Thursday, November 28, 2013

Excuse me, is this a good time?

Do you know the time of your birth? Do you know if the time you were born was auspicious? If it was not, do you do you regret it?

You skipped your meal because you were busy with work and by the time you decide to eat you notice that it is not the auspicious hour of the day. Do you starve?

The doctor schedules a life- saving procedure on a loved one at a time when the calendar says is unsuitable. Do you reschedule?

The job interview is in the middle of the inauspicious time of the day. Do you give it a miss?

Do you breathe any less or any more during the “auspicious” or “inauspicious” parts of the day?

Do you live different during the day despite the ebbs and flows of the good and “bad” times?

If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, I would like to know the reason why.  Time is the most expensive and perishable commodity in the world and why must people set apart time into good and bad? People these days cutting across faiths are checking the almanac when they start something big or new. I remember in my first job waiting for the clock to strike the hour before the client will sign the loan document and the cheque leaves. I am still asked to schedule meetings at times that are suitable for the client and since the customer is always right, I accept.

I do not know the reason for good time and better time; I will not call time bad as there is no such thing as bad time. The absence of good cannot simply become bad and the same time works differently for different people. The moment for one which is good or better has already passed for someone else  in another part of the world and is yet to come for yet another in another part of the world.

The best laid plans can fail and so it is with those who choose the most appropriate time for a wedding. After matching the horrorscopes (intentional) and deciding the time which is suitable for a life of marital bliss you find weddings falling apart. Surprisingly time is seldom blamed because frankly you can’t blame it can you? How many people have asked for a refund from the friendly astrologer who gave the opportune time?

I am not against traditions and ancient wisdom which have brought  about many sound practices which have since given way to routine and emerged as rituals or superstitions. All I would suggest is that time is precious and living the moment is essential for the next moment is not in our hands. The almanac is an indicator of a better time but it is not the only time.

As the great master Oogway said…

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What's that you are wearing?

One thing that has never failed to amuse me is a blue tooth headset or ear piece if you prefer for mobile phones. This humble gadget has moved on from a simple communication accessory to a fashion accessory. You see men (usually) pairing it with anything and everything; anytime and every time. Not sure any other accessory has been so cool. Though you see people more likely to be using and wandering around animatedly conversing with the use of the ugly wires crisscrossing them the wire free version has its own set of admirers.

These admirers love their ear pieces so much and attach so much value to it, they can be seldom seen without it, be it the theatre or the church.  As I had posted earlier about mobile etiquette or the lack of it in a great number of mobile users this combination of etiquette less user with a blue tooth head set can lead to some unpleasant instances. For instance in a hospital when someone promptly starts talking loudly apparently to himself before puzzled bystanders who fail to notice the tiny gadget under the long locks of hair. This can be very worrying if the conversation becomes an argument and abuses flow.

The headset everywhere types also wander everywhere with a head set clipped on making me wonder if it is the fear of losing the earpiece. Remember Santanam aka Kaatupoochi in the Siruthai movie? It looks very funny actually if you ignore the utility of it all. I mean seriously, do you keep the mobile phone on your ear even after the call is over or the headphones on the head after the song is over? You do? Then this post ends here for you. Thank you and Goodbye. If you are still reading I would like to believe you are among those who hangs up after the call and keeps the device away unless you are in the car. (Talking using headphones while driving IS a crime).

So is it wrong to not take off the ear piece? I don’t know. Do you?

Is it worth writing a post about? I suppose so and I guess you will agree too since you have come so far.

You have a different point of view? Please leave a comment; I would love to hear it too.

 Image courtesy Cartoon Stock

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

God save the Queen(s)...

The security detail provided to some people who fall under various categories seems to be a cruel joke. A joke because the public are subjected to great hardships while the public servant is protected from potential threats which history would tell you never happened. It is simply incomprehensible that so much on man, machinery and time is spent on safeguarding one person without realistically assessing the risk that is attributed to this person.

