Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An introspection - and a profound learning

I have just realized that all these days (till around 4 posts ago) the main spark of my incessant blogging used to be triggers from what I'd see around me - pieces of news, terrorists (of course, they used to hog headlines all the time!),Mumbai (ooooooh I miss it so much), Mumbai traffic (I used to rant about it, but still never missed a chance of driving off in potholed Mumbai). And if nothing else remains, we always had $30,000 worth commodes (John Thain, people - Merill Lynch).

And then I got to thinking - why is it that these days I have absolutely nothing to speak about, except discussing people!!!! Yeah I know - great minds discuss issues and petty minds discuss people. Ok Ok. Don't rub that in! But hopelessly, that adage hit me hard on the face just today!!!! Wish I had realized this a couple of days ago, and perhaps a certain degree of unnecessary, unpleasantness could have been avoided! But the fact remains that beginning from my take on the Southies - where someone almost issued a fatwa on me... (Surprised I am still alive, given that person's clout!!!), I kinda realized a little late, that the reason why I was experimenting with freedom of speech on my rather modest teeny tiny no-one-reads-it-except-me blog, was because of a gross lack of outward leaning perspective! Also within the span of 2 days, I have had two totally disjointed people coming up to me and saying that I generally speak too much (event A), and that the quiet types (event A') are generally very sensible (event B). And over the past one week, I have done a little bit of probability to understand the funda of event A and event A' and the relation to event B and B'. I won't give the conclusion of my hypothesis (called Sindhu's complement hypothesis)that tied the statements directed towards me with the funda of A and A', because I don't really want to.... well, maarofy my own leg with a Kurhaadi! (sheesh, I need to start writing better).

Sounds real profound right? Perhaps not. But how does it matter? It sounds real exotic, and I am sure someday someone will dedicate a wiki page to 'Sindhu's Perspective theory and Complement Hypothesis'. Did I mention that I can write on wikipedia as well? Never mind! That said, I did a lot of introspection (internal research, with myself as my target segment). I found out, as part of my grand study, that I haven't read a newspaper in one week. I haven't seen television over the past week. I don't know the latest gyaan on what Obama is doing or for that matter what anyone is doing. I don't even know the newest movie releasing this week! Man! that is a loss of perspective or what??????

I was just discussing 'Sindhu's Perspective theory and Complement Hypothesis' with a friend this evening, and he said, "Sindhu, get a life. Stop your incessant nonsensical thinking and divert that crooked mind elsewhere. Or else please go sleep. You will be doing humanity a huge favor." So, I decided to make a note to myself. Loads of class reading do not translate into a tight schedule that does not allow you to do stuff you usually did. Everyone around me, manages to find time, to quiz, sing, play the guitar, read, talk, fall in love, fall out of love, blah blah blah. If I cannot find time to do what I like, then who will? And that's when I decided - people centric blog posts shall end starting today. The only person I shall talk about is, well nobody! It's back to thoughts about the greater good of humanity...

At least now, after my declaration, I hope someone other than myself would come over and read my blog!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Of inane displays of ishmartness

The word is arbit. Short for arbitrary. Unfortunately, the term is the shortest part of the phenomenon. Beginning from multi-dimensional displays of a holistic model to basic bassssssssssssic fundamental doubts, the arbit is a show stealer. Its as if old man Kotler got his funde wrong, when he chose to omit a number of pearls of gyaan from his texts and our very own Kotlas and Kotlis were here to dispel the myth that surrounds the surreal world of MAAR KE TING! Honestly, that's what happened to me each time I heard a piece of arbit CP maaroed at the class. A slap on the head that woke me from my reverie, leaving me with a weird tinnnnnnng sound in my head, that sounded more like - whaaa???? where did that come from.

Arbit CP is a given, and we honestly need to thank our fundebaaz arbit CP kings and queens for keeping the 'Spark' alive in class. SMSes zip by - 'Yaar usko mooh bandh karne bol na'. Or 'Consensus - we dunk her into the pool tonight Yes or No'. Plus, we could stay awake, in an afternoon class (hell I haven't had an afternoon class in 5 years!) not in anticipation of the supremely fundoo idea / strategy that was coming our way, but expecting a new funda that we could quote to our great grand children when quizzed what we learnt in business school in our 'zamaana'. Well, I learnt that a 3 D model implies the use of 3 variables and that it is impossible to show more than 3 dimensions on a plane sheet of paper!!!! Wow! key learning indeed! Additionally, post the sessions discussing segmentation, targeting, price points blah blah blah, we have unending discussions discussing faaltooest ACP of the day! In the midst of an incessant deluge of mails that talk of stuff from fighting to running to marketing to consulting (although, given our economy, marketing and consulting would be forced to use skills learnt under fighting and running anyway), the bit on crowning the ACP stud of the day seems truly welcome! Great show Vijeth. Even better are the arguments that follow nominations, clarifying why a nomination is not a nomination of an arbit CP, but rather an expression of uh huh hold your breath - DIVERSITY!!!!!!!

