Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Solitary walk..

God sat for judgment on his golden throne
Tear stained, I went. Dispirited, I stood
I didn’t ask him for riches or luxury
Not for me the silk, diamonds or gold
I didn’t ask him for fame or glory
Not for me the jealous looks or bitter sighs of others
I didn’t ask him for happiness, nor for love
It is almost too much to hope for.
I asked for peace,independence and the right to be
His nostrils flared: ‘Blasphemy!” he roared.
Bewildered, I stood for a moment
Then it dawned up on me.
You were the god of my forefathers
Oh, lord of Patriarchy, keep thy gifts to thyself
Alone I will traverse this stormy night.

Sunday, 10 November 2013


Oh daffodils! You are a mirage in the valley
Where the glass of the broken hope
Distorts the reflection of the lovely Nepenthes
.I sense perpetuity in the serene blue sky
The wind and the clouds bring me news from nothingness
‘Business as usual ‘they whisper to me
Oh daffodils! You are yet a mirage in the valley
But the wet earth tells me that my tears are indeed real!

Friday, 11 October 2013

A straight forward person's guide to cunningness

The straight forward person’s guide to cunningness

Tip1: Shatter your romantic illusions: You could be the type of romantic fool who thinks that you will be content with a beggar’s bowl and clear conscience and unbent pride. But life seldom works in that manner. You will probably not be able to afford a beggar’s bowl; you won’t get good places to beg near the pathway due to overcrowding and more than everything, you won’t be content.

Tip2: Take note of cunning people: These people matter. Ignoring them or treating them like dirt under your feet would be momentarily satisfactory. But they can make you want to run away to Andromeda galaxy. Period.

Tip3: Be proactive and not reactive: If we are measuring our words, controlling ourselves, it doesn’t mean we are being cowards. The stupid things we end up saying when provoked will definitely be used against us later. So it is better to be proactive. Reserve your anger to inanimate objects like bed, table,wall,etc. They won’t hit back.

Tip4: get rid of that Gryffindor syndrome: It is the most job-wrecking character trait. This disease is commonly found in people with socialist inclination. They will defend not only themselves, but also others .If someone is being treated unfairly, let him or her react against it. If they don’t have a backbone, let them develop it. Life is complicated as it is. No need to complicate it further.

Tip5: Talk less; never disclose anything more than necessary: If we talk less, it will be easy to keep track of what we said. Trivial things we disclose in a moment of solidarity, could be used against us. Moreover, if you talk less, there is less chance of other people knowing the real you. It doesn’t make sense to parade your entire armory in broad daylight.

Tip6: Be less sincere or show sincerity only where it is required: No need to point out that the king/Queen is not wearing clothes if he/she deserves it. If you think the ruler is good, you can make your point in one calm , clear cut statement and leave it at that. Let us not pester.

Tip 7: Never raise your voice: it is better to say sarcastic things in a calm, collected manner than to say comparatively harmless things in loud voice. You can always claim to have acted in a professional manner and also absolve yourselves of the ‘heinous’ crime of shouting.

Tip8: say yes more often!: If you were asked to build a castle on moon by EoD, just point out in a calm pleasant manner that it is not possible and also list the reasons. If the request is repeated, don’t reject it again. Take it up, but make sure your reservations are recorded. And then try till evening or if you are not in the mood, just make a pretense of trying and report in the evening that it could not be done. In this manner, you can claim to have exhibited a positive attitude towards work and also save your neck.

Tip9: Show respect: Show respect to people irrespective of what you think of them. It is good for peace of mind and mental health.

Tip10: Sugarcoat your sentences: I know that this will be a very difficult tip to follow for an innately straight forward person. But this is a necessary evil. We are just going to say the truth in a manner that will be pleasant to the other person as not many people are strong enough to face the truth as it is.

A Normal Life!

      Hector Gonsalvus was an ideal student. ‘’A smart student!” they all called him. “He will go far” everyone agreed. Girls in the class behaved deferentially around him. Boys were told to be like him.

