A Holiday

December 2nd, 2012

After many days and perhaps of months of work, often considered stressful, ones body begins to speak and mind too begins to speak up… Give me a break!
When one applies for leave to go on a holiday, its a feeling of bliss. After years of going on the usual holidays, as most of know, I realised that I never felt rested. I actually felt more tired than I started. It was not the case when I didn’t have to take a call when going on a vacation

Now that I had to take decisions and do much of the planning and take quite a few responsibilities, I realise it is more stressful to go on a holiday or a vacation.

I decided to redefine the concept of a holiday. But, for this I have been branded a miser and what not.But, then my carbon footprint would be minimal too.
For me a holiday is just a break from the routine. I hit upon the idea to take a few days off from work. But stayed put in the city. Like any day I would leave home for work. But, the difference? I never went to office.

I had to explore the city where I have spent bout 33 years. It had grown into a uncontrolled monster much of which I did not know what it contained. I may be able to sat how to go from Marble Arch to Piccadilly in London, thanks to the numerous novels and travelogues we come across every now and then which made these places very familiar and part of the vocabulary.

But, most of my city remains a mystery to me.

Armed with a bus pass, I took off, taking the first bus that I came across. And, alighting at the last stop… often places that I didn’t know existed. I felt ashamed of being ignorant of many of these places. Yes, there was a time as a reporter I have had to visit many laces. The expansion of the city over the last decade and the utter lack of proper connectivity between parts of the city meant that most people living in north Bangalore have no idea of what lies in the South or which is the farthest point in south.

I repeated this for six days in succession and realised that perhaps its time people began writing novels and made people familiar with my city the way many of the London-based novelists did.

Perhaps, its time for a political thriller with all the inner workings of the land encroachers and political classes; politicians of all hues have same colour in my city. Its more like Henry Ford’s statement: “You can have any colour as long as it is black.”

Now I am waiting to take my next “holiday”…

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Curd Rice on Swiss Alps

September 28th, 2012

Many do like to show off what they have and where they have been to. The next door neighbour loves to show off everytime he returns from a holiday abroad.

Ir’s not the Prada or Gucci that he shows off. Nor is it the pictures of the places he has visited you get to see. Instead, it’s what he got to eat though he was away from home that he always seems proud of. “The tour organiser is excellent,” he exclaims.
Given that he is a convert to vegetarianism, anybody would have thought it would have been difficult for him. He believes he will be able to gain more respect from others if “one is a vegetarian, and very religious”.
No matter where he goes, he loves to wear his spiritual beliefs on his sleeves. He took his family to Thailand last year. He brought back tales of how wonderful the temples there are. Also of how he didn’t have to interact with the less civilised who eat everything.
And people thought one becomes more broad-minded when he goes on foreign tours. This neighbour of mine has made a travesty of that belief.

This year, he decided to go beyond Asia. He decided to go West… to a European country.

When on his visit to Thailand, he was fascinated by the curd rice served by the tour operator. Wonder what it would be this time around, I wondered.

He had been to Switzerland. He didn’t have to violate any of his believes even this time around. He didn’t have to interact with the “beef eaters”. He remained true to his beliefs, and the tour operator ensured that. “The curd rice tastes a little different there. But, it was very tasty. Also, I got a nice idol of Ganesha.”

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Perilous Journey

August 21st, 2012

Most of us are very finicky about our food. It can be quite tricky when one is traveling. “Food on the train is not safe or healthy” is something I hear very often when I am having to travel.

The mother also has no trust in the water one gets to buy aboard a train, and the wife has no faith in the food sold on trains or on the railway platform either. It’s not hygienic, is the chief complaint.

It’s always a conflict between my resolve to not carry too much luggage, including food, and the wife’s resolve to carry food and water and other paraphernalia for a meal.
The wife’s resolve only got stronger after an acquaintance and the three companions, on an all-India tour, were sedated on a journey and robbed of all their belongings — not one piece of luggage or a single Rupee was spared. They were helped by policemen in Kerala.

Now I find that the wife is always fasting for a spiritual reason on a day-long train journey.
It’s OK to not buy anything from the train or the platform if you are making an overnight journey. But, what if you need to make a long journey. Or, if due to some reason you run out of food?
I am now planning a journey aboard the Vivek Express, the Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari train that travels 4278 km. For nothing, but just to test our resolves and the Railways.

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A colleague had a harrowing experience a while ago, or do I call it “a near death experience”?

He was poisoned at a major railway station. He was in the waiting lounge and had left his water bottle along with the luggage and had gone out for a while. On returning to quench his thirst he drank the water from his water bottle.

