Oct 30, 2008

Why are we like this ...

Today I should say that I am a bit pissed off with Indians who are living in the US, and also the ones who have just visited US on their B1. We had lunch with some Americans and the topic was on US elections, and slowly one "Indian" started to compare things with Indian elections and he was like, in INDIA this is corrupt, that is non-sense, nothing is good, blah blah blah ... he did not stop there, he then praised US on all the petty things he has seen here. People are obeying for signals, they are organized, police are non corrupt etc etc ...

I too agree that there are some positives here and also lots of negatives, but an INDIAN, who was born and brought up in INDIA, did his schooling, college and even had his / her first job in INDIA, who have spent almost more than 2 decades in INDIA, don’t they know how our INDIAN system works ?? What is the need to expose the dirty side of our nation to an American individual who listen everything and then making a big laugh about our country ? This same INDIAN behaves well here, if he sees a "STOP" sign in a un-manned junction, even if there are no vehicles in the vicinity, he waits and then sees all the four crossing roads and then takes off his car, why that he can't do the same thing in INDIA ?, Why is that same INDIAN jumping signals in INDIA ?

We were discussing how organized was this US elections, then our fellow "Indian's" started saying, in INDIA we will hire people to come for campaign, we pay them a biriyani (as if that American knows what a biriyani is) and then bring them in lorrys to cheer the leader, we pay them some $1 or so (he is converting Indian money to dollars so that, the American will understand) and then ask them to cheer "Leader .. Long live ... " (this is also a literal translation of "Thalaivar Vaazhga ...". That American was stunned to hear that and said "That's the difference between a POOR country like INDIA", this particular statement really rubbed me a lot, it’s not that I am trying to be patriotic, but somehow I felt that we were washing "dirty linen in public".

I could just pity that gentleman who still thinks that INDIA is a poor country, nothing wrong in his notion, it is all because of our people who come here and paint such nasty picture about our country. INDIA minus POLITICS is HEAVEN to me, but still we have ample time to clear that shit, we educated young INDIAN youth's can bring in a big change to our country. If an American says INDIA is a poor country, I wouldn’t mind, but that statement was second by an INDIAN who should have said a big NO NO in the first place. Again, I am not a patriotic person, but I do believe that, if you say something wrong about your country, which has given you everything for the position you are in today, it is as similar as you talking non-sense about your mom.

I gave those two INDIAN's a very hot reply saying "If you and I were proper and if you and I would have voted properly, if you and I would have taken some initiatives to clean the shit, INDIA would not be like this", they both were silent and that American applauded this statement and he said, "Indians are much better than anyone in the world". We as a country have terrific respect across the GLOBE, so let’s try to safeguard that respect, and stop propagating the BAD things that are in our country. All countries have good and bad things to say, be proud that we are not like an IRAQ or a PALESTINE, where the citizens have nothing to be proud of their country. INDIA is truly a great country and let’s not have "INDIA" as a lunch table topic and make fun of it. I am sorry, I am not for that. I am PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN.

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Oct 27, 2008

Eventful Diwali @ New York ...

Ah, what a topsy turvy weekend I had, lots of ups and downs. Saturday was quite ok I would say, when compared to the events that happened on Sunday. Saturday I and my cousin went to a place called Flushing where our Lord Ganesh has found himself a very beautiful place. It’s a pretty good temple with nice carvings on the pillars. As expected there were only tamil speaking brahmins in that temple and for a moment I thought I was in Kabali Temple, Mylapore. There were Ganesha, Muruga, Maha Lakahsmi, Venkatachalapathy, Ragavendra, Durgai and Navagrahas ...

We did a small archanai there, I did it on the name of swamy, instead of calling each and every name in my family and doing, if you happen to miss one, you will feel bad for the rest of the day. We had a pretty good darshan and it was 2:30 in the noon and the bell started to ring, not in the temple though, it's inside my tummy. There was a wonderful hotel / prasada koodam in that temple, where they serve you all kinds of south indian food. The menu items were mouth watering and also we were damn hungry, so we ordered 2 plates of Idly, 1 Chilli Masala Dosa (podi dosa), 1 Rava Dosa, 1 Sambar vada, and 1 Curd vada, adding on to that was Pulikaachal saadham and Thair saadham. It's too much rite, but as expected I could not eat all that I have ordered so I have to waste :-(.

After a sumptuous lunch, we both took a very long walk in the streets of flushing, as it is the time between winter and fall, all the trees on both sides of the road were splashing magnificent colors, some were red, somewhere orange, somewhere yellow, somewhere pale green, wow, I would say is as "Nature at its best", unfortunately I don’t have a camera, so I could not snap them all, I tried clicking few in my Blackberry, but that did not come out well. Then weather started to play spoil sport, it started to rain at 3:30 and it was on till mid-night. We both have to curtail our walk and rush to the railway station to catch our train to New York. It was pretty warm and cozy inside the train.

