Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bondage, of the Mind

I was born
Not by choice
But by incident
Of two consenting individuals.
They bring me up
Reminding me of bondage
Everytime I falter
As does the zamindar to the labourer.

They were pledged in the womb
Not of their making
For debt to be repaid
Forever and ever.
Same it is here
The debt being of carriage
Of bearing for nine months
Forever and ever.

Like the labourer
I knew not when I stepped out
That this would be my lot
That this would be my life.
So, I ask myself
Did I ask to be carried
Did I pray for her pain
Then, how am I to be blamed ?

Every time I flap my wings
To check the current
This one line rings always
On the recorder.
Physical bondage is better
To emotional bondage I concur
For the pain is only of the body
And not so much of the mind.

So, I pledge my childhood
But, that's not enough
So, try with my youth
But, the cup doesn't fill
So, I go through with my middle age
To be told that her end would be soon
And that I am free after that
But then, so would be mine.

My childhood plucked away
My youth nipped in the bud
My adulthood compromised
My middle age passes by
And then a promise of freedom
Of living my life the way I want
Of making my own decisions.

So, I look at myself in the mirror
With my new found freedom
My skin wrinkled
My hair gone grey
My bones cracking
My eyes have lost their shimmer
My dreams dying o'er twice
Of life that never was.

This life I finally realize
Is one of bondage
Bondage not necessarily physical
But also of the mind.
The cord that bound
Though cut physically
Is never lost
For mankind in the mind.

("I bore him for nine months, the pain and sleepless nights. But see what I get in return". I have heard this line repeated by mothers. This poem is to those children, children with lost childhoods, youth with silent dreams, adulthood with lost dreams. To the pain, unseen, unknown.......

Well, after reading, Arun suggested that I end it on a happy note, with hope, with life. So, )

I feel the tug
Of my shirt
Turn around, and there she stands
My little darling
My dreams, my hope
And I know, that my dreams are alive
That freedom will be hers
To choose her own path
To light her own trail.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


There are a few common things any person using computers knows. Cut & Paste and Ctrl-Z & Ctrl-Y. We use it without even thinking twice, especially the Cut & Paste.

Ask a teacher about assignments submitted by students - there is so much that is Cut & Paste from the net, that sometimes even links like 'Back', 'Next' are part of the assignment. It is what can be called a necessary devil. We can't do without it, but still, it annoys us when we can decipher where it has been used.

So is Ctrl-Z. Coding, coding, I came to a point, where I couldn't pinpoint what I had done to introduce a bug to an otherwise perfectly working software. After trying a lot of reasoning, I decided against my better judgement to use Ctrl-Z. My previous usage of Ctrl-Z was disastrous and hence, had decided to use Ctrl-Z as a last option, when left with nothing.

So, I did it, like when you play solitaire or free cell and come to a point when it says "No more moves". After a number of Ctrl-Z, when it felt confident that a point of no errors was reached, the decision was made to stop. For with so many Ctrl-Zs I had no idea by then what I had changed, given my limited RAM(that's my brain) and no linked-list technology to remember the string of changes with its implications. Confidently saved, and when I did execute, it was a point so far away from where I was actually, that I thanked the creators for having the foresight to create a Ctrl-Y, for cases like mine.

So, finally am back to square one with a promise once again to myself that I will not use Ctrl-Z. Except of course, for solitaires and free cell. Definitely, not for code.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kahlil Gibran on Children - how apt

The other day, Arun told me about having to submit marks of students after evaluation at the earliest. Okay, that is normal. They will be sent to their parents....... now, that got me wondering. Post graduate students, and their marks were being sent home to their parents. At 22, they are adults. They take the decision of electing the Prime Minister of the country and here you speak about sending their marks home. I can only see it in one of these ways:
1. A school or college is supposed to help a student learn to handle his life: make decisions, account for those decisions and take responsibility too for the results, good or bad. And you can't do that by absolving yourself of your share of duties, by putting the onus on the parents.
2. Minimum age of a student when he comes for a post graduate course is 21. Treat him like one.
3. Parents are important. But, taking a grownup man or woman to his parents over something as simple as mid-term tests is difficult to understand. Speak to him/her. Help them manage their life, show them the future, help them decide what they want.

When Arun sent me the lines of Kahlil Gibran, I thought of how apt they were.

On Children -- Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Raja Ravi Varma

Why should I turn to Michaelangelo and Da Vinci when I have a master back home ?

Raja Ravi Varma - prince among painters and a painter among princes........

One of my favourites...........

Watch particularly the lady from Kerala. It shows the dressing style across his lifetime - history through paintings........

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's a cruel world

There are many sports played around the world - the word 'sport' means to encourage, to instill, to entertain, a means to inculcate good values and the right spirit (according to me).

But then, take a look at these:

The life of the horses and bulls that fight in Spain, the Calderon dolphins in Denmark, the dolphins in Japan and similar cases is hell. Why ? Because there is one selfish being on earth, MAN.

And the worst part is that these countries, the so called developed nations, where this is being practised, go around the world, preaching to the developing and under developed nations, about global warming, the need to conserve and protect flora and fauna.

Not that they are not right. But then, they need to look at their own backyard before they preach about cleaning up someone else's.

In countries like mine, where a large percentage of population lives close or below the poverty line, the fight for resources is being waged every minute, every second. The denudation of forests to make way for human beings is culminating in man-animal conflicts like never before. Still, we are trying. For being an agricultural country, we realize the death of our forests means our own death; it means less rainfall and therefore lesser production of grain and livelihoods lost. Global warming has affected us a lot especially this year with drought. We support the need to reduce carbon emissions. But then find, that the ed countries are not ready to share the burden. Rather, they are happy preaching on how to do it here.

Go to the developed nations, and you will find vehicles that guzzle gas, being driven singularly for 2-3 hours easily every morning and evening by office goers. In India, most people travel by public transport. One, most of us can ill afford it and with the traffic being so high, people prefer travelling by a two wheeler as opposed to a four wheeler. There is the awareness that global warming is harming us. That we need to clean up. The people, government and the courts are doing it by protecting the forests, removing fuming industries and also locating them outside cities. Similar about the matter of cruely to animals. Animal slaughter in the name of offerings continues but then, is being vehemently opposed too. Similar with the Jalikattu (bull fighting Indian style) which is facing stiff opposition mostly from the people of the state where the practice exists. There is greater awareness today than ever before and people are standing up.

I remember the time, when a bull that was pulling a heavily loaded cart fell on the road. Such was the sight that people who saw it got together and beat up the man who did it, before handing him over to the police. He might have got off with a warning and a fine, but the beating will stay in his mind forever. That man would never dare put another animal in that condition ever again. That awareness is definitely there with us who still live close to mother earth with her other children, for we are not totally mechanized.

Hope we continue with what our culture has given us - of considering all animals equal to ourselves and that we are born with a duty to protect. That reminds me, in Hinduism, every person according to his birth star has a tree and an animal or bird. The purpose is that he will protect that tree and animal and cause no harm. (Mine is the karimaram and the peacock). That way, conservation happens. Hope we go back and relearn.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In search of a Jean

Jeans are long term wear - meant to be worn till they wear and tear, and after the wear and tear too - for that is fashion. So, being three years old, I thought it is time I move over to a new one, having worn mine every other day. So, with my husband, who was more enthusiastic than me in buying me one, the search for the right jean started.

