Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Torrid Tuesdays

There is no reason or season for the auto guys to go on a strike in Chennai. This morning when I got out of the house there were no autos on the street and buses were overcrowded. I could find some empty seats on the roof of the bus, lol! I was not willing to risk my life, I would rather walk 4 kms to work. I was able to spot an auto guys who was willing to ply me for an extra 10 bucks. I have no bargaining power on such days.

Chennai is becoming a blonde capital now, lot of foreign nationals and expatriates stay here with there family and children. Thanks to the globalization and outsourcing wave. I catch atleast a dozen of them in the traffic light in the morning, dads usually driving them to school. I have never even imagined this in the wildest of dreams. At work we have a more than a dozen interns from various countries. Everybody wants a share of India on their resume. India has become the epicenter of happening.

Kids here today have an opportunity to go to school with kids from US and UK. Black and blondes together. What a mélange! Spencers mall is packed with people from all parts of the world. Chennai too has become a melting pot. Don’t be surprised if you have Jousha standing besides you in the supermarket. It is all happening here.

Thanks to this wave of outsourcing. We would have had tons of educated people waiting to be employed, if not for this outsourcing wave, our youngsters would have left the country. Brain drain! But the reverse is happening here in India. I remember doing a statistical analysis to find the correlation between employment rate, crime rate, suicides, murders, breaks-ins. Definitely without the outsourcing wave we would have had more of circumstantial criminals.

I jumped out of work in the afternoon for an hour to run some errands. I went with my cousin to pick a watch for her fiancée and then met up with the interior decorators to finalize the flower design for the reception. We picked a wafer thin watch “Edge” collection from Titan. The marriage is getting really close and keep come back to look at the pictures from a traditional south India wedding.

Yet another addition to the garden of roses in the heaven. At 3.30pm my cousin called to let me know that my father’s ailing aunt passed away. She was 85 years old and her kidneys were revolting to work anymore. I roll back my limited memories of her. She was a brave lady and stood deftly to face anything in life. I am on my way to her cremation at 7.00 pm.
A 2 minute silence…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
May the departed soul rest in peace :-(

Monday, June 27, 2005

Monday Blues- June 27th

Sun marked his presence early on in the day, but luckily the heat was not bad. It was a little over 7 am when I stretched my muscles in bed. Took in absentia from the gym today, my chest and biceps were still sore from the last evening work out. Day was fresh and I could sense something great about today and when I could sense that while I was praying. May be prayers created the positive charge and hence the fresh bout of energy. May be Saturn transit? Hmm.....

I made it to work by 9.30 am after a little haggle with the cranky auto guy. Boss was already in when I reached worked. Turned on my computer with a short prayer for the day and an extra one week to go really productive. After quickly going through my emails, I stepped into my boss's office. He pointed at my scruffy looks, I told him I am sporting a beard. Well, excuses come in handy when you are a little lazy to shave. He gave a download of things that needed to get done from my end.

Came back to my desk and felt a little more charged than usual. May be directions given by him were a little more clear and not shooting in the dark. A colleague of mine had been to his native place, he got some yummy banana chips and Jack fruit halwa. He left the bag of chips near by cubicle and every ten minutes my hand would reach out for the bag ofg chips. I was a chipandale at work today!

I decided to stop making trips to the cafeteria twice before lunch. I get tempted by those biscuits and then engage in a gorging warfare. I went for a cup of tea and then quickly went through "The Economic Times". I usually look for stories on the US economic outlook and spending patterns in the IT industry. Interest rates are still low and they will remain to be low for some more time. Time to buy a house, but guess the houses are already over priced and the market fears the housing bubble to burst anytime.

I made a lot of progress on a presentation today. Though I was asked for a word document, I spent extra hours to get a spiffy one ready. Usually I go for lunch all by myself, but decided to invite a few of the others in the area. One of the guys was from Bihar and the topic revolved around Bihar, working conditions, living conditions.

