Monday, September 29, 2008

Life goes on...

It’s been a while since my last post and when I look back I see quite a lot has happened that warrant a mention. So here it goes in no particular order:

1. Got a forward from a colleague and being a real sign of the times, many people in USA woke up to another bank that ceased to exist. Wall Street is the new Fall Street and all those who once envied its lofty heights are rubbing their hands in glee at the depths it has reached. Brings and old Red Indian saying to mind, “What goes up, must come down”. What is indeed sobering is that this is not an isolated case and many top shot companies may cease to exist if they don’t correct their courses…

2.Saw an absolutely gripping F1 race yesterday. The Singapore experiment seemed to be a big success and a big part was the absence of rain. Also it showed how team work can work wonders. We had Nelson Piquet Jr. crashing into the wall and handed the victory though not on a platter but somewhat closer to his team mate Alonso. With all due credit to Alonso and his superb driving the accident changed the course of the race. The other notable team was Kimi who did not want to climb the podium without his team mate Felippe (who should have been legitimately on top had the pit crew not been trigger happy with the go signal when the fuel pump was stuck to the car. What followed was funny to all who saw except the Ferrari crew and poor Felippe who drove so beautifully till then) crashed into the wall ending a sorry race for the team.

3. In a strange coincidence the India Post has got a make over the day after I chose to write about the post box. I’m told the old logo was designed in consultation with IIT Mumbai but it looked as staid as the company itself. O&M has given a new image that is stylish and quite eye catching. Hope that translates to better service to the clients. Incidentally I hear that the recently renovated, refurbished Annanagar post office is air conditioned and looks swanky like a bank. Must visit it sometime and probably pay utility bills (they do that too!) I guess.

4. More attacks on Christians and churches by some fanatics. These fanatics are fighting against forced conversion and what do they do? Burn, kill, maim those who convert and bully the others to reconvert to their original faith. I guess re-conversion by force is fine because it is backed by the rulers. It is a real shame that faith which is so personal to every individual is being used a political tool and is a rallying ground for thugs, goons and scum of society. The same fanatics who see God in stone and afterwards trample on the same stone and stoning churches, irony cannot get any worse. History tells us that the blood of martyrs were the seeds of the church. The days ahead will prove or disprove this.

5.And to sign off, I worked this Saturday. As you may guess I was not very happy about it, but the bright side is this week where I have so many holidays to look forward to.

Happy Gandhi Jayanthi

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saar Post!!!!!

The other day I saw a post box. Now, there was nothing remarkable about that post box to warrant a second glance but I couldn't help myself. I looked back and thought when was the last time I actually posted a letter.

I guess it must have been in Pondicherry when I was doing my MBA. Back then we were so cut off from communication that the post box was the best friend for poor students like me. In those days mobile phones were a luxury I could only dream off and only the cream of the lot had one. I remember vividly my classmate and good friend Jonah sitting on the terrace of our hostel trying to catch a clear signal so that he can talk to his folks living in Uganda. The others like me had the option of walking two kilometers to the nearest phone booth and if that was closed hike, take a bus, cycle or whatever means possible to get to the nearest PCO (remember those?) 3-4 kms away from the campus. Every incoming call to the hostel was an event in itself.

But since this post is about the post box I will come back to my writing days. I remember having a few pen friends (you are forgiven if you have never heard of the concept) to whom I would diligently write and share the happenings of life. It was a great time when the arrival of a letter meant a lot of expectations and joy. We shared our joys, sorrows by snail mail but somehow we still connected. I have lost touch with my pen friends sadly and it is mainly because I have lost my writing skills even as I furiously type on the keyboard.

Life was so simple and so uncomplicated back then. Every letter not just had meaning they also had feelings and they were so intensely personal never mind my handwriting that veered from gloriously legible to something that resembled an ECG report. But it was my letter and it had a part of my personality in it.

