Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A tale of two weekends…

Whom do you curse when you see traffic jams on a Bangalore- Mysore highway?
In spite of having a four lane road to cater to the needs, there were traffic jams. It was as if the entire Bangalore was on the move on this highway. I realized it wasn’t so after reading the newspaper reports of traffic jams around MG Road the next day…Wherever Bangaloreans go, traffic jam follows!!!

Two consecutive weekends and 800KM of travel hasn’t stopped me from planning something for the coming weekend!!

The first weekend we drove to Mysore. If you haven’t driven on this road then you are missing something…The four lane road makes you forget that you are in Karnataka…The fun is in the drive where you can reach speeds of 160Kmph without breaking a sweat.

The next weekend was a drive to Coorg. An added incentive is you have to travel on the same road. Just before reaching Mysore we took the diversion to Coorg. The road to Coorg was under expansion. Most part of the road was expanded and was really good but there were small stretches all along to remind us that we were still in Karnataka..;)
We reached Kushalnagar in the evening and checked into a hotel called Kannika International. At around Rs.1000 per day they were expensive for the kind of service they provided. In fact the service was so bad we decided to have our dinner somewhere outside. For guidance we asked the waiter whether there was some good hotel nearby…To our surprise he actually directed us to some hotel…I found it really funny that a waiter of one hotel guiding its customers to find some better hotel. Anyway after having dinner we hit the bed.
The next day we got up early, to visit the Buddha golden temple. The architecture was really amazing. It was the first time I had visited a Buddhist monastery and was really thrilled to see the huge Buddha statue (60foot) and the wall paintings. The atmosphere there would have been similar to that of a church on any other day except that on this day there was a whole bunch of kids who had come on an excursion making hell of a noise, making mockery of all the boards there which were pleading us to maintain silence.

I always felt we had too many relatives than we could handle. It was proved when I met some of them even in Kushalnagar. But somehow I felt sorrier for them after they decided to tag along with us for a couple of places. They were newly wed couples and I had a feeling of being kabab me haddi..:)

After the temple we went to Harangi dam. A dam with a huge capacity, but had only a few buckets of water…Then we went to Cauvery Nisargadhama. After some sightseeing and an elephant ride we again hit the road to Madikeri. One interesting anecdote at Nisargadhama was the sight of a few fishermen frantically searching for something in the water. There was a Hanging Bridge from where all of us were watching, and obviously we were under the impression that they were fishing. But these fishermen were a breed of a different kind. They were actually searching for a mobile phone!!! Apparently they were being paid by someone who had accidentally dropped his mobile phone from the bridge into the waters!!! I am sure the fishes were having a nice conversation there..:)

We reached Madikeri in the afternoon and checked into a hotel called Coorg International. We had requested someone to book a room in advance and were told that the cost would be about Rs.1500 per day. Only after checking in we realized that it was Rs.5000 per day. They were exorbitantly charging because of the peak season. We had to stick to the hotel knowing that the whole of Coorg was booked for the entire week…Anyway at least they did justice to the money we paid and to their name (International) by providing us excellent service and amazing food. It was only later we learnt that it was a three star hotel!!!

We spent the rest of the day in hotel after visiting Raja seat and Abbi falls, trying to do justice to the amount we were paying..:)
After more than a decade I spent sometime playing TT with my dad…Reminded me a lot of my school days when we regularly used to play during weekends. The only difference was that I won all the games easily and hence didn’t have to loose my temper and throw my bat around which regularly used to happen then…:)

The next day we visited Bhagamandala (where the water felt like it came from a freezer!!) and Talacauvery (the water here would have given complex to the drainages of Bangalore!!!). Even here it took us quite sometime to find a parking slot because of the exodus of people from Bangalore.

After this we headed back to Bangalore enjoying the scenic beauty around and my favorite past time being, counting the number of cars from Bangalore!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It’s quite natural to dream about a lot of things but it’s another thing to dream about dreaming. The other night I had a dream in which I was fast asleep and dreaming about dreaming!!!…How much weirder can things get?

I kept wondering what made me dream about “dreaming” and then I realized I had read an article about dreams the previous night which made me ponder for long, the conversation that I had with my friend some time back about why we dream and its significance.

Somehow I felt I had ceased to dream or so I thought. My dreams were far and between. The more I think of it I feel maybe I never made an effort to remember them. We have come a long way in understanding them. From considering them to be supernatural or messages from God to giving scientific / logical explanation to each one of them.

The main barrier to dream recall and to lucid dreaming (realizing during a dream that one is dreaming) is that waking and dreaming memory aren't connected nearly as well as they could be. I am not kidding but I think it needs greater intention, practice and focus. Making a consistent effort to remember and record your dreams will help your waking mind to ally itself more closely with your dream experience. It's also an excellent way to increase imagination, creative and intuitive capabilities which are all intimately connected with dreams.