He felt the whole room spinning around him and when he woke up it was a Sunday on the platform. He had landed at the station on the previous Friday to catch a connecting train!

Perhaps the wife has a point.

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What’s The Number, Finally

July 23rd, 2012

The Global Investors’ Meet (GIM) 2012 that Karnataka held a while ago was trumpeted as a grand success by the government. While the jury is still out on how much of the promised investments of the Rs 9 trillion or so will actually flow in, the debate is not settled yet on how much of investments have come in from the amount promised during GIM 2010.

The number initially announced by the government in the case of the amount of investments proposed was Rs 3.92 lakh crores. What actually came in can vary depending on who the ministers speak to. If it’s a trade magazine, the ones that are never seen on the news stands but are seen prominently during trade shows and such other events, the amount of investments the government says has come in is 16 per cent which could go upto 32 per cent, ones its all realised!

But, in case they speak to a newspaper or news magazine, the number automatically gets watered down. It has fallen to just 6 per cent!

Hail the government policies, say a few businessmen who have been facing the brunt of the government paralysis. When people talk of policy paralysis at the Centre, and if you couple it with a policy paralysis at the state level one gets the picture.

Who’s responsible? Blame it on the cosmos … the sun and moon and stars… and all the celestial bodies. It’s the advise of the astrologers that often make the leaders in the state act as they do.

Wonder if the numbers being “revealed” to the journalists are actually the ones that the astrologers have advised the ministers to announce.

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Hey Ry

June 25th, 2012

Ry? Yes, that’s a name, that’s a truncated form of Roy. Ry was not Roy always. He was a plain genteel, normal person till he was in college with a much longer and a very Hindu Indian name. And then came the great revolution. Yep, the IT Revolution, rather the call centre (or is it center in this case?!) revolution.

The call centre was easiest means of getting a job if you could speak English. After some training and his eventual absorption into company, it opened up a whole new world for him.

Call centres went overboard to keep their clients in good humour, giving their executives accents and mannerisms, and even false names. That’s when the boy decided enough was enough, and indeed changed his name officially to ensure he had no double life.

Now cameĀ  another dilemma. He was mostly interacting with people who were mostly Christians. After having to go through a few calls of clients who even inquired about his religion, he just decided to convert.

And, lo and behold, he altogether gave up his birth name. And, Roy it was. But, he was not so satisfied. And, a numerologist suggested he give up the ‘o’ in his name to enhance his luck. There, he went from Roy to Ry.

During this process, Ry’s ‘brilliant’ parents gave him all the support. They have been going along with him. They speak English and have also converted. Now their mother tongue is looked down upon even as they go about denying their past.

What’s the future? Perhaps staying in India and pledging their allegiance to the Constitution penned by Thomas Jefferson! All the while not having stepped out of India.

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Books?!

May 21st, 2012

The grocery list for a certain month at my house about 5 years from now would probably read something like this: 10 kg rice, 10 kg atta, 5 kg tur dal, 1 kg sugar, 1 kg salt, 2 novels, 1 tin of baby food (branded), 1 pair of baby shoes, 1 pair of baby socks, 1 non-fiction (think of a title on the spot), 1 baby car seat, 2 milk chocolates of 100 g each, 1 t-shirt et al…

Going the new trend in book stores that are trying to survive, I should indeed be able to make my monthly grocery list that will include books, stuff for the two year old, and some clothes too for me. Perhaps it’s only a mater of time when we may be able to buy vegetables too in a book mall.

A new book mall, as they call it, that’s opened has a section dedicated to stuff that is in no way related to books, except for the fact that people use them.

Stationery, toys, gift items are now passe at book stalls. But, a baby store (a section within the book store with all that stuff a baby needs, except baby foods and medicines).

The next time you go to a book mall, don’t be surprised if there are babies wailing, kids running around screaming and screeching. That’s the new-age book store. That’s one way you can ensure that young mothers who are avid readers and who frequent the book stores continue to do so and don’t feel restrained by their babies.

Those who want to continue buying books in peace and quite, there’s flipkart.com or amazon.com. Shop for books from home with a laptop want online. It’s more convenient. At the click of a mouse you have thousands of titles to choose from. Those from earlier generations scoff at this way of buying books. But, it’s the in thing.
The oldies even pooh, pooh this way of buying books, saying how can you buy books without even getting to touch them? But, then that’s the way today people prefer to do it. The traditional brick and mortar book stores are set to change. Yes. into a noisier place that sells more diapers, prams, chocolates and perfumes than books.

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Now Logically Priced

March 29th, 2012

The Friendly man at Friendly ice cream is happier with his business today than he was about a month ago. The outlet better known for its softy ice creams, has seen the business from softy doubling since the last time he hiked the price of the ice cream!

