Thursday, 13 February 2020

An Unforgettable Valentine's Day

As always, he wouldn’t be around for the Valentine’s day. He sensed his wife’s hurt and frustration; but he had no choice. He had been on leave for a month, and was now scheduled to report back to work, far away from his hometown. His work was such, and despite the fact that he always ended up disheartening his family members, he loved his work and took great pride in it. But, this time around, he was determined to make it up for his wife; he would make some secret arrangements so that she would feel happy and perhaps, not miss him so much on Valentine’s day.

He arranged for flowers and a gift to be delivered to her on 14th February, and then smiled in anticipation, at her surprise and joy that she would share during the call they would have on that day. There was a spring in his step as he got back home and spent the day with his wife and other family members, and also proceeded to pack for his journey back. Despite the hurt, his wife helped him pack, and promised her that one he would make it up!

The farewell day came and with teary eyes, his wife gave him a hug and waved him off with quivering lips. His parents too hugged him and asked him to be careful and inform once he reached his destination, and call every day. He waved at them with a brave and cheerful smile, and told them to take care of themselves. Countdown- Two days to go for Valentines!

He called them saying he had reached his first destination, and was scheduled to travel further and was awaiting transport to his final destination along with many of his other colleagues, who had also returned back from leave. Finally, it was 14th February morning, and in an early morning call he informed them that he was travelling forward and was scheduled to reach his destination by late evening. By noon, his secret flowers and gift got delivered to his wife and she called him ecstatically to inform the same. However, there was some disturbance because of the travel, and so the call was short, though he could feel the excitement in her voice. 

He promised to call back and around 3, he called his wife, and was talking to her about how beautiful the valley outside looked, and that one day, he would bring her here. As he was talking, suddenly she heard a loud noise and then total silence. She tried calling him back, but there was no response. She was distressed, and kept looking at the red roses on the table, as she tried calling his friends, his unit, and so on; soon she started getting calls and realized that on Valentine’s day he had given up his life for his first love – The country. Definitions of love cannot even be begun to be explained, it happens in strange ways. He came back in a coffin wrapped in tricolour, and the family could not even catch a glimpse of his face one last time.

A fictional story, but perhaps, may well be true. In memory of all those CRPF jawans who lost their life in the cowardly Pulwama attack a year ago and all other soldiers, who have given their lives for the country. A silent prayer for all their families, who celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries, and all such days without them, and yet smile and keep the faith. Not a thankful job, and yet many of these families say, our sons and daughters will join the army, and serve the country, and do their dad proud!

Jai Hind. Om Shanti.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Kuch Hum Sab Milke Karte Hain, Mann Ki Baat!

I have been ruminating on this post for quite a few days now, and have been watching, reading and observing everything that is being dished around. As always when something of this nature happens, I see outrage, debates, candle light marches, protests, and a whole host of social media posts, and yet what have we achieved, I wonder, and how many more, before our conscience wakes up.

I presume everyone in this country has the freedom to say their Mann Ki Baat, and social media only helps us to do that better. But not many Mann Ki Baats get the required attention; especially not when and where it matters. Few days back, a beautiful, young veterinary doctor who was on her way back from work, also said her Mann Ki Baat. She called her sister when her two wheeler broke down, and spoke from her heart, about how afraid she was! She saw danger, a terror of the unknown fate, in front of her, and she cried- for help. She had reached out and was asking to be helped and saved from the gruesome turn of events that could easily have been averted, had we truly built an ecosystem that was meant to help women in such situations. Remember, this was not an uneducated girl, she was a doctor, and yet she was not prepared; only because my country’s system is failing in this department, again and again, and again!

We want our daughters to study, go out, be independent, and make a living for themselves, and yet in an IT city like Hyderabad, this can happen to any of us. A girl, who dreamt of a wonderful future, and perhaps, struggled and sacrificed a lot (even her parents) to reach where she did, and yet, she was snubbed out, so cruelly, and mercilessly. Nirbhaya, all over again, and why not? When all her killers are still living on our tax payer’s money, despite the fact that it was a high profile, and fast tracked case, what else can we expect? And there are many more, happening every day across the country, some are reported, most are not. 