When I look back on those days the absence of modern communication tools like the cell phone and the internet managed to bring people closer while today we seem to have drifted further apart. Communication today is so impersonal and cold that it lacks the warmth of old no matter how attractive or comfortable it may be. No e-card can do what the good old greeting cards can, I miss those long hours browsing for cards for every memorable occasion and collecting cards received from loved ones was a pleasurable hobby in itself. Likewise special letters were treasured and retained till the termites felt hungry.

Today in the social networking world I have so many "friends" in various networks, some of whom I have never met in real, some of whom  like me in the virtual world but do not even acknowledge my person in real life. And email the invention that killed letters have also disappeared. Nobody writes an email to ask me how I am doing, they ping me, text me, scrap me, call me, voice chat me. I have an email box which is full of mailers, promotions and so much more but no connect if you can understand what I mean.

As I left that place I realized that we have changed but the postbox is still there and will still be there for those who still really care.

The more we try to connect virtually the more we get disconnected...

PS: The postbox image was downloaded from the net and is not the box I saw.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Generation Gap

The theme of the call-in show was “Generation gap – does it exist today?”

I thought of calling in and giving my point of view but sadly I was too late. Anyway debating the topic in my mind I came upon this insight that I thought I will share it with you so.

I believe that the most important responsibility for parents apart from bringing up children, providing for them etc is instilling values in the children. Value systems are the building blocks to character which is probably the best heirloom that children can inherit from their parents.

So there will be a generation gap if value transfer stops. But it is very fashionable to take trivial things as the basis for generation gap as it exists today. What people take to be a generation gap is often the different metrics people use for the same values. Values are fundamental but I think everyone can have his or her own metric to measure the values. My parents instilled values in me but I can see before my eyes how they measure the same values are sometimes different from mine and of course the eventual tensions accompany them. I know that my kids will raise hell when the same comes to them, but I know the challenge is to ensure that the difference lies only in the metrics and not the values.

Recently I had gone on a social visit to an uncle from the in-laws side. By default I wished him an informal hello after all he is family, but the old man took offence as I wasn’t as civil as I should be. He complained to my in-laws and you know what happened next. Clearly a difference in metrics and not values.

I have no problem with the difference in metrics at all; change is the only constant in life so how can I expect my kids to be like me or I like my folks. If every one did the same things the world will be a boring place to live in. I hope that when a day comes that I face the same question of a generation gap from my kids I will be able to rise above my fickle emotions and check whether it is a generation gap or just a measurement gap.

Thanks to Cartoon Stock for making life so much fun.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Random thoughts again

It’s been two whole weeks since I last blogged. It’s been even longer since I received a visitor or even a comment on my page. Maybe my writing standards have dropped or maybe others have improved while I have stagnated.

I think it is time to start blogging again, because in my blog I can be just me. I do not have to be politically correct nor must I try to balance the feelings, sensibilities, responses, expectations of those around me. At some point of time being selfless is self defeating in itself. Of late life in isolation does not seem to be a bad thing after all at least in good doses.

I have realized that often the best solutions to problems come when one detaches himself from the problem and analyses it rationally. But either I am too emotionally attached or I just cannot seem to be rational. Rationalism by itself can be so cruel.

If failures are the stepping stone to success, I guess I’m ascending a very long staircase. Why do we climb such high staircases when we know that we have to come down eventually? Why is ground level not good enough when 99.99% are more likely to be there?

Advice is so sweet when you hand it out but very unpalatable when it is dished out to you. Yet everyone is qualified to hand out advice solicited or not. At least my industry of insurance is subject to solicitation.

There is no such thing as an accident, this line was repeated a few times in the Kungfu Panda movie and it was not an accident either. But somehow I contrive to end up in an incident that was not planned by me. I busted the right wheel and tyre of my Wagon R on a small rock and even after two days am not able to recollect how it happened. One sleepless night and numerous mind storming sessions later I have decided to defer my biggest purchase decision of a flat. I had written about getting my own “castle” and the challenges it posed. Never in my wildest imaginations did a battered wheel and tyre figure as a possibility. Maybe I am senti-“mental” but I have discussed this problem earlier, so it is not an accident.

