Dec 25, 2010

A European Journey - 6 (July 16)

Venice over, next stop was Florence. A name associated with Florence of Nightingale, but more an Art capital of Italy. A place where the Renaissance began, and the start of a new era.

First stop was the Duomo, a simple church built centuries ago, and yet retaining its elegance. There was nothing magical about the Church, a simple place to pray, no grand tours, no huge lanes going around in circles, as most churches that we had visited had.. This simply had a grand empty place (obviously, during prayer times at main events, the pews are put in place), but the simplicity was just the artwork.

The external was as simple and yet as grand and the internal was as simple but elegant. The Artwork, though not out of the world, was as stunnig as had been at the other Churches that we had been to.. The work of the Masters was there for all to see, inscribed on every wall, every ceiling, for posterity.. One could only continue to gape at the amazing work that had been done centuries ago, and yet looked fresh, as if done just recently. The carvings on the Duomo was mind boggling, every piece showing an element of the era that was, and at the same time, a facet of Christianity, that being the religion of Europe. Every Disciple, every God, every Angel, were in some ways inscribed on to each of the monuments that were built so painstakingly beautifully, never knowing that these works of Art would be the beginning of a new era.

Post the Duomo visit, we headed off to the Signoria Square, another square, that simply had breathtaking artwork built all around. One could simply lose oneself in the atomosphere for hours, where time simply stood still. Did the people who ever built these monuments, ever think of tourism, or was it simply their devotion to Art, that made them come out with the best of their times..

Creativity knew no bounds and I guess, that is where the Renaissance flourished, had there been curbs in terms of expressions, oh what an era would have been lost. Art as one would say, in its very naked form. Men, women, children, all reflected in their true sense of their being, and that is what gave credence to creativity.

Statuettes of Amerigo Vespuci, Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, all were present overlooking the square.. It was a credit to their talents and their genius, that a lot of the cultures that exist today, owe their very existence to them. The added difference is that they get their due..

Journey over, an eventful day, headed off to Rome, the capital city of Italy, which was ofcourse the center of it all.. After all, the saying did say.. All roads lead to Rome.. A sleep over there and then off to the Vatican...

Nov 16, 2010

A European Journey - 5 (July 15)

Leaving Austria, the next stop was Venice.. Viva La Italia.. The country of the Pizzas, The Land of the Gondolas, the city in the middle of the sea, a city surrounded by water all across.. Venice, oh Venice, who had not heard about Venice in their life.. Something that we all grew up in life with through history books.. The Merchant of Venice, Shylock, comes to mind.

Good day or bad, not sure what it was, but it turned out to be a scorcher.. Austria was nice, pleasant and cool . Italy, just turned out to be the opposite.. We were starting to understand, how the Italians got tanned. Austria to Italy was one long drive.. nothing much of worth in the morning, we headed off straight to Lunch.. A restaurant named Maharani.. Could never fathom the reason for such names, would they bring in more rich people?? Anyways, lunch being lunch, we headed off to Venice.

Accessible by boat, we headed off to the point where the boat would take us across the river or sea to the city surrounded by water. One would think, how is tha possible, however it seemingly was and is. A city built over a conglomerate of 100+ islands and interlinked via canals, one would imagine that they would die out.. But no, this was one thriving place, filled with people from all corners of life. Said to have been populated by people who fled to avoid invasions by the Huns and also as people wanted to avoid paying Roman Taxes.

A short trip later, we were in Venice. Right in the middle of the sea.. The first view was of awe, as to how this was built and surviving, of course, one would think of it as an island in the sea. Wonderfully built, and with the sun out in full swing, it was a rocker.

At St. Marks Square
First stop, St. Marks Square, arguably the most photographed square in the world. What would you find there, one would ask, and I would simply say, people.. The Basilica of St. Mark, one of the apostles of Jesus, the square was simply breathtaking. One cannot describe the place, one has to be there to soak the ambience, the soul, the feel of the place. No one knew anyone yet every one knew every one.. It was simply speaking, being with yourself.

A short brief here, we went off to the Murano Glass Factory, where they have been making Glass for more years, than many of us were old enough to be.. A wonderful art, simply managed out of a piece of glass, that gets moulded into shapes, ranging from small boats, to large colourful eagles. An art that has spanned since centuries, handed down generation by generation, requring a lot of patience, deft hands and simply, a lot of imagination.

Glass factory over, we were more or less on our own for a few hours.. Just walk around and enjoy the place. That we did, of course not by playing any games, but just being at the Square.. A walk down the lanes to see the Gondolas, and how they maneouvered through the canals.. Of course, we wanted to see if there was any music playing around, as we had so very often seen in the movies.. But Alas... The canals were no doubt very dirty, the Gondolas no doubt well maintained, but for some reason, the excitement lost. Is it not better to simply live off memories at times, and not see reality?

