Tuesday, December 23, 2008

50 Rs for a cup of coffee/tea

He was a naïve 5 year old when he first overheard conversations about the Taj hotel near the Gateway of India.

It was mere hearsay, none who bragged had ever set foot in it, it was what they had heard, it was what someone else had told them, it was what they had imagined!

He and a friend argued on how a cup of coffee or tea could ever cost 50 Rs, it was unheard of when one could get it for 20 paisa elsewhere in the town. He found it hard to believe and could not wait to get back home in the evening and ask his father.

He waited till dinner time and eventually asked his father, much later he could figure out, his father too could only imagine! His father thought for a moment and said yes they would charge 50 Rs for a coffee or tea, but the cups would be extremely clean, they would have cold air from the air conditioner flowing in, there would be a waiter serving the tea and so on.

He could not sleep well that night, kept thinking, well more calculating how much money would be required to have a cup of tea every day at the Taj. He decided that night he was going to have a cup of tea in the Taj once and the very next morning, he went back and told his friends, they all should.

It’s been over 25 years now, the friends have moved on, many went on to do very well, they would have had their cups of teas, he too moved on, had many cups of teas around the world, but that one promise remained unfulfilled.

Today as he read the news of the Taj reopening, he quickly said to himself it has to be now, the next time in Mumbai must be the time to have that cup of tea.

A cup of tea to salute the men and women who laid their lives for the country, city and the pride of Mumbai!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan...

Aatankvadiyon ke pairon taley, uskee zameen kuchaltee hain

Bhediyon kee goliyan uska seena chalee kartee hain


Gunehgaaron ke bumb-golon sey, uspar waar hotey hain

Shaitanon ke haathon sey uskey cheer ka haran hota hain


Lachar aur Bebaas apnee rakhsha main kamjor hain

Napunsak netaon ke haathon main yeah aaj kaid hain


Bekasooron key Khoon sey Lathpath, aankhon sey aasoon bahati hain

Apnon key bewakuf bayanon sey marti hain, Yeah hain Mumbai meri jaan



Sunday, November 30, 2008

Arrogance of Non Performance

At a recent team meeting, I spoke on this topic and from the feedback towards the end of the session, I thought people liked it, at least some of them!

All of us are familiar with and have met at some point in time, people who are arrogant. We see them at our work place, they are our friends, some are our relatives – cousins and uncles and aunts… At times it’s just us, we ourselves are arrogant at times for various reasons.

Arrogance is displayed for reasons like wealth, looks, performance at work, material belongings – great car, mobile phone, gold and jewels and at times for something as despicable as one knowing someone influential or being close to someone!

This is one extreme why people behave in a way that is considered arrogant. There is this other extreme that I really wanted to touch upon and that is “Arrogance of Non Performance”. Being arrogant without any reason (well the one who is arrogant does not/never realizes that the reasons that one is arrogant for are either too trivial or non-existent for everyone other than they themselves)

People behaving in an arrogant manner in spite of not performing to the expectations, not doing their job as required, not complying to the basic objectives. This arrogance stems from couple of key issues.

· At times its due to a sense of jealousy and hatred for those around you who are performing well and behaving in a nice manner that is just not going well with the person involved.

· At other times its due to a feeling of inferiority complex that others are able to do better while I am not able to make much progress though everyone seems to be equal on other terms – education, experience etc. It’s just that – a feeling, in reality there may not be any difference in the capabilities of the people involved, it’s just the attitude.

· At times this is also due to an utter lack of knowledge, learnability and adaptability. There are people who REFUSE to learn, adapt and move forward. Such people have an unfound arrogance about the little knowledge and exposure that they posses, many times this knowledge has never got upgraded and they seldom understand or see other view points, this is amongst the more self inflicting arrogance of non performance one would ever see.

I myself have gone through a phase when I “suffered” from this, early on in my career, in fact the very start of my career as a Management Trainee. I was in this frame of mind that everyone around me knew less and more so people with a varied and great no of years of experience too would be placed in that category of everyone else around me.

An event that really brought about the change was when suddenly out of nowhere me and my colleague (we both were new to the org) were asked to handle a shift as in charge. That’s when I realized how little I knew and how much more there was to learn. Late in the night when I reflected on the day, It changed my perspective and I suddenly found myself on the other side, I was willing to learn, I had opened my mind to new things, I believed everything was possible, I became less stubborn about concepts and I accepted CHANGE as the thing to look for!