We reached New York by 5:00, in spite of those heavy drizzle, myself and my cousin went around the shops in New York, I wanted to get my paati a pencil which writes as dark as a charcoal, and at last I could find one and got a dozen of that. Then we checked for couple of software’s I wanted, but unfortunately I could not find them. I checked out my favorite BOSE home theatre system and it was available at a very cheap rate than INDIA, but any how I cannot carry them back to INIDA, so I took a deep breath and left the section, but one day, I will own that beauty. We both came home by 6:30, and had our dinner by 7:00, then we packed all our things as I have to move to a different hotel tomorrow. The packing got over by 8:00, we then watched a movie and went to bed by 9:30

Here comes that eventful Sunday. We got up at 7:30 and checked-out from the hotel by 8:15 and came to Club Quarters where I have to stay till the end of this trip. The hotel folks verified my identity and took all our baggage’s inside the "Claim Area" and then told me that, the room will be ready by 3:00 PM, I was like "What????", and questioned them for such a long delay in getting me the room, that not so good looking lady gave me a sleepish reply saying "This is a weekend and lots of guests will get up late and checkout late, so there are no rooms available now", so for a white skin to sleep late and get up late, I and my cousin have to wait outside the lobby is it ?. I told them that it’s not possible to wait till that time, as it was just 8:30 in the morning. But all our cries went in vain, so we decided to go to my cousin's apartment at "Povonia New Port"

We reached his apartment around 9:30 and he started to watch EPL and I started to call all my folks at Chennai and wish them a "Happy Diwali". His roommates made Maggi and I joined the party, by 11:30 I took bath and my cousin wanted to go to saloon to have a haircut, so we both went to a nearby mall called "Macy's". I somehow managed to get majority of things that I intended to buy and that list is truly private :-). By 3:00 PM we came back to his place and he took his bath, still we have not had our lunch, that morning maggi got settled well and I was not feeling hungry. By 4:00 we went to a nearby grocery shop and took few vegetables and yogurt's and we headed back to New York.

Here comes another interesting part, myself and my cousin boarded a train to a place called "33rd Street", from there we have to take a deviation and go to "51st Street", S was not sure of which train would go to 51st street and hence he was thinking hard to find a train. A train came to the station and S was sure that it will go to "51st Street", but after we got in, he checked the map and found out that it will not go. We both had ample bags in our hands and hence getting up and walking out of the train could not be done that easily, the bags weighed almost 6 kgs. When S told me that this train will not go, I took off from my seat and came out of the train, S was picking his bags, and he was a second delayed in doing that, the train's automatic doors closed :-(

It’s not like our place where you can board a running train, all the doors were closed and the train took off like a bullet, S waived me in action to stay where I am. It is a train which runs underground, so there is virtually no communication, as all your cell phone signals are dead. This being a weekend, the frequency of trains are one in 30 minutes, I was for a moment thought that I am gone, then waited patiently in the place where I waived S a tata. S came back to the same station in 15 mins and the beauty is, the train which we boarded initially will go to our destination, so we waited for the same train to come and reached New York around 6:30.

Here comes the biggest surprise. We both came to Club Quarters and then officially checked-in. The manager in charge threw a big bomb on me saying that my cousin cannot stay with me even though it is a double bed room. It took a while for me to get out of that shock, both of us were terribly upset and I am the one totally upset. All those vegetables and eatable will go waste if S is not going to stay with me, coz we have procured a lot. We thought for a while and then I decided to go and talk to the manager again on this. She then gave me a suggestion, she asked us to take a DELUX room instead of a Double room, and we have to adjust in that "Queen Size" bed, wowww, what else we need, that sounded like a great idea and we accepted to shift our rooms to a "Deluxe" one.

Both S and I were happy, S wanted to try out the Gym here, so I asked him to use to its fullest. This room has oven, refrigerator and other good amenities which were missing in my previous hotel. We both made dinner and had a tummy full meal. I called up home and wished paati, appa and athai a happy diwali and verified my accounts to ensure that I am spending well within my allocated budget, and by 10:30 I hit my sack and went to sleep. It was one unforgettable diwali in the US

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Oct 25, 2008

Manhattan Nights ...

One week got over in New York. I wish my entire 5 week tenure comes to an end very soon. Temperature is dipping down day by day and it’s getting very difficult to manage. Though I claim and convince myself that I am eating homemade food daily (Oh ya, I got an electric rice cooker), but all I eat is only podi rice and some mix or the other and absolutely no liquid food, as a result, the main "output" window is almost closed :-(, its behaving like Revathi in "Devar Magan" (Verum, kaathu thaanga varudhu ...). Though I have travelled many times to the US, this is the first time for me at this beautiful city "Manhattan". Nights in Manhattan are simply awesome and colorful. I don’t have a camera to shoot those snaps and put it here, so I will see if I could make those scenes open up in your memory, by my writing ...