All this made me start a new experiment on dreaming!! The experiment involved thinking about a subject for long just before going to sleep and keep telling yourself that you want to remember whatever transpires in your dream. You can pick just about anything from real life situations to absurd fiction, from real people (like your girlfriend / boyfriend :)) to aliens..;)…. I did this judiciously for a few days and most often then not I found that I could remember the characters, the scene and just about everything the next morning.

So all those guys/ gals who want to have fun even while sleeping can follow the above procedure and turn every night filled with “sweet dreams” and maybe strive to make them happen…:)

If this exercise doesn’t help you in remembering your dreams it will definitely help in being soporific.

“Dream is not what you see in sleep…,

Dream is the thing which does not let you sleep.”

-Abdul Kalam.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ghandhigiri!!! Does it really work?

It was a cold and cloudy Saturday afternoon…Needless to say it took a lot of will power to get out of my bed and having got out I had no intention of falling back to my ever inviting bed…So I decided to go for the next evil…-my couch / sofa. Considering that my mom wasn’t there to drive me out of the sofa, it was a perfect day to watch a long overdue movie. Having missed out on watching “Lage Raho Munnabhai” with my friends, I got the DVD with the usual popcorn and a pack of chips…

The stage was set to watch it and I am happy that it lived up to its expectations…It had a perfect cast and the script / dialogues made sure it was enjoyable. Somehow I felt the film gave more to Sanjay Dutt in recasting his image as a Samaritan than what he was able to give to the movie. Ironically, contrary to this newfound image, Dutt - son of yesteryear film stars Nargis and Sunil Dutt - has only been a black sheep of his family, always stirring up controversies. And his life had the ingredients of a Bollywood thriller - with a mix of action, stunts and crime.

Coming back to the movie was it just another sequel or did it really drive a point?

Considering the fact that this movie inspired a lot of people in fighting against the politicians or administrators(which made news for quite sometime after the movies release), it certainly drove a point. But does Gandhiri really work in today’s world? Taking nothing away from the director (who actually did an excellent job), I feel it’s easier to make a movie on Ghandhiri than to follow its principles.

As the “bapu” himself, in the movie says it guarantees 100% success but one should have extreme patience and perseverance to follow it, something that most of us lack. And it sure can colligate most diverse groups together as shown by him.

Just imagine what the government of India would do if all the terrorists in Kashmir would throw away their arms and fast onto death for their cause. I am sure it’s a situation that will be very difficult to handle. It will be simpler for the govt to handle people with arms than with flowers. But again how many terrorists will have the courage to throw away their arms and go on fast.

The physical or mental travail is too much to handle for most of them and its not something which is very facile.

And that’s why we will have scores of terrorists but only one “bapu”.

Beasts die, men die,
all those who walk the earth must die.
But it’s the memories of true heroes which linger forever…

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Blog your way to a plum job!!!

There are scores of people “blogging” everyday for hundreds of reasons!!! For me its an innocuous way of penning my thoughts…Each entry to my blog is for a different reason. It depends on my mood, the current state of mind and obviously the “core idea” which usually gets materialized based on some “experience” or something that moved me quite deeply or something that I just wanted to share with the outside world…As you can see each entry is unique and each one has its own significance. To be honest, the bottom line is that I myself can’t list the reasoning behind writing them!!! If not anything else I think it will be fun reading each one of them 20 years down the line…:)

Last week I read an article, which gave me another extra reason to blog. The article explained the recent trend in MNCs who are recruiting people through their blogs…Companies like Honewell, Microsoft etc have their own blogs through which they advertise their company to recruit new hires…This actually will be most cost effective and it works both ways. It attracts both active and passive job seekers…The blog entries are not written by HR but by the employees (obviously screened by HR :)!!!) which actually gives you a very good picture of the companies current situation, practices and ethics, thus attracting the passive job seekers too…

It not only gives a human touch to the entire process but also promises the lotusland for people to switch even though they might be happy or settled in their current jobs…

These days the companies are looking for new and better ways for recruitment. They don’t mind deviating from the traditional methods. The day is not far behind when HR will soon start scooting for new hires by reading blogs written by others…It tells them how dexterous you are and may add to your profile. For all you know, it might become a pre-requisite for even applying to all those plum jobs around…So more the reason for people to start blogging for those who haven’t started already!!!:)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Customer is the king!!!