I have been one of many who have groaned, fumed and vented ire on a Very Very Important Person rushing around in a huge convoy of vehicles while Very Very ordinary persons like me are barricaded away or forced to make detours. It is even more disheartening to know that I have contributed to this gross waste of public money by paying my taxes on time. After all death is inevitable for all, what is the point of denying this?

I do not have statistics but the number of VVIP dying from external causes read it as terrorist attack or assassinations should be countable on one’s fingers. Again you face the question is it worth it? I have a belief that this security has gone beyond its utilitarian value and has moved to become the perks of the position or even worse an expensive ego massage. I have observed that trained security men usually from the specialist services being reduced to orderlies running errands usually unobtrusively for those whom they guard. I vividly remember one horrifying instance when the shoes of one leader were wiped by an officer in the full media glare.

This cruel joke on the paying public gets exacerbated further when the security is extended to the family also, so you have bear the sight of thugs, goons and worse who are part of the family walking smugly behind those who were originally trained to lock them up. There are times when the extended families are protected, extended when leaders have multiple wives and multiplying offspring so much so that family gatherings become one big party.
All this security can protect these people from external threats but they eventually succumb to the threat from within or nature. Will Z category stop a myocardial infraction or a helicopter crash?

I saw a VVIP who looked visibly very sick despite all the airbrushed images on the hoardings around. Ideally the protection should be for the disease that seems to have crept in despite all the security. 

As I said the joke IS on us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Education makes a man. Really????

This post was in the back of my mind ever since I left the Centenary Hall of Madras University last Friday evening. The occasion was the 34th convocation of Anna University and the chief guest was the CM.  The visit of the chief guest ensured that the security detail was a nightmare but this post is not entirely about that nightmare but something that made me think long and hard.

There were 600 graduands (learnt this there) awaiting their degree that conferred the title of Doctor of Philosophy on them. The better half was one in that 600 and the only reason I ventured into the hall.  A Ph D is the culmination of a long period of study that not many take up for various reasons but the minimum time should be around twelve years of schooling, three years of undergraduate followed by two years of post-graduate study which will lead to five or so years of research before one becomes a doctor. So it is one long and usually rigorous process.

You would expect that education will make you a better person, after all ever one wants to become educated causing good schools and colleges to turn away prospective students for want of capacity. Education may give a person many things, the foremost being a career and in the search for a job it appears that either the students are distilling and imbibing only that which is useful to land a job or the institutions are providing only the diluted content and ignoring that they should turn out a well-rounded individual.

If I sound incoherent, it is because the appalling behaviour that was exhibited by some of these “doctors-in waiting” at the convocation made me cringe. Rank indiscipline, lack of basic courtesy, and complete lack of decorum at a time when people are taking time off to honour them for their academic efforts made me wonder if it is worth the effort. Despite repeated pleas by a professor on the mike to take their seats, these graduands in their robes ignored the requests and continued walking around the hall looking for their family members to show the degree that will be given to them after the rehearsal. Nothing worked for these idiots, public requests on the mike or instructions by the volunteers, made me wonder if mature adults need this kind of spoon feeding.

Then after the event the mad rush for the snacks and the photographs, pushing and shoving their way through not caring whether a man or child was in their way. Some of them after eating dump the boxes outside the garbage bins placed there. If this was not enough the Vice Chancellor seemed to struggle to read the speech that unfortunately for him was printed and given to everyone. Cringing at the mistakes and feeling bad that this may reflect on the state of the esteemed university left me worried. I do not have a problem if someone has a challenge with the English language, I feel bad that not enough time was given to rehearse the speech to remove challenges.

The silver lining to the dark cloud was the speech by the Chief Minister. I am not a fan but I grudgingly must accept that the speech was good. The speech may be written by a spin doctor from the back room but it requires skill to deliver it well and here the schooling shone out. A distinguished alumnus of the Sacred Heart Matriculation, she used big words which though very suitable and appropriate have layman’s synonyms.

