Thursday, 17 May 2018

What ensures Success?

Came across this very nice article.

Why does every Ivy Leaguer not become successful and why is every successful person not necessarily from an ornate background?

Also, success is not just success in your career - it's success in life - a wholesome, happy, well-rounded life - read "How will you measure your life" by Clayton M Christensen (V, thanks for giving me this book).

Yes, we have various factors like IQ, enterprise, street smarts, intelligence, aptitude in various genres, but what demarcates an achiever from the others is the mindset. And both the article and video talk about the mindset in two different ways - one calls it "growth mindset" and the other - grit.

I like the word 'grit'. It shows resolve, there is an undercurrent of struggle. It reeks of perseverance. And it always ends into a win, at least in the stories I read and the films I watch!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Love at First Swipe?

I recently conducted a very frivolous, thrilling yet mundane social experiment. I spent two weeks trying to figure out how it is like to date today. I must say, it was fun, at the same time, very very stressful too. In these two weeks, I checked people out, flirted with people, exchanged thoughts and more and even ghosted a few. Purely for research purposes.

As someone who found her mate in 2012, I was lucky enough to escape the big bad world of Tinder. But having been in one of the single capitals of the world aka Hong Kong and being surrounded by single gals who are jostling with good, bad and ugly dates, innumerable apps, and loads of boy trouble, I had a bit of FOMO combined with curiosity to know how taxing this is.

The Secondary Research
In the beginning it started with just listening to the stories. There is a pattern to them. "...met him online.. texted him for a bit... met him for a drink... let's see where it goes.." But the other pattern I drew was the fact that it was a very detached approach to meeting someone. It was very different than how it was for us ten years ago! I guess when you are meeting so many new people every week and also there is a considerable overlap while you meet them - you have no choice but. You just cannot afford to be emotionally consumed else you risk severe arterial damage on a monthly basis, that no yoga can fix. I have friends that have dates on days they don't have gym - almost like a routine. I have those who were on all the dating apps there were and now have gone off the grid - and are abstaining for 6m and counting. I foresee the potential of a certain DA (Dateholics Anonymous) in the making. And then that could be a potential place for you to meet someone? I know gals who are so done with being single in a place like Hong Kong that just because they cannot date here anymore they actually want to move out of the city. No judgements here - I'm just glad I have my Doug.

The Primary Research
So the recent two week holiday seemed like a good time to get my hands dirty. I was going to be with the girls who had enough and more to contribute and advise. I set up a profile. And I already felt like my privacy was heavily invaded. First of all, you can either log in with your facebook account (as if facebook doesn't know enough and more about me) OR with your phone number. And then of course come the pictures - Tinder chooses your best pictures for you - I wonder what algorithm they use - make up on? redder lips? cleavage showing?

And so it began. It is interesting - you get to check profiles out. They do follow the process of 'physical attraction' precedes frequency connect. Well, that's the best you can do, now can you. But I was pleasantly surprised. From the days as a teenager when all you had were shady online chat forums that started with ASL and wanted to end with sex in 5minutes, this was refreshing. People are fairly civil, want to have an actual conversation and want to ensure that you are genuinely interested. I wouldn't say that you DON'T get your share of creeps here and a guy I interviewed vouches for that. However, I'd still say it is relatively much safer.

The other revelation was that technology makes it relatively safe for people to share texts and images. When you start talking to someone they want to move to snapchat - which is safer to share. This was another step I had to take in the digital native world. I am guilty of not having used Snapchat EVER until now. And yes, you feel pretty safe chatting with someone on these forums. 

The Ghosting
It's unbelievably easy. So while I had no choice there really and in all fairness most people (yes, Men AND women) I spoke to, knew I was doing my research, however it is a very scary thought to actually be on the receiving end. That explains the self preservation technique that the singles I know have to adopt. There's no way out. But I guess, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

As I heard all these stories of friends, acquaintances, colleagues and even a few strangers in coffee shops, I'd end my 'interviews' with one question "Do you think all these APPs make it easier or harder for you to find the ONE?"

The answers were numbing. Often times, and sadly, there were no answers.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Let's take the Tram

Growing up, a train journey was an annual ritual I looked forward to. The sky blue leather seats looked so exciting - laid out with surgical precision. The aluminium windows with multiple shutters seemed to me then a marvel of physics. And getting a seat by the emergency exit would be like hitting the jackpot in so many ways.

