Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A story of bothers

A mother had two sons. One was brilliant and grew up to become a financially successful individual. Other was not brilliant and became someone who was struggling to make both ends meet. In between fate played, like it normally happens in a movie, and as expected his situation got worse.

Now the rich bother can see the miserable plight of the other, but he cared not to help. And instead he gave his mother the riches and the care. But will the mother be happy with the offerings made by her successful son when the other son is suffering? Irrespective of whether it is a Bollywood, Kollywood or a real mother, the answer shall be 'No'; the mom won't be happy, unless she is the step-mom from the Cinderella story.

Now lets come back from the story to the reality. Most of the major religion say(claim) that we are all creation of God and majority of us are followers of one of these religion. So in that sense, from the point of God, we are brothers and sisters. If so, can you make the Father, the God, happy with some rich offering, praises and thanks giving when the majority of the population is suffering? What does He expect us to do or what can we do to make Him happy; offer Him riches and praises or help His other creations? I don’t want an answer; whatever the answer is, it’s for you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


What is happening? It’s not a race, but appears to me as one. Cars, bikes and autos, all lined up, and all eyes set on green light. And on the green light….. Automobiles accelerating as fast as they could, pedestrians rushing, horns hooting…… Welcome to the life 21st century!!!

This is what life in 21st century! Science and technology advanced and came of up solutions in the form of automobiles, computers, etc to make life easy, effortless and better. But is this really effective in making life better? If so, I should be seeing more relaxed and happy people around. But what I see is more of impatient and stressful faces. People running and rushing, because they are running out of time. Where did the time saved by automobiles and computers go? What have we gained with these developments? Where are we rushing to? What are we rushing for? Where are we heading?

A simple answer will be – “This is reality. Accept it and live”. Yes, that’s right, this is reality, and this the order of today’s world. No one has time, only loads of stress. Right from the education, especial professional education (engineering and management), where students are subjected to lots of work load and stress so that they can prepare for a professional life. We are defining and creating a new world; a world built on blocks of stress and competition. It is what matters, a competitive mentality, more than anything. Be competitive, set aside your knowledge and skill, ditch your politeness and ethics, and be successful, that is the mantra of the world today. You will succeed but you won’t be succeeded. The world won’t survive for long with this new mantra. Only few more generation will succeed us!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Discrete journeys in time

The clock in the hall stuck two times. But the time wasn’t 2’O clock; I woke up to hear only the last two, the stokes preceded were toned down by my sleep. I looked for the time, 3’O clock. I don’t like this, to be woken up at midway in my sleep, that too after a heavy lunch. But then whom to blame for, Clock??? No. That would be as good as blaming me; I was the one who bought that clock. It’s a nuisance, but I love the cuckoo and the design.

It was mid July and I was in my home town, Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala, taking few days off from the busy “professional life” of a Bangalore software engineer. It was two hours since my lunch, but the stomach is still full. “Crap! It is almost time for my snacks and the stomach is still full. Lazy stomach, not matching my appetite!!!” Whenever in a problem, I feel comfortable after putting the blame on someone or something, even if it is my own stomach. I could have blamed my appetite, but I then don’t want to. After all who wants to be on a diet while on a vacation at home?

And there is one more reason for not blaming my appetite. In my 3 years of Bangalore life when everything else (salary, health, peace of mind, knowledge, aptitude) failed to reach my expectation (few of them even diminished), the only thing that surprised me and went above my expectation. That is my appetite for food at home. A journey through my life will show you how big change it is.

I still remember, in my school days, how I used to love food from restaurants, and how I used to hate boiled rice and curry at home. Then my love was for food like fried rice, noodles, parota and bread toast. During that time, for lunch, mom usually gave me rice and curry, and rarely chapatti, or bread and jam. Getting the lunch box I used to weight it, a heavy one means rice and light one meant that I will be happy. But two weeks before in Bangalore, while having fried rice from a restaurant for dinner I wasn’t a happy person I should have a few years back in the same situation. I was missing badly the food I hated in my childhood.

That is how things can change with time and as my mind continued its journey through the sensations my taste buds had through its life, the clock struck again. This time four times. I heard all the four strokes; my sleep wasn’t sound enough to mute the sound of the clock. I got up from my bed, washed my face and went out to take some fresh air.

As the saying goes “looks are deceiving”. If it is true with humans, then we have inherited it from our mother nature. Nature told me nothing less to 6 ‘O clock, but a few minutes before science told 4. A dim lighting prevailed. There was a cold breeze, announcing the arrival. I looked up the sky; all over covered with dark clouds; expect for a bright spot, our beloved sun. Behind the dark clouds it looked more like the moon. This was the second deceiving look of the day, the sun using clouds as mask to disguise as the moon.

