Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Rail Diaries#1 - The Blue Malabar Wagons : Blog # 35

Rail Diaries#1 - The Blue Malabar Wagons

rail diaries
       7:00 pm, Sunday, 24th June, Onboard Aleppey Express: I  am on the first of many many Chennai trips to come, my office being at Mahindra city (a planet far far away from Chennai ;) ). Having recuperated from a small bike accident for a week at home, I am going to be back at work tomorrow morning.

         I find train journeys reasonably boring. At Palghat station, I got down for a cup of tea and to take a stroll. Blowing in to my cup of tea, I looked across and there is parked, the all too familiar blue wagons of Malabar Cements Ltd (MCL) and it got me thinking.

            A quick flash back to our engineering days; the reason being a couple of my close friends had done their final year engineering project at MCL. Out of sheer curiosity, I had set out on a journey to MCL with them when they went to collect their certificates from there. Seated on the concrete slabs, I remember staring at these wagons back then from the very same platform. I distinctly remember us collectively fretting about placements. But we were moderately confident and hopeful. Later on, some of us joined some IT firms and the rest including me set out to Bombay in search of a job. Luckily, all of us landed jobs and is now spread across India.

           After a year at Bombay, I resigned from RIL and came to do MBA and thus began the train journeys to and from ASB, Coimbatore. Boy, those were fun! Even then I remember noticing these blue wagons. I used to give some gyaan to anyone who cared to listen as to how they belong to MCL and how it might be on lease from railways and so on, usually that person being Vivek. Many a time when I repeated the same gyaan (which was more often than not) he shut me up too J .Even then, we used to wonder where we will be after the course ends. I guess the blue wagons just manifest themselves whenever I am in search of a job.

        And now, again on a Sunday night, I see the blue wagon J, enroute my office. I hope it’s not an omen of an impending search for a job! Given the market situations, you never know J. But being the wanna be optimist I am , I look at it as a sign of luck and as something which is going to bring me seasons of good times to be cherished.
                                                                                                   Arun Babu.

Friday, 22 June 2012

F.R.I.E.N.D.S, the Series : Blog # 34

       A blog on FRIENDS, the series           

   The title song of this stupendously successful sitcom brings a smile on my face, every single time. When it comes to TV shows, ‘Friends’ is the first word and the last. It is what they call a CLASSIC! This series was aired on the US Television and then the world over for 10 long years. What is more fascinating is the fact that it had the same star cast of 6 friends all through the 10 seasons.
I love FRIENDS, Best Sitcom ever , FRIENDS Sitcom
           What I love about the show is the fact that it doesn’t have a story per se. It portrays the everyday lives of 6 friends (Chandler, Phoebe, Joey, Monica, Rachel & Ross) set against the back drop of a coffee shop. Even in the first episode, there was no narration involved. The show implored the audience to understand the story line over a period of time. This might be one of the many things that worked in its favour.

            There is something about it which makes it worth watching repeatedly without a pint of boredom. It is about friendship, love and family. It touches up on all the emotions without being preachy for even a second. I envy the scriptwriters. How abundantly talented people! Same goes for the cast. One cannot resist but fall in love with each one of them.

          The subtlety with which each episode is approached is praise worthy. There is no in the face messages or mushiness. It leaves a lot of room for the audiences’ imagination .It doesn’t confine the audience’s thought process neither does it consciously guide them.

            Yes, there is a certain degree of Idealism to it. The Friendships of the real world might not be as perfect or as hassle free. But Life is all about aspiring , isn't it? - for a better companionship, for a happier existence. 'FRIENDS' manifests as a small reason for us to look up to and to aspire.

         The 1990s were a dynamic phase in any part of the world with the advent of many inventions like the internet. Still the show never went out of vogue. I don’t think it ever will.

                                                                                                       Arun Babu.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Call of Duty! : Blog # 33

Call of Duty

                    When my sister and I were school goers, we used to stay at a rented house closer to her school. That home has many sweet memories and remain a favorite till date.

