Friday, December 24, 2010

From a year to another...


Come end of December and everybody is in a mood to celebrate. The end of a year and the beginning of a new year could mean different things to different people. For some, it is a reason to celebrate the events of the year that went by and hope for a better year ahead. Few others, would consider it as an opportunity to start afresh, learning from the mistakes of the past, or dealing with a tragedy and taking this as an opportunity to move ahead with life. Or you could be one who wants to have a good time as this is the season when the best parties ensue and of course, there has to be the set of people for whom it is, “just another day”.

The run up to the new year is inundated with stereotypical events which haven't changed much since 1956. Magazines run a recap of the year’s major events, TV channels line up specials, marathon super hit movies, Victoria secret’s fashion show and so much more. How much do you think one can take in at one time? I can’t even enjoy a single program without wondering if I’m missing out something better.

Resolutions are made (and broken within 48 hours), drinks are drunk, dances are danced and everybody is happy and gay. However, how often do we look back at the year and think, “Okay, these are the important things that happened to me this year and will leave a lasting impression in my life”? I don’t know about you but I haven’t so far, so I’m going to do it this year and I am going to share it with you. I invite you to do the same. Let’s all see, if we do have a life after all.

My year in 2010:

  • The year started off on quite an exciting note. I had my first job interview ever on 4th January.

  • Got my first job.

  • FINALLY, after numerous extensions, gave my GRE (graduate record examinations) and was all set to go to the United States for my masters.

  • Decided not to go for my masters and take up the job.

  • Changed the plan. Masters was on again.

  • Nope! Job it was.

  • Finally put my foot down. Planned to take up the job and apply for my masters for the Spring of 2011. Everybody is happy.

  • Had the longest break of my life since I was 4, for almost 3 and half months, during which I played so much of so many different sports and more than made up for the lack of it during college.

  • In this time, I also tried my hand at blogging. Mom was so surprised initially, she actually thought I had stolen somebody else’s article from the internet. Got a great initial response and here I am, still going strong, thanks to your support and encouragement.

  • Realized I enjoyed writing, something I had never imagined.

  • Took up the job and threw the masters plan out of the window for a while.

  • Got my first salary. Experienced the feeling of financial independence for the first time. Went to Mahabalipuram with friends to celebrate.

  • Took parents out to dinner and also got mom something. I assure you, my dad will get his due really soon.

  • Been at work ever since.

Ehh...the end! Holy shit! (Actually stuck here for 15 minutes)

That’s it? Well, my life isn’t as boring as the list makes it sound. I did have a crazy amount of fun in the meanwhile and did awful lot of other things too but nothing really important or new, which deserves a mention in this list.

A whole year of my life and to think that this is all I have done, doesn’t feel right. You know that feeling, when you stand in line for 20 minutes to buy a cup of coffee, finally get it, take a sip (feels like heaven), walk a couple steps away and drop it. That’s how I feel right now, except that it’s a million times more severe. At least, I can get back in the line for coffee but who is going to give me these days back. I’m never going to be 21 again.

No point crying over spilt milk, coffee in this case. So instead of being upset, I have made up my mind, that this new year, 2011, I am going to try lots of new things and make the most of my time to ensure that by December 2011, I have a list so long, that it gives anaconda a run for its money.

I wonder how many such years have I let go of. What started off as a casual blog post has got me into some serious thinking. I urge you to take up a sheet of paper, or open a word processor on your computer and make a similar list and see if you face a similar shock or have actually had a genuinely good year, one that you would be proud of. You could even share the list with me and the world to see and discuss the year gone by.

I don’t want this post to sound gloomy or play party pooper in this joyous season of celebration. I am happy to have at least realized what went wrong and realization is half the battle won. Now that half the battle is won, it calls for a celebration. Wooohooo party time!!!

This is Ashish Kalsi aka Gogo, wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a very happy and “eventful” new year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Before I start rambling, I have specific messages for my readers. Identify which category you come under and read the appropriate message. I know you are anyway going to peek into all of them so I’m not even going to try and ask you not to.

Regular Readers
The regular readers: Hopefully, a few of you have missed me and I apologize for the inactivity on my blog for almost a month. The corporate world is trying to screw me over but trust me, I’m fighting back.

The not so regular readers but who still like my blog: I’m sure you wouldn’t have even noticed the lack of activity on the blog but I’m back, alive and kicking.
Indifferent Readers

The indifferent lot:  You really think I have a message for you?

The ones who were glad I was gone: Too bad. Party is over fellas.

Now that we are done with the pleasantries, let’s get down to the real business.

The excitement of being in my first job disappeared faster than I change the channel playing ridiculous saas-bahu drama. The training period, as we discovered, was not very different from college, except for a few added advantages, which were neutralized by some new disadvantages. Here are a few of them:


1)    Paid to study. Really helps in motivation.
2)    Totally air-conditioned environment. Conducive to sleeping and passing time faster.
3)     Most time devoted to hands on experience; hence we didn’t have to endure too many boring lectures.


1)    CANNOT BUNK! This disadvantage can brush aside the entire advantages single handed.
2)     Need to dress up formally with a tie, 4 days a week. Might not sound like a big deal but it is pretty painful if you are not used to it.

The new boys at work
Since training was quite like college, with most of us actually from the same college, the atmosphere wasn't new or alien. We made the training centre our own. The administration ignored our boisterous and crass behaviour initially, attributing it to excitement of being in a new environment. They were under the impression that things would get back to normal in the course of time. They couldn't have been more wrong – we were just getting started.