I stay very close to "Times Square" which is at a stone throw distance, yesterday I took a walk along the streets on New York, those lightings, those big LCD display screens which is flashing some great color rich images and there is one giant screen which plays some rock band shows, the city is full of lights and music all thru the night. People just don't mind about the temperature and just enjoy themselves with the comfort of some thick jackets. Couples just don’t mind about anything, they assume as if they are the only souls in this planet and get lost in their smooching exercise. The only bad thing about this place is the nasty traffic jam, however I try my level best from not thinking about the HELL where I live (I mean Bangalore), these traffic jams reminds me of that dead city or rather "City of Dead".

There is a small pond in the center of Manhattan where there are lovely swans and ducks floating in those freezing waters. They look simply cute and adorable with their white feathers. If the same pond would have been in INDIA, what would have happened is this, our extremely emotional people will start feeding those swans and ducks, on seeing that there will be a small circle of shops which will sell the "food" items to its customers, so that they can feed the swans, our people will make sure that they contaminate that water and force all those ducks and swans to come out, and moment they are out of that pond water, they will be boiling in one of the kitchens as "Swan Sambar". Here people allow the swans to be in their own space and just enjoy "looking" at it.

I always go gaagaa over the babies in the US, read properly, I said "babies" and not "babes" thought the truth applies for both terms ;-). Lot of couples take their new born kids in perambulators along with them, that too in this cold weather, all you could see inside that perambulators are two dark "grapes", I mean their eyes, rest of the items are totally wrapped and they are busy sucking their "poop-cee", how chweet you know, I am tempted to the core in going to them and squeezing their chubby cheeks as long as I can, but if I need to think of me being put behind the bars for "Child Harassment", I know laws here are so stringent and nobody accepts bribe too, why taking chances ?, so I tend to control myself. But those babies are adorable.

Planning to explore some more places in Manhattan this week and will blog here if I found something really interesting. Just 3 more weeks to go, I will be flying back to my great INDIA.


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Balance ...

Sanjay and his wife are one amongst the thousands of working couple in the IT industry, Sanjay is a Product Manager in a leading consulting firm and Sanjana is a Project Manager is a leading product company. Time sharing and time slicing are the two key agendas which always comes when they meet, both are so busy in their own lives, as they get to meet only at the coffee table that too once or twice a week, somehow they managed to have a kid, Pappu, who is 5 years old. Pappu has been given all that he has asked in his life and also things that he has not asked for. Both Sanjay and Sanjana tell themselves that they are working hard to give a secured life to pappu ...

Pappu is under the care of a maid, who works for "money" and who will be taking care of him on his daily routines. Pappu will get a chance to see his parents once a week, if he is too lucky. He used to wonder how Tarun's dad and mom are always with him and why is his dad and mom not to be seen at home, his little brain could not dig too much and find a reason for that, he knows "that is what it is". Sanjay used to come home only by 9:00 PM or 10:00 PM, quickly takes a shower and goes to his room and start taking his daily conference calls, Sanjana works in shifts, so most of the days either she will be sleeping in the day time or will be out of home in the night for work.

Pappu was waiting to talk to his dad and mom for almost a month now, but somehow he could not find them together, he wrote a letter to his dad and then kept it on his table saying "Daddy, I want to talk to you and tell you something, I wish you were here with me today". Poor chap does not know how to send an email and also he does not know that his dad does see only emails and nothing other than that. Days rolled on to weeks and Pappu was waiting for a reply from his dad. After a long wait, he wrote a similar letter to his mom and kept it in her handbag, again poor Pappu did not know that his mom does checks only her laptop bag and hardly uses her hand-bag.

Pappu got used to miss his dad and mom and he almost forgot that he needs to talk to them, the only time Sanjay and Sanjana visit Pappu's room is, when Pappu is sleeping. One fine day, Pappu got his dad's cell phone number, and dialed him, unfortunately Sanjay was in a meeting and hence he cut the call, unknowingly Pappu called him up again and again and since the number in the cell phone flashed "Home calling ..." Sanjay picked it up wondering who could call him from home, on the other end it was Pappu, and without even listening to what he is about to say, Sanjay replied "I am very busy dear, papa will come home and talk to you", and cut the line.

Pappu was waiting for his dad to full-fill his promise, but unfortunately Sanjay did not the time to meet Pappu. Sanjana had to go to Delhi for a conference and hence she left to Delhi one fine morning, leaving just a wet kiss on Pappu's forehead. Sanjay too had a meeting in Mumbai and he too had to rush to the airport early, so he came to Pappu's room and gave one more kiss on Pappu's cheeks and went off in a flash. It’s the maid who is now the in charge of the house. She called up some of her friends for a "party" and she was enjoying with all the other oldies in the backyard. Pappu was starving like anything and noticing that there is no one at home he decided to make his own corn flakes.

