The Perfumer’s Poem

Have you travelled all alone,
With just a basic kit-bag,
Seeking peace, calm and quiet,
Away from the maddening pursuit,
Of bonuses, salaries, congratulatory emails,
And all those celebratory team-lunches?

Boarding a bus from the terminal,
Late one night after a maddening week.
I knew not the destination.
It was a relatively less crowded bus,
With some other state’s vehicle registration number.
Inviting me to board the bus.

There was a distinct smell of grapes,
When the conductor asked me for tickets.
He smiled; I smiled – we both knew,
He had consumed a peg to keep him steady!
I paid for my ticket, I said ‘last stop.’
He smiled again and gave me the ticket.

I stared at the motley crowd within the bus.
Newly wed couple right at the end,
All smiles and content headed for a honeymoon.
The middle-aged couple headed for a pilgrimage.
Some more people who seemed lost in their world.
The sisters from some church dressed,
In an ash-colured dress holding the rosary.

The bus cut through the traffic,
Leaving the madness of the city,
Fighting with space on the roads,
Evading cabs taking the IT crowd home duty.
Lorries transporting vegetables and fruits,
Other buses headed to other destinations.

As the darkness of the night,
Enveloped me in a safe hug,
I slept, wondering where this bus,
Would take me to?
I woke up after a few hours,
It was early morning.

I looked out of the window,
The smell of the hills,
Herbal mist with a dash,
Of citrus and tea-leaves,
I was happy heading into the hills.
The bus stopped at a point.

A small stream in the background,
A small hotel up-front,
Tea; pooris and aloo-subzi and jalebis.
There was a wait for a while,
Then the journey resumed,
The bus climbed into the mountains.

The countryside was picturesque.
I refrained from clicking pictures,
Just soaking up the beauty,
Of Mother Nature in its glory.
Finally we reached our destination.
Pushpagiri – a place in the mountains.

An abode of Lord Shiva.
It was a pilgrimage of sorts,
A redemption for the atheist,
Who seeked perfection in work,
Answers to troubling questions.
And a purpose in life.

The temple bells rung clear and calm,
The fragrance Of the incense and the flowers,
The stream that babbled away,
The wind that had the slightest
Hint of pine-cones from the trees,
That grew further up in the mountains.

I was at peace absolute peace!
This was indeed a journey,
A strange and necessary journey,
That I had to make.

This post masquerading as verse has been written for the ‘Inspire a Fragrance’ competition organised by Godrej and Indiblogger. The fragrances that I would like to capture and make a part of the range of fresheners and purifiers made by Godrej Aer are:

1 – The fragrance of freshly pressed grapes a fruity wine-like aroma.
2 – The fragrance of various aromatic oils – lavender, rosemary, thyme, patchouli all rolled into one.
3 – The fragrance of saffron and milk that one gets when eating some special Indian sweets (kesar rasamalai)
4 – The fragrance of flowers and incense sticks – the fragrance one gets in the sanctum sanctorum of a temple after the first aarti/puja of the day.
5 – The fragrance of green tea and pine woods!

So what fragrances would you like :)

Four Corners of the Circle – Book Review

It all started one evening when I noticed a post by a blogger friend Aravind Kumar about a book and if people would be interested in reviewing the book. The title of the book was – ‘Four Corners of the Circle’. In a short span of about 30 minutes I was connected with the author Mr. Mohit Jain on Facebook and we were chatting.

The book arrived within a few days and battling busy work-schedules and fatigue, which did not let me read the book on the train; I finally completed the book. Before I go into the review of the book; a short introduction of the author follows:

Mr. Mohit Jain is an eminent personality who has been influencing students at various levels through his teachings, mentoring, training and consultation for more than 16 years. He has a rich experience in the field of Quantitative Aptitude, Economics, Finance and Marketing Research. He is a visiting faculty member of various management institutes in Kolkata, Guwahati, Pune, Nasik, and Bangalore.

