King Khan in LAX

Los Angeles Times Crossword ( LAX) that’s reproduced in Times of India, albeit with some lag, is something that I look forward to every morning. While most of the days, I am able to solve the grid largely ( 80-90%), I generally get stuck up in the quiz part of the crossword. Clues relating to famous personalities ( actors, directors, judges, parliamentarians etc having American context) are my bane as in the absence of regular follow up of US media, solving these clues is quite impossible.

We do have clues relating to Indian subcontinent that are mostly connected with our gods, yoga, dress or languages, but seldom have I seen an India related personality appearing as a clue apart from an occasional Nehru and Gandhi.

Therefore, I was delightfully surprised when today’s grid had a clue relating to an Indian icon, the answer bring Shahrukh Khan. King Khan, one of the most beloved Bollywood stars, who’s been conquering one frontier after another and who has reached the zenith of another frontier, where very few Indians and no Bollywood actor has reached – LAX crossword.

Congratulations King Khan! While you continue to delight millions of fans with your movies, today you have gladdened the hearts of if not millions, at least thousands of crossword lovers like me!

I love my India

On the whole, an average Indian is peace loving, progressive, tolerant, hopeful and generally trying to seek happiness. If I may, in brief, sum up the current concerns of Indians, these would be:

(1) Inflation is taking its toll on the budgets of middle class households.

(2) Repeated recurrence of Covid worries them no end.

(3) Further likely damage due to seemingly endless Russia-Ukraine war gives them jitters.

(4) Onset of monsoon brings hope but the adverse impact that a deficient monsoon can cause to Indian economy causes shivers.

(5) Resurgence of terrorism in Kashmir and the first signs of reemergence of Khalistan movement in Punjab sadden them.

(6) Increase in incidents of rape, molestation, rioting, accidents causes them deep angst.

(7) And them there are of course, perpetual concerns around AQI of the air we breathe, global warming, population explosion, likely shortage of water and electricity, congestion on the roads, jobs etc.

However, if you open newspapers or watch news channels, the content is not aligned to the general concerns of an average Indian but is replete with issues around religion and acerbic and polarised views of those participating in loud and ungracious debates, as if this is the only agenda for the nation. We have lived in harmony for centuries and should continue with the same spirit for all times to come to take our great country to a level, at which the dreams of all Indians get fulfilled!

Jai Hind !

My professional journey

Commensurate with the length of my professional journey, there’s a long story to be told that probably merits a complete book, which is also suggested by many of my friends and colleagues. However, for the benefits of millennials and youngsters who have just started their careers or have a long way to the finish line, I share some of my first hand experiences.

(1) I took my job very seriously. Important event dates such as monthly, quarterly or annual closings, commencement of any audit or RBI inspection or any other such occurrence were given the attention these deserved. I don’t remember having missed any of these important dates during my career of 4 decades by taking leaves in that period! Modern day management terms such as work life balance, family time, pursuance of other interests et al were imbibed at a much later stage of my career.

(2) Old world values such as giving respect to seniors, remaining attentive in a meeting and always adhering to punctuality were thoroughly ingrained in me since my childhood and I faithfully observed them till the last day in the office.

(3) I was always uncomfortable in executing a transaction or approving an office note without understanding the underlying logic and objective. In other words, understanding the rationale behind and the ultimate impact of any action were always bestowed lots of importance by me.

(4) I loved interactions and would send frequent mails and messages to my team members to keep their morale high. Our festivals such as Diwali, Eid or Christmas were the occasions for me to share happiness with the team. All the management expectations were shared with the team members for complete alignment.

(5) I always portrayed a human face to my team mates – I was with them in their moments of happiness and grief. I’d frequently exchange notes with them on their progress and family issues. As I always used to maintain and tell my team, “ All of you must look forward to coming to office the next day happily and not as a burden or an avoidable routine. This was possible only if we made our department a happy department.” In fact, later on my department adopted the motto  , “ Happiest team” as it’s tagline.

(6) While higher productivity, better outcomes, zero error etc were the prerequisites for a better performance, I was generous in complimenting achievements but frugal in reprimanding the errants, especially those who made errors unintentionally. Reprimand, whenever, was doled out privately and with minimalistic use of adjectives.

(7) I never kept a rigid mindset and was adaptive to anything that didn’t require compromise on my basis tenets. Whether it was automation, robotics, marketing tools, team building, up skilling – I demonstrated agility that helped me adapt to the changed circumstances. This probably was responsible for my longevity. 

(8) I believed in perseverance. There were as many low moments as high in my long journey. On a few occasions, I felt like a complete wreck, wanting to giving it all up for peace, but I persisted and this helped me overcome such angst filled moments. Success and failure are two sides of the same coin and law of probability tells us that coin, when tossed would inevitably fall on either of the sides and therefore, success and failure walk hand in hand. 

