Saturday, December 09, 2006

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Good Night & Good Luck. It's been a pleasure...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Abhishek-Aishwarya starrer 'Guru'

All right, so there is a lot of hype surrounding the film already. Why?

1. The film is directed by Mani Ratnam, a great director in his own right.
2. Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai are, if media reports are to be believed, linked romantically.
3. The film 'Guru' is based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani, one of the most successful (and controversial) tycoons that India has seen.

With respect to the rumours regarding reason 3 above, have a look at this video, especially post the 45 second mark, where Abhishek Bachchan and Mani Ratnam try to evade the question.



But are there similarities that we can see?

Visit the official movie site, www.guru-thefilm.com and you'll be surprised.

Similarity no. 1 --> Guru's character comes from a village in Gujarat. (So what??)

Similarity no. 2 --> Guru's father is also the headmaster of a village school.

Similarity no. 3 --> When Guru moves to Mumbai, wife in tow, he, like Dhirubhai, lives in a one room chawl.

Similarity no. 4 --> Shakti Corporation, according to the film, becomes the first Indian company to enter the Forbes 500 list of companies. Reliance Industries Ltd. is the first private sector company from India to be listed on the Forbes 500.

Similarity no. 5 --> Mithun Chokraborty runs the newspaper 'Swatantra'. It is not very difficult to spot the similarities of the character with Ramnath Goenka who ran the 'Indian Express'.

Similarity no. 6 --> The site actually mentions Dhirubhai's most famous quote "Think Big, Think Ahead, Think Fast"

Of course, people might point out that Guru's character doesn't go to Aden; it goes to Turkey. But then, there are way too many similarities, what do you say?

I'm sure this is one movie the business historian Gita Piramal is going to enjoy. After all, it was after reading her "Business Maharajas" that I became intrigued with the Ambani story.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rejuvenation

Like I mentioned in the last post, an unlikely group of 7 got together and decided they needed to take a break from their hectic presentations-placements-PPT-schedule filled MBA life and go for a vacation. The destination was Mount Abu in Rajasthan, a five hour drive from Ahmedabad.

Each traveller spent the night preceeding the travel in his/her own unique fashion. Bodo Bhai played Counter Strike and Age of Empires all night, the Whale went off to sleep (as promised), the Dolphin finally dozed off to sleep (not as promised), Debby was up all the while whereas yours truly drifted off at 4 after typing this post.

I woke up at quarter past 5, and the entire group assembled in front of the boys hostel by 6. Only after greeting each party member in the shivering cold did we realise that the car had still not arrived. In the yet dark, early hours of the day, we decided to wait for the car at the University main gate.


In front of the boys hostel
(L to R: Mini 'Dolphin', Whale, Debby, Piranha, Bodo Bhai, Shark)


The car finally arrived somewhere around quarter to 7 and we were on our way. We stopped for breakfast at this dhaba off the Ahmedabad-Mehsana Expressway. The piping hot aloo-paratha were yummmm to say the least (my stomach growls an approval more than 84 hours after the breakfast). The extra helping of butter and the mast chai that we were served only made us want to NOT leave the place in a hurry.


At the Dhaba

A deadly combination of an hour of sleep the previous night followed by the wonderful breakfast was enough to put me off to sleep in the car. I woke up minutes before we crossed the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. And of course, the moment we crossed the police check-post, we could spot one shop after another proclaiming the availability of alcohol (Gujarat being a 'dry' state).

It wasn't long before we left behind the simple driving pleasures one experiences on a highway and were on the long and winding roads which led up to Abu Road. Once past the main town, the road, cut into the mountain-side, only got steeper. The constant twists and turns made the Dolphin experience motion sickness and we had to shift her to the front seat and also request the driver to go a bit slow. Of course, the driver being a driver, paid no heed.

We did stop at a point on the way up to take in the beauty of the valley.


As you can see, the view was breathtaking


Bodo Bhai takes a break


The Dolphin smiles

On reaching Mt. Abu, we checked into Hotel Lake View, so named because it looks over 'Nakki Lake' (I later learned that the lake is named so because it was believed that the lake was dug by the nails of the Gods; so 'naakhun' --> Nakki). The wooden panelled room, the comfortable bed, the oh-so-inviting 'razaai' was just too much for me and I was promptly off to sleep. :D

I woke up for lunch ordered from the hotel kitchen. Though the lunch turned out to be unsatisfactory, the others in the group decided to take a rest. They had been out exploring the nearby areas while I was sleeping. I decided it was time to go out on a small adventure of my own.

I went up to Toad Rock, named thus because of the shape in which the rock, atop a hill, is in.
Toad Rock

In order to reach Toad Rock, one has to climb a flight of stone steps cut into the mountain. It was a good exercise running up those 200 odd stone steps and soon I had to take off my woolen jacket and tie it around my waist. The view of Nakki lake and the surrounding mountain range was beautiful and I doubt even those more adept at words than me can describe the magnificence of it all.

An hour later, I joined the rest of the gang at the hotel and we decided we must go boating on the lake before it got too dark. We spent a jolly half an hour in the paddle boats, although I must complain, Bodo Bhai cheated and poor moi had the strenous job of paddling harder than required by a single person paddling in a team.

Bodo Bhai, me and Mini 'Dolphin' wait for our boat
(Can you spot Debby posing like a maharaja?)

After our boating expedition, we went off into the main market to try and see if we could buy something to take back home. I escorted the ladies to a Khadi Gram Udyog Shop that I'd spotted earlier to help me buy a kurta for myself. The Dolphin, expectedly, quickly made her exit and left it to Bips and the Piranha to help me choose the kurta. [Unfortunately, we couldn't find anything decent, even after 20 minutes of going through the pile of kurtas. :(( ]

We had dinner at a nice restaurant and were back in the hotel room by 10, if I remember correctly. They were showing the Amitabh Bachchan-Akshay Kumar starrer 'Aankhen' on TV, and even as the Whale was watching it, I was already snugly fitting myself in the quilt. And before long, my heavy eyelids bid goodnight to the world.

The next morning we were faced with a very simple plan of action. We were off to this mandir on top of a hill and the view from there was absolutely UN-BELIEVABLE !!!! We had the most enjoyable time taking in the view, and also had a gala time teasing the Whale. :D

This was perhaps the most hillarious part of the entire journey. While the Whale posed for a pic dressed as a Rajputana maharaja, Bodo Bhai set up his digicam. Now, while the Whale thought that he was posing for a pic, Bodo Bhai was actually recording the entire scene, with me commentating in the background !! The look of confusion on the Whale's face was worth a million bucks when we told him we were actually recording him moving about in that funny dress.

The Whale


As seen from Mini Dolphin's mobile cam
(Doesn't he look as if he is in mid-air?)

Also, on our way down the same hill, we stopped at this place where we fed the fishes in a lake and then explored the nearby terrain. I was on a complete high (literally and figuratively) climbing the treacherous rocks.

On that hill, all by myself, I was nearest to complete peace. I was completely focussed on the next step that I needed to take. And for good reason. A wrong step here or there would've sent me hurtling down the cliff. At some places, a mistake would've perhaps only landed me with a hard thud onto the stony surface below, but at other places, there was nothing except the valley far down below. I'm not sure it would've been death, but it would've surely led to heavy injuries. But somehow, I felt the concentration strangely relaxing. ALL my energies and thoughts had to focus on what was to be done next. I could not, for a moment, let my thoughts wander to my parents, my ex, my studies or to my friends who were down below exploring some other part of the hill. It was, like I said, the most purified form of meditation; complete thought control.



Our final stop before making our return to Ahmedabad were the Dilwara temples. Now, Bodo Bhai and Bips refused to step inside the temples since they'd had a non-vegetarian lunch. On the other hand, Mini 'Dolphin' simply didn't want to go. Her logic ? "I'm tired !!" Uff !!! This girl can be so silly at times.. :P

Anyway, I bribed her with the promise of a Cadbury's if she came along. And tell you what, she would've missed something all right !! My only logic in going in was that I'd read about this place as a kid in history books at school. Having come so close, I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity. Who knew whether I would ever again get to visit this place at all !!

