Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Devil Calls

Just thought of dropping by, after the yearly monsoon clouds passed its way through my city.

After my arrival in Pune, my keyboard has been spinning those morbid tales at work. Some metrics, some dashboards and so much more ... I can’t even remember all. The more it takes a toll on my creative life, the more I get fluttered at the thought that I will have to write again.

Coupled with that some of my friends have stopped writing too ... how I wish they kept creating those subtle images of life. Today, I visited those friends who continue to write ... the creative ones ... who have continued to spin their words on web.

I don’t make promises, since I can’t break them. A day may come when I get the material to start writing again. But then such a day seems distant.

Don’t lose heart, and why would you lose it? An idle mind has stopped blabbering is no big deal. Good for the world as a whole, a devil’s workshop is better off being closed.

But the devil in me refuses to die ... may be some darkness will beckon again.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Say No to Irritating Advertisers

Advertisers from the world … disunite!

Guess advertising is going from one height to the other. They can kill you for your lack of patience, but they will never make the advertisers impatient. Good or bad, we need advertising, or how else you know about a product (or concept)?

Man likes to brag about something that he makes or owns, and other men fall for it. Sheer jealousy, or being trapped under the act of hard selling.

One would never know.

I understand the way advertisers work overnight to do a promo, and then come out with the target consumer segment to work on their thought process. This is a artistically carved out scientific process (enough to get someone mad!). A noted bank recently targeted the senior citizen customer segment, and in the process, made them look a lot younger.

Looked like they lost the point. Good for people like us, who are on the verge of getting senior soon!

But then, I still don’t understand whether there’s enough data with advertisers for us to really fall for. Having seen the advertising styles from the days of black and white billboards and ad prints, to the chic and glaze of today’s ads, I have hardly been encouraged by this ‘professional bragging’.

A recent case has been a few advertisers who are actively trying to promote some medical products as comments to my blog posts. I deleted a few last week, but they come back.

Let me honestly tell these advertisers: No use pal, please look out for some other place, I am not a great consumer of medicines, neither will I encourage people to use medication.

For me, a great health is the one which stays fit naturally.

The question still remains. Why are we so annoyed at the callers, the TV ad slots and the occasional ad ‘outburst’ that we see on the web pages?

Even though we like to fall for these traps, we also detest them since they always end up being over-hyped, and sometime even feel stupid. Competition in market place is fine, but this random use of selling skills to hype up the product (or concept) is definitely not fool-proof. They just seem to be man’s stupid sense at work, and sometimes we get irritated at the way they are carried out.

Negative publicity is also good, they will still argue.

One would never know, but then there was a time when consumption was definitely not guided by advertisements. The only ‘advertisement’ could be roadside sellers hawking for their goods. Think a few centuries back, business was wholesome. And the cost to advertising was never added as part of the costing for the product (or concept).

Goods could be cheap, in case we spend less on selling them on the internet, media or on roadsides. Our irritation at ads will be on a lesser curve.

Mr. Finance Minister, in this times of extreme price rise, will you just spend a few minutes going through this post of mine?

Some cost can be effectively reduced. I am scared of over-publicity, and so in case there are quite a few men and women like me, we can collectively voice our apprehensions over those who promote hard selling.

This will reduce costs, and can effectively bring down prices, even if marginally.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Need to think hard … or hardly think

When subtleties of life are overpowered, it usually leaves a feeling of dejection.

At no point of time a writer’s voice is less challenged than the time when the mind is in introspection. A deep thinking may be, or be with an urge to come out with a dialogue between the soul and the self, deep within.

Usually the time frame is not something I worry about. There’s no deadline of thoughts, in deep thinking, if ever it was the prerogative of an idle mind. It can be months, years or even decades of soul-searching looking for that conscious reason to explore.

Is there an end to exploring the niceties of nature? Is there some conclusion in exploring the human mind?

There is this need to continue, and the sense of continuity brings forth a feeling of exploration … a sense of continuum. I am no writer, but my thoughts still flow in that direction.

A nice breeze sometimes forces itself into my living room. The curtains get ruffled, and the freshness of purity seeps in for a trivial moment.

