© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcoming the New Year

Another year went by... with its share of ups & downs.
And it is already 2009 at some parts of the world while I write this, we share messages and wishes for a very 'Happy' New Year...

There was a phase in my life when we partied (read as get drunk...) the whole night, have count downs and even light fire crackers at the middle of the night to welcome the New Year. The New Year never used to be a good start; thanks to the swearing of the neighbors who lost their sleep & worse got startled in the middle of night due to the fire crackers and finally thanks to Bangalore, the long lasting barking of the canines that followed the crackers. That was never a botheration, but celebrate - was the motto.

I have realized that over a period of time, the whole fizz of this celebration with me has gone over, and to my own surprise, I responded to a friend today morning who asked me about my New Year celebration plans, I made this bland statement - "New Year?? Arrgh, just another day. Whats the big deal about that..." And he was taken for surprise to the level of asking me if everything was OK with me.

Sometimes I ask this question to myself - What should I be happy about 2008 that I take into the New Year? Family relations getting staler day by day? Or the credit of 10+ terrorist attacks in my homeland? Or the fear factor that leads to the fact that I regularly get "randomly" selected for additional security screening even at domestic flights in the richest country? Or the fact that we still continue to waste food & other resources where a significant percentage of people in this world does not have access to even clean drinking water? Or even the fact that religious fanatics are showing their thump on the nose to humanity and taking over control of the people by literally running parallel governments?

There is this point of the seeing the glass as half full or half empty based on each one's thought process - whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. But here is my point - Irrespective of whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, the truth is that the glass is only half full where it ought to be really FULL. There are no excuses for having it just half full when we have the calibre to make it really full.

I hope this New Year be a fresh start (as always!) to hold up our values in building humility, resilience and appreciation for what each one of us is and have.

A salute to humanity!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Read in an email...

We need not worry about those who have come through the boat;
Its hightime we start worrying about those who have come through vote (for note).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And the list continues...

A whole lot of my colleagues here had been asking about Mumbai & showing their solidarity & support to pray for the victims of the barbarious act. A handful of them were actually surprised by the way I responded as 'yet another one' - only people like us know how these attacks has become a part & parcel of the common man's life & it made sense to take a look back of the attacks in 2008.

  1. January 2008 - Terrorist attack against Rampur CRPF camp - 8 dead
  2. May 13, 2008 - Serial blasts in Jaipur, Rajasthan - 68 dead
  3. July 25, 2008 - Serial blasts in Bangalore, Karnataka - 1 dead
  4. July 26, 2008 - Serial blasts in Ahmedabad, Gujarat - 57 dead
  5. September 13, 2008 - Serial blasts in New Delhi - 26 dead
  6. September 27, 2008 - Serial blasts in New Delhi - 3 dead
  7. September 29, 2008 - Blast in Modassa, Gujarat - 1 dead
  8. September 29, 2008 - Blast in Malegaon, Maharashtra - 5 dead
  9. October 21, 2008 - Blast in Imphal, Manipur - 17 dead
  10. October 30, 2008 - Serial blasts in Assam - 77 dead
  11. November 26, 2008 - Terrorists open fire at public in Mumbai - ~200 dead so far (many critical as on date)

And the value of 463 lives (in 2008)? Absolutely nothing!

Apart from making the general statement of blaming ISI & Pakistan & Jehadis for the blast, our leaders did nothing! Now I hear that we had intelligence information about this shoot-out from the fishermen folks after their boat was hijacked - and what did our police/intelligence do? NOTHING.

In the past years, we saw terrorist aggression in many other countries and what makes them different from us? Other chose to ACT upon information and thus prevented many more to come. People, parties, leadership & the intelligence stood together for their country.

And us? The latest I hear that the DCP denied that there was any prior information about the Mumbai attack & the fishermen is making up stories. And I can guess how easy it is to wipe out a complaint from the books if there is a political reason to do so. We have seen cases like 'Abhaya murder' case go on without the culprits being punished for 16 years - reasons are political.

I dont have many choices at the ballot box - It is like chosing between the devil & the sea. But I hear there is a section in our constitution that talks about null votes - which means the voter can decide that none of the candidates are fit to be chosen.

Additionally a provision should be made to ensure that a percent cut-off like 5-10% of null votes means that re-election needs to be conducted and the cost of such a re-election should be recovered from the present candidates because they denied the opportunity for a qualified one.

I don't know - It is my frustration talking...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sad, shocked & as blank as it can get

My mind is as blank as it can get after hearing the shocking news about the terrorist attack in Mumbai. Does killing innocent public help anyone get their revenge? or does it make any statement? I fail to understand what drives the mind of such people.

More than anything, I am baffled to see the whole fraternity fail in their intelligence (everyone as a team), this being the 8th ot 9th terrorist attack in India in 2008 where the common man is targetted. As expected, our leadership has come out with statements of deploring the incident, condemning the incident & all sorts of mud slinging.

I am totally at loss of words. My prayers are with all of you who lost your dear and near ones or got injured in the attack on Wednesday.

What do we see on their face? Hope? or What next? or the indifference that nothing more can be expected from the government - except 'hot' statements?

Photo courtesy: Mathrubhumi

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some secular thoughts...

I am a Hindu by birth. I am a Hindu by my beliefs. But I am not a religious lunatic. My beliefs & my faith are very personal to me. And I don’t wear my religion on my sleeves and I am a strong believer of secularism. And I believe we can co-exist. Before writing this post, I had thought about whether to do this or not - for a long time because I feel I am going to be ‘profiled’(1) soon by who ever reads my blog. But I am what I am – so beat it!

Do we have agendas in our life? It is quite possible that we have goals in life ranging from who you want to be 10 years from now to how can I secure my next meal? Can we call our personal goals in life as agenda? What differentiates somebody’s goal from an agenda?

I see a lot of secularists around me in my day to day life; or rather people who call themselves secular, media who call themselves secular, organizations that call themselves secular. Off-late, I am getting a feeling that many of the so called secularists think that being secular means being the one who ‘dares’ to bash up the majority. Being that ‘smart-ass’ who only sees problems with anything and everything the other does and adding that typical twist in the tale. The permanent “devil’s advocate”. To be more specific, in the Indian Context (Kerala in particular), secularism has reached an all time low which means that any Tom, Dick & Harry who can talk loud and shout on how they think Hindus in India are proponents of in-house extremism (read as terrorism) – They are secular! What a Shame!

And on the other side, there are a bunch of maniacs who believes that ‘Indian culture’ has to be safe in their hands & the solution for that is to send every non-Hindu back to their original roots. While it is true that many religions, faiths that came to India thousands of years ago have chosen to stay with us and we embraced them as family and we co-existed for all these years. We are still known to be one of the most resilient & civilized communities ever known to man kind. I (a south Indian) might have many things common to my Muslim/Christian neighbor than a Hindu in the North or Eastern India. And this is the most talked about 'unity in diversity' of India. The culture or the ‘way of life’ as you call it - that everyone chose to adopt & live with

I condemn and do not subscribe to any kind of aggravation in the name of faith or belief that amounts to intentionally or unintentionally overstepping on anybody else’s beliefs or faith. Some do it covertly and some others in the open. The guys who do it covertly are the more polished ones that create support in terms of money, media and education. And they know how to be politically correct to ensure that they stay within the boundaries of the law of the land, but still push through it. 61 years into Independence, I am wondering if it is time to re-write a few sections of our constitution.

