Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What's so new in a new year?

I always wondered what's so new in a new year. Same people continue to live around you. You still have to prepare for that exam 10 days away. You still feel the heat in your job for not meeting the expectations of your boss. And love life may still be the same disaster it became ever since your partner left you just a few days ago, leaving you alone to see the last 2 digits on all displays change. Life is still abstruse and tough to crack. The ones who're always happy stay so and the ones who're forlorn too see no change. And the same happens with the crowd of conceit which still puffs its chest to hide their string of failures. In short, nothing changes. So what is it that just stepping into a new year can change except for causing mistakes while mentioning year in dates for the next few days? And what is it that only a new year can bring and the next day can't? Why am I so hopeful about my wishes being granted on this propitious leap into the next year, when things stayed the same for the last so many days despite all my efforts? And if celebrating something new alone is sure to bring better times, then why do I never celebrate the very next day?


So while framing resolutions is attributed to the new year day, why is it that every other day of the year is deprived of that honorary privilege? It's precisely then that I realize that amid the remorse and lost hopes, people need something that will cheer them up and make them feel sanguine again. They need the comfort of the idea of maybe something, something changing in their circumstances or themselves may turn the wheels of fortunes. So while everyone hopes and everyone feels optimistic, the cumulative hope brings with it an eerie and renewed energy that was amiss before. Subsequently though, every other day does not seem as special as 1st of January and the wishes people made on the first day of the year, lose their vigor and effectiveness. Next time, it's only the next 1st of January which sees that same hope and that enthusiasm again, and people believe that a leap to a new year could be the only catalyst of change;while in reality, every single day they inhabit this planet is no less than a 1st of January in it's own regard. So Happy New Year, but more importantly, Happy Tomorrow. 


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

One para a day.

So much for seeking control of your very destiny and so much for proving detractors wrong. Humankind's progress can be largely attributed to its constant endeavor to struggle, sustain and finally succeed, Hence while examples and vignettes of transformation caused by man are aplenty, we still don't reign over the supreme force of nature - probability. While we work hard to ensure that things go highly in our favor, entropy which is nature's prime driver of evolution, erupts crises by making things go the other way. We work hard and put in all the efforts but yet we end up failing in the end. Probability of failure can in short be reduced to a diminutive .000001, but still one can never make it zero. Completely fail proof is just as delusional as walking to the past and changing it. In one way, nature never intended to have anything that could be 100% certain. Randomness and unpredictability have been the bedrock of how the entire universe evolved. We human beings, happy in our own aplomb, believe we can defeat the very nature by designing more and more superior systems. While in our quest we succeed in reducing failures, it's a universal truth now that the possibility of failures can never be eliminated. Murphy's law remains applicable. So while we strive to better ourselves and what we so proudly pronounce as "our planet", as if our intellectual superiority gives us a default right to make that assertion, we are doing no more than sightly shifting balance in our favor. But failures, as and when they'll happen, will still be as big as they were when they haunted you to make further improvements to systems and processes. And while we see them as failures, nature may see them no more than just another outcome whose probability was low. And anything that has any probability, no matter how small it may be, it can still happen. You can try to get away from it, but entropy in all its essence is universal and it will never fail in doing its job when time arrives. 



Monday, 29 December 2014

One para a day.

It's Monday again and everyone is whining about it. And as if Monday enough was not a reason to cry about, you've got the warmth of the quilt engulfing you and seducing you to spend another few cozy moments with it. But it doesn't work that way. You've a lot of obligations including those to you yourself. So you end up at your workplace with batteries at 40% and believe they'll get charged to a workable level by the next day. You just beguile and bite your time around, have 10 cups of tea or coffee, discuss your weekends, and are brought back to senses only when something urgent arises out of almost everyone's incapability to work on that day. You finally resolve it and attribute the fault on it being a Monday, and Monday can never fathom why everyone hates it so much. Monday was deceived to believe that 'Monday' is a good name to have but it was never told it will be the first work day of the week. Every other day knew what Monday was being led into as a part of the giant devious conspiracy of Sunday to ensure its supreme reign and hence while everyday got something to cheer about, Monday became the biggest villain on the planet. So  while Monday is not capable of pleading guilty, the next time you howl about it, remember how much misery and pain have befallen upon it ever since mankind formed formal workday systems. And you won't believe that Monday in itself is powerful enough to reward you for your concerns about it in ways you can't even imagine! 


Thursday, 25 December 2014

'Atal'

They say "What's in a name?". Well, at least I know of one such guy who is a literal personification of what his first name stands for. 



It was a little more than 15 years ago on one fine Sunday. Any school holiday would start with a hefty dose of morning cartoons unless it was a national holiday which would then require you to cater to more pressing business like watching the parade or celebrating the same at school. But this Sunday was different. The drawing room in my house was abuzz with discussions among the elders. Paper headlines were being referred to, and statements were made regarding "13 days" and "13 months" and ultimately it was concluded that the television had to be tuned to news channels instead of my usual Cartoon Network spree. I patiently watched shaky pictures, all showing one stout man waving the 'V' for victory sign and some correspondents indicating how early trends were favoring a certain 'NDA' government. News anchors kept changing and I was now increasingly fascinated about everybody's obsession with this one single man. Later in the evening, it was declared that this certain Atal Bihari Vajapayee was to lead the nation as the next Prime Minister. And that was just the beginning of a lifelong obsession with the ardor of one man that was simply unmatched.

I kept growing up, kept grasping more and more, and Civics was now a full time subject. And due to that epoch, most of my understanding of politics was centered around Vajapayee's ideology. You'd see the man on television every single day. You'd see him launching a bus service to Pakistan, and you'd see him nailing the neighbor with his incisive polemic prowess and his tough decision to wage a war when the same turned into an enemy. You'd see him launching a new project every now and then, and you'd see him interacting with leaders from all over the globe with a confidence that was not characteristic of a lot many Indians. I had come to believe that politics is like that. An active leader who takes upon himself the entire list of onerous tasks and then does them one by one, sometimes to perfection, and sometimes to be harangued and hectored by what was called the 'opposition'. Simply put, he kept going. 



