Wednesday, December 31, 2008

As we ring in another new year ..

2008 has come and gone like a bullet train with only a few hours left which I intend to spend in anticipation of the new year. My alluding to a train is in one way fitting because this is the only year in recent times where I have travelled a lot by train thanks to my location and profession.

My professional life in 2008 has been a reflection of the global financial market. Nothing much to say and on top of that I have been dealing with some really difficult people. I have been through some tough times but then I have also learnt some good lessons which will definitely help me going forward.

I have spent the major half of 2008 outside my country. This has given me a lot of time with my family. I have been able to give a lot of attention to my daughter and play new games with her like the "Magical tooth fairy" game and watch some movies with her. I have also been able to devote lot of time to blogging, poetry and reading books. I intend to continue this in the new year.

I have witnessed some of my colleagues being handled in a shocking manner by some mediocre managers. This has reinforced my belief in
the value for people and relationships. I have been in regular touch with most of my colleagues who worked with me earlier thanks to the social networking forums. I have also been able to establish contact with some of my school and college mates.

2008 has been mostly about connecting with people and building relationships for me. I look forward to continuing this in 2009 and do a lot more.

Quoting from the poem Ulysses once again

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.

Wish you a very happy and prosperous new year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Father Christmas .. Where are you?

It is Christmas time. The holiday season is here and there is sale going on all around. After all Christmas is also a big event for retailers and a big economic stimulus for most parts of the world.

Last year I learnt about "The Bhagavad Gita" thanks to my daughter. This year, I learnt something about Jesus, thanks to the Christmas celebration at her school. My earlier knowledge of Jesus, I must admit, was very limited. At her school, the story of Jesus was presented in a nice way, in the form of a TV news, with a TV crew interviewing characters (thereby presenting the story) and with nine songs interspersed in between, each song starting with one letter in the word "Christmas" and describing one event in the birth of Jesus. It also felt good because my daughter participated in this play. Wikipedia tells me that this is one of the traditional ways of celebrating christmas.

Today I happened to read about Jesus's famous "sermon on the mount" in a book. I will write about that book in detail in a separate post.

I was also introduced to Father Christmas today, courtesy one of the TV episodes my daughter watches. Father Christmas apparently is different from Santa Claus, though the concept is similar. My daughter didn't believe in it fully but she did write a wish list, just in case:-)

Maybe Father Christmas didn't visit our house because we don't have a chimney. I wonder what is his way of getting into houses that don't have a Chimney!Do you know?

Wish you a merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Your future is always in your hands

To lead a life seems to me to be like building sand castles on a beach. The rising waves are the environment around us. Some people also call it fate. The past is full of the sand castles you have built, the present is waves eroding the sand castle you just built. The future is all about what you want to do.

Do you want to make an attempt to build a better sand castle based on your past experiences?

Do you want to sit back thinking about the glorious sand castles you built in the past and do nothing?

Do you want to rue your bad luck and curse the water? or

do you want to try something totally different?

Your future is always in your hands.

Friday, December 19, 2008

ஞானமுண்டு நம்மைச் சுற்றி - A poem

scribbled on the back of the sickness bag on the flight to belfast .. posted on the blog from the bus to belfast city. Don't what's happening to me.

புத்தனுக்கு போதி மரம்
அசோகனுக்கு கலிங்கப் போர்
காந்திக்கு அரிச்சந்திர நாடகம்
நிகழ்வுகள் எல்லாம் செய்திகள்
ஞானமுண்டு நம்மைச் சுற்றி
தேடல் தேவை இல்லை
பார்க்கும் பார்வை வேண்டும்

Roots are what we are

On the bus to stansted airport, inspired by the sunshine and the barren trees all around me. One of those moments when I had a pen and paper near by.

Autumn comes takes the leaves
makes us look so rusty
Winter comes shakes us up
leaves us looking barren
Cometh spring with flowers and leaves
Oh we look so colourful!
Summer comes we bathe in sunshine
end up looking bright
Looks may change with passing seasons
at heart we remain the same
Caring for you smiling at you
we even bring you rain
Leaves and Flowers may come and go
it's roots that hold us through ..

It's roots that hold us through and
roots are what we are!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

I was reminded of the poem on Ulysses today. I had read it almost 20 years back, courtesy the CBSE English book for eleventh or twelvth standard. I remebered Ulysses as an old man, keen to continue his quest for knowledge, leaving behind his kingdom to his son and marching on with his sailors to explore the world. That was the impression left in me when I read the poem 20 years ago.

It was thrilling to read the poem again twenty years later. There were some different interpretations that occurred to me, one of them being Ulysses was singing this from his death bed and about the world that he would explore after death. I am sure you will agree that once in a while it is heartening to reassure oneself that the years gone have not been wasted and have enriched one to some extent!

Ulysses is a long poem but has some lines that stand out and you might heard them being quoted often, including these two snippets which i like in particular:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

You can read the full poem here

Indeed there is no end to the quest for knowledge. I have a feeling however that the quest for knowledge has become simpler in the digital era with loads of information available in the internet. We don't need to travel far and wide on rough seas now.

Imagine finding a poem, lost with passage of time and lying somewhere at the back of your mind, at the click of a button and reliving that moment, all over again that too with different interpretations!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What are you doing right now?

I signed up recently to twitter. I have not started using it to a great extent yet but some of the features look very appealing to me. Twitter seems to be a great example of Publish-Subscribe put to good use in social networking

Some points which appealed to me about Twitter:

1. As a sender you can choose the people to whom you send messages
2. As a receiver you can choose whom you follow and get updates from them
3. And you can stay connected wherever you are. Twitter supports multiple devices - SMS, IM, through the internet

I think Twitter was originally started to help people share short updates on what they were doing to people who mattered to them.

However read these 2 interesting posts from the twitter blog and they will give you an idea of the power of twitter and how people have embraced it.

Twitter helped transform Thanksgiving to Tweetsgiving and raise 10000 dollars in just 48 hours for a good cause

Twitter was used by people to provide Live updates during the Mumbai blasts

You can read it here:

What has been your experience with Twitter or should I say tweeting? You can send me tweets at this userid @parthakannan.
Another nice way to stay connected. Let me know what you are doing!

A creature of the beach

I came across this interesting piece of innovation thanks to JPs blog. If you are walking around on a beach and find strange skeletons made of plastic tubes moving around, don't be scared or surprised.

Theo Jansen has been creating animari's (beach animals) from 1990. Animaris are Skeletons made of Yellow Plastic tube which move around on wind power. It looks like Theo Jansen eventually he wants to put these animaris out in herds on the beaches and leave them to lead their own lives.

You can read about how he has made these animals move around using wind by clicking on the link below. Amazing how he has thought of legs, muscles and stomachs for these animals using only plastic bottles and tubes and wind power.

I have heard of UFO. IS this a new category - UWO?

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Grandfather - A rare friend from a different generation

When I started my blog the first post I wrote was about my mother. Today I feel like writing a post about another relative who impressed me and has left an indelible mark in my life, my maternal Grandfather.

My grandfather was a rare friend from a different generation, a well wisher beyond imagination and the person solely responsible for whatever little decency that prevails in my current English vocabulary.

He was a rare and complete person. Unbelievably well read and well informed, that he was, I found him always fresh in his thoughts, reserved in speech, excellent in humour and unparalleled in love for his family. For his dedication, amazing attitude and abundant capabilities, I would say life had been a bit unfair to him but then he never seemed to show that he thought so and what was special about him was his detached attachment to life.

