Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do you like Bangalore now?

Amidst a conversation with a friend that started with a "One night stand and women"; the conversation digressed when I was unexpectedly asked "Do you like Bangalore now?"

A rooted Bangalorean or Bengaluru-ean now by heart and soul; who has ditched career opportunities that could have worked my way outside the city and the country, i was mulling over this unexpected question. I was not born in Bangalore; I was born in Mumbai when my parents went there on a vacation. But my connection with Mumbai just ends there - I have not visited the city even once. Been raised in Bangalore; my school, college, job, first love, marriage.......Bangalore has witnessed every important event in my life. I am a true blue Bangalorean who wears that pride high above.

It would be Bangalore for me throughout - sad that they wanted to do away with the anglicized name and vouched for Bengaluru. But take this - its even more funny when Robin Jackman pronounces Bengaluru :-P
My earliest memories of Bangalore are the deserted but narrow roads, rows of trees, lots of shade, blood red painted BTS (Bangalore Transport Service) buses, few double-deckers, very few vehicles on the road - one could count their numbers.

A couple of snaps of double deckers and the traffic then on http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=69283921

That pleasant weather- freezing for my relatives visiting from Chennai who would not stop shivering. I still remember the weather news on Doordarshan when Bangalore's temperature didnt go beyond 26 C on a summer day!. Wow! those were the days.......Those days the municipality were planting saplings of Mayflower tree or Gulmohar( Delonix Regia) They are the most colorful trees with flaming red flowers. When you see those trees in full bloom all around Bangalore, you know they did such a wonderful job by planting them 25 years ago :)

Shopping meant Kidskemp on serene MG road; with few people and even fewer shops. Outing meant Ulsoor Lake - pristine and clean, Lalbagh or Cubbon Park or a movie at Plaza theater - now razed out to make way for MG Road Metro Transit Terminal :-( 

Bangalore Urban had villages - the rustic villages with fields and cattle. The unique aroma coming from the cowshed - of dung and milk, the dry scent of the hay stacked besides, the aroma of wet soil in a ragi field, men lazing around, women gossiping. While industries cropped up slowly but steadily. The BEML, HAL, BEL, ISRO, BHEL had all started their operations few years ago or they were just beginning during the early 80s.

Yeah so do I like Bangalore now? Without a doubt yes! Why wouldn't I? Agree that Bangalore has undergone lotta changes, some for good, some for bad. The growth explosion had pushed Bangalore beyond its capacity with respect to infrastructure, civic issues, commute and cost of living. People....well...people are not relaxed anymore; they are all busy. Happens with any other city right? They are here today and gone 'blip' tomorrow ;-)  The charm of the city still lingers if you are ready to look beyond the malls and the multiplexes and the food joints. When I roam around this city, I can feel the old charm lurking in which only the privilege would get to see it and experience................

The spirit of Bangalore...err...Bengaluru :-)

PS : I am wondering why I did not think of writing about my city all these days. :-/

Friday, May 27, 2011

Twinkle in your Wrinkle

OK so you are the grand old man who has seen life. You put in a lot of effort throughout. You were the 6-7-8th child of your parents-walked miles to attend school-were brought up in a remote village with no basic amenities-studied under street lamps-pedaled further more miles to attend college-struggled to get 3 square meals a day-worked very had to get a job.

It took your 10 years of diligent savings to buy a 165 liter fridge; you saved like a sparrow and bought a scooter with your lifetime savings, each day was a struggle to make your ends meet. You made sure your kids got a good education and life so that they dont have to struggle the way you did and they could fulfill their dreams.

You have seen so much in life and gone through hell a lot of pain which taught you life's important lessons. It taught you to be sober and wiser. It taught you to be judgmental and patient. You have met a lot of people through your life's journeys; learnt a lot; been hurt a lot. You lost everything but mended up again; picked up pieces. The grays on your whatever left hair, those wrinkles on your lovely face, the so obvious paunch weave tales of your struggle, diligence and hard work and loads of experience gained.


