Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MeToo - Are HashTags enough?

I had an animated discussion with my wife regarding recent resurgence of HashTags to promote yet another social cause, only this time I wholeheartedly support and feel it is very important (actually the second part of this statement was the result of my wife convincing me that it was important, but that's not important here!).
While sharing our sentiments online gives us momentary relief and a sense of community, and also encourages people to share their experiences and not suffer alone, we should not stop there. In the past there have been instances of sudden rise of HashTags and Profile Pictures, but such instances died down like a wave dies down after reaching the shore. But our shore is nowhere near, when it comes to #MeToo.
(Read: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/17/us/me-too-tarana-burke-origin-trnd/index.html)
#MeToo is a good first step in the right direction. But what next? Do we feel complacent because we've at least start talking about it? Its good that we have but talking doesn't remove the danger. And the danger is real and still lurks nearby. There is more to be done. In my opinion we can begin with the following:
1. Be vary of predators. In pre-historic times, living in a jungle and forgetting that we share the jungle with lions and cheetahs, would have cost our lives. Similarly we must not forget that predators exist in today's world also. They look like an ordinary person, and are sometimes a near/dear one, which makes it difficult to spot them. Nonetheless, we must, firstly, survive like we survived in pre-historic times, by evading such predators.
Best way to do that is to take obvious precautions. These may seem "ancient" and "outdated" but so is the mindset of the predators we are up against. Hence, we should pay heed to what the older generations teach us and warn us about/against. Coming home early and not venturing out at night won't make you less of a "modern" person. Moreover, despite how "modern" we feel we are, we are still living in a jungle and humans are still animals, at least in certain aspects. Just like we take precautions to not fall sick, we should also take precautions to stay safe. Because falling sick is not our fault but we do suffer because of it, and I don't think we should suffer anymore when it is not our fault.
2. Educate everyone you can. It is sad but true that some predators have already been born and are here to stay till they die. To prevent birth of future predators, we must educate everyone we can, that includes our own children, other children, and other people who may not be children anymore but are willing to understand and behave properly. Moreover, we must remember that any form of permanent change in a species takes time (Darwin's theory of natural selection). But here it is not the nature but we humans who will bring about the change in our species through teaching people about mutual respect. And maybe, just maybe we will witness the change as the reduction in the number of predators in the next few generations. We may not live long enough to witness such momentous change, but we must be the ones to initiate it.
HashTags are good. Becoming the change you want to see in the world, is better. Participating in gradually changing the mindset of this world, is best.
Let us make #MeToo not only a symbol of a bad past experience but also the building blocks of a safer and happier future, by shouting: #MeToo will make a better future.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Howling Maid

Today morning while having breakfast, I heard a maid shout at the top of her voice at the woman behind closed doors of her house, to pay her for the last month's work. The woman, apparently, seemed not to care. The caretaker of our apartment came to resolve this issue and tried to talk this maid into leaving. The maid said that she had worked very hard and deserved every rupee that was being denied to her. She then added that the woman was accusing her of theft and hence wasn't paying her and had even threatened to call the police. Nonetheless, the maid was determined to stay put until she was paid in full.
The maid left after about ten minutes, for reasons I'm not aware of. But it made me realize something important, what if the maid was telling the truth and the woman was lying just to get back at the maid for something else she had done to her, or perhaps the maid didn't do anything and the woman's attitude was unsympathetic. I am not sure whether the allegation of theft was true but based on her voice and tone it seemed that the maid badly needs the money she had earned and deserved.
What I don't understand at all is, why give someone a chance to steal anything from your place? Why keep precious valuables lying around in the house? I've seen the tendency to carelessly keep one's important at some place and over time forgetting about it, in almost every household I have visited or know of. We seem to get too comfortable in our own home but forget that we are inviting an outsider who is probably less wealthy than we are, and may therefore have a tendency to steal things. Would we not have taken care against predators had we lived in a cave in a jungle? Then why consider some outsider to be a saint, when (and I am sure of it) everybody has heard of stories of maids stealing from their master's homes sometime or the other. Instead of enticing her to steal by keeping things in the open and then accusing her of stealing when things go missing (even if it may be your 10 year old who misplaced it), why not keep our valuables safe?
You may argue that, can't one live the way one wants in one's own home. Sure you can, but it is your home only because you occupy it at the moment. Moreover, its like saying, can't I eat the way I like because its my body. And you know where such thinking leads to.
Stop blaming others. Instead organize your life such that you minimize such incidents. That will not only help you retain a maid for longer time without any bitter feelings that is so rare these days, it will also provide you with some peace of mind, which I dare say, is rarer still.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Newton - Idealism or Practicality?

In one of my favorite scenes from the movie, Newton's supervisor asks him, "Do you know what your problem is?"
"My honesty and sincerity."
"Your vanity in your honesty and sincerity."

