Monday, 31 December 2012

New years’ : Blog # 72

New years’

      Almost all of us love the New years’ eve.  It has wrapped around it, a lot of Hope- the greatest gift to mankind.

The celebrations have an endearing charm to it; fresh from the pleasant tiredness of the month long Christmas festivity. It is one of those few celebrations which have a universal appeal – the whole of mankind takes part in it!

yeaNew years' , Celebration , Resolution            The part I like the most is resolutions. We are fully aware that one week later, the resolve would have gone through the window. Still we try and make an effort to be a better person ;). It is a time to let bygones be bygones and have a fresh start – be it with regard to relationships, work or Life at large.

            Whatever one does or does not in the bygone year, this is a time which gives us a second chance, again and again- year after yearJ.

            Here’s to second chance to happiness, second chance at Life, the greatest do over of all - Happy Newyear!!! J
                                                                                                                Arun Babu

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Wisdom of the Crowd? : Blog # 71

Wisdom of the Crowd?

Blame it on our country’s governance system of democracy; we have a penchant for everything that is popular. Quite often, we end up measuring merit with popularity. That is why there is a collective despair when a popular film loses out to an art film or a widely read book is trashed by the critics.

Wisdom of the crowd, Popularity, Mediocrity
Is it that the most popular college is the best one? Aren’t the theatre artists supremely talented than most of the movie actors? All these point towards the supremacy of popularity over merit. The sad part is at times, mediocrity has appeal and that becomes the norm. The few who understand this play to the gallery becomes outcasts. It is all about the appeal.

Even our opinions are dictated by its mass following. Not many has the temerity to go against the crowd, be it the career choices they make or the choice of their drink!

And about the collective intellect, there were times when Earth was thought to be at the centre of the universe and all the world endorsed it branding whoever thought otherwise, a Lunatic.So much for the wisdom of the crowd!   

                                                                                                            Arun Babu

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A much loved Republic : Blog # 70

A much loved Republic

  A year before, nothing would have brought a smile to your face when you thought of South Korea and happened, Psy and Gangnam Style! Agreed, this might have been a serendipity.

     But there are some beautifully choreographed efforts too. Case in point being, Australia. The ‘Master Chef’ series aired on Star World may be a privately owned format. But getting it sponsored by Australian Tourism is a master stroke. An extension of that is the new sitcom ’Packed to the rafters’, an Australian family drama. So now, we Indians are no more looking at Australia through the tinted glass of violent racist attacks!

            The fact that India and its culture is loved and admired around the world owes a lot to the Indian film industry. Cinema has taken India to those nooks and corners of the world which six decades of diplomacy couldn’t. Hollywood does the same to USA. Then there are also the sitcoms which made people as familiar with the whims and ways of American families more than their own subcultures.

       One constant that depicts Britain on the minds of people around the world still remains to be the royal family. It was princess D earlier. Remember how the establishment went in to an overdrive when there was the slightest hint of racism against Shilpa Shetty in a UK reality show? She was invited for a dinner with the Queen. Smart!

            If it is the high end perfection of the gleaming automobiles that makes the world love the Germans, it is the food which makes Italians so dear. Amo La Pizza J Grazie!

            In this day and age,it is of paramount importance for a country to be liked and looked up on favourably. It influences the world’s perception for the better which invariably affects the decision makers leaving a lasting impact on the Nation's future.
                                                                                                                  Arun Babu.         

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Of Vices & Virtues : Blog # 69

Of Vices & Virtues

            Many a time, we identify with a person not through their virtues but through their vices. Strange as it sounds, it’s true.

A vice is akin to that unexpected dash of spice that comes along in an otherwise bland dish. This vice brings in an interest quotient.

            I am not glorifying the vices .Nor am I advocating the pop culture slogan of Good guys finish last. All I am saying is that it is ok to have some vices. It makes one appear more humane. It helps people relate to you.

There is this risk of being taken for granted if you are an eternal goody two shoes. People always expect you to be good natured and they get offended even if you are having a bad day!          .

            Even acknowledging your vices gets people to accept you for who you are. Let them know that you are aware of your misgivings and you are trying to overcome it. This will  help others empathise with you.

However, it is important that whatever vices you have, you try and pick up some  virtues so that people don’t find you repulsive. It is important that we find the right balance.

                                                                                                 Arun Babu.    