It would be wiser and gracious to use that experience to help the younger generation, no? You would be a man of great stature if you graciously acknowledge their achievements and encourage them further, no? More often than not; the older lots compare their struggle and point out how easy life for kids are nowadays. You have technology at your disposal, you have swanky vehicles, gizmos and gadgets.....yes, agreed boss. But is this our mistake? It would seem foolish to walk that 5 miles to office just because you guys did so.

"We struggled for jobs and these kids nowadays start with a 5 figure paycheck" - I have heard these umpteen times. Dear old grandpa and grandma, you heard of inflation? Oh forget that slimy inflation worm. Do you have an idea of the pressure we undergo? The competition? The rat race?

Nah, according to you, everything comes easy for us - we are invited to take up jobs, we are invited for a pay rise, for promotion, we are gifted cars...We dont work hard, we dont realize the value of money, no? You are confused between 'attitude' and 'confidence'. A girl after hard day at work asking for some breathing space in a crowded bus is arrogant. Why? Just because she said the gray haired man "Sir, please go inside. We dont have sufficient space for ourselves" It was her decent way of saying "Stop rubbing against me". But you start abusing her, commenting about her character and how easy its for kids to just join a call center and get paid handsomely.

Now dont take me wrong. This incident actually happened. I dont say all are narrow-minded sticking to their old values and beliefs. There are so many men and women out there who have graciously made way for the younger folks, nurturing them with their experiences and appreciating them on their achievements. But when they fail to move out of their era, things get uncomfortable and worse - hostile.

Experience is there to share and guide, not to criticize and complain, no? Let there be a twinkle in your wrinkle :-) 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Those 3 hours

Well, yesterday was an interesting day...of sorts.

Started early to work in order to attend a mandatory training on intellectual property. Carried my breakfast of idi appams and unni appams.

Just decided on the fly to watch Pirates of the Caribbean - 4 post lunch. My 3 team mates and me - the movie was superb and Johnny Depp was impossible. I so love him even more now; after him being unfaithfully faithful to Angelica in the movie :)

Came home at 6:45; tried unlocking the front door. Thats when I doubted if the bunch of keys I carried had a key to the front door. Tried...tried...tried....remembered Robert Bruce's "Try try until you succeed" phrase and kept trying.....in vain. I remember unlocking the door with a key from this bunch. Tried again and again; realized I really had the wrong bunch.

Called up Velu, he was not picking the call; should be in Yoga session. 1 more hour before he can pick up the calls. It was raining, I was not dressed to be seated on the floor comfortably - Skin tight jean trousers; why am I in them in such situations always? Called up a friend and spoke for a while as I kept loitering but soon realized I need to save the battery charge. Hung up and chatted a while with a friend. She left for dinner.

Sat about for a while and was drowning myself in self realization. It turned out that I found myself insanely stupid, arrogantly confident, emotionally foolish and a hopeless seeker of care. It seemed better to remain ignorant so I dismissed the idea. Though I did have some arguments and counter-arguments on love. Let me save that for another post. 

I had 3 street dogs for company; not for long, just for few minutes, they were either scared or wary. They ran away.  I generally carry a book to read with me; today I did not have one. I carry a USB modem with me to connect to internet; I left it back at home. I sat for a while until my bum started aching. Got an idea! Thought of going to a supermarket and buy some stuffs to read and eat.

Realized it was raining. My tank top was thin and without sleeves, all I had was a thin bandana; wrapped it around and walked in the rain to the supermarket. Browsed for books, all they had were few magazines - fashion, auto, political, technology. decor, travel...Aaaah travel! I picked up a travel magazine and some buns. Outside in a push cart was a vendor selling boiled peanuts. Steaming peanuts in the rain..Heavenly. I packed some and got back.

Though the dogs were not hostile towards me, they were reluctant to come near me. So I thought feeding them would rest their doubts about me. They devoured the buns happily, I think they liked the jam inside the buns more. One of them came near me and I stroked its head for few seconds. They all ran away once again. I came back and seated myself comfortably, munching in the only leftover - peanuts and reading the magazine.