One of the amazing things about my Grandfather was his mastery over the English language. He simply seemed to know the meaning of every word that I quizzed him with, using my big Oxford dictionary. I have tried several times to outsmart him and failed. I remember him telling me that he was nicknamed as "Mobile dictionary" in his days as a teacher. He was never boisterous about this amazing skill of his. He told me that he had only managed to read a new word every day and that was it. I remember trying this myself for a couple of weeks and giving up. That in itself has helped me come a long way. I can't imagine how good my vocabulary would have been if I had imbibed his commitment to go on for years together!

Reflecting on my earlier post, I can't imagine me reading and enjoying books like those of Wodehouse and commenting thus but for him. He was the one who introduced me to people like Somerset Maugham and taught me how to spell his last name. He thought me some rare words early in life, which I might have never come across otherwise. I am what I am today to a large extent because of his well wishes and blessings which he seemed to have in an unbelievable abundance.

I didn't have a look at the moon today because I had a strange feeling that it would be one of those rare days when it would be incomplete and appear more like a monstrous tear drop. If I had looked at the moon today, it would have shown the face of my maternal Grandfather. He would have been 84 years today.

Lost in Books - Just back from Blandings!

I am back to the habit of reading books. Not just one or two, I have been doing that regularly for years. I am now reading book after book, sometimes several books in parallel! I owe this to eclectic collection of books in English county libraries apart from the fact that I have managed to find a lot of time at my disposal for this reinvented pastime.

I am just back from a visit to the Blandings castle. If you have read P.G.Wodehouse you might not find this odd but otherwise you will be a bit surprised to know that I have been rolling with laughter while reading the book, bursting suddenly into loud laughter, that too quite frequently only to find surprised faces staring at me doubting my sanity.

One of the interesting aspects of the Wodehouse way of narrating stories is the detail that goes into describing the different characters and their actions. The author simply paints carciatures in the mind of the reader with his words. "Full moon" is a typical P.G.Wodehouse book and it has its full share of love affairs, helpful uncles and cousins, unapproving aunts, absent minded earls, pigs and imposters, all linked by a simple but interesting plot that unfolds slowly and steadily and keeps the reader engaged, not to mention the inimitable style and the never ending humour. I am not sure if I am quipped with enough armoury of words to fully describe someone like wodehouse. So I will stop by saying that if you have not read P.G.Wodehouse yet, it is high time you grab a book. I would recommend a Blandings one or a book in the Jeeves series to start with. Once you start, I am sure you will never stop till you have finished the entire series.

I am tempted to give some sample snippets but am resisting it because they might not be as appealing given seperately, as read in proper context. So, go on, grab a book and dive in and let me know how interesting your visit to Blandings was.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Doors - Closed and open

For quite sometime now I have woken up with this strange feeling of having walked out of a door which on hindsight had the name of my current workplace written in bold on it! I also feel that I have continued walking and walking since then but haven't come across a new door yet.

Is it that I have continued to look at the closed door till now which has prevented me from seeing a new door open? I am not sure but I have definitely not looked out keenly for new doors. Maybe it is high time I did!

On Leadership or the lack of it rather

Leadership has always been one of my favourite topics. I have read lots of books on leadership and even written some posts earlier on what Dr.Kalam had to say on leadership, about the way Obama emerged from nowhere and inspired a nation with his speeches on change.

I was prompted to write a post on leadership today because I realised that there is a total lack of leadership around me. Today I noticed a strange coincidence between the current state of India, after the recent terror attacks and that of the organisation I work for.

There is a dearth of good leaders and in particular, there is a total lack of ownership, when there is a crisis, in both these cases. In my organisation there are several managers at various levels who are self centred and primarily focussed on pleasing their bosses. These managers seem to me to be like the terrorists who tried to blow up the Taj and are rocking the foundations of the organisation.

In both these cases, I feel it is high time a leader emerged to bring about a radical change. They say leaders are made not born and there can be no better situation than the current for someone to emerge. India had an array of great leaders emerging throughout the freedom struggle. After 61 years of Independence we are back to square one and I am confident that there will be a change. A change which will definitely be for the better.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dealing with difficult People

I came across a book called " Dealing with difficult People" by Roy Lilley in the county library. I have been dealing with a handful of difficult people in my work life in recent times, so no wonder I picked it up.

I finished reading the book yesterday. It didn't tell me something totally different from what I knew in terms of approaching such people but I liked one thing in particular about the book.

This book gives a positive outlook to dealing with difficult people by saying that they are predictable. Don't know about you but this is something which had not struck me earlier.

Quoting from the book itself

" Remember this: Difficult people are preditable people.

That simple fact makes your life much easier.They are difficult not only to you. They are into themselves and are difficult to everyone. Predictable is easy. You can prepare for difficult people, you can plan for them, you can plot, scheme and collude against them. They are stuck in their ways. All you have to do is manoeuvre."

Apart from this the only aspect I found interesting is that it attempted to classify difficult people into seven types:

1.Hostile, aggressive
3.Silent, Unresponsive
4.Super agreeable
6.Know all

A comprehensive list which tempts me to call a few more people than I originally thought of as difficult!

Reminded of some familiar faces after reading this? You can atleast now be reassured that they are predictable and can be dealt with if you identify their behaviour and plan accordingly.

Remember they are stuck, you only have to manoeuvre!

Monday, December 1, 2008

What is the value of 500 rupees for you?

I came across this video. Thanks to Suraj.

500 rupees cannot help do anything worthwhile for some, can be spent on Party and drinks for most, reminds few people of unseen movies, is the cost of a haircut for one person ...

whereas for some others it means so much! A poor boy says it will help him pay school fees and buy books and another one says he will have the meal of his life time in a big hotel.

What would you do, if someone gave you 500 rupees free? Think about it!

Isn't it surpirising that not even one person in this video said he would donate it to charity?

Monday, November 24, 2008

A movie review - Vaaranam Aayiram

I happened to see the much hyped Tamil movie “Vaaranam Aayiram” yesterday. Don’t know what public opinion is and how the movie is faring in theatres but I was totally disappointed with the movie.

The first mistake Gautam Menon did was the title. “Vaaranam Aayiram” is the beginning line, of a famous Tamil poem by the renowned Tamil poet Andaal which beautifully illustrates the arrangements for her marriage with Lord Vishnu. "Vaaranam Aayiram" means a thousand elephants. Imagine Lord Vishnu walking in a marriage procession with thousand elephants! And you don’t even get to see Surya walking as his normal self in this movie. The title sets a huge expectation but is not backed up by a good story.

“Vaaranam Aayiram” is a haphazard collection of events. A more suitable name would have been “Nigazhvugal Aaayiram” (1000 incidents) because there are too many incidents to digest. Don’t know if I sound extremely critical, but the title that comes to my mind is “ Oru Udhavakkarai Payyanum Urupidaatha Appanum” (The story of a wastrel son and his useless father).

There is no depth in the father son relationship. The son seems to do whatever he wants and attribute it finally to his father. There is not even one scene that appealed to me though there were so many incidents. A 60’s romance, Drug addiction episode, Kidnap rescue, A 21st century romance (totally illogical) but none of them stand out. The movie looks very amateurish for an established director like Gautam Menon.

In short this is the worst movie that I have seen in recent times and one of the very few movies which I have stopped viewing in between.