He did not know how to operate the oven, nor he has practice to switch on the gas stove, since it’s an auto-ignition, he managed to lit the fire and took a milk packet out, started to pour it into a vessel and kept it on the burning stove, poor kid did not know when to take it off, so within moments when all the milk in that container started to bubble out, he got panicked and tried to take that hot vessel out with his bare hand, hot milk splashed all over his body and face and Pappu was screaming with pain, this being a festive season of Diwali, with the noise of those occasional cracker bursts, his scream went un-noticed. Maid returned home after an hour just to witness the horrifying scene of Pappu lying in a stream of blood and all his top layer skin peeled off.

Within minutes both Sanjana and Sanjay's cell phone rang and luckily they were about to board their flights, moment they heard this news, they both rushed home. In a hurry both forgot to note down the name of the hospital where they have taken Pappu for treatment, Sanjay rushed to his room to pick the maid's cell phone number, and at that point in time, he saw the letter written by Pappu to him, the letters in that letter appeared to be blurred because of the accumulation of tears in his eye lids, he for a moment kicked him hard on his thy and rushed to Sanjana's room, where she too happened to see a similar letter in her hand bag, both of them felt the pain of not taking enough care of Pappu. Somehow they figured the hospital and rushed in.

Group of doctors were attending poor Pappu who was moaning "Daddy, I want to talk to you ... Mummy I want to talk to you ..." the furious doctor screamed on top of his throat and asked who are Pappu's parents, with a sense of fear and embarrassment both of them raised their hands, only to get a severe dose from the doctor, for leading a kid to such grievous burn injury. He told them that it’s a second degree burn and this cannot be cured without a plastic surgery, money is not at all an issue to them now, all they want is to get their Pappu back in shape. Sanjay wrote a blank cheque and put that on the doctor's feet and begged "Please save my son", the doc too knows that this is an emotional outburst. He gave him a not so comforting reply "I will try my best and leave the rest to GOD".

The doctors operated on Pappu and he was stated out of danger. After nearly three days of waiting outside the ICU, both Sanjay and Sanjana got their chance to meet Pappu. Pappu was extremely delighter to see his parents together and the first thing he asked them was "Oh, your offices are leave today is it?", that question was more like they getting 1000 whip beats at a time, both of them hugged Pappu and cried buckets, Pappu with all his innocence said "Happy Diwali Mom, Happy Diwali Dad ...". Running a race behind money is a never ending race, you cannot reach your destination if money is your target. Life is made up of so many beautiful things and money does not get a place in that list. A balance should always be there in life, and at any point in time, our Personal life should take more precedence than our Professional life, Job is just a part of our day, but family is the one thing which makes a "day".

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Oct 22, 2008

My Dear Tweedy ...

Rahul was so passionate about pets, anything with four legs are eligible to be his pet. He always wanted a small Labrador and was constantly reminding his mom about that and after a lot of discussion and promises from Rahul, his mom decided to get him a Labrador. They searched on the internet and at last they caught a vendor who supplied pure original quality Labrador breeds. The price was at around 6000 bucks for that and before paying the amount to the vendor, Rahul's dad reiterated the promise that he will be getting first rank this year. Rahul's dream came true and today he is a proud owner of a cute little cream Labrador...

The next thing that anybody would do once they get their pet is to name it, Rahul and his entire family did a brain storming session and at last he named him "Tweedy", Rahul took immense care of that pup and his parents were so proud that he is having the sense of responsibility which is very good as he grows up. He gets up early morning and then takes that pup in his palms for a daily walk, as days went on, Tweedy too grew up and she is now at the stage where all puppies will get naughty. Tweedy goes to Rahul's room and then bites most of his notebooks and pants and shirts, but Rahul does not mind much about that and will never punish Tweedy for that.

He showered all his love and affection on that dog and never wanted to miss him, but as a threat to that, his summer holidays got over and he has to go to school, Rahul did not have the mind to go to school daily in the morning, as he need to miss Tweedy at least for 8 hours in a day, but after a huge struggle, his mom convinced him and promised him that she will take care of his pup very well. Rahul used to rush from school to take care of his dog and no other thought would be in his mind other than that, so the problem of Rahul going to play somewhere after school got stopped for once and his mother was very much relieved. He used to complete his homework well in advance to spend more time with Tweedy, to him Tweedy is his world.

