Archive for the ‘Arbit’ Category

It’s taken a while to get to this. A while hoping that I would be able to get my thoughts in order to offer a structured incisive analysis but hey, who am I kidding? The events of last week just adds on to some of these similarly disquieting events over the past few months and all I have to offer are pop culture references and some bad jokes. If the post sounds even more incoherent and rambling than usual, we blame it all on Thanos

 

The detached sense is really from being an outsider. Not my country, not my problem right? But then, is that really true. The look on Obama’s face as he addressed the country the next day was the one that will truly stand out. A decent man looking at a shattered legacy. A man looking at his country that had let him down. Obama’s term has been marked by his powerlessness at times with opposition for the sake of opposition and he now foresees the corpse of his vision and achievement trampled under the gilded feet of a country and society that instead of looking to the future wants to relive the past

 

obama-trump

When it truly begins to sink in…..

 

But I really think the greater sense of sadness is how the vision of a world that is interconnected, global, open, tolerant and all the good things that we read about in books just seems to belong right there. Between Brexit and this election, one thing that clearly comes out is we are increasingly set for a world that is going to be inward looking to a greater extent. Isolationalism is pretty much going to be the core message and with elections due next year in Germany and France where the inward looking parties now emboldened by the success of bluster, rhetoric, half-truths and outright lies, can afford to dream of similar such results.

 

Of course, what everyone really failed to consider is the feelings of those people who voted for Brexit and Trump. These are people who have seen their way of life not improving much or even being bypassed by the nature of things around them and even worse, finding themselves being ridiculed and ignored. Their cause being driven by anger, their votes being their weapons, their voice has been found and it’s proven to be deafening

 

The importance of tech and growing automation is going to make this scenario repeat globally. Low skill jobs are vanishing, there is no stopping progress. To correct what I said, the value of low skill jobs is going down. There will always be someone to do it at a lower cost than what the job is actually worth but to that person, even that lower cost represents something more valuable when they have very little until technology reduces that cost even further. What however is undeniable is, people have to evolve and get more skilled. How does that work unless you get trained or study further. But college education is expensive, the debts are crippling and it’s hard. Why would anyone want to do that? Wouldn’t one rather have the government place a premium on ensuring that it’s citizens are well educated and subsidize education? But no, that requires for a courage to change the status quo, seeks consensus, build bridges and a lot of political will. Hence, the easier route is taken, pander to the lower common denominator since it’s easy and a decision that can be passed on the next generation

 

But as Dr. Ian Malcolm says in Jurassic Park – “the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way”. I would like to think that he meant that from a societal evolution as well. We will face bumps on the way, we may even appear to go backward but hopefully we will progress.

 

ian-malcolm

 

With regards to Trump, I would like to present one of my favorite comic book panels of all time where a comic book was used to make an in-joke on George W Bush

 

wolverine-spidey

The most politically meta comic panel of all time

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1)      Around 10 days back, I had the opportunity to visit campus for the summer placement process, this time from the other side (the dark side if you will, depending on where you are looking at). While a lot of things on campus have changed, the placement madness has most definitely not. The tense nervous stench that permeates the campus has not changed even after half a decade (sheesh, it has been that long). The faces may have changed but the expressions remain the same. The deathly stillness, the absolute freezing of the face muscles so as to not show any expression lest it be construed for weakness, quite a few students sitting together in a circle preparing while each wages an internal war, some confident, some mentally rehearsing, things just have not changed. Looking at things this time from outside in, one cannot help but wonder if there is an alternative to this process or are students & placement committee comfortable with the process. The reason for bringing it up arises from the fact that students who end up coming from interviews (especially once they see a decent chunk of their batch getting the plum offers) invariably are nervous, jittery & low on confidence. There is an air of desperation & the risk of trying too hard is quite significant as is the risk of making a bad choice & accepting an offer, just to get out of the process

 

2)      The charm of certain hole-in-the-wall eat-out spots lies in their role as a social leveler. It is the kind of place where the quality of food is so awesome that at any given time you can find people from various strata frequenting. One such place lies very close to Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore. It is a literal window in a house that opens out to the street & sitting at the window, a team of 4 cooks cook up a veritable delight to the senses through a range of South India dishes. This place has been in existence for over 15 years (by my reckoning or since I had something first there) & still the crowd remains while the fare remains as excellent as before. Proof being the plate of awesome bhajji that I polished off in no time

3)      Science Fiction movies, the one set on earth, have the same uniform color palette. It is bleak & usually in various shades of grey (No pun intended). It almost looks like color has been outlawed and grey is the only permitted color. Scorched earth & Scorched skies (usually a by-product of a nuclear war). I wonder if all of us (film makers & viewers) have such a pessimistic view of the future

8

Posted: July 3, 2012 in Arbit, Shorts

2052 AD

This was it. The final task, the final objective, the final labor. Labor eh? He mused to himself, at the thought of comparing himself to Hercules. May be he indeed was a modern day Hercules, striving to reach the pantheons of gods, in this case, the exalted group that mattered in the world. The Inner Group, that controlled & ran the world, all behind the scenes.

