Friday, November 18, 2011

A Case of Belonging

Belong – the dictionary meaning of this word as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

a.To be in an appropriate situation or environment
b.To be a member of a group, such as a club
c.To fit into a group naturally
d.To be a part of something else

Going by the recent political developments where migrant laborers are being threatened to leave Mumbai, non-Assamese speakers are being persecuted in Assam, Andhra Pradesh on the verge of being divided into three based on the linguistic and cultural roots of the people, Uttar Pradesh into four by a ‘politically astute’ chief minister and if I spread my circle a little, then the targeting of Indian Sikhs in the US, UK and attacks on Indians in Australia, I wondered how does a person prove if he belongs to a particular place, thing, group or does someone really need to prove his sense of belonging?

I’ll start with my own example, I was born a Bengali (although I’ve never lived in West Bengal or for that matter, even Bangladesh :P), raised in Meerut (which is the heartland of Western UP, proper bhaiyya-land according to some, home of dreaded criminals to others), did my masters in Susegaad land…Goa (though I haven’t picked up a word of Konkani), started my first job in Bangalore (I don’t care if its called Bengaluru now), my job took me to West Bengal (Kolkata, Burdwan, Durgapur and myriad villages in between), Orissa (Bhubaneswar, Cuttack) and then Chhatisgarh (Raipur, Bilaspur). I switched jobs and came to Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad) and currently am on a short term deputation to Maharashtra (Pune). So where do I belong, or more importantly to what do I belong? I don’t really have an answer to that and I don’t even want to find one.

I fail to understand when people comment that “X group of people have come to MY state and taken away MY people’s jobs, MY people’s education and MY land, MY right”. Isn’t freedom of movement for better education, better prospects one of the founding pillars of any free country (which I assume ours is)

If this is not the case, then a lot of pan-India institutions should be clamped down, I want to name some of them –

a.IITs, IIMs, NITs and all other educational institutions which admit students on the basis of their merit and not on basis of their state domicile

b.AIIMS, AFMC, CMC Vellore where world class doctors are made because of their sheer hard work and not because they were from that state

c.Armed Forces because a soldier is neither selected by his state, nor is he fighting for a state but for the country

d.All national-sports teams, because the players are not there because of their state domicile but because of their talent

e.All private corporations, because they choose to employ people based on skillsets rather than the domicile of the state in which the unit has been set-up

That presents a pretty silo-like picture, one where there would be a total breakdown of the national fabric, sovereignty, economic growth and freedom of speech which the so-called ‘sons of the soil…protectors of state culture, heritage and blah blah’ exercise so very well.

So next time someone tells you that you are not from his state, or that ‘aliens’, ‘external people’, ‘outsiders’ have dirtied his state, taken away his jobs and robbed him of an opportunity to make his life better ask him if he really thinks he would have been where he is today without a lot of silent factors working like a clock-work?

And if someone still has an issue with that and says that ‘aliens’, ‘external people’, ‘outsiders’ have dirtied his state, taken away his jobs and robbed him of an opportunity to make his life better, well then fine enough, I won’t come to YOUR state but then please don’t sit in All-India competitive exams (it’s not YOUR state exam), don’t apply to any MNC, Indian-MNC (they are not YOUR state-owned companies), don’t consume medicines when you are ill (they are also not divided on YOUR state basis), don’t and definitely do not apply for a US/UK/Canada/EU… in fact any country’s Visa (they are not YOUR country)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Interview


Do you want to know what happens when a guy has been through 4 big interviews and still unplaced? Read on...

It was December 15, 2009. One more company, one more GD. Once more I cracked the GD and went into the interview. And I knew once again I will tank this one too, so was least interested in putting up a facade of confidence and was completely frustrated to the core.

I'll denote the company in question as "The Soap Company" for obvious reasons of not offending anyone.

There were two interviewers, a lady and a man. So I’ll denote them with L(LADY)and M(MAN).

Entry: Hello Madam, Hello Sir (Someone had told me the lady was the power centre so greeted the lady first)
L: Prasenjit have some biscuits.
Me: Madam, I am here for an interview and not for eating biscuits; so let’s talk (And I push the plate away to her utter disbelief)(Frustration was running through my veins!)

