Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Judicial reforms are the need of the hour

The world is indeed a strange place... And why do I say that? Read on..

Mr Akmal Shaikh, a British national, accused of smuggling drugs into China has been executed in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang. China has very strict laws on drugs and almost on every thing. There are 68 crimes in China that are punishable by death, including non-violent offences such as fraud, bribery and drugs charges.
In recent years, people in China have been executed for tax fraud, stealing VAT receipts, damaging electric power facilities, selling counterfeit medicine, embezzlement, accepting bribes and drugs offences. Statistics indicate that 5000 people were executed in China during the year 2009!!

In India on the other hand, molesting a girl isn't considered a big crime and the maximum punishment is 2 years!! Here, life imprisonment means 14 years... and if in the rarest of the rare cases if some one is awarded a death penalty... like in the case of Dhananjay Chatterjee... we have the human right activists out on the streets , protesting!!

We need Judicial Reforms and quick. Having a democratic country is a good thing but letting that democracy, that freedom, interfere with the judicial system... can do good to no one.

Whatever said and done, atleast now we know how and why China is way ahead of India :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A citizen speaks

Crime No I - Ex DGP, SPS Rathore molests a 14 year old girl, harasses her family, throws her out of school, leads her to commit suicide, impedes the judicial process for 19 years.

The Penalty - A fine of Rs 1000 and 6 months imprisonment ( RI, if that makes it any better !!)

Crime No. II - Habib Hussain pays Rs 2 Lakhs to a dubious agent who promises him a job in UAE, he goes abroad only to find there are no jobs, he works as a cleaner for an airline company who impounds his passport, Working for 13 hours a day and getting paid peanuts, he hides in the toilet of the aircraft and comes back to India. ( The crime here is that, he didn't buy a ticket, and of course he left his passport back there !!)

Penalty - He could face up to 5 years in jail. (Under the Passport (Entry to India) Act)

As an Indian citizen I have tremendous faith in our judicial system but it starts weakening when criminals come out of the court with a smile on their face because of the sheer power of money and their clout. SPS Rathore was smiling as though mocking us and saying, " Ha, You have faith in THIS system?? The one which has let a molestor go scot free? " I felt ashamed at seeing him smile... ashamed that the Indian Judicial system had failed to deliver justice, yet again. He has been fined Rs 1000.. Is this the punishment for playing with a young girls psyche and forcing her to commit suicide?? Can any amount of fine compensate for the trauma that Ruchika and her family have gone through?? Is it safe for your sisters and daughters to have maniacs like him still out in the open??

Sometimes, staying quiet is a crime by itself and SPS Rathore we, the people of India have stayed quiet long enough. Not anymore... So get ready to pay for your sins. When Mr Habib Hussain faces 5 years in jail... there is no way that you should get away with anything less than life imprisonment.
We, the citizens of India, demand justice... not the kinds which will make a mockery of the system, set the accused free and punish the victim instead... If we want to advance as a nation, we must first ensure that our country is not a safe haven for criminals and politicians. We must ensure that there are no more cases like Ruchika or Jessica Lal. I still have faith in our system... Do You?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Watercolour Tulips

There is nothing as calming as painting watercolour Tulips :) My first try at painting florals, but am quite pleased with the results :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Who said Life is boring?

Of late, I've been leading a robotic life..
Wake up - 8 am
Get out of house - 9.30 am
Reach office - 9.32 am
Check orkut - 9.40 am
Pretend to be busy - 10am- 5pm
Stare at the watch - 5.10 pm
Wonder if the watch broke down - 5.20 pm
Get out of office - 5.30 pm

Even though it seems to be pretty boring.. believe me.. my office is anything but boring!! Theres a lot to learn here..

Lesson No. 1 -- Never kill a snake

Oh yes.. Never kill one. Our office had two resident snakes.. and almost everyday we had to evacuate the building till they could catch the snakes and declare the building safe. Then one day.. the unthinkable happened-- a young, inexperienced, hot tempered man, killed it. He held the dead body up, like a trophy.. while the others covered their mouths in horror. A peon suddenly shouted out.. " Office ko shraap lage ga.. saanp mara inhonnein".

My mom had told me stories, that if u kill a snake, its relatives come to take revenge. I had visions of the whole office being filled with snakes.. " The Snake Returns II".. But something worse happened..

The transformer konked off.. and the office was left in darkness ( and sweat ) for three days. Silent whispers were heard "Maine bola tha, saanp ko nai maaro".. but whatever said and done.. the snake had taken its revenge.. and how :)

Lesson No. 2- Don't have more than two GFs ( or BFs) at the same time
My colleague is an interesting personality. He is celebrating his silver jubilee with GFs but still hasnt found THE one!! The latest find is through 93.5 Red FM.. and he seemed to be very excited 'coz he got free movie passes too.. but the excitement lasted only till he met her in person. Rumour has it that more girls stared at him while he was with the girl than they normally do -- coz they couldn't for the life of them imagine what kind of a boy would go out with such a girl (!) But things got worse..

