Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: In Memoriam

The caption might remind some of the Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem by a similar name. One of the most quoted stanzas from the poem was also one of the many highlights for my year that was. This stanza is:-

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
But, 2010, as I look at you in retrospective perspective, there is so much that you have shown me, given me, taken away from me, and taught me; I have learnt, grown and evolved through the passage of your time, and there is so much to thank you for that it would only be fair to give some sort of a structure to this post. Hence, in stead of ungratefully dividing you into smaller time-lines, I shall try and divide my experiences into sub-heads.
I also must confess that this division idea is hardly my own. I am inspired by a similar (but a lot shorter!) self-appraisal attempted on Facebook by a much respected school senior, Ashish Singh. These sub-heads are as under:-

  1. Work and Professional Development
  2. Relationships and Personal Development
  3. Travel
  4. Family and Friends (distinguished from Relationships)
  5. Work-Life Balance
  6. Health

Without much more ado, I launch into my descriptive memories...

1. Work and Professional Development: Graduated from MDI Gurgaon, had the 2nd Convocation of my life, attended my first. The hat throwing was awesome. Got placed for the third time, started full-time work for the first time. Went to Mumbai for the second time, spent three good months there as part of the Management Trainee Program 'Axis Ahead' conducted by my employer Axis Bank. Post this, I came back closer home to New Delhi, and took up a position here. Also, the first salary was an amazing experience.

Post the training, I had a more glamorous option available, but opted for a more earthy beginning to my career, since I wanted the start to bear tangible, quantifiable results. Here is hoping that my faith shall stand vindicated. Work's mostly been good and there has been a reasonably steep learning curve. 2011 holds promise.

My Rating:

2. Relationships and Personal Development: The year stared painfully when I took the first 3 and a half months to finally let go of a relationship. We're still great friends and I count that as a major life accomplishment. I must acknowledge the generous and no strings attached love and support from my parents. Thank you Ma and Dad. You're rock stars.
Moving on hurts, but is necessary at times. Might sound remarkably quick, but in due course, I proposed to somebody else, and got rejected. Ouch. But, I'm not giving up on hope any time soon.

I grew with several life experiences, both personal and vicarious. Read some excellent books, watched some good cinema and theater, engaged in (non-competitive) sport. Taught somebody how to swim. Mostly had a fun time. Probably touched a few lives, and tried to make a few people happier in the process, and I hope that that counts.

Overall, not the best of times in the relationships scheme of things, but grew as a person whilst learning and getting back up from the somewhat harsh falls that I took.

My Rating: 3/5

3. Travel: Continuing from the 2009 theme (when I did some significant travel in Europe), I would say I am overall satisfied with my roaming around this year. Post placements, I set out with a bunch of my closest friends on a spiritual sojourn to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu. That trip was good.

Further on, April saw me headed out to yet another holy journey to the 'Kumbh' in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. This time, I facilitated the Kumbh snan (a dip in the revered Ganges at the bathing ghats at Haridwar) for three generations (grandparents, parents and some of my own).

Second week of May had me and the earlier mentioned bunch out again to Nainital, Kosani, and Mukteshwar. The standard boat riding and sightseeing in Nainital, the equisitely beautiful sunrise in Kosani, and adventure sports in Mukteshwar were a few of the highlights. Also the time there gave me some of my most beautiful personal moments for the year. I shall not forget that trip anytime soon.

Fourth week of May was time for a family trip to the North East. Shillong, Guwahati, and Cherrapunjee are wonderful places with outstanding weather. Yes, it rained a lot. We had some quality family time, and enjoyed some great hospitality, food, and sightseeing.

Then, work led me to Mumbai where I was for close to three months with a 3 week stint in Delhi in between. I was there during the famed monsoons, and allegedly the best time to be there. Besides the splendid stay at Fariyas (tad small swimming pool) and the brilliant theater circuit (Prithvi and Tata Theater), June-September was time for catching up with old friends, and generally making merry.

Oh does running the Half Marathon count as travel? I guess not! So please wait, and you shall find your due later on.

My Rating: 5/5

4. Family and Friends: Latest news first. My elder brother found a job from his B-School campus. To me, that signifies culmination of years of arduous struggle against both fate and the skeptics, for a hopefully much brighter time ahead. Here's to you, Bhaiya!

Otherwise, the family stayed close and had some very good times together.

The Best Friend got engaged and is scheduled to be married on February the 27th, 2011. Come hell or high water, I shall be there Puja Satsangi!

