Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Honest Bribe

In the book Shantaram, there was a moment when comparing India with rest of the world, the character Didier told the protagonist about the way bribes in India work. One line stuck to my mind:

There is a difference between the dishonest bribe and the honest bribe. The dishonest bribe is the same in every country, but the honest bribe is India's alone. - Didier Levy
Since I have never left India, I have no idea about the way things work outside. But I saw a movie today, and a scene in that movie very clearly depicted what Didier must have meant when he said what he said.

The movie is Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
It was  the last (almost last?) scene, when people from both India and Pakistan were standing on the border. The policemen who were earlier torturing Bajrangi to confess being a spy were trying to convince the soldiers to open the gates. To this and the accompanying moral lecture, the Pakistani soldier answered to the policemen with something like, "we are a few, and you are a lot .... if you know what I mean..."

The soldiers on both sides then got a bit away from the gates. The people proceeded to break open the locks. And the rest is a great Bollywood ending.

Even though (1) this was just a movie, (2) technically, it did not happen in India, and, (3) no bribes were taken or given, this scene reminded me of Didier in Shantaram.

This movie was not the most plausible of stories, but I loved watching it. It showed a human side. Also, I felt the character Bajrangi/Pawan was Munnabhai of Munnabhai M.B.B.S. meeting Harold Crick of Stranger Than Fiction. I suppose each man is weird in his own way. I am not so sure about women, but I love both these movies.

Last but not the least, neither my employer nor my dog has anything to do with what I just wrote.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Worst that can happen

Someone yesterday asked me how to deal with a new task at her job. This particular thing was filling her with anxiety and stress.

My response was to think of the worst possible long term scenario with that thing, and then realize that she won't reach that bad a state. Basically, this is thinking what is the worst that can happen?

My friend appreciated this thought. But come to think of this, there are many fields where this is normal. For example, in the construction business, the strength etc. of structures is usually measured in terms of loads of up to ten times the normal load they are expected to handle. In computer programming, the complexity for doing something is mostly discussed in terms of the worst-case complexity.

Another friend once told me that when under stress, he just tries to think of the benefit of stressing, which turns out to zero. He then goes on with the task at hand as if it was not stressful at all. I tried it, and it turned out to be harder than what my friend promised. An alternate explanation is that this friend might be more mature or intelligent, but I seriously would not like to entertain that train of thought :-)

Other than the worst-case, what are some of coping mechanisms/thoughts that you employ when under stress or anxiety?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

How Unlikely

I have spent my childhood in a few different places. Not a lot, but enough to not let people identify where I am from just by my style of speaking.

At present, my parents and brother live in City A and I work in City B, shuttling to City A almost every weekend.

A few times, not more than 3 or 4, people have asked me if I am from City A or another city near to it. This comes as a mild surprise.

But today, I was in City A, and a person I was talking to asked me if I am from City B!

This totally blew me off. Not that I will actually try and calculate it, but what are the odds?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Thank you, Nestle!

I have been trying to improve my eating habits for some time now. I have been successful for the most part, with minor setbacks.

Of course, I won't go to a dietician until it is absolutely necessary. Mostly because I have other ways to waste my money.

One of the most important things that fit people and the internet tell me is that natural foods are the best and (factory) processed ones are the worst. Home cooked food comes somewhere in between.

But the heart wants what the heart wants, and my heart yearns for eating out and eating packaged stuff. The yearning has lessened somewhat, but it is still there.

This current Nestle issue is great for me because it reminds me that packaged food is not only unhealthy, it might also be outright dangerous. While I do not think I will consume Maggi Noodles in this life again, avoiding other packaged stuff will become a bit easy as well.

I do have a half kilo packet of Nestle powered milk that I will go through, though.

I would love to know what you have done recently to improve your eating, sleeping, exercise or overall happiness related habits.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

For granted when present, conspicuous by absence

Many times we take things and people for granted, only to be reminded of their importance when we do not have these things, people or privileges any more.  There are not a lot of exceptions, other than our parents and pets, and a few close friends.

Sometimes it takes another person's misery to actually notice how lucky we are.

This is just like salt in our food. We are not even aware of it until there is no salt and everything is tasteless.

Unfortunately, each one of us is the salt in someone's life. It is great on one side, because at least there are a few people who can count on us. But it sucks because we are taken for granted.

This great salt analogy was pointed out by one Purnima Gautam when we were talking about a common friend, Mr. Munna. This blog post will be pointed out to Sh. Munna in some time, after the dust has settled :-)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories

Ankita from humming words has written a collection of short stories. I read it and found it a great read. It is available on Amazon and on Buy Books. Some thoughts that I experienced while reading it follow.

