Monday, December 19, 2005


The little grenade explodes as soon as I shut my mouth. My teeth dig into its crispy outer cover, out flow the cold juices and my mouth is full. The juices tickle my taste buds; a mixture of sweet, sour, tangy and hot! I try to swallow the juices, careful, so they don’t end up in my wind-pipe and all I can do is shut my eyes and nod in approval of these wonderfully blended flavors. The juices disappear quickly into my stomach and I then discover that there is more to it; soft mashed potatoes, warm chick peas, crunchy sev and the crispy remnants of the grenade.

If you are an Indian foodie, I am sure that you’ve figured out by now what grenade I am talking about. Sounds explosively appetizing right? Okay no more suspense for those unfortunate souls who haven’t experienced the little grenade yet. I am talking about “Paani Puri” (PP) aka “Golgappa”, one of India’s favorite snacks. Be it the chowpati of Mumbai or the cool locales of Manali; the crowded khau gallis of any Indian city or the food courts in the slick malls; PP seems to be there ALL.

Best enjoyed at your local “Sawaliya PP” stall, eating the PP does require some skill (ignore the garbage around you, any passing canines hoping to catch a bite from the leftovers, the not so clean appearing PP server). The PP server gently cracks the puri (a small, fried ball of flour) from one side, mechanically fills it with some stuffing (ingredients mentioned above) followed by a quick dip in the paani (the flavor is customized as per your desire – sweet, spicy, best of both) before handing it to you (about 5-6 at a time) in a plate. Now comes the time that will test your skills. The idea is to eat the puris one by one, quickly enough so they don’t become soggy and puri minus paani, yet careful enough so the juices and other stuffing end up in your mouth and not on your shirt.

This is what the renowned Marathi author Ganghadar Gadgil has to say about the after effects of eating the zesty PP. (An excerpt from his memoir about Mumbai)

"In that state of beatitude the Maharashtrians stop being surly, the Marwaris look at the millions of stars without being reminded of their own millions, the Sindhis admire the horizon without any intention of selling it, the Gujaratis speculate on the moon instead of the scrips they should have sold, the North Indians dream of things other than Hindi as the official language of the United Nations, and even the Parsi ladies stop nagging their husbands."

Like the repetitive and irritating commercials urging you to buy some book/CD-DVD/ - “Go get your PP NOW!”


Sunday, November 27, 2005


Mid-life crisis is a well known term (and experience I guess). Some years back I happened to read about the “quarterly-life crisis” in an email, but never thought much about it. After all, I was just out of my teens and life seemed perfect. But now that I am actually there, I am thinking, maybe that email made some sense! Here are some thoughts about life @ 25 -

Sometimes life seems perfect….things look perfectly aligned and you think “Yess, I am headed in the right direction.”

Other times you get worried and start thinking whether the future is as bright as you thought it was going to be.

You want to make it big, but at times are not sure if the thing you are chasing is a mirage.

You start realizing the shortcomings of your society, culture, city-country administration and even have some solutions ready, but….

You realize that relationships change over time and that hurts you somewhere.

You realize it is difficult to meet people and make genuine friends.

You want to achieve that work-life balance but not sure if such a thing exists.

Many times you feel that you spent too much time with your books and did not realize that you left your hobbies/interests behind.

I am pasting the contents of the email here (Author unknown).

It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are a lot of things about yourself that you didn’t know and may or may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now. You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren’t exactly the greatest people you have ever met and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you do not realize is that they are realizing that too and are not really cold or catty or mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you. You look at your job. It is not even close to what you thought you would be doing or maybe you are looking for one and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and are scared. You miss the comforts of college, of groups, of socializing with the same people on a constant basis. But then you realize that maybe they weren’t so great after all. You are beginning to understand yourself and what you want and do not want. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging a bit more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and add things to your list of what is acceptable and what is not. You are insecure and then secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward. You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you or you lay in bed and wonder why you can’t meet anyone decent enough to get to know better. You love someone but maybe love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you are not a bad person. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans and money and the future and making a life for yourself and while winning the race would be great, right now you’d just like to be a contender!

Anybody relate with this???


“Umm….I guess the write-up was the result of a rare creative burst that happens to me once in a while,” I told my father when he genuinely appreciated something that I wrote.

“Maybe. But you should continue to write. I think you have a flair for writing,” said Dad, as always, trying to encourage me.