My soul feels blessed, by nature, at least. For some tormented minds, blessing has a literal meaning … naturally, I feel it. To that end, the soothing breeze breathes continuity into my thoughts … albeit with some freshness.

I see compatriots get into print, some ideas half-cooked, others craving for attention. Writing nowadays has become a ‘profession’, I hated that word when it compelled me to a workplace with defined dictum of decency and scrutiny. A profession can’t always be the sanctity of work, these days the lure of the penny makes it attractive.

Only day before yesterday, I was breathing through some pages in one corner of the Crossword store. I fathomed through the ordeals of Anne Frank, some moments in Gandhi’s colossal work in My Experiments with Truth. They still seemed so real, the content so ideally merged with the continuum of thought.

Writers are not born, they are gifted with the art of expressing through written words.

May be.

On another aisle, contemporary creations desperately asking for a ‘peep out’. Mostly bloggers, some are not even a year or two old, writing their stories. The tantalizing, salacious, transparent real life stories of our times.

Over these years, I have developed a sense not to criticize any writing. All writing is normal, I feel, while some are productive.

If a Crossword can have the twain meet, why does the society deprive to think? I speak to myself … where has the soul in writing gone? Or is it very much there, hidden for people like me to find out. They play hide and seek, like those immortal pages from the holocaust days … straight from the pens of Anne Frank.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two Bengali Women and the Volcano

Clouds were getting ominous from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano in Iceland.

I was watching the breaking news of a leading television channel. No wonder my mind was somewhere else. Unknown to many, two of my friends were caught unaware traveling from two opposite sides of this planet. European airspace was closed, and all flights traveling were cancelled.

Both were professional women, traveling alone … and coincidentally both originate from Bengal.

While Gopa was preparing to go to France for her project, Sreemati was coming back to India from Germany. She had spent a great time with her husband who has been stationed near Berlin for some time now. Sreemati is from my team, and had to join work. Gopa is a friend I have known for some years now, mostly through my literary pursuits.

What was unknown, however, was the fate of their immediate travel.

Interestingly, these beautiful souls were grounded for the same reason. I kept thinking … Intriguing yet such a queer coincidence, isn’t it?

Gopa’s project was getting painful at Kolkata with every passing day making her spend late nights at work. Her Project Manager in Bangalore was helpless, unable to control the increasing workload put on her. The client wanted her in France, at the earliest possible. Even the flight tickets were booked in advance so that she could escape this drudgery in her homeland.

She wanted peace of mind … working at onsite with her friendly clients.

Sreemati’s case was different. She was bored staying alone in Pune without her husband for six months. This happens naturally, having been married for just about a year. The longing took her to a trip of Germany, Greece and Spain … with her beloved. Fun times, romantic times … and finally, the need to come back home.

Little needs of life, the work … the longing to keep the so-called ‘flow of income’.

But a volcano came from nowhere to cancel their travel plans.

An upset Gopa called the travel desk frantically on the evening of Saturday. No response. An alternative was to take the number for the vendor company’s emergency desk that arranged foreign travel. These calls are exorbitantly charged, yet Gopa wanted to inform them about her cancelled flight and a further request to re-schedule the trip.

I knew Gopa was a brave woman, but facing the volcano, she appeared vulnerable.
She called me the next day, and was in no mood to understand that the actual travel can happen only after the airspace was cleared. After some talk, she appeared given up, unable to understand why it was only her that had to bear this. Her superiors in work were also silent, unable to really challenge the nature. A date for the trip appeared so difficult.

Next Wednesday Sreemati was to be in office. A mail from her lay in my mailbox on Thursday morning. She had her flights cancelled too … and that there was little that she can avail to come back. May be the next weekend, or even longer, she mentioned half-heartedly.

Meanwhile, Sreemati had booked a bus from Greece on her way to Serbia with the hope of getting some airline to take her home. The anxious husband wanted to accompany her, but she thought it could cost him undue leave at the client location. She took it alone. The bus trip was hectic, and the region unknown. What was being challenged was Sreemati’s determination to be back in India and join work, as early as possible.

When the Serbian police started to interrogate her, she was still hopeful. But those men were sure about the need to satisfy immigration laws. Sreemati wasn’t shy to face immigration, but she was restless to get aboard the airplane. The Serbian authorities denied her entry to their land, and promptly asked her to return to Germany.

