Monday 30 September 2013

India is In...Indians are Out!

Every time I think of checking my cynicism towards India in general...every time I tell myself that there are improvements that I need to acknowledge...every single time I am let down. I am beginning to better understand that my negativity is not directed towards India as as much as Indians. The general lack of civility and increasing apathy are making us a community of hollow individuals. Unfortunately, it is no longer a matter of my expectations not being met or I am being let down - the problem is much deeper...every single time India is disappointed & let down by Indians! 

The recent most incident happened yesterday (Sunday - 29th Sept '13) at the least expected place - Siri Fort Auditorium. I must clarify here - before I write more about last evening – the entire (mis)management was done by an event management company (Rock Castle - their website isn't worth mentioning here) and Siri Fort auditorium had no role in it.

S.F. Auditorium is Delhi's most reputed auditoriums, which also implies some of best events happen here. Since yesterday's event was a ticketed event (fusion musical performance) and judging by ticket prices, most of the people there should have been discerning music lovers. All in all, it promised to be an evening high on energy and entertainment. Unfortunately, problems started right at the entrance gate.

Performance was scheduled to start at 1800hrs and people had started queuing up at around 1700hrs - since there were no seat numbers provided, just blocks - Premier / Gold / Silver. With hundreds in the queue, more joining in every minute - people were not sure why the iron gates hadn't opened and it was already 1740hrs. The eagerly-awaiting-and-now-getting-impatient-audience couldn't have imagined that this was just the beginning of an evening of standing and waiting in queues.

After standing in another queue, this time at the door of the auditorium building (not the main auditorium still) and exchanging heated words with the security staff, people managed to almost break through to enter the building (largely thanks to handful of hot-heads heading the queue). Up until this moment, there was still a concept of queue and some sort of decorum was being maintained.

Beyond this, all of us were subjected to some more ridicule...we had another queue to stand in - this time just outside the main auditorium. Time was already beyond 1800hrs and none of audience members were allowed to even enter the auditorium's sitting area, one can forget about the performances to start on time. The elderly, the differently abled and the rest - all were treated equally. No one could go inside to sir and had to wait, no one was given any reason for this decision.

So far, I was disappointed with one part of Indians - the manager Indian, who fucked up this otherwise reputed auditorium and took away the pleasure of a musical performance by giving the audience such a horrible start to their evening. But - the things that followed not only disappointed me more, but made my cynicism stronger.

Since there were no seat numbers mentioned on tickets, it was a first come first sit arrangement. Had the management been better, people were informed of the reasons for such delay, some level of humanity was shown towards the elderly and differently abled - things would have been better...but the fact is still that the otherwise considered "discerning audience", turned into a rowdy crowd. Queue became non-existent just as soon as the door opened, and the no-brainer started to happen. People started pushing and shoving, trying to get ahead of as many as they could. That was the end of my trying to lower my cynicism.

I can accept all of this if it was some crazy experiment run by a much milder version of The Dark Knight's Joker. I quote the Joker: "Introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos" and "Madness, as you know, is a lot like gravity, all it takes is a little push." In this instance, push came from the event management company - the way this entire episode unfolded - it was nothing less than chaos and people did turn into a mad bunch. Joker - 1; People - 0!

India may be the 'in' thing on the world map, but I am not sure if Indians deserve to my opinion, then are out!

Saturday 28 September 2013


Those were the days, those were the times...
telling myself - "they were the best"

Taking pride in hurdles crossed...
At times, cursing myself for blunders done

Constantly thinking about the past...
constantly comparing my today with my yesterday

Trying to relive life already lived...
forgetting life I am living

Not realising - when 'tomorrow' becomes 'today'...
the not-so-good 'today' would seem better

Time doesn't stand still, it is I who is stuck...
Am I lost...or just asleep still

I need to get up, open my eyes and realise...
Life is not in 'back then', it is right is 'now'

Friday 27 September 2013

Leave me alone!

Rigid about people I want in my life, rigid about managing social relationships my way, rigid about following societal norms as I see fit, rigid about not pretending, rigid about not caring (if I genuinely don't), rigid about living life as I think is best for me!

I have been given an earful by many about how I deal with society in general...I have had to sit through sermon-like monologues, explaining why society is important and why I can not decide to not march along with it. When the all this talk seem to have no impact on me, I am subjected to the following: "treat this society as a network and networking helps - not just in personal life, but also professional"...I haven't understood this and don't think I would anytime anyway!

I don't look in the mirror and see a rebel or a crusader - I have nothing against the society per se, I don't wake up every morning and plan to take down 'the man' - I don't have a secret parallel life - spent planning a societal overhaul (though this may not be such a bad idea)....all that I have against society is its wish to burden me with its expectations to do what it thinks is best.

