Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas and New Year 2009

Time flies faster than we think we can keep a track of...

Here's wishing all a very happy Christmas and New Year 2009!

May the world witness peace this year and may the financial crisis end bringing high quality of life and prosperity.

Love and regards,
Niedhie

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Young Revolution

I have been following the debate that has followed the Mumbai blasts in the country. A lot has been said about the inefficiency of the government which has failed miserably not only to stop such terror attacks but also to address the sentiments of the Indian public after the aftermath. I am overwhelmed to see the Indian youth revolting and putting efforts to make themselves heard. There is a visible determination to even take up politics, take charge and root out the problem themselves.

But my concern is not only terrorism anymore. I want to capitalise on the new uprising that India is witnessing, the new awareness that Indian youth is seeing, this new wave of revolution. Why not raise all the other issues that India should be concerned about currently and in the days to come? Why not capitalise on the momentum? Why not dirty our hands well till the elbow when we have already dirtied our palms by taking charge of the current situation in the country?

One global forecast says that the global economic downturn would considerably affect the emerging economies like India and China. The World Bank projects China’s growth to slow from 11.9% in 2007 to 7.5% in 2009 and India’s from 9% to 5.8%. Does not this concern you? The new India that we are so proud of will see a shrinking consumerism, a shrinking money spending and thereby a fall in the standard of living. It has been only sometime that we had started understanding the benefits of an economic development and working towards it, that our concentration has now been diverted. It had only been sometime that I was feeling relieved that we had understood that all our problems would be taken care of if we could simply concentrate on economic and infrastructure development, and now we have so many problems to take care of.

Social under-development in some of the states in India remains a consistent problem. Some states just seem to have made it a point not to develop. They seem to be vying with each other in the parameter of under-development. It hurts to me to say West Bengal tops my list. I have spent well of my growing up days in West Bengal and have grown up hearing stories about its glory and the famous line that ‘what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow’. Where has all that glory gone? West Bengal seems to have stopped thinking ages ago. I do not have anything against the communist party, in fact to an extent I have respect for the ideologies they stand for. But I have issues with those ideologies if they put my state into stagnation or under-development. I have not seen a single significant project, a single change for good that I can list here. The Tata-Nano project in Singur is also gone now. I wonder what good has it done to the hopes of workers expecting to derive livelihood out of it. Orissa, Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh are some other causes of worries.

Isn't it now time to understand our strengths and use them for our benefits? Our strength is democracy, where each one of us are accountable to every other member of society. Our strength is our good heartedness. Even after our lives got shaken by the 26/11 carnage, we din't go out on a rampage and din't believe in the footsteps of US after 9/11. We showed our strength of understanding and thoughtfulness at a time of distress. Our strength is the huge population. When so many voices speak out, it is enough to create a roar and shake up the whole world, let alone those who disturbed our sleeps. Let's understand this and let's act together! Jai Hind!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Personal Inflation Calculator

We are in an era of computing. 80% of my time in office goes into computing and 20% into thinking. The 80% I spend into computing I am generally not thinking much. The computer these days is so sophisticated; it does everything on a click of a button. I don’t remember the last time I multiplied two small numbers in my head and two big numbers on paper.


Interesting feature of this age are calculators. You name it and you have calculators for it. An old concept but I came to know of it a few weeks back – the Biorythms calculator. It bewares you of your mood on any day in future, it tells you how intellectually active you would feel on any date, and also highlights physical fitness. I tried using it for a few days and then realised that I was getting affected by it. If it said that on a Monday I would be physically unfit, then however much physically healthy I might be, I would still crave my bed on that Monday. There is a science behind it I am told, but then I guess I would like to keep the future uncertain and live life the way it comes.


I came across the personal inflation calculator. This calculator asks you various figures. Monthly expenditure on food, meals out, alcohol, phone, internet, clothing and footwear, heating and lighting, chemist, house rent, travelling (including foreign) etc. It din’t take long for me to plug in the values. I have been paying bills myself, making budgets from my salary and planning holidays myself, so was aware of all the questions being asked to the best precision. The outcome was interesting. When I was back in India I would crib in my conversations with the rickshaw pullers and the bus conductors about the inability of the government to prevent inflation which was around 9%. I would mercilessly say that we are incompetent enough to control the ‘badhti mehangai’ (increasing inflation) and I would go to the extent of informing them that in developed countries like the UK the inflation is just near 2% and so probably they do not get so affected by it also.


The personal inflation calculator shows me that my cost of living in London goes up by 5.4% a year compared to an overall national inflation rate of 4.5% per year (November RPI figure). I guess that indicates that my expenditure is also some notch higher that the average in this country, which sounds exciting to me, as I am yet to live a lavish lifestyle here. I wonder where my personal inflation would be then! This means if my annual expenditure is £25000 this year, then other things remaining unchanged I would expect an expenditure of £26350 the next year merely due to inflation. It means for no fault of mine, I would have to work harder to earn that extra bit of money I lost. That means for no fault of mine, it would take longer for me to get into a lavish lifestyle that I aspire for.


My lavish lifestyle is a lifestyle where I don’t have any reason to think twice before doing charity. I don’t need to hold back. I have enough to give. I feel for a cause and I endorse it both financially and manually. There is so much that anything is too less to be given away. How wonderful that will be!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mumbai - I feel for you

I can't think anything other than the Mumbai blasts. Each time I sit down to write, I think of the huge mockery on Indian resilience that we just witnessed, I think of the incompetent bunch of politicians we have who only care about filling up their own pockets and securing votes, I think of those innocent lives lost, I think of the terrorists who look so human and civilised yet committing the most inhuman and uncivilised act of horrendously killing anybody and everybody without any thought.

Yesterday I watched the least celebrated bollywood movie "Ramchand Pakistani". I cried like a baby towards the end. Had I been watching it alone, I would have probably been wailing. I just could not contain myself. I had been feeling very emotionally charged since the 26/11 event in Mumbai. This movie let it all come out in the form of big tears. I am not liking my helplessness. I really wished that I was just not an ordinary citizen of India, but a celebrity at a position to influence minds through writings and interviews. But why are those whom we have made celebrities in India quiet? Why don't I hear any strong words condemning the event, any solace for the sorrow I feel sitting here seas away from Mumbai? Why don't I see anything changing even though this tragedy changed our lives?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Jaago

Utho Bharat, jaago dosto,
Kis baat ka intezaar hai –
Yudh ki bigul bazi dekho,
Hamari vinamrata par kara prahar hai.

Sahanshilta ki seema tuti,
Bhaichare ka bana bhari majaak,
Bekusuro ki jaane gayi,
Shaan hui jal kar raakh.

Ab agar humne saha,
To sahanshilta ka dhong hai,
Jurm karna jis tarah galat hai,
Jurm sehna bhi ek bhayanak rog hai.

Aur phir kyun sahe hum kisi ka aatank,
Kya humme kuchh kami hai,
Prashn yahan ab aman ka nahi,
Un aankhon ka hai jinme nami hai.

Chalo sab milkar kadam badhayein-
Yudh na sahi to satarki to dikhaye,
Hans rahe hai woh hamari nakami par,
Aao swabhimaan kya hai hum unhe bataye!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Parinaam kya?

Ro raha hai dil,
Ankhen nam hai,
Kya sthiti hai duniya ki,
Aatank mein fase hum hai.

Ek jut hona hoga hume,
Yeh ek kathin yuddh hai,
Shatru mansik bimaar hai,
Saari chaal atah bekar hai.

Masoom log kyun nishane par?
Jo apne balidan ki vajah se anjaan hai,
Unhe maarkar kya milega,
Jo tumhare maksad se nadaan hai?