A good few hours later, we headed back home, back through the sea looking back on the city in the sea. Landing back to the ground of course felt happier as we headed back to our hotel (which in fact was one of the good hotels that we stayed in), as we set ourselves for the evening and the next day journey to Florence, one did wonder, would you stay there..

Once you reach a place, one feels, yes, this is where I belong, and I guess, a lot of us must be going through it at times, however, I also believe most of these are good for visits. Would I stay in Venice, given a chance.. A chance to be at the square, the Gondolas, the orchestra's, the Ta... hmmm.. food for thought.. probably post retirement with a million bucks???

Oct 23, 2010

A European Journey - 4 (July 14)

One day in Germany, and onwards to Austria, coincidentally, the land where Hitler all started. One would think it would be as similar to Germany, but vaguely different.. The journey from Heppelheim to Austria was unbelievably long, and I guess one of the first of the journeys for me where we spent almost six hours on the bus..  Considering the distance, we had started earlier, and by now much used to the 6 / 7 /8 sequence of get up / breakfast and leave...With the group being the group that we had, and the European land mass being picturesque, plus a movie here and a movie there, time passed away.

The first stop straight after a 6 - 8 hour drive was to the Swarovski museum. Finally the entrance that so many of us had also grown up with watching in the movies, a grass field in the shape of a face with two big crystal eyes and a small pond in front of it..First impressions are always unique.. You see a picture for years, and then you see the original, it either takes your breath away or leaves you dejected..

This was not in the same league. Neither was the sight something that would blow away one's breath, nor leave you dejected.. Just as one had pictured it. Very artistically done, very natural, and very well maintained. Add to it, with wonderful weather that was prevailing at the time, it made it all the more pleasant.


The visit to the Museum was one that had its ups and downs.. Some would take your breath away, some would be just plain simple. Images done with crystals, gleaming like diamonds. The saddle of Chetak, Rana Pratap's horse was a sight to behold. A wall filled with thousands of crystals, statuettes covered with crystals, a wall of mirrors, 21st century Art, a fusion of east and west, it was a combination of both what Swarovski does best, i.e. crystals, and modern art as of today.


Glass Imagery. Sharing with myself
 The response to this was quite muted from a lot of the group members, who felt it to be a waste of time, however from my perspective, it was wonderful. We see a lot of technology on TV or in the movies, here we saw a very miniscule portion of some wizardry, if I can call that, with a lot of innovation thrown in to combine the modern era.

The tour of the museum ended with of course how most do, being left alone for shopping for crystals.. I love shopping and this was one place, I in some sort of way did not regret much for not being able to shop.. My Credit card had expired and I had no spare.. Good God.. Four / Five days into the tour and no credit card.. Luckily the tour was paid for, else, there would have been sleepless nights. 

Walking off without much shopping, we headed off to Innsbruck to spend the night. The good thing about these small towns, was that you could simply mingle into the crowd. No doubt most of the people here were tourists, probably making it a bit more easier, however there were locals also who lived there. You could simply walk in there, and absolutely feel at home, irrespective of the language. Small town, beautiful surroundings within mountains and a pleasant end to the evening.. What also added was some wonderful food at the end of the day, making it thoroughly enjoyable.

Of course end of the day, some people complained about a waste of a day, where we only saw the museum and nothing much of interest, but for me, it was a visit, that I do not know when I would do again.. Might I even come to Austria, would I drive all the way to the museum? Probably never.. But as the saying goes.. you cannot please all the people all the time.

Viva La Italia we go next....

Sep 25, 2010

An European Journey - 3 (July 13)

A long break after the last journey notes, not sure why the break.. Coming back to completing my tour, looks like I almost got lost in Holland and never made it to Germany.. Anyways, back to the road..

Left Holland in the morning, heading off to the land of Hitler and the Frauleins. Images of Nazi armies walking across fields, with raised arms conjured up my mind, as we headed to Germany. The Germany of power, the Germany of precision, detail, the Barons and the Baronesses, the Frauleins, Count Dracula, Charlie Chaplin.. the list is endless...

Entered in through Dusseldorf, where our first stop was the Koln Cathedral. Koln or Cologne as we pronounce it in English. The first sight of the Cathedral and the response was.. Good God.. That is blacker than a Coal Pit... Amazingly sooted with pollution, the Cathedral was cleaned out a few years ago due to an anniversary, however it was covered in black soot within 2 years. Simply unbeleivable, how far we have gone in our quest for advancement. Germany was brilliant technologically, however for the amount that we all lose in our quest for advancement, are these monumnetal losses worth it?

The Cathedral was beautiful, as all Cathderals are, maintained very well over the decades, some over the centuries. The beauty is of course always on the inside, and I have always wondered, how did the people in those days manage. These cost money to do it, and with more money today, how come we can't build such monuments again..