It doesn’t matter which part of Bangalore I am in, I always go to a shell petrol bunk!!! For me it’s a paradigm of efficient business management and customer service. It hardly matters that there are only couple of them in Bangalore, and that I may have to travel a few extra miles I still make it a point to fill petrol in a shell petrol bunk…Such customer loyalty!!! :)

It’s mainly because you always know you will be welcomed there with a smile. You just have to sit in the car, they will fill petrol, clean your windscreen, fill air, bring in the exact change etc…You are treated like a king. What more do you except as a customer…It’s an experience that makes you visit them again and again…

In contrast if we go to any other “normal” petrol bunk, you always find customers there totally frustrated…More often then not there will always be a fight going on…The experience there is pathetic with each of the boys there running a business of their own in duping the customer. You just have to turn around for a second and the filling would have started with an offset of Rs.50/100. They believe it’s their birthright to start from this offset instead of zero!!! It will be fatuous to say that these corporations are unaware of the importance of customer service but just that there is no will and determination in implementing the policies.

It makes so much of a difference when you are running a business. There is hardly any business where there is dearth of competition, so more the reason for the corporations to hold on to their existing customers and try acquiring new ones. The only way it can be done is through customer satisfaction. There is no replacement for a happy customer and if you make your customer happy then I am sure there is no need for a brand ambassador…Each of your customer will become a brand ambassador and there will be free propaganda through word of mouth, instead of spending millions of dollars on advertising!!! Just ask Google how effective this can be…They hardly spend a pie on advertising, but still they are the number one search engine in the world. All this was achieved by providing a quality product and making the customer happy…

It is not an arcane issue but just that people undermine its importance…

Friday, August 18, 2006

Are you a manager?

Are you a manager? If yes then this is something you might want to read. If not then you definitely have to read, to assimilate the idea and maybe comprehend on it as soon as you become one…So continue reading!!! :)

The other day I was having a conversation on management and managerial skills, and there were certain aspects, which made me, think about the significance of “geography” in management. The below theory may not be immaculate but certainly gives food for thought!!!

Just imagine you are the CEO of a company, what kind of policies do you want to implement to motivate your employees? What kind of salary structure, insurance, retirement benefits or for that matter even “JOB SECURITY” do you want to provide?

Do you think these policies will change depending on the location of your company? If you feel you have come up with the best policies and it really doesn’t matter where the company is located then think again!!!

Each one of are brought up under a certain environment…after some time the culture gets imbibed in us so much that it’s very difficult for us to change. YES “CULTURE” is a very important word here. If you look deep into it you might realize the prosperity or the demise of your company might actually depend on this!!!

Lets take the example of certain well-known economies before we come to the Indian context. If we consider US of A they always have had the “Hire and Fire” policy. It works well for the company. When the markets are good and its smooth sailing, they hire. As soon as the going gets tough or they hit upon rough weather, they fire. But the bottom line is the people there are brought up in a nuclear family environment and they get used to such insecurities and are tougher to face such situations. Actually the people there are more motivated to perform and show their strength when the environment has been set up like this. They feel more at home and hence it’s a win-win situation for the employer.

In contrast lets consider Japan.
A country where joint family / strong family ties have the highest prominence. These people are brought up in a more secured environment. If we use the “Hire and Fire” policy then it would be a complete disaster. So companies here go for lifetime employment. The employees are by default motivated to improve theirs and in turn the company’s performance. Thus the inherent nature of the Japanese people makes their company (and hence the policy) tick.

Now lets consider our great INDIA.

As far as our culture goes there is not much of a difference between the Japanese and us. But adapting their strategy would definitely result in our downfall. The performance of our public sector (PSUs) or any government owned organizations is enough proof of this fact. We Indians are by default torpid or lazy and that marks the difference between the Japanese and us resulting in the failure of their strategy on us. Neither can we adapt the US strategy because by nature we ascribe for “Job Security” and we are not adept enough to handle such high insecurities leading to performance degradation and eventually the demise of the company. The fact that more than 80% of Indians in US are said to be very insecure and unhappy (stat taken from a survey made by a well known magazine) about their jobs, proves this point.

So what’s the solution if you are heading a company where most of the employees are Indians? The best method for us is to traverse the middle ground i.e we should have a policy where the employment is almost guaranteed (unless you screw up very badly in the company) but the salary structure should be totally performance oriented. It should be such that say only 10% of your total income should be basic and the rest should be dependent on the company’s performance and your contribution to it. In this way the employees will be motivated enough to work, prevents them from being lethargic and provides some kind of protection too.

What I just talked about is a prima facie view of things but somehow I feel this suits our culture the best, with our “health” indirectly connected to the health of the company :).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Month That Flew Away….

Oh My GOD!!! It’s been more than a month since I wrote anything…I didn’t even realize how fast it went. There was no dearth of activities, they were just disparate. It was one of those satisfying couple of weeks where nothing went wrong (No make it almost nothing went wrong, considering the mishap that I had with my car ;)). I hope these salad days of my life will last forever…:)

A month full of parties, a bon voyage and how can I forget WORK!!!

