Fifth or Reverse gear!!

“How does a suicide bomber feel when he is about to explode the bomb?” asked Rahul, my little one. “Is RDX the main ingredient in the bomb?” he nudged me again before I could answer his first query. Flabbergasted at his innocent queries, “How intelligent and well aware the children of this generation are!” I murmured to myself.
Times have changed. Today’s children may perceive our childhood as bland and lackluster. It was almost the same routine everyday for most children of those times. After school hours were spent in playing with the neighborhood children till the final call for dinner came. A hearty meal followed by a long story session from grand ma was something we all looked forward to. Stories of fairies, demons, animals, ghosts elevated us to another world. As time passed, the life changed first gradually and then swiftly. Satellite invasion replaced grandma stores with soap operas, cartoon channels and the like. Fast changing technology, modern means of communication, free flow of information and the ability to travel speedily across nations and oceans changed our lives for ever.
We now lived in global village. Swanky cars, sleek mobiles, fancy gadgets, designer clothes, dot coms…, one look at the tremendous achievements the man has made…we cannot resist patting ourselves on the back.
We have come a very long way indeed. Right in our living rooms we can watch live dramas of destruction, barbaric mowing down of thousands and crumbling down of very symbols of modern existence like a house of cards and what a novel way to achieve the ulterior motives. Each method of mass annihilation is more advanced than the other. Our vocabulary has gone overboard; we can talk of bio terrorism, global terrorism, suicide bombers over a cup of tea.
Whither man’s intelligence! I wonder if we are becoming regressive or progressive.
God save this world.

Problem of Plenty

Life without emails and mobiles!! Is it possible? Forget about mobiles there was a time not so long ago when having a landline at home was a luxury. One had to wait for eight to ten years to get a phone connection. Going to neighbor’s house to make a phone call or watch Sunday movie on T.V was common and nothing to be ashamed of. I get nostalgic when I think of those days. A week long wait to watch Chitrahaar on Wednesdays (half an hour show on Hindi film songs) added on to the exhilaration of watching a T.V programme. Now, what’s the great fun in watching a movie on T.V, it is available 24×7 or get a DVD and watch it whenever you want. People had various reasons to laugh and cheer about – getting a trunk call ( long distance call) after four hours wait, waiting for the postman in the hope of receiving a letter from a dear friend or a telegram announcing the birth of a child in the family. People traced happiness in small things.
Fast forward to the new fast track age… everything happens at the click of a mouse. Want to keep in touch with your friends in US, send an email or just pick up your cell right now (unless it is night time there!). Possessing a cell phone is no more a luxury, it is taken for granted. Every member of the family possesses a cell phone, sometimes even two – one official and another personal. Each one has an independent room and vehicle.
You may buy anything for children but their happiness is momentary. Every weekend there is a get together or an outing so what’s the big deal about another invitation for a high profile party or eating out? There is an abundance of clothes, toys, books, household items and even marks; a child scoring 85% is an average child; earlier we distributed sweets on getting a first division (60%). Now people look for happiness in bigger pleasures which are elusive.
Everyone has everything in plenty except Time. We have time neither for us nor for others.

Six Reasons for why one should blog

Welcome to the world of blogging. Blogs have been around for a decade now. They have come a long way from the tag of ‘time pass’ hobby to the trendiest thing to do. “Do you have a blog” or “Do you blog” is the most common question to break the ice between two strangers. There are blogs on almost all subjects and sub – subjects one can think of and by all the names as there is no copyright on blog names (I suppose!). I could not name my blog for a long time as which ever name I decided on; there was a blog by that name. After zeroing on Coffee Break, I have decided not to do any more google search to find out if a blog by this name already exists.
‘Comments’ to a post add the spice and make a blog interesting. Many bloggers read only the comments and not the post as these gives them various angles of a story. For some, blogging is a kind of addiction and in Marxist terminology, it can be rightly called the ‘opium of the 21st century’
Six Reasons for why one should blog

1. True freedom of expression. You don’t have to write as per publications’ guidelines and editor’s instructions
2. Instant gratification of your efforts and writing abilities
3. An ocean full of info on every topic under the sun
4. Immediate feedback to your posts
5. You get a chance to give a piece of your mind to those writers whose ideas don’t appeal to you
6. The sixth reason is for the readers to tell

Journey of Indian National Flag

The journey of Indian National flag was started in pre independence era. There are many opinions about which was the first flag of India. It is commonly believed that it was in 1904 that first Indian flag came into being – designed and made by Sister Nivedita, an Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda; it was also called Sister Nivedita’s flag. This flag contained red and yellow color signifying freedom struggle and victory respectively. It had words “Bonde Matoram” in Bengali on it. The flag also contained a figure of ‘Vajra’, and a white lotus in the middle. Unfortunately the photograph or image of this flag is not available anywhere. After this, many designs of the national flag were proposed; some were accepted and some not. Each design and color used had some significance attached to it. Indian flag in its present form was designed by “Pingali Venkayya” and was accepted by Constitutional Assembly on 22nd July 1947. There are strict laws regarding its manufacturing and its hoisting.

