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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My first online article

Years back in the 90's I was subscribing to weekly newsletter from Capt. Vinod Nair's Absolute Solutions group and one of them got me thinking and I started to scribble around my thoughts on it and it took the shape of somewhat an article and I thought I would share it with Captain and he was kind enough to publish it in the next newsletter. Fyi, Capt. Nair has now transformed his company into Kimmaya Consulting Pvt. Ltd.

Here is the article:


Almost in every aspect of our lives we follow the standard set for us by the society. There is an unspoken agreement between us and these rules and standards and most of us subscribe to that. To make my point clear I will give an example, last month 10% of the people in New Jersey became overweight without gaining a single pound because the Public Health board declared that the idea weight for an adult of average height is 175 lbs. and not 180 lbs. There are millions of ideas and notions floating around at any time in this world, but a certain idea becomes a standard of society after it gets the agreement of the majority or the authority (religious, political etc.). This process is very subtle but it is happening all the time.

So, what I meant to say is that before we aim for any goal we got to break our mental barrier set for the limit of the achievement and not blindly subscribe to every standard set to us by the society (by no means I am implying to set the ideal weight for yourself to 250 lbs. and pig out!). Winning and loosing are merely frame of mind and are relative, what's important to live life powerfully is to understand - responsibility and generosity. Responsibility and Generosity for ourselves and people around us and not being stingy and keeping the channels of communication open. Instead of living our lives from past, we should generate our lives from the future. Designing new possibilities for the future and living them everyday, in fact this is what I believe "I am who I say I am and I am the possibility of my future". The "time-tested" model of living life is based on the fact that we learn from our past and identify ourselves as a product of our past. Our past defines who we are and we believe in that. Just imagine how powerful would that be to live our lives from the immense possibilities that our future hold for us. A future which is totally free from the stories and preconceived notion hardwired into our minds over the years: I can't do that, I am not that good, May be someone can do it but not me, I could have done that if I had more time or money, It's too late to do it… you take your pick from this or I am pretty sure we all have the required ingenuity to come up with a reason to NOT live your life fully.

We all have these reasons and we say that this is being content with what we have achieved so far. Nice argument but wait, is it really so? I think the fact is that we make up these reasons because we don't want to accept our own strength and greatness!

It is basic human nature is to adapt to the situations and create a "comfort zone", declaring your dreams will make you to step out of that "comfort zone". Here is an example, please excuse me because it is a little graphic. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water then it will jump right out of it, but if you put the same frog in the normal water and boil the water in the pot gradually, the frog (poor soul!) dies. This is very similar to how we react in life, we adapt to any worsen situation and keep adapting until it stifles and kills us!

Now if we come out of our comfort zones and declare to the world about our dreams and aspirations then "they" will hold you accountable for the results. And we will have to deal with "their" inflated expectation, but aren't we more worried about our own expectations? Right then and there you fret about the failure, the dreaded word and it is we who give it the power which renders us powerless. And there you have it; this is the moment of truth where we can either be a stand for our power and greatness or simply surrender. It is us who can choose to retain our power and not give it away to the failure and stand for our possibilities of our future. Fear of failure emerges from the made-up stories of fear and anxiety from our past and the true possibility is free from any stories of past, we have to BECOME that possibility of living life from the promises of the future. We have no control over the past but we sure have all the power to generate new possibilities for us and live them every moment.


Links to my blog from 1999 and some exerpts

I was initiated into the world of Blogging by some of my classmates at Stevens Tech Hoboken, NJ and here is the link to it -->

Travelogue: This was one of my first trips with buddys after I returned from the US.

Description of our Trip to Lonavala on Sept 30th, '01 Weekend

Dear friends,

So, we are back from a short yet highly eventful Lonavala trip. Here is my travelogue for the trip:

Niru, Pauli and myself decided to board the Pune bus from Dadar TT and make our respective local trains station as the meeting spots. I met Niraj bhai at Mulund around 2 PM and later we all got together when Pauli arrived at Kanjurmarg around 2:15 PM. This was the first time I was traveling in Mumbai local train after a long long time, it was no different than traveling in NY subway with a broken AC.