“I don’t know how it works, but these ideas don’t come see me everyday! They are like these friends with whom I do not hang out regularly, yet meeting them out-of-the-blue gives me immense happiness,” I complained.

Dad smiled at my analogy. “Make it point to write down your ideas WHEN they come to you,” advised Dad. “Do you remember chasing those feathery, white seeds as a child?” he asked. I nodded a yes and waited for him to continue.

“Remember, our ideas are like those seeds floating in the air. If you grab them they are yours, else they float away never to be seen again.”

Dad’s explanation made sense. Now, I keep a small diary and pen in my purse. The moment I sense an idea floating past, I make sure I scribble it in this diary for later reference.

Thought I’d share this ‘lil tip…


My two cents worth on the views expressed by Harshad Oak in his articles “Staying Alive in a Software Job” and “Recruiting like crazy”.
Do IT professionals in India have a life?
I think NOT. But this question has many aspects that need to be examined.
As Harshad has pointed out, Indian IT professionals get paid well (are able to maintain a good standard of living), however the pay is less as compared to the time they put in.
Markets in our world work on the supply-demand principle. There seems to be an ever increasing demand for quality technology workers. With markets getting competitive by the day, the cheaper you are able to get these, the better are your chances of survival. This is where India with its huge talent pool comes into picture. We must be mindful of the fact that the IT boom in India is because we are able to satisfy this demand of “low-cost high-quality technology workers”. So we could either carry on the way we are working and continue to attract technology markets or set rigid rules about time-money and indirectly limit the influx of such opportunities. I guess our technology leaders chose the first option, albeit at the expense of the tech. workers.
Harshad mentions negotiating reasonable time frames, but we cannot forget that the outsourcer will opt for some other low cost destination that will provide faster services. (Maybe few years down the line we could face stiff competition from countries in SE Asia or Russia or even Africa for that matter.) So although, I agree with Harshad on the point that we need to put our foot down when it comes to negotiating timelines, I think we need to figure out what would be best for the economy/business and the workers.
Another aspect that I would like to point out is the prevalent work culture in India. In India, working long hours is looked upon as a sure sign of diligence. Here is my take on how this came to be. Males were the working class back in the day. I guess they looked at work as an opportunity to keep away from matters at home and made “working late” a prestige issue. The trend continues today. Unlike Europeans-Americans, Indians have never had the concept of “do-your-8-hours” and then head home to spend time with your family or pursue other interests. In short, we as workers are equally responsible for the situation we are in. Hopefully, IT professionals will realize that they need to find and maintain that work-life balance and will try to bring about that change. Until this realization comes from within things will remain the same!
A thought to chew on - Are people dissatisfied with the nature of their work? If not maybe it is just that we need to ensure that people receive remuneration for the time and effort that they put in.
Harshad says that not much “Innovation” is being carried out in the Indian IT shops and attributes it to the work environment. I beg to differ.
I am not very sure what Harshad means by “Innovation”. Is it something that is the result of work done in R&D labs?
To me software development is an inherently creative activity. Of course there might be some processes or tasks in the software development life cycle that are repeatable and can be die-cast, but overall the creation of a new application or service is a task that requires creativity and innovation.
Also not everybody is cut for research oriented work and we need to respect and value that.
Again, we cannot forget that the Indian IT industry is simply doing the job of completing the jobs outsourced to them and these might not be jobs that involve doing R&D. (However if you look at MNCs that have opened their shops in India (Global Engineering Centers or Design and Engineering Centers) they do have a fair amount of R&D work going on which is of course being done by Indians.)
Some food for thought – “Is our education system making dumb workers instead of scientists/thinkers?”
Our education system focuses more on theory than practical. With majority of the Indian engineering graduates joining the IT Industry, do they ever get a flavour of what “research” is? I do not doubt the potential of our talent pool. We have it in us; that explains the thesis presented by Indian students in various fields in universities abroad and the many patents granted to Indians working abroad. How are we going to encourage and retain the scientists among us? Are we always going to wait for Westerners to carry out research for us?
What troubles me is imagining the state of the Indian IT industry say 10 years from now. Will it still be in the Bullish phase? What state would we be in were some new destinations to crop up on the “Outsourcing Map”? What then would be our strategy for survival? Is it time that we started building some core competency rather than being content with being the world’s most sought after outsourcing destination??

