© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Story of Stuff

What is the Story of Stuff?

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities around the world, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Watch it here...

And do your part in making this planet a better place to live. We all are responsible & accountable for what we have done till date & answerable to the generations to come... The least you can do is spread the word & create awareness.

* - Sponsored by Tides Foundation & Funders workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Song of Hiawatha

During the last weekend (9th Dec 07), I saw this movie named "The Song of Hiawatha". The movie is based on the epic poetry by the same name written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow based on the legendary leader named Hiawatha of the Obijway Indians. Obijway Indians are one of the largest group of Native Americans and the third largest native community in the United States - surpassed only by Cherokee & Najavo.

Hiawatha was one of the so called protagonist and considered as a 'god sent' leader* (similar to the Rama avatara of Mahavishnu in the epics of the Indian Subcontinent) of the Obijway Indian community who had tried to broker peace between the warring tribes and taught the folks the art of growing corn - who until then lived by hunting, eating berries & roots. He was a skilled and charismatic orator, and was instrumental in persuading a large group of Native North Americans who shared similar languages, to accept the Great Peacemaker's vision and band together to become the Five Nations of the Iroquois confederacy

After doing a lot of heroic deeds for his tribe & others he loses his lover & wife Minehaha to the fever (Ahkosewin) and famine (Bukadawin) who visits his abode as 2 ghosts who refuse to talk to anybody but him. It is when the 'white-men' visits them asking to do trade with them and they bring along with them a priest who is referred to as - The Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face. Hiawatha welcomes them joyously calls the Priest as the 'Black-Robe chief'. He endorses the missionaries and launches his canoe for the last time to depart for ever, to meet his destiny at the West winds.

The epic ends here, but the movie goes on for some more time. And that is what actually prompted me to write this post.

The movie goes on talking about the trade that the white-men do, while the "Black-Robe chief" watches helplessly. They trade guns and ammunition to the second-rung leaders of the community who are waiting to suceed Hiawatha because it makes "hunting easy", so life made easy. They give rusted iron vessels to the women folk who had been cooking & eating healthy using their earthen pots because it "does not break" if it slips off your hand! And the white-men have their hands on the wealthy fur & and other valuables that the tribes had gathered over years and years.

Yes, there is a point in there, and what happens after Hiawatha leaves is not really trade, but abuse. Abuse of the have-nots by the haves. A problem that the present world is still grappling with.

Does the gun trade ring a bell somewhere in the past few decades with Afghanisthan? A dragon that had turned its head towards their own protector off-late? Does the untreated iron vessels ring a bell somewhere in the African continent - on the pretext of removing poverty?

I do not want to conclude anything on this post, but sometimes I feel that only socialism can save the world!

* There is a dispute/disagreement on the character in Longfellow's poetry and the legendary character since there is no proven evidence that they are one and the same. Even Longfellow has NOT made such a claim.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Loving is giving

Today afternoon I (again) saw the tamil movie - "Kizhakku Cheemayilae" - directed by the coveted south indian director Bharatiraaja. I had seen this movie a couple of times earlier and I like Bharatiraaja's films for their smell of the soil, fragrance of true love and the prick of emotions. This movie is about the love of a brother to his sister, the different phases, situations, face-off, egos that their families go through after she is married off. Despite many provocative attempts, the love, giving & caring of the brother to his sister triumphs over everything even if that meant loss of physical property, loss of ego, loss of pride and what ever.

There is a message in for every one in this movie. How many of us are ready to give away in the name of true love? Or if I rephrase this question; How many of us truly - in all sense - love their loved ones? How many of us get upset if the so called loved one did not, or does not behave or reciprocate in the way that we expect them to do? Answer this honestly to your inner soul.

So, there is a dimension of exchange or barter system in there which takes away the essence, the purity, the sweetness of true love. I remember seeing this board in front of one of the very famous shrines in Bangalore - "The more you will love me, the more I will bless you!" (No offense meant to the shrine or the related beliefs - This is just a analogy)- Isn't that what percollates down to every individual - though not explicit - in terms of setting expectation for love?

I am a person who feel that the moment you say something like - "If you do X, I will do Y" - it is pure business, not emotion. The head works there and not the heart. And what happens there is just actions to fulfil your own 'agenda of life' - if you are the ordinary mob - and take care of the agenda of your family, if you are one of those 'broad minded' people.

It reminds me of a school story where a kid caged the parrot because he 'loved' the parrot. There were teachers then, who corrected the kid telling him that if he truly loved the parrot, let the parrot find its happiness - and the parrot would never find happiness being confined to a cage. I guess in this generation, we don't have good parents, we don't have good teachers or good mentors who can guide us understand what true love means & how to achieve that. We are all in a rat race to prove something to somebody and in the process forgetting to live & love to fullness.

