Sunday, December 10, 2006

An Experience

I did a two month internship in Mumbai in the summer of 2006. The place is full of challenges and made me realise that there is so much to learn in life. Some really funny things happened to me on the day I first set out for my training . There were two more friends with me. I scribbled my memories for the day in a mail and sent it over to friends for some fun filled reading. I think it deserves some space on my blog too...

I woke up at 6 in the morning.. perfect start of the day as planned a day before.. I am putting up at Chembur and had seen and studied my route to Worli ( my workplace) a day before. Sharp at 7 I left my place.. I was already feeling proud of how organized I had become in just 2 days in Mumbai. Took an Auto to chembur station, this was done deliberately though I had to catch my train from Kurla. The reason being that I had l learnt the other day that the ticket queues are long @ Kurla. After taking a first class ticket( I also learned that if one wants to go standing all the way, he should take a first class ticket.. in case you want to see yourself hanging out, the normal ticket would do) from Chembur, I carried on to Kurla in the Auto.. the long queue at the ticket counter there made me feel proud of my clairvoyance.

Like an innocent lamb ready to be slaughtered , having little idea of what lay ahead, I moved ahead.. just as I reached the platform, I realised that my train had arrived and was ready to move.. so I took a sprint... the first class had moved to the end of the platform so it was quite a chase.. as I stepped in, the train moved.. and I felt glad that I had won another battle.... however I felt a little uncomfortable by the way a girl sitting right in front was staring at me.. I thought maybe thats how girls in Mumbai are ( PLZ no offence intended to people from Mumbai\) and then there was another Aunty starring at me.. all this unnerved me a bit.. dressed in new crisp formal wear.. had I suddenly started looking that good? I was wondering ... and then I saw IT.. my jaw fell open and my face flushed.... there werent just two faces... there were many.. DAMN! In the hurry to get onto the train, I didnt realise what I had got into..

It was the LADIES' coach! for a moment I felt like jumping out... but then I had read of the countless deaths in Mumbai due to local train accidents.. I definetely had no intentions to form a news in the papers of the next I stayed.. turning my face away and looking out all the time... the train had a small halt at a station and I changed my coach. Out of the train at Dadar, I felt releived .. I had just made it through a very hard time and I felt glad.

I took a Taxi from Dadar to Worli and reached a good one hour before time... I was feeling glad that I was so punctual. The reporting was @ 8:45.. Vineet and Rahul joined me by 8:40 and together we moved in like warriors who had come to conquer. Inside, we were asked to sit and wait..and wait we did... for 1 hour before we felt something was wrong.. I had kept on cursing the lack of proffessionalism on the part of the company all this while waiting for the HR Manager to arrive.. and now I was doubtful... why is it that its only the three of us who are there.. are we special enough to have a seperate induction amongst the 40 odd trainees?? We soon got the answer.. the Hr Manager arrived and was surprised to see us!" what are you guys doing here??" I thought-Ma'am.. we are here for the summer training remember?? She told us that the joining date had been postponed to 5th! and this was communicated to the place com!! . I felt a bit Hysterical.. but held on... she gave us our project breifs and asked us to be back on 5th with other trainees .. a peon had come in to ask for coffee.. we had even nodded our heads.. but seemed like he forgot and Ma'am bye byed us.

Outside the office, we decided to do some house hunting.. somebody told us of a place closeby where accomodation was available " baaju mein hai bhau... seedhe jaane ka!" he had said. So we walked... and we walked..3 Goddamn KMS!!! The guy at the location had just the right words to say to us.. " Kisne bola aapko? apan ke paas aisa koi accomodation nahi hai na!" hehe .. we couldnt beleive it .. screwed up again. We decided to chill out.. had seen enough action since morning.. it was time to unwind.. we moved ( in a bus) to crossroads ( one of the oldest malls in Mumbai) near Haaji Ali. After getting down , we decided to have something to drink... not in the mall... we werent stupid to spend 60 bucks each on something to drink while on our STs.. this was the time to learn.. time to save.. time to manage. We saw the answers to our problem.. there .. right in front of us a shop read" HAJI ALI JUICE CENTER" bingo! We went in and asked for 2 mango and 1 strawberry juice... and I tell you they were good!

Vineet, Rahul and I felt proud of our wise decision and praised the juice while we relished it and quenched our thirsts. " to bhau kitna hua?" ,I asked. I guess it was one of those days when it is predecided that anything and everything around you existed just to screw you. The man said " 210" hehe... we had had enough I went crazy laughing.. I couldnt beleive it... 70 Rs a glass...I swallowed my tears which had followed the laughter and paid.

We went to the mall.. all three of us shaken.. sat in Mc Donald's .. didnt have anything.. we had to save money.. came out went to the road side pao bhaji waala... ordered 3 sandwiches.. suddenly I remembered the lesson learnt not so long ago at the juice shop.. I asked " bhau yeh sandwich kitne ka hai?" " 35 Rs" , he said.. STOP!!! (I almost screamed). We later went to Mc Donald's and had burgers worth 40 Rs.. I was feeling good about myself.. had proven to be a quick learner. The last blow of the day came on our way back... Rahul had left and Vineet and I had to go in the same direction so we were waiting for a bus.. It took only 5 rs so it was quite cheap mode of transport.