Times kept passing by and my understanding of politics grew more solid. I suddenly began to understand that not everyone is like Vajapayee. In fact there were people within the NDA govt itself that lacked any substance and that were just about average, but were just about performing well under an able leadership. I found out about the Congress dynamics in India's politics and how a non-Congress government formation was an event of astronomical proportions. People had now begun to make references to Janta Party govt of late 70's which was a sham, the 3rd front govt from 96' and NDA's own last 2 cabinets which fell before they could be properly founded. People said that NDA under the leadership of Vajapayee was here to stay and I said "Okay! This is going to be exciting!"for no palpable reason, I kind of liked this man, who for some reason seemed like he was doing nothing more than simply doing his job. Once again, simply put, he just kept going. 

More time passed by and amid a transition from a charlatan in politics to a vocal supporter of Vajapayee in my class, which was still mainly comprised of a largely indifferent audience, much had happened. Lives were getting transformed and standards were on the rise. A massive attack had rocked the parliament from outside and a blatant scam from the inside. There were mentions of 'growth' and 'employment' and for some reason, optimism was ensconced in otherwise trite lives. On the other hand, NDA was on critics' radar for being a little too pro-rich. Even for a passive observer with limited knowledge, Vajapayee came across as a subtle yet staunch person. And then I realized that the very meaning of the word 'Atal' is to sustain and thrive. And boy was he doing justice to it. He still kept going.



As my understanding of history improved, so did my appreciation of what this one single man had achieved in a lifetime. Through history books and basic inferences, it was easy to see the clout the Gandhian lineage was to have in the Indian political scenario. For someone to obliterate that advantage, one had to be an apostate who would take on challenge after challenge. In short one had to be a warrior of sorts. I learned of the JP movement and how Vajapayee was all that was largely left of it. I found out how ideologies of others diluted over time and how BJP managed a paltry 2 seats back in 84'. And then the very thought of struggling and striving all the while, losing partners and seeing ruse and deception, and finally seeing all your dreams come true; It was bristling. And well, Vajapayee did indeed see all of it. He simply never stopped. He just kept going. 



Elections took place in '04 and people ousted what they termed an 'incumbent' government when I never really felt that way. Half of the crowd talked about the 'feel good factor' and half of them said things about going back to the old ways. And some just wanted the solace of the Gandhian legacy again. Whatever it was, Vajapayee's tenure was over and it was clear he'll never be the PM again. For some reason, it came across as a shock even though I knew politics was just meant to be nebulous and complicated. Slowly and steadily, this cult that lasted for 5 years faded into the past and we now had a new much more qualified PM whom everyone looked forward to. 

Elections kept happening, parties kept getting usurped, new heroes entered the scenes and old ones kept waning away. But all that remained in my mind of that era from 99 to 04 was that picture of one man who could be both stolid and sturdy, sober and rabid, and would always be an inch ahead of what was demanded of him. His dreams of a connected India, his vision of India Inc and his ideology of aggressive progression, dwindled with the next governments and even the current NDA's vision is not as definite. There was to be only one such man who would do the right things and wait for the outcome patiently. Who would take up challenges he knew were debilitating and yet he would be hopeful. Who would stay firm even in the most torrid of tests and would still be flexible enough to change when needed. Who would dream as against the volition of all those who were conservatives and who would ultimately prove his detractors wrong. All in all, there was to be just one man who would survive the tests of time to get that one single opportunity to do that he always dreamed of doing - Transforming the nation. And maybe there was to be just one such man who literally defined what his first name meant - To hang around and to fight, no matter what! And one who just kept going.




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Cleanliness: Our catharsis amid the chaos #SwachhIndia

What is that one thing which reviles you the most when you step inside the premises of a typical government office? I bet you've had instances when corners in front of a flight of stairs was emblazoned with such magnificent graffiti in red that it left you spellbound. Or maybe you dared to use the urinal nearby once, only to find that the redolence is a little too profound for your liking. Or maybe when you finally made your way through the queue, you ended up in a huge pile of files laden with dirt, housed with complete lack of meticulousness in cabinets which have remained a delight of termites for generation.And all that in a gloomy and dreary office room which also houses cockroaches, mice, lizards and spiders, amongst other life forms of nature. All in all, if you're not the other type, these offices are archetypal for muck and melancholy. Even the thoughts of stepping inside one of these clamped up spaces sends shocks across your nervous system. Be it your local revenue officer, be it a public utility office or be it a railway ticket counter, you've witnessed all of it. But even though these govt offices may have developed an indelible reputation for being so odious, we've done more or less the same thing to our nation and are even proud about it. 

I recently had this taxi driver who was very vocal about how Indian politicos fail to deliver and how he himself has plans for foraying in the mean and sullen world with his own ideas of emancipating the needy. His ideas seemed alright but what made him appear holding a trophy at the zenith of hypocrisy, was that he would slide open the window every 4 minutes and 27 seconds and would spit his pan laden saliva, making his own red graffiti on the road or sidewalks as govt officials and visitors made in the para above. 


PC - The Hindu

Ever spent some time sitting on the sumptuous coast of the marine drive in Mumbai, enjoying one of the most priceless of scenery? Well, it seems all so good except for when the high tidal waves bring with it all the grime and grit and the waters touching those massive beeline stones appear so turgid and smell so morbid that you're forced to consider coming back some other day. And while the Mithi river literally disappeared in Mumbai taking human ignorance and neglect for the nature to an all new level, Delhi is doing the same thing with the Yamuna. With everything from dirt to garbage being littered in the river, the city's prime water source appears to have a rather grim future. And when it comes to Ganga, reports have already been published regarding how big of a cleaning operation shall have to be carried out to pull the sacred river out of its plight. In short, what we've done to our water bodies, is no better than the state of those urinals in public toilets. Full of shoddy smells and sleazy garbage, all because of our years and years of onerous efforts to destroy their natural charm and to literally extirpate their existence. 