I have, off-late, started being numb if somebody tries to emotionally blackmail me. It used to be a turbulent affair everytime earlier and it never helped me as an individual or as the head of my family. I will just shutdown my response system if I feel somebody is trying to push me to the edge. May be I will look like an idiot or joker or even like Narasimha Rao (no offense meant to the individual or the party - just another analogy)- But that helps me to love my dear ones without having a personal agenda in mind and not being affected by an agenda!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I, Me, Mine

I have not seen an individual or a leader or an activist who admits what they do is wrong. All of us, including me, believes, strives and gives away for the good of the environment - At the capability each of them is. Every one; be an individual, be a community, be a state, be a nation, or even mankind; has a story of how much they have given away for the benefit of others and how they feel betrayed - And interestingly, all of them pardons the other and is living an idealisitic life.

I was listening to a telephonic conversation last week that my wife had with our erstwhile house-maid about her employment.

A quick flash back:-
We had a house-maid with us since more than 2 years and she was pretty good in terms of looking after our baby while we were at work and running the cooking-cleaning cycles. We hired this lady after some horrendous experiences with few others and luckily this worked out. It was more because she was from a well-to-do family earlier and the sudden demise of her husband had forced her to take up a job and she had kids to raise. It also worked out for us too because she was not yet exposed to the manipulative behaviour of the 'typical house-maids*' and was pretty straight forward - but not very longer.

Now, my wife has a problem. Sometimes she is prejudiced (I hope she is not reading this... LOL...). If she likes somebody or hates somebody from the first instance, her logical thought process just shuts down. That disaster happened here too. The maid's problems started becoming her problems and she started getting actively involved there - to an extent of giving her monetary loans to pay off her debts! And in return she looked after our little princess very well.

Her immediate monetory problems were solved, her daughter got a job and it was nice to see a broken family getting together and making progress... And the inevitable happened. As the days and months and years went by, she started taking us for granted that eventually ended up in arguments and recorded telephone conversations and remote monitoring of what is happening at home while we were away at work (Technology if correctly used; can do wonders!)

Then I decided to pick up an assignment away from Bangalore (There was other reasons too...) and we moved to the United States for a year and that forced her to find another job.

Back to Present:-
Now the points of argument at both sides are as follows:- "We gave her everything what she wanted, even helping her kid to find a job, help her close her debts by lending money et.all and never treated her like a maid - and Why did she do this?"

On the contrary; "I took care of their kid like my own - I haven't taken care of my own children like that - Why are they negotiating on my fate that drove me to be a house-maid".

Both the sides - ours and hers - has a point. And this is really interesting. When we start coloring the facts with our imagination, we lose the point.

Lets take our argument:- "We gave her everything..." - Why did we; when she wanted only an employment? We assumed that loyalty could be bought and that proved otherwise by due course of time. We forgot that it is human nature and tendency to look for more, ask for more and evolve (Didn't we learn from Darwin?)

And her argument:- "Why are they negotiating..." - That is not a fact; but a colored imagination! My wife asked the money back that she borrowed from her - which is a fact and the fact ends there. The rest of it is imagination!

In one of my earlier posts, I had mentioned about "Fear for failure". And I feel it is this fear that prompts and motivates people to color their thoughts and take it from a state of pure fact into a state of perceived fact coupled with imagination and look others through that colored glass - An attempt to make your point stronger so that you dont fail! And in the process conveniently forget how this might impact others, how the environment perceives it and eventually become a "self made martyr"!

And what made me write this post now is the theme of the month of October in my kiddo's play school. The theme is "I, Me, Mine". Basically, the teachers help the kids to identify themselves by their names, and then identify their parents by their names and photographs and then identify their school bags and personal stuff which belongs to them! - Pretty simple and straight forward- huh? But the "I, Me and Mine" that they drive into this kids at this age makes them to be a more self-centric generation who does not give a damn about others but only themselves.

I am sad.

* --> The house-maids in India are well known for their manipulative behaviour in terms of influencing the children, insensitive to their presence while using vulgar/adult language over phone and sometimes even to the level of abuse to the children - mentally, physically and sometimes even sexually. When accountability is ignored with associations and labor groups to endorse them; justice becomes a distant reality for affected children and their parents.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Walking the talk

Leena started working here and another chapter of hectic schedule in our life has started. She goes to Manhattan (New York City) every day which is a train journey of an hour and a half from Morristown which makes me a close-to-full-time home maker.

Amiya had the habit of putting her toys in the mouth or biting them and I used to tell her not to bite the toys lest she get worms in her mouth…

Yesterday, we were coming home and I had parked my car in our parking lot and was helping Amiya to get out of the car – The car seats and regulations in the US is a bit annoying especially when you are in a hurry, though it is meant for the safety of the kids – I had the laptop bag on my shoulder, had to keep the door open and pick up her from the seat. After picking her up, I need to lock the car and was lazy to keep the keys in the pocket and take them back again! I held the keys with my mouth and was picking her up when she gave out this statement – “Thakkolu vaayilu vekkallae pappa…. Puzhu varum…” (Transalation – Don't keep the keys in your mouth, Pappa… You will get worms in your mouth!) I was stunned for a minute hearing this and then realized how small kids catch even the small statements that we make, watch every thing that elders do and even try to emulate them…

Yes, charity begins at home, Walk the talk – A quick lessons learned for me!