Do we still need caste/religion based reservations? Is it really helping the real needful? Or has it got to a rotten state, only to be another money minting business in the hands of religious leaders and vote bank politicians? We left casteism & untouchability two generations behind us – and it looks like we are getting our children ready to really go back in time there. A lot of examples to quote here starting from the 7th standard textbook controversy(2), compulsory teaching of subjects not prescribed by the state department (e.g. moral science for non followers) in minority controlled schools, racial profiling in similar schools in the pretext of uniform codes that amounts to banning the use/wearing of any commonly accepted religious symbols of other beliefs to school – e.g. head scarf, bindi et all. These activities have really started undermining the resilience and is really testing the patience of the so called majority.

As far as I understand from my modest upbringing, Hinduism consists of a very loosely coupled set of beliefs and is more a way-of-life than a religion with a four wall boundary & a binary approach (us vs. them). I don’t remember my parents or anyone else telling me when I grew up that I would be penalized for not going to a religious place once a week or once a month by denying me a place for burial or revoking the heaven for me when I die. It is more of a faith that deeply intertwined into our day to day lives and I believe a lot of other religions have also adopted a large part of this 'way-of-life' being a part of the Indian culture – vidyarambham – is a classic example.

Given this background, I strongly believe that the real people who help maintain the secularism in Kerala is this set of majority and not really the Congress or the Communists or the Janata party or any other Political party who proclaims themselves as the custodians of secularism. We see their secularism in colors of orange & green & blue & yellow flags flying high during the elections. I feel sick in my stomach when I read about secularism in election manifestos that has a Rashid or an Abdul contesting from Malappuram, a Chaco or Mathew contesting from Kottayam and a Narayanan or a Sekharan contesting from Kollam – irrespective of which ever party they claim allegiance to. It doesn’t come to me as a surprise that the common man has distanced himself from the politics and found solace in self proclaimed swamis and vicars and mullas who don’t give a damn about society or national integrity or co-existence but just to fill up their pockets, spreading religious hatred and sucking up to their promoters sitting out of Vatican or Pakistan or Gujarat.

With all due respect to the blogger community, there are many bloggers out there who talk about these issues from a text book stand point, from the constitution, quoting IPC sections and other academic stand points. And I don’t know how many of them face it in reality. I am really starting to get worried about the society into which my daughter will grow up to, in the next 15 - 20 years – (beyond which I expect that she will acquire the maturity to handle issues on her own). She is a half Hindu through me & half Christian through her mother (a living example of Jeevan). I am seriously worried about the crisis that she might face in a severely polarized society that is even intolerant to ‘Jeevan, the Casteless’ in a textbook(2), constantly subjected to provocation by each other and the related smearing by the lousy “secularists”.

And that makes me rethink on my plans to return back, invest or do anything worthwhile in this piece of land called Kerala – It may be much better to stay in the city to be a Bangalorean & ruminate the past & nostalgic memories of my village & homeland.


(1)An interesting trend that I see off-late (especially on the web media) is profiling. It has to be either us or them – always binary. If you are not a communist, then you are a capitalist; if you are not a believer, then you are a communist; if you don’t agree with what I say, then you are one among them. And the latest among that nowadays is that if I don’t massage the minority’s bottom for anything and everything and condemn the majority, then I am not secular – which indirectly means I am a ‘Hindu extremist’ – I totally fail to understand this crude and narrow point of view that ‘if I don’t agree with you then you are one among them’.

(2) There was a large controversy that was caused by a chapter introduced in the 7th Standard Social Science text book of Kerala syllabus - The Chapter name can be roughly translated as 'Jeevan, The Casteless'. The chapter progresses through an admission interview of a child named Jeevan whose parents are from different religions and the related topics - underlying the fact that which religion you belong to is secondary, but thought provoking to children to start looking above race, creed & religion to humanity. Read more about it here in one of my older posts.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Change that you can believe in...

Finally, the United States of America voted for the "Change that you can believe in..." by a landmark decision of having a non-White as an American President. One of the key statements that stay fresh in my mind from Obama's speech is that: - "The rule by instilling fear in people is over and this is a fresh start, with hope & change that the Americans can believe in".

While I neither know nor have any say in the American political system, all I hope from the new president of this nation is that they stop acting the "world police" and act more responsibly towards the rest of the world, take definitive steps for peace among countries & start sharing resources by giving the shrewd "interests" a back seat.

The world is the world. The world is not only America!

Friday, October 24, 2008

When it hits hard...

Off-late, lots has been spoken about the world economy, how it behaved when the Wall Street tumbled and how people had lost money. Worse to come, banks are collapsing attributing to a lot of people losing money and as the panic spreads, people are pulling out their money out of the markets based on the fundamental factor that – during a crisis, the man with liquid cash in hand always comes out smiling! At the same time, it is also a known truth that a bear run is the best time to invest – if you know where to invest wisely.

There is a fear that is gripping the market which is preventing people from investing and spending and that is one of the reasons why the crisis is slowly spreading into other market segments. Sales are low, cash flow is very poor and you will never know when one of your biggest customers is going to declare bankruptcy… There are shadows of layoffs looming around and everyone is scared! It is difficult to smile through tough times, but there are some observations that I feel worth recording.

I spend a lot of time in office everyday (not by choice, but attributed to my schedule)… coming into office around 7:30 in the morning and leaving back home at 5:30 – I used to find the parking lot 25% filled up when I come in and when I leave at 5:30, mine would be one among the 10% of the cars left in the parking lot. In the last 3 weeks, I find it lucky to find a spot in the parking lot in the morning and I have to park my car in the “pit” (Another parking lot which is a 5 min walk from our building) and today – being a Friday, when I left office I still have more than half the lot filled up. Usually, the parking lot gets half emptied by noon on Fridays…

When I got transferred to the head quarters in the US during last year June, I had seen that there were direct trains that ply from our city to New York every day. And my wife takes that train daily to work. There are 3 stations that are closer to where we stay: - (Morristown --> Convent --> Madison) – in the same sequence while going to New York. So depending on the timing when we get out of the house, we decide on which station to target so that she can catch the (7:14 AM --> 7:20 AM --> 7:24 AM) train. I had noticed that during March this year, the peak hour train was upgraded to a double-decker train. And as on today, there are 3 double-decker trains running on this line. This had been our regular routine until recently when my wife told me that she has to catch the train from Morristown lest she would not find a seat. She was mentioning that she would be lucky if she gets a seat from convent and she would end up standing all the way until New York if she gets in from Madison! So, double the capacity on 3 trains and it is already brimming!! What does this tell us – given the fact that though the gasoline prices had gone up, now they have come down significantly?

I feel that many a times, there is no point talking about food wastage to a person who has more than sufficient food to eat 4 times a day. But when you start feeling the pinch of what hunger means… not by watching UN videos in the comfort of an office, but in reality… that is when it really matters. You need to really feel the “Call of the hunger” to really start appreciating the resources that we get. I tell my wife sometimes that hunger is not that feeling that you have when you refuse to eat food by picking on something but it is that feeling when you really want to eat something and you don’t have anything nor have the money to buy anything…

I hope we start to learn to share – A first hand experience is always helpful!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tsunami - And how many types!