For someone whose passion is traveling, this magazine gave immense joy - Ladakh, Leh, Himachal, Bhutan, Goa, Kodai, Coorg, Ethiopia, Munnar, Kochi.......visualising myself in all these places. Read them all, seated idle. I hear the occasional chatter of the neighbors, while I browse my phone for mails and other updates. Read few latest blog posts while waiting for Velu to arrive.

It was 3 hours before he came. Pain in the bum was all that was left.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


If you have friends whose friends are studying in US universities or friends who complete their MS in US or friends who have got exported as bride getting married to a H1B holder - you will sympathize with me.

Yeah success is to flaunt. I know! But showing off as if everything is honey and cake is foolish no? Havent you tasted success at home? Didnt you work hard enough to taste that success? Since last week I have been seeing graduation photos being shared on facebook. The universities names were NOT delicious. I did not see a UCLA or a Georgia Tech or a Stanford. Let me get straight to the point. I want to ask few questions to no one in particular.

Why not celebrate by uploading college passing photos while in India? Dont tell me Facebook did not exist. 
Why dont you put up photos of the dishes you prepared while in India? Dont tell me you didnt cook while here at all!

Oh! Oh! not to forget the girls. I will call a spade a spade - few of them are good for nothing. They pay for an engineering seat, have year-backs and arrears. They seem so miserable when they force themselves to get a degree in engineering when they dont have that aptitude. Couple of years down the lane, get married to a US H1B visa holder and fly straight to Silicon Valley or New Jersey or Boston or Texas or Raleigh ;-)

Does it end there? Nah! "Had a lovely Saturday watching moon rise in Half Moon Bay holding hands together" Boy! oh boy! dont we have a moon out here? Or dont we have a bay out here? Or is it the moral police that restrict you from holding hands?

"Lazy Sunday morning. Wifey relaxed. Got her cereals and juice. Love you dear"...How romantic!
And the wifey "likes" the status and comments "The breakfast was delicious sweetheart. Mmmuuahh"

:-/ Forget all this...you buy an i-gizmo and show off....We too get them here sir!

Painting a rosy picture that everything's well is making a fool out of oneself, isn't it? It irks me whenever I see such fake updates. Are you that jobless and cant keep your hands and legs idle? You post some picture in an exotic location and wait for Likes and Oohs and Wows. I know; I have a dream to visit that place sometime; but...but.....

I wanted to write about this for a while. Why am I writing this now?  A group of young fellas(friends of friend) aged between 22-25 going to celebrate their graduation were all spot dead in Missouri. The parents could not even fetch their bodies to India. Its not easy; its a struggle - the wretched life there. Expensive living, do-all-yourself, work, pressure of sending money back home..........

And yet you buy a third/forth/fifth whatever hand 1997 Corolla and yap off as if you are all so happy. No one is happy! no one can be happy. I know you are secretly counting your days there and given a chance would want to catch the first flight back home...only to come here and exclaim "Aww the traffic, the crowd....disgusting" You were born here right? You spent most of your life in this very place with traffic and crowd. You just go there for 2 years and your very home becomes alien!

Wake up folks, stop fooling.............yourself. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Niagara Falls

This was mid 2006. My first visit to US on work; overwhelming, shocking and too much to handle is what I would use to sum up my experience those 4 months. It got to a point when I forced my way out when asked to extend my stay.

The travel bug in me was born then..I visited quite few places - Niagara on the US-Canadian border being one of them. The falls were majestic and grand. More than the falls itself; I thoroughly enjoyed the 406 miles drive from NYC to Niagara through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. The rains, the lush landscape and the chill weather was heavenly and worth the experience.

The mist that forms due to the force of the falls is visible from miles and miles - the hovering smoke and the water drops suspended in the air! The manicured walk path, the cruise and the close proximity to the falls lets you realize the power of nature. Once again, I realized how trivial we are! Almost everyone who visits Niagara dont return without taking the Maid of the Mist boat ride and the Cave of the Winds tour.