Note: Text in italics is malayalam, my mother tongue

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Save their souls

I had been dropping and picking up my daughter at the play school for the past 4 weeks now. The look at her eyes when I say bye to her at school, slowly watering, yet trying not to cry, it pricks me hard some where in my heart. Both of us know that we will meet again in another few hours, but for some reason my soul clenches when I see that look on her face.

And when my wife calls me up to find out how she did when I dropped her, I would lie that she did well (And in all practical sense she did well - except for mothers). The interesting fact is that she knows that I am not going to tell the truth and I too know that she is not going to believe what I said. Still, we do that. Mothers - They are a different species. I keep telling my friends that there is no two, but three sexes - Male, Female & Mothers.

Last day I was driving back from the Indian store in Parsippany and I had this CD playing in my car. "Aaalaapanamm... Thedum Saanthwanam..."; This is a very touching song from a beautiful 80s malayalam movie (Endae Sooryaputhrikku) acted by Amala & Sreevidya. The lyrics & the melody really touches you. And the story line is about somebody forced to being an orphan because of the social stigma associated with un-wed mothers in a conservative society like India.

At one point of time, I tried to draw a correlation between my experience of dropping my kid at school and this story line. If you ask me, my daughter is my life; She is all that I have got and I will go to any extend to take care of her. I was trying to correlate the pain in her eyes when she is left for herself for a few hours with a child who has to face it right through his/her childhood. The caring and love is any child's birth right; irrespective of being in any country. The thought sent a shudder through my spine and I did not have strength to think of that any more...

A parting thought to all the fathers & mothers who has created so much of orphans in the world (Ofcourse, cloning is pretty new to the world!) - If you cant take responsibility of your orgasm, please use what ever preventive mechanism you have (pills, condoms... what ever). The cost of that is very less compared to the trauma and pain that you put those children through.

Atleast save them from that!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Living your life inside out

I really do not know how to start this post. This is kind of stuff that sometimes I am at loss of words expressing...

I have pretty much lived my life so far based on what I thought is right and felt like doing. "Living life in your own terms" if you could call it that way. But honestly, who will be interested to know about that? Consider my life as a canvas, where a director is painting a beautiful story - Who is the hero? MYSELF!! EVERYBODY is the bravest, smartest, cutest, strongest IN THEIR OWN LIVES... There is no better way an incident could have been handled by somebody else if they were in your role... given that background, let me get into what I wanted to say.

I keep telling my wife and few others that I as an individual is happy and content if the environment around me is happy. Like when it comes to personal life, I am pretty happy & content (Ahh, now we see the seggregations...) because I think my environment is happy. Perceptions too have their part in the story... Being happy does not necessarily mean being together at the same house or calling up and being in touch every day through emails or phones. It is just that feeling that we all exist for each other. You could be out of touch for ages together, but still if you have that feeling inside, thats the point.

So, I keep talking (read as lecturing) about this non-materialistic way of living and being happy from inside and not necessairly the materialistic gains and assumes that people around are so much excited & happy to listen to me... And my environment continue to put up with me despite this boring yap yap... until recently when my mentor (during our first meeting) threw this curve to me. "What is your Philosphy of life? Do you live your life inside-out or outside-in?"

Honestly, I was stumped by the depth of this question and I realized that I was somewhere between. (I always wished there was a half yes, half no - somewhere between the yeses & the nos). I should admit that more than a few times, I had allowed my environment to take charge of my life and I remained being a spectator. To live your life inside-out takes a lot of courage, commitment and focus and I realize that I am not there... To a great extend, it was mediocrity that drove my decisions because I have a tendency to make everybody happy. I am OK... to let it go, if that makes my environment happy which inturn is my criteria to be happy and content. Does the famous Indian corporate worker who does not know how to say "NO" ring a bell somewhere in this context?

To be or not to be... difficult choice. You can be really there and live your entire life sleeping peacefully EVERY night with no regrets - Be prepared to be ignorant to your environment's feelings. Or try not to be there, keep everybody happy and live a life of guilt & remorse.

Or try to balance it off between the both ends based on specific situations and live your life by doing a continous Cost-Benefit-Analysis, and feel regretful about running your life like a business.