What does it feel like not having anyone believe you? Or people putting you down just to feel good for themselves? Or someone blaming you for doing something when in fact someone else is to blame? Bad, of course.
... The woman, pleased at his quiet servility, smiled discretely that made the corners of her painted lips move up just a little and basking in the glory of her authority with an air of royalty, reclined slowly. Adjusting the fall of her golden-black silk sari vibrantly contrasting against her soft pink skin, she looked at her son and began, "Look at him! He cannot even imagine eating such wholesome food," and pointed towards the frail boy humbly standing in front of them.
In my experience, tragedy and comedy exist together. Ankita's stories are no exception.
"Then come and get married! Now!! We provide trusted Indian solution for everything: off-beam-haywire hormones, sordid heart attacks, lonely dates, hopeless life, chronic depressions, loose screws, addictions, phobias, manias and even bad karma," they screamed in chorus. "This time-tested panacea comes in attractive package with free home delivery!? added the old, one-eyed punditjee, smiling nastly, who appeared suddenly and the entire brigade leapt towards me ferociously!
There is the question of perfection in life. Rightly so, perfection keeps shifting like a mirage.
Finally, Rahul took a deep breath and began, "See, this dog is lame, one ear is cut but otherwise  it is fine." "Fine? We want a perfect dog, you fool!" cried his sister, flapping the dog's cut marked ear.
Jealousy is a great human feeling, but the feeling of having someone feel jealous of you is even more intense.
"Does she deserve him? No way!" resentful girls were seen whispering to each other. "Swine has struck gold!" another whispered with a frown. However, these nasty remarks, whenever they reached her, were music to the ears.
Some say the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. I have to agree.
She would pass all the day waiting for him, in anticipation that his return would bring a cheer to her otherwise banal life and the day would come alive but it hardly happened. Most of the messages and calls often went unanswered. 
Desperation, or frustration, or both, can lead one to do really illogical things. Sometimes, because of these very feelings,  it becomes difficult to see who the real villain is.
"What are you supposed to do when you become from your hospital night shift and catch your delinquent wife in bed with a filthy rich bastard? She just kept on blowing money on those darned horses. I loved my kids ... a lot. So, one night I just took the axe and... still people blame me... why me ....," he said somberly and pulled his collar down to show a deep red scar.
Sometimes we ask ourselves why some people even exist. I am not talking about some random medieval king or queen, but innocuous-looking people who will happily give you the time of the day.
"Stock... file... with pictures... I mean the collection," he replied, taken aback with this sudden change. "These are children, not pets or some made-to-order pieces of handicraft," Sir Thomas growled, taking his glasses off. "You are not getting us; we are donating a good sum. Don't we deserve a good choice? Today, your stock is not what we li..." 
Then of course, when it comes to bosses, everybody loves a bit of humour  .
... He sits on a high chair and has a peculiar habit of scanning every staff member from head to toe from behind his gold-rimmed glasses as if he could detect cocaine hidden in someone's tummy more surely than a trained sniffer dog.
Short story collections are like music albums: you really, really like one or two stories. Then there are a few stories everyone likes. Then there are one or two stories that everyone else likes. Pointing favourites might ruin it for you.

I hope the book does really well, and that Ankita goes on to write a lot more books.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Omnious or just Unlucky?

Many times we hear of someone being omnious. Mostly because they underwent some sort of personal tragedy.

This is so prevalent, it almost seems true. Oh, they can't have a child. Must have done some sort of bad things in a previous life. She just sits and stares into the wall, must be some kind of bad luck. 

What I think is that tragedy makes a person bitter or sad or plain negative. Just like being poor for a lot of time will make a person worrisome. Or like being powerful makes a person arrogant. A person who lived in violence in their childhood is more ready to fight in self defense in any situation. Going on with the same line of thought, and since we are all like Pavlov's dogs, we just assume a negative person is inherently negative and therefore in a situation of suffering.

Takes a lot of effort to get past such perceptions.

As with all posts on this blog, this one too is not original. But this time, I think it is not really good to name the person who (for want of a better word )inspired this post. This guy is really happy and in a great situation, so much so that I could not see any kind of bitterness in him. This is how I thought of this post. As with all posts on this blog, I always tell the people who inspire a post about the post, but this time, it saves me a "You write? I guess any stupid person can write" discussion :-)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

History Repeats Itself... Sometimes Too Soon

Three of us were chatting at the workplace today. Both were seniors and elder to me, and one of them mentioned generation gap.

He was irritated and amused that our generation somehow thinks that his generation is one of idiots. He was even more irritated and amused because he remembered thinking the same about the generation before him. He pointed out that this pattern repeats with every new generation.