You sometimes have to go thru the process, learn the tricks of the trade and then criticize. It’s a lot easier to say things, from the outside, sitting on the fence. Those who jump in and that too with an open mind to learn and make things better typically do well and are successful. Those who are willing to see the other and “new” view point, one that may be very different from what they have been thinking because of their lack of knowledge and understanding find it difficult to cope. Those that keep thinking they know more, close their minds and refuse to learn and adapt to change suffer in life – professional as well as personal.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Mumbai Drama - A city under siege

What happened in Mumbai on the night of 26/11 has upset many Indians. I personally came to know of the tragedy only late in the night/early morning on the 27th when a friend of mine called up from the US to check if all was well with my friends and family in Mumbai.


When I switched on the TV, watched the LIVE footage for a few minutes, I could gather the gravity of the situation, it seemed to be a tough one and I was sure many, many innocent people would lose their lives in the encounters and counter operations that would follow.


The lack of political will and a spineless, vote-bank-feeding-policy-making government is what we have got at the center that is more interested in ensuring its own survival rather than looking at people’s safety and security.


A city that has been repeatedly, a sitting target for anti nationals deserves better administration and cover than what it gets today. It’s a symbol of the capital and financial prowess India as a nation could one day become, It’s a symbol of the “Unity in diversity” that we so proudly flaunt when we speak to our friends from other countries, It’s a melting pot of different communities and castes and religions and languages that represent a true cosmopolitan nature of a truly diverse city….


A City like Mumbai cannot be a sitting duck to anyone carrying guns and ammo and getting into a trawler from Karachi and reaching its shores and holding up the whole city to its fears.


Dear Mr. Deshmukh and Dear Dr. Man Mohan Singh, Kindly do your job and Mr. Prime Minister, you can start out with throwing a certain Mr. Shivraj Patil (Honorable Home Minister) out the cabinet, Please.


We want you to protect us and protect us well, Innocent people expect this small favor for the votes they cast you to take care of them, Please oblige, for once, the city may not forgive you AGAIN.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How much should we respect our near ones...

Last few years have been a great learning for me. I tend to observe relationships around me very minutely and am able to comprehend minor changes in their outlook and over all progress.

I recently saw a young man get into an addiction in spite of the collective wisdom and diktat of many of his colleagues, friends, parents warning against it. Eventually i also saw his parents cry, plead and beg to no avail.

This was the latest incident, one that i experienced prior to that could be a complete shocker for some of us. A person trying to act as if she is sacrificing her life for the happiness of her parents and sister to cover her deeds and blaming a close friend for it wholely and squarely to save her face.

Most decisions do not take into account the respect one has for near and dear ones. It comes forth much later and is evident only in hindsight.

I am sure both these persons and many of us who make the mistake of not respecting our near ones and letting ourselves off the hook when it comes to sharing the blame and troubling others need to introspect and think.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

the scared man...His hero

He never had a problem staring an issue in the face...All kinds...Personal, Professional.

He only once had shied away from facing an issue in the 32 years of his life.

He got a message from someone, that a person close to him, one who played an important role in my life in my formative years was seriously ill, on the death bed. Every one knew it was a matter of time.

The person was a hero for him, It was important that he saw him once, be around and may be even help if something was required.

He tried being around, he definitely helped with whatever he could with in his limited means.

He somehow could not make himself take the long journey and spend more time with his Hero. He was scared, he did not want to see his hero helpless, he always had a macho image of his hero in his mind, heart and psyche.

A hero is a hero...for ever...no matter what others feed you about a hero...your hero will always be one...in your mind, heart and psyche.

Have a hero, Try becoming one too!

Friday, October 03, 2008

3 Animals in my life! all females :)

I often joked with friends that the only female that had ever entered my bedroom during some of the most exciting times of my adult life was the friendly female cockroach that came for her night time adventures starting with the kitchen thru the dining room and into the bedroom.

Much has happened over the years, there is now a rat/mouse (a huge one), that comes often and tried to seek an entry thru a small opening next to the wash basin. It is brave and determined and has absolutely no fear of the various attempts i have made to shoo it off. The battle carries on between the two of us - each considering never giving up each others turf come what may!

My neighbours dog does not love me at all, its probably smart too. I sometimes late in the night get a feeling that is exactly knows when to bark aloud and disturb me so i loose sleep for 2-3 hours of the total of 4-5 hours of sleep that i usually yearn for.

In the days of PS2 and the Internet, i sometimes feel happy to be getting an opportunity to play games with my nemesis in real life - a female cockroach, rat, dog.

PS:- I am not too sure if all three are females, but given my past history and data from older transactions, i firmly believe that they are all females, else why would someone keep bugging me constantly and consistently :)

Going Green...

