Saturday, March 31, 2012

Women and Ambiguity

Its a universal known truth that women cant be straight forward isn't it? We throw a hint and expect the man to pick up the clue. But how do women deal with ambiguity?

I mean its equally difficult for us as well. I am talking out more in terms of my professional experience than personal. Some are trained to read in between the lines, to understand body language but why cant one say it in plain language?

I have realized that ambiguity is what leads to stress. You do not know what to do, what to expect and what not to do. You tread that path in confusion and doubt. Is it tough to say "Look! I need you to step up since I have future plans for your growth" than asking "why don't you do this...that...? Otherwise even in personal life; why should it be complicated? Communication is dangerous as equally as being helpful.

Anyway. getting back to professional life. I have heard women cant handle ambiguity. Ambiguity is a prime factor while in leadership role. Its easy if things are binary but what starts you guessing and in turn stressing out is when there is no definitive expectations, role, responsibilities call whatever you want to.

How do you handle "You will be held responsible for his failure" and yet be told "Don't tell him what to do"

Isnt that crazy? I have heard of things like these in corporate world. It seems men can handle such situations better than women. Hmm, maybe they just take it easy or can draw out the black and white from the gray.

Enough ranting for today :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What Four??

I was aware that I complete 4 years of blogging this month. I also did search for my first post to keep a tab on the date so as to not to miss my blog anniversary.

But as expected I missed it. Signs of growing old. Balan and Anil, fret not; my generation of people grow old sooner; so you guys are younger to me :D

Well, it was yesterday I successfully complete 4 years of blogging. The blog is mature; the author mature; she has grown beyond counting comments and followers. Here is my very first post

Wings to my thoughts...

Phew!!!! I created this blog of mine about a year back. I stopped at that. I almost forgot abut this blog.
I have always wanted to pen down things that happen around me, things that influence me, makes me think about it for a moment.simple things like me smiling and waving a "Hi" to the dog that has made my street its world(oh yeah..I wish the dog everyday..I will write about this later) to serious and tough things I get to face.
Somehow I have always backed off from pouring out my thoughts, but why? Yaaawwwnn...same old lame omni-present reason. NO TIME, and coupled with this my fear..
Whatever.. there is a beginning at one point of time. And this is it. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. Ciao...

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and encouragement; I have come to know few good people who will be my friends for the rest of my life. That's a lot satisfying.

Thanks again :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya was picturesque with English bungalows and cottages, manicured lawns, pristine lakes and horse riding. The interior were like an English country side with those cute Jersey cows grazing those green grass, milk diary where one could savor fresh cream and cheese...

Its nice to see the English bungalows preserved and functional as hotels and guest houses.

English period Post office, still functional

Says "A Handyside & Co.Ltd, Derby, England" Thats how old this post box grand pa is

Horton Plains; it was a velvety green carpet. I was excited; got out of the car, ran towards it and held the wired fence; only to be thrown back :) It was an electrical fence.

A nearly abandoned railway station. 

On the way back from Horton plains; which was 35 kms from the town, the color of the sky changed from blue to pink to orange to crimson...Never seen such myriad colors on the sky ever before!! 

A pristine lake

Finally this, the speck is the moon

 Gregory Lake

A grazing ground for horses; front of the colonial hotel we stayed
The hotel; these sort of bungalows are converted to hotels now.

2 kms from the town is 'Seeta Eliya'. Tale says that Ravana kidnapped Sita and kept her here - the Ashoka vana. Its a small temple now with idols 1000 years old as per the priest.

Behind the temple was the forest and a stream/ The rocks had tiny pits. These ones are said to be Hanuman's feet :)

Incidentally, 3 kms further we came across another signboard which said is the true cave where Sita stayed. These 2 villages have debated about which one is the original one. Took a detour and had to climb 600+ steps to reach the cave. The path was weeded, the caves really didnt have any sign, no idols or temples..but the view from the top was nice; could see the hilly country of Nuwara Eliya and Ella

 The narrow, slippery and weedy path to the cave

Inside the cave - tired and down

Devon falls on the way to Ella. 

Ravana Eliya falls on the way to Ella. The water just falls on the road; nice sight to see.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why I strive for Perfection?

