Gone for days…

I have been out of blogs for more than a week now. The reason being that I have undergone a minor ear surgery to correct some problem that I have had for years. Its been corrected and from what I understand from the doctor, I will take a month to recuperate. 

Anyways, I will immediately follow this with a blog on something that I find quiet interesting in the past few days… 

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Nano or Vano

Tata Groups is one of the most renowned groups in India. Off late, with its expansion & acquisition plans abroad, it is making its presence felt worldwide. Looking at their history, we can easily figure out that they have been achieving things that were regarded as “unachievable”. Be it the Tata Steel, Taj Hotels, Tata Motors or TCS; Tata’s have always been the first of its kind in India and in some cases the world over.

Tata’s were regarded as excellent entrepreneurs with high “social responsibility”. For example, history of Tata Steel conveys many unique traits that depict their social responsibilities. Tata Steel introduced

  • 8-hour work day as early as in 1912 when only a 12-hour work day was the legal requirement in Britain
  • Leave-with-pay in 1920, a practice that became legally binding upon employers in India only in 1945.
  • A Provident Fund for its employees as early as in 1920, which became a law for all employers under the Provident Fund Act only in 1952.

Tata Steel’s furnaces have never been disrupted on account of a labour strike and this is an enviable record considering its presence for more than a century now.

Tata’s were the one to setup India’s First Luxury Hotel (Taj). They brought IT industry (TCS) to India and introduced onsite-offshore model which is providing jobs for millions of engineers now. They introduced one of India’s first multinational companies (Tata Tea Limited) which became the world’s second largest global branded tea operation with product and brand presence in 40 countries. They also introduce the first “All Indian Car” (Tata Indica).

Their current venture is to commercialize the much-awaited and much-talked-about “Tata Nano” or “The One Lac Car”. It takes more than just a dream and huge money to bring in such a revolution. It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, endless research, innovation, huge investment and above all perseverance to transform such a Vision into Reality. The question is, “Is it going to be a reality?” I am sure that they can make it happen but the timeline (Oct 2008) is what I am not really sure about.

When we look at all the chaos that surrounded the Singur Plant and its land acquisition, we can clearly say one requires more than the above said qualities to formulate things to happen.

What was the problem? Do you think Mamata Banerjee doesn’t want West Bengal to be industrialized? She is known for opposing industrialization. Even in 2005, she protested against Salim Groups huge investment in WB. But in my opinion, I don’t think she has non-industrialization policy in mind.

I think no politician would intent to stop industrialization. They would be looking at more and more industries for the state’s growth. If not for the state’s growth, it will surely, at some point in time, turn out to be monetary benefit for them.

Then, why should she protest? I am sure it is not about her vetted interest on the farmers. She might have wanted to get some visibility and public prejudice for the next election. I am not really sure how much of votes she has won/lost by this action/trick.

I am in total agreement with the idea that it is the wish of the landowner to sell or not sell their lands. But how pragmatic is it to consider individual owner’s wish, when the government needs to acquire such huge landscape for good cause? I am sure such problems are there in all the SEZ’s setup in the country. There will be at least one landowner who will not be readily willing to let go his land. Government (of course with the help of party workers) will have to threaten them for successful acquisition. Unfortunately, in this case, the protest went overboard to the extent of totally shutting down the plant operations for more than a week now.

When we think logically, it is not going to be very feasible for farmers to cultivate in those lands, if construction works have already started on them. For those who require better compensation, they can sit and negotiate and I think they should get it. Regardless of whatever be it, the government will have to settle this issue either by providing more money or through some other means. If they want to handle it politically, they can think of some huge sum for the politicians involved in the protest and get them off the race. That would leave the farmers “unarmed” and open up an easy way to tackle them individually.

I strongly feel that Tata’s and the State Govt. did not take Mamata seriously. They should have settled this issue even before starting any work on the plant. Now that a huge investment is already made, it is very unlikely to pullout and if in case it is pulled out, it will prove to be an expensive decision. Somehow Tata’s have not been as efficient as Reliance in handling politicians. “Handling politicians” is a crucial for any corporate to survive and grow in this country.

