Thursday, January 8, 2009

Somethings off tangent !!

Just putting aside the 'Dombivli Slow' posts for the time being and expressing something off tangent. I will of course be continuing with the Dombivli Slow posts from the next posting.

Today morning as I was driving to my workplace in Bangalore, I was taking a left turn at the T-junction. At the same time another car from the opposite side of the road at the same place was taking a right turn, which meant that we would have arrived at the turn at the same time. Meanwhile at Zebra crossing on the junction across the breadth of the road where we were turning a man was crossing the road rather running to the opposite side. All it took for both me and the car driver was a split second to analyze what the situation was and react accordingly. I braked and slowed down my turn, so did the car driver and the man crossed safely.

My question is if our normal brains can process information so fast and can act accordingly to take take us to safety how come all the brains in a big corporation like Satyam muck up the finances over a 4-5 year period without anybody realising what was happening?

I find it absolutely incredible that the whole host of jokers from the directors (independent or otherwise), COO, Finance guys and PWC were unaware of a massive scam being perpetrated.

What I feel sorry for in this whole episode is the lakhs of rupees lost by the small investors and the jobs of the 53,000 employees at stake. These investors and employees have families and extended families dependent on their salaries. This one scam has put a lot of livelihoods at stake.


Also as I was driving to the office I was thinking about the IT employees and their lifestyle in general. Today the younger generation with skills have started earning big salaries and leading a lifestyle befitting the salary. You can see them having 1-2 cars same goes for the houses. Of course all this is on loan and when the recession hits or something like the above-mentioned scam happens these guys are left in lurch with nowhere to turn. All these things happen because they have not initiated any saving measures when the going was good.

Now coming to my situation, I’m close to 40 years. All my life I have been an average middle class person. I have worked in some of the top-notch companies of India and also spent around 5 years in Dubai. I have never been too ambitious, always contented with the current situation. I have of course changed jobs when opportunities presented themselves for a hike in salary. I have been steady, concentrating more on investments like buying a house, saving for the future (read old age) all the while leading a very average life. Leading a average life means shunning too much expenditure on luxuries, not going on costly vacations, postponing the purchase of a car, etc..

My question is whether I’m wrong? The rest of world around me seems to zip past like a Ferrari overtaking a moped and attaining goals which seem like unachievable dreams. Am I wrong somewhere for being contented and peace with my situation or is the rest of the world wrong? Of course I do realize the cost borne by these young guns for leading such a life.

Also please note this is not a case of sour grapes, jealousy or envy. This is just a honest question for which I can’t find any correct answer, from the depth of my heart, which I hope you will shed some light on.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dombivli Slow - Part I

Well this post is about my childhood in Dombivli. It has been inspired by Ugich Konitari suggesting me to write about it.

To the uninitiated Dombivli is a suburb of Mumbai, 49 kms away from CST ( Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) or what was previously known as VT ( Victoria Terminus). Though is not technically a part of Mumbai ( It is a part of Thane district) Dombivli has always been considered as an integral part of Mumbai, because most of the workforce which works in the factories and staffs of companies in Mumbai come from Dombivli.