Having so many friends in the same company makes you a good candidate for all the parties that are thrown. It started with a marriage party (@ Nandhana Grand, Koramangala) and ended with my buddy’s birthday party @ Pizza hut. I hadn’t eaten so much food any time…

We also had a team outing, for which we went to Amoeba (a bowling alley) and then to 3 Quarter Chinese (a restaurant just below the Amoeba). With work stacked for the next couple of weeks and deadlines to constantly push us for more in less time, the outing was something that I was not looking forward to. But it was something that couldn’t be eschewed and to be honest I had the most amazing time. We were four of us in one lane and we could finish 3 rounds in one hour. Never had so much fun with my mates. You can have hours of technical / non-technical discussions with your team but nothing comes anywhere near to such outings when it’s a question of team building. It brings the entire team together and we had the most amazing time trying to compete against each other.(If my manager is reading this, I hope he takes the hint ;)).

Another amazing thing that happened was the reunion with my college buddies. The very fact that we managed to achieve this should be worthy of applause, considering the number of earlier failed attempts. After about 35 mail exchanges we managed to hit upon a date, time and a place convenient for all of us. It would be an understatement if I say I enjoyed it. Even though my fingers were in pain bowling for the second consecutive day, it was something that I really enjoyed in the company of my college gang. All of us enjoyed it so much that we were already making plans for a one-day trip at the end of the day (which actually might take some years to materialize:)).

As I said for a change there were quite a few parties and another worthy of mention was the birthday party of my colleague and a friend. We went to Pizza Hut for lunch and had a very good time there. We had requested the Pizza Hut boys to sing the Birthday song for him and to my horror they made him stand up on a chair in the middle of the room and asked him to introduce himself to everybody. They later sang the good old birthday song with him standing on the chair all along. It was one of those embarrassing things that can happen on your birthday. But he took it so sportingly that all of had a good laugh over it.

It was also a month where I had to bid farewell to one of my best friend. Having known him for almost a decade now, it was a “senti” farewell. Went to the airport for sending him off. With his family also being there, everyone was trying to keep their emotions under control…

The last few weeks have been so hectic with so many things happening that I have lost track of most of them. Its been very hectic as far as work goes, but when you are enjoying what you are doing it can no longer be classified as “work” isn't it? :)…I just hope it lasts and there will be no paucity of such feelings..…

Monday, July 03, 2006

There can be only one final winner…

There is something in the sight of grown men crying that really moves me. It makes me feel really sorry for the crusaders who had given it 110% for their country, being sedulous in their approach but still end up on the loosing side in spite of matching shot for shot.

It was one of those football matches where both the teams were really good and since it was a knockout match there had to be only one winner. Watching it as a neutral was the best way to enjoy such a game!!!

When Germany took on Argentina, it was a must watch spectacle, promising to be a mouth watering context!!! And surely it did not disappoint anyone. It was 90 minutes of highly emotional rollercoaster ride for the home fans, which continued into extra time. The extra time proved to be another show of spectacular football with both the teams tied at one all. The only way to overcome the deadlock was a penalty shootout…

I pity the players, for having played 120 minutes giving all that they have got, but still end up in a lottery which can go either way. It is something, which is loved by the fans but detested by the players with the unlucky team shown the door.

Germany won 4-2 on penalties thanks to the good guessing work done by the German number one. Even though I hoped that the hosts won the context, I pity the Argentines because its one of the cruelest way to exit from the world cup. After loosing such a nail biter the players couldn’t control their emotions. Some of the Argentina players could be seen crying. These are men who are hardened by playing umpteen number of games for their country, but still they were rendered helpless.

Ultimately all that matters is for us to know that we have given it our best shot because there are things in this world for which reasoning cannot be applied.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The thoughts of a Jogger!!!

I recently read a bon mot, which said:
“You sometimes have to run to stay in the same position”.
I have caught on a new ludicrous habit. Waking up at 5.00 AM in the morning for jogging!!!

I call it crazy because until a few days back 5.00 AM was still midnight for me, but jogging at 6.00 AM would be like moving in a fish market with a bevy of people all around.

I hate it when people overtake me (which rarely happens! :)). But the other day there was this guy who sped past me and then maintained a constant distance. I wanted to overtake him without compromising on my speed and getting tired.

That’s when I realized how true the above remark was. In order to keep up with this guy I had to keep running but the relative position between us was the same!!!. Now if I didn’t want to increase my speed then the only other option was to wait. Exactly after about 5 rounds around the park this guy started loosing speed. Then it was a cakewalk.

This made me realize how this analogy can be applied to almost everything in this world. We start every task with full josh but as the days go on we tend to become indolent and slow down and that’s when others overtake us. The best possible virtues we can have are patience and persistence and go full throttle in the end!!!

PS: The sheer number of people, who flock the parks these days, shows that more and more people are getting health conscious. Though some tend to give more exercise to their mouth rather than their body :).

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Know when to quit!!!

