Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Looser Who Won

I am backing out.
What ?? There is no going back. A yes is a yes.  I have already paid 2000 Rs to Zafar. Gaurav is also contributing 1000 Rs.
Ok, fine. I will pay the rest. I know, My promotion treat has been long due. Raj was poked enough number of times for his treat, so as to concede defeat.
This treat would be one of its kind, a treat no one else would have given to anyone.
May be (pause). I have not been to many treats, So how would I know ??
Yes, let’s make this diwali night memorable for all of us. A night, I am sure, we all will never be able to forget in your lifetime.

As his moped left a trail of thick black smoke, Raj kept staring at the circles formed by it, wondering if it were a noose, tightening around his neck. He used to be a good boy, in fact in his college days, he was so dumb, a special award was constituted to honour people like him. And, today he is going to get a bravery award for something, he would never imagined even in the wildest of his dreams. Trin.. Trin.. Trin.. Raj was woken from slumbers by the all-too-familiar Nokia ringtone.

Hey Raj. Happy Diwali, man.
Same to you man.
What are doing on Diwali ??
Nothing special.
Come over, I have few friends gathered, after bursting crackers, we plan to drink. You want to join ??
I don’t drink, man. What will I do ??
You can have some Fanta, man. Come over.
Ok, I am in.

Chetan was due to come back by 9. A glance at his wrist watch gave Raj some relief, It would be another couple of hours, before we will have our surprise. Raj is sure, he will be back in time. 

Are there any more crackers left ??
No dude, we are all done with crackers.
I am feeling hungry, man.
Let’s order some chicken. Chicken goes along very well with Red Wine.

The chicken arrived in no time. There was a KFC outlet very close. Who are these people, working even on Diwali nights, delivering happiness to their customers. Raj felt very sorry for the delivery-boy. This world can never be the same for the rich and the poor. Raj wished him Happy Diwali with a cosmetic smile on his face and offered a generous tip. Inside the room, everybody was busy pouring lemon onto their glasses of Vodka.

No fanta for me. Raj almost screamed, taking everyone by surprise.
Why ??
I want to drink.
Really ?? Dude, this is not Red Wine. This is Vodka, the real wine.
I want to give it a try.

The first sip induced a burning sensation near his threat, but Raj somehow managed to swallow it.

Not Bad, Raj. I had vomited my first sip, you did a lot better.
Second sip onwards, Raj started enjoying the taste of Vodka.
Another glass for me.
Are you sure ??
Yes, I am.

No body knew, what occurred to Raj on that fateful Diwali night, but he kept on drinking, as if there was no tomorrow. There was something heavenly about Vodka. Raj can only vaguely recollect a Russian story from his school days, when a farmer was made aware of beauties of Vodka by an imp. Though, it was just a story and the imp just an imp, Raj somehow felt imp's presence in that room, as if he was talking to him. Remember...After first glass, you all will become fox ...

Hey, Raj. Don’t you want to go home. We are done with drinks. Raj's body was being vigourously shaken, but Vokda magic was not going away soon.
I don’t think, he will wake up. Let’s not waste time.
We had a great time today, hadn't we ??
Ya, man. Raj turned out to be a dark horse. 
What is the time ??
It is already well past midnight.
No wonder, I am feeling sleepy.

All of them were now lying one after the other, just like pigs in a pool of mud (After 3 glasses, you will become a pig). Suddenly, the infamous Nokia ring-tone made its present felt.

Shit, man. What an irritating ring-tine ??
Must be Raj.

Raj was not known for his taste of music, but this ring tone was too bad, even by his standards.

Hey, Venkat.
Is Raj still there ??
Yes, he is (pause) but sleeping.
Really ?? Tell him his surprise is here. What is he doing there ?? Would not he want a taste of his surprise ??
No man, he is drunk and fast asleep.

Even though Venkat's voice was loud and clean, Chetan tried adjusting the volume of his handset and requested Venkat to repeat his words

Drunk and Fast asleep.
Almost in disbelief, When did he start drinking ??
Only today.
Poor chap. The surprise would be here only for a night. He missed out on some real fun.

Next morning, when Raj reached his flat, he was informed of the surprise and the opportunity missed. It is better to be a clean pig than a corrupt human. Raj won’t get the bravery award, as planned earlier. But he is not sad. He has not won many awards in his life, but this was one award, he was happy loosing. 

As Raj readied himself for an important meeting in office, Chetan’s voice was still echoing in the room, You looser, You looser ...

