Monday, September 17, 2012

Going Home to Come Home

Uprooting and Rerooting leaves one well............. rootless.

One stands in the middle of the new city that aims to become home, looking at the mass of people moving around, at people sipping coffee, at the easy conversation that seems to be there on most tables and knows that you are not “in” yet.

Yesterday, met two old friends who had come back to Bangalore after months of being away. Both are local Bangaloreans, kids who grew up into discerning adults in the evolving city.

For one it was the first time she came back -  ‘home’ post leaving. Only to realize that .. strangely now she referred to her new city as ‘home’.  Damm this was confusing. Why confusing? Because for the entire time that she was in the other nation – Bangalore was home. It was not where she lived but it was definitely what home was meant to be.

Hmm made me smile. Happens all the time doesn’t it.  For me home is Delhi. It will always be, the city that I will know better than any other, because I come from there,  know its pulse and have given myself the  self granted right to call myself a Delhite.

I live in Bangalore. Its home.  But in the limited sense of the ‘house’. It’s the home that for me means that my routine is here, I live here, but as I move around the city, despite the fact that by now with each place I have my own story and own history, at some level I feel a liitle it of a faker.

I know know.. at a deep level, that I don’t have the pulse of the city in me. That I don’t speak the language, that I in a gathering, everyone will know that I came here from somewhere else. Yet this is home.

A strange phenomena however is the need to come back to the original city, to fall in love with the adopted one with a far greater intensity.  Seen it happen a number of times.

-       Delhi person goes to London. Likes it but secretly knows its not India. Comes to Inida and misses London more than before
-       Someone goes to America,  and appreciates the chaos of home, the life it offers, comes to Pune, sets up home and misses America.
-       Am sure the list can go on and on

I love how the mind has an ability to magnify the parts we love and fade out the noises of things we wanna fade out.  Come home for a break, and these come whom bam slam into your face and then ouchies!! You remember why you wanted out in the first place. And hey wala. The new city looks like a place you want to head back to right this minute!!!!!!

Smarty pants me with all this insight and wisdom, no matter where I am going to go shall fall into the musings little Indian mouse, missing the street food, the noises of the fans and traffic, the blending in, and not cleaning my dogs poop once he poops. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Re starting

September 11, 2012

Seems like an ominous day to start something new.
Seems like a great day to start something new.

When 9/11 took place the world watched shaken, the stories and the hate, the love and the final moments have reverberated for over a decade and the only thing that clear and strong that each persons sags resounded with were the simple words of I Love You.  Live your life, it’s a beautiful thing to have, make it count, make it large.

Its 10.00am, am sitting in a silent room, in a rather silent office where people are yet to make an appearance. It’s a new place.  Another new start.

Its rather ironical, but sitting in a office space makes me feel immediately more productive, happier and willing to do more.  Including write. Gives me a sense of purpose, though as I type, I don’t know how to get water, where the loo is, what is the internet password and how the coffee comes to the desk.

Yet having been in and out of several offices over the past years, there is a certain sense of ease that comes with being around one. The jabber with the colleagues, the running in on time and the banter that comes with lunch, all go towards making it a more fun day.  A conversation – that makes you scratch the surface of who the other person is.

You are aware that you know them but, there is a whole level of them that you do not know, a certain line that is never crossed,  a wall that comes up. If I was to die surrounded by my colleagues over the past years, I am sure it would feel to me that I  had been deprived in some manner of a death that I deserved. What a morbid thought na.

Its ironical that one knows spends a maximum amount of ones day in this group, yet for the most part, in most organizations the interactions are aimed at being limited, professional and non personal. A birthday holiday is equal to leave taken for personal reasons. Cute in a sense how much we try to plain jane ourselves.

Reading the article, ( was an opener to assess how much we stress on the little thinks and the approach itself towards thinking/thoughts  the foundation determines the extent of what we become.