The requirement: a high-waist (preferable) or mid-riff jean with tapered cut. One shop after another, they told me that they had only low waist jeans. Not even mid-riff. Request for a high waist jeans got me looks of wonder, making me feel like Kumbhakarna who wakes up once in a year, with no knowledge of developments in between. Of course, the last time too I faced a little trouble finding one that I liked, but then I found one here in Hyderabad, and one in Bombay, one high waist and another midriff.

So, try we did in four places, selling branded jeans and then gave up. Of course, I tried the low waist ones. They weren't just low, they were very low. After having wondered seeing people wear them, now I wondered how they were confident of it not sliding down.

Whatever happened to the high waist jeans, I wonder. Okay, most youngsters wear low waist ones. They reveal the skin and more at the back, and they are so comfortable with them. No probs. But, what about those who would like to wear a high waist one ? No chance.

Got back and googled (Google is God!) for places in Hyderabad selling jeans. And I found a page with chat messages. And lo! one of them had called the high-waist jeans 'Aunty jeans'. Oh boy, I thought, have I grown so old ? Am I to be classified into the aunty group just because I prefer to wear a high waist jean ? What is it about ? Fashion or only 17 being young ? I know not.

Whatever, I prefer the high waist. Call me aunty or granny or great granny - whatever you like. It is not a matter of age, in the head nor body, it is a matter of comfort. Of what you think you look decent and good in.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Home is University of Hyderabad

As is my usual habit, I walk out on to the terrace at the Research Scholars Hostel, to brush my teeth. Early morning is the most beautiful part of the day. The warm rays of the sun, the sight of varied birds, dancing and singing, ushering in a new day. I walk around the terrace trying to see them. Most days, it is the Mynas and the Red Vented Bulbul. Others, the Parrot and the Peacock. Some other days, I get to see a whole lot of sparrows, the Little Green Bee-eaters. Rare is the Woodpecker and the Kingfisher. The birds that make me smile the most are the sparrows: they fly here and there, twittering, chattering and chirping..... and it makes me happy. It is an affirmation of the healthy environment in the university for they are first to disappear if the environment is polluted.

But, thursday, when I was down walking the corridor leading to the terrace, I realized that the song of the birds was different. They were singing but a different song, set to a different tune. As I was wondering why and about to step on to the terrace, heard a thud. Still waking up from the deep night slumber, I jumped. Then, another thud. Turned to the right, and there, two huge monkeys, were walking. They had jumped from the upper terrace of the lower one. They didn't care that I was standing there staring at them (couldn't help it - I was still to completely wake up). They had that attitude of ruling the world. I liked that. After climbing the parapet wall of the terrace, they jumped to the branch of the Bear fruit tree. And lo, there were more on the tree. As I brushed, I watched them choose the fruits. And then understood the reason for the birds song being different.

Thursday started very well. I was close again, to nature. Happy to see the monkeys and the birds. Happy to hear their song. The little pleasures of life but so sweet. Only in University of Hyderabad. I thank everyday, that I am in this university with 1500 acres, having two lakes, large forest cover, rather than a university in the heart of the concrete jungle.

Independence Day '09 at Topslip

This Independence Day, we decided to spend trekking quietly in the forests at Topslip. Beautiful, untouched forests - the need to protect them, the flora and fauna, is all that I can think of. Yes, sometimes I think that I am trespassing uninvited to someone else's home. But, I love being there. Yes, I am a human being, I am selfish. My happiness comes first. But we do take care not to horn anywhere in the jungle, not to litter, not to talk, not to disturb. And I hope that the trees and animals there feel my need to connect with them. I give them so little, but what I get from them is something immeasurable, unfathomable. One trek in the forest, and I live on that high for months. It cleanses my brain, my being, frees my thoughts, pulls down the chains. I feel free, like a bird in the forest. It makes me feel so small, that I understand my position in the bigger scheme of things - my place in the lap of Mother Nature. I am so happy in that lap.

For you people, who have taken time to visit my blog, these pictures are to share the beauty I saw. Topslip is one of the last bits of pristine forestland left in India. Part of the Western Ghats, this stretch of tropical forest is home to the Tiger, the Elephant, the Panther, the sloth Bear, the Sambhar deer, the Spotted deer, the Giant Squirrel, the Teak and Rosewood trees, the innumerable birds and insects. They all have one home. The forests. And their only enemy today, is mankind. There is need to understand the importance of such forests and help in the fight to preserve them against ourselves, mankind, for future generations. There is need to learn to coexist, like the tribals who live deep inside the forest.

To the Wildlife wardens, the guide, the staff at Topslip, the tribals, thanks for making this Independence Day, one we will remember forever. To people thinking of visiting Topslip as a picnic point, the forests are not picnic points. They are someone else's home. They are open to you but treat it with respect. They are treasure troves, willing to show us the bounty, if only we will see it, not through a prism, but with our own eyes.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Of UP and Bihar

Walking into the department, I overheard the security personnel talking about Biharis and UPites facing trouble with their jobs. With their Hindi and dialect, I could understand the tinge of concern in their voices when discussing the issue. They themselves must be from one of these two states. I felt ashamed, hurt, angry, I don't know how to explain that feeling. Here they were Indians, worried about their future just because of the place they were from - wondering about being driven out.

We spend main pages day after day in newspapers and talk time on national news as well as otherwise, venting our anger, disgust and annoyance of how our brethren are treated in Australia. But, here, right here, we have our own people worried about the backlash they have received and are still receiving at the hands of their own. But, there is very little noise about it. Of course the politicians concerned have their names in the front page of the newspapers. Otherwise, what else ?

Why ? Ofcourse, those who have gone to Australia for studies are better off as they have the means to fund their education there. On the other hand, people from Bihar and UP who come so far away, away from home, family, the land they love, their language, their customs to a totally different place are more or less people who have hardly anything - except the hunger in their stomachs. Even though the country is still India, things are so different (in India, every 100 kms besides the landscape, language, dialects and customs change) - and all for what ? For a means to survive.

Most of these people live a frugal lifestyle, sending money back home, for there is a whole family dependent on them. They live huddled up like cattle (I remember Tharoor, of course) but that is exactly how it is, in a single room with a minimum of 5-6 people. They spend the best parts of their lives, alone, slogging it out, just to survive. And when their physical strength fails, they go home, to a life, where nothing much is left, where savings are non-existent, and health fails.

I remember my dad's lines. He had people from Rajasthan and UP working for us when building our home. He said, "They are such simple people. Very hard working and happy with what they get. They do earn but send almost all of it home and live life in penury. And all this they do, because of the hunger in the stomach, because of the conditions at home. They are nice."

So, why are we so rude to them ? Why do we differentiate ? Why is it that we don't see their pain ? Why don't we see their suffering, their loneliness ? Their large hearts ? Their will to work, in distant land. Why can't we treat them with respect ? Why........... I can't understand this. This human suffering brought about by man himself, because of the way he treats his own. I don't understand this cruelty.

And to politicians, who play politics, I don't think you know the meaning of the word "Hunger". If you say, yes, you know, then, it is not the same "Hunger" I am talking about. And you would never ever understand it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New age autos

TVS has introduced its new model of autorickshaws. Compared to the ones today, they look stylish, glamorous.....don't they ? Who wouldn't want to travel in them.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Time Passes By

It was only yesterday
When I saw a new land
Met new people
Made friends
Thinking ties will last
As strong and close
For a lifetime.

