Thursday, August 28, 2008

All for a Car

"Boss, I want a car"
"What?
"Yes. I want a car"

The boss thought for a moment. Ravi was asking for a car. Maybe he needed one. He could give him one for an hour or so.

The boss was the owner of the agency, which dealt in dealing with distribution of FMCG products of a big company and was a person who had a soft corner for his employees, something which is rare in such type of work.

Ravi was a small time computer operator earning Rs 5000 a month at the agency. The job involved sitting in front of a computer in an air conditioned room and punching orders and preparing the bills on the company software.

But the demand for a car was a bit shocking. No employee ever asked him for a car.

"Why do you need a car?"
"Boss. I am getting married"
"Good. Congratulations"
"Thank you boss."
"So do you ..."
"Sir, I have told my to be father in law that I earn 35000 a month and have my own car. I'll be engaged soon. He will be visiting me tomorrow"
"What ... you told lies. I could have given you my car for an hour or two, but now ..."
"Sir, I don't want it for an hour or two. Please get me a car"
"think about it ... Can you afford it?"
"Sir, you can take loan in your name and deduct money from my salary."
"Again I say ... Can you afford it?"
"But you can deduct ... Also I will also get a substantial money from my father in law in dowry ... So I can afford"
"NO way. You have gone crazy"
"You are not giving me a car"
"No."
"OK. I am quitting"

With this Ravi quit his job, with nowhere to go and unsure of how he will meet his next month's expenses, leave alone a car ... and also worrying about how he will face his to-be-fiancée's father who would be checking if the car is in his name!

(Based upon a true story at one of the FMCG distributor's place @ Jodhpur)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The man who didn't want his son to join IIT

He glanced at me with a kind of devilish look and an evil smile. His looks reminded me of someone. I couldn't recollect. After few minutes it was a kind of eureka moment when I thought - Doesn't he look like that famous villain in Hindi movies ?

After initial formalities we headed for the market to sell all the usual stuff my company produced. This was a routine job, at least during my training period. Few hours in the market in a relatively humid day at a small town in Rajasthan called Pali left us tired. It was the time to unwind with some tea and non-business gupshup.

During the course of discussion, I came to know that his son (Let us call him Akash) got some 93 percent marks in SSC in CBSE board. He wanted to go to IIT and for that he needed to go to Kota for preparations. But that man was not keen on him leaving the town. He was of the opinion that he would not come back to Pali as he would have to go to Bangalore for job as most of them did. Hence he had decided his son should do CA. But his son had taken science.

Meanwhile, the local Sales Officer, under whom I was getting trained came in. After usual stuff like market report we decided to take a 15 minute beer break and have a brief chit chat meanwhile. Invariably, the topic veered around the distributor and his son. I learned that Akash's mother had called him few times so that his dad could be convinced that he goes and prepared for IIT, but he was reluctant. In fact Akash was so brilliant that he had secured first rank in Rajasthan for admission to Bansal Coaching Classes at Kota. But his dad had not allowed him to go. Even repeated calls from the institute did not help. Later on his mother's attempt at trying to convince were greeted by threats of a talaaq. His neighbors tried to convince him but in vain. his brother tried to convince him but soon they both stopped talking. At back of his mind was that his brother in law had gone to USA and if Akash does so, he too will go away sooner or later. Hence he had decided that he would not let Akash go away.

Meanwhile, we returned back to the shop where his son had also come. Apparently he wanted to buy a lab coat for chemistry practicals that were needed for tomorrows classes. His father refused and gave him some other work. He went to do that, reluctantly and his suffocation was written all over the face.

The officer accompanying me started talking about general stuff and the conversation veered to career guidance kind of stuff. Being an engineer and an MBA, I was trying to give him some gyaan on opportunities available closer home. I mentioned about job opportunities in Delhi and Mumbai which were an overnight journey from that place and much closer if we considered the Jodhpur airport which wasn't too far away. Closer home, it would have been Jaipur or Ahmedabad, which were expected to give good opportunities, although deep inside me I was feeling that that useless idiot cannot think of his own child's well being. This was followed by a long monologue on software industry, what it does, how it will grow, why it is not just Bangalore and all. When it was not yielding any result I showed optimism in software industry setting footprints in Rajasthan as government will sooner or later realize the importance of it. So maybe two or three years down the line we could expect something in this direction.

