver. In all this, someone made a call to the police as well.

When the situation started heating like mob-anger, my dad convinced me to leave that scene. I think he was right in pulling me out of there, I could do nothing more. He had his rationale working...he didn't want us to be involved in a police case. In his years, he has seen a lot and dealt with such situations as well. Dad's view point was simple, we should not have allowed Spark's driver to get away and we did that. From there on, the way things turned - we were not required there anymore. So we left...went ahead with our plans, still reached Def Col with enough time for our breakfast, then met dad's dentist and came back home.

With all this happening about 8-9 hours ago, but I still cannot shrug off the entire incident from my mind. I am feeling guilty of something, but I don't know what. I realise I did something good in stopping Spark's driver and not allow him to run away, but I am feeling bad about the way he was bashed up...This guy looked a decent and educated, who had fear written all over his face. I think his biggest mistake was to try and flee from the accident scene, which could be simply because his brain stopped thinking straight and there wasn't any rational thought left in him.

There is another aspect to my feeling bad...I somehow understand that people like us do not wish to get entangled in police cases, but I know as well that is not how things should be. I don't know whether this is a shortcoming of our system, our administrators, our police officials, or are we ourselves to blame for it. But what I felt for the first time today and felt it first-hand that there is very little respect that we have for one another, that we have very little understanding of the law, that we have very little respect for law-enforcement agencies, that we have very little respect for the system that we love to abuse - but do little to follow it.

I have written earlier about a phenomenon - WISIR. That post came out true in its darkest shade today. Guys, I implore you to wake up and realise that we ourselves break many laws in our daily lives, we are to blame for the system to suck and stink and that we have the responsibility to clean ourselves first!

As a beginning, I am sure that I would try to be a better driver henceforth...hopefully you all shall realise one thing that you could improve in your daily lives as well.

Happy Improvements...Cheers!

Thursday 27 November 2008

Nitish Singal

There are few such occasions when we actually stop to think about our past, about people who we came in contact with, about people who we lost contact with, about events that made us, about events that almost broke us – but we fought through, about achievements and failed attempts, about love that we thought was real and about love that was actually real, about aspirations that we had, about dream-castles that we built, about life in general…
I experienced something like this the day before. It was past mid-night, I was at a coffee shop celebrating Nitish’s birthday. This was a special time, as we were celebrating his turning thirty. Somehow this just feels special…Sitting there, I could only think of past thirteen years that we have been friends. I will not elaborate on why and how he is important to me; just this much should be enough that I have shared all that is mentioned above with him over the years. And now, I would like to share some of him with all of you:
Nitish the badminton player – early 1990s, he was in Dehradun. He took up badminton and took it seriously. Played and practiced for hours daily, wanted to become an athlete of note…but an injury held him back. He was hurt, he was disappointed and he was heart-broken…but this wasn’t end of the world for him.
Nitish the Editor – School Magazine – he joined TAFS in class XI (mid-1990s) and took up Journalism as his SUPW subject. He excelled at it and was rewarded next year with the position of Editor – School Magazine. Later (same year), he also became first to receive the Journalism Trophy on School's Annual Day function. Though I was contesting for both, but losing them to Nitish was the second best option and I accepted it.
Nitish the lover – well, thankfully our dostana is straight. Anyhow, he is a guy who has loved, lost, fought for what was lost, rued over it, pulled himself out, attended marriages of past girl-friends and amongst all this – found his true love, married her and has never been as content with life ever before!
Nitish the dreamer – dreaming has been his favourite pass time and the biggest nemesis as well. In school he would dream of becoming the Prime Minister of India, more to correct the situation than for power. Then we both grew older, he joined MDI Gurgaon to do his MBA and his dreams became corporate. He dreamt featuring on the cover page of a business magazine before he turns 35. There have been few dreams that were more realistic and have come true for him. But dreaming becomes his nemesis when he forgets to cherish fulfilled dreams and starts chasing new ones. In this chase, he may be missing out on small packets of happiness.
Nitish the cool head – I have never (and I mean NEVER) seen him scream or raise his voice on anyone. He is Mr. Cool – who comes across as a person with calm written all over him when situations push him to the wall.
Nitish the friend – well, that is what he has been in the truest sense. I don’t know how to describe this bit. I can only hope you have had a friend in life to understand what he means to me…
Thank you Nitish, I wish you the best of everything and may all your dreams come true…