Every evening as i take a quick walk past the aisle's and the cubicles of my team members, i had been noticing monitors left on, machines running on thru' the evening and the night.

Is it a lack of understanding that people still do not understand the importance of conservation of energy?

Is it simply the lack of urge and the inertia that prevents us?

Time will tell.

I myself was a splurge. I would keep the lights on while reading at bedtime and sleep off with the lights burning thru the night! Have worked on this and changed this habit, am not yet 100% successful, but am trying and should be there soon, i hope!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teacher's Day - Mehta Sir

This teachers day two significant names comes to my mind - Natesh and Mehta Sir. It was men like Mehta Sir who shaped many a young minds in a nondescript suburb outside of Mumbai.

Mehta sir was a strict disciplinarian and we had reasons to believe it having been at the receiving end of his fury more than once myself! Me and many of my school friends have been trashed with a ruler till one let out loud moans, been slapped on the back with a heavy hand, asked to kneel down on the gravel filled, dirty play ground, made to run around the school campus etc. Behind that strict disciplinarian was a man who wanted to see us do well and succeed in life.

Most of Mehta sir’s students were either from poor or lower middle class families and he knew well that his students were the only hope for many of their poor working class parents. Mehta sir knew that the only way out of the daily rut for many of these parents was through the achievements of his students. He went about doing his job without bothering about the remuneration – I am pretty sure it was quite paltry those days and of course nothing compared to what he delivered.

Mehta sir was an epitome of courage and motivation, How else could one explain our school football team taking on the mighty, well equipped team from other schools nearly barefoot? How else could one explain the kabaddi matches that our team played with boys(?) twice our size? How else could one explain the enthusiasm to run along the race track and cheer the participating girls from our school with loud slogans of “Dhaav Usha Dhaav” [Run, Usha Run!].

Mehta Sir, I am proud of you and We want to make sure we give back a part of what we got from you, We are all trying to do our bit in a small way and will try our best in the future as well. Keep inspiring and motivating us from wherever you are.

Another day, I am going to write about Natesh sir, who truly inspired many young people to more importantly understand their dreams and later follow them, successfully!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Good old Kashmir issue

Was there really a solution to this problem? Not sure, i always felt personally that India should have just focused on development in the initial stages and not granted special status to this region.

A people who wish to choose a rotten system that is called Pakistan over the more robust and promising Indian democracy need no mercy and must be asked to go their own way. I am not sure what strategic reasons other than losing that beautiful land and may be triggering few more splinter groups to gather momentum for freedom. Yes i am pretty sure that the Indian soldiers have made few mistakes, but where you have a deployment of thousands of soldiers, there is a war like situation, its bound to happen that way. One must make no difference here that the most important aspect of the soldiers life is to fight for his country be it with enemies from across the border or those with in the borders.

Could India have followed the China model, Should India allow this region to just drift away to a more medieval Pakistan and hope that wiser sense prevails and people choose the right path over a period of time.

The spate of terrorist attacks on India (most kill innocent Indians in cities and towns that have nothing to do with Kashmir) prove that India's current policy has failed. Terrorists strike at will anywhere and anytime they wish. Feels like one is in a functional democracy that is somehow not strong enough to deal with its own security.

Is the solution to provide draconian(?) laws to the state's and their police forces that strengthen the forces at the same time leave room for misuse?

Friday, July 04, 2008

A normal evening that changed things for me!

It was a usual day at office for me.

I had an early start (those days I would get to my desk by 7:00am), an exciting morning meeting with colleagues, team members and few external vendors.

An afternoon presentation for a client and later some internal discussions with 2 teams outside of the department took me thru’ a large part of the afternoon. Around evening time, a close friend called up and asked if we could have dinner together. I agreed almost willingly and took the task of identifying the place for the occasion.

I was sure the day had gone well and wanted the evening to end on a similar note. I selected a new restaurant serving good Punjabi food closer to my home. Me and my friend got in, settled with a nice round of Mango lassi and ordered the starters before we got talking.

A common question that I am now more or less used to getting asked is about marriage! This was no different, I started my usual fundae’s on marriage and few minutes later found myself cornered. I had never seen my friend get so involved into these discussions and was taken by surprise initially. It was only later that I was told that someone had come prepared for this "battle" and the WMD were all seen in the form of quotes, anecdotes and tales of despair and glory all woven intricately and with a lot of thought.

The discussion went along, I found myself feeling a lot more comfortable after a while and I started telling my friend the real issues that existed, my true take on various things – life in general, relationships, professional experiences, personal successes and failures.