Rich people think differently. Loved people think differently. Successful people think differently. Developed country citizens think differently. Poor people think differently. How much of us thinks in a manner that the I chooses, it an interesting question to ask oneself.

For a return to writing this one is a hell of a jumbled up article, but it’s a good reflection of life in the here and now. A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I have a bias.  Raised in a middle class India, family there was a line that was unwritten non questioned, clear. Taking drugs was bad. Not acceptable and people who did rely on them were somehow to be distrusted. pitied almost. 

As one grew up. The straight line, managed to get blurred. Diversions appeared. Tolerance levels were rechecked and the unwritten rule faded.  Part of it was the teenagers desire to be cool. savvy, ok with it all. but somehow it wasnt. That somehow remained. 

Remember walking around the Pilani campus for the massive fest, there were kids sitting below the umpteen lampposts, with the water bombs, passing it around, lost to the world. There was a fatal attraction they radiated, a composed oblivion. A open closed group, intimate to themselves. Part of me wanted to belong, be a part of that intimate sharing. The other part was distrustful, of them, the weed, the loss of control, the being 'bad' all made me shrink away, regarding them as people I had little to do with.

That was college. Life moved on, spirituality made an entry. This was all things good. or so my childhood conditioning said. It was holy, about higher purpose, connections, withdrawing inwards, and realizing more than the mere desires of life.

Sitting in Rishikesh, pretty close to a holy man, one saw him fill his chillam, light up. take a deep drag and sit. Eyes closed, he sat there the picture of serenity. Closer home, sitting in Bangalore, a young man, a musician told me about the spiritual power of acid. How a few drops could make the illusionary world drift away, the real world seep in and meditative bliss that no amount of pranayama, sitting on the yoga mat or visitng ashrams could induce. 

He offered me some. I refused. Stating in a high and mighty voice, that I would allow my breath to be my ladder to godly connect, not acid. My breath is still waging war with my mind, a losing war. 

Delving deeper into the spiritual realm, the use of medicinal herbs, cactus plants, magic mushrooms all were used for centuries. Shamans 'guided by spirits' knew what the other person needed, would monitor the experience, and even somehow know what the enemy was that the other person was battling with. There was a use of the plant, a plant to get you into the realm of unknown.

Reading an article today about the drug tourism trend in SE Asia, I wondered what it was that was enticing about the experience. A sense of freedom? an ability to laugh more than not? a rebel allowed a platform to rebel against something? pure joy? an addiction? an craving..

As the old school girls moral judgement, becomes mellower a old soul part of me still refuses to let go. My heart cringes when i hear a friend declare he was stoned last night. or another one share that he needs a joint to fall asleep. Have heard the lines about it being healthier than booze or ciggerettes, a way of relaxing, etc etc but somewhere somehow, my old soul wonders if any of these crutches are needed? truly needed

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Whales have rights

Disclaimer - I am an animal person and vegetarian. I also think rescuing a dog from a burning house before rescuing the family album is a perfectly sane thing to do.

Sitting on the couch, reading the morning paper this morning lead to a rather unexpected event. A heated pre breakfast morning discussion.

What sparked off the debated was this article - For those too lazy to read the original article, its about PETA suing Sea World (the amusement park where killer whales shows are a key attraction)

Peta on behalf of the killer whales, was fighting for the independence of the whales to live a free, fearless life in the open seas and be rescued from the tank like confines that they were a part of. Normally, this could have been seen as a over zealous attack of activism, but there was something more to the article that caught ones attention..

2 years ago during one of the shows, one of the 'slaved' killer whales, took her own trainer, dragger her underwater, thrashed her at the bottom of the tank till she breathed her last. Note, the trainers are the ones who have the most intimate bond, with the whales, devote nearly there entire lives to the cause of being the caretakers of these creatures.

The debate centered on 2 topics. One the right to demand independence for animals and secondly,  if rights for causes such as animals, environment etc could only be implemented or even considered once human rights had been taken care of.