A bus came by.. and we asked the conductor.."Worli?" He asked us to climb in and we were happy that we had made it before the mumbaikars as they sat at the bus stop.. probably crying over the lost opportunity that two guys from delhi had grabbed.. or so I thought. It turned out that the bus was an AC coach and we had two shell out 7 times the amount for a small ride to Worli . From Worli we took a NORMAL bus and came back.. exhausted, drained and flagellated. I slept like a dog last night.. Mumbai is going to teach me a lot of stuff.. at least now i know that road side juice waalas aint that cheap.

I guess life is all about making memories, I would love to make many more even if that means making a thousand mistakes worth laughing at in the end.....! Damn! Did I just sound sensible?


The Blah Man

Monday, November 6, 2006

The Three Kinds of Learners

Life is a learning experience; it teaches us of its vagaries in numerous ways and prepares us to face ups and downs as they come. There are essentially 3 types of learners*:
1.The Fishukawas: These are the front row students of the course; they are smart, seldom make mistakes and are quick learners. They believe in the adage: Prevention is better than cure and hence always ensure quality control. (Source: Total Quality Management )
2.The Bishukawas: As the name suggests (I don't know how though) these are the back benchers. They don't care about anything; they are there to have fun and give the life and its lessons all the shit they are worth. They make all the mistakes but refuse to learn. They take everything in their stride.
3.The Mishukawas: Clearly, the middle benchers. Thoroughly confused, life is like a quandary for them. They get hit all the time but never get to know how. Their most frequent question is usually "Why did this have to happen to me?" They try with all their might but never get anywhere and for some strange reason others find their confused demeanor funny and at times cute and their friends are Prof Murphy and his ghost.

*The names have been deliberately chosen from the Japanese language to make it easy for readers to remember and relate to.

This masterpiece of writing here is dedicated to the third kind of learners, The Mishukawas(I will address them with the abbreviation XXX although I understand that it is difficult for the reader to understand how I arrived at that. However, the reader is ensured that a lot of mathematical calculations have gone into that). To understand XXXs, it is imperative that we are acquainted with Prof.Murphy and his law. Murphy's law states that "Things will go wrong if they have to and in a way so as to do maximum damage". XXXs have a strange affinity to this law and its consequences and in this little piece of work here, I will narrate an incident which will make my point clear.

To start with, I must inform you that I myself belong to the XXX category and this is my little story.

I have had this knack missing out on at least one question or a part of it in every other exam I take. It has been happening very frequently with me of late. It has often happened that I miscalculated time or misread it and ended up missing a question or two. It left me dejected and I felt like a loser but I guess when you have had enough of adversities, even Gods are shaken up and they themselves resolve to help you out. I had no idea that Gods had woken up for me today. It started like any other exam day, only that I had this firm determination in my heart to take the question paper by its horns and pin it down in time, and I could feel a strange 'force' hell bent upon helping me out. I wore a winner's smile as I entered the exam room. I wanted to shout –"Get aside morons, the star has arrived!"

The exam paper was a bit lengthy, but I was prepared for the bouncers. I was ready today….! I started writing at a pace which would have turned Mr Schumacker and his companions pink (Let's assume the color of jealousy is pink). Excellence in time management was on my mind, and 'the force' was also there to help. I knew I couldn't go wrong. I cut down long answers short, I wrote in bullets, I used acronyms and abbreviations (as profound as XXX), drew figures without scale and rarely bothered to correct grammatical errors. This was a race and I had to win, people who would care to decorate would find themselves out of it. “Morons!”, I thought again and smiled as I answered each question.

I knew that I wasn't answering well in terms of the content, but then nobody who had to complete the exam in the given time could and so I rode on. However, I did have my anxious moments. Just as I saw my watch show that only two minutes remained, I realized that I had missed out on one question. I could see the walls of my fort crumbling…. I couldn't have given it up then. I looked up to the heavens and asked for some extra 'force' and got back to work. It amazed me to see my pen move with such finesse. I was a master warrior and my pen was my sword (at this moment I formulated an adage –"A pen is mightier than a sword" and I have a feeling that it will get famous someday). So, as the clock ticked towards the end of the allotted time, I started getting up from my seat almost pretending that I was about to submit my answer sheet. I was scribbling rapidly on the sheet to complete my answer before the answer sheet could be taken away by the invigilator. For those who have been in similar situations would agree that it's a weird position you get into under such circumstances. You get 'half' up from your seat and pretend to be ready to hand over the sheet and yet continue to write in a desperate attempt to finish. I was in that situation.

However, my hand ached but I just wrote those final words. Words which read victory for me... I got up (completely this time) and handed over the sheet to the invigilator and dashed out of the room to proclaim my victory. In the corridor though, there was not a Kaswahaza (that's an animal from my nightmares and I have a feeling it's Japanese too) to greet me. And then I remembered the last bit of Murphy's law, the elusive bit... it said-" Nothing in the world is right, so if everything seems right, there is something wrong" it echoed to me from the heavens and I almost turned brown( lets assume it's the color of fear and shock), peeped back into the class and asked a classmate why nobody else was moving out and his words shattered me; he spoke in crisp Spanish ( I understand Spanish well)- "Paper 2 ghante ka hai bhai!" There was lightening and then it rained. Only over me though. Heavens were crying; I had done the impossible only that it wasn't required!