Newton is a film about Newton (Nutan Kumar), perfectly portrayed by Rajkummar Rao who wants to make a difference. He is a fresher and as his first assignment he volunteers to serve as the presiding officer of an election booth in one of the Naxals infested areas. He does everything by the book to ensure the operation is a success. And when the operation doesn't go as per his expectations, he is devastated. In a scene towards the climax, you can witness his anguish and feel the pain of shattering of his worldview and idealism.
The polar opposite is Aatma Singh, played beautifully by Pankaj tripathy. He is a practical man who from his first conversation with Newton tries to discourage him from pursuing his operation. He understands the safety risks of the area under his supervision and was not interested in losing any more of his men or civilians to Naxal attacks. He even promises him a successful (fake) report for the election operation, to ensure that both of them maintain the image of a work well done.

Why did he do that? Was he not interested in serving his country by ensuring fair elections?

In one of my favorite scenes which was the main reason I went to watch the movie, Aatma Singh offered Newton to hold his rifle in his hands, "It is heavy, isn't it?" he said, and continued, "this is the burden of safety of our country, and this burden is on our shoulders."

It may not seem this way but Aatma Singh was as patriotic as Newton. The difference was in their perception. Newton was an extreme idealist, perhaps being a fresher and driven to make a difference. Aatma Singh, with years of experience in Kashmir, Mizoram and other terror prone regions, understood the risks of holding such election operations and used that to make practical decisions. Both were doing their duty, and that is why this clash between idealism and practicality makes for a riveting watch.

Even though Newton is being praised worldwide and is India's official entry as a foreign film to the Academy Awards in 2018, to me this film excelled to depict the clash of idealism and practicality that was a great learning and a useful takeaway for me.

What side do you choose, idealism or practicality?
And how far are you willing to go for your idealism or practicality?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha - A lesson for professionals

While the movie Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was marketed as a different kind of love story (more rooted in reality), I discovered that the movie also presents a lot of lessons that we as professionals can learn.
Keshav, the protagonist was faced with a daunting challenge (absence of private toilets), one of its kind that never happened in his village. But he doesn't give up and gives his best to address the issue. Consider Keshav as the organization or professional and his wife as the client in this scenario. Following are the lessons we can take away from his efforts in this scenario (SPOILERS AHEAD):
  1. Explore all options: Be it stealthily sneaking into other's house that has a toilet, with any vague excuse he could find, or driving his wife to a stopping point where a train stopped for exactly 7 minutes to use its lavatory facilities, to even stealing a portable toilet from a shooting set, he explores all options.
  2. Short-term solutions don't work: Even though Keshav was coming up with innovative solutions, each was fraught with some flaws. Having a difficult client (his wife) does push him to seek for the long term solution.
  3. Benefiting not only his client (his wife) but also rest of the village (society): Solutions proposed should be replicable and scalable and benefit the society at large. While the solution was already present, making it reach to the people in need for it is itself a challenge and something we must strive to do as good professionals.
  4. Sometimes solutions are there, but people are not ready for it: Keshav's fight was against the archaic traditions that prevented him to deploy the long-term solution in the first place. In our organizations also we might have to deal with outdated policies and processes. However striving to overcome such hurdles to deploy long-term solutions that are clearly better for the organization and the society at large is a worthy effort.
  5. Smart one-liners have high stickiness factor and using them to promote your cause is an excellent idea.
  • "Biwi paas chaahiye toh ghar mein sandaas chaahiye (if you want your wife to live with you, better have a toilet in your house)."
  • "yeh maamla shauch ka nahin soch ka hain (this matter is not about defecation, it is about our thinking)."
6. Lastly, the movie was about flushing out archaic methods that have lost their utility (since better methods are available) and moving into the future. As a professional, one must keep updating oneself about latest developments to stay in the race.

Radhe Radhe! (salutation)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Zombieland - Too good to be true

Watching Zombieland (2009) the movie made me feel that I wish I was in that world rather than in present world. While I feel stupid about thinking that post apocalyptic world could be better than present world, I do have my justifications, based on the movie:
1. Everything FREE! You see a car you like, just drive it away. You feel like having chips or snowball or Twinkie, just walk into a shop, shoot some zombies and take all the delicacies, for FREE! Refuel your car for free, get clothes for free! No income tax, no salary negotiations, no pressure to buy a house (just walk into any house and start living there!)
2. No traffic on the road! It would be like a dream come true, considering the traffic these days. Of course there was an occasional presence of zombie on the road whom you can hit and drive away.
3. In that world, the only task to do was kill the zombies. And in the movie, they make it look so easy! Its a video-game fantasy come true! Moreover, people shared stories of the best Zombie kill of the day/week/month/year/all time!
4. And if there is a HOT girl stuck with you, the only eligible bachelor, she might eventually start liking you! Same might be true the other way round.
5. Healthier life: No internet, which means more time to do "real" things like running, fighting, talking to other people, and "enjoying the little things"!
Of course we must follow the 32 rules laid down by Columbus in the film, from Cardio (#1) to Enjoy the little things (#32). Anyways we need to follow so many rules daily, most of which we don’t even understand or find useless but these 32 rules will be vital for survival.
Driving a Hummer on a long empty roads and killing zombies with a shotgun, wouldn’t that be amazing!
BTW, you can totally barge into empty mansions of millionaires and enjoy the luxuries there!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why I won't have children, and you shouldn't either