Saturday, December 08, 2012


I don’t know why people always mistook him for being a hard-nosed person.When I got close to him, I felt he was more like a coconut, hard only on the periphery, but very soft deep within. May be, people never got too close to him to find out his true colours. Though, he was very neatly dressed, as would be a village-chief, there was nothing flamboyant about his looks. A cream-colour dhoti along side a translucent, somewhat oversized, silk-kurta was probably doing justice to his body. A turban was sitting atop his head, reminding me of a character in a Rajasthani play, I witnessed in my college days. I am not good at guessing numbers, but he looked to be in his early forties. But, I was soon proven wrong, when I noticed the black spots on his face, reminding me of times when vaccine for chicken pox was still elusive and being developed. My mother used to tell me rich people never grow old, looking at him, I felt she was right. May be, Rich people know how to defy their age and time.

I had heard from my friends that he hardly opens up in front of strangers, so I was taken by surprise, pleasantly though, when he offered his hand. Those were probably the hardest and roughest hands that I ever had a handshake with.

I know, this is not the ideal time to ride the train, today being cattle’s fair in neighbouring villages. So along with human beings, you will also have goats, sheeps, calves as your company. But this is now how it usually is. You should give this train another try.

Though, it was stinking inside the compartment, somehow, his kind and empathetic words made me forget the stink for a moment.

Hey, don’t tie the cycle to this window, can’t you see, I am sitting in this compartment, he was shouting at the top of his voice, as he announced his arrival.

You could have taken a bus or a boat, why did you choose this jam-packed train, MukhiyaG asked me.

Where else you can ride for free ?? I promptly replied.

MukhiyaG burst out laughing. I appreciate your honesty. Not many people from town are like that.

MukhiyaG had this wrong notion of people, living in cities, to be mean and dishonest. I don’t know what he saw inside me, but he started opening up in our conversation.

Do you live in town ??

Yes, I do. Why did you come to the village then ??

I am returning from a pulse polio drive in neighbouring village.

How about you ?? I asked back.

What will I do in town ?? I am a damn villager. Only once in my life before, I have been to town, when I went to drop my daughter. You know, there are no colleges in village, so I had no other choice, but to send her to town. Today is the second time, I am going to town. My daughter wants me to see her new campus, her new hostel, her new college building, her new life.

The discussion was becoming more and more personal.

But why did you send her for further studies ?? The moment, I uttered those words, I felt like crossing the line. I wish I could take back my question.

See, Girls at my daughter’s age are being married off, some of them have even become teenage mothers, but I wanted my daughter to be different. I want her to set an example for others to follow. Girls are not meant only to be homemakers and baby-generating machines.

Very brave. MukhiyaG was living up to his billing of a fierce communist warrior.

Which college does she study ??

R.S.M College.

Is not that too hi-fi a college ?? I have seen boys and girls roaming around freely holding each others’ hands. Aren’t you afraid your daughter will forget her roots.

No, not at all. I have infinite trust in her.

I hope, your trust remains intact, I kept my thoughts to myself.

If you don’t mind, I want you to introduce to my daughter.


Will she be there at the station ??

Yes, she should be waiting for me.

As the train crossed the last unmanned signal, I knew, the end of our journey was near. I pulled out the glasses out of my short’s pocket, MukhiyaG adjusted his turban and stood motionless.

Oh man, people have already blocked the door. How will I get down ?? MukhiyaG was increasingly getting worried.

Don’t worry, I will help you. And the train will stop for nearly 5 minutes, so we have enough time. I tried calming MukhiyaG nerves.

The train came to a screeching halt. People started shrieking, almost crushing the cattles seated next to the toilet. MukhiyaG eyes were scanning the platform, searching for his beloved daughter.
                                                  To Be Continued ...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Impulse Of Theft

Do you know, what is common in all districts across 25 states of Republic of India.
What ??
All of them have a Gandhi Maidan of their own.
Really !! Raj was taken by surprise. The father of this nation deserves that much respect, Papa.

Raj had come to witness a cricket match between Supaul, his hometown and Kadampura, an archrival. As Raj prepared to gauge this big playground called Gandhi Maidan, he noticed few gentlemen defecating in the open, that too in full public view. Not too far away, there was a foundation stone, laid for a proposed public toilet. Raj went closer and tried deciphering the date, but he could only read the year. 1980. Holy cow. He was not even born !! As his eyes rolled further, he saw a little pond, whose water was barely visible, after being overtaken by water hyacinths. Inside the pond, a herd of buffalos were having fun. Barely ten feet away, people were using the same water for sanitary purposes. Is this people’s idea of giving respect to father of the nation, Raj kept his thoughts to himself.

Raj had come to witness a cricket match between Supaul, his hometown and Saharsa, an archrival. As usual, it was a hot and sunny afternoon. Raj wondered, why all cricket matches are played under scorching heat. Can’t they be played out in night ?? Just last night, he had heard on radio his favourite cricketer Kapil scoring a thrilling century under the lights. When will my hometown have a day-night encounter ?? Raj asked himself. That will be the day, my dear friend, Pinku replied. That will be the day, when Supaul will host a day-night cricket match. Let’s focus on the match at hand. We have lost the toss and are fielding first.

