Sunday, 30 June 2013

Ankho Hee Ankho Mein...A Love Story!

"I reached metro station and saw Train schedule board displaying '1 min'. Metro train which I was suppose to board was already on platform, ready to depart in a minute. I rushed to escalators, the door closing light started to flicker. I rushed into the train. Took a sigh of relief.

I turned back and through the windows of metro train I saw a beautiful lady sitting on the platform bench. I thought I knew her. In that split second she looked at me and we had eye contact with each other.

"Do I know you?", I enquired her through my eyes.

"Why are you looking at me?", she stared back.

"You are beautiful", I gave a gentle smile.

And the train accelerated to reach high speed in seconds. I kept on looking at her through the windows, till she was visible.

I couldn't get her reply back. I became restless. I tried to recollect. "That face is a known face...!", I told myself. In that restlessness I got down at the next station. I went to otherside of the platform and boarded metro train that would take me back to same place where I saw that lady. The thought of she might have gone by the time I could reach there, never came. Somewhere my heart knew she would be there.
I reached platform.
"Hi, do we know each other?", I asked her hesitantly moving slowly towards her thinking hard where I saw her earlier.

"Sorry, you are asking me?", she asked me with a puzzled face, grabbing handbag from her side and keeping it on her lap.

That question made me feel sad and I thought probably that eye contact conversation was my imagination and she never conversed with me.

"Are you Nishita?", I suddenly remembered her name stored somewhere in my subconscious.

"Yes....and....are you Jeev?", she asked. She was right.

Few moments passed in silence. Her face was filled with anger. She yelled at me, "How could you do this to Reema, my best friend? Why? It all looked so perfect! We never met yet I was so impressed with you by whatever she use to tell me about you!"

Commuters looked at us. I offered her if we could sit in Starbucks which was on the platform itself, 50 meters away.

After we sat in Starbucks, possibly her anger had cool down a little. She apologized for shouting but maintained that she was very angry.

"Why did you ditch her when all looked perfect?", she asked looking straight into my eyes.
I felt as if somebody has placed a revolver on my forehead and I need to spell out my bank account passwords.

I sipped coffee. I took one more sip and tried to rearrange my thoughts. It all came as a surprise because I had never thought that I would ever have a hand shake with my past in my future. Nishita, the girl whom I met on platform was best friend of Reema, my ex-girlfreind. I had never met Nishita in person because she went abroad for studies. But I always saw her photos with Reema and heard lot of stories about her.

I was looking at the paper napkin kept on our table. That Starbucks lady in green looked more beautiful that the story I was about to share. Nishita was still looking at me waiting for an answer.

"I loved Reema. No one knew me better than she did. We were madly in love and our stories were famous amongst our friend circle. Two years ago, on December 15th, I got a call from Reema at midnight. She told me that her parents got to know about their relationship and wanted to meet me. I was little surprised because it was early according to our plans.

I couldn't sleep that night. I was nervous but confident. Even IIM A college admission interviews did not make me so nervous. It was about my life. I went to Reema's mansion the next day. I was expecting some tough question-answer rounds with her grandparents and parents based on what Reema use to tell me.

We talked about cricket, about movies. We had a good lunch. I was happy that it was all going smooth. It was 2 hrs and I was about to leave. Her grandfather told me to accompany him for a walk in their garden.

"What do you expect?", he asked.

"Only Reema. We like each other and I will keep her happy." I talked to the point because Reema always told me that her grandfather liked that way. To the point and no arguments.

"You are not rich. You dont look as smart as anybody else in my family. It would be a misfit."

I got hurt after listening to those comments. I smiled and said, 'I might not have a bungalow but have bought a house on loan. I am IIM A college pass-out and have a growing career. As far as looks are concerned, they are gifted. I cannot change it and I am happy the way I look."

"We have atleat two dozens of IIM A graduates working for us in various companies."

I knew that their was no point of argument. Logically I could have defeated him but I wanted to win hearts emotionally.

"Gentleman, you may leave now. I hope this remains between us."