As soon as the bus entered Berlin, she could feel a wet droplet near her eyes. It had come out, unknowingly, out of the whole chaos this volcano had created. She comforted herself as her husband hugged her as soon as she got off the bus, and promised to take her to the nearest flight reservation office in the afternoon.

Good luck appeared soon. The airlines industry started to face the wrath of depleted revenues. Already a week had passed, and there was almost zero traffic on air.

Partial airspace was opened up. There were some tickets available with major carriers, but with a hefty price tag. There was no way Sreemati could wait. She managed to get a flight to Mumbai.

Gopa also got a ticket. At least happy at last, even thanking for the little encouragement that I tried to give.

I wished Gopa ‘Bon Voyage’ … may be I could always say that to her. But this trip was vital.

The next Monday, I was surprised to see Sreemati beaming at me from her desk. On asking how could she finally manage to come back, her reply was

‘That’s a long story … will tell you some other day’.

She never told me the trauma that she went through, but I felt it in every little sentence that she spoke about her travel back to her homeland.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Solitude or Love Intoxicating

My house was slowly getting set. The sofa-set had finally arrived, so did a new dining table shining with a glass top. The bedroom was complete with a bed and the cupboard. Well, that was almost … what more could be a requirement for the decent living? Still the house felt empty, may be it wanted a few living soul to live in or it was just for her.

She had wanted to come but got stuck with work.

Poor me! I sometimes feel that way. She could have had work some other day, why did this have to happen to my dear weekend?

The setup for a new house couldn’t do a trick. How could they be the constant companion for a lonely man on a dry weekend? There was a shower the last evening, after around two months or more. Roads were wet. I had gone for an office outing the day before … to a resort on NH4, a day filled with fun, activities and so much more.

She had come too, how couldn’t she? And that’s where she promised to visit me during the weekend. She wanted to talk …

But she did not turn up. Though she called a few times from work, appearing disappointed for not being able to turn up. Still I have this habit of not trusting feminine assurances, they appear too decorative, a bit fashionable at times.

During the afternoon my folks called me at Parihar Chowk. A session with drinks and dinner was indeed inviting. I decided to take the invite.

Smell of vodka came back to me after months, haunting amidst the smell of the wet sand on the chowk. Water from the rains hadn’t seeped too much into the sand. The session appeared entertaining, yet the discussions were mostly on friends, family and frugal matters of life. These days even guys have become smart, they don’t open their minds up with drinks.

I had to finally take a bus back to my home. They wanted to drop me at home, I refused. This mind wanted some time to relax on my way back.

When I reached Hadapsar, the time by my watch was around fifteen minutes past midnight. I could have also taken a rickshaw. One such rickshaw was parked just opposite to this pub at Parihar Chowk. In this city, an auto-rickshaw is less an ‘auto’ more a rickshaw.

Reminded me of a German colleague my father met who wanted to buy a cycle rickshaw for his family back in Berlin … just so that he could have an entire family with less pollution.

I never saw a reason for this German thought! Guess China had rickshaws even before independent India had them. Why couldn’t he buy these pedal-wheeled vehicles from China? My reasoning had critical political overtones from the early seventies. Cold war across the borders, Berlin was more than a companion to the Soviets, so were the Chinese.

This bus had another drunken person as a passenger. He spoke his language, I spoke mine. The conductor asked for the ticket. A ticket is so universal, so is the money. Where does the language come in between? I got one without a hitch, but the other passenger kept questioning the fare. The conductor appeared to give up after a while, he had to appear sober.

Forty five minutes past midnight, the medical college of the armed forces was the only building that had lights on. The classes may have concluded hours back. I kept looking for my stop … for now there were only two more people inside the bus - the driver and the conductor.

The drunken passenger had got down somewhere, I wasn’t attentive then.

My stop came, and the conductor indicated me to get down. Not that I would have preferred staying back, but he thought it was his duty to help a man who seemed indifferent.