The administrators were up for a shocker and I can’t blame them for it. The training centre is usually filled with nervous and scared looking grads, so much so, that trainers have to go out of their way to make these poor fellows feel comfortable.  However, our batch had a stark difference. We were a vociferous and riotous bunch, who were here to have fun while making that little money. A kind they weren’t used to.

The first month went like a breeze- we did our thing, the administrators and HRs did theirs, there was complete harmony in the disharmony. Life couldn't have been better. But what's life without a twist.

Things were beginning to change. There was an unusual silence that day in the office, the kind before a storm. For a second I thought I had come to work on a holiday. However, I soon realised that things were not all okay here. There was a shift in the mood. 

Those few nervous moments
I soon came to know that somebody had complained. It was college all over again – administration on our back, threats, rumours and total drama followed. The training had taken a whole new direction. People walking in groups were stopped and questioned, an idle terminal would require an explanation and that a high profile enquiry would be conducted to find the culprit who spat paan in the dustbin; events that were highly unexpected.

A couple of weeks to go, the exit tests would decide our fate, nobody wanted to mess around. There was an eerie silence in the air; supervisors would take rounds 7-8 times a day; juniors were asked to stay away from our batch or meet our fate.

We spent our last few days amidst threats and warnings, gave our tests and kept our fingers crossed. The “extension list” was quite an anticlimax. Most of the trainees had cleared the tests and would soon be mapped to various projects. Hurray! Not really. We were just waiting to be put on the bench and enjoy a few days of paid vacation.

Right through the training period, we were told, “The training is the honeymoon period, enjoy all you want, this would all change once you get into a project”.

Now that apparent "honeymoon period" is over, let’s see if this marriage is going to be a "lived happily ever after" or end in a divorce. Only time will tell.

Author's note: The other posts in the "My foray into the corporate world" series are

My foray into the corporate world – Prologue

My foray into the corporate world – post prologue

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The social network – gender paradox

Most people today, live dual lives.

The first one, their real lives, in which they have to deal with recession, pollution, rising onion prices, A. Raja, Bigggg Bosssss (or whatever it’s spelling is) and Rakhi Sawant.

Second, is the virtual life – emails, Google and most important of them all, social networking. With social networking I am talking predominantly about Facebook, which has over 500 million users and growing.

Facebook is no longer a medium where you just keep in touch with friends and have an active pseudo-social circle; you’re living a parallel life. This parallel life has a lot of factors similar to your actual life, like social standing, acceptance and popularity amongst peers. Don’t agree with me?

The notification window
Doesn’t your face light up when you see the red figure on the left top corner of your screen displaying notifications?   

Don’t you get disappointed when you put up a really cool status message, one that you were thinking about the whole day or a profile picture in which you think you’re looking a lot like Brad Pitt, and don’t even get a single “like” or comment?

Doesn’t that tinge of jealousy crop up when you see your friend’s ridiculous status message and pictures having tonnes of “likes” and comments?    

If yes, you would know what I’m talking about. If no, still read on, you’re not being charged for it.

I have no issues when a well deserving status, picture, video, link or any other virtual garbage is appreciated on the basis of content but there is nothing more irritating when people do it for every other reason other than content.

Women’s reservation is a concept I have been hearing about for as long as I remember. My personal opinion about the idea in the real world is immaterial and would undoubtedly create a controversy, so I will choose to abstain from talking about it here. However, in the virtual world, the scene is a lot different and it’s the male gender that’s most vulnerable.

There is a Brobdingnanian* of a difference in a woman’s and man’s virtual life. I’m not going to lecture you like I’m the president of some men’s welfare society fighting for their rights but will merely point out the glaring dissimilarities.

*before you open Google and try finding out what Brobdingnanian stands for, let me help you out. It means Gigantic or Colossal. I was looking for a word worthy of pointing out the discrepancy between the genders and accidently stumbled upon this one.

Still feeling lost? Let me elaborate and elucidate what I’m trying to say with an example.


Boy’s profile: Talented movie maker, extremely creative, smart, fun, 5 ft 6 inches tall, plump, average looking, blah, blah, blah. He has been working his ass off on a project for the last 6 months and has finally completed all the post production activities and finalizes his trailer.

Excited and filled with anticipation, he puts it up on his fb wall to get some reactions. This is what his wall reads

Iamamoviemakerbutnobodygivesashit: Guys I have finally finished making my movie and I am putting up the trailer. Let me know what you think of it J J

3 hours later, he logs on, curious to see the response the trailer has been garnering.

4 new notifications à Click

Honey Singh found out his year of death and thinks you should find out too.

Anand Sharma, Sneha U like your link.

Mohan has commented on your link.
“Dude! Are you coming for the movie tonight”?

Disappointed and dejected he switches off his laptop, kind of used to this by now.

Girl’s profile: Wearing a mini skirt in her profile picture. Period.

This is what her wall reads:

Iamsohotithinkiamgoingtoburn: Heyyyyyyy fnd this reeeeeeeeeaaaallllllyyyyy cute video of babiezzz making funny faces....awwwww shhhooooo cuuuuttteeeee....muah muah :* :* :* XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX 

13 nano seconds later...

78 new notifications à Click

Ram, Ram’s brother Raja, Ram’s cousin brother Ravi, Ravi’s younger brother’s friend Rahul, Ram’s father Rajeev and 33 others like your link.

(The comments is where it starts to REALLY get ridiculous)

Krish has commented on your link
“ROFLMYAONAHHEYRMJSLDHRNDKWD!!!! That’s how funny it was :D :D :D awesome stuff...what are you doing on Saturday night?”