And finally comes the case of our residences. While from the inside of our houses we claim to be aficionados of life and lifestyle with the best of gadgets and the best of antiques. From the outside, our houses are enmeshed in a large and never ending muddle of more and more houses, crossing over with open drainage and improper electrical and other transmission systems and the occasional open pound of unattended garbage. Look closer and you'd find that the same exasperating configuration which you found in your local govt office, is prevalent in the very society you live in; Complete chaos with a lot of clamor and with almost nothing being set in proper order. 

So to my surprise, we are doing nothing more than turning the entire nation into that clumsy little govt office we hate to even step inside, without knowing that one day our efforts are actually going to help the nation surpass that govt office in terms of the filth and murk. We may not realize but not only all does this execrable dirt and dung cause problems in truly executing the present tasks, it also impedes any progress which we might be able to conceive. Cleanliness is not about sweeping your house with a broom but it is in fact the absence of any tumult and entropy. Cleanliness is what makes your overall environment much more conducive to positive transformation, while the absence of the same stymies any progress whatsoever. So while the country pledges to be clean, one should know that though cleanliness alone can manumit us of a lot many problems, but that's applicable only when cleanliness is taken for what it really means. And as we dream to be a genuine superpower, enshrining cleanliness in the individual and the nation could just be the most important step in making us a convincing candidate. For no progress is possible when you get your very first footing wrong.   

Life, 40 months post completing a CSE degree

I passed out of my engineering college with full honors, my laziness and apathy notwithstanding. I saw myself as a huge reservoir of talent and knew the industry would bamboozle me with opportunities to showcase my flair. I was extremely confident of bumping into able and like-minded individuals who shall embolden my prospects further. And yet, after a point of time, I knew life wasn't going to be as beatific and dazzling as it seemed in our dreams. So while a few deserving ones worked strenuously to get those 'real' jobs, I had to bail out and move towards the supposedly greener pastures in life. I had to abdicate most of the computing acumen, as a result. So how would someone like me relate to terms and technology that was once so colloquial that it was your sine qua non? Well, this is how it changed for me.  

1. Firewalls

Okay, you still know them because whenever your workstation fails to load mail, your IT guy is woken off his siesta and he does a few mechanical things and gets the mail loading again. Or he raises a ticket, which leads to more tickets, and more tickets, till the time you find out a solution yourself. After all, the engineer in you never died, did he? But this is what firewalls look like nowadays.


2. Null Pointer

Ah, how often did you witness this eerie little devil come into picture with your code not running despite you getting everything right? You did all things right and used breaks to analyze the step by step operation only to find that a dastardly null pointer was to be taken care of. And you did know how to send it to perdition,. But this is how null pointer looks like today.. 



3. This Pointer

At first you were perplexed but later on you used it so regularly that you didn't even know that you were using it. This pointer became a part and parcel of most of your high level code and before you knew it, this pointer became no more than 'this' below.




4. Garbage Collector

You were amazed to know that you won't have to flush and free memory space in Java because garbage collection was now an advanced feature handled by the framework itself. But your brush with garbage collection was always an exciting confrontation in C when the output was a little more than just disheartening. Luckily, you've got these guys to handle the garbage collection nowadays.




5. Preemptive Scheduling

Priority queuing seemed so ecclesiastical and effervescent that you'd learn new constructs to play with the operating system's kernel level functions to schedule tasks. Your programming tasks were no more than hirelings in front of OS level programs but you still enjoyed queuing your stack of small programs and ending up empty handed because the program executed in no time and the scheduling didn't have no visible effect. Well, not to worry anymore. Any public queue you join in has someone . or the other who would use their power or position and jump the queue. And sometimes, like it happened with Chiranjeevi, you can crash into a gatekeeper deployed by the operating system itself.



So, just in case this makes you feel nostalgic, don't shy away from putting in a comment or two on how even today, that quirky little argot from those CSE days makes its presence feel every now and then.

  

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The choice between hunger and education.

Imagine if you were forced to make that choice every single day of the year. You'd consider the prospects with a lot of foresight and contemplation. You'd try and see the larger picture and the possibilities that good education shall be concomitant with. The very thought of having a secure and eidetic future shall make you make your resolute even more firm. Education it will be, hands down and you shall be already on your way and you're happy. And just when you had your plans in place, an excruciating and unnerving pain strikes its blows and you realize its your empty bowel which is signalling its emptiness again. You are brought back to reality and your dreams annihilated. Once again, even a dream of acquiring education couldn't withstand the pangs of hunger and you decide to employ your labor for the meager meal you get in return. And what was barely not enough for you, is now to be shared with others who still aren't capable of earning meals on their own. Just imagine that. Well, a substantial portion of Indian children are subjected to that ordeal every single day. 

We as a country are often full of conceit on the way classes are emerging in the nation and how we are making our mark. We talk about our corporations which are making inroads into the global markets. We talk about our top quality talent. We even go to the extent of terming ourselves as a potential superpower, and while we do all that, we turn a blind eye to the predicament of these children who haggle with their future every single day. So pestilent is their situation that they know they're taking the wrong call and yet they've no other option but to take it, In an age when they need to learn the alphabet and the numbers, they learn how to do laborious tasks like piling bricks on their heads and accompanying their families in their daily struggle for existence. Not only do they suffer by becoming just another addition to the ever expanding army of factotums who are assigned the most arduous and yet the most menial of jobs, they also miss out on the much needed nutrition requirements which they miss out on by miles. And before these children know that, a promising life has already turned into one full of lifelong struggle for basic necessities. 