1. And by the way, no rape is less of a rape, and I don’t understand the qualifications around such crimes, about what is gruesome and what is not. To me, each one is a gruesome attack on a woman’s dignity. And there should only be death penalty for those convicted. Yes, I am saying, let's please put the fear of death in them!

2. A society is rapidly going downhill with their approach to women, and we need to seriously look at the social angle to these crimes.Awareness and gender sensitization, and a general discussion on the topic at family levels is a must.

3. We need to have exclusive, reach out help lines for women in such situations with a guarantee that they will be helped within minutes, to overcome the situation. There should be awareness about it among the population and it should be made a must on phones of all women. Perpetrators should know and fear that they may well be caught red-handed and tried and punished.
There is a far greater responsibility, with the government and the law and order system; and even more with our justice system, so boggled with the pending cases and an extremely unreasonable time taking process, it defeats the whole purpose of justice!

4. I wonder why in this country we cannot have special courts that work at express speeds to only address the rape cases. This, along with a committed, law and order system, is a must to address this issue at the core. Justice in such cases should be delivered within months, and no perpetrator should be allowed any kind of mercy petitions. They don’t deserve it. No two ways about it! So, let;s please start the reassurance by hanging those convicted of the crime in the Nirbhaya case and send out a strong message.

I have said my Mann Ki Baat, and I wish someone had listened, to that of the doc who did so a few days back, when it desperately needed to be heard.  Before some day, someone has to tweet and post about you and me and ours, I think, our Collective Mann Ki Baat should reach the powers that be of this country, and they should understand that there is a time, when it is time to say No More, and that is NOW. Zero tolerance. Period.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Forever NIITian

There is always a next time, they say, but I am not sure about it. So, I was one of those who felt bad having missed out on the ReUNIITe 1.0. For one reason or the other, it was looking like I might have to miss this one too, however, I kept telling myself that this time, I am gonna make it happen. And touchwood, I did J

While I have been part of the mailing list of this group since the beginning, I wasn’t a part of any WA or Telegram groups and it was Renu Samuel who finally got me added into these, approaching the event. The constant chatter kind of helped and I confirmed to Hari about attending the event. Of course, there was this golden opportunity to meet up with many people who have been instrumental in shaping my career; and the big bait of being able to meet up with the pillars of the NIIT like RSP, VKT, AT, PR etc., once again! I was excited at the chance and while I knew very few of the people chatting away in the group, I still decided to attend the year end party. Suffice to say, as expected, the year is ending on a high note just because of this one event and the wonderful moments it gave J

I am amazed at the people behind the event and the extremely high energy and the enthusiasm they have put in behind this whole stuff. It was as professional an event as the NIIT annual days of the yonder days; the feel was pretty much the same, especially with the presence of the people who used to drive the annual days back then.

As I sat through and listened to the various anecdotes, and the down memory lane type of quiz, I realized how each and every one of us had contributed to the organization, called NIIT. For many of us, it was our first corporate job, the bridge between our academic life and the industry. We were young, and luckily found the right place to get moulded. Reminds me of this scene from Aamir’s movie PK, where he asks whether people come with a ‘chaap’ to indicate what religion they belong to. I think all os us who have been part of this organization, actually walked out with a ‘chaap’ of being NIITian J It is like how babies are incubated in a mother’s womb, but we have to cut the umbilical cord at one point. But that does not in any way take away the bondage that the baby and the mother shares. Such is the link that all of us have with this organization called NIIT. Which is why we are dubbed as Forever NIITians; in every walk of life, wherever we went, whomsoever we interacted with, when we mentioned NIIT, we could easily see the respect that the name commanded!

Thinking back, to me, NIIT gave me an identity, it honed my skills and confidence, strengthened my abilities and pushed me to pick up new ones which I otherwise may not have. NIIT in many ways, was way ahead of the times, the courseware and the teaching methodology, I still consider, one of the best to this date. My daughter, while doing her engineering was struggling with a few topics and I dusted out my NIIT courseware, to try and explain RDBMS and Linked List to her and she was amazed. She quickly ran through her topics and “downloaded” all the relevant courseware from the loft and kept referring to it. Nothing and no one can explain these concepts better than NIIT courseware and NIITians even today. That reminds me of the joke, that for NIITians, a pointer would always be a PTR, and counter always a CTR😂

