An uncle and a friend

An uncle and a friend

I just heard a few hours back, that one of dad’s closest friends, Eshwaran, passed away this morning. That was extremely bad news.

I had probably met Eshwar uncle and his wife several times as a toddler. And then I met them nearly a decade or more later, probably when I was in the eighth or ninth standard at school. And yet the meeting still feels recent.

Anyone who ever knew him, knew him as an extremely light-hearted and jovial person. But something else apart from his great sense of humour came across strongly too. And that was his keen interest in photography. That, and of course the way he expressed that interest. He was probably around 40-45 or so at the time. But he’d sit and chat with me as if I was just another buddy of his. And yet, the conversation was always extremely interesting, relevant, and still, simple enough so as not to bore an easily distracted kid.

He would tell us about some hilarious incidents from bachelorhood when he, dad, and some friends hung out together. He would then literally zoom in on an important part of his life, his hobby, photography. And he’d  give us a vivid description of some amazing scenery that he’d seen. A scenery he had taken several photographs of, several years before. And yet, he’d remember it with more clarity than any of us would remember our last holiday anywhere. And he’d almost get into the technicalities of how he’d place his real fancy camera on the tripod on a slope perhaps, and adjust it to get that right shot.

Or of another incident at another holiday spot that would be amazingly breathtaking, and how he’d proceed to click innumerable pictures of. And it didn’t end there. Back in the day, photograph films had to be developed, and he’d do that too himself. So he’d talk about that too. The dark room, the negatives, and then, how exactly the pictures would have captured to a satisfactory level, a beautiful sunrise, or sunset, or a vast stretch of lush green.

And all that talk would just express his true love for his hobby. That was probably one of the few times when someone’s passion for something they absolutely loved doing, came through very strongly. I even bought my first camera on his recommendation; and just like he said, snaps did come out ‘superb’.

Not only did I learn quite a bit about the basics of ‘clicking a snap’ from him, but also little lessons on perfection. While most of us nowadays just pull out a digital camera and fire away, the little extra effort that I take when clicking snaps to make sure they come out good, are to a great extent, thanks to his photography tips  that I got on the few occasions that I got to spend time chatting with him.

And in our world of fads and herds, a few people like Eshwar uncle, stand out for pursuing even a hobby with more interest and dedication than many of us show towards even our work.

Uncle, you’ll live forever in our minds, and it truly has been a pleasure knowing you, as an uncle, a friend, and most importantly, a great human being.

And while I’ll always regret not having spent enough time with you; a line from the movie, Mr. Deeds, comes to mind; that I’ve reworded a little, and that goes like:

We never hung out (enough), and that makes me sad…

All the good times we could’ve had…

But when I die, uncle, you better say cheers…

Cause me and you are hanging at the pearly gates…

I’ll bring the beers… I’ll bring the beers.

IMG_20150316_113102

The Last Straw

This one’s for all those people who’ve found their goal, and work towards it like nothing else matters, like there is no tomorrow. And for all those who know the true meaning of rules, the sensible rules at least.

The Last Straw

Have you ever been in a state where you’re head is filled with the purest rage? Where you think, ‘once more someone messes with me regarding (whatever), and they’re really gonna get it?

Have a look at this article. Just an average, or in my view, above average employee, who just got pushed way over the edge, for apparently no fault of his. (Fed-Up Flight Attendant Makes Sliding Exit)

What happened was, that an airline attendant, Steven Slater, who probably had his share of responsibilities and troubles, got pushed a little too much when a passenger stood up to fetch his luggage on the aircraft before the crew had given permission. When Slater instructed the man over the PAS to remain seated, the passenger goes ahead with removing his luggage. And when Slater reaches the passenger, he accidentally gets hit on the head by the luggage the passenger was trying to remove. Now this, in itself, is a random accident that could happen to anyone. But when Slater asked for an apology, the passenger proceeds to curse him. So that’s two mistakes by one moron of a passenger. Firstly, not following rules, and then throwing his weight on someone trying to enforce those rules.

Slater, who apparently has served 20 years in the industry, (20 whole years is a bloody long time eh!), was a regular chap, who had been recently caring for his dying mother, who happened to be a retired flight attendant. His father too was a pilot in his day. Slater happened to be the leader of the airline’s uniform redesign committee apart from being a member of the airline’s in-flight values committee.

So I guess that does speak for his character, abilities and his work.

There’s something that the average consumer, customer or colleague often doesn’t understand. That different industries and businesses have rules for the purpose of the very meaning of the word, rule = that which is prescribed or laid down as a guide for conduct or action. So obviously, being aware of the risks, or to maintain an orderly way of doing things, rules are laid down.

But most beings, thinking themselves the wiser, feel that they can merely bend the rules a bit to accommodate their holiness. It’s easy when the average self-centered soul thinks that way. But what happens when everyone starts thinking that way. We get chaos. We get three lines at a counter where there’s supposed to be only one, we get five lines of cars on a road with three lanes, we get the ‘everyone’s doing it so why cant I?’ question staring you in the face. We get herd mentality. We also get more fights, more abusing, more punches, etc. Because they are not the only self-centered one around, there are more like them always around, many more.