His earlier GF called up.. trying to "test" him.. pretending to be a third person and asked him whether he had a GF.. and he messed up.. taking the name of the FM girl.. What happened next.. can be only imagined :)

He now wants to sue 93.5 FM although he isn't quite sure for what :D
Oh well, theres a reason why we believe in monogamy :D

Lesson No. 3- If you havnt seen Paris, it doesnt exist!!
Okay, now this is a weird one. All my life I've been surrounded by intellectual people.. so much so that I came to believe that dumb people don't exist. But my illusion was broken.. and how. While calling clients, we tend to exclude companies who arn't in India ( basically coz we don't have ISD facility on the phone). On one particular day, this same enlightened colleague of mine.. refused to call up a company in "Daman & Diu" because, apparently it isn't in India!! When I told him that it was very much in India.. he said " I've never seen or heard about it"!!

I hate routine.. but when I get to witness such events on a routine basis.. I dont mind "Routine".

Friday, June 5, 2009

A metro in a metro :)

One of the saddest days of my life was when I came to know that the Delhi Metro was going to be built!! In fact, I think all of Kolkata went into mourning that day... suddenly, overnight, the crown of being the only city with a metro service was going to be snatched away from us :D But, on my recent visit to Delhi, I was forunate enough to use the metro... and I must say I was very impressed!! The service was something like it would be in foreign country... smooth and efficient.

I used the metro to travel from DU to Delhi Station (at peak rush hour). By road this journey would take about an hour (thanks to the traffic !) if not more. But using the metro... it took just about 20 mins :)

But, it was not just the time factor which impressed me... it was the whole experience that the DMRC (Delhi Metro rail Corporation Ltd) provides its customers, which starts even before you land in Delhi! Not being very familiar with delhi or how to get around, I was confused about which metro I would have to catch, how frequently do they run etc. Normally, the internet is my saviour, I swear by it :) But I was apprehensive as to whether the DMRC would be 'online' :)

I was pleasantly surprised by the results :) Almost every information that a traveller would need, is available online -- the routes, the fares, the frequency, the distance, the time taken, the stoppages.. everything. For the calculation of fare, u just enter the two stations, and u get the fare... unlike Kolkata Metro website, where they tell u the fare according to kilometres and leave it up to u to figure out what is the distance between the two stations :D

On entering a metro station, u feel like u have entered a airport :) Huge, spacious, extremely well kept, well decorated, with signboards to help people figure out where to go. This again is in contrast to the dirty and dingy metro stations of Kolkata where people consider it their birthright to spit at every which place.

Once in the metro, there are announcements regarding the next station, but the best thing I liked is their announcements regarding which side the platform would come... thus saving the people the trouble of rushing at the minute. And, maybe the DMRC has conducted market research, but the metro doesnt stop at all stations for equal amount of time. At places like DU and Chandi Chowk, where their is a heavy rush of people... it stops longer... while at other places it has a shorter stoppage. Amazing strategies !!

There are some other interesting facts about the Delhi Metro -- like the first section took merely three years to complete, while the kokata metro took eleven years!! Also, Delhi Metro was the first metro in the world to be ISO 14001 certified for its environmentally friendly construction. How can a metro be environmentally friendly you may ask. Well, most of the Delhi metro stations conduct Rainwater harvesting and have established catchment areas fo this purpose!!

Oh and yes.. do I need to mention... Delhi Metro is one of a few metro systems in the world that are operationaly profitable. In the financial year '08, it had revenue of $100 million and profit before tax of $3.98 million... haha.. so I guess both DMRC as well as the citizens of Delhi, have a reason to smile :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Paint My World :)

There are times when you want to fill colours into your boring life, but dont know how. There are times when you want to escape from the concrete jungle, from the hustle bustle of life, to a more calm and serene place but are short of vacations :(
And then there are times when you feel as though all the people on earth are out to get you :) And that nobody understands u... and u just want to talk, express urself... but dont know to whom :)
Well, surprisingly all these situations have the same solution (And this is NOT an advertisment for one of those stupid things on Tele shopping Network, although it may sound like that :D )
The solution to all these things, for me (I guess it varies person to person), is to pick up a brush and paint. Paint the place I'd like to be in... paint what I want to express... see the colours mixing freely... as though they are so happy to meet each other after being locked in the tubes for so long :D

Painting, for me is therapeutic... and I am thankful to my mother to have introduced me to the world of colours. She always inspired me, and praised even the lousiest of my paintings (still does :P). I must be one of the rare souls to own a Grumbacher Brush set :) and even artist grade water colours :)
Anyway.. So today, like everybody else, I too was getting crazy due to the heat (and due to the construction in the house :))... and I just wanted to run away... where?? Where ever my brushes and paint would take me :)

For today, I choose to be by the side of a lake... peaceful, calm, serene, cool :)

The world is my canvas and I shall paint it :D

Happy Painting to all fellow painters too :)

Monday, June 1, 2009


If there is anything that Indians value more than an IIT or an IIM degree, it is being 'Foreign returned' :)

For ages, anything and everything 'Videsh' has seemed lucrative and 'swadesh' looked down upon! It is a matter of great pride and honour for a middle class family to be able to send their children abroad (In fact, I too feel immensely proud of the fact that my sister is in USA).
But the recent racist attacks in Australia raise a number of questions.. especially 'What is being done to protect the minorities?' The situation has gone beyond asking 'Why are these attacks taking place?'