Fate always throws surprises at everyone, similarly it threw a big shock to Rahul one day, in the form of his loving Tweedy dying in a freak accident, his mom got so nervous and she feared of how Rahul will digest this shocking news, as Tweedy is his world. Rahul had exams that time, so he could not spend any time with his dog, as he was busy in preparing. That fateful day, when Rahul came in, his mom gathered all her strength and courage and told him in a husky voice, "Rahul, our Tweedy died today morning da", and she was expecting something very dramatic to happen, but in contrast Rahul said, "Ah, that’s sad, anyway it’s ok, don’t worry, we can manage". This reply was something which she does not expect from Rahul and immediately she called up Rahul's dad and told him that he took it so lightly.

Rahuls exams got over one Friday and he came home running in search of Tweedy, he asked his mom, "Mom where is tweedy mom ?", his mom got confused and she told him, "That day I told you naa, our Tweedy died and you also said ok, we can manage", on hearing that Rahul rolled on the floor and started crying like mad, and his mom was totally shocked to see such a behavior from Rahul after 4 days. She somehow stopped his crying and asked him, "Why are you crying today Rahul, when I told you the other day that Tweedy is dead, why did you not react like this ?"

Rahul wiped his tears and said in a rough voice, "I heard it as daddy"

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Oct 20, 2008

New York Nagaram ...

After a very long travel, I came to NY on the 18th of this month. I came to Dubai and then to NY. I had an Ecuador blonde sitting next to me, and we had a pretty good chat for a long time, we exchanged the cultural differences between India and Ecuador, and surprisingly our marriage system is quite similar to theirs and she is also looking out for a good guy, I think if I too was from Ecuador, she would have chosen me, coz she said, she like me so much and I am very funny. We know how to correct a figure naa ;-)) ...

New York is literally freezing and luckily I have brought enough thick clothing to protect me from this cold. My cousin is staying in New Jersey, so I have a company here. I have requested him to move into my hotel as long as I am here, so he is moving in tomorrow with all amenities. The hotel room that I am staying here does not have anything other than cot and bed, good at least they have a TV. The rate for this hotel is very high as it is very near to Times Square and NASDAQ. I walked around Manhattan and figured out where my office is, it’s pretty close by but the only thing is I have to walk for 10 minutes in this cold climate.

I do feel terribly home sick and I know it will be there for a week, but once my cousin moves in with me, I should be feeling alright. I have already started my countdown to come back to INDIA, since it’s only for 4 weeks, I think time will just fly. I don’t have any great shopping plans as such, but at the same time I don’t have any plans to save these dollars as well, I will simply enjoy and come back. On the professional front I want the organized trainings to happen properly and I get the knowledge that I intended to learn from here, all certain done, that is my top priority.

I am still under jet lag, I just wanted to sleep well tonight so that I can be fit when I get to work tomorrow. Will keep you all posted with some interesting updates during this trip.


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Oct 17, 2008

GOD is Great ...


Its a great day in the history of Indian cricket, this is the first time an Indian is on top of the world, yes, our demi-god Sachin is the leading run getter in the world of test cricket. His genius is something we just cannot discuss or write about, you have to feel that mesmerism. I am once of the truly obssed fan of Sachin and I will not utter a work against that GOD's game or caliber. He has once again proved the entire world that he still has some good cricket left in him. GOD Bless the God and let him give all the strength and energy to entertain us for many more years to come. Today is a memorable day for me in my life.

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"JITTER" WAVES ...

I have been closely monitoring the ripple created by JET Airways by sacking their employees, it’s not only for the fact that we get a chance to see all those lovely looking air hostess in a single frame, but also for the fact that the tactic Malya and Naresh adapted in diverting the media attention from talking about their "East meeting the West" alliance, to me this was one of the best ever business tantra I have come across. There were times when Malya and Naresh Goyal did not want to see each other even by mistake, but today they both hug each other in front of the limelight, for a moment I thot even they two were bitten by that "Political Stunt" bug...

Actually this alliance has more or less created a MONOPOLY in the Indian "private aviation" sector, Its now just one airline, whether you like it or not, you have to choose only that if you prefer to fly on a private airline with some attractive chicks serving you drinks, or else you have to fall back on our every scary Indian airlines, where some 60 plus aged air hostess will narrate you the in-flight instructions like this "thhherrrrr aaarreee tttwwwooo eexxxiitttssss iiinnnn thhhheee ffffrrroonnntttt aaaannndddd bbbbaaaccckkk sssiiiddee ooffff theeee aaiiirrrkrrrrraaafffttt" with a shiver, at times I used to wonder whether she will be alive or dead before she completes those narration, most of the air hostess in Indian airlines will by some way remind your granny or great granny.

Coming back to the saga of "firing and hiring", moment the media started speculating that this will lead to a "monopolistic" competition and before that reached the ears of our "Aviation" ministry, Naresh sparked this "turbulent" news and all the sacked employees staged a teary protest outside the airport, it was a feast for the media, all of a sudden some good looking steward's and air hostess have become guests to "News channels" and they sounded too amateur when it comes to sitting in front of the camera, in fact one air hostess was applying her lip stick, when the camera started rolling and in turn she gave a teary interview about she being sacked.

