Friday, 29 June 2012

At the Crossroads of Life # 1

At the Crossroads of Life. Surely everyone has been there at some point of time.

Had been vacillating for close to half a year over whether my Career as a Life Insurance and Financial Professional had any appeal left left in it for me.

Not being a Hard-Nosed decision maker who goes strictly by 'the Best Option' available method, throughout my working span of thirty years I have been following whatever happens to be my Passion at that point of time.

Now this might appear to many that I'm fickle minded. Well that I'm certainly not. Its not only boredom that bothers me, but the lack of that burning desire to achieve greater heights in that career/ profession that sounds a warning bell: time is up! Have to call it a day here and move on to something that gets me wholly involved.

Another of my traits is that I tend to switch careers when I'm somewhat at my peak, rather than when I'm being reminded of the futility of toiling on.

It's been quite an eventful journey over the last thirty years and three phases..

Started off assisting my Uncle in our family business: indirectly linked to showbiz. A modern Offset Printing press (at that time) fitted out with German and British make machinery, which used to supply Posters in all sizes and shapes for Cinema hoardings- yes they existed and thrived at that time of no Television and insignificant Radio presence.

The other connection with the wonderful world of Cinema was our Movie Theatre which, when opened in 1976, was acclaimed to be the most modern and well designed of its kind in the entire stretch of extended Mumbai suburbs.

That was a learning ground as good as any for me. Sheer hard work, discipline, surviving the travails of tortuous daily commutes, the local trains, and pathetic Infrastructure- if you could call it infrastructure at all! A telephone call from Vasai to Mumbai meant a Trunk call which could at times get you connected the next day. The erratic Power supply would throw the production schedules out of gear at crucial times. 

To make it even more excruciating was my health: I was a chronic and critical Asthma patient who needed Emergency aid at the oddest of hours and was grossly underweight.

The tougher the set of Challenges, the better the Learning from them.

After being all at sea when I joined, I slowly (painfully slowly) picked up the ropes.

Crisis brings about an Opportunity.
It happened when my Uncle suffered a massive heart-attack and there was suddenly no one at the helm of the sizeable organisation. Since he had two daughters, both very young at time, the onus fell on me.

The drawback of many a family business without a succession plan is that a capable leader as a replacement is non-existent at such times.

Was I prepared for the challenge? With my track-record few would have counted on me to deliver, not that I'd blame them!

That is when I realised how much I had learnt from my Uncle and his amazing Organisational abilities: He was nothing short of Genius level!

Although he was available to guide me, his poor health meant he was out of bounds for a long, long period.

I came though with flying colours- his assessment, not mine. To a point that the enterprise actually flourished. Seven years was my stint here, seven life formative years.

My late Uncle, had been my Godfather right through childhood and what I owe to him is immeasurable.

He gave me the biggest Compliment of my life when he said I had repaid all his obligations bestowed on me. No, he was too magnanimous a person to suggest I owed him any, it was  just his way of thanking me.

The 7 year itch which made me call it quits was a very, very difficult decision to make. What I owed him, was weighing me down and impeding my decision making process.

What brought about the discontent in the first place? Being a hierarchical Business, there was little scope for me to grow once my Uncle regained his health a bit and took charge again.

It was literally suffocating: my free-flowing style of working as against his set-in-a-mould ways. A larger concern was over Ethics: even at that early age, I had set for myself the highest standards in Ethics, Quality and fairplay. 
These core issues caused a tussle between us, until a stage where it became unbearable.

The problem could have been due to difference in perceptions: He had started his enterprise in the 1960's under tremendous difficulties, when the Licence Raj ruled, business meant 'Dirty' by default and cutting corners was the only way to survive. 

I still recall the day I informed him, with a heavy heart about my intention to choose my own path. He graciously accepted my decision there and then. Our relationship had deteriorated over the last few years to a point of acrimony. 