Yes, agreed that it is a well known fact that racism is rampant in Australia but does this give anybody the right to indulge in racism?
Should not the government and police forces be more alert?
Is merely asking the PM to apologize, enough?
We have had an reknowned Indian actor declining to accept an honor from an Australian University... is this going to help? Are the people who are indulging in these hate crimes bothered about this actor or the university or his decision to decline the offer?

It is time to bring in CHANGE. Time to educate the children and the youth, that hate benefits none.
India is the 6th largest importer of goods from Australia, contributing a masive A$ 9.28 billion to their economy in the year 2007 . (Source: Website of the Consulate General of India, Sydney, http://www.indianconsulatesydney.org/australian_trade_brief.htm)

Are people not aware of these figures or do they choose to ignore them? It certainly will not do Australians any good if Indians stop doing business with them... probably this is what they have to be made to realise and understand. Only then would they appreciate the so called 'minorities' :)

Till then, we Indians should beware of the lucrative foreign shores... and make sure that we don't fall 'victims' to the glint of being 'Foreign Returned' :)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

No pain.. No gain :)

All of us have fears.. be it the creepy crawlies, or heights.. With time we learn to live a normal life with them, carefully shoving them to a dark corner of our lives :)

But what if one of your biggest dreams involves facing your biggest fear?

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamt of being able to drive a car :) Ferraris and Mercedes :) The only problem being (apart from the fact that I didn own a Ferrari or a Marcedes :P) that I was scared -- scared of banging the car, hitting somebody else, or worse... killing someone (or myself !).

Somebody once told me, "Just as you are scared for your life, everybody else is too!! So concentrate on your car... everybody else would take care of themselves!!"

I have to agree... this did make sense :D

In a city like Chandigarh, if u cant drive.. u feel handicapped.. because the public transport is not as good as, say Delhi or Kolkata (!?!)... U just have to have a vehicle of your own.. whether a scooty or a car.

So then.. as the saying goes.. 'Neccessity is mother of all invention' :)

It is time to face my biggest fear... and at the same time fulfil my lifelong dream :)

Today was my first day behind the wheel... and I do not have the words to describe it... liberating, exhilarating, it was just wow !!!

It gives u as sense of independence.. and also a major high.. haha :D
Am I glad I chose to face my fear rather than run away from it :)
N N N N NA.. I'm Loving It :D

Saturday, March 28, 2009

For the politicians, Youth and YOU

Politics is a dirty place… and as a rule I stay miles away from it [ I believe that even reading about it might corrupt me :-) ]… but when politicians start (mis) using their power to play on the common man’s emotions and jeopardize the harmony of our country… I guess its time we – the youth of India, stand up, take notice and raise our voice!

The Nehru - Gandhi family treat the political arena as though its a family matter... but not even this can justify the nasty 'Hate speech' delivered by Varun Gandhi at Pilibhit recently. It is indeed strange that Mrs Maneka Gandhi, instead of apologizing, chose to hit out at the Congress for their Anti-Sikh Acts. And this blame game never stops -- Congress hits back with 'Godhra Riots', Ayodhya issue and Blah and Blah!!

I am ashamed that 'We' have elected such insensible 'kids' to represent us. I call them kids, because it is very kiddish of them to squabble over what happened in 1984, or 2002... and forget the present or even the future!! It is no wonder too, that they choose to fight only over religious issues... 'coz these would generate the maximum interest amongst the people and thus get them the maximum votes!

But what they forget is that this is not '47 or '84 or even '02. India has learnt its lessons --- the hard way. There is no place for religious fanatics in India now... no place for people who want to divide us. Pramod Muthalik being bombarded with ‘Pink Chaddis’ and then arrested and Shri Ram Sena being banned provides proof of this fact.

My family has suffered first hand due to communalism – both in ’47 and ’84. In 1947, my grandparents were forced to leave behind everything… their homeland (Rawalpindi) and flee – just because some people (Read Nehru and Jinnah) felt that India would be better off if Hindus and Muslims lived separately!! My grandparents consoled themselves by saying that they would be safer in ‘India’… or so they thought, till that fateful day in 1984 when thousands of Sikhs were massacred in their own country… Their only crime being that they were Sikhs!! That was a Black Day not only for the Sikhs but also for all of India… For Sikhs, it was 1947 revisited… the horrors and insecurities came rushing back. What made it worse, was that this time they were being treated as second citizens in their own country.

But… we have moved on. And so have scores of other people. What is important for us now, is the present and our future. What is important, is that there should not be another 1947 or ’84. What is important, is that no more innocent lives should be lost due to religious fanaticism. No more religious places should be demolished in the name of ‘God’. Its high time we all realise that God would never want to see his children fighting – and least of all over religion!!

The world would indeed be a better place if we all performed our duties to the best of our abilities – if the politicians focussed on governance and economic issues, rather than religious ones, if the police force made sure that criminals were punished and innocent people were protected. Let us pledge to work towards a peaceful and harmonious India, and ensure that India does not fall prey to communalism and remains Secular, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Nemesis of Maruti 800 ?

'Nano' is the new buzz word... I-phones and I-pods have taken a back seat... people have even stopped talking about politics and the impending elections!! Nano Mania has truly caught on and the Tatas seem to have hit a jackpot!! They have survived all odds including the tantrums of Mamata Di (Read Singur), shifting of the mother plant to Sanand and even the recession!!