Visit over, a few touristic snaps done, proceded for lunch, which was truly wonderful.. After about 4 days, a restaurant where the food quality was excellent and ofcourse we enjoyed every bit of it, and of course with a few Biers, as the Germans would say. Lunch over, Beer in tummy, the next visit was a tour of the Rhine River, which is one of the largest in the world. Some of these rivers are truly to be seen to realize the magnitude of their greatness.

A boat ride for the next two hours may seem boring.. But it turned out to be just what I wanted.. A ride on an open boat. .Sitting up on the deck, and watching the scenic views on the River.. Great history, how this was used during the war, and the importance of the 3R's to Germany.. Rail / Road / River. Covered with various forts on both sides, it is also a medium of transport for local people who would hop on from one place to another to get across..

A wonderful scenic ride over, we moved on to visit the town of Heidelberg. Not a great technological city, it is more renowed for the Heidelberg Man, the oldest evidence of Human life in Europe and also for it's castles, universities and its importance to German history of the past. A short stop there, we spent our night at Heppelheim, an even smaller town, before heading out into Austria. The hotel was nice, clean and sparse.. Of course, it was hot, and surprisingly coming from Dubai, for some reason should have made it cooler, but we could not.. Wonder of wonders.. Four days into Europe and we were like them..

All said and done, a wonderful trip, of course, in one day, you cannot cover a lot, it is limited to a few places, and those we enjoyed. A thought does go again.. Rich cultures, rich heritages, huge contributions to present day future.. And the only link to the past is what we decide to maintain of it..

Onwards to Austria...

Jul 31, 2010

A European Journey - 2 (July 12)

Onwards from Brussels and on to Eindhoven.. The Netherlands, or Nederlaand, or Amsterdam, or Orange Country as one would call it in various names. The Journey from Belgium to Netherlands was an absolute pleasure to the eyes. Miles and Miles of greenery, of course you also had the concrete buildings en route, however the amount of farmlands that we passed through were amazing. The pasture lands, the canals, the farm houses, the animals, simply out to pasture on the farmlands.. a sight that remains with you etched for ever.

The Drive was quite pleasurable, what was also amazing with the common structure of Europe. You are in one country and you just drive along, to any neighbouring country. Not a border, no stoppages, you are in Europe. Of course the remnants of the old border post were still there, however the ease with which you pass from one country to another, reminded me of the complications that one goes back in India, when at times crossing one state into another. Excise / Octroi / Road Tax.. blah blah.. Every thing was automated.

We drove into Eindhoven, a small out on the outskirts of Amsterdam, nothing much great, however a very quite place. The hotel was indeed a shocker.. No Aircon, no Fans.. Imagine, a heat wave going on in Europe, and no AC.. Well all the Europeans live that way, so why could we not? The evening was managed somehow, the night even worse, coming from the Middle East, one being so used to Airconditioners, you simply get spoiled rotten.

Start off from Eindhoven onto the Hague. The Political capital of Europe, the seat of the International court of Justice. A modern city, having considerable political importance, and still retaining its old world charm. A quick tour through the city, the first stop was Madurodam, mini Holland. Holland in its entirety in miniatures. A similar take off from Mini Europe (which covers all of Europe’s main attractions), Madurodam showed Holland in its entirety. Wonderful creations, miniature masterpieces, hand crafted to perfection, where it came to details, one visit there, one covers a country in its entirety.

The added attraction was the weather, which turned out to be amazing with rain coming out of nowhere and temperatures going down quite a few degrees. Madurodam over, the next stop was the Cheese and Wooden Clogs factory, a first hand view of how cheese and clogs were made. The journey was amazing, with once again, a wonderful view of the country side and the canal structure. Miles and miles of fields, all wonderfully green, with cows lazing around pasturing. All interconnected through canals, never a land showing up as barren. A blend of the old wooden windmills with the new high rising metal windmills of the present. Amazing, how the country had set itself based on its prime resource, rains and farmland, making it amongst the richest countries of Europe.

Come the Cheese and Clogs factory.. A view of how these are made. A brilliant introspective by the concerned people, it was indeed an amazing lesson, as to how cheese was formed and what all went into the making of cheese. This was no normal kraft spread cheese, these were cheese blocks, which when explained made it so very complicated. The clogs workshop was another eye opener as to the making of wooden shoes, which served so many different purposes and were also steeped in tradition.

Lunch over, the next stop was the diamond factory, an opportunity to see what goes on in the making of a diamond and also an opportunity to buy some. Of course, the price factor was a dampner, that having done with, a tour of Amsterdam through its wonderful canals. A sail through on a boat, as to how the entire city was interconnected through the river. People living in boats, people enjoying their weekends moving around in boats, a city that had made full use of its both strong and weak points.