There are small things, in a bigger picture sense - inconsequential polite to an inconsiderate neighbour, just because he's elder (not elderly)...well, I can't see any improvement my pretended politeness has had in his behaviour...or attend my dad's boss' son's wedding / attend my friend's daughter's first birthday party (really now!)...I could do all that, if I wanted to - but honestly, I don't! I can't figure out what my presence brings to any such event, since I am sure it doesn't matter if I am there or not (for the event to take place)  - thus, as I see, there's no point for me to be there.

Unfortunately, our first life lessons are on societal norms and not on how to be civil. We are taught what ought to be done to keep the society appeased than think of making it better. It is ingrained in us that we, as individuals, are merely a speck in the universe and it is the society that gives us identity and is proof of our existence. Isn't that actually an exact opposite - it is the individual that gives society its identity and thus society exists because of the individuals.

I look around and see people moving around as horses run - with blinders strapped on...with society their jockey, dictating every move they make...the pace with which they move, the direction they move in and finally, when & where the race ends. I can't be apologetic for wanting more from my life, for knowing more can be done and achieved...even if that means I am branded unsocial! I have observed that the more social I try to get, the more pretentious I become. I am not a good actor - nor some one who can mask his feelings, especially when I am feeling disgusted!

I am and will be fine - left alone and allowed to be me, with people I care for and the 'limited' number of people who, still do and would continue to, care for me...

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Can I...Will I...Can We...Will We?

Can God be considered as one
Can God be considered as a guiding star
Will we make an effort to become better
Will we ever raise the bar

Can free will be used for good of others
Can 'I' ever come after 'us'
Will love only be for myself
Will ego drown all of us

Can this life be lived freely
Can we ever walk without fear
Will we ever become tolerant
Will this world stop and wipe the tear

Can people manage to see eye to eye
Can people live together and become friends
Will neighbours stop fighting, once & forever
Will this world ever become a happy mix of all hues & blends

Can injustice cease to exist
Can crime ever become dust
Will consciousness awaken and shine
Will we police ourselves first

Can peace & harmony get a chance
Can love be more than just a word
Will people realise there is more than hatred
Will people think on their own, leave behind the herd

Can one man make a difference
Can one man ever start a revolution
Will I get up and say enough is enough
Will I ever stop procrastination

Can this thought ever become something more
Can this dream ever come true
Will I be the only one to think & dream
Will I also be joined by you

Can two become thousands
Can thousands percolate end to end and plea
Will then this world get another chance
Will then this world survive finally

I am a Blackberry guy

I was a simple mobile user - owned the erstwhile popular mobiles Nokia 3310 (used it for about 3 years) and Nokia 6230 (used it for 6+ years)...until Nokia decided to either shell out poor quality or supremely expensive models. During those days, there was a general perception that Blackberry was a business phone - meaning: expensive, need based and exclusive!

Towards the end of last decade, Blackberry did put a new thought in motion - their communication, their new models (Curve) - all directed potential customers to understand that Blackberry handsets were more about than just business / serious work. It was in Feb 2011, that I bought my first smartphone, my first business phone, my first QWERTY phone - my Blackberry! Still using the same handset - have a thing against changing frequently...A lot has changed in the Indian smartphone market since!

Not just world leaders - iPhone & Samsung that have suddenly become bigger than they were earlier, but Nokia (powered by MS Windows) has had a new lease of life. Craze for smartphones became such that it was only a matter of time for home-grown brands to come up...and we now have Micromax, Karbonn as strong leadership contenders in the Indian smartphone arena. The interesting bit in all of this is - about 90% of Indian smartphones are running on Android!

Blackberry, during all this while, was sitting pretty - trying to live on existing customer-base, enjoying the corporate deals it had...well, it made one and the costliest mistake - ignored its customers' changing tastes & requirements! It is something similar to what Nokia failed to do towards mid-2000s and lost it's leadership position...lost the base of more than half of Indian handset market.

This fuck-up from Blackberry's think tank hasn't happened with India alone...unfortunately, it is world over. Just to put things in perspective: Apple's latest offer - 5s & 5c have sold a record 9m handsets just on the opening weekend...whereas Blackberry managed to ship only 3.7m phones in the past three months.

With poor performance, quarter on quarter - with reported losses nearly touching $1 billion mark (just in one quarter) - it was only a matter of time that Blackberry would be sold. Questions being raised were - would the buyers be interested only in Blackberry's patents, the services - but not the hardware business. This speculation loomed and no one knew if Blackberry would continue to exist in the handset business. While this was being talked of - there came a shocker news: Microsoft decides to buy out Nokia's phone business. It was end of an era for King of handsets...which looked like the imminent fate for Blackberry - King of smartphones!

The question is - why does this bother me? As I mentioned earlier, I am not in favour of changing handsets - well, I am also not in favour of changing loyalties with brands that I get used to. It is a pain for me to pick a new gadget and figure out the basics. I am also a BIG fan of Blackberry's QWERTY keypad and find the entire service to be perfectly suited for my needs.