After some enthusiastic discussion and catching up on our last few days we got down at Dadar. Earlier Manish has notified me that him and Sameer will be reaching Lonavala around 6PM so we were in no apparent hurry to reach there. This fact compounded by the unusually humid day encouraged us to indulge upon the "famous" Dadar Super King Samrat "Lassi". We had some Lassi and Niru wondered about the kind of money the small Lassi shop owner must be making after looking at the nonstop flow of customers. Pauli and I agreed that he must be making a bundle.

After coming out of the shop I looked around to have a good look at the Dadar buildings and haphazard co-existence of uncountable people and vehicles in the same space. It was amazing that it has been like this for years and made me wonder who manages this from getting chaotic. And then I heard Niru saying that he wants to pray at the Hanuman temple near by. I accompanied him and realized what makes everything flow so smoothly which apparently looks so chaotic. Over the years, in the western world we tend to get very chauvinistic regarding our control over life and life forms, the apparent enforced sense of security...

Pauli and I realized that we don't have any shorts which might be needed if we later decided to play in waters. After a little bargaining by Niru we got the tickets for the Lonavala AC bus which was a relief not having to sit in nonAC bus on a hot afternoon. Bus was leaving in 15 minutes so we quickly shopped for the shorts from the road side vender and got on the bus. As mention on the ticket, the Bus left exactly at 3:30PM, we were impressed by it's punctuality, something we don't take for granted here.

The traffic situation has hugely improved after several the flyovers mushrooming all around the city (later I took some more trips in car and confirmed this). This also might be due to that fact that I was used to get stuck in the traffic going back up to couple of miles so I feel its needless to get impatient to wait in traffic for few minutes.

Journey to Lonavala took about three hours, a little more than expected due to longer halts and slow driving of the bus. Niru made us notice that the bus stopped right in front of a wine shop, may be the driver knew our "intentions" well!! Niru called Sameer on his cell phone to tell him about our arrival and asked to meet us at the neighborhood restaurant "Rama Krishna" while we had some refreshments there. While we were busy having some food there, I noticed from corner of my eyes some figures pass by and coming back to us and yelling our names... they were none other but Sameer and Manish, they had almost missed us eating outside. Can't blame anyone, some of us were meeting after 8 yrs!!! After the usual discussion of changes in our physical appearances, we proceeded to talk about the recent terrorists attacks and it's affect on economy and job market.

To give our plans the final shape we had to decide where we would be staying for the night, Sameer suggested the Karla resort by MTDC. I had heard some nice things about it and since Sameer had brought his car along we had no problem in driving down about 7 miles and check out the place. The cottages at Karla were located at a comfortable quiet surrounding and we immediately decided to take the double bedroom cottage after one look. After getting settled and a quick shower we immediately ordered drinks from the bar on the resort and then our "mehfil" had officially started. Sameer, Pauli and Niru started with RC and myself with Manish had Kingfisher. I "tried" to take some pictures with my "Advanced Picture System" camera and it died out on me... Before I lost track, we were discussing about the business opportunities and how we can get together use our respective "skills" to that. Sameer gave some business ideas and we brainstormed to that until there was no brain left to storm- the deadly magic of alcohol. Oh yes, our discussions were continuously interrupted by a schoolgirl (her age was disputed among us) passing by our window from time to time, she belonged to the family staying next door.

Then we had to order some food since the restaurant was closing at 10PM, so we got some food and kept it inside to eat later. Switching our discussion to women and who had whom, how and where we proceeded to our JNEC days and whereabouts of some long lost friends. Then I got hungry and Manish supported me, also we were on our third bottle of beer. We both ate most of the food, leaving half plate of rice and some gravy for Sameer (who didn't want to eat), Pauli and Niru. Niru forced even some more rice of Manish's plate! Around 1AM, our dinner was over after Pauli and Niru ate the left over and then we decided to go for a walk. Niru, Manish and myself went ahead and soon Niru found the two dogs outside and made them his pets. Within minutes and few steps later they became best buddies!!! The walk was laborious since I and Niru were barefooted and pebbles on street were causing pain. The newfound pals of Niru were following him religiously, except for some occasional straying along the way, but Niru's commanding voice (it was 2AM) brought them back to him. Later, Pauli and Sameer joined us and we went for another round of the resort with Niru's pets following. I smelled some problem when these two men's best friends were joined by their 4-5 other roaring bigger friends. Fortunately the situation got quickly under control and we were home safely. Niru duly rewarded his pets with the left over bones from our food which they relished upon!!