He sure had achieved a lot of things. Cracking into the vaults of Coke to steal their super-secret formula (at this point, he was tempted to think of an old time classic movie Kungfu Panda 2 & chuckled bitterly to himself), fostering peace between the warring factions of the middle east (Nothing that opening a chain of casinos & offshore banks, along with unlimited supply of liquor, could not solve),solving who really killed JFK (Alan Moore got it right, of all people), concluding the epic “A Song of Ice & Fire” (the 11th book “A Sliver of Summer” was finally released on the 30th anniversary of GRRM’s death & 10 years after the release of the 10th book “A Fall of the Wall”, following which the author chosen by GRRM to conclude the series committed suicide unable to bear the pressure), Solving Fermat’s Last Theorem, Defeating the Kobayashi Maru, Devising a fool proof DRS system & now the 8th task

Hercules was a singularly unimaginative, weak bugger who had to rely on the help of others to achieve his goal; he scoffed, mentally dismissing the comparison. On the other hand, what he had achieved was through his own efforts, his brain & technology that he had built.

Focus on the task at hand, he mentally chided himself. He walked down to the rendezvous point, an abandoned government building. Vaulting up the stairs, he reached the room where he expected the briefing for the last task to take place. Instead he found an envelope waiting for him & a terminal glowing away brightly in the corner. Strange, there had always been someone to brief him, he thought as he tore open the contents of the envelope & found a note inside. One side of the note had names with ages. A hit list. He was singularly disappointed. No subtlety, no challenge. Just some lives to be snuffed out.

He turned over the note & read with growing horror at the task set for him. It was terse & simple.

….

…..

“Book Tatkal tickets through the IRCTC website for the 6 people”.

And the clock struck 8

There are these days which start off bad enough, get progressively bad as the day goes and just when you think it cant get worse, it does.

Sigh, Yet another day in the life of a consultant

Randomly Yours

Posted: November 24, 2010 in Arbit, Randomly Arbit/Arbitly Randon

Quite excited about the Ashes. 2 middling evenly matched teams taking on each other in cricket’s oldest rivalry. Should be fun to watch. Despite all troubles, one can never really write Australia off. Those buggers quite never get the script on when to give up. England have quite a few things going for them in a preparation that has been quite Aussie like. However, lack of experience in Australian conditions for their bowlers is going to be a key factor. Too close to call. If you put a gun to my head, (Ok! I was just joking about the gun, now remove it) I would predict a 2-1 victory for the Aussies though I will be extremely happy to be proved wrong (After all, who does not like the Aussie team getting steam-rolled).

Somethings in life never change, Harris Jayaraj’s music being one of them. His music has this innate quality of being melodious and Damn-I-have-heard-this-tune-before feel right throughout and you enjoy it all the more. One gets the same feeling after listening to his compositions for Engeyum Kaadhal & Orange. Nenjil Nenjil reunites him with Harish Raghavendra and as usual, the song rocks as Harish seems to save his best for Harris. Lolita & Dhimu Dhimu has Karthik crooning away soft melodious numbers and when has Karthik never rocked. Orange has the Telugu version of Dhimu Dhimu but by far the best song is Sydney Nagaram. Quite damn hummable. Harris, good to have you back after ages, especially after listening to all the crap YSR composed

Something do change and Coimbatore happens to be one of that. Making a visit after 4.5 years is an eye opener. All familiar places have all changed except for the sign boards. NMB is now almost like a full fledged hotel cum bakery types. PSG with the bridge & new gates. Boomerang with its bigger premises (but with the same Titanic cake cum ice cream on display). So much traffic, mad roads, auto drivers who can give Chennai auto drivers a complex. Coimbatore, you have changed. Life seemed peaceful earlier

Speaking of peaceful, someone who certainly has not had a peaceful life is Aung Suu Kyi. Infinite salutes to your grace under fire, surviving the house arrest & the various atrocities that you might have seen and heard, and yet to never give up, now that is a courage of a special kind. Heres hoping that the junta under you take care of the Myanmar Junta.

Ever heard of the splinter in your brain that just keeps on digging deeper and deeper, you get to realize that its quite true.

And then there are shoulders that are cold. Ice cold. Dead Cold.

Straddling the fence is also a choice and a decision.