For a moment
  • Lets forget that all kinds of pollution has reached their zenith: air, water, noise and many others.
  • Lets forget the greedy consumption of agricultural and forest lands to make malls, apartments and bars/casinos, thus leading to death/extinction of many animal/plant species and tribes. And in recent times, floods!
  • Lets forget that these days one consumes more medicine than ever before, perhaps making it a part of our staple diet.
  • Lets also forget that everyone is running this "rat race" to reach that bigger and better stage in life, when in most cases, bigger and better is actually worse because in many cases it ruins our health and relationships, leaving us with superficial relationships and life on medicines.
  • Let us also forget the ever increasing gap between the rich and poor, leading to wasteful habits of rich and the starving children of the poor.
Once you've successfully forgotten all this, you can go ahead and produce as many babies as you like. But if you can't forget even one of the points I've mentioned above, think the kind of world you're planning to bring your baby in. Your own child is someone you'd end up loving more than your life and your dreams. Will you be able to bear the suffering this child might undergo while growing up in this world? If he's a good person you'll feel pity for him, if he's shrewd you'll hate him for being so mean and selfish. Moreover, you'll also worry about his job and career, most of which are artificially created and add no meaning to this world or one's life.

So we're left with two choices. Either we begin to fix this world or not produce any more babies, let the human race become extinct and then allow our planet enough thousands of years to recuperate the damage done to it.
Since we're busy in our daily lives, and trapped in this "rat race" chasing a dream life, I have a suggestion for you, in case you're interested in fixing this world.

Stop Wasting:
  • Order/cook based on hunger.
  • Buy only what you need instead of getting carried away by monthly Sale offers. Why not try meditation/yoga/exercise instead of shopping as therapy?
  • Use public transport but if you need personal commutation use two-wheeler and wear a helmet. Help reduce traffic on the road.
  • Grow trees in your neighborhood. Only trees can save us now.
  • And please, no more startups on same services that already exist!

Following the above will reduce your monthly expenditure and will give you the option to stop overworking yourself and spend some time with family, friends and hobbies.
Once we've achieved a balanced life and reduced pollution to a large extent, then you can think of bringing a new life into this world. Don't give them a chance to curse you for this condition of earth because they'll anyways be cursing you for many other things!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Jabra Fan

“Kehte Hai Agar Kisi Cheez Ko Dil Se Chaaho Toh Poori Kaynath Tumhein Usse Milane Ki Koshish Mein Lag Jaati Hai!” - Om Shanti Om.
 
Perhaps someday few years back I might have wished that the superstar and one of the most talented actors of Bollywood, start doing good movies again. The answer to my prayers seem to have been answered in the movie Fan.
In Fan, Shahrukh Khan does what he does best. And the movie has enough thrill and substance to keep you engaged. I watched it yesterday on the big screen and was pleasantly surprised, and relieved. Shahrukh Khan is back!
 
Since we’ve been going to cinema halls in hordes for movies like Dilwale, Happy New Year and Ra.One, I was expecting similar reaction for Fan, and I feel it deserved it. But NO! Fan is a decent movie to hit the screens but even with a superstar in all the lead roles, it fails to have a big box office collection. That’s ridiculous. Have we really become so ridiculous? Is the movie failing to succeed at the box office because it doesn’t have songs/item songs or a love story?
 
Fan isn’t flawless, but it is MUCH better than Shahrukh’s recent films. His last decent film was My Name is Khan (2010), which suffered the same fate at the box office in India. This makes me urge everyone to re-evaluate the kind of movies we choose to watch.
 
In a nation filled with passionate movie-goers, one would expect world-class high quality movies being made. Sadly most of our movies are trash. Once in a while some decent movie comes along, from a giant production house with enough star power, yet it fails to attract enough audience.
 
I have witnessed your comeback Shahrukh, and I hope it gets better. I hope others witness it too. Lets not give him or other stars and producers make another Dilwale, or Happy New Year or Ra.One. Let us watch Fan to show our support for good movies and encourage Shahrukh Khan to continue doing good movies and good roles.