The 2nd half of the day whisked through without having to look at the watch, take trips to the water cooler, and passive smoke break. Had some emails trickle in from my friends. I wanted to leave by 7 pm and my boss offered me flexible working hours so that I can stay a little later may be till 9 pm to finish some US calls. There are no free lunches!!!

Showed the first cut of the sales pitch to my boss. He was very much appreciative of the efforts, but poked some holes and asked me to fill the gaps. Noted down the gaps and posted them on my cubicle. There is always tomorrow for the catch-up, right? Saturn transit right?

Today Venus, Mercury, and Saturn all three are alinged in a straight line and are closest to the earth. Star gazers and astro fans get ready to watch this in the northwestern part of the sky this evening. It is a spectacle!


I have been working on a few habits for sometime now. Just like Stephen Covey's 7 Habits, I call them the habits to Nirvana. This month I am working on trying keep my mouth shut for the most. Talk when absolutely required and think 3 times before saying something. It is really tough for a talkative guy like me. No wonder, I am filling up the blogs. He..he..he..he..he

Well, today was a great day and every day is a great day! Let me finish for the day with a saying from my ex-boss. A nice one to ponder till I wake up tomorrow. Should I? Let us see....

"Life is like a screw and at times we don't have a choice and we have to get driven by the screwdriver(fate and karmas)"

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Weekend Musings........

I wanted to get out of work early on Friday evening, not that there was a lot on my plate, but you know it was a different kind of feeling. Sometimes the mind gets tarnished like the bronze flower vase in your living. All it needs is a brush and wash to get back its lost sheen. What can you do the mind and body to get back that shine and sheen? Well, each of us have our own ways of cleaning the cobwebs in our head.

Well this weekend Saturn is transiting from Gemini to Cancer, this impacts every being on this earth in someway or the other. If you believe in astrology, there is a lot that Saturn has to teach one in life. Saturn, son of gun, he is the son of Sun. He is considered the best teacher in one's life. He resides 2.5 years in each of the 12 zodiac sings and takes 30 years to go around all the zodiac signs. His natural enemy is Sun and is powerless when he reaches Leo. He is debiliated in Aries, where Sun is exalted. He is exlated in Libra, where Sun is debilitated. He owns Capricorn and Aquarius. He is the karaka for longevity, and Jeevanam. If Saturn is well placed in a horoscope one can go to heights, if otherwise, one will reach the ravine. Saturn is a just planet and he makes you the enjoy fruits of the karmas in the previous births. When he is in the 4th position from the natal moon, we call it "Ardhashtamam" while he moves into the 8th house from the natal moon we call it "Ashtamam". Moon is an indicator of mind and Saturn's movement causes a lot of anxiety and tension.

Shiva himself had been subjected to the Saturn transit. Rama had to live away from Sita and she had to suffer in Lanka and neither Pandavas were exempted from the karmic duties of Saturn. Everybody learns the essence of birth, death, and purpose of life during the Saturn period.


I made a trip to Kapali temple this weekend to placate and propitiate Saturn. I don't know what has he got for me in store. Well that is why I have called my blog "In the hands of grahas".

Rains have been lashing the west coast of India. Bombay, Pune and Maharashtra have been receiving good rainfall. Chennai has also cooled down a lot, heat waves have gone. There is an antique bike rally happening this weekend and apart from that there are some classical music concerts happening. Chennai is the mecca of "Indian classical music".

Usually I try to nap in the afternoon during the weekends. Iced tea killed my sleep totally, I was wide awake tossing and turning in my bed. I picked Vani Jayaram's hits for the weekend. She has fabulous voice that vibes in your system for hours after the recital. Yezhu Swarangalukkul, Meghamey Meghamey are a few of her master pieces.

I visited my father's aunt who is hospitalized, her kidneys are not functioning and she is on dialysis. I happen to peep into the dialysis unit and I was taken aback. Would you beleive that most of them undergoing dialysis were in their mid thirties and 75% of them were men. I was shocked and surprised. I peeped through the transparent glass door, some of them had a pale look on their face, while it is a routine for some of them. It was poignant scence.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

This day 3 years ago......

Here is an excerpt of the mail that I sent my Boss, 3 years ago after I lost my job in the wake of Sept, 11.