Once I started working, train journeys somehow dwindled away and banal flights took over. Hate taking flights - I think every time I take a flight I grow older a little faster. I feel the varicose veins spreading like grapevines on my legs. I can feel the hair greying. Can sense the skin drying up. When there is a delay on the flight it sucks big time - you can't sleep, you can't go anywhere. There is just no way out of the ennui. At best you can watch a movie while you are waiting - but it doesn't help. You are basically straitjacketed into that one seat either on or off the plane. The food sucks. No more how jazzy they make the seats, they cannot match up to the 6-foot berths on our good ol' Indian Railways where you ceremoniously lay out the sheets, stretch out and sleep to the steady rumble of the wheels. The sound of a train is the closest man can come to your mom's lullaby. You make friends on the train. You share food, you talk about food, you get down on the station and explore their wares. You fight over seats. You suck up to the TC to get you a better seat, or maybe a seat. And the best part - a delay just means more food, more banter and more sleep. It's bliss.

Playing Red Letter A on a station in Assam
So long story short - I hate flights and I love the train. Sort of like Sheldon Cooper. If I have the time I'd take the train and ditch the flight at the drop of a hat. Some of my best holidays have involved a train ride. The ritual in the summer of taking Avantika express and coming to Mumbai and ALWAYS running into someone we know. The Bombay-Goa journeys - that give you the best views of the Western Ghats. Once we even did Delhi to Goa - a phenomenal journey where travel brought out the best of men and the worst of men! I have done Khandwa to Guwahati - 54 hrs with a lively bunch - creating chaos. Even played this game called 'Red Letter A' on some obscure station where the train had been halted. I think as a thumb rule if you are on a train for more then 20 hours, you will make the best of friends with the people you are travelling with. I know of romances that have blossomed in these long train rides and have turned into successful marriages. I know of friends who began by sharing headphones and listening to the same music - move on to sharing their lives. There is something about a train journey that is just so poetic.

If we have to thank the British rule for anything - it's trains - circa 1853. 

Trams are
another league altogether. As they chug around even today - they remind us of a quieter, simpler time. They ground the cities that are moving on with technology every millisecond. They are humbling in a way. They have this majestic charm to them that no other mode of transport can boast of.

My first encounter with the tram was in Kolkata. Amazing pieces of work.  I would just take them for the joy of it all. Back in the summer of 2009, the 'first class' seat was Rs 6.50 and the 'regular seat' was Rs 6! What was the difference - you'd ask - the 'first class' had a rickety old fan!

When one moves to Hong Kong, the first thing one does is to get an Octopus Card. It is your passport to the city. Anything and everything is possible with your Octopus Card. You can go to any end of the city and buy anything on the planet with this baby. And being one of the best connected cities in the world, it's so easy to get by - through cabs / MTR / bus or trams. But I have always been a stickler for the MTR - no nonsense, fast, reliable, efficient, air-conditioned. Till the husband comes to visit - and he declares that he wants to ride the city on the tram. I desperately try to dissuade him - giving reasons like - 'getting stuck in traffic, hot and humid, uncomfortable, crowded'.

Call it serendipity - it's a beautiful evening with a breeze thrown in. We have just had brilliant meal. We pick up some cheap wine from the nearest circle K and board the tram. Surprisingly empty. Get on top and grab the front seats. And there! One of the most romantic dates ever! It was just pristine to watch the city pass by as we sipped our loot from Wan Chai all the way to Kennedy Town. The driver actually had to yell us out of the last stop "Hau Lok" "Hau Lok"! And then we turn around and take the tram back! You can basically view the city in under 3dollars. I never thought of it! Thanks to the husband to introduce me to this beauty.

So now, every chance I get if I am not in a hurry, the tram it is. Somehow reminds me of the beautiful train days. If you are ever in Hong Kong and want to roam around the island line - take the tram - it's the best hop-on-hop-off ride you will ever get. Start at Kennedy Town and end at Chai Wan and come back. Stop by at Causeway Bay to shop a little, Wan Chai to grab a meal. Wing it! 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

To Know or Not to Know

The third miserable day of an unexpected viral infection has brought me here - to my very forgotten blog. This space has become like one of those old tennis racquets accumulating dust and cobwebs in the garage. And while so many of my friends continue to be regulars and their creative best at their travelogues, food blogs and trysts with different social issues, people and experiences, I go on about my moribund life vicariously living these lovely write ups and ignoring my instincts to pick up the pen, or these days, open my macbook.