I ended up probably sharing a lot more than I ever did with anyone, It felt different, i told my friend what I felt. The thought from my friend was that this dinner was meant to make me feel that way and the goal was met. My friend also mentioned that it was only to help me get over these thoughts and attain that clarity this dinner was arranged and it was merely an excuse to get together and discuss the issues open and out under a new light.

That evening changed me a lot. From that day on, I have made sure that I would try my best to help those who come to me, I have never turned any one back and it’s been a long time now. I have always shared whatever little I could with in my. I felt I could also somehow (magically J) figure out when someone was in trouble and fate would somehow get that person near me.

That beautiful evening changed my life, forever. It has made my life a lot more complex for others, but a lot simpler for myself.

It’s our job to help those in need, it’s our responsibility to protect those around us who are weak and who cannot move ahead on their own. I always thought that was the way it had to be and behaved in that manner, but that evening made me make a far stronger resolve and stick to it in spite of the odds.

I feel great!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A true friend does not need sympathy, but a lasting & consistent company

Recently a close friend who has not allowed to keep in touch tried connecting back after a few months.

I got a feeling the friend had got to know that I was not keeping well and was going thru’ a rough patch and therefore was trying to be sympathetic. I briefly gave it a thought and did not respond as warmly as I would normally have.

I really did not need any sympathy, that too from friends that at least I personally think as true friends, people whom I have or had in the past a lot of trust.

In times of distress all one needs is good company, it need not even be physical, it can be remote over call/mail. Someone with whom you can share your joys and sorrows alike. Someone who can listen without a bias and give an honest opinion, tell you things that are not so good to hear but nevertheless true to the fact.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Great Trade-off

Can one ever trade the two most desirous things in this world?

Well one look around you and you will find several examples of compromise, intentional neglect and forced assertion that pit Love and Money against each other.

What’s that emotion that really makes one pitch ones loyalties one way or the other?

At times it’s just a state of mind, but most cases on careful examination would certainly reveal a scheme that the person had in mind, which lead to a manipulation and calculative moves that make the decision tilt in favor of one or the other.

The anatomy of such decision would be a definite research piece that could take a life time to unravel, but the fact that there exist many such examples of intentional deceit where one choose money over true love and forfeited one’s self respect and also endangered others who had been earlier conned into believing things that were not necessarily true.

Life can be a dangerous thing to deal with when one has to make these trade-offs at the cost of other individuals.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why do i get irriatated.. (much less these days...)

I get irritated when:-

I see lethargy – of any kind, personal, in the professional work
I see people wasting time/money – their own or of someone else, does not matter
I feel someone is not trying hard enough, giving up mid way
I see someone not willing to listen to sane advice
I see someone trying to be cunning with others
I see someone trying to politicize/play favorites
I see someone trying to push around and show a lot of ego and heavy headedness
I see someone being excessively arrogant about far lesser achievement
I see someone being extremely material in thinking and short term in focus

List can be long, but the most irritated I have ever got is when I see people giving a word and not standing by it, making a promise and betraying the other person.

There can be no worse act of cruelty by one person to another than the one mentioned.

Think a 1000 times before pulling another person in the ring with you, giving a word to the person and then for your own benefit/safety/material gain leaving the person alone, betraying the person.

That nostalgic feeling...Old friends and old memories

It's always such a fantastic feeling to catch up with that school or college buddy whom you had not met or spoken to for years.

I suddenly saw an email in my mail box from one such person and was so excited that my colleague who was sitting on my desk asked me "What happened?"

I was in some embarrassment explaining him the reason for that wide smile on my face because as soon as i saw the mail, some of those funny moments that we associate with each of the persons around us just flashed in front of me.

There are quite a good no of fun moments associated with this person too...

It's not getting any cheaper is it?

The economy is growing, there is a sense of good in every sector and the general mood seems great.

BUT, inflation is taking its toll, well inflation has always troubled some government or the other at different times since the last 15-20 years or even longer.

What's different this time around?

Well, its for the first time perhaps in my life time that food prices across the board have seen a sharp increase. One does not need to be an economist to tell you that when food prices go up and they affect the common people beyond their earning cycles, they vote against the government.

Bye Bye UPA government at the center.

PS:- My understanding of the Indian economy is as good as Sachin Tendulkar's(Master's) understanding of Chemistry in class XII.

Thailand - Phuket - Good place, better people....