This must be a little funny.

The first time I heard the word tsunami was way back in May 2002. Yeah, a good 2.5 years before the Dec 2004 tsunami created havoc in the coastal India, Thailand and Malaysia. I was working with a giant investment bank then on a migration project and we had staffed up using a man power consulting company in Bangalore called tSunami Infotech (The spelling is not a typo, that is how they spelt the name). I used to pronounce the word with an additional stress on the 't'... trying to say it as t`sshunami... and had tried to find out the meaning of the word. Google wasn't as famous as it is now and worse, we did not have internet in office... All I could figure out was that it is a japanese equalent for a big wave...

And I am pretty much sure that the common man never heard of such a thing until a real one knocked down houses, killed people and created big time havoc... The kind of damage that such a wave of water could bring in was much more that we could comprehend - somthing beyond words, beyond explanation.

In the post Dec 2004 world in India, I have seen this word being used synonymous to many things that has a hard hitting effect - In India, the media in particular. The first time it was used in American politics was when the Democrats had a sweeping victory over Republicans in the US house of representatives and the US Senate during the mid term elections in Nov 2006. And later the same term was used to refer the Republicans sweeping over the power from Democrats in the mid term election of 1994.

In the malayalam media, tsumani had been used to connote a lot of land-slide effects in political, social, cultural and recently the economic scenario.

And what prompted me to make this post here is a recent malayalam news in a famous newspaper that the "ecomonic tsumani" is all set to hit the indian markets... Ohh wow! That is really a wrong statement to the common man who normally does not follow the dynamics of the international economics (not politics) and he starts stocking up food supplies expecting that the great depression is going to hit him again!

The crisis in the US is primarily caused by incorrect lending practices by the banks and poor risk management. It is well understood that the economies are interconnected and they all would face the ripple effect of this "bubble-burst", but I feel that the media should behave upto a minimum responsibility.

If somebody is keen on knowing what really happened in the US market, see this simple illustration below created by Market Place.

And another one here...

The credit crisis as Antarctic expedition from Marketplace on Vimeo.

References: -
Wikipedia - About tsunami political usages in the US
Presentation Zen - Link to Maket Place presentation
Market Place - Presentation Videos

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Monster at Home!

Finally this had to come...

I was amused, feeling funny and at the same feeling guilty about myself after what happened at home last night.

Amiya had been listening to a lot of stories at school offlate as a part of her Language skills training and one of the stories include the one that has a Mermaid, a Monster and a King. (I forget the name of the story... poor me...). It was her birthday party last weekend and we had taken a lot of photographs and video which I bundled together into a Video CD by adding some background scores and stuff like that.

I was doing a play-back of this video last night while Amiya was sitting next to me on the couch. She suddenly turned around, touched my paunch and made this statement...

"You have a big kumba pappa... so you are the monster at home and I am the mermaid!!"

I was stunned for a moment by hearing that statement before breaking out into a laugh... I just couldn't control myself and I laughed my heart out... So, finally it looks like my kiddo is trying to tell me that it is time for me to check out my body & get back in shape...

Note: Kumba = Pot Belly in Malayalam

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Religion, Politics & Criminal Opportunism

Religion, Caste, Politics, Attacks based on race & creed - I am terribly disturbed on the events going on back at my home town. In July this year, a school teacher who was attending a cluster meeting was beaten to death by a group of 'protesting mob' against the 7th standard social science text book. It is not yet time to forget what happened in Marad, The attack & the counter attack in Gujarat (only the counter attack gets attention in the media & politics - minority appeasement), the outrageous acts of religious conversions in the North-Eastern States, Orissa & Karnataka and the counter attack waged by the Hindu extremists (even here only the counter attack gets attention in the media & politics - minority appeasement).

When do we wake up to the reality that the caste politics and the opportunism will not take us anywhere? The statements that some of our politicians made to the media after the school teacher incident was really disgusting.

A select few compiled from the web media is given below: -
  • “The incident is deplorable…”
  • “The incident is unfortunate”
  • “Opposition should take responsibility of this incident”
  • “Educational Bandh on Monday”
  • “Mob, React!!”
  • “Panakkad Thangal should apologize to the public!”
  • “The deceased was actually ill & he died of cardiac arrest”
  • “The government is responsible for the teacher’s death”
  • “A strike force will be formed to protect the teachers…”

Now, read through all these lines. Do we see a pattern of irresponsibility? Do we see a pattern of pointing fingers? Do we see a pattern of trying to extract political mileage?

This is what I like to call as “Criminal Opportunism”.

We can see opportunists in all walks of life. They are the people who do not have an opinion or position or stand on any of the issues around them. They just go with the tide. But what we see above is taking this into a totally different level - Of being "criminally" opportunistic by being insensitive to the feelings of the deceased family. Did the government succeed in bringing the criminals to justice? I have a feeling that they would be walking down happily because, at the end of the day, it is a political crime.

My friend Biju had written a short-story interlinking the various aspects of religion and the politics around that. He uses the life of a couple who comes from two different religious backgrounds to narrate the story & he has intricately woven the theme, the message and the point into the story. I could personally relate to the most of the challenges mentioned there. If you are interested and can read Malayalam, please read the story here.

The story ends with a question - When would we be able to live in a society where religion is personal in nature and politics is social in nature?

The true problem that we face in today's society is that we try to make religion social (all social interactions based on the caste & creed of the individual) and politics as personal (being silent or not vocal about what our expectations are from the fraternity called the government - Isn't that why we see all the dirty politicians going scot free? )

Side Note: I watched the movie - A Wednesday - last weekend and was delighted to see a good bollywood movie after Taare Zameen Par. The central theme was again revolution, on the similar lines of Rang de Basanti. Wonderful performance from Nasrudeen shah & Anupam Kher - It was a welcome break to see Anupam Kher in the powerful role and I am sure there are a lot of takeaways from the film on crisis management, control, strategy and over and above execution. The best part of the film is that it does not portray the police machinary in a bad light which adds to the strength of the film.

Now, for the leaders: - Before crying out that the movies are spreading wrong ideas of violence and revolution, try to fix your home. Set it straight and right - otherwise the days when what you see in the movie becomes a reality will not be very far...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh Mind, Relax please…

My friend Kummi (Senthil) keeps sending me emails every day with a one liner that is very thought provoking and insightful. He has setup the series as “Oh Mind, Relax please…” and today is the 1137th issue - phew! That is a long time! - Since he started sending out this on a daily (working day) basis. I am sure that these one-liners definitely touches somebody every day and even makes their day – He has, many times, made my day by these one/two liners.

What prompted me to write this post was for two reasons.
  1. Oh Mind, Relax please # 1137 has a very strong message – thought of sharing with my friends & readers
  2. To thank Kummi for his continuous efforts to reach out & make a change in your everyday life

Oh Mind, Relax please # 1137:-
We grow through experience if we meet life honestly and courageously.
This is how character is built…

Isn’t that a wonderful truth?

