Why?

Why,

is it so difficult to make people see reason?

is it hard for people to be sensitive of others?

is it difficult for people to keep their opinions to themselves?

is it a problem to be yourself?

is it difficult for people to appreciate the good in others?

is it difficult to appreciate others for the things they do?

is it difficult to thank people for their help?

is it so difficult to give due credit to people?

is it difficult to have a relation without an underlying transaction?

is it so difficult to call a spade a spade?

is being outspoken a problem?

do people enforce their choices on others?

do people have a difficult time differentiating professional from personal behaviour?

do people act cheap?

do i expect people to be sensible?

do i expect people to be logical?

do i expect people to be rational?

do i hope for people to change for the better?

do i care for the undeserving?

do people put money before everything else?

do people want to share their negativity with others?

do people retain incidents, as ammunition to be used later?

do people lie?

do people always have a mask on?

do people become defensive when their shortcomings are pointed out?

do people never forgive?

do people get away with BS?

do people find safety in numbers, for the wrong reasons?

do people love freeloading?

do people start strong, but wither along the way?

do people confuse arrogance with self confidence and vice-versa?

do people mistake humility & humbleness for weakness?

does relation take a back seat when it comes to personal gains?

does the truth ceases to be, the moment it is uttered?

don’t people stand up for what they believe?

don’t people pull their weight?

don’t people believe in reciprocity?

are people negatively affected from one’s positiveness and positively affected by one’s downfall?

did i even write this?

– Bharath K Balasubramanian

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Mumbai Meri Jaan! – Part 2

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Second blog in this series – continues on driving & mobility (please ensure you have read part 1 – for continuity’s sake!)

I remember a joke in a Tamil movie in which the comedian, an autodriver, dupes the traffic police by switching on the left indicator, uses his right hand to signal a turn and finally goes straight, leaving behind a bewildered traffic policeman! Mumbai’s drivers don’t even provide such useful clues – exhibit totally random behaviour. One thing that is common, is the urgency – every nook, every gap available is made use of. The gaps and the vehicles do not match, yet  they manage to go through! Highly protean, you will admit! The best part is the repetition of the Camel’s hump prejudice – it never sees its hump, but rather comments on the ugliness of the hump of the camel in front. Mumbai’s drivers (and so do most others) exhibit the same. Despite coming on the wrong side in the first place, this guy will berate the other hapless driver to the max extent. That the meek shall inherit the earth doesn’t apply here – the meek drivers shall invite more curses and taunts in Mumbai!

Its advisable to stand either 30 meters away or before the bus stop – the buses rarely stop in front of the stops. You will realise the right place after a trial and error experiment. The best is to ask or observe where the typical Mumbai-wala is standing, after all do in Rome as the Romans do! One good sight is the formation of queues for boarding at a lot of high-traffic bus stands. Self-regulated by the commuters, these queues stretch for quite sometime during peak hours and queue-breaking is certainly a no-no unless you want to be bashed by a mob of irate to-home-after-a-bad-day-at-office commuters.

Autowallas follow their Mann-Marzi when it comes to ferrying passengers. They simply refuse to ply and sometimes it takes an act of noting down their registration number and a threat to inform the traffic police to make them ply. Even this trick is wearing thin now!

The local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai, ferrying close to 7.5 million passengers everyday! Crowd mobility is the way to embark/alight from trains. Just ensure that you stand in the right place, in front of the right carriage and the crowd will do the rest. You are swept into the train amidst the scamper for legroom. Getting down is a lot easier and only thing that you have to watch for is the incoming crowd who push and shove their way in to get the few seats that are available. If not careful, you could get really hurt in the process.

I am reminded of a true incident mentioned by an ex-manager at Cognizant. There was this sales guy (tie, formals) who wanted to get aboard a busy local. The local trains have a vertical bar at the entrance as a divider for the incoming and outgoing traffic and to provide a hold who are engaged in footboard callisthenics.

This guy was a tad late and was in the trailing part of the crowd who boarded the train. To his dismay he could not get both feet onto the train and was left with one foot dangling, when the train started. Taking the wise decision to wait for the next one, he got down but found that his connection (read: neck tie) to the train was still there. Someone had the Tie tacked to the pole by sandwiching it between their hand and the pole. This guy now started running along with the train while shouting for the @#$%^& to take his hand off. With the train gathering momentum, you can very well imagine what the poor sales guy would be subjected to. Finally, someone yanked off his tie from underneath the cluster of hands and freed the sales guy – sending him crashing into a group of standing passengers, but safe nonetheless. Whew!