Mohan has commented on your link. (Btw, this is the same Mohan from before)
“Awww that was sooooo cute...but I duno which is cuter, the babies or you ;) ;) :P :D (and 30 more smileys)

Aisha has commented on your link.
“Bitch that was shoooooooooo cutie you muah muah XOXOXOXOX”

Mohan has commented on your link.
“Hey Aisha. How are you long time no see J J

Michael has commented on your link.
“Awesome stuff sexy...hey display pic looks really are you?”

Ali has commented on your link.
“HA HA HAHA soooooo have you been?? “

Mohan has commented on your link.
“@Michael-- Stop trying to flirt around with her. ”

Michael has commented on your link.
"@Mohan--- what are you trying to do then?"

.......and it goes on. You see what I’m talking about. There a million other instances I can go on and on about.

I’ve heard guys making some ridiculous statements such as, “She is such a stuck up girl. I “like” everything she puts up but she still never responds to my chats”.

Dude! She also knows what she puts up is stupid. So whom are you kidding?

Technology might have made life easier but you are not going to impress a girl by hitting the “like” button like a maniac and commenting that you find her cuter than kittens, puppies and piglets. Unfortunately, to woo a girl, you still have to do that the old fashioned way.

Before the girls get too pleased, let me clear the air, I’m by no way saying that you are all descendents of Mother Teresa and are all noble. There are girls who do the same but the magnitude is negligible when compared to the weaker sex (in this case, male).

So how do we really overcome this paradox? I thought hard and long, 7 minutes to be precise and came up with the following results. To make this post irrelevant (read solution), I give you two options: 

A)    It’s necessary that we keep aside all temptations and appreciate content solely on the basis of merit OR

B)    The girls would really need to buck up, chat more, poke, flirt (or socialize as G likes to put it), send random friend requests and everything else a lot of guys today do ("the wanna be do franship types), to maintain the equilibrium on the social network (I’m doing these guys a favour here). Not desirable, but a solution nevertheless.

Now that I have given the world the solution to end the gender paradox on the social network, I’m feeling extremely proud and hungry. While I find something to eat, I’d wish you wouldn’t spend too much time thinking about this issue since the virtual world can and will never replace your real world.

I may not be very pretty and might not look hot in a mini skirt but if you like what have just read HIT THE BLOODY “LIKE” button. Let me see if I’ve made my point.


1) The views expressed in this post are wholly that of the author and you have all rights to disagree. However, all abuses on my comments page will be deleted and you  will face my cyber wrath.

2) All names used in this post are fictional and resemblance to anybody dead, alive, missing or forgotten is purely coincidental and I don't remember what else I am supposed to write here but I hope you get the point.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


....Continued from Endhiran (Robot)- The build up

Chennai wouldn’t sleep tonight.

But I did.

As I lay peacefully in my bed having some weird dreams, the true hard core Rajni fans were up and getting ready to go for a movie. The fanatics were up all night bursting crackers, singing, dancing and raising a toast to their God in their usual style, in a plastic tumbler with cheap rum and a banana to go with it. The wait for the movie and the alacrity that comes with it is more fun than the movie itself.

The celebration went on till 4 am - the time for the first show.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to such a theatre to witness these scenes but from what I hear, the atmosphere inside is like that of a cricket stadium rather than a movie hall. You wouldn’t get to hear a thing but the entertainment provided otherwise is totally worth it.

The Rajni craze- A garland of sweet lime
I reach office at 2 PM and meet guys who have already seen the movie twice. Half of Chennai had apparently not come to work today. I just couldn’t contain my excitement. It was Friday and I still had 2 days to go for my movie. I decided not to work and celebrate Rajnikanth.

I had the audacity to tell my HR head that I wasn’t going to work that day because I was excited about Endhiran. Instead of being reproached, he asked me, “You got tickets?” Proudly, I respond, “Yeah, Sunday” to which my HR head says, “That’s so sad! I got tickets for tonight”. The conversation went on for 10 more minutes, much to the shock of my colleagues and trainer.

You see the magic? Thinking about it now, I don’t even know where I got that kind of courage from.

Through the day, I kept hearing stories of hardcore fans and their antics, each more crazy than the previous.

I was getting restless and I am getting restless now so I’m skipping my painful wait and coming straight to THE SUNDAY, my turn to watch Endhiran.

Sunday morning...

The Chennai shared auto
FINALLY the day was here! Excitement was at its prime. M and I got ready and left well before time. Or so we thought. Just as we started, we encountered our first speed breaker - Chennai traffic decided to play party pooper. To make matters worse, we were aboard a shared taxi (the first mode of public transport that came our way), those weird looking vehicles that gives every indication of being a cross between an auto and a mini bus but moves at the speed of a bullock cart. We wouldn’t make it on time. Nothing was going right and it wasn’t a good feeling. All the anticipation, excitement, hype, extra money spent and finally ending up late for the movie seemed just wrong.  

The most exciting part of a Rajni movie is the start, right from the censor board certificate followed by the animated entry of the letters to form the word S-U-P-E-R-S-T-A-R and finally the super dramatic entry of Rajnikanth himself amidst cheers, screams and flying lungis. I really wanted to witness this.

If we continued by the shared auto, reaching the theatre on time was next to impossible, so we got off half way through and decided to hire our very own, personal auto (which is quite a luxury in Chennai).

I ask him, “Anna. Satyam?” (That’s all that is needed to get the message across). The driver gives a nod. “Evalo?” (How much?). He starts with Rs 220 and finally agrees for Rs 40 and we are off (those of you who find this weird, this is how autos in Chennai function. Meters are for aesthetics).