Ladai to barabar walo mein hoti hai,
Nihatte par to kayar vaar karte hai,
Udeshya aur parinaam kya hai is khoon ka,
Yeh jaanne ka haq har ek shahid rakhte hai.

Kya chahte ho tum, kyun yeh hahakar hai?
Chahe building urao, underground jalao,
Bandi banao, goli chalao,
Sab bekar hai agar maksad naa batao.

Aatank machana, darr paida karna,
Videshiyon ko maarna, dharm ko kalankit karna,
Aur ant mein apni jaan bhi gawana,
Kis kaaran ke mol hai, yeh to batana?

Kyun naa is pagalpan se upar uthkar,
Kabiliyat ke dam par duniya mein jiyo,
Saaf aur sachche mann se dekhoge,
To har manav mein ishwar nazar aayenge…
Aur tab kya tum goli chala paoge?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sleepy, yet no sleep

I have always given a lot of importance to sleep in my life. In my dreams I have figured out proofs of some theorems, mugged up rules of accountancy or principles of business organisation, dreamt about being running for presidency and planned my future. Having been an academic topper with some other scholarships to my credit, some people have found it difficult to believe that if I have the liberty and any form of couch at my disposal, I have never missed any opportunity to put a bookmark on the book/notes/workbook and go off to sleep. I remember how amazed my mother would get to see me sleeping all cuddled up with a heap of books/notes surrounding me. I remember how friends at college would mock me and challenge me to stay awake late in the night as in hostel studying late night was considered fashionable. I remember how my housemate would get worried seeing me taking small breaks of sleep during the day before exams when I am supposed to have lost sleep.

So in a nutshell I have always fancied sleeping, the greater is the pressure – the more I have slept, the nearer the exams – the more is the sleep. I guess it has been my way to tackle pressure. Some people get into smoking, some start drinking, I believe in sleeping. But you must be wondering how can one fall asleep when one is worried or tensed? That comes with practice. Some of you who might have watched the bollywood movie “Munnabhai MBBS” would have noticed how Dr. Asthana forces himself to laugh when he is angry so that he can control his increased blood pressure and he is successful to a lot extent. Similarly if you can force yourself to sleep (in fact you don’t need to put in too much efforts as your brain is anyways tired of thinking and worrying and would love some rest in any case), you would be in a better position to tackle the worry. And then when you get up, you are bound to feel better as you have just ‘slept over’ your problem.

I have finished my yummy lunch of fried rice and I have two pivot tables containing thousands of data to compare and make a report on the discrepancy if any. There is supposed to be not much discrepancy while I cannot see a single value match. I wonder what report I am going to produce! And to top it all I am feeling so sleepy. No couch around and with no contractual liberty to sleep at work, I wonder if this is why working people crave for weekends!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The new face* of woman

*Dedicated to the unknown face I saw yesterday in London Underground

Like any other thousands of commuters on London tube on a weekend, I was no different. Wearing a red tank top on black jumpers and a pair of black Levis jeans, I was on my way to attend a drink party to bid farewell to a friend who is moving to Melbourne, Australia. This 15 minute journey gave me thoughts which I feel I will continue to think over for some days to come.

Casually, not thinking anything in particular and just noticing human behaviour as an onlooker, my eyes caught a strange face. A very beautiful yet strange face! It was beautiful as it looked very well chiselled out with a perfect countenance and it was strange as it took me a couple of seconds to understand whether it was masculine or feminine.

The train was moving and so were people inside my coach. I saw that face turn sides and roll eyes, probably in response to somebody (may be me) staring at it. And that puzzled me more. I was thoughtless/speechless/motionless for moments that followed. I had figured out something. The face belonged to a young lady who had designed her hair in such a manner that one half of it was a boy-cut revealing her neck (half of the neck), while the other half was a girlish layered cut with hair falling below the shoulders. On further thoughts, I guessed that she must have been or will be a part of a play wherein she is playing both male and female characters in a particular scene. May be she was to perform a one-act play or may be playing multiple characters in a play. The next moments were of respect towards her commitment (to put the character she would play above her own self) and brevity (to travel in a public transport with a hair style so uniquely designed). Just when I was so occupied with these thoughts playing in my mind, I saw her getting down. Had she stayed with me for one more station, I would have probably got a chance to talk to her and confirm my guess.

She disembarked, but I kept pondering. The next thoughts were of the new face of woman I had just witnessed - somebody who is bold and smart, does not shy away from taking up challenges, is committed and goal-oriented, manages personal and professional life with confidence and does not care about the world if it obstructs the way for any of the above.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Darr

Aaj baithe baithe yunhi,
aankhen bhar aayi -
pata nahi kis khayal se,
dharkan tham gayi.

Kal raat dekha jo sapna,
kahi woh sach na ho jaye -
pata nahi khushi hogi ya dukh,
jab jeevan ki dhara badal jaye.

Kabhi kabhi sochti hun,
ki meri manzil kya hai -
achchhi - buri maine har ek,
chot ko saha hai.

Aur kitne kante hai raah par,
jin par mujhe chalna hai -
kyun dekha maine sapna,
jab haar se darr lag raha hai.

Microsoft - Not Responding

I had an unveiling experience. I was working on getting a piece of code working since morning. It was evening and I had just cracked the code (written in VBA embedded in Excel 2003). The joy and excitement was extreme. There was a point when I had completely given up and thought that probably I will have to do it in some other way (which I deemed less efficient). So when it finally got cracked and I saw my code working, I was literally in the seventh heaven. I think, when we feel so happy with ourselves, we do end up doing something stupid the next moment. I was no different. I became a little too ambitious and made some other changes only to realise that my Excel was ‘not responding’. Phew! For heaven’s sake tell me that this is a bad nightmare; that after a couple of minutes of mental agony, this ‘not responding’ ghost on my Excel will go away; that I would be able to retrieve my code I had painstakingly worked on since morning. Someone please tell me this.

In the next couple of minutes I frantically googled starting from “how to save a ‘not responding’ file” or “how to retrieve a document” to the extent of “help on using Excel 2003”. There was some Microsoft help which directed me to go to

Start -> All Programs -> Microsoft Office Tools -> Microsoft Office Application Recovery

But as guessed by most of you, I did not have this feature in my machine. I asked the colleague beside me to search (thinking probably insanity had taken over me that I can’t even find Microsoft Office tools), but it was not there in his machine either. Helpless! Demotivated! The grief of having wasted the whole day was worse than having to reproduce the gory code.

I tried looking for ways in which I can contact Microsoft to get some help on this. A Google for ‘contact Microsoft’ led to a Support Microsoft page. I then ticked options for the next few pages to specify with which product (Excel 2003) I had a problem. I was calming down a little during this process, felt some ray of hope. Only to be led to a page wherein I was asked £46 (including VAT) for an e-mail request or a phone support. Gosh! I heard myself screaming! I could not believe it.

A simple google of ‘Contact Google’ leads to so many phone numbers/email-ids/address using which one can contact them. While I found no way in which I could contact Microsoft (for free). I have never fancied their “Was this information helpful?” question with every help they provide, and after this no-way-to-contact-Microsoft-experience, I can only see myself fancying it lesser.

After this long struggle, I finally gave up. I vowed to click on ‘save’ after every significant code line that I would write in future. Dejected I pressed, Ctrl-Alt-Del. The task manager popped up. An ‘End Now’ to the ‘Not Responding’ Excel. Couple of seconds and the irritating message box “You chose to end the nonresponsive program, Microsoft Office Excel." Don’t Send. Everything was over! Sigh!!

While I was opening the Excel sheet again, I prayed that I have not forgotten the important bits of the code which I will need to write again; told myself what a wasteful day I had, and what a torture it would be to write the code all over again. Excel opened. I opened the module to start writing the code again, only to find it already there. I must have clicked the ‘save’ button at some point before I ran the code and before it decided ‘not to respond’. My day was just saved!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The voice - do we really need it?