(9) A sense of belongingness helped me in staying on in an organisation for long tenures. I hardly changed organisations, though whether sticking on to a work place or continuously evolving by working in different places can be vigorously discussed and ultimately merits and demerits be found in both the strategies. 

To conclude, my journey was all about old world values bereft of modern day jargons, though to succeed in today’s times, I will strongly advise the youngsters not to overlook either of these. My best wishes for a bright career to each one of you!

Sunday the big day

For almost 6 decades, almost because this feeling took the root once I started going to school at the age of 5, Sunday has been the most important day to look forward to. It’s a day of rest, recuperation, fun and enjoyment. You get up late as there’s no office or school. All the meals are not only relaxed but also special. And this is the day to enjoy siesta, the afternoon post lunch nap that’s more refreshing. In fact, it’s the most important day as it prepares you to face the struggles of the new week ahead.

As I wake up this Sunday, the first one after my retirement, a thought comes to my mind forcing me to wonder now that each day of the week is like Sunday, whether Sunday’s importance is going to vanish or pale? Apart from several other routines, whether this decades old or should I say lifelong excitement to look forward to a Sunday and actually enjoying it going to subside?

Based on this, I have tried to compose a few rhyming lines in verse that read as below:

When there’s no school, no office,

And fun every moment, every day;

It makes me think and wonder,

Has the special status vanished for Sunday?

When a strict teacher was to be avoided,

And a not too amiable boss evaded;

The weekends seemed to be very special,

And Sunday was eagerly awaited!

Tension filled week after week,

That entailed daily rigmarole and grind;

Sunday brought in a whiff of fresh air

Giving an opportunity to relax and unwind.

And Sunday was not only about break and rest

But family time and good food as well;

Even newspapers and TV on Sunday,

Were very interesting and very special.

Am I going to lose the charm of this great day

Now that everyday is going to be a Sunday;

Don’t quite think so for my body and system are wired,

The very way to welcome and celebrate this special day!

KK

it was the time when Sonu Nigam was at his peak and he was making some wonderful music with Anu Malik (Mujhe Kucch Kahna Hai, Main Hoon Na), Shankar Ehsaan Loy ( Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham) and Vishal Shekhar (Om Shanti Om), when new voice was heard while singing the title track of Mujhe Kucch Kahna Hai. The voice was crystal clear, sharp and extremely mellifluous while singing high pitched notes. It was then that I came across KK and took him seriously as a singer of great eminence.

Currently, post his untimely death in Kolkata after a highly successful concert, all his popular numbers are doing rounds on social media and it would be futile for me to list out these popular songs here in this blog, but what must be mentioned here is that this self trained Delhi boy, who started by singing jingles, scaled great heights through sheer hard work. If the aforesaid title song of Mujhe Kucch Kahna Hai and Tadap Tapap from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam are love anthems of jilted lovers, aankhon meri teri from Om Shanti Om is favourite with the lover boys wooing their lady love! And the list is endless.

While there can be a post-mortem of the reasons leading to his death, including the mismanagement by the organisers of Kolkata concert, the fact remains that fatal side effects of an ignored health condition once again come to the fore. Even if the crowd was three times the capacity of the venue, air conditioning inadequate and heat excruciating, these are insufficient reasons causing death of a healthy individual, leave apart an artist, who, if anything, rejoices such tumultuous response!

53 was no time for this great talent to be taken away from us. And mind you, while all three greats – Mukesh, Rafi and Kishore died in their 50s- those were the days when awareness about health and the need for regular testing was rather inadequate. But today’s generation is much more conscious about the importance of managing both – health and finances and under the circumstances, the death of KK is most unfortunate, most untimely – a great loss to the family

A similar angst and sorrow had engulfed me when the original KK, Kishore Kumar, a favourite of my generation had left this world. This KK might not have attained similar height and glory, but had definitely his own unique style of singing that had endeared him to millions, including me, who’s is slightly cut off from the modern day Bollywood music.

Rest in peace KK. Your music will be remembered and your tragic death will now push millions others to precautionary health check up.

Sweet 60

Sixty is an important milestone, especially in our country, as this sets the benchmark for the person to be labelled as “old”. A major resin for this is our system of employment that retires or superannuates a person on attainment of 60 years of age, if you are retired from your employment, you are old!

However, to me sweet 60 is sweeter than sweet 16. In fact, I hardly have any pleasant or lasting memories of sweet 16. The only thing I recall is that I was waiting for board results of class X with bated breath, hoping for good scores so as to be eligible to choose science in the same school in which I had studied till then. There was no romance, no dating, no Valentine day, no fashion statement, but just a simple middle class life.

On the contrary, today at 60 I find myself to be on the verge of an exciting next innings. I have fulfilled most of my familial responsibilities, repaid all my loans and physically I feel reasonably fit to be looking forward to doing things that I always aspired but couldn’t pursue due to career related obligations, in fact, there’s a strange feeling of freedom – from responsibilities, obligations, debts, formalities and most of all fears.

