Saturday, December 31, 2011

In 2012 I resolve to...

Just a few more days to welcome another year and I'm not surprised that the year-end rule is followed this time, too. Resolutions are back with a vengeance. The same old rut : will hit the gym more, eat less and save more, will change the job, pick up that hobby and try for a baby et al !

Over the top of my head flew a few ideas that could make the list of resolutions shorter the following year, if adhered to.

All employees (Male & Female):

1. Stop walking in with a sullen face every morning. (No one is indispensable. If you are working at any place it's because you choose to do so.)
2. Stop making your presence felt at the workplace and do the job you are hired for. (Learn to earn your keep).
3. Stop looking for brownie points when you step in for your absent colleagues. (Points earned thus can turn into long ropes soon).
4. If you call in sick, please have some patience. Do not brag about the party you hosted the very day you return.
5. Stop cribbing about others not doing their job if you choose to be seen with the Boss. (Nothing comes free and easy).

All employers (Male & Female)

1. Stop acting blind. If you can't hike salaries, good words can keep the morale of staff up.
2. Strengthen your spine and walk up to the employees who are not heard or easily seen. They help you meet daily deadlines, not the ones who make the loudest noise and shake hands with you.


1. Stop posting positive quotes on facebook just because others are doing it. (First practise them, if it works for you then go ahead)
2. Stop replying to comments on discussions just because you need to have the last word. (Let not your character be an open case-study)
3. Stop reposting portraits of self that received fewer comments. (Brush up on response-analysing skills)

Housewives & Livelihood earners on returning home :

1. Stop complaining about lack of time to exercise. (Spend less time at the dining table or on internet - whichever is your bigger vice)
2. Don't wait to be invited by teetotaller friends. Visit them. They are human beings too just like the company you enjoy of men who booze or women who gossip or vice-versa.
3. Stop judging others even before you interact with them. (At least you'll learn why they never took the first step).
4. Learn to compliment boastful and I-know-it-all acquaintances the moment they get on a roll. (That's the easiest way to shut them up at the earliest and you get a chance to exercise positiveness)
5. Understand everything with relatives is relative. Either take their words with a sack of salt or ignore them, whichever is less labourious.

Teenagers :

1. Stop slaughtering English language in the name of virtual lingo, lest you forget the correct version. Your kids will be required to study A-Z alphabets and the basic words. 'd' for 'the' will take decades more to make it into the English lexicon.

Tweens (9 to 12 year-olds)

1. Begin to eat at least one vegetable and a fruit once a week.
2. Don't create facebook accounts. Wait for your turn. You will not regret it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Anna Hazare walks into history books

It's all happening at a frenzied pace. With just a few days more for the winter session of parliament to end, Anna team is pressing the hazard buttons harder, the Opposition is desperately muddying waters further to pounce on the last fish; media is haunting anybody termed a politician to air their views; columnists are squeezing in a few lines before the next drama begins...
Whatever happens in this Parliament session I’m not particularly worried (apart from a chunk of public money wasted yet again with nothing constructive to show for) because there’s a hero out there. No, not in Mariah Carey’s heart. In the hearts of millions of Indians.
Anna Hazare – the man you can either hate or love but cannot ignore.
The Grand Old Man of modern India is determined to run the course. How long it will take, only time will say for the Bill is just the first lap of the long marathon he has set on. It’s a long track out to thousands of village and city corners. But he has already carved a path – one into history books. I can see children naming his head on exercise sheets and mugging up his bio-data for exams.
If the two Indian of the Year awards he is conferred with is anything to go by, it’s just a matter of time when regional news channels will queue up propelling his move into the world of academics.
He simply deserves to be studied. For it's no mean feat to have aroused the collective conscience of the nation after six decades. To have shaken the masses and the classes equally is commendable. No wonder he needed the aid of two heroes. His provocative speeches many a times have not settled down well with me. A Gandhian cannot influence the electorate any one way, I believe. But guess that’s the Shivajinism needed to wake up hi-tech mortals from their conscious slumber.
However, I wonder where his impatience stems from. If the so-called powers that be did mention the winter session for the Bill, shouldn’t he have given them the space to act? Threats of fasts, debates, mud-slinging… all through were not called for. This is when I’m forced to believe reports in certain sections of the media about his “team calling the shots”. Definitely a person who has worked against odds and transformed his entire village will know better. Then why this rush?  Waited for 60 long years is the oft-repeated conclusion. No more time to be wasted!
So what happens if another session goes waste? Will Annaji fast a fourth time before the year ends? Well, it's just another week that we need to wait. Fast or protest, the Bill will see the light of the day, indeed. As for the fruits of the proposed Bill, it shouldn’t matter if it takes another 60 years to cleanse the nation, for the process for another first is begun. The world’s largest democracy hitherto is dusting its image clean!
So shouldn’t the architect of the ‘Largest Clean Democracy’ have a title? Hero is too frivolous. Modern-day Gandhi? -That’s ignoring his other role model Shivaji. Father of Modern India? – that’s the easy way out. Settle for Indian? Should we check with Kamal Hassan for the copyright?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Networking on social media sites - a sham