I have been thinking since some time that I have to write about the whole Raj Thakerey drama that has recently started. Just today when I read the news article which says that Raj cuts his birthday cake with a sword which has “Bhaiya” written on it, I felt amusement and some sense of malignity. Not that I do not want to accept the argument that the news clip may be a little over the top with an unnecessary implication of cutting the "Bhaiya" on the cake with a sword meaning that he wants to cut all the north Indians with a sword, but I just want to say he is on my nerves now.

I recently heard Shobhaa De speaking to Karan Thapar about the whole episode, and albeit the fact that I really look up to her for the woman she stands for, I was let down this time. She did not take any stand, she played safe, she answered diplomatically, that’s not the Shobhaa De I have known and hence the let down. She seemed to be insisting that she is surprised that not a single Maharastrian has got up to speak out against the Raj Thakerey episode. I wonder that if a personality like Shobhaa De could not muster the courage to do so, whom is she expecting to come out to speak? How can we think that the reticence of Maharastrians may perhaps mean that this is what they want?

There is no doubt in the argument that each state should have their quota so that advantage is given to the applicants of those states. And to the best of my knowledge, India is a hugely quota-regulated country. Each state does have their own share of quota, examples can be the state level UPSC exams or the state level lecturership exams (called SLET), or the state level railway exams, all of which give preference to applicants of their own state to some specific percentage. I have personally also taken some of these exams and that is the view I am aware of as an applicant. Then what is the argument for beating up the north Indian applicants on a Railway exam? S/he will only get selected in the category of outsider applicants. And if you think that this is not being done correctly, then sue the government for corruption. I do not see any justification in beating up a student like me absolutely unaware of what’s going on.

I hereby do not just say that the approach used to get the voice heard is absolutely unacceptable and rubbish, but also add that the voice that is being raised is irresponsible and carries no grounds.

The development of any place depends a lot on the immigrants to that place. The natives take their home towns mostly for granted and do not aspire to add much value to it. I wish the number of immigrants that Mumbai has, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal may also have some day. Least the Mumbaikars should do is to feel proud that their state is good enough to attract the crowd of the nearby states. Believe me nobody is happy at the first place to leave their own state; it hurts a lot to migrate to somewhere you have not being born and brought up. I am an immigrant too, and not even a single night has passed when I have not thought of my birth place.

The other argument I hear is that if Raj Thakerey does not do this then there is no way that the other states would do anything to improve their infrastructure. “Jab ghee seedhi ungli se nahi nikalta to ungli tedhi karni padti hai”. Huh!! Do you think killing Biharis in Maharastra is going to make the Bihari government do anything about its infrastructure and development? Our politicians hardly think this way. The first thing they would do is topple the Maharastra government or call for president’s rule in the state claiming law and order failure. And all that we are gaining with this “tedhi ungli” is the harassment and loss of some of the brilliant Bihari minds.

At the end I feel totally at a loss of words in which I can express my disagreement to the voice. Least that I would request the government is to put the man behind bars for claiming himself to be above the law of the land.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are completely personal and no malice is intended. The views have been formed based on newspaper articles, TV interviews and personal judgement.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The life we call - the work life

As somebody who has recently treaded on from the student life to the work life, as somebody who never really wanted to enter the so-defined 9-6 work life, as somebody who never wanted to be one of those who can be bossed around, as somebody who never knew she could still be one of the above ever, I am surely in a very exciting phase of my life.


As a kid the house that I have grown up in also housed one of India’s biggest public sector banks. I have been talking to bankers since an early age – sometimes work related and sometimes personally. I have found their job as bankers of India’s one of the biggest banks at a small place like my hometown, a pretty relaxing 9-6 job one could think of. My knowledge about banking was limited to accepting deposits and giving away loans. Other than that - drafts, cheque books, ATMs are some of the other facilities that a bank provides to lure customers. The more customers the bank has it means more deposits and more loans meaning more business. It was even difficult to imagine that there could be any interesting role in banking wherein the banker does not get to meet the customer.


Now I am working as a banker in country’s one of the biggest banks, no more in my small home town but now in London. I am a banker with no on-the-road customer. My customer so as to speak is now an authority which needs some watchdog in each bank so that they can keep an eye on how the banks are doing their business, they can regulate them, they can stop any unprecedented events from occurring and in today’s scenarios they can stop banks from falling down. My customer is the Financial Services Authority of the UK.


How interesting do you think is this job when you are developing products which do not serve the need of any person but for an organisation? A major reason why I have enjoyed teaching so much is the “thank you” a student says when s/he gets up from a lesson I have delivered. I find it very rewarding. So what is the reward I get by making sure that my fellow bankers are in line with the guidelines laid out by the FSA? A salary / a job / a 9 – 6 brain storming everyday / a nice work atmosphere. I am currently getting all of these, but still something stops me from saying it is rewarding based on the reasons I have cited above.


What in fact makes it rewarding for me is the feeling that somewhere I am helping my bank and my fellow bankers realise that they should not take enough risk to go over the board, to be in a position where they can endanger the savings of those customers I have had acquaintance since childhood, to threaten the chance of a potential customer who is looking for a loan to buy a house, to cause a disturbance in the whole system. I may also say that I feel I am doing a noble duty, a duty towards the society by ensuring that my bank is not one of those who can suddenly go bankrupt leaving the whole world in a state of shock. I feel there should be more bankers like me in each and every bank as we do not have any right to cause the unrest in the world that we have just done. Indeed my work is pretty exciting.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Credit crunch jokes*

What's the definition of optimism?
A banker who irons five shirts on a Sunday.

City trader: "It's worse than a divorce. I've lost half of my net worth and I still have a wife."

Why din't the little boy get any money?
Because his mum has gone to Iceland.

A masked man holding a bank cashier up with a gun says: "I don't want any money - I just want you to start lending to each other..."

What's the difference between an investment banker and a pigeon?
A pigeon can leave a deposit on a Ferrari.

How many commodities traders does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They don't change bulbs, but the trading price of darkness plummets due to oversupply.

*Courtesy: The Londonpaper

Friday, September 26, 2008

Whose skin are you in?

Dear all,

This is a very special message to all of you, a cause which I care about.

I am a proud vegetarian and feel very happy about the fact that I am not the cause of an unexpected death of any living organism. "Plants, aren't they living?", I hear you immediately complaining, but then that is a matter of huge debate which we should probably avoid here.

I just want to make a simple request here, that we please stop wearing fur and leather as they are produced from animal skin which is extracted inflicting horrible amount of cruelty on them before they are finally killed. In case you are wondering, I do not have any leather jacket, used to have a fur coat which I disposed off last year and have vowed not to buy one again and I do not feel that it has made me any less fashionable. Fashion is defined by you and not by your leather or fur jacket which has been made from the skin of a speechless and uncomplaining animal.

I hope that the video and I have made you at least think about it.

Niedhie

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Witnessing history

The events of the past few days convince me that we are witnessing history. The demise of Lehman Brothers, Wall Street’s fourth largest investment bank, would surely find its place in history.


I remember the day in March when I heard that Bear Stearns, Wall Street’s fifth largest investment bank, is heading towards bankruptcy. As an aspiring quant in investment banking I had applied for an entry level quantitative analyst role a month ago and was waiting to hear from them about my application. It was taking unusually long for a bank with a proper recruitment procedure in place to respond on my application. I was patient, waiting for a response was much better than hearing a rejection so I did not complain. Least did I know that I would straight get to hear the news of the bank struggling to survive and so being bailed out by the Fed and thereafter bought by JP Morgan Chase at the price of peanuts! Little did I know that the application which I worked on for hours and the cover letter which I got checked from my career counsellor at university and at least two other people were destined to go into the dustbin! Little did I know that those who would recruit me are busy saving their own jobs!


