Monday, November 28, 2011

Hyderabad Blues

Finally went to a destination which was not Trichur or Chennai. This time I went to Hyderabad. For once it was a change. Of course it did look a lot familiar to me. As most buildings resembled the ones in my hometown of Chennai but this was more of a hilly city.
The Salar Jung museum is definitely worth seeing especially for history buffs like me. But apparently they have removed most of the valuable stuff like jewels. (Or this is the news conveyed to me by a relative). But the statue of veiled Rebecca, the musical clock and the double figured wooden statue with Mephistopheles and the image of Margaretta in the mirror was really good. I am a museum geek. I have loved Mysore palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in the past. But I know that this may not be very interesting to people who dont really care much for History.

Next up was the Charminar. I really wished somebody would paint it with Apex Ultima. I mean when all  other countries can maintain their landmarks so well why cant we?? Apparently this is a UNESCO world heritage site.And its not like we dont have the money. It would cost only a few crores compared to the thousands of crores being scammed in nationwide scams! People just dont care anymore or what? Or is it that we want to portray ourselves continuously as a third world country?

The Birla Mandir was a much better site with all the marble. And of course it has one of the best views of this hilly city. Wish I could have stayed for more than an hour over there but we had a wedding reception to attend the same evening.

The next whole day was spent at Ramoji Film City. We had a funny tour guide, who cracked his jokes with the most serious expression on his face. Maybe he was made to mug a script by-heart? Anyways this has been spread over a sprawling 2500 acres. Supposedly the largest film city in the world.Lots to walk. The movie making and stunt shows were good. Food was horrible and overpriced.I dont think I would want to go back there again just for this one reason.And we werent lucky enough to witness a live shooting.

The last day was spent visiting relatives. And finally in the evening we went to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport to return to Dubai. This was by far the best airport I have been to in India. It definitely was of international standards. And even Jet Airways runs much better flights to and from Hyderabad compared to the lousy flights they normally send to Chennai. All in all it was a pleasant trip. And my next destination-> yup gotta be Bombay a.k.a Mumbai.

Monday, October 31, 2011

One shop to love!

So my mom called me up Saturday morning with bad news. The shop I had been going to for the last eight years to buy salwar kameez closed down. She tried enquiring around if he had shifted but nobody at Alsa Mall had any idea where the shopkeeper left. We had the landline telephone number which is not working anymore. So there! One more shutdown of a location I used to frequently visit. First it was the Woodlands drive in hotel , then the beauty parlour and now this. While the hotel was shutdown for a garden being built in its place. The other two was mainly because of bad business.

Just a week back my boss was talking to his colleague about the MBA student who had not paid his fees yet. Apparently the guy was the son of a small grocery store owner. And basically due to poor business the boy could not afford the fee any longer.

Running a shop is no joke. Even if it is a small one. In fact I believe its harder if you have a very small shop. You not only have competition from the smaller shops nearby, but huge gigantic hypermarkets can easily weigh you down in a jiffy. So in what way can you set your shop apart? Good customer service! But I have always felt the staff at Lulu and Carrefour more friendlier than the people in smaller shops. Could it be because of low wages? I really dont know.

But all the same I still feel sorry for the owners of small grocery stores especially in major cities.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are these gadgets really necessary?

So Steve Jobs passed away last week. Zillions of people mourned over his death. People whom he never really knew. But seriously, if you could take a look at all the three famous products from the Apple in the last decade, they were all gadgets that we could easily do without. And basically they were stuff meant for just show off.

Let's start with the ipod. There are so many lesser known mp3 players which are much more user friendly than the ipod. Then came the iphone with its oh so many add-ons for social networking. It just increased the number of useless status updates in my Facebook page. Because people bought this phone paying so much that they had to let the whole world know that they were using it. And then they started using it for all features except for making a phone call (which is what a cellphone was invented to do in the first place)! After that came the ipad. Now we have laptops, desktops and practically all internet browsing tools now on the phone itself, so why one more six-inch tablet PC whose functionality could be easily replicated by all the afore mentioned devices?

