Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Media - Credibility

This is not a political article

It is almost impossible for me to start work without updating myself with what's going around. News! Every one of us is so used to reading something that entertains our quest for knowledge. It varies as we grow up! I still remember the days when I wake up and go directly to the sports section in "The Hindu" even before sipping my first morning coffee and would finish the whole paper with just a glimpse on other sections. And it changes as we progress. We include entertainment, national politics, international relationships, book reviews so on and so forth. But we almost never think on the credibility of the information that we read and share.

Well, credibility is not a big deal when it comes to perceptional articles. A book review, a movie review, a sports column (except for the statistical information) etc are all perceptional articles. But when it comes to information transfer with or without a mere thought transfer, credibility is the most important concept that sometimes we fail to recognize. We just believe, blindfolded by the reputation of the source.

Dramatization and hype brings in money for newspapers as well as other information portals. I'm sure that Aamir Khan's 2nd wedding had more hits than Narayana Murthy's blasts on the corrupt politicians today in Rediff. I wouldn't blame Rediff for that. Its just readership! I still remember this on the e-magazine that we started for the Indian community here in Cookeville. A column on the local gossips was more popular than the other sensible sections. We, as the editors of that magazine, took a while to take that section off, until we gained some readership. What entertains one doesn't necessarily have to entertain other. Readership is an important issue that cannot be understood until we are in to that business. So, as of now, I don't understand the general readership, as chemical engineering doesn't offer me that chance. But the most important thing is honesty. The readers should get information that is credible. Regardless of what section it is. Entertainment, business, sports or anything for that matter!

Now, what made me write this article is a small incident that disturbed my respectful thoughts on the magazine journalism! Let me be concise!

I think it was during the 1991 state assembly elections in Tamilnadu. My mother's school was one of the election booths. The counting was over and Dr.Jayalalitha, the present chief minister of the state, had won the elections by a huge margin. Days after the election, my mom, to my father, handed over a ballot paper that she found in her class room. The ballot paper was valid and a vote was casted to the obvious rival of the winner. Now, from what I overheard then, I may be wrong as well, according to the constitution, an incident like that could even push to an extent of canceling the results and order another round of election in the same constituency. My father couldn't think of going to the police without enough knowledge on the political influence that could change the course of action. So, after some shrewd thinking (!) he and his friends contacted a local political Tamil magazine, Nakeeran, and consulted the issue. The next week Nakeeran's issue had this ballot paper as its title cover, and the story explained that they found this ballot paper in one of the Minister's, Mr.S.D.Somasundarm, garden. I was shocked to read this. Yes, of course my parents would be concerned in publishing the sources, so may be they had some constraints on that. Nevertheless, how can someone write something that's totally not connected to the truth? As I said, dramatization! That helped! What did the magazine earned out of this? A huge increase in the circulation number, at the expense of masking the truth! We can argue on the already tarnished image of the minister. Or the ways the journalist fight to display truth that cannot be revealed. All that is fine! But how someone like me would ever believe a magazine from that instance. I understand that we cannot talk/write truth all the times, but a lie would always be a lie no matter what good or what bad it does.

It's even worse with the advent of online media. Blogs and all! People talk about plagiarism on one side, credibility of the information on the other. Well from what I see, if we are married to online media, spend some time before you give birth to trust. Not just based on reputation but on consistency and confirmation! Media is powerful, so is knowledge. As Uncle Ben says in the First of the Spidy series, with great power comes great responsibility, when you think you acquire power through a powerful source, make sure you know that it is the truth and not a perception! If you can't, just don't trust. Accumulate it as just knowledge with a tinge of skeptical illusion before conclusion!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thanks and Sorry

Probably the first thing that someone who just steps in to my unexpendable acquaintance circle (from what I see, there is no word called 'inexpendable' correct me if am wrong) of friends knows is that I hate 'apologies and thanks' from them.

May be I should address it now.

Common courtesies are very important as you breathe your way out. A small act of appreciation or acknowledgement makes a world of difference to a lot of people. When you get to do a favor and in response you hear a 'thanks', it makes you feel good. Certainly! It does motivate you to help people more. So it is, when it comes to apologies! If there is a situation that warrants an apology, it amazingly makes you feel a little better than it is when left unsaid...

From my perspective, when I thought of these things a little deeper, I understood that it goes well only with macroscopic personalities. I feel completely connected to these common courtesies only with people like my boss, my colleagues, bearers or any new stranger for that matter. But, when it comes to someone I know well, say beyond my unexpendable acquaintance circle, I feel disconnected. I feel awful to hear those 'thanks and apologies' from the people I am connected to, even with slightest possible emotional way.

Now, how would they know that I don't like it? I scream! I try to script it in to their brain cells and make sure that I hate to hear those from them, and also try and make them understand not to expect them from me. I don't know for sure, but it appears to me that most of the people that I know, take this as a compliment, that me 'not expecting a thanks and apologies' and vice versa. Or atleast I will make sure it is something that I expect and give with only a few people. I may sound a little 'attitude'ious, but nevertheless I need to complete the thought transfer.

I don't want to take anything away from the best parts of common courtesies. As I said earlier, being courteous is very important. But, with whom and to what extent is the question. When I looked up Merriam-Webster for the synonyms of courteous it gave me 'marked by respect for and consideration of others'. A sensible human being behaves with respect and consideration to his/her fellow beings. Yes! completely understandable! But when you term someone as your friend haven't you already had those inscribed! The level of consideration and respect increases as we aggregate in to a relationship. Especially, with something involves your true self. So as we propagate towards something like that, don't you want to differentiate it from what we do with common people? The acts of consideration and respect with friends is not by thanking or apologizing to them, is by understanding and relating to them.

Years ago, I was surviving through a viral fever week. I was so weak and was not even able to stand-up. No source of energy was fed in, what I ate was out in a jiffy through the same way. Sweet mother was trying to get rid of it, by forcing some energy in to me through food. As I said, she failed, I messed up the place and I saw her cleaning it. Helplessly, I couldn't do a thing. I said 'I am sorry ma'. And obviously, the response was in a burning look which said it all. I messed up more with those words than by my intestine reaction. That's the last time, I apologized/thanked her for something trivial.

If you hate to hear/say thanks and apologies to your family now and then, so it is with friends and other important people!

Relationships are beautiful, straining and strengthening it is in your own way of handling. There are 'no duties' and nothing like 'I am supposed to do this' when it comes to relationships. There is no reason behind whatever we do for friends and other important people. We just do it. No expectations and no measuring gauges. Because for some reason, it makes you feel good when you do the right thing, by being there for someone when they need you. It's a privilege you give to those kinds of relationships. And according to me, thanking and apologizing, mocks the importance that I give to those relationships!

'Thanks and Sorry' - I was thinking if I should delete those words from the dictionary of friends or place it marked 'should be used at extreme conditions'. I opted for the latter. So, according to me, Thanks and Apologies are marked as the ones with high power. Never use it with friends!

If (u.eq.friend) then
thanks.and.sorry = sin
end (not endif)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

'Love' from a Kodak moment - WY4 - Part 2

Part 1 is here
As days progressed, we understood each other and started to spend time more and more with each other as we finally approached the big stage called Marriage.

Man it sounds great. I wish it was like this. But as you all can guess it was not. I was getting Romeoer day by day, doing stupid things with the motorcycle, sunglasses et al.

One fine day, Mr.Bob, my beloved pop, stopped by my street-cricket stint and told me to get in his transportation device that he calls a scooter. We went towards an unknown destination, as I was enjoying it because the path was towards her house. Within the proximity of her apartment, dad stopped his vehicle and asked me "Where is her apartment?"

"Who?" with a suddenly-developed puzzled look.

"Don't act. You know who am talking about. Priyanka!" he said.

As I realized how my beloved friends, who were there at my house last evening, found their way to appreciate the veg briyani that they had in my place, I said, "Here is her apartment. Don't worry I am not serious or anything, it's just for fun"

"I know, still I wanted to know how she looks like" he was curious and led me to spend our rest of the 10 min journey eventfully describing her, the way I saw her...yes to my dad.

Hence everyone in my family knew about her and also understood that I was not serious and I was in love. Yet again. Whatsoever, they were curious to see her.

Few days later, a pretty close family friend of ours, who lived downstairs, planned to have a Salwar exhibition opposite to my house. Naturally the billing section was few feet way from where I eat everyday. As I said already, Salwars and Dhuppatas means the world to Priyanka as well as her friends, henceforth the laws of attraction prevailed. I knew she was going to be there. Unfortunately, my whole family as well as the friends knew this. She came. She conquered. I pointed who she is from a distance, and left the place without being able to bear each one of my acquaintances walking close by and having a good look at her. It was funny to witness that. The point is that my family was approved by the way she looked and was assuming that it was important to me.

Days passed by, I grew up, went to college, found new interests. As I said, she became a part of my pastence....not history yet!