Back to the hotel in Eindhoven (not very keen due to a lack of airconditioning), we made our way through in the hope that tomorrow would be another day, and not spent in the summer heat that all of us had left in the first place.

All in all, a wonderful two nights in Holland, yet another example of another country so steeped in tradition and history, yet moving along with the present. Of course it was not difficult to see the present soon overtaking the past, and one wonders what would be the status 30 years from today. Some of the European countries are facing a huge identity crisis, with their own populations diminishing, and other cultures taking postions. Not realized first, they are now facing this huge issue, and there is no denying the fact that one day, there would be no Europeans in some countries (Belgium / Holland, to name a few).. Until then, the culture remains, the past still steeped in tradition.

On to Germany...

Jul 15, 2010

A European Journey - 1 (July 10)

I have been lucky to visit Europe quite a few times. No doubt it was all courtesy my work, with all my visits leading to me spending much more time at work than I normally put when I am in my own office, with very little time for sightseeing, still, how many people get to go to Europe regularly.

This time was courtsey the wife, who planned out an European tour for two weeks. I have not been on a vacation for a long time, and seriously, was happy, that my wife had planned this out (leaving it to me, would have taken another two years). So the plan final, the tour was to Europe for two weeks, and ofcourse, my plan was no work.

And so we started, with the first day (July 10), leaving for Belgium. Midnight flight, via Amsterdam, a four hour halt at the airport, sans any veg food (the agent forgot), we finally reached our hotel, after nearly 12 hours since we left Dubai.. Was I ever dead.. But alas, being a Saturday, and ofcourse Europe, they never give the rooms prior to 4 PM.. Checkout is always 12 PM. Hello Hello.. Welcome to another part of the world, which is not Dubai.. Checkins are not when you land up at the airport, and you will not get help to get your baggage. We all work for ourselves.

All settled in, food was ofcourse the first thing on mind. Voila, what does a veggie eat when he goes out of Dubai.. Pizza!! Luckily there was a joint open, and we could savour something into our empty stomachs. The rest of the afternoon / evening was just a stay at the hotel, as most of the places were closed by then.

Come the next day, a checkout, and onwards to the beginning of the journey. Pickup near Grand Central, the bus finally came about an hour late. Either way, a tour around the Grand Palais, the Central, the Mannekin Pis, and of course the St. Michel Church. I had been to the area, around 10 years ago, of course nothing had changed, however they were now on a cleaning spree of cleaning all old buildings and bringing them back to their original glory, ie. clear them of all the soot that they have been collecting. And is there a change? The buildings sans their soot and dirt, are simply un-recognizable and beautiful.

A tour of the Central area complete and a few Belgian chocolates down, we headed off to the Atomium, where an Atom has been expanded 160 billion times to create a building in the shape of atoms. Amazing what has been built. That and a few scenes of true Belguim, we headed off to Netherlands, our next stop.. Eindhoven.

Amazing thing was how the country manages to keep itself clean (of course there will be poverty and dirty areas, but on an overall basis), and the amount of greenery available. Wonderful weather, amazing atomosphere (sans the heat wave), beautiful greenery, and without a doubt, an absolutely beautiful country...

May 29, 2010

Exams.. And the resulting Grades

Interesting Article..Grades take the heat out of Indian Exams in UAE. Thought provoking, mind boggling and eye opening. What was interesting was that children were not happy

What are we heading to? Is this a monster that we have created that our kids now do not wish to come out of? Or is this some thing that we want to ensure that it remains for ever and ever.

Why can we not accept a system that grades us rather than gives us points right upto decimals that tell us how good or bad we are? What difference does it make, if you find out that a group of people are rated as Excellent or Outstanding, rather than saying he is 99.95% Excellent, and he is only 99.10% Excellent.. For what? To rave and boast about it? For parents to show off their wards at parties? Has that 0.85% made that other person a genius?

It is unfortunate that we have imbibed ourselves to accept this as the only valid mechanism for our success. Parents have grown up this way, they want their kids to grow up the same, and these kids one day will do the same with their kids.. What is ironical is that a lot many go to Universities where they are graded. So what if all got an A++. Do we have to show ourselves off against the other to prove our superiority?

Why can we not think about the kids? The mad race for that extra decimal point, the sleepless nights and the pressure that parents put on their children and the pyschological and emotional blackmails that children go through to get that extra decimal which is higher than Jane Auntie's daughter. The smug face that a mother has when she finds out that her son got wee bit extra than the annoying pest next door.. For What? For the Parents?

We have made our Kids into demons who measure every step of their lives as points. Even in an Average rating, there are high Averagers and Low Averagers!! Does any one really care? Average is Average.. Excellent is Excellent. Period and let us keep it at that.