L: So Prasenjit, tell me about yourself (Same old standard question, I am already frustrated. Grrrrr!!)
Me: Most of my details are on the CV itself, I can only tell you about my summers.

M: Then tell us about your summers.
Me: Started the verbal diarrhoea (Fir wahi royal bakwaas..maine yeh kiya maine wo kiya…pak gaya tha 5th time bol bol k)

M: Can you relate your summer experience relate to the work being offered at "The Soap Company"?
Me: Sir you sell FMCGs through retailers, we sell SIM cards and tariff packs through ARCs(Airtel Relation Centers) and multi brand outlets.You push on margin, we push on margin.You design and erect POPs(Point of Purchase) displays we also do that. The retailers gives you 1000 reasons why not to stock your product so do ours. And here as a salesman my job is to give him reason no. 1001 to stock the product.

M: What is your dream company? (I was thinking, lets tell him…I got rejected from 4 interviews so you automatically become my dream company!!)
Me: Super Global. Sir, "The Soap Company" is my dream company.
M and L: Hahaha, text book answer.

Me: Mam, I love Sales, am passionate about pushing my products to the distributors and retailers etc etc
L: I am not convinced.
Me: As a knee jerk reaction I say, “So what do I do?”

L(taken aback): Ok tell me what qualities do you have that can make you a great salesman?
Me: Mam, I am a very greedy person, so greedy that is there’s only one person on this planet and he needs to take a bath, he has to use my soap else he doesn’t have to take a bath. And I have huge expectations, both from me and the people who work with me.

M: (He catches me on the wrong foot) but you marks in PGDM are pretty low. Just 5.48/8 roughly 68%.So you can’t say you expect much from yourself, right?
Me: (Taking stock of the situation now that I've done a blooper) Sir, Life is never a zero sum game. The sum total of all that I do can actually be bigger than one individual thing(Nobody understood what I just said, including me). I have a multi dimensional personality and have a list of hobbies.

M: Tell me.
Me: Sir I am a singer, mime actor (told him about an award I won at IIT Kanpur fest), traveler and avid photographer.
L: What kind of photographer? Do you like the process or the end result?
Me: I like doing macro shots and definitely the process is far more interesting as you need a stable hand and patience to get that perfect shot.

M: Explain macro shots or whatever you said to me.
Me: I told him (for further info check up Macro Photography on Wikipedia.)
L: But why do you do it?
Me: It shifts the entire focus to one single object in the frame which comes at 1:1 ratio and the rest is all blurred. It is like that one single most important thing in your life you want to be or do, for me that is sales (Super emotional - Nirupa Roy style).

M: You worked for Airtel i summers right, tell me three reasons why customers are shifting from Airtel to R-GSM as you said?
Me: Three reasons, telecom specific – Low rates, Specific targeted plans, Our poor customer care.

M: But why would a corporate post paid client shift?
Me: I answered this in Hindi – sir, har businessman baniya ban jata hai…ek rupiya bhi bachaya to ek rupiya kamaya samjho

L: So what are the strengths of Airtel?
Me: Signals, Network, Value Adds etc etc

M: You have done a project on ZooZoos…what’s the project all about?
Me: Mast Global diya usko.Poochna mat kya diya.

L: Do you think distribution is important for FMCGs?
Me:(I was waiting for this question, Gave them superb shit about how reaching out to every nook and corner increases chances of buying, blocks out competitors Bottom of Pyramid aur pata nahi kya kya)

M: You have done this AMFI certification? What is this?
Me: Sir this is a specialized certification for being a mutual fund advisor. Then told him the procedure and all, glorifying a very easily obtainable certification.

M: Recommend a mutual fund to the lady.
Me: Madam, what is your age?
L: What???(Scowl on her face)
Me: No offense meant but I need to know you age to recommend the correct combination to you.
L: If you ask like this, the client will run away
Me: If I have to provide him/her the best possible combo then I have to know this.
M: (Chuckling) Madam tell your age.
L: Assume I am 30.
M: (Laughing uncontrollably)
Me: There’s this formula 120 – X where X = your age, so we have 120 – 30 = 90, so invest 90% in equity fund and remaining in Debt or Money market schemes.

