Bollywood- India’s torchbearer

As many of my readers know, currently I am in South Africa, where my daughter works and stays.

Yesterday she took us to Bela Bela warm water baths, some 200 odd kilometres from Johannesburg. The water there, coming from underground springs, is naturally warm, in fact hot. This is not unique as there are several sites in the world, including those in India, where natural springs ooze hot water. Several such sites are also rumoured to be having therapeutic value as well.

However, what makes Bela Bela unique is channelisation of natural water into pools, thereby converting it into an exciting water park, with rides and wave pools. In the current environment of bitter cold as is normally the case here in winters, splashing in warm waters is a really pleasant and rejuvenating experience.

But this is not a travelogue about my current visit to South Africa as looking to the experience that I am having of the places such as Kruger and Sabby hills apart from Bela Bela, merits a separate exclusive blog. This blog is to share the joy of experiencing Indianness in the hinterland of this remote country. During the course of splashing in one of the pools, the audio system there at started playing popular Bollywood number “ Desi girl” from hit movie Dostana. Seeing the locals as well tourists shaking legs to this number, I couldn’t help but join the chorus too in spite of having two left feet in the matter of dancing. More importantly, it was that feeling of pride in the swelled heart for India being everywhere and Bollywood being it’s one of the important torch bearers.

Greater purpose

An old colleague of mine posed a very tough question to me yesterday. She talked about a particular posting that was given to her during my tenure that, she felt on the hindsight, pulled down her career prospects leaving her far behind her other contemporaries in the rat race. She also candidly admitted that she could pose this question to me onlywhen I was no longer in the services consequent to my superannuation.

Frankly speaking, I couldn’t recall the event as there were several such instances where in my long tenure I had to take decisions that were unsavoury to the people affected by such decisions. But I distinctly recall her to be a good, intelligent, reliable officer on whom I would rely upon for difficult assignments. While expressing my inability to explain the rationale behind that decision, I advised her to move on because not only the rankings in rat race, rat race itself was temporary that was of no consequence once the tenure of an office ends. 

There are so many articles being published these days on the management policies, work life balance, PMS etc., but there’s something that’s beyond all these that’s sometimes referred to as larger or greater purpose. After bowing out of rat race after active participation for almost 4 decades, I think our personal beliefs, contributions, passions, families etc are of far greater importance than promotions and postings for which we toil all our professional lives.

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 !