It truly is a great step forward for the Indian auto industry... a revolutionary step, which may force all other car manufacturers to change the way they price their cars and rethink their strategy. However, the greatest threat by far is for the Maruti 800, which so far was the market leader in the small car segment. Over 2.5 million Maruti 800's have been sold since its launch in 1984 but the Nano may just end its dream run. Not only is the Tata Nano cheaper priced ( at Rs 1.3 for the base variant compared to Rs 1.8 lakh for the Maruti 800 ) , but it has a lot of other benefits over the 800 too. Most of us would have sat in a 800 some time in our life and would know how cramped its interiors are, but the Nano brings with it the promise of spacious interiors. The Tata Nano has an 8 percent smaller exterior size and a 23 percent larger interior space compared to an 800!! Now this has a another advantage -- that of finding parking space in todays jam-packed roads :-)

A few years earlier, a car buyer with a limited budget had almost no options except the Maruti 800... now he can choose. I've tried to draw up a comparison between the Nano and 800, based on the initial reviews coming in.


The first and the most important factor is of course the price without compromising on the quality. The on road price of a Nano is around Rs 1.3 lakh while a maruti 800 costs around 1.8 lakhs. They have acheived this amazing feat by sticking to just the basics ie: the base variant has has no radio, power windows or air conditioning albeit these are all available in the deluxe versions... the same is with maruti 800. The Deluxe version of Tata Nano costs around rs 1.72 lakhs while Maruti 800 offers the same at Rs 2.1 lakhs.

While still at the price factor, it is interesting to know about some of the methods used by the Tatas to cut costs:-

  • The Nano's boot does not open, instead the rear seats can be folded down to access the boot space.

  • It has a single windscreen wiper instead of the usual pair.

  • Some exterior parts of it are glued together, rather than welded.

  • It has no power steering, except in the Cx version.

  • It has 3 nuts on the wheels instead of the statutory 4 nuts.

By the looks of it, Maruti 800 would now have to change its pricing strategy to match up with that of Nano, else the evergreen 800 would soon lose its glory.


Here, I think the Nano beats the 800 hands down. The Nano has a snub-nosed look like the Zen Estillo Car and Matiz, which definitely looks more stylish than the outdated looks of an 800. Everywhere you look you see a 800, and its been that way for ages... plus Maruti hasn't changed the appearance of their car much... thus the modern, smooth looks of the Nano offers a refreshing change.


This is THE most important factor for some, the thing which makes a car a car!! The Nano comes with a 625 cc engine while the maruti 800 has a 796 cc engine… if you look at sheer capacity then the Maruti 800 seems a better choice. But, the ultimate measure of the actual performance of a car is its power to weight ratio. The highest power generated by a Nano is 33 BHP while that generated by Maruti 800 is 37 BHP. But due to the great difference in the weight of the two cars – a Nano weighs only 580 Kg compared to Maruti 800’s weight which is 660 Kg—their power to weight ratio works out to be nearly the same ( 0.057 for Tata Nano, and 0.056 for the Maruti). Thus, the feel of the Nano will be nearly the same as a Maruti!!

The Nano’s engine is, however, rear mounted and this comes with its own share of problems. According to experts, the Nano becomes very noisy at high speeds because noise insulation is not possible in a rear mounted engine. Also, as mentioned before, the rear is welded shut and cannot be opened, this means the engine bay which lies under the rear seats also can only be accessed from inside the car. This could be a little problematic.

Mileage and Fuel Efficiency

A Maruti 800 is known to give around 16.1 km/l while the Nano claims to give much more – around 20 km/l, this would lead to a 20% savings in fuel costs which is quite a considerable amount. Tata Nano managed to score around 24 km per litre during its ‘homologation’ tests with ARAI. This makes the Nano the most fuel efficient car in India. Also due to its lower power engine, the Nano’s engine consumes less petrol, and thus leads to greater fuel efficiency.

Some Miscellaneous points

Nano is a real Eco friendly car, which complies with Euro IV standards (while Maruti 800 meets up with only the Euro III norms). A lot of fear has been expressed over the fact that Nano would increase pollution significantly but a study done by a German newspaper indicated that Tata Nano has lower emissions compared to the average Volkswagen, and that developing countries shouldn't be denied the right to motorized mobility whereas industrialized countries should be looking to reduce their emissions and usage of cars.

Although the Nano may seem to be better than the Maruti 800 on almost all counts… but one must not forget that the 800 has proven its mettle as a safe, reliable, sturdy and a no nonsense dependable car. The Nano has a rear mounted engine, the safety of which has not yet been established.

My Verdict

At last the common man’s car has arrived – the Tatas have delivered their promise. A good all rounder at a cheap price. Nano is a great threat, not only for Maruti 800, but also to the two wheeler market and the second hand car market because now, at just Rs 1.3 lakhs, you can be the proud owner of a brand new car. No longer would one have to save for years in order to buy a car…
The Nano complies with all the emission standards and safety norms... in fact it surpasses them... it has a great advantage here that it already complies with Euro IV norms even though it comes into effect in India only in 2010. Thus, Nano is safe -- not only for the people driving it but also for the environment. So much safer than a scooty or a motorbike... so save a little more and buy a Nano!!

The future of safe and cheap travelling has arrived...