Stay there till late evening to witness the illumination of the falls by floodlights from the Canadian side. Cross the Rainbow Bridge to enter Canada and stroll around Ontario; watching the falls from the observation deck of Skylon tower is a beautiful experience.

Here are few pictures. I had to dig in through my archives :)

Outskirts of NYC.

The US-Canadian border

American falls. Reached post 5 and the light was dull. 

Horse shoe falls

Rainbow Bridge

Skylon Tower.

Sunset over Ontario sky

Monday, May 16, 2011

We are better

Note : Its a satire..Yeah I need to explicitly mention it; my earlier experience tells me so.. This is a conversation between me and my alter-ego.

The Americans can have their way. If they can do it, why can't we?

Now what is this blabber about? 

Terrorists.....Osama. He was hunted down and killed even without a trial.

Are you saying it was wrong?

You see, there is nothing like a right or a wrong. What is right for me, could be wrong for you and vice versa.

Are you the alter-ego or me?What is your concern?

The Indian government has listed 50 most wanted terrorists and all are based out of Pakistan. The media is asking why cannot we do a America-like operation to eliminate Dawood.

We cant. They could do because they are Americans; with billions of dollars of aid being given to Pakistan. They can afford to do it! They gave a new lease of life to the Afghans by driving out the Russians. They have been aiding Pakistan against the war on terror. So they can break the sovereignty of a country; raid a town and kill a terror mastermind. We cant....Period.


Dont sulk. We Indians have done much better things to worry about not being able to mimic an American way.


Like....winning the Cricket World Cup!


OK! Like sacrificing Mallika Sherawat to Hollywood. 

Eeewwww we are better off than having her here!

Oh ok! Like inventing the ZERO! 

Oh! Ohhh!!!

Nah its not Oh! Ohhh!! Its 0 as in 2-O-O-O in Two thousand.

I am still not convinced.

Why dont you accept that we have given the world far better stuffs to lead a good standard of living?

Give me one good point to agree.



Yeah Ass-jet. We have a simpler and cleaner way to wash than wiping off our asses with papers! 

Yeah! You are right! Hail the Ass-jet!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I have always restricted myself from publishing offbeat posts. Offbeat for me - my personal state of being or random ramblings. It is not that I have been predictable. I dont like to be predictable; it gives me an insatiable pleasure when I do things off the track; off the mundane path - only to do something more to satisfy my thirst. If it is current affairs for some time; it would be humor and fiction other days or I would enjoy throwing in few verses of what I would call poetry. With respect to what I post here - I refrain from writing about my personal stuffs; rather on subjects that people can relate to and share their views on them. There is that sense of satisfaction when you learn and let others learn as well.

These being my thoughts; I never attempt to write about things going on with me. Either I think its too trivial and normal or I tend to think people might think I am flaunting. Amrit suggested I write about my home and I was dismissing the idea supporting with reasons that the readers might think I am showing off. But he encouraged me to go ahead and convinced me that it wont be a show off.

Anyway today I just want to write about nothing in general; but just write. What you call letting your hair down once in a while. I have never been busy ever in my life; that I can say "I didnt find time". For me 24 hours is sufficient; but I do tend to give the ever tried and tested "No time" excuse if I am not able to do something for different reasons - be it lack of interest, contemplation or favorable space. Now that its lean period at work; free for next 1 month at the minimum, I have been wondering what do I do to kill my time.

I am known for procrastinating for indefinite period. I was supposed to join Spanish classes and I am yet to. Prior to that I inquired about Tanjore painting classes and was prepared to join but I had to travel out of country on work and later when I came back; I just left at that. I was thinking of joining some photography classes to learn the techniques and make use of my beast(Nikon D7000) better. Thats also in back burner now. I could brush up my skills or learn some new stuffs at work. I am not doing them either.

I have all the time in the world. Even otherwise I had time. It makes me wonder if people are really that busy when they say they have no time. Is it that they cant manage time or that they are inefficient or is something wrong with me? If you folks remember I used to post regularly while in US even with my hands full with work. But this ability to find time for everything intimidates me. One of my blogger friend mentioned that she is not finding time to write! and here I was finding so much time. I could keep writing; my other personality told me "Stop! Dont post frequently! Are you that jobless?"

