Friday, December 12, 2008


Life is so full of If's and buts.
If there is one poem that sums up so many philosophies across the world, it is the poem "IF" by Rudyard Kipling. This poem brings me solace, and sometimes is the guiding light for my corporate as well as my personal life.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Colours of India (2)!!!

Colours of India!!!

Colours. I associate India as a land of colours. I see bright colours in shops, in clothes, in painted walls, festivities and almost everything that is still Indian. We love the deep hues of Red, in the vermilion of a married woman, in the BEST buses, in the outfit of the blushing bride, in the hot favorite red Maruti. We love the multi coloured golas with the green Khus, the black kala-khatta, and the pink strawberry. Diwali lanterns brighten our homes in all conceivable hues and Holi gulal in the omniscent pink is splattered with greens, blues and yellows with pleasure. We love our Men in Blue and admire the page three celebs in black. We have scootys available in a 100 colours, asian paints in 1000s to mix, and we love Gems and Poppins which are all differently coloured. We love our varied cuisines which are is spiked with colourful spices. For each shade of a sari, there are 20 different shades to be matched with at the local matching center. We love colour coordinating our earrings, necklaces, bangles, purse, sandals with the rest of our outfit. We love the multi coloured rangolis to brighten up our verandahs and ward off evil spirits. Our Gods also come in blue (Lord Shiva), orange (Lord Ganesha) and black (Maa Kali). Even our dressing, has a colour code. Brides typically dress in red, widows are supposed to wear white, while sadhus don saffron. Well, that’s the colourful India for you!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lighting a Candle

I light a candle for all those who sacrificed their lives and those who have been killed in terrorist activities. May their souls rest in peace.

Hostages to fear

I am a hostage to fear. I fear going to crowded places for shopping during Diwali, fear travelling by public transport, fear festive throngs during Janmashtami, fear going to the movie theater. Now I shall fear going to even so called up-market restaurants, and minimize whatever time I spend out-doors. Time and again, my ‘mighty’ and ‘fast developing’ India has proved that it is utterly incapable of handling terrorist activities. Here I am not talking about lame bombs kept by nameless cowardly faces that disappear after the dastardly act that others pay for. I am talking about an act that has had conniving, planning, gathering of huge resources that include well trained terrorists, machine guns, grenades and RDX bombs, and the brazenness to attack openly and get away with it. The mindless firing at Taj, our nation’s pride, and at several other places of national importance, left me shaken. Our intelligentsia had not a whiff of what was to come. This operation left me stunned. Something has snapped. The faith that things will get better, and lives will not be lost anymore due to these motivated but demented monsters was shattered.

India has supposedly a strong army which is proudly flaunted on the Republic day. But, it is sad that we can be so vulnerable, each time, these monsters come out and attack us. Do the officials really expect these monsters to come and intimate them of their plans to come and attack, in order to preempt these attacks? I am tired even to repeat the same things over and over again and condemn the monsters, condemn the government, condemn the opposition parties, condemn the intelligence agencies. I have no more words. I have no more hope.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseni

Khalid Hosseni has come out with another winner after ‘The Kite Runner’. The Afgan landscape is once again delineated marvelously as the vistas of one oppressive regime after another unfold. This is a tale of two women whose supreme sacrifices for the other supersede everything else.

What I like about the book is that all the characters in the tale are strong and play a pivotal role. Mariam, is a poor harami, who is married at a very young age to a regressive widower 30 years senior to her. She has nothing to look forward in life, nobody to talk to her till the second protagonist, Laila steps into her desolate child-less household. Laila is vivacious, carefree and has everything she can desire in life including a good family and a sweetheart who adores her. Unfortunately the ravages that sweep through Afganistan spare nobody, and the two women find themselves in the same boat ready for desperate measures…

The story certainly lingered in my mind for several days as I thought of all the mindless destruction and trauma that the Afgans and especially the Afgani women who had been shackled by orthodoxy have had to go through. But at the end of it all, ‘A thousand splendid suns’ embodies the human hope and courage to lead a better life despite all odds.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kashid ahoy!!

3 days of holidays!!!! Yipppeeeee!!! We hit the road on the independent morning (independent from work as well) on a unplanned long drive to Kashid. Not many would have heard of it. It’s a beach that is a 4-5 hour drive from Mumbai. Our spirits weren’t exactly soaring..a hard week at office, a vacation gone awry, no prior arrangement for lodging and boarding done at Kashid, getting stuck in an awful traffic jam for over two hours on a holiday..well, it all dissolved into nothingness as the verdant greenery all around enveloped us. The rains had enchanted the land and blessed it with a glory never seen in the bustle and pollution in today’s cities.