Coming to the title of the post, Local trains or the Subarban Service has been the lifeline of Mumbai since ages. Trains start at CST and proceed in various directions on the Central Line of the Subarban Service. There also happens to be Western Line which is from Churchgate to Virar and a Harbour Line which runs from CST to Vashi and beyond. Most of the important ( read as towns with big populations) stations have four Platforms for four lines. Two of those lines are slow lines on which trains stop at all stations and the rest of the two are for fast trains on which trains skip certain stations and stop at only important ones. Therefore the title of the post Dombivli Slow which means a train originating at CST and stopping at all stations before arriving at my home town. Like the trains which stops and picks up and drops passengers at all stations. My post will be about memories gathered over a period of time.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about in my post will be period from 1969-1995.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about was a hick town in late 60's which was a small town occupied by middle class working community and the Agri's ( early settlers who were predominantly in the fishing business). The middle class were driven into this town by rising real estate prices in the city. They were hard working people who at the end of the day wanted a roof above their heads and also wanted to be near to the city. It was a town which was predominantly Maharashtrian until the expats arrived ( I'm a tamilian by birth). Today the same town has a equal population of Maharashtrians, Gujratis, Tamils, Malayalis, Bohris, Bengalis, etc.............. It has become a cosmopolitan town with a huge population of around 15 lakhs ( 1.5 million). It has also the unique record of never being affected by any of the riots and religous disturbances which have torn apart Mumbai from time to time.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about was a hick town where I could see a place around 2 kms away from the terrace of my 1 floor building. Today the same town has buildings cheek by jowl and in some cases where you can jump into the balcony of the house in the opposite building from yours and the only thing which you can see from the fourth floor nowadays is the person in the opposite building 2-3 metres away going about his lawful ( and also unmentionable) activites in the peace of his home.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about was a hick town where there was a lot of open spaces before the concrete jungle took shape. There was a lot of flora and fauna to be explored though not of the rain forest variety.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about was a hick town where my mother used to send me to buy Masala ( a combination of a coconut piece, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves and kothimir) or assorted grocery items to the shop which was 1/2 a km away without worrying whether I would be molested or get run over by a speeding vehicle.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about was a hick town which consisted of Chawls with open door policy where you spent more time at other peoples home than yours.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about was a hick town which consisted of 4-5 schools out which only two were English medium and going to a English Medium school was considered as something great.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about was a hick town which consisted of 2-3 private hospitals with minimal facilities. If you had any major medical problem you had to rush to Mumbai for the treatment.

The Dombivli which I will be talking about was a hick town with 4-5 temples and where most of the population was concentrated around 3 square kms from the station.

I will be writing in more detail about my childhood days and experiences from the next post. Hope all of you find it enjoyable.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Nothing in particular

After starting the blog and posting some memories and other posts, I seem to have developed a writers block. More to do with what topic to pick up and write about. Once I think up something and some one else has already written about it. It will then seem that I'm plagiarizing others ideas.

Like for example I thought of writing about something about the alumni group of my batch of 1984 of my school in Dombivli. Kavi has already beat me to the post by writing a very beautiful article about his school days. Therefore I shall defer this time and write about it later. I will also keep posts about my memories to some day later.

I have discovered one thing after the initial euphoria of starting a blog, that I do not have the natural flair which either Kavi or Ugich Konitari have. I simply do not have that bent of mind where I can convert ordinary day to day happenings into stories with morals and ethics.

Now, now, do not get happy that I'm closing down my blog. I do intend to bore all of you in the coming days by posting more unintelligible wanderings of my mind and these wanderings might end up looking like they have been expressed during a LSD trip. Not that I have ever experienced one, on the contrary I have read so much about it that I do not wish to experience one.

I also do not have the insightful way of looking into things in the way which Vivek-Uvach and iyer-n-higher do with their long expereince of human psychology.

Therefore I forge ahead bravely ( do not know if foolishly) thinking that you all will keep coming back to read my postings.

I had been browsing through an interesting blog by Prem Panicker called smoke signals where he writes about cricket, politics and generally the current affairs situation. He had given a link to the ten best short stories selected by Tehelka magazine for the year gone by. I read one of them by Manjula Padmanabhan. It is lovely story where she metaphorically uses a vampire from Europe to replace the terrorism and terrorists coming to country to create chaos. It is a great story in the context of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai. Have a read and do comment on how you liked it.

Happy reading!!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Happy New Year

I'm posting just to wish all of you a very happy, prosperous, healthy and peaceful New Year.

I will save my rants and memories for the New Year. I ought to have something left to post in the whole of 2009.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Tale of two C.V's

Disclaimer : I don't know about the veracity of the information presented below. I have presented it as it has been received by me.

The following is the subject of a mail sent to me by a very good friend who is also a Pakistani. He is made of the same flesh and blood that you and me are made of.....that's why I sometimes wonder why we bay for each others blood as a nation.