Chak De India is not Chak De Phatte( ‘Let’s have a blast’!)

The recent release Chak De (‘Go Get it’ expression) India projects two things very coherently – firstly the women power; in spite of his stunning performance, it is the not King Khan but the ordinary women who steal the show with their hockey sticks. Like everywhere else, here too it is the women who have the last word. Secondly, the word ‘sports’ does not mean cricket by default (children now know that there are other sports to be played except cricket and tennis)
“If you have the will anything is possible” especially when it is a Hindi movie and the hero is none other than Shah Rukh Khan, the movie comes with a message and the moral of the story is loud and clear. With an appropriate dose of patriotism, it is a must watch for its being unusual and, catching on the patriotism flame at the time of India’s 60th Independence Day . It is an excellent watch if you are not looking for any glamour, romantic overtones and comparisons with Lagaan, another movie based on sports.
Chak De sans glamour and romance; the theme overshadows the actors.
For a change, it is fantastic to watch India’s national game taking the centre stage but the distressing part is, it happens only in the theatre.

To Smoke or Not to Smoke

The proposal to ban smoking in offices, public places and even homes (take your maid’s permission before smoking) has mixed reactions. Women and non smokers are rejoicing but smokers are grumbling and chain smokers are grumbling even more. Will it really help in reducing the smokers’ population in the country is anyone’s guess? Do you know anyone who has quit smoking? Shah Rukh khan and Saif Ali khan have quit smoking- that’s what they report in publications.
SPI took a trend setting initiative to commemorate Environment Day (5th June) this year by prohibiting smoking within the company premises. Now SPIzens have two choices – either they don’t smoke or go outside the campus to smoke. Generally smokers get the urge to smoke at fixed interval like the tea/coffee addicts. If that hour passes, the urge too passes out.
Last week in the afternoon I was enjoying the rain drops falling with a thunder on the window sill of my cubicle. Who wants to sit in front of the monitor in such a cool weather? No living thing could dare venture out for a smoke in this thunder storm. And there I saw one guy running outside the gate ; he perched himself nicely under a tree for a smoke. Completely drenched but he was unable to let go of the cigarette butt until it burnt his fingers tips. (Paisa Vasool!)
This story has two morals – First- unless the realization comes from within, no amount of restrictions or rain can stop you from smoking. Come rain or shine the smokers will smoke.
The bigger moral- those who are honest will always be honest no matter whether anyone is watching them or no.

The Name Game

A rose called by any other name would smell just as sweet, wrote Shakespeare.
Mysore will be Mysooru / Mysuru and Bangalore will be named Bengaluru soon and so will some of the other cities in Karnataka.
So what? What’s the big deal about it? Will this twist of the tongue make Bengaluru less polluted, less congested; will it bring relief from stray dog menace or yes, will it become Singapore( BTW do you remember once upon a time S.M. Krishna wanted to make Bangalore …sorry Bengaluru like Singapore?) How it is going to change life for any one of us. Don’t understand why such a hullabaloo on name changing ceremony except the twisting of tongue to pronounce it. Are there not more important things craving for attention than a mere change of name? If only name change could improve things…
The proposal for the name change first came in Dec 2005, it is only July 2007. In a country where everything from Buses to proposals thro decisions move at a snail’s speed, it is pleasantly amazing to note that the decisions can be taken so quickly and things come to conclusion in 18 months. What if our politicians start demonstrating such exuberance and elation in other matters too like stray dog menace, efficient public transport, depleting greenery, traffic snarls ….I will have to write an essay if I start mentioning everything.