I had only heard of the rich vistas that the Konkan landscape offered. The ride offered hills, the seaside, green forests, pastures, quaint villages and everything a landscape can offer to please our eyes, minds and senses. We had anticipated a lack of sign boards and deserted roads. On the contrary, milestones, helping villagers appeared at all junctions guiding us along the way. As we neared Kashid, or so we thought, signs of “Good Lodging and Boarding facilities available” appeared at the gates of several homes as did several resort signs pop up everywhere. We checked out the “Nandgaon” beach, didn’t like it so much, so moved a further 30 kms to Kashid where the white sands and clean water completely bowled us over. The holiday season being full on, the 4 star hotels and resorts such as Prakruti Resorts, Sarve huts, Kashid Beach Resort etc, were all full anyway. We opted for accommodation at one of the alluring sea facing bunglows that were converted to acco places. There are a variety of offerings in these suiting all pockets. We found a really nice place with clean hospitable rooms with all modern amenities and amazing food. The locals here are extremely hospitable and provide excellent service catering to your every need.

After parking ourselves at one such comfortable place, we headed to the Janjeera fort away from Kashid. Murud-Janjeera is another popular tourist spot further ahead of Kashid. The beach of Murud is amazing too though a wee bit crowded. The main attraction here is the imposing fort of Janjeera which looms large right in the middle of the sea making it invincible. Many battles were fought here and I could well hear the roar of the sea and the thunder of cannons from the fort protecting it from enemies. This historic fort, the guide told us was 900 years old. Hats off to our ancestors who built this monument that still stands proud despite all the weathering inflicted by wind and water thus belittling modern day buildings that collapse with the slightest tremor.

The sea always instills in me a wonder, awe and a reverence to Him who has created it. The vast expanse of water never ceases to amaze me. The Sea seems to me, alive, humongous and sometimes terrifying even though the breeze by the sea brings a peace to me that can be sought no where else. The spirit of all those creatures within, I guess, imbibe their spirits in the sea which takes up the form of a benevolent benefactor being the source of all that we are today in the form of being a part of the water cycle, or casting its malevolence to strike in the form of typhoons, hurricanes, to remind the world, the earth with all its elements is not to be taken for granted.

Anyways, coming back to the trip, the next morning, we headed back home bidding farewell to the azure waters and the pearly sands. We stopped by the Birla temple that was on the way, We stopped after every few minutes to savour the scenery for the last time and capture more images for posterity of the earth that still is today, eat by a stream flowing by, visit the Birla temple enroute, buy the local honey at a farm, visit a village temple. Well, all good things finally end (otherwise they wouldn’t be good, isn’t it?). We braced ourselves once again to face the horns, the smoke, hordes of people, noise, and the hustle-bustle of what they call urban life.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Maid vs Malkin

There was a time when the Malkin dictated and the Maid obeyed. Times change, Now, the Bai dictates, and the Malkin pleads her to have mercy. I have had to change 3 bais in 3 months. A fat salary, no hassles (I do not have the time in the mornings to monitor her work you see)..Still they left me feeling helpless and frustrated. I am not tyrannical or anything you may think. They prefer living in poverty without food to getting up at 730 in the morning.

Let me compare the salary of a Bai and that of a well educated teacher. Their monthly salaries are Rs 1000 and Rs 5000 (yes, the teachers salaries are dismal).

The Bai first: They take atleast 6 holidays per month. Come late for 18 days. 3 days before the salary date and after, they are on time and do a decent job. So, am I paying them for just 6 days + 9 days (they do only half the work for 18) = 15 days. That is the full salary for half the work done. So, they get paid around a 800 Rs for 7.5 hrs (considering half an hrs work everyday). So they get Rs133.33/hr.

The Teacher: For 8 hrs of work everyday, for 6 days a week, they draw around Rs 5000 per month or even less. That is Rs 104.666/hr. That is after all the stress of teaching, commuting, understanding students, making them understand etc etc. Where are the human rights activists now?

If we all regular office goers are expected to be responsible and accountable to our employers, are not these maids, who expect only rights but no accountability?


