Sunday, December 23, 2012

Loose thyself

Ok, so the story goes like this. There was this person who wanted to see Tagore, when Tagore was on his deathbed and wanted some everlasting piece of advice.

So he goes through Tagore's secretary and asks the secretary also about some advice. He scribbles on the gyaan seeker's note pad "Know Thyself". When our man goes to meet Tagore then,  Tagore flipping the pages asks him about the Know Thyself gyaan, Tagore then scribbles, "Loose Yourself"

I have this personality trait, that when I am seeking something, I just go after it without worrying about whether I am in company of a group, with a friend or alone. The objective matters so much to me that I just forget everything else. It's been some time since I called upon that function in my personality, because it does drain me of a lot of energy, when called. But even otherwise, when analysing myself from outside, I see that trait manifesting in some or the other form in my day to day interactions.

I did spend a lot of time during my engineering in my college library reading out of syllabus books, foreign authors, Aristotle, Socrates.Og Mandinho etc. During these days, when I did start studying for my exams I picked up the syllabus, picked up the reference books, few last years question papers and just started studying. It took me a few semesters to come to this approach but I kind of stream lined the whole thing. At that time I did see others around me who studied in groups of two or more. To me at that time it kinda looked odd as to why people do that. The only time somebody came to me was when he/ she had a doubt, and felt I knew things. I rarely did, but I asked a lot of questions so that others could better articulate their doubts, and once they did that, they realised that they already had the answers. I only once approached my senior with a doubt. He gave me just a simple advice. Re read the whole thing as many times as you need to till you figure it out. He was right, and then I did not need to approach any body else. I rarely approached my teachers, I kinda felt they merely read out from some stupid India author's book and did not have a lot of depth on the subjects, except a few.

Fast forward all these years, and I tell N to start a blog, start writing more rigorously, bring a lot of discipline in her writing and all that, and then I get frustrated when nothing moves. Finally the penny dropped a few days back when I realised the differences between her and me. She needed a lot of support, wanted to do things along with me, always wanted me by her side when trying something new, and all I offered were lectures, and why can't you see the bird's eye only, everything else is noise kind of BS, that I naturally seem to come up with.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Baby you are a rich man

Life seems to be flying by. Days at office, weekends. It is moving so fast, that I don't seems to have time to stop and reflect. A lot of times, when taking a chai break at work, all by myself, or looking down from my 5th floor office I start thinking, where have I come ? How come did I end up here? What have I done?

Btw we bought a refrigerator today. I tried resisting it for as long as I could, but then just bought it. Something to the tune of actions being in disagreement with my approach / take on life.

I don't know why but I have always wanted to be a ascetic. Though shall not carry any baggage physical or mental kind of stuff. But then, I am moving away from it. As crazy as it might sound, someday I might also harbour a thought of buying a house or a car.

The house buying is slowly coming to me. The great Indian housing dream. The mortgage life. The 20 year loan. Buying an asset for the future.

Anchoring my self to an idea. A job, a landmass, a city, a country. It seems to be a drifters homecoming.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Diwali 2012

A few firsts in this Diwali

  • We bought cane based lampshades
  • My first married Diwali
  • I want to go to a temple on an Indian Festival. Not the typical Omkareshwar types, but Ramakrishna Mission in Khar types
  • We have discovered the chocolate shops in Crawford market, when we were trying to find cane lampshades
  • I am paying a rent in Bombay. 
  • I bought an upgrade for a game. Letter press on iPhone. Today
  • I am using a Mac Book Pro( mine) and an iPhone( from Office)

There is this scene in English Vinglish after the video where Amitabh Bachan says something on the first experience - Pehla Anubhav. I like that

Monday, October 15, 2012

Phulambari was it ?

The pleasure of going on a random trip remains, now with my companion- my wife. I had been to Ajanta Ellora before, but for some reason the only memory I had of the travel were travelling in a three wheeler from point A to point B. All other memories of the mode of travel were wiped out.

Trip 2 made me realise that point A was Phulambri and point B was Ellora. In trip 1, I had first gone to Pune, stayed at my friend's place for a day and from there taken a bus to Aurangabad. We had seen Bibi ka makabra in Aurangabad somewhere towards the twilight, Ajanta sometime in the morning and Ellora again sometime during the evening.

I cannot re construct the trip well but from what I recall, we had reached Aurangabad towards Day 1 evening from Pune, checked into a hotel and then had our dinner along with some wine. My friend could not complete his peg and so I had to help him. I remember his saying that we can leave the alcohol on the table, but then my respect for alcohol came in the way. On day 2 early morning, we had taken a Bus to Ajanta, seen Ajanta, had our lunch in the MTDC hotel at the foothill and met this charming foreign lady who was re living her mother's trip from many years back. We had then left Ajanta, got down at Phulambari, waited for a long time for a bus, then given up and hired an overpriced three wheeler towards Ellora.

