Thursday, December 31, 2015

Calculus of Life

As I sit on the eve of 31st Dec 2015, looking back on how the year went by, counting the moments of happiness, sadness and missed opportunities, comes a growing realization that life so clear in the hindsight. Now that I have gone past those moments I am able to recount and relive them and interpret them accurately. . Some moments were moments I would cherish for lifetime, there were some moments that gave me instantaneous joy  but they don’t mean much now. And then there were those heart warming moments, where the details are hazy but just thinking about them brings a smile.

2015 was certainly a happy year for me personally. I published my first book, bonded well with my family, I took some time off when my parents needed me the most and I also strengthened the relationship with my friends. By any yardstick, I should be a very happy person. Yet I feel there was something amiss. Wisdom coming from hindsight tells me I could have been even more happy and peaceful if I did a few things differently.

I probably didn’t live some moments right. There were many moments where I should have been happier but I wasted those moments either worrying, brooding, being overburdened, being pessimistic, being bothered or simply being anxious. “Happy moments don’t last forever”, I thought to myself as I lived through them. Had I shut my divergent thinking just for that moment I would have been able to live that moment much better and would have emerged much happier, much more upbeat and most importantly much more peaceful.

There were sad moments too. I had lived most of them pretending to be unaffected or trying to smile or trying my best to negate my feelings. Today when I look back at  those moments, I realize that it wasn’t just me but everyone around me was sad and all of us held back our tears. I shouldn’t have held back mine. I should have expressed my sadness to everyone around. I now realize that there is no shame in crying when you are sad, it actually fills your heart with a lot of peace when tears empty out the sadness. Being sad together is also a great bonding experience.

As I was thinking about the complexities of life, I was reminded of the concept of calculus. I distinctly remember the introduction to Calculus class. Our professor drew a random curve on the board and asked us calculate area under the curve. Obviously, we struggled and could not come up with any sensible approach. Then he introduced the concept of Integration. In this approach, the curve is divided into infinitesimally small slices, each of which could be considered as a rectangle. Then we could calculate area of each rectangle by using a very simple formula. We then added back area of each rectangle to get the area under the curve. He ended the lecture saying,”if you calculate area of each rectangle correctly, your final answer can’t go wrong”.

An apparently insurmountable problem could be solved by dividing it in infinite slices each of which was very easy to solve. I think this applies to our life too. Life is curve with unknown equation. If we try to live under the curve by trying to solve its equation it seems quite hard. But if you make a infinitesimally small thin slice of the life called moment, living through it could be easier than calculating area of a rectangle. Living the moment right means expressing the joy when you are happy and letting the tears roll when you are sad. Like my professor said, if I live every moment correctly how can my final answer go wrong?

My only resolution in 2016 is to master Calculus of life by living every moment right!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why Do Indians Hate Biased Reporting? - An Open Letter to Rajdeep Sardesai

Dear Rajdeep,

How do you sleep in the night? What is your agenda? Do you think you can drive it blatantly when you are losing credibility every second? Yes, I am talking about intolerance reports about Shahrukh Khan!

Just to clarify, I am not a die-hard SRK fan, nor am I a blind BJP voter. I have voted for congress when they made sense, supported TDP when they talked about better governance. Yes, once upon a time I was your fan and Pranav Roy's fan when you put news in front of us with balanced analysis. But now, forget the analysis even your questions are biased.

There was no need to bring up intolerance issue - which in any case is a media-made issue- to the birthday boy. What personal perspective would SRK have on intolerance? Most of the people he meets everyday would only savour their meeting as lifetime experience and probably not wash the hands he shook for weeks. Did you see the pictures SRK released on his FB? Thousands of people gathered outside Mannat just to see him from a distance and wave to him. He knows he could not be where he is if India was intolerant. It was very cunning of you to slip in this question amidst all personal questions.

I have seen the telecast interview multiple times. While SRK was answering intolerance it appears that he is actually referring to impatience among youth world over. He makes an oblique remark that the non-secular noises have grown slightly - just a little bit ( halakasa - just in case you prefer hindi) Then he narrates how they celebrate Eid and Diwali etc. His message was quintessentially that of unity, respecting all religions to become superpower. I felt it was quite a positive message which you chose to twist and report as growing intolerance.