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Book Review--The 3 mistakes of my life by Chetan Bhagat

After reading the first two books of Chetan Bhagat, I picked this third with pretty low expectations. Wanting to be Indias most 'loved' writer rather than admired one, I reckon he writes about what Indians will want to read about, with all the masala possible..romance, action, dreams,....and of course Cricket

This book tells the tale of three friends caught in the tumult of business, love, friendship, natural calamities, politics, religion,dreams and what not. Govind with his two friends opens a novel cricket store that offers all cricketing solutions ranging from merchandise to cricket coaching iin their little sleepy town. The story moves on to tell the tale of their discovery of Ali, a cricket whiz kid and the turn of events due to him.
Chetan Bhagat rants about how passionate Australians are about sports but how few brownie points a billion plus country earns in the arena of sports. He also shows the Indians’ disapproval of kids who are spurned by parents if they do not get high marks in exams which are the only things that matter somehow. He touches upon the religious and the political issues rampant in Gujrat. The story was readable, the narrative good. Well, looks like there might be one more film coming along his way after one night @ a call center.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Book Review- A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer

I expectantly bought this book after a long hiatus of not reading Jeffrey Archer. Well, it got off to a racy start, trundled in the middle, and raced to the finish. The pace of the book was excellently set against the fulgurant storyline.

The protagonist of the book Danny was wrongly indicted to 22 years of imprisonment at Belmarsh for the murder of his best friend and fiancées brother, Bernie. The murder was as a result of a brawl between Danny, Bernie and four drunken big-shots, one of whom took a fancy to Beth. The murderer and his chums craftily got away making Danny the scapegoat. Little did they know Danny would certainly seek his revenge.

I initially thought, the book would go the ‘Shawshank Redemption’ way; well, it went the Grisham way when Danny battled for his freedom at the courts. The twists were amazing though a bit impossible (can’t spill the beans, can I?). JA after his prison experience, I guess, has added those little details which have portrayed the prison life brilliantly.

Overall, I ld rate this book as really great entertainment; movie material I ld say!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Review-The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

“What’s in a name?” It is precisely this issue, that this book by Jhumpa Lahiri, writer of the memorable 'Interpreter of maladies', sought to tackle in the “Namesake”. Gogol, the protagonist of the story, had been named so, as the grandmothers letter bearing his true name did not cross the oceans from Bengal to his place of birth, America. His tribulations with a name that didn’t inspire confidence in him, not knowing the significance of his name, all cascaded into waves of revolt against his name and made him change into another “Nikhil”. But..he still felt like Gogol.

The book also talks about the identity crisis that ABCDs are supposed to go through. Though Gogol and his sister Sonia were born of Indian Bengali parents, they completely felt American and had completely imbibed its values and social systems. There is no discombobulation in their minds; they are clear about the fact that America is their homeland, and not India which might be their parents’. The fact baffles the parents who feel torn apart as their minds live in one continent and bodies in another. The children on the other hand associate their whole and soul in the country they have always inhabited do not really understand the customs of their parents’ native country . Gogol in his search for an identity must have realised that there was more to it than just a name.


Thursday, July 10, 2008



Mobile phone etiquettes are something that indeed need to be taught in India. Meetings, movies, shows are interrupted with a rude “Mauja hi Mauja” ring from a mobile phone. I guess this is much talked about in any case. What I am speaking about is the use of mobile phones for hollering in public places.

I was traveling from Calcutta to Mumbai in a Jet airways flight. While take off, as usual there were the repeated safety warnings of seatbelts, mobiles, no smoking etc. Despite everything, a sardarji was bellowing on his cellphone about his next meeting and his entire tour itinerary. Not one Indian raised his voice in protest at his blatant flouting of rules. One foreigner finally raised his voice. The sardar instead of being apologetic started abusing the guy who asked him to switch off his mobile. Look at the irony of the situation. On one hand we grumble about defaulting airlines, lack of procedure, babudom and what not. On the other hand, we, the so called educated and civilized people cannot handle miniscule inconveniences due to rules for our own safety and welfare.

A Mumbai-Pune travel had become torturous once, when there were people discussing their office deals loudly, a girl telling her friend about the entire history of her relationship with her boyfriend and her travails with him. Another woman was exchanging entire recipes for her darling 6 year old daughter who was studying in “abc school” and who loved putting on make up. Damn, who is interested in all their lives, when all you wanna do is put ur head down and sleep after a tiring day?