To tell you something honestly, friend, this was the best decision I have taken in a long, long time. The structures made out of marble in these temples were simply out of the world !! Our jaws literally dropped when we saw the intricate work done on the ceilings and the arches. The Whale, Dolphin, Debby and I couldn't stop wondering how the artisans had carved out such beautiful figurines. Everything, from the soldiers, the ceilings, the elephants, the horses to the kings, was beautiful beyond belief. Like Debby observed, it seemed as if the artisans were looking for an avenue to express themselves and these slabs of marble were the only square inches where they could find the freedom to do so.

Tired by the day's efforts of climbing up cliffs, chasing each other up stone-steps and marvelling at the beauty of the temples of Dilwara, we returned to the car for the journey back home. Content and smiling, we piled into the car, carrying with us anecdotes and pics to carry us through till the next vacation.

~~~~~~

And oh, by the way, I had to finally buy Mini the Cadbury for visiting the Dilwara temples, although she admitted she would've regretted not going. You didn't think she would let me off the hook that easily, did you?? ;)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Placements and thereafter

Placement Week was one helluva affair. It had all the makings of a Bollywood potboiler. Dharam Paaji could've very well been shouting about Placement Week when he stood atop the water tank in Sholay and shouted "Iss ishtory mein drama hai, tragedy hai, emotion hai...tumhaare aasoon nikal aayenge, kaka.."

I had a roller-coaster ride myself. However, I finally bagged the post of a Management Trainee (Marketing) at Tata Teleservices Ltd. What's more, Basanti and Nike are in too, as HR and Marketing trainees, respectively. (Yipeeeee !!!)

As we were ruminating today, our batch is definitely more cooler than that of our immediate seniors. Not only did NO student throw a party in celebration of his / her placement till the time the last person of the batch got placed, but also the number of folks who (shamelessly) went back home after their own placement was much lesser as compared to last year. In other words, the number of people who volunteered for Hospitality and Logistics committee (responsible for taking care of the companies which visit the campus) was high. It was good to see people standing up for each other when it matters the most. And the fact that they were coming to help inspite their own placement being done showed the selflessness of it all.

As for those fools who went home or lazily stayed locked up in their rooms, I pity them. They missed out on some of the BEST moments of their post-grad life. They missed the emotional lows and highs that each student experienced. They will never witness the scenes of camaraderie where a person leapt for joy just because his friend got placed, forgetting for a moment that he himself was yet to get placed. Never will their hearts be warmed by the image of two guys sharing high fives and hugging each other at the news that a friend, who wasn't present at the scene, had just gotten placed. For them remains the world of cold selfishness, in which they remain blinded by their own selfish gains. I hope they get a heart...someday soon.

As The Whale observed, friendships of the last one and a half years was different, and the friendship expressed during the last one week was different. New bonds of brotherhood were created. People you'd hardly ever spoken to came up to offer words of solace and strength. Individuals who had been indifferent to your presence a month ago came up to share their own experiences. And once the satisfaction settled in that the entire batch had been comfortably placed, the stage was set for the ultimate chill out time.

I went out with friends for a movie after a long long time (the last movie I saw in an Ahmedabad movie hall was 'Rang De Basanti'; the last movie I had seen in a cinema hall was 'Being Cyrus'). Unfortunately, we went for Dhoom 2. Trust me folks, this ain't a movie you wanna watch for reasons beyond a) Fashion, b) Hrithik, c) Aishwarya, d) Abhishek and e) Cleavage. The songs ain't great (according to The Dolphin, the songs got in the way of the narration) and there are G-L-A-R-I-N-G gaps in the story. I can go on and on how sad the movie was, but let's just end by saying that the movie was high on style, but pathetically low on substance. (I kinda also agree with Arpz's version that it was a 3 hour fashion show).

Went to Rasranjan and had a great time eating the Manchurian with Fried Rice.

And since Upper Crust was just next door, I persuaded Dolphin into buying me a Devil's Chocolate Pastry. Yummm.. :D

I slept at 5 yesterday morning and woke up at 1 in the afternoon. Went for lunch to Madhurya. Realised on our way there that most of the folks from the college have gone to Daman & Diu. Plus, there were a few other friends who'd left for Mt. Abu.

Basanti's parents had come over for the day, and they decided to give us a treat for dinner. So the gang went to Bandhan and had some good Punju food. I had a gala time teasing a sweet batchmate about the fact that the dish that she'd chosen was in fact very similar to her personality; so much so that I ended up naming her after the dish !!! So, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the newest addition to the phone-book in my cellphone: Paneer Toofani !! He he..

After the great evening, we came back only to find out that now we too badly wanted to go to Mt. Abu. Bodo Bhai has made the arrangements and now we're all ready to leave tomorrow morning at 6. The Whale has decided to take a nap, but since I was asleep for almost the entire day, I have decided to stay up and go off to sleep in the Tavera that will be taking us tomorrow. As of now, Bodo Bhai, Whale, Dolphin, Piranha, Bips, Debby and I are going. It should be fun listening to the string of abuses that we're gonna hear, since Kaal, Sahu Sahab, Rohit and Zehreela / Crab are already at Mt. Abu. :D

Adios !!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Cycle of Karma

As I lay awake in bed, pondering and worrying over the present state of affairs, I grew more and more restless. It is way past 4 in the morning, my roomie is peacefully asleep, and so is most of the boy's hostel (not counting other people, like my friend 'Zehreela', who seem to be studying for tomorrow's interviews). And even as I battled (and almost lost) to the flaming internal demons of the mind, I realised something which made me pause and smile.

If I were to step back and look at my personal experiences, it seems things have a way of balancing themselves out. If one does a good turn today, he not only deserves a good turn but by a twist of destiny, is actually doled out that good fortune. Needless to say, the other side of the coin is a reality too. All in all, it seems there is simply no need for Heaven or Hell. All that is to happen is to happen here, on Earth, itself. And it will happen to YOU, while you live through your happiness and sorrow.

I think I can be adventurous enough to venture out a step further and say that I've just experienced the 'Cycle of Karma'. Good 'karma' --> Good effect, Bad 'karma' --> Bad effect.

A word of caution to those who might think there is an escape route, a loophole. Even if you were to act out your devilish deeds from behind a mask and the person who bears the brunt of your misdeeds doesn't know you or isn't even aware of your existence, his / her misfortune WILL one day come back to you.

I need not go ahead and mention examples; all of us have heard enough in stories we heard as children from our parents and in movie halls showing the latest Bollywood film (which has been directed by someone who wants to target the 'highly moralistic' average Indian). But the one example which simply refuses to go away is actually an image in my mind...that of King Dashrath screaming out on the top of his voice for his son Ram when the latter is away on 'vanvaas'. King Dashrath had, in a hunting accident, killed the only son of an elderly couple, remember?

Basically what I'm trying to say is:

Be Good / Avoid being Evil: It'll come back to you sooner than you think

'Never let them see you bleed'

In his last appearance as the legendary Q in 'The World is Not Enough', this was the first advice that Desmond Llewelyn had for James Bond.

They say it is important for one to let out their emotions, be it anger or misery, from time to time.

I think it is a weakness.

It is a weakness, at least in the minds of the people you work with. For them, you're now "just human". No harm in that, did you say? Of course not. But when you're the one who's supposed to be a leader, or plays the role of the motivator and is responsible for getting stuff done, this would be professional hara-kiri.

It is also a weakness in the sense that for that particular duration of time, you do not have control over your emotions, your reactions or the words that you're blurting out. And with that outburst of emotions also goes the future references to 'those weak moments' which might (and in all probability) will be held against you, or will be used to your disadvantage at the very least.

So what is it that I'm actually driving at?

Never display your emotions, at least not in public. Those moments are your moments which should be kept to yourself. For the world around you, let you be the "heartless block of stone who works with unflagging resolve and determination". Much better than being labelled 'a nice guy'; which, in any case, sounds like euphemism for 'oh, that poor loser'.

NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU BLEED.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I will pray tonight before I sleep