Rajdeep, I had never believed that your reporting was biased till I saw you in action in Madison square. You were out there instigating people with the intention of getting beaten up to improve TRP. That was a lowly act. Dadri incident is condemnable, the mob has no right to kill person. One needs to understand cow in rural India's context. In rural India, unlike rest of the world, cows are not reared for meat. They have status equivalent to a pet in the house. Cows and Bulls have pet names, kids and women-folk talk to them, cows are fed with the same food. Cows make Bulls that are work animals, loved like pets so you don't eat them. Simple. Ask a dog owner or cat owner what they would feel if their pet meets similar fate - you will have your answers. I am a Hindu, I don't eat beef, nor do I support the ban, nor do I like to be mocked or questioned about my food choices. You want eat beef go ahead, don't tell me that I am a fanatic if I don't eat it.

Rajdeep, most precious thing a reporter has is credibility, faith that general public puts on them for unbiased reporting. By this biased reporting you are creating Hindu-Muslim divide in the country. There are many who just reacted to the report rather than seeing the entire interview and started spewing venom against each other - which is probably what you wanted. People like you are the threat to secularism in the country. Its high time you stop doing this, may be take a break, travel around multiple countries to see what intolerance actually is. Today you may have more money than when you started but you have lost your credibility so you are bound to die poor unless you mend your ways.

In shudhdha Hindi - sudhar ja abhi bhi vakt hai |

We Indians are tolerant, we forgive those who change for better.

- V
A face in Indian crowd

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Path to Legendary Success

Musical Weekend

Last weekend turned out to be the most musically charged weekend of my life so far. I went for two live musical concerts of two female singers back to back. Both of them were immensely talented, sang similar type of songs and managed to win our hearts in contrasting styles. Both concerts were quite similar and contrasting at the same time.

First one was Asha Bhosale concert, the other one was Ketaki (and Suvarna) Mategaonkar concert. Mother tongue of both singers was same as mine - Marathi. Both of them had started singing at very young age. Asha Bhosale was performing perhaps for the last time in Singapore as she had declared that she may not be doing live concerts anymore. For Ketaki, it was her first concert in Singapore. Asha Bhosale , 82, wowed the audience by singing songs like a teenagers and Ketaki, 21, a teenager herself, impressed us by singing mature songs way beyond her age. The audience was blown away to see Ashaji stand and sing for over two hours,  at that age. I heard most of the people around me murmur that they were sure that at 82, they would neither be able to sing nor stand for two hours, leave alone doing both together.  In contrast, young, energetic Ketaki sang sitting down in traditional style for over two hours. Both of them were true to their art form in contrasting style. Songs they sang were similar, the way they connected with audience and made them feel part of the show was similar. Another of similarity was towering presence of their families throughout the performance. Ketaki sang with her mother and her father anchored the show and played keyboard at the same time.  While Ashaji kept talking endlessly about her illustrious family, her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar, her father Deenanath Mangeshkar and her siblings. Contribution of their families to their art and the success they had achieved was felt strongly by us. Both of them ruled the audiences' hearts but heeded to their 'once-more' requests at the same time. We were thoroughly entertained by both these artists.

Two days after the concerts, as I look back, thing that is stuck in my mind is something that Ashaji said about her profession. Once she was asked by a reporter what would she had become if she hadn't become a singer. Her answer was touching. She had said that she would have become an ordinary woman who cooks, cleans and takes care of her husband and kids as she didn't know anything else other than music. Singing was in born, it was in genes, it wasn't a thought through career option. Ashaji didn't evaluate any other option over singing. May be due to the situation combined with talent nothing else really came close. Perhaps when she started her career and sang her initial songs for less Rs. 100 per song, she may not have known that she would become an all time great singer, she may not have foreseen that she would be called The Last Empress and loved all over the world. In real life, there are no road-signs that tell you how successful you are or whether you are headed in the right direction or how fast you are going or where you are likely to reach. If you are talented, bold enough to follow your heart and work with passion you may become a legend.

Whether Ketaki becomes a legend or not or for that matter anyone of us becomes a legend in our field or not only time will tell. But Ashaji has certainly shown us a path to Legendary Success!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Parenting the Parents - II

Parenting the Parents!