Pinku, though 5 years elder than Raj, got along very well with him. He was instructed by Raj’s mother to keep a tab on Raj’s mischiefs and used to accompany Raj, wherever he went. Of-late, they had formed a cricket team with Raj at the helm of affairs and Pinku as his sidekick. They used to charge 1 Rs per month to all team members, except Raj, who had volunteered to donate a thick wooden-slab as cricket bat and Pinku, who had creatively designed some cricket equipments, like pads, arm guards using jute-sticks and discarded clothes. They used to play mostly with plastic ball, but occasionally experimented with heavy charcoal balls. Almost everyone had this long-cherished dream of playing with a leather ball also known as DUES BALL or ORIGINAL BALL. Though, they never ventured inside Gandhi Maidan, reserved exclusively for big guys, they used to be restricted to a corner at the periphery of the playground. Unfortunately, this particular stretch of land also used to be a favourite hunting ground for a group of hungry pigs and their arrival used to signal end of the day’s play. Occasionally, one of those big guys Karia used to pay a visit and teach them few basics of game especially fielding. But then fielding was never their idea of fun, it was meant for someone who was not good at batting or bowling. So they hardly listened.

We had our first ball of the match bowled. Oh no, it has been smashed to the boundary. Really. Yes, but no worries, it is going to be caught. Raj pointed his fingers towards the ball, as it was making its way towards the palms of Karia, our star fielder. But then tragedy struck. At the last moment, Karia lost sight of the ball amidst the sunshine and the ball thudded into one of his eyes. He was down on the ground, writhing in pain. All of us rushed towards our star fielder, only to see that he was lying unconscious, bleeding through his eyes and nose. It was a serious accident and organizers decided that the match be called off. As the crowd started dispersing, so did we. Some reserve players took it as an opportunity to practice and started throwing dart-balls around. 

As we were passing by, suddenly we noticed one ball rolling along the ground, as it hit one of us. This was our dream ball, the DUES BALL, the ORIGINAL BALL. As Raj picked it up and stretched his arms diagonally to throw it back, Pinku stopped him and whispered in his ears “We won’t get a better opportunity to own a ORIGINAL BALL”. Raj was confused, on one hand, he had his moral values, his upbringings, which always prevented him from bads and on the other, he had his dream right in front of him, lying almost unclaimed. Raj chose to go with his dreams. But how do we hide it ?? This is so big in size. Raj replied back with a voice barely audible to Pinku. Don’t worry. I will take care of it. Pinku used to wear shorts, which used to have custom-designed deep pockets. He safely pocketed the ball and started walking nonchalantly, as if nothing has happened. Though, his pocket had ballooned outwards, which could potentially make people suspicious, Pinku put one of his hands in other pocket, forming a fist, so as to make both pockets look natural. Before reaching home, they checked it again. As they rolled their fingers around the cherry, they felt proud of their prized catch, almost blinded by the shine of leather ball.

Hey Sumit, see Karia has given us THE DUES BALL, THE ORIGINAL BALL
Really !! Sumit said, almost in disbelief.
Yes. Ask Raj. He was also there
Hey Raj, is Pinku right ?? Did Karia really give us this ball ??
Yes, Sumit. Raj affirmed his response.
I don’t believe you guys. Just, look at this ball. It is shining bright. All the threads along the center are intact. It is a brand new ball. Why would Karia donate us a new ball ?? No matter how generous he may be, if at all, Karia were to give us a ball, he would have given us a used ball. Why on earth, he will donate a new ball. I am sure, this is an act of theft.
No, not at all. Trust us.
I don’t. Don’t fool yourselves, guys. I would never indulge in theft to fulfill my dreams. This is not done, yet. You will surely have to pay for this. May not be today, but in future. Someday, God will take his revenge.

Life moved on. Raj went on to become a high-flying corporate executive, a ridiculously priced management-consultant, doling out invaluable advises to his clients. He headed many companies before becoming a member of board-of-directors at one of the fortune 500 companies, TechnoLabs.

Pinku went on to become a stock trader, plying his trade on Mumbai’s famous Dalal Street. Sumit was happy playing second fiddle to his seniors in a local government office.

Suddenly, their world was shaken by this tsunami called recession. Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, others followed suit, bringing the world economy down on its knees. No one was spared, no one. Traders started shutting shops left right and center. Raj’s clientele suddenly pruned down to single-digit, as corporate houses tightened their budgetary expenditures and consultants were the first one to be axed. Pinku was almost on streets, having suffered massive losses. Amidst all this mayhem, Sumit’s life went on smoothly.