L: hmmm, does your father invest?
Me: No
M: Why he doesn’t believe your advice?
Me: He knows I am greedy, I’ll invest lesser and get desired amount of returns and eat the rest of the money. But my greed will also help me in pushing two tube lights where people can push only one.(Nirupa Roy at it again, emotional attack!!)

M: You come across as very aggressive, why so?
Me: A senior of mine told me, show passion and you’ll get through.(One of the rare times in the interview when I spoke the truth without being sarcastic or angry or frustrated)

L: Prasenjit, you know you can go to Airtel but why this place only.
Me: Mam, I want to work in FMCG and you are the only FMCG Company on campus.(Truth 2)

L: That would be all.

I knew this was make or break, so I launch a mega attack – “I know you gave OT8A (can't disclose the name of my friend here for his safety) a Spot Offer and would be making the same decision for me also. If I don’t get a job here, I’ll feel sad but GIM will get me a job. I’ll work there but I won’t be happy because my heart lies in FMCG sales. If you take me into your company, I’ll give my 110% and you won’t regret your decision”

By the time this sentence ended, I was all red faced and had thumped my fist twice on the table.

I came out and I knew I had blown up another interview.But luck ruled in my favor and I got through "The Soap Company".

Learnings from this episode:

1. Passion is the most important thing, be loud and make it clear that you have to get into this company or else you’ll not give your 100% to anything else. Be that Hindi film hero who yells - "Ganga se pyaar karna agar paap hai, to haan...maine paap kiya hai" and finally takes Ganga with him :)

2. Grab attention, do anything which can grab attention like I asked her age without hesitation. Be the best Rakhi Sawant you can :)

3. Be absolutely ready to back your arguments even if they may be wrong. Think of yourself as Suresh Kalmadi, Digvijay Singh or Kapil Sibbal, it'll be natural :)

4. In the end, when they ask you anything else to say…use a super emotional line to show that the company might get more skilled people than you but they’ll never get more passionate people. Be Nirupa Roy, nothing can beat her in the emotions department or you might try a Shahrukh mode also.

I hope no one tries this technique, this can and will backfire at you.

Prasenjit Choudhury
PGP 2008-10, Goa Institute of Management

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Cynic

Have you ever tried striking up a conversation with a total unknown, random the airport, in the pub , at the metro station and even anonymous chat rooms? I keep doing these wonderfully stupid things every now and then, and get some interesting ideas about life and other things from my fellow human beings.