But that man remained adamant and refused to budge from his position. Even an attempt to show that there was hardly any scope in some godforsaken place like Pali was met with jeers

I was thinking that isn't it often that the so called extremely selfless thing like parenting becomes a selfish thing and despite having good intentions, often much harm is done. At one level that man, I thought treated the whole thing as a business and something that should give an high ROI. He was instrumental. Expecting is not a bad thing, but often that expectation turns into a favor which need to be returned, and as a result of which the happiness of the person may be screwed, and he often becomes just a slave of that 'gratitude'. I thing that the whole thing is like the movie The Truman Show, where the creator of the 'Show' believed that he gave Truman who an unwanted baby, a life and he had a right to shoot a 24 hour long TV show on his life, with his unaware of the fact that every motion of him was captured on camera and telecast live throughout the world. And this, the creator believed was nothing against individual freedom or human rights or anything.

Meanwhile, it was getting late and it was time to catch my bus. I left after a good bye and a handshake, but his devilish glance was as it was few hours ago, but now I perceived to be much more devilish.

___

(Above is a true incident that I experienced today)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Booked

"Whenever I read a good book, I get impressed with my ignorance"

I couldn't find the source of this quote, but I heard it in class 12, wherein my physics tuition teacher Mr. Vishal Pandya (Who was a kind of database in quotes!) once had this one in one of his notes, which invariably started with few quotes

Of late, I have realized a very high degree of correlation between Jhandta Index (Henceforth referred to as J) existing in life and book I am reading if any. If I am reading some book at some point of time, J reduces significantly (Say, to a vlue J/2, average case) ; and if the book is significantly good then it reduces to a very low level (Say, J/4).

I have realized that in last 4 weeks (this includes the next week also), I have read 5 extremely different works, quite a rare feat in terms of quantity and diversity of books read!

The most recent book I have read is some book by some IIMB guy about some fictional experience during life @ IIMB, which had everything in it - sutta, daaru, kudi etc. and all such stuff in 'meeee too' kind of books. (This one had Marijuana as the principal ingredient though) In fact, having read works like Joker in the Pack and Mediocre but Arrogant which seemed half hearted attempt at cloning Five Point Someone and Snapshots from the Hell, I did the same mistake again and brought this marijuana loaded book, Keep Off the Grass, and after reading which I wanted to slap myself for having brought that book.

Still reading it was better than reading nothing at all. Maybe, it will help me know, what not to write, in case I decide to write a book couple of centuries down the line.

Before that I read 'How Starbucks saved my life' which was a decent book about a top notch ad guy being fired from a job and lands working for Starbucks, a job he deemed menial as per his standards. Before that, it was The Under Cover Economist which was again a good book in case freakonomics style economics interests you. Before that it was Khaled Hosseni's A thousand Splendid Suns, which was again a good book, but I didn't find it awesome or anything.

After the marijuana and all stuff I picked up 'The Greatest Works of Khalil Gibran' - 12 in 1 omnibus edition (each of the book is quite small and I guess it would take 2-3 hours per book on an average), which I am currently reading(since last 24 hours!). I have read three of them, and they are simply AWESOME ... Or as Barney would put it - Legend ... (wait for it) ... Dary. I plan to finish them in next few weeks.

In fact, I must confess that it would require a re-reading to explore the depths!

In case philosophical works (having a completely mystic feel) interests you, then go for it without giving a second thought. I believe that there are two possibilities - Either you will love this book (most will fall in this category), or you will dislike it completely. Remaining 0.1 percent people may find it average or be non judgmental about his works.

Weird it may sound, but if I were to compare his works with some recent song it would be 'Khwaja Mere Khwaja' from Jodha Akbar. There is some kind of enigma in both of them. In fact like this particular song, I may not be able to compare works of Khalil Gibran with other works. It is different, in league of its own!

Maybe, I would post more on Khalil Gibran later, after I am through with all of them (providing I overcome the laziness barrier!)

Till then, happy reading!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Random Birthday thoughts

As I would have cribbed @ 1000000000 words per day, I am currently at a place called Jhunjhunu where I have no social life to speak of, internet is the only thing that keeps me going, apart from few random movies or episodes of Seinfeld. So prospects of celebrating birthday in this solitary confinement are not that exciting!

Too add to that, as I switched on my laptop yesterday night, I realized that it had conked off and is showing fan error as the reason. For me this was the end of world. And I knew not how would I survive! I hoped the issue will get sorted out in a week but it is too much to ask in this small town and this time period seemed to be an extremely optimistic guess. My birthday eve and early morning were spent on developing strategies on how to get it repaired. I couldn't find any IBM authorized dealer here, and I would have needed to send it to Delhi.

There were two options - first was about sending it as a parcel to one of my friends at IBM , either directly or indirectly through my brother, who lives at NCR. Then I could have made a visit to Delhi on the one day weekend I get, so that I could be back after collecting my laptop. The other was going to Delhi this weekend, giving the laptop for repair and collecting it the next weekend.

Maybe I could incentivize the channel members with a cheese burst pizza at Domino's.