Something has been bothering me for a couple of weeks. Yeah, its like that leech sucking blood out of you, bothering me in my sleep, in my dreams, in my daily routine. I am a sucker for perfection. Isn't that wrong? Or am I a sucker for complete control? Yeah, this is a better way to put that quality of mine.

Diligent worker, passionate who craves for perfection. I have been told that not everyone around me would work in the same speed as me or that I should not expect the agility or knowledge that I showcase. But why is it hard for me to slow down? I don't take pride of these qualities, because it may not do good to me.

Is it not ironical when I say such qualities might harm me? Yeah, in a corporate world you need to be individual contributor and at the same time be a team player. You need to be an effective communicator; but isn't communication effective only if the receiver interprets it the way you would like it to be? You are supposed to provide technical guidance; are reprimanded for offering advice and also for not being approachable (if people don't reach out to you).

Well, I think I am venting out my helplessness here. Anyway the basic problem here. Why do  I strive for perfection? Its not going to happen and it isn't easy to keep everyone and yourself happy. Something that has been inculcated in me by myself through the years. For someone who did not get things easy, working hard to achieve was not enough; being average was an anathema. I hear my friends telling me that I am different; is it supposed to make me happy? Hell! no I shudder.

Being told that I have done something beyond my capacity and capability; being in par with others who are probably way way experienced and senior to me worries me that I might fail somewhere down the lane. The paranoia pushes me for perfection; I magnify a trivial mistake; rehash it many times until it blows up and shows up as a scar only to me. Is there a way out of this obsessive behavior? How can others take it so easy but not me? Why do I lose sleep and punish myself for no fault of mine?

I need to let go, its also a way to achieving perfection. Why to judge something thats not in your hands? Humans are designed to have flaws, to achieve perfection is to be certain; to be certain is to be in total control; and with control comes the sense of power; forgetting oneself in the process.

As I was mulling over these since a couple of weeks, I saw an article on Sunday Times today. How perfect! Oops!  I think I realize what it is; if I am pointed at for not doing something that was expected of me, I am going to say "I will do it here after" instead of justifying what I did and why it did not work. "Let it go!" as a colleague said...yeah thats what I will do...Just let it go :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Reunion at Nuwara Eliya

Next destination after Kandy was Nuwara Eliya. I was very very particular that we do all the learning intensive trip in the beginning and chilling out and relaxing stuff later. So after brushing with history and culture, we gradually got into the relaxing mood. The first step towards it was Nuwara Eliya.

Its a hill country; got reminded of Idukki a lot seeing all those tea plantations. The colonial air is still present in the form of bungalows, post office, clubs and tea factories from that era still functional. One can wallow in its nostalgia of bygone era by visiting these buildings, old English style lawns and gardens.

Its also the only district in SL where the Indian Tamils form the majority with over 50% of the population. They are mostly tea plantation workers whose ancestors were brought to SL by the British from India in 19th century.

The icing on the cake was my husband's reunion with his ancestral family. His mom's ancestors probably migrated from India to work in tea factories and plantations. All his cousins but my husband and his siblings were born in Lanka. He tells me stories that his mom shared with them. They moved back to India in 1972 due to the pressure by then Bhandarnaike government to leave their country. So even though it was their land and they were born there; it seemed they had to surrender their land, property, assets and their earnings and flee their country or else were threatened to "be skinned alive and wear the skin as slippers". Such announcements were made until people fled. So his grandparents left the country with their kids; traveled by train to Mannar and boarded a ship back to India to never return. Its so ironical and sad for Indian Tamils since they were tricked by the British and forcefully hoarded them to work as plantation workers in other countries and now the so called rightful owners of the land, the real descendants of the Lord wanting the 'aliens' to leave so that they can cleanse themselves!!