I am not sure about the rest of India, but atleast pedestrians in Mumbai understand the power of Unity. 1’s lonely, 2’s company and 3’s a crowd is followed and that’s all it takes to start crossing! There’s a battle of emotions at play here and the safety is in numbers. The oncoming vehicles don’t look like they are going to stop. The pedestrians have to be confident in their stride and in total defiance of the incoming speedos to make it across a busy street. A little hesitancy on the peds’ part would mean their taking a step back and waiting for what would be a long while before the traffic thins to attempt a crossing. Zebra crossings have become the new stop line for motorists forcing the peds to take a circuitous route around the vehicles.

With the Metro, Monorail and newer ferry routes coming up, Mumbaikars are going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to commuting. How long will these work and how soon their shiny new carriages are going to be painted red with Paan (Betel leaf + a host of other carcinogenic components) stains is anybody’s guess!

All said & done, Mumbai is a great place to explore – by foot ; at every turn and every corner there is an aspect of the city that remains to be discovered and an experience, to be treasured. Viva Mumbai!

#Mumbai Meri Jaan! – Part 1

This is my first in a series of blogs on Mumbai. This blog is my take on driving and mobility in Mumbai.

The land of acceptance, a land of dreams, a place where anyone can make it big, the US counterpart of the ‘Land of milk & honey’ – all these sobriquets and many more are applicable to this ex-archipelago called Mumbai. We have been reading about the individual culture and collective culture in our Human resource subjects and Mumbai is a great place where you can see it in full play.

What struck me first was the pace of the city – remember the time lapse videos of traffic and people milling about? Mumbai is exactly that; a difference in that it’s not a video and that is the normal pace! Coming from a lot quieter south India and having spent considerable time outside India in even quieter and organised locations, the pace was a little unsettling at first.

The sheer temerity of the auto drivers as they weave in and out of highly congested streets throwing all notion of safe driving to the wind is admirable. The first time i sat in the front with the auto driver (that’s one extra seat  = extra $$), i had to keep my eyes closed (a good driver makes a bad passenger!), and peek every now and then to enjoy the ride nonetheless! The auto driver had to be an expert seamstress in his past life to be able to weave his way through like that!

Dogs rudely awakened from their siestas, half naked children playing in the middle of the road, an overloaded bicycle and its trembling rider, an elderly person shuffling across the street – all are made to scamper for their lives by the autowallah. He rules the road, it doesn’t really matter who is at fault – he gets to spit quite a mouthful of curses at the other drivers and the by-standers for making his journey uncomfortable! A cuss-fest breaks all out at dense intersections, when a taxi driver, some private vehicles and autowallahs come together in a non-collaborative way. The choicest of expletives, invoking family members present and past and not sparing ancestors who were enjoying a state of respect (until now, that is!) , are exchanged in the melee. You would realise that it takes a special sense of ingenuity to come with swear words like that. Lexicons are challenged and multi- cultural, multi-language references used. The clash of the egos is usually broken by the arrival of a traffic policeman, who dishes out a few authority laden words from his extensive vocabulary, with the result that the mob is scattered without a trace.

Enough of spelling bees, I wish we could host a swearing bee contest – we will be the undisputed winners, every time.

As i believe, you don’t need brakes to survive here – you need a nice loud horn!

Life @ SP Jain – Making of a Tirthankara :-) Part 1

How it all began:

My career with Cognizant was a great learning experience in terms of the roles I handled, the people I met, the work I did and the places I travelled to.  Doing my MBA seemed to be the ideal step (it was late already!) to break away from the monotony of profession that I had got into. The complacency and comfort that accompany a long tenure at an organisation made it a very tough decision and I was sort of putting things off for the past couple of years citing one reason or another. A bystander in the social networking arena,  I have been playing a very passive role for the most part. It seemed all ok while at Cognizant wherein my focus was restricted to customers, profits and projects . All day to day interactions and communication were purely for business with very few contacts taking root for a long term connection. I realised that my social networking and communication skills need an immediate overhaul!

Now I really needed to become a student again to  buy time and put off matrimony for a year :-))

Why SP Jain?

SP Jain is one of the finest colleges in the country and the fact that they had the simplest of application forms to begin with, helped ( I realised  later that they grew exponentially in complexity after the first round – but once you started, there was no looking back). After 2 levels of written applications and a couple of Face to face interviews at Mumbai, I was in.

I essentially found it harder to convince my superiors at Cognizant than the admission panel at SP Jain that I needed to do my MBA! They were of the opinion that I was already doing great and in my latest role of a business development manager, was having a successful run winning multi Million $ customers and projects.  I was, however, convinced that a disruption was required for me to understand myself better and to find my purpose. I really needed to refresh and reboot myself for a new beginning 🙂

Arranging for the moolah was not really tough considering the banker at home (he also had a ‘peththa kadan’ to take care of!) and I am now an elite customer at Syndicate bank considering a combo of housing and education loans!  