So people land up spending money on stuff that they dont really need to begin with and made the company bigger and richer. I have survived ten years without purchasing any of their products. And I am sure that if I can survive without this for so many years, then so will other people.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bad Customer Service?

Many a time I have felt that I have been discriminated against just because I am an Indian. The most recent incident occurred when I went into the Splash retail outlet in one of Dubai's malls. I had picked up a few clothes which were on sale and had proceeded to the billing counter. First the lady standing at the counter I chose left the counter at that very moment.I waited thinking she will be back soon. She just disappeared. The guy standing at the next billing counter was busy with another customer for a while. We were the only two customers at the billing counter by the way.

Another lady from a different nationality walked into the shop and this guy at the counter instructs one of the sales girls to attend to her!! Hey there was no special attention given to me when I was shopping? And how does this guy assume who will shop for more money or what if that woman walks out of there buying nothing at all. I waited five more minutes and then I left the clothes on the counter and walked out of the shop. No sorry , no calling me back, nothing! Its almost as if these people were trained to not care! What an insult. And who should we complain to about such insults? There wasnt even a manager on duty!!And this is not just a one-off occurrence here, in fact ir happens here more than in any other place I know.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Plight of Watching TV..........

Last week the news channels in India were agog with the news of Sachin Tendulkar moving into a new home. Apparently it cost him 39 crores in Indian rupees to buy it and almost as much in renovating it. So we are talking about a Rs 75 crore plus home! Well he is my favorite player , but all the same 75 crores for a house was a bit too much for me to digest. I mean 5 crores , 6 crores is also normal but 75?
Is it really required? And what would be the yearly cost of maintaining all that?
The Indian media is slowly going the British and the American way. All those guys ever used to talk about were the boooorrrring Beckhams. Hopefully they will not get into Sachin and Anjali's hairstyle and clothes!!!!Already they are behind Sakshi Dhoni's style of dressing. God alone knows what's next. Its like people dont care about meaningful news anymore.
One of my favorite channels on TV is a German channel called DW TV. The programs are divided such that one hour in German is followed by one hour in English. As I dont understand German I watch only the English programs. But the way these programs are taken with very little irritating advertisements in between is a marvel. And the content itself is so much better and clear to understand that I dont think any one of the Indian channels are even qualified to compete with them. Even if Indian media dont follow the same pattern, cant they atleast take meaningful topics? Such as advancements in research for instance.
And probably the most boring and yet nasty type of program is the Big Boss. This was an unnecessary program that we borrowed from the west. Just because Shilpa Shetty went and wept on the program 5 years ago and got herself a millionaire husband, doesnt mean that everybody is that lucky or that ordinary people have the time and the energy to waste on it.And what culture does it promote anyway? Of intolerance??? I just cant believe the junk we have to watch on TV these days. High time I get rid of the idiot box and just go back to the good old radio minus the RJ's of course.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Train trip - GVR to TCR

Since its introduction in the year 1994 this has been a memorable train journey for me. I am talking about this short train journey between Trichur and Guruvayur in Kerala, India. This is a journey that I undertake almost every year without exception

Its 35 to 40 mins of pure lush greenery. Right after starting from the Gurvayur Station and the train moves a bit, we see the level cross from where we pray for one last time looking towards the East Nada of the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple(of course we cant really see the temple from the level cross but still we try to crane our necks as if we can).

But thereafter the greenery along the route transports you to your own imaginary world and then you forget all your worries and problems till you reach your destination. Of course thereafter in my case I have to catch a train to Chennai and then a flight to Dubai. But for that half an hour you dont think about city life or work or anything and just try to store these images somewhere in your brain.

This is one of the few things that has remained the same in my life. Even the train ticket is priced at less than one dirham! Sigh , I wish I didnt have to slog it out here in the Gulf.

Career Change

We spend a good portion of our life working and it's important to make sure that what we do is meaningful and fufilling. Regardless of your current job, take time to mull over whether what you're doing is what you want to be doing. If not, consider how to take another career path. You never know where you might end up!

The above paragraph and umpteen other articles that I have read in books and internet articles have not helped my career much. I am still back to square one. I was a not-so-bad computer science engineer.
Although I hated the job I was still respected in a society which churns out God knows how many software engineers every year. But I am still lacking one important factor essential to every person's career i.e LUCK.