Dont you like sometimes want to just take something precious and hurl it with all your might and watch it break piece by piece in slow motion. Theres a perverse delight in that one second before you realize the magnitude of what has been done

Or sometimes, hear a scream and realize its just you doing the whole mental shout cos you just cant scream outside

Or just laugh, joke and smile around, creating a perfect defense mechanism

Or just realize that you are your best friend and worst enemy and sometimes it really does not make sense fighting so much with yourself.

or to just go to sleep and wake up ala Rip Van Winkle

Just one more random event in a life filled with them

The Ritual

Posted: November 12, 2010 in Arbit

The setting is always the same. He walks into Pushpa Saloon and the owner welcomes him with a smile, teeth gleaming, multiple gold chains flashing across his ever white, starched shirt, old 60s-70s hits Tamil playing through the radio while scissors flash furiously across the saloon.

It has been the same tableau right from when he was 8. Every 1st Sunday of every 2nd month, he would be marched into the saloon to await his turn along with all other kids. The owner would warmly greet him with a smile, put him at ease and ensure that he had to wait his turn ignoring all the impatience that an 8 year old who would rather be anywhere else, would display. When his turn would come, it would a simple hair cut, hair cut just enough that he would be brought back again in 2 months.

It was a simple saloon save for one factor. It was among the first saloons in Madras (then) to have air-conditioning and that justified the 2 rupee premium that the owner charged. A/C in those days of the early 90s was indeed a novelty and a luxury and spoke of the business mentality that the owner possessed. Apart from the saloon, he also scouted as a real estate broker, holding court in his saloon with other older men discussing the same or fielding calls on his telephone about the real estate. He was, in short, a small king of a small kingdom.

Time rolled by quickly. Madras became Chennai, India had opened up to new fashion and new way of living as the new millennium crept up closer, he grew up rapidly, entering into the rebellious teen phase, but some things still remained constant. He used to go the same place for his haircut, the owner welcoming him with a smile, teeth gleaming, the change being that now a haircut cost 25 and the owner had now upgraded his welcome to a “Vaaanga Thambi” (Welcome, younger brother) from the earlier “Vaa Paa” (Come, Boy). 3 chairs in the saloon had become 4, new barbers (they were still called barbers then) had replaced the old ones but the owner took it all in his stride, often lending a hand when needed. Neither knew each others name, to the owner, he was just another customer and for him, he was the saloon owner.

Soon, he moved to a different city for his college education and stayed in a hostel, making periodic visits back home. Being in a hostel, away from home, his rebellious tendencies increased and that extended to letting his hair grow wildly. However, whenever he used to visit home, in order to gain entry, he had to get his hair cut and he used to go to Pushpa saloon, be welcomed by the owner flashing the same smile. It became a ritual, though the rate steadily went up

Now, at the point in his life, when he can afford to go to swanky hair dressers, there is still this reluctance to shift away from Pushpa Saloon. He remembers the last time he was there at the saloon, where he was explaining to the owner he did not fancy paying anything more than Rs. 50 for a haircut and was promptly charged Rs. 60 for the haircut, which the owner attributed to inflation.

He walks into the saloon, the owner looks at him with the same smile, white teeth gleaming, gold chains flashing across the white shirt, this time though from a photograph

Dear Barack Obama (or POTUS, as I am sure your prefer to be addressed),

While one acknowledges the fact that you won a Nobel Peace Prize for being the person who replaced George Bush (one of best examples for being at the right place at the right time), it is indeed admirable that you are striving to win a similar global award for Environmental consciousness, through your visit to India.

Of course, one does admit, Diwali is indeed not a festival to be celebrated what with all the noise and pollution that it might offend your delicate American system (used to the head banging rock concerts and the bang of firearms). One certainly has to laud your drive in ensuring that atleast a part of the country is environmentally conscious. I mean, why should anyone in S Mumbai burst those offending creatures. They should all save up until they can buy the real thing.

Blockading S Mumbai is probably the best thing that you could have done. Imagine all the vehicular pollution that you would stop. Of course, the face that a lot of people would like to come down to S Mumbai has no bearing on your decision, while I am sure, that after Diwali, someone might want to travel to S Mumbai would have not cross your mind at all. I, of course, do admire your sense of the larger picture here. By preventing most people from coming down, you are proposing an innovative solution to prevent traffic jams. (Of course, I am sure you would extend the same courtesy to any head of state who visits you just after Christmas)

Of course, one is mindful of the agenda that you have in mind. Global issues dominate your very thought process and your very statements draw attention to that. American jobs, American companies, American economy, liability possibilities on American companies are of course key parts of your “global” agenda. Of course, terrorism and its after effects on India is a footnote in your agenda considering that you have signed off a $2.5B aid policy to “ensure” Pakistan’s good behavior. And how not a single dime of it “can” be used to support cross border terrorist activities. One day, after you retire, one does hope that they get a chance to understand the excellent monitoring systems that you have in place. One would like to use that in the IT companies to monitor employee activities that reduce efficiency like Facebook, Farmville, Boss-cribbing, Work-cribbing; an efficiency that is still higher than what one sees in American companies.