This is an excerpt of one such conversation…

Stranger: Hey
Me: Hi
Stranger: Waddup
Me: Nothing much. Back from office early
Stranger: Sweeeet
Me: what do you do?
Stranger: I’m in high school.
Me: good
Stranger: yuppp!
Me: So what else? Is it still cold on your side of the world?
Stranger: Nope! 22 deg outside right noww
Me: Nice weather...where do you live?
Stranger: Alabama! wbu?
Me: A million miles away brother…India :)
Stranger: wowwww
Stranger: That’s a long way!
Me: Dodo!Its not a million miles though...its a figure of speech
Stranger: well its still far
Stranger: I’ve never been out of the country soooo
Stranger: It seems like a long way
Me: so what r u doin sittin on the computer on a weekend?
Stranger: i got in trouble
Me: grounded?
Stranger: yes sir
Me: haha..what did you do? pulled a fast one on the principal?
Stranger: no.. according to my parents i did something inappropriate around all these girls and they found out soooo
Me: you are 15, you are supposed to be doing things. We all did crazy things
Stranger: I know!!!!!!!!! its soooo annoying
Stranger: Ok temme, are you a Christian?
Stranger: Im guessing not
Me:Am not
Me: and why that question now?
Stranger: what?
Me: I mean why did you bring religion in the middle?
Stranger: because I want to talk about that...
Stranger: God made the world…and then we spoiled it.
Stranger: God wants u to be happy and married and have kids but what are we doing? when u face God when u die ur gonna regret it
Me: ok, I got your idea…but my friend…why will I have to regret when I die?
Stranger: This whole world has turned into chaos. God is so disappointed with everyone in this world it’s so bad
Me: And you have strong beliefs in religion. DON’T DISCONNECT, but how can you say God exists?
Stranger: OMG! Everybody on here asks me this question.
Me: I mean I was raised as a Hindu but I don’t follow any religion.
Stranger: I know you probably don’t believe in God, but I do and I know he exists.You don’t have to think that but I know he does.
Stranger: He made the world were in right now so….
Me: But how will a non believer get to know if God exists?
Stranger: We didn’t come from freaking monkeys…that’s impossible
Me: I like your attitude…but again….there’ something called evolution
Stranger: Hahaha well I’m serious about this
Stranger: You probably think I’m so gay but I don’t care
Me: I don’t think that gays are better aligned to ‘God’...that's why I’m still talking to you and asking a simple question…how will a non believer know God exists?
Stranger: Read the Bible!
Me: It’s a big book.
Stranger: Go to church
Stranger: Yea I know, you don’t have to read the whole thing.
Stranger: You just need to read the beginning pretty much cause it’s all about how everything started its so cool
Me: I go to church, but not for Sunday mass...I'm an amateur photographer so I take pictures of churches…the Gothic architecture is fascinating
Stranger: You are photographer!?! That’s awesome my sister wants to be that
Me: That's great
Stranger: I guess so
Me: You can capture a moment forever, and you'll know what exactly happened in that moment. For others it’ll be a picture
Stranger: So do you even have any interest of having a relationship with God? Like trying to get to know about Christianity? Or anything? Just wondering
Me: Not religion. God yes
Me: I strongly believe that religions were created by humans. So religion should have nothing to do with the existence of God
Stranger: Well then do it! His love for you is so great...well I see what you are saying
Stranger: I have a religion, its just Christianity. You don’t have to have a specific religion. You can just have a relationship with God!!!
Me: That's the idea, how to know where he is as to talk to him
Stranger: u pray...
Me: Nopes…bcoz it’s all one sided...we pray, we cry…but does an answer come?
Stranger: an answer doesn’t always come... he blesses us in ways that we don’t realize
Stranger: He’s not just someone you ask for something and he gives it to you
Me: Means he is like a ask him to send you to place X and he points the way, going there is your own choice?
Stranger: Everything you do is your own choice... he can’t control what you do
Me: Then why are we here? Why did God create us? Does he want to watch a movie?
Stranger: But everything you do should be something that God would be proud of…
Stranger: Why are we here? No one knows! God put us here to be HIS people
Stranger: this is not just a "movie" it’s a horror movie to him
Me: If he wanted us to be HIS people...means he wanted to get something done from us…probably the end of the planet. He couldn’t do it so created us to kill it 
Stranger: Sorry caps was on... didn’t know
Me: Ya…felt like you were shouting standing on a rooftop
Stranger: Sorry!!!
Me: ok, let’s take it step by step...God sent his Jesus to die so we are here
Stranger: God sent his son, Jesus
Me: Means if we weren’t here Jesus won’t have to sacrifice himself on the cross, correct?
Stranger: correct
Me: So why did God take so many pains to create us?
Me: I’m messing up your head, I like to question things.
Stranger: He already sacrificed himself a very long time ago.... Because he loves us!!!!!!!!!! (: he used his own son to take away our sins
Stranger: No its fine I love to teach people this stuff
Me: at your age? You want to go to seminary?
Stranger: Here hang on I have a bible verse to show you that explains some of it
Me: Sure
Stranger: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." That kinda does…
Stranger: Like if you do anything wrong...God is going to forgive. He loves you even if you don’t have any idea who he is. His love is unconditional
Me: Guess its a circle - God gave up his son so we could survive, and we were created by God. So essentially God messed up things by creating humans
Stranger: God doesn’t mess things up
Stranger: Humans messed up this world he didn’t
Stranger: people around here don’t freaking care about anything. (Not trying to be against you) but a lot of people around the world just have sex whenever they want to...murder people…kids are raped all the time...I mean God doesn’t even come across anyone’s mind anymore
Me: That signals the end of the world…Judgment Day as you call it, right?
Stranger: You sound just like my mom. She’s positive the world is gonna end next year
Stranger: like 100%
Stranger: and yes it’s called Judgment Day when you die
Me: Don’t compare me to mom. She must be a much better person
Stranger: Why would she be a better person?
Me: She is a mom...moms are always good
Stranger: ahah she’s pretty awesome!
Me: Now coming back to your concern…SEX….here something for you…Isaiah 34:16 – “None shall want for a mate”
Me: If God doesn’t want us to have sex before marriage...well...then half of the world’s love stories will end then and there.
Me: Then we'll just remain friends with everyone.
Stranger: Noooo!!
Stranger: Loving someone is wanting to be with them for the rest of your life and you would do anything for them not just having sex with them
Me: But the bitter part of this story is that love doesn’t actually last for a lifetime
Stranger: It does for some people
Me: You are a Christian, and then you must be against divorce also?
Stranger: Ok my parents are divorced…and yes I am against it
Stranger: But I believe that God planned for my parents to get divorced because my dad treated us horribly.
Stranger: So my parents’ getting a divorce was a blessing.
Me: Sorry for you. I guess then your mum took right step
Stranger: Yes she did.
Me: So apart from educating people on religion what else do you do? Basketball?
Me: Skating?
Stranger: Basketball, baseball and football
Stranger: what do you do?
Me: I do quite a lot of things
Stranger: Like?
Me: Pictures, writing (blogger), I like ping-pong and soccer
Stranger: sweeeett
Me: hey wait! I just realized you are here as you did something inappropriate with a girl.
Me: God fearing people don’t do such things
Me: Hahah…our strictly “no sex before marriage”, “God will punish you” man misbehaves with women and gets caught.
Stranger: It was a joke I didn’t mean anything sexual!
Me: Well my friend, you are on thin ice…you don’t know about why you are here or who sent you here. You believed in a book which was written by humans. So all the very best to you in finding your God.
Stranger: And do you have your God?
Me: Yes, we have a pretty good working relationship.
Me: Next time, be better prepared when talking to cynics like me…as all it takes is a cynic to bring the world crashing down on your head.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Hello, I’m back and this time with a strange idea.