We were then back to our rooms and watching TV, talking about the new actresses and then Niru thought about his new homemade shayari which he had recited to me few days back, it had some of his very intimate feelings... but call it the after effect of alcohol that he could not recollect it. After few minutes we lost interest and asked him to think about it next morning. But Niru was relentless, he sat in the hall with both hands on his head trying to figure out his shayari. It did come back to him but by then I was in bed and so was everyone else, we had to come out and Niru recited his shayari in his trademark style and I must say, it was well worth all the efforts. (I request him to share it with everyone in his next mail)

After a good night sleep, we got fresh and checked out from resort in time. The plan for the day was to visit the Bushy Dam and Lion's point. We had some breakfast at the same "Rama Krishna" restaurant and rented a camera for the day. After reaching Bushy Dam we were disappointed since the water falls had dried up on the mountains. But after being pushed by Pauli we decided to hike up, we found a small stream (can't call it a fall) and some locals enjoying the bath under it. After they left Pauli went in with all of his clothes on, he seemed to be enjoying it a lot, I decided to check it out and found that the small stream wasn't all that small after all, it was fun!!! Later Manish and Sameer too joined us and we kept insisting Niru to join but our proposal didn't interest him a bit, he stayed out and kept taking our pictures. We were in the fall for some time before it got crowded by some school kids. We dried up in Sun and went down to change near our car. After quick Wadapav session we headed for the Lion's Point. It was a steep drive along the ghat and we enjoyed the view, Sameer had tough time driving car.

The Lion's point had a nice view, but the weather was not that pleasant in the afternoon scorching sun. After looking around at a movie set at the point and having some beer the weather turned nice and we stayed for some more time. But we all were very tired and decided to head back since the weekend was almost over. We did our accounts and got the tickets for the bus back to Mumbai and departed from Lonavala with promise to our Puneyites to meet soon, may be when Hitesh is here. The trip back home was uneventful except for occasional gravity defying jumps on the last seat of the bus. It all made sense when we touched Chembur in couple of hours, this driver was fast. Niru and Pauli wanted to utilize the time saved in bus journey and have a quick session of drinks. We struggled around in Chembur to find a good bar but failed. Then we took auto to Kanjurmarg (Pauli's area) and Niru with Pauli had drinks while I ate. After some more career and life discussion, it was time to part. We said goodbye to Pauli and then Niru got off the auto at Mulund. I was back home with some chikkis and lot of new memories and old ones refreshed.

Check out this space for pics of the trip...


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The India Unlimited

Yes, it can be much worse than Mumbai!! We may crib about the inefficiency and corruption of government officials in Mumbai but in comparison to the grim situation in U.P. & Bihar and other northern states, we may be living in (fools?!) paradise. In fact we just can not extrapolate and generalize "India" based what we experience in Mumbai. Allow me elaborate further on this...

I am currently in Agra where the polling is to take place on 7th May and canvassing is at its peak. To get the flavor of latest happenings, I read the local newspapers and found it full of news of political candidates adventures, misadventures and deeds, also news of petty and not so petty crimes and rampant corruption. Somehow it felt that there was no law & order machinery in the state or if at all there was any, it was busy with something more important on its priority list. After inquiring further, I found that considerable effort was being made to provide the "unheard of" uninterrupted electricity to the Bhim Nagar 'ghetto' on occasion of three-day festival of Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti. Well, at least it was nice to see government making some effort, no matter how partisan their action was. It might not be amusing to other residents as the electricity-cut was extended few more hours in rest of Agra to facilitate this.