From the stop to my apartment, it’s a walk of seven minutes. May be the vodka had started the trick! I tried to keep a count on my watch. There were a few people on the road. A lady sped with her face covered riding a scooty, the mini version of the scooter. It looked as if her deadline to be at home had passed. In India, women must be on time … it’s the prerogative of men to stay away for long. She did notice me, I was briskly walking though. May be her scooty got a feeling of the Indian woman rushing back.

Are scootys in this part of the world feminine too? Even she rode one. May be she was back at home by now. I decided to call her, talking the walk back from the bus stop.

‘lemme know when u r bck’ was the small message appearing on the screen of my cell phone. She may have typed it a while back. It was I who missed it at the pub. Now I should let her know. She may have already retired to bed, after a tired day at work.

Interestingly, the call lasted an hour or even more. We talked, just like two children who are lost in their worlds but can’t get to play with themselves. This fanatic world of work, where we honour our ‘professional obligations’ by the clock, or may be these odd ‘commitments’ to be with the team for the occasional session or two by the bottle. A work life gets so boring at times.

She had known by that time that I was drunk. My words were incoherent. The vodka had finally played the trick. I wanted to speak less, but she understood.

‘You know’ she said, ‘if I could be with you tonight, it would be even more intoxicating’. I was thrilled for a moment, may be, since the very thought of her with me was so filled with love.

And love is indeed intoxicating, more than the vodka.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


In that quiet corner of the park, he had made this bench permanent as his seat. Not sure where he came from, but he would make it a point to sit on the bench, one afternoon after the other. Right from the time the sun would tilt into the western horizon, till the time it would finally set … almost covering the entire afternoon into the evening. He remained seated there … watching the proceedings around. All alone, all by himself.

The town wasn’t his, neither anyone could recollect having seen him or met him in distant past. But the way he would sit on the bench, one would assume that he has made this town a home.

Was he alone? None would ever know.

Clad in his signature costume – a faded pair of denims and a khaki half-shirt – he would be seen visiting the park everyday, and slowly everyone would have considered him a valid resident of the town.

But was he a permanent resident? Who would ever know?

From the point he entered the park, till the time he left his seat, one could see him looking tirelessly around. The children, the youth and the elderly whoever visited the park never missed his sight. Yet none exactly knew where he lived. And when he left his seat, he would simply vanish outside the park … until the next afternoon when he would be back at the park again.

Where would he leave for? Guess none would ever know.

Stranger would be a nicer qualification for him. But then he was a stranger who was a regular, so much so that the visitors to the park could vouch for him that he would come and sit on that bench, his permanent seat, around the stipulated time.

There were days when he would keep looking upwards, towards the sky. May be, he lost someone who he felt was up there. He kept looking up as if that person would peep out among the clouds any time for one last look at him. But as it often happens, the look never resulted in anything significant … he got a bit dissatisfied looking upwards.

What would he be looking for? None would ever know the answer.

Most of the remaining time, he would be looking around … or stare constantly at a group, whether it was a bunch of children or a group of young people didn’t matter.

He would smile, or sometimes frown at the happenings around. But he would never talk … nor even attempt to even start a conversation with anyone around. Those in the park were used to his presence, and behaved as if he was known. In short, he had slowly started to become a known stranger!

One day, a group of young girls were having a joyful time enjoying an animated conversation. The stranger heard and was curiously amused. He seemed interested and wanted to get into it. So he tried to call some in the group. He waved his hands at the group and tried to call any one of them, but remained silent as he wasn’t sure of their names. His hesitancy was evident, but he just wanted to relate to their talks.

At first the girls didn’t see him wave at him … but were soon apprehensive of his gesture.

Most of them got scared seeing his hand pointing at them. There were faces that were afraid to even speak out. Having seen him regularly wasn’t all that difficult, but to see him make this gesture frightened them. They would sense something was suspicious, and seeing him look at them made them a wee bit uncomfortable too.

The initial hesitation over, most girls in the group were of the opinion to leave that place. This would mean that the stranger would no longer be able to even spot them or even try to follow them. To move out of the park meant a safer way to avoid an interaction with an unknown person.

Soon they left the place, and the park slowly started to become normal again. The stranger, with a disappointed face, kept looking at the way the girls took to exit the place. His face expressed the hidden frustration.

May be he had something to ask them, but none would ever know what it was for.