Seasons have changed
Time has passed by
I find myself wondering
Yes, memories are fresh
As has always been with me
Conversations crystal clear
But, I know I am out of touch
With reality for sure.

Reality, I do not know
Know not how they are
I hope all are happy
Can only hope
Communication so easy yet hard
Chatting so little
Seeing impossible.

It's so sad sometimes
When I look back
At that beautiful limited time
Knowing it's never going to be the same
It's never going to happen again
It's becoming a dream
Happened in distant land.

It was only yesterday
Wasn't it ?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

An Ode to Love

In Picture: Firefighter David Tree shares his water with Sam during the Victorian bushfires.

Sam the koala, who shot to fame when she was rescued during Australia's bushfires in February, died today. She was found walking gingerly on scorched paws past a fire patrol near Melbourne when one of the firefighters spotted her. The firefighter was photographed holding a bottle of water to her lips.

That image was for me the picture of hope that man and nature can coexist peacefully. That man has the power to understand and give fellow beings of the earth their space and freedom, if only he will.


"What they did was not wrong, the way you perceived it was wrong". I am confused - who is wrong then ?

"I didn't mean it that way, the way you interpreted is wrong". I am confused again - what does this mean ?

"There is nothing like that happening , you are imagining things". Uffa, these lines......

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cooked Up - III

8. No culture or language is better than the other. Each has its beauty. Just appreciate it.

9. Interest or disinterest of a foreigner in a culture or language depends on the people practising it, their love, understanding and in their ability to be inclusive.

10. If there is a person in your group who never voices their opinion or escapes on some premise when there is an issue(need not be serious), beware of that person. They are what is called a 'silent killer'.

(I know, the 10th one may not be acceptable to many people, but then experience is the best teacher.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


It is nearly three years that I have been in this campus. This tamarind tree is on the way between my department and the research scholars hostel. So, everyday passing by the tree, I have noticed her looking different as the seasons change. When it rains, she sprouts little bright green leaves that people use in their curry. When she bears fruit, most passersby would pluck one to taste the tamarind, green or ripe. Come summer, she would shed all her leaves and stand bare. She stood so this summer too...... But it has started raining, and to my utter horror I find that she is not springing forth with the showers. She stands, still, with branches brown, all bereft of life. I knew her passing by her everyday, seeing people enjoying her fruits. In India, it is a belief that a tree gives her fruits with all the love possible to the beings around. She for one, lived such a life. And now, ............ All around her, her compatriots are green..... not her. Wonder if she is gone but am still holding on, hoping that she will spring back... to life.

Mirror mirror on the wall.........

Watched for a month, and she visits this mirror everyday. She keeps looking at herself and pecking at the mirror. Wonder what she's thinking .................

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Patterns in the Sky

Found this picture in the album taken on a visit to the Colosseum at Rome, Italy in December 2007.

Yes, it is a flock of birds swarming in the sky . Flocks of birds try to eliminate wind drag as much as possible when they travel through the air. The twisting and whirling that birds do changes the way the air moves over and under their wings, and therefore has an effect on how well the birds move through it. It is noticed that there is no leader in this sequence of movement - it's a collective effort. The same is noticed with fish, bees and ants. Out of the collective effort of the birds emerges a pattern.

Wiki's definition of emergence: In philosophy, systems theory and science, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems.

Cu, PostDoc Fellow, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, got me interested in this through his seminar. An intersting example he showed was about the traffic movement at junctions in India without the traffic lights. :)

The concept today is applied in the world of business and people management. In computer science, this area of research is called Swarm Intelligence and is being applied extensively in the area of robotics and networks. Man learning from nature.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saina creating history

Ace woman shuttler Saina Nehwal on Sunday scripted history by becoming the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament after she clinched the Indonesian Open title in Jakarta.

Congrats Saina.

Looking 10 years younger

It is demoralizing and partly insulting to be treated like a kid by a person who is behaving like one. It is difficult when you cannot get your point across, not because of lack of knowledge, not because of the lack of experience, but just because you don't look like you have it. A person looking younger than their age would definitely ask: "Is it my fault that I don't look my age ?"

Last week when my cousin spoke to me about how no one took her seriously, how her looks defined the way people treated her, I thought...... I have heard that before.

Why is it that we attach so much importance to appearances ? Why is it that our behaviour and attitude towards a person changes when we know their age and experience. Why is it that we want to look youthful but would treat someone who looks young at face value ? Is "appearance" the definition of a person ?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Whither justice

The opening scene of the movie, "Flash of Genius", speaks of ethics in engineering. An issue, that is hardly discussed in the Indian system of education. Be it engineering or the arts, today's environment makes it all the more important for individuals to understand what is ethical and what is not.

The movie, besides inspiring was painful. Yes, it was a David Vs Goliath fight. That the legal system can be used by corporations to extend a trial for years before the case is taken up is true in most judicial systems across the world. For the corporation, it might be one more case, but it means the end of life for an individual. Of course, we can admire Robert Kearns for what he did, for the legacy he left for future generations, but we cannot forget the cost he paid. Was it fair ? To him and his family that the judicial system works in such a way that on all counts it deters a person from contesting a case in court. The movie shows exactly what happens to a person, though strong, optimistic and determined. That way, the movie shows beautifully the lacuna in the system

The Indian legal system is an example. With over 2.6 crore cases pending in the courts, there is no surety that a person going to court will see the end in his/her lifetime. The advantage therefore is for corporations, for the rich and the mighty who have the money and the resources to run the case. It is also advantageous for the criminal, because by the time the case is taken up in court, most probably, the defendent and well as witnesses may have moved over to the other world. Also, for corporations, it is not personal. It is a job. For the person on the other side, it is his life. Isn't this so unfair ?

"Better late than never" is a line ill-fitting the judicial system. If to get justice, a person has to wait 10-20 years, like the Delhi theatre fire tragedy, or there must be a public outcry as in the Jessica Lal case, where is justice then. The wait and the running around of the courts, not to speak of the drain of health and resources, and harassment in many cases is worse punishment. Which makes me feel many a time, that the judicial system is an illusion, a farce, for there is no justice in the real sense of the word.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fond Reminiscences - Crisscross

When I saw a plane, leaving a streak in the clear sky, it reminded me of Trento. The first few days left me dazed and amazed. The first day, especially, I used to jump, thinking that the planes above had every chance of crashing even though I knew that they would be separated by a safe distance.

Picture taken at the Piazza Duomo, Trento.

(Thanks to Rohin for the picture.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

May Flies

This is the time of the year when one sees the May Flies. They come in huge colonies especially after a rain. But, it is a sad scene to see. One sees them in the evening hovering around the tube lights. They shed their wings and then they die. All of them. In hundreds.

Every time I see this phenomena, I am left wondering about their life. Philosophically, we can say it represents that life is short and it is to be lived well. But then, did they know that their life is to be so short. If they knew, would they have come out at all. What was their life like till they flew out of their nests. Would they have done something different if they knew that their life was so short ?

Non animal lovers would tell me that they do not have the sense to think on such lines. I believe otherwise. Their wings lie all over, covering the floor. A small gust of wind makes them rise and fly all around. Yes, now it is trash but just a few hours before, they belonged to someone, they had the power of flight.