Anyway, what next? Governor’s intervention and negotiations have brought down the agitation and politicians are off the battle now. “We need to give some to take some” – Tata’s need to understand this and think about giving back at least some portion of the land. I am sure there is always more than one possible solution. Tata’s can let go some portion of land and still can achieve the goal. I don’t think alternate solution is impossible – it’s just that they don’t want to think of one.

Tata’s – you can handle any situation. Just be judicious and do what it takes to bring your Nano into reality. Let’s cut down our (future customer’s) long wait and provide us with your engineering marvel; let the world ponder.

You can count me as one of your future customers for sure.

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“BREAD & butter” – it is…

Hurricane Gustav had a huge impact, not just on the life of the costal residents but also on the crude prices and world economy. I too have got some very fond hurricane memories. Hurricane is not something familiar to Indians as there is hardly any chance of it in India. But USA is more prone to hurricane and often experiences major disasters. Meteorology department in US is well developed and equipped to predict the intense and location of the hurricane in advance. Often times their prediction is close and surely it helps the government to plan in advance to reduce the human loss and to prepare themselves for post hurricane rescue cum rehabilitation operations. Louisiana, Florida, Texas and other coastal areas will be affected by series of hurricanes during monsoon season.

Katrina (of course not our K Kaif) was so far the most disastrous hurricane of this decade (Aug 2005), which left 80% of New Orleans, Louisiana flooded. It was worst as it broke the levee and flood wall constructed by US Army Corps of Engineers and engulfed over 1500 lives. Next was Hurricane Rita (Sept 2005), which was supposed to be the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded.

I was in San Antonio, Texas during 2005 Hurricane season. Although Texas has a large costal presence, San Antonio is well interior and so it very less prone to being affected by hurricane. Earlier reports of Hurricane Rita hinted that the hurricane being a category 5 will surely have an indirect effect in San Antonio. We were told that the city might be flooded and thereby there are chances of “no electricity”, “no water” situation.

We (me and my roommates) thought “What’s big deal? We will not have power, we will not have water.” But later we realized that it is not going to be possible to go out because of flood and we cannot cook because electricity will not be there and so our electric stove, which is the only form of stove there, will not work. We were also informed that water cans are getting sold out in the nearby WalMart and H.E.B. Wow… what a challenge? But above all we were fascinated because we will not have to go to work till the flood recedes.

What do we do? We planned. Equip ourselves with enough food to eat, water to drink, candles to see and cards to play poker so that we can invite our friends and spend the few days of vacation effectively. We (me and one of my roommates) went on a mission named “Rita purchase”. First we went to WalMart, where we found no water and so we took a course to a nearby H.E.B. As always, we had no list in our mind and we went taking all that we felt like getting.

Mission “Rita Purchase” took back home the items which includes but not restricted to the following list. 

  • 8 loafs of bread
  • 3 different Jams
  • 2 different spreads
  • 6 candles (scented candles ‘cos ordinary candles were unavailable)
  • a pack of lighter (contains 6nos) – ofcourse for lighting the candles
  • 2 match boxes – a backup – just in case
  • 3 packs of plastic cards
  • half-a-dozen of each of apples, tangerines, banana
  • strawberry pack
  • couple of packs of muffins (12nos each)
  • 4 different cookies
  • flavored water cans (12nos of 1 liter cans) – peach flavor – didn’t have any other choice,
  • etc.  – it’s 3years now and i sure forgot what all we purchased

The bill came to $200. We did not stop there. Our next stop was Krispy Kreme for a dozen doughnuts.

Having spent a hefty amount, we were disappointed when Rita took a turn and went past Galveston making no impact to San Antonio. All the hype was gone and we had to go to office the very next day.

What next?

