Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Social Net – Is it really working?

My article published in Bethlehem Matrimonial Magazine - December 2012 Edition

My grandfather is one who has seen Earth completing its journey around the Sun, 99 times! Believe me or not he still has not got tired of that sight. I was fortunate enough to have heard numerous stories from his century old experience on this tiny planet in this Universe. Among these I distinctly remember the one he shared with me about how his wedding got fixed.

Those were the times when the opinion of prospective bride and groom didn’t count much in decisions pertaining to marriage. It was the elders of the family who decided for you, the most important aspect of your life! This could sound strange for the current generation; then again we’re talking about the world in early 1900s.

Grandpa recalled having told by one of his maternal uncles, one fine day, that they have made a plan for him to meet a girl and asked him to get ready. Everything happened in a jiffy and the next thing he remembers is being seated at the home where somewhere inside there was this young lady who was destined to become my grandmother someday in future.

All that my grandfather could get was a quick glance of the bride-to-be, merged with the shadow of the door that was half open. A true life story of marriages being made in heaven and the lesser mortals down on Earth left with no clue about how it happened!

Let us fast forward to the year which will mark the Diamond Jubilee of this very special day for my grandparents. It will be an understatement to say, a lot has changed since then, to the scene of wedding fixing. We now speak of the world where babies in the womb having user profiles on the latest social media who tweets their arrival to the world and plans for a global get together of all the babies born on the same day and same time through the multitude of apps available on the latest smart phones!

The good old parents can’t even imagine the ways with which their children communicate today. The fact is many do not even know technology exists that can break all the traditional barriers of getting to know each other. There are a hundred different ways for today’s brides and grooms to-be, to know the detailed history and even predict how marriage-worthy will a girl or boy is even before you suggest to your child about meeting one.

Proposals still flow through matrimonial sites among other channels and by the time an alliance is thought about by the parents, the girl or boy would’ve got to know each other in the virtual world. Since the world of networking co-exist with people sharing similar psyche it is no longer a surprise that either of them will have a bunch of mutual friends which makes it much easier to get more information.

Friendship circle further extends and the poor parents will be in for a shocker of their life when they ‘liberally’ decide to get the mobile number of the prospective bride or groom for their kid! These modern day wonders would’ve already planned their post retirement getaway on the golden beaches of Tahiti along with their circle of friends and their future partners. What leaves the yester years’ generation more perplexed is the swiftness by which their sons and daughters get all these done!

I admit that some of what has been said above could be a bit exaggerated; nevertheless we need to believe that this is no fantasy. The world has changed and so has the younger generation. Both the parents and their children need to realize the impact of social networking on each other. As exciting as it could get for you to know about your prospective future partner through these options, it is equally important that you appreciate the insights shared by your parents and siblings. Every adult has an amount of reasoning granted by your Creator which should be put to the best use before you take vital decisions in life.

May you be able to appreciate the power of both your family as well as social networking and may the good God help you strike a balance between emotions and reasoning.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tea Time

It is a very interesting sight indeed to watch a whirlpool getting formed in the sauce pan when you boil tea with milk along with shreds of cardamom. The aroma of boiling tea seasoned with the best of breed cardamom from the winding ghats of Wayanad brought back a hoard of memories during tea time at various stages of life.

I remember reaching home after school around four o’ clock in the evening where a hot cup of milk mixed with the likes of Complan, Bournvita or Horlicks awaited me. There was hardly a day when this delicious cup of milk was not accompanied by any of the traditional tea time snacks from God’s Own Country. I was so excited when we got a free cup along with a one kilogram pack of Complan. I recollect the writing on the cup with Complan written in red color. That was meant to be my favorite cup for years to come.

Time flew by and I graduated from shorts to pants and so did the evening snacks. If frequent visitor programs existed at that time of history for retail outlets, I would’ve definitely been at least a gold member with the local bakery. The options you could get were minimal compared to these days though I distinctly remember having a huge craving for delicacies like butter buns, sweet nans, puffs and similar such stuff. The budget available of course was very minimal that you could hardly have one or two of these and that too occasionally. Probably that’s why these were precious and tasted heavenly!

Stepped into the campus mode where college canteens and other similar hangouts became a part of life. Tea time with family was becoming a rarity with this change. Nevertheless in that age and psyche it never posed any kind of regrets. That was the order of the day. Soon it was time to leave the town I was part of for 20 odd years and migrated to a totally alien city, the Manchester of South India - Coimbatore.

The steel tumblers of the college hostel welcomed us with options for coffee and tea with unlimited supply. We had formed a core group of friends and soon realized that the tea shops at the backyard of college campus hold much better goodies than the liberally liquidated tea or coffee which the hostel mess could offer. There I discovered to my amusement a wonder called half-tea! The hot samosas, chewy mushroom Manchurians and the little wonder served in the tiniest glasses called half-tea filled our evening discussions. The random flights that take off from the Coimbatore airport in the backdrop gave the whole evening a dramatic experience.

