Friday, March 30, 2007

Thought of the day - 30th March 2007

It's not the time that is limiting your effectiveness, it is your
choices.
-Unknown

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Money Matters

I watch TV with the lazy attitude that it needs. It's the idiot box and
I watch it idiotically. I just set it to one channel and let the re-runs
of the re-runs of my favorite TV shows play out while I give 80% of my
attention to my laptop. When that channel starts playing something I
don't like I switch to my other steady channel. And when none of them
are running my favorite show I choose the one I dislike less. That is
why I watch or rather let it play, "Sex and the City" instead of "Ghost
Whisperer".

This particular episode had one of the stories of this lady (one of the
main 4) dating a guy who's a bartender. She is successful, makes much
more than he does and they go out only to places that he can afford. One
time she invites him to a dinner at her firm and tries to buy him a nice
suit for it. A suit that he cannot afford to buy himself. From all I
could see she was very considerate of his feelings throughout. But when
the money changes hands, that can't be done invisibly, can it? She would
have to pay from her card no matter how smooth and how considerate she
wants to be about the whole thing. But he doesn't let her pay and tries
to pay himself and does.

Finally, the guy comes to her door on the night of the dinner and tells
her he returned the suit as he could not afford it, and breaks off with
her because of the difference in their status.

Now, I am a guy and I can readily understand his feelings.

My all time favorite Indian TV show was "Phir Wohi Talaash" which was a
romance/drama show. The hero, a nice, intelligent guy, who comes from a
village background and has no money, the heroine, his college mate, is
from an affluent family in the city. They meet, get attracted, become
friendly, then romantic. He tells her in a coffee shop, "Hum yahaan
tabhi aayenge jab main tumhen coffee pila sakta hounga!" (We'll come
here only when I can treat you to coffee!) She smiles sweetly and
accepts his condition. I liked that guy. He didn't want to compromise
his integrity and be indebted to the rich girl.

I myself maintain that girls should not open their purse when they are
with a guy. Yes, I can be quite primitive in some matters. What's more,
I like this primitive thing, it is the man's job to protect, care and
provide for this girl. But still, I do enjoy it when my girl buys me
something nice, from her own money.

But as I watch this pretty girl with tears in her eyes asking, "So I am
being punished for being successful?", doubts run through my mind. In
the evolving times, things have to change. I would still not let the
girl pay for a meal in a restaurant, (unless she's giving her birthday
treat), but will I have to break up with a girl I like just because she
makes more money than I do, or much more money than I do? Frankly, I
don't know. But if I did, it'd be stupid of me, I can tell you that.

I don't know if there's a formula for this, the superintelligent
psychologists and psychiatrists would surely have one but I don't know
it, but I would like to say that it does need re-thinking. If in order
to be happy you have to date girls who are unambitious, idiotic losers
than I think that's what you really deserve.

However, this thing is not all one-sided. The women also once they start
earning, get a big superiority complex that makes them insufferable.
That I would find a good enough reason to dump a girl!

The one major point where I find myself radically different from the guy
on the show, he was content to be just a bartender for the rest of his
life. That's not me. I like to shoot for the stars and don't care how
many people call me stupid for that. *grins*

As you know this is not the psycho-analysis blog, it's just my personal
radio station, to air any random thoughts that come into my mind...don't
be afraid to share your own point of view on this.

Thought of the day - 29 March 2007

I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends
more on the way we meet the events of life
than on the nature of those events themselves.

- Alexander Humboldt

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thought of the day - 28th March 2007

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds
left undone.

- Harriet Beecher Stowe

Now this one is profound.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Knock! Knock!

On the light side today, two scenes from different TV shows on how to
handle tele-marketing calls.

TV Show - "Less Than Perfect"
Character - Kip Staedman

[Kip picks up the phone]: "Hello? Am I satisfied with my current phone
service provider? As a matter of fact, I am not. Sometimes I am in the
middle of a conversation and it gets disconnected." [Hangs up loudly]
"And I hate it when that happens!"

TV Show - "Seinfeld"
Character - Jerry Seinfeld

[Jerry is in the middle of a conversation with his friends when the
phone rings. He picks up.] "Hello? If I am satisfied with my
long-distance carrier? Well, I can't talk right now but if you give me
your home number, I will call you back. [listens] Oh, you are not
allowed to give out your number? Yeah, you probably don't want people
calling you when you are at home....well, now you know how I feel.
[Hangs up.]

Thought of the day - 27th March 2007

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most
intelligent,

but the one most responsive to change.