The other aspect of NIIT that amazed me was the women empowerment that I saw all around from top to bottom, while even today many others are still struggling to dispel this disparity. The absolutely innovative and ingenious sales and marketing techniques, the unique connect with people (students and parents), the incessant push to make sure people achieved targets beyond which they believed they could, etc., are a few things that I can never forget. I still remember how as a faculty with sales targets, got us brainstorming; and we started making cold calls around the Residency Road centre. And that is how I stumbled on the LIC deal one day. The people I talked to in the big, stone LIC building at the end of the M G Road, lead us to their regional office and thus came the corporate order for the Swift course!!!!

I also had a tough task of teaching the various subjects to two batches of Korean students. They hardly spoke English, their laptops were installed with Korean version of Windows, and they were feeling terribly homesick J

My success depended on finding out where they could find sticky rice, to figuring out where they could fix dental and haircut appointments, and buy second hand bikes J Teaching Java, VB, ASP, and more was easy, but English was tough!!! They ended up teaching me little Korean, which I still remember. And with time, I learnt to decipher the error messages in their Korean Windows laptops. The one solace for me was the World Cup Soccer, hosted by South Korea that started during the course, that was indeed a common language we had !!! Overall, it was fun and a big learning for me and perhaps that is how I ended up with an excellence award that year and true to the NIIT tradition, quit the same year as well J

However, the strong foundation of commitment to work, the quality output, the never say die spirit, the camaraderie, the team spirit, the drive to achieve team goals, and expecting the unexpected, are all qualities that I still credit this organization with. And as I heard RSP speak at the end of the event, I realized that perhaps, on that count, nothing much as changed. They were still the same people who could drive people to achieve unbelievable results and think ahead of time, which is why the organization evolved with time and is still standing tall. So, glad and proud to have been an NIITian and will always thankfully remain a “Forever NIITian” !

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Why I find driving a challenge?

Ladies are good in multitasking they say, don’t they? And the ladies are bad at driving, they say, isn’t it? So, trying to put these two things together, I am trying to figure out what is it about driving that makes us women so.....whatever, at least me, as I acknowledge that there are many good lady drivers out there. Every time I am asked this question, do you drive, I respond with a smile, I have a DL! It is for the other person to make out whether I use the DL for driving or as an identity card J

As of now, I have attended two rounds of professional, driving classes, and I am not sure, if those guys are still teaching others!  I have always ridden two wheelers from a young age and so there is no road fear and I know the rules and can weave a vehicle through the traffic easily. So, then why is this Uhhhhh.....kind of feeling towards driving? For one, the terrible Bangalore traffic every time I get out discourages me a lot. You have to be aggressive enough to find your way forward or else you are left behind. You should learn how to disregard or ump signals or how to ignore the honking people who are following you on a narrow road, and always in a hurry! That’s not for me for certain; I can either concentrate on the wheel in my hand and road ahead or on the other idiots around me!

For another, the moment I sit in the driver’s seat, I realize that I have to ‘operate’ too many things, clutch (why the hell do we need it anyway!!!!), brake, accelerator ....three things to be managed with two legs, kind of feels a bit complicated to me. Especially with the terrible traffic to contend with, there is every chance I may press one in place of another.  Now consider the hands, the steering wheel, the indicators, the horn, the headlights, and the gear and a few other controls as well!!!! Seriously, so many things??? And don’t forget you have the mirrors too.....One instructor told me, madam, you are supposed to look ahead only and not in the mirrors constantly, the one behind will watch out for you J Really, I mean, can you be sure?

Chal, driving is somehow still ok, you can manage, but parking? You have to pause, and really get this straight in your mind. You have to park right and the steering should be turned left, or damn it was it right, left, right, confusion!!!  I mean you need a few trial and errors to get this right, right? But most husbands lose the nerve after a few trials and errors itself, that’s bad and not fair. When they drive, we are supposed to keep our mouths shut, but when we drive, they can’t shut up even for a second.  No, don’t accelerate so much, press the damn brake, don’t you know how to release that clutch still, didn’t you see that fellow coming, when do you plan to use the gears and that was the  WRONG gear,  do you want to get us booked, hey Hold on, you can’t do that, you are supposed to use the RIGHT indicator always and not confuse the people behind, it’s a car, treat it with love and dignity for god’s sake, and it goes on and on and on!  Any wonder then that I ended up where I shouldn’t be more than once! But I am persistent, so got us an automatic car now, that is one item (clutch) less for me worry about in the car, but I still need to find ways to handle the other things in and out of the car, the multitasking part and husbandJ

Friday, 13 October 2017

Spread the Diwali cheer and how !!!!