We were still well behind schedule, hope was fast running out and right then M uttered the magic words, “Anna. Sheegram go (Fast go). Movie. Endhiran. Rajnikanth”. I swear to God, everything went into slow motion for the next 20 seconds. Slowly, frame by frame, the auto driver turned to look at us, didn’t say a word and smiled. The smile said it all. In slow motion he turned back to drive, locked the fingers of his hand and made that crackling sound (even that in slow motion), kut kut kut one by one, and that’s when we snap out of the slow motion and also, everything else changed.

Like a man possessed, he revved his engine and drove at a speed that would qualify the auto to race at a formula 3 event. Probably the auto was a Rajni fan too. No obstacle was too big and no turn was too sharp for the driver since he was in charge of the holy duty of making sure we made it in time for the movie of his God. However, we still needed a miracle if we had to reach on time. I did something really strange (I shit you not and I swear this is not made up). I held my hands together (in the Namaste position) and prayed out loud to Rajni (half as a joke and half out of pure desperation). Taking cue, M did the same.

Three minutes left for the movie to start and we were almost there. My other friends were already in the theatre waiting for us. We could actually make it on time. Was this going to be a miracle? One minute to go and I was actually wondering if the driver in his excitement wouldn’t take the money and say that it was just a part of his duty. We reached with 30 seconds to go and driver seemed to lose all the brotherhood and asked for his money. What was I thinking? Anyway, we paid up and rushed towards the theatre hoping that we don’t miss much.

Inside, I see my other friends walking casually towards me. Have they gone crazy? Don’t they want to witness the spectacle at the start? Exasperated, I ask D, “Dude! Why the hell are you out? Hasn’t the movie started already? D starts smiling and realization dawns as I ask, “What time does the movie really start?” and a smiling D responds, “10 more minutes’ macha. I knew you would be late”.

I was annoyed and relieved; and at the same time I couldn’t help but wonder about the prayers we offered in the auto. I didn’t have much time to think about that as we walked towards the screen. We had made it. In a few minutes I was going to experience a movie experience like no other.

No, I wouldn’t describe what went on inside since a Rajnikanth movie on the weekend of its release should definitely be on your “things I need to do before I die” list. It's like a holy pilgrimage that each of you must be a part of at least once in your life time. And for your sake, I hope Rajnikanth makes another movie. If not, my condolences.

If Christopher Nolan could do it in Inception, so can I. So swear all you want, I know the feeling. I did the same after inception. 


Saturday, October 30, 2010

ENDHIRAN (ROBOT) - The build up

Rajnikanth's giant cut out at Sky Walk Mall, Chennai

It is impossible for one to reside in Chennai and not get carried away with the Rajnikanth mania. People, in Tamil Nadu and around, wait with alacrity for a Rajni movie to arrive because each movie brings with it a carnival-like atmosphere and electrifies a rather dull city (I’m sorry, but it’s true).

A Rajni movie is not like any regular movie. It’s an event, like the Olympics, and the entire state of Tamil Nadu starts preparing for it months before its release. That’s why I compared it to the Olympics and not the Commonwealth Games. The momentum builds with every passing day and is soon reflected in local newspapers, radio channels and conversation. However, it’s the numerous banners by fan clubs on every street that tell you something big is on its way. Most of these banners are freakishly similar and have a large picture of Rajni in the centre, accompanied by the president and vice-president of the fan club on either side, looking petrified just to be on the same banner as the great man.

The excitement in the air was palpable. It wasn’t long before I got caught up in the hype.  I wanted to be a part of the festivities. I was suddenly a fan of Rajnikanth. I had seen just one movie of his before – Shivaji, and I thought it was one of the most ridiculous movies ever. Then what was happening to me? I had no control of my mind and body. I was suddenly supporting the man in all discussions. I took offence to Rajni jokes. I started hanging out with my Tamil brothers and discussing about the thailavar and his greatness. This was Rajni mania taking over.

Two weeks to go, articles and news snippets on Enthiran (Robot) and Rajnikanth were a part of every national news network. Local TV channels went berserk. Air time was dominated by Rajnikanth. Other producers refused to release their movies. The big day was fast approaching and I wanted to be a part of it.

Like all movies, there was a trailer release around the corner but that shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Wrong. Lesson number one; nothing is normal or “small” when it comes to Rajnikanth. People, in thousands, flocked the theatres to watch the trailer and the theatre owners, definitely smarter and more experienced than me, expecting this had tickets made just for the trailer at insanely high rates for the lunatics to catch a 5 minute glimpse of their hero. Buying a ticket to watch a trailer! Which other actor can demand that? The moolah was already flowing but this was a pocket change compared to the events expected to follow.

My friend D, a man of many contacts, managed to get us tickets, for three times the price of a normal movie ticket, scheduled for the weekend of the movie’s release. A pretty good deal compared to ones shelling out 20-30 times of what they usually would. The ticket became my prized possession. I went about parading my ticket, much to the exasperation of the local boys, who couldn’t get them for the weekend of the movie’s release and would have to watch it on a weekday, which according to local tradition, is a sin. Plus me being a Non-Tamil added fuel to the raging fire.

One day to go. The rich and poor, conservative and liberal, drunk and sober, sane and insane, all join hands, forget their differences and celebrate life and celebrate Rajni, their God. Only one man can create such magic. I won’t digress into Rajnikanth the individual, since that deserves nothing short of a book, or books perhaps. Firecrackers and poojas are on at full swing and people can’t wait for THE DAY to arrive. Theatres have shows scheduled from 4am onwards and that each of these shows was sold out came as no surprise. Everybody wanted to be the first to see the man in action.

People were willing to spend any kind of money to go that extra mile to prove their loyalty. Tickets were being bought at exorbitant rates, some even willing to spend 50-60 times the price of an original ticket. The money caught my attention. All the, “I love Rajnikanth” suddenly disappeared and the opportunist in me woke up. A 1000% return on investment was guaranteed and was tempting as hell.