That said, I really want to go hit the sack now. I can't wait for tomorrow, to see what kinds of Random Gyaan can come up when we discuss random variables, probabilities, normal distribution, regression and so on. Given that one of our batchmates has already dropped an atom bomb of wisdom -
Prof: What was regression first used for when it was formulated in the year 18XX?
Student 1: To study relationship between cause and effect… (this was after prof asked the student to be “more specific”)
Student 2: Was it to do something with the East India Company !!! ;)

I think tomorrow is SHOWTIME FOLKS!!!!! Watch this space for more arbit gyaan!!! Uh well, no points for appearing here anyway!

Friday, April 24, 2009


The sleepless nights continue, as though forewarning me about the onerous months ahead. Try as I might, by telling myself that I am running on 16 hrs of sleep over the past 5 days, the eyes don't get droopy, save for the times when I am out in the sweltering heat, with no sign of a breeze, or when I am trying my best to learn random stuff like random variables and their probability distributions! Yeah, look at the randomness (if I may coin such a random usage) of the whole thing. A random variable, and we need to try to find out how probable it would be to try and find this random entity. Like, why didn't statisticians do anything better with their lives?????? I remember a friend of mine who went to major in math and stats a few years ago, remarked to me, that Alfred Nobel's (Nobel Prize wala guy ) daughter ran away with a mathematician and so, there is no Nobel Prize for math, only a Fields' medal (Perhaps Miss Nobel ran away with Mr. Fields) - No offence intended anywhere.

But the fact remains that we as the current generation, and I take the liberty of talking for all of us, that we dislike certain historical entities for highly legitimate reasons. A few years ago, as we struggled with double and triple integrals, not to mention the whole course of engineering as it is, the target of our dislike (that bordered on murderous detestation) was Ol' Man Newton! Yeah, so the apple fell on his head. He and perhaps the whole world might have been happy had he just picked it up and eaten it, without wondering anything! On hindsight, perhaps the world (world of aghast, forlorn, frustrated, depressed, disappointed engineers) would have been so very very happy had he sat under a coconut tree!!!! At present, the target of our negative emotions (at least mine), happens to be the fraternity of statisticians. They do highly credible work, no doubt. They are the smartest bunch in the world, granted. But spare me the onslaught of random gyaan! Like probability of random variables or perhaps a density function of the normal distribution of probabilities of random variables. Look at the English. Does it make any sense at all??????? No, to me, it doesn't. And I doubt whether it ever will.

That said, it just struck me that while I try fighting insomnia that hits me for whatever reason, perhaps the probability of me falling asleep as I sit down with a random textbook that deals with the normal distribution of abnormal persons like me in this highly standardized world, where the standard deviation of the characteristics of the members of the world population (or should that have been census) from those of the mean human being does not exceed 0.2, ranges between 0.9786 and 0.9899. Good night guys!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Diversity - the real deal

Speaking of uniqueness / diversity, I was talking to one of my old friends the other day, and she remarked with some considerable scorn that she was finding it tough finding a decent guy in the marriage market, just because she was not the stereotypical 'BE' types. I for one found it absolutely ridiculous. Though it may sound cliched, I admire diversity in all forms. Now that I really have a chance to interact with so many people from so many diverse backgrounds, I think it kinda adds perspective to your thought. So, while talking to, or working with people who have worked in media or advertising or were auditors, or journalists, one gets to learn a lot more, but more than that, I feel you get many more topics to talk about! So no more awkward moments the next time you meet a relatively unknown soul!!! Besides, being an engineer myself, I realize how grossly unromantic the profession is, let alone being massively adventure-deprived. So, when someone tells me about how they covet my four years of torture degree, I try telling them Bourne's classic statement, 'Don't make it out to be what it isn't'. I'd perhaps be willing to trade ages spent in front of a drab looking computer screen for a life covering war zones or reporting for NatGeo!

Still on the topic of diversity, one event deserves a mention here. Much earlier on, when the whole hoohaa about sections and section points was on, and people were sweating it out (literally), in the hot sun, on squash courts, in tennis courts (playing cricket nevertheless), I wondered, perhaps with a little despair back then, why we were not really amassing the points up there. Clearly we don't lack talent, and clearly we are a rather smart lot. But then after tonight, I realized, 'Each one for themselves'. We had a rocking time together as a team, at our first outing together, talking, learning each others' names for the zillionth time, enjoying it all nonetheless. So what if we don't cheer as loud? So what if our posters don't look like a Mark Rothko? As long as one is happy and satisfied with whatever one is doing, and is happy with the way stuff happens, I guess its safe to say, 'Baaki sab gaye tel lene'. So our team rocks, and cheers to many many more such fundoo sessions, and may we all be one for a long long time to come!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My take on some attitudes

Alright, this is not something I left behind! But since we were on the topic of people and attitudes, I had no choice but to pen this one piece that I have wanted to write about for a very very long time.

