Monday, December 13, 2010

Lazy Bum

Yawn! Can't bring myself to writing this article I am supposed to give this week for a magazine. I have known the deadline for over a month, and now that deadline is here, I don't think I have enough time. Lazy me!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I was speaking with a friend today, when he mentioned that there are many days he asks himself if he actually is doing anything worthwhile. Has this MBA given us license only to think, and do nothing? Or in other words, has this MBA taken away our license to do, and perform just thinking? Are we good enough for powerpoint presentations only?

I don't completely agree with him, but don't disagree altogether either. I do understand that there are thinkers, there are doers, and then there are those who actually make things happen.

In a firm where I used to work earlier, my boss was believed to be an opinionated person. He was an MBA, ex-Mckinsey, had served as the head of a transnational high-impact organization, thereby gaining loads of exposure, and I admired him for what he had achieved. He once told me that I am a thinker, and I should become a doer. This post is not a measure of whether he was right or wrong about me at that time, but the point is, it did make me realize that not 'knowing' what you are 'thinking' should be 'done', can only work in the short term, if at all. In that discussion, I realized that doing is as important as thinking (and vice versa) - one of the key reasons why I quit to join another firm where I believed I will be much closer to 'doing' (and another key reason being the biking trip to Khardung La – covered here).

What I have realized is - there is a HUGE difference when it comes to thinkers vs doers. Doers do their fair share of thinking, but they do it on the fly; they think while they are doing. Let me break it down and let you decide which side of the track you are on. Are you on the side of the track where people get stuff done, or are you on the side where people think and dream about getting stuff done? It may sound confusing - what I am going to write now (primarily because even I am not clear what I mean).

Thinkers think that thinking is doing. They think that the act of thinking and “learning” is moving them closer to their end goal when in fact thinking (rather than doing) is blocking their progress. Thinkers know that they have to do in order to reach their goals, but they think that the act of thinking always precedes the act of doing. In reality, the act of thinking delays the act of doing. What thinkers don’t know is that the thinking that truly helps achieve goals is not really thinking at all (I know, I told you to bear with me). The thinking that helps achieve goals is actually doing in disguise. Thinking just to be thinking is counterproductive. It is when thinking becomes doing that thinking truly becomes productive. Do you think and learn just to do so? Or does your thinking and learning truly complement each other is the question!

Enough ‘thinking’ for the day – I should go and ‘do’ something – maybe ‘sleep’.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am not much of a reader; but I read whatever I can lay my hands on, or anything that comes recommended. From random articles on wiki to random blogs, there is much more than meets the eye in this world. While I've read Bhagavad Gita, Qu'ran and Bible, I don't really think there is much difference in what they are trying to preach. Language is different - essence is the same. And I do not really follow any of them blindly, one of the arguments given in one of the books is as follows:

According to injunctions, there are six kinds of aggressors:
1) a poison giver,
2) one who sets fire to the house,
3) one who attacks with deadly weapons,
4) one who plunders riches,
5) one who occupies another's land, and
6) one who kidnaps a wife.

Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors.

Again, I am not supporting or opposing the argument above - merely stating what has been mentioned. Where I find irony is, though all major books follow the above, the laws of the land do not suggest that an individual should take justice in his own hands. And while the basic premise of all judicial systems is one such text or the other, capital punishment still doesn't find favor with most of these courts.

Guess it's time I pick up something to read into the judicial system.

Latest movies

I have been quite a movie buff - having watched loads and loads of movies over last few years, having imdb to serve as the movie bible, having watched more than half of imdb top 250, having a collection of thousands of movies that I like in my hard disks - it is safe to say that I am inclined towards movies in general.

There are quite a few movies that I had seen in last year or so, which have sort of blacked out from my mind. I can remember bits and pieces of the storylines of a few of them here and there, but can't come to recall the names of the movies or the plots, or the endings for that matter. Was watching an animation last night, "How to train a dragon" - a fun movie.

Only after the movie had finished did I realize that I had already seen it early this year! Guess it's an overload of watching so many movies that I can't even remember which ones I have watched and which ones I haven't.

Personal pointer - keep a tab on what you watch! A few sitcoms can make the week smooth which enough media for the week. And then, wait for white collar in jan.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In the news

I am intrigued by the happenings in our surroundings today.

