[YART]:The First Time(s)

I have been transferred to Bangalore. I got a flat to stay even before landing here, thanks to Manas. We get to eat home-made food, thanks to Ajay. Got a part of relocation money in advance which I needed desperately, thanks to my company.
And the best part of all this is that I’d be working on my field Web Application Security with amazing people around, one of them being Peter Thomas, author of JTrac.:)
Now, so many nice things scared me initially but I’ve adjusted somehow. 😉

This post, however, is not about my Bangalore experience. Nor is it about how frustrating the first day was because not even one of the 9 floored building had a single working coffee machine… this crisis continued for straight 10 days.
Can you imagine “Engineers without Coffee”???
The policy makers need to read Dilbert.

Anyways. In another news, I bought a bicycle to commute to office, which is about 10kms from my house. I had a tough time the first day as I was riding it after a gap of… mmmm… 5 years. But again, this post is not about my bicycle. It’s about a very small incident that generated Yet Another Random Thought [YART].

We had a blood donation camp in our premises on 26th. It was an awesome experience riding back home on my bicycle after donating blood. 🙂 On the way back, I recalled the first time I had donated blood. It was something that made me Happy (with a capital H). The Feeling of being (virtually) present and save someone’s life. It was overwhelming.
This time, however, I didn’t feel anything special. To be pretty honest, it was an it-has-been-too-long-since-I-did-it feeling.

The typical Piscean, that I am. It lead to a series of other similar thoughts.
The first time I rode a bicycle.
The first time I left home for studies.
The first time I returned home.
First time I spent my salary on my parents and relatives.
And several other first times which are a little personal…… 🙂

These random thoughts made me happy. The Sadist in me, however, doesn’t like to see me happy. He’s happy when I am miserable. He injected in me the comparison table to compare the “first times” with the regular and natural follow ups.

Of course the latter ones don’t provide me with the same feeling of ecstasy. Especially because they are not meant for it. They are simply meant to be a part of life. All the first times provide the view to a new road which would take us forward; but only if we wish to.
People give-up, change lanes…. break up with their loved ones…… all because “things-are-not-the-way-they-used-to-be”. They don’t feel the excitement that used to be.

I wonder why don’t we understand the simple thing that the excitement the “thing” (job, venture, relationship) brought was not just because it was exciting. It brought excitement because it made a change in our lives and made us Happy. The same thing won’t bring the same excitement. It’ll, however, bring Happiness (with a capital H)… always. 🙂

Love (whether for our job, or our loved ones) is a Gift.
The story, however, doesn’t end here. This Gift is also a responsibility… a two way responsibility, between me and my Gift.
Sometimes, it has to make me Happy, other times I have to sustain the faith that it’ll make me Happy.

I know this a very very complex philosophy. I wouldn’t have dared to bare it, had I not come across this dialogue from the movie “Captian Correli’s Mandolin”. Here, the lead actress’s (Penelope Cruz) father sums up this strange philosophy very beautifully in just a few sentences. He takes the support of Love between couples to explain it. I believe it extends to anything you Love.

When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No… don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

I pray that every time my friends (or I) give up on something, HE reminds me that we are choosing the easier path…
He reminds us all the moments when we fell and hurt oursleves, physically..
And he also reminds us what we did after falling down. 🙂

I love the following two lines (Hindi):

Kaun Kahta hai Aasmaan mein surakh nahi hota,
Ik patthar to zara tabiyat se uchhalo yaaron

I won over the Sadist… this time 🙂

Adieu, Bhubaneswar!

As I write this, leaning to the window of the train with my headphones on (listening to Bawra Mann) and watching the rain outside once in a while, I realize that my life is going to change, yet again. I have been transferred, errr relocated, to Bangalore… where this train will drop me tomorrow morning.
But that’s not exactly what I am here to talk about. My vacation has come to an end and I would like to be a little nostalgic (and The Sadist, as Rohan named me) about my one day Bhubaneswar trip (21hrs +some minutes, to be more precise).
For those who do not know, I did my B.Tech. from Bhubaneswar… and I do not like the place…… or that’s what I used to think.