What stupefies me is that despite this plight of millions, we continue to remain hopeful about our supremacy and even assert that from various platforms. Moreover, we are proud of our so called 'young' nation, even when the most important sect of that youth smolders and fades away into the murkiness of this struggle every single day. We celebrate the fact that we are the larges producers of so and so crops, and we hopelessly fail to provide a handful of grain to these children, thereby ensuring of their proper upbringing. By failing on those fronts, our youth is going to be no more than a ready army of slaves who are custom made to live the worst possible human life in the most insalubrious of surroundings. Maybe that precisely is what we are referring to when we lay claims on our potential by saying we've got ready labor. 

Imagine how different things would have been if instead of drowning in the gallows of such a life, each such child was endowed with the opportunity of experiencing the brighter side of life. Imagine how much change education could have brought. Instead of being exposed to the mawkishness of such a dark and gloomy life, they'd be exposed to the possibilities that await them. From batting hard to earn two meals a day, they'd very well be on the path to making it big for themselves and their nation. Disparity as we know it today, would begin to perish for even the lowest rung of all classes would know be aware of all the rights and honors that the constitution vests in them, and administration for the first time be implemented in a truer sense. 

Education alone can actually extirpate most of our problems today. Crime, which is the single mos catastrophic byproduct of disparity, shall be reduced to controllable levels. Even when one member of every such downtrodden family acquires the basic minimum education, he/she can quickly ensconce the basic set of morals in every member of the family, which for the first time wold get in touch with the good and better things in life. That will also encourage others to have an inhered craving for education and sooner than later, the entire society as a whole would develop a much greater yearning for adopting education as the route to happiness. 

However utopic it may seam, we always are equipped to make such a day come true and we always were. It's just that in absence of any viable modes to contribute, indifference begins to condescend. Truth is that there is a lot that can be done. For those who've time to spare, no better thing that to organize classes themselves or join such initiatives and to teach a few classes every month. One simply cannot have an idea how big a difference it can make unless someone has done that. A really important aspect is to point out fallacies and to do something about it every now and then. If you're taking up these classes and at the same time are comfortable drinking tea prepared by a 9 year old in a small roadside 'tapri', then we've got a problem. While calling the police and getting the owner of the 'tapri' arrested would do some good, it does no good to the future of that child who still has no other option but to join some other such occupation that pays the morsel to buy his next meal. You've got to bring an end to the child's long term misery, which can only be done if education replaces what he/she does today. Because then, and only then, could he genuinely enjoy the fruits of education and develop into a virtuous human being who is ready to bloom and succeed. 

For all the bloggers out there, your one single blog post can do just what's mentioned above. So please contribute as much as you can. 

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.



Sunday, 7 December 2014

A miracle of melody – SwarBhoomi band

How often do you see a person dreaming sky high and seeing those dreams collapse under the vagaries of reality? How often do you witness the tumult and din of not being where you truly belong, doing something that you never really wanted to do? And how often do we find people, full of regret and resentment, on not taking that one leap of faith in their lives? Well, at least I know of one such guy who did that and literally renounced all caveats of what would otherwise have been a pretty ordinary and banal life.This guy took over the path of surreal redemption; a redemption of his desires, his faith and his sheer erudition. And before I knew it, Deepak Gupta took all the risks he said he’ll take, and today is he soaring high on the sails of success.



Back in the engineering school, we had a fair mix of all kinds of people. People who genuinely wanted to be engineers were rare pretty much like every other engineering college. Then you had despondent people who would chide everything right from their career choice to the decision of American people in electing Obama. And finally we had dreamers like Deepak who still had that shred of true belief that one day they will indeed get their shot at doing what they wanted to do. Deepak was already known for his dexterity in singing and he was a delight to listen to on all those fests and events which are pretty commonplace. By the third year, he had already developed a strong penchant for singing and the predilection to have singing as a career, but he knew he had lacunae to take care of.

Deepak strived and strived hard and by the time we all were to part ways in the final year, Deepak had made astounding progress. In his parlance, he had mastered the techniques and virtue of professional singing, all courtesy of his enrollment in the coveted Gadharva Mahavidyalaya in Delhi. For a layman like me, the jargon was hard to fathom, but the progress was evident in his singing and his style. I just knew that the formal training just consummated my friend’s innate skills and took them to the next level.

It was tough to stay in touch with each other and my Facebook feeds became a potpourri with all my folks doing all kinds of things. Deepak, I knew, had to make some tough choices. He had a job with an eminent corporation, which he obviously had to leave if he were to pursue full time singing any further. It was hard to imagine how one could take such a colossal call but the prodigious Deepak vested full faith in himself and took the road less travelled. Deepak slogged and worked hard and for the ensuing years, despite not getting to hear a lot from him, I had an idea that he is burning the midnight oil to unravel his own destiny.

Suddenly, my friend turned up on Facebook with news that was simply terrific. Not only had Deepak progressed amongst the ranks of professional singing with his years of practice, he also formed a fabulous band SwarBhoomi, which had already performed on various occasions and received accolades and encores from the audiences. I subscribed to their YouTube channel and was amazed to see how impeccably they perform and leave the crowds asking for more. It was a treat to watch. And for Deepak, the male vocalist of this fantastic brand; His abilities were literally emboldened by his place and by being with other able and like minded professional artists like Bharti(the female vocalist), Aakash, Amit and Hemant. With all the members having years of formal training and practice behind them, the band is a perfect mélange of performers that will capture your imagination.

The band is another example of how one’s cherished dreams could become one’s reality by taking that one single step of abdicating all those normal attainments, and going after what you hold most dear. When you do that, hard work no longer requires any effort or energy. In fact every moment becomes so effulgent that hard work leaves you asking for more and more because you’re genuinely engrossed and enthralled in what you do – your own art, and your own dreams. That one stand of these wonderful folks is today manifested in a well sought after band that excels in all prevalent genres – Bollywood, Sufi and Rock. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself exalting SwarBhoomi band at some grand occasion someday. Deepak and his gang have some real mettle behind them and they’re on their way to bedazzle you with their blitz.