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Vision in White : Blog # 68

 Vision in White

       I was on a visit to a premier engineering institution as part of my work. It was past 7 o clock in the evening. The path which led us in to the campus looked enchanting with the dimly lit up street lights and lush greenery bordering it.

            As we were moving forward, I saw a deer at a distance. I was not surprised given the size of the campus and its expansive vegetation. As we went nearer, we noticed that it was no ordinary deer. It was a black buck and it’s skin was pristine white! It resembled a full moon in a pitch black sky. The sight was magical, the faint street lights adding to the aura.

            What caught my attention beyond the stunning beauty of the magnificent creature was the fearlessness in its eyes. As the car drew nearer, it looked at us with its head raised. Neither was there any sense of urgency about its movement nor to the way it looked away from us. Then it started walking-slowly and elegantly in to the darkness. The driver stopped the car till it passed by. What a sight to behold!

            The next day early morning, on my way to the campus, I saw there were many deer inside the campus and all of them mirrored the same fearlessness. For a minute, I wished; if only there was such harmony among the beings on our planet. The trust and the lack of fear filled the air with a silent symphony.

            I was leaving the campus by twilight. Bidding farewell to Jackson and Athira who very sweetly obliged to our requests during the process, I secretly wished to see the albino black buck once more. Lending a half ear to the driver’s monologue on the vastness of the campus, my eyes went far and wide in search of the ‘deer friend’.

             It was a  long winding inroad and I asked the driver to go slow. At the last quarter mile, was grazing, the white beauty on the vast expanse of a green lawn. Just about when our car was to go out of its sight, it looked up. The same elegant look with an understated pride. It brought on a smile which reached my eyes :) .
                                                                                                                        Arun Babu.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Life’s not all that bad: Blog # 67

Life’s not all that bad

      I was out for a tea break with one of my friends from work. We walked towards the parking lot and he pointed at a 1982 Enfield Bullet and told that it is his office ride whenever he is in Chennai. I asked him as to why does he do that given the terrible morning traffic and add to it, the not so pleasant weather! He replied “It is something that I have always wanted to do”.

            At times, we get too caught up with the day to day things in our lives that we unknowingly take away the life out of it. We forget that there is more to life than just sailing through.  It is small deeds like this which reminds us to enjoy Life rather than making it an exercise of endurance.

It could be anything from taking your little cousin to a super market and telling her “you can buy anything you want” (I did J )or giving your younger sibling some extra bucks for pocket money or gifting yourselves something you always wanted.

It is important that we do little things that make us feel good – be it for others or for oneself which ever works for you because later on when we look back, it is these simple things which will bring a smile on our face.

When we get in to such small indulgences, we are reassuring ourselves that in spite of all the quagmires that the world spreads out in front of us, we are leading our  lives in our own terms;however small way it may be.

In a nutshell, it is a small sweet way of telling ourselves that after all, Life is not all that bad! J.
                                                           Arun Babu                   

Friday, 7 December 2012

A message to my future self: Blog # 66

A message to my future self

The child in me yearned to be you...
The youth in me strived to be you...
You are the person I looked forward to be,
Or I thought I will turn out to be.

I hope you still have the child in you,
Un corrupted by the frivolous ways of life.

I hope you make someone so happy,
That the smile reaches her eyes.

I hope you make someone so proud,
That they are at a loss of words for you.

I hope you are so fond of someone,
That you let go of your ego.

I hope you are so loved,
That you become so sure about yourself.

I hope you haven’t committed a sin so grave,
That you turn away from yourself.

I hope you haven’t lost yourself.
I hope I haven’t lost Myself.
                                                                                                       Arun Babu                                                                                                                                                               

Monday, 3 December 2012

The month that was - November 2012: Blog # 65

The month that was - November 2012

*A monthly column on Business & Rest

                The month of November witnessed two leadership changes of prime importance in the world – US chose Barack Obama for a second term and Xi Jinping (President) and Li Keqiang (Premier) chose China for the next decade.

            Meanwhile, we as a country went back in time, at least a couple of decades when two girls were arrested for innocuous comments on the backdrop of Maharashtrian leader, Bal Thackeray’s death. But thankfully, action was taken against the police officers and amendments are being suggested on the InfoTech act.

A national daily aptly reported Ajmal Amir Kasab’s hanging as “A puppet’s life ends on a string”!