Suddenly there was a rustling sound, somewhere from the west. The sound closed by and the breeze got stronger and colder. Then, one drop, few drops, and then, it was pouring. I got back into home in a flash. Standing by the veranda, I watched the nature taking bath. It was doing a cleaning action on plants and tress, removing the dirt and old leaves. The cold breeze, now a colder wind, was sprinkling rain over my face. I tilted up my face a bit and got more rain drops over my face. It was as if the droplets washing my face, and the wind brushing my hair.

In front of me, with my eyes half shut and closing rapidly to block the drops from entering eyes, I saw a beauty that I had seen in a forward mail a month before when I was in Bangalore, sitting inside a maze like structure called “cubicle”, detached from the outside world, and not knowing whether it is rain or shine outside. The mail had the subject “Fw: When it rains in Kerala”, with photographs showing typical Kerala ~ paddy fields, ponds, traditional houses(“Naale kettu”), and surroundings ~ in rain. Seeing these I felt like catching the next train to home. But I had some lively deadlines to meet.

Watching this beauty my mind wandered in time, and reached my infancy. I don’t remember the feeling I had for rain then. But I should have enjoyed watching it, and would have wanted to play in it. Obviously mom wouldn’t have allowed me to do so.

Stepping into school rain had a different image in my life. The rain usually visits Kerala on the first week of June. And that is the time when the school reopens after the summer holidays. Many times the very day of reopening, saw the onset of south west monsoon in Kerala. To travel to school in rain, and to sit in class wet were reasons enough to hate rain in the morning. In the evening, while getting back to home, it was OK to have rain. But the most unacceptable time to have rain was during lunch break and physical education period. This is why I hated the rain so much during that time for keeping us away from games. Seeing the clouds or rain we used to pray for a clear sky, “Rain rain go away come again another day.” But rain Gods seldom heard.

In my college days, rain was a great relief from the heat and humidity of Cochin. But during the days of exams, rain was like giving sedative to a fainting person. I don't know how or why, but was during the exam days that I had my best sleeps, deep sound sleep. And at that time, when trying hard to keep my senses awake and focused on learning, rain was not a pleasing guest. And in my four years on engineering, there were only a few such displeasing visits by rain.

Suddenly someone called me from behind. It was mom with a cup of tea. No better time to have a tea. I took cup and started having tea. Tea and rain, that was great. Right now also I am having tea and it is raining outside. But there are a few differences. Then in Thrissur at home, now in Bangalore in office. There the rain was meeting trees, here it is concrete. There I was feeling rain. Here I am only seeing rain; there is a glass and concrete structure, covering the building, and isolating me from the outside world. There, after rain it is a beautiful nature, but here, after rain it is an overflowing drainage system and a heavy traffic. The blog ends here, but the thoughts doesn’t.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My ego

Caring me petty,
Having fun plenty,
We were kids,
When we met.

Forgot, how she looked then,
Too young was I to care that,
In my life day and night,
Like a shadow since then.

Sometimes ahead, leading,
Sometimes behind, pushing,
Lays down path for me,
Forced the path she laid.

A lot I paid,
For paths she laid.
Denying my heart,
Taking dear apart.

Now I am a salve,
And insane,
But I want be free,
And sane,

So my ego,
Please go.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stop, I want to get down!

I got an offer for a journey during the final year of my engineering graduation course. A journey, that commenced, a few days after my last day of college. A journey, for which, the destination was not known, or I did not give much thought to it rather. A journey, that I had decided to take on, as it was the safest and best option for me then. And the bus for it also appeared great, when I saw it from a distance.

It was an A/C bus, with tint glasses all around isolating us from the world outside. Round the clock, artificial light and air prevailed, making the rotation and revolution of Earth insignificant inside. And as I got in, I saw most of the co-passengers seated before my entry, and a few others got in with me. The bus was almost fully packed with some vacant back seats, where we were asked to be seated. It was comfortable place, out of sight of many, felt relaxed, and with lot of faces smiling at us, we had a seemingly friendly atmosphere welcoming us.

As the journey progressed, I was moved a seat ahead. Felt happy about it, but at the same time started feeling a little pressure, which I didn't care then. But as it went on, this pressure increased, beyond my threshold. There were lot of co-passengers, staring at me, and with switching behaviours, or was that I got old enough to understand their actual behaviours?