As I sat to write today, I realised it has been almost two weeks since I penned my thoughts as I was tied up at work more than I could help. Neither did I follow networkers nor checked mails. Worse still felt guilty as I didn’t tune in to any new channels on TV either.  However, thanks to the wisdom literature I’m chewing on of late, I looked at the half-full portion of my glass. And realised that I learnt quite a few valid lessons.
Here are a few…
Off from facebook gives you space to think about yourself .
Off from twitter gives you ample time to form your own opinion about subjects you love and not tow others viewpoints.
Not checking your emails is not suicidal. Any earth-shattering news will be delivered on your phone anyways.
Not tuning in to news bulletin will leave you less stressed and less depressed.
As I was reveling in the feel-good endorphins released by the two-week hiatus, one of my family friends came in singing praises of LinkedIn.  It’s worth spending time on LinkedIn; I got several new leads; It’s the forum for serious professionals…
Even before I could debate its necessity in my head, I was half-way through thinking of a login name. Old habits die hard.
No sooner I keyed in my job details than a list of ‘people you might know’ appeared on the side. Curious enough, I browsed to see my everyday colleagues and acquaintances stare at me.
Spent a few minutes more and discovered the professional networking link is yet another mockery of a platform. Majority of those I knew are upper management. Reporters are editors; clerks are managers; assistants are managing a team of not less than10.
There are several ‘experienced journalists’, ‘experienced administrators’, ‘experienced sales executives’… with no job profiles mentioned – now how do you define ‘experienced’?
I also learnt some bitter truths…a few diploma holders are in the upper echelons while some post-graduates are way lower at their respective workplace hierarchy.
What a sham, if potential employers were to scan LinkedIn accounts of jobseekers. Gosh.
Being a professional for about 15 years; being on facebook for almost two years and on twitter for a decent while, I conclude thus…
Truth No1: Be it workplace or networking sites making your presence felt is what matters.
Truth No2: Serious networkers will have ‘real human contacts’ not ‘friends’ on social networking sites.
Truth No3: Maximum response on facebook will be on your personal pictures; followed by YouTube videos. Replies to any serious discussion or suggestions will be only ‘like’.
Truth No4: twitter accounts are to follow celebrities and compete with ‘fellow friends’ on other sites in breaking that bit of ‘newssips’.
Truth No5: Take professional details on LinkedIn with a spoon full of salt.

I admit social networking sites have, indeed, played key roles in raising social awareness in the recent past so much so governments are spending sleepless nights trashing out counter-ideas. But, herein again I see a trend. Only a social cause or celebrity posts will get mass response. A common man who sincerely wishes to network to enrich himself will find few true friends in the virtual world. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pocket money

Scene: A lower middle-class home with only the head of the family earning a meagre salary
Characters: Father and his teenage daughter
Situation: Month-end; Father needs urgent cash...Asks his daughter if she has something left from her pocket money. The college-going girl's deadly yet pathetic stare sends the man into his past, only to be jolted back into the present as he hears her suggestion to the monthly problem...

A tetragenarian father
On the date of 20
Asks his college-going daughter –
‘Did you spent your pocket money this month?’

………..…The days of scarlet blood
Thoughts of a robust future
Faith in the best education pocketed
Confident of tearing shackles
I held my first pay pack.

Humble a son
Succumbed to his mother’s choice
Beautiful a girl, I loved her whole
Partner she became, our dreams were green
Wife she became as her womb grew heavy
Mother she chose to be
Far-sighted was she
Decided two kids and no more
Dignity mine was kept
Reputed schools my kids stepped in
And when grades they collected excellent
Pride mine soared high
Sublimed in joy
The world was at our feet
But college did they step in
Status of mine jolted out
Their career became my thought
Donations and bribes apart from fees and influence
New arrivals and cosmetics
To excursions and study tours
Politics and authenticity to
Reservations and corruption
Made me knock at my courage constantly
My wife dusted her certificates
Rhymes she recited for a valuable sum
As our dream became childrens’ careers
Our efforts never flickered once
Their personal vehicle was our determination
Their strength was our love
We won on all fronts
But for their ‘whys’
Why can’t we own a bike of our won?
Why don’t we plan a holiday to a hill station?
Why can’t I pursue painting as a hobby?
Why should the movie wait for next month?..........