The Rating Agency CRISIL, has predicted that Nano's launch would expand the Indian car market by 65% and would push up car sales by 20%. This would be beneficial not only for the Tata's but also for India's economy, which seems to gone into a slump.

The biggest challenge ahead for the Tata's, is to maintain their price offering... but for now they have struck gold. Nearly everybody sees their dreams one step closer now and have a good reason to smile :-)

Auto drivers, Motor cycle drivers... all seem to be saving up for their very own Nano!! Ab Gaadi chalaana seekh lo India... Go get your licence today!

What about you? Would you buy a Nano? I certainly would :-)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In the memory of Frisky....

As far as I can remember, we have always had dogs in our house—and somehow one of them has always been black in color. Local kids used to point towards our house and say “Kalo kukur, kalo kukur”… which in Bengali means black dog! Having a dog around, made us feel safe… and also made us feel loved.

So far we have had 5 dogs – Taki I, Taki II, Taki III, (Yes, you guessed right-- We like giving our dogs unique names!!) Chotu and Frisky. Dogs normally reserve their loyalties for only one person – their master, but our Black and Tan Daschund, Frisky, was different. He was Everybody’s dog, and that is what made him unique. This is the story of a dog, who filled our house with love and happiness – and somehow though he is no more today, all that he stood for… still continues.

As a pup, he was no bigger than your palm.. now imagine this little mouse like looking thing running all over the house, with 6 people running behind him, scared that they might step on him and kill him!! That was his first day at home. He was a mischievous little imp, with boundless energy and thus he was christened ‘Frisky’. Over the next 13 years, he continued his funny ways but made sure that each day was filled with lots of smiles and happiness.

It was hilarious seeing him drink milk—his long ears inside the bowl, slowly you could see his black ears turning white-- and when he got too impatient licking the milk, he would put his paw in the bowl and spill all the milk.. somehow it gave him greater pleasure licking the milk off the floor or maybe he just loved seeing the exasperated looks on our faces!!

On his second day at home.. he decided it was time to venture out into the world and conquer it!! And so he barged into our neighbours house… barking his head off at their three year old Labrador (!)… and wait the best is yet to come… this teeny weeny daschund –with sheer courage and guts—scared the Lab outta his skin!! Once the two dogs had decided who was stronger, they became the best of friends. It was funny seeing a Labrador and a Daschund together – their difference in size didn’t seem to matter to them. Frisky went on to greater heights in life… befriending a Doberman and a Dalmatian!!

Frisky loved eating, and he hated wastage. His favourite as a pup was banana peels!! Thankfully he grew out of this liking and developed a more sophisticated taste-bud! Mangoes and Parshaad became his new favourite and also the bait used to give him any medicine when needed. No matter in which part of the house he was, if parshaad was being warmed… his nose would sound alarm bells and he would go ballistic. He could put Pavlov’s dog to shame with his salivation abilities!!

It was his love of eating that once got him terribly sick – so sick that we thought we would lose him. He loved eating ‘Ber’ which had fallen from the trees into our drain, and this was probably how he contracted the deadly ‘Parvo Virus’, when he was merely 6 months of age. All the Vets gave up on him… all except one. That one doctor seemed like Messiah to us – with his broad smile and reassuring voice and we knew that in his care, Frisky would be ok soon – and he was.

The above incident made us realise that we had come to love and adore Frisky in a span of just 6 months. That is Frisky for you – You could not help falling in love with him. One look at his soulful eyes could melt a hardened criminal – they were so full of love and brimming with expression!! But not everything about him was cute and nice… read on!!

One bright sunny day, Frisky decided we weren’t giving him enough food – so he went to the neighbour’s house in search of better tasting food. We didn’t know how much destruction a hungry dog could cause, till we saw it for ourselves… bread, eggs, biscuits strewn all over the place – the only good thing was that frisky seemed satisfied and happy after his meal although we couldn’t have a proper conversation with our neighbours for weeks without feeling embarrassed!!

And then there was the day that he drank 3 and half litres of milk!! Finding the milk vessel unguarded, which was by mistake left on a low lying table – Frisky had a field day. His small little tummy bloated up and we were so scared that it might burst… he couldn’t walk and slept for the whole day in the same place!! Although now we laugh at it... that day we were downright scared and also angry!!

But Frisky had a mind of his own… he always did exactly what he wanted to do… no matter what! When we got Frisky home… we decided that we would train him well and teach him all the commands. We bought books on dog training, read a lot BUT we failed and Frisky succeeded!! All he ever learnt was sit… he would give paw if threatened with a slap (or bribed with food!!) and if he was in an extremely good mood he would oblige us by responding to ‘Down’ too (Although I suspect that this was ‘coz he was to lazy to sit and was just too happy to lie down!!). Having failed miserably in teaching him the basics, we tried teaching him ‘Fetch’. But he was more interested in his version of ‘Fetch’ which did not include bringing the bone/ball back… instead he would sit down and chew at it happily!! Daschunds are generally stubborn by nature, and difficult to train… and that is what we would like to believe rather than accept the fact that we were pathetic trainers!!

Giving Frisky medicines was a nightmare for us. We devised many ways to camouflage the tablets… and thought we were clever but soon realised he was much cleverer than us. He would gobble up the rasgulla but spit out the tablet and then look at us as though mocking us and saying “Haha.. Better luck next time!!”.

