Tuesday, April 26, 2005

It's a new day...

The engine whined with suppressed power as the minibus sped down National Highway-4. Far away, the buildings of the IT park came into view, huddled together, looking like little cardboard boxes with windows. Suddenly it felt like watching the city from the window as the plane would make its final approach for landing...

As I say this, Bryan Adam's song comes to mind...

...It's a new world - it's a new start
It's alive with the beating of - young hearts
It's a new day - it 's a new plan
I've been waiting for you
Here I am...

Have a great day!

Monday, April 25, 2005


This travelogue is a confused attempt at recalling some of the interesting highlights of the picnic. If you missed the trip and find it hard to understand, DO NOT WORRY ---those who DID come will feel the same. All names of persons mentioned have been changed to protect their identity (except B Joshi). The main intention of this article is to make you laugh like you all did during the trip (except B).


This is how it all started:

We slept well in the train for the journey began at around 12 in the night or something. But that is not the whole story, for about a dozen guys were awake singing and ‘gappe maar rahe the’ until about 4am in the morning. While some of them played a serious game of cards till about the same time!

Finally, the morning came well before many of them had barely said ‘goodnight’! After quickly wolfing down our breakfasts it was time for….. SNACKS! Chitale Bandhu, sukhi raho! Then it was time to burn all those extra calories that we had just piled up. So we played Treasure Hunt!

Whatever calories our grey cells could not burn were used up in running up and down the compartment to pester P to provide the next clue. If we ran in only one direction some of us could have covered half the distance to Chennai.

The winners got chocolates while the losers had to simply look forward to having lunch. Now very few people know that the runners up got more chocolates…. How??? They simply raided the winner’s compartment and ‘shared’ their spoils.

Finally after a journey full of laughter, songs and teasing, we reached Chennai. Here the teasing was never meant to embarrass anyone… well, except maybe, B Joshi.


The bus left Chennai Central with a bus-load (isn’t THAT obvious?) of tired and hungry souls and reached the resort at around 11pm. Unlike last time the reception DID NOT look like anyone’s marriage – there were only men waiting to garland us (I believe they had some tip-off that our company has a lot of bachelors!).

The next day we all went to Pondicherry. At Pondicherry we found out a very important thing ---that the resort was much better. Oh, it was not that bad! We got nice words from our guide about smuggling liquor from Pondicherry while in the bus (Of course she told us much more than that but this was easy to remember!).

Then at Mahabalipuram the mischievous guys photographed themselves posing as if they were holding up those giant boulders. The way our police is going by photographic evidence these days, they may soon arrest these guys for sinking two other temples into the sea…

Then came the evening party which had some very special performance by (name changed anyway). The dance consisted of some amazing feats like drinking water from a bottle (PLEASE DO NOT LAUGH! He was balancing a lot of unidentified objects on his head while doing that!). The most unbelievable performance was by a certain employee who came with a shirt worn front-side-back! (We do not want to reveal that it was B). The dance performance ended with a dangerous stunt involving juggling objects which were –-literally—burning! Since almost no one had attended the fire safety seminar atour company, none tried to put off the fire and they allowed the man to perform peacefully.

The next day everyone was eager to get a boat ride to the underwater temples (which were allegedly sunken by some miscreants posing for photographs) was simply amazing. The enjoyable part was when everyone was allowed to jump into the deep sea water. Those who did not want to get wet simply sat on the boat (and got drenched in the waves anyway).

We all missed the video coverage that SC would have made. But taking undue advantage of the lack of evidence I tell you that we won ALL the volley ball and football matches we played. Playing beach ball was quite amazing as we dived into the sand at the drop of a hat, dives that would put the Indian cricket team to shame!

Then everybody took the plunge (not marriage but the swimming pool) and played in the water till lunch. The lunch was simply out of the world. The seaside thatched-roofed venue had a rustic ambience that made the lunch a very special one.

