Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bithday - A truely beastly blessing - Shashi Tharur

This is an article written by Mr. Shashi Tharur in The Times of India on his own birthday. Surely he makes an interesting point here

Why do we celebrate birthdays? This is a perfectly serious question, prompted by the fact that today happens to be mine. I will receive cards, phone calls and messages of congratulation from family and friends, all for having accomplished — what exactly? Nothing more than merely emerging 52 years ago. Whereas the person who did all the hard work that day, the one whose effort and sacrifice and pain resulted in the fortuitous event — my mother — will be ignored by all and sundry.

She will go to the temple, as usual, and feed the poor, as she has done on each of her children’s birthdays for decades. But no one will congratulate her for what she accomplished on that March Shivratri day more than five decades ago. Instead, the tributes will come to the least deserving beneficiary: the person whose only real challenge on that occasion was to be able to manage to breathe.

Yes, life is unfair, especially for mothers. And yet, it’s true that each passing birthday marks a milestone on the road of life, something by which to measure the way you have lived. Not that most of us use birthdays for that purpose: usually it is the occasion for a party, and for the more spiritually-minded, for prayer; some spend it with close family, others with raucous friends; but few use it to take stock of what they have done and where they are going.

Indeed, it takes landmark birthdays to prompt that sort of self-assessment. In my case, 30 did it: it was, after all, the age when my cricketing heroes began to think of retirement, and up till that point i had thought of age entirely in relation to the careers of cricketers, most of whom, in those days, were over the hill by 30.

So at 30 I took a long hard look at my life and concluded that there was a great deal more I needed to do to justify my presence on the planet. Thirty was far more significant a threshold than 40, which passed by scarcely noticed. When I was a child that would have surprised me, for 40 had used to seem forbiddingly middle-aged, the point at which all potential had been exhausted, the beginning of an inexorable descent into decrepitude.

But by the time I got there, 40 seemed to me to be an insignificant age, populated by striplings and rising stars and the leaders of tomorrow, rather than a turning point. Perhaps, it is a reflection of the enhanced longevity of our times that the mid-point has been raised: 40 is still young today, and 50 is the new 40.

But what does that mean? No one I know who has reached 50 seems ready to be put to pasture. The days when office-goers contemplated retirement at 55 are gone almost everywhere, even in the hidebound confines of Indian government service, which now expects its bureaucrats to toil until 60 (and rumour has it that may soon rise to 62).

During my years as a manager at the UN, I used to find it deeply frustrating to lose some of my best staff at 60, an age when many of them seemed to be in the prime of their professional lives and had never been more assured or more productive. (Some, particularly from developing countries, would attempt to claim that their original birth certificates were wrongly filled in or subsequently doctored, a claim whose plausibility was undermined by the fact that they chose to reveal this only when they turned 59.)

Then came 50: an alarming age which seemed to suggest the imminence of irrelevance. At 50, no one can plausibly be described any more as "young" (an adjective that had dogged me all my life), or as "up-and-coming" or as an exciting new talent. By 50, you should have pretty much made your mark; for 99.99% of the human population, you know that in the race of life you are closer to the finish line than the starting gate.

And so 50 tends to be a landmark you notice. Intrepid gerontologists may come up with long lists of people whose major accomplishments occurred after they turned 50, but in most cases, 50 represents the narrowing of possibilities, the closing of avenues, both personal and professional. Choices you haven’t made till 50 are no longer available for you to make.

Of course, there are professions where this isn’t true: Indian or Japanese politics, for instance, where you have to be at least 50 to be taken seriously at all. But even your body reminds you daily of the things you can no longer do without feeling the consequences. Comedians tell you that if you wake up after 50 and don’t feel a nagging pain anywhere, you’re probably dead.

But I'm still here, unless I’m struck by the proverbial bus between sending this column to my editor and waking up on Sunday morning. Fifty-two isn’t a landmark of any sort; it is an age of no particular distinction. It’s the sort of age which, if it were a cricketing score, would carry an asterisk, meaning "not out": innings still going on, much more to do, plenty of batting still to come. The new ball has been weathered, some of the uneven bounce in the wicket mastered (or at least understood), an intelligent estimate of the field taken, and the bowling sized up.

Of course, the bat is now a bit worn, smudged both from the fours that went off the meat of the bat and the nicks and edges that accompanied your scoring, but you’re still there and the great cosmic umpire doesn’t seem to be readying to raise his finger. Fifty-two not out! You squint into the sun. Would somebody please move that sightscreen?

God in a Gucci - Shobhaa De'

This is an article written by Mrs. Shobhaa De in sunday Times life for the column "God in a Gucci". I really couldnt find any other better argument on this subject. .