We all hear about the experience that people have. My colleagues talk to me about their professional experience, my dad talks to me about his experience in the defense & having seen the world, my brother talks to me about the experience of running a business, my wife talks to me about the experience of strained relationships, my mom talks to me about the experience of running a home, my friends talk to me about their experiences in life – ranging from bachelor day adventures to drug addiction to girl friends to almost everything, my manager(s) talks to me about their experience of working in multiple organizations, industries…

What do each of us really take away from these experiences? Are these experiences worth if we have not met the situation honestly and courageously? Did we chose to flow by the tide or did we meet them courageously, true to our heart?

These are questions that at some point of time, we should ask ourselves. And then you would find inner awakening, which will lead you to tranquility & peace.

May be that explains why we find a lot of experienced people around us - who are still immature, hypocritical and political.

Thank You Kummi: -
I am not sure if somebody had ever taken notice of the wonderful job that you are doing by reaching out to everybody on a daily basis, sending a sweet & short message which is equally thought provoking and sometimes even makes somebody’s day.

I wanted to let you know that you have made my day more than a couple of times in the last 5-6 years by these messages, and I profusely thank you for making that change in my life.

Thank you, my friend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Compelling Message with Great Representation - BANG on Target!

I stumbled upon Jeff Brenman's presentation on the larger concern of fresh water scarcity on the earth on Slideshare and I was really amazed by the simplicity of the representation that makes this one of the best presentations that I have seen till date! The way the whole presentation is structured, along with the compelling message that it sends sure reaches the audience BANG on target.


View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: design crisis)

This is an educational presentation exploring humanity's water use and the emerging worldwide water shortage. It is designed to act as a stand-alone presentation. Enjoy!

SlideShare Link

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Is Our Culture = Hypocrisy ?

I know that I am touching a raw nerve here! Much has been talked about the Indian culture in the global context and there is no doubt – we are all proud of what we are. But in the past few months (well, more than a few) when I see the stuff going around me, I tend to believe that we are slowing transforming into a big bunch of Hypocrites!

While I started writing this post I looked up on Wiki (being my favorite source of information) for a definition of a Hypocrite/Hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy (or the state of being a hypocrite) is the act of preaching a certain belief or way of life, but not, in fact, holding these same virtues oneself. For example, an adult telling children not to smoke cigarettes, even though the adult smokes

Now let’s try to look a few examples from the various facets of our day to day life.

1. I don’t have any issues….
I have married outside my ‘religion’ and that had created a lot of hullabaloos in my family when I announced my decision. I had heard stories from my mom on how she had been subjected to insult by the extended family by means of sarcastic comments & statements during family gatherings. Over a period of time, things got evened out because people had new stories to talk about – but the bitterness with quite a lot of the extended family continued. As an effort to straighten out things, I started reaching out to the people to understand what their problem was & to initiate dialogue to sort out things.

And to my surprise, nobody had any problem! And then who had the problem all these days? I guess it was me then… J. Being bitchy about somebody at their back, but start buttering out while you see them face on – And believe me, I personally know a lot my friends who had similar experiences in their lives... more than once!

2. Worshipped woman
Woman is worshipped – according to our culture. ‘Amma’ is widely considered the embodiment of the god that you can see, feel & touch.

I remember reading a few articles on the internet last year about the increasing divorce rates among the IT workers in India. The authors go on claiming that it has got to do more with the sedentary lifestyle & ‘viewing the computer for a long time’ that an IT professional normally does that leads to impotency which in turn results in divorces. Somebody even goes to the level of mentioning that the exposure to the western culture that IT brings is leading to a loose lifestyle.

I am not challenging the risks involved with leading a sedentary lifestyle, but I personally think that the increasing divorce rate has more to do with financial independence. The new arena of work opportunities has given the women the financial independence – which they never had earlier – to walk out of an abusive relationship. So, the couples (man or woman) do not necessarily have to put up (guilt/dependency) with the abusive nature of the partner.

So, two questions here – Are women REALLY worshipped? Second, do they still behave WORTHY enough for worship? – Some food for thought.

But no matter what, when some discussions happen about cultures, we still have our blood boiling about our ‘respect for woman’.

3. That is not OUR culture!
This one is my favorite! – Come Feb 14th every year, you find arson, stoning and all sort of things going on in pockets of India – protest against the Valentine’s Day! The main argument here is that this celebration is against our culture! To celebrate or not is a personal choice & I don’t intent to make any comments on that here.

But I personally know a little girl near my house in my home village who was just 16 years old while she committed suicide by drinking a bottle of pesticide – And she was 6 months pregnant! When it came to a situation that she can’t hide her growing belly anymore, she decided to end her life. Had she been educated of the pitfalls of engaging in unsafe & prenatal sex, had her parents been more open to talk about these things to her instead of considering that a taboo, I feel it would have turned out to be a different story. And many such stories does not even come out, if the parents are financially sound.

My point is that such things happen everywhere. Instead of pretending that this does not happen because it is not our culture, parents should take necessary steps in creating that bond with the children to have free dialogue & educate them. Leaving it to the culture could be a disaster - because it is not as it is perceived to be!

My daughter would be 3 in October this year & I was awed to hear from one of the parent in the school that in the curriculum for the Kindergarten they have a lesson on ‘Touch’. Helping the children to identify the different ‘touches’ and help them to realize what is appropriate & what is not.

So, isn’t providing the education right at the beginning & enable the children to deal with the world rather than playing the moral police of arson & stoning shops a better option? Why do we fail to see the obvious?

4. I am the perfect – all others are sloppy!
This is another that I see at my work place & constantly deals with on a day to day basis. We talk so much about separating the 'problem' from the 'personnel' while you have an issue to deal with. 80% of the people whom I deal with have some or other excuse of not having completed a particular work item. “ABC was supposed to give that component & I can only start after that, he has not completed yet” OR “PQR had a delay, so I am delayed” – The surprising factor is that it is never because of ME! I am the perfect man & nothing can be delayed or go wrong because of ME.

And the same people if they have something delayed from somebody else, you can hear statements like… “You know what? He is lazy. You can’t expect a timely delivery from him”… It was so easy to box somebody because of an instance… Couldn’t that ABC person or the PQR component be applicable to him too?

5. “I just had my tea”
I should say that this one is very specific to malayalis. You are visiting a friend’s house & as it is in the common tradition, they are offering you a drink – cold beverage or tea/coffee - & is asking for you if you have a specific liking for any of the choice. The immediate response (most common) is “We just had our tea a few minutes back”. And the fact might be that you had not had a chance to drink even a glass of water since you had your breakfast! I had raised eyebrows within my family when I say “Yes, I prefer tea, but I like to have a plain glass of water first!”. My question is that why do we need to show that formality? At least while we are with friends?

I don’t know – May be our 'unsaid culture' is to be hypocritical!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The falling leaves...

I need to visit our office in Des Plaines, Chicago, IL atleast once every month as a part of my new job. During these trips I get a lot of time for myself, and me especially being a person who likes solitude once in a while to recharge, have kind of started liking these trips. It was during one of these trips, I met Dave, the cab driver.