So far, so good.

Then he had to review some of my work. Here comes the awkward part.

He pointed out a few mistakes in my work. I was thinking that it was probably because he thought in a different manner. Then I thought he was probably doing it just for the sake it.

Aaaaaaand, then it hit me! My senior was right, both in terms of what he said about generation gap, and what he was saying about my work.

I was thinking the same way just three minutes after hearing of the same thing from the same person I was with. I can probably give a thousand rational explanations for what I thought. But none of them will be true. Not a chance.

Of course, no points for guessing who was irritated and amused now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

When Things Get Scary

One of the seniors at work gave a bad, bad news today. Not as bad as me getting unemployed, but not a lot far from that.

It looks like a joke at the moment. Or I might be trying to convince myself that it is a joke.

This current experience is proving great for my personal growth. Someone once said live every day as if it is your last. This saying has a new meaning for me from now on.

This also reminds me to not expect too much and to never take anything for granted in life. I need more of such reminders.

Many times in life, the fun is in not knowing. This is different, but feels fun at the same time.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Changing By The Minute

It would seem that a person's thoughts, views, opinions etc. are constant. At least this is what I thought.

Turns out, I myself am an exception to this.

Other than a few big things like love for humanity, patriotism, respect for my parents etc., all other things change to almost diametrically opposite stands for me. The funny part is, there is no way I can prove my love for humanity, patriotism, respect for parents to myself. So these might just be speculations in my mind.

I have noticed that whenever I expose myself to some new idea, I either pursue it to death, or I hate it. Then, in some time, a week, a couple of months, or until a friend makes me do the opposite ... yes, you guessed it right.

Seeing such inconsistencies in myself is amusing and confusing at the same time. Amusing because it does not matter a lot in the grand scheme of things. My attitude towards certain kinds of food, exercise, work related stuff etc. does not really matter. I (now) know it will definitely change. But it is very confusing because sometimes you have to invest yourself in terms of time or effort or both to one side. Additionally, I always try to be consistent, and this aspect of myself makes me feel like an idiot.

There is always the looming fear of losing some great opportunity just because my silly mind is turned to some other thing at a certain moment in time. But there is also the fear of pouncing too soon on something not worth pouncing at all.

There was a time I wrote really long blog posts. Then I got to really short posts, and now I just write whatever I want. I have used a lot of commas and et-ceteras in this post, and there was a time I hated both. I knew I would not be able to write a lot, and that is why I named the blog "More Not Than Often". But the only reason I am writing this post is because a friend prompted me to. Love you Arpit, but don't know for how long :-)

How often do you feel that you were an idiot some time back?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Newbie Forever

With being an adult comes maturity and responsibility. Or so the world would have us believe. Whatever. This maturity, responsibility, etc. means we cannot enjoy life as much as we used to as children.

I have noticed that always learning something new keeps my mind fresh. At least at a state-of-mind level. 

It keeps on the childhood independence to make mistakes without worrying about the consequences. More importantly, this state of mind goes on to other, mature aspects of my life. Or so I believe.

Seeing others do things better than myself keeps me grounded. These include music by Rob-Ccomics by Rahul, poetry by Geo and Patt, and insightful stories by Kanthu. I can only dream of doing these things that well.

New hobbies, learning new skills, meeting new people, the more we manage to stay newbies, the more we stay young in our minds.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A little motivation

A little motivation goes a long way.

There was this thing that my brother wanted me to do on the computer. I was stalling of course, finding excuses every time he asked me about it. Then I told him I could not do it. Somehow I started believing that as well.

We were meeting with a friend, and my brother brought up the topic. This friend is great with computers. He simply told my brother that I was fully capable of doing that thing, and that I was just a bit lazy.

Reaching home, I switched on the computer and tried doing that thing. And  I did it.

If it was not for this friend's belief in my ability, I could not have done it. In other words, if it was not for this friend's surety of my laziness, I would not have done it.

This motivation thing is a bit confusing. Many times people seem to be motivating us, but actually have hidden motives. A little judgement is required as well :-)

The question now is, how do I motivate my brother to get along with computers?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Starting with the present

I have always worried about the future or over-analysed the past.

As a child, I used to wonder when I would be a year older. Or about what I would do once I grew up. While playing video games, often the main motivation to play a level was NOT to enjoy it, but to see what the next level had to offer.

As I grow up, I am finding that life is not simple. At least not simple enough to comprehend.

So from now on, the priority is to enjoy the present moment. That, and a little focus on improving myself and my situation for the not-too-far future.

Let us see what happens :-)