Kids today are smart enough to realize this and it is a bold step that the Educational institutions are taking to remove a marking system and replace this with grades. Life is not about decimal points and 93.26 % vs 93.28%.. It is whether you have understood your concepts. It is how you perform overall. It is how you end up being as a person. The sooner the parents learn this, the faster they themselves might end up being better parents. If the parents do not support this move, unfortunately, what we will be doing is destroying our future that what it already is.

May 14, 2010

A trip to The Netherlands

Had an opportunity to travel after a long time and this time it was the Netherlands. Rocking Amsterdam, the night life, the free drugs, one would think. But no, this was all work.

My trip lasted only for a week, but what was impressive was the peaceful life that I witnessed. Of course, one would state that a week is not enough to make a decision, but the feeling was wonderful. A quiet place (I must be honest here that I was staying one hour outside the city), not much of a rush, people living their own relaxed lives.

The weather was another bonus. Winter just out, fall on the way, it was a blend of both. Evenings saw people leave the offices at 5 (unlike the late workers in Dubai), people having dinner by 6, shops closing by 8. Wow, why would some one from Dubai want to live there? One comes home at 10, and then you decide what to have for dinner? Shops closing at 8.. Sunday the entire country closed? Have I lost it?

Probably the fact of coming from a small place (Bahrain) had its overtures (difference being the weather). Life looked simple. You start early, end early and the rest of the day is your personal life. People manage their own business, the place overly European, though a mix existed in places, people seemed content. The ones who had moved there seemed quite happy not to move for some time.

Would some one from a city that lives on competition, people running for money, day and night, where flaunting of wealth is a common phenomenon, survive there? Would one leave all and move to such a place. Would a better quality of life be enough of a motivation to live in such a place anywhere in the world?

Difficult it may sound, but worth a thought.

Apr 16, 2010


Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Living life IN PEACE
........ John Lennon

Going through You Tube and listening to Lennon's Imagine, I could not but help wonder as to what made Lennon write this song. I listen to it a lot and no doubt, every time one listens to it, it sends a little shiver down your spine.

Such simple words, written over 3 decades ago, it is still an anthem for many. No countries / No Religion / No Heaven.. nothing but people living for today and in peace.

30 years on, what have we learnt, or are we still trying to learn? We all live for our own selves, we still fight in the name of God, we still fight for more. We live as if there is no tomorrow.

Maybe as one said, Lennon was stuck high on LSD and it is these high feelings of his that transpired into songs and gave such peace messages, my thoughts always close down to one... If the times that Lennon grew up were turbulent and they were looking for peace, what would he have done today?

At the time it was Give Peace a Chance.. Today it might be Peace has no chance

Apr 6, 2010

Burqa or No Burqa

French Government told to Limit Burqa

Going through the recent article on the French Governments decision to implement a bill that would limit the use of the Burqa in selective places, and the resulting hue and cry and the worry of the council, I could not but help wonder at the fuss and even pass a wry smile.

So the French want to limit it's use. And the council is worried of a backlash. Who scores? The Government who wants to preserve their national identity or the council who are worried about a political backlash considering the strong growing population that could turn around and the impending violence that it may trigger?

The interesting thing was the number of options that are being looked at. Sports arenas, public places, high security areas, faces should not be covered. Of course, people are not going to be satisfied with this. Both sides want their identity secure.

The question does remain as to whether the Government is right or the people who get effected. The French want to protect their identity. They see themselves as getting too dominated by the Muslim immigrants in terms of culture and a change in religion. The Muslims feel it is their right, as they are part of a society that they live in.

But why do they want to oppose? They are after all immigrants. They did make a choice to leave their countries and move to the West for a better life. They chose their countries. They chose their surroundings. They accepted the conditions. They made their choices.

It has been quite the norm for most of the immigrants, more predominantly Asians, to migrate to a new place, want all their benefits, luxuries and a good life, however when it comes to accepting the country laws, reservations creep in. We want to preserve our cultures. We want to live the way we lived in our countries. We want all around us to follow how we live... Why leave your country then?

The Middle East is a prime example. Freedom of religion is not permitted. The only accepted religion is Islam. Though there is no compulsion to follow this, one is not free to practice his or her religion. You follow the rules. Period. Dont we comply with it? Don't we follow this, for fear of a reprisal from the local laws?

Why then this hue and cry over a law, that is meant to protect the local cultures. After all, we accepted them. There will always be two views, the for's and for not's. It never was simple, it never will be simple.

Religion and Politics unfortunately are intertwined and can never be left alone from each other, the lose unfortunately always has and always will be the common man, the pawn in the entire scheme of things.

Mar 29, 2010

Earth Hour

Have been hearing / reading a lot about the oncoming Earth Hour.. March 27 is the day, when every one across the globe switches of lights for one hour at the same time..

4000 Cities in 92 Countries participated this time. A fantastic idea, virtually putting everything on hold.. The idea is to conserve energy. Per the report in the Dubai newspapers, they saved 170k KW in one hour. In Australia, it was equivalent to getting 42,000 cars off the road..