Read more about Mohit – http://mohitjainreveals.com/bio.html

From the blurb on the rear-cover of the book:

Ever heard about the four corners of the circle? Since childhood, t has been taught in schools that the circle has no concern. Life is a never ending marathon. It keeps on revolving in circles and everyone is in search of a final destination, a corner that they never reach. This book is a small initiative to throw light on different aspects of the education system and how could we join hands to make it more productive. It guides the aspiring students to follow a right approach, take correct decisions, and overcome distractions in their career. It advocated that the educational institutions should focus on enlightening the lives of the students by providing quality education, quality learning ambiance, practical grounds to implement class room theories, and by helping students convert their black cat into a white one. The book is neither biased toward students nor educational institutes; the sole purpose is to provide their individual perspectives and reach to a common conclusion. The book contains five theories, which Mr. Mohit Jain has discovered in his sixteen years of teaching experience and which would help the youngsters reach closer and closer to their goals.

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Review:
The book is a fascinating piece of writing; coming from a teacher and mentor who has guided a number of students over the years to find their true-calling and achieve their dreams. The book is not a novel, wherein I can provide plot-points and create suspense and force you to pick up the book to help you unravel a mystery.

This book is a small gem that takes incidents from the author’s life and traces his journey as a son, student, friend, teacher and mentor. In today’s result-oriented world; where everyone aspires to become an MBA; the book examines if an MBA is really worth it; does the MBA ensure guaranteed employment and success and other very pertinent questions.

I would recommend every student who plans to write the CAT or similar preparatory test; or aspires to go abroad for higher studies to please buy this book and spend time reading the book. The book is simple, precise, crisp and direct in the presentation of the core-idea. There are interesting diagrams that add value to the book.

The Nine Point Theory put forward and copyrighted by the author distills the essence of learning and the whole purpose of studying and perhaps living in a clear manner. I am sure that many people who read this book will look back in regret and wish that they had heard about this theory earlier.

The author lists out the impact that his father had on him and thanks him for inspiring him to do what he is doing. He also credits his teachers, friends, family and students who have all added value to his life.

I offer 4.5 stars out of 5 for this solid gem of a book and would recommend it to everyone be it student or management professional or IT professional or teacher; do read this book and spread the message that – ‘No dream is impossible.’

Buy the book here:
http://www.flipkart.com/four-corners-circle/p/itmdsbpnberpsrfb

Do read the book it won’t disappoint you!

Life as I know it!

The weekend has been a bloody roller coaster ride!

A film-pitch that has cleared round-1 and a call from a producer – so extreme joy!

Cousin arrives, long chat, treat and books, dinner the usual bonding of book-crazy, Padmarajan fanatic brothers – some more joy!

Train as always delayed; some nice soul decides to flick my phone at an opportune moment – within 30 seconds I realize I have been robbed and call the phone from a fellow passenger’s mobile. The crook has cleverly switched off my phone. Rs 11000 down the drain in one instant. Contacts, messages, photos, jotted scribblings on the phone all lost for eternity. – Very, very sad!!!!

I head back home and dig out an older functional phone and reset my Facebook password!

Next morning call service provider and ask them to block the SIM.

Monday morning, set about changing all Google related passwords and sign-out of devices. Creepily one of the gmail IDs seems to have fascinated my pick-pocket who had amended the password. I managed to outsmart the thief by resetting the password based on a non-Google back-up primary email address that I had created for such incidents.

I never thought someone would want a poor-man’s cousin of a Samsung smart-phone – it was a heavily error-prone device from Karbonn that I mainly used for Facebook and now I am crippled without the phone. I thought it would be a good way to stay de-cluttered. But more than social networks, I need steady access to all my email accounts and I made another budget purchase.

The service provider’s showroom seemed scarily full of irate customers shouting about wrong billing – Tata ji I hope you are reading this.

I submitted ID-proof and paid money for a replacement SIM. The young boy working in the store assured me my SIM card would be activated in 3 hours. It turns out the kid conveniently forgot to raise a ticket on the Tata CRM to process the request. I am seething with rage and the people manning the email desk at Tata Docomo received an acidic email.

I am all pumped ready for a showdown at the showroom in another 45 minutes, let us see what happens! Meet you tomorrow!

The film-pitch it is still in a very strange zone – hopefully news should come soon – let us see!!! Fingers crossed – keep me in your prayers and wish me luck :)

Thoughts on a Smartphone

‘We live in a world where we laugh when our friends slip and fall but are worried when our smartphone falls from our hands or is accidentally knocked down!’ – An anonymous quote posted on Facebook.

So what does that tell us?

