Friday, January 15, 2021

Digital Detox? Now is the time

The digital extravaganza has been an overkill of late. It looked like it is an opportunity, during the lockdown, to fill the gap with whatever you were doing when you could go out. During office, end of day meant 530pm, or even if we pushed it by an hour, I would surely unplug at 630 or 7pm, considering the traffic shenanigans. The luxury of work from home did not impose that restriction, so I was on my own in completing everyday tasks. I was starting an hour late, thanks to Ramayan, I was taking Mahabharat break every day for an hour and when I was not in any meeting, I would sit with my laptop in front of television and continue working. Initial few months of lockdown felt so good, that I started imagining televisions in office so that work is not stressful at all. But gradually, Mahabharat and Ramayan on television ended and my own Ramayan started. I got bored being inside four walls. Series binging with dad also came to an end. I had no time to read amidst the work. I started dedicating some time for my religious observances. Even though this was rewarding, this didn’t last either.

Uninstall Facebook, WhatsApp Instagram
Uninstall Facebook WhatsApp Instagram

Even though life was slowly getting back to normal, with every new thing I was trying to do, I was spending more time with electronics and mobile phone. By the end of Oct, I realized that I was addicted to Twitter, WhatsApp, Insta, FB, Netflix, HOTSTAR and all other OTTs I had access to. With no walk/run/gym and lunch and dinner served to me on my laptop table, an unexplained lethargy had kicked in. I added screen-time for the apps. But even after the limit was reached, I was craving to turn it off and spending more time on SM. This was an indicator that I had to get out of it. I was struggling to find a window of time that feels right for you to unplug and do a digital detox, because I was in front of laptop for better part of the day. WhatsApp web was a possibility now. And twitter tab was always open! For almost a month, although it did not affect my day to day office work, with SM and office work together, I ended up sitting in front of laptop for a good 12 hours a day. At the back of my mind, I always knew, I can’t do this for long and I was sure I can spend “that” time constructively, doing something better. The motivation that ‘reading more, writing more, spending gala time with family’ – are all better options than spending time on SM - was always there. But when I tried chalking out a plan to get out of it, I didn’t know where to start, how to proceed, which ones to keep and what to delete. It was all muddled and I was caught in the SM web. Trust me, Digital detox isn’t so easy, unless you plan it and more importantly, prepare your mind!

Mark Zuckerberg stating "The future is private"

While I was almost on the verge of dropping the idea of Digital Detox, Mr. Zuckerberg has come to my rescue, like a blessing in disguise. His new privacy policy and updated terms & conditions, which has created outrage globally, has in fact motivated me to take a digital detox!. Adding fuel to the fire, the new terms by Zuki, is shocking! Come on, using your financial transaction data, monitoring your approximate location 24/7 in-spite of location services turned OFF, selling your data to all FB companies; outrageous and I would call it despicable too! If he really did think this is the only way to do justice to his 21 billion $ WhatsApp deal and generate revenue, I don’t trust any of his products at all. Besides, the targeted ad is just the beginning. This is going to open a pandora’s box of the shadier possibilities of what could be done to the world with data.
Digital Detox
Also, imagine the benefits of deleting your FB-Insta-WhatsApp accounts. With all your friend’s friend, who is not even your common friend or acquaintance’s whereabouts and his/her information popping up on your wall, your FB timeline is just a bunch of suggested videos with ads and twitter snapshots. Arghh! It has long lost its good old sheen! Honestly, Facebook has become so irksome. I am keeping FB active only because it is a perfect platform to share my blog posts to 500+ people at once. Nothing more!

While WhatsApp forwards can save a few tens of gigs of data and a couple of hours, WhatsApp Status can save you remaining 22 hours. My uncle, who in his entire life has not watched a half time of a football match, updates his status with the hashtags #RipMaradona #SoccerLegend. I’ll not have to tolerate such nauseating sycophancy anymore. Although Instagram wasn’t this painful for long, the reels, are really waste of time. [Confession: I’ll really miss Dr. Richa Negi’s refreshing dancing groove videos on Instagram.**winks**]

I believe the best way to beat the quintessential social establishment and protect our privacy is to stop invading other’s privacy. And above all, the true evaluation of whether any privacy expectations are reasonable or not can never be assessed on any Social Media application. This is exactly why I am happy to be getting rid of FaceBook, Insta and WhatsApp.

Data Wars

Whether Zuki takes it back owing to public outcry or not, whether my friends like it or not, whether my cousins miss me on SM or not, I have decided to delete my FB-WA-Insta accounts permanently. I’ll keep twitter for my rants and Signal for my instant messaging needs. PERIOD. I can totally live without the rest. And I strongly believe it is the need of the hour too! When wrong people without morals and ethics; without concerns; without the sense of what’s fair and what’s not, get access to our data, they will always gain an advantage over the rest of us, until we decide to put an end to it. So, the onus is on every one of us!