IT is important to de-link spiritualism from religion. I believe that a religious person can be deeply spiritual and not be seeking anything. Not even God. A spiritual approach to life is far more important to one's sense of well-being than blindly following religious texts and rituals. The idea of GOD is a reflection of man's own insecurity. The most pathetic aspect of this is the way in which we foolishly fight over 'our' gods. Claiming superiority of one over the other, as if these various gods are competing in some absurd religious Olympics, featuring winners and losers. Belief is personal and frequently irrational. Nobody has the right to question it. Or declare a race to the finish line. Why do we hanker after 'answers'? Who has them? Has anybody met God? Since I am not really looking for God, I don't feel the need to search for Him. Or Her. Or 'It'.

As for whether one can be wearing an expensive Gucci or Cavalli and still be deeply religious, and whether we can be sexy and religious, materialistic as well as spiritual, and whether one precludes the other, I would say, it is not a valid debate at all.

What a person thinks, feels, is the key to understanding the bigger picture. To equate wealth with evil is to confuse issues. Not every rich person in designer gear is morally decrepit, just as not every poor person in rags is a saint. Nobody has been able to 'explain' inequalities. These value judgements are childish and irrelevant. Besides, even the most evolved ascetic can slip up and make terrible mistakes. That is the challenge of being humane and human. To think of God as an allseeing, stern headmaster, punishing the wicked, and rewarding the meek, makes the Almighty sound pretty dreadful! These are small consolations we dream up for ourselves, that's all.

There are thousands of people who put everyday life on hold to go off in pursuit of happiness or spiritualism, outside the realm of daily concerns. It's a matter of personal choice. Who can challenge that? It is an individual option. Only someone who has taken this route can comment on its validity, that too, in a strictly personal context. What compels an individual to go down this path? Who knows?? I am sceptical at the best of times since I have yet to meet a 'genuine' fakir. Renunciation is for those who can't cope with domesticity and life's petty struggles or simply refuse to.

I abhor rules and regulations that dictate to me what I should do if I want to reach God. These man-made pre-conditions were created in a specific historical scenario to offer guidelines that would discipline those the state could not effectively subdue. They have little relevance in an age where individual freedom precedes virtually everything else. Religion offers a matrix for those incapable of thinking for themselves. Organised religion is politics by another name — a way to control people through fear and punishment. It is easy to manipulate the uneducated, ignorant masses by talking of God's 'wrath'. This gives God a bad name!!

Seeking God does not necessarily have to be about listening to the silence within. I am not attracted to silence. I like chaos and noise. I can generally reach the spot I need to within myself, by concentrating on it briefly. This can happen even in the midst of cacophony. I love visiting temples, churches and mosques. I feel energised by the atmosphere. Other people's faith touches me deeply.

People, the world over, get possessive about 'their' God and spend time looking for imagined insults, and reacting to them. A confident believer is not as easily rattled. If Cavalli decides to put some image on inner wear, does that make God any less important? Or does it reflect Cavalli's ignorance? True spiritualism frees you from such bondage. It liberates while it celebrates differences. When our very existence is so ephemeral, why look for 'concrete' proof? God can wear Gucci, a dhoti or nothing at all. It's all about loving an illusion.


India is blessed with some of the most extraordinarily talented and creative writers. But most of their work is scattered somewhere in the pages of newpapers or magzines. While some part of novels or stories can also be worth pondering over.
In this section i have tried to collect all that I find interesting and something really worth thinking.
Enjoy Reading.
Hope you all like it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Angels and Demons

This book is a prelude to Dan Brown's the Da Vinci Code.
If you have liked the DA Vinci code then you are sure to love this book because it is one of the most amazing piece of fiction you could ever find somewhere on earth.
This is a story of Mr. Robert Langdon, A professor of religious iconology and symbology at Harvard University. He is awakened at his home by a phone call from Mr. Max Kohler, the director of CERN, the world's largest science research facility in Geneva, Switzerland. When Langdon reaches CERN, he is told that a senior physicist, Mr. Leonardo Vetra has been killed and he is branded with a strange symbol on his chest "Illuminati" . The symbol considered by many as a brand of an ancient secret scientific society is also an ambigram of a sort. When the daughter of Leonardo, Ms. Victoria arrives, they realise that a new scientific invention "antimatter " which was stored in a canister is stolen from CERN. Antimatter is an highly infalmmable substance which will explode after tha back up battery of canister is discharged in 24 hours and with it, it will destroy everything in half a mile diameter. So from here starts the race against time,which takes victoria and Langdon to the vatican city - the sacred place which hold the highest religious significance in the entire Christiandom and where the conclave is being undertaken to select a new Pope.
In a search for the canister, Langdon realise that the ancient anti-religion group of scientific brotherhood are plannimg to murder the four main cardinals of the conclave on the four altars of sciences namely Air, Fire, Earth and Water. So in order to stop the killings they will have to find all the altars of scinece in the Vatican city and the adjoining country of Rome. With twist and tura and one secret revealing after another finally Langdon and Victoria are successfull to find all the altars of science and save the vatican city but not without finding out some harsh truths about the ancient secret Illuminati and the Vatican City itself.
The book itself is really very intriguing and Dan Brown has created the characters the situations so exactly that your are bound to be virtually glued to the pages. one after another so many secrets are revealed that the reader is in a roaler coaster ride in the world of secret societies, religion, science, ancient artefacts and architectural places, etc. The story is compact and complicated but in the end it also tries to answer one moral question arising everywhere in the world.
The best part of the book is its pace, no where the book seems to be dull and lenghthy but there is a feeling of intrigue and curiousity in each scene and sequence. Dan Brown has created a master piece.
A must read for all the lovers of an entirely different genre of fiction.