Of course, as this birthday coincides with my superannuation from service too, it’s been made very special by my friends, colleagues and nears and dears. My mail box. WhatsApp, SMS, FB notifications et al are all getting flooded with good wishes and I’m feeling so overwhelmed that I am finding it difficult glean, garner or assimilate this spurt of affection!

Indeed this milestone birthday is very special and very sweet and it gives hope to everyone that ageing is not as serious or risky as the world makes out it to be! I am enjoying all the adoration.

Transformation

I am delighted to inform that a friend and an ardent follower of my blogs has painstakingly compiled my first 100 blogs and published the same as a hardback book. This transforms me from being an amateur blogger into a published author, even if it’s only one copy published that too available with the author. The book has been gifted to me to felicitate me on my superannuation as I retire from my current employment in 31st of May after completing 60 years.

No other gift would have gladdened my heart as much as this conversion of my digital blogs into a hardback. The presenter has requested anonymity so I am just gratefully accepting this and sharing it with my readers and friends.

Democratic temperament

One of the recurrent themes of my blogs on current affairs going on around us is the need for logical, cogent and facts based discussion, preferably on the floor of parliament rather than rancour against and venom spitting on each other on channels and social media. And this is my complaint against the respected periodicals also as to their inability to rationally argue for or against, as per the merits of the case, any issue that’s of public interest. That’s how a matured democracy matures further and strengthens. Instead, politicians and political commentators of all hues and colours shout at the top of their lungs, throwing innocent and naive public into the throes of deep confusion.

As my readers are well aware that I regularly follow Urdu press, more so Pakistani press, and sometimes one does come across certain stuff that touches a chord of your heart, as it mirrors the reality in our homeland too. Read a couplet by redoubtable Anwar Shaoor ( he writes a couplet daily in Jang like Laxman used to publish a cartoon daily in TOI) in today’s paper that reads:

हो दलीलें अगर किसी के पास

क्या ज़रूरत कुछ और करने की

वह सियासत ही क्या जो हो मोहताज

धौंस, धमकी, दबाव, धरने की!

The above can be translated as:

If issues are debated with logic and reasoning

Where is the question of other things ?

Politics will not then not be a slave to

Protests, pressures, threats and sit ins !

Happy birthday Mahatria

I got everything I desired,

A loving wife, an obedient child and a job I liked;

Yet there was something amiss,

An inexplicable strange emptiness in life.

I ran from pillar to post,

To find an answer to this strange bug;

I went to god men for a miracle,

But it was all humbug.

I meditated and prayed to God,

I chanted slokas in search of peace;

It gave only momentary relief,

But I continued to feel ill at ease.

Then a friend shared his experience,

Who had been through similar travail;

Till he met a Guru, a spiritual guide

Who put him on the right trail.

That’s how and when I got exposed to Mahatria,

And started following his thoughts and teaching

All very simple and straight

Yet with an effect that’s far reaching.

If his teachings and messages have such profundity even from such distance,

Such is his persona, such is his dignity

I envy those who meet him and have his Sakshatkar,

They are indeed blessed to an infinity!

His birthday is like Guru Purnima,

For his disciples and admirers alike;

Happy birthday the Great Mahatria,

Please continue to spread peace and light!

First day

It was 4th of December 1994 that I left my Jaipur home, my wife and very young daughter to catch train to Mumbai to embark on a new journey. The journey was to report to UTI Bank’s Central Office at Cuffe Parade, Mumbai the next day that’s on 5th December.

The train was a very prized possession for Jaipuwalas as before its start, there was no direct train between Jaipur and Mumbai and to go to Mumbai, one had to change either at Sawai Madhopur or Delhi. This super fast train was indeed a game changer.

The train reached Mumbai Central sharp at the destined hour of 8.30 AM and I had freshened myself by shaving and having a short bath inside the train itself. I got down, deposited my luggage in the cloakroom and took a cab to Cuffe Parade. The princely sum of Rs46 that I paid for this journey is still fresh in mind. I reported at the office, which was a big change from the well appointed, well set central office of my previous employer. There were few peoples and the work was going on as the office was still not ready. However, I got going to whatever I was supposed to do on Day 1 of my joining.

As the evening fell, I was offered a ride from office to our guest bourse at BKC in a pooled vehicle. I requested the team to drive via Mumbai Central so that I could collect my luggage from the cloakroom.

From sleepy Jaipur to hyper active Mumbai, from an office in Jaipur to an office in high end Maker Towers in upmarket Cuffe Parade, from complacent public sector to highly ambitious private sector, I had embarked on a journey that was to become a roller coaster ride of around 28 years that took me to Kolkata, New Delhi before finally bringing me to Mumbai in 2001 for good is an interesting story that I may tell one of these days through blogs or a book. But as I prepare to retire in few days on 31/5/2022 that would be my last day in Axis, I got pulled towards the memories of my first day!