Archive for the Musings Category

Relation Chips

Posted in Musings, People, Society on January 12, 2011 by samudranb

An understanding of human relationships continues to elude me.

I guess like my friend says, I should stop being surprised astounded at how humans are. They just are the way they are. There is no right or wrong to them, just like there is no right or wrong to a coin toss.

I am having a difficult time accepting this.

I thought I was immune to fluctuations in people’s behaviour, but apparently and obviously, I am not.

As I look back at the relationships I have seen in my life, I seem to have arrived at just a single constant – nobody behaves the way you feel is the ideal way they should.

Whether it is the girlfriend who cheats, the daughter who – on her father’s death- regrets not calling him more than once a month, the friend who lets you down on the verge of the big day, the parent who does not come to your first stage performance in spite of promises, the friends who break your trust, the husband who wants to go seek pleasure somewhere else, the boss who lies to you about you, the uncle who lies about how successful his business is, the politician who lies about his sources of income, the clerk who lies about the bribe he received, the witness who lies about the murder he did NOT see or the chowkidar who lies about how promptly he submitted the payment for your electricity bill, everybody behaves in a way that seems far from ideal, possibly even in their opinion.

But is it really their fault? Is it possible that what two people think is the ideal way to behave, given the same set of circumstances, be so divergent from each other as to actually effect shock in the one and surprise that it “effected shock” in the other?

“As a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery.”

– Wachowski Brothers in The Matrix

Did they hit the nail on the head? Do humans create pain and suffering in their lives willingly and knowingly? Does it satisfy some evolutionary calling that I am unaware of?

Have we moved from a “primitive”, “tribal” society based on intense interdependence encompassing huge families, tribes and a social framework more dependent on natural sources and resources and – more importantly – on each other, to a modern society without those “inconveniences”? Does modern society force us to go about life with chips on our shoulders? Do we, not having access and permission to the traditional dangers and excitements of hunting and killing for food and fun, resort to creating drama within the confines of our own puny social circles by means of bad decisions, self aggrandizing propagandas and false dichotomies? Are we constantly on the lookout for perceived attacks on our self, and for preemptive counter-measures?

Is this evolution?

Or devolution?

The life of a soldier

Posted in India, Life. Or something like it., Love, Musings, People with tags , , , on November 9, 2009 by samudranb

How much (or how little) do we know about the people fighting for our safety? Do you know what kind of life they lead? Their dreams? Their aspirations? Their personal battles? What are their lives like? What do they dream about? Do they find girlfriends easily? Do they like chocolate? What do their non-military friends and family think about? Why don’t they just follow in everyone else’s footsteps and do an MBA and go for a 9 to 6 job? Do they invest in mutual funds? Who does their taxes? Do they like fast bikes? Do their wives support them? What do they teach their kids?

Pritish Nandy laments the misuse of the word “Hero”, and the dearth of real heroes. But I think we are surrounded by them.

Its not just the soldiers. Even the neighbourhood policemen. The honest ones and the dishonest ones. The rich ones (ha!) and the poor ones. The fat ones and the fit ones.

Its easy to be critical of the system. Its easy to think of these people in abstract terms. Its easy to ignore them. Its easy to think only of ourselves. Its easy to sit back and enjoy your book/ coffee/ free porn/ farmville/ girl/ bike/ Crème brûlée / IMAX movie / whatever.

But when it is presented in front of you in the form of real-life flesh and blood, you do sit up and take note, don’t you? I did. This marvelously impartial photo-essay on how an american soldier made me wish I knew more about our soldiers too.

I would love to do something like that. To take an abstract term (soldier / policeman) and flesh it out for you. Make it real enough for you to sit up and take note.

How? I have no idea.

I think I am good enough a photographer to be able to take the photos. But I have no idea how I am going to get the permissions, the access and the funds.

Can you help?

What is marriage?

Posted in India, Musings, Society with tags , , , on September 8, 2009 by samudranb

Marriage (noun)

  1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
  2. The state of being married; wedlock.
  3. A common-law marriage.

Love marriages around the world are simple:

Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy.They get married.

In India, there are a few more steps:

Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy.
Girl’s family has to love boy. Boy’s family has to love girl.
Girl’s Family has to love Boy’s Family. Boy’s family has to love girl’s family.
Girl and Boy still love each other (hopefully). They get married.

Chetan Bhagat. (except for the part in the brackets. That’s me.)

It seems like I cannot escape it anymore. Half the world is getting married (the rest already are). People are talking about it everywhere I go. People are inviting me to marriages everywhere I go. People are asking me the inevitable question everywhere I go. I of course feel my contemporaries’ kids will be in college by the time I am anywhere near producing a few of my own.

All this talk led me to have a lively discussion with Damudra…. my evil twin brother. Of course he won. He always wins. Here is the synopsis of the argument. See if you win it, if you are on the good side.