And finally here I am. The only problem is - today any news item is so over written / over video-graphed, over tweeted and over-blogged about, that the issue loses its rawness to be interpreted and weaved into one's thoughts. Before you begin to form your own opinion about something that happened - something that's said / something that's written - you are marred with so many other points of view - it's hard not to get coloured by all the noise that's reaching you before the actual news. Let's be frank about it - today over facebook / twitter you read the reaction before you read about the actual news. Or on Youtube you see the spoof before you see the original. Maybe it's just us late risers - and we are checking out a particular song / news byte / monologue after the whole world has watched it and hated it and gone ahead and expressed their reactions to it.

So how do you really combat this - two ways to do - stay ahead of the game - install every app on your phone that sends you alerts on every fingernail thats lifted in the world. Let the world come to you and let you be the one breaking news at lunch to your colleagues. Let your phone ring incessantly while you browse every minute about the latest video Adele has put up and the latest faux pas Rahul Gandhi has committed. The flip side to this - you may be labelled a 'phubber' - you may be exposing yourself to high levels of stress, a shorter life, or even fewer friends.

The other way - shut out - restrict yourself to the good ol' methods of access to information. Filter out what you need to know and make peace with what you don't. Set aside time to seek information rather than the world coming to you. You may sometimes end up with nothing to offer at the coffee place but you may still have a well thought through, informed opinion about something that happened a week ago.

Where am I? Somewhere in between. But I know when to shut down - keep my phone on the side and have a real conversation. I have always learnt more by talking to people - they may be of all ages and different backgrounds. But I have always learnt more. This has never failed. My phone may bring the latest funny dog video to me - or even the latest update on the Orlando tragedy - or better still - what is being said about it. But I need to control when the information comes to me. Not the other way round.   

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Friends under the Centre Tree

How varied can life be. Little do you realize this when you are 12 years old, sitting under the Centre Tree in the shade from the Malwa Sun in October, having lunch with 5 other girls – who you think are exactly like you. You belong to the same class. You wear the same uniforms and identical pigtails. The only difference there is what you have got in your tiffin box – Aloo Sabji and Rote, Paratha and Achaar, Bhindi and Roti, Methi ka paratha, Mutton Samosas and Orange Marmalade Sandwich.

I never realized then that life could take us where it has. Of course, I never assumed that I’d still be in touch with them even now. We have grown up to be the best of friends, with nothing in common. Out of the 6 of us, one dropped out – we are not in touch anymore – but is a happy mom. One is a doctor and new mom in Gujarat. One is mom of two, teacher for creative writing flitting between Indore and Gujarat. One is a Doctor (PHD) in Optics (or something on those lines), a mom in the US, one is a CA, now a stay-at-home mom of two at Mumbai. And there’s me – married to and at Bombay, a trying to find my footing in Corporate India.

When we chose our streams back in class 11, little did we realize the diverse paths that were ahead of us. When Fatso (name changed) took up Commerce with Home Science – I thought it was a sheer waste of talent – but she had to – she didn’t want to be over-qualified for a suitable match in her community. Well, later on, she studied the most amongst us – a double MA, tutor on the side, and English teacher – one girl who beat all odds, stood by her principles and did what her heart told her to – without ticking anyone off. Now happy, with the life she has – two lovely daughters, the good life. I also had notions about who would get married when and in what sequence – I always thought that Fatso would be the first to bite the bullet, followed by K, then me and then, Amu. It so happened that Amu was the first to get married!

We have very different lives now – a different set of friends, varied eating habits, different routines – different priorities in life. But at the heart of it, we are still the same. We still managed to meet up at Bombay after eons – husbands, kids, et al. We could still talk about everything under the sun. I may not confide in them may latest trouble at work or home, but I know they are around. I could always fall back on any one of them. And most of all, even with all the distances between us, even now, when I call one of them – we have plenty to talk – plenty to last us an hour!