It seems God has His own curious ways of telling us, from time to time, to take a step back and take a look at the BIGGER picture called life. Last November, this happened. And today...

I spoke to my good friend Bacchus today (the nick-name being given by me in recognition of the gentleman's abilities to gulp down excessive volumes of alcohol without pausing for breath...or thought) after a long time, only to be told that a good friend from school had passed away in a motorbike accident a few days ago.

I was dumbstruck at the news.

The guy who passed away was a couple of years younger than me and I could only wonder what justified his death. Had God known all along that this child had only a couple of more years to live when he last hugged his friends goodbye on the school graduation day? Somewhere in the drawer of my cupboard back home, there lies a white school shirt; the shirt is special since that was what I wore on the last 'working' day of school before our class XII board exams, and hence, we'd all scribbled stupid stuff (Boys will remain boys, and that is enough hint as to what was scribbled) on each other's shirts.

Somewhere on that shirt, in my dead friend's handwriting, are his good wishes for my future. Elsewhere, in another home in Calcutta which must be enveloped in a pallor of gloom, lies a similar shirt, where the good wishes of a number of friends are scribbled. Of course, those wishes hold no more meaning...

Somewhere in my collection of music cassettes back home, lies a 'Pink Floyd' cassette which my friend had gifted to me as an introduction to the world of rock. I could never develop an ear for rock at that point in time (I don't listen to much rock now either).

A few months ago, I told my Aunt how I was worried about the fact that I wasn't being able to pray daily. Although I would repeat the word 'Om' a number of times silently in a day and be grateful for His presence, I was worried I wasn't 'formally' praying to Him.

Tonight, amidst all this rush to prepare for final placements, I will pause. Tonight, I will listen to Pink Floyd again. Tonight, before I drift off to sleep, I will 'formally' pray again. I will pray, for the departed soul of my friend and for the family that he has left behind.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sleeping time

Of late, I've been sleeping like a log. I do not know what hits me, but I suddenly find myself feeling extremely exhausted and in dire need of taking a break. And so, I hit the bed, only to wake up after at least 8-10 hours. Considering that my usual sleep duration is between 4 to 6 hours, this is unusual.

Just the other day, I returned from the mess at around 9 in the evening and suddenly felt very very tired. I walked into Surdy's room (room no. 310), spoke to Surdy about some nonsense while lying down on his bed and in an instant, was off to dreamland. I really don't know what got over me. I was feeling so tired, I just didn't have the energy to walk up to my room (room no. 309), unlock the door and hit my bed. Just the idea of reaching into my pocket for the keys and opening the lock seemed to be very energy-consuming.

However, I did leave Surdy's room at around quarter to 10, hit my bed and was again sleeping away to glory. I did wake up at 2 in the morning to see 'Mr. President' sitting on my chair discussing a point with my roomie, 'The Whale'. Mr. President, on seeing me getting up, greeted me with a cheery, "Good morning, sleepyhead." But, I was too drugged to make sense of anything. I just looked at my watch, and God only knows for what reason shouted "F*** !!" and promptly went off to sleep again!!!! As per reports, Mr. President kept abusing me for the rest of the evening. [For the record, I woke up only the next morning at 9, making it a 12 hour sleeping stint.]

Something similar happened to me last night as well. I felt drowsy and tired the moment I started walking towards the hostel building after the dinner in the mess. Even as I looked at my feet trudging its way on the gravel path, I knew I must hit the sack soon. So, as soon as I reached my room, I collapsed on the bed and didn't even bother with removing my sandals or my denim jacket. I mumbled a quiet approval to an anecdote that The Whale read out from "The curious incident of the Dog in the night time" (a book that he has intelligently smuggled out of the reach of Mini) and was soon lost in dreamland again. I woke up today morning at 9, and so this becomes another 12 hour stint. Of course, this is nothing compared to my record-breaking 40 hour non-stop sleep marathon, but then, that was another day and age.

I have just wished Sahu Sahab of room no. 308 on his birthday today. I feel fresh, at least physically, from all the bodily rest that I've received. However, as I can recall, my sleep was punctuated by dreams of which I can remember only 2. In the first one, I dunno why but I sported a beard and was looking at myself in the mirror. The other dream was a very Kal Ho Na Ho-ish moment where I was attending a wedding/engagement. Oh yes, and now I can also recall that I saw a lake and there were 2 groups of people in their snake-boats (the kinds you find in Kerala) practicing for the race. I wonder where that came from???

I have also been reading Karma Yoga from Swami Vivekananda's Complete Works online, and found some extremely inspirational words at the end of the first chapter. I think they are a beautiful way to end this post on the thoughts that fill my mind, and here they are:

"The ideal man is he who, in the midst of greatest silence and solitude, finds the intensest activity, and in the midst of intensest activity finds the silence and solitude of the desert. He has learnt the secret of restraint, he has controlled himself. He goes through the streets of a big city with all its traffic, and his mind is as calm as if he were in a cave, where not a sound could reach him; and he is intensely working all the time. That is the ideal of Karma-Yoga, and if you have attained to that you have really learnt the secret of work."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dr. Ashok Garde reviews his book 'Canakya's Aphorisms on Management'

Yesterday was another dream come true for me. As the founder Co-ordinator of Sumantra - The Book Club at the Institute of Management, Nirma University last year, one of my fancied objectives was to not only present reviews of a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, to a diverse audience, but also, if possible, invite a number of guest speakers.

I was extremely happy yesterday when the culmination of a month of efforts resulted in Sumantra's first ever 'Authorspeak'. Around 2 months ago, I chanced upon the book 'Canakya's Aphorisms on Management' by Mr. Ashok Garde. [The book, originally published by the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA), is now re-titled as 'Chanakya on Management', published by Jayco Books and is available at all Crossword stores. ]

Mr. Garde is only the third person to be awarded the Honorary Life Membership of the AMA, his only predecessors being the great Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and Prof. BS Shenoy. He is also a former Director of the Ahmedabad Textiles Industry's Research Association and a resident of Ahmedabad. I pounced on the opportunity and invited him to the Institute.

A septuagenarian, Mr. Garde presented a review of the book with much vigor and passion. He told us how the 'sutras' of Chanakya were essentially a training manual for Chandragupta and his fellow students. He gave us a few examples of Chanakya's teachings and how they could be considered relevant to modern businesses. Mr. Garde introduced us to Chanakya's 'definition' of Management and also scoffed at the idea of comparing Chanakya to Machiavelli. His main point of reference was that Chanakya spoke about ethics when he spoke of 'dharma'; Machiavelli never did so. Moreover, Chanakya was a nation-builder, and had disciples of the likes of Chandragupta who established a dynasty which ruled for almost 135 years; Machiavelli cannot make any similar claims.

All in all, it was an intriguing and spell-binding session. A number of myths regarding Chanakya were smashed to bits and a new figure of Chanakya now loomed large - not only that of a shrewd counsellor and king-maker, but also a nation builder who advised the king on how to manage his resources (defence, economic and administrative) for the well being of the masses.


Dr. Garde explaining a few 'sutras'
(You can actually read a few of them on the blackboard)


An audience, comprising of faculty and students,
was held spellbound


The Q&A Session


The Vote of Thanks

Friday, November 03, 2006

Examination

Examinations are how life tests you and your capabilities from time to time.

I'm lucky just to be attending to those exams which are sponsored by the institute. ;)

See ya later folks. Cheers, and keep smiling.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Memories from home

Vakratunda Mahakaya Suryakoti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kurumedeva Sarvakaryeshu Sarvadaya


A Ganesha idol in our house



The Mandir at our house



My Vision of what Gods must look like....
Dad...



and Ma.....


The desk in my room



A closer look at my favorite haunt...
My books' cabinet



In my view, one of the BEST places in Calcutta to have tea at.. Balwant Singh's Dhaba
on Elgin Road



The elixir of life.. :D
Rs. 7 for 'chai' in a 'kulhar' !!!
However, you can also order a smaller 'kulhar' for Rs. 4.



A Rangoli that a friend had made in front of her house
[I assured her this wasn't 'traditionally' artistic, but yet the sweetest rangoli that I'd seen. :))]

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The traveller packs his bags