One side of the argument, centered around ensuring that the scarce resources of the world be first directed at uplifting the human beings, as only once the impoverished had a better chance of survival would they stop tampering the environment. The corner stone of this argument centered around the higher value of human life than say whales, and so the protective measures first must take care of this species. aka the human species.

The second argument, was revolving the inherent rights of every being. the right of life of a squirrel being equal to the right of life to say a donkey and moving away from speciesm. This would be a huge argument- and against the moral code of life as it exists right now. the human race is supreme. this is fundamental way the world has been organized. This supreme - power- allows it to determine who will live, who dies what is a species thats endangered and which one isnt.

A line in the article stated - merely because the being (whales) which were alive, feeling, emotive being, not born in the form of humans have fewer rights? In my view they dont. What would it mean if PETA did win this case?

A right to choose, for animals from animal testing, from circuses, from being puppets in zoos, leather making machines. A natural order of things, a reversal of the stone age. No that would be far fetched. However a natural extension of a favourable verdict could impact several forms of animal use. Interesting though.

If the animals could speak, am not sure how many animalistic revolutions would we have to deal with. This post is rambling, and there is no clear point to be made but one..

there is sanctity of life. in every atom of every being. every being wants to live. A book mentioned the wails a plant also lets out at a high pitch each time there is an perceived threat to its being. and it hurts.

I wish there were happy free whilly endings to all such situations. freedom. life.
to dreaming of these realities once, sometime. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

India -tata tata bye bye

Indias GDP to slow down to 6.7%.  2 ministers found seeing porn in Parliament, sewage water coming in the taps of local residents, Yuvraj singh is upset at making the headlines for 2 days in a row over his cancer, skill levels in youth found to be inadequate, FDI flight is an issue the budget needs to address, tractor sales down as food prices head down, inflation capping itself but eroding the saving level of people. 

2 week holiday for Thailand and Malaysia, book now to guarantee seats, new toll levied for passengers using the bangalore airport. Passengers angry as the road is blocked and there is no sign of the signal free road they were promised, GDP slipping to a 3 year low, Jindals are raising their voice against the mining ban, Mahindra and Mahindra slipping in its quater sales as the price of inputs rise, netas watch porn in the house, incompetent netas to fired after 15 years, Mark your diary, beat exam blues away with a song and a snack, namma netas take a yoga break, Congress leader wants a dress code, Cauvery water to elude 26,00,000 locals this summer, Trekker dies due to outdated maps, Triveni Sangama littered with waste, Daughter only guest in parents house, Ministers asked to take ownership for targets.

Caretaker turns goa house into a brothel. Kingfisher goof up leads to a family of four being stranded in Seol, Why this kolaveri di over my illness yells yuvraj? Wanted home loan managers, Experience 0-3 years, Rahul Gandhi gives ticket to a man with a criminal past, Crickets tipping point, why Indian cricket team declined, Double Standards - are liberal indians less outspoken about Muslim bigots than hindu ones?

India needs to understand that it must compete for investments. 

Each of the lines above is a headline of todays paper. This is what the papers yell. 
Something seems to have gripped either this paper or the nation at large. A sense of joy euphoria is missing, even the Anna stroked fire has seemingly tapered off to a dejected state of listlessness. Summer if just about making its presence felt, the apathy is already here. 

Read any international daily, and India has already been written off as a maybe/possibly/if only potential super star. China is there. A presence a threat. This is not a satire or a cynical piece merely reporting back to myself the factual facts about the nation. 

Sitting with a fellow Indian on a terrace in Pnom Penh, we defended our nation to the German and Brit sitting there, both of whom already have embraced India. They asked us though, why we are so defensive about our nation? Why cant we look at say somethings as they are?

The question stopped me for a minute. Maybe because the truth was bitter. There was simply still after several years too many basics not addressed, in the right manner. Yes, our education was failing us, yes the infrastructure was weak, yes there was filth and dirt, yet there was a beauty to the nation of diverse Indians. a beauty more than peaks and seas. What it was - I found difficult to articulate. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

colony friends

Growing up was fun. Yawn. Relax am not going to go on lamenting about how childhood was so blessed, and how growing up isnt what it was meant to be. NOT WRITING ABOUT THAT!