Have you been in a situation where you know things might not work out in spite of you giving your best shot, but still you don’t want to give up? Where you keep on trying for that elusive thing which you thought you wanted / deserved?
I have been in such situations and its always painful because you really feel so strong about it that you want to try again and again!!! That’s why its important for us to learn when to give up!

“Try and try again, till you succeed” is an adage that we have heard a zillion times but its important for us to learn when to quit too…“Don't beat a dead horse” is an aphorism that supports my argument. This is more like a sequel to my previous post, which emphasized exactly the opposite of what I am trying to tell here…

For everything there is something called a threshold, a limit that one has to cross to give up on things that seem very important to us… So we continue till we cross that limit. This term “limit” is associated to a stage where we stop feeling bad about quitting or to a stage where we no longer care…You reach a point where the pain associated with the repeated failures is so high that it has to be alleviated and there is no other go. When and how we cross this limit depends on the situation and the people involved.
What is the use in going for something that gives you more pain than joy? We all live on hopes but that doesn’t mean we have to have unrealistic goals or goals that no longer are relevant or achievable…During the course of time it will become one of those nugatory issues.

When do we call it quits? We are the best judges for it. One fine day we just have to put an end to the introspection and carry on. Given a situation we are the ones who have to decide that enough is enough!!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Never ever give up…You don’t know what’s coming your way!!!

If you missed yesterdays stunning performance by Michael Schumacher in Ferrari at Monaco Grand prix, then you have lost the opportunity of seeing one of the most sedulous and inspiring performances from him. It was truly a checkered race for him.

Although he had secured the pole position on Saturday, he was stripped of his position and penalized for stalling other cars on the racing line during the critical last stages of the race during qualifying when others were trying the make the best use of last few minutes available for deciding the racing positions on Sunday.

I am not writing this to discuss whether Schumi did it deliberately or not. Neither am I interested in discussing whether the FIA junta was correct in punishing him by making him to start from the end of the grid even though he is perfectly capable of doing what he was accused of doing. Whatever it is I wanted to drive home the point as to why Ferrari are ready to pay millions of dollars extra in comparison to other drivers in F1 to make sure that he drives a Ferrari. Each of these manufactures spend millions of dollars to improve the speed of the car by 1/100th of a second year on year and there is this guy who can actually go half a second faster then the rest by his sheer determination and talent…. Don’t you think it’s a better investment?

The talent was in full display on Sunday when he had to start from the pit lane as the 22nd car on the grid but still managed to attain the fifth place. True that he got a lot of help from the safety car getting deployed when a car broke down on the track, but he was there to take advantage of this. If he hadn’t made 10 places during the course of time from 22nd to 12th he wouldn’t even be in a position to take the opportunity. Those who are familiar with the Monaco circuit will know how difficult it is to overtake there.

The race, which was virtually lost even before it actually started, was won on sheer determination and talent under circumstances where even a small error would have costed him dear.

The lesson to be learnt here is to never be torpid. Never to derogate from your aims and what you want from life even if the entire world is against you. The tables might turn anytime and you must be there to cash on it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kudos to all the Doctors of India for protesting against the arrant nonsense!!!

I always wondered how these terrorist organizations flourish!!!

I never thought I would go to an extent where I would feel so strongly against any policy or ideals. Initially when I had seen RDB (Rang de Basanthi) I thought the protests and the eventual killing of the minister in the film was just hilarious!!! I never thought at any stage I would even think, that such incidents were remotely possible…I presumed the entire thing was just a farce. But then, you always tend to change the way you perceive things…

I always wondered why people would want to fund organizations that tend to do more harm than good…Why people would want to waste their hard earned money on things that might eventually lead to a big zilch?

I Think I have just reached that stage!!! I feel so frustrated and disappointed at the way the government is bent upon bringing this quota system in all these premier institutions that I am now ready to even pay for all those protests!!!

Just imagine loosing out on a seat in an IIT / IIM to someone who belongs to the less privileged class/section of the society even though you had toped the rank lists and secured the highest…The pain is so much that it shows in the way the protests are being carried out all over the country…

I have to put in a word of praise here, for all the doctors who took the initiative of protesting against this ridiculous idea of reserving 50% seats in all the premier institutions…The very idea is bigoted and biased…

I understand that a huge percentage of population is underprivileged and will definitely need help. But bringing in more reservations is one of the worst solution. It will actually worsen the castism prevalent in the society, leading to more divisions…Further, increasing the number of seats to compensate for the quotas really doesn’t help if the colleges wont be able to maintain the ideal staff-student ratio. There are better methods of achieving this like providing better educational facilities during primary and secondary education or providing reservations in schools/colleges based on the income level etc…But they choose the easiest of all solutions which is also one of the best methods to gain votes and cover up all the wrongdoings that these politicians have done for the last 50 years!!!