More from their band here - 


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Fellow Bloggers: Saru Singhal's 'Words'

When I first came across the concept of using a blog as an effective platform of regaling the world with one's soulful poems, it was courtesy of this terrific concoction titled 'Words'. I was looking for some help regarding what theme or idea to predicate my blog on and Words provided some genuine inspiration on how the art of writing has to be adapted and crafted for the online audience and how perfectly it has to be served afterwards. And before I knew it, Words became much more than a mere source of inspiration, and I became one of the most ardent fans of Saru's writing prowess. 

What I like the most about Words and what I believe is going to leave everyone spellbound after reading that blog, is the eerie and yet bedazzling panache with with the words literally weaving into stories and making even the most simplest of subjects suddenly making you pensive. And when it comes to the more complicated coterie of themes and matters, Saru's finesse gets more enhanced and more visible than ever. So while the 200 odd poems on Words are pretty much like conventional poems which are well organized into similies and metaphors, there is still something about the blog that makes them appear so contemporary.




While I still struggle to cope up with the flow of thoughts whenever I intend to write down my thoughts as a poem, and all I end up writing is not so impressive(and sometimes out of rhyme and inconsistent as well) doggerel, Saru's chemistry with her thoughts and words is playful and puckish and her poems as a result receive unfettered praise in the form of comments and shares. Never before have I witnessed a blog that is followed so diligently and that has such a partisan fan base. The comments tell you how much people have read her poems and how much they've become acquainted with her trademark writing style and her choice of themes. And yet on many occasions, they're surprised by her ever changing oeuvre. 

So when it came to choosing the next blogger whom I had to mandatorily thank, it was Saru for the exultant charm of her words, duly manifested in 'Words'.They say poems are unique and a representation of thoughts, opinions and experiences. But Saru's poems are in a way a befitting tribute to the chores, travails and the subsequent joys of modern life. So when you're done grappling with all your usual problems, do get your well deserved dose of conscientious gratification by reading the latest feature on Words

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

#Lucky6 to pump up your luck!

We all know how big a role luck plays in shaping our lives and our destiny and it is a general maxim that all you gotta do is to give luck a chance. But when it comes to getting lucky on money, either you need to have one helluva luck to win in lotteries which can have really vague selection mechanisms which might even be a gambit, or you need to be an intellectual with a high appetite for risk and a high analytical quotient to bet on the bourse. Ones who can't get over the equity phobia would go for derivatives and funds which never earn enough even to be considered as things that can accentuate your luck. But what if you get a simple and subtle way of trying your luck at the exchange without getting embroiled in all the details. And what if you could do that at the comfort of your smartphone in a game like fashion, which does away with all the nuances of a trading portal. Well, Fat Cat gaming(http://fatcatgaming.com/)  just did that with Lucky 6.



In what is an ingenious and a revolutionary way to try out your luck, not predicated on notions of luck alone but also mixed with instincts and knowledge, Lucky 6 is very simple and effective. You know your favorite brands, you ought to pick the six you think are going to rise the most on the exchange on a given day(read game day) and you place your bet. If the stocks of your brands see the highest surge on the game day, bingo! It can literally change your life. And you would not believe that the prizes include everything from large cash sops to exquisite holiday packages. 

What makes Lucky 6 stand out of the clutter is one, the easy and perspicuous way in which even a greenhorn is allowed to bet on the markets while bypassing all the intricacies and vagaries and two, that despite being an adaptation of the intraday trading method, you really aren't getting muddled in the never ending loop of buy and sell transactions with margin money. Another added advantage that really makes this a pathbreaking platform is that you make your new financial instrument on your will, at your discretion, and all on the go. So if you ever felt that a product you could envisage which would be an amalgam of some of the most robust stocks on the market and some of which, if combined into a cumulative investment would return an even better yield, then Lucky 6 is just what you were waiting for. 

I simply cannot wait to get going on this shrewd platform to test out both my brand mettle and my luck. This very well could be the chance you were always waiting for. The game gets into the world with India and hence you too can get going straightaway. Try it out here ->Fat Cat Gaming

The truly socially responsible FMCG brand

You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

When I came across this wonderful initiative by HUL's Domex and delved into the information that was provided pertaining to the malady of open defecation and its repercussions, I was truly appalled by the current state of affairs and decided to do my bit by providing you all a quick exposition as to why you should share this initiative with at least 10 of your friends. 

1. There are more than 597 million people defecating in the open


This fact truly belies all our claims that we and our leaders make from all sorts of platforms that we are truly moving in the direction of being an ultimate superpower. Truth is, our claims are just as vacuous as our attempts and determination to remove disparity. While on one hand we talk of people putting up exclusive fittings in the bathrooms like Jacuzzi, there are more people than present in United States and a few more countries combined, who are forced to abjure their basic self respect and excrete in the open. Children who grow up in these circumstances, literally begin to repudiate all notions of equity and soon become mired in the connotations of the gloom that their future shall bring upon them. In this sense, open defecation is truly a blot and a slap on all those boisterous claims and dreams of becoming a utopic country.    

2. An anathema for sound health

This stigma brings with it a host of health problems. As the  the crowded sections become filthier by the day as there are no proper disposal mechanisms, disease spreading bacteria simply keep piling up and the area becomes a deadly breeding ground for all sorts of infections and diseases. In country a majority of whose population it proudly vaunts as being young, what promises of a stellar future can we make when we can't even provide them what is apparently the bare minimum? Not only do these diseases take a toil on their health and growth, they also ensnare them in despondency regarding their own view for their future. We may be indolent and apathetic towards this but that one single act of defecating in the open is much more bad and execrable than we can think.

3. A clarion for protecting women's dignity

And the very fact that women, the protection of whose dignity and self respect is one of the foremost responsibilities of a nation, too are subject to the egregious and blatant compulsion of not even having a basic facility to defecate in, truly renders our current claims as specious. All our claims of being a progressive nation are no more than a ruse and gambit if we can't even ensure this one basic right that the women rightfully possess. Not only does this leave them bereft of any respect for their position as an individual, it also brings with it a host of malicious diseases which can be really dreadful given that women are to be provided extra care. 

