Tuesday, July 29, 2008

And then there were none..

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law;
One got into Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two Little Indian boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

Came across this and felt like sharing it. This is an excerpt from Agatha Christie's book called "And then there were none". A brilliant book, gripping suspense in one of the most fast paced books you'll ever come across. I couldn't put it down and finished it in less than a couple of hours.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Sunday, Vashi again..

Was at Vashi station again. The queue was incredibly long for the tickets, and as usual, I was late for Office. Queues are my favourite place to observe people and their mannerisms. At it's best, the queue was crawling. People around were had a lost look upon their faces, resigned to the fact that they have to be a part of this serpentine queue for the next half an hour or so. I was intently reading a petition put up airing the grievances of the commuters; Long queues, no shades, malfunctioning vending machines et cetera.
The man behind me remarked, "Ever since they started the computerised ticketing system, the exercise of buying a ticket has become painfully slow."
I was in no mood to start a conversation but I smiled and said, "Yes ,It has. " He was right. This was one example where technology had slowed life considerably. The days of card tickets seemed to be from some bygone era.
I was very impatient and was glancing at the watch more often and I swear, the clock was moving faster than ever. My Manager would be having me for lunch today.
I was nearing the counter and my eyes fell on two boys who seemed to be very worried after getting the tickets. They were comparing their tickets and talking very fast. I threw a customary glance at my watch again and it was then of the boys suddenly entered the queue ahead of me and told the man over the counter , "Sir, I wanted a ticket for CBD and you gave me one for CST."
The person retorted, "So you mean to say I don't know the difference between CST and CBD?"
The scared boy replied, " Sir, please take this ticket back and give me a ticket for CBD"
The Officer glowered and the kid stepped back. I was near enough to overhear their conversation. They were with no extra money and were too innocent to travel ticketless.
One of the boys came up with an idea. They tried selling the ticket to someone who would like to go to CST. Little did they know that a railway station is the last place where a Mumbaikar would trust another.

They were good kids from presumably decent families with clean , oiled hair , bright faces with spectacles et al. Their backpacks proudly declared "IIT-Jee".

I tapped one of them on the back and asked what the problem was. " Uncle, CST jaana hai aapko?" The kid asked immediately. Do you want to go to CST?

"Uncle??" I winced. Feeling my stubble, I said that I didn't want to. The kid left without saying anything.

"Ek ticket nikaalke do naa CBD ke liye, please" the other kid blurted out desperately. Would you please buy one ticket to CBD for us.

I was at the counter by then. I wanted to go to CBD myself. I asked the man over the counter to give another ticket to CBD as well.

"Pata nahi kahan kahan se aa jaate hain hero banne!" The Officer muttered under his breath. God knows where these wannabe heroes pop up from!

I winked at the officer and handed over the ticket to the kid who grabbed it and started running towards the platform.

As an afterthought, one of them turned back and shouted, "Thanks Bhaiyya!!"

I was relieved that it was not the other kid who had called me an "Uncle".

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Morning in the Maximum City...

A lazy Saturday morning, Mr. Pillai is intently reading Suketu Mehta's "Maximum City". The curtains are up but the sunlight is always blocked by an equally ugly building a few metres away. A tree between them doesn't help matters. It's 10.00 AM and it's already dark as if it's way past the sunset. To say it's raining incessantly since last night adds upto the misery.

Suketu Mehta's Maximum City is all about the 'Great Ruined Metropolis" called Bombay. A Bombayite at heart, Mr. Pillai smiles throughout the book reading about his daily encounters being penned so eloquently by an NRI. He feels proud of being a part of the city and is very immersed in reading the book when his mother turns on the light and he realizes that he was actually straining to read the book. The letters are clear now and Mr. Pillai stretches back to read the book in a more comfortable position. A couple of pages, and the lights go off! His Mother's relieved sigh is audible.

"Strange.." Wonders Mr. Pillai looking at his Mother's contented expression."Why would someone be so happy because of a powercut?" Isn't this the moment when everybody sighs swears. Usually, A dark mood dots the area which faces the power cut.

"Good God! I was able to finish off everything before the power cut. Yesterday, your dad did not get any breakfast as the power went off an hour before schedule."

" The indefatigable Mumbai spirit." thought Mr. Pillai.

"Mumbai Spirit, My Foot!!" Mr. Pillai corrected himself. " The city is going to the dogs and the politicos try to fool the people by celebrating the Mumbai spirit. Like we have any other choice!!"

His colleagues at office have to go through agonising 12 Hr powercuts. " Twelve Hours!" was his reaction when he heard it for the first time.

