Saturday, June 23, 2012

Truth; Be Damned

"Female foeticide is such a big social issue in India that India's Oprah is a guy."
[courtesy Kintan Brahmbatt, a FB friend]
Are we bored with our lives? Do we need to turn on the television to tell us where we're headed, whether North or South? And lastly, which is the biggest problem that we face in our everyday lives; ignorance, lies or inaction?

I appreciate Aamir's "honest" efforts to highlight and eradicate the perils faced by the "common man". A show that reaches out to the masses through various channels on a Sunday morning; Perfect timing for the "common man" to finish his brunch, check his facebook account (comment/like/share) and tune in to watch "Truth alone prevails." I have watched a couple of episodes, and my wife has filled me with the details of the rest. Honestly, I do enjoy the songs at the end but nothing more to it. I have never watched the Oprah Winfrey Show either, but I hold that lady and her show in high esteem (I can hear the murmurs of American television being more prominent than our desi ones). Only because her life has seen the facets of darkness that would put fiction to shame.

Aamir Khan is a great actor, and we applaud his ability to "be different" and create movies that reach out to the masses; a dyslexic child (Taare Zameen Par), the idiosyncrasy of our orthodox education framework (3 Idiots), and the voice of youth against corruption (Rang De Basanti). Perhaps, our admiration has reached to the limit where we shout, pump our fists and have an adrenaline rush seeing Aamir's bash the bad guys. I wonder if we ever discussed Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan as much as we discuss AK's efforts on screen. The former didn't have a TRP rating, only a 21-gun salute and he was forgotten (apart from the occasional updates on fb).

There is no other country in the world that enjoys movies and the life of their superstars as much as India does (probably Americans as well). And at times, we tend to look at the reel life rather than real life for motivation. Our personal life stories are drawn on the lines of a KKHH or DDLJ. So when our superstars step down to the common man's mantle, it's their screen image that's portrayed in our minds; How Sanjay Dutt became the epitome of Gandhian principles after a couple of Lage raho Munnabhai movies is food for thought.

I do understand that I'm going overboard with my criticism, but a look at the financial structuring of this program seemed to back me. The sponsorship deal of this series is "only" 24.99 crore (Dhobi Ghat was made at a measly budget of 10 cr) and a 10-second advertising slot costs 10 lakh. The show's producers include Aamir and Kiran. And Aamir (supposedly) charges Rs. 3 crore for each episode (wiki). I understand that it requires funding for a such a high-scale television program, but isn't it supposed to be a service for the public? Whose coffers are getting filled?

I didn't watch the episode pertaining to medical malpractices but I could feel the hurt within a few medical practitioners whom I know. For a life saved, they get a "thank you" and for one lost, hospitals are demolished and doctors, assaulted. Didn't we outsource the life-death scenario to God? So why sacrifice the poor doctors? Doctors are only professionals like Engineers. The hours spent in saving lives contributes to the service they offer, not the living they make out of it. And about selling generic medicines as brands, isn't everything related to making money? Don't our nation's politicians flag-bearers do the same?

After the first episode, I felt elated. I imagined this to be the change that our society deserved. But the surrealistic feeling came to an early demise on Monday morning when I read the papers. And it worsened over the week. Because nothing changed. The feeling was similar to the one after I watched a movie, eventually high hopes and lost causes.

"Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood.
Through truth the divine path is spread out by which
the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled,
reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides."

Go ahead, Aamir. As you termed it, "this is only a baby step" to making changes. We will wait till the day you take upon the really up-scale bad guys. No one should be spared, be it high-profile politicians, industrialists, sportsmen or media. And then we'll stand up and salute the actor who likes doing things differently. And yeah, Mrs. Ambani can as well let out her $1 billion house to the victims of all these atrocities. Practice what you preach, life is beyond IPL and films.
"Lets play truth or dare
Or just dare because
Nobody tells the truth anymore"
- One Tree Hill

P.S: Critics would comment that this article is an act of hypocrisy. I'm neither paid 3cr for publishing this blog nor bothered about increasing blog traffic. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

& Found..

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

August 15th 2006. Some days in our lives remain etched in memories. This was one of those days. We had returned from a trip that signaled the end of our student lives (at least for most of us). I was with two of my closest friends when our final semester results got published. Both of them were celebrating the fact that the tip of the Engineering iceberg had been conquered. And one of them had just landed a job with Infosys. I stood in a corner, shrinking away from their limelight as reality served me a knock-out punch. While India celebrated it's 59th year of Independence, I was shackled by the chains of incompetence and misfortune.