We ate only bread and bread related food for the next one week to 10 days. Items like bread sandwich, bread with jam, bread with butter and not just that. Innovative recipes like bread sambar, bread uppuma, bread thovayal, bread poriyal also made it to the list. The best part was we had 4 loafs of “sweet” bread which we used for some of these items – funny taste, but who cares.

We sure know what the phrase “Bread & Butter” means… Bread & butter it was…

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Rural Selection…

For a true Indian, “patriotism” reflects in their loyalty in supporting “Indian Cricket Team” in all their matches. Their loyalty doesn’t go outside of Cricket and that has become a recent trend. They don’t care when a college student dies in a marathon race organized for a good cause, but surely they do care when Dhoni misses a game or Sachin is injured and out of tournament. Anyways we know what we are (I am no exception). Anyways, that is not what I am going to be talking about…

Recently India, for the first time in the history of cricket, won a series against Srilanka in Srilanka. Applause… and more of standing ovation. Even so, we lamely lost the last match of this series. Shame…

In a causal analysis, BCCI found that the team lags consistency. The selection committee was also informed that there are lots of talents out there in the usual mass, in particular in rural areas, which we can explore, for better results. So the selection committee decided to go on for a field trip to rural parts of the country to try and find some young and consistent talent.

They finally found one, whose matches they watched for a week and decided to bring him to the team after a little interview. The rural player was called for an interview just for the sake of it…

Interview went like this

Selection Committee member (SC): How do you feel when you are out there in the middle to do the job?

Rural Person (RP): I feel I am responsible for getting the right result. So, I tend to be more “focused” and pay “full attention” without any diversion. One needs to stay focused to get the correct and desired result.

SC: I agree. “Focus” is more important. But what about “Style”? Don’t you think “Style” is also vital?

RP: Yes, absolutely vital because “Style” differentiates one from the rest of the crowd.

SC: What about M.S. Dhoni? People sometimes complain about his style.

RP: In my perspective, everyone has got their own style. There is no problem in Dhoni’s style. Some people won’t like it; that doesn’t mean he is not stylish. Anyways, he has changed a lot from what he was. I like both his current as well as his earlier styles.

SC: Good to know that you have watched Dhoni so closely.

RP: I do watch Dhoni a lot, for his styles. He sport different styles at different time. In fact I adore his stylish “Cut” and try it out whenever possible. Friends like it because I cut exactly like him.

SC: Oooh. That’s amazing to know. We have not watched his cuts so closely. We felt he is just doing whatever he can and never observed his cutting style. Good that you are trying to learn from others.

RP: Learning from self mistakes and learning from others are two important things. If I don’t learn from my mistakes, then I will never improve and may be that will become the end of my carrier. If I learn from others, I will have more varieties.

SC: I have no choice but to agree to you. You seem to observe people a lot. What’s your opinion about Shewag?

RP: I think he doesn’t care about anything. When I saw him initially, I thought it was Sachin who’s standing there. He used to have exact same style like Sachin. But when you look at him now, there is hardly any resemblance of Sachin. I think he doesn’t care about losing.

SC: I understand what you are saying. Sometimes people say he is a carefree person.

RP: Hmm… (chuckles in satisfaction because his point was taken yet again)

SC: I think you are good in cutting. Can you tell me about your sweeping skills? I think that is also very crucial.

RP: Very, very crucial indeed! A clean sweep is something that I always resort to. Sometimes my friends funnily comment I am better sweeper than a cutter. I tell them that just cutting, cutting and endless cutting might land me in a mess, if I don’t sweep at least once in a while. I feel one should know everything to do a job.

SC: That is very logical.

………

Interview went on and on. Only thing is that the rural person, being a barber, presumed that he was called for an interview for the post of a “barber” in some luxury hotel. Now, if you have more time, go back and reread the interview… J

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BIG Achievement

Am going to talk about one of the recent achievements, which is to be recorded in “Guinness book of World Records”. An achievement that is special in various aspects. It stands as an example of an individual’s dedication, hard work, and attitude and above all team work and team support.