Have you ever given a thought to what would have become of the INDIA we know today if forced integration of princely states into the Indian Union not happened? Had Sardar Patel not been the Iron-Man, had Nehru not insisted on Kashmir being a part of India (although with a plebiscite) and had Bengal not been broken up into two? In fact, what would have happened if at the stroke of midnight August 15, 1947…each of the princely states of free India decided to be a master of their own fate and chosen to be separate countries?
So what follows is purely my dystopian view of what would have become of India. I’m not a seditionist and this is just a thought which I’m trying to compile on paper or e-paper or whatever…

August 14, 1947 – North Western part of India separates from India and assumes a new identity as Pakistan.
August 15, 1947 – India wrests its independence from the 200 year old British colonial rule.
The new Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru convenes a cabinet meeting discussing the fate of India. After heated rounds of discussion, a landmark statement is passed – “all the princely states will have the right to choose whether they want to be a part of India or do they want to continue their existence as separate nations.”
Within a month, all princely states chose to abandon the Indian Union and become nation-states. India was declared as a continent consisting of 30 countries. A brief intro to each of them –

1.Andhra Pradesh – The land of rivers, agriculture and innately one tracked people (fascination with getting into IIT and then into an American house with a Swedish car and a Telugu wife)…this country would be reduced to rubble with Satyam Computers destroying the economy of the country but not before all the IT majors being black listed for getting humanly impossible work done from their employees (I love this part…thank God I’m not the engineer but the consultant…poor engineers).

2.Arunachal Pradesh – Arun-who? I don’t recollect anything…my oracle globe has become hazy…losing consciousness…keeling over….glurg glurg glurg (frothing at the mouth)…

3.Assam – First there was Earl grey, then there was Ceylon…and then came the Assam tea…from that day on…year after year the highest tea producer award went to this small country constantly being wrecked by floods in the Brahmaputra river. And guess the country survived, after all China was too big and didn’t have an enemy called India.