Well, what do you think of my decision? WhatsApp… errrr… Call me! Let’s start to socialize the real, good old way!

Image credits: Google

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Is your LinkedIn another FaceBook Profile?

In Indian job market, job portals like Naukri and Monster have played a big role since long, leaving very less market share for other players like LinkedIn. There are no second thoughts about LinkedIn’s potential. But somehow, for long, it was etched in job seeker’s mind that when someone started preparing for a job change, the first conversation began with “Update Naukri everyday bro, otherwise you won’t get calls”. I’m sure many in the entry and mid-career level can connect to this. But this seems to have changed in the recent times. There were a few recruiters asking me with an awe of surprise “You don’t have a LinkedIn profile”? Well, I always had it. But I never bothered to update it because I never expected job opportunities coming my way from LinkedIn. The possibility was too feeble. But looks like things have changed. Nowadays, a lot of recruiters use LinkedIn because of its robust networking capabilities, seamless cross-border connections with over 600 million user base and feature rich platform not just for employees, but for employers too. So I realized that it is important to have mine updated and started looking into it often. I installed the app too. This is when the surprise unfolded.

Funny updates on LinkedIn
A video of a grandpa dancing (Left) and a MP updating distribution of ration kit (Right) on LinkedIn

What a mess LinkedIn really is! It is nothing more than just another facebook. From work-out and Yoga videos, ration distribution pics by certain MP, people posting Salsa videos of their grandparents begging their followers to like the video, content writers writing poems to scenic photograph posts with 3000+ likes which made absolutely ZERO SENSE. In other words, I was browsing through another social media profile of mine. With all such godforsaken updates, I was dreading to see the updates that made sense to me. I sat for more than two hours to remove unwanted connections, un follow/hide spammers. Despite my best efforts, after the clean-up, my LinkedIn feed just feels better, but still far from what I expect from a Professional networking website. I realized this is a big problem because people perceive LinkedIn as another social networking site. Here are a few things that you DON”T do on LinkedIn so that it remains a job and professional networking platform.

Profile picture

Your profile picture is undoubtedly the most important element of any networking site, be it professional or social platforms. Research has established psychological evidences that without a display picture, the accounts are perceived to be dormant. But if you have added a picture of John Snow, Ronaldo or your favorite god Hanuman as a profile picture to give an impression of being creative, you’re on self damage mode.  And yeah, the professor from Money Heist as your DP on LinkedIn does not make you a genius. Don’t get overboard with your creativity. Keep it simple, silly!

Funny profile pictures on LinkedIn
Whacky Profile Pictures n Linkedin-1
John Snow on LinkedIn
Whacky LinkedIn Profile Picture-2
Funny DP on Instagram
Whacky LinkedIn Profile Picture-3

Adding connections

Adding qualified connections increase your job prospects. Yes of course. But you need not add every goddamn person you know and hype it. I was thinking twice to send a connection request to a good friend from my previous organization, because even though we connected over lot of cultural initiatives, we never worked together on any products/services. But here I am, getting connection request from a stranger car service guy who is my friend’s connection. Arggh! 

Updating the pic of The Atlantic Road, Norway (Left) and Writing Poems on LinkedIn (Right)

Your house maid’s husband’s distant relative who has completed his engineering and is now seeking job, your wife’s retired PSU uncle’s daughter who is a nutritionist, your college crush whose designation is Home maker, your primary school friend who is doing  research on zombies from Sudan University of Science and Technology need not be your professional connects. DON’T YOU GET IT? They neither belong to your domain/organization/technology/services nor can be of any professional value addition. If they really have known connections, ask them to introduce you to them. Accepting connections from every Tom Dick and Harry you’ve met in life perpetually is useless.  Go back to your profile, browse through your connections to check how many amongst your connection can really have a potential impact on your careers. Remember, connections are just numbers. 1000+ random connections from acquaintances do not; I repeat, DO NOT add any weight to your digital resume. For god sake, please stop adding the entire world’s populace to your connection list, morons!

Pro-tip: Create separate email-IDs for your professional needs and social media requirements. This will avoid a lot of your personal contacts sending you requests and it also give you more power to manage professional profiles.