In a rarity, the Government seems to be resolute about ‘Cash transfer’ project which transfers cash in lieu of subsidized food, fertilizer and fuel for BPL families. Also the much delayed PSU disinvestment has been kicked off with Hindustan copper stake sell off.

Although the King of Good times, Vijay Mallya sold a controlling stake in United Spirits Ltd to the Global Spirit major Diageo there appears no respite for the employees of his stalling airline. At the same time, Middle East airline, Etihad has expressed interest in Jet airways and Spice jet is being courted by Qatar airways.         

The ugly face of corruption in the higher echelons came to the fore when Bharti Walmart initiated an enquiry in to the bribery involving their top notch executives.

The Impasse being cleared over the FDI bill brought cheer in the secondary market. The fact that Goldman Sachs projected an optimistic outlook (from ‘market-weight’ to ‘overweight’) helped too.

The diversified conglomerate, Mahindra & Mahindra has made an ambitious bid for stake in the iconic British car maker, Aston Martin.

The multiplex chain, PVR has bought out a 69% stake in Cinemax for Rs. 395Crores.

In yet another international acquisition by an Indian group, Sahara bought Newyork plaza and Dream Newyork hotels for Rs.4400Cr amidst Indian hotel group’s failed bid for Orient Express hotels Ltd.

Azim Premji headed Wipro demerged itself in to IT and Non –IT entities as part of their strategic management plan.

Magzter, an application developed by Indians has featured as the top grosser of Apple ipads app across Asia.

            In a market of gloom and uncertainty, IKEA’s investment proposals being cleared and Unilever CEO , Paul Polman’s opening an R&D centre in B’lore are indeed welcome respite.
                                                                                                                                                                Arun Babu.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Spur of the Moment: Blog # 64

Spur of the Moment

       I have absolutely no idea why I bought a lottery ticket that day. I was out for some errands and this lottery agent came up to me. In that moment, I paid the money swiftly and took the ticket. I was not preoccupied with any other thoughts. Neither was I in a rush. Moreover I don’t qualify to be called a spendthrift by any standards.

         I guess this is what they call impulse decisions – an action one takes on the spur of the moment.

        Have you seen people taking decisions? They will have an initial instinct. Whatever decision one makes will be an extension of  this instinct. In spite of all the research and analysis one does, the final decision will not deviate much from this initial thought.
              Predictability is the close cousin of boredom. That is why people like surprises. Be it having a cup of coffee instead of the usual tea or taking a different route to office or watching a film which is not your usual genre, doing something impulsive will be fun.

        Impulsiveness has a certain sense of liberation to it. Whenever someone does something on impulse, it will be out of routine – out of the norm one generally follows. This induces a feel good effect as one does something unplanned – bordering on being adventurous. That is exactly why you like it when you do something impulsive.

            However, it would be wise to not make a habit out of impulsiveness as then, it will no more be ‘impulsive’ J.
                                                                                             Arun Babu            

Friday, 30 November 2012

Life in a Whiff: Blog # 63

 Life in a Whiff

There is an old shop in my home town that sells spices . I used to visit it along with my Grandfather when I was a kid.Every time I walk past it, my childhood passes before me leaving me in a trance. Memories which we think are lost and gone come racing by when you get the faintest sense of a scent associated with it.

It’s said the taste of anything sumptuous that we have has a lot to do with its aroma.

The earthy zephyr from a village is the closest one will ever come to comprehending the scent of Nature. Through the pollen and grain from the fields and the trees, the village breeze brings along with it the Nature’s soul.

The whiff of Cold lies in the lap of a winter night and the scent of Summer is wrapped in the gentle wind that passes through the sun and the sand in a beach.

Knowledge lies hidden in the time locked fragrance of the pages of an old book. Divinity manifests itself in the incense of candles.

If ever we were to come close to understanding the fragrance of heaven, it will be through the pleasantness that emerges from the Earth’s within when it bathes in the first Monsoon rain.

Still, scent remains the most unsung of all the senses. My be because, it defies our attempts to depict it. Neither can we brush it across a canvas nor can we lock it in a symphony. Words fail us when we try to describe it neither are actions of much help.

Like the numerous wonders of nature, there lies the whiff of life, in the elusiveness of the whiff itself.
                                                                                                                     Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Season ticket:The Mumbai Local Train: Blog # 62

Season ticket : The Mumbai Local Train

            A local train is a world in itself. You will get to meet all sorts of people. It is a vivid cross section of all the demographies of a city.