One day, as usual, I made a new friend over the train journey from Madras to Chidambaram. Needless to say, it was a She. Like I always do, I made the world smaller, and found that she knew Priyanka. I spoke to this girl as if I knew Priyanka, and the rest of the night was spent with the clan trying to explore more and more of each other.

A week later, I saw this girl again in the train. This time she was with a surprise. She said she spoke to Priyanka, and apparently she claimed to know me. For a guy who was assuming to have taken a rogue role in her life, she claiming to know me is a big thing.

"I spoke about you to Priyanka. She seem to know you from somewhere, she said that you are a nice guy. Just that you were caught in a Bad gang" is what she said.

The first thing that came to my mind was my folks. That weekend I got back to rip their lives apart. "Guys, see what's the result of us being naughty and unruly. If not for you guys, may be she would have considered me. It's all in the game, I was not serious and right now I am busy with other interests anyways. But remember I won't forget this…and I know what to do when I am serious with anyone down the line" which is the most seriously funny thing I have ever told to these folks.

Days passed by, Guna was waiting over the weekend. I still don't remember that if I heard this thro Guna or someone-else. Whatsoever, the essence of the story was in there.

"Dei, how do you think that she know your name?", he asked

"May be one of you guys shouted when she was around! Comeon da! We have our own way of finding the girls name we are interested in. May be she had her way of finding the folk's name who was interested in her. How does it matter anyway?", I said.

"Apparently, the guy she was talking about is not you!" he said as I was not surprised. "Remember, my friend Bharath, who hung out with us the other day, it was him she was talking about. She met him a coupla days ago and he found that apparently 'he had claimed to her friend in a train that he knew Priyanka'" - Oops! That was me - "And did you know who the bad gang was? Us As you always claim…the clan reflects the leadership….so do you understand the repercussions of staying in excited state for life"

I was dumbfounded. …Man I am the self-proclaimed leader, as every one of us, of this bad gang…am not even in the vicinity of being in her good books at the least! I was assuming that she thought I was put up with a bad gang ….but now it's needless to stay …that am Bad gang…the next thing was that we were rolling on the floor and laughing at this….. Celebration started…drinks all over….we all went to the bunk shop to drink the infamous "Rs.1.50 Rasna" that comes with a tag line that we stole from Pepsi "nothing official about it"

We were drinking and discussing how bad we are and how we can improve and get worser! Momentarily, I heard the sweetest voice asking for some thing in the bunk shop. Without my knowledge my jaw dropped...I turned around …and looked in to her…The voice, the eyes, the looks…for the 54th time in my life, I claimed that "I am in love for the first time".

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

'Love' from a Kodak moment - WY4 - Part 1

Time for some walk down the memory lane…after a series of seemingly serious posts, I thought I should take a break and post something less read-worthy but remember-worthy!

As I claimed before, somewhere in one of my previous posts, I have fallen in love quite a few times. Well, with respect to love, I am not even close to Forrest Gump, because I safely would say that I don't know what Love is. But sure I loved to tell that 'I am in love', without knowing what it is. Yes! That's what I did quite a few times, and this is one of those! Good gods, that it stayed with me and didn't take that humongous amplification, unlike some stupidities, and push me to tell it to those people involved.

For some reason, throughout my life the girls that I come across with the name Priyanka were all on the best looking category. It started from the one that I have been trying to forget but couldn't do so! And henceforth the flashback begins…

Statutory warning: There is no message at the end of this misery called a series of comical sequences in the life of yours truly.

"Dude, I have nothing to do for the next few hours? Do you want to go to the Marina beach?" Guna tried to make it sound as an unusual remark to overcome a fact that we are always jobless.

"Yeah! Let's go there! I know that one of my friends is coming there today with a couple of her friends…! Dude! She is so damn pretty da…quite lately I have been thinking of falling in love with her!" said Santhosh, indicating the motivation factors to step in and start our walk towards the coast.

In a jiffy we were along the coastlines of the Marina, trying to find the three seemingly good-looking girls. After quite a while, looking for them all along the second largest beach in the world, we found them near the waves. We were a group of six notorious young "wannabe" men, at least we thought so. So, everyone around was looking at us for the reasons that we did not want to know. But all we wanted was that one look from her and she did. "Cloud 9!" I screamed within myself!

After few following stints, it started to get monotonous. As for me, I did not find her particularly attractive. She was good. But nothing in her shook me, the way I wanted to be. So I was trying to find someone else to entertain my late-teen self for the rest of the evening, so was the other four with me…. all of a sudden…something stuck us…we thought of using the camera we had ….and may be get a good picture of her.... so she lasts longer than she would!

Now, who is going to take it…and it's important that we need to get a good closer shot…tough job indeed…. and henceforth we needed a scapegoat …someone who doesn't think about the world, rather at that time world is just those girls, or someone for whom it doesn't matter…. well we had one guy who was a perfect fit…and he was the volunteered one…Hemanand…. We went closer….

We stayed a few steps away…and he approached…as he heard the three girls were talking bout what means a world to them, the color combinations on their dhuppatas!! He stepped in closer…jus 3-4 ft distance … with the camera in the right place for the snap….

I don't know if it's the movies or in reality, a beautiful girl always hangs out with a couple of below average ones (dochus) and always stay in the right position! Not that I want to make statement about the other two, but even in this case, she was hanging out with them and sitting exactly in the middle as the side fiddles talking as I said what meant the world to them. She was in the perfect position as if she knew that we were going to take a picture.

"Excuse me" he screamed, the moment they looked at him. Clicked it. Thanked them. Swooshed in 2 seconds.

Obviously the Paprazism doesn't happen to them quite often, hence they were perturbed. They picked all their stuff and started to follow him, as he started running. We all did not know how to react and hence scattered all around the beach. This is not something that we all wanted to do, but something excited us and we followed the gut feeling that turned in to partial guilt. We ran all over the place, and finally finished the evening, meeting back at our usual joint near my place.

After an argument of developing/exposing it…we finally agreed on seeing how it came out to be….right away we paid our visit to the studio.

Few days passed by as we started to forget what happened. One fine evening, Santhosh stopped by to show us those pictures.

The picture was not perfect! But she was! For the 37th time in my life, I claimed that 'I am in love for the first time'. She was ravishingly beautiful, much better than how I saw her in person. But then, Santhosh was interested in her, henceforth as a sacrificial anode, I had to control my emotions that were overflowing.

Days passed by, Santhosh found a new interest. Never told me why he found a quitter in himself. I was more jobless…So I planned to cement my Love. I was exactly like those road side Romeos that you get to see in Tamil movies, making fun of people around me, trying to get her attention in all possible ways. And the fact that she was living a few streets away from me helped to stay within her spectrum of vision and thoughts. Finally, she knew me for all possible reasons that I don't want to know.

As a matter of fact, I asked her once if she needs a ride back home from her software center, where she was waiting on something. She smiled, which by the way shook me the way I wanted to be, and said that she would some other day as she is expecting someone to pick her up that day. I know it sounds stupid now, but then it was bliss then. She smiled!

Part 2 is here

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I know I have ruined my reputation of regularity in the blogosphere, but couldnt help because of the priority issues. Research and other stuff held the spectrum of my thoughts strictly within the limits of Chemical Engineering and surroundings. Here I am using the few moments I have to try and rebuild my reputation!

The 48 laws of Power byRobert Greene is a book thats hard to digest as well as forget. I guess I was in my 3rd year Engineering when I stumbled upon this. All the 48 laws definetlyworth a read, but I am going to stick on to the one which was occupying my mind for a while now.

Law 5

So Much Depends on Reputation Guard it with your Life

Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once you slip, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them

My agreement with this is just partial. When it comes to power, may be the above law holds true, but for the day-to-day existence and character development its not entirely true. Reputation is something thats developed on a slower basis, especially a good one, while it takes just an instance to spoil it.

Bad reputation:The strength of the reputation is an important factor. For example, the amount of time that would take a common man/woman to believe a new made-up infidelity issue onGeorge Bush and Bill Clinton going to be phenomenally different. The person would believe the Clinton issue much faster than the Bush issue. This is truly because of the reputation the latter possess.

Good reputation: From the sports perspective, take the final seconds of a 90s Bulls basket ball game for instance.The amount of concentration that Michael Jordan would attract just because of his reputation of winning those kinds of games is way beyond the rules of normality.

Well, least said. Reputation is important and guarding it is even more.

Now whats the effect?

Does reputation control the thought process? Yes it does and its important in its own way.

Let me talk from my standpoint, in a room if there is a hot discussion on some topic of common interest, a familiar crowd would feel disturbed if there is no noise from my side. Be it sense or not, an opinion is what people expect from yours truly.Most of the time someway or the other I get to talk less non-sense before the gibberish, but sometimes I have to fight the thought process that urges me to talk something, instead of the best sensible thing that I would come up with a little more time. Fortunately, I was able to win most of my own fights, thought it might not appear so.

Again, from the sports perspective, how many times have we seen high-caliber players succumb to their own reputation-pressure? Sometimes, I am a match-winner thought and I need to win this thing, comes to the mind more than strategizing the victory pattern. Finally, ending up in losing it due to the own pressure. MJ for instance have lost more games than he has won with his last minute antics. But the amount of effort and time that someone with a good reputation spends on safe guarding cannot be quantified. Anyways, let me not attract the ESPN crowd here.

Does the possibility of the rejecting reputation and being ourselves exist?

I guess it does.

If you think a little bit, you would understand that reputation is a derived quantity. Its not necessarily true. Most of the times we dont even know what our reputation is with the concerned people. After all, each one of us is not Michael or Bill. So, whats the point in controlling your thought process, in instances where you dont even know about your reputation? Dont you think that its more of a burden? Try to throw it and act like yourself. I am sure you will definitely appreciate the freedom you get in the thought process. If we can do this with expendable acquaintances, we can do it with everyone else? How tough is this? Trust meon this, its not easy. But once you figure out a pattern to do this and realize that

Your reputation is in the hands of others. That's what a reputation is. You can't control that. The only thing you can control is your character. --Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Its an amazing ride from then on. People tend to take slow or fast steps in attempting to understand you based on your reputation, but its your character that makes them stay with you longer or shorter. May be we should try and remember that when we walk through our decisions.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Well, will I get any perks for flaunting my weakness today!?
May be the perk would be learning how not to consider it as a weakness anymore.
Anyways, I am talking about my ‘No’-disability! For some reason, ‘No’ was one of the most difficult words for me to pronounce. So most of the time, I opt to skip it and use the easy ‘Yes’ instead. Have I landed in to any problems because of this? Yes, a whole bunch of it, but as I say here, it was all temporary and was never a part of my worry set. My worry set will always include simple things like procrastinating a research assignment or dinner for that matter. So, its just trivial things I worry about, and in most cases, the bigger things are never even considered as a problem in the first place.

There is not a single instant I have said a ‘yes’, when I get this smallest speck of thought on the consequences, which could be huge, but at the same time, it takes an eternity for me to tell a ‘No’ there, even when it is quite obvious from the first instant.

This could have been in one of Wonder Years story, but I guess it would be a great example to deliver my No-disability. I will try and make this short to make life easy for you. Anyways, this happened in the year 2002, I knew this American couple from one of my leadership adventures with the Indian association here. And the couple was not just a normal couple, instead they were living together..... and they also had a kid. Everything is fine, except for the fact that both of them were girls. And the kid was a result of their association with a donor (if you know what I mean). I did not know about this, until I knew them pretty well. Well, doesn’t matter, I don’t discriminate people based on their sexual apparatus, so I was myself as always.
Few months down the lane, an electronic shocker was sitting inbox, in the form of a request. They asked me if I was broad minded. As usual, I lied, I said “Yes”. The next email was something that I should have sent to my ancestors, to show the respect that someone from the western culture had on our cultural values and family traditions! The logical theory was at its best, I knew there has to be unbearable request attached to the much hyped email about India and Indian families. Yes there was! Poor scientists are still not able to figure out a direct way to make babies from the same-sex marriage. So the only option they had was to ask a donor, and since they were in love with the Indian tradition, they asked for it to yours truly. And my response was

I am honored beyond words. I know that this is a big decision for you, and so it is for me. Its going to take a little while before I tell you my decision,but for that I need to know more about what you exactly have in mind…..

A simple “No” would have ended the whole issue then and there. Instead I prolonged it for a while and finally after a bunch of hiccups I had to tell it in a different way. Diplomacy helped, but why was the delay in the telling the obvious NO with much contemplation on how to convey it.
When we say a ‘NO’, we feel like we are letting the other person down if we say it. We feel GUILTY even before we respond! So there we go, a Yes instead of a No. Or sometimes a prolonged NO.

What do we do? How do we get rid of this thing? Is there a way to do it? The only way to do it is to be insensitive? Or could diplomacy help?

Well, my niece, almost 3 years old, thinks for 0.0123 secs before responding with a No. May be that kind of a little knowledge on people’s sensitivites would help!?
Its easy to respond with a No for someone who is trying to sell a crappy T-shirt across the street. But it is not easy to tell a No to some friend who is asking you do something during the busiest span at work. Even just the considerations of sensitivity factors would hinder the No answers.

Or it’s the bond with the consequences of the “Yes”. For example, my friend would never let anyone touch his most priced possesion. Ofcourse that’s his bike (motorcycle). He just hates to see any of the freaky technical changes that he claims to happen when someone else other than him uses it.

Atleast from the professional side, may be we can do this, Practice. Think before we answer. Think about the requests, whether they're for our time, energy, money, or something else? How does it feel to say yes? How does it feel to say no? Which feels better? And when we say it, we should do it with grace – a matter of truth. If you can, refer them to someone else who can help them or show them how to do it for themselves.

Initially, apologies, excuses and guilt would be a part of it. But practice would demolish it. And people will start accepting the fact that we don’t yes all the time. Saying No to things that we don’t want helps us in a lot of ways and gives us loads of time to say yes to things that we want to do.

How to do this to our personal side of life? Teach me! If we can deal our personal side and the professional side in similar ways, may be it will be easy. But as for me that isn’t life. May be the inability of the “No” is what binds people together in the personal life. So on the personal side may be we opt to say 'yes' and stay with minor troubles for major happiness.

PS: Don’t tell me to read Don't Say Yes When You Want to Say No: Making Life Right When It Feels All Wrong by Herbert Phd Fensterheim, Jean Baer. I have been trying to find the book and time together for a long time now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


My life with roomies started from my first year of collegiate education - 1996….sounds like a long time ago! Since then I have never experienced an “alone” stint for more than few weeks, and when I do there is always someone I will find my fun with! Be it a roommate or a friend who shares the same thought process, the fun part will always appear, getting rid of the “alone” feeling!

Well, with roomies, the seemingly idealistic case is when we spend the few months/years of together time that we have and peacefully part with or without the sentimental bull and promises to stay in communication grounds, spending the rest of the lives trying hard to keep it in tact. Or sometimes we end up as great friends for the rest of our lives. But things doesn’t always flow this smooth! Sometimes turbulence prevails in every step we take!

“Don’t try to teach me how to live! I think I can manage at 22”

“I don’t think I can be with you guys any more. I can’t stand the way you guys make fun of me, and just me all the time”

Right after the regular Wal-Mart grocery shopping, “Well, I guess its time separate grocery bills! I don’t think I will eat chips, so I don’t want to share that in the bill”

And this happened even before the invention of cell phone, “I won’t receive any phone calls! So I guess I won’t share the phone bill”

All these quotes were from people who claimed to be my roomies one time or the other. So you can see I was not the best roommate in the world and so were they. Considering the fact that I had quite a lot of roomies (you are bound to when you have such a long student life) and only a few have lodged the first information report, I can claim to be a reasonably good human! May be all these roomies are the most important reason for the little patience that I think I possess. Anyways, let me step out of this autoroomiography and make this generic to make it an interesting reading material.

It is amazingly true that a good friend doesn’t necessarily have to be a good roomie and this holds true the other way too! The constraint holds good only when your character is almost framed, and is definitely false when you are stepping in the so-called character development stage. Most of the roomie problems start with the daily chores or stuff that involves money. I have seldom had/heard of roommate problems during my undergrad days when neither money nor the chores is a headache. Perhaps it’s the age thing, or may be it’s all those other petty stuff that derives this enormous amount of importance.

But life without a roomie wouldn’t be fun as well. Both from the monetary as well as from the fun perspective, it is easy with a roommate. I have seen loads of people who fail in the “adjustments-0001” course. The examination revealed that these people were never passed through the “life-with-a-roommate” phase and have learnt just to demand and not to accept. Life with a good roomie shows you lot of good things and life with a bad roomie teaches you even more. Again, good and bad is a personal definition so there is no point in arguing which one is right.

On the other hand, how could we create peace? As I said earlier, I have had several roomies and there is atleast one quality that I would like to learn from each one of them. And that attitude certainly sowed the seeds of harmony under the roof. This learning process was mutual most of the time, and I had my way through by making them believe that I might have one. More the qualities that we look for, more the harmony we derive. Sometimes, if we keep looking for those qualities in vain, it creates chaos as well. So it’s highly necessary to accept what they have and not expect a lot of what they don’t have. If we try not teaching life rather than learning it, I guess roomies wouldn’t be such a problematic term.

Remember to derive fun in everything we do. I had this roomie who was amazingly adept in cooking! Ofcourse it’s sarcastic! He had once displayed all his talents in the art of making something he claimed to be sambar. Everything was fine with that except for one thing. What he made was a bread sambar. Yes! you read it right. Bread was the major ingredient. Right off the bat, it was horrible. Couldn’t resist, but finished the dinner with curd rice et al without even going near the untouchable. Till date we cease his energy with this! Whenever he is in high state making fun of everyone around him, this story pops to shut him up! Like my soppu story. That day would have been a mess if we had irritated him as well as ourselves for making that sambar. Instead, we waited to appreciate his effort and not the product and till date its fun to get back and see how bad it was.

I don’t want to compare roomies to co-passengers in the life-train, where they get down as they reach their destination. Roomies are beyond co-passengers, sometimes they teach how to live and sometimes how not to! Either way it’s a positive progression. So you derive something with them and remember it unlike what you do with co-passengers.

When you are miles apart and even if you live and die with your cell phone and other communication devices, a “personal-comfort” is always priceless. Be it from a friend or from a roommate, it is worth beyond the words of expression. So when we claim that he/she is a bad roomie or a good roomie, be aware of the fact that it reflects what you are with him/her.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


August 8th, 1996

1650 hrs – Out of the Engineering Drawing class

1710 hrs – Meet outside the Saradharam hotel
1730 hrs – Take the point to point bus to Chennai and live happily ever after
No, this is not the plan devised by a couple to elope and marry.
More than 12 late teen first year folks (freshmen) were devising this amazing fool-proof plan to get the hell out of what once considered as an obnoxious cant-stay-for-even-a-week place. However, this place was later termed as heaven by the same folks. Annamalai University, my undergraduate institution, is the place that was accused to have instilled the Chemical engineering concepts inside me, instead in reality, ended up teaching the art of learning more than Chemical engineering.
Anyways, all these plans were to fly away from the senior pressure. To avoid ragging!

Everything worked out well except for the fact that we had two seniors who were waiting for us in the bus and tagged along till the end. The journey, itself is a big story all together, was filled with public dance performances, accosting a stranger girl, selling watches, asking the flight timings to the bus-conductor etc. Nevertheless, its one of the best trips we all had. As a matter of fact, this so-called interaction was entirely positive. Even though at one point of time atleast one of our gang member’s stupidities was glorified in public, every one of us enjoyed it. At the end of journey, every one of us had this same thought process if this is what ragging all about then I am having fun with it.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case, most of the time. Some people not only fail to understand the reason for the very existence of this culture, but fail to even listen. The attitudes of some of our forgettable acquaintances are astonishing, extracting fun by shear intimidation. Some of them get their work done in a harmless fashion. Whereas, some might get hurt in the process, if I can just use “hurt” for that matter.
I have heard suicide stories, homo-sexual encounters, physical abuse and even murder. For people from South India who knew about my institution, I am sure that the title of this post would have definitely popped up the shocking Navarasu story that happened in 1996. For others, in short, a first year student was murdered and his body was sliced into pieces and was transported to different parts of the state in order to create a diversion and escape from the murder trial. The reason was later found and was termed as ragging.

Following the incident, a very stringent Tamilnadu Prevention of Ragging Act was enforced in 1997. When he died on November 6, 1996, authorities found his severed body parts in a hostel room. Navarasu was a first year student of the Raja Muthaiah Medical College, Annamalai University, in Chidambaram. He was 19. Though his hostel-mate John David later admitted to ragging Navarasu to death and the Cuddalore district and sessions judge on March 11, 1988, awarded him a 36-year sentence, a division bench of the Madras high court acquitted him in October 2001. There was a furor across the state, and rumors of money changing hands between the judges and the defendant's family gained ground.

Now I see that the person who killed this fresher is outside based on the reason that circumstantial evidence was not sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt.

Well, let me not get deeper into this piece of information and digress.
Anyways, the point I was trying to nail here is the attitude and understanding. Most of us are blind followers of tradition. People for some reason, are happy following what was executed earlier and reported to be successful in extracting fun. If we pay a little attention, we can understand that the people who tend to go away from these unwritten rules called tradition and sill find a way to extract more positive outcome are called trend setters. Sometimes, we come across different kind of people who create a negative impact and assume them to trend setters. Ragging was one such activity. What was once an interaction medium was converted in to intimidation medium!
Some people claim that ragging helps in preparing the fresher to the more demanding life ahead of them. It instills patience and teaches them how to cope with the ever changing world around! Well, atleast for the professional colleges in India, the teachers themselves are behaving well enough to intimidate and tease the pride of the students to instill patience and all other sub qualities that we were supposed to learn through ragging. So, the middle finger is way up for this reason to promote ragging!
I don’t want to be the lord, preaching you to seek happiness in other’s peace. Get practical! Most of us forget to understand actions. If we take a minute and think, why are we doing this? What are the reasons behind our actions? I guess we would be able to get rid of the intimidation part out of this and start to extract more positive fun.
The best part of ragging in India is that the wrong culture is slowly disappearing. Let’s hope the wrong culture vanishes and positive ways of increasing interaction prevails.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Communication hain! In vain!

Don’t worry this is not a Hindi post.

“Abbe, Mere ko thoda help chaaiyiye, tu free hain na?”, he asked, assuming that I can understand whatever he was trying to convey!
“Kabhi haan kabhi naa” I said, the first movie title that came to my mind, as my ass fuming on his assumption!
“Acha, sun…” and he started talking something which is no where near my comprehending capabilities! After extreme difficulties, I had to search, invent and live with words like Ruk… Nahi or something like that to stop him in the middle to say that I really did not know that my first answer failed to convey the message that I don’t know Hindi and am really bad at it.
Hindi along with English is listed as the official language of India and a significant number of people use this language to communicate, yet I was able to survive my 25 years, actually 26 as of today, without knowing it. As a south Indian, it was never a big deal for me. I am not sure about the other states, but as for Tamilnadu, you aren’t lost without Hindi. Considering the fact that my school population was dominated by a fair amount of Hindi speaking people, my Hindi skills(!) are quite surprising to most of my acquaintances. On the other hand the Northern most part I have been to, in India, is may be somewhere in Andhra! So, I never felt the necessity.
Yet, it never stopped me from going to all those so-called contemporary classics of my age! Hindi movies! I still can’t forget Dil to pagal hain 1st day 1st show. Couldn’t get a better ticket, so paid Rs.65 for Rs.6.50 ticket and was watching the movie from the second row. This is time when subtitles were like time travel….impossible to achieve….especially in theatres . The climax was on…needless to say that I was lost…
“Rahul! Nam tho sunna hoga!” or something like that. Shahrukh Khan was about to dump the gorgeous Madhuri (the very reason for me being there) and himself, when Guna and myself couldn’t understand a single speck of what’s happening in the movie! …What the hell..? They were just singing together…why in the world they are dumping each other! is what I was thinking!
That’s when I saw that….two typical Indian girls in the first row…in tears with uncontrollable emotions!
“Guna! I think this is an emotional scene. May be we should react!...What ya say?” I did not have a clue how to respond!
“Ok! Mams. Let’s appreciate the acting! There is nothing else we can do” he said, and thus we ended the emotional exhibitions with a row of whistles for Shahrukh and Madhuri’s acting…who as usual did nothing but walked away from each other and called it as acting skills. Ended up saving some of the worst “Are you from this planet?” stares from the folks who were involved in the senti”mental” sorrow.
So, in summary! This is how we both reach each other. I meant Hindi and Myself! Never goes well together.
But it’s quite different when you are outside India or may be outside Tamilnadu. Almost, everyone assumes that you understand Hindi. Let me not delve deeper in to the sanity of that assumption. But, not knowing a language that most of the other country folks think as one of the basic attributes of a person from India could be hurting. I have had people asking me, “You mean to say that you don’t know the language the most of your country folks speak?” Before explaining the fact that, I can still be at my best in my country without knowing it, and sometimes arguing it based on the distributed Hindi speaking populations and dialect stories, it would occur that perhaps I could have avoided a whole lot of crap by knowing Hindi.
For some reasons, all my attempts to marry Hindi failed miserably.
I still remember one of my good friends emailing me about my completeness as an Indian association Leader with a little Hindi skill. In the end, I turned out to be better than few of my predecessors who were blessed with all language capability.
Perhaps it’s a South Indian thing, which is sealing my brains from learning and understanding Hindi. Or it’s a jinx of some kind. But from where I was, I have certainly improved and have started to accept and understand it or at the least attempting for it.
“Abbe, amazing catch! yaar!” I was attempting to appreciate a decent catch on the field that day, when a friend of mine noticed a tinge of Hindi.
“Baratha…Kya bath hain! You are good man! Hindi and you…may be you both are coming together yaar” he said.
Abbe, amazing catch! Yaar, if this is Hindi. I think I can survive anywhere overseas.
In anycase, as you see, I have never felt the necessity of learning it. I was never pushed to a point, where Hindi was my only way out. All I hope is that if a situation arises and when I understand the necessity, it shouldn’t be late. Right now, may be the Abbe, amazing catch! Yaar Hindi is good enough to be in this clan and say that I can manage with the language that atleast 180 million people in India speak!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Student..! Eternal!?

“6 X 7 = 44”, I said as the Evert in my mom demonstrated her forehand skills to my Cerebellum!

“Tables are the most important thing for the rest of your life! You make sure you are not making any mistakes!” she said as I struggled without realizing a calculator would help me in years to come! – It was 1983 and I was forced to listen.

“Physics, Chemistry, Biology….ah you go! it’s not going to be easy this year. You better start getting serious…No more baby talks brother!” my brother was competing for the most improved Satan of the year award! It was 1987 and I was confused and did not have a clue if I have to listen or not.

“Well, it's 9th standard. This means no more street-cricket. You need to pull your socks and work your heart and soul to get in to the first group!” my father was dead serious and something in my heart said may be he is right! Lets do it! …after last few days of cricket and fun....... It was 1993 and I was changing.

“What do I say? I still can’t understand why and how you screwed it up! Your marks are not that bad …but certainly doesn’t reflect your skills” my mom was concerned.

“Maa! No worries…for this mark I will get the group that I want to go in…Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Comp. Sci with French!…I still can’t understand what’s the big deal in this 10th standard exams. Its just a formality to get in to a group” with vengeance and furious anger I claimed myself to be the Lord!

“Shut up Barath! After scoring like this, you dare to raise your voice!?” that’s mom’s way of telling I don’t have an answer!! It was 1994 and I started to talk.

“Barath!!? Its 4.10 in the morning!!” my dad woke me up!

“Yes appa! Am up!!” I responded with my 12th standard chemistry book right beside me.

0420 coffee. 0745 breakfast. 0815-1405 Gill Adarsh. 1445-1700 Math or French tution. 1800-2130 Physics and Chemistry. 2200 dinner. 2230 homeworks, exams preps etc., 2345 and after sleep. ….0420 coffee again! No weekends! No holidays! Day in and Day out this was my schedule for a year! That’s how middle class corps works!!

I fell in love! With an open category (OC) dream, called a professional degree. May be it was a forced dream!It was 1995, I was focused for the first time.

“Well, you have options Mr.Barath. Chemical or Computer Science? Which one do you prefer!?” I can’t bet if I was the first on in the world, but I am sure I was the only one in the room thinking that Chemical Engineering sounded geekier than computer science! It was 1996 and I started to see a future!

“Machi! Could you explain this shrinking core model!?” my friend was absolutely lost in translation. As for him, Chemical Engineering was Latin.

“Mams, it’s the first one on the Appadithan concept list!” I kindled!

“What the f(*& is that? Man are we in the same planet..did I skip a chapter”, he was thinking loud!

“Appadithan means “it’s like that”, which means you can’t understand a shit! You will, when you do your masters degree! So, shut your garb and assume that you understood and just puke it back if you need marks. For heavens sake, we just have 2 hrs before the exam”…did I just let my secret out!!? I guess it was 1998 and I was not even attempting to work!

“Perfidious?” I asked Vivek, who ran the query in his word-list-data-base-system and said, “Treacherous, Disloyal..!”

“Perfecto!” I said as we explored our brilliance with Barrons! It was 1999, I was preparing for the inevitable brain drain.

“Did you finish the assignment? If so, email the file to me. I will make some changes and submit! After the cafeteria job…I don’t think I will be able to finish the homework myself” my earthquake friend cried as he was trying to be in touch with his M.S course material. It was 2000, and I was working!

“Dr. I guess I can say that I just finished my final exam of my final course in life!” which means I did not have anything to talk for that meeting that day.

“Never say that Barath! You will never know how much you would have to learn later in life! May be you have a PhD in the making!” said my advisor! It was 2002, and I was en route to add a couple of letters more to my educational adventures!

“Dei Chinni! How are you?” my friend usually calls me with all new made up names, especially in the excited state!

“Who the f*&^ is that? Chinni?” I had no clue what he was talking about!

“Machi that’s you da…you are the only one in our gang who is still a student…25 and studying!! You are our Chinni Jayanth da” I was rolling on the floor for this! (for non-tamil folks, Chinni Jayanth is a film artist who is known for acting as a college student even at his late 30s)

Did I just finish my last course work, my candidacy et al and finally have just my research left?Its year 2005, I am still a student and loving it. I am listening. I am changing. I am working. I am learning and with all this I am living! Living in a dream of reality. A technocrat in the making, killing an almost eternal student!? May be in days to come! Right now I have nothing but “I am still an academic student” to proclaim! And sure I am in love with these last few months!


Monday, September 05, 2005

50 and HOT, and Tag

50 and HOT

I wish it was my age and the statement is true, apparently its not and I don’t know if it will be true when am!

How do I begin? I am not good in thanking people, especially the ones who are close to me. So here I go folks, as I realize that this is 50th post since I started, I thought I should appreciate your regular/occasional glance at my blog without which there is no motivation for new ideas. So keep visiting and don’t dare to stop motivate me with your comments.

If you are used to my posts, am sure you will approve the fact that I give a lot of details, necessary sometimes and trivial most of the times. Ofcourse, there are a gazillion more imperfections that people tend to enjoy as well as criticize! May be I will change in days to come, so if you guys have any suggestions on any of the aspects with respect to the posts, comment and let me know and lets hope that the dude inside me listens to it.

Now let’s get back to the blogosphere.
Tag!! - Could'nt say No to this
I generally don’t prefer Tags…but Iam not a great “No” person too! So here we go Ghost this one is for you. Can’t say a “No” to you!

Seven things you plan to do before you die!!

Travel around the world
Understand Love
Make more friends
Write a book
Try to be a professional athlete for 1 day
Stop Tags

Seven things you can do!!

Stop writing this Tag
Be a little less straight forward
Stop analyzing trivial things
Be a better phone person
Fight the fights that can be won, before reasoning it!
Read more
Write more

Seven things you can't do.

Shut up
Beat up
Increase my tolerance limit
Stop helping
Be someone else

Seven things that attract you to the opposite sex!!

Eyes, hair and the simple dress sense
Knowledge and attitude
Sense of humor
Affection and organization
The way some of them confuse their maturity to men’s immaturity
Being a female itself

Seven things you say most!!!


Seven celebrity crushes (People I want to be like (Iwtbl) or be with (bw))!!!

Michael Jordan (Iwtbl)
Sachin Tendulkar (Iwtbl)
A.R.Rehman (Iwtbl)
Rajinikanth (Iwtbl)
The Basic Instinct Sharon Stone (bw)
Minsaara Kanavu Kajol (bw)
My girl friend (bw) - After finding one!

I am not a great Tag person…But still I will tag a few just to annoy them!!!


Friday, August 26, 2005

Car, living room, earthquake and days after! WY-3 - Part 2

Part 1 is here

But….I responded with the accelerator instead of the brakes!

In few seconds I was inside my living room. Yes! I looked back to see that the car was right inside my living room.

“What the f#$%? The walls used to be stronger in India!” said one of my multiple personalities!

How did I penetrate my own living room! How much do I have in my bank account!? What am I going to do… were the thoughts that were flowing thro’ my mind as I pulled my car out of my living room! Soppu was still undisturbed. I gave her that piercing look and said “We are divorced”. She smiled back and said, “We were never married” with just a few scratches on her forehead.

My friend, who was fighting for world peace upstairs, came down running. If a car can pierce through the wall, imagine the tremors in the room right above the living room! “Machan! Earthquake!” that’s what he was shouting! I gave him that look that gleamed with Pride and Honor! “It’s me” I said, without taking my eyes off the achievement!

The car that was assumed to be a useful piece for in-town activities, ended up to be used for in-house activities! In few minutes, I understood that I cannot do anything about it. So, I said to myself, “Let us enjoy this moment!” and hence the cameras popped up! Digital cameras were luxury then, so bear with the scanned versions!

Inside view

The cops and the landlord came to witness the miracle. They were amazed by the fact that the unthinkable happened! The cop was dumbfounded and this was the conversation.

Cop: “Hello Sir, are you okay?”
Me: “No, I won’t be until I know what the consequences are”
Cop: “Can I have your License Sir”
Me: “No Sir, I don’t have one!”
Cop: “Oh! Can I have your learners permit?”
Me: “No Sir, I don’t have one!”
Cop: “Oh! Do you know your License plate is expired 4 months ago?”
Me: “No Sir, I don’t”
Cop: “Do you have any kind of insurance to this car?”
Me: “No Sir, I don’t”
Cop: “Oh, Man you could end up in jail for this!”
Me: “No sir I don’t want to”
Cop: “Are you the one who just ran the car inside the living room?”
Me: “Yes, Sir I am”
Cop: “I know. I am just making sure that you know to say yes”

Well, after the initial formalities the cool cop took some pictures for some insurance issues. Luckily, I had a way through the mess without doing anything, which the cop handled. And the rest of the day was filled by seeing the mess from different angles!

Front view
Two days after this incident, I was at a coffee shop, waiting on the line to pay for the celebration. A bunch of undergraduates, were enjoying their ignorance, as they were talking about some funny incident that happened near their apartment complex.

This white guy who standing in front of me, with his excitement popping out as much as his eye balls, was narrating something to his friends, “There was dis guy wita huge car who jus slammed in to his own livin room man! That was so damn kool!! I have neva seen nythin like dat bfore!” without realizing that I was right behind him.

After listening to it, I said, “Buddy! It was me. Do you want to see some pics?”

Other view

The funny part of this story was that the whole similar kind of a mishap happened again, to the same wall. Six months later! The cops was rolling on the floor and laughing at us! This time it was my friend, the one who came down running did the honors with a different car. He was not able to match the standards that I had set, but he certainly did well and made it easy for us to get out of that apartment right after that without any problems with the lease!!

Earthquake friend and myself

May be we should have had a Stop sign right in front of our apartment. As for the house, its still struggling without a good door!

Here we go! One last good lookat it!...Man I did a good job!

The Final Look

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Car, living room, earthquake and days after! WY-3 - Part 1

I guess its time for a less serious post! This is one of my best kept secrets from home and I guess I don’t have to store it anymore! Here we go with one of my Indiana Jones stories!

Grad student life is different from what we think it is before we come here. I don’t know about others, but for me USofA was all about technology and comfort before I came here. I was not exactly looking for Skyscrapers around me but I did not expect a small township as well. Cookeville was one such town. But you can’t ask for a better place than this to do your Grad studies. Extremely affordable cost of living, above average nice people who are willing to understand different cultures amidst those usual morons and more than everything, it’s so damn small and connected. Especially, within the Indian community that is not more than 120-140 in number, which never let you walk alone in the few years of Cookeville life. Everyone is a celebrity and everyone is a kid to be taken care of! Even if you break the wind, people will get to know it in a jiffy! It’s that small!

It was more than 4 years ago, when one of my friends told me about our senior’s car which was lying in the parking lot, asking for help. This amazingly huge almost antique piece was in very good condition with respect to Cookeville standards and henceforth was assumed to be a useful piece for in-town activities. All we had to do was to change the tires and start using it, which took us less than 100 bucks! Hence in no time, we the 4 roomies were the owners of this late 1980’s Oldsmobile car. We did not pay a penny for it as the owner was happy to get rid of it in the first place. The car was functioning properly, we drove it in the parking lot and hence we were good to go!

Everything is set, except for one thing. None of us had the License to hit the roads. And hence we coasted towards the walls! The car was in the parking lot for a while with occasional visits from us to drive only on the space outside our apartment complex. We named her Sopanasundari (Dream girl) and not Swapnasundari (the correct way of telling it).

It was April 9th 2001, Monday

One of my roomies was pretending to work in those browsing centers that are diplomatically called as PC labs. The other one was sleeping his day off around noon. The last one was tired and almost dying with a viral fever or something like that. The only one who was home and conscious was yours truly. It was then, my desi-neighbor, Ramdas who was just 5 apartments away, came by for the usual onions and cooker issues.
Our apartments were duplex kinds, where we have the living room and the kitchen and in the ground floor and the two bedrooms in the 1st floor. So when I say he was 5 apartments away, it’s on the same row, which is less than 30 seconds walking time.

Few minutes after he conquered the onions and the cooker, I asked that question,

“Ramdas, do you need a ride back home!?”

I still wonder, why I asked that question. I was so damn bored, I wanted to do something, and hence driving, which was always an adventure with Soppu!

In minutes, I drove him home! I dropped him and returned to my apartment when all his roomies and his friends who had gathered there was looking and smiling at my sweetheart. Well, now that Soppu had her attention flowing, she was supposed to be parked!

Soppu! She looked amazing and exactly married! Huge and undisturbed.

Our parking lots are different. Every apartment was allotted two spaces facing the front entrance. The space between the car front and the wall will be approximately 3 ft. Soppu was parked exactly how it should'nt be..the amateur driver was still learning. But then the perfectionist inside me wanted to finish it in style. As a matter of fact, he did. I changed the gears from Drive to Reverse (automatic craps)…with my right forearm over the passenger seat…I was hoping to re-park her! I wasn’t expecting to disprove Newton’s Second law, but Soppu did not react! She wasn’t moving back…I used all my force to the accelerator, the car went in the wrong direction….front instead of the reverse direction.

Instincts popped up to say! “Hey! Baburao! Press the brakes”

“Yes Mr. Instinct” I said.


Part 2 is here!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Did I tell you that I recently tied the knot? Yes, I did. I was married to Laziness. She was pretty, cozy and extremely tempting, so my resistance was limited. I was with her for a week. She was extremely possessive and did not let me spend even the limited time that I do with my blogs and other activities. Apologies! Now that we are going through a rough patch and might even lead to divorce, I am here with you again to be strictly ideal.


How often do we judge someone or something and at the same time on a different plane hate being judged? Hypocrisy is one way of reasoning it or may be it’s just an imperfection that we fail to comprehend. I have seen and been in situations like that, where preconceived notions play a major role in the so called “virtual-image” (VI) development. This could also be understood as visual interpretation. What I call as VI here is the so-called image that we create about others and use them to judge, analyze and evaluate. This VI could be totally opposite to what the person is in reality, or could be mixed with some reality as well as some own notions.

Lot of my friends has told me that I was totally not the person what they initially thought I was going to be like. I don’t want to comment on the truth of that statement, but the real truth is that the assumption that is based on your initial image comprehension doesn’t necessarily have to be true. We all understand that the first impression is the best impression, but one should also comprehend that its time that is going to shape the truth rather than ones’ understanding of initial actions. The chances of one showing their whole self in the initial few understandings is very very less. So, if one concludes their characterization based on the initial few understandings, it certainly doesn’t fall under the sensible decisions category.

We always remember not to judge the book by its cover, but we fail to practice it. Regardless of what the person is, we tend to frame that VI and try to place all the actions based on that. In some cases, the other person gets to read the VI that you have on him/her and sometimes tries not to do anything that’s would corrupt it. For example, for some reason, if one of your friends believes that you are a religious person and appreciates it literally, and say you are not towards idol worship, the chances of you arguing your ideologies on this topic with him/her is not very high. I am not sure if this is a great example, but the point is that sometimes you don’t want to disturb that image that he/she holds on you. Especially, if it’s on the brighter side! And what we fail to comprehend sometimes is that there are false images on the other side as well that we are not exposed to. Say, a person holds a wrong perception about you, and the probability of this person telling this to you is not high. And if you realize, this image is based on what you are not really. So, by not being yourself you tend to project this false image that hurts your so called true self.

What we are actually practicing is denying the reality and understanding the VI. Sometimes we have fun with it, by seeing how away the VI is from the real us. But sometimes we don’t know what’s the VI is. In both cases, we don’t gain much by being someone else and hiding our true self. If being ourselves is going to hurt someone or something, we tend to rethink and change a little bit of us to fit in to the peace category. But if we keep doing it forever, we tend to lose our real identity and stay back on that veneer of someone else that people around us wants. On the other hand we also have to realize that we tend to do the same mistake! Making an assumption and analyzing someone without any true knowledge about them, is a blunder that one should not commit. I still remember one of my friends saying this Mother Theresa quote to me before I came here, “If you spend too much time judging people, you won’t have time to love them”. It’s hard to follow it completely, but if you hate being someone else, you better expect the same from everyone around you and accept them the way they are.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Is life better when it’s singular? I really don’t know! I have never been plural before and I don’t have any complaints except for the fact that like all men I always tend to propagate towards plurality! Either trying to add something that’s fun or family!

It was one of those, designated-driver Friday evenings for me, when few of us were discussing crap over some Miller lites. As we were talking about life and time being monotonously up-yours’ing and the fact that we needed a break from celebrating stupidity, a camping plan was born! In less than few minutes, almost 2 45 am early morning we started driving towards Smoky Mountains in search of camping spots. With neither the motel reservations to cuddle with the few hours of necessary sleep nor the camping reservations, we were driving towards a so-called spontaneous adventure ahead of us! No worries! I am not going to describe the trip here which is of no importance to you! But to provide a closed form, let me take a sentence. We went there, found a motel after a couple of hrs, found a camping spot along with the rain gods, camped in the rain, talked non-sense around the camp fire with dripping water, went for a 60 minute trail along the stream next morning, checked out few artificial rides and were back in 37 hours! We did not do anything different, but yet it was fun spending few hours without thinking about anything else.

As soon as I got back to my abnormal usual, I was thinking if I would ever do this if I was married, this spontaneously at 0245 hrs? I don’t think I could. It’s a different story when you get married. Not that I know anything by experience but just a prediction. When we are married, the fun part will be doing this whole thing spontaneously and may be making it more on a romantic plane. But this is different! Comparing these two and commenting on what’s better is like talking about apples and air! No connection whatsoever!

The part I was thinking is, what is that we enjoy being single or romantically challenged, as the Orkut people call it. I might miss a few, disregard the ignorance and enlighten me!

As I thought about it a little loud, Mr.G suggested a few earlier overlapping thoughts on this. One of which I want to use. As such, let’s stick on to the two types of bachelors, primal (18-30 years old) and advanced (30+). Since most of the readership is from the primal bachelor clan, and I don’t have any clue on the advanced stage and I don’t have any intentions knowing about it either, so let’s see the life from the primal kind’s eyes. These gentlemen, fresh from schooling, are limited by the meager incomes that entry-level positions/ graduate-student salaries provide them. Thus, they sometimes tend to live in primal groups, pooling resources in order to maintain a level of adequate sustenance.

Thought pattern – Most of the time, the thought pattern is associated with the people around the visible and invisible friends. Family members do pop-up now and then depending upon how far you stay away from them. Anyways, the life steps are taken with total personal control and none blocking it. It wouldn’t be the case if one is truly married. Even if you are committed, it wouldn’t be the case. Every step you take in almost everything you do will be overtaken by the thoughts on your own family or other half. As such, this covers the whole thing that I want to say, nevertheless it’s better to describe.

Listening – We listen to ourselves and none else. Organized or disorganized. Clean or dirty. Whatever it is, we do it only when we feel like doing it. Regardless of the economic conditions/necessity, it’s the right of the primal bachelor to get what he wants when he wants! According to us, a person who differentiates his luxuries and necessities is someone who doesn’t know that we are ear plugged to those conversations. Things don’t work that way, when you are married.

Kitchen culture - The cooking place is never to stay for more than the cooking time. Daily cleanliness is not what we expect to extract out of the kitchen as long as it can feed us the right way, with reasonable taste and devoid of bugs. The kitchen keeps changing as we approach marriage. Initially, it would be in the impossible-to-clean category for quite a long time, and then it might turn out to the approachable category, then once a month cleaning stage and then once a week. After that you would be married!

Flirtations – You flirt with almost every member of the opposite sex even with a reasonably attractive class, and above all, you accept it! Be it a girl in a grocery store or your common friend whom we just got to know – we flirt and we accept it! If you are married, in most of the cases, you don’t like the consequences of accepting it. Exceptions are not examples!

There are whole lot of other areas we can address, bathroom manners, bedroom ideas, learning to spend, proactive living etc. All these, leads to one thing that bachelorhood is all about freedom and whereas marriage is something which constraints this freedom with some things that we would be convinced to reinvent us with.

Being a bachelor is more different than how an ordinary person, who has no clue about it, personify. “A man is a man until he marries, then he becomes a husband!” is a quote from If a Man Answers that I partially agree with. Because most of us are much different before we get married and we tend to change as we start growing up with someone else after we marry them. Right now all we can claim is that the marriage with the bachelorhood is as amazing as the real one in days to come. So letting it pass as we breathe the days out of it and reasoning it with responsible living is something on the grounds of future regrets!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Jai Hind!

I had this for the August 15th! But could'nt wait.

Jai Hind!

Wikipedia lists Jai Hind as follows.

Jai Hind is a salutation most commonly used in India in speeches and communications pertaining to or referring to patriotism towards India. It literally translates to Victory to India.

I can never say India is perfect but I am sure that we are so damn close to it. When I say Jai Hind it’s the shear pride that takes over than the prevailing thoughts of imperfections that I want to set straight.

May be it’s a mistake and that’s what is keeping us away from the ideal state.May be Mohan Bhargava is right that we seek asylums in the form of culture and heritage and forget to realize that we are far away from being the best. May be we have loads of work to be done to reach there and prove the world that we are incomparable in all forms.

Where? How? When? is for the experts/leaders questions to answer! To remember our right to choose them with hearts and brains and stay responsible as we breathe is how we reciprocate to our country! If everyone of us assume atleast 10 % of the responsibility that you expect from your leader, may be we will make this world realize the power of true India. Though I have responsibilities ahead, right now I take a moment with pride and honor to say that we are strong and we are the Indians!

With all heart!

Jai Hind - From Miles away!

ps - found Nehru's Aug 15th speech here from one of those comments ...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Would you come back!?

Almost everyone I met back home asked this question! In different forms, yes! They wanted answers that could solidify the perception that they had on the US of A. Almost everyone assume that they are safe and secure in the States. There is (atleast then there was) a preconceived notion that US is all about comfort, easy living, less-trouble etc. Especially the groom-hunters/bride-busters! Security is what they are looking for. Well, the answer is in the grey area. Lies well with in the bounds of the not-exactly type. There are a whole lot of positives and negatives, which is another post by itself and hence we shall talk about that later.

On the other hand, conservative amrus here would ask, so what’s your plan? Work here for a while? Are you thinking of staying back till you get your PR/citizenship or are u going even before that? Are you planning to settle here? Most of them are happy that international people are here for studies, but when a conservative person gets to know his/her chances are being hampered because of these bright less-meat brains, he/she turns out to be ordinary. In a way it’s true, we all know that employers want people with better efficiency and more brains. If that happens at less cost, why would they wait? Alright, let me not digress.

In essence the question is whether one would or could get back from here? The most important thing that people fail to realize is that, answering this question and taking a decision to get back is not easy. I certainly respect those who make these decisions. I have seen people who assumed that they knew what wanted to do; again, Steven Segal was right about mothering all F-ups. Then as time progresses, magically, what they wanted to do, change and they do something they claimed that they never would. Stay here forever without any intentions of returning. Well, the claims are amazingly very reasonable and in most of the cases you can easily relate yourself and understand the difficulties in those actions. So is this almost a point of no return? I hope not. In any case, coming back to the original question, is it possible to go back home for good? Well, I don’t want to dodge this bullet with “it all depends on the individual” or “it’s a matter of one’s priorities” kind of answers. Let’s face the truth and see if we can find an answer.

If we think on the questions of technological advances and stuff, take yourself a break! India is well within the same frame as the place that you think is highly advanced. Outsourcing has been from there in almost every case. Well, errr.... I had to write this just to include this cool cartoon.

Outsourcing Posted by Picasa (source: funonthenet yahoo group)
In all areas we are developing, here I go! Stole a post from Viji's blog which I think reflects the idea! From the speech by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times,
“When we were young kids growing up in America, we were told to eat ourvegetables at dinner and not leave them. Mothers said, 'think of thestarving children in India and finish the dinner.' And now I tell mychildren: 'Finish your maths homework. Think of the children in Indiawho would make you starve, if you don't’.”
So when we get back, we are certainly going to a better place, no questions about that.
When we talk about getting back home, the first thing that pops up is the usual question. Why do you want to go? If your answer is I want to serve my country. It’s respected and appreciated could be even recommended for Ms/Mr. World contest, but I want to be more pragmatic. If you intend to serve your nation, there are gazillion ways to do it regardless of where you are what you do.
So when you ask that question to yourself, why do you want to go back (or come back)? The answer is directed to another question, what is the change that you are looking for? Even about the normal occasional trips back home is associated with a change, say may be you are working you posterior off and want to take a break and be your disorganized self, or may be you need to witness someone else’s change, say a marriage or anything for that matter.
Most of the changes, places or people, happens or enforced to realize the positivities. I came from India, in an idea of pursuing graduate studies that would eventually lead me to temporary but necessary pleasure called money. Progressively, I learned lot more than what I thought I would, but still have loads to earn though! In a way, at that stage it’s a positive progression. One would not change from one place to another to realize negativity. Have you ever heard of a person who wanted to change what they are doing because they want to do badly? Never would that happen in anyone’s lifetime. If it does there is no life in the first place. Though some changes may appear to be completely stupid, with no visible positivities, the inner perceptions would definitely have some reason that we fail to personify. So, in words we can state the law of changes as “every change in the universe is associated with a positive progression”
Now that we know that the changes are associated with positive progression, the decisions should be based on what kind of change you are looking for. The most beautiful part about the changes that we are looking for is that, the changes that we want, keeps changing. As a confused school kid, I needed those words which said the things that I wanted to listen and hence for no specific reason other than the typical parental pressures I stepped in to something that I did not have any idea about, professional degree, and hence a positive progression. As a jobless undergraduate I thought US is all about opportunities and easy way through the art of money making and henceforth attracted towards the Masters program for the inevitable change. There are thousands of such examples! So as we progress, we divide the life in to several bits and pieces where the transitions are associated with a positive progression. Say, stages like attention, sports, girls, money, career, love, affection, happiness, peace etc., that are typical in any man’s life. When we step in each stage we look for some changes, when we truly know that this is the change we are looking for, I am sure we will be able to make the right decision. It all boils down, what are we looking for? And when are we doing it? May be it’s your kid’s educational development, may be it’s your parents health, may be it’s your own career move, may be it’s your other half’s decisional pressures, may be its anything. When your heart and mind says that this is the change that you are looking for and this is definitely going to create some positivity, you would get back home. No matter what you claim to be the best, that’s home and this is just a place you live.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Chennai Traffic

Chennai Traffic!
To mitigate the traffic congestion in the City, a sum of Rs. 22.60 Crore will be spent for construction of bridges and subways during 2005-2006. It is proposed to construct 5 Railway over bridges / Railway under- bridges during the year 2005-2006 and to make Chennai City level crossing free.
This is from one of those Chennai corporations’s policy list

Traffic congestion! Every one of us has been a part of it. Several times we could have even been the originators.

