Thursday, October 9, 2014

Friends

Recently, I’ve moved to a new city. Being just out of college, all friends from before moved to different cities for work. So, I just happened to have moved into a new circle of friends. And things changed.

These are loud, totally random and unpredictable, binge eat and drink like a fish; their apartment is a pseudo dump. But over the past few months, I liked hanging out with them- it’s easy, natural and somehow I felt at home there with them.

That was totally unexpected for me- I mean, this is not the ‘me’ I knew. So, that got me thinking- have I been keeping bad company before or I didn’t yet know what this new company is doing to me. Here are some things that struck me in retrospect:
  • These guys don’t have facades- no pretences. Doesn’t mean they don’t do stupid stuff or have their privacy. Just that they don’t have anything to hide. We respect one another’s secrets.
  • No patronizing. All of these are elder to me at least by a couple of years. And of course in better jobs and all too. But I always felt an equal among them.
  • Not judgemental. I have done stupid things with them. Shared with them many of the dumb things I’ve done before. Yet, all I got from them is the more-than-occasional friendly gibe and lots of poking fun. Never disrespect. Never dislike.
  • Not criticising- accept me for what I am- the flawed, idiosyncratic, moody me.


Now, the friends I had before were also similar, but in varying degrees of these characteristics. I seem to have found another of my quirkiness but I think I also stumbled upon the secret for finding good friends.
Cheers to friends! Cheers to us!

-Manish

9th October, 2014
Bangalore

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This city's made us crazy and we must get out...

So, here I come to this famed hub of technology in southern India. The weather couldn't be more different from the original Silicon Valley- the rains longer, the wind stronger and the nights colder out here.

What a welcome! A friend had to leave the city almost as soon as I arrive, tossing all our plans out the window. The universe does have a sick sense of humour.

The people-oh, the people! There are so many of them that I began replacing "crowds" with "herds" in all my speech.

These herds are so much alike- in shape, size, packaging, labelling, tagging and what not. The whole sight and sound of 'em is so alike that not a day goes by without the song "Little boxes" ringing in my ears.

And all these people choose the exact same schedule to travel to and from work- the exact same two hours each in the mornings and the evenings. Either they have a masochistic love for spending several hours a day stuck in traffic or they have that logic part of their brains fried out from all the coding.

The jargon- uselessly stupid and stupidly useless. Everyone use it but no one knows what it actually means. I'm talking about the bandwidth of using the horizon to deliver perfect excellence across the scope... Sigh!
I'm a huge fan of social experiments; I like love sitting in a quiet corner and watching people act crazy. But lately, the samples of my social experiments have turned out to be so homogeneous that it's a huge waste of effort even trying to experiment here.

My most comfortable and frequent hangouts used to be coffee places and music lounges. This city has plenty of those, but none with the peace and quiet that attracted me to those hangouts in the first place. Conversations turn into yells and screams, cappuccinos are more like crap-uccinos. You know how good the DJ is when he plays an Indian remix of (Coldplay's) Paradise.


I wanted to write about the rude auto-wallahs, the fleecing store keepers, the blood-sucking public transport system and the trouble of finding a seat at office and a flat near the workplace. But here comes a traffic jam and it's time for my power nap- these days I get longer naps stuck in traffic than I ever could sneak at my desk...

PS. Coldplay and Maroon5, I'm solemnly sorry!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fifteen men on the dead man's chest...

Always believed books must be free and accessible to all. And been putting together a nice little bookshelf of ebooks- classics, fiction, mysteries, thrillers and many more odds and ends. A collection that has been one of my prized possessions, almost as precious as The Black Pearl to Jack Sparrow.

This here is Mach's bookshelf

Feel free to share the fun...
And do tell what you liked or any new titles that should be included.