Again, no answers, just questions ?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hartal in Kerala

Our drive back from Calicut to Coimbatore was eventful. Sunday we were told that the hartal on Monday has been revoked. So, we started off a little late (7:30 a.m.) rather than at 5:00 if there were to be a hartal. Anyways, after uneventful driving clicking pictures and stopping by to enjoy the countryside, we met with our first blockade after Malapuram. Trouble was brewing as we could see from far, and there was a long line of vehicles not being allowed to move. Having to catch a train at 4:30 p.m. we thought we would have enough time in the world. Then came the information from the bus drivers that there were many such blocks all the way to Palakkad. People told us it would be dangerous to go anywhere near trouble and we having TN registration didn't want to take a chance at all.

We got the information from people around that there is another route by which we can clear the block and move on. Wondering how to go about it, and asking people for directions we met two people on a two-wheeler asking us where we wanted to go. On hearing that we had to touch Palakkad, they asked us to follow them and that they would show us the way. They took us through winding roads, for nearly fifteen minutes and more, stopping by to say hello to people on the way, leaving us wondering where we were going to. Then we were reminded of the good samaritans who on our earlier trips had helped us and how we should trust them based on our experiences before. And lo, they got us out on the highway again where we cleared the block. We thanked them adding them on to the list of people who we will remember for a long long time and whose help we have to return just by being like them when the opportunity came.

We crossed two more blocks, especially the third one which took us through bad roads which Arun, if not for the Indica would not have taken. The country side in Kerala is one of extreme beauty, enthralling and captivating at once. Oh! how one would love to retire to such a place. Finally, when we got through Mundur, which people said would be a bottleneck(thankfully and luckily, it wasn't), we were left thinking what an experience it had been; this to be uneventful journey, turned eventful by the hartal and more so by people who provided us information and by those who helped us by showing routes we couldn't have known even if we had a map.

So, to Kerala's hartals through which we saw the best of her people, goes this blog. Few pictures taken on the ride through all the tension. A picture of Arun talking to the bus drivers as well as the five vehicles that took the roads on the third blockade can be seen.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

On a Pedestal

I stand here, in the sun and the rain
In a pose, still forever
Not of my making
Oh my, I feel cramped
Confined and contained
In the midst of the vast expanse.

If I ever knew
That this will be me
After my passing over
I would definitely have made
A dying wish
To forget me forever.

How I wish I could move
Stretch my hands and feet
Walk a little, take a stroll
Fly away, far away
But destined I am
Eternal confinement is mine.

Come sun, come rain
Stuck to this pedestal
No umbrella to cover my bald head
Alteration of heat and cold
Mixed with the dust of the road
Heavy head, insults galore.

I who washed myself
Every morning and evening
Stand here day after day
Bird shit on my head, mixed with the slime
Dripping down my nose
O'er my mouth through my soul.

Oh, I don't abhor the birds
For ignorant are they
Only happy that they have found a perch
To take a break from their flight
And rest their weary wings
For the journey ahead.

Sometimes out of this tedium
Comes a change
When people start looking up at me
Suddenly on a blue moon day
They wash me, polish me
And make me shine till it bothers.

The next day come hoards of people
Dressed in shimmering white
Gold adorning their necks
Besides the stones on their fingers
They bring roses, smelling divine
And garland me over and over.

I know this day from past experience
This euphoria, this love
This show, this pageantry
The sudden swing of mood
The passion of the crowd
Is ephemeral, only for a day.

I hope that through their euphoria
They will see this soul
Contained and confined
Wanting to fly
Away from their show and pageantry
Lies and lies.

The next day dawns as any other
The flowers start to wither
And the scent fades away
So, does my spirit
For I know what's in store
Till another day
This eternal confinement, bird shit and slime.

(Thoughts when I see a freedom fighters statue washed and garlanded by people who profess to love, admire and follow them)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

To do or not to do

The past three weeks has seen nearly 10-15 bees visiting my room everyday. I have followed the policy of loving them. My strong belief is that when you love animals they don't harm you. And upto date, they have never stung me except when I tried to save a bee drowning in the bucket of water with my hand. No, it was no fault of the bee. I have to blame my own stupidity for that.

Today morning I woke up with an insect biting my eyes. I couldn't see what the insect was, but it was painful, and definitely not an ant. Half an hour later, I had hundreds of bees visiting my room. I had to abandon my policy and run, for I can't love hundreds of them the same way at the same time, and jealousy is dangerous. :) An hour later, I helped those still buzzing on my table, bed and floor out of the window.

Went around the building to find a beehive right below my window. Then came the need to make a decision. What should I do ? I can't risk having hundreds of them sting me. But that decision would entail removing their home. Though small, these hardworking insects build amazing homes.

To do or not to do!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cooked up - II

Continuing with my learning.........

7. Bullying takes two forms - soft and hard. The harder form is easier to identify than the softer one. Understand, the softer form, though subtle is more dangerous. Whatever the form, the only answer is a firm fist.

8. When someone tries to put you down, either by word or action, turn deaf.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Paris and Restaurants

Reading a blog on a restaurant in Paris, I am reminded of our experience when we visited Paris in December, 2007. One morning we were starved. We woke up late and were hoping of finding some breakfast. Our knowledge of French is zero, despite my having learnt a bit of French when I was 17. Anyways, we walked into a restaurant and found a table overlooking the road so that we could watch life when having breakfast. Having settled down, we waited for the menu card hoping to have something hot and tasty. The waiter came over, placed a menu card and wanted to know what we'd like to have. We asked if we could have bread and omlette. He told us that they were starting lunch. Going through the menu card, we found most dishes were non-vegetarian. I do have chicken and fish, but my husband is a vegetarian (yes, he does have eggs). We asked him if they had a vegetarian dish. The waiter showed us a salad and said that it was the only vegetarian dish and walked off muttering something in French. We were wondering what that was about. But as you know, things such as love, anger, .... get conveyed easily. It requires no language. We were stupified that a waiter had the audacity to do that. Feeling that it was below our dignity to continue at the restaurant, we walked off hungry, and me thankful that I didn't remember my French. For if I had, and been able to understand what the waiter said, and it was nasty, I would have given back, in the harshest of terms. As they say, sometimes, ignorance is bliss.....

That experience as well as a similar one in a Chinese restaurant in Paris, left a bad taste. Also, we realized vegetarian food is hard to come by in Paris, except for the greens. So, we happily stuck to our Italian menu of pizzas and pastas for the rest of the stay. Our interest to taste Parisian food died with that experience. Maybe some other day, some other time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Playing hide and seek

We see, yet we do not see
We hear, yet we do not hear
We know, still we do not know
We understand, yet we do not understand
We whisper, but we do not talk
That's how we fail.......You.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The smell
How do I explain it
The smell of life
Of thirst quenched
Of warmth
Of happiness to come
Of life to be born
Of abundance.

The smell of first rain
After a long dry hot spell
When the earth quenches her thirst

Monday, May 18, 2009

Humility in Victory and Dignity in Defeat

The Sri Lankan conflict and the Indian elections reminded me so much about the Mahabharatha, the epic story of the conflict between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

Rules were broken in the great war by both parties, which people across sides condemned. A few of them:

1. Abhimanyu, only 16, broke into the Chakravyuha. Totally disarmed he was killed. Rule of war: one cannot fight an unarmed person.