I had called for a taxi from my office to my hotel on my first day using a direct dial number available in the office telephone. The taxi came up on time & when I walked out, there was this elderly person, in his early 70s driving a
Dodge Grand Caravan who had stepped out of his cab & waiting for me with a big smile on his face. He was heavy built with lot of wrinkles on his face & my first impression was - "Is he going to drive me back to my hotel? No way!". He had this big smile & asked me the address. I promptly told him the hotel name in Schaumburg, IL which would be around 8-10 miles from my office - And he said he is not very sure of the directions and is trusting on my spatial orientation!

Gosh! I started thinking why I got into all of this... a very old man who could barely carry himself, driving a minivan, trying to take me, who has no clue of the geography of Chicago, to get into a hotel where I checked-in the previous midnight! Anyways, since it was too late for anything and I didn't want to dissappoint this elderly gentleman, I decided to hop in & take the risk.

He was very happy that I threw in my bag at the back & joined him at the front (I wasn't sure where I will end up - if I leave the whole navigation to him) and he started off with a conversation. A wide range of topics starting from foreign policies to tax rebates to war in Iraq to price increases to everything that is currently going on in America. I just kept on listening, occasionally giving my opinion when asked. Few things that really stuck with me are :-
  • Dave had served in the United States Navy for a brief amount of time
  • He was an electrician by trade & had worked as one for around 35-40 years before retiring
  • He lost 2 of his children in the War (One in Iraq & the other with some peace keeping initiative elsewhere)
  • He started to work AGAIN as a cab driver after the fuel prices started shooting up and it became increasingly difficult for him to meet his ends
  • He had undergone 2 open heart surgeries & has been advised not to go to work for more that 4 hrs at a stretch.
  • If he had a chance to get Mr.Bush near him sometime, he will smother him to... (God knows what will happen...)

Though I had read a lot of horror stories on the impact that the wars have created on familes, this was the first time that I got to meet a person who has a first hand experience and it moved me a lot. This gentleman, who had spent the whole of his life working, paying his taxes regularly, served time in the armed forces, lost 2 of his children who were just out of college to the wars because of the power politics in the international arena.

I felt very sorry for him & was thinking what I would have done, if I was in such a situation. I am definitely sure that I don't have that levels of resilience. Who knows, I might turn one if subjected to such a treatment... remember Senapathy in the Kamal Hassan movie -
Indian? Somebody rightly said - Criminals are not born, but they are made; by the society...

I used the google maps application in Blackberry to figure out where we are & used that to navigate back to the hotel. He was impressed by the device & mentioned that his employer had given him a GPS, but he is too old to learn how to use it... I did not know what to tell him. Finally, I reached my hotel, thanked him for his company & hospitality all through the drive. I took his number and told him that if I am in the city again & wants a ride somewhere during his working hours, I would call him.

The conversation left a hangover in me, which took more than a couple of days to get over with...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mind Speaks

I had a very interesting debate on parenting with a family friend of ours who visited us last night. Though the debate digressed into different tangents during the course of the debate, it brought out a lot of insights into the value system that each of us have & how they differ from person to person, family to family & even culture to culture.

The primary discussion started of with how we can raise our children as ‘good’. The first tangent was in terms of the differences in understanding of what it means to be good. The definition of good was different based on each of ours’ perception. While I stood the ground that good means being a ‘good human being who is complacent with what he/she is and who is empathetic to his environment consisting of their near & dear ones and being sensitive to the larger human population’ – (Phew! That is a large definition). Whereas the definition of ‘good’ for the other person was - ‘being financially sound and having unlimited access and capability to own most of the commonly nice things in the materialistic world’. The best part of the discussion-turned-debate was that we did not really define what our own understanding of good is – and went on putting forward points in to each of our argument.

We are a working couple, both of us being in the highly demanding IT world. It easily takes away at least 12 hours of your everyday time in some way or other. And I strongly feel that to raise a kid giving him/her the best, the family need to come to an understanding that one of them should go on the fast pedal while the other should do an easy sail so that it achieves the dual objectives…

1. ‘Quality time’ can be spent with the child
2. Backup in case of difficult work situations (e.g. you getting fired from work!)

Our friends who, after marriage, one of them decided to chose to be a house wife feels that it was a biggest mistake that they did. Because they felt ‘everything’ was in the reach for working couples but their way was more of compromises because they felt that they did not have the ‘reach’ that money can bring in & was a staunch believer that both husband & wife should step on the gas pedal & the environment would take care of the rest.

A fundamental assumption at this juncture for our friend’s argument is that a support ecosystem exists to support the endeavors of the family – which is partially true in most of the cases, but not ours!

And this led to the discussion on what is priority for each of us – Money (which can be quantified) or Quality of family life (tough to be quantified because they are subjective). During the discussion, somebody mentioned that I am making an assumption that one of the parent having decided to go slow on the career doesn’t mean they will spend quality time with children if they are not motivated to do so. That was a point that I totally overlooked. I was under the impression that the best thing that any parents would like to do would be to spend time with their children & they don’t really need a motivation factor to spend time with children. (Not an understatement because I am doing that currently & I just love that)

A raw awakening in our lives… Mind speaks…

The debate went on for some more time until one of us decided to raise the peace flag, raise a toast for the enriching debate & then decided to have our dinner…

The point that I want to make here is that mind is complex. When you start speaking your mind, you make a lot of unhappy people around you, but you will start finding inner peace.

And I am not surprised that even after centuries, we still fight on race & religion, we still have reservations, we still justify a murderer, we still talk about the human rights of a rapist, we still talk about the laws preventing voluntary death…

Yeah… The mind is complex…

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dysphemism, Cacophemism & Swearing

What happens when somebody swears at you? From the time it hits your ears, through the message getting transmitted to your brain, the brain deciphering them and you understanding the message, the message getting registered in the encyclopedia called your memory; working like a neural network, continously assimilating information and learning from the day to day activities...

Pretty interesting thought - right? Well, I had somebody swear at me very badly (for what ever reasons that I dont want to mention here) that it would be my last {something} before I die. WOW! What if people had such powers like the old saints in the epics of the Indian civilization - that somebody could turn somebody into a rock, or a buffalo or whatever according to their whims & fancies.

I was initially angered, then pained and then saddened by what I heard and I thought that 'time', the super healer would take away that from my mind. But wait! There is a new emotion that started to play after this incident. The emotion called fear. An unprecedented fear have started gripping me in every activity that I do. I had never felt such a fear based on swearings before (Now, dont start thinking that I am so bad so that people are continously swearing at me... LOL - just being candid) like I felt this time.

I had had a very close brush with death in the year 2003 which was a rude awakening for me. I learned that all it takes is just a few seconds... irrespective of what ever fort or career or money or muscle power that you have built up in life. And this is probably the first time I am being sweared at - after that incident. It kind of makes me feel how vulnerable I am - when it comes to matters like my need to live, the need to support my family, the need to support my kid until she gets on her own feet... I realize that I am not able to drive confidently and every other minute I think of a truck coming crushing on to me. I don't feel confident of getting into the pool or the beach - though I am a decent swimmer... I don't even feel comfortable walking on the foot path!

It is a psychology thing - I understand; and may be the more amount of the perpetual healer (time) will get me out of this... In my mother tongue (
Malayalam) we say something like "Aram pattunna vaaku (അറം പറ്റുന്ന വാക്ക്)" and I used to brush off that out saying that it is just a 'mind thing'. And 'just a mind thing' can create so much of imbalance in a person's day to day life affecting everything in his/her life.