Monday 24 November 2008


Three words that stated a vision…three words that started a campaign…three words that touched a million hearts…three words that set thousands to wake up and take notice……three words that united people across age, sex, creed…three words that showed character…three words that echoed confidence…three words that challenged the existing system…three words that took a nation (and the world) by storm…three words that allowed people to dare to dream again…three words that gave everyone hope... three words that made history..."YES WE CAN"

I have not seen a stronger punch line, I have not followed a campaign more closely and I have not heard a statesman with so much passion and humility – than that of the now President-elect, Mr. Barack Obama.

This post is just to show my support for him…I wish him the best.


Wednesday 5 November 2008

Success - An Inexplicable Concept


In past, I have often felt inadequate in defining parameters to understand and judge success in life. The way it seemed to me, there was no way of saying when a person’s successful or a failure.

I tried to speak to people around me and found that people either were similarly confused on the topic or had some sort of a notion (even if in a vague manner) of what success meant to them.

I realised that for most of us who work, professional success is the only parameter in life. Some thought earning X would make them successful, while others dreamt of featuring on the cover page of a business magazine. There were a few who just wanted to own up a business and make it big (i.e. - make lots and lots of money). The only problem was that even they did not know at how much in the bank, they can term themselves as successful!

In my quest to understand this subject better, I have met some gurus - where the guru-mantra was taken directly from 'Gita'..."don't worry about the result, focus on efforts". Well, I by now have understood this bit - I have understood that success can only be achieved with the right mix of determination, knowledge, hard-work, right attitude, faith (just the way my first cartoon mentions)...

The problem still persisted...even if I had what it takes and I found my road to success...I still would not know how long is this road and what is my destination & where is my destination!!!

It is then that the second level of guru-mantra was given to me: I was asked to visualise my own parameters of success…which only made me think of things that money could give me. I thought of all the things that I didin’t have and in a typical middle class mindset, I realised that there is a cap to my vision as well.

Well, I am not against financial parameters, neither do I feel monetary gains to be worthless. But somehow I cannot keep that as my personal success barometer. I am sure there still are and will always be people who would have more money than I can even imagine. So – if money in bank becomes my success-gauge, then I already know I am doomed!!! Also, come to think of it – at what levels of wealth, do we ever say – “Oh, I have enough!!!”

After much thought, I have come to realise that there is actually a better way of looking at this entire scenario. I now think of how I want to be if and when I am 80years old, think about what kind of a life I would want to lead in that journey – whether it would be an average one or a memorable one. Without a doubt, I choose the latter!

I feel much at peace knowing that my success has to be balanced between things that can be bought by money and things that cannot be bought by money. I feel lighter knowing I am no longer chasing a dream that can never be fulfilled. I feel stronger knowing success is not any destination but the journey itself and I am ready to walk all the way.

I now find myself trying to make each day count, I now seek non-material wealth around me, I now chase learning and I now find myself happier…


Saturday 1 November 2008

Appropriately So...

Don't you all love Calvin!!!

Thursday 16 October 2008

What is law these days?


I think this is what we all are moving utter and complete scenario of universal lawlessness, where there shall be one and only one law - "what I say is right (WISIR)"!

There have always been instances and examples that can be qouted from past - but it is only in last few years that WISIR has really taken shape and is beginning to look formidable enough to take on previously written rule-books. 

This concept is usually seen practiced by people who have or seem to have power given by today's rule-books. Power is also an interesting concoction of what is rightly given and what is taken by might.

I am a part of it as well...even if I try and pretend that my degree of practicing WISIR is way below many others, but I still am a part of this! Interestingly I am neither happy nor really bothered by the fact that number of people not practicing WISIR are diminishing...hmmm...come to think of it, I am a bigger memeber of this group than I would like to admit...

Sunday 12 October 2008

Money Money Money...