Another day at Café Coffee Day, where ppl come to chill and relax, there was this guy with two others. He was bellowing at the top of his voice on his phone for a good 20 mins.. “You baboon, how could you go ahead with this deal…blah blah blah…You lollypop, do u know the implications of this blah blah blah, you ass, you moron, blah blah blah…” In short, he managed to ruin the atmosphere of the entire café by making himself heard for a good 20 meters.

Why cannot Indians, just learn to be simply courteous? There are other people around too. In a public place, can’t they really keep their affairs to themselves? We do not want to know about their clients and their multi crore deals and their boyfriends. Will the world really tumble down if they switched off their mobiles during flights and if they didn’t blabber so loudly?


Monday, July 07, 2008

Book Review- Sea of Poppies

Writing a book that avid readers don’t forget is a sign of a prolific writer. When I read ‘The Glass Palace’ by Amitav Ghosh, I anointed his book into my gallery of unforgettables. Sea of Poppies though is immensely readable is not unforgettable. The theme is excellent, the narrative riveting, but the characters I felt lacked depth. Do read my previous blog too on what irked me the most--the parlance used. Amongst the characters, there is Zachary who rose rapidly in rank, Deeti whose life was completely influenced by poppies even though she didn’t partake any of its products, Neel, the erstwhile king and the only character I found a wee bit interesting-Paulette, the Frenchwoman, turned Bengali who flees from a desolate present, Jodu, Paulette’s foster brother.

The story starts of with the delineation of the individual lives of the characters, later, their fates get irrevocably intertwined as destiny brings them aboard the IBIS, the schooner that carries them over the black waters.

I however liked the part of the story in which Heeru gets married, the spirit of brotherhood that thrives during trying times, and the ‘girmitiyas’ attempt at making the best of their circumstances was touching.

Everyone ofcourse wants a complete story that either ends with the happily ever after or the tragic ending. This book being the first of a trilogy, obviously does not end…so despite all that I didn’t like about the book, I liked it enough to buy part 2 of it when its out!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sea of Poppies (Samandar of Poppies)

I’ve been reading this book called ‘Sea of Poppies’ by Amitav Ghosh. The book has an excellent theme, is set back in time of the nascent British rule. More on the story after I finish reading it. His earlier work ‘The Glass Palace’ had me hooked and prodded me to read more of his works.

Well, I will not say I am disappointed with the ‘Sea of Poppies’. It’s just that I couldn’t appreciate the parlance used; I understand that the story is based in Bihar and West Bengal, and that he is trying to bring about the rustic appeal by usage of Bhojpuri, Bengali and Hindi. I m not a purist or anything but only a smattering of it is understandable. When one is faced with it in every other sentence, it gets mildly irritating. Perhaps Amitav Ghosh is merely trying to make a style statement, or is furthering the cause of hindification of English language.
Consider a layperson and especially one, who is unfamiliar about the Indian languages coming across with statements like

“..She should be sent off beech-o-beech where I don’t have to listen to him. I'll let you have the windy old poggle.”

“the kubber is that there’s more than one young missy-mem whos got a mind to bundo the fellow”

“I'll put you beside him. There. Chull”

“she bundled them all out, the farrashes, bichawnadars and harry maids.”

Besides these, there are also several completely illegible statements such as
“ ‘Malum hab cuttee he head?’ he said.’What for wanchee this-piece boy? He blongi boat –bugger-no can learn ship pijjin. Better he wailo chop chop’. ”

I wish Amitav Ghosh who otherwise spins beautiful tales, sticks to simple story telling without resorting to using garbled languages. I hope in the second and third parts of the trilogy that he plans to write, are easier on the mind.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Heaven on Earth--Switzerland

Azure skies, Grey mountains, Snow capped peaks, flowers in all colors, Yellow flowers and lush green fields, snow, jersey cows; clear lakes, panoramic views, waterfalls, rivers flowing by; hiking trails, biking trails, skiing trails, cable cars, funiculars; French, Italian and German…well, ladies and gentlemen, that is Switzerland for you.

Sandeep and I went to Switzerland for our honeymoon and trust me, its one of the awesommest destinations possible in April. We booked our entire itinerary on the flexible Swiss Tours that gave us the option of being on our own, but doing our bookings for tickets and the hotels.