- Charles Darwin

One of my all time favorites.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The little things

My brother Anil, being a few years older than me and more experienced,
is also kind of a philosopher like me and in his lifetime he has come up
with some gems. One of them is - "Nobody notices the little things."

It sounds stupid, right? Well, it isn't. It seems overly simple and
almost untrue until you stop to think about it. There are little things,
very very little things in life, and millions and billions of them, that
we don't really notice and don't use to our advantage. I know you won't
believe me without examples.

There was a mystery novel in which some characters are able to escape
because of the simple, real life fact that, "Once you see a uniform
nobody really notices the face". This is especially true of the
so-called "little people", most times you don't even look at the face of
a waiter, chambermaid, taxi driver, doorman etc. etc.

In a Surendra Mohan Pathak novel, the hero plans a murder and his scheme
hinges on the habit that people always look at their own wrist watch
when they hear a clock chiming the hour. Such a small thing, but
everybody does it without even thinking.

Let's leave the novels apart and talk about real life. I am going to
quote from my experience and maybe you can say if you find that to be
true or not in your case.

When I go for a job interview or an important formal meeting, I find
that it increases my confidence if I have freshly shaved as opposed to
having a stubble.

The same thing applies to clothes, clean, well-ironed, proper clothes
give you an edge in dealing with any kind of situation.

When a boss says something in a slow speed, using careful words like
"Will it be possible for you...", it doesn't bring out the defiant
animal in me.

When a person is smiling, despite his words, I am less likely to take
offence, even if he's pointing out a flaw in my character.

In our interactions with other people also there are numerous little
things that matter and may add up to big things.
- Wishing "Good Morning" to a person from whom you see every day but
from whom you don't need anything.
- Asking a favor in a tone that shows your understanding of the fact
that the other person doesn't have to do it for you.
- Noticing that the person you are talking to has received a phone call
and shutting up to let them answer it.
- Turning on your smile as you walk up to another person, maybe to ask
for a favor, or to discuss official matters.

Two examples from the movie "Pursuit of Happyness" which I watched
recently in India and liked very much.
1. Will Smith, working as an intern in a stock broker firm, and fighting
his own battles in personal life is always pressed for time. As part of
his job at the firm, he has to make a lot of phone calls. And since he
can spend less time than others on the job he does things like,
-"I realized that if I didn't put down the phone in between calls, I
could save 8 minutes in a day. So, I stopped putting the receiver down.
Also, I stopped drinking water on the job so I would not spend as much
time in the bathroom."
Details, right? I don't know if 8 minutes a day made any contribution to
his ultimate success, but his attitude of saving 8 minutes a day
definitely did!

2. Another point that is very noticeable, at least to me, is that Will
Smith is poor, he has no fancy degrees, he has no experience, he has no
time, he has problems by the dozen, yet he never complains, he never
loses hope, he never stops trying. And anytime he speaks to a character,
he is courteous, polite, well in control of his emotions and his words
are always well-chosen to show gratitude, appreciation and a positive
attitude. Those things matter!

The whole point I am trying to make is that in life you need to be
mindful of little things that matter!

Thought of the day - 26th March 2007

There is nothing like dream to create the future. Utopia to-day, flesh
and blood tomorrow.

- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, 1862

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thought of the day - 23rd March 2007

"It is easy to speak - harder to act; but hardest of all to be.
It is what we *are* that counts."

- T. Howard Somervell

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tarl of no city

In the fictional planet of Gor, created by John Norman in his books, a
person is known not only by their name but also the name of their city,
like "Tarl Cabot of Ko-ro-ba". Gor has a primitive culture, despite a
few very useful technological advances. Compared to them our modern
world is very advanced and evolved.

But is it really? Don't we still go for all kinds of data we can
associate with - city, country, race, color, langauge, religion, caste,
we seem to have so many criteria to decide whom we want to talk to,
befriend or fight for. Divide and subdivide? Why?

Now, I have a funny last name - Goswami. It's funny because in India
Goswami's reside in a variety of locations, sometimes the last name is
varied a little but still quite recognizable. For example, in
Maharashtra (Pune), everyone kept saying Gosavi and I had to spell it
for them a lot.

On top of that I seem to have a face that fits everywhere, no, that's
not just face, but personality. Because I speak a lot more words of Urdu
than a typical Hindu, I get asked a lot if I am Muslim. Because I speak
better English than a typical North Indian I get asked a lot if I am
South Indian. Bengal, Assam, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Bihar, I have
been asked about all those and some more states if I belong to that.
Sometimes this attempt to classify me irritates me at other times just
amuses me. Depending on my mood, I say yes or no, with no care to the
accuracy of the information.