Today is a big day. Raj has been accused of a million dollar inside-trading fraud involving Pinku. As Raj stood in front of a life-size mirror, he started searching for answer as to why he fell prey to lure of wealth. Just why ?? He can’t help but go back to that incident involving Pinku and Sumit. Even though the incident happened nearly 25 years back, Sumit’s voice was as loud and clear as it was back then. You will have to pay for this. You will have to pay for this. Was that an impulse ?? Yes, it was. It was an impulse of theft, an impulse of greed, which took over his conscience and made him call his penniless broker friend Pinku about TechnoLabs’ past quarter’s earnings only to help Pinku make a killing on trading circuits next day.

Let the trial begin, judge strikes the gavel and orders start of proceedings. As Raj prepares to defend himself, he wonders, will he ever be able to forgive himself for that one impulse ?? May be. May be not. The proverbial remorse stays deep into his heart.

PS: This was written as part of a Story Hack organized by Campus Diaries at Bangalore Writers' Club.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Unanswered Myths

Mom, you are so boring. Get a life. Don't sleep with your head facing north. Don't eat facing west. Don't wash your hands in plate after a meal. If you fast on this day, you will go to heaven. If you do this, you will go to hell. You shouldn't travel south on Thursdays. I am sick and tired of it. Who created these mindless rules that we mortals are supposed to follow ?? How does it matter to us ?? A 10-year old kid complained, treating his mother's advice with disdain.
It matters my son, it matters, a concerned mother echoed her sentiments.
How ??
Remember, I told you some time ago. There is a reasoning behind everything.
What reasoning ??
You know, these rules were not created yesterday, they have been in existence since eternity. Before you know the history behind these rules, you would also have to know how we human beings were created. Shall I start ??
Sure, the kid nodded his head in acceptance.
These rules were prevalent among Gods as well. At one point, the almighty wanted to teach offenders a lesson. So he sent the most erring god to rot as human being on earth. Back then, there was no soil, no water, no aid, not trees, not even air.
Then ?? The excitement was slowly building in kid's eyes.
Nothing. The lone God on earth felt insulted at his eviction, but took it into his stride and started creating a parallel universe, a world of his own. He used his super-natural powers for all this. He created trees, so that we could find shelter underneath. He created air, so that we could breathe. He created soil, so that we could cultivate it and grow food for ourselves. He created these rivers and oceans, so that we could get water. He created those birds, so that we could hear them chirp. That's how our surroundings were formed.
How did we came into existence, Mom ??
After the lone god on earth spent nearly a million years and used up most of his powers, the almighty finally decides to forgive him. So he ordered him to come back to heavens. The god on earth refused almighty's request. He didn't want to leave the earth and the world, created by him. Was he homesick ?? Perhaps. This angered the almighty a great deal and he took away all his powers and cursed him to become a mortal and rot on earth forever, all alone. That's how we human beings came into existence, got it ??
Yes, But how one turned into a billion, mom ??
Before the almighty cursed him, he granted him a final wish. You know, what did he ask ??
What ??
He asked for a soul-mate, somebody he can share his feelings with, somebody he can co-exist with. Almighty had no choice, but to grant him his final wish. They made love and ended up being our ancestors.
OK, I got it, how we came into existence. But, you still have not answered my question. Who created these damn rules, who ??
Humans like you and me, who else ??

PS: This was an exercise on creation mythology and I chose to give it a contemporary touch :-)

Friday, November 02, 2012

Like Father Like Son

Is this what your report-card has to say ? An angry John slammed the door behind, as his son Paul lay busy with his video-game. Get me a cup of coffee, honey. Inside the room, Miley was inconsolable, Her face was completely blank, expressionless, as was her body, motionless. I could have never imagined in wildest of my dreams that my son will do acts of this kind.
What has he done ??
You don't know.
No, I don't. How would I know ?? John asked with a bewildered look on his face.
No different. After all, he is your son, is not he ??
What ?? John almost fell off his chair.
Oh My God, does he even know, what he has done.
By now, John's tone was soon becoming that of an anxious father, worried about his children's future.
Don't worry, I will speak to Paul, John said with a concerned voice.
Who are you to give moral lecture to my son ?? Miley's voice suddenly changed to that of a roaring lioness. Remember your late-night meetings and your busy schedule with your associates. But, you are an adult, you can get away with all that, but not Paul. He is only 15, he is still a bloody minor. We are paying for your sins. Go hang your head in shame. John kept starting at the tiles with his head bowed.
There is still hope, we will talk to Paul. We will solve it John, just like those issues. As they opened the door, they found Paul eavesdropping on their conversation. Papa, you are a cheat. Mummy loved you so much and you did this to mamma. Shame on you. "Like Father Like Son", Paul said unabashedly. The chandelier in the room was still emitting pale light.