I am quite sure that there will be many such success stories in every country, every city. Every one would clamour to state what they achieved and people would be talking about it for a few days.. maybe weeks... And then..

Then we go to our normal lives, our daily routine, where we consume energy like there is no tomorrow. We will switch on all our lights, every single highway, every single multi storey building that we have.. Every single highway, every building, every showroom.. Our cities are going to be brightly lit for the next 364 days.. And then March 27, 2010, we will switch it over for one more hour.. And brag how much we gave to the society.

Did we really? No doubt this is a good idea, a good thought, but why can we not put this into routine practice? Can it not be done every day, every week, every month.. It is the same question that I have.. Why Mothers day one day of the year.. Fathers day too.. What about the rest of them? Are they not special.. People take an extra "effort" to contact their parents and show how much they love them? What about the remaining 364 days?

We have pushed ourselves to the limits of no return in many areas, and now we all try to improve our conciensces, by contributing to these once a year annual piligrimages. It is our way of telling the world, oh, we contribute..

Why bother.. Why have this fake attitude? Do we honestly care? Will we even remember it after one year? Reminds me of the no car day that the Dubai government recently did.. All RTA employees were informed of the no car day.. Come walking, biking, metro.. what ever, but not your car.. People came by Metro, some got dropped, some took the bus.. The fun part.. The Government paid for their tickets !!

Who are we trying to fool?

Mar 9, 2010

The Average Man

It is quite surprising. You think of some thing to write, you start and then you plan to come back as more thoughts come. You stop, take a break for a day, and before you know it, a couple of weeks pass out. Not becuase you planned it, for me, it is simply, will do it tomorrow. However when you come back, it is like you never stopped.

I was discussing a topic on cost of living recently, some people local, some recently moved in.. and the consensus was quite mixed. Of course, people coming from Bombay, stated that living costs were exorbitant back home, people here claimed that Dubai was unthinkable.

Bombay over the years has no doubt grown massively expensive. Demand and supply? Shortages? Real increase? No one really knows in my view. But the fact is that no matter what happens, the price is absorbed by the common man. The rate of increase in population, and the fact that disposable income has more than increased in the last 10 - 15 years, simply ensures that people will continue to spend.

More so, as every one wants to lead a good life, be seen in fancy restaurants, drive a car, have an apartment in a posh building, costs are bound to increase. Of course, as people get used to this kind of living, it becomes very difficult to ensure that the alternate source of income is a continuing trend and there are no hiccups to this.

Similar to Dubai, where I live. Costs have increased, two. Of course the main reason was the artificial inflation on the property market, second the view that anything any country did, we can do better. Good attiture, wrong approach. Rents are still sky rocketing, normal utilities have become more expensive, indirect taxation is simply at its best. People who are earning well, continue to earn well and ofcourse will continue to spend

But where does that leave the average man? There are still people who earn a lot less and living costs are a nightmare. People commit suicide on a regular basis, because they have expanded beyond their means. Current costs cannot be met, cannot be decreaased, and financial liabilities are on the rise. There are a lot of people, all around, who still face difficulties in making ends meet.

How does he survive, how does he live? Would he ever be in a situation where he can move to a better apartment in the Middle East or for that matter, back home when he goes. Would his savings suffice when he goes back home? Can he buy a house? Can he send his kids to the posh school that he dreame of?

What is indeed surprising is that Malls, Restaurants are all full throught the day, often making you wonder, is there really a bad time? Should people stop enjoying a good life when can? Of course, if no one spends, how does the economy grow?

A two sided coin, it indeed is

Feb 6, 2010


Have been reading a lot these days of the comment that SRK made about having Pakistani players in the IPL and the resultant furore about the same. Hundreds of responses, lots of views and of course many people chosing to be politically correct for not upsetting Mr. Thackeray.

Who is right and who is wrong? Is SRK wrong for chosing to comment on something that has been permitted to him by the Indian Constitution. Is Bal Thackeray correct for stating that Mumbai is for the Maharashtrians and that the Biharis and the Punjabis and Muslims are not allowed?

The irony is that most of the people simply do not bother. It does not make a difference if you are staying in Mumbai or Bombay, a Madras or a Chennai. The generation to whom it mattered are probably long gone, and the generations today are simply struggling to make a decent living and ensuring that their families grow up in an environment where there is a chance to grow, security and stability.

Bombay has always been the land of dreams and it is this place where every one comes to try their luck. It is said, no one goes hungry in Bombay and every one manages to eke out a living. Imagine if all the Tata's, Birla's, Ambani's, Bollywood (of which Mr. Thackeray's DIL is a big associate), the Wadia's were not there. What if they had received the facilities in their own home states and built themselves there. What would have happened if the Kishore Kumar's and the Mohammed Rafi's had not come to Bombay to try their luck.