When my son was about 3-4 years old he loved the cartoon series "Thomas and Friends". This was a cute series in which there were a number of railway engines eager to take more work from their boss - The fat controller and complete them despite all challenges. All of them wanted to be praised and patted by The fat controller who seemed to have just one criteria, who was the most useful engine. Each engine had a different persona, Thomas was the friendliest and most liked, Percy was his best friend - always watchful,supporting Thomas, James was a proud achiever so on and so forth. The bottom line was despite all their differences all them wanted to perform to their best and be the most useful engine. When my son was a fan of this show, he would feel happy if we tell him things he could do. He would always insist on carrying a small bag which he could pull himself when we traveled together. He would love watering the plants or finding my cell phone and retrieving it for me. I still don't know if this need was induced by watching the serial or the serial was made based on this basic need in kids to be useful to their parents.

My son grew out of Thomas a while ago but the basic idea of the show still lingers in my mind. 'Being useful to your near and dear ones' Does it really make you happy? Is this such an important need to have? Was it just a kids entertainment show or was it a deep human need manifested in that show? I didn't know. I wasn't really sure about this till last month.

In last few months, I had to spend a considerable amount of time with my parents by myself - no wife, no son.  My parents needed my help and I had to set aside all my meetings, client engagements and all work related things to be with them. That was the first time I realized my parents are getting old and they need help in small mundane things. I arranged their stationary drawer for them. Filed some old bills and documents for my father. Helped him copy phone numbers from old diary to new. Helped my mom do pest control based on home remedy column in local newspaper. I took her for grocery shopping, let her choose what she wanted, carried her bags. I took her to her favorite flour mill, rather than asking her to by atta from a supermarket. Now a day, when I go back to India, I don't feel like bargaining, yet I bargained with vegetable and fruit vendors the way she likes, just to make her happy. Drove around my father to do his errands, which he normally does himself. To my surprise, this made me tremendously happy. I wasn't excited, I wasn't longing for more but it was a calm and contended happiness that filled my mind.

By the time I was ready to leave for Singapore, I could feel invisible tears in their eyes. Their voice was hoarse and their hands were shaky. In past twenty years, I had taken my parents to a lot of fun places. I had taken them on a 3 day cruise, some exotic destinations and fun places. I had taken them to nice restaurants, nicer movies and plays but I had never seen this expression on their face. In all my previous trips they would tell me to take care, do well, succeed and take care of grandchild. But this time they said they will miss me. They were fighting their tears back and so was I. For the first time in so many years they said they would miss me!!

I was moved beyond my imagination as I got into the cab.

Moments of peace and sight of green fields on backdrop of hazy grey mountains helped me round it all together. In last few days, I helped them in everything they did. Didn't create excitement or enjoyment in their lives but just made their life a bit easier. I was useful for them. It not just made them miss me but also made me happy. It was as if some unknown void was filled. Tears rolled down my cheeks but my mind was filled with calm happiness.

I realized that I had become their Thomas engine for a while. That is when I realized the joy of being the Thomas Engine!!

(If you have missed earlier part I click here -

Friday, May 29, 2015

What is your gender? Forget it... You won't understand!

What is your Gender?

I have travelled to about 30 countries, every country has its own uniqueness but for me Thailand stands out as the most incredible country. When I tell someone that I travel to Thailand once a quarter on work, I can see a sarcastic smile on their faces. The smile translates as - "ya ya we know everyone says they are on business but we know what you guys actually do there." They are obviously hinting at multifaceted sex trade that happens in Thailand. That is the first and most obvious connotation for Thailand. I plan to write a series of blogs that explore some lesser talked about facets of Thailand which transcend beyond sex.

Once I was having a casual over the drink discussion with a group friends about 10 years senior to me. They were talking about their children and their lifestyle etc. The point being discussed was would they be open to a non-Indian daughter-in-law. After a big discussion they turned to a friend who was quiet till then. He said ,"My son is still quite young but I would be happy as long as he marries a girl." This remark effectively put things in perspective and concluded the discussion.

Come to think about it, all of those who have straight sexual orientation and who consider themselves as liberal, open people with global mindset, are able to envisage overcoming the boundaries of caste, religion, nationality or even race but I suspect most of them would struggle to overcome gender bias. Add to that, trans- genders or those who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery (SRS) and they will really be stretching themselves beyond our limit.