2. Bheeshma killed by Arjuna using Shikandi as a shield. Bheeshma had vowed to fight only against a man.

3. Karna was killed when he was unarmed. Rule of the war was that one could not fight an unarmed person.

4. Duryodhan was killed by Bheema when by using his weapon below the former's hips. You cannot attack a person below the hips.

5. Not to fight an army that has accepted defeat.

6. Not to belittle one's foes after the battle.

7. Valiant defeat is equal to victory in itself. The kauravas though were wrong, fought till the end knowing that they were loosing the battle with dignity. They perished but the point was that they fought valiantly.

8. Disrobing of Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. Respect a woman.

9. The Pandavas, though they won the battle, found that victory was not sweet. They bore the pain of having killed Bhishma, their beloved uncle, their teachers, Dronacharya and Kripacharya, their brothers, Karna and the Kauravas, and lost their own children as well as people whom they loved and revered in the battlefield.

What was taught through the Mahabharatha is relevant to mankind across time.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Choosing one over the other

The morning newspaper had this news. It is disturbing in many ways. One, over life lost, the fish's. Over livelihood lost, the fishermens. More so over the choice, government deciding who is more important.

Dead fish floating in the tank in Atmakur mandal in Warangal district, Andhra Pradesh.

With water becoming a scarcity, the prediction that in the future, major wars would be fought over resources may come true. That is what reading this news revealed this morning.

With summer peaking in the country, many parts are facing acute water shortage. The farmers drew all the water in the tank to save the paddy crop to save their livelihood. In the process, lakhs of fish died killing the livelihood of 200 fishermen families who depended on it. The fingerlings worth Rs.1.5 lakh, jointly run by 200 fishermen under the District Fishermen Cooperative Society, is the only source of income for the fishermen.

Knowing Andhra Pradesh, the farmers enjoy a lot of political support based on social(caste) and economic factors(owners of land). And it being election time, no party would want to antagonize them in fear of loss of votes.

So, the question is: who decides over water and its usage, based on what?. Who decides on the life and livelihood of one over the other. Who decides and on what basis that someone was more important than the other.

Democracy we say. People elected by the people for the people. I can't believe it. Something is missing, I think ? Something important ? The very essence.

Bhutan - In Pursuit of Happiness

Bhutan is a country I have always wanted to visit. Somehow, it has been a dream, actually, more than a dream. I am not sure how to explain it. Every time I think of which country I would like to visit most, the answer has always been Bhutan. The first time I read about the King of Bhutan was when I was in school. It's been on my mind ever since. For me, it is the magical land. A country mostly unknown, but happy and content. That's the picture I've always had. What got me all the more interested about Bhutan was GNH. And how it was conceptualized by the king. How he interpreted life and happiness for his people and for himself.

Gross National Happiness, GNH, is a term expressed by the former King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s to measure development of his country in terms of people's happiness. It is based on the Buddhist thought that the ultimate purpose of life is inner happiness.

In contrast to Gross National Product, GNP, the pursuit is not just for development but for development to achieve happiness. Evaluation is based not on economic benefits but on the happiness they produce for the people.

So, how do they measure happiness? The Bhutanese produced a model consisting of four pillars, nine domains and 72 indicators of happiness. The four pillars involve the economy, culture, environment and good governance. It breakes the pillars into nine domains: psychological well-being, health, education, culture, living standards, time use, community vitality and good governance. Each of the domains have weighted and unweighted GNH index.

Think about it. Development measured in terms of people's happiness. That is what a government should be doing. Looking at every decision taken in terms of whether it will bring more happiness to its people.

I think most of the world's problems will be solved if we follow the model. Unhappiness takes many forms. And the most cruel of them is poverty. An empty stomach drives man, basically an animal, to most forms of crime. Have you compared your state of mind when you've had a good meal and when you're starved ? I for one am impossible to approach when I am hungry. If we could provide the means for each human being to earn his meal for a day, and not worry about where the next day's would come from, most people would be content.

I admire the king. He was a very popular and much loved king, and is still uptodate, though not a king. He resigned and paved way for the country's first democratic election last year. A king stepping away from power - after Ashoka, he maybe the one. He changed the role of the monarchy as one having constitutional power not executive power. He gave the throne to his son. He lives as an example for his people. Respect and admire him for that. A true king. Who or which country wouldn't want to be ruled by such a king? Especially in the age of the politicians as we have today. Forget democracy and communism.

Today, when recession rules, Bhutan stands as a guiding light. It is for other countries to open their eyes and see that guiding light. To follow the path she has taken. Of course, they have not perfected it. But atleast, they are on the right track.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cooked up

Some of the things I've been cooking. Thought I might need an opinion.

1. Don't start anything with "Think I can manage it". Means you can't. Start with "I can do it" and manage if there is a need to.

2. Yes, you've been told: "Be patient. Give people another chance". No one said it has to be the same person all the time.

3. Always have a count: for the number of chances you give someone who is not nice to you. Else, it will become a habit.

4. If you find yourself telling "I am bored" too many times, it means you are not trying hard enough - to do something different.

5. If you feel down, try looking at things you did not care to see everyday. Forget the people and the familiar. A smile will return.

6. Never use the word 'never'. You never know.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Of flavoured toothpaste and the need for a stroll

Oh boy! Following the news of the terrorist attack in Bombay is a punishment in itself. Now, the lone terrorist who was caught needs Urdu newspaper, flavoured toothpaste, the freedom to stroll outside his cell and needs his money to be kept in the jail account. Earlier, his demand was for the entire chargesheet to be translated to Urdu.

From where he comes, people are getting shot on the roads for issues like loving someone. They get stoned and shot and hanged, in public. No, we in India are not as inhumane as that. We have lodged him in prison, given top security to him and provide him what is provided to any other prisoner, maybe more. But flavoured toothpaste. What is he thinking ?

Yes, some would say that even a terrorist has right to life. Human rights. But no one speaks about human rights for people who have been affected forever by him and the stroll that he took that night in Bombay. Many have had their lives snuffed out of them. Their families live in trauma. The wounds of the wounded are yet to heal.

He has shown no remorse and instead has started asking for things. Is he really thinking that he has a right to demand all this from the country he has attacked ruthlessly, or is this the beginning of the set of activities planned to show that he is mentally deranged... I really wonder. Or is his lawyer indulging his fantasies.

Yes, I come from the land of Ashoka and Gandhi. But, I cannot show any pity for someone who has killed my brethren, so ruthlessly. I am unable to understand his extravagant request. I cannot imagine him taking another stroll, wherever that might be.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Once in Five Years

It's the time in every five years I dread. I don't care to read the first page of the newspaper nor pause the remote at any channel that even remotely has the possibility of touching on what I dread to hear. That is, politicians, their election promises and their mud slinging. People and their votes cast into equations with variables as religion, language, caste, tribe, the haves and the have nots.

They are seen suddenly, all over the place. They are back after a long hiatus, fresh to fight another election, knowing that public memory is short. Through posters, cutouts and loudspeakers, with hands together, smile pleasant as ever, and humility all over, they come asking you to vote.