But I didn’t do it because D had to go through a lot to get the tickets and I didn’t want the effort to go down the drain. Plus he threatened to break my head if I did, so that was another factor.  In addition to the tickets, even the milk used in the pooja was being sold at Rs 500/- per glass and people were lined up buy that. INSANE! This was the sign; Rajni mania had hit the city, and boy did it hit hard. People lost all sense of rationality and pure emotions took over. Just a few hours to go.

Chennai wouldn’t sleep tonight.

Author’s note:
To do justice to this post and to the aura of Rajnikanth, I am splitting this post into 2 parts. The release and my movie experience are worthy of a separate post.

Click here to read the next part...

Saturday, October 16, 2010


This article was written well before the commonwealth games commenced and during the time when everybody “believed” that the commonwealth games were going to flop and were going to be a major embarrassment for India. These very hypocrites were later heard telling, “Oh! I always knew India is going to do it. India is the best.” I actually considered discarding this post of mine considering this drastic change in general opinion but then, I would be a hypocrite myself.

The build up to the Commonwealth Games wasn’t a very smooth one, which is an obvious fact. Credit goes to the media for bringing the various shortcomings to the notice of the common man and the concerned authority (though they were overdoing it by magnifying every scratch and leak in the stadia) which expedited the process in the right direction. News about incomplete stadiums, bad infrastructure and missed deadlines had become a part of our quotidian existence.

However, what caught my attention was something different. When I see figures like 28,000 crores* (maybe a lot more now) being spent on the games and in giving Delhi a facelift, it forces me to ponder, is it really worth it for a country like India?

Sports and entertainment, without a doubt, are a very important part of our existence today, probably the most exciting too. Representing your country in a sporting event like this is every sportsperson’s dream. But what if it’s happening at the cost of somebody’s basic subsistence?

Don’t even think for a moment that I’m accusing these deserving sportspeople of snatching a family’s food or shelter. However, in a country where millions are starving and struggling to survive, this exuberant squandering of the taxpayer’s money is immoral, criminal and pathetic.

One amongst my countless idiosyncrasies is, when I hear of a large amount of money being spent, I think of the countless other ways it could be disbursed. What you could possibly do with a figure like 28, 000 crores is crazy. If you were to give Rs 1 lakh of that amount per poor family, 28 lakh families would have benefitted and assuming that each family has an average of 4 members, then about 1.12 crore Indian people would have benefitted. Farmers could pay off their debts, education could become affordable or a family could simply just “live” for a year without the fear of starvation. Of course, I don’t expect this to happen. But then, is this spending justified?

Do these sporting events have absolutely any benefits?

“Economically it has been viewed as an industry around which cities can devise urban regeneration strategies. Socially it has been viewed as a tool for the development of urban communities and the reduction of social exclusion and crime.

 Most of these studies, however, have been conducted in advance of the events on behalf of interested parties without adequate measurement of final and intermediate outputs as well as inputs. Critical post-event studies point to their uneven impacts. Research shows that costs have usually been underestimated while beneficial impacts have been overestimated.

Gerd Ahlert (Institute of Economic Structures Research, Osnabruück) outlined a robust econometric forecasting model that has been applied to the Football World Cup 2006 in Germany. The calculation predicts huge pre-event investments and low direct economic impacts. But economic gains can be made indirectly through marketing and nation branding.

For modernizing nations, hosting a mega-event is a clear marker of international esteem for developmental achievements; in postmodern societies, events large and small fulfil the role of image generator.

Economic gains are less likely than social benefits, though this kind of legacy is difficult to plan and control.

From these studies, we can understand that these events could be passed off as a marketing scheme to show your country in a good light and raise its social standing. This could also bring in some investment but marginal compared to the money invested into the event. Sounds like a bad deal especially for a country like India. In spite of being the 2nd fastest growing economy and having the might of numbers behind us, India is still considered a poor country. Why? Because these numbers are attributed to the fact that the rich are getting richer and the poor don’t seem to be getting any better.

A study has shown that there are more poor people in 8 Indian states than in 26 African countries, a fact that was raised by Mr. Azim Premji in the 26th August, 2010 issue of the Times of India. Can we afford the luxury of spending so much money so injudiciously? Then why are we constantly trying to prove our “might”?

India is a proud country and its people think very highly of it, which is a great thing. So much so, that they are willing to deceive themselves by turning a blind eye to reality. The infrastructure and the standard of living have improved manifold times, especially in the urban centres but there is still a long journey ahead before India can begin comparing itself to the developed countries. However, that requires time and patience, which is not one of our best virtues.

China, which was our poor neighbour a couple of decades back is on its way to becoming a superpower and the knowledge that it has left us behind is troubling us. How often do politicians play with patriotic sentiments by calling India the next super power? Feels good, doesn’t it? I am a proud Indian but a rational Indian. I wish, like millions of you, that India becomes the greatest nation in the world but the way to do it is not by just hosting major sporting events. India can never be a super power if it keeps ignoring its poor, who are suffering because this great nation is trying to portray something that it is not.

Only when you recognize and acknowledge your flaws, will you correct them. The Indian government would go to any extent and spend any amount for the West to think highly of us. When Bill Clinton visited Hyderabad, the entire stretch he had to travel, was lined with flowerpots and there were huge billboards on the roads to hide “objectionable” sights.

Why, take the case of the Hollywood blockbuster slumdog millionaire. The kind of furore over the movie in Indian political and social circles was pretty amusing. “How can you show India like this? India is not only about the slums”, they say. Who says it is? But the slums are there and it is true and it is embarrassing. Not showing it in the movies or not talking about it is not going to change anything. Everybody knows it’s there. Aren’t we pushing it too far?