Posting updates

Posting significant professional updates are indeed good way to let everyone know of your achievements. But majority of the updates from my connections did not seem deserved to be even there. A software engineer in my connection had posted her pics of distributing food packets during Covid-19 lockdown.  Why why why? Had her profession been Social Work groups, it would be worth an update. But in IT Industry, It will not give her any professional edge over others who have not done it. Another friend had copied leadership quotes from Google and pasted it. Will it help his followers inculcate leadership habits? I also found people posting the certificates of their organization’s mandatory trainings like EHS and Data Privacy. For heavens’ sake, stop this! A funny video with caption “Don’t give up” made some sense. But after seeing screenshots of a newspaper article on Happy Iftaar and a meme on Yamaha RX-100 to describe the Japanese engineering, alas! I lost my mind.

An Iftaar party cooking update (Left) Personal updates about Daughter on LinkedIn

In the midst of all these unwanted junk, many important updates go unnoticed. And even bigger problem is that unlike FaceBook, we cannot even delete the profile. It has to be there, up and running. You never know when you’ll have to make real use of your connections. So please don’t be willful and a pain in someone’s professional life. Be responsible and have social conscience. If LinkedIn becomes another FaceBook, destinies of many professionals may become undeniably enmeshed.  As we prepare for another economic depression, this gibberish will not take us anywhere. Go and act now. Because if you don’t, sooner or later we’ll be victims of our own complacency.

No; I am not posting this blog on my LinkedIn.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Lessons from Covid-19 lock-down

While driving back home on the 11th of Mar, little did I expect that I would be locked inside my house for the next 30+ days. Since then, a month has gone by and it already seems like eternity. The worrying trends from across the globe, those horrifying videos from Italy and NYC has forced many armchair thinkers to change the way they look at life. Aam junta like me are no exception. I too have a few experiences from this lock-down. This COVID-19 lock-down has not just exposed my own inabilities and not possessing (m)any of the basic survival skills, it has also changed a few perceptions that I believed to be true for long time.

When lock-down started, I thought it is a good opportunity to catch up with all my pending reading. This lock-down forced me to do a few things by self and I miserably failed in doing simple tasks. Firstly, my sincere efforts to make a cup of coffee even after reading the instructions on Nescafe sachet went haywire. Secondly, since house maid was also in lock-down, we decided to share chores amongst ourselves and do our own dishes. And I was getting into a brawl with even smallest of the utensils while doing the dishes. I did some temporary arrangement for the wasted RO water to be collected and use it to wipe the floor. But my wife put the task on me *sobs uncontrollably*. I took hours to wipe the floor with a mop which my maid did in 10 min without it. I realized I couldn’t do even the simplest of the chores at home. I started feeling like a civilized Neanderthal. I have not taken a shave since a month; so, I also look like one *adding to the effects*.

On one hand, COVID-19 deaths increased exponentially which led to the extension of lock-down period and on the other, I was feeling ashamed at my own incompetence of not being able to make even a cup of coffee for myself. I decided to catch up on the pending reading later. I realized I must up the ante and get better at stewardship at home, for my own good. I am at it now and in the past 20+ days, I’m still at square one, but the intriguing lessons learnt are worth sharing.

Household chores are easy is a myth
I always had this perception that household chores are easy as they neither require brains nor a great physical effort and that they are routine and mundane tasks. Only when I saw my mother and wife doing the dishes so flawlessly and effortlessly, I realized I was wrong. It is certainly not a mundane task. It is a three-dimensional art with time, accuracy and water conservation as its dimensions. The same goes with doing the dishes/ mopping/cleaning. I realized that all household chores can be mastered only with practice. Household chores is easy is a presumption of stupidity.

You can survive with just Doordarshan
The re-telecast of Mahabharata and Ramayana are truly blessing in disguise for me. While it is preposterous that few of my friends have branded me swamiji for watching the great epics *tears rolling down my cheeks*, I was like “Hey vats, keep calm”. Mythology was one quizzing topic which I wanted to improve on since a very long time. So, the timing was just perfect. I also started watching a few episodes of Chanakya, Jungle Book, Buniyaad; they all had one thing in common; they were so brilliantly made with major focus on content. Prasar Bharti has so many classics in its kitty. But is it worth with contemporary programs also? I’m pretty sure that DD entertainment would surely be finer than all our private channels combined. Any sane person cannot stand private channels’ camera overplay on a woman protagonist’s cleavages for 10 min in every episode. DD National, DD-Bharati and DD-Retro are more than ample necessities for our entertainment needs.

More importantly and  surprisingly, by Indian standards, DD News has remained a news channel. They are ethical, news readers put forth the actual news without any exaggeration and let the viewers decide. On DD News, dolts do not read tarot cards, there are no resentment filled debates, they do not run Homeopathy helpline and Asian sky shop programs. More importantly, dimwits and lamebrains do not predict the future of this country. So, I have decided to stick to DD news for news and watch private news channels for entertainment.