On Day 2 we had also visited Bibi ka Makabara and my friend used his newly bought camera for some artistic twilight shots. We then were at a loss as to our return mode. As there were no buses available, we had to had to hire a taxi upto Pune. The taxi stopped somewhere for dinner, I forget the name of the place. I eat my normal course of two tandoori rotis, and my friend around 7-8. For the fist time I realised that people in this world can eat a lot more than three tandoori rotis. We reached Pune around 3 AM on day 3, my friend refused to take any money for the taxi, dropped me at the wakad phata and took the taxi to his home. I took a KSRTC bus and sat somewhere near the driver and came back to Mumbai.

Trip 1 was in 2007. I had just taken up a job after my MBA and was mighty frustrated and just wanted to take time out.

Trip 2 was in 2012. I had now discovered and started using google maps, forums, indiarailinfo, and GOI's tatkal scheme.

Sine My saturdays have beed made working, the trip was a trifle tight one.

Day 1 : Wifey called up and told me tatkal tickets were available in the train from Jalgaon, in which I had bought second class tickets for day 2. She went ahead and bought them and cancelled the second class tickets. I was on my way to work then. I left work around 12:30, reached home around 1. A few arguments on mangalsutra ensued, and we were almost about to miss the janshatabadi to aurangabad from dadar. We nearly ran upto Sion station and somehow got into a train towards dadar, and reached dadar exactly 5 minutes before the Janshatabdi''s departure time.

I have travelled in Jan shatabdi's before. They can be pretty draining for the fact that you need to remain in a sitting posture for 5-6 hours. Janshatabdi's also come in two forms. One is really congested, the one in which I went to Ratnagiri for the first time and a bit less congested types in which i have been lucky enough to travel 3-4 times. But still the trip does dran oneself. IN hindsight, I would have taken the Jabalpur Garib Rath from Dadar, got down at Manmad, and taken the Janshatabdi from Manmad to Aurangabad.

In this trip I met a 62 year old Muslim uncle whose job was to pray for couples who do not have children. In this trip he was going to pray in some shrine in Aurangabad. The last time he had gone to Nagpur. I met another 45-50 year old gentleman who works in the security department in SBI. He asked me stuff about my salary, my job etc. He was critical of Gen X who do not know anything but want easy jobs. He is apparently in some interview panel for SBI.

We reached Aurangabad around 8:30. Took a longish bus to MGM hospital where we were staying with Wifey's friend for the night. The trade off was between an auto and a Bus ride.

Day 2: Surprisingly we could wake up at around 6:30 AM and took an auto for the Bus stand towards Ellora. The auto guy informed us that Aurangabad has two bus stands, so that different buses headed in two different directions do not need to enter the city. A very good idea indeed.

He also asked us not to take the Ellora bus in which the fare was around 230 per head, but rathar a Bus towards Kannad. I misunderstood him and took a bus ticket for Kannad rathar than Ellora. We tried to negotiate with the conductor to exchange the tickets, but he did not relent.

We were pleasantly surprised when we reached Ellora in 30-35 minutes with almost no hassel in a maharastra State transport bus. We took a auto to take us to a few far flung caves, which really weren't far and completed our tour by 11 ish. We also went around Ellora to see the Grineshwar jyotirling.

We left Ellora for Khuldabad to take a Bus towards Phulambri but very soon realised that we had missed the 11:30 AM ST bus and the time of the next bus was a random function. Luckily we got a three wheeler, which this time was shared with a few other locals.Throughout the trip the auto driver kept gesturing to three wheelers coming from the other side asking whether the police were checking the vehicles on the road ahead. He informed me that his vehicle was licensed to carry only three passengers but was carrying around 7-8, which was a minor hassel. The major hassel was that his vehicle was a private vehicle and was not suppose to carry any passengers.

Luckily neither did the police choki happen to us nor did the driver develop any cold feet midway in the journey. THroughout I kept tracking our GPS location, least we had to travel the rest of the distance towards Phulambari on our feet. We had our lunch at Phulambri, as is our wont on travel with lots of Salad. We then took another ST bus to Ajanta, which just took another one and half hour.