Is it a process to bring together two people closer to one another, by formalising their relationship?

How do two people, who hardly know anything about each other, forget about knowing anything about their families, their habits, good and bad, their plans for the future and  the skeletons in their closets, agree to try and make a life together? How do they even begin to believe that they will be happy together? How do they go from sleeping alone, to sleeping with an almost total stranger? What miracle do they hope will bring them closer together? Why does this “bringing closer together” need to be formalized?

Is it a process to bring together two gene pools, and thus increase the chances of survival by “natural selection”?

Wouldn’t marriage be against the principles of natural selection? Natural selection results in the best, and the fittest, producing the most number of offspring, while the unfit do not produce as many, thus resulting in more of the better qualities of the fitter population to be passed on to the next generation. Marriage provides the unfit, opportunities to reproduce, while restricting the fit from reproducing as many they could. Face it, most women would rather have Brad Pitt over you. Its just “natural selection” at work.

Is it an arrangement of convenience between 2 humans to share real estate, and soap?

What is it about a marriage that is so convenient? Why do people need to be married to share living space? What distinguishes a marriage from any other business transaction? There is a give and a take. There is a cost involved. The goods are inspected before … the transaction.

Is it an arrangement between 2 societies to spread their culture beyond their existing boundaries?

Usually (this is based on my limited marriage-going experience), marriages are often filled with conflicts regarding details of the various customs and rituals which have to be followed. The groom’s side and the bride’s side, more often than not, do not agree. There is a power struggle almost always going on in the sidelines. Not to mention the one-up-man-ship. Nobody wants their culture to be eroded. Nobody wants to not follow the customs and rituals that have been going on for ages. Since when is culture equated with customs and rituals? And why?

Is it a sanction by society for 2 people to have sex?

How do people reconciliate themselves to the fact that the whole world and his/her uncle, knows WHEN, WHERE, WITH WHOM they will be having sex? Why does the sex have to be a ritual after the wedding? Why can’t it be before, or at some random during the wedding? Is it the thinking about the sex that makes the entire society giddy with happiness at the mention of a wedding?

Is it a process used by society to identify adulthood?

Why does a marriage certify one to be an adult? Why should one’s perception of a person, change because s/he is married or not?

Is it a process designed to torture two people so that they do not think of going through the same once again? And thus encourage monogamy?

Holy mother of GOD! Marriages are so painful for the one going through it!! Imagine sitting, standing, sitting, doing whatever the pundit asks you to, reciting stuff you don’t understand, performing gestures of which you don’t know the importance of, just to formalize a relationship. ARRRGH! I am 100% sure the whole concept of a painful marriage was invented because all the studs of the village would take all the pretty brides and leave no one  for the old pundits. They were the ones who came up with the concept of monogamy, and also made the marriages so utterly painful so that nobody in their right minds would even dare to think about marrying a second time.

Is it sacred?

What is sacred? That which is believed in by hundreds of thousands? Or that which has been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of generations? Or that which is held close to their hearts, by the people close to you?

­­Is it worth believing in?

Is it really necessary?

Humans as Corporations

Posted in Musings, Work with tags , , on September 3, 2009 by samudranb

In today’s “Corporate Dossier” supplement, I found this small piece dealing with “change”, tucked away on the 3rd page. It ends with “10 questions that leaders must ask of themselves and their organizations – questions that speak to the challenges of change at a moment when change is the name of the game. The leaders with the best answers win.”

The questions got me thinking. How similar (or different) are people and corporations?

To be successful as either, they should have a drive to be the number 1 in their respective fields. Both have to provide some service (labour) or have some product (knowledge) that the market must be willing to pay money for. Both take quite a lot of pains to find and maintain strategic partnerships. Both want to leave legacies behind. Both want to live longer. Both worry about the future. Both take steps to ensure their survival. Both (or atleast many of both kinds) are afraid of change.

So would it be possible to manage one’s life, as one would manage a corporation?

If you were managing the corporation “You, Inc.”, how would you answer these following questions? (I have modified a few words to make them relevant for people)

  1. Do you see opportunities the competition doesn’t see?
  2. Do you have new ideas about where to get new ideas from?
  3. Are you the most of anything?
  4. If YOUr company went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?
  5. Have you figured out how YOUR organisation’s history can help to shape its future?
  6. Can your customers employers live without you?
  7. Do you treat different customers people differently?
  8. Are you getting the best contributions from the most people?
  9. Are you consistent in your commitment to change?
  10. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

Would love to hear your answers in the comments.

My last day at my first job

Posted in About me, Lessons, Musings, Work on August 30, 2009 by samudranb

The day before yesterday was my last day at my first job. Would have been pretty memorable anyways, given that it was my first job, and I have made some lovely friends there. But some other out-of-the-ordinary happenings definitely made it unforgettable.