A Nostalgic Weekend

I went through a nice romantic and nostalgic weekend. We just completed ten years of married life. That is what started all this. I went back 10 years down memory lane and recapped all the lovely moments over 10 years. I also reminded myself of all those nice Songs which appealed to me in those moments. I have added at least 15 videos to my Orkut profile and there are a lot of songs still left.

I have read in one of Stephen Covey’s books that every relationship should be associated with an emotional account something like a savings account. When you do some good things you get a credit and when you do something bad you get a debit. At the end of the day you need to have a positive balance to keep your relationship going.

My exercise with recapping songs has made me feel 10 years younger. I somehow feel like Marlon Brando feels in the movie “Don Juan De Marco” after meeting Johnny Depp, who thinks he is Don Juan de marco, the greatest lover in the world. The only difference is I have just met myself as I was ten years ago! Just in case you have not seen the movie Brando plays the role of a Psychiatrist who has the task of curing Johnny depp by the psychiatric sessions have an impact on Brando and rekindle romance in his otherwise mundane life.

While Ten years is a landmark to celebrate and be happy about, I feel it is time to unwind and start from scratch. It is time to start working on adding credits to the emotional account.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Second Life

I was introduced to a Second life by my good friend A.G.B. Now don’t let your imagination run wild. It is not a new habit or a real new world that A.G.B has introduced me to.

Second life is a website.

You need to register yourself and download an application and Voila, you are all set to explore a new world.

This new world is a 3D virtual world where you can just let your imagination run wild and create things, things that you wanted to but could not do easily in real life! You can choose your own avatar, build houses, conduct events, meet people, build relationships and so on and on an on. The possibilities seem to be endless. In fact you can even convert your real money into virtual money for this world through some websites and conduct business here. You can fix a price for your creations and make other people pay when they use it. Well there is no escaping from money even in a virtual world!

If you have watched the Tamil movie Anniyan, it might sound to you like th website Anniyan.Com shown in the movie. Well there are similarities, the purpose of this virtual world is to satisfy people’s alter ego in one way. Ambis can definitely become Remos in this virtual world and roam around as Romeos. However I don’t know what kind of an experience it will be to fall and love in a virtual world! Also don’t know if Ambis can become Anniyans and go around killing people. (For the benfit of those who don't know Anniyan or find the names Ambi, Remo and Anniyan strange, Anniyan is a Tamil movie on split personality. Ambi is the soft hero who sometimes becomes Remo a modern romantic guy to impress his lover and becomes Anniyan at times and goes around killing all the bad people he meets as Ambi)

One of the good things about second life that I liked is that you can fly. Yes “You can fly, You can fly, You can fly” as in Peter Pan’s Neverland but without pixie dust. Even before going into the experiences, it really feels different when you have to choose a name for your avatar. Yes, you cannot retain your real life name in second life.

The concept behind Second life is interesting. Imagine you had the opportunity to have a real second life. Where would you start? What all would you do? Would you approach life the same way or would you try and correct your mistakes? Second life helps you have a preview of this.

I didn’t have enough patience to explore this world. May be one of you has and will come back with some more stories and things that can be done which I have missed out.

If this post prompted you to try out Second life, do let me know your experiences with Second life and more importantly don’t forget to thank my good friend AGB.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dr.Kalam's favourite poem

Following up on my ealrier post, I also came across this poem by Dr.Kalam. Titled "Vision", this is supposedly Dr.Kalam's favourite poem out of the ones written by Dr.Kalam himself. I remember hearing him recite this in the wharton interview which I shared in an earlier post but got hold of the lyrics only today. Dr.Kalam apparently narrated this poem in Parliament.

I climbed and climbed
where is the peak, my Lord?
I ploughed and ploughed,
Where is the knowledge treasure, my Lord?
I sailed and sailed,
Where is the island of peace my Lord?
Almighty, bless my nation
With vision and sweat resulting into happiness

A dose of good Music and Poetry

I was feeling very low today. Not really sure why as it had nothing to do with what happened today. I didn't have such a bad day after all.

I had no option but to go back to the magical voice of M.S.Subbulakshmi, particularly the song "Kurai ondrum illai". Thanks to M.S's divine voice and the involvement with which she sings this particular song written by Rajaji, I was brought back to normalcy.

You can listen to the song here. It is actually a video which gives you the additional opportunity to glimpse the heavenly face as well.

Kurai Ondrum Illai

Inspired by the song and its wonderful lyrics, I suddenly felt like reading Bharathiyar's poems but was not sure if I could get hold of one sitting in a foreign land. I started a search on google and was happy to find this site which has all of bharathiyar's works in Tamil.

Particularly liked this one which I had read before but had lost track of over the years. Maybe I will translate it someday in english for people who can't read this and understand. To me it seems like Bharathiyar was in a similar state of mine when he wrote this, though his outlook was more global. He must have been frustrated with the state of his nation and her people.

In essence in this poem Bharathiyar shares his frustration that inspite of knowing very well that conquering oneself is the key for success and knowing that this has been endorsed by all the scriptures, books and the wise men over the years, the people of his nation don't seem to be taking any step towards it and continue to be down trodden.

ஆத்ம ஜெயம்

கண்ணில் தெரியும் பொருளினைக் கைகள்
கவர்ந்திட மாட்டாவோ?-அட
மண்ணில் தெரியுது வானம்,அதுநம்
வசப்பட லாகாதோ?
எண்ணி யெண்ணிப்பல நாளு முயன்றிங்
கிறுதியிற் சோர்வோமோ?-அட,
விண்ணிலும் மண்ணிலும் கண்ணிலும் எண்ணிலும்
மேவு ப்ராசக்தியே!

என்ன வரங்கள்,பெருமைகள்,வெற்றிகள்,
எத்தனை மேன்மைகளோ!
தன்னை வென்றாலவை யாவும் பெறுவது
சத்திய மாகுமென்றே
முன்னை முனிவர் உரைத்த மறைப் பொருள்
முற்றுமுணர்ந்த பின்னும்
தன்னை வென்றாளும் திறமை பெறாதிங்கு
தாழ்வுற்று நிற்போமோ?

Thanks to the internet, I got a dose of music and poetry to pep me up. Just what the Doctor ordered!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Advertising through a Dabbawala

I came across this interesting piece of news on dabbawalas in mumbai. The news item claimed that Dabbawalas in Mumbai have started including pamphlets containing ads along with the lunch boxes they deliver.

I did a subsequent search on dabbawalas in wikipedia and google. I was reassured of the power of google and wikipedia. I wonder what will happen to me if I don't have wikipedia and google and at my service.

Google returned the information that dabbawalas have a website of their own. Here is the link

The site has this introduction which summarises it all

5000 Dabbawalas 200,000 Dabbas Six Sigma certified ISO 2000 certified

From the site it looks like advertising and dabbawalas have been going hand in hand for atleast a year. I came to know of this through NDTV only today.

It is not at all surprising that someone thought of using these dabbawalas for advertising. They have such a big network! Afterall even in this digital page connecting to people personally does matter.

A Tamil Poem - மறக்க முடியாத அந்த கடைசிப் பயணம்

A poem I wrote today.

புத்துணர்ச்சியுடன் புறப்பட்டேன்
உன்னுடன் பயணிக்க ..
நீண்டதொரு இடைவெளிக்குப் பின்
பூங்காற்று திரும்பியது
ஆனால் நான் எப்படி உன்னுடன்?
அந்தக் கடைசிப் பயணம்?