You open the television, and move to a news channel - and all there is playing is either a scam, or a political turmoil. At best, a happy news about India doing well on a specific day in Cricket, or one of the cricketing starts reaching yet another landmark! Of the current ones I can see on TV, there is a tainted CVC issue, some case of Supreme Court asking PM about clarifications on what he did or did not do when one of his ministers was distributing favors in the market in form of some licenses, another case of CWG officials being arrested by CBI and interrogated for money laundering while the supreme boss holidays in Monaco, a case of a state CM refusing to resign after being accused of a land scam, another real estate scam based on defense property, and many more.

(While on CWG, every time I see a name related to CWG scams on TV, I anxiously look for names that I worked with when the games were happening. Not to my surprise, none of the names that feature in the TV are of those who actually were visible during the games, running around doing all the hard work. Sort of verifies my hypothesis that there were two kinds of people in CWG - ones who made the games happen, and ones who did all the "hard" work before the actual work started, and made merry, and made sure those who follow will have to burn in midnight oil in order to make games happen!)

Just last week, I was introduced to a few audio clips on youtube (I think I picked them up through FB, where some connection of mine had shared the link), where a media personality was negotiating portfolios on phone on behalf of a political party, while another political strategist was representing the coalition partner for a specific ministry.

A stupid optimist that I am, I am still hopeful that we will come out of these roadblocks - supplemented by tainted CVC, unresponsive CBI, hand-tied Supreme Court.

On that note, it reminds me of another incident a friend told me last week. I have this friend who also believes that if you have to have the right to crib, be there to make a change yourself first, to have that right to crib. (Like I mentioned in an earlier post here). So he thought he'll turn a few stones, and went on to connect with the youth wing of one of the leading national political parties. To his amazement, it took him weeks to get an appointment with the relevant first, and when he finally reached to meet, he was frowned upon on knowing that he was neither son of a business family, or a political family! He was told that it is better to stay in corporate world, trying to make a difference to the country's economy, rather than through politics, unless he had some big moolah to shell out, or a political family to step into shoes of!

Sad that this friend actually wanted to get in the system and try and make a difference to the society! Another 10-20 years and things will change dramatically from where they are today, but I guess the real beginning of that change is yet to start.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ownership - Do we, Don't we..

Here's a thought - "Every man [and woman] . . . lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society."

This is not easily bought, but it's an awesome thought - it was first quoted by Adam Smith long way back, but the essence is still as fresh as new. Ownership does pervade our lives and, in a strange way, shapes many of the things we do.

Much of our life story can be told by describing the ebb and flow of our particular possessions — what we get and what we give up. We buy clothes and food, automobiles and homes, for instance. And we sell things as well — homes and cars, and in the course of our careers, our time.

Since so much of our lives is dedicated to ownership, how great would that be to know exactly how much we would enjoy a new home, a new car, a different sofa, so that we could make accurate decisions about owning them? Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. We are mostly fumbling around in the dark.

Ownership is not limited to material things. It can also apply to points of view. Once we take ownership of an idea — whether it's about politics or sports or love — what do we do? We love it perhaps more than we should. And most frequently, we have trouble letting go of it because we can't stand the idea of its loss. What are we left with then? An ideology — rigid and unyielding.

Reasons - here they are.

1. We fall in love with what we have. Nature has this innate ability to make us instantly attached to what we have.
2. We focus on what we may lose, rather than what we may gain. Our aversion to loss is a strong emotion, one that sometimes causes us to make our decisions. As soon as we begin thinking about giving up our valued possessions, we are already mourning the loss.
3. We assume other people will see it from the same perspective as we do. It is just difficult for us to imagine that the person on the other side of the arrangement is not seeing the world as we see it.

And we begin to feel ownership even before we own something. This is what is not fair. And this is where we falter. We start thinking something to be our own, while it was only in our mind that it did. Call it "virtual ownership".

So the crux of the matter is - you own it if you own it. You don't, if you don't.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Intermittent rains in Delhi have been a nightmare for last few weeks, and one never knows when the rain gods will blast our souls.

Unaware of wishes of the rain gods, I picked up my bags as the clock struck 6. The weather was awesome, with petrichor all around. But no rains at that instant. Through the day, I was standing by the window, watching the dark clouds engulf the city. However, they hardly burst. As if they were waiting for something to happen.

So I step out, take my car out and start driving. A few hundred metres, and I realize that I have driven over a bump that got me a flat tire. I stop on the side, thinking whether I should look for a mechanic, or some other help. With clouds still holding back, and no help in sight, I decided to do the honors myself. My mood was somehow blue, and I wasn't too keen on doing it myself, but something pressed me to go on.