I never looked back at Reema again. I knew she loved her grandfather most. They were bigshots and I never wanted to create any scene involving her family. I moved to Singapore for a new assignment without informing anyone. It has been more than 2 years now and I know among the friend circle, the talk is that I ditched her, to which I don't care. I have moved on."

"You are exactly the same as Reema use to narrate me.", Nishita said with a lump in her throat.

"I know you will have many questions. Why you did not do this...that? I do not have answers to them. I just told the truth and did what my heart told me to do at that time. I am above those circumstances now and do not wish to recollect or justify."

Nishita was very much impressed by my nature and personality since the time she came to know about me. She liked my simplicity and maturity. We kept on meeting on weekends and sometimes after work. The frequency increased and we discovered that we were in love with each other. We got married following year and are living happily since then. That's it. That is my story!"

That was Jeev's story. He was sharing his story at one of his book launch event. He has quit his job and has become a full time writer with relationships as his genre. This was his second book launch after a very successful first one!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Looks and money does not matter. In the end it is the person's heart that matters. You should try to find a soul who could love you more than you love yourself. Life is beautiful. Be open and receptive. Keep it simple and enjoyable.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

People going (Haze-ul) nuts in Singapore!

Haze is a new 'weather' introduced to me, a week back. First time when I saw it, it appeared like a dense layer similar to fog and air smelt like something was burning nearby. I ignored that day. It persisted in varying density for next two days and started hitting headlines. I heard people discussing about humidifier to which my first reaction was, 'What is that?'

Welcome to South East Asia phenomenon of 'Haze'. Though it happens in other parts of the world also, I was experiencing it for the first time. I could feel it inside home and office, and wondered if that was my imagination or others too felt the same. This feeling led me to do some research on Haze.

Reasons - Haze: There are various reasons for a thick layer of smog getting created in air called Haze. One of the main source for this is the use of old and cheap farming technique of slash and burn by farmers in Indonesia. In this technique, farmers clear piece of land by setting trees and grass (peatland) on fire. After clearing the woody part by burning, land is made ready for re-plantation of rice, vegetables and fruits. After few cycles, fertile quality of land goes down and new area is selected. Other reason of setting land on fire could be to establish control over disputed land and grab it from previous owner. This activity is on rampant as there aren't enough checks, believed to be done mostly by big and multinational players. The area put on fire is called hotspots. Sumantra Island is major area where deforestation with this technique is done on a large scale by Palm oil companies. Winds blowing towards east carries smoke and causes thick layer of haze over the skies of Malaysia and Singapore.

According to Achmad Taufik, South Sumatra Forestry Office,
"They only have to be sparked by cigarette butts and they (peatlands) will go up in flames." 
(Peat by definition is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation.)

Preventive measures: During this season the weather is hot and dry. Fire catches easily and controlling it becomes a humongous task. Following checks and balances can help in controlling such activities.
- Imposing heavy fines on large corporations for the use or encouragement of Slash and burn technique. Fines heavy enough that the use becomes non-profitable.
- Educating farmers about the adverse effects of such activities to human and nature.
- Providing incentives to farmers for using alternative ways of farming.
- Extending all kind of help, training and subsidy for poor farmers for whom alternative farming techniques may sound expensive.

Corrective measures: Till such time it is prevented, we have to rely on rains to extingush this fire and give some relief. Indonesian government is believed to be taking measures by using technology to create artificial rains over hotspot areas. It has sent airplanes for water bombing over hotspot areas. It has also sent some 100 firefighters at the sight to extinguish fire.

In Singapore, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) broke 16 year old record of 226 (very unhealthy) to 321 (Hazardous) on 19th June. Since then it is on rise with fluctuations and has even crossed 400 levels.
Singapore government is aggressively pushing Indonesian government to act quickly with some allegations and counter allegations putting relations in strain between the two. 

Number of out door activities are restricted. Activities at numerous tourist places like Flyer, Wild Wild Wet, parts of Sentosa are suspended. N95 masks are re-stocked to ensure everyone gets it. Responding to the situation corporates have suggested to work from home if required and be cautious. McDonlad's in Singapore has stopped delivery services.