I reached Bhubaneswar at around 6:30 in the morning. Bus journeys make me a li’ll sick. As I got down, the whole world was spinning… showing me things and places that gave me company during those four years that shaped my life to a large extent. A lot has changed, but not everything. “Something’s never change”, she says. 🙂
I spent a little (cosy) time with Abhu Bhaiya at his room and then left for college to collect my certificates. These certificates were distributed during the valedictory, which I did not attend. This, I guess, explains my disgust towards the place in the best possible way. I met two of my children, Roahn and Nilu J, and roamed around the college. This is when I realized that… not everything has changed. The stupid places have been a little decorated, but they still take you back to those pathetic times…. to those lovely times. I met a number of people who had still remembered me. I admit that I was a little popular guy, but for God’s sake, it’s been over an year now.

After collecting the degree certificate, which is a proof that I am graduate now, we moved to CCD (Café Coffee Day). CCD had been one my best pals during the miserable final year. I sat with a few of old timers, including Adwitee and Sumandeep.
Anand (Nandu from here on), one of my then room mates, reminded us that I had spent my entire final year in CCD. I used to come to study here. 🙂
There was time when the CCD saff made my coffee free. 🙂
I could find no familiar staff as I entered. Later, however, I found Neal. He was the guy who had provided me my first cup of free coffee :). I was a little apprehensive whether he would remember me. He did and was pretty happy.
In fact we both were excited to see each other. For me, he was yet another pal from “those” days. I was already diving into nostalgia.

Later in the evening, I took Abhu Bhaiya for dinner at the MayFair Lagoon. This was the first time in my life when I felt like taking a drink. Abhu Bhaiya took one… I, however, resisted. I guess I was already intoxicated.
Luckily, Samir Bhau came over. We met after more than a year. My train was at 4:15 am and there was no question of going to sleep. We started Rock-4, followed by Rocky Balboa. Nandu had said that he’d drop me to the station and called up at 2 am. I asked him to come over.
Balboa was still not finished and Samir Bhau was taken over by the Sleepy hollow. I and Nandu decided sat on a small roadside bridge. This bridge had been our companion. We used to sit here, chat, drink tea-coffee, fight… what not. We started recollecting things from past… and discussing the present.

Some beautiful memories had gone hazy… while most painful still lay on the surface.
Sushant’s demise, undoubtedly, was the most shocking, and yet the most enlightening, event of my life. It taught me that my life can end in a fraction of a second, under the most unexpected conditions.
We talked on a lot of things, mostly personal. I realized that Nandu had become a little smarter with respect to his vision on life (I hope he doesn’t read this :D).

At the end of it all, I realized one very important thing. Just like we have to balance the space and time trade-offs in our codes, we have to balance our life between our happy and sadistic memories. It’s no other than me who has to decide whether I can bear those hapless memories at the cost of the hidden ecstatic few.

…and I guess I always knew the answers. Bhubaneswar does remind me of times that I don’t wish to remember; but it also “holds” the places where my fiends once believed in me. I might have said adieu today, but I would love to see you again Bhubaneswar. Thanks for bearing everything. 🙂

I love the following lines from the song “Yeh Honsla (sad version) from the movie Dor:

Dil mein yeh shor hai kyun,
Imaan kamzor hai kyun,
Nazzuk yeh Dor hain kyun….

India versus Development

According to Wikipedia:

Developing countries are in general countries which have not achieved a significant degree of industrialization relative to their populations, and which have a low standard of living. There is a strong correlation between low income and high population growth, both within and between countries.

The concept of “development” is pretty well defined and is measured in terms of HDI (Human Development Index). It’s interesting to note that the index was developed in 1990 by Amartya Sen (Indian Economist & Nobel Laurette), Mehbub ul Haq (Pakistani Economist), Meghnad Desai (London School of Economics) and Gustav Ranis (Yale University). The value of HDI lies from 0 to 1.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to determine and indicate whether a country is a developed, developing, or underdeveloped country and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.