Watch DD News for a week. Trust me; you’ll concur.

Home cooked food can do wonders
After I entered corporate world, there was never a time I did not suffer from GERD. With my office canteen food, my burps are so strong that I’m sure if converted to energy, it would work wonders; thanks to the adulteration levels even in simple Idly and sambar. Eno and Digene are always on my travel checklist and are always stocked up. Even though Ayurveda helped me keep it at bay for some days, my coffee addiction has always made burps an integral part of my life.

But since last 30+ days of lock-down, we’re washing veggies more carefully than ever, thanks to the disturbing behavior of single source event attendees. I am eating healthy, home cooked food and zero junk food because the junk food in supermarkets are selling like hotcakes. I would be lying if I say stopped eating junk food. After seeing the panipuri pics all over the SM as if people are celebrating April as National Panipuri month, I was tempted too. But even that is homemade. *winks*. This has worked wonders for me. To my own surprise, my acidity, burps, GERD induced chest pain and every other symptom of hyper acidity is gone. Thanks to COVID-19 lock-down for instilling in me, the amazing benefits of eating freshly cooked food. Not just eat healthy, eat fresh is a very big lesson for me, that I’ll try to stick to.

There are other pleasant changes that this lock-down has made possible. Our entire family is spending quality time together. We are watching TV and dining together after ages. Dad and I are watching Roger Moore’s bond movies together, with him recalling his good old days. I am reminding my mom to monitor her blood glucose levels regularly. My credit card statements are at its lowest, which has also made me think of spending carefully on unwanted luxuries. Whataybaby is happy that “appa corona no aapees”. In other words, covid-19 has made a lot of things possible, which were even otherwise possible, but, meddled in the mediocrity of our own lives, we just didn't find it necessary. Especially us, Bangaloreans, have that one reason for all our hopeless time management skills, "Traffic jam". It's time we learn to manage time, prioritize what is important, draw a line between professional and personal urgency and start giving importance to spending quality time with family, at least occasionally.

When I read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom”, I couldn’t connect on an emotional level with his 27 years in Prison. But now, I cannot even fathom his struggle. Imagine being locked up inside a jail on a remote island for so long! Here I am, locked in for 30 days and every day seems like another race to be won. I am still trying to cling to some form of normalcy hoping all this ends soon and we can get out, buy stuff, get back to office, hit gym, go on long drives and to be ourselves. But looking at the increasing numbers, it is still a dream.  

I like this dream; dream of freedom. Hope it becomes a reality soon!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Of my mothers chit funds and my first world problems - Life lessons in a nutshell

For a change, I was home. I was glancing my personal task planner cum diary to see the pending story edits and proof reading to be completed for the day when the phone rang. Sudha aunty, a well-wisher and a relative (potential oxymoron) had called me to remind me about the pending payment for the chit fund. I never keep track of this fund, purely because it is managed by Sudha aunty. There is that element of trust on which this chit fund operates. Other than the pending payment reminder, she also said that this month’s payment is the end of this chit fund and that she was about to start a new chit fund from Jan. I agreed to be part of the new chit fund also and disconnected the call. My mom heard the conversation and inquired about the chit fund. The word "chit fund" took her back to her professional days as a teacher. We spoke about it for more than an hour. When we were done, I wanted to get back to work, but my mind was roaming around the realms of how my mom spearheaded an entire family’s offbeat expenses with the chit funds for years together. And in general, those chit funds’ with a purpose and its role in chasing the dreams of Indian middle class.

If you are wondering what a chit fund, a.k.a Cheeti as it is called in vernacular language is, it is a simple rotating savings and credit system practiced since times immemorial. There is no defined legal framework. An organizer is usually a trusted relative, a neighbor, friend or someone who you know at least as an acquaintance, so that there is an element of trust for the money you invest. People who invest in the chit funds often have specific goals/dreams that they realize using the returns from it. The fund starts at an announced date and continues for the number of months predefined by the organizer. Word of mouth is the only means of marketing and getting people to invest. When it starts, every month, a fixed amount is collected from all the subscribers. An open auction is conducted every month to determine the lowest sum one of the subscribers is willing to withdraw that month. It is also a credit system because subscribers are allowed to take the entire sum via the auction even before making full payment. Again, trust is paramount here.

Unlike the post liberalization and digital era, banking was not accessible to the lower income group as their savings was not distinct and continuous. If you are an early or mid 80s kids, you’ll know this. But savings was still required for obvious reasons. Cheeti was a boon for all those who had this situation. And unlike today, middle class dealt with currencies in mere tens, hundreds and thousands. Lakhs and crores were not part of even their wildest dreams.