Time heals like nothing else can. As the years rolled on, our bonding grew to such an extent that, years after his passing away, I miss him every single day of my life.

Whatever little I have achieved today is due to my magnificent Uncle's guidance, support and Leadership skills.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

With a Pinch of Salt (#) 5

Swanky Homes in 'Unswanky' Mumbai

The Wifey nudged me in the morning while we were reading our Morning newspapers.

'Did you read this?' referring to the cover page news in the Tabloid paper.
'Businessman buys most expensive Apartment for Rs.36 Crore! (6.3 Million USD), not only that, this is his third apartment in the same building! And look at where we are! In this cramped 2 bedroom place I'm ashamed to call home: can't even invite people from my side of the family or friends! What would they think? Mom was right.. I should have married that builder's nephew, so what if he never completed High School. Age makes one wiser, only if I'd not fallen in love with this bloke who wrote romantic poems for me' she sighed.

Yeah, you are absolutely right, I concurred, both of us would been happier I guess..A writer does not need much room, does he?

At the Prime Minister's office, his secretary came rushing to him with the Business Papers and pointed out the article on this record Property transaction.

'Whoever said the Economy is in doldrums? This Realty deal at a record price proves India's Shining!
Incredible India,Sir!
These are glorious times, Sir, its only the Opposition  who creates a dreary image about the Economy!'

The PM smiled and replied, all credit must go to Madam.

The Media finding something to chew upon, descended upon the Tycoon's office.

'Listen, listen, the Boss is not available for comments' said his P R guy.

'As such company Policy does allow me to comment on Market speculation..However, I'm permitted to reveal that this was a Consolidation exercise- since we already had two apartments in the Building Block, it made more sense to strengthen our Holdings'

A young couple made what was now their daily visit to the Estate Agent's office. He gestured them to sit down while he continued his conversation on his Mobile phone.

A few minutes later, apologising, he said 'What to do Sirji? These people think Apartments are available for the taking and I'm acting hard to get.. Aap hi bolo- why would l do that? More deals equals more Money. Simple equation which I can understand, they don't.'

The young man retorted: "yeah, they must be as dumb as we are! How can we get fooled? We are well read, everywhere the buzz is that the Property dealings in Mumbai have dwindled to sub Zero. So why can't we get even one damn tiny pigeon hole on rent? This must be the 33rd and possibly the last time we have come here!!'

'Sirji, Sirji, Thanda loge kya? Cool down, you think I'm lying, then see this, today's News! What can we do if you people do not see the reality? If the Media says there are so many unsold Flats, why don't you ask them for help?'

The young Girl, having read the Article, asked sardonically, 'if this Apartment were to be Rented out, how much would the Rental be?'

The Broker finally grinned. 'Now you are talking! 18,00,000/- per month. That would amount to double your Annual Income combined! Let the media do the reporting, the Market dictates the terms!'

At an equally swanky home of a noted Interior Decorator, his pretty niece suddenly came to him and exclaimed 'its party Time!!!'

'What's the occasion?, asked the Interiors pro.

'Tycoon Uncle has bought the most expensive Apartment in the same Building where you have done two of your Showpiece projects for him earlier'

After having done a little bit of Math, he slumped on the Sofa and delightedly said: 36 crore Apartment means another 36 Crore Interiors job, minimum! That too, only partly in 'white', rest in cash!'

Mr.Interiors now grinning from ear to ear, hugged his niece, 'forget the Party, its mini-vacation time!'

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Most Precious Gift of my Life!

It was a few Sundays ago.

I normally wake Diti, my daughter, up at 8 am but being a Sunday, there was 
some room for laxity.

I noticed it was well past her wake up time. She was already awake but lolling in bed.

Meanwhile, my Mom and Sis phoned me up ( they don't stay with us, but we speak to each other every morning)

When Diti did wake up, she annoyed me by asking me  midway during the conversation 
how come Mom had called me up so early and why I was speaking to them over phone for so long.