மறக்க முடியாத அந்த கடைசிப் பயணம்
பரபரப்பான மாலை நேரம்
சிக்கி நின்ற போக்குவரத்து
அமரர் ஊர்தியின் நிற்காத
ஹாரன் சத்தம்
மூடாத பின் புறம் வழி
முளைத்த பல முகங்கள்
மூங்கில் படுக்கையில் நீ
அருகில் நானும் தீச்சட்டியும்
உன் முகத்தில் தான் எத்தனை அமைதி?

மறக்க முடியாத அந்த கடைசி பயணம் ..

எத்தனை பிறவிகள் எடுத்தாலும்
திரும்பாது உன் தெய்வீக முகம்
கடைசி முறை பார்த்து
தீயிலிட்டு அன்று திரும்பினேன்

நான் எப்படி இன்று உன்னுடன்
மறுபடி புறப்பட்டேன்?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Tricolour on the moon

Following up on my earlier post on the moon, today is another landmark day in Indian history. The Chandrayaan launched a lunar probe that planted the Tricolour on the moon today.

This I believe was Dr.Kalam's idea. A great idea! India is only the fourth nation to do this. I also liked Dr.Kalam's message congratulating the ISRO team. This is the message I heard him say on NDTV "On children's day you have made the children of India dream of walking on the moon, walking on mars. I am sure in 15 years Indian scientists will make that possible"

I told in my earlier post that I see patterns and faces on the moon and today we officially have the tricolour on the moon!

Talking about Dr.Kalam , I am reminded of another great Indian who was also supposed to be close to children. Today is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's Birthday. I was not able to see the moon today but if I had seen it, maybe it would have shown the face of one of the greatest Indians, sitting in peace and at his creative best as he was in Ahmednagar fort prison in 1942.

A different Birthday wish

I saw this slightly different B'day wish in the daily mirror for Prince Charles on his turning 60 today

"Happy 60th birthday Prince Charles but long live the Queen"

You can read the article here

Apparently "The mirror" conducted an opinion poll on the future of the English Monarchy with 4200 people and 89% of them wanted the Queen to continue and felt that Charles should wait to become King.

An interesting Birthday wish well summed up in one line by the mirror!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

India's date with the moon

Chandrayaan has gone into lunar orbit today. A landmark in Indian history as India joins the exclusive club of only six moon farers in the world.

The moon plays a great part in everyone’s life. The attempts made to land on the moon and the different lunar missions over the years prove the fascination man has had for the moon. I am no different and I simply love the moon.

Enough has been said about the moon by poets and authors all over the world. I don’t know if I have anything different to say but I just wanted to write this post on the moon, thanks to the Chandrayaan and the team of ISRO scientists who launched it.

The moon has been a great source of inspiration for me and the relationship is longstanding right from the days my mom used to show me the moon to the recent days when I have shown it to my daughter. I always think of the moon when I am low on confidence thanks to some internal politics which has become a permanent factor in organisations these days. I like the moon’s attitude; it carries on just the same though it is masked by the sun for half the day. It vanishes completely and then rises from scratch to a full moon. The moon carries on pretty much the same, though how people see it differs thanks to some external factors like the sun. The moon goes to prove that everyone can get their turn and share of limelight just by being themselves. External things like internal politics are only short term and can’t mask someone for ever.

Sometimes I think of the sun as the hare and moon as the tortoise. Don’t you agree that the sun wastes all its energy trying to defeat the moon but ends up losing and moon surfaces finally as the winner! Have you ever heard of the sun inspiring poetry?
The sun reminds you of work, your duties. The moon lets you relax and unwind!

There is one other thing about the moon which makes it very close to me. I sometimes see some patterns that resemble some familiar faces. Thos familiar faces of so many people I have been associated with in life, through books, through their music, through poetry. Sometimes it is my mom, sometimes it is the Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi and at times I see Jawaharlal Nehru smiling at me. Whatever be the face it has always been interesting to decipher. The moon not only reflects the sun's light, it seems to reflect my feelings as well.

The moon will always be a special part of my life. What is your experience with the moon?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On Quotations and Contexts

Oscar Wilde had to say this about the passion for quotations

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

Well this is one of my favourite quotations!

I send out a quote every morning to a considerably big list of people in my address book. It is not that I borrow these words and try to mimic people it is just that I feel it is a good way to start a day. I think I just imbibed this habit from my earlier bosses. Sometimes I wonder if I am shooting these quotes just like the sun not knowing if people really find it relevant but once in a while I stop sending these quotes and someone comes back to me asking to start again. That keeps me going.

I came across a few interesting quotations from Sports people, thanks to the Blogosphere.

“Everyone has a plan until they're punched in the mouth” from Mike Tyson

Some really good ones then by Yogi Berra thanks to JPs blog

Wikipedia claims that Yogi Berra has a tendency towards malapropism (a new word for me) and fracturing the English language in highly provocative, interesting ways.

Am giving some of the good ones below. You can get the complete list from Wikipedia or Wikiquote

"Nobody goes there no more, it's too crowded!" - This was his response when asked why he no longer went to a popular St. Louis restaurant.

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
This was said when giving directions to his New Jersey home, which was equally accessible via two different routes.

"It ain't over till it's over."
This was when his team 1973 Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9½ games in the National League East; the Mets eventually rallied to win the division title on the next-to-last day of the season.

Leave alone the context where these were said and just look at the quotes. Isn’t it amazing how people pass a remark which is business as usual for them but the remark has relevance in a wider context and can be interpreted in different ways?

No trick Only treat for Obama

It is all treat for Obama a week after Hallowen. I hail America and all Americans for the recent presidential election results.

What impressed me was that people have given priority to current issues and have also gone for a younger person over someone with huge experience.

The media says Barrack Obama has made history. I think it is the American citizens as a whole who have made history by giving preference for the above two points over something trivial as the Colour of the skin.

I have listened to Martin Luther King Jr's powerful "I have a dream speech" fully and he makes the following remark in that speech.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

It is arguable whether King's dream has fully come true given that Obama is African American but I think it is great to see it atleast partially come true. This must have definitely made Martin Luther King stir in his grave. This is a defining moment and borrowing words from King himself, this is not an end but a beginning.

At this moment when the world is showering praise on America for a bold decision, I wonder how good it will be if we get some fresh faces in the Indian political scene as well. Does destiny have this in store for mother India in the near future? Isn't it upto the people to shape a country's destiny?

An Incomplete Poem

An incomplete poem written in July 2005. Have never been able to complete this ever since.

இதற்குத்தான் பெற்றாயோ என் அன்னையே ..

உயிரெல்லாம் உறைந்து போகும் ஓர் நொடியில்

மலர் போன்ற உன் முகமும் மறைந்து போக

விட்டன என் கைகள் எரியும் நெருப்பை

இதற்குத்தான் பெற்றாயோ என் அன்னையே ..

The end of Windows 3.X

I read this news on bbc website today

I don't know if you have used windows 3.x. I have used it for a year in 1999 when I was in the US. I used to do production support from home for a legacy system.

I remember waiting patiently for 10-15 minutes several minutes to even get connected to the client network when I had a priority issue that had to be solved in 1 hour. Those were the days when netscape was popular as a browser and we were still using MS DOS. Windows 3.X was very primitive though it did throw out some better OS in those days like IBMs OS/2 , APPLE MAC just because of the GUI. It is supposedly microsoft's first GUI based OS that was a great success but believe me we have come a long way .. It was however good to read this article and to come to know that windows 3.X was used as an embedded system for powering in-flight entertainment on aircrafts. Didn't know that earlier.