But then I walked out feeling self actualized. I had seen another one of life's vagaries and was a stronger and more learned man though a bit more confused.

I met a few friends and told them my sad story; they sympathized by laughing only for 15 minutes over it and promising to tell my story to only a few more people.

So that's how XXXs are. There is more to them though and as a responsible member of this category, I shall write more on them later.

The Blah Man

PS: I got to know of this person who managed to give a new angle to the famous BCG matrix by replacing the category-"Dogs" with "Donkeys". I don't know which category he would belong to, but I guess he feels like a brother to me!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Attack of Common Cold & Some Medicine Mantras

Never thought I'd write this .. medicine? From an engineer?? Well this one is not so much about my mantra on medicine but it has more to do with the failure of some trusted and validated mantras in my case.
There is one disease which has always scared the s**t out of me it's not cancer, its not any tumor its not even AIDS.. it's called Common Cold(CC). As far as I can remember through the convoluted lanes of my memory, I have always dreaded it and today it's no different. It's 6:30 in the morning and I am still awake. Stayed up all night not for work or party but for this wretched cold! This time around though, I was determined to get rid of it . So I tried.

The first mantra: Hot Tea. They say it works miraculously . Let me tell you here that I have had tea just once before in my life and I had puked then.However, with grit, determination and the fear of CC , I set out to have tea.With over flowing enthusiasm, I asked for not one but two cups of tea. I swear it tastes horrible and I thought of spitting out the first sip but I could see the viruses of CC waiting to dig their fangs in my skin. So I mustered all my courage and gulped it all down.
I waited but nothing happened, the cold was only getting worse, the nose started running and so did I .. CC was going to attack full force.

The second mantra: Vicks! I remember how mom used to apply vicks on my nose and chest and often provided me relief. My nose was now choking up so I made the SOS call for Vicks to a close friend who had been subjected to extreme persecution from me (which accompanies every time CC approaches, perhaps for self defence, but trust me the CC virus is deadly and fears no mortal, so my behavior didnt quite bother it) and I must thank my poor friend here for bearing it. So I applied the Vicks, almost everywhere that I could ( and trust me I am regretting that now), the CC did balk a bit but came back with a war cry to hit me harder; my nose completely blocked and head heavy. Another mantra down the drain.

The third mantra: Peppermint oil. It's said to be an instant reliever - the saviour of tortured souls, the one with the reputation of slaying the CC viruses like a lawn mower wipes off the grass.So my friend said- "Try this , it never fails- my mom recommends it" So from my mom's recommendation I moved to her mom's recommendation, I had already made plans that if it worked, I would boast about it to my mom and get a chance to put forth a recommendation which was better than hers. Peppermint oil is supposed to be put on one's pillow so that one can keep inhaling the aroma and poison the CC viruses. I applied it to the pillow, to my nose, to my shirt, trousers but refrained from going any further as I had learnt it the hard way in the Vicks experience, and waited for the result. Nothing.. absolutely zilch! I started believing that moms no longer had foolproof mantras.

The fourth mantra: Inhalus Ultimatus. Thats what I call it, my dad's mantra, I had forgotten about it but my friend reminded me of it. It involves heating water and adding Vicks to it and then covering the head with a towel and inhaling the vapors. So I played against CC for one last time.Kept myself under the towel for eternity, lost all the blackheads on my face but the gallant CC refused to budge.In a nutshell - FLOP.

The Final mantra: This one is original, the last resort, I discovered it today.When nothing works, flee the battlefield. So I gave up , bowed to the mighty CC and decided not to try to sleep.Instead I stayed up the night to write down my experience. Surprisingly, CC has slowed down its attack. I guess, if you respect the more powerful, you are likely to get some mercy. I got it,at least enough to let me breathe!
So my mantra for those who dread CC just as badly as I do-Surrender.

The Blah Man

P.S: Another friend recommended his mantra: stand upside down on your head, the mucus in your nose runs out of the ears to beat CC.I dont know if I can give this one a try, but it's a mantra nevertheless.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blah #1

This is to introduce yet another one of those millions of blogs in the cyberspace. If I were to sound sensible I would have probably introduced my Blog as following:

"I want my life to be a collection of memories which I can cherish for as long as I live. And I have a knack for making happy memories, so no matter how bad the situation is, there is always something to laugh at when we look back at it. On my blog here, this is what I intend to do by bringing out the lighter side of my life. "

However, sounding sensible is definitely not the idea here . So I wouldn't make any tall claims and I promise to all who end up stumbling upon my blog by mere coincidence and sheer bad luck , that this space would never talk anything meaningful or sensible. However if it does sound meaningful please be sure that I had no intention of writing such a post. It just happened and I'd take no responsibility for it.

All my regards,
The Blah Man