Guess that’s what the recesses under the Centre Tree did to us.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Greys of Black and White

After Nina was crowned Miss America I was witness to the furore that ensued with quite a few irate Americans calling her an "Arab" and littering Twitter and Facebook with other hateful comments. With a lag time of about half a day, there was another net wave snubbing these comments, in turn, making them even more widely read and talked about. There were "responsible" journalists and bloggers condemning these racist outbursts and setting hyperlinks to these very sites that they were disapproving of. Of course, I read all of it, just like any normal person would browse through an info bit and delve deeper in net history to unearth more grime about the issue. There was also praise for Miss Kansas who is exceptionally beautiful and accomplished, and who, according to most Americans, is the "real Miss America". FYI, she is the most conventional American blonde - right out of a teeny bopper Hollywood movie (and here, even I am being racist!).

Now I am no judge of a beauty pageant - I find all these girls amazing - they are perfectly sculpted, confident, radiant, outgoing - so sure of themselves and to top it all, they are Neuro-scientists and doctors and Nano-engineers.

Another parallel media bite that cropped up in this frenzy was Naomi Campbell talking about racial discrimination on the ramp, where most designers choose more white girls for their shows. Naomi and her camp accused these designers of being racist and demanded that a model cannot be chosen for her colour.

Now this set me thinking. We have two instances here where girls are facing discrimination on the basis of the colour of their skin - well, that's so unfair, you would say. But think about it - these ladies are on a platform that is gauging them on their looks, and whether we like it or not, the first thing you notice about anyone - is not their shoes / eyes (let's cut the crap) - but their colour - white - pasty white, American sun kissed white, Australian surfer white, brown, yellow. It's inevitable. We can't beat ourselves up for noticing the largest organ of the body - the skin. While Campbell creates a "Diversity Coalition", isn't that in fact, racist to being with?

Being discriminated at a desk job or in the meritocratic world for how you look or your background is definitely racist. Agree cent percent. But when you are in the business of showcasing a designer's creation that the designer probably visualized on a certain hue - well, can you really ostracize them? Also, when you are in a beauty pageant - people WILL talk about how you look - hullo!

Of late we have a resource from the Australian subsidiary working with us for a few months. When we are going for client meetings, sometimes we tag him along to "use" his accent so that the client is floored! So whether you like it or not, you are mesmerized with an accent and you tend to pay more heed to what they are saying. I remember Anshuman Gaekwad, once talked about a certain Coach for India brought in from Australia - "When the players hear the same thing we say with an accent, they like it better!"

Let's face it - Indians are the most racist of the lot - we may win the sympathy vote with the baggage we carry of the Raj and the brown skin we adorn, but we can be so judging and prejudiced ourselves - from a Tam Bram to a Bong Bram, from a Khanna to a Mudaliar, from a Konkani to a Kashmiri Pandit - everyone is asking for surnames, castes, eating habits, ancestral villages - so as to discriminate - and put into the sterotypical moulds that we all have built.

I just think we should cut ourselves some slack - we are all racist at the end of the day - coz we are observant to begin with. We cannot but help notice the colour of the skin of people we come across. But we cannot judge people at their work on the basis of their skin. But if the work involves showcasing your appearnce - well - that's something to ponder over, init Naomi?!

Sunday, 16 June 2013


Recited this in Class 5.. didn't realize i'd keep going back to it..
Ma chose it out of the Richard's Encyclopedia for me. I liked it then because it is short and easy to remember. I liked the ring to it as well.

Leisure - By W H Davies

WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

What's sad however is that I always knew I'd be doing something in life that would give me all the time in the world to 'stand and stare'. But as it turns out, I am engulfed in a corporate cobweb among other things. There are decisions to be made, commitments to be honoured, appointments to be kept, people to please and plans to be chalked out. And all of this has to be under the objective lens - I have to be practical, reasonable - I have to be real.

The other day a colleague mentioned that she has a fear of 'being locked down'. I guess I know what that is now.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Material Girl

This really cheesy movie called Chalo Dilli teaches you a thing or two about attitude towards life. When the "holier than thou" Mihika (Lara Dutta) gets scared of a roach on the table and plops Manu Gupta's (Vinay Pathak) phone in the curry and ruins it (not jsut the curry guys - the phone), all Manuji has to say is "Cheez hi hai" [for the Non-Desis - "It's just a thing"].