Every year, the promises get stranger and wilder. Last elections, one politician promised TV sets and he did make it. This year, another has taken the cue and promises the same, for his state. One promises free electricity, in a country that has a major shortage of power. Another is issuing ATM cards, trying to get people to believe that the accounts will fill themselves later. Money is moving, in 2-wheelers, 4-wheelers, on road, by air for distribution. The tsunami and the earthquake wouldn't have seen so much money moving, so fast, in such big bundles.

India and us Indians. Most of us are plain. Meaning, naive and believing. We have the poor, the landless, the downtrodden, looking at these people, the neta log, hoping that they will do something that provides them some job, enough atleast to feed themselves for a meal a day. They vote, hoping against hope that something will change in their lives. That they will have a day, when they can go to sleep forgetting where the next days meal will come. A father hoping that he will have enough money to look after his family's basic needs (roti,kapada,makan - food, clothing,shelter). On the other side of the divide there are the rich. Some of them are honourable men, I should say. But, as of today, most of them are worried that the recession has nibbled a few crores from their overflowing purses. They vote, but they don't care much as they know the political class works for them. Then there is the huge mass of in betweens, the middle class. This strata is the strangest. This is the lot who are educated, have jobs big and small. Many in this lot especially don't care much about voting. No, not that they have given up. Many of them have not voted since they turned 18 because they do not think much of politics. They feel their vote doesn't make a difference, and who gets elected and who does not, makes no difference to them. But the majority do go to vote ofcourse, hoping again, that things will become better. Falling in this category, voting has been a time of happiness, for I feel the power of my vote, despair, for things have changed but not enough and sometimes for the worse. It has become difficult to decide who to vote for. The person is good, the party is not, the party is not good....... it is a time for tradeoffs. By good I mean, what she envisions, what she wants to do and what she has already done. And these tradeoffs cost so much finally.

The parties have different names, symbols and profess to be different. But finally, they are one and the same. They have on their printed sheets policies and ideologies different, but look beyond and they are all one and the same. Their allegiance is to the respective party high command, then their state high command, then the district high command, then the party, and last is the nation, if they care to and have the time to remember. They fight in parliament, out of parliament, fight everywhere, wasting time and money.

Once the election is over, they don't let it go. They keep dissecting it, in different ways and continue to see if some combination will get them where they want to be. This combination checking continues over five years till they touch the next election. They are never happy with the seat they have got. Instead of going about their jobs and letting their work move them up, they work to move up, their actual jobs relegated to a distant second.

Sometimes, I wonder. Am I asking for the moon ? Of course not. If good governance is asking for the moon, then I guess we should do away with elections. Clean drinking water, proper sanitation, good roads, proper health care facilites, avenues for employment - are these too much to ask for. Use the time in parliament productively, put in your best. This is all a common man in India would ask for. We are a people, who live within our means, who are happy with our simple lives.

Still, like every time since 18, I hope to vote this election too. For, as of today, all I can do is to vote. Vote for the person who I think is best suited for the job. And look forward.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Circle of Control

Having only an RAC (Reservation after Cancellation) ticket on my journey from Hyderabad to Coimbatore, I was hoping that I would get a berth. For otherwise, I would have to sit for 21 hours. I met the ticket checker before boarding the train. He asked me to sit in my seat and assured me that in case a berth was vacant, he would assign it to me, being RAC 1. He seemed a very calm and quiet person.

He came on his usual rounds and checked all our tickets. He also had a string of people queueing up behind him asking if they had a chance. And he kept moving up and down the three A/c compartments with this string of people behind him. He did not even by glance give any idea of whether I had a chance.

So passed two hours before he made his arrival. And, there he goes directly to the person having RAC 2 and looks at his chart to assign the tickets. My co-passenger asked me what my number was. I told him that mine was number one, but he was assigning it first to the others and that I was wondering why. The co-passenger told the ticket checker that I had RAC 1.

The ticket checker looked at me and said, "Yes, yes". And then he announced in a loud and pompous manner, "Single ticket(meaning, you are travelling alone). You have to get out of this compartment ?" I found that a little rude, given that he made the announcement loud enough for people in three coupe's to hear. Taken aback a little, I managed to keep my cool, laughed and said, "To where ?".

I was to move to the next compartment. RAC 2,3,4 were allocated berths next to each other because they were travelling as a family.

Set me thinking, he was showing of his authority, wasn't he ? And he did get maximum mileage out of it. So, every person within their purview or circle of control, tries to throw their weight around. The ticket checker, outside the circle of the particular train he is in, has no power at all. So, that is the only place where he rules, and he ensures that he rules.

Go to a government office. The peon throws his weight around. He decides whether to let us into the officer's room or not. And he ensures that we know who is in control there. Especially, if you are a common man. So much for a peon in his territory, the government office. Same with teachers, bank officers and people in many other professions.

Don't we all do the same ? At home, at work, ........ Funny how much power means to us......

Monday, April 20, 2009

Musings of a train journey

I boarded the train early morning. Being a day journey, it was a chair car. I was waiting for passengers to board, hoping for something interesting to start the day as sleep eluded me despite having woken up at 3:00 a.m. Came a couple, around their 50s, man in a safari suit, to find that they, husband and wife had seats in two rows, one behind the other. Hence, they decided that they would sit in the same row of two seats, and ask the other person to move to the row at the back.

Fifteen minutes later came the other kathapathram (actor in malayalam) of the story, the man in white. He came up looked at the piece of paper in his hand. He told the man in the safari that the seat he was sitting is allocated to him as per the ticket. The man in the safari told him that yes, and asked him, "Could you sit in the seat behind ? It is mine". The man in white went over to the seat behind and put his luggage on the rack above.

The man in the safari said, "Hope you do not have a problem in moving over". To which the man in white answered, "You have already decided that I will have to sit here. Then what is the problem ?" The man in the safari said, "That is why I am asking if you have a problem in sitting there ?". The man in white said, "It is okay" and went to meet the rest of his family sitting on the other side of the compartment.

When the man in white was comfortably out of ear shot, the man in the safari tells his wife, "Look at him, how big his ego is? I just asked him to sit behind and he has to speak like this."

That got me wondering... who is the person with the ego, the man in the safari or the man in white. Wasn't it already decided by one who came early where the other should sit ? Was that right ? What would the man in safari have said if the man in white had refused to part with his seat ?

Of course, one has to adjust during a journey. But can one expect the other to toe their line of adjustment ?

As I was musing about one and the other, the train started moving. I was happy that the small issue did not lead to flared nerves. Smiled thinking, maybe the early morning, still half asleep and the air conditioning in the compartment have to be thanked.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The pain of being

Why are you like this
Why are you not like that.

Why do you speak like this
Why do you not speak like that.

Why are you doing like this
Why are you not doing like that
Why, why, why.......

Why not
Why can I not be like this
Why should I be like that
Why can't I be
Just me.....................

First They Came...

THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

and by that time no one was left to speak up.

- Martin Niemoller

(Niemoller spoke out against the Nazis, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

To the Rain God

Lying in bed
Eyes closed
Ruminating the heat
Dreams uncoming.

Suddenly could be heard
The chatter of the seven sisters
The song of the cuckoo
The call of the peacock.

Mind starts working
The symphony familiar
Heard before
But where wondered.

Eyes opened
Behold on the tree
Sat the cuckoo
Her song peaking.

Suddenly remembered
The scene seen before
The symphony best ever
Called "Welcoming the Rain".