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Yesterday started off like every other day. I took my usual bus to work and was sitting by the window seat. It was a bright day and the air was cool, in fact the air coming through the window of the moving bus seemed a bit chilly. However, that was compensated by the warm rays of the sun that filtered through the window. I was listening to something on my walkman and idly gazing outside. People driving, a lone boat in the murky river, dwellers of the roadside slum getting on with their daily chores, some simply chatting and watching life zoom past; these scenes seemed like a familiar movie trailer.

My bus slowed and paused briefly at a small stop on the way and that is when I saw HER! Dark, short and plump with short cropped hair she was sitting on the bench at the bus stop staring blankly into space. Clad in a dirty looking saree and a full sleeved sweater, she appeared middle aged. Suddenly I happened to notice her hands and what I saw made me freeze. They were thin and shapely but appeared to have warts all over them. My gaze shifted to her face and that was no different. Her nose appeared flattened like a knocked off sand dune. I wanted to turn away and shut my eyes, but I could not and ended up staring. My bus moved and I sat there numbed by what I had seen, thoughts swarming in and out of my brain.

“Uff what an ugly face!! She should probably be wearing a burkha than showing it off!”

“Tch......what must have happened? Was that the manifestation of some disease or an unfortunate accident?”

“What kind of life must she be leading? Is she poor and homeless or able to support herself?”

“Does she have anybody who loves her, takes care of her or is she alone?”

“Is she dragging her days or has she come to terms with her deformity and the way the world sees it and treats her?”

“Wow!.....brave is she to continue to live! I would have probably killed myself…”

What started as disgust quickly turned to sympathy and ended up in admiration for the woman. May God bless her!


Just a thought….not very new or radical…but just something that we have to keep reminding ourselves…

Don’t be a ‘WHEN-er’ be a ‘NOW-er’

When will I go to college….
When will I get out of college…
When will I get a job…
When will I find my soul mate….
When will I be financially stable….
When will I start a family…
When will my kids grow up…
When will I retire and enjoy the fruits of my toil…


When I go to college….
When I get out of college…
When I get a job…
When I find my soul mate….
When I am financially stable….
When I start a family…
When my kids grow up…
When I retire …

Now is the time to do what you always wanted to do!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Hold on to your dreams, for if dreams die;
Life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.
I was reminded of this quote after seeing Iqbal this Friday (thanks to my aunt). This was my 3rd Nagesh Kukunoor film and I have enjoyed all three.
Iqbal is a simple movie about a boy following his dream. It does not boast of foreign locales or magnificent sets like the Hindi films of today, yet it effectively conveys a very important message.
The rustic setting of the movie transports the viewer to the life of Iqbal and his poor family. This deaf and dumb teenager has only one passion – “Cricket”. What is important is that his family (minus Dad) recognize, support and even rebel for his passion. I loved the way relationships have been portrayed in the movie, especially the relationship between Iqbal and his younger sister. The movie captures the journey of Iqbal’s dream. Of course the journey has its share of bumps, but it ends on a positive note. The movie ends at a perfect juncture and that is another thing that I liked about it. Shreyas Talpade as Iqbal is brilliant; infact everybody’s performances are top notch.
I am not a movie person and need to be coaxed to go see a movie. This coupled with my notion that the movie was about cricket (a game that I have absolutely no interest in) always kept me from seeing it. Only after seeing it did I realize that this movie is not about cricket but about following one’s dream; a mantra that many self-help books talk about. Deepak Chopra in his book “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” talks about following your Dharma. What he means is that to be successful one must know what one loves and pursue the same and that is a key to success.
Thinking aloud….
  • Do you know your dream? One simple test that my friend Mike recommended is the “time flies” test. What activity makes you lose track of time? That activity could be a possible candidate.
  • Many a times people around you (family, friends) can recognize your true potential and make you aware of it. I guess it helps to listen and to have people who have trust in you.
  • However it could also happen that one is not allowed to do this soul searching and/or is expected to follow a certain path. (Like Iqbal’s father who thought that farming was a secure occupation rather than cricket. I love the dialogue that shows the conflict between Iqbal’s father and mother.)
  • It is never too late to go for your dream.
Bottomline, if you have not seen Iqbal yet, please do not miss it and most important go for your dream!! I have embarked on a journey to find mine….
Here is a song from Iqbal that I simply loved. Listen
aashaayein ...
aashaayein ...
kuch paane ki ho aas aas
kuch armaan ho jo khaas khaas
har koshish mein ho waar waar
kare dariyao ko aar paar
toofano ko chir ke
manzilo ko chin le
(aashaayein khile dil ki
ummeedein hase dil ki
ab mushkil nahi kuch bhi
nahi kuch bhi) - 2
o ho o...
udd jaaye leke khushi
apne sang tujhko waha
jannat se mulaquat ho
puri ho teri har dua
(aashaayein khile dil ki
ummeedein hase dil ki
ab mushkil nahi kuch bhi
nahi kuch bhi) - 2
gujre aaisi har raat raat
ho khwaahisho se baat baat
lekar suraj se aag aag
gaaye ja apne raag raag
kutch aaisa karke dikha
khud khush ho jaaye khuda
(aashaayein khile dil ki
ummeedein hase dil ki
ab mushkil nahi kutch bhi
nahi kuch bhi) - 2
o ho o...