Over the span of 13 years, we gave Frisky many names… Filly, Billy Boy (from the famous song Billy boy), Bluey, Mousey and Pitter Patter!! One may wonder how you can name your dog pitter patter, well this is how – Frisky had really long nails (and I mean REALLY long!)… so when he walked, his nails hit the floor and that sounded like ‘Pitter patter’ !! Simple, Isn’t it??
It was a real task cutting his nails… we had bought anaesthetic gel, doggie nail cutter and still we could never cut his nails… we were just so scared he would get hurt J
The only person who could cut his nails was my sister, who used to come home once in 2 years… and every time she came home from the US, the first thing we would tell her was “Please cut Frisky’s nails before leaving!!”

Like I said before, frisky was everybody’s dog… he took food only from mom, went for a walk only with my uncle, slept only with me, got his nails cut only by my sister… but he gave love to everyone. My dad used to hate dogs, but even he had to change his ways when frisky sat before him waiting to be petted.

Frisky was always there, to listen, to talk and to just be there. No body felt alone as long as Frisky was around. A day before my Grandmother died, frisky cried and cried – without any reason, as though signalling to the heavens to open their gates to let her in. He too understood the grief and shared it with us… as he always did.

But old age was catching up with him and slowly we all realised that one day we would have to bid this bundle of joy farewell. Frisky breathed his last on 6th march 2009, but his story doesn’t end here!!

In a city like Kolkata, where every third house has a dog, it is surprising that there is no proper place where a dog can be laid to rest with dignity. There is however, one organisation name ‘Karuna Kunj’ which has set up a shelter for dogs and cats some 30 kms aways from kolkata and these people also provide a burial ground for your loving pet (And God Bless them for this). Anyone who has ever lost a pet, would realise the importance of a proper resting place for their pet. Frisky too was laid to rest here, and the receipt that they give for their services is as follows… it confirmed my belief that Frisky would live forever J

My dearest Master,

I am lucky to have had a Master who loved me enough to see that I was laid to rest with dignity. The word "interweb" has become fashionable these days. There is, however, a Cosmic Interweb of Souls which cuts across the barriers of this world, and this is what brought me into your home & heart ; and this is what made you bring me to Karuna Kunj....

I lived to bring you joy, to get your love and give you all I had, in my own funny way. Now, I am gone and you live on. For the love I bore you, and for the love you have for me and for the interweb which binds all beings, I am making this parting plea

"Live for those who love you,
For those that think you true,
For the heaven that is above you,
And the hope that you have in view,
For the cause that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance,
And the good that you can do.

Your loving pet

Friday, March 6, 2009

-=-=-Inn0 Cent$ Lost-=-=-

As hostelites we are always on the look out for a restaurant where we can get junk food.. so imagine our delight when we found one where there was a jumbo combo offer with all the possible sins-- Burger with extra cheese, french fries and the all important Coke!!

While we where enjoying our meal two 3 year olds were running all around the cafe driving their parents mad. It was nice to see their endless energy and cherubic smiles. The cafe had a cake shop which had heavenly looking chocolate and pineapple pastries. The two kids soon had their noses stuck on the glass pane of the cake counter pestering their parents to buy some. Then I happened to hear something that seemed very jarring to my ears.. One of them came to her dad, held out her hand and said "Papa paise de do"!! I was shocked and very very sad. Sad that our consumerist society has become so blind that not even innocent children have been spared.

I thought of my childhood... when I was three. I did not even know what money was, forget asking for it. When I was five or so I started realizing that money was something important but also something that was my parents department. I knew that Lollipops, Five Stars, Ice creams and Barbie Dolls required money but I also knew that if i wanted one of the above, I wasn't supposed to ask for money. Life was so simple... you want a lollipop, you ask for a lollipop, and you would get a lollipop!! Not like now when we worry about our career, budget our cash flow, put chota refil in cell phone just to keep it going, wait to withdraw money from ATM till 10th so that we get some interest (which is negligible I may add!!).... our life now revolves around money... knowingly or unknowingly.

I feel so grateful to have had parents like mine... who made sure I had a "childhood"-- where my biggest worries were which flavour of ice cream to choose, making sure that my sister was not making a fool of me by giving me less chocolate and coke and devising new ways of getting rid of that ominous glass of milk.

So while my friends were busy arguing about who had the highest pocket money... I was rejoicing about the fact that I was given the freedom to be a child. I hope that the child who inspired this post, someday achieves the freedom and peace of mind that a child truly deserves.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NGO partnership in Indian Education Scene!!

India is the home of NGO’s which spawn due to the supply side response. We have people who feel strongly about something and are moved to do something for the community or the nation. This NGO proliferation was due to govt failure but this may be a perception considering the planning commission reports that propose to spend on public good. In fact why can’t governments work as efficiently as NGO’s: maybe because it’s a monopoly and somewhat indestructible. Attempts are being made in various places to achieve the inclusion of all children into the ambit of educational fold.