Clean Up Your Act

There is this person in our company, a well respected senior guy who often goes on business trips abroad or putting it rather undiplomatically …keeps having foreign jaunts at company’s expense. The general impression about the people who travel frequently … these guys having sufficient exposure, have good civic sense and are generally well mannered, cultured and courteous. The other day I got the ‘taste of India’ when I went to see him at his desk ….I was welcomed by wrappers of imported chocolates, biscuits and half eaten biscuits littered around his desk in his cubicle. The techie was so absorbed in fiddling with his swanky palm top that he barely noticed my presence… it was a perfect demo of technology amongst filth.
Did I say filth…which is there in abundance every where in India. Well, this post is not about India versus Abroad. It is just about attitude anywhere. This comment should not be mistaken as anti- India campaign; I love my India in spite of filth.
“There are not sufficient dust bins around” is the most common excuse for over flowing dustbins at every street corner. We behave like good boys and girls when we go abroad but the same people on landing at Indian soil behave differently. Will we still throw garbage and litter the roads if we are in US or Europe, or even our neighbor Singapore. No! we won’t rather we dare not because we will be heavily fined if we do so.
Let’s put it like this; we all need a stick on our heads all the time, that’s how human beings work irrespective of education and intelligence quotient!!. Self motivation to clean up is hard to find and does not last. Ask us to pay a fine of even Rs 100/ for every bit of paper or every spit of pan thrown on the Indian roads and execute this sincerely, then see the sheen on Indian roads.
Well, that’s not in my hand. Now, I want to do what is in my hand … request the Facilities Dept to send one waste paper basket to this guy’s desk


Your Time Starts Now

Mysore summers have been exceedingly long this year; the salubrious and moderate climate of this royal city is no more its USP for residents and tourists alike. Mysore is not the exception. The heat has caught on the entire globe. The world is getting hotter year after year. Global warming is not a science fiction any more but a looming reality. The United Nations inter–governmental panel on climate change has predicted that temperatures will rise by 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Developing countries like India will be the worst affected by the climate change. Water scarcity, infertile lands, land slides, floods, droughts would become a lingo of the weather report. With all these problems to tackle where is the time and energy to chase our dreams and ambitions.
Reversing or controlling the trend is the real challenge for scientists. If we can reverse the trend or even slow it down, this will be the most precious gift we will be leaving for future generations.
This is the time to act and not ponder and play around. The time is not to indulge in blame game but find a solution together. The count down has begun.
Many may shun this as a piece of crap as what has individuals got to do with the global phenomenon and what can they do. Yes, individual acts can make a difference.
Prof Wangari Muta Maathai , the Nobel Peace Prize 2004 Winner is a living proof of it. It all started with the seven trees that she planted in her backyard on World Environment Day 30 years ago. Over the years , that single act of hers has grown into a world wide movement with 30 million trees in over 30 countries that earned her the Nobel Peace Prize for her ‘contribution to sustainable development , democracy and peace’.
After all it is the effort by every individual counts. Let’s all do what is within our reach. Planting trees, conserving power, using fuel efficient vehicles, shunning plastic bags are few things which do not even require much effort from us. Spreading awareness and educating others especially our children on saving our environment is of prime significance. Dedicating just a day for this every year wouldn’t be enough for celebrating Environment Day, let’s celebrate it every day.

Knowing Etiquettes Matters

Shivram Gangadhariah has sent an interesting article on how important it is to know diversity in human behaviors and etiquettes as these convey different meanings in different cultures.

We should be thankful to the wonderful diversity that exists in human behaviors and etiquette. Otherwise ours would have been monotonously boring world. But this diversity can create some problems. When it comes to etiquette, ignorance is certainly not bliss. Innocent actions may cause confusion or, worse still, may be construed as offensive.
Following examples, courtesy, show some of the complexities arising from diverse etiquette. Germans prefer formal mode of address such as doctor or professor, stressing their educational credentials, so you shouldn’t make the mistake of using first-names in Germany. In England you are expected to be punctual to meetings, whereas in Italy being 5-10 minutes late is the norm. Attending a meeting in Dubai wearing a dish-dasha (a white ankle-length gown) and gutra (head cloth) is likely to draw criticism, as foreigners are not supposed to wear traditional Muslim clothing. At times, etiquette can be very subtle. In Japan, business cards should ideally be produced from the pocket of your jacket, and not from trouser pockets. Also, the business-card presented to you should be left in front of you, because putting it away is a signal that the meeting is over. Sometimes, ignorance of etiquettes can cause much more serious problems than mere confusion – it may offend your host and damage the relationship beyond repair. For example, in Hong Kong, gifting clocks to acquaintances is a strict no-no because it is thought to signify death.
First-time visitors to India who are ignorant of Indian behaviors may be bewildered to find their hosts shaking head side-to-side to indicate agreement or approval, because most of the rest of the world understands a sideways shake of the head to mean disagreement or disapproval. In our own Mysore, it is improper etiquette to say “naanu hogu thini” (“I am going”) while bidding good-bye – the correct expression is “naanu hogiddu baruthini” (“I am going & shall return”).
Do spend some time and effort learning local behaviors and etiquette before visiting a new place, as it will help you to some extent in becoming good brand ambassadors. It is not without reason that employers spend small fortunes educating their staff in behaviors and etiquette of the locals, before packing them off to foreign shores.