Subsequently I happen to have the pleasure of having dinner with a prominent budding politician of the region and I got to savor the delicacy of dal-baati-choorma along with some flash-news on political situation in the region from the horse’s mouth. The major concern was the deep rooted corruption in the system which was more of a rule than exception. Some incidences to support this were quoted to me, here they are.. Principal of a city college never goes to office and attends to his business and arranges for his daily attendance on paper. Citizens get fined indiscriminately for electricity theft to fulfil the electricity-theft fine quota, also some citizens are allowed electricity theft at a fixed price. Students give Rs. 2000 to get photostat copies of answers of exam papers. Those who don't pay-up are framed in copying and cheating case. Teachers who get government jobs after paying hefty bribes, outsource their job to unemployed youth for Rs. 1000 per month and never go to teach. For all political parties and citizens, it is more of finding ways to fit into this well-established system than to even think of eradicating the evils of the corruption. In fact, despite knowing its well known and obvious illegitimacy and immorality, it is now accepted and 'laundered' into mainstream society.

Not that there is no resentment, there is a constant sense of a lost battle, but like a lost soldier at mercy of the enemy who can only hope that the prevailing and overpowering enemy (corruption) might spare their lives so the efforts were on to befriend the enemy despite resentment. But yes, there is no doubt that here in the heartland of India, both public and politicians have surrendered their arms and sold their conscience, either happily or grumpily and become slaves to the monster called corruption. And nothing could be more demoralizing for the Indian democracy. Is it the start of the end of it? Unfortunately, all signs do point towards that. For now, I will be happy living in my fools paradise and pray that situation 'here' improves before it become worse like it is 'there'.

p.s. while I write this, I find that our celebrity politicians from Mumbai are in the region canvassing and asking for votes and they too are in the same rut of divide and rule and nobody gives a damn about corruption or development. Sanju baba feels he was tortured in jail because his mother was a muslim and not because he helped the bloody terrorists bring RDX to bomb Mumbai city!! Both Shatrughan Sinha and Shekhar Suman are busy proving who is the real bihari babu. Raj Babbar does not remember anymore where his loyalties lie. They should know better and should not take advantage of an already divided public but all politicians seems to be doing exactly that. Is there some messiah out there waiting to show the miracle and clean this rot? Sorry, I don't have an answers or any clear solutions to this.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"The Life of David Gale", "Eastern Promises" and "The Eye"

"The Life of David Gale" (2003) is a suspense drama about the man who is on death row for killing his colleague and the irony is that he has been activist against capital punishment all him life. The movie has huge socio-political overtones and that might be the reason this movie was panned by most of the right-wing critics (Roger Ebert gave it a zero!) despite having the names such as Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslate, Laura Linney and director Alan Parker (Midnight Express, The Wall, Mississippi Burning). For me these were good enough reasons to check this movie out. I found the movie engaging watch, however the suspence was not terrific and also the characters were inconsistent (may be director meant it that way). I found the movie a bit too long at 130 mins and regressive at times but definitely watchable for some great performances and intriguing plot. I would reccomend it, definitely deserves more than a zero star (7/10)

"Eastern Promises" (2007) is a detailed study into the lives of russian mafia in the underbelly of London. I have never seen London this dark in any of the movies so far and the director David Croneberg (A History of Violence) makes the characters so real and creepy that you would want to avoid 'this London' at all cost. The story is nothing much write about, it is the character development and acting that wins it for me. Viggo Mortenson plays a driver cum handyman of russian mafia boss Armin Mueller-Stahl (see him for the first time, he is real creepy), plays father of the french actor Vincent Cassal. They are into smuggling of all kinds including human traffiking and Viggo needs to hide and wipe clean a crime that can lead his boss to jail. Naomi Watts plays a nurse who wants to expose them and this endangers the lives of her family members. There are some scenes that are very graphic in nature and should be avoided by anyone with feeble heart. I simply found Viggo's acting, detailed characterization and nuances the highlight of the movie and it is a must watch if you appreciate dark crime drama. (8/10)

"The Eye" (2002) is a Mandarine movie from HK that has been remade in several languages including English and Hindi. Pang brothers are the directors and out there to scare the hell out of you but only partially succeed. The movie has some scary moments but they are few between and are predictable. What is appreciated in the movie that there is no gore, the elements of horror are created out of visual and sound designs, also, the acting was natural. Good watch for horro fans (7/10).