Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My training touches people across geographies

I happened to browse Google with my name and it threw the above as one of the search results.
I was pleasantly surprised to see this. I had trained the new inductees from different parts of the world at Hyderabad and through virtual training in their part of the globe but this happened 3 years ago and I had almost forgotten about it. As far as I recall this is a trainee from Holland.
Trying to translate word by word to see what it means.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peepli Live

I think I must say just one word about the film...Brilliant!
The movie was like watching a symphony where not one note is in discord. Every character is so well etched. Not one superfluous moment or character in the movie. The vitriolic pen of the writer lashes out against every strata of the society.
In one sentence this movie is about how Budhia played by Raghubir Yadav convinces his younger brother Natha, played by Omkar Das, to commit suicide so that the government compensates for his death by which they can repay their debt and redeem their land. The media descends on this small village seeking to be the first to give the ‘breaking news’ of an intended suicide.
I was first hesitant to watch this realistic movie on a subject as mundane as farmer suicide as I didn’t want to come out of the movie hall feeling blue. But the brilliant narration held me spellbound throughout ...every few scenes you smile or laugh at the irony of things. The humor also has a touch of pathos. The cinematography may not be great but the visual imagery makes a powerful statement.
The film is mostly a commentary on politics and media encompassing within all its smaller and larger an example where the Hindi reporter outsources his work to a local chap who says that he needn’t visit the site or interview someone in order to turn in the article. He can simply write by rote as nothing has changed in the last eight years.
The conscience of a lone reporter who tries to seek a solution amidst all this media frenzy is quieted down saying that –‘it is not for us to find solutions but to seek stories which make headlines.’
The surprise factor in the film is Naseeruddin Shah who shines brilliantly in the ten minute presence in the movie—this time as a smooth politician making glib and easy speeches and promises.
Let me not give away whether this guy, Natha, dies at the end. All I can say is this movie is a must- watch. The A certificate is unwarranted as there are no objectionable scenes except for a few expletives used here and there which again go with the flow of the narration.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Khushwant on life, death & happiness

As said in an earlier post, I do really love this guy and here is one of his articles. I dont think I am even remotely qualified to pass a judgment on his writing. Yet, cant help say that he has proved to be so articulate once again:

Death is rarely spoken about in our homes. I wonder why. Especially when each one of us knows that death has to come, has to strike. It’s inevitable. This line from Yas Yagana Changezi says it best: Khuda mein shak ho to ho, maut mein nahin koi shak (You may or may not doubt the existence of God, you can’t doubt the certainty of death). And one must prepare oneself to face it.
At 95, I do think of death. I think of death very often but I don’t lose sleep over it. I think of those gone; keep wondering where they are. Where have they gone? Where will they be? I don’t know the answers: where you go, what happens next. To quote Omar Khayyam,
    Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
    Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing...”
    “There was a Door to which I found no Key
    There was a Veil through which I could not see
    Some little Talk awhile of Me and Thee
    There seemed
    and then no more of Thee and Me.”
I once asked the Dalai Lama how one should face death and he had advised meditation. I’m not scared of death; I do not fear it. Death is inevitable. While I have thought about it a lot, I don’t brood about it. I’m prepared for it. As Asadullah Khan Ghalib has so aptly put it,
    “Rau mein hai raksh-e-umar kahaan dekhiye thhamey
    Nai haath baag par hai na pa hai rakaab mein

    (Age travels at galloping pace; who knows where it will stop
    We do not have the reins in our hands nor our feet in the stirrups).”
All my contemporarieswhether here or in England or in Pakistanthey’re all gone. I don’t know where I’ll be in a year or two. I don’t fear death. What I dread is the day I go blind or am incapacitated because of old agethat’s what I fearI’d rather die than live in that condition. I’m a burden enough on my daughter Mala and don’t want to be an extra burden on her.
All that I hope for is that when death comes to me, it comes swiftly, without much pain, like fading away in sound slumber. Till then I’ll keep working and living each day as it comes. There’s so much left to do. I have to content myself by saying these lines of Iqbal:
    “Baagh-e-bahisht se mujhe hukm-e-safar diya tha kyon?
    Kaar-e-Jahaan daraaz hai, ab mera intezaar kar

    (Why did you order me out of the garden of paradise? I have a lot left to do; now you wait for me).”
So I often tell Bade Mian, as I refer to him, from time to time, that he’s got to wait for me as I still have work to complete.
I believe in these lines of Tennyson:
    “Sunset and evening star,
    And one clear call for me
    And may there be no moaning of the bar,
    When I put out to sea...
    Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness or farewell,
    When I embark.”
I believe in the Jain philosophy that death ought to be celebrated. Earlier, whenever I was upset or low, I used to go to the cremation grounds. It has a cleansing effect, and worked like a therapy for me. In fact, I’d written my own epitaph years ago:
    “Here lies one who spared neither man nor God
    Waste not your tears on him, he was a sod
    Writing nasty things he regarded as great fun
    Thank the Lord he is dead, this son of a gun.”
        I hope that when death comes to me, it comes swiftly, without much pain, like fading away in sound slumber.         
I had even written my own obit in 1943 when I was still in my twenties. It later appeared in a collection of short stories, titled ‘Posthumous’. In the piece, I had imagined
The Tribune announcing the news of my death on its front page with a small photograph. The headline would read: ‘Sardar Khushwant Singh Dead’. And then, in somewhat smaller print:
    ‘We regret to announce the sudden death of Sardar Khushwant Singh at 6 pm last evening. He leaves behind a young widow, two infant children and a large number of friends and admirers. Amongst those who called at the late sardar’s residence were the PA to the chief justice, several ministers, and judges of the high court.’
I had to cope with death when I lost my wife. Being an agnostic, I could not find solace in religious rituals. Being essentially a loner, I discouraged friends and relatives from coming to condole with me. I spent the first night alone sitting in my chair in the dark. At times, I broke down, but soon recovered my composure. A couple of days later, I resumed my usual routine, working from dawn to dusk. That took my mind off the stark reality of having to live alone in an empty home for the rest of my days. When friends persisted in calling and upsetting my equilibrium, I packed myself off to Goa to be by myself.