I know I have mentioned this before, but seriously I need this factor more than anything else now.This must be something running in my family. I mean my dad worked under a boss for more than 20 years.

My dad had been a qualified chartered accountant , cost accountant and company secretary. The boss was only a cost accountant.My dad retired 5 years ago, the boss who was almost seven years older still survives in the company!

From this example I have understood that it is not a lack of qualifications that held him back. And if anything he has worked a lot harder than I ever did in my whole life. So what was missing , of course it is LUCK.

There are countless examples that I can give of people who didnt deserve the positions or salary they held but still had them because of this extraordinary luck factor.Being in the right place at the right time is a sentence that really carries a lot of weight in today's scenario.

My first team leader in an IT company had told me years ago to always do what is it that you want to do. But familial constraints(had to relocate after marriage) , environmental constraints(limited scope for IT professionals) and host of other reasons mean that I really cannot do what I really really want to do.

Add to that is the fact that all people are selfish as a rule. And this includes even your friends. Other than your parents nobody in this life wants to you to get ahead. They might sympathise or empathise with you but they will never help you to get ahead in life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Annual Vacations

My Annual Vacations are mostly an ordeal. Its a shuttle between the place I was brought up i.e. Chennai and the place I was born i.e. Kerala. Needless to say I hate vacations, but it is a neccessary evil that I have to do at least once every year if not more. My BP shoots up higher there than my normal working days in Dubai. Because there the tensions range from why so and so commented on me this way starting from you have grown so fat to when are you giving us good news and why did you change the job line from IT!!! Like they really cared a damn about me. They just had to ask questions that hurt me. The kind of questions that bring an expression on my face that is quite similar to that lady's in the nappy ad where she sees her baby boy sitting in a pool of his urine(I think it was huggies, not so sure though) when they are playing hide and seek.

Anyways I know now that I will never be able to get into the marketing department of any company, because I have lived for five years with the most stubborn customer one has ever come across i.e my husband. I tried my level best in convincing him in going to a place other than India for a vacation this time. He happily did not cave in saying he didnt have the money. But oh yes, he had the money to turn up for a golden jubilee alumni event which did not feature any of his classmates and that too for just 3 days!! Oh ya I am not a good talker and I can never be a lawyer either cos I just dont know how to argue with this man let alone argue with another lawyer in front of a judge.

Anyway coming back to the annual vacation , I have realised rather painfully that amongst my relatives people returning from the Gulf have lower value than those coming from the US and the UK. In fact some people are wondering how come I travel once every three months to India. Isnt it recession time? Well for starters the flight is only 3 and a half hours and the ticket prices are much cheaper than travelling to US and UK. And about getting holidays , we get the same amount of holidays except that unlike the US , UK NRIs we dont travel anywhere else except to India. And we dont take days off for hiking , trekking, rock climbing etc. Our only form of entertainment are the huge malls and the cinemas. And if do you dont earn much you dont spend much in these shops anyway!

I am quite fed up of this whole vacation commotion. From now on even if I dont travel to exotic foreign locales I will be travelling to hill stations like Ooty or Kodai as they bring me a lot of calm which I just dont get anywhere else.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just dance!!

My entire weekend was in front of the TV this time. I have watched Just Dance in three languages namely Hindi , Tamil and Malayalam. Believe me when I say that the tamil and malayalam versions of this program were hilarious. Rather than dubbing the program they should have just shown the subtitles in those respective languages. But no they dont do that. They make Farah and Vaibhavi speak in Malayalam and Tamil instead. But while even that was watchable, the worst part was the fake accent they gave to the contestants who had auditioned in London. It reminded one of the ab trimmer exercises in teleshopping where they have foreigners speak in tamil and malayalam.
Speaking of the program itself, while watching it you are aware that there is immense talent in India. But then again most of them were doing locking, crumping , piping , whatever whatever. And everybody seems to have a lot of knowledge about them, But what about our bharatanatyam or our folk dances. A few dancers attempted kathak, lavni and odissi but they were a mere handful. And most of them hopeless. And since when did Michael Jackson become a dance form? With all due respect to the singer, I think its high time we stop encouraging his clones.
Most of these dancers dont have one primary element required of a dancer and that is called grace! Not one of them was graceful in the way they danced. Its like they would jump into acrobatics anytime , so why not call the program dance ka circus like comedy circus. And of the final 21 people who made it only about 5 or 6 could be called really good when you compare them with dancers who came on Dance India Dance. I dont think we should call them best dancers in the world anyways. Hopefully there would be better episodes in the coming weeks as the program seems to be banking only on Hrithik Roshan's charms as of now and some melodrama here and there with contestants crying et al.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tharoor on Kerala!