Later when he heard about the 16hr Powercuts in Akola, 40hrs in industrial belts, 12hrs seemed comparatively bearable and the 5hrs that he was subjected to looked like a luxury now.

The newspaper featured the states facing a power shortage with Maharashtra leading the way with an annual shortage 5200MW followed by Andhra Pradesh with 1000MW something , Karnataka, UP and Kerala. That meant Bangalore and Hyderabad had already seen their first powercuts in more than a decade. In fact, the Andhra Pradesh Government shamelessly managed to come up with an innovative "Power Free Weekends " Campaign.

And he was seething when he saw that the power consumption of his CM & the deputy CM alone was equivalent to the power consumption of an entire town!!

"If Gandhiji were alive today, he would've first stopped using electricity before exhorting others to cut down on power usage. Always led by example, the Great Man." thought Mr. Pillai.

As if reading his thoughts, the radio blared, "They don't make them like that anymore"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poor CM..

The CM got an aircraft worth 62 crores of taxpayers' money. It is indeed a very essential luxury. Poor chap, he had to travel with a convoy full of ugly bodyguards for so long. In fact, he has found a way to beat the pot hole ridden roads that he himself refuses to repair.

I used to find it so depressing that the CM of one of the most developed states of India had to travel on the roads while lesser mortals like the Ambani brothers flew. Even Vijaya Mallaya has one. No wonder the CM felt so compelled to buy one. So what if the PM still uses the roads, our CM is does not have the luxury of good roads like the PM and its not wrong if someone manages to find a way to bypass the horrible Mumbai traffic.

I am relieved that the Government has finally set it's priorities correct. An aircraft for the CM, a statue in the sea and a bridge that's so long that nobody's gonna use it. I hope the state is not running short of funds as it's already in debt in excess of Rs. 1 lakh crore. If only the rogues who dodge taxes pay up honestly, the CM could have opted for that fancy model which they show in Hollywood movies..

Poor Chap, really.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vamos Rafa!!

I know I should have come up with this one a bit earlier. After two years of cheering for the runner up, I got a chance to jeer at the runner up.

The Wimbledon Final coincided with the RnR party (Rewards and Recognition) of my Office. Needless to say, I was the most unwilling entrant at the party. Worse, the final coincided with the Asia cup final between India and Sri Lanka (Which we lost eventually)
I managed to catch up with the first two sets and most of the third at a sports café before leaving for the Office Party where I managed to be boring enough to sit glued to the Match. And the Final EPIC set at home. (Thanks to the rain interruptions)
FedEx netted a backhand, and this was the moment!! I found myself jumping and relieved that it was over.
When asked for his opinion, Federer sportingly said, "Well, I tried everything. He's the worst opponent on the best court."

The match was the longest Wimbledon Final ever played and would be remembered for a long, long time. It caused a massive surge in electricity demand and it showed a 1,400 MW spike when the Spaniard lifted the trophy.
A National Grid spokesman said that the surge was so huge because a huge number of people , so transfixed by the tennis, forgot to switch off the lights till the match ended.

Me too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Distorted thoughts...

Sometimes I think of writing a new blog about the books I read. Every book I finish I feel like I have something to say. A voice stifled inside me. A thought begging to be heard.

This is the best place to pen my thoughts and bore my readers. But the problem is the disorderliness of my thoughts. It would require more than a management student to organise, bear or even decipher them. I come across as an introvert who ends up as a person who just cannot keep his mouth shut.
I have the received compliments like " Gosh! I didn't know you had a tongue in you!"
and "Ayyo!! For God's sake, can you keep quiet just for a minute??"
The best part is, these compliments are from the same man, my Manager.

My corner at office is the noisiest you'll come across. My absence casts an eerie silence over the bay. I discuss everything with everyone and everyone discusses everything with me. But I also have this feeling of having never been able to express what I feel or I think. Very few people, less than the fingers on my right hand, know me. Perhaps even less. Partly because I harbour this feeling that every other thing that defines me is a dirty little secret. A part that refuses to divulge.

The other day someone told me "I feel so sad when I am alone."

I was so amazed at the simplicity of the thought. I too, am a depressed person when I am not with people I know but I was never able to put the feeling into words. It was too complex for me to express. I was confused with myself until that person said these words. It struck a chord immediately. The simplicity of the statement and the deep meaning attached to it. I might claim to be intelligent but this simple explanation was something I could never come up with...

Distorted thoughts, really!!! I was thinking about writing on books! :P

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hows this for an Inspiration...