"Money Money Money...Must be funny...In the rich man's world...
All the things I could do...If I had a little money...It's a rich man's world..."

There are a plenty such moments when I find myself humming this famous ABBA number in my mind...but with recent global financial meltdown - I no longer just hear my inner voice repeating these lyrics...a lot more people are joining in and it may just become a World Anthem soon.

Thus, I stand up and with my hand on my heart, in full earnestness I sing it aloud...

"Money Money Money...Must be funny...In the rich man's world...
All the things I could do...If I had a little money...It's a rich man's world...

Sunday 28 September 2008

Terror hits Delhi


It seems like bombs can just go off at will now...whether they are sophisticated and well planned, like the ones that went off on 13th Sept 2008 or one-off incident like the one that went off in Mehrauli, yesterday. There certainly seems to be some buzz about it, some weird sense of fear and threat that hovers on us and this has become a talking point between people in Delhi and people out side Delhi.

There has been good deal of media coverage, both as a part of their duty and as a selling sensation. Media and police do make attempts in sending out messages that should educate and enable individuals in better-managing this fear. But we still live with it, crumble under it at times and that is the biggest victory for minds that plan and action such dastardly deeds.

The biggest aim for terrorists is to spread fear and unrest amongst masses. This can have a snow-ball affect on a locality, then quickly spread across the city and finally have the country in its grip. This is beyond law and order situation - since this is to do with our mind. If we continue to live under cloud of fear, what life would it be!

A friend of mine says - the only way to fight terrorism is to fight fear in our minds...a good thought to leave you guys with - I guess. Think about it, there is nothing else to it and there is no other way to it either...

Friday 26 September 2008

Nothing official about it...


Innocent humour guys...innocent humour!

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Legally Married Now...


Today is another very special day - I and Tina (my wife) became legally married as well...earlier we were certified by Hindu customs, fire God and society to live a married life - now we have been issued certificated by the law to carry on living a married life!

It may not mean much or a lot in days to come - but I still felt good to have Tina by my side. She's the kind who could just as easily become as the wife shown above to the kind that she really is - someone who knows and understands me the best.

Well - this is just to let Tina know that I love her and forever!

Saturday 13 September 2008

Shahid Bhagat Singh - A Tribute


I am sure that there is no introduction required for the person whose picture is pasted above. What is required here is for me to explain my reasons to want to write about Shahid Bhagat Singh...

Let me be honest here - I have never thought deeply about the entire freedom struggle that finally managed to free India from the British rule. I have seen, heard and even read stories (multiple times probably) and always feeling blessed to be born in a free land.

The first few things that I remember about the freedom struggle stories is seeing the movie "Gandhi" by Richard Attenborough in my early teens and then seeing this movie every 02nd October, when DD showed it without fail! From that - to our History course book, few stories and many more movies that revolved around the same theme.

In all this, I think from very early on my mind started to believe that it was Mahatma Gandhi (he and his ideology) who was one and the only one to have managed to drag the Britishers out of India. Today, I think differently - not that I think any less of Mahatma Gandhi (I cannot), just that I now know that there were others who contributed in their own way - whether with or without Mahatma's approval or even appreciation!

There is a relatively short list of names that come to my mind - who contributed to India's freedom struggle and still were in Mahatma Gandhi's bad books. One such name is of Shahid Bhagat Singh. I have known of his stories, about his courage, about his ultimate sacrifice. But, unlike for Mahatma Gandhi, where we can have an overload of Gandhi - the person, Gandhi - the thinker, Gandhi's philosophy, Gandhi's writings and more importantly, what made MK Gandhi into Mahatma Gandhi. There isn't much available that allows us to understand Bhagat Singh the person, Bhagat Singh the thinker and similarly what made Bhagat Singh into Shahid Bhagat Singh.

Out of sheer bombarding of heroic stories about Bhagat Singh, there were actually two views that I had been exposed to (through peers, through teachers, through thought-provoking discussions at times):

1. He was a true legend, who sacrificed everything for one and only one cause - India's Independence

2. He was a terrorist, who has been given a legend's status post India's Independence

It was this second view that used to disturb me and all this started playing on my mind more in 2006. It was in that year that there was some activity towards celebrating Shahid Bhagat Singh's centenary birth anniversary next year (2007).