‘’I gave him the best education I could afford”, his father used to boast to his friends. Harold Gonsalvus worked in the design section of an old and prestigious textile company. Harold woke up by 6, went to office by 8, did his job earnestly and joked around with his friends and boss. If necessary, he stayed back on week days, came on weekends and completed his work. When his wife Jacinta was sick, his boss allowed him to leave early; the company even paid for a portion of her treatment. “Ours is the best company” the employees used to say. “The company will take care of us; no matter what”. The company did so and in return, it prospered. Its fame reached far and wide.

       Harold had put Hector into “Anglican residential school” long before the “Right to education bill “came into force. In Anglican, he intermingled with the best of the lot. The kith and kin of the MLAs, bureaucrats and business men.

       After matriculation, Hector opted for engineering as it was the Ít’course then. He studied engineering like the rest of his friends.i.e; he had to approach poly technique diploma holders to do his B-Tech final year project. Then in their final year, a big corporate company came and gave jobs to all of them.

     Hector enjoyed his life. He did his work, watched movies on weekends in multiplexes, went shopping in Malls, read Times of India, frequented Café Coffee day , Mac Donald’s and KFC, pronounced his opinion on poverty and rural sanitation on company public folders. He even had a girlfriend for a while. They broke up when the novelty wore off. That was when he began to hear the buzz.

Only B-Tech! Go for MBA. You can get lakhs.” His middle aged neighbour Latha Prakash would say flashing her golden teeth and diamond rings. Her son, Arun Prakash had done MBA from a reputed Indian Management institute and was currently earning lakhs. He was doing market research on expanding coco cola market on the relatively untapped rural areas. The people there still drank tender coconut water and spicy butter milk. Occasionally, as an extravagance, they indulged in ‘’Frooti’’ or ‘’Soda”. ”Uncouth! Unsophisticated! Imagine the potential if we could bring them all to the path of civilization.” Arun Prakash would get really excited about his job.

       Right and left, his friends were either doing MBA or preparing for CAT or had CAT in their bag. Determined not to be left behind, he obtained one month leave from his company citing malaria; spent his evenings figuring out how to identify 227 from a set of 4 choices in .3 seconds. And then he cracked the CAT! In big manner too. He got into one of the ‘It’ schools.

       All of a sudden, his social status went up. His Facebook friends list went up from 300 to 900 and his follower list from 0 to 62.He felt proud. After all, his cousin, who was an agricultural scientist, didn’t have a single follower in Facebook. Mothers with unwed daughters began to complement him on his complexion which, if I may say so, was a rather interesting shade of pitch-black.

       After two well-spent years, Hector received his management diploma. While Jacinta wept openly, Harold discreetly dried his eyes in the handkerchief. He was all the more overjoyed because his son was going to join his organisation. His chest expanded with pride.

       The old venerable looking manager respectfully gave way to Hector when he entered his air conditioned office room. The first thing that he noticed on joining the organisation was that none of his Times-of-India reading friends were using his company’s products. “We put our best efforts into our products; we are passionate about it. Our products are works of art. It requires aesthetic sense to appreciate it.” Harold proudly informed him when he discussed the issue at home. Being an intelligent man, Hector quickly deciphered the market implications of this fact. “We don’t need works of art. We need products that can sell like soaps. We should have higher market capitalization. We should tap into the urban youth market that has neither time nor intelligence to appreciate art. So cater to their needs. Bring down the artistic level. But give it a sleek...you know... pseudo-intellectual look. “Hector preached to a group of astounded employees. That was administrative reform act 1.

        Hector had the shock of his life when he read his company’s annual report. His company had zero rate of attrition! That simply can’t be! That’s not so in Ernst and Young, in Standard and Poor, in Goldman Sachs, In J P Morgan, In Hindustan Lever! It went against every management principle he ever learned. It was simply unacceptable. A healthy attrition rate was an indication of successful management policies.

        He quizzed his father about this. “You have been working on this company for more than 25 years now. You never wanted to change? “. “We were making the best of the products. We had creative freedom. The company treated us well. If anything happened to us, company used to take care of us.” His father said apprehensively wondering what his learned son would be up to next. Employees are complacent and take company for granted. Hector made a mental note.