My impression is Thailand is the only country in the world where public acceptance of trans-genders is extremely high. Dance shows of trans-genders are main tourist attractions. But outside the show they can walk on streets without being stared at. Lady-boys who opt to work out of sex industry can be easily found in restaurants working alongside usual waiters. From what I see they are easily visible on public places and seem to carry on with their life without any social exclusion. I also read a survey which mentioned Thailand as the capital of sex reassignment surgery. Global transgenders travel to Thailand to get their gender reassigned to their feelings. I am not sure whether the acceptance of trans-genders has lead to Thailand capital of SRS or vice versa but one thing is sure that trans-genders find themselves less excluded from the society in Thailand.

To see if my impression is correct I browsed through wikipedia. I was amazed by what I read. Kathoeys or lady-boys are a distinct section of Thai society. They are found not just in entertainment industry but also business and fashion industry where they play leadership roles. One can find job posts where Lady-boys or second kind of women as they are officially called are preferred over other candidates since they are perceived to be more charismatic and expressive. Even more tangible evidence of their acceptance is a few institutes like Ching Mai Technical Institute have a special toilet for Kathoeys since 2004. Thailand is also one of the few countries who recognize third sex on official documents.

It is very hard for straight people to understand but there three underlying dimensions of our sexual identity - gender role, gender identity and sexual orientation. For rest of the world gender question is digital but in Thailand it is analogue.

In our generation, we have crossed racial boundaries perhaps gender boundaries is our next paradigm.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bombay meri jaan! (Mumbai, my sweetheart)

After staying in quite a few cities across the world I got a chance to stay in Mumbai for couple of weeks. I realized once again that this the city I admire the most, despite all its inadequacies. This city has inspired a lot of writers, poets and film makers who have portrayed different aspects of this city. The Movies explore hidden aspects of life, relationships and motivations of living here. There are various songs composed just about this city. I don't know of any other city which has received such creative attention. Resilience of this city stands out across all the natural calamities and foreign attacks this city has witnessed. I never thought I would find something to talk about this city which I haven't heard of before. But as surprising as it may sound, I did, from management point of view off course.

[caption id="attachment_1120" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Crude but effective tag! Crude but effective tag![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1119" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Enterprenurial instinct at its best! Enterprenurial instinct at its best![/caption]

In this city, it appears as if everyone has a plan. Everyone has figured out what they want in life and they are running after that. Whether rich or poor, men or children, immigrants or locals everyone seems to be clear about their dreams and way to reach there. That's why everyone is in a hurry. Once I was at a bus stop and a beggar approached me. Usually, I avoid paying them anything but this time I thought of paying him a small tip. I took out my wallet, as usual all coins from different countries were mixed in my wallet, I took a while to find Indian coins. As I picked it up to offer it to the beggar, to my surprise he was gone. Even a beggar didn't have time to wait to get his alimony. Even he was clear about who his potential donor was.

Mumbai is also oozing with entrepreneurial instincts and ideas. I met up Prashant a shop-keeper. He has a shoe shop barely enough for him to sit. He uses the vertical area as display. When I was buying a pair of slippers, I noticed something unusual. He had some chillies and lemons in front of him. Usually people use a string of lemons and chillies to protect from evil eye. I asked him what was that all about.

He replied that there was a small temple right in front of his shop. He saw people buying the lemon-chilly string every Saturday. Some customers started asking him if he had them. Thats when he started stocking them. Soon he integrated backwards and started making them in his spare time. He developed some specialization by using an ingredient that wasn't easily available. Soon he got a loyal client base. In due course, the temple shifted elsewhere but due to his specialized ingredient the customers kept coming back. And he runs two unrelated businesses concurrently from same premises. What an amazing entrepreneurial story!!! I accidentally stumbled upon this. Imagine if one starts hunting for such stories, there were would be stories galore.