And then what happens. The last straw. What’s worse, is that oftentimes, the one pushed off the edge for no fault of theirs, gets punished too.

Like Slater, who after letting out a string of expletives at the passenger over the PAS, grabbed a beer, activated the emergency-evacuation chute, and slid down and drove home, only to have his home surrounded by police officers, detectives and port authorities, and him, arrested.

Normal people don’t do such crazy things. Grab a beer and jump out of a plane. As ridiculous as that sounds, bloody cool even. But no, normal people wouldn’t take their job that seriously either. Most of the kind of staff I have seen on airlines or even with some people I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of working with, they wouldn’t have bothered too hard in trying to enforce rules and regulations to that extent. They try a bit, and then don’t bother. So it’s usually the most hard working, the most driven and most dedicated of employees who usually end up reacting in such extreme ways when they are constantly pushed against the wall for their efforts and dedication.

It’s because, on a scale from 0 to 100, the average expectation of, say quality, or enforceability of a rule for a normal person is, say 50. The normal chap or gal would expect something in the 45-55 range under most circumstances. So when the weird folk bend the rules to say a 40 or even 30, they think they’re just doing something that’s 10-20 units off the normal. Not too big a deal.

But to that crazy dedicated worker, the normal delivery expectation he or she provides is nothing less that a 95. When someone’s screwing about with rules (pushing it to the 30’s or 40’s), regular employees think they’re 10-20 below average. From the dedicated fellow’s point of view however, they’re way below the 95 average. Which is why you then get the extreme reaction to situations like this.

Reminds me of the movie ‘The Rock’. Am pretty sure most of you who watched it, ‘wowed’ at the story, the action, and then forgot about it. But give it some more thought. The story of a Brigadier who takes tourists hostage as a final desperate attempt. An effort to get the government to open its eyes to a cause he’s fighting for. The deaths of fellow marines killed in action, who have been denied even the honour for their ultimate sacrifice.

But somehow, that fight of the Brigadier General is never addressed during the rest of the movie. Or realized even by most people who watched the movie. So, through most of the movie, the Brigadier General is viewed as the bad guy.

It is only a few people who follow the rules to that level, work towards something with everything they’ve got, and the least they expect, or rather deserve; is respect for their efforts. And when finally, their efforts aren’t leading to anything, they sometimes end up getting frustrated and taking a drastic step in a final attempt at bringing out the flaw in the system…only to be rewarded with punishment.

Rather than look at the final action, it would do some help if people were to even look at the situations and all the causative factors which eventually culminate in that one drastic or so-called stupid career-killing step.

I guess the world expects people to merely reconcile themselves with things that happen. To not complain, challenge, nor question it.

***

Look forward to your views. And if you liked this one, consider following/subscribing to my blog (top right of the page). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

A Soccer for Peace

One World Futbol – Game for Peace?

A Soccer for Peace

Not so long ago, one Tim Jahnigen invented the most durable soccer ball ever. A soccer ball that does not need pumping, and one that never goes flat. It is said the ball could remain unaffected by even the worst environmental conditions. That’s almost 2 years of hard work, dedication and perseverance brought to perfection.

All this, inspired by a documentary on refugees in Darfur who were playing soccer with a ball made of trash and twine. Is’t it a brilliant idea?

You can read more about it at http://www.oneworldfutbol.com/how.html.

$39.50 gets you an all-terrain soccer ball. For every football they sell, they donate one by way of their non-profit outfit. This great initiative begs one to imagine a generation of people in a war-torn region dropping their guns to play a game of soccer instead.

That would be a step towards hope. A step towards peace.

Lets hope the ‘One World Futbol’ is a big step in that direction.!

***

Look forward to your views. And if you liked this one, consider following/subscribing to my blog (top right of the page). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

Why…Not…Serious.??

Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! Look at what’s happened in India over the past two decades. We’ve had bomb blasts ripping through cities, over and over again.
The news channels have ‘field days’. Give it a few days, and everyone has put the incident into some low priority folder in their heads, and gone about with their routine like it never happened.
Now while resilience is a good thing, everyone’s missing the bigger point. Why can’t the security forces, the police, the intelligence agencies, and even the common man become more responsible.

Why…Not…Serious.??

The Dark Knight is by far the most outstanding Batman movie ever, but what’s even more spectacular, is the Joker.

The Joker, not only inspired horror, but what he said could run shivers down your spine.

Whyyy so seriouss..??

What I liked most about the Joker was the fact that most of what he said, like it or not, is absolutely true in the world today.

I’m still hopeful. Just like Batman was when the two ferries were rigged, with the remotes kept in the other barge. But when you look at the state of things around, the Joker’s words tend to cross your mind…

Hmmm? You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.

Source: link

Look at what’s happened in India over the past two decades. We’ve had bomb blasts ripping through cities, over and over again. People are horrified, shaken, paranoid even. The news channels have ‘field days’. Give it a few days, and everyone has put the incident into some low priority folder in their heads, and gone about with their routine like it never happened.