In Ajanta wifey dropped the tickets and panicked a bit before everything was set right. We left Ajanta at 6:30 PM and reached Jalgaon at around 8 PM. We then had a heavy dinner at Jalgaon, got offended by a co passenger and safely reached home, the next day morning. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Things to research on

A classification of the development sector

  • Grass Root work
  • Allied work

A grass root work may be difficult as it entails going to the project site and working. When I include the bias of my age and the stage i am in my life cycle.

In the allied space:

1. Confluence of Business and development space is interesting
2. Social Investment
3. Informational services for Agri, Dairy, seed space

Companies in Social Investment

In Mobile space

In energy

In Clean Development Mechanism( CDM) space

  • UNDP
  • US AID 


  • Research center
  • Center for development finance
  • Center for micro finance

Consulting space

In ILFS, Cluster development Initiative wing

Internet for rural market

A career in this space will set you back by about five years in terms of compensation.

Husk is doing good today, because it is operationally profitable. The management cost is provided by grants. As it moves forwards and scales up, the management cost will be apportioned to a scaled up operation, and this scaled up operation may then provide cash flows for the management cost.

It is kind of a chicken and egg.

Mumbai has lot of consulting companies in this space. But will you really enjoy doing the consulting work. From the compensation angle consulting will be your best bet.

Delhi is the hub of NGO companies. Both demand and supply meet here.

This assessment is based on the past trends, and with the expectation that the future will be like the past. This is the main assumption in our discussion.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sri Lanka day 2

So finally after a good night's sleep, after many nights for both her an me, I wake up the next day suitably refreshed. She is a lot more tired and will take some more time. I spend that time sitting in the balcony reading raag darbari, watching the sea, the beach and Europeans sunbathing . I also keep on checking whether she has woken up from time to time.

Yesterday we saw masks of various mythological characters in the few shops which were open when we went for a walk . We will also start a pattern here which shall continue for the next few days, waking up late lazing around having a late breakfast, a late lunch and towards the end of the day running around trying to play catch up with time.

We leisurely have a simple breakfast, go for a walk on the beach and sit there for some time . A lot of locals have come for picnic to the beach. They are sitting under the coconut trees enjoying the snacks they have brought along. The lovers here are peculiar. All of them are enjoying their privacy and shielding themselves using an umbrella, something we will again see in Galle face in Colombo.

We come back to the hotel pack our bags and checkout. We tell our hosts about our next destination, Anuradhapuram and they suggest us some possible routes. We reach the main town bus stand in a local bus and eat at a chennai like restaurant.

A very normal way to have food in SL is when the waiter gets you a huge plate filled with Alu gondas and other such fried stuff. At first we thought that people somehow eat this whole stuff but after observing carefully we realized that you can eat whatever you want and leave the rest in the plate, you are only billed for what you eat.The pieces you have left will be presented to someone else.

Taking directions from some other locals,we take a bus for place b .Quite obviously, we overshoot place b and end up at place c. We reach C by about 2:30. A helpful auto wallah tells us that we just need to wait for some time and a bus for Vavuniya would come and take us there. We wait there for an hour and half. During this time the auto wallah gets some sawari and hands over our responsibility to another autowallah.  In due course he comes back and stands up to his responsibility again. We stand there on the bus stop along with just a few other passengers. All of them keep getting their buses and moving on, but our bus keeps us waiting. I chat for some time about Bombay , India, movies etc with the autowallah. Apparently he hasn't been to Anuradhapuram ever. All the time both she and I are getting more nervous, and I have started making my back up plans. Many buses come and go and each time we look with expectant eyes towards our auto wallah and he sheepishly says no not this one. All sign boards on the bus are in the local language.

After we have lost all hope suddenly the auto wallah stops a bus which was zipping past us and yells Vavuniya . Luckily the bus stops for us and we run and get into the bus. We barely have time to say goodbye and thank you to everybody at the bus stand. The bus has some disappointments. It is pretty cramped and all seats are taken. About standing for a couple of hours later we somehow manage to get seats. She meanwhile befriends a local guy and tells him the address of our next hotel mahenela.

The journey from Negombo to Puttalam is pretty scenic with sea on our left, but we are kept standing in this journey and cannot see much out of the window. Purtalam has one of the biggest lagoons which I guess we had also seen from our flight. We run along a railway track as well, but there are no trains on it. We and the railway tracks part our ways in Puttalam.

After Puttalam we get a place to sit.It has started raining heavily and is getting dark very fast as well. We reach our destination around 8 PM. Our stranger friend tells us to follow him when getting down from the bus. We follow him blindly. After getting down he asks us to get into the taxi which has come to pick us up. He explains the driver that we are headed for Mahanela, The driver fortunately knows the address and dutifully deposits us there. My fidgety attempt to pay him his met with a smile and a No. This is the only time we get into Taxis in Sri Lanka. At all other times we use tuk tuk.