Though this article made me conscious of the increasing grey hair on my head, it did remind me of some good old days. Long long ago .. So long ago .. when I was a developer.

Bradley effect

I Came across something called the Bradley effect on the news channel thanks to the world attention on American presidential election.

This is what Wikipedia has to say on Bradley effect

I think it is not only about black candidates. This theory has a wider context which is that in general people prefer to say what is more acceptable and fashionable rather than what they actually feel when it comes to opinion polls.

I have always felt that opinion polls are more a creation of the media to build a hype rather than something useful. I think this theory makes sense and there are enough examples that stand testament to that.

Will the Bradley effect influence the current polls and prove the opinion polls wrong? We will have to wait for a few hours to see ..

Unlike Poles?

This is more of a followup to my previous post. I was just looking up James Carville on Wikipedia. There was this small section at the end on his personal life.

James Carville who is a Political consultant for the Democratic party and was managing Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign against George Bush is now married to Mary Matalin who is known for her association with Republican Party and worked for George Bush on the 1992 campaign. They got married in 1993.

Sounds like a real life version of "You've Got mail". It is known that "Unlike Poles attract each other" but in this case I am not sure whether to call these two like poles or unlike poles or "like unlike" poles.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama vs Mccain!

The whole world is waiting for the results of the American presidential elections. The Press has gone all out to create a big hype that this is a historic election. This election is supposed to be historic no matter who wins and the media has collected lot of firsts .. The first African American president or the oldest president in first term or the first women Vice president and the list continues.. Obama or Mccain?

I am glad to say that I don't have any political leaning be it the US or India. This post has nothing to do with the elections, it is only about election sentiments!

You might have heard about the sentiment that Barrack Obama has. It seems he plays basket ball on the day of election. Apparently he has done so in the past and won and he didn't do a few times and lost. I heard on the news that he is going to find time to play basket ball today amidst his busy schedule.

Here is an article on the superstitions associated with some of the people who are part of the campaign.

The one that stands out is this:

"Barack Obama’s Ohio campaign manager Aaron Pickrell has neither shaved his face in a month nor has he shown up to the office without his Columbus Clippers baseball hat. Apparently he associated Obama’s uptick in the Ohio polls in late September with his personal hygiene and wardrobe choices at that time, so he kept the look."

As if that is not enough this article quotes another extreme case of compromise of personal hygiene for electoral sentiments which Aaron Pickrell has not been able to match.

Apparently James Carville, campaign manager for Bill Clinton in 1992 took a decision not to change his underwear for an extended period of time when things were going well for Bill Clinton.

Superstitions and Sentiments! Are we in the 21st Century?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nasa's Zero gravity pen

Came across this interesting piece of information today.

"When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered the ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and Million dollars to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300C.

Russians were faced with the same problem and they used a pencil."

Did a subsequent search and found the following article which claims
that the pen was developed by Paul Fisher and not by NASA.

Irresepective of who spent the money I think this is a good example to illustrate that the Costliest solution is not necessarily the best!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An attempt at Haiku

Haiku is a Japanese form of Poetry mainly used to describe nature, the uniqueness being its limited syllables.

I remember having a discussion on Haiku with the threesome of my sister, my mom and my wife on a lovely night on the terrace, several years back. We even tried some sample ones, the theme being clouds. I don't remeber the ones I said that day but for some reason I was reminded of Haiku again yesterday and I tried some out again on the same theme.

காலையில் நிலவோடு ஊடல்
மாலையில் வானத்தின் வெள்ளைக் கொடி

வானத்தின் அடங்காத காதல் பித்து
கிழிக்கப்பட்ட தலையனைகள்

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Mahatma's lighter side

I watched an interesting documentary on the Mahatma in Youtube. It was in 5 parts. Here is the link for one of them

Some interesting things I learnt about Gandhi mostly his lighter side thanks to this documentary.

It seems Gandhi’s highest ambition when he first came to London to study law was to become an English gentleman. It seems he sported a top hat and silver tipped cane and even took lessons in dancing, violin and French in an attempt to become one.

In 1930 Gandhi was arrested for the famous Salt march and then released subsequently by the Viceroy Lord Erwin due to international pressure. The Viceroy offered Gandhi a chance to negotiate and Gandhi went from prison straight to the viceroy’s house. He was offered warm water as per his request. It seems Gandhi took out a packet from his loin cloth. The viceroy was curious and asked him what it was and Gandhi said in a hushed voice, “Your majesty, don’t tell anybody. This is the salt I made illegally” and added that to the water and drank it in front of the Viceroy.

Gandhi travelled to London in 1931. Apparently he travelled 3rd class and in London stayed with the poor in East London.

Gandhi was invited to the palace for Royal tea and was criticised for appearing before the king in a loin cloth. Gandhi’s response to the criticism was “The King was wearing enough for both of us”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or treat?

Halloween is just around the corner and my daughter is suddenly showing a lot of interest in Halloween. She is looking forward to going for “Trick or treat” with her friends tomorrow. I took her yesterday to the town centre and got her a beautiful (!) witch costume.

I did some research on Halloween to see why it is being celebrated and to tell my daughter some stories about Halloween. Here is what I found out.

Halloween is celebrated on October 31st which is the eve of All Saints day celebrated on Nov 1st. For some reason Halloween was thought to be the night when ghosts, spirits and witches are very active. It seems in those days people used to disguise themselves by wearing masks so that ghosts would not recognise them. This is also in one way supposed to be a celebration marking the end of the harvest season.

Halloween seems to have originated from Scottish and Irish people and then spread to parts of Europe and US. While Halloween seems to have originally been a function related to superstitions and religious beliefs, over the years I think the stress has shifted more on having fun. From what I could gather, today Halloween is a modern day holiday and seems to be more about costume parties, “trick or treat” for children and an event for the elders to get together.

By the way "Trick-or-treat", is an event for children during Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, "Trick or treat?" The "trick" part of "trick or treat" is a threat to play a trick on the home owners or their property if no treat is given.

One interesting thing I read is that during Halloween people carve pumpkins and paint scary faces on them to keep the evil spirits away. This is a practice which is followed in India as well though we do it throughout the year and not only on Oct 31st. Isn't is a small world?!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A typical Software Project manager

An imagination .. A typical Software Project manager singing about himself in Aalavandhaan style like Kadavul paathi mirugam paathi as imagined by a team member ..

Politics பாதி .. படுத்தல் மீதி
கலந்து செய்த கலவை நான்
இம்சை கொஞ்சம் .. Insecure கொஞ்சம்
புரிந்து கொள்வது கடினம் தான்

கையில் விழுந்து காலில் விழுந்து client ஐ கவர பார்க்கின்றேன்
ஆனால் issue மீது issue வந்து கலங்கி கதற வைக்கிறதே!
Rating குறைத்து வயிற்றில் அடித்து மிரட்டி பார்த்தும் பயனில்லை
கூஜா தூக்கி ஜால்ரா அடித்து காலில் விழுந்தும் பயனில்லை
அருமை client e அருமை client e நாளை project தருவாயா?
Budget குறைத்து வயிற்றில் அடித்து இருக்கும் revenue பரிப்பாயா?

Dr.Kalam on Leadership

I am a great fan of Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam. A man who rose from a humble background to become the missile man of India and then subsequently the President of India. In his tenure as president he opened the gates of Rashtrapathi Bhavan to the public and made it “People’s bhavan”. The only president who tried to connect with people especially the younger generation. In my opinion his strong character came out when he sent back the Office of Profit Bill to the Parliament for reconsideration. He was a different president and was not willing to be just a puppet in the hands of the government.