I write this from a seat overlooking Concourse C on the swanky new Swarnabhumi International Airport @ Bangkok. I was in Phuket for a few days and what I saw of Thailand, the people there, their attitude to customer service and work in general has impressed me a great deal.

The places I went to were clean, you would hardly find people loitering around without work, everyone seems to be busy with some task or the other. I found people were happy and content – at least their facial expressions showed that they were happy and the limited conversations I had with some of the locals did tell me that they are quite happy and proud of their country, culture and the king!!!

The land rates in Phuket - one of the most popular tourist destinations were a mere 10-15lac Bht/acre i.e. 12-18lac INR/acre. Wow, that’s a lot cheaper than any of the places in India isn’t it?

The temple that I visited was hardly crowded and the roads are great, people seemed to follow the traffic rules pretty well, I think Thailand and the people impressed me a lot.

Over and above all this what impressed me was the attitude of the people, I found it very positive. People have a tremendous sense of service, they are polite and savvy when it comes to serving their guests.

At 930pm in my hotel the person who was looking after us went all the way to find out some small bit of information that I asked her to look for and spent almost ½ hour to get the right person, for me to talk to.

I am actually planning to come back, preferably within the next one year, spend some more time in this beautiful place and with these great people. Well, actually spend some money here as well,

It’s well spent, believe me!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Great Indian Blame Game!!!!!

I often wonder and at times discuss this with close friends, why do we always end up finding a scapegoat - real or otherwise, to blame for our failures?

The failures could be as trivial as reaching late for a movie show or a meeting, it could sometimes be as serious as breaking down a relationship and you can count anything in between these extremes. We end up finding a scapegoat (mostly anyone other than ourselves) who can be blamed for the failure.

A little bit of introspection and soul searching most times does point the finger back to ourselves, but where egos are mighty and heads heavy, wiser sense rarely prevails. A scape goat is quickly found and publicised to the wide world. Soon messages are floated around to near and dear ones explaining how because of someone else i got sidelined from a certain promotion or i missed my flight or my wife ran away etc.

A blame game indeed!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Power of Trust...

I have read somewhere that Trust can get you a lot of desirable affects and I am probably the great benefactor of being able to trust people.

I have always had tough situations looking me in the eye and there have been months at a stretch when I would be so hard pressed and under intense pressure. In crude Hindi a friend and me would always joke about it saying it happens so often that instead of god, there was a Jack Ass writing down my destiny while God took a break.

Now when I look back, it all seems so easy and straight forward, very seldom, I even felt like conning myself into believing that I did it, I did it on my own. Of course when the drink was over and sanity prevailed, I knew I was just part of it all and a lot of it got done because of the kind of people I had around me, especially those on my team.

Trust is a function of Competency and Character and once the trust is built, things just move so smoothly, communication lines are clear as a whistle, people feel a lot of freedom and the overall achievements go up significantly. I have cases where we have achieved so much more with a trust based approach that I would personally want it to be deployed everywhere.

The challenge for me has always been in promising more delivering even more with lesser resources. I believe a good way to start of is to inculcate a feeling of trust in the team that you have and then watch the magic work.

And yes someday I would learn to turn it around where people also start trusting me a lot more than some of them do today, especially on the personal front :)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Woman's Day - 2 close friends

On the eve of this woman’s day (08 March 2008), as I sent a message to my team and few other colleagues, my mind could not help but ponder over the past one year and think about 2 specific friends.

Person A is a young, energetic girl all of 24 who started her career on my team. A brave girl who stood up to her convictions amidst lot of opposition and trial from parents, relatives and all else.

Person B is a competent professional, thinks she is smart and has all the things figured out. A mature woman of 27-28 who could not stand up to her own convictions, flip flopped on decisions to land many people close to her in agony. Today she is little else than a wreck living under constant vigil, supervision and threat to family and close ones including few friends.

When we talk about women’s liberalization and coming of age, How big a role does education, job security, money and power play? Well in all this, Person A is less educated, relatively younger and therefore probably a little less mature(?), earns a whole lot lesser than Person B in pure money terms.

I felt it was the clarity of thought and conviction, the power to stand up to yourself and for yourself, the ability to resist what was wrong without bothering to think who it was coming from is what sets Person A apart.

Person A and Person B are my close friends and will remain so for ever, Person A is like my little sister and was a personal favorite too (I never told her this while she worked for me, also I believe that Great/Good Managers too can have personal favorites!!!).

I am proud of both of them as friends but I feel a lot better when I see, meet and hear about Person A. I wish Person B could one day build up the courage and conviction to stand up and be counted for the sake of all those women who are waiting to fight for themselves.