Also realized that this city is extremely meritocratic. Its the work you do, the value you add that counts not your age or years of experience. You find many young entrepreneurs who do well in this city alongside oldies who are doing same thing year after year. In my recent trip, I was staying at a local no-star hotel. I called the reception and asked for my laundry to be picked up.
The receptionist said , "Theek hai sir. Ladake ko bhej deta hu" (Ok. I will send my boy)
After 5 mins there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and was surprised to see a man on the side of fifties on my door to collect the laundry. I was expecting fresher, younger person who might have just joined the hotel to do this job. But I had an elderly person at my door. He couldn't be called as a "ladka" or boy by amy stretch of imagination.
I asked,"Ladka busy hai kya? Aap aaye ho" (Is the usual laundry-boy busy?)
He said ,"Nahi sir. Mai hi ladka hu. Abhi abhi aaya hu chhota mota kam karana padata hai, Paisa thik hai par log ladka ladka bulate hai" ( No. I do the odd jobs here. They pay me well but call me a "boy" despite my age.)
Since he was doing low skilled odd jobs, it was only appropriate that he was called a boy - a beginner - despite his age. It may sound harsh but meritocracy is another name for harsh world.

Another thing I noticed is although this city appears chaotic, it runs on smartly designed, efficient but crude looking systems. Dabavalas and their six sigma process is legendary but every small business also has its own system. I used the laundry facilities in the same hotel. I guessed that many hotels and shops have a common vendor to do the laundry. Obviously, on a daily basis hundreds of clothes would be collected from various pick-up points, brought to central location, washed, ironed and sent back to respective pick-up points. All this should be done without any error ie I should get back all my clothes and should not get anybody else's clothes. I was quite curious to see what system they follow. Do they have any RFID or bar code or at least some computerized records? Well, its neither of these three. I discovered a small tag which was an inexpensive, custom made but an unsophisticated tag. This custom tag contained the entire information about the origin of the piece and the batch size. This simple looking tag eliminated any possibility of an error. The system looked very unsophisticated but it worked. I imagine that this whole chaotic looking city works on such crude but effective systems.

I spent just a week in this city and learnt so much. No wonder poets who live here sings its praises - yeh hai Bombay meri jaan!! (This city is my sweetheart!!)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Invitation to download my first e-Book for FREE - A Launch offer for a limited time

whydoindian scover

Why Do Indians Kindle Version


Dear Readers,

It gives me immense pleasure to share my first published book with you. It is a milestone in my writing journey and was possible only because of you. It was here that I discovered and practised the art of writing. Your readership and conversations gave me the confidence and courage to take this milestone step in my writing journey.

My book "Why Do Indians..?" is dedicated to "All my international friends who asked me difficult questions Those innumerable blog readers who appreciated my answers" !

As a token of my gratitude, I am offering a FREE download of my book to all of you.

To do so,

1. Please login to your amazon account and check your Digital Content Settings ( -> Your account - > Digital Content setting -> Manage Your Content and Devices)
2. If the country settings are Singapore or Malaysia, you may have to change them to a country other than these two.
3. Start your kindle device. If you do not have a kindle device, please download kindle app on your smartphone or tablet.
4. Search for "Why do Indians..?" in your kindle device or in your kindle app
5. Download my e-Book free till Tuesday 19th May 2015.

Do read and convey your feedback via amazon reviews.

Yours sincerely,
- Vivek

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Parenting The Parents

Sometime when you are 40-something and your parents are 70-something, the role slowly reverses. You need to bite the bullet and become a parent of your parents. They start asking for your opinion or help in things they could easily do before. They start acknowledging that your life is a lot difficult and fast paced than theirs and that what you are doing would have been difficult for them to do. Their illogical behavior may surface and they may resist things that are slam-dunk. These are some of the signs that you are entering a Parent-Your-Parents phase.

One of my cousins had jokingly told me a secret formula of dealing with parents. He said, “If your dad is 75 years old, that is just his physical age. To know his mentality, you have to minus his age from 90. So your dads mental age is 15. Expect him to behave like a teenager” :)

I had forgotten all about this conversation till I got a chance to stay with my parents for a few weeks all by myself recently. It was a refreshing yet eye-opening experience. I learnt a few things along the way.

Like teenagers look up to their parents, your parents secretly look up to you. They may resist your suggestions, they may challenge you but they still need you. They need you to understand their concerns and make decisions for them. They may tell you where their comfort zone ends. In things beyond that zone, you need to assume higher responsibility of their welfare. They realise that the world has changed and their methods do not work anymore. So they need someone to lean on, who could be better than someone who is a part of their soul.

They want you to listen to them like you would listen to your school going kid. Just like your kid, whatever they say may not make much sense to you but you still got to listen with a lot of interest. In both cases, whatever you hear may be completely illogical but you still got to ask those leading questions “Oh really, what did you say then?” than dismissing the story off-hand.