              One saturday morning, we had a visitor. I was in 8th grade then.Dad was on his 28days leave from Abudhabi. He used to work in off shore rig back then. I opened the door and saw a person in white shirt and black pants.What caught my eye was his golden framed spectacles. I closed the door half way and went back to dad telling him he has a visitor.Dad went to the door and ushered that person in. I heard him saying " My son don't know you.Sorry that he kept you waiting here.Please come inside."

                Then they discussed many things over a cup of tea. When he left, dad told me "You shouldn't have left him waiting at the door. He is a Bank manager".  From next time onwards, I made sure he was welcomed properly. He was a very unassuming , humble  person.

               Now I understand the relevance of his visiting us at home. It was in mid 1990s. He was a branch manager at SBT. The four lettered private banks were not as prolific back then. So a Bank manager had no need to visit a customer's house. 

               Over the years, he became a friend of dad's and Suresh uncle for us.He was given the charge of a branch in Ollur, a small town in Kerala. That branch was facing  shut down and he was in charge of bringing some business. Dad, being an NRI back then was a premium customer. At times, he went on to the extent of delivering cash at home when dad was away. ATMs were a rare sighting in those days.

               Dad says  Suresh uncle used to travel up and down to Trivandrum (6 hrs away from here) every weekend to meet his parents.He was working so hard and yet he had a wonderful work-life balance. He used to visit many of his customers at their office/home and saved the branch from closure . Later on , he got a transfer with a promotion. 

                Thinking about it now makes me realize he was a great manager indeed.

                                                                                                                                               Arun Babu.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Spirit of Life : Blog # 32

                         Spirit of Life

                 I believe the essence of Life lies in the smallest of things. Life fills up in a hearty laugh. A lover's stolen glance epitomizes life as does a friend's hug.

                 Life is the most giving in the wide open arms of our Grandparents. It wells up in mom's eyes and rests lightly on dad's shoulders. Life hides in your sibling's sulk :).

                  Life is as much there in your home's favorite corner as in the most sacred of the God's places. 

             Life sings from the notes of an impassioned melody.Life plays around in a good game.It manifests beautifully in a good film.  

          Life hides in the tears behind life’s little sorrows.Life spills over in the unspoken love of your pet.Life buoys up in a spirited person.

                Life is there at a dawn and a dusk and all the moments in between.

                                                                                                                                         Arun Babu.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

7th Grader is not a Five point Someone! : Blog # 31

7th Grader is not a Five point Someone

                After having a sumptuous lunch from Kris’ home, I headed for MCity in a taxi. I have always loved cabs. Have always had this feeling that taxis are so comfortable, with the chauffeur et al. When I was in Bombay, I used to wait for a cab to come along even if autos were there. For one, the local cabs (fiats) were cheap there and it gave that comfy - indulgent feel.
             Stuck in the traffic signal, he told his name is Ibrahim, from palghat in kerala. My mom is from Palghat and hence I have a liking towards people from there. The awareness he had about things that mattered amazed me. The only difference was that he did not use the jargons that we people do.

He was reminiscing about his middle east days. He used to own a taxi service in Saudi. He was employing 4 guys. He said his business did well. The roads there are great, so no maintenance for the cars. The petrol price was very less. He said “ I agree that Saudi has oil in the country and that is why the price is very less. But it is highly over priced in our country. It is all due to the taxes. That is why the price of every damn thing is going up. Politicians should do something about it”.

  Ibrahim ikka loves Kerala beyond anything. He said “Kerala is an amazing place to live, truly God’s own country. But there is minimal employment. That is why our youngsters are moving to middle east. We cannot blame our government completely. We do not have the kind of barren lands that a Karnataka or a Tamil nadu has.”. “But what about the IT sector ikka?” I probed. He said “Yes that can be done. All these companies should come there - Infosys, CTS, Ascendes (I thought he was referring to Accenture. But there is a company called Ascendes!)”.
             The music system started singing a beautiful song from the malayalam movie “Ee Puzhyum Kadannu”. He said “There is no one like Yesudas. What a talented singer! In my lonely gulf days, his voice brought me back to Kerala in a second. You know, I did not come back for 20 long years! Can you believe that? First five years, alone and then 15 years with family. If I had stayed on, I would have got Saudi citizen ship. I said no way! I will die in my country”.