I sometimes feel that way when on top of a drink or two ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Some Favourite Lines

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people so that you will work for justice, equality and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and change their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Empire State Building & Madame Tussauds

I and Gautham started off from Candlewood suites at 6AM in the morning in my Chevrolet Impala to Lindsley Alms to pick up Ben & Edna to start our exploratory trip to Manhattan, NY. After breakfast, we set out on our trip at 6:45 AM. Ben had done some research on parking spaces and he was driving since my license(IDP) did not allow me to drive in the state of NY.

The traffic was light, and without major hiccups, we reached our designated parking at 8:15 AM and was heartbroken to see that the parking would cost us $38 different from the $12 that was mentioned in the website. Whatever; the more we start looking out, we might end up with not getting a parking at all. So we subscribed to the same parking lot and started our exploration with a hand held GPS & a black berry. We walked on to the nearest intersection and started our search for the Empire State building. While the GPS was downloading information, I read out the name of the building right in front of us and it read - "Empire State Building" - Now, Isn't that amazing? But again, this is the problem if all the buildings are sky scrapers, cant make out which one is the tallest from our frame of reference.

We bought tickets for the 86th floor deck & the 102nd floor observatory to have a view of downtown Manhattan. There was an express lift available to the 80th floor and then another to the 86th one and yet another one to the 102nd observatory. It was a very nice view from the top, though it was foggy, later during the day, the vision cleared - We could see the Liberty Statue, Ground zero (Where the twin towers stood before the terrorists brought it down), The neighbouring islands, ferry, dock and stuff like that. After about spending 3 hours there and clicking pictures, we decided to continue our expedition; but obviously after taking a bite at the nearby McDonald's.

We decided to go to the Times Square next. Times Square is a major intersection in Manhattan, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Times Square has achieved the status of an iconic world landmark and has become a symbol of its home city. Times Square is principally defined by its animated, digital advertisements. We took a Taxi to Times Square and realized that noon was a wrong time to be at Times Square, though we hit a jackpot there. Somebody was distributing $10 discount cards to go to the Madame Tussuad's wax museum which was pretty close. And I must say that the best deal of the day was the this wax museum; though we were a bit disappointed to see that our own AB, SRK & Aish are in the London museum & not in the NY museum.

After taking entry ticket in to the museum where we had Paris Hilton & the Shrek (wax statues) to welcome us at the entrance. The statues looked so real and at many places (where I dint
know the real celebrity), I mistook them for real people. There was a self portrait that Madame Tussauds(1761-1850) had personally modelled in 1842 when she was 82. All I could say is that it is just amazing! Who ever plans to visit Manhattan should not miss this. It is definitely worth it! We went ahead clicking pictures with each and every celebrity and the most recent one was Johny Depp in the last version of the Pirates of Caribbean - At worlds end. We spent time until 3:30 there and the finally decided that we should cover the Central Park too before we start back to Morris town. After a few minutes of effort to find out out way through blackberry & GPS, we figured out that the best way to go to Central park is to take another taxi. And that took us there.

There was a group of street dancers whop had put up a show there and we were kind of relaxing there. Then thundershowers started playing spoiled sport then and we just saw the south entrance of the central park and decided to stay away from adventure since we had costly electronic equipment with us and more importantly due to other factors of Ben's family. We decided to go back. Another taxi to the parking lot where the taxi driver was a paki. We found that most of the Cabbies in New York are either Pakistanis or Indians and some others.

We were much relaxed to see that the parking had cost us only $14 unlike the anticipated $38 because of some early bird offer; and the website was true! And the travel back to Morris town started amidst the rain, and we figured out that it was bright sunlight in New Jersey... And back home by 6 PM.

And all through the trip, I missed my dear daughter Amiya & Kannu. I wish they are with me...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Boris & a few Indian Techies

I was contemplating on whether to write this post or not; later decided that I should. Because, this shows how badly some of us behave and take things for granted. This is an incident that happened on Thursday, the 7th June 2007 at the hotel where I stay in Morrisplains, NJ - Candlewood suites.

Though Candlewood is an American hotel, there is nothing American about it except the names. All the employees who work there are either Mexicans or Eastern Europeans; more than 80 pct of people who stay in this hotel are Indians of which 70 pct belong to the category "Techies". As I climb-up or lift-up to my 3rd level room, the fragrance of sambar, rasam, indian masala and maggi welcomes me and makes me feel home.

And who is Boris?
Boris is the midde-aged Mexican cabbie... rather the driver of the complimentary shuttle (station-wagon) that plies from the hotel to pre-defined destinations every week day. His day starts with dropping people from the hotel to the railway-station and the Pfizer office at 7:30 AM, comes back to pick the people to Honeywell at 8AM, and then another trip to some other offices at 9AM. He has a similar routine in the evenings - A very nice chap; has an opinion about anything and everything in the world (if not anything; atleast f*** them) and more than anything, speaks his mind regardless of the place or situation.