Take the case of the commonwealth games itself, how often did we hear the media and the various boards saying things like, “Oh the price money for the winners is still the same as the Sydney commonwealth games. Why is the infrastructure not as good as the Beijing Olympics? UK has already handed over a few stadiums to the International Olympic Committee for the 2012 Olympics. If you have already spent thousands of crores on this why can’t you spend a few more crores on that and make it as well as them”.

Sounds like a childish competition, doesn’t it? Not when it’s made possible out of honest, hardworking taxpayer’s money. Let me not even get into the corruption charges and misappropriation of crores of rupees that happens every time such an event takes place. I can’t help but wonder if these few are the ones responsible for bringing such events to India for their ulterior benefits. Is the government hand in glove with them? These are only speculations and nothing can or will be proved. This is quite evident and these men know it and move around with impunity.

So when is the right time for India to host such an event?

“We are ready to host the Olympics”, say some officials. It’s not only about having the money to host such events. When you have a country whose people are happy and have a stomach full, when they are satisfied and even then you have the additional funds, then you are ready.

The Commonwealth Games have gone on well and India has managed to save its face. The minimum return that we should have expected to get is some “social-standing”, according to research. The negative publicity, controversies and bad infrastructure has caused enough embarrassment that even a thousand slumdog billionaires wouldn’t be able to match up to. It is like putting the limelight on a ballet dancer with hands and legs fractured. Let’s just hope, for India’s sake, the successful hosting of the games has been able to overshadow the thousands of problems that had plagued it.

The disastrous start to this commonwealth games could have some positive implications too. The next time India thinks about hosting such an event, it would think a thousand times and right on top on its list of questions should be, “Do you want it, oh common man”?    

*Source: Times of India, 21st August, 2010-08-28

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My friends. My life. My phone. My universe

Universe, the smart and some of the dreamy ones say, is the ultimate superset. Everything else is within it. What a ludicrous idea. I don’t care what’s beyond the clear blue skies, how many more planets or stars are out there, if there is somebody else like me in one of those planets, sitting there, sipping something similar to a coffee and writing a blog. Well thinking about it, I would be concerned if the blog is for the TATA DOCOMO One Touch Net Phone’s “Share Life” contest on Indiblogger, because that would mean me having more competition and lesser chances to grab that tempting prize money.

Sorry for the digression. The reason why I called it a “ludicrous” idea is because my universe is my life, with me being the core and my friends, family and the others being an intrinsic part of it. I believe (I’m not making this up for the contest), that a life not shared is a life not lived. You could be the most reticent of people but you would still want to share the happenings in your life, good or bad, with somebody, could be an imaginary friend, some stranger across the globe or even a diary. The point I’m trying to make is that, it’s a natural tendency for all and not a random idiosyncrasy.

The concept of “sharing life” wasn’t born with the advent of technology either. It’s been around forever. Some of the oldest sites of archaeological importance have painting or carvings that depict stories of day to day life. Why else would we make the lives of pigeons and eagles a living hell for so long by pestering them to deliver messages.

Luckily for us (and for the birds) things have changed and are consistently changing for the better. Family and friends to me, like for many others, is the most important asset in my life. Unfortunately, as time progresses, we move in different directions, distance increases and it’s so much more difficult to laugh, cry, fight and share so many other emotions. Step by step, man tried to bridge this distance (women, it’s figuratively speaking, so no offence). Telegraph, telephone, snail mail, cell phones, internet, email, social networking, etc are all attempts at this very cause.

Now we had the modes but too many of them and each of them required a separate medium and equipment. To overcome this paradox, a saviour was born - The Smart Phone. Life hasn’t been the same ever since.
Inflation and recession at the same time was God’s idea of a practical joke (it didn’t go down too well though). However, in the clouds of darkness there was a ray of hope. “Sharing life” was getting cheaper. Call and messaging rates were at an all time low, new services were being added and distance wasn’t a factor anymore.

The void in my life was being filled, my friends and family were a few button clicks away, the world wasn’t that big anymore and a sense of completeness, which I was craving for so long, encompassed me. However, it doesn’t just end there. The features and services are getting better by the day. With messengers like Yahoo available on your phone along with an array of other cool features, life can only get better.

With messaging costing peanuts and call rates lower than ever, I am constantly in touch with my loved ones and am in the know of what is happening in their lives. I visit a really cool place and I want my friends to know about it, all I have to do is take a picture on my phone and send it as an email. Or I could just put it on a social networking site and everybody could know about. I could be out all by myself but I know that I’m carrying my universe with me at all times.

I no longer miss my friends and family in spite of being away from them. It’s not that I love them any lesser but I have the means to make their presence felt at all times. Today, my smart phone is not just another member in my universe, it is the glue which holds my universe together. 

This post is written as a part of the TATA DOCOMO One Touch Net Phone’s “Share Life” contest on Indiblogger. If you liked the article, I’d appreciate it if you vote for me by clicking the “promote this post” button on Indiblogger and it might take me one step closer to the booty. I might just share it with you ;)


Thursday, October 7, 2010


My knowledge, limited as it is, is aware of two widely spoken forms of English, the American version and the British version. Any reference to the Indian English till date, has been to ridicule the way Indians speak. This is my attempt at changing it.

English is a language I have always been comfortable with and the credit for this goes to my parents, who tried hard to make me at least half as proficient as them. A lot of my childhood friends are from different parts of the country, so we mainly conversed in English and that was another reason for me to presuppose my expertise in the language.

Oral communication (OC) is a vital part of training for any organization which deals with clients from all over the world. You can understand its importance in the Indian IT industry, which has a 99% client base abroad.