There are many more issues that don't meet the eye but I guess even with the seriousness of the problem notwithstanding, an initiative like this can truly bring light and can truly set the tumbrels for a revolution which is long awaited. Together we can root out this evil which remains a very nasty deterrent for true and equitable human progress, without which even hopes of moving ahead as a country stand fatuous and whimsical. So, do your bit and spread the word. 

About The Domex Toilet Academy
Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, currently runs the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) programme. Domex Toilet Academy was launched on 19th November 2013. It aims to become a sustainable and long-term solution to provide sanitation that benefits the local community and helps stimulate the local economy. The Toilet Academy makes toilets accessible and affordable, while promoting the benefits of clean toilets & good hygiene. Our effort has resulted in bringing the change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa and we aim to build 24000 toilets by 2015 in rural areas faced with the problem of open defecation.





Saturday, 15 November 2014

Crowdsourced post #2: "A writer's life does get exposed"

So in the latest moderation, wherein I had to go through quite some ideas to finally zero in on one, I found this one to be really incisive and deep. Disha Shroff, who seems to be a writer herself given the veracity and tenacity in her suggestion, suggested I coil a piece around "Be it fiction or non-fiction, a writer's life does get exposed". After some initial contemplation I thought I might be a little too inept for a topic like that but then I recollected some experiences on how people figured out what's going around just by my posts. So here's how it works. 


The change in style

Authors and writers keep experiencing this. At times you write with amazing alacrity with words assuming a rather secondary position and your eagerness to tell the story becoming the main objective. This is when you're in that exultant state, when things are going your way and when writing becomes a tool to share the splendor and fervor with others as well. On the other hand, at times your posts smolder as you write, your grit breaks up from place to place, and you write down something that squeals, shouts and prowls in agony. Your words become more surly,and your energy definitely goes down. You want to world to witness what you'be been through and you want partners for your plight. And almost instantly the world knows you're going through some turmoil.

The choice of subjects

Your choice of subjects not only reflects your beliefs and values, it also represents what you want to be, what you couldn't be or what you are on the way to becoming. There are tonnes of these memoirs blogs in which people write about something morose - like how people treat each other. Once you read multiple posts or write ups on that same theme, you instantly realize that the writer himself/herself had to face that whammy and is now extremely cautious about who to befriend with. On the other hand, someone who unearths scams on their blogs all the time and is actively involved in opprobrium and censure for the culprits, is one who maybe suffered big or saw someone close suffer big because of these stigmas. It always comes out. The readers just have to seek patterns. 

The intensity

Words are one way of seeing this and frequency and depth of posts is another. A writer who is on track, who is accomplishing and who is full of zest and flair, will write with sheer passion, knowing how each and every word will be comprehended and how the reader will connect. However, a plaintive writer, struggling in maybe love, will use writing as a gateway to vent out the gnawing pain. She/He will not realize until it's late that in an attempt to share their story, they flooded it with emotion which no one else can truly interpret. You'll be chided for being so broke, you'll be upbraided for wasting their time and some readers will even empathize. But your life, your own space, are now out in the open as an exhibit. 

The general character

Blogs get posts over time and authors keep rolling out books. Initial works are experimental to see how good an idea plays with the crowds and how much they can associate with it. However, even this initial idea is linked to some deeply held belief that comes out as a missive when we write. As a writer progresses and keeps writing, this belief gets engulfed by other surrounding ideas, people's praise and criticism, but it still stays there at the core of every piece. And no matter how circumspect you are, you always let that belief become your identity. You may believe you escaped that but your readers are wiser than you think. Once again, your flank is exposed and you read out a major verse of your life out in the open. 


So, Disha, don't forget to send in your feedback on this one and all the readers/writers out there, please let me know what you think of this by posting a comment using the Google+/ Facebook tab below. And if you have an idea which you'd want me to write on, you can either put it as a comment here or follow the instructions on -> http://www.disavowed.in/p/the-free-blog.html

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A layman's gateway to Ayurveda.

Looking at the staunch and fit folks from a generation or two ago who continue going strong, I realize that no amount of gymming or exercise is going to get us that far. They're not only fit from the outside, they're extremely salubrious from within as well. While we get rotund bellies, excessive sugar and a host of ailments by the time we cross 30, they continue to remain undeterred and face only the problems that age brings with it. It's true that they inhabited the planet when it was far less polluted, with sprawling greens all around and breathing the freshest of air and that they also didn't have to make do with veggies and poultry grown up through injections. However, there is one thing that they did and we don't really do - to rely on nature for our health. 

Whenever they fell sick in a not so exigent way, they didn't simply gulp the antibiotics. They resorted to the magical powers of Ayurveda to get back on track. They also didn't rely on synthetic health supplements and capsules to accentuate their health and buttress their immunity. They relied on the magical elixir endowed by the nature itself - The Chyavanprash. While we start focusing on health only when tenebruous diseases begin to take over us, they used to do that from day one. 

As long as we grow, the body exhibits enough activity from within to curtail the ill effects of all that it has to wade through. A natural shield of immunity is always there but there's no guarantee it will be there once the process of growing up stops. When the phase transition finally arrives, a few lucky ones continue with the gift of nature - their innate resistance, but a large part simply gives it away. It so happens because we do nothing to assist our body during the forming years and afterwards in restoring that natural flair and ultimately the system becomes a little too decrepit and fades away. The only option which we're left with now is to cure all those diseases that we inherit because of that inveterate exploitation of corporeal limits and taking no care whatsoever of how the immunity is to be preserved. 

Hence we all too need an ingredient that keeps the inhered bulwark of the body alive - our first and foremost line of defense against all sorts of bacteria and viruses. And this becomes all the more important as these deadly organisms now become more and more fatal and are now quickly adapting to leave present medicine and vaccination inadequate. It's only the inner strength that can guard us against it, and Chyavanprash still remains the best way to get it and keep it alive. While in the olden days, the days of our old but sturdy folks, Chyavanprash was prepared by the local vaids. Now, Dabur has taken up the job to bring the same goodness of nature which will see us through this battle against all those malignant enemies. 