Just because "Aviation Sector" comes under the central government, it still does not mean it’s a "government company", it’s a private sector and the management has got all rights to hire and fire people, I felt that the JET employees have gone just a bit too far, the same kind of thing can never happen in our IT industry. It’s actually sad to see those good looking girls frying themselves under the hot sun and screaming from their bottom of the throat saying "WE WANT JUSTICE, WE WANT JUSTICE", but unfortunately my LCD's audio output was not that clear and for a moment I was hearing "WE WANT JUST KISS, WE WANT JUST KISS", and I was shocked to see that there were no volunteers to kiss those good looking girls. ;-)

Ah, as expected Naresh Goyal succumbed to the pressure when the media showed mathematics of how much they would save if they sack these low paid employees, and as a typical CEO he too was forced to say that his employees were his "Extended Family" and he cannot seem them in pain, blah, blah, blah. If they are his extended family, oh man, he has got some gorgeous daughters ;-). Anyways the JITTER WAVES created by Naresh is now ok and it’s back to its BETTER WAYS.


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Oct 14, 2008

Cab Ride, I' ll Never Forget ...

This is one short story sent to me as an email forward by my friend Saraswathi, It was simply out of the world and hence thought of putting it on my blog. This piece of article is not my view or idea, this originally belongs to Kent Nerburn and hence publication of this information in this post should not attract any legal or patent related issues, as I confirm and swear that this is not my work, I am putting it here just for the sense of sharing the information to my readers. I thank my friend Saraswathi for forwarding this masterpiece...

"I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life…"


Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.

It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.

What I didn't realize was that it was also a ministry.

Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep.

But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.

Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute", answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

"It's nothing", I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy", she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

"I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.

"Nothing," I said.

"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers".

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

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Oct 4, 2008

He Mail, She Mail, E-Mail ...

Sindhu decided to say NO to that guy, even though he had all the matching qualifications sindhu decided the other way. Raghu was one proposed alliance to Sindhu, he works in the US and earns a handsome ransom. Both of them liked each other even before seeing in person, they used to chat frequently in messengers and have long telephonic chats, things were fine till Sindhu received that anonymous email which had loads of complaints about Raghu, though she did not mind those emails seriously initially, but as those emails keep coming she decided the other way, she does not want to take a chance in her life on such things ...

Raghu on the other side was kept in dark, Sindhu slowly avoided talking, emailing him, even if Raghu calls her up she used to fake a silly reason and cut the call, Raghu too is smart enough to understand that something is fishy. One fine evening he called her up and as expected she did not pick his call, so he sms'd her saying, "I wanted to meet you, if you have time", she too decided to close this off for the one last time, since both of them were in the US and that too in the same city, New York, it wasn't a big deal in meeting him in person. Sindhu sms'd him saying, they can meet at 5 in the evening.

They met in one of the famous meeting point in NY, Starbucks coffee shop. Raghu seem to be cheerful and the same cheer was missing in Sindhu's face, Raghu asked her a straight forward question, "What's your problem Sindhu, you seem to be confused and changed?", Sindhu did not know how to open the topic and was sweating in that 15 degree temperature. Raghu asked her to relax and requested her to feel free to share her thoughts which are bothering her. Sindhu was a bundle of emotions at this point, she asked herself 100s of questions, "Is this a valid reason to reject a guy whom you like so much ?", "What will he think of me if I reject him over the reason of those anonymous emails?", "Am I really doing the right thing here?".

The hot cup of mocha was served on their table and a sip of that really made a world of good to Sindhu. She just did not want to be there anymore at the same time she wanted to tell Raghu that she is not interested to continue any further. Raghu too could not withstand this silence, he decided to open the issue, "So you are confused about the emails, am I right ?", Sindhu was shell shocked and could not sense who come he would have known all that?. Sindhu gulped a bit of saliva and nodded her head in a way of saying "yes". Raghu asked her, "So what have you decided ? Do you believe in that ?", Sindhu was speech less, but she broke her silence and asked Raghu, "How can somebody not believe those emails, it’s my life."

Raghu said, "If I were you, I would care a damn about that, I dunno how can someone believe all those, I thought you are a matured female", Sindhu decided to keep quite rather responding to that question. Raghu knew that she needs his support and affection at this point in time, he took out all the email printouts he got from Sindhu's ex-boyfriend, which had some snaps Sindhu took with him, Sindhu was shocked to see those snaps which she took with Ravi, her ex-boy friend, her eye lids gave way for those tears to roll out, Raghu went her side and said into her ears, "I believe in person than papers, I don’t want to know anything about your bitter past, I like you based on your present and not on your past"

Sindhu thought how foolish she can be, how can she believe those anonymous email which does not have any evidence, she just could not say anything other than tears and comfortably placed herself on Raghu's shoulder and cried buckets, It took Raghu, a kiss on her forehead to bring her back to her senses and their started a new relationship, a new hope, a new life for Sindhu.