I remember fretting a lot over such "things" - but over time I've realized that if something has to have a short shelf life, it is inevitable. You can take the utmost care of your possessions but if something has to break / fall / get scratched / tear / rip / get lost / get stolen.. it will. You can't help it. At the end of the day you can be smug about owning these "things" but you can't pack them with you when you are finally "packing"!

A colleague of mine just bought a beautiful CAAAAR but thanks to the traffic and road rage in Mumbai it's got this huge scratch on it. It's heartbreaking to see your first car gets its first scratch. Trust me! But that's the thing - you can't help it. And once the account is open, the following dents, bumps and scratches don't matter. Quite like the most painful first time for everything (Hullo! I mean your first workout - get your head outta the gutter!)

Read this book called How Will You Measure Your Life. As we grow up and come across driven. ambitious people who weigh their success on certain stereotypical parameters, we also have certain measures to gauge how well we are doing in our own life - how successful we are. And more often than not, we end up having a mental check list of sorts that may / may not include items such as great job, great house, great car, great investments and great retirement plans. We end up comparing our list with our peers and see how many ticks there are on each. I am not saying we shouldn't be ambitious. I am saying the ambition need not always revolve around material wealth.

A great house can get washed away. A tree could fall on the great car. The great locality you live in could suddenly be the next DOWISATREPLA. These are things. And they are ephemeral. And insurance can protect you from material loss, but not the emotional damage caused by it. That, well, is in your hands.

Detachment is really hard to find in this brand conscious, gadget crazy, material world. I am a material girl. What I have matters to me. And it should. I've worked hard for it. But I guess I need to stop fretting over these "things" too much! There is so much more to fret over - like being fit, being happy, being loved, being awesome!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The 'Cook'ie Crumbles

Having been brought up as more of an imp than a girl, no one around expected me to set foot in the kitchen. Ever. I did have my play sets and my 'Barbie In Kitchen' kits that I used to laboriously lay out in a corner of the house on one of those sleepy Sunday afternoons and play by myself for hours but there was no way I could have shared that with my friends, all of them being guys.I could make a decent omelette somewhere in middle school and did take pains to learn how to make chicken as well. I did get a hang of baking early on too. But that was it. When seventeen I couldn't make a decent Indian meal to save my life which was quite depressing! But apart from a one-time coaxing from my Dad to make Poha and an otherwise indirect comment as to 'how I would manage' no one ever asked me to learn how to cook. They were too obsessed with getting me to study to begin with! 

When in Bangalore I ventured into my friend's kitchen once in a while to make the basics for the gang - suji ka halwa, khichdi, dal, chawal.. tried fish one time with inputs from the Bong fraternity. Made bhindi once which was under-cooked and tried baking a cake which turned out to be overdone and bland! Yes, I've had my fair share of Oops! moments in the culinary department. Once at my local guardian's place they asked me to make chapatis and they turned out to be papad. They were just too nice to eat them.

Gradually with time spent at home and outside I did get to make the quintessential meal and turned everyone I know into experimental guinea pigs. Took advantage of my folks being too nice and got them to try out some good flukes and most disasters that I conjured up in a pan. 

The ultimate test of good Indian cooking - the roti - was still elusive to me. With me moving into my current apartment, I tried my hand at that as well - mostly because only I could be subjected to that atrocity and also coz my roommates were quite inspiring since they can whip up a meal from scratch almost every day. So slowly I got to it - sometimes it wouldn't rise, other times it would be as sticky as glue. I've had rotis falling off and rotis popping like balloons. But yes, I can now proudly say that I can make a decent fulka without risking any dental damage to the consumer. 

With all that I keep reading and watching (check out this blog by a senior of mine that I'm a regular at - She's doing a brilliant job!), the books, the recipes I've borrowed and stolen from friends and family over time, the shows on TV - yes I'm one of those who watches only TLC, NDTV Good Times and the occasional MasterChef and of course, trying out at the plethora of restaurants I veer into, I can really think of flavours in my head and get them out on the plate.. Feels good! It's a brilliant de-stresser and gives you a weird kinda high..