And to add-on, there were frequent fights - fights for window seats, for front seats and for whatever that seemed better. In that battle for better, some were pushed out of our seats ~ some moved out by themselves, and some got out of the bus, but into another bus which seemed better to them. These fights never ceased, for no one seemed to be happy with the seat they occupied, for their thirst for better was never quenched, for a better one was always there in their view.

The above things did bother me, but not much. What bothered me the most was, the journey fare. In the beginning I didn't have much idea about it, it was never explicitly told, but lately came to know about that. It was in the form of some rules which states – "The bus will only stop at driver's or bus conductor's wish, and never at yours." “Sit, where you are asked to, doing what you are assigned to do, and never question it or the system that rules you."

That fare was too much for me. It became difficult to get down for personal needs, irrespective of its sensitivity. It became mandatory to do things that your logic or heart have no desires to do.

This is what the life of a software engineer is - fights for appraisals, sacrifice of personal life to meet deadlines and milestones of a professional life, doing work- most of which will question your reason for doing engineering.

My freedom or logic is too much to be paid as a fare for a journey of this kind. For me, given any moment of time in my life, I want to enjoy, I want the freedom to do what I want to, and I do not want to do things that my logic does not digest or my heart will not agree upon.

And so, I was left with no other choice than to get out of this bus – "So please stop, I want to get down!"

P.S: Dedicated to a friend of mine who missed his roommate’s marriage because of his professional life.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The language diary

I studied in an English Medium School, in Kerala, where the rules on the language of communication was very strict. There was this particular rule, which stated - "The students are suppose to speak only English, while inside the school compound; except during the language hours, where respective languages can be used." This was equivalent of asking us not to use our mother tongue, the beautiful Malayalam language, for communication. But in our God's own country, as always, rules are made to be broken; no one bothered to obey this rule, unless in the close proximity of a teacher. So rather than to us, this rule became a head ache to the head of our institution.

The head of our institution, our beloved Headmaster (HM), was a nightmare, especially, when with his cane. Irrespective of whether you are a good student or a bad student, everyone gets scared by his presence; such was his cane’s reputation. And now, he had the task of enforcing the language rule, the reason due to which "the language diary system" was formulated.

The basic idea behind this system is simple ~ "find the users of Malayalam, punish them, and thereby, motivate them to speak English." A small pocket diary was used to serve this purpose. It acts as a log book, holding the names of mother tongue using mass of the class. This diary will have an owner, a temporary post, for which anyone using Malayalam was eligible. He has the task of, finding a new owner, and logging his name into this diary, at the earliest. For this, he should have some very good observation skills, keen enough to spot anyone speaking Malayalam. And if successful, log the new owner's name, and hand over the ownership to him. Now the new one has to do the same and keep it going. This process tracks the users of mother tongue, but won't stop them from using it. For that, some effective motivation was required.

Remaining is that "motivation” part of the system, motivating enough to make us speak English. It’s the two punishments associated with the violation of the language rule, one for the ordinary stake holders of the diary, and a special one for those distinguished owners who keeps it for more than three days. For the ordinary stake holders, it is to sit inside the class during the next lunch interval and study. And by doing so, we have to sacrifice our lunch interval games, our only motivation for coming to school.

Now for the distinguished owners, who blocks the journey of our diary for three days, it is the special one. It is a special meeting with the HM, during which, his cane will leave such an impression, which even the time will fail to erase, from both body and memory. By this punishment, our rule expects, at least one of the students to spell out a Malayalam word within three days, and the diary holder to be keen enough to spot that act.

Finally, on a fine Monday morning, during my sixth standard, the language diary came into our class. It was a busy customer in the beginning; breaking of language rule was so frequent. You could hear a lot of Malayalam words being spoken all around, and this made the process of passing this diary easy and frequent. At the end of the day you will find, at least, a quarter of the class population registered for the next day’s lunch interval class. And on the next day, this crowd will be seen seated inside the class, during the lunch break, cursing our universal language.

But as it went on, there was a sharp downfall in the rate at which diary got transferred. No one seemed to be interested in the "lunch break class", any longer. Now don't get the idea that we became comfortable with English, but we learned to adjust to the situation. We started spotting the current owner of the diary, and with this information, modulated the voice low enough to break away his sense of hearing.

Unfortunately, our hero got the diary during a peak drought period. Everyone came to know about our diary's current owner, and took special care not to bless his ears with Malayalam words. Thereafter, like a software engineer for a weekend, his ears were desperate for a Malayalam word. This desperate situation prevailed for two days, before it became acute; because if this continuous for one more day, he will be distinguished enough for the special meeting with the HM.