Then came RDB - the most moving movie of recent times, that woke up the youth of India and shook up all! It was for the first time that I felt there is more to Bhagat Singh that I know. But it was not before last weekend that I did something about it. I was in a book shop, looking for my next book. And I came across an interesting title: Without Fear - The life & trial of Bhagat Singh, by Kuldip Nayar. It was almost instantly that I bought this book.

There were broadly two objectives in my mind, which led me to buy this book:

1. To try and answer which of the two types (mentioned earlier in this post) was Bhagat Singh in reality and
2. To try and understand what was Bhagat Singh - the thinker like, what was he fighting for, what was he fighting against and what did he want for reward

I think this book managed to help me fulfill both my ojectives. A must read for everyone who wants to know about the political scenario of India in late 1920's - from a perspective that is completely different from how the then Congress saw it and asked masses to perceive it as.

More than that - this book brings out the mind of Bhagat Singh to life. We may know of his courage and how he faced his end - but we probably won't know that he was an aetheist and never prayed to God, not even in his last few days. In his own words:

"I am going to sacrifice my life for a cause. What more consolation can there be? A God-believing Hindu may expect to be reborn a king; a Muslim or Christian might dream of the luxuries he hopes to enjoy in paradise as a reward for his sufferings and sacrifices. What hope should I entertain? I know that it will be the end when the rope is tightened around my neck and the rafters are moved from under my feet. To use more precise religious terminology - it will be my moment of utter annihilation. My soul will come to nothing. If I have the courage to think of this matter in the light of a "reward", I see a short life of struggle with no such magnificent end as itself my "reward". That is all.

With no selfish motive or desire to be awarded here or hereafter, quite disinterestedly have I devoted my life to the cause of independence, because I could not do otherwise."

Through this book, I could also see (for the first time) the single biggest difference between a terrorist and a revolutionary. A terrorist (individual or group) has the aim to spread fear amongst masses, so as to allow that individual or group to get their way. They may still have a cause that fills them up with enough grit to be prepared for loss of their own life. But, their method is destruction and destruction alone.

Whereas, a revolutionary is not just fighting for the cause of (say) independence, but is ruled by the thought that what will we do post indepencdence, how will we ensure that life is better for one and all once we have achieved our goal of becoming independent. In their opinion, task at hand was not just political independence, but it is political, social and economic independence.

The revolutionary party, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) - led by Bhagat Singh, was inspired by Russian Revolution and Lenin was considered to be their idol. It was believed that without plans for social reforms and upliftment of poor, asking for independence was futile. It would have meant that "white babus were replaced with brown babus".

According to HSRA, terrorist activities were important to let the British governement (both in India and in the UK) realise that Indian youth was awakening and not ready to accept suppression, cruelty and brutality with folded hands. HSRA wanted to hit back at the British - but not just do that. According to Bhagat Singh:

"Revolution necessarily implies the programme of systematic reconstruction of society on a new and better adopted basis, often necessitating complete destruction of the existing state of affairs."

Since nationwide, there was a pro-Gandhi sentiment that prevailed - thus anybody or any thought that was rubbished by Gandhi was rubbished by people at large. HSRA felt the heat and at no given opporunity, did the Congress stop from condemning HSRA's actions. Bhagat Singh and his comrades realised this and discussed at great lengths about how can they educate people about their ways and socialist plans.

It was during one such discussion that it was decided that they need a public forum to announce who they were, what did they stand for and what according should independence really mean - which is political, social and economic. And it was Bhagat Singh who was chosen as party's representative - since he was thought to be the man who believed in this concept most and could communicate it the best - even though all understood that this only meant the end of Bhagat Singh's life (along with his other comrades who stood by him during this). But then, has there ever been a revolution without sacrifice!!!