A couple of years ago, I was invited to address the Trivandrum Management Association on the subject “energizing Kerala”. I found that odd, because the only place in the world where Keralites seem to need energizing is Kerala. Look around the planet, and you see Keralites everywhere, working extremely hard, from menial jobs in the Gulf to professorships in the States, displaying their entrepreneurial energies and achieving remarkable successes. So what is it that holds them back here, in their home state? Is it resources, policies, attitudes, politics? All of the above?

It’s always been a curious paradox that Keralites put in long hours in places like the Gulf, where they have earned a reputation for being hard-working and utterly reliable, while at home they are seen as indolent and strike-prone. Surely the same people couldn’t be so different in two different places? And yet they are – for one simple reason: the politicized environment at home. It’s a reputation that has come to haunt Kerala. Several people told me the story of how BMW had been persuaded to install a car-manufacturing plant in the state, thanks to generous concessions by the UDF government. But the very day the BMW executives arrived in Kerala to sign the deal, they were greeted by a “bandh”: the State had shut down over some marginal political issue, cars were being blocked on the streets, shops were closed by a hartal. It had nothing to do with BMW or with foreign investment, but the executives beat a hasty retreat. The plant was set up
in Tamil Nadu.

The irony is that Kerala has got some essential things right. One famous study has established some astonishing parallels between the United States and the state of Kerala. The life expectancy of a male American is 72, that of a male Keralite 70. The literacy rate in the United States is 95%; in Kerala it is 99%. The birth rate in the US is 16 per thousand; in Kerala it is 18 per thousand, but it is falling faster. The gender ratio in the United States is 1050 females to 1000 males; in Kerala it is 1040 to 1000, and that in a country where neglect of female children has dropped the Indian national ratio to 930 women for 1000 men. Death rates are also comparable, as are the number of hospital beds per 100,000 population and the number of newspapers per 10,000 population (where Kerala is ahead of the US). The major difference is that the annual per capita income in Kerala is around $300 to $350, whereas in the US it is $22,500, about seventy times as much.

Kerala has, in short, all the demographic indicators commonly associated with "developed" countries, at a small fraction of the cost. Its success is a reflection of what, in my book India: From Midnight to the Millennium (Malayalam: “Ardha Ratri Muthal Nootande”), I have called the "Malayali miracle": a state that has practised openness and tolerance from time immemorial; which has made religious and ethnic diversity a part of its daily life rather than a source of division; which has overcome caste discrimination and class oppression through education, land reforms, and political democracy; which has given its working men and women greater rights and a higher minimum wage than anywhere else in India; and which has honoured its women and enabled them to lead productive, fulfilling and empowered lives.

And yet, despite all these strengths, it’s difficult to deny that Kerala has failed to move from its agrarian past into meaningful industrialization, principally because it has acquired a less than positive reputation as a place to invest. “Keralites are far too conscious of their rights and not enough of their duties,” one expatriate Malayali businessman told me. “It’s impossible to get any work done by a Keralite labour force – and then there are those unions!” He sighed. “Every time we persuade an industrialist to invest in Kerala, it ends badly.” Citing the examples of the Gwalior Rayons plant in Mavoor, the Premier Tyre factory in Kalamassery and the Apollo Tyres plant in Chalakudi, my friend shook his head. “I am a Malayali,” he declared, “but I would not advise anyone to invest in Kerala.”