I step out of the car, and start the process. And as soon as I am midway, I feel droplets of water tripping over my shoulders. Instantly, I feel better. Everyone is running for cover, but I turn into my own renewed energetic self. I empty my pockets in the car, and roam around. Just like old days, when you care for nothing. For 10 minutes I stand there, looking at people trying to run for cover, and birds trying to find a set of leaves to hold them safe. And when you notice plants and trees, it seems as if flowers and fruits are trying to embrace the drops, spreading their aroma, as if trying to let others know of their presence.

Maybe that's why, there is lots of aromatic material that the moisture and impact of rain can stir up, and the moist atmosphere following a downpour is particularly good at carrying these particles through the air.

By the time it stopped raining, I was dripping from head to toe. Reluctantly, I changed the tire, and moved on, with "Khudi ko kar buland itna" by Junoon playing on the ipod. Sweet.

I am glad I got drenched. Best thing to happen to me today!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A Crib

Cribbing is good. You know why?

Because it helps initiate a discussion. It breaks the ice. Any one can do it. It doesn't need to even conclude. Mostly, you leave it hanging - that's the whole point.

And here, one doesn't need to provide any solution. You just have to keep talking about stuff. Finding loopholes. That's what we have come to believe in. Give "Problem Statement", not the way forward.

I somehow find it strange that typical mentality is to crib, and leave it at that. The other day, I was talking to someone who mentioned how these Commonwealth Games have created havoc for Delhi; how so much corruption in the system has eaten away our hard earned tax money.

I do understand that there is corruption prevalent in the system, but if we choose to not act against it, it makes no point to crib about it. I read somewhere that from ~40,000 Crores that has been spent on CWG, about 28,000 Crores was for Metro Services, and roads, and flyovers, and underpasses, and better infrastructure for the city. This development anyways had to happen. So why do we choose to put a spotlight on these numbers, and try to malign the development of the city.

Yes, the traffic is a monster for everyone in Delhi, agreed. But only CWG work is not responsible for it. And how conveniently we choose to ignore the blessings of staying in a city like Delhi, where infra is developing at much faster pace than its population, or else we would not have survived the population growth in last 10-15 years.

I remember, about 15 years back, I used to think Gurgaon was on a different planet, because to reach there, you had to cross Dhaula Kuan. With no flyovers, all trucks blocking the way, I used to conveniently finish my sleep sitting in the comforts of my car, going from Delhi to Gurgaon. And now, at a good time, CP to Gurgaon would take 30 mins tops. When the ferrari swooshes at 150 on these roads, you feel the heat.

True that there are numbers attached to CWG. 900,000 bucks for a treadmill, which actually costs just a fraction of that amount! The scale of money made would have been what - a couple hundreds crores, tops! Compare that to any other scam, and you know what relative figures mean. (Infact, I did write a post on relative numbers - here it is!) I just opened TV in my room to pick some figures related to scams, and here is one I picked up - there is a scam going on, in which land worth roughly 12 lakh crores has been "given" to a religious board for developmental activities related to that community. Now look at the figure - 12 lakh crores. I wonder what Indian GDP is!

Leave that aside. Want to make a difference - join administrative services. Or politics.

Oh wait - want to crib - earn a right to.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Numbers, when put in right perspective, can speak wonders. And it is all relative. If US spending in Iraq war is told to be $ 300 Billion, we don't know whether it is too small or too large. But if we are told that US spending for Afghan control is $ 3,000 Billion, then we know what both mean.

Presentation is all that matters. Look at this graph for instance - what could this be a graph of, where there is a short peak every monday, peaks just before summer and winter breaks for kids, and a trough on Christmas?

Could be sales of anything. Pattern of any activity.

It actually is the pattern of breakups in the US. Most break ups happen just before holidays (so that partners can explore new and better avenues)! Break ups at Christmas would be cruel, and hence the trough. And regular fights over weekends lead to rise in breakups on Monday.


And the source - a study conducted on facebook status updates, which monitored 10,000 individuals in US during the year.

Now who does these kind of studies? Need to join that firm. Who should I send my CV to..

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rest if you must...

(Continued from Post 1)

The blankness has a definite beauty and purpose. Dust swirls in all directions, the roads get choppy, and life indefinitely stretches uphill after Darcha. Road construction teams also multiply, while general conversations steer around weather and road conditions on the looming mountain passes ahead.