This is an ode to an even simpler phenomena. Geographic friends

As a kid growing up in Delhi, the school was a place where people from diverse city areas came together. Some of these areas were so far away, that despite living in the same city, we never went there. It was simply too far.

Friends somehow effortlessly feel into a natural grouping scheme. there were school friends, tuition friends, bus friends and the best of the lot colony friends.

This motley bunch, was a cacophony of fun. boys and girls, all from different schools, classes, ages, and in a city like Delhi, parts of India came together. Devoid of cellphones the plan was simple. Every evening no matter what, by 4.30 -5 all one had to do was to get into play clothes, slam the books and show up. Simple. If you didnt show up, the group that had shown up would come below your house and yell your name with stinking adjectives attached till you did show up.

the rest was invented. Games were played, camp out sessions on roof tops planned, early morning walks and runs, combined with a elaborate plan of what breakfast to steal from whom was set up. The beauty was the effortlessness of it all.

As a grown up, i miss the colony hang outs. Now dinners have to be planned, invitations sent. Or even if its casual, one person has to drive from far away to somewhere else far away. Drooping in for a coffee or heading for a long walk, are activities that come at a premium and traffic robs one of the desire of just going to the local hang out pub.

The sitcoms of America, that have had most of us entralled almost always had a few things in common. Take Friends, Sienfield, Will and Grace, Two and a half men, How I Met Your Mother, - the friends stayed close together, had an 'adda' to hang out at and this enabled them to be a part of each others lives a lot more than not.

Colony Friends. That what each of them were.
Having moved into a new area, its a void that I feel. The knack of just landing up, with the dog on a leash and knowing that a fun conversation, a ice cream on a stick and a walk through the streets with laughter was guaranteed.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Thumping Down


The name pretty much sums it up. Bulleters – a riding club for people with a passion for bullets. A group, where words are replaced with thumping engine noises, the keeekeee, keeeeekkeeee of the accelerator being pulled, dhakdhakdhakdhak dhaaaaaak dhaaaaak dhaaaaak sounds, a flash and someone speeds by you, another moment and a turn looms up.

Sitting behind, holding on tight, one pushes the defiant strand of hair from ones eyes and concentrates. Nature, trees, monkeys are all zoned into one common truth.

Man, machine and the road.
A flick of the wrist, a roar in response
Slit eyes, scanning everything
Split decisions taken, the world zooms by
Over and over again, vroom the men
Faster, crazier, madder, the rush making the eyes water

One man pauses. Pulls over. Waits
Rider and bike, cockily lazily gaze
Waiting to see who made it next
The speed the thrill the competition that somehow never ends

A bike pulls up. Helmet is removed
Riders gaze into each others eyes
Competition, then and there dies.
A big grin, a slap on the back.
That was fun maccha, zatak the bikes went

Revving down the crowded roads of the city, Bikes lined up one behind the other thumping and hooting their brotherhood. A bike snake, coiled its way as bystanders looked with on with a smile, children waived and local boys tooted their horns in glee

Sitting there -  yet again reprimanding the defiant hair strands it came to me. There is a spontaneous joy in belonging to something large. Larger than you or your immediate circle of people, even though this was a bike ride and not a cause, there is an intuitive intoxicating rush in belonging. Creating a wave

Egypt made more sense now. Anna made more sense now. The cause becomes secondary, the thrill primary.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Do You Remember of Today?


This is the work of Jonathan Harris.
Watch it once, please do.

Jonathan, was turning 30 and the realization that there was a lot happening in life that he did not know about struck him, the feeling that as you are growing older, your life may not be as you imagined it to be when you were 20, that there is a feeling of not attaining much, a feeling of there being a lot more to do, a feeling to determine who you are.