Now on to the journey…

We landed at the Zurich airport early morning, bleary eyed after the long flight. Thanx to Sandeep’s claim that it would be warm at that time of the year, we smartasses had carried the lightest of any warm clothing that we had or had borrowed. All around us were people draped in thick jackets, woolen scarves, gloves, high shoes...and brrrrr…it certainly was cold out there!


We proceeded to ‘Lugano’ from Zurich by train. Lugano was in the Italian part of Switzerland. I was surprised to know that such diversity existed in a country as small as Switz that had French, German and Italian influences in different parts. We were awestruck with the crowd at Lugano. Everyone seemed to be so uhhh….posh! I guess, almost everyone we saw was sporting Guccis or D&Gs or Guess’s or Versachis. We poor souls in run down jeans and T-shirts were quite out of place in that fashionable city! After reaching Lugano in the evening, we found time to relax and we sat by the lake, (most cities have a lake!) went to a garden, strolled in the elite market area that had showrooms of all the most expensive designer brands in the world.

Btw, all the road, rail, boat travel was all covered under one wonder pass called ‘Swiss Pass’ which allowed us to hop in and hop out of any train or bus or boat as and when we desired all over Switzerland. Infact we covered all the modes of transport available…trains, buses, funiculars, boats and cable cars.

Day 2 of the tour was at Melide where we saw the natural and artificial wonders of switz scaled down to fit into a mini Switz. In this country too, trains ran on clockwork time (it must ve been clock work!), snow and waterfalls caressed the famous peaks, cars were stuck in traffic jams, castles loomed large above other structures, the spires of churches stood dignified over the monuments. We decided which places to see in their original sizes and structures and which ones to skip based on what we liked in this miniature country. We also spent a bomb and went to a peak called San Salvador by a ‘funicular’ which was mini cog train for just around half an hr.

The Glacier Express

The next morning, our spirits high again, we headed to our next destination, Zermatt. The journey to Zermatt entailed us to travel in the much hyped Glacier express, a ‘panoramic’ train. This was a restaurant train which had gargantuan windows and windows in the ceiling. It was to offer us breathtaking views in the comfort of the train. And guess what…on the train, Sandeep and I both got seats far apart!..and no room for change. There were large groups of Chinese and European tourists creating a ruckus while we sat apart for sometime and in the uncomfortable pantry for some more time. The TC finally did allot us seats together, but the journey had lost its charm L . So, folks..if u do travel by this train, make sure you have pre bookings in seats together! It isn’t India, where exchanging seats is much simpler. On the way, to catching the Glacier express, we also visited Andermatt, which was a charming little village. We visited a quaint little church there, which we perhaps liked more than the mammoth churches we visited later.


As we stepped out at Zermatt,a no-vehicle skiing village, the biting cold breeze enveloped us as we shivered. The first thing we did on stepping out after checking in the hotel was to buy more warm clothes! How I missed the thick green jacket I had kept smugly not wanting to carry it! I finally ended up wearing, 3 T-shirts, 2 pairs of socks and 2 jackets! So, people, DO NOT think it ll be warm if you visit Switz in April!, carry all the warm clothing you can or you ll end up spending exorbitant sums of money on designer jackets (you don’t get normal ones!). which you ll never wear at Mumbai where it never is cold!!

The next morning, we did some hiking and trekking at Zermatt instead of taking the funiculars and the cable cars to the mountain top which we was later in our itinerary anyway. We also visited another Swiss village Tasch near Zermatt.

It was weird, the markets closed at 6:00 and the roads emptied by 7:00 even though it was daylight till 9:00 p.m! I hadn’t heard of this retail chain, ‘Coop’ which was present all over Switzerland.

Montreux, Gruyere, Lausanne, Geneva

We woke up to a bright new day with the sun peeping out at Zermatt. We took the train to our next destination Montreux, where Nestle headquarters are nestled. This region was close to France, and had a distinct French flavor to it. We had aimed to cover Montreux, Lausanne and Geneva in these 2 days, but alas!, the rain played truant when we reached Montreux.. We went to Chillon Castle at Montreux where we had a free entry thanx to our Swiss pass. Castles and Forts are quite honestly boring places, with nothing of the past splendor left inside them. Imposing on the outside, they are best left for clicking pics and moving on! Chillon Castle however, for enthusiasts, was quite well maintained, and was gloomy on the inside with tall dark walls and made us feel as if we had stepped in an era of the past.