Now while resilience is a good thing, everyone’s missing the bigger point. Can’t the security forces, the police, the intelligence agencies, and even the common man become more responsible. Why aren’t we, as Viper in Top Gun puts it, ‘compelled to evaluate what’s happened, so that he can apply what he’s learnt’? And why do we always go back to being our usual  irresponsible selves?

The another blast. And then another. So many innocent people who just didn’t deserve to die, lost their lives in the most gruesome of ways. And still, the intelligence agencies, the security forces and the police expected that if the bad guys are gonna ever attack again, they might do it the same way, so lets keep a watch out for bombs.

How can you just assume everything. The terrorists have been successful so far because of our ignorance. We checked random taxis, buses and trains for explosives or suspicious looking objects, but left such a damn big coastline unguarded.

And, once again, on Nov. 28, 2008, Mumbai (India) was hit in a manner least expected. And for what felt like a lifetime. Like the Joker said, the bad guys here too just introduced a little anarchy, a lot in fact. And that upset the established order. Nobody saw terror come in that form. And then, everything was chaos. And we, with all the security, and all the intelligence, were sitting ducks.

If not as back as 1993, at least by 2003, or for that matter 2006 all the way to the Mumbai terrorist attack, couldn’t the security and intelligence agencies have sat and thought like the terrorists, and prepared themselves accordingly.

There’s this Bollywood movie called Border, which is one of my all-time favourites. It is based on the 1971 war fought between India and Pakistan, where Pakistan decided to forcefully enter India and capture whatever area it could.

Now, whatever I’ve mentioned say here is based on what I’ve read, and parts from the film.

But well, here’s what happened. Expecting a Pakistani attack by Pakistan, a small regiment of the Indian army at Rajasthan was given a choice. Of holding the Longewala post in Rajasthan till reinforcements arrived, or to flee the post. Another strategic post, Sadhewala, had a much larger Indian battalion posted there. The Pakistanis had planned to attack the Longewala post with a much larger tank battalion. The Major heading the small regiment questions his commanding officer before leaving for the post. He asks ‘how can he assume that just because the Pakistani’s attacked the Sadhewala post in the previous war, that they would do the same this time’? Or ‘whether he thinks the enemy is expected to ask them where to attack’.

The 1971 war makes for one of the most amazing war stories, and one that fills me with pride for my country. And rightly so. This war is significant in the history of wars. To date, remains one of the few wars where a highly outnumbered army emerged victorious. Let’s put that in perspective. 120-130 Indian army soldiers guarding an outpost, were attacked by a 2800+ Pakistani tank regiment. At night. Indian fighter planes at the time were not equipped for night flight. They therefore had to wait till dawn to rescue the army regiment. This small Indian army regiment inflicted heavy casualties on the 2800+ enemy soldiers and tanks mostly due to a favourable terrain, accompanied by the soldiers, who courageously held off the enemies till morning, when the air force came and wrapped things up in our favour.

But to think about it; while we sure won that war, we sure beat the crazy odds, and we did what under most circumstances, given the odds, would’ve been nearly impossible otherwise, but; did it have to be that way.

Could we have perhaps had both locations reasonably well guarded. Or if troops could’ve been mobilized to either location at the earliest. We would have beat the enemy much faster. Or better still, looking at the strong army, the enemy probably wouldn’t have attacked in the first place.

A famous quote goes something like this – “It’s better to sweat in peace, than to bleed in war.”

Simply put, that means, if we plan well, if we anticipate things, if we do our homework in a proper manner, it would save us a hell of a lot of damage when things go bad. In fact, in matters of national security, I feel, if we do our homework, if we are more prepared on a continuous basis, there wouldn’t even be situations like that in Mumbai, or for that matter, all the attacks in the past few years across the country, or even in other countries abroad. Is human life so cheap, that people just take national security so lightly.

And if that was not enough, we made a joke of ourselves at the hands of Pakistan. When we kept providing them information linking the terrorists to their country. And they repeatedly deny it, making a joke of the entire thing.

Imagine the families of all those who lost someone to the attacks, or to the blasts. This would’ve just made them feel like a foreigner in their own country.

Now sure like any other guy, I’m crazy about first-person shooter video/ pc games; and absolutely crazy about recon games. And like most of us chaps, I’d love some action, etc. But it’s a totally different thing watching your fellow Indians bleed for absolutely no fault of theirs.

And while we are inherently a peace-loving country, over the years, why have we become so laid-back and meek? While I don’t suggest an Israel-style retaliation to attacks, though, believe me, Israeli’s absolutely rock at it. And while they sure do have a lot of crazy attacks happening there, at least their average citizen knows that their country doesn’t take things lying down.

We on the other hand, on that particular occasion after the Mumbai attack, made it appear as if we were at the mercy of the Pakistani verdict, which was absolutely ridiculous.

Lets think…

Be more prepared and pro-active…

Lets be alert…

And open to ideas. To logical reasoning…

Lets protect our country…

They say “The night is darkest just before the dawn.”

So why not stand together, and do our part in this fight against terrorism; to bring in that new dawn.

***

Look forward to your views. And if you liked this one, consider following/subscribing to my blog (top right of the page). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.