‘Here papa
Why don’t you increase our pocket-money
So that every month-end
We can give you the increased amount
At least we’ll get to spend our pocket-money.’

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sandal fallacy

An incident over the weekend got me thinking! And to imagine it is a pair of footwear that is intriguing me is not the least ridiculous.
Or is it?
Friday evening as I dressed up my daughter for her music festival at school, I was mentally shortlisting my own attire for the evening for I also had a dinner invite. Zeored in on an off-white and lemon-yellow set.
Had a couple of hours on hand to join our child at school, so caught up with the weekend mails.
However, while I was maneuvering through the inbox, a thought passed by me - What if my sandals were to fall apart? I ignored and continued with the more fruitful activity.
An hour later as I was doing my hair, the same thought surfaced again. Instinctively, I left my grooming and headed to the shoe rack. Picked up an off-white one and, as if the husband's approval will keep at bay anything untoward, I asked him rather indirectly, "Will this go with my dress".
He being the victim (had to pick me up from my knees several times in public) of my walks on heels only checked to ensure they were flats.
Just as we locked the door, I had a second thought because the first one surfaced yet again. Stood looking at my feet for a good two minutes and decided to re-enter to choose a non-matching pair. What if an ill-matching colour wards off impending bad luck? Ludicrous idea, but I went ahead.
Unlocked the door and picked up another pair when I heard a voice from under the breath: "This is what happens when women have too many..."
Whoever said men don't mutter!
Anyways, the drive to school held no surprises. The traffic led us up until the parking lot, which was followed by a musical search that helped us prolong our patience equally longer.
Just as I walked towards the school gate, my right foot felt heavy and dragged behind. I looked down to see the sole gaping open-mouthed at me.
All through the programme I sat decently with my left leg crossed over to conceal the temporarily handicapped right. I didn't dare walk, yet got threatened by my little lady. "Don't go in front of my Ma'am."
As we drove for dinner, she fired another: "I am ashamed. We are not going to a restaurant. It's a hotel. You walk behind me ok?"
However, I should admit that I managed well as I didn't receive any odd stares. As I stood speaking to my friend, lo! came apart the strap of the left sandal.
With the sole of one and the strap of the other apart, I wondered if it was my thought that was powerful enough to disable me…As you think so shall you reap!
Or was it the other way around... It had to be so, therefore I was warned. Premonition!
Or was it lack of housekeeping…old pairs need to be replaced with new ones!
I ran the analysis past my family and in unison came the reply…Old pairs out. FULL STOP

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My morning date with a cabbie

October 31, 2010: It was just another morning.
4.15am: The alarm woke the husband up. He in turn shook me awake. My march for the day began thus. Like any other weekday.
4.25am: Off to kitchen from the washroom, I packed three takeaways.
4.55am: I settled to relish the morning cuppa. And I was assured of a relaxed day ahead.
Am a wee bit superstitious when it comes to having the morning tea. If I rush through and gulp it down standing, I'll have a hectic and not-so-pleasant day. So even at the cost of not having a proper scrub, I ensure to have a ceremonious tea session.
Whoever said it's all in the mind!
5.30am: Kissed goodbye to my sleepy child and wished the husband a good day and stepped out.
As on most days, I hail a cab to work...
5.40am: A taxi pulled over in less than a few minutes after I reached the main road.
The back door was locked.
Promptly the passenger side front window rolled down. I told my destination and waited for the driver to unlock the door behind.
"Jam madaam. Aagey come," said the driver.
Hopped into the front seat of the Toyota Camry and strapped myself closely beside the driver.
"You Indian?" he asked.
"Yes", I replied as I enjoyed the dawn breaking over Dubai through the open window.
"You working?"
My years of taxi experience has taught me several tricks to keep a nosy cabbie at bay in a not-so-rude manner. I continued looking out, when came the next query with a comment.
"Gerrils going earrly. What bork".
I ignored him.
I continued looking out.
"You underrstand Enggalis I know." 
A few seconds later, oops! he breaks the car with a jerk.
"What's wrong with you?" I blurted out.
A roaring laugh and the car stinks of tobacco. Annoyed I looked at him, when he triumphantly announced, "I say you know Enggalis. Speak, time pass."
As the car picked up speed I turned to the window, when he began banging on the dashboard.
"I like Indian gerrils, I like...," he sang.
"Stop the car," I said.
"You afraid," he roared and clapped. Both his hands off the steering. He looked, indeed, scary. Open-mouthed laughter exposed his stained set of broken teeth between overgrown orange-coloured beard. That was the first time in about 10 minutes that I looked at him. His scalp was shining and had a few strands of hair coloured matching weird orange. His brows were furrowed and a set of bushy eyebrows that almost touched down his deep set murky eyes.
He rolled the window down to spit out before answering me.
"No stop", he angrily said. His eyes were reddish, too, I noticed. "You call I stop," he added before accelerating the car and maniacally began changing lanes.
I took the mobile announcing, "I'm calling the police", even as I slammed myself for not heeding to advices. (The husband always reminds me to note the cab's number before getting in).
'Police kalliwali (kalliwali means 'I don't care' in Arabic), he said and sat staring at me as if challenging me.
I put a hand out and waved at the vehicle passing by, thinking my action would force him to either stop the car or behave well and drive me to work.  Instead, he rolled the window up from his side laughing loud and playing the music even louder.
Luckily, I hadn't said which lane and building I had to be dropped at. No sooner than we entered the area (my workplace being about 200 metres away), I demanded to get off.
"This building?"
"Yes", I said opening the wallet.
Heaved a sigh of relief and crossed the road. Taking in the morning breeze to cool my nerves I walked leisurely. As I was at the gate a car screeched to a halt closely besides me.
The maniac driver, flaying his wrinkled hands (even in the shock I did notice coloured stones set in heavy silver on three of his fingers).
"You lying. I catch..."
I walked in and didn't hear the rest.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Bachchan gameplan of marketing off-work Ash