The myth of private school children faring better than public school children was challenged by Wilima Wadhwa in her study of such differences. It is summarized in Pratham’s latest report on the state of education- ASER2008. According to her, household characteristics- income, literacy (especially of the mother), a pucca house, electricity, telephone- explains most of the variation. Among all differentiating variables the presence of a secondary school in the village goes a long way in determining the performance of children in the primary schools. It may be because of the chances to get promoted to a secondary level of education in the village itself, which pushes the children and their parents to continue their faith in the education system. Among all else, ambition also matters when we look at the issue of inclusion of all the children into the education system’s fold. This ambition and the individual vision for each child have to be nurtured by this very education system and from a real young age.

We have people who feel strongly about something and are moved to do something for the community or the nation. This NGO proliferation was due to govt failure but this may be a perception considering the planning commission reports that propose to spend on public good. In fact why can’t governments work as efficiently as NGO’s: maybe because it’s a monopoly and somewhat indestructible.

One such initiative worth recounting is of Loreto School- Sealdah, where nearly 3500 children from 12 schools, are taught by the students in a unique programme christened Shikshajyoti, run on the ‘each-one-teach-one’ principle. The rewards are immeasurable for both the teacher and the taught, through its imaginative and interactive teaching methods involving storytelling and role-playing. Everybody feels equal in the school precincts and the school projects are not about charity or the proverbial rich giving to the poor. The whole project is not only to help educate the marginalized children through effective use of school’s resources, but also to inculcate a sense of values in the students of the school. The students of this school imbibe a set of values that no other school can impart.

Till 1979, when Sister Cyril Mooney took over as principal, Loreto was like any other convent school, with its students drawn from affluent middle class homes. But for Sister Cyril, who received a Padmashri Award last year, it wasn’t enough to be just a ‘good’ school. Today nearly half of the 1,400 odd students of the Loreto School pay no fees at all- because they just can’t afford it. The natural warmth and camaraderie among the students make it impossible to tell which of Loreto students come from poor families. The school has triumphantly redefined education as it not only imparts bookish knowledge to children but is actively involved in construction of old age homes, micro credit facilities for the mothers of Rainbow school pupils, runs free medical camps and a kitchen feeding 700 children daily. Today Loreto Sealdah’s students and their parents, its teachers and alumni, are all proud stake-holders in Sister Cyril’s vision- whose able leadership and willingness to work brought about a sea change in the surroundings.

The other success story is worth narrating is one of Naandi kitchens in Andhra Pradesh which provide round, square and oval meals as part of the mid-day meal scheme to pull in school children. Government schemes evoke so much cynicism that when you come across one that functions with clockwork precision, you feel a sense of disbelief. But the public-private partnership between the NGO, Naandi foundation and the Andhra Pradesh government is an invitation to suspend scepticism. The scheme is undoubtedly one of the best implemented mid-day meal programmes in the country. Each day some 150,000 children, in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, eat atleast one healthy, tasty and hygienically prepared meal every school day.

It is amazing to see what one wholesome meal a day can do to a child’s life. Enrolment in state run schools in the twin cities has gone up by 25 to 30 percent since the mid-day meal scheme began. Surprisingly, a large number of the newly enrolled are girls. There is 10 to 20 percent improvement in children’s health and malnutrition levels, too, have fallen similarly. Hearteningly, attendance rates in the schools, where absenteeism has been rampant, have gone up by 10 to 20 percent.

The one’s who feel the urge to fulfil their dream of lighting the lamp of knowledge in each child, go ahead without looking for any governmental support or await the passage of right compulsory education bill in the parliament. They believe in doing something about the condition of the underprivileged on their own rather than cursing the Government policies.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Say bbye to Bush...

I find 'Marketing' very interesting.. a constant battle to be better than the other.. a perfect example of 'Alls fair in love and War' and in case you didn't know -- business is WAR!!

Its all about keeping your eyes, ears and nose (!) open all the time.. 'coz you never know when the next great marketing opportunity may strike. Who would have thought that President Bush leaving office presents an amazing one?? The ad above was a timely ad taken out by 'Veet' a famous hair removal brand, in Australia. Perfect timing and perfect placement!!

Say bubbuye to Bush!!


A wonderful solution to escape the traffic problem of Kolkata.. teach people magic so that they can travel on brooms and whiz by the honking cars!! I am not day dreaming -- this might soon be a reality.. with P.C Sorcar (Jr) and his daughter planning to open a school for magic in Kolkata.

For as long as I can recollect, I've wanted to learn magic... I've always been fascinated by David Blaine, Houddini and the likes. As a kid I believed that magic was for real. But as i grew up... I realised that most of the tricks were mere illusions are sleight of hand. I've done extensive research on the net on card tricks etc, and it has made me respect magicians even more 'coz if they had some special power with the help of which they performed the tricks it was ok... but these tricks actually involve a lot of practice and hard work. These people are ordinary people who work very hard and who have mastered every trick in the book.

For ages if somebody wanted to learn magic, he had to do it all by himself. This is a very good initiative to pass on centuries old wisdom. The employment opportunities for good magicians is endless too... from having their own TV shows, to performing in private parties, to opening another school :) Magic is magic... it has a charm like nothing else and is sure to attract a lot of people.

Indrajaal, the ancestral house of the Sorcaars will be used as a university to offer two year and five year courses. The university will be equipped with lighting and special effect facilities which are said to be the backbone of magic. Sorcaar has not yet decided whether he would be seeking any assisstance from the Govt, but has assured the public that his plans would definitely be a reality by July of this year.

