Friday, March 03, 2006

Strange sights on a summer afternoon

I was returning from the British Council Library today afternoon. It was pretty hot. Summer has just begun. In fact, this time around it was pretty cool till Shivarathri day. Anyway, the cool winter days are now just a happy memory, and it's become sweltering hot already. I was actually sweating profusely even in a loose white salwar kameez.

Waiting at the signal, my eyes roamed and rested unbelievingly on a fluorescent purple coloured car that came to a halt outside a famous sari shop in Pondy Bazaar. The purple was so bright in the sunlight, that it almost hurt my eyes. The fun is not over yet. A tall, fair girl stepped out of the car. Guess what she was wearing? A pair of black leather trousers and a matching shirt. A boot legged leather trouser with silver sequins. I wonder if she was just back from a movie shooting or something, but it was too fantastic to believe.

Makes me wonder if some people haven't heard of the word 'comfortable'?

Well, that's all for this week. Am off to Kerala, visiting the Guruvayoor temple and Puthukode (my mom's ancestral village). Ta ta, till Monday!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Who will cry when you die?

"Real generosity to the future consists in giving all to what is present."

- Albert Camus

Who will cry when I die? I really don't know, and I probably will never know unless there really is life after death ;-)

Anyways, that's not what this post is about. I am now reading Robin Sharma's book "Who will cry when you die?" It's a nice book. He offers 101 tips for living a fuller life. But if you read the book at one go, it's not gonna help in any way. The day I started reading the book, I read around 20 of the suggestions at one go. The next morning, I did not remember even one. Then I decided to read one tip and implement it every day. It works!!!

Well, the tip that I liked the most was "Cure your monkey mind!" He explains how our mind tends to roam and be at umpteen places at the same time. Rather than focus on the current moment and the task at hand, we tend to think about the past or the future and about other tasks and events, thereby reducing focus and concentration on what we are doing at the moment.

Robin Sharma also suggests a way out. He asks us to try "Focus Reading". Focus on a page and keep reading it. Every time your mind wanders away, make a mark in the right margin. This will make us aware of our poor concentration, and help us to correct ourselves. I tried it today, it actually works.

Expect the unexpected...

Life metes out the strangest lessons. At all times the only thing we can expect is the unexpected. Consider this simple example: I cycled for 30 minutes every morning for more than 6 months last year. I didn't lose ANY weight. This time around we had a good winter in Chennai, and the only thing I wanted to do in the mornings was draw up my blanket and sleep for an hour more. I did not cycle for over 3 months, and I lost more than 4 kgs! Really, life is very ironical. Does our observation stop there? No.

I tell people, "Expect the unexpected, but try to find out why the unexpected happened so that next time you will know what unexpected outcome to expect!" Anyway, I tried to see why I lost weight when I did not cycle. Here's what I found: When I was cycling, I was tempted to gobble up every tidbit that was placed in front of me during the rest of the day. "Ha! I cycle anyways, so why not!" But when I was not cycling I felt a pang of guilt when I saw that extra helping of cheese on a pizza... consumption of rich food reduced and I lost weight.

Of course, that does not mean I need never cycle again. In fact, it's high time I started, because my many friends (aged 6 to 60 and higher) in the neighbourhood have already started asking me why they are not seeing me cycling in the mornings (that's the problem in a very friendly neighbourhood; everybody knows what you are up to ;-)) Anyways, come summer, mangoes will flood the market and I have to make up by exercising. This time around I will be wiser. I know that cycling is not enough; I also need to curtail food intake. If that just does not happen, and I once again end up putting on weight despite exercising, at least it will no longer be unexpected ;-)

Reason. Let it guide every moment of your life!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

These are a few of my favourite poems...

Well, you must be thinking me crazy for loading my blog with so many poems, but these are some of my favourites and I like to keep reading them often. I couldn't think of a better place to archive them... now I can open my blog and read these poems whenever I want, and wherever I am. Of course, I know most of these by heart having read them so many times, but recounting a poem from memory is never as fun as reading each line and digesting it before moving to the next :-)

The road not taken...

By Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it's queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

William Wordsworth's 'Daffodils'

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Time, you old gypsy man

By Ralph Hodgson

Time, you old gypsy man,
Will you not stay
Put up your caravan just for one day?

All things I'll give you
Will you be my guest,
Bells for your jennet,
Of silver the best.

Goldsmiths shall beat you
A great golden rings,
Peacocks shall bow to you,
Little boys sing,
Oh, and sweet girls will
Festoon you with may.

Time, you old gypsy,
Why hasten away?
Last week in Babylon, last night in Rome,
Morning, and in the crush
Under Paul's dome; under Paul's dial
You tighten your rein-
Only a moment,
And off once again;
Off to some city
Now blind in the womb,
Off to another
Ere that's in the tomb.

Time, you old gypsy man,
Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
Just for one day ?

My favourite song...

THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS
(Lyrics by Bette Midler)

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that's your way,
you always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name -- for so long,
a beautiful smile to hide the pain.

CHORUS:
Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and ev'rything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it,
I would be nothing with out you.

CHORUS:
Fly, fly, fly away,
you let me fly so high.
Oh, fly, fly,
so high against the sky, so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you, thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Meeting Dr Ashok Jhunjhunwala

This was one of the most exciting days in my career. I got to visit IIT Madras' TeNeT group and interview Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala (who was awarded the Padmasri title in 2002). A simple, amiable, humble, interesting and obviously knowledgeable man, it was a pleasure interacting with him.

First I got to see demos of many of TeNeT's projects. These include innovative telecom technologies that can take ICT to the villages. Through the Chiraag project, they have set up Internet kiosks in numerous rural districts, where the kiosks serve as a one-stop IT solution for them - from communications to clicking of digital photographs - all at a low cost. The kiosks are used to tie-up skilled villagers with entrepreneurs in the city, so that work (ranging from data entry to embroidery) can be outsourced to the villages - making the world truly flat. In addition, medical and agricultural consultancy, and educational services are also offered through these Internet kiosks. I even got to video conference with a person in a remote village. You wouldn't believe it if I told you that these conferences work on 24 kbps Internet connections!

Then, I got to listen to a talk by Dr Jhunjhunwala at a IT company, on leveraging India as it stands up. Very interesting talk about driving progress through innovation and entrepreneurship. Then we had a tete-a-tete about incubation of technology firms and developing good business models for their sustenance.

Since my car hadn't arrived yet, Professor, his wife and I ended the evening watching budget news on TV.

It was a wonderful evening. A great learning experience. It is interacting with people like this that makes Journalism/Writing the interesting profession that it is.

Next I want to meet President Kalam! Hope some magazine editor gives me an opportunity to do so :-)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Beach's Lesson

As she walked on the beach,
Turning away from the eternal ocean,
She noticed…

Vast, Gloomy, Immeasurable,
Extended the waters,
Like the tears she was leaving behind.

Firm, Unmoving, Concrete,
The Earth stood below,
Like the past she could not change.

Infinite, Clear, yet Cloudy,
Waited the sky high above,
Like the promising but uncertain future.

Sunny, Green, Lucid,
Invited the shrub-bordered path ahead,
Like today, which the rising sun just ushered in.

Then she knew where to turn,
Not behind, not below, not above,
But in front.

There was no looking back.
Full steam ahead into the day, she jumped,
With a prayer on her lips,
And courage in her heart.