I can't wait for the Bachchan bahu to give birth to her baby. Sick and tired of the hullabaloo since Big B tweeted to break the news during the IIFA weekend. Ash's off-work marketing gameplan started there...An announcement when Bollywood was under global spotlight. What a beginning!
The media is rueing and ranting. And the Bachchan clan pretentiously seems to be doing the same, only to add fuel to the imaginations of nothing-better-to-report journos and bask in the inferno of news space generated. Celebrities will go any length to remain in news. Especially, when off work.
But doesn't media have any ethics? Celeb news is fine. But this is insane! And sad that a section has fallen to such low levels in the name of survival.
The pregnancy tweet took the reels of 'Heroine' to the cans dragging along the relationship with the mom-to-be, announced Bhandarkar unit, only to publicly praise Ash's professionalism when she returned the cheque later.
The former half of the story was 'Breaking News', while the entertainment sections of the media fed on the rest for months on end.
The Bollywood beauty (oops! international beauty - I'll be stoned by her crazy fan) had the enlightened calling to return the amount only after a few weeks of making news. Why?
Then came a small-time starlet claiming she saw Ash in some fertility clinic in Bangkok, kicking up the boy over girl issue. Some jerks in the media tagged the the twins story to her allegations and kept the news running for weeks. Father-in-law who takes to twitter of late to clarify and post family updates has been silent. Why?
That was followed by the hospital news. A Mumbai tabloid claimed to know what time Ash walks in for her appointments early morning and how many rooms have been booked in which hospital. This led to the C-section or natural delivery debate, even as Mamma Bachchan unveiled a grand baby shower for daughter-in-law. While the list of celebrities who attended the 'Godh bharai' was promptly 'leaked', the actor's spokesperson came out to say a line - all delivery related news is wrong. But where's the tech-savvy Bachchan brigade.
That followed the 11.11.11 speculation...and still a suffocating silence is all that comes from the family in question. Why?
At last the Broadcast Editors’ Association in India reportedly acted...came up with guidelines on media reporting the birth. So much for media ethics! But what guarantee it's not drafted by the Bachchans. Even before one could give the first family of Bollywood the benefit of doubt, lo! comes Big B's barrage of tweets...the last one reads, "Every other day some ridiculous, malicious and completely false allegations are thrown at me! Smiley!"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why do we need Lady Gaga for F1?

As the world attempts to cook up a Halloween trick, India takes the lap of honour. India has arrived on the international circuit - Yuppy!
But as with any mega event the Subcontinent undertakes, the Formula One gig too has had its share of criticism. With an expected speed of 315 kph, while it is touted as one of the fastest tracks in the world, the question is does India require this speed? It's put up with a massive $200 million, when the poverty line remains smudged, cry critics. 
Self-flagellation has become the second nature of Indians. If we act to attract global attention, our very own brethren trample us down. And if we don't yet we get thrashed for not doing enough.
So let's not get into it at all. Farmers will continue to commit suicide, poverty line definition will never be clarified, scams will continue unabated, the Tihar marathon will be regular event, some sports will be promoted more than the rest, media will continue creating mountains of molehills...if any of these were not to be, then it’s not humara des.
When the entire Europe is running helter-skelter to shoo away a snarling recession and even eminent Obama is juggling with competing issues in his land, shouldn't we be proud deswasiyon?
Guess, it's got to do with our self-esteem. Else how does one justify Lady Gaga's presence? Aren't there talented Indian artists. Why do we require a phirang to promote our very own effort. It's time we believed in ourselves. Chins up guys!