       He went back, brainstormed with his MBA peers for days on end. Finally, they hit up on the ultimate solution. ”Make them contract workers! “The idea was so simple and brilliant. The strategy was sure to inspire workers to become more competitive in the globally challenging environment. Huge productivity gains were sure to happen. That also meant, they can curtail on employee benefits resulting in higher profit margins. It was a gem of an idea!

       The contract signing ceremony took place with great splendour in Taj Coromandel hotel. ‘’This shows that management is committed to employee needs and concerns.” Hector declared. In the same ceremony, he was presented with the ‘Business Man of the year ‘award .In the star studded event attended by the honourable prime minister, planning commission vice chairman and finance minister, Hector was the cynosure of all eyes. “What’s your next goal, sir?” the young reporter of a breaking news channel asked him, pressing the mike close to his mouth, all the while smiling sweetly at her audience. “To write a book.” Hector replied gravely. “I owe everything I am to my alma mater. Just like my teachers transferred their valuable knowledge to me, I intend to transfer my refined management techniques to future generations. .” He concluded humbly.

Thus began the saga of Hector Gonsalvus,the most acclaimed management guru of his times.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Hail barbarianism

Sometime ago, I was travelling from Tambaram to Chennai Park in the local train. A lady and her kid got into the ladies compartment. They looked rather worse for wear. Not financially sound, I would say. As soon as the train started, the kid began to cry for his father. “Daddy enge, daddy enge” (or is it enke? loosely translates to ‘where is my father’). While the older ladies in the compartment were busy cajoling the kid, I was left to ponder the kid’s vocabulary.
I have observed this in Tamil Nadu as well as Kerala. Even poor uneducated people want their kids to refer to them as ‘Dad’ or ‘Mom’. Honestly, what is wrong with good old ‘Amma’ or ‘Achan/Appa’. While it is perfectly fine to adopt good things from another culture, what good is obtained by referring to your own parents in a foreign language?
My reasoning is that these people somewhere have an underlying inferiority complex. They do believe in the supremacy of the white guy and his culture. So while their kids refer to them in that language, they feel elated; uplifted.
I am by no means a cultural fundamentalist. (Believe me; I have been unfortunate enough to meet such people). I would never say that Malayalam is the best language in the whole world or that it is better than English. Comparing two languages/cultures is pointless. After all, how can we compare uniqueness?
I can understand sending children to English medium schools, as I very well know the perils of being Malayalam medium educated. It was not easy and has left me with some inferiority complex wrt English; but decided to live with that.
But it still hurts me, when educated people take pride in speaking distorted Malayalam. I love my mother tongue and sort of dread the day when Malayalam becomes a dead language.
The other day, I was complaining to my friend about all these. She said “what’s wrong abt that? My cousin and her husband, both keralites and settled in Kerala, talk to their child in English only.” “Why?” I was curious. “Because they want their kid to be able to speak fluently in English. There is a huge difference between kids who speak English @ home and those who don’t “.
Hmmm. I decided then and there that I am probably living in the wrong place @ the wrong time. I was reminded of a quip by a Malayalam poet, Kunghunni Mash.
(Because I wanted my kid to learn English from birth itself, I arranged for my wife’s delivery in England!)

Disclaimer: having said all these, if people get a kick o/o their kids addressing them as ‘Dad’ or ‘Mom’, it is none of my business. After all, this is a free world.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Cultural purity

         I never gave two Knuts about cultural purity. But something I found recently in a Pakistani cultural forum got me thinking. They were complaining about people dancing to hit Bollywood tunes for parties and how it erodes the purity of Pakistan Islamic culture.
        I thought of starting a debate in the topic dissecting so called 'Pakistani Islamic cultural purity'. But then had visions of my Gmail and FB account being hacked and so controlled myself with difficulty and logged off. The people in the forum were complaining about how outside influence is corrupting Islamic culture. For starters, Islam itself is foreign to Pakistan. It originated in Saudi Arabia and spread to rest of the world. Before Islam came into Pakistan, they more or less shared so called Indian/Hindu culture. So where the hell is cultural purity?

          Let us take the case of the Shiv sena fanatics cribbing about so called traditional Indian culture. To start with, are they sure Indian culture is pure? Thing is, Indian mythology is very similar to ancient Greek mythology. Swastika, our symbol of peace, became the symbol for Aryan supremacy. Thus, the obvious conclusion is, all these stuff must have originated in some common place and spread to other places. So at least some part of the so called Indian Culture is foreign to our soil.