4.Bihar – This would be the Sierra Leone of the Indian continent. Rich in mineral wealth, but equally rich in 5th class fail, hay eating (yeah…people can do that) politicians-warlords…this country would see all its mineral wealth proceeds going to a small country called Delhi and some un accounted parts going to the LGT Bank in Liechtenstein.

5.Goa – The protectorate of Portugal, this small country would thrive like nothing else on the planet…thanks to serene beaches, cashew plantations, Iron ore deposits, nice people and a far removed controlling country. And the only sad part would be…I’d have to clear the GMAT to get admission to Goa Institute of Management. And I would do that if that was the only thing I could ever do in my life.

6.Gujarat – This semi arid desert country would be the most discussed case study all over management institutions across the world for the supreme business acumen of its people. Dr. V Kurien and Mr. Ambani would be giving lectures all over the world and making Gujarat proud (they still do). Occasionally the country would come under the scanner of the WTO for not allowing import of liquor (it was a dry state from a long time)

7.Haryana – This would be the trouble child of the continent. Skewed sex ratio, less brains and more brawns, there would be permanent state of unease in the country.

8.Himachal Pradesh – The pleasant land of the Indian continent. With thriving tourism, apples competing for world level awards every year and posh school…this would be a mix of Edinburgh, Eton and Switzerland all in one.

9.Jammu and Kashmir – The poster boy for something gone horribly wrong, the state would be in flames 50 years after independence from the Indian Union and would continue to be in turmoil for another 50 years – Ladakh, Aksai Chin, Kashmir and Jammu fighting amongst themselves to carve out separate countries and Pakistan providing support to Kashmir, China supporting Aksai Chin and Ladakh and Delhi quietly watching where to poke its nose.

10.Karnataka – The land of superfast growth, this country would become a nemesis to many others due to the sharp brains of its technologically learned people, beautiful girls, rivers, natural resources, weather and everything else. Neighbours would be envious as to why Karnataka got everything and they didn’t.

11.Kerala – Hugo Chavez, Ahmedijenad and others of their ilk would be extending warm welcome to this country. One more Socialist nation, causing pain in the wrong places for Uncle Sam. Winning ‘Lonely Planet’s Best Backwater Destination’ year after year…Bush and party would be crying somewhere….

12.Madhya Pradesh – Supremely sympathetic to the ruling class of Delhi – the Nehruvian dynasty…this country would pawn itself off to them. With everything available, natural resources, tourist destinations, a wealthy ruling family…somehow they would find a way to bungle up everything and go bankrupt. And then put their foot in their mouth all the time…”do a Digvijay Singh” would become a common idiom for idiocy. This country would beat Ethiopia and Chad in malnutrition ratings for 5 years in a row!

13.Maharashtra – The powerhouse of the Indian continent…this country would be the business nerve center for entire Asia. (Pakistan would never attack Mumbai…its black money would be stashed Amcha Mumbai Bank) Mumbai would be the entertainment, financial, business, real estate….oh and I can’t remember more…but it would be bigger than New York, Tokyo and London combined. Every country would want to be on good terms with Maharashtra...after all they would be the source of business for every one. And Maharashtra would be having its own Chechnya (Vidhardha fighting for independence)

14.Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram –Like the three Baltic states, these would be three conjoined triplets. Each country would depend on tourism as the primary source of income and yes…Cherrapunji and Mawsynram would still be winning the ‘highest rainfall award’. I don’t know much about them…why bother the keyboard then?

15.Sikkim and Nagaland – The Finland and Norway and Sweden of Indian continent. Numerous Grammy, VH1, MTV, TRL and Kerrang award winning rock bands would keep emerging and rocking the world every year. (Finland and Norway have produced some of the best bands, house DJs in the world – Rasmus, Poets of the Fall, Europe, Apocalyptica, Children of Bodom, Darude, Night wish(check out Tarja Turunen), ABBA, A-Teens, Yngwie Malmsteem and many many others) Oh and yes…the silk route (not the band, the trade route)would be open and functioning.