EDUCATION /Qualification:

1950: Stood first in BA (Hons), Economics, Punjab University, Chandigarh ,
1952; Stood first in MA (Economics), Punjab University , Chandigarh,
1954; Wright's Prize for distinguished performance at St John's College,Cambridge,
1955 and 1957; Wrenbury scholar, University of Cambridge ,
1957; DPhil (Oxford), DLitt (Honoris Causa); PhD thesis on India's export competitiveness

OCCUPATION /Teaching Experience:

Professor (Senior lecturer, Economics, 1957-59;
Reader, Economics, 1959-63;
Professor, Economics, Panjab University, Chandigarh,
1963-65; Professor,
International Trade, Delhi School of Economics,University
of Delhi,
1969-71; Honorary professor, Jawaharlal Nehru
University,New Delhi,
1976 and Delhi School of Economics, University of
Delhi,1996 and Civil Servant

Working Experience/ POSITIONS:

1971-72: Economic adviser, ministry of foreign trade
1972-76: Chief economic adviser, ministry of finance
1976-80: Director, Reserve Bank of India; Director, Industrial Development Bank of India;
Alternate governor for India , Board of governors , Asian Development Bank;
Alternate governor for India, Board of governors, IBRD
November 1976 - April 1980: Secretary, ministry of finance (Department of economic affairs);
Member, finance, Atomic Energy Commission ; Member,finance, Space Commission
April 1980 - September 15, 1982: Member-secretary, Planning Commission
1980-83: Chairman, India Committee of the Indo-Japan joint study committee
September 16, 1982 - January 14 , 1985: Governor, Reserve Bank of India.

1982-85: Alternate Governor for India, Board of governors, International Monetary Fund

1983-84: Member, economic advisory council to the Prime Minister

1985: President, Indian Economic Association

January 15 , 1985 - July 31, 1987: Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission

August 1, 1987 - November 10, 1990: Secretary-general and commissioner, south commission, Geneva

December 10 , 1990 - March 14, 1991: Advisor to the Prime Minister on economic affairs

March 15, 1991 - June 20, 1991: Chairman, UGC

June 21, 1991 - May 15, 1996: Union finance minister

October 1991: Elected to Rajya Sabha from Assam on Congress ticket

June 1995: Re-elected to Rajya Sabha

1996 onwards: Member, Consultative Committee for the ministry of finance

August 1, 1996 - December 4 , 1997: Chairman, Parliamentary standing committee on commerce

March 21, 1998 onwards: Leader of the Opposition, Rajya Sabha

June 5, 1998 onwards: Member, committee on finance

August 13, 1998 onwards: Member, committee on rules

Aug 1998-2001: Member, committee of privileges 2000 onwards: Member,
executive committee, Indian parliamentary group

June 2001: Re-elected to Rajya Sabha

Aug 2001 onwards: Member, general purposes committee


India's Export Trends and Prospects for Self-Sustained Growth -Clarendon
Press, Oxford University, 1964; also published a large number of articles in various economic journals .


Adam Smith Prize , University of Cambridge, 1956

Padma Vibhushan , 1987

Euro money Award, Finance Minister of the Year, 1993;

Asia money Award, Finance Minister of the Year for Asia ,
1993 and 1994


1966: Economic Affairs Officer

1966-69: Chief, financing for trade section,

1972-74: Deputy for India in IMF Committee of Twenty on International Monetary Reform

1977-79: Indian delegation to Aid-India Consortium Meetings

1980-82: Indo-Soviet joint planning group meeting

1982: Indo-Soviet monitoring group meeting

1993: Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Cyprus 1993:
Human Rights World Conference, Vienna


Gymkhana Club , New Delhi; Life Member, India International
Centre, New Delhi

Name: Dr Manmohan Singh

DOB: September 26 , 1932

Place of Birth: Gah (West Punjab, currently Pakistan)

Father: S. Gurmukh Singh

Mother: Mrs Amrit Kaur

Married on: September 14 , 1958

Wife: Mrs Gursharan Kaur

Children: Three daughters

*This man is Indian Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh)*

Resume -II
President of Pakistan

Education: no formal qualifications proved, he claims he has done graduation from London but we are still unable to find that college or university , and Zardari is unable to remember its name as well.