This was managed by throwing relatively harmless bombs in the Assembly Hall, New Delhi - on 08th April 1929. It is here that Bhagat Singh surrendered himself to the police. This was the plan - the only way to evoke nationwide interest in HSRA and use the court as the public platform to broadcast the real philosophy of revolutionaries. Knowing it only meant death for him and his comrades, Bhagat Singh dealt with it in a manner that this was the only way and thus had to be done. He took pride in being handed the death penalty - as he knew that what he and his comrades had started - it wouldn't dampen with their ultimate sacrifice, rather their death would fuel it up further!

Well - I have never known Shahid Bhagat Singh better than today and can only hope that for those who have any interest have got to know him better through this post now. I for sure have not been able to write all that I wanted to or could have, thus I recommend people reading this book - Without Fear!

I would like to end with a poem by Rabindranath Tagore:

Where The Mind is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; 
Where knowledge is free; 
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; 
Where words come out from the depth of truth; 
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
 Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action-- 
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Reading Bug V/s Writer's Block


In last two months my regularity of posting thoughts on this blog has taken a nose-dip. I have many times thought of getting back at it - but unfortunately never managed to either start on a subject of my liking or couldn't finish off a post.

Today, I have a strong reason to want to write - I suggested a fellow blogger to be more regular on posting on his blog...then I realised that I haven't done that myself in a long here I am!

I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts "My Latest Purchase - Writer's Block" that I had become a proud owner of Calvin's invention - The Writer's Block. It seems to be a strong tool - anyhow, it came with a freebie - which I didn't know at the time of buying it, but am most glad about it - The Reading Bug!

When my ordered Writer's Block was delivered to my doorstep and I opened it - I was pleasently surprised to find this freebie, Reading Bug, inside. I didn't realise then that I could find use of both - but believe me that both have been extra strong in their effect on me. All of you can see what the block has done to me and on the other hand - the bug has made me read six novels in ten weeks.

I can't explain the feeling, to be back into the groove to read. And because of such efficiency that both, the block and the bug, have displayed - I can't decide which is a better bet! Since one comes with the other in this case - I think I shall hold on to both.

Friday 8 August 2008

It has been raining in Delhi


It has been the rainiest Jun-July-Aug for Delhi in recent years. I don't recall when did we get as much rain as this year, more importantly - for three consecutive months. Anyone who knows me well, would also know my love for rains. They completely drive me up the wall...

Well, it started in the year 2003 - when I drove dad's car in a water pool and got stuck! Back then we used to get knee-high water pools everytime it rained. One morning, it was raining hard and I decided to take dad's car. On my return, I was welcomed by water pools and I didn't want to enter it. But then, as it is said "vinash kale, viprit bhuddhi"...I saw a Maruti Van going steady through this pool. I had driven through such pools earlier as well, everytime driving in the first gear with the acceperator touching the floor.

With my past experince and the confidence of seeing another car managing its way steadily - I decided to venture in this pool! But that was a BIG mistake, as it tunred out within minutes...

Being slightly immature (that's what I would call it for lack of experience) and in hurry - I didn't wait to see how the Maruti Van manages the entire struggle. The fact that she was going steady, but was still just half way through - should have rung some alarm bells - telling me to see how she manages to get out safely. Since I didn't wait - I entered right after her...soon I was met with terror.

Being in a Maruti Esteen, I was going faster than the Van through the pool and soon I was about to catch up with her. It was right then, the Van decided enough is enough and broke down...right in the middle of the pool....errr, the road! With me just behind her - seeing that she had come to a halt almost abruptly - I braked...and that was the end of my journey inside my car through the pool.

My house was just a few hundred meters from that spot where I was getting soaked in rain - trying to push a very heavy car all by myself. But those few hundred meters seemed longer than any distance I have travelled so far. The damage to the car was way beyond I could anticipate...the engine got jammed as somehow water entered some God-for-saken pipe...whew! This cost my dad loads...and I didn't drive his car for many months to come.

Since then rains and I have had a love-hate relationship...

But seriously, guys tell me - what is it that you like about the rains that you would want it to rain more than necessary. By 'necessary' I mean - the amount of rains that our agriculture requires, or our health requires...but anything more than that is just trouble to me. The roads go from bad to worse, the traffic becomes pain in the a** from pain in the neck and there is just too much of muck all over.