This is what needs to change if we are not to languish in the margins of India’s development success story. The challenge remains. When he was kind enough to launch my book, The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone, (Malayalam: “Puthu Yugum, Puthu India”), our Chief Minister chided me for my book’s criticism of hartals, saying that it was through such popular struggles that the people of Kerala had advanced. But even if that were true, the advances of yesterday have already happened; the advances of tomorrow require work, not hartals.

The fact is that we cannot afford to remain dependent on remittances from abroad for 20% of our state’s income because we have such an inhospitable environment at home. We cannot languish in last place in the World Bank’s 2009 “Doing Business in India” report, because it takes 210 days to obtain approvals and permits in Kochi against 80 days in Hyderabad. We cannot live with unusably narrow roads because we lack the courage to explain to residents why they must be widened in the interests of all. We cannot have one of the lowest rankings (lower than Orissa) in per capita information technology exports. We cannot be a state that our best minds and most skilled workers seek to flee because opportunities for remunerative work are stifled by opportunistic politics.

Most of this newspaper’s readers would be familiar with the story of the sinking of the ocean-liner Titanic in the early years of the last century, or at least have seen the film. For almost a hundred years till now, it was believed that the sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage from Southampton in England to New York in America was caused by the ship moving too fast and the crew failing to see the iceberg before it was too late. But now a new book, authored by a descendant of one of the officers of the ship, says that it was not an accident caused by speed, but by a steering blunder. It seems that the ship had plenty of time to miss the iceberg but the helmsman actually panicked and turned the ship the wrong way, and by the time the error was corrected, it was too late and the ship's side was fatally holed by the iceberg. The error occurred because at the time, seafaring was undergoing an enormous upheaval as a result of the conversion from sail to steam ships. The change meant there were two different steering systems and different commands attached to them. When the First Officer spotted the iceberg two miles away, his order was misinterpreted by the QuarterMaster, who turned the ship left instead of right.

In a sense, Kerala’s development failure has been like the story of the Titanic. As with the confusion caused by the new era where sail ships were being replaced by steamships, today those who rule us appear unsettled by the global changes which have moved the economic system far beyond their old paradigms and theories. By opposing computers and mobile phones, blocking land acquisition for development work, and impeding economic reforms, they have steered the ship of State left instead of right. If we don’t steer it back urgently, we are heading into the iceberg.

The fact is that there is nothing wrong with the ship -- Kerala, its people, its resources or its potential. But we have to move with the times and not be left behind where other states are moving forward by steering in the right direction. Reliance on NRI remittances will not solve the basic problem, since remittance money is essentially personal savings and spent on conspicuous consumption, including purchase of land and the construction of dwellings. Kerala has to attract the normal type of investment funds which are being put to use by the rest of the country. This will only happen if we are hospitable to investors.

This does not mean betraying our workers, but finding them work. It does not mean giving up our values, but adding value to our economy. It does not mean placing profit above people, but rather, using profits to benefit the people.

We are seeing the beginnings of a counter-narrative. The Cochin Shipyard recently succeeded in building huge Trader class ships for a Bermuda company, ahead of deadline. Shipbuilding is a highly labour-intensive industry; some 30 percent of the input is human labour, which is what makes it ideal for us. The workers at Cochin Shipyard – unionized to a man – have demonstrated that labour remains India’s greatest asset, even in Kerala. It does not have to be, as investors have long feared, a liability.

A visit to Trivandrum’s pioneering Technopark confirms that even Kerala’s past failures at attracting and retaining heavy industry are now working in the state’s favour. CEO after CEO told me in glowing terms of their satisfaction with the work environment in Kerala, the quality of the local engineering graduates, and the beauty of the lush and tranquil surroundings. Indeed, One Technopark firm told me of having bid for a contract with a Houston-based company which had drawn up a short-list of Indian service providers and placed the Trivandrum-based company last. The American executives making the final decision flew down to India to inspect the six shortlisted Indian firms. After three harrowing days ploughing through the traffic congestion and pollution of Bombay, Bangalore, and Delhi, they arrived in Trivandrum, checked into the Leela at Kovalam beach, sipped a drink by the seaside at sunset -- and voted unanimously to give the contract to the Kerala firm. “If we have to visit India from time to time to see how our contract is doing,” the chief said, “we’d rather visit Kerala than any other place in India.”

