27 December 2007

Balance

I'm not the first to rail against life's injustice
And I will not be the last.
But when I set out to do the math,
The balance left me aghast!

A forgettable childhood with few good memories,
A comfortable life with easy repast,
An understanding brother, a devoted friend,
The only legacy from my past.

Admirers galore, my share of second looks,
College life, in a flurry, it passed.
Happy-go-lucky and cheery outlook
Helped me make friendships that last.

A sharp intellect and sound genes
Made education a blast.
Some good luck in my work life
Brought me opportunities vast.

Prolonged wooing and a quick wedding,
To my sail, my hubby is the mast.
Got the best gift of my life
Without even trying, at long last.

Traveled to lands afar,
Got to know the world is vast.
A foreign stint, a timely return
My country's soil I hold fast.

A naive nature, a candid tongue
An easy target for people fast;
A forgiving heart and a short memory
I am programmed to outlast!

Wisdom and maturity
Learned through struggles past;
In the role of a mentor
I am eternally miscast.

A lot achieved so far,
Some more to go in my dreams vast,
Blessed am I in spite of my struggles;
Until next I sit to lambaste!

- Ni.Shi (yours truly)

26 December 2007

Small things...

I have been in an introspective mood these last few days. Perhaps that is why I feel the need to pen down my thoughts on this blog in such rapid succession.

I find that little things in life have the power to give one much pleasure-

  • The smile on my neighbour's child's face when I gifted him a toy unexpectedly.
  • The look of satisfaction on my hubby's face when I went to see his favorite movie even though I didn't expect to like it much myself.
  • The look of wonder on my dad's face when I typed an important and lengthy email for him in 5 minutes (supersonic speed by his standard).
  • The pleasure of having learned something new on my mother's face when I taught her how to reply to an email.
  • The happiness a stranger feels when a child smiles and reaches out to him / her as a gesture of trust & acceptance.
  • The pride in a parent's eye when his/her son or daughter(no matter how old) is praised or lauded unexpectedly.
  • The feeling of being lucky when one reaches one's destination much ahead of anticipated time after a long journey.
  • The look of pleased surprise on your parent's face when you gift them their favorite old-time actor's autobiography or a VCD of their favorite songs.
  • The feeling of contentment when all ones' dear ones get along harmoniously like a well-oiled machine.

Visit to my hometown

I had been to visit my parents' place(maika) in Baroda with my husband over the Christmas holidays after more than a year. The visit was short and planned quite suddenly. However, it was among my best times ever spent in Baroda ever since I left it a decade ago. The journey both ways was shorter than expected. I met some old friends, spent a lot of quality time with my parents and also got to relax and be pampered for a change! I think what helped is that there were no undercurrents or tension involved in this visit.

I got to see Baroda in a new light. It has changed quite a bit over the years. New and fancy buildings are cropping up everywhere eating up a lot of empty spaces. Lot of malls and restaurants have sprung up. The festive occasion of Christmas had people teeming on the streets, movie theatres, malls as well as restaurants. Though the mall and multiplex culture is not as rampant here as in the metros, it is catching up fast. I've never seen such crowds or traffic jams in Baroda before. Never were Xmas celebrations so obvious in the city as they were this year. One could see a Santa Claus at every corner, the entire city was out having fun on the evening on Dec 25. So much so, that our neighbour's son found a Xmas gift from Santa under his pillow on Xmas morning! It was surprising considering that they are a conservative Vaishav Gujarati family!

Inspite of this change, I love that the people of Baroda are still rather simple and homely. It is basically a quaint royal city with a lot of history and therefore rooted in conservatism. There are a lot of snacks/chat joints & coffee shops for college crowds, but the Barodians are inherently not foodies unlike the Puneris. Of course, some things still have not changed - such as things are still a bit disorganized and chaotic. The parking on the road-side is pathetic and the city could do with some major spring cleaning. It was the time of election counting during my visit and there was palpable tension on the streets as to the outcome. There are clear Modi and anti-Modi camps and there was a lot of speculation as to the results. Though I never take much interest in politics, this was something I garnered from the bits and pieces picked up from newspapers, media, conversations with friends and acqaintances and word on the street.

The shopping complexes of Baroda still tempt me and I do most of my shopping there. I love the fact that you enter one complex and can find a shop there for almost anything at reasonable prices. And oh yes, nothing beats the chat of Baroda and the sweet n savory shop named "Payal"!

All in all, this visit reconnected me to my hometown and helped me look at it more objectively this time.

20 November 2007

Life is Beautiful

Yesterday, I saw the movie Life is Beautiful on Star Movies.

I had heard of this movie earlier from my friends and have wanted to see it for a long time. Nevertheless, the movie still managed to touch me. It is set in the times of the Holocaust where an Jewish-Italian family is whisked off to a Nazi concentration camp. The father and son end up together. The father has a ready wit and the ability to see the positive side in the darkest of situations. He keeps his son entertained throughout the gruelling tenure at the concentration camp by telling him that this all a big game and every hardship endured would gain them precious points toward winning the game.