Now, our hero was scared to hell, thinking about meeting with HM. He was running out of time, had to do something urgently. No one was helping his course; some out of box act was required. Suddenly an idea stuck him. He marched towards a boy in the class, and without any warning, gave him a nice pinch on the back of his arm. Whatever the situation may be, our language system expects students to communicate only in English. But our poor guy’s reflex, was not so well versed in English, to cry out, "Mother' or "Mummy", in that severe, out of the blue pain. Instead, he screamed, "Ammaee" (Mother in Malayalam). And that was what our hero was desperate for, his ears were finally blessed, and right away he initiated the process to transfer the diary.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A bail in advance

College days! Four years of engineering, flew past so fast, even faster than I could comprehend. The time I enjoyed the most, too nostalgic ~ too romantic ~ filled with egos, clashes, crushes, proposals, disposals, placements, photostats, exams, 'supples', 'crities', 'chits', SMS, assignments, labs, seminars, projects, presentations ,arts days, sports days, tech days, mass bunking, movies, picnics and lot more. Life at its best has now left me, but not without leaving behind a lot of memories, to think and to cherish forever.

A journey back through those old days, it's always a nice feeling.

Lab exams, it was like buying a CFL from Chinese shop ~ an amount of luck is definitely required, to get a one that will work for us. For the above reason, the most disliked one amongst the exams, but it still held a special place, both in college and memory.

Luckily on that day, I got an easy experiment ~ an amplifier design and implementation. Without much thought, I downloaded the circuit from my brain on to the paper, got the customary proceed command from the external examiner, and crossed first big hurdle. Next, I had to assemble the circuit and somehow make it work ~ "Goddess of luck, stay with me for some more time..." Seemed she heard, the circuit worked, half the job was done, much relieved.

But this relief didn't last for long, I was called for the viva session. Here, it was all about how well the examiner's questions and my knowledge correlates - "Oh god, he should ask me only what I know, something simple and shouldn't probe into things much."

As usual, the examiner started shooting questions. First shot, I should say, a point blank one, had no answer for that, my confidence started eroding.

Waiting for the next one, I was asked to explain the working of my circuit.It's simple... had mugged it up previous night. It was just a matter of one more download from the brain, but this time in an audio form. Did it briskly. Together wit a nod, his ‘ok’ sounded good enough.

While I was in the process of gaining the lost confidence, came the next question - “Explain the how circuit was designed?”

Easy one, straightaway I started – “Assume 10% voltage drop across this resistor.....then assume a 20% there....”

But before I could complete, he interrupted – “Why is it a 50% drop there?”

“@#@$#@%#...thokkinde edayil kayari vedivachathum pora, oru mandan chodyavum. If there was a reason, why in the world would I use the word assume?” But I answered - “Don’t know” - politely.

Straight off, came the next one, "If I give these assumptions and formulae to a 10th standard boy, wouldn’t he be able to do it?"

I thought, he should be, given these formulae and knowing the word meaning of "assume". I told, "Yes, he would be."

Without any delay, the last shot was also triggered, - "If so, what is the difference between you both?"

"Now, is this a question for an engineering viva or for some sort of a psychological test?",expecting a bullet, sending a missile is always a foul play. Only answers that came to my mind was - "That is an out of syllabus question!!",or "The difference is so obvious. He will be much younger to me", but I kept quiet, for that answers can make my mark look younger, and definitely not the time to flaunt my cheekiness.

The truth is, there isn’t much difference; even we were treated like school children, wearing uniform, spoon fed, with the strictness of a school. Many things were taught and learnt, but all in an examination point of view, for marks. Precisely speaking spoon fed, in a very limited amount of time. The result, we ended up, not only in assuming lot of things, but also in not knowing the essence of it.

Like the X-Ray, some were accidental. But, for majority, it was necessity that lead to their invention and there is some practical, intelligent thought processes and applications associated with each. But when these came to us, almost every thing seemed like 'accidents'; courtesy to the way we learnt.

Having been an engineering student for 4 years, I have met with lot of such 'accidents'. We have learned a lot of theories and formulae, but what led to these, their practical applications, are still mysteries for us. These were all masked, for lack of time, and for want, only of mark. No one cared for these; parents, teachers and students cared, but only for marks.

In time, all these helped us to forget to think, to imagine and to analyse, and it has reached a situation where our brains could be replaced by hard disks. It's high time to change our attitude towards learning. Learn, to gain knowledge, to think, and not just to get marks.

PS : But then, I still like that word, “assume” ~ an advance bail for not explaining things !