The memories of the crisis at Northern Rock, UK’s fifth largest mortgage lender, and how it had to be nationalised to protect the monies of the hundred’s of pensioners and savers had not even faded, that I was in for this jolt of a prospective employer who was taken over so as to avoid its demise. Things were going to be tough, I realised.


Having completed the course with the submission of dissertation, since the last couple of weeks I had been planning my strategy to go for the application spree again. I chalked out the banks I would target as a single application takes at least 5 hours of thorough research of the organisation. This research made me go through the current financial situations at each bank and I realised that Lehman Brothers was in a bad financial state. I was hopeful that like Bear Stearns, probably Lehman would also get a helping hand from the Fed so that even if my hopes of working for the bank are bleak, at least those working still have hopes of not losing their jobs. On Monday I was in for the second biggest shock, Lehman was not bailed out and so had to file for bankruptcy. 5000 employees in the UK were rendered jobless.


Merrill Lynch, Wall Street’s third largest investment bank, was also having its balance sheet in red, only to be saved by the proposed take over by the Bank of America. My housemate works for Merrill and though he has not been made redundant, since his contract gets over with the bank in a couple of weeks and there is no chance under these circumstances it would be renewed so he is looking for another job. But as he said, there are so many redundancies made by Lehman that getting a job at this point seems next to impossible.


The financial system is in shambles. Today’s BBC business news headline reads “US government rescues insurer AIG”. Mind you, AIG is the US’ largest insurance company and had the Fed not rescued it, it would have to file for bankruptcy. And then the whole system would have collapsed, we would have been experiencing the Great Depression of 1929. However I am not sure if the visible signs are any good to ensure that we are not heading towards it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blasts again

Can I please move on from writing blogposts about blasts? I had been really caught up with so many things in life, and just when I decided to sit down to update my blog, all that I can think of are the blasts in Delhi yesterday. But it was too much for me to take this time, I could not stop my tears rolling over my cheek when I heard the news. I could not take it anymore.

Central Park in Cannaught Place has so many memories associated with my University of Delhi days. I remember going there long before it had formally opened and chatting with its gateman. He informed me when it would open and who would inaugurate it. I so badly wished that day for it to open so that I can come down there and hang around with friends. Thereafter, when it opened I came down hundreds of times, mostly Saturday evenings to just chill followed by my favorite pastry session at Wengers. I used to love it. So yesterday when I saw the Central Park being bombed on a Saturday evening, I thought it could well have been me amongst the 20 dead and more than 100 injured in those blasts.

So the pertinent question I want to ask today is, what is my crime? Why am I targetted? Why does somebody want to kill me? Why do I have a threat on my life? How does killing me help somebody sitting across some border? To be very honest to those who do these henious crime, let me tell you something, even if you kill me, nothing will happen which you want to happen, the governments will remain unchanged about their stance, people will forget it the next moment and move on with their daily bread earning routine, life will become the same for all except that it will bring unsurmountable amount of pain to those who love me. So killing me does not help you achieve anything. And remember very well and for sure, that someday that me will be your daughter or sister and that day all that will change is your own life and nobody elses.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blasts, Inflation, N-deal

The title suggests the way I would sum up the current social, economic and political situation in India. Notable political developments being- the political drama on the way the government proved its majority in the house, the dignified members of the solemn house behaved, Somnath Chatterjee expelled from his party (for me he and CPM were inseparable), the famous 'Sashikala' speech by the junior Gandhi, the upward movement in the stature of Mayawati as the potential prime-ministerial candidate of the 'third front'.

The news channels do not feel tired mentioning in headlines that inflation has dropped, I eagerly waited for the whole news to come up, inflation dropped from 11.91% to 11.8%. Phew! Is that good enough?! News flowing in that RBI is going to hike the Repo and CRR rates to contain inflation. At least somebody is doing something, the government does not seem to have any time to even think working towards containing inflation. First it was busy sorting out the chances of its existence, and now reacting to the 'demonic' problem of terrorism.

There has been a spat of bomb blasts in the country, the major cities like Bangalore and Ahmedabad under the scanner this time. The development that we so much boast of about India, has been becoming a cause of worry. Any city which is on an upsurge, should also get equipped to fight terrorist blasts, randomly occuring in any part without any notice.

But India, and these cities in particular, have shown commendable resilience. We have shown nothing can dampen the new spirit that India is shining with. We have vowed to reach the peak before we start looking down to see how far we have reached.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Will miss 23

I don't want time to pass by anymore. Can somebody please stop the time for me? I am 23 and I will be 24 in a few days. But I do not want to be 24. I am contended being 23 and want to remain 23 forever.

I had a wonderful time as 23. Coming out to the UK, living a life that I had aspired to live since a long time, doing a wonderful course, achieving some sense of fulfilment as regards to career, meeting international people and making them good friends, enjoying my daily new crushes, going out for cinema with friends followed by drinks and dance, sitting in my room and studying for hours without any disturbance, working on various coding projects and then dreaming about those computing codes, eating nice food cooked by me :-) , failed endeavour of making it to the gym and the swimming pool, roaming around London with elder brother, missing home and talking to them for hours over the phone, and lots more. I will miss 23.

Last year when I was about to be 23, I wrote this post: Take charge at 23 and that reflected how dissatisfied and unhappy I was about going on to become a 23 year old girl without the knowledge and maturity of taking her own decisions. But this year I realise, it is not only that to be able to take decisions is important, but more important is to have the right attitude to be able to follow and concretise the decision that you have taken. Decisions may be right or wrong, good or bad, but important is the way you attempt to stand by them and derive your life out of them. I don't claim to have taken the right decisions always, but I will not say that I have taken wrong decisions either. I will not judge them as right or wrong anymore. I would just say that I have taken some decisions on my own and I will see how they go.

Other reason for not letting go with the age of 23 is that there are lots of things that I want to do before growing old, lots of changes that I plan to bring about in my life and in others lives in my own way. I am moving towards it, but then it is taking more time than I had imagined in the first draft of dreaming about it. The dreaming drafts are getting more complex, and hence they demand more time. Either I need to be young to be able to do all that, or I get somebody to spend a life with who understands me. Not sure of how the second option will turn out to be, so I want to remain young, I want to remain 23.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Zindagi

Zinda rehne ke wajah kai hai,
kuchh zaroori hai aur kuchh ajeeb hai.
pyar ko pyar mile to kismat hai -
zindagi uske alawa bhi haseen hai!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The 4 songs I know

I have been lucky enough to try lots of things in life. Painting, sketching, kathak, harmonium, writing (poetry, story, blogs), swimming, tailoring (stitching, knitting), trekking, cycling, public speaking (debating, paper reading), lecturing, social work (volunteering, counseling), sports (kabaddi, skipping, high jump, badminton), leading (organizing, managing), etc. I have been successful in some, reasonably okay in some. There is one thing in which though I have failed miserably, or let's say performed unsatisfactorily and which makes me feel bad quite often. It is singing - an essential part of which is remembering the lyrics.

I do not want to curse my memory, I was teaching an engineering student a few days back here, and I amazed myself by finding out that I remembered all the trigonometric formulae I never touched after my high school exams. So I don't want to think that it is to do with lack of memory. Rather I feel it has more to do with selective memory. I can't remember definitions, my Economics teacher in school always wanted me to quote economists for definitions, but I could hardly do that. So I possibly can't memorize statements verbatim. I am not sure where in is the exact problem.

Anyways, this post is about the few songs which I remember verbatim (which means I remember more than or equal to four lines of that song).

As a kid I would sing this song with my younger brother. I would make him don the role of Kajol in the song, and would play Shahrukh myself, and we would both enact the song.

Jaati hun main, jaldi hai kya,
dhar ke jiya, woh kyun bhala....
Khud se main darne lagi hun, main pyar karne lagi hun...
Khud se jo itna darogi, tum pyar kaise karogi...
Jaati hun main, jaldi hai kya!!

The next song I know is also due to my younger brother. He loved the movie Guru, "Gurubhai Gurubhai awechhe", he would say for days after he watched the movie. His favorite dialogues: "Jab koi tumhare baare mein baatein karne lage to samajh lo ki tarakki kar rahe ho", and "naam tha nahi, hai, aur rahega , Gurukant Desai... " He would speak them so many times, that I could not help but remember them. His favorite song:

Jaage hai der tak, kuchh der sone do,
thodi si raat aur hai, subah to hone do,
aadhe adhure khwab jo, pure na ho sake,
ek baar phir se neend mein, woh khwab bone do.

Then when during masters in Delhi, I asked a friend of mine in the hostel (an amazing singer she is), to teach me a song. I chose the one written below. I remember we sat down at 9 after dinner in the night, and the session continued till 12 as she got tired and wanted to retire. I still practiced some more after she went away. All I learnt after that hard practice session were these lines:

Kaise bhoolungi, tu yaad hamesha aayega,
tere jaane se, jeena mushkil ho jayega,
din badle, duniya badle, waqt badlata nahi,
dil tere bin kahin lagta nahi, waqt guzarta nahi,
kya yahi pyar hai... kya yahi pyar hai...

(I am sure she will feel proud when she reads this, her mehnat has not gone into paani after all)

And the last song, which I learnt myself, must have sung these lines a hundred times by now:

O, palanhare, nirgun aondeya re,
tumre bin hamra kauno nahi,
hamri uljhan, suljhao bhagwan,
tumre bin hamra kauno nahi...
tumhe humka ho sambhale,
tumhe humre rakhwale,
tumre bin hamra kauno nahi...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Radha was married

Oh! What a discovery I made... Just generally thinking about how mean Krishna was, who loved Radha so dearly but still did not have the courage to make her his life partner, I started thinking if Radha ever married at all. After a few googling results I stumbled onto this spectacular discovery that Radha was a married woman, it was an extra-marital affair that she had with Krishna. I am amazed with this discovery, hard to digest, but makes logical sense so can be accepted. I knew that some of the gopis who would romance with Krishna were married, but to find out that Radha was married too and we still celebrate their romance with so much of élan was a great discovery for me.

I will not be writing for a few weeks, have exams coming up and look at the thoughts I get during exam times. Conjectures, epics I feel like doing these things more than plainly sitting down to study course stuff probably. May God save me!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Conjecture 21

Sometime in the past I had read or heard that it takes 21 days for a person to get rid of any of his habits. Just now I was thinking about it and was trying to figure out why was 21 chosen. What was wrong with any other number, was 21 just an arbitrary choice or some scientifically calculated estimate. I still do not have an answer to this question, but while thinking about this I have arrived at a nice discovery though.

Conjecture: 21, 42 and 84 and their reverses of the digits i.e 12, 24 and 48 are the only two digit numbers (so that both digits are non-zero and exclude
the multiples of 9) which are divisible by what their digits sum up to.

Proof: Let us try to prove this conjecture. I say it as a conjecture as I am still to get a complete and adequate proof to it. But logic and intuition makes me say that it is provable.

The only reason to exclude 1 to 9 is that they trivially hold as the sum of digits in this case is just the number which is surely divisible by itself. Also the numbers with multiples of 10 add up to the non-zero digit which would surely divide the number. Also the multiples of 9 have this property that they sum up to 9 and hence would surely be divisible by 9. So let's concentrate on this more interesting case of 2 digit numbers i.e., from 11 to 99.

Certainly the first thought would be to exclude all the prime numbers in this range as they can never be divided by their sum.

Next we can exclude even numbers with an odd in the first digit, as they would certainly add up to an odd number which can never divide the number which is even. So this excludes all the even numbers in those columns with first digit as odd e.g columns of 10s, 30s etc.

Also exclude numbers with both digits odd as they would sum to even which can not divide the odd number.

Next the numbers with repeated digits on being divided by their sum would always give 11/2 which means they are not divisible. So exclude them.

The numbers ending with 5 can only be divided by 5 or 0 and any non zero digit added to 5 can never give 5, so exclude all numbers ending with 5.

The rest can be excluded by hit and trial.

This is surely not the greatest way to solve this,
the best way would be to make an algorithm and program this rather than solving it so inefficiently as I suggested. Now since I have already typed it by putting in so much of efforts I would surely post it and welcome any suggestion on this problem also, but you are equally free to simply ignore this post.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The English weather

I have spent an Autumn and a Winter, am ongoing a Spring and am anticipating a Summer in England. For a person like me who is driven by weather, be it about efficiency at any engaging work or plain mood, a post on the English weather was certain, only took some time to understand it in entirety. A step outside the house in the morning on way to school, and the first human I would meet on the road would greet me with "Good morning! Lovely day, isn't it?"- that is in cases when the sun is glowing, in cases when it is dull and gloomy I also get to hear "Good morning! Wonder if the weather forecasts are of any good, they have been forecasting the sun since quite a while now without any success." Being from a tropical country to crave for the sun is natural for me, but then actually, everybody likes the sun. However centrally heated you house or your car may be, nothing can replace what sun does for you.

When I came here, it was almost like summers going to end and I witnessed trees shedding off their clothes. Dint like much seeing them naked, and probably neither did they like it much, so saw winters descend only to cover them with snow. That was perhaps good for the trees to get the gift of a white gown, dressed like angels, but was cruelty to me. I was cold. Not that I was subject to atrocities by having no coats or hats, but the craving for a warm sun (yes, there is another kind of sun also, the fake sun, which may be full and glaring but with no warmth) would make me cold. I remember having enjoyed the first rain here, only to be commented by a friend that I would soon pray for it to never rain again. And actually I did pray so. It rained relentlessly for ages, those fake rains which don't wet you enough to claim that your bath for the day is done, but only irritate you with their continuity and lack of vigor, may be reminding you of a sluggish life which sometimes seems just too much
stretched.

It never got any less cold though. I started feeling numb, my mood was getting sick of the monotonicity of similar kind of feeling everyday. The weather did all it could to do to make me reach the point of exasperation. World looked black and white to me, black nights and white mornings. Probably the trees also started getting bored of their white dresses. The dynamics of life is not linear but non-linear, it is not in black and white but in colours. And so spring dawned. I welcomed it with a huge hug, the days got warmer, the trees got their leaves back, they look merrier in green.

It has been quite warm since a few days now, the sun is no more fake, trying to remain as true and just to its work
as possible. So today in the morning when I got up by the sun rays peeping into my room from the little apart curtains at the corner, I smiled, smiled at the prospect of having a warm day ahead. I got up and drew apart my curtains with full rigor as an acknowledgment to the grace of the sun. And lo! The cars parked on the roads, the tall trees and the short shrubs, the grasses on the front yards of the houses, the street lamp-posts and the bus-stop stands, everything that I could see- covered by a white blanket of snow. Fake sun, I must say!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tit- bits

This weekend I watched an amazing movie - RACE! Yes I say it is amazing, I am sure, many would not agree to this and might just write off my sense in movies. I do not care. I have grown up with my younger brother on weekly doses of Tehkikat by Shyam D'Silva and Gopi Chand on Doordarshan. The detective serial was something we would not miss for anything. My mom was also convinced that we both cannot live without it, and so even during exams she would permit us to watch that serial. So now liking Race may seem justified. I always look forward to any suspense thriller that gets released, and Race gets an ace amongst them. Not even once did the movie turn out to be predictable to me, the comedy quotient was good enough to keep my jaws occupied with the brain trying to decipher the mystery. There might be a few bollywoodish gibberishes here and there, but that can be overlooked, otherwise justified by the class that Abaas Mustan, the director duo has put up in the movie.

Apart from the movie watching, this weekend I pondered about the fact that I am sure over this period of time I have surely made a few regular readers of my blog, who do not want to comment on my posts, but surely want to read them to derive whatever set of emotions they have been deriving out of my posts. Just like listening to music or dancing or partying or blogging, reading others blogs may also be some way of recreation. So how justified is it if I deprive them of this recreation. To try and put up one post at a regularly defined time intervals seems quintessential.

And then it does not need to make sense always. I don't stop watching movies ever, so why stop blogging ever. Cheers!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Accidental love

I recently watched the new release "The Accidental Husband". There is something which remained with me after I completed watching the movie, I am still not able to think any less about it. There is Dr. Emma, the female lead who is a famous love doctor aka love guru and there is Mr. Patrick who is the male lead, an ordinary fireman. Mr. Patrick is the accidental husband of Dr. Emma. From what started as a revenge, they both eventually fell in love with each other. Emma did not fall in love with Patrick just after knowing him, but it was a gradual process. The time she spent with his family, his friends, with him in his social gatherings- everything added to make her fall in love with him.

So there can be two situations of falling in love with somebody- one can be when one does not know anything more than what the person is, like no knowledge about his family, his social lineages, his friends and his kind of gatherings; or the other can be to fall in love with the person after having encountered everything, after having spent time with his family and friends, having attended social functions with him, having known him quite well in and out.

I don't know which of the two is right. May be there is not much difference between them after all. May be there is not much to even think about in them. I am not sure.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A crude confession

Well, I have a confession to make. A confession that might leave me in a bad light in front of many, but does not stop me from making it.

I love my parents, more than Karan Johar claims in his Its-all-about-loving-your-parents movies, and every time I am surprised to find out that what I think of them is not true in entirety. When I stepped into adolescence and it was time for me to find a partner for myself, without having heard this from them I had assumed that they would want to marry me off only in the same caste i.e with an Agarwal. So subconsciously I prepared myself that even I want to marry only a maru. You know when you put yourself into conditions, it is hardly that you allow any free flow of emotions. You channelize every action of yours towards fulfilling that condition.

Last weekend my mother called up to tell me that they want to start looking for a suitor for me. And she added that they do not want to only look for a maru as more than that what she is looking for in my match is a nice smart boy who is strong enough to take care of her daughter through everything that life has to offer and has a respectable position in the society. I was stunned, took me sometime to recollect myself. To confirm what I just heard I asked, "You mean you are okay with inter-caste?" Pat came the reply- "Why not? What made you ever think that after educating you so much, letting you live life the way you want to, sending you abroad for studies that I will have this constraint of caste in mind!" I was amazed, amazed to know how foolish I have been. Amazed to find out how little I knew my mother. Proud to have a mother like her, and ashamed to be myself.

Two thoughts sprang my mind soon after this incident. I am thinking about them since that day, trying to undo a few things I did in the past. First being talking to my best friend from college. We are best friends since the last 6 years now, she is also an Agarwal. Two years back she told me that she had committed herself to a Mallu guy knowing that her family would not approve of the relation. I was not excited to know it. North Indian- South Indian, I felt there was no match. And surely her family would disapprove. I never encouraged her, thinking that it was my duty as her best friend to express my honest opinion. But after this talk with my mom, I immediately contacted her. I begged pardon from her, for having not understood her when she most needed me. Found about how the guy was doing and told her to fearlessly go ahead with it, and that I am with her. Told her that even she may be just assuming like I did that her family may not approve of the relation. It all might turn out to be absolutely fine. "It was more important to marry somebody who perfectly understands you than to bother yourself about his caste"- we both agreed on it.

This post will not deal with the second thought that sprang my mind immediately after the conversation with mom. I am still trying to undo that, but then it is probably rightly said that there are no retakes in real life. I wish I had a reel life as well!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thoughts or no thoughts?!

I feel like writing something, not knowing what to write. I feel like thinking about someone, not knowing who he is. I feel like talking about something, not knowing exactly what. I feel like writing about it all, not knowing where to start and what to write. Meanwhile I am glad that I have at least finished writing all my projects now and thankfully there I knew exactly what.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A breather

The last few weeks have been maddening, I got a little too carried away. I was dreaming, breathing, thinking, feeling, eating and even walking only one thing. Nothing else occupied me. There were no thoughts for blogging, no desire to watch my once-in-a-week-bollywood-dose that I use to pamper myself.

I have allowed a breather. I decided to be a little kind to my thought process just before it was time to collapse with the guilt of excessive torture to the brain. The thrills of fantasizing about it had to be given a break. So I decided to keep my commitment of the once-in-a-week-bollywood-dose and started deciding on watching some movie. I don't what made me select Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (may be the Abhishek Bachchan factor). Huh, it is the worst movie I have watched in my dose routines . So one can imagine it dint help me much to drive my crazy thinking process away for anytime. There was nothing in the movie that could make me feel good. I would surely be more prudent next time. But rather honestly I have not left too many good choices anymore :-) From Saawariya to Taare Zameen Par I have watched them all in one of my dose routines. My search for an English movie is generally filtered by lots of criteria, so there too I am not left with too many options.

So finally I decided to blog, and to be very honest this is the best way to force myself to think of something other than what I have been putting myself to think about for weeks. Well since weeks, what occupied me was my C++ numerical project which I submitted today and from tomorrow I would be working on a statistical project. Oh my sweet little brain, I confess that I love you and I will be more kind to you very soon. Please cooperate!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Being positive

I read two articles in today's Hindustan Times- one is called "The Bhaiyya Effect" by Vir Sanghvi and the other "Bonds that won't break" by Karan Thapar.

Vir Sanghvi says that even if Bihar and UP lie in the bottom in the per capita domestic product and are governed by regional caste based politics, India and in particular the other prosperous states cannot ignore the contributions that Bihar and UP have made to their development. What I particularly liked was the positive tone in the article, the smartness with which all the problems in these two states were focussed, going as far as "For many Indians, the two states have become an embarrassment", but at the end the hope that the way "eventually India shed its old image and went from being perceived as an underdeveloped wasteland to becoming an emerging superpower", these two "laggard" states would also do something similar. Many of us may not believe in the statement in entirety, given the mess they are in, but isn't everything about confidence and positive belief at the end. I have written this earlier also that BJP government might not have come to power because of the "feel good" factor, but nevertheless their "India Shining" campaign did a lot of good to us, gave us the confidence that we can shine... Similarly, instead of involving ourselves in stupid campaigns of driving away north Indians(Biharis and UPites in this case) from Maharastra I think it is time for us to appreciate their contribution. They would be shining soon and leading India in terms of economic development. I am sure a change of mentality would help a lot. A very close Bihari friend of mine once told me, "The problem is the lack of confidence amongst us in Bihar and that is why we migrate to other states, if only we decide that we have to stay here and work towards change, then there is no reason for Bihar to have bad politics or bad administration." My friend, I have changed my attitude long back, I know these two states are the heart of Indian culture and ethos. May the Biharis and UPites realize this soon and bring about a revolution.

Karan Thapar says that there is nothing dissimilar in Pakistan and India. "To begin with, fanaticism and fundamentalism is as alien to Pakistani people as it is to the Indian." I know a few smirks already at that, how many of us really believe in something like that. But the bottom line is that if only we both could start believing in it and work towards creating harmony, the scene is going to be much better. Let us accept it completely that fighting with each other is not going to do any good to any of us, so why not appreciate each other, love each other and grow together. I totally endorse when Thapar says "I'd say we are like siblings- or better still, like half- brothers- who can be easily provoked to quarrel but are locked in a relationship neither can break... So even though we always disagree, we always understand. And ultimately, the more we differ, the more we remain the same."

So the idea is, if media can now play a constructive role like this, by germinating positive thoughts in the minds of the people, a lot of good is being done. The first step in making anything successful is to believe that it is possible. These articles lay the seed for us to believe that Bihar and UP would be riding the ladder of development very soon, and India and Pakistan would soon be marching together to the peak of success. Thumbs up to Sanghvi and Thapar! Thumbs up to positivity!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Detachments

If I were a carpenter, probably then the process of attachment and detachment would be without any emotional strings and more as a matter of daily job. But alas! I am not so...

I was helping my house-mate build a study table. Those ready made packed tables where one only needs to fix the screws and attach parts correctly to get the table in shape. It took us quite some time and I realized the analogy to building relationships. The strings of attachments need to be tied together to build a long lasting relationship. Different screws are different moments together spent which make the relation special and become memories. The hammering of the screws may be seen as the expression of love to each other and a commitment of staying together.

And when we were near completion, the thought that the table might be detached when she changes the house. Similar goes the analogy when we detach ourselves from an ongoing relationship. There may be various reasons for us to do so. It is a careful process of detaching all the strings that were tied to build the relationship.

The table would need to be opened some day, but then it would again need to be attached in a new house. So it may be better to keep the hope of another upcoming relationship during the process of detachment as it would hurt less then.

Weird thought, out of nowhere.... just thought of writing it! For me the process of detachment is on since long.... Some screws seem to have got jammed due to long time and so it is taking more effort than usual... hurting more as well... Cheers! :-)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Indian curry

It is an enlightening experience for me to find out what Westerners and other Asians think about the Indian curry. For the uninitiated, Indian curry is just anything that an Indian (me in this case) eats in her meal- which may be even fried rice/ pulao! For some who know a little more, know that curry is liquid in form. And those who know a little further, know that it is yellow in colour.

So everyday during lunch when I take out my lunch box, the first question that is thrown to me with immense excitement is: "Is that curry?" with all the hopes of the guess being correct. To be honest, now I am myself not sure of what Indian curry actually is. I describe it as something liquid that looks yellow because of a particular spice called "turmeric" and is made of curd/yoghurt. This is the basic version and it can be made more intricate by adding other stuff like dumplines (pakore)/ potatoes/ onions/ beans/ pulses/ vegetables. I know this definition can be refuted by Indians also as different cultures in India have different ways of cooking curry.

But whatever it is, they all love seeing, talking and eating Indian curry- depending on whatever they define it to be!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

To keep writing

It gets a little tough to be able to update my blog space regularly, not that I am some ultra busy person who does not have spare moments to herself to jot down a few words here and there, but may be because I am not that happening a person who encounter significant events in life worth writing down. So I have decided not to judge anything as significant or not worth writing when I sit down to writing. Discard it if you feel it is insignificant and read on and let it stay with you if you feel something significant got conveyed.

Just came to know from a friend that her two Gmail accounts got hacked. This is disturbing both because of the enormous loss of contact details and all other important informations that she had been storing, but also because she was an avid Google fan and feels deceived on the occurrence of such an incident.

I am also disturbed on thinking that I cooked one huge cauliflower on Saturday and since the past four days I am trying to finish it. But like "Water of India" magic of famous magician P.C.Sorkar which I saw with my father when I was a kid, wherein by his magic the water in the jug would never end even when in full public glare he would pour the jug down into the bucket- my cooked cauliflower does not even seem to be near to getting over.

I am happy about the Indian win on Australians in cricket. Such incidents provide a kick to the ego and probably thats what make us happy about them.

Oh it is time for dinner. Here I come, my darling veg-in-the-fridge-since-four-days :-)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Revive BJP

I am not a political commentator, so I claim of no expertise in political analysis. I have not cast my vote in any of the elections and don't see any such opportunity coming up also. This post is about my personal views which I have formed on seeing India and in particular the BJP from a distance now.

I have respect for the diversity India carries, the multi-party democracy that it has been able to sustain over a long period of time. But now, I think it is time for us to realize that our democracy has come off age and it is time for us to make the country politically more stable so that we can solely concentrate more on its economic development. I understand the need of regional parties as that is the best way through which the regional issues can be best addressed. But at the same time I realize at the national level there should be more political stability, and the big political parties should grow bigger to get full majority in the house so that they are not under constant threat of appeasing allies. And to win this full majority in the house it is important that the parties keep growing in stature by winning the respect of the people.

BJP is a party which is in doldrums at the moment. Though personally I feel there is a lot of potential that I see in this party. The way they led the dynasty-favoring country for nearly full term under Vajpayee was when I took notice of the party. The "India Shining" slogan may not have helped them win votes and come back to power, but it did a lot of good to Indians. It gave all of us the confidence that we have the ability to shine, we can do what we have not done till now and the feel good factor that it left us with helped us to actually work hard and do good in our own capacity. After all everything boils down to confidence at the end.

But recently the news item of Lal Krishna Advani being chosen to spear head the BJP campaign for the next assembly polls bothered me. At this time when the party needs to reinvent itself, it was important for them to choose a candidate who can be revered by everybody. They should have been bold to make a choice as critical as this.

If not Advani then who? I might look completely wrong to some when I state my choice of the BJP prime ministerial candidate. But I am convinced about her abilities and so my choice would be Sushma Swaraj. To me she is able, smart, confident, stylish, responsible and young. All these factors go in her favor and she is the only one who I think can put up a tough competition to the incumbent government. This will help BJP to be seen out of its stereotypes which people do not want it to be associated with. She represents Indianness and competent to be the face of a new emerging India.

Above views are completely personal. No malice intended.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

LIC- zindagi ke sath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi

In my private conversations with God I have always wondered as to why does He give uncertainties in life, why can't we know what would happen to us the next moment, why does life need to be so complicated that we need to solve a puzzle everyday about how life would be the next day. I know some would argue that it depends on the way you look at it. It depends how complicated you make it, it just might be too simple but if you choose to ignore the obvious then it is bound to get complicated. So my brother (from the Paulo Cohelo's book) advised me that whenever I feel life is too complicated and tough, I should write it down and while writing I would find miracles happening. And to be honest just moments back I found myself in a true state of confusion and utter uncertainty, while now thinking about what exactly these thoughts were, I find them so mundane- unworthy of serious thoughts. There are a few things about which I cannot do anything, it has to happen naturally and things about which I can do something are not uncertain.

Isn't it really great to tell somebody who is most special to you that "I am like a LIC policy for you- zindagi ke sath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi" ... then where is the uncertainty ??!!??

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

For Nawab

I just completed watching "Taare Zameen Par"(TZP). Ishaan is a dyslexic kid who is not good in studies but is an amazing painter... His brush strokes convey what words fail to convey, the use of bold colors and the confident strokes, all tell a story on the canvas. He is not an achiever in studies and so is discarded by his parents and teachers only to be discovered by Amir Khan who tells his parents and teachers about his problem and works hard with the kid to reach a respectable level in studies and an amazing level in painting.