As a quick pre-curser to the story, we got late to office on wednesday coz one Indian Techie (hereby referred as IT) who had to take the 7:30 AM shuttle to Pfizer missed it and demanded that he should taken to the Pfizer Office at 7:50 AM when Boris came back to pick the Honeywell crowd. He oblidged and we got late. Pfizer is actually walkable from the hotel, just half a mile on the same side of the road, but driving takes around 10 minutes.

And here is what happened on that fateful thursday.

Boris (BO) comes in at 7:55 AM; we all get in. And the IT tries to getin.

BO: Maaan.. u no gonna get in now. I have a schedule; I gonna meet my schedule.

IT: Why? You dropped me yesterday naa?

BO: I did a favor maaan... d'you know that? I did a favor... you gonna better catch the 7:30 time... I gotta schedule to meet.. (to us) u'no guys... i drop this jerk yesterday and he just say thank you and walk off... these guys just come over and....(sound fades)

IT: I think you can drop us today also... onnly one more day naa...

BO: You better close that door maann... I gotta guys waiting here and I gonna meet my schedule... you guys just gonna come over and d'maand things... maan.... do you know that i did a favor? now you close the door.. i gotta go...

IT: Yes, I know you did a favor, do a favor today also naa...

BO: maan... just close the door... u d'maand a favor... i gotta schedule to meet... u guys just come oer and have no idea what the **** (showing a finger) is going on here... close the door maan...

The door closes... Boris looks into the mirror and finds Mak (Adaikappan Meiyyappan from Honeywell) in the van and then to him...

BO: Mak, my dear frriend... I'll drrop you anny time... coz, u r my frriend

Mak: Thank You Boris

BO: Those jerks...(sound fades..)

Boris puts on the radio and then after a second, shows his desperation and switches to the tape where he has his favourite songs...

"Habeebee... Habeebee... " - reminded me of the song with Mohanlal & Sreenivasan in the film "Chandralekha - Maanathae Chandiranothoru..." the very same one...

And we raced to the Honeywell Corporate Headquarters on Columbia Road.

Note: Information technology workers a.k.a computer programmers are generally referred to as "Techies"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My New Jersey Diary - A travel log #1

I have been transferred to our New Jersey Office for a period of 1 year starting 4th June 2007. Unlike my earlier travel this is for a quite a long time, and I thought I would write a travel log... though I am not sure how long it would be before I call it quits to writing... even though... as long as it goes... let it go.

This is my travel log...

On the night of 2nd July, I stepped out of `Swapnakoodu` with a heavy luggage and a much heavier mind. I am going to be away from my family for a month until they joins me in New Jersey. I did my check in at 10 PM for my 2AM flight to New Jersey via Frankfurt. After the check in & prior to immigration, there is an area in Bangalore Airport where you can meet the people who have come to say farewell to you across a steel fence. Amiya, my princess wanted to come to me across the fence and was nagging for that. My heavy mind started becoming heavier with the guilt of leaving her & her mom; even though it is for a month. The security check was OK; I declared my camera at the customs so that I wouldn't have an issue while coming back, though the customs officer told me that there is no need to declare anything. The long wait for the flight started then. I realized that 10PM was too early to check in for a 2 AM flight...

Before the boarding for my flight started, there was a Singapore airlines to Singapore, Thai airways to Bangkok, Air India to Singapore and Air France to Paris (this was simultaneous to our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt)... around 1200 people crowded in a hall of size of a mini auditorium... very hot, sweating and people inching for space. I managed to get a seat because I chose to check in earlier and my plans to call home before I boarded the flight was shot down by seeing the queue on the ONLY available telephone booth there and the serpentine queues...

At around 1 AM, the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt taxied straight into the only terminal gate and it was this huge Boeing 747 aircraft (also known as jumbo jet in local parlance) the large double-decker flight. The configuration for economy class was not as good as British Airways one that I took last time... the simple reason is that it does not have the personal entertainment system - A TV (a couple of them at strategic locations) mounted at the top like the ones in Kallada travels. The seats seemed to me more congested by the 3+4+3 configuration... YES 10 seats in a row!! And all of them were full. Jam packed on a weekend... I guess the whole IT crowd travels on a weekend!

After the other formalities, the flight started taxiing to the runway on time... 1:55 AM... taxied to the Marathahalli end of the runway and started racing towards the west... The running continued on and on and on and did not take off... and I started wondering whether it would run against the embassy golf links offices. Finally at the end of the runway, the huge metal bird slowly lifted and I could see the ring road very close...very very close... very slowly & steadily it gained height and by the time it reached the required altitude, almost 45 minutes had gone past.

I was very sleepy and wanted to catch up some sleep... but then they started serving dinner! Dinner at around 3 AM... I think they referred to the dinner in Germany because it would have been 11PM there then. They asked me for a choice and I said chicken and the food was better than vegetarian food that was some kind of steamed food made of corn (I peeped into my neighbor’s box). I had the food and that was just filling... not more; not less and then slowly got into a decent sleep... waking up occasionally and eyes red with headache.