PS: This was an exercise on dialogue-writing, where A and B had to talk about a taboo thing their relative C has done/gone through and they themselves have had issues of similar kind in the past.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Escape

My mornings are always greeted with an unpleasant alarm, which sounds more like a malfunctioning sewing machine. I was still rubbing my eyes, preparing to take my first yawn of the morning, when I heard someone shouting at top of his voice "Hurry Up. It's getting late for the school". As I got up from my bed, I started feeling jealous of my neighbour-next-lane taking gentle bath. I don't even remember the last time, I had a bath. Looking at my neighbours having fun with soap and water, I wish, I could be like one of them.

I halfheartedly pack my bags and get ready to be dropped to school. As I see my fellow classmates, zooming past me at lightening speed, I wish, I could be like one of them.

Time for some breakfast.

As I wait for my food to be served, the same mundane grass, I get to eat every single day, I look at the sumptuous food, being served to other classmates right in front of my eyes. As I see my classmates feasting on them, I could taste those delicious dishes one day.

As I land in my school, no body looks at me. As my classmates rush to take front seat, I feel isolated. I find a corner in a big class room to make peace with. Teachers keep coming and going throughout the day, but no body seems to be bothered about my presence. I waited for my turn, which never arrives.

As sun was preparing to wave good-bye, I suddenly heard a kiss of death. I watched myself helplessly being thrashed from all different corners by none other than my fellow classmates. I cried for help, but to no avail. I tried running away, but there was no escaping their clutches.

Time to pack your bags, folks.

As I waited for my turn to be picked up, I wondered why I am always the last one to be picked. As I see my classmates making their way in front of me, I wish I could be like one of them.

When I reached home, somebody seem to be angry with me. I was still searching for a reason, when I received a tight slap on my face. Your Punishment for the day; "Go to bed on empty stomach". While my neighbours have the luxury of sleeping under a shade, some fortunate ones even have a spacious bedroom, I have to fend for myself under an open sky. As I see my fellow neighbours being caressed to sleep with warm cotton mattress draped around their body, I wish, I could be one of them.

Battered and bruised, I lay down on my bed, nothing but bare floor. With my eyes closed, I start dreaming about the day of my escape. A dream, I know, will never materialize. But the proverbial perennial hope lingers on.

PS: This was an exercise on personalization and my pick was a discarded vehicle at a driving school.

Monday, October 15, 2012

An Inconvenient Truth Continued ...

Can you see something in the sky ?? Raj pointed his forefinger towards a non-existent aeroplane in the sky.
Gopi : No Raj, I can't see anything
Suhash : I can see some birds and blue sky underneath.
Raj (with a touch of arrogance) : It is like Arjun. Only I can see, what other can't see. Someday, I have to ride that aircraft (fingers pointing towards vacuum) and be airborne over this village.

What would you want, Sir. Tea or Coffee ?? The air-hostess's sweet voice kissed Raj's eardrums and woke him up. Black coffee without sugar, ma'm, Raj promptly replied.

Raj : Can your father give me a drop to station tomorrow night ??
Gopi: Sure, he can.
Raj: Promise
Gopi: Promise.

As the cows started coming home, Raj was busy packing his bags. It was the shriek of an owl on a mango-tree, that started worrying Raj. It was nearly 7 and Gopi's father was no where to be seen. Suddenly, he heard someone knocking on his door frantically and shouting Raj Raj, Where are you ?? Raj rushed outside only to see Gopi with his father's hand-pulled rickshaw. Are you ready ?? Yes, I am. But where is your father ?? He is lying on a deathbed running high temperature. But don't worry, I am here. Raj didn't waste anytime and boarded the rickshaw. Along the way, Gopi picked his father and had him sit next to Raj. He was barely recognizable with this face turned pitch dark, even though it was a full moon, his face was hardly visible to Raj. This is no ordinary fever, Gopi, Raj exclaimed with a concerning tone. Yes, this is no ordinary fever. This is dengue, that's why I am taking him to a doctor's place. Raj had read about dengue only in his school-text books, so he remained oblivious to the real pain, Gopi's father was going through. After plenty of anxious moments, finally they reached the station, minutes before the train left. As Gopi waved goodbye to Raj, last words came from his father : A promise is a promise. I kept mine, I hope you will keep yours.

Veg or Non-Veg, the chef's voice broke the silence inside the waiting room and woke Raj from his slumbers.

PS: These two pieces on "An Inconvenient Truth" were written as part of a writing workshop, hope to complete it soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Inconvenient Truth

As Raj got down from the general compartment of the local train, he hardly noticed any changes to the railway-station, he had last seen nearly 25 years ago. As he prepared himself to incline his trolley so that it could stroll along, suddenly a 10-12 years old child came and with a pleading tone said "Aap kasht kyon karte hain Malik , Hum hain naa". This was Mohan, son of Gopi, with whom Raj had spent his entire childhood with. Gopi's father used to ferry Raj's parents and grandparents, now it was Gopi's son's turn to ferry Raj's children, even though Mohan himself was not much older than Raj's kids. As Raj looked around, he noticed the same set of sweet shops, with the number of flies comfortably outnumbering the number of sweets, same set of tea-stalls, except for a new whitewash and some new brands of packages water and namkins. Some children in their early teens were still roaming naked, playing around the discarded station-building and rail tracks.