The rain battered on incessantly, and we had miles to go in that region. We then decided, to travel in the comfort of the train to the cheese town of Gruyere which is famous for its world famous cheese. We were fortunate to get a Golden Pass train, which was another panoramic train, and well, the panoramas this train offered, were indeed breathtaking. The train wound its way through the lush green valleys, amidst the clouds as the Alps loomed large in the background. I fall short of words, as I try to describe the delights we feasted our eyes from that train. Honestly, all these natural wonders make me lower my head in awe and reverence to Him who has gifted mankind with such beauty.
Coming back to Gruyere, all we did was go to the nearest restaurant, and have authentic Swiss Cheese Fondue, which is basically a concoction of cheese and more cheese! This was heated continuously over coals, and eaten with bread or potatoes dipped into it with long forks. Having eaten so much bread and cheese, all through the stay, we were quite tired of it, so the much looked forward to Fondue, fell short of our expectations.

We also went to the promenade that was lined with colorful flowers all along it and had a leisurely stroll. Like I said before, all the cities we visited had a lake and a promenade! We then spiced up our stay by visiting the Montreux Casino, right in front of our hotel. It looked like one of the casinos I ve seen only in the movies…well, one more first for me!

The next day in the region was an exciting one. Clear skies and a bright day welcomed us to Geneva, the world peace capital and the headquarters of United Nations. We saw the famed UN head office, the imposing Geneva Cathedral and the ancillary ruins attached to it. We quite liked the pulse of this city which was a busy buzzing place and well, not everyone was in designer clothes! There was a lot to see and feel at Geneva. An interesting 3 legged chair with the fourth broken (I ve no idea about the history and significance of this) A statue of Gandhiji near the UN office, the architecture of the past, European culture etc.

We then proceeded to Lausanne to see the magnificent Lausanne Cathedral, one that we had seen at the Swiss Miniature. We huffed and puffed our way through several 100 (I think) steps after walking up the steep alleys. The church was gargantuan to be captured in one snap and quite an impressive structure. Trudging back to the Lausanne was an uphill task though it was downhill all the way (I know it’s a sad PJ J )


The most looked forward to destination Interlaken, the backdrop of all the Yash Chopra movies was finally on our itinerary the next day. The day we looked forward to sing ‘Tu mere Saamne’ from Darr etc etc. ..was a complete washout thanx to the conspiring Rain Gods. We lounged around mournfully in the rain at Interlaken wondering if our pre-booked tickets to Schilton the next day where a gale was raging then would be a waste. However, fortunately for us, the skies cleared, the sun smiled upon us the next day. Our spirits lifted, we went to Schilton more than 2500 meters high. As we ascended the cable car the panorama changed from green to sheet of white. Everywhere we looked was pristine whiteness. After we had our fill of snaps and posing like we were on the top of the world, (O.K. atleast were at the top of a mountain which was far above several others), we went to the restaurant at the top. This was no ordinary restaurant, but one that revolved giving us a 360o view of Schiltorn and all the adjoining mountains. That was a one of a kind experience I would say.

On the way back, we hiked through the greenery of Switzerland till the Trummelbach falls. That was another memorable walk. It so reminded us of the hindi films back home, the yellow flowers in the green fields, the slanting roof houses that were straight out of fairy tales, scenic mountains all around, waterfalls, a river flowing all the way……it was the best ever!!


We bid adios to Interlaken he next morning and proceeded to Lucerne. I guess we spent the longest time at the lake of Lucerne amongst all the previous lakes that we saw. We had a sunny lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants that dotted the entire edge of the lake, watched the ducks as they glided by on the lake, took snaps at the Chapel Bridge, visited the Lion Monument (another ‘just for snaps’ point), shopped for chocolates and souvenirs, and basically just chilled out.

Infact everywhere we went to at Lucerne was walking. You see, everything at these so called cities is so near. I guess an Andheri of Mumbai would be larger than the Lucerne of Switzerland!!

The next day we had an excursion to Mount Pilatus which was again a new experience despite our qualms of it being similar to the mountains we had previously visited. You see, Mount Pilatus offered varied views in four different directions. It was fantastic to see ice capped mountain peaks on one side, lush green fields on another, an azure lake on yet another side and tiny dwellings of civilization on yet another side.