16.Orissa – Even after beaches, temples, cyclones, floods and everything in between…people would never forget Biju Patnaik and the highest civilian award would be the Aviator Award. And Orissa would be the first country in the world to make fully waterproof, floating houses anchored to the ground and that would be patented as the ‘Anchor-House’(What with so many hurricanes every year)

17.Punjab – The country winning the Miss Universe, Miss World and any other pageant worth its salt every year. And also the bread basket of Asia award. And also an honorary ‘No Visa Required’ program with Canada (written as Kann-e-ddaa in Punjabi)

18.Rajasthan – Asia’s East Europe (minus the poverty and post Bosnian-war destruction). With beautiful castles, forts and rich cultural heritage this place would be UN’s favorite for its heritage sites. And they’d surely need all the tourism and then a little more to pay for food imports (deserts…you see)

19.Tamil Nadu – Silk.Gold.Rajnikanth. Enough said. And yes… A. Raja :P

20.Tripura – Not bothered. Next Please.

21.Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand– Agriculture, Tourism, Hills, Plains, Mineral Wealth, Hydro Electric Power, Corruption, Gang-lands, acute poverty (Purvanchal, Bundelkhand), Lawless-ness(Noida, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Baraut, Mawana, Gr. Noida) and ultimate a sliver of economic and educational boom (Noida). This would be my little India.

22.West Bengal – Still Communist, listening to Rabindra Sangeet (sorry folks…but its painful to hear and the same songs since 1918AD…or maybe 1918BC), cheering Brazil’s football team while sitting in muddy fields in slippers, and fishing in the Hooghly. Rest I don’t want to rant about.

I think this is a pretty scary picture and I’m thankful to God that even with all his flaws, Jawahar Lal Nehru did one thing right…giving full authority to Sardar Patel to unify the country by hook or crook. Today we have a throbbing, vibrant country where the good balances the bad, and we are changing the world order inch by inch…
Imagine where we would be if this country won’t be in existence.I don’t know about others but I’d be fishing in (East Pakistan) Bangladesh, ruled over by Pakistan with little hope for a better future.
So people who think the unification of the country was wrong, that ideological, territorial and other forms of integrity were taken away from the princely states...TAKE A HIKE to PAKISTAN!

I believe in India.Anyday.Everyday.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chance Encounters

How often it happens that you do something totally out of the ordinary, something straight out of a movie or a novel and later reminisce what it could have been all about?

August 11, 2010
Raipur, Chattisgarh

I had to catch a flight from Raipur to New Delhi. Having nothing much to do in the city; I decided to go to the airport early and park myself there. Raipur Airport is a small airport with few flights but on that day there was only flight out of Raipur in the evening. Just a Kingfisher flight, just the dead looking Kingfisher baggage handlers and ticketing staff and equally weary travelers. What a boring airport, I thought to myself.

Curiosity will always kill the cat…I gave my bags for X-ray checking and went on the other side to see the x-ray images. Just then a ground officer from Kingfisher comes along and asks, “Sir, did you get your boarding pass”? I replied without looking back, “I will once I get this bag checked”. She said,”very well sir, but what are you looking at?” And then I told her I was looking at the X-ray display and wondering how could the airline personnel make out the difference between things. To me they were blotches of blue, green and orange colors. I could see a lot of stuff but how do they find minute things hidden between sheets of cloth or in a zip pouch?
She laughed. And it was an unusual laugh for an airline employee. It wasn’t the forced smile or the smirk-laden laugh that the profession taught her. And it was then when I saw her properly for the first time.

Tall, dusky, hazel-brown eyes, crisp Kingfisher uniform with a pearl necklace and a pony tail. She was by far the best airline operative I had met. She told how they were trained to spot the differences and how it becomes second nature to them.
Since I had time on my hands before the flight and even she didn’t have much work to do as the airport was almost empty, we sat down and started talking. She asked me what I was doing in Raipur and where was I going next. I told her about how I got fed up of my job and was going home after resigning. She started ranting about her job, how she’s stuck at this lousy airport and how she’d love to operate out of a bigger airport.