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Oct 3, 2008

Frust"Ration" Shop ...

After nearly 18 years I happen to visit the nearby ration shop to buy ration for this month, I will explain you the reason of why an "upper middle-class" family needs to go to a ration at the end of this post. I used to go to this place very regularly when I was in college, though 18 years have passed by, this ration shop has not changed even a bit. Still that evil billing guy is doing his duty of billing with the same intensity of evil. The building has not changed even a bit, with the addition of few more cracks on the wall. My experience of getting Rice, Palm oil and few grains turned out to be a cinematic experience...

I went there by 10:00 and with absolutely no experience in standing in a queue for a long time, I chose to stand a bit deviated from the main queue by excusing myself from those huge mass of ladies, I could see everyone standing in that ration shop looking me differently, later I realized that my Blackberry is the center of attraction there, so I kept it back into my holster and continued to give a blank stare on the floor, time crawled to 10:30 and I noticed that most of the people who were standing behind me have already gone ahead of me. I somehow managed to find a slot in the queue and by 11:15 I reached the billing spot. The same evil guy who used to threaten me 18 years back, still with the same ferocity barked at me "Enna venum sollu", I whispered "Rice 10KG, Palm oil, Thur Dhal and Keroscene".

He asked my ration card and the moment he saw the color of my ration card he threw that on my face screaming "Idhu adutha counter, kannu irruku la, number paarthu nikka maatta?", it took a while for me to get over that insult and I seriously don't know which queue to stand, as there were no signs or board which would indicate my queue, I yelled back at him "Endha counter la nikkanum nu enakku enna josiyamaa teriyum, enga yaa poturuka en queue idhu thaan nu ?", the fearing college boy is no more in me, this is a 31 year old "Performance Architect". I think he has not got back a furious reply from anyone for years, he stood up from his chari and closed all his bill book and went off, saying, he is not ready to bill anymore, as I have insulted him.

The entire gang standing behind me looked at me as if I did a big crime, I yelled back at him "Yov, ippo enakku bill podaati, ration officer kitta complaint panniduven, mariyaadhayaa podu". He came out of the room and looked at me like "Nambiyaar", I retaliated with a look like "Rajinikanth" ;-). He took me to a counter where they have pasted a small piece of paper which says "Mylapore - 3" and asked me if I am educated enough to read that. I gave him back by saying I am educated enough reading that, but the size of the board is more like "Kosu kusu vitta size la irukku", there was a roar of laughter in the ration shop including the guy who is sitting inside the "3" counter.

After this drama, I stood in the new queue, which is relatively empty. I asked him the same list of items and he prepared the bill, and finally he asked me 88.35, I was for a moment baffled after hearing that amount and produced him a 100 rupee note, he told me that he has no change and he asked me to tender the exact fare, I told him that I don't have change, he then asked me to wait till he gets the change and asked me to stand aside, I for a moment felt the needless use of all my credit cards, debit cards, cheque books etc etc, none can pay me that 88.35 rupee bill. I stood next to an electric meter which is well protected from shock by multiple layers of spider webs and there was an ugly big lizard which has its tounge stick out to catch some insect :-(

After nearly 20 minutes of waiting, the guy gave me the change of 12.50 paise, he has swallowed 15 paise by then. I proceeded to the next half of the building where they deliver the goods, I gave him my bill which read 10kg Rice, he pinned my bill in that traditional bill hook which has been the same way for 18 years now. It has a sharp needle such to a wooden plank and its edges have gone blunt. The guy placed a un-marked weight on the right hand side and poured a tin of rice on the left hand side, I asked him what is the metric of that iron weight, he gave me a nasty stare and told me "I don’t know", that answer really pissed me off and the "Anniyan" inside me came out, I shouted back at him asking "Weight evalo nu teriyaama thaan nee velai pannariyaa ?, Idhu enakku 5 kg maadhiri irukku, nee enna daa naa 10kg nu sollara, naa unna eppadi nambaradhu ?"

This argument brought back that old evil billing guy and he asked me "Enna prechana pannarathuku kadaiku vandhurukiyaa, unna thooki veliya potuduven, ozhungaa kdukaradha vaangikitu po, illaati avalothaan mavane", I told myself that he is digging his own grave, "Nee veliya thooki podarathuku naa enna un pinju pona bill book nu nenachiyaa, magane mela kai vechu paaru, apporam iruku di unakku kutcheri", usually I raise my voice when it comes to "fighting" which I am not used to very often, suddenly the in charge of that ration shop came to me and then inquired what happened, I explained him the sequence of the events and he gave his employees a nice dose and he himself gave me the things I wanted.