The manner in which people carry themselves, as a function of their cultural mores. Ok. This is not a general gyaan session. Its just that I have had a rather large dose of 'gyaan' and so my text may appear gnarled and rambling, much along those lines!

Ok, so getting to the point. I am a Southie, but since I hail from Mumbai, I have had the chance to see people of different cultures thrown together into one huge melting pot called Mumbai. And here are some observations. Two rather, since I want to restrict my gyaan to only two points today. (Psst. I am taking the comments exhorting me to adopt brevity on my posts rather seriously).

So, one - as a community, Gujjus know how to live life king size. And that is something I truly admire. They believe in comfort and an optimal use of their resources to afford enough zing in their lifestyle. That is something Southies have no clue about, in general. The mentality is more like - who cares who sees how I live. So there are seldom any spur-of-the-moment movie outings, or simple 'going out on a drive' events. A coffee event is a coffee at a nearby Udipi place, as against perhaps a Barista or a CCD. Not that I am for indiscriminate expenditure, but the 'stylish' manner of operation in any event is missing amongst Southies to a very great extent.

Second, the dressing sense. Oh man! Trust a Gujju, a Sindhi or a Punjabi to look dapper at all times. Be it a visit to the post office, a doctor's office or even a party. Not a hair out of place, clothes in perfect shape, and a dressing sense that matches them and actually makes them look attractive. Take Southies in contrast. The Kya farak padta hai attitude literally drips into their clothing. Matchless match clothes, over sized long t-shirts not tucked into trousers, perhaps even a soiled dhoti at times. Women with long plaited wavy hair, that hangs in an unruly manner, as if the lady has done the hair a favor by keeping the strands on her head! Sorry to be so blunt, and all I can say to all those Southies who take offence is that I am a Southie as well, although I have had the opportunity to interact and move around the dapper junta, and so, my 'cultural sensibilities' seem to have been influenced a lot more by them, than by my natural community.

That's when I got to thinking why! Why are Southies seldom ever conscious of their societal mannerisms. I chose to believe that their spending attitudes are influenced by a history of poverty. Current generation middle aged people have risen from the dust and made something out of their lives. And so, the inherent nature to save every penny and categorize the supposed good life as frivolous. Secondly, the sloppy dressing. I have seen Israelis who care a jot about their dressing as well, and given the fact that Israelis form the smartest section of the world population, I got to thinking whether the proverbial South Indian arrogance associated with their supposed 'superior big brains' was responsible for their attitude towards their appearance, assuming a parallel between Southies and Israelis could be made. If this indeed is the case, I guess I'd say its time we got off the high horse, since no one likes seeing a sloppily dressed, stingy jockey!

Monday, April 20, 2009

All that I leave behind, Part - III

Being the strong caffeine addict that I am, and since I am in a mood to dedicate specific posts to the loves of my life under the banner 'All that you leave behind', it only made sense to put in a line or two on what I miss the most here - Coffee. And not the aira gaira types, only piping hot, aromatic filter coffee, whose smell alone is enough reason to live!

They say that you can take the Southie out of the coffee, but not the coffee out of the Southie. True, you have so many variants of the coffee, but ask any South Indian, and his favorite beverage is the dark brown, bubbling hot liquid. But the flip side is, that once used to the caffeine king, it is difficult to shake off the habit. I for one, am a little averse to change in that department, and it is an effort to stay awake on tea. Therefore the switch to milk-less, sugar-less dark black tea, that makes me twitch my face in a hideous manner by the time I take my last gulp. Why the torture, you ask me? Simply because I am used to no sugar in my coffee, and 'coffee ho toh filter coffee jaise, varna na ho'. And even in coffees, for me, stronger the better. So, Jamaican coffees, Ethiopian coffees, and of course the Turkish coffee are the all-time favorites, obviously sans milk, sans sugar. Thank God for CCD, that the eventual craving finally gets satiated. But even after an exotic coffee, I always have had to have the lingering taste of the home-brewed filter coffee in my mouth irrespective of the ordinality of the coffee in that day. And that is a taste no CCD, no Barista can find anywhere.