I came across this video in you tube.

This is an interesting interview with Dr.Kalam. In this video he talks about several things but what stands out are his thoughts on leadership and the narration of his experience with Satish Dhawan in the context of a leader taking responsibility for failure.

Dr.Kalam talks about six traits a leader should possess. They are:

Have a vision
Have the ability to take the unexplored Path
Know how to manage success and more importantly failures
Have Courage to take decisions
Have nobility in management – Transparency in every action
Be in continuous touch with people

For those of you who don’t have the patience to watch a 22 minute video, here is the personal experience that Dr.Kalam narrates in the interview.

This happened when Dr.Kalam was the Mission director for Rohini satellite launch and Dr.Dhawan was the Chairman of ISRO. Rohini Phase 1a was launched in August 1979 and was a big failure. It seems Dr.Dhawan took the press conference in Sriharikota after the launch and took complete responsibility for the failure and said that Kalam’s team was short of technological support which he would provide and that he was confident that his team would come out good in the next attempt.

Rohini 1B was launched subsequently next year in July and was a success. Dr.Dhawan apparently asked Dr.Kalam himself to take the press conference. What an example of leadership? It is very hard to find such great leaders who take the blame when there is a failure and give the credit to their team members when there is success.


I mentioned in one of earlier blogs that my daughter is showing some interest in poetry. She gave me a challenge recently to write a song about cinderella in one of her favourite tunes. I chose the song "Sahana Saral thoovutho" from the tamil movie Sivaji .. Here is how my song goes. My daughter liked it very much and was extremely happy. So this definitely helped me score some points. :-)

Cinderella dreams வந்ததோ
இன்றெல்லாம் நிஜம் ஆனதோ
ஒரு Pumpkin coach ஆனதோ அடடா ..
நாலு எலிகள் குதிரைகள் ஆனதோ
உன்னை palace கொண்டு போனதோ
கனவோ.. நிஜமோ .. Fairy godmother மந்திரமோ..
ஓராயிரம் ஆண்டுகள் சேமித்த காதல் இது ..
உன் Step mother தாண்டியும் சேர்ந்தே வாழும் இது ..

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Strange coincidence

There is a famous Shakespeare quote on greatness which goes like "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." There are many things in life which end up in some places where they were not originally intended to be just by chance ..

I read this interesting article in Wikisource about our national anthem in light of the above. This is apparently a response from Jawaharlal Nehru for a question on the national anthem in Parliament.

I have seen articles else where that our national anthem was actually sung by Tagore in praise of King George V. The counter argument goes that Tagore referred to God, though it seems more appropriate for a King. The above reply from Nehru tells us why Jana gana mana ended up as our national anthem.

Following is the translation of our national anthem in english.

O! Dispenser of India's destiny, thou art the ruler of the minds of all people Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, the Maratha country,in the Dravida country, Utkala and Bengal; It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,it mingles in the rhapsodies of the pure waters of Yamuna and the Ganges. They chant only thy name.They seek only thy auspicious blessings. They sing only the glory of thy victory. The salvation of all people waits in thy hands, O! Dispenser of India's destiny, thou art the ruler of the minds of all peopleVictory to thee, Victory to thee, Victory to thee,Victory, Victory, Victory, Victory to thee!

Isn't it a bit strange that the song which has become a part and parcel of our lives and one that has been asociated with India by people all over the world ended up there only by some coincidence!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some musings on Life

I was chatting with one of my friends who for some strange reason has "Strange are the ways of life" appended to his id. In a rare moment of inspiration based on this I shared some thoughts on life. This is what I said to him.

"Life is a sly criminal that can make you cry and at the same time have the audacity to laugh at you. It stops laughing only when you learn to laugh back at it."

This came in a flow, don't really know why! Not that I am in a bad situation crying

I was in a circus last week with my daughter. There was an event with horses running around performing tricks. I didn't see the horses but only saw some familiar faces from my workplace running around and a few familiar faces again from my workplace as the ring master. I am sure you will agree that most of the typical managers are ring masters who tame their people and make them run around according to their whims and fancies. When someone is different and he doesn't fall in line he is whipped.

In one way even life is a ring master. It conditions you and makes you run around ..

What is your opinion about life?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Aftermath of Sudoku - Better be odd

As I said in my earlier post, I have numbers dazzling around in my head courtesy my new addiction to Sudoku. I just found something odd about numbers in nature or maybe I should say something about odd numbers and nature!

When you talk about a group of things that have come naturally they are always odd numbers. Be it the Seven hills of Tirupathi or the Triveni Sangamam at Allahabad or the confluence of three oceans at Kanyakumari. I have a limited knowledge of geography but I am sure there must be more such instances but I have never heard of even numbers in such cases.

The fantasy for odd numbers is not restricted to nature and is evident when it comes to man made things as well. Be it the Seven wonders or Seven sisters, or in stories “Seven dwarfs” in the Snow white story or the Three muskiteers. If you have read Enid Blyton you must be familiar with The famous Five and Secret seven.

I wanted to mention of the Trinity of Hinduism as well here but I was not sure if I should call it natural or man made.

What is the reason for this fantasy for odd numbers? If they are so popular and commonly used then why are they called odd? Are they popular because once they were branded odd? Is there a hidden message here that you have to be odd to become popular?

What do you think?

The magic of Sudoku

I have been resisting the temptation of Sudoku for a couple of years now. I finally gave in last week. I saw a book on sale for a few pence and it remained so for a few weeks. So I finally decided to see what Sudoku has to offer.

Believe me I have numbers dazzling around in my head as my write. I have solved several Sudoku puzzles over the week and I am qualified to call myself a Sudoku addict now. What appeals to me is the simplicity of the game and its straightforward rules. It is all about permutations and combinations and doesn’t need any mathematical genius. Above all I get it free on the London paper and it is a great companion for the one hour train journey which I do very often!

Contrary to what I thought, the book I bought claims that Sudoku originated in the US and it became a big hit in Japan subsequently. I have read else where that Sudoku originated in Japan because of the limitations of the Japanese language when it comes to crossword puzzles.

What is your experience with Sudoku?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Festival of lights is here again

The festival of lights is here again. Diwali ..

Is it the celebration of the victory of good over evil, Krishna killing Narakasura, as the story goes in the south? Or is it the celebration of return of the good, Rama coming back to his Kingdom after exile, as the story goes in the North?

Whatever it is, Diwali to me brings back fond memories of my mom. I must admit that the festival of colours has lost some colour as far as I am concerned for the last 4 years without her.

The love and affection in my mom’s eyes as she applied oil on my head in preparation for an oil bath .. The happiness with which she prepared all the sweets and delicacies I liked .. Those lovely moments when she handed me a sweet or asked me to burst crackers.. The glow and appreciation in her face when she saw me in a new dress .. That was Diwali for me for many years and is still fresh in my memory.

Today Diwali makes me look forward to only the trip with my daughter to the cracker shop and bursting the crackers thereafter. It is a pleasure to watch her eyes gleam when I buy her all the crackers that she wants. I think I will miss it this time being away from India.

What does Diwali mean to you?

Wish you a very happy and prosperous Diwali.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Al Pacino - Scent of a woman

I have been watching a lot of Al Pacino movies of late. Have downloaded a few more which I need to watch. Have also seen a lot of ads on " Righteous Kill" starring Al Pacino and De Niro which has hit cinemas recently. Of the ones I have seen so far, I was particularly impressed with "Scent of a Woman". It is a total contrast from the usual Al Pacino movies and Al Pacino has done an excellent portrayal of a blind colonel. Fittingly he has received the Oscar Best actor award for this.

I have been fortunate to see two other good portrayals of a blind man on screen. Naseeruddin Shah in Sparsh (Hindi) and Kamal Hassan in Raaja Paarvai (Tamil). Somehow I see a lot of similarities in mannerism between the 3 of them. Sparsh was released in 1980, Rajapaarvai in 1981 and Scent of a woman in 1992. Kamal must have definitely seen Sparsh and Shah must have influenced him but what about Pacino?

Whatever it is , all three are great movies and a must watch. If you have not seen Scent of a woman do it right away.

My daughter's first Poem

Logging into Blogger after a long time. My daughter has started playing around with words. I was impressed with this particular one which is her first poem :-)

Hi.. Bye..
Where can I fly?
Can I fly in the water?
Where Should I fly? Or
Why should I fly?
So many questions to answer!
When I fly What if I cry?
Maybe I should be a dancer..

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thanimayil Amarnthen - A Poem

I think this is the most recent one I wrote. Written in Oct 2006 :-)

தனிமையில் அமர்ந்தேன்
வாழ்க்கையை மதிப்பிட்டேன்
நினைவுகள்.. நிகழ்வுகள்..
அனுபவங்கள்.. கனவுகள்.. (என் முன்)
தோன்றின . . மறைந்தன . .

கடந்த காலம் வீணான
உயிர் மூச்சாய்த் தோன்றிட
தோன்றியது வருங்காலம்
வீணாகும் உயிர் மூச்சாய்

அழகான ஓர் அமைதி
மனம் எங்கும் பரவ
கடந்ததும் இனி வருவதும்
வாழ்வும் அதன் முடிவும் (நின்றன)
சமமாய் என் முன்னே

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Innamum Irukkiren - Poem 2

Number two .. Again concept taken from my uncle's poem and modified in Mar 1997 to see if I could write :-)

இன்னமும் இருக்கிறேன்
நண்பர்க்குப் பகை ஆனாலும்
நம்பிக்கை தீர்ந்து போனாலும்
முடிவகளுக்கு அன்னியமானாலும்
கனவுகளில் தோற்றம் இழந்தாலும்
முகத்தில் கருமை படர்ந்தாலும்
கண்களில் ஒளி குறைந்தாலும்
இன்னமும் இருக்கிறேன்
சில முகங்களின் சிரிப்பில்
இனிமையான உன் நினைப்பில்
நீல வானின் நட்சத்திரம்
என்றாவது என் கையில்
மோதிரமாய் ஒளிரும் என்கிற
குருட்டு நினைப்பில்
இன்னமும் இருக்கிறேன்

நான் இருக்கிறேன்
அதுவல்லவோ முக்கியம்?

My first Poem

My daughter got hold of one of my old note books while we were cleaning my book shelf. It was full of poems that I had written over a few years.

I am giving the first one below. This was the first time I tried writing a poem way back in Mar 1997. I took one of the poems written by my uncle and tried to see if I could write something on similar lines. All lines to be interpreted as a young boy talking about his mother :-)

நான் இன்று உன்னிடம் வருவேன்
மார்கழி மாதப் பனிக் காற்றாய்
மாலை நேரத்து இளம் தென்றலாய்
நான் இன்று உன்னிடம் வருவேன்
ஒரு மழலையின் ஆர்வத்தோடு
கண்கள் விரிய நீ கதை சொல்வது
எத்தனை அழகு என்று சொல்லிப் போவதற்கு . .

நான் இன்று உன்னிடம் வருவேன்
மழையைக் கொணரும் கரு முகிலாய்
இன்பம் பொங்கும் கடல் அலையாய்
நான் இன்று உன்னிடம் வருவேன்
என் நெற்றியில் விழும் முடி விலக்கி
நீ கனிவாய் பதிக்கும் முத்தம்
எத்தனை அழகு என்று சொல்லிப் போவதற்கு . .

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Argumentative Indian

I have been reading Amartya Sen’s “The Argumentative Indian” for quite sometime now. While Amartya Sen is a renowned Economist and a Noble Laureate, he is not much of a historian and this book stands testimony to that.

The comments on the back of the book claim a lot about this being the best account of Indian history that must be read by every Indian. I beg to disagree. I strongly feel that Dr.Sen should focus on Economics and leave history to historians.

The book is supposed to be a collection of essays on Indian culture, History and Identity. However there is a lot of repetition in all the essays and what stands stark clear is Dr.Sen’s limited knowledge of Indian History. All the essays revolve around one or all of the below points though the titles are different:
The Bhagavad Gita as an argument between Krishna and Arjuna in the Mahabharatha
Javali’s argument with Rama quoted in Ramayana
Akbar’s forming Din Illahi as a combination of religions
Dr.Sen’s strong views against the BJP

There is a lot more to Indian History than just this. It so happens that I have read Jawaharlal Nehru’s “The Discovery of India” which is also a book on Indian culture, History and Identity. My view is that Nehru’s knowledge of Indian history was much more broader and his thoughts and views on India and the passion he had for his motherland are brought out much better in his book.

I am not sure if you have read it but “The Discovery of India” is definitely the best account of Indian History from one of her greatest citizens. As one reads the book , one can picturise Nehru sitting in Ahmednagar fort thinking about India, with pride while narrating her glorious past, with pity while narrating her then state (prior to Independence) and with determination and hope about her future. One can empathise with a great leader who was far ahead of his generation, whose thoughts are pertinent today. Nehru takes you through Indian history like a friend. If you have not read Nehru’s book it is high time you read it.

Coming back to “The Argumentative Indian”, the book gives you limited views of Indian History and its argumentative tradition from an Economist who studied in Oxford. Let me leave you by telling two good things about the book. The first thing is the book gives you some insight into Rabindranath Tagore’s life and how his thoughts differed from those of Mahatma Gandhi, thanks to Dr.Sen’s days in “The Shatiniketan” early on in his life. I haven’t read much about Tagore so far and I found the essay on Tagore to be good.

The other thing I liked in Sen’s book was a reference to this interesting quote from Ram Mohun Roy which I had never come across before.
“Just consider how terrible the day of your death will be.
Others will go on speaking, and you will not be able to argue back.”

Anyone out there, who has read one or both of these books, what do you think? I will be more than happy to take the argument further :-)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The conqueror of Mt.Everest

12th Jan

The conqueror of Mt.Everest is no more. I remember reading in General Knowledge while in school about Edmund Hillary’s feat. Over the years I had not bothered much about Ed but today he had made the headlines and I read about him in the morning Newspaper. Beyond his achievements and the work done by him in Nepal to set up clinics and schools, which the article mentioned, there were 2 points that brought out Ed's humility which really impressed me.

Though he was the one who started the expedition and Tenzing Norgay was only his guide, it seems he refused to accept till Tenzing passed away that he was the first man atop Mt.Everest. In spite of being one of the greatest adventurers of the century, he preferred calling himself an “ordinary person with ordinary qualities”.

Ed did not have a picture of himself taken on top of the Mt.Everest. The only photo taken was that of Tenzing at the summit, which was taken by Ed himself. It seems Ed remarked later that “As far as I knew, he [Tenzing] had never taken a photograph before, and the summit of Everest was hardly the place to show him how.”