I couldn’t stop my from commenting, “But J(her name), you look really very good…you should be a flight stewardess. Isn’t that what you actually trained in aviation school?” She was taken aback and asked, “How do you know my name?” I replied, “Ms. J R…your ID tag says it all.”I had read her ID while talking to her.

She told me how her height is a little more than required and how she might skip this company to work for some other airline as a ground staff.
We talked about a variety of stuff related to airlines, thanks to my habit of picking up stupid knowledge from all over the world we discussed on CAT – III ILS, training, rowdy passengers, eve teasing, life of a flight attendant and that of a ground crew, job satisfaction in the industry and then our generation as a whole.
Soon it was time for my flight; I got up to go…

I wanted to keep her contact number or something, but then it dawned on me that this was just a chance encounter, nothing more nothing less. I gave her my face book and orkut ID and asked her to get in touch is she felt like and left for the departure lounge and finally to the boarding gate. While I was going, a couple of Kingfisher ground crew and ticketing staff looked at me with a mixed feeling of contempt and awe (I don’t know the reason whatsoever) and finally when I was at the gate...the lady said, “Sir, J said Bye…”

And that was it…a chance encounter.

August mid month, 2010.

I had to get my NSR (National Skills Registry) done so I went to Noida to get the thing sorted out. It is a pretty simple procedure wherein you apply online and then go along with the application number to any NSDL center and get your biometric information uploaded and you get your IT PIN generated.

It was a routine day at the NSDL center in Sec 18, Noida. Lots of people getting their PAN, GIR, NSR and other stuff done. There was this cute looking girl who was getting down fingerprints from people for their NSR. Finally my turn came and we started from my left hand. She had taken only maybe two fingerprints when an elderly man in his 60s came barging in and started shouting on the girl…you don’t have the manners to call up your clients when something goes amiss…you don’t know how to behave with a retired person…I’ll complain about you and all sort of harsh words.

The girl was stunned and finally managed to utter the words…”I will surely get your job done. Please don’t shout at me.” The man left in a huff and puff and everyone went back to their work. She started taking finger prints again but she just couldn’t get my finger on the right spot on the scanner. I looked at her and saw these big lakes of tears welling up in her eyes. Without thinking much, I asked her,”mere baad aur kitne logo ka NSR banana hai aapko? (After me, how many more NSRs do you have to make?)” She lookd beyond me and said, “abhi koi nahi hai line mei”. I asked her would she like to talk about the old man scolding her. And she said…”nahi, aapse baat karna thik nahi lagega. (It won’t be professional to talk to you)”

I said,”aap waise bhi abhi apna kaam thik se nahi kar pa rahi hain. Bahar chaliye, thoda man halka kijiye fir kaam. (In anycase, you can’t do your job properly right now. Come outside, relax a bit then work)”I took her out for an Ice-Tea(my favorite cold beverage) at McD’s and there I tried explaining to her how she shouldn’t take such things too seriously. That old man was a customer and customers shout. But there’s no need to take it personally as he is shouting at the position not you as a person. She told me how every other day some customer or the other would misbehave and she has to endure as they are customers but today she just felt really bad. “Mai unki poti ki umr ki hogi.Aise koi apni bacchi ko daantega?(I must be his grand-daughter’s age, does someone scold his grandchild like this?)”, she asked.

I said, “yeh kyo nahi samajhti ki har din ek aise customer jhelne se aapka test ho raha hai. Aur aap accha kar rahi hain.(Why don’t you think this way that everyday you are giving a test and faring well in the test)”

Soon she was smiling again and I felt now it was time to go back and get the work done. We went back, she happily took my fingerprints and my biometric information was entered in no time. As I rose up to leave, I saw a speck of tear on her cheek. Instinctively, I moved forward and wiped clean her cheek with my hand. She smiled again. And I left without saying anything…

I could have asked for her name, I could have asked for her number, maybe she might have given her contact as well. She might go home happy, thinking that she met a nice person and might as well tell this story to her friends. But asking her number would reduce the whole serendipity of the event to a normal incidence. Guy helping girl, getting her number and then the same story continues…

I felt this way, it would stay in memory longer…helping an unknown person without any motive and feeling nice about it…it was a chance encounter…