Archive for September, 2009

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It’s all a part of the game…

September 26, 2009

“Take a defeat like how you take a victory – sports teach you that important quality”

“Be a sport” is what everyone tells him, when he sits down to watch a cricket match. People know how much he wants his team to win. He gets elated when his team wins, and he is devastated when they lose. People say, “It’s after all a match” – but for him, it was much more than that. He used to wait for days when some important match is scheduled, and he keeps calculating the plus and minus points of the players of both the teams. He discusses for hours with his friends on why a certain player ought to be selected and why someone else shouldn’t have been selected.  He knows exactly who is in form, and who is better suited for bowling/batting against particular teams at home/abroad both due to instinct and his memory of the statistics of recently concluded matches. In fact, he even keeps track of the county team match results, where some members of his team have participated and even the domestic circuit matches. He was almost an unpaid selector, and he dreamt that some day he might become the selector of his national cricket team. Such was his passion for the game.

 

He never prays to God, except before important matches. All his atheism is forgotten during the mornings of the important matches as he just cannot leave anything that might even remotely help his team to win. He always felt that his feelings and prayers were important for his team to win. He was also sentimental – If he sat in a particular chair and his team wins, he sits on the same chair till they lose some match. Then he tries a different strategy. He has sometimes even consulted the road side astrologer with an all knowing parrot, to take a favourable card indicating victory for his team – if the parrot takes a different card, he again tries the next day, till the right card is taken! He cannot stop watching a match even before the day of an important examination, if his team is playing.

During the match, he becomes even more tensed. He has even consulted probability theorems taught during his maths class to judge how many times there is a probability of getting heads or tails according to the conditions of the ground and the force with which the umpire throws the coin. He knows, more than the captain, how important it is to win the toss! He fumes with anger sometimes when his team decides to field first, as according to him they should have batted first. He gives countless reasons for that to anyone who cares to ask him why. All his reasons were technically sound and backed with statistics and his favourite instinct. After all, he leaves nothing to chance and he follows every inch of the game.

Normally a quiet personality, he doesn’t realize that during the matches, he shouts enough for the whole apartment block to hear his expert commentary and his jubilation! It’s a riot when his favourite left-handed batsman hits boundaries continuously and he jumps when a sixer is hit – he loses himself in such moments and doesn’t realize how his emotions are being expressed just inches away from the TV. After all, why should he be so important to himself, when his all-important team is playing!

He is inconsolable after a loss! He has even broken a few glass tumblers after a defeat! He then resigns to his room, suffers alone and is grim-faced for the next couple of days. People have taken that opportunity to tease him, as he is unable to tease them back during those days, unlike normal days. It takes a couple of days for him to do even the post match analysis as he is overtaken by too much grief till then. He has even written a couple of poems during those times, in an attempt to make his heart lighter! He slowly recovers and then gets back to the business of analysing his team.

It was said that cricket was a religion in his country, and he could easily associate himself to that statement. He was sure that there were many more people like him at every corner of the nation. Cricket was every thing to him – happiness, grief, elation, misery, mystery, passion, success, failure and in short – Life.

Till one day when the headlines in the News channels ran, “Match Fixing scandal unearthed. Players fix matches beforehand for money”

He just couldn’t understand the concept. Why would the players agree to fixing? For money? They must already be earning so much through the ads and commercial endorsements… Why would they have to do something like this to earn? There were a billion people who were supporting them, no matter what and this is what their team gives them in return? How can other people take it so lightly? Why was he affected so much? A million questions ran in his mind and he was never himself after that.

“Hey, there is an important match today and you are here reading novels? What’s going on with you? Aren’t you coming down to watch it?” his friends asked him. He replied, “Actually exams are coming within a month, and I will read the novel only for an hour or so, after that I have to prepare for the exams da. You guys watch the match and tell me the result, ok?” His friends were stunned, but he was happy reading the novel. At least in the novel, they mentioned that it was fiction at the beginning itself!”

What the sport couldn’t teach him, the match fixing episode single handedly did. As they say, it’s all a part of the game called Life….

Destination Infinity

You could visit the ‘Short Stories(Fiction)’ section of this blog to read more such stories.

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Chennai and Bangalore

September 17, 2009

This is not a tourist guide about either of the places. This is just a generic comparison of the two places to live in, and my personal impressions as I have lived in both the places. I was born and brought up in Chennai and am living in Bangalore for the last 1 year and 9 months.