Confident strides, filled with conceit, take me to the room where my OC sessions take place, with a belief that these sessions are for the “lesser mortals”.

The first few classes went like a breeze and then along came phonetics. This is when my pride was murdered. My heavily accented trainer asked us to pronounce the first, relatively easy word, “hello”. The responses poured in, “Hell-o”, “Hellooo”, “Heyy loo”, “hi”, “what’s up”, “Namaste”.

My bewildered trainer goes, “Neo neo neo”! Neo? Under the heavy accent the NO turned into a NEO. In that American accent she further adds, “We follow the British English. It’s ‘hu-llo’. Say it with me“. British English in an American accent? Anyway, I got the first one right but I knew that this wasn’t going to be our regular OC class.

Word after word the situation kept changing. Initially, I just stuck to what I knew. After a point I was made to realize, that all of what I knew was wrong. Since tactic 1 wasn’t working out too well, I decided to twist and turn every word asked and add a bit of an accent of my own to please the trainer. Now, not only was I saying the words wrong, I was also making a fool of myself.

Russel Peters, the comedian of Indian origin from Canada, was sceptical before his visit to India as a lot of his jokes were on the Indian accent and he wasn’t quite sure how the Indian audience would react to them. But to his surprise, the Indians laughed harder than anybody else to these very jokes. He said, “It’s not because Indians have a great sense of humour but because they believe that they don’t have an accent”. Eventually, I realized how true this was.

Coming back to our session, after the torrid start, things started getting a lot comfortable here. After the entire ego bashing session, there weren’t any “lesser mortals”, we were all equal. Come on, we couldn’t all be wrong. The only person, who wasn’t in the same boat as us, was the trainer. As expected, our trainer was soon the target of the jokes. “She talks funny man. I doubt if it’s even right”. Every time she would pick a new word, we would laugh and turn to a friend and say, “Did you just hear that? Imagine us talking like that. People would think we are crazy”. So the session ended with us ridiculing all that we were taught and laughing at the “strange” pronunciations of the otherwise common words.

Studies point out that India is going to be the largest English speaking nation by 2025, so I feel we must be given some credit. Instead of trying to change the way a billion plus people speak, welcome a new standard of English, The Indian English. It could just be the the standard for the future. I can visualize the future president of America in a pensive mood, about to address the nation. He says, "The problem is coming fastly. We musht do something something to make it okay soonly. Okay? Ta ta bye bye". Don't give me that look. It might just happen.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My foray into the corporate world – THE FIRST DAY

After documentation and accommodation, it finally comes down to the day we were all waiting for – The First Day at Work. The beauty of starting off in a new organization is that you are like a blank sheet of paper. You can get rid of the tags and stereotypes associated with you in the past. In order to exploit this, we decided that we should reach our centre well within the stipulated time. To make this possible, we decided to sleep early. The plan sounded foolproof except that it was 1:45 am already. To ensure that we woke up on time, all electronic items with an alarm function, big and small, were collected, set and put into action. As I lay down, I had a smile on my face. In a few hours, a new life would begin and with that thought I drifted away.

I woke up with a start. The lights were on and I could sense activity. Was I late? Didn’t the alarms go off or did I just not hear it? But there were about a hundred alarms set. I panicked and scrambled around to find my phone. It read 4:45 am. I was up before time. Phew! But what were the guys doing up so early? Realization dawned upon me.

We are 5 guys and 1 bathroom (we are at a friend’s place temporarily). The first person gets the bathroom fresh, dry and most importantly, smelling good. So a lot depends on your position in the queue and what the previous occupants had for dinner. This being an “auspicious” occasion, it was important that you be in the top half of the list. I was surprised I hadn’t considered this while setting my alarm. However, as luck would have it, the water supply went off right when occupant number 1 was in a rather “strategic” position and he was stuck inside for an hour. Looks like I had the last laugh. The poor guy was the butt of all jokes (quite literally) that morning.Anyway, in spite of the initial hiccup, we managed to get ready before time.

With ties around our neck and pride in our heart, we set off for our induction (or inception as MS kept calling it) and reached half an hour before time. A good start.

All set to leave for work. From L - R: K, MS, me, M

During any transition phase, be it from school to college, college to work or from one company to another, one of the things we look forward to (or dread, depends on what kind of a person you are) is meeting new people and experiencing a new atmosphere. That probably adds to the excitement. I reach the place to find the exact opposite. All familiar faces, the usual banter and it felt like being back in college. With a majority of the trainees in my batch from my college, I felt at home.

After a rather arduous task of getting our offer and joining letters checked, a temporary ID was issued and we finally entered the building. At the security check we were informed that we weren’t allowed to take any electronic gadget inside except our cell phones. I realized that I was carrying my ipod along so I went to deposit it. After that, I put my bag through the scanner and as luck would have it, I was stopped. I was told that I was carrying a hard disk and a pen drive. Finding the hard disk wasn’t a problem but I thought I had left my pen drive at home. What was it doing in my bag? To make it more interesting, my bag had a hundred different sections. Do you realize how much more difficult it gets to find something when you have 5-6 angry, irritated pairs of eyes looking at you?  “Are you carrying an entire computer store with you?” my friends ask sarcastically. After a rather frantic search I find the drive and we rush to our room.

I have missed out one tiny detail. I actually came over to my friend’s place so we could go to work together for the first few days. I came carrying just one bag with all the stuff I needed for a couple of days and this is the same bag I was carrying today. I had emptied it and just took the files I needed. Or so I thought.

We sat through the first talk with rapt attention. By the time the second started, we were back to college mode.