Are we inhuman and insensitive? Well definitely not; it is just that that the sleek shining amalgam of plastic, rubber and polished metal is too valuable and fragile and that we are worried that a fall is all that takes for something to go horribly wrong with our smart phone.

The aim of this post written for a competition organised by the good folks at Indiblogger and Asus is to jot down a few points that one’s dream phone should have. The event is being run in synchronisation with the launch of the Asus Zenfone. I have been reading some reviews written by tech-bloggers who have received review units and everyone has good things to say about the phone and if the Sales Team at Asus gets the pricing right – I am sure we have a massive winner! Let us wait for the prices to be announced and go to the main post :)

Strength and Durability:
Remember those good old days when we got Nokia phones for Rs 501 bundled offer via Reliance – so many years back – well those phones still survive and run strong. Durability and strength are extremely important factors. When I pay upwards of Rs 10000 for a device – I expect a powerful and strong unit.

Battery Life:
I guess the i-phone and then Android as an OS kick-started a whole new product market – the portable chargers. How irritated we get when in the midst of a business call or a call with a loved one your phone battery dies! With the advancements in technology we expect devices that give us a solid usage time on a full-charge.

Features / Usability:
There was a time when the geeks carried a phone, a music-player, an e-reader, a handheld gaming console and a camera. Now everything gets plugged into one device, the evolution of an application marketplace has made developers go rich. Think Angry Birds the game that changed the fortunes of Rovio Inc. The point here is are users realizing that the more and more that they depend one single device for all their functions the amount of pressure they are putting on the core working components of the device and how they are reducing the life of the device that they use.

This is one side of the argument.

The other is an uncluttered world wherein as the line goes in The Lord of the Rings‘One ring to rule them all’ we now have ‘One device to fulfil all our needs.’ The future looks promising as we now have cut-throat competition among mobile-processor vendors to create the best value for money processors. The future indeed looks bright with octa core powered phones retailing for about INR Rs 12000. The prices should come down further!

Do not complicate the functionality of a device – Be it a five year old or a sixty year-old everyone should be able to use the phone with ease with a guided intuitive user-interface. Every phone should come pre-loaded with a user guide video built into it explaining every feature.

A Complete Package:
When I buy a product – I expect all the bells and whistles to come together in one neatly designed package. Do not burden me with buying additional headphones, OTG cables, chargers, screen guards, protective cases, etc, separately. As a consumer I want one complete package with everything neatly arranged labelled and packed with care. With online sales gaining prominence the onus is on the device manufacturer to ensure that products are packed in strong durable cases that can bear the brunt of travel and shipping.

Operating System Updates:
From Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Icecream Sandwich, Jellybean to Kitkat and now Android-L. The iterations, variations, added features are mind-boggling. Same goes for iOS users as well. Windows Phone OS is relatively evolving at a slower pace though the latest iteration of the OS looks stunning. Plus good old Blackberry – shaken and stirred and recovering slowly. Point of the rambling point :) – is that the device should receive over-the-air OS upgrades.

Buy-Back Offers:
Popularised by Apple to a fair degree of success a device buyback guarantee program is sure to work wonders among loyal buyers of high-tech products.

After-Sales Support:
This is where every Indian mobile brand – Micromax, Karbonn, Lava, Spice, Intex all lag behind. I hope Asus will ensure a strong dedicated support system in every major city and ensure that devices are serviced with care and returned on time.

I do not want supersonic powers, invisibility, see-through scanners on camera-lens, in-built Swiss-knives and all such boyish secret-agent fantasies on my phone. I want a strong, durable, well-designed product that will help me maintain work-life balance. I hope the Asus Zenfone series will offer me a perfect package and fulfil my dreams.

Go Asus!!! Go!!! We are waiting :)

Quest

I know it is pointless to complain,
But this is just reaching a point,
Where the last vestiges of calm,
Are at breaking point.
I don’t see happiness in what I do,
I am surrounded by people,
Lost in their worlds,
Fighting their own battles.
So I better not judge them.

It is scary so scary.
When is it that I will find stability.
Is there any chance that there will-
Be a time, a place, a job,
That I can do and find joy.
Instead of just putting on a mask.
Mechanically toiling away.
To ensure that the bills are paid on time.
Is there any hope at all?