The garden city of India was my next destination. Bangalore redefines your way of life. My days there started with some learning at NIIT when I was staying along with my dearest cousin sister at our aunt’s place. Needless to say most of the tea time was back at home and I was happy to reclaim the days with family during evenings.

This was followed by a stint of project work at a small IT firm, one of the multitudes of technology companies in Bangalore, which if laid down on a map will give competition to the herds of wild beasts treading the Sub-Saharan terrain. I had moved to single room occupancy and the nearest tea shop became my usual place for evenings.

My career got officially kicked off shortly and the distance to office meant that I reach back home only for dinner. The catering company operating the office cafeteria was destined to get the tea bills paid by me for the next few years. Colleagues and friends were the tea-mates during this part of my life. The cups of tea witnessed the debates surrounding why that was a great place to work and why that wasn’t.

Seasons changed fifteen times and I was slated to take my first ever international flight as part of an assignment. Residence Inn, a property by Marriott was to be my abode for the next quarter. Here happened the biggest change in my tea time life. Marriott offered good options for tea and coffee. But it wasn’t that which attracted us the lesser mortals, from the land where you get to drink this only by paying a handsome amount. Beer! It was flowing and plenty that too! Tea time gave way to the sparkling yellow chilled drink and that was promptly supported with chips and hotdogs.

Few months down the line life took a full turn with marriage on cards and tea time resurrected with the concept of family taking center stage. The flavors of tea and coffee filled the home since the preferences were different. A middle line was drawn during this stage as depicted in an earlier post. Believe there is a direct proportion to the grey hair and the grey matter. As every other couple we also evolved. The middle line was not required any more. The tea time was unified again.

The land where ‘1001 Arabian Nights’ was born, laid down the magic carpet for us. Evenings in Dubai became even better with office hours finishing early, giving us ample time to be together and tea time has become even more fun. With the kid growing up it has turned into a full-fledged game of acrobatic-tea where you try your best to have a sip from the cup by skillfully avoiding the little fingers holding it and dragging it towards him.

I think it is all about life. Tea time.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Do you touch wood?

Ever since I started to converse with people around me, there has been one phrase that I used to hear from many of them. It was natural to have conversations about someone related to you or some material possession you have. Good natured comments about these people or things will obviously find its place in between these chit chat.

I’ve observed with a strange phenomenon that each time a complimenting word is spoken about the subject in discussion it will be promptly followed by a frantic search for an article made out of wood so that they could touch it and say the magical phrase ‘touch wood’!

Recently I did some research and Wikipedia gave me some facts about this act. The practice comes from the Greek tradition in western folklore of literally touching/knocking on wood, or merely stating that you are doing or intend same, in order to avoid ‘tempting fate’ after making a favorable observation, a boast, or declaration concerning one's own death.

The bigger question that remains is how this tradition is an oxymoron in view of religious beliefs. Most of us belong to one or other religion that exists in this world. For all those who do not belong to any religion or do not practice a specific religion, this tradition could be an acceptable norm. For the rest of the humankind isn’t this practice anything but a sheer blasphemy?

Almost all religions teach to believe in the existence of a super natural power which guides the world and the events around us. Some people call that God and we have innumerable names given to the concept of ‘God’ across these religions. All these Gods have taught people to believe in them to have a good life. I’m sure no one prays to get a horrible life.

It has a historical aspect that people have been following rituals like these to ward off evil from casting its shadows on their lives. It is fascinating to see people being made to think that a natural grown piece of wood has celestial capabilities to do away with the unnatural being supposedly existing in this world awaiting its turn to strike on those who do not touch wood!

Being an ardent believer or not, there are situations that lead some people to start thinking in these lines. This is especially true when it comes to the little ones at home. Your baby could be all well, kicking and alive making your life one of the most envious to all those who are not that abundantly blessed. One fine day this relative or friend of yours come home, looks at your child and exclaims, “Look at her; she is such a cutie pie. I’m sure this little angel can never give you any trouble whatsoever”.

Soon after the person leaves all the while appreciating your hospitality, the little angel somehow turns into the most violent monster you’ve ever faced! The baby who was sleeping peacefully till that day refuses to sleep, develops some sort of uneasiness, does not take any food given including the forbidden sweets and totally becomes a moron with not even a shade of the angelic tranquility that was attributed a few moments earlier!

It takes all the effort in the world for you to bring back the cutie pie and you almost thought your life is back on track. There comes another friend who will have something similar to say as the previous one and life takes a full circle again.

