Friday, December 29, 2006

Shame on us

How can we Indians talk of becoming a "Super Power" when we treat our fellow human beings like this? Shame on us.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Heights of Hypocrisy !!

The CITU and other "trade unions" have called for a nation wide general strike (also known as bandh/Harthal) on Dec 14th 2006. I read a news paper report today in which the CITU general secretary has requested the railways not to run the trains especially in West Bengal on Dec 14th to "avoid inconvenience for the passengers"!!!!. What gall !! Announce a strike to disrupt normal life and then talk about caring for peoples "convenience" !!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Cool video on Kerala food

I'm originally from Kerala and love the food there. Here is a cool video about Kerala veg food from http://www.geobeats.com

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Grass is always greener – on the other side!!

I'm in the U.S now for a short visit and met a person from India who has been living in the States for the past 17 years. He came to US for has post graduate studies and after college stayed on and started working. He is now married with two kids, has a very good job and makes pots of money – his house alone is valued at more than a million dollars. He also has as a side business, two Indian grocery shops, a catering service specializing in Indian cuisine and even is involved in import and distribution of certain food products from India.

With all this, he is still not satisfied. He wants to go back to India. Why? Because there are more "opportunities" in India !!. He has got caught in the hype about "India being the next big thing".

Yes, I too am a believer in the "India story" but a lot of it is just media hype. This person has not thought about the adjustments he and his family has to make by relocating to India after 17 years in US. It is easy to get lured into the hype only to realize later that things don't always work out the way you want them to be.

I recently read an interview of Wipro's Asif Premji in which he made an interesting observation – that Wipro gets scores of resumes from Indians living in the U.S for jobs back in India but usually as a policy does not recruit people who have been in the US for 10 years and more. Reason for this was that Wipro found that people who were in US for such a long time find relocation and adjustment to a life in India very difficult with the results that their careers suffer.

So my take on this is that though one may think that the grass looks greener on the other side, one has to think long and hard about any decision one might take and impact of that decision on ones life.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Take care of your human parts !!

Posted on the lift in my office:

"Do not put your human parts between the lift doors. Inserting your human parts between the lift doors when the lift door is in motion will cause injury".

Well ... Human parts indeed !!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why owning a car (and driving it) in India is bad for your blood pressure.

I have a theory as to why lots of Indians, especially in the metros have high blood pressure – I suspect that a major cause is owning a car and moreover, driving it themselves.

The stress and frustration of driving in Indian metros with people /cattle/cycles/two wheelers/autos/buses cutting across each other, driving in the wrong lane, speeding etc is sometimes too much to bear causing ones BP to go up and out of control.

My first experience of driving a car, was abroad and not in India – of course, I do have an Indian "License" which I took when I turned 18 years old. I had learned just enough "driving" to pass the test and get my license.

When I was staying with my parents, I never had a chance to drive as there was always our family driver available on call and after I got my job and moved to another city, I used to commute in my Kinetic Honda. No chance of driving a car that time either as I could not afford one.

Then I got married and was immediately posted abroad for an extended period of time – first in Japan and then in Taiwan. Though my company offered me a car, I did not take it as public transport system in these countries was excellent and never felt the need for a car.

Then, recently, I was posted to South Africa for more than a year and that is where I got stuck – there is absolutely no public transport to speak of in South Africa and whatever available was not safe. Luckily, my wife is an accomplished driver and when the company offered me a car, I took it and she became my designated "driver".

This happy existence was not to last long – my wife got pregnant and she had to return to India. I panicked. Without a car, you could not do a thing in S. A. So I had to learn fast - it was either that or starvation.

My wife became my "Guru" and she started teaching me how to drive before she left for India. I was shocked to find out that I had forgotten even the basics. I could not even remember which the clutch or the brake was. Any way, I'm a fast learner ; ) (It is another matter that I crashed my first car and the whole car had to be written off ) and learned to drive before my better half left.

It was a pleasure driving on S.A roads. Roads were good, traffic was orderly and everyone obeyed the rules. Once I even drove to Durban from Pretoria – about 600 kms in 5 hours. I fell in love with my car and the sheer pleasure of driving one. Went for long drives during the week ends, and even went on a 4 by 4 trail once.

I considered my self to be a pretty good driver.

After my S.A assignment, I was eager to drive when I was back in India. So within a few days of reaching home, I took out the car with my wife on board and started out. By the time we reached our destination, I felt drained. My face was red, I was short of breath and to top it all, my wife was cross with me for cursing everyone on the road and using all the expletives that I knew.

This happened the next time and time after that. Then I swore to myself that I will remain calm – be a "yogi" when I drive, and understood fully, the idea of detachment, forgiveness and the philosophy of believing in one's destiny as expounded by our learned ancestors.

I took up Yoga and meditation and now a days am able to drive for an extended period of time, without getting hot under the collar.
However, even now when I drive, sometimes, I can feel the anger bubble up, and the frustration build. I think it will take a long time for me to get used to being a "Yogi".

Monday, January 23, 2006

“Authorized Privacy"?

The recently concluded “Chennai book fair” conducted by the book sellers and publishers association of South India, which is an annual event has become a Mecca for book lovers in Chennai. The show this year was larger and more heavily patronized than ever. Having missed the last 3 years editions, I was eager to immerse my self in the sight and sounds of a book fair and indulge myself in a feast of books, to the detriment of my bank balance.

What surprised me this time was the huge hoard of used and “pirated” booksellers outside the book fair. One some days, this area was more crowded that the book fair itself! Agreed that there was always a presence of these “used books” sellers outside the book fair in the earlier editions but what took my breath away was the sheer variety of pirated books available. For instance, Thomas Friedman’s “World is flat” that I bought from Landmark for 700 odd rupees was available for 100 to 150 rupees!

Here is a sample of the pirated books I saw:

  1. Malcom Gladwell’s Blink and The tipping point.
  2. The complete selection of Edward de Bono’s books
  3. Peter Lynch’s One up on wall street and Beating the street
  4. Chetan Baghat’s One night @ the call center
  5. The Warren Buffett Way by Robert G Hagstrom
  6. The complete series of Harry Potter books
  7. Robin Sharma’s series of books

In brief, you name the book and it was there!!

Curious to know the reaction of the book fair authorities, I enquired at their office at the book fair premises. When I pointed out that pirated books were being sold outside and on being asked why they have not complained to the cops, I was shocked by their reply. They said that they were least bothered about this as the pirated books do not affect their sales and did not want to complain to the cops at all. Apparently they had a “live and let live” policy.

I fail to understand their logic. Here is the perfect example of piracy happening right under their noses and nothing was being done about it. No wonder the developed countries complain that India is not enforcing IPR laws. Can we imagine this kind of a situation in any of the developed countries?

What is required is a concerted effort by the authorities to eradicate piracy in India though I’m skeptical whether this will happen if even the victims of piracy are not willing to lift even a finger against it.