And suddenly, you reach a mirage – a crystal blue lake, compact enough to camp next to, even as a howling wind shreds the barren silence. At Deepak Tal, 16 km from Darcha, one is introduced to the concept of parachute tent dhabas that remain a hallmark of the Leh road. These temporary rest stops bloom at strategic locations, providing tea, snacks and much needed company along the bleak way. The next stop is Zing Zing Bar, where truckers check their vehicles before ascending Baralacha La (4890 m), a mean and mighty pass that sternly tests human integrity, as well as the durability of your bike.

A rough descent through crooked roads and a narrow, rocky chasm leads you into the Gorges of Pang, which is straight from the pages of a Tolkien fantasy.

32 km down, Sarchu is a bitterly cold overnight stop with numerous tents and dhabas at the state border.

Leaving Sarchu, one gets into J&K officially, and the scenery along this last lap to Ladakh is achingly spectacular. The road soon zigzags up 21 hairpin bends to form the Gata Loops, only to drop slightly at the immense flats of the curiously names Whiskey Nallah – a temporary truck stop with few dhabas also offering beds. At this point, life in comfortable Leh seems like an impossible reward. But it’s not over yet. A short but hard road takes you right up to the 5060 m Lachlung La offering views across the khaki colored mountains of the Zanskar range.

(To reach Leh shortly - to be continued)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rohtang and beyond...

The journey to Leh has become one of the most talked about and most done trips of our generation and lifetime, and quite rightfully so. Starting from Kullu/Manali, the road trip is nothing short of a pilgrimage, with long waits for the great Himalayan passes to open; the punishing yet breathtaking terrain, and the gradual arrival at the destination – Leh, as oasis of succor in the bleak universe of desert mountains and rarefied air.

However, it’s not just the destination that matters. On this fabled route lie several villages and towns that deserve much more than a cursory gander, while being perfect enough to camp in for a night or two.

Since its discovery, Manali has greeted overlanders with its abundant greenery and exquisite scenery. A primary reason Indian tourists come to Manali is to experience their first snow on the mighty Rohtang Pass. 51 kms away, Rohtang Pass (3978 m) was not always the all season playground of the plain dwellers; pre historic folks in Kullu Valley believed that the world ended at the mighty mountains that the pass now spans across. Unexpected blizzards and landslides atop Rohtang have earned it its mystical name that eerily translates to “Heap Dead Bodies” in Tibetan.

Despite its formidable size and notoriety, Rohtang is one scenically stunning Himalayan Pass. On this natural watershed, the road curves and bends among evergreen alpine meadows, revealing eye level mountain views at sunrise, apart from the perpetual possibility of snow. In spite of its mythical character, Rohtang Pass remains an underrate pass among travelers on the road to Leh. But not for long, as you cross and see the parallel world it retains beyond its great barriers.

At the turn off point of Gramphu, to the east lies the Spiti valley, and to the north-west the Lahaul valley – a largely unexplored land steeped in an intoxicating blend of myth, beauty and extreme landscapes. A quick descent of 5 kms brings you to Khoksar. This small hamlet consists of little more than several dhabas, a police checkpoint and several warm hearted locals who willingly offer advice and aid on the onward journey. It’s a great place to tuck into a hot lunch by the waterfall.

Leaving Khoksar, the road splits across a hardened valley floor, with sheer cliffs dominating either side of the Chandra River. Sissu is revered for the temple of Lord Gyephang (the protector god of the Lahaulis), the Gyephang Peak and the famed hanging waterfall.

18 kms further is Lahaul’s biggest town – Keylong, set against a backdrop of brown hills and snowy peaks. The Bhaga River nourishes this side valley, roaring from its source in Baralacha La, and it is a pretty sight to see the willows on her banks. Keylong is the official overnight stop for travelers, and many stay back to explore. One can usually come across scores of happily hyper kids here.

Jispa, 22 km ahead, is a small village that is big on camping sites and trout fishing, thanks to its pleasant setting next to the Bhaga. There’s decent accommodation available, and locals cook up basic meals on request (read Maggi and Lemon Tea). From here onwards, trees start disappearing.

At first sight, Darcha appears to be an unpromising junction, but it’s the last permanent settlement, and the trailhead for a number of astounding treks into Zanskar and Leh. Barring the dhabas, there is no accommodation here. From here, the wooded greens of Lahaul fade into stark mountain terrain and the next set of trees will be seen in Rumtse, 80 kms from Leh.