Anyway, so one of the hidden agenda for my husband was to touch base and initiate contact with long lost family. He made sure that we had Nuwara Eliya in our plan even though I insisted its going to be like Idukki which we have visited numerous times. All we knew was information provided by his cousin who had a faded memory since he left the country when he was 10 years old. We knew the name of the estate they worked and searched for the estate; we traveled 40 kms from the town seeking directions before we found the estate; thanks to our Sri Lankan friend Indika who was sweet. Talked to few people outside the factory and tried to see if anyone identifies with one name who was probably staying/stayed there. After half hour, someone identified the name and we got the lead. I and Indika could not help but notice his joy of meeting his relatives; Indika felt a sense of elation as well for being part of the experience and satisfaction for having helped Velu meet his relatives. I always believe whatever happens its for good. I saw the conditions of his relatives and other Indian Tamils and until now; they were treated as war criminals. They were suppressed, harassed and always looked with suspicion as heard from his third cousin. Its obvious when you see their eyes sparkle as soon as we said we are from India and we know Tamil. Lot of questions, quest to know about their ancestral country, a map of TN adorning walls; they are more Tamils than Lankans.
My husband's relatives are living in a shanty house, probably the ones existing since early 1900s, no improvements, poor standard of living. There was disbelief, surprise, realization, happiness and longing to visit India and their relatives. If not for an old lady who recognized his mom; we would not have found them. His mom's parents might have left the country with a heavy heart but their children and their grand children definitely have a life worth dying for!

Whom to blame? The innocent Indians who were tricked by British? The cunning British? or the vicious so called real locals of the land?

Related post : No country for good men

The Estate - faintly remembered by his cousin

The Tea factory of the estate. Operational since 1940s

The broken road leading to the factory

The row of houses; the house in which his relatives stay was frequented by his mom when she was kid during 1960s

With the folks. 

I promise to post picturesque Nuwara Eliya in my next post :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

UP Engineer who also knows Kannada

The twitter world is abuzz with tweets screaming "An engineer from a college in Mysore", "CM who knows Kannada" and such.

ET screamed an article with headline "Cyber world hails UP Engineer who also knows Kannada". I would have left it at that had I not been provoked to comment about this.

First, surprised that ET's article header screams UP Engineer who also knows Kannada. Is there hidden sarcasm? If not, is being an engineer or knowing a south Indian language an added qualification?

Well, I think I am reading too much into this. But here are my views.
  • Its not usual to come across a person from the north who knows a south Indian language...Hmm I don't think so. 
  • Or because they claim he has not forgotten the language even after leaving the state of Karnataka - maybe as this is very unusual.
  • Its more unusual for an engineer who knows Kannada getting into politics (Why not a nice techie job in somewhere in Silicon Valley :-P) 
  • Celebrating the spirit of Bangalore because Akhilesh understands "Swalpa adjust madi"
Whatever, we have come to such a level that any professionally qualified person with other skills who gets into  politics is deemed welcoming. Yeah the young CM will be tech savvy, he can talk to kisans while he taps his iPad with ease. He is easily accessible on Facebook. He understands the pulse of the youth and knows the importance of development and education.

I hope there will be no jugads or Swalpa adjust madi

Friday, March 9, 2012

After the storm....Is a Myna

Obviously its a Lull! A flurry of activities, energy sucking discussions and decisions, revisiting strategies and agreeing on a common ground and then all set and seems like an anti-climax....At work! Done with a major deliverable. All these days I didn't know when the sun set or when it rose, but now it seems I can hear every tiny sound and feel every little thing around me.

So I have been sleeping at work most noons only to be woken up around 3:15 Pm everyday by a myna. We moved to a new building within the campus and I sit beside the window. She (I am assuming its a she) promptly comes everyday post 3 and sits by singing and cooing. The glass partitions us. I observe her body language, she nods, she turns, she supposedly expands herself and calls.... The tiny feathers around her head spread like a porcupine and again they settle. She cackles and it continues. Its a pleasant and welcome break to watch her perform and hear her chuckle instead of staring at the laptop and engrossed in work.