A sleepless night means a catastrophic next day for me. I just can’t be awake for half the night, leave alone the entire night. As soon as my sleep clock strikes, I will start sleeping and sometimes even before it strikes. Any physical problem in the world will mostly be associated with “sleep”. Dark circles, hair fall, blood pressure, obesity and any other disease will have a remote cause “improper sleep”. Sound sleep is very essential for human beings well being. Here, one guy has achieved something by not sleeping for 168 continuous hours.

Shocking!!!

Is it possible at all? Is it not very difficult? I had these questions and thought of asking the mass about their sleep routines. Presumably, they might have the following responses

College student: I don’t think it is possible for 168hrs. But I can stay awake for one whole night, provided I have a pack of cigar and “my favorite colored” film screened in my computer.

Lower middle class father of aforementioned student: I myself don’t get a sound sleep. I sleep for 2-3hrs a night; otherwise I will not be able to do my job properly the next day. My son is doing his college and once he completes, he will probably get an IT job, after which, I can take good rest.

Owner of “Lakshmi Provisional Stores” (otherwise fondly called as “natar kadai”): I open my shop at 8am and close it by 11pm. Once I reach home, I will have to think of my inventory management and other transactions. I hardly get a sound sleep.

Person @ coimbedu supermarket shop: Supplies will reach here at midnight and I will be busy unloading it in godown. The sales start early in the morning and spans well past afternoon. I take a nap in the evening and have to start cleaning the godown for the next supplies. It’s a routine every day.

Heavy vehicle driver (they often drive at night): We will have to drive over night. Our sleep depends on our time targets; some will have a stringent deadline and some doesn’t. But regardless, sleep is very essential for us, otherwise there will be more accidents.

Just Married: One can manage to stay awake for a max of two nights. Beyond that it’s very tiring and not sure if it is possible.

A happening film actress: Sometimes we will have many projects to work on and we will stay awake for probably 2-3days with little on-the-sets break time naps.

Age old politician holding a prominent position: We have lots of issues and people to tackle. It becomes increasingly difficult to handle everything within 24hrs time. Our best sleeps are when we are not in power because we will be the source (or the problem) and not destination.

Lethargic government employee: I don’t think I can be awake even at day time. I sleep at least 6hrs during the day to keep myself fit so that I can perform my duties better.

School student (12th): I sleep for 5-6hrs a day and I think that is essential. It’s only during the exams I can push myself a little further for my late night and early morning studies.

Middle class mother of aforementioned student: I sleep when my kid sleeps but I keep gazing at the clock once in a while to keep track of the time; I had to awake my kid in the morning. I don’t get a sound sleep at night and I know it’s just for this year.

From these mixed responses, I think that there are people who sleep very less. Given a challenge and some fancy monetary benefits, they seem to be capable of pushing themselves to achieve 168 continuous sleepless hours or even more.

Jokes apart, it is surely not an easy task to be awake and be conscious for a continuous 168hrs and on top of it “Radio Jockeying“. Kudos to RJ BIG Dheena of “BIG 92.7 FM” for such an achievement. He sure has a character in him that gave this temperament.

What did he do? Italian RJ Stefano Venneri made it to the Guinness Book of world records by continuously RJ-ing for 135hrs. RJ Dheena of BIG FM broke this record and set a new record of 168hrs. Isn’t that a great effort? Doesn’t he require a huge round of applause for this herculean task? Yes, he does and here he gets it. Clap… clap… clap… with all my two (of course) hands sounding like a thunder from the mid-night sky caused because of the impossible Bay of Bengal hurricane named “Saravanan”

I, for once, listened to the radio for at least 3hours a day just because I wanted to recognize this huge effort. My recognition doesn’t mean anything to Dheena who had earned millions of fans in this endeavor. But, I felt something great about it and I thought whenever I get time, I should really listen to him as a tribute to his endeavor. Sure I spent those few hours for him, sometimes even making my wife listen to it. This is max that I could do although I thought of calling him but didn’t.