Maybe the idiots I wrote about earlier did not have good schooling or maybe they never paid attention to what was taught or maybe they were not taught the finer things in life or maybe they do not care that decency is a by-product of education, or maybe they are simply not aware, some people are no better that those education passed by.

Schooling starts at home, maybe they had good teachers but maybe their parents were not good enough.

And that folks is an unexpected post number 100 for this year. I was stuck at the nineties especially on 99 for some time suffering an acute writer’s block which coupled with the early start to the Christmas season has kept me away.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Can you spare a minute?

Three accidents on the highways involving Volvo buses and the resulting deaths have left me very worried. These buses are great for travel and ensure comfortable journeys especially when tickets on trains are not available but they are also veritable death traps as each of these accidents indicate. At the cost of sounding extremely monotonous I use the lines of master Oogway “there are no accidents”, these incidents are caused by driver error.

When we fly on any airline the crew painstakingly go through the safety procedures and the emergency evacuation process while showing the nearest exists to the passengers. Usually many travellers ignore these demonstrations for various reasons which are an indicator of the indifference of our times. These safety measures are not explained in buses and this I would believe was the difference between people surviving and dying a fiery death.

Volvo buses are usually air-conditioned and the engine is at the rear. The fuel tank I believe is in the centre of the bus. These buses have a very high fire risk because of the way they are designed and the amount of inflammable materials inside the bus including the dirty curtains. Every bus has one narrow exit at the front of the bus, with a separate door for the driver. If you follow the news closely the driver usually escapes the fire because the door is close at hand. Many people died because they could not come out of the sealed tubes.  Therefore knowledge of the doors can save lives and so if you are planning to travel by Volvo or for that matter any other air conditioned buses read on.

Every bus for public transport is mandated to have emergency exits and if you observe the buses closely from inside or outside you will be able to locate the exit closest to you. Usually these exits are closer to the rear end of the bus and are on both sides. In addition most buses have a sky light or a door on the roof that can be opened from inside with little effort. Coming back to the emergency exits a quick glance will tell you if they can be opened without assistance or they need to be broken. At this moment you will realize that the cute little hammers are not fashion accessories. If they are missing, asking the bus operator to provide one is worth the effort and not embarrassing at all.

So to sum up a few tips for regular travelers:

  • Look for seats closer to the exit, after a few trips you will know the seat numbers that come closer to the main / emergency exits
  • Examine the exits and check if they can be opened quickly when required
  • If the driver is driving rashly gather up the courage to talk to him, if required rally the support of other passengers because it can be life saving
  • Lastly when you fly pay attention to the flight crew, they are trying hard to save your lives, when it becomes a habit you will start making small steps to make your road trips safer too.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I have to save my ass

There was a man who had an ass. If you are wondering what is the big deal with a man having an ass?

The donkey was advancing in age. Now stop smiling and read on.

Now the man used his ass to carry him to the market to sell firewood, as he was a good man he realized that his ass would not be able to carry much weight so when he rode the ass he kept his bundle of firewood on his head. PAUSE and hold that thought.

CUT to another man, he was also a good man and since he did not have an ass, his donkey was replaced by his trusty two-wheeler. Now he did not sell fire wood but he worked on computers so he carried his tool of his trade, his laptop with him to his work place every day in his laptop bag and since his two wheeler was weak he carried it on his back. RESUME.

Actually hold that thought again, some of you may take offense that there are only good men around so there was a good lady who also had an ass that went by the cute name of “Scooty” and she carried some things to her work place every day and being a good lady kept all these things in a large bag and slung it on one shoulder. RESUME.

Everyone lived happily ever after.


Epilogue: The good man was found in the waiting room of the best orthopaedic   

P.S. The story behind the title

Princess Fiona: Where are you going? The exit's over there!
Shrek: [going to save Donkey] Well, I have to save my ass.
Princess Fiona: [shocked] What kind of knight ARE you?
Shrek: One of a kind.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Deepavali for some

Another Deepavali post about two groups of people who always leave me with mixed emotions.