It’s a shame that such chouse tactics are being used to succor the less privileged and raise the downtrodden. And we will be the ones who will feel the burnt of this!!!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Getting Drenched in RAIN…

Have you ever got drenched in rain??? I am sure you would have but very few of us would have actually loved it, the rest normally scoot for cover!!!

There are two ways of looking at rain: as a harbinger of excitement or a damn nuisance. If you are in the latter category then you are missing the romance in life!!! Do shun the loathsome abnegation for once. Go out, chill out and get drenched in rain without being shielded in any armor…

Have you ever enjoyed the bike ride when it’s raining? Try it once without whining about getting wet…It’s an experience that you will never forget. I sometimes sit reminiscing the bike ride I had during the Goa trip in spite of it raining cats and dogs. Its one of those amazing memories that I still cherish…

Either I haven’t grown up yet or I just want to disobey the doctrine that no mature person shall dally with the rain. But its better than staying indoors and sanctimoniously commenting on its utility value…Just go for a walk or go to the terrace when its raining and watch with awe and admiration as droplets of rain come and hit your face.

If you haven’t got drenched in rain then you are missing something. Its one of the most satisfying things…So the next time, RAIN GOD is on DUTY don't curse and scamper for cover. Say `wow' and jump for joy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

An odyssey to the land of 18000 temples…

It was night and I could feel the cool breeze hitting my face. I could see the stars and enjoy the fresh air as we drove into the forest. It was a real pleasure, which left an indelible mark. It was as if this place had been bestowed upon us to experience heaven on earth. It was like riding in a picture-postcard, which made me wonder whether it was all a dream. Only the occasional honking of the vehicles and the constant pestering of my parents to slow down, reminded me that it was all too real.

Generally we leave Bangalore at around 4 AM in the morning so that we can reach Mangalore by 11. This helps us to avoid the morning traffic at Bangalore and its easier to navigate through the Western Ghats during daytime. This part of Western Ghats is popularly known as Shiradi ghats with an average elevation of a couple of thousand feet. It stretches for about 100 KM from Shaklespur to Uppinangadi, which is about 80 KM from Mangalore. Shakleshpur itself is about 200KM from Bangalore. Unlike the roads in Bangalore these are really good. You can travel the entire stretch within 3hrs in spite of stopping a couple of times in between. Once you reach Shaklespur its pure heaven. The drops are pretty steep but the views are nothing short of being spectacular. You can always hear the birds chirping along with the sounds of the small streams flowing right beside the road.

Even though we had driven to Mangalore many times, it’s never been during the nights. But this time because of my father who got delayed due to a meeting we had to leave Bangalore at 4.00 in the afternoon. My dad wanted to drive and I was all too willing as I was not all that keen driving on the chaotic Bangalore roads. He drove for about 80KM, which took us about 2hrs because of the huge traffic jams on the NH. Our city was making sure of living up to its reputation. Once we touched NH48 I took over. With the AC on full blast I was driving at an average speed of 80Kmph with the maximum touching 130Kmph. The road from Bangalore to Hassan is one of the best and roads are as straight as it can get. Once we reached Shakleshpur I thought the best was over. We had dinner and then took to the road again. That’s when I realized the pure bliss of driving through the forests during nights. If you want to see the forest go by day but if you want to hear it then go by night. We rolled down our windows to let the forest air takeover our car. It was an amazing experience driving through the hairpin curves with the forest around us providing the excellent background music. It was midnight by the time we reached Udupi but with a ride like that I was in no mood to sleep.

When was the last time we actually saw stars in Bangalore?

The maximum that we can expect to see is the Orion belt, with a few other stars. I don’t think I even need my toe’s to count their number. The other day we went to a hillock very near to my village. The setting sun was effulgent as ever. It was getting dark and my cousin’s left for home. I stayed back for some more time. I lied down on the rock with my face staring at the sky. The last time I had done this was exactly about a month back when I had come to this place along with my good old friend. We had then spent about an hour and I was surprised to see the sheer number of stars that was above us. I was actually amazed to see a couple of shooting stars, which I thought, existed only in theory. I had a wish for each one of them:). It remains to be seen how many of them actually gets fulfilled :).

This time too it was an unforgettable experience even though there were no shooting stars. The celestial view was just amazing. It made me feel so small and tiny. It was an ideal place for introspection. The only thing I could have asked more was some company to share this celestial spectacle. It was so good, only the fear of sitting alone on a rock in complete darkness compelled me to return back. The entire experience was something that you wont get in Bangalore even if you are ready to pay millions.

Monday, April 24, 2006

FRIENDS- Part-1: An Asset!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.- Tennessee Williams

Coming from a family that was constantly on the move (somehow that sounds really funny…Just to clarify my dad had a transferable job!!!) making friends had become a habit… I have actually lost count on the number of schools I had changed during my schooling days. I adore my friends. Right from the day I can remember I have had a bevy of them.