Dabur's Chyavanprash brings to you that same age-old formulation which comprises of some of nature's most powerful and effective ingredients, the benefits provided by which are simply unmatched. With Amla, Giloy and 40 other such health emboldening ingredients, Dabur's Chyavanprash provides your body the extra mile in setting ramparts for defense against all enemies of our body. It's maybe that one single thing which can bring us back in our battle against these deadly microorganisms which are present all around. With life becoming more and more complex and our habits become more and more devolved, health is the first thing to take a hit. Dabur's Chyavanprash is there to let that prospect not loom upon you for a long long time. 

You can now get your ticket to good health online as well -> Dabur Chyavanprash


To those messages you never read!




To those messages you never read,
For what do I tell them was their fault,
Reaching out to ye but yet no heed,
Made me look peevish, made me a dolt,

Craving for your attention, a speck of your life,
Moments passed but nothing but the tick,
With schisms, doubts and harrowing strife,
Nothing but just faint giggles to pick,

I saw you in my thoughts; saw you all the time,
Pristine, full of zest, lissom and lithe,
Your voice seemed merrier than even the chime,
And off went my dreams, dreams so blithe,

I woke up to realize the ticks now said seen,
Awaited moment finally arrives, and I shiver,
Answers ready for “how have you been”,
And I’ll have an entire story in the quiver,

Waited with bated breath, for she will surely reply,
Wait grew big; faith grew weak, and belief macabre,
All she had to do was to turn back and say a mere hi,
And never again were I to believe I could have her,

Frail with lost hope and with time putting a big dent,
But I could sense my anxiety was now surely freed,
I went from being forlorn and restless to now fervent,
And went back to all those messages you never read.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Crowdsourced post #1: "Is individual opinion dead?"

It was more than a month ago when I opened my blog and invited suggestions from the readers and the occasional visitors on what they'll like me to blog on. As expected, the scheme was a sham with such a poignant outcome that for the first time since buying a domain, I had to infuse capital into the blog. I went for Google AdWords and a few hits started popping in. I was hopeful I'd get the kind of ideas that will make me wade through the upcoming writer's block which I just felt was on the way. Finally though, on all interaction modes combined, I got a whopping 6 entries as against an expected 25 which I thought was the bare minimum to come as a result of the innovative move and the campaign. I needed a motley all right but I needed a few ideas to come from multiple people so that I could be sure about their presence as a real thing to blog on. Damn did I imagine a joust between the different ideas, hundreds of them, vying for my attention. Nonetheless, Joanne from Prague did come up with a very interesting suggestion. She just happened to be searching for free online publishing platforms and my blog showed up. She seemed to be very frugal with words and suggested the entire idea in one line. "Is individual opinion dead?"

I couldn't come in terms with what she was trying to say. Individual opinion is everywhere to be found. In fact in a clogged up bus or a rail bogie, you'll find individual opinions in surfeit. I delved a level deep to see I was missing out on something. Joanne seems to be a taciturn as she refused to reply on the mail chain. Maybe she just wanted to get her idea across. Maybe she won't even be here when her post is published. Nevertheless, it will be published but mainly on what I could infer from the core idea. So what exactly  did she mean when she claimed individual opinion to be dead? Was it a metaphor, was it a literal observation, or was it simply something I wasn't capable of noticing. And with some contemplation, I knew it was the last reason. And maybe I and you were in the dark for the very ways in which maybe individual opinion, in the true sense of the term, was quashed forever.



Look around you. People are blabbering about why one guy is better able to run the government than someone else. Someone is flaunting their latest gadget, with conceit for it being better and more expensive than that of anyone else in that group. Someone is passing on a judgment on someone's attitude. And there is this guy, fluidly talking with the pretense of being squeaky clean, while chastising and pointing fingers at someone else. The question is, who would you believe in? The answer is, you've already believed someone or the other before you could even think about it for a moment. 

As the world becomes a more connected place, not only courtesy of webs and webs of technological networks, but even as social barriers and apprehensions go loose and people mingle more and more; influence has become the key. While initially an influencer was a person with commanding authority over a topic or matter, now he/she is just the most assertive figure in the circle. Why would you buy them? Well, because you don't have time to hunt for the truth yourself. And it seems like it's hardwired within us to be opinionated at the end. We just have to take a stand to save ourselves from the embarrassment if someone asks for it and we don't have anything to say. Even if the subject doesn't concern us at all. What matters the most is that you can't squat on any question. You just have to have an opinion. Sometimes you are close to the topic and you build one but on most occasions the topic doesn't concern you very much and you don't have the time to ponder. What do you do then? You buy an opinion from the omnipresent market available everywhere. And why bother when they're there for free!

Simultaneously, for matters that are big enough to sustain the wrath of those million other subjects vying for attention, collective opinion shapes out of the most substantial of the individual opinions that were formed in the beginning. In absence of anything that refutes this newly formed group owned opinion, people don't see any mendacity and go for it. And hence without any genuine premise, one initial stand and one initial opinion go on to become that of the masses. The opinion bypasses the frontiers of human judgment and scrutiny and by the time the more sagacious folks could raise their voice, the opinion has already grown prodigious enough. And now it's even larger than the very process of it being rebutted or questioned. The opinion of the group is now sacrosanct and for the easy goer who never really questions a lot, adopting this group opinion as against going for that of the newly emerged questioning pariah, is much more comforting. And thus before you could know, you form an individual opinion which you puff your chest for whenever you talk about it, believing it's purely yours, while you actually borrowed it from the human conscience, which took it from the initial group, which in turn took it from those first few influencers. Bingo!