After a long 7 hours, the captain announced the landing at the Frankfurt airport, it was 6:50 AM local time... the flight landed very smoothly and I dint even know that the flight landed until the brakes were applied... It was so smooth and I think Boeing 747 is a great flight...

The horrendous waiting at the Frankfurt airport started then. There was high vigil at the US terminals especially after few people were arrested plotting to do something at JFK airport, New York the previous day. My next flight to Newark was at 11:45 AM which got pushed to 1PM. It was really horrible waiting there... there is very little space in Frankfurt airport and people were like sitting and sleeping on the floor. The high security has added into the existing space constraints. I saw many people from Honeywell, at least 6-7 of them on their way back to India. I met my friend Rajesh in the airport on his way back to India and he gave me good company until his flight was announced.

During the waiting period, I felt very thirsty and wanted to buy a bottle of water, but the US security will keep it away and will not let me take it with me... so i was in a dilemma whether to spend euros on water or not. I finally decided to have a cappuccino. That fellow charged me 3 euros for a cup of kaapi.. pandaarakaalan.

After the long waiting period, 12 PM arrived and they let me into the terminal to check in. The view from the terminal was really gorgeous. The all glass pane could see most of the airplanes lined up and I took a chair that was facing right into the taxiway. The flight had not yet come then. After a few minutes; I saw my next flight, another Boeing 747 jumbo jet taxiing near to the gate which was on to my right side. It was being pulled by a special vehicle (looked like a cross breed of a truck & tractor) and it took a quick turn near the gate and started advancing towards me. That is a very special view... It came intriguingly closer and at one point I felt it is going to crash into the terminal. And it stopped a few meters away.

This flight was full of students from central Europe & Israel who were traveling to US for their higher studies. And it was not crowded. I was disappointed to see that I have to sit next to a couple; both of them triple my size and I dreaded about the next 7 hours of flying... It was then the airhostess came over and asked me whether I would like to shift to another seat in the middle row... Though I initially hesitated; later when I saw the row of seats, I could not refuse the offer... the whole row was empty... 4 seats and me. After take off, I can keep the hand rests upright and can lie down... And I took them. After take off; they served lunch at around 2PM and I had a good lunch along with scotch and caught up with some more sleep.

It was uneventful & boring through the whole 7 hours except for the last 30 mins. The captain announced that we are nearing Newark and they are expecting thunderstorms in the evening and the weather is cloudy. While flying above somewhere near Boston, the aircraft got into an air-pocket. It was a terrifying experience. For around 5 seconds, the plane did a free fall... The kids in the aircraft started screaming & howling and I saw an Indian aunty (who must be going to visit her children) saying her prayers... eyes closed and quickly chanting something... People become really funny when they see uncertainty in front of them; especially when it comes to your life

A few minutes more and we landed at the Liberty International Airport in Newark, NJ 15 mins ahead of schedule (despite starting 1 hr late) the immigration took another 40 mins and finally I was out in the lobby at 3:30 PM local time. I was looking for my friends Jobin & Susha since they had promised to come & pick me up. And I couldn't find him there initially. Lucky that I carried some loose change with me, I could call him. I tried a couple of times and I couldn't reach him and I exhausted my coins. Then I decided to find my own way and took a taxi to Candlewood suites in Morris plains. The taxi guy was an Indian and was really helpful though he had to rely on the GPS since he himself did not know the route.

After I checked into the hotel, I called Jobin and found out that he was caught in a huge traffic pile up and by the time he reached the hotel, I had left and he still was at the airport then looking for me. They came over to my hotel and we went out to do some basic shopping for the day to day survival - bread; milk; cereals and fruits. We had our dinner at the Mexican restaurant near to my hotel and finally I came back to catch some sleep by 9:30 PM.

And interestingly, the sunset here is now around 9PM and it would be bright day light until then...More to go in the following editions...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hooray, I am a PMP!

I just completed my first Certification in professional life. I have been certified by the Project Management Institute(PMI) as a Project Management Professional(PMP) on 21st May 2007. It had been a long and tiresome push & pressure from the management and this year it got officially listed in my goals for 2007; which means no escape... I have no chance to dodge it any more.

Personally, I dont believe in certifications. Especially after I interviewed an OCP 5 years back who did not even know the basics of programming in PL/SQL. And that is why I never had any certifications in my close to 8 years of life as a Software Engineer (trainee, junior, senior, principal & now senior principal). And now why this? This is a message; a message to people who believed that people like me cannot do it - especially because I never had any certifications before.

And finally yes; money! I should admit, I am greedy, I need lot of money. And there is a long story behind it - I dont want to open the pandora box here, because it would require a space in the weekly columns for a year... long story(Neenda katha)... Sahana samarathindae oru neenda adhyaayam... I dont know whether it helps me at my present job, but definitely yes, when I decide to hop, it would.