I can never ever break away,
From this monotonous cycle.
Tell me folks, truly, upon your heart!
Do you find joy in what you do?
You could be programmers, bankers, analysts,
Cartoonists, dancers, musicians,
Or perhaps even professional bloggers!
Tell me truly are you satisfied?
Is there something lacking?

Do you feel there is a chasm,
That has been created,
Which stretches between,
All our expectations and reality?
Is there a way, that we can meet,
Our expectations and remain rooted,
In the real world as well?
Quotes – ‘Like find a job you love’
And other jazz is easy to write and read.

Eventually it all boils down to one question.
An existential question, perhaps -
‘What is the purpose of this birth?’
Having received a human form,
Being born as a man or woman,
What is our role?
In the bigger scheme of things?
Too many thoughts as yet another,
Seemingly monotonous day comes to an end!!
— The Endless…

Meshu Meets the Astrologer

So Meshu calls up the astrologer and fixes an appointment with the wise man. He says visit me on Sunday around 10:00 AM. In the interim Meshu as always being the over enthusiastic bloke that he is goes ahead and posts cryptic statuses on Facebook, which has friends calling him up and conveying best wishes.

The week goes unbearably slow and in this interim for some inexplicable reason, the devil in Meshu’s brain keeps telling him this won’t work, this won’t work. Meshu asks the devil to remain silent and goes about his daily tasks. On Sunday he reaches the astrologer’s residence to see a long queue of people. He waits patiently as the visitors in search of answers leave slowly. Meshu’s turn comes and the astrologer smiles at him; recollecting him from his previous visit.

After the customary namaskarams, Meshu presents the girl’s horoscope along with his own. The astrologer analyses the two, makes calculations, recites hymns and uses the cowrie shells to draw patterns on the wooden board with intricate symbols. Clearly this is not going to be nice; Meshu’s worst fears are confirmed. He says – ‘Son, let us wait, these horoscopes don’t match.’ In one moment a week’s worth of romantic castles built within the confines of Meshu’s heart come crashing down!

Meshu thanks the astrologer and returns; more calls to be made, more horoscopes to be matched!

Meshu’s search continues!

A Bride for Meshu

Meshu went and registered his matrimony profile at Sringeri Madham after his mother threatened to throw out all his DVDs and books if he did not comply with her instructions. The reason why the threat was delayed is because of some inter-planetary transit of planets and stars that did not augur well for marriage for the last two years.

So Meshu registers the profile and secures the list of profiles of girls/women/ladies registered in the past two months at a nominal price of Rs 10 and proceeds home. His mother ensures that Meshu lists every name, star, gothra and poorvigham/nativity. Then Meshu filters out profiles by relevance with respect to date of birth. He does not believe in sub-sects and stars and all that jazz; but the astrologers need to earn their bread and other pesky relatives should not be given a chance to complain. Alas he finds that more than half the girls listed are of the same gothram and nakshatram so by default they are rejected. Another big percentage of girls are from a non-compliant star.

As the list keeps decreasing in size Meshu wonders if at least one compatible profile will be there.

Finally after a three-hour analysis; applying some of the best concepts learnt in MBA class and the law of averages and bell-curves and excel-filters. Meshu looks at the spreadsheet that he has created. Five names – aha! Five phone-numbers.

He proceeds to call each guardian/parent. In a matter of 30 minutes calls have been made to Pune, Indore, Salem, Bengaluru and Kolkatta. SS-Matri profile numbers have been provided by two guardians. Another parent strongly says; ‘you see thambi I expect at least Rs 80000 as your monthly salary’. Another guardian says send me an e-mail with all details. The last person says ‘naanga konjam busy – call later’.

So Meshu as the dutiful son as he is visits the SS-Matri website and keys in the ID-numbers given. He is shell-shocked at the consistent demand of a minimum monthly pay-package of Rs 75000; his hopes are dashed. Finally he sends an email to the guardian who asked him to send the email. One more email sent to another parent whose daughter had made reasonable demands on her SS-Matri profile.

Three days pass – Meshu is worried – not a single response yet.

This morning – on Amavasai day he receives an email with a horoscope and a picture and Meshu is in seventh heaven!!!!

Let us see what the stars have in store for Meshu. Will Meshu find a bride? Keep watching this space for more information!!!