Monday, September 29, 2008
A conversation with a friend is reproduced below : Friend: I cant tell my parents about my decision. I am too afraid. Me: Why not? Friend: Because it would wreck their reputation in society. The pre and post of this conversation is irrelevant. I am sure many of you must've had this conversation with someone before and been party to similar lines. My irritation is with the word 'reputation'. A general definition of the word reputation is 'what the world thinks of you when they hear your name'. But I completely disagree with this definition. I believe that reputation is a function of the friends you keep. Here's an explanation: All of us have different types of friends. And these friends define the kind of barriers we break and the kind of levels of achievement we reach. For example a brand conscious friend might be able to develop a love or hatred of brands in you, or a friend who reads a lot might set reading standards. The simple fact is that reputation is about what levels your friends set. It is what they perceive you to be. Which means if I have friends who tolerate drinking and smoking, they might not really have an issue in anyone adopting these vices. However for friends who stay miles away from tobacco and alcohol, someone with these habits might seem irritating. (Variations to this rule exist too!). The point I am trying to make is that when reputation is an arbitrary value, why are our individual actions held to guilty. In the case above , a friend is going to be held guilty because her parents' society perceives that action as wrong. The bar is set for her and the cost of breaking that bar, is an 'indecent' label and the cost of hurting one's parents. Here, the girl is not at fault for trying something new, the parents' (at the risk of sounding 'outrageous'!) are at fault for setting rules as per external entities. Sometimes arbitrary values, control our lives in such a funny manner. I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.--Maya Angelou
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
"..As Indians we are obsessed with icons. We keep searching for them..creating them and then destroying them. I think instead of searching for icons, we should search for quality of action and emulate that. We should replace icons with the action that makes them the icon. That is my dream for India. And in a nation as diverse as ours, its not an impsossible dream. "---Aruna Roy, Founder of the NREGA and the RTI Act.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
They wrapped your coffin in red and khadi While you slept a sleep well earned The nation and its news channels talked about how many bodies you burnt In the debris of archives and news print your sacrifice will be forgotten galantry awards will be bestowed politics will take its turn Sleep well mighty warrior your death provides relief to many you wiped the dust off the face of humanity Because in the hype and hoopla surrounding Mohan C Sharma's death, we may forget the person and the being...what relief he bought to many Indian homes...we may also forget many unknown unsung deaths. Surely a warrior's blood is the most useful of all. It sheds to protect humanity.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
A few days back I checked out the profile of an estranged friend. We parted ways on a professional note in college. The reason was a post in a committee in college that was denied to me. Manipulative politics ensured that the position in that committee taken away from me because of false rumors and mud slinging. I took it in my stride( obviously hurt) and moved on. The committee continues to be a part of the college and all this friend took for throwing me out of the committee was a certificate. Yes work was done, but at the cost of dumping competition. Now many years later, I smile looking at the reasons we fought over. In the large game of life, a certificate hardly mattered. Most B-Schools and Universities hardly look beyond the essays and academics. After the cutoff clearance in college and post one year in a working environment, the marks also hold little value. What holds may be is the effort that was put in and the learning that was acquired in the experience. I missed out on the learning and the friend gained on it. I learnt that the surest way to break your own personal confidence is by removing competition from your way. Its a short term solution to a long term problem. What I feel sad about is that college committees are increasingly becoming playgrounds for manipulative politics. Agreed, that politics is a part and parcel of life, but so is team building. I am personally against committees that involve professors in an authoritative role, because it undermines the autonomy of the team and the team leader. However the 20s are hardly an age of maturity. And thats why most committees involve some faculty. Most of the time its this thin thread that binds most members of the team. However there are times when to form strong teams or cartels, there is a certain amount of manipulative politics that has to be played. Its supposed to be justified because it makes sure that all like-minded people move ahead. In which case, what forms a clique and what does not is arbitrary. And how is the unfairness of being left out argued? By saying that the person did not play necessary politics? I'd say itsa necessary evil in the corporate world. But its hardly a substitute for honesty, a virtue that gets wrapped in the garb of diplomacy, ever so often. At a B-school function, Kalpana Morparia (Now Country Head of JP Morgan India) , spoke about the rise of ICICI Bank as the largest private sector bank. In her entire speech she never used to word 'I'. Rather she emphasised the need for better teams for effective solutions. Truly, some of the greatest teams have brought about the greatest revolutions. Steve Jobs may be the face, but a strong better team is the body of Apple's stupendous success. As I said before, I smiled at the profile. I smiled because I hoped that the friend would have understood this by now.