After a while, we were free as we had to submit our documents. In the meanwhile, I opened my bag to put my pen in it and something caught my attention. I removed it and it turned out to be a tube of toothpaste. My friend next to me burst out laughing and soon everybody joined in. Next came out a tongue cleaner. Following that was a bottle of deodorant, my Burberry perfume, a cell phone charger, a rechargeable battery charger, rechargeable batteries, a 1 foot long comb, a trimmer and the list went on. Every time a new article came out, the laughter got louder and after a point we were all wiping the tears off our face.

I must admit that throughout the process of extracting objects from my “magic” bag, I was worried about something. A certain object. I kept praying that “it” wasn’t in my bag. But my friends were having a gala time and they wouldn’t let me stop. After a while, It seemed like I had extracted all the items and I was safe. That is when I felt it. My worst fear had come true.

I reluctantly took it out. In my hand was my underwear. Next second, all I could see around me, were people guffawing and we laughed till our stomach hurt. What a first day we were having.

Soon after, we got busy with the various formalities which seemed to go on forever. The cold I had wasn’t helping either and patience was beginning to take its toll. The day ended by 7:30 pm and we walked out satisfied and tired. We went out for dinner together and there was something unusual in our behaviour that caught my eye. In college, the minute we were out, we would remove our ID cards and shove them into our bags or pockets. But here we were, with loosened ties and ID cards around our necks, enjoying the occasional glance of the onlookers. It didn’t matter that the ID card was temporary and it was only our first day.

We just had a day that we would talk about for years to come.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My foray into the corporate world – post prologue

I promised I would be back after the search for accommodation and I have kept my promise. If you don’t know what I am talking about, click here : My foray into the corporate world - Prologue.

As expected, it wasn't easy. Nevertheless, it wasn’t the worst either. Thanks to my friend’s friend and another friend’s dad’s friend’s friend, life became a lot simpler (however complicated it might sound).

On day one, we had a car at our disposal and a “localite” friend to help us out with the language and location. 

I discovered two really interesting things

1)      The prices of real estate in the areas around the training centre, varies with the training period at TCS, Chennai.

2)      There is no such word as “localite” in the English language. I can see a lot of Indian eyebrows going up and saying “NO! That is not true. What is this useless fellow telling?” But it’s true. I didn’t know it either till I saw this little red line appear below my text. I checked up Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries to confirm*. How often do we use this word? Wow! And they say Indians cannot innovate. YES WE CAN (Obama style).

I apologize for the digression. We repeatedly hear that we are in the Information Age today and I got a taste of how true it is. I met a broker whose first question to me was, “TCS aah”. Oh by the way, “Aah” is the Indian phonetic version for the symbol “?”. So I said, “Yeah. How do you know?” To which he responds, “Full area only TCS. SRM aah” Well, I am from SRM University and I was getting a bit suspicious, so I slowly respond, giving him my special suspicious expression(see picture) and saying, “Yeah!?” He smiles knowledgeably and answers, “500 students SRM coming. After 2 weeks, new batch coming. TCS calling training prices going full high”. I was surprised at how well informed he was (though the figures weren't right) and looking at the Pulsar he was riding, I knew he was doing well.

Apparently, the prices shoot up to almost double when a new batch comes in for training. Initially, I was pretty happy that we were being given an HRA (house rent allowance) during the training period and optimistically thought that I could probably save a little from that for my pocket. How naive of me. Let me just put it this way: if my HRA and basic pay columns were to switch; only then could I afford a decent place to stay.

Luckily for me, I had a place booked through a friend, who was called for training a little earlier. It sounded like a fancy place. Television, AC (that too split, which is a pretty big thing here), lockers and attached bath for a price which would tempt anybody. I went to check out the place. It looked like any other PG/hostel to me, which I am okay with because it’s only for a period of 3 months. Anyway, my friend opens the door and I take a step in. That is where the room ended (and the place is called a “Mansion”). In the most brilliant and ingenious display of area management, they could fit in all that was promised and in a way that, you could reach any corner of the room by just taking a step in that particular direction. To its credit, it was a pretty clean and well maintained place and with its price tag looming over our head, it was too tempting to let go. So we decided to pay the meagre advance and book the place.

However, we decided to call this place “Plan B” and look on further with the hope of finding something better. Not today though. It was time for a nice dinner and end with that.

Day 2 started with the same enthusiasm but with a new entourage. To give us company we had a chauffeur driven car and another “localite” to help us out, thanks to my friend’s father’s friend’s friend. This time, we decided to make use of the ads on the local paper instead of a broker. We saw some really beautiful and some uninhabitable places but nothing seemed to work out. After an onerous task of house hunting (we saw 2 houses, 1 good and 1 bad), we decided to end the day at that. So we went for lunch, saw a movie, dinner and wrapped it up with another movie.

Day 3 began for M at 6:30 am and for me at 10 am. M had some other things to attend to and wanted to check out a few houses after that. I reluctantly offered to help him, which he refused since he had other company. Disappointed as I was, I lay in bed in an air conditioned room watching a movie on the LCD screen all day, while the others were busy house hunting. I get a call from these poor friends of mine in the evening to let me know that nothing has worked out. With that ends operation accommodation.

So looks like I will be moving into plan B for the next three months. That is not something I am looking forward to but I am pretty excited about something else, My First Day at Work and as you have guessed it already, there will be a blog post on how that went for sure.


* There are a few online dictionaries which say it is a legal word. But since the reputed dictionaries and Ms Word doesn't list it as a legal word, I am going with them. 

Disclaimer: This is strictly based on my experience and I am in no way complaining about the facilities or remuneration being provided to me by my employer. As I said before, I still LOVE you. Muah!