**Edit**
Some more books added

Friday, February 28, 2014

IIMK- Thank God It’s Friday, and it’s over.

a. Last day of classes
No nostalgia, no senti feelings. Coz I remember the last time I felt bad for end of classes, it didn't turn out so well. Less than a year later, I was back in classrooms.
Anyone for whom this was a ‘return’ to college would agree to this being just another phase, just a passing cloud.
b. I would not miss my friends
I made just a handful of friends here. (plenty of acquaintances, though) And there's no way I’m going to miss them. These people are going to hear from me, soon and often.
What good are friends if you stay out of touch long enough to start missing?!
c. I’m glad it’s over
To me this has been 21 months of rushed up everything. Sitting groggy eyed in the classrooms, some real boring lectures, pretty bad food, and a few crappy people too- it was an effort in itself to keep sane.
Given a chance, I’d want to sit through a select few of classes with some very good professors and learn some worthwhile stuff and hang out with some real good people- not because I have to but because I want to.
d. Experiments have just begun
When I came here, I made one conscious choice- just one- that I’d experiment with everything under the sun that came my way. And I did. The list is long and I’d rather keep it to myself. Some have been astounding successes to marvel at and most have been abject, miserable failures.
I’m not going to trust anyone who says failures are lessons (or any such crap), coz they haven’t seen real failure. Failures SUCK. And unless you are strong enough to rise up after the fall, you better stay away and survive.
e. I lost myself
In all the chaos here, I have transformed. So much so that I am not the same person that walked in here 20 months ago. Is that good? Not entirely. Is it bad? Not exactly.
From what my friends say (in the testimonials), I figured that I’ve retained some core of my former self. But for me, it has been like living through a typhoon. Oh well, I’m glad I survived.
f. There are better things to look forward to
Hey, I got what I came here for. What I wanted. (Most of ‘em, at least). That’s a good enough reason to celebrate the end and look forward to the new beginning.
After all, I’m not old enough to fill even a quarter of my biography yet. If this remains the best part of my life- I’m sure it’s not a life I’m ‘living’.


PS. To all the people flooding my fb wall with ‘last XYZ’ messages- it’s not the last of anything. The world is round, the end is only the beginning…

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We are the roles we play

“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts….”
-Act II, Scene VII, As You Like It,
William Shakespeare,

We are defined not as a set of characteristics or traits, not as a sealed package by others. Instead, everyone sees us for the discrete, granular roles that we play in their lives. The ‘package’ that we see in our own heads is our own perspective of all the roles we play in the lives of all the people we know.

You may be a caring child, a sincere student, a loyal friend, a passionate lover, a dedicated employee, a pleasant boss, a doting father and a responsible citizen: each of these roles call for a set of characteristics and need you to act in a manner that suits the roles you choose to play.

Ain't that why someone we hate from the guts is liked by some others, why some fall in love with people that just don’t care, why some people buy goods that others absolutely detest, why there is such a huge variety of everything, why someone who is highly successful in his profession has a ruin of a family life and vice versa, why there are no absolute good/bad human beings?

This might sound uncannily similar to the concept of core competency for businesses- something that one company can perform much better than any others and can keep doing that way. So, if your teacher always vetoes you to be the class coordinator; if one of your friends seeks you to fix a problem and doesn’t bother to even talk to you otherwise; if your children call you only when they need pocket money; if your boss directs all the yelling clients to you - it could well be because that is what they find to be your ‘core competency’.


And just as difficult adding a core competency could be to a business, so is migrating to a different role in a person’s life- not impossible, but definitely not easy. And of course, everyone can’t be everything. The trick is in choosing what roles to play in which acts and putting together a balanced package- in our heads, that is.

-MaCh
18th February, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Why does a hero need a mask?

Having returned recently from an academic Euro trip which was everything but academic (no wonder), I was inclined, almost compelled, to revamp the interiors of my dorm lodgings to suit my refined tastes. (This is what others think. Honestly, I was pretty jobless and the neighbours were quite vocal in what they thought of my guitar strumming.) Either which way, I ended up staring at superhero posters for what I now realise was a little too long. And this is what ensued...

Q. What is common between Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Wolverine and Phantom? (Sounds deep, I know!) 
A. Among other things, the immaculate guarding of their identity bordering on obsession.  

Superheroes, as the comics and movies might suggest, have day jobs that are essentially their defences against the prying eye and the eavesdropping ear. But the explanation that I believe does most justice is from Batman: 'Gotham doesn't need a saviour; It needs a hero.' A close second is from Superman: 'Give people an ideal to strive toward. They may stumble and fall, but you will help them, accomplish..'