You become paranoid to such an extent that you start believing in the apotropaic tradition and your hand will be auto programmed to reach a wood as soon as you hear or say something good about your baby!

The irony of life can go to such depths that God himself may start growing a forest to enable people to knock the wood. The heights of such an incident was when the other day a couple was seen reaching out to a blessed wooden rosary when something nice was spoken about their kid, since they could not find anything else made of wood and exclaimed to their heart’s content - touch wood!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It is not ‘cos of me...

I woke up in the morning having the same thought as every other day. I’m sure mom will be happy that I remembered God after I woke up. But what she’ll never get to know was that her son wasn’t thanking God, instead mumbling, “Oh God! Another day in office”! Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that I am awake and alive to see all the beautiful things God has kept in store for me...

I look at my side and see my wife and my little baby either sleeping away to glory or crying out loud as if the sky is going to fall on him. I say the usual good morning to my beloved and kiss the child trying not to wake him up lest he’ll start his earth shattering cry which will derail all my plans for the day. Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that I’ve two of the most beautiful creations by God right beside me and being loved by them which gifts me the all important feeling of being wanted by someone in this world...

I lie on my bed facing the roof of the bedroom in our well furnished apartment concerned about the possible increase in the rent a few months down the line. A bunch of calculations run through my mind on how to plan for the extra money or manage the hassle of shifting the place yet another time! Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that I have a roof above my head to where He had sent the guardian angels to protect me and my family...

I get ready in a jiffy trying to make up for the lost time while I was making up my mind to apply for a leave or not for the day. I part the curtains to take a look at the queuing cars on the road opposite from my balcony and curse the traffic that builds up right from the morning. Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that I have a job in hand and a car to travel in...

I hit the roads of this Arab nation with its numerous signals and the beeline of vehicles to finally end up at office praying hard to get an empty parking all the while listening to the RJs trying to lift my spirit in the morning. Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that there was no accident en route and I had enough money to buy a parking card...

I face the usual music in office from my manager about deliverables and deadlines. Knowing the importance of these I still get myself lost among the news and views of people from across the world for a good majority of things which does not even remotely concern me. Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that I have been given a tremendous opportunity to learn something new and an equally competent person to guide me to achieve my goals...

I open my flask with the fruit oats I made in the morning and dunk it along with all my vengeance to the world. The almonds, walnuts and raisins tickle my taste buds to eventually end up deep down in my bowels. I have my breakfast in the most mechanical way while skimming through the papers carrying scores of horrible news for the day. Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that I have something to eat and more importantly I can eat...

I look at my watch trying to scare the needles to run faster so that I can escape myself from the laborious hills of never ending tasks. Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that these same tasks given to me are the ones that metamorphose into a good looking number at the end of the month that brings a smile to my face and help realise my dreams...

All of these and a hundred more other complaints that I raise with each passing day build itself a complex logic in my mind about how difficult life is. Rarely do I remember, it is not ‘cos of me that the countless worries in the past have been taken care by Him and is no more a matter of concern the way it was when they all started...

I look upon Thee with tearful eyes for being selectively ignorant of the blessings I receive every day. I do remember now my Lord that You have placed me in Your palm and that alone takes away all my concerns! I thank Thee for this life!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Disliking Like!

I remember Peter, a friend of mine ridiculing me big time when I finally joined Facebook after quite a long resistance to join the bandwagon. I’d been blindly loyal to Orkut and was totally not ready to accept the fact that the world was migrating to FB! Nevertheless, it had to happen and I was pretty happy when it did.

Facebook turned out to be much better in terms of usability and features and not long after I moved to FB I had to relocate physically to Middle East where Orkut anyways was banned. Status updates, photo uploads and a bunch of activities followed. Among all these there is one specific feature I find totally disturbing! The ‘Like’ feature of FB.

I’ve to admit I had been a user of this feature to express my interest for some of the pictures or videos posted by friends or otherwise. I’ve been receiving a few ‘likes’ as well for the photos or status messages I post once a while. I do remember a few months back when I first told my sweetheart I wish there was an option to disable the ‘like’ feature in FB. It was beginning to annoy me since every time I upload a picture or post a message there was a flurry of activity in my account. 9/10 of these will be a ‘like’ by someone among my contacts.

The futility of this activity is what makes me think what exactly is the point? I really wonder if the person who ‘likes’ something really mean it. If they do, why not spent an extra few seconds and say that instead of being a lethargic victim to the technology marathon?! It seems to me more like a routine job being done rather than expressing an earnest opinion.

There have also been instances when the pop ups for ‘like’ gets hurled at you as if it was your mistake to post that status or upload that picture! It felt more like being fired at by a machine gun. I even wonder if these people have devised some sort of an algorithm to generate the likes as soon as an activity appears!