Like pre-teens they want you to be around even if they are doing their own thing. They may not talk to you, they may not look at you but they are happy that you are around. They want you to look at them doing things, wait for them, drive them around, extend a helping hand.

Like kids doing their homework, they want to do things their way – right or wrong. They are not interested in your online bill payments – they want you to stand in the queue and pay that telephone bill in cash. They are not interested in looking at bank balance online – they want their passbook filled up. Period. Don’t try to tell them their method is wrong. Like kids, they would never agree. It has to be done their way. And that’s it.

Boys and Girls need attention. Men and Women need respect. Parents need acceptance. As they head to the sunset, they want to hear that their life had some meaning. If they had made some mistakes, they want you to be magnanimous and say its OK. If they had any missed opportunities, they want to hear that you did just fine without those.

Happy parenting your parents!!

(Originally published on

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Five Learnings about Feminism

I had missed Deepika’s “My Choice” video when it was at it peak of circulation. I did read some cryptic and most others forthright messages commenting on the video.  I did read all the spoofs, rebuttals and counter-attacks on this video. I could understand why men are reacting to the video that way but when I saw some women disapproving the video, I decided to watch it and talk and blog about it. 

The video is visually stunning, the script is powerful, the presentation is gripping only one problem they claim to represent women from all walks of life in India. If this video claimed to represent Deepika’s own views I would have stood up and applauded the video. There is nothing objectionable about the video if Deepika is talking for herself. But sadly that wasn’t the case. The introduction to the video talks about empowering women, trying to include women from all walks of life but sadly most of noticeable faces belong to certain enviable class of women where only burning problems are what to wear and whom to have sex with. Thats where they get disconnected with Indian women at large. My guess is, most women who are disapproving the video are not necessarily upset with the message but probably they are upset that Deepika is claiming that she represents them.

So I decided to talk to some good friends and do some soul searching. Result is five important learnings about Feminism.

  1. Feminism has nothing to do with men : The common misconception which is sadly amplified by “My Choice” video is feminist females want to break all shackles, all rules and challenge men on their turf. Also calling for men-women equality is not fair especially to women, they are far more capable. So men have to stop feeling threatened and women need to take feminism above men. Feminism has to be about females. fullstop.

  2. Feminism is highly individual matter: I think most conflicts happen when someone tries to generalize feminism, same cardinal mistake done in the video. I spoke to many of my women-friends about feminism. What I consistently heard is feminism is freedom to do what the woman wants without fear of being judged within the boundaries drawn for herself by the woman. I think this is the most important point. Each woman should have freedom to draw her own boundaries and be free within them.

  3. Feminism may be at risk from other women too : Like men should not define the boundaries for the woman, other women should also not define boundaries for her. Like men should not judge the woman on choices she makes, other women should also not judge her in the choices she makes. That's why when Deepika says “having sex outside marriage is my choice, having sex with man or woman or both my choice” many women disapprove. Probably, they mean - “Speak for yourself lady. We are neither interested in sex outside marriage nor with women” This is my guess.

  4. Feminism is many enemies in disguise : At the cost of sounding sensational, I want to say that feminism is at a very high risk from industries such as fashion /beauty industry than MCPs. I read an interesting quote “World would go into recession if tomorrow all women get up and feel happy about their body, looks, hair, nails etc etc” I am sorry to say but current fashion / beauty industry are enemies in disguise for women. They are designed to exploit vulnerabilities and make women want things which otherwise they won’t care.  They manipulate woman’s mind and change the boundaries that woman would define for themselves. In the name of liberation they create lifestyle and images that are neither desirable nor achievable. Feminist woman should therefore save themselves from these organized enemies in disguise.

  5. Suppression / Liberation are feelings, don’t judge them by looks: I had heard a joke - If you are driving on a highway anyone going slower than you is an idiot and anyone going faster is a reckless driver. Symptoms of feminism are similar. If some woman have more restrictions than you does not mean they are suppressed and on the contrary just because some others have more freedom does not mean they are liberated. Just because women is certain countries wear burkha / hijaab doesn’t mean they are suppressed. Just because women in certain countries can do whatever they want does not mean they are liberated. Its all about what those women feel inside, don’t judge by what you see. 

My appeal to all men is treat feminism as the most appropriate way to make your woman happy.