What can you do? Safety measures:
Wear masks (N95) when traveling outside. Stay Indoor as mush as possible. Drink water at regular intervals. Monitor PSI index and take a call on out door activities. Visit doctor as required. 

You can Pray for heavy rains too!
fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: There should be a strong check on playing with nature. Rampant urbanization, alarming level of increase in pollution, oil spills in sea water, deforestation to name a few, is causing major bearing on the health of humans and nature. The temperature is going up and newer diseases are getting introduced each day. Lets work together to make this World greener and a happy playground!

Sources: Internet and first hand experience. Photo courtesy: huffingtonpost

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Sarfaroshi ki tamanna… Pathetic experience with Air India!

My parents were supposed to visit us at Singapore. My brother in law told me to book Singapore Airlines tickets. Every time I thought over his suggestion, the song

Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Ab Hamare Dil Mein Hai
Dehkna Hai Zor Kitna Baajuen Qaatil Mein Hai…

rang in my head. I got charged up every time with the patriotic feeling. As Steve Jobs once said, “…There is no reason not to follow your heart…”

After evaluating all the permutations and combinations with flight schedules, cost, stoppage and waiting time for journey from Nagpur to Singapore, I narrowed down on Jet airways for their onward journey and Air India for the return journey. Onward journey with Jet airways was smooth and it ended with an appreciation and feedback mail in my inbox from the company. As for the return journey, AI gave me a tough time. Below narration is the series of events as they unfolded.

Original Plan: My parents were supposed to travel from Singapore to Mumbai on 18th June 2013 by AI343 at 10:45 AM Singapore time. And then from Mumbai to Nagpur at 6PM by AI flight.

I got a call, a day before, on 17thJune 2013 from a local landline number. Generally I tend to avoid unknown numbers and if I am in a meeting I don’t take even the known ones. I picked up the call and below is the conversation I had with Air India (AI) lady on the phone.

AI staff: “Hello Sir, you are travelling to Mumbai via AI343 tomorrow, right?”

Me: “Yes, I have booked tickets, my parents are travelling.”

AI Staff: “The flight is delayed for operational reasons. Please reach at Row 8 between 5 AM - 5:30 AM. We have made some arrangements with Singapore Airlines.”

Me: “What?”

AI Staff: “Ok sir, Bye. “ (The lady did not even bother to listen to me and was about to hang up.)

I got little annoyed.

Me: “Hold on! Wait! SQ Airlines? 5:30 AM, a pre-pone? What if I don’t want to pre-pone my trip?”

(I was not inclined to trouble my parents by making them get up at a weird time.)

AI Staff: “AI343 is rescheduled and will be late by 1 hr…”

Sensing that I was fine with 1 hr. delay she carried on, “…or it might get delay even further. We do not know.”

“Do not know” is always scary.

Me: “What are other alternatives?”

AI Staff: “There is another flight in the evening…” I interrupted: “As you can see in the ticket (I assumed it was open on her screen because she asked for PNR#), we have connecting flight from Mumbai to Nagpur in the evening!...”

She checked in the system.

AI Staff: “Ok sir, then you can send them after two day to Mumbai.”

For a moment, I was speechless. I was pissed off with that statement.

Me: “Did you really mean that? Should you be saying like that?”

AI Staff: “Sir I cannot say anything. Due to operational reasons the flight is rescheduled. Reach by 530 AM at Airport.”

Sensing that I had limited options, I enquired, “What time will SQ land in Mumbai?”

AI Staff: In a very rough tone, “Sir you can calculate that.”

I asked politely again, “Can you tell me what time flight will land?”

AI Staff: “Sir you can calculate that. AI flight will reach around 1:30 PM. Subtract few hrs. and you will get it!”

Me: “What about Veg meal that I booked with AI tickets?”

AI Staff: “That you will get Sir.”

Me: “And I have 40 Kgs baggage booked in AI.”

AI Staff: “Yes sir you will get it. No…no sir, it will be 20 Kg.”

Me: “I am your customer. If you are rescheduling flight, you should match the options availed or provide some flexibility!”

AI Staff: “Let me check.”

After 5 minutes.

AI Staff: “Yes Sir, SQ will provide 20 Kgs, reach at 5:30 AM at airport, bye!”