As I pack my bags for my flight back to Ahmedabad tomorrow, it is a moment to pause and contemplate. It has been a nice trip back home. As I look at the clothes, the CDs and the books that lie randomly on my bed, I realise that I'm leaving with a lot more than just these articles of daily consumption.

I now have memories.

Some happy and some sad memories; some quiet moments where tears went unnoticed, a few moments where a chuckle and a laughter was all that remained of the innocent past; a few moments of passion which rekindled love.

Dad has already asked me to try and get placements in Calcutta. I haven't promised him anything. Who knows where destiny plans to take me tomorrow and what wings fate might have in store for me? I'm certain I'll be back in Calcutta once my convocation gets over, but for how long, God alone knows at this precise moment.

*Chuckles* Today, Dad kinda realised that his son has grown up. Since last night he kept peeking into my wardrobe and kept asking me at regular intervals what clothes I wanted to take back so that he could pack my bag. I would have none of it and completely refused to tell him what books or clothes I wanted to take back.

Finally, today afternoon, I said, "Dad, you just sit right here and watch me do it. Mind you, I'll stop packing the moment you tell me what to do," I said in mock anger. So Dad just sat right here and watched me arrange all the clothes, books, CDs and toileteries. All it took me was half an hour, and the manner in which I packed the bags (thanks to all the travelling I've been doing alone) impressed Dad. He didn't say a thing at the end; just walked out of the room, went to the kitchen and told Mom, "Well, he's learnt how to pack his bags, at least." Rites of passage?? :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The last kiss

I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you...

I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away...

[Excerpts from "The Reason" by Hoobastank]

Monday, October 23, 2006

Saal Mubarak

HAPPY DIWALI AND 'SAAL MUBARAK' :)
The day began early for me today, i.e. at 6 AM. Really, I was surprised that I could find the energy and the enthusiasm to visit three different temples with Mom and Dad in the space of an hour considering I'd slept for only 3 hours. I started watching 'Sholay' last night on my laptop at around 11, and hence the late sleeping hours. :D
I feel it is a wonderful way to begin the year by going to the temples. Most people, I observed, had come to the mandirs with the sole purpose of meeting elders and greeting others from the same community circle. However, the main reason, which somehow seemed to have been overlooked (sadly), was that you want to begin the year by praying to God and wishing Him a happy new year. Once that was done, I had little interest in greeting people I did not know and whom I had no interest in meeting ever again. Radical thinking, by my parents' standard, but that's me.
Spent the rest of the day at home, reading a book and playing Prince of Persia on the computer. Later, 'Chatur' called up and it felt nice to have a frank, honest and open discussion with a true friend after a long, long time. We also met up with 'Cheeta' and had the usual banter about who was her boyfriend, while she kept insisting, between splits, that she was our 'choti behen'. :D Felt nice to be back to our goofy ways.
Have just returned from another 'chai adda' at Ajanta Dhaba between Chatur, Bulla and me. We chatted about life in general, but later we were speaking about placements. Chatur isn't very certain he'll get a good finance related project for his summer internship in Calcutta, and coming back to Calcutta is what, it seems, his family wants the most. I told him that I'm not too certain now (as I was, let's say, a year ago) that I wanted to take my final placements in Calcutta. He asked why, and I was at a loss of words. Somehow, Calcutta seems to have lost that appeal for me. (Or maybe, its just a negative phase that I've hit upon.) Anyway, the truth is more that I am open to a placement anywhere in the country (or abroad, if I'm lucky ;) ) as long as the job profile excites me. I'm not stringent or focussed on any particular vertical or industry. Just show me something that's challenging and interesting, and I'll be there!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Home for Diwali

Hello people. Just to inform you that I'm back home in Calcutta for Diwali. Will be here till the 29th.

Will post when I have some more time...and cash ;)

Enjoy and have a VERY HAPPY DIWALI. :)))

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hey, Amitabh's human too !!

Amitabh Bachchan reading Playboy !!! :D

Lazy movie days

I had 5 classes today, but the mind simply refused to take in so much mental activity in a day. :)

So, I gleefully slept my fill till mid-afternoon. Which reminds me, there is this strange problem that I have with sleeping.

You see, when I decide not to sleep, I'm a devil. I can stay awake for long hours, and trust me, there have been days when I've only slept for 2 to 3 hours and have been back on my feet for the next 24, only to sleep for another 3 to 4 hours and be back on for the next 12-18. Usually, I draw the line there and head for a peaceful 6-10 hours after such a schedule, but one never knows for certain. Of course, there've been disastrous consequences (during that crazy exam), but one learns to laugh and move on.

Then, *sigh, there is the other side of me, what people politely call the 'Kumbhakarana'. I sleep, and sleep and sleep for hours on end. My record stands at 40 hours of non-stop sleep (!!!), but then, I had had very little sleep the previous 3 days. Anyway, the point is I can sleep A LOT !!!

Err...so where exactly is the problem??

Well, I would really like it if could actually only sleep for a regular 6 hours. I believe there's been some research work done somewhere which says that a man needs to sleep for a full 6 hours in order to completely recuperate. Of course, the total non-REM sleep would be only 4 hours. (Surprising, did Chanakya know about the definitions of REM and non-REM sleep?? 'Coz he certainly instructed the kings in his 'Arthashastra' to sleep precisely for 4 hours.)

Well, the day went fine. I attended only the last 2 classes and had a nice dinner. Narendra Modi, the CM of Gujarat, was here at the institute for the Convocation dinner of the Nirma Institute of Technology students. The dinner was lavish and like a few friends commented, we almost felt as if we had come to a wedding reception rather than a convocation party.

I've been watching a few movies lately, thanks to the P2P network setup on the intra here recently. I watched 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' yesterday, and I so completely feel that the movie is over-rated. I know there might be many who disagree with me on this, but hey, the movie was just the run-of-the-mill stuff. Still can't see why the country is going crazy over it.

Also saw 'The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift' yesterday. The movie was ok, the babe was ultra cute and the songs were awesome!! :) By the way, you know you're getting old-er when the person who you refer to as 'babe' in the movie, Nathalie Kelley, was born after you. :(( 21 years old and already famous!!

Finished seeing 'Batman Begins' an hour ago. I thought the movie was nice. But I'm biased towards Batman. Have always been. I love the dark aura that surrounds him. And even as a child, I used to argue, that though Superman and Spiderman were good, they just weren't Batman. Others have gotten their powers from something, Superman was born that way, Spiderman got his powers after getting bitten by a radioactive spider. But Batman was different. He found his powers within himself. He learnt to battle the darkness within and accepted who he was. (Thanks to Tushar for reminding me that Phantom was a childhood favorite too, perhaps due to similar reasons.) In fact, one of my all-time favorite desktop wallpapers is the following:


Anyway, me off to washing clothes now. *deep sigh* Yaar, the best part about being in a hostel is that since you have to depend on yourself for getting clothes washed or washing them yourself, no one really knows (or bothers) about the last time your clothes interacted with H2O, unless of course you're stinking to high heaven. However, when you need to go home, the story needs to be altered a bit. Clothes need to be washed in order to be orderly and presented in a neat fashion before folks back home.

Basanti leaves tomorrow evening and so does dear Mr. Roomie. I leave on Thursday, with a chatterbox of a Bengali babe on the same flight. :) Gosh !! It feels nice to know that only a few hours separate me from home.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Roller Coaster

Life has been, and continues to be, a roller-coaster ride of emotions the last couple of days. In short, I do not know whether to classify my mental state as "happy" or "sad"; I guess I've just become a pendulum which swings between the two, never really coming close to either.

From Saturday night last week, when I was so angry and frustrated that I had trouble sleeping, through to today, when I am not being able to come to terms with myself to 'enjoy' life, I can say I've gone through it all (or have I?).

Don't get me wrong, I'm no poor-guy-look-at-him-and-feel-sorry. I'm fine, I'm normal; I'm just not.....me.

So, I began by taking my cell phone last Sunday and throwing it with all my might against the wall. I guess I hadn't let go of my anger (towards the world in general and myself in particular) for a long, long time. And the cellphone, in its decrepit condition (I'd been using the same phone for over 3 years), was just a focal point of all that was wrong.