Taxis in Sri Lanka are big. Almost in the shape of mini vans. All of them are of foreign makes. If one were to bring these taxis in small towns in India, they would easily accommodate about 50 people. The taxi development seems to have missed India and directly landed in Sri Lanka.

It is raining heavily and we have luckily managed to reach both our guest house and Anuradhapuram today.

The bus ride was pretty tiresome and we eat some rice that the lady of the house offers us. Tomorrow we will have a western breakfast for the first time, and take this yuk tum story further ahead .

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sri Lanka Day 1

We reached Colombo at around 11 AM. The immigration officer at Chennai, asked me whether this was my first time out of India, and I said Yes. The Security person struck up a random conversation with me as to from where I was and that he was from nearby as well. But later, I realised that he was merely double checking my place of Birth given in the passport.

The Immigration Q at chennai was long and dirty and only four counters were servicing the outgoing passengers, a lot of them to gulf. Colombo was exactly opposite. Neat and clean and better managed. I wanted to buy foreign currency from Thomas Cook at Chennai, but the buggest were offering a stupid rate and additional 10 % service fee.

I landed in Sri Lanks with a lot of Indian currency and asked the counters outside the Negombo airport for  exchange but all of them refused. They only exchange dollars.

Luckily my debit card worked in an ATM and voila I had SriLankan currency.

We took a free airport bus service to Negombo Bus Stand. From there another Local bus to Negombo. From there a tuk Tuk to Hotel Topaz on Negombo Beach. As both I and wife were super tired and without sleep, we both hit our bunkers.

We only woke up in the evening and went for a walk on the adjacent road. Music was blaring from a nightclub and all were dancing, but no a single women in the nightclub. We went up the other end some restaurants were filled up by europeans and we were getting the feel that I was in Europe and not in Asia.

Tomorrow it will be 4 PM and I will still be in Negombo waiting for a bus, about 180 KM away from Anuradhapuram making back up plans of extending my stay in Negombo. And suddenly Vavuniya will happen.

Paauj Dam Rajkot

So I randomly end up in Rajkot for some office work. I had for some reason assumed that it was some city in Rajasthan.

I saw Pauj Dam and Kaba Gandhi No Delo there. Mr. Gandhi's childhood residence. 

People for some reason were feeding wheat dough to fishes near Pauj Dam. I asked two people their reasons:

A: If I offer something to fishes only then will God offer me something
B: You should offer something to Vimuk living things. Also you should serve people who need help.

I struck up a conversation with Mr B and he offered me a lift back up to certain place in Rajkot from where I could take a share rickshaw. 

Sometimes I think Life becomes so easy if I randomly strike up conversations with unknown people and befriend them. The same principle somehow never works in a corporate career or I haven't been able to operationalize it. It contradicts with some other stupid theories on not accepting mediocrity and some other crap like that.  

Things said about me: 

C: You are quite philosophical. A colleague casually asked How are you and I said, Life goes on
D( A friend many years back, somewhere in 2006) : Either you will be a spectacular success or a spectacular failure. What ever you do in life you will do something spectacular. 

My response to him was, you know success means different things to different people, and somehow I have been a bit itsy bitsy about accepting the conventional idea around success. Small House, Small car, Big House , Big car, Bigger...

Books I have been trying to read: 
1. Nanchilnadu: The political economy of agrarian change
2. Straw Revolution. 

Nanchilnadu is a mashup between history and economics. Of the two subjects the former I hated when I was in my school and the later I loved during my MBA days. When I come to think about it, I only enjoyed two subjects during MBA, Statistics and Economics. Marketing was crap, SCM was good to listen and talk about, but I never figured it. Finance was a royal tangent, where I use to discover fundamental concepts on NPV and B/s after coming out of the exam hall. Or rather that, my concepts were flawed and as such the exam was over and there was no point in figuring out the right concepts now anyways.

Straw revolution is about Naturalism and a critique about the practices of mass agriculture available today. 

Marriage changes viewpoints. Like:
  1. A macbook pro is not such a bad thing after all
  2. The need for a direction in life and the communication about it to others around you
  3. Cutting down on One's impulsive nature
  4. Patience. 
  5. Kids??? Which species is called Kids. No clue.
  6. Stability. 
  7. A plan for life. 
Yeh duniya maya ki bagule jivan mukti kar le

BTW i discovered another super BS philosophy about life. Life is about finding problems, articulating them and solving them. Love is a team sport. So we keep finding our entanglements and fixing them, and life keeps on passing.These niggles will be there always. It will be like this forever. EIther you find contentment today or you will never find it.