The first group of people are those for whom Deepavali or for that matter any other festival is just another day at work because their job does not permit them a holiday. Look around you the driver who takes you to your home town, the milk man who delivers milk rain or shine every day, the policeman who directs traffic and also keeps the city safe, the corporation sanitation teams who work to clean up the mess we leave behind, the list goes on.

I happened to use the Deepavali holiday to complete the shopping for the month and we were fortunate to find one departmental store open where we completed our purchases. I noticed that the staff were dressed very nicely on that day and wished every shopper who came into the store. I asked the girl at the billing section if they had an early closing for the festival and why they were working on the day, she replied very sadly that they have one weekly off and this day was not counted as a holiday. My Deepavali wishes to her sounded hollow as she replied with a sad smile.

The second group of people are those who migrated from the North of the country and have made Chennai home and consequently they end up celebrating the festival a day later. These people tend to work on Deepavali day as they believe that the Goddess of wealth will visit them on the day and so they keep their workplaces open. Since many of them are into retail / wholesale they tend to keep their shops open and work hard when the rest of the city celebrates.

After the work is over, they come home and then start the celebrations. They then start to set off the loudest crackers late in the night when the rest of the city calls it a day. They do not care that the cut off is 10 pm for the loud crackers, they do not care that by celebrating late in the night with loud explosions they not only disturb the peace but are a public nuisance especially to the aged and the invalids. I do not think they will spare a thought for pets considering that they do not care for their fellow beings.

A few years back out of sheer frustration from the noise and my inability to sleep ahead of the next working day I had to threaten one family with a bucket of water in hand that I will rain on their parade. After a heated argument they kept the “bombs” aside and set off the sparklers and other displays.

This year even as I type I shudder when I hear some loud bangs go off nearby nearly an hour after the cut off. 

Wonder if I should take a bucket again...

A Deepavali post...Azhaguraja review.

Happy Deepavali to everyone!  May the festival of lights spread love, joy, peace & prosperity in your lives.

One experience that repeats itself every Deepavali is when you try to light a flower pot or an atom bomb gingerly, very gingerly and as you move away seeing the sputtering flame you wait eagerly for the fountain of sparks or a loud bank but then you get a fizzle, also called as a “boossu”.  Azhaguraja the Deepavali release starring Karthi with Santhanam and directed by Rajesh (with an impressive pedigree) is a big fizzle.

A movie with the family especially with lots of kids in a drive in should have ensured a lot of fun and the premise of a Rajesh movie who with Santhanam had given two recent hits would have been the icing on the cake, unfortunately this cake ended up on our faces and told us that reputation does not matter much and past performance at the box office must be discounted before every movie.

For a long time we were left scratching our heads trying to make sense of the movie and desperately searching for a cue to laugh. It was very annoying to see Karthi laugh uncontrollably on screen before a puzzled audience trying to figure out the big joke. Movie makers must remember that simply putting Santhanam on screen does not ensure a laugh even if he does play a drag queen. The scene where Santhanam dresses up as a woman and the rich old man falling for him is can be as painful as “Powerstar dancing in your dreams”.

The other annoying part is role of the heroine, how much longer can the woman play the role of the dumb blonde? The initial premise of a delusional singer was interesting but then it falls flat without any sign of recovery.  I am sure those who follow classical dance will cringe at the grave disservice that comes on screen.  Only thing that seemed promising was veteran actor Prabhu dubbing for Karthi for the flashback scene but the novelty lasts for only a minute or so. And the less said about the songs the better.

You can stretch a rubber band only till it breaks and so also these supposed one line stories that get made into movies, only problem here is that even the one liner is vague. I feel for those working in the comedy channels who after acquiring this movie will need a microscope to pull out comedy bits for their shows.

Nothing azhaghu in this movie and best avoided.