Me: “What is the Flight number of SQ? I can see three morning flights to Mumbai! Give me PNR number.”

AI Staff: “That we will manage Sir. Reach at 5:30 AM at airport, bye!”

And the line got disconnected.

I calmed myself down. I told myself:
No Air India airlines anymore, even if it meant shelling out more money. And the thought got firmer as the event unfolded. Patriotism is good but still no Air India.

“Reach at 5:30 AM at airport!” Real worry was that if there were more surprises to this itinerary, I had no back up plan.


I called up Delhi office in India just to reconfirm the status of flight. On second ring somebody picked up phone. I felt blessed.

Me: “Hi, I am calling from Singapore, can you please check the status of flight AI 343 for tomorrow, to Mumbai.”

AI staff, India: (In Punjabi accent) “Sirjee, meri system mein toh sahi dikh raha hai. It is as per the schedule.”

I narrated the whole story and told him that I was getting calls about rescheduling of flight.

AI Staff, India: “Achcha ji essi baat hai? Mein apne manager ke system se bhi check karwa leta hoo, just for confirmation.”

After holding for sometime… “Sirjee hamare yaha toh sab sahi dikh raha hai.”

Before I could acknowledge that,

“Achcha sirjee ye batao, Singapore mein mobile saste milte hai kya?”

I kind of laughed at the question. “Han, 1 se 1.5 hazaar ka farak padta hai. Oncha model loge toh jyada farak padega.”

“Achchaji. Mera ek colleague 11000 rupaye ka Nokia ka phone 5000 rupaye mein laya hai.”

“Pata nahi deal mein liya hoga. TV lelo bohat saste milte hai.”

“Kitna farak pad jata hai? Ye LED wagra mil jata hai sasta?”

“Han, Samsung ka 28000 rupaye ka 18000 rupaye mein mil jayega.”

He gave me Singapore senior authority’s office number. I thanked him for the help and hang up.

I called up Air India Singapore office. They confirmed the change, rather politely,after I told them my complete account.

I made my parents wake at 3:30 AM. Left home by 4:30 and reached by 5:10AM. (I assumed that that was enough buffer in case of more surprises.)

At the airport, there was a long queue at AI check-in counter. Only one lady was handling all the requests. I could see at other counters of smaller airlines with good number of staff helping with check-ins. People standing in the queue were annoyed. She was slow and taking her own time in confirming tickets in the system. Then manually noting some numbers on a piece of paper, stamping it and directing towards Singapore Airlines counter.

I had early morning meeting at office but looking at the situation, there was no way I could instruct my parents and leave the business half done. We collected boarding passes from SQ counter. I instructed my parents of the next steps and what they had to do at Mumbai Airport. They went for immigration and I rushed towards taxi.

Moral: In the whole event, I lost my piece of mind. My parents lost sleep for that night. 60 dollars in taxi. Disturbed body clock. But what I gain is a huge lesson. No more Air India flights whatsoever.

“…Sarfaroshi ki tamanna…”

PS: This was not the first time AI disappointed me!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Windows 8 - Will this leap of faith really work?

I am really not a tech geek, reviewing the latest gadgets. I try to keep them in minimum number. For me it is clearly a means for comfort in life and not life itself. More than the technology I appreciate the minds behind them.

The very first book that I read distantly connected with technology business was by the name Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple, an autobiography by John Sculley, former Apple CEO. I found the book fascinating and Steve Jobs got introduced to me. I googled more on Jobs and then the Stanford Commencement Speech that he delivered in 2005 became my favorite. I played the video in loops and almost learned the speech by-heart. I had enough material and information about Steve Jobs to show off while I conversed with my friends. By this time my answer to the question, "Who is your role model?" became 'Steve Jobs'. The answer looked correct and choice - intelligent.