As Raj made his way through the station on a hand-pulled rickshaw pulled by a minor, he wondered : Though the world continues progressing, the law of natural progression seems to have deserted this village. The village almost defies the law of nature. Who is responsible ?? He murmured. Deep down, he knew the answer, but he was too ashamed and frightened to admit it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Giant Goggles at Google !!

When we first told MAD children that as part of Placement Activity, we are going to visit offices of Google, almost all faces in the classroom drew a blank. They had seen Goggles, on their favourate hero/heroine's eyes, but never heard anything about a company called Google. So we had to explain a bit.

  • Google is like a book available to everyone for free, which can be used for searching anything and everything. The number of pages in Google "book" is way more than anybody's imaginations, we could see some confused faces, as if to suggest it would definitely take some effort to carry the Google "book" :-)
  • Google can tell you how far your father's office or your home is from your school. Now, we could see some interest building up.
  • Sitting right inside your room, you can take a tour of entire world, including places you have never been to, places you always want to see. We could see some excitement in the class.
  • Google is a dream company for most of the people, working in IT firms. 

Now we could gauge the mood in the class, almost everybody was ready, all they wanted to know were the dates of Google campus visit !! And when we told them about the SECRET SANTA gifts for the kids during the visit, their excitement just increased many-fold. Only later, we came to know that as many as 75 kids had written letters to Santa, some of them as many as 10 days prior to the visit.

So, here we go to Google campus with a batch of MAD students,with their eyes filled with dreams ,faces lit with smiles & hearts full of happiness & Joy. When we stepped in Google's awesome campus, kids were amazed that people work here (They thought, why would someone waste his or her time working, this was a campus tailor made for playing !!). Once we completed the tour of Google campus, we had an awesome lunch inside Google Cafeteria. This was followed by some very good career oriented sessions from heads of different departments at Google, like Facilities , Security , Catering and House-Keeping. The educational session was closed by a 1 hour session by one of the Senior Manager (Director) at Google, which really motivated our kids a lot. They also got a chance to know more about Google's products like Google Maps, Google Earth, which truly amazed them a great deal.

Once the "classes" were over, it was time for fun and play !! They walked into Google Theater room and started watching lot of videos, cartoons on a Big Screen. It was also an occasion to put theory learned during prior sessions into practice. They started taking a tour around Bangalore using Google map. They started exploring the world using Google Earth. Starting with the great Taj Mahal, they saw all wonders of the World and many other places, they get to hear about/see only in books and stories. Their adventure was complete with a great homecoming with their Hostel's building (including its lush green playground) in a Big Screen :)

The jaw dropping silence, the Oohs, the Aahs, the Wows were a treat to watch for all the fellow MAD volunteers.

But picture abhee baki thee, The Google story was far from over, there was more to come in form of a secret Christmas gift for all the kids. Any guesses, who was going to give them these gifts ?? Santa, ofcourse !!  So on the D-day, when they finally got a chance to meet their Santas, the joy in their eyes was absolutely priceless.

We were somewhat skeptical of how the children would feel at the end of the day. Will they be in awe of this great company called Google and amazing environment inside Google campus ?? But at the end, it turned out to be one of the most exciting and awesome Placement Activities at MAD. Thanks to Google for giving us an opportunity to MAD children, Thanks to MAD for being a facilitator for these under-privileged kids’ and last but not the least Thanks to all MAD volunteers for putting up a wonderful show and instilling the belief in all MAD students that "Don't Stop Believing" !!

This blog post was submitted as part of my application for "Blog Admin" for an awesome organization called MAD (Make A Difference). The task was to clean up the following sample post, make it presentable, and ready for the internet audience and this was to be done without changing the original intent of the author.

Sample Write Up

"Eyes filled with dreams , Faces lit with smiles & Hearts full of happiness & Joy :)" all of this happened in during one of the most exciting and awesome Placement Activity at Google.

People working in the top IT firms dream of working for THE GOOGLE. When the kids were told where they were going, their excitement was inexplicable.

When we stepped in Google's awesome campus kids were amazed that people work here . We had awesome lunch with our kids in Google and then very good career oriented sessions from Heads of different departments of Google like Facilities , Security , Catering and the 1 hour session by one of the Senior Manager (Director) which really motivated our kids a lot.

Then kids watched lot of videos , cartoons in Google's Theater and got a chance to know more about Google's products like Google Earth which was really amazing , they saw all Wonders of the World and many other places and also their Hostel's building  via Google Earth in a Big Screen :)

The Oohs and Aahs and the wonder in their eyes were a treat to the eyes of all the volunteers.

