25 June 2008

Bombay... and Bombayites ..anecdotes from down memory lane

Caution: Slangs spoken in bombay have been used.

:::Bombay ... . Just because some religious fanatics decided to rename the place as Mumbai, all over the world it is still called and known as Bombay, the New York of Asia. It is a brand. Even IIT (Bombay) refused to change its name to IIT Mumbai.

:::I have often asked people who have come to study at IIT Bombay, why did they choose it when they had other choices. For people who had come from smaller towns, Bombay was a place to have fun, to see the world by being in India. Some came as far as Jamshedpur (north india) even when they had IIT kharagpur in their neighborhood. The first impressions of a non-bombayite of bombay is its crowd and how we go past each other without an expression. The anonymity in the midst of crowds is quite intriguing to many who have come from towns where they have stayed amidst homogenous societies.

:::In many universities in the US -the indian student population is segregated on the basis of communities .(the tamil crowd were mainly people of tamil origin who were raised in tamil nadu and the bengali crowd were bengalis who were raised in west bengal ) During my days in school, a similar feature existed. But there was a group called the "bombay public ". Interestingly, only the bombay public had gujratis, marathis, mallus, punjabis, bengalis, tulu's, tamilians, kannadigas all of them raised in and around the suburbs of bombay. we did not represent any particular community but we were the "gang" from bombay. The hep, the cool, the bindas, "the loud" who did not isolate themselves into their respective community crowds - We were the bombayite's- with the bambaiya hindi and with the bambaiya attitude - who could break into a dance in the middle of the university squad or who would play impromptu cricket on a late summer evening or who would have a late night party with blaring bollywood music coupled with the English "digjig".

One night during one of our chat sessions Shanti who was raised in Madras gave a testimony to attest our brand , " we always looked to bombay for everything. the girls so confident and secure, the boys more bindas than ours. the socialization of the opposite sexes - the girls and the boys freely interacting without inhibitions is something about the bombayites that is so liberating". "Collar tight करो भाई"" ( a phrase used in bombay when they feel proud of themselves ) one other guy who belonged to bombay said on hearing this. Many illuminating columns have been written about bombayites. But my analyses among many others ( which I wouldn't want to elaborate in this post) is this : Typical Bombayite behaviours stem from the fact that bombay, like no other metropolis in india have submerged its many migrants from differents parts of the country to amalagamate into a culture of its own. We having gone to school with children from different communties have learnt to like, learn, accept, tolerate, consider and agree to disagree in a hetrogenous, diversely society. Each of us bring with us our strenghts and learn from others , the same values that our parents brought with them from the villages , only in Bombay we displayed these strengths 10 times more ... Oh yes, we hated the crowded locals - but who are the crowds ? - we ourselves, who created the dust and the grime and the pollution ? - we ourselves - the city has an energy that keeps beating 24/7 - they cannot change us with a change of a name.

:::At a ticket window in Thane railway station, I said , " दों VT (2 VT) ".The sales clerk said, "काय?(what)". she made me repeat it 3 to 4 times pretending not to understand what I said even while I was talking to her in marathi (the local language )all the time. To this the person who stood behind me in the queue said - "Ask for CST" instead of VT, otherwise the clerk is not going to give you the tickets. "

http://www.flickr.com/photos/drbalaji/127495945/ - Bombay VT - http://www.flickr.com/photos/lecercle/436338522/ - A glimpse of the crowds in Bombay
ttp://www.flickr.com/photos/wormtongue/246482707/ -Trains, the public transport used by the masses.

18 June 2008


These are not good pictures - but the rainbow that showed up in the sky this evening was PERFECT. It was a rare visual treat . And whenever I will see these pictures the visual pleasure will be recalled in my mind's eye again and again.. Such are the treasures of nature - What do you think ?

15 June 2008

the dynamics of technology

what do you do when you feel like this ?
Image by prop stylist sergio esteves appeared in conde nast Portfolio, Feb, 08.

13 June 2008


Take everything you know.....
And nudge it. Push it. Simplify it. Liberate it. Inject it with passion. Give it a point of view and ...........You will make the ordinary -extra ordinary..

( Originally An Infiniti ad. Now with a twist)

11 June 2008

From the leaf to the cup

Chai ..not hot and steaming, but cold and icy is refreshing in this hot and sultry weather. Last night when lightning struck and thunders lashed and the warm breeze blew across we were sipping cold chai. A healthy alternative to cool ones senses both physically and spiritually. The drink of the gods has been transformed in many ways , added with accessories such as lavender, hibiscus, cardamom, ginger, and many others but the drink has always soothed me in its original form...

In a cup of hot water drop in the tea leaves. Let it take its time to pour the scent of the fragrant leaves in water.The tea leaves performs a dance and unleashes its magic when it surrenders to water. The leaves crushed, it is left for us to sip and enjoy.. add ice for cold tea or drink it hot during winter.

