Tuesday, November 04, 2008
It is that time of the year again when the streets are lighted and the mood festive, children out in the courtyards gleefully bursting firecrackers (the milder ones nowadays, of course), and people all decked up in their ethnic best. Diwali has always been one of the festivals I have looked forward to and it brings to my mind so many joyous memories of togetherness, with family and friends. This is one day in the year that I absolutely hate being by myself because it makes me feel really sad and grumpy listening to other people enjoy the festivities while I long for the company of my loved ones.
Luckily, Diwali this year was different from any of the sort and I was blessed with the company of my parents and more importantly, my Grandfather. While Papa was here about two weeks ahead of Diwali, Maa landed about a week later and in the middle (more towards the end, actually) of the Bihar-Maharashtra brouhaha, Baba accompanied with Bua came to town just a day before Diwali. In fact, I was so very worried that the plans of Baba to come visiting after so many requests from me and my sister may actually come to nought because of all this tamasha but thankfully better sense and peace prevailed and he was able to make the journey.
The love, affection, and blessings in the eyes of my family members is enough to make any day special for me and this Diwali was no exception. With a bhara-poora ghar, it was a completely amazing experience this Diwali and even though there was not much of firecracker bursting or diya lighting but even the bit that there was seemed blissful. After the traditional Lakshmi Puja and lighting of diyas, we started on a tour of Mumbai to experience the famous Mumbai style of celebrating this festival. It was an anticlimax, however, as we saw a deserted Juhu beach and negligible lighting even in the posh localities of Bandra, Juhu, et al. The only saving grace was Nariman Point and Marine Drive which, if you didn't mind the traffic, made you enjoy the proceedings with people out in the open, slowdown and markets be damned.
Baba's stay was just for about a week and what a packed week it was! From meeting relatives to planning outings to Lonavala, Khandala, movies, beaches, it was one roller coaster and the best part about it all was that Baba loved it. Except for a day when he was tired and slept through the day (after the Lonanavala trip), Baba's health also kept up with him by Godís grace. In his own words, it was a very satisfying trip. No amount of material benefits of any sort could have had me in a happier state than the one I was in on hearing these words as I saw Baba and Bua off last night at the railway station.
Posted at 11:19 am by Nitai
Friday, October 24, 2008
Cheers to the tough times!
October is almost about to end without a single post this month and that is something one can't allow, can one? So after thinking about what to write, even going to the extent of trying to copy ideas from some of the blogs I have got into a habit of reading every day, I have sat down to write...well, something.
For starters, things are becoming increasingly mundane at work and have come to such a head that at times, I keep getting into one of those introspective moods thinking about the reasons for existence and all that. Broadly speaking, there is lack of enough work and even the work that is there lacks any amount of application of intellect, constituting things that any thirteen year old can sleepwalk through. There is a limit to which you can make excel sheets and send mails and sit angrily thinking about what is going on behind closed doors that does not need your presence and is yet obviously strategically important given the recent times.
I have even started questioning the reasons for joining this job in the sense that the expectations I had from it are perhaps not coming across the way I thought they would. In fact, while reading a book I recently picked up (more about the book in some other post), I realized how effective such a profile as mine has proved for many successful entrepreneurs when they started out post their MBAs. I had thought that it will be the same for me as well (even without the benefit of having read this book and known this fact earlier) but somehow, whether that will actually happen is now getting questioned.
On top of all this, financial services as a sector and even the equity markets are at an all time low and like always, I am short of confidence on job prospects in this area and more importantly, short of cash to buy anything at the bourses. It is so uncannily similar to such situations in the past that even my credit card bills at these occasions have been very close to each other with the difference between them hardly exceeding 5000 (the bills, as you may have guessed, are obviously in the higher thousands bracket for 5000 to be such a small difference).
The silver lining, of course is that it is festive season and Maa Papa are here with us in Mumbai to make my time at home real quality time. If things go right and Raj Thackeray and his counterparts in Bihar stop making a horrible mess of it, Baba and Bua should also be here before long and this Deepawali shall be one fantastic celebration for me...really looking forward to it all. Priya is super excited, as well and has already coaxed me into getting a 42 inches plasma and a home theatre system at home (there goes the secret of high credit card bills). In times of cost cutting, job layoffs, and job insecurity, here's to the Goddess of Wealth...cheers!!!
Posted at 11:17 am by Nitai
Monday, September 29, 2008
The microcosm of existence that we have got accustomed to prevents any infiltration from events, people, and issues outside our domain of immediate concern. However, there still are certain things that touch you in a way different from others, perhaps this too because it puts your very survival under some sort of risk. Floods, earthquakes, famine and starvation, and in effect anything that adds to the misery of the human populace in general strikes an emotional chord somewhere. It probably does nothing more than that due to the high unpredictability associated with these events. We typically feel that since we do not have control over such an event happening, we are somehow less susceptible to being in the midst of something like this.
The reason why a Bhuj earthquake or a Tamil Nadu tsunami was just another newspaper front page for most of us was because it would have been a little far fetched to imagine that the same could happen to us sitting in Delhi or Mumbai the very next day. However, what is not so distant is what has been happening over the last few months in the name of religion and ethnicity. With things coming to such a pass that every Muslim colony, every bearded face, and every long kurta is being viewed with suspicion, it is difficult, nay impossible to stay aloof and not have an opinion or at least, a view.
Every weekend spent in a mall, a cinema, even an inconsequential market seems to be another weekend of survival. It is no longer the tsunami that can play havoc only with coastal towns, it is no longer the earthquake that can hit only geologically unstable areas, it is no longer the famine and floods that have been known to affect certain geographies of the country, it is something much more sinister and something much closer. It can happen to any city in the country, any day (even tomorrow or for that matter, an hour later) at any place (in the city center or for that matter, next to your home/office affecting you and your loved ones).
Real lives have been lost, hopes shattered and dreams brought to a cruel full stop in the face of these so called crude bombs that have plagued the metropolitan landscape of our country. Whether it is a Bangalore, a Delhi, or even a relatively less strategic Jaipur, the method behind this madness is very scary, to say the least. This method begets the question that what, if anything, has given rise to minds so focused on acts so shameful and denigrating, from the point of view of any religion that practices good over evil.
If you ask this question to the fundamentalist, the only answer you can expect to get is that the minority Muslim community never belonged. But what, pray, is the reason for this, you ask, and you remain unanswered because no one is bothered to go that deep. It is not that deep, either, if you come to look at it. It is the insecurity that has given rise to some people, whether belonging to the Muslim community or to any other downtrodden section of the society (the naxalites, the Tamil tigers, the ULFA, etc), to take up arms and do unto others what they do not want to be done unto them.
What makes them blow little children to pieces is, however unexplainable it may seem, the insecurity that their voices are not going to be heard, the insecurity that their families are not safe, the insecurity that they will be treated differently, the insecurity that they will always be biased against, the insecurity that has grown because of the general lack of means, education, and of course, by the fundamentalist politics that goes on in the name of reviving the mainstream.
Till the time such insecurity remains, till the time the light of welfare and more importantly, education reaches the darkest corners of each and every community, we can not hope to come out of this. Till the time such happens, all we can do is pray to the Almighty to soothe the hurt and those who have hurt and hopefully, there will be light. Even after we do see light, however, there may be a different problem, the problem of plenty leading to US style shootouts but hopefully, they would be more dispersed, subject to restrictions that our culture imposes on us, and most importantly, these once in a blue moon kind of events will probably shake the entire mechanism of Government and get handled in the course of maintenance of general law and order.
Posted at 04:45 pm by Nitai
Monday, September 15, 2008
It was something that you have heard about so many times, laughed at each time you heard it, and cracked the usual joke about the foolishness of people involved in every such case. The difference was that this time, the joke was on me and by the time it got over, I was feeling like a complete stupid ass.
It was while I was getting back from office on Saturday. As the watch showed five thirty and I sat on the passenger seat of my car, admiring the pleasant evening and for a change, letting the cool strong breeze blow in through the rolled down windows, there was no indication of what was to follow. As we waited at the Mahim signal, waiting to get on to Western Express Highway, I was pretty relaxed, listening to the music playing on the car radio and thinking of the people I would meet at the party this evening at Ravi's new house. The seat belt was on, legs stretched, fingers playing with the cuff links, phone lying on the dashboard...