I Await My Turn…..

Read about the Kamduni rape case – the sheer brutality of it was shocking to say the least. Penning my anguish, these lines are dedicated to the unfortunate ones….….

“I await my turn”

I live in a democracy, where men and women are all equal.
A socialist, secular republic called India,
where languages are a-plenty, cultures manifold
I wonder, do the constitutional values even hold?

Are we daughters of lesser parents?
or is our body our curse?
Our voices choke at the suffering meted to us,
nothing could ever be worse.

Pandering to the most basics of vices,
they violate us, again and again and again.
Paying no heed to our cries of pain;
totally consumed by madness, what is that they gain?

Moments of excruciating pain,
impossible to put in words or to explain.
they expect us to act normal,
pray, tell me – how can i ever be the same?

Checkups and tests to confirm the crime,
send further shivers down my spine.
They treat us as if the perpetrators of crime,
helpless, further embarrassed, i can only bide my time.

What are you busy with,
our custodians of justice?
why were you, tell me, sworn-in?
To act only if its your kith or kin?

When was ever death better than life?
i used to think when i had a great life.
now i know, now i realise,
take me away god, enough of this malaise.

Whom do i turn to, whom do i call?
i realise, losing my dignity is not all.
Lewd comments and sneering remarks
re-open my wounds, deepening the marks.

The sickening feeling 
refuses to abate,
a victim of man’s lewdness
why should i partake of his hate?

Kamduni’s Aparajita, Delhi’s Nirbhaya are now dead and gone,
I await my turn, i feel all alone………

– Bharath K Balasubramanian

The un’fair’ness of it all!

Congratulations to Ms. Nina Davuluri! You certainly make us proud.

 We have always been winning spelling bee contests, but the winning of Miss America is one sting that Americans won’t forget in a hurry! The unguent for this sting would be the comments of America embracing diversity and ensuring a stage for the minorities. The American dream tends to come into the picture every now and then – all are equal and have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happy-ness! Embracing the minorities is no charitable act, especially when you have a country where the majority population is comprised of minorities!

 The backlash on Twitter and social media networks was more comic than caustic. Those who were topographically challenged and having trouble finding their way from the kitchen to their bedrooms were among the forerunners in revealing their ignorance and their anguish (ouch – it stings!). *This doesn’t surprise me though, sometimes talking about India’s geography seems to reveal just 5 states (NECWS) instead of 28 states and 7 UTs (w/o Telengana). Anything below Maharashtra is south and has one race of people – Madrasis and all they do is gorge on Idlis, Sambar and Rasam. Well, Geography has certainly been the bugbear of many a student! 

 Nina seemed to be a native of all other countries except India and i believe that further tweets would have traced her roots to a Hula-Hula tribe from the Amazon forests! Making her Arab (Rima Fakih won the  contest in 2010) proved that the person was just out of his self induced stupor of 3 years and read out the headlines from the newspaper that had induced the stupor in the first place. 

 Getting emotional about the 9/11 and comparing Nina to a terrorist was certainly uncalled for – when did terror had such a lovely face and a great smile to go with it?! Nina had tough competition and her enchanting dance and her Iam-here-to-have-fun expressions certainly stole the limelight for her. Tattoos, pretty faces and of course, the really fair skin did offer her a fair amount of competition and made her sweat – more shine for the wheatish complexion!

India is a land of make believe and exaggeration and the fairness of skin holds a very sweet spot. Derma-nomics is certainly a big word and 61% of the derma market is for fairness creams (this is despite warning that Mercury in one form or another is an ingredient!). From King Khan to Ms Padukone, we have celebrities endorsing the path to fame and glory! un’fair’ treatment you would say – but that’s how it is! This contempt for darker skin tones has always been there – i remember being teased in school over my wheatish complexion. The ingenuity of the rhymes ‘kala Kaluta, Baingan loota’ – something to do about brinjals and dacoits still brings a smile on my face . When Nandita Das (one of the ‘darker’ heroines who made it big) comes out with a statement, it usually highlights her as a proponent for the poor darker lot! Akin to people lying through their teeth on job resumes, we have scores lying through their skin on advertisements and matrimony profiles. Make-up and make-believe are getting to be two prime behavioural aspects of the Indian society at large.

 

Thank God that Ms. Nina participated in Miss America and won – Would this have been possible in India is anybody’s guess. Indians’ obsession with the fairness creams and the fair ones’ obsession with tanning and tanning creams – a chocolatey world anyone?