I watched movie 'Pirates of Silicon Valley'. The more I came to know about Steve Jobs, the less I thought I knew about him. The first Apple product that I possessed was a smart, sexy and beautiful iPod. It was gifted by my foreign return sister. I was in awe of this genius! Today when I am online, among the favorite pass times is to watch his product launch and interview videos on youtube. Fascinating is the word I would want to use for him. The simplicity and thoughtfulness behind his design is worth getting inspired for. He always knew what people wanted but were not aware of. From his Stanford speech,

"... And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary..."

are the words, that keep ringing in my head. His demise was sad and an era ended with that event. I grabbed Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson book in the first week of its launch and I was done with it pretty soon. His personality comes out very well in that book. By this time I started working on MacBook on a daily basis and the pleasure that comes out right from looking at the artistic logo on the lid, opening it and then the start up chime is tremendous.

Now, the origin of my thoughts was actually a new machine which came loaded with Windows 8 Operating system that was recently bought for my parents. First time I booted and it looked jazzy with new User interface. I thought of spending time with new machine since my parents would be using it and I end up explaining the navigation and buttons from a long distance over phone, imagining the screens. I have spent some 10+ years using a windows machine and I was sure it would all be same with some more features added.

The so much reliable 'Start' button and menu was disappearing. I thought it might have been moved to some other place in some other look-and-feel. I found myself googling and my reaction was, what the heck! There was no way that I could explain navigations and actions to my dad if I was not infront of Windows 8 OS. The last time I was pissed off with a Microsoft product was when they did not have MSOffice 2003 and 2007 integration. There was no way you could open a MSOffice 2007 file in a system with 2003 version.

For creating a 'User' for access, so much of information is required! An email account is must and most of the things point towards Microsoft Outlook and related products. I am sure Microsoft has taken a lesson or two from Apple for Software integration but without keeping usability in mind.
After spending more than 40 mins, I was convinced that it was a better idea to uninstall Windows 8 and replace it with Windows 7 or XP which is still my favorite out of all MS OS. StartIsBack came to my rescue and I was relieved that there was still a way out. I have now configured the system which looks more or less like Windows 7 from UI point of view.

Feature wise I think the product is incomplete and launched in haste. Something like, 'lets go to the market and feedbacks will tell what to do next!' Windows is a mass product and such a drastic change in Interface can backfire the sales, or has it already!

fOoD fOr thOuGhT: Beauty in a product lies in its usability and comfort. There is a place for everyone and everything. If you try to emulate somebody else, you would loose your own ground and capturing competitor's may not necessarily result in net gains!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Fundae to keep 'Ye Jawaani - Deewani'!

This is an unusual post by me. I was checking my Facebook account. One of my friend Nikunj bhai Panchal posted a status message and I got inspired to create this post!

Below are few of the Fundae you can draw from the movie 'Ye Jawaani Hai Diwaani'!
1. You don't have to get married to have kids!
2. Venice is the Dharavi of Europe!
3. If you are a Biology student, then you have to watch porn films!
4. If you have your 'bhai' producing, then films become a family affair!
5. Argentina is a station that's next to Goa!
6. Even if somebody serves bad Roohafza but with love, you should have it!
7. If you do not have time to buy a ring, you can try it with fake one!
8. Marriage doesn't happen everyday. Once happened it means daal-rice till you die!
9. If alcohol had intoxication, wouldn't that bottle go astray!
10. No matter how studious a girl be, she will always try alcohol and ask to keep it secret!
11. At 22 years studies, 25 job, 26 Girl, 30 - kids and at 60 years- wait to embrace death = Dead life!
12. Madness is when you can hear your own heart beats in your ears!
13. With a Vodka shot your dance becomes perfect!
14. The thought of spending whole life in same city, same house and same room should scare you!
15. Harry Potter part 20 is to see light someday!
16. Money is dirt of hands!
17. It is perfectly fine to splurge your friend's 2 lakh rupees in 2 days on drinks and Poker in his marriage!
18. If a girl drinks alcohol only with you, she has to be in love with you!
19. Airport is the place where you will definite get enlightened - proven fact in most of the Bollywood movies.
20. You should always listen to your dad!
21. You should always keep money if your dad is giving!
And in the end -
22. No matter how much you try, you will end up missing out few things in life! 
Jitna bhi try karo Nikunj bhai life mein kuch naa kuch toh chutegaa hii!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Take light. Enjoy life. With every passing day you are becoming old and so are your loved ones!


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