Words are very powerful - handle them with care.

A few research on wiki on
Swearing took me to the following words - Dysphemism and Cacophemism - hence the title

Monday, July 21, 2008

The story of a severed finger

“This is an imaginative Story. If there is a resemblance with somebody dead or alive, it is pure coincidental”
(I have to make this disclaimer to stay alive… LOL)

Sea-Queen is a modern city that has all the entrapments of a modern city & one that is suffering from a sudden spurt of economic growth. The difference between the haves and the have-nots, the increasing crime rates, roads brimming with both old & ultra-modern vehicles, the neo-urban crowd getting out of the air-conditioned offices, driving their priceless passions to the near-by discotheque or the club… Bang in the middle of the City, where the road is named in memory of the Father of the Nation, majestically stands the 8 floored “Trust Hospital”. One of the Star hospitals in the City, which only the financially upper crest in the society have access to.

It was a humid evening in the seaside city of Sea-Queen. Despite being the monsoon, there is no sight of any rain clouds & the sun had battered down the city the whole day. The Atul family is currently vacationing in the City meeting their extended family. Atul is an executive with an MNC based out of the USA, his wife Sindhu is an analyst with another MNC Bank and their daughter KunjiPennu is just 3. They are staying with Sindhu’s brother Njanja who works in the city & Sindhu’s sister was supposed to join them that evening. They all were waiting in the bye-pass junction at around 7:30 in the evening when that eventful incident happened! Sindhu decided to get out of the car & closed the door on her own left index finger causing a blackened & severed finger.

Thunder struck! Black clouds rolled in from nowhere! Lightning blazed out a couple of transformers! The world came to a stand still!!! Njanja went to a nearby juice store to get an ice cube so that the finger could be saved… Sindhu was grief-stricken by the horror of seeing her index finger…blackened by the blood clot, how would she write design documents any more? How would she do shopping? How would she travel in the sub-way? Ohh my God! That is when the idea struck Njanja – “Lets take Sindhu to the Trust Hospital” – he said. Atul was like… WHAT!!?? To the Trust Hospital? It is past 7:30 now & we would have to take her to the Emergency/Casuality then… But he held his thoughts. He already knew that good sense doesn’t prevail & listening skills was something both of them have not learned or mastered. He agreed – “Woookaaay…Let’s go then”. Even though he said OK, Atul knew that the challenge is on him now. 7:45 PM, City of Sea-Queen, Traffic situation, Gandhi Road… well the destined has to happen.

All the while Atul was wading through the traffic, he was thinking of an idea to save the embarrassment. You have the Trust Hospital on one side and 2 people who refuse to listen on the other… What will he do to save his face? While the question remained, he managed to get a paid parking space and the procession started – Sindhu with a blackened finger leading the procession and a group of 5 people following her to the Casuality of the Trust Hospital. Just then a gentle man who was profusely bleeding (he apparently met with an accident on his bike) was rushed to the Casuality with multiple injuries and they went past this procession.

Then Atul spotted his savior! Smiling at him was an ATM. The Green and White SBI with a Key hole smiling at him… He thought for a second…”Was ATM named as ‘Any Time Masquerade’”? He told Njanja that since Casuality is going to charge a fortune, he would quickly go to the ATM to draw some money… And he would be back before the doctor arrives… And he just scooted from the scene. He came back after a couple of minutes (well, more than a couple of minutes J) to evaluate the situation. He heard cries long before he reached the examination room… But was that a male voice? Did something happen to her voice? May be something to do with the nerves… Those stuff are more complicated than the voice control rooms… And what did he see!?

An elderly lady in a green gown looking at Sindhu’s fingers while a group of white gowned attending to the gentleman who was brought in after the accident. The lady just mentioned that there is nothing to be done except that if it pains, then take some pain killer tablets. Atul was so relieved that she did not say that – “It will take an hour for the psychiatrist to come…”… The procession turned back, this time silent, more due to a studied silence by everyone… just like a mourning procession.

The vacation was over; the Atul family flew back to the USA where they went to meet Sindhu’s cousins on a weekend. While having dinner, he asked – “Ohh wow! You are an ideal citizen. Even though you just had a short vacation, you did not forget to vote! That is inspiring!!”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Questions from an innocent mind

I received this long question and answer as a forwaded email, so I am not sure who authored this. But who ever it is, it is a wonderful compilation. Some genuine thoughts into the foreign policies of the largest economy and their possible answers. As answered to a child by his/her Dad.

The ending is a bit absurd, though it is a very good read


Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq ?
A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction honey.

Q: But the inspectors didn't find any weapons of mass destruction.
A: That's because the Iraqis were hiding them.

Q: And that's why we invaded Iraq ?
A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.

Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?
A: That's because the weapons are so well hidden. Don't worry, we'll find something, probably right before the 2008 election.

Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?
A: To use them in a war, silly.

Q: I'm confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn't they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?
A: Well, obviously they didn't want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.

Q: That doesn't make sense Daddy. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons to fight us back with?
A: It's a different culture. It's not supposed to make sense.

Q: I don't know about you, but I don't think they had any of those weapons our government said they did.
A: Well, you know, it doesn't matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.

Q: And what was that?
A: Even if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.

Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?
A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.

Q: Kind of like what they do in China?
A: Don't go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.

Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it's a good country, even if that country tortures people?
A: Right.

Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?
A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government. People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Isn't that exactly what happens in China?
A: I told you, China is different.

Q: What's the difference between China and Iraq ?
A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba'ath party, while China is Communist.

Q: Didn't you once tell me Communists were bad?
A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.

Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?
A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Like in Iraq?
A: Exactly.

Q: And like in China, too?
A: I told you, China's a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.

Q: How come Cuba isn't a good economic competitor?
A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being communists and started being capitalists like us.

Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn't that help the Cubans become capitalists?
A: Don't be a smart-ass.

Q: I didn't think I was being one.
A: Well, anyway, they also don't have freedom of religion in Cuba.

Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?
A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he's not really a legitimate leader anyway.

Q: What's a military coup?
A: That's when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.

Q: Didn't the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?
A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.

Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?
A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.

Q: Didn't you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?
A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.

Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan?
A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.

Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?
A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men, fifteen of them Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 Americans.

Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?
A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

Q: Aren't the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people's heads and hands?
A: Yes, that's exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people's heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back in May of 2001?
A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.

Q: Fighting drugs?
A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.

Q: How did they do such a good job?
A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.

Q: So, when the Taliban cut off people's heads and hands for growing flowers, that was OK, but not if they cut people's heads and hands off for other reasons?
A: Yes. It's OK with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people's hands for growing flowers, but it's cruel if they cut off people's hands for stealing bread.

Q: Don't they also cut off people's hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?
A: That's different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.

Q: Don't Saudi women have to wear burqas in public, too?
A: No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.

Q: What's the difference?
A: The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers.

Q: It sounds like the same thing with a different name.
A: Now, don't go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.

Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.
A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.

Q: Who trained them?
A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.

Q: Was he from Afghanistan?
A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he was a bad man, a very bad man.

Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.
A: Only when we helped him and the mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?
A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.

Q: So the Soviets? I mean, the Russians? are now our friends?
A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq. So we're mad at them now. We're also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn't help us invade Iraq either.