Little bit of movement, she flies away. So I am very careful not to move; sometimes she has another one for company and then there are pigeons as well.  I did click few pictures today but as there is a glass division; the picture did not come clear. I am planning to open the glass pane a bit and feed her grains everyday. Lets see. To keep her company, I can keep my fish bowl on the sill. I have 2 Platis and 4 crabs. I am planning on adding more fishes. A hamster will complete this family at work :)

Its nice to have life around you - plants, fishes, butterflies, cockroaches and lizards even. The pale dry cubicle of mine which boasts of privacy with  high cube walls are anything but inviting. It creates a barrier between people. You knock on a cube before walking inside; stand outside the cube while talking; feel guilty about disturbing are all something I don't approve. But yeah software companies workplaces are such! Cant help! So the better way is to have these creatures around you. The birds chirp, the fishes gliding in the water; those clunks when the crabs move around in the glass bowl, watching the plants grow and the happiness in watering them or feeding the fishes or crabs replaces the paleness and dullness.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What NOT to ask

Well, you do have overly concerned relatives and colleagues who are your well wishers. You get advices in abundance and suggestions galore. The session of suggestion or advice starts post few queries. You are shot with questions in full view of the public; without even a wee bit of sensibility; you are so garishly embarrassed that you would love to have a flying carpet to vanish from there or just wish the person's head blew up and the pieces just flew out in all directions!

Has it ever happened to you? Zillion times eh?

Its not just about marriage or salary. Its more than that. An aunty with a sweet smile will inquire "How many kids?" "A straight face - "Not yet". Lips pressed tight, gives such  dirty look and says "Oh! Why? Worried about losing your beauty huh?" If not the beauty its about the money "How much do you want to earn? No one is going to ask you how many cars you have or what property you have. They will always ask how many kids?" And then an age old proverb and then blah...blah...blah.....

Or see a seasoned techie and exclaim "Oh! you are not a manager yet!" It happens only in India. If you have for 7+ years in software and if you are not a manager; all hell breaks loose. You are deemed incompetent, unfit...Any amount of explanation about you not inclined towards management goes unheard. There is a twitch, a smirk! and then whenever you show up in a gathering, you can hear whispers and odd looks.

Similarly ONSITE opportunities. A baggy trouser-ed bespectacled uncle  will ask you "Your company didn't send you to Amrica?" If you are in software field and have not gone to America on work; boy! oh boy! you are so unfit!!! My mom's biggest work off late is explaining why I chose not to go to America for work to her sisters. She gets snubbed by her sister that I (that's me) don't have it in me to work in USA. My mother is disappointed and she calls me. I have a hearty laugh! Most of them don't realize that the skilled ones remain in homeland because what really happens onsite is this.

Anyway how to deal with it? Just look into their eyes and say "None of your business" and follow it with a sweet smile :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012


As we entered the city limits of Kandy; the roads got narrower and crowded; I really did not like the crowd after having just visited the ancient cities of Dambulla, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura and Polannaruwa.

Passed through an ancient bridge built by the British across the Kandy river. I understood that Kandy was also a British colony. But the famous landmark is the Dalida Maligawa - The Temple of Tooth Relic.

Its the temple most sacred to Buddhists as the tooth of Buddha is housed; it plays an important role in politics as they believe whoever holds the relic holds the country's governance (Remember the temples of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa which the tooth relic?)  The temple in itself is interesting as the temple is surrounded by a moat. This was the first time I have ever seen a temple surrounded by moat. The temple is housed within the palace complex and the moat was first level of safety. The Kandy lake is a place to relax and it is there right in the middle of the business district.

Visited the temple in the morning but it was a rushed one; thanks solely to the guide who rushed us through the temple since he had to get another visitor! So visited the temple again that evening. The chamber which houses the tooth relic is open thrice a day and visitors throng to get a glimpse of the golden casket adorned with rubies and pearls and emeralds.  What mesmerized me was the temple music that is played when the chamber remains open. I spent sometime watching the drums and bugles being played; it was relaxing.

A stroll around the city; Kandy is on higher altitude so evening and mornings are bit chilly. Watched the local dance performances in the evening. Good drinks to wash away the night and a stroll around the lake as the lakes gleam.

The central district of Kandy

A small church opposite to the pub we visited.

Pub was a cool place. One of the room's walls were filled with autobiography of visitors to Sri Lanka.

The terrace and its ambiance seemed to be a sophisticated place to hang out. Thats what I thought so; until I got a call from a bank last month mentioning that they will dispatch a new card with new numbers immediately as they believe my card will be used in a fraudulent way since it was swiped to pay for at the Pub, Kandy :-/

Sri Dalida Maligawa. The complex has the last king of Kany's palace until British took over - He was an Indian from the south. He converted to Buddhism as only Buddhists can rule the kingdom. The complex also has audience hall, a museum which houses taxidermy remains of the first elephant Raja to carry the casket, a church of British time, few other smaller Hindu temples

See the moat?