Paul:
Past few months have been quite frustrating and challenging on both personal and professional front. I wanted to send this mail long back, but as you know there is always a reason for procrastination. I happen to see a small write on IM deal won by PG in today’s Economic Times and nostalgia brought me back to completing this pending email.

I thought I had hit the biggest jack pot in life working for XXX and needless to say working for you. But the jackpot turned out to be a short-lived dream. More than the clay it is the craftsmanship of the artisan that brings beauty and adds value to the artifact. You must have heard this before, “People join companies and quit bosses”. I definitely saw a lot of value even before I made that jump to XXX. We all join dream companies, but it is the boss who can make one live their dream or make it nightmarish.

I could see the real leadership in you and the fire to achieve. More than anything you can treat humans as they deserve to be treated. Agree to disagree, treat people the way you would like to be treated are a few essential traits which only a few carry. I could not see any tinge of ego or superior-subordinate relationship in any of your dealings. You motivated me to fight the battle till the last. Right from the Phd classes that we had at the start of the day and taking ownership to fix problems at the end of the day, You are a university and there is a lot to learn from you. There was unparalleled kindness and divinity in the way you broke my exit news and how you helped me prepare and cope with it.


I am not writing this email to flatter you, but would want to let you know how you’ve inspired me through your thoughtful leadership. I am certain there only a few people in this world in your cadre with this kind of rare competence. I am very happy and feel blessed to have worked with you and how many ever births, I would ask them same, just to work with you.

The new role that I’ve assumed is not all that challenging and people are very different. I look out for XXX in the news and honestly pray that you guys win more deals. It feels like a personal victory and loss. I don’t know how and why XXX has gotten into to me so much. But I know, if it were not you, then that place would have been yet another stopover. Definitely there is a sea of difference between XXX and YYY. Competence and quality of people are galaxies apart.

Likes and dislikes have no place, when life doesn’t give you a choice. Family commitments, financial burden, and fate have made me take this treacherous path. I will remember the analogy of walking on the wooden plank, success is when you look at the other side and not down below. I will go on this path with a hope that someday I would get an opportunity to work with you.

Whatever role you assume in life, may be a father, husband, son or a boss, you a have a lot to teach this world.

Convey my regards to your family and our little family at XXX (Abhrams, Rock, Bond).

Always in my prayers,
Sekar

June 23

Everyday is different and we all have reasons to feel elated and let down. It is natural to expect results after hard work and long nights and when the pay back isn’t great, hopes, expectations, optimism get dumped in the fire. All of us have ambitions in life to grow, holder fancy titles, gather more responsibilities, and financially well compensated.

Before I go on with the lecture, Chennai weather has been awesome for the last couple of days. We had some showers and the temperature is under 90 deg F. Hope this continues….

A friend of mine from the previous work place called up this morning. He was very much upset with recent annual review. He was upset even during his last review and I made him look at his blind spots. But this time he sounded absolutely distraught and negative. I don’t know the other side of the coin and hence stay away from passing a judgment.

We can fight for a raise and fancier title and more perks. Human psyche is that we will soon feel uncomfortable at that level and want to get to the next. There is no end to dreams, and wish lists.

The previous generation was really patient and people retired as clerks and not everyone retired as CEO’s and CFO’s. There were lots of smile than frown. What is happening to this generation?

Have we lost patience to wait for the payback day?
Are we over ambitious?
Do we crib about anything and everything?
Have we become too greedy to even kill the golden goose?
What is making us live this dynamic dynamite lifestyle?
Has life become a scratch lottery?

I definitely don’t have answers to these questions. I have also been a part of this crib club, but now changing my ideas and expectations.

My philosophy….. “What is due will come to you, and in the kingdom of God none goes unrewarded for their efforts. In the end it is all between you and God. He sits across from us and our life review goes on…..”

Sunday, June 19, 2005

June 20

Yesterday was a really busy day. I had to run around with my uncle to take care of my cousins wedding preparations. She is the last girl in the family to get married. Usually there is a lot of work from the bride's side more than the groom's side.