Not everything is gloomy and dead for Blackberry, not just yet at least. With Fairfax Financial buying out Blackberry (news came out yesterday) - with the idea to take the company out of public decision making, make it a privately held entity and then work on its rebuilding. So far - this news is encouraging for Blackberry loyalists like me. I have been rooting for Blackberry to survive, somehow...and today, it seems that it just might!

Sunday 15 September 2013

Can a man and a woman ever be friends - just friends?

I first came across this question when I saw When Harry Met Sally as a mature was an age when such questions meant a lot more than questions about life and were of deeper concern than something related to career. I don't clearly recall if I had an answer (in my mind) to this question at that time, but I do recall changing my stance on it over time.

If one is not a fence-sitter, there are just two possible views on this - either, they can be just friends or they can't be just friends. It's often easiest being on the fence and justifying that in various ways...bring in a basic question - how does one define friendship? With a varying understanding of concept of friendship - one could then say that in certain scenarios men & women can remain as just friends.

Why do we question the definition of friendship and draw scenarios, which are essentially nothing but subsets of friendship, when we have to answer this question and not when we are asked - "can two men be just friends?" or "can two women be just friends?". The fact such fence sitting happens, implies there is some basic doubt about a man & a woman being just friends...there is a general feeling they can't be just friends and there is a general need to be politically correct in this society. 

Once we dissect friendship and make smaller sections of it - we can obviously identify some sections of friendship in which the answer to the question is a definite 'yes' - where a platonic relationship between a man & a woman exists. But, in my mind - these are just smaller sections of relationships - which should at best lie somewhere between acquaintance and friendship.

Since I am not know to be a politically correct guy (most of the times), I would state my view on this - which I am sure is obvious by now...I don't think a man and a woman can ever be just friends. I don't buy the concept of platonic relationships...essentially, I don't believe that both, the man & the woman, are in a relationship purely on platonic does want more, whether that want is ever shared by the individual or even agreed in his / her own mind.

This small bit of wanting 'more' may at times be easy to suppress and lie about, it may even be thought of as insignificant and nothing more than a passing thought. The only point I am trying to make here is - if all 'just-friends' were to be honest, then in my view - at least one of the two (in all scenarios) will admit to have wanted more from the relationship, a.k.a friendship! If not, then I doubt if there was anything close to a real friendship to begin with.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same
I am not old enough to be considered an old fool
I am no longer young enough to be considered cool
I used to be at the centre, now younger players are in the game

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

I used to down beer without heeding to conscience's advice
Used to be ready to change course on roll of the dice
I know better now...I know no one but me would be to blame!

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

"I won't be home for dinner" - a call to mom would suffice
Go out with my girl friend, never visit the same place twice
Girl friend then...I married the dame

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

I didn't think and care about much
All that mattered was someone's warm touch
I still have that touch, have to reignite the flame

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

Looked forward to our bike rides, sandwich and coffee...moments spent together
A car now, expensive & exclusive dinners...for worse or better
Does it happen with everyone...does this condition have a name?

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

Believed impatience & hunger were signs of ambition
Took time to realise I needed more ingredients - learning & passion
Have to still learn longer blindly chasing fortune & fame

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

Only future was where my sight rested, past was over & gone
Today I learn from the prepare me to take future head-on
Enough wasted building castles in focussed on the end-game

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

They say "change is the only constant"...that could be the case
I have moved, I have grown, I have changed my level base
Experience taught me, helped me evolve my mind-frame

Things have changed around me...even I am not the same

I look at the world around me and read it differently
I soak in...let it absorb completely
This change...this development is one can otherwise claim!

Thursday 5 September 2013

Human Identity in Numbers & Passwords

A popular telecom company in India thought of using the changing definition of human identity to their advantage...they took it a step further...made it sound as an answer to all societal-ills...all that they proposed people do was shed their names and use their mobile numbers instead!

The fact that this idea seems to hit some sensible nerves still - means that we are definitely in an era where we already use numbers to identify ourselves - told to us as customer id / account number. Bear in mind - these numbers are neither common across platforms / services, nor are easy to memorise...they are a long series of digits (could go up to 16 digits), the entire combination selected at random...making it difficult for identity thieves to clone our identity and at the same time, making it almost impossible for us to remember our own identity.

Now to put things in actual perspective, for each of us, the identity crisis described above gets multiplied in real life by the number of service providers we deal with. 1 mobile number, 1 internet connection, 1 DTH cable connection, at least 2 bank accounts, 1 LPG connection, at least 2 credit cards, 1 home loan, 1 car loan...WHEW!!!