We can and must build on this. Kerala needs to improve its creaking infrastructure, improve its services sector, boost its IT exports, and take advantage of its existing potential to become a knowledge economy. If a Hyderabad company like Portal Player can design the iPod to be manufactured in China for sale in the US, the next world-beating invention can come from Keralite brains in Kerala. This will call for more than just investments from NRKs. It will mean private sector players from abroad and elsewhere in India deciding that investment in Kerala will pay for them. This will, above all, need a change of mindset.

This is why I pursued the opportunity of bringing an IPL team to Kerala. I was convinced that the only antidote to the hidebound statist mentality that has produced such stagnation in Kerala would be the infusion of a venture that is so 21st century in its conception and execution – not just boosting the prospects of our cricketers, but igniting the imaginations of our young people and opening new vistas for businesses, as well as promoting a new surge of “cricket-related tourism” in our state. That investors from Gujarat and Maharashtra were persuaded to team up to bring their venture to Kerala is proof that we too can attract outsiders to invest in our future.

Similarly, to be a knowledge economy we have to open our mental horizons to the world, rather than remaining embedded in the sterile dogmas of shopworn and discredited ideologies. This is why I persuaded the organizers of the world-famous Hay Festival of Literature to bring their Festival not just to India but specifically to the capital of Kerala. The extraordinary enthusiasm with which Hay was received by 3000 attendees in Thiruvananthapuram reflects the hunger of our educated young Keralites to be part of today’s world rather than handmaidens of yesterday’s. Kerala can be India’s intellectual centre, a distinction now abdicated by Bengal after three decades of Marxist rule.

In the same spirit, I have pushed national and international firms to come to the Trivandrum Technopark, the oldest in the country and yet the least global in terms of its composition. HCL has acceded to myrequest and Oracle is actively considering our pitch. Not even the Left disputes that IT is perhaps the most important area for Kerala’s future growth and development; yet, despite the availability of educated young people, relatively low operational costs and a congenial working environment, Kerala has failed to break into the “Big League” because of our failure to attract the major global companies like IBM, Intel or Oracle to set up shop in our state.

But we should also realize that a knowledge economy will not employ all Keralites. We need to improve our agriculture too – particularly cereal, vegetable and fruit production, including for export. And we have to be able to develop industry beyond construction of houses for Gulf Malayalis!

We have already proved that we are capable of innovative change. Our late “Leader”, K. Karunakaran, took the bold step, in the teeth of Leftist opposition, to initiate public-private partnership in 1994 in the construction of Cochin International Airport (CIAL) at Nedumbassery, a model of development only emulated a decade later in the rest of India. This is why I have formally proposed that CIAL be renamed for him – not only to honour him but also to inspire admiration for his innovativeness and courage, qualities that Kerala so direly needs.

I believe that the Kerala that will succeed is one open to the contention of ideas and interests within it, unafraid of the prowess or the products of the outside world, wedded to the democratic pluralism that is our civilization’s greatest strength, and determined to liberate and fulfill the creative energies of its people. Such a Kerala is possible if we change our attitudes and work with determination to fulfil it. God’s Own Country no longer deserves the business reputation of being the devil’s playground.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happiness peaks in old age?

Recently read this interesting article in Bhavan's Journal. Its about people being happiest after they turn 80. Their lives are easier because they have taken care of everything by then, their children are looking after them. The proverbial rat race is over. You have more time for family and friends. No more politics to play (except for the ageing politicians in India of course). But otherwise life is generally the best in your 80's.

I dont think I will live that long but I agree with the being happier part. Despite all her worries my grandmother is definitely happier than I am. I am all of 28 years old. I lost my dream job thanks to the recession and some other reasons. I have been trying since then to claw my way back into the job with no success. I dont have any kids of my own, though kids of other people somehow magically seem to get along with me. I am not getting any richer. I dont have anything new to celebrate about, I am trying my level best to lose weight and going back to my old self. No success there none whatsoever.