I know of many bloggers who have quit blogging due to lack of time. Will it ever happen to me? Or will I quit writing when I dont find anything substantial to write anymore or when I feel my quality is demeaning? Or what if something happens to me? What will happen to my 270+ posts? Who will hold the copyright? Who will manage there on?

Many such thoughts....about life, love, respect, purpose in life among other worries like "why is the rose bud taking these many days to bloom?" or "when will they restore my internet connection?" or "how to make place for a new pair of shoes?". There are other serious worries as well about loan and career and family and such. But they dont give me sleepless nights as the rose bud or lack of space for a new pair of shoes would give. But life goes on among all these worries. Each day I see this caretaker's family living in a makeshift made from tarpaulin in our apartment's car parking area.  The family worked as construction laborers and now are assisting the builder in another project. 2 kids - a girl and a boy. They are always cheerful; the family always happy. They cook outside using wood. Its the way of the world that those who construct houses for others have no roof under them. But I find them contended; I gave away a doll and soft balls to those kids and the smile on their faces was worthless.

They dont have to worry about which toy to choose to play with - the only one is their precious one. Their parents dont have to worry about curtains and drapes to adorn their makeshift home. They have 3 dogs for company. They form such a lovely community. The lady comes running to open the gates when we take our car out. The girl comes to fetch the garbage every morning. I feel uncomfortable. When she came this morning I gave her a pack of biscuits and sweetly told her I would take care of the garbage. I told them not to do such service for me and that I dont like anybody doing my work. I feel embarrassed; hope they understood. What is wrong in cleaning your own dirt?

For few more days I think I will have lot of thoughts pondering in my mind; time to reflect and act on few things. I cant keep my mind idle. As I ponder and reflect, I will continue to learn.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Smile Please

When God created Eve from a rib he took off Adam's; it sure would not have been the funny bone. Why else would women be glum; be the butt of jokes cracked by men? Indian women cannot comply and unable to have a laugh. Why? Witnessing Sonia G clapping her hands and punching her fists in the air while grinning when India won the semi-finals against Pakistan in the World Cup was a Haley Comet phenomenon.

Well, its premature to mention only Indian women. A Japanese-American colleague of mine shared an incident that happened during her first visit to Japan. Having born and raised in the USA; she could not quite grasp the tradition of being prim and proper. She laughed out loud during a family gathering and the entire group went aghast. She was later coached by her mom. After that incident; she always closed her mouth with her palms while laughing and the noise never came out. We were sharing such similar stories and practices that went beyond geographical boundaries.

 To talk about women and humor is an oxymoron. I studied in a girls convent run by Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny. I dont remember having seen the sisters smile or laugh. They seemed dour and pale. I often used to wonder if no-smile was their prerogative. It also sort of fueled in ideas that nuns have had bitter experiences in their life and thus they chose nun-hood and that earlier life has deemed them sullen for the rest of their life :-| I know I was so innocent then.

Politicians - as I am talking about women here; women politicians in India deserve a special mention. Will they have the heart to laugh if someone made a mockery of them? Women in power believe they are in control of everything and hence remain stern.

How often does one hear fearless uninhibited laughter in public? I would think twice before doing so myself. Its a serious matter as men in our society who see women laugh so easily is an easy catch. Almost every other lady would wish for a man who can make her laugh. Why not wish for a man who can laugh at her jokes? Men do not accept a smart women cracking intelligent jokes either; they get intimidated.

Now this does not mean women never laugh. Dont we erupt into a wicked laughter when we hear the neighbor's car had a break down? Our tele-serials have such scenes every other day. This is an ugly trait. Do we lack the lightness to laugh at ourselves? Is our humor hackneyed? Will I laugh it off if someone makes fun of my restless behavior? Is it that we are not comfortable with ourselves?

Seems so....