These were few of the many thoughts running in my mind throughout the night. Other was strategizing about ho to pass time fo next few days. Maybe, a 2 hour session at internet cafe followed by random TV channel hopping, and maybe a few novels which I had sufficient stock to last for 7 non-internet days. In fact I spent a fraction of 12-1 AM in thanking my friends for birthday wishes and rest in cribbing about my lappy!

Today morning I went to a local computer shop, the only one that was open in that area at 10 AM, without expecting anything. After an initial rejection and a phone call later, he opened the laptop as if he was about to perform a complex brain surgery, took a vacuum cleaner and blew the dust off it. The fan was now in working condition, and the laptop too!

The day was spent in selling hair oils, toothpastes, shampoos, hajmola, toilet cleaners, and evening is being spent in front of laptop and TV, and of course my cell phone!

__________

Among one of the instructions I got from home was to visit the world famous Rani Sati Temple in this region!

I disobeyed.

Though I do many things against my will, this was unthinkable. How can I visit some place that actually glorifies that lady who supports this mindless evil custom. In fact I hate the fact that there is a temple dedicated to Rani Sati.

But then, my hating it or not does not make any difference to how the world functions!
__________

I have completed the silver jubilee of my existence ... and soon I'll be 30, then forty ... fifty ... sixty ... Damn! I am becoming an old man. I have invested a lot of this time in whiling away in all kinds of useless activities, all those activities which yield an abysmal ROI.

Time is flying away fast, real fast.

__________

In fact, I am constantly getting reminded of an episode from 'Friends', where they all turned thirty. They were sad, and crying!

But then, they say that life begins at 40. So there are still 15 years to go before my life begins!

__________

In this era of remakes, I am repeating something which I did last year on my birthday

For all those birthday wishes, I just want to say -->

T HANKS

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My dear laptop :(

This is an extremely sad post.
In my previous post I mentioned being passionate about staying well connected. As I am currently at a place called Jhunjhunu where I have no social life to speak of, internet is the only thing that keeps me going, apart from few random movies or episodes of Seinfeld.
And recently, as I switched on my laptop I realized that it has conked off and is showing fan error as the reason. For me this is the end of world. And I know not how will I survive :( ... I hope the issue will get sorted out in a week but it is too much to ask in this small town and this time period seems to be an extremely optimistic guess:(

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

8 Things ...

Tagged by Sheetal

Here goes my various '8 things list'

8 Things I’m passionate about:

1. Movies [Watching, analyzing, related trivia, boring people with all useless related gyaan, movie trailers etc.]
2. Reading [Newspapers (especially editorials), fiction, nonfiction etc.]
3. Religion [Rather lack of it]
4. Food [I proudly proclaim that I live to eat]
5. Freedom
6. Bakar [ This includes cracking PJs]
7. Geography [as a child I used to read and analyze maps. I can still boast about being ‘awesome’ in this. In fact, some people have been surprised by the fact that I know lot about the places which might otherwise be relatively unheard of outside the region]
8. Staying connected [Includes chatting, blogging, random time pass on internet etc. I now access internet even while travelling in a bus, through my cellphone, something unthinkable few years ago!]



8 Things I want to do before I die:

1. Travel extensively across the world.
2. Write 2 books – 1 fiction and 1 nonfiction at least!
3. Keep unshaven looks for a long time … maybe for a year or so!
4. Maintain good health and be in a good shape[hopefully without having to work hard on it and without compromising on eating]
5. Spend 12 hours post evening at a beach, with a long walk the talk session … of course after couple of beers.
6. Be an expert in economics [as of now, even the basic IS-LM model scares the hell out of me]
7. Appear in front page of a newspaper [for all right reasons, of course]
8. As Bryan Adams would put it – ‘Be 18 till I die’ !!!

8 Things I say often:

1. F**k
2. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh, oofffffffffff ... and other random noises
3. Basically,
4. Pel raha hai be …
5. Sahi hai
6. Hmmmm
7. Nahi yaar
8. Dekhte hain


8 Books I last read:

1. A thousand splendid suns [Khaled Hosseni]
2. The undercover economist [Tim Harfield]
3. 3 mistakes of my life [Chetan Bhagat]
4. The kite runner [Khaled Hosseni]
5. One flew over the cuckoo’s nest [Ken Kessey]
6. The tipping point [Malcom Gladwell]
[I do not remember what I read before The Tipping Point ]


8 songs I could listen to over and over again:

1. Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya [Hum Dono]
2. Abhi na jaao chhod kar [Hum Dono]
3. Chand mera dil [Hum kisi se kam nahi]
4. Deewana hua Baadal [Kashmir ki Kali]
5. Badi naazuk hai ye manzil [Jogger’s Park]
6. Dekha ek khwab [Silsila]
7. Badi suni suni hai [Mili]
8. O Sanam [Lucky Ali]