So when Yanni was playing The Marching Season (favorite song) in my room here, I remembered the one day when I had sat down with my usual mug (I even have special mugs for special moods) filled to the brim with piping hot filter coffee, reading Bourne, for the umpteenth time (my favorite book), while The Marching Season played out in the background, and though neither Bourne nor coffee are here with me right now, its the coffee I miss the most....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

All that I leave behind - Part II

Been over 10 days since I last wrote, and almost a week since I left my favorite city to start a year of self discovery and learning at a place totally new to me. So far, the journey has been uneventfully smooth. Thanks to technology, the communication with loved ones goes on uninterrupted, and so, that is one distance that has been effectively bridged. Nothing comes as close to personal interactions, but still, something is better than nothing at all! And of course, the heady feeling associated with meeting new people, getting acclimatized to new surroundings, new routines, still hasn't lost its sheen. So till the patina settles, I guess the mind has enough to be occupied. But there are still some things, that hold on to me. Some things that stay close and dear, and make me lie awake at night at times, staring up into the ceiling, in vivid imagery! Call me insane, or call me change-averse, but I still miss a dozen things intrinsic to Mumbai, rather my life in Mumbai. Do scenes of Mumbai actually leave me sleepless, you ask? Well, it has to do more with the people I left behind at Mumbai, juxtaposed with specific places in Mumbai. The events may be old, but the images are crystal clear and the memories are well, as fresh as a daisy.

The 5 days of bliss, with my dearest friend as we watched 3 movies back to back, phaadoed 3 liters of milk in one day, wondering what to do with the spoils (literally), went off for a looooooong stroll across Marine Drive and came back only to smell LPG in the house the next morning, wondering who to call (Gas Busters perhaps), making a call to someone who lived in a continent 17 hours away, to ask for crisis advice, all the while worrying that our respective parents must not come to know of this event, for fear that we may not be allowed to hang out together in future - PJ Party types all alone. Going to watch a horror movie together with 4 other friends at Sterling, all the while laughing at the frightful sequences, since the whole theater would scream 30 seconds before the frightful sequence, predicting the horror in a way. Unending shopping experiences at Linking Road, while in college, allowing our very own bargain experts to clinch us the best deals (M and M I miss you guys so much)! Valentine's Day as a class at Bandstand, only to be shooed by the owners for being boisterous on a day meant to be quiet and mushy. Rainy days where the eyes would search out in anticipation, wondering whether the roads and railroads would be sufficiently flooded to allow us a day of merry making at school. 4 of us on a katta at Worli Sea Face, Pepsi in hand, toasting my moment. A 2 feet tall bouquet that arrived at my new workplace, sent by my gang at my old workplace. 2 dear friends who faced nothing less than an ordeal to reach VT on the day I left Mumbai, just for those 2 minutes of wishing me goodbye, even though each of them had to undertake 2 hours of traveling to and fro, just to execute this gesture.

Given that I got writable access to the Internet just today, I found no better means of kick starting my writing journey outside Mumbai, than to mention all that I left behind, part II.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

All that you leave behind - I

Ever wondered how one gets reflective at the threshold of moving from one point in life to another? Ever wondered how a sense of belonging tugs at you as you try to say goodbye to a place you love? Ever wondered why a terrible cocktail of gloom, nostalgia and reflection always hits you when you need to take on a change? The change, or rather the gross dislike of it makes me reflective. Reflective about all that I leave behind. No, I am not stealing the name of U2's album. But just this feeling that grips me each time I need to make a move, no matter how long the sojourn compelled me to channelize the ill-tasting cocktail of feelings into a post here! So beginning now, till I manage to get over this change-sickness, the hues over the lilac avenue are bound to be randomly rambling, swinging between vibrantly bright to nostalgic mellow.

There is so much that we as Indians, and further perhaps as Mumbaikars take for granted. And all that we take for granted eventually lines memory lane in the form of all that we do indeed leave behind. For instance,

The sun! Yes, I know people would curse me given the boiling hot temperatures these days in Mumbai. But ask a tropic-bred person to go live near the poles. The first thing they talk about is the lack of sunshine, the depression that hits them when the sun sets at 4 PM. And while here, evening is 7 PM, and the sun is just a part of life.

The mild humid climate intrinsic to Mumbai. Ask anyone living in interior AP, and she'll tell you horror stories of scalding dry heat, sunscreens of SPF 40, darkened skin, parched throats, and so on. But in Mumbai, live every day of the year in the same manner. Thanks to the sea, that sufficiently tempers down severe heat attacks. Well, if we as citizens of the world community do not do much for the environment, the sharply deteriorating climate is bound to kill us all, for global warming is indeed a reality. But then again, that is beside the point here. Perhaps at the rate at which we seem to be plundering the environment, the mild and lovely climate of Mumbai might also be something we'd leave behind!

The sea. Ah! The calming effect it has on harried nerves. The immense presence alone makes one relax, at least that is the effect the sea has on me. But till we have a sea shore in the city, we never bother going to the beach. Too dirty, too messy, too many people, garbage in the water, whatever! But going further, there comes a time in life where one yearns just for the sound of the dirty mucky water lashing against the wave breakers off the sea front!

So much for the ecological aspect of this city, but there is so much more I'd leave behind, that those ramblings are to be staggered over the coming few 'pangs of separation' filled days...