Don’t worry there is neither a preaching session nor a story ahead of you.

Recently, I was caught on an interstate hold-up here in I-65 on my way down from Indianapolis. Most of the time, here in the interstate the traffic never stops, if it does, it stays for not more than few minutes. This temporary traffic congestion was due to some merging lanes and road works that broiled my 20 minutes. My furiously impatient side was irritated at the lack of control I had over the situation, while the sometimes-sensible side was adulating my evaluations on the tolerance limits. I was telling myself why in the world am I getting irritated? I can’t do anything, stay right there and wait for the traffic to move. On the other side, I was thinking if my tolerance limit was reduced by a significant margin, when compared to where it was in Chennai. Then I realized that, in Chennai, I have never waited for the traffic to let its way, unless for some unpenetratable signals or the unavoidable traffic affairs. So the fact that I am waiting illustrated the increase in threshold from where it was! Why didn’t I do this there?

It was 4 years ago, when I visited Chennai, I asked my cab driver if he could reach the destination a little faster. Witnessing his right-hand-side driving skills was the last thing I had in my mind. For few minutes, I was not even looking at the roads. The cool driver responded with a smile and asked "why I was scared even after getting used to RHS driving in the USofA?" I was not in a frame of mind to answer the question, when almost 25% of the traffic was outside the driving boundaries! I know almost all of the time I used to drive, I was a part of that 25% educated illiterates.

For the past 3 years, I have never violated the lane rule in here!

I have been married to Chennai-driving for atleast 12 years now. Even today, if I get back, I cannot even think of a life without a two-wheeler. But, the fact is I still don’t have a two wheeler driving license.

It took me a 2+ years and a brick-wall, which I ran thro, to get my license here. I postponed it purposefully, but never in those 2 and odd years had I had the intentions to even place my little one on the driver seat. Not due to the inclination factors, but the fact that I don’t have license just stopped me from touching the wheel. May be its costly affair! Neverthless, it worked. I did not touch!

Now, the question is why was I not the same there? I have never seen/followed lane driving in Chennai. I have never seen/used indicators for lane changes in Chennai. May be it’s because the people around who never followed it, motivating me to be the part of the ugly mess. But if you see, to someone else you are one of the people around, and if we follow a rule, may be it will motivate another to do so and henceforth we might create something out of just being ourselves. Even here I break the rules sometimes, have had a couple of speeding tickets. But the frequency is comparitvely low, may be its the traffic patrol or my delta age factor.

Claim whatever you want! I can see people cribbing against all those public transportation people, enormous increase in spending power and access to vehicles, which was once a luxury, very little improvement on the road patterns/traffic rules etc. I am sure that this cribbing world will definitely approve that half of the traffic congestion problem would be resolved if everyone follows the city rules! It takes just the brains to understand but it’s the guts that will make you do it.

It is certainly not easy to be the odd person and follow the rules! May be its home and we tend to be ourselves (!) there. But when I hear numbers like 22.60 Crore that is being spent on solving traffic congestions, which would be easily done if everyone follows the rule; I hate to say I broke the law and was not a part of the few who followed it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Arranged Marriages!

“It’s amazing! I still can’t believe that it’s successful there. May be it’s a cultural difference. But, how can someone marry a complete stranger? I am just baffled! Well, explain...”

This is generally how a conversation goes right after the few-minute silences between an American and an Indian in here. Most of the time, they are astonished, amazed, awed….after witnessing and understanding its success or the ‘sucks-us’ rate!

“So your brother as well as your sister got married this way! Do you have someone waiting on you there to go and tie a knot?” is the general question I try to dodge diplomatically, else would lead to ‘true love’ and eventually to the ‘lord’ discussions, which I hate from the bottom of my pants!

Anyways, coming to think of it, it’s true that my brother as well as my sister are married to almost complete strangers then, and now celebrating life of reasoning and adaptation as happy as anyone! How in the world does it work?

What an arranged marriage is? It is something, which is fixed by someone other than the couple themselves, usually the parents. The cruelest are the ones which are forced by them sans the couple's interest/concern. While, the liberal ones, which is the way it is nowadays, start with just an introduction of the couple through their parents and the rest is up to the couple. Anyways, I think that it’s not a good idea to get in to the development or the definitions of the formal procedures that seems to be ever changing. There are various different kinds of arranged marriages. However, it’s too broad a topic to delve in to especially after realizing the truth on the level of cultural knowledge that I posses on the places like Japan, Bahrain etc, that follows it. Nevertheless, from an Indian perspective, I think I can drop my penny based on the reason that I have been exposed to it for the major part of my life education.

I had this same thought, but it was one of my friends who laid it in better words, before I could. It all boils down to behavioral pattern.

You belong to a certain religion and to a certain caste and in some cases, to a particular sub-caste just as your parents do. Interestingly, there are many other people with the exact same background. So, by choosing someone from that pool you have already achieved compatibility on an important level. In addition, if the two of you have a similar level of education and financial status, and have compatible interests also, then you are a long way into finding the ideal partner.

I think this is amazingly true. Well, let’s see from a behavioral perspective. It is hard for the other half to understand the behavioral pattern of families and relatives if he/she is not exposed to it in the first place. Right off the bat, the question pops up…Marriage is between two people… isn’t it? Well, excellent question! Accept it or not, regardless of what culture you are from, the truth is that Marriage is just not between two souls but between two families. So it is highly essential to understand and articulate both sides’ behavioral pattern to extract harmony. By marrying someone from a similar cultural background, any possibility of difference of opinions with respect to behavioral patterns is denied and henceforth happiness and peace prevails with respect to that.

On the other hand, the most important part that people think it fails to address the ‘true-love’ story. I am not taking sides here. I don’t want to dive in to this ocean where I would end up talking more on the definition of love, rather than positives/negatives of arranged marriage.

According to people who are successfully married through this arranged marriage system, Love is something that they extract by understanding and appreciating marriage.

“Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry” - Tom Mullen.

The arranged marriages of these days hope and fight to make the second part of the quote true and in most of the cases, it works. It also assumes that the first part of the quote can be achieved by trust and faith.

Okay, from a common-man perspective! If I assume, true love is all about extracting from each other! What if there is no resonance?

The possibility of having people from the same cultural pattern with completely different perceptions is not low. I still remember one of my friends telling me about her husband hopping in from a totally different planet with no common thoughts and completely blank when it comes to areas of her expertise, even in common life situations. Hence the complaints on this being a high-risk system, is not a surprise. This is what the parents or the people who arrange these have in mind when they start looking for grooms or brides. The concept of behavioral patterns comes within the framework of choosing someone from the similar cultural background. The resonance and thought pattern comes from the scrutinies that are involved with the education, family background etc. So, when the so-called formal introduction of families/couple happens, be in any form of setting, with a snack with families around or as a date, each other’s thought patterns are almost predicted well by the couple and henceforth are looking forward to surprise each other by revealing something that would generally involve long term perspectives on the future or haunting past if any. In both cases, they are educating each other in what happened and what they expect. If any of it disturbs anyone of them, the process is thought over time and so are the chances of an amalgamation and hence the answers follows based on the amount of compromises involved. So once the preliminary process is over, they step in to the institution called Marriage assuming they will stand by as well as surprise each other as they progress and understand life. If you think, isn’t this the same way you step in the case of a love marriage, except for the surprising part.

I have a whole bunch of friends who proclaim that they hate this system called arranged marriage. Most of them say, that no matter how long it might take, they would find the one as long as he/she can satisfy the set of rules they have. If you examine them, you would definitely find one addressing the behavioral pattern. I will fall in love, but I will make sure that she is Tamil Iyer from a different gothram…I have heard these as well. I truly don’t have the right to criticize individual thought processes, but I certainly have the right to say that I don’t want to think like that. Again, I am not taking sides here. I can certainly understand people, who say, what if I can find true love with all the constraints I have..? It is highly possible and its happening, but to assume that it is impossible to derive true love by reasoning and adaptation is something that I hate to perceive. Yet, if happiness is what everyone seeks, love or arranged, Marriage will deliver if you believe in it. And by the way, the person who thought her husband was from a different planet is living happily now, with the same person.