         There is also the difficult issue of separating culture from religion. Culture of a particular place is a summation of the learning, experiences, and habits etc. of the people belonging to that area. That can be common to people of the region. And involves the best practices and survival tactics suited /customized for the local society (this ceases to be true if they refuse to change according to the times). Religion is just a way of praying to god (I used to wonder about this as a kid; What if the guy/gal we call as GOD is Satan in reality?) while introduction of a new religion invariably brings about some socio/behavioral changes in the new devotees, there is no need to totally reject the local culture. It does not make sense; the reality is, organized religions evolved to satisfy the needs and counter the issues of a particular society at a particular time. So when it spreads to a totally different region with different issues and different history/culture, it needs adapting. Point I am trying to make is there is nothing like religious purity as such. Though purity is a desirable when it comes to manufacturing/science, it is rather a dangerous element to introduce in socio/cultural scenario.
There have been some wonderful scenarios of cultural integration. The journey of the Parsi’s is one such amazing story. The Parsis migrated from Iran to India around 10th century A.D. Inspire of having a different ethnicity, they integrated themselves deeply with the Indian society. For so small a community, they made truly remarkable contributions to India.
Now if we are considering the spread of religion, I would say that Buddhism is truly remarkable for integrating with the local culture. As we all know, Buddhism originated in India. But when it spread to other regions, it only carried its essential ingredients. It discarded the unnecessary & local elements of India. Subsequently, today we don’t have Pan Buddhism (thank God!). But it integrated so well to the local culture that today we are lucky to have Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism (practiced in Sri Lanka and all) and many other branches. Each with a sweet local flavor of its own. I would say that Buddhism aimed at spiritual invasion rather than cultural invasion

      Cultural evolution is an ongoing process. People belonging to different cultures interact and in the process exchange their ideas and processes. There are dead cultures and stagnant cultures; but nothing like a pure culture unless you are part of some yet to be discovered obscure tribe.

P.S  Knut is the least valued coin in Harry Potter Lingo

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Heart's true desire -A talisman

Ever since I started Infy, I was toying around with the idea of an alternate career. Like all electronics graduates, initially I wanted to work in my core field. Then again, as I had not wasted any time in   college studying, I felt that I was not ready to be released in to unsuspecting public sector core companies. After all, I did not want to blow up a missile or satellite by accident. So i thought of increasing my knowledge as well as percentage by doing M-Tech.
       In the first year, I qualified Gate , went to Coimbatore and  strutted around the Amrita College Campus with characteristic arrogance. ( I had reason to strut, almost all of the applicants had come with their parents. I was the rare breed who had turned up alone! These are times I just love my parents!) When it was time to join, I could not bring myself to commit myself to two years of studying.  I called up my father , informed him that i was not ready yet and will join next year. He grumbled something noncommittal.
       The next year, I actually studied something instead of relying on lady  luck and improved my rank but managed to lose my Gate Score Card! To my credit, i discovered this only on the last day of submitting application. I was informed that i need to get an FIR filed to get a duplicate score card! Seriously, that was too much! Being the lazy git that i am, i laid the matter to rest.
         Anyway, by this time , i had discovered infy blogs and thought i would like to go for journalism. Started an external blog, announced my decision to parents and dreamed for a week about Sainath, Tehelka etc. By the end of the second week, i got bored with the idea. Journalism seemed too lame!

        "Follow ur heart" i have heard this advice too often. But if i had followed my heart every time it wanted something, i would be now homeless, jobless , friendless etc not to mention probably living on street. I sincerely envy those people who knows what they want out of life and stick to it.

          So one fine day, i set out to find out what i really wanted o/o life. I ended up creating a talisman. Here is this.
" Ask urself what would you like to do if there is no power, money, glamour , fame, prestige, etc.,, offered! What would u like to do just for the sake of doing it? Choose it!"

I asked myself this question and the answer i got was strange. I wanted to be green peace volunteer! As my parents were hardly likely to approve this , i took the test once again. I got answers like green entrepreneur either in the sector of renewable energy or e-waste management.Hope things will work out.