I used to be keen on a burial because with a burial you give back to the earth what you have taken. Now, it will be the electric crematorium. I had requested the management of the Bahai faith if I could be buried. Initially, they had agreed, but then they came up with all sorts of conditions and rules. I had wanted to be buried in one corner with just a peepal tree next to my grave. After okaying this, the management later said that that wouldn’t be possible and that my grave would be in the middle of a row and not in a corner. I wasn’t okay with thateven though I know that once you are dead it makes no difference. But I was keen to be buried in one corner. They also told me later that they would chant some prayers, which again I couldn’t agree with, because I don’t believe in religion or in religious rituals of any kind.
Though I’m quite fit, I know I don’t have much time left. I’m coming to terms with death, preparing myself. And since I have no faith in God, nor in the day of judgement, nor in the theory of reincarnation, I have to come to terms with the complete full stop. I have been criticised for not sparing even the dead, but then death does not sanctify a person, and if I find the person had been corrupt, I write about it even when he’s gone.

I don’t believe in rebirth or in reincarnation, in the day of judgement or in heaven or hell. I accept the finality of death. We do not know what happens to us after we die but one should help a person go in peaceat peace with himself and with the world.
I’ve lived a reasonably contented life. I’ve often thought about what it is that makes people happywhat one has to do in order to achieve happiness.

First and foremost is good health. If you do not enjoy good health, you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct something from your happiness.

Second, a healthy bank balance. It need not run into crores, but it should be enough to provide for comforts, and there should be something to spare for recreationeating out, going to the movies, travel and holidays in the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be demoralising. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one’s own eyes.

Third, your own home. Rented places can never give you the comfort or security of a home that is yours for keeps. If it has garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, and cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

Fourth, an understanding companion, be it your spouse or a friend. If you have too many misunderstandings, it robs you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to be quarrelling all the time.

Fifth, stop envying those who have done better than you in liferisen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.
Sixth, do not allow people to descend on you for gup-shup. By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.  
Seventh, cultivate a hobby or two that will fulfil you
gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks, or to meet celebrities, is a criminal waste of time. It’s important to concentrate on something that keeps you occupied meaningfully. I have family members and friends who spend their entire day caring for stray dogs, giving them food and medicines. There are others who run mobile clinics, treating sick people and animals free of charge.

Eighth, every morning and evening devote 15 minutes to introspection. In the mornings, 10 minutes should be spent in keeping the mind absolutely still, and five listing the things you have to do that day. In the evenings, five minutes should be set aside to keep the mind still and 10 to go over the tasks you had intended to do.

Ninth, don’t lose your temper. Try not to be short-tempered, or vengeful. Even when a friend has been rude, just move on.
Above all, when the time comes to go, one should go like a man without any regret or grievance against anyone. Iqbal said it beautifully in a couplet in Persian: “You ask me about the signs of a man of faith? When death comes to him, he has a smile on his lips.”

(Excerpted from the forthcoming Absolute Khushwant: The Low-Down on Life, Death & Most Things In-Between (Penguin). The book will be launched on August 16.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sreeram Wins Indian Idol 5!

It is indeed a very proud moment for every Telugu person to see Sreeram win the Indian Idol 5. At last a Telugu won the title.

Sandeep was far below Karunya's talent in season 2 and it felt very sad to see talent losing to mediocrity.
In the same way, very disheartening  to see Hemachandra lose in Saregama to Debojit Saha whom he far surpassed. 

Sreeram, the efforts of your parents in aggressive publicity and garnering votes, the support of the entire Telugu film industry...everyone worked for your victory...every Telugu person wanted you to win and why not?! There wasn't a match to your voice amongst any of the contestants. You have made every Telugu feel proud.

The Telugu news channels were waiting for the results, breath held and for once I fully support the media frenzy. As I type this blog at one in the night, I can hear the continuous sound of crackers in the background.
Feeling very proud and happy to see our AP getting a prominent place in India because of your hard work, Sreeram.
All the best for your future!

Monday, August 9, 2010

On being a woman entrepreneur

Many such thoughts have been crossing my mind of late. There was this enthusiasm to experience the corporate world after being in the teaching job for a long time. Have seen both the good and bad in this world. Now, at this juncture thoughts are turning to going on my own. So, what do I do? The last 5 generations on both paternal and maternal sides have been only into salaried one has ventured on a business. On one hand is the temptation of earning a steady income through a job...I have still 14 years of service! On the other hand, when I contemplate, I feel so stagnated. Is this what any normal salaried person in her mid-40s feels? Or is it me who feels that there is so much more that can be done and I am not doing it? In this context, I happened to meet up with a young woman of 25 who had started her own coffee outlet/ a tiny restaurant doling out coffee and sandwiches and here is what I gathered from her:

1. A 400 sft place: rent Rs.14000/- pm.
2. Electricity expenses: 3000 pm
3. Gas: Rs.3000; 2 industrial cylinders pm
4. 3 waiters @ 3-5000 pm each
5. Yearly license at Rs 1500 pm
6. Other taxes
7. To look at hotel management schools for chefs
8. Location also is the key to decide the target client
9. Not to make it too exclusive in terms of target clientele or menu in the beginning till we stabilize
10.Takes around 3 years to break even.

All of the above + the cost of raw material every month...well,  to put in that much every month with no guarantee of profits...hmm..requires lot of thinking.