Great achievement, Dheena; I wish you to achieve more and more and above all have a peaceful and rewarding life. Henceforth sleep well and take good care of yourself.

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S(R)amayana

Swayamvara – a practice in olden days for choosing a “Life Partner” for a girl. Father of the girl arranges for a Swayamvara on an auspicious day & time and spreads the message out. The marriageable girl gets to choose her husband from a list of suitors present on that day. Often times, it so happens, that the girl and her father will evaluate the suitors by conducting a tough competition. The girl will garland the one who succeeds in it.

In Ramayama, King Janakar arranged a Swayamvara for her daughter Sita. The competition was to lift the Shiv Dhanush from the table and string it. Rama lifted the bow and in the process of stringing it, he ended up breaking it. Eventually, Sita garlanded Rama and they became “Life partners”.

 

Similar incidents happened even in Mahabaratha where Arjuna was challenged to hit a fish’s eye with a bow and arrow by looking at the fish’s reflection in the water. He won the challenge and married Draupadi.

 

Let’s look at 21st Century Swayamvara…

Janakaraj – Father of the Bride
Dasarath – Father of Bride groom
Sam (or Sampath) – Bride groom
Tika (or Tilakavathy) – Bride

Scene 1:
[Between Janakaraj and Tika @ their residence in Chennai]

Janakaraj: O my dearest daughter Tika, I think it is time to for you to get married.

Tika: Father, I have just completed my college. I am just 22.

Janakaraj: Did you not read in the autos “pennin thirumana vayathu 21”? You have gone past that age. It becomes my responsibility to get you married.

Tika: Ok my dearest father. If you feel so, I will get married.

Janakaraj: Dear daughter, I know you are a nice girl just like your mother. But still I want to know if you have someone in mind.

Tika: O my father – the paradigm of middle class. I being very finicky, there are hardly any choices available; I have not found anyone interesting. You need to take care of finding someone for me.

Janakaraj: That is my pleasure, my young daughter. Here I have, a list of eligible guys whose photos I have inside this G.R.T. polythene cover. You can select from the list.

Tika: O my sweet pa pa. Thank you.

Scene 2:
[Between Sam and Dasarath over phone. Sam is in US and Dasarath is in Chennai]

Dasarath: O my son in US. How are you doing? How is the climate now? Is it still snowing?

Sam: O my father, I am doing great. It finally stopped snowing.

Dasarath: Son, I want you to get married when you come back. I have got a list of girls from which you can choose one.

Sam: Great father, paradigm of “converted” upper-middle-class from lower-middle-class. Send me the photos of these girls along with their resume.

Dasarath: I will have your younger brother Max (Masilamani) send it to you in email.

Sam: Thanks father. I will short list them and let you know through email.

Dasarath: Good my dear son. We will fix appointment with the parents of the shortlisted girls. When you come over here, we can see the girls in person and finalize.

Sam: That sounds great my dear father. Let them know clearly that I will be there in India for just 3 weeks within which the wedding should be completed.

Dasarath: O the architect of XYZ systems, NY, USA; What about the betrothal?

Sam: O my genius father, betrothal can happen just a week in advance. BTW, I need to stay in India at least a week after the marriage.

Dasarath: Why? my intelligent son. You can have your honeymoon in Niagara.

Sam:  My dearest father, that week is for processing the Visa for my wife.

Dasarath: Okay! I understand my dear son. We will make sure you have one week after wedding. You come over here.

 

After the call, Sam shortlisted 4 girls, based on criteria like: availability of passport, dowry, college of study (to guess on their English skills), orkut friends count (to guess on the character), cooking skills and last but not the least the appearance. The list was emailed to his brother Max who gave it to Dasarath for further processing. Simultaneously, Sam started interacting with all the 4 girls in orkut to get to know them.

When Sam came back to India, he saw all the 4 girls on the same day, one after the other.  Just before entering into Tika’s house (4th girl), Sam saw her standing in the balcony; “Sam-mum nokinaan – Tika-vum nokinaal”.