Arzan Sam Wadia describes how Indians react when they come across a fellow Indian in a foreign country.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I just finished a book called blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It made a very interesting read. A section in the book talked about the work of two remarkable scientists who are experts at mind reading. The duo has studied human faces and facial expressions in such great depth that they are able to decipher even the most imperceptible of emotions that would flash across any face.
The scientists agree that our face indeed reflects our mind. Facial muscles can be categorized as voluntary and involuntary muscles. Voluntary muscles are the ones that are under our control. These muscles can be used to deliberately show or conceal a certain emotion/s. Involuntary muscles however are not under our control and can be tagged as muscles that “spill the beans”. In other words, no matter how hard one tries to fake an emotion via the voluntary muscles, an astute mind reader can look at the signs given off by the involuntary muscles and sense what the person truly felt.
Try and picturise what it would be like if we lost all ability to emote via our face. Our faces then would be reduced to art forms; some beautiful, some ordinary, some ugly. The expressions twinkling eyes, infectious smile, sexy pout would simply lose their meaning. We would appear like robots programmed to do tasks, except that we would still have a mind of our own. Majority of the tasks we perform require human collaboration; would we be able to collaborate without our facial expressions? How much would our mind then accomplish? No doubt, our mind would be freed of a lot of work (of mind reading) and it would probably be reduced to doing straightforward computations in such situations.
Without our facial expressions we would lose an important medium of communication. We would either have to talk or write to communicate. How cumbersome would that be? This would be advantageous in certain situations like
  • You could lie without being caught.
  • You could sugar coat your words when you actually wanted to frown in disgust.
  • You could measure your words or even better have time to think before reacting when your temper soars.
However, for the most part it would be a bane rather than a boon.
  • You would not know how to react when you break the 10pm curfew and come home to find Dad at the door.
  • Lovers would not be able to fathom the love in their partner’s eyes.
  • What would one do in situations when one is at a loss for words?
  • How would your pet know when it is time to be a good boy?
  • How would we pick on the Machiavellian’s intentions and know what to do to save our lives?
Would we be led to extinction or would we just stop evolving? I shudder at the thought. It is really hard to imagine where we would be without the functioning of these small muscles!
I close my eyes in a silent prayer and smile to myself everytime I think about this wonderful gift that God has bestowed upon us.
Interesting links

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Almost every other person I meet these days questions me about the “M-word”. My answers range from genuinely updating them about the status quo to quick repartees and sarcastic remarks to awkward smile followed by “umm…well…yes..uh..” to asking them the exact same question. Of course the nature of my answer mainly depends on the person posing this question and to some extent my perception of his/her intention behind asking this question.
On days when I am in a cranky mood, I really get pissed off when somebody whom I hardly know asks me about the “M-word”. What irritates me even more is when such a person insists on an answer. Give me a break!
“So anything interesting happening in life??”
“Umm......but how come you did not find someone for yourself yet?”
“So mamma dada looking out for somebody?.....are you seeing somebody?...anything in the pipeline?”
“Heyy when are you getting married?”
“We’ve been waiting for laddoos(sweets) for a long time now......I think you are trying to be too scrutinous......I would suggest you reach a decision in another 6 months......its high time now!”
These are some of the sample questions/advice that I am subjected to.
Although I am very appreciative of our friendly, non-formal culture, I get a wee bit annoyed when people I hardly know start questioning me like that. Can’t we have a normal conversation without this discussion or is it some protocol that “every marriageable person must be questioned or coached to death about the “M-word”?
Finding a life partner is one of the most important decisions of a person’s life. With arranged marriages still a common practice in my community people going through this process have their own concerns, worries and frustrations. So friends and people why add to their pot of worries by your questions and advice?? Think about how the person might feel when you subject him/her to your volley of questions n advice or even better think how you would feel were you in his/her position and only then say what you have to say.
Well before I get into that rant n rave mode, I have an announcement to make…..(I know what you are thinking)… goes….Friends, relatives, colleagues, curious neighbors, I would like to announce that, I will personally inform you when I find Mr. Right. Till then happy guessing and gossiping!!