For starters, I had some random people walk up to me and congratulate me. I don’t just mean people whose names I forgot. I mean people who I had never met in my life before. Why were they congratulating me? Well, they seemed to think I had a lot of balls for quitting without having any other job in my hand. Most didn’t believe me when I said i wanted to go for a biking trip. Maybe they just wanted to verify if I was as crazy as they had heard. I hope I didn’t disappoint them.

After spending about 11 minutes 26 seconds drafting my “Last day mail”, I spent another minute drafting another mail. An invitation to lunch. And sent it to Anshoo Gaur. Of course, I was not surprised when I did not receive a reply.

Lunch time. The usual gang. The usual food. The usual Brownian-movement-like conversation.

Tring Tring.

“Hello”

“Is this Samudra?”

“Yes?”

“Hi this is Radha calling from Anshoo’s office. He cannot make it to lunch, but would you have some free time around 2:30pm?”

(to myself: “Umm… i will have to check my outlook calendar… can you hold on a minute?”)

“Sure, I will be there. Thanks!”

It was like meeting your girlfriend’s father for the first time. It was good. I managed to keep my knees from making that rattling sound. I saw what I wanted to see, I observed what I wanted to observe, and of course, learnt what I wanted to learn.

But what impressed me most about him was his simplicity. Everything around him was S.I.M.P.L.E. His mannerisms was reminiscent more of an older neighbour, than the Division President of a  $3 billion + company. The 20 minutes I spent with him might not alter the course of my life, but it definitely made an impact.

There is one thing that I took away from both the meeting with him, and my exit interview, that I had not considered so important before. That is the importance of communication. Correct and timely communication could make the difference between an enthusiastic workforce, and an antagonistic one. As Anshoo sir said, “translation” of the communication between the layers makes or breaks it.

All important lessons to be used when I need.

But for now, I am just happy to be planning my biking trip.

Update: Finally!! Someone in a similar position!

Pune Votes, Tomorrow

Posted in Musings, Politics with tags , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by samudranb

So tomorrow is the day I exercise my right to vote. The day i participate in the biggest democratic process in the world. The day I decide the fate of some 36 candidates in my constituency.

The day I count as much as the illiterate-beggar-drunkard-wife beater-thief-smuggler-rapist-murderer standing next to me in the line.

I have not yet decided who I will vote for. I do not think the candidates themselves matter much anyways. They will hardly do anything to significantly improve the Pune constituency. But the parties they belong to, and the strength they will be having, that will surely matter in the topics that are most likely to affect the country at large.

The 3 major parties in the fray, Congress, BJP and the BSP have fielded candidates who are what you expect them to be. Projected as clean, austere and the best thing to happen to Pune since mankind invented the wheel. I cannot even recall who is from which party. They all look and sound the same. All promise to improve Pune’s roads, water supply, transport system, etc etc etc.

Surprisingly, nobody mentioned anything about corruption. Hmm. I wonder why.

To be fair, I did not attend any of their public rallies. I have only had time to go to their respective sites, and read their manifestos.The BJP candidate (Anil Shirole)’s site is “Under construction”. However, the Sakaal Times seems to carry quite a few articles about him and his pet peeve – Pune’s transport system. The “development” of which, quite obviously, offers tremendous scope for more corruption. The BSP’s candidate (DSK) seems to be quite lost. His manifesto is plagued with structural and grammatical errors, not to mention factual fallacies. The Congress candidate, Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, seems to have done a bit for the slum rehabiliation. But then, I did not like the way he has taken credit for many things, over which I believe he had not even a semblance of control. Including, but not limited to, how “as IOA President, got the country the 1st ever gold medal in individual event at the Beijing Olympic 2008.” Seems so honest and accurate, no?

Amongst the independents/smaller parties, I came across only one profile which caught my attention. Arun Bhatia from Peoples Guardian. A former municipal commissioner of Pune, who has been “transferred 26 times in 26 years” because of his inadequacy to keep quiet. Given “punishment postings”. Threatened.

His life story seems like a good story for a Bollywood movie.

But then, how much can 1 man do?

Tomorrow, I count as much as the illiterate-beggar-drunkard-wife beater-thief-smuggler-rapist-murderer standing next to me in the line.

There will be time, there will be time

Posted in Musings, Politics with tags , , , on April 16, 2009 by samudranb


And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

T.S. Eliot ( The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock )

There will be a time, soon, when the Great Indian Tamasha will no longer be about vote banks and vote buying. Murders and rapes. Intimidators and the intimidated.

When it will be about people making informed choices about the way they want to be governed. Which to me, means less and less of governance, and more and more of self-reliance. Less of rules, more of rights AND responsibilities.

Less of clowns looking to ban anything they don’t understand, as a solution to problems they don’t understand, created because of following policies they don’t understand. And more of debates about these issues.

Huh? Who? Where? Whadda…?! Oh… i must have fallen asleep.