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.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Man, I say!!!

Reading the paper for the past few days, I have come to dread it. The massacre (that's what I would term it, rather than war) going on in Gaza makes me wonder sometimes about human nature itself. Everyday, I open the newspaper hoping for news of a ceasefire. Not having the chance to watch TV, I feel blessed. The picture today in the paper of three kids, dead, gave me a chill.

Killing in varied forms is going on around the world. But, whether at home or whether abroad, the ones who are caught are civilians. Innocent people always. Terrorists, suicide bombers and religious fanatics all thirst just for blood. Whose blood, does not matter to them. Yes, numbers do matter. So, sometimes I feel, that they have left the politicians and the rulers alone. Heightened security has played a role as is the fear of massive repurcursions if a leader is killed. Instead, they have found innocent civilians the best targets. The only change being the numbers. A bomb killing five, ten or even 20 people makes news, but not big enough. It has to be in hundreds today. So much for advancement.

In the process, women and children become targets; 'easy targets' in political parlance. Sierra Leone, Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Kashmir, ......... different places, different people, different issues. Rape, is a common weapon of war. As is the issue of the lost generation. Young men turn fighters and then, when there are no more young men, children as young as young can be, are turned into soldiers. The root cause of problems can be boiled down to poverty, chaos, disease and war. One leads to another and the ripple effect is difficult to contain. So much for us calling ourselves beings with six senses. The lesser ones are so much better and advanced than us. I don't want to turn it into a political analysis or write history. But the picture made me want to think of something positive. Call it impractical, hallucination, running away from reality, whatever, but 'hope' is all I can do. Hoping that troubled times will end soon, that mankind will see, will open their eyes. To reality.

Wish I would wake up to a day
A day when
Mankind gets permanent amnesia
Of the kinds
Religous amnesia
War amnesia
Weapon amnesia
Amnesia to shrewdness
Amnesia to jealousy
Amnesia to hatred
Amnesia to one-upmanship
But then, if it happens
Man will not be man anymore
He will become GOD
And there we go back
To the point of all problems.