My excitement and general mood of celebration during the recent Ganesh Festival was spoiled by the acts of violence and insolence during the immersion procession in Pune and other parts of the state. By now everybody has had their take on this topic and what I am going to say here might not be very different, but nonetheless I will write.
Ganesh festival has undergone a lot of changes over the years. What started out as a sincere effort to bring people together and boost the spirit of community, has now turned into an ostentatious display of money and lack of culture. (I am well aware that exceptions exist and I do appreciate the good work that they do via the medium of this festival.)
I feel that the ban on loudspeakers after 10 pm was a very good decision taken by the court. I was disturbed when I heard many people debate against this decision. People, have we forgotten to enjoy in moderation? Do we need to go to extremities to truly enjoy an event or a festival?
Most Indian cities are excellent examples of vehicular (air) and water pollution. Do we need the noise pollution and water pollution that comes with the way we are currently celebrating this festival? Can we stop making religion and rituals an issue and instead focus on the values that are at the core of these? Have we become so self-centered that we continue to celebrate even when our own countrymen are falling prey to natural disasters, injustice, poverty, lack of resources? Celebration is an inherent part of our culture; can we find ways to include all in this gala?
We celebrate to seek Ganesha’s blessings, but THINK, would He be pleased by what He sees? It is time, each of us pondered over this.
Considering the original thought behind the festival, how about
  • Not extorting money from people as “vargani” (donation).
  • Not squandering the donations over flashy immersion processions and other extravaganza.
  • Not playing blaring music especially irrelevant songs from movies during the festival.
  • Not immersing the big idols and thus help curb water pollution. The same idol could be used during the next festival. The money thus saved could be used for some worthy social cause. (We immerse our family idol in a tub at home. We buy a shadu (clay) idol and on immersion the remnants are spread among the flower beds in the garden.)
  • Encouraging the revival of some cultural arts or even better arranging programs or competitions that will help the youth in some way (sports events, public speaking, vocational guidance, etc)
  • Imbibing the importance of community service by conducting some programs aligned in this direction.
  • Continue improving social awareness on various issues via “pandal”displays.
  • Limiting a “pandal” per locality. This will prevent traffic congestion from happening at every nook and corner during the festival.
Ganapati Bappa Morya!!

Thursday, August 25, 2005


She rises early in the morning, the supercomputer inside her head doing numerous time-task computations to arrive at the optimum algorithm to successfully complete the countless tasks at hand. She does not have the option of extended deadlines nor is there a possibility of having new resources allocated.
She cooks, she cleans. She sees the kids and other members off to their daily routines and if working, sprints off just in time for her train/bus. She works hard; at times she trades her docile self to that of an aggressive lioness to keep herself alive in the rat race. She nurtures, she disciplines. She indulges you and spoils you rotten and yet she is the one to set the rules. She shares your dreams and disappointments. She entertains guests and weaves a social circle about the family. She knows when you are down and also knows exactly how to cheer you up. She makes a home!
She has to play mom, wife, teacher, playmate, friend, guide….you name it, she does not need takes and re-takes. Isn’t she multitasking personified??
As a career gal myself, I have realized the innumerable responsibilities a working woman has and the fact that “there can be no excuses” if things follow a downward spiral. Recently I also saw a cartoon depicting a woman with many pairs of hands, each pair busy doing something. I am sure every working woman would love to have those extra pair of hands. Mind you I am not undermining the stay at home moms.
So why wait for Mothers Day??.....Tell her how much you appreciate what she does or even better let your actions speak your mind. Need ideas??....Take her out for dinner, let her splurge in the mall, send her flowers…..umm….oops…..something smells burnt…..Adios people! while you are at it, I managed to burn dinner that I was cooking for Mom n Daadi. The two of them are out watching a play. J