Lot of stories around the tooth relic. How it was stolen by an Indian Hindu king and how it was brought back to Sri Lanka by a queen who hid it under her bun of hair....Hindus are portrayed as villains to Buddhism in all the stories I heard right from day 1.

The chamber overheard houses the tooth relic. 4 huge tusks guard the room.

The temple musicians play drums and bugles. Its somewhat similar to the music played in the temples of Kerala.

The casket which holds the tooth relic.

A picture of the casket.

A temple elephant - it was swaying left and right and it sort of looked cute.

We decided to walk behind the temple off the track. Behind is the Udawatta forest. A local official just mentioned in passing that if we took a particular route; we can see the temple tuskers. They have been left in the forest as it was breeding season. We were cautioned to keep silent. As we climbed further, we saw Indi Raja. Indi Raja or Indira raja was gifted to the temple by Rajiv Gandhi in 1988. The tusker was 8 years old then. Indi Raja is the chosen tusker to carry the casket of tooth relic in procession during Esala Perahera (the festival of tooth).

We saw few other tuskers as we went further into the forest. One of them was Kaveri Raja of Mysore Zoo gifted by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001

Kandy Lake. The Queen's bath is seen on the right; currently its the police headquarters specially for the temple police.

Lake at night

Watched Kandyan folk and classical dances. The dance does not have complicated or intricate mudras like our own classical dances but it was a treat to watch. There were different types of dances like peacock dance, conch dance, fire dance, cobra dance etc. Few pictures here

Raban dance is a dance with drums as property. As the dancers perform, they roll drums to the air and hold it by their mouth and increase the number of drums they hold. Requires lot of practice to maintain the rhythm and balance. 

 Pooja dance - to pay homage to the deities and the guru

Ves dance - Ves is the traditional attire of the Kandyan dancer. 64 ornaments complete the dress and it takes years of rigorous training before a dancer can attain the status of a Ves dancer

Pantheru Dance - the property is Pantheru closely resembling a Tambourine.

Mayura Wannama - showing the graceful movements of a peacock

Mask dance - Low country mythical dance showing Garuda killing the serpent. This is performed to drive away evil spirits and is still used as a psychiatrist treatment.

The streets of Kandy, like 80s India.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Help and Friends

Though 'help' and 'friends' are synonymous to one another; they don't always have to go hand in hand isn't it? Help comes from remotely ever imagined manner if you really are in need of it - from a stranger let's say. They are gone even before you turn around to thank them.

Yesterday evening, while I was commuting back home; the auto driver saw another auto driver standing helpless on the road. I guess he understood what his problem would be because this guy did not ask him any question but just nodded in approval; the other fellow pushed his auto and jumped to his seat. The most innovative way of towing happened; or rather nudging I should say. The auto driver in which I was started kicking/pushing the auto while he exposed his left leg outside. In that way, the kinetic energy of the auto in motion got transferred to his leg and he pushed the auto which had a break down. So this happened for 2 kms where the auto steadily was kicked and it picked speed.Once the gas station neared this guy directed him and just picked speed; did not even wait for a thank you. Now I don't know if they have that autowallah bhai-bhai feeling; it still was impressive to me.

That was the HELP part. Now the FRIENDS part. Friends are not supposed to keep track of helps and lending a shoulder to cry isn't it? After all, we are friends! So friends, friends appropriately forget the help done in cash, kind or deed. Your pokes, pings, mails go unheard. They flaunt their celebrations, travel to exotic places and have expensive wine and gourmet food but they don't find a minute to try to keep in touch. Hell!! I am not jealous even when they cozy up with once-upon-a-time enemies who made their life grumpy! It does not hurt me even a wee bit if they ignore your attempt to reaching out.

I have a bad habit of sniping off contacts in any form once I feel bitter. Now that's bad. No wonder my friends list on FB does not cross 100. I cant help it; I believe it takes lot of dedication and trust to earn a friendship and equally to maintain it. If not; its just not worth!