Bangalore is cosmopolitan and multi-lingual. At a glance, you can see people from all over India. You can easily communicate in any one of the five languages – Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu or Kannada. Chennai is metropolitan and bi-lingual – Tamil and Tamil (Ok, English 🙂 ) and even though a sizeable population of Telugu and North Indians live in Chennai, every one speaks fluent Tamil.

People of Bangalore love plants, greenery and gardens. They have one park every 500 meters. The public parks are maintained very well and they are so green. And a lot of people love to walk in the parks in the early morning (except me, of course). There is a flower show in Lalbagh at least twice a year.  Most of the houses have nice gardens or at least some small plants in pots. In short, they are garden conscious. People of Chennai love music. And of course, movies. The music part is ingrained in the culture and the genes. And the people are good rasikas – they appreciate quality music. Carnatic music has flourished here like no where and the whole month of December is reserved for music festivals in various musical sabhas. If the traditional music has flourished in closed confines, the popular mass music (normally in the form of movie songs), is even better. This city has time and again produced some of the best music directors and songs.

Bangalore, probably has the best climate that you could ask for in a city. Coming from Chennai, initially I didn’t switch on the fan even during summers! The lazy cold mornings of Bangalore are the best – especially when you go late to the office and your boss comes half an hour later than you! December can get too cold, but its just one month. Chennai, is blazing hot for at least 9 months in a year. And due to its proximity to the sea, the humidity factor is also high and hence even the nights are warm. People in Chennai may not realize this but the heat is a blessing in disguise. Especially the practices followed to beat the heat – right from the food, to the recreational activities, clothing, habits, games and almost everything else. The culture of a place is influenced partly by the climate, and in the case of Chennai, it is a boon which they cannot see from within.

Talk about the one-ways of Bangalore! It is quite difficult to learn the directions of this city and most of the roads take a curvy path. You cannot have a sense of direction (NSEW), which is quite easy to associate in the case of Chennai where the roads intersect at 90 degerees, mostly. The auto drivers, bus drivers and the traffic police are much more polite in Bangalore. You cannot see an auto driver charging over the meter very often (it does happen, though). Chennai has a busy and very useful electric train network and MRTS train network which cover a couple of important routes. Partly due to this, the traffic management on the road is better, but both the cities are hopeless when it comes to peak hour traffic. And the planned Metro rail network would be very useful in both the cities, if the work is implemented faster.

The work culture is better in Bangalore, perhaps due to the influence of the MNC IT companies. The timing is not strictly followed (as long as the work is done) and the bosses are not too bossy. Chennai has a more traditional type of work culture. But this may vary in particular industries. If all the major IT companies have their presence in the software industry of Bangalore, most of the major automobile and mobile manufacturing companies have created a good hardware eco-system in and around Chennai. IT/ITES companies are present too, but not the variety that Bangalore sports. Entertainment in Bangalore is restricted to the malls and pubs. Chennai has two beaches and a whole ECR (East Coast Road) with a variety of theme parks for entertainment. The movie releases of major actors like Rajnikanth are celebrated like festivals!

The cost of living is slightly higher in Bangalore. The cost of food/ house rent is quite high, when compared to Chennai. But it depends more on which part of the cities you stay in. North Indian dishes are better in Bagalore but South Indian dishes are better in Chennai. I miss all that puliodharai with medhu vadai, lemon rice with sambar, masal vadai with Tea etc. But once you are used to the cusines of a particular place, it is generally harder to adjust to new ones – it seems! So, I am trying to cook more now. I have been trying it for the last one year, actually 😛

My verdict: To hell with the bigger Tier-I cities 🙂 I am planning to move to CBE – Coimbatore as soon as possible (as soon as I get a job there, that is). Will keep you people updated.

 

Destination Infinity

You could visit the ‘People Places and Culture’ section of this blog to read more such articles.

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The Message of ‘After 5 Years’

September 10, 2009
If you have not read the short story ‘After 5 Years’, please click on the link, read it (It takes only 2 minutes) and then come to this analysis.

 

While I thank the readers for coming up with many valid interpretations to that story, the message I wanted to convey was not simple. I am an expert in complicating simple things 🙂

Imagine this situation: You go to a restaurant, you have a buffet lunch. You have eaten to your stomach full and had desserts too… When you want to leave, the waiter comes with a lemon juice. You don’t want to miss it (as you have paid a good amount for the buffet) and somehow manage to drink it fully. Here, the act of drinking the lemon juice, which normally would have a positive feel about it, became negative (or at best neutral) because you have just eaten a lot of other tasty stuff.