My mom, being a school teacher, like any other middle-class Indian woman, was a “penny in pocket, dreams worth million” woman. With whatever she earned, she managed her finances and savings so meticulously that it puzzles me on how our era's middle class parents managed our upbringing. I personally know two of her affinities she chased for long, never gave up and succeeded. Thanks to Cheeti. One was her collection of sarees and the other was her collection of tools/equipment/apparatus that reduced her efforts in the kitchen.

Both her affinities were something that my father neither supported nor cared because of two reasons: One: that they were very feminine in nature and he did not understand much of it. And secondly, because they were not one-time investments. In her own words with utensils and sarees, when the usual “WHY DO YOU NEED SO MANY” paradigm come up by husbands for discussion, women do not have answers. So, mom had to somehow manage them on her own, even financially.

This is exactly where the chit fund, a.k.a. Cheeti helped my mother. In the early-80s she earned 800 Rs a month. Since she was a teacher, it was sort of necessary for to have her wardrobe full of sarees. It so happened that a seller from Surat used to visit her school and all the teachers collectively insisted him to start a Cheeti, exclusively for sarees. The monthly amount for the Cheeti was 70 INR which they paid for 12 months and got a new saree worth 800 Rs. Remaining 40 Rs was a commission of sorts for the saree seller. She always tells me that back in 80s, 800 Rs had a lot of value. It is true. I just did some math to prorate the inflation rate of 7.2% at 1985 for 34 years; it turns out, 800 Rs in 1985 is worth 9330 Rs as on today.

I keep chiding my mother for having so many sarees that we can sell and pre-close a part of India’s world bank loan. But she laughs it off. More than the prized possession, she is proud of how she succeeded in filling her wardrobe with sarees on her own, without a single penny from my father. She is all thanks to this wonder investment scheme called Cheeti.

By early 90s, utensils with copper bottom was a next gen thing, she tells me. When the copper bottom utensils were launched in the market, they were declared hit and received widespread fame among the Indian mothers. Not just fame, it apparently was also a measure of sophistication and even a social privilege to an extent. My mom was particularly interested in it because she believed that copper bottom kadais would help cook faster, thanks to copper’s good conductance of heat.  But it also came with a heavy price tag that she could not buy them in one go. Again, the same Cheeti came to my mother’s rescue. There was a steel vendor near the house, where she started investing 50 Rs a month and in the end, she could choose utensils worth of 600 Rs. There is this one copper bottom kadai, which is her favorite. Not because of its quality or durability, but because she simply succeeded in buying it on her own. It was the same practical scheme of Cheeti that enabled her to buy a “RAMA” water filter, a hot box and a few other utensils made of copper.

Her proud possessions after nearly three decades of her professional career are her Surat Saris, a copper bottom kadai, a RAMA water filter and a few other kitchen paraphernalia, procured through chit funds. If I look at it today, it does not seem like a big deal at all! I can buy her all of them at one go! I cannot help but see her goals mostly revolved around maintaining normalcy and ensuring the family chores run smooth. Nothing beyond! I think only mothers are the creatures on this planet who can do such insurmountable sacrifices for the well-being of their families and yet find solace in those sacrifices.

Here I am, totally delved in the first world problems and not being able to manage my finances even after earning a 6-digit salary. When my mom narrates such episodes to me, I can easily realize the perceived absence of any such pressing concerns that she had as an adult, as a parent or even as a professional. With real life experiences like chit funds, she beats my argument and proves that my problems are not actually problems, they are just fallacies of the relative privation.

 I too have invested in many chit-funds. But if I try to recall If I have bought anything until now, which has helped facilitate anything at home or brought about changes in running chores at home, nothing comes to my mind. This has made me realize one thing: Whatever they did, they had a purpose. And they were bold enough, courageous enough not to take solace in fallacies, like we all do.

Whoever said “The purpose of life is a life of purpose” is simply a genius who understood the essentials of life perfectly. Having a purpose can not only buy you saris, water filters and copper bottom utensils, it can guide life decisions, influence behavior, shape goals and offer a sense of direction. Now it doesn’t surprise me that even to this day, chit funds, without a legal framework, are very instrumental in realizing the dreams of millions of people out there, because their investments have a purpose. This chit fund episode has taught me a very important lesson:

To really reap the returns of your investment, it should first have a purpose.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Opinion: Does Greta Thunberg truly deserve Nobel Prize?