More than anything else; this would help me to keep my name like "Munnabhai, MBBS" - "Santosh Subramanian, PMP" :)

Note: Text in this font is Malayalam, my mother tongue

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Remember - A poetry by CG Rossetti

This is a poetry by Christina Georgina Rossetti (I am sure none of us would have forgotten her from the poetry classes in our highschool!) and is very close to my heart. Every time I read through this again and again, it feels more and more closer to me...


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far into the silent land;
When you can no longer hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

- Christina Georgina Rossetti

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Corporate, Politics and a few Puppets

Bitching, bitching & bitching...

Is that the only way to get over it? And what is that constructive way to get over this whole mess? Ahh yes... sportsman spirit! What we need here is sportsman spirit - to effectively get over it and be back in the ring.

Sometimes you find very smart people; And there are others who think they are smart; Poor guys, I can only pity them. Because all they can do is to pull strings and they feel that they are good at it. Poor souls! And they walk into the real booby traps exposing themselves!

And now, why am I cribbing, having known the terrain? Atleast my father does not have cancer & my mother is not down with ulcer and I dont have to get my sister married off with the dollars in tow.

I feel depressed of only one thing. Somebody starts this game, it is like the termites; it goes on and on until it swallows the whole organization. It is like the religion card the politicians play; somebody plays the card and every other person goes on defensive with their own cards. Trust, teamplay, relationship, sportsman spirit, all of them are at stake. And at the cost of?

We need to recognise and identify these weeds in the organization before they start breeding and outgrow the real professionals. They are like the bacteria, and breeds very fast and slowly sets up a "company" - like the one of ram gopal verma...

Anyways, the parting shot is that it is short lived, and let the poor fellas have some fun.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Another New Year and some ruminations

Another Vishu passes by… And without much fanfare and without any major excitement; it turns out to be another lazy weekend.

Sometimes, I wonder when is that me and many of my acquaintances (friends and others) have developed this indifference to festivals. As any nostalgic soul like me who always like to live in the ruminations of the past, I too take a deep breath, sip a cup of tea and then let it drown.

It was so exciting during my childhood days when we wait eagerly for Vishu so that we can light crackers, the sparklers and lots of them. We wake up at 2 AM to see the Vishukkani – The auspicious first sight during the year – prepared by my achchamma and then the most interesting part, the Vishukkaineettam – The fresh 1 rupee and 10 rupee notes that we, children, receive from the elders as a token of prosperity, and then run to the courtyard to have a blast with the lights, sparklers and the fireworks! We even had competition among the kids on who will burst the first cracker during the dawn. The fresh notes would be preserved in our text books, mostly mathematics text books because they were the thickest ones among the six subjects.

“Nowadays, people treat/live every day as a festival and there is no difference – hence the indifference”, my granny explained and my conscience kept telling me that it is something more. It can’t be only this. We all have developed a sense of indifference for everything – A sense of fear for failure – A feeling that it is better to die than to fail. And I am really disturbed by this. We are being overcautious about everything and we pretend to be indifferent – and that is more dangerous – We “pretend” to be indifferent; where we actually are more than cautious and careful about events, functions and all related things, but are not ready to admit – May be of false pride, may be of fear of failure or may be of peer pressure.

And I take another deep breath, sip another cup of tea and let this drown…

By the way, may this Vishu bring all of my friends, acquaintances, well wishers, people whom I know, whom I do not, and everybody else – peace, happiness, prosperity, health and wealth

Note: Vishu is the Malayalam New Year that starts on 14th/15th of April every year. This also denotes the season for seeding for the first crop during the year. Achchamma is paternal granny

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Taxation Simplified - As explained by an economics professor

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until on day, the owner threw them a curve.
"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got TEN times more than I!"
"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison.
"We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Professor of Economics University of Georgia

Friday, March 02, 2007

Linguistic Chauvinism

Pretty recently, I came across this new word – Linguistic Chauvinism

For long, I had been trying to describe what had been happening with the 2 south Indian states – Karnataka & Tamilnadu. I am not sure whether this is a new addition to the dictionary, but this clearly, in one word, explains what is happening around.

Indians, traditionally had been known for their tolerant culture and heritage – A history of onslaught by the Aryans first, then the Mughals and finally the Missionaries and even after all these we live in peace and harmony as a global community. Off late, the chaos in the two states, on the basis of a river, on the basis of the language they speak has caught everybody’s attention.

Whose asset is a river anyway? What if Mother Nature decides not to rain the catchments of this river for a couple of years? What have we done to replenish the nature and the river and not end up killing it? Who is talking about forestation? But when it comes to reaping the benefits, everybody needs a piece of the pie.