It was really hot during the day, but towards the evening rain god came to our rescue. First shower in 6 months. Have you ever spent some time enjoy the rain? Watching the first drop hit the ground? Smell the fragrance of the rain drops? It was a spectacle watching the rain and people caught offguard without umbrellas.

It was really a hectic day at work. If I would call it was "Yikes..." at work.Things didn't go smooth and there was a lot of bottlenecks and delays. Couple of months back I would get worked up and flustered during such situations, but today for a change I was so relaxed. Thanks to my Boss who has taught me the art of how to think during the time of crises. I was able to handle things today with cool and composure. For the first time in my life my stress level were under control and I was cool as a cucumber.

My boss often says " When you cross a plank bridge, never look down, but look at the other end and keep walking and you are sure to reach the goal". It was so true and at the end of the day I made it a point to send the email to him appreciating his guidance. I think I am growing up, not just having gre hairs and loosing them hmm.....

Saturday, June 18, 2005

June 18

Today is Ekadesi, fasting day. Milk and fruits are only allowed apart from water. Ekadesi comes once every fifteen days and it is the 11 day after fullmoon and nomoon day. I bunked the gym today since my calorie intake is already low. It is medically proved and accepted by our doctors in the western world that fasting once in 15 days cleanses the body and blood. Definitely, every religion has its own science and our ancestors are not dumb, may be de denigrade their intelligence.

Sun never goes on vacation, I would like to summon him and request him to go on vacation for a week. He is always ready to spread and shine his radiance. Heat was unbearable, yet another 40+ deg C day. I didn't intend to do much this weekend either. I had emails from some of my friends and spent the morning replying to their emails.

Most of us dream, while a few of us chase our dreams and make it happen. My ex-colleague and a close friend left for Chicago last night. It was his long time ambition to make a trip to US, but after so many years of wait, he boarded the flight last night. This guy never gives up till the end, he is an epitome of perseverence. I am sure he must be really happy to have his dream materialize.

There is definitely something to be learnt from every one in this world. Another ex-colleague had emailed me from the US. Sheis going through a rough patch now. She had fractured her ribs and recuperating. She had gone through 10 years of Chemo radiations and gone through enough trauma, hospitalization, surgeries and more. Her emails as always are filled with energy and enthusiasm. She has taken up other hobbies in life amidst other health setbacks. I visited her when she hospitalized to have her cancerous femur removed. She was just out of recovery and she was laughing and cracking jokes while they brought her to the room. There is only optimism in her smile and there are only positive thoughts in her mind. She is a female Alexander, there is so much of courage and will power. She is a born warrior! Not everybody can be this way for ever. We all get caught in the loop of self pity if we are sick for a week, imagine someone going through a lot of health set backs for the past 10 years and still at the peak of enthusiasm and optimism. Body may give up, but the fighting spirit in the soul and mind keeps her going forever. She plays the game of life in a very interesting way. She loves every challenge thrown at her and I'm sure God himself is surprised the way she has played the game. I'm certain he will take care of her, but my prayer for her well being and speedy recovery will continue.

God has made each one of us with a purpose and an intent. We are all made different and blessed with something special. While some of us get in touch with the unique quality in us and make use of it, while some of us dont realize it. Life is always an interesting game to play as long as you remain a player and chase the ball till the whistle is blown.

I've learnt 2 things in life today
1. Be positive and play the game till the end
2. Hope, optimism, will power, and hardwork are the secrets behind my sucessful friends

Friday, June 17, 2005

June 17

I skipped the gym this morning and it felt really good to spend that extra hour in the bed. I was already in the weekend mood. Eyes half close, ears half open and lying down in the trans state is ecstacy. I could hear my mother talking to the milk vendor and the paper guy and I tossed and turned savouring my dreams and hearing their conversation. I pulled myself out of the bed and then settled for the newspaper and coffee. Nothing interesting in the paper, Thomas Freidman's (NY Times) column was missing.

I went for an annual medical examination today morning. As usual the heat wave was prevailed in the city. I was scared of the auto (tri-wheeled transport) fare, meters never run in the autos and even if they do they click faster than your heart.