I just wish I had something new to look forward to now. Like last year I had finished my PGDIB, took my Driving license.The year before I learnt swimming. I need a new challenge now. Otherwise I am going to become moody and depressed again.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The business called Education

Now there is a furore over Jairam Ramesh's remarks of IIT's being glorified. I have to agree with this statement though. Not because I never got admission into IIT considering I didnt clear the cutoff or that I happened to be from a caste that does not get any reservation benefits but simply because I have come across many mediocre people in my life who have also been to IIT.

I have often wondered how these mediocres made it there considering that IIT's have a really tough entrance exam. Maybe its because they just paid more attention than I did at the IIT coaching centres. Or maybe because I spent only one year preparing for the entrance test whereas they did that for four years starting from 9th standard? Whatever it is , it does not speak of a high quality education!

Nowadays there are so many other engineering colleges with as good if not better infrasturcture than IIT's, but somehow in India and abroad the brand name of IIT is bigger than all these other engineering colleges that its impossible for people from such second tier engineering colleges to get good breaks in their careers even if they are talented and more importantly hard-working.

But leaving IIT aside , think of the numerous B-schools mushrooming in and around the country. Now an MBA degre is like the yesteryear BA degree!. It has lost value. And anybody and everybody who passes out of the MBA course wants to be a Manager even with zero or little experience. So if all become managers who is going to do the actual work?? Many of these students are not even fit to be employed but they join as managers and make life miserable for the non-MBA engineers. And seriously most of the engineers in India are already underpaid and they make their foray into fields that have nothing to do with the subjects they studied.

The whole system of education in India needs a rethink and if people at the centre are realising it and trying to make a difference then maybe everybody should pitch it with their ideas to make education more effective in future, rather than play the usual blame game.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Frustrated about going nowhere....

Facebook sometimes drives me crazy. I was a software engineer hailing from a state in India which churns out about 1 lakh such software engineers every year. And almost all of them got a chance to go to my dream destination which is the United States, while I sit around pessimistic about my future in Dubai! I dont post my updates on FB anymore. It just drives me nuts. I have no achievements so to speak , no exotic locations that I have ever travelled to and the one or two trips I took with my husband turned out to be nightmares, that I have decided not to repeat that mistake again and I shall do all the travelling sitting at home watching Highway on my Plate, Sanchaaram , Travelogue and all those programs on exotic locations in Discovery channel and National Geogrpahic. Let's face it I am not going to be able to travel to all these places in this lifetime and that is a bitter truth that I have got to accept at one point of time in my life. All I can think of now is to concentrate on my writing career cos nothing else is going to help me from drowning in this endless ocean of sorrow.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Best of Luck!

How often we have heard the words "Best of Luck" from our wellwishers? I never thought much about the importance of this word until recently. I used to think it was just an obligatory statement that people made when they knew you are about to take an exam or in case of Dubai , a driving test. But I have realised that nothing in life is more important than luck. There are so many instances of people whom I have studied with or somehow been acquainted with who have marched ahead of me in life because of a windfall. And really a windfall it is, some professions just tend to pay you more than a crazy software engineering job. But it is not enough if you have got what it takes , you have to have that extra luck factor in life. It not only applies to professional life but also personal life. How many divorces and breakups we here of everyday. Why, there are so many people I know who are single because they werent luck enough to meet the right one! You have got to have luck to have the right circle of friends and even relatives. We take many risks in life. Unless there is luck which goes in your favor, the risk might become too costly. I am hoping and waiting for a windfall to turn my life around, God I really think I deserve it now as I have been through this unlucky spell for the last 10 years of my life. It aint no joke anymore!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Double meanings.......

If there is anybody I know in my life who always wants to find a double meaning for every sentence uttered by any other person and who decides to get hurt by it , it is my husband. Honestly if there were an award instituted for such behaviour he would win it hands down. I mean which other Indian couple in this world would have fought after India wins the world cup?? Well, we did.

And that I guess is why now the world cup is so memorable for me. For all the wrong reasons that is. Now I kinda half wish they hadnt wont it.

I remember a saying by Emerson, which goes something like this.."I cannot hear what you say, because what you are shouts loudly in my ears". And this is precisely what went on on Saturday. I have just had enough of this attitude that I am now ready to call it quits!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

When the sun sets....