The Google story dosent end there... it had a Christmas gift for all the kids. And who was gonna give them those gifts? Santa, ofcourse !!

Kids were all excited when we told them about the SECRET SANTA  theme for the kids. So 75 kids wrote letters to Santa some 10 days back . And today they got a chance to meet their Santas.

It was a just awesome to see the happiness in their eyes whole day

Friday, July 20, 2012

Project 5 Speech at Toastmasters - Your Body Speaks

My morning was greeted with a a Breaking News and surprisingly it was not my wife (pause). It was an idiot box, predicting the unthinkable, a submerged London, and a largely inundated Mumbai by 2100. My wife was overly concerned, but I was as cool as a cucumber. I glanced through Bangalore Mirror and noticed a full page advertisement about some people dressed as super heroes and heroines, claiming to be Earth Warriors. I had heard enough about warriors in Indian mythology and history, even Star Warriors, but Planet Warriors ?? They seem to belong to species, worried about anything and everything around. worried about the air, worried about the water, worried about the soil, worried about insecticide, pesticide, food additives, green-house gases, saving endangered species.

Good afternoon fellow toastmasters and guests, Let me tell you about endangered species. Saving endangered species is just one more arrogant attempt by humans to control nature. Over 90%, way over 90%, of all the species that have ever lived on this planet are gone..Whoosh..They are extinct. We didn't kill them all ?? (pause) This list includes monsters like Dynasours and small/tiny creatures like Dodo. They just vanished !! That's what nature does. Even today as we speak, they are disappearing at the rate of 25 every day. So regardless of our behavior, 25 species that are existing today, will be gone tomorrow. Let them go gracefully ?? Leave nature alone. Why interfere in nature's affairs ??

How about global warming ?? It will surprise you that in 70's and 80's, people were worried about global cooling. Now it is turn of global warming !! And just in case somebody questions their claims, they renamed it back to Climate Change !! If you look at earth's temperature over the past 1000 years, it has remained more or less constant. There has been an increase of about one degree Fahrenheit (half of one degree Celsius), I will not be surprised if this deviation is because of insufficient data, wrong assumptions and could very well turns out to be a human error :-) Remember your college day Eletrical Engineering Experiments where you had equipments showing their efficiency more than 100% :-) The earth has natural cycles of warming and cooling that have more to do with sunspots, solar wind cycles, and volcanic/tectonic activity. And we think the car that we drive (pause) the autos we ride (pause) the refrigerator we use (pause) the tissue papers that we use and throw are causing all this!!
Everybody around is busy saving something.
  Save the water, Save the paper
  Save the trees, Save the bees
  Save the whales, Save those snails
and the greatest arrogance of all, Save the Planet. What save the planet ?? Are these people kidding me ?? We don't know how to take care of ourselves, but we make an overly pompous claim of saving this planet !!

I am tired of these so-called environmentalists talking about saving the planet all the time. I am tired of hearing about Earth Day, tired of these Go-Green activists. The only thing, I am not tired of, is all those good-looking models, going nude to increasing awareness; about what ?? environment conservation !! Going nude for planet, (pause) I am sure there are better ways to save the planet !!

And besides there is nothing wrong with the planet, absolutely nothing wrong with the planet. Compared to ourselves, Planet is going great. Planet has been here for 4 and 1/2 billion years, and we humans have been here for what 100 thousand(pause) may be 200 thousand years. And we have been engaged in heavy industries for only about 200 years. Do your maths, folks; 200 years versus 4 and half billion ?? And we still concede that somehow we are a threat, somehow we are putting into jeopardy this beautiful little blue green ball that is just floating around the sun, as if to suggest that humans are the worst thing to have happened to this planet.

Planet has been through a lot worse that this. It has been through earth quakes, volcanos, sun spots, magnetic storms, hundreds and thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids, world wide floods, fire, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice-ages.
And we think some plastic bags ;(pause) Some aluminium cans ?; (Pause) Some extra trees are goiing to make a difference ??

Planet is not going anywhere, We are !! We are going away. Pack your bags, folks, because the planet will be here for a long, long time, even after we are gone. It will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, because that is what is does. It's a self-correcting system. The air and water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if we think, plastic is not degradable, it will find a way to recycle it. After all, Plastic came out of the earth, could possibly the ONLY reason why nature allowed HUMANS. It wanted Plastic for itself, didn't know how to make it, so invented humans :-). But when we humans do go, for the planet, this will be just another failed mutation, just another closed and biological mistake, just another step in evolution.