Monday, October 24, 2011

My first speech

I was invited to be a guest at one of the professional groups in Dubai recently. I walked in smartly dressed, lips parted to a decent width and checked if the head is alligned with my vertebrae (My family pranoically says I have a 'bird's look' head always tilted to one side).
Then gracefully knocked at the already wide open door. Was reminded of someone's  quote 'first impression is the last impression'. Ticking courtly manners correct, I searched around for at least one familiar face.
In no less than a fraction of a second I scanned the rectangular room yet again - this time to spot any pleasant faces. Discovered a few scattered in between.
Meanwhile, an elderly person seated at the entrance side of the huge conference table introduced himself. Quickly exchanged names and shook hands with four - the person sitting on my right, left and two others across the table facing me. I considered them my closest acquaintances for the rest of the evening.
The next task was to look the part...lowered myself elegantly into the leather chair only to discover it was too wide for my not-so-slender frame. So re-positioned myself diagonally to cover the volume and placed my right knee over the left and stealthy checked over the bridge of my nose if my tummy folds were bulging out. Took a quick pranayama breath to double check and it was fine.
The meeting began on the dot. I was impressed at the professionalism of the group. President's address followed by the master's made me relax and take in the atmosphere. Then a third person took the dais to speak of the agenda scheduled. By then I had calmed down completely and was enjoying the experience. When the adrenaline settles, you tend to wander. I sat studying those within my vicinity on the rectangular table, with the speech as the background score. I noticed their dress, their eyes to see if they were alert, their postures to check if they were confident, even their booklets to determine if they were new entrants or old-timers...

When I heard my name being called. Guests should introduce themselves before the meeting rolls off.
Stood up, when the President said, 'two lines will do'. Thank God for small mercies! Spat out my name, profession and place of work.
But when I resettled I was a bit ruffled and don't quite remember if I struck the correct pose in my practised right angle. Neither was I in a frame of mind to check if my torso had inflated by the air I gulped in on hearing my name out of the blue. Thereafter I was an obedient spectator. Didn't want another shock while on a wanderous trip.
Quickly enough, I was put at ease by the members' talks on varied topics, evaluations, round robin sessions, etc. Then came the impromptu section. Ah! this is the real test, I told myself, readying to see who was the smartest of the group. By now I was in the thick of happenings around, enjoying like a butterfly in the wind without a care, when I heard my name yet again.
Shucks! Why the hell should a guest speak? No one had warned me on this one!
I walked to the dais and faced the room. 35 pairs of eyes on me. I was handed a small chit with the topic that I needed to speak on for not less than two minutes. The clock starts ticking the moment I finish reading the enclosed topic. The subject read 'A wiseway diet from December to January'.
I had to collect my thoughts, structure them in my head with an intro, body and conclusion wrapped in ample humour as well as decipher the message hidden in the sentence and substantiate the same.
I re-read the topic to gain some time to sort these requirements.
Looked at the opposite wall and started, "Well, it is not a wise option to do so...and saw my elderly neighbour across smile at me. I can't remember how and what I spoke after that. Uttered and mumbled some jumbled lines in no particular order and yes, I remember saying a thank you even, when I was told I had another 40 seconds left. "Give examples," suggested a member.
Luckily I recollected my yoga teacher's favourite line and spun on it...until the timer signalled red.
As I took my seat, I prayed my neighbours don't hear my heart pound. For all my image-building exercise just an hour ago, how I wanted to disappear from the scene!
Nursing my bruised ego, I slumped blank in the huge chair, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. I didn't know when the session ended and the next started even.
Soon it was time for the awards and I was relieved the damn meeting was at last winding up. The grammarian was addressing the group. The best speaker was announced, followed by the best evaluator. He carried on..."Coming to the best quote of the day, it's by our distinguished guest 'What a shame it is to let a six-inch organ control a six-foot man'!
I was perplexed, can't remember what expression I sported while I stood up to acknowledge the applause. When my neighbour asked, "What was your topic?"
Opened the chit in my hand and the words were smudged beyond legibility. Quickly dropped the proof of my nervousness down and said, "Oh, it was something on dieting."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A wardrobe for sale