If this much effort wasn't enough to put doubts in our minds...are we really who we think we are...there is an added level to prove we really are who we think we are...a password! This, claim the service providers, is something we can choose ourselves...just that it has to be a minimum of 8 characters, should be alpha-numeric, have a special character included, but not some characters (which this service provider thinks less of and thus aren't special enough)...should be changed in a periodic manner...should not be anywhere close to our last three passwords.

Here comes the best tool to make the doubt grow a bit bigger...we only get a few attempts to prove our identity - to get the correct combination of account number and password. If, unfortunately, we don't get it right in the specified number of attempts to prove our the powers vested in the service provider, it is concluded that we are, indeed, not who we think we are...

It is not a surprise that the world's becoming more individual will bother about the society at large when the individual gets free from the tangles of managing his own multiple individualities!

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Pearls of Wisdom...or just smelly B.S.!

There is no dearth of so-called well-wishers sharing how they think we should do things, what should we do...if its high-time we took matters in our own hands...if the time has come to just stop and take stock of our life. To make matters worse, this sort of advice is followed by a hollow reassurance..."I am doing / have done so myself!". 

Since there is just a fine line between gyaan and times, both, the speaker and the listener miss when one starts to merge into the other. Given that neither gyaan nor BS is convincing without a bit of truth hidden in it, thus, the key lies in speaker's influence over his audience. If the listener, generally, believes in the speaker - there are greater chances for speaker's words to be accepted (even if not acted up on).

The biggest threat such people pose is getting unnecessary thoughts and fears in our mind. Once a seed is planted, despite all our best efforts, it takes longer than normal to not allow the seed to grow into anything bigger - eventually our own BS filters wake up and smell the s**t.

It is important to make note of the side, which the speaker usually tilts it more towards gyaan or towards BS. This will help in knowing the people around us better, which will further help us understand ourselves better. If anyone keeps & enjoys company of a person who usually faffs and throws about more than averagely acceptable BS - then there is a serious need to question the company of this person.

I am often told that in friendship one should overlook many a shortcomings, be more than willing to accept the friend as he / she is and mostly focus on the positives of friends. I consider these to be irrefutable facts about friendship...just that I have a simple question: if a person is more BS than substance, why be friends with this person? Such people could never possibly bring you any good...motivate you truly, as their words are rarely backed by their own actions.

In my opinion, life is better with few friends - who are true to themselves, true to you...than a bunch of people around you who you know are just using big words and long sentences to sound deep!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Books v/s E-books & Bookstores v/s E-bookstores

It is not about the era that we grew up is not even about whether computers were there back in the day or not...most of the kindle / other e-book readers today are of a generation that has definitely grown up with books and have had initial difficulty in reading on digital medium. Personal choices and preferences change on the times due to convenience, at times simply because alternatives present now are better than before...or that the things we used in past no longer exist now, thus changing our choices.

Though I have personally moved from how I used to buy and listen to music...but, when it comes to books, I just can't seem to move away from books and bookstores. The old charm of a book still runs strong in my veins because how my childhood was influenced by dad's extensive collection of books and comics. I have grown up seeing extra luggage being packed just for dad's books - every time he got transferred. As a kid I used to be fascinated with books in dad's collection that were older than me...each of his books had a time stamp on them...his signature with the date when he bought it. Actually, some of these 'older-than-me' books still survive...they continue to amaze me. Can anything that's stored in digital format bring out similar nostalgia?

I prefer everything in physical version than the digital version...whether it is purchasing books or reading them. I still lose track of time in a book store, even if I didn't enter looking for anything in particular...even if I come out empty handed. There is something about buying books in a store that makes the entire experience worthwhile for me...the smell of new books...the feel of crispness of paper...the weight of a book in my hand...the bending & stretching to reach for books...spending time in a book store has never been a challenge for me. I can't say the same about online bookstores, where I rather tend to get bored.

Buying a book for me is not a quick process...having moved away from purchasing general fiction, I no longer buy books based on any popular author as the only motivation. I need to look at many books, see if there is something that attracts me about the book...some of it happens to be visual appeal along with what the book's about. It is almost like purchasing something personal...the book will leave a mark on me...I will build theories and opinions based on what I read and I need to be sure of the book before I allow it to have such an influence on me. I can manage this kind of a bond can only in the physical world, not in the digital one!

When I say I prefer the physical books over e-books, I don't claim to have never read a book on Kindle, nor that I didn't enjoy reading on Kindle. On the contrary, I actually found reading to be more convenient - with back light, I didn't need to switch on a light at night...I didn't need a bookmark. Moreover, it allows me to carry all my books with me...I don't even need a book cabinet anymore. BUT, the question for me is: am I looking for these benefits? The short and simple of it is...I don't think I do! I like using bookmarks...I like reading in well lit rooms...I like to flip through pages, instead of pressing buttons...I like to have a book on my bed-side table...I also like to display books in my already over flowing book cabinet.