The way forward in next post..

Monday, April 12, 2010


It's been a while.

It had been a while too. Recharging batteries was much needed, and hence I ventured on a solo trip on a bike to the countryside. The road took me all the way to Haridwar, one of the four locations where Kumbha Mela happens. And incidentally, it was on.

Predominantly, a sacred Hindu pilgrimage, Kumbha Mela is the largest spiritual gathering in the world. 'Kumbha' means 'pot' (with no handles) and 'Mela' means 'gathering' or 'fair'. Legend has it that at the beginning of creation, all the Gods were under a curse making them weak. Brahma (The Creator) advised them to retrieve the pot of immortality. The Gods sought the help of the Demons. During the battle to retrieve and possess the nectar, four drops spilled in four places: Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain.

This auspicious coming together, takes place four times every twelve years at one of the four sacred places along the Ganga River, dependent upon the position of planet Brahaspati (Jupiter), the Moon and Sun.

This is what Mark Twain had to say after his Kumbh Mela experience in 1895: 'It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites.'

Nevertheless, I went to Haridwar, took a holy dip, spent a peaceful night, noticed millions of devotees, understood why kids always separated during Kumbha Mela and continued on my journey.

On my way back, got into one of the most interesting discussions with strangers.

The sun was at its peak, and the clock showed noon. Tired of driving the bike continuously for a couple of hours, I chose to tread the bike on the fields instead of the metallic road. Saw a tree that reminded of my school days when we used to run in the cross country races across the fields. I parked the bike, and to my amusement, noticed that a group of farmers and villagers were also taking a break alongside from their routine ploughing of the fields.

I put my backpack and sat down beside them, striking a conversation around tilling the land, and the heat at this time of the year, and the rains, and the IPL, and future prospects of village kids. And when the topic of future prospects came, the grim faces of the elderly were evident. They were adamant that with the recent times, it is imperative that the kids of the village should go out and venture into the outside world. That they should stop staying in their cocoon and be bold enough to embrace uncertainty. According to them, success is not a matter of staying close to family and having a good time anymore, it is more a matter of how vastly one has traveled, how much money one makes, how many mobiles one has and the likes. I was just a silent spectator to all these discussions, and could hardly understand what they saw in the world outside. On the other side of the fields, I could see kids playing an IPL match of their own, unconcerned how concerned their elderly were, of their own wherewithall.

One of the elderly asked me if I was traveling for work; I nodded, which they took as yes. I chose not to correct them. They took me to be some kind of deliveryman who was traveling from one place to another, delivering some stuff. While they kept continuing with the discussions of how in city life, I have made a mark for myself and how earning a 20,000 per month salary will be the best thing to happen to their kids, I could hardly make out if I was really doing what I am meant to, and if I had ever made even an iota of mark for myself. Seeing a blackberry was like looking at the next big invention after wheel for them. And what amazed them was how the maps on blackberry can pinpoint one’s location to a few metres – one specific comment being, “kya humein bhi koi upar aakaash se dekh raha hai!” (Translation – Is someone watching us from heavens above?)

Two hours well spent, I picked up my bike and exchanged pleasantries. All the way back, all I could think of was, did I get what I hoped for, when I started this trip? Did I know what I wanted to find, when I started this trip?

A break well taken, time well spent.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Angry Young Man?

I've always thought of myself as the most patient person in the world. No, seriously. Just ask my ex girlfriends. (Kidding, ladies. Please don't kill me.) But I'm becoming really, as in really, cranky and short-tempered as of late and it's starting to worry me.

Anger. It bursts me at the seams.
Take this incident from this week, for instance. I was running late for work and I had to go through another astoundingly mind-numbing traffic rush enroute my office. There have been fables of casualties there, my car's many dents being regulars among them. Anyway, imagine going through a traffic stampede on a daily basis, plus having to deal with breakfast while driving and the whole gamut of pending phone calls. But I'm zen. Really, I am, not even when that zooming Scorpio stood in front of me and showed me, up close, how tiny I looked. So I push on the accelerator, still zen and shit and I get in line at the head at the traffic signal, when suddenly this rickshaw which has probably had ninja training had sneakily snuck himself in front of me and was acting like he did nothing stupid.
And that's when my zen bubble burst. I actually fantasized about getting out of the car, pushing him off the line and giving him an hour-long lecture on driving etiquettes and lanes and how I do not kill people who drive sane.