I got a chance to share (I dislike 'spend') reasonable amount of time with the people who really matter and was rewarded with some cherished memories by 2010.

Oh, and in June, I crossed a 1,000 'friends' on Facebook. Plus, over 500 connections on Linkedin. With popularity like that, and a network that strong, I think I may just be the CXO of a mid-sized firm within the next 10 years! Yes, that is a joke. At my own expense.

My Rating: 4/5

5. Work-Life Balance: It's only been 6 and a half months of full-time work so far. So far, I can't complain much, though one would always like more time for their lives. I was recently telling a close friend "You work so that you can get a life!". Work giving meaning to life is another line of thought. I have been able to make out time for doing things that I had in mind before I started work. I have been able to take a vacation with the family, I have been able to read, write (though not as much as I would like), watch theater and cinema, listen to music, take care of my health, party and socialize. But I still insist that working on Saturdays is not funny.

My Rating: 4/5

6. Health: I swear I shall become a lot more regular with my gymming routine next year. Serious! Okay, so 2010 saw the occasional bursts of health consciousness with some time being taken for Pranayam and meditation, and at other times, my feeling really important about pumping iron at least thrice a week. The intent was there, regular action wasn't. The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon was very satisfying experience though. I finished 20.097 kilometers in a net time of 2 hours and 42 minutes. At least, my Grandfather was really proud. And it got me a medal too!

I am grateful for being quite fit for the most part, I realize that the time for being more proactive on the health front should be at least 5 years before you turn 30. That means now!
2011 will see me focusing a lot more on my physical well-being by regular work-outs, Pranayam, and (mostly) healthy food. The health people at the Marathon did a few check-ups and told me that I was in top-shape. I plan to run again in 2011, and improve on my time this year.

My Rating: 3/5

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Mid-Winter Night Musing: Part 1

At about 2 am last night, I shut down my laptop after going through a few photos and stuff from my Exchange Program in Paris and the rest of Europe from last year. Some thoughts came to me, and I started putting them down on my cell phone.

I started out writing for myself, and ended up forwarding the following text as a long sms to my family and some of my closest friends:-

"Was just going through some of my Exchange Photos, videos and stuff.

And then, a few scenes of note from childhood onwards started flashing by.

Having seen a fair share of ups and downs, academic and life
experiences, met so many people, traveled to so many different places,
eaten so much food, heard and read people and thinkers of note, been
through and enjoyed some glorious music, dance, theater,sport and
cinema, been influenced by so many personalities,having influenced a
few people to change their life outlook, and made and lost so many

A strange sort of melancholy hits me this wintry night. What remains
of all of that? What was the purpose of all of that? Why do people do
things the way they do? Why do people love and why do people hate? And
in so many different ways?
What remains of our thoughts, words, emotions, and tears: of joy and despair?

What is my purpose? Why do I live? I have evolved and helped people
through their evolution, but Have I grown up yet?

Is love the ultimate truth? Or knowledge? Or just money? Peace?"

After reading that mid winter night's text, I have had some interesting reactions and consequences.

1. A good friend called up at about 2:40 am, probably to enquire if I had already succeeded in completing my suicide or was still on my way.

2. Dad sent an early morning long text. Love what he writes for two reasons:-

1) He writes rather well with solid and powerful logic.
2) He is my Dad.

I have earlier written several letters to him and have been rewarded with profound wisdom and love in his replies. Some of the content from these letters found it's way in the Recruitment Applications at my alma mater: MDI, Gurgaon.

3. Another good friend pinged at about 2:45 (I was offline), probably for similar reasons as the friend in #1. Also, he owed me some money.

4. My Room mate woke up because of the 7 new messages tringing up his inbox (The message was the same as the one above, I had sent it to him). He cussed at me, and went back to sleep. Serves me right.

5. There was another email and text from close friends waiting for me when I woke up.
If I were you, I would not read this post beyond the full stop of this sentence, it's just way too long, okay next sentence. Therefore, that email and my response to it will form the next post.

6. I have finally started writing again. Some of this will go to my blog. I know nobody reads it. Not even I do. But they should.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

On 'Superhumans', and Humanity

Posting a comment that I put up on a friends' blog post sometime back. He has started his own venture post his MBA from MDI. It's called 'Discover Life', and is engaged in motivational workshops for young adults (to put it rather crudely).