Diwali is approaching. While most of the world around is excited with anticipation and looking forward to the festive season, Maya is not so inclined. She hated the approach time of the festivals. That just meant more work for her. Maya worked in a Super Market and approaching festivals brought in the crowds. They had to work extra time and long lines at the counters. Just the thought of the unsmiling, innumerable faces passing by the counter with their Diwali shopping brought a frown on her face. But work is work, so she forced herself to get up and prepare for the day ahead. She wore her uniform and entered the Super Market.

The place was already bustling with people of all sizes, shapes and ages. People were loading their trolleys with anything and everything and making their way to the counter. Kids were being a pain as usual, asking for this and that. Grandparents were smilingly obliging, while parents were giving stern looks. Most men were looking bored as they accompanied their wives and looked like they came along to just get it done and over with.

Maya made her way to her counter as her shift timing kicked in. She looked at the long line already waiting and sighed, it’s going to be a long day indeed. The man in front started emptying his items on to the counter and Maya routinely started scanning them for the billing. It’s a mechanical job. Most people think that the people at the counter are also machines just like the scanner and the computer. They never acknowledge you, look into your face or smile. They won’t see the difference even if an automaton is put in Maya’s place.

As the day went on, Maya continued her work and helped many customers to bill and pack their Diwali shopping. As she looked at the items, her mind kept wandering back to her own kids back home. Sweets, chocolates, clothes, crackers, diyas, candles, savouries; she was yet to get her own shopping done and wasn’t sure what all she could afford to get her kids. And here were people who stood nonchalantly by as she billed hordes of the stuff. All they had to do at the end was produce the card or the cash and they were off. Where do people get so much money from, she wondered. And why is it that every festival, I end up working and compromising with my kids gifts? Life is tough, and you had to keep going.

In came the next lady, she was well dressed, looked fashionable. I bet she doesn’t have to lift a finger in her house, thought Maya. When you are the deprived one, it is easy to be bitchy about people, at least in your mind. Outwardly, you just kept up the uninterested face and continued billing. Hey what’s this, the lady seems to have emptied half the chocolate counter on to her cart. God, here I am struggling to buy one for my kids and look at her. What is she going to do with all this? Must be to distribute among her rich friends, I am sure. And here I thought rich people had diabetes!!!! Well, at least someone’s having a happy Diwali after all!!!!

She looked at the lady and saw that she was checking messages on her mobile as Maya continued to bill the long list of items. Whew, finally it’s done. Maya asked for the payment and the lady pulled out her card and the payment was done. Maya started loading the items into the carry bags and suddenly she heard the lady say, “Hey wait a minute”. Now what, she wants something more or she wants to reduce something from the bill. Prepared to talk it out, Maya looked up from her work with a rather stern, questioning look.

To her utter surprise, the lady was smiling wide at her and Maya was taken aback. Smiles are contagious and Maya too smiled back, now a little more genuinely, but still unsure. The lady picked up two boxes of chocolate from her purchases and handed it over to Maya. Maya was wondering, “oh she doesn’t want it”, when the lady still smiling went, “Happy Diwali”. Maya was puzzled. The lady continued to hold out the chocolate boxes and said, “These are for you, I am sure you have kids at home too. Take this home and have a happy Diwali”. Maya was stunned to say the least, and she felt lost. She could not find her voice to even say “thankyou” and her hands were trembling. The lady came closer and handed over the boxes forcibly into her hands and then waved a goodbye and was out of the super market before Maya could even react. She just kept watching and then saw the next person in line who was busy with his phone till now watching at her strangely. She realized that without her knowing, she was actually crying at the random act of a stranger who she was bitchy about in her mind. That lady had managed to change her notions about humanity. Diwali did not look so bad anymore and Maya now had a smile one her face for the rest of the day and the season. She even smiled at the grumpy customers and they were forced to smile back. One smile and two boxes of chocolate can make all the difference indeed to someone’s life and the goodness is contagious, so it spreads all around.