But in reality I was just standing behind him, glaring at him and finding a way to get him behind me again.

But yeah, I fail at anger management. I usually end up cranky lately which as we all know isn't a good thing. I really have to get to the bottom of this or I'll probably lose the six remaining friends I have. Then I'd have nobody to buzz at Gmail. Or Poke at Facebook. We wouldn't want that, would we?
Inside each and every one of us is our one, true authentic swing. Something we was born with. Something that's ours and ours alone. Something that can't be learned... something that's got to be remembered.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Newtonian Day

I am somehow having a "Newtonian" day, though Science is not my strong point - first, it was Pythagoras in the morning, when I noticed a triangular, weird looking calendar on my desk. It made me wonder why and how sum of sides' squares make up something related to the third side. (Yes, get the drift. I didn't study hard enough during school)

And now, while having tea, I noticed the tea leaves at the bottom and wondered why they assemble at the centre, and not on the outer edges. Centrifugal force should come into picture, thereby pushing the leaves to the sides of the cup. But to my wonder, it did not. I decided I get to the bottom of this (Pun intended!). Maybe, in course of doing this, I might end up discovering something radical - "Abhinav's theory of tea cups" shall we say! Hence, I turned to my trusted companion (Google) and thought I'll figure out why it happens.

Seems like Einstein uncle had better sense of tea. He already had studied this theory, and some blood separation technique is already based on this theory. I won't dump technical stuff here explaining why it happens - I'm devastated already that my attempt at making history (or science) goes in vain, and science will have to wait for some more time to capitalize on my discoveries.

Think. It's not illegal yet.

Simple, yet intriguing

Exquisite Demonstration - Pythagoras

Sunday, February 07, 2010

..have a good time

There are some movies that make you feel good. Whatever be their genre, they always end up giving you a nice time. Then there are some movies ahead of their time, because of which they end up not doing good commercially, but you watch it a few years down the line, you get the essence. Will share the thoughts about the former in this post.

Right, so. Nora Ephron's creations have been above average. There was "Sleepless in Seattle". Then there was "You've Got Mail". And now there is "Julie and Julia". First two, most have seen and appreciated, so this post won't talk about them (will just mention that "You've Got Mail" used to be one of my favorites during post-grad. I could see the movie endlessly, and would have screened it more than 50 times in one year. Some phase, huh!

Anyways, continuing with J&J. A very sweet, simple movie, with no complications. Meryl Streep, as always, is perfect, and there is no reason why she should not get the Oscar this year (though I hardly end up watching Oscar nominated movies, but with years passing by, I have started to appreciate the beauty of these movies, which are full of complications, and yet Rx Oscars. One outlier, which I just could never understand Rxed an Oscar, was "No Country for Old Men' in 2008).

Meryl's "The Devil Wears Prada" again is one of those movies, which give you a flavor of the world which one sees in awe, without actually knowing what really goes on. Agreed, I haven't read the book, and I've heard the book is good too, but somehow I don't feel like changing my perception of the movie "The Devil Wears Prada". I never knew what fashion industry mean before I watched this movie (as if I know it now! But anyways.)

J&J is a movie that runs parallel across generations. Julia (Meryl Streep) and Julie (Amy Adams) share the common bliss - cooking. Julia's writing a book about it, and Julie's blogging (notice how Nora brings technology/internet as the focal point to connect today's generation - remember, You've Got Mail. And now J&J.). Julia is so cheerful and energetic, that I frankly haven't seen anyone - sure it's only a movie, but still. Julie is her counterpart. Julia is thoughtful, Julie obsessed. I think both complement each other very well.

I was talking to someone about this movie, when I was told that if only the movie had more about Julia's life and less about Julie's (or even none about her), the movie would have been better. But I somehow think without Julie, the movie would have been a dud. Sure Meryl is THE talented one, and brings life to the character, but the story actually has been brought alive by Amy. Her dedication, her obsession, her spirit, her will is what makes this movie special.

There's another movie I watched recently, "The Boat That Rocked". Released last year I guess. Now, I am not really that much into music. Yes, I do follow some, but I only follow what I follow. Very restricted. And this movie is based on how music brings about joy in people's lives. How it can become an obsession, or maybe a mild term would be dedication. Movie's about a pirate radio station stationed in the ocean on a liner, that brings joy to whole of the UK.