When Greta Thunberg first heard about global warming, she was 8 and when she started giving speeches on climate changes and protested in front of the Swedish parliament with the placard “school climate strikes” she was 15! Well, it is nothing less than phenomenal that she has stood up for a great cause like climate change from a very young age. I salute her bravery, her conviction to make this planet a better place to live. And I don’t have any problems with her age either. I am in fact proud of what she has managed to achieve at the age of 16. But with all the contrasting side effects of her fame and her defiance, her approach to tackle a global problem of such epic proportion having no tangible outcomes yet, is her deed worth a Nobel? 

SKOLSTREJK FOR KLIMATET in Swedish translates to "School strike for Climate"
Her approach

According to Ms. Thunberg, the prospect of global warming and the rising temperature across the globe has frightened her, so she is not going to school and protesting. Well, good. But giving blunt replies to global leaders in public forums and handing out leaflets with words like "I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future." is not the right approach to solve the global warming problem.

Ms. Thunberg is too young to even fathom what it takes to understand the sort of a systematic approach to solve a serious problem like climate change. She goes on to say (in her own words) "I want you to act as if the house was on fire — because it is". And "We're facing an immediate unprecedented crisis that has never been treated as a crisis and our leaders are all acting like children”. While this behavior of hers could be attributed to her being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, climate change is not a traffic problem to be solved by envisaging a mass rapid transit system. She needs to calm down. Global warming cannot be addressed with the urgency that she defines. She is nobody to dictate the urgency. There are capable people and governing bodies to act on. She needs to work on her approach to address real issues. Above all, she should stop her ‘How Dare You’ kind of overdramatic speeches and get in terms with the fact that speeches doesn’t change much.

Setting a detrimental example

Greta Thunberg’s success story, on one front has gained greater momentum and the world is grateful for the awareness she has managed to create about climate change. But on the other, a lot of youngsters all over, Sweden in particular, are fascinated by the idea of “Why go to school. Let’s protest in the name of climate change”. And why not; At 16, Greta has a colossal fame with a whooping 5.5 million Instagram followers, a Wikipedia page, invitations to give TED talks and get to travel across the world, and now Nobel prize nomination. What exactly has she done? Inventions? Discoveries? Humanity service? Nope! She just symbolized a global problem and BOOM! She is a messiah to save mother earth. 
Greta Thunberg's lunch en route Denmark - With paper cup, Plastic Vegan salad box and polythene bread cover
At 16, the idea of getting to limelight looks very lucrative and it is too fancy to not think and dream of such colossal fame for teens. it cannot be denied that she has set a detrimental example to others of her age group. This is a very dangerous state for the teens to be in. This has to be addressed by helping kids understand that the world out there isn’t an equal opportunity employer. Encourage them to deal with failures in life.

Nobel standards

Since childhood, I have always known the Nobel prize being awarded to the deserved candidates in recognition of academic, cultural or breakthrough scientific advances (except for peace prize). Perhaps the committee wants to set right expectations about climate changes. But IMHO, the nomination committee should have also considered the tangible achievements of Greta Thunberg and her contribution about the climate issue.

Hands with Vested interests(?)

Just Yesterday, climate activist Greta Thunberg along with 15 other children from around the world submitted a complaint to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. They targeted Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey. In the complaint, she alleges that these countries are “recklessly causing and perpetuating life-threatening climate change [and] have failed to take necessary preventive and precautionary measures to respect, protect, and fulfill the petitioners’ rights.

Sounds something fishy? There you are! China, the highest emitter of Co2 is not even there in the list. This just adds to my suspicion that there could be political hands behind Greta’s motivation.

Malala symbolizing the girl’s education or Kashmir issues and Greta Thunberg getting nominated this year by symbolizing climate change has not just diminished the chances of identifying the really outstanding contributors of humanity, but a fundamentally wrong message is being sent across that it is cool to symbolize a social or economic problem and get elevated to the state of being known or talked about by millions, especially on account of notable achievements, when in real, you haven’t any.

I just hope that future for all of us is not as frightening as Greta Thunberg or Malala is trying to portray.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

An open letter to the regional party enthusiasts of Karnataka

Congratulations! Namma Karnataka has scored yet another constitutional low in the Indian political diaspora. Karnataka is the center stage of a political crisis which is witnessed never before in an Indian state. We can perhaps tell our grandchildren that we were the mute espies of a shoddy drama that the nation can never forget. This entire event is so appalling that even constitution experts and political whizzes are not able to fathom your party’s conduct. I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that the resolute displayed by your beloved regional party and its members is the heights of contempt that anyone has shown to Indian constitution till date. I would directly accredit this achievement to you, the regional party enthusiast of Karnataka. Well done! Congratulations to you for nurturing a regional party whose family business has successfully ruined the fortune of a vibrant state 

You knew the family business
Just rewind a year and recall the pre-poll state of Karnataka Assembly elections of 2018. You, I and almost everyone; even the state, in itself was in tatters; thanks to an arrogant former CM’s monarchy vibe. For the foreseeable future, it was unimaginable even for you to think that this regional party could win majority and form the government. And yet, you supported the family business blindly. How did you even arrive at the conclusion that your regional party with 30+ seats would acquire greater political space and do good for the state? How tactless could you get?