Well - that is just me...I am sure one amongst rare to feel so about one of the better liked phenomenon - Rains! There still could be a healthy divide on how many like / dislike other seasons like summer, winter - but for rains - I feel most would like to love rains. Please tell me why???

That's it from leave your comments and feedback. Thanks...take care, keep smiling and drive very carefully when it rains.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

My latest purchase - writer's block!


I come back to writing after a really long last 30 days, I could manage just one post. Well - after all I am one of the few who bought Calvin's invention - the Writer's Block!!! Anyhow, now I am back and first would like to fill in with what has been happening in my life...

Last month has not just seen me buy the block, but also some hectic schedules along with some real fun times. It has been an exciting month for more than one reason...

It is sort of difficult to start here...what should I set the ball rolling...hmmm...let me just start...

Okay - after ages...and I actually mean ages did I read two novels in a month (by that I mean, from start to finish). Yes - that used to be regular when I was in college, but in recent years - I manage to complete one (or two at the max) in a year. But July saw me finish two...the good part is that I am on with my third now.

I first took up "Deception Point' by Dan Brown. This was a fast paced political drama - very enthralling. I would probably not rate it better than The Da Vinci Code - but it was good enough for me to burn the midnight oil for three consecutive nights and finish the novel. It was yet another 'unputdownable' from this author (first being TDVC).

My second novel of the month was Chetan Bhagat's 'The 3 mistakes of my life'. "Wow" is all that I can say for this story...truth and fiction have been blended beautifully by Bhagat in this story. I am tempted to call this one yet another 'unputdownable' that I got my hands on. I don't think comparng Dan Brown and Chetan Bhagat makes any sense - both are in different leagues and are leaders in their respective leagues.

Now, in August - I have recently (last night that is) started reading yet another bestseller from Dan Brown - Angels & Demons. It certainly promises to keep me up for couple of more nights - that's all that I can say about what I think of this novel.

Well then - reading novels apart, there were other exciting things that I was a part of. One of them being my trying out food at Varq - before its official launch. Wells thanks a ton S&S...Food at Varq was not just delectable - but it was food's presentation that completely awed me. It is an Indian cuisine restaurant - but completely the only one of its kind - AMAZING!

One of the most special occasion for the month of July was coming together of Tina and my dear friends - Arif and Shriya as husband & wife. They got married on 17th, 18th and 18th of July. If you are thinking what does this mean...well that is the exciting part. On the 17th - these two got married legally, in court that is. Then on the morning of 18th - they got married with Hindu rituals and later in the day - had a Nikah as well. Yeah - got married thrice within 24 hours!!! Well - I wish both of them the best and all the happiness they has been long over-due.

With all this excitement - consider this that I work in an environment where each moment could bring in something to excite, trouble, push me down or pull me up...that is the brilliance of working on your own and owning a start-up! Guys - do visit Grehom - tell me what you think of it, give me suggestions on what you think can / should improve...your inputs shall be greatly appreciated!

All right then - that is all for now. Will try and be more regular with my posts this month. Take care and keep smiling...

Sunday 20 July 2008

Smile please...


This post is going to be short and is intended to make a few people smile, since they don't do that much these days!

I hope they see this post and realise that no matter what - there isn't anything worth frowning about and that there is always something that could bring a is just up to us to see things.

I will sign-off with my trademark signature - take care and keep smiling!

Thursday 3 July 2008

Are we doing enough - if at all?


Last evening I met an old friend, Pradeep. We were in college together and hadn't even met in the last 3-4 years but somehow remained in touch all this while. All that we knew always was - what is the other person doing these days...nothing beyond!

I knew that after completing BSc Statistics, he joined MSc Statistics (a brave one) and then joined Institute of Economic Growth, which for information sake, is not just an academic institute but a professional research and analysis organization as well. Pradeep, after spending sometime at IEG, shifted to Planning Commission and then eventually came back to IEG.

Since all this he had done in the last 3-4 years, the period when we hadn't even met - we had much to catch up on. He first tried to explain what IEG does and how do they operate - this I will not elaborate as it is available on their website. Then he went on to explain what he does at IEG and how.