My appeal to all women is make feminism a completely private matter, be protective about it not just from men but from other women and enemies who appear to be friends.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Try to miss your flight once in a while!


A few months ago I missed my flight. I was supposed to travel to Jakarta; there was no pressing meeting immediately after I landed. Probably, that is the reason I took it easy. I overslept; I had not pre-booked the taxi so it took me a while to get one. The traffic was a lot worse than usual and worst of all despite all my travel experience I had forgot to tele-check-in. I knew well before I reached the airport that I may not be able to make it in time. So I started praying to none in particular, I mean who do you pray to and what do you say? So I just wished that some miracle happens and I reach there before time.

 But I didn’t. I got down from the cab and ran towards the check-in counters. They were crowded so I went to self-check in counters and entered all my details. The faithful machine won’t give me my boarding pass. So I looked around helplessly, when the sales person deputed to help the self-check-in customers found me and took me to a special counter. My despair took a positive turn; I started seeing imaginary light at the end of the tunnel.

 The person at the counter informed me that the flight had been closed for check-in and there is nothing he could do.

I refused to give up and said, “I don’t have any check-in luggage. I will zip through the immigration. Please do something and issue a boarding pass”

He gave me a wry smile, supressed his irritation and contempt for passengers who turn up late and irritate him and said, “Sir, the counter closes 50 minutes before the departure. You are late. Very late.”

“I got stuck in traffic”, that was my spontaneous excuse. But why should he be bothered? Why should he go beyond call of his duty? But all these questions never occurred to me. I just wanted to miraculously make him change his mind and get that boarding pass. I went on for another 10 minutes without making any sense and he lost his patience.

He said, “Please meet my duty manager” Actually, he was turning me down but I felt as if he has given me another opportunity or told me another approach which might work. My awful feeling inside was going through sinusoidal wave.

I ran to the duty manager who was busy speaking in his walkie-talkie. I explained my ‘unique’ problem to him and requested him to issue me a boarding pass. He typed something on his keyboard, furiously looked at his computer screen for a minute or two and said, “Sorry sir, we can’t help you. The boarding has already started. They are about to close the gate. We have to go by rules”

It became clear to me that I am not boarding that flight. I had nobody else but myself to be blamed. I sat for a while to think about the repercussions. Firstly, I had to find the next flight. Communicate that timing to my office in Jakarta to ensure the pick-up arrives on revised time. I was planning to meet a friend over dinner which had to be changed to drinks post dinner. I had to inform wife who might be tracking my flight and landing time and may get worried. There were so many loose ends to take care of.

I first booked my ticket and checked-in. Then called my wife to inform her she was quite concerned but I assured her that I would be able to manage the situation. Then I messaged my team, my Jakarta office, my friend etc. It took me next 30 minutes to set things right.

Although, it was a relatively minor incident and my missing flight didn’t really matter much, I became very alert. I would leave for the airport 30 minutes too early; I would ensure that I was tele-checked-in and carry a printed boarding pass no matter what.  I always pre-booked my taxi and watched the map before I left to see the traffic conditions and choose my route wisely. Ever since then I became extra cautious and determined not to miss my flight ever again.

I have been travelling for work for last 19 years. This was probably the first time I missed my flight due to carelessness. But it just shook me out of my complacency. It helped me to re-focus on the way I was planning my travel and helped to improve some aspects of it. Although, the pain of uncertainty and fear of losing face were temporary, they made their mark. They became the constant reminder not to slip back in comfort zone and take things for granted. All in all I had taken the entire episode very positively and worked on it to make things better for me.

How exciting would it be, I thought to myself, if we are able to treat our life experiences this way. How nice would it be if we are able to take a minor spousal argument this way and make necessary changes to ourselves to be a better couple? Or how productive would it be if we took that small order loss seriously and reviewed the entire sales process? Or how punctual would we be if we took that minor slippage in deadline seriously to put the entire project back on track? May be these small slippages in life or work don’t cause so much pain as missing flight would cause. Or maybe we don’t own it up and blame someone else for the slippage and therefore miss this opportunity to set everything right. Or maybe we don’t try to fix the right problem. Whatever may be the reason, I thought  that we don’t react to these small inconsequential slip-ups in life as much as we could. May be choosing to react to them in a right way may change life for better.

…So try and lose the flight once in a while, you may not regret it!!