            Then the conversation got candid. He said that he has studied only till 7th grade. “My wife is also a graduate. During that time, many people made fun of me and asked my father in law not to go ahead with the marriage. If you ask me, it’s all in the head. It never stopped me from doing anything. I worked very hard and made sure all my children studied". His elder daughter is a graduate and married a software engineer in HCL. His younger daughter is pursuing PG in Chennai. His face lit up when he talked about them.   

            I thoroughly enjoyed the journey (all the while, he was driving above 100km/hr, but eyes firmly on the road) and the conversation. As I got down I gave some extra money rounding off the fare. He got offended “You think I talked to you for this?”. I insisted again. He said “ I will not accept any extra money from you.  Next time when you call our taxi service, ask for me  :)  , or for any help in Chennai for that matter.“
             And I thought education widens the horizons of people’s thought process!

                                                                                                                                Arun Babu.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Addicted! : Blog # 30


Having got a weekend off from Infy guesthouse, I headed to my cousin’s place. After some chit chat, she asked me if I wanted tea. I said yes. Then a guest came and my sister asked if I want tea. I said yes. Then my brother in law came back from work. Again she asked and my answer was yet again, YES! She laughed and said “You and your bro in law are mad about tea. He too never says no to tea J.”

What is it with me and Tea???There is a morning tea. There is a tea during breakfast. There is a 4 o clock tea. These are routine.

When I was in college, I used to wake up at 6! – for the TEA! There was a tea during every break. At times, it became two. Then there is a tea at 7 in the evening to call it a day!

Now at work, there is a tea between training sessions. To make things worse, there is a tea set in the room! So it has become even more frequent. 

There was a move to make Tea the national drink. I am all for it. It gives me a legitimate reason to indulge in my favorite drink J

                                                                                                                                 Arun Babu

Sunday, 3 June 2012

City of Good times! : Blog # 29

        City of Good times

                     It is so easy to fall in love with this city. Be it the weather, the cosmopolitan appeal, all add to its charm.

               Yes, it has its own misgivings – the traffic is horrible, connectivity is bad by any standards. But no city is perfect and attempts are being made to make it better. Given the unexpected explosive growth that this city underwent, it needs some time.

                I used to visit Bangalore during my vacations when I was in 12th and early years of engineering. This is where I first went to a multiplex, I had my first Pizza and even to a McD! Once, I came to B'lore for my sis’ scholarship test. It was in  Leela kempinski. Since then, I am in awe of B'lore and all of its charms.

              Later on,I did my summer internship here. There are some wonderful memories from that time too.
               I am in love with the red Volvo buses here. It is so plush! Some ad says “ Noises are to be seen, not heard”. These buses give you exactly that kind of comfort - of course, that comes with a price! :).

            The people of B’lore are also very welcoming – at least so far. Although the numerous fly overs are cutting across the city’s landscape, some areas have retained their lush green - garden city character.
           B’lore is also home to some people whom I hold very close to heart – friends, relatives – across all demography :) .

          The commercial street, the MG road , the Brigade road, ISKCON temple, Lal Bagh – all of them define the city that is Bengaluru! My friend, Unni jokes Silk board Jn is the Trafalgar Square of B'lore! All it lacks is pigeons :).

 There is a very rare blend to this city. It is as much home to a Vidhana Soudha and a palace as it is to a Forum or a UB city.

          And for those, who love a lot of beer and a bit of music, there are the heavenly pubs. Many of those in the twilight of their lives have settled down to wake up to the beautiful mornings of this city.

                       There is something for everyone in B’lore.

Arun Babu

Keywords : Bangalore, City, Metro, India, Bengaluru