He embarked on an experiment, each day before he would head to sleep he would take a picture representing for him the day. One moment in the day, that meant a lot for him. One moment that said it all.

As the year moved along, the project engulfed him. It made him realize how little space there is to pause, to reflect, to introspect. Space. Privacy, time for contemplation. In the rushed pace of life, where information is distorted on a near constant pace fragments of information that come together to make news there is a need

To pause.
Take a moment to create and ponder over your own experiences, the life you just created, the story that you are making

When a close relative of mine died, a few years back. It made me realize, that there is nothing nothing that matters more than the story of makes with the life they lead. It need not be large, it need not be wide spread, it just needs to be the best that you could do. the lives you could touch, the choices you made.

A memory bank. Richer this bank with diverse experiences, rich is that life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An external Perspective

I learnt a new thing in January. There is something called the developing worlds EYES and there is something called the DEVELOPED world eyes. Eyes being a synonym for the multiply laced perspectives that define how we see and what we see of the world. 

Sitting by the sea side of a little cafe in Phu quoc, Vietnam, we struck up a conversation with a middle aged couple from Canada. As travel conversations tend to go, we were soon trading tips on where to go and what to see. 

The couple began talking about the most vivid moment that they had in they journey so far. A visit to the floating village in Cambodia. Hmm floating village, sounds interesting. "oooh you have to go there, what ever you do you must not miss this. its remote so very different, these people dont have anything, they are living in an ancient way, with even the schools on water. Electricity isnt there. Its unimaginable. The sheer will power and courage of them is remarkable"

The developing country Indian in me quipped back. That does sound interesting, the floating part of it, but the rest that you mentioned is a part and parcel of a large portion of developing nations and there are zillion of cases of people managing a life without the luxury of these resources. 

Thats when it hit me. 

At some level I have Indian eyes. am accustomed to seeing a lot of hardship, its normal for me to open the paper and hear about honour killings, its acceptable to see a village that is living with little to no power, and its more than normal for there to be rich, poor, and middle class. The attitude of this is how it is has been ingrained. I no longer 'see' this as alarming, no longer does it jolt me, it is what it is. 

Does that make the developing nation - cynical ? or worse indifferent? Maybe. 
Does that make the developed nation - more caring? more responsive.. Not sure. 

For the record, we did go to the village. The 'Floating' part was true. Each house was fashioned on a foundation of oil drums, on which wooden planks were nailed down and on that a house made. Effective solution, for flooding, as the house simply rose when the water rose. 

The other bits, about being the most remote island ever. Blah! Each house had TV, there was a convent school, a medical clinic, cafe, a harbour boat pier, each tourist was charged 20 dollars to see them, little girls were accustomed to playing with pythons to get tips and the regular tourism showcase was on. 

My developing nation eyes - were disappointed. 

Somehow one notices more when they are traveling, than when they are living by within the comfort zone. 

Everyday, events that one takes for granted in the lives of people back- home and refuses to get alarmed by are things that evoke a reaction elsewhere. Too theoretical a statement, that is. lets simplify it. At a construction site near my house, families are engaged in construction. The children of these students, lay out the mat, get the books and study below the light of the lamp. A very cliched Indian moment. So cliched that even the President of India, used this as an Idiom to depict 'struggle'. As did Mr. Bagchi. 

The example, isnt to demean the struggle at all, rather used to highlight the matter of fact manner in which everyone around them responds to the very visible economic divide. So normal it is, that an emotional reaction isnt evoked.

Maybe to someone touring Asia for the first time, it would be an alarming sight to observe. 

The interesting twist to this though is an observation. It doesnt take long for a developed eye person to get the cultural sensitivity of the developing ones.  Things that alarm you at first, quickly become the norm. The beggar children are not given sweets by week 5, by week 6 one learns to ignore the old lady with the big spectacles and by week 7, one is not wondering why there is a baby playing on the sand pit.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

rewards and accolades

The news papers are all over the news about the IPO of Facebook. FlipCart is getting a valuation of 850 million, amazon is soon going to shut down the legendary Barnes and Nobles and new innovations across the board are getting their due.