Now imagine this situation: You have not taken you lunch (maybe because of the work), then you need to walk down for half an hour in hot sun to reach your favourite restaurant, and find out that you are late and they have closed the lunch section. There is nothing there in the surroundings to eat/drink. You are so tired and start thinking how tough it is going to be to walk to the next eat-out joint, which would take another half an hour of walking in the hot sun. Now the waiter comes and offers you a lemon juice, as you might be a regular customer for them. How happy would you feel! in this situation. You might even give him a nice tip for a very simple gesture!! (Even if he charges you for the lemon juice) as he is serving you something that is very much needed by you at that moment.

So, have you noticed how the same lemon juice has evoked such mixed reactions! Your mixed reaction is entirely based on your situation just prior to the incident (of receiving the lemon juice). So, in a sense, your happiness of enjoying the lemon juice depends on how much you are deprived of it.

In our story, in the first case, the person was just casually chatting (perhaps with a friend) and might have been young enough (though there is no such explicit mention in the story) not to be exposed to the hardships of life. So, the extra 20 rupees charged to him looks like big cheating to him. (Let us not get in to whether the charging of 20 rupees extra by the auto driver was right or wrong – it is clearly wrong and I am not supporting that, and the focus of the story was not that point).

But in the second case, the person is perhaps running a business and is introduced to the perils of making money in the big competitive world. When people are suddenly subjected to such situations (after having been pampered endlessly in their homes, etc), they tend to react in two ways: One set think that all the world cares is about bad things only and everyone in this world are bad and hence becoming bad like them is our only best defence or means to growth. Another set think that what a lot of people are doing is wrong and we should try and be different and set a positive example, inspite of the hassles involved. I am not getting in to which is better as both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Without deviating much from the story, in the second case the person is simply introduced to bigger perils of life and hence the overcharging of 20 rupees doesn’t look that big a sin to him any more (This, was suggested by the readers too). But the core message that I wanted to convey is : Nature gives us trouble to understand the value of goodness. Good and Bad just cannot exist individually. You need one to understand/realize the other. That is why the “They lived happily ever after” concept propagated by the movies/novels is totally false. If you are always happy, you would forget what happiness feels like and the happiness in itself would become a profound state of sadness.

The argument against this would be: “What if I have happiness always and I keep increasing the happiness at every stage of my life. Then, it would be a total bliss – right?” Think about it and you answer that question (to yourself).

Destination Infinity

“Cut your own wood and it will warm you twice” – Ancient Chinese proverb.

You could visit the ‘Concepts and Ideas’ section of this blog for reading more such articles.

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After 5 years

September 6, 2009

“Yeah, tell me… Oh… I am going in an auto… that’s why its noisy. Yeah… One minute… I ll pay him and be back”

How much?
Sir, 90 Rupees.
What? It shows only 70 rupees in the meter.
Sir, we take 20 rupees extra for leaving people outside city limits.
Who told you this is outside city limits? Are you trying to cheat me?
Sir, It is.
Who decides that? You follow your own map is it?
Sir, everyone pays.
Is there a rule like that? You cannot over charge like this. I will complain to police.
Sir, Let us go to police station if you want.
You people are hopeless. Here have it. And know one thing, cheated money doesn’t remain with you for long.

“Yeah. No, he was over charging, that’s why I was arguing with him… It’s not about the 20 rupees, but he should not cheat… Yeah…”

After 5 years:

Yeah, tell me… Oh… I am going in an auto, that’s why its noisy. What? We lost the catering contract? That is our existing customer… But, how can they just decide on price… They didn’t even give us a second chance… The price we quoted first time could have been higher, but… The competition under cut our prices?… But generally the competition quotes in that range only no?… What, they got inside information about the price we had quoted?… Our own employee tipped them off??… How did you find out?… That was one of our profitable customers… Is there any other chance?… My God!”

How much?
Sir, 90 Rupees.
What? It shows only 70 rupees in the meter.
Sir, we take 20 rupees extra for leaving people outside city limits.
That 20 Rupees will make you happy? Here take 100 rupees, and keep the change.

“Yeah. No, he was over charging… Yeah, I gave him ten rupees more than what he wanted… Why? At least, let him be happy”

Destination Infinity

You can visit the ‘Short Stories (Fiction)’ section of this blog for similar stories.