I snapped back at her:
'It's rude to interrupt people while they are speaking and moreover I like to speak to Mom. They have called me to wish me on Fathers Day. Your Mom and you seem to have forgotten about it'

Wifey had a hurt look on her face and took me to our bedside where Diti had a surprise gift hidden for me, which she had been impatiently waiting for me to discover.

 A Greeting Card and my favourite Bournville chocolate wrapped up in it! The Card had been created exclusively by her without anyone's help or suggestions.

The best part was her take on my current activity: Social Media as well my firm 'enRICHen' which she knew  occupied a lot of my attention! Her sense of observation is amazing. Neither my Sis or Wifey have ever heard of Quora or Linkedin (Facebook and Twitter are household names) because they have an aversion to Social Media.

 I was so overwhelmed, especially after having berated her for forgetting to wish me on Fathers day.

This, therefore, is the best gift I have received in my life from the best gift of my life: Diti!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Who are you Fleeing from?

Dare to Turn Around,
Turn Around and See

Dare to turn around,
Turn around and see

What you left behind,
The Self from which you flee

All rush, all rush,
Want to be among the few

Climbing high, Scaling up,
No time for the view

How can you ever feel,
Not your cup of tea!

Its Focus, just Focus,
For Me, ME, only me!

When life's become a bazaar, 
The Truth seems so bizarre

Feel Strong, don't need God,
Got the equations right

The Soul wrapped and gagged,
The True Self out of Sight

Can't  turn around,
Turn around and see..

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Light at the end of the Tunnel Shines from Within

I had quite a rough day at work and being a Saturday, thought of catching up on a 'no-brainer' Movie running at our nearby Multiplex.

'Fast and Frantic 2' it was.Thirty minutes into the film and I asked myself what made me choose this tortuous Screech of Fast Cars, Tatooed to the gill Hunks and Hot gals? My rough day was actually getting rougher. The crowd certainly seemed to be lapping it all up with glee.

Thankfully the Intermission came as a welcome breather.

Picked up a Sandwich and Iced Tea and returned to the cosy comfort of my push-back seat in the middle row of the Auditorium. Delicious stuff, at least better than the movie, I said to myself.

Was munching on my sandwich when all of a sudden the Screen blanked out, the gentle buzz of the Air-conditioning system stopped and we were engulfed in pitch darkness. And silence. Pin drop silence.

Power Failure? In Mumbai, a rarity. They'll switch to Generator Back-Up in a jiffy, I thought.

After a while, still no sign of Power. The Auditorium had become perceptibly warmer and I realised to my surprise that there were no noises of alarm from the Audience at all. Very strange, normally one would expect whistles and guffaws from the pranksters. Stranger still, it struck me that the bright red 'EXIT' signs on the Doors which were essentially meant for an Emergency were all turned off.

Now, this 
WAS enough ground for panic, if there was any: no voices, no light, just nothing. Difficult to describe how eerie it felt. Now the warmth inside was getting quite uncomfortable and I was sweating.

It occurred to me I could use the light from my Mobile display to help me get to an Exit door. There wasn't any display. Come on, now this is what panic does: I had switched it off at the start of the Movie! Problem was, it wouldn't switch on. Great, can't even make calls from it now.

I risked appearing foolish and shouted for help. Deathly silence. It was beyond my comprehension how a packed crowd could have disappeared into thin air? Wish I had joined them too.

DO SOMETHING, I told myself! GOD PLEASE HELP ME, at least NOW!

I first thought I was hallucinating when the Projector abruptly whirred into action and an Image of a flame appeared on the screen.

Am I going plain Bonkers???

The earthen lamp with a yellowish flame gradually came into sharper Focus. Although the Power supply still appeared to be off, a cool bluish mist appeared out of nowhere and engulfed me.