Growing up in the heart of a Wadala slum, eight-yearold Narendra Jadhav knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a gangster.
Somewhere along the way he changed course and ended up as chief economist of the Reserve Bank of India and then vice-chancellor of Pune University, a chair he currently holds. This prestigious post has a special sweetness to it, for a hundred years ago, Jadhav’s Dalit ancestors were made to leave Pune city before dark and carry brooms to sweep away their own polluting shadow.
Jadhav’s unique success story has often been cited as a sterling example of how education can unchain and transform when seemingly nothing else can. The street and the slum taught the young boy to be resilient but it was the all-consuming emphasis placed on education by his semi-literate father, a Dalit worker with the Bombay Port Trust, that set him on the road to success. His brother excelled too, got into the IAS, and went on to become municipal commissioner in Mumbai.
Jadhav’s schooling was split between a municipal primary school and a private secondary school, both united in
the poverty of the children who sat in the classrooms. His ambitions changed all the time. First he wanted to be a gangster, and then something far less glamorous, a peon. “I grew up at a time when life was uncertain. I wanted a steady job that nobody could take away from me. A peon’s job sounded ideal.’’ Later, he decided he wanted to be a teacher, but by 13, he told his horrified brother that he hoped to be a writer. “My brother threw a fit. He told me I’d starve.’’ But Jadhav’s father, who went on to painstakingly pen his own memoirs, overheard the conversation and jumped to his defence. “Don’t listen to what others tell you to become. They may tell you to become a doctor, barrister or engineer. But follow your inner voice and do what you want. I really don’t care what you choose for yourself, as long as you’re at the top, wherever you are. Don’t ever be mediocre. Even if you’re a thief, make sure you’re an internationally acclaimed one.’’
The boy took his father’s words very seriously. At the SSC exam, he topped in Sanskrit, a language he had defiantly chosen because generations of Dalits had been denied access to a tongue considered the preserve of the Brahmins. At Ruia College, Mumbai, he passed his BSc in Statistics and Economics with distinction. After completing the first year of his MA in Economics from Mumbai University, Jadhav got a job as a probationary officer with the State Bank of India. So, during his second year, he juggled his studies with a full-time job. “My brother thought this was a bad idea. He was convinced that my scores would dip and that I could not have my cake and eat it too,’’ said Jadhav. But he proved his brother wrong. He succeeded at his job and set a record by getting a first in
Economics, something that no Dalit had done before.
After a three-year stint with the bank, during which he travelled extensively in Maharashtra, he joined the Reserve Bank of India. At 24, he was their youngest researcher. A few years into the job, he felt the need to study further. So, on a government of India scholarship, he headed for the University of Indiana, where he received a Ph.D in Public Finance. He was awarded the Best International Student and won the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Economic Theory.
His classmates at Indiana, where he headed the Indian Students Association, were shocked when he told them he wanted to return to India after his Ph.D. “At that time, no Indian who went abroad to study returned home. Most of them were from rich families who would settle abroad and then complain of how they were subjected to racism. And here was I, from a down-trodden family in India, turning my back on over a dozen job offers to return home instead.’’ Seven days after his got his PhD, Jadhav was back “because I believe there can
be no substitute for your motherland. My commitment to my own people was so strong that I would not been happy anywhere else’’.
When Jadhav passed his SSC, he could barely speak in English, a language he has now consummately mastered. “Of course it was hard for me to switch from Marathi to English. But then, life is hard. You can’t use your background as an excuse for incompetence. And there’s no substitute for hard work. The fact that I lived in a slum and stud
ied at a Marathi-medium school did not come in the way of my higher education abroad,’’ he says.
When Jadhav returned home, his mother found it hard to understand why her son was still working so hard after all these years of study. Surely a PhD meant he could now take it easy? That’s when Jadhav’s father stepped in once again with his earthy wisdom. He said a PhD was like a driving licence. You don’t stop driving once you get a licence. You start driving. “Here was one illiterate person explaining the value of PhD to another illiterate person. And he couldn’t have put it better,’’ says his son.
As a tribute to the man who, although himself uneducated, lived fearlessly and overcame caste and class barriers, Jadhav wrote ‘Amcha Baap ani Amhi,’ a book on his father’s life that has been translated into many languages. Once, while Jadhav was at Indiana, his father fell critically ill. He rushed back to see him, only to be reprimanded. “Don’t waste your time in the middle of your studies. Come back when you’ve finished your degree. I won’t die until then.’’
He kept his word. He died three years after his son returned to India as Dr Narendra Jadhav.

-Anahita Mukherjee

The Times Of India, Mumbai
7th July 2008