Nature call - Amboli

If you think of one of the least explored hill stations in Maharashtra, it has to be Amboli.
Situated about 390 km from pune on the western ghats, Amboli is nearest one can think of going to nature.
I went there in the midst of monsoon, so all that i could see there was green and white !!
But the weather is equally pleasant all the year round. One of the best place to watch out here are the Nagatta falls situated around 3 km from here.
The falls are 700m high and are full of water and greenery even in the summer. You can enjoy a nice bath under the steady and cool stream flowing here. The hills surrounding Amboli are so lush green that you truely feel like a thick green velvet blanket has covered the entire surrounding. To add to your delight, there is not much of a crowd so most of the places are clean and peaceful. The other places to visit here which are equally apealling are
1) Hiranyakeshi - which is an old temple and
2) Sunset point - from where you can experience one of the best sights of the Sun.
The hotels here are decent and cheap. There is no scope for shopping here as this is a really small town.
So just pack a small bag and go out there to Amboli to enjoy a tranquill and peacefull weekend. You will get the best out of Amboli in 2 days.
Route -->Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur - Amboli.
Tip : You can get a quick Mahalaxmi Darshan on the way at Kolhapur.

A conversation through mail. . . .

Hi A,
Hope you are enjoying at home . . rather i am sure of it.

U know i get used to certain things quite fast.
Last week we were communicating every day . . and now this week i am already feeling something amiss. !!!
But thats how i am . . nevermind.

This week has been really really hectic for me. the projects cutover activity has started and we are working almost 12 hours a day since last saturday.
It is getting even worse as we are approaching the deadline. This is first time that i am feeling so much worn out, i no more feel like working with interest.

U know sometimes, u get a feeling that u are the biggest dumb on the earth. That u dont know or cant do even the simplest thing required out of ur job. And however hard you try, you dont get any head start. U feel tired, bored, defeated and over all . . lonely. !!
ALl the knowledge and your experience seem to have evaporated from your mind never to come back and you are in the middle of commotion where seniors, PMs, TLs and colleagues are all preparing to cut your head off. What you have is a constant buzzing in your head which never stops. . not even in your sleep.

I dont know what to do now as the simplest of the solutions dont seem to work. But this is how life is supposed to work i guess.
You know i am awake since 4 in the morning and came in the office at 7. I never thought i would be coming to the office in the early hours of a cold winter morning. . . .
And i dont know why did i feel like writing all this to you and that too when i know u wont be replying soon. But some where some times you need an outlet to let it all flush out of your mind. And may be somewhere you would have also gone through this.

May be when you read this, i would be much stable or in better control of my confusions. But right now at least i am relieved to have let out of my feelings once.
I am really a mad to write this. . please dont be angry.
I dont even know whether this level of personal mail is even allowed or is acceptable on or
But anyways i am happy that i could collect my thoughts in this mail.

Eager to get back in touch with you.


Hi J,

Nice and well drafted mail, I must say.
I like the way you wrote… it was completely filled with negative approach initially and then slowly turning positive… that’s the best part of it…

Sometime you feel you are dumb then you are learning new things… and that is the time work with your peers,sub-ordinates, gurus as if you are the disciple and taking whatever they offer… and it is matter of time.. always,
Sometime if it is turning worse… don’t put some more mess… keep your calm and kool and after few minutes, hours, days it should be in your favor again and back to normal…

Don’t expect any help from others.. believe in yourself and success is yours…

Sometime when smart working doesn’t go well then you need to work harder… and so coming at 7 is good… and while coming early I know you will feel bored but take the positive side of it and while driving your bike let the cold breeze touch your face… feel that… that will give you the soothing and charming touch that you needed… and you will forget all the sorrows…
tough this seems to be hypothetical but still sometime it works J

Lastly it is always good to vent out the despair and don’t worry while doing so… if you are feeling very low spend time with some of your frnds and it should be fine…

And most important thing is “work is part of life and life is not part of work, so learn to live and it will automate work”

Be good. Be happy.