Bombay is simply Bombay due to the unique cosmopolitan structure that it has built over the years. More so that a majority of the people are all from the same country, unlike a New York or a Paris, where the cosmopolitan structure is built on immigrants, and visitors who chose to live there, rather than people from the interiors of the villages deciding to try their luck.

The sheer complexity of the country with its hundreds of languages, with its cultures and the blend of people who stay side by side, away from their families, building up a life of their own, in place they call home can never be replicated by any city.

I am sure Bal Thackeray knows all this. And he knows very well, that people cannot leave, as they have their lives to think about, their families.. How best to utilize this to his advantage is some thing that the Shiv Sena has been doing for years, with its brand of terror rule, with a group of people who have no aim in life, but to enforce terror and fear into the lives of other people. There is at times no no difference from the British way of divide and rule. The more you divide people, the less they would form together, and the less chances of any one standing up to claim ones rights.

I remember reading some where long back.. The day the Indian citizen realizes his rights and stands up for it, more than half the politicians would lose their job. Unfortunately, they do not care and this is why this brand of terror and incompetency continues. The Shiv Sena's self centerd belief is forced upon people to accept, to not have a view of their own, and to have a false sense of belief of casteism and stateism.

Unfortunately, it is the country that loses. It is the identity of a citizen that is lost. You are no longer an Indian, but a Maharashtrian or a Bihari or a Tamilian.. Until and unless we wake up to the realization that we are Indians first and Indians last, we will continue to go deeper into this rut of casteism and will forever have our Modis and Thackerays to contend with. These are the people we will leave our children with, growing in a an environment of hate and anger.

Easier said than done !!

Jan 30, 2010

Anger Management

Why do we simply lose our cool.. Perfect one minute.. Gone the next. Why do we, act perfectly rational at one moment and before you know it, are absolutely irrational. What clicks in that one second, that we just "lose it". We say something that our heart tells us that we should not be saying it, yet the mind does not listen. We go ahead and say it. Boom.. Baam.. And the arrow is out..

We sit and think it over, or do we really? We know what we said was not in place, yet we did. Are we apologetic for what we said? Do we regret what we said. And when we do, does it remove the pain inflicted at that point of time? Words once out, can never be taken back. We all know it.. "Sorry" has no value. And we all stive for it. .Yet we say it.. We totally mean it at the time we utter something.

The thought just comes to mind, as I too go through these situations. Something that some one said, some thing that some one did. We just did not like it. And we go all out. Makes you realise at a later point in time, that how powerful the mind of a human being is. It works faster than what we can imagine it to. It even does not permit us to be in control.

Are we all living in a society where people are all so frustrated with things that the first opportunity to go all out comes, and we do it? Is this frustration on life itself? Is this frustration on situations that we know are not when we are aware that people have short tempers, do just the thing that invokes the short temper. Why not do things that go not generate friction. Why do we have to ensure that we rub people the wrong way? Why do we simply not try? Where does it leave us? Midway in life, with no one on our side?

Can we learn from our mistakes? Do we take the effort to improve, or are simply that way, because we are that way and cannot change?

Time is a great healer it is said, and life moves on. It never waited for any one, nor will it ever will. Wounds heal, leaving little or no marks. Sorrows become rememberances. Good times become fond memories. Words uttered in a moment of madness, remain with us every day for the rest of our life.. Both with the person who said it and the person who was said to?

Is it worth it?

Jan 16, 2010


Going through the online edition of Gulf News, found the linked article on Workaholism and the reasons / results that this habit brings across. Very valid points, well researched and factual. A big introspective and a reality check question.

Most of the reasons I found were valid. The desire to grow, the drive to compete, the insecurity in the country, your desire to make money as long as you can, the worry of providing for dependents. Incompentancy in people, the fear of going on leave.. I have seen them all.

I also recall the article on Ranjan Das the young CEO of SAP India who passed away (What killed SAP CEO Ranjan Das and lessons for corporate India) and a thought comes across. He did not fit the profile as has been defined, however work still killed him (Who ever said Hard work never killed any one, was lost out on this). He was certainly not incompetent, nor did he have to worry about providing for dependents.. Rat race.. Probably yes, insecurity.. Probably not... So what drove him to outpeform

As a self admitted workaholic, I could not but find similar traits on some of the points listed. There are many of us, who in our quest to prove ourselves and the the fact that we are not happy to sit on past achievements, have reached a point of wanting to better ourselves.. It starts as a simple game, and then lands into an addiction. Where this line of reality and fiction cross, where we believe that work addiction is equal to hard work one never knows. One can never define. It transgresses all our thoughts, and becomes a part of us..