University : unknown.

Claim to fame : Husband of a famous, now ex (RIP) Prime Minister

Previous Laurels : Involvement in several murders most famously of his brother in law, possibly wife (not proved yet!)

Involvement in famous events : Wrapping a bomb to the leg of a famous UK businessman to ask for money!

Services to Pakistan : Embezzlement & looting of Billions of Pakistan's wealth, Suspected of killing his wife .

Family Business : Playing x-rated movies in family cinemas.

Personal Qualities : He never sticks to his words , and has no diplomatic manners


Well I leave it to the readers as to what they want to make out of this...............

My thoughts, I would not want to launch into a lengthy narrative of why Pakistan is currently in the state it is.......It will take a very long time, a lot of cyberspace and also the time of the readers to understand what I wish say........and also not speaking of the patience of readers to read through all that trash.......

Well coming back to my thoughts, Dr. Manmohan Singh is the best Finance Minister we ever had. If I had any say in politics I would permanently have him as the Finance Minister irrespective of which party is in power. He was the one who put India on the path to recovery with those fantastic path breaking reforms when the previous third front goevernment had pledged our gold to Bank of England for precious Forex. I would not want to comment on his achievments as the the PM of India. I'm not sure on this issue.......... What I certainly did not know that was Dr. Manmohan's resume would put the best of CEO's to shame.

As for Mr. 10 percent ( A A Zardari, he was really invovled in sanctioning projects for 10% when his wife was the PM) the less said the better, considering the number of flip flops he is currently doing, he will put a top-flight gymnast to shame............

Readers your thoughts....................

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Experiencing Z Plus Security - Part III

After that great trip to the Dead Sea, which I thought I would never be able to see in my life we returned back to Amman. ( Of course there are a lot of other places I would like to visit, let me see where life takes me................)

The next day I was returning back to Dubai. I got up early and finished my packing and was ready by 8.30 and waiting to say my good-bye's and thanks to the client and everybody at his office for the great time I had in Jordan. My client's office is situated bang opposite the hotel and was to open at 9. I went there a little after 9 and finished my thanks and bye's and returned to the hotel to pick up my luggage and head to the airport.

As I entered the Marriott gate I saw a crowd at the entrance. I thought it must be for some event to take place at the hotel. I kept walking from the gate towards the long corridor before the main lobby of the hotel. I saw the corridor empty till the entrance of the lobby where another crowd had assembled. As I was walking down the corridor a tall gentleman, all of probably 6' 4" start walking towards me. He was tall and well built.

At this point let me describe myself. I'm around 5' 11" and only 53 kgs to boot. So you all can imagine how I would have measured head to head with that person.

I thought nothing of the person walking towards me till he reached me. I was concentrating more on the crowd at the entrance. The people seemed to have formed a circle around a person and there were flash bulbs going off periodically. As soon as he reached me he put his hands out straight as if barring my way further. I was flummoxed by this action. I asked him what did he mean by that and told him I was a guest in the hotel and I was going to my room. He looked back and noticed that the crowd had parted and started to move forward. He put his arms around my extremely small frame and had me in a lock which left me unable to move totally. He then proceeded to pin me against a large ornate pillar, one of the many which lined the corridor. By now I was angry and confused and started arguing with him to let me go. He just stood there impassively with out speaking a single word the whole time. It was also futile to struggle since he had me effectively locked in this arms and moving my lips was the only thing I could do in those circumstances.