The movie set me thinking that Life is indeed beautiful. No matter how many hardships one has to face, if one has the right attitude and keeps smiling through them all, one can sail through them all smoothly. Humor and the ability to see the positive side of things are powerful weapons. They shield one from depression and negativity and provide the motivation to keep going from day to day.

13 November 2007

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall...

Ever since we got married a few years ago I and my husband have been debating this topic. Even today we have not been able to lay this argument to rest. What you may ask am I talking about? The eternal war of the sexes - who is better, men or women?

My husband has this rosy image about women - that they are good, peace-loving, salt-of-the-earth and harmless. Whereas, men according to him, can be ruthless, arrogant, shallow, violent and sinful. I, on the contrary, firmly believed that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Women can be petty, vindictive and experts at playing mind games whereas men can be naughty and mis-behaved sometimes but are really boys are heart and putty in the hands of clever women.

Over the years, both of us have developed a slightly more tolerant view towards our own sex. Now my hubby agrees that women can be as bad as men or even worse. I, on the other hand, have learned that men have been masters at manipulation tactics since history and continue to be the same. I guess we were both young when we got married and have interacted with more people since then to gain a more realistic perspective.

What surprises me still though is that we humans tend to prejudge individuals based on their gender. Every individual is basically a product of his/her genes, upbringing, family background, education and the experiences he/she undergoes in life. Since none of these are common for anyone, no 2 people can be alike. Why then do we compartmentalize people according to sex, religion, race, caste, community, state, country etc? Why are we always in a hurry to stereotype every new person we interact with? Any thoughts?

12 November 2007

Om Shanti Om - Bold & Beautiful!

Farah Khan does it again. She is a lady with a lot of brains and guts. For it was an intelligent, as well as a risky, move to make a movie with hardly any plot yet to keep everyone glued to their seats till the very end.

Om Shanti OM(OSO) is a witty parody (tribute ?) to hindi filmdom of last 30 years. It is a celebration of all that is part and parcel of hindi film-making - the tired cliches, the bizarre song sequences, the unnecessary item numbers, the wafer-thin plots, the shallow award functions, the idiosyncracies of the filmi folks; infact - the works! I'd like to add yet another attribute to Farah's brand of filmmaking - whole-hearted. Farah's wicked sense of humor and zany wit comes across through minute details such as the Filmfare awards function, the celebrities' comments on the red carpet, Shah Rukh's rendition of South Indian film heroes, Kirron Kher's rendition of the typical filmy ma, the Mohabbat Man, the banal punar janam and badla plot, the remake angle etc. Even Shreyas Talpade's comment to SRK that he needs to add a Kumar, Kapoor or Khanna to his name in order to be a superstar!

Hats off to the sporting spirit of Shabana Azmi ("This function is being hosted after removing a slum and I'm here to protest that!"), Karan Johar ("Heeron ki pehchaan to sirf johari ko hoti hai aur Hero ki pehchaan sirf Johar ko hai!"), Akshay Kumar (The scene where he reacts violently to losing out on the Best Actor Award to SRK), Abhishek Bachhan (Shown to be an arrogant actor who starts walking to collect the award even before the winner is announced) & Shah Rukh Khan (made a joke about one of his films - Phir bhi dil hai NRI)

And now for the performances. Deepika Padukone is indeed fortunate to get such a colorful platform for her debut. She does ample justice to it too. She looks good in all the costumes (the 70's as well as the latest), dances like a dream and looks breath-taking most of the time. Hers is indeed a face to launch a thousand ships. She has acted well for a first time effort and lends good support to the plot, however superstar material she is not. Arjun Rampal, as the suave villian, has proved yet again that he is an actor whose full potential is yet to be tapped. He is also very good-looking in the film! Shreyas Talpade as the protagonist's well-wishing friend and Kirron Kher as the mother have given able performances as usual. And lastly, what can I say about King Khan that hasn't been said already? He is brilliant in both the roles and what's more, he has a hot body to boot! He is perhaps the only actor today who could have carried off this role with such elan and conviction. The only thing lacking perhaps is the chemistry between him and Deepika. But then, when has that ever been a criteria for a Hindi film to succeed?!

A couple of things worth mentioning are the title track and Akshay Kumar's khiladi action. The latter is really naughty. Almost the entire film industry has been roped in for the title song. What's more, they all have different steps and equal footage throughout the song. Kudos to Farah for bringing this about - it must have been tough to manage all their dates and to plan their entry and steps for the song sequence. Must admit that Farah gives due credit and footage to all the technical and support staff alongwith the actors at the end of her films. This is something really unique and note-worthy of her 2 films till now.

All in all, a very bold attempt by Farah and Gauri Khan(producer). Worth a watch once and completely paisa-wasool. However, next time be sure to come up with something original, Farah, else people will get something to talk about!

08 November 2007

Whatever your cross

This is an inspiring poem that I came across and would like to share with all -

Whatever your cross,
whatever your pain,
there will always be sunshine,
after the rain ....

Perhaps you may stumble,
perhaps even fall,
But God's always ready,
To answer your call ...