Standing in front of a bonfire last weekend, a new man appeared. He was a pals pal. When asked what connected them together, they answered - passion! a mutual passion.

Entrepreneurship. That was the answer that was what they were passionate about. Creating something new. something from a thought, to an idea, to a tangible outcome to a real product. service. something whatever form it took it did not matter

Its a good time to be in the space of doing your own thing, neednot be large. need not be life altering, there are more programs and spaces geared up to support your venture than ever before.

Attending a workshop in Bangalore, one was stunned by the level of support the Start Up Communities got. People created spaces for thought,  and mutual collaboration, there were people giving a how do start kits, vc's advising and funding options available aplenty.

Yet much like the Bollywood extras, that aim for the moon. Some land up with star dust and some with glimpses of spotlight, for every good idea there are a few that succeed and a few that dont. Having shadowed a few companies that have made it big, the core reason, seems in my view to balance 3 core things

- Clarity on what the idea is about - what is the purpose that it is trying to solve. Clarity on this allows the marriage to be with the intention and not the process. Hows give way to addressing why are we doing this

- Determination to make tough decisions - There are friends and then there are partners. Sometimes partners make good friends, and sometimes friends dont make good partners. who is who is a tricky bit. The challenge often is to create a system, that culturally has the feel good factor of openness, fun work space with allowance for a new set up to be created. Over time. Processes are not the enemies. Rigidity is.

- Dreaming Big - If you dream about conquering an empire. that is what you will do. If you dream about being an empire of the village then that is what you will get. That is the size of your aspiration shall dictate the actions that you undertake.  The larger the dream the larger the actions

Love the theoritical spool that I seem to be on for today. While the above may have a grain of truth in it, it all falls flat unless one has a deep level of risk taking capacity. A appetite for uncertainty, a conviction that its possible. Without that anything isnt possible

Monday, January 30, 2012

Same same but different

I feel like energy. Movement. Mojo.

Change, keeping it real and making things happen.  There is so much to write about that it paralyzes the flow of thought itself. From the last insignificant blog article to the movement now, there is a sea of change that needs to be accounted for.

The key question that everyone seems to ask is how does it feel. As one passes as an active participant through a grand Indian Wedding, the one thing that is a slippery eel, is the ability to stop and feel. Fear, nervousness, excitement, all jostle for space with the hectic rhythm of managing a event. One forgets to allow the moment to sink in.

How does it feel to be married? Is there a huge change? This is a question that I am answering for myself as well.

Walking along the chaotic streets of Vietnam, there are t shirt slogans of all sorts and kinds that catch your eye. Angry birds, jostle with i-poh for attention. One of them seems to be the one that is a pop out art form of my state of mind

Same same…………….. but different. 

That’s exactly what this feels like. Being an Indian, can state that its a exhilarating luxury to have a partner that has to work hard to surprise you, because the knowingness is on a high pedestal. But a ring on the finger must change some nuances even within that relationship? It felt a bit different. Looking down at the henna draped hands and feet, the implications of the move began to make themselves felt. Bit by bit.

At the core of it, there was a feeling of liberation to the move. Liberation, is a strange word to use for a act that is by its very nature binding.  Liberating- as it allowed me to allow a large catchment of fear, fear of loosing to leave.  Liberating, as it allowed one to somehow believe that this was more secure. A promise of tomorrow, made today more alive. Deeper. Richer. The Fragile tag could be ripped of.

Of course, I know that’s a silly reaction. Marriages, are fragile.  Crushable in seconds. Boredom, taking for granted germs that come to infect. Somehow, maybe its still the honeymoon phase, as long as you take responsibility for your happiness, for making yourself a alive person sharing the changes and learning’s with those around you, things should be ok.

With this new lease of life. With permission from myself to do more, live more. There is a new zest, a new focus on living life just a bit more. Action it baby.