The ceremonial dance
Euphoric and ecstatic
In knowledge of the arrival
Of a guest unparalleled.

And minutes later
Came the breeze
Cool and refreshing
Herald of the Rain God.

Splitter, splitter, splatter
Disc lights bright
Drums accompanying with splendour
Performance begins.

Like a seed I've felt
In the ground parched
Waiting for the first drop
Eager to sprout.

Having felt toasted
Sauted and barbecued
Days on end
Happiness flowed over.

Watched with wonder
Shower blowing in
Hours on end
Nature's miracles.

(Thoughts when it rained after days of searing heat)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesdays with Morrie

I am currently reading 'Tuesdays with Morrie' by Mitch Albom. It is the true story of Morrie Schwartz, a professor of sociology and his relationship with his students. Knowing fully well that he was dying, the professor chooses to make his last days meaningful not only for his family, friends and students but also for the community at large. The relationship between the teacher and the student(Mitch Albom) is a gift many yearn to have. A book that is a must read I would say, especially for those aspiring to be academicians. A gist of the book can be found at:

Killing Enthusiasm

Four days in a row
Tried and tried
The same thing
O'er and o'er again.

Motivation high
Enthusiasm peaking
Rallied on and on
To get the thing going.

The big day came
With happiness posted
Hoping for reviews
To move up a plane.

Waited and waited
Walked the corridor
Hoping against hope
For people never coming.

Finally came the news
It was not to be
Dejected and angry
Enthusiasm went awry.

The second day
Writ large on the face
Was disinterest total
Excuses to be.

Duped now again
Second year in a row
Why know not I
Lesser mortals maybe.

Next year same time
Will enthusiasm drive
Will motivation exist
Know not I.

Intelligent Homes

Well, or should the title read 'Futuristic Homes'. Reading the article felt like out of science fiction. What else could one think of about houses that reminds you your medication, measures your pulse rate, mirrors that remind you to brush your teeth, wash your hands and bathrooms that suit your specific needs. Reminded of the TV series 'Star Trek'.....

Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer University have come up exactly with something like that.... read on. Dreams, wild and crazy in the old ages but set to become a reality in the future.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Well, what does one do when someone tries to further their own agenda through you ? How do you identify it and cut them out ? Difficult for me, but I have seen many people handling such situations beautifully. I for one get caught with mixed emotions, not exactly upset and not exactly angry.

Why ?
Why can't people be straight ?
Why can't people learn
To do things by themselves
To earn their own rewards
Why such scant disregard for a fellow human
Why such insensitivity
Why such ....................

Questions and questions, but no answers...................

I am reminded of Leo's poem 'Why ?'.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The wedding between a crow and a bird

A saying in India, if it rains when the sun is shining high. That is what happened today. Peak summer, the afternoon was scorching. And then at 4:00 p.m., one heard the sound of thunder. It rained, with the sun still shining. It reminded me of the old saying, something I heard from my mom when I was a kid. "Kaakakum kuruvikum kalyanam" (in Malayalam). The same exists in Tamil too. I asked her then what it meant - of how a crow can marry a bird. She told me that it was metaphorical. Thinking again of the saying, it probably spoke of the variances in nature. Of the differences we have and how to coexist. Of how two people may not be alike but can do things together. Beauty and the beast, remember. Of love maybe, of friendship across language, colour, cultures, religion ...... I have heard that there are similar sayings in other cultures. We the human kind think so much alike despite the differences we have.

Old men were wise, weren't they. Just that we aren't ready to listen maybe, and think a wee little bit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lab Day 2009

We celebrated the Lab Day on March 7th, 2009. Photos show the SE group. To my left is my supervisor, Prof. Hrushikesha Mohanty.

Over a cup of coffee...............

With some of the alumnus

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's spring

Of late, my blog has become too much negative. What with notes about people who are insensitive and nasty, wicked and shrewd, sharp tongued and idiotic. I think I am giving too much space for these worthless beings and these worthless issues. They are not worth my energy(as of now, I have very little of it) and my time. So, let's move on............

Looking at the tree outside my window, helped me look at life afresh. Her leaves were dark green during the rains and then through winter they stayed that way till they all shed. Early January, she stood just like a skeleton. And then, I found shoots coming off her branches, young leaves. Brown in colour they soon turned light green. Today the whole tree is covered with leaves, a very pleasant and lively shade of green. For me it signified the curve of life.... the tune of life.... the turn of events......

So, here we go. Doing away with the old and looking forward to the new, to pick the best and interact with the best. To steer clear off the rubbish.....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lesson unlearnt

Abraham Lincoln's letter to His Son's Teacher

He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,
there is a dedicated leader...
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,

Steer him away from envy,
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick...
Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books...
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat...
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong...
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon...
Teach him to listen to all men...
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad...
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness...
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he's right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient...
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do...
He is such a fine fellow,
my son!

That is a tall order to teach of course but if not in a school where else can it be learnt. One thing for sure my school didn't teach me is how to handle bullies, people who are nasty and insensitive. Nowadays, one finds more of such kind. and can't run away but has to live with them, day in and day out. My experience with bullies has increased especially in the past three years. The first year was horrible, and later though lesser, it continues. The environment aids them too. And being ill equipped to handle such kinds, is so much negative in the current scenario.

Reading this letter of Lincoln's, that is one thing my teachers never ever taught me. Other things have been there at different levels but the bullies and the tough part is missing. Maybe I wasn't listening properly in class. This letter also means so much for these things are to be learnt in school, when one is growing up, when the foundations are being built. So...

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Best

'The Best' is a term used so commonly without considering sensibilities of the person or people whom you utter it to. Is there anything, place, person or thing that can be called 'the best'. When comparing things, maybe. But when speaking about capabilities in people, would it be right ? Ofcourse one can call something 'one of the best' in the world. But, 'the best', no way. Many people would disagree, but I beg to differ.

I have heard it so often that nowadays it annoys me so much when I hear it uttered. It leaves me rattled as to what the educated man speaking on the dias means or does not mean. And the student who hears it and repeats without a thought is doing ? Having been used to hearing that a particular language is the best in the world, a particular race is the best, a particular literature is the best, it was new that they have now started calling minds belonging to particular people or race as the best. I wonder where they get it from. And whether, they have pondered over the line before including it in their list of favourite lines.

Starting to think at an atomic level, can I say for sure that my mind is better than someone else's. That would be sheer arrogance. So, wouldn't it be the same if I compared people, saying a particular race is better or a particular nation's people have a better mind ? That too in an environment working with youth.

What is being indirectly inculcated is ignorance and brashness, intolerance and one upmanship. But the ignorant youth lap it up and use it without thinking twice. Of course one has to be proud of one's land, heritage, culture, languages and its myriad colours. But then, one also has to understand and learn to be humble about it. Not brash. The best phrase would be 'one of the best'. There is so much beauty and meaning in the term. It speaks about inclusiveness, understanding and tolerance which is lacking in our societies today. It is so much more important in an educational setup where minds are being built. Where we students look up to educated men as role models. Where we aspire to grow like them, to travel around the world bringing laurels to ourselves and our nation.

The Vedic saying 'Vasudeva Kutumbakam', means, 'The cosmos is one family'. Better put, 'The world is my family'.