I cried so much while I watched the movie. There was a pang of guilt in me, guilt that I even scolded Nawab once for not performing well in Mathematics. At Salaam Baalak Trust (an NGO for street children) as a Mathematics teacher I tried my best to teach Mathematics to Nawab, Sharafat, Tabrej and Satinder. Sharafat and Satinder were really good, Tabrej was good too but was not consistent while Nawab was the one who felt himself out of place amongst this group. He was not quick at picking up concepts though never showed that he was struggling to understand. He would portray himself to be a bad boy not willing to study than confess that he is not able to understand. I scolded him once for he would not do any of the homeworks I would ask him to do and he never showed up after that. Today while watching the movie, I cried, cried really hard, cried for not having understood Nawab.

I remember once while teaching him, I said "Nawab, if you don't like doing mathematics then tell me honestly, I am here to help you, we can do something else. You like literature, so we can do that instead." And he was so elated at that only to see his friends reject the idea as they wanted to do maths. I now wish I had more time to have sat with him after the class to discuss literature. The day I scolded him was because he was not doing anything that I asked him to, I gave him simpler problems than the others but he still would not do them.

I did try to explain him enough though. I explained him that it was not essential for him to top in this race where everybody is running after something or the other, I always encouraged him to do what he was good at and enjoyed the best, but then also explained him the need to just do a little bit so that he manages to be there where he wants to be. He did understand that but I could not devote enough time to help him with it. I wish I could help him find out the meaning in his life. I wish he himself finds out the meaning in his life. He is a bright kid, only needs some guidance and the confidence that he can do what he believes in. Aah! I just remembered, he asked me one day what it needs to be a Radio Jockey... I said no Maths for sure :-) good speaking ability and a great sense of humor and you have both... but yes you would need some educational qualification and so you see it's important that you manage to pass these tenth boards.

His tenth board exams are coming now. Its mid Jan and they start in March, not much time left and I am not there to see his progress. Nawab, this post is for you. To tell you that YOU CAN DO IT. Just do the chapters from your maths book which you feel you are comfortable with, do them well. Attempt all the questions that come from your done chapters, solve a few practice papers and see if you score pass marks by attempting those questions. Ask Rajan sir and Maths sir to take some maths tests for you before real exams. And don't panic, you wont need maths in Radio Jockeying :-)

Sharafat and Satinder, revise well all the chapters. Revising means working out problems and not reading them like you read literature. Work out more and more back year question papers as that will give you a lot of practice and confidence. Tabrej same goes for you, but with extra caution of staying calm so that you don't go blank and make mistakes.

My best wishes are with you guys! May you rock always. May God bless you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy marriage!

Just got an email marriage invitation from a very special friend of mine. This friend is special for many reasons. First, the way we had our first meeting and second, the way we had our second meeting.

He was my classmate in my school in class-X. That is all that I have known him for, one year as a classmate. And to top it we never talked, not even a single hello did we ever exchange. The only conversation I remember having with him was on the day when we had our last exams and he asked me "Erpor ki korbi? Aager ki plans?" , which in English means what would you do next? what are you plans? and we had a small two liner chat where I replied that I am not sure what I would do next as a lot depends on the result of these exams and he said that he would go to Kolkata.

With such little conversation, you would be wondering why he is still so special. He is, coz he would make me feel special everyday while I was in his class for that one year. Everyday as I would come out of my hostel which was inside the school campus to go to the building where our classes would be, I would feel two eyes following my each step. I used to get conscious earlier, but then got used to the idea of him watching me. The whole day in the class, he in spite of sitting on the front bench and me on the third bench, he would have his head turned around to stare at me. I would always wonder if I look so funny that he can't take away his eyes off me, but whatever it was, I felt special indeed. I remember how my girl-friend would keep a book in front of my face on getting irritated by this as she had a crush on him.

So yes he was very special, the whole class would tease him, would pester him to go and express himself, but something would always stop him from coming and even talking to me. Oh! probably I guess I looked scary and not funny that he could never muster courage to talk to me.

But he remained special, and we left the school and I had no touch with him thereafter.

Our second meeting was after 8 years i.e last year when he tracked me down through an Orkut community (for those who don't know about orkut, it is a social networking site by Google on the lines of Facebook). I had not thought even in my wildest of dreams that I would ever get to talk with him, though he was somebody I could never really wipe out of my memory. We started chatting on gtalk (Google's chat service). He was not the shy guy anymore or probably it was easy for him to talk to me as he was not seeing me anymore and writing is always easier than speaking. But apart from all these, our lives had changed a lot. He was in a relationship for the last four years with a girl he met in college (I guess) at Kolkata . Our discussions were more centered around career and current affairs. I never asked him about his behavior in school but he did make a passing remark regarding that when he confessed that he had "tons of crush" on me though he could never tell me then. I did not pester him to tell any more on that.

I have again lost touch with him since the last five - six months now and it would be interesting to see how our third meeting is like. Nevertheless I just got a marriage invitation from his new email id, and my joy knows no bounds. This friend would remain special for all the weirdness this friendship carries, and I wish him a very happy and blessed married life.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The religion that Hinduism is

I am no prophet, I am no expert in religion, I am a normal Hindu who believes in what she has understood in all these years. Whatever I am going to write in this article are my personal feelings and might not be pleasing to everyone's sentiments because that is not what I intend to do through this. I only intend to vent my long suppressed feelings about what I have been seeing happening around me in the name of religion. Apologies if these thoughts hurt anyone.

Being born and brought up in a 'liberated' Hindu family, ('liberated' because I was never forced to practice my religion but left on my own to understand it and accept it and practice it the way I want to) with each passing day I am appreciating Hinduism more. My present surroundings, living with Christians in a Christianity dominated country makes me rather unwillingly compare my religion with theirs every day. Religion is something I wish to talk about the least, as I feel they are very personal feelings and are meant to be enlightening to oneself the way they believe in it, while here it is more of convincing others to feel enlightened the way they have felt it. How can you make somebody go through the experience you have gone through? I don't doubt the intentions behind such a deed, they believe that anybody who is not a Christian has probably not gone through such an experience, not "born again" as they say, and so think that if persuasion can change my life, make me feel God and help me get born again then what's wrong in that.

But what I don't understand is that why do they need to persuade somebody to feel this. Can persuasion ever generate feelings, enlightenment cannot happen by somebody coaxing you everyday, it has to come from within- on its own. In a class a teacher teaches the same things to everybody, but everybody grasps the material differently through their unique ways. Then what's the need of persuasion, instead why not ask our Gods to be that powerful that they can communicate without the need of anybody to persuade. Hinduism does not need persuasion to be followed. Nobody asked me to be a Hindu, I picked it up because I appreciated its open-mindedness. It is subtle and yet so profound to me. I don't bother myself if people around me are enlightened about Hinduism or not, it's not my job to persuade them about my God and ask them to go through what I have felt, my God says that it is His job and He takes care of that. I want to believe in what I believe without having to wonder why others don't believe the way I do.

I was recently reading an article in which the Christian missionaries in Orissa were attacked, my immediate reaction was of disgust, then on further probing I found that they were attacked because they were alleged to persuade Hindus to convert themselves into Christians. This made me think for a while. Myself experiencing the extent to which this persuasion goes, telling those poor villagers that all your miseries would be taken care of by God if you become a Christian is not something I would disbelieve. So the anger seems justified to me, though under no circumstance do I justify the way it was vented. Then how does one vent these thoughts, by writing a blog which only a couple of people read, or by giving a speech which only tens of people hear. I am still to find an answer to this.

I have come to accept that people need religion, or rather I would say that they need a faith to hold on. In times of distress and failures in life, this faith helps one from breaking apart, and so it is to some extent essential to make everybody aware of the existence of this faith. But one needs to decide to what extent do we want to persuade somebody in accepting that faith, when should we let that person decide on his own about what to do next. There can not be any Government censorship on this, only moral censorship can work. Tolerance to accept whatever the person chose for himself is needed.