There has never been dearth of friends and I think I should thank God for that!!! Some of my best moments have been with them and also some of the lessons that I have learnt have been in association with them. You can tell them things that otherwise would have been buried in your heart.

I have a friend with whom I can converse / argue for hours together on any bizarre topic under the sun and we do it with so much vim. I really enjoy it (I hope its vice versa too:)). This friend of mine is someone who thinks I am a good egg even though he knows I am slightly cracked :)…That’s what I think is a characteristic of a great friend.

The only way to have friends is to be one and then you will realize that they are a creed of people who are laudable because they are always there to provide you with that lambent light during adversity.

Enjoy with your Buddies!!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why do I keep doing this???

I actually wanted to write something else but an incident that occurred yesterday preempted my thoughts.

There are things in this world that you may not achieve irrespective of how hard you try…like talking more carefully or reaching out to only those people who actually respond / care enough to talk to you.

Yesterday’s incident was a result of failure to achieve one such habit. I try to think before I talk, so that I don’t offend others but this is something that has eluded me for quite sometime. Inadvertently I say that extra word or a sentence, which will annihilate the relationship. Nowadays I do not even spare e-mails.

A few days back I had received an e-mail and as usual I replied back with a few jokes and smileys to add humor to the content. This I thought would bring a few smiles on their (readers) faces and brighten up their day, but maybe I sometimes overdo it.

Yesterday I had a perfect Wednesday until late in the night I received a call from the recipient of the e-mail accusing me of writing something that I couldn’t even comprehend. The only thing I realized was that they were greatly offended by my “joke”. I was appalled and addled by their reaction. Even after the entire conversation I still did not get what was the cause for all the commotion. As far as I was concerned it was just yet another simple joke.

Now Who Is To Blame?

Definitely not them because they are perfectly entitled to their interpretation!!! So does that mean I am the culprit? Somehow I can’t agree to that too, as I was perfectly innocent and did not intend any harm…These things happen even during normal conversations. If you tell people what you really think they get hurt and stop conversing with you instead of feeling happy about having a friend who actually speaks his heart out.

So What’s The Solution?

The best method maybe is to just keep quiet and not get into any such mess. Each time I try implementing this I miserably fail. Further I honestly feel it’s a retrograde step, which actually removes the spice out of life.

So the apposite solution would be to make an effort to “think everything you say” but that’s easier said than done especially for me…and hence the spice, excitement, the pain and the frustration will continue as long as I continue my asinine remarks….

Monday, April 17, 2006

My New Year Resolutions

“No Habit can be removed but only be replaced”
“Anything done continuously for 22 days will become a habit or a routine”- Robin Sharma in “ The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”.

I think everybody knows what “New Year Resolution” means but I am sure half of them wont know how far it dates back!!! I was actually one of them till I started writing this… So for those of my friends who have absolutely no background on them here is a small write-up, before I go into my New Year Resolutions!!!

The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.
With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn't begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.

That’s enough of History…Let me jump straight into my resolutions..Year after year I have been making New Year resolutions…the list usually used to be endless…But this year I wanted it to be different. So I took almost 20 days to come up with the 3 most important things that had to be done immediately and the goal was to complete them as soon as possible. All the 3 were the most difficult things that I had postponed for quite sometime. I have tried writing about each one of them, sorry for being very cryptic but I still have not reached a stage where I can pour all my feelings on the blog!!

I am sure all of us would have experienced situations where you exactly know what needs to be done but you don’t do it for fear of failure…This was exactly the case with me…It was one of the most important decision that I took as part of my first resolution. It was something that was eating my head so much that it resulted in a lot of disappointments and sleepless nights. Even though it was a huge risk that I was taking it had to be done, irrespective of whether it goes well or not. It was done within the next 10 days (6th of Feb to be exact) of making the decision but don’t ask me the result or what was it. Maybe sometime in future I will be writing a full story about it…

Anyway I was at least happy to have completed the first one. The next one was something that would take at least 10 months to complete. The important thing was I kick started it immediately. Felt really good, but somehow lately I have become lazier and motivation has started to fade. But its still on and am happy to say that my second resolution is still on…

Third…Hmmm…This is a resolution that lasts for a lifetime. It’s a struggle / battle everyday. As usual with full josh I started it, a lot of things in-between has resulted in its derailment. But to be honest the reasons for its derailment was not in my hands. Anyway after almost a month break I have started it again.