The original post can be found here:-

And now, for the post:-

Budhia Singh, Tathagat Awatar Tulsi, and now Sahal Kaushik. I hope and fervently pray that he is not forced to meet a similar fate.

At the risk of sounding a little cynical, I am just not happy to learn about this 'achievement'. Yes, it is good to note of the boy's prodigious intellect, but I am alarmed and apprehensive of what might be made of it by minds who may be inferior and definitely not discerning enough to nurture and groom it the way it should be.

Reading the news of Sahal Kasuhik, a 14 year old boy topping the Delhi zone of the Joint entrance Examination (JEE) conducted by the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), I was instantly reminded of Lewis Terman's study that was cited in Malcolm Gladwell' 'Outliers: The Story of Success'. He gives cogent and profound arguments that substantiate how out intellect (and academic credentials) is a necessary but now sufficient condition to make us successful in our lives.

An analogy from the book that comes to mind is that of Basketball players and the correlation of their heights with their achievement at the sport. One needs to be reasonably tall, say at least 6 feet. And then, for every extra inch thereafter, you have a little edge over others a little less endowed. But after a threshold height of say 6' 7", it just stops mattering! Now, what is more important is the player's dribbling, passing, mental fortitude and application.

Similar is the case with our IQs, and our social skills. We should avoid reading too much into test scores, other than a threshold measure. Exceptional performance in tests seldom translates to exceptional performance in life.

To cut a long story short, let us all, as parents to be, try and inculcate a balanced perspective in our children to be, and encourage them to be the best they can: complete with respect for their and their peers' individuality. Let us try and give them a childhood that they can look back at with a smile...!

Friday, May 14, 2010

On the Convocation

A Short Write-Up that I had written on Convocation eve...

In an ocean of prodigiously phenomenal talent, MDI has given us the means to find our own places under the sun. 21 Months ago, we entered these hallowed portals with hope and dreams in our eyes, and today we graduate with euphoria and pride in our hearts. We have all fought hard through our lives for this day, this Commencement Ceremony. We have had different stories, and we have different aspirations. But if there is one thing that binds us all, it is our Alma Mater, The Management Development Institute, Gurugram, and the evolutionary journey that we have traced here.

I am overwhelmed with emotion as I look at what we have achieved and what we are capable of accomplishing in the glorious future that awaits us all. However, twenty years down the line, as I look back, I shall all have a wistful smile on my lips that shall gently reminisce "Them were the days. Them were the Halcyon Days."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Akhil Bharatiya Samuhik Mahila Jansangram (All India United/Mass Females Struggle): April 16, 2009

Alrite, this is a sad attempt at drawing attention.
But, for a very noble cause.

A Birthday poem for one of my Best friends, Saurabh Sharma. (I think I just heard
the female population collectively sigh, and coo:
"Aw! That's so Sweeeet!!" You bet it is! :) )

Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you the very Best that MDI has to offer:-

Our very Own,
Sylvester Stallone (Wow, that rhymes! Should I go ahead, and compose the
entire poem? Naaah! Accha, chalo dekhta hoon)

Doston ka dost,
Dushmanon ka Ghost (Again! Am on a roll!)

He is a rare gem, I tell yous,
Reading is against his 'Core Values'

Doesn't need a reason to be (cash or) kind,
Is only slightly of an unsound mind!

Marquity, Illumnia, ho ya Guitar
Baalak humaara hai bada Zimmedar

Sacchai, Imaandari, Kartavyanishtha, evam amazing levels of Gyaan
Ladka Heera hai, Sampoorna Sarva Guna Sampann

Dil ka hai Khandani Rayees
Bees aur ek hote hain Ekees! (Sorry!)

Section D, MDI tatha Tata Motors ki Aan Baan Shaan
Humara 'Ex-CR' aur Tata Nano ka model Bada Mahan
Iski suhani Sharmili Muskaan
Jai Juwaan, Jai Kisaan! (Sorry. Again.)

Meharban, Kadradan, Saheban, Shrimaan
Thookdan, Peekdan, Saawadhan
Bahut saari gaaliyan yeh dega mujhe
Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao Andey

Bahut hua Atyachaar, Durachaar, Vyabhichaar, Anachar
Janam diwas ki badhaiyan lijiye through Patrachar

Ho Shankh Naad,
Striyon mein Unmaad
Kavita ke naam per
kiya maine Jaghanya Aparadh

After the random poem, full of venom
Pesh hai the man, the legend, the phenom:-

(In Bold, Italic, Underline, and Neon Glittering Hoarding style Highlight)
The name is Sharma. Saurabh Sharma.
Less than God. Better than Bond.

Basically, Multiple Happy Returns to my dearest buddy.
Wishes: the Choicest, Selected, and Finest, so that Providence may deem
fit to shower thy noble being with the very Best of Good Fortune upon thy
Noble Being!

Aapka apna
Shakespeare ki aulaad
Baju of non-faulaad

On Instinct, Rationality and Rationalizing

This short post (by my standards!) reflects on the fine art of instinct, applauds Malcolm Gladwell, and generally goes on without much purpose in its short existence.
By now, I've learned to accept that my general thought process can be alarmingly disturbing.

Actually, this is just a liftoff of something that was supposed
to be a comment before it broke all laws to resemble something quite against the disposition of its brethren.

Here goes. My two pence, in the form of two points:-

1. Instinct: 'Blink' may help you in understanding what exactly is the much touted 'instinct' all about. As Malcolm Gladwell explains in his famous work, there is a 'structure for spontaneity'. Instinct isn't random. Careful practice/observation and learning over a lot of time helps your mind develop complex structures so that your heart takes a spontaneous decision in a split second, based on, as people say, 'pure instinct'.

Example: How do many people (and probably you, as well) learn to identify correct or otherwise usage of the Queen's language instantly without ever putting much conscious thought and analysis into the process?

How does a basketball expert know exactly at what angle and with what force to throw the ball at the hoop to score a 3-pointer?

Ans: Instinct! The 'heart' at play. But, the structure for the instinct was developed through numerous years of rigorous training & discipline.
Hence, it is usually, a simultaneous interplay of both the powerful forces of heart & mind that gets stuff working, the way it is supposed to work.

2. Rationality: Somebody said that the rational thought differentiated medieval and modern times.
One may outrageously extrapolate this line of thought to state that our evolution from the days our ancestors jumped about on trees, and found utter peace and seemingly unintelligent contentment in a banana tree, to today's age of utter insanity, owes credit to the rational man (Yeah, even women, for the sake of womanity/humanity!, I don't want to be lynched by pretty women, when there are so many better possible options with them out there!)

However, also note, that wisdom over the ages clearly establish that women (& the Godfosaken men for God's sake!) over the ages haven't exactly been rational creatures. Instead, they have been rationalizing creatures! We tend to develop rationals for anything and everything that suits our point of view. Eventually, as I heard someone say today, "Even subjectivity can be defined subjectively."

Ad infinitum!

Monday, April 20, 2009

This one comes from the folder 'My Writeups and Ppts' on my laptop. Should have been here a long time ago. Then again, a lot of things should have been at a lot of places. But are they really there?
I suggest we go look for them sometime. They must just be inside us, curled up, in front of the warmth of our heart's radiance pondering on just how hideously slothful can our beings get, simmering with anger and wanting to self destruct: once and for all.

Oh, and of course, sloth and wrath are amongst the seven cardinal sins.

Whatever, before this turns into being much more hopeless than I originally intended it, to be, and before you are left wondering that either I am totally nuts, or at a different plane of existence altogether, a heightened or a damned level of conscience, and before you start blaming yourself for the world's miseries in general, and your own in particular (You chose to visit this, and read thus far, didn't you. So there.), I would come back to the originally intended subject of the post.

Here we go, alea alea alea (Yeah, cool song Martin, has stayed with me since I was 16).

Alright, I wrote this as part of the application for the Corporate Communications Cell at MDI. The people there were thoroughly impressed/floored/confused, and took me in. I refuse to go away since then, and they have been repenting their moment of insanity ever since.

Oh, and btw, am particularly proud of the level of thought that has gone into this writeup. Of course, people would tend to dismiss it as mere hokum. But, then, as Orwell so famously said: "Sanity is never statistical." And, as I like to say (plagiarised again, of course), "Truth is never a function of the number of people adhering to it."
Its 1:15 am. Perhaps, just for this once, I am insane.

That's about it. Here is the writeup (Really! And, you thought, it would never come? God is kind. Of course, only if he/she actually exists. But, I would tackle that topic with Douglas Adam's assistance sometime later. Perhaps tomorrow. Let us see.And hope. For hope is a good thing. And no good thing ever dies. Or so Shawshank people, and in particular Tim Robbins, believed.)

And, now, I present THE POST!!

The Infinite Monkey Theorem

They say “Monkeying around is serious business!”

They also say that “The surest way of making a monkey of a man is to quote him.”

Well, looks like they were all an idle bunch of infinite monkeys having an infinite amount of spare time along with infinite energy, and they collectively in their infinite wisdom decided that if they infinitely speak random stuff, there will finally emerge a George W. Bush like a monkey from the ashes where a phoenix was supposed to come out!

Yes, I know I’ve made a monkey out of myself, but as I say: “It’s not about the man in the monkey, but the monkey in the man that counts!” (Sorry, dear monkey descendent (anthropos) researchers (ologists)!)

Speaking about my infinite ‘monkeying around’ talents, I’ll say what Prince Charles once said: “I learnt the way a monkey learns-by watching its parents.” All right, now that I’ve finally evolved into a prince from an erstwhile monkey, I hereby declare that I’m eligible and available for an infinite number of kisses from a scarce number of the most beautiful women.

If after reading this masterpiece (comparable to the greatness of The Bard’s ‘Hamlet’), you feel like a monkey ready to tear your hair apart, hold on, I’ve another quote for you from a certain Mr. Donald Rumsfeld: “Keep your sense of humour. As General Joe Stillwell said, "The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."”

Further speaking of what is my personal ‘behind’, I’ve proved to be a rather smart (and conceited) monkey thus proving the infinite monkey theorem right. Out of 5 million possible candidates, my talents earned me a 99+ percentile in the Mensa Test (a global I.Q. test). Some random pen strokes out of close to infinite possibilities earn me this honour!

Signing off now: as Douglas Adams said when he was referring to the dolphins: “So long, and thanks for all the fish!” (What? No monkeys here? Sorry, the quota for them has already exceeded infinity!)

---- EOW (End of Writeup!)

Shall be back later, perhaps tomorrow with an extremely random (yep even by my randomer than the randomest random standards) poem that I composed for a close friend on his Happy Birthday to Him...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On the Oscars, Celebrations, and Attitudes

I penned down some thoughts on the Oscars, the celebrations, and the subsequent criticism of Indian attitudes.

This comes in the wake of hearing a number of intelligent people comment on our attitude.
May be very random and unstructured. So, basically, standard disclaimers apply.

Since the time Slumdog got nominated for several International Awards (including the Oscars!), I've had the opportunity to listen to and to read a number of thought provoking discourses on why our attitude is all wrong, on why we are still behaving like a 3rd World Country with 1st page splash news coverage, and even on why do we need to be so 'desperate', 'insecure', and 'servile'.

Let me try & make an audacious attempt at explaining our behavior!

Throughout the various stages of our evolution, be it during our 'Sone ki chidiya' days, our during our colonised years, our during the present stage of a possible revival; India has always been a country marked by loud expression of emotion.

We've always celebrated with gusto at the thousand or so festivals every year and at at the cricket matches. We have cried our hearts out over films, and even while reading stories as kids. Hero(ine!) adulation is an integral part of the Great Indian culture.
We've always liked it large!

The teeming millions of the country find a symbol of hope in the achievements of any public figure. His or her exploits are identified with by every teenager who aspires, and by every elder who still desires.

Cinema and cricket have always been ways to connect the multiply divergent diaspora together by common sacrosanct threads. Vicarious pleasure would be the appropriate term.

And, of course, the world shall always listen to, and history shall always be dictated, credibility shall always be awarded to the Powers that be Therefore, this instance appears no different. It is not really as much about a 'slavish' mentality as about a very natural state of existence for humanity at large.

The Oscars are byfar the most celebrated film awards anywhere. And, this one marked several firsts for our Great country. Of course, recognition (or the lack of it) of Indian sensibilities at western award functions would bring us to a different level of debate altogether.

Now, I come to my favorite point.
Given the times we live in, with fear, mistrust, cynicism, and negativity, all around, any opportunity to feel a little happy, rejoice, and enjoy should be very welcome. Therefore, instead of questioning the ways of our revelling, and instead of trying to 'ape' western sensibilities by being a little more subtle in our methods, let us just be ourselves!

Let us revel in our own singularity. There is, really, no country like India!
The world may laugh calling it ostentatious, but can they inspire the same amount of wild joy in anything that they do, as we can in a Holi day out?

Celebrate, India, Celebrate!

P.S. : Congratulations, Rahman, Russel, Gulzar et al!!