My repartee: Contentment is Growth's anathema. Though better people than me have found the correct proportions to mix the both and live a fulfilling life.

This corporate life has indoctrinated me a bit. I have started thinking about salary, grades, promotions, performance etc. I was snapped out of this when a senior said this: 

I don't care about money. It felt like hearing myself a few years back. 

I have other things which are working for me here, my work is good, my boss is fine, I have been able to perform etc. 

For others of his batch a few things did not work out, like some freaked out thinking about money, some did not get a good boss, some got shitty work. And so they moved on.

Though I might be short in the long term about a corporate career, I have realised that in the short term, while I am in it, I need to be more hopeful. And keep working towards it with my magic wand on systems, constraints, objectives, iterations, indifference etc.  

In rajkot I had a special Khandawi opposite some cinema. Hotel was called some Lodge. And lunch in Bhabha Hotel. ON my way back stayed in Ahmedabad for a day and bought a couple of chunries from few shops near footpath near Piramal Garden. 

Where are we heading silicon valley?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Sri Lanka - Day 0 + Planning

Nov 25, 2011
This was the day which was suppose to be spent in preparing for tomorrow's trip. We were suppose to have packed our stuff completely for the early morning flight tomorrow. But, this was also the day we were throwing a wedding reception, my parent's idea. Till very late, up to one month before my marriage I had resisted the temptation of throwing a reception.The way I saw it, it was a waste of money and time. But, like other things my view was over ruled, sometimes by dialogue, at others by subterfuge. But I guess, finally it was worth it as N and others had a gala time.

The reception ended at about 12 AM and left us with a few hours of sleep. i.e. if we had slept off as soon as reaching our home. But an argument soon followed on the utility of a bagpack (my idea) and a heavy bag(her idea). We were going to have a road trip, and I did not see how a heavy bag would be accommodated in trains, buses and autos. The argument ended with me giving in, but the next day morning common sense prevailed and we decided on bag packs, at the cost of some items which N badly wanted to bring to the trip.

We slept at 1:30 AM and woke up around 4 AM. The morning had another mini argument and we got into the cab at 4:20AM. The flight was at 6:05 AM from the airport, and I had all but given up on reaching up on time. In my mind I was making calculations as to what would be next best way to reach Colombo.

Before planning on flights, I had also contemplated going to Colombo in a ferry. The plan was to take a Mumbai Madurai flight,with a transit halt at Chennai. And from Madurai, either take a train, Bus or a cab to Tuticorin. From Tuticorin a liner plies three days a week to Colombo. And the ticket was about 2.7K per person on the ferry/ship. Unfortunately this ferry plies on Fridays, and then Mondays, which would have delayed my trip even further. I actually had made plans for taking this on the Friday Nov 25th, but then my reception came in the way.

A lot of planning for this trip was through online discussion boards, lonelyplanet, tripadvisor, agoda, etc. In the first iteration the plan was sri lanka + maldives. But then I read about Maldives and realised it was a pretty commercial place with sky high diving equipment renting costs. And then the overriding thought that when I am going to a particular country I would rather spent all my time there and enjoy ourselves there rather than hopping from one country to another to touch maximum places.

So, first I started with all the places I wanted to visit in Sri Lanka, basis user reviews on lonely planet and trip advisor. Then I put them on google maps. Finally I sketched out a route that I could take. I also read about public transport in Sri Lanka. The reviews about public transport in buses and trains were pretty good. I also ended up downloading the entire bus and train timetable, but never actually used it.

 In the ensuing iterations I deleted a few cities and added a few others.

I gave this itinerary to a few travel agents, but none actually came back with a quote for my plan. Rather they each modified my plan according to their whims, and commercial interests.

It finally came down to me myself planning the entire hotel booking with N. I did not do bother about local transportation and felt that I will figure it out once I reach there.  A friend had also suggested a cab driver who would charge Sri Lanka RS 38/KM. For shorter trips this would have been fine, but I was planning an entire cross country. I also did not want to see a country from a cab's window, but wanted to be with normal people and travel the way they travel. Inspiration here,

I booked a few hotels through Agoda, but then realised about their misleading pricing. Ended up cancelling a hotel booking through Agoda. Then I tried emailing the hotels, but finally the penny dropped, I could just call  up the hotels and book a room and take an email confirmation. As my official phone did not have international calling, I used up my mom's talk time.

All this obviously took time. And for the first time I was planning a trip with N, which added to the fun.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Sri Lanka Nov - Dec 2011

The Sri Lanka Trip Nov 26-Dec 10, 2011

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