As the signal turned green, Sunil, my driver released the clutch and the car jerked forward slightly. All of a sudden, there was this noise from the rear at the driver's side as if some car had hit us from behind. As both I and Sunil instinctively turned around to look at what was the source of this noise, we could just see a youngish guy cursing aloud as if the car had gone over his foot. Smiling benignly on the regular Bombay traffic, it would have taken me hardly a couple of seconds to turn back and start looking ahead but these couple of seconds were good enough for the partner of this youngish guy to flick the phone, which if you remember was lying on the dashboard...yes, stupid me!
I discovered the loss almost instantly but not quick enough in the rush of vehicles trying to make the best of the just converted signal (what timing the rascals had!). Going to the traffic cop was no use as all he helped me with was pointing out the border of jurisdictions of Bandra and Mahim police stations. There was, of course, no point in going to the police station because the miscreants were beyond reach by now and the phone was switched off and the SIM discarded.
More than the phone's loss, it was the way in which I was made a fool of, which has been tormenting me. Had I been able to catch hold of those guys, even if they did not give the phone back, I would have loved to sock them one in the eye for the stupid idiot they made out of me. That was not to be, however, and stupid idiot I remain, but one with yet another lesson that will probably make me less of an idiot than I have previously been.
My next phone is going to be one of the least expensive ones that the market has to offer and which can give me the basic functionalities that I need. No more fancy stuff for me!
Posted at 01:46 pm by Nitai
Sunday, September 07, 2008
A vacation of almost three weeks in Kerala is almost invariably associated with the image of backwaters, hills and lakes, house boats languishing in still waters, as if for eternity, snake boats famous on account of the race standing still or breezing past in all their glory, the beaches that are more pristine and yet less commercial than what the most exotic ones can claim to be. My vacation, however, was of a different variety. I spent three weeks at Thodupuzha, a small but busy town situated about 60 kms from Cochin right at the foothills of the Idukki district's ranges. Amongst a few other things, Thodupuzha is known for some Ayurvedic hospitals and treatment clinics that use the herbs grown in Kerala's hills, mix them with the hundreds of kinds of oils they have gained expertise on, and treat the most chronic of ailments with such efficiency as is rarely seen in any other contemporary form of medicine.
Having heard about this form of therapy from a number of people and after my Mama had showed my nerve damage reports to one of the doctors at the Dhanwanthari Vaidyasala at Thodupuzha, I decided to give this a try. Taking the train to Cochin was a nice change from the short and sweet flights that I have got used to recently. The 27 hour journey was a great way to catch up with sleep, conversations with my sister (who accompanied me for a couple of days at the hospital before getting back to Mumbai and work), and of course with a lot of reading that I had been postponing for so long.
The treatment started on the first day itself, the 16th of August with some mild massages and pouring of warm oil on the affected area. The medicines were not really appealing to the taste buds but tolerable. What was not tolerable, however, was the food that I had to compulsorily eat because I was not allowed to go out of the campus of the Vaidyasala for the time of treatment and because there was no outside food that I could consume. The food was not even passable at times, with rice grains as big as peas, rice water served at dinner with salt and nothing else, puttu (a Kerala dish) served without any chutney, you almost choking on it unless passed down the throat with the help of some milk or water.
As days progressed, treatment became more complex and the masseur really gave it a go with some exotic oils, some strong massages, even some paste of cooked rice that felt really sticky and sick when applied over my entire body, and of course some increasingly sour medicines. Finally, when it was time to go, there was already some slight improvement in my condition with toes showing some movement in the affected foot. Of course, the problem is much more complex and slight twiddling of the toes is not going to be the end of my woes but at least it is a beginning. With the doctor so confident that it will take a maximum of 3 months for complete recovery, I am hopeful.
I have been advised as much rest as possible for about 2 weeks after treatment but with so much pending at work, I don't think that mental rest is an option but physically I can try my best to exercise my feet as little as possible.
Posted at 11:33 am by Nitai