A student of Economics would perhaps be left befuddled. But, the Friendly man, who’s run the business for over 25 years, has a clientele who more often are from the cream of the society. The cream, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of intellect, actually are not so price sensitive.

He counts a school in the neighbourhood being a captive source of clientele. But, the students do not favour the softy. It’s too cheap for the students who many a time come with a Rs 500 note.

But, the grown-ups who come to him for ice cream don’t seem price sensitive in any way. Perhaps it is now not necessary for the buyer to have the right change. Earlier it cost Rs 18 and now it costs Rs 20. Perhaps, there’s some economic formula to measure the elasticity of demand of the product.

So, now he’s been advised to keep the price of his ice creams as a rounded figure and not ones that would require one to fish out Rs 2 or Rs 3 coins.

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The Day

February 13th, 2012

The flower shop next door has been running a countdown to April 14, yes the St. Valentine’s Day. Today, February 13, was ‘Kiss Day’ (i am hearing it for the first time) and yesterday was the ‘Hug Day’!!!

With the interpretation of the heart’s shape of different sizes all over the entrance to the shop, the proprietor is attempting to make the best of the event.

But, here’s the rub. The price of rose is sky high here. After all it’s in the so-called CBD area and one of the costliest areas in the country. But, the landlord has a history of trying to make the best of the ’situations’. He had ensured that a restaurant shut down so that he could get another tenant ready to pay much more. This, when he realised that the restaurant ran well and his demands for much higher rents went unheeded.
If our flower shop man is seen to have done a good job, perhaps his time is also up. The landlord, as many landlords are, is not known to think logically. If the guy has a good business for that one day, he may be asked to share the spoils. Now he can be sure of being asked to pay more.

Perhaps in a few days, I may get to see the announcement of a “I am shutting shop” Day outside the flower shop. That’s the reality of the unorganised retail sector nowadays, mostly.

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At the Alma Mater

January 24th, 2012

It was a return to those good old days when I had had the umpteen conversations, some sensible and others not making much sense, with my professor who had been the most encouraging of all the profs in the university, at least as far as I was concerned.

“You write a good paper and I will get it published in a Economics journal,” he had promised me. It was not that I was the best or the brightest, but I was the most well-interested in the discipline in its widest of wide definitions. Being narrowly focussed was not my forte. That ended all prospects of being accepted by any of the professors as their research scholar.

But, the said professor had advised me: “Don’t waste your time here on higher studies. Do something more worthwhile.” I have no regrets as of now though for that sound advise.

The vast university campus, of 2,300 acres, was left unexplored by me. I got a chance to go to a couple of spots I had only heard of during the post-graduation days. Studying all the while? No. Reading books of interest… in the library!! Perhaps that’s what endeared me to professor, who, even after 17 years acknowledge my presence and took time off for me from his truly busy schedule.

What endeared him to me was that he papered over all my shortcomings, while focussing on my strengths. I now understand what I read in many a news report and know what’s happening and why it’s happening. Though it’s taken me a while to connect the theories to the real world happenings.

Better late than never though.

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Oh, For The Purr….

December 25th, 2011

It’s been a while since we have heard the purring of the powerful engines of the superbikes of a western bike-maker who is well-known on the racing circuit.

Some of the bike models that have made a name by burning the rubber on many a race-track were being sold like hot cakes when the showroom opened a few months ago though they were priced from Rs 8 lakh to about Rs 30 lakh. The showroom always had no less than half a dozen bike models on display and I would pay my respects to the bikes by giving salivating over them everyday before entering the gate of the building that houses my office.

Alas, perhaps some higher powers were jealous that I was was ogling at the superbikes (but not ride them though). Or, perhaps the higher powers thought I was ogling at the girls. In a couple of the months the number of bikes on display kept falling till there were none. And, one fine day, there came the padlock on the glass door.

Was it the poor sales, or was it something else? We admirers of the bikes spent quite a while trying to figure out the possible reasons for the place being shut down. But, the place not been vacated by them. On checking, I am always assured that it will come up. There’s no stock!
Looks like it has fallen victim to the global slowdown. The stocks will come, I am promised. Sundays were the days when I would come to office and see not than 3 or 4 of these superbikes being taken away by an afficionado.

Now, every Sunday when I come to office I longingly look at the glass facade of the showroom and hope that normal supplies will begin soon. But, given the sovereign debt crises in some parts of the world, I feel I may have to wait for a few more months before I will be able to hear that purring of the engines of the 1999 cc engine that gives me the same pleasure as the purring of that cat who once owned me.

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