Anecdotes abound that state in no unclear terms that heroes are not people that solve everybodys problems with their Kryptonite strength or Wayne Enterprises' billions and technology. Nor is it those who fly across NY high rises saving the day. What truly defines a superhero is the plain fact that they give people hope- to fight their own battles, day in and day out. To assure people that their battles are not impossible but just difficult, that their troubles are not insurmountable just convoluted. 

What makes the superhero remarkable is his(her) ability to let people make their mistakes and get into trouble, not least because that would make him(her) more 'needed' but because that would teach them lasting lessons. Ironically enough, the job of a superhero is to obviate his job, to render himself irrelevant and unnecessary. They fix the pressing problems, plant hope in the people, set high standards for them to emulate. And walk away.

(Of course there are rich, ostentatious engineers that designed the Iridium core arc reactor as life support and bask in paparazzi's flashbulbs, but we are talking serious superhero shizz here.)

This is where the mask serves it's purpose. It helps the superhero be one among us- fighting everyday battles, going through the same 'troubles' everyone else goes through, living the 'common man's life. The closer the person is to the masses, the greater is the hope instilled by his superhero alter-ego.

There is a hero in everyone of us. When we grow beyond personal ambitions, when our world expands to include others, when we find happiness in others' successes...

..well my friend, it's time to go design a kick-ass mask!!


PS. I wish to take this opportunity to thank the everyday superheroes that I draw vitality from- Steve Jobs, Michael Schumacher, Abraham Lincoln, Che Guevara and The Beatles, among others.

Monday, November 25, 2013

With great power comes great responsibility

I am notorious for using these words occasionally in my conversations with friends and I know these are met with rolling eyes and contempt too sometimes. But every time I use these words, there is a deep, resounding quiet that resonates around- that not everyone has the power to think about things, not everyone is given the power to act on any/some/most of them, not everyone has the power to change what is beyond most others’ comprehension- to make a difference, to change the course of (a part of) the world. And those who have been endowed with such a power are burdened with a moral responsibility to ‘act’ in the greater interest of humanity. As Dante famously sums up in his Divine Comedy, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain neutrality in times of moral crises…”

I was reminded recently that I fall in the category of this elite few; I didn’t believe it one bit then. I am still young, na├»ve and too small to make a difference- or at least that’s what I thought I was. Then the same person also reminded me that events that altered the course of history were brought about by people like me: young, small, isolated; though the universe happened to conspire in their favour. And most important of all, in a couple of months, a bunch of select few hundred people like me will be handed power in a significant measure. It was then the curve ball hit me. Hard.

I must confess that what I’ve been doing so far is not in the interest of the society or humanity- it was all entirely driven by personal gain as the prime motive and a large part of the gain I was planning on was monetary. Never- not but once- have I thought about how my education or excellence would be of any use to others, but that one time too, these thoughts were swept clear off my mind in a matter of minutes. I was going with the flow- classes, lectures, cases, assignments, discussions, sports, events, pastimes, trips, fun, friends, love, failing in many of these, grades, jobs et al. Now that I think about it, I was not alone in any of these- the whole set of the ‘few hundred elite’ around me was acting this same way, at least apparently.

Of course there’s the occasional professor who makes a fleeting mention of the true impact of this power we hold, but they are overly cautious not to corrupt us with this ‘power-talk’. There are subtle signs of what’s coming and how we will be mercilessly thrown into the flux where no books help and no teachers guide us through. But as always, subtlety is lost on us in most occasions.

Biotechnology, internet, climate change, renewable energy sources, sustainable technologies, population growth, political stability, public policy, and global business dynamics- these are very few of the true problems facing humanity at this point of time and space. I’m positively sure we are not trained to deal -our skillsets are hopelessly inadequate- with these and what scares me is that we are expected to understand, analyse, and have an opinion and a few feasible solutions ready- all by the time we go out into the world.
The least we could do now is to acknowledge the true demons that we face and grow beyond the pseudo-troubles that bother us currently. There’s still time to make a positive difference. We all face the same hells, just different devils…


-MaCh