I just hope I never tire of this - coz it certainly is bliss!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


It is really clear to me now how consuming this new job posting has been. The last I wrote was right before my confirmation as an Area Manager. The heavy title comes with its own set of pros and cons. The last few months have been a roller coaster to say the least.

So what gives me all the time in the world now to write again, you'd ask. Well, life has its own ways of letting you take a break even when you don't want to. And what an ironic turn of events. I am out for a movie with friends after ages at Godforsaken Rajkot and our bike skids around a turn to evade a few nasty dogs who're at my heel - literally - I take a fall and break my back.

Result - I'm at home for 6 weeks - 2 weeks down already - 4 more to go. I can roam around but can't lift weights/bend/stretch, can't jump around and can't travel. So I've been working from home and trying to keep myself occupied with my books and my guitar (which I'm not supposed to play for long :(). I drink two glasses of milk everyday and sit in sunlight, and I have truckloads of Pain killers and Calcium supplements to my avail! But I'm not complaining. I get to spend time at home, which is more than I could ask for.

This also gives me time to put things in perspective - there are sooo many things on my list that can't be done with a troublesome spine - with this I know that I can't keep putting life off for work and I can't take my blessings for granted.

To all my friends whose weddings I missed because of this interesting turn of events - I'm sorry! Will get better and meet up ASAP!
To all my friends with whom my travel / party plans got dumped - I'll make it up to you!

The POA for now -> Get back in shape and then go skiing!! LOL!!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Kotra Diaries II

Random notes from across the trip:

Mango trees bowing low with dozens of fruit - entirely organic, unaltered, unsweetened

Jamun so abundant - you can't help squishing it under your feet as you walk - the ones you don't eat

Children lined up on the roads with tokras full of fruit - jamun and khajoor mostly - willing to sell their loot for a mere Rs. 5/- or Rs. 10/-

Cattle that refuses to budge from the road knowing that it is worth more to its master if a car runs over.

The elusive power supply - elusive being an understatement

The solitary kingfisher that feasts on the local produce in the rivulet - strutting across wires, branches and rocks

The fleeting storks

The kids oblivious of clothes - or a bath for that matter

The lone firefly that haunts the neem tree in the still night

The social bath the women attend in the afternoons once they're done with their chores for the day

The disarming smiles that radiate of innocence and sheer goodness. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Humbling. Overwhelming. Belittling.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Kotra Diaries I

I could look at it as a very unfair move on the part of my employer. I could even look at it as paid vacation – dunno yet how much of it is gonna be paid though – the rate at which I’m going, I’m partying every weekend and bingng like crazy.

For the uninitiated, I’m in Rajasthan right now. I’m typing this out while I’m in a cosy AC room of a decent hotel in Udaipur, but that’s not where I am for the rest of the week. I’m working in two remote tribal villages in the interiors of Rajasthan.

It’s not like I’ve never been in a village before, but this one month is letting me absorb the life I’ve seen glimpses of in movies and books and stories my grandma told me. Something like – “There wouldn’t be any electricity where we used to live” (and that is a tale of 50 years ago) was ingested but never comprehended until now.

I am getting to see new things – or the same things in a different light. For instance, I knew about the overloaded Aces and Taxis that run from village to village in these parts through something as superficial as a Fevicol TVC, but only now do I get to sit in such a vehicle. You may have a colleague sitting in your lap. You may have the driver craning over your leg to shift gears. You may even have a goat stepping on your feet. And this I’m talking of the luxurious ride – since I’m a “Madam” from the city. The regulars sit on the top of the Jeep, cling on to a beam or a bar and travel standing. Sometimes the width of this lumbering elephant is increased by a foot on both sides thanks to the 40 people aboard. I also get to hear gory stories of people falling off, losing limbs and lives, of accidents that are best left unexplained. But this doesn’t stop the villagers from waiting hours for that one car – no matter how crowded – boarding it and going to their destination for work or otherwise.

I get to see the disintegrating Aravali mountain range with hills becoming easier and easier to traverse, the rain water flowing out of the lands, failing to satiate the villages and their farms. I get to see lives – such different lives – sometimes an epitome of humanity, love and principles and at other times – utter ridiculousness. Certain customs – I cannot comprehend; the lifestyle that I look up to; the grit that I could never gather.