The only thing that matters at the end of the day is our happiness & that’s what I want to achieve with these resolutions. I am sure by next year I will be able to write about each one of them in detail as they would have been obsolete by then (except for maybe the first one)….
But the bottomline is for the first time i have actually completed all my resolutions within the first cople of months & thats what i call an ACHIEVEMENT...Hip Hip Hurray

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Great Leveling

The rise of India and China and demise of America is well- trodden literary territory. But the focus of Thomas Friedman’s “The world is flat” is along different lines…This book is not about what “will happen” but its about “what is happening”. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you're going to be trampled if you don't keep up with it. This is “THE” book, if you’re a Bangalorian (and for that matter an Indian) and are looking for some ego boostJ.
He talks about everything that has made globalization possible, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the explosion of the internet to the dot com bubble and bust and outsourcing of jobs to India and China, globalization has evened the playing field for many emerging economies.

He talks about 10 different events / factors that has made the world flat and its well researched. It will give a very good understanding on how we have benefited from all of them. It gives an insight on how we have been able to generate a lot of jobs right from research (high end) to call centre jobs (low end)…But this article is not about this book but my thoughts on the subject…

These are a few questions we should be asking ourselves…

Is this what we want?
Is the society improving as a whole?
And does it really help in the long run? If not how do we adapt?

There is no answer to the first question but I feel we have got more than what we have lost!! Here are some pointers…
Isn’t it better to have a job even before we graduate?
Isn’t it better to be well paid for the work that we do instead of being hardly paid for the same amount of work?
Doesn’t it feel good to spend and save simultaneously at such an early age?
Isn’t it better to try some of the opportunities available, learn from it and decide the course of your future rather than spend the prime time of your career in searching and then stabilizing in a job?
But India's Y2K windfall could be read just as easily as a sign of dependence, of reliance on tasks that American workers no longer want. Friedman rightly notes that "low-wage, low-prestige jobs in America . . . become high-wage, high-prestige jobs" when outsourced to India. But in an era where, both pride and humiliation get served up to you via fiber-optic cable, it's not at all clear we'll like the long-term geopolitical consequences of having emerging powers reliant on scraps from the American economic table.
But the whole point is that we are better paid and are well off for the work that we are doing…
As far as health and other personnel factors are concerned we cant have the best of both the worlds so the onus is upon us to develop a strategy to balance out both the worlds (work & personnel). This is anyway easier said then done… But I think we will eventually get there…

Don’t u think the society as a whole has improved?.
Just imagine what the current youth (35% of Indian population) would have done if the Indian economy hadn’t opened during the nineties…. We might have become another Pakistan for all u knowJ In spite of these new opportunities we see that the unemployment rate is still high, so we can as well imagine how it would have been without the outsourced jobs…
The overall economy is booming, the GDP has improved and the spending capabilities have definitely increased. All these factors have made us one of the most preferred destinations.

Is the honeymoon going to last?
The term “honeymoon” itself, indicates that it’s not something that might lastJJ
The advantages that we currently have are
1.Low wages
2.Low cost centre
3.Talent and HR.

Except for the third one the first two are temporary…our wages are approximately one fourth of US wages. But during every appraisal we are nearing their wages. Its been forecasted that in another 7 years time we will be almost half their wages and in 13 years time there will no such advantages.

We are already losing out on the low cost advantage. A sq foot of office space in Bangalore currently costs $20 but in Massachusetts (supposed to be one of the prime hubs) its about $16. So as soon as we catch up on their salaries we will loose the first two advantages to other low cost centers like China, Vietnam, Brazil and even Russia.

End of honeymoon doesn’t mean the end of Marriage…Now comes the time of consolidationJ
We still have the third advantage and that’s our “talent”
We can’t prevent companies from shifting to other low cost centers, which will eventually happen in another decade. But the advantage we have is we still have time on our hands…we have to improve on our knowledge base. As Indians we are born with the talent of multitasking and survival is in our blood. The Indians in US have always survived the Layoffs and that should inspire us.
The major threat will be for the low-end jobs. Most of our youth join the call centers as a stopgap solution until they decide what to do with their lives, but with the easy money flowing in and laziness creeping in it eventually becomes permanent. The problem is in due course there will always be resources in other countries who will be ready to work at lower costs. But if we don’t have the desired skills to survive, then by the time the realization starts to sink in it will be too late.
We have to work hard and diversify so that our children are not in the same state as the Americans are currently in. Having said this it doesn’t mean America is loosing out, the American economy is highly benefited from the entire process and if their economy doesn’t do well then the entire world market will be affected. But their problem is that they are loosing out on all the jobs that can be outsourced which eventually will happen to India too.

Thus we must start building expertise in areas, which cannot be that easily outsourced. We must become an economy that the world cannot neglect and we must start tapping our own consumer base. The Indian population (and the percentage of youth) is only going to increase and so will their spending capabilities and hence the market will only improve. But it’s upon us to constantly improve our skills and broaden our horizon.
We are seeing a kind of growth that we didn’t even dream off a few years back. Now it’s our responsibility to at least sustain this growth by constantly innovating.