Monday, 9 October 2017

KBC - Face to Face with the true India

I am glad that SonyLiv started the KBC season 9 in the prime time. As it is, I was fed up with the nonsense being dished out in competition by the news channels. KBC came as an alternative and proved to be a mind blowing one. It reclaimed our family time as everyone started watching it. Whether it is intentional or not, I see a refreshing change in the KBC participants. The simple, at times not very highly educated, not very well off people from different parts of India bring us face to face with the true India. A refreshingly new India in which we all want to believe in and hold on to, not the one that the politicians, media houses or religious leaders would want us to see. So, what’s so different about this KBC?

Almost each and every participant was a revelation. Many from far off villages we have not even heard of, but with a fire in their hearts and a will power to make it big. Let’s take a look at a few of the people who caught my attention.
1. A government school teacher from Maharastra who did not have the money to travel for the audition, she was working without a salary for two years and traveled 50 KM one day to her school. Her husband too did this 10 years, before he started getting paid. 
2.  A young engineer from Chattisgarh, who was teaching and sheltering kids of parents who were killed in the Sukma attack. He did all this from his own salary and was putting off his marriage to keep this effort going.
3. A lady who was polio affected, but wanted to study and make a career and her husband sacrificed his career and looked after the home to make her a Assistant Collector.
4. The person who won the 1 Cr rupees, was a social worker who was helping the tribal kids and ladies of Jharkand to lead a better life.
5. The last week’s episode saw a 10th pass lady win 50 Lakhs and it was not all about luck, she was indeed knowledgeable.

Many more such stories. Yes, it does not take the government or the rich to set things right, all it takes is a few good humans who believe in humanity and belief in making things happen. 

The episodes of Friday brought you face to face with ordinary Indians who stuck their neck out for the sake of helping others and the society or the environment. The last Friday episode with P V Sindhu was a superb one that brought out the tough life that the champion had to lead in order to be called as a champion.

It was heartening to see more and more women participants of all ages, fighting against stereotypes that the Indian society has set. Last, but not the least, I think there is no other TV show host who is more versatile, dynamic, charismatic, warm, engaging and involved than our dear AB ji. He makes everyone feel so comfortable, is so knowledgeable about issues and events happening around the world. I really liked the way he supported Dipa Karmakar by saying that she should have actually won an Olympic medal and perhaps the referees were a bit biased. Coming from someone like him, it must have boosted Dipa if she were watching. Sitting in front of P V Sindhu, he tells her how he is such an ardent fan who does not miss any match of hers and gets tensed about each point. And to think, this is the man who has generations of Indians as his fans. He has redefined TV show hosting and set benchmarks that few people can even dream of achieving, once again, breaking stereotypes.

Thanks AB and SonyLiv. Keep the good job going, let Indians watch and see the true India. I wish I could make it there to that studio one day and click a selfie with you J

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Sometimes, explanations are simple enough!!!!

Many a time the world around is just interested in judging you for what you have done. None try to understand why you did what you did. The political scenario in India is such that there are only two factions. Rest don’t count anyway. So, every situation that happens has to be viewed in one of the two modes, pro or anti. If you happen to criticize something, then the anti guys are very happy with you and if you go the other way, then they raise their eyebrows at you. It is true Vice Versa also with the so called Bhakts J

BTW, I have realized that a Bhakt is someone who has immense faith in the capabilities of the deity whom they worship, so that’s not so bad after all. Even I am Bhakt of many Gods. I believe that while they may be the ones who gave me the problems, they are also the ones who give me  the solutionsJ So, perhaps the people who are called Bhakts are the ones who have immense faith and can see no wrong in what their idol does. At times, that is dangerous. Things just might get too complacent as you become too blind to the faults.

Unfortunately on the other side you have those for whom nothing is right. Whatever happens, whatever is done, they pick faults. In short, everything bad has to be worked out back to that one person in control. They have a problem acknowledging the good. It's ok, appreciation doesn't come easy after all. That is dangerous too. So, at best people like me, the true, middle class aam admi begin to think whether it is at all possible to remain objective and take a balanced view of things. To react or not to react is the question.  If you do, will it be taken in the right spirit or will you get hijacked by those who have hidden agendas? That is the problem statement that I am trying to solve.