India for one has been known for her inclusiveness. That is why we are still able to exist with so many religions, so many customs, different people, different ways of life and beliefs. But this has been eroding for a long time now. Instances like when a religion preaches, that only its people will attain heaven, when people look down on customs of another, when people close their noses to the aroma of food cooked by different people, when people laugh and smirk at other people clothes. Every time we do any of this, we are looking down on ourselves. On our culture and heritage which we are so lucky to inherit. Every time we try to put someone down we defeat ourselves and our way of life.

Such a small phrase, but makes a world of difference, doesn't it ?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Brilliant idea

This photo was found posted on Tom Gruber's blog. The photo is taken at the Taj Mahal, Agra. The grass mower is connected to the bullock carts. Every ten minutes, work stops and the cut grass is eaten up by the bulls. Brilliant idea!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Long ago, I read about someone (I don't remember his name) who made a wishlist of all the things he wanted to do in this life. And he has been fulfilling them - ticking them off one after another. From then on, it has been on my mind and I have been adding things to my wishlist. Some of them are far fetched, I know. Still, I have fulfilled some, and am on the way to achieving others. Like, 'Travel to Europe' came true when I visited Trento, Italy. Climibing a mountain also came true when we trekked Mt. Marzola and Mt. Bondone, though with Mt. Bondone, we did not go all the way to the peak. Again, walking alone on the road without fear at 12 is something I did at Trento. Waiting for a day when I can do it at home. I am currently doing my Ph.D. So, have started off. Hopefully, someday, I will look for items missed out rather than pick from many...... There are some which are weird and which I may turn away from later. So, to not leave any option, I thought it best to publish it. A dare on myself. Arun, I know I will always have your support - but now, maybe I will need a push. No promises, only tries.

Boring, life would be, if not for our wildest wishes, fantasies and dreams. So, to life.............(say cheers!!!!!!!)

The Art of Deception

How often has one been told: "Do not judge a book by its cover". One learns it very young at school. Still, we are so easily misled. I guess, it is one of those lines that has to be learnt the hardest way. It is one of those, that has to be learnt by experience.

We find people around us, who behave like friends but are not. You see people who speak so sweetly, that one can't imagine a harsh word from their mouth. And then, lo, it falls on you - taking you aback, leaving you dazed. You wonder whether you should believe your own ears. And you know others will not believe if you did tell them. Hallucinating, they would say. Liar, they would call you.

The art is practised and perfected so well by some people, one has to come across such a one to believe. They look frail, soft and innocent to the world, In sunlight, they play music, so sweet, that the world will dance to their tunes. But come night, behind the curtains, they turn venomous, so much that one bite will leave you scarred for a lifetime. Poor hapless souls, who come across one such as these. Deliverance is difficult and life a nightmare.

Then, of course, there is the other kind. The one who looks ruthless and bloody to the whole world. But the inside, is soft as soft can be. A gem. Always faulted and looked down upon, they don't care about what the world has to say and decide to play to the music of the world, keeping them happy. Only those closest to them know and understand. People who come across such a one, usually turn away, out of ignorance. They look for glamour in the cover. Besides, it takes quite an amount of patience and understanding to be friends with them.

But one thing is for sure. One friend of the latter kind is a blessing. For in them, one finds true friendship. And better than a zillion acquaintances of the former kind.

Abdul Sattar Edhi

Browsing through the net, I came across this simple and honourable person. Honourable because his life is examplary. Humanity still exists in human beings - an example of the human spirit.



Benchmarking - be it in industries, methodologies, or software development, all processes are benchmarked. Why ? To compare if what one has is equal to the best in the world. Then there are personal benchmarks too... in all possible places and occasions. Isn't bargaining against a benchmark ? Isn't trying to achieve set against a benchmark ? Personal or professional, private or public, benchmarks exist. And it exists so that best practices can be emulated, can be followed and tested against. And, this word has been something that has always got me thinking. Actually, it has helped in setting personal goals, in pushing myself that extra mile to achieve something. For beyond that, I know there is no horizon. It is where I decide whether to walk, run or fly.... and I love that. Not that I have reached that point very often. It has been very very rare. And those are moments when I have exceeded my own expectations and surprised myself. And when I felt a high. It is difficult to explain the emotion.

But, of late, speaking about benchmarks is a taboo word especially where I work today. The question that comes back very often is, "Why should we always compare ourselves with others ? Why can't we set our own path ?" True, very true. But remember, man never reinvented the wheel. The wheel looks the same from the ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harappa, uptodate. You know why ? Because there is no better design for a wheel and it is utter folly to try to better it. That is exactly the point. When you have examples of how to do something perfectly, why not learn from it and then try to fly from there - that is when we become "pathbreakers". Wouldn't that be better than having to spend time the experimental way to reach the same point. Imagine scientists trying to find their own way from scratch for every experiment. We never would have got where we are today. True, environment and scenarios vary. Also true, creativity and innovation is vital. Important also is that one tries to do something differently. The point is when are where do you decide to do it. And given the time and resources, how to increase productivity. Hence, learn from best practices followed in a similar environment if any, and then innovate.

So much for benchmarking. It has left me wondering if I am starting to grow old. But then, I realized, definitely not. It requires some amount of experience and some amount of understanding to get to that point. And that comes with maturity. Till then, I guess I will find people just stating, "Why should we do it like them ? Why can't we try to do differently ?"
Answer: What are you trying to do? What is the goal ? Has it been done before ? And at what costs ?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Overheard conversation

While shopping for groceries in a supermarket, I overheard a conversation between a man and a woman. I was standing nearby but out of their view.

Gentleman : Hello!
Lady: (Looking at him straight) Hello!
Gentleman : Do I know you ?
Lady : No, you don't.
Gentleman: But, I think I have met you before. Haven't I?
Lady: I have no idea.
Gentleman: You are here alone ?

At this point, I stay on put wondering if the lady will need help, just in case. Just then, a child enters the stage.
Child: Mummy, see this!!!!
Gentleman: (Looks up at the Lady)
Lady: (Looks at the man)
Both start laughing.

The child holds onto the man's hand and shows his daddy what he found. The father was dressed in a yellow shirt and black pant, the lady in a yellow saree and the child in a yellow shirt and fawn trouser.

Cheers !!! To the happy family !!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The 'This Day in History' section features today the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa). Memories come back of last December when we visited Firenze(Florence) and Pisa. From Florence we took the train to Pisa. Remember walking towards the tower, thru the stone paved streets and the across the bridge, eyes towards the sky waiting for the tower to show up. And then, we come across the tower, leaning to one side at the Piazza del Duomo. Amazed, we stand there stupified, wondering if a push will make it fall. Of course a lot of people were trying to take photos, playing with visual illusions, trying to push or hold the tower.

There was the tower, tilted to one side. Against the clear sky that day, with the sun starting to set, the shadow falling on the ground, we waited our turn to go up the tower. The steps leading to the top of the tower showed age, showed the impressions of immumerable footsteps (wear and tear). Walking up the tower, round and round, one does feel the centre of gravity shifting. The fifth floor, gives you a chance to view the city and then wanting to reach the top. Once up there, the view is beautiful.

The chance to see and go up the tower of Pisa, one of the wonders of the world, was a dream. A dream carried on from the history books at school. And on 26th December, 2007, it came true. The tower of Pisa is a work of art as well as an example of conservation. Man and nature creating something extraordinary and beautiful.