Q: So the French and Germans are evil, too?
A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn't do what we want them to do?
A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.

Q: But wasn't Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?
A: Well, yeah. For a while.

Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?
A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran , which made him our friend, temporarily.

Q: Why did that make him our friend?
A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.

Q: Isn't that when he gassed the Kurds?
A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.

Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?
A: Most of the time, yes.

Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?
A: Sometimes that's true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.

Q: Why?
A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America Also, since God is on America 's side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?

Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?
A: Yes.

Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?
A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to Bush and tells him what to do.

Q: So basically, what you're saying is that we attacked Iraq because Bush hears voices in his head?
A: Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.


Though the ending was sarcastic, I think there is some truth in most of the dialogues...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I am awed!

I couldn't believe it when I heard that for the first time. And this is unfortunately true.

Darwin's thoery of evolution is not taught to the children in the US of A until they finish their highschool & later opt for life sciences for their higher studies! And why? Because the church, who 'used to' (not anymore) run a parallel government here, did not believe so; And wanted the children to believe that humans originated from Adam & Eve - according to the version in the Bible.

What a shame for the most advanced ecomony! Not the belief part, but the agenda in the whole educational system.

This is bringing in a paradigm shift for me because I believed that education will stem out most of the rots in the society. Now I am starting to think that ignorance is really a bliss, the more you know about it, the more painful it turns around to be. Even after taking into consideration of the whole drama that is going on in Kerala about the Social Science Text book of class 7, I feel we are still 'culturally' far ahead; And the religious morons hand in hand with caste politicians are effectively taking us backward!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

My Hate List & all about Jeevan

Tagging is the best thing that can happen to me now. The simple reason being that I have hit a mental block on blogging - too many thoughts, not one to blog about! And I realize that I have been tagged by Dhanya.

Thank you Dhanya. I am picking up the tag with my hate list. Well, I actually have a list of people whom I secretly hate [:)], but ain't that politically so incorrect? So I am now choosing to be a little hypocritical to have my hate list as a 'category' of people. And here we go...

Rank 1. Religious fanatics: - This is one kind of people whom I cannot stand & I am normally lucky to find some way out of having to speak to such people. According to me, religion & faith is something personal and one should not wear it on their sleeves. I have also discovered an effective way to having them to shut up - ask logical questions, pick up the threads & rapid fire. And never talk about your thoughts, just ask genuine questions... After a few minutes, they will start to realize that they have been trapped by their own words & will excuse themselves.

Rank 2. Child Molesters: - With no exception, such people should be shot at range - point blank. They are a disgrace to civilization and I believe that they don’t even qualify to be considered under human right acts – because they are inhuman. They don’t realize the extent of psychological damage that they bring into the minds of the young children which they carry through out their life times. Physical damage can be healed, psychological damage is more devastating

Rank 3. Eve Teasers: - For some reason, I just can't reason with such people. Such people get so charged up when somebody else treats their own siblings in a similar fashion. The question I ask to such people is - How is 'that girl' different from your sibling? Every girl in the world is somebody's sister or mother or wife or daughter. So treat everyone with the respect they deserve!

Rank 4. People with double standards: - When it is about somebody in my family, I need to be concerned about the upbringing, facilities & the pampering that I need to provide them, but when it comes to somebody else’s family, it is all because they already have too much & need to learn the harsh realities of life! I always wonder how people can so openly have double standards! At a common man’s life, this is very common while dealing with children in their high schools or colleges.

A good example is school commute. I knew a person who had a kid in the same class of mine & he used to drop his kid in the school in a car while he used to lecture to my dad about the need for children having to learn the harsh realities of life, indirectly pointing to my dad not to give me money for the line-bus, so that we have to walk the 2.5 kms to school (Fare to my school was 10 paise per head one side & petrol was 22 rupees per liter then… grrr) to face the ‘harsh reality’ of life!

On a larger canvas, this is one of the biggest problems the world is facing from the present largest economy. If not for its double standards, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Afghan war and many more to come could have been/can be avoided.

Rank 5. Caste Politicians: - This is another category of people whom, if I had a chance would have shot point blank. They have no clue on how they are poisoning the minds of generations after generations for the sake of their vote bank politics. It does not come to me as a surprise that they are against education because it is convenient that way. I will come back on education after passing on the hate baton!

I would like to hand over the baton to the following people:-

Arun - Surprise to you - Keep blogging ;)
Sangeetha - Like to see the hate list of this ever positive personality
Parameshwaran - Another ever positive personality

All about Jeevan, the Casteless
Now, coming back to education, I feel ashamed about what is presently happening in Kerala (The state that is ranked second in India - in terms of literacy – a whopping 92% literate against the country average of ~55%) on certain sections of the Social Science text book of class 7 – A chapter roughly translated as “Jeevan, the casteless”. I was keen listening to the hungama while I was vacationing there last month & wanted to read the trivial chapter in the text book. I, having personally read the book, could not find anything trivial there and in contradiction, the chapter promotes resilience & teaches the students to respect other’s faiths. I still have no clue on why it is being quoted as the government trying to promote communism & teaching the students to shy away from beliefs. What was most disturbing was that there were a group of churches in the Middle-Travancore area who read out a statement in their daily masses that “We should protect our religion even if it means blood shed”.

What a Shame!

I have attached the scan copies of the trivial chapters - It is in Malayalam and since it is already trivial, I am not taking the risk of doing a transalation :)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What are Leaders made of!

Hello World! I am back with a bang! LOL :)

I tried my best to stay away from the blogging world for some time due to external pressures & realized how intensely I am in love with expressing myself, talking to others & communicating to the outside world. With out expression, I cease to exist! So, here we go.

I am actually in a hangover from one of the classic movies that I saw in bits & pieces over the last 2 weeks – Scent of a Woman. Wonderful movie, great performance & considered one of the classics of English Cinema. Al Pacino won the Academy Award & the Golden Globe award for the Best Actor in portraying the retired, blind (caused by mishandling grenades), Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade. I am not going to talk about the movie or the plot or the performance of the actors here. But there are many take-aways from this movie in general - on living and on leadership.

The dialogue he delivers at the court-room kind of setup in the School where his assistant Charlie Simms, a student of the graduate school, is being tried as a witness to a silly prank some fellow classmates did outside the Headmaster’s Chamber - is just mind blowing & thought provoking. Charlie is recommended by the Headmaster to the jury council to be expelled from the school for not giving out the names (Apparently the Headmaster offered a bribe to Charlie in terms of a seat in Harvard for exchange of the names - which he declined) thereby permanently damaging his career, when Lt. Col. Slade gets up and gives out this thought provoking dialogue.

The dialogue, though not exact, is below: -
By expelling Charlie, you think you are sending him home with his tail between his legs; but you are executing his soul! For what?

When I walked in today, I heard something about this school called the “Cradle of Leadership”. What kind of leaders do you make here? If I were the man I was five years ago, I'd take a flame thrower to this place...

Charlie has reached a cross road in his life & he has chosen a path. Its the right path. It is a path made of PRINCIPLES... that leads to CHARACTER... He won't SELL ANYBODY out to BUY HIS FUTURE. And that, my friends, is called INTEGRITY. That's called COURAGE. And that's the stuff that leaders SHOULD be made of!