He knows every heartache,
sees every tear,
A word from His lips,
can calm every fear ...

Your sorrows may linger,
throughout the night,
But suddenly vanish,
in dawn's early light ...

The Savior is waiting,
somewhere above,
To give you His grace,
and send you His love...

Whatever your cross,
whatever your pain,
"God always sends rainbows ....
after the rain ... "

Company Policy

Ever wondered why certain policies don't make any sense yet have been there from time immemorial? Here is an interesting anecdote that explains it. It is strange how we humans tend to act like sheep sometimes - following the one in front of us blindly.

There was an interesting experiment that started with five monkeys in a cage. A banana hung inside the cage with a set of steps placed underneath it. After a while, a monkey went to the steps and started to climb towards the banana, but when he touched the steps, he set off a spray that soaked all the other monkeys with cold water. Another monkey tried to reach the banana with the same result. It didn’t take long for the monkeys to learn that the best way to stay dry was to prevent any monkey from attempting to reach the banana.

The next stage of the experiment was to remove the spray from the cage and to replace one of the monkeys with a new one. Of course, the new monkey saw the banana and went over to climb the steps. To his horror, the other monkeys attacked him. After another attempt, he learnt that if he touched the steps, he would be assaulted.Next, another of the original five was replaced with a new monkey. The newcomer went to the steps and was attacked. The previous newcomer joined in the attack with enthusiasm!Then, a third monkey was replaced with a new one and then a fourth. Every time a newcomer approached the steps, he was attacked. Most of the monkeys beating him had no idea why they were not allowed to climb the steps or why they were joining in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fifth monkey, none of the monkeys had ever been sprayed with water. Still, no monkey ever approached the steps. Why not? Because as far as they knew it was the way it had always been done around here... and that is how company policy begins.

Welcome to Athens!

I have often wondered why some people tend to be lucky - good things happen to them all the time and they seem to bump into all the good people. Whereas there are others who seem to end up with all the bad things. There is a reason for this. Following story explains it well:

Socrates was sitting outside of the gates of Athens when a man came up to him and said, ‘I am thinking about moving into Athens. Can you please tell me what it is like to live here?’ Socrates replied,’ I would be happy to tell you, but first would you please tell me what it was like in your previous home city?’

The man quickly roared, ‘Oh, it was awful. The people stab you in the back and rob you blind. I am not leaving any friends, only enemies.’ Socrates frowned and sadly continued,’ Well, you best be on your way because you will find the same thing here in Athens.'

A little while later another man stopped to speak to Socrates and inquired,’ I was considering moving here to Athens. Can you tell me what it is like to live here?’ Socrates again replied,’ I would be happy to tell you, but first would you please tell me what it was like in your previous home city?’

The man smiled and said, “Where I come from, the people all work together and help each other. Kindness is everywhere and you are never treated with anything but the utmost respect.’ Welcome to Athens,’ smiled Socrates,’ You will find the same thing here.'

Detach

I hear a lot about IT folks working late hours or even on weekends to meet impossible deadlines and beat competition. Families of IT people are often heard complaining that they never get to meet their sons/daughters/spouses/dads/moms who are working in the IT fraternity. In fact, I would venture so far as to say that, in my time, if people wanted to break away from their worldly pleasures and bonds, they would take sanyaas and go to the Himalayas to meditate. These days, they just join the IT bandwagon!

And what is the result? Health problems, relationship problems, loneliness, depression, the list just goes on…All these factors take a toll on productivity at work and guess what happens then? Bingo, you tend to work even more hours!

Here are some guidelines to beat this vicious circle:

Leave work at work, and concentrate on private life when you are home. This will help in building and maintaining relationships with your family.

I remember a Zen story told to me once by my mother. Two Buddhists monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection. "Come on, girl," said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud. Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?" "I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"

Learn to detach yourself from work when you go home. If you work not far from home, take the long way home whenever possible. This will help you disconnect from the stress at work and don your private life role at home.

Learn to keep your cool. Remember the old, count to ten? This is needed right after you come home from work and feel like spouting off at family members at the slightest provocation.

If you have a demanding job as a boss at work, learn to leave your boss attitude at work. When you are not at work, you cannot always be so demanding of others. Bringing your boss attitude at home will cause power struggle fights with your spouse.

Leave the papers, books and similar items at work when you come home. Do not bring home extra work to do on your own time; this is invasion of your privacy and your private life. Bringing work home to do at nights or on weekends will leave you feeling drained and worn out the next day. A refreshing life is one that gives you free time to rejuvenate your batteries.

Changing your physical self, as in your clothes, putting your hair down, will help you feel more relaxed as you enter your private world for the evening.

Something that you may not realize about leaving work at work is that you also have to leave home at home. If you are having problems at home, leave it at home; other employees don’t want to hear about it. Giving yourselves boundaries with work and private life is going to allow you to be productive at both.

Decision making - an underrated skill

Today, there is an article in Sunday TOI about maids and the rising class divide in the Indian context. Yet another context is the manager ...