I warned that billing guy saying "Innoru vaati customer kitta ippadi karaaraa pesina, apporam un velai ku naa guarantee illa di, paarthu nadandhuka" even though I don’t have any contacts in the govt sector and I cannot do anything from my purview, I gave him this "udhaar" and came off running to my house, I got scared that he might gather some gundas and attack me :-)))))), see how bold I am ;-)


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Oct 2, 2008

"Bomb"ay ...

The entire city was in total pandemonium, there were blood and flesh smell all over that market place, blown out flesh pieces were thrown everywhere like a rotten tomato, people where running here and there in search of their beloved ones, there were families who were banging their head on the corpse of their loved ones, Tanvir is too young to sense the gravity of the situation, he stood smiling with a small car toy on his hand, and was happy in rolling its wheels over his left hand "Vroom ... Vroom ... Vrrrrrooommmm ...." and all in front of the body of his mother, who was torn apart in that bomb blast that shook the city ...

Media persons thronged the market to feast its auidence with those gory images of blood stains and bodies which were lying all over the market. Tanvir is still standing in front of his mom's body with a hope that his mom will get up after sleep, to him death is nothing but sleep, but little he knew that his mom has slept for once. When people around him were crying for help, a little puppy drew his attention, it got stuck inside a shop where the bomb actually went off, amidst of those hot and fuming rumbles, this little pup was alive and was barking for help, Tanivr ran towards it and did his level best to save that little one, the tongue of those hot flame kissed tanvir's hand many times, but he was pretty determined to save that little one, and at last he dragged that puppy out of that rubble and took him to his arms.

He was a bit too late in rescuing that little puppy and as a result his mom's body was moved away and he has no clue where she went, he thought that his mom would have got up from sleep and has gone home. The hurdle of a motherless child starts here, he waited in a bus stop to go to his place and once his bus came he tried boarding in, immedieatly the conductor chucked him out of the bus and pushed him on the road saying that animals are not allowed inside the bus, he cannot show his anger to the man who slapped him a 500 rupee note for a Rs 2 ticket, instead he showed it on Tanvir, both Tanvir and his little pup were on the mud, Tanvir helped his little pet to dust off the sand from his body and he decided to walk.

He reached his village and still could not understand the reason why there is a big crowd in front of his house, he decided not to go to his house and hence he took shelter inside a nearby mango grove, he has his friend Rohan there, who always feeds him with a mango whenever he goes there, Rohan is the landlord of that mango grove, he was shocked to see Tanvir walking all alone when there was a bomb blast in the city, he rushed to Tanvir and asked him the reason for he coming all alone, Tanvir narrated the scene without missing the innocence, Rohan understood the fact that his mom his no more, he took Tanvir to his arms and decided to have him forever, both Tanvir and his little puppy got a shelter.

Next day the city was calm and people have not got out of the fear of the bomb blasts, the roads were empty, little Tanvir and his newly named "pintu" were on the roads, happily playing. Tanvir saw a colorful bag which had a "Teddy Bear" image printed on it with flashy colors, he happily took that with him and he saw that there was a alarm clock ticking inside it, he showed "pintu" the new "GIFT" he got and he took the same to his mango grove, there goes off a loud thundering sound and a flash of light ...

With the text "Lets stop terrorism, lets spare those innocent Tanvir's" flashing on the screen, the movie got over. Gulbar got a call on his cell phone and his son screamed at the other end saying, "Dad, I just now found a colorful bag which has got a alarm clock in it, you come home I will show that to you" followed by a thundering sound, "terrorist" Gulbar who placed that cover bomb in a nearby locality before coming to the theatre has blasted and the next call was from his boss who congratulated him for his successfully completing the plan ... Gulbar's scream and cry was more than the thundering sound of the bomb.


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Oct 1, 2008

Soumya is No more ...

Headlines today has lost one of its treasure, Soumya Viswanathan. She is one such journalist who produces news with such intensity and liveliness, she is one of the young news producers at Headlines Today who is so committed and dedicated to her work. I have been following Headlines Today news channel for almost half a decade now and off late the quality of their news have improved to a greater extent and it would'nt have been possible without such great journalists like Soumya Viswanathan ...

Soumya was shot dead while she was driving her car back home at around 3:40 AM in the morning. Initially this was registered as a case of road accident, but the post-mortem report revealed the fact that she had a "bullet" which was piercing her right skull. Not even in the wildest of dreams one could have imagined such a fatal end for one of the most loving human being in the Headlines Today news room. The interviews given by her colleagues were heartening and they way Avanthika Singh and Nida Khan presented it today morning was quite evident with the fact that, they felt it as their personal loss and not just a colleague to all of them.

I pray for her soul to rest in peace and GOD has plucked that wonderful flower from earth and planted it in his garden, though she is not with us today, her good work and the mark she has left in the field of journalism would always remain forever with us.

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