Of course, like any true capitalist, you are all for globalization until it affects you, after which you redefine globalization. One does admire the whole goal-shifting policy and wishes if it can adapted to my year-end process too. But digressions apart, it is a very positive move. Shouting against offshoring/outsourcing while asking for India to open its markets in the same breath. Total respect, I say. That a bit like the subsidies on farming that the western countries provide but I am sure, you will say, that I am missing the point totally and that is really not on agenda for your talks this time. Afterall, protectionism of any kind is wrong isn’t it

Of course, one has to be made aware of the fact that American suppliers and vendors are never wrong and using superior manufacturing practices, can never manufacture defective products. Which is why you are all against the liability provision with regards to nuclear supplies. Of course, Bhopal happened way when you were not president and you really cant be held responsible for anything that happened before your term like the Financial crisis.

Lastly, one wishes to express total support on your decision not to visit Golden temple, at Amritsar as wearing the headgear would make you look like a Muslim and that would very strongly upset your well educated American and send a wrong message.

Regards,
A Nobel Peace prize aspirer

Of being good but not good enough

I write like…..

Posted: October 1, 2010 in Arbit
Tags: ,

So I posted a random blog post of mine and this is what I got.

I write like
P. G. Wodehouse

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

PG Wodehouse must be turning in his grave furiously 🙂

– The best part about such weddings being the chance to meet up on all those distant and not-so-distant relatives whom you have not seen in the best part of a decade

– The not-so-best part being the innumerable questions directed towards you regarding your marital status, from the very subtle “Your mom is getting old and she might need some company at home” to the not-so-subtle “Get married soon” to the bull-in-the-china-shop approach of “You know there is this girl, some relative, eminently suitable, has done XYZ, would be a good fit for a MBA” to the Sreesanth level of pleasantry exchange of “how many kids do you have” (Ok, I made that last one up but then I am just surprised that one did not come up)

– The bigger challenge however lies in trying to explain to people what exactly you do for a living and what is consulting.
Typical conversations start off with
“So how is the IT market looking” asked ala Ravi Shastri looking at the 22 yard pitch
“Err, I am not in IT” deadpanned away the way Rahul Dravid would do to a length delivery on middle stump
“You are not in IT!!!!” Equivalent outrage to that of a person who being promised to be taken to Prince of Persia movie is instead taken to the Viveik Oberoi starrer Prince
Denying their categorical assumptions and after educating them suitably on “consulting” (Confuse + Insult = Consult), the concerned party looks as comfortable as Yuvraj Singh playing spin on a fifth day track
“So what project did you go to London for” an evasive question asked with evasiveness of Richard Nixon
After a few mins of explaining the project, they pounce in the way German strikers did on the English defence, ” It is an IT project!!!” and walk away with a satisfied smile

– Its almost unfair that the bridegroom gets to have something called the Kumara Bhojanam (Bachelor meal) before the Muhurtam while the bride “officially” starves. I use the word unfair as it seems to be an indicator to the bridegroom, “Enjoy your last good meal, you have no idea what your wife is going to cook for you”. They really should have a Kumari Bhojanam too (but then that would prevent the assorted nephews and nieces from doing something useful, as they scurry up and down and pass food secretively to the bride)

– One fails to understand the logic of having Muhurtams early in the morning. Imagine the pandemonium that would be caused if either the bride or the groom refuse to wake up, saying that they are really sleepy

– There always seems to be someone who knows all the songs that have to be sung in a wedding. Realization quickly dawns on the group especially the younger ones that most of these songs have already been remixed and reused in movies and then they join in with great gusto.

– Cant there really be a smokeless fire for the wedding? I am sure the inventor will make tons of money

– Another invention that can make tons of money is to have a latex mask ala Mission Impossible in the form of a smile, for those innumerable hours spent displaying a forced smile during the reception

– I have always wondered what happens in a situation where someone approaches the couple and each one thinks that it is someone related to the other person

– Easily the most important part of the wedding is the thulping session and I have always been amazed at how the caterers make the best appalams possible. There have been so many weddings where the food has sucked but the appalams rock

– Another battle of will and patience that the bride and the groom face are pesky sadistic well wishers who come to them and say “The food was great” knowing well enough that the poor things would be starving

PS: On a serious note, it is indeed a travesty that a single parent cannot actually do the rituals for their kids as traditions forbid it. Its pure bullshit. Imagine a parent slogging for his/her kid all their life and then probably on the most important day, not being accorded the simple pleasure of doing all the rituals that a parent should do. Injustice.

PPS: Thats the whole cousins gang lining up for the photo, breaking the queue and threatening people to have this pic taken

Cousins Gang

PPPS: Thats the whole family