The last few weeks have been equally hectic and thought provoking for me. My folks came to Dubai after a lot of cajoling. They stayed for all but two weeks, and were generally not interested in going anywhere because of the great deal of walking involved. And well buying anything here is expensive. The only thing free is the air or rather the air-conditioner! Everything else is charged. To the extent that even relationships with people come at a heavy price. When my aunt recently became a widow, she requested her children two living abroad, and one in India in a different city to stay for some time, none of them could stay. Not that they could be blamed. They had all become successful after they left their hometown , after all what could they expect by coming back to the hometown which gave them nothing to begin with anyway. So my aunt had to finally settle for the maidservant who had to be paid a hefty sum and who had to be treated like a queen. I guess I am going to land up in the same state after the age of 50 when I probably wont be able to work anymore. Except in my case I would most probably be a divorcee with no kids. I am beginning to think that maybe I should now spend my savings for a retirement home more than anything else. I would probably get more understanding from strangers than relatives and friends. This has almost always been the case with me. I wish they would start an old age home here in Dubai, as I dont really have any intention of going to India. But yes, then comes the question of affordability. So if there philanthropists planning to start an old age home , please think of starting one in Ooty or Kodaikanal. I would love to spend my old age there!!! The times I spent there were the best days of my life.......

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Qualified professional!

I have had enough of this place ! Every day I think why I chose to work in this place when I got the feeling that I was not suited here almost the minute that I joined here. Improvising the quality of anything or anybody for that matter is not easy. My salary is less, I am pretty sure I will get no promotion and I totally lack the motivation to continue working. All I can do is to curse my fate for coming to Dubai and ruining my whole life by coming here. When you apply for a job which you have all qualifications for you are not even given a telephone call. On the other hand when you apply for a job with which have no relation to you, you are scheduled for interviews. Makes me wonder about the quality of all the HR professionals in this city. Do they even read the resumes here?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Corruption in 21st Century India

If 2008 was the year of the recession then the year 2010 is now being hailed as the “year of scams” in India. Although the start of most of the scams this year can be traced back to two or three years ago most of them have come into light in 2010. It all started with the Indian Premier League and has now ended in the mother of all scams the “2G Spectrum” which incurred a loss of Rs 1,76,000 crores to the Indian exchequer . Wedged in between these were the stories behind the Adarsh housing scheme and the Common Wealth Games. The only difference between the corruption in the 20th century India and in the 21st century India is that earlier the amount used to be of the order of only a few crores, now it runs into a few hundreds or even thousands of crores. The 20th century did not see so many news channels or the rise of the power of the media as in the 21st, yet our politicians continue to loot the Indian treasure in broad daylight. Frankly speaking this makes politics a lucrative career for the generation of today. What other career in this world can earn a person so much money inasmuch as two-three years? (Maybe film stars but even they take 10-15 years before they are acknowledged as superstars and demand that kind of money!) Some students of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad recently decided to launch a helpline on corruption to curb the menace. But implementing such a helpline requires a lot of support from law-enforcing officials. The irony here is that most law-enforcing officials themselves are either forced to work for the corrupt politicians or are paid to work for them. In either case, they can’t stop politicians from the mass looting that they have now been used to for years. In her recently concluded visit to the UAE in 2010, the President of India, Ms.Pratibha Devisingh Patil interacted with students at various Indian colleges in UAE. Her message to the students was significant. Though they are all NRI’s they should keep in mind the values that India stood for. She emphasized on Mahatma Gandhi’s two principles, that of truth and non-violence. But sadly the spate of incidents in the last decade shows that truth is definitely a principle that most politicians in India haven’t heard of! Not a single politician today can even be closely compared to the Mahatma. No examples from today’s current generation of politicians can be shown as a role model to college/school students. So how do we expect the students to suddenly adopt principles of truth and non-violence when all they see on TV are news of Scams and violence such as murder and rape? At least if the perpetrators of all these crimes were punished it might instill the fear factor in them, but very rarely have politicians been punished for their crimes. Corruption has to be killed at the roots. Perhaps the education system in India has to lay as much emphasis on moral education as much as it does on basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. All criminals irrespective of their stature have to be punished, or else there will come a time when the people of India will lose complete faith in the law-enforcing bodies.