I just couldn’t agree any more. Are today’s leaders (Corporate & even others) made of this stuff?

I don't know. From my experience, It is a dirty, murkier, back stabbing game of shamelessness where there is not even a trace of integrity, forget courage.

Some food for thought!

Monday, March 10, 2008


I wish & hope that this is just a semicolon (;) & not a full stop (.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Phew! What kind of a Blogger?

Just happened to see this on Dhanya's blog & tried it for myself.
Sounds pretty good to hear; though I dont trust the analysis because they found that I am 'considerate' by just having me answer 4 questions! I took away the linking information because it was classified as a spamming site by my AVS.

"Your Blogging Type Is Thoughtful and Considerate"

You're a well liked, though underrated, blogger.
You have a heart of gold, and are likely to blog for a cause.
You're a peaceful blogger - no drama for you!
A good listener and friend, you tend to leave thoughtful comments for others.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

To Listen or not to

Off late, I have come across a lot of examples and situations in my personal & professional life that had gone in a totally different directon because of the influence of listening skills. Do we need a special 'skill' to listen? Or just by having a set of ears mean that you are a good listener? I beg to differ. I have also found that many of the problems - starting from the ones in your day-to-day life up to world affairs - can be effectively solved if both the parties in arbitration develop some kind of listening skills.

When I took up this new assignment mid last year, I was meeting with managers & analysts at different levels as a part of my on boarding process and I had this telephonic conversation with a senior manager (some 25+ years in the present organization). She is in a distant location and I have not even exchanged emails with her before - the first interaction. We introduced each other and talked about the background and experience and the general expectations from each of us. She then started talking about where she grew up, her family, kids, family life and philosophical outlook and on and on... And I just listened with patience when the talk went on about how bad she thinks life had treated her, how frustrated she is with her job, her personal life and differences with in the family. In a few minutes, I realized that I was becoming a weeping shoulder to someone whom I had never met, never spoken to before and have very less chances of even working together in a team! At the end of it, a full hour, she thanked me for listening to her and did not forget to apologize to me for piling me up with her frustrations. Since then, we share a very cordial work relationship.

Another instance was recently, a month back, with one of the Project Manager - who is very senior by age (in her late 50s). I used to meet her in the hall way when I go to the Cafeteria or the Bank. This time, she looked very depressed and sulking and as I walked past her, I asked this question... "Hey XYZ... Are you OK? You look very tired...". Unexpectedly, she stopped and told me that she is not OK. Her mom had expired the last week and she was very much concerned about her dad (who was in 90s) being all alone by himself at this age. When she said this she almost broke down and mentioned to me that... "Thank you Santosh - that you asked. All I wanted was somebody to listen to me and help me drain out the stress that I have accumulated over the week". And I was surprised! Because she stays with her family, have kids and grand kids, but none had the time to take a break from their busy schedules and empathize with her.

Sometimes I feel we all get very busy with our own lives, or pretend to be busy with our own lives and forget the humanitarian part of it ... that we all are human beings, we all will need some kind of support at some point of time. Spending some time to "keep our mouth shut" and listening actively would enlighten you in many ways. You get to know the perspectives of others, what they are going through & how they feel about it. It definitely makes you a better individual in terms of emotional & philosophical maturity.

I have personally known people who respond to emails with out reading them out completely (read the first few lines & then bingo!) and understand what they are trying to communicate. Many a times when I get responses similar to that, I just pick up the phone, call them, request them to read the mail completely, and most of the times I could visualize they biting their tongue... "Ouch... I should have read the mail completely before sending that one out". So, what is that called? Prejudice? When you allow your prejudice to drive your actions, you can't expect anything better than where you are now or even worse. You are shutting out a communication channel which otherwise could be invaluable inputs in developing yourself as an individual, or an innovative business plan, or sometimes even a feedback on how badly you might be screwing up your own work & life.

So, is it just that we are so busy that we really don't have time to be a sensitive person? Or is it that we pretend to be busy as a part of hiding away from the inevitable parts of our life because we want to be seen along only with success? Or is it that we have become so obsessed with success and goals so that we forget the small little things that (who knows) might make somebody's day?

I feel there is some food-for-thought in there!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Freedom of Expression & a Blog Shock

It had been some time since I blogged here. Not that I wanted to stay away from this medium of expression, but there was some thing more important at home that I needed to pay more attention to. And now I am still catching up on some of the pretty bad incidents that have gone awfully wrong in the blogger's world.

Though I have not started writing a Blog in my mother-tongue Malayalam, I am an avid reader of Malayalam blogs and am truly a fan of few of the good & consistent bloggers there like Vishalji, Kuruman, Simi... to name a few. What caught my attention was an image that Vishalji had posted on his blog - "Protest against Harikumar & Kalakaumudi" & I was keen to understand what went wrong. In the last 3 days, I read in length & breadth in what ever available bits & pieces of information available on the blogs & the news sites to really understand what is going on.

And here is my 6 cents to it:-

Web 2.0 possibilities:

A Blog is a 2 - way communication mechanism, so anybody who is a blogger must be ready & open to feedback. It is a media to share & learn. Comments are to be taken in the right spirit as a feedback mechanism, so if somebody has an attitude of "My Way or the Highway" - please go home; shout at your kids, not to the public. (Today, shouting at your kids can be more disasterous). And have this simple rule in mind - If you are going to hit out at somebody, be prepared to receive a few - Life is not a one-man-show!

Freedom of Expression:

The freedom to express what you want to say, to the world, is everybody's right unless you are in some Taliban (or equivalent) ruled land. And with the numerous possibilities of the Internet & collaboration, the tight control & agenda of the press media is loosening out. 'Listen to what I have got' by more than a few hundred thousands of talented writers have replaced 'Listen to what we think you should listen to' by a handful of press media with an agenda. While it is obvious that print media & the so called 'think tanks' have their own set of worries about the growing alternate media related to their own existence, it must not be avenged by tarring a handful of talented writers and making baseless allegations. They should note that their print media might reach a few thousands of house-holds in Kerala & may be few other NRK & NRI households while Blogs are being read by millions & billions
of people online
, responding to them by comments, developing a community of sharing & brother-hood...

Blog-Shock: (Thanks to Kaippalli for the terminology)

Instead of making use of such a powerful media like Blogging to reach out to people, a media house like Kalakaumudi has got into a situation where they became party to an agenda of a narrow minded critique who does not even have the resilience to take feedback. I sincerely doubt if what ever he claims as his work is his own indeed, because the fundamental & basic quality of any seasoned writer or critique is resilience & openness to feedback.

It could also be that this gentle-man is still used to be in the days of literary works which was a one-way communication and people could just read them and not necessarily respond - or responses were ignored. Mr. Harikumar, please wake up. This is the new world of bi-directional communication and collaboration. If you write sub-quality articles or stories or what ever... people will respond, give you feedback. Learn from them, take it as an opportunity for improvement. Thinking & crying out loud that others aren't as intelligent as you are - is just exposing your capability, maturity and more over anything, creativity. Thanks for opening up!

I actually wonder how can you dole out criticism to others & survived so long as a critique while you are not ready to take any of them. And finally, Life is not fair - Get used to it!