Now let me give you somethings about state of humans
  One out of 4 kids worldwide is malnourished, by 2025, this number is going to increase upto 450 million.
  Nearly half of Indian population don't have access to toilets
  Millions of people go to bed with an empty stomach every day, not knowing what they will have during next day lunch either
  1,00,000 kids are being forces to fight a war each year
Are these stats serious enough to warrant our attention ?? They surely are. In fact, to be honest they are frightening and should scare the hell out of us. I am not saying we should stop bothering about our Planet, but I am sure there better things to be done, there are bigger fishes to fry. Let's try to save ourselves first, the human beings. Planet knows how to save itself !! It is the humans who are at threat more than the planet !!

Over to you Toastmaster.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

How Facebook Trumped Orkut In Indian Market

I wanted to write this blog post for a long time, but somehow couldn't manage to find time for the same due to various reasons. Past few months have been incredibly hectic, not just profession wise, even on personal front there are far too many things happening to keep me busy like crazy.

Few months back, I attended an OME (Online Marketing Enthusiast) community meetup in Christ College Bangalore, where I happened to meet Srinivas Tamada (the brain behind, India's 2nd largest technology blog in terms of Adsense revenue and popularity after the numero uno Amit Agrawal of labnol fame). Srinivas is barely 25, but such a soft-spoken, charming and humble personality that it was nothing sort of a pleasure interacting with him. Srinivas shared a wonderful conjecture related to Orkut and Facebook rivalry in Indian market, how Orkut's enormous popularity was followed by a steady decline in the wake of Facebook onslaught and Google's seemingly helplessness in reviving Orkut. It all boiled down to one killer feature that Facebook introduced. This seemingly game-changing feature was nothing but Facebook Wall feature, which was already present in Orkut as Scrap Book !!

The reason, why Orkut clicked in India, after wooing the masses in Brazil, is the fact that both these countries are very similar in nature, especially the social culture, how people maintain their familial relations (Giving respect to elders, a liking for emotional TV soaps, undue interest in others' affairs ; to name a few of them). But one thing that stood apart in Indian culture is We Indians are extremely interested in knowing what others are doing, did Roy broke up with his girl friend or not, how is SharmaG's conventional family coping with their modern daughter-in-law et al. This was one of the biggest factor, which propelled Orkut's enormous growth in Indian market. I still remember, one of the favourite timepasses used to be looking others' (read babes') Scrapbooks, see the conversation unfold and extrapolate the relationship.

On the other hand, Facebook was a distant second and happy playing 3rd or 4th fiddle in Indian social networking market space. Facebook had a harsh realization that it was not doing good, as expected. They started analyzing Orkut's market share and researching as to what made Orkut so popular amongst Indians. They finally cracked the jigsaw. They noticed that  Scrapbook was the ONLY thing that was clicking for Orkut.

Almost around the same time, Orkut implemented some of its Privacy Control features, by which you could restrict your scrapbook's and photo album's visibility. One of the most hated screen messages on Orkut at that time was

No scrap from you !!

But, Orkut didn't realize that Privacy is not such a big concern amongst Indian masses compared to western societies and over-estimated the Privacy threat. While this provided ladies some much needed respite from useless friend requests, it turned out to be the biggest mistake Orkut ever committed in Indian market (they are still paying for that). People in US and elsewhere are extremely particular about Privacy. But not so much in Indian society, where everyone knows others' grand fathers' name as well as how much his or her neighbour's salary is. So giving such an option to end users was nothing sort of committing suicide. But Orkut's mind was fixated with privacy concerns and not so much about the underlying side-effects, these new changes may bring.

Facebook pounced on this and came with its own version of Scrapbook i.e, Facebook Wall. It is rumoured that on the day of Facebook Wall launch, nearly 7 million people in US and elsewhere DELETED their Facebook account. Till then, Facebook was nothing but a Dating Website for them, where all things personal were TRUELY PRIVATE. The moment, Wall came through, they were worried that people may come to know about their social lives(read rendezvous) and took it as an intrusion of their privacy. But Facebook was not too concerned, they had Indian mass in mind. They knew the potential of Indian market, they had their eyes firm on billions of Indians and not on millions of "Angry with Facebook Wall" US/Europe nationals.

Facebook was already rich with apps, performance wise it was faster and better than Orkut. So when they introduced the Wall feature, it was the death nail for Orkut. Add to that the strict privacy controls, people started loosing motivation in staying hooked to Orkut. It had nothing new on offer (Orkut was damn lazy in bringing out features and almost took its numero uno position for granted). As a result, people started migrating in bunches, the initial mass consisted of those disgruntled people, who were fed up of seeing "No scrap from you" screens. In the beginning, People doubled up on Facebook and Orkut for sometime, waiting for the moment, when all their friends moved to Facebook. Once the migration was complete, they simply got hooked to Facebook and never went back to Orkut. Some of them even went to the extent of deleting their Orkut account. And we all know, where Facebook is.

Ever heard a story of somebody beating his competitor with his competitor's weapon. Facebook's battle with Orkut is a classic example !!

PS: Wish you all a very very happy and prosperous new year 2012 :-)