Monday, 25 January 2016

Alumni Meet? Go! : Blog # 259

Alumni Meet? Go!

I read somewhere that every generation thinks they are smarter than the previous one. And the very same generation thinks they are wiser than the next one. There are very few places where this plays out with utmost affection than at an alumni meet without losing even as much as an ounce of fondness for each other.

Those of you who would have revisited your childhood home at a time when your bygone childhood feels too distant, would know how exactly going back to one's alma mater feels like. There is an abundance of fondness and gratitude towards that place for the sweetest of memories that it has gifted you. There is a sense of familiarity with the people and the environment around which makes one wonder how oneself has changed in many ways and how we all are still the same in as many ways.

An alumni meet somehow plays out to be a windshield and a rear view mirror all at once. Seniors from earlier batches with the wisdom that life has given them shows us what lies ahead. Their success inspires us to aspire beyond boundaries set by one’s own juvenile mind and their failures reassure it is OK to try and fail .It tells us that the beauty of life is in its resilience. The juniors remind one so much of one's recent past. At times, it reminds one how exactly similar oneself was or rarely, how completely different the current set of people are.

The ones who are luckiest are the present batch. They are blissfully clueless about being in the best time of their life. And rightfully so. Else nostalgia will lose all its romantic aura, isn't it? Their big worries which you have been through and have realized over time, aren't really big enough to fret about. How the mysterious ways of life don't let them see how little the worries in fact are; may be so that they can laugh about those little worries later on.

The most surprising will be one’s own batch mates. Many make you wonder how some people doesn't change at all and you are glad that they didn't and then there are others who makes you think that even change doesn't affect them ;).Then there are others who evolve beautifully which reminds you of that saying by Buckminster Fuller, " There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it is going to be a butterfly".

The dear professors, whom you look up to and with affection that grows with time, just the way it is with parents. One realizes how kind they were to put up with one’s childishness. How they also played along, not because they didn't know any better but just to humor and indulge our young minds dying to be seen, heard and touched.

If you are lucky, the college won't have changed much after you left. There will still be corners where you can see an earlier self of you walking from. There will still be a courtyard that used to resonate with your laughter. There will still be a canteen and a lawn where you had the best of times with your friends .The class rooms which made you think, act, laugh, learn, sleep (at times ;)) and grow. The sights that we have seen, the sounds we have heard, the people we have met, the memories we have made are what makes the place so special. To know that there are more such people who share these experiences with you across very many years makes them all the more special.

One can't stop wondering how humbling and cathartic an experience it is to just be in a place which has helped you grow and evolve. How beautiful and selfless the relations formed there are. How the jokes which had us in splits continues to be so across years. How certain things always remain the same and how certain others always undergo change. How some of the juniors have grown and how your seniors say you have too.

All that it leaves you with is the people whom you met, the stories that they told, the laughs you shared and the longing to get back to the reassuring familiarity with eternal fondness.

More blogs on Amrita School of Business, My Alma Mater ~ The Gate pass ~ For those in the know ;) ~ 

Arun Babu

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Stand-up Comedians of India : Blog # 258

Stand-up Comedians of India

          For the uninitiated, stand-up comedy is that art form where a person converses with the audience. As the name suggests, it is largely to evoke a laughter, and spread some humor among the audience. I am not going in to the definition of the art form for Google is still alive.

          What I would want to tell you though is about some young Indian artists who are taking the stand up comedy scene by storm. They are abundantly talented, well read, well-traveled and young enough to be open to new ideas and thoughts. Most of them make us laugh, some of them make us think and a fewer still make us act and speak up too. Now why should you listen to them? To begin with, just to LOL – to Laugh Out Loud J. If you are not a fan of reading newspapers, watching their shows can be a way of being in touch with the happenings around you. The plurality of their thinking minds will enrich your perspectives. If you are interested in public speaking, I can’t think of a more fun way than this to learn some tricks of the trade to get your audiences’ attention.

Kanan Gill & Biswa Kalyan : If you love Bollywood movies, you must watch ‘Pretentious movie reviews’ by these two. This very unconventional, refreshingly new movie reviews will leave you in splits. Their individual stand up acts are largely a fun take on the Indian society and people around us.

Kenny Sebastian : This Kerala born, brought up all over India , Army kid uses voice modulation to his advantage. His at times - self depreciating – straight from the heart – comedy has won him many fans. The fact that he can sing and play a guitar does give him an extra edge during his performances.

Daniel Fernandes : If you are among those who gets a kick from intellectual jokes, you must watch this guy. It is not that his shows aren’t light hearted. They are. But many a time, they will have a small message en wrapped in it, of course without being preachy.

All India Bakchod : This is the Yash Chopra ensemble of stand-up comedies. A group of artists namely Gursimran Khamba, Tanmay Bhat, Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya make up this group. Their AIB Roast had become quite famous or notorious depending on which side of the getting-offended-fast scale you are on. Their take on current affairs is richly creative and widely different from what we are used to seeing. They also have a TV show titled ‘On Air with AIB’

Aditi Mittal : Now she belongs to a very exclusive club – of  female stand-up comedians in India. Along with being a successful stand-up comedian in her own right, she also lends the much needed female voice and thought on stage like the feminine gaze we talk about in movies.