My post on the hype around Gurgaon drew a lot of ire, appararently for my "snobbish" take on cycle rickshaws. As I said before its not like I am against cycle rickshaws. Just that they being the only means of transport in a city touted to be a tier1 city is a joke. Other modes of transport will allow the citizen to choose the best means to get to a place. And most large cities, provide multiple transport options between point A and B A quick search led to this article about cycle rickshaws. They have,since long, added a romantic feel to places like Delhi and Chandigarh and serve the best means of transport for short distances. So in preparation for the Commonweath Games 2010, which will see an influx of tourists, the Ministry of Urban Development has decided to license the aproximate 900,000 cycle rickshaws. The rickshaw-walas will undergo a course on etiquettes in preparation for the Games. They will be provided a multi-utility biocryptic genkey card, a multi-purpose card which which will serve as a licence, bank card, insurance and health card. The new rickshaws will come with an embedded microchip and be pulled by men in blue uniforms, with name badges. They will provided with an insurance of 50K and a 25k passenger insurance along with other perks like, free painting of rickshaws. A large part of the solution to most urban problems lies in making the best use of the available resources. By involving the rickshawallahs in the Games and providing incentives to them, the Delhi Transport Ministry will ensure that the resources in hand are utilised to the hilt for the games. More on rickshawallahs and how they helped save(well almost!)the life of a blogger.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Patchi has come to Mumbai! Finally...My favourite chocolate store has opened in Mumbai, at the Atria Mall. If you find me in a daze, anytime in that mall, you can guess what I have eaten excessively!! Address : Atria Mall Shop #65 & 66, Ground Floor Dr. A.B. Road Worli Mumbai-400018 Phone: 022-24813430
Most people who are earning in the same category as I am, aspire to own a flat. And being a part of the booming economy they would want to own a flat in some of the poshest areas in town. One of my uncles who landed in Mumbai was looking for a flat with a wider budget. Hell with the loan rates, people are picking up property like never before. Its not the existence of the bubble, rather the cash disposal that is allowing them to do so. The sliding of salaries is being felt at the middle order, not at the the top. So anyways, my uncle decided to search for a flat in Mumbai, but there is absolutely nothing..I repeat nothing that one can buy for under 1 crore. A two bedroom flat in a good locality (secular neighbours,proximity to colleges, proximity to relatives, social status all contribute to this tag) is simply out of reach. So my uncle settled on the idea to buy a flat with an affordable property value in any of the tier 1 cities in India. The prices may be worth the buy there. One of the cities listed for a 'realty' visit was Gurgaon. Most media today, has hyped Gurgaon to be the most sought after destination for porperty. NDTV Profit regularly showcases property deals touching new highs in this to be-tier 1 city. But its just that. Good Old Hype. Points that should make you think twice before investing in Gurgaon : 1. BAD BAD BAD Infrastructure : I know there is an SEZ tag attached to it. Some of the biggest companies have set up shop. But they have done so with generators. Power cuts are routine. (Blessed is Mumbai!!) 2. ROAD: There are expressways connecting the city to Delhi. But just like our Western Express Highway, which becomes clogged with traffic during rains, the expressways connecting to Delhi are rendered useless in the rains. The inland roads are a sham. Especially the main roads, connecting the residential areas to the industrial areas. Posh areas, where residents can afford to build roads are saner to drive on. They are invariably the most picturised, when the topic comes to the 'shining story' of Gurgaon. 3. TRANSPORTATION: Manual Rickshaws. I am sorry to sound snobbish, but I didnt even know what this is. Till a friend forwarded a picture which can be viewed here. There is not set fare either. 4. WATER: Erratic water supply. When the four basic amenities arent in proper order, it hardly seems like the destination to head to. My best bet for real estate now would be either Hyderabad or Chennai. They are developing in the right sense and Chennai has a really good environment. Apart from the weather and sensible real estate rates, it boasts of decent infrastructure. Of course, I call it decent because I am comparing it with Mumbai which has currently three different ways to reach a destination-train,bus,rickshaw/cab. There is going to be a fourth addition, when the metro rail comes into existence. All this is wonderful compared to Gurgaon and other cities, but for a city with 20 million plus people, Mumbai is bursting at the seams. I still consider myself lucky to be in Mumbai. Till then,stay far far away from Gurgaon.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I loved the Love Story. It had everything in the right proportion and yet it was subtle and simply beautiful. However Doctors fails in the end.The true worth of an author is known after each an every book of his/her is read and reviewed. Erich Segal is no different. There are many more brilliant novels that he's written, but this one, poised to a be a good novel, lets you down in the last few chapters. Doctors is about Barney and Laura and their friendship. Barney who holds the reputation of a problem-solver and a dedicated friend is a character that evolves to be a psychologist and the friend on whose shoulder everyone cries. Laura begins the novel by showing ambitious and progressive traits, but loses self-esteem after her family breaks apart. Their friendship eventually ends in love, as is told in the blurb. However what irks the reader is how late this development takes place. It makes me wonder why the writer didnt explore their love story early on in the book and why their marriage and togetherness is kept for the later chapters. At many points in the book, when you know that 'love will happen', Segal adds an unncecessary twist. Barney's character is a favourite with the woman readers('I wish I get a hubby like Barney' squeals were audible when I said that I was going to read the book) loses confidence towards the end, when his own son is diagnosed with a disease. The hysteria of both the parents over their son's disease is understandable, but fails to strike a chord. The backdrop of medical research and Harvard Medical School is interesting. Seth Lazarus and Bennett Landsmann are endearing characters, bringing the euthanasia and racist angles to the story respectively. There are many things that I didnt know about Med School, which come to the fore...like the mnemonics used to remember different types of proteins and the fall of relationships owing to Med School pressures. Read this book if you have nothing else at hand.