The evening saw another round of boat rides and volley ball matches (We won! We won!). But that was not the end of the day. It was the beginning of the final bash. We all converged at the party hall. One of the most important part of this program was the ‘initiation rites’ of all the newcomers (the word ‘ragging’ is too colloquial). Everybody had a great time including the newcomers who came up with some fantastic performances. That was followed by Fashion Show where all the couples set the ramp on fire (there was actually no ramp but still). Then it was the turn of stags to make a fashion statement. This was followed by dance competitions, dinner and the dance not necessarily in that order. Anyway, it made a night to remember!

The train journey the next day was as memorable. Again the election campaign started. The public opinion was that there can be no leader like B (name NOT changed even on request). The people in the second train were witness to an unusual musical performance by A (N’s son). He sang “Aisa jadoo dalarey…” in an infinite loop. Apparently he was spending too much time with some of our developers (is B a developer?) The singing did not stop there, we had a couples singing session too! This was followed by a live rendition of “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” in all languages. The card games were a rage. Everyone’s favorite game was ‘Master Bluffer’ for the most obvious reason: natural talent. Then it was time to sleep. Sometime after breakfast we were back on the sticky Pune platform we missed so much (I made that up).

Happy memories that will last a lifetime. Jokes which we recall and make us to want fall down laughing except for the fear that the guy in the neighboring cubicle will log a request for a mental check up as well! Till next year. Enjoy the post-trip hangover!

(Had written this on December 24th, 2004, a few days after returning from the Chennai trip. Two days later, the very beach we were standing on would be under more than 12 feet of water. Our trip had been actually re-scheduled one week earlier than planned due to non-availablity of rooms. However, no casualities were reported from the resort as the guests were having breakfast on higher ground...)

How to Express Yourself and Get Away With It...

When was the last time you wanted to speak your mind and couldn’t find the right words to use? Especially when you want to express your displeasure! Saying something drastic may ruffle too any feathers and who knows, the feathers may belong to someone who is higher in the pecking order! What do you do then? Here is a solution; give went to your steam in English. English?! Before you let your pessimism run wild, try this, "You cantankerous caitiff, nugatory cipher and an arriviste!" See to it that you have a deadpan face and day it fast enough to prevent any of those words to be retained in the memory of your flummoxed victim long enough to rummage through the dictionary to find out what that means. Let us replay the sentence in slow motion and analyze its various elements. 'Cantankerous' means short tempered, 'caitiff' is coward, 'nugatory' is worthless, 'cipher' is a person of no importance, and an 'arriviste' is a person who is ambitious and self-seeking.

Einstein once said, "There are two things that are infinite, one is the universe and the other is human stupidity. But I am not sure about the universe". If your dear friend simply does not get your point, which a kindergarten kid would understand at the very first attempt, the best compliment would be 'cretin'. Not enough? Anserous, asinine, misintelligent, thick-witted, fatuous, lummox, blunderbuss, loutish, noddy and so on! Having covered a part of the infinite wavelengths that stupidity can manifest itself in, let us proceed to deal with people who are crooks. So specialized they are in their fine art of filching that you wouldn't know that something was amiss until their malfeasance has already been bestowed upon you! But once you realize it, you can go at them with, "pirate, freebooter, buccaneer, picaroon, rover, corsair, searover, rifler, cutpurse, latron, despoiler", although many of these words refer to pirates, the fact that you were left all at sea by them is reason enough to use them.

Then there are these people who love three things in life. They are, to talk, to talk, and to talk. And as the quantity increases, obviously, the quality steadily decreases. They beat around the bush, meandering aimlessly, maundering away to glory, providing a cure to insomnia in some and giving headaches to some less fortunate! They usually are friends who you wish weren't! Since they won't even let you interrupt them, you might as well say this prayer in your mind - "Oh God, if You hadn't given them so much of an ability to babble, chaffer, drone, circumlocute, harp, to ramble, to be pleonastic, prolix, verbose, the world would be a quieter and less miserable place!"

Now come the most dangerous kind--even Dale Carnegie would not be able to tell you how you can make friends with them or influence them. They are the ruthless achievers who would bulldoze their way to the top of the ladder of success (what other kind of ladder would support a bulldozer?). Morality, righteousness, and altruism are strange words to this demon in the guise of your friendly colleague. Spreading a rumor, canard, and slandering names is part of the daily routine. This diabolic casuist wouldn’t mind publishing your research paper as his/her own and believes that the end justifies the means. Such a person would be Machiavellian.