I see kids who want to study – who aspire to be a “Sir” or a “Madam” like me – who do not have a decent teacher to teach them right. I see these kids – happy with their lives – sent to other villages to work in Cotton Fields. I see a spark in some of them – a spark that could work wonders if given the right platform. I see a vicious circle that I cannot cut through – the motivation to study and the resources to provide for it need to be driven together.

I see men and women who possess surprising clarity about the life, problems of their village and solutions for upliftment – that makes me wonder about the efficacy of education in the first place – should we instill literacy or wisdom?

At the same time I see raw, earthy beauty in all forms. The contorted branches of weather beaten trees, the bugs that attack me and turn into stink bombs, the small rivulets that beckon be to get drenched in them, the lonely routes across the villages that I tread on, the beautiful people with beautiful smiles all around opening their hearts out to me even though I am the stranger, the alien, the newbie in their abode.

More on this later.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Breeding Perfection, eh?

Saw this TVC – a small boy is asking his mom is this pitiful voice when he would become taller and the Mom is told by this doctor that she should give her boy Complan so that he grows well, and lo and behold! The kid grows tall enough to pluck a fake mango from the tree and hand it over to a shorter kid.

It was almost like an advertisement for a fertilizer for plants or premium dog food or something – as if you’re breeding something – for extra green leaves and extra bright flowers or for smooth and glossy fur. I mean, he’s your child for crying out loud, he’s gonna get his height from you or from the alternate generation of your family and that’s it – the body is not an elastic band or clay dough! Yes, you can build a frame if you get into sport and of course, eat well, but your inherent structure stays with you. You can be fit or build muscle and get rid of fat – but it can’t go deeper than that.

And whatever happened to healthy food in the first place? Why are the super moms today going for ‘healthy’ alternatives instead of sticking to good ol’ fruits and green leafy vegetables. I agree that we have polluted our own food chain to the extent of ingesting more pesticides than nutrients – but atleast the primary goal could be the natural way out, or shouldn’t it?!

We are buying good health in tetra packs at hyper marts at a huge premium today, but fail to hand over a real apple to the family. The air miles (read carbon print) that we add to our sins can go in another post of mine..

Anyway, parents today could do without engineering their kids to be the smartest, tallest, brightest children thanks to the RDA, DHA and what not – let the kid be and feed him right – correct the food fads and ensure that he spends more time playing a real game with real kids instead of PS3 or Wii or the new and exceedingly ridiculous Kinect (I mean seriously, jumping around awkwardly in front of a screen!!??)

Go for the good life and let the kids be! Please don't try to breed perfection.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

From the Plop to all that Pondering

Every kid curses him for noticing the apple fall – thanks to him we have to go through the ordeal of learning all the Mechanical Physics there is around us. He has been praised, honoured, paid homage to and ridiculed. But he was a mere mortal at the end of the day. Seriously, had no one noticed anything else FALL before???? I mean, seriously! The moral of the story here is not gravity – it is something else. So Isaac Uncle was lolling around under the shade of the apple tree on a fairly pleasant day I am assuming. He was clearly doing nothing at all, except perhaps, taking one of his innumerable naps, dozing in and out of his daydreams – probably pining over the neighbourhood damsel. Had the apple fallen next to him, he would’ve just eaten it up. But no, the fateful apple decided to plonk itself on our Genius’s curly haired head. The apple bothered our man, hence he paused and pondered and brooded and fretted over that poor apple. He had to blame someone for this misfortune – and enter – Gravity. Which brings us to the question – why do things ‘get’ to us? Why do people fight for a cause? Is it just an itch? Why do they go all the way to find out about something? Is it mere curiosity? I don’t think so. It’s only when YOU are affected, do you want to move out of your comfort zone and bring things back to normalcy – relative normalcy at that. On the other hand, I feel it’s okay to be this self involved. If we go by the butterfly effect, what affects you is probably affecting the solitary glow worm that has been boycotted by the other glow worms for glowing a little too brightly in the quaint tropical forests of Balukpong. So at the end of the day, whatever you do is probably good for people around too. As long as you keep that in check, you’re good to go :D Unlike Newton, who, to satiate his urge to ‘find out’ screwed up tons of millions of happy teenage lives to follow!