Last month I put up an innocuous piece of information on the notice board in office.
A wardrobe for sale. Those interested, please contact me (email id and mobile number provided).
My intentions were naive. I wanted to do away with my three-year-old, Malaysian-made four-door almirah. Why dump something that is functional.
In less than 10 minutes, I get an email from one of my colleagues: "I need it. What price?"
"Dh100," I replied.
Immediately, the reply. "Pass me the photo na. Will show my hus."
"OK." Done.
Meanwhile, a male colleague came up to me. Asked how old the piece was, what make and what cost. No sooner I gave the three answers than he forwarded me Dh100 saying he would collect the item that evening.
But on afterthought, I put him off saying another person has already contacted me. Gracefully he exited. No qualms what so ever. Men are indeed from Mars!
During lunch hour, my potential client joins me and my friends...
"Arre, you're here. Went looking for you at your desk. Well, my hus liked the photo..." she said leaving her sentence incomplete to stare at my plate.
"So what have you decided?" I reminded lest she forgets the purpose of her visit.
"Bus ek sandwhich! How will you survive until evening," she squealed.
"I'm used to this. So are you interested," I repeated.
"Yeaaah, hus ko tho pasand aa gaye. Tell me how long do you people take for lunch?"
"We are done," I said matter-of-factly. "So what do you say," I pursued.
"Arre, frankly speaking. We don't like buying such stuff. Our priorities are all right..." she started off, pulling a chair for herself.
"Used stuff tho bilkul nahi. But kya kare, both of us are so busy these days. No time for shopping. My husband is the IT Director at the American cargo firm and they want him in California every month..."
"Why don't you take a part-time job then," quipped one of my friends who was visibly irked by her bragging.
"Kya part-time? My hus tells me to sit at home. And what shit salary here, I say. Not even sufficient for my pocket money! But time-pass hai, isliye aati hoon."
"It's time for us to get back," I said determined to call up the gentleman colleague.
"Chalti hoon. Bye!"
We sighed a collective oof! Though a mere three-minute visit, it was akin to a tornado passing over.
As I was about to pick up the phone to place the call, I see my inbox blinking. "We couldn't speak as you'll finished lunch time. What I came to say actually was bahut mehnga hai re. U used it for three years na. So tell me the best price. Aur mahogany be nahi, its malaysia only..."
As if anything that starts with m is a piece of wood!
I replied as graciously as possible. "No worries. Thanks for taking interest." Added a PS to curb any further communication: "The piece has just been taken."
In less than five minutes I receive a seemingly threatening mail. "Arre how can u just sell it off, when I came to speak to u? Let me put things in perspective. We are very decent people. We live for our children's future. So please settle it for Dh90. Reasonable na. Dh10 mein kya rakha hai. I'll come down now."
How my finger's itched to write Dh10 mein your kids future rakha hain. But took in a deep breath and keyed in: "Sorry. But the deal is finalised with another person. Regards."
I sat staring at the screen for whole 10 minutes. Relieved she got the message, I got about with my work, when I hear her.
Oh my, not again!
"Aree, everything settled." I see her coming towards me, pulling along the gentleman colleague as if like a sheep to abattoir. "He has absolutely no problem. Bol na," she nudged him more with her eyes.
"Here," she said and placed Dh90 on my table.
"She needs it more than me. I'm ok," he said before taking leave.
And madam started..."Actually all my furniture are from Home Centre or Home R Us. So I was confused in my mind. Do you shop from Ikea. Na baba, I don't like. Rates thoda cum hai lekin all things look same. I hate that. Arre lena hai tho brand lo, isn't it..."
Luckily I received a call...
"Chalo bye," she said as I walked off.
Returned to my seat to see a mail..."Pls find below my home address. Delivery Friday ko karna. And yes, after 11am please. Only one day to catch up on sleep na." Thanks
Excuse me!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Hyderabadi says nako to roko