Too much of good is bad, I had given this unsolicited advice (yes, I don’t practice what I preach too) to a friend who somehow entangled himself into so many additional commitments that at one point he struggled to stay afloat. What was worse is the way he chose to get himself out by simply running away without notice. Wish I could do that too, but it takes only a second to come back to reality.

Today is a holiday for state government institutions and those organizations that choose to accept the request from the CM, but I work in one of the many that chose the other way so I will sign off and get back to work.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


The inevitable happened yesterday. I’m talking about the fire that ravaged a part of one of the many death traps in Chennai. This trap which goes under the named of Saravana stores like many others of its ilk are grotesquely ugly multi-storied buildings that are built with scant respect for the laws and rules of the land. These buildings have neither fire and other disaster safety mechanisms nor simple things like a fire exit or even worse windows.

The damage from this fire is estimated at 1.5 crores, peanuts when you view in perspective of the business done annually. What is disturbing is that money power has tied down the legal and government machinery here. Unlike Delhi where on the strength of the Supreme Court verdict, mass demolitions of unauthorized constructions went on till politics intervened.

Sadly nothing will change, despite this accident and all the hue and cry it raised. Why? Simple, nobody died. Down the ages someone had to die for others for any good to come about. It started with a cross and it goes on today. Only when a death occurs will some knee jerk reaction happen for the guardians of public safety when regulation could have nipped such incidents in the bud.

The question is how many more must die?

Monday, September 01, 2008

It happened one Sunday

Two things happened yesterday that will stay in my mind for some time.

First: I was on my way to the part time MBA class (I was going to teach) I had to cross the railway gate at Tambaram Sanatorium. Like many other crossings on that line this one also will be shut for long periods. Anyway when I saw the drop gate closed I pulled up my bike and started to wait. As usual there were so many who ducked beneath the gate and went across the tracks on foot or on two wheelers, many often chatting on their cell phones. Parents’ handholding their kids and showing them how to cross train tracks added to the absurdity of it all. In some time there were a few other motorists who pulled up alongside and waited for the gate to open. I was happy to see that in the midst of all this law breaking madness there were still a few who believed in self discipline. Suddenly a delinquent sporting a big moustache tried to muscle his way through and started screaming at all for blocking the way. The bike rider next to me asked him to shut up as he was breaking the rules and he had no right to scream at others trying to follow rules. He became incredulous and screamed what rules was he breaking and we were all mad. I lost my cool and told him to get lost with his mouth shut with the most civil words I could muster. This angered him further and he started hurling abuses from the middle of the train tracks. I was reminded of street dogs that bark a lot but only from a distance. I had half a mind to roll up my sleeves and throw a punch on his ugly mug just to make a point. But I would have to still cross the closed gate which was the cause of conflict; I decided to hold my peace. Some of the other law breakers tried to tell us that it was normal practice and we should allow it to happen since we were new comers. If waiting was a problem then they could have taken the detour across the bridge a couple of kms away, but when there is a short cut, people will take it, no matter the costs. My neighbour wondered how law breaking idiots can afford to get angry even as the gate opened and we parted.

Second: The concert which many of you missed despite my invitation was a success several counts.
One: It gave the captive audience good live music that is so difficult to get nowadays and that too for free for nearly two hours.
Two: It succeeded as a benefit concert when we handed over 3.9 Lakh rupees to the Friends for the Need with a promise that we may increase it a little more as more donations were expected. The overwhelming generosity of so many benefactors warmed my heart for the second time that day. It feels good to know that there are still good people around.
Three: It was a nearly full house and considering that most of the publicity was low key, spoke volumes for the popularity of our choir among music lovers.
Four: We did a reasonably good job from the feedback of the audience, so all the hard work did not go in vain.
Five: This is personal to me, for though I missed many practices and some how got through the concert, I finally realized my role in the choir and that I was needed there.