In my early days of childhood, I had seen a river die. There was a river named “Nila” (also known as Bharathapuzha in the colloquial usage) which was once the largest/longest river in Kerala. It had inspired quite a lot of poets and writers during its pink time. Now, the river is no more… Only the sand dunes exist telling a tale of a dead river. People call it “Nila Highway”; because it is a long broad stretch of sand with bridges and pump stations reminding the new generation that… Once upon a time, a river existed here… And during monsoons, it is more of a storm water drain.

Coming back to the original point, what does language has to do with rivers – other than that the language speaking population who they benefit out of them? Nothing. Then why is all this “hoo haa” created on this issue? The answer is simple. Lack of Vision. Our so called elected leaders do not have a vision beyond setting the stage for winning the next election and in the process accumulate wealth! They need something to keep the public (aam janata) busy so that this would hide their inefficiencies. Why can’t we share the national resources? Is a Kannadiga’s blood different from that of a Tamilian? Or Is a Tamilian’s thirst worse than Kannadiga’s? This realization has to happen. And the only way to do this is education. Educate people; Assist them to have a broader perspective of things.

And why are we electing these people again and again? The voting majority in urban areas is less compared to the rural areas. Why? The answer is simple – Apathy. When asked to choose between a devil and sea, people chose to have a cup of tea at home and enjoy the holiday with family rather than going out to stand in the queue and cast the vote. The recent outburst of a prominent JD(S) leader to the urban populace in Bangalore explains that. His populist drama does not sell with educated people. Hence his frustration.

Somebody told me that there is a provision in the constitution where you can go to the polling booth and decide not to vote for anybody – because there is no eligible candidate. Your vote will be counted as Nil. And if the percentage of Nil votes is more than a certain percentage of the total electoral rolls, the election is considered void. At present, the voting system does not provide the anonymity of such cases and hence people would not turn up; scared of being a political target and other consequences. If the EC can provide this Nil vote as an option in the ballot and provide anonymity in such cases, I am sure lots of the political dirt can be cleaned up.

However, I learned a new word to express the current socio-political situation in South India - Linguistic Chauvinism

Friday, February 09, 2007

What Is Intelligence, Anyway?

This is an interesting read which even made me a little uneasy as a reader – Thought I should share this to more people.

What Is Intelligence, Anyway?
By Isaac Asimov

What is intelligence, anyway? When I was in the army, I received the kind of aptitude test that all soldiers took and, against a normal of 100, scored 160. No one at the base had ever seen a figure like that, and for two hours they made a big fuss over me. (It didn't mean anything. The next day I was still a buck private with KP - kitchen police - as my highest duty.)

All my life I've been registering scores like that, so that I have the complacent feeling that I'm highly intelligent, and I expect other people to think so too. Actually, though, don't such scores simply mean that I am very good at answering the type of academic questions that are considered worthy of answers by people who make up the intelligence tests - people with intellectual bents similar to mine?

For instance, I had an auto-repair man once, who, on these intelligence tests, could not possibly have scored more than 80, by my estimate. I always took it for granted that I was far more intelligent than he was. Yet, when anything went wrong with my car I hastened to him with it, watched him anxiously as he explored its vitals, and listened to his pronouncements as though they were divine oracles - and he always fixed my car.

Well, then, suppose my auto-repair man devised questions for an intelligence test. Or suppose a carpenter did, or a farmer, or, indeed, almost anyone but an academician. By every one of those tests, I'd prove myself a moron, and I'd be a moron, too. In a world where I could not use my academic training and my verbal talents but had to do something intricate or hard, working with my hands, I would do poorly. My intelligence, then, is not absolute but is a function of the society I live in and of the fact that a small subsection of that society has managed to foist itself on the rest as an arbiter of such matters.

Consider my auto-repair man, again. He had a habit of telling me jokes whenever he saw me. One time he raised his head from under the automobile hood to say: "Doc, a deaf-and-mute guy went into a hardware store to ask for some nails. He put two fingers together on the counter and made hammering motions with the other hand. The clerk brought him a hammer. He shook his head and pointed to the two fingers he was hammering. The clerk brought him nails. He picked out the sizes he wanted, and left. Well, doc, the next guy who came in was a blind man. He wanted scissors. How do you suppose he asked for them?"

Indulgently, I lifted by right hand and made scissoring motions with my first two fingers. Whereupon my auto-repair man laughed raucously and said, "Why, you dumb jerk, He used his voice and asked for them." Then he said smugly, "I've been trying that on all my customers today." "Did you catch many?" I asked. "Quite a few," he said, "but I knew for sure I'd catch you." "Why is that?" I asked. "Because you're so goddamned educated, doc, I knew you couldn't be very smart."

And I have an uneasy feeling he had something there.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hello Hello Check :)

Somebody told me that I can configure my blog in such a way that it would publish the material if I send an email.

With an inquisitive & pessimistic mind, I couldn’t help but trying it myself J