What's critical in this entire process is the position and intent of the influencers. If the influencers are ardent followers of a prudent thought process, healthy opinions prevail and everyone benefits, as opposed to the discordance that used to exist in the past when even the unintelligible ones had their own conflicting opinions without knowing much about the reality or the subject. However in the wake of the smart businesses, a potentially disastrous scenario awaits. What if the influencers simply further their agenda? Well, they'll become gods out of nowhere! While many may have to bear the brunt of time and struggle to arrive at the zenith, these guys will soar to success in no time. All they need is one wild ride on the tide of their induced opinions. While their lack of experience will extenuate the situation because they'll fail sooner or later and will be evicted, it's imperative to note how the entire system will get infected with this set of extremely rapid risers. Those who'll conquer the frontiers of human scrupulousness in no time at all. Those who'll fool humans and then rub grime on their face. I guess we've got a few examples already. We've got many one time wonders who simply took everyone by surprise through their bravado and then faded away. Till now, they've been limited in number relative to those who really deserved their position. Imagine what will happen when the situation will turn around! 

I hope I did justice to the idea. It's there for Joanne to decide,who I guess could have already cleared her browser history to know which blog she accidentally hopped on a few days ago. Anyways, do pour in your opinions on what you think of this raucous rambling.

Want to contribute an idea? You're welcome to do so here -> Crowdsourcing on Disavowed

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Everyone's got their job in a network

To put some perspective behind this post, I'm sharing links to some of my previous articles which in a way form a premise for this final post, in what can safely be assumed to be a series of posts that represent my findings on a long social experiment. 



While staying true to the original purpose of this consecrated pursuit, I did deviate from time to time just to tweak up things a little. You are requested to read till the end before impugning or haranguing me. 

It was around 1999 when my brother and I succeeded in pulling off a remarkable feat by being able to establish a 56K dialup connection on a sleazy mtnl line. I was too small to fully grasp the power of the mode that took everybody by surprise. Even back then there were networks, primarily in the form of usenet groups. I was averse to them as they appeared somewhat jejune and brash. I shut myself to networking till 2010, post which I thought I had enough time to plunge in and experiment. Those previous three posts clearly delineate how I engrossed myself in the chime of life by say, getting swept off my feet again and again,by a few cherubic drop dead gorgeous clique girls on the internet, who of course were acquaintances. I didn't even think of as much as platonic relationships. My messages and my communication were always plain and straightforward. I was the typical guy who was too lurid and yet too afraid. For some reason, I chose to be an observant. For some reason, the temptation to witness an online chuckle(which may have never been present on the other side) appealed more than popping up a proposal. The ramifications could have been very deleterious because the girl on facebook had a father who was a top notch offical in the police. So after dawdling around for so long and with her online presence becoming more and more morsel, the facebook project was called off with inadvertent failure. 

The facebook project was embellished with some ancillary activities including but not limited to sending out enough requests to belles and getting sporadic blocks, affirming my admiration for actresses online in the form of comments that were so innocuous that they got lost in the muddle of those "Friends I am blocked. Add me" comments, and last but not the least, pulling off patterns while studying online activity. I got a lot of insights and I try to use them specifically for designing content for the blog and posting links over facebook. However, my core mission of project facebook didn't result in anything substantial. I needed something that stayed with people all the time. And thus commenced the surreptitious, and in the eyes of conformists-murky, project WhatsApp. 

Having subscribed to a multitude of groups, WhatsApp is always abuzz with activity. I required subjects who were not addicts. Thankfully, I got not one but two, separated by a time span of about 6 months. Inevitably, the conversations never extracted a lot out of the other side. The laconic and reticent respondents were never expected to fill windows with verbiage. But through their times to type, through their status updates, through the associations between surges in activity and other changes they made in their accounts, I was able to elicit a lot of behavioral patterns, I was obviously enamored by their gravitas and demeanor but like in the last experiment, admittance was commensurate to effective termination or better worse, legal action (These ladies too had powerful contacts, presumably). I obviously appeared as a depraved, dallying, dodging, dabbling and occasionally dolorous but good enough not to block kind of guy. No turpitude, no brazen schmoozing, nothing to offend them, and nothing unethical as well. Just the default character play in absence of acknowledgement from other side. It should be obvious by now what was the ultimate result of this experiment. The number of two one on the other symbols that represent messages that were read but not replied to, had piled up miserably and project WhatsApp too had to be called off. But the two projects combined, provided one astonishing finding. And it took me 3 years of beguiling on the internet while attracting allegations to get that. 

"Everyone's got their job in a network." I might have come across to all those ladies as maybe a random sociopath who was to be empathized with and that's why I wasn't kicked out initially. Post a point of time though, my behavior might have seemed inscrutable and contemptibly confusing. Finally, I was a lost pawn in a flurry of online traffic. In short, in absence of effective acumen to charm women, I was inducing or maybe masquerading visages. My behavior was not a function of my innate capabilities or overwhelming confidence which penurious relationship analysts writing garish articles for newspapers like TOI consider to be a prime ingredient to spice up the match. My image instead was a function of the intensity received from the other side and hence it ultimately dwindled and got reduced to a bare minimum. In the process, I went on to be different people all the while, not able to be one person all the time. I was that overtly enthusiastic acolyte, I was that desperate minion, I was that indifferent guy, I was that attention seeker, I was that camouflaged helper and what not. In short, I was everything except of course being that one thing I gradually knew I would never be. And everyone of these people have their place on a network. While a two person interaction may seem as an isolated thing but I've got experience to be not that parochial. Despite it being a two person interaction, your perceptions on someone are always influenced by the amalgamation of all other perceptions combined. It's an amazing thing to sink in but no matter how dunce these extraneous people played by me may seem, they all are required for that one person(that I couldn't play) to succeed. Everyone's got their job in a network and that's a truth. 

I guess as curtains draw on one of my sub projects, it will be party time for my subjects because they'll no longer be smothered by senseless communication from a woebegone and petulant guy who didn't seem to get anywhere near as impressive as the one these subjects might have had finally. My best wishes to all of them. We'll continue to stay in touch. And for me, it's about time I delved in the realm of the unknown to unearth the next thing to look out for. Any ideas?