Pradeep is a part of a four-member unit that manages research projects that IEG gets on Health. Under this umbrella, Health - there are various streams that are worked upon. Pradeep was talking about the latest project that he worked on - Human Development and HIV in Bellary district, Karnataka. This project was commissioned by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

To be honest, I hadn't heard of this district - Bellary. Then, I didn't even know that Bellary had one of the highest number of HIV cases amongst some 610 odd districts of India. And then Pradeep told me the most astonishing thing - Bellary is one of the most flourishing and well to do (financially) districts as well, in the state. It happens to be a big market for luxury items - choppers (as in private helicopters) and Bentleys are the norm for business lords. Point to note here is the term 'business lords' - it has been used to indicate that this sort of glossy image is restricted to the few who own up business there. Bellary is an iron-mining hub of India and China is a big customer. Even though Bellary is a mining hub - but there is a large portion of it that has fallen to illegal hands.

Anyhow - coming to the facts that actually lead to a high number of HIV cases in this town. From a Human Development and other general Health related research specialist's eyes - prostitution and truck drivers are normal scenarios. But the prevalence of locally acceptable bigamy and / or mistresses along with still-enforced 'Devdasi' custom - most of them practicing unsafe sex - are the major contributors to a steep growth in HIV+ cases there.

I was getting more and more interested in Pradeep's first hand story as I wanted to reach to its end and understand - "so, after studying all this, after seeing all this - what do you guys propose and what do you guys think will happen for and in Bellary?"

This is where I sensed the first signs of frustration showing up in Pradeep's voice and words. Till now - he sounded excited about his line of work, he sounded concerned about what he saw and observed in Bellary - but now - another emotion...FRUSTRATION!

He was honest enough to say, "look, all that IEG is supposed to do is conduct a research, analyse data - set it against a hypothesis and prepare a report with suggestions for improvement. Beyond this, it upto the commissioning body (UNDP in this case) and the policy makers (local and central governments) to do anything with this report." This statement in itself told me that in his not-so-long career he's already seen this happen on more occasions than he would like to.

His supervisor - a seasoned economist and research specialist tells him to cool down. Explains that this is the fault of 'your-generation' as you guys want things to happen quickly and the results to come out even quicker. In all this, Pradeep puts up a brave front and believes that if people and organizations working on such projects - all start questioning the reason and result of any such research, then probably there wouldn't be any progress. It is a question of someone doing something, even if that effort doesn't bring out the best possible solution(s).

I, in some sense, agree with him. It is after all the easiest for me to do. I can agree that yes, IEG and other such research bodies or even organizations like the UN should conduct such programmes and think about how to improve the situation. But - the question that has been troubling me is - can I do something?

After pondering over it for one full night - another question cropped up - DO I WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT???

The answer is a feeble YES!

Well, honestly - it is a yes but I use the adjective 'feeble' to it because that's what it is. I want to do something - there is no doubt about it. But is this feeling strong enough to make me get up - book tickets to Bellary and actually go there to experience what Pradeep had told me. No, it is not. This yes is true only to the extent that 'doing-something'about-it' does not upset my daily routine in any manner, it does not make my mind run away from my regular responsibilities and does not pose a hinderance in my personal growth and development.

So - here I am doing my bit...I have tried to bring this issue out through this post as I could not see any quicker way of spreading the word, than this. Just as the cartoon you see at the start of this post - I am doing community service on the Internet!

I thank Pradeep to have exposed me to a scenario that I had kept a blind eye towards, believing that ignorance is bliss!

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Kiss and Make-up


In his latest book, Chetan Bhagat has touched upon an interesting piece of information that I think is worth sharing. It is about chimpanzees, but makes a lot of sense for us, humans, as well.

As Bhagat writes, in a group of chimps - male of the species would fight amongst each other over food, women, wine (that's my contribution) and anything else worth fighting for...but at the end of it, no matter who wins or loses - they would kiss each other on the lips and make-up...yeah, kiss and make-up! Well, Bhagat also mentions that this is done to ensure that no matter what reason was for this fight, in the end - they all belong to the same group and this should not get in the way of their otherwise loving relationship!