The 2006 UN Human Development Index Report provides the HDI for 2004. The top 10 nations are:

  1. Flag of Norway Norway 0.965
  2. Flag of Iceland Iceland 0.960
  3. Flag of Australia Australia 0.957
  4. Flag of Republic of Ireland Ireland 0.956
  5. Flag of Sweden Sweden 0.951
  6. Flag of Canada Canada 0.950
  7. Flag of Japan Japan 0.949
  8. Flag of United States United States 0.948
  9. Flag of Switzerland Switzerland 0.947
  10. Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 0.947

The HDI for India lies somewhere between 0.500 to 0.600. Since the HDI points to the year 2004, we have no need to worry. We have a come a long way since then. In fact, each day has been (and is) an big leap. Experts, scientist, philosophers, politcians… all around the world have announced that India (and China) will be the next Super Powers.
Sounds satisfying and ecstatic. Isn’t it? 🙂
But is it really the reality?

We have made exponential progress in almost every technical and modern field. Today we have internet in almost every gully. The electronic items and luxury products are in everyone’s reach. Every kid in your family has a personal cellphone.
But does that really mean that India, as a nation, is developing?

You might think that it’s stupid of me to talk about such developments and still question about “development”, which is nothing but plain measurement. If you are then let me put some simple questions for the Reality Check.

  1. How big is your India? What is the percentage of India that comprises of villages and tribal areas?
  2. The price of tubelight might not have risen, but are you aware of the price of kerosene (if available)?
  3. KFC’s providing an amazing “Bucket offer”. What about the rise in price of Wheat and Rice? …and aa yes. Which country does the KFC belong to?
  4. You oppose Medha Patkar’s Narmada Bachao Andolan because the stupid movement is disrupting the government from building the proposed 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams; which will provide ample water and electricity, and hence help in achieving a higher HDI. But did you think about the rural (repeatedly called handful) people who will be dislocated because of these 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams? If not then just imagine being driven out of your house because the government suddenly discovers that your house lies on the shortest possible train route from source A to destination B.

I spent so much of my time, which I could’ve spent with my family after 6 long months, just to mention (and remind myself) that development in India cannot happen on one single track. We cannot build a highway, if the farmers are committing suicide. We need to find alternatives for development which will target, not only the elite class, but also the handful few.

The HDI needs to rise on both fronts.

Visuals inspiring Thoughts

As I sit here at Nagpur railway station at around 3 am in the morning, waiting for my train (yup, I am on vacation. Yippie :D), I have nothing interesting to do than to sit and look around. “Sit and look” because my back still hurts 😦

It’s situations like this when you are reminded that movies and life aren’t so different. There was a man talking to his son regarding family matters; a lady, holding her small child to her bosom, trying hard to stay awake… (these visuals reminded me of the opening scene of “Love Actually”)… and then there is broken platform floor, broken water pipes, beggars sleeping without anything to cover them. All this at the same platform

Looking around I saw an advertisement board for a Women’s College. What made it interesting was the following quote:

If a man is educated,
an individual is educated.
If a woman is educated,
whole family is educated.

I’ll leave the analysis of this quote to you. I’ve something else running on my mind. It’s interesting to note that one of the primary causes of almost all the problems in India (or as a matter of fact, in any country) is Education.
On the contrary, it is not a matter of surprise that a properly educated society can eradicate *most of* social problems.
I’ve also mentioned in a previous post that education, IMO, is an amazing business.

Now, can’t these two mix?

What I mean to say is that similar to the Free and Open Source Software business model, can’t we have a business model where education would be free (or very nominal) for the “customer” but at the same time, will generate enough revenue for the business owner? I know it sounds crazy. Mostly because FOSS industry has most of it’s earning from support, and there isn’t much of a “support” feature in the educational field… but I sincerely believe that there is a business model waiting to be discovered.

…and yes. I must mention that it’s not just a running thought. It has been on my mind for quite some time and a little developed than what I mentioned here.

Footnote: I’ve been relocated to Bangalore. I know I know, I haven’t informed a lot of people… but things flew petty fast. I’ll be there on 16th.