Sometimes winning is not enough

After the second test which was marred with bad Umpiring decisions and the nasty Symonds - Harbhajan incident, the Australlian team is facing a lot of criticism from their home crowd. The Australlian media has been conducting a lot of opinion polls related to this and the captain Ricky Ponting in particular is getting some nasty comments and rave reviews about the way he has led the team. Majority of the people want Ponting to go!

All this criticism is inspite of their record 16 wins in tests and an equivalent winning streak in one dayers! Well sometimes being on the winning side alone does not matter, how you win also matters!

Ponting claims that he plays cricket hard but fair but in my opinion accusing an Indian of making racist remarks is slightly overboard and this seems to have been made an issue specifically to divert attention from the bad umpiring that changed the result. This is definitely not in the spirit of the game.

The Australlian team is solely responsible for having changed the way the game is played today. Their focus in the recent past has only been on winning whatever happens. Infact they have even majorly influenced the way some of the other teams play including India. Australlia is a very good cricketing side and there are lot of good things to be taken from them but I think it is high time they changed their approach and started playing in the true spirit of the game. Sledging and indulging in nasty politics outside the field has alienated them from their home crowd. After all Teams play for recognition and this kind of public outrage takes away the joy of winning :-)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Sound of Music

I have been listening to a lot of music over the last few weekends. There is a saying in Tamil which goes something like “When there is not enough food for the ears, you think of giving some food for the stomach”. A very true statement indeed! This very well summarises my experience over the last few weekends.

I have been listening to the doyens of the Carnatic world. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M.S.Subbulakshmi and M.L.Vasanthakumari. Thanks to the internet and the world of mp3s. I am too small and I know very little of carnatic music to comment on these great people but I must say I am in a totally different world free of tension and I feel so calm and energetic over the last few weekends.

I think all this started because of the Margazhi music season and the talks happening around me related to that. I had been to only one concert myself but then I think it drew me towards music after a gap.

I don’t need to write much about music. So much has been written over ages. Music is acknowledged to be something which cuts across all barriers and pleases anyone and everyone right from a child to an animal.

I don’t know why but I feel so close to these doyens now. Maybe it is because I have listened to their voices for hours together. Perhaps it is this music which has made write 4 posts in the last 30 minutes! After all music is not only supposed to have healing powers, it also is supposed to bring out one’s creativity. This is definitely for my good but I don’t really know how good it is for you as a reader :-)

Dada you are simply terrific!

I have been thinking of writing about Dada (Sourav Ganguly) for quite sometime. One can only marvel at this man’s grit and determination. What an amazing comeback Dada has made after being dropped from the Indian cricket team and left totally in isolation!

If you ask me who my favourite cricketer is, I would say Sachin any day but then I have always admired Dada. Sachin is a genius and there is no cricketer as talented as him but Dada is still special and loveable. How can one forget Dada’s reply to Flintoff when India won the One day at Lords? A cricketer with limitations but with great determination. That is what took Dada through a successful stint as the captain of the Indian team and that is what has made him stage such an excellent comeback after the Chappell issue.

The way Saurav is playing he simply seems unstoppable even for Australlia in Australlia. Hope Dada’s excellent form continues and India does well in the remaining matches. After all this umpiring and racism controversies, it is time for some good cricket.

A Promise is a Promise

“A Promise is a Promise”, said Ratan Tata with pride after he unveiled the Nano or “The People’s car” as it is fondly called. I was really impressed by the man and his words. I don’t know why but I felt proud that I was working for the Tata group. The group which has given a lot to Indian society, with a wide range of products and services touching almost all walks of life and by way of which has become an integral part of this country.

Read Tata’s interview and more about the car here.

I have read a lot of articles on the Nano over the past few days in various places. It is definitely a great piece of innovation. I was surprised to read that Engineers who designed this have spent so much time on coming up with innovative designs to reduce cost , even for reducing $10. After all it is no mean feat, coming up with a car for $2500.

An interesting article from NY times

Nano is the talk of my workplace now whether it is within the office or the coffee shops or in the cafeteria. Everyone met I over the last few days seems to be toying the idea of buying the Nano even if it is a second car and after all the Nano is just a little more costlier than a bike and emission wise a lot better. This car is definitely going to create a new market and in the long run might force other car manufacturers to innovate and even bring down their prices, not only in India but across the world.

On a lighter note, Nano is definitely going to make driving within the city tough some time down the line simply because of its reach. I had a dream few days back where I saw Nanos all over the place, on platforms in parking lots and on the roads.

Well the Nano was Tata’s dream for the past 4 years and today it is a reality. Tata has kept his promise. This innovation he is definitely going to impact our lives majorly and definitely result in betterment of the society.

The Kingfisher experience

03rd January 2008

I had mentioned in my earlier post that I am a Frequent flyer with Jet and I travel very often by Jet. I recently travelled by Kingfisher to Bangalore only because the morning Jet flight was fully booked and I had an amazing experience. Kingfisher made a real impact on me, someone so used to Jet, with their excellent service. What a competitive world we live in!

While checking in I was told that only middle seats were left. I said I preferred an Aisle seat. After some double checking the attendant got back with a smile saying that there was only one Aisle seat which he would give me. At this point I was not very surprised because almost all Airlines do this. Only thing a bit different was that the seat number was in single digits and I had an economy class ticket. I told myself that it might be an ATR flight. However when I entered the flight I was really surprised. I had been given a business class seat. This was too good to be true and that too early in the New Year. Jet had never done this even once inspite of my frequent flying.

As a customer it feels great when you are treated best and the Chairman tells you that he has personally chosen the flight attendants and that you can write to him directly. However as a vendor you expect the customer to follow protocols and come to you instead of going to someone senior directly! But then life is full of paradoxes.

I just sat back and enjoyed my flight without worrying about my customer whom I was going to meet.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Another year gone by

Another year has gone by. Year 2007 had my hair starting to change from black to grey and has brought me almost into middle age. However it has left me pretty much the same person
at the core, maybe a bit polished and better but definitely not dented. I still have the same beliefs and walk in with the same energy into work everyday.

2007 was a mixed year for me on the professional front. Things did not go as well as I wanted them to. However looking back I learnt a lot of hard lessons in 2007. Though I managed to put up a decent show finally, there were some flaws in my approach to Professional life that were exposed to myself (not to the whole world hopefully!). I would say I got the maturity to reflect upon my behaviour and criticize myself in 2007.

I started blogging in 2007. Though I have not been able to do it actively in the recent past, it was a great stress reliever for me. I don’t know how it feels to read my blogs but it feels great to write whatever I feel like.

I became a frequent flier in 2007. Jet Airways acknowledged this recently and upgraded me to Gold tier. This frequent flying has given me scope to read more, listen to good music and watch some good movies. Above all I have started appreciating various international cuisines and I have a wide range of choice now when I go abroad. Sometime back my stand on food was “I like only South Indian food because I get fed up with other cuisines soon!”

Thanks to my daughter, I was introduced to the Bhagavad Gita this year. I was lucky to come across a good translation in Tamil by Subramanya Bharathy. I was really impressed by the Gita’s call for action. Karma Yoga is a beautiful concept and it gels to some extent with my approach to life. I would say reading the Gita has definitely left me a better person, though I am still a queer mixture of the east and the west.

Wonder what 2008 has in store for me.

Wish you a very Happy new year!