Virdas : This hugely popular stand-up comedian can be considered a pioneer in stand-up comedy who became popular among the youth in India. He is an actor too. His take on current affairs is astute, brave and irreverent.

          In this time and age of social media, many of us are forgetting to indulge in conversations or at least have a long enough talk. Watch these folks and you might end up getting some talking points that will help you look intelligent – not essentially intelligent though ;)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Infosys breaks walls ~ of Brick & Fire! : Blog # 257

Infosys breaks walls ~ of Brick & Fire!

I work at Infosys. I went to office today. I logged in to Facebook. Enough said! I can end this blog here and you will get the message. But then, this being a blog, let me be more generous with my words.

Infosys is emerging as the quintessential ~to borrow the expression from a Gen Z youngster ~ ‘cool’ company these days. First it was the tie that went out of the window. The dress code was decrypted and employees can wear anything they deem smart, these days. This includes a round neck t-shirt and a jeans and NOT the business casuals (All those firms who advocate business casuals, that’s like Henry Ford providing choice of any color of car so long as it is black!).

Then came the announcement that employees at all positions can avail work from home. Yes, you read that right and that too, a very generous 9 days a month! For a company of this size and scale as regards number of employees, that is a policy move the size of a mammoth.

Now the mother of all announcements! Employees can access various social media channels on the company’s network. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and many more. You might be thinking “Oh they could have given YouTube too!” Well, that wish is also granted. You know what, let’s make this deal a sweet heart one. So let’s add blogs, Tumblr and the other blogging sites too. Did I mention personal emails? Oh Sorry! my fault, they are there in the accessible list too.

Now you might wonder when you have a smart phone, does the social media access really matter? May be not for you. But for the youngsters, mobile data is a precious commodity. But at the heart of it, it is not about even that. For them, it is about breaking away, from norms, from conventions and from boring familiarity. And what’s in it for the once young crowd? This is your best chance to reach out to the Gen Z. Poke, Like, Comment, Share, Post, Ping and reach out! Two walls are being broken here – the obvious fire walls and the one between a generation from brick & mortar and the one from now.

 If you look at the larger picture, It is about autonomy! It is about liberating the employees from the dungeons of firewalls. It is about trusting the employees with an absence of confinement. I think it is self-fulfilling prophecy at its best. You liberate your employees and they will live up to the freedom that they are gifted with.

For those of you who wonder if these changes are too simplistic, Let me borrow a quote from Clare Boothe Luce ~ “Simplicity is the ultimate Sophistication”.

p.s ~ Has a new meaning at Infy. Post Sikka :) or is it Post Serendipity?

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Sunday, 3 January 2016

I f I could…Letter from a Soldier : Blog # 256

I f I could…Letter from a Soldier

            I am not one of those who always wanted to join the forces. I had my own reservations. I knew that my mind did not have the discipline to blindly follow orders of another person. My thoughts were always that of one who wondered. More often than not, my mind had a ‘why’ or a ‘what if’ that remained unanswered when I thought it had come to a stillness.

Then I realized it is the brightest of minds that join armed forces. Is it that all of them were blindly following propaganda? That couldn’t be. They were all thinking minds. Somewhere ,our life itself is living through propaganda, isn’t it? ; a culmination of what our family, society and immediate surroundings tell us or make us go through in our early lives. We mistake the outcomes of those situations for our ‘individuality’ or even ‘conscious choices’.

            Initially, I found it a bit difficult to cope with the discipline that academy enforced. Later on, I realized that it is not the body that is being taught. It was the mind that was being reigned in! Senior officers told us that if we could make our mind listen to us, then nothing will remain unattainable. I remember one of the officers telling me that one will reach a stage where the mind and the person become so much in harmony that it will cease resisting us. When one of us asked as to when that time will come, he smiled and said, “The day when you realize the reason why you chose this path”.

            It was a day like any other. The ordinariness about it belied the impending eventuality. Bidding goodbye to my wife and little girl, I set out to the air force camp. And then came the message, “We are being attacked”. I fought along with my team. And then, everything came to a standstill. I was shot at.

            Am I proud of having undertaken the supreme sacrifice for my nation? I do not know. I was just doing my duty. Is there regret? Yes, not about the path that I chose. I do not doubt that one bit.

But I regret not having spent enough time with family. I wanted to tell my little girl the stories which I listened to while growing up. I have oft imagined what it would be like to tell her the experiences that I have been through once she grows up. I was waiting to get home to tell my wife what I went through today. She usually makes fun of me for telling such experiences. But I know she is secretly proud when she hears me out. I wish if I got a chance to tell her that I will be gone and that she should take care of herself. I wanted to call my parents in the morning and tell them that I will be visiting them soon. I wanted them to know that they are as much in my thoughts as I am in theirs.

I regret not having lived through my life.  I wish if I could meet more people, if I could read more, if I could travel more, if I could learn more, if I could grow more, If I could love more and be loved more, if I could  grow old, if life had been a bit more patient with me, if I could just be…

~A Soldier