Without much haggling, the auto driver settled in for 40 Rs, though he started at 50 Rs. Luckily the wait was not that long at the clinic. Lot of them were youngsters and most of them had come there for a pre-employment medical exam. The guy who drew the blood sample was very gentle and I never even realised the prick, I mean the needle prick for all dirty minds!

I stepped in at work for a few hours and there was nothing urgent. Went through the mail clutter and decided to call it a day. My boss sat in that room and as I got in the office he looked at the clock on the wall. Gone are those days when I used to feel threatend. I am on my way to the gym. Planning to burn alteast 500 calories and work on my chest and biceps. I did my fitness test yesterday and I was really fit. Pretty decent, now that I am approaching my 31st birthday.

Some days are just soggy and drabby. There is nothing interesting today and the city has a few good movies playing. Tickets for the weekends are booked in advance and there is no availability for the next 3 weeks. Nothing great on the concert front either. May be I will use this weekend to file my taxes and do the financial planning and goal setting for this year.

What are your plans? Drop in a few lines, if you got a few minutes for this friend.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Dated Forever!!

Life has been kind of flat for a while now, lol! after that Tsunami. I've decided to settle down in this job. It pays well and I don't have to stretch or do weekends. I have been very ambitious in life before and jumped jobs for better prospect and mostly for a challenging position and growth opportunties. But challenging positions come with a lot of add-ons and they have made my hair to turn grey and a fewer in number. Stress levels have hit the roof and sometimes I come home a disgruntled man. I've realized that I cannot change the world nor the people around, but I can change myself and the climate that I live in. I have taken life to be an easy game, it is not a race track and neither am I Schumacher. Work is a 9am-6pm hobby and a necessary evil. I've decided to invest more time on hobbies that would keep me healthy, happy and contended. Planning to take up advanced courses in Yoga, Astrology, Ayurveda. Not all at the same time, but one by one. This will keep me busy after I come back from work and in the weekends. I have some more temples to visit in the neighboring states. Once the heat wave subsides, I plan to get out and do some trotting.

It has been 3 years since my move back to India. I have brought back great experiences, worthy friendships, close to heart relationships. When I close my eyes at night, I think of those days there in the US. I long for it and tear for it, but will keep praying for 1 more opportunity to meet them and let them know how much I miss them. It is a wonderful place and people are really awesome. God always likes to tease, the more you like it, the more farther you get away from it. Well you are always in my heart and thoughts.

June 16

Heat is just driving Chennaiites nuts. Southwest monsoon has arrived and west coast of India is getting some good amount of rainfall. It is quite toasty out here. We are done with the peak summer, yet the mercury refuses to come down below 40 deg C.

We had power outage couple of days back, imagine 40 deg C temperature and nights without electricity. Yet life goes on and there is no excuse to step on the brakes..... Heat is taking a toll on patience. Sunrise brings light, fresh energy and people get irkesome.

A trip on the local "Pallavan" bus will expose the impact of summer. The conductor shoves you to the middle of the bus and showers a few abuses if u stare back at him, we have college kids travelling on footboard. Poor school kids were waiting in the hot sun at 7.45am adorned in thick cotton school uniforms, 5 kg backpack, well oiled hair and clean canvas shoes.

The mango season is halfway through. Alphonso and other yummy varieties were avialable in plenty this year we've been able to get them at an affordable price.

Chennai traffic has been bulging and we can feel the long wait and one ways now in the city. But the city is not as bad as Bangalore, but guess the Government should start to put plans to ease the situation. I guess this is what happens when work from Silicon Valley gets moved overseas. Affordability has gone up and more people drive around in cars and hence infrastructure needs a relook.

Tamilnadu government is planning for a tube rail that runs in the downtown (T'nagar, Mount Road, Nandanam). It would be a welcome for the commuters.

I am planning to walk to the local Shiva temple in the evening, today is Thursday and time to propitiate Jupiter. Let me pray for rain, shine, patience, better infrastructure and lighter backpacks.