I learnt to make tea from a man who was born among the tea plantations in Munnar and who learnt to make tea from the men and women picking tea leaves. My affinity to drink tea started when I first drank it with freshly made tea leaves which he had bought from the tea plantations. Now corporations have found a market for tea among health drinkers and spas and sold in cafes with names such as chai latte ( tea leaves or is it tea concentrate in milk overboiled with some froth) and packaged in aluminimum foiled cans with preservatives.
Japanese have revered the same, by having a formal cermony while tea lovers have their own party around - The Tea party. ..for it keeps the conversation flowing and the party going. It uplifts the spirits and soothes the soul. Tea .. it is meant to be ..pure, simple and personified.

09 June 2008

Graduation, Memories and Musings

These are days when graduation ceremonies are being held in some school or college in different parts of the world. They say one goes to school to find out what they want to do in life or what they do not want to do. Which one is easy, I can't say. There are a chosen few who figure out during school what they want to do in life and carry on.. They drop out of school and build societies and communities that revolve around them. They become movers and shakers.They lead and build. Schools have become enterprises which continue to produce a sea of graduates who are sitting in cubicles day after day churning the mill and only a few who challenge the norm..

Like clock work they wake up in the morning, exercise, shower and take the subway to the mill to churn another round. They have to imagine little and do what they are asked to do. They are being paid for imagining less or not to imagine at all. Most of them are being paid to use their potential 'limitedly' or to imagine under a structured framework so that society can be kept running like a well oiled wheel. - Thank goodness for these we can put food on our table and share some.

People who ask questions are considered cynical or people who think out of the box and question authority are looked upon with a frown. But if one is dressed in the best of clothes and wears the suit, coat and tie one is considered successful. After all, what society looks for is the image. That is why at graduation everyone wears the black robe - a symbol of "uniformity", where everybody symbolically is asked in not so many terms to keep the society churning. The black robe helps one to hide behind one's college degree or encourages silently to think inside the box. It is also a symbol of social security and status but in retrospect it also helps one to question and answer, to doubt, to affirm, to assert one's beliefs and test ones assumptions. To fight for oneself and others who cannot. Graduation is a day of ordination, where one is baptized and one takes her turn at the cross lanes of the world. She has been gifted - the gift of choosing.

I have never attended any graduation ceremonies (collected them in absentia), but when I was in graduate school I witnessed a ceremony that I have never forgotten to this day. I didn't go to hear the commencement speaker, but I went to see all the graduates who walked down the aisle to receive their graduation. I got goose bumps when I saw the faculty and the graduates walk down the aisle in their regalia. I went to see all the stars in the eyes of the parents, some who had never even graduated high school but who had saved and skimped to send their children to college, and dressed their best to come see their children officially go into this universe. I went to see the teachers who had struggled to keep their students in class and some who gave a tough time.

I went to see friends who were surrounded by an aura of fondness and joy. These are the people with whom they can pick up the conversation that they had left off several months ago. These are the people whom one can knock on doors anytime. For it is truly these people who have seen us in some of our best and worst moments in classrooms and dorm rooms during our formative adulthood years, before waking moments or after midnight to discuss a question that we thought was the most pertinent. These moments will be passed on as stories to their children and grandchildren and may become stories for generations to come, perhaps even become a lesson learnt or an inspiration in itself.

Image credits go to

06 June 2008

American trysts

Barack Obama is an experiment. The charm, wit and intellect displayed by him is almost similar to Bill Clinton's during his campaign. Obama still does not have much to manipulate since he does not have a long record. He is new. He is a toddler running on 40 in the Presidential race. Obama can slip and fall, and he will continue to run amidst many errors and mistakes in the political sport that he is currently in. The votes moved to Hillary when some of the voters realized that he had a Muslim middle name. In a shifting world where American companies have outsourced majority of their jobs offshore and the public can see that their income is tied to how markets in India and China perform, the American voters have also changed.

The young population who has grown up in a comparatively tolerant racial society is willing to consider somebody new, may be they want to take a chance on the lesser unknown evil than a widely known evil in contrary to the popular quote' better the known evil, than the less known beast'. The country is ready to take chances, shift gears because they are sick of the oil reeking, white male politicians not able to deliver.

The garbage that George Bush and Co. has
created in the last 8 years is so huge that so many administrations henceforth is going to spend a considerable time cleaning it up.
They can not sneak out like how they did it in Vietnam . The toxic in the current white house will need some strong wash and cleaner and the grease will still remain. If Obama is walking to the white house - he is walking on thin ice. But even if he can pull some issues strategically in the first 3 years it will be commendable. As far as the patriotic quotient goes, if America is going to judge the presidential candidates on some criteria that somebody has some siblings in other continents , the country is definitely going blind or deaf or both , because the immigration policy of this country allows some finest brains of the world to enter this country and Obama is its product. And if the country is not going to utilize that to remain in the list of developed countries, it will slowly go toward the end of the list.