The phone lay in 8 pieces before me, but I wasn't done yet. I shifted my gaze towards a brown carton which contained memories; letters, cards, photographs. One by one, I tore them up...pointless to carry stones and thorns with which one can only strew the path of the future.

I do not know what happened next, but something led me online. I was, in fact, staring at the blogger settings page which prompted whether the user was certain whether he/she wanted to delete the blog. Somehow, I resisted the devil's tempation. However, the fire was yet to subside and I automatically progressed to my Orkut home page. Somehow, I didn't feel the tug this time and I promptly went on to delete my Orkut account.

Back on my laptop, I deleted the various tools of communications, MSN Messneger, Yahoo Messenger, Skype...the works. "If someone really wants to contact me for something important, he can always e-mail me", said the little voice inside my head.

Oh, and before I forget, a whole folder of photographs on my laptop was also deleted.

Just last night, when I had the opportunity to hang out with friends and enjoy the various videos of groups that were prepared at the Institute, I gave up the idea 'coz I was feeling nauseated and sick. Unknown to many, I had had a dull, throbbing headache since afternoon. And of course, my sleep has lately been plagued with nightmares of fire, sweat, heat, death of loved ones, screams and crying...lots and lots of crying. No. There was no way I could reconcile with these emotions and put up a 'mukhota' in front of friends.
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It's difficult to try and act normal when one isn't so. If I could have had it my way, I've would've remain locked up in my room and not come out till I would've felt better.

But the wonderful thing about this world is that it forces you to come out of darkness, both, literally and philosophically.

I went for lunch to US Pizza today and observed that this was the first time in my stay at Ahmedabad of 1 and a half years that I was coming here. Needless to say, I was met with more than just an incredulous look from my friends.

I went to meet Bhai today as well and as luck would have it, Bhabhi was there too. While talking to her, I realized how close to the word 'hermit' I'd actually come. I'm not saying that I've reached the definition of the ultra 'corporate' hermit (that would be someone who talks-sleeps-eats-drinks 'business' and does little else), but yep... I've only gone for 1 movie to the cinema hall during my last 1 and a half years of MBA (which also means that I haven't been to Fun Republic to watch a movie, the basic criterion by which we say we've "had a good time"), my regular eating-out joints are limited to a) Madhurya, b) the Shiv Shakti Dhaba, c) Mc D at Big B on the SG Highway, and oh yes, I haven't once been out playing dandiya or garba on the 18 opportunities (9 nights x 2 years) that I had.

I dunno whether I'm weird, but I surely know that I don't feel like I've lost out on stuff.

P.S. Btw, I had posted something on my blog last night for a couple of hours, but then deleted it 'coz it was way too negative. Adios for now.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Don't touch my bhaisaa


That's a bull which had been left overnight within the shelter of a mosquito net by the farmer. Spotted by Basanti on the CoNfU-zOnE gang's (that's what we like to call ourselves ;)) way to Thor Lake.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Federer wins Japan Open


Go Roger, Go !!

The Argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen

I've finally finished reading a book which I started reading aeons ago. I'd originally picked up the book at the college library, only to return it after having struggled through the first chapter. Although I loved the content (and Sen's style), I just couldn't find the inclination to move ahead with the book at that point in time.

Come my summer internship in Mumbai and I went on a book buying spree, what with the absence of other modes of entertainment (television in general and the Internet in particular). That is when I chanced on this wonderful book again and this time, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands (literally, I remember).

This book is a must read, especially for those who aspire to know India in the modern context. The advantage of being Amartya Sen is that not only are you steeped in Indian culture but are also someone who has achieved tremendous success in the international arena which allows you to observe and dissect national issues with remarkable ease. As the back cover of the book reminds you, "If ever there was a global intellectual, it is Sen" (Sunil Khilnani, Financial Times). [Separate issue altogether that the comment reminded me of Nirad C. Chaudhari.]

Sen achieves the superlative in this book by being able to analyze Indian issues with a mix of the observer's interest and as a passionate lover of the country (he still holds his Indian visa after all these years abroad). He not only discusses the giants of Indian history such as Aryabhatta and Akbar, but also introduces us to modern masters such as Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Satyajit Ray. The fine amount of research done is evident by the number of asterisks that you keep meeting while browsing through the text. You only wish that the references to the other works of Sen himself and some of his other esteemed colleagues were included in the 'Notes' at the end of the book and only those post-scripts were added which furthered the narration and understanding of the reader.

For me the book stands out simply because it has re-generated my interest in Indian history. God knows, and my school marksheets are proof enough, that I was a bad student of history. This book not only makes one proud about our history but also arouses curiosity about who we are as a nation. Forces us to take a relook, and not emotionally or through saffron or green tinted glasses, but at the recorded history and as a proud citizen of a secular country.

There are also readings about India's political and cultural communications with countries such as Pakistan and China. There is even a comparative analysis done on the manner in which China and India have progressed socially over the years, especially since their move towards economic reforms (post-1970 for China and post-1990 for India). Makes for terrific reading.

All in all, I felt as if I must read Nehru's "Discovery of India". I stick my head out and will say that in a small way, this book has established itself as a classic must-read for the modern reader of India.
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"Prolixity is not alien to us in India. We are able to talk at some length. Krishna Menon's record of the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations (nine hours non-stop), established half a century ago (when Menon was leading the Indian delegation), has not been equalled by anyone from anywhere. Other peaks of loquaciousness have been scaled by other Indians. We do like to speak.

This is not a new habit. The ancient Sanskrit epics the Ramayana and the Mahahharata, which are frequently compared with the Iliad and the Odyssey, are colossally longer than the works that the modest Homer could manage. Indeed, the Mahabharata alone is about seven times as long as the Iliad and the Odyssey put together."

Read more of the extract here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Voices from the past

He didn't know what led him away from the crowd. He just knew he had to walk. A raspy voice within whispered, "Walk, my friend, walk..."

As his feet guided him into the darkened alleys, away from the crowd, the music, the drumbeats, the sweet music of the flute, he could feel a shadow rise within him. The occasional couple which was hurrying towards the huge garden party paused only briefly to watch the man walk away. And even though they saw a lonesome figure, he was already not alone.

Away from the garden where friends and lovers were alike caught in the rhythmic dance movements of 'garba', the shadow that had started forming had now risen to its full size; a warrior, powerfully built with sharp, intelligent eyes.

"How have you been, my friend?", asked he who was only known as the 'Lone Warrior'. The voice was no longer a whisper; it was now a gentle, baritone voice which, although friendly, made no attempt to hide the maturity and the deep knowledge of the world that guided his words. "It's been long since we last spoke."

"Much has happened since then, and oh, how my world has changed", spoke the man. There was a hint of emotion, a weak moment perhaps.

"I am aware of the changes, you know," smiled the Lone Warrior. "I never really leave your side. But come," he continued, "I haven't come to hear you cry and be weak... weakness is a crime, and you know that." The Warrior laid a heavy hand on the man's shoulder.

The man smiled.

And so, the two friends walked together, just like they used to in the days gone by. They spoke of the world, and they spoke of the happenings. They discussed issues of importance to our friend. They spoke strategically...and a lot of questions were tossed about. A number of scenarios were ruminated upon, always beginning with the 'best-case scenario' and progressively moving towards the 'worst-case scenario'. This allowed them to build up a momentum to concentrate most on that problem which might occur.

It was like listening to two friends strategize the friend's moves in a game of chess; only, this wasn't a game. The stakes were much higher here. "What if the competition reacts like this? What if the competition reacts like that? What if they take it all in their stride and decide to move ahead? What if, heaven forbid, they decide to strike back? (A silly option, no doubt, but one must always be prepared.)"