"If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again."  ~Flavia Weedn

In the midst of my miseries, I interviewed for a BPO job. I cleared the first four rounds, but stumbled at the final block. It sunk me deeper into the black hole that existed, but also gave me a slight glimmer of hope. I wasn't capable of clearing my exams, but I could surely find myself a job. And that's where it all started. 

Someone once said, "when you reach the end of the rope, tie a knot and hang on to it till you find solid ground." I did just that; I hung in longer than I ever did before. A friend of mine planned to travel 150 kms to attend an interview, and wanted me to join him. I pondered over it for a couple of days before deciding to go ahead with it (thanks to my dad who convinced me it would work out). I remember entering the room for my first round of interviews (after clearing a written test). The gentleman posed a simple proposition. Three different puzzles; If I could clear them, I would be through to the next round. And the rest as they say is history. I cleared a dozen puzzles before being offered the job. Over the next year, I made my journey to clear my exams and finally graduate as an engineer.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.  ~Edmund Hillary
Today life has come a full-circle. I finally stopped living in the halo of my abilities and slogged my back-side off for the last six years. I've understood and reiterated that there's no substitute for hard-work & perseverance. For an audience, pulling a rabbit out of a hat looks simple, but only the magician understands the practice to make it happen. Our abilities get us to certain places, but to sustain we need to take our chances and break-our-backs with the rest of the world, at times out-do them.

Whenever I come across an obstacle or a realm of darkness, I remind myself that the beacon of light is not far-away. And as Robert Frost wrote,

"Two roads diverged in a wood, And I
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lost & Found


"I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." - Alice in Wonderland

After a long hiatus, I'm (presumably) back. To be honest, it started feeling a little weird without the comforts of this blog. There are a few reasons (we always have something or the other) that have kept me in the wilderness. Firstly, a new job has forced me to spend more time at work and the commute is longer as well. Secondly (and most importantly), I don't have access to my blog at work (with due respect to my previous employers :D). So when I feel like blogging, I don't feel the surge of creativity. And when I get into the mood (usually while riding the bike), I can't pen it down. Finally, when push came to shove, I donned my headphones, added my favourite songs to the playlist and started.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." ~ Jack London

So what do I write about?
a. My new job encompassed in the garden of Eden
b. The tale of my cellphone usage (Addict to allergic)
c. A new Indian president, rising inflation costs, a swooning GDP or the damned petrol hikes.
d. None of the above.

I decided to get on a time machine and travel back to the past

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“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.”

     The idea is far-fetched, but I felt that it would make sense to screen a movie on my blog. So, sit back, relax and watch the screen flicker as the reel is on the move.
(1984 - Present)
Do I like the letter "F"? Yes, when it stands for Football, Friendships & F**K (I meant Facebook, though the number of stars weren't matching). It makes me uneasy when it stands for Fail, Failed & Failure.

I was 7, and forgot my part in a play when my teacher termed me a failure. I caught up with stage fright, and it took me almost half-a-dozen years to get my confidence back. In my 6th grade, an F was introduced to my scorecard for the first time (in Malayalam - straight-faced, Humbug!). I never took a liking to Malayalam after that, and within a year moved it out of my languages (I took a second English, most called it "Special" English, I termed it "Additional English"). When I reached 11th grade, I misinterpreted the exam timetable for the internals and studied Physics for the Chemistry exam. The exam was a disaster, and another "F" adorned my grades (Quite surprisingly, I failed the Physics exam as well). In the sidelines, I gave up TT (my all-time favourite sport) after breaking a TT table.

During the first year of Engineering, I couldn't comprehend with Electrical Engineering and gave up studying the subject. It wasn't surprising when most of the class failed in EE, but my Chemistry followed suit (let's admit, it was never part of my platter, that organic, inorganic crap). As the tears dried, I decided that it would have to be "Faimuse es qot en oktiom" (without realising it meant "failure was not an option").

It didn't take a lot of einsteinesque efforts for people to term me a failure. My college principal spoke to my parents and conveyed the fact that I was among the bottom ten of the college. And sinking in the trauma of supplementary exams, I actually wondered if I was a failure.


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