When America attacks other countries and rejoiced when the communist Russia fell to retain its power as no.1, little did it realize that they will be measured by the same yardstick by the rest of the world. Saddam was a creation of American fear and when the giant Saddam stood up, America lost control again behaving like a child who recently had its immunization shots. Stricken with fear the country let loose its anger because they live in a doll house and are scared to death when the economy fickles or they loose their house because some bank in Switzerland held its security. Twice bitten, Thrice shy they say. Human capital and Human resources, some of the finest brought from other countries when tied under immigration policies and other politics will paralyze the country than allow to grow up if not wisely used.

But let me tell you one thing - I love this country for the freedom of speech. sssh, but Bush is listening and may be tapping into my internet..

04 June 2008

Did Hillary threaten America ?

Tomorrow morning's conversation at the office water cooler will be a guessing game, What is Hillary Clinton's next move. But the thoughts of the persistent and determined Hillary's is "What have I not done to clinch the deal ?" ChelseaClinton is secretly (not any more )strategizing that one day she should too run for presidency and that she will have to sit at this seat of power fulfilling a dream, if not for herself but for her mother who had secretly harnessed in her heart in 1973 to run for the candidacy of president of America, and when she learnt that there was another fellow student at Yale Law School who also shared the same dream she picked him and stuck by him during all odds.

Hillary knew very well that america was a closed book when it came to a female president, hence she calculated her moves to run for candidacy almost 35 years ago. First, she married somebody who cherished the same dream and who had the charm, wit and intellect to persuade america to vote for a female president.She also built her resume to make herself a prime candidate for the party's nomination. During Bill Clinton's impeachment trial due to the lies in his testimony and the extra marital affairs with the pretty brunette Monica Lewinsky, Hillary clinton continued to keep her marriage because she was not ready to risk her dream. She kept away from the legal bickering which is a logical move for any woman having a husband with a roving eye.

After her husband's political term as president, they remained in the North east and Hillary then ran to become the Senator of New York state - a state that literally decides the Capitol's move. Consequently she wrote 2 books, as the next step to voice her views on various issues. In the last election of 2004, Hillary had unofficially started her campaign at the Democratic party not campaigning for the then democratic candidate John Kerry,but herself. As She dreamt she planned and took strides to retrace her steps to the white house and eventually the seat of power which still eludes her technically. Hillary Clinton has been campaigning not for the last 17 months as most media mention but for the last 8 years actively for a nomination and the last 35 years in total to harness her dream.

If Hillary Clinton does not become the president she will become disgruntled, and a deeply troubled woman and may become bitter. She would still be aiming for an equivalent position. Or would want something equally powerful to leave behind as a legacy.(Think Al Gore) Not satisfied she has started calculating her moves again. Or as America changes a new amendment in constitution will take place to make a seat for Hillary Clinton to be on the hill.

When dreams do not fulfill, people go down - depressed, frustrated, agonized. Some intensifying their fight and some trying to keep on the trail. Her fight and her conquest to stay in the race when every body wanted her to quit is a tale that parents will tell their children all around the world and for that she has climbed the highest peak. But her fight would end only when she officially holds the title of the President of America. And everyone in this country and beyond knows that she was the "unofficial" President of America when her husband held the title because technically she ran the show.

Determined,persistent,strategic,intelligent and ambitious Hillary Clinton is a lesson to many who continue to be perseverant in their lives. And Dreams are worth fighting for. For only it is in such people that the world continues to hope to find encouragement in their lives. For only in such people will the world continue to change, continue to excite others not to compromise,but to live LIFE.

She is manipulative, a sign of a great politician. And articulative enough to collect votes from the undereducated, aging, blue collared, rural and white population who is unwilling to accept the repercussions of globalization which Thomas Friedman romanticized in the best seller, The world is Flat and trusted their votes to whom they thought may be their savior.
She played the race and gender card wisely. She did not hesitate to drop key personnel in her campaign when they did not agree with her thus showing the first signs of crackle in her own closet which is definitely not a good sign for those running for power. But it is commendable that she won thumping in the primaries.

For Hillary Clinton, it is either her way or no way. She screamed about the health care practices that she will employ if elected to power, but her colossal defeat in this regard happened during her husbands presidency term 8 years ago when they had the same health care plans and did not implement it. She tried seducing the American voters saying that she would cut the gas taxes for 3 months if she is ultimately elected to power. A power lover she did not fall short of employing such cheap ploys to reclaim her power in the white house. She stretched resiliently on in the fight and still stands without a wave of goodbye which is perseverance amplified or ..

The battle that Hillary started in herself almost 35 years ago have helped the country to overlook conservatives and has helped change history. But as the Zen Master would say,"We will see."

Image credits go to: http://flickr.com/photos/litwinenko/97994906/

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