Unbelievably, I became calmer. I felt that the mist was making the flame appear bluish (not that I was in any mood to complain.) Gradually the small projection on the mammoth screen grew larger and just like in a 3D Movie, reached out to me. An indescribable experience and I was beginning to actually enjoy this. Noticed that all this while I had missed out on the gentle chirping of Birds and flute playing in Surround Sound! 

Gotcha! It was a Demonstration of, of....Holography! That's it, can't fool me, am too clever for you guys. Take on me! Its better than the 'Faster' stuff!

My eyes were now shut and the flame was now shining from inside me! It got bigger and and bigger until I felt as if I was a speck of dust shining like Gold in this Gigantic bluish flame dwarfing me.

In what seemed like less than a minute, I was in a trance the kind of which I had never experienced in my life- Serenity, Relaxation, Joy, Bliss, Contentment, these are the words which would best describe the state I was in.

When I did open my eyes, God knows after how long, I was feeling refreshed. I noticed I was alone in the Auditorium. The Lights were now on, the show had ended and apparently all the people had left.

There was a lone Doorman standing in the Foyer. Could I meet the Multiplex Manager, I asked him.

I shook hands with the Manager and congratulated him.
'The Demo of the Holographic system was simply Awesome!'
I gushed. 'Ho
wever, I have a complaint: Please warn your Audience about what they are in for. Certainly not for the weak-hearted!', I said, winking at him.

He looked at me as if I had landed from a recently discovered Satellite of a far off planet.

'What the hell are you talking about? We run the shows strictly as per the Schedule out there. I can guess about the holographic part, though. What have you been smoking?'

Having made a perfect fool of myself, I rushed out of the Mall to catch a breath of fresh air: needed it badly.

On the deserted road outside, a man grinned at me and said, 'Amazing experience, wasn't it?'

finally I had someone who knew what I was talking about.

'Were you there, too? But, hang on, when I shouted for help nobody responded. Guess, you must have been as scared as me!'

He just smiled at me warmly and said,
 'Gotta rush back for the next show!'

'You just saw it didn't you?' was my surprised response.

'That's my job, I'm the Watcher, the Enjoyer. I watch people cherishing that experience. I watch all of you.'

I was so stunned that my legs gave way under me and I collapsed in a heap right there on the road.

'Hey, wait! I have some questions to ask you!!'

The 'man' who now started appearing like the bluish flame I'd earlier seen, waved back at me without turning and carried on into the mall.

It dawned on me that I'd just met GOD.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Is Skin-Deep Beauty something to Aspire for so Desperately?

'Under-the-belt' Advertising

An Advertisement campaign of a self proclaimed 'Global No.1' Brand in inner-wear is just a glimpse of how often the youth are being fed wrong notions and aspirations by both the Advertising industry and more importantly the Producers of Goods and Services.

A half page Advert in India's leading English Newspaper goes like this:

' I'll marry Miss Universe or remain a Bachelor'
The Tag line:  '_ _ _ _ _ _ or Nothing' (The Brand name in the Blank)

Well, for one, how does being Miss Universe make a Woman superior to another? Just her stunning looks and Vital Statistics?

I feel sorry for the young hunk in the Ad: what if none of the Miss Universes is willing to oblige? Would Miss Earth be the next choice?

Or if even that does not work out, how about Miss Beautiful Hair, Beautiful Smile...Ah! That widen's the arena.

The Campaign runs into several situations with similar themes, as if to test our intelligence further.

Come on, give us something better than this!

Sensationalising, 'shock value', brazenness: These are the Buzz Words that are gradually replacing sheer Creativity and sheer Brand Appeal in Advertising.

No I'm not generalising either,the Deo's, Vests, Fairness Creams, et al are having a ball competing in the inanity contest.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Stress Kills, slowly but Surely...

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

We Adore you Sachin Tendulkar, Don't make us Hate you.

'A Chain is as Strong as it's weakest Link'

The ECB has taken a very, very brave step in accepting Kevin Peterson's retirement from T-20's and ODI's. It takes courage to let go a player in such red hot form, a proven Match-Winner.

When will BCCI bite the bullet? We do not have too many Rahul Dravids, unfortunately, who see the bigger picture.

The great Tendulkar refuses to quit ODI's. Not only that, he is selective about which ODI series he plays or not, disrupting the team's rhythm.

Well, Sir Vivian Richards says Sachin has earned the luxury of dong so, we should allow him to pick and choose so that we can see the Legend bat as long as possible.

My point is, no matter how great a player is, no matter how phenomenal his contribution to the game has been: The team should always come first. Winning is the foremost objective of all great teams.

Cricket can hardly be compared to Individual sports like Tennis where players can continue playing way past their prime. The focus on Individuals has proven detrimental to Indian cricket over the years.

When are the Players in RED HOT form- Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwari, Cheteshwar Pujara going to get a look in (if at all)?

THIS is the time to blood talented, proven youngsters to build a strong team for our World Cup defence.

As for Sachin, give him the opportunity to play one last series ( and get his 50 ODI Ton, too) and gracefully call it a day from the shorter version.

Nobody disputes his value as a Test Batsman, especially in a team sans Dravid and with Laxman at the fag end of his career. This move just might be what he requires to reclaim his status as the World's Best Batsman. I feel he still has something to prove to the doubters.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

OFFLINE? Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Just as you need to cut yourself from the outside world for a while each day to introspect and to find your bearings,
it might also be a good idea to wean yourself from the Internet, Social Networking sites in particular and gadgets once in a while.

A tall order? Indeed is, when virtual friends outnumber real ones, web surfing replaces physical discovery, 'Likes' on FB mean more to you than family feedback!

When was the last time you looked out of the window and really enjoyed the trees swaying in the wind?

Are you delighted by the sweet chirping of birds, the fresh smell of wet mud after the first rains? A fluffy, happy white cloud in a clear blue sky? The joy of hearing your favourite song at a cafeteria?

I love all of these, besides  a baby's smile, a walk in scenic surroundings, a creatively shot photograph, really funny lines..

You don't have to choose one above the other, that's the great part. Appreciate what life has to offer, enjoy the best of both worlds: the real and the virtual.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

With A Pinch of Salt! ( # 4)

My Friend who stays in his Residential Tower of 20 Floors

He had called me over for breakfast at his opulent 20 Floor Home.

Was sipping tea and taking in the sight of the magnificent Queen's Necklace, Marine Drive from the top floor Lounge area. The Breakfast spread was intimidating.

'You are just pecking at things, are you a sparrow?' He asked me 
'Called you over to discuss these troubled times. What with the ridiculously high Petrol prices and all.. How are common folks like you and me going to make ends meet?'

I nodded, almost choking on my Tea.

'Enough is enough: Leaders must lead by example. To save my Fuel cost, I have decided to jog down to my Office and back everyday. See, one has to make every attempt possible to be eco-friendly and save on Fuel costs. So I thought, why not invite you, my old friend to join me on my first 'Green' day out'

What a wonderful thought, I concurred.

So, after coming down  to terra-firma in his Express see-through Glass Elevator in barely seconds, out we ventured in early morning Mumbai Traffic headed to his Corporate Office (another 34 floor Tower) a few Kilometres away.

'You see, I have taken this seriously: You must be wondering how am I going to begin my day all sweaty and stuff. Have everything tied up. Have an exclusive Floor in my Office for freshening up, a Jacuzzi, separate Wardrobe with 50 white Shirts, Spa, the works!' he grinned while mopping his brow.

As we neared his Office I saw a fleet of 3 gleaming white Jaguars stopping right behind us.

'Oh, them? My Security guys. Won't leave me alone for a second!
Have been following us right through. So, tell me, what do you think of my protest eco-friendly measure?

Oh that? With such commitment, you are going to make one hell of a statement, I wryly replied.
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