Nice watch, both "Julie & Julia" & "The Boat That Rocked". Good time guaranteed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

..being a passenger?

For many years, I was perfectly content, even relieved, to sit back and release the control and direction of my life to others. I found comfort in relinquishing personal responsibility and allowing someone else to take charge. The decisions, and consequences, no longer rested heavy upon my shoulders. I had no need to take care of myself as my trust and faith lay completely in those around me. When life reared its ugly head, I was comforted with the knowledge and acceptance that the driver would maneuver me to a place of safety. The more time that passed, the more control I relinquished to others, the less I trusted myself and the less I knew the boundary between my own life and those that were carrying me along for the ride.

In many ways, it was a comfortable way to live. It was the easy way. It was the only way I knew. Eventually, and gradually, I came to realize that life is not always easy and finding the most comfortable way is only guaranteed to impede any personal growth. I needed a driver and I was destined to be the passenger.

Years later, I look back on those times with mixed emotions. At times, I think back and long for the comfort of reassurances that “everything will be okay”. But I also look back and realize that where I stand today, and who I am today, is far better than being just “a passenger in my own life”. The journey is much harder now, the terrain much more treacherous at times. I no longer take the easy route, depending on others to guide me toward that illusory pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In fact, it is often difficult to even see the rainbow these days. But when the rain stops and the clouds move away, when I look up and see the rainbow at the end of the storm, I know that the beauty I see is because I have chosen to look up and see it. I am no longer dictated by the direction of others, no longer dependent upon the reassurance that “everything will be okay”. The truth of life is that everything will not always be okay, but through the struggles, I will become stronger and in the end, I will be okay.

I like to be the driver these days. It’s frustrating and confusing and overwhelming at times, especially when the traffic is bad. But in each of the difficult moments, I remind myself that I am not a weak person and I grow a little bit more. Through frustration, I learn patience. Through confusion, I learn to seek clarity, to take chances, and to have faith in myself. And in those overwhelming moments, I learn that my own strength is far greater than I ever knew. Strength and hope and determination are the passengers that now accompany me. I am happy to no longer be “a passenger in my own life”.

All is well!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

India's Energy Plans - or the lack of it!

Anything tangible or intangible, that costs money is evaluated very carefully and used equally carefully in India. This means expenses are controlled and kept as low as possible. The scenario in energy consumption in India is no different. It is not surprising that the per capita energy consumption figures are very low inspite of high rate of development now taking place.

Conventional sources are depleting, and even those coal based projects that are located at pit-mouth (for instance, in Jharkhand, WB) have only paltry stocks as fuel reserve. The solution is either to import coal and gas, or look towards other non-conventional sources.

India is blessed with an abundance of sunlight, water and biomass. What vigorous efforts during the past two decades have done is that people in all walks of life are more aware of the benefits of renewable energy, especially decentralized energy where required in villages and in urban or semi-urban centers. India has the world's largest programme for renewable energy as well.

However, a critical issue is that most of the capital allocated to such initiatives does not reach the intended target. A major share of this capital is consumed trying to make policies and trying to figure out what should be done. Policymakers' lack of clarity and gap between state and centre leads to unwarranted delay too.

What is required is a "learn as you go" approach, thereby reducing time-to-market, and inculcate a sense of continuity for the plans.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Startups - and money!

Raising money is the second hardest part of starting a startup. The hardest part is making something people want: most startups that die, die because they didn't do that. But the second biggest cause of death is probably the difficulty of raising money. Fundraising is brutal.

One reason it's so brutal is simply the brutality of markets. People who've spent most of their lives in schools or big companies may not have been exposed to that. Professors and bosses usually feel some sense of responsibility toward you; if you make a valiant effort and fail, they'll cut you a break. Markets are less forgiving. Customers don't care how hard you worked, only whether you solved their problems.

Investors evaluate startups the way customers evaluate products, not the way bosses evaluate employees. If you're making a valiant effort and failing, maybe they'll invest in your next startup, but not this one.

But raising money from investors is harder than selling to customers, because there are so few of them.

When investors can't make up their minds, they sometimes describe it as if it were a property of the startup. "You're too early for us," they sometimes say. But which of them, if they were taken back in a time machine to the hour Google was founded, wouldn't offer to invest at any valuation the founders chose? An hour old is not too early if it's the right startup. What "you're too early" really means is "we can't figure out yet whether you'll succeed."

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone