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! 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My foray into the corporate world – Prologue

As we grow older, the frequency of “firsts” comes down drastically. This causes us to really look forward to newer things and experiences. I am on the verge of yet another crucial juncture in my life – My First Job. With THE day coming closer, I’m finding it difficult to contain my nervous excitement. How often have you heard people around you telling, “The experience you get at work is invaluable”? I think I am feeling it already.

For starters, I have come to realize that getting a job isn’t the tough part. It’s actually a piece of cake compared to the formalities you have to go through before joining the job. This in turn made me realize that I shouldn't trust the movies. In a movie, what we get to see in an interview scene is that, indubitably the protagonist gets the job and the interviewer adds, “Congratulations! You got the job. Join us from tomorrow”. Wait! Doesn't he have to go through all the formalities which would take him a thousand days? This simplistic approach of such filmmakers didn’t help my cause. You bloody incompetent movie men!

See, I am getting wiser already.

In the last one month, I have been preparing my set of documents as listed in the 6 ft long check list.
My document set includes:

a)      “Did you pass your grade 10th and 12th exam?” certificates. Dude! How would I go to college otherwise?
b)      “So you went to college, eh?” certificate.
c)       “I don’t believe you got through all your semester exams. Give proof” certificates.
d)      “Can you read a foreign language and still find the place you need to sign” document. This is the service agreement which went on for 5-6 pages, in the legalese created by lawyers to impose upon the world their importance.
e)      “You got to pay up if your son messes with us” document. Yeah, this was for my dad. What follows this is a series of documents that proves that my dad is “really” my dad. Oh and also if he has the money to pay up.
f)        “I think you’re a crook, scoundrel and a thief if you won’t sign this” document to prove that I have no criminal cases pending against me.
g)      “Swear that you didn’t cheat on me” document to let em know that I didn't take up a job in the months of uncertainty they left me post graduation. How insecure are you?
h)      “We have our eyes on you” document. The background check which states that they would stalk the hell out of me and dig out my past if need be and a countless more documents, that I just can’t remember at this point. 

In addition to this, I gave the biometric impression of my fingers at a security agency, needed  photocopies of all these documents attested by a gazetted officer, a few notarized and finally, signatures of a couple of witnesses, a doctor, few by dad and a thousand million by me. Phew!

However, for my support, I always had something which got me working on these documents with a smile. Every time I found I had something else work related to do, I would coax myself by saying, “Dude, you are going to be paid for this shit eventually”, and suddenly the work would seem a lot simpler. If there are any parents reading this, remuneration can be a great motivator. 

After all this, I am ready and in the city where I have my first REAL job. The next challenge in line is finding a place to stay. I’ll keep you updated on how that went.

Disclaimer: Especially if you are my boss at TCS. I love you and TCS and I am just about willing to do anything to satisfy you guys. I think you are just AWESOME and I am ready to go through a million more documents if it makes you happy.

Click here to go the next part: My foray into the corporate world - Post Prologue

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Decliché–ing the cliché

Wiki definition of a cliché: A cliché or cliche (pronounced klee-shay) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect.

Which quotes or proverbs are the most used? The good ones, right. So in that regard, almost every good quote comes with a shelf life and is eventually frowned upon when it reaches its expiry date. Now, that doesn’t sound one bit fair to me. Why plays by Shakespeare, which have been adapted by theatre and films over the years, are still so popular and treated with such reverence? Looks like a case of double standards.

However, I do concede that listening to the same quotes over and over, in different circumstances, by different people can be bit of a pain. But if we need to replace these cliché’s, we must ensure that the new stock is as good or even better. They should express the same meaning with as much beauty as the so called “cliché’s”.

I was once told, “Never point out a problem, unless you have the solution to it”.

One common feature about a lot of these out-dated quotes is the simplicity of the words, but the meaning they convey is enormous. It is undoubtedly difficult to match up to those standards. So instead of coming up with new quotes all together, I decided to tweak the existing ones. By this, they no longer fit into the “definition” of a cliché and yet convey the same message. Since a lot of them were written a long time back, you might even be able to relate to them a tad better post modification.

These are a few I have come up with. You would notice a strong influence of technology in these “tweaked-up” quotes, since these are things I relate to best.

Honesty is the best policy, except on Facebook.

You can take the horse to the bar, but can’t get it wasted.

Don’t judge a person by their profile picture.

A well kept inbox is next to godliness.

A stitch in time can save you from a wardrobe malfunction.

As quick as a Buggati Veyron (267 m/h).

Better be safe than stalked.

The keyboard is mightier than a sword.

An idle mind is always on Facebook.

Two’s company, 3 is a community.

A MAC in hand is worth 2 PCs in a bush.

Never put off till tomorrow, what you can find on Google today (basically everything).

To err is to Windows 98, to forgive is to Windows 7.

The internet is always faster, on the other side.

Tweet and the whole world tweets with you, cry and you cry alone.

Fun right? Plus, it’s pretty simple. It took me less than 15 minutes to come up with these. Maybe you could do a lot better. I’d like to hear some from you.


Disclaimer: These are all original and written by moi. By a freak coincidence if you happen to read something similar, then HE/SHE stole it from me. Get it?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Ads of the Fore

Television has been such an integral part of growing up, especially for those of us born is the latter half of the 80s. Computers were confined to the labs and phones which could be carried in the pocket were science fiction. Hence, television was the chief form of visual entertainment for a notable period of growing up.

What stands out about “that” era of television were the advertisements. Unlike today, there were a few advertisements and they went on for years. So much so, that television viewing wasn’t complete without humming the tunes and mouthing the lyrics of the ads as they played out. Today, the advertisements are treated with contempt but back then the ads boasted of as much importance as the shows itself.

Some of these ads still play today and are a subject of fond reminiscence and ridicule. One such ad which stands out is that of “Vicco Vajradanti”, which still airs on Doordarshan and some of the theatres. In college, we use to sing the entire song that played with the ad, as loudly as we could, in chorus and have a hearty laugh at the end. Not surprisingly, everybody remembered the lyrics. Pepsi might have changed its tagline many a times in the last 2 decades but “Yeh dil maange more” which ends with the satisfying “aaaaaa hhhaa” will always remain special. Even today, when I’m extracting the last few drops of ketchup from the bottle I implicitly start saying “Aaja, aah aah aaja, aah aah aaja....aah aah aaaaah”.

“Those were the days”, I think smiling stupidly, and feeling like an 80 year old stuck in the body of a 21 year old. At that moment somebody switches the television on and I snap out of my reverie.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Taare Zameen Par - My version (Stars on the ground)

It is known that parents play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the child. Shaping a future doesn’t really mean choosing between courses in engineering, medicine, law, etc and getting them married off to a good family with a large closet. A parent has to encourage and motivate the young one to be proficient in the field they show promise in and in some cases identify the avenue which would suit the potential of the kid.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go that well for me. Here unfolds the grievous story of my life.

In the not too recent past, I would watch some of the episodes of Indian Idol and other singing shows, thanks to the over 3 month long furlough. I would find that almost every contestant thanked their parents or at least some member of the family (usually the mom), and accredit their success to the encouragement they provided. This was usually accompanied by the mother or parents being called on stage for some public display of affection. What usually follows is 30 seconds of drama and tears, stretched over 10 minutes, thanks to the technique of slow motion (inspired from cricket). To top it all, the drama unfolds to a sad Hindi number. The combination works like a dream and everybody from judges to the contestants (except the producer) start crying and bundles of tissues are passed around. I watch the drama unfold with my mouth wide open and no sense of emotion. My mother equally touched and rather taken aback by my indifference says, “You have a heart of stone”.

At this moment comes flashing back to me, the memory of the humiliation I had felt many many years ago. Unfortunately, my life isn’t as rosy as one of these contestants on the show. Every time I watch my mother appreciate the participants on any singing show, a silent rage burgeons within me. To add a concoction of chilli powder, salt and lime juice to my wounds my mother adds, “Our Sri Ram sings so well. He really deserves to win”. Just because he belongs to the same city he is “our” Sri Ram? What about me Ma?

As I lay motionless in my seat, my mind drifts off to a flash back. Then I immediately come out of it. I pick up my tetra pack of juice, put the straw in my mouth, suck in the nectar and then drift off again to my painful past.

Most of my childhood friends and me are members of a club which is located in the same area we stay in. It’s the usual club like any other, with some sports facilities, library, the occasional boring cultural nights, annual dinner, movies and bureaucracy. The most exciting time for us as kids, was the early part of November and it would go on till November 14th, children’s day. There would be loads of competitions which included cultural, sports, literary, etc for children from kindergarten to class 10 and we made it a point to take part in every possible event.

Most of you must have guessed by now that this post has some relevance to singing. You are absolutely right. Singing was one of the events I took part in every year, since I was 4. My mother had always been very encouraging and would go out of her way to help me, no matter what the endeavour. For the singing competition, she would painfully pen down the lyrics by playing and rewinding the tape recursively a million times before she could complete it for me, as we didn’t have the luxury of internet back then (The irony is she works for Google now). There couldn’t be a more understanding and encouraging mother. Or so I thought.

This ritual went on till I was in class 5 or 6 but I never won, which was quite a surprise to me. I was growing older and was becoming quite the connoisseur of music. My whole definition of music changed when I listened to the genius, Devang Patel, for the first time. The guy who made spoofs of some of the top Hindi and English songs, remember? (Mambo No. 5 became bambo No. 5 and Barbie girl became chaloo (cunning) girl). Anyway, I chose his track “Ladoo kha” (eat ladoo) which was to the tune of Coco Jumbo by Mr. President. I am sorry to say this, but I found Mr. Patel’s track way better than Mr. President’s. Yes, I chose a Devang Patel track for the singing competition and was cheered on by a lot of smiling faces and a few rolling on the floor laughing. I got off the stage pleased with myself and went to my mother sitting in the audience, who was covering her face with a magazine, which I thought was because of the glaring halogen lights, but thinking about it today, I have my doubts.

The results were to be announced the next day and I went home happy and excited. Maybe this was the year I was waiting for. However, my mother had other plans. She called me and I rambled towards her half expecting her to extol my performance. There she stood serious. Was something wrong, I wondered? She tells to me, “Gogo, I know you have been singing every year for the children’s day and that you really enjoy it. But now you are getting older. I think you should stop”. The earth below my feet shook and I couldn’t believe what I heard. I asked her in despair, “Why Ma”? To which she replied, “I’m sorry son, but you just can’t sing”. I was rendered speechless and couldn’t even reason it out with her. However, the jolt I got that day left such an impact that I never got onto a stage again to sing.

So do I really sing well?

As my friend Rahul Gayam, aka psycho puts it rather philosophically in his style, “The smell of our own fart never bothers us and it’s always the others who have a problem with it”. Disgusting but true. I think I am as good as any of the blokes on television though it’s a different story that my singing has never been appreciated and I attribute this to jealousy. To support my singing abilities, I know for a fact that videos of me singing out loud, while listening to my ipod, have been made and circulated. What I fail to understand is why these videos have “funny stuff” and other similar titles. I promise to get down to the bottom of that and solve the mystery.
Nobody around me has ever been encouraging or supportive when it comes to my singing. But if you study the lives of the many masters of music, they too had to go through a similar ordeal. Like them, I will not let people or circumstances bog me down. I still believe in my talent and I shall show to the world one day, what I am all about.


Author’s note:
In defence of my mother, she goes out of her way to support me in every other endeavour of mine, more than any normal mother would and for which I will forever be grateful to her. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Religion today, is a very sensitive issue and not everybody is qualified to “talk” about it. If you do, you must be one of the following:

a) Politician
b) A Baba (god man), who have people with power, like politicians, as disciples
c)  Drunk

I say this because no person in their right mind would publicly talk about religion, unless you have some form of might behind you. Tempers flare with the slightest provocation in the name of religion and this has been exploited over and over again, for various reasons which are nothing short of disturbing.

This article isn’t on religion. There are many knowledgeable men, who are erudite in this field and have discussed at length about the whole concept. On the contrary, my take on religion could be classified as apathetic, if nothing else. What I am going to verbalize though is my generation or generation- X’s take on religion. It is a generalization, which is based on the people I interact with, primarily my friends and the people around me.  Without a doubt, this is a small group for such an important discussion, but nevertheless, does show a trend that warrants attention. This group, primarily includes people with age ranging from 13-26 (most of them around the 21-24 bracket), educated, financially sound and a majority residing in metros.      

I decided to take up the burdensome task of going through the personal info of my 597 friends and find out what their “religious views” columns hold. Did I eventually go through all these profiles? No, I didn’t have to. After stalking 20 of my friend’s profiles, I could discern a general trend. So I started checking random profiles of the remaining friends and I would guess what their “religious views” column might hold. I was pretty surprised with the accuracy of my guesses (many left the column empty so that does not count as a negative vote). I am not a Psychology student, but the advantage I have in this case is that these are my friends, some closer than the others, but in any case I know them all personally and that means I have some inkling on what their personality is like. Yes, I am not the “waana be do fraandship with me” type who randomly sends or accepts friend requests.

In India, according to the constitution, we have the right to practice the religion of our choice. In most cases, we practice the religion which we were born into and it remains so for the rest of our lives. The only conversions I hear of is by ingenuous village/tribal folk who are apparently fooled or bribed by evangelists into converting or when you want to marry a person from another religion, where one of them has to make the “sacrifice”.  Unlike the west, where celebrities change faith like they change boyfriends, India is still a bit more conservative when it comes to religion. However, the trend seems to be changing especially amongst the urban, educated folk.

I have a lot of friends from particularly religious families who do umpteen poojas and visit temples for recreation. As children, they followed these rituals blindly but as they grew older they started questioning these very practices. Their bewildered parents blamed it on their friends, the movies, television, and everything under the sun but after a while they accept it, sometimes accompanied with a self induced smack on their forehead with a standard cry of na karma (my fate).

Where and when does this change come? Education plays a major part. Education teaches us to question everything around us, and amongst the various things, religion and its practices. Though I am from a very liberal family when it comes to religion, we follow the practice of not eating non-vegetarian food on Tuesdays like most North Indian families. In college, on many occasions, only after eating my meal did I realize that I was not supposed to eat my tandoori chicken because that day was a Tuesday. Initially, I felt guilty and only with repeated mistakes (however delicious they were), did I realize how meaningless the whole concept was. Still, when at home, I follow it out of respect for my mother’s sentiments. I think a lot of you can relate to this in your own ways.

Coming back to what I observed from the social networking site. A lot of my friends left the “religious views” column empty but almost everybody seemed to have their “relationship status” and “looking for” column well updated. Interesting! Indifference towards religion? Maybe or they just didn’t take the process of filling up the profile too seriously. The standard ‘religious’, ‘Hindu’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Jain’, etc responses were there as expected. I made a note of the people with such responses. What was intriguing about this set of people was that a lot of them were the conservative and reticent kinds who would think twice before making their view heard (there were some contrasting personalities too). However, the similarity in the behavioural characteristics of a major part of this group was conspicuous and could not be ignored. Another interesting observation wielded that many of them were also from relatively smaller cities and towns where the exposure levels aren’t that high and questioning religion is taboo. However, I am uncertain about how many of them read the Holy Scriptures, visit temples and attend religious functions because they want to and not because they have to.

A stark contrast to the last set of respondents, an unusually large number, stated their religious views as ‘agnostic’, ‘atheist’, ‘don’t care about religion’, ‘spiritual’ and so on. One interesting profile even had “sceptical” in response. Much the same as the last case, a majority of this group had a similar behavioural pattern too. A lot of them were the bold, rebellious kind, ones who don’t hesitate to question or voice their opinion and are a lot more “open”. As expected, most of them are from the metros.

With increasing urbanisation and changing trends does this mean that concept of religion is on the decline?
I don’t agree. Religion would prevail. Nevertheless, with women empowerment and increase in literacy rate, especially in the tier 2 cities and towns, its importance would decline. That is the reason some of the political parties, whose main strategy relies on religion politics, isn’t faring too well in states where education is high and poverty is low (in most cases). They are rethinking their game plan too.

What is the reason behind the decline of religious fervour amongst the educated youth?
The concept seems fruitless since it has been propagated in a very wrong way right from the childhood. It is not just about unintelligible rituals and traditions. A religion is a way of life, like a code of conduct in an organization. All religious scriptures like the Gita, Quoran, Gurugranth Saheb, etc all talk about tolerance, love, peace, etc. Religion in its true form is something very pure and chaste, which should be imbibed within yourself and should reflect by your actions and behaviour in your everyday life. The similarity in the line of thinking of the various religions is not a coincidence and it proves that it was formulated to improve the quality of life and ensure people co-existed in harmony but definitely not to separate them. Unfortunately, this noble idea went terribly wrong when people started exploiting it to invoke hatred and division, the very things that religion was expected to eradicate. Today, all we see is terrorism, violence, hate, divide and politics in the name of religion and nobody in their right sense would want to be a part of it. Using it as a tool for politics and diving nations might have worked in the past, but hopefully not anymore. Religion in its twisted and corrupt form should be allowed to die its natural death and people with vested interests should not use religion to instigate fellow beings and spread hostility through a tool that was made to propagate love.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


BHEL PURI is a Hyderabad based youth magazine which was launched in June 2010 and has already got eyebrows turning with its fresh and youthful feel. With target audience in the age group 13-30, it promises to get the youth back to magazines and books. BHEL PURI, as the name suggests, is a concoction of various topics and issues which would appeal to the young and the young at heart.

The idea of BHEL PURI was transpired by a bunch of engineering students while still in college. Nishanth Sukhvasi, the brain behind BHEL PURI, got together with some of his juniors and discussed at length on what was missing in Indian magazines today and the apathetic response of the youth towards them. But what really provoked them to take the “drastic” measure of coming out with their own magazine? Dinesh Yegireddi, part of the creative team and an intrinsic part of BHEL PURI’s core points out, “the amount of importance given to insipid gossip, page 3 and other masala news in today’s print media is unconscionable and is in many ways responsible for making today’s youth dim and uninformed”. He adds, “And in those sparse cases of relevant news, the content is hardly ever adequate. At BP (short for BHEL PURI), content is king. If something deserves to go on print, it will go on print. If it is a topic that interests the reader, they can be assured that they would get adequate, well researched information which is also fun to read”.

The first issue was out in the month of June amidst mixed reactions. People seemed to find the look of the magazine very impressive and interesting for first timers. Funky cartoons, the lingo used and the attempt to make the magazine “cool” were very evident. On the down side, there was criticism on issues like editing, typos and use of fonts. The suggestions and criticisms were taken into account and out came a more refined, August Independence day issue. They retained the youthful and colourful look of the magazine with some really awesome pictures, like in the first issue. The inclusion of interviews of experts and celebrities like Shruti Hassan were some notable changes. The articles are interesting, informative and in quite some detail as prescribed by the BHEL PURI ideology. That being said, standards will have to rise and quality will have to be maintained for as the number of issues published increases, the tolerance towards mediocrity will decrease.

Digressing from BP, the magazine to its parent company, what stands out about this "company" is that, they were very particular about handling the procedures and legalities themselves, to get educated and keep bribery away. “This is just another step”, as Sri Kalyan Moravineni (Head of marketing & operations) puts it, “in the direction of doing things right and in the true spirit of entrepreneurship”. These are not your regular entrepreneurs making a magazine. They are also a bunch of idealists who want to set a right example. In today’s world of short cuts, fast food and SMS language, this sure is a welcome change. There is a ray of hope in the clouds of darkness.

Now that BHEL PURI is a full fledged magazine having released two issues, what are the problems they face? Anantha Krishna, member of the creative team, points out, “Lack of good quality writers is one of the major issues that we face. As we establish ourselves, things might look up but today, yes it is a problem”.

With today’s generation stuck in cyberspace and obsessed with social networking, isn’t getting them back to magazines going to be an arduous task? They don’t seem to think so.
Anantha says, “It wouldn’t be fair to say that today’s youth is stuck in cyberspace since you see a lot of people still reading books. Many popular novels like Harry Potter and the Twilight series have E-Books available for free online but people don’t mind queuing up in bookstores to get their hands on a copy of it. The feel of a book or magazine is totally different and no E-Book can ever replace that”. 

BP sure has a bunch of optimistic fellas running the show. However, I would view the future with a bit more trepidation. This fear is not based on survey or statistics but the knowledge that I haven’t bought a single magazine in a long long time. But then, there hasn’t been anything like this either. Let’s see if BP can change the trend.

India has a huge print media audience and with literacy rate growing at 2.5%*, the number is going to increase. But unlike the West, we don’t have a very vibrant market for youth centred magazines. I asked Kalyan the reason for this.
“There isn’t much of a magazine culture in India for the youth. The quality of youth centric magazines in the West and here are poles apart”. Anantha adds, “The lifestyle of students in India is very different from the ones abroad. By class 8 you are expected to choose your career path and by class 11, studying 10-12 hours a day are the norm. Most of the friends I know, me included, started reading after we got into college. When you don’t have a market, you can’t expect to have high quality magazines”.
 I couldn’t agree more. After knowing the facts and markets being against them, the guys at BP still decided to go ahead with what they believed in and that is commendable. Guess “brave” could go down as another adjective to our already long list.

Okay! We have heard a bunch of goodie goodie guys with high morals and ideals who want to dish out interesting, well researched, adequate and quality information to the misguided youth of our country. But with its glossy pictures on high quality paper how much is it going to cost us?  Each issue costs a meagre Rs 20. This is apparently with a view to cater to every section of the society irrespective of the socio-economic background. So they are not just idealists but also philanthropists in their own way. But it’s always a lot easier to follow your ideals when you are a small organization with a small workforce. Plus, would the low prices of magazines result in higher sales? Only time will tell.

Hyderabad based youth magazine called BHEL PURI? Doesn’t Biryani or Haleem sound more Hyderabadi? “NO”, quips Dinesh. “We do not want to restrict it to just Hyderabad. There are plans of catering to a larger audience in the future”. More BHEL PURI? Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Going by the trend in the current issues, most of the articles are generic and only a few of them are Hyderabad specific, so there is a definite plan in order.

BP wants to be more than just a magazine. It wants to be a platform that would enable budding writers, designers, editors, photographers, etc to gain some real world experience in a field which is not yet considered mainstream in the Indian society today. If you think you have got the talent and are on the lookout for a right medium for your skills, BHEL PURI seems like an ideal choice. BP, as a company policy, encourages young talent and presents your work to a larger audience.  If you think you have what it takes to make it big, mail your resumes to

For more information on BHEL PURI, log on to The E-Magazine would be launched in the first week of September, 2010 so you could find out firsthand what the hype is all about. Follow BHEL PURI on twitter under the handle bhel_puri and BHEL PURI on Facebook.

* Source : National youth readership survey, India