You knew the party Supremo
“A cat has nine lives, but he has ten” is a famous proverb of sorts opined about your beloved party chief. Time and again, he has proven himself  nothing more than an elite opportunist who has always played his cards wisely to gain political sympathy and use it just to his family’s advantage. You are a fool, if you really believed that he had a vision for the goodwill of Kannadigas. Right from his ministerial days to this day being the chief of your beloved regional party, he has always been an influence peddler and a political graft. His vision is nothing more than just to baptize his family members into ministry. For the records, he betrayed Janatadala and BJP each twice and now Congress too. And you still believed that your chief is a messiah? Whoa! What a shallow thought process you have.

You knew the contestants
Apart from one or two contestants, all the members of your beloved political party are involved in Nepotism, crony capitalism, kickbacks, goondaism, kleptocracy etc. Beyond the party president and family members, there is hardly any second-tier leadership. This makes all the difference in bringing about a change in society. You very well knew it.
And more importantly, you knew precisely well that it was a pre-poll alliance with Congress, whose administration was at its worst for the last five years. And you believed that people with such track record will bring about changes in administration! Whoa! Your idea is dope!

You knew the fate of regional parties
You knew that regional parties of neighboring states have terribly failed at national level and there are ample examples from the other side of the country to back this sentiment. You were precisely aware of the fact that the only regional party of Karnataka which you supported was never capable of polarizing the votes of the regional masses unlike our neighboring states.  How stupid are you to accredit a family business as secular? In what way are they secular?

You knew the myths and facts
There was a time when regional parties fueled the national parties to come to power and a lion’s share of the central funds were also diverted to the regional parties who supported. But this has considerably reduced. The trend now is that one regional party is eating up the vote share of the other regional party, creating rivals within. The result of this is that they are caught in the web which they themselves knit.

The regional parties are indirectly polarizing the votes against themselves and are increasing the vote shares of the national party. The same applies for your beloved party. Even more so because they are the only regional party in Karnataka. If my understanding is right, 20+ states are ruled by national parties. Among them, the major revenue generating states are currently ruled by BJP, again a national party and they all have fared better under the national party rule. So even with numbers, your part does not fare well. You very well know what happened to a regional party's fate whose founder was poised to be the greatest anti-corruption crusader this country has seen after Gandhi and was later reduced to a mere film critic and a wannabe PM candidate. 

In the last few weeks, there is more evidence than ever about the true intentions of your beloved political party. The political drama that has unfolded in the last week has put our state (and of course the nation) to utter shame. On a positive note, it has also strengthened people’s views that your political party is crooked and power hungry. And why not! If they had an ounce of respect for the constitution or the public apathy and had they come together like this to solve public problems instead of saving their seats, Karnataka and Bangalore would be in better position today.

Political inclination is good, as long as they are willing to do good (Like Orissa). But inspite of knowing most of the above facts and of course, the party’s vested interests, you, supporting them is not reasonable. I believe that, in a democratic system like ours, supporting the right political party is aam aadmi’s contribution to the purification of the nation. This purification is a continuous process and when does rightly, it is highly infectious because it necessarily leads to the purification of your own surroundings. Don’t impure your political inclination by means of caste, religion, hate, for self-gain, to conquer your subtle passions. In the longer run, the purer your political inclination is, the more benefits you and your society will reap. It is time you realize in your mind, word and deed that your beloved political party is nothing more than family business. PERIOD! 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Of Lungis, Patapati cheddis and the visionary fashionistas of the 60s

I am not a fashionista myself. And I have always been hauled away from the Indian fashion of the 70s and 80s, thanks to the Raymond tailor stitched shirts and pants which my mom wanted me to wear for all occasions. Interestingly, one of the very few things that we, the Gen X and the millennials have in common is that we have collectively made fun of our forefathers’ fashion statements. Today, out of the blues, while spending a several thousand rupees on apparels to take on Summers, I realized, we were totally off beam about our forefathers’ fashion statements. They were essentially the trend setters and proponents of various vogue wears without even realizing that their dressing would become chic fashion 50 years later. It is pretty convincing that every trendy wear of contemporary India is just a revamped and tweaked reappearance of what our forefathers wore for their entire life. And we, instead of thanking them for life, continue to copy their fashion on one hand and make fun of it on the other.