Friday, May 6, 2011

We Serve

Our country and our people are known for hospitality and service. Few smart men realized how this innate quality of us Indians can be transformed into an entrepreneurial opportunity; thus the birth of service industry which we are so proud of and has been fetching us money; market growth and helping many of us to lead a decent standard of living.

The service industry started with IT and spread its horizon across medical, knowledge, biotechnology, banking, finance, law......Are we really hospitable? Are we service oriented? Indians are known to be polite, understanding and serve with care. Well, take another look Maybe the commercialization has ripped our quality of its sheen.

No one has time and the resource to channelize; at least in the after sales/service sector. Its all candy and honey when you first try to acquire a new product - be it internet service, a new car or a telephone connection. You are promised freebies, assistance at any hour of the day and other sweet-nothings. The marketing guys must be spending time in grooming their communication etiquette and learning the art of charming.

Once the money reaches their hands; thats that. You are at their mercy to get things working. "Sir, I am just sales, I dont know technical things. My customer service will get back to you". Numerous calls to the customer service, each time talking to a different person and trying to explain your problem beginning with history is sure going to wear you out. When 'they' trust their computer database history records more than the trust on fellow human beings, its more of walking on nails.Numerous follow-ups before you buy a product and not even a corpse to care after you have bought them! They behave as if they are doing you a favor and you dont have a choice but at their mercy.

Its obvious that the chunk of their funds goes in hiring famous celebrities to market their product. When it comes to customer service, it takes a U-turn. Incapable agents, poor communication, commitment less and more. Raise a complaint and they raise a ruckus! The service person attending to you is going to take it personally and try to convince you with a "Mistakes do happen". I wonder if such lax attitude is allowed when Indian service companies serve offshore clients? I have heard of stories when these executives get abused by clients at the first chance of knowing they are being attended to by Indians.

An after sales service is as important as selling a product. Its not a favor or a charity but part of business. You not only pay for the product but for services as well. Not to blame the executives but the policy of companies have to be changed. Why are these companies not giving importance to service as they give it to marketing?

There are reasons. We are not taken seriously. The "I'll adjust" attitude - they can get away. The service policy is not defined and if defined not adhered to. Mistake is not theirs alone. How about us? Give us a penny and we rob the bank!. Dont we take advantage of anything free?

Imagine having a 90 day return policy as in USA? What would we do? Each one knows the answer. Somehow its ironical that the best service industry is in India and we cater to the world when we cannot cater to our needs.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

House to Home

Last couple of months were tiring. It was then that I realized what does it mean when people say "making a home". Apart from your sweat and blood that goes into it without saying, the feeling of your own nest, personal and private is an emotional affair. There is no sweeter cake than having your own home; even if you have been fortunate enough to inherit from your parents. Though that sort of fortune was not bestowed upon, I am thankful it did not happen that way.

Else how can one know what goes into making a home or the experiences gained out of it? How else would one appreciate how talented the workforces are whom we label as menial? The electrician who quickly solves the puzzling circuit or the plumber who figures out how the fancy nuts and bolts work. The painter's and the carpenter's hard work to make the house aesthetic.

The joy which is going to remain forever when you choose and plan carefully each and every minute detail of the interiors; personalize it and then you realize the emotions it involves. A friend in the early stages told me not to get emotionally attached with the house. If you get a good price, sell it and move on". Makes sense, yet when you get a sense of belonging, you do want to  make it the best; which you can relate to and then it becomes a HOME.

Started planning for interiors 2 months ago and finally its done. Wanted it to be tasteful but simple and elegant. Umpteen visits to numerous shops to choose the furniture, lights, fittings, curtains, drapes and other stuffs, tiring and hectic yet refreshing and joyful. Home finally done. Here are few pictures.

Master Bedroom

Second bedroom

Living room


My favorite piece - Crystal Chandelier


Dining Area

My collectibles from Costa Rica and Mauritius; did not find a place initially; later placed them all in the partition underneath the glass of the dining table.

One of the balconies.

For keepsakes and by popular demand :-D

PS : Thanks Amrit for encouraging me to write about my home and for suggesting the Post Title :-)