I am sure that the next time the list would be at least half-different

8 bloggers who should do this tag:


Anyone one and everyone who reads this blog can …

Everyone’s invited. More so if your blog name has an alphabet ‘A’

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Shekhawati Diaries - Part 1

Since last few days I have been cribbing endlessly about being dumped as at a place called Jhunjhunu in northern part of Rajasthan, and subjected to the roughs of market for selling soaps, hair oils to tooth pastes and candies to toilet cleaners . It is one of the backward part of the state (and the state is considered to be one of the backward in India, a part of the un-famed BIMARU states - BIhar, MP, Rajasthan, UP). In fact this region is famous for its palatial havelis. But the foundations of all these havelis lie in the feudal system, which was quite dominant in this part of the country.

However, there is something about this part of the country.

Jhunjhunu, along with Sikar and Churu districts form a part of Shekhawati region. This has been the home of many leading business groups in India. Mr. GD birla was born in a town called Pilani, which is now famous for BITS, one of the finest engineering colleges in India. Ram Prasad Goenka belonged to this region. Biyanis can trace their roots here. Mr. LN Mittal basically hails from a town in Churu district. These are few of the many who have made a mark.

Today I went to a small town of population in range of 30 to 40 thousand, called Shadolpur (also named as Rajgarh). The distributor in that town told me that it is the birth place of LN Mittal. He then added that till age of 5 he stayed there and then moved to kolkata. They both were of same age and were neighbors. In fact, he mentioned that if we go few generation back, then they belong to the same family. Back then LNM's father was quite poor and the distributor's father used to kind of avoid him as he feared that he would ask for some money

... And now, the times are completely different.

Few days ago, I was at a distributor's place at Sikar. He had a surname 'Biyani'. Out of curiosity I asked him whether he was related to Kishore Biyani. He said he isn't exactly, but narrated something about him. He was studying for CA at Mumbai and staying with his uncle there who used to supply material to Kishore Biyani (when Pantaloon's was quite a small thing ... I think around 10 - 15 years ago). He used to buy in huge quantity. But, back then it was said that if you supply to Kishore Biyani then you would have to buy a new pair of shoes.

Reason - He used to ask people make lots of rounds for collecting payments ... Most of the time youu had to hear the replies like "sahab nahi hain", "Kal aana" etc. (Suddenly words like 'working capital', 'cash flows' popped up in my mind)

Still, despite the land being home to who's who of corporate world, the development in this region has left a lot to be desired.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bakwas band kar

This is not a message to anyone out there, tough i am often tempted to say this to many people and often to myself. This is one of the fillers in 9x music channels which has found its own niche. Like few other friends of mine who have privilage of watching a television in recent times and have appreciated the show, I too am finding it quite addictive.

The characters Chote, who cracks many a PJs and Bade who bears the brunt of most of them form a hillarious duo.

For a person like me, who loves cracking PJs, this is an extremely refreshing watch after a tiring or a untiring day.

While writing all these I am secretly wishing that I get ao opportunity to become a scriptwriter for that show .Maybe, once they realize that they have reached a certain benchmark in terms of quality, they would need somebody to bring it down ...

PS - I am writing all this from my cellphone while travelling in a local ST bus early in the morning :)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hacked !

And, then after a long walking and running session, he stopped and was in a 'statue' position,

Then he walked for few steps.

He stopped once again, waiting for the traffic light to turn green. It didn't!

Then again he walked for 7 steps.

A right turn.

Then he sat down on the pavement overlooking the railway track. The area was shrouded by complete silence. The silence at this time was usually broken train which passed that spot at midnight, but it was still a good fifteen minutes away.

A moment of sitting silently on footpath was followed by a prolonged five minutes of singing and dancing which no one would have made sense of. He was as if possessed by some spirit or ghost, thought a drunk passerby. And for this, there was no cure.

But suddenly he stopped dancing. He had regained consciousness. He wondered where was he? Last he remembered was walking out of his house for the party. That was a good three hours ago. But how had he reached there? Maybe he had walked the whole of Indiranagar, MG Road and reached near the Cantonment Railway Station. 10 km in 3 hours! That was great. But the timing wasn't. And how he reached there was still a mystery.

At the other end of the city the evil scientist, who called himself Dr. G (G for Genius, G for God, as he loved saying!) was happily drunk, and the last traces of his consciousness was by now, gone. He forgot all about his latest technique through which he could hack people's brain and control it. It was a success just few minutes ago, and this was one of the reasons he was elated, and drunk. Maybe, his dream of ruling the planet would come true.

Dr. G was now completely oblivious of the surrounding, as the chants of 'Happy New Year 2064' were audible all over.