If someone asks me if I am a Hindu or if I am a "pundit" I am always
careful to add "by birth" to my affirmative reply. My own effort to
identify myself is inherent in the phrase "Ramte jogi, behta paani...".
I want to be free as the flowing water that makes its own unobtrusive
way, without caring much for the obstructions in its path.

When you meet someone from your own country in a foreign land, you feel
very nice, but does it apply to everybody? I met a person in US who was
Indian and who bothered me (and some others) a lot, for a
multi-level-marketing thing. I finally had to start screening my calls
in order to avoid him. I can mention a lot of people who would be from
my country, city, race, caste, color, religion and language and yet, I
would go to considerable lengths to avoid their company. Conversely, I
can also mention some peole who have none of these in common with me and
yet, if I could, I would love to keep them by my side.

Thinking about it, I would rather be a person that anyone would want to
talk to, hang out with, come to help for, rather than a person who looks
for his own flock anywhere he goes.

Kya bed-baas poochho ho poorab ke dosto,
hamko gareeb jaan ke has has pukar ke,

Dilli jo ek shehar tha, aalam mein int_khaab,
Ham rehne waale haiN usi ujade dayaar ke.

A city gives you your identity, but make you sure are not confined to
that. The fragrance has to leave the flower in order to please
others...be the fragrance not the thorn.

Thought of the day - 22nd March 2007

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of
throwing it at someone else;
you are the one who gets burned.
-Buddha

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thought of the day - 21st March 2007

A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?
-Robert Browning


This is the motto that I live by. :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

Home? Where is home?

Home? Where is home?

"Musafir hoon yaaro, na ghar hai na thikana,
Mujhe chal-te jaana hai, bas chalte jaana."

These were the lines I used in a phone conversation with my brother as I
was killing time on the Bombay airport waiting for my flight time which
was 2 AM.

Unlike the poet of that song, I have homes, more than one and I am not
ashamed to admit that I am bewildered as I try to understand my feelings
about it all and try to define the concept of 'home' for myself.

This was the first time I lived in a foreign land for so long at a
stretch AND then went home for a vacation. I mean, 3 times I have been
to US with the longest stretch being 10 Months but I had no household
there that I left behind. It was always a new place that I had to find
even though I went to the same city and same office. Germany was the
same. But this time I lived in the UK for 6 months, left my house as it
was, and went home to India.
Even as I was leaving I was thinking about coming back and how I would
really like to come back 'home'. But at the same time, at that very
instant, I was also very glad that I was going 'home' and I was looking
forward to a lot of things.

I had a lot of fun, every day, every moment that I was home I enjoyed it
immensely! I did do and have everything that I wanted to, and it was
just as good as I had imagined, if not better.
And still, I was missing my life here, my home here and not just the
broadband connection, which I did get in Delhi.

When I came back to UK, I was looking forward to unlocking the door of
my rented house and taking charge again. But the moment I entered my
living room I loved the feeling of being 'home' and at the same time
felt lonelier than I have ever felt before in all my life! It felt like
I had left India far behind, with my family and friends all so remote
and unapproachable. I hadn't felt this alone even when I came here the
first time to a strange country!

Go figure!

Thought of the day - 19th March 2003

Today's thought -

When there is no peril in the fight there is no glory in the triumph.

- Pierre Corneille

Yes, I am back! :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Love is Pain?

Kaheen agar maiN jaan_ti, preet kiye dukh hoye,
Nagar dhin_dhora peet_ti ki preet na kariyo koye.

[If I knew that sorrow entails love,
I would have announced that nobody should love!]

Love ends in sorrow a lot of times and even if it doesn't end in
sorrow and pain, the path of love is riddled with rough patches.
Still people fall in love happily.

Why?
Is it worth it?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Blue Billion

Today I was reminded of another difference between western countries and India.

When I am in the UK and I hold the door open for someone coming up behind me, I hear a "Thank you" as a matter of routine.

When I am in India, I still follow the same practice of holding the door open for the person behind me or to let the person on the other side of the glass door enter first. I know very well, that I will not hear any kind of thanks here, but subconsiously maybe, I half-expect it. Of course, it has never happened so far.

Doesn't matter if the place is frequented by men, women, businessman, rich people, software engineers, doctors, students or any other educated breed, expect the same behavior.

Now we are over 1 Billion in population. And somehow, despite everything, we seem to be quite proud of the fact.

But today it made me think.

Are we a nation of One Billion mannerless, inconsiderate, horn-honking, cricket-crazy, work-shirking idiots?

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