So would you enroll yourself here or not? I sure dont mind...

And anyway.. after the Satyam fiasco, lotsa people are saying that MBAs = Masters of Trickery so I might as well...

So lets get started... "Sir, how did you make the Taj Mahal vanish?"...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Aiyyo Da...

Disclaimer: These are my personal views and I do not wish to hurt anybodys emotions or sentiments.

I am a punjabi ( whose family is originally from Pakistan, and all relatives are in Punjab) and I stayed all my life in Kolkata (West Bengal). I studied in the best of schools and had classmates of all religions from all backgrounds. I've had Keralites, Andhrites, Tamilians, Bengalis all as friends and never had a problem communicating with them. In fact, at different points of time in life, I've had a Keralite, an Andhrite and a Tamilian as my 'Best Friend' (and am still in touch with most of them). So when I got admision into a reputed B-School, in the south (in the foothills of the annamalai hills) I couldn't have been more excited. Ettimadai or 'Planet-E' as it is known, is almost heaven on earth... seems like God himself (forgive the male usage!) came down to create the 'Elephant Hill', the beautiful trees, the exquisite flora and fauna. It is an absolute treat to the eyes to have a walk in our campus... and I can proudly say that it must be one the the most beautiful and well maintained campuses in India!!!
But there was a lot of ugliness beneath all this beauty. The first day itself, our class was divided on the basis of language. For me this was a side of South Indians I had never seen -- a Tamil gang, a Mallu gang, and a Telegu gang. Of course there were a few of us who didn't fit in anywhere... the north Indians, but who cared. I questioned my decision of joining this college and remember thinking on the first day itself that two years would go by in a jiffy -- hopefully!!
I remembered my earlier south Indian friends, and thought that probably it wouldn't be so difficult to mix around with these people either. But what I found out was to the contrary. They love talking in their mother tongue... irrespective of whether somebody else understands it or not. All they care about is their own so called 'gang'.
What is hilarious is that the Tamilians, Mallus and Andhrites do not mix amongst themselves either!! If a member of one group, spends too much time with a member of another group, he has commited a cardinal sin!! For me it was initially very difficult to figure out who was a Keralite, who was a Tamilian etc. I realised that people are get very offended when you get their background wrong and even more offended when you mistake somebody from a different state to be from their state!! Pride, Arrogance, Ego.. whatever it is... these people just dont mix.
Their language is another big problem. I already know four languages and when I came here I thought I would definitely pick up one more atleast. But that was not to be. First of all, I cannot distinguish between Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam. Secondly, (and this may sound rude) I feel that they dont talk but just make 'noise' (and the fact that they love to shout while talking, doesnt make it any better!!). I feel that there are no words.. I've tried very hard to listen to them.. sometimes I feel that the language is very crude and not refined... 'coz as an outsider you feel that they are abusing each other!! I wonder that when we speak in hindi... do we also make 'noise'? Or does it sound more refined? I just hope it is the latter.
South Indian food will need a separate post.. but it would suffice to say for now that people here are happy eating their dosha, idli, sambhar, rasam, puttu -- day after day. Simple people they are and I do agree to that.. Very helpful and always wearing a smile on their face. Before coming to this place, I thought I could live anywhere... after coming here that belief has strengthened!!

P.S: I have been lucky though, that I did find some very good friends here too.. both south Indians as well as North Indians. What binds us all is the fact that we are Indians.. and future managers... wishing all my batchmates all the very best!!

Doctors are Chors...

'Doctors are chors, I dont need one' screamed one of my friends, when i advised her to see a gynae. Although this wasn't the first time I had heard something like this, it still surprised me. This girl had some very obvious hormonal problems, and was refusing to go to a doc juss 'coz she believed all docs to be 'mean money making agents'!!
This gave me some wonderful insights into our Indian mentality ( or is prevalent all over the world?). We Indians feel that we need to go to a doc, only if it is ABSOLUTELY necessary (read 'on the death bed'!!). Not only that, we then feel that we are doing a favour to the docs by going to them!! How hilarious is that?? But yes, most of us do feel that way... that we are doing them a favour... giving them business.
And the funniest thing of all... some people feel that docs know nothing, what can they possibly diagnose that grandmas and centuries old wisdom cannot cure!! What we forget is that, a MBBS degree takes 6 years to complete.. and even then you are considered just a general practitioner. In order to specialize, they need to study atleast 5-6 years more. Thats around 12 years of study!! All other degrees take only 2-4 years for completion. Take an MBA as example... it takes just 2 years (if you include the undergraduation, then a total of 6). But you wont need to tudy more ever. The amount of arrrogance these two years generate in an MBA isnt hidden from anybody.
Yet we have the audacity to tell docs that they know nothing, to question their treatment, to stop medication midway because we feel like!!
I agree that there may be some doctors who charge exorbitantly high fees and loot the patients... here is where you have to take your decisions... which doctors to go to, whether to go for a second opinion or not, what tests are absolutely necessary, which diagnostic centres provide value for money etc. Simply saying 'I wont go to a doc', is taking the easy way out, and the only person harmed is YOU... 'coz doctors have enough business without you anyway!!

P.S: I am not a doc... In fact I am a soon to be MBA ( and an arrogant one at that!!)