Roko! Please! Stop the rokos. Work hartals, educational bandhs and rail strikes are not justified, whatever the demand.
Am neither a political commentator nor a social activist. Sitting miles across in the Middle East I watch helplessly as my city is being mauled at. Brand Hyderabad is being tarnished guys. Common on! Isn't there a saner way to accomplish political demands.
I understand the capital city is only a speck in the realm of conditions and reasons for the current upheaval, nevertheless it is the main bone of contention. Truth behold, Andhra Pradesh is on the world map today because of Hyderabad.
Telangana or Andhra or a third or fourth or nth party can take the cake and the have the icing, too. But please, don't spoil the show. Gracefully scoop and dollop it up. Don't smudge it all across the cake and table and leave everyone and everything around with a gooey mess.
With each additional day of protests, the demonstrators are ensuring more delay in normalcy (social, economic and cultural) to return once their demand is met with.
Scenes of the sprawling Osmania University campus inundated with protestors raises several questions equally important as the bifurcation of the state.
If bomb blasts by anti-social elements are called barbaric, I need to coin a more drastic word for spoiling the future of youngsters. KCR & Co should take moral responsibility for every single minute wasted of the next generation.
Denying students the right to education and disrupting the socio-economic fabric of the nation is not the way forward to achieve any demand. Reports claim the strike by about 45,000 coal miners of the state will leave several other parts of the country in the dark shortly as about 29 coal plants are allegedly running on precariously low coal supplies. And the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has been granted permission to import coal as an adhoc measure. Isn't this uncalled for expenditure?
Forget the political, cultural and business dimensions that would need to be carved out from the scratch once the new borders are drawn, what guarantee Rayalaseema will not put up banners thereafter? Soon after a bifurcation, lo! a trifurcation demand!
Meanwhile, please wait before one could vouch about the skilled performances of smaller states. Mother India is still just experimenting.  As of now, Jharkhand seems to be a disaster in the making. Uttarakhand is so far doing fine, minus its teething problems, and so is Chhattisgarh if we ignore the naxalite menace. But it's a long way from comparing notes of these kiddy states' performance indicators. 
A quick mention of the hitherto lawless Bihar’s resurrection becomes mandatory here. The 12th largest state in terms of geographical size and third largest by population is getting along on the growth path today, proving only an efficient leader is all that matters – not the resources or dimensions.
Having said that, and considering the fact that if the past five decades couldn't solve the issue, with Chief Ministers from Telangana also ruling the state, isn't it anybody's wild guess that inking the deal is going to be a long and arduous cry. Until then, if the current momentum of demonstrations is adhered to, imagine the loss the new states would have piled upon. Not to mention the irrevocable damage on its people!
However, in the event a Telangana does happen and the bifurcation hiccups are all sorted out by a magical wand at the earliest (let's not count in years) nothing like it. What more can people want than efficient administration; education and quicker employment opportunities? Hope the new bureaucracy is par excellence and not tempted by the 'currency lift'. Can KCR & Co guarantee that? Time for the Telangana sculptors to meet up with Anna Hazare.
Well, consider even that's taken care of. We will have officials sincere to a fault and politicians for whom welfare of the people is the only mantra. And consider by all stretches of ones wildest imagination that co-operation and camaraderie will be executed to the helm and unity among the bifurcated will stand to be envied, who will undo the damage being inflicted now. Damage on students, damage on the socio-economic fabric of the state and the city (I can't help bringing up Hyderabad).
Business heads in the capital are playing the diplomatic card. Rightly so. All are in the wait-and-watch phase. But don't expect them to wait for forever. Political sentiments do not figure in the balance sheets of business establishments!
KCR & Co please keep your feet up, for if the business houses decide to keep their cash registers ticking, don't blame them for pulling the rug from under your feet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I miss India, its holy cows, their bows and howls

In my land, news clamours for attention. So what if some are dug deep from the dung that it stinks. They are news after all - they are heard, read, told, re-told, analysed and put to bed only to be scratched to surface a few days later. Why? Because the new bit of information needs to be compared and weighed against the buried shit.
One such sham winding and whining ever since the British took leave of us is the honorary class.
If an institution bells one holy cow, then another pulls along the more senior one from the herd only to be mau-maued. And for a few days the howls make tamasha of the awardees as news, views and sinews do the rounds until another power monger dangles the carrot and decides to de-serve the 'conferred'.
The fact that undeserving candidates continue receiving honours from deserving institutions that make wrong choices only speaks of an inherent deficiency in the very system.
The holy cows of India should be explained the phrase - It is better to deserve without receiving than to receive without deserving!
South Indian megastar (or is super bigger than mega, please correct me if I'm wrong) Mohanlal is the latest one to cry foul. He has postponed all assignments to pacify the Indian Army. He was allegedly seen flaunting the honorary Lieutenant Colonel's uniform in a commercial. 
This I will call the mother of all shams simply because it involves one of the highest bodies in India.
What the hell does the Indian Army lack that it had to rope in someone like Lal to promote itself? Had the third largest military force in the world chosen someone even seemingly fit for the uniform, it would have absolved itself of some misdoing. Squeezing his one-pack belly with the belt of honour to accommodate the stars on his leaning shoulders! With all due respect to the actor in him and the talent he nurtures, the Indian Armed Forces deserves the shit it has got itself into (however fake or true) for choosing someone who does not even have a proper gait or physique.   
From Bollywood actors to sportspeople and artists all have been grazed by tall orders. One such episode broke all ceilings when the President's office alleged the honorary doctorates awarded to Nasreeuddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Asghar Ali Engineer were without Madame President's approval. This was in 2009. And the act continues.
Schools and academies of artistic genres should be honouring these actors, not universities and definitely not the Indian Armed Force.
Educational institutes need to wake up to the real world. At a time when employers devalue highly-priced degrees on sale in institutions shouldn't the scores of unsung heroes doing research out there be honoured. They would provide better role models to youngsters than these glamour quotients.
When ex-President Bush was honoured with a degree by Yale University in 2001, the students boycotted the function, because they did not believe he deserved it. An example for Indian students here.
But the depressing fact is the PR activity includes educational institutes themselves.
The Chennai High Court early this year pulled up MGR Medical University for conferring honorary doctorates to seven doctors. Doctorates are not freebies, it said. Doctorates are given to those who bring a new perspective to the field of study in such a manner that helps society. But today politicians who haven't seen the inside of a college are honorary doctors if they donate substantial amount to any educational institution.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam - a mentor, innovator, visionary, and statesman - refused to accept an honour from a university, stating he was satisfied with the ones he has earned with his hard work and determination. Does this require explanation?