A stranger that he was, he remained a stranger even though he had become so known as the person sitting on his permanent seat.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

At Pune with the process of Settlement

The day I landed in Pune, I had a bad start. We found at the Kolkata airport that I had forgotten my suitcase keys at home. Never done that before, guess tensions were running high in me. A dash back home was inevitable, missing the flight ... and finally catching the next available flight. Such was the start of my urgent trip to me.

We boast ourselves of being techies, no wonder we move with the speed of bytes. Our plans and programs are next only to the Almighty's. Actions are not something we wait for ... we are on the rush to extremes ... always!!

In Kalyani Nagar, a chirpy evening was nearing as the sun was on the western horizon when I rang the door bell of the guest house where I was supposed to stay. The caretakers, Balwant and Heera, were there to greet me. In my short stay at Kalyani Nagar, of around two weeks, these two never ceased to make me feel at home.

Be the poha, the parathas they cooked for me in breakfast ... or the anxious wait for me when I suddenly decided to catch a late night show of the 3-D extravaganza 'Avatar' at Gold Adlabs. They never knew that an idle mind has finally made his way to Pune!

Nights are definitely late here, and it never feels midnight on the streets. As I slowly grow to be a 'Puneich Mulga', these are definite takeaways from this warm and vibrant city.

Now I operate from Magarpatta City, from one of the cyber city towers that make for Pune's skyline. Inside these towers, computers keep processing, earning a few million dollars every day and night. My teams are bigger, hopefully better ... as I keep myself busy with a learning process that one has to get into in a new geographical location with a promising team.

But a new working team has to put up with this man with an idle mind!!

People do settle down, but there's so less to settle for. This is the same country that is also lazy, takes time to even move a file from one desk to the other. There are corporate policies, and business processes that take a toll of a person's newfound zeal to settle for more ... be it in person or at work.

Pune is definitely India too ... as was Kolkata. To that effect, the spirit of India remains intact. Plans get postponed, things get delayed to make people slog in an endless wait. A chance talk with legendary InkTank happened, he asked me to give some time even to the process of school admission for kids.

We are used to this, be it Kolkata or Pune, and Indian processes are nightmares. Time is not yet translated to revenues, and that asking people to wait is the pride of one's job.

So this settlement process is going to take some extra time. I am an Indian, so I bear it. I may be waiting, but I'm also trying to make myself establish a tent as soon as possible.

If the caravan has moved, how long can the tent wait to be put up?

I dedicate this to the youth of India, who are a fascinating lot in this city. They are intelligent, and are eager to reach out for the pinnacle of their careers. Students and young working hands, they are the ones I will probably fall for ... until I get a growing company.

Possibly I will meet InkTank in one of those legendary restaurants, coffee shops or someplace else. Aundh, Kothrud, Baner, Kalyani Nagar or Magarpatta ... the place does not matter. The time and date is not decided, but the eagerness to meet is baffling.

With this, I conclude a mere status update, though you may not be necessarily feeling my absence yet.

I will write regularly as I promised a few years back ... since this is just the fourth year of the promise!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Idle on the move

This trip was almost due. Ten years of continuous stay, this life of a techie needed a move. Constraints will be there, priorities need to come at some point … if not at the onset.

Packing will be troublesome, so will be the journey. From a house that was marked ‘owned’ to be someone’s tenant, it won’t be easy. A new location, new culture, may be newer adventures … lots of them in store for us.

Dad’s not moving … may be he won’t. His social life, fondness for familiar fellows will keep him hooked to hometown

But I need to move. This city looks saturated, or may be the recession, as jobs don’t come easy. There are political disturbances. Opportunities, they are not what my city is now known for.

A new setup to start from scratch, that makes my body go numb. A new beginning is what is so allergic, changes are tricky. May be I waited too long to move … may be I should have moved earlier. Deeper roots don’t detach easily.

Bangalore or Pune? Time will tell …

For this time, I am getting myself prepared. To me, the sole focus is my work. They say one needs to stay employed and keep growing. I am no stranger to problems, and they will need to be looked into.

Trying to look forward now. The time has come for me to relocate. Lots of soul-searching, numerous discussions … and may be, some more.

Need to move now … or otherwise, it may be too late for me.