A recent incident that got discussed widely on all media channels including the social media was about a certain someone who got invited to talk somewhere outside the country and speak the person did.(I won’t take names, as I am sure I cannot afford defamation cases and Ram Jethmalini ji’s services. I learn from other’s mistakes and I keep referring to an encyclopedia on thisJ) While a few branded that it was highly inappropriate of the person to have spoken ill on a foreign soil, a few others went overboard defending what was said. That got me thinking (Damn, that's where all the problems and the blogs take shape!!!). It's important to figure out why people do things. So,  my train of thoughts went in that direction. Every time I saw some post in favor of or against the session, my mind went searching for answers again. Finally I have come up with an answer. This is my theory, I may be right or wrong. The last I checked, India being a democratic country with the right to freedom of speech, I thought I should pen my thoughts. I am trying to prove that it is possible if you apply your brains to stay in the middle and not take the right or the left stands. (Maybe I should patent this :)) Alas, I am a minority in this country, right now.
I have concluded that what happened out there is perhaps  the daughter in law syndrome. Hell, what’s this ? Here is how it goes.
The daughter in law is always an outsider in the in-laws house. Unless you are very lucky, you get the standard Indian saas as shown in the saas bahu serials (except for the hefty makeup and dressing!!!). So, you get to hear things like “this is my house, my way” read “my way or no way”. You don’t give up so easily, after all izzat ka sawaal hain and hum kisi se kam nahin and all that. You go all out of your way to either try and please or counter. But pretty soon, you realize, that whatever you do, whichever approach you take, is simply not right or good enough. And whatever the mother in law does is always right and best. If it is not, look up that ‘boss is always right rule’ and things will fall in place. It is very much applicable here. So, at every instance, the daughter in law is picked at, made fun of, put down, hassled and troubled to the extent that she feels lost and starts feeling utterly useless. On top of that, experience counts for a lot. Cooking and house keeping and keeping scores is not the daughter in laws’s forte, she has a long way to go to match her mother in law’s skills and experience. So, when the mother in law publicly denounces her, people also see that it is true to an extent that she is incompetent.
Where does that now leave the daughter in law? All she can do is crib. But the one person to whom she can crib is not interested in listening, because even that person can see the chinks in her armor. More importantly, it just doesn’t pay to take sides against the mistress of the house. All that irritation and the unused vocabulary is boiling up inside, it has to come out somewhere, but where? At this time, she gets an invite from someone (another daughter in law) for a function. The mother in law of that house has already been acknowledged by one and all as a dictator, you know the kind whom they call daayan in our serials. I mean, everyone’s cribbing about her, not just her daughter in law. Not that, it’s affected her one bit, though. She firmly believes in the “kuch tho log kahenge” funda and doesn’t give a damn who says what. After all, she has the power and the only thing others can do is crib!!!

So, now our daughter in law feels that she is likely to get an ally in the other. You know, the kind where you can gang up and say, “Nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi” and all that. So she ensures to accept the invite, and make it to the place.  After small talk, as expected comes the question, so, how’s your marital life, hows your mother in law? And out comes the farrago (What’s the big deal about Mr. Tharoor’s tweet, see it was easy enough to use that word!!!!) of all that inexpressible feelings that were bottled up all this while and yes, it starts with intolerance!!! She was just waiting for someone to ask and it all just came out. Poocha tho bolna tho padegaaa hi naa, warna koi teek se na bolne detaa hain na sunte hainJ Ab tho apni khunnas nikaalke rakhengeJ See, when there is such a simple explanation, everyone went into a tizzy about what was said and why!!!!!!!

Disclaimer: I am trying hard to be apolitical and remain objective, and there is nothing in favor of or against any party or person here. It’s just my way of trying to analyze a situation and I hope I have proved my point. I am absolutely not responsible for any conclusions anyone draws on who the person is or who mother in law(s) are!!!! All that is left to your imagination and your imagination is your responsibility fully, not mine. All I am saying is that it’s fully possible to find satisfactory explanations if you care to look for them.