If someone were to overhear their conversation, they would perhaps laugh at the silliness of it all. After all, 'why ponder over issues which may never even see the light of day?' But the two friends, ignorant of the thoughts that others might have, continued to debate.

Their walk took them away from the limelight, from the loud, blaring speakers that churned out songs that Gopis sang for Krishna. Little did they know, that their Krishna had changed. He was no longer the same Devki-nandan who played the flute and gambolled around the forests of Vrindavan. He was now Parthasarthi, the charioteer of Arjuna, whose duty it was to guide the ever-focussed warrior prince in the battle of karma. Dharma-kshetre, Kurukshetre, my friend, Dharma-kshetre, Kurukshetre...

The walk had taken them to another part of the compound. The music had died a long time ago. There was just the sound of feet quietly stepping on the cemented path making childish attempts to disturb the the silence of the night, frequently helped in its endeavor by the chirping of crickets. It was a full moon night and the light cast a long shadow of the man, staring at the path ahead of him and walking with both his hands behind his back, the left supporting the right.

The man paused...and looked up at the moon. The 'poornima' night brought back a flood of memories. Nights like this would've enchanted him to write poetry, once upon a time. He would've written about the beauty of Nature, and the mighty hand of God and all the beautiful creatures that He creates effortlessly.

Yet, now, all that he stared at was the moon. A satellite of planet earth. It was now no more than a heavenly body which reflected the light of the sun. The moon was now just indicative of the fact that this was (perhaps) time to rest from the daily battle and for a few moments ponder over the challenges that dawn would bring.

And even as they completed a circle of the huge ground and made their way towards the garden again, the man could hear a female voice call out to him from a deep, misty end of his mind: "Can't you...can't you for once become who you were before? Why must you torture yourself so? Are you scared of the crowds of young people who dress up and enjoy themselves? Why the phobia? Do you feel that you won't fit in? Just because you know that you're different doesn't mean that you will not take a break from your ever-warring thoughts and enjoy yourself, does it?"

The Warrior stood aside and wondered whether his friend would remember the advice that he'd given him long ago. He prayed that his friend would have the strength of will to fight the current urge, for he knew this was just a fraction of the challenge that awaited him in the days to come.

The man paused. And smiled.

There were voices from the past, calling out to him.

"No," he replied, "I'm not scared of the milling young crowds...not any more. And neither am I jealous of them. Let them laugh and play and dance all that they want. That is the path that they've chosen. And I've chosen mine."

And having said that, he once again moved away from the glare of the shiny halogen lights into the dark avenue with trees on either side.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Praying

Wonder where I learnt to pray?

Me and Dad


At the feet of my father. :)

PS: Special attention to the Bengali 'bhadrolok' appearance in the dhoti-kurta. :D

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Dhari travelogue

I scribbled down the following lines in my diary during my visit to my native village, Dhari. Thought I'd share it with you folks to tell you how I spent my birthday (1st October) and the day after...

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Date: 30th September
Location: Bapu Nagar, Ahmedabad
Time: 9:30 pm

Left the hostel at 7 pm and reached Bhai's shop at 8:15. Had something to munch, though I'm certain I'll again feel hungry sometime during the night.

Currently just waiting for the bus to arrive. Expected time? 11pm. That leaves me to wait all alone for the bus for an hour and a half. Just spoke to Dad again. He's extremely upset I couldn't collect the birthday card that he'd sent (with much trouble). I tried explaining to him how it was impossible for me to do so since I was out in the city since early in the morning and by the time I returned to the institute, the receptionist had already left on account of it being a half day.

All the same, I LOOOVE MY PARENTS !! Nay...I worship them. :)


Date: 1st October 2006
Location: Shri Narbeswar Mahadev Mandir, Dhari
Time: 7:35 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME !! :D

I reached here approximately 15 minutes ago. At once, I felt relieved of all pressures and tensions that have been harboring in my tormented mind the last few weeks. I felt a sea of calm wash against me as soon as I stood with my folded hands in front of the temple.

Spoke to Mamma and Pappa at around 6. They sounded pleased; I do not know whether it was because they wished me early on my birthday or because I'd managed to wake up early on my own, being the lazy bum that I am. ;)

Btw, guess what? There's Airtel and Hutch network in this village now, but no Reliance. It is going to be a peaceful two days.


Date: 2nd October 2006
Location: Shri Narbeswar Mahadev Mandir, Dhari
Time: 10:45 am

My eyes opened at quarter to 5 today morning. I had adjusted the bed last night so that I could see the mandir even as I was lying down. Hence, the first sight to greet me today was that of the mandir and the puja that was in progress (the pujari bapu here gets up at 4 and starts the daily puja at around 4:45 - 5 am).

I had slept at around 11:30 last night, surprising since I'd woken up from my 'afternoon' nap at 7. I'd had my meals the day before at Dhiru Kaka's house in the village. Although the meals comprised of regular stuff (roti, aloo ki sabji, kheer, kadhi etc.), it was a much refreshing change from the McAloo Veggie at McDonald's or the heavy butter-rotis and paneer at Madhurya (a restaurant near the college).

Anyway, as I lay awake in the bed at 5 in the morning, I recollected that the milk that I'd requested for Puja wouldn't be here till around 8. I went back to sleep, only to wake up at 9. I quickly had a bath and proceeded to the mandir. Once I sat in front of the shiv ling and closed my eyes in prayer, I lost all track of time. When I opened my eyes after a 108 chants of the "Om Mrityunjaya Mahadev" shloka, I saw some people from the village who had come to visit me waiting outside. I asked them how long they had been there. They said that they arrived around 20 minutes ago. I checked my watch. I had been meditating non-stop for an hour and a half.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Udan Choo

I've just returned from a birthday 'bash', where obviously, the person who got 'bashed' was none other than the birthday boy himself. And since the birthday boy happened to be 'the sardar', or, "Surdy" as he is popularly known (and also as he calls himself on Orkut), the countdown to his birthday bumps began from 12 instead of the usual 10. :D

There were quite a few people who had congregated on the 3rd floor of the Nirma Boys Hostel for the celebrations. True enough, the "bashing" had its required impact and Surdy got his due:

Kaun maar sakta hai mujhe ??


As far as I'm concerned, I'm listening to 'Tu hi meri shab hai' from Gangster after what seems like ages. And know what, the song sounds absolutely AWESOME !! Can listen to it again and again...and again.....

Today was also the first day of the HR Conclave at the Institute. And yes, I had to finally compere the proceedings for a session. Ever since last year, people in the college were telling me that I must compere the proceedings for events since they tell me I have a nice voice (ahem!! a bit of self-praise, although subtly put, never hurt anyone, did it? ;) ). And so, for the third time this year, after doing the 'Awaaz-e-Hind' voiceover for the junior batch's Talent Nite and the compering for the inaugural session of MANLIBNET, I was once again on stage. It was a nice experience, what with all the on-stage changes that we had to make, first since there was a last minute change in the professor who would chair the session, and then when the distinguished speaker unexpectedly came over to the dias when he was supposed to sweetly await the good looking girl who would offer him a bouquet of flowers. Hmm...must say, our managerial effectiveness was put to a good test backstage.

And for those who're wondering why the title of this post is what it is...here's the deal. I'm off to Dhari, my native village, tomorrow evening. I'll be taking a bus tomorrow night at 11 and shall reach Dhari by 5 the next morning. Mom and Dad had been asking me to go for quite some time now, and it was only proper for me to visit the place I worship so much. Obviously, Mom and Dad, back in Calcutta, have no idea of the kind of time-management skills and games that we must play here at a B-school, which explains why they were slightly disappointed last weekend when I couldn't find the time to plan the trip. I've spoken to them this evening, and they sound pleased about the trip tomorrow evening.

It is surprising how sometimes things work out for the best by themselves, even when we as individuals are not actively involved in giving shape to such plans. I somehow couldn't find the time during the week-long PPV break to go to Dhari, and then, when it seemed I would only be able to go there after I came back from my proposed trip to Cal in October, the opportunity to go this weekend itself neatly landed in my lap.