Maybe I’m old fashioned, maybe this is what I am, but I love it when people make an effort to tell you what they liked about something, rather than finish the job because you’ve an option there to do so by the slightest movement of the cursor!

Bottom Line: Communicate; do not constrain!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Living Legacy

Year 2003. The global software industry showed signs of post recession awakening after the dreadful World Trade Centre attack and the subsequent impact on the outsourcing businesses in general. We were stepping into our final year of Computer Application Masters course. The decisive year when we need to find a placement for ourselves so that we can contribute to the numerous bunch of brains that make this industry work.

This was the same year we had to do a project for couple of months at any of the IT companies and submit a report at the college. The need was to work on a live project so as to maximize our experience with the wonderful world of programming! I for one was not very keen from the beginning since I had strongly convinced my mind that programming is not my cup of tea. Nevertheless certain inevitabilities of life can’t be postponed forever!

The good thing about getting a project at Webstorm IT, a small time software development firm in Bangalore, was the comfortable work atmosphere offered. Add to this the fact that I’d my dearest cousin sister along with me made things all the more interesting. We were joined by three more souls in this journey towards finding our destiny!

Rajitha, the simple to the core but something much more girl, from the cultural capital of Kerala, Thrissur, was the other feminine presence among the group. The spoken words were far and few initially but she proved to be a chatter box down the line. There were many more surprises in store about her which we all discovered together.

Dennis, was nothing like a menace for sure! A harmless character but mostly lost in his wonderland perhaps planning for how to provide the algorithms a fitting place to be and flourish. He had a pair of legs that were destined to be pulled to the maximum during the days ahead.

Tina, my sweet sister was a true embodiment of free spirit. I adored her trademark bubbly attitude and the genuine care she showered on me which could well be scooped out and showcased as to how a sister should be!

Jomy, the mighty one! If there is one word which can describe him, nothing other than this suits better: Life! That’s what he was. Full of life all the while. Having lived his life as a cross country race he was the best spoken and the biggest brat, both at the same time. Little did we know that by the end of the project he’ll turn out to be the one who will be the closest to our hearts.

Jomy was the brightest among the whole bunch who had an appetite for making things work. Be it the syntax of the programs he coded or the weekend outing plans he arranged, he had it in him. A natural organizer and a tactful leader. He was born to win. Many a times I’ve stood at awe at his ability to handle a situation. His charisma definitely had a lot to do with making people listen to him. He being a natural charmer, there was no two ways about his ability to make the fairer sex attracted to him. I could only watch him with an impatient jealousy and keep reminding me that life’s not always fair...

He had this peculiar habit of munching something while programming. We being the lesser mortals who kept getting lost in the maze of the ‘ifs’ and ‘elses’ of the weird world of coding had only one sensible thing to do. Ensure the supply chain of goodies never got choked. The programming genius in him was kept awake with the constant flow of snacks delivered at his desk.

During one of these days we got to know about the culinary expertise of the lady from Thrissur. The most natural thing followed. Jomy officially appointed her as the Master Chef of our project! While he cracked his brains to bring the binary numbers under his spell, she did the same with the spices and masalas of the world. She proved herself to be an excellent cook and the realization of the fact that we’ve a full time chef with us made us really happy, especially Jomy who was a connoisseur of excellence!

Time flew by and we all parted ways as life had to move on. We all presented the fruits of our labour to our respective colleges and completed the Post Graduation in flying colours. While I pursued my next Masters in Management, Jomy got an offer at Webstorm itself which he accepted and Dennis started with another firm. Tina got married in between and flew to the States. So did Rajitha a few months later, the wedding which Jomy and I attended and relived our memories of the good old days.

Being in Bangalore helped us being in touch though as years went by the frequency came down. We did make occasional phone calls and once a while met as well. I got busy with my further studies and the job that followed. After a few years I got married too. Priorities changed and people who used to be in the frequent contacts list got replaced with other names.

As was decided by the good God, I was meant to get the shocker of my life one day while preparing for our dinner at Dubai where to which I’d moved along with my family! Tina forwarded me a mail from Rajitha saying Jomy was admitted in Vellore hospital for cancer treatment and was in the secondary stage! A whole lot of pictures flashed by in my mind and the next thing I knew was tears rolling down my cheeks and I cried my heart out on my beloved’s shoulders. I couldn’t accept the fact that, the guy I knew as the one who loved to live life to the fullest is now battling for that. I prayed to God not to call him back so soon. He had not even started his life to say the least.

A month of prayers and thoughts passed by and another phone call from Tina made me realize that how much ever you plan, His will, will be done! He may not be seen anymore, but I feel his presence everyday when I see people complain about little things. My mind speaks to me that I once knew a guy who will fold his hands and face the issues with a steely determination that will melt away even the most gruesome of challenges that ever came up!

Your legacy lives on my dear friend...

Political Signs

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