Although it was fun reading these words, it may not be much fun using these words to hurt people or rather their egos and feelings. Each new word gives us a new way of expressing our feelings and adds a new dimension to our personality. But it should not be a new way to throw the spanner in the works of any organization! You are right; this is the ‘handle with care’ warning that comes with anything dangerous!

(This article of mine had been printed in Education Times, Pune, December 30th issue with the title "Vocalise Your Reflections")

Thursday, April 21, 2005


The weather outside is beautiful! Rainclouds are caressing the hilltops and Water Lilies have blossomed in the pond outside. The green grass is waving in the wind beckoning the summer rain...

...and here I am working in my cubicle!


You helped me realize something...

Realised something very important after talking to you. Something to always keep in mind. It's not really photography that I love so much. It is this wonderful world and its people...

I should not forget that I am only seeking a medium through which I want to express myself. Before, it may have been drawing, and now it is photography. But one thing will remain unchanged... my love for life.

So, I will never make the medium an end in itself...
for the moment I make that mistake, I will be lost to myself, and to this world that I love so much...
I will never be like that guy in Lost in Translation...
I will never be lost in self-expression...

And I hope and pray that I will keep meeting people like you who will teach me new things, new ways to live life, and give me new inspiration that will help us rediscover ourselves...

Do not know how to thank you...

Hoping to meet you soon...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Times are A-Changing

(I had written this article for Education Times, Pune in 2003. Here it is with a few changes... but the facts are still outdated.)

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

-From Bob Dylan's 'The Times They are A-Changing'

Gone are the days when parents used to say, “My son is going to become an engineer or a doctor”. With
India’s population increasing at an alarming rate and given our “hyper-creativity”, competition has increased in all spheres of life. This increase in competition is reflected in all walks of life - from the task of getting school admissions to getting jobs in various sectors.

Until very recently, the ‘I-want-to-be-an-engineer/doctor dream’ was very popular. Consequently, there was a great demand for seats in professional colleges and engineering colleges have mushroomed everywhere. This in turn has led to a slew of engineers – each year Karnataka, which has about 108 engineering colleges, one of the highest in India, alone churns out thousands of engineers every year. But as Murphy’s Law would have suggested, there hasn’t been a similar increase in the number of jobs for engineers. Finally, it is a case of engineers, engineers everywhere but not enough jobs to go around. This is where the postgraduate courses come into the scene. Those who are eager to rise above the rest and increase their chances of acquiring a job with a postgra duate degree are eagerly taking up CAT and other management entrance exams with hopes of getting into reputed B-schools and coming out as much sought after management graduates. Some management graduates from IIM’s are being given jobs with salaries around 5 lakh per annum. The number of people taking CAT has increased from about 60,000 to 65,000 in 2000 to about 80,000 in the 2002. Courses in Management have become more sought after than ever. Call it the “CAT-race” if you want!

Similarly, the number of graduates writing GATE had increased tremendously from 2001 to 2002. Apparently, the slowdown in the software industry and the consequent decrease in availability of software jobs may also have contributed to this. Campus placements in engineering colleges had reached an all time low during the software slowdown prompting many students to consider studying further.

Another parallel trend is the increase in demand for graduates in fields such as Biotechnology. Until recently, many students did not consider studying B.Sc. a good option. However, the sudden growth in the Biotech industry has led to a spurt in demand for graduates of biotech and related disciplines. Similarly, the growth in entertainment industry, service industry, etc. has led to many new jobs being created. And with the advent of the information age, people have become more aware about the job opportunities in fields such as media, advertising, fashion etc. Now, at the click of a mouse one can know almost everything from what kind of institution offers what kind of courses to the chances of being recruited after finishing the course. Gone are those days when we had to order application forms for certain courses by post; now we can be simply download them from the web sites of respective institutes.

All these new waves of change are bringing in new opportunities and challenges. At the same time, we can say that many more tough choices are to be made by those in search of their dream job. And regarding competition, there maybe newer pastures but there are more cows than ever!