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?