Bandanas vs Hegl Mel Towel (HMT)
Hegl Mel Towel (ಹೆಗಲ್  ಮೇಲ್ ಟವಲ್) is a Kannada phrase which literally means Towel on shoulders. In urban dictionary, it has gotten its own meaning: “An uneducated adult” just because our ancestors were not concerned with chic fashion and used towels instead. Of late, the bandana, which was just a cowboy couture,has penetrated men’s wardrobes as well. The classic patterned kerchiefs which only girls wore a decade ago are being used today by the male fraternity too. Today’s metro-sexual man uses the bandana as Scarfs, with sleeveless shirts, as strolls, hair tie, helmet cap etc. The fashion gurus claim that it even plays a role in human health and survival. 

Now, what is a bandana? It is nothing but a multipurpose, patterned handkerchief which is bigger in size. In other words, it is that same piece of cloth called towel which our grandfathers carried on their shoulders, all the time! Today, we welcome people wearing bandanas on red carpet; but we synonymize our forefathers with towels on their shoulders as a country dweller and brand the entire union of men from 60s as HMT? How rude are we!

The truth is that we have shamelessly copied Hegl Mel Towel a.k.a. HMT, a foresighted fashion statement by our forefathers, without giving the due credits to them and just renamed it.
Hegl Mel Towel and Bandana

Flowing skirt with draped detail vs Lungi
My recent visit to Zara outlet took me by surprise. I was flabbergasted to see a lungi priced at 5000 rupees. While I was trying to digest the price, a saleswoman came to me and politely said “Men’s section on the other side sir...”. I was hardly able to comprehend for a moment. Out of conscience, I asked her “since when is lungi a woman’s fashion”? The saleswoman perhaps assumed me to be from the HMT squad and informed me that it was not a lungi. It was apparently called “flowing skirt with draped detail”. She explained in detail, its versatility, why it is worth five grand and how their designers thought of the airy feel that it offers. And she suggested that it is a great idea to gift my wife a flowing skirt with draped detail. I just imagined my wife donning a lungi and at that very moment I got an uncontrollable urge to pull my lungi up with my legs, fold it and say “Enda MoLe…”. Unfortunately, I was wearing jeans.

I still get forwards on Whats App on all the weird lungi ads. We are such resentful generation who make fun of lungi in and out; but have no issues in paying five grand for a flowing skirt with draped detail. 
Traditional Lungi vs Skirt with draped detail
Checked boxer vs Patapati cheddi
Of all the disrespect to our ancestors’ fashion statements, ridiculing the patapati cheddi is brutal AF. From movies to memes, social media to sycophantic behavior of millennials towards someone who is wearing the patapati cheddi, people have tried to sabotage the image of this wonder garment in all possible ways. But luckily, it has stood the testing times. Have you ever wondered what is the secret of a patapati cheddi’s mass success? To know it, you need to try it. Even I didn’t; until my character in one of the plays demanded it. When I tried it, it was apparent that the comfort of checked boxers that male fraternity across the world is falling for, is actually a fashion idea stolen from ancestors of our countryside. Checked boxer is nothing but a patapati cheddi with elastic waist instead of a string knot. Period. 

Again, here is another fashionista from the 60s which is shamelessly copied by our generation.Yet we make fun of patapati cheddi, but never mind shelling extra bucks for checked boxers. It is like copying an answer from your friend in exam and making fun of what he has written. Please stop making fun of this wonder garment.

Top row: patapati cheddis.
Botton row: Checked boxers
From“bell bottom pants” by our 70s cinema stars which has metamorphosed as “Palazzos/flares” to the practical and utilitarian thread “girdles” (ಉಡಿದಾರ) which have up-scaled as  “ornamental belts” and “cummerbunds” - there are plenty of such examples out there to prove that there is nothing new about today’s haute couture. It is purely evident that today’s chic fashion statements are just ramifications of the yesteryear’s no-frills fashion and they are just modified to look modern and stylish in an unconventional way. And of course, they come with an exorbitant price tag which we are okay with. *frowns*

Our forefathers did not have a sense of style. But their fashion was very practical, without unnecessary extras and above all, they were totally comfortable. Our generation should be deeply indebted to what they have given us to build on. Imagine the scene if our ancestors had patented patapati cheddis and HMTs. Our satisfaction should come from the fact that we are paying so less for an upmarket fashion derived from a century old style. Not by making fun of them.

So next time you see an old man with a towel on his shoulders and/or with patapati cheddi, take a selfie with him, thank him and post it on social media proudly with hashtags:

#Forefathers #FashionGurus #TrendSetters #PracticalFashion #PataPatiCheddis #CoolHMT

Image courtesy: Google
Patapati cheddi courtesy: Aravind Iyer