Giving up, I started staring at the crowd that was moving out of the hotel. There was a distinguished short gentleman with a shock of white/graying hair speaking to reporters with microphones thrust in his face. All while the photographers were busy clicking his pictures. Surrounding that gentleman were more persons in black suits and of the same height and build as the gentleman holding me. Something clicked in my mind, but I still could not fathom the situation. The crowd passed the place where we were standing and moved further away. The person holding me let go of me and ran forward ahead of the crowd, living me confused and bewildered. I stood there for some time staring at that spectacle and then walked back inside the hotel.

I went to the reception and asked for my room keys and also what the whole incident was all about. The person at the reception replied "Oh, that, that was the President of Algeria".

I was stunned for a moment and also a little happy that I got to witness royalty at a very close range. Emotions took a different hue altogether from the ones I had 2 minutes back.

I rushed back to the room picked my luggage and came down to clear the bills and board the car for the airport. I reached the airport and was lost trying to find the counter for paying the airport exit tax. I asked a security person the way. He again asked me in Arabic "Wal Hindiya?" I replied yes. He came all the way with me to the counter and was chatting in broken Hindi and
English about Indian movies and Amitabh Bachchan. Very nice of him, but then through out the trip I found that as an Indian I received very nice treatment from the people of Jordan.

Boarded the plane and was back in Dubai 3 hours later.

Thus ended a memorable trip and also the experience with Z Plus security. Of course nowadays head of the state security is not as simple as my experience, still.............

Experiencing Z Plus Security - Part II

I landed at Amman airport after the interesting journey. I and the U.A.E lady parted company at the immigration. The immigration counter person was surprised to have a visitor with an Indian passport. He looked at a few times cross-checked my face with the photo and asked me 'wal hindiya'? I assumed he was asking me if I was an Indian and replied affirmatively.

Immigration over I encountered customs where a gentleman in an immaculate suit and beard was counting the beads. He asked me in perfect English whether I had anything to declare. I replied in negative and he told me in a very gracious manner "This way, please", pointing to the exit. After experiencing Indian customs personnel I was flabbergasted by the Jordanian customs.

My client had arranged for me to be picked up from the airport. I settled in the Marriott Hotel in Amman. My client's office was bang opposite the hotel. Over the next two days I finished my business with my client.

During the course of business I had been on market visits to Amman and the nearby Zarka town. Zarka is a small suburb similar to any central Mumbai suburb. It mainly comprises of Palestinian settlers and lower middle class Jordanians. During the visit I came across a theatre where a poster looked familiar and I asked the gentleman accompanying me the name of the movie of that poster. He read it for a minute and told me it was a Indian movie and the actors were somebody called Jacky Sharief (Shroff), Amir Khan and some name for Urmila Matondkar. I knew immediately that the movie was 'Rangeela'. I also came to know that Indian movies were very popular and that if you buy a ticket in the morning it is valid for all the shows of the day.

I had a lovely trip on the second last day to the Dead Sea. My client's manager drove me to the Dead Sea. Though I knew about the Dead Sea I was apprehensive about taking a dip in it because I did not know swimming. The person accompanying me assured me and pointed to the other bathers that drowning in the Dead Sea is impossible.

Thus assured I removed my clothes put on my shorts and also the thread from my shoulders and the chain I was wearing and gave to the gentleman with me. I was initially hesitant to do so, not knowing what his reaction would be. He was simply curious and asked me about the significance of the thread and the god's image on the pendant.

I had a great time splashing, floating in the water. It is a strange concoction of salt, minerals which does not stick to your skin, rather it simply rolls off. During one of my rolls in the water, it got into my eyes which then proceeded to blind me completely and water for around the next 2 -3 minutes. The water is very salty, indeed, I found it out the hard way.

Bath finished we strolled around the bank looking at the lights of Gaza strip which is visible from the Jordanian side. The person accompanying me asked whether I wanted to go to Israel and that it is only an hour's drive from where we were standing. I declined fearing repercussions about an Israeli stamp on my passport as I worked in a Gulf country. He replied that the border authorities would not stamp my passport and everything would take place on a piece of paper. I declined.

We drove back to Amman after a nice dinner on the way.

The real incident comes in the next post which will also be concluding part of this trip.