We go to gatherings, we meet people, we talk about every thing, however at the back of your mind, work is still on. You meet an office colleage outside, invariably work comes to the fore.. Is that addiction? People may have this habit of tuning off once they leave the office premises and not wanting to come to that element until they walk in the next day, however it has been extremely difficult to agree to that point of view. While one cannot simply live on work, one cannot also detach himself from work. After all how many of us, do not think about our personal chores at work? Do we leave them behind? So, can we similarly leave work behind once we leave office?

I am not promoting that we carry our work along, however work being a part of home life is a reality. There are people who have a firm line between the two and you find this more towards the West than the East. Of course as the new generations come up, they too have a similar line of divide between personal life and professional life, and people do not belive in mixing the two.. A fair balance, an excellent divide if we can stick to it and promote this across countries, that heathly people mean a better community and better cultures.

Jan 9, 2010

Family Gatherings

I have always been a big fan and a believer of family gatherings.. There is nothing that can replace all family members getting together in one house, with kids running all around, every one yelling, shouting, laughing and having a good time.

Every discussion comes to fore.. Sports / Politics / Stock markets / Business / Gossip / People.. The list is endless.. People come, meet for a few hours and all go back to their homes.. Value.. Priceless.

Why have I brought it up? I have just had two of them in 48 hours and of course with the same people, but still the thrill of it is unimaginable. In this day and age, where we are all so busy with our lives, with the rat race that we are all in, with the targets / achievements that we need to reach at, with work pressures, family & personal committments, we tend to be so self centered around ourselves, that we either do not have the time to think for others (since we are so busy), or have the energy to meet people.

I have over the years gone through a similar phenomenon.. Work has taken so much of a priority, that one does not travel at family functions when they take place back home. Why.. Work !!! No time !!!! Simply not possible..!!! No Leave !!! When I think of it in hindsight, simply excuses.. Result, I have missed a life time of opportunities of seeing so many of my relatives and their kids grow, that should I bump into some of the kids, I would not even know them.. Nor would they know me and I would not expect them to. After all, the effort was not there.

We have a tendency to say that God, your kids have grown.. but did we take the trouble to see them grow. For that matter, how much time do we spend to see our kids grow. With nuclear families, both parents working, children either grow up with maids or with the Microwave and Television. It is unfortunate that in our zeal to ape the west, we have even taken their negatives.. One often hears people in the West taking the Asian culture and trying to bring family values, however we tend to move away from them.

I do consider myself lucky for the very fact that I get an opportunity to meet my families at least once a month and I believe this is very necessary. This is not just to see each other, but more so in my view, for our future generations to remain connected with their roots and cultures, as we tend to grow more and more apart. After all, if there is no family, there is nothing.

Jan 2, 2010

Another Year Gone by

Amazing, when you think of it simply.. A day ago you were in 2009.. You are in 2010. A decade has gone, you are a year older, a decade wiser, and you think.. Wow that was fast. It just seemed like yesterday that so many things happened.

It was just a month ago, my cousin got married.. Wow one month old. Already a couple of months that two of my cousins delivered.. One's kids are approaching their first birthday. The other's son had his naming ceremony done. My uncle / aunts / sister, all came down for a celebration, we all enjoyed their company and all went back to their lives. It just seems like yesterday.

It also seems like yesterday that people in my organization left. People took over new jobs. We shifted offices. We changed systems. The worst recession in the history of people was witnessed. Dubai launched a Metro. The tallest building in the world got completed. Every single industry in the world crashed. Finacially the biggest disaster in history. Billions / Trillions gone.. All a year old. Take a breather, how many more can I remember? To be honest, not more than 10 - 15 events. Celebrated New Years Eve, had a ball of a time. Weddings, had a blast, rocked myself out. Gone.

But a question remains.. What did I do so great in 2009, that I can remember in 2010? For that matter, how many of us can remember what we did memorable in 2009? I recall an incident from 3 idiots that Amir Khan tells R Madhavan and Sharmaan Joshi.. Machines are his passion.. He does engineering coz that is a passion for him. Dont do some thing that you dont love. We all go through it. We do our jobs, simply coz they are our jobs. Do we do some thing that we really love.

It could be very small things like simply having time for ourselves. Chasing our hobbies. We cultivate them when we are young, we leave them coz they will not bring in the money. In this rat race, where no one remembers who came second, we go year on year doing the same monotonous things that we do, a few enjoyments here and there, and before we know it, a chunk of our life has gone. We plan to improve it the next year, however we again go through the same rigours and another year goes by. Before we know it, we have spent our entire youth running after a life, that we never got to enjoy. By the time we can enjoy, a lot of moments are gone, and we can only rue for those gone by, never to return.

What are we doing about it? Nothing much, is what I can see. Can we commit to improve our life? After all it is in our hands. I can say yes, but one knows that life being what it is, we will never be able to live it the way we would like to do. But what I can resolve is to commit to make 2010 and this coming decade a better one than the one gone by. Even if it means I get one memorable day.

Happy New Year.