Janakaraj wanted to evaluate Sam and so he had asked Tika’s cousin to bring a bunch of Java books and kept it in the hallway book shelf. The idea was to see if Sam gets attracted towards them and has any comments to offer. This way Janakaraj will know Sam’s Java skills and thereby his job assurance in US. Sam entered the house and after a cup of coffee saw these Java books and said, “Ooh Java books! I like and often refer to “Java Complete Reference” because it covers everything in Java”. Janakaraj gazed at Tika’s cousin for opinion, who nodded his head to mean “YES”.

The betrothal happened the very next day because Wednesday was considered auspicious (pon kidachalum puthan kidaikathu). Wedding was planned for the next weekend, so that there was one more week left for them to get Visa for Tika to travel.

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Happy Birthday Chennai

It was Chennai’s Birthday on 22nd of this month. I was supposed to publish this post on that day but failed. So here comes the post, though it’s late; this is what I have.

I was born and brought up in Chennai and so have a very strong attachment to it. Chennai currently stands for dense population, heavy traffic, pollution, hot sun, scarce water, IT industry, etc. The current picture of Chennai is alarming to me because I have seen Chennai for the past (don’t expect me to say my ageJ ) so many years and I know Chennai originally did not stand for any of these. I have been witnessing the transformation of Chennai from a so called “Metropolitan City” to an actual “Metropolitan City”. All the above factors are inevitable associations of any metropolitan city in any part of the work and Chennai is no exception.

  • Messy roads to many flyovers;
  • Ponnamalle high road to six lane NH4
  • 14 Storied LIC to 29 storied Arihant Majestic Towers in Koyambedu;
  • Noisy PTC to A/C MTC;
  • Meter gauge trains to MRTS;
  • Ayakar Bhavan Income Tax (IT) office to SEZ driven Information Technology (IT) parks;
  • Doveton Café parathas to Domino’s double-cheese margaritas;
  • Scary nights to populous nights;
  • Water scarcity to water bottles;
  • Foot board travels to Ford Fiesta cars;

Above are some of the changes that I could think of. There are so many things that changed and maintaining a change log would require millions of terabytes of secondary storage.

To be true, I enjoyed Chennai a lot during my school days. Especially the water logged roads on rainy season. I never miss to go to school when it rains, even though I know for sure that it will be a holiday. I never quitted from talking a walk — even if the friction between the madras mud and my own skin caused rashes.

Commuting to school and college in the jam-packed PTC (and later MTC) busses was considered the best & efficient ways of spending spare time. Foot board travels are considered to be the safest as there will be hardly any oxygen inside the busses. MTC busses are meant to disprove the basic medical science discovery. It proves that human being can survive without oxygen for long.

When M.A. Chidambaram stadium sports an ODI match – it used to be holiday for Chennai District (of course not any more). When international teams compete, we play our own cricket in a playground where at least 10 other matches will be played simultaneously. Getting a pitch (15-22 X 3 feet) free space in the ground is a big deal and so we have our representatives (vociferous guy) occupy it from the early morning itself.

In late 1980’s, I had the privilege of walking in a “no man” Ranganathan Street of T-Nagar. Now, it can happen only in dreams. Back then, there were hardly any major shops, although all the current big banners shops were having a miniature shop in that area. I could see the entire change that these shops went through in the past 2 decades.

The number of bicycles back then have fully transformed into bike and in some cases cars. I used to ride in a bicycle, even if I had to travel for 20kms. I was always a joy riding because absence of pollution, which is a rarity now. We used to go in a group of 5, 10 or even 15 and take a ride roaring like lions.

Chennai sure has changed (or should I say developed) a lot and this current generations are missing a lot of fun that we used to have a decade or two earlier. But all these changes are good because “change is the only constant in life”

Anyways, Happy Birthday Chennai.

Long live and develop more; for I have a life to live and to witness you develop.

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