Our trip was in the last lap, and we finally ended where we started out from. We visited the powerful Rhine falls where we saw the largest influx of tourists at Switzerland. We finally shed our winter clothing at the Rhine falls, and felt the mist of the waterfall as it thundered on.

Our minds and souls satiated with all the visual delights that He created and Man conquered, with fond memories of the trip we stepped on to the Mumbai plane to get back to the grind of work and the hustle-bustle of mundane routine.

A few pointers for those who wanna visit Switzerland
Carry loads of warm clothing
Book your tickets well in advance
Buy enough forex at an opportune moment
If you want an Indian meal everyday, check out ready to eat meals by MTR, Kitchens of India
It ll cost you roughly 25 swiss francs for a decent meal for 2 people.
Check out economy options of Swiss pass for travel
Try youth hostels for economical accommodation
Plan your itinerary to end by evening at 6:00 p.m since most places shut shop by then
Visit the tourist office each time you get to a new destination and pick up pamphlets, maps and bus and train timetables.
Keep emergency phone numbers handy

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The flip side of being an MBA

"Daag acche hain". I was busy marvelling at the Surf Campaign and admiring the use of Kids in the ad and the apt tag line while watching TV with Mum. She as usual started changing the channel to some other serial with the start of the commercial break when i asked her to watch the ads. "I wish you watched TV more normally", she sighed when i started analysing the ads i was watching apart from commenting at the product placement in 'Krrisshh' . I sometimes wonder, if life was more normal without me having stepped into the world of marketing and MBA.

When I enter a Kirana store I start looking at the displays, the product packaging, analyse the how well the owner services customers, question them about margins etc etc and start comparing them with the Organised retail superstores down the street. When I visit the Reliance Fresh outlet, I check out the POP displays, the placement of the impulse purchases, the layout, the discounts, the promotions, the variety, assortment of everything that I certainly dont need and compare them all with the same in other chains such as Subhiksha, More, Trumart (now changed to Indiabulls mart), etc. I wish I could go to a shop and randomly do my window shopping like I used to without these assailing my mind.

We have a subject called 'Audio visual production'. Thanx to this, everything that is captured on camera is unconciously analysed for 'Composition', 'Camera angles' blah blah.. Damn, life sure was normal earlier.

But on the other hand, sometimes being more informed, does help. You cannot get fooled by the PR articles published in newspapers under the guise of 'news', you cannot be duped into believing that margins of several items are as low as the vendors claim them to be thus raising your bargaining power, more research is carried out while buying so many things, that I probably at one time would ve been swayed into buying just by jazzy commercials...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Friends forever

It is amazing to meet up with old friends" ...and sometimes not so amazing. You wonder where the old magic has disappeared. Just a few years back, you couldn’t have done without them. Now that you meet after so many years, you cannot figure out what to do with them. I 'm talking about friends who had been there for you for long, who you spent hours on end chatting ceaselessly, who you could sit with in silence without feeling it, who you could call up at any unearthly hour, who you told the silliest of things to...until one fine just had to part.

The initial few months after college when everyone bids fond farewells with promises of being in touch forever, are full of phone calls, chats, emails at least once every alternate day. That reduces to once a week a couple of months later when the rising phone bills become the excuse. After that you start stuttering..'Aur sunao', 'Aur batao' ..Well when that happens, it is downhill all along. You just run out of conversation and hence run out of further motivation to continue to keep it going. It is, of course, you tell yourself because of being too busy with the new assignment, having no time, the phone calls being too expensive, the new boss being too demanding, the new girlfriend/boyfriend, its just too tiring to travel to meet up, you have appointments with clients for the next 2 years everyday...and then one fine day...boing... you suddenly bump into that friend and you are tongue tied. You just dunno where to start and what to say! Its fine to claim you are still 'there', but you no longer can call them up at 2 o clock with your silly fears. The only way I reckon, this can be avoided, is COMMUNICATION..of even the things you think are too silly to discuss now.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, for sometime but gradually out of sight becomes out of mind. For all my friends out there, who feel betrayed or unhappy about 'losing' their friends to distance and time, Let Go. Life moves on. Everyone has to move on. Priorities change, people change, situations change, time does not stand still after all. But yes, one thing that cannot change is the past and all the memories that come with it. Life is indeed like a train in which new people board while some alight. It would certainly be wonderful to be together forever, but is it not wonderful to be able to at least carry the fond memories forward whilst experiencing life with new people?