Monday, October 10, 2011

When will Indian women learn to respect their husbands?

One of my friends - a gym-going, club-hopping woman in her mid-thirties - has the audacity to change the houseboy's name. Reason: Her husband is his namesake. "Every time I call him I would be taking the name of my husband. How can I do that?" reasoned the pativrata. 
That guy should have thrust the broom into madam's face and asked her to get her 'woh' to clean up. But that's the sorry state of the less fortunates - both househelps and househeads alike. 
What a pity most Indian men get shooed and cooed by the wives in the name of being respected! It's worst in public places, for respect is at most times only demonstrated.
Consider this - A wife calling her husband aji, oji, loji, sunoji...and if her man refuses to answer, she will continue to wax lyrical and add all the remaining matras in Hindi language to the 'ji', but for his name.
When push comes to shove, they will take his genetic title...Raju ke papa; Munu ke papa and Guddi ke papa in the name of bestowing respect.
But the dominating Bengali mamas will leave children aside and check on their mens hearing abilities instead. Most Bengali married men are respectfully addressed 'ei je shuncho...' (meaning aiji sunte ho [are you listening]) before being spoken to. 
Similarly, Assamese women first test their mens sense organ. The common pronoun they use is Hoonisha (again the word means are you listening).
These women should be given tympanometres as dowry.
The South Indian ammas are equally funny...Malayalis, for instance, are the dramatic lot. They call their older brothers and hubbies the same - 'chetta'. Now the cats on the wall will pronounce it a bit different to say they aren't the aunty-types. Try this chetta: Tch - i -tteh. First lift your tongue to the palate, whirl your lips and thrust it out so that the 'Tch' is forced out as 'tsh'  out of your mouth. Isn't it a lot easier to pronounce the man's name than this exercise? Then there's the achaya and ichaya lot. I guess brothers are the former. A or i, I can only hear chayas!
Andhraiite women are a more somber lot, at least initially. They begin their sentences - be it conversations or requests - with 'Ente' (the word actually means 'what'). Something similar to the virtual lingo of today - 'what say'. And the 'e' in the ente will be pulled harder, the longer the husbands take to acknowledge them. Entee, enteee - Why the hell can't you answer sort of eeeeeehh! No, it's not frustration, that's their way of respecting their devtas!
Gods on earth, saviour, purushottams, et al, are the various statuses bestowed on husbands by respect-howling females, who insult men folk in the name of following tradition.
I know of one such husband worshipper who crosses all limits of sanity. Another invariable fact is all such pativratas feel they are the epitome of beauty and graciousness - Ma Sita's modern avtars. As if those who pronounce the names in full come running from the wild!
This aunty-of-a-woman who claims Aishwarya Rai is lucky to have been born 20 years later than her, begins the day by touching her snoring husband's feet at 7am. Then she heads to the washroom to check the colour of her bindi. During her 'days off' she sports a huge roundish black colour between her brows and not the everyday reddish-brown stickers. This is followed by MS Subhalaxmi's 'Kausalya Suprabatham' after which she proceeds to fix a cup of coffee before waking him up. All that's left of the ritual is for her to garland him and burn an incense stick between his ears!
Even as I storm for a suitable word to define such mockeries in the name of respect, am reminded of the 'silent generation'. Have heard stories of several old grandmas of traditional Kerala homes who never appeared before the male members, not even their husbands. Can't fathom how they produced so many offsprings though! And considering that the norm then was hum-do-humare-dus, am curious about the modus operandi. At least it would help clear the numerous rape cases languishing in Indian courts today.
Well, until some sportive grandpas come forward that will remain a mystery, but at present I'm puzzled why today's men are tolerating such disrespect. All the wohs and jis and sunos must sit on a hunger strike to rewrite tradition that lets married women use all permutations of syllables to rename them at their whim.