I came across this and thought that if chimps are clever enough not to carry on their grudges, why can't we try and do the same. It may sound weird at first - because reader's mind is still stuck on the aspect that male chimps kiss each other on the lips...but try and read more into it. Think about it - would it not make a difference if we could just kiss (the person we are allowed to kiss) after any fight / skirmish - if we could just manage to tell that look let's move on...would this not make a difference immediately.

The point here is simple, please decide - are chimps smarter than us or are humble enough to forgive!

Tuesday 24 June 2008

Ever increasing fuel prices...


I should start by accepting that fuel prices in Delhi are still cheaper than in other metros of the country. I should also mention that roads are much better here than most of the other metros of the country. Both these realities point towards relatively cheaper travel-by-car lifestyle...but is that really so!

Even if that is so - does it matter to me that I am paying less than some other guy in Bombay or Madras (btw, I still like the older names of these cities). The point is - I am paying more than what I used to. The point is my entire lifestyle is travel-by-car dependant and now it has started to pinch (a little more than that actually).

I just hope that the fuel prices come down sooner than later, or else I would surely be on a two-wheeler!

Monday 23 June 2008

My weight loss program continues...


This is in continuation of my previous post "I have lost some weight..." and unlike the woman in cartoon above, I have lost a few kilos!

Its been a little over three months that I was first made to realise what a heavy (and big) frame I had become and that I had to do something about it. This something about it was also served to me on a platter, with booking receipts to a gym membership.
I joined the gym, which was for the first time in my life and did take a fancy to the treadmill and the cross-trainer machine. Coming back from office, changing hurriedly and rushing to the gym to sweat it out was great fun - I must admit. In a few weeks itself - I could see that there is some improvement and I mentioned this in my last post on the topic. That time I had lost about 2-2.5 kgs.

But then, unfortunately the gym got sealed out by the sealing authorities (it was apparently illegal to run a gym from the basement house of a residential colony). Along with this closure - came the end of my exercise regime as well. But to my surprise, today I stand 6 kgs lighter than the day I first went to the gym.

What caused this continued loss of weight - well I don't know...just that my wife had ensured that we eat a little less fatty stuff and manage to go out for evening walks a little more regularly than otherwise...

It is such a great feeling to have all my jeans loose enough to fall down unless worn with a belt. But, the supreme happiness comes when people start telling you that you have slimmed down. And I have not been told by one or two - but a plenty!

Now - even though the gym remains closed (despite being un-sealed) I have started doing Yoga. This does not make me sweat just as much as I used to in the gym - but it certainly tires me out completely...let's see if I can manage to lose some more kgs in the coming weeks and come closer to my target weight.

Friday 6 June 2008

Is A Business Owner the Only One Responsible


I came across an interesting question that someone had posted - what is it that a business owner understands and not his employees?

This question immediately struck me - as I have been on both sides with being an employee for much longer than a business owner. I still feel that most of me works, thinks, functions like an employee - but this part of me is fading, slowly but surely.

I have not been able to truly pin-point what is the difference between an employee and an employer - but in my understanding, it is the sense of ownership.

I think the biggest challenge that one faces when the 'cross-over' happens, is the fact that now ownership is all yours. And I don't mean ownership as just who owns a business, but ownership of thoughts, ideas, results, drive, motivation, learning, speed, finances (or the lack of it) - well, just about everything is your own. That means, the-buck-stops-at-you!

As an employee, whether in a large-scale organization of a small one, there is always someone else who was supposed to deliver something - and since that didn't happen, I didn't do what I was supposed to. When one has his / her own business, then these things don't matter. Work not done means lost opportunity and time-wasted.

Having said that, I think it is not only the business owners who can actually feel the pressure of ownership - there are many employees who would take complete ownership of their set of responsibilities and when these responsibilities grow - sense of ownership grows as well.

What it all comes down to is this, if all employees start taking complete ownership of their responsibilities, then their relationship with the employer would improve and thus the employer shall not look like a scary halloween character! This shall improve the overall work culture and atmosphere - thus the results, for one and all!

Cheers...Happy Working!