            To begin with, there is the class divide – First and Second class. People who get in to first class become bonafide snobs. There is a sense of a misplaced entitlement.

        In the peak hours, the compartments will be packed to the rafters and in the middle of that, some people would want to read the newspaper (which includes me J ). They fold the paper in to 1/8th and read it!

     There are those who are perpetual sleepers – sitting, standing, lying down, leaning over others et al. If you take a regular train and if the perpetual sleeper get in a station before you and get off only after you, chances are you wouldn't find that person in the awake state – Ever!

          How can we ignore the famed foot board travelers? They should be given a subsidized ticket. Even if the whole compartment is empty, they will stand only at the outer tip of the foot board.

                The only kinds who are irritating - those who play loud music. That too, in those Chinese cells which give you a lasting headache.

            The IT crowd will be peeling off their touch screens with the headphones firmly plugged in their ears oblivious to whatever is happening around them. The manufacturing crowd will be looking down on them – about 6 or 7 of them together in the same striped shirts with the company’ s logo on the pockets.

            Those belonging to the intelligentsia-who reads a hefty book, replete with all the long looks outside and a pensive appearance to go by!

            With some, dare you make even a second long eye contact they are ready to pounce up on you with their words of wisdom which doesn't stop until you get down!

            Some people decidedly look out of the window, with a vengeance. Come what may, they won’t look inside the train.             

Then there are the college groups who break in to their own song n dance sequences – Gangnam style!

There are seat hunters who watch the seats like a hawk. They will hunt others down if any one even makes the slightest effort to move towards a free seat.

         There will be some hapless new timers who keep on asking their neighbor whether their station has arrived or how far their station is J.

          At the major stations, enter the vendors who can put any Opera singer to shame with their decibel levels.

And all these come with the fine print when you buy a season ticket J.
                                                                                                                          Arun Babu                                                                                                                       

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Whispering to the buffaloes: Blog # 61

Whispering to the buffaloes

One needs to keep looking for inspiration as there is nothing to lose yet a lot to gain.

Having got some precious little free time from work, I decided to check out a club functioning out of our office. It is a community which promotes and hones public speaking skills. I went there undecided as to join the club or not. I thought I would witness their activities for a couple of sessions and then take the plunge.

Then this guy, Vishnu started speaking. Incidentally, the objective given to him was to inspire the audience and inspire, he did. He used his own example as to how he transformed himself from being a village educated boy who could not speak English to a professional who could converse in as good English as any urban educated person.

I was thinking hard as to whether I should take this extra effort. Whether I should stay back for an extended time in office to be part of this club? I was getting complacent. Listening to the hardships that Vishnu underwent, I decided I had no right to not make use of the opportunity given to me in a platter.

And coming to the title of this blog, during the course of his speech, he told “To enhance my English, to get ahead in life, I tried everything from yelling at the walls to whispering to the buffaloes.” For some reason, I loved that phrase. It might be an off take from the regional usage. But the regional usage has a negative intonation to it where as he has used it positively here.

Life is a potpourri of such small teachings hidden around the corner. The inspiration that comes out of the least expected corners can influence us immensely in life.

Do whatever it takes to better yourselves, be it yelling at the walls or whispering to the buffaloesJ.

                                                                                                                        Arun Babu

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

T G I F: Blog # 60


This blog is not about the iconic restaurant, ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ which serves heavenly food. The TGIF here stands for Thank God, I Forget!

Forgetfulness is mostly frowned up on. It’s not looked up on as a quality. But it is in fact, a gift; It gives us the ability to move on in life.

‘Fast track’ has this beautiful Ad which implores people to Move on. Of course, considering its target audience, it has tapped in to the relationship aspect of it alone. But if that idea is extended, it turns out to be a great thought.

There are certain things in Life which we should forget. One of my friends says we should remember only the good things from the past. I find that so empowering. If we carry on the baggage from the past, our vision will be clogged. We will see the future only through the veil of the past.

Yes, we all take some time to get over things. But it shouldn’t take a life time.

At some point in life, we have all been told to Forget and Forgive. Forgiveness is possible only if you forget. Only then you allow yourselves to heal.

So let’s Forget, Forgive and Move on!!!
                                                                                                                  Arun Babu.