Let me also add why I 'worship' the place called Dhari. Dhari is not only my native village, but is also the place where my forefathers have built a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. There's an interesting tale behind why my grand-Uncle built the temple, but that shall be the subject matter for another post. For now, let me just say that it involves a number of dreams in which Lord Shiva 'visited' my grand-Uncle and instructed him to "unearth" him.

It is nice to know that I'll be once again going back to my roots, and not only the roots of a certain family but also, in a way, the roots of India. Dhari is a village with a radius of (I think) 1-1.5 kms. Electricity and constant water-supply can still be called visitors to this dusty village and I didn't get any network coverage on my Reliance mobile phone the last time I was there (which is the reason why I'm leaving my cell-phone behind. Ahh !! Nirvana). Of course, one can forget about Internet connections and cyber cafes. Cable television is a recent addition to the village, but still subscribed to by the well-to-do families. Perfect backdrop for cricket matches...occupants of neighbouring houses still gather in the silk-trader's house to watch Sachin bat, while the housewives prepare hot Gujarati delicacies like 'gaathiya' and 'chevdo' and pass it around.

(Clink) To a 'Swades' like return to my soil...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gandhi-giri pe lage raho

This isn't another review of the (apparently) hugely successful Hindi film 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai'. I guess, that would allow the world to breathe easy...what with the heaps and heaps of praise that has been piled up on the film already. Must say, I guess I will watch the film one day out of sheer curiosity rather than as an avenue to kill time.

Now those who are interested in the idea of how relevant Gandhiji's teachings are in today's day and time (I know there are regular essay/debate contests held in school on the topic) might want to check out a brilliant Hindi film called 'Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara'*1 which was released last year. The film starred Anupam Kher and Urmila Matondkar. I felt that Ms. Matondkar went overboard in a couple of scenes, but did exceptionally well for most of the film. Anupam Kher, in his role as a retired college professor, was brilliant. The role demanded him to put across in a silent way the frustrations and anger of a generation past its prime, and Mr. Kher did it with absolute elan. In my opinion, he has only done better in Daddy (this was an era when Mahesh Bhatt did make sensible films) and his debut film, Saaransh.

Anyway, back to the post. Like I said, I was a part of the VIIIth MANLIBNET (Management Librarians Network) Convention sometime back. Mr. Thyagarajan of Nirma Labs also made a presentation there, and he ended by showing this extremely sweet picture:


What I liked even more was the manner in which Tyagi Sir described the pic, "...this is a picture which shows the past (Gandhiji) being led by the future (the kid, his grandson Tushar Gandhi) while the present (the lady standing beside Gandhiji) is a bemused spectator".

*1: 'Maine Gandhi Ko is a masterpiece', Sukanya Verma on rediff.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Shh...

CAUTION: This post, begun at 2 AM, was written after an unsuccessful attempt to sleep. You have been warned. Let only the brave continue. ;)

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Silence, as Gratiano reminds us in Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice', is but the garb, and perhaps only refuge, of the fool. Indeed, not only would the world be a less noisy place but it would also benefit by escaping from the cacophonous voices of poor intellect.

Does that advocate no voice to be raised which is concerned atheistic or heterotypic? Separate issue and, of course, highly debatable.

Returning to the matter at hand, Gratiano's suggestion reminded me of Lao Tzu's quote: "Silence is a source of great strength". We've all observed and heard or read of great personalities who are reticent in their day to day dealings.

And why even go to China? We've got our very own Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who regulary (once a week, if I'm not mistaken) used to observe 'Maun Vrat'. [Of course, these days, even Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living propagates the idea of 'maun vrat'.]

Silence is also the sound of love. The closest that I've heard any song come to expressing this particular moment is Ronan Keating's 'You say it best (when you say nothing at all)' [...all day long I can hear people talking out loud, but when you hold me near..you drown out the crowd...]. It is that one moment of silence, that meeting of the eyes that conveys a million messages of love that tells you that Cupid has indeed struck with his sweet arrow.

Silence, however, is also the sound of anger. Ever noticed the person who never shouts at the top of his voice when angry? Personal experience and counsel of wiser people warn me that these are the ones who're more 'dangerous' or likely to cause harm. They are like mountains which though appear silent, carry the the hot lava of anger and destruction just beneath the surface, waiting to explode....at the appropriate moment.

Silence is grief. Grief of having lost a loved one, of having lost after putting everything at stake, of failing in an exam, of losing a war, of......

However, Silence is also a moment of strength. A moment to reflect. A moment to introspect. Silence is like the great ocean, which though appears to be quiet above, is the source of life and activity beneath.

A final word...

Silence reminds me of a moment from (here we go again) The Bhagavad Gita. After putting forth his views on the imminent war and the hopelessness of the situation (as he sees it), Arjuna throws down his weapons and sits down despondent at the back of his chariot. I'm not certain if Lord Krishna smiles at this moment, but that certainly was the image that flashed across my mind's eye when I'd read the English translation of The Gita by Dr. Radhakrishnan. However, Dr. Radhakrishnan mentions, that this is a moment of truth. The moment of silence separates the despairing Arjuna's grievings and Krishna's friendly help in the form of the 'Divine Song'. Was it mere coincidence that there was a moment of silence here, or did Vasudeva deliberately allow it to separate the question and the subsequent explanation? Perhaps, as the author mentions, the moment of silence existed since 'great thoughts arise from a quiet mind'.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Heterodoxy

The world over, the men and women who have the courage to fight the odds and come out trumps are the ones that are respected. Often, as is the case, they must sound anti-establishment or must "go against the grain", to use two very cliched terms, to make their case. However, it isn't for the joy of being anti-establishment or going-against-the-grain that these people do or say what they say; it is because they firmly believe in what they say, feel or do.

It is here that i would like to introduce a few names much more well known than mine and highly respected worldwide.

To quote from the first chapter from Amartya Sen's "The Argumentative Indian" (which, as the top-right corner of this page proudly announces, I'm currently reading): "It is not hard to see that the possibility of scientific advance is closely connected with the role of heterodoxy, since new ideas and discoveries have to emerge initially as heterodox views, which differ from, and may be in conflict with, established understanding. The history of scientific contributions across the world - the experiences of Copernicus, or Galileo, or Newton, or Darwin - shows many examples of the part that resolute heterodoxy has to play, in scrutinizing, and when necessary rejecting, the views that are standardly accepted." (Sigh, I wish I could write like him.)

Sen continues later: "...a methodological point that Francis Bacon would make with compelling clarity in 1605 in his treatise The Advancement of Learning. 'The registering and proposing of doubts has a double use,' Bacon said. One use is straightforward: it guards us 'against errors'. The second use, Bacon argued, involved the role of doubts in initiating and furthering a process of enquiry, which has the effect of enriching our investigations. Issues that 'would have been passed by lightly without intervention', Bacon noted, end up being 'attentively and carefully observed' precisely because of the 'intervention of doubts'."

A few weeks ago, fired up by the words of Swami Vivekananda, I collected all the quotes that I personally found very motivating. I then put them on different slides and converted the Powerpoint presentation thus created, into individual JPEG images. Having saved these images in a particular folder, I selected the folder from which these images are now shown as my screensaver.

One of Vivekananda's quotes, which I was reminded of while reading the quoted text from The Argumentative Indian was this:


I am also reminded of Ayn Rand's classic The Fountainhead. Although I completely disagree with some aspects of the book, there are excerpts of the classic court scene, where Howard Roark speaks, which are dipped in truth. Here is what I was reminded of:

"Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received--hatred. The great creators--the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors--stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The break

All right, so the Pre-Placement Visit (PPV) time is here and most of the folks have gone back home. That leaves only a handful of guys back at the hostel. There are only 4 guys from the senior batch here, so things are kinda lonely and quiet. But, nobody's complaining because all the four are as mad as they come.

Anyway, Monday was the opening day of the VIIIth MANLIBNET (Management Librarian's Network) convention, which was hosted by our institute. And since Anil Sir, our librarian, was the organiser, he had asked me to be around and make myself useful. So, make myself useful I did. I was the compere for the inaugural session and also made a 20 minute presentation that evening on 'Blogging for Librarians'. :D

My recommendation was that each library under the MANLIBNET should start an official blog of their own where a personal touch and contact could be established with the end user. My understanding of the libraries prompted me to believe that there are 4 essential categories of 'customers' to a management library: a) Students of the Institute, b) Faculty, c) Alumni & d) Industry

To cut a long story short, the whole idea was to provide librarians with another 'touch-point' where they could easily communicate new happenings and efforts of the library to the end-user. In fact, my personal belief is that a blog by librarians could become a force in changing the way new books and events are added to a library's repertoire. Makes more sense than blindly subscribing to really expensive databases of research journals.

I was dog-tired by the end of the day and since I'd had very little sleep (1 1/2 hours, to be precise) the previous night, I slept like a log from 10 pm on Monday night to 1 o' clock the following afternoon. Went straight for lunch and came back to play some Age of Empires and Max Payne on the comp. :))

We were disappointed at the dinner yesterday when we saw that there was 'khichdi' on the menu. Now, khichdi back at home is another affair; it is wonderful to have with lots of dahi and achaar, but at a hostel where the khichdi has been prepared for 100 odd people, you'd better know what to expect. So, Kota and I straight went to Paratha Point on Judges' Bungalow Road and treated ourselves to some yum aloo parathas and lassi. (I could almost feel my tummy smiling.) We got paneer parathas back for Tushar, which the pig gulped down with generous helpings of butter that he'd asked us to bring too.

I'm kinda feeling terrible for two things right now. A) My room is in a MESS to say the least. It looks like I've gone back to the glory days of the caveman, where every aspect of the shelter represented the barbaric and mindless tossing of stuff here and there. B) I haven't done a bit of studies since Saturday, and that ain't too good for my conscience. Hmm.. I guess I'd better get working now. C ya folks.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Broodings of a midnight soul

It happens to the best of us, they say. We all have our 'up' days and our 'down' days. I guess today was one of my 'down' days...

I dunno, but I seem to have lost direction in the last 24-48 hours. It is as if the mind is saying "Hey there, smart guy, look...this is what you must be doing"...but it is as if some overwhelming force takes over me completely and makes me do stupid stuff which only causes trouble later.

And then there are some moments when I literally feel like kicking myself. Or wish that I could drown myself, sink to the bottom of an ice cold pool of water...just so that I can 'hear' the silence. Don't get me wrong, no suicidal tendencies here mate; I guess its just the "lonely warrior" within me who is craving for his own space.

Okay...here goes. It is quarter to 2 in the morning, I have a mild headache, I'd dare not have tea, or else my classes tomorrow morning will suffer, and YET, I feel as if I must blog because one feels that if the voices within are not coherently heard in the mind, one must be flirting with the line of insanity.

So, folks, brace yourself for a...I dunno...'heavy' (?) post. A warning after full 4 paragraphs ?? Treat it as a trailer, will ya ?

To start the proceedings, let me show you an image which has been flashing itself in my mind's eye for some days now:


The image shows Arjuna, the ultimate warrior, at the feet of Lord Krishna. Krishna has just shown all his forms to Arjuna. Of course, the Bhagavad Gita starts with Arjuna voicing his internal turmoil to the Lord. He (Arjuna) is stranded between the powerful call of duty (karma) and his personal emotions. It is then that Krishna calls Arjuna a coward and goads him onto his duty.

Another image which I often see is that of a warrior (like I said earlier, I call him the "lonely warrior") sitting in a meditating pose and concentrating all his thoughts, powers and energies on a single thought. And although the warrior looks calm and peaceful from outside, one can clearly see the great power manifested within, the power which must be carefully kept in control for it can create and destroy, all with one look.

Somewhere, I feel, all human beings are like Arjuna in the first imagery and like the warrior in the second. We all have our personal battles to fight, and the journey of life turns into nothing but a huge battlefield which we must travel through. We must control our emotions (remember the horses which lead Arjuna's chariot hither and thither?), and the best hands to leave them in are that of 'Madhusudan', the one who knows all and is the giver of perfect knowledge.

Of course, it ain't easy to follow all his directions, brother.

One, and I repeat, ONE of the many reasons why my mind is in a more active state of turmoil is because I recently broke up with my girlfriend of 2 and a half years. Life was, and continues to be, tough. But, I've survived the storm, and though the ship hasn't yet sighted daylight and though the dark, murky waters continue to swell threateningly all around, I somehow know that the ship shall weather the upcoming storm too; and emerge stronger out of it.

Then there are questions regarding my professional life. (sigh)

Whenever I am in trouble, or feel suffocated (like right now) and feel like tearing myself apart what with all the questions and doubts that I have in my mind about myself, I read the works of Swami Vivekananda. Whenever I read his essays, I feel as if I am humbly at the feet of the master himself and can almost hear him shouting out the words I read, urging me to action...in much the same way that Krishna beckoned Arjuna. I guess this is just the figment of a hyper-imaginative guy, whose conscience is projected in the form of Vivekananda. No issues... helps me know whether what I'm doing is correct or otherwise.

However, there is one particular quote: "Do not look back on what has been done. Go ahead!" This again, is an extremely powerful quote; one that I often quote to myself reminding myself that moving ahead should always be the goal. And if you've made a mistake, learn from it, rub it into your system so well that you never ever make the mistake again...and move on. The world is an unforgiving one, and shall definitely not wait for he who ponders for longer than is necessary.

But, dear master, it is so difficult to move away from the bondage of the past !! One meekly struggles to free himself from the chains of the past whereas what is required is a full blooded powerful thrust of an individual who has the intellectual might to throw away the shackles and take fearless steps towards his destiny.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hairy Instinct

The Haircut

Like I've already told to whoever's been interested enough to patiently hear me out, I've received everything from condolence messages to leaps of joy congratulating me at my haircut. Just for the record, I called up Dad on my way to the barber's and the following is an excerpt:

Dad: Hello ?

Me: Dad, how many months has it been since I came home?

Dad: Umm..six months, son...why ?

Me: 'Coz I'm feeling real sad..

Dad: Why ? Missing us, eh ??

I wouldn't be too off the mark when I conjecture that at this point the paternal instinct must have risen to an all time high in the senior Ruparelia's chest and must have filled his heart with high emotions towards his son...

Me: Errr...no...Actually, I'm on my way to the barber's and the last time I had a haircut was when I was in Cal...so that means that I'm having a haircut after 6 months, and that's why I'm sad...

I wouldn't be too off the mark here either to conjecture that emotions of a rather different sort must have filled the senior Ruparelia's chest

[PLEASE NOTE: The remainder of this telephonic interview is not recorded here for security purposes of the undersigned.]


A Personality Course...(Ha Ha !!)

Ok..so the 5th term has officially started and I'm back to my criticising ways about the goings-on in a b-school. (I almost sound like a perennial nay-sayer to the b-school system....but BOY is this fun !! :D )

Now, one of the courses that the students can opt for here is called Personality Development and Business Etiquette. I really do not have much clue as to which books these warriors of good personality are about to subscribe to, but a few of the 'rules' of these classes are:

1. Hair must be in 'proper' (not my personal definition) shape

2. Student must be in formal attire during the lecture

3. Nails must be cut

4. Shoes must be polished; and

5. (This is the latest fad as per tonight's behaviour in the mess) Stuff like 'Good morning/evening', 'Thank you' and 'Please' must be mentioned

Before I fall off my chair, let me pause for a bit and add that in my 'personal' opinion, the faculty who is conducting the course is one of the BEST faculty members in this institute. I do not say this since I must be 'diplomatically correct'; I've been saying this and respecting her the most since she took one of the first classes after we'd joined Nirma.

However, what I do not agree with is the whole idea that Personality